Disclaimer: Naruto is not my toy, although sometimes I wish it was. Everyone you meet here belongs to Masashi Kishimoto, I just borrow them, occasionally.

Author's Note: Everyone seems to forget, when they pair Genma with Hayate, that Hayate had a girlfriend. I decided that you really can have it both ways, but someone's going to be second best.

This hasn't been beta'd yet, but I expect to have the corrections in the next couple days. Pardon any spelling errors or missing commas in the mean time.

Warnings: ANGST! YAOI! Ménage à trois! ...and referenced past character death.

I threw some earth onto your coffin,
and thought about the speed of things.
--Robyn Hitchcock, "The Speed of Things"

Genma walked quietly into the apartment, returning from a late gate shift, and stripped his clothes off while walking toward the bathroom, where he tossed them into the laundry pile beneath the sink without looking in the mirror. He refused to reflect on that reluctance as he stood nearly naked before the toilet, stripping off his hitai-ate with one hand while he pissed and adding it to the pile. He spit the senbon he kept between his teeth -- the last marker of himself -- into the wall above the towel rack as he left the room. The small cluster of holes surrounding it suggested that this was a nightly ritual, this abandonment of the expected self.

He had lost his identity since Hayate had been murdered. Had sunk away into nothingness -- an empty void behind the mask of idle, tired contempt he wore in public. He had shared Hayate with that woman -- had been second to her in Hayate's mind -- but that was acceptable; Hayate had wanted a family, and that was the one thing Genma wouldn't give him. Nevermind "couldn't", they could perfectly well have adopted, but Genma had no tolerance for children -- and so his best friend and favourite body pillow had gone out and gotten a girlfriend. That was fine. He had survived it, lived with it, and gotten what he could have when he could get it. But he couldn't share Hayate with the grave, primarily because death was an inherently monogamous relationship -- the grave does not share its claims with the living.

He tried desperately to stop thinking, or at least to change the subject, as that spot in his back began to ache again -- just below the left shoulderblade and in toward the spine. Hayate had known instinctively where to find the spot and when to press his fever-chilled fingers into it. Genma flinched at the thought, face contorting in pain at both the brilliantly clear realisation that he would never again feel those wonderful, if slightly clammy, fingers on his back and the twisting pain that those fingers would not be relieving. He tilted his head back as he entered the bedroom, letting the tears slide down the back of his throat, rather than across his face. Forcing the bitterness back into the hole in his heart, he returned his face to the mask of quiet resignation he usually wore -- that standard slightly irritated but mostly blasé expression -- and slid into the bed between Kotetsu and Izumo.

Kotetsu, as usual, failed to wake, and slid an arm around Genma's chest, pulling him close and burying his nose in the back of the newcomer's neck. Genma smirked at the usual act of possession. Sometimes he wondered when Kotetsu would just lift a leg on him, and get it over with. On the other side of him, Izumo woke up just enough to make space, and then slid back against him, ass pressed firmly into his crotch, and with one arm reached back and claimed his right arm to snuggle. He allowed them to own him, to claim him as their own, because that's what friends do for a man who has lost his heart and his purpose.

Friends... he had five years on the two, but they had been Hayate's friends. Those three had gone to the academy together, and had been inseparable, even fifteen years after they'd met. And then, Hayate had met him, and three had become four. And now they were three again. Three driven together all the more firmly by the loss of their fourth. He groped Izumo's chest and lightly bit his shoulder at that thought -- all the more firmly, indeed. Neither of the other two would ever be Hayate, but the feeling of Kotetsu driving him into Izumo, the teeth on his back and the hot pressure on his insides as he was possessed by one and in turn possessed the mouth and ass of the other, was impossibly beautiful. They would never have Hayate back, but they had each other. Just the same, he tried to hide the scar he had on one arm, where he had bitten himself time and again to keep from calling Hayate's name as Izumo writhed beneath him.

And late at night, sometimes, he wept alone. For all that the two had been Hayate's friends, his was a different pain. He had devoted his life to someone for whom he would never be more than second best, and even that had been stolen.

Genma clutched Izumo to his chest, burying his face in the chuunin's shoulder and gently sucking at the angle where the shoulder blended into the neck. Tonight, he hurt, but the taste of skin would go far in making him forget.