What they had wasn't love. What they did couldn't be described as a release, or making love, or something sacred, or even sex. It was never anything more than fucking, plain and simple, but sometimes, Squalo liked to pretend.

Sometimes, he managed to convince himself, even, that there was a little bit of affection in the way Xanxus grabbed his hips hard enough to bruise while pounding him against a mattress (or a wall, or a desk, or a floor). Sometimes, he thought there was some kind of love there when he was referred to as "trash" a little bit less than usual, or when his work was described as "not completely useless, but still shit," or when his kisses weren't rejected as fiercely as usual. Sometimes, he almost thought they'd have a future together that wouldn't be all about their latest assignment, or getting rid of a "problem," or overthrowing some new family nobody cared about. And as long as he could convince himself that Xanxus cared, even the tiniest bit, Squalo was happy.

There was something in their relationship, some seeds of affection, maybe even love, taking root and growing in the shadows, unacknowledged and unwanted, and Xanxus hated it, hated to admit it, so sometimes, he liked to pretend.

Sometimes, he managed to convince himself, even, that he didn't care, but it was difficult. There were times when he'd almost smile, or say thank-you, or even let Squalo kiss him, and then he'd remember that he didn't feel anything other than disdain for his rain guardian, and he'd snap back to reality and remind himself that Squalo wasn't worthy of his time, no matter how useful and loyal and tight he could be. Sometimes, he'd convince himself that they only fucked because they needed the release, and not because they cared about each other or any sappy shit like that. But sometimes, Xanxus couldn't convince himself that neither of them felt anything toward the other, and sometimes, it almost made him happy.

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