Saeki dug his toes into the sand of one of Chiba's best beaches. The beach was one of the best in Saeki's opinion because it was the beach he'd grown up by, the beach that all of them had played at during elementary school and the beach where Saeki and Fuji had teamed up during that insane volleyball tournament. Saeki had always loved the beach in general, and this beach in particular. Digging his toes into the sand Saeki reminisced while small particles of sand scratched at his skin. He'd find sand there for months now, ground in particles of homesickness.

The sun was setting, a warm red sliver of sun shading the sky around it a gorgeous orange and purple, fading into midnight blue. Couples still walked the beach, men and women arm in arm, some with a dog trotting in front of them. A young couple laughed and briefly engaged in a splash fight in the warm surf.

Saeki sighed.

Before walking down the beach Saeki checked on the folded up hem of his black pants, then adjusted his hold on his socks and shoes. The pants had been expensive, bought for Saeki by his assistant because Saeki couldn't be arsed to check on name brands or fabrics. If Saeki wasn't the head of an extremely well to do start up company Saeki would just buy a suit off the rack, like a normal guy. Still, he had an 'image' to maintain, the sort of image that involved extremely pricy suits and extremely pricy women.

Saeki sighed.

Walking down the beach Saeki ignored the couples headed in the other direction, back to town, back home. It wasn't that Saeki was heading anywhere special, he had just needed to clear his head. In a minute or two Saeki would turn around and join the other couples heading back to town, and then he would head back to the wake. Head back to the group of gathered former tennis players mourning the loss of someone who had touched their lives. The funeral had been enough to make one feel claustrophobic, people upon people upon people all jammed into the tiny living room of Ojii's house while Ojii's grandson (his only grandson) thanked mourners for coming. Ojii's body had looked pale and fragile, like brittle twigs under a cellophane wrapping. To Saeki's eyes he had not looked like Ojii at all.

Ojii would always be the old man who had stolen Saeki's milk, and told Saeki that he had good eyes.

"Saeki!" The sound of feet hitting sand at a run was distinctive, a thumping noise that made Saeki's ankles ache just at the thought. Turning Saeki looked over his shoulder. Bane was dressed in a loose, cheap, slightly threadbare suit, but he had it rolled up as well, his shoes hooked on two fingers on his left hand. The two top buttons of Bane's suit were undone, exposing Bane's tanned collarbone to starlight.

Bane looked good. He'd looked good at the wake, crowded against a wall surrounded by old women and only slightly younger men.

"Bane-san." Saeki stopped, turned, and smiled. It wasn't his business smile, but it also wasn't the easy and relieved smile Saeki had used with Itsuki and Ryou earlier that evening. It was a smile that was slightly strained at the edges, like Saeki was suppressing emotions he knew he shouldn't feel.

Saeki was. And he knew he shouldn't feel those things but… fourteen wasn't all that long ago, and seventeen was even closer.

"Ryou saw you duck out." Bane stated, slinging an arm around Saeki's shoulder. Bane's smile was strain free, bright and easy and stretching over the bottom of his tanned face. Bane looked like a guy who spent his days outside, while Saeki knew he was Tokyo pale, a lifetime of the beach not standing up to days of board meetings. "I thought you might come here."

"I just needed some time to think." Saeki's shoulders tightened up, but relaxed under forceful persuasion. It wasn't Bane's fault, really, and Saeki ignores the worried look Bane shoots him. "The house was really noisy."

"I know what you mean." Bane squeezes Saeki's shoulder and then his arm falls away, his hand tucking itself into Bane's back pocket. Bane walks easily beside Saeki, like he feels nothing about what they once were and like walking on sand is the easiest thing in the world. Saeki's legs are starting to get tired, working out on a treadmill once a week is nothing compared to walking on sand regularly. "The old team was thinking about going out to eat, maybe drink. Ryou offered the house, Ittchan offered his family's café. You got a preference?"

"I was thinking about just heading back to the hotel." Saeki admits. "Tomorrow they're going to bury him, and then I have a jet waiting for me."

"You can't just fly in and leave!" Bane protests. "At least have dinner with us."

Saeki wavers. It's not that he does not want to spend time with the team, but Saeki knows agreeing to dinner will be agreeing to drinks which will be agreeing to staying late…

Saeki looks over at Bane and shrugs. "Alright. But only dinner."

Bane grins, "That's our Saeki." Bane says while throwing his arm back over Saeki's shoulders. "C'mon. Ittchan's first, then Ryou's. Atsushi's in town too, can you tell them apart yet?"

Saeki laughs, and lets Bane drag him off.

Dinner is great, it's just as good as Saeki remembers, warm and filling and brimming with fresh seafood. Itsuki cooks it, and serves it, and the whole team dives in. Davide is one horrible pun after another. He apparently has a show on the local radio network, an hour filled with bad puns and the occasional interview. Saeki promises to tune into it some time, but he knows he never will. For one thing, one night of Davide's puns is enough to last you a year. The dishes get cleared away and they head the short walk to Ryou and Atsushi's house to drink. Their parents are on a cruise and unable to make it back for Ojii's funeral, so the house is all theirs. Ryou breaks out the sake and Atsushi drags out cases of beer. It isn't long before all of them are drunk.

Saeki eventually drags himself away from the festivities and the stories long enough to say 'I have a business meeting tomorrow! I'll see you all at the funeral' and drag himself in the direction of his hotel.

"Wait!" Bane is on the front porch waving a cell phone at Saeki. "I called a cab. Let me go back with you."

Saeki shouldn't agree, he shouldn't, it's not like Bane's staying at a hotel or needs a cab to walk the half mile home to his own place, but he does. They lean against each other in the cab, half drunk and Saeki half-asleep. Saeki might like to claim that it's the buzz or the way the world is edged in the fog of physical and emotional exhaustion that has him not saying with goodbye to Bane at the door to the hotel, or in the lobby, or even in front of his room. The room key is slightly slippery in Saeki's hand, he's sweating. The hallway is not small, it is large enough to allow Bane to stand close behind him while still affording personal space some respect. Bane stands far closer, his body heat radiating through the thin layers of their suits.

The door swings open ad Saeki steps inside. He motions that Bane should come too, and the door swings shut behind Bane. The hotel room's lights are off. Saeki rests his hand on the wall just under the first switch, the one that will turn on the light in the small entrance hallway.

His assistant had offered to book him the best room possible. Saeki was more frugal than that.

"Sae-san." Bane's arms wrap around Saeki's waist and draw Saeki back. Saeki rarely feels small. He might not be a big man, neither terribly tall nor terribly broad, but he has a lot of confidence. Held in Bane's arms, almost able to tuck his head under Bane's chin, Saeki feels small. "I missed you." Bane murmurs into the top of Saeki's head.

Saeki pushes out of Bane's arms. "I am going to take a shower."

"I could-" Saeki cuts Bane off by flicking on the wall switch.

"The minibar's fully stocked."

Saeki drops his suit coat onto a hanger and then loosens his tie as he walks further into his hotel room. He flips in the light for the main room and turns back around. Bane is standing in the hallway, his broad shoulders and long neck thrown into sharp relief by the pale white hallway light. "Lock the deadbolt, Bane-san." Saeki drops his tie onto the floor before closing the bathroom door behind him. Saeki pushes the button to lock the doorknob and leans back against the door. The white painted wood is cool against his back.

The bathroom is lit in a wash of white. White shower, white bath, white sink, white toilet, white lights. The mirror reflects Saeki's pale white face back at him, a pallid shock under unruly hair. Saeki grips the edge of the sink and stares into his own eyes. He has amazing eyesight, great hand-eye coordination, and the ability to track quick movements. Saeki has an agile mind, he is good with math, he can spot a penny saved and a dollar earned. Saeki handles people every day, his assistant, his secretary, his clients, his friends, his stock holders.

He has no ability to control what is going to happen tonight.

Unbuttoning his shirt, which cost more than Bane's yearly salary, Saeki hangs it carelessly on the towel rack, then undoes his belt. It's a designer belt, black leather, with a heavy silver buckle. Saeki's personal shopper thought it brought out Saeki's eyes. It goes onto the floor, while Saeki's pants get tossed next to the sink. Saeki kicks off his socks and shoes and tosses his underwear in the direction of his pants. The Calvin Klein boxer-briefs slither to the floor.

Saeki steps into the bathtub, wiggling his toes. He has sand stuck in between them. He probably has sand in his socks too, and trapped in the hem of his pants.

Turning the shower on Saeki closes his eyes and ducks his head under the hot spray. The water is too hot, the pressure not hard enough, but it's enough for a quick shower to prepare himself for what comes later. Saeki closes his eyes while he preps himself and tries not to remember.

They had been in their second year of middle school when they first tried 'hooking up'. They were just kids then, barely thirteen, old enough to get erections at inappropriate things and young enough that they were willing toe experiment. Both of them knew that it was 'kind of gay' to touch and stroke another guy's penis, but the whole tennis team was 'kind of gay'. Atsushi had just transferred to St. Rudolph's and Ryou was moping around with the rest of the team when they tried it the first time. Saeki was trusted enough by their captain that he was offered the chance to lock up, to try it out. Saeki was pretty sure from the wink that the captain had given him that the young man knew what was going on. He and Bane had sat on the bench in front of the lockers and touched each other, just their dicks, tugging and pulling, both of them coming embarrassingly fast.

It evolved from there.

They hadn't been boyfriends, and they hadn't been sex friends, they hadn't even been experimenting. They were just two friends who liked to jerk each other off. And eventually suck each other off.

And twice they had sex.

The first time had been painful, messy, but fun. Saeki had walked funny the next day and repeatedly hit Bane in the arm, but they had smiled and laughed about it. The second time had been slower, longer, both of them had known what they were doing. They did it on a big blanket on the beach, under the light of a crescent moon. The temperature had been balmy, the sound of waves crashing on the sand almost enough to cover up the noises Saeki made when Bane pushed inside of him. Saeki wasn't much of a screamer, but he could moan really loudly.

Things stopped the next day.

Saeki rinsed himself off, clean all over inside and out. He stepped out of the shower and dripped on the Hotel's rug before picking up a towel and roughly scrubbing at his face and hair. The towels here were fluffy, soft, and almost warm, not the rough scrub that Saeki had been hoping for. Pink and dripping slightly Saeki wrapped another towel around his waist and unlocked the door. He walked out into the main room and looked around.

Bane was sitting on the bed. His suit jacket was laid beside him and his shirt was unbuttoned to the waist. Saeki licked his lips, looking up and down Bane's toned physique. Just because Bane worked with kids all day didn't mean he was letting himself go to waste. Eyes working up from the line of sparse black hair above Bane's belt to Bane's navel and up over Bane's ribs Saeki took his time lifting his gaze to Bane's eyes. Bane was looking straight at him, his gaze hot and hungry.

"The shower is free."

Bane gets up and walks past Saeki, their shoulders and arm brushing. Saeki takes a deep breath.

Beer, ocean salt, and incense.

"What excuse did you give your wife?" Saeki asks before Bane can close the bathroom door.

Bane's response is oddly echoed and muffled by the bathroom's acoustics and the half-closed door. "She knows I was going out drinking with everyone."


The bathroom door shuts with a quiet click. Saeki returns to toweling at his hair. Would the others know what was going on? It was possible, they were not stupid. Perhaps they thought that Bane was taking this chance to see Saeki to talk things out.

Saeki flopped face forward onto the bed, burrowed his face in pillows that smelled like starchy detergent. Saeki's chest rubbed at the rough coverlet and Bane's jacket rubbed at his stomach. Rolling onto his side Saeki stared up at the hotel's bland white ceiling. Reaching down Saeki pulled Bane's suit jacket up to his face and took a deep breath.

Incense overwhelmed him, the memory if the wake the first to come, but others soon after. Saeki stood up to and walked to the coat hangers, his towel falling off from where it was wrapped around his shoulders halfway across the room. Hanging Bane's suit jacket up Saeki listened to the rhythmic pounding of the shower.

Miaka had crushed on Bane for years. Years and years and years. She was two years younger than Bane, and had been one of the scrappy brats clinging to the fences while Bane played tennis. She went on to join the girl's tennis team and during high school she was always asking Bane for advice on her form. Saeki knew what that was about, but he wasn't dating Bane, they weren't involved in any sort of relationship. Not a relationship like that, anyway. Miaka made Bane chocolate for Valentine's day, and he gave her gifts on White Day. Saeki had no reason to feel jealous at the time, both he and Bane received a number of gifts on Valentine's day.

Miaka had confessed to Bane under the school's tree of sweet nothings. Bane had stood with his back to the tree, Miaka holding him there by his shoulders. Miaka was almost as tall as Bane, and she had always kept her hair tomboy short. Bane accepted, of course, ignoring the way Saeki's scratches from the night before hurt when Miaka pushed him back against the tree, or the way his collar rubbed at the kiss marks when Miaka threw her arms around Bane's neck and dragged him into a kiss.

There had been a noticeable change between them after that. Then Saeki had graduated, left for Tokyo, started his company a few years later…

The door to the bathroom squeaked when it opened this time. Bane stood there with a white hotel towel wrapped around his waist, water dripping down his collarbone to slip in droplets down his stomach and disappearing into the towel. Saeki took one step to stand in front of Bane, his fingers catching on the knot in Bane's towel and causing it to drop to the floor. Saeki pressed his lips softly to the hollow of Bane's throat, flicked his tongue out and licked droplets of water off Bane's skin.

Bane wrapped his arms around Saeki's back, slipped them underneath the towel to rub over Saeki's ass. The towel slipped down Saeki's legs and they were now pressed against each other skin to skin.

Tomorrow, Bane would wake early to be out of the room before Saeki. He would rush home and change into a new suit. Bane would kiss his wife on the cheek, and playfully greet his children, picking them up before taking his wife and children to Ojii's funeral. They would sit near the front with all of the other families in Chiba that had known Ojii. Afterwards Bane would laugh and talk to the parents of his students, and only once would he glance in Saeki's direction. Bane will then kiss his wife on the cheek and whisper 'I love you' in her ear.

Tomorrow, Saeki would ignore the faintly warm depression in the hotel bed while he got ready for the day. He would dress in the suit bought for him and picked for this trip by his assistant. Saeki would grab coffee from Starbucks and arrive at the funeral early, taking a seat near the back where he hopes not to be noticed. After the funeral he will place a flower in Ojii's casket and chat with family and old friends. When Bane looks his way Saeki will ignore it. Then Saeki will fly back to Tokyo for an urgent business meeting, on the way he will answer all of the urgent messages his assistant left him in the two days he was gone.

That is what they will do at tomorrow.

But tonight Saeki slips to his knees, his thumbs catching on the cradle made by Bane's hips. Bane's cock is heavy on his tongue, salty, and Saeki's eyelids flutter close when he sucks on it.

Tomorrow they will separate. For tonight they have each other.