a single glass of love, mr. bartender
don't ask I just suddenly woke up and was all like I NEED TO WRITE THIS and aww warning for Haizaki's dirty mouth which he seems unable to live without
There are countless things Haizaki can list to expect after a tiring day of work, but being dragged along to a gay bar is not one. If he were his old, arrogant high school self, he might have given his co-workers a taste of blood, but he is speaking of the head of the department he is in now, and he is already long enough in the company to understand the unmoving hierarchy.
"Picking up men is good. They don't get pregnant." One of his bosses says, hands moving indecently around Haizaki's backside. In his head, the guy vomits blood caused by a kick in the stomach.
"Wear condoms." Haizaki thinks to say but relents. He can't risk pissing off the people who provide him with money. Maybe he will give up his life when one of the bastards makes a move on him.
The gay bar they enter is called Swan's Block, which Haizaki fails to comprehend the meaning of. The light is dim and the room feels dingy. His co-workers have strayed and spoken to men who look barely adults. Haizaki sighs and sits by the bar, deciding to drown himself in alcohol to forget such night. At least none of his co-workers is interested in wooing him.
But of course, Fate seems to be having Her fun with slamming him into piles of unexpected occurrences at the moment, since he lifts his head for a breath and meets the eyes of one Himuro Tatsuya, whom he fails to ever forget. How would anyone forget such guy, anyway? Haizaki has been having dreams of punching Himuro's face for years. It doesn't happen every night, obviously, but it happens often enough that the urge to do that in real life is getting overwhelming.
Himuro obviously remembers him as well. He has stopped wiping the glass and is staring at Haizaki, slack-jawed and so unlike the Himuro Tatsuya of the Winter Cup of their high school years; the mighty, proud Himuro Tatsuya. Haizaki finds out about this thing called 'growing up'. Himuro must have also been caught in it.
Really, though. Does 'growing up' make Himuro realize that he may have batted for the other team?
"Your order, sir?" Himuro asks instead, in all his professional glory. Haizaki has just now noticed the bartender uniform. Well, that's interesting. He never knows Himuro has a passion for bartending, but then again, he never knows Himuro except as that one guy with the hot American woman. (Another mystery, that one is. If there is a sexy woman nearby, why does Himuro look away?)
"Just cola." Haizaki replies. There is no way in hell that he will let himself get intoxicated now. This is much too interesting to be a part of his many drunken stupors.
Himuro hands him a glass of it. Haizaki grabs his wrist before the man can turn around.
"I hope you aren't planning to break my wrist, Haizaki-kun. It's a vital part of my life." Himuro says coldly and Haizaki screams JACKPOT! This is the Himuro Tatsuya I know inside.
"Does anyone know you're gay?" Haizaki purrs, the long-awaited feelings of being dominant envelop him. "Does that 'younger brother' of you know? How about the woman? Have you come out yet?"
"If you are attempting to threaten me, Haizaki-kun, it's useless." Himuro swats his hand away, massaging his arm. "How about you? You're in a gay bar yourself."
"It's for work." Haizaki answers, momentarily forgetting his own situation.
As though uncalled for, Himuro laughs. "You're a salaryman now?"
"What is so funny?" Haizaki growls, even though he understands Himuro's reaction. No one expects the Big Bad Haizaki Shougo to be a plain salaryman cajoling people from other companies into signing contracts and uttering sugar-coated words.
But no one expects the Intense Himuro Tatsuya to be a bartender in a gay bar either, anyway.
"Or are you actually not gay?" Haizaki asks, raising an eyebrow and sipping his cola. "You can just be working here because there are no other places that would hire you."
"What an explanation, Haizaki-kun. But no, I'm working here because I am gay." Himuro leaves for a moment to take care of a guest. Haizaki eyes the guest warily. No one he knows, for once. Fate must already be satisfied with messing around with his already messed-up life.
"You had that American chick, though?"
Himuro looks at him in distaste. "Alex is an important friend of mine." He points at Haizaki's empty glass and asks, "More cola?"
"Sure." Haizaki shrugs. "But why? You can get all the girls you want with your look."
Himuro, for his defense, looks genuinely surprised at the veiled compliment. "I'm glad you think so." He lets out a wry laugh. "But I like men."
"First time I ever met gays." Haizaki hiccups, cursing his glass. "Do you pick up men for sex like my bosses do or are you actually in a serious relationship with one?"
"It's not that easy." Himuro's voice is low and cold and so like him, but Haizaki feels chills over his spine.
Haizaki downs his cola and asks for another glass. Himuro is a whole new puzzle spread out in front of him. He may have indulged in more stripping-Himuro-with-his-eyes-to-solve-the-mystery activity has the man himself not gone out of the way and finally asked about his now-trimmed hair.
"Shut up." Haizaki breathlessly replies, face as red as the cherry Himuro has put on his glass earlier. And just maybe, a little, with a very small bit of himself, Haizaki admits that Himuro's thin smile will make up for it until he completely uncovers the mystery that is Himuro Tatsuya the Bartender.
Haizaki is severely embarrassed by the fact that he has ended up drunk from cola (a horrendous number of glass, yes, but it was only a fucking cola) and woken up in a room he knows is not his own. At least he still has his underwear on, which means that even if he is some guy's home, he hasn't slept with them. No pain, he relieves. There is an alarm clock by the bedside table and it says 05:00 on a Friday. He is about to allow himself another snuggle with the pillows when he sniffs Himuro's scent on them and freaks out because why do I know how he smells.
"You're awake." Himuro pops out from the threshold, holding a can of coffee and in his briefs.
Haizaki squeaks (still in his manly way).
"You fell asleep on the bar and your co-workers abandoned you." Himuro begins in way of explaining, throwing another can of cold coffee at Haizaki's hands. "I couldn't quite leave such a nubile young man to fend for himself now, could I?"
Haizaki protests at the description and sighs, slurping the coffee noisily. "Answer me this: we didn't do anything, did we?"
"I wouldn't prey on someone in his sleep." Himuro says with a heavy laugh. "And you're not gay, are you, Haizaki-kun? It won't be appropriate."
"'Haizaki-kun' is a mouthful." Accurately landing his empty canned coffee inside the nearest trash can in Himuro's bedroom, Haizaki huffs and cranes his neck. "'Shougo' is fine. By the way, wear some clothes. It burns my eyes."
Himuro blinks. "This is how I dress at home. And this is my home."
"I'm not into looking at a man's body." Haizaki interjects. "I prefer curves."
Himuro lets out a breathy laugh and poses in a disturbingly suggestive position that allows his thighs to be in Haizaki's clear view. "Oh, I do have some curves, Shougo-kun."
Haizaki shrieks (not quite manfully anymore) and bombards him with pillows.
Apparently, Himuro has cooked them some breakfast, which is basically just sunny-side-up eggs and toasts, but Haizaki eats them gratefully. Since he's been working away as a salaryman, most of his meals are from convenience stores or the company's cafeteria. Himuro claims that he has learnt some cooking skills from Tiger, hands on hips and chin lifted in pride.
"Very informative." Haizaki snipes sarcastically, an unfamiliar feeling of possessiveness rising up in his stomach. "What do you usually cook for lunch?"
"Anything I have the ingredients for, of course." Himuro answers as he sits across the table. "I don't make dinners, though. My shift starts after six."
"When does your shift end?"
"Three a.m." Himuro winks. "You can pick me up around that time, Shougo-kun."
"Who says I'm picking you up from your goddamned work?" Haizaki fails to stop another unmanly squeak from escaping. "Have you slept today?"
"I will, after you leave."
Haizaki resolves to leave after a quick shower. The moment he waves goodbye at Himuro, he surprises himself by hoping that Himuro will get enough sleep.
"I didn't expect this." Himuro breathes when Haizaki shouts at him for a martini from the bar.
"They thought I was fucking you. The bastards." Haizaki groans onto his sleeves, violently downing the drink and asking for another glass.
"Ah." Himuro has the gall to chuckle. "That's a bother."
"You don't look at all bothered." Haizaki points out, allowing himself a childish pout in his fit of rage, long since hidden to suit the society he is currently in.
"I'm gay, in case you forget. It's nothing to worry about. Rumors like that tend to die when people see me with another man." Himuro replies calmly, pouring him another drink. "But you're not, Shougo-kun. Why are you here, anyway?"
"Well, you're here."
Himuro's eyes widen at that and he falls into another laughter. "You're in a gay bar to complain about being mistaken for sleeping with another guy to me?"
"Shut up!" Haizaki growls, covering his face with his hand. The heat is burning his palm. "I have no one I can talk to about this."
The glasses clang against each other. "Yeah, I guess you wouldn't." Himuro whispers. For a moment, he looks young and bright and beautiful.
Haizaki tries to bleach his brain with thoughts of boobs then.
It's 03:07 a.m. on a Sunday and Haizaki wonders why he is standing outside Swan's Block with a cigarette hanging between his teeth. He is dressed in t-shirt and baggy trousers and basketball shoes, a reminiscent of the past, of the rosy high school days that are not really rosy in actuality.
It's 03:10 a.m. when Himuro peeks out of the back door and pats him in the shoulder, asking the question Haizaki has been giving himself since he decides to wait out until Himuro finishes with his shift.
"Are you here to pick me up from work? For real?" Himuro is looking at him in glee.
"I just happened to be in the area." Haizaki lies; Himuro sees through it. "All right, I might have headed here with picking you up in mind."
Himuro's lips curl ominously. "What an honour. Shall we go do something?"
Haizaki shrugs. He hasn't been thinking things through since Himuro Tatsuya, professional gay bartender, serves him cola. "Basketball?"
Himuro's clinging onto his arm is a tad bit unnecessary, but the amusement in his humming may be worth it.
It becomes an unspoken routine, somewhat. Haizaki will pick him up from work barely before dawn and they will play street basketball for a while before returning to Himuro's apartment. Himuro will cook breakfast and they will eat and chatter, and Haizaki always leaves before seven, having to go fulfill his duty as a devoted salaryman on the surface.
"Won't you need sleep?" Himuro asks one time, looking somehow worried in all his nagging mother-like glory.
"I finished work at five p.m. Contrary to popular belief, I'm good with time management."
Himuro thinks that's the funniest thing in the whole wide world.
Rinse and repeat.
The one time Haizaki decides to visit Swan's Block for a drink instead of a basketball game with Himuro during a week day is the one time he stumbles upon one of his bosses again, obviously flirting with a younger man and having not noticed him, much to his relief. Except, Haizaki watches in horror, the younger man his boss is flirting with is Himuro fucking Tatsuya.
Haizaki has no grace whatsoever about eavesdropping and does exactly that, in safe distance from recognition and for listening to all words spoken.
"So I heard my subordinate has been courting you." His boss says.
"Your subordinate?" Himuro feigns cluelessness, Haizaki is sure of it.
"Haizaki. Don't lie, I've heard things from various witnesses." What is this: a crime interrogation?
"Ah, Shougo-kun, you mean." Himuro claps his hands together in understanding. "I think you're misunderstanding something, sir. He is straight."
"You never know." His boss shrugs, hiccupping.
"If anything," Himuro's voice picks up, his eyes sweeping across the bar, and Haizaki knows Himuro means for him to hear his next words. "I'm the one courting him."
Haizaki leaves before ordering anything, and doesn't come back for several days.
He later insists that he isn't wallowing in self-pity in his absence. That's for prepubescent kids. Haizaki is a responsible, capable adult. And so is Himuro.
According to Haizaki's list of things to know about Himuro Tatsuya (the Bartender, not the young high school boy he once was), compiled over the few weeks they had been hanging out together, Himuro Tatsuya is a manipulative bastard. And at the same time, he is a kind, gentle man whose smiles blind.
"I'm not cut out for this." Haizaki moans, slamming a pillow onto his couch. He bets no one else he knows ever gets in such a situation. At least they don't have someone like Himuro openly claiming to be wooing them.
Then again, Haizaki is a lucky one that Himuro is the guy aiming for his ass. For one thing, Himuro is quite good-looking and he has some manners. (Not that Haizaki cares, either way. He remembers punching people's guts out without a care in the world about their face or personality.) There can be other men out there trying to push him onto a bed with them, but Himuro never forces him to do what he doesn't like.
That's the problem here: Himuro cares. It's suffocating.
Two weeks have passed when Haizaki decides fuck all my manly pride and enters Swan's Block right after he finishes a late-night extra work nearing midnight. The first thing he notices is that Himuro is nowhere behind the bar and his boss is seated on one chair, flushed and drunk. It'll be okay, Haizaki tells himself, I just need to give him a taste of my punch for ruining our friendship with his homosexual desires. He halts, and freaks out inside, but all the while maintaining a cool outside. WHAT FRIENDSHIP.
As he battles internally with something incorporeal that may or may not exist, Himuro comes out from under the bar, looking disheveled. Haizaki gulps when Himuro brushes off some hair on his eyes, staring down at the sweats dripping down his neck. And damn, I never knew a mole can look so sexy.
And then, his boss just ups and strokes Himuro's chin, purring, "I know of a good hotel."
Haizaki glares at Himuro and mouths an inaudible, "don't you dare." But Himuro (who, for some reason, has not noticed his presence as of yet) just smiles and leans closer to Haizaki's boss' face.
All of Haizaki's secret urges to wham someone in the face and throw them down into a ditch shoot out of his eyes as he rushes to the two men, pushing on his boss and making him topple on the ground, but not before hitting many chairs during the fall.
"What?" Himuro voices, frozen and stunned. "What?" He repeats when Haizaki grabs his person and lifts him up across the bar. "Um," he adds nervously the moment he sees Haizaki's boss on the ground and the other guests watching them as though they are shooting a film.
"Not sorry, boss. This guy is my bitch." Haizaki spits, holding Himuro in place with an arm around his thin neck. His boss stares blankly at them.
"HIMURO." The owner of the bar exclaims, horrified at the scene. "WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING."
"About that," Himuro holds up a hand, coughing into a fist. "I'm Shougo-kun's bitch, apparently." He dares to add, "it's official now," with a satisfied laugh immediately after.
No one is surprised when the two of them get kicked out through the front door, quite literally. Haizaki hopes the pain of gay sex is not as horrid.
"I just hit my boss." Haizaki finally says when he has collected himself, his balance failing him as they walk along the crowded district. "How am I going to pay for my own meals now."
"You can live in my apartment. I can cook some food for us, too. We just have to share the rent fee." Himuro replies calmly, nearly skipping in his steps. This is actually the first time Haizaki has seen Himuro outside the bar with his bartender uniform. He never knows how nicely the clothes hug Himuro's figure.
"My fucking god." Haizaki claws his own face, ruffles his hair, and quits being manly altogether. "I'M GAY. I wasn't until I met you. You gave me some of your gay germs."
Himuro laughs and laughs and laughs and squeezes his arm, brushing his lips against the sleeve. "I prefer to call it the Himuro Effect. Or the Tatsuya Effect. Whichever strikes your fancy, Shougo-kun."
There are hundreds of questions Haizaki wants to ask Fate, but first, he sighs and mutters, awaiting the tears to fall from his eyes, "Why you? Why Himuro Tatsuya?"
"Who knows?" Himuro hums, and he is so happy; so pleased. "Why you? Why Haizaki Shougo?" And it occurs to Haizaki then that all they have been doing the whole time is trying to uncover each other.
"I'm going to need a drink." Haizaki palms. Maybe some cola. He doesn't see the point of forgetting the night he hooks up with Himuro Tatsuya, men-seducer extraordinaire, (otherwise known as the night before he gets fired/demoted/humiliated/become penniless/whatever) as another happening in another drunken night.