Something in the Water

“You want me to do WHAT?”

“You don’t have to take the job, Kudo.” Kakei absentmindedly stroked Saiga’s hair, having long grown used to the larger man falling asleep in his lap. “Just go back to work if you find the terms unacceptable, I’m sure I can—”

Kazahaya cut him off in the usual way. “I need the money.” The edges of Kakei’s lips turned up and the boy shuddered. He hated that grin, it was the harbinger of ultimate evil. “I just don’t see,” he barreled on, determined not to the The Grin faze him, “why we have to do it together.” He made a face at Rikuo, who was lounging beside him like nothing was out of the ordinary. “Can’t we just take separate baths?”

“That would defeat the whole purpose, Kudo.” Kakei pushed Saiga’s head out of the way and drew a small bottle from the pocket of his lab coat, placing it on the table beside his chicken salad sandwich. “Our client is developing a very special kind of bubble bath, and you two to have test it. We’ll only be able to see the full effects if the two of you bathe together.” A hard gleam came to the older man’s eyes. “This is non-negotiable. Take the job or don’t. It pays very well.”

Kazahaya didn’t answer, but scooped the bottle from the table and stalked upstairs. Rikuo followed, wordlessly.

***

“You first.”

“What difference does it make?”

“None.” Kazahaya inched away from the tub. “You first.”

Rikuo smirked. “Afraid I’ll show you up?”

“Shut up and get in the bath!” Kazahaya cursed Rikuo’s natural ability to make him blush like a schoolgirl and clutched his towel more tightly around his waist. “I want to get this over with!”

The taller boy chuckled a little (mockingly, if you asked Kazahaya) and dropped his towel, slipping into the steaming water in one fluid motion that seemed almost unnatural for a man of his size. Kazahaya scowled. “Has to be mister high and mighty even when he’s getting into a bathtub,” he mumbled to himself, dropping his own towel and plunking himself into the water in a much less graceful manner.

They waited a few moments, neither entirely sure what they were supposed to be doing. Kazahaya was uncomfortably aware that the bathtub was simply not built to accommodate two people and shifted accordingly, a futile attempt to make sure that no part of his body was touching Rikuo because this was already weird enough.

“Quit splashing,” Rikuo growled, flicking some of the scented suds in Kazahaya’s direction.

“I’ll splash if I want to!” Kazahaya flicked some bubbles back.

“It was my bathroom first, and I say no splashing.” The taller boy smirked.

Kazahaya collapsed backwards, sending a wave of strawberry-scented bathwater over the sides. “Well, what am I supposed to do? I don’t even know what we’re waiting for!”

“I know as much as you do.” Rikuo grabbed a towel from the rack and wiped the wet tiles, glaring at his roommate all the while. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out soon enough, we always do.”

“What I can’t figure out is why we both have to be in here. What could two guys do in a bathtub together?”

Rikuo didn’t say anything, he just smirked.

“No!” Kazahaya nearly leapt out of the tub because that smirk always meant Very Bad Things, slightly perverted things, things which made him very uncomfortable by being less unpleasant than they should be. “It’s not that! It’s definitely not that!”

“What else could it be?” Rikuo leaned back, endlessly amused by Kazahaya’s reaction. “There’s probably an aphrodisiac in the bubbles. Only a matter of time, really.”

“You’re lying!”

“I’m only theorizing. But really, what else cold it be?”

“You don’t have to say it so calmly! We might… we might…”

“Fuck?” Wow, he could barely believe he actually said that. Rikuo leaned forward. He didn’t think he was right about the bubbles, but the warm bath and the fruity scent of the water and Kazahaya’s foot brushing against his leg made him feel a little bold, a little reckless. “Would it really be all that bad?”

“Yes.” Maybe. No, probably not, when he thought about it, but thinking about it was something that Kazahaya was trying very, very hard not to do. “We’re men. It’s disgusting.”

“Is it?” Rikuo leaned closer. They were practically breathing each other’s breaths now.

Kazahaya looked at Rikuo.

Rikuo looked at Kazahaya.

A brief moment of silence followed, and then all of a sudden noses were bumping and teeth were clacking and tongues were exploring delightful new places.

Not surprisingly, it was Kazahaya who pushed away first. “What are you doing?!

“The same thing you were doing.” Damn, he’d really hoped that he was about to end months of unresolved sexual tension there.

“Don’t compare me with you!” And then they were doing it again and Rikuo would’ve choked in surprise if it hadn’t meant stopping and oh god the little twerp was so much better at this than he’d imagined.

Kazahaya pulled away and actually smacked him, like some woman out of a bad romance novel. “Stop that!”

“You started it that time!”

“I did not! When I start something like that, you’ll know it!” And he did, and Rikuo knew it, and he liked it very much.

“It’s just the bubbles,” Kazahaya said the next time, “I still hate you and your tough guy attitude.”

“Right, right,” Rikuo agreed, “the bubbles.” And this time he started it, and Kazahaya knew, and Rikuo imagined he liked it.

***

Kazahaya visibly twitched. “Could you repeat that, Kakei?”

“I said, ‘it was just ordinary bubblebath.'”

“The strawberry kind,” Saiga added. “It’s on sale this week.”

“But you said—”

“The client was doing a psychological study.” Kakei finished stacking a fistful of bills into two piles. “Here’s part in cash, the rest will be added to you paycheck.”

Kazahaya was in such a state of shock that he didn’t even grab his hard-earned money. “So you mean I,” at this point he made some unintelligible motions with his hands, “with him, for no reason?”

“Thanks,” Rikuo muttered dryly.

“I suppose you did, Kudo. Oh,” Kakei checked his watch, “closing time. You two do lockup, Saiga and I have business elsewhere this evening. Come on, Saiga.”

The tall, dark man grinned at the boys and waved. The phrases “You pervert!” and “You weren’t complaining!” followed them out the door.

“Psychological study?”

“I’d have liked to hear you come up with something better.”

“Aw.” A kiss. “You’re deliciously evil, you know that?”

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