Just Getting Started

 

Secret Santa gift for Sam!

 

It started out pretty normal.

“You’re off next Thursday, right?” Yata leaned against the wall outside of the Homra bar, skateboard under his right arm while his left was held up, the glowing holographic screen from his PDA displaying the tiny figure of his conversation partner in front of him. “Come over Wednesday night.”

That was a common request. He’d made it dozens of times in the months after they’d resolved things, initially with a kind of uncertain awkwardness but with increasing confidence in the months that followed. They went for meals, played co-op at Yata’s apartment until late into the night, walked around aimlessly while just chatting about various things, and even once went to a festival together (minus the yukata). There was nothing unusual about this time.

Saruhiko’s voice drifted back to him, across the connection. “Any reason in particular?”

“There’s this new movie out that looks pretty good – Bandou’s lending me his entertainment account.” Which he could access from his gaming console, conveniently enough. “I’ll make dinner, and we’ll watch it together. How about it?”

“Fine. I’ll message you on Wednesday when I’m off.”

The easy response had a smile spreading on Yata’s face, the usual little kick of anticipation hitting at the same time. “Right. Yeah.” He cleared his throat, more out of habit than anything. “See you then.”

“See you.” The call disconnected.

He was still grinning when he lowered his wrist, pushing off the wall and heading for the entrance to the bar. Things weren’t the same between the two of them as they had been before, and that was fine – they’d both changed, and there were a lot of things – painful things – that made going back to that time impossible. Yata favored looking forward, and he kind of thought after everything, that was how Saruhiko felt as well. They couldn’t erase the past, but they could build a future.

Anyway, right now it was better than he’d expected. Yata paused for a beat with his hand on the door, considering the stir of anxious excitement that seemed to reverberate through his chest and stomach. Lately, it was like this when he made plans with Saruhiko – more so when they met, and even sometimes just thinking about him (which he did a lot of these days, for whatever reason). His heart kicked up, skin prickling and stomach knotting with a kind of thrill he couldn’t explain. It was sort of similar to the feeling from middle school, when his thoughts were all tied up with Saruhiko and nothing else in his world could matter quite as much as the two of them, together. But it wasn’t… exactly like that, either. There was a restless edge to it all, like his whole body was holding its breath.

So yeah, weird – but also good. He couldn’t really complain.

Still, that was no reason to stand around outside like an idiot. Yata pulled open the door and stepped through, looking up with an enthusiastic, “Yo!” for whoever happened to be in there. Which was apparently just Bandou, Eric, Anna, and of course Kusanagi behind the bar.

“Morning, Yata-chan.” The greeting came with a smile. “You look like you’re in high spirits today.”

“Of course! Why wouldn’t I be?” He swung into a stool near Bandou, letting his skateboard rest against the bar.

“Well, I didn’t say it was a bad thing.” Kusanagi shrugged a bit, holding up the glass he’d been wiping for inspection. “How’s Fushimi these days?”

That was kind of what was on his mind, but it was a bit of a surprise to hear the question just out of the blue like that. Yata blinked, momentarily startled. “Eh? Why are you asking me?”

“Why wouldn’t he?” Bandou responded, tilting his head to offer a mildly puzzled frown. “Fushimi’s your guy, right?” His brow creased a little over his shades. “Wait, is that how you say it?”

“Huh?” Yata raised an eyebrow at him. “The hell are you talking about?”

“Okay, I said it wrong, didn’t I?” Bandou crossed his arms, frown deepening with thought. “Is it more like ‘partner’? Or – oh!” He seemed to brighten. “How about ‘gentleman friend’?”

Across the bar, Eric made a kind of snorting noise, like a laugh he hadn’t quite held in.

Yata glanced from him to Bandou, annoyed with the way the conversation seemed to be flying over his head. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

The door to the bar opened before he could get an answer. “Hey,” Chitose greeted them, stepping inside without ceremony. His clothing was noticeably rumpled, and he looked more satisfied with himself than usual. “It’s looking like a great day today, isn’t it?”

That could only mean one thing. Yata slouched in his seat, crossing his arms and scowling back, as Bandou let out a groan beside him. “Man, are you serious? Another girl already?”

“A gentleman doesn’t tell tales,” Chitose replied with a kind of lofty cheer, wandering up to lean against the bar with that infuriatingly smug expression still set on his face. “Especially not in the presence of a lady.” He tipped his head in Anna’s direction.

“What ‘gentleman’?” Eric murmured, almost to himself.

Chitose shrugged, spreading his hands. “Scoff all you want. I’ll be right here basking in the glow of not being single.” He turned his head unexpectedly to smirk at Yata. “You understand me, right, Yata?”

What the fuck is everyone on today? Yata frowned back at him, irritation starting to override the last vestiges of his good mood. “Why the hell are you saying that to me? Of course I don’t get that crap!”

“C’mon, don’t be so secretive.” Chitose’s shit-eating smirk didn’t even falter. “I heard you outside earlier. Setting up a hot date, huh? With a homemade dinner, no less...”

“For real?” Bandou gaped at him for a moment, then suddenly frowned. “Wait, if you’re the one cooking, it doesn’t really count…”

Yata shook his head, scoffing a bit. “What ‘hot date’? I was talking to Saruhiko.”

He expected someone to at least snicker at the mistake – maybe an ‘oh, that’s it?’ from Bandou, or a smartass comment from Eric – so the moment of awkward silence was a surprise. When he glanced around, confused, he found three people staring at him, one person very carefully polishing a glass, and one sitting primly on the couch with a cup of tea in her hands and her eyes lowered.

“What?”

Chitose held up his hands, raising both eyebrows. “Nothing.” He turned his gaze, muttering almost as if to himself, “Out of the honeymoon phase already, huh?”

What the hell am I missing? The whole conversation was just getting stupid. “I don’t know what the hell you’re getting at. If you’ve got something you’re trying to say to me, just say it.”

Bandou shook his head. “Yata… You’re gonna get dumped if you don’t watch out.”

“Dumped by who? Does it look like I have a girlfriend?”

Chitose and Bandou exchanged a dubious glance, and then Chitose shrugged. “No one said girlfriend.”

“Huh?” Yata’s frown deepened. So what was with all that talk about honeymoons and being dumped?

From across the bar, Eric made a derisive noise. “I told you they weren’t dating.”

“What? Dating?” Yata scratched the back of his head, feeling more lost by the second. “Who?”

“Seriously?” Bandou seemed to do a double-take. “You haven’t asked him yet?”

“Asked who what?”

Chitose let out what sounded like a regretful sigh, stepping forward to clap a commiserating hand on Yata’s shoulder. “All you had to do was ask if you needed my help, you know. I’ll gladly share my knowledge if it’ll help a fellow clansman in need.”

Yata stared at him with growing agitation. “Oi… you still haven’t told me what the hell you’re talking about…”

“It’s okay.” The hand on his shoulder gave a couple of comforting pats. “The first step to wisdom is admitting you know nothing at all.”

“Say what?”

“But,” Chitose went on, as if he hadn’t said anything, “you can relax.” His face split into another of those shit-eating smirks. “Once I share all of my secrets with you, you’ll know everything you need to get all the action you can handle.”

On Yata’s other side, Bandou shifted in a little closer.

Kusanagi cleared his throat. “Boys,” he said, glancing meaningfully towards where Anna was sipping her tea. “Keep it clean, okay?”

Yata stared at him in perplexity. “What are you – ?”

“Not to worry, Kusanagi-san.” Chitose waved a careless hand. “I wouldn’t start a novice off with that kind of technique. This is all strictly entry-level seduction.”

“Eh?” That caught his attention. “Wa – wait… S-s-s-seduc – ?”

“Well, most of it’s meant for girls, but I can adapt.” Chitose gave him another pat, practically radiating confidence. “Seriously, even a standoffish guy like Fushimi’s got soft spots, right?”

Huh? Saru? Even in his flustered state, the mention of Saruhiko’s name could make him take notice – but Yata was at a loss for how Saruhiko had anything to do with sedu –

Oh.

Oh.

Bandou snickered. “You meant the ‘soft spot’ sitting right here in his bar? Whose names ends with ‘ta’ and starts with ‘ya’?”

Yata whipped his head around to stare at him, a bit wildly. “O-Oi…” This is a joke, right? It’s a joke.

“Hey, that part just makes my job easier,” Chitose responded lightly, and then smirked again. “If you’re already weak to someone, even a few casual touches from them can totally take you apart.”

T-take… take you… Yata could feel heat rising on his face; it was a struggle to get his mouth working properly. “Wh-wh-wh-what the hell?” he managed to blurt out, torn between outrage and furious embarrassment. “You – I – but – wait… wait, Saru?” The last bit came out as a kind of undignified squawk. “H-hold on, and – and – s-s-sedu – ”

“Don’t sweat so much – you’ve got five days until Wednesday, right?” Chitose waved an expansive hand, oblivious to Yata’s minor breakdown. “By then, you’ll be a pro – or at least pro enough to get Fushimi’s attention.”

Eric made another derisive noise. “He can do that just by existing.”

Romantic attention,” Chitose clarified, “not stab-you-with-knives attention.”

“Uh, yeah – pretty sure that’s the same thing with that guy.” Bandou grimaced a bit. “Good luck with that, Yata.”

This fucking conversation... Yata’s brain was still sputtering in a weak attempt to keep up despite the damage it had sustained from the shock bomb earlier. “Wh-what the hell?” he managed to force out, glaring at his friends in a desperate attempt to regain some control of the situation. “You can’t just – this isn’t – there’s no way Saru – Saruhiko would – ”

He couldn’t even finish that thought. Saruhiko would… what? The instinctive urge to shy away from that thought and any implications it carried was almost drowned out by the sudden rushing in his ears – the now-familiar tremor of anxiety in his belly; the fast, almost frantic pace of his heartbeat. Somewhere at his core, the possible continuation of that simple phrase – ‘Saruhiko would…’ – ignited a kind of fierce yearning that he didn’t know what to do with.

Would he?

Once again, his inner turmoil was going completely unnoticed by Chitose, who clapped him on the back in some sort of light-hearted attempt at reassurance. “What’s with that defeatist attitude, huh? How d’you even know until you try? Anything’s gotta be better than pining away like an idiot.”

Yata stared at him, growing horror mixing with the outrage and the embarrassment and the mass of confusion clogging his brain. “Wha – p-pin – ?” He couldn’t quite get the word out, vision starting to hollow out and thoughts scattering. “W-wait… Why? I – ”

“Whatcha mean, ‘why’?” Bandou crossed his arms, grinning. “You’re always talking about him.”

Chitose nodded in a show of smug solidarity. “Don’t forget acting like a lovesick idiot all day after meeting up.”

“The ‘idiot’ part is true all the time,” Eric added, blandly.

“Screw off.” It came out sounding weak; somehow, it felt like he was starting to drift out of his own body, watching the whole thing from a distance. It felt completely unreal. There was seriously no way he was sitting there as his fellow clansmen calmly discussed his non-existent crush on his oldest friend.

It… it was non-existent… right?

“Seriously, though, this date on Wednesday’s the perfect time to make a move.” Chitose nudged him in the side, drawing his attention back to the conversation. “It’ll be just the two of you – no curious bystanders… no interruptions…” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “No witnesses…”

Another of those uncomfortable waves of heat flooded up over his neck and across his face; Yata sputtered for a moment, the ability to manage words beyond him. Date… date… date… The word kept echoing through his head, like some demented chant. Just the two of you, his brain whispered, sly and secretive. No witnesses.

No way…

He’d been alone with Saruhiko before. There was just – nothing. Things were normal. They hung out. They played video games together. Normal things. Not like… date things. Not… holding hands… touching…

… kissing…

His brain took that as a cue to summon up an image of Saruhiko’s mouth – thin lips quirking at the corners like when he was trying to pretend he didn’t just have some kind of emotion – and the sudden surge of mixed fondness and unexpected want that came with it made Yata’s stomach feel like it was bottoming out.

No… way…?

The truth was starting to become all too apparent: that final and undeniable click of everything falling into place as the feelings he hadn’t been able to explain before started to make sense. Yata stiffened in his seat, flustered and slightly panicked, as Chitose prattled off something about eye contact.

I like him.

 

I fucking like Saruhiko.

Maybe more than like, if it had been this long. His thoughts from earlier – similar to that feeling from middle school, hah – felt like they were mocking him now. Maybe something bigger than just ‘like’, if Saruhiko’s words and actions affected him the way they did; if Saruhiko’s feelings mattered to him so much that they could alter his own.

They had always been important to each other, regardless of how things had changed. Just… maybe…

Somehow, his mind shied away from that thought.

“ – can tell you a lot about the level of interest,” Chitose was saying, outside of all that. He had his arms crossed, expression intent, as if this was all of grave importance. “Body language is key. Anyway, you want to make sure you’ve had a second or two of eye contact before ponying up a confession. The timing is the most – ”

The word ‘confession’ kicked that slight edge of panic up to something nearly full-blown. “Like hell!” he blurted, cutting off the rest of the lecture. “Are you fucking kidding me? There’s no way I’m doing any of that crap!”

Chitose blinked, clearly caught off-guard, and then narrowed his eyes. “Hey… this is solid advice, you know? After all, if you wanna make Fushimi your boyfriend – ”

“I don’t! I mean… fuck.” Yata scratched at the back of his head with agitation, still feeling flushed and more than a little uncertain – and equally annoyed about the whole business. I didn’t ask for this, goddamnit! “Maybe – I dunno – I do. Or something.” He shrugged awkwardly, not making eye contact. “Still, there’s no way in hell I’m confessing to him! He’s a guy!”

Bandou and Chitose exchanged a glance. “He’s also kinda gay for you,” Bandou pointed out, with a shrug. “You should just go for it.”

Yata sucked in a breath at that, momentarily rendered speechless by the implication. “Wh-wh-where the hell did that come from?” With his own feelings just freshly realized, the idea of what Saruhiko might think about it seemed… impossible. He couldn’t even imagine what reaction he might get. Everything was too confusing.  “There’s no way – ”

“Idiot,” Eric cut him off.

“What was that?” Yata demanded crossly, glaring across the bar.

He was flatly ignored; Eric had turned his back to the counter, as if declaring Yata a hopeless case.

“Look, Yata.” When he shifted his gaze again, Chitose had crossed his arms over his chest, one eyebrow raised skeptically. “There’s definitely no way anything’s happening if you don’t cough up a confession. You think that gloomy guy of yours is gonna say something?”

“O-of course not!” That much, at least, he could declare with full confidence. “That doesn’t mean – !”

“Yeah, it kinda does, actually.”

“You didn’t even let me finish!”

Chitose spread his hands, with a rueful smile. “You’re too predictable.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Yata scowled, feeling pugnacious. “Anyway, there’s no way in hell I’m confessing, so can it already!”

“Whatever. I’ve done as much as I can.” Chitose let out what was obviously meant to be a long-suffering sigh. “Don’t come crying to me when his ass is on your couch and you’re up to your neck in sexual frustration.”

Yata glared at him, face growing hotter than ever and hands clenching into fists. “I’m not frustrated, goddamnit!”

“Oh hey, you know what helps with that?” Bandou chimed in, almost cheerfully. “Take a little ‘private time’ before she – or, y’know, he – comes over. Works every time, and they’ll never know the difference.”

“The fuck?” Yata stared at him incredulously. “Who the hell would do that?”

Bandou looked wounded. “What’s the big deal? I’ve done it.”

Chitose shook his head, giving him a kind of pitying gaze. “This is why you’re single.”

“Huh? Why? What’s wrong with it?”

Kusanagi cleared his throat, louder than he had earlier. “Boys.”

“It’s all right, Izumo.” Unexpectedly, Anna’s voice answered him. In the silence that fell after she’d spoken, she set her teacup down on the table in front of her, rose to her feet, and crossed the room. Five pairs of eyes followed her up to the bar.

Yata reached back to rub at his neck as she approached, relieved that the conversation had ended but also vaguely uncomfortable with the knowledge that she’d clearly overheard the whole thing. “A-Anna,” he started, managing the beginnings of a sheepish smile, “Sorry. We’re too loud, huh?”

She stopped directly in front of him, met his gaze squarely, and then reached out to place her hand over his free one. “Good luck, Misaki,” she said, eyes full of sincerity, and added, with complete seriousness, “I’m rooting for you.”

“Eh?” It took a moment for the words to sink in, but when they did, it felt like his heart momentarily stopped. Yata stared at her, torn between shock and horror. “Wait… you can’t mean…”

Kusanagi made an amused noise from behind him. “Looks like you’ve got approval from above, Yata-chan.” When Yata twisted around to look at him, he smiled. “Well… do your best.”

You’ve gotta be kidding me!


“You’re off next Thursday, right? Come over Wednesday night.”

After five months of being reconciled with Misaki, Fushimi wasn’t really affected by requests like this anymore. In the beginning, his stomach would have churned with something like dread, instinctive anticipation of the end approaching with each new meeting. He’d had to forcibly squash the feeling in order to resist the urge to hide behind his hectic work schedule, and there were times when he’d seriously considered whether his very real, earnest desire to see Misaki was worth the effort of trying to change those comfortable thought patterns. But, nowadays, the invites were commonplace; the only reaction they triggered was a faint, almost pleasant tingle of nerves. He didn’t even particularly doubt Misaki’s honest enjoyment of his company.

Much. “Any reason in particular?”

“There’s this new movie out that looks pretty good – Bandou’s lending me his entertainment account. I’ll make dinner, and we’ll watch it together. How about it?”

He didn’t think Misaki had given it much thought, but Fushimi forced himself to make note of the fact that the easiest response to there being a good movie and Bandou having an entertainment account would be to watch the movie with Bandou. That Misaki had thought of him instead was a positive sign – the kind of thing that, earlier, would either have been deliberately missed or attributed to some sort of unavoidable conflict that left Fushimi as the undesirable remaining option.

He was doing somewhat better with curbing that line of thinking – at least in normal circumstances. Being made aware of it in the first place had helped exponentially. “Fine. I’ll message you on Wednesday when I’m off.”

 “Right. Yeah.” It also helped when Misaki’s tone brightened like that after he’d accepted. “See you then.”

“See you.”

Fushimi could feel the tiny hint of a smile that had formed on his lips as he lowered the PDA, but it didn’t quite register as a mistake until he looked up and noticed Hidaka standing at the entrance to the break room. There was a sheepish look on his face.

That faint smile – and the warm, comfortable feelings that had triggered it – sank back down, instinctively buried. “What?”

“Sorry! I wasn’t deliberately listening in or anything.” Hidaka ducked inside, still looking vaguely guilty, as if he’d been caught doing something he shouldn’t have. There was curiosity burning in his gaze all the same. “But it kind of sounded like… you were setting up a date, maybe?”

Fushimi stared at him, nonplussed and momentarily caught off-guard. What.

The second’s hesitation had cost him, unfortunately; Doumyouji’s voice preceded him into the room, loud and careless. “Who’s got a date?” He stepped inside and blinked, taking in the room’s only two occupants. “No way! Fushimi-san’s got a date? Are you serious?”

“Doumyouji-san… putting it like that is kind of…” Enomoto, coming in next, looked vaguely embarrassed, as if the comment had been his fault somehow; he glanced at Fushimi apologetically.

Unbelievable. Fushimi tucked the PDA into his coat sharply. Somehow, both Hidaka’s initial assumption and Doumyouji’s immediate disbelief were irritating him, and he wasn’t in the mood to correct either of them. “Is anyone in this building even capable of minding their own business?” he muttered, instead.

“Eh… sorry, my bad.” Hidaka looked properly contrite for all of a second or two, and then seemed to brighten. “But, still, congratulations, Fushimi-san! That’s great news, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, congrats!” Doumyouji had apparently recovered from his moment of doubt, offering a grin and a thumbs-up. “Who’s the lucky… um.” He paused, tilted his head and squinted at Fushimi, and then said, in a slow tone like someone trying to feel out the correct answer on an oral exam, “Per…son…?”

Enomoto waved a somewhat frantic hand. “D-Doumyouji-san!”

“What? How am I supposed to know what he likes?”

“You still shouldn’t just talk about it right in front of him like that!” Hidaka protested, as if Fushimi wasn’t right there and still listening to them go on about useless things. “It’s rude!”

“Oh, come on!” Doumyouji scoffed. “Wouldn’t it have been ruder to just assume one way or the other? Like, ‘hey, Fushimi-san, who’s the lucky guy?’ and then it turns out he’s dating a girl or something. Awkward, right?” He spread his hands. “This way it’s neutral.”

“Yeah, but the way you said ‘person’ was kind of…”

“Hey, I don’t want to show any prejudice against aliens, okay?”

“Well, in the first place, aliens don’t really exist…”

“Hidaka-san.” Enomoto abruptly pushed up his glasses, looking vaguely ominous. “I’m sorry, but please take those words back immediately.”

Doumyouji shrugged, looking smug. “See?”

Pointless. Fushimi clicked his tongue, turning to check the laptop he’d left open on the table while he answered Misaki’s call. The scans he’d set up while on his break were still far from complete, and while it was possible to leave the room and find a spot that had less traffic without forcing them to cancel out, the signal tended to get weaker in the hallway.

Which meant his options were probably limited to either redoing the work or standing there and listening to his co-workers speculate about his dating preferences.

He was contemplating the risks involved with leaving the laptop behind unsupervised and returning for it later when Hidaka said, suddenly, “Fushimi-san?”

So much for that option. Fushimi clicked his tongue, looking up. “What?”

“I was just thinking…” Hidaka hesitated for a moment, then seemed to draw himself up, as if gathering his determination. “I’ve never seen or heard of you going out with anyone before. Could it be” – he leaned forward a little – “this is your first date?”

They were still on that subject? Fushimi glanced past him, catching the interested gazes of the other two people in the room, and let out a short, irritated breath. “Don’t all of you have better things to do?”

“But… Fushimi-san… you know, it’s too easy to mess up on the first date.” Hidaka’s eyes reflected his earnest interest in the subject. “Not knowing what kinds of things are expected of you will definitely result in failure… shame… maybe even” – his eyes seemed to waver a little – “mockery…”

“Something happened to him, huh?” Doumyouji commented, in a poor attempt at an undertone.

“Seems that way,” Enomoto murmured, with a pitying gaze.

“A-anyway!” Hidaka valiantly pushed forward as if they hadn’t spoken, clearly focussed on the goal in front of him. “It’s important to have some idea of what to do on a date, if you’ve never been on one before.” He flattened his palm against his chest. “I’ll help you out, Fushimi-san!”

“Me too!” Doumyouji chimed in, before there was a chance to reject the bothersome suggestion. “Make sure you’re always making eye contact when you talk! Actually, just always, no matter what.” He grinned. “In the right moment, it could totally score you a kiss!”

“Ah… I don’t really know, but… I heard something once.” Enomoto seemed to brighten a little as he spoke, as if the fact that he could contribute to this idiotic discussion was some kind of accomplishment. “It’s important to compliment honestly and openly. You should mention some of the little things you notice and appreciate.”

Seriously… Fushimi frowning, focusing on the instinctive annoyance to avoid having to deal with the small swelling of uncertainty somewhere in the region of his chest that came with this kind of interest in his well-being. It was only a date – or rather, it wasn’t even that, but since that part wasn’t out in the open yet, it was moot. There shouldn’t be any reason for all this fuss.

“I don’t need any – ”

“Lots of touching!” Hidaka blurted, eyes lighting up, and Fushimi caught himself in time to avoid taking a step back, unnerved by the amount of enthusiasm that came with the words. “Like little casual things, you know? Testing the waters.” He nodded, apparently satisfied with himself. “If you kind of brush your fingers up against theirs, touch your shoulders together when you’re sitting next to each other, maybe brush their hair back out of their eyes… It can really set a good mood!”

“Oh, hey, yeah, that’s totally true!” Doumyouji agreed, cheerfully. “I guess you do know something about this after all, huh? Learned something from that bad first date?”

The way Hidaka’s face fell was nearly comical. “Please don’t talk about that, Doumyouji-san…”

“Right, sorry! Sensitive subject, I guess?”

“Never mind…”

“Oh… Fushimi-san?” Enomoto managed a slightly awkward smile, glancing at Hidaka with a certain amount of sympathy. “You didn’t mention what kind of person your date was. Is it someone we know?”

This entire situation was beyond annoying. Fushimi clicked his tongue, turning his gaze off to the side to avoid the expectant gazes on him. The scans were nearing completion, at least. “I never mentioned a date.” Somehow, there was some petulance in his voice; he made an effort to draw the following words out in order to cover that. “I’m watching a movie at Misaki’s. Not that it’s actually anyone’s business.”

He expected that to be the end of it, so it was a surprise when Hidaka abruptly perked up, staring at him with wide eyes. “Misaki… as in… Homra’s Yata Misaki… right?”

“Wow! That’s awesome!” Doumyouji enthused, offering another thumbs-up and beaming like someone had offered him a lifetime’s worth of days off with pay. “Finally after all this time, huh? Way to go!”

Fushimi frowned at him, a dreadful suspicion taking root in his stomach. He couldn’t possibly –

“You must be really happy then, right, Fushimi-san?” Enomoto’s eyes had a shine to them that was not at all promising. “This – this is kind of like a movie… After so many years, and so much hardship, your feelings were finally conveyed!”

“Fushimi-san…” Hidaka sounded like he was choking on his own emotions; his eyes were wavering as he raised his fist in what was probably meant to be a show of solidarity. “Finally realizing a long-held dream… I’m so glad for you!”

This was… unpleasant. Fushimi felt his fingers twitch, and deepened his frown in an effort to cover his chagrin. Despite his best efforts, the line between work and personal life had certainly blurred, and it would have been a lie if he tried to claim it had been the return from Jungle that had been the catalyst. Things had changed since then, drastically in some ways, but in coming to terms with the reactions from the Special Operations Squad at that time, he’d been more or less forced to admit that a lot of it had slowly built up over the years before. It was baffling, and he still didn’t quite know how to deal with the way it made him feel. There were times when he wished he could build a wall around himself and not have to deal with any of this.

Time like this, actually.

They’ve all known…?

It wasn’t that Fushimi didn’t have any awareness of his own feelings – actually, it was the opposite. He was too aware, even months after painfully coming to terms with it. The discovery hadn’t been easy. Admitting Misaki’s importance in his life had been one thing – exploring the nature of said importance was another. It could still be overwhelming at times, classifying his reactions in terms of physical attraction. Little things could set his heart racing now – the way Misaki’s hair curled around his neck; the sharp curve of his smile; the way shadows fell along the lines of his face and body in the right lighting. The time they spent together was alternately sweet and painful, but the ache and the irresistible pull of Misaki’s presence in his life were unquestionably precious.

He hadn’t given more than a passing thought to the possibility of those feelings being returned. It didn’t exactly take a genius to work out the odds. But he’d never needed that in his life before, and he could live without it now. Misaki didn’t ever need to know.

Apparently, there was a limit to how much a person was capable of sabotaging himself.

None of that was information he particularly wanted to share with his co-workers, though. Fushimi clicked his tongue, shifting his jacket back in order to slide his trembling fingers into his pockets, and fixed them with a glower. “Don’t make assumptions about things that are none of your business.”

It bothered him that his feelings had somehow been so obvious. If these three had noticed without any particular effort, who else had managed to figure it out?

“Eh… sorry, I guess…” Doumyouji’s face fell into a kind of grimace, looking off to the side with the expression of a child who’d been scolded but wasn’t feeling particularly shamed. “Still think my advice was good,” he muttered.

Enomoto looked properly chastised, bowing his head with obvious dismay. “Sorry, Fushimi-san… I went too far, huh?”

“But…” Hidaka seemed to deflate, as if the enthusiasm from earlier was draining out of him. “Your – your date…”

It was definitely time to dismantle that particular assumption. Fushimi clicked his tongue again. He still wasn’t sure why he hadn’t said this sooner – the reluctance he’d felt about it earlier was puzzling. “It’s not a date. We’ve met like this dozens of times already.”

“What, really? It’s not?” Doumyouji actually sounded let down by that; his shoulders slumped.

Enomoto bit his lip, looking more chagrined than ever. “And we were celebrating, too… Sorry, Fushimi-san – that was thoughtless.”

Why is it so important to you? It’s nothing to do with any of you, right? Asking those questions out loud felt too revealing, so he suppressed the thoughts, going for an easier line. “That’s why I said not to make assumptions. You end up in ridiculous situations like this one.”

“I…” Hidaka’s head was bowed a little; when everyone turned to look at him, he seemed to be struggling with his words. After a significant pause, he suddenly straightened and lifted his head, his eyes flashing with determination. “I still think you should go for it!”

The unexpected zeal with which he said it actually startled Fushimi into taking a half step back. For a moment, he was trapped without a response, not sure if he’d been struck dumb by the willful idiocy of the suggestion or the unexpected prickle of mixed anticipation and alarm that had surged through him in response. “Oi… What are you playing at?”

“Just… just think about it, though!” Hidaka was getting a little flushed now with everyone’s attention on him, but he plunged onward stubbornly. “These suggestions are perfect for getting a sense of someone else’s feelings for you! You should definitely try at least one of them out!”

“That’s kinda true, isn’t it?” Doumyouji commented brightly. “Good call, Hidaka!”

“It could be worth a try at least, right?” Enomoto commented hesitantly, seeming to perk up a bit.

This was getting ridiculous. Fushimi turned his head so that he didn’t have to look any of these idiots in the eye – deliberately ignoring the uncomfortable flurry of frustrated confusion that had stirred up in response – and noticed that the scans had finished some time when he was busy losing brain cells in this stupid conversation. “… I’m going back to work.”

“Ah… right.” Hidaka settled back a little, obviously disappointed, as Fushimi retrieved his laptop, tucking it under his arm and making a break for the door. “Just – ” There was a bit of an awkward pause, and then, “Good luck – you can do it! We’re all rooting for you, Fushimi-san!”

“Yeah!”

“Do your best!”

The door shut behind him.

Fushimi took a moment to pinch the bridge of his nose, letting out an irritated breath. I can’t believe a conversation like that actually happened. He clicked his tongue at the memory of his co-workers’ earnest faces, and then lowered his arm slowly, trying to will away the awkward tension at the pit of his stomach as he stepped away from the break room.

“Oh? That was a heavy sigh.” When he looked up, startled, Munakata was smiling calmly at him from just down the hallway. “Is something troubling you, Fushimi-kun?”

Just what he needed. Fushimi let his gaze flatten out, eyeing his boss warily. “Nothing important.” He stepped forward purposefully. “Excuse me – I’m late getting back to work.”

“Of course.” Munakata’s expression didn’t shift, but as Fushimi moved to pass him, he murmured, just loud enough for it to be heard at that range, “Best of luck.”

When he turned, startled, the Captain’s back was straight and his gaze turned forward as he walked in at a measured pace in the opposite direction.

The anxious feeling within him seemed to multiple by a factor of ten. Fushimi clicked his tongue again, turning away. Was it necessary to be that vague about it? The ambiguity of the statement made it difficult to protest, despite the fact that he wanted to reject the sentiment behind it. Mostly, anyway.

If he was being honest, there was some small part of him that… may have been glad.

“We’re all rooting for you, Fushimi-san!”

“Idiot,” he mumbled, and started moving again.


On Tuesday morning, Yata woke up with insistent morning wood and the remnants of a very steamy – if extremely vague – dream. His immediate reaction was to pull the pillow out from under his head and stuff it over his head, muffling a frustrated groan into it.

That was kind of an improvement, really. Monday morning, he’d shot up off the futon and blasted himself with cold water until his teeth were chattering, hands clenched into shaking fists as he tried to wipe his mind clean of the embarrassing images his subconscious had dumped on him.

It had been a futile effort, and he was kind of resigned to his fate, now.

“Goddamnit…” Yata shoved the pillow off his face and scowled up at the ceiling for a moment, doing his best to ignore the tension between his legs and the racing of his heart. “This sucks.”

He couldn’t even totally blame Chitose and Bandou for this clusterfuck, as much as he’d like to. After the revelation on Friday, he spent a lot of time trying to avoid actually thinking about it – which had worked at first. He worked the late shift at his part-time job on both Friday and Saturday, so he’d come home and basically collapsed in bed both nights, waking up just time to get ready for work the next afternoon.

Sunday, though… he had a half-shift that day, which left the evening free. Normally, he would’ve gone straight to Homra, but Kusanagi had rented the bar out for the night, and most of the guys were either working or had plans. So… he’d gone home. Which wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t have that restless, uneasy feeling churning around in the pit of his stomach – along with a whole mountain of uncertainty about what this all meant.

Seriously, aside from it being kind of obvious that he’d felt that way now that he looked at it, he hadn’t thought at all about what it actually meant to have… those kinds of feelings. For Saruhiko. Which came with its own set of problems, but even discounting those… well… he was another guy.

Yata wasn’t too comfortable around girls, sure, but it had never really crossed his mind that he might be gay.

It wasn’t like he’d ever felt the need to sit down and think about this crap either, though. There was more important stuff to focus on most of the time, and he’d never had anyone in particular on his mind, so it just kind of… didn’t matter. He’d considered it on Sunday night, though, slouched on his sofa with his head feeling overworked from trying to sort it all out. He’d just… started to wonder if there was a way to tell for sure – or if he even needed to, since this was all about Saruhiko, anyway.

And then he’d glanced over at his game controller and remembered that he had access to Bandou’s entertainment account, and that was when he’d got the worst idea of his life.

… Fucking porn.

Why the hell did I do that, anyway? Yata clenched his teeth, frustrated with himself. I’ve never even watched a regular porn, so starting with a gay one… And it had to have a guy with glasses in it, too. He could feel heat rushing to his face as he remembered the scene he hadn’t been able to get through. Less than five minutes into the stupid thing, and they were already going.. down there… with their mouths, and – Goddamnit!

He could still see the images behind his eyes when he closed them – but not exactly from the porn. His brain had apparently decided to make it personal, blending Saruhiko’s face into the scene and delivering it up in his dreams like some twisted dish on a platter.

And he’d fucking liked it. Too much.

Yata pushed himself up abruptly, shifting to the side so that he was halfway off the futon. His erection was still tugging at him for attention, but he wasn’t going to deal with that now. This was too new – too confusing; too embarrassing. He seriously wasn’t ready to jerk off while thinking about Saruhiko.

As much as he kind of wanted to.

Maybe more than ‘kind of’.

Fuck… I wouldn’t be able to face him tomorrow. Yata scrubbed a hand over his face, feeling it grow uncomfortably warm beneath his palm. Even as it was, he was seriously considering cancelling. But he really wanted to see Saruhiko. It had been a while since the last time they’d met up, and he’d been looking forward to this.

No way was he letting some dumb porn movie get in the way.

Whatever. I can handle it. He just had to act like he normally did. Nothing was really different, after all. It was just a regular night, having dinner and watching a movie with his friend. He could figure out what to do with these feelings after seeing Saruhiko again one more time.

With his resolve confirmed, Yata pushed off the futon.

Time for another freezing cold shower to take his mind off of things.


“These suggestions are perfect for getting a sense of someone else’s feelings for you!”

Those words had been running through his mind since Friday, and Fushimi was starting to feel more than a little irritated about it. No one had said anything further to him on the subject, although he could see it hovering on the tip of Hidaka’s tongue just about every time they crossed paths. But the conversation kept running through his head all the same, despite his best efforts to brush it aside as unimportant.

Useless. He clicked his tongue, frowning at the screen of his laptop in the dim light inside his dorm. It was past midnight, so technically it was Wednesday now – the day he’d be going over to Misaki’s apartment.

He didn’t have any expectations, one way or another. That was something he was still particularly careful with. Expectations had the potential to be all too painful when they weren’t realized, so he tried to visualize each meeting with Misaki as a blank slate, anticipating nothing at all. It was afterwards that he recalled all the little details – the warmth in Misaki’s eyes and smile; the moments of easy silence; the obvious reluctance when it came time to separate – and let himself bask in it, eyes closed and heart beating fast as he committed each precious moment to memory.

Anticipation could result in disappointment. Recollection was safer.

It wasn’t all innocent, of course. Having feelings for Misaki was one thing – being physically attracted was another. Somehow, that part was easier, though – he wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because his body’s reactions made more sense to him than the unpredictable surge and play of emotions. They were certainly easier to deal with, although the aftermath was bothersome and messy. Inevitably, though, if he was thinking about Misaki, his thoughts would eventually wander to things like the shape of Misaki’s body; the texture and warmth of Misaki’s exposed skin; the tantalizing curve of Misaki’s lips – and that would be the point when the familiar shiver and ache kicked off.

He wasn’t particularly ashamed of it, but the intensity still sometimes surprised him. In general, every part of being in love with Misaki had the potential to surprise him, even months after coming to terms with it all. It was confusing and frustrating, and he often wished he didn’t have to deal with it, but when he was around Misaki and everything felt so painfully good, he didn’t really mind so much.

“I still think you should go for it!”

Fushimi drummed his fingers restlessly on the desk beside his laptop, frown deepening as Hidaka’s words came back to him – again. “You don’t understand anything,” he muttered out loud, more to the little tug of excitement within him than to the remembered voice of his clueless co-worker. “It’s not that simple.”

Even in the unlikely event that Misaki was in some way attracted to men, it didn’t guarantee that he’d be attracted to Fushimi.

In fact, given their history, the chance of that seemed vanishingly small.

“It could be worth a try at least, right?”

“Not really…” Even as he mumbled that, his fingers were already moving on the mouse and keyboard.

He was just going to see whether the things they’d pointed out were actual valid pieces of advice. It was out of curiosity, that was all. It wasn’t like he had to put any of these things into practice. Anyway, even if he did, it wouldn’t change anything. He just kind of wanted to see what sort of reaction Misaki would have. And all of those suggestions were perfectly ordinary things that people did when they were around other people that they were close with. He wouldn’t be doing anything all that strange. And it wasn’t as if he had any kind of hopes or expectations.

For a moment, Fushimi’s fingers stilled on the keyboard, a tiny ache rising at the back of his throat.

No expectations. No hopes.

Still… At the very least, proving that this was all pointless might silence the encouraging words that kept echoing in his head. Once he’d tried it and seen that there was no change, he’d have solid proof that there was nothing worth clinging to in any of them.

Fushimi swallowed hard to clear the ache, and turned back to his search.


Despite the fact that he’d already gotten a message to warn him, Yata couldn’t help but jolt a little when the knock on his door came on Wednesday night. He bit back a curse, left the pot simmering on the stove, and went to answer.

I got this, he reminded himself, taking a moment before opening the door to draw in a determined breath. It’s just Saru. Nothing to worry about. Just… act natural.

Saruhiko had his hands in the pockets of his hoodie when Yata opened the door, as if he had just happened to be hanging around rather than deliberately coming up and knocking. He had on jeans and a white T-shirt, which wasn’t really that amazing or anything – Yata didn’t really pay that much attention to clothing normally – but he’d always kind of felt a little happy to see Saruhiko in casual clothing. It – it looked good on him.

Act natural…

“Am I allowed to come in, or are you expecting me to eat and watch the movie from here?”

“Huh?” Yata blinked, startled out of his momentary daze. He could feel treacherous warmth rising on his face, and hastily stepped back out of the way. “O-of course you’re coming in! Right?”

Saruhiko shot him a bit of a dubious look, but came in anyway, kicking off his shoes as Yata shut the door behind him. “What are we eating?”

That was better. Normal. Good. “I made curry.” He didn’t have to fake the grin that came with it. “The recipe makes a lot, so I hope you’re planning on seconds.”

“I hope you’re joking,” Saruhiko returned, raising an eyebrow as he stepped out of the entranceway. “What did you put in it?”

Yata rolled his eyes, turning to head back into his kitchen area. “Nothing that’s going to offend your delicate goddamn stomach,” he shot back, relaxing a little as things settled into a comfortable rhythm. He could definitely handle this. “You picky bastard.”

He was purposefully ignored on that. “The rice is plain, right?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Yata grinned a little to himself, lifting the lid on the rice cooker and getting ready to dole out the portions. “I figured out your fussy habits already, okay? You can relax.”

“It doesn’t hurt to check, considering your memory span,” Saruhiko drawled. He seemed to hesitate for a bit then, hovering by the table without actually sitting at it. “Hey.” Another brief, almost awkward pause followed, but before Yata could turn to ask him what that was about, he added, almost reluctantly, “You… don’t look that bad tonight.”

Yata’s brain screeched to an abrupt halt; the ladle he’d been scooping rice with hit the counter with a dull thunk. “Wha… buh…” He jerked around to face Saruhiko without thinking, his skin already starting to prickle in reaction as he gaped, not quite able to process what he’d just heard. “Huh… wait… Wh-what did you just – ?”

Something flickered in Saruhiko’s expression, and his frown deepened. He clicked his tongue and looked away. “Never mind. I guess I was wrong.”

What the actual fuck? Yata blinked, feeling a rush of heat climbing up over his neck and jaw as he stared. “No – no, wait – you definitely just said that, right? That – you just…” His throat seemed to close up, mind blanking out on how to continue.

“You don’t look that bad tonight.” Fuck, coming from Saruhiko, it might as well have been a glowing compliment. There was heat spreading across Yata’s face; he cleared his throat, scrambling for words that could cover his confusion. “O-oi…” His voice sounded kind of weak, but that wasn’t important right at the moment. He just complimented me. He said I didn’t look bad. He felt a little light-headed, but not exactly in a bad way. “S-seriously, just now… Wh-what was that about?”

Saruhiko had already dropped down onto the cushion by the table, resting his chin on his hand and deliberately not looking at Yata. “It’s nothing.” His expression was unreadable, as always. “Forget it.”

There was no way in hell he was going to just ‘forget it’. Yata scowled, ready to demand an explanation, and then caught himself at the last second as a thought struck. Wait… If I push on this, will it seem like I’m desperate or something?

It was his first instinct, yeah, but since he’d had these feelings all along, wouldn’t that first instinct be the one that made him look really obvious?

Shit. He honestly didn’t know; this was the first time Saruhiko had actually complimented him, at least on something like how he looked. Which… he didn’t really get. Yata looked down at his clothing, feeling a little self-conscious about it. It was just cargo shorts and a T-shirt; he wore this shit all the time. Why’d Saruhiko comment on it now? Was there something wrong with it? He’d said it didn’t look bad – what the hell did that mean, anyway? Compared to what?

How the fuck am I supposed to know how this stuff works?

“Y-yeah,” he managed after what seemed like a long, very awkward moment, turning back hastily to focus on the food again. “Right. Sure.”

The silence that fell as he prepared the plates felt a little strained. Yata took his time anyway, wracking his brain to try and figure out how that had gone wrong. Okay, the compliment had been kind of out of the ordinary. That was on Saruhiko, because seriously, what the fuck? But now he was feeling too self-conscious to come right out and ask about it. Was his reaction weird? Did it give anything away?

We’re not even five minutes into the goddamn evening!

Okay. Yata took in a steadying breath, fixing a stubborn scowl on the plates of food, before picking them up and turning. All he had to do was act normal from now on. It shouldn’t be that hard. This was just Saruhiko, after all. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just… maybe there’d be random compliments thrown in for some reason. Which was weird, but still not a big deal. He could handle it.

“See? Good, right?” He set the plates on the table before flopping down onto the cushion. “None of the five billion things you hate made it into this food.”

Saruhiko’s eyes slid back over to regard him for a moment, and then he shifted his gaze down to the plate. “I guess.”

Good enough. Yata didn’t have to fake the satisfied smile that came with that reluctant little concession. “Right. Eat up!”

The rest of the meal passed without incident, both of them chatting about various things in between bites. Yata felt his confidence boosting back up with each exchange, even though most of the talking was his. Saruhiko had never been good at expressing himself, but the little glances and half-formed smiles had that familiar pleasant warmth filling Yata’s chest, and it fed back into his enthusiasm at the same time. Maybe it was kind of easy to see how hard he’d fallen now that he knew what it meant, but that didn’t change the fact that it was good. It was so good.

If this was as much as he could ask from Saruhiko – these small, easy moments between them – then that was more than fine.

Even with all the extra talking Yata had done, Saruhiko still had more food left at the end. “I’m done,” he said anyway, pushing his plate forward.

“All right.” Honestly, it would’ve been surprising if everything was gone; Saruhiko wasn’t exactly a heavy eater. And there wasn’t much left on his plate anyway, which was pretty much a win. Yata reached out to stack their dishes, shifting his legs under him so that he could stand quickly. “Gimme a sec to clean up, and then we’ll watch the movie, okay?”

Before he could put that plan into action – or even push himself up from the table – he got his second shock of the evening when Saruhiko reached out and set a hand on his wrist. It wasn’t really much of a hold – more like a ‘hold on a minute’ kind of touch – but the unexpected contact instantly froze him. It seriously felt like his heart just kind of… stopped.

Wait – what…?

Yata’s gaze skittered up instinctively to meet Saruhiko’s, and he felt his stomach flutter, heart kicking back into gear at what felt like an impossible speed, when their eyes met. Somehow, with him halfway leaning across the table to collect the plates, they’d ended up closer to each other than he’d expected. There was a bit of light catching on the lens of the glasses covering those cool blue eyes, but he could still clearly see them, staring right back into his own.

Saruhiko’s fingers were also still pressed lightly on his wrist, a fact that he was unnervingly aware of.

A mix of excitement, anticipation, and something like panic swept over Yata in a rush. Why is he looking at me like that? Why isn’t he saying anything? There were no hints to be found in Saruhiko’s gaze – though, to be honest, Yata was probably too flustered to have noticed even if there were. What is this? He’s fucking with me? He’s trying to start a fight? What?

It took several long and painful seconds before he could manage to find his voice. “S-Saru…?”

For a second, he thought he saw a flicker of uncertainty – it was there and gone so fast, he might’ve imagined it. Then… “Dinner was good,” Saruhiko muttered, almost too quickly, and his gaze dropped off to the side, fingers pulling away as if they’d been burned. “I liked it. Thanks.”

“Ah…” Yata’s head was spinning; he could barely manage to breathe, much less stop himself from gaping like an idiot. Somehow, he thought Saruhiko looked almost embarrassed, and it… it was… Maybe. A little bit. Cute? Or something. “O-oh.”

It struck him about a second later that his response was pretty lame, and he could feel the hot flush spreading across his face again. “I-I mean, thanks! You’re welcome! Both! Y-you know what I mean!” In an effort to avoid embarrassing himself further, he hastily shot up from the table, nearly overbalancing with the plates and stumbling ungracefully into the kitchen. “I’m gonna clean up!”

He ended up dropping the dishes into the sink with a clatter and braced himself on the counter, face still burning and thoughts jumbled. What the hell just happened?

Complimenting, and then touching, and then staring, and then more complimenting… Was this even Saruhiko? He was pretty sure things hadn’t been like this before – there was no way he’d have missed it, right? It wasn’t like he was just more aware because he’d realized his feelings or anything.

Is it?

Yata deliberately unclenched his hands from the death grip they’d formed on the counter, forcing himself to calm down and reaching over to start up the sink. His nerves were pretty frazzled, and it wasn’t just the weird behavior. This was going to be a problem. Because… kind of… when Saruhiko touched him… the feel of it…

Slender fingers curled delicately on his arm, opposite from his elbow, and Yata froze again.

“Should I do something?”

Fucking offering to help with chores. If he could’ve focussed properly on that additional weirdness, Yata might have laughed. As it was, it felt like every bit of awareness in his body was fixated on that spot where Saruhiko’s skin met his. It was… nice. A little shudder went through him before he could think to suppress it.

Saruhiko was standing close to him… Close enough to feel some of the warmth from his body…

If he turned now, their faces would be pretty close, too…

If he turned…

“Aha… ha...” His voice came out weirdly strained and thin, the laugh sounding forced no matter how you stretched it. Yata stared deliberately at the dishes in the sink, feeling that same hot flush slinking across the back of his neck and up to his ears. He felt somehow both light-headed and like his tongue was too heavy for his mouth, and he didn’t know what to do about that. “No, I-I got this. I got it, all right?” He fumbled with the faucet, shutting off the flow of water in an attempt to distract himself. “J-just go sit on the couch. Or something. Cool?”

There was a brief pause – which Yata felt every little millisecond of – and then Saruhiko’s fingers slipped from his arm, a pleasant tingling creeping up in their wake. “If you say so.”

“Y-yeah. Yeah. Right.” Yata’s fingers tightened on the handle of the faucet, shoulders tensing as he waited for the soft footsteps to move away from him. When he finally risked a glance and caught the back of Saruhiko’s head from his seedy old couch, he let out what felt like an explosive breath.

I’m gonna fucking die. Goddamnit.

He was pretty sure he was in trouble now – he was seriously keyed up, and he didn’t have a clue how to dial it back. With the porn and the dreams and then refraining from jerking off for two days, he was on edge and hyper-sensitive. Even that stupid, innocent little touch had his body reacting, a tiny, pleasant ache stirring between his legs. He couldn’t seem to stop thinking about how Saruhiko’s fingers had felt against his skin. It was like they’d left an imprint in the places they’d touched that just wouldn’t let up.

And then that movie… and the dreams…

Fuck.

Yata scowled at the sink, considering the problem. His T-shirt could sort of cover it up if he ended up tenting his shorts a bit. It wasn’t like Saruhiko was going to be staring at his crotch. It could work. As long as he didn’t pop a full boner, it probably wouldn’t even be that noticeable.

Plus, they were going to be watching a movie. All of this was going to get forgotten after the first fifteen minutes, anyway.

It was fine. Cool. He had this.

Cleaning off the dishes and storing the leftover curry definitely helped bring the mood back down from the critical point. By the time he made his way over to the couch, Yata had calmed down considerably. Still, the moment when Saruhiko looked up from his PDA and met his gaze had a little spike of anxious excitement stirring in his gut, all the same.

Chitose was right – he really was a lovesick idiot. Can’t help it, I guess. It was Saruhiko, after all – always his weakest point. That was why it all felt so frustrating, painful, and completely intoxicating.

“Done already?”

“Told you it was no big deal.” Yata picked up the remote and turned the TV on before flopping down onto the couch. “Let’s get this going – wait, where’s my controller?”

“Hm?” Saruhiko glanced around, then set down his PDA and picked up the controller from his other side. “Here.”

“Thanks.” He reached over to take it, and – fucking surprise – their fingers brushed.

It took everything Yata had not to jerk his hand back like he’d been burned; as it was, he kind of froze up for the third time, a little surge of warm shooting out from the point of contact, and raised his eyes without thinking.

Saruhiko was looking at him again, and when their eyes made contact, Yata felt that disturbing fluttery feeling in his stomach, again. Shit! Why does this keep happening? He quickly looked away, trying hard not to think about how close they were, side by side on his shitty little couch – why the hell wasn’t he saving for a bigger one, anyway? – and how pale and touchable Saruhiko’s skin looked against the dark frame of his glasses.

One of the dreams had kind of started like this… Sitting on the couch together, anyway. Except Yata had reached up and slid Saruhiko’s glasses off, and then Saruhiko had leaned in towards him, and it had kind of done a time skip to him lying back while Saruhiko undid his fly and then opened his mouth and –

Shit. Yata swallowed, hard, and pulled the controller towards him, shifting awkwardly in his seat. He could feel his body react to the fantasy and tried to resist the urge to check and make sure his shirt was bunched up over his crotch. His fingers were tingling. Goddamnit. Just… get the fucking movie on. Hopefully that would chill things out again, because it seemed like he couldn’t spend two minutes without getting turned on by his closest friend, and he needed a distraction, badly.

It was lucky that Bandou had been working overtime lately and hadn’t used the account, because it meant the movie was still in his Recently Viewed. Yata navigated through the menu on auto-pilot, pre-occupied with shooting sidelong glances to make sure Saruhiko wasn’t watching him and trying to stealthily pull his shirt into a strategic position.

I should’ve worn a hoodie or something… damn.

The video started to play; he set the controller down and gave his shorts a tug to straighten them. The fabric shifted around his half-hard dick, a little hint of almost-discomfort distracting him momentarily. His imagination was seriously getting out of control, too – it was almost like he could hear the fake moans from that stupid porn and –

“Oi.” Saruhiko’s voice cut into his thoughts, with a wary tone and a bit of a sharp edge. “This isn’t actually the movie you invited me to watch, is it?”

“Huh?” Yata glanced up at him, took in the furrowed eyebrows and the deep frown for about half a second, and then looked up at his TV screen.

… in time to see Glasses Guy from the fucking porn he’d started watching look up with a devious look in his eyes and his mouth full of cock.

What the fuck?” Yata scrambled for the controller, feeling half the blood in his body rush up to his face as the sound of deep moaning and cheesy music assaulted his ears. The stupid thing had apparently started up where he’d abandoned it on Sunday when his embarrassment had overwhelmed him, which meant… right in the middle of the action, and it was really fucking obvious that this was a gay porn. He jammed his finger into the pause button so hard it hurt, and he was kind of surprised the controller didn’t break altogether.

The movie didn’t stop. “Shit! Fucking… stop already!” His fingers slammed frantically over the keys, trying to find the right combination to end this humiliating experience. “Goddamnit…”

Even when he tried to avoid looking at it, he could hear it – not just the moans and the music, but those unmistakeable slick sounds that planted the vivid mental image of not just what was happening on the screen but also his dream’s version of it directly into his head.

Despite being in the midst of blind panic, he could feel his body reacting honestly.

Fucking kill me now…

The sound cut off abruptly, and when Yata glanced up, startled and alarmed, he found Saruhiko holding the remote he’d set back down earlier. The TV was off.

There was a long, tense moment of silence.

Yata was still processing what had just happened, heart racing and face flushed, when the controller was plucked from his stiff hands. Saruhiko turned it over, dispassionately examining it. “The battery got dislodged,” he announced, cool and even, and glanced up to raise an eyebrow. “Probably when you were scrambling around like an idiot.”

If it was possible to flush even more… Actually, it was, because his face went up a notch in temperature. “Wh-who are you calling an idiot?” he muttered, sounding weak even to his own ears.

He still couldn’t believe what had just happened.

“Who was it who just blew through the menus and didn’t check to make sure you selected the right movie?” Saruhiko drawled back, turning his eyes back to the controller as he deftly slid the battery back into place. “By the way, I think I know more about your friend now than I ever wanted to.”

“Eh?” Yata blinked at him, and then it clicked in his head. Right. This was Bandou’s account, so of course it made sense to assume that it was Bandou who’d watched the porn. “A-Ah… right. My – my friend. Yeah.” Mentally, he shot an apology to his fellow clansman. “K-kind of awkward, huh? Ha ha…”

Silence fell between them again in the wake of that weak laugh; with his thoughts scrambled, Yata came up completely blank of any ideas on what to say.

Now what?

“Here.” Abruptly, Saruhiko was leaning in to drop the controller back into his hands. For a moment, even though it was irrational – and probably impossible with the remaining distance between them – Yata could’ve sworn he felt hot breath against his face and neck as more of that now disturbingly sensual-sounding drawl met his ears. “You should probably hit the pause button before I turn the TV back on, Misaki.”

It was probably the sound of his own name that finally broke his nerve. Misaki. Saruhiko had a particular way of saying it, not with the mockery he’d thrown out back when they were at odds, but a kind of emphasis that seemed to make it special. Misaki. The name he hated, but… different. Soft. Slow. Lingering. It sent a shiver down his spine; his toes curled a little in his socks and his fingers twitched against the controller… Misaki.

Yata sprang up off the couch, letting the controller hit the floor and pulling instinctively at the bottom of his shirt as he turned away. “I-I-I’m getting a sweater!” he blurted, hastily striding for the bedroom. “Because! It – it’s cold! In here! Right!”

He slammed the door shut behind him, backing away and staring at it for a moment with his heart pounding and his breath coming fast and hard, halfway expecting Saruhiko to come bursting through and demand to… fight him. Or something.

Something, hah…

His dick was uncomfortably hard; when he looked down, it was creating a very noticeable tent in his shorts. He fucking hoped to god that Saruhiko had missed it when he stood up.

“Damn,” Yata muttered, under his breath, reaching up to run a hand through his hair with agitation.

What the hell was he going to do about this?

There was no way he could go back out like he was now; it was way too noticeable. He could get a hoodie or a sweater and cover it up, but it was still going to be there, and if the rest of the evening was any indication, he could expect a lot more of this crap. At some point, it was probably going to become more than just uncomfortable.

“Don’t come crying to me when his ass is on your couch and you’re up to your neck in sexual frustration.”

“Fuck you, Chitose.” He was more than a little peeved that those words had come true. They weren’t helpful either. Yata wracked his brain, trying to find an easy solution. There had to be something…

“Oh hey, you know what helps with that? Take a little ‘private time’ before she – or, y’know, he – comes over.”

‘Private time’…

“Works every time, and they’ll never know the difference.”

No way. There was no fucking way he could do something like that. Yata’s eyes darted nervously towards the door. Anyway, it was too late for that, right? Saruhiko was in his goddamn apartment. He couldn’t just…

“Works every time…”

Saruhiko touching him… Saruhiko staring into his eyes for long moments… Saruhiko sitting way too close to him… breathing on his face while he talked… saying his name in that voice…

Those stupid dreams…

“… and they’ll never know the difference.”

“Shit.” Yata fumbled with the fastener on his shorts, stepping over to the edge of the futon as he popped the button and then pausing to slide the zipper down and let the clothing drop to his ankles. He sat down heavily, spread his knees, and regarded the hard lump in his boxers with hot embarrassment.

Can’t believe I’m doing this… fuck…

He was going to have to finish quickly, or he’d look suspicious, being in his room for so long. Yata reached in through the slit in the front of his underwear and drew out his dick, letting out a slow breath as he did and feeling ridiculously self-conscious. No one was looking, but somehow… he felt kind of exposed.

Whatever, let’s just get this over with. There was moisture beading at the tip, so he started there, running his thumb over it and sucking in a breath at the rush of sensation. He curled his fingers around the shaft, lightly stroking down and enjoying the brief tease before closing his fist around the base and stroking up, hard.

The first motion was always a relief; Yata shuddered a little and closed his eyes, letting his fingers and thumb catch around the head for that extra spike and then sliding his hand down, going with the flow of what felt best and what his body wanted. The natural rhythm.

There… there

It somehow felt really good, better than usual, and he wasn’t sure if it was because he’d denied himself for a few days or if all the little touches and closeness had just wound him up. Maybe both. It didn’t matter. Biting his lower lip, Yata increased his pace, his head flooded with Saruhiko – his face, his body, his voice… All of it. All of him.

Like that, it was pretty easy to get carried away; he almost forgot why he was doing this, caught up in the fantasy of Saruhiko’s hands on him; Saruhiko’s skin under his own fingers. Yata squeezed his fingers briefly, catching his breath at the added pressure, and thought about Saruhiko leaning close to him, staring into his eyes, saying something – saying his name – in that low tone.

Misaki. He could hear it in his head – hell, he could see it, the way those thin lips moved as they formed the syllables, slowly. His pace quickened again, pleasure mounting in his lower body as he imagined it. Mi~sa~ki~…

“Misaki, it shouldn’t take you this long to find a – ”

Yata’s eyes shot open, his hand freezing mid-stroke.

No… way…

That was undeniably the real Saruhiko standing there in the doorway to Yata’s room, his hand frozen on the handle and his eyes wide, mouth still open as if he’d just kind of stalled out in mid-sentence.

No… no… no no no, fuck, this isn’t happening!

It was something right out of a nightmare: the object of his fantasy walking in on him mid-jerk-off. For that first second, Yata sat there, stiff and inactive and unable to properly think, while Saruhiko stood in front of him, still as stone, staring. Except that gaze was not on his face – it was…

AH!” All at once, Yata’s brain kick-started; he grabbed a handful of the blanket and flung it over his lap, face flaring up with furious embarrassment as he started to sputter. “D-d-don’t look! Dumbass! Wh-wh-what… you… wait… how… why…” He couldn’t even handle looking at Saruhiko anymore, eyes fixed on the fist he’d clenched on the covers, which was white-knuckled and trembling. “Kn-kn-knock first, you bastard!”

An incredibly uncomfortable silence followed.

Yata was pretty sure he was going to die of shame, right there. What the hell? Why? Why’d this happen? Why’d he have to come in now? His entire face was burning up, hotter than Homra’s flames, so hot he felt like he was going to pass out. How the fuck am I going to recover from this?

All at once, he could hear his bedroom door shut, and then the sound of hastily retreating footsteps from the other side.

Then, nothing.

He ran away. It… made sense, but somehow… Yata raised his eyes slowly, and took in the empty room. Saruhiko had definitely left in a hurry, without even saying anything – which, yeah, was probably normal in this stupidly humiliating scenario. Still, outside of his embarrassment and the unpleasant adrenaline rush from the encounter, there was a sick feeling of dread building steadily in Yata’s stomach.

I didn’t… I mean, this didn’t just ruin everything… right?

That awful possibility – the chance that Saruhiko had just up and left, without a word and without ever planning to talk to him again – overrode the embarrassment and shame. Yata scrambled to his feet, hastily tucking his clothing back into place even as he stumbled towards the door.

Don’t you dare fucking leave over something stupid like this, you idiot monkey!


Fushimi honestly wasn’t too sure what he’d planned to do after shutting the door and extracting himself from that… situation. There was a ringing in his ears that pretty much drowned out the rapid staccato beat of his heart, and he was acting almost entirely on autopilot, driven by an irrational panic that translated into this urgent need to retreat before he did something stupid.

… Like staring for far too long at Misaki’s crotch, maybe?

Somehow or another, he’d crossed the room to the couch; Fushimi felt his knees tremble, and sat down heavily, not sure if he felt more stunned or… perversely fascinated.

He really didn’t know how to react to what he’d just seen, at all.

Well… maybe that wasn’t totally true. There were a number of different ways he could’ve reacted, starting with a sarcastic comment and ending with mercilessly teasing Misaki all night. But when he’d walked in seen… that… he hadn’t been able to react normally. Even now…

Now…

There were two images that had branded themselves in his mind, and they were warring for dominance in his thoughts. The first was Misaki’s face in the instant that Fushimi had opened the door, a split second before he’d realized that he’d been interrupted. Eyes closed, flushed, bottom lip caught between his teeth… Tense. Needy. So that’s it, Fushimi’s brain whispered at him, afterward. That was how Misaki looked in that kind of moment.

The second was Misaki’s cock, hard and ready, right hand fisted around it. That hand had been in motion, quick and rhythmic movements, when he’d opened the door, and now his brain wanted to play that back for him, put it on repeat; imagine the sight of Misaki’s dick twitching in his hand and fluid leaking from the top as his flushed face twisted in pleasure…

A familiar, insistent ache was building in Fushimi’s crotch before he’d realized that he’d gotten too carried away with that fantasy. His jeans felt suddenly tight against the growing pressure, and he could feel his face heat in reaction – not entirely from embarrassment.

Misaki…

He really needed to leave, immediately – honestly, he wasn’t sure why he hadn’t yet. Fushimi straightened with the intent of pushing himself up from the couch and heading directly for the front door. Misaki was the one who’d been caught, sure, but he hadn’t done anything more rash than get so turned on by thirty seconds of porn – gay porn, Fushimi’s brain supplied, unhelpfully – that he had to go relieve himself immediately. Which was stupid and probably humiliating, but not overly revealing.

It wouldn’t be difficult even for an idiot like Misaki to figure out that Fushimi’s reaction was revealing.

He won’t have a chance if I’m gone before he comes out.

Unfortunately, before he could move to put that plan into action, the bedroom door swung open and Misaki all but burst out of it, wide-eyed and with the look of someone who expected to have to run into battle. “Sar – !” He came to an abrupt halt when he noticed Fushimi on the couch, breath catching audibly.

Fushimi mentally cursed himself, resisting the urge to click his tongue with frustration, and subtly shifted back against the couch as if he’d had no intention of leaving in the first place.

There was no way to stand up now without being found out; at least in his seated position, his hoodie covered the problem. He crossed his arms over his chest almost reflexively, returning that startled gaze with what he hoped was a flat stare.

“What?”

Misaki jerked a little at that, blinking rapidly, and then grimaced. “Didn’t… think you’d still be here,” he muttered, reaching up to scratch at the back of his head as he turned his gaze to the side. His cheeks were flushed – whether from embarrassment or his earlier activities, Fushimi couldn’t tell – and his clothing was disheveled, as if he’d pulled it together in a rush.

He had accurately guessed what Fushimi would do, although his reasoning was probably off. It was kind of annoying. “Would you rather I wasn’t?”

“Huh?” At that, Misaki glanced up at him, and his expression shifted from confusion to alarm. “Th-that’s not what I meant!” His shoulders hunched, hands balling into fists, and he looked away again, scowling at nothing in particular. “I kinda thought… you might wanna leave, though.”

The openly self-conscious tone was both reassuring – at least Misaki was feeling as awkward about this situation as he was, if not more – and frustrating. It was strangely endearing, and Fushimi wished it wasn’t, because it wasn’t doing him any favors at the moment. He was already trying not to notice the obvious bulge in Misaki’s shorts – which was no surprise, considering that there’d been no time for him to… finish…

Fushimi clicked his tongue, turning his head to frown at the TV instead. His face felt uncomfortably warm. “Well, you thought wrong,” he mumbled.

The silence that filled the air for the next few seconds was stifling.

Misaki was the one to break it, letting out what sounded like a frustrated breath and then abruptly moving away from the door. Fushimi only had time to glance at him sideways, and then he was dropping down onto the previously unoccupied couch cushion with another sigh, slouching a bit against the back.

For a moment afterwards, neither of them looked at the other, and then – finally, reluctantly – Misaki muttered, “Sorry.” He paused, cleared his throat, and then added, even quieter, “I made things weird.”

At that, Fushimi did turn his head, and met Misaki’s flustered – but sincere – gaze. Something in his chest felt like it turned, and there was a fluttering in his stomach. He didn’t handle that look well. It was one of those things about Misaki, unbearable and irresistible in equal measure.

“It’s fine,” he managed after a beat or two, equally soft and reluctant. Somehow propelled by the honest apology, he ended up adding, “I didn’t know you were gay.”

“Oh… right.” If possible, Misaki’s face turned even more red; he swallowed, grimacing again. “I-it’s not like I didn’t say it because I was trying to hide it or anything. I-I mean, I didn’t know either, so…” He let that trail off, offering a bit of an awkward shrug.

Fushimi frowned. Somehow, despite his awareness of all the things he’d told himself logically about this, the confirmation that yes, Misaki is attracted to men, made him feel kind of light-headed. He raised an eyebrow, trying to push the feeling aside. “What, thirty seconds of a dirty movie made you realize you were gay?”

“Eh?” Misaki blinked at him, momentarily caught off-guard, and then scowled, eyes narrowing. “Fuck you – it wasn’t the stupid porn, goddamnit!” He abruptly shook his head, reaching up to run a hand through his hair with obvious agitation. “Ah, screw this stupid conversation! Whatever! I don’t care!” When he raised his eyes again, they were intent and determined. “It’s you, okay? I like you!” If anything, he looked even more flustered, but he kept going, as if it would kill him to hold back at this point. “I f-fucking did… that… because you were driving me crazy – because I like the shit out of your stupid ass! Got it?”

Fushimi stared at him. Misaki stared back, almost glaring, desperate and embarrassed, and he couldn’t make sense of it. “I like you.” Simple words, and they sounded so foreign. Just that: I like you. I. Like. You. It felt like he’d never heard them before in his life, at least not strung together like that. Not to him. Not directed at him, where he was the ‘you’ and someone else was the ‘I’, and there was honest emotion in it. For a moment, he couldn’t breathe; it felt like his heart stopped beating. All he managed, after a long and tense silence, was a small, weak, “Oh.”

It was the wrong thing to say; outside of his shock, he could see Misaki flinch back a bit, as if the word had struck him. Then his shoulders hunched and he seemed to curl back into himself, head turning so that he was facing away from Fushimi even as his expression started to fall. “Okay. Yeah.” There was a noticeable strain in his voice. “Just thought I’d say it.”

That reaction was largely what snapped him out of his own haze of disbelief. It hadn’t seemed real at all while Misaki was looking at him with hopeful, determined eyes, but watching him struggle to hide his disappointment was causing it to hit home.

Misaki had said, “I like you.”

To him.

It was as if his heart had gone straight from a dead stop into a frenzy. Fushimi swallowed around the lump that was rising at the back of his throat, trying to find the words that would match the raw honesty of Misaki’s confession. They seemed to stick at the back of his mouth, instinctive wariness holding them back – because these things weren’t for him, after all, according to the whispers at the back of his head that would never fully leave him alone.

I like you. I love you. You’re everything.

The feeling was so strong he could’ve choked on it, but the words wouldn’t come.

“You don’t need to – y’know – say anything,” Misaki was saying, still in that tense voice, his eyes downcast and his hands clenched into tight fists in his lap. “I get that it’s weird, so… whatever.”

Fushimi clenched his teeth, torn between frustration and irrational panic. If I can’t say it, then… “Misaki.”

“What?” Misaki muttered in response, without turning his head.

“Look at me.” Something like nostalgia stirred within him, saying those words.

A hint of stubbornness twisted on Misaki’s lips – as if he felt it, too. “Why?”

“What do you mean, why?” Being able to respond like that somehow made it easier to breathe; at least he still had this small bit of familiar ground to stand on. “Didn’t I say you should always look at me?”

It was almost possible to predict the timing of Misaki’s movements – the way his eyes widened, shoulders tensing. And then his head jerked up and over, their eyes meeting, and Fushimi tried to focus on keeping the trembling in his fingers to a minimum to avoid having to think about what he was doing as he cupped the corner of Misaki’s jaw and leaned in.

The initial moment felt something like a snap of electricity – the combination of warm skin under his hand, the close proximity of another face to his, and the soft pliancy of Misaki’s mouth against his own. It was strange, but it felt good, and for a brief moment, that was enough. Fushimi left light despite the excitement holding his body tense – like a weight had lifted off of him.

Some of that started to fade when he realized that Misaki hadn’t moved at all, hadn’t leaned into the kiss or relaxed or even – seemingly – breathed. Fushimi pulled back, deliberately squashing his own reluctance, and opened his eyes, heart still racing and a tiny edge of the earlier panic worming into his thoughts.

Misaki’s eyes were closed, but he sucked in a sharp breath when given a bit of distance and the lids fluttered up. He looked dazed, like he hadn’t quite put together what had just happened.

It wasn’t entirely reassuring. Fushimi took in a breath of his own, trying to hide his uncertainty. “Misa – ”

He was startled out of finishing when Misaki’s face suddenly changed, eyes seeming to catch fire even as his lids lowered halfway. In the next instant, he was reaching up to roughly grasp the back of Fushimi’s head and bring their lips together again.

The kiss was awkward and harsh, but the desperate edge to it seemed to spread that hint of a blaze, sinking all the way down to ignite into an inferno in Fushimi’s core. Misaki’s fingers tangled in his hair, noticeably shaky, breath stuttering against his cheek, and despite the fact that the their mouths weren’t quite aligned right and Misaki’s nose bumped against the bottom rim of his glasses, it felt and tasted like everything Fushimi had ever wanted.

Misaki started to pull back, breathing quickly, and Fushimi chased him without holding back. Their lips bumped together again, awkward and almost accidental, and Misaki huffed out something that sounded like a laugh. Despite the little flicker of annoyance that came with his own clumsiness, the sound was contagious – Fushimi felt the beginnings of a tiny, reluctant smile curving on his own lips. They came together again, hasty and frantic and clumsy – but mutually leaning together; mutually hungry for it. The euphoric triumph that bubbled up through Fushimi’s stomach and chest seemed to have an answer of equal intensity from within Misaki.

Reciprocated feelings. Reciprocated desire.

So this is how it feels, huh?

His palm felt hot against Misaki’s jaw; Fushimi slid it down to brace against the side of his neck instead, shifting his elbow inward so he didn’t jostle the hand still clenching in his hair. He could feel the echo of a pulse thrumming against the base of his thumb, and his own heart seemed to pound with more force against his chest. They were starting to find a rhythm and a balance, Misaki’s mouth fitting to his for long beats and then pulling back ever so slightly to reconnect. It was soft, sweet, and completely intoxicating; his head was starting to swim, and his body ached pleasantly.

It felt like the culmination of a dream. He never wanted this to stop.

Eventually, it had to, though – if nothing else, so that they could breathe properly. Misaki’s lips parted from his with slow reluctance and when he slid his eyes open with effort, they locked gazes immediately, panting softly out of sync.

Misaki smiled at him, his eyes hazy with desire and a kind of dazed happiness, and it sent a jolt all the way through Fushimi’s entire body. “I like you,” he heard himself mumble, sounding oddly broken outside the fog of bliss that seemed to have settled over his head and taken over his thoughts. He wasn’t sure where the words were coming from now; it was like they were just spilling out of him, after being involuntarily held in.

“I like you,” he repeated, watching Misaki’s eyes widen and start to waver, and took in a shaking breath. “Misaki… I like you.”

“Me too,” Misaki answered him, voice rough with emotion, and leaned in as if to steal that breath, mumbling against his lips, “I like you. Saruhiko.”

He knew it, of course – he’d heard it not that long ago – but hearing it again made a shiver run down the length of his spine, his eyes sliding shut automatically as he closed the distance between them.

Kissing was already starting to come easier as Fushimi began to familiarize the sensation of Misaki’s mouth against his – the shift and drag motions growing more confident with each passing second. The need for more – more taste, more touch, more of Misaki – was mounting within him, growing steadily more urgent, until he felt bold enough to slide his tongue out along the soft line of Misaki’s bottom lip, tentatively testing.

Misaki made a little sound, like something between a gasp and a whine, and his lips parted, mouth opening to Fushimi’s hesitant touch, hot and wet inside. It was… familiar in a way, but also very different. Misaki’s taste. The ache in his body intensified; an involuntary noise escaped Fushimi’s throat as Misaki’s tongue swiped clumsily against his, slick and promising.

The feeling was incredibly good – he couldn’t believe how good.

His entire body felt hot, almost uncomfortably so; the combination of these new intimate sensations and the stimulation from earlier fed directly into fast-building arousal. Misaki made a low, throaty noise into his mouth, and Fushimi’s dick twitched in the confines of his jeans.

It was possible that this was escalating too quickly, but the images from before were coming back to the front of his mind as they kissed open-mouthed, and it was adding fuel to an already blazing fire. Was Misaki in a similar condition? He’d jerked off earlier, yes, but it didn’t seem like he’d finished… Wouldn’t that make him even more bothered than before?

Fushimi could see it in his head, all too clearly: Misaki, sitting on the edge of his futon with his shorts down and his legs spread while he touched himself. His own cock throbbed in response to the mental image, and he let out another small, muffled groan, fingers twitching a little with instinctive want.

He was having hard time determining whether his reasoning was actually sound or if his lust-fogged brain just accepted whatever excuses would let him do what he wanted, but… they’d come this far…

It’s fine if I’m careful. Fushimi slid his hand down from Misaki’s neck, fingers lightly brushing over the bump of his collarbone. It was strange and exciting to be able to touch like this, to feel the little places on Misaki’s body that he could only wonder about before. He got a little shiver in response, and the fingers in his hair tightened, which was probably a good sign. I just want… I want…

He wanted to make Misaki feel good, with his own touch. That single, multi-faceted need was consuming his every thought. Fushimi slid his fingers carefully down the hard line of Misaki’s chest and onto the flat plain of his midsection. None of this was worth it unless he could do it right; it was meaningless if Misaki didn’t want it. But still… he wanted to try…

There was no way he could have predicted he’d get to this point in the first place – that fact alone spurred him on.

Misaki’s breath hitched noticeably when Fushimi’s hand reached the lower part of his belly just above the waistband of his shorts, but after the initial freeze-up, he shifted one knee sideways to bump against Fushimi’s on the couch, surging up into their kiss with renewed force.

The small, encouraging motions were enough to push him past the breaking point. Fingers shaking with a mix of anticipation and anxious excitement, Fushimi slid his hand down over the waistband and between Misaki’s legs.

He was definitely still in the same condition; the unmistakeable feel of a hard, fabric-covered lump beneath his hand sent a sharp spike of pleasant want up from Fushimi’s lower body even before he registered the choked moan and full-body jolt that Misaki made in response.

Their kiss broke, both of them breathing heavily and neither making a move to pull back further than a few inches. Misaki’s hold on his hair was painful by now, but Fushimi couldn’t have cared if he tried. If anything, he liked it – though whether it was the satisfaction at Misaki’s lack of restraint or just the fact that the pain felt kind of good with arousal coursing through him this strongly, he didn’t really know. Either way, Misaki was staring at him with lidded eyes, face flushed, lips slightly swollen, gaze heady.

“Saruhiko…” The low timbre of Misaki’s voice sent a shudder down his spine; the pitch and tone were somehow thick with lust. He cupped his fingers around the shaft of covered erection beneath them and gave it a slow stroke, watching with fascination as Misaki’s expression contorted, eyes squeezing shut and another low, needy sound escaping him. “Mm… Saruhiko…”

“I want to see it again.” The words were out before he could really think about them, and Fushimi could only manage to be surprised by the hoarse, raw sound of his own voice. His fingers tightened a little on Misaki’s cock. “Is it okay?”

“Eh?” The flush on Misaki’s face intensified, a hint of something like mortification worming into his expression as his eyes opened wide. “S-See… it…? H-hold on – you mean – ?”

Had he pushed too far? The sudden uncertainty had Fushimi withdrawing immediately, a slight edge of panic creeping in through the haze of want clouding his thoughts. He pulled his fingers back from Misaki’s body, instinctively wary of a possible rejection. “It’s fine. Forget it.”

“No… Wa-wait a sec…” Misaki slid his fingers free of Fushimi’s hair, offering him a small, nervous smile. “Okay – yeah – I-I mean, sure.” He turned his body forward again, reaching down for the fastening on his shorts and darting his gaze back up to Fushimi’s face anxiously. “I’ll – give me a sec. Okay?”

That look… Again, it was too endearing. “Mm,” Fushimi responded, not sure if he trusted himself with more. His eyes dropped to where Misaki was fumbling to undo the button and unzip himself with fingers that were shaking – with anxiety or excitement, it was hard to tell. Maybe both.

The zipper came undone, and Misaki shifted back, lifting his hips to slide his shorts off and down to his knees, allowing them to drop to his ankles from there. Even the tips of his ears had gone red, and he swallowed hard at that point, glancing from the obvious tent in his boxers up to meet Fushimi’s gaze, with a blend of embarrassment and determination that was even more attractive than before. “I-I’m gonna… I mean, I’ll take it out, okay?” The words came out in a rush, and he topped it off with a nervous little scowl. “Don’t laugh.”

I’ve seen it already, though. Why Misaki thought he’d laugh at this point was beyond him, but Fushimi offered a short nod anyway. “Sure.”

Misaki frowned at him for a beat or two longer, and then turned his head back down, hunching his shoulders a little and taking in what sounded like a steadying breath. Then he reached into the slit in the front of his underwear and pulled his dick through, thumb and index finger holding it at the base as he shifted the fabric back.

Fushimi let out the breath he’d been holding, slowly. This was the image from his brain – but closer, clearer; within reach, even. His fingers gave an involuntary twitch, and he was suddenly very aware of the erection pressing up against the inside of his own pants.

Can I…?

“Th-there, see? N-not that big a deal, huh?” It almost sounded like Misaki was just stammering to himself in an attempt to bolster his own confidence. When Fushimi glanced up at his face, the gaze that met his was strangely self-conscious and even almost bashful. “I-I mean, you… saw it… right? B-before.”

The sudden urge to lean in and kiss him was too much. Fushimi held back long enough to mumble back a low, “I saw it,” before giving in, and after a moment of surprise, Misaki pressed back up against him, his mouth warm and eager.

The motions of kissing definitely came easier now, but it still had that strange, new, exciting feeling. The last little bit of Fushimi’s unconscious self-restraint slipped as they aligned again; he slid his fingers blindly over Misaki’s thigh, using that as a guide to make his way up.

A small, muffled moan against his lips was the response when he managed to reach his goal and brush his hand over Misaki’s cock. It felt different from his own in some way, but he didn’t particularly want to spend any length of time trying to figure out how. There were a dozen different desires swirling around his head, making the world around him seem to spin pleasantly as he tried to sort time into some kind of order.

After what had happened earlier, he thought he probably wanted to touch Misaki – finish the session from earlier, drawing out pleasure with his own hands and getting to see the result. Fushimi curled his fingers around the shaft, trying a light, experimental stroke and reveling in the responding shudder and swift intake of breath he got in return. This wouldn’t be too difficult – he was sort of familiar with it, since he’d done it to himself; there would be small differences between what he liked and what Misaki liked, but figuring them out shouldn’t be too hard. The idea of kissing and touching Misaki until he came was making Fushimi feel sort of light-headed. He pulled back and stared at the flushed face in front of him, his vision blurred a little with his eyelids not quite lifting and his own cheeks feeling distinctly warm.

Yes, it was a good idea… Very little room for error, and plenty of gain.

But then…

Maybe… there was something else. Something that had nagged at him in the back of his head since he’d first walked in on Misaki and caught him with his dick in his hand.

Something he really felt he wanted to do, foolish or not.

I must be crazy. But then, he’d come this far. Misaki had confessed to him, and he’d said it back. They’d kissed. He was holding Misaki’s cock in his hand right now, and everything he’d done was apparently more than welcome. The level of acceptance – an acceptance he’d never thought was even remotely possible before tonight – was almost overwhelming.

He didn’t know how to react to that, but he wanted way too much from this. There was probably no way to go back now.

In that case, I’ll go ahead and do what I want.

Misaki stared at him, eyebrows furrowing, as Fushimi pulled back and shifted as if to rise from the couch. “What are you – ?” The question broke off abruptly as he slid down onto his knees on the floor instead, and when he turned, bracing a hand on Misaki’s leg and looking up, he was being studied with wide eyes. “Sa… Saru…?”

Despite the startled reaction, a light tug was enough to get Misaki to spread his knees to either side, allowing space for Fushimi to shift in between them. “Misaki…” He slid his hands up to the prominent jut of hipbone and eyed the amount of couch seat between them critically. “Move forward a bit.”

“Huh? Ah… r-right.” Misaki braced his hands on either side of him, sliding forward until he was sitting almost at the edge of the cushion, with Fushimi’s elbows splayed over his thighs on either side and his cock still standing up staunchly through the opening in his boxers. He held himself rigidly, all of his muscles seeming to have tensed up with nerves and anticipation. “Saruhiko,” he started, voice cracking a bit. He cleared his throat and tried again. “You… you don’t have to – I mean… I-it’s not like…”

Fushimi slid off his glasses, setting them to the side, and then raised his gaze to look up at Misaki through his eyelashes, allowing himself a smirk. “But you don’t mind if I do it, right?”

It was possible to see the muscles in Misaki’s throat move as he swallowed. The blend of anxiety, excitement and embarrassment on his face as he stared back down was way too appealing, even with Fushimi’s vision blurred slightly. Beautiful, expressive Misaki… “O-of course not! But… you…”

“I want to.” He had to put that out there to stem off the flow of useless protests for his benefit. Not that it was necessarily a bad thing, Misaki worrying about him, but in a moment like this, he didn’t need it. “If you don’t want it, say so – otherwise, you can just enjoy yourself.”

Misaki’s eyes softened noticeably; he swallowed again, relaxing a bit. “Saruhiko...”

That’s right. Fushimi shifted his gaze to the erection in front of his face. It was strange to see it up close, but he wasn’t really complaining. The simple fact that he was about to do this at all had his own cock throbbing with anticipation. Just enjoy it, Misaki.

He reached out to take hold of the base, keeping one hand on Misaki’s hip and his elbow pressed down on the opposite thigh to prevent any thrashing around. As much as he enjoyed that unrestrained side, he wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about an unplanned attempt at deep-throating.

Misaki’s hands were in fists on the couch cushion, white-knuckled, as Fushimi leaned closer. He could feel the cock in his hand give a little twitch as he opened his mouth, Misaki’s breath hitching above him, and then he caught the tip of it with his tongue and slid his lips over the rest of the head.

The reaction was immediate: Misaki let out a groan that was half-gasp, his body tensing up as Fushimi lowered himself, taking as much into his mouth as he could manage. It was less than he’d expected, but it didn’t seem like Misaki cared much, panting and moaning above him even as he took his time. He took a moment to get used to the feeling – the girth and taste of it – and then pulled back slowly, reveling in the appreciative reaction he was getting. When he ran his tongue over the tip, catching the bitter moisture at the top, Misaki shuddered all over.

It was definitely gratifying.

The whole process became easier as he went down on it the second time – the sides of Misaki’s cock were already slicked up from the first time, so he was able to slide down a little further, taking more into his mouth. He got another moan in return, and decided to experiment a little while pulling back, sucking in his cheeks as he did.

“Ha – ah!” Next to his forehead, Misaki’s stomach hitched; when Fushimi craned his eyes up for a look, his head was tilted back, face flushed, eyes shut tight and lips parted as he struggled for breath, gorgeous and uncontained. “Sa… Saruhiko…” he panted, tipping his head forward just enough to open his eyes and aim a vague, heated gaze downward.

It relit that fire in Fushimi’s belly; he focussed on what was doing with a fervency he rarely felt. The memory of that face was going to be burned onto his brain for the rest of his life.

That’s fine, he told himself, starting to move his mouth over Misaki’s cock in a rhythmic motion while Misaki strained against him, gasping and whining as he approached his limit. That’s good. This moment should stay with him: the first time he brought Misaki to orgasm.

In his current situation, he could almost completely silence the tiny hint of doubt that the second was a given.

The fists beside him were tense and trembling, and he could feel the muscles in Misaki’s thighs tighten beneath his arms. “Saru… hiko…” he managed to gasp out, the last bit trailing off in a moan, his bottom lip catching between his teeth for a second as Fushimi let his tongue slid along the side. “Wai – st-stop… I’m going to… I’ll…”

He deliberately ignored the warning, pushing himself to go further down than before, taking in more, and Misaki froze up for a second, hovering at the edge. Then, abruptly, his body jerked and his cock twitched, warm liquid releasing into Fushimi’s mouth as he let out a drawn-out, breathy moan, legs and arms shaking violently. There was more than Fushimi had expected, and he nearly choked, but forced himself to continue until Misaki whined low in his throat and curled into himself, over-sensitive and trembling all over. That was the point when Fushimi pulled back, working his sore jaw muscles to swallow what was in his mouth and swiping the back of his hand over his lips to catch the rest.

Misaki was staring at him, flushed and out of it, eyes still slightly glazed over as he breathed heavily and his body came down from the high.

The sight filled Fushimi with deep satisfaction. “How was it?” he murmured. “Misaki?”

For a moment, Misaki just looked at him, blinking a few times as if he didn’t quite understand the question, and then his eyes narrowed, and he abruptly reached out, cupping Fushimi’s face with surprisingly gentle hands and bending forward to kiss him fervently.

The unexpected action sent little pin-pricks of pleasant shock through his body; after a moment’s hesitation, Fushimi tilted his head back up into the kiss, his hands braced on Misaki’s legs as he returned it.

When they finally broke apart, Misaki pulled back just far enough to rest his forehead against Fushimi’s, a wide smile forming on his face. “Fucking… awesome,” he responded, emphatically. “Saruhiko… that was… it felt so amazing; it was incredible, just – just…”

“Well, that explains why you finished so quickly,” Fushimi murmured, after a brief pause made it clear that there wasn’t any more praise coming. He felt more than a little gratified, but trying to figure out how to respond to that honestly was awkward. “Or is that your inner virgin coming out?”

The smile dipped down into a bit of a frown. “Shut up,” Misaki muttered, the flush on his face gaining an extra edge of red. “I-it’s not like I can help that.” He shifted his gaze off to the side, muttering under his breath, “Anyway, there were those dreams…”

Fushimi frowned back up at him. “Dreams?”

“N-nothing! Never mind! Forget I said that!” Misaki leaned back, clearly flustered now, and then narrowed his eyes again with determination. “Anyway! Just – just stand up! Got it?”

What is he going on about? Fushimi furrowed his brow. “Why would I stand up?”

“It should be obvious, right?” Misaki scowled at him, as if it were somehow Fushimi’s fault that he hadn’t explained himself properly. “I… I’m gonna do it for you.” His blush deepened even further, but he kept his gaze steady, looking serious and stubborn. “So, like I said, stand up!”

The declaration caught him off-guard at first; Fushimi stared blankly for a beat or two. It wasn’t as though he was unaware of the almost painful erection that had been trying to demand his attention through everything. It just hadn’t occurred to him that Misaki would actually want to do something about it.

Reciprocation, huh?

There was a warm feeling building in Fushimi’s chest; in an instinctive attempt to cover it, he mumbled back, “That’s not even remotely obvious, idiot,” and shifted back onto his heels so that he could push himself up. As an afterthought, he reached over to retrieve his glasses first, sliding them back over his nose.

It really would’ve been a waste if he couldn’t clearly see what Misaki was doing.

“Whatever – you know what I mean.” Misaki reached out for him almost as soon as he was standing, bracing his hands tentatively on Fushimi’s hips and tilting his head up. “Can I…? I mean, is it okay…?” There was a definite hint of uncertainty in his expression, but he didn’t hesitate to slid his hands forward, plucking at the zipper in front.

It struck him all at once that Misaki’s hands were on him – Misaki’s face was inches from his dick, with only cloth between them – Misaki was going to do things to him that he’d only imagined before. Fushimi felt a tremor run through him; a mix of disbelief, anticipation, and arousal, with the tiniest edge of panic flooding his whole body. He felt like he could barely breathe.

This was real. This was going to happen.

“Do what you want,” he heard himself respond, miraculously clear if maybe a bit unsteady. His fingers were trembling; he reached out and braced them on Misaki’s shoulders without thinking, responding to a sudden, desperate need to confirm his presence.

Misaki smiled back up at him; it still held a hint of his earlier embarrassment, but his eyes were bright and eager. That look was doing some funny things to Fushimi’s stomach. “Right! Just – just leave it to me!” He lowered his gaze to focus on his hands, hastily undoing the button on Fushimi’s pants before taking a bit more care with the zipper.

There was something unquestionably intimate about being undressed by another person, even if it was just his pants. Fushimi took in a long, slow breath, unable to take his eyes from where Misaki was focussed on his task, fingers moving carefully as he inched the jeans over the hard lump of Fushimi’s erection and then slid them down to his knees.

He hesitated for a moment at that point, raising his eyes again while his hands hovered uncertainly at the bottom edge of Fushimi’s underwear. “Saruhiko. It’s okay, right?”

The ache at this point felt nearly unbearable. “You don’t have to keep asking, you know.”

“R-right! Then…” Misaki turned back down with determined eyes, leaning forward and groping lightly to find the opening in Fushimi’s boxers.

Even that light touch was a relief; Fushimi shut his eyes briefly, unable to supress a little shiver as Misaki slid his cock free, hesitant fingers running along the sides of it. It was like small, pleasant electric signals were buzzing up from his lower body through his torso.

Feels good…

He opened his eyes again in time to catch it as Misaki leaned forward, watching with his heart pounding and something like a mountain of impatience and anticipation weighing on his shoulders as everything seemed to move in slow motion.

Misaki’s tongue caught the tip of his dick first, that first touch of slick softness on the sensitive head drawing a startled noise from the back of his throat. Fushimi’s fingers slid almost compulsively against the fabric beneath them, as warm lips closed in and wet heat engulfed him.

The sensation was beyond what he’d expected, pleasure coursing up through every stream in his body it could find, escaping him in a breathy moan that was almost embarrassing – if he could’ve cared. Misaki was staring up at him as he took more of Fushimi’s cock into his mouth, eyes burning with a kind of fervent want, and that only intensified the feeling – turning it up to a pleasure so strong it almost bled over into pain.

He couldn’t have looked away if he tried. I don’t want to try. I don’t – I want –

“Mi… saki…” he managed to gasp, and then shuddered and lost that train of thought as Misaki pulled back and then took him in again, faster this time, bringing on the rush of sensation that had his head spinning and his thoughts splintering off into useless fragments. It was difficult to control his own body; he badly wanted to thrust forward against the hand that was still braced on his hip, bury his fingers in Misaki’s hair and move at the pace demanded by the yearnings in his own body.

It wasn’t just restraint that held him back. Fushimi watched, transfixed, as Misaki’s mouth moved along the length of his dick, finding it very difficult to pull in enough breath all of a sudden. His entire body was hot and trembling, on edge, but he wouldn’t have given into those urges for anything.

He desperately wanted, with a fervency that surprised him, to let Misaki bring him to orgasm without interference. Just out of pure enthusiasm.

The idea was probably stupid, but with his thoughts clouded with arousal and his body shaking with pleasure, he really didn’t have the capacity to care. Misaki’s movements were starting to grow more confident; he alternated between closing his eyes as if he was actually savoring the experience and tilting his head just enough to stare up at Fushimi with that same hot, longing gaze from before. His pace started to increase, fingers stroking up along the length of cock that he couldn’t quite get his mouth over in time with the bobbing of his head, and Fushimi made another low sound, body tensing as he fought to keep himself still.

A familiar tightness was starting to build in his lower body, intensifying with every motion of Misaki’s lips and tongue. “Misaki,” he managed to get out, low and breathy, “I’m… at my limit… sto – ” The rest was cut off in a sudden gasp as his cock was taken in even further, the tip brushing against the back of Misaki’s throat. He fisted his hands in the fabric beneath them, shaking uncontrollably and moaning with helpless abandon as the suction around his dick increased…

And then he was tipping over the edge, what was left of the world around him dropping out of his consciousness as pleasure throbbed through him and he released into Misaki’s mouth.

There was something wholly satisfying about that thought alone.

The aftermath lasted for what seemed like much longer than usual – if ‘usual’ even counted when comparing his own hand to this – but through the shudders of lingering sensation, he could see Misaki pull back and compose himself, making what looked like a valiant effort to swallow most of what was in his mouth. A fair amount dribbled out the side, and he hastily wiped the back of his hand across it, tipping his head up to look up at Fushimi again.

The sight of that familiar face now – cheeks flushed, lips swollen, and eyes full of a soft warmth even as his expression started to turn up into a smirk – had Fushimi’s heart fluttering even as he started to calm down. There was a feeling rising, impossibly strong, at the back of his throat, and in his current state he had very little will to resist it.

Misaki…

“How’s that?” There was a faint, nervous edge to Misaki’s voice that even the bravado couldn’t quite hide, but before he could ramble on with anything else, Fushimi was already bending forward, one hand lifting to brace on the back of the couch and the other cupping the side of Misaki’s jaw as he shakily brought their lips together.

It was a clumsy excuse for a kiss, but he couldn’t be bothered to care in that moment.

Misaki didn’t seem to care much either, pushing up against him with enthusiasm. There was the hint of a bitter taste on his lips, and the thought of what it must be was a tiny bit exciting. When Fushimi opened his mouth, Misaki followed suit obligingly, a little wave of warmth coming with the more intimate contact.

He couldn’t keep this up for too much longer, though. Fushimi’s knees were trembling, his muscles loosening with the wave of tiredness that always hit him post-orgasm. As he pulled back, reluctantly, Misaki looked up at him with lidded eyes.

“Stop standing there awkwardly,” he mumbled, the hint of a smile tugging at his lips. “Come down here already, Saruhiko.”

It was impossible not to return that smile. “You were the one who told me to stand.”

Misaki gave him a vaguely exasperated look. “Don’t be an asshole. Just… come on.”

There was a fair amount of shuffling, repositioning, and general awkwardness involved in getting them comfortably situated on the couch. Misaki didn’t even bother to pull up his pants, so Fushimi kicked his the rest of the way off as well. They ended up lying on their sides facing each other, with him crammed against the back and Misaki perched dangerously close to the edge, their legs bent and tangled together as best they could on the limited space, halfway hanging off the end despite all efforts. One of Fushimi’s arms was trapped under Misaki’s body, and he had one of Misaki’s beneath his head. He was going to have his circulation cut off somewhere at some point, he was sure, but considering who he had right now in the circle of his arms, that seemed unimportant.

There was a long moment of silence after they’d finished shifting into some semblance of a comfortable position. Misaki’s eyes seemed a darker shade of amber this close, and the look on his face was something between dazed and wondering.

It gave him an incredibly content feeling. Fushimi spread his fingers against the small of Misaki’s back, reveling in this simple form of contact. “How long?” he mumbled, after it seemed like that moment had stretched on long enough.

“Hm?” Misaki’s eyelids had lowered, a kind of lazy contentment in his features. His fingers slid into Fushimi’s hair, hesitantly stroking.

“You confessed to me, remember?” Unconsciously, he fell back on the drawling tone to cover the full extent of his feelings on the subject. “So? How long?”

“Oh. Uh… right.” Misaki looked vaguely embarrassed at that; his fingers stilled. “If we’re talking feelings, I mean… it’s… I guess… kind of always. Sort of.” He grimaced, and then admitted, with obvious reluctance, “I just, y’know, didn’t exactly figure that out until a few days ago.”

Fushimi blinked at him, a little surprised. “Huh? Seriously…” That recently?

Come to think of it, that would explain why Misaki had seemed strangely twitchy all evening. He hadn’t been quite sure what to make of the odd reactions to his own little experiment, to be honest…

“Yeah, all right, I know, I’m dumb, okay?” Misaki scowled back, as if daring him to make some kind of snarky comment. “I get it now, so whatever. I like you, and all that crap. I’ve always liked you, or something, I guess. You know.” There was a brief pause, and then he took in a long breath, eyes growing determined. “I’m – in love with you. Probably. No – definitely. I love you. Saruhiko.”

It felt like time stopped, right there – Fushimi stared back, not daring to so much as breathe but unable to look away from that fierce gaze, full of all the emotion he’d been hoping for and dreading all at the same time. There’s no way, some tiny little panicked voice inside him insisted. He couldn’t live up to this. This was Misaki at his most brilliant, his soul bared for Fushimi’s sake alone, and it wasn’t something he could just accept. He longed for it all the same, the response nearly suffocating him as it fought to rise and fall right off his lips. It was terrifying how strong his own feelings were. Overwhelmingly so.

But still…

Misaki’s eyes were on him, straightforward as always, and in the midst of everything, he had a sense that somehow it would work out in the end.

Just like it did with us before…

“That’s the kind of confession I’d expect from an idiot virgin,” he murmured back, vaguely irritated by the fact that he was unable to keep the tremor completely out of voice, and had to shut his eyes, leaning in so that his forehead bumped Misaki’s, and just managing to mutter an almost inaudible, “Me too.”

He could hear Misaki’s breath hitch but couldn’t bring himself to look up, heartrate starting to increase as the moment seemed to stretch on. It was both unbearably painful and precious. His fingers curled a little against the back of Misaki’s shirt.

It was stupid, because he was the one responding, but somehow it felt like he was waiting for some kind of verdict.

“Man, Saruhiko…” Misaki let out a long sigh, ending in what sounded like a rueful huff of a laugh. “I don’t know how you make an insult and a half-assed response like that sound like such a big deal, but you know…” His fingers slid down from Fushimi’s hair to cup his jaw, calloused thumb stroking up along his cheekbone unexpectedly. “I’m really happy right now.”

The sincere warmth in those words had him opening his eyes again. Misaki was smiling at him, eyes shining and full of fondness, and somehow the tight panic at his core seemed to ease off.

This is fine. It’s good.

“Me too,” he murmured again, briefly shutting his eyes against the careful touch on his face, and then opening them again as Misaki carefully unhooked the backs of his glasses from his ears, one side at a time. Their eyes locked as the frames slid from his nose, and then they were folded one-handed and placed up on the back of the couch.

“Got it,” Misaki announced, a stupid little triumphant smirk on his face, and leaned in to kiss him again.


When Yata drifted awake the next morning, his neck was stiff, his legs were cold, one of his arms was asleep, and his body was cramped and uncomfortable.

And yet, somehow, he felt enormously refreshed.

There was still a kind of sleepy haze settled over his mind, but when his eyes slid open a crack and he caught sight of Saruhiko’s face just inches away, his skin immediately prickled and his heart sped up, throwing him into full wakefulness abruptly.

Oh yeah, right… Saruhiko…

As the initial shock wore off and awareness settled in, he could already feel the smile spreading on his face, warmth building in his chest. Saruhiko’s face was still and slack, chest moving evenly as he breathed. His head was pillowed on Yata’s left arm – definitely the cause of that pins and needles feeling – and his arms hung loosely around Yata’s waist. Even just that feeling – being held in Saruhiko’s arms and having Saruhiko in his arms in return – was so amazing, he thought he was going to explode with it.

Fucking awesome!

It probably would’ve been better if they hadn’t fallen asleep on the couch, but he sort of vaguely remembered some mumbled conversation and a lot of kissing and touching – and then him putting off interrupting it just once more… and then maybe once again… and just one more time…

Well, can’t be helped, right? Some stiff joints were a small price to pay for finding out that Saruhiko actually… actually liked him. Loved him. Right. And they’d kissed, and touched, and then –

Then.

Yata felt heat climbing up to his face. We – we did something like that, right? Exactly like the movie. Like his dreams. It had felt incredibly good, too. He squirmed a little, a pleasant shiver running through him at the memory. And when he’d done it back, Saruhiko had looked so… so…

He couldn’t even think of words for that look. It was amazing.

Figures, since it’s him… Saruhiko was amazing, after all. Despite all the little annoyances, and the way he hid his feelings, and how he teased and said things that were half-true, and how it was still sometimes impossible to get what was really going on with him…

Yata could still hear it in his head, that soft mumbled, “Me too,” and it set his heart racing again.

He must have been shifting around a little too much, because Saruhiko’s nose wrinkled, lips closing into a bit of a frown as he breathed in sharply through his nose – and then his eyes slid open, almost cautiously. He blinked a few times, briefly confused, and when he spoke, his voice was still heavy with sleep. “Misaki…?”

I fucking love this guy. The thought kind of wormed its way into his head, and Yata felt himself grinning, watching the awareness settle on Saruhiko’s face and feeling like his world was kind of settling, too. “Morning,” he offered, keeping his voice low, and welcomed that sense of a new beginning without hesitation.

This was definitely the start of something good.

 

The End