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Blossoming

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Hikaru is pretty sure that Touya likes him, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want some validation now and again. They've been dancing around it for about half a year now, but they've yet to acknowledge any change in their relationship, or to consummate it. And far worse than actually coming to terms with his feelings for Touya is the fact that everybody else knows, already.

Hikaru is pretty sure that Ogata-sensei has a big fat mouth.

So he's more than a little pleased when Touya diffidently invites him to a cherry blossom viewing with his family. It's a really profoundly nice moment when Touya asks, and Hikaru thinks he'll remember just how Touya looks now -- tucking his hair behind his ear with one nervous hand, looking slightly to the side. Touya's shirt matches the falling cherry blossoms, and even that is somehow charming to Hikaru -- and probably a sure sign that he is, in fact, in love.

He's dressed fairly nicely, himself, because he finds himself wanting to make a good impression on Touya's parents. This is actually kind of stupid, because he's seen them a billion times when he comes over to Touya's house to play Go, but this feels like an occasion. His mother fussed over him before he left, and gave him a container of sakura mochi to bring along.

It's early afternoon when he gets to the park, and they're in luck today -- it's sunny and warm and a perfect day to be outdoors. Hikaru feels like the long weight of winter is gone, especially when he sees Touya waving at him from across the park.

As expected of Touya' neighborhood, it boasts quite a nice park, with lines of cherry trees along the banks of a small stream. Touya and his parents have already set up a blanket under two trees, and Hikaru is about to wave back to Touya when a voice calls out, "Shindou-kun!"

He turns around, and it's Ogata-sensei and Ashiwara. They must have walked from Touya's house, because Ogata's flashy car is nowhere in sight. Ashiwara is carrying a basket, and Ogata is carrying sake. Hikaru thinks they make a pretty good-looking pair, all in all.

"Hanami with the in-laws?" Ogata says.

"Ogata-san," Ashiwara says in gentle reprimand, but he's smiling so Hikaru can only conclude that he's part of the vast group of people who seem to make merry over his rivals-turned-something else relationship with Touya.

Hikaru decides that protesting will only make him a bigger target. And besides, it's not like it's not true. "Hi," he says instead. "What did you bring, Ashiwara-san?"

Ashiwara beams. "Well, it's not much, but hopefully there's something for everyone."

Hikaru grins at that, because Ashiwara makes really good inarizashi, and he's really hoping for dango, too.

They cross the park to where Touya and his parents are waiting, and there are the usual greetings before everyone gets seated and the first round of food and drink begins.

Hikaru is sitting near Touya, and even though they're much more circumspect than Ogata and Ashiwara, who bicker and play games while Ashiwara pours sake for Ogata like a dutiful wife, Hikaru still catches Touya's mom looking at them in a way that he finds entirely disturbing. If he were a girl, he's pretty sure Touya's mom would be delicately inquiring as to his ideas about wedding dresses.

If the warm look from Touya's dad is any indication, his gender isn't really a problem. In the Touya family, ability to play Go apparently trumps things like nice child-bearing hips. Hikaru is finding this all pretty freaky, because he's fairly sure that people are supposed to get upset when two young men decide they like each others' company to the exclusion of the opposite sex.

"Quit worrying," Touya says from his side, quietly exasperated.

"I'm not worrying," Hikaru says automatically.

Touya tops off his sake. "Good. This...this is good, isn't it, Shindou?"

Hikaru's obviously not the only one who needs periodic reassurance. So he looks at Touya and says, "Yeah. Really good. I'm glad you invited me." And there's some part of him that is really stupidly happy that he can make Touya blush like that. People yammer on and on about what a ruthless and cold opponent Touya is, but they don't know anything. Hikaru can get emotion out of Touya without hardly trying.

The party is actually really fun. Touya's mom is sweet, and Touya's dad actually has a sense of humor. Hikaru's not entirely certain he's gotten over the shock of that. Touya's dad likes to tease Ogata, though, which is an activity that apparently everyone can get behind. Ogata takes it with a good-natured grace that probably has a lot to do with the amount of sake he's had, as well as the vast quantities of good food that Touya's mom and Ashiwara brought.

Everyone's pretty tipsy if not downright toasted by the time evening rolls around. Touya's parents have gone to get more food from the street vendors, who are peddling yakitori and oden and other hanami favorites.

Ogata is drunk and sprawled out on the ground next to Ashiwara, who is giggly and flushed and sitting upright only by virtue of the tree trunk behind him. "So, when are you two going to get a place of your own?" Ashiwara asks. It really isn't out of nowhere, since there have been hinting questions all afternoon about Hikaru and Touya's relationship.

"When did you?" Touya answers, which Hikaru thinks is pretty clever of him. Of course, Hikaru's a little drunk to be clever at this point, so he'll have to leave it to Touya.

Ashiwara freezes up at that. And then he smiles, big and so obviously false, because it's nothing like Ashiwara's usual sunny smile. "Oh, you misunderstand. I don't live with Ogata-san."

"Should," Ogata says, voice slurred. "Always over at my place anyway. I think the fish recognize you."

"That's just silly," Ashiwara says, but he looks more genuinely happy than he did a minute before.

Touya's parents return, and then there's more food and more sake as the sun goes down and the cherry blossoms seem to glow against the night sky. At some point, Hikaru decided it was a good idea to lay down with his head in Touya's lap. His eyes drift close when Touya starts stroking his hair with one hand. It feels good, and he nuzzles Touya's lap to convey his appreciation.

He must have fallen asleep, because the next thing he knows, he can hear Touya's mom talking quietly. "We'll find you a good place in a nice neighborhood," she says.

"Iwamura-san has a small house near the salon that he's looking to let out," Touya's dad says. "Perhaps you two could come look at it this week."

"I'll ask," Touya says. His fingers are still lazily stroking through Hikaru's hair. Quietly, he says, "I know you're awake."

Hikaru opens his eyes, and he's glad he did. Because Touya looks....Touya looks incredible. He raises himself up on his elbows, and does a quick check of their surroundings. Ogata and Ashiwara are dozing, and Touya's parents are facing the river, talking quietly. "Hey, Touya," he says.

Their eyes meet, and a few seconds later, so do their lips. And once they start, Hikaru can't figure out why it's taken them so long to do this. Touya is cradling the back of Hikaru's head in his hands and seriously getting into it when they hear a discreet cough. They separate almost immediately, undoubtedly looking like the guilty young pair of lovers they are.

"There are better places for that," Touya's dad says, and it's not a reprimand, but Hikaru is still pretty sure he might die from embarrassment.

Touya, meanwhile, is looking at Hikaru like he's thinking of where those places might be, and how fast they can get there. He has a petal stuck in his hair, and Hikaru takes the opportunity to remove it, and stroke his fingers through Touya's soft, soft hair while he's at it. "We're going to go back to the house," Touya says, his eyes not leaving Hikaru's.

"We'll be back in a bit," Touya's mom says.

"Have fun," Ogata adds, his tone leaving little doubt that he knows exactly what they're off to do.

Touya grabs him by the hand and they set off through the park, laughing and almost stumbling in their haste, the sounds of hanami parties along the stream fading behind them.