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Ask Me Anything

Chapter Text

He hadn’t meant to see. It was only—their cellphones looked so similar, and when they were both sitting there charging on Ritsu’s bedside table, it was difficult to differentiate through a haze of fatigue which one was the one buzzing incessantly. Ritsu’s struggles to rouse himself sufficiently to register that someone had received a text were still not enough to help him tell who as the lucky recipient, and that had been how this whole debacle had started.

Really—it was just inappropriate.

After all: “Just, I don’t get why you have my wife’s e-mail address—”

“Ex-wife,” Takano-san calmly reminded, reaching over to cut the crusts off of Haru-chan’s toast, and pointedly ignored the look Ritsu threw his way. “You know they have this thing at the hundred-yen shop on the corner that automatically cuts the crusts off?”

“Crusts are good for you,” Ritsu countered primly, then gave Haru-chan a reproving look when she politely thanked Takano-san for his efforts. “You shouldn’t spoil her.”

Takano-san just shrugged, sipping the last of his energy drink with a loud slurp. “Someone has to do it.” He tossed the empty packet into the trash along the wall, balling up the remains of his breakfast sandwich, and ruffled Haru-chan’s hair on his way to the sink where he then proceeded to rinse off the dishes from their morning together.

Ritsu frowned as he watched Haru-chan follow Takano-san with her eyes, clearly holding back running after him to offer her aid in his efforts. He changed the subject: “You don’t have to do the dishes every time you come over, you know.”

Takano-san responded by tugging down the drying cloth from where it hung above his head. “I wouldn’t—if they weren’t dirty every time I show up.”

Ritsu bristled. “I’m perfectly capable of keeping my own apartment clean—”

“Oi, Haru-chan.” Takano-san waved a hand towards the living room, beyond which lay Haru-chan’s and Ritsu’s bedrooms. “You don’t want to miss your appointment, do you? Go find something to wear.”

Eager as always to please their guest, Haru-chan immediately leaped from her seat with a chirped, “Yessir!” and padded back into her room; likely she’d pick out something completely inappropriate, but it gave them a moment alone at least. Haru-chan had already suffered sufficient exposure to parental figures arguing over her young life, Ritsu silently admitted, and pursed his lips in disappointment with himself for stooping so low.

Takano-san sidled over, “It’s coffee now and then, that’s all; you meet with her more often, and you don’t see me getting bent out of shape about it.” Ritsu scoffed, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms. “…All right, but at least I have good reason.”

“The hell you do,” Ritsu snapped, coloring at the inappropriately heated reaction, and he covered his mouth, biting his lip. “Just…I don’t see why you’d even want to. You don’t even like An-chan.”

He could feel Takano-san’s gaze on him, sizing him up as he wiped his wet hands on the dishtowel. “…You’re jealous.”

Ritsu’s harsh bark of laughter was louder than he’d intended. “That’s rich coming from you.”

Takano-san slipped into the seat beside him at the breakfast table. “My being jealous doesn’t preclude you from suffering from the same. Also—” He swiped an apple from the bowl in the center of the table, looking it over appraisingly. “—it takes one to know one.”

“I’m not—jealous,” Ritsu maintained resolutely. “But—it’s a Saturday. And the first one in a while where I don’t have a thirty-page manuscript to look over for the fifth time because the author’s having second thoughts—”

“Your authors wouldn’t be having any second thoughts if you’d show some balls and be firm with them.” He took a chunk out of the apple, chewing carefully before speaking around the bite. “Besides—you’re taking Haru-chan to the dentist.”

“She’s been wanting to go to the park with you all week, though, and you promised—”

“The dentist’s going to take all day?”

Ritsu colored. “Well, no—”

“Then neither will coffee with your ex-wife. Lucky break, that.” He pushed himself away from the table, ruffling Ritsu’s hair as he walked past in much the same way he’d done Haru-chan’s.

Ritsu batted away the hand with irritation, glaring up as he passed. “Just…”


“…Don’t be a jerk to her.” He almost instantly regretted the warning, struggling to explain himself. “I don’t—know why you have coffee or whatever with her, but she’s not a threat or anything—you know that, right?” Try as he might to school his features, he knew his every worry was bared for all to see in his expression.

Takano-san continued to chew thoughtfully, swallowing at length and tossing the core into the burnables—before striding forward and bending at the waist to brush their lips together, fingers tilting his chin up to steady him. Ritsu considered it a personal victory that he only flinched briefly, breath only leaving him for a moment in panic. Takano-san’s breath was warm against his cheek when he snorted softly at the reaction. “I’m only ever a jerk to you; you should know this by now.”

Chapter Text

It's not that the feelings aren't there, he wants to be clear on that.

He's tried explaining it to Yuu on several occasions--and Yuu is ever-obliging, ruffling his hair and reminding him You don't have to push yourself, because he's always understanding and patient even when he's got no good reason to be around someone as self-admittedly frustratingly oblivious as Chiaki. What the guy sees in him, he'll never know (no matter how many times Yuu tries to explain to him, usually with labored breathing and soft keening whines interrupting his confessions)--and what Chiaki conversely sees in him, Chiaki can't put into words.

So maybe that's why it's so hard.

Really, though, Chiaki thinks it's just a matter of the actual speaking part of the whole affair. Feelings inside his heart and mind are one thing, but Yuu is and will always be Yuu, just like Tori will always be Tori, and he can no more bring himself to speak of love and similar emotions with one than he can the other. You don't sit there and tell your best friend you're in love with him...even after he's done the same to you as smoothly as if he'd been suggesting you go catch a flick.

He's tried several times casually probing to try and divine just where Yuu had dredged up the courage to confess--but all he's really gotten so far is some combination of alcohol and a moment's free spirit. The alcohol Chiaki's tried. A lot. It always winds up with him on his back in one of their beds and Yuu leaning over him with one hand on his cock and the other gently but hastily making preparations.

He now suspects it's more that moment's free spirit thing than the booze.

But then there's a part of him that wants to just forget it, go with what Yuu says: stop trying so hard and just relax, accept what they have, because Yuu's fine with it, and he's the only one wanting to hear those three little words, right? Chiaki knows how he feels inside, so why make the effort to meld emotion with action and just float? Yuu's in no hurry to force any confession from him, so why should Chiaki bother?

Because--well, it's what you do, isn't it? Tell the person you love that you do indeed love them? That no, you're not just sleeping with them because it feels amazing (even if it does--he can't tell if Yuu's just that good or if having sex in the confines of a relationship always feels this good) or because you're friends and you care about them (even if you do--you take care of each other now, you've even made him breakfast. Once. Never again, you mutually agreed.)--you're in this relationship because you want to be, you'd rather spend an evening working on your manuscript next to him on his couch than in a glitzy ballroom surrounded by Marukawa employees or in a bright, bustling studio with assistants chattering all around. That's...just what you do, Chiaki's sure of it.

So it's become something of a personal feud with himself on Chiaki's end, this inability to give voice to the feelings that, once uncertain and unclear, are daily becoming another piece of Chiaki's persona, until he starts to not be able to remember why he never felt this way about Yuu before, why he never felt his skin go electric when Yuu brushed a piece of his hair away from Chiaki's face and behind his ear, why that smile Yuu's been directing at him since the day they met has only of late been this warm and raw and unfiltered. Yuu wears his emotions clearly on his face, and Chiaki berates himself for having been that oblivious all this time. It's embarrassing, really.

Silently, he commends Yuu for having held back for as long as he did; it's admirable in a number of ways. Even more so juxtaposed with Chiaki's own inability to navigate the choppy waters of what should be a smooth relationship. Yuu had them zipping off full sail ahead, and here Chiaki was with his little paddle trying to send them the opposite direction.

But maybe a bit of reversal isn't always bad, he reflects, and tonight's one of those nights when Yuu's in a mood and he doesn't want to fuck so much as he wants to get fucked, and while Chiaki doesn't dislike it (hardly; who could dislike this kind of thing?), he's not used to it--not with Yuu, not with guys, not in general even--and that apprehension manifests in the tension of his shoulders and hips, in the trembling of his fingers as he tries to tear open the condom packet, in the way he presses his fingers in a bit too quickly, too roughly, causing Yuu to grit his teeth and dig his fingers into Chiaki's arms as he bites back a yelp. "Shit--shit, I'm sorry--" Chiaki apologizes, mortified, and he immediately tries to pull his hand away, casting about for the love gel, when Yuu grabs him by the wrist (using his free hand to bring his cock back to attention to distract from the pain) and guides him back to his task.

"I know I said I love your fingers and all; but I did mean in the context of art..." Chiaki frowns, flushing, and Yuu chuckles softly, spreading his legs further and swiping a thumb across his tip. "Try, try again, Sensei."

Yuu has good reason to be patient with him in this kind of situation, to be sure, but it still warms Chiaki through once he gets past the embarrassment. He supposes aside from the pain, Yuu finds his inexperience kind of adorable anyways--for whatever reason. He sighs, a short huff. "You said I was supposed to get better at this with time..."

Yuu's laughter is strained this time--for Chiaki has attempted his preparations anew. "Then--obviously we aren't doing it enough." It's a Yuu response, and Chiaki snorts as well, the tension broken if only momentarily. They're both silent for a few long moments as Chiaki takes his time, carefully ensuring he's not going to hurt Yuu, even though he's pretty sure the guy wouldn't say a cross word no matter what. Which is ridiculous--Chiaki's never been shy about telling Yuu when he doesn't like something, in bed or out (more often, out); why should he merit special treatment? It's just another nagging reminder of Yuu's desperation not to drive Chiaki away, in turn spurring Chiaki to give him some more concrete evidence that's not going to happen.

At length, and with another generous dab of gel for good measure, Chiaki eases Yuu's legs up to hook around his waist and presses home, sliding in more quickly than he'd intended. He glances up worriedly, assessing Yuu's features, but finds nothing, just a blank mask absorbing the experience. If Yuu is astoundingly expressive out of bed, he is anything but in bed--at least at moments like this, just before their lovemaking starts in earnest, when they're both being careful not to even breathe too hard lest the moment be broken. It's warm and tight and amazing, and Chiaki is strangely proud of himself--knowing that if nothing else, he's at least able to bring Yuu pleasure when their roles are reversed in this manner. Even if he's never able to tell Yuu I love you, at the very least he's given him plenty of satisfying sexual experiences, and...that has to be worth something, right?

Yuu's always...quiet at times like this. It's a bit disturbing almost, and the first few times, Chiaki had worried it meant he wasn't enjoying himself. "It's just too much to think about," Yuu had tried to explain in an effort to quell Chiaki's worries...and while it wasn't as if he didn't understand the sentiment, it did make Chiaki a bit self-conscious given his own tendency to be a bit mouthy when Yuu was doing him. It's easier to keep control from on top, though, and Chiaki lets himself get lost in Yuu's reactions once he starts up a rhythm. Not his expressions, necessarily, but the little hints as to how he's affected--the way his mouth drops open slightly, the flush that lights up his cheeks and spreads to his ears, the marks left on Chiaki's arms where Yuu's fingers dig in, the way his thighs press against Chiaki's sides--urging him on, forward, like a horse.

Chiaki thrusts a few times before shuddering erratically as he spills into the condom, shoulders going tense and eyes squinting shut; Yuu had spurted his release a moment before, and the evidence sits stark against the smooth flesh of his belly. Before Chiaki can pull away to dutifully start the cleanup (Yuu's always a gentleman when it's his turn, after all; it only makes sense Chiaki return the favor), though--Yuu reaches up to wrap his arms around Chiaki's neck and pull him down, close, chest to chest, burrowing his face in Chiaki's neck and breathing in deeply. It's an awkward position--Chiaki's making a concerted effort not to just flop down on top of the guy--but he lets Yuu have his moment and gingerly brings a hand up to thread fingers through his shock of brown hair.

He feels Yuu release him--and Chiaki starts to push off again when Yuu cradles his jaw in one hand and whispers in his ear, "You love me, don't you?"

It's not a test; not a worried question, observation. He can't see Yuu smiling, but he can hear it, and that's enough to tell him a whole book's worth of what Yuu means with that question. It's understanding and amused and a little bemused too, but not disappointed, not impatient in the least. It's just...satisfied. It's compromising. It's meeting in the middle, because if Chiaki can't say it just yet, then Yuu--never one to sit around waiting for what he wants to fall into his lap--is just going to have to go find it himself.

And here, Chiaki finally does fall on top of Yuu, ignoring the soft oof of discomfort and squeezing Yuu's shoulders between his arms because dammit he can't hug properly in his position. Yuu's legs go tight around Chiaki's hips, and sensation starts to flood back into his lower half--reminding him of the 'delicate' situation they're still in. He mirrors Yuu's actions from before and presses his face into the crook where neck meets shoulder, breathing in the now-familiar scent of Yuu's bed linens and lubricant and two bodies slick and writhing, and he whispers a soft, "Yeah..." because it's the best he can do under these circumstances.

It feels amazing, though, and he reflects idly that he should have Yuu confess for him more often.

Chapter Text

"So I brought a change of pants and a fresh shirt--I figured casual stuff would be fine since you're just camping out here--"

Masamune grimaced, knocking back the last of his canned coffee. "Please, stop. You make it sound so glamorous."

Ritsu ignored him, continuing to rifle through the small overnight bag he'd toted up to the fourth floor. "--and there's a bentou I picked up from the conbini as well. You should probably put it in a fridge somewhere if you're not going to eat it right now--oh, there is a fridge here, yeah?"

"Break room."

"Ah--good. I didn't stop to think--" He waved and cut himself off, continuing. "I also brought you some deodorant--"

"We're all filthy by this point; that won't help the stench."

"You're the editor-in-chief," Ritsu reasoned, not missing a beat. "You should set a good example."

Masamune leaned forward to peek inside the bag. "Where's my love note?"

"Your what?"

"You know, my love note. The one from my beloved partner telling me he's cheering me on and supporting me, wishing me luck in all my endeavors." Masamune waved a hand. "Pops up in dramas on TV all the time. Figured there was some basis in reality." Ritsu just pursed his lips and kept his glower firm. "Well?"

"Don't you have a manuscript to finish?"

Masamune snorted softly, glancing over his shoulder into the editing room behind them; they'd slipped out into the hall after Ritsu had been buzzed in by the girls at reception. Visitors weren't typically allowed to wander around unescorted, but it was well past quitting time on a Friday evening, and most of the building was vacant as it was. The Emerald offices were the only portion still buzzing with activity (or well, buzzing with inactivity as it were), and Ritsu's arrival had been a welcome distraction.

"We're waiting for the next batch of pages to arrive. The author's sending them in ten-page packets as she finishes so we're not sitting around twiddling our thumbs and then left scrambling to meet the deadline tomorrow morning."

Ritsu pursed his lips. "So instead you'll just be sauntering casually to meet tomorrow morning's deadline?"

Masamune shrugged; it could hardly be helped this late in the game. "We'll do what we can and deal with the cause later. One way or another we've got to finish."

"Still…" Ritsu protested, glancing around Masamune back into the editing room, through which he could hear the muffled conversation of the other editors. "You're tired enough as is at the end of a cycle; working through the night…"

Masamune reached forward and ruffled his hair--like a child. It simultaneously irritated and filled Ritsu's chest with a nauseating lightness, and he quickly batted the hand away. "I'm a big boy; I'll survive. Then you're free to pamper me all weekend."

Ritsu made a face he hoped showed annoyance but was quite sure leaked some of his building anticipation of this pampering which, if all worked out, would be equally relaxing for the both of them. He licked his lips, opening his mouth to give Masamune that stupid love note he'd teased about--vocal support would have to do--when a shrill voice interrupted them.

"Takano-sa~n, the next batch of panels just arrived!"

"Coming!" Masamune called over his shoulder, tension squaring his jaw as Ritsu watched him visibly settle back into 'editor-in-chief on a deadline' mode. "I'll try to make the first train home in the morning. You may as well get some rest for now." He punctuated the suggestion with a crooked uptick of his lips that promised Ritsu he'd have just enough energy after crawling into bed to thank him properly for the care package. "Don't make me call security to kick you out for spying on the competition."

With a squeeze to Ritsu's shoulder, he'd turned on his heel to step back into the editing room proper, already snapping out orders in a harsh bark that made Ritsu glad he wasn't on the receiving end of them--when Ritsu reached out a hand and grabbed his wrist, his confusion at his own actions mirrored in Masamune's own gaze.


"I…" He was suddenly conscious of the gazes of the other editors falling heavy on the both of them, and his face heated. This was Masamune's workplace--more so, it was a place where Masamune was meant to have respect, and one false move could jeopardize what had to have been hard-won acceptance from his peers.

So instead of a final goodbye and good luck, what came out was: "…Can I help?"

Once Masamune had wrangled his editors back under his command and gotten them to cease their excited, flustered chatter at the newcomer in their midst, Ritsu was quickly subjected to a veritable inquisition, inquiries about his background, his experience in the field ("Can he even edit shoujo manga?" was a 'Kisa'-san's worried query, brushed off by Masamune's smooth, "Hell no, but he's got two hands and that means he can cut and apply text."), and most of all--his connection with the editor-in-chief.

"Roommates?" Kisa-san sputtered incredulously, chewing on the end of a pen as he made some cuts to a printed script in his hand. It hadn't been Ritsu's first choice in seating arrangements--there was a perfectly nice spot between Mino-san and Hatori-san, who both seemed far more sedated than Ritsu's quirky, high-strung seatmate who insisted on calling him Ricchan--but Masamune already had his head buried in a pile of papers, and Ritsu didn't want to undermine him at such a delicate time.

He coughed softly, treading carefully lest his hastily constructed lie unravel. "Y-yup. We used to attend the same school…" A little truth always helped ground a lie, right? He tried to busy himself with the stacks of text he'd been charged to start cutting out and applying to panels. How he longed for a simple computer monitor and a text file to piece through. This looked to be far more work than was worth it in the end.

Kisa-san hmmed suspiciously, eyeing Ritsu like he was trying to suss out the truth just by evaluating his body language. "Takano-san definitely seems like the lone wolf type…"

Ritsu laughed sharply, and Masamune had the nerve to glare at him, raising a brow that clearly suggested he put his nose to the grindstone if he was going to hang around. Ritsu flushed and turned his gaze back to the paper before him, carefully angling his cutter along a ruler's straight-edge. "We have our own spaces and schedules; it works out." His gaze flickered over to Masamune, who was smiling softly now and shaking his head almost imperceptibly, glasses perched high on his nose as he reviewed the pages before him.

Kisa-san gave a low whistle. "Still, I'd probably have to kill myself if Takano-san was the first thing I saw every morning--"

"Kisa." Even Ritsu jumped in his skin at the tone.

After being reprimanded, Kisa-san was a sight less inclined to chat, and the editing room quickly dropped into a dull, monotonous silence, the room filled only with the sounds of cutting and scribbling and tearing as all members present worked at a feverish pace to ensure the text and tone was all effectively applied in time to meet their 7 AM deadline.

They did indeed work through the night--with Masamune calling for a short break while they waited for the third and final batch of pages to arrive by 24-hour messenger. Despite his hope this meant he might expect a quiet respite from the tense atmosphere of the editing room with Masamune, Ritsu was disappointed to find the man had slipped out as soon as he called for the break, phone in hand as he dived into a heated conversation with someone on the other end of the line in the hall.

Kisa-san shook him by the shoulder to gain his attention, jerking his head to another side door. "We can eat in the break room if you want?" He then glanced around Ritsu's work space. "…You did bring something, didn't you?"

"Ah--" he started, belatedly realizing that all the food he'd brought with him had been meant for Masamune. "--I wasn't…initially expecting to stay, so…"

Kisa-san, not discouraged in the least, simply looped an arm under Ritsu's and proceeded to drag him towards the break room. "No problem; we can share!"

"Eh? But I--Masa--Takano-san is--"

Kisa-san's expression waxed positively devilish. "Heeeh, so you're on a given-name basis with each other, then?"

Once he managed to steer the conversation away from the delicate topic of his relationship with Masamune, Ritsu found Kisa-san's company--with occasional input from Mino-san and the stoic disapproval of such idle chatter from Hatori-san--quite amenable. He actually reminded Ritsu strikingly of Saeki-san with his excitable demeanor and love of juicy gossip, regaling Ritsu with tales of previous rough ends of cycles that Ritsu had only ever heard one side of from Masamune.

"Me, Mino-san, and Takano-san: all three of us--day-trip to Hokkaido because all the author's assistants came down with the flu! It was ridiculous…" Kisa-san bit into the half of the sandwich he'd saved for himself after offering Ritsu the other half, speaking around a mouthful. "We even had to pay out of our own pockets!"

"We did get reimbursed," Mino reminded evenly, smiling calmly as he sipped the last of his cup noodle.

"It's the principle of the thing, though!" he continued dramatically, wadding up his trash and picking up the remains of Ritsu's dinner as well before heading towards the burnables receptacle in the corner. "Dropping thirty thousand yen in a day isn't part of being a shoujo manga editor, last I checked."

Ritsu chuckled and shook his head sympathetically, trying to will himself to perk up. They'd reached the point in the evening where fatigue was really setting in, and this last push would be the most difficult. How on earth Masamune had expected to have any energy once he made it home to even change into sleepwear let alone do…anything else…was beyond Ritsu. If the guy still wanted some when they finally made it back in the morning, he could damn well take care of himself.

He hobbled back into the editing room, where Masamune sat hunched over his desk, an imposing figure radiating disappointment that the others had indulged in their dinner break for too long. Under different circumstances, Ritsu might have at least offered him a bit of physical support--a neck rub perhaps, or even just settling in beside the guy to share body heat and closeness while they tackled their respective checks--but as it was, Ritsu's task was clear-cut and involved no amount of touching, unfortunately--intimate or otherwise.

Energy stores slightly replenished with the reminder from Kisa-san that they were nearly finished, though, Ritsu pushed himself to complete the task set out for him, recalling all those smug comments from Masamune that you couldn't handle a day working under me and how, if he faltered now, they'd surely only return with intensity. The guy had a big enough head as it was--Ritsu was in no mood to give him more firepower.

It was just as the morning sun was starting to creep in that Ritsu slipped the last page he'd been assigned into a manilla envelope, sealing the fastener shut with a satisfied huff before handing it off to Mino-san with a relieved smile. He coughed as a hand came down roughly to pat him on the back. "Good job, newbie!"

"That hurts, Kisa-san."

"No complaints, newbie!"

"I'm not a--" But Kisa-san's glance turned sharp, and he relented with a sigh, rubbing his shoulder where one of the man's congratulatory slaps had landed. "What do we do now?"

"Hand it off to a bike messenger and see that it arrives at the printing facility by 7 AM," Hatori-san chimed in, relieving Mino-san of his burden. "I'll take this downstairs and see that it gets sent off safely." The others nodded their thanks, and Masamune reminded him he could head on home after the hand-off was made.

Ritsu watched the exchange passively, working out how to keep himself busy now until he and his editor-in-chief could climb into their own bed; he silently envied Hatori-san for being the first released. "I'll…get everyone some coffee," he offered, pushing his chair back and pausing for a moment when he stood to catch his balance. Being up for twenty-four hours straight didn't seem to agree with him.

Wandering into the break room, he blearily stared at the coffee machine for a few long moments, trying to decipher the instructions--if they were in fact even in Japanese; it was hard to tell at this point--when he felt a familiar presence draw up close behind him as Masamune pressed himself tight against Ritsu's back, settling his chin on one shoulder and knocking their heads together. Ritsu stiffened instinctively. "You--shouldn't, at work--"

"The others are half-asleep already and checking train times. I could probably have you here on the break room table and they wouldn't notice."

Rtsu laughed almost giddily with fatigue. "Somehow I think Kisa-san would muster up the strength to give a damn about that."

"Kisa's an annoying little gossip; you shouldn't get too cozy with him." And the hard edge to Masamune's voice changed the tone of the whole moment.

Ritsu shifted in place, pulling away enough to get a proper look at Masamune's features. "You…aren't seriously telling me you're jealous of--"

In a flash Masamune had his hands on his shoulders, turning him the final ninety degrees to push him against the slick metal surface of the coffee dispenser and bring their faces close--but not just touching yet. "Chalk it up to fatigue. I'm obviously not in my right mind."

"Obviously," Ritsu groused, wincing as the edge of the counter pressed against his lower back. He brought his hands up to place a respectable distance between them; someone had to be responsible if Masamune was at the point where he was claiming an absence of sense. "Let me get the coffee, then send the others home so we can leave." He softly patted the material over Masamune's heart with a nod. "Go be the scary editor-in-chief for five more minutes."

Masamune's mouth twitched, like he wanted to say something to protest the 'scary' label, but instead he simply pressed forward and slid their lips together, Ritsu letting his jaw fall open to accept the kiss gratefully without any further argument. His fingers tightened in the material of Masamune's shirt, unconsciously pulling him further forward, and he only protested with a soft grunt when Masamune slipped a leg between his own, being a damn tease as he brushed his fingers meaningfully over the zip of Ritsu's pants.

"So…we can leave now, yeah?"

Ritsu nearly kneed Masamune in the crotch, so quickly did he work to disentangle himself from their embrace, and he whirled around with face aflame as he pretended to be busy with the coffee machine when Kisa-san poked his head into the break room with timing so poor it had to have been calculated.

He couldn't see Masamune's face, but he could hear the irritation in his voice as he called back. "I said you were dismissed five minutes ago; get the hell out of here before I find something else for you to do." God--they hadn't been seen had they? The angle...had saved them, right?

Kisa-san, though, sounded like leaving was the last thing on his mind. "Hmm, but Ricchan was getting us coffee…"

Wincing at his name, Ritsu pressed buttons willy-nilly, sighing in relief when a thick black liquid began to pour into one of the little styrofoam cups he'd found beside the dispenser. "J--just a moment! Takano-san was showing me how to--work the dispenser, so. I'll bring this right over--"

"Forget it--" Masamune batted Ritsu's hand away, halting the flow. "They can get their own damned coffee. Let's get out of here." He grabbed Ritsu's wrist and jerked him along behind him, and where he typically would've given Masamune a piece of his mind at the rough treatment, fatigue and mortification had his feet willingly following without protest.

"Hey~ Ricchan," Kisa-san called as he passed by, "Won't you come out drinking with us soon?"

Ritsu's mind was everywhere and nowhere, and at the sing-song invitation, he reacted instinctively, "Eh?"

But Masamune was quick to respond for him: "You're not getting your claws in him Kisa. Pack your shit and get off my editing floor."

"Yes sir~" Kisa-san finally held his hands up in surrender, following them out of the break room and brushing past to find his satchel and coat. As he was adjusting the lapels, though, he twirled around to step backwards out of the office, following Mino-san who led in front. "We're definitely going drinking soon, Ricchan! It's a date!"

Masamune's fingers gripped tighter, almost painfully about Ritsu's wrist, and he smiled weakly as he waved goodbye and offered a tentative agreement. Once the soft ding of the elevator arriving reached their ears, though, Masamune relaxed his hold, running a hand through his hair as he stepped away. "...You sure as hell better not go out with Kisa."

Ritsu blinked a few times in quick succession before recalling his earlier warning. "Geez, are you even Japanese? I thought it was all about communication through drinking and all--"

"He's not your business associate," Masamune reminded, shuffling around to his desk to gather his things. "No sense in you wasting time with the likes of him."

"'The likes of him'?" Ritsu repeated, crossing his arms as he followed close behind. "You certainly don't sound tired, Takano-san, but you're still obviously not in your right mind." He leaned back, settling against Masamune's desk. "Jealousy doesn't suit you."

"Everything suits me," Masamune assured him, tugging on the lapels of his coat to flip up the collar, and Ritsu scoffed and glanced away; it took all the fun out of it when they knew how good they looked. He chanced a hasty look back when Masamune sighed, voice heavy with fatigue. "...I feel dead on my feet here..."

Ritsu shifted away from the desk to stand up straight again, one arm going immediately to Masamune's shoulder to help steady him. "You...want to take a taxi? It's a ways to the station, after all..."

Masamune closed his eyes for a moment, then snapped them back open, voice stronger. "Nah. Just need a quick pick-me-up." And he brought his far arm over to cup Ritsu's chin in one hand to slide their lips together for the second kiss in the span of ten minutes. Without the threat of being walked in on hanging over them, Ritsu allowed himself to be more receptive to this attempt, free arm coming up to wrap around Masamune's neck and press closer. His body was tired and sore, energy reserves nearly depleted, but Masamune's familiar heat and the way his fingers pressed at Ritsu's pressure points energized him, set his body thrumming with anticipation, and he audibly whined his frustration when Masamune pulled away after a moment. "Charging complete..."

Ritsu frowned, always conscious of the way Masamune tended to leave him wanting more when they were in no position to indulge; he'd rather not have been riled up at all than to be sitting here half hard from a simple kiss and a twenty minute train ride from their apartment--even without all of that, just thinking about sex was tiring at this point. "You'll pay for that in eight hours."

Masamune's chuckle resonated from deep in his chest, full of promise as he tugged Ritsu after him. "Not if I set my alarm for earlier."

Chapter Text

It really was doing nothing to boost Chiaki's ego, already flagging with Yuu's continued prodding and probing for some sort of explanation as to where he was being carted, when the guy had the nerve to laugh at what had been a terribly thoughtful and well-planned birthday excursion.

"No--no, just... Seriously, thank you," he tried to save, growing desperate when Chiaki's face flushed red with anger and embarrassment at the scene they were making, surrounded on all sides by dozens of young men several years their junior, all clamoring for the best vantage points--despite the fact that everyone had numbered tickets for being allowed inside.

He'd wanted to do something special--to surprise his friend. The guy was always doing things for Chiaki--normal friend things...and not normal friend things--so for once, this year in particular, he wanted to do something equally amazing in return. Which was what had them standing here in the main lobby of a department store, ticket stubs in hand, waiting for the talk event and subsequent autograph session featuring the renowned Ijuuin-sensei to start.

That was thoughtful, right? Sure--it wasn't a handmade candlelit dinner or relaxing massage or rose petals in the bathtub--but Chiaki sucked at cooking anything more complicated than a conbini bentou in the microwave, his massages had never been well-received, and rose petals in the bathtub? There were limits to the humiliating things Chiaki was willing to do for people he cared about, and seeing Yuu's reaction just now...he kind of suspected that any such efforts tending towards romantic would've been received less with open arms and more with just the reception he was getting now: raucous laughter.

But he'd had to pull some strings to get these tickets--a favor begged via Tori (awkward as it was) of Ijuuin-sensei's main editor, coupled with a promise to Tori to fill out some stupid "50 Questions for XX-sensei" questionnaire he'd been putting off for months now. He hadn't honestly expected the guy to be able to come through--but he had, and beautifully so, and Chiaki had been looking forward to springing this on Yuu for weeks now.

And Yuu had the nerve to laugh.

Chiaki could feel his face heating. "You--asshole. What's the big deal? I don't see what's so funny...!" He was conscious of the stares being directed their way, especially when Yuu was having an obviously difficult time calming himself down; he didn't need to be detained by the Osaka police on a daytrip to the city just because Yuu was having a fit. "You're--making a scene--"

"I seriously do appreciate it..."

"So you keep saying," Chiaki grit out, jerking Yuu off to a small alcove at the side near the smoking area, blessedly devoid of onlookers. "But you don't sound happy. You sound...amused."

"And that's not happy?"

"That's...Yuu being Yuu." His brows knit. "Did I...say something weird? Or do something?"

Yuu snorted softly and settled back against the wall, cocking his head to the side to stare adoringly over at Chiaki; it did nothing to settle the flush to his cheeks. The guy could be annoyingly circumspect when he didn't want to address the problem at hand, and he'd rather Yuu get to the point than try to unsettle him with that mooney-eyed expression. "It's just--you're such an airhead sometimes."


"You're the one who likes Za Kan."

"...What?" Yuu's expression shifted from one of soft amusement to pity, brows knitting in concern at Chiaki's reaction. "But--you were always so excited when..."

"...When I got to buy you a new volume early, or take you to events like this?" He raised a brow, hoping Chiaki got his point. "When I got to be the person making you happy? Yeah, that'll make a guy excited."

Chiaki visibly wilted, feeling the wind sputtering out from his sails, and he slumped against the wall beside Yuu, staring at the milling crowd blankly, their murmurs simply bussing in his ears now. "...So never...?"

Yuu shrugged. "I like it; it's a fun read. But..." He smiled sadly and nodded guiltily. "Sorry. Ulterior motives."

An ugly frown split Chiaki's face, and he sighed long and loud, letting his head drop back against the wall a few times in frustration. "I feel like an idiot..."

"It's not your fault..." Yuu tried to console, patting him on one shoulder, but quickly jerked his hand back at the dark glance Chiaki cast him.

"I know it's not my fault--it's your fault for letting me believe stupid shit like this for so long. But I'm still the one who dragged you 500 kilometers from home and practically sold my soul to Tori to get us tickets to an event you don't even care about."

Yuu grimaced, then lifted his brows hopefully, seeking out a silver lining, "Maybe, care about it."

Chiaki's frown melted into a pout, disappointment still stark on his features. "It's not my birthday, though. It's yours."

"Well--not for three more days, at least?"

Chiaki rolled his eyes. "Yeah, but three more days from now is the middle of the week; we can't go anywhere or do anything special for that."

" this was my birthday present, huh?" Yuu crowed, brows lifting. "Chiaki must care a lot about me to have put this much thought into a surprise like this..."

Having none of his antics just now, Chiaki rolled his eyes and pushed off the wall, adjusting the bag across his shoulders, and started piecing his way through the crowd headed for the front doors. It was early yet; maybe they could at least have a decent dinner somewhere close before trying to catch a bullet train back up to Tokyo. Their return-trip tickets weren't for much later, but it shouldn't prove too difficult to get them changed at a window in the station.

Yuu stopped him with a hand around his wrist. "Oi--what're you doing? They're calling for people to get lined up now."

Chiaki pursed his lips, annoyed. "Seems kind of ridiculous now, though? It's not as much fun going to something like this with someone who doesn't really want to be there."

Yuu scoffed, obviously used to Chiaki's dramatics and fully aware of how to play him at times like this. He crossed his arms, raising a brow. "You never would've known I wasn't head over heels about this manga if I hadn't just told you. We've always had a great time in the past." He jerked a thumb back at the crowd filing into line behind them. "Why the hell should this time be any different?"

Chiaki could feel himself wavering. "'s your birthday..."

"In three days," Yuu reminded, clamping his hands on Chiaki's shoulders from behind and steering him back towards the front end of the line where they were ticketed. "For today, though, I get to see you become an emotional wreck unbefitting a man your age." He dropped his voice and leaned closer to Chiaki's ear. "Besides, you know I love it when you coo over other men."

Much as Chiaki had not wanted to enjoy himself at Yuu's expense, seeing as this had been meant to be a gift for Yuu (and if he happened to have fun along the way, who could blame him?), the experience had been absolutely worth the hoops he'd had to jump through to get the tickets. While not his first time attending a panel featuring his favorite mangaka, he never tired of hearing Ijuuin-sensei chat about his experiences, where he drew inspiration, and all that went into bringing his manga to life--as it so often mirrored Chiaki's own efforts to use his art to spread a story to the masses. From simple, comedic 4-koma in grade-school to the years he spent honing his storytelling skills under Tori's tutelage and with Yuu's support, he'd finally achieved a place in the manga world that might be construed as equal with his idol...and yet it never got old--watching someone wax on about something they loved.

He often found himself wondering why Yuu had really given up that path--the guy had always professed that he just didn't have the talent, that he lacked the drive to make something his own and instead contented himself with living in others' shadows. But...given this newly confessed tendency to do things--things he didn't necessarily love--to give in and settle, just so that Chiaki might be happy... Well, now he had to really wonder.

He drummed his fingers along the table, watching closely as Yuu finished the last of his latte. They'd found a pleasant enough little bistro on the top floor of the department store the event had been held at and decided to have dinner there before making their way back to Shin-Osaka station to catch their train, but Yuu was meticulous in his post-meal indulgences and was not to be moved. "So was it...really that bad?"

Yuu snorted softly and propped his chin up in one hand. "I told you; I really do like the series. Just...not to quite the feverish degree that you do, is all. Of course I enjoyed it." With one final knock-back, he slurped down he last few drops of coffee. "The company's been pretty nice, too."

Chiaki reached forward and snatched the empty cup, using the action to mask his blush; no matter what they did, no matter the years of friendship behind them, no matter how much he accepted, appreciated, and yeah even returned Yuu's feelings...such compliments were never going to sit well with him. Maybe that was why Yuu kept dishing them out. "I'll throw these away; see if we'll need to change our tickets while I take care of the cleanup."

"Yes, sir~"

Busying himself with tossing their garbage in the appropriate receptacles, Chiaki reflected that...this was really their first evening outside of Tokyo in a long while; Yuu had been harangued with requests for short assistant stints for so long that he'd finally given in to a few just to show he was still a 'free man', even if most everyone in the shoujo manga world knew that Yoshikawa-sensei liked to keep him on as 'her' chief assistant, and Chiaki had had to pick up the slack himself, as none of the subs had really been quite up to snuff, proving almost more trouble than they'd been worth.

Before that, there'd been meetings to plan the anime adaptation of one of his works--all through Tori, of course, as now more than ever Chiaki wanted to stay out of the public eye--and no less than three formal functions he'd been all but forced to attend to thank the powers that be for helping move the whole project along.

They hadn't even honestly been able to have a real relaxing evening together--let alone a night together--in over a month. Perhaps that had been part of what had irked Chiaki so earlier at the event. He'd worked hard to make this happen--wanting Yuu to enjoy it as much as he himself had wanted to as well. To find out that his efforts had been, more or less, for naught...well, it fucking sucked. Nothing was going right these past few weeks, and he supposed this was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

He sighed to himself, tossing the tray onto a stack of others, and slinked back to his chair, where Yuu was already arranging his bag across his shoulder and holding Chiaki's out as well. "Let's go."

"Eh? Are we late?" He glanced down at his watch. "I thought our tickets weren't until 7..."

With one hand at the small of his back, Yuu gently steered Chiaki towards the doors. "They aren't. But we'll need to get to the station before then if we want to extend them until tomorrow morning."


He knew it wasn't doing much good, but Chiaki couldn't help surreptitiously cupping his hands at his eyes like blinders, wary of eye contact with anyone else in the empty lobby. "Yuu, what are we doing here, seriously?!"

Yuu was preoccupied with a glowing panel, scratching his chin in thought as he flipped through a listing of available rooms. "Ooh, this one has a moe theme...what do you think?" Chiaki hoped his glare was sufficient to reflect his opinions on Yuu's choice of overnight accomodations. "Geez. It's my birthday--"

"--in three days."

"--You'd think someone would be a bit more indulging..." Chiaki just glanced away, hunching his shoulders and trying to angle his body away from the cameras set up around the room.

A love hotel. He couldn't believe he was standing in the lobby of such an establishment; but Yuu had been fairly insistent, and they had come all the way to Osaka, so leaving less than a few hours after arriving seemed a bit of a shame. Still, they had work the next morning--and leaving Osaka on the first train out would be a hard enough trip without the previous night having been spent in...well, here.

He cast another furtive glance over at Yuu, growing impatient. "Geez, just pick one already! One that looks like a normal room. I don't understand why we didn't just get a hotel room by the station--"

"Yes; hotel rooms are ever so cheap and easy to come by on the fly, just outside of Shin-Osaka station."

"Still. You're the one who wanted to stay in the first place."

Yuu shrugged, finally making a selection. "So this place is fine, right?"

Chiaki bit his tongue, not wanting to get into this argument any further. "Let's just get upstairs and get some sleep..." he muttered, pulling his bag close and keeping his gaze to the ground. Who knew what sorts of people frequented establishments like this.

People like me, his mind reminded now. Yes, he was now an official patron of a love hotel. Oh this would be a great story for Tori once they got back.

He flinched and nearly jerked his hand back when chilly fingers threaded themselves through his own, pressing their palms together as Yuu tugged him forward, beckoning him to follow. Chiaki swallowed thickly and traipsed after dutifully, confused when Yuu passed up the elevator and just went for the stairs. "It's just on the second floor," was the amused explanation, and Chiaki wondered just how much of his emotions tended to register on his face, that Yuu could always read him so easily.

The room was...nice, Chiaki had to admit. Yuu had gone for austerity, whether of his own accord or to please Chiaki, and the decor reflected a simple elegance that belied what the room was typically used for. He wouldn't have known it was situated in the belly of a love hotel unless someone had told him--or he'd just been in the lobby five minutes prior checking in.

Yuu was already unpacking, stripping down to his undershirt and boxers and rifling through his oversized bag. Why he'd even brought so large a bag on a day-trip had confused Chiaki initially, but as he watched Yuu remove a small bag stuffed with toiletries, the truth of the matter settled over him.

"...You planned this."

Yuu glanced up, face a mask of innocence. "Planned what?"

"Planned--this. This trip. Spending the night."

"I came prepared, if that's what you mean."

"Prepared for something you planned," Chiaki accused, crossing his arms. Not that he was necessarily angry, only...he didn't appreciate Yuu always being one step ahead of him. This trip had been his idea, and here Yuu was subverting part of it, injecting his own itinerary into the mix and turning Chiaki's world upside down yet again. That side of him was endearing at most points--but just now…it was kind of irritating. "This was supposed to be my surprise. For you."

And some of that irritation and annoyance must have come out as genuine disappointment, for Yuu's features went slack and he padded over softly, settling at the edge of the bed near Chiaki to stare up at him from a lower vantage point. "Oi...I'm not doing this to undermine you or anything, you know?" He reached out to grab one of Chiaki's hands in his own, fingers trailing over the delicate bone structure in a nervous habit. "Just--I wanted to surprise you, too? Kind of?" Chiaki scoffed, conscious of the way Yuu was trying to weasel out of taking the blame. "Hey, I'm serious."

"And I am, too," Chiaki pressed, pulling his hand back and feeling a bit vindicated at the hurt that flashed across Yuu's features. He needed to not be so smug and superior all the time. "I wanted..." He sighed and slipped onto the bed beside Yuu, defeated. "I wanted to sweep you off your feet some, too, you know."

It wasn't fair that Yuu got to always be the brave one, the daring one, the one who took chances and made risks just to set Chiaki off balance because he liked being there to catch him when he fell. Chiaki was a man, with--manly pride--and being able to surprise the person you cared about at times like this was part of what you were supposed to do when you were a man in love. At least, that was how Chiaki figured it, and if it smacked of shoujo bullshit, he could hardly be blamed.

The fact remained that he'd dragged Yuu down here with plans, and now those plans were being subverted by Yuu himself. He cast an irritated glance at Yuu at his side, ire driven higher when he found the guy openly gaping at him. "Wh--what?"

"Just--you already do that to me. All the time."

"Huh?" His voice went shrill with shock, and he shifted on the bed to draw one leg up underneath himself. "I'm being serious here--you're always the one who makes the first move or--or who does stupid little things to try and surprise me or shock me, and just…" He trailed off, hearing how petty he sounded; weren't you supposed to be glad to have those kinds of things happen to you?

"I…" Yuu started, and Chiaki glanced away, wishing he'd thought this through; Yuu was smug and sly at his best, but he could prove surprisingly delicate, easily hurt by Chiaki's thoughtless, defensive protests and arguments. "I thought you--I mean, I assumed you didn't mind…"

Chiaki groaned and flopped back down on the bed, shuddering when he found himself staring up at a mirrored ceiling. There went any sense of normalcy in the room. He closed his eyes and grimaced. "I--I didn't mean…" He wiped a hand across his face and cocked his head to the side to stare up at Yuu. "I don't…mind those things." Licking his lips, he amended softly. "I like them." Something flickered across Yuu's face, and he shifted in place, leaning forward to brace one hand on either side of Chiaki's torso, leaving Chiaki feeling rather hemmed in but not nervous in the least--only…excited.

"I'm glad. I like them, too."

"It's just...sometimes I want to be the one to do them to you." The corners of Yuu's lips quirked up, and he quickly corrected his questionable phrasing. "I mean--you know." Sometimes I want to make you feel how you make me feel. So simple, so elegant. So impossible to give voice to.

Yuu's lips pulled back into a proper grin now. "I think I get the idea."

"Then stop being an ass and let me do things for you sometimes."

"Feel free to do things for me whenever you like."

"Yuu," he warned, shifting up onto his elbows and making Yuu pull back or risk bumping noses. "I seriously just…" But his voice failed him and refused to be summoned back, even in the wake of Yuu's bemused eyebrow quirk, and Chiaki settled for the next best thing--balancing himself to reach up and guide Yuu forward for a steady hand at the base of his neck until they were kissing. If the guy insisted on spouting out annoying jabs, he would need to be silenced in other ways.

If Yuu objected to Chiaki taking initiative, his excited throaty chortle was doing a hell of a job disguising it, and in short order he'd pressed Chiaki back down flat on the bed, easing up onto his knees to straddle his friend beneath him in a more comfortable position.

Chiaki tried to remain blissfully ignorant of where Yuu was trying to take this--focusing instead on the flushed, racing pulse thrumming underneath his fingers along Yuu's throat, the soft huffing in his ears coalescing with a slick, wet smacking as they nipped and bit along one another's lips, cheeks, jaws. "There are…mirrors on the ceiling," Chiaki complained breathily, glancing upward with a frown.

"You'd rather I went with the moe character theme?" Chiaki made a face, and Yuu laughed, nearly snorting his amusement. "We'll be far too preoccupied to care, I assure you." He'd already started going for the buttons of Chiaki's shirt, ass brushing Chiaki's crotch gently as he struggled to stay balanced on his knees. When Chiaki gave a soft keening grunt and bit his lip to keep from releasing a string of profanities as Yuu seemed to purposefully rub against him, his grin turned crooked. "Or if it's too distracting, I'm sure a change of positions would solve that…"

Chiaki weighed this option through a heady haze; this kind of thing he didn't generally think about too much, his mood generally following behind Yuu's own and content to roll with whatevery Yuu suggested. It confused him sometimes; he would've thought, if he'd ever given sex with Yuu any serious consideration, that to lie here on his back, legs spread and waiting like a girl, would be the height of humiliation, something he'd only engage in once in a blue moon--for fairness' sake. And yet, once this had started to become something they did, something that was an extension of the relationship they'd fostered as a product of mutual desire...Chiaki had found his concerns all but melting away until, funnily enough, he didn't care how he had Yuu, as long as he had him, as long as he could see Yuu come undone through some manner of his own doing.

He liked watching Yuu feel him, enjoy him. He liked the control.

"Yeah..." he breathed roughly, then braced his hands on Yuu's chest before brushing across the thin material of his undershirt to grip at his shoulders--heaving himself up with a grunt to overbalance and shove Yuu down onto his back.

Yuu landed on the bed with an oof, blinking blearily a few times in quick succession before not even trying to fight the cocky grin on his lips. "See? All the time, sweeping me off my feet."

Chiaki raised a brow, daring Yuu to keep up the commentary, and silently drew a condom from the small complimentary bowl of them on the nightstand, muttering a low, "Thanks..." as Yuu pressed a nondescript bottle of gel into his free hand.

Sitting up on his elbows, Yuu ducked his head down to try and meet Chiaki's eye, where he was resolutely reviewing the instructions on the bottle as if reacquainting himself with just how to use it. "Want put it on you?"

Chiaki's gaze was sharp, but the message was blunted somewhat by the flush to his skin that was less evidence of his arousal--that was obvious in the tenting of his pants--and more his standard response when faced with something he wasn't quite accustomed to taking the lead on. "I know how to work a condom."

Yuu fell back against the mattress and watched appreciatively as Chiaki rolled onto his feet shakily, standing upright to shimmy out of his pants and free the last few buttons on his shirt. Idly rubbing himself through his underwear, he returned easily, "Didn't ask if you knew how to work it."

Letting his own boxers fall by the wayside, Chiaki dropped like a stone back down to his knees, causing the bed to shudder, and snapped the elastic of Yuu's underwear against his skin pointedly. "I'm more concerned with your inability to properly derobe in a timely manner."

Yuu arched his back to work the last of his clothing off. "I do so enjoy it when you get all forceful, Sensei." His undershirt was the last article to go, leaving the both of them completely exposed, and he ran a hand through his hair with a huff, perking up at the familiar sound of a cap snapping--and then freezing in place, bare-ass naked on the bed of a love hotel in Osaka.

"...Oi, Chiaki."


He swallowed thickly. "...You're supposed to put the lube on yourself after the condom, you know."

Chiaki snorted, gaze lidded and heavy as he kept his eyes trained on Yuu, continuing to work his fingers inside himself. His inner thighs and palm glistened in the low mood-lighting of the room, and the way his back arched as he worked to angle himself properly, it nearly rendered Yuu speechless. "'Course I know," he assured Yuu, using his free hand to bring the condom package to his mouth as he delicately tore open the wrapper and peeled it away. "Watched you do it enough times."

He tried swallowing again--but this time there was a thick lump in his throat. "Don't paid very close attention then," he managed, mesmerized with watching Chiaki's fingers disappear and reappear again, each pass setting a new expression flashing across Chiaki's features as he worked to prep himself.

"You'd be surprised," he muttered, mostly to himself, and with the condom delicately poised between two fingers, he laved a strip of saliva up the center of his palm and gave Yuu's cock--now quite pert and pink--a few encouraging strokes to set it straight before he rolled the condom down over it. He then snatched up the bottle of gel again, snapping the lid open and drizzling a few glistening ribbons into the palm of the hand he'd been using on himself, and gave Yuu's shaft several preparatory strokes. "See? Know full well what I'm doing."

"That makes--hn--one of us..." Yuu took deep breaths, slowly exhaling as he held himself in check; his embarrassing inability to last long when Chiaki so willingly touched him was threatening to ruin the moment. Chiaki was understanding...but there was a fine line between being flattered and being frustrated.

Shifting over Yuu's legs to position himself just over the shaft, Chiaki carefully guided himself down as expertly as if this were something he did on a regular basis and not a bold first attempt at guiding their lovemaking from such a position. Yuu had to watch half in ecstasy and half in flat-out, raw awe. The guy never ceased to amaze him; not in over fifteen years--there was always something new he could show Yuu, some new side to himself, some different aspect that Yuu had never known before but was already falling in love with before he even realized it. He forced his eyes shut, holding his breath, and tried not to groan as Chiaki slid down, achingly slowly.

Something brushed against his cheek. "...So...did I sweep you off your feet?" Chiaki's face was inches from his own, dark with shadows and the flush of arousal. His fingers trailed down where they'd stroked his cheek, sliding down the line of Yuu's throat to press a cool palm over his heart. He nodded weakly, not trusting his voice, and Chiaki's grin was open and genuine in return. "Excellent." It was more than excellent, Yuu wanted to assure him, but he settled for giving a small, reminding thrust, and Chiaki's fingers scrabbled for purchase against his shoulders, digging in almost painfully as he leaned up and away from the intrusion. "Shit. Tell me when you're gonna do that."

"...Fine." Clenching his abs to lift himself up enough to bring his lips close to Chiaki's ear, he gave as strong a whisper as he could manage. "I'm gonna fuck you now, Chiaki."

It was hard to tell if the subsequent gasp was due to Yuu's vulgar words or the punching thrust he executed--but it really didn't matter. Chiaki clung tight, face buried in Yuu's shoulder as their thighs slapped together loudly in the wake of Yuu's pistoning hips, his rate punishing and bound to leave them both aching and breathless once the adrenaline wore off. When he showed signs of flagging, Chiaki shoved him down by the shoulders and shifted back, sitting primly on top of Yuu's cock before executing a few experimental bounces, eventually finding a rhythm he was comfortable with and giving Yuu a short respite from their activities as he lifted himself up before settling back down again, trembling fingers guiding Yuu's hand to his own cock to prompt his attentions.

In short order, though, they were once again a mutually writhing, bouncing, thrusting pair of bodies each working against the other to achieve maximum pleasure between the both of them, and their peaks crept up swift and deadly, sending them hurtling over the edge with stifled gasps and groans. Chiaki's legs failed him, and he toppled onto Yuu, cock spurting pathetically in the space between their bellies as he felt Yuu's own within him shudder and signal its release with a warmth filling the condom inside him.

Chiaki struggled not to crush Yuu beneath him, equally concerned with not crushing his own manhood between their bodies, but his strength was sapped, and he settled for casually leaning off to the side, weight settled at Yuu's midsection until they recovered enough to untangle themselves from one another.

A soft chuckle drew Chiaki's consciousness back to the present after several long, quiet moments of just drawing breath and trying not to glance up at the ceiling to see if they looked as raw and dirty as he felt just now. "Wh--what?"

"Just--the sheer absurdity. Of where we are and what we just did." Chiaki struggled to pull away, face going at once white and red in an inexplicable welt of color. "Don't give me that." He wrapped his arms around Chiaki's shoulders and pulled him close, breathing in deeply where he pressed his face into Chiaki's hair. "Not on my birthday."

"It's--" Chiaki grunted, managing at length to at least put Yuu at arm's length again. "--not your birthday." He huffed and blew a strand of hair from his eyes. "Make all the demands you want three days from now."



Yuu jerked his head to the digital clock on the nightstand. "Two days from now." The numbers had ticked over past midnight a short while before, and Chiaki frowned, to Yuu's amusement. "Please, try to restrain your excitement."

"I'm not getting you two presents," he reminded brusquely, lips pursed in disapproval. "It's your own fault this one was ruined."

Yuu lifted up onto his elbows, balancing on one as he reached forward to pull Chiaki close again for another kiss, smiling when Chiaki's lips proved more amenable than his expression belied. "If this is ruined, I can't wait to see what it looks like when you succeed..."

Chapter Text

"Here you are," was the clipped offer, and Masmaune reflexively held out a hand expectantly as a small, smushed ball of rice cake was unceremoniously dropped into his open palm. "The first batch; it's tradition for the family to have some before we pack it up to share with friends and neighbors."

Masamune turned his gaze up to study the face, all hard lines and pursed lips, of Ritsu's mother carefully, as if he half suspected the woman to have stuffed a cyanide pill in the treat. It was no secret she, of all of Ritsu's immediate friends and family, least approved of their relationship--but he also supposed that was due in no small part to the rather atypical way in which said relationship had come to light.

She was a proud woman, evidently used to getting her own way with the men in her life--and she very obviously thought of Ritsu's An-chan as her daughter in spirit if not yet in name. To have it essentially thrown in her face that that wasn't happening--and in front of her own family--was probably not the best way to make a good impression on her.

Masamune traditionally wasn't all that concerned with impressions, to be sure, and he'd reminded Ritsu several times in the past that he cared not a whit what Ritsu's family thought of them…until it became evident that Ritsu's family…kind of didn't mind.

And that was worse than being scorned.

Because now, instead of thumbing his nose at the establishment and scooping Ritsu up to trot along back to their apartment, he had to sit here on a bench in the Onoderas' backyard while Ritsu and An-chan gleefully smashed sticky blobs of sodden rice into a pulp, chatting up the good madam Onodera and pretending like they weren't both uncomfortable beyond measure doing so.

Now he had to socialize and be polite, because Ritsu loved his parents--loved his whole family--and being a part of Ritsu's life now meant being a part of all aspects of his life…including these awkward family gatherings that Masamune had never really taken part in even with his own family.

He ducked his head in an appreciative nod, forcing a polite smile. "I'm honored to be included; usually I have to wait for Ritsu to bring this back as a souvenir to enjoy." Her lips remained pursed in disapproval of his general existence, but he thought perhaps he noticed a softening of her eyes and decided he'd call that an improvement.

To his horror, though, the woman didn't return to her husband's side to watch Ritsu make a fool of himself digging around elbow-deep in rice offal, instead settling down beside him, legs tucked to the side as she primly nibbled on her own rice cake.

Masamune turned his gaze away, trying to divert his attention and ease the awkward silence stretching between them. It wasn't that he had any particular ill feelings towards Ritsu's mother; she'd taken the realization that her only child, heir to the family firm, was not going to be producing any little heirs of his own…surprisingly well for a woman of her age and upbringing.

Perhaps they had Ritsu's (ex-)fiancee to thank for that, he reflected. After Ritsu's birthday debacle, there'd been little formal contact from his mother, a heavy silence that had weighed harshly on Ritsu, to Masamune's disappointment, and any attempts to smooth things over with his father at the office had apparently been met with, "She just needs a bit of time…"

"A bit of time" had stretched into weeks, and then it was nearly summer and still his mother hadn't called or e-mailed, until Masamune had honestly feared that this was what came of the so-called parental love Ritsu had seemed to be steeped in all those years ago, bitterly accepting that in the end, the Onoderas had been no more concerned with their son's happiness than his own parents had been.

Despite his earnest efforts to distract Ritsu as best he could, though, it was difficult to miss the toll such abject rejection had taken on him--which made the impromptu invitation from An-chan for coffee at a cafe in Shibuya all the more welcome. Any contact with his 'old life' was bound to do Ritsu some good, even with as awkward a partner as An-chan, and when she urged Masamune to join them, he found himself seeing the young woman in a favorable light. She did care--probably always would--and time was very obviously healing her wounds, setting Masamune's own possessive instincts at ease.

However--when they'd turned up, glancing around for An-chan and instead finding An-chan and Ritsu's mother, it had been the first time in ages that Masamune had felt genuine fear, worry lancing through him, setting his teeth on edge and making him want to grab Ritsu by the arm and drag him back to the station. But then An-chan had spotted them, waved them over, and forced them to act a happy quartet--for all of five minutes until An-chan had asked cheerily, "So does Ricchan's snoring keep you up at night, Takano-san?"

Masamune had thankfully been only about to take a sip of his latte, but Ritsu had been in mid-gulp, and he nearly passed out from choking, only coming around after Masamune rubbed his back a few times in concern, shooting An-chan a dark look. She ignored it, though, instead turning to the flabbergasted woman beside her and chatting animatedly about summers as a child spent at the Onoderas' cottage in the southern Alps of Yamanashi where, "You could hear Ricchan two rooms over, honestly! Right?"

At her prompting, Ritsu's mother nodded shakily, blinking back and forth between An-chan and Ritsu before a soft look of reminiscence settled over her brow, and she sighed long-sufferingly and supplemented An-chan's tale with remarks of her own about even going so far as to consult doctors to ensure that Ritsu's bad habit wasn't a serious medical condition.

Once Ritsu had recovered from nearly choking, though, he'd been flushed with mortification the entire rest of the coffee date, all but begging his mother not to launch into some new story of his antics as a child, which she resolutely ignored--as to be expected. By the time their cups had been drained and the staff were casting glances their way, silently urging them to obtain refills or be on their way, Masamune found he'd actually enjoyed the outing, even with An-chan's occasional quips that seemed aimed at reminding him she'd known Ritsu far longer and was far more familiar with him.

Sizing up Ritsu's mother as they'd parted ways, it was difficult to tell if she was starting to come around to her son's choice in partners or relationships in general, but when she kissed one cheek and patted the other before letting An-chan escort her away, Ritsu's expression assured him whatever had just happened had been just the right touch.

Sitting here as he was now, though, stiff and silent against and equally stony Onodera matron, it was hard to recall the ease with which words had been traded before, leaving Masamune confused and wary about upsetting the truce they seemed to have called.

"Were you surprised, Takano-san?"

"Eh?" His back went straight, and he squeezed the little ball in his hands a bit too tightly, sending it oozing through his fingers. "I'm--sorry? About…?"

"That we invited you here," she clarified simply, nibbling on her mochi cake. "Ritsu certainly was; I only wondered how you had reacted." After a moment's pause, she added, "Did you not have plans with your own family?"

Bowing to her unspoken suggestion, he tore off a piece of his mochi and swallowed the confection, grimacing; too sweet. "I don't…spend much time around my parents, ma'am. They divorced when I was younger." He kept his explanation short and succinct; no sense in spilling his guts to the woman who likely thought him solely responsible for every stress-induced ulcer in her life.

"Oh…" And she sounded genuinely surprised, and--a bit sympathetic as well, contrition coloring her voice as she added. "I'm terribly sorry."

Masamune shrugged his indifference; it was hardly an open wound anymore. "I hardly have time these days to go home anyways."

"And yet you made time to come out here with Ritsu." She raised a brow. "I suppose you truly have honored us with your presence." That sharp edge to her tongue was back, and Masamune wanted to laugh; he supposed he shouldn't have expected her good will to last too terribly long.

He raised his rice cake to her in a gesture of toasting. "Quite anything would have been better than sitting in our apartment doing manuscript checks."

"Oh--that's right…" she remarked, as if suddenly recalling this, and Masamune's stomach clenched as he mentally reprimanded himself for unnecessarily bringing up his housing situation; things were awkward enough as they were, no need to purposefully try and make this conversation more uncomfortable. "You're working for Marukawa, aren't you?"

He blinked a few times, rice cake hanging from his lips as he'd been attempting to tear off another bite for politeness' sake. He swallowed hastily. "I--yeah. Yes. I do. I am. An editor for Emerald."

She scoffed. "Modesty is overrated. I'm certain Ritsu's told me you're the editor-in-chief." She eyed him warily. "So are you any good?"

There was no need to bring up the fact that cold numbers had his team running her husband's own shoujo department into the ground financially for ten months straight now. "…I'm satisfied with my department's performance, yes," he responded evenly.

She hmmed softly at this response, brushing her fingers together to dust off the remnants of her mochi, and then stood up and wandered back over to where her husband sat on a row of benches, giving Masamune only a small, stiff bow of her head in farewell before departing.

Masamune watched her leave, not bothering to breathe any sighs of relief until she was out of earshot, and felt his breath freeze in his lungs when she stopped halfway across the yard with a hand on Ritsu's shoulder, leaning over to whisper something in his ear before patting his cheek and continuing on. Ritsu seemed equally confused, watching her toddle back over to his father for only a moment before turning his gaze to lock with Masamune's, muttering some excuse to An-chan and jogging over to where he sat.

Huffing softly with the effort, Ritsu drew to a stop in front of Masamune, breath coming out in little steamy puffs and face flushed with the chill. Masamune wanted to touch his cheeks and feel the warmth there--but held himself in check. "…What was that about?"


"She said she still doesn't like you."

"Yet here you are."

Ritsu pursed his lips. "Well--she also said it wasn't polite to ignore guests."

Masamune snorted and turned over the last of his rice cake. "So now I'm back to being a guest, huh?" Perhaps admissions of his being family now were only for private ears. "I don't think we'll be getting a New Year's postcard."

Ritsu rolled his eyes. "She's just being difficult. My father likes you well enough."

"Does he, now? Even though I'm the competition?"

"One magazine does not an entire company make." He turned around and backed up against the bench, slipping down beside Masamune in the same spot his mother had occupied only moments before. "No matter how well your department does, it doesn't change the fact that Onodera Publishing still pulls in more per-quarter than Marukawa on the whole." He leaned in, leering. "You're good, but even the tyrant editor-in-chief of Emerald isn't good enough to keep Marukawa afloat on his own."

Masamune was unruffled. "Maybe I'm the one who shouldn't be hanging around the competition, then."

"Maybe; who knows what tactics I may resort to in order to get you to spill industry secrets in bed."

Masamune's lips curled at the edges, finally letting himself give in to Ritsu's attempts at levity. "I should be so lucky." He cocked his head to the side, pleased to see Ritsu close at hand, pressed up against Masamune's side and face turned upward to share in Masamune's warmth. It would be so very easy to close the distance, to taste the sweet after-flavor of mochi and spiced otoso on his breath. Ritsu seemed to have the same idea, breath coming now in little excited pants, and Masamune cast a quick glance off to the side across the yard. "…Your mother's watching us."

"…Good." He curled his fingers around the lapels of Masamune's coat, tugging him close and pressing their lips together, chastely but firmly, with a subtle swipe of his tongue across Masamune's lip to favor him with that flavor he'd been wondering about. Pulling away after a moment and delivering a last soft peck against the corner of his mouth, Ritsu smiled, flushed and full of himself, and stood back up to play the gentleman and entertain An-chan a bit more.

Masamune watched him leave, heart doing a flip when the guy nearly stumbled on jelly legs--how had he managed to do that to himself?--and he covered his mouth to stifle the grin threatening to break out over his features.

This family. They were going to be the death of him, one way or another.

"I don't like him," Ritsu's mother repeated firmly, settling down beside her husband and keeping a sharp eye on her son as he padded across the yard to where she'd left Takano-san. "He's far too self-absorbed. And he's a liar."

Ritsu's father chuckled at his wife's antics; no one was ever going to be good enough for her Ritsu. It had taken An-chan years to get the woman to warm up to her--but once she opened herself up, it was quite difficult to steer her off of a target. He patted her knee warmly. "Did he lie--or did you simply not ask the right questions?"

"Trying to convince me he was just a lowly editor…" she trailed off, ignoring him but taking the proffered otoso he held out for her. "You'd think if he were trying to make a good impression he'd flaunt the fact that he's editor-in-chief."

"Didn't you just say he came off as self-absorbed?" Her look was sharp, and he held his hands up in defense. "Regardless, he seems like a decent young man… And An-chan--well, she appears to be coping well enough, so I don't see…"

His wife scoffed, crossing her arms and shifting closer, pulling her shawl up. "I still don't like him."

"Then I suppose it's a good thing you're not the one dating him."

She groaned softly. "Don't use such language…" Considering the point for a moment, though, she turned on him. "And you--I don't see how you can't feel threatened that our only son is fraternizing with the competition."

He shrugged, disaffected. "I don't see how having a first-rate manga editor at our son's beck and call can be anything but a potential boon for the company," he countered evenly, smiling slyly. "You've never cared much for the finer points of the business at any rate--somehow I doubt Takano-san's career path is as great a concern to you as his choice in partner."

Her shoulders slumped in defeat, and she let her head fall against her husband's shoulder. "I was so sure An-chan and he would have been perfect together… She loves him so much; she could have made him so happy…"

Surreptitiously watching his son and Takano-san from across the yard, though, Onodera silently countered that An-chan or no, Ritsu seemed happy enough as it was.

Chapter Text

The revelation hits you like a ton of bricks.

"We're moving in together; next month, if everything works out."

It's been weeks since you've been able to wrangle Takano out for drinks--you don't dare make house calls anymore, as there's no telling when you'll be forced to make nice with Onodera--and you've finally got him here, ass planted in the stool next to you and nursing something stronger than what you've usually seen him drink. Celebration, he called it--and then you made the mistake of asking, Celebration for what?

You want to punch him. It's different from the feeling of snapped anger and irritation you've come to associate with this man after years together--different from how you want to clock him good when he puts forth some new ludicrous figure in a print-run decision meeting, different from how you want to slam him against the wall to try and shake into him your annoyance that he was, once again, right about that ludicrous figure. No: this time it's boiling anger and frustration and confusion and--god you hate this--abject desperation that has you clenching your tumbler so tight you worry it might crack.

You scoff instead--it's a safe way to express your incredulity as well as to release the air that's stopped up in your lungs. You never pegged him for rash decisions, you grumble--he and Onodera have only been dating, what, a few months? Seven, he reminds you easily, nearly eight--and you're grateful he doesn't bring up the fact that it's the longest relationship he's ever had, the most fulfilling, the relationship he's been waiting on for ten years, a relationship with the person you've always only ever been a substitute for. A relationship he's well and truly happy in--a happiness you were never able to replicate, to draw out of him, in bed or in person.

The urge to slug him fades away, instead replaced by the overwhelming desire to fling yourself at him and hug him close--a realization that turns your stomach--because maybe through osmosis you can more easily relate the feelings and emotions running through your being. There's so much you want to say--so much you've held inside--but instead what comes out is:


And you can see everything you'd ever held on to, all the hope and prayers that maybe, some day, you'd be there and he'd look at you and realize that it was always you, that you were the only one there for him through thick and thin, that you were the one who always picked him up when he fell regardless of whether he saw you as friend or more-than-friend. That it never mattered to you--so long as you could be by his side--and that he would appreciate that, that he would…fall in love with that.

You can see it…right as it shatters before you. He turns away from you, staring stonily ahead as he nurses his drink. "Because it's him."

"But--why him?! He's the one who hurt you--he's the one who--who threw you away--!" And you have to bite your tongue to soften your tone, aware of the looks you're drawing. Your breath is coming in fast pants, your pulse is racing, and there's a heat prickling at the back of your eyes, setting you to cursing. "You're better than this--you're over this--"

Takano snorts, shaking his head. "If you genuinely believed that, you're stupider than I figured."

Your fist clenches at your side; Takano's always been frank with his words, taking liberties with you no one else would've dared. Maybe it's because he knows how you feel; maybe it's because he knows deep down you'd never hurt me. You're weak against him--have always been. Always will be, probably.

You force yourself to calm down--to take deeper breaths, to not let on how utterly betrayed you feel right now. Hell, you'd probably sooner forgive him for marrying a woman--but this? This is fucked up, there are no two ways about it.

You suppose you only have yourself to blame. You'd suspected this Onodera character was trouble the moment you set eyes on him; Takano had been living in that apartment for years, and suddenly he'd taken an interest in his scrawny next door neighbor? But then the guy had all but giddily spilled that he'd found him. That this person he'd fallen in love with was, god it had to be fate: was Ritsu. How could anyone turn that down--the opportunity to start a relationship all over again, for the better?

That you didn't put your foot down sooner--as soon as you'd learned that Onodera had once been Oda--is no one's fault but your own, and so this whole situation, with Takano nearly finished with his drink and looking sorely like he's weighing getting another or just calling it a night, is all down to you and your cowardice, not wanting to turn him against you.

To the victor belong the spoils, you remind yourself--and then you grimace and slam your glass onto the bar. "Anyone. Anyone but him."

You keep your gaze focused ahead, gritting your teeth for Takano's inevitable reply, and when it comes, it's smoother and steadier than you'd expected, to your great disappointment. "…Sorry. It's got to be him--and no one else." He then adds, rubbing salt in the wound: "Including you." That he doesn't sound genuinely malicious in the reminder does nothing to make it easier to accept.

He seems to have made up his mind and knocks back the last of his drink, pushing his tumbler away and waving off the barkeep who'd been eyeing him curiously, slipping off the stool and tugging on the short coat still necessary in the chilly evenings. "It's happening, Yokozawa. I'm not asking for your permission--or your blessing. So get the fuck over it. You know I value your friendship, but if you're going to be an ass about it…" He doesn't finish the threat; he doesn't have to.

The finality and ease with which he delivers the ultimatum sends a jolt of genuine fear through you: He'd known this was what it would come to before he even sat down with you at this bar. You're that easy to read, that predictable.

He tugs at his lapels and eyes you calmly, expression blank as always--it turns your stomach, knowing that all of the emotion that's flashed across his features of late has been placed there by Onodera. He's always been the one responsible for Takano's ups and downs, and unless he fucks something up again--he'll be the one responsible for some time to come yet.

"Good night, Yokozawa," he offers shortly, patting you on the back and quickly pulling his hand away--because he wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea, of course--before tossing a couple of thousand-yen notes onto the bar and making his exit.

You don't watch him leave; you can imagine what it looks like well enough on your own.

Looking back, you should have left right then. Right after Takano left, you should've waited five minutes for propriety's sake, and then made your own way home, back to your empty apartment--well, there's always Sorata; the only man who's never left you--before turning in for the evening. Maybe if you'd done that, you could've avoided all this drama.

But instead, you flag down the bartender, waving your glass insistently, and dig in your heels for a long night. The evening's fucking sucked so far, so you may as well do your level best to try and ensure it's wiped from your memory. Maybe you can reconcile this (horrifically bad, ignorant, blind) decision of Takano's better in a few days.

You earn a new seat mate right as the room's starting to spin and your stomach's churning a warning to make your exit soon. A steady hand on your shoulder, someone huffing your name in amusement, and fingers far nimbler than your own prising the glass from your grip and muttering softly that you've had more than enough I think.

You recognize him--distantly, albeit--and you're having trouble recalling if you even know him all that well or if it's just the booze fucking up your memory. Kawashima--fuck, no, that's not right. Something like that though, and you don't put much more effort into remembering it correctly, as by this point your speech is slurring so badly he obviously can't even tell your muttered curses are directed at someone else.

You frown at the cool slide of the ring on his finger against your own as he pulls away your glass, and you snap out something along the lines of what the fuck are you doing but it comes out, "What the fuck are you doing here?" and you want to bite your tongue off, traitorous thing that it's been this whole evening.

He laughs--it's a nice laugh; it doesn't grate, though you suspect with prolonged exposure it could irritate the shit out of you, since he seems far too inclined to find situations amusing that are most definitely anything but. He rattles off some story about a storm outside--you hadn't even realized it was raining--sending him here for shelter, hoping a drink and a meal might warm him up. "Need an agony aunt?" he offers, signing something to the barkeep that must have been a drink order, for a moment later a new glass joins yours between you.

You tell him to fuck off--or think you do--but whatever comes out must be something else, for he just raises his brow expectantly, and you wind up muttering in a voice dripping with self-loathing, "First loves never last."

"Aah," he nods knowingly, sympathetically pushing the glass he'd confiscated back your way in silent permission for you to continue getting pissed out of your skull. "Not for guys like us, I imagine."

You don't know what 'guys like us' means, but you suppose getting drunk with Kawashima--or whatever his name winds up being when you remember it later--is less pathetic than getting drunk alone, so you gratefully take your drink back and tell him all about Takano without telling him a word about Takano.

"Fuck, you're heavy," is the grunted voice in your ear, and you mutter something along the lines of no one asked for you to cart me home. He snorts at this, amusement thick in his voice as he reminds you, "Your manners could use some work. Would a thank you for not leaving me to pass out over the bar kill you?"

No, it wouldn't, you silently agree--and then proceed to vomit your gratitude all over the sidewalk. He doesn't seem to appreciate it, and you can kind of understand why--but beggars can't be choosers, and he should learn to accept thanks in all forms. That's thousands of yen worth of booze you just heaved onto his shoes and the hem of his pants and down the front of your shirt and all over these potted plants someone set out to take advantage of the earlier shower.

Shit, you can't remember if you paid the tab or not; you may never be able to go to that bar again. But well--given what happened (obviously you failed at getting drunk enough to not remember), you might never want to go there again.

Somehow, he stands you up again, and together you shuffle what feels like miles but was likely only a few blocks, and you shortly find yourself slumped across a plush, pleather couch in the lobby of a building you don't recognize, vomit on your shirt starting to sting your nostrils. With unsteady fingers, you pick at the buttons down the front, trying to work them free to shrug off your puke-soaked clothing, but your steadfast protector is over you in a flash, batting away your hands and muttering at you to, "Geez, keep yourself decent at least til we get up to the room..."

You'd snap some retort back if you didn't think doing so might induce another bout of vomiting, so you swallow such thoughts for now and instead focus on how he's dragging you about not by the wrist, not with a hand at your waist, but with your fingers entwined, that ring scraping against your fingers and the cold metal burning you like a brand. Fucking inconsiderate prick; doesn't he realize?

The room he practically shoves you into is on the first floor--which is good, because you couldn't have made your way up any stairs alive and you don't think there's an elevator in what you're pretty sure is a love hotel. You want to laugh, even though it's not very funny. Somehow the sheer absurdity of the situation has you amused.

"Come on, you drunk…" Kawashima mutters, guiding you toward the bed, and he turns you around and starts to tug at your tie. Your vision's still blurring, the room steeped in haze, but this close, you can see his brows furrowed in concentration as he works at the knot. He smells like cigarette smoke and thick, sweet alcohol, all that's left of your evening at the bar now, and you feel the strength in your legs leave you all of a sudden as you slump onto the mattress, fingers clenching tight and digging into the fabric of his shirt, practically tugging him down on top of you.

You flop onto your back most inelegantly, and the sudden change in position has your head spinning violently--leaving you worried you're about to choke on your own vomit--but Kawashima braces a hand against the mattress, straddling you and looking on with a worried expression (at least you think that's worry; hard to tell when the guy seems to have six eyes).

Your breath catches in your throat, and for a moment your vision clears; it's been a while since you've gotten any. A long while. And this guy might be too nosy for his own good and unable to take a hint--but he's taken care of you at least. A gentleman would offer more than vomit-soaked shoes to repay the kindness.

Your fingers clench tighter in the material of his shirt, pulling him closer, and you tip your chin up in invitation--but he's not being moved, instead calmly eyeing you, sizing you up. You're too drunk to be assed with foreplay just now, and in irritation, you try shifting up onto your elbows, rasping a gruff challenge, "Well do you wanna fuck me or not?" Because apparently you haven't made enough bad decisions this evening.

But the movement sends another wave of nausea over you, and this time it's overwhelming--sending you plummeting back to the bed and letting the darkness of unconsciousness creep in.

The last thing you remember before you pass out in the wake of your desperate offer is more of that gentle, amused laughter--and now it definitely is starting to get annoying, especially when your world goes black and all you catch is, “…Maybe next time.”

Chapter Text

Masamune supposed he should've taken some time before things developed as they had to take stock of his situation; the longer he put things off, the more difficult it would be to extricate himself and leave both he and Onodera little worse for wear should reality prove more difficult to navigate than fantasy would lead them to hope.

But hindsight was 20/20, and the present reality, the one he was living, was one in which he was standing here, barefoot, in Onodera's kitchen at 7:30 on a Saturday morning trying to figure out if he could scrape something together for breakfast out of the meager contents of Onodera's fridge and pantry, or if he was going to have to go back to his own apartment (next door though it might be) and finish off the last of the milk in his fridge before it went bad.

Things weren't supposed to have worked out like this; not that like this was bad, necessarily, just…things weren't supposed to go this well. His luck was such that, regardless of any previous relationships he and Onodera may or may not have been engaged in, they were now nothing more than acquaintances thrown together by chance who had no business sitting with their shoulders pressed together while Onodera's daughter colored at the coffee table as they completed their checks together or waking up five minutes after dozing off on said couch with Onodera's head pillowed on Masamune's shoulder as he drooled inelegantly and frowned at being woken up, or tumbling into Onodera's bed with limbs and clothes flying everywhere, trying their damnedest to keep quiet, make it quick, lest Haru-chan wake up wanting a glass of warm milk as she was wont to do on Friday evenings (curry nights, of course).

Nope, absolutely no business doing any of that--so how had it become almost routine? Masamune was still a terror at work--but he wouldn't deny that he took a certain dark joy in the knowledge that each new assignment he doled out in the office meant more time for them sitting on Onodera's (never Masamune's for some reason) couch reviewing the material together. Maybe somewhere in the back of his mind he was still worried--scared that without this tether linking them, Onodera would float off, flit away with Haru-chan and back out of his life like sakura petals on a spring breeze.

Masamune shook his head, scoffing in disdain at himself; he had definitely been working in shoujo manga for too long if those were the kinds of metaphors he was entertaining these days. Raking fingers through his hair to try and force some manner of order into his unruly bedhead, and wandered about the still-unfamiliar kitchen in a pair of long pants and wife-beater, tapping his toes against the woodgrain floor beneath him as he inspected the kitchen cabinets carefully.

Onodera clearly hadn't gone shopping since Masamune had last been over here--two days ago, admittedly--and the pickings were slim. He gave a half-finished loaf of bread an experimental poke, turning it over in his hands for inspection, and frowned at the tell-tale signs of mold on one of the lower corners; toast was obviously out of the question. "Oughta start docking his pay for unfit living conditions…this is ridiculous," he muttered to himself, tossing the loaf into the burnables and making a mental note to pick up a fresh package from the conbini when he finished running errands later--it seemed trusting Onodera to do it himself was asking too much.

"…You spen' the night, Takassan?"

Masamune nearly jumped out of his skin, whirling around to find Haru-chan standing at the entrance to the kitchen, fluffy bunny slippers and long silky nightgown making her quite a sight. She clutched a stuffed rabbit that matched her slippers tight in one arm and rubbed pathetically at her eyes with her free fist, yawning through the question.

"…Yeah, your papa and I had work to finish. Now you can play with him all weekend." She pressed her rabbit to her face to hide her pleased smile, but the way her eyes crinkled at the edges told him this was a perfect way to start the day. "You hungry?" A nod, and he held one arm out in invitation. "Then let's go raid my fridge; there's nothing to eat here."

Without protest, she reached up and clenched her fingers tight around his, heaving her rabbit up against her side in a more comfortable grip as she let herself be led out of the apartment onto the terrace. "I want an omelet."


"Mama makes omelets on Saturday. Saturday's omelet day."

Her logic was unassailable. "…Let's see what we can do."

"So is it good?"

Haru-chan wrinkled her nose before stuffing another large bite into her mouth. "Needs more ketchup."

Masamune pushed the bottle closer to her. "Then put more on; I'm not your maid."

"'Course not," she concurred, struggling to navigate the huge bottle, and Masamune eventually gave in and pushed his chair out, shuffling around to relieve her of the burden before she made a mess, spurting a large dollop onto the remains of the omelet. "You're a boy."

Eyeing her warily, he allowed a small smile to grace his features and shook his head, snorting as he slipped back into his own seat. "I'm guessing you got your mouth from your mama…"

"What mouth?" came a groggy protest from the entrance to the little dining alcove as Onodera finally dragged himself out of bed and joined them for breakfast. "…We had eggs?"

"I had eggs," Masamune responded smoothly, jerking his head towards the stove. "Your portion's sitting in the skillet; I put a lid over it to keep it from drying out."

Onodera flushed, taking in the rather expansive breakfast setup Masamune and Haru-chan were enjoying--sliced fruit, milk and juice, a few slices of (not moldy) toast Masamune had dug out of his cupboard, and a pat of soft butter. "I…you didn't have to make…"

"It was either this or leftover curry from last night; and according to the Madam, Saturdays are omelet days." He tossed her a wink, seeking support. "Right?" A sharp nod was his reward, and he ruffled her hair; it was strangely comforting the way she hunched her shoulders and went red at the cheeks when he did so, reminding him eerily of Ritsu in high school. He was glad to have the opportunity to see it again, even if it wasn't quite the same as before.

He felt chilled fingers settle at his shoulder and glanced around quickly. "…Onodera?" But Onodera just cocked his head, lips pursed, and shifted away towards the stove, a clear indicator for Masamune to follow. "…What?"

Onodera dropped his voice into a desperate hiss to keep Haru-chan from overhearing. "You--can't do this."

"…Do what?"

"Cook--breakfast." Masamune just raised a brow, confused, and Onodera ground out, "It's--not appropriate."

Masamune's attitude cooled, and he crossed his arms, returning simply, "We do a lot of inappropriate things nowadays, you know. Do we need to draw up a list of what's still 'allowed' and what remains out-of-bounds?"

Onodera flushed deeply, ashamed, and he massaged his temples. Part of Masamune felt bad for starting the weekend off on a sour note like this, but he quickly reminded himself that this was Onodera's problem, not his. "I--of course I didn't mean… Just--can't you understand there need to be…boundaries?"


"You--!" Onodera started sharply, thrusting a finger into his face, before remembering whose face it was and quickly schooling his features, evidently horrified with himself for getting out of line. "I--I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…"



Masamune settled back against the counter, glancing past Onodera to ensure that Haru-chan was still occupied--she was trying to feed part of her omelet to her stuffed rabbit now. "I asked why you were apologizing." Onodera opened and closed his mouth a few times, clearly at a loss for words. "This is your apartment; I'm the one barging in making myself comfortable. If you want fucking boundaries, set them." He sniffed haughtily. "Otherwise I'm going to keep trying to make you mine."

And now the flush was one of irritation. "I'm--trying to set boundaries, but you clearly insist on ignoring those efforts--"

Masamune leaned forward until their noses nearly brushed. "Then deal with it. I made you breakfast, and it's damn good. Enjoy it." He thrust a plate into Onodera's hands.

"It's not… A boss isn't supposed to just make his subordinates omelets…"

"Pretty sure he's also not supposed to--" He cut himself off at Onodera's sharp look. "But we do it anyways. When are you going to stop acting like your job is on the line if you don't put out for me?"

"Eh--I never--" But the words fell away in his throat as he stammered to organize his thoughts. "I didn't…I mean, I don't think I…" He scratched his head with one hand, clutching the plate to his chest with the other. "…Is that what I do?"

"I dunno. Is it?"

Onodera swallowed, tracing the designs running along the edge of the plate with one finger. "…Maybe." And that kind of hurt. "I don't mean to, it just…I guess I'm not used to it." He grimaced. "And if something were to go wrong--"

"Then don't let anything go wrong."

"That's easier said than done," Onodera reminded darkly, and Masamune was reminded how easily their relationship had fallen apart last time, blown to bits in the wake of an ill-timed snicker. Were they really that weak?

He inhaled sharply--then reached a hand out to steady Onodera's jaw before gently brushing their lips together, sucking lightly on the bottom lip to turn it into a proper kiss and releasing him before he could regain his senses.

"Eew!" came the shrieked giggle from the table, and both Masamune and Onodera snapped their gazes over to find Haru-chan with her eyes covered, clearly scandalized as she peeked through. "You'll get cooties, Daddy!"

Onodera immediately shoved Masamune away, scrambling back and over to Haru-chan in an attempt to explain away the kiss, but Masamune distracted himself instead with retrieving a new plate and arranging Onodera's omelet on it, streaking the surface with a generous helping of ketchup before returning to the table and placing Onodera's portion at the seat opposite Masamune's, next to Haru-chan. He turned a smile to the little girl, reassuring her, "I've had all my shots; I'm quite sure your Papa will be fine."

The look Onodera gave him could have cut glass, but Haru-chan was oblivious. "But what if he gives them to you?"

"Hmm, that could be troublesome."


"You can't make Takassan sick, Daddy! You should apologize!"

"Eh?!" Onodera glanced between the two, flabbergasted at the gall. "But--he was the one to--" He then grit his teeth and snatched up a napkin, hastily wiping his mouth. "There. All better."

"Mmm, for now," Masamune allowed, then added sotto voce to Haru-chan as an aside, "Best not let him kiss you good-night this evening, just in case. I hear these things run their course in twenty-four hours."

"Don't fill her mind with rubbish," Onodera groused, casting about for silverware and ducking his thanks when Masamune passed him a clean fork and knife. "I don't want it coming up with her mother and then me having to explain it away."

"Pretty sure she knows about us," Masamune reminded, lazily pouring a glass of orange juice and sliding it towards Onodera; one way or another, the guy was going to eat Masamune's breakfast, whether he wanted to or not.

"Knows what?" Haru-chan piped up, eyes bright as she kicked her legs under the table.

"Knows that you're supposed to brush your teeth after breakfast," Masamune saved smoothly, waving his hand towards the hallway. "Get to it."

"Yessir…" she responded robotically, slipping from her chair and padding away, stuffed bunny in tow.

Onodera watched her go, fondly, before turning his sharp gaze back to Masamune. "I told you I didn't want to do that kind of thing in front of her."

"Must've slipped my mind."

Onodera was clearly not amused, though, desperation entering his voice. "I'm serious; I don't want to confuse her. She's too young to really understand…"

And Masamune wasn't entirely sure he was old enough to understand either, for Onodera's attitude continued to confuse and confound. Feeling the fight drain away, he wiped a hand over his face. "…Right, yeah. Of course." He glanced around, eager for a distraction, and focused on Haru-chan's empty plate, reaching across to busy himself with the post-meal cleanup while Onodera finished his omelet--but a hand at his arm stopped him.

Onodera eased up into an awkward squatting stance, one hand at the edge of the table for balance, the other braced along Masamune's bicep, as he lifted up to press their lips together properly, hand sliding up to settle at the base of his neck. Masamune immediately gave in to the kiss, too desperate for the contact to question where it was coming from or the emotion behind it, and settled down into a squat, putting himself below Onodera so that he had to tilt his head up into the kiss. He let his jaw drop open--and Onodera darted his tongue in, quickly pulling back with a soft smack before things escalated.

The corner's of Masamune's lips quirked up as he breathily commented, "…You taste like ketchup."

"Asshole." And his eyes went wide for a moment, like he wanted to apologize for the unthinking snapped insult, but he held his tongue, and Masamune just laughed one loud bark, pressed a kiss to his cheek, then stood up to clear the table properly.

He could get used to mornings like this.

Chapter Text

Chiaki sighed, mouthing an expletive to himself as he attacked the panel before him with his eraser, rubbing out his third attempt at a face in the past 20 minutes, his failure flitting away in a shower of filings that he angrily brushed off to fall by the wayside.

"Oi--!" came an irritated protest from beside him, and Yuu twisted around from where he sat on the floor, back to the couch, glaring back at Chiaki and brushing eraser filings from his hair and shoulder. "A little warning?"

Chiaki colored, penitent, and reached down to help brush away the dust. "Sorry--was…kinda lost in thought."

Yuu's frown was unmoved, but he cast a glance at Chiaki's sketchbook in concern. "Still on the same panel from earlier?" A nod. "What's wrong?"

Chiaki sighed again in disappointment. The sketchbook in Yuu's lap was teeming with backgrounds and scenery, even a few climactic character-driven scenes Chiaki had entrusted him with taking up several of the later pages--Yuu's hard work was sitting there like an eyesore, practically taunting Chiaki and reminding him that he'd been working on this segment for three days now to no avail. His concentration was shot, and all his desperate efforts to rein his talents back in again were proving fruitless.

Artist's block, he reminded himself bitterly. It figured.

At least it had hit here in the planning phases while he still had time to pace himself, let himself relax, let the ideas and visuals flow in, just ignore the niggling little reminder in the back of his head (that sounded strangely like Tori, annoyingly enough) ragging on him to get to work, put out a product, meet the deadlines and be a responsible adult.

He felt his sketchbook slip from his hands as Yuu gently pulled it close to himself to inspect the damage, practically pouting as he studied his friend's features, waiting for the verdict. "I just can't get the angle right; each try winds up looking crappier than the one before. I might have to scrap the scene altogether."

Yuu's head whirled around, brows furrowed. "But--you wouldn't shut up about this scene last week. You told me it was perfect--"

"Perfect in my head clearly isn't translating to perfect on the page," Chiaki groused, settling further back against the couch where he was stretched out longways. He crossed his arms and rolled over onto his side, pillowing his head on a cushion. "It'll be better than putting out nothing at all."

Sound reasoning though it might have been, Yuu didn't seem too convinced. "Well, still…" He turned around full, crossing his own arms and leaning forward to rest his chin across them; Chiaki's mood seemed to be catching. "Just seems like such a waste of a good idea…"

Reluctantly, the corner of Chiaki's mouth quirked up in amusement; Yuu seemed even more put out by the idea than Chiaki himself. It made his stomach feel light and something draw tight in his chest whenever Yuu reminded him, purposefully or otherwise, that anything Chiaki touched was as good as gold in his eyes. He recalled distantly of Yuu whispering like a secret that he'd fallen in love with Chiaki's hands, his art, before anything else--and Chiaki wondered silently if Yuu took his art block as some sort of personal affront, an assault on his own happiness and well-being as much as on Chiaki's paycheck.

He reached out unthinkingly with one hand, fingers gently threading through the bits of Yuu's hair he could reach, and he huffed a soft laugh when Yuu bent into the touch like a cat trying to present the bits it wanted scratched most. Something twigged in his mind, though--and he shifted into a seated position, frowning as he took Yuu's chin in both hands and forced his head from one side to the other, carefully inspecting the line of his jaw and facial proportions.

"Ch'ki?" Yuu mumbled, finding it difficult to enunciate with Chiaki kneading his cheeks as he was. "Wha's wr'n?"

Chiaki released him like he'd been shocked and snatched back his sketch pad, cheeks flushed with excitement as he bopped Yuu on the head lightly and gestured to the other edge of the couch. "Hop up."

"Eh?" But his body was already moving on its own, trained to follow Chiaki's every command. "What're you--"

"Let me draw you," he demanded, pulling his legs in before him and getting comfortable. "I want to use you as a model."

Yuu raised a brow at this, clearly not on board with what Chiaki thought was a very sound idea, but he settled in as instructed. "…But I don't look anything like--" He cut himself off at Chiaki's glance, shaking his head and brushing his hair from his eyes. "Well, how do you want me?"

It was a strange turnabout; usually Yuu was the one demanding Chiaki model for him--his hands while he was drawing, bare legs peeking out of pajama half-pants, semi-nudes when the spring temperatures during the day on the weekends ratcheted up enough to convince him to doff his shirt (Yuu hadn't managed to wrangle a nude out of him just yet--but time would tell). And here now he was nervously settling into a pose that he hoped suited Chiaki's tastes; it was less than romantic, though, given that he was just standing in for a manga character.

"Just--however. Make sure you keep looking at me, though. The face is what keeps tripping me up…" He brought his pad up and stared ahead at Yuu, studying him silently for a few long moments before setting to work, the only sound stretching between them the soft scritch-scritch of Chiaki's pencil as he etched long lines across the crisp white page.

Yuu distracted himself from the awkward feel of being watched by studying Chiaki's own features, sketching an image in his head as clearly as if he had his book in front of him. A soft sweeping downstroke for the jaw, a delicate upsweep to the tip of his nose, dark, rough shading for that shock of brown hair with strands falling into big blue eyes--just like the ones that were staring at him so intently right now, brows furrowing over them and casting them into irritated shadow. "Stop that."


"You're--smiling," Chiaki huffed, annoyance thick in his voice, and he angrily rubbed out an erroneous stroke of his pencil, studying the plump curve to Yuu's lip as he repaired the damage. "It's hard to draw a facial portrait when you're making weird expressions all the time."

"Sorry--was distracted." Chiaki hmphed to demonstrate his acceptance of the apology. "Just getting a little turned on having you stare at me like this."

And Chiaki nearly dropped his pencil, scrambling to catch the implement before it clattered to the floor. There was probably a big smudged black line right through the middle of the portrait now--a thought that did nothing to quash the grin still tugging at Yuu's lips. "You--!" he started, then seemed to falter for words, eventually deciding on, "Pervert," ground out through clenched teeth as he struggled to undo the damage to his portrait.

Yuu just settled back, supporting himself on his hands, and snorted inelegantly. "Nothing perverted about liking attention from the guy I'm in love with." Granted, Yuu understood deep down that the comment had likely been mere reflex on Chiaki's part; while he might have grown to appreciate, even enjoy the physical aspect of their relationship, it was clear he still deemed it something of a 'necessary evil' of sorts, the icky bits of sexuality testing his orientation, challenging his ideas of who it was and wasn't all right to be in a relationship with. Theirs had been a test initially, dipping a toe in the test the waters before diving in, and Chiaki still paddled along with his head above the surface, comically navigating their relationship with all of his honest efforts yet complete lack of finesse.

Chiaki maneuvered his sketchbook to half-hide his face, furiously rubbing his eraser over the marks marring the portrait. "Well, no, but--I'm working right now. And you're being an asshole by making comments like that."

Yuu raised a brow, leaning forward again and cocking his head as he crossed his arms over his chest. "You're obviously not doing the whole 'working' thing successfully if you need me to pose for a character you've been drawing for the past three years." He ducked his head down, trying to get Chiaki to meet his eyeline, quirking his lips into a crooked smile. "Maybe you're just horny."

Chiaki must have steeled himself for such commentary, for he didn't flinch this time, just laughed dryly and returned, "Not every case of writer's block is because I haven't gotten laid in a while."

"Five days."


And now Yuu had rolled forward onto his knees, slinking across the cushions. "Unless you and Hatori have been doing it behind my back, you haven't gotten any in five days." He smiled, pleased with himself. "I've been counting."

Chiaki rolled his eyes and settled back against the arm of the couch, putting as much space between them as possible; it couldn't be this easy. "Of course you've been counting…" he remarked, almost bitterly. "So in other words the reason you're acting like this, making all these dirty jokes--is because you haven't gotten any?"

Yuu's smile turned wicked, and he pulled the sketchpad from Chiaki's grasp. "Maybe; or maybe I've been getting it from one of my many, many lovers on the side."

Chiaki had the nerve to snort incredulously, letting his pencil drop to the floor. "I could believe a lot of things from you, but that you'd two-time me isn't one of them."

"Aren't we full of ourselves? Thinking you're enough to satisfy my obviously sizable libido…" He'd worked his way up into Chiaki's lap now, their noses nearly touching and breath washing hot over their skin with each exhalation. "Good thing your trust is well-founded, Sensei." He punctuated the compliment with an open-mouthed kiss, coaxing the lips beneath his to open and accept him.

Chiaki braced his hands against Yuu's sides, fingers brushing feather-light over bare skin under the light tank top he'd donned, and Yuu's breath hitched as he breathed out softly against Chiaki's lips, "That tickles…" Chiaki frowned at him, silently chiding him for breaking the mood, and Yuu apologized with another lengthy kiss as his fingers deftly worked at the fastenings to Chiaki's pants.

"Wait--we can't--"

"Sure we can," Yuu assured him as he pressed a series of small pecks along the length of Chiaki's neck, leaving a particularly prominent love bite at the crook where his shoulder began. "Use your imagination."

But Chiaki shifted his hands to press, palms spread, against Yuu's chest to leave some space between them. "We're not--doing it on my couch."

Yuu gasped softly in mock horror, face going slack. "Oh god Chiaki, did you think we were going to have sex? I'm--" He gave a rough oof when Chiaki shoved him hard against one shoulder, "--just appalled you'd even think--oww dammit." He managed to bring both hands back up to steady Chiaki beneath him at the biceps, pinning him down against the couch with his head pillowed on a small cushion. Straddling, he enjoyed the view for a heartbeat before chortling with a roll of his hips, "Feisty." Chiaki struggled with minimal effort, mostly for show, and lifted one knee to keep Yuu from trying such dirty tactics again. Yuu mustered up a frown, sighing, "Fine then. I suppose if sex is off the table--"

"I never said sex was off the table," Chiaki snapped quickly--and if Yuu wasn't mistaken, almost desperately--before biting his own tongue and glancing away, clearly a victim of his mouth saying things without express permission from his brain. A deep flush stained his cheeks and ears, and Yuu could tell he was trying to sink into the cushions.

Gently settling onto his hips, Yuu snorted affectionately, shaking his head in abject awe as he ran his fingers through Chiaki's hair in much the same fashion Chiaki had done to him earlier; he could appreciate the urge now. "...You’re really fucking cute sometimes, you know?"

"That wasn't--" he started in response, before changing tacks to, "…You find the stupidest things about me cute. I don't get you."

Yuu just shrugged, unapologetic. "Stop being cute and I'll stop making note of it."

"You're really killing the mood," was the sour retort, and Chiaki let his knee drop down in surrender, giving Yuu leeway to slide backwards until he found himself positioned over Chiaki's abdomen. "…You'd better not make a mess; I like this couch."

"I'll have to be extra careful then, won't I?" Chiaki rolled his eyes and glanced away, some prudish sense of propriety likely driving him to do so, but Yuu didn't miss the way his gaze flickered back periodically to watch Yuu as he lowered his mouth to the where he'd tugged down the zip to get at Chiaki's underwear beneath. He mouthed the outline of Chiaki's still-limp cock, laying soft butterfly kisses along its length to rouse it to hardness.

Moments like these, the still silences before everything exploded into desperate gasps and bitten back pleas and labored breathing with fingers fisted in sheets or clothes or hair, were the best. These were the moments where Chiaki was still himself, still that kind of ditzy guy he'd fallen hopelessly in love with, but with an added layer of arousal, desire--desire for Yuu. They were still friends, but this…this was just a whole different level of feeling.

He flicked his gaze up and found Chiaki staring down at him, eyes half-lidded and jaw hanging open slightly, expression unreadable but clearly masking some deeper emotion. It was as good an invitation as any.

He tugged down the elastic hem and gently palmed the shaft, enjoying its warm weight in his palm as he freed it from its confines. Chiaki spread his knees a bit more, easing his hips closer, and Yuu smiled at the honest, earnest request that Chiaki never could've voiced, laving his tongue from stem to stern in response.

This had been the first thing he'd ever done for Chiaki; back when he'd only been allowed the odd kiss now and then, when Chiaki still hadn't been sure what to call him (not that he was all that sure what to call their relationship now)--he'd let Yuu do this, and selfish though it might have been on Chiaki's part (there was little denying that hormones had been in play), Yuu still appreciated it. Chiaki could ignore lingering touches, could reason away kisses, but this--this made him sit up and take notice and think about why Yuu would want to do these sorts of things with him when he could easily have his pick of men and women.

He took his time, lazily lapping at the tip before taking the head full in his mouth and working his way down as far as he could stand, drawing back up slowly and applying pressure he knew would be appreciated. His reward was Chiaki's fingers in his hair, decidedly less gentle and fondly threading through his locks than before. Truth be told, it was a bit painful, but Yuu kind of liked the reminder, and his blood thrummed hotter in his veins at Chiaki's voiceless abandon, his breath coming out in labored huffs and high, soft keening grunts to urge Yuu on.

He sucked particularly sharply at the crown, and Chiaki's hips bucked upward as he scrabbled for purchase against the couch. "Sh--it, Yuu…" he warned, eyes wild, and he brushed his hair from his face desperately. "That's…"

Yuu lived for moments like this, when he had Chiaki hard and wanting beneath him, eager for nothing more than for Yuu--Yuu and no one else--to bring him off. To touch him, suck him, fuck him--whatever it took, until the energy building up inside was released, cresting and washing over. The way Chiaki spoke his name at times like this…it made everything he'd had to go through worth it a thousand times over, and he wondered if Chiaki even realized it. He would die a happy man if that was the last thing he ever heard. Words were meaningless; it was the emotion behind them that mattered, and every time he choked out Yuu like this, he could hear all of the confessions held back by pride or propriety or missed opportunity or simple slips of the mind, a cascade of feelings washing over him, sweeter and richer than any orgasm.

He shifted on the couch, letting one leg dangle off as he returned to his task with zeal, slick hand working the shaft feverishly to bring Chiaki to the brink. Chiaki fidgeted beneath him, hips trembling with potential energy waiting to be released, and distantly Yuu could hear him chanting his name like a mantra--until it crested into a warning, "Yuu--Yuu, don't; I'm gonna--"

But Yuu ignored him, sliding down further to take as much of Chiaki in as he could comfortable stomach. He brushed fingers lightly against his sack, teasing the thin, sensitive skin to coax Chiaki's release more directly--but Chiaki pulled away, drawing his hips back and arching up.

"I said--let go--" His face was desperate--not angry. "I don't want--I'm not going to kiss you if you--ngh!"

And Yuu was up and off his cock in a flash like he'd been shocked--but too little, too late, as Chiaki's hips shook in his grasp and his cock bobbed sharply before releasing a short jet of semen, a dollop landing squarely on Yuu's cheek before sliding down to his jawline towards his chin, where it dripped back onto the thick material of Chiaki's pants while the rest dribbled down the shaft. Yuu silently assessed the damage while Chiaki looked on in abject horror, casting about for something, anything to wipe it off with.

Yuu ignored the irritation for the moment, though, and eased up onto his knees, sidling forward until he was at eye-level with Chiaki again. "I didn't swallow." Like Chiaki couldn't see the evidence on his cheek.

Chiaki pursed his lips, annoyed. "If you'd lifted off when I told you to--"

"If you'd let me suck you like I wanted to," Yuu countered. "It's nothing worse than spit; you've tasted it--"

"Shut up," Chiaki ordered, irritated, and grabbed Yuu by the collar to tug him forward, mouth opening wide and deep as he ratcheted the kiss up a few notches from the start. His free hand fumbled clumsily at the hem of Yuu's pants, and Yuu smiled into the kiss, gently guiding his hand to where his cock strained against the thin material of his pants. He was painfully hard by now, and even the tentative brushes as Chiaki searched for a way inside had him worried he was going to spill before the guy had even touched him properly.

He focused his energies on the kiss, though, and managed to restrain himself until, after what felt like ages, Chiaki finally wrapped his calloused fingers around Yuu's shaft, thumb swiping at the liquid leaking from the crown to ease the way. When he'd worked up a tantric rhythm, Yuu ground out, "You know I love this and all, but I'd really like to…"

He trailed off, and between kisses, Chiaki huffed his response: "Then do it." And he halted his strokes, bracing his arm and creating a stiff, stable channel with his fingers.

Yuu pulled back, questioning, and shifted his hips slightly with the maneuver, pulling his cock out slightly. When Chiaki didn't follow, he shifted again, and gave a shuddering gasp at the sensation--almost as good as getting sucked off, but with all the reward that came with fucking properly. He pulled out again, shallower this time, then thrust forward with more of a punching action, lips quirking when he finally twigged to what Chiaki was letting him do.

"I'm serious about my couch," was the warning, but Yuu was lost now, forehead pressed to Chiaki's as he struggled to gaze down between them at his hips pistoning frantically into Chiaki's slick, tight grasp. Why the sight should be turning him on more than the actual activity was beyond him, but Chiaki's breath was hot against his own flushed skin, and the scent of sex between them and Chiaki's release still sliding down his chin was too overwhelming. He came with a crying shudder, body stiffening sharply as he spurted over Chiaki's hand--sending one thin line of milky liquid flying wild off the side of the couch.

"Shit--!" Chiaki cursed, mood broken even as Yuu struggled to regain his senses, and he wriggled off to the side to inspect the damage. "Shit," he repeated, more forlornly now, and Yuu spared him a withering glare at being ignored so soon after a rather enjoyable orgasm.

He reached his clean hand down beside the couch, gingerly lifting up the sketchbook, and groaned in disappointment. "It's ruined…" And indeed, there was a dark wet spot staining the portrait Chiaki had been working on before Yuu had diverted his attentions to more enjoyable ventures.

Yuu watched him, sizing up the damage, and reached to take the sketchpad himself, raking a gaze over it before flipping it around to display against his own face for comparison. "Look," he chirped, gesturing between the portrait and himself and being sure to indicate the line of semen already drying on his skin. "Art imitates life."

Chiaki hastily snatched back the book and snapped it shut, setting it on the low table beside the couch. "If we get up and I find anything on this couch…"

When he trailed off, Yuu leaned forward, ignoring Chiaki's grimace of pain as he settled himself comfortably across his chest. "…You'll insist we take it to your bedroom next time?"

Chiaki snorted, still reeling from his orgasm and not in the mood to argue just yet. Yuu seemed satisfied with this turn and let himself relax against Chiaki's chest, closing his eyes and listening to the soft thrumming of his heart, still racing. "…If I hadn't brought anything up…"

"Hm?" His eyes were closed, and he was admittedly only distantly paying attention.

"If I hadn't said anything earlier…what would you have done?"

Yuu's brows furrowed; Chiaki sure could ruin a post-coital cuddle session. "Earlier?" He lifted his head up, blinking slowly. "Ah." He shrugged as best he could from his position. "I dunno. Suffered in silence I guess."

But Chiaki's expression turned from curious to disappointed, annoyance and irritation vying for exposure just under the surface. "…Don't do that."

"Eh?" The temperature seemed to drop with the chill in his voice; Yuu had been more or less facetious in his response, but perhaps he'd been a bit flippant. "What're you…"

Chiaki reached up with his clean hand, threading his fingers through Yuu's hair again, just like before, and he seemed almost sad. "Don't do that. It's not fair for you to have to wait for me…if you want something. I don't mind, so--say so."

Yuu's heart did a little flip in his ribcage, and he could feel his cock already gearing up to execute similar maneuvers. He laughed, a bit self-deprecatingly. "That's probably not the best of ideas."


He leaned forward to press their lips together, a slow, languid kiss steeped in emotion. "I always want something from you."

Even from this angle, he could see Chiaki roll his eyes. "…I reiterate. Pervert."

"Mmm, your fault." He shifted into a more comfortable angle, heaving Chiaki upright and smiling when he was rewarded with two arms wrapping around his neck. "So take responsibility." Which Chiaki then proceeded to do, with vigor.

Chapter Text

Ritsu almost missed the laughter in between Masamune's harried, breathless gasps. He frowned up and over Masamune's chest, licking his chapped lips and massaging his jaw as he worked to settle himself between Masamune's thighs, wondering how long he was going to have to wait for the guy to get back in the mood so that he could take care of his own pleasure, thighs twitching where he sat in seiza as if to remind him that of the two cocks involved in this relationship, only one had just been properly serviced.

"What?" he rasped, coughing to clear his throat and wincing at the aftertaste still present on his tongue. "Was my technique that crappy?" He'd meant it as a bit of dry humor, but given that Masamune's chuckles had escalated now to outright giggles, leaving him even more breathless, he was starting to grow a bit irritated with what was ostensibly commentary on what he felt had been rather fantastic fellatio (if the way Masamune had nearly ripped his hair out was anything to go by).

Masamune just shook his head, shaking the bed with the motion, and buried his fingers into Ritsu's hair again, sliding them through to rest at the base of his skull and direct his attentions forward while he recovered. "…It's just funny, is all."

Ritsu raised a brow, dubious. "Blowjobs…?"

And he snorted again, but continued to shake his head. "Well--fine, I suppose those are kind of funny in their own way."

Ritsu settled back onto his rear, crossing his legs so that his cock stood out prominently, upright and hard against his stomach. "As you can see, I'm bowled over with laughter."

The snort that followed this time was much more elegant, a quiet amusement as Masamune recovered his senses, and he quickly shifted around up onto his knees to shuffle forward and walk Ritsu down onto his back. "I sense some tension in you, Onodera-san."

"Aren't you perceptive--?" he started, gasping on the end of the quip when Masamune wrapped fingers slick with sweat and saliva around Ritsu's cock, giving it a few suggestive strokes to calm him. "That's--good."

"So I gathered." And he continued slowly, lazily stroking, root to tip with no real inclination to ratchet things up another notch, just staring and watching Ritsu come undone before him. "I was thinking…"

Ritsu coughed out a laugh. "Thinking? Obviously I--wasn't doing a good enough job, then."

He swiped a finger over the tip, loosening his grip momentarily when Ritsu seized up beneath him; he wanted to draw this out just a little more. "It was about you, if it helps." Ritsu had no retorts for this, and Masamune continued. "Just thought it was kind of amazing…"

"What--was?" Ritsu squirmed on the bed, fisting his hands in the sheets and settling into monosyllabic conversation.

"That I fell in love with you. Twice."

And Ritsu froze in place, scrambling up onto his elbows after a silent beat, all but gaping. "Huh--?"

Masamune snorted, releasing his cock to slither over the body beneath him, endless lines of smooth muscle, dark and shadow interplaying with the light streaming in from the living room. He dipped his hips as he brought himself up to face Ritsu, brushing his half-hard cock against Ritsu's own. "I didn't have a clue who you were, you know? And you still got me." He nuzzled Ritsu's cheek, whispering the confession against his flushed skin. "Maybe I'm just acutely tuned to you."

Ritsu gasped softly at the contact, voice still raspy and raw from his earlier activities, but he retained the presence of mind to understand that this wasn't just some idle observation, that Masamune wasn't just teasing here--wasn't really amused so much as in awe. He turned his head to the side, focusing on the far wall because everything in front of him at the moment was too much to handle. "It's--the same for me, you know…"

Masamune chuckled, but more for simply humoring him. "So what, you were already falling for me? Even before…?"

"No," Ritsu snorted derisively--a bit too quickly for either of their comforts, and he quickly added, "I meant more that…I thought it was amazing, too."

"Hmm," Masamune mused calmly, kissing the skin below his ear as he executed a few, slow mock-thrusts against Ritsu, hardening noticeably with each pass. "How's that?"

Ritsu had to swallow thickly, closing his eyes to keep from coming. "Even--though I knew who you were…"


"Even still…I couldn't help it."

"Should I apologize?"

"Fuck--" Ritsu's fingers dug into Masamune's biceps, leaving little white half-moon indentations that would likely still be there in the morning, and he chanced a glance down between them, marveling at the sight of their bodies moving together. His mouth cocked up into a grin when Masamune dipped his head down to bring their foreheads together, forcing their gazes to meet. "Sempai…"

A snort. "What was that for?"

Ritsu tugged him close enough for a kiss. "Just wanted to see how it sounded…" He punctuated the explanation with a soft, languid kiss, bracing his legs against the bed as he clenched his abdominals to thrust up in time with Masamune's own downward strokes. In short order, they'd achieved a kind of give and take rhythm that had them both breathing hard against one another, voices tense and ragged as they murmured their impending orgasms into the still quiet of the bedroom, both shuddering visibly and grunting their release as they peaked.

Ritsu flopped back down flat against the bed, and Masamune narrowly missed crushing him as he rolled off to the side on his back as well. They lay staring up at the ceiling for several long moments, the only sounds in the room their ragged breathing as they struggled to regain their breath.

Ritsu was the first to speak: "That was completely unfair, just so you know."


He cocked his head to the side, squinting to make out his bedmate in the low light. "You got to come twice; I only got to once."

He didn't need to be able to see clearly to know Masamune was rolling his eyes. "Dear me, how ever will we resolve this discrepancy?"

Ritsu snorted soft and scooted closer until their sides were pressed up against one another, and unbidden, Masamune took up one of this hands in his own, studying the fingers in the dark like a blind man. Ritsu turned his head and leaned his forehead into Masamune's shoulder, breathing in sharply. "Saga-sempai…"

"…Again with that name…"

"Well, it's yours, isn't it?"

Masamune dropped his hand, feigning an interest in settling them beneath his head for comfort, and Ritsu's amusement cooled as he sensed he'd touched a nerve. "Maybe the honorific. Not the name."

Ritsu frowned, then stretched one arm over Masamune's chest and settled his head on his shoulder, shivering subtly now that the heat was leaving the room. "…Then it's fine alone, right?" He added for clarification. "Sempai." When no response either way came, he continued, "…I don't think I ever thought I'd be able to say it again…so I kind of wanted to--"

But before the words had even died away in the still air of the bedroom, Masamune had jumped up and twisted his body over, straddling Ritsu again--but just barely touching, careful not to smother or cover, just to lean over him and bring their faces close, muttering softly, "Then say it."


"Again," he urged, adding, "Ritsu…"

Ritsu stretched his arms up to embrace him properly, pulling him close, their bodies flush together--the semen caking their bellies mingled in a sticky mess that would require some work to clean up, but that was to be addressed later. "Sempai," he repeated, letting his mind wander back to one of those heady afternoons, the room steeped in warm sunlight and the overpowering scent of sex and youth and vigor as each had struggled to come to grips with his respective reality--that he was doing this with the person he'd loved from afar for so long, that the person he was doing this with was someone he'd fallen in love with.

Masamune was right--it was amazing. Amazing what routes fate took to bring two people together, what trials and tribulations they had to face before finally being allowed to find their way back together. How some things never changed, how Masamune was irrevocably drawn to Ritsu no matter his name or station, how Ritsu was helplessly enthralled with Masamune no matter what had happened between them--it was nigh indescribable, the way the universe worked sometimes.

So, gift horses being what they were, Ritsu stopped trying to understand it and gave himself up to sheer appreciation.

Chapter Text

"Our daughter's talking to a boy," Masamune groused, settling down onto the patch of grass Ritsu had secured for the final fireworks display and holding his bottle of ramune to his forehead with one hand while he passed the other into Ritsu's waiting grasp. "He's tall; I don't like him."

"Perfectly reasonable grounds to dislike someone on, you're quite right, Takano-san," Ritsu drawled flatly, taking a drag on his soda and wishing it were something stronger; it just wasn't a proper festival if you weren't halfway to drunk by the time the day ended. Given that the years had done little to temper his lightweight tendencies, though, he supposed it was for the best; there was always the six-pack chilling in the fridge at home. "And she's only our daughter when she's doing something you don't approve of, have you noticed this?"


"She's suddenly all mine again when you think she's studying too hard--for a career path you put her on to, I'll remind you--and An-chan's for some reason when you think she's spent too much at the 109."

Masamune clinked their bottles together with a wry smile. "I mean that as a compliment, of course. Your wife is always a vision when she graces us with her presence."

"Ex-wife," Ritsu's mouth formed reflexively, and he smiled in spite of himself at the long-running joke, drawing his legs up to his chest as a loudspeaker blared in the distance, alerting festival-goers that the fireworks display was about to begin.

Masamune's gaze remained firmly fixed on Haru-chan, her flashy fuchsia yukata still an eye catch in the dying evening light. Ritsu ribbed him gently, "Glaring at her won't make her come slinking back over here any faster, Takassan."

He pursed his lips. "Don't call me that; it creeps me out when you do it."

"I'll have to remember that one."

"I'll have to remember to…" He frowned to himself as he reconsidered his quip. "…Damn. It fucking sucks not being your boss anymore, you know. I can't ever load off work on you as punishment when you get fresh."

"How very unfortunate for you, Takassan." Masamune reached around, pinching through the thick yukata fabric until Ritsu yelped, nearly spilling their drinks on one another and earning them a few stares from the families situated around them. "Cut it--out, asshole," he ground out, voice taking on the familiar pinched tone Ritsu adopted when Masamune was treading on dangerous ground.

"How you manage to make asshole sound like an endearment, I'll never know."

"It's your imagination," Ritsu grumbled, glancing around for wet spots to be sure he hadn't soiled himself with the ramune in their tussle. "And I have enough on my plate without you adding to the pile, thank you very much." He hunched his shoulders and eyed Masamune in his peripheral vision. "Someone made being Editor-in-Chief look like a breeze; think of that as your way of making my life more difficult than it should be."

Masamune knocked shoulders with him, gaze drifting once again to Haru-chan, who seemed to be making her farewells to the group of friends she'd found--her left hand was resting on the arm of the boy nearest to her, their heads inclined far too close for either of their liking. "I never gave you more than you could handle, you know."

Ritsu sighed, years of suffering Masamune his quirks evident in the labored release, and he leaned to the side just enough to brush their arms, fingers finding fingers in the grass between them. "It took a while to realize…but yeah, I know."

Before Masamune could say something that would have likely ruined the moment--he always did when he got that look in his eye--they were saved the trouble with Haru-chan's timely return as she plopped herself down squarely between them, huffing and red-cheeked from the jog over. "Scoot!" she instructed sharply, and Ritsu scrambled to comply, eliciting a fond snort from Masamune. In apology, Haru-chan looped one arm each snugly around those nearest to her, drawing the trio close as she kicked off her geta and relished the sensation of the cool grass between her bare toes. "Don't think I didn't see you staring at me, Takassan."

Her tone was sharp, but the smile she turned on him was familiar and teasing; she had her mother's sense of humor--that much had grown obvious over the years. Masamune straightened up, feigning interest in a sweet potato vendor a few pallets away hawking his wares. "Nonsense. I was simply admiring your yukata."

She bit her lip in an effort to keep her smile from growing wider, ears and cheeks pinking prettily as she brushed down the fabric; age had not tempered the effect Masamune's compliments had on her. "Don't think sweet-talking will always get you out of trouble," she warned after a moment, releasing her hold and poking his bicep. When he lifted his brows in a manner innocently, she broke and snorted inelegantly, leaning into his side and pulling Ritsu closer at once. "You're as bad as Daddy sometimes--" She ignored Ritsu's annoyed squawk, "--honestly, I'm fifteen, nearly woman grown." She tossed her head back, setting the delicate curls she'd worked to achieve bouncing with the movement, and affected a sultry pose, batting her lashes. "I can take care of myself."

Ritsu rolled his eyes at the display, and Masamune snorted derisively, leaning forward and quirking a brow for Ritsu's amusement. "Fifteen is rather grown up, I will admit. Why don't you ask your old man what he was doing at fifteen, Haru-chan?" Ritsu immediately stiffened, mouth going dry, and the mouthed Hell no before Haru-chan whipped her gaze around, her own brows lifted in interest. Behind her, Masamune leaned forward and clapped her by the shoulders, whispering in her ear, "Stay away from libraries, young lady."

She shrugged him off, rolling one shoulder in annoyance, and frowned. "What's he mean, Daddy?"

"Absolutely nothing," Ritsu ground out, shooting Masamune a sharp look, and they were blessedly saved from further explanation by a loud, piercing scream followed by a crackling boom as the fireworks display started up. The field around them was shortly filled with a chorus of oohs and aahs, and Haru-chan settled down onto her back, head supported in her hands as she stared up at the heavens.

Masamune drew one leg up, leaning forward and resting one arm on his knee. "You're sure you wouldn't rather be out with your lit cronies?"

Ritsu kept his gaze turned skyward but smiled softly at the good-natured teasing; their career 'break-up' had been a sore spot for months despite both protesting that they were 'completely fine with it', but shoujo manga, they both knew, was never going to be Ritsu's home--just as Masamune was never going to be able to extricate himself from Emerald, and while it had been rough, navigating each other's lives now that they weren't underfoot with one another throughout the work day...the resulting freedom, the lifting of barriers they hadn't even realized had still been in place, had been liberating.

In time, Ritsu had worked his way up the ladder again, as he'd always known he would--and as Masamune had, ostensibly grudgingly, always hoped he'd eventually be able to--until he'd found himself seated snugly at the top, finally in the coveted editor-in-chief's chair he'd vowed he'd one day hold (and who was going to quibble with details like you didn't steal this one from Takano-san though?). More welcome than the reward of being at last right where he'd always wanted to be career-wise, though, had been the last barrier between them breaking down, ingrained apprehension fading when it dawned, slowly but surely, that there was no Takano-san, not out of deference anymore, at least, and Ritsu was no longer a snapped, harsh Onodera--just mutual coworkers, just the person each was in love with, the person they'd spent years beside now, shared meals with, spent holidays--birthdays, anniversaries--with, Haru-chan's well-meaning but protective father, a next-door-neighbor whom Haru-chan still stubbornly called Takassan despite having known his proper name for some time now. Just Ritsu and Masamune--and it was a little scary in its own way, sure, but Ritsu kind of appreciated the bump, the push closer that reminded him he still put up defenses, still hadn't let the guy be Masamune, himself and nothing more.

Something poked him in the arm, and he jerked to attention. Masamune inclined his head, and Ritsu noticed Haru-chan's lids fluttering, eyes closed despite the location and buzzing crowd around them. "Takes after her father; she can sleep anywhere."

Ritsu reached over to slap him on the shoulder, but Masamune caught his hand, quickly lacing their fingers together and settling down next to Haru-chan with their hands linked. Forced to comply or risk twisting something, Ritsu mirrored his movements and stared up at the sky, blazing and twinkling in colors beyond description. Long ago, he'd dreamed of lying here like this with Saga-sempai some day. Certainly, this hadn't been the way he'd imagined it might come to pass, but he supposed it would do for now.

Haru-chan mumbled something, too soft to catch, and settled her hands on her stomach, covering their own as she settled her head back against a pillow of soft greenery, rubbing her thumbs over the pair of clasped hands beneath her.

It would definitely do for now, Ritsu amended silently--for now, and for many more years to come yet.

Chapter Text

It had just…slipped out, that was all. His tongue giving form to idle thoughts best kept to himself and certainly not uttered here, in his studio, in the middle of an argument via back and forth quips without much bite and in Hatori's presence no less--which, it was the guy's own fault; he was supposed to just fax the changes later, not sit here all but looming over Chiaki, his dreary, straight-laced presence a constant grating reminder that Chiaki should knuckle down and get the final few panels drafted.

"But--you can't! Tori--tell him he can't!" No gallant flourish of support, not even so much as the twitch of a brow. "We can't spare you!"

Yuu, adjusting the strap across his chest and flipping his phone open, unmoved. "My boss is a pretty soft touch; I'm sure he'll let me slide."

A sputtered cry of offense, mingled with shock and bluster, "Don't think that just because I love you you can get away…with…"

That Hatori hadn't blinked, hadn't reacted was worse than if he had, and shit Chiaki felt like the world's biggest jerk, forgetting himself and letting the easy companionship he'd always shared with Yuu blend seamlessly into a mutual give and take that manifested itself much more physically, palpably when the girls had gone home for the day. Yuu was still Yuu, and Tori still Tori, and sometimes it was hard to remember that while they were both still his friends, loving one necessarily meant not loving the other, not that way, and while such topics ought to be treaded over with care as stepping on eggshells, Chiaki was rarely prepared to be so conscientious, instead loping about and turning all in his path to so much debris.

Yuu had cocked a half-grin, wordless, and just puffed his chest up in pride as he sauntered out of the studio with a backwards wave and otsukaresama deshita~ to end the day, leaving Chiaki gaping in choked shock at himself, cutter blade bared and hanging limp in his grip, and Hatori clearing his throat and hunching further in his chair as he scribbled a few furious final notes in the margin and began readying to mirror Yuu's efforts to extricate himself from the now very awkward atmosphere settling over the studio's remaining occupants.

Chiaki's chair scraped across the floor, a loud grating as he scrambled to his feet, voice going high and desperate, "Tori--Tori, I'm sorry, I didn't mean--" But he just snapped his mouth shut as quickly as he'd opened it, chest tightening when he realized he was doing as much a disservice to Yuu with this paltry attempt at reconciliation as he'd done to Hatori with his thoughtless comment in the first place. He didn't not mean it; that was the whole problem--that he meant it, enough that even if he couldn't bring himself to stand Yuu before him and speak the words clearly and lucidly, he could drop them into a quick round of dialogue, flirting without meaning to and thereby lending a sense of normalcy to the confession, telling in its innocence and deliverance without compulsion that these are my true feelings.

The snap of a clip biting down on a sheaf of papers, rustling as Hatori slid the panels home into a manila envelope, a soft, muffled slap as the package was tossed onto one of the empty desks for Chiaki to deal with later. "I hope that one day you'll stop apologizing."


It wasn't the response Chiaki had expected--or wanted--and he immediately felt contrite, disappointed that he actually wanted Hatori to be irritated, to give form to Chiaki's feelings that this isn't fair, and he clenched a hand tight at his side, clicking the cutter blade up and down, hidden and exposed.

"You shouldn't be ashamed to be with the person you love."

"I'm not…ashamed," he protested softly, oddly irritated that Hatori seemed to think so little of his actions. He was only thinking of Hatori's feelings, only being considerate--which he'd just clearly demonstrated was a feat for him, so why was Hatori being a jerk about it all?

Oh, maybe because he'd just done exactly what he was apologizing for.

"Maybe not ashamed," Hatori allowed, draping his suit jacket over one arm and taking his briefcase in hand as he stood. "You won't break me, Yoshino, behaving like that. But you might break him." He tipped a nod. "Good night."

If Yuu had been surprised to find Chiaki already in his apartment when he arrived home, work clothes exchanged for the comfortable sweats he kept in the bottommost drawer of Yuu's clothes chest, he hadn't shown it, casually offering Chiaki one of the beers he'd picked up from the 7-11 on the corner and accepting in return the soft slide of Chiaki's lips against his own, unexpected but nevertheless appreciated as he was tugged down onto the couch, legs parting to straddle Chiaki with one knee settled on the cushion.

It was too easy to escalate things, too simple to let fingers skitter and wander where they would, under hems of light t-shirts and over sensitive stomachs clenching with laughter mingled with irritation, labored breaths of cut it--that tickles. More difficult was reading Chiaki's demeanor, testing what he wanted, why he'd shown up, and Chiaki pitied Yuu the task of divining his intent, when Chiaki himself didn't even know.

He pulled back, mouth hanging half open and breath coming in tiny little pants that likely did nothing to keep him from looking like he'd just been fucked instead of like he was on his way there, and Yuu must have agreed, for his lips curled up at the sides, amusement obvious on his features. "'Debauched' suits you, Sensei."

"I think…you're biased." Yuu chuckled at this, the threat of genuine laughter looming in the lilt. "Yuu…"

"Have I mentioned I love it when you say my name like that?"

Chiaki swallowed, steeling himself and closing his eyes. "Just…I'm not ashamed." It sounded stronger now, like Chiaki believed himself when he hadn't earlier. "Earlier, in the studio. I didn't mean to say it--but just…that doesn't mean I didn't still believe it, understand? I'm not ashamed of you--"

Yuu pulled back, features twisting in bemusement. "Wait, what?" The chuckle from before graduated into dry laughter now, incredulity palpable. "Why the hell would I think you were ashamed of me…?"

Chiaki opened his mouth, then closed it again, wary of his tongue spilling all of the thoughts swirling in his head without permission. The last thing he wanted was something like because Tori thinks I might break you, acting like this to hang there between them. "Because," he started instead, "I'm--always taking from you. Never giving back, I feel like." Selfish in his love--love that existed dammit--and too chickenshit to give anything in return.

Yuu had the gall to snort, lifting a hand between them and poking Chiaki squarely in the forehead. "Well it's obviously in there, I think you demonstrated." The gesture morphed into a caress, Yuu's fingers carding through Chiaki's dark locks, setting a shudder through his body. "Just…you suck at getting it out. It's not your fault you're a complete and utter failure when it comes to being open with your feelings in a relationship." Chiaki's features twisted into an ugly, irritated frown, but Yuu only laughed, a harsh amused bark that did nothing to soothe Chiaki's ruffled feathers at the put-down. "I've never thought you were ashamed. Ever." He shook his head. "You never gave me any reason to. Even before…" He gestured between them. "…this, you were always trying so hard for me, so eager and hard-working, never giving up until you were satisfied…" His head cocked to the side, ducking down where Chiaki had dropped his gaze to capture his attention again. "You've been giving to me before you even knew I wanted anything, and when you learned how I felt…it just made you want to give more. What about that could possibly make me think you were ashamed of me? Fuck--" He ran a hand through his hair, laughing in disbelief, "--it only makes me love you more."

Chiaki flushed a deep crimson, trying to sink back into Yuu's couch cushions and calm his racing heart that always thumped a loud tattoo in his chest whenever Yuu said things like that; sensical and welcome as they were, they were always and forever overwhelming Chiaki, convinced he'd never grow accustomed to having affections so directly lavished on him. After a moment's hesitation, raking his gaze over all of Yuu that he could take in from this angle, he heaved himself forward and clasped both arms around Yuu's neck, whispering into the crook where shoulder met nape, "I'm glad then," and squeezing with all his strength until his arms began to cramp.

Yuu slowly brought his own arms up under Chiaki's, cupping round his shoulder blades and pressing their chests together in a way that said he didn't know why they were doing this, but he was more or less on board. His voice sounded young, innocent when he spoke. "…You spending the night?"

Chiaki smiled in the shadow of their embrace. "…Sure."

"…You still pissed I'm going to Guam for that publishers' convention instead of you?"

"…Yeah." Chiaki squeezed even tighter, drawing strength from Yuu himself. "Really, really pissed."

Chapter Text

Ritsu had always been a morning person.

Granted, it hadn't always been a blessing rousing at 6 most every morning, especially on those occasions when he'd only crawled into bed a few hours before after working until the letters blurred together on a draft check for an author, but on the whole, Ritsu had never wished he didn't find himself wide awake at hours when salarymen and office drones were just rousing, pining for another few hours' rest.

It was a…fun time to be awake, the early hours of morning. Especially on crisp winter days when the sky was all-over pale gray with the threat of snow but no intent on carrying through--not this early in the year at least--and the only others about on the street stretching far below were the occasional grandmother out for her morning constitutional or partygoer heading home from a late night.

Ritsu was definitely a morning person.

Masamune was decidedly not.

Which meant Masamune could spend the rest of the already-begun morning alone, catching up on his beauty sleep (and all right, his regular sleep too, seeing as the cycle had apparently just ended on his end and he'd been like the walking dead for the past week); Ritsu was making breakfast.

Or at least some semblance of it. He frowned to himself as he tugged on a pair of sweats and tried to recall just when had been the last time either of them had stopped by the supermarket--or even a conbini? They probably still had some eggs, and the milk should be good at least through the weekend. There was enough rice for two, admittedly, but all their protein was frozen and fit more for an expansive evening meal than a light breakfast. Japanese-style was out, then.

Masamune stirred in the bed, rolling over on the mattress and taking over Ritsu's spot as he clutched the extra pillow close, but he didn't wake, and Ritsu smiled to himself and shook his head as he tugged on what he hoped was a clean t-shirt--it smelled clean, at least--and padded into the hall.

After a quick pit stop, he managed to creep his way into the kitchen, careful to keep his bustling about to lower registers; he didn't share Masamune's habit of sleeping in, but he also didn't begrudge the guy his luxuries when he'd earned them. There were of course…ways to rouse him pleasantly, ways which Ritsu was fairly confident Masamune wouldn't complain about in the least, but it seemed almost cruel to demand he sacrifice one pleasure for another, and so he let the beast slumber on.

Rice--that was first. He scooped two healthy cupfuls from the half-empty kilo they'd picked up last week and poured them into the rice-cooker, wincing at the rattle of the grains bouncing around the bowl. The faucet hissed softly as he filled the cooker with water, and a few chirped beeps later, the device was doing its work, preparing fluffy rice in a half-hour's time at worst.

With a soft yosh of accomplishment, Ritsu began to bustle about the kitchen, checking the pantry for ingredients and frowning at the paltry pickings--it'd been a rough few weeks lately for the both of them, but the state of their food stores was downright appalling. One or both of them would have to be pressed into making a grocery run, or they'd be munching on what remained of the white rice and a budding potato for want of anything else. A few peppers survived, relatively unmolested, in the crisper, and Ritsu set to work with a knife, passing time waiting for the rice to finish steaming by reviewing the text messages he'd put off over the past week.

His mother was sending them a crate of persimmons one of their relatives had pawned off on her, and Saeki-san wanted to go drinking next Friday (truthfully, she wanted to go drinking most any day of the week provided Ritsu promised to bring Masamune with him--and even that wasn't a dealbreaker). Pondering idly if perhaps Yokozawa-san might want to join them as well--though admittedly, Ritsu didn't think the guy liked him for some unfathomable reason--he was jerked from his reverie and scheduling by the shrill beeping of the rice cooker.

Scrambling to his feet to silence the racket, he heaved a sigh of relief and tapped a finger against his chin as he ordered the sequence of events in his mind before executing. He'd never been much of a cook, and truthfully Masamune was much more accomplished in the kitchen than he, but these simple little things he liked to challenge himself with, even if they more often than not tended to draw teasing praise from his roommate.

Setting a fry pan on one of the burners and greasing the skillet, he carefully scraped the rice, fluffy and steaming, into the pan, breathing in deeply and smiling to himself at the enticing scent filling the kitchen now. In went the peppers and some chicken stock, with a dash of ketchup for color, and the rice sizzled away, frying up nicely as Ritsu rooted around in the refrigerator for the eggs--just two left. With the rice, he could easily whip up a second serving for Masamune when he dragged his ass out of bed.

The rice was browning up nicely, and he shook a dash of garlic salt over the mixture, working it in with a spatula and feeling quite pleased with his prowess. He spooned the rice, now a rich brown hue, onto a plate and poured his egg mixture, thoroughly whisked and seasoned to taste, into the pan, humming softly as he waited for it to fluff into an eggy pancake.

"How did you know I was in the mood for omurice?" came a soft, sleepy voice from behind, fatigue giving way to playful flirtation as a pair of dry lips brushed over the nape of his neck, setting him to squawking in surprise and stiffening in place as he tried not to start a fire by flipping the fry pan on end.

"You--fuck, that scared me--!" He brought his free hand to his chest, fist clenched tight around the spatula, and tried to turn round, but Masamune just leaned into him from behind, chin resting on his shoulder as he inspected the pan's contents. "Get--offa me, you're gonna make me burn the egg--"

Masamune rolled away, swiping a spoon from the drying rack and scooping up a bite of the steaming rice, giving an appreciative hum of approval. "But where's your portion?"

Ritsu rolled his eyes at the feigned innocence, the wheedling undercurrent almost palpable, and he turned down the heat until it snapped off, gingerly navigating the pan over the plate and holding a hand out to make sure Masamune gave him a wide berth as he tipped the pan at a steep angle to layer the egg over the rice. "In my hands. Seeing as I'm the one who got up and made myself breakfast." He tilted a brow up in challenge, lips quirking up a bit at the sides and betraying him. "Pass me the ketchup."

He snatched up the bottle of Heinz from the opposite side of the stove where Ritsu had left it, studying the label with intent. "Where's the please?"

Ritsu frowned, wary of his egg going cold--there was nothing worse than cold omurice--and held out a hand. "Give it," he tried again, shaking his open palm, but Masamune was unruffled, turning the bottle over in his hand and tapping it against the heel of his palm.

He sidled over silently, bumping Ritsu's hip with his own to ease him out of the way, and unsnapped the cap with a click as he upended the ketchup, squeezing gently and letting it spill in careful lines over the bright yellow background of the egg. Once finished, he snapped the cap shut again with a satisfied huff and edged the plate back towards Ritsu, who stared down with flushed cheeks and pursed lips. "…Who does that kind of thing these days?"

"Me, obviously," Masamune returned with an easy shrug, and turned to the fridge, likely in search of the egg Ritsu had left him.

Taking up his plate, Ritsu shuffled over to the table, staring down at the message in ketchup, globs of red stark against an eggy background, as he tried frantically not to remember that he'd kind of always wanted someone to write I Love You on omurice for him someday, and if he had to be the one to cook said dish for it to happen, then getting up early had been more than worth it this morning.