Neku liked to think he had at least a mild tolerance for Joshua showing up wherever he wanted unannounced. Until, of course, he decided to spend his time in Neku’s bedroom. And after the fourth or fifth time Neku walked in to find Joshua reclining on the bed, relaxed and reading a book like he owned the damn place, it bypassed what little patience he had.
“You’re here again?” Joshua’s only response was a little wave, not even glancing up from his book, although Neku could see a smirk pulling at the corners of his lips. “Why?”
“Neku, I’m hurt.” There was a mocking edge to his tone that made Neku tense with aggravation. “Do I have to have a reason? Can’t I come to see you because I want to?”
“You always have a reason.” With a sigh, Neku dropped his bag down beside his desk. “Shouldn’t you be out…I dunno, doing Composer stuff?” Joshua shrugged one shoulder dismissively.
“I have nothing diverting to do at the moment.” Neku, who had gotten good at translating Joshua-speak simply out of exposure, knew that meant the other was bored, which was never a good thing.
“Right. Could you at least get off my bed?”
“Why?” Joshua didn’t shut his book, but his gaze shifted over to Neku, smirk still firmly in place. “I’m not disturbing anything. Or is this too much like a particular fantasy of yours for you to be comfortable, dear?”
“Not even close.” Neku snorted derisively, but Joshua’s smirk only widened.
“Oh? What needs to be changed? Should I be covered in whipped cream, on my knees, or—”
“Shut up.” Not for the first time, Neku wondered if Joshua could actually read his mind, at any time he wanted. He didn’t know the extent of the Composer’s powers, which was a little terrifying, because Joshua could already read him so easily, like the book in his hands, knew him well enough to find every weak spot, every point he could get under Neku’s skin.
“Such a reaction, Neku.” Joshua’s eyes narrowed slightly in interest and Neku felt far too exposed for comfort, but tried to play it off as annoyance, looking away from the bed.
Sometimes, he’d have a dream like that, which would start off mundanely but ended up in some back alley, or a bathroom, or at WildKat, once, with Joshua kneeling on the floor, Neku’s hand buried in his hair, saying yes, fuck, more. And then Neku would wake up, hard and in a cold sweat. He didn’t know if those or the dreams where they just held hands were worse, because it was so completely fucked up that he should want Joshua in any way, or even that his subconscious did. All the manipulation from before wasn’t enough, apparently, because Joshua managed to make everything a convoluted mess without even trying, his very presence frustrating and grating and somehow a relief too, since Neku felt more of a pang than he liked to admit that day at Hachiko, when he realized Joshua really wasn’t going to show up.
“Look just—off the bed.” In the back of his mind, he realized how petty it was to be getting irritated over such a minor thing, considering how many other, bigger, issues he had a right to be pissed off about, but frustration and hurt and half a dozen other conflicting emotions were bubbling up, so rationality was kicked to the wayside.
“I’m comfortable.” Joshua’s gaze flicked up, smirk gone, finally, and Neku felt a tiny sliver of triumph at that.
“Do I look like I care?”
“You could be a little more courteous. Is this how you treat all your guests?” Joshua tilted his head to the side slightly before giggling, unfazed yet again. “Or am I just special?”
“No.” Magnetic was more accurate, to the point that Neku wasn’t sure if it was Joshua that kept tripping him up and jerking him around, or he was tangling everything himself and willingly following. And that, that was the most aggravating of all. He reached out, wrapping his fingers around Joshua’s arm, giving him an insistent tug.
“Neku.” His tone was warning, tinged with irritation, enough for him to set his book aside. Good. “Let me go.”
“Make me.” The retort was childish, but Joshua was obviously unused to being treated this way, annoyance almost palpable, so Neku didn’t care, even when he felt a sparking buzz of power under his hand, like a static shock. “Is that all you’re going to do, oh powerful Composer? Maybe if you can’t intimidate me, you’ll actually fucking say something to me for once.”
“Say something to you?” Joshua tried to jerk his arm away, but Neku tightened his grip. “Whatever do you want to hear?”
“Not—” Nothing with pretense, nothing convoluted. He wanted to hear something Joshua meant. But that wasn’t going to happen, and Neku bit back the words. “Nothing you’re willing to tell me, probably.”
“I’m willing to do some things.” Joshua smirked again, but his gaze was still sharp and narrowed.
“You—fuck.” Neku felt a surge of anger and resentment, unsure if the brunt of it was directed at Joshua, or himself, or the both of them, but unthinkingly he yanked on Joshua’s arm until he nearly toppled off the bed. He hadn’t really factored in any retaliation on Joshua’s part, but as soon as he felt fingers grip his hair and pull, hard, Neku understood he had made a pretty bad mistake. Hissing, he stumbled back a few steps, finally letting go of Joshua’s arm before he felt the other’s knee hit the bottom of his ribs. Thankfully, the kick wasn’t forceful enough to knock any air our of him, since Joshua was already off-balance, but it caused enough of a twinge that Neku brought his fist up reactively, hearing Joshua let out a soft cry of pain before he released the hand he had in Neku’s hair. He was disoriented for a second, scalp still tingling and knuckles aching from the impact, but once he got his bearings, he looked up to see Joshua standing near the opposite wall, fingers pressed on a bruise already blooming across his jaw and cheek.
It was weird, seeing him like this, and in a rush Neku realized Joshua was still, inexplicably, the person he had thought was willing to die for him. That wouldn’t change, everything he felt before and because of that wouldn’t change.
“Well.” Joshua finally spoke up, voice biting and sardonic. “I hope you got that out of your system, Neku.”
“Not even close.” He made it across the room quick enough that Joshua tensed, as if expecting another hit, but Neku simply braced his hands on the wall and leaned in for a kiss. It was more than a little satisfying to hear Joshua’s breath hitch, whether it was from surprise or pleasure, it didn’t matter. The lapse lasted for a few heartbeats before Joshua seemed to recover, hands tugging Neku closer as his lips parted.
The heat from the kiss, his tongue, was borderline intoxicating, a sharp contrast how cool his touch was against Neku’s flushed skin. His mind was hazy, spinning, thinking it was strange for it all to feel this good, but Neku just slid his fingers into Joshua’s hair, nearly cradling the back of his head, feeling the other’s little hum of pleasure reverberate against his mouth. Neku’s pulse was thrumming, stuttering, and he had to lean away, finally, to breathe, Joshua nipping at his bottom lip slightly as he pulled back.
Panting, Neku still couldn’t quite gather his thoughts, except for that Joshua’s hair felt nice and that his eyes were actually a darker purple near the center, mottled like the mark along his jaw. And, slowly, Neku became aware of the fact that probably hurt, and how his own minor injuries were starting to ache.
“Josh.” His voice came out too soft and breathy for his liking, and he cleared his throat to cover it up, but Joshua was already smiling, smugly, and Neku pushed back any urge to punch him again. “Um. D’you want some ice for that?”
“Hmm?” Neku gestured vaguely to his own cheek in response. “Oh, for the bruise? I suppose so.”
“I’ll be right back.” He let out a breath and stepped away, turning towards the door.
“You won’t take another swing at me if I get back on the bed, will you?”
“What? No.” Neku threw a glare over his shoulder, but the other was completely unperturbed. “Asshole.”
Joshua just giggled, the sound of it following Neku as he headed down the stairs, two at a time, for ice and painkillers.