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the agony of waiting

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“Oof, these are heavy,” Hanai mutters.

“Sorry for the trouble."

“Nah, don’t worry about it,” he replies, shaking his head. “I offered after all. These go right at the top?”

“Yeah.” Suyama says, watching as Hanai stretches on his tip-toes, carefully sliding the books into place.

It’s been two days since their first date—and, Suyama thinks a little gleefully to himself, their first kiss. When Hanai had first appeared at the front door of his shop, he had been visibly fidgeting, unable to look him in the eye for longer than two seconds. A few minutes of idle chatter and swapping stories, and Hanai had finally relaxed enough to roll up his sleeves, offering Suyama the much appreciated extra pair of hands to sort out the new stock.

“Thanks for helping me out."

“No problem.” He glances at his watch; Suyama watches as his expression turns sheepish. “That’s everything, right? I kinda need to head back soon. There’s a few more essays I need to grade.”

“Oh, of course. I didn’t mean to keep you.”

“Nah. Like I said, I wanted to help.”

Hanai walks over to the counter, and hefts his bag over his shoulder, adjusting the strap with nervous fingers. He meets Suyama’s gaze, inhales as if he’s about to say something, and then abruptly pauses.

Suyama can practically see the gears whirring in his head. He smiles, waiting.

"Well," Hanai says. “Guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Guess so,” Suyama replies lightly. He walks Hanai to the door, darting one hand out automatically to hold it open for him, and smiles at the light blush that races across Hanai’s cheek. He waves to the other man, leans against the door to watch him go. When Hanai rounds the corner, disappearing from his sight, Suyama sighs, and goes back into the shop.

-----

It’s been four days since their first kiss, Suyama thinks, and beyond the occasional comma of hesitation while they trade goodbyes, Hanai hasn’t tried it again.

Suyama wishes he would though.

Normally, Suyama would be happy to wait it out, until the other party hints at wanting to take their relationship further, but something about Hanai makes him want to bring it up as soon as possible. It could be because he so enjoys watching Hanai flustered and embarrassed. But it could also be that Suyama just wants to feel Hanai’s lips against him again. The last time had been so brief after all.

And if flustered Hanai has the tendency to be unbearably endearing, well, Suyama is smart enough to keep it to himself. For now.

This time, when Hanai gathers his things, he says, "See you."

"Right," Suyama replies, leaning his elbows against the counter.

But then, Hanai's gaze flicks down, to his lips--

(Hope flutters in Suyama's chest, a burst of butterfly wings--)

--and darts to the side as he turns away.

(--and shrivels up, withering away like dust)

Hanai lifts a hand in farewell, hurrying out the front door, and is gone within seconds.

A heavy sigh escapes his throat, and Suyama slumps bodily onto the counter, letting his head thump against the flat surface.

------

The count is now at seven days. Earlier, Hanai had arrived with a cup of coffee in each hand, handing one over to Suyama with a bright, completely innocent smile. Now they're in the stockroom, chatting as Suyama runs through his inventory for the week. Hanai is animatedly describing one of his classes, and Suyama nods along, the checklist in his hand ignored in favour of tracking the shine in Hanai's eyes, glinting bright, his whole face practically glowing, lit up by his smile,

And just like that, the last drops of Suyama's patience trickles out, the well bled dry with want. He loosens his fingers, reaching out--in the background, the sound of paper fluttering, Hanai's chatter cutting off--until the two of them pressed up against the wall, close enough for their breaths to mingle. By now the relaxed curves of Hanai's shoulders have gone rigid, the collar of his unbuttoned shirt falling open just enough to tease with a strip of bare skin. Not that Suyama notices, definitely not, because he's keeping his eyes resolutely fixed on Hanai's face--the furrowed brows and tight line of his mouth, the blossoms of red scattered over his cheeks. Suyama scans Hanai's features, and his attention gets snagged on the shape of Hanai's eyes, narrowed at him, the rapid sweep of his lashes when he blinks.

He has such nice eyes, Suyama thinks, as he leans in, slowly, so very slowly.

But then Hanai meets him halfway, and his lips are so soft, softer than Suyama remembers them being from that time so long ago (has it really been a week? It feels like he's been waiting for years). The sensation draws him closer, coaxes his mouth open, and a quiet sound wells up in his throat, finds its way out only to be muffled by Hanai's mouth over his because they're finally, finally kissing again.

When Hanai pulls away, Suyama follows, unwilling to let go. Until Hanai tilts his head further back, baring his neck in a gesture that sends heat straight into the pit of Suyama's stomach, arresting his current train of thought. Just as Suyama is ducking down to trace the shape of that jaw with his mouth, Hanai says, "Making out while you're working? With a customer?"

Suyama stops, and stares channels his attention into staring at Hanai. "My boss isn't complaining . And you're not a customer, you're extra help."

"Oh," Hanai replies, crossing his arms, "Is that what this is? Bribery? How many more boxes do you need moved to the front?"

Suyama doesn't know if he should laugh. The breath of air that huffs out of him feels torn, undecided, and he settles for cupping Hanai's jaw in one hand, brushing his thumb over the bump of a cheekbone. The gesture makes Hanai flush, his skin warming fast in Suyama's palm, and it's oddly gratifying, seeing the way Hanai's mouth tightens into a thin line, his eyebrows creasing in an expression that Suyama has come to recognise as poorly-concealed embarrassment, hidden under a layer of exasperation. When Suyama feels his week's worth of exasperation has been sufficiently avenged, he takes a few steps back and turns away, picking up the checklist from where he dropped it earlier.

"Now what was it you were saying about today's class?"