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“What is wrong with you, Seishirou? This isn't you!”

Shochikubai Miroku stands in the doorway of the Kenbishi office and glares at Kikumasamune Seishirou, his arms folded across his chest; his face is angry and hurt, his usual calm expression twisted into a frown by his friend's selfish actions. Having agreed to a marriage to Kenbishi Yuri, Seishirou has already taken charge of the Kenbishi family's business affairs, eagerly rising to the challenge as the rest of the Yuukan Club had known he would; what they haven't anticipated is that his personality would also change, apparently corrupted by the prospect of money and power. This is why Miroku is here now, to confront the boy he has become friends with, the boy he has grown to care about. Surely that boy is still there somewhere inside Seishirou, and Miroku intends to draw him back out however he can.

“You're not the same boy I grew up with. Can't you see what you're doing to yourself? What you're doing to all of us?”

“What I'm doing, Miroku, is making a difference.” Seishirou gives a cold smile and lifts a finger to adjust his glasses, glancing up from the desk where he is sitting to fix his former friend with a stern look. “The company won't run itself. Perhaps you don't understand that, leading such a lax and carefree life as you do.”

“Seishirou....” Miroku growls, unfolding his arms and marching forwards towards the desk where Seishirou sits, angered even further by his words. How many times have the two of them got into scrapes together and had to help each other out? How many times have they worked together with the others to solve problems and do the impossible? And now Seishirou is sitting there acting like he's better than any of the rest of them, as if their friendships no longer matter at all.

“I do hope you're not thinking of fighting me,” Seishirou comments drily, raising an eyebrow. "It would clash with my lunch schedule."

“Why not? We've tried talking and look how well that turned out! Somebody has to knock some sense into you!”

“I suppose you would at least be a worthy opponent,” the other boy chuckles. “But still, you'd be a distraction. I need to get these accounts finished today and present them to the board by this afternoon---”

Miroku's fists suddenly slam down on the desk, sending pieces of paper flying everywhere and drawing not only a shocked look from Seishirou but also an exasperated cry.

“Screw the accounts, Seishirou!” he yells, staring his friend in the face. “Stop this, right now!”

“Don't make me have to get you removed by security...”

SMACK! Before Seishirou can react, Miroku has already launched himself across the desk to slap the other boy hard across the face.

“Miroku...” Seishirou sits there in shock, not from the pain, but from the unexpected attack from someone he has always considered a close friend; his hand moves to his cheek where a hand-shaped red welt is already forming, his eyes narrowing as he gives a tired, resigned sigh. “Well, then. If that's how it's going to be...”

Looking glum, Seishirou removes his glasses and places them onto the desk before getting to his feet, shrugging off his jacket and hanging it on the back of his chair; then he rolls up his shirt sleeves and steps out to meet his friend, his body already adopting one of his more familiar fighting stances.

“I thought better of you than this, but if it's the only way to make you go away, then so be it. Don't hold back, Miroku... don't hold back.”

“I don't intend to.” For the first time since he has arrived, Miroku smiles.

They circle each other warily for a few moments, each of them familiar with the other's style, with the way they react and move; Miroku gives a few test swings, not expecting them to connect but looking for a weakness in Seishirou's defence. Seishirou does the same in turn, making quick yet fierce strikes towards Miroku, testing his reflexes to try and gauge his current mood, his current ability. Then, seemingly satisfied, Seishirou makes the first move, stepping in quickly to jab at Miroku's head.

Miroku easily dodges the first blow, stepping aside as Seishirou's open hand slices down mere millimetres past his left ear; wasting no time he turns to make a strike in retaliation, the swing going wild as Seishirou senses it coming and deftly moves out of the way. They are evenly-matched, and they know it; Seishirou may have had extensive training from Master Unkai, but Miroku has been in enough fights to be able to handle himself well, dodging Seishirou's precise strikes and delivering his own well-timed attacks in return, each one blocked by an arm or a leg, every hit swung aside by a masterful counter.

They continue like this for several minutes, exchanging and blocking each others' blows, but it soon becomes clear that Seishirou is losing ground. He is too tired, exhausted from all his late nights and early morning starts, of travelling to meeting after meeting and having to make successive series of reports to so many different people in such a short amount of time. Not only that, but trying to mould Yuri into the type of woman he feels should be the wife of a company boss has also taken its toll, although Miroku has to give him credit for that – keeping Yuri in line is surely a full-time job all by itself.

There is a flurry of blows from Seishirou - a punch, a kick, an open-handed strike - which Miroku manages to avoid, but it gives him an opening and he takes advantage of it; with a sudden, well-placed strike he literally knocks Seishirou off his feet, sending him sprawling to collapse on the floor against the desk.

“Give it up, Seishirou.” Miroku moves in to aid his friend, offering a hand not only to help him up but also as a gesture of peace; he hopes that finally, this will bring an end to the whole unpleasant situation, make Seishirou see that he can't just turn his back on the rest of the Yuukan Club and return things to normal with him and with Yuri.

“I'm not... done... yet...” Seishirou hisses, swiping Miroku's hand away with a snarl. “Just... give me a moment...”

“Dammit, Seishirou!” Exasperated, Miroku grabs a hold of Seishirou's wrists and shoves him hard against the desk, making him sit up. “Don't you know when to quit?”

“I don't... give up...”

“You're bleeding.” Miroku's brow furrows in concern as he notices that Seishirou has a split lip; he reaches into his pocket to fetch a handkerchief, leaning in to dab at the blood, touching Seishirou gently as he did so.

“You don't have to do this...” Seishirou's body is stiff and tense, annoyed and embarrassed not only that Miroku has defeated him but also that he should be acting so tender and kind towards him now. This is no way for the head of a company to be treated! “Stop it...”

“Shut up, Seishiro.” Having wiped away the blood, Miroku stares at Seishirou for a moment, his eyes widening slightly as if having come to a sudden realisation. “Shut up...”

And then he leans in to press his lips against Seishirou's own.

The kiss is gentle and tender, rendering them both speechless; Miroku pulls away after only a few moments, perhaps because he isn't sure of what he's doing, perhaps because he's wary of scaring Seishirou away – because he realises now why his anger has flared so brightly as of late, why his rage has steadily been building until it had to come to this. It's not Seishirou's treatment of Yuri which has upset Miroku so much, although he strongly disapproves of the way the other boy has been acting towards her – no, it's because of the way he feels towards Seishirou, a deep affection which runs deeper than being just friends. He loves him. He loves him, and to have to watch him marry somebody else all but breaks his heart.

“Miroku...?”

Seishirou finally speaks, his voice quiet, questioning. He touches his fingers to his lips and looks up at his friend curiously, although he doesn't appear to be disgusted or upset; the greatest thing however is that he seems more like his usual self, not the pompous, career-driven monster which he had recently become.

“Seishirou...” Miroku's voice is gentle and calming, and he even manages a smile as he reaches out to stroke a finger along Seishirou's cheek. He takes the fact that his friend doesn't back away as a positive sign, and he risks touching him further, his hand moving up to softly ruffle at his hair. “I'm sorry, Seishirou. Are you alright?”

“You're sorry for what?” The other boy manages to grin, although he winces slightly. “Sorry for beating me up, or sorry for kissing me?”

“What do you think?” Despite his bravado Miroku has the decency to blush. “Now, do you want a hand up or not?”

“I want you to prove that you weren't just doing it to shut me up.”

Miroku pauses, raising an eyebrow as he looks down at Seishirou. Could it be that his friend somehow feels the same way about him? Surely he can't dare to hope that Seishirou has deeper feelings for him, too? Then again, he has known Seishirou for long enough to know that he's not the type to play with the emotions of other people; he wouldn't be asking for another kiss unless he genuinely wanted one. Miroku laughs softly and obliges, leaning in once more to press his lips against Seishirou's own, drawing a soft moan from his lips; one of Seishirou's hands moves to rest upon Miroku's arm, pulling him closer, the kiss becoming more intense, their mouths opening wider, their tongues...

“Miroku!” It's Karen's voice which causes the two boys to spring apart, their cheeks burning bright red with embarrassment as they realise they may have been caught in the act. “Miroku, are you alright? And... Seishirou!”

Karen gasps as she comes running over, clearly upset at finding two of her friends in such a beaten-up and dishevelled state. Thankfully she doesn't seem to have noticed the kiss, and she quickly begins to fuss over Miroku, still wary of Seishirou after how he's been acting lately. The other three aren't far behind, Bidou strolling nonchalantly into the room beside Noriko and Yuri, who is munching hungrily on a rice ball.

“See, I told you Miroku would sort things out.” Bidou strikes a bold pose by the doorway as Noriko comes running over to Seishirou, kneeling down beside him, her expression a mixture of concern as well as consternation – then she slaps him, hard, in the exact same place that Miroku struck him only a short while ago.

“You idiot!” she hisses, upset. “You stupid, stupid idiot---”

“Noriko.” It's Miroku who takes a hold of Noriko's arm, stopping her from hitting Seishirou again. “It's okay. It's over. He's back to his old self now... and he isn't going to do anything stupid like that again.”

He glares at Seishirou.

“...are you?”

Seishirou's only response is to groggily shake his head, although he does smile at Miroku as he does so.

“He's learned his lesson, and he's going to apologise. To all of us, not just you, Yuri.”

“I've been a fool.” This time Seishirou accepts Miroku's offer of help to get to his feet, and he leans heavily on his friend's shoulder as he speaks; Noriko stands close by, but she folds her arms firmly across her chest and continues to pout at Seishirou. She's still disappointed by her friend's actions. “I'm sorry, everyone. I wanted a challenge and I didn't think about how much it would affect the rest of you. And Yuri...”

She looks up from where her face is buried in a bowl of ramen.

“...it was wrong of me to try and change you. I won't do it again.”

She grins at him with a mouth full of noodles and nods, which is acknowledgement enough of his apology.

“Now... let's go back to school.”

Having said what needs to be said, Seishirou begins to make his way towards the door, still leaning on Miroku as Noriko rejoins Bidou, Karen and Yuri.

“Oh... one more thing.” Seishirou speaks again, causing the others to turn and look at him. “The wedding's off.”

He smiles apologetically to Yuri, who smiles back.

“I don't want to marry you anyway,” she shrugs. “The chef you hired didn't cook anywhere near enough food.”

And with that, the engagement is off, which brings a heavy sigh of relief from Miroku. The two of them hang back as the others start to lead the way from the room, leaving them at the back of the group to talk quietly between themselves.

“I'm sorry I had to hurt you, Seishirou.”

“It's okay. I was being an idiot. I was being an idiot because I thought I could be happy with Yuri as a trophy wife. I didn't know how I really felt... how I felt about you...”

“Neither did I until I beat it into you.” Miroku grins. “Well, I guess it gives me an excuse to help nurse you back to health, anyway. It's going to be okay now, right?”

“Right.”

And as Seishirou reaches down to take hold of Miroku's hand, it really does seem like things will be alright after all.