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Holding onto you

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“Here you go!”

Hiromitsu passes a tennis ball to Rei, expecting his opponent to lift the racket and throw the ball back to him. Rei has always been the star of their elementary school’s tennis club, so Hiromitsu is surprised as Rei isn’t able to lift his racket fast enough. The tennis ball drops to the ground, and Rei has to pick it up again to continue their match.

To say Hiromitsu is surprised at Rei’s lack of talent – No, lack of will to fight back is an understatement. Rei is hot-tempered, he has always been eager to win a match, even if he has to go all out in order for him to win. This day, something is distracting him, and it is eating away the concentration Rei is supposed to focus on the ball.

In the end, Hiromitsu drops his racket and refuses to continue playing. His teacher scolds Hiromitsu and tells him to pick the racket up, but Hiromitsu simply crosses his arms and pouts. A match was only fun as long as Zero plays for real, not like this time. With Rei spacing out all the time, it is too easy to win, and Hiromitsu also dislikes seeing his best friend like that.

Fifteen minutes into their lesson, Hiromitsu drops the whole match and walks around the net. His destination is no other person than the one whose behavior worries him. The closer Hiromitsu gets, the more confused the expression in Rei’s eyes becomes. It is written all over his face that he doesn’t understand what is going on, or why Hiromitsu acts against their teacher’s orders.

“I can’t play like that,” Hiromitsu complains once he comes to a halt in front of Rei. Furrowing his brows slightly and trying to make Rei feel at least a little bit guilt, he continues. “Fight me fair and square, Zero.”

Rei averts his eyes and puffs his cheeks. That isn’t what Hiromitsu has been trying to achieve, so he tries to get Rei’s attention back on him by cupping his cheeks and forcing Rei to meet his gaze. Since Rei’s cheeks have still been puffy, Hiromitsu squeezes the air out of them while doing so.

“You’re weird today,” Hiromitsu’s words aren’t meant to insult Rei, but his best friend glares at him for having said so. At least Rei’s fighting spirit starts lighting up again, Hiromitsu thinks contently. He can’t help but smile at the angry expression on Rei’s face, now everything is back to normal again.

“You’re weird,” Rei retorts stubbornly, just for the sake of talking back to Hiromitsu. Hiromitsu’s grin widens and even his teacher who tells him to go back to his side of the field cannot make it falter.

Fortunately, Rei’s performance becomes better after Hiromitsu’s small interference. They continue their match like nothing has happened, and Rei is the one who wins it despite Hiromitsu’s previous lead. Happily, Hiromitsu puts an arm around Rei’s shoulder after their lesson has ended and congratulates him for the win.

However, he isn’t done with his best friend yet. While both Rei and Hiromitsu walk home, he asks Rei about his behavior again. “Hey, Zero. Did something happen?”
Rei averts his eyes again, something he usually does when he hides something which troubles him. For a few seconds, Rei falls silent and considers whether he should tell his best friend about the things bothering him. Eventually, he gives in and doesn’t beat around the bush, wanting to get this talk over with as soon as possible. “I made Akemi cry because I told her that I didn’t want her as my wife when she asked me about it.”

“Oh.”

Nothing more comes over Hiromitsu’s lips, just that little dumbfound reaction. He has never dealt with relationship problems before, and while he wants to help Rei with it, he has no clue how to cheer a girl with a broken heart up. Nevertheless, he tries to come up with a solution because Zero needs his support.

“So, what did you tell her exactly?” Hiromitsu scratches his cheek and smiles awkwardly. He really doesn’t know how to pull this off. Suddenly, Rei lowers his head, hiding the flush on his cheeks. Hesitantly, he gathers all of his courage and repeats his exact words from one day ago quietly, almost like he hopes Hiromitsu won’t hear him. “I told her that I was already going to marry you…”

Again, Hiromitsu is speechless. This time, it is in a more positive way – And Hiromitsu beams as soon as his mind progresses Rei’s words properly. Quickly, he grabs Rei’s hand and intertwines their fingers. Rei protests, his cheeks rosy as he pulls on his hand and demands Hiromitsu to let go because he is being embarrassing in public. Eventually, Hiromitsu listens to Rei, the smile on his face not vanishing even once. “From now on, you’ll be my wife!”

Rei doesn’t exactly like being called Hiromitsu’s wife. Instead, he insists that “Hiromi” -as he likes to call Hiromitsu despite the nickname not working with his written name- is more fit to be the wife. Hiromitsu doesn’t mind, and from that day on he gladly calls himself Rei’s wife – Until his parents find out and scold him for it, claiming that he isn’t supposed to say that to a boy, and a half-Japanese no less. His parents’ complains don’t stop Hiromitsu from thinking about himself as Rei’s wife, though.

The next time Rei meets Akemi, she isn’t sad about what has happened anymore. Suddenly, the whole love drama is solved and doesn’t end up in a long-lasting heartbreak.

~~

Hiromitsu turns around in his bed as something after something has hit his window. He just wants to sleep, it is almost 10 pm and he will have to go to school tomorrow. However, once the same sound comes out of his window’s direction again, Hiromitsu groggily stands up, rubs his eyes and walks over to the origin of whatever has woken him up.

He has expected everything, a stupid bird flying against the clean window or a branch hitting it. What he hasn’t expected is Furuya Rei, standing in his garden and about to throw another stone. When Rei notices that Hiromitsu is standing right where he wants him to be, he lowers his arm.

Hiromitsu doesn’t understand the whole situation, and he questions whether it is a dream. Nevertheless, he opens his window to get some answers right out of the person who is responsible for having created the questions in the first place. “Hey, Zero. What are you doing here?”
Rei puts a finger on his lips and looks up to Hiromitsu tensely. With a hushed voice, Rei signals him to be quiet. “Shut up and open the door, Hiromi!”

Still confused, Hiromitsu smiles at Rei and gives him a thumbs up, letting Rei know that he will do so. Then, he closes the window again and leaves his bedroom. When Hiromitsu gets down the stairs, he is being extra careful not to make a sound, so his parents won’t wake up and scold him.

The moment Hiromitsu arrives at the door leading to the garden, Rei is already waiting in front of it, his arms crossed in front of his chest while he taps his right foot on the ground impatiently. Not wanting to make his best friend wait in the cold any longer, Hiromitsu quickly opens the door and lets Rei inside. His smile falters when he notices that Rei’s lips are slightly blue.

“How long have you been outside?!” Hiromitsu grabs Rei’s shoulders and panics. He doesn’t want Rei to catch a cold, and he knows that Rei is quite reckless when it comes to his own health. It has become better after Elena left after accepting a new job offer, Rei hasn’t harmed himself on purpose to see a doctor ever since, something that relieves Hiromitsu a lot. However, Rei still doesn’t take care of himself enough, resulting in Hiromitsu needing to pay extra attention on the things Rei does.

Wearing light clothes while it is cold outside is definitely not one of the things Hiromitsu can approve of. He offers Rei some tea, but Rei declines and pushes Hiromitsu’s hands off his shoulders, claiming that he is feeling alright. His trembling lips are telling Hiromitsu another story, though.

With a sigh, Hiromitsu turns around and walks over to the couch standing in the living room both 12-year-olds are currently meeting up in. He grabs a blanket and throws it at Rei who catches it automatically. Reluctantly, but also quietly admitting that he needs some warmth, Rei puts the blanket around his shoulders. Hiromitsu smiles at that, Rei is awfully stubborn which causes a lot of problems, but at the same time this character trait is also something Hiromitsu admires about his best friend the most.

Hiromitsu takes a seat on the couch and taps on the spot right next to him, monitoring Rei to sit down. Rei obligates, the blanket still wrapped around him as he joins Hiromitsu on the couch.

“So, why are you here?” Hiromitsu asks, all his sleepiness suddenly having vanished after Rei’s appearance. Rei doesn’t answer the question immediately, instead he puts the blanket around him tighter and ponders how he can phrase his next sentence. In the end, he decides to keep it short and simple. “I’m running away from home.”

“You- What.”

Hiromitsu doesn’t know if he was hearing correctly. Sure, Rei has always had some troubles with his parents, but that decision of his has come so… unexpected.
Details. Hiromitsu needs details, otherwise he can’t help Zero. His usual cheerfulness replaced with a serious aura, Hiromitsu tells Rei that he will listen to him. Rei closes his eyes, tries to gain some composure and eventually starts explaining what has happened. “My parents fought and I think they might break up. I don’t want to be moved to another family again, so I’ve decided running away would be better.”

That Rei’s parents argue a lot isn’t something new to Hiromitsu, Rei has told him about it several times already. However, Rei has never told him about his fear that his parents might get a divorce.

There has not been put much thought into Hiromitsu’s actions as he places an arm around Rei’s shoulder and smiles reassuringly at him. Rei usually avoids body contact, but this time he allows it. It’s Hiromitsu who hugs him, and he can always trust and rely on Hiromitsu. Slightly embarrassed, Rei averted his eyes and adds further explanation to his choice of actions. “I’d rather live under a bridge than being separated from you.”

“I’ll accompany you, then!” Hiromitsu announces optimistically. Rei’s head shoots into Hiromitsu’s directions, his eyes wide. “Are you serious?! Don’t follow me if you’ve got a real family!”

Hiromitsu stands up, ready to pack his things and get a jacket for Rei. In his hurry, Rei has forgotten to pack important things he will need later on. Therefore, Hiromitsu plans on retrieving two backpacks, one for Rei and one for himself. If he recalls correctly, there should also be a unused toothbrush in the bathroom which Rei can use.

Deep in his thoughts, Hiromitsu only takes notice of Rei’s discontent once Rei grabs his wrist and glares at him. “I’m serious, Hiromi. Don’t get into trouble because of me. I’ve just visited you to say goodbye.”

If Hiromitsu wants to, he can be as stubborn as Rei. That was the case right now, his goal is to support Rei and in order to achieve that, he’s willing to do anything for him. “I’m your best friend, that means I’d take a bullet for you!”

Rei watches in exasperation how Hiromitsu prepares two backpacks. He continues trying to convince Hiromitsu to give it a rest and let him sort things our on his own, but Hiromitsu doesn’t listen at all. And, actually – Rei is glad that he’s not alone in this. Deep down, he wants Hiromitsu to accompany him. It is selfish of him to think that way and take Hiromitsu away from his parents, but in that moment, Rei doesn’t care. Eventually, he stops opposing Hiromitsu altogether and silently watches how Hiromitsu closes the backpacks and hands one to Rei.

“You’re such an idiot,” Rei mumbles, but takes the backpack. Hiromitsu reaches out for the blanket and offers his best friend his thickest jacket instead, Hiromitsu himself chooses another one that will still be able to keep him warm at night. Then, after Rei has accepted the jacket, Hiromitsu smiles at him. “You’re the idiot for thinking I’m going to leave you alone.”

For the first time that night, Hiromitsu’s smile is contagious and reflects itself on Rei’s lips as well.

~~

Running away has been a stupid idea. Now, Hiromitsu and Rei have gotten lost inside a huge park that is barely illuminated by some street lights. Just a few minutes ago, they have been approached by a homeless guy whose sudden appearance has shocked the duo so much that they have fled into a random direction. Unfortunately, neither Hiromitsu nor Rei know the way back out of the park.

Rei tries to act strong, but Hiromitsu is aware that he is just as afraid as Hiromitsu is. Therefore, Hiromitsu grabs Rei’s hands -something he hasn’t done for a long time since Rei always claims that he dislikes it - and tries to make Rei feel a little bit more safe and secure. If anything happens to them, Hiromitsu won’t be able to protect Rei – He knows that. However, he wants to show Rei that he’s not alone and give him some strength by doing so.

“I’m fine,” Rei boasts as Hiromitsu’s fingers intertwine with his fingers. He’s stubborn, doesn’t want Hiromitsu to think that he’s weak. However, Hiromitsu isn’t doing it because he feels like he needs to protect a damsel in distress. No, Hiromitsu believes in his best friends, he knows that Rei is a fighter – But even fighters need someone to support them sometimes.

Suddenly, both Rei and Hiromitsu hear a loud noise echoing through the park, scaring the birds away. Despite having complained a few seconds ago, Rei tightens his grip around Hiromitsu’s fingers. Hiromitsu can see Rei trembling, and it wasn’t just due to the cold. The blond swallows, trying to regain his composure and appear like he doesn’t fear anything. “Was that a gunshot?”

Hiromitsu doesn’t know. Neither Rei nor Hiromitsu have heard a real gunshot yet, only in fiction. He smiles nervously, he can’t say with certainty that it hasn’t been a gunshot. As much as he wants to prove Rei wrong, there is no indication that they are safe in the park.

Adding some pressure to the hand that was holding on to Rei, Hiromitsu admits that he can’t be sure whether the sound has been made by a weapon. Then, as a rustle comes from the bushes, Hiromitsu acts instinctively and drags Rei off, trying to find a place where they can be safe.

Their short legs carry the 12-year-olds to a pavilion hidden in the midst of some trees. Quickly, Hiromitsu pulls on Rei’s arm and seeks some safety in their newly found hideout. With some force, but not enough to hurt Rei, Hiromitsu pushes him down on the ground and covers behind the railing as well. They sit there for a few minutes, the strong wind hitting their backs and making them shiver. In an attempt to keep Rei warm, Hiromitsu comes closer and puts an arm around Rei who doesn’t push Hiromitsu away. Instead, he rests his head on Hiromitsu’s shoulder and stares at the ground in front of them. “I’m sorry.”

A small laugh escapes Hiromitsu’s lips, even though he isn’t feeling like laughing. He is afraid, afraid that there might be a murderer around who is now looking out for more victims. Hiromitsu doesn’t know how being shot feels like, and he honestly doesn’t want to find out either. Right now, the fear that made his heart beat faster is also an indication that he’s still alive, so he is trying to see the bright side of it. “Don’t be sorry. You are strong, I am strong – We won’t die here.”

Saying some words of motivation is easier than actually believing in them. Hiromitsu needs some distraction, both for himself and Rei, so he places his backpack in front of him and fishes some food out of it, offering half of it to Rei. Rei accepts the melon bread, although he is just nibbling on it without showing any signs of appetite after he has unwrapped it.

Before they can finish eating their snacks, the loud sound from before echoes through the park again, this time accompanied by breaking glass. Hiromitsu jerks up, and Rei takes notice of it, feeling just as uncomfortable as his best friend.

Suddenly, loud footsteps can be heard, making the 12-year-olds turn around and watch as a person dressed in dark clothes crashes into the pavilion, a beer bottle and firecrackers in his hands. Although Rei is scared, he immediately stands up and shields Hiromitsu from the stranger. Hiromitsu stares at Rei in horror as he throws his barely eaten melon bread at the stranger’s forehead and shouts angrily. “Get lost, creep!”

Rei shivers, and he tries to suppress it. He isn’t willing to show the stranger that he’s scared of him, scared of Hiromitsu’s safety. Elena has told him not to pick fights with anyone, but Rei has always had a mind on his own. If anyone dares to endanger his best friend, they will pay for it – Even if Rei has to receive some punches as a result of his actions.

The stranger curses and looks at Rei angrily. Due to his focus on the 12-year-old, the stranger doesn’t see the policeman coming who tackles him to the ground, holding the stranger’s arms behind his back so he can’t move. When the policeman looks to his right, he is surprised to see two children inside the pavilion. After handcuffing the man Rei has attacked, the policeman keeps him on the ground while talking to Rei and Hiromitsu. “What are you doing here so late at night?”

Hiromitsu isn’t the one to answer, he is busy with looking at the policeman in awe. The way he has tackled the criminal to the ground has been so cool, Hiromitsu wants to be able to do something like that as well. It is Rei who responds to the policeman’s question, although he does that in a rude way, still not trusting the officer in front of him and not willing to let him get close to Hiromitsu. “That’s none of your concern.”

The policeman sighs and pulls a walkie talkie out of his holster. Then, he calls one of his colleagues, explaining the situation to them and asking them to come pick up the children inside the pavilion and drive them back home. Throughout this conversation, Rei glares at him, whereas Hiromitsu smiles. He is glad that there isn’t any danger around them anymore, except – Hiromitsu pales. His parents will be so mad at him, and Rei will get into even more trouble because he will be blamed for everything.

~~

Hiromitsu and Rei sit inside Hiromitsu’s room, waiting for Rei’s parents to pick him up. It was 1 am, and Hiromitsu’s parents have been furious when a policeman has rung their doorbell to drop the two runaways off. Not just that, Hiromitsu has lied to the policeman, claiming that Rei is his brother just so that Rei’s parents won’t be notified – Something Hiromitsu’s parents have done immediately.

Rei feels guilty for all the trouble he has caused, and he is also afraid of his foster parents’ reaction. He doesn’t want them to be angry, and he doesn’t want them to give him back to the orphanage after six years. If they decide to do that, he won’t be able to see Hiromitsu anymore.

“I’ve decided what I want to become as an adult,” Hiromitsu announces, intending to distract Rei from his worries. Rei looks up to Hiromitsu and doesn’t speak which is an indication that he’s listening and Hiromitsu can go on. He doesn’t make Rei wait and continues. “I’ll join the police and become a Hero of Justice!”
That joke makes Rei smile faintly as he punches Hiromitsu’s arm gently. “Your puns are so lame, Hiromi. Next time you tell me that you’re the light illuminating the dark sky.”
“Am I not doing that already with your dark sky?” Hiromitsu grins mischievously, and Rei punches him again, this time a little hit harder. “Idiot.”
Hiromitsu just laughs it off. His laugh has a contagious effect on Rei, his corners of the mouth also perk upwards. “Anyways, if you want to join the police force, I’ll do the same and become an even better police officer.”

From this day on, Rei and Hiromitsu have a common goal in mind.

~~

The first time Hiromitsu notices that he has a crush on his best friend is at their second year of high school. Both Rei and Hiromitsu are sixteen, and all of a sudden many girls take interest in Rei.

Hiromitsu can’t even blame them for it. The baby fat on Rei’s cheeks is long gone, replaced by some strong lines whereas the skin looks as smooth as it has always done. In addition to that, Rei has started working out and while the girls in their class can only see Rei’s exposed arms during their PE lessons, Hiromitsu has given Rei a few short glances every now and then in the changing room. Knowing how handsome Rei is without his shirt covering his muscles is something that makes Hiromitsu feel victorious, it’s something the girls who have a crush on Rei don’t know. At the same time, thinking about his best friend like that also makes Hiromitsu press his flushed face into his pillow whenever he lies on his bed, his mind wandering to Rei. He had always told himself that it’s just some stupid crush that will go away eventually, but after it doesn’t fade after a few weeks, it dawns on Hiromitsu.

He’s in love with Furuya Rei.

As soon as this thought comes, he buries his hands in his face, feeling his cheeks getting warmer right under his palms. That can’t be. Why now, why Rei? They are best friends, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

And yet, the moral doubts don’t change that fact that Hiromitsu has fallen for Rei. Sure, he has planned on marrying Rei as a child, but that has only been some childish nonsense, nothing that can be taken seriously. In some way or another Hiromitsu has always thought about Rei a lot, but now- The way he thinks about him has become different. Hiromitsu wants to hug Rei and be as close to him as possible, he wants to make him smile more than ever before. And… he wants to kiss Rei, find out how his best friend tastes like.

During middle school, Hiromitsu has had two girlfriends. He has never been truly in love with them, there haven’t been butterflies or fast heart beats involved. The reason why ha has dated those girls was because once the boys have hit puberty, everyone has been interested in girls, making Hiromitsu believe that he has been supposed to fall in love with someone too. He has genuinely liked the girls he has dated, but his feelings for them have never been as strong as the ones he’s feeling for Rei right now. Maybe his girlfriends have been crushes, not real love?

Thinking so much about love makes Hiromitsu’s head hurt. He can’t say for sure what he has been feeling in the past, and he also can’t tell when he has started to develop a crush -and now love- for Rei. The only thing he knows for certain is that there’s no going back now, he has fallen head over heels for the one person whose heart Hiromitsu can’t win over.

~~

“Does Furuya-kun like chocolate?”
Valentine’s Day is drawing near and it’s not the first time a girl has asked Hiromitsu that question. It’s painfully obvious what they are planning on doing, and every time a girls asks Hiromitsu about Rei’s tastes, he just smiles and tells them the exact opposite of what Rei likes.

“Yeah, sure. Furuya loves chocolate, milk chocolate is his favorite,” Hiromitsu smiles at his classmate in front of him. She looks relieved and bows in gratitude, glad to know that her original plan to make chocolate for Rei will work out, possibly even make him consider going out with her.

Except that Rei won’t do that. He hates chocolate, and just like any other present or suggestion made by girls that have asked Hiromitsu for advice, he’ll politely turn them down. Rei is already wondering where all those things he dislikes come from and talk about it with Hiromitsu, while Hiromitsu usually just smiles and says that life is full of weird coincidences.

“You’re the only person who knows me well,” Rei says to Hiromitsu on Valentine’s Day, right after he has avoided as many girls as possible. Now, it’s recess and both have sought escape at their favorite spot at school, a place only they visit regularly because it’s at the backside of the school building. Usually, only delinquents hang around at such places – However, ever since Rei has beat them up for insulting both Hiromitsu and himself, it has become the duo’s private meeting spot during their breaks.
Hiromitsu smiles at Rei, he is happy to hear it that Rei considers him the person who understand Rei the most. “I guess I am.”

“Exactly,” Rei retorts. Much to Hiromitsu’s surprise, Rei suddenly eyes him sceptically and comes closer. Then, he raises his arm – And snips Hiromitsu’s forehead. Rei hasn’t put much force into it, but the surprise moment is enough to make Hiromitsu jerk up slightly. With a hint of annoyance, Rei speaks up again. “So, stop telling girls to gift me things I hate just so you can get a good laugh out of it, idiot.”

“They told you?” Hiromitsu asks, rubbing his forehead although it doesn’t hurt. He hasn’t expected Rei to know about it, and what he has expected even less is that Rei starts grinning out of nowhere. The smirk Rei offers is smug, and Hiromitsu thinks that it suited his handsome face a lot. This air of arrogance makes Rei even sexier, a thought Hiromitsu tries to forget about quickly to prevent himself from letting his mind wander into a dangerous direction.

“They didn’t, but you just did,” Rei admits. Finally, it dawns on Hiromitsu that he has stepped into Rei’s trap. Rei hasn’t known for certain that Hiromitsu has been behind the whole horrible selection of presents. For some reason, Hiromitsu can’t even be upset about having lost to Rei – No, he is still a winner for getting to see Rei’s smug grin.

“You have played me, Zero,” Hiromitsu states, his corners of the mouth raised in amusement. “I should have expected that.”
Rei’s grin widens at Hiromitsu’s words of appreciation. He’s got a lot of pride to begin with, so it’s probably not the best idea to feed his ego even more – However, Hiromitsu doesn’t care. He loves Rei for who he is, no matter how many nasty character traits Rei has got, such as his hot temper and tendency to get annoyed easily, as well as Rei’s grudge toward anyone who questions that he’s Japanese. In the end, those character traits are still part of the person that Rei is as a whole. Without his negative aspects, Rei wouldn’t be Rei, and Zero wouldn’t be Zero.

Hiromitsu can’t believe his eyes as Rei gets a heart box out of his backpack and hands it to him. Unfortunately, it’s the gift from the only girl who has been able to approach Rei before he has disappeared. Then again, can Hiromitsu really call something unfortunate which is a present from Rei, even if he hasn’t made it himself? Not really, even though the chocolate is meant to be a gift from a girl with a crush on Rei and Hiromitsu is not intended to be the receiver, his heart can’t slow down as Rei gives him a Valentine’s Day gift. Actually, Hiromitsu is afraid that his heart will burst out of his chest, and Rei’s words don’t make Hiromitsu calm down at all. “Take it. You know me well and I know you well, so I can tell that you’ll appreciate this chocolate a lot more than I do.”

In that moment, Hiromitsu doesn’t care that he’s blushing. The heat rises to his cheeks and he can’t do anything against it, doesn’t even want to do something against it because he’s feeling great. Rei makes him a Valentine’s Day gift. Rei makes him a Valentine’s gift. This one sentence doesn’t disappear out of his mind, it only manifests itself further. Rei makes him a Valentine’s Day gift.

And while Rei has been able to see through Hiromitsu’s previous scheme of leading every girl to give Rei horrible presents, he isn’t able to see Hiromitsu’s sudden hug coming. As Hiromitsu wraps his arms around Rei and hold him tightly, Rei is speechless – Only for him to kick his best friend’s shin five seconds later and demanding him to let go immediately.

~~

A few weeks after the incident on Valentine’s Day, Hiromitsu and Rei meet up in Rei’s apartment. He doesn’t get along with his foster parents very well, so he has decided to live on his own. Having a single apartment and some privacy is better than hearing the constant nagging of people who think adopting someone means they can order them around.

While other orphans might feel neglected in Rei’s position, he doesn’t want any pity. With Hiromitsu visiting him regularly, he doesn’t feel lonely. In addition to that, Rei is not the type of person who just sulks and feels sorry for himself, he enjoys the silence at home whenever he is alone.

The second year of high school comes to an end, meaning that finals will take place soon. Rei has nothing to worry about, he is one of the smartest second-years at high school. He isn’t afraid of failing one of his exams, and Hiromitsu shouldn’t either. That’s why Rei is surprised once Hiromitsu approaches him and asks whether he can give him some extra lessons. Hiromitsu has never had trouble with keeping track of their classes, it’s new to Rei that Hiromitsu needs some help with studying. In the end, Rei accepts Hiromitsu’s request and agrees on inviting him over to his apartment every day after school.

~~

Hiromitsu and Rei sit on the small table Rei has to offer. His apartment doesn’t have a lot to offer, aside from a small bathroom there is only one room Rei uses as kitchen, bedroom and living room at once. However, Hiromitsu doesn’t mind. If Rei was at his house, they would just hang around Hiromitsu’s small bedroom as well, so the lack of space is no different from the one both teens usually need.

It has been one week ever since Hiromitsu has asked Rei to be his tutor, and so far they have met up every day after school and on the weekend. His parents don’t like that he’s around Rei that much, claiming that Rei is not a good person to be friends with. Their reasoning is that Rei is an orphan, half-Japanese and known for having beaten up his classmates and taking boxing lessons. Hiromitsu has told his parents several times that Rei is kind and the best friend he could wish for, but the worry about their son becoming a delinquent is too strong. In the end, Hiromitsu has simply given up on convincing his parents about the fact that Rei is a wonderful person and rebels every time they try to ground him so he can’t see his best friend.

Due to their hard work, Hiromitsu and Rei are almost done with repeating all the exam-relevant materials. They are currently looking through their math notes, Rei has given Hiromitsu some math calculations he is supposed to solve right after going through the notes. While Rei explains the formulas and when they are used, Hiromitsu listens attentively. He looks at Rei’s lips, sees how they move and tries not to get distracted by them.

Rei is really good at teaching, that’s what Hiromitsu has noticed over the past week. He takes his time to make sure that Hiromitsu can follow him and connects the things he wants Hiromitsu to understand by bringing up things they have learned in the past that build up to the recent things they learn, something not even their teachers do.

Once Rei has finished his lecture, he gives Hiromitsu some time to solve the calculations. A few minutes afterwards, Hiromitsu has finished half of the work sheet and Rei looks over his shoulder to compare Hiromitsu’s solution with the real solutions. There is no error in Hiromitsu’s calculations, something that makes Rei sigh. “Hey, Hiromi. Why do you even ask for my help if you already know everything in the first place?”

“Hmm?” Hiromitsu tilts his head backwards and meets his best friend’s eyes. His lips form a smile as he plays around with Rei a little bit. “What makes you think I already know how to solve these calculations? Maybe you are just a really good teacher.”

Rei’s eyebrows narrow. He knows that something is off, and Hiromitsu knows that Rei is suspicious of him. This is only proven correct by none other than Rei himself who points out the inconsistencies in Hiromitsu’s behavior, almost like a detective solving a case. “Even if I’m a good tutor, you are bound to make some mistakes if you haven’t understood the subject before.”

Taking a seat next to Hiromitsu, Rei continues with his deduction, Hiromitsu no longer forced to tilt his head backwards to have eye contact with him. “Furthermore, you have always been a good student. It’s unlikely that you suddenly need my help with everything you have received good grades for earlier this year.”

Hiromitsu’s bright smile turns into a resigning one. He closes his eyes and sighs quietly, but loud enough for Rei to hear. “As expected, I can’t fool you.”

Rei’s wary eyes are still focused on Hiromitsu, although Hiromitsu doesn’t return the gaze anymore. Something was on Hiromitsu’s mind and Rei doesn’t like seeing his best friend like that, he prefers Hiromitsu when he is carefree and as bright as his name suggests. Hiromitsu looks down, and while Rei wants him to cheer up again, he also wants some answers to Hiromitsu’s strange actions – Even if he needs to push Hiromitsu some more to get them out of him.

“Hiromi, why do you act as if you are dumber than you actually are?” Rei inquires, his voice serious. Then, Hiromitsu opens his eyes – And Rei is shocked to see that a hint of sadness is written in them. His tone of voice bittersweet, Hiromitsu asks Rei a rhetorical question. “You are perfect at figuring out my plans, but you are horrible at figuring out my feelings, aren’t you?”

“Your feelings?” Rei repeats confusedly. He has expected everything, except Hiromitsu suddenly talking about his feelings. What kind of feelings, actually? Hiromitsu hasn’t specified that part yet. Is it possible that…? No, that’s ridiculous. Rei doesn’t want to continue that thought and brushes it off, pushing it into the back of his mind where it hopefully won’t ever surface from again.

With a brave face, Rei covers his own insecurity up and asks Hiromitsu to elaborate on what he means because Rei wants to understand him. The look of someone who has given up doesn’t leave Hiromitsu, and the longer Rei has to look at his best friend being in that state, the more he grows to hate this expression. Eventually, Hiromitsu opens up and tells Rei about his problem.

“I can’t get you out of my head, Zero,” Hiromitsu admits, burying his face in his hands desperately. Rei’s ears perk up, this wording makes all of his alarm bells ring. While the previously abandoned thought surfaces again, against Rei’s will, Hiromitsu goes on. “All I can think about is you and it’s not in a friendship kind of way. At first, I thought it’s just some stupid crush or admiration, but… It’s more than that.”

He groans in frustration and removes his hands from his face. Then, Hiromitsu turn to Rei and makes him see how vulnerable he is at this moment. Rei gulps, and his heart beats faster as his assumption manifests itself even more, only to be proven correct as Hiromitsu drops his whole act puts his cards on the table, no secrets being hidden from Rei anymore. “Goddammit, Rei. I love you. I know I shouldn’t because we are-“

“Shut up!” Rei raises his voice and interrupts Hiromitsu. His hands reach out for Hiromitsu’s collar, only to grab him by it and force Hiromitsu to look straight at him. Rei’s hot temper is boiling up again, presenting itself in a mixture of being upset and angry. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner, you idiot?!”

Hiromitsu is taken aback by the sudden outburst. Rei doesn’t even seem angry at Hiromitsu for thinking about him in a romantical way, nor does he display any form of disgust. No, he is getting worked up over the fact that Hiromitsu has waited so long for the confession. Rei truly manages to make his head spin, and this time not just from the warm feeling that builds up inside his tummy whenever he thinks about Rei.

“I’m- What-“ Hiromitsu’s mind is a mess, he doesn’t understand what’s going on. Not at all. Why is Rei mad at him, again? Nothing makes sense. And everything made even less sense as Rei presses his lips on Hiromitsu’s, making whatever has been left of his working brain cells melt away as well.

At first, the kiss is one-sided, Hiromitsu’s shock too prominent. After a few seconds, he can move again and cups Rei’s cheeks, stoking them with his thumbs and feeling the soft skin under them. He returns the kiss, making a requited one out of it while closing his eyes to feel Rei’s lips even more intensely. Hiromitsu is trying to remember every detail of the kiss, he wants this memory to burn itself into his mind. Suddenly, it felt like he is having his first kiss again, even though he has shared this event a few years ago with his first girlfriend. However, the kiss between Rei and Hiromitsu – No kiss Hiromitsu has ever had with his girlfriends can compete with it. It almost feels like Rei’s lips have been made to fit right onto Hiromitsu’s.

Rei lets go of Hiromitsu’s school uniform shirt, only to wraps his arms around his neck and pull him closer. Just like Hiromitsu, he has chosen to close his eyes and just gives in to the sensation of feeling a pair of lips on his own. Hiromitsu is right, Rei can be pretty dense about feelings. It has been a wonder that he has noticed his own feelings a while ago, but to think that Hiromitsu returned them – Someone else’s heart isn’t easy to figure out, even for someone as sharp as Rei is.

Eventually, Rei and Hiromitsu have to break apart for air, and Rei is glad to have his cheerful Hiromi back once he opens his eyes and meets with Hiromitsu’s gleaming ones. As Rei returns the gaze, Hiromitsu can’t stop smiling, his cheeky rosy from the feels trip he is currently going through. He’s happy, and seeing Hiromitsu happy also brings a kind smile to Rei’s face.

“You’re so cute,” Hiromitsu beams, suddenly shattering the smile on Rei’s face. Being back to glaring at Hiromitsu, Rei curses that his best friend knows how to kill the mood unintentionally. Quickly, Rei takes Hiromitsu’s notes, rolls them up and hits Hiromitsu’s head with them. “Call me cute again and you will regret it.”

The attack with his own math notes hasn’t been able to make Hiromitsu’s wide grin falter. Rei already makes his hormones go wild, but Rei kissing him creates a whole, wonderful chaos inside Hiromitsu that he isn’t willing to organize. No, he is feeling too great to get a hold of himself.

Hiromitsu extends his arms and places his hand on the top of Rei’s head, only to ruffle his blond hair and grin mischievously. “Fine, you are handsome and strong. Not cute at all.”

Even a deaf person would have been able to tell that Hiromitsu is just teasing Rei instead of meaning what he has said. Hiromitsu considers Rei cute, and nothing can change that – Not even Rei’s deadly glare, followed by Rei pushing Hiromitsu on the ground, swearing that he is going to kill him but actually end up exchanging more kisses with him, one more demanding than the other one.

This night, Hiromitsu sends his parents a short message that he’s going to stay a night at Rei’s apartment to cram for school some more. Of course, that has been a lie to cover up the fact that Hiromitsu just wants to occupy Rei’s lips. It takes him a lot of self-control and respect for Rei to stop himself from going any further than that.

~~

Luckily for both Hiromitsu and Rei, nobody is able to figure out that they are dating. Rei doesn’t have contact with his foster parents and Hiromitsu has stopped talking more than necessary about Rei with his parents. Hiromitsu is tired of their constant ranting about Rei, and he has given up on changing their minds about his best friend and secret lover.

At school, nothing much has changed after they have started a relationship. Rei and Hiromitsu still behave like best friends, like there is nothing more going on between them. Hiromitsu keeps tricking the girls who have a crush on his boyfriend and makes them do the exact opposite of what Rei likes when they approach him. Technically, it’s not necessary to do that anymore because Hiromitsu knows for certain that Rei only has eyes for him. However, Hiromitsu teaches the girls hitting on Rei a lesson despite knowing that Rei won’t leave him for them. Whenever another girl approaches him with gifts, Rei complains about it to Hiromitsu and tells him to stop this nonsense – And yet, the thought of Hiromitsu being protective and wanting him all for himself also makes Rei feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Not that he would openly admit that, though.

Despite having been a couple for almost a year and being comfortable around each other, Rei notices Hiromitsu’s strange behavior at the end of their third year. He absent-mindedly stares out of the window during classes and becomes nervous at Rei’s touches, touches that have never bothered him before – Quite the contrary, Hiromitsu has always returned them gently, treating Rei like he’s the most precious thing on the whole wide world.

One day, Rei has had enough of Hiromitsu’s sudden change and decides to find out what occupies his head so much. While both are doing homework together at Rei’s apartment, he asks Hiromitsu to give him his mobile phone to look something up since he doesn’t know where he has placed his own mobile. Not suspecting a thing, Hiromitsu hands Rei the device and continues writing an essay for biology.

Rei can’t believe that Hiromitsu hasn’t deleted his search history. Once Rei takes a look at it, it dawns on him what has been on Hiromitsu’s mind so much. Quickly, Rei looks up something regarding a protein that’s mentioned in the text their teacher has handed out. Not closing the website he has opened so Hiromitsu will believe that Rei has indeed just looked up something school-related, Rei hands the mobile back to its original owner.

They continue writing their essays, but now it’s not just Hiromitsu who gets side-tracked. Rei forces himself to finish his work, he has always been ambitious and wants to get perfect results. Letting his mind wander into another direction is not welcomed while he is supposed to do something else. And yet – Rei looks over to Hiromitsu and studies his face. Hiromitsu and Rei will turn eighteen soon, so there should be no problem about it, right? After all, Rei has thought about this a lot too, but to think that Hiromitsu has actually done some research surprises him.

Suddenly, Hiromitsu looks up. He has noticed Rei’s staring and asks him is something is the matter. The curious expression in Hiromitsu’s eyes was enough to make something inside Rei snap. Although Rei has sworn not to interrupt his work for something else seconds ago, his essay doesn’t matter while the person he loves the most gives him some attention.

Neglecting his homework, Rei stands up and walks around the table, a task that doesn’t even cost Rei five minutes, and comes to a halt right in front of Hiromitsu. Then, Rei sits down and faces his boyfriend who still has no clue of what Rei was doing. “Zero, what-“

“I don’t mind,” Rei interrupts Hiromitsu. If possible, Hiromitsu’s confusion grows. Therefore, Rei takes a deep breath and elaborates, not bothering to make his words sound less bold. “I don’t mind having sex with you. Actually, I’d like to get to the next level.”

Hiromitsu is baffled at this direct statement. His eyes wide, he stares at Rei in shock, a blush creeping on his cheeks. Rei uses this moment of surprise and takes Hiromitsu’s hands in his own, only to lean forward and steal a kiss while closing his eyes. Soon, Hiromitsu gets a hold of himself and returns the kiss, the nervousness he has shown around Rei for the past two weeks almost completely gone and replaced by determination.

This night, Rei has spent his first time with the person he trusts and loves the most.

~~

Hiromitsu’s hands wanders under Rei’s blue shirt and moves around his back, drawing some circles on it and feeling Rei’s warm skin right under his fingertips. Rei’s lips are captured by Hiromitsu, and they have their eyes closed while lying on Rei’s bottom bunk bed inside the dormitory they share with two other people who are currently outside.

Right after both Rei and Hiromitsu have finished high school, they have joined the police academy. Hiromitsu’s wish to become a person who can protect his country hasn’t changed over the years, if anything it has only manifested itself further. His whole enthusiasm and love for Japan has affected Rei too, and thus the wish to join the police academy has spread like a disease, only to give Rei a new goal he can fight for. He loves Japan, and the fact that he is only half-Japanese and still looked down upon by his colleagues for it doesn’t change his will to keep going and support the country he associates himself with.

Being half-Japanese is troubling enough for Rei, keeping his relationship with Hiromitsu a secret is even trickier. They have been lucky enough to be sorted into the same room, even though Matsuda and Hagiwara are also sharing it with them. In the two months they have been part of the police academy, their schedule and being surrounded by other people almost the whole times gives the couple little time on their own. Moments like this one when they can just lie down in one on their beds and make out don’t happen often, and it makes them treasure them even more.

Just as Hiromitsu is about to place his hand on Rei’s ass and deepen the kiss, footsteps sound through the floor. Groaning quietly -Hiromitsu wants to do so much more to Rei, he can life without having sex with him for a while but not being able to kiss him is torture- Hiromitsu breaks apart and places a quick kiss on Rei’s forehead before he climbs up the small ladder on bunk bed to get on his own mattress. As Matsuda and Hagiwara enter the room and greet the pair, Rei and Hiromitsu act like nothing has happened and greet back.

The four of them talk about how today’s training has went for each one of them until Matsuda changes to topic to the ‘hot’ female instructor that has helped him with his stance during their firearm shooting training. Hiromitsu laughs along with Hagiwara about Matsuda’s story, whereas Rei just rolls his eyes but smiles as well. There aren’t that many people he likes, and while he can’t trust his two dorm mates completely yet, he feels comfortable around them and considers them to be people he likes to hang around with – Even if their presence means that he can’t get closer to Hiromitsu than two best friends usually do.

~~

“You won’t believe what I’ve just been told.”
Hiromitsu enters the dormitory with a huge grin on his face, a grin that is even too big for Hiromitsu’s standards and makes Rei wonder what has managed to get his boyfriend into such a good mood. Hiromitsu sits down next to Rei on the bottom bunk bed and cups his left cheek with his right hand, only to lean in and place a kiss on Rei’s mouth. Rei paces his own right hand on Hiromitsu’s neck and pulls him closer, his ears perking up to pick up every single sound coming from the floor that might indicate that someone is about to walk in on them like that.

Rei leans against the wall in his sitting position and Hiromitsu presses him lightly against it, his lips hungrily asking Rei for more. Rei opens his mouth and allows Hiromitsu to slip inside, their tongues playing with each other. While they exchange a demanding kiss, Hiromitsu sneaks his hand under Rei’s shirt and trails the prominent muscles on his abdomen. As his fingers wander to Rei’s crotch, Rei gasps into the kiss – And he has to stop Hiromitsu right there because he was getting too much into it.

“Hiromi, that’s enough,” Rei pants slightly after he has placed his palms on Hiromitsu’s chest to push him off. It’s not like Rei doesn’t want to, quite the contrary: He enjoys those touches a lot, and the way his body is turned on by Hiromitsu’s actions only emphasize this further. However, they cannot allow themselves to be seen like that. With some light kisses, Rei can act like nothing has happened after breaking apart with Hiromitsu quickly. If Hiromitsu’s touches give him a boner and take his breath, his cheeks getting rosy – Well, that’s not easy to explain, even if Hiromitsu and Rei were to sit on opposite sides of the room when someone enters their dormitory.

“Oh, that’s right,” Hiromitsu beams at Rei, remembering that he still needs to tell him the good news. After placing another kiss on Rei’s lips, this time a rather short one, Hiromitsu starts to explain his actions. “Hagiwara has just told me that we don’t have to wait for Matsuda and him for our poker round this evening, they have a three-hour-long bomb disabling lesson that should begin right now.”

Rei takes his pillow and hits Hiromitsu with it, making Hiromitsu laugh lightly while Rei looks at his with furrowed eyebrows. “Idiot, why didn’t you say so sooner?!”
Not defending himself against Rei’s pillow attack -Rei isn’t actually hurting him, and Hiromitsu still thinks that it’s cute to see Rei’s hot temper boiling up- Hiromitsu keeps laughing. “I wanted to tell you about it right away, but when I saw you I felt like kissing you first.”

It is a mystery to Rei how Hiromitsu manages to piss him off and flatter him quickly afterwards within the span of a few seconds. However, he can’t really be mad at the man he loves. Hiromitsu is an idiot, has always been one, but he makes Rei happy and that’s what counts. Although Hiromitsu’s puns are the lamest Rei has ever heard, he was right with one of them: Hiromitsu is Rei’s light and makes his day brighter, every day.

Eventually, Rei drops the pillow right back where it belongs to and jumps off the bed to walk over to the door. With a quick flick of the wrist, he turns the key around and locks the only way leading into their room. If neither Matsuda nor Hagiwara will show up for a while, Hiromitsu and Rei won’t have to make excuses for locking their room.

After that is done, Rei returns to his bed and sits down right in front of Hiromitsu. Hiromitsu gets the signal and smiles at him, his hands reaching out for Rei’s light blue shirt to unbutton it. As soon as Rei’s neck is exposed after the first few buttons have been opened, Hiromitsu kisses Rei’s crook of the neck, wandering deeper with every unbuttoned button which exposes even more skin. Once Hiromitsu is done with the last button, he slides Rei’s shirt down his shoulders and throws in on the ground. Rei moans lightly when Hiromitsu places his lips around his nipple and licks on it, only to start nibbling when it becomes hard.

Gently, Hiromitsu places his hands on Rei’s sides and pushes him down onto the mattress until Rei was lying down, Hiromitsu towering over him. He lets go of Rei’s nipple and lifts his head to meet Rei’s gaze. Rei is giving him his bedroom eyes – And now, it is impossible to back down. If Rei looks at him like that, Hiromitsu won’t be able to resist. He loves Rei, loves him so much that no human language can express how strong his feelings for him are.

Since Hiromitsu can’t express the full potential of his feelings with words, he tries to do it with his actions and kisses Rei, putting as much love in it as possible. His left hand is holding Rei’s chin up while his right hand slides down Rei’s torso, down to his abdomen -oh, these muscles Hiromitsu feels right under his fingertips- and eventually arrives at Rei’s pants. It’s been so long since the last time Hiromitsu has opened them, and he hasn’t forgotten how to do it with one quick movement of his fingers. After this has been done, Rei lifts his hip so Hiromitsu can interrupt the kiss to pull Rei’s pants down to his ankles and take them off along with Rei’s socks.

Now, the only fabric left on Rei’s body is the one of his boxers. Hiromitsu takes a good look at the body right under him, having memorized every detail long ago but never able to get enough of the sight. Rei is handsome, and Hiromitsu wants him to know that, even if Rei calls him a stupid romanticist every time Hiromitsu makes him compliments. Speaking his thoughts out loud and bringing a faint smile on Rei’s lips always makes it worth being called an idiot, and in the end Hiromitsu doesn’t mind being and idiot as long as he is Rei’s idiot.

There is a small bulge in Rei’s boxers, and Hiromitsu has to admit that making out with Rei doesn’t leave him unaffected either. His body feels warm, not because of the room temperature but because Rei makes him feel that way. Hiromitsu has waited for this opportunity so long, and now that Hagiwara and Matsuda are busy for three hours, he has all the time in this world to make Rei feel good, just like he deserves.

Hiromitsu takes Rei’s wrists and places his hands on his shirt. Rei understands what Hiromitsu asks him to do and starts unbuttoning the shirt while Hiromitsu bends down to catch Rei’s lips in yet another kiss. He nibbles and sucks on Rei’s bottom lip, earning a gasp in return. Hiromitsu wants more of that, so he moves his hands down to Rei’s hips, follows the rim of Rei’s boxers with his fingertips and slides them down. From this angle, Hiromitsu can’t see Rei’s penis, but his right hand embracing it and Rei’s moans as he does so tell him that Rei is hard.

For a split second, Hiromitsu has to remove his right hand as Rei takes his shirt off. As soon as that is done, Hiromitsu removes his lips and looks into Rei’s eyes. Luckily, he cannot see any hint that Rei wants him to stop, so Hiromitsu slides his hands under Rei’s back and heaves him up against the wall. Then, Hiromitsu takes Rei’s shaft in both hands and holds his penis in one position while he moves his head down.

Rei can already see what is about to happen coming, but knowing that Hiromitsu’s lips will be placed around his glans doesn’t make him moan and less once Hiromitsu does just that. The lust pumping through his veins makes Rei dig his fingers into Hiromitsu’s shoulders, and the force he does that with only increases when Hiromitsu uses his tongue to lick Rei’s glans, accompanied by small sucks every now and them. It drives Rei insane and he wants more of it, so he uses his hands to push Hiromitsu’s head down. Hiromitsu obliges and takes not only Rei’s tip, bus also a part of his shaft into his mouth while his fingers move up and down on the part that isn’t inside Hiromitsu’s warm mouth cavity.

Rei’s moans and gasps are the best melody inside Hiromitsu’s ears, even better than the tunes he can produce with his bass guitar after several years of training and playing it for Rei. Rei’s voice is the only sound Hiromitsu is gladly addicted to, and he moves his fingers faster to hear more of it, wants Rei to be louder despite the risk of being heard on the floor.

Hiromitsu can feel that Rei is about to come, precum already leaking out of his glans and being licked off and swallowed by Hiromitsu, making Rei’s head spin in the process. He wants more, wants Hiromitsu inside him just like they have done several times at the end of their last year of high school. However – Now, he can’t hold back. Rei isn’t able to keep himself from coming. “Ngh… H-Hiro..mi-“

Hiromitsu can’t exactly tell him that everything is alright and he can just come with Rei’s dick inside his mouth, so he just keeps on sucking and adds some more pressure to his fingers. While Hiromitsu’s fingers are busy massaging Rei’s penis, Rei digs his fingers into Hiromitsu’s hair, tugging on it forcefully as he comes with a loud moan, releasing his semen into his boyfriend’s mouth. He gasps for air while watching Hiromitsu pull back and swallow the cum, a sight that looks strangely arousing to Rei.

Hiromitsu closes in and kisses Rei’s cheek. It is warm, but so is Rei’s whole body due to his orgasm. Hiromitsu can’t help but smile as he sees Rei like this, and he moves his mouth right next to Rei’s left ear. “I love you, Zero.”

Rei places his hands on Hiromitsu’s cheeks and turns his head around to kiss him. Naturally, Hiromitsu returns the kiss, his fingers tracing Rei’s collarbone, a touch that makes Rei shiver. Meanwhile, Rei’s hands move from Hiromitsu’s cheeks to his neck and pull him closer, deepening the kiss. As they part ways, Rei’s hot breath hits Hiromitsu’s lips. “You haven’t come yet.”

“You can’t get another erection just yet,” Hiromitsu replies, knowing fully well about the refractory time a man needs after an orgasm. Despite being a little bit out of breath, Rei grins smugly at Hiromitsu and removes one hand from his neck to place it on Hiromitsu’s bulge in the pants. “One thing does not exclude the other one.”

Hiromitsu closes his eyes and lets the sensation of Rei’s fingers wash over him. His boner pressing against his uniform pants hardens even more at Rei’s touches. Hiromitsu has planned on waiting for Rei to be able to get an erection again, but it seems like Rei doesn’t want Hiromitsu to cool down without giving him a hand first, literally.

~~

It takes Hagiwara and Matsuda six months to figure out that Rei and Hiromitsu are dating. Once they do, Rei throws his pillow at a laughing Matsuda who has been teasing him for it. Since that isn’t enough to make the bigmouth shut up, Rei walks over to Matsuda puts the pillow on Matsuda’s mouth, only to be pulled back by Hagiwara and Hiromitsu.

Hagiwara laughs and helps Matsuda up while Hiromitsu wraps his arms around Rei and hugs him from behind, both because he enjoys the closeness and because he wants Rei’s hot temper to calm down. He rests his chin on Rei’s shoulder while Rei glares at Matsuda who pouts overdramatically.

Despite Rei’s little attack that hasn’t been meant to harm Matsuda seriously, the atmosphere is a lot lighter ever since Matsuda and Hagiwara know the truth. The fact that Hiromitsu and Rei are a couple doesn’t change their opinion on them, being entrusted with their secret only strengthens the friendship between these four.

“I don’t mind, but please no lewd man-on-man action while I’m in the room,” Matsuda has snickered that day, only for Rei to throw another pillow straight into Matsuda’s face.

~~

“Hey, Zero. Can you hand me the rice?”

The quartet is seated around their usual table inside the cafeteria inside the police academy. Hiromitsu points at the bowl of rice which he can’t reach without standing up, so Rei extends his arm and offers Hiromitsu the object of interest. Gratefully, Hiromitsu smiles at Rei who returns it immediately, although his smile is not as bright as the one of his beaming boyfriend, which doesn’t mean that Rei is any less happy. He is just more modest at showing his affection.

“I see, your nickname is Zero?” Hagiwara puts a hand on his chin, thinking about the nickname which he has heard for the first time during the six months he knows Rei and Hiromitsu. Before their relationship has been exposed, Rei and Hiromitsu have called themselves by their last names around other people, wanting to appear as professional as possible. Now, they have dropped the formalities whenever they are talking to Hagiwara and Matsuda. Hagiwara’s corners of the mouth twitch upwards knowingly. “It’s because the number zero can be read as Rei, isn’t it?”

Hiromitsu places an arm around Rei’s shoulder and nods toward Hagiwara to prove his theory correct. “That’s right, I’ve been calling him Zero for ages.”
With a full mouth, Matsuda starts speaking gibberish, and Hagiwara elbows him followed by a reprimand to show some table manners and swallow first. Matsuda does as he has been told and repeats what he has wanted to say, this time without some food blocking his words. “Guess you are Zero to us now.”

Rei glares at Matsuda and speaks up, his voice almost as sharp as the expression in his eyes. “No, only Hiromi is allowed to do that.”
Immediately after he has dumped Matsuda, Matsuda places the back of his hand on his forehead and sighs dramatically. While he is doing so, he complains about Rei’s behavior to Hagiwara and Hiromitsu. “Haah, Furuya is picking favorites again. I can’t believe he’s so cruel, has he played hard to get with you too, Morofushi?”

Hiromitsu chuckles at Matsuda’s behavior and is ready to answer is question, but Rei covers his mouth quickly to avoid any details from being spilled. He doesn’t mind Matsuda and Hagiwara knowing more about them, but as long as Matsuda is poking fun at him -even though it is just friendly teasing- Rei refuses to tell Matsuda more about himself. In that regard, he is stubborn.

“Furuya Rei-san?”

Suddenly, a voice speaks up behind Rei, making him turn his head around and shake Hiromitsu’s arm off. Sceptically, he musters the newcomer who he can only describe as eyebrows and toothpick. Nevertheless, he answers matter-of-factly. “That’s me, can I help you somehow?”

The man just grins widely, his toothpick moving upwards along with his corners of the mouth. Then, he introduces himself to Rei specifically. “Name’s Date Wataru, and I suppose we are rivals now.”

With this announcement, Date Wataru has smuggled his way into the quartet which becomes a squad soon known as the naughty pals who ace at pulling pranks just as much as they ace their exams, Date and Rei constantly striving to be the best one of their year. While Rei manages to get the best results in his exams, Date wins every single poker round with Rei failing majorly and being forced to pay for all the drinks.

~~

Eventually, graduation day arrives after ten months of hard training. The official celebration is followed by the naughty pals moving their party to their favorite pub. While Matsuda is hitting on two women, Date and Hagiwara get wasted in a drinking contest. They have already reached their limits, but neither of them is willing to let the other one win.

Usually, Rei would just roll his eyes at such a behavior. However, this day is too special for him to get annoyed. Rei is one step closer to his dream, he wants to serve his country and protect it as much as he can. Nothing can ruin his graduation from the police academy which feels way more special than the one from high school.

He looks over to Hiromitsu who has placed his hand on Rei’s under the table. With a smile, Rei remembers the things Hiromitsu has always spouted as a child. “I guess you can officially call yourself a hero of justice now.”
Hiromitsu meets Rei’s eyes and chuckles lightly, the same memories coming back to his mind as well as Rei brings the events from the past up. “Now you are the one who is making bad puns.”

~~

Unfortunately, Rei’s and Hiromitsu’s choice in career paths are different, forcing them to spend less time together. Rei sets his sight on the National Police Agency, while Hiromitsu is keen on joining the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s Public Security Bureau.

At first, meeting each other on a regular basis is difficult. Starting a new career means a lot of hard work to get adjusted, gain trust and make a positive impression on colleagues and superiors. Luckily for Hiromitsu and Rei, they are both adamant and live up to the higher-ups’ expectations, even though Rei in particular has been criticized for his work at first – And he knows that that’s just the case because he looks different, his foreign heritage obvious by the first look people take at him. He doesn’t even want to know which problems the reveal of his sexuality would cause.

One year after joining the PSB and NPA respectively, Hiromitsu invites Rei to dinner over at his place. It’s Rei’s birthday, so he isn’t surprised that Hiromitsu wants to spend an evening with him. What he hasn’t expected, though, is that Hiromitsu proposes to move together.
“We’ve been together for three years now,” Hiromitsu adds as an argument, trying to convince Rei of his idea. He smirks at Rei’s perplexed expression and reaches out for Rei’s hand which was resting on the small table Hiromitsu has decorated with a single candle and rose for their dinner. If Rei wanted to, he could just put on a poker face – However, he doesn’t do that, not around Hiromitsu. Intertwining their fingers, Hiromitsu continues. “After such a long time, I’m sure that you are the right person for me. I want to be able to see you as much as possible, with two separate apartments that’s rather tricky. If your colleagues should find out that we are living together, you could just say that we are sharing a flat to cut down on living expenses.”

Rei hesitates. He has shared a dormitory with Hiromitsu for ten months, but living together is something entirely different. During their time at the police academy, they have never received much privacy, not even inside their own room. Then again, Rei loves Hiromitsu and has even moved out of his foster parents’ house after they have found out about Rei’s interest in him, causing stress inside the place Rei has used to call his home.

Eventually, Rei squeezes Hiromitsu’s hand and gives him a small smile. “I guess we can try it out.”

He doesn’t regret this decision for three years. Not even as he returns home from a long day at work and finds a note from Hiromitsu asking Rei to forget about him.

Rei hopes that this note is just a stupid prank, but after Hiromitsu doesn’t arrive at their shared apartment for a week and refuses to answer Rei’s text messages and calls, it dawns on Rei that the man who has claimed not too long ago that he would like to marry Rei if it was possible in their country has left him alone.

Angrily, Rei crumples the note and throws it across the room, right into the trashcan.