Two hours past noon, there came a quiet knock at Kei's door. He paid no attention to it, just as he ignored the hollow growl echoing through his stomach. The sun was warm on his knuckles, and the music was flowing in his head; a beautiful river of sound that channeled through his pen and onto sheet after sheet of crisp white paper. It was rare that he found himself so productive at this time of day, and was a pleasant change when inspiration typically struck during the chill hours after midnight.
Two minutes later, the knock sounded once again. Louder this time, the sharp rap of knuckles disrupted the sweet strains playing out in black and white at Kei's fingertips. Irritation curled his lip and his hand stopped in its task. Ink bled from the tip of his pen, dissolving the tiny symbol so newly set to paper.
Frustrated, he pushed back his chair. The cry of its wooden legs against the floor shattered what little remained of his hold on the piece and Kei grit his teeth as he capped his pen. He ran a hand through his hair as he stood, pushing back the stubborn wisps of black and trying not to let his frustration build into anger.
"Who is it?" Kei called out, and opened the door with more force than was required.
His anger shattered and left surprise in its stead. The stairway cast dark blocks of shadow across the face of the young man who waited politely on his step, but there was no mistaking that gentle sweep of light brown hair. Morimura Yuki, first violinist, and the continuing object of his desire, had come calling....
Recovering quickly, Kei inclined his head courteously and invited his visitor inside. There was a slight pause in Yuki's step as he crossed the threshold, and another mark of hesitation when the door clicked shut; Kei pretended not to notice either.
Yuki's gaze flickered around the small room, never lighting on Kei, and finally settled on the window above Kei's desk. He had moved only far enough into the apartment to allow the door to close comfortably, and Kei longed to reach out and run his knuckles against the graceful line of the young man's jaw.
Instead, Kei pushed the sleeves of his shirt up past his elbows and folded his arms over his chest. "What brings you here, Yuki?" he asked.
"I wanted to apologize," Yuki replied.
One thin, dark eyebrow swept upward. "For?"
Yuki's right hand curled into a fist and he bowed his head. "For missing practice last night," he responded quietly.
"Fujimura-san explained your absence," Kei said, shrugging his shoulders.
The back of Yuki's neck flushed pink and he turned abruptly to face Kei. "I was not feeling as poorly as I let him believe," he admitted. The young man kept his eyes to the floor, but Kei could see that the blush had crept upwards onto Yuki's face.
Kei's lips thinned into a line and he stepped forward, taking hold of Yuki's chin and forcibly lifting the man's head up in one smooth move. Yuki's dark lashes fluttered behind the thin lenses of his glasses and his pupils tightening. Kei wished it were possible to know a person's thoughts simply by looking into their eyes. Why was Yuki really here and what exactly was he afraid of?
Kei had heard Yuki play once. It was at a time when Yuki had thought himself alone, and the young man had poured into his music all the sweetness and tenderness he kept hidden in his heart. The beauty of it tormented him still, even more so than the memory of the violinist's soft skin beneath his lips.
There was the potential of greatness in Yuki -- as there was in the rest of the orchestra. It was a greatness simply waiting to be nurtured; buried there, beneath the layers Yuki had created to show to the world. Kei brushed his thumb against Yuki's cheek, the confession and purpose of the young man's visit nearly forgotten to him.
The moment stretched long, and longer still, until it was as hazy as the late afternoon sunlight that set the hardwood floor to glowing beneath their feet. "You can choose to leave," Kei said, at last. Pushing too hard might crush that delicate talent before it could truly blossom.
"I don't know if I want to," Yuki replied haltingly. His fine brows drew together and a series of quick, nervous breaths escaped his parted lips.
"I won't hold you to something you don't-"
"I am here by my own choice!" Yuki said, his hand closing to fists at his side.
Kei was no longer so certain that they were speaking of the orchestra. He fought to control himself and the impulse to crush his lips to Yuki's. If he jumped to conclusions again he might lose his hopes for - with - Yuki entirely. Hiding the smile that tried to surface, Kei released Yuki's face and nodded towards his desk.
"Come then, there's something I want to show you," Kei said, going and grabbing a stack of paper.
Yuki took a deep breath and followed slowly. His natural curiosity won over, and with a schoolboy's eagerness, his eyes skimmed the sheets of music. "A new piece?" he said, looking up at Kei.
Kei nodded and handed him all but the last page.
A line of concentration formed between Yuki's brows as the young musician ran the composition through his head. "Beautiful," he murmured under his breath. His shoulders were tense beneath the crisp white of his shirt, muscles keen to bring the notes to life.
"Come again tomorrow with your violin and play it for me?" Kei asked.
It was a long time before Yuki answered. The paper whispered as he set it down carefully on Kei's desk. "May I," he began quietly, adjusting the stack with trembling fingers, "go and get my instrument now?"
Kei sat on the corner of his desk. "You might as well," he said, and pushed back another stubborn bit of hair with the back of his wrist. "You've already interrupted my work for the day."
As Yuki turned to leave, his eyes went to the page Kei still held and the blot of ink that meant it needed to be rewritten. "Forte?" he guessed.
Kei spared a small smile and ushered Yuki to hurry with a wave of the paper. "Not anymore," he said.