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Right from the start Kaname had figured it had to be love.

He considered the matter as he sat at the breakfast table with his squabbling family, sipping quietly at a bowl of miso while the usual pandemonium raged around him. There was no other explanation for this compulsive need for Kotori's company, not after spending his entire life craving just five minutes' worth of peace. Usually other people made his head hurt - Kaname had been hemmed in since birth by his absurdly proud parents and this raucous mob of X chromosomes - but somehow the idea of getting close to Kotori had nagged inside him until he'd found himself standing outside the Karasawa home one afternoon like a lost and hungry dog.

Kaname still craved privacy, but now he wanted it for the both of them. That was easier said than done.


Once the guys in 2-1 had got it through their thick, pretty skulls that Kaname was intent on infiltrating Kotori's underpants, their bodyguard duties had developed a gravity worthy of the Imperial Guard. They travelled the school corridors in a pack with Kotori at its cheerful, oblivious heart, leaving Kaname scowling in their wake. Chikage usually took point, sweeping the halls like an Akaiwa-seeking missile, while Watase hung off Kotori's back as an enthusiastic and impenetrable six. Raizo and Iwao had Kotori's flanks, sandwiching their class mascot between stern discipline and juvenile delinquency, while Osamu and Daichi ran noisy interference and Yukio skulked in the shadows. Kaname might have approved of their protectiveness had it not been directed squarely against him.

He seethed as he watched Watase's bangs brush against Kotori's skin, itching to yank the pretentious, overgrown hair from Watase's scalp. Watase must have felt the heat of his glare because he peeked over his shoulder, smiled slyly in Kaname's direction, and nuzzled his nose beneath Kotori's ear, rousing a yelped protest from Kotori and a killing urge in Kaname's soul. Watase only laughed as Kotori batted him away, and Kaname wondered why the hell (despite more than ample provocation) Chikage never offered to rip Watase a new one; instead Kaname had to content himself with the sight of Iwao smacking Watase far too gently upside the head.

Somehow the pack transported Kotori from the school gates to their homeroom without once acknowledging Kaname's existence, and Kaname was about to take advantage of the empty corridor to punch his locker door in when two thin arms crept about his waist, a familiar weight pressed into his back, and a voice whispered, "Good morning, Akaiwa."

Kaname dropped his head and bit his bottom lip against a silly grin that Kotori couldn't even see. "You made a quick getaway, did you?"

"Really quick," said Kotori, squeezing him like a stuffed animal. "The bell's about to ring."

"I know." Kaname snuck his fingers between Kotori's and pulled him even closer. "Do you think you might be able to escape at lunchtime?"

He could feel the butt of Kotori's brow between his shoulder blades as Kotori nodded vehemently. "The bathroom by the darkroom?"

"Only if you promise not to pull another Cinderella on me." The bathroom mirrors might have been smashed, but Kaname wouldn't put it past some other ghostly pervert to make off with his boyfriend and leave a damned hallway slipper behind.

"I'll be there. Trust me," said Kotori.

"I do," Kaname answered, but he couldn't even hear himself over the peal of the school bell, and then Chikage stomped up to them and manhandled Kotori away, leaving the anxious trail of Kotori's fingertips across his ribcage.


It was a million years until lunchtime, and Kaname wasn't a patient guy. The teacher's voice droned endlessly and the calculus on the board looked even more hieroglyphic than usual, and if Kaname failed every subject this year, he knew exactly where to lay the blame. His brain was stuffed to the brim with thoughts of Kotori and his skin prickled and hummed with the memory of every single time and place Kotori had touched it with his damp, hesitant fingers. In spite of the wash of morning sunlight through the windows, Kaname found himself shivering all over.

The hours crept by with painful slowness as he shifted uncomfortably in his seat and wondered if he would need a strategically placed textbook before he could actually leave the classroom. The annoying thing was that up until now he'd been doing so well at the whole teenager thing: his complexion was mostly clear, his grades were healthy, his classmates never gave him shit, and his hormones kept pretty quiet. Even his hair looked cool, although he had to steal his sister Yuuki's mousse to force it that way. He'd planned to make it through high school drama-free, get out of his overcrowded house and into a decent university, then proceed to a normal life. He wasn't entirely sure what normal life was like, but he'd always figured he was an ideal and more than deserving candidate.

At the back of his mind had lurked the troublesome thought that a normal life might eventually necessitate the presence of a female by his side, but his brain balked so stubbornly at that idea that it had gone almost entirely unacknowledged by himself much less anyone else. Attending an all-boy high school had cut down on the number of confessions he received, so it wasn't like he'd had to come up with many excuses anymore; if anyone questioned his girlfriendless state, he'd had his studies, his part-time job and his natural aloofness to fall back on, without even mentioning the embarrassing fact that he was smothered in sisters. He'd almost believed all that stuff himself, and it was certainly more than enough for his family and friends who seemed to take it for granted that he was just a serious, hardworking, and probably late-blooming boy. He'd been ducking the girl issue so long and hard that it had become his default state.

So it was weird to think how he'd just been sitting alone shuffling handouts in a classroom one day, feeling grateful for any chore that won him a moment's reprieve from the schoolyard chaos, when Kotori had wandered in and chucked all his preconceptions out the window with one cute smile and a beetroot blush. It hadn't actually occurred to Kaname that he might like guys; he'd just kind of assumed that he didn't like anyone. Then Kotori came along, messed up his heart, fired his temper and jump-started his dick, and Kaname couldn't even pretend to be troubled by the fact that his supposed girl issues were actually full-blown boy issues, because at least he was awake now (even if he was on the constant verge of nervous breakdown) and 'normal' was starting to feel like something he was rather than something he had to work for.

It was even okay to get a bit stupid over Kotori. After all, half the school seemed to feel the same way.


He slipped out of the classroom as soon as the lunch bell rang and headed straight for the bathroom; it was pointless trying to meet Kotori in the enemy territory of 2-1. The weather looked glorious, so Kotori's classmates would likely eat outside where they could bask in the sunshine; Kaname hoped that Kotori could sneak away while their guard was down.

He weaved through the milling, chattering crowds in the corridors, doing his best not to catch anyone's eyes as he held his lunch bag squarely in front of his body. Ever since Kotori had invited him over last Saturday in the mistaken belief that they'd have the place to themselves, Kaname had been unable to convince his dick to stay calm. The frustration only made his temper worse; he knew he'd been acting like a jealous asshole and in his occasional sane moments he could see that that Shinobu guy wasn't actually trying to steal Kotori away from him and that no matter how friendly Kotori acted around Chikage's little brother, he probably still liked Kaname best, but somehow the butterflies kept screwing up his stomach. It was bad enough when it was just Kotori's usual friends hanging around him like a barbed wire fence, but at least they weren't into guys. Shinobu and Chihiro, on the other hand, liked Kotori and dick, which meant there was a slim possibility that they might like Kotori's dick, which made Kaname crazy, even when he knew perfectly well that the other guys were crazy about each other and that Kotori's dick belonged to him. Or would. Hopefully.

"Get over it," he muttered, as he swept into the bathroom and stumbled into the nearest stall. It had been a bad week but things had improved in the last couple of days. There were some strange gaps in his memory where he'd probably been stomping around acting like the Incredible Sulk, but somehow he felt more secure about Kotori's affections now. Kotori was loyal, game and surprisingly fierce beneath the shy awkwardness, and he wasn't scared of calling Kaname on his dumb shit anymore. If Kaname could just work up some balls of his own, they might actually start getting somewhere.

He nudged the door shut, leaving the latch released for Kotori, then lowered himself onto the toilet lid with a sigh. There was no telling how long Kotori might be, if he made it at all, so Kaname pulled a rice ball from his lunch bag and took an unenthusiastic bite. Lately romance had been messing up his appetite, but although a bathroom wasn't exactly the place to encourage either, Kotori was worth just about anything.

He soon felt the air pressure shift as the bathroom door opened, and smiled when he recognised the sound of Kotori's slippered feet shuffling towards him. He knew Kotori was a little nervous about this place since the multidimensional kidnapping kimono incident, but at least the bathroom's ghostly reputation (not to mention the stench of stopper from the darkroom next door) meant that people weren't too keen to actually use it. In Kaname's opinion that made it close to paradise.

The stall door swung slowly open, and he pulled his knees up to his chin to make room. Kotori stood before him, head cocked birdlike to one side, and Kaname offered him a hand. Kotori drew closer, shutting and latching the door behind him before looking down at Kaname with a puzzled expression. "You're not eating lunch in here, are you? Akaiwa, that's kind of gross."

"I missed you too," Kaname said, grinning.

"You just saw me this morning, silly."

"Nope. You saw me, remember?" He liked having to look up into Kotori's face like this; Kotori's dark, downcast eyes looked like bruises in the dim light, and his brow was serious and just a little furrowed. Kaname stroked the small hand in his; there was something rawboned about Kotori's fingers, as if he had another growth spurt due, and Kaname wondered if Kotori would eventually be taller than him. Kotori's brother Kujaku was certainly tall, but that didn't mean anything; after seeing Kotori's family albums, Kaname suspected Kotori had been adopted.

"Yeah, I remember. You looked cross again, but I'm getting used to that." Kotori thumbed at the corner of Kaname's mouth, tugging it down into an exaggerated frown. Kaname was about to take a gentle, furtive bite when Kotori pulled his thumb back and popped it into his mouth. "Mm, rice."

Kaname sucked in a quick breath and clenched his knees together tightly. "Did you grab anything to eat on the way? Are you hungry?"

"My stomach's too scrambled," said Kotori, shaking his head. He stared down at his toes, then peered shyly at Kaname from beneath the shelter of his short, sooty eyelashes; Kotori was always babbling about how cool Kaname's own lashes were, but in Kaname's opinion, Kotori's were perfect. "I get to thinking about you, and suddenly it's three hours later, I've missed all the lessons and haven't got anything to show for myself except a notebook full of scribbles that make no sense. You know?"

"Kind of. Except for me it's the opposite, like the whole planet's dragging along in slo-mo until I –" Kaname broke off, feeling his face burn.

"Until you can touch me?" said Kotori, biting his lip and raising their entwined fingers to knuckle gently at Kaname's cheek. "Wow, I guess we really are a couple of hopeless romantic cases."

"Yeah," sighed Kaname, rubbing into the touch. "Impaired capacity, jittery nerves. Total brain malfunction. It's the stuff of TV melodrama. My sisters would be ecstatic if they knew."

"They're not here, though." Kotori had an adorable expression on his flushed face, like bashfulness was fighting it out with impatience and actually losing for a change, which told Kaname just how far they'd come. "No one's here except us. So where's my kiss?"

Kaname thought he might get addicted to this growing assertiveness of Kotori's, if it didn't kill him first. He grinned ruefully. "I'd get up and oblige, but I've been so hard all morning it's embarrassing."

Kotori smiled, looking pleased with both of them. "So get up and kiss me anyhow. It's not like you need to be embarrassed around me, is it?"

"If that's true, then why are we both blushing like crazy?" Kaname asked, but he unwound his stiff legs from their roost and got to his feet with a soft groan, and when that made Kotori giggle, Kaname pinned him back against the door and pressed his dick very deliberately against Kotori's belly.

"Well, now I am!" Kotori yelped, burying his hot face in the crook of Kaname's neck, but Kaname could feel the tight, damp imprint of Kotori's smile against his skin before the lips softened and mouthed at him gently. He loved having Kotori so near, close enough to feel the snuffle of air as Kotori allowed himself the bare minimum of breathing space between them; he loved the silly wet noises they made together as their mouths drew slowly closer, and how familiar and welcome Kotori was starting to feel.

"Hopeless," he said, touching his brow to Kotori's. "You'll just have to put me out of my misery."

"Can I – " Kotori started, then broke off against Kaname's mouth, lulling Kaname with a fervent kiss while two small hands clutched at his hips and dragged him even closer. The door jounced noisily in its hinges as Kaname ground against Kotori, trying to push himself so hard through Kotori's skin that he ended up knocking his head into the coathook on the door and making them both groan and laugh. Kotori stroked his brow. "You made me forget what I was going to say."

"Good," said Kaname, before cupping Kotori's face in his hands and stealing into his mouth again. Kotori's cheeks were downy soft beneath Kaname's thumbs; their tongues shoved wetly together in growing urgency, and Kaname remembered the first time he had kissed Kotori, the way he'd pleaded Can I...just once as if he already knew the futility of hoping that once could possibly be enough, as if he were already done for.

His helpless preoccupation was so thorough that he almost missed the sound of the bathroom window sliding open, but he couldn't ignore the sudden stiffening of Kotori's body as they both heard the snick of a cigarette lighter. "Fuck," Kaname snarled, slamming his palms against the stall door, determined to hold the world back just a little longer. Kotori cringed between his arms, squirming about to press his face to the door, but not before Kaname could see that his healthy flush had darkened to a sick purple that made Kaname want to commit mayhem. He forced one hand to relax long enough to pet Kotori's bowed head and muttered, "With friends like these..."

"That sounds like Iwao's lighter," Kotori whispered. He sounded on the verge of hyperventilation. Kaname brushed a quick kiss against the back of his neck, then scrambled up onto the toilet seat to peer across the stalls. Kotori tugged at his shirttail, pleading, "Don't!" but Kaname was livid now.

"Iwao, is that you down there?" he shouted. Sure enough, he could see a bleached, spiky head leaning against the window and four familiar earrings glinting in the sunlight. Iwao turned from the view outside to meet Kaname's glare with a lazy smile, making him seethe. "When did sneak in, you bastard?"

"Long before you two, I'm afraid," said Iwao, and when Kaname's eyes widened he shrugged almost apologetically. "Skipped fifth period. Guess ya didn't notice me here before."

"That's because you were hiding, you fucking spy."

"Not at all, my anxious friend, not at all. I just come up for a quiet smoke." He drew deeply on his cigarette, then blew a neat ring through the open window. "It's the only safe place in the entire school, ya know."

"Safe, my ass. How much did you hear?"

"Your words of love fell on discreet ears. Still, I felt it was time to make my presence known. Even I can blush."

Kaname bet Iwao had never blushed in his life, the cool bastard. He mentally ran through the last few minutes, trying to recall if there'd been anything said for which he would now need to kill Iwao, but he figured his relentless hard-on wasn't exactly news to anyone. Still. How very fucking embarrassing. And anyone who upset Kotori deserved a good punch in the nose.

"Iwao, you shouldn't be smoking on school property," called Kotori suddenly. He was still clutching Kaname's shirt and although the colour in his face has lessened slightly, he still looked despondent. "I don't want you to get in trouble."

"Don't ya worry, baby bird. The window's wide open." Kaname watched Iwao blow another ring out into the warm air and noticed the way his mocking expression softened as he addressed Kotori even though Kotori could not see it. Kaname thought for the thousandth time how lucky he was to have caught someone like Kotori, who had such a melting effect on everyone around him, and how amazing it was that Kotori should love him right back. It almost made him forgive everyone's interference. "If anyone's gonna set off the smoke alarm, it'll be you two."

Almost. "Just shut the fuck up and leave us alone, Iwao," Kaname spat, wrapping a possessive arm around Kotori, who was huddling against him.

"Won't do ya much good," Iwao said, taking one last drag before stubbing his cigarette and flicking it outside. He shut the window and strolled towards the door. "Chikage's on his way. Man, that guy's uptight."

Kaname gaped, his hand tightening about Kotori. "Do not tell me you were just sending a secret message to Chikage out the window."

Iwao shrugged and smiled. "Fair's fair. He did shout me the cigarettes."

He opened the door and stepped into the hallway with a wave. Outside, Chikage was shouting Kaname's name, and Kotori sighed. "Meet you after school?"

"After school," Kaname promised, releasing Kotori with resignation.


If the morning lasted a million years, the afternoon was like infinity, some incalculable length of time made bearable solely by the fact that Kaname had jerked off in the bathroom while Chikage's admonishments still rang in his ears. It seemed strange and wrong that the nagging and the frustration just made his foolproof Kotori-fucking fantasies even hotter.

By the time last period was over he'd worked himself into such a state of catatonia that he didn't even hear the longed-for bell. One of his classmates clocked him over the head with a broom to remind him of his domestic duties, and he swept through the homeroom like a mad dervish until the others shooed him out in exasperation. He sprinted to the lockers where he found Kotori waiting alone, and then Kotori dropped to his knees, stripped off Kaname's slippers and said, "It must be love. I'm even obsessed with your feet."

Kaname stuttered back into real time, where it took nineteen seconds for Kotori to get Kaname's sneakers on and lace them up while Kaname stared transfixed with pathetic gratitude at the top of Kotori's head and prayed his feet didn't stink.


By some unspoken rule the pack let them be during after-school hours. Maybe they realised that their chaperonage was not required when blood was so much more annoying than water.

At least the walk was peaceful. Kaname and Kotori dawdled side by side through the quiet suburban streets, hands brushing one another in an endless series of shocks. Kaname had learnt to check his stride to accommodate Kotori's shorter legs, and the simple act of restraint still startled him with pleasure each day.

"Shall we try my place?" he asked, without much hope. "If we hurry we might get a bit of time to ourselves. The triplets'll be at soccer club for a while yet."

"Okay," said Kotori, hooking his pinkie finger around Kaname's in agreement, then tugging at his arm. Kaname slowed even more, just for the pleasure of being led, but Kotori tugged harder and soon they were both flying.


At any given moment there was likely to be at least one female underfoot in the Akaiwa household, but as he toed off his shoes in the front hall, Kaname noticed with relief that for the moment only his mother was home. That wasn't great, but it was better than expected; she at least had a habit of knocking before barging into his bedroom. He nudged Kotori towards the kitchen since there was never much point trying to sneak around within these walls; he was always discovered in the end, and usually at the worst possible moment.

"Karasawa-kun!" his mother called cheerfully, waving flour-covered hands; she was a fiend for a cake recipe and had a houseful of sweet-tooths to feed. "How lovely to see you again. I wish Kaname would bring his friends over more often. Anyone would think he was ashamed of his family."

"Enough with the guilt trips," said Kaname, kissing her proffered cheek and trying to avoid smearing his uniform with uncooked cake.

"You're sweaty, Kaname," she said, her eyes narrowing. "Did you run all the way home?"

"In my eagerness to see you again after a long day of school? Of course."

She humphed in genial disbelief, then rapped his hand with her wooden spoon when he dipped his fingertips into the bowl. "Hey, hands off, you barbarian. There's snacks and drinks in the fridge if you boys are hungry."

"Thank you, Akaiwa-san," said Kotori, bowing. "We're sorry to trouble you."

"You're such a good boy," she said, smiling indulgently. "Now, out, out, the both of you, before I start handing out chores."

Kaname shoved Kotori upstairs before he could volunteer to help out - Kotori's domestic instincts cropped up at the most inconvenient times - and herded him into his bedroom. As the only son Kaname had a tiny room of his own, and the walls felt very close as he shut the door behind him, backed Kotori up against his desk and smeared his lips with sweet batter.

"Akaiwa!" Kotori cried, laughing and shaking his head in protest.

"Such a good boy," said Kaname teasingly, sliding two messy fingers into Kotori's mouth before he could reply. Kaname's breath hitched as he watched Kotori's eyes glaze and felt the tip of his tongue stiffen and curl beneath the sensitive pads of Kaname's fingertips. Kotori suckled at his fingers obediently, then hungrily, and Kaname sagged against him, his damp brow pressed to Kotori's, his lips murmuring Kotori's name.

Kotori broke away suddenly. "We can't do anything," he said through smudged, swollen lips. "We can't do anything with your mother downstairs. Akaiwa, don't..."

"Shh," Kaname whispered against Kotori's hot cheek, before swiping his tongue across the sugary moistness of Kotori's mouth. "She'll be busy for at least another twenty minutes with that cake. Trust me."

"I do, but -"

"No buts," said Kaname, cutting off Kotori's reluctant-sounding words with an intent kiss. He knew he was crazy to try this under his own roof, but he just couldn't help himself. It had been months, he was desperate, and he had no idea how he was supposed to keep his hands off Kotori any longer. It was asking the impossible.

Hell, he couldn't even stand up straight anymore. He could feel his swivel chair nudging the back of his knees and sank into it gratefully, dragging Kotori down with him. Their momentum swung them into a circle, and Kaname clutched Kotori tightly to him as they turned in a dizzying, giggly 360. Kotori was splayed beautifully across Kaname's thighs, and Kaname clasped him by the hips, hauling him even closer. "Akaiwa..." Kotori breathed, before Kaname covered his mouth again.

Their panting sounded unnaturally loud in his little room, but the distant clatter of pots and pans in the kitchen told him they were safe for the moment. Experience had taught Kaname to seize even the smallest of chances, and he ground up against Kotori's squirming body in a stubborn effort to stave off the inevitable interruption.

It came sooner than he thought; after what felt like just a few minutes of blissfully awkward, clothing-hampered rubbing, Kaname heard a telltale creak in the hallway outside, followed by two more in quick succession. He had just enough time to grip Kotori about the waist, lift him to his feet and brush the crumples from their jackets when the triplets burst into the room.

"Is that Kotori-kun?" said Tomoko. "We thought we saw a strange pair of shoes downstairs!"

"It is Kotori!" shrieked Yasuko, grabbing Kotori by the hands and swinging him about the room. "Did you come to see us?"

"Well, he sure didn't come to visit grumpy bum, here," said Ryoko, laughing as Kotori was sent careening into her arms. She snatched him up and ruffled his hair, and Kaname wondered if strangling her would be too kind. "So cute!"

"Would you lay off?" he shouted, taking Kotori's wrist and pulling him away from them. "Stop mauling my friend!"

"Aw, Kotori, don't look scared," Ryoko cooed. She seized at Kotori's other wrist until he was stretched between brother and sister like the planet's most adorably bewildered tug-of-war prize.

"Kaname, did we surprise you?" Tomoko asked with a sly grin.

"We were trying to be as quiet as possible, but it looks like you guys were pre-occupied anyhow," said Ryoko. "Kotori, are you ticklish?"

"Wha-?" Kotori didn't get a chance to finish his question before Yasuko dug her fingers under his jacket and into his ribcage while Kaname tried to shove her away without losing his hold. His vision clouded with rage as he heard Kotori squeak.

"Bet he's sensitive," said Tomoko, still smiling as she elbowed Kaname in the stomach.

"Bet Kaname knows, don't you, little brother?" said Yasuko, glancing at him sideways as her hand started to drift lower. Kotori's squeaks suddenly intensified, and the girls roared with delight. "Aw, he's just a baby."

"Leave him the fuck alone!" Kaname yelled. He released Kotori's wrist as he scuffled with Yasuko, giving Ryoko so much unexpected leverage that she fell over with Kotori sprawled on top of her.

"Ryoko wins the prize!" crowed Tomoko.

While Kaname and Yasuko attempted to pull each other's hair out, Ryoko shook with laughter as Kotori apologised and struggled for some sort of purchase that did not involve touching her body in any way. Naturally that was the moment that Miyuki appeared in the doorway and demanded, "What the hell is going on here?"

"It looks like an orgy," said Chieri, peeping over her elder sister's shoulder.

"It's not a fucking orgy!" yelled Kaname.

"Feels like one," said Ryoko, stroking her hands Kotori's heaving chest.

"Ryoko, stop molesting that poor kid," said Miyuki.

"Molesting?" Ryoko cried. "I'll have you know he's just confessed his true feelings for me."

"They're getting married!" announced Tomoko, mock starry-eyed.

"Actually, he looks like he's about to cry," said Chieri thoughtfully.

"Only with joy," Ryoko protested. Kaname escaped Yasuko's flailing hands long enough to realise that Chieri was right. Kotori was about to lose it in front of a bunch of girls, and as far as Kaname was concerned that was pretty fucking unforgivable. No one but him was allowed to see Kotori's vulnerable side, much less provoke it.

"Whatever. Don't you brats have homework to do?" asked Miyuki.

"Homework? It's a Friday afternoon!" said Yasuko, sounding breathless from her struggle with Kaname.

"Exactly. I've got to get ready for a date, and you lot are too noisy," said Miyuki, squeezing past Chieri.

"I'm going out too," called Chieri, as she turned to chase her sister down the hallway. "Bathroom's mine...!"

"I think we're alone now, darling," said Ryoko teasingly, caressing Kotori's fiery cheeks.

"I wish!" snarled Kaname, hooking Kotori beneath the arms and hoisting him off her. Kotori didn't look steady enough to stand on his own two feet - which might have been gratifying had Kaname thought he was the cause - so he sat him down on the swivel chair and then turned to face the triplets. "Why the hell are you all home, anyhow? Shouldn't you be at soccer?"

"Well! We live here too, you know," said Ryoko, getting to her feet and brushing her skirt down.

"Got sent off for rough play," said Yasuko, looking proud of herself.

"And it's a lot more fun kicking you around, little brother," said Tomoko, crossing her arms menacingly.

"Girls, stop tormenting your brother," said Kaname's mother, who was standing in the doorway with an indulgent smile on her face. "You know he likes his space." She shooed them out while they smirked and whined, then turned back and asked, "Would you like to stay for dinner, Karasawa-kun?"

"Uh -"

Kaname broke in, since Kotori looked too shattered to speak. "Sorry, Mom, we're going to head over to Kotori's place tonight, okay? We've got a project to finish, and it's getting urgent."

"Well, all right then," she said, as she walked away, "but I'm baking a cake..."

Kaname quickly closed the door behind her, then knelt in front of Kotori. The hectic colour had washed abruptly from Kotori's face, leaving him looking ashen and disconsolate. "I am so, so sorry," Kaname whispered, rubbing at Kotori's knees, which jerked nervously beneath his hands.

"S'not your fault," Kotori said, placing his own hands over Kaname's. They felt clammy and determined and dear. "I guess you get used to the chaos after living with it long enough."

"You'd think so," Kaname said, sighing. "Maybe we should stay for dinner. Neither of us has eaten much today."

"Really not hungry," said Kotori with a shaky smile that grew stronger as he licked his lips. "I can still taste that batter."

Kaname leaned up, kissed him gently, then licked his own. "Me too," he agreed. "Green tea cake."

The door banged open suddenly and they both turned to see Yuuki standing there brandishing a can at them, her hands on her hips and her curls flying in every direction. "Kaname, have you been using my mousse again?"


As the sky darkened to dusk, they walked slowly towards Kotori's house. Kaname took Kotori's hand and wouldn't let go - and fuck anyone who tried to mess with them - and Kotori's sunny disposition reasserted itself almost too quickly. They talked about school and music and video games, and carefully avoided the subject of their crazy friends and families until Kaname couldn't help but ask, "Do you think your brother'll be there?"

Kotori shrugged. "I don't hear him come in until five this morning, so he probably slept all day."

Kaname didn't say what he thought about a guy who'd leave his little brother alone in the house all night, but he gripped Kotori's hand tighter. At least for all Kujaku's exotic, unpredictable hours and self-centred attitude, there was only one of him. Kaname tried to imagine six Kujakus, but it was a dazzling, unthinkable concept, enough to crack the world.

They could see some lights in the windows as they neared the house. Kotori shot him an apologetic glance, and Kaname said softly, "It's not your fault either."

Kujaku was upon them before they'd had a chance to take off their shoes, and Kaname found himself reeling back despite himself; Kujaku's presence was, as always, kind of staggering. "Where have you been all this time?" said Kujaku as he swept Kotori into his arms. "Did you bring home any food? I'm starving."

"Kuu-chan, you've had all day to shop," Kotori complained, trying without much success to brush Kujaku's hands away.

"But I've been waiting for you." Kujaku was nuzzling at Kotori in a weird, possessive way that made Kaname's fists clench. "You smell sweet. What've you been eating?" His lips were practically on Kotori's before Kotori managed to push him to one side, and then Kujaku's nose dipped to Kotori's throat. "Is that perfume? What on earth have you been up to, Kotori?"

"Nothing," Kotori insisted, shoving his brother away, and Kaname might've laughed at the truth of the statement except that they were now approaching epic proportions of nothing, and there wasn't anything remotely funny about it anymore. "Kuu-chan, if you're hungry, why don't you call for pizza? Akaiwa and I have a lot of homework do."

"Akaiwa-kun," said Kujaku in a surprised tone, as if he'd just noticed Kaname's presence. Kaname bowed in greeting and had barely straightened before Kotori was pushing him upstairs, leaving Kujaku at the foot of the stairs calling, "Do you guys want help? Kotori, you know you can ask me anything..."

They fled into the safety of Kotori's bedroom, a big, comfortable area that Kotori kept pretty neat apart from a spray of cd covers across the floor, a bunch of school notes pinned to the walls and a slightly rumpled bed. Kaname leaned against the door, trying very hard not to stare at the bed - since it wasn't like they could do anything with Kujaku prowling around downstairs - and when Kotori took hold of the strap on his schoolbag and pulled it over his head, he jumped in surprise.

"I didn't mean to startle you," Kotori said, giving him a cheeky smile before turning to empty out his textbooks and notepad onto the kotatsu. Kotori's schoolbooks and pens were already laid out on the table, and Kaname was abashed to realise he must have been daydreaming longer than he'd thought. "I figure we'd better at least set the scene, even if we don't get much done. Kuu-chan never comes in without permission but that doesn't necessarily mean he won't ask for it - a lot - so it's a good idea to be prepared."

"Yes. Good idea." Kaname stumbled over to the kotatsu and dropped to his knees, then rested his back against the bed and curled his legs under the table. "Hey, you finally got a blanket for this thing."

"Yeah, the old one was disgusting, so I threw it out. Chikage dropped a can of Match all over it, and I never could get the stain out."

"You couldn't? And here I thought you were the perfect housewife."

"Don't be mean." Kotori settled beside him, still fumbling in the bag. "Do you like the colour?"

"Sure, it's great." The padded blanket was a smoky, warm blue, and Kaname stroked it appreciatively. "Looks like blueberries."

"Yeah?" Kotori stilled, but did not look up from what he was doing. "I got it because it reminded me of you. Of your eyes."

"Really? That's..." Kaname blushed, crushing the soft material in his grip. He knew Kotori had a thing for pretty faces, but this seemed different, like a special secret between the two of them. "That's kind of cool."

"Yeah." They sat quietly for a moment. Kaname felt intensely aware of Kotori's small, nervous figure beside him, and he was about reach out and take the bag from Kotori's hands when Kotori pulled out a tube of lubricant. "Uh..."

"Oh!" Kaname grabbed for it, but Kotori wouldn't let go, and Kaname didn't like to squeeze too hard in case the tube burst open and squirted all over Kotori's new blueberry blanket. "I, uh, nicked that from Miyuki's handbag."

"Akaiwa, you..." Kotori stared at him, mouth agape, then burst into giggles. "You giant perve!"

Kaname threw back his head and guffawed. "I know!"

"You're a creepy klepto who steals lube from his big sister!"

"Oh, god, I know!" He buried his face in his hands, quaking with laughter.

"That's just wrong on too many levels," Kotori said in an almost funereal tone, and Kaname peeped through his fingers to find Kotori shaking his head in mock horror. "I'm not sure I can associate with a guy like you. What would my brother say?"

"Kotori!" They both flinched at the sudden intrusion of Kujaku's voice and the loud knocking that followed. "Kotori, what's going on in there? It doesn't sound like studying to me. What are you two so hysterical about?"

"Shit!" said Kaname through clenched teeth. He snatched the lube from Kotori's loosened fingers and shoved it beneath the skirt of the kotatsu.

"Nothing's wrong, Kuu-chan," Kotori called, scrabbling to open some of the books in front of them. Kaname picked up a pen and attempted to look studious, but Kujaku didn't enter. They sat in silent trepidation for several anxious minutes, before sighing in relief.

"He's not listening at the door, is he?" Kaname whispered.

"I don't think so," said Kotori dubiously.

"Well, we'll have to be very quiet, just in case." Kaname had already lost too many pieces of his soul today; luckily Kotori had the ability to fill the holes with ease. He dropped his pen, stretched an arm about Kotori's waist and tugged him close, and Kotori nestled against him, looking bashful and sweet as Kaname pressed kisses against his warm temple and the downy fuzz at his hairline. Kotori's fingers fiddled restlessly with the buttons of Kaname's jacket, then tugged him free of it, and Kaname chuckled as he watched Kotori fold the garment neatly. "A good boy and a good housewife."

"Shush, you," Kotori admonished, removing his own jacket, then pulling Kaname into his arms. "Isn't that better already?"

Kaname murmured agreement against Kotori's lips, wandering if he dared take off anything else, when the phone on Kotori's desk rang. Kotori made a small, thin sound of frustration and Kaname growled, but the phone kept ringing despite the weight of their combined reproach. Kotori started struggling to his feet, but Kaname held his arm. "Don't. Your brother'll pick up."

Sure enough the ringing stopped, but just as Kaname was about to wrap his arms around Kotori again, Kujaku was knocking on the door. "Kotori? What are you doing? Are you all right? That's Minami-chan on the phone. Why didn't you pick up? Can I come in?"

Kaname's head fell in disappointment while Kotori stood up with a cranky humph. "You can come in if you have to, Kuu-chan. Hello, Minami? Kuu-chan, hang up, I can't hear her," he said, as Kujaku flung himself into the room.

Kujaku stabbed a finger at his own handset, then pressed it to his lips as he eyed Kaname with a thoughtful expression while Kotori attempted to talk Minami out of a visit. Kaname leafed through his notebook and tried to show with a valiant display of disinterest that the matter wasn't of vital importance to his continuing sanity, and he even managed to keep from grinning when Kotori said, "I'll see you at school next week, okay? Bye!" The phone started ringing again almost instantly, and Kaname buried his nose in his book with a grimace as Kotori said, "Minami, I - oh, Chikage. Hello. No, I'm busy tonight. Yes, Akaiwa is here..."

Chikage was more persistent than Minami, but Kotori held out gamely, and Kaname had to bite back a whoop of triumph when Kotori finally hung up again. Kujaku was even heading out the door when the phone rang a third time, plunging Kaname into renewed despair. Kotori gripped the handset so violently that Kaname thought it might break, and hissed, "Chikage, I said no...oh, Katsuya-kun! How are you? No, I'm fine...Really. I thought it was someone else. Yes, Kuu-chan's right here..."

Kujaku wandered off, waving idly as he spoke to his friend, and Kotori quickly closed the door behind him before turning to face Kaname with an anxious expression. Kaname held out a hand to him, and soon caught up an armful of warm, fractious boy. "Don't worry so much," he soothed. "It's okay."

"It's not okay. It's nowhere near okay." Kotori glowered at him, his eyes pooling with tears, and Kaname's heart caught. "I just wish everyone would leave us alone."

"Me too," said Kaname, settling Kotori at his side once more.

"How are you staying so calm? Normally you're the one..."

"...going off the deep end?" Kaname chuckled at Kotori's sheepish expression. "I can't say I'm exactly overjoyed by all the interruptions, but at least we're together, and that's something."

"That's everything," Kotori said. His eyes still shone, but he was already starting to look a little more cheerful. "Geez, we're lame."

"But pretty."

"Akaiwa!" Kotori punched him gently on the arm, and Kaname caught his fist and mouthed at the fingers until they unfurled, then led them to his lap. "Akaiwa..."

"Too soon?" Kaname asked, surprised by how husky and cautious his words were.

"Are you kidding?" said Kotori, looking at him incredulously. His fingertips dipped into the narrow gap at Kaname's waist between clothing and skin, making Kaname's stomach shiver. "I'm about ready to issue an overdue notice. But..."

"He's busy talking to his friend, so we've got a brief window," said Kaname. His throat knotted as he cupped his own hand over Kotori's. "Anyhow, we're just studying, right?"

Kotori glanced at the door, bit his lip, and then unfastened Kaname's trousers. A sigh of gratitude choked out of Kaname as Kotori fumbled carefully at his underwear, inching his aching dick out and murmuring, "You're so hard already."

"I'm not sure it's humanly capable to be – ah! - otherwise when you're around," said Kaname, licking his lips as his breath hitched; Kotori's grip was disconcertingly assured.

"Dumbass," Kotori whispered against Kaname's shoulder. Kotori had turned a little, trying to find a comfortable angle, and Kaname was able to reach between his legs and coax the shirt from his trousers. Kotori's hand stilled when Kaname unbuttoned his trousers and stroked the baby-soft skin of his belly. There was a thin, dusky trail of fuzz leading from the humid little dimple of Kotori's navel to the bright white elastic lining of his underpants, and Kaname thumbed at the path tenderly. Kotori's dick was a hot, sweet curve of flesh, caught in cotton but still straining in Kaname's direction. Kaname eased the material down over Kotori's dick and then further, until Kotori's balls plumped up above the makeshift harness of his own underwear and his teeth scraped at Kaname's shoulder and Kaname wondered if it was possible to contain this much love for one person.

They hunched into one another's palms in an anxious delirium, legs tangling as they tried to wriggle free of their clothing without actually undressing. Kaname bit back cries of pleasure, amazed that Kotori's small hand, fluttering and stroking in turn, should feel so much keener than his own familiar grip. It was almost impossible to relax into the delicious feeling, knowing they might be disrupted at any moment, and his nerves felt raw and tremulous, shredded by the possibility of discovery. His breath stuttered out, a keening susurration that sounded dangerously loud in the quiet of the room, and he could feel Kotori's sultry, gulping mouth burning through his shirt like a brand.

Kaname broke first, sobbing as he shoved his dick violently through the circle of Kotori's hand and shot in choked, white-hot spurts. "Softly, softly," Kotori whispered, his voice pleading, and as Kaname gaped at the sight of his own jizz dribbling over Kotori's knuckles, the rush of blood through his veins was so loud he barely recognised the distant, unwelcome chime of the doorbell.

"Kotori!" They stared at each other in misery, Kotori on edge and Kaname spent, as Kujaku's voice drifted up from below. "Katsuya's here! Come down and say hello."

"I'll be down in a minute!" Kotori called, his voice cracking. Kaname lurched across the kotatsu, almost tripping on his own trousers, and snatched a box of tissues; Kotori's face was pinched and his hand shook in Kaname's as Kaname wiped at the mess he'd made. They fumbled with their clothing as best they could, but Kaname figured it would be obvious what they'd been up to even to someone as self-absorbed as Kujaku.

Outside they could hear footsteps climbing the stairs, and they realised they had even less time than they'd thought. As Kujaku called Kotori's name, Kaname thrust crumpled tissues under the kotatsu and Kotori brushed his hand over the wet ring of spit he'd left on Kaname's shoulder as if he could will it away with the sheer heat of his panic, and when Kujaku started knocking on the door they simply folded their legs beneath the kotatsu and spread the blanket across their laps. Kaname had a feeling they looked very, very guilty.

"Kotori, what are you doing in there? Katsuya's here, and he wants to take us out for dinner. Kotori?"

"Would you leave your poor brother alone?" That deep, cheerful voice must belong to Kujaku's buddy, Katsuya. It was the most sensible thing Kaname had heard all day, and Kaname liked the guy already, even if he did have shitty taste in friends. "And who said anything about buying you dinner, anyhow?"

"Mean bastard. You don't want me to waste away, do you?" The pounding at the door increased in volume. "Kotori, are you coming?"

"If someone would just let me," Kotori mumbled softly, and that just cracked Kaname's shit up, despite their precarious position. "Kuu-chan, we've really got a lot of work to get through here, and not much time to do it. You know Akaiwa works on the weekends."

"But, Kotori..."

"Kujaku, let's leave the kids at home and make a proper night of it, all right?"

"But, Katsuya..."

"My treat. Grab that stupid ostrich feather coat of yours, and let's move."

"All right, all right. Night, guys," Kujaku sighed, and Kaname held his breath as he realised Kujaku was actually walking away.

"Kotori, he's gone. Can I come in a second?" Katsuya asked after a few moments, his voice soft.

"Uh..." Kotori looked at Kaname, but Kaname just shrugged helplessly. He'd passed the point of surrender hours ago and would be satisfied just to end the day with his life intact. Dignity was starting to seem like too much to ask. "Uh, okay."

The door slipped ajar and Katsuya poked his head in the gap. To Kaname he looked like a real bruiser, with the muscles and the scuffed-up knuckles and the bleach job, and he wondered if he'd survive the night after all, but Katsuya's face creased into a warm smile once he clapped eyes on Kotori, and Kaname suspected he might as well have not been in the room. "Hey there, kid."

"Hey, Katsuya-kun."

"I'm gonna drag that overgrown brat out for the night and leave you guys in peace, okay?"

"Thanks, Katsuya-kun," said Kotori, beaming shyly. "That'd be great."

"I figured as much," said Katsuya, giving Kaname a hard look. Kaname swallowed, but Katsuya didn't say anything to him. Instead he pulled his wallet from his back pocket, drew out a foil packet and tossed it to Kotori. "I suppose you're getting too old for ice cream."


"I guess he noticed me after all," said Kaname, gazing at the condom in bewilderment while Kotori stood sentry at the window, making certain the other two left.

"Of course he did. Katsuya's a great guy," said Kotori, waving as a muscle car rumbled off into the distance. "Kind of protective, though."

"Protective?" Kaname picked up the condom and brandished it at Kotori. "This isn't protective. This is enabling!"

Kotori walked over, sat on the bed behind Kaname and wrapped his arms around him. "What, you'd rather he kicked your ass?"

Kaname sprawled back between Kotori's knees, slinging his arms across Kotori's thighs and grinning as Kotori hooked his chin over Kaname's shoulder and kissed his cheek. "Well, I would if I was someone else. But since it's me, I guess it's okay."

"More than okay," Kotori said, squeezing him hard.

"Hey, this is kind of like the way we started the day."

"What, with me hugging the stuffing out of you?"

"Yeah. S'nice."

"Akaiwa, you're not falling asleep on me, are you?"

Kaname got to his knees and turned to face Kotori, clasping him by the waist and drawing him close. "Do I look insane?"

Kotori traced Kaname's face with coaxing fingertips, cocking his head as if he was giving the matter some serious thought. "Anyone would be after a day like this."

"I'm made of sterner stuff," said Kaname, covering Kotori's mouth and adoring it with his own. He struggled to take it slowly, dreamily, to make the most of the rare gift of privacy and time, but he couldn't keep his restless fingers from tugging at Kotori's buttons and shoving his shirt aside, and Kotori clung to him with growing urgency, groaning his name. Kaname licked along Kotori's collarbone and nuzzled at his underarms, holding him tight when he giggled and writhed. Kaname had come to know the taste and scent of Kotori over the past months, but this was different, stronger, and he knew Kotori must feel it too by the way he stilled at every touch and stroke of his tongue and then clutched at Kaname's hair if he dared pause for breath.

"Here now," Kotori ordered, tugging Kaname to his chest, and Kaname laughed, mouthing at his sternum and suckling his hard little nipples. Kotori was thin and pale and delicious, and Kaname held him beneath the arms and arched him back, circling his quivery belly button with his tongue.

When he released his hold on Kotori to tug his trousers and underwear off, Kotori fell back, kicking his legs in a clumsy but enthusiastic effort to help. Kaname tossed the clothing to one side, then crouched back between Kotori's thighs before he could cop a black eye from Kotori's flailing feet. "Here now?" he teased, taking Kotori's dick in his hand and watching as Kotori bit his lip and nodded with a plaintive, almost fearful eagerness. Kaname stroked at the stiff, hot stem of Kotori's dick, adjusting his grip to its sweet curve and pulling gently at his foreskin, cajoling it into a lax, rhythmic roll while Kaname's tongue played hide and lick with Kotori's swollen cockhead. "Who says we're too old for ice cream?"

Kotori's laughter choked off as Kaname swallowed him down as far as he could, just a little at first, then more and more as his confidence grew. He wanted to be good at this, for Kotori's sake, but he hadn't realised just how hot it would feel to fill his mouth with dick, so hungry and full, to feel both in and out of control. He cupped at Kotori's balls, rolling their fragile weight in his palm as his nose finally nestled into the dark fuzz of Kotori's groin, and Kotori wailed, his ass rising off the bed while his thighs flexed flat and wide.

Kotori gripped him by the hair again and whispered, "Don't let me come yet."

Kaname pulled off, rubbing Kotori's spit-covered dick against his cheek as he asked, "You sure? I could, you know."

"No," Kotori protested. He took his dick from Kaname's grasp, mewing with distress before gripping the base hard in his own determined hand. "Want to try and come with you inside me, okay?"

"Okay," said Kaname, feeling his chest lurch eagerly at the idea, even as he was suddenly seized with doubt. "But what if I fuck it all up?"

"S'all right. I trust you." Kotori struggled up onto his elbows to look Kaname in the eyes, and his face was filled with an endearing solemnity. "You won't hurt me."

Kaname stared at him, feeling scared and moved by his trust. "Okay," he repeated, and hoped it was true. He stripped off his shirt and shinned out of his pants, smiling when he noticed the dreamy expression on Kotori's face as he eyed Kaname's body. Sitting back on his heels, he ripped at the corner of the foil packet and pulled out the condom. He'd practised this once in the bathroom at home, but Ryoko had been trying to kick the door in and the experiment had ended in a literal flop. That didn't look like being a problem now; if anything, he was worried he'd shoot the instant he started rolling the damned thing on. Kotori sat up and watched avidly as Kaname pulled back his foreskin, pinched the tip of the condom and rolled it down his dick.

"Have you done this before?" Kotori asked. He sounded impressed and just a little suspicious.

"No," said Kaname, relieved that he appeared competent. Kotori started to reach for him with inquisitive fingers and Kaname caught at his wrist. "Don't. I think they're supposed to decrease sensation, but I'm not sure I believe it."

"Oh." Kotori's eyes were wide, but they soon narrowed with humour. "So where's Miyuki's lube?"

"There's a thought to deaden sensation," Kaname muttered as he burrowed under the kotatsu. He found the tube and squeezed out a palmful of the thick, slippery liquid, then looked up at Kotori. Kotori stared back at him, his eyes suddenly even bigger than before, then lay back, his thighs splayed and trembling.

Kaname smeared his wet hand down Kotori's dick and over his balls, then rubbed it into the smooth skin behind, watching Kotori's entire body jerk uncontrollably in response. He circled Kotori's hole with one gentle fingertip, and they both stilled in shock when his finger sank inside. Kaname was astonished that he had somehow made it to this weirdly privileged position, but Kotori said, "Keep going," and Kaname found that his finger glided in and out with tantalising ease. He drizzled more lube into his hand and slid another finger inside Kotori, and Kotori's head lolled, his eyes adrift. "It's good," he muttered. "Cold, but good."

Kaname prayed that was permission because he didn't think he could hold back any longer. Every part of him seemed to be straining to get inside Kotori. He wiped off his hand and took hold of Kotori's hips, dragging him to the very edge of the bed where he could snug up against him, as close as possible. He pressed the tip of his dick against Kotori and pushed in with tremulous care, gasping at the hot squeeze. There was a wet glitter in Kotori's eyes, but he was smiling, and Kaname leaned into him blissfully, gratefully, watching his own dick steal out of sight. "Kotori?" he said, unable to keep the guttural note of urgency from his voice. "Please tell me I'm not hurting you."

"It's good," Kotori said again, scrubbing at his face, and when Kaname reached down and brushed Kotori's hands away, Kotori's eyes looked wounded but dry. "I feel wide open."

"Yeah?" Kaname swept his own hands down across Kotori's wildly beating heart, then hooked Kotori's legs over his arms, hoisting them higher. "Wide open like that?"

"Ah!'yeah, but..."

"But more like this?" Kaname asked, curling his body protectively over Kotori's and pressing their mouths together in a kiss that somehow steadied them both even as their hips shoved frantically for relief. Kotori had never had any decent shields in the first place and now he seemed more defenceless than ever, soft and fluttering and wary.

"Don't look at me like that, like you're scared I'll break. As if," said Kotori sternly, when Kaname stopped kissing him long enough for him to speak. "Dumbass."

"You never used to talk to me like that," said Kaname, his laughter strangled as Kotori clenched insistently around his dick.

"That was back when I - ah! - I thought you were cool." Kotori's feet poked at his sides, petulant and demanding. "Now I know you're just lame like me, so I'm allowed to boss you round."

"You think?" Kaname said with a grin. He leaned back and smoothed his hands down Kotori's shins, rubbing the hair the wrong way just to make Kotori twitch, then hooking his thumbs into the damp hollows behind Kotori's knees to force them wider. Kotori's dick was still plumped up, bouncing sweetly on his belly as Kaname shifted and stroked inside him. "Show me how you touch yourself," he ordered. "You said you wanted to come while I fucked you. Show me how you like it."

"Want to come together," Kotori moaned, wrapping his hand around his dick. Kaname had just enough brain cells left to be charmed by Kotori's impatience, the way he didn't fuck around like they had the whole night for this but just rolled back his foreskin and squeezed at the head, his fingers swift and fervent.

"Gonna have to hurry then," warned Kaname, his hips plunging frantically as he grappled with Kotori's bicycling legs. The crude, damp sound of their skin slapping spurred him quicker, harder, and Kotori was keening as he stretched back blindly with his free hand to brace himself against the wall while the other worked hummingbird-fast on his dick until Kaname's mouth watered and his vision blurred. "I'm not gonna last," he slurred. "Really, really not."

"No," Kotori agreed, and his head twisted from side to side before he came, teeth gritted, in a series of almost painful-looking spurts. Most of the jizz splashed across his belly but one stray drop hit his shuddering bottom lip. Given how exquisitely he was clenching around Kaname's dick, that seemed like more than invitation for Kaname to sheathe himself to the hilt and pound Kotori's sweet ass, but it wasn't until the moment Kotori's pink tongue darted out to lick his lip clean that Kaname lost it, grunting rapturously as he shot his load.

He wasn't sure how much time he lost to the white-out haze that followed, but Kotori wiggled beneath him and it suddenly occurred to Kaname that sex was actually kind of weird once it was over. He still had Kotori's knees in his hands, and Kotori was beaming up at him and swinging his legs like a kid. Kaname realised his own knees felt really sore - which meant Kotori probably felt on fucking fire - so he let Kotori's feet slip to the floor and sat slowly back, holding his condom on as his dick popped free. Kotori yelped, his bottom flinching adorably above the edge of the bed while Kaname drew the condom off, tied it up and wrapped it in a tissue. Kotori looked sticky with lube and come, so Kaname grabbed a wad of the tissues and dabbed at his skin like he was fine porcelain, until Kotori said, "Give it to me," and scrubbed at his belly until it blushed. "Hey, do you want to come under the covers with me?"

Since that had been a guilty dream of Kaname's since he'd first seen Kotori cuddled up in this bed, sweaty and flushed with fever, he said, "Yeah. Scoot over."

They pulled back the sheets and wriggled underneath them, shivering a little. The bed was a single, so Kaname nudged Kotori onto his side and spooned up behind him. He wrapped one arm about Kotori's waist and tucked the other beneath his head like a pillow, and Kotori nestled close with such contented trust that Kaname felt humbled and small. "I can't believe we're finally alone. This is so cool, isn't it?" said Kotori. "I've never shared a bed with anyone before. I think I like it."

"Me too," said Kaname softly, wondering how long he'd make it before his arm started shrieking with pins and needles and what the hell his hair would look like in the morning, and not caring a bit. He thought that the proof of love might be in the waiting and the mundane, and he was just fine with that. Kotori made everything brighter.