It didn't change at all. Large windows bathed the room with the spring sunset and a sweet sent of coffee filled up the place. Haruki was tidying a bit while Akihiko tried to make himself at ease: “Wanna something to drink ?” he offered halway to the fridge when a sudden realization came in his mind. “Oh sorry, bad habit, forgot it ain't my place actually...” he hurried, hands up in apology. “Ah ?” Haruki looked at him, head tilted a bit “does it matter ? Take one for me as well”. His face radiated with bliss, a soft expression in his eyes. Akihiko's confession playing in repeat in his mind.
That was kinda unexpected. The way Akihiko let it all out, like a bursting bomb. All of this seemed so unreal, like a dream. A dream Haruki would sell his soul not waking up to.
And when he suggested to go home – his appartement – Akihiko fidgeted with his violin case's strap. “Can I ?” he pondered, a mix of guilt and yearning in his eyes. It was the first time Akihiko showed embassement in front of him. He nodded with a warm smile “Well, you came a long way after all”.
Soon, they were side by side on the couch, drinking silently. Akihiko was avoiding any eye contact, despite Haruki's intentional side glances, a slight pink in his cheeks, lips pinched. The place was bringing up so many memories to him. Good and bad – terrible – ones.
Haruki cleared his throat “Hum... so...”, Akihiko blinked and tensed up a bit, “even for a regional contest, fourth isn't encouraging enough for you ?”, a finger suddenly came nagging Akihiko's ribs, “right, Mister humble ?” Haruki joked nicely.
Akihiko jolted, snaping his head toward him, sputtering “I-I worked so hard ! I actually aimed for second place you know !”. And then he was sulking like a kid.
Haruki chuckled, “Well, there will be a next chance right ? You're kinda turning into the persistant type don'tcha ?”.
A rush of blood came in the younger boy's face “Ah ?! Where did you get that idea ?!”. Another game of finger jabbing Akihiko's ribs, “Duuuunno”.
“You seems pretty pleased with yourself,” Akihiko was trying to protect himself from the assault “aren't you jealous that I can succeed in everything ?” he teased.
“Well, I'm tempted to test that theory out actually”.
Akihiko looked confused as he watched Haruki grining madly, idea popping in his head.
He stood up and made his way to the TV stand “Have you ever been good at playing video games ?”.
A glimpse of challenge passed suddenly throught Akihiko's eyes “Bring it on”.
“Did you just fell in the water, again ?...”
“What ? No...”
“Well, it was that green shell's fault !”
“It's the third time...”
“I'm not used to the thing yet. Just wait !”
Haruki laid down the controller. He cleared the race in first place, for the fourth time.
“Maybe we should pick an easier course” he offered, staring at the screen, eyebrows furrowed “Like Mario circuit. It's a basic, no difficulties”
“Oi, I'm not a baby-” “Ah ! There, take left !” Haruki pointed “It's a shortcut”
“You traitor ! You know the game by heart ! No wonder you won so easily !”. Akihiko was fighting to keep his attention to the race. The tip of his tongue sticking out.
“Come on, you're almost there !” Haruki's voice came encouraging from his side.
And finally, his motorbike – of course he picked a motorbike and not a kart - passed the finished line, to Akihiko's relief. He sighed, exhausted, while Haruki was holding a laugh.
“I need a break. I'm going to smoke a bit” he stood up and reached for his pocket. “Don't you want one as well ?”. Haruki stared at the ranking displayed on the screen “Well, good timing I think”. Maybe it wasn't needed to play too much with Akihiko's pride after all.
Winter only just came to an end and nights still felt cold. It was rather calm outside, city lights poping here and there.
Leaning on the balcony, Haruki lighted up his cigarette and took a drag. When he peeked at Akihiko, the boy was staring in the distance, lost in thought. His cigarette was left untouched in his hand, ashes about to fall.
“Something's wrong ?”
Akihiko didn't move nor said anything. An odd expression painted in his face. Unbearable silence.
A knot started to form in Haruki's stomach. A dark thought passed his mind. What if everything was too rushed ? What if Akihiko started feeling regret ? Is that really what he wanted ? Eyes to the floor, Haruki's confidence started to crumble. And, maybe one day, all of it will come to an end. Will he be able to overcome it a second time ?
“God, I missed the view”. Haruki's head raised up in surprise.
Akihiko finally made eye contact with him “You know, actually, when I moved from here, I only looked up for a similar place” he smiled, embarassed, hand scratching his neck.
Haruki frozed. He opened his mouth, and then closed it, enable to say anything coherent. Then slowly, very slowly, Akihiko's fingers reached his own. His skin felt hot and conforting.
“Guess you rub off me too much” he squeezed Haruki's hand slightly and sighed “not that I'm complaining...”.
Then he let go and turned back to smoke his just under half cigarette.
The remaining heat from Akihiko's hand spread throught Haruki's body, killing his doubts. He felt his eyes watering.
“Haruki ?” a waved hand brought him back from his rollercoaster of emotions “are you ready for a rematch ?” he was pointing inside with a sly smile.
Haruki made a little time to process, before snorting “You really are stubborn, right ?”. “Well, if I changed completely, you would be disapointed” Akihiko sticked his tongue out at him.
“Show-off” Haruki blushed madly, lighting off his cigarette “nevertheless, you will need my help if you intend to finish at another place than the last one”.
“Heee. Coach me then, Haru-sama”.
One day, he would be the end of him, for sure.
“Got a banana again, so lame, I wanted the spiny shell”
“Don't underestimate it, you just have to wait for the right moment before throwing it”
“I can't aim right”
“There, if you press the cross backward while holding it, you can throw it behind you”
“Oh, like, right in their face ?”
“Yup, the best is to do it when you're on a plateform”
“Sounds pretty satisfying. I will try it on this guy”
“Wait, the timing isn't perfect- hold it- I AM behind you !”
“TAKE THAT !!”
And Haruki's kart disapeared in the abyss. “EXCUSE ME ?!” he turned his face to Akihiko, dumbfounded “that was so mean ! Show some respect to your teacher !”
“Guess I already surpassed you”
“No fucking way !”
“Aaaaand I won !” Akihiko threw his fist in the air, in victory.
Haruki came second, delayed by his fall. “Begginers luck” he grumbled.
“Don't be like that... it just mean your advices were useful, be proud”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever...”
Haruki's adorable pouting face. Always honest. No treachery. True colors on display.
“Anyways, let's stop for today” he yawned and began to stand up.
Akihiko laid down the controller and reached for his arm, pulling him back to sit. “Hey-” one big hand slipped throught his hair, carefully, lovingly.
Haruki flinched at the contact before relaxing, fingers rubbing gently against his scalp. His pulse sped up. He turned his head, flushed, and dived into Akihiko's eyes. No room for escape.
“Come closer” it wasn't said as an order, but Akihiko's voice was still pressing. His hand slided down to cup his cheek, softly, the other one finding its way to Haruki's side and tugging him by the shirt.
Heart hammering in his chest, Haruki came placing his hand above the one holding his face, while closing the gap between them. No running away anymore.
Akihiko laid his forehead against Haruki's and breathed in the few inches seperating him from his lips. “You... have the right to say no” came out almost as a whisper, air stucked in his throat. “I trust you” Haruki gave him a warm, conforting smile. One of a kind that made Akihiko going weak.
And then, his lips where on Haruki's. Eyes closed. Nose breathing. It was sweet. No rush. Before breaking up from it, Akihiko brushed his tongue against Haruki's mouth.
A promise for the next level. Only with consentment.
Haruki squeezed his hand, a soft moan slipped from him. Lips chasing. Too greedy.
Akihiko pulled back. Haruki opened his eyes, self-conscious “Ah... I'm sorry...”. He glanced away a bit ashamed.
“Sorry for liking it ? I'm vexed” Akihiko giggled.
“Don't laugh ! Y-you know what I mea-” his talking mess was stopped by a sudden hug, taking his breath away.
Two strong arms were enlacing him. Akihiko nuzzled his head against Haruki's neck, making him shiver “I'm just fond of teasing you”.
Haruki throwed his own arms around Akihiko's body, returning his embrace. Letting himself drunk in his scent. Drunk in happiness.
“And, I guess this part will never change too ?”
Akihiko smirked against him. He stepped back a little, looking at Haruki dead in the eyes.
But deep inside, he knew he wouldn't be so sure of it. Haruki was the sun and Akihiko was drawn to his warmth. He made quite some time to figure it out. That meeting Haruki was, without a doubt, the best thing happening to him.
The road to happiness was kinda like a Mario Kart race: made off traps, adrenalin and shortcuts. But in the end, everyone can reach the finish line, at their own rhythm.