Hinawa is wearing a new coat, the kind with a fur-lined hood and soft crimson lining. His jeans are skinny. His bangs fall nicely on his face.
"Hinawa-san looks cool today," Iris says to Obi. "Don't you think so?"
"Hnnrfhhf," Obi says.
"Need to go!" He escapes with seconds to spare. Hopefully Iris doesn't suspect anything… dammit.
Four days. Four days this has been going on, and Obi? has had enough, thank you very much. He marches into the equipment room where Maki is and promptly says, "I hate you." Then for context, "You need to stop buying Hinawa clothes."
"What?! But his fashion sense is improving!"
"It's not fashion sense if he'll wear whatever you give him!"
Maki pouts. "I don't understand. He looks handsome with his new clothes. Don't you agree?"
"I do, but he's," Obi lets out an explosive breath, "too handsome."
There's silence for a while.
Obi swallows. "I can explain."
It all started after that arsonist burned part of their compound, Hinawa's room included. Obi let him stay in his for the time being. They shared a bed, shared a routine, shared late night snacks. Not a bother.
Then Hinawa borrowed his shirt and proceeded to do the most obscene thing Obi had ever seen him do: strip out of his orange coveralls and slip on Obi's black tee.
" That did it for you?" Maki looks disbelieving. "You've seen him naked, daitaicho. I would think that's more of a factor."
"Maki, I already know he's hot without clothes. But with clothes? That aren't his usual clothes??" Obi groans. "I can't stop staring ."
"Okay, okay, point taken!"
"If that's the case then why are you giggling?"
Maki scratches her cheek with a lingering smile. "This is just kind of surreal. I didn't expect my actually gay captain to blame me for his crush."
"Well, this actually bi captain wants to stop feeling winded every time he sees his lieutenant," Obi says. "So can you help? You get Hinawa to start wearing his usual getup and we can all be happy."
"I think you should tell him," Maki says.
"How handsome he is."
Obi laughs. "You're kidding."
She wasn't. The next day, Hinawa wears a vanilla sweater with 'darling' printed in gold lettering.
Yep, Obi hates Maki.
Hinawa stares. "Are you alright?"
He's wearing a green plaid shirt with rolled up sleeves. Obi coughs. "Yep, only a sore throat… What do you need?"
“It’s for the tri-monthly report. I need to send an update of our new staffing situation, including a group photo.”
“Oh, that can be arranged.” They’ll need to be in uniform for that, which means Hinawa won’t be a distraction…
Seriously, Obi can’t stop glancing. They’re working out the details of the shoot when he coughs. “Haven’t you had enough of casual wear?”
Hinawa blinks. “I don’t really mind.”
Of course he doesn’t. It’s inexplicably endearing. “You’re in the workplace, Hinawa. Work clothes are necessary.”
“I understand… however, I spend most of my time here. I don’t see any chance of wearing these clothes elsewhere. Also, Maki was very insistent I wear them.”
Of course she was…!
“Does it upset you?”
Obi snaps back to him. “No! Well…”
“I can take it off.”
“N-Not right now!”
Hinawa looks at him. Of course not, is the wordless reply. The fact that it’s wordless means bad things.
“Anyway,” Obi says too loudly, “let’s set a date…!”
They plan it for their next off day, when Company 5 oversees part of their jurisdiction and gives them breathing space to relax. In the meanwhile Obi sets about clearing his head—gardening, playing more rock vinyls, training, firefighting, etc… it's a solid two days of productivity.
"Hinawa-chutaicho looks handsome, doesn't he?"
Well, except for that . "Maki, cut it out," Obi hisses.
Her giggle makes him uneasy. He hates how mischievous she can be. It's worse now that she's brought Iris and Tamaki into it. Between the three of them, Obi is awfully outnumbered.
"Which outfit is your favorite?" Tamaki cheekily asks.
"None of them!" The one with the leather jacket , Obi's mind traitorously whispers.
Iris smiles like she’s read his mind. “It's nice to see you like this, Obi-san, getting so flustered over someone."
"Don't get enjoyment out of this! And Maki," Obi grits out, "why do you give him so many skinny jeans?"
"Because Hinawa-chutaicho is still young enough to pull them off!"
"No he isn't! He's a grown man who belongs in an orange onesie!" Obi towers menacingly. "You can’t keep this up forever!"
He hates how she’s up for a challenge, too.
Somehow his mind still wanders to that fateful day, when Hinawa matter-of-factly wore his shirt despite it being a size too big. As much as Obi hates to admit it, Maki was right—it was a strange thing to be hung up on. He never questioned it because he was more content trying to repress the memory (or at least, the butterflies associated with it).
Now those butterflies are suffocating him. It doesn’t help that Hinawa likes to walk into his office and update him on just about everything he does. Completing paperwork, cleaning equipment, ordering supplies… Wait a moment.
"You're wearing that again?" Obi eyes Hinawa’s simple collared shirt and slacks. "You've been wearing a new outfit everyday for a while now. What's changed?"
"I ran out of clothes."
"What? But you have your coveralls!"
Hinawa looks at his clipboard. "Maki took those to the laundromat. Apparently there was a mishap."
Obi's mouth is a thin line. "We have a washing machine here."
"There just so happened to be an accident."
He must be pulling Obi's leg. "And you don't find that strange?"
Hinawa finally looks up. "Do you?"
"Then I don't find it strange."
Obi's quite used to Hinawa's wide-eyed stare, but the narrowed eyes always mean trouble. He coughs. "Then that's that. Just file an order for coveralls in your size."
"On the Company account?"
Obi furrows a brow. "It falls under Company property, doesn't it?"
A beat. "Maki bought my new clothes under the account. They were quite expensive. Buying new coveralls will only chip away at our already dismal funding."
This must be a fever dream! Yet, "That's irresponsible of her. Aren't you angry?"
"Why would I be mad about gifts?"
Seriously? "You're being disingenuous, Hinawa."
"So are you." Hinawa leaves without another word. Obi feels like he's been slapped somehow.
He decides that the best course of action is to get used to it. Desensitize himself to the handsomeness. Hinawa will be cycling through clothes that Obi's already seen, so it shouldn't be a problem.
“Why," he sputters helplessly, "do you smell like perfume."
Hinawa stops writing. “Tamaki let me have it.”
“Don't tell me she bought it?!”
“No, this is her perfume. She meant to return it but lost the receipt. Since it was unused, she gave it to me.”
Obi gawks. “That's.” He can't even finish his sentence without the thought of Hinawa smells like blueberries screaming in his head. "That's—hrnnf. Very nice of her."
Obi waits until Hinawa's out of sight before cornering Tamaki. "You! The blueberries are your fault!"
"Nya?! Don't blame me, it was Iris' idea!"
He turns to the nun.
"I was following Maki-san's example," Iris says innocently.
"You…!" He can't take this anymore. Girl power is way too strong. Obi needs help, fast.
A lightbulb appears above Obi's head.
"Knight king ," Arthur punctuates.
“Shinra! Arthur!” He approaches them with what must’ve been a mildly panicked look, because they straighten immediately. “Look, I need your help. This is a big issue. You might even call it bullying!”
The two rookies exchange glances. Shinra looks serious. “Obi-daitaicho, who’s bullying you?”
Obi points. “Those three!”
… Shinra looks less serious. “About…?”
"Well… I might think your lieutenant is a little too handsome in casual wear."
Arthur chuckles. "The armour of knights is indeed magnificent."
"Shut up, you idiot." Shinra ponders. "But I sort of get what you mean, daitaicho. Pretty girls make me flustered."
Obi perks up. "Then you'll tell Maki and the others to back off?"
"I-I would, but they’re really pretty…!”
Arthur smirks. "Fear not. The problem lies with the advisor, yes? His courtly wardrobe is too frivolous. I shall remind him that the armour of flame is where his loyalty lies."
"What the hell are you even talking about," Shinra deadpans. "You can't seriously be thinking of challenging the lieutenant."
Turns out he was. Arthur and Hinawa fight for a good ten seconds before Hinawa bips him in the back, all while smelling like blueberries. And wearing that black leather jacket. And leather boots. And sunglasses.
The Infernal alarm blares.
Oh thank Sol , Obi thinks, then mentally slaps himself for it.
(Hinawa still smells nice even in bunker gear.)
It's their off day. For some reason, Hinawa wears the jacket again. Obi can’t speak full sentences in front of him no matter how hard he tries. He nearly calls Hibana to ask how to deal with feelings before realising she'd just taunt him.
He calls the girls to his office.
“This needs to stop," Obi says, arms crossed. "I've been very distressed these past two weeks and you three aren't helping matters!”
They actually have the sense to look guilty at that. Good! “I don’t care if you have to use company funding, just buy him a new stock of coveralls!”
Maki looks confused. “Why? I have them hidden in my room, I can give them back…"
Wait, what? “Didn’t you lose them at the laundromat?”
“That was the lie I told Hinawa-chutaicho…”
Obi follows her confusion. "We have a washing machine here."
"And he still believed your lie?”
Maki blinks. “Um. It was lucky of me to have gotten away with that. But daitaicho, why did you say I could use the company account? It’s not like I have access to it.”
Obi swallows. “Didn’t you… buy Hinawa’s clothes… on the company account?”
“No? I used my personal account?”
He turns to Tamaki. “You gave him the perfume, right?” Right??
“Well, he asked me if I had any cologne. I said no, only perfume I hadn’t used.”
“Yes, that’s what happened,” Iris concurs. “Obi-san, what’s wrong?"
"That's not… what Hinawa said…" Or failed to say. He asked for cologne? Why? Why did Hinawa lie to him?
"Sorry to bother," Hinawa says, strolling inside… in orange coveralls. He still smells wonderful but paired with the normalcy of his attire, it's sending mixed signals.
"H-Hinawa! I thought you didn't have anymore coveralls!"
Hinawa stares. "This isn't mine. It's yours. I borrowed it for today's group photo."
His cap reads 'Emergency Punch'. Obi definitely feels like someone punched him in the heart.
"I, um," he sputters. "Um. That's—"
"Should I have asked for permission?" Hinawa looks way too calm about that. Obi flails, feeling the girls stare at his gradual meltdown.
"No, it's just—hnnrf—I, um—"
"Obi-daitaicho," his lieutenant says. "You're blushing."
Welp, that's the final nail in his coffin.
It’s the dead of night when Obi sits behind his desk, cringing at the group photo. His blush is embarrassingly obvious under the lighting.
“I’ll have that sent to the brass by tomorrow,” says a voice. There’s the faint hint of fruit in the air.
Obi gulps. “Right.” He keeps his head down, ignoring the footsteps coming his way. “So, um.”
“You were messing with me. You’re usually direct about… everything.”
Hinawa seems to think that over. “You’re sometimes inane. I suppose you have that effect on me.”
“Do I now…” Obi finally looks up. Hinawa is wearing a black tee. “Is that yours or mine?”
“Does it matter? I don’t understand why it affects you so much.”
“I don’t either,” Obi says honestly. But looking at his lieutenant now, at that nonsensical cap and size-too-big tee, he gulps.
“I think you’re.” He stalls. Gestures vaguely. Feels himself melting.
“You don’t have to say it,” Hinawa says.
“It’s flattering, anyhow.”
Obi jerks. “Really?”
“… I don’t see why else I kept teasing you.” Hinawa turns to leave. “I’ll still need to keep borrowing your coveralls. I won’t wear casual clothes anymore, for your sake.”
“Thanks.” Smiling, Obi watches him go, eyes trailing after him.
When he thinks about the past two weeks… it’s strange. Hinawa may be handsome in casual wear, but Obi prefers him in his usual coveralls.
Something flutters in his chest. Obi blinks.