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Courtship of Crows

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“Ah… I should be going now.”

Akira turned away from the sink, looking at the boy sitting by the counter across from where he stood. There was a polished-off plate before him and an empty cup set neatly to the side. From the other end of the café, Sojiro nodded, not turning to look at their last remaining customer. He was busy doing a crossword, a ridiculous pink pen with a plastic crystal set on the tip of it twirling in his hand. Akira knew it was some pen a customer had forgotten the other day, but he still wasn’t sure why Sojiro ended up using it religiously for his crosswords. He looked back at Goro, still sitting politely behind the counter, and saw the boy’s eyes flicker time and again to the ridiculous pen as well, staring at the glinting end of it as if under a spell. Akira quirked his eyebrow in amusement, wiped his hands off on his apron and walked towards Goro, taking away the empty plate and cup.

“Come back soon.” Akira smiled at him, and then shook his head when Goro beamed and reached for his wallet. “No—It’s on the house. You’re letting me try my own curry recipes on you, so I couldn’t take money.”

Sojiro looked up at him over his spectacles when he heard that, but didn’t say anything, only rolling his eyes and muttering about stupid hormonal teenagers costing him revenue. Akira grinned while Goro looked uncertainly from one to the other. Akira saw his eyes linger on the pen again before he pulled himself out of his trance.

“Really… You can’t keep feeding me for free, Akira-kun. I’m more than willing to pay for the delicious meals, and… and you only make the new recipes to suit my tastes in the first place,” Goro mumbled, but then obediently hid his wallet back in his pocket. Akira smiled, carrying the dishes back to the sink. He heard a throat being cleared and a mumbled goodbye, and then the bell by the door tinkling as Goro left Leblanc. Sojiro grunted and sighed from behind him.

“I’m docking your allowance for the curry today, I hope you realize.”

“I thought I’m not getting an allowance,” Akira turned back with a cheeky smile. Sojiro snorted and shook his head with a shrug, going back to his crossword. Akira frowned – something else; something glittering softly laid on the counter. He walked back to the place where Goro was sitting just a minute ago and picked up—

A button. It was nothing like the ones he or Sojiro had on any of their clothing; nothing like what would fit Goro’s clothes, either. It was big, round and shining with a mother-of-pearl sheen, catching the light beautifully. Akira looked around in confusion as he closed his hand around it.

Where… did that come from?

 


 

A week later, Goro was working at Leblanc again, spreading his documents all over one of the booths by the back and asking Akira in a tired, but still sweet voice to keep bringing him coffee until he’s done with that particular case. Akira wasn’t complaining – the evening was slow, with barely any customers, and he enjoyed Goro’s company always, whether the brunet was in a talkative mood or not at all. He kept bringing him the coffee as ordered, and after an hour, left for a quick ten-minutes dash to the supermarket, coming back with a bag of cream puffs he then plated the best he could and set beside Goro with another refill. The confused, grateful look Goro’s crimson eyes had as he looked up at him and the sweet blush that painted the boy’s cheeks made Akira’s heart do strange somersaults in his chest. He grinned cheekily and pressed a finger to his lips, nodding at Sojiro, once again working on his crossword behind the counter. Goro blushed only harder and nodded back, playing with his phone. Up close, Akira noticed the cover was ever so subtly sparkly, as if it had bits of glitter embedded in the dark material of it. He saw Goro’s eyes become unfocused as he stared at the glint of it and smiled, leaving the detective to his thoughts.

This time, after Goro had left, he found a beautiful little shell set neatly on the table.

 


 

It became a bit of a game for Akira from then on.

Leblanc had an oven, old and malfunctioning sometimes as it was. Akira managed to talk Sojiro into letting him try baking cakes they could sell with the coffee, and though Sojiro kept complaining Akira’s baking was too sub-par to match his brew, he still let him go along with it, even buying extra ingredients and commenting on each work, advising him what to do better next time.

Of course, Sojiro wasn’t the only taste-tester. All of Akira’s friends started to frequent the café in the afternoons to get a sweet treat to their coffee on the house, and quite a few of the regulars asked for a piece of cake in lieu of dessert after their curry, too. Still, the only one Akira actually waited for, every evening, was his harshest critic and the one he most tried to impress.

“…you’re really getting good at this,” Goro said, delicately dabbing a napkin over his lips and reaching for his half-full cup of coffee, taking a sip. Akira beamed at him from behind the counter; he’s been watching Goro eat his latest confection with rapture and possibly too much hyper-focus on the brunet’s lips as he ate.

Well, Goro had excessively pretty lips. So what. He’d like to kiss them. Sue him.

“I think a glaze could do wonders with this, though. Like so… it tastes nice enough, perhaps a bit dry… but it looks very, ah… well, like home-baking. Lacks a certain flair, certain shine…”

Goro went on, his fingers cupping the porcelain of his cup in a delicate hold, though Akira was only half-listening. He was wondering how the hell could he pull off glazing at Leblanc’s kitchen – and whether Haru could help him get some of that edible glitter stuff he’s been seeing on cooking shows.

Goro had left him a piece of red ribbon this time.

  


 

By the end of the month, Akira went to Shibuya to procure a little, pretty box, nice enough to hold all the little treasures Goro has been leaving for him. There were a couple more seashells, a thimble, a small keychain with a faux crystal set in it; there was a golden earring, bent and slightly flattened, looking as if it has been found on the ground after being trodden on by at least a dozen of people. There were pieces of polished coloured glass like one would be able to find on a seashore and a foreign coin, polished to a beautiful shine.

He treasured each and every one of the sweet if a bit strange gifts. The box containing them has been set on the honour place on his shelf, right there by the head of his bed, so that he could look at it without even getting up from the bed.

From his side, Akira paid Goro back in sweet gestures of his own – from working more on his baking skills, getting him free food and coffee from time to time to simply allowing the detective space and ample time to talk out whatever was bothering him whenever he needed it.

It became a strange, but sweet and very soft dynamic between them. And perhaps it was natural that, after more than a month of them settling into it, Akira felt secure enough to take his chance. They were alone at Leblanc that day; the rain was pitter-pattering against the windowpanes ever since the afternoon, and the atmosphere was sleepy and relaxed. Goro was the last customer left, as it was usual for him; he had already paid the bill and was only lingering on for company now, gathering his things as slowly as was possible while talking happily about Hegel and whatever else. Akira turned back from the jars of beans just in time to see Goro let his hand linger over the counter; a shiny stone with a hole in it peeking from under his palm. He caught Akira looking, flushed and made a move to take the stone away, but Akira was faster. He reached out his hand, resting it over Goro’s own, and leaned over the counter, pressing the sweetest, most gentle kiss to the adorable detective’s cheek.

Time stilled, for just a moment. Goro’s cheek was hot with the rising blush; his skin was soft and he smelt so nice Akira could melt. He allowed himself to linger just a second or two more before pulling away, fighting a blush of his own.

“…thank you,” he murmured, letting go of Goro’s hand to pick up the stone and hug it close to his chest. “I’ll treasure it, with all the others.”

Akira couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw a hint of a victorious smirk over Goro’s lips as he nodded, mutely, gathered his things and left Leblanc, waving him goodbye. Akira opened his palm once the detective was gone, looking at the shiny little stone and smiling once he noticed a tiny scrawl – a few scratched words over the shiny surface.

Go out with me?

Akira grinned, looking out through the glass panes of the door. Goro was lingering there, obviously waiting for his reaction. He rose the stone to his lips and kissed it gently in an obvious answer.

Even in the dark and through the glass, he could see Goro’s blush deepen as he nodded and turned on his heel, marching towards the station. Akira chuckled.

It seemed he has gotten himself a rather adorable crow for a boyfriend. He might be needing a bigger box.