Three weeks have passed since Daisuke Kanbe swanned in, acting like he owned the place. Granted he could probably own most places.
But the condescending, pretentious aura he brought so graciously along with him still stinks to this day. What’s worse is it isn’t a bad thing, when the smoke subsides that cologne is really, really nice.
At this point, Haru is confident that nothing Daisuke says could possibly surprise him all that much anymore.
Even if he has acquired a natural talent for crawling under skin and setting it ablaze, Haru likes to think he is becoming immune to this man who has somehow become his partner.
Case in point, this afternoon in the archive room.
“We’re partners,” Daisuke remarks, as if that’s a revelation spoken from the mouth of a prophet.
He’s lounged over the couch he had shipped from god knows where to the department because apparently Ikea is for beggars.
Contrary to Daisuke’s warped perception of reality, his mere presence is not an incredible contribution to the task at hand. Meanwhile, Haru is working tirelessly through paperwork that needs to get done by the time the day is over.
He’s carrying this entire thing on his shoulders alone.
So why Daisuke has the audacity to sound irritated about the fact he isn’t being listened to - like he should be the centre of attention instead - is truly beyond him.
“Haru. I said, we’re partners.”
Haru knows that tone - it’s one of those days, then.
The ones where Daisuke is in the mood for conversation so long as it’s on his fickle terms. Patience short, list of shit to get done much longer, Haru grits his teeth.
“And? Where are you going with this? Unlike you, I’m doing our job. I don’t have time to waste.”
“That’s right. You don’t have time to waste. Continue at this rate, you’ll be retired and still scraping by.”
Not bothering to give Daisuke the satisfaction of his full attention, Haru scoffs.
“Well you could afford to give me a pay rise.”
“That’s not my jurisdiction,” Daisuke says like the fucking prick he is. “I could afford to give you the world ten times over, however, if you wanted.”
Okay. That does it.
Haru slams the pen down on the desk. This is not how their usual whatever the hell it is they do goes. If Haru has any chance getting to the bottom of the paperwork, he needs to get to the bottom of this nonsense.
He finally glances up. It’s a huge mistake.
Daisuke isn’t smirking, which is something at least, but there’s a scheming gleam in those eyes. When Haru dares to properly look, it’s far too close to a challenge.
Whatever plan the rich bastard has devised, Haru is not going to let Daisuke dance them around stupid circles when there is work to be done.
Indulging this man is very dangerous, he would destroy a waltz just because he could.
“What are you saying?”
“We could be partners in life too. Think about it.”
No matter how many times Haru replays the words over in his head, they don’t change. Which is impossible. There is no way Daisuke is suggesting what it sounds like he is.
Unless he is.
It wouldn’t be the first time Daisuke pulled the red carpet from beneath everyone’s feet.
Think about it, he says.
Haru gets the impression that Daisuke hasn’t thought this through at all. Not for a second. And that shouldn’t sting as much as it does.
But Haru doesn’t intend to be some random impulse Daisuke suddenly decides he wants before moving onto the next thing.
“I’ve become invested, Haru. Hence I’m making you an offer.”
Trust Daisuke to turn the smallest ounce of potential budding romance into a business pitch. Interest fizzling out, Haru goes back to the work they both should be doing as a collective unit.
Being hit on should not feel this humiliating, and yet.
“I swear to god if you don’t shut up, I will throw you out that window.”
It’s a bluff but not by much. Daisuke is pushing every single one of Haru’s buttons. He is This Close.
“You’d also be throwing out an incredible thing. I’d make things good for you.”
God - what even is this.
Haru doesn’t spare a glance up from his paperwork, he’s not in the mood to entertain whatever weird rich people game Daisuke has started today.
It’s supposed to be rhetorical, a careless response he slings Daisuke’s way so he can potentially glimpse peace in the next decade.
That doesn’t change anything, unfortunately. Haru has tempted fate now and fate is just a puppet dangling from the string held in his partner’s hands.
Of course Daisuke is going to steer it in his favour.
“If that’s what it takes.”
Alright. Haru will bite on this blatant bait, only because watching that smug smirk fall off Daisuke’s face the same speed he fell off a goddamn bridge is going to be extremely satisfying.
This guy has no idea what he’s getting himself into.
“I’ll consider taking you seriously about this - if you win.”
“When I win,” Daisuke corrects.
You won’t win, Haru keeps to himself.
The thing is, Daisuke is not just a rich bastard - he’s a clever one. This man might as well be stroking a cat on his lap, sitting in a leather chair to the backdrop of big dramatic windows and ominous music.
He’s got the leather chair sorted - that’s one out of four.
Adjusting the tie around his neck needlessly, Daisuke hums.
“All I have to do is prove to you that I would be a good partner?”
Just say boyfriend. There is still some good in this situation, because this bastard just activated Haru’s trap card.
“Not quite - I have one condition.”
Rather than be fazed by the shake up, Daisuke leans forwards on the leather couch he’s draped over. His eyes are gleaming, interest piqued. Haru purses his lips, frustration flaring through him.
They’re both set in their own ways. This is what happens when an unstoppable immeasurably loaded force meets an immovable pillar of justice.
Even now in his moment of trivial victory, it’s thwarted by a ridiculous stalemate Haru is going to have to break if they’re leaving here by sundown.
“My condition is you don’t spend money.”
“Fine,” Daisuke says with devastating nonchalance. “Though it’s bold of you to assume I would go further than five, maybe six digits at this point.”
Sure. Anything below seven digits isn’t money - obviously. And he just has to talk like his voice naturally drips with manuka honey, has to blink slow with hooded eyes that belong nowhere besides a fucking bedroom.
Haru would usually be hurtling curses his direction at this point, but he still has the ace up his sleeve. It’s not often he gets Daisuke backed into this much of a corner. He’s going to relish it.
”I guess the penny hasn’t dropped, huh.”
“You’ll have to excuse me, I wouldn’t notice something that insignificant.”
Ah, yes. Daisuke is more used to throwing notes at things, enough for this to fly over his stupid head.
“When I say no money, I don’t mean there’s a budget.”
Haru honestly thinks Daisuke has no idea what the fuck a budget would even look like.
Proving his point, Daisuke tilts his head in confusion. It would look innocent on a normal person but on him, it just seems calculated. As if he has memorised and practiced all the wonderful angles his face looks best at.
“I mean no money, none. Zero. Not a single stupid dollar of yours.”
Daisuke considers the words for a minute, until the curve of his lips is squashed by the weight of realisation. Ha. Gotcha.
“What about the bank’s dollars?”
Haru says nothing. It’s a tactic he finds works especially well when dealing with unreasonable, spoilt children.
“Oh. You’re actually serious…”
Standing from the couch, Daisuke pulls out a cigar from his case. Haru spots the golden glimmer of it, eyes rolling fast enough to get a strike if he were bowling. He’s not, but the pins are down anyway.
“You don’t like it?” Daisuke isn’t actually bothered, he’s just pretending to be.
“It’s new. And it’s gold.”
“Yeah I can see it’s gold, I-”
Wait a fucking minute.
Haru stares, ashamed to admit his jaw goes a little slack. He’s never seen that much gold in one place in his life and this guy is using it to hold his damn cigars.
“You’re not talking about the colour, are you…” if he sounds resigned it’s because he is.
There’s only so much he can take as an actual real person that exists in the world.
“Gold is just a colour to you?” Daisuke asks, and there’s a twitch to his lips that reveals he’s enjoying this far too much.
Logically, there is only one thing left to do. Haru storms out the room, paperwork be damned.
The news that Haru turned Daisuke’s advances into a petty wager between them will never be broken without needless commotion.
So Haru says nothing.
Maybe the majority of the world would snap up the offer in a heartbeat, and sure it is common knowledge that Daisuke Kanbe is a gorgeous man.
But that’s not it, really.
Because this is just another point of contention between them, simmering away until the dam bursts. It’s their way of doing things.
If Daisuke is really being serious about this and his words, then Haru has bought himself some time to crack this case wide open.
When the next day dawns, Haru wakes with zero expectations. He sets the bar low purely out of spite for the fact Daisuke seems to think he can set it so damn high without doing anything at all.
There’s a thing called effort, money can’t buy. Haru would like to see the manifestation of it.
He’s walking into the office, ready to tackle that paperwork he was meant to finish yesterday, when he finds Daisuke at the desk as opposed to the couch.
In all his time here, he has never chosen this.
“I finished it,” Daisuke gestures to the piles around him.
Haru blinks, then blinks again to make sure he isn’t hallucinating. This guy probably doesn’t even do his tax returns if at all, has a personal butler tending to his every whim.
Yet here he is, doing paperwork.
It’s just so surreal. And if anybody else made such a thoughtful gesture, it would be just that - thoughtful. Haru is only left with concern. He reaches over to pry one of the documents from Daisuke’s hands.
“Let me see that! You better have done it properly.”
Leaning back in the chair, Daisuke gives a shrug so nonchalant it barely exists in the realm of the living.
“How hard can it be?”
Well. Apparently, really fucking hard . The only thing Haru can see scribbled on any of these pages is Daisuke’s signature. Some of them don’t even need a signature.
It’s just absurd.
Haru purses his lips, sets the paper back down before he does something he will probably regret. Like knock the entire stack over in his hot pursuit of throttling Daisuke.
This is fine.
Perhaps Daisuke is trying, in his own weird way. He took the time to at least put them into organised piles and leave his mark. Or maybe he’s just being a dick on purpose.
“This is for you.”
Haru balks at the bento box passed his way. If it’s anything like the paperwork, he’d rather not chance food poisoning. But the thought of Daisuke preparing this food is highly suspect. This man has most things handed to him on a silver plate.
“Did you buy this from somewhere?”
“No. My personal chef made it.”
Setting the box down, Haru takes a steady breath. Day one of this wager and Daisuke has already failed. It’s brilliant that Haru hit this right on the nose yet completely tragic.
Part of him had been hoping for some kind of unexpected development.
“I know what you’re thinking. But I didn’t even pay them for this.”
Wow. Bragging about free labour is not it . Quite possibly the worst part of all of this is how Daisuke looks expectant, like he’s waiting for something in return from his partner.
“Why do you have a butler and a personal chef?” Haru asks because he cannot fathom the concept.
“Why wouldn’t I?”
And if there is any cue to leave this whole conversation in the dust behind them, this is it.
Haru shrugs his jacket back on. It’s been five minutes but he cannot bear to sit in this room any longer. He is going to lose his mind.
“We should get going,” Haru prompts.
Daisuke tosses the keys in Haru’s direction as they walk down the hallway. Picking up the keys from where they smacked him in the side, Haru stares down at them.
He is trying to understand what this means, but he really can’t.
When they reach the car, he still is no closer to understanding. Daisuke slips into the passenger seat - he definitely has not done that before.
Haru glances between the keys and the cause of his brewing headache.
“Why are you being weird?”
“Don’t you want to try it?” Daisuke asks.
It’s a stupid question.
This is a car Haru can only dream of having - of course he wants to try it. Plus his driving is a hundred times less diabolical than Daisuke’s. He could teach him a thing or two behind the wheel, that’s for sure.
“This is about yesterday, isn’t it.”
The door clicks shut behind him.
“Not only that.”
Narrowing his eyes, Haru leans in close enough to see how irritatingly pristine Daisuke’s skincare routine has to be. Nobody should naturally look this good, there’s just no way it can be allowed.
Daisuke keeps his gaze trained ahead, expression neutral.
“If you think you’re going to win me over with this, you’re wrong.”
Lips twitching, Daisuke dons his sunglasses.
Haru really wants to make this bastard eat those self-assured words, he really does.
Unfortunately, it’s the best drive of his life.
“Hey. We’re still working remember,” Haru sighs in exasperation.
Already, he knows the words are futile. The bite of his frustration doesn’t quite reach his voice, and he keeps it that way - on purpose.
Because this is an unprecedented situation.
Sat at the piano stool in the music shop, Daisuke is very quiet. So still that it’s completely unnerving. He could almost be a mannequin by the window, posed to sell a product.
As if magnetised, Daisuke and the piano became one in the corner of the room. He hasn’t played a single note.
It raises not only tension, but questions Haru isn’t sure he should speak into existence.
Haru takes the statement from the owners by himself, striving to keep his attention solely on the account of the robbery rather than the man by the piano.
For some reason, Daisuke looks so poignant. The light doesn’t touch his face over there.
Haru scribbles the details of the incident down with more force than necessary. The lead of his pencil snaps. There’s not much more he can do than skin over what he’s already taken down.
He’s distracted, in a way he shouldn’t be. Fortunately, nobody notices his dilemma. This isn’t like him.
But then again, that isn't like Daisuke.
Tucking the notepad into his pocket, Haru musters a polite smile.
“Thank you for your time. We’ll be in touch.”
“He’s allowed to play if he wants,” the owner says, eyes drifting over to the piano in the corner.
Haru has no idea what his partner wants to achieve sitting over there, and maybe Daisuke doesn’t know either.
It’s becoming uncomfortable to watch.
He looks like he belongs at the piano, like it could be made just for him. But there’s a cutting sharpness to Daisuke’s posture that tells Haru his spine is rigid out of stress rather than good practice.
Something else is going on here.
With a weak nod, Haru bids the owner a final farewell and inches closer to this strange creature that has taken control of Daisuke Kanbe.
The gloves have been peeled off his hands, set on the side of the piano. His hands hover over the keys.
Daisuke’s eyes are locked onto the piano, but there’s a vacancy that suggests his mind is elsewhere.
Everything about this is wrong and Haru would prefer not knowing there’s a part of Daisuke like this that exists. It not only makes him human, it makes this growing ache in his bones so much more tangible.
Who is he kidding, honestly. Wager or not, Haru can’t deny their horizon has looked this way for a while.
“Move over,” Haru grumbles, taking a seat by the top end of the piano.
This is a non-existent talent reserved only for house parties. Here he is, about to play badly in public.
Daisuke better realise how much of an embarrassment Haru is willing to make of himself - spared no fucking expense.
Haru plays the melody, fumbling over the keys with awkward fingers. He stops after the first line of Heart and Soul, waits for a response of some kind.
He may be a novice, but please - he’s not that bad . The song is definitely recognisable.
“Come on, even you must know this one.”
He plays the melody again, and this time he doesn’t stop or wait for Daisuke to catch up as the next part comes. After a few more notes, he doesn’t need to. The baseline and chords creep in, filling up the space beneath the tune.
Daisuke’s fingers glide beautifully across the keys. But he doesn’t overpower Haru’s line. They play a whole verse of the song, in balance.
It doesn’t matter that Haru fluffs a few notes, too busy watching the hypnotic elegant way Daisuke plays. That drags a laugh - of all things - out of the man .
A low rumble that hardly leaves Daisuke’s throat, subtle enough to miss. But it definitely happened and Haru wonders what it would take to hear it again.
More openly, next time.
As soon as it started, they reach the end of the tune.
Daisuke adjusts his suit jacket, pulling the gloves back on. Whatever haunted him before, it’s relinquished for now.
“You play well,” Haru prompts.
He chooses the words carefully, but not enough to be patronising.
“Do you miss playing to people?”
“Who would I play to?”
It’s a simple question, but there’s something raw and agonising laced in every syllable. Maybe Haru has overstepped.
There’s no use in turning back now. They’ve come this far, after all. Averting his gaze, Haru clutches the edges of the stool they’re sat on.
“I’d listen. As long as you don’t show off too much.”
God this is really kind of humiliating. Haru suppresses the urge to squeeze his eyes shut as the silence stretches around them.
This is the last time he tries to help a rich person - they’re impossible to read.
“I’d never play to you, Haru.”
Well. Consider this whole thing officially ruined. Haru levels Daisuke with a glare, relieved to find mischievous eyes staring back.
“But I would play for you.”
Before Haru can even process that, the smoother than fucking smooth delivery of the words, Daisuke is walking out of the music shop.
“Hey- you-?” Haru calls out, scrambling to catch up. “You can’t just come out with something like that, bastard!”
“Why? It’s not against the rules.”
Haru stifles the strange flicker of annoyance whipped up inside his chest. He’s the one who suggested this whole farce in the first place, it’s hypocritical to be the one getting bothered by it.
“Back on your bullshit already.” To think, they were having a moment back there.
Daisuke hums, pace slowing to something more languid. Like they don’t have a testimony to go over or a case to solve.
“I had some assistance this time.”
At the words, Haru glances over. Between the hollow words, the resounding notes of the piano in the shop, it almost sounds like a thank you.
Following the piano incident, the rest of the week has been so underwhelming that Haru hasn’t even thought of their silly bet once.
Cases come and go, Daisuke has done nothing out of the ordinary. So when Haru sets the black coffee down in front of Daisuke wordlessly, he almost misses the flicker of amusement.
Good thing he’s trained for this.
Daisuke holds the starbucks cup in his hands, examining it like he’s never held one before. Well who knows, maybe it’s just too cheap for him and his billions of billion billions.
Daisuke smirks, because he’s rather gifted in the department of complacency.
“I won, you said no money.”
Oh. Right. The bet. Running a hand down his face, Haru groans. It is way too early to be dealing with this man and his most chaotic form.
“That part was for you, not me. This isn’t even about that! If you’re going to be ungrateful, just give it back.”
Haru could use that extra shot of caffeine right now. Of all things, Daisuke chooses to grip the coffee tighter, almost possessively. For god’s sake.
“You broke the rules. This is my win now.”
The smirk hangs more precariously off Daisuke’s lips. But it’s not going to fall, not with his ethereal bone structure. Anyway.
“There’s no need to be such a sore loser...”
That’s it, the final catalyst. Haru stands from the desk, something burning beneath his skin he can no longer suppress.
“It really doesn’t matter who won, okay?! Since when have I ever brought you coffee? Do I need to spell it out for you? How - how else can I make it clear that the stupid wager means nothing because it turns out for some god forsaken reason I like you anyway?!”
The room goes horribly quiet, then.
Haru slumps down into his chair, utterly defeated by the things coaxed out of his chest without permission. A horrible flush rises up his cheeks, heart racing as realisation sears through him.
He really just said that. All of that. Out loud.
This is it. Life is over.
Daisuke, on the other hand, looks rather pleased with himself and the situation. In lieu of something nice or charming, something that could justify Haru falling for this beautiful awful man, he quirks a brow.
“See? I won.”
Tugging out his sunglasses, Daisuke continues.
“Can I spend money now? There’s a place in mind I have for dinner.”
“You’re making reservations?” Haru manages, barely.
He’s only just regathered the tiny fragments of his splintered soul.
At that, Daisuke lowers his sunglasses to look over the rim. It’s a terrible withering glance that could probably kill a poor unsuspecting stranger.
Okay, fine. Haru gets it. But he really doesn’t need this rich sass right now.
“HEUSC,” Daisuke taps on the earpiece. “Can you place the order for this evening. Yes, to go.”
“You can’t be serious.”
Daisuke puts his sunglasses back into his suit pocket, tragically composed. He is, it seems, serious.
“You don’t even know what I like.”
“You’ll like this.”
It is truly impressive how Haru can swing so easily between wanting to punch this ridiculous farce of a human being in the face with his fist and his mouth. Mostly his mouth. Damn this.
“We’ll meet on the roof at seven,” Daisuke says before sweeping out the room to do god knows what. Probably just so he can make a mysterious dramatic exit.
Haru bites down on his smile, even if there’s no way of being caught. He can’t be doing something so foolish so soon.
What a stupid man.
By the time evening comes, Haru has three different running theories. All of them are flamboyant, none of them lacking in luxury. Admittedly, it’s not Haru’s style.
But if anything, he is true to his word. He will give this a chance, not just because of a bet but because he actually wants to.
The first thing he sees when he steps out onto the roof is a helicopter. Daisuke stands beside it, bathed in the orange sun.
The soft glow does wonders for him, more akin to an elusive mirage from a time and place Haru has no recollection of visiting than a person.
Their eyes meet across the roof, and Haru reminds himself to stay strong. There’s no way this isn’t on purpose, that Daisuke has accidentally recreated one of their first moments together.
Who knows, maybe romance isn’t completely dead.
There’s a breathless laugh fluttering up in his chest. Haru tries to hold his ground, doing everything in his power to swallow the traitorous sound down.
“Just so you know, I’m not getting in that thing.”
Unfazed, Daisuke opens the helicopter door.
“I’ve met you halfway. I thought you’d prefer this than a trip to the Michelin star restaurant.”
If this is where Daisuke thinks halfway sits between them, then he really needs a reality check.
Reaching into the helicopter, Daisuke pulls out two paper bags.
“That’s why I got the food delivered from the restaurant to here.”
“By… helicopter?” Haru asks, incredulous.
“It came on the jet first - the restaurant is in France.”
Daisuke merely smirks, taking the words as a compliment. He tilts his head, crooking a finger as if genuinely thinking he could beckon anybody to his side in such a way.
“Aren’t you going to meet me halfway, Haru? We’re partners.”
“Oh. I’ll show you halfway alright-”
Haru marches forwards with purpose and intent. He goes past the halfway point, further, further still and he doesn’t stop won’t stop until there’s open surprise splitting that smirk open.
He’s inches from Daisuke when it happens - it is totally priceless.
Yanking the man closer by his expensive tie, Haru crashes their lips together next. It’s a fairly graceless kiss at the start, but they find their rhythm soon enough.
Much like how they have found their way together in everything else.
Daisuke’s lips are softer than the finest silk, they melt so easily against him - which of course Haru should have prepared himself for. But to be honest, nothing could have prepared him for just how good this feels. A hand slides around his hip, squeezing tight. Pressed snug against a firm chest, Haru is itching to roam all over.
Instead, the gurgling of his stomach interrupts the moment. Louder than it has ever been.
Haru freezes, hand releasing a clump of Daisuke’s hair. He glances down as if it could somehow will his stupid body to shut up.
There is simply no bigger mood killer than this.
Daisuke hums, reaching down to smooth over the source of the commotion. And Haru does not shudder because that would be ridiculous.
He’s hungry for actual food, thanks.
“I was hoping for another sort of sound, but we’ll get to that.”
“Your lips are dry,” Haru quips back, aware it’s a weak response.
“No they’re not.”
Pressing a chaste kiss to Haru’s forehead that is so tender it could bruise, Daisuke picks up the takeout bags he dropped to the ground. How dare he . What the fuck.
“Hurry up before we need to use the microwave.”
Haru doesn't even know where to start with that. The disdain at the concept of reheating food is ludicrous. How it even stayed hot on the journey is another question entirely.
Then there’s the soft curve of Daisuke’s lips, that means he might just be making an awful joke nobody could ever prove.
Above all, Haru is reeling from the kiss - the second one. The one that said far too much, that exposed them both in ways both terrifying and exhilarating. The one Daisuke had to tug him down for, may have had to crane up a little to even reach which Haru can't even confirm because it's one massive magnificent blur.
Haru has not experienced whiplash to this degree in his lifetime.
Taking one of the bags, Haru sighs. He’s tempted to look inside but has accepted this is not going to be normal takeout.
“What am I going to do with you?”
The sun catches Daisuke’s eyes, bringing every unspoken thing tucked inside them to light. It’s kind of mesmerising.
And of course, the bastard chooses now to come out with the most predictable, most cheesy line in the book - like he suddenly is the pioneering figurehead of modern romance.
Haru isn’t sold. But his heart is officially set to jump out of his chest. Brushing the hair off his forehead, he levels Daisuke with a shaky grin.
“If that’s what it takes.”
Yeah, okay. They could probably do this for the rest of their lives.
They’re pretty good at this, being partners.