The story of how Nowaki ends up drinking with Hiroki’s colleagues is so boringly predictable that he’s almost surprised it hadn’t happened sooner. The part that’s interesting, however, is what happens after.
It goes a little something like this:
Hiroki forgets a stack of graded students’ papers at home that needs to be entered into the system before the day ends, and Nowaki, having finished his early shift at the hospital, volunteers to bring it to the university.
“Just come up to my office,” Hiroki instructs to him over the phone. Usually, Nowaki delivers things to Hiroki at the university entrance, but since it’s their free night, the faster Hiroki gets the papers grades entered, the faster they can leave and enjoy their date together.
“Thanks. You’re a lifesaver, Nowaki,” Hiroki says when Nowaki shows up with the folder and grabs the folder out of his hands.
“It’s no problem at all, Hiro-san.”
As Hiroki taps away at the computer, Nowaki takes the chance to look around the office – or at least what he can see of it, around the giant stacks of books. It’s almost relaxing because for once, because Miyagi isn’t in the office, and Nowaki takes the chance to properly appreciate not only how much Hiroki loves literature, but how hard he always works.
Just as Hiroki’s types in the last grade and hits enter, declaring, “And, done!” someone’s head pokes into the office.
“Hey, Kamijou, we’re all going out drinking. Wanna come?” Hiroki’s colleague asks. He blinks at Nowaki before amending, “Ah, unless if you’re busy with a student…?”
“Oh, I’m not Hiro-san’s student,” Nowaki says while Hiroki sputters.
“Great!” Hiroki’s coworker says, not the least bit put off by Nowaki’s casual address towards Hiroki. “Are you coming then, Kamijou?”
Nowaki bites the inside of his lip. He had been really looking forward to their date tonight, but Nowaki also doesn’t want to be the type of suffocating boyfriend that wouldn’t allow his lover to go out or have other friends.
Hiroki opens his mouth. “I, uh—”
“You should go and have fun,” Nowaki blurts out.
Hiroki sputters. “No!” he hisses. “I don’t want—”
“Oh, and of course your friend can come too,” Hiroki’s coworker offers.
They turn to look at each other. Now there’s no way to decline politely.
“It could be fun?” Nowaki offers.
Hiroki rubs his temple.
In fact, it turns out to be quite fun, for Nowaki at least. Hiroki’s coworkers are all warm, welcoming, charming people, and forty-five minutes later, Hiroki is flushed and somehow discretely sitting half in his lap in a way that no one else has noticed.
The best part of the experience, Nowaki realizes, is that Miyagi isn’t there.
“Where’s Professor Miyagi?” he asks anyway, just to be polite.
“Oh, working overtime to tutor the Dean’s kid again,” Kita – the one who’d invited them both out in the first place – says dismissively.
“Serves him right,” Hiroki mutters against Nowaki’s arm, though no one else hears him.
“It must be rough, though,” one of the girls from across the table comments, cupping her cheek delicately and sighing. “Maybe the Dean hopes that he’ll get back together with his daughter eventually... It has to be hard for him to find another lover…”
Nowaki takes a sip of his beer, and it’s only after he puts his glass down that he realizes there’s been a long, awkward pause and everyone is staring in his direction.
He blinks. “Yes?”
Hiroki chooses that moment to sit up, and attempts to grab the glass Nowaki just put down, clearly buzzed enough that he no longer has inhibition over propriety or awareness of their mutually agreed-upon policy that they didn’t share things in public.
“Hiro-san,” Nowaki says, grabbing the glass out of his hand. “This is mine. Yours is over there.”
Hiroki scowls and reaches for Nowaki’s glass of water instead, but Nowaki doesn’t stop him.
“So, Kusama-kun,” Kita asks a bit cautiously, “you said you were Kamijou’s roommate, right?”
Nowaki nods, suddenly a little uncomfortable.
Kita laughs. “Can you tell us a bit about Kamijou’s mysterious lover, then? Every time we go out drinking, he refuses to shut up about her, and yet we don’t even get her name.”
“Ah…” Nowaki smiles sheepishly and attempts to think of diplomatic things to say about himself. “Hiro-san and his lover… are wonderful together. They love each other very much and make a really great couple.”
Hiroki sets the glass of water down and adds, “Nowaki is—”
“—very supportive and happy for them,” Nowaki interrupts before Hiroki can accidentally out himself to his colleagues while half-drunk. They do all seem like nice people to Nowaki, but they’re Hiroki’s coworkers and not his, and Nowaki isn’t the one whose professorship tenure might ride on these people. “I’m really glad they’re together.”
Hiroki glares at him but doesn’t say whatever he was about to say.
Kita, on the other hand, laughs. “That’s great, but I was wondering if you could tell us a little more about the type of person she is. Whenever he talks about her, he says she’s like a St. Bernard crossed with a cat, and none of us can imagine what kind of person that would be.”
Nowaki looks over at Hiroki, and Hiroki’s face turns bright red.
“Well that’s because Nowaki is—”
“—respectful of their relationship, since Hiro-san’s lover is a private person,” Nowaki finishes quickly before anything stupid can come out of Hiroki’s mouth.
Everyone looks at them curiously. Hiroki punches him in the arm.
“Stop interrupting me,” he says, but doesn’t try to finish his previous thought.
No one asks about Hiroki’s lover again for the rest of the night.
A little after ten o’clock, Nowaki asks for them to be excused since he does have the early shift again the next morning, and Nowaki still wants to be able to enjoy the typical end of their date night even though the date this time is slightly less conventional.
Hiroki’s slightly unsteady on his feet and leans up against Nowaki’s side as they’re waiting outside in the taxi queue.
“I hope you had a good time tonight,” Kita says when he joins them in the line a few minutes later.
“It was enjoyable. Thank you for inviting me,” Nowaki says as Hiroki mumbles something angry and incoherent.
“We were all really surprised, though,” Kita continues. “Usually when someone even mentions a new boyfriend or girlfriend, Kamijou never shuts up about his lover.” Kita smiles at him.
“I do not—” Hiroki tries to argue, looking a little horrified.
“You really do, Kamijou.” Kita turns back to Nowaki. “But with you here, he barely even said anything when we outright asked you.”
Nowaki blushes up to his ears, and beside him, Hiroki makes noises of what death by mortification probably sound like. Thankfully, it’s dark out and the taxi queue’s other members are loud so Kita notices neither.
“Anyway, I don’t know how you do it, but that’s a nifty talent you have there, getting Kamijou to shut up about his lover. You should come out with us again, and next time, share your secret.”
Thankfully, they’re the front of the queue now, and are saved from any further indignation when a new taxi chooses that moment to pull up. Nowaki nods once at Kita as goodbye and climbs into the car.
“Don’t get any funny ideas,” Hiroki hisses as he climbs in after Nowaki, pinching him in the arm.
“…A cross between a St. Bernard and a cat?”