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Nezumi is leaning against the doorway to the kitchen. If Shion's mother were here, she would nag at Nezumi to take a seat and make himself comfortable, but Shion isn't his mother and Nezumi's never been one to take his commands seriously, if ever he bothers to listen to half the stupid (incorrigible) things that come out of his mouth.

He feels almost like a cornered rat rather than a pampered pet, but at least Shion doesn't make sudden movements. Shion slices the cooked beef into thin strips and rummages through the vegetable crisper for anything useful. He emerges triumphant with a potato in hand and half a carrot in the other. The kettle for this afternoon's tea he leaves with its mouth opened slightly; he takes care not to brush against the metal as he checks the broth that simmers on the other hot plate. He dumps the chopped onion and leeks into the pot. It's a strange combination, and Nezumi says as much.

"Trust me," soothes Shion. "I've been experimenting."

Nezumi falls silent, at that, but he takes a hesitant step closer, one, two, three, until he can rest his head against Shion's back, if he chooses to. He doesn't.

It's strange, watching Shion and listening to his narration of last month's hot pot; Nezumi's only been here for a few hours, most of it having been spent leaning over Shion's arched back and whispering his name over and over until Shion came. Shion suddenly becoming competent is not something he's used to, for all his intellect, and it must show on his face because Shion sort of scowls.

"Here," says Shion, deftly maneuvering the spoon closer to Nezumi's mouth.

Nezumi only takes a moment to consider it. "Needs more salt," he decides, and waits until Shion finishes puttering about before he encircles Shion's wrist with one hand.

Nezumi opens his mouth; he closes it again. Shion looks at him with a softness in his eyes, almost pitying but affectionate. "It's okay," says Shion, and Nezumi hears the underlying I don't expect anything from you.

"I'm still new to this," Nezumi confesses. His voice is small and low, but it's familiar, and it scares him, this feeling. It doesn't have to be complicated but Nezumi isn't a simple person.

"I know," says Shion, smiling crookedly, as if he really understands. He stands on his tip toes to brush his lips past Nezumi's cheek; their shadows join together in a parody of a kiss, and Nezumi almost believes him then.

It isn't hard to close the distance between them. Not hard at all.