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Hikaru looked down at the slice of strawberry shortcake on his plate and the plastic cup of sparkling something-or-other next to it and the bucket of fried chicken and he wondered what the expression on his face must look like since it felt like revulsion. He tried to push his features into a semblance of a smile and looked up at Akira. "So, we're going to try some different things for the holidays this year?"

"Something like that." Akira plucked a chicken leg from the bucket. "It wasn't entirely my idea."

With a grimace, Hikaru grabbed for a thigh. "It wasn't your mother again, was it?"

Akira shook his head. "No, not this time. Ashiwara-san, though..."

"Ashiwara? That's who you're taking dating advice from? When was the last time he went on a date with someone?"

"I wasn't necessarily against it, you know. We spend all of our time together reading kifu and discussing teaching games and playing. Can we really be dating if all of our encounters are ones where we could just as easily be co-workers?"

Hikaru laughed. "Are you saying that you would have done what we did at that hotel with just anyone who played go?"

Akira's eyes flashed. "What? No! But as we were there in the first place for a go competition, it doesn't do much to go against my point."

"So, does this mean you want to start, oh, going to arcades and movies and the other stuff that normal couples do?" Hikaru took a bite of his chicken and chewed slowly.

Akira pointed at Hikaru with the chicken leg. "I'm not saying in any way, shape or form that we need to be a 'normal' couple. That's actually the last thing I want."

Hikaru hastily finished his mouthful of chicken. "It's not like doing things as a couple is horrible, though! But, this, in particular, just isn't right."

"I... I had to reserve all of this two weeks ago! I asked so many people what there was for a couple of guys to do on Christmas Eve!"

Hikaru snickered as he wiped his mouth with a napkin and picked up the chicken again. "Did you make sure they knew you meant a dating couple?"


"Your family has probably just never done it, but the whole fried chicken thing tends to be a family and friends thing. If you're dating, you're supposed to go out to eat." Hikaru sipped at his drink, but it tasted more like bubbles than anything else. He put his chicken back down and prodded at one of the strawberries on top of his case with the back of one fingernail.

Akira sighed and let his chicken leg drop to his plate. "I'm sorry."

Hikaru reached over and grabbed his shoulder; rubbing it gently. "Don't be sorry. You were trying and that counts for a lot!" He pulled his hand away and his eyes went wide. "Oh, shit."

"Hmm? What's wrong?" Akira saw Hikaru staring at his shoulder and looked down to see what he was looking at and sighed. "Didn't think to wipe your hands before touching my one sweater that you don't hate, did you?"

"I..." Hikaru grabbed for his napkin and patted it against the grease spot on Akira's sweater ineffectually. "I'm the sorry one now?"

Akira smirked and let his hands drop to his lap where he pulled the bottom of his sweater from his pants and tugged it up over his head. The static made a fine layer of his hair seem to float above his head as he pulled his sleeves through the sweater to leave him in a thin button-up shirt. "I know you just wanted to get me naked."

Hikaru wiped off his hands a little harder and then reached up to smooth down Akira's fly-aways as he felt his cheeks flush pink. "Would that be so horrible?"

Catching Hikaru's wrist, Akira pulled him even closer and kissed him softly. "Maybe later. What do you say we go back to what we're good at and play a game of go?"

"Yes, please!"