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That was that.

On the last day Aoba spent at home, he spent a long time just standing in his room, looking around. Here and there, he'd find little things that he had sentimental value in; things that he wanted to take with him, even if they weren't necessary. One look at his suitcase was enough to remind him of that. He didn't have the room to fit everything.

The longer he stood there, the heavier the weight on his heart felt. Ren kept incessantly questioning his agitated condition, but he swore that it was nothing.

He was nervous. Anyone would've been. Making a life-altering decision in a few days' time was stressful; ridiculously stressful. Somehow, Noiz had quieted many of his other anxieties the night before, but the hesitation he felt about leaving home stubbornly remained. He knew that he could come back whenever he wanted to and he knew that he wasn't even obligated to stay in Germany if he didn't immediately feel comfortable there. That was how accommodating Noiz was, but... At the same time, that kind of consideration was what made him feel obligated to join him.

After he got done cramming a few more shirts into his suitcase, he tucked Ren into his bag and gave his room one last look.

There was a reason he was leaving.

He knew that the day would come eventually when he might have to leave that place, to depart from the island, but it was always just some day, never today or the next. It was an unspecific inevitability, the kind of thing he couldn't possibly anticipate unless he set the date himself. The idea made him feel too anxious to even think about, so he never let himself linger on the thought of it for too long, but he knew that he would have to think about it eventually. Whether he made the choice or the choice presented itself to him, he knew that it was one he might have to make.

And it came to him dressed in a suit and tie, looking handsome and charming and feeling no less intimidating than he expected it to be.

But Noiz was nervous too. He was doing his best to act twice his age, to look responsible and in-control, but the gap between the Noiz that Aoba remembered and the one who showed up at Heibon after three months made the mask of confidence he was wearing more obvious. Aoba saw a miniscule crack fracture its surface when Noiz caught the scent of his hesitation.

If he didn't go with him, if he didn't love him, Noiz would leave.

There was a whole myriad of reasons why Noiz left, but more than anything, it was because he didn't want to lose Aoba.

It was a risky move to do something that stupid. Even if Aoba visited him religiously while he was in the hospital, they had never officially given a name to what they had. Were they boyfriends? Whenever Aoba considered it, his pulse pounded so loudly in his ears that he couldn't even think, but those feelings alone weren't enough to act as glue when Noiz abruptly tore himself out of his life. It seemed a little arrogant of him to think that Aoba would patiently wait for him, even if he didn't know where he went.

When Aoba thought about it more, though, he had to wonder if Noiz was even capable of being arrogant; actually, intentionally arrogant. He did what he felt he had to do. At the heart of it, that was all he thought about when he made his decision to leave.

Noiz didn't want to lose him.

He didn't want to lose Noiz.

If Aoba told him to slow down and stay in Midorijima with him, he probably would have, but he didn't want to stop the progress Noiz was making. He came back and bravely faced his grandmother to secure their relationship, and that was no small feat. He already knew how intimidating she could be.

When he left his room with his suitcase in hand, he brought along his resolve. It still felt a bit tenuous, but when he stacked up all of his reasons, he could feel their worth. There were things that Noiz had done for him and there were things that he'd decided that he needed to do for Noiz. Now, even if the future was coming at him suddenly, slamming into him with enough force to knock him off his feet, Aoba knew that he had to go with it. If he didn't, that future would become nothing but a speck in his rear-view mirror; a fragment of the past.

He didn't bother to give his room 'one more look'. It would only make things more difficult.

On their way to the airport, Noiz told him something unusual. Confused, Aoba looked at him as he tried to figure out what he was saying.

“You aren't leaving.”

At first, he worried that Noiz had changed his mind, but the longer he looked at him, he realized that that wasn't the case. He just had an extraordinarily odd way of wording things sometimes.

Just like he said, he could always come back, whenever he wanted. In three months, two, even less, he could visit the island if he wanted to. That was why, he realized with a pang of guilt in his heart, that Noiz never told him goodbye when he left. As someone who'd always had the capacity to feel, Aoba had never thought about it that way.

This wasn't goodbye. The place where he lived would change, but the relationships he had on the island would remain. He wasn't abandoning them. He wasn't leaving so he could leave them, so he didn't need to feel guilty.

Well, at least he understood Noiz's sentiment. It was another thing to feel it, and it was going to be a while before it would seep into his skin.

Aoba had to do something to distract himself. It was pointless to worry too much about how he would feel about Germany until they arrived, so he had to put his thoughts on other things. It was tough, though. His doubts and apprehensions continued to resurface no matter what he tried to think about. Even on the plane, it was impossible. They were miles in the air and it was his first time flying, but instead of being airsick, he was making himself sick thinking about what his new home and his new family and his new life were going to be like.

When he was feeling nervous, he liked to stroke Ren's fur, but he was currently curled up in his carry on bag. In accordance with airplane safety, he had him turned off and stashed under his seat during take off. He considered taking him back out, but hesitated.

In an instant, he experienced a moment of bright, clear peace when he felt the touch of Noiz's fingertips against the back of his hand. It came out of nowhere, like much of Noiz's affection seemed to, but it made Aoba realize something. While Noiz still hadn't seen the whole rainbow of emotions and sensations, he already understood the potential of a single touch.

It was just a little thing and it surprised him at first, but it brought a smile to Aoba's lips. He removed his hand for a moment to push up the armrest that separated them, and watched the light in Noiz's eyes brighten as he turned his hand over and held their hands palm-to-palm. That calmed his thoughts enough for a while. He was already so exhausted from running circles in his mind that it felt like a blessing to close his eyes.

He fell asleep. It bothered him that he couldn't remember when that happened, but his body was grateful for the rest. After spending the last few days filled to the brim with anxiety, he'd been in sore need of sleep. When he opened his eyes, he found Noiz's face no more than a few inches from his own, staring at him intensely, sitting so close that he was almost in Aoba's seat.

Noiz understood the power of touch but he didn't quite grasp the importance of personal space yet.

After Noiz settled back into his own seat, Aoba noticed that their hands were still joined. Noiz apologized and explained that he would've put his arm around him instead, but he couldn't bring himself to separate their hands. Even if he wanted to, he said, Aoba was holding his too tightly to remove.

That was kind of embarrassing, but...


Sensing his embarrassment, Noiz squeezed his hand more tightly and averted his gaze to the center aisle. Aoba could still see the little, satisfied smile he wore, though.

He expected the flight to be smooth sky-sailing after that, but he hadn't realized how long he'd been asleep for.

Only three hours. Three hours out of a twelve-and-a-half hour flight. That was the point of the flight where he remembered that he'd never flown before and his vision began to swim. It took him a few dozen deep breaths and one cold glass of ice water to make his stomach obey. He got it under control in the end, but Noiz watched him with a guilty expression the whole time, like he felt responsible for that mile high torture.

Well, he was. But Aoba wasn't interested in making Noiz worry any more than he probably already was. Noiz's concern suddenly brought back the memory of the hotel and the things they'd done and Aoba broke out into a sweat that lasted him the rest of the flight.

Thankfully, he made it out of the airplane alive. The airport wasn't very different from the one in Japan, except there was a lot more German and much, much less Japanese. There was English on signs too, which was good in a way, because whenever he couldn't understand a word in German, the English sounded familiar. He didn't have to worry about understanding it yet, though, because Noiz could read all of it.

He knew that Noiz was smart but he'd never realized that he was trilingual levels of smart. It was sort of intimidating, but being locked in a room with nothing to do but read and study alone would probably yield those kinds of results on a person. Still, even if Noiz wanted him to rely on him, it made Aoba feel... inadequate.

Noiz just seemed so perfect when he returned. The mask must've still been fooling him because Aoba had to remind himself that what was underneath it was far from perfect, though. That was one of the things he loved about him, in fact. Aoba wanted to sew his seams closed, complete him, and help Noiz become the person he wasn't allowed to be before.

By the time they left the airport with all of their luggage, Aoba was already feeling ten times more positive than he'd been when they stepped off the plane. A sliver of intimidation crept back inside him when he followed Noiz to his car – his very expensive, gorgeous car.

When Aoba expressed how impressed he was, Noiz gave him a casual shrug. It didn't strike Aoba as the kind of car Noiz would drive and he was right. He said he needed something classy and impressive for work, but he would've probably preferred something else. But it was fine. Because it was a car. And it did what a car was supposed to do.

If Noiz had enough money to buy such an expensive car, then he could've probably gotten himself another one that he did like, but Aoba wasn't going to press it. He feared the power that his suggestions had on Noiz.

Besides, even if Noiz wasn't particularly fond of it, Aoba thought it was nice. It was a beautiful, sleek car with a unique, shimmering black paint job. All of their luggage easily fit into the spacious trunk. The seats were leather – and heated. Best of all, it had an incredible radio. The fact that he liked it so much seemed to make Noiz happy, so Aoba had the feeling that even if he didn't like the car now, he was going to become fond of it sometime down the road.

His palms became sweatier the closer they got to their destination. Noiz managed to keep him focused on other things by talking about work, which really captured Aoba's interest since he hadn't heard much about it when they were still in Midorijima. Aside from the fact that he was working for his family's company, he hadn't heard any other details. For all he knew, he could've been a pimp or a yakuza. Knowing the kind of people who he typically attracted, Aoba wouldn't have been surprised.

It was something a lot more normal than that. Noiz played an essential role in the company, doing what he described as 'network and data management'. It sounded like they would cease to function without a guy like him around and he made it sound like his brother was constantly on his hands and knees, kissing his ass for all the effort he put in for them. Noiz didn't think his brother had any ulterior motives though, that he was just that happy to have him there again, happy to have his big brother.

His brother sounded pretty broken up about his disappearance. Aoba could relate, even if it had only been three months in his case. Noiz's parents, however... They were going to be a trip to meet.

Come to think of it.

He leaned his elbow on the center console and casually looked out the window as Noiz drove and asked him if anyone would be meeting them when they arrived.

Thankfully not.

He and Noiz were already moving fast. Meeting them on the first day would've been overkill. And, unfortunately, they didn't seem like the types who would've been genuinely interested in the choices of the son they neglected.

The drive from the airport took under an hour. As they got closer to Noiz's place, Aoba found himself taking more glances at him to check his reaction, for anything that could tell him what to expect. It wasn't until they were pulling into a driveway that a large, confident grin spread across Noiz's face, but Aoba's mind refused to believe that they were really in the right place.

Noiz popped the locks and stepped out, gesturing for Aoba to do the same after he noticed that he was still frozen in the car. Aoba got out with some effort and weakly lifted a hand to point at the... rather large house in front of them.

“This is... This is a family house, right? This is where your family lives.”

Noiz's grin smoothed out and his eyebrows raised. “Hm? No. This is the place I got for us.” He crossed to where Aoba stood and clasped his hand in one of his and gently began pulling him toward the front door. “Here, it's not as common to stay with your whole family the way it is in Japan. Besides, I'd rather we have our privacy.”

With that tone of voice, Aoba knew what Noiz was thinking. He was just too tired to indulge him.

Noiz opened the door for him to let him inside. While he ran back out to retrieve their luggage from the trunk, Aoba stood in the foyer, paralyzed as his eyes scoured every corner of the gorgeous building in front of him. It was only the foyer. He couldn't even see more than the steps that went up to the second floor and the hallway in front of him and some other door to the right that led to who-knew-where, but he was already feeling overwhelmed because he knew that there was a lot more to the house that he hadn't even seen yet.

His old room in Midorijima? Probably smaller than the foyer.

“Yo. You alright?” Noiz set down the suitcase he was holding so he could wave a hand in front of his face. “You've got that lame look again.”

It sounded like he was trying not to sound interested, but Aoba could tell that he was dying to know what he thought about the place. The truth was... “It's too big. I mean, it's just me and you, so isn't this, like... a lot?

Oh no. He struck a nerve.

Shoulders slumping, Noiz turned his head and looked aside, and Aoba knew he had to do something quickly to correct what he said. He came off sounding way too ungrateful. Anyone else would've been ecstatic to be living in such a grand, luxurious house, but it was just – it was so different from what he used to have.

“What I mean is,” Aoba started, clearing his throat. “I would've never dreamed of living in a place like this. You have truly surpassed all of my expectations. Literally. You have destroyed my expectations. I don't know what to expect from you anymore.” A laugh bubbled up from his chest and he placed a hand reassuringly on Noiz's shoulder. “This? It's unbelievable.”

The expression on Noiz's face was hard to read, but he picked up his shoulders and slowly slid his arms around Aoba's waist to hold him in a loose embrace. “Does that mean you like it?”

“I won't have a proper opinion until I've seen the rest of the place, but from what I've seen so far? Yes. It's very nice. And I appreciate all the work it took you to get this for me.”

Raising himself up on his toes, Aoba pressed a kiss to the bridge of his nose, between Noiz's eyes where one of his piercings used to be.

Noiz held him more tightly and tilted his head to capture Aoba's lips, leading him into a direct and passionate kiss. Caught off guard, Aoba let out a yelp that turned into a sigh as Noiz's soft lips pressed against his. When he pulled away, Aoba's chest felt tight, his heart overflowing with emotion. All of the hours he spent on the plane also caught up with him and he suddenly felt extremely tired.

Noiz leaned back in and nuzzled their cheeks together. “Welcome home,” he murmured, close to Aoba's ear.

Aoba could feel his ears burning and hoped that Noiz wouldn't comment on it. Taking a deep breath, he returned his embrace and leaned back to look at his face. “Thank you,” he said, feeling his confidence renewing when he saw Noiz's strong, affectionate smile. “It's good to be here. With you.”

Suddenly, a thought.

He broke away from Noiz's gaze and knelt down next to the bag he brought in with him; the small carry on holding Ren.

“It's Ren's first time here, too. I feel kind of bad. He's been asleep this whole time. I hope he won't feel too weird waking up in a totally different place.”

Noiz shrugged. “He's an Allmate. I'm sure he knows how to adjust.”

Aoba turned him on and placed him in his lap, waiting for him to wake up. Ren's round eyes blinked open and he answered him in his usual manner.

“Aoba, hello. Have we arrived?”

“You see?” Noiz said. “He's a smart machine. He knows what's up.”

Ren rolled over and hopped from Aoba's lap to the floor, and looked up at Noiz. “I'll assume we have then. Hello, Noiz.”

Noiz gave him a small wave that was barely more than a flick of his fingers. “Hey. Feel free to go have yourself a look around the place. Leave me and your master alone for a while, would you?” Able to tell that Aoba was about to object to the abrupt attitude he was taking with Ren, he held up a finger and began searching through his own suitcase. Aoba recognized the chain of green cubes he pulled from its depths. Just like real rabbits, they seemed to multiply every time he saw them.

Unlinking them, he turned them on one at a time and tossed them toward Ren who, unlike a real dog, did not bother chasing them. They squeaked, greeted their master in unison, and swarmed around Ren when he instructed that they look after him. Ren looked behind himself and gave Aoba a weary look, but sighed and followed Noiz's bunny cubes down the hall.

“That takes care of that. They'll keep him busy for a while,” he said, looking proud of himself. He zipped his suitcase back up, stood, and straightened out the front of his suit jacket. “Well then. Shall we?”

Shall we?” Aoba repeated slowly. “Shouldn't we get unpacked first?”

“But you're tired, aren't you? These things can wait. They won't go anywhere. Let me show you around a little bit, then we can rest and worry about unpacking later.” He came closer and entangled a few fingers in the long hair that fell over Aoba's shoulder. “I can help you relax.”

Now that he mentioned it, he was awfully tired. What time was it, anyway? He hadn't adjusted the region settings on his coil yet, so the time displayed was still what it would've been in Japan; around nine o'clock at night.

“Hey,” he asked, “what time is it anyway?”

Noiz lifted his sleeve to glance at his elegant silver coil. Apparently his was already set. “Two PM. There's a seven hour time difference, so it might feel like we've traveled back in time. That's why, like I said, I'm sure you're feeling very tired.”

He was really trying to drive that in. It was too suspicious not to be intentional. The perverted brat was up to something.

“I'm onto you,” he muttered quietly.

Noiz slyly lowered his lashes and hummed innocently. “What was that?”

Aoba slapped him on the arm and glared. Whatever. “So? Show me around.” He backed up and looked down the hallway where Ren disappeared with Noiz's Allmates, then looked up the stairs in front of them to the left. “Where do we even start? My head hurts already thinking about how many rooms there must be in here. It's like a miniature hotel or something.”

“You'll get used to it quickly. It doesn't seem that big once you know where everything is. Although...” He trailed off and the deep look in his eyes captured Aoba's attention. “At times, it did feel too big without you here.”

He could only imagine. Noiz used to be alone all the time. Aoba visited him every day when he was in the hospital, so he must have gotten attached to his presence. To go back to living the way he used to, with no one else around, must have been really hard on him.

After a moment of breathless silence, Aoba lifted the hand that he used to smack Noiz's arm and gently stroked his cheek. He tried to appear indignant, but Aoba knew that he appreciated that kind of fond physicality.

He could feel the heat rising to Noiz's face, could see the love and desire kindling in the depths of his eyes, so, before the flames could reach any higher, Aoba removed his hand. Seeing that look brought all kinds of tantalizing memories to mind, but this wasn't the place for that. He knew that Noiz was willing to fuck him just about anywhere, but it would've been nice if they could at least leave the doorway first. Noiz was putting on his bedroom eyes and he hadn't even shown him the bedroom yet.

Aoba removed his shoes at the door and Noiz did the same. It did something to his heart to see their shoes sitting next to each other like that. It was just so domestic.

“This way,” Noiz said shortly, walking down the hallway ahead of them.

As it turned out, that door Aoba had spotted on the right belonged to the kitchen. It looked like something he'd only seen in TV dramas before, with shining silver faucets, wood cabinets, and even one of those island things in the middle. His heart caught in his throat when he saw the small table by the front window with seating for two. It was a little embarrassing and overwhelming to think that that was where he would be having breakfast with Noiz.

From there, Aoba followed him to the living room, which had another short hallway nearby. “There's a fully furnished guest room on this floor,” Noiz said. “I thought it would be best to have something like that... Just in case you didn't feel comfortable sleeping in bed with me yet. I wanted to give you the option.”

That was... actually very reassuring. Aoba didn't feel the need to admit it out loud, but the thought had passed through his head before. It would've been painful if he didn't feel right staying in one room with him yet. The night at the hotel was enough to tell him that he would be quite alright with it, however. Noiz was a very sound and quiet sleeper. They fell asleep on their own sides of the bed, yet Noiz had gravitated toward him magnetically during the night, and Aoba woke up with all of Noiz's limbs wrapped around him.

“Show me the master bedroom and then we'll talk,” Aoba said around a laugh. He thought that his laugh might help take the edge off for Noiz, but he stood there, looking aside with a distant gaze. Aoba waited, but Noiz didn't move. “What happened? Did you just blue screen?”

Noiz sighed. “I just realized. I didn't get to carry you across the threshold.”

God, he worried about the strangest things sometimes. “I think you've carried me around enough to last a lifetime. Seriously. Besides, that's, like, what a husband and wife do. It's not like we're married or anything.”

It sure felt like they were, though, and it all happened in the blink of an eye.

“Can I at least carry you to the bedroom?” he asked.

His unusual forwardness made Aoba pause, but he relented. “Fine, alright. Just let me go up the stairs on my own first, okay? I'm sure you'd be careful, but there's always a chance you'd accidentally hit the wrong step and then we'd both break our necks.”

Point taken, Noiz agreed to let him handle the stairs. Aoba even remembered where they were already. Like Noiz said, the house may have been big, but it wasn't that confusing on the inside once he saw where everything was. There was actually another set of stairs in the living room, and those were the ones they took since they were the closest.

Once they were at the top and a safe distance from the edge, Aoba looked at him and placed his arms at his sides in surrender. Grinning, Noiz scooped him up, holding him with one arm under his bent knees, the other beneath his shoulders. It was more comfortable than Aoba expected and, of course, Noiz's strength always surprised him.

Noiz was bigger than him, but just barely. They both had jobs that had them sitting on their asses for long periods of time, so where did he find the strength to carry him?

“You're nuts,” Aoba sighed.

“What's that supposed to mean?” Noiz asked, unable to sound as irritated as he usually would've when he had his arms full of Aoba.

Aoba smirked. “Nothing. I think it's kinda cute that you like to carry me. I'm just not sure how you do it when you don't have any muscles.”

Noiz laughed. “It's because you're so slender and light. Like a girl.”

“Don't make me hit you.” That wasn't much of a warning when it came to Noiz. Instead of its intended effect, his threat only made him look more aroused.

He didn't have to worry about coming up with any new comebacks, because they soon arrived at the bedroom. The door was already open, and Noiz looked down at him, watching his face as he strode inside. He stood still, a few steps into the room, and gave Aoba a moment to take it in. Anxious to hear his opinion, he continued to watch him like a hawk. Aoba pried his eyes away from Noiz's so he could find a proper response that would satisfy his curiosity.

Even at first glance, he could tell that Noiz had already been living in the room. There were little signs of his presence here and there, like the tie hanging from the closet door knob, the wrinkled carpet next to the bed over the hardwood floor, and the general mess of things on the nightstand that obscured the time on the digital alarm clock.

A part of him was disappointed that he never got a chance to see the place where Noiz had been staying in Midorijima, but he wouldn't have expected it to look like this. This was a lot more... comfortable than what he had been expecting. The bedroom had the same warm yet modern feeling that the rest of the house had, but it had its own personal charm. It felt like a place to live in.

“You look happy,” Noiz said.

He could've said the same. Noiz looked really happy as well. The look in his eyes was soft and relieved.

“I am. This looks cozy.” He cupped Noiz's jaw in his hands and brought his head down to give him another light kiss on the lips. “How do I put it...? I could imagine spending a lot of time here with you.”

That statement seemed to please both the romantic and the insatiable beast in Noiz.

Hoisting him up steadily in his arms, Noiz took a few more strides into the room, laid him down on the bed, and immediately climbed on top of him and began attacking his throat with his mouth. Aoba had no idea where he found the energy. The second his head hit the pillow, he felt his eyelids getting heavier. Before he let Noiz get any further, he placed his hands on his shoulders and pushed him back so he could look at him.

“Look at me,” he said plainly. “I thought you were going to let me rest? Trust me, I'm interested in familiarizing myself with the bed, but can't I get cleaned up first?”

That did nothing to abate the desire burning through Noiz's veins. Clearly, Aoba had just struck another match that only added to the fire. “I haven't shown you the second floor bathroom. I have a feeling you're going to really enjoy it.”

“And I have a feeling you're suggesting something,” Aoba said, keeping his eyes on Noiz, even as he climbed off of him and rolled off the bed. Noiz held out his hands and helped pull him onto his feet. “Hey, I still remember that joke you made back in the guest house we stayed at in Platinum Jail. Are you extending the offer to shower with you again?”

“That wasn't a joke,” Noiz said. “But you looked so flustered when I made the suggestion that I decided to let it go. To be honest, I was still reeling from the fact that there was someone who was patient enough and willing to figure out what made me feel good. I couldn't figure out why the hell you cared.”

Aoba felt his face getting red. “Y-you? I couldn't figure out why I cared. I think that was around the time I started to realize that I misjudged you, though. I guess we both started to... think a little more clearly after that night...”

Noiz looked like he was ready to grab him and kiss him again, but instead, he reached down and closed a hand around one of Aoba's and began leading him out of the bedroom. “It's like I said. I think we communicate best with our bodies. When I touch you, I feel like my eyes are really open.”

God, how could he say such romantic things with a straight face like that? It was like he was trying to flatline Aoba with saccharine one-liners.

All he noticed for the next few seconds was the rapid beating of his own heart, which was why he nearly ran into Noiz when he stopped again. He didn't even have the chance to apologize for spacing out before Noiz opened the door and took his breath away. This bathroom looked even more spectacular than the one in the hotel. This had everything: a shower, a wide white sink with a mirror, a full-body mirror on the opposite wall, and, in the middle of the room, between two tall windows, was a large bathtub. It was certainly big enough to fit two people, and Aoba had no doubt that Noiz had such a detail in mind when he chose it. The tub was definitely meant to be the room's main feature.

It still felt strange to be experiencing the afternoon for a second time in one day. The bright light that filtered in between the delicate white curtains made him feel even more tired, reminding him of the long flight he'd just overcome.

“I take it this also meets with your approval?” Noiz asked. He heard the rustling sounds of fabric on fabric and turned around to find Noiz sliding his tie off, his jacket already resting over his arm. “I guess that's just your impressed face.”

“So this is how you intend to make me relax?”

Noiz calmly worked out the buttons of his shirt. “I won't make you relax. I won't make you do anything,” he said. For some reason, Aoba felt a flash of embarrassment when Noiz started unbuckling his belt, and politely looked away.

About then, he realized that maybe he should start undressing as well. The ball was in motion and once things got rolling, it was always hard to put a halt to Noiz's whims. A bath also happened to sound very nice, although he doubted how relaxing it would be. He knew how easily a situation could escalate once it was in Noiz's hands.

He tried to neatly fold each piece of clothing he took off, but found it difficult when his fingers were shaking. He needed to take some initiative, though, even if it was just something small, so he made a nice stack of his things and placed them on the cabinet counter on the right side of the room. Noiz had tried to keep things in some semblance of order but Aoba could tell that he was just interested in flying out of his clothes. Giving him a little peck to stun him, Aoba grabbed his things from him and arranged them more neatly next to his own clothes.

By the time he turned back around, Noiz was already sitting on the edge of the tub, playing with the hot and cold knobs to adjust the water. It was one of those kinds of moments where, watching him from afar, Aoba noticed that Noiz did look younger than him. Despite what he said about the offer he made in Glitter being serious, this scenario felt a lot different than it would have then. Things felt ten times more personal now between them, more intimate.

Love was such an overwhelming feeling.

He came over and sat on the opposite side of the tub, dangling his feet inside. The water was already high enough to reach his ankles by the time he put his feet down and it made him realize that the tub was big enough to submerge his entire body.

“This thing is so big, it looks like a hot tub,” Aoba remarked, amusing himself by nudging his toes against Noiz's.

“We have one of those, too.”

Aoba gaped. “Goddammit. Are you serious?” He was going to ask whether he wanted to know how much Noiz spent on this ridiculously lavish house, but he bit his tongue. He couldn't tell Noiz how he should spend his money. They weren't married, no matter how much it felt like it so far.

“It's in the back. You didn't get to see the back of the house yet.” He nudged Aoba's toes back and looked up at him from beneath his lashes. “I look forward to introducing you to ever corner of the place.”

He may as well have ended that sentence with 'if you know what I mean,' but it was too obvious.

He silently continued to battle Noiz's toes with his own until the water rose up to their knees. By then, Noiz decided that it was high enough and slid in. The water level rose up as he sunk down and came up even higher when Aoba joined him. Reaching over, Noiz turned off the water, then opened his arms in a way that meant that he wanted Aoba to come closer. The tub was huge; so big that he felt like he was swimming in it. There was enough room for him on his own side of the tub, but if Noiz wanted him to be on his side, then...

Slowly, he scooted over and carefully situated himself between Noiz's parted knees. He took a deep breath to calm himself as every inch of his back came in contact with the damp skin of Noiz's chest. He jumped slightly when he felt his belly ring rub his skin and yelped when Noiz put his arms around him.

“Calm down. I'm not going to try anything yet,” Noiz said, his voice quieter and... gentler.

Aoba sunk down farther until his head was resting against Noiz's shoulder. Noiz placed his cheek against the side of his head and they stayed like that for a while, unmoving, their eyes closed. He could feel Noiz's breath against his cheek, soft and relaxed, and it made him realize that Noiz was probably just as tired as him.

The water felt so warm, he could've fallen asleep right there. In fact, he may have for a few seconds. His eyes were closed, then the next thing he knew, he heard a snap, like the sound of a bottle being opened. He glanced next to himself and found Noiz holding a bottle of shampoo in his hand.

“Can I wash your hair?” he asked directly.

Too tired to mind, Aoba nodded his head. Being taken care of sounded kind of nice.

He took a second to dunk his head under the water to get his hair wet, then came up and placed his head where he had it against Noiz's shoulder before. This wasn't something he would have ever expected from the cold, aloof Noiz he originally met. The fingers that swept through his hair were caring, his touch full of tenderness and reverence.

Noiz was very direct in the things he said, but his feelings truly came across at their clearest when they touched.


Aoba craned his neck to the side, sleepily opening his eyes to look at him. Noiz said it quietly, but Aoba had heard it. “Be quiet, you.”

Noiz placed a defiant kiss to his forehead, but immediately flinched and sputtered at the bitter taste of shampoo.

“Now who's the cute one?” Aoba asked, triumphant.

Rubbing his mouth with the back of his hand, Noiz gave him a look. “Gross...” His kiss on the forehead turned into the opposite of romantic but it was still cute to see him floundering over something like that. He rebounded quickly, pointing out the fact that Aoba's whole head was covered in shampoo bubbles. To wipe the cheeky grin off the kid's face, Aoba leaned forward, plunging his head under the water again to wash off the suds.

He turned around again, determined to mouth off at him, but his mouth was immediately occupied by Noiz's tongue. A gasp slipped past his lips as Noiz caressed his tongue with his own. Forcefully at first, it quickly became much lazier as he rubbed the back of Aoba's neck, helping him relax into the kiss.

When they parted, Aoba was reluctant to open his eyes, so content in the dreamy, warm place Noiz lured him into. While his mind was still floating on cloud nine, Noiz reached over the side of the tub and his hand returned with another bottle; this time, a body wash. The shampoo he used had a light fragrance to it; something more fruity than flowery that Aoba couldn't put his finger on. The soap was much the same to him. Noiz put some of it in one hand, then worked it a bit between his palms before he placed them on Aoba's chest. Lime, maybe...?

That didn't matter much to him anymore when Noiz's hands began rubbing slow circles around his chest. His touch was deliberate, his fingers passing over his sensitive nipples with each touch.

“N-Noiz,” he stuttered, flailing, half-tempted to elbow him in the side. He was in the right position for it if he needed to.

Noiz hushed him; a sharp hiss from between his teeth. “Just relax.”

How was he supposed to relax when he was obviously trying to get him worked up? Aoba squirmed and Noiz squeezed his knees together on either side of him to hold him in place.

“I told you to relax. I can't force you to relax, so you have to just fall into it.”

“Fall into it...?” Aoba wondered aloud, unsure what he meant. “What do you expect me to do?”

He heard a sigh behind him, felt Noiz wearily place his forehead down on his shoulder. When he picked his head back up, Aoba could feel his lips the side of his face, his breath warm on his cheek. “Don't think. Just place yourself in my hands and let me take care of you. You were feeling pretty relaxed when I was washing your hair, weren't you?”

“That's true,” he admitted. That made him feel so nice that he almost fell asleep.

Now he understood what Noiz was trying to do.

They were here now, together. There wasn't a need for desperation right now. They could take it easy and go as slowly as they pleased.

And, besides, he trusted Noiz now, so he knew he'd be safe in his hands, even if he completely let go. How many times had he heard him ask if he was alright? If he liked what he was doing? If he wanted him to stop? Noiz was that kind of guy.

“You okay? Why are you suddenly so quiet?”

Just like that. Aoba couldn't help a laugh. This time, he did elbow him, but gently. “I'm fine. I was just over-thinking things again. You can do as you wish. Just don't be surprised if I fall asleep on you.”

“That's alright. I would carry you back to bed if that happened.”

And do all kinds of things to his defenseless, unconscious body. He forgot to add that part.

But he wasn't going to think about that. He would just have to make sure he didn't become too relaxed. Although, when Noiz's hands returned to his chest, he wondered if that would be possible. When he readjusted his thoughts, his body became more receptive to his touch, responding instantly. Between wide circular motions to lather his chest, Noiz's fingertips occasionally escaped to brush over his nipples. It wasn't enough to arouse him yet, wasn't enough to frustrate him either, but it made him take in a breath in anticipation.

He quietly continued on, and once his hands moved away from his chest, it seemed like he was more interested in cleaning him – quite diligently, even. When Noiz lifted one of Aoba's arms and his soapy fingers glided across his skin, Aoba could feel his eyes on him. It was like he was analyzing and memorizing his body with his eyes and his hands in a way that he hadn't been able to before. When he let go of his arm, Aoba dipped it under the water to rinse it off. As Noiz repeated the action with his other arm, Aoba felt something against his shoulder; the warm, wet press of his lips against his skin. As always with Noiz, he just couldn't help himself. Those light kisses lost a bit of their innocence with each one he layed, growing into a hot combination of teeth and tongue when they reached his throat.

Aoba felt a jolt shoot down his body, aiming for his hips. An old part of him, the part that would've been afraid to let his grandmother see him with marks on his neck, wanted to push Noiz's face away, but he wouldn't let himself do that. Noiz told him to stay still and relax, anyway. Even if it was just once, he thought it might be a little exciting to step out with marks showing. No one knew him in Germany. All of the embarrassment he would've had in Midorijima – he could abandon it.

He opened his eyes. “Oh...”

Noiz nibbled lightly on his jaw, then released Aoba's arm so he could twist around to look at him. “What's up? Feeling good?”

“Y-yeah, I am, but that's not what I was 'oh'-ing over. I just realized something, that's all.” It looked like Noiz was interested in hearing what he realized, so he quickly covered it up. “I never really considered hickeys before, but now they sound kind of appealing to me. You're making me feel like a teenager again.”

Aoba squeaked when Noiz's teeth came back at his neck with more force than before. He felt Noiz huff between bites. “You're not that much older than me, 'mister'.”

Oh, so he was embarrassed.

Even still, he continued what he was doing, and sucked on the bites to make sure they would turn into vivid bruises. Aoba sighed and let things resume. Just thinking about the way he was going to look after Noiz got done with him made his pulse race. He could feel himself getting hard. Noiz was just taking his time with his neck, holding him firmly around his waist, but it was really starting to turn him on. He tried to push his thoughts away the way that Noiz suggested, but it was difficult when all he could think about was how wonderful his tongue felt on his skin.

Noiz must've noticed the effect he was having on him, because he shifted his focus to his ear, knowing how sensitive he was there. He was supposed to be relaxing, but Aoba couldn't hide the whimper that came from his throat as Noiz's tongue caressed the shell of his ear.

“That always gets you hard, doesn't it?” he asked, laughing quietly.

“I-I'm not...”

Aoba's eyes shot open wide when one of Noiz's hands slid below the surface of the water and closed around his cock. He hummed smugly and gave it a light squeeze. “Sure seems like you're getting there to me.”

He gasped and his hips instinctively sought more from Noiz's hand, but when he pressed them up, the sweet pressure of Noiz's fingers disappeared.

“That's my job. I told you to relax and stay still.”

Grumbling, Aoba relaxed his hips and forced the rest of his limbs to go limp against Noiz's body. When he did so, he realized with reddening cheeks that he could feel the piercings on Noiz's cock nudging against the small of his back. It seemed like he was getting a little hard himself, but he made no indication that he wanted to be touched.

It would've made him feel bad if he didn't even ask. Noiz sounded flattered that he was thinking of him, but he repeated his order and clamped his hands firmly around his hips to make sure that Aoba got the idea. This wasn't about him.

It wasn't easy to relax to the level that Noiz probably wanted him to, but he tried, and once he slipped into it... It wasn't that hard to stay there. Noiz's hands moved from his hips to his sides. While he was normally very ticklish there, something about being submerged made it less noticeable. All he could feel were Noiz's fingertips, stroking with varying pressures over his sides, his abdomen, and then lower, around his hips. He occasionally dipped even lower to stroke what he could reach of his thighs, adding an unexpected scrape from his nails where they would reach.

Every touch felt accentuated while his eyes were closed. Noiz brought his hands back to Aoba's chest and it took him some effort to hold himself together. He'd never realized how good it felt to have his chest touched until Noiz introduced him to it. He liked it best when he used his mouth, but his wet fingers felt nice as well. At first, he rubbed the heel of his palm over his chest, working familiar circles into his skin, and for a while, Aoba thought he knew what to expect. He should've figured that Noiz was trying to distract him.

He jumped when he felt Noiz draw his fingers together over both of his nipples, squeezing them tightly at the same time. His eyes opened and an embarrassing moan flew from his mouth. Aoba quickly tried to put a hand to his mouth, his cheeks burning, but Noiz grabbed his arms and forced them back down to his sides.

“I'll permit noises,” he said. “Don't force yourself to hold them back.”

It was impossible not to moan again when he said things like that. Noiz must've liked the sounds he was making because he could feel him getting harder against his back. He tried to move his hips back to rub against him, but Noiz grabbed his hips again and pushed him forward.

Noiz clicked his tongue. “Am I going to have to punish you again? I told you to leave it alone.”

His lips met the tender marks on his neck and finally, finally, he wrapped his fingers around his cock again. He gave it a few rough tugs that made Aoba's toes curl, forced him to bite back a moan that he knew would have been especially loud. Noiz told him to let them out, but it was just so embarrassing. Hearing those noises coming from his own mouth, listening to them echoing back to him in the wide bathroom made him feel like he might explode.

Just when he thought Noiz was finally going to give him what he wanted, that hand moved away.

He was being too impatient. He was relaxing, then losing his cool the second things got heated.

Taking a deep breath, closing his eyes, he tried again.

He had to just... release his control.

A full minute may have passed in which he did nothing but lay there and breath and feel Noiz's skin against his skin, and then, he could hear the smirk in Noiz's single laugh that pierced the silence.

“You get it now.”

Aoba nodded once, submitting himself to whatever Noiz wished to do with him. It wasn't frightening like the blindfold, but it was surprisingly frustrating. Who knew it could be so difficult to do nothing?

Noiz slowly brought his hands down his body, from his chest to his hips in long, slow strokes. Aoba could feel himself getting harder, his cock twitching anxiously between his legs. His breathing became harder and got rougher whenever Noiz's fingers gracefully teased the skin of his inner thighs. He brought one of his hands up and when he smoothed it over his lower belly, his knuckles grazed Aoba's cock and made him shudder.

His touches were so light, yet something about it made everything feel twice as nice as usual. Aoba stretched his legs out as far as they could until they hit the side of the tub, then rubbed his back against Noiz's chest, sighing happily. His desire burned, but Noiz was keeping the flames at bay, fanning them gently, building it slowly.

He must've felt that he'd kindled them for long enough because his hand wrapped around him again, loosely. Noiz waited, like he was making sure that Aoba wouldn't try to thrust into his hand on his own again. There wasn't going to be anymore of that, though. Every nerve in Aoba's body wanted to do it, but now he knew that it would be alright to fall into Noiz's pace.

Noiz had been quiet for quite a while, like he was afraid that speaking might jar Aoba from the pleasant place his mind was resting in. Very softly, in a voice that Aoba almost didn't recognize, Noiz spoke. “You look so cute and sexy right now. It's confusing my dick.”

Aoba laughed and opened his eyes for a second, just so he could look behind himself to see the blush on Noiz's face. “What's that mean?”

“It means what it sounds like it means. The way you look right now makes me wanna do all kinds of things to you.”

His comment sent a whole new surge to Aoba's cock and it only became more intense as Noiz began moving his hand in earnest. For the one who was supposed to be in control, it looked like he was starting to lose it a little.

Aoba asked again, just to be sure. “Are you sure you don't want me to do something for you?”

Noiz squeezed his cock again; not enough to really hurt, but hard enough to make him stop asking. He soothed the pain with another few light strokes that made Aoba whimper. There wouldn't be any further questions until it was over. Then, if Noiz wanted anything, he would be more than willing to repay him. The things he was doing with his hands weren't even that creative now, but they felt incredible after he'd helped build his desire for so long. Every stroke made his cock ache for more.

His hand moved over him in a smooth glide in the water. While it was rapidly loosing its warmth, the bath still felt very comfortable, especially while he was laying in Noiz's embrace. It was a rather intimate position that kept him pressed against Noiz at all times. He realized that he could feel Noiz's heart pounding against his back, at first mistaking it for his own wild heartbeat, and that on its own made him moan, knowing that Noiz was just as turned on as he was.

Noiz's name fell from his lips, floating along a sigh. Higher and higher, he could feel himself drawing nearer to his limit. If he felt inclined, he was sure that Noiz could keep him beneath the peak for as long as he wanted, but his hand wasn't slowing. If anything, his pace seemed to increase after Aoba said his name. He was amusingly predictable sometimes.

He swirled his wrist, swiping his palm over the head of Aoba's cock at the top of each stroke. If he kept doing it like that, he was going to come for sure. Aoba could feel it approaching, but he didn't feel any of the anxiousness that he would normally feel when he was about to come. There was no tension in his limbs, his whole body feeling at ease beneath Noiz's attentive hands.

Aoba whispered his name again and tried to keep his hips down as they ached to chase his fist. Noiz must have noticed the change in his breathing because he tightened his hold and started stroking him with purpose, in a way that was sure to set him off. Aoba wasn't able to hold back any of his sounds any longer, letting them pour from his lips as Noiz brought him closer to completion. The sound of his own voice came back to his ears and made him burn with embarrassment, but the fact that Noiz indulged in those sounds made him burn with something much fiercer.

“Noiz, I'm...” He knew that he shouldn't move, but he brought his hands above the water to grip Noiz's knees.

Keeping his hand wrapped firmly around Aoba's cock, Noiz brought his other arm around his waist to hold him closer. “Go on,” he whispered hotly into his ear. “Don't hold back.”

Noiz rubbed the pad of his thumb over the head of his cock, pressing it down into the tip. The moment he placed his fingers around him, Aoba could feel it approaching. The pleasure that he built and built was finally ready to burst.

With a surprisingly easy breath, he arched his back and came. He could feel Noiz's lips on his cheek, his fingers playing across his chest while his other hand continued to stroke him until he was sure that he'd felt the last of it.

When it was through, Aoba felt any energy he had remaining rapidly escaping his body. He took a few moments to gather himself; breathing, enjoying the light kisses Noiz placed all over his face. Perhaps he wasn't exaggerating when he told Noiz that he may have to carry him to bed.

“You falling asleep?” Noiz asked, poking him in the cheek.

Aoba whined and swatted his hand away. “No.” Well... He couldn't lie. “Maybe.”

“How was it? Do you feel more relaxed now?” he asked.

Aoba didn't have to be a mind reader to know that he meant more with that question. It wasn't just about what he did and how that felt. It probably worried Noiz when he didn't answer immediately, but it was a question that deserved more than a second's thought.

He summoned the last of his energy and turned around, putting his arms around Noiz's shoulders, straddling his waist. “More than before,” he said. It couldn't hurt to talk a more about how he felt when Noiz did it so frequently. “It'll be a while before I'm completely comfortable, but I trust that you'll help me.”

Noiz gave him a look that was hard to parse, but it was something warm and affectionate. The more he saw that face, the more Aoba felt like it suited him, but the effect it had on his heart was always the same.

“I will,” Noiz said, smiling broadly. He didn't say anything else. Aoba could read the rest in his eyes. He was something special to Noiz, something he would hold close and treasure his whole life.

Lips quivering, Aoba sniffed and looked aside before Noiz could have a chance to notice the way his words affected him. He pulled him closer and buried his face in Noiz's neck and that was when he realized that Noiz was still... kind of hard.

“Hey... Noiz...”

Noiz snickered. “You don't have to do anything...” Except, the way he said it totally meant that he wanted him to do something about it.

So much for relaxing. Aoba fixed him with a stern stare, then stood up and pulled him to his feet after him. He wanted to tell him that he could take care of it himself, but he was already feeling more awake all of a sudden, so, if he wanted, maybe Noiz could properly introduce him to the bed.