Sequel to In which Onodera stops being a tsundere, but there's no need to read that first. After all, this is just a fluffy side effect of schoolwork madness.

He's always the first to wake up.

Onodera would open his eyes before the first light of dawn, body trained to rouse for yet another gruesome 9-to-5 (which, in his case, is more often a 6-to-10). Before, he used to spring up the bed, in an effort to avoid the temptation of sleeping in. He's too responsible to give in to the heady warmth pulling him back to bed.

Lately, he's been finding himself unable and unwilling to resist.

Takano has no right to it really. After all, the night has seen Onodera being taken more than a few times (not to mention, in more than a few positions). Yet here the raven-haired man lies, lying with his back slightly shimmering under the lamplight, body rising and falling gently. Blushing, Onodera moves his gaze to his face.

Takano's eyelashes are so long they cast a shadow on his pale face. His eyelids flutter softly, making Onodera nervous that he'll wake and catch him staring right then and there. Before he could get too embarrassed at the realization that he's watching Takano sleep, Onodera moves on to the high arch of his nose, the slight bow at the top of his lips. Takano does breathe deeply, like he's buried in sleep. He breathes in deeply, like he does just before he climaxes.

Onodera catches himself falling in without his bidding. But before their lips touch he hastily moves back, heart racing.

Eyes only. It is safe if it is the eyes only.

And he would go on staring. Tonight, like so many nights before, Onodera notices something. Is it just the soft amber light, or is there a slight, uncharacteristic smile on Takano's face? He'd succumb to slumber, wondering.

Takano would finally awaken as he's cooking bacon and making coffee. As usual, Onodera would berate him for his irresponsibility and scream at his attempts to get them to shower together. He would demand Takano to hurry, to just get it on we're late we're late. As they stand in the threshold, Onodera would expect a kiss and instead, get that smile he sees under the lamplight.

He's always the first to wake up.

It's not the nightmares anymore. Those have stopped maybe eight, nine years ago. For almost every night until Onodera stepped into Marukawa Publishing, regardless of whom and how many were on his bed, Takano's sleep had been of an endless sprint in a void. He's always known it was just a dream, but these days he actually feels like opening his eyes.

And he will be there. The slight body under the sheets will not turn out to be a professor or his boss' girlfriend when he turns the face towards him. He would try to fall back to sleep counting his breaths. Onodera does breathe deeply, like he's buried in sleep. He breathes in deeply, like he does whenever Takano says he loves him.

He says it out loud, because it feels just right. "I love you," he says, because he knows Onodera will not stir. Takano sometimes gets tired of pining and wishful thinking and desperation, but at least in this situation he can't exactly expect a reply, can he?

It's okay now. No need to crash-and-burn onto the next grand hook-up or the next big job. For once, he's okay just waiting to cross the line, and falling back to sleep.

Onodera would finally meet his eyes and be startled, not expecting him to be awake and staring at his ass (what, he's still the average guy). As usual, Takano would plop down a chair yawning, then remarking at the futility of Onodera's cooking as he pokes a blackened end of bacon.

As they stand in the threshold, Takano's stare would drop to Onodera's mouth, remembering how they felt on him the night before. He'd wonder how different a kiss in the heat of sex would be with a kiss at the light of day. He's always wondered. But not today. Not yet.

Eyes only. He thinks it's safe if it is the eyes only.

So instead Takano smiles. Because he'll always be the first to wake up, and he'll always be the one with hope for tomorrow.