by Grey

Pairing: Asuma x Noa, Goto x Shinobu

Note: This fic was written for a fanfic challenge, and was originally
posted at the Blissful Ignorance fanfic forums: The challenge was for
600-800 word fics involving kissing and New Year's Eve, thus the word
count below.

I'd like to say thanks to Blackrose for holding the challenge. Thanks also
to my beta reader, Jaina.

797 words, without title and note:
"~/text/fics$ wc pato_newyears.txt
101 797 4438 pato_newyears.txt"

It was 0200 hours on New Year's Eve, 2001, and a party had just ended in
the Duty Room of SV2.

It hadn't been much of a party, Noa mused. They were on standby, where
alcohol was forbidden, but Captain Goto had come by to give his
blessing. After that, she'd brought out some of her parents' homemade
sake, and they'd started drinking in earnest. Afterwards, Takeo had
retired early, responsible as always, but everyone else had fallen
asleep where they sat.

Her eyes were drawn to Asuma, leaned up against the wall with a 50 yen
party hat askew on his head. He was usually serious when they were out
in the field, but her partner definitely had a silly streak. It was
something that endeared him to her, along with his determination, and of
course the dependable backup he gave to her and Alphonse.

On top of that, he was a great friend, the best friend she'd
ever had. She'd trusted him with her secrets, and he'd done the same for
her. They'd come to rely on each other, so much that they were seldom

She sighed, lost in thought. She cared for him, and yet she wasn't sure
how she felt. Scratch that. She knew how she felt - she *felt* it,
and much too strongly for denials - but she wasn't sure what to call it.

Sometimes she felt as though they could be closer, as though she only
had to reach out to him, to find something she'd been missing. Other
times, she was iron-clad sure that she wanted to be his best friend
forever, just like always.

Was it possible to be both?

She sat for a while, watching him sleep, wondering. She wasn't sure
about the future, but there some things she could do now, weren't there?

She leaned forward and kissed him gently, just on the corner of his
mouth. It felt like the right place - on the lips and on the cheek,
ambiguous, two-in-one like Asuma said forward and backup ought to
be... but maybe it was the start of something more.

"G'night, Asuma," she muttered, and headed for bed. Another busy day
would start soon, long before Tokyo saw the first light of the new year.


A few hours later, upstairs, Goto watched Shinobu as she bustled about
the office. She was finished with everything, and was pacing slowly.

This served his purposes quite well.

"You want to leave a little early?" he asked.

"Your squad's not on duty for another fifteen minutes," she said.

"Don't worry about it, we should be able to cover it. Besides,
by the time you send your kids home, it'll be time to leave, anyway."

She looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded. "It's not a bad idea,"
she said. "I'll owe you sometime."

He smirked; he'd be cashing in on that deal sooner than she thought!
The first New Year's they'd worked together, he'd dropped "lucky New
Year's Kiss" hints all night, only to be ignored. The second, he'd asked
her out for dinner, and she'd shot him down, as usual.

Tonight, he had a plan that might change all that, and it was finally
time to put it into action.

As she walked by his desk, he suddenly stood, spun her on her heels, swept her
back against his arm, and gave her a big wet smackeroo right on the lips. She
made no move to kiss back, but she didn't pull away, either... Goto
rather optimistically decided that this was a good sign.

When he let her go, however, it was clearly a symptom of shock. She
stared at him, blinking slowly, her mouth ever so slightly open in a
tantalizing O. *She wants another one!* he thought gleefully, and
leaned in, lips apucker.

Her paralysis suddenly broke, and she reeled back and slapped him,
sending him straight through the cardboard screen they'd set up as a
changing area. When he'd recovered enough to look up, she was glaring
down at him, one hand on her hip.

"You really ought to *ask* before you do that, Goto-san," she said.

"But you always say no," he said mock-plaintively, sensing on
opportunity to gain back some ground.

She sighed, but her frown flattened into something that might have just
barely been a smile. "Happy New Year, Goto-san. Let's make it another good
one." With that, she headed for the door.

Goto groaned, his chances fading to nil. He floundered weakly amongst
spare uniform jackets and chunks of broken screen, his mind filled with
visions of walking her out to her car, just the two of them
under the moonlight...

"Shinobu-san, wait!"

His only answer was the soft click of the office door as it closed
behind her.