Aishuu Offers:
Disclaimer: Konomi-sensei's, not mine.
Notes: The End. The sequel, Thirty, will be posted soon. It will be rated R for a lot of sexual content and heavy language usage. I hope everyone's enjoyed this, and I appreciate the comments.

Part 9: And that has made all the difference

The sound of the shower woke Oishi, bringing a sense of deja vu to the young doctor. The sheets clung to his naked body uncomfortably as he blinked slowly, realizing that he was alone in bed, after having slept with the man who had once been his best friend. His mind sprang into action abnormally quickly for someone who tended to lounge abed as he realized where he was.

The morning after.

Kikumaru and he had made love twice more through the night, once immediately following their initial encounter, and once when Kikumaru had awoken him around dawn by giving him the blow job of his life. He was sore and tired still, but the clock said it was nearly nine, and the farewell brunch started at ten. Checkout was by noon.

There would hardly be any time to discuss what had happened, what they had done... God, why the hell had he let himself be seduced? He didn't know Kikumaru anymore, didn't...

His thoughts began to swirl in a panic as recriminations raced through his head. He wasn't the type for one night stands - he'd never had one before. He didn't believe in casual sex - the two people he'd slept with had been long-term affairs, only broken apart when they realized that they were truly incompatible.

But this... was entirely out of character. He realized that Kikumaru was attractive, but falling into bed with him was wrong. It was taking advantage of someone who....

Oh, hell. Who was he kidding?

Kikumaru Eiji had been a willing and fully able participant. There had been no trace of desperation, or trying to hide. Kikumaru had apparently resolved his issues himself, and decided that he was going to take advantage of the rooming situation.

It was a bit of a sick thought, to think you were a convenient body - especially by someone you had once lived for.

Kikumaru had been his first love, though at that time Oishi had been too shy to make an approach. Being gay was difficult, and he had been terrified that Kikumaru would run away - or worse. So he'd never done anything.

Apparently, Kikumaru might have been receptive, had he...

No. No regrets.

I'm making sure there's no more regrets.

Hadn't Kikumaru said that to him, last night? It was hard to remember conversation when the memory of skin and pleasure was so much more vivid, but he recalled those words being spoken softly right before Kikumaru had pushed him beyond the point of no return. He would have thought more on it, had the sound of the water not stopped from the bathroom, and less than a minute later Kikumaru emerged, the hotel bathrobe wrapped around his slender frame.

They stared at each other for a long minute, and Oishi opened his mouth to make ask something - anything - but Kikumaru gave him a cheerful smile. "The shower's yours," he said. "We have about half an hour... Inui wants us to meet at nine thirty so we can go to breakfast together."

It was so normal, so unassuming about what had happened that Oishi felt like he'd been punched and the air had been knocked out of him. There was nothing in the readhead's demeanor to indicate anything special had passed between them.

"Eiji..." Oishi started, wondering how to bring the subject up, if Kikumaru wasn't going to.

Kikumaru turned quickly, pulled a robe off a nearby chair, and threw it to Oishi. "Hurry up, Oishi!" he commanded. "We need to get our stuff together!"

For a second Oishi wondered if he'd imagined the night before, before looking at the stained bedcovers.

He found himself obeying, knowing that arguing with Kikumaru was a futile pursuit. The hot shower felt good on his tired body, and wiping off the remnants of their sex calmed him considerably. They would talk before he left, no matter how much Fuji tried to stop him or Kikumaru played stupid. It took fifteen minutes, but when he emerged, the room had been tidied. Kikumaru had gathered all of their belongings and neatly packed them to be returned home. Kikumaru had also gotten dressed, in a pair of jeans and a brilliant purple and red shirt. The bed stood in mute accusation, and Oishi stared at his lover.

"Eiji, we need to talk," Oishi said firmly. He had learned how to be commanding as vice captain, and he used it with intractable patients. There would be no escape from this confrontation.

Kikumaru gave him a wary look. "Nya?"

"Eiji... what happened last night?"

The Kikumaru Oishi had known throughout his life might have made a joke about the seriousness of the state of affairs, but this one merely nodded. Oishi had seen glimpses of the adult Kikumaru in school, but had never really expected him to materialize.

"Oishi, you were in love with me in high school," Kikumaru said.

Oishi took a seat heavily in a chair, never expecting anything like this. He never thought Kikumaru had recognized his emotions. "Eiji, we're not in high school anymore," he said softly. "I don't even know you anymore... it's been ten years."

"I realize that." Kikumaru's voice was just as calm and just as level as Oishi's own. He leaned against the wall, running a hand through his hair. "But I was your first love."

Oishi couldn't deny that. "It was a long time ago."

"It was simple back then. We were about tennis and school, and occasionally I'd date a pretty girl who'd I put through hell. I knew you loved me, and that was okay, too, because I knew you were never going to do anything about it. It was just something I assumed would always be there.

"Then life got complicated. We graduated, and less than a year out, we lost touch. I made new friends, and then....

"It was on my twenty-second birthday. Fuji was busy, so I accepted an invitation from a different friend - and somehow we ended up sleeping together."

Oishi blinked at Kikumaru. "I assume it was a guy, if it made such a big impact?"

"I never thought I could be gay. But... it was different. Something clicked, and I suddenly realized that one of the reasons I went through girlfriends so quickly was that I wasn't really attracted to any of them. So I started to date guys..."

Oishi nodded slowly, even though he hated the idea of Kikumaru dating others.

"It was fun, usually, but it wasn't right, either. Some of them wanted me to be femme, and I'm not. I'm me, and I can't change who I am. And... I started to wish that I hadn't neglected you back in high school, because at least you loved me." There was a slight smile on Kikumaru's face as his tone took on a dreamy tint. "There's a difference when someone loves you, so I'm told."


"I know you don't love me anymore. It would be ridiculous to love someone you haven't seen in ten years," Kikumaru replied, and the purple eyes that met Oishi's weren't upset, but a bit wistful. "We could have been wonderful, if I hadn't been so stupid."

Oishi had listened to Kikumaru's speech, and felt his heart twist painfully. Their lives had gone on their own paths, and there was a trace of regret. He enjoyed his life, but what would it have been like if he'd had Kikumaru Eiji at his side? Someone who knew how to laugh, and kept him from being too serious?

It certainly would have been different.

"We can't change the past, Eiji," Oishi said. He stared down at his hands, wondering if continuing would be wise, but then deciding that he owed Kikumaru the truth. "Maybe a part of me will always love the boy you were - you were my first love."

"But you've grown up," Kikumaru said softly.

"I've changed. I'm not the Oishi Syuuchiroh you knew."

The silence hung long and large between them.

"I shouldn't have seduced you," Kikumaru said. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be."

He looked around the room, wondering if he had the courage to ask the next question - but shyness had gotten him nowhere in the past. Last night had been one of the best of Oishi's life.

"Would you like to go out on a date?"

The redhead appeared taken aback. "A date?"

"It's an activity where couples find out if they're compatible. Kikumaru Eiji, would you like to go out on a date with me?" Oishi asked, feeling as nervous as a schoolboy. They had moved too fast, gone in all the wrong directions, but maybe they would be able to get it right this time.

The question was ten years late, but the smile on Kikumaru's face was brilliant. "I'd love to."

Glancing over at the clock, Oishi noticed the time with an inward groan. They were late for the final meeting - but he had the feeling Inui, Kawamura, Fuji and Tezuka would wait for them.