"It was supposed to be a face," Eiji said, "but it looks more like a baboon."

"It looks like a face to me," Oishi replied diplomatically, "Look, those are the eyes, and that's a nose…"

"A mouth," Eiji interrupted.

"Yes, er, a mouth, I was getting to the mouth."

Oishi's eyes wandered over the lump of soft clay that was sitting between them.

"And that… that is most definitely… an ear. Or a growth of some sort."

"Or another nose."

"Or another nose." Oishi reiterated solemnly. "Or a toe."

Eiji snorted, caught the eye of his partner, watched as Oishi's composure crumbled and both of them burst into laughter. The sorry lump of clay between them sagged slightly, and Eiji poked at it.

"I can't do it!"

"When is it due by?" Oishi asked.

"Friday." Eiji pulled at his hair. "I just don't understand how I can sculpt something that I don't know the shape of!"

Oishi frowned at his friend's logic, and pushed his own maths homework to one side.

"Have you tried looking at faces? Pictures? You see different faces every day!"

"It's not the same," Eiji said, looking at Oishi with an unreadable expression. "I tried feeling my own face but it's not the same, my hands were the wrong way round."

Oishi nodded sympathetically, and silence hung between them for a few moments. Eiji broke it.

"Hey, Oishi…" he said slowly, looking carefully at the clay face. Then he was silent.

"What?" Oishi asked.

"Nah, no, it's too weird," Eiji replied and moved to clean up the desk.

"No, ask me," Oishi persisted.

Eiji made himself look at him. "Na, I was just thinking… could I maybe… god this sounds really strange… could I maybe just… feel your face? Just to see how it all fits, and see how the muscles work and things. You don't have to."

Oishi laughed. "Of course you can. It's fine. Just as long as it doesn't turn out looking like me, it'd be strange having a bust of my head on display at school."

Eiji's face immediately brightened, and he jumped out of his chair. "Aw, thanks Oishi! It won't take long, or anything… I'll just go and wash my hands so I don't get clay all over your face."

He grinned, a brief flash of white, and disappeared from the room.

Oishi suddenly felt strange, as he wondered where to sit himself. The feeling was the same as whenever he was having his picture taken, or sleeping next to Eiji, neither of which was particularly bad, just occasionally awkward. He'd long since learned to control the urge to reach out and touch his partner's face, just caress it in the middle of the night, deciding that the expression of such closely held and deep seated feelings simply wasn't worth the chance of losing the everyday things they shared, like easy banter about tennis and noses. That didn't mean that occasionally, the tension between them was so physical it made Oishi overwhelmed and giddy with wanting to touch his Eiji, kiss him, hold him, do whatever his body commanded him to… and he wondered if this thick apprehension was something that lived only within his own senses, or if Eiji felt it as well.

He didn't muse on this very long, as the sun shone brilliantly outside, he'd nearly finished his maths, and he was spending a wonderful afternoon at Eiji's house. It didn't dawn on him until Eiji returned and kneeled in front of Oishi on the bed, shut his eyes and placed his cold hands on Oishi's forehead that maybe this wasn't fine after all, and perhaps today was one of those days where the tension sought him out and pinned him to the spot, lest he move and be tempted to do something that just might give the game away.

Eiji's hands moved carefully around his temples, his touch leaving a trail of tingles along Oishi's skin.

"Ah, I get what I've been doing wrong now," Eiji remarked, his eyes still closed, "I've made the top of the head too small."

His hands moved to caress the top of Oishi's ears, small fingers tracing sensitive cartilage. Oishi's brave attempts at convincing himself he could last through Eiji's innocent exploration without impulsively pressing his mouth against his best friend's failed dismally as Eiji's fingers slowly slid down to fondle his earlobes. Instead, Oishi tried to slow his quickened breathing, and desperately sought a mantra to repeat so as to ignore the sweet pressure of Eiji's hands. Somewhere along the way, in amongst Eiji's lighthearted commentary over the shape of his ears, and the hard thumping of his heart, Oishi managed to communicate with his common sense and calmed himself down to prevent himself from doing anything rash.

At least until he felt Eiji's fingers brush his cheeks.

He never would have imagined that this friend patting his face would feel like this. Well, it had started off as patting but now it was stroking, long and slow, starting off at the top of his temples and moving all the way down to his jawline. Trying not to focus on the sensation made him focus on other things, like the way Eiji's face had moved closer to his, consciously or unconsciously he didn't know. Trying not to focus on his own heavy breathing made him focus on Eiji's breathing, which was rather shallow and quick, and provoking the tingles on his face every time Eiji exhaled.

He would have thought that closing his eyes would have done him a favour, if only preventing him from watching transfixed as Eiji, a light flush rising up his neck, parted his lips slightly in concentration. Eliminating one of his senses, however, only seemed to intensify the feeling from the others, and his breath hitched in his throat as he felt Eiji's thumbs glide over his eyelids. It was almost sensation overload as those thumbs traced the sides of his nose to come to a stop over his mouth, and he was glad Eiji wasn't talking anymore, because if he was, then Oishi would have had to cut off that delightful dialogue with his own mouth, which would have been disastrous… but then again this whole thing was disastrous, because this intimate contact with Eiji was doing things to him that he really had no right to experience, but he was anyway, tingling, and breathing hard through his nose, and he might just have to pull away now, and make up some lame excuse even though Eiji wouldn't be able to finish his sculpture… Eiji… Eiji who was caressing his face, and if Eiji didn't stop running his fingers over his lips, then he might just go over the edge and do something that would scare his Eiji off forever…

But then Eiji did stop, and Oishi felt those light fingers removed from the side of his mouth, and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

At least until those fingers were replaced with something altogether more soft, and moist, and… oooooh.

Oishi suddenly stopped thinking.

It wasn't quite a kiss, it was more a soft brushing of lips across the corner of his mouth. Those delicate lips parted slightly, moving up to brush the side of his nose, cheek, his jaw… Eiji was following with his mouth the path his fingers had travelled only moments before.

Oishi desperately tried to kick his brain back into gear. The last vestiges of his defences were crumbling, crumbling into dust as Eiji's explorations became slowly more intense, but he couldn't toss caution to the wind and throw his Eiji down on the bed because all Eiji was doing was innocently feeling his face, right, and if he wanted to do it with his lips instead of his fingers, then that… that was fine, and Oishi shouldn't interpret it as anything else, but then, dear god, why oh why were Eiji's fingers slowly creeping into his mouth?

Completely inappropriate sounds were working their way up his throat, and suppressing them was only making things worse, but Eiji surely would have stopped had he known what he was doing to his best friend, especially after that last sound.

But no, Eiji was mouthing around his temples, leaving warm, wet prints around and up his neck and ears, breathing erratically, and after he pulled away briefly to look in his partner's eyes, it came as no surprise to either of them that the very next moment they were desperately scrabbling at each other's clothes with the eagerness of frantic puppies and kissing, kissing… kissing impassioned on the bed with such fervour one would have thought the end of the world was imminent if they stopped.