There are three people in this series that make me smile: Kikumaru and Jirou, from the actual series, and Ryoga from the PoT movie (who I have trouble believing actually exists, plot-wise.) And AtoJi is one of my favorite pairings. Do the math and it will always equal: Atobe + Jirou!

Atobe's point-of-view, of course.

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Kissing Jirou

I can honestly confess that I never understood why you would kiss someone when the clock struck twelve on New Year's Eve. It seemed to be a pointless tradition to me, and to be honest, a stupid one. This same tradition isn't really followed in Japan except by the gaijin living here and, of course, by my family.

This is because on the American New Year, we go to the United States. It has been so ever since I can remember and I have always had to request special time off from school so that I could leave for the three weeks vacation that this one day seems to require. I was always given this time because of the generous donations that my family makes on my behalf. My father is very Westernized, both because of my mother, who is French and spent much of her childhood in the United States, and because of his business. To my knowledge, I have been around the world several times since before I was even born, all for Atobe Corporation.

If you can say one thing in my parents' favor, it is that they truly and honestly love each other. My father would have been better accepted among his Japanese associates if he had married a nice Japanese girl and had pure Japanese children. He did not, though; he married my mother, a dark-haired, blue-eyed woman who he met among the Parisian elite. If I have one desire it would be, perhaps, only that he loved her a bit less. Not a large reduction, but a small one.

My parents have eyes for no one but each other. They are, as I before stated, hopelessly in love. They were so much in love, in fact, that had me moved out of the house by the time that I was eight. Not completely out of the house, of course. I was given my own outdoor entrance, which was the only way that you could get into my wing of the house. It was more or less my own place, and I appreciate it very much now that I am older. I still sometimes wish that they loved each other less, but this wish has lessened the older that I grow and fades to the back of my mind so easily I could almost forget it.

This has very little to do with my original subject, but really, how can you object to the words of one such as I? I suppose that I should now get to my point, however.

I never understood the reason behind why you would kiss someone on New Year's Eve, just as I never understood why people thought that the world would end when it became the year 2000. For one thing, countries have different New Year's, so are they supposed to self-destruct one at a time? But I will confess that there are some things that I don't know. Very few things, but some things, nevetheless.

I turned eighteen a few months before the New Year that I understood why one would do something like that. It was all Jirou's fault, of course. It certainly wasn't mine.

It was the first time that my parents had invited the Akutagawa family with us to our house in the States. This meant that Jirou and I took a few days off from school together. Jirou, of course, was quite relieved. Perhaps I am understating this; after all, he was jumping around like he had just been told he could have a match with Fuji. Worse, though. It was as if I had told him he could have a match with me. I graciously put up with this and hid my own happiness well. I was often lonely on these visits and was very glad that Jirou was coming with us.

There are a few things that bind Jirou and I together, of all of the Hyotei regulars that I could be close to. This is one of the reasons that I put up with his constant napping during practice, as well as the fact that his natural talent and determination make him practice on his own time. Where I am at least half-Japanese, Jirou is not Japanese at all. He was adopted by the Akutagawa family under circumstances that I am afraid that I was not privileged enough to hear. I know that not many people are as intelligent and wise as I am, but how else would you expect someone to have hair that is naturally strawberry blonde? I have always received acceptance because I am an Atobe, but Jirou isn't an Akutagawa, not by blood, and Japanese schools are harsh.

That is actually how we met.

We were in our first year of elementary school, without question Hyotei Elementary, and the older children wanted to hurt him. I will not say what I did and by now I can't even say why I did it, but they complained to the school board for what it was that I did to them. My father had them kicked out, and Jirou? Jirou was mine, forever.

Do not start harping on the fact that you cannot possess people because then I am afraid that I will have to tell you a few of the stories that I have heard about the yakuza and I fear that they will disgust you. I do not mean that he was literally mine. I would not want to possess another person in such a vile manner anyway. He was grateful to me, though. He talked to me despite his predisposition for sleeping through most of the day. It was then that I realized that although my family could buy me respect and attention, they could not buy me this... admiration, love, happiness, friendship... that Jirou gave me.

You do not have my permission to ever, ever tell him this.

I suppose that I saved Kabaji in the same way. His family had gotten him into the best school, but they could not go against nature and Kabaji was, and still is, an idiot savant. He is a genius at tennis but at nothing else. With this, I stop here-- that is a story for another day. I will now continue.

Jirou followed me through elementary and junior high like a puppy. The one thing that he did not do because of me was join the tennis club. He did that for his own love of it; like a puppy, he enjoys chasing tennis balls.

It was... the first time that we ever would have been pitted against each other. I refused to allow it and so did he. I doubt that anyone else knew. That is how we got to the point that we are presently at.

On New Year's day, he was yawning next to me. The Atobe family had an apartment in Los Angeles and we were hiding from the guests in one of the rooms. Having made the rounds already, several times in fact, we were both tired of the fake comments and loud voices of drunken Americans.

Jirou's head was in my lap. He was trying to sleep despite the noise, reddish-blonde strands of hair curling around his ears as he pressed against me, his pale eyelashes resting against his cheek. I had noticed-- thousands of times before, really-- that his lashes weren't red, but a dark honey blonde just tinted with orange. I have known him for long enough that I could probably tell you where every single scar on his body is.

He sleeps in that way often, his head in my lap and his body curled up next to mine. Never in front of other people-- I would not allow it-- but he always does it in private. I inevitably end up petting him. His hair is soft, cool, silky, and I have always loved how it curls.

Jirou yawned when he sat up, moving only so far as to rest his head on my shoulder. My arm had slipped from his hair around his waist and for anyone else this probably would have been too close. This was me, though, and I have different standards than other people. Jirou was just fine where he was.

"They're so loud," he mumbled, pouting. He is, by the way, absolutely adorable when he pouts. I would like to say that he is not quite as adorable as I, but if we are to be completely honest (and I always try to be, to the best of my indeed awesome ability) he is far cuter than me. That is fine, though; I am prettier than he is, so we're even.

"Ne, Atobe?" Jirou asked through a yawn, rubbing his cheek against the soft cotton of my shirt.

"Hmm?"

"They're going to get even louder in a couple of minutes, aren't they?"

I have never understood Jirou's peculiar ability to know the time even after he had been sleeping, but he was right in this case. It was not going to be long until twelve and the chanting was going to start at any moment.

His eyelids were drooping despite the fact that, as I had suspected, they were beginning their chant as if it was a mantra that caused the new year to begin.

"10..! 9...! 8...!"

What happened next was Jirou's fault. It really was.

"7...! 6..! 5...!"

"They're going to break out the champagne--" here he yawned, "--and they're going to start singing or something, aren't they?"

"With all likelihood, yes."

"4... 3... 2..."

He smiled up at me, eyes sparkling mischievously. "Wouldn't it be funny if we stole all their coats while they're out of it, buchou? I mean, it's their own fault for drinking so much, really, and that would be sooo cool!"

God, he's beautiful when he smiles like that. But we will disregard that comment because it was his fault, really.

"...1!"

When he smiled like that, what else could I do but kiss him?

Even I am not invincible.

His lips were so soft, and gentle under mine. I could tell that he was surprised. When his hand reached up to touch my face, he was trembling. I had never seen Jirou scared like that. I hope to never see it again.

He melted beneath me. We breathed together, lips brushing as softly as if it was our first time ever kissing someone even though we both knew quite well that it wasn't. When we parted, I wanted to die because it felt like such a tragic loss to no longer feel his lips against mine.

"Atobe...?"

I liked that he was breathless. I still like it.

"Happy New Year, Jirou-kun."

He smiled.

What do you think that I did then? I believe that I previously stated that I am not invincible, especially not to that smile.

It was never quite within the realms of my comprehension why you would kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve. Neither did I understand why one would believe that the world would end just because of the date. I believe that I understand now, the first if not the second.

If the next year truly brings the end of the world, I think that the last thing that I would want to do while it was still the previous year, the thing that might be the last that I would ever do, would be kissing Jirou.

And I do not believe that I need to explain why.

-owari-

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The cuteness overwhelms me. I am... drowning in a sea of cuteness. Help! I need a life preserver. A review, if I may. Please, a review. Hehe.