Disclaimer: It's Toei's sandbox. I just play here because it's fun!

Author's Note: This is the requested second chapter. Dedicated to MzDany who wanted to see this continued with a Satoru/Eiji twist. So, yes, this is slash. If you have issues with that, go no further. Also, I couldn't resist throwing in more of the drunken trio. The dynamics between Tetsu, Hikaru and Eiji are just so weird… and so cool. Ah well, enjoy this chapter. Or not—entirely up to you!

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DAYBREAK

By Etcetera Kit

Akashi Satoru sighed to himself as he climbed the stairs to the dormitory. Masumi and Natsuki were currently in the salon, digging into a breakfast of bacon and eggs. After he started cooking, Masumi had nonchalantly suggested that Akashi "look in on" the resident inebriates to make sure "no one had died of alcohol poisoning or drowned in their own vomit." Almost made him wonder what Masumi used to do on the weekends before joining SGS.

So, here he was. He doubted that any of the trio was in danger. They were certainly far gone, but no one had passed out at the bar and they were all able to walk—in a manner of speaking—and carry on a conversation—however incoherently. Still… as Chief, not just of the Boukengers, but of the entire team assembled through Eiji's efforts, he had a responsibility to make sure that the people under his care were well. Or as well as they could be for having downed that much alcohol.

Hikaru was in the same position from when Akashi had let him fall into bed. Sleeping soundly, arms wrapped around his pillow. If not for the stench of alcohol, someone might actually think Hikaru was asleep for the night and hadn't come in from a bender.

Tetsu had managed to fall on the floor. He had curled into a ball and was shivering. They kept the environmental controls in the dormitory on low—always cool in the building. From the fact that he was shirtless and Masumi had, apparently, taken off his socks as well, it was no wonder that Tetsu was cold. Akashi didn't even attempt to get him back in bed. He wedged the pillow under Tetsu's head and covered him with the quilt from the bed.

He paused just outside Eiji's room—towards the end of the hall that also held his own quarters, Masumi and Souta's. There were reasons he had Natsuki put Eiji to bed, and not just because he hadn't been listing as badly as Hikaru and Tetsu. He glanced down the hall. There was no reason for Souta to be up, or Asuka-san and Tsubasa-san for that matter. The latter two had guest quarters near Hikaru and Tetsu.

Shaking his head, he pushed open the door to Eiji's room. Every time he came in here, he was struck at how little Eiji had in the way of possessions. The room was bare to the point of being depressing. That had never seemed to bother Eiji though.

Unlike Hikaru and Tetsu, Eiji was not already asleep. He was laying in bed, singing to himself. Satoru fought the urge to roll his eyes. He didn't recognize the song or the language, but he had a feeling it was something the Ashu Watchers passed down in their family.

"You need to sleep," he said, crossing the small room to Eiji's bed.

"Akashi!" Eiji stopped singing and looked at him, making no attempt to sit up. Instead, Eiji grabbed his wrist, forcing him to sit on the edge of the bed.

"What?" he asked.

Eiji stared at him in wonder for a moment, before saying, "You have really pretty eyes."

Satoru rolled his eyes. "You're drunk."

"No'm not." Eiji paused, looking thoughtful. "Can I kiss you?"

His heart beat a little faster at the simple question, but he kept his expression neutral, as if dealing with a particularly difficult child. "Eiji, you are drunk and you need to sleep this off. And you won't remember any of this in the morning."

Then Satoru had his evidence that Eiji was drunk, because the other man began to sulk. Eiji losing his temper and having fits were not unusual occurrences. If anything, the former Ashu Watcher had daily instances of losing it with someone or something. However stubborn and however bad a self-image, Satoru had never known Eiji to sulk. Not in the traditional sense.

Eiji just used Satoru's arm for leverage as he sat up. One hand was on Akashi's shoulder as Eiji leaned heavily on him.

Without warning, Eiji leaned forward and, catching him open-mouthed, pressed his lips to Satoru's. He was so surprised that he didn't close his eyes, and didn't attempt to push the other man away. Eiji smelled like sweat and alcohol, and he could taste the stale liquor on that kiss, but also something else, something he'd imagine kisses without the drunken factor would taste like.

Adventure.

His mind told him to push Eiji away, but he couldn't get his body to comply. He liked Eiji in a very non-platonic way, but was afraid. Afraid of what Sakura might think… afraid of what the others would think… afraid of… everything, damn it! And now, he couldn't be sure if Eiji was just drunk or that lack of inhibition was bringing out something he'd kept secret.

In the end, he didn't have to break the kiss.

Eiji pulled away roughly and vomited in his lap.

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Hikaru lowered himself onto the stone bench outside the SGS Museum, a cup of strong tea in hand. The morning sunlight poured over the courtyard. He let out a sigh, almost like a sensual breath. Your element will restore your balance. Blagel had told him that a long time ago. In his youth, he'd always found that sitting in the sunlight helped with his hangovers. Most people didn't want excessive light when their heads pounded, but most people weren't Heavenly Saints… or magicians.

His body ached and his head pounded, but he had forced himself to get out of bed just after daybreak, shower and make tea. Now the sunlight would help with the rest. He'd run into Masumi and Natsuki in the salon, the lingering scent of bacon and eggs making him want to hurl. Natsuki had been ready to get him aspirin, but he'd declined. She'd looked puzzled. No need to tell her that Saints didn't respond well to medicinal practices on the surface.

"Hikaru-chan."

He looked up. Tetsu had stumbled into the courtyard and collapsed on the bench beside him. He could tell that Tetsu had showered, but the detective still looked awful. "How can you stand the sunlight?" he groaned, shielding his eyes with his hand.

"My element is the sunlight."

"Oh yeah." Hikaru handed Tetsu the cup of tea. He accepted it and took a sip, wincing. Hikaru took the cup back. "Black tea with no sweetener," Tetsu commented. "I don't know how you do that number either."

"I don't know how you drink black coffee."

They fell silent for a moment. Hikaru sipped at the tea. He and Tetsu had been odd friends for the past year. Brothers, he supposed, would be the correct way to describe their relationship. His own family had died when he was young—just younger than Tetsu had been when his family had been killed in the car accident. Neither of them had siblings, so they became siblings for each other.

Caught in the dimensional rift, the last person he'd expected to be helping Eiji when he got out was Tetsu. He smiled inwardly. Dressing up in drag with Tetsu had endeared them to one another. He supposed fighting with Eiji had the same effect. The three of them had fought Meemy and, last night, Eiji was suggested they go out. Three wildly different ideas of "going out" had led to… Akashi scraping them off a curb in Tokyo and pouring them into a cab.

"Nii-chan!"

Enter the third member of their motley crew. Hikaru looked up, while Tetsu waved weakly. Eiji was in the same condition as Tetsu. It was funny to think about. He was 'Hikaru-chan' around Tetsu and had been dubbed 'Nii-chan' by Eiji last night.

"I think I kissed Akashi last night."

Tetsu nearly fell off the bench. Hikaru grabbed the back of his jacket just in time.

"You weren't with Akashi in the cab. Natsuki put you to bed. I don't see when you could have kissed Akashi," Hikaru said reasonably.

"I think he came in last night to check on me."

"If that's the case," Tetsu began. "He might have checked on all of us. I ended up sleeping on the floor, but had the pillow and quilt. I don't do that on my own."

"Would you ordinarily have wanted to kiss Akashi?" Hikaru asked.

Eiji was silent for a moment, then sat down on the bench, on Hikaru's other side. He flung his arm around Hikaru's shoulders, almost causing him to cough on the sip of tea he'd just taken. "This is why I like you, Nii-chan," Eiji said. "Nothing shocks you."

"Should I be shocked?" Hikaru glanced at Tetsu.

"Don't look at me," Tetsu responded. "Most people assume I'm a cross-dresser anyways." He shook his head. "Look, Ei-chan, if you think you actually kissed him, and it wasn't a weird dream, and he didn't act disgusted or push you away, it's probably a good bet he likes you too."

Eiji looked thoughtful for a moment, then he stood up and headed back into the museum.

"Is he going to talk to Akashi?" Tetsu asked after a long pause.

"I hope so." Hikaru drank a mouthful of tea. "Because I don't want to hear him agonize about it for months like I had to with you."

"Shut-up!" Tetsu shoved his side playfully. "I told Ban eventually. Besides, you were almost hysterical before you finally proposed to Urara."

"Don't talk nonsense," Hikaru replied airily, going back to his tea.

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"Um, Akashi? Can I have a second?"

Takaoka Eiji was fairly certain he looked just as awkward as he sounded. Akashi looked up. He had been sitting at the main table in the salon, reading an operating report. The room was empty, save for him. Distantly, Eiji wondered where the others had gotten to.

"What's up?" Akashi asked.

Did he look… flush?

"Um…" Eiji rubbed the back of his neck. Why hadn't it been hard to go outside and announce to Nii-chan and Tetsu that he had kissed Akashi, but so hard here? He also had the feeling that he wasn't remembering something important about the encounter. "I'm sorry?" he offered weakly.

"For what?"

Damn it. Akashi wasn't going to make this easy, was he? "For… um… you know." Eiji gestured vaguely.

"For throwing up on me?"

"What?"

Eiji froze for a moment, horrified at the possibilities. Had he thrown up on Akashi? Snippets of last night came back to him. Sitting in bed, kissing Akashi… not wanting to pull away, but he felt ill… and… "Oh no," he moaned.

Akashi laughed and stood up, closing the distance between them. He laid a hand on Eiji's shoulder, smiling. "I know you weren't apologizing for that," he said softly. "But if that's your idea of romance, it needs a little work."

He felt embarrassed, but covered it up by quipping, "You're one to talk—taking advantage of a drunk person."

"So you actually admit you were drunk?"

"No!"

Akashi laughed again, then leaned in closer, so his lips were close to Eiji's ear. "I think we should do that again sometime, without the vomiting bit." His breath was warm and—

He left the salon. Eiji stared after him, then a grin split his face. He punched the air.

He paused, then muttered, "I'm never drinking again."

The End
2—3 April 2007