Jokers Wild; Ace in the Hole
By Nori
Yagyuu/Niou, Yanagi/Kirihara
Rating: PG-13/R for the most part, NC-17 overall.
Disclaimer: I am merely playing in Konomi-sensei's sandbox.

Notes: Written for shikishi on santa smex at livejournal. Has been heavily modified from the original version posted (story didn't change, but things have been added and deleted. Now with 60 percent less parentheticals!). And here is my ginormous thanks to Liz, Leah and Donna for putting up with my whining over how long this thing was getting and its former unfortunate lack of boysex. XD;

MORE NOTES: FFnet is ass when it comes to special characters, so all of my section breakups no longer exist. If you notice any wildly changing settings, timewarps and characters, just pretend there is an asterisk between that and what you just read. Far too tired to fix right now and FFnet is loading terribly slow right now. (Fixed!)


The days were getting colder, the last rays of sunlight coming sooner each night and the sun rising later every morning. Winter was coming; a time for cold, dreary nights and hot chocolate; for school children to huddle beneath thick coats and warm scarves, and hopefully one day, for the snow to begin falling.

It was Niou's favourite season, winter; and not only because he had been born during it. He loved the feel of icy wind stinging his face and the crackling of freshly fallen snow on a quiet night in Sapporo; he loved the chance to hide out at home during storms, playing video games with his brother or challenging his sister to a game of blind man's darts. And of course the best part of winter - at least during the past few years - were the afternoons spent holed up in Rikkai's locker rooms; chatting, bickering and playing whatever games they could come up with until downpours passed and they could leave, or parents arrived to shuttle the boys safely home.

Yagyuu was not particularly fond of winter - the tips of his nose and fingers were always numb, cars and foot traffic turned what little beautiful snow the city ever got to filthy, slippery slush and come December everywhere he looked were gaudy displays of brightly coloured lights and fat little men in red suits advertising a holiday he was certain half the country didn't really know anything about. The only winter event he found worthwhile was the coming of the new year; friends and family coming together to celebrate, mochi all around and early morning shrine visits. January couldn't come fast enough.

While official practices weren't held in the late autumn and winter months, that rarely stopped eight young men from continuing when the weather was decent - Sanada and Yukimura both were of the opinion that if they remained idle in the off-season, they would be out of shape and off their game by the time the spring and summer tournaments rolled around. So there they were every afternoon, whacking balls back and forth between each other and the few other team members that joined in at random. Given the tennis team's reputation they were never told to leave, and the team itself preferred to stay on their home turf - for one, it was just as fancy and high-tech as most of the private tennis clubs in the area and for two, it was free - always a deciding factor.

The weather had been decent all day; cold, but the sky had been clear and practice had begun as usual after classes had ended. The sky had grown darker with heavy clouds and before they knew it rain had begun to fall; fast and furious and drenching everything in sight within minutes. The boys scrambled to gather balls and pull down nets, stowing them away in the equipment shed and heading for cover of their own.

"Argh, it's fucking cold!" Kirihara grumbled as he pushed through the locker room door, wet shirt yanked over his head and tossed over the door of his locker to dry.

"Watch your mouth, Akaya." Yukimura chastised softly, tossing his underclassman a dry, fluffy towel as the team's remaining members trickled into the room. He perked a brow at the indignant look on Kirihara's face before adding, "Or I'll tell your mother you failed your last English quiz." It was a dirty trick, certainly, but if Yukimura had learned anything about Kirihara Akaya, it was that what he feared above all else was the (rather charming, in Yukimura's opinion) woman he called his mother.

"You wouldn't!" Kirihara's clammy skin seemed to lose what little colour it had had.

"You've run five hundred laps for this guy and you don't think he would?" Asked Niou's muffled voice - his face was covered by the thick sweatshirt he had been trying to pull over his head without doing too much damage to the 'do. Yanking the fabric down over his chest and stomach he grinned, nose twitching slightly with amusement. "Yanno, if you spent nearly as much time actually reading your English text as you do trying to learn new curse words, you'd probably ace your exams and he wouldn't be able to use that against you." He ignored the decidedly dirty look his captain gave him, instead turning his head towards the source of a small cough.

Yanagi's head was covered by a towel he was rubbing furiously over his hair, but his voice was perfectly clear. "I believe seventy-three percent of his English 'vocabulary' is entirely your fault. You really didn't need to give him the urban dictionary." Mainly because of the questions that tended to be asked afterwards - he really wasn't certain he could handle explaining to Kirihara just what exactly a Dirty Sanchez was without feeling as if he'd just done something inherently wrong. Niou said nothing, but his face seemed to brighten with an aura of mischief.

Niou sat and began rummaging through his school bag, pulling a few questionable items out and stuffing them back in almost immediately after. "Hey, you never know when that stuff'll come in handy - Oi! Yagyuu! Where the fuck'd you put my deck of cards?"

From somewhere behind a gaping Kirihara (how come Niou-senpai wasn't getting yelled at?) and a smiling Yukimura (Niou was older, it was okay to curse) Yagyuu looked up and replied, "The deck with seven aces or the deck you stole from Kirihara-kun last week?"

"Yeah, that one. The other one doesn't work so well for Go Fish."

"Ask Kirihara-kun, I gave it back to him."

Niou frowned - that wasn't how it was supposed to be! What was the point in wasting the effort stealing a deck of cards if they were just going to be given back immediately? "Hand 'em over, Akaya."

"Can't." Kirihara said as he pulled on dry clothes and wrapped Yanagi's scarf tightly over his own. "Left 'em at home. Didn't think I'd need 'em."

"Damn, the hell'd you go and do that for? Now what're we supposed to play?"

"Sudoku." A sopping wet Sanada replied as he stepped into the room, a basket of dripping tennis balls dropped on the floor near the door and fingers plucking wet fabric away from his chest. "But I wouldn't take too long, your mother's here."

"She could've at least-- " Almost as if on cue, Niou's phone gave a loud and highly obnoxious ring and he scrambled to answer it. "Yeah? Give me a minute-- Oh, uh, hang on -" He didn't even bother covering the phone when he called "Comin' with, brat?"

Kirihara made a face and a small noise of affirmation as he set to gathering up his things. "Buchou'll just make me do homework if I go home with him." He grinned, hefting his bag over his shoulder and inched towards the door. "At least going with you I can put it off for a while."

"He says only if there's cake involved." Niou mumbled into his phone before flipping it closed and shoving it into his pocket. "Yeah, well, he's probably got the right idea." He replied to Kirihara as wet clothes were stuffed into his bag and uniform tie was hung loosely around his neck. Once he made sure he had everything he needed he joined Kirihara, throwing an arm around his shoulders and more-or-less dragging the younger teen along with him. Halfway out the door he paused, head turning to look back into the room. "And don't forget about Saturday," He eyed each regular carefully in turn. "Or I'll make your lives miserable." If his parents were going to trust him to have a party with no adult or elder sibling supervision, he sure as hell was going to make the most of it. With a wave and a chorus of "See ya!", Rikkai's trouble-making duo departed with a loud slam of the door behind them.

"Ah," Yanagi looked up from his crossword puzzle, a strange expression on his face. His lips pursed slightly - he seemed to have remembered something.

Sanada perked a brow. "Renji?"

"Akaya still has my scarf."

Yukimura let out a barking laugh from behind his own crossword. "I'm sure you'll get it back." Ignoring the fact his own set of gloves hadn't yet been returned and by now they were probably as good as gone. "Until then, you can help me. I need a ten-letter word for 'complete or succeed'."

------

The ride home was nothing short of normal - relatively speaking. The Niou brothers spent a good five minutes arguing over who got the front seat before their mother threatened to leave without them, Kirihara was punched in the arm no less than twelve times by the defeated younger brother and the elder Niou would likely develop a lump on the back of his head from the blows he received during a rather ear-bleeding rendition of Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

Once safely inside the Niou family home they went about their own business; Niou's mother heading off to the kitchen with her youngest child at her heels and the two older teens disappearing into a rather messy bedroom (comfort in chaos was Niou's explanation for the seeming lack of any organization). Bags were dumped on the floor, wet clothes extracted and hung to dry before each boy flopped down in their seats of choice; Kirihara, the bed, Niou, the beat up old beanbag chair in front of his television. They spent a few minutes in silence, simply relaxing and willing the cold to leave. Finally Niou leaned back and tilted his head, staring at Kirihara upside down as he spoke. "When's your mom coming?"

Kirihara didn't bother looking away from the magazine he was currently perusing, flipping through many-times-read pages with a bored yawn as he answered. "She gets off at seven-thirty, guess she'll call when she's on her way." It wasn't so unusual for Kirihara to go home with a friend after school and stay for dinner - sometimes even overnight; both parents worked long hours, half the time his father wasn't even in the country and his sister had moved into an apartment closer to her university's campus. It wasn't even as if he was scared of being home alone or anything, just . . . it was lonely; depressing to spend so much time alone in an empty house without even so much as a pet to keep him company.

"Ah." Niou replied, letting the subject drop. They chatted idly for the next hour or so; how cool Marui's new move had been, how much they'd like to see Sanada strung up by his toes on occasion and just how very cruel their captain could be when he wanted to be. After dinner found both boys sprawled over Niou's bedroom floor, textbooks and bits of crumbled notebook paper littering the bare wood surrounding them. Somewhere between Niou jabbing viciously at his calculator and Kirihara ripping his fourth set of ruined English exercises out of his notebook - what was with this 'f' and 'gh' sounding the same bullshit? - Kirihara spoke.

"Hey, can I ask you something?"

"You just did." Niou looked up from his poor, abused calculator, an eyebrow cocked curiously and pencil drumming on his textbook - was Kirihara blushing?

"Asshole, that's not what I meant." Kirihara sat up, knees pulled to his chest and arms laid to rest on top. "I mean, you don't gotta answer if you don't want to, just . . . well, what's it like?"

"What's what like?"

". . .You know. . . ."

"'M afraid I don't." Niou did know, but he'd never been one to deny himself the chance of teasing Kirihara for the off-the-wall things he sometimes said.

Leave it to Niou to be difficult - but then, should he have really expected anything different from him? "Sex." Kirihara said finally, his brows furrowing slightly with annoyance.

"Couldn't tell ya."

"But I thought you 'n Yagyuu-senpai--"

"We did. Do. And if he finds out I told you that, he'll kick my ass. Everyone still thinks he's straighter than a ruler. So keep your trap shut." Niou's math book was slammed shut as he too sat up, expression unreadable when he continued. "Look. It's different with girls. Different parts, different turn-ons, all that sort of shit. I honestly couldn't tell you, I've never slept with a girl."

"Well, that's why I asked you. If I wanted to know about girls I woulda just asked papa or Marui-senpai or someone." Girls could be nice. Girls could be pretty. Some girls were even awesome enough to share their lunches with him. But as a whole he'd never been particularly interested; he'd never tried to sneak into the girls' locker room with some of his classmates, he'd never cared to look at those pornographic magazines his father "accidentally" left lying around, he didn't want to hear about the whole three girls in his grade that had managed to grow into a B cup and the whole one kiss he'd ever shared with the opposite sex had been the most wholly unexciting and sloppy thirty seconds of his life.

With a small sigh his head lifted, gaze wandering towards the lonely scarf lying neatly folded at the foot of Niou's bed. "Just . . . curious, is all." He was a growing teenage boy, he had every right to be curious. Right? At least, that was what the little voice in the back of his head that sounded suspiciously like Yukimura told him.

That, Niou thought, was a particularly interesting tidbit of information; he'd always figured his teammate was something of a late bloomer and maybe his hormones hadn't hit him full-force yet (it had been gloriously fun to tease the younger teen only a few months prior when his voice had cracked and changed pitch nearly every time he spoke); but. . . well. Heh. You learn something new every day. "Curiosity killed the cat, you know."

"That didn't answer my question." Kirihara said quietly, hands wringing over his knees and unwavering gaze still focused on Niou. "I mean, what's it feel like? What happens?"

Niou tapped his fingers on the floor for a moment, lips pursing and brows furrowing in thought. There were many ways to describe it, but he needed a way to describe it to a boy who did not usually fare well with complex and convoluted explanations . . . despite the fact he often gave them himself. "Mmmm . . . le'ssee. It's good, but it all sort of depends on what you're doing, I guess. But you know that feeling you get when you're on top of your game and pushing yourself so hard you just sort of pass out when your brain finally tells you it's over?" Kirihara nodded vigorously - it wasn't so uncommon for him to simply fall asleep after a particularly enjoyable or difficult game.

"Sort of feels like that. Adrenaline rush and all. And you'll probably be just as sore the next morning, heh."

Schoolwork forgotten, Kirihara scooted closer, still watching Niou intently. "Does it . . . well, does it hurt?" He vaguely recalled hearing that somewhere - a classmate's conversation, some television show, or hell, maybe even his own sister.

"First few times, yeah, maybe, I guess. Again, it all just depends. Some people like that sort of thing." Some of those were probably the same people who liked to be tightly bound with rope and stripped of all control . . . stopping that thought. Niou shrugged and picked up his calculator again, pushing a few buttons and frowning at the result.

". . . Oh." Kirihara's nose wrinkled slightly and his chin dropped into his palm, studying the older teen carefully. "But after that, it's ok?"

"Sure. But look, I'm probably not the best person to be telling you this stuff." Niou did know when to draw the line (sometimes), and there were just some conversations that were too weird even for him - he did not want to think about the kid having sex with . . . well, anyone. "And I wouldn't think about it or put too much effort into it, anyway. He's straight, you've got a better chance of walking to the moon."

Kirihara's head lifted and an eyebrow raised. "No, he's not. I uh, asked him already. Used to me asking weird questions 'n all so he told me." That particular conversation had been awkward, but at least his question had been answered honestly.

"Wait, who are you talking about?"

"Who are you talking about?"

Niou stared at Kirihara for a moment. "Well? Who?"

"Yanagi-san." Kirihara replied quietly, blood rushing to his cheeks as he shifted uncomfortably. He wasn't supposed to be talking about this, damnit; Niou was only supposed to be answering his questions.

"Oh." And here he'd always figured Renji as asexual. "I thought - well, didn't you have a thing for Yukimura?"

Niou's gaze was met by a slightly confused and disturbed expression. "If you mean the 'I'll kick your ass one of these days' thing, then yeah. But, er, no. Don't like him. Never have. Not like that, anyway." Kirihara loved his captain, certainly; respected and admired and sometimes even envied him. But he absolutely, positively one-hundred percent did not have a "thing" for him.

"So what's your master plan, then?" Had Niou been born with canine ears, they would have perked with interest.

"Nothing, yet. Not like I'd tell you, anyway, you already know too much." In fact, Kirihara did have a plan - no matter how malformed and incomplete it was. Niou's party would be his crutch; a chance to get Yanagi alone while the rest of their friends were distracted with their party games and seeing how many melon shots (and God only knew what else) they could down before someone started loudly proclaiming their undying love to whoever would listen. Yanagi wouldn't participate, Kirihara knew, given the nearly violent reactions he had every time alcohol was merely mentioned in his presence; instead he would sit and quietly observe their ridiculous behavior. Chances were, no one would even notice that they were gone.

Kirihara didn't need a shoujo manga-esque confession under a blossoming cherry tree complete with sparkles and bubbles or whatever it was the girls in those comics did, he just needed five uninterrupted minutes to say what he needed to say - the advantage of doing it at Niou's party would be that should things get weird, they could simply go back and mingle and pretend it never happened.

It was a brilliant plan if he did say so himself, and if it didn't work, then at least he knew where he stood.

--------

"Akaya's got a thing for Renji." Niou's statement was nothing more than conversational; as per usual Yagyuu's bedroom was almost deathly silent save the rapid scratching of Yagyuu's pen over paper.

"Oh?" Yagyuu replied distractedly, flipping through several pages of his textbook and quickly scanning for the information he needed. He didn't really care about his teammates' love lives, especially while he as trying to concentrate on writing a particularly difficult essay. The affairs of others were none of his business and unless they for some reason directly affected he himself, they were deemed entirely unimportant. This revelation, however, could potentially prove amusing; it might be interesting to watch their terribly clueless underclassman flounder his way through admitting that he liked another guy and attempt to woo one Yanagi Renji. "I assume he told you to take that to the grave." As always, if there were secrets to be told, Niou would tell them . . . Yagyuu really wouldn't have been surprised if half the school knew they were together by now.

"Nah, ask him yourself. I ain't tellin' ya nothin' he wouldn't if you asked." Meaning Kirihara probably wouldn't voluntarily give up the information during their normal conversations. "It was kind of cute, he was blushing." An almost disturbing thought in and of itself; he was pretty sure the only other time he'd ever seen Kirihara blush, the guy'd just tripped over his own feet and wound up with his face making friends with the ground after attempting a rather stupid stunt.

"I am absolutely thrilled for him, I assure you. Now get back to work." Yagyuu's voice took on an irritated twinge - he'd had enough distraction already. "Your proteomics paper isn't going to write itself."

Rather than open his notebook again Niou got to his feet and perused the room in search of a stack of Jump back issues he knew were hidden somewhere - Yagyuu's parents didn't approve of that sort of "garbage" as they called it, and as a result the contraband was regularly moved to a new hiding spot; Yagyuu really couldn't use the "it's Niou-kun's, he left it here." excuse every time one was found.

After finally procuring his precious mindless entertainment Niou flopped back on his partner's bed, thumbing through the pages until he found the story he was looking for. "Already done. SparkNotes is a godsend; you should try it sometime. Ya might get out and see the sun a little more often."

"Unfortunately, I like being able to prove I'm capable of intelligent and independent thought." That, and any time spent researching on the internet was closely monitored by a parent. Why, he had no clue - did they think he was stupid enough to look up porn in the family room or something?

"Yeah, yeah. You done yet?"

"I could be if you'd keep quiet for more than two minutes."

"If I did that, I couldn't be the ever-growing thorn in your side." Niou quipped with a grin, soon falling silent and absorbed in his own "reading". When the scratching finally ceased and Yagyuu set his pen down, Niou looked up from his comic, watching the other teen expectantly. "Done now?" At Yagyuu's nod he tossed the book aside and sat up, patting the mattress beside him. "C'mere."

Perking a brow curiously Yagyuu moved his chair closer, hands resting on his knees and watching his partner with the slightest hint of suspicion. "What."

Niou simply smiled and leaned forward, fingers curling into Yagyuu's shirt collar and yanking him close, head dipping and tongue flicking over Yagyuu's lip. He growled softly and pressed closer, free hand dropped atop his partner's and squeezing.

Yagyuu, however, did not seem particularly thrilled with this idea; he pulled back and shoved at Niou's shoulder with an annoyed - and perhaps somehow apologetic - glare. "Not now," He muttered, a quick glance cast to his bedroom door before his gaze once again focused on Niou. "My mother's home - hey, cut that out!" He smacked at the hand steadily inching closer to his groin.

Undeterred Niou grinned and leaned forward again, lips mere centimetres from Yagyuu's ear. "Keep quiet," He mimicked their earlier conversation. "And you've got nothing to worry about." Without another word or care he grabbed Yagyuu's shoulders and flopped back onto the bed, forcefully pulling the other teen along with him. Any continued protests went unheard as hands began to wander and his tongue traveled along the line of Yagyuu's neck.

Before long Yagyuu resigned himself to his fate (Niou always got what he wanted) and began to reciprocate, shifting to straddle Niou's hips and tugging at the top buttons of Niou's shirt; one hand roaming the warm flesh of his partner's stomach and teeth scraping over his collarbone, biting down softly before laving his tongue over the pinkening mark. Niou inhaled sharply as as his back arched beneath Yagyuu and hips rocked, rubbing against Yagyuu almost desperately.

Yagyuu's head lifted only to swoop in again, lips catching Niou's and tongue forcing its way in to kiss him hungrily; exploring and tasting. Another growl rumbled in Niou's chest as his arms curled around Yagyuu's back, fingers clawing at his shirt and chest heaving. The kiss broke and they panted; staring, watching, just waiting for the other to make his next move.

"C'mon." Niou panted, yanking urgently at the buckle of Yagyuu's belt.

"Can't." Yagyuu hissed, a hand grasping Niou's wrist. "Mom." A bit of kissing and touching he could get away with, but what Niou wanted, right under his mother's nose . . . he couldn't risk that, not for Niou, not for anyone. That was the sort of thing he'd not only be grounded for, but there was a very high probability that he'd be yanked straight out of Rikkai in his parents' attempt at "saving him from the gay" and to keep him away from those "queer friends of his".

This did not appear to bother Niou in the slightest, his hand diving lower to cup Yagyuu through his pants, rubbing in small, slow circles and letting fingers trace lightly over the growing bulge. "I told ya, you ain't got nothin' to worry about if you keep quiet."

"Easy for you to say," Yagyuu groaned, breaths staggering and muscles trembling. "Your mother doesn't give a fuck what you do or who you sleep with." It must have been nice to have parents who were so accepting of his choices and allowed him to make mistakes. Yagyuu's own parents had to have been polar opposites; getting a ninety-eight on an exam was simply out of the question, breaking his curfew by one minute was grounds for punishment, simple bodily functions like nocturnal emissions were viewed as something awful and disgusting, and being gay . . . well, he didn't even want to think about the price he'd pay for that. He was Yagyuu Hiroshi, a young man who was supposed to be absolutely perfect at everything he did and to do it all with oftentimes feigned interest. He was certain that if tennis didn't provide an excellent workout, he probably would not have been allowed to even join the team.

Niou snorted, shifting slightly beneath Yagyuu. "My mom gave up on me. Yours is just crazy."

"Can we please not talk about my mother right now." Yagyuu panted, hips rocking against Niou's hand in attempt to gain more of the sweet friction.

"You brought her up." With a frustrated sniff Niou grabbed Yagyuu's wrist again, guiding a slender hand towards his own aching erection. He sighed with the warm pressure of Yagyuu's hand, pushing back against him almost frantically as his own hand continued to work.

Yagyuu chose not to respond, instead using what little coherent thought he had left to concentrate on pleasuring his partner in kind. There really was no rhyme or reason to it; they were simply two hormonal teenagers determined to get what their bodies demanded of them. He was almost too far gone, paying so much attention solely to Niou that he almost missed the creak of floorboards and the soft padding of feet outside the door. He froze, the hand between Niou's legs stilling and the other moving to cover his partner's mouth with a warning glance.

"Hiroshi?" Fuck, his mother. If she came in now, he'd be completely screwed. With a silent apology he scrambled off of Niou to sit beside him and attempted to straighten out his clothes, taking a moment to find his voice before replying.

"Yes, mom?"

"Are you busy?"

"Biology homework. It's a ten page research paper, it'll take me a while." He elbowed Niou in the ribs; the look on his friend's face was one that very clearly signaled that Niou was about to burst out laughing . . . probably due to the fact that Yagyuu was flat-out lying to his mother.

"Is Niou-kun staying for dinner?" Her tone of voice seemed to indicate that she was only being polite, and really would have rather not had her son's devious doubles partner intrude on their family meal.

"My mom said it was all right." Niou replied nonchalantly, making a face at Yagyuu as a hand slid down and under the waistband of his own pants, grasping his own erection and attempting to finish the job Yagyuu had started without drawing too much unwanted attention to himself.

"Be ready to eat in half an hour, then." With that the footsteps faded away but Yagyuu kept stone-still, listening cautiously to the sounds in the kitchen. After several moments he deemed it safe and let out the breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. "Now you see why?" He frowned, brows furrowing as he peered at Niou from behind his glasses. "And cut that out."

Niou responded to Yagyuu's admonishment with a mulish glare and kept his hand firmly planted in his pants. No way, nah uh, not happening. However, he soon discovered just why Yagyuu was so adamant about it; a warm body between his legs, hands on his buckle and zip, a tongue laving over his lower belly and fingers teasing his erection free of its fabric confines. Yagyuu watched Niou for a moment before dipping his head, tongue sliding over the thick head of Niou's cock and lips wrapping firmly around it, applying steady pressure as his head slowly bobbed back and forth.

"Oi." Niou grunted, one hand fisting into the blanket while the other grabbed hold of Yagyuu's hair. "Weren't you the one who said-" He cut off when teeth scraped dangerously over rigid flesh. Perhaps questioning Yagyuu's intentions wasn't the best of ideas at the moment, not when something so precious was in a position to easily be damaged.

Yagyuu worked diligently, one hand curled loosely around Niou's cock and pumping slowly as tongue and lip focused on the sensitive head; every so often allowing his tongue to slide the entire length and mouth to suck lightly on Niou's sac, nearly purring with satisfaction at the gasps and grunts Niou was desperately trying to hold in. At the moment he didn't particularly care about his own physical needs, he could take care of those later; he was fully intent on getting Niou off before the other teen could accuse him of cock-blocking and demanding future compensation for blue balls.

Mouth and hand worked in turn, fingers teasing over the tip as he sucked and licked around the base; alternating in speed and pressure until he felt Niou's thighs constrict and heard his heavy, ragged pants. The twist of his wrist, the flick of his tongue and the soft scraping of teeth over wrinkled skin were enough to push Niou over the edge, ejaculate spilling out of the corner of Yagyuu's mouth as he pulled back and reached for the ever-present handkerchief in his pocket. One hand still working Niou's dick his head tilted to the side, discreetly spitting into his hankie and wiping his mouth. Once the urgent bucking against his hand slowed and finally stilled he took to cleaning his boyfriend up, handkerchief wiping the remaining semen from the slowly softening organ - he'd have to worry about his sheets later . . . maybe when his mother took his sister to her ballet lesson the following day.

"Fuck." Niou grunted as he tucked himself back into his pants, a curious look given to Yagyuu. "Aren't you--"

"Don't worry about it." Yagyuu replied in a somewhat strained voice; even with having an excellent sense of self-control, if they kept on the subject he really would jump Niou, mother be damned. "Go get cleaned up." He said dismissively, getting back to his feet and working at straightening his clothes for a second time, carefully studying himself in the full-length mirror to ensure he wouldn't be sharing any . . . leftovers with the rest of his family.

"Next time," Niou promised as he made his way towards the door, stuffing his shirttails back into the waistband of his pants. "And you've got a little--" He wiped at his shoulder with a smug grin. "Right there." The door latched behind him before the pen Yagyuu threw got anywhere within striking distance.

------

Saturday found three boys still hot and sweaty from practice sitting around the Niou household kitchen, discussing their plan of action for the afternoon and deciding on who got the first shower - Kirihara had voted himself as the youngest, smallest,and cutest, therefore he should have gotten to go first, while Niou argued that it was his goddamn house and his goddamn shower. In the end it was Sanada (the smelliest) who went first, leaving Niou and Kirihara to continue their bickering as they went about cleaning, scrubbing, and removing anything valuable and/or breakable from the general living area.

Niou didn't get much of a chance to talk to Kirihara again; he'd disappeared as soon as Sanada returned and by the time all three had showered the sky outside was beginning to grow dark and it was time to do their last-minute snack shopping. It wasn't long after they had returned and gotten everything set up that guests began to arrive, some with gifts, others with smiles and well wishes; Yukimura with his girlfriend, Jackal and Marui with several of their friends from the girls tennis team, and Yanagi with a small, but delicious looking cake. The only person missing now was Yagyuu.

After an hour of card games, DDR showdowns and Sanada's bad Disney karaoke, Yagyuu still hadn't arrived - and Niou wasn't the only one who was getting worried. Yanagi had excused himself from his conversation with Kirihara to find Niou, a slight line of worry creasing his forehead. "You haven't heard from him, then? He asked me to cover for him if his mother called here . . . to say I'm your father, essentially."

While the image of Yanagi lording over his household was amusing, Niou didn't laugh. "Haven't seen him since I left school." Niou replied distractedly, alternately watching his mobile, the clock and the door. "Ain't like him not to call or text if he's going to be late or not show up." He could deal if Yagyuu wasn't coming for some reason or another; it was not knowing what the hell was going on that bothered him the most.

Yagyuu's absence went mostly unnoticed; it wasn't until he was standing just inside the doorway panting heavily and wiping sweat from his brow that most of the other party-goers even noticed he hadn't been there. "Sorry . . . late . . . sister . . . hospital . . . bus . . . ran . . . mobile dead. . . ." He wheezed in explanation to a crowd of curious faces, leaning against the wall in attempt to catch his breath enough to properly explain his tardiness.

As it turned out, his sister had broken her ankle during ballet and with his father still being at work and he the only one strong (and big) enough to carry her, he'd accompanied her and their mother to the hospital and his mobile battery had died. He'd been in such a hurry to leave he'd ended up catching the wrong bus, leaving him to run the last two kilometres to Niou's house.

"Well, sucks about your sister, but yer here now and that's all that matters." Kirihara said once Yagyuu had finished his story and Marui had produced some odd fruity drink for their late teammate. With the Great Yagyuu-senpai Mystery solved, Kirihara grabbed hold of Yanagi's arm in attempt to drag him off and "get on Niou-senpai's computer to show you that super awesome website I was talking about".

With the party well underway, everyone having arrived safely and Marui returning to showing off his "amazing" card tricks to the girls, Yanagi figured it would be safe to leave for a few minutes; after all, Yagyuu's arrival meant that there was still one more voice of reason and sanity to keep things under control. And so he allowed Kirihara to lead him off, fully knowing that whatever website Kirihara wanted to show him quite probably had to do with dissected cadavers, crime scene photos or was otherwise obscene.

Niou smirked at their retreating backs and nudged Yagyuu in the ribs with his elbow, murmuring out of the corner of his mouth. "Thousand says that ain't what he wants to show him."

"Might be a good bet, if I didn't agree." Yagyuu replied as Jackal called them over; Mario Kart waited for no one.

Moving to flop down on his couch, Niou picked up a controller, picking his character and replying. "All right, a thousand says he loses this round." Because it just wasn't like Kirihara to give up after the first try at anything, and Niou didn't see this as any different.

"What are you talking about, I'm the Mario Kart master." Jackal replied from where he sat on the floor, head tilting back with a cheesy grin. "Say it again after you eat my dust."

"Not you, 'master'. You're on, Niou-kun." Win or lose, what was a thousand yen between friends? Picking up his own controller Yagyuu sprawled across what was left of the couch, using Niou as his own personal footrest. One controller left that Kirihara probably would have gladly taken, but given he was missing, Renji was gone, Yukimura and Sanada were too busy giving each other shit and Marui was still trying to convince a couple of girls that he really would make an awesome boyfriend ("who cooks! And the pimples will clear up soon, really!"), the game was left only to they three.

"All right, guys. On your marks. . . ."

------

It became evident to Yanagi within about thirty seconds that Kirihara did not, in fact, have some website on his mind. For one, he hadn't yet touched the computer, two, he'd latched the door, and three, he was fidgeting and had the nervous air about him that usually meant he was either going to ask something incredibly stupid or he'd already done something stupid and wanted to apologize, but was afraid he'd be punished if he did so.

"What is it, Akaya?" He asked patiently, arms folded loosely across his chest and watching the younger teen carefully. "You said you wanted to show me something."

"I do! I just, uh, wanted to uh, talk to you, too. Without them, 'coz they'll laugh at me." Kirihara replied, hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans and looking around the room nervously; looking everywhere but Yanagi.

Yanagi perked a brow - Kirihara was acting very strange, even for him. "If you're wanting me to do your homework for you again, I'm afraid the answer is still no. I'll help you, but I will not do it for you."

"No! I mean, I do need help, but that's not it." By now Kirihara seemed entirely unsure of what to do with himself, walking around the room and poking his nose into various corners; reading through DVD titles and picking up the small toy Chihuahua with a bobbing head he'd brought back for Niou after a family vacation in America.

"What is it, then?"

Kirihara fell silent for a moment, finger tapping on the Chihuahua's head and watching it bounce, trying to decided just how exactly he was going to word what he wanted to say without it coming out completely wrong or convoluted. He wasn't nearly as good with words as most of his other friends (even when Jackal slipped up and tried to explain something in Portuguese, he was still better at speaking), but he was sure as hell going to try and hope it came out right. Pushing down his nervousness and swallowing thickly, he finally spoke. "Don't gotta say nothin', just hear me out, okay?"

"All right." No harm in listening to whatever harebrained scheme his underclassman was about to reveal; listening did not mean he actually had to participate.

"I like you." Kirihara blurted out, blood colouring his usually pale face. Damnit, even alone it was fucking embarrassing to say that.

Well, that was nothing new. Kirihara liked anyone who would play him and share their lunch with him. "I like you, too." Yanagi replied simply. "If I didn't, I wouldn't have offered to help you. Or let you borrow my scarf. Which, by the way, you still have not returned."

"Yeah, I know, I'll give it back on-" That had certainly caught Kirihara off-guard, that wasn't what he was talking about! "No! I mean I. . . like you. Like,like like you. Like love you, except not. I mean not that I don't, but not like that. I mean . . ." He loved him as he would love a brother, he liked him as he would like, in this case, a boyfriend. "I mean, you're so smart 'n you always help me out, even when I'm being stupid or a pain in the ass, and you never yell at me or treat me like I'm dumb or a little kid or like a burden even when I know I am and I reallyreallyreally like you--"

A strong hand squeezing his shoulder was probably the only thing that reminded Kirihara that oxygen was one of those things vital to living. "Akaya, slow down and breathe. You're going to make yourself sick." Yanagi said softly. Of all the things Yanagi could have expected from Kirihara, this was one of the last. "I assume this is why you asked me that last week?" Kirihara nodded weakly, face now almost the same exact shade of red as his shirt. But to Kirihara's surprise, Yanagi chuckled. "I had my doubts as to whether or not your history class would have set you to polling your friends on their sexual orientation as homework. It's not nice to lie, Akaya."

"I know." Kirihara grumbled quietly, trying to avoid Yanagi's eyes as best as he possibly could. "Just. . . woulda been weird, yanno? Not the sort of thing yer supposed'a just up and ask people 'n all." Argh, this was just plain stupid. What the hell was he afraid of, now? It wasn't like Yanagi had said he was gross or stupid or anything and he wasn't going to hit him, and if he had any plans of it he probably would have already done it. "Never liked a guy-" Or anyone, really. "Before, so it's all new to me and I don't really know what the fuck-" He was glad he couldn't see the small glare Yanagi had surely given him for the curse. "I'm doin' or sayin', but if I don't, then I'll probably miss out on something or regret it later, 'coz even if you tell me flat-out 'no' right now, at least I know I actually tried. So. Um. Willyoudateme?"

There. It was done and over, he'd said what he'd needed and wanted to say and managed to ask his question without too much trouble.

Yanagi's first suspicion had been that Niou had put Kirihara up to this as part of some sort of practical joke. His second one had been that Kirihara's confession had been sparked by nothing more than envy of Niou's relationship with Yagyuu (which, while they did keep quiet about it, they may have wanted to make it a little less obvious to the people who could read them as easily as large-print books). Now, however, none of these seemed to ring true - Kirihara's long-winded and ridiculously complicated attempt at trying to convey how he felt didn't appear to be anything but brutal honesty, and something he'd thought long and hard about.

"I won't say no." Yanagi said quietly, loosening his grip on Kirihara's shoulder, then finally letting his hand drop back to his side. "But I won't say yes, either." The look on Kirihara's face was completely pathetic; some strange mix of sadness and hope topped with fierce determination. A faint smile touched Yanagi's lips as he ruffled Kirihara's hair. "Give me some time to think, okay? I'll give you my answer first thing Monday morning." But Yanagi already knew what his answer would be. He couldn't let the boy think he'd won too easily, after all; a few days of waiting in uncertainty would only make the reward that much sweeter.

Kirihara, Yanagi thought, was a bit stupid (or misinformed) when it came to some things, he had an ego the size of China, a hair-trigger violent temper, he was quick to judge others and quite often very loud and obnoxious. But at the same time, he was incredibly intelligent when it came to things he enjoyed or cared about, he had a big heart and cared deeply about his friends and family, he was quick to think and quick to laugh, he was extremely loyal and his unwavering determination to do the best he possibly could at everything he did was unmatched by anyone else Yanagi knew. Most importantly, Kirihara knew when he had done something wrong and he knew where his faults lie; he was able to acknowledge and accept them, he was willing to try to change his shortcomings for the better. Overall, he was a good guy, not much more than your average fourteen-year-old boy who loved to laugh and play with his friends . . . not to mention he responded well to minor physical behavior modification.

"Tomorrow?" Kirihara asked hopefully. Not "yes" and not "no" was better than nothing at all, but who wanted to wait the whole weekend to find out?

"First thing, Monday morning." Yanagi repeated with finality in his tone that clearly said that there was no way around it. "I'll meet you at your stop and we can go for breakfast, if you like." Some people would call it a date; others, nothing more than the generosity of an upperclassman.

"Okay." Well, it was better than nothing, for now, Kirihara supposed. "But I get to pick the place!"

"It's a deal." Yanagi smiled, an arm curling around Kirihara's back as he turned towards the door. After undoing the lock and opening the door he gave Kirihara a little shove back out into the hallway. "You can show me your website later, I think I hear Mario Kart."

------

Thursday was nothing more than average; Yagyuu's wallet was a thousand yen heavier, Kirihara was still complaining about his upcoming English exam, Niou was as antsy as ever and Yanagi somehow seemed a little happier. Maybe it was the knowledge that soon they'd be out of school on their winter break or just high spirits in general, but that afternoon the tennis courts seemed to buzz with good moods and happy shouts.

Even the unusually cold weather didn't seem to dampen anyone's spirits; Rikkai's regulars and several of the other team members ran quickly back and forth, balls smacked heavily from one end of the court to the other. By the time Yukimura called them in for the evening a light snow had begun to fall, most of it melting the instant it hit asphalt and sweat-soaked jerseys.

With snow being such a rarity in their area not many wanted to leave just yet, instead trying to catch the falling crystals on their tongues and chasing each other around the tennis courts until the chill finally hit their bones and it got too cold to continue. Tired, sweaty and breathing heavily the remaining boys trooped to the locker room and went about their business, chatting loudly and changing into dry clothes.

"Think it'll stick?" Kirihara asked no one in particular as he bundled himself up in his school uniform and a thick coat, rubbing his hands together and breathing on them for a moment before stuffing them into his pockets.

"If it does, it'll be mostly gone by morning." Yagyuu replied from behind his scarf. He highly doubted it would last for more for a few minutes, and if for some reason it did manage to stick and continue snowing, it would be nothing but filthy slush come morning.

"Says you, spoilsport." Niou butted in, throwing an arm around Yagyuu's shoulders and leaning against him. No one could hear what he whispered to Yagyuu, but it appeared that the rosy colour of Yagyuu's cheeks was no longer simply because of the cold.

"Aww, man. Wish it'd stay." Kirihara grumbled, packing his belongings away and slinging his bag over his shoulder. "Your house?" He asked Niou as he walked towards the door, pausing only to look back over his shoulder curiously.

"Not today, brat. Busy." Niou grinned, steering Yagyuu to the door and giving him a little shove out. "Right, Yaaagyuu?"

"Right." Yagyuu muttered; he wasn't enjoying being treated like a piece of meat.

Once Niou and Yagyuu left Kirihara made a face, then looked around at the rest of his friends expectantly. "You guys?"

"I can't today, Akaya. I'm sorry." Yukimura's voice at least sounded sincerely apologetic. "I promised my sister I'd take her to a movie today, just the two of us." As he moved towards the door he dropped a hand on Kirihara's shoulder. "But tomorrow, definitely. Bring your DS, I bought the new Pocket Monsters game the other day."

"'K." Kirihara replied to Yukimura's retreating back. "Damn." He muttered. Jackal and Marui, as per usual would be off to the arcade or wherever it was they usually went (Kirihara really didn't want to know) and Sanada had muttered something about his grandfather and kendo before he'd left.

"Let's go, Akaya." Yanagi said quietly, trench coat zipped up over his uniform and his finally returned scarf wrapped tightly around his neck. "You can't come over, but I'll walk you home." He explained when they left the building. "I might be able to stay for a little while, but not for too long."

It was then that Kirihara realized that in the nearly two years he'd known Yanagi, he'd never actually been inside his home, and he'd really never questioned why until now. "How come?" He asked, head tilting slightly to look up at the older teen. "I mean, how come I can't?"

"My mother won't allow it." Yanagi replied, gaze still focused on the now slippery sidewalk in front of them. "Even Seiichi and Genichirou have never been inside. She says we barely have space for our own family, we don't need to be inviting others in." Which seemed silly, honestly - certainly, their apartment was small and he even shared a bedroom with his sister, but it made no sense to say there wasn't enough room when his father often did not come home until well after any friends would have left and his sister more often than not was rarely home between school and part-time jobs. "I don't quite understand it, myself." He admitted.

"That sucks. So you've like, never, ever had anyone over?"

"Not since we moved here. We had a house in Tokyo, and Ayana and I were a lot smaller back then." He still missed the friends he'd had and the time spent in Tokyo, but now he had another ragtag gang of goofballs and miscreants to call his friends and keep him from dwelling too much on the past. "I don't mind it so much, at least I can leave if I want to."

"Oh." Kirihara paused in his step for a moment, waiting for the light to change so that they could cross the street. "Been in the same house my whole life. Mostly, we were in South Korea for a few months 'coz of my dad's work when I was little, but I don't remember much of it."

"It must have been nice." Yanagi murmured as the crossed the street and continued on their way. Suddenly he stopped, catching Kirihara's shoulder to keep the younger teen from walking off without him. "I'm hungry, want to stop somewhere?" It was only a small lie, cheeseburgers weren't a food he'd normally choose but it did mean more time wasted together and less time Kirihara had to spend home alone. "My treat?"

Never being one to turn down free food - it'd be just like he hadn't eaten anything at all in half an hour anyway - Kirihara agreed, and soon they were seated in a small booth with a pile of cheeseburgers and fries spread out between them. "Shanks." Kirihara said through his first bite, swallowing thickly before continuing. "So. Um. Wanna uh, go do something this weekend? I got nothin' 'cept what Yukimura-buchou sets me to do." Strength training, footwork exercises and weighted sprints; same old thing as always.

"Only if you finish your homework first." If Kirihara thought that because they were dating now it meant he could get away with not doing his schoolwork and neglecting his education, he was sorely mistaken. In fact, it was quite likely that Yanagi would be even harder on him about it now.

"Aww, maaan! Do I have to?"

"Yes, you do. Sunday morning, nine o'clock. If you get your English exercises finished and and at least started on your math, we can go wherever you want to." Bribery was a dirty trick, but sometimes it actually did help . . . so long as it wasn't used too often and Kirihara didn't become reliant on or accustomed to being rewarded for doing the work he should be doing anyway.

Idle chat continued on for a while, and after Kirihara had managed to pack away four cheeseburgers and most of the fries the sky once again was growing dark. The rest of the walk back to Kirihara's house was more-or-less quiet; making plans for the upcoming weekend and commenting every so often about just how strange it was for snow to still be falling and now even sticking, creating little piles of white on top of signposts and parked cars.

Once safely inside the Kirihara family home they had a chance to dry off and warm up a little as they lounged around, flipping through television channels and eventually ending up huddled together under a thick blanket, Kirihara fast asleep on Yanagi's shoulder. Yanagi knew he couldn't stay much longer, and once an ancient-looking grandfather clock chimed seven he shook Kirihara in attempt to wake him.

"Akaya, wake up." He said quietly, then again, louder this time.

"Mshh naw noww . . ." Kirihara mumbled sleepily, pulling the blanket tighter over his shoulders and nuzzling closer. "Five . . . more minutes, papa. . . ."

Disturbing as the thought of being the guy's father was, Yanagi merely smiled. "Akaya, wake up. I have to go home now." A hand traveled beneath the blanket to Kirihara's stomach, fingers poised and ready for attack. "Come on, you have to move." When Kirihara neither moved nor actually woke up his hand went to work, fingers diving under Kirihara's shirt to tickle unprotected sides and the warm flesh of his stomach.

That had seemed to work beautifully, despite the fact Yanagi was certain he'd suffer damage to his hearing from the loud screech Kirihara had let out. "Stoppitstoppitstoppit!!!" Kirihara wheezed, sleepy brain somehow managing to comprehend that if he didn't move or fight back, the torture wouldn't stop. As his hands parried the one attacking he scooted back away from Yanagi, owlish eyes watching the older teen. "What what whaaat."

"I have to go now." Yanagi replied as he got to his feet. He moved around, gathering his things and yanking his coat back on. "Your mother should be home soon, right? Go get yourself cleaned up and start your homework." Once he'd gathered together everything he needed he stepped in front of Kirihara, tugging the blanket back up over his shoulders and tucking it tightly around him. "And get a sweatshirt, you'll freeze. I'll see you tomorrow." Yanagi stood watching him for a moment, hesitating, and finally leaned forward to press a small kiss to Kirihara's cheek. "Homework." He reminded before making his way towards the door, tugging on his shoes and venturing back out into the cold air.

Kirihara sat stunned for a moment, seemingly unable to speak until after Yanagi had already left. Rather than get up and chase him, Kirihara pulled out his phone and rapidly punched in several numbers and a message. After staring at it for several seconds, he finally hit 'send'.

C u l8er

------

When Yagyuu had tried to pull out his school books, Niou stopped him. "Time for that later. Your brain's gonna explode if you keep your nose in the books. Ain't due 'til next week, anyway." Perhaps not surprisingly, Yagyuu listened - Niou was right, if he was spending time away from his mother's watchful eye, he might as well enjoy it and procrastinate for once. And Niou, naturally, was all too happy to help him forget everything.

No sooner than the door had been locked did Niou have him pinned to the wall, eagerly popping the buttons of his shirt free and dipping his head to scrape teeth over Yagyuu's collarbone. A low moan bled from Yagyuu's throat as his fingers curled in Niou's hair, tugging lightly in a vain attempt at catching Niou's attention. Niou's head lifted and Yagyuu swooped in, his grip tightening as tongue swept over lip and he leaned in, forcing his way into Niou's mouth.

Niou pressed closer, kissing Yagyuu hungrily between heavy breaths and hands making themselves busy; one sliding up Yagyuu's back and scraping blunt nails along his spine while the other curled around the back of Yagyuu's neck and a knee pressed between his legs. There was a certain desperation to it; it had been far too long since they'd last truly been alone together, the frustration had taken its toll and only helped to spur them forward; hands exploring, clutching and clawing their way through rough fabric with the intent of stripping it away from heated skin.

After several minutes of torturous and teasing touches Yagyuu managed to break away from the wall, mouth attacking Niou's face and neck with a barrage of nips and kisses, hands busy with the buckle, button and zip of Niou's belt and pants as he steered him backwards towards the bed. It was no easy task to stumble almost blindly through the war zone known as Niou's bedroom floor without breaking their necks but somehow they managed; Yagyuu shoved and Niou pulled, both toppled down in a mess of bare skin and limbs and clothes.

What clothing remained was quickly stripped off and strewn about the room without a care. Calloused fingers roamed soft skin as they touched, Yagyuu straddling Niou and grinding his hips against Niou with loud gasps. Fuck, it felt good and not even the shrill ringing of his mobile phone that indicated his mother was calling could bring Yagyuu to stop.

"Aren't you-" Niou gasped when their erections slid together.

"Fuck it." Yagyuu replied as his head ducked and his tongue swept over a pert nipple.

"No, fuck me."

Yagyuu didn't need to respond, actions surely spoke louder than words. After a few moments he rolled off and hurried across the room to rummage through Niou's drawers - fuck him for keeping the shit so far away - tossing things left and right until he found what he was looking for. Lube acquired he stumbled back, pushing and prodding Niou onto his knees. He made quick work of the lubricant, slicking his fingers before leaning over Niou, slowly circling his entrance with one finger before easing it in. He didn't have to take so long to do it, he didn't have to hold out but somehow the wait always seemed to make the final result that much better, and given how infrequently this sort of thing happened he wanted to make it last.

A second finger joined and soon a third, his free hand stroking Niou's erection and lips tracing the back of Niou's shoulder as he breathed him in; enjoying a scent that was wholly Niou and reveling in the choked moans his boyfriend let out with each flick of his wrist, twist of fingers and swipe of his tongue.

"Fuck, cut it out, asshole." Niou panted as his back hollowed and hips rocked back and forth. It was driving him nuts, breaths were already ragged and his body ached for more; to be touched and teased, to be so thoroughly taken he couldn't stand it anymore.

With a smug smile Yagyuu finally pulled away, a hand dropping between his own legs to pump himself several times. He couldn't drag it out any longer, his cock was nearly throbbing against his thigh and his body demanded more.

Within seconds he had Niou flat on his back and had settled between his legs, one hand guiding himself as the other clutched Niou's hip tightly. One inch, two, and Yagyuu hissed as Niou's heat enveloped him; hunching over and sucking in a deep breath. A guttural moan rumbled in his chest and muscles tensed when he began to move; hips rolling slowly and evenly against Niou.

Nails clawed at Yagyuu's back when he leaned over to brace himself on one hand, the other traveling between heated bodies to once again grasp Niou's erection and stroke in time with his own thrusts. Niou rocked back against him with each thrust, hiking his legs further up and clinging to his partner, desperate for as much contact as he could possibly get. It didn't take long for Yagyuu to hit his stride; pace quickening and thrusts of his pelvis harder, low moans and panted breaths brushing over slick skin as Niou clung tighter to him.

Niou growled, sucking in several shuddered breaths as a hand moved to join Yagyuu's, fingers curling around his partner's and mimicking his movements. After a moment he pulled Yagyuu's hand away and replaced it with his own, dipping his fingers into the precum leaking from the tip before curling his hand tightly around the shaft, jerking himself to the erratic rhythm of Yagyuu's thrusts. Yagyuu braced himself on both palms and leaned forward, shifting slightly for a better angle and head dipping to catch Niou's lips in a hard, hungry kiss.

He broke the kiss with a loud moan, head dropping to Niou's shoulder and eyes squeezed tightly shut as his hips bucked against Niou. His head swam; everything seemed to act as a stimulant - the sharp sting of nails digging into his back, the tight, constricting heat taking hold of his dick, the beads of sweat dripping down the back of his neck, the pleasured moans ripping from Niou's throat and just how fucking hot Niou looked through the hazy glow of fogged glasses; sweat-soaked and pale skin flushed with exertion.

It was Niou who came first; semen spilling over his stomach and fingers, back arching as his head tilted back and he let out a loud moan. White sparks flashed in the backs of Yagyuu's eyes as Niou clamped tightly around him, several quick breaths taken in and let out as he pistoned into his partner; movements shaky and and becoming more and more frantic. It was all he could do to keep his focus, to ward off the dizzy feeling and the trembling of aching muscles; his body was demanding more than his mind could keep up with.

With a soft cry of his own Yagyuu came, weeks of pent-up frustration pouring out as he slammed into Niou's body again and again until finally, he just couldn't control himself anymore. Slowly he lowered himself down against Niou; his heart pounding so loudly in his chest he couldn't hear anything and chest heaving with gasping attempts at catching his breath again. Niou lay beneath him panting heavily, arms sliding around Yagyuu's back and clinging to him tightly.

The few quiet minutes they lay there seemed more like hours and by the time Yagyuu finally pulled his softening penis free and rolled off to the side breathing had more-or-less returned to normal and he could see straight again. Somehow the sight of the fogged bedroom window was amusing and for once, he didn't keep himself from laughing.

"What's so funny." Niou murmured sleepily, slowly pushing himself up into a sitting position.

"Nothing." Yagyuu replied as he lay back again, staring at the ceiling and just relaxing.

"If you say so." Niou took the chance to push and prod Yagyuu into a more suitable position, using Yagyuu's chest as a pillow once he was satisfied. It was nice, though, to be able to get Yagyuu to relax for once - to get him to laugh, even; something that Niou rarely heard even with how much time they generally spent together. If he was going to laugh, Niou didn't need to hear a reason why.

"I do say so. And I also say we have . . ." Yagyuu took a quick glance at the clock on Niou's desk. "An hour and a half before your family starts coming home, and I feel disgusting." The thin layer of semen on his stomach was beginning to dry and the congealing mess didn't really feel all that great. "Shower?"

"I think I like that idea." Niou replied. Potential for a second go? Well why the hell not? "But none of this scalding water shit, dear pain in my ass."

"I should hope I'm not." Yagyuu snorted as he slowly got to his feet, roaming the room to gather up his scattered clothing.

"Said before and I'll say it again. I'll be the thorn in your side if you'll be the pain in my ass."

------

As Yagyuu had predicted, the freak snow was completely gone by the next morning and by the following week it was as if it had never even happened. Normal activities resumed and the rain had started again, all that was left now was to count down the hours until they'd be free from school until January.

The day had seemed to drag on; classes, cleaning, and tying up any loose ends they had. That afternoon would be the last group practice they'd have for the rest of year, but after forty-five minutes Yukimura and Sanada had given up trying to keep their attention and after a few words had dismissed the team. Niou and Kirihara had left together, as had Marui and Jackal, Sanada and Yukimura had parted ways at the school's front gate while Yanagi and Yagyuu had been left dawdling behind.

Not one to waste a good opportunity Yanagi quickly caught up, steadying his pace to walk alongside Yagyuu. "Yagyuu."

"Yanagi-kun?" Yagyuu replied, tilting his head slightly to watch Yanagi. While chatting during school hours and practice wasn't so unusual for them, something seemed strange about Yanagi having waited this long to go home, much less to want to speak with him.

No need to waste time with pointless chit-chat. "Would you mind if I asked you a few . . . personal questions?" Yanagi asked hesitantly. It felt weird to catch Yagyuu out of the blue to ask these sort of things, but as Yagyuu had far more experience in the subject than he did and was far more likely to give straight, honest answers than Niou was, Yanagi felt he didn't really have much of a choice. Sure, he could wait and figure it out on his own, but he had someone besides himself to think about as well. "Nothing too personal . . . no details or anything."

"You ask, I'll decide what's too personal." Had it been anyone else but Yanagi he probably would have flat-out said no, but Yanagi wouldn't share his secrets with anyone else any more than Yagyuu would share Yanagi's. A simple matter of trust it was, and if Yanagi was trusting him with his questions, he'd trust Yanagi with his answers.

"Thank you." There were many things Yanagi wanted to ask, but for now he'd keep it to just the basics and limit himself to only a few key questions. "All right, then." He said, steeling himself against any potential embarrassment. "How long did it take for you and Niou to start kissing? With tongues."

He wouldn't laugh. He couldn't laugh; that would be nothing but cruel and Yanagi had never done anything to deserve it. "I honestly would not be surprised if Kirihara-kun was asking Niou-kun that exact same question at this very moment. But two weeks, give or take a few days."

Hmm, okay. So he wasn't too far off - not that he wanted his relationship with Kirihara to be identical to Niou and Yagyuu's (a rather frightening thought), but he did want to have some sort of general idea; he didn't want to take things too fast, nor did he want it to drag on. "All right. How long before you two started . . . getting physical?"

"Er." There was more than one definition of physical here - which to give, though? After a few moments of deliberation Yagyuu flushed slightly. ". . . Fooling around after about a month. We didn't . . . go all the way until about three months in." Mainly due to his own inhibitions, Niou had been more than ready and willing to jump the gun right from the get-go; Yagyuu had opted to wait purely for some further proof that Niou wanted him for more than just sex. "Though if you're wanting to know if and when you should start . . . whenever you're both comfortable with it and ready for it. Knowing Kirihara-kun he'll probably be quick about it, if it were me I wouldn't do it just because he wants to." There was something to be said about exercising control, and though it may sometimes work, it wasn't always the greatest idea to jump right into things.

"I see." Yanagi said softly. He hadn't even been aware that they'd both stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk. "Thank you again . . . and I apologize if I've made you uncomfortable." Red wasn't really a good colour on Yagyuu. Rather than just leaving it at that, Yanagi continued to walk alongside his friend, chat idle and dry. Before long it was time for them to part ways and head home. "I think Seiichi is planning to get everyone together sometime during break; if he does, I'll let you know."

"Thanks. If we don't, have a good new year, Yanagi-kun."

"You, too."

The parting of ways did little to calm Yanagi's nerves, but at least now he had some idea of what it was he wanted to do.

------

"F-fo . . . ru. Fo-ru. Ah, I get it! It's 'fall'!" Kirihara exclaimed excitedly as he waved his notebook around. Despite it being vacation Yanagi had insisted that Kirihara continue with his studies - simply from experience he knew that if he didn't, anything Kirihara had learned during the previous term would be completely forgotten by the time the new term started.

"Good, what's the next one? F-A-C-E-T-I-O-U-S."

"Uh. Fa . . . Fake tits? No, that ain't right. Faucets?" The excited look on Kirihara's face faded when Yanagi shook his head. "Damnit, it's one of those weird words, isn't it? The ones that don't sound like they're spelled."

"Right on. It's 'facetious'." Yanagi enunciated slowly. "It means something amusing or something you really shouldn't take seriously, and usually said when it would be better not to say it. Pretty much anything that comes out of Niou's mouth would be facetious."

"Oh . . . well, that wasn't fair! That one was hard!" Maybe if he pouted enough, Yanagi would stop giving him hard words.

But of course, it didn't work. "They'll get harder, so if you don't learn the hard ones they're giving you this year, they're going to be very difficult for you when you're a third year."

"It's so stupid, though."

"Stupid or not, you need to learn it. You don't want to look stupid if you're the only pro tennis player who can't speak it, right?"

"Guess so." Kirihara grumbled. Having to learn it didn't mean he had to like it. "Can we stop now? We startedhours ago."

Yanagi thought for a moment - Kirihara was right, they had been at it for several hours already. "I think a break would be okay. One hour. Go." That should be long enough for Kirihara to relax again; once he started getting frustrated all hell tended to break loose and zero work got done.

"Only an hour? No fairrrrr." Even so Kirihara pushed away from the table and wandered towards the kitchen - couldn't think on an empty stomach, after all!

"It's plenty fair if you're wanting to go see that movie later." Perhaps luckily for Yanagi, he couldn't see Kirihara sticking his tongue out at him.

Fifteen minutes later found a very full Kirihara flopped across his couch, head resting in Yanagi's lap and fingers dancing over the buttons of his remote control in attempt to find something even remotely interesting on tv. Yanagi honestly thought the rapid flashing of the tv as channels changed was a bit annoying and would probably give him a headache but he kept quiet, instead focusing his attention on the hand brushing lightly through inky curls - Kirihara's hair was surprisingly just as soft as it looked.

"Akaya." He said once he'd seen the same music video flash onto the screen for the fourth time. "Pick something or turn it off. It's giving me a headache."

"Sorry." Kirihara murmured, and without complaint turned off the tv and dropped the remote onto the floor. "'M sleepy. Too much brain-work." Three hours of non-stop English exercises and a full stomach did not seem to bode well for him at all . . . not to mention he'd stayed up most of the night playing Street Fighter - one of these days he'd convince his mother that it would be a good idea to get his PlayStation 2 modded to play American games; really, playing the games in English would help his marks in school! . . . Somehow.

"Take a nap, then. I'll wake you up when it's time." Yanagi offered, hand still petting through Kirihara's gently.

"'K." Kirihara mumbled, shifting to curl an arm around Yanagi's thigh and nuzzling deeper into his lap.

As it turned out, Yanagi in fact did not wake Kirihara up; he had fallen asleep as well and it wasn't until his mobile rang two hours later did he jerk awake, nearly dumping Kirihara onto the floor in his haste to answer it. "Hello?" He asked groggily. Kirihara didn't even appear to have noticed that his 'bed' was moving. "Oh, hi, mom. Right now? Okay . . . give me twenty minutes. Bye." He shook Kirihara's shoulder as he flipped his phone closed. "Akaya, wake up. We overslept."

Once again Kirihara didn't respond and finally Yanagi gave up and gave the younger teen a shove, sending him toppling to the floor with a dull thump. Mean, maybe, but it got the job done. Once Kirihara had sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes Yanagi spoke again. "Akaya, I have to go home for a few hours, my mother needs my help with something."

"Uhhh?" Kirihara responded, brain still foggy with sleep and dazed from his fall. "Ohh . . . okay." He yawned, arms raised above his head to stretch his back and shoulders. "So we're not goin'?" He finally asked - if Yanagi was going home, that meant that there wasn't going to be any movie date and --

"I'll be back around six to pick you up." Yanagi promised, holding out a hand to give Kirihara a bit of leverage when he got back to his feet. He didn't let go when Kirihara stood, instead tightening his grip and pulling Kirihara down, his own head lifting and tilting to catch the younger teen's lips in a soft, sweet kiss.

Kirihara wasn't so fond of this being pulled around thing and soon crawled into Yanagi's lap, arms curling around his neck. He took it upon himself to deepen the kiss, tongue hesitantly sliding along Yanagi's lower lip; waiting, seeking, asking permission for entrance. Yanagi's chin tilted slightly as arms wrapped around Kirihara's lower back, lips parting slightly and tongue brushing lightly against Kirihara's. The kiss was wet and sloppy, messy and clearly showed all the signs of inexperience. It was nothing particularly spectacular but it was nice, and this was the sort of thing Yanagi imagined would only get better as time wore on.

He soon broke the kiss and sat back, watching Kirihara carefully. Kirihara's face was flushed and Yanagi's smile only served to make him redder - though whether out of embarrassment or joy was anyone's guess.

"I have to go now." Yanagi reminded, his grip around Kirihara's waist loosening and hands dropping to Kirihara's hips. "Work on your puzzles and be ready to go by six, okay?" For once the pathetic look on Kirihara's face almost got to him, but he quickly squashed any pity he may have had for him.

Reluctantly Kirihara crawled off of Yanagi's lap to sit next to him, a small pout still marking his features. "Can we do that again, too?" He asked as Yanagi moved about the room, gathering up his books and pencils and stuffing them into his bag.

Yanagi chuckled softly as he headed towards the door and his shoes. "I don't see why not. Remember, six o'clock. I'll call you when I'm on my way." It was just too bad Kirihara couldn't see the smile on his face as he stepped out the door.

Kirihara, on the other hand, thought it was too bad that Yanagi had had to leave so soon, things could've definitely gotten interesting.