EDIT 8/25/2016: Did some editing to try and fix it a bit, but mostly leaving this one up only because it was for a fic exchange.

Name of Recipient: pollinia

Murata liked to think that there was a good chance things could work out. He wasn't as sure about it as he would have liked to be, but sure enough to give it a shot. He'd been thinking about it for a while: how they fit together like just the right pieces of a puzzle. Shori was a worrier, especially when he was trying to act like he wasn't, and Murata was an experienced soul.

There had been this pattern. A rhythm of sorts. A steady pace to those feelings: want, love, lust. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Never had this been the sage's style, but he had known this time would be different. For a while they had formed a beat, a song between them that raised and crashed and could be loud enough to shake this world and the next if anyone else could hear it. There was something missing though. An extra measure that would have made things fit, make them easy and right and the way they should be. Secretly, the sage thought it might have something to do with the way Shori denied, denied, denied.

"What about Yuuri and the others?" Shori warmed his hands with his breath, a so far fruitless attempt.

Murata shuffled through the cabinets. He was just a bit too stubborn to call the maids back in after making such a big show of sending them away. He shoved away odd dry meats and spice jars, rolling his eyes at the absolute clutter the servants are keeping it in. "Well," he hummed, absent-mindedly, "they should be in the next kingdom already. I doubt they're even getting a cool breeze."

"And we're stuck here in a snowstorm," Shori muttered. "Are you sure we can't make it back to the temple?" He was petulant, which Murata found endearing.

"I guess next time you decide to visit I should check Yuuri's schedule, right?" Murata said. His fingers grasped his sought for object and he cheered. "Got it!"

Shaking the dark canister in his hands, Murata smirked at Shori's blank look and explained, "It's Shin Makoku's version of cocoa. Grab a pot."

"Cocoa?" Shori echoed. He fumbled with frozen fingers to pull a pot off the kitchen-ware rack.

"Mmm-hmm," Murata continued, tapping his fingers on his chin. "You know - now that I think about it, I seem to remember being the inspiration behind its invention. It was my idea to harvest the chokochoko tree."

"And I bet everyone thought that was pretty smart," Shori said sarcastically.

"What can I say?" Murata grinned toothily. "I am a genius."

"You're not a genius," Shori complained, glaring at the kitchen appliance he'd set the pot on. It looked eerily like the stoves on Earth, but was about thirty times more difficult to use. No doubt it was an invention of Anissina. When the flame finally flickered, Shori glanced at Murata. "You're just a conceited guy who knows more than he should."

"I'm not conceited," Murata said, holding in a laugh. "I'm confident. And there's nothing wrong with that - especially if I'm right, which I am. I mean, it's not conceited for me to say that you want to sleep with me, right? Because you do."

Shori's face blushed a deep scarlet from the tips of his ears to the tip of his nose.

"I knew it," Murata said smugly.

That was where things got awkward. And despite all his teasing, that had never been the outcome Murata was looking for. Things were supposed to be complacent and comfortable between the two of them. By the time the milk was bubbling away on the stove, Shori still hadn't looked anywhere other than a completely boring brick in the kitchen wall.

This happened every time Murata thought it was safe to push a little farther, a little harder. Things ended awkwardly and then reset, with Shori pretending nothing had happened and Murata playing along. That was the uncomfortable, incomplete dance to their otherwise beautiful song. But this day would be different. Nature (and perhaps divine intervention, which could never be ruled out) had abided. They were stuck together and finally, finally, through Murata's brilliant planning and a massive amount of sheer luck, they were alone. And this day would be their new beginning.

Murata scooped some powder into mugs and then enjoyed the fierce look of over-exaggerated concentration on Shori's face as he poured the boiling milk.

"To us," Murata said, cheerfully and more earnestly than he'd ever admit, and they clinked mugs in a small toast.

The cocoa was thick and warm, a liquid chocolate sweet to the tongue and good for heating cold cheeks. Good for sipping to avoid conversation. Good for gazing into to avoid looking at the person next to you.

Shori, serious big brother Shori, sipped his cocoa with the same expression that Murata had always imagined he'd wear post-sex. The great sage gulped a mouthful of steaming liquid for distraction.

"You've got something," Shori said suddenly, gesturing vaguely.

"Huh?" Murata asked. He wiped at his cheek.

"No, its-" Shori's hands were large and rougher than they looked. The pads of his fingers trailed down Murata's face. Behind them was a force of invisible heat. Shocking heat, burning heat, freezing heat that expanded and multiplied and grew until Murata could feel the tingle all the way down to his toes. When those hot hands fell away with a smudge of chocolate, they left behind a messy mass of want.

"You've got something on your face, too," Murata said, before he could even start thinking again.

Shori froze. "Yeah?" The sage grabbed his hand before it lifted.

"Let me," Murata said, in both an order and a plea.

Then he pushed his mouth carefully to Shori's. He breathed slowly and waited for rejection, torn between knowing Shori wanted him and the hard earned knowledge that nothing in life was certain, especially not love. He pressed his tongue to Shori's lips. Licked them and kissed them and refused to breathe again until he felt Shori kissing back. It was the movement of Shori's fingers threading through his hair that created the thud and thump of his heart, like the beat of a drum.