Standard Disclaimers Apply.

A/N: One more ficlet before back to school. Because I think Akira is hot and cute and is a super awesome character (and thus I have to justify everything about him), and because no matter how I wish it wasn't true, everything that pops up in my head is cliché. Hope you like this anyway.

Somehow it bothers me that we never see Akira's parents or hear them mentioned, even if the same occurs for Aya. When it comes to Akira's personal relations you only hear about things that happened in the past, like with Jun, Kou and Kengo, and not a significant amount of information, and not much explanation on how he became friends with Kengo and Aya. With people like Aya and Kengo at least—you hear about their present relations, for example, Mayu and that kendo senpai of Aya's that went on a killing spree.

In the anime, Akira's room is also the only one that's ever lit in his house, for example, in the first episode. But then again you only see the top layer, and the hallway leading to the front door is lit but there are no other light sources, but it could've just been Akira stomping down the stairs to yell at Kengo. In that scene, it also looks pretty late. In the manga, things are different—Kengo and Haruka don't make an appearance at all, and Aya just shows up at Akira's doorstep to get him to come to school with her, at 9:30 at night. In the manga, Shirogane, when meeting him in the street, tells him to meet at the school at 10, and Aya is really just a construct of Shirogane's, meant to lure Akira to the school. So in the anime, I'd place Kengo yelling at Akira to come out at around 7:30 to 8 at night. By that time, I figure that even Akira's parents would be home. Maybe things are different in Japan though.

I also draw things, so I went back and looked at the layout of Akira's room closely—things shift around a lot. In episode 1 it's a buttload of books, and a couple of CDs and a book lying on Akira's bed wit him. Then later when Shirogane is sick in ep 11, it's a cushion thing that I'm guessing people kneel on. All his bookshelves are full and none of them look like manga, but that could also be animators trying to take up space. Two-thirds of his desk is also taken up by books. But don't ask me how Shirogane can miraculously read Japanese and English or something.

Sorry this is such a long author's note. But I figure that if I present my POV, I should justify it too. The fic is a little draggy, and it ends a little abruptly, I think, but I hope you like the rest of this fic bit anyway. Enjoy!


When at home, Akira is amazingly quiet.

It's a little disorientating. Shirogane is so used to the hubbub that surrounds his partner's daily life—Aya's sword-swinging and shouted orders of submission, Kengo's loud hero-worshipping proclamations and tactless comments, and Akira's own brand of not-so-kind sarcasm and blunt statements—he sometimes forgets that even Akira has a time in which he does not speak.

The house too, is dark and silent. His mother—"In Tokyo, for work," Akira had muttered to him once, "She visits once a month."—and the father—"Dead."

Akira is also a surprisingly diligent worker, mostly because he is almost always bored so he needs to have things to do to take up his time. The minute he comes home from Master's bar, he hits the books, and Shirogane is surprised that sometimes, even though Akira hasn't gone to class he goes straight to the exercises and does them without pausing.

"I got bored, so I read ahead."

His room is neat, the piles between desk and bed ever changing, sometimes a cushion from the low table near the door, sometimes the stack of CDs that Akira is listening to. Akira does have a computer in an almost untouched, somewhat dusty study downstairs, but he almost never uses it for fun, only for homework and research. He doesn't have a gaming system, and when he does turn on the TV, it's only for an hour and a half at most.

Akira mostly passes the time reading books. Shirogane himself is not a hater of literature, and the silence between them is amiable and light as they barricade themselves in the artificially lit solace of Akira's room. All five shelves of the bookcase are almost full; the cabinet next to it has another row of books lining the top space. On Akira's desk, books take up most of the vertical space between the fluorescent lamp and the wall. Shirogane is delighted when he finds interesting fare, strangely psychological things like Murakami Haruki, and is surprised when he finds some English paperback classics, like Thomas Hardy. It seems to him that anything remotely interesting is something Akira will get his hands on.

"Akira-kun, why are you always so bored? Are you not happy with your life?"

"…. I don't know, it just feels so…empty."

In quiet times, when Akira has nothing to read and nothing to listen to, because Akira is also hopelessly obsessed with music (as evidenced by the large stacks upon stacks of CDs that make themselves at home in the wooden cabinet on which his stereo rests, which also acts as the Western-style bed's makeshift headboard), he daydreams. Shirogane likes to watch Akira when it happens, it's a brief window where Shirogane can just look upon his partner in silence, observing the tan of his skin, those beautiful green-gray eyes framed by dark lashes and the long column of neck obstructed only by the strange black collar that Akira wears every day, which Shirogane, quite honestly, finds sexy. There is the glint of silver by Akira's left ear, the full lips that rest on each other, moving according to the thoughts swirling through Akira's mind, and the lithe, lean body spread out against the light lavender sheets, cloth and fabric outlining its lines, its shapes, its dips, angles and curves.

This is Akira.

And Akira's room, neat for a sixteen year old boy. There are no pictures anywhere in the whole house, and the room is not a exception. Well-used books and cracked CD albums are always slid back into their rightful places on the shelves and cabinets, and other shelves are lined up against the wall that holds the door, little green and mauve (or is it pink? Like Akira would ever let Shirogane say he possessed something pink, god forbid) bins with long horizontal oval hand holds with the lids firmly resting upon the open brims. There are no clothes thrown haphazardly over the floor, and if there are, they are always to be hung up or folded and put away at the end of the day. No stray eraser crumbs, papers, pencils, litter the desk, and the bits of this or that littering the floor get cleaned up whenever Akira vacuums, which is once every two to three weeks.

Shirogane finds it sweet how Akira is hopelessly domestic, but finds it sad that it's really done out of necessity. Akira doesn't have his mother to do these things for him, like other boys (even Kengo's mother finds the time to wash his clothes and press his uniform), so Akira washes his own clothing and underwear, irons his own uniform, cleans his own room, and mops his own dining room floor.

His favorite time is when Akira cooks. Akira clad in a white apron that reaches to his knees, moving meat around in a skillet with chopsticks, asking in his quiet at-home voice—

"Shirogane could you please pass me the canola oil?"

"Sesame oil?"

"Rice wine?"

"Soy sauce?"

And at the end—"Thanks."

Shirogane learns cooking from Akira too, who is a little reluctant –"I don't want it to be faster, cooking takes up time and it's the whole point, that way I won't be so bored—" but it becomes commonplace to see a disembodied knife chopping the onions next to a crying Akira chopping the carrots while yelling at thin air. It makes Shirogane happy, there's a sense of camaraderie and quiet companionship and they sit down to eat together, and sometimes they can even strike up a conversation.

"Ne, Akira-kun, did you like the movie that was on last night?"

"It was okay. That guy, the blond one, he was such a wimp. Sort of like Kengo…."

"That's not a very nice thing to say about your friend."

"Friend? Pfft! I call 'em like I see 'em."

Akira does the grocery shopping too, and when he finds the time (and Akira somehow has a lot of spare time that seems to pop up out of nowhere) he bakes things and experiments with his culinary skill, because at least he's moving around, doing something. The money for it all comes from his mother, who has a well paying job and has more than enough to pay for her apartment, the bills for this house, Akira's living and her own all at the same time. Shirogane wonders sometimes, just for fun, if Akira's mother works for the mafia, because how else could she pay for it all?

Yet Akira is still rather frugal and sets aside little amounts of money for everything: grocery shopping, personal allowance, hygiene products, household appliances, everything and anything under the sun.

The house itself is sparsely furnished, with all of the necessary items with a few oil paintings and water colors hanging up here and there, a decorative vase with the fake flowers in it on the small lacy doily as a centerpiece for the dinner table, a display case full of delicately hand painted sake jugs and ceramic and porcelain pieces, and high quality lacquer painted black and red and edged in gold-leaf. There are many more things waiting to be discovered in a room designated for storage, hidden treasures nestled in unopened, unlabeled cardboard boxes, but Akira never touches them, so neither does Shirogane.

The home is the place where Shirogane knows Akira best. It is there where he discovers that Akira has never bleached his hair before; that's his natural color. It's also where he finds that Akira can speak flawless English because his father was a gaijin, and he never forgot that part of himself, and sometimes, on odd nights, he talks to his paternal aunt from America through the phone when she wishes him a Happy, if a little lonely, Birthday on a snowy December evening, and they linger on the line, speaking in whispering voices thick with nostalgia and heavy, tense silences before they hang up on both sides, with some gravity.

There are photo albums hidden among the study cabinets, and its usually after those phone calls that Akira opens them. There is a small, happily smiling Akira clinging to a tall foreign man with dirty blonde-brunet hair, lifted in his arms, with smiling gray-green eyes so similar to Akira's. Next to them is a diminutive Japanese woman, peaceful and serene, silently supporting. She has mahogany brown hair, and warm hazel eyes, and when Shirogane looks hard enough, there are little specks of gold-hazel-brown in Akira's eyes too.

"I dunno, I never really thought about that," Akira murmurs, tracing over his father's face with a finger. "I don't really look like either of them, do I?"

It is amazing how closed off Akira is. Though Shirogane is with him every moment of the day, eating with him, going to school with him, and occasionally coming onto him, there are still so many different bits and pieces of Akira hiding in the shadowy corners of the Nikaido house. And sometimes when Akira is half awake and sleep-ridden in the mornings, he searches for himself.


"Yes, Akira-kun?"

"Could you…hold my hand?"

"Of course."

It is a strange reversal. Akira's hand is cold, but Shirogane's is warm.

Akira doesn't know what to do with himself. He is wandering, aimless, without guidance and without light. He's always bored because there's nothing important left for him to learn, because no matter what the teachers say, an academic education doesn't matter as much as a person's personality. The personality is the drive and motivation, education only the support. Akira already knows what the adults have learned in their thirties and forties—but not his mother, she's only thirty-six and so worn, and his father never even reached thirty-one—he knows loneliness and independence come together, knows the bitterness that comes at the back of his mouth at coming home to an empty house


and greeting empty shadows. He understands the sinking silence and the oppressing darkness that edges his house at night and knows the hopelessness at the nothing-life that awaits him when he grows up.

Akira is a teenager perpetually stuck in a mid-life crisis.

Shirogane is his saving grace.

"Okaeri, Akira-kun," Shirogane whispers into his ear affectionately.

Shirogane is always there, and Shirogane will never leave him. He's not sure how to respond, and how to react, so he blushes when they touch, blushes when the shadow comes too close and shies away from any remotely intimate contact. But he likes it, the weight of Shirogane's gloved hand in his own, the fleeting touches and sensual breaths in his ear, and the arm that tries to sneak around his waist.

It means that someone is there, watching after him, taking care of him, somebody who could stay with him until the very end.

"Don't worry…I'll always be by your side. When you feel like giving up, when you're full of vigor, even when you grow into white hairs with me."

"You've already got white hair."

"This is silver hair! Anyways, like so, I can't leave you for an instant. When you're sleeping and when you're bathing as well…"

And he likes it. He buries it deeply, deeply, because it's embarrassing and he's never felt like this before and he doesn't want anybody to know.

And Shirogane just thinks it's cute. In a way, for all of Akira's bluster and exclamations of trust and not-trusting, Shirogane's happy that Akira is so offended because it means that he wants trust him, and everyone knows that trust is one of the big steps toward a relationship. He's also pretty sure that Akira likes him back so keeps up his optimism, but sometimes after the constant rejection, it's a little harder. But the signs are definitely there.

Akira is awake, and he stares down at the white figure in his bed, the one he assumes to be asleep. He hesitates, blushing, and leans down.

"I'm sorry," he whispers in Shirogane's ear, regret heavy in his voice. He pauses again, and brushes back the white (silver) bangs away from his partner's face, and just watches as Shirogane sleeps. He bends down, ear pressed to Shirogane's chest, and it somehow soothes him that even if Shirogane is just a shadow, he has a heartbeat.

"You were serious that time, weren't you?" he murmurs. "About holding hands, about kissing. You've always been serious…" Shirogane's heart beats in his ear, steady like clockwork.

"Maybe….maybe I should be serious too…" Akira says to himself out loud, because now, he thinks, his hand fisting lightly in Shirogane's clothing, now he has something to lose, something he almost lost tonight.

And he props himself back up, slowly, because Shirogane needs the rest. And he smooths back Shirogane's bangs one more time, and bends down, brushing his lips across Shirogane's forehead. With one last look at the figure sleeping in his bed, he whispers a quiet, "Sweet dreams," that echoes and reverberates in the dark, silent room, and slips out the door to find something to occupy himself with.

There will be no more sleeping for Akira tonight.

Upstairs, Shirogane opens his eyes, and his lips slowly stretch into a smile, and he thinks he loves Akira just a little bit more.

Silence is lonely, so it is best to have someone to be silent with.

When at home, Akira is amazingly quiet, but now Shirogane is quiet with him, and it isn't so bad to just sit side by side on the bed reading books, their arms touching, bodies warming each other.

It's not so bad.