Disclaimer: These characters definitely do not belong to me; I'm only borrowing them from Shungiku Nakamura for my own amusement. I'm not making any money out of this and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: This fic is based on a drabble, Birthday Wish, that I posted in the LJ community junjou100, written for the prompt touch. The drabble has been changed around a little bit and incorporated in the fic.

THE BELLS OF LONDON TOWN

Iron and steel will bend and break
(From the nursery rhyme London Bridge is Falling Down.)

-------

"You need to pack," Usagi says to Misaki out of the blue when they've finished dinner.

Misaki nearly drops the bowls he's carrying to the sink. "What? Why? Is it one of my brother's weird ideas again?"

Usagi is looking very smug. "Takahiro has nothing to do with it. We're going on holiday."

The bowls land in the sink with a crash; it's a wonder they don't break. "Usagi-san! Why don't you ever tell me anything?"

"I'm telling you now." He's smirking and Misaki fumes.

"Can you at least tell me what to pack? What kind of clothes do I need? Will it be hot or cold?"

"Cooler than here, but not cold."

"And what if I don't want to go? It's okay for you, you can just do as you please, but I have to go to work!" Misaki is getting angry. Sometimes when he protests it's like playing a part, with lines he needs to feed Usagi to prompt the next action, but this is real. Usagi truly has his head in the clouds sometimes and always does things without stopping to think how it affects other people.

"Of course you want to go," Usagi says now, calmly, irritatingly. "And I've talked to Aikawa. She's fine with you being away for ten days."

"Ten days? Usagi-san!"

"Oh, come on, Misaki, you know you love me even more when I'm decisive and arranging things for you," Usagi mumbles in Misaki's ear, because suddenly he's behind Misaki at the sink, arms around his waist and lips moving from his ear down his neck. "Just admit it."

"Let go of me! You're so annoying!" Flail, sputter. And the anger is melting away pitifully like a snowball in spring.

"Tell me you love me and I'll let you go."

Usagi's voice raises goosebumps all over Misaki's skin and it's all very enjoyable in an irritating way… and he has to steel himself to keep resisting. But however true Usagi's words are, however right he is about Misaki loving him, Misaki can't bring himself to say it. He's a little ashamed of himself as he struggles free from Usagi's embrace to pack his suitcase with clothes for "cooler than here but not cold".

XXX

They fly first class, of course they do, and Misaki, who has never been outside Japan before, is nervous and reluctantly impressed, and finally so plain tired from taking in so many new things that he simply falls asleep in his comfortable seat, lulled by the droning of the engines. He wakes up hours later, shivering with cold and with a crick in his neck, rubbing his eyes. Next to him Usagi has his glasses on and the reading lamp lit, a book in his hand and a tumbler of whiskey on the foldable table.

"You're not actually reading one of your own books, are you?" Misaki asks for no reason at all except to rile Usagi up a little so he takes notice of his travelling companion.

Usagi lowers the book, turns his head and looks at Misaki like he's out of his mind. "Once I've finished writing a book I never look at it again," he says like this is something Misaki ought to know.

Then he returns to reading, and after a while, Misaki goes back to sleep.

XXX

From the air, England looks like a velvet patchwork quilt in different shades of green. London itself spreads out like an enormous, grey, grainy blotch, the individual grains turning out to be buildings as the plane descends, the river running through it like a squiggly snake. The plane makes a low turn over the city before landing. Misaki gazes avidly at the scenery spread out below them, and when he catches a glimpse of Tower Bridge he's so excited he bumps his nose against the glass. A small, choked noise behind him makes him turn around, and the look on Usagi's face is enough to make him blush. God, the man looks like he wants to devour him.

"Oh, Misaki," he breathes with laughter in his eyes, "I love you. Inexperience tastes so sweet."

Misaki's face is burning, fists clenched in his lap. "It's not my fault that I've never been anywhere! Don't laugh at me, stupid Usagi!"

"Sit straight and tighten your seatbelt; we're landing," is Usagi's exasperating reply.

XXX

London lives up to its weather reputation. It's raining. Not pouring down in buckets like it sometimes does back home, but a soft, thin, insistent drizzle that is somehow incredibly wet and shows no signs of letting up. The sky is iron grey.

By the time they check into their hotel they're damp and tired and shivery, jetlag sitting heavily in their bodies.

"We need to try to stay awake," Usagi yawns and immediately contradicts his own words by throwing himself on the enormous bed – the only one in the room.

"Why didn't you book twin beds?" Misaki complains, exhaustion adding a whiny note to his voice. "You always kick me when you sleep."

"Come here." Usagi stretches out a hand to him.

"No!"

"Mi-sa-ki." In that voice, the voice that makes his knees buckle.

And Misaki is too tired to fight anyway so he just lets himself fall onto the bed next to Usagi, who pulls him into a sleepy full-body hug that actually feels like a hug and not like a forceful invitation. The bed is too soft; it rolls and swells like the sea and they begin to laugh.

"I must get some sleep, Usagi-san."

"You slept on the plane."

"I know, but it wasn't real sleep."

Usagi yawns again. "Two hours. Then we'll take a walk and have a look at the city."

XXX

It's the weirdest thing, being in a foreign country on the other side of the world and hearing a different language spoken around you, one you can barely catch a word from. Usagi has only just started giving Misaki English lessons, and his vocabulary so far mostly consists of monosyllables like "yes" or "cat". It's not much help. Usagi, of course, is fluent.

The rain has stopped and the sun is coming out, making streets, grass and leaves glitter like jewels as they buy coffee and sit on a park bench.

"My family moved to Japan from England when I was ten," Usagi says, sipping his coffee. "Even if I've practised my English fairly regularly since, I still feel that it's the English of a child. Like I never really move past the age of ten when I speak it."

Misaki turns his head to look at the tall man next to him, who sits with his long legs outstretched and ankles crossed, an arm along the backrest of the bench, a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth.

"Usagi, you're so weird," he says.

London, surprisingly, looks much like he imagined it would look – there really are brick buildings and ivy and red double-decker buses and red pillar letterboxes and a pub at every street corner. Walking around here feels unreal, like being a character in a film or a book. At least the traffic is the same as back home, driving on the left, which is lucky – if they'd gone to some other part of Europe, Misaki would have been run over at his first attempt to cross a street.

It's all very exciting and exhausting and fun, and it's not until they return to the hotel in the evening that Misaki remembers. "Usagi-san! Tomorrow's your birthday."

Usagi glances at him sideways. "Hmm, yes." He presses the elevator button for their floor and the doors close with a sigh. "Aikawa wanted to arrange a huge party and invite all kinds of people I don't want to talk to, so I thought we'd better leave the country. And you wanted to go to England, after all."

Misaki looks down at his feet, feeling guilty as always when Usagi has done something nice for him and he has failed to notice or been ungrateful about it. This happens far too often for comfort, and this time Misaki has rewarded Usagi by nearly forgetting his birthday. He needs to think of a really good present now.

Usagi always comes up with unexpected things for Misaki's own birthday – occasionally weird, mostly wonderful, always on the extravagant side. It makes Misaki feel at a disadvantage. He doesn't have Usagi's imagination and certainly not his financial resources, but it's true that Usagi has seemed pleased with his presents. Misaki usually tries to come up with ordinary things that ordinary people would give and receive for birthdays, but he's not sure whether this in itself is what Usagi appreciates, or the actual things, or the fact that Misaki takes the trouble at all. Either way it makes Misaki feel childish, like a five-year-old proudly handing over a stick-figure drawing.

After a few minutes of agony, he decides to simply ask.

"So what would you like for your birthday, Usagi-san?"

They close the door to their room behind them and Usagi lights another cigarette (he really needs to stop smoking). After squinting at Misaki through a haze of smoke for what feels like several minutes, Usagi finally says: "I want to be touched."

A small, hiccough-like kind of noise escapes Misaki; he can't help it. Why can't Usagi just ask for a thing, something clear and simple, unambiguous and easily obtained? (Easy: because Usagi is Usagi.)

But something stops Misaki from making jokes or protesting. There's a hurt look in Usagi's eyes that makes Misaki's heart do strange things, sort of somersaulting in his chest. He wishes Usagi would put his cigarette out so they could see each other clearly.

There's a long, awkward pause before Usagi says quietly: "I want you to touch me like you mean it."

There's such a deep sadness in his voice that Misaki's heart, already doing those somersaulty things, wants to break. He can't pretend not to understand. He's taken the easy way out with Usagi, always – it's so easy being the one saying no, the one protesting, the one handing over initiative and responsibility... and Misaki is always doing it, always hiding behind his pretended reluctance.

Perhaps it's because they're in a new setting or because they haven't tried out their too-soft bed properly yet, but suddenly there's a powerful image flashing through Misaki's mind – Usagi stretched out on the bed, naked, waiting to be ravished by Misaki's eyes and hands and mouth and… oh god. A shudder of excitement runs through him, making him draw a breath and close his eyes… and when he opens them again he winces at the look on Usagi's face. Misaki just can't stand him looking like that.

He gulps. He wants to do it, but what if he isn't any good? What if Usagi doesn't enjoy it? But Usagi has made his wish, and after all it's only fair...

"Touch you like I mean it?" Misaki echoes, his voice shaky and small.

Usagi stubs out his cigarette and sighs. "I mean something completely different from your usual reluctant touch," he says without looking up. "You're fine with me touching you, even though you sometimes pretend not to be even now, even after three years. But when you touch me, it's like you do it against your will." Suddenly his face is naked with pain, a pain resounding deep inside Misaki. "Misaki, do you really not want to touch me? Am I repulsive to you?"

Misaki feels himself blanche. Repulsive – Usagi-san? How can he even think so? The truth is Misaki finds him beautiful, with that smirking mouth that can sometimes look so sad, like now; the intensely blue eyes, the long legs and sensitive hands…

I've been selfish and unkind, he thinks desperately. I've been so caught up in my own embarrassment I haven't realised that I… that Usagi-san... that he...

Appalled and ashamed, he can't finish the thought. Without realising, and without meaning to, he has hurt Usagi deeply. It's so easy to think that nothing ever really bothers Usagi or touches him to the core – he always seems so confident, always taking charge. But he is hurt; Misaki sees it clearly in his face, and it feels like his insides are crumbling with guilt. Even if Usagi generally enjoys being in control, he has the right to be desired, to know that Misaki wants him – because he does. It crushes him that Usagi had to ask for it.

A little breathlessly, he says: "Consider your birthday wish granted, Usagi-san."

XXX

Their internal clocks wake them up at some ungodly hour and they just lie for a while listening to the sounds of the city. Traffic, sirens, footsteps, someone shouting, a distant bell chiming the hour... Dawn is creeping in around the edges of the drawn curtains, outlining the furniture and allowing Misaki to see Usagi's face, just.

Misaki is properly awake now and his palms are damp. Touch me like you mean it. It's really going to happen, and it's going to happen now. Heart pounding in his chest, he props himself up on an elbow, leaning over to kiss Usagi's sleep-soft mouth.

"Happy birthday," he whispers, his hand easing down the covers.

Usagi doesn't reply but there's an intake of breath and his eyes widen, like he's forgotten that this is his birthday and he's had a promise from Misaki.

It's only because the light is still faint that Misaki can bring himself to say things, to utter words: "I want something in return from you."

"What?" Usagi asks immediately, and he sounds a little choked.

"Please... don't hold back. You're always so in control, but I want to see you lose it. Just… just give yourself up to me." Misaki's face and ears are burning but he does mean what he says, and to his own embarrassment he is turned on by the mere thought.

Usagi stares at him incredulously. "Misaki… you have no idea how happy I'll be to comply."

Misaki decides that he wants to touch every millimetre of Usagi's skin, with lips or fingers or some other part of himself, and he begins with the face, running his fingertips along the hairline and pushing the long fringe to the side. When he leans down to kiss Usagi's forehead the other man's eyes close as if to shut out everything else and just feel.

Misaki lets his lips touch eyelids, cheek, nose, mouth, chin, ears, neck, while his hands roam over shoulders and chest. Usagi's skin is lovely, smooth and warm, and Misaki works his way down slowly, flicking his tongue over a nipple and savouring the answering gasp, sliding his lips down Usagi's abdomen and noticing the full erection but making an evasive manoeuvre for now – the best should, after all, be left for last. Instead, he runs his tongue along the ridge of the hipbone while easing his hand down a thigh, listening to the quickening breath above him and and trying to keep his own erection from poking at Usagi's leg. He's ridiculously turned on, far more than he ever thought he would be, wondering why he has never understood before that giving pleasure can be even more enjoyable than receiving it.

Feet have always seemed like ugly, ridiculous-looking things to Misaki, but Usagi has pretty feet, long and slender and well-shaped just like his hands, and to Misaki's surprise it doesn't feel silly or strange at all kissing someone's feet, or even running his tongue along the arch of one foot.

Usagi actually moans at this, deep in his throat, and the sound sends a surge of heat through Misaki. "Turn on your stomach," he orders Usagi in a whisper and Usagi complies, although he does have some trouble lying on his stomach despite the softness of the bed.

Misaki runs his hands slowly up the back of Usagi's calves and thighs, letting his body follow, wanting skin against skin. When he reaches the buttocks and lightly bites one of them, Usagi laughs and groans and calls him a torturer, his fingers digging into the pillow. Misaki inches up until he is on top of Usagi, licking the back of his neck, chest pressed against Usagi's shoulder blades, and he can't stop himself from grinding down, oh the sweet sweet friction..

"Turn around," he mumbles as the other man moans. "Turn around. I want to kiss you."

Usagi makes a sound at the back of his throat and the kiss is deep and desperate, showing clearly that neither of them wants to wait any longer. Usagi clutches at Misaki's hips and Misaki smiles against his mouth, pleased with his success.

"Wait," he whispers and slides down Usagi's body again, stopping halfway. He can smell Usagi's arousal and his mouth goes all wet, his fingers rubbing small circles over the silken skin on the inside of Usagi's thigh. It's still only because of the semi-darkness in the room that he can say and do these things, he thinks as he throws one of Usagi's own questions back at him: "Mouth or fingers?"

Usagi has raised his head from the pillow and is staring at him, like he doesn't want to let him out of his sight. "God," he says, "both," and Misaki nearly laughs because it's so like Usami Akihiko to want it all, to want everything.

"Good," he mumbles and closes his hand around Usagi's cock, lifting it from his stomach to slide the head into his mouth and run his tongue around it before taking it in as deep as he can.

If he's been worried that Usagi won't enjoy it, the moans dispel every doubt. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Usagi's fingers bunch up the bedsheet, but he can't allow him to come, not yet. Misaki pulls away, provoking a small sound of distress, and repositions himself with a knee on either side of Usagi's waist, easing himself down on his cock, slowly, slowly, until he's all the way down. Then he stops and holds still, catching his breath and trying to relax, meeting Usagi's eyes. They're both panting and shimmering with sweat, Usagi biting his lip and practically trembling with the effort too keep still. Misaki begins to move, slowly at first but then faster, more secure; riding Usagi and listening to their moans mingling until Usagi's eyes close and his head begins to move restlessly on the pillow, his body going tense. They come at the same time, hard, wet, and when the shock waves have passed Misaki leans down to kiss Usagi's slack mouth.

XXX

The sunlight is slanting across the square as Misaki leans against the parapet, looking at the fountains and the impressive column, at children patting bronze lions, at people taking photos and feeding pigeons.

"What's the name of this place again?" he asks Usagi, but he won't even try to repeat the answer. Trafalgar Square is too much of a mouthful and he'd twist his tongue trying.

He glances at Usagi who is looking miraculously rested and relaxed and also very happy, complacently smoking and watching the jets of water splash and play. The sun lights little sparks in his hair and when he turns to Misaki and smiles, Misaki's heart makes one of those weird somersault things again.

I love you, he thinks, dazed. I really do love you.

He remembers his resolution to stop hurting Usagi by being too embarrassed to express his thoughts, so he holds Usagi's gaze and mouths the words at him, then does it again to the thumping of his heart. The faint pink tinge on Usagi's cheeks could be from emotion or merely from the sun, but either way this has to be one of the happiest moments of Misaki's life.

Gay go up and gay go down
To ring the bells of London Town
Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clements
Bullseyes and targets, say the bells of St. Margaret's
Brickbats and tiles, say the bells of St. Giles
Halfpence and farthings, say the bells of St. Martin's
...