Shibuya leans over and kisses him on the mouth.

Perhaps it would have been more romantic to say "the lips", or something more flowery, like "the petal-soft lips", but really, it's on the mouth. And their lips are kind of chapped. And they're not very good at this romance business anyway, since they still refer to each other by their surnames.

Half-parted to speak, they press together and are still. They breathe; the air tastes mildly sweet like a sports drink. Maybe for Shibuya, whose hands are gripping his wrists, pressing him against the wall, it tastes like the can of coffee he's still holding onto. The kiss is not the best he's ever had, nor the worst. It's not the first, but it's the first in this new relationship. He idly thinks that it might be Shibuya's first, but then he remembers what Shinou did while in Lord von Bielefelt's body.

When they pull apart, eyes fluttering open, Murata smiles mischievously and says, "You can't kiss your way out of this. We're still going to see the dolphins."

"I hate dolphins."

"Well I like dolphins. And I thought you liked Bandou-kun well enough."

"I only like him when he's a keychain or a plushie."

Murata snickers at that and grabs his boyfriend's hand, pulling him out of the secluded corner and back into the more well-trafficked areas of the aquarium. They follow the signs toward the dolphin show, keeping their fingers twined. Shibuya blushes uncontrollably.

With their faces lit by the eerie blue glow of phosphorescent jellyfish, he turns his head to the side to ask, "Hey, do you remember the first time we came here?"

Shibuya gives him a disbelieving look, as if to say, "Well, duh. I fell into the dolphin pool. It was rather traumatic." Then he actually says almost those exact words, which makes Murata smile again.

"Mmmhmm, but before that, you were complaining that this was a place for a date, not for guys to hang out."

"And I still stand by that! You totally owe me for this, you know. Next week, we're going to see the Lions game..." he trails off to a pause. "Hey, Murata, was it true that you were stood up by a girl that time, or did you just ask me out so you could make sure I got sucked into Shin Makoku?"

"So suspicious!" he teases. "How will we ever build a relationship without trust?"

"Oh, I trust you for a lot of things, but I definitely don't trust you not to be sneaky."

He's flattered, actually, that Shibuya accepts this part of his personality - the mystery, and the depth accumulated over thousands of years. It's rare that he'll find someone who doesn't pressure him to share all of his secrets, assuming that he lets them discover his greatest secret of all. Even rarer still does he find someone who's more interested in his current incarnation than his past lives. "Murata is Murata," Shibuya had said with a shrug. And so, as a gag gift, he reveals one of his schemes.

"You're right, Shibuya. I planned that one, but it was sort of two plans in one. After all, I could have just taken you to see the soccer game at my school and then shoved you into a muddy puddle outside the field," he says, tilting his head in a way that he knows will make his glasses glint. "Instead, I took you here because I wanted us to go on a date. Basically, I tricked you into going out with me."

"You're horrible, Murata. Horrible."

"But you like me anyway."

"I must be crazy. Or stupid. Shori says I'm stupid to go out with you."

"Since when do you listen to your brother?"


"Right. Well, maybe you should take his words into consideration. He's just worried that I'll take advantage of you."

"Seriously? Physically speaking, you're one of the weakest guys I know."

"Wow. Thanks for the astounding compliments about my manly physique."

"You're welcome," Shibuya responds cheekily. They playfully elbow each other even as their hands are still clasped together.

"Anyway, I'm too old for you."

"We're the same age. Unless you're going by some other scale, which would make you too old for everybody."

"And furthermore, I could be using reverse psychology on you right now to make you more stubborn about dating me."

They're lined up now, surrounded on all sides by couples and families with screaming children. His last words are lost in the din.

Then, before Shibuya can ask him to repeat himself, they're being pushed along by the crowd into the bleachers, and as they find their seats, Shibuya frowns and mumbles something about dolphins being vicious, Satanic creatures with way too many teeth. Murata just smiles smugly as Shibuya grips his hand tighter whenever a dolphin opens its mouth. His glasses glint as Shibuya leans into him whenever the dolphins let out their shrill chatter. Of course his expression fades back to innocently neutral whenever Shibuya glances his way.

Rather than seeing a horror movie, this is a much better strategy for intimacy, he thinks. Murata is a terrible boyfriend to take advantage of someone's phobias like this, especially someone as nice as Shibuya. He's wholly unscrupulous to manipulate the situation to his advantage, but they both benefit this way, don't they?

He's currently plotting how to get another smooch before they go home, and how to make it seem like it was Shibuya's idea all along.

Murata's plans never fail.