The question hung in the air between them. The atmosphere was thick enough that Genma felt like a web of chakra had been wrapped tightly around him. The only sound that broke the silence was Hayate's occasional soft coughs as he stared up at Genma, black rimmed eyes wide with his surprise. As the silence dragged on, Genma slipped down off the wall he'd perched himself on to wait for his friend. Leaning back against the wall, Genma grinned around the senbon between his teeth and lifted both eyebrows enquiringly at Hayate, his calm exterior giving away none of the panic and uncertainty that was growing larger with each heartbeat that Hayate didn't answer.

"If you're trying to come up with a way to let me down easily, don't worry about it. You can just say no and I'll accept it. Nothing needs to change between us," Genma offered eventually, trying to lure some kind of response from the other ninja.

"Oh! But, I don't want to say no," Hayate insisted, then fell silent, his gaze sliding away from Genma for the first time.

Grinning wider now as relief flooded him, Genma reached out and tugged at one of Hayate's sleeves, drawing the younger man's attention back to him. "Then say 'yes.' Unless of course what you meant was that you wanted to say 'Hell no!' rather than just a simple no. Is that it?"

Hayate finally grinned back, relaxing slightly even as he coughed into a lightly curled fist. "You know very well that's not it. Yes, Genma, I'd be delighted to go out with you." After a pause to cough again, Hayate peered up at Genma seriously. "Why now?"

"What do you mean?" Genma asked, barely thinking about the question as he rejoiced silently over the acceptance.

"I've always been attracted to you, and I figured you knew that. You never seemed interested in me, however. What changed?"

Genma drew himself from his internal celebration and looked seriously at the younger man, pushing himself away from the wall and settling his hands on Hayate's shoulders. "Because you've always been the one that was there for me. You saw me through every single bad choice and worse relationship. You were my best friend, and so much more. I don't know what made me realize what a fool I'd been, but I saw you one afternoon last week and my heart skipped a beat. I knew then that I wanted to be more then just your friend. Everything I looked for in all those bad relationships, I realized I have had with you all along."

"Are you sure about this, Genma?" Hayate asked uncertainly. "You do have a tendency to fall in and out of love pretty fast."

"I know that," Genma sighed, pulling his hands from the smaller man's shoulders and letting them fall to his sides as he chewed thoughtfully on his senbon. "To be honest, I already thought of that myself. That's part of the reason I haven't asked you out before now. I wanted to be sure this wasn't just another of my infatuations that was doomed to be another mistake. I don't want to risk our friendship over something like that."

"What was the rest of the reason then?"

Genma grinned, not at all surprised that Hayate dove straight to the heart of the matter. "Because I was nervous. Yes, I know, it's shocking to hear, but it's true. I, Genma Shiranui, Jounin extraordinaire, was as nervous as a teenaged boy, hoping for his first date. That's why I know this isn't just one of my infatuations. I've never felt like this for anyone else. Not since... well, you know."

Hayate looked away for a moment, collecting his thoughts and coughing. Genma remained silent, letting the other man take the time he needed. When he looked back at him, Genma smiled and lifted his hands to place on Hayate's shoulders once more. "Because when I look into your eyes I see forever. You are my forever. I know that now."

"Are you playing with me, Genma? If this is a joke, it's a very bad one and I will never forgive you."

"Have you ever known me to play with someone's feelings like that? No, I'm not messing with your head, I mean everything I'm saying. Now, will you go out with me tonight, or not?"

Smiling slowly and making Genma's heart leap up in his chest and thud hard against his ribs, Hayate nodded, pausing to cough before he replied. "Yes, I will. You don't know how long I've wanted to hear you ask me that."

"I'm sorry it took me so long to come to my senses and finally see what was right in front of me this whole time." Genma lifted a hand, placing it lightly on Hayate's cheek as a giddy sensation washed over him. "I feel like I should thank you for your patience."

Hayate lifted a hand, placing it on the back of Genma's, holding it against his cheek as he shook his head. "No, you don't need to thank me for anything. I think I should be thanking you for finally giving me what I've wanted since we met."

Smiling, Genma shook his head. "Just agreeing to go out with me is thanks enough. Although, if you feel the need to further express your gratitude, feel free to spend the night as well."

"Very funny, Mr. Shiranui," Hayate replied dryly before succumbing to another bout of coughing.

"Where would you like to go?" Genma asked when the coughing had subsided.

Hayate looked up at Genma smiling, his pale face lighting up with pleasure. "Anywhere is fine with me. I probably won't notice anything but you all night."

"Oh, well then we can just go back to my place. Why take you out somewhere and try to impress you if you're not even going to be impressed?"

Hayate grinned and shook his head. "Nice try. Think a little harder. You come up with something and meet me in front of the Hokage's mansion at about six, I should be finished by then."

"Finished?" Genma asked curiously, then remembering, he smiled and nodded. "Ah, that's right. The Chunin Exams are soon aren't they? I guess I picked the right time to ask you out then. You're going to be busy for a while once the Exams get started. It's insane the amount of paperwork those exams require. Alright, I'll see you at six then. Be prepared to be impressed!"

Hayate grinned and nodded as he dropped his hand, letting Genma pull his own hand away. "I'll do that indeed. Have a good afternoon, Genma."

Genma turned and watched Hayate move through the crowd, not moving until the younger man was lost to distance and the intervening crowd. Turning around, Genma headed off on the other direction, smiling. "First date... my first date with Hayate. This is a very good day, so tonight needs to be perfect."

~*~*~

Hayate was standing in front of the Hokage's mansion when Genma arrived shortly before six. The relief Genma saw in the younger man's eyes made him feel a little guilty. If there was anyone in the village that knew him well, it was Hayate. That knowledge could prove detrimental. Hayate would be left wondering if every bad thing he'd witnessed Genma do to other men time and again would be in turn done to himself as well. Smiling around his ever present senbon, Genma stopped in front of Hayate, hoping to soothe his worries.

"You're early," Hayate observed quietly before coughing.

"I suppose I am. I guess I was just excited, couldn't wait to see you again."

The smile this earned him set Genma's heart at ease. "I don't think you've ever been early for anything in your life."

Grinning, Genma shrugged his shoulders and looped an arm around Hayate's shoulders, leading the younger man away from the mansion. "Well, at least I'm not always late like Kakashi."

"There is that," Hayate laughed between coughs.

They walked in silence for several minutes, both dealing with the nervous excitement that had grown between them since that morning. Coming to a stop and turning to face Hayate, Genma shoved a hand in his pocket and grinned around the senbon, trying not to laugh when Hayate started looking more nervous. "So, in spite of all the really stupid mistakes you've seen me make in relationships over the years, do you trust me?"

"Well, I did before you asked that question," Hayate replied suspiciously.

Having expected precisely this reply, Genma chuckled and nodded. "Do you trust me completely?"

"Yes," Hayate said slowly, then stopped to cough into a hand once more. "Why? What are you up to?"

Genma pulled his hand from his pocket, letting the cloth he had pulled out unroll itself and dangle before Hayate. "Do you trust me enough to let me blindfold you and lead you blind through the village?"

"Only if you tell me why first."

"Because I want our first date to be as special as it can be. I want it to be a surprise."

Hayate smiled again and nodded his head slightly. "When you put it that way, how can I say no?"

"Well, I was hoping you couldn't," Genma replied with a light chuckle has he tied the blindfold over Hayate's dark-rimmed eyes.

When Genma stepped back, Hayate lifted a hand and rubbed his fingertips over the soft cloth, then turned his head in Genma's direction and held out a hand as he spoke. "I am at your mercy. Please be gentle."

Genma examined Hayate for a few moments, then took the younger man's hand and pulled him slowly closer, wrapping his free arm around his shoulders once more. He turned them and started walking slowly, letting Hayate adjust to being led before he replied. "I will always be gentle with you, Hayate," he murmured.

They moved in silence through the village. Genma ignored the strange looks they got from people, and more pointedly ignored the looks he got from friends. He knew that he was going to be teased the next day, and he didn't care. The chance to have the perfect first date with the man he now knew he was in love with, made any needling he would receive from his friends and fellow ninjas well worth it in his estimation. When they arrived at their destination, Genma stepped behind Hayate and untied the blindfold, lowering it slowly and waiting for Hayate's reaction. The soft gasp from Hayate told Genma of the level of his date's approval.

An intimate picnic had been laid out by Genma under a Sakura tree in full bloom. Soft petals rained down over the cloth and food from time to time when the breeze picked up. Having thought of everything, Genma had set a friend to guard the area until he could return with his date. Glancing to the left, Genma spotted the man and grinned, nodded his head, then looked away just before the man vanished.

"I'm glad you like it."

"I don't think I've ever been on a first date like this before." Turning slowly, Hayate looked up at Genma smiling, his dark eyes lightening with pleasure. "You can stop worrying now, you have appropriately impressed your date. This is perfect. I couldn't have asked for anything better than this."

"I guess I know you a little better than you thought," Genma teased lightly.

Hayate laughed, then coughed as he moved over to sit at the edge of the blanket, waiting for Genma to join him before he replied. "You had help coming up with this, I bet."

Genma grinned and shrugged his shoulders as he pulled the needle from between his teeth with one hand, the other reaching for the onigiri. "With the food. I wasn't sure what food was right for a picnic. I know what you like, but I wasn't sure which would be appropriate for a picnic, so I asked Kurenai about it. I told her what I had planned and gave her a list of what you like to eat. She told me to bring onigiri, agemono and nishime."

"I knew there had to be a woman's hand in this somewhere," Hayate commented as he reached for a rice ball himself.

Both men ate in silence for several minutes, enjoying the beauty of their surroundings as well as the company. Though Genma had feared that any silence between the two would be awkward as they adjusted to the new status of their relationship with one another, he was delighted to find this wasn't the case. They made small talk as they ate, talking of nothing of any real importance, but the long silences between words bothered neither of the men. By the time they'd finished their meal, they've moved closer to one another, Hayate leaning in against Genma's side. Genma took a few moments to pack up the remnants of their picnic, then slid his arm around Hayate's shoulders once more.

"So, since our first date has been a nearly complete success, dare I ask for a second? Or have you come to your senses now?"

"You may ask, and I will accept if you do. But, what do you mean 'nearly' a complete success? What could possibly be missing?"

Genma grinned and turned, leaning down, closer to Hayate. "The first date is never complete without the first kiss."

Hayate grinned, color rising in his usually pale cheeks. "Yes, that's true I suppose. But shouldn't you walk me home before that first kiss?"

"Why wait when I have you here now?" Genma asked quietly.

"Why indeed," Hayate whispered softly in reply as he leaned closer, closing that distance as his eyes closed.

Genma pressed his lips to Hayate's, kissing him chastely at first, hesitant and unsure until he felt the younger man respond to his kiss, leaning closer. Wrapping his arms around Hayate, Genma drew the smaller man closer, kissing him with all the passion he felt the other man deserved. As their lips moved against one another, Genma thought for the first time in his life that first dates weren't such a hassle. It wasn't until they drew back from the kiss, looking tenderly at one another that he realized the reason he'd always hated first dates was because he'd never loved any of the men on those dates the way he loved Hayate. It's not a real first date until you find your first love.


AN: This was written for a contest on the GenmaXHayate club on y!Gallery. The theme was "Firsts" and I chose to write about Genma and Hayate's First Date. With a little First Kiss and First (true) Love thrown in for spice. ;) The story isn't as good I as I would have liked, but sadly I forgot about the contest until a reminder was posted last week and I had to scramble to write this at the last minute to get it in before the deadline. (Posted the day it was due. I barely made it.) So, I hope you like this sweet little bit of fluff. These guys need more love, I think.

Oh, also, I did research on Japanese picnic foods and found the perfect source for info! I read up about the Hanami. (Cherry Blossom Festival) It was perfect since I'd decided to place Genma and Hayate's first date under a Sakura tree. ;)