hokay. last one. up to date on twewy fics. again, a livejournal request, though this one was for secret santa last year. the prompt was simply 'JoshNeku'. and i, of course, had to put my own spin on it :B

The Last Laugh

For what had to be the thousandth time in the past ten minutes, Neku cursed Mr. Hanekoma for being too damn clever for his own good. For Neku's own good, more like.

This afternoon—like so many afternoons—had found Neku at the WildKat Café, spilling his woes and troubles to his mentor over a cup of overpriced coffee. "I don't know how you've put up with him for so long! Always just showing up wherever and whenever he feels like. With that damned annoying giggle."

Mr. H had merely shrugged, trying to look sympathetic—betrayed by the amused twinkle behind his sunglasses. "You know as well as I do that he's not a bad kid. He's just a bit… lacking in social graces."

Neku had stared plaintively at the older man. "Yesterday he showed up when I was in the shower. And used my towel as a cushion to sit on the floor. I had to wrap myself in the shower curtain—and judging by his giggle, I'm pretty sure he got an eyeful."

The barista tried—and failed miserably—to hide a snort of amusement behind his coffee mug. "Okay. So he needs to work on his sense of personal boundaries. Can't argue with that. But I will tell you one thing, Phones." Mr. Hanekoma's grin didn't fade as he leaned over the counter in a conspiratorial manner. "If there's one thing Josh can't stand, it's a taste of his own medicine." And with that, he busied himself with the espresso machine.

And with that, the afternoon now found Neku trudging to the other side of Shibuya, cursing the artist for the one-thousand-and-oneth time in the past eleven minutes.

It was a ridiculous idea, but what was even more ridiculous was that Neku was currently passing through the Trail of the Sinner, straight towards the Dead God's Pad with every intention of carrying it out. Mr. Hanekoma was strange enough that Neku couldn't discount the possibility that the man simply got his jollies by putting Neku into awkward situations—but at this point he was willing to try anything.

Joshua had to have known he was coming. The Composer was simply too nonchalant—sitting on the couch, legs crossed, with a copy of Waiting For Godot, of all things, open in his hands. It was hardly the first time Neku had stomped down here—usually to bitch at Joshua for popping up and harassing him at school. The teenager in appearance only looked up with an expression of affected surprise. "Why Neku," he practically purred. "Fancy seeing you down here. Come to berate me some more?" Joshua looked as though the idea of Neku 'berating' him was far too welcome.

The second he had stepped inside, all traces of Neku's irritation had disappeared. The boy could be a fair actor if he felt like it. Cool as a cucumber in a freezer at the North Pole, Neku seated himself on the other end of the couch, kicked off his shoes, and threw his feet up onto Joshua's lap—knocking the book out of the other boy's hands. "Just thought I'd come pay you a visit. You must get awfully lonely down here." Since Kariya had been grudgingly promoted to Conductor after Kitaniji's demise, the position had become a much more hands-on role. Nothing could keep the bean paste loving Reaper off the streets of his city.

Joshua looked at Neku's feet with the same expression someone might give a strange child who had suddenly crawled up into their lap—confused, surprised, and unsure of how to handle the situation. Neku decided he could get used to that look on the usually pompous ass' face. He knew it was wishful thinking that Josh would pick up and run at that point, but he couldn't help but feel disappointed when Joshua smirked and began rubbing his socked feet. Again, the idea that Mr. H was watching and laughing at him nibbled at his thoughts.

"And here I was thinking you'd decided to start yelling at me before I did anything." Joshua's pale fingers lightly tickled the bottom of his foot through the sock. "Maybe I don't give you enough credit, Neku."

Despite himself, Neku squirmed at the tickling. He brought his free foot up and used it to turn Joshua's face toward him. "No tickling." He felt a surge of triumph when Joshua momentarily grimaced at having Neku's sweaty sock touching his face.

But it was quickly replaced by that damn smile—somehow coy and predatory at the same time—and Joshua retaliated by grabbing the offending foot and tickling again. "You mean this, Neku?"

When telling this story, Neku would protest to his dying day that the noise he made was not a squeal, but a manly yelp—without fooling anyone. He squirmed and kicked, and before he knew what he was doing, he had pinned Joshua to the couch, both of them panting lightly from the short wrestling match.

This time the purple eyes looked up at him with not mild, but full-blown surprise. Part of Neku yelled that he'd won and enough was enough, but at the same time another part reminded him that Joshua was much better and more experienced at this game.

Before Joshua could recover and turn the tables on him, Neku leaned down and kissed him—hard and full on the mouth. He took advantage of Josh's unresponsive lips and open-mouthed shock to force his tongue in.

Neku was far from an experienced kisser, but it only took a few moments for Joshua's shock to wear off and to roughly shove the living boy off of him and onto the floor. The Composer, looking more frazzled and discombobulated than Neku thought possible, quickly scrambled to his feet and attempted to smooth his hair. He pulled out his phone and without even properly looking at it first, said, "Oh look at that, Kariya's texting me. Got to run, busy busy."

And as fast as the words came tumbling out of his mouth, Joshua scampered out the door even faster.

Completely unable to keep the shit-eating grin off of his face, Neku slowly pulled himself back up onto the couch and stretched out, his hands behind his head in a satisfied manner. On his mental scoreboard, he put a tally on the Home side.

Then it occurred to him that Mr. Hanekoma probably was watching—but Neku wasn't the one he was laughing at.