Disclaimer: Junjo Romantica is a creation of Nakamura Shinguki, and therefore doesn't belong to me at all. I'm just playing in the sandbox.
Notes: Not much to say, other than the fact I'm not sure I got the whole honorifics/names thing correct for those who don't know each other in the manga. Any and all reviews are much loved, and warm the cockles of my fangirlish heart.
"It's awfully cold for March, isn't it?"
Akihiko turned to look at Misaki, who was shivering despite the long coat he was bundling himself in. For a minute, he considered wrapping his arms around Misaki and pulling him close, but then thought better of it.
"The weatherman said it was going to snow tonight," he said, and rubbed his own gloved fingers together in an attempt to warm them up. It didn't matter; they always felt cold.
Misaki shrugged. "I haven't been paying attention much; finals has been keeping me busy."
Akihiko could think of nothing to say to keep the conversation going, so he faced forward and watched the streetlamps start to flicker on in Takahiro's neighborhood, offering outpourings of light against the backdrop of the late winter dusk. They would have gotten here earlier, but the Ferrari had refused to start. A failed attempt to use a set of jumper cables and a call to a mechanic later, they'd found out the car had to spend a night in the shop. He had called Takahiro, but his friend had insisted the two of them make it as soon as they could, however late that might be.
"Usagi-san, we need to make a right."
"Ah, yes. His house is the first house on the left after the turn, correct?" He'd been here before, of course, but things looked so different in his car, and usually wasn't worried about Misaki freezing to death.
"Yep," Misaki said as they rounded the corner. He paused for a moment. "Is it just me, or is there a lot of noise coming from Niisan's house?"
"I don't know, but keeping walking, I'm cold," Akihiko said, adding mentally and so are you.
"Yeah, yeah," Misaki muttered as they walked up the driveway to Takahiro's house.
"It does sound a bit loud in there," Akihiko remarked as he rung the doorbell. A hush ascended over the house, causing a sudden chill to run up his spine. The door creaked open to reveal... Takahiro armed with confetti and a huge grin.
"Surprise!" Takahiro said, releasing the confetti. "Congratulations, Misaki!"
"Niisan, what are you doing?" Misaki said, his voice increasing in pitch. He had a strong blush on his cheeks.
"For completing your degree, I'm throwing you a party!" his brother replied, smiling with enthusiasm.
"Niisan, you didn't have to-" Misaki babbled, but Akihiko interrupted him.
"How long have you been planning this?"
"Ah, just a while - come on in, you're letting the heat out!" He ushered them through the entryway and into the living room, where there were six people or so sitting in various chairs.
"Niisan... why is my literature professor from first term here?" Misaki had spotted Hiroki, who for some reason, was in a corner, trying to hide his giant of a boyfriend from view (which, considering they were a good twenty centimeters apart in height, was a hilariously futile effort). It seemed as though he'd prefer not to be there, and Akihiko wondered why he'd come at all.
"Ah, Misaki, you know Hiroki-kun?" Takahiro said. "He's a good friend of Usagi's - I thought I'd invite him for his sake."
It wasn't a very good idea - putting Hiroki in anything of a party situation was bound to be a failure, unless their was copious amounts of alcohol involved - but he thanked Takahiro for inviting his friend anyway, which caused Hiroki to shot a glare in his direction. Also, that Goliath-boyfriend of his was glaring at him as well - what was with him, anyway?
Misaki was looking at Akihiko as though he wasn't too happy about the fact he'd never been told that he knew his literature professor from hell and never told him, but a high-pitched voice sounded out before he could say anything. "Usami-sensei! Misaki-kun!" His nightmare of an editor was waving at them from one of the nicer chairs in the house, a wineglass in hand. Okay, maybe Hiroki might be able to have a good time. Akihiko was surprised he wasn't drunk already.
"Aikawa-san! Why are you here?" Misaki exclaimed. "Did Usagi-san forget a deadline again?"
"No, no, the next deadline is next week," Aikawa said, then glared at Akihiko with a look that clearly meant if his manuscript wasn't ready next week, she'd be over there with a serrated dagger and a gleam in her eye, and to hell with the consequences. "I came here for you, Misaki-kun! I even bought you cream puffs!" She gestured wildly to the dining room, where there was a box of cream puffs already half-eaten.
"Uh, that's great, Aikawa-san," Misaki said, and then spotted three people on the living room couch, their backs to him. He walked over to them. "Hi, Neesan!"
"Uncle Misaki!" Akihiko heard, and the sound of a small child latching onto an adult. Misaki greeted his nephew with his typical enthusiasm, and then noticed the third person sitting there.
"Toudou!" he cried out, clearly relieved to see a guest he actually wanted to be there.
"You have some weird friends," Toudou remarked.
"They're not exactly my friends," he heard Misaki mumble, and then engaged his friend in some inane conversation. Akihiko, annoyed, decided to see how much material he could get from Hiroki. After all, his next manuscript due was a Junai Egoist one.
"You're living with Takahiro's brother," Hiroki said before he could even get a word in.
"Yes, for four years now," Akihiko remarked, watching Hiroki's glare intensify, along with his boyfriend's. They both needed alcohol.
"And you never saw fit to mention it to me?" Hiroki said, gritting his teeth.
Akihiko blinked. "Well, how long have you been living with your... roommate?"
Hiroki flushed. "That's not important, and I told you that, anyway!"
"Only when you're drunk," Akihiko said, musing to himself that egging on Hiroki shouldn't be as amusing as it is. "The other times you barely mention him all."
"Really?" Hiroki's boyfriend said, clearly upset, and starting to pout. He resembled a hurt puppy. "Why don't you ever mention me, Hiro-san?"
Hiroki was clearly very flustered. "I do to! And where's that wine!" Ah, they were getting to the good part. Excellent. He'd have enough new material before the night was through. (He probably should find somewhere private when it came to the juicy stuff, though. It was only polite, after all.)
"Hiro-san, I said no drinking 'till later!"
"It is later!" Hiroki argued. Akihiko noted he had no potential projectiles near him, and figured the house was safe. For now. "Why can't I have -"
"Kusama-sensei!" A small voice cried from nowhere, and Takahiro's kid leeched onto Hiroki's boyfriend, clearly enamored with him. "Play!"
"Now, now, Mahiro," Manami said, coming over, Misaki and Toudou following behind her, "leave the man alone, he's talking to someone."
"It's okay," he said, "I can handle him for a few minutes. Hiroki's boyfriend crouched down to the kid's eye-level and then engaged him in some childish game that involved moving the fingers into different shapes of sorts.
"You're so good with kids, Kusama-sensei, it's amazing you don't have some of your own already!" Takahiro remarked, walking up to where they stood. Hiroki blanched and his boyfriend just laughed nervously. "We'll you're still young, plenty of time for you to find a nice girl to settle down with." Takahiro meant well, really, but he didn't realize his words were actually quite hurtful. "Certainly more time than Usagi and Hiroki-kun, here!" Akihiko sighed, tempted to get a glass of wine for both him and Hiroki. "Especially you, Usagi - I always figured you would marry early!" Hiroki started coughing heavily, and Akihiko considered shooting him a glare, but really, he'd dealt with Takahiro's friendly advice enough times before to handle it himself. Hiroki wasn't as use to it. And neither, for that matter, was Misaki, who actually looked slightly terrified. And nervous. And... angry. Weird.
"Really?" Akihiko said, keeping his tone as dull as possible, hoping Takahiro would get the hint and change the topic. It didn't work.
Takahiro leaned in closer to him, but talked a bit louder than he probably meant to. He wondered if Takahiro had drunken a bit of wine himself. The man was the very definition of a lightweight when it came to alcohol. "And considering you have a gorgeous redhead coming to your apartment so often, I'm amazed you haven't-"
"Niisan! Stop bothering Usagi-san! He can do whatever he wants to!" Misaki cried out, interrupting his brother. Every adult male in the room stared at him (Aikawa was busying herself in the kitchen, or somewhere else, anyway), and Misaki blushed in response.
"Usagi-san?" Hiroki muttered, as though he was figuring something out, which surprised Akihiko; he'd thought Hiroki would know the minute he'd found he had been living with him for four years.
"You know what I think?" Manami said, breaking the awkward tension. "I think it's time for cake!"
"Cake!" Mahiro said, clearly in agreement, and the nervous air in the room dissipated.
"There's cake?" Misaki said, and Takahiro nodded.
"Yep, chocolate fudge cake! With strawberries!" Misaki blanched at the word strawberries, but smiled anyway.
"Let's eat, then!" Misaki said, walking towards the kitchen.
"Cake!" Mahiro called out again as they all headed towards the kitchen. The kid clearly had a one track mind.
Two hours later, and all the cake was gone and Mahiro was falling asleep on Manami's lap. All the adults had at least tasted the wine (and beer that Takahiro had in the fridge). The party seemed to be winding down. Manami went to put Mahiro to sleep when Takahiro suddenly looked as if a lightbulb had gone off above his head.
"Oh, Misaki, I have a graduation present for you," Takahiro said. He went over the desk to fish out something from the top drawer.
"Niisan, you shouldn't have," Misaki said, and bit back a giggle. He was bit a less of a lightweight than his brother, but not by much.
"Nonsense! You deserve all the presents in the world," Takahiro said, and Akihiko nodded in agreement. "Anyway, it's not wrapped, but I'm giving it to you anyway - congratulations." With that, Takahiro handed Misaki a key.
Misaki blinked, clearly confused. "Niisan, what is this?"
"That," Takahiro said, dramatically, "is your key to your apartment." Misaki stared at his brother in horror, but Takahiro just continued on. "It's paid for two months of rent - don't worry, I can more than afford it! It's right next to Marukawa Publishing, too. So much closer than Usagi's apartment."
Misaki swallowed nervously and looked his brother in the eye. Akihiko felt his stomach flip. "Niisan, I can't accept this."
"Don't be silly, Misaki, you can't stay with Akihiko forever - you're a growing man! You don't want to impose! What about when you get a girlfriend?"
Misaki swallowed again, but his voice was surprisingly steady. "That's not going to happen."
"Of course it will! Don't sell yourself short, you have a lot of great qualities, any girl would-"
"No, Niisan, you don't understand," Misaki interrupted him, his voice increasing in volume. "I-" Akihiko felt as though his heart might beat out of his chest, "Usagi-san and I-" he stopped, closing his eyes.
"Misaki?" Takahiro said, gently, looking at his brother with concern. "Why can't you move out of Usagi's apartment?"
"Because I don't want to," Misaki said, every fiber in his body looking as though it was focused on one point, one purpose, like a runner before a marathon. "Because - because of this." And with that, Misaki turned to Akihiko, grabbed the back of his head, and pulled it towards his own, crushing their lips together in a kiss.
It was light, and gentle - but somehow secure, as though Misaki knew this was what he wanted, wanted more than anything in the world, wanted it as much as Akihiko needed it to keep living as something other than an empty husk. Akihiko pressed his lips against Misaki in response, but didn't nudge his lover's mouth open - there was no need for that, now.
When they separated, Misaki looked at his brother, who was staring at him in shock, along with everyone else in the room, with the exception of - strangely - Hiroki's boyfriend, who was beaming, as though this was on his list of the top five greatest things that could happen, ever. Misaki didn't notice anyone else, though, just kept staring at his brother, waiting for a response. Finally, Takahiro spoke.
"Well, I guess that explains things," he said, faintly. "But... if that's what you want..." Takahiro closed his eyes, took a deep breath. "I guess it's okay." That was it - the tension was broken. Aikawa let out a giant squeal and appeared to have melted into a puddle of goo on the floor. Toudou asked why Misaki hadn't told him before, Hiroki didn't say anything, though it appeared his respect for Misaki had increased, and Manami didn't say anything, just smiled the entire time. Hiroki's boyfriend muttered something into Hiroki's ear, and he blushed, swatting him away, muttering, "another time".
All in all, it was a good party.
Sometime later they left, after all the other guests had taken their leave but early enough to catch a train back to their apartment. Takahiro tried to get them to stay over night, but Misaki had insisted they leave, saying he didn't want to give them more trouble than necessary (and really, Akihiko didn't think Takahiro was quite ready to have them staying in the only guest room at the same time).
Outside, the snow was falling in drifts, a flurry of white softly piling up on the ground. The snow was easy to walk through, like how Akihiko had imagined it would be walking through a cloud when he was a small child and thought the clouds were made of something light and airy, like goose feathers. He looked behind them; they were leaving light footprints, indents in the soft snow. He grabbed Misaki's hand, pulling him around to face him. Tiny snowflakes had settled onto Misaki's eyelashes, and for a moment he was jealous of their closeness.
"Usagi-san," Misaki whined, and went back to walking in the direction of the station, not letting go of his hand. For once, Akihiko's hand felt warm, and with it he pulled Misaki as he wished, towards a lamppost shimmering with yellow light.
"Misaki," he said, and kissed him, this time with tongue, and all he could feel was Misaki's warm breath and his slowly warming lips. He pushed his leg between Misaki's, and suddenly it was four years ago, and a first kiss under a streetlight.
Misaki moaned softly, as if he didn't want anyone else to hear, and Akihiko was back to the present, his lover molding against him, tentatively pushing his tongue against his own. Akihiko took control (he always did), and Misaki didn't have any complaints, instead gripping the back of the his coat (when had Misaki's arms wrapped around him?) and sinking deeper into the kiss.
When they parted, Misaki's lips were bright red, and not from the cold. His cheeks had a similar color to them, perhaps a shade lighter. His green eyes were wide and vivid, making his face a stunning display of complimentary color.
"Let's go home," Misaki said, and Akihiko had never agreed with him more.