"Simple Progress"

"Taka-san, one more order of wasabi sushi, please," Fuji said, holding up his empty plate.

Kawamura looked up from the table he had been cleaning and took the plate, going behind the counter and setting it by the sink. "Right, coming right up!"

He took a deep breath and picked up a handful of rice, rolling it into shape. He squeezed the tube of wasabi carefully, spreading an even layer across the rice before cutting a thin strip of maguro and pressing it onto the rice.

Fuji leaned forward to watch as he started on the second piece, so close that the glass counter began to fog slightly. Their eyes met and Kawamura jumped, accidentally squeezing the tube too hard, which caused it to sputter and spit out a thick glob of wasabi all over the side of the sushi. "I-I'm sorry, I'll remake it right away!" he said quickly, pushing the ruined rice away and reaching for a new handful.

"Don't worry about it, I like wasabi a lot," Fuji said equally quickly.

"No, I insist. It's the end of the day, so it would just go to waste, and I should make it correctly."

"Correct or not, any sushi that Taka-san makes can't be anything but delicious," Fuji said, his usual smile reappearing on his face.

"A…haha…" Kawamura rubbed the back of his head and picked up the knife. A moment later, it had fallen with a clatter onto the floor and there were ten slices of maguro sitting in front of him.

Fuji was laughing. "All right, let's see this 'perfect sushi' of yours, 'baby.'"

Kawamura blinked rapidly and ducked down to retrieve the knife and hide his blush. He picked it up carefully by the blade and set it by the sink, then turned back to the counter. He set the maguro carefully on the rice and hesitated for a second before rolling out another one. He set the three pieces onto a plate and set it in front of Fuji.

Fuji looked down at it. "Is this… really okay?" he asked, gesturing at the third piece.

"Of course," Kawamura said. "It's service. You are one of our best customers after all."

"Really? Thank you, Taka-san," Fuji said, and picked up a piece, examining it for a second before dipping it into the soy sauce and popping it into his mouth. "Mmmmm," he said appreciatively, leaning back on his stool.

Kawamura's stomach twinged slightly and he began combining the last of the rice with the maguro he had cut. He hadn't eaten yet, after all. He picked up a finished piece. "Is it okay if I…?"

Fuji had his eyes closed and was chewing slowly, a blissful expression on his face. Kawamura decided that he wouldn't mind if he had just one and put the sushi into his mouth, enjoying the slick texture of the maguro coupled with the dry spiciness of the wasabi. Maybe he was starting to get good at this after all, he allowed himself to think, and smiled.

Eventually Fuji pushed his plate back and glanced at the clock. "I… suppose I should get going."

"It is getting late," Kawamura agreed, but it took him a second to remember that he had to take Fuji's plate and bring him the bill. Fuji paid with a 5000 and said he didn't want the change, but Kawamura brought it to him anyway.

Fuji stood up and retrieved his jacket, stopping by the door. "Well, I guess…" He trailed off, looking at the wall.

"Can I walk you home?" Kawamura asked.

Fuji's mouth formed a small o of surprise before splitting into a bright smile. "I'd like that," he said.

They walked side by side down the street, their shadows elongating and receding as they passed under each streetlight. They talked quietly about the latest pro tennis rankings and the next Grand Slam and somewhere along the line Fuji's hand slipped into Kawamura's and stayed there.

They ended up in front of Fuji's apartment before they had finished discussing the final outcome of last year's Wimbledon. "Do you want to come up?" Fuji asked.

"I… I have to get back and finish closing the shop." He didn't let go of Fuji's hand.

Fuji's smile fell a little. "Right. See you tomorrow." He shifted from side to side before leaning forward and pressing his lips against Kawamura's cheek. He ran up the stairs to the apartment and disappeared inside.

"Tomorrow…" Kawamura whispered, cupping a hand to his cheek. "Bring on tomorrow, baby!" he shouted, and sprinted all the way back to the restaurant.

Thank you for reading! Reviews are always appreciated!