Posting this here a little late, but at least I made it on time when I posted it for my Tetsu. xD ...Though, where she lives, it was 7 hours late. ^^;; Ah well, she liked it.


For what seemed like the hundredth time that night, Tetsuya had to tell himself that the Young Lord's outright denial of their relationship was only to protect their image and to keep word of it from reaching the elder Kasanoda, for fear of the consequences. Not because he was ashamed of him, not because he was afraid to admit it, and not because he was rethinking their recent…shift in relationship.

Tetsuya supposed he should've seen this coming. After all, the redhead had brought him along to the Ouran Academy Christmas party while most people had brought dates, and since most people there assumed he was gay in the first place, it was natural for them to think that perhaps he'd finally gotten lucky since he'd had no progress with Fujioka. But while it was mostly true, it just wasn't something that should be broadcast to the world.

When Kasanoda had asked him to accompany him to the party, Tetsuya had actually been excited for it. But as the evening progressed, he found it harder and harder to keep that polite, happy smile on his face. Between the embarrassed denials - which were beginning to feel more like rejections - and the fact that he hadn't gotten to spend much time with Kasanoda due to constant conversation, the event had begun to wear him down. Who knew the Young Lord had become so popular? And while he didn't mind a little attention himself, he hadn't planned on talking to girl after girl all night who either was only interested in flirting with him, or wondering if he was gay.

Eventually he managed to pull himself away from a group of girls to search for his "not-date", only to stop short in his quest when he found that Ritsu was already having a lively time with several loud members of the Host Club. It didn't really look like it would help much if he were to step in at that time.

With a sigh, he occupied himself by approaching the buffet tables for a glass of punch. The catering was probably the only thing he'd really been able to enjoy tonight.

"You look less than excited to be here, Sendou-san."

The ponytailed boy looked up from his drink, a bit surprised at the sudden observation. Someone had noticed?

Haruhi Fujioka smiled up at him apologetically. "Oh, but I'm sorry for making assumptions. It just seemed to me that you weren't entirely happy being here."

Tetsuya had only met this boy a few other times before, but he could tell why Ritsu had liked him. Fujioka was cute, for a guy, and he spoke simply and with observation that wasn't accusatory or judgemental. Now that Tetsuya was 'dating' Kasanoda, he felt as if he should be looking at this boy as a sort of opponent or threat, but somehow he didn't think he'd be able to do that even if he wanted to.

He shook his head. "No, you're right, in a way." Why did it feel natural to tell him this, when he'd kept up an act in front of everyone else? "I guess I just had different expectations for tonight. I'm just…a little disappointed." He lifted a hand. "Oh, not that the party itself hasn't been a high quality experience, erm…"

Haruhi nodded knowingly. "I understand, don't worry." He paused, looking at the taller boy for a moment, then asked curiously, "If both you and Casanova-kun would rather not be here, why not just leave? You've been here long enough to have politely attended."

Tetsuya's wide eyes blinked. "He doesn't want to be here either?"

Not far off, Kasanoda's deep voice could be heard shouting something, embarrassed, and it was followed by a chorus of laughter.

Haruhi used this convenient example. "Does it sound like he wants to be?"

"Well…no," Tetsuya admitted, "but it was his idea to come, and believe it or not, he does like being around people who aren't afraid to get on his nerves. And while he's still a bit…uncomfortable…in social settings, he'd rather be here than sitting alone in his room."

As Tetsuya spoke, Fujioka listened and watched carefully, then offered a smile. "I know, but something else tells me that above all that he'd rather just spend time with someone he's close to. Maybe he just wanted to share some of his everyday experiences with you here tonight, since you don't often get to visit his school." The dark-eyed boy tilted his head upwards slightly. "Have you asked him yet what he'd like to do?"

Tetsuya was grateful that Haruhi had managed to say all that without giving him reason to deny there was something between himself and Kasanoda, and at the same he hadn't reinforced the idea that they were simply friends either. If he had any suspicions on the matter, then he was definitely a tactful and considerate speaker.

The taller boy's eyes softened, his small frown disappearing. "No, I haven't. I suppose a little communication wouldn't hurt." He was a bit jealous of Fujioka's insight. He'd made things sound so simple. "Thank you."

"No need to thank me," the small host replied calmly, "sometimes it's just harder to see things when you're directly involved." He smiled. "I hope you both have an enjoyable Christmas."

Tetsuya opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it again and shook his head. "I hope the same for you, Fujioka-san." The smile he returned was a genuine one, one he was glad he didn't have to fake for once.

His mind now made up, he went to rescue his Ritsu from whatever unfortunate conversation he'd been backed into.

"Young Lord…" He placed a hand on the redhead's shoulder, and jumped a little when the young man in question turned and snapped at him.

"What?" His face a deep crimson, Kasanoda's snarling expression of embarrassment and surprise faded quickly when he realized who it was that had addressed him. "O-Oh, uh…sorry…"

"Don't worry about it." Tetsuya had already recovered. "But, well…can I talk to you for a moment?"

Before Kasanoda could respond, the pair of twins nearby interjected in unison, "Go ahead, we don't mind~." They grinned, making no move to leave the two alone. "Unless you like to talk dirty to each other."

Tetsuya rolled his eyes, then hooked an arm around Kasanoda's - which worked well as an anchor, considering how stiff the guy could get - to drag him, spluttering, away from the troublemakers.

"What is it…?" The redhead asked when they stopped.

Tetsuya had to pause. What exactly was he supposed to say? "Um, well…I'm just wondering if you're still having a good time here." He looked down at his glass, uneasily clicking against the sides with his fingernails. "We don't have to stay if you're not, you know…"

Kasanoda frowned, brows furrowed. "No, if you wanna be here, I do too!"

"But I don't." Tetsuya fought the urge to laugh sourly. Was that why they were both still here? Because they'd both thought the other was enjoying the party? "I'm pretty sure I stopped wanting to be here after the fifth time someone asked us if we were together, and you told them that we'd never do such a thing. Though it could've been a time or two after that when you shouted it at that one guy from the Garden Club. I'm not sure, it all kind of blurred together after a while."

When Kasanoda was silent, Tetsuya wished he hadn't quite said all of that, or at least without the bitter edge that had accidentally slipped out. He hadn't wanted to make Ritsu feel bad, even if all it had bothered him…but from the look on his face, he was beginning to understand.

"Tetsuya…I didn't mean any of it like that, y'know…"

The ponytailed teen waved his hands quickly, forcing a smile to hopefully clear the conversation of the painful mood he'd brought up. "Oh, no, I know that, it's okay…don't worry, I don't know why I said it like that-"

"No." Tetsuya's response only seemed to upset the redhead. "Don't say stuff ya don't mean, and stop smilin' if you're not happy." For once, he was looking into the young man's eyes unwaveringly. "I'm real bad at figurin' this stuff out if ya try to hide it from me, so if there's somethin' you ain't happy with, you gotta tell me." He rubbed the back of his neck - a nervous habit. "I wish I didn't have to say stuff like that to people, y'know. I'm…really happy to be with ya," his eyes averted out of embarrassment, "a-and if I could, I'd proudly introduce ya to people for what'cha really are to me. I wouldn't give a shit what they think. But…the way things are…well, we can't just, I mean..."

When relief burned at the edges of Tetsuya's eyes, he realized just how much the night had bothered him, and how grateful he was to receive an affirmation of Kasanoda's feelings. When had he become so insecure? Rubbing a hand over his eyes briefly, he nodded. "I understand." He said quietly, then his relief began to reflect in his expression and he began to chuckle. "Can we just go home then? I think we're both sick and tired of being here."

Kasanoda relaxed too, glad that Tetsuya seemed to be feeling better. "Yeah. That sounds good."

So they said their goodbyes, politely excusing themselves for the evening, but they were stopped on their way to the door by a twin who looked like he hadn't finished having his fun with them.

"Ah-ah, where do you think you two are going~?"

"We're goin' home. What's it matter to you?"

A similar voice spoke up from behind them. "Not yet you're not. Did you think you could just pass through here without doing a little something first~?"

The two yakuza boys were about to protest in confusion, blocked in a doorway by a Hitachiin on both sides, when the twins pointed upwards with a cruelly mischievous grin. In unison, they explained, "It isn't in the spirit of the season to break tradition~…"



"No freakin' way!" Kasanoda growled, flustered and stiffening. "W-We don't have to do somethin' stupid like that, dammit! We're outta here!"

Tetsuya felt a bit pale, but tried to keep the volume down. The situation would only worsen if they attracted attention. "Just ignore them, Young Lord. They're just being immature, let's just go…"

"Ehh? You ignored your boyfriend all night, and now you won't even give him a mistletoe kiss? So coldhearted, Bossa Nova!"

"It's a wonder he's into you at all…where's that famous soft, squishy side of our favorite Young Lord?"

"Probably hiding underneath all that embarrassment. It's not really that cute, you know."

The twins shared a smirk.

"Unless you plan to do more than just this when you get home~…"

"That must be why they're in such a hurry to leave~…"

Kasanoda was valiantly attempting to contain an outraged outburst, though he was just barely succeeding. His face was bright red, and his fists were clenched at his sides.

Tetsuya stepped in, he himself annoyed at the teasing. "Shut up. We don't need this from you, so if you'll leave us be I won't have to mow you down to get to the door. Understood?"

But just as he took a step towards the ginger haired twin in their path, Ritsu grabbed his arm to stop him. Tetsuya turned to look back and ask why he shouldn't do just that, but without warning his lips were captured and he found himself unable to speak. It took a moment to register what exactly was happening, as quickly as it had been launched upon him, and another short moment after that he realized that there was a large hand at his jaw, awkwardly cupping the side of his face. The Young Lord's lips were as warm and chapped as they had been last time they had been brought against his own, but they were stiff and unmoving, and he hadn't much time to react to it all before the kiss was retracted and he stood there in shock.

"Ya happy?" Kasanoda demanded, glaring at the twin before him, though looking a bit shocked himself. "Now back off!"

Both Hitachiin boys were taken aback…but only for a moment.

"Whoo-hoo, what a Casanova~!"

"Poorly executed, but the holiday bonus makes up for your lost points~!"

Snickering to themselves, the twins stepped aside. "We should have brought a camera!"

Tetsuya was still a little dazed, unsure of what just happened, so now it was Kasanoda's turn to pull him by the arm to leave, face burning hotly and stomping towards the door.

As they bundled up in the coatroom, Tetsuya found his voice. "Ritsu…er, you really didn't have to do anything like that, we could've just left…"

Kasanoda didn't answer, pulling a hat over his head and searching for his boots.

Awkwardly, the ponytailed boy continued, "And really, I like it better when you kiss me because you want to, rather than trying to make a point…if you don't want to, then-"

"I did want to, dammit." Kasanoda grumbled obstinately, avoiding his eyes. "They just happened to be there at the time. That's all." He sat down on a bench to remove his shoes. "An' who cares if they saw. Even if they do talk about it, I don't think people would take 'um seriously anyway."

Ritsu was avoiding the point, but Tetsuya didn't mind now. He knew what the redhead was trying to convey, so he kept quiet and smiled to himself.

Once they were outside, they walked the sidewalks while waiting for their ride home…and since no one would've been able to recognize them past the snow and beneath their winter trappings anyway, Tetsuya pressed his shoulder against Kasanoda's, brushing his gloved hand against the other's for a clasped hold that the redhead accepted.

Tetsuya briefly pulled down his favorite scarf to place a quick kiss upon Ritsu's cheek. "Hey…Merry Christmas."

The sentiment was returned with a squeeze of the hand and a lean in Tetsuya's direction. "Yeah. You too."