A/N: My dear friend Bailey, aka Pyro the Phoenix, was getting very frustrated with me because my Bakuman fic never includes kissing. So. Here's a fic about kissing for you, Bailey. You big nag. (Just kidding I love you.)

Always Like That

The first thing Takagi thinks is that kissing a boy is very, very different from kissing a girl.

He's been kissing Kaya since he was fifteen, and he's used to the feel of it — the way she yields, the way her hair falls down her back, the softness of her skin under his fingers, the feel of her breasts pushing against his chest.

Mashiro's lips are a little bit chapped with cold but fierce all the same, not giving Takagi any leeway, just attacking and attacking, a battle for dominance. His hair ends at the nape of his neck, and where they press against each other there is nothing but the flat planes of Mashiro's chest.

His second thought, which comes approximately ten seconds after the first, is that he would gladly give up everything he's ever had or wanted to be able to do this for the rest of his life.

His third thought, directly after the second, is that this is probably the wrong thing to think when kissing one's best friend.

They break apart after a moment. Mashiro's face is a deep red, his eyes casting about for something to look at that is not Takagi. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Takagi realizes his own lips feel wet and drags his sleeve across them. He is curiously aware of the fact that he's not entire sure whose saliva it is. It's strangely interesting and somewhere between sort of gross and the exact opposite of gross.

His pants feel tight. He looks down, then looks at the front of Mashiro's jeans, which are tented in precisely the same way as his own.

The situation is so intriguing he can't bring himself to feel anything but curiosity. He realizes, intellectually, that he should be acting like someone who's just been forced to question his own sexuality — that is, he should be having a mental tantrum — but there's a warmth in his stomach that is like happiness but a little darker, and all he can do is try to force back a grin.

Mashiro looks like he's not feeling the same way, which is, somehow, disappointing. Especially since Mashiro is most definitely the one who kissed him.

"That… is it always like that?" Mashiro asks, a murmur so quiet Takagi almost doesn't catch it. He blinks, realizes with a jolt that Mashiro's never kissed a girl, despite that they're twenty-two years old for goodness' sake. As such, he doesn't understand that no, it is not always like that, not even usually, not even rarely, not even as a fluke. Not for Takagi, anyway.

He stares at Mashiro for a long moment, then grabs his wrist. "Let's find out," he says decisively and pulls Mashiro out the door of the studio.

The drive to Azuki's house feels longer than it is because Mashiro simply refuses to look at him, to speak to him, even when Takagi tries for conversation. Finally, he decides that something must be said. Things cannot go on like this.

"It's not a big deal," he says carefully, slowly. "People — you know, they experiment. It was just a kiss."

"It was my first kiss," Mashiro says in such a sulky voice that Takagi is quite sure Mashiro's pouting without having to look at him.

"Well." Takagi pauses. 'It's your own fault' will not suffice here and will probably just serve to worsen Mashiro's mood. "Well, you still have your first kiss with a girl. And anyway I don't think it was so bad as first kisses go, so consider yourself lucky you had someone with experience. The first time I kissed Kaya we couldn't get our noses…" Takagi trails off when he realizes that the last person he wants to think about right now is his wife.

Well, her and Azuki. He doesn't want to think about either of them. He wants them to stop existing so he can kiss Mashiro for the rest of eternity with no repercussions.

This expedition, however, is a necessary one. Without having kissed a woman whom he thinks he loves, Mashiro cannot be certain — cannot even, perhaps, contemplate — that they've both been thinking wrong since junior high.

They pull up to Azuki's house.

"What… exactly are we here for?"

"For you to find out if it's always like that," Takagi answers. "Ring the bell, go inside, and kiss her. If it's — if it's not always like that, come back."

Mashiro watches him for a moment, then nods and gets out of the car. Takagi thinks he recognizes a determined sort of spark in Mashiro's eye. He's familiar with that spark — he's seen it often over the years, when Mashiro was in the hospital, when he'd spent every waking minute trying to improve his speed.

He waits. Five minutes pass, ten. He stares at his cell phone, hoping at least for an email that will tell him he should go home — it would be better than wondering.

After twenty minutes, he sighs and starts the car. It shouldn't take this long; he knows what this means, and since he didn't specifically tell Mashiro to let him know if he was staying, he has nothing left to wait for.

He has just put the gearshift in drive when the front door opens. He stares as Mashiro races down the steps — has the presence of mind to pull the car back into park — and makes a startled noise when Mashiro's lips press firmly against his own.

His fingers curl through his partner's dark hair, his free hand reaching around Mashiro's waist and pull him closer. It's awkward; he's sure the steering wheel must be pressing uncomfortably into Mashiro's back, and yet it is perfect in ways he's never imagined.

"I broke off the engagement," Mashiro says quietly against his mouth.

Takagi pulls back enough to shoot Mashiro a surprised look.

"It is always like that," Mashiro explains. "Just… only with you."