A/N: Oh college applications, how I despise thee. I'm sorry everyone. Thankfully that's all over with, so I can lay low for a while. Ah well, on with the fic!

Also, just a couple of things I should mention:

For one, Junjou Passion is going to be up very shortly. Now you're going to see the beginning of Takahiro and Akihiko's story!

Second, again, I'm sorry about using dialogue from the anime. I think I might have used too much from it this time, but then again I needed it since the scenes mostly matched (minus some smart ass remarks from Shinobu). Believe me; I'd rather use my own material.

Thirdly, I'd like to introduce to you the lovely Taoreta, my beta. Thanks to her, my future fics and chapters will be cleansed like new born babies~

Oh, and go read her stuff- it's awesome.

Junjou Flame

It was summertime now. Shinobu and I had been dating for a few months or so. I guess. Time seemed to have flown by so fast that we were already past my birthday.

Honestly, I wasn't sure what to call it. We never called each other "boyfriends," but we were more than just friends. We'd hardly ever held hands in public and I'd never go so far as to kiss him myself. We weren't that physical in private either. There was a little bit of cuddling here and there and maybe a kiss goodbye, but nothing more. We never even went out on dates. Sure we'd get something to eat together or watch a movie, but together with our friends.

Now don't get me wrong—I wasn't ashamed of going out with Shinobu or anything like that. There wasn't much to keep a secret about our relationship, mind you, because somehow everyone knew we were together. I'd try to deny it, since I was so shy when it came to this sort of thing, but they wouldn't believe me. After a while I just ignored them whenever they'd make a comment about him and me.

Either way, I was content with what we had. In ways, I wanted things to stay as they were. I didn't want to go "backwards" or well, forward. Taking the next step was what really left me insecure and reluctant to kiss Shinobu a little longer and passionately when alone with him.

I didn't wanna admit it, but deep down, I wanted more than just a quick peck on the lips. But what came after that; making out, foreplay, then sex? I wasn't ready for either of these things! Thinking about it made me feel dizzy. I was just so bothered by the thoughts of whatever junk Usami wrote in Junai Flame because well, it was my first relationship. With another man. Who in ways looks like a girl (a really pretty one if she didn't frown so much).

It was just so odd. I could get over the gender mentality, but when it came to anything… physical, everything would just stop progressing. I'd pull away from him when I would realize I was starting to get a little too into kissing him and I would say, "Why do you have to do that?"

Then he'd say something corny out of a shojou—manga like, "Because I wanted to" and I'd blush beat red.

Meanwhile, several other things were going on.

The press had finally stopped mobbing us back home—probably due to the fact that the wedding date was finally leaked. It was about a month away, on the twelfth of August.Now it was just a matter of preparing for that. Guest invitations, tuxedo fittings, setting up, location—all of this was done in a snap once the paparazzi were gone, as if we could all breathe again.

At the same time, Senpai started to stay out of our little group more often. Or at least, that's how I felt. Sure, he was already banned from going to my place, but whenever we were planning to go somewhere, he'd have some sort of excuse handy. I suggested this to Shinobu, but he said he didn't notice.

And to my chagrin, I kept noticing the last man I wanted to see touring about the neighborhood; AKA, Haruhiko. Surely it would be a coincidence minus the fact that I'd never seen him around the area before and I doubted a wealthy guy like him would be caught dead in a commoner's supermarket while having access to servants for doing the grocery shopping. I just try not to look him in the eye and pretend that his lackeys got sick or something like that. It's really creepy. I wanted to say something to Usami-san, but he had finally started to relax for once—or at least not when Aikawa was not threatening him to get work done on time for once.

Oh, and speaking of "work," Usami has asked me to proof-read his porn series, Junai Passion, to make sure everyone is in character. He had enough of my constant complaints on how he portrayed my character and Shinobu's—which he still writes in spite of the many times I've yelled at him not to. Of course, he was probably looking for another way to torture me mentally and physically as I hate reading. So obviously I'd hate reading about my brother and Usami, Kamijou-Sensei and Miyagi-Sensei, and Shinobu and I having gratuitous amounts of sex.

Now, Shinobu wasn't aware that I was assisting Usami in the least bit. In fact, he didn't even know that some books were based on certain people Usami knew in real life—or that Junai Passion even existed. I had a feeling that it was going to be less pleasant than the novels based on nii-chan.

"Wait, what?" I gaped, bubbling with anxiety, "Shinobu, seriously, you don't have to-"

"Too late, I've already made up my mind," Shinobu said matter-of-factly.

"…Even though Usami's going to be taking notes the entire time like some kind of a perverted stalker?"

Shinobu shrugged. "He's not perverted; he just needs our help. I'm not sure if there's anyone else who'd be willing to do the same."

I lowered my head. "I guess not…"

"And besides, it's not like you were gonna go romantic on me any time soon."

So to end up going on my first date with Shinobu under the supervision of the Lord Usami in order to help out with the series, unknown to said boyfriend, was all kinds of awkward. So went Misaki's twentieth year!

Act 3

Part 1

The World is Crazy. You're Crazy to the World

It started when I had walked with Shinobu from his place into our apartment. Hiroki and Miyagi were busy with their summer sessions back at Mitsuhashi and there really wasn't much to do in the area. At least here we had access to a nearby movie theater, numerous food joints, arcades, and other stuff.

"We're back"-

"I'm going abroad!" Usami shouted, stomping away from Aikawa angrily and down the stairs.

"Sensei, please give me a break!" Aikawa cried from behind, "Do you realize how many days you have before the deadline?"

"Be quiet, I'm well aware."

Shinobu moved a little closer to me. "Maybe we should come back in a half hour," he whispered.

"No, no. Takahiro's at work. The ways these two are yelling is making me nervous enough to not leave them alone in the house." I looked up at Aikawa and tried to give a convincing smile. "Good morning, Aikawa-san."

"Misaki-kun! You have to stop him! There's a scene in the book he's currently working on where you… Uh…" She paused, trying to ignore my flabbergasted expression, and and took a deep breath, "The main character, a college student, goes on a date." Usami plopped down on the couch, cigarette pack ready in hand as Aikawa buried her face in her hands, totally frustrated. "And I keep telling him a normal, ordinary date is fine, but he says it's impossible; he doesn't know what a normal date is like, and now he's threatening to flee overseas because he can't write it!"

Shinobu furrowed his brows. "Wait, what was that about the main character?"

"I see…" I said, ignoring Shinobu's gaze.

"There's only twenty or thirty pages left to go. Would you pleasefinishit already? I told you, you can write it however you like!"

"Wait a minute; remind me who it was again who rejected my first draft?" Usami grumbled, Suzuki-san by his side.

"Normal college students don't make reservations at five star hotels! They don't sail around the world on luxury cruise ships! They don't charter private planes!" Each phrase was spat out with more edge and annoyance.

"I did."

"What, he just has high standards. If the college kid is insanely rich, I say go for it," Shinobu muttered.

"Please don't say that any louder. She'll hear you!" I whispered.

"Well, you don't come even close to normal!" Aikawa hissed, right as ever. She ran both hands through her hair frantically, on the verge of screaming. "Oh no, what am I gonna do? This time there's no way I'll be able to get to this to the proofers! I need a lie to feed the printing office! The train stopped running? My pet cat spoke and told me not to go? I came down with water on the knee!"

"U-um, then, why don't you just tell him about your own dates from when you were in college?" I suggested helpfully, then wondering if I should move away from the black hole of depression ready to suck me in. Instead she stood there in complete silence, which terrified me more. "Huh? Did I say something wrong?"

Shinobu glanced at me with pity, obviously knowing ahead of time what the issue was. "I'm surprised she didn't mention the hot date you guys had," he smirked.

I rolled my eyes. "Really? Are you still on that?"

"Bad, bad, bad, bad! This is seriously bad news! We've already sold the ads! If we have to push back the release date now, I'll be liable for damage control! He probably doesn't give a hoot about that, but it would be a heinous disgrace for me!" She grimaced suddenly. "Isn't there a normal college student somewhere close by we could use-someone with real-life experiences we could use for material?"

"Why not us? I've probably got enough spending money on me to go out somewhere," Shinobu volunteered.

If I had spazzed out anymore than possible, I could've choked on air. "Us? Shinobu, what are you-"

"You will! Shinobu-kun, you're an angel!" Aikawa squealed as she then grasped my hands, "And you, Misaki-kun, you must have experienced a normal date before, right?"

"N-no, um, I"-

"Please, help me out here! You've got to teach him what "normal" means!" Aikawa said desperately.

"Aikawa, are you sure you're asking the right person for that?" asked Shinobu.

"Shut up! I know exactly what to do! You'll see!" I scowled, then faced Aikawa with a proud grin, "All right, I'd be happy to! Believe it or not, I'm actually quite popular with the ladies- they can't stay away from me!"

Both Shinobu and Usami exchanged a brief chuckle. Aikawa didn't seem to be paying attention to them at this point.

"Oh, really? You're a lifesaver, seriously! I'll bring some Kuma cream puffs for you next time!"

"Now if you'll excuse us, we'll go plan our date," Shinobu said as he firmly dragged me off to the side and into my room. He closed the door behind us before Aikawa could say anything else and punched my arm lightly.

"The ladies can't keep their hands off of you, eh?" Shinobu muttered.

"What, I was just buttering her up, Shinobu."

"Her, or your ego?"

I lowered my eyes. "Whatever. I just know what a real date is supposed to be like and that's that," I said, lying down on the bed.

"Despite the fact that you've never been on one—let alone with me?" asked Shinobu.

It was hard to keep my composure at this point. "Why are you getting all agitated over this? I've watched plenty of movies with the 'typical' date and stuff. It's not that hard to get what a date is supposed to be like. You know, we'll go to a restaurant, go to a theater, go to a carnival, and everything else. See? It's simple."

"Then why do you never take me out if it's that easy?"

I let out a heavy sigh, gathering my thoughts together. "…Shinobu, is it really bothering you that much?"

He turned away from me shyly. "Well, yeah… I was just trying to be patient because I thought that you wouldn't know what to do on a date and get all nervous. Yet there you were acting like Mr. Know-It-All Macho Man and I kind of blew a fuse."

"Honestly I've wanted to take you out for a while now, but I was just… scared."

"Of what?"

I shrugged. "Screwing up, I guess. I mean, it'd be our first date and the…first one I've ever went out on. I don't want it to be a disaster just because I'd get all nervous and jittery since it means we've taken the next step and-I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself. I've always wanted a relationship, but now that I have one I feel like I'm gonna do one little thing wrong and mess everything up completely."

Shinobu grasped my hand lightly, massaging my palm with his thumb. "There's nothing to be nervous about. It's just me."

"But it is just you-not some random person on the street. If I impress them, it doesn't matter, but you're with me, so…"

Shinobu's expression softened as he leaned over to kiss me, then pulling away far enough for our noses to touch. "Then let's plan our date-we could even practice, if you want."

In the end, Shinobu and I worked on a list of stuff to do for the date. We'd go out in a couple of days, have lunch in the park (probably something homemade), go shopping, take a look at the newly repaired aquarium, take a ride on the Ferris wheel, and then go out for a NON-expensive dinner. It was all completely cliché enough to make my stomach turn, but then again, this date was to teach Usami the art of normalcy in the first place.

Shinobu's initial idea for a restaurant was something on the expensive side, but I refused it since: A) I had no money, B) I wouldn't let him pay for me, C) Usami was supervising the date and he wasn't gonna learn anything if we ate like kings.

We actually did scenarios of what would happen on the date and stuff, but after a while we didn't take it seriously and started goofing off. Like all of a sudden we would be at the aquarium and a shark would bust out of the tank and we'd all get soaking wet—or out of the blue, a stranger would confess their love to me and I'd get kidnapped to which then Shinobu would spontaneously be eaten by sharks.

I was actually pretty excited for the next day. Takahiro kept making fun of me because I was acting like a school girl when planning our picnic and scrapping ideas that sounded (un)romantic. Both Usami and Shinobu offered to help me put together the basket, but of course their cooking history warned me otherwise. When I told him I didn't want any help, Usami at least offered to drive us around since we were doing him the favor of teaching him about the dating world. I refused that offer as well since having him drive us all over the place made me feel like a kid. It was even worse that we were being "chaperoned".

At the park, Shinobu and I sat next to each other on the edge of the checkered blanket, eating egg-salad sandwiches while staring at the clouds. Usami was busy observing us some feet away, behind the picnic basket. Preferably, I would've wished for him to stare at us at a farther distance, but seeing him with a notepad in hand, scribbling notes furiously while glancing at us caught plenty of stares-enough to make him seem like a total creeper.

"You never did tell me what this book is about," said Shinobu, wiping the crumbs off his mouth with one hand. "It's obviously a romance novel of some sort, but are we supposed to be like the characters or something?"

I froze. "Um…" I looked back at Usami, who was still writing. "Nothing of the sort. We're just supposed to act…naturally."

"Is that so?" Shinobu asked incredulously, nibbling on the sandwich again, "Imagine if everything we do is being written down, word for word? Like there's a book about us?"

I laughed nervously. "What? Seriously? Who would ever write something like that?" Usami was surely staring daggers into my back when hearing this.

"'Don't know, but I think it'd be kind of hilarious to read. Y'know, minus the awkward sex scenes."

"Wh-WHAT?" I practically yelled, "B-but we never-"

Shinobu raised his hands. "Chill out, it was just a weird idea. Calm down before you make a scene," he said. Usami was trying hard not to laugh in the background.

"I know you said we should go shopping, but what're we buying?" asked Shinobu, once we were out walking the streets.

I shrugged. "I don't know. I figured that maybe I could buy something for you."

"Are you sure you wanna do that? You don't have to get me anything."

"But I want to. I mean, I don't have much, but I can still get you a little something," I told him.

Wordlessly, he grabbed my hand, failing to hide a smile.

My face heated upon the slight physical contact seen by those passing us and I tried not to point that out. "What? What is it?" I asked.

"Nothing. I feel like such a girl right now is all," Shinobu giggled, "But at least let me buy something for you."

"Well, I don't really want anything," I thought aloud, "If you really wanted to get me a gift, though, you could buy the new volume of The Kan!"

"…Alright," Shinobu hesitated, "Only if you promise to try and improve your taste in books. That stuff will rot your brain more than it already has."

"I still don't understand how you cannot like The Kan! Ijuuin Kyo is a total god!" I gasped.

Shinobu rolled his eyes. "That is one of the reasons why."

"Whoa, awesome!" I gaped at the sight before me, pressing my hands against the glass. Shinobu was standing next to me, keeping a slight distance from the tank. "There's so many…"

"It's been a while since I saw this many fish," Usami interjected from behind us.

"Careful, Misaki. I think that shark's looking at you," Shinobu said, hinting at an earlier inside joke.

I smirked. "Think it'll come closer if I knock on the glass?"

"Come on, we just got here. If we do that we'll get kicked out," Shinobu snickered, "I at least wanna check out the penguin exhibit before you do something stupid."

"Right, right," I said, backing away from the tank. "I wanna check that out too. They're all supposed to be newborn hatchlings right now!"

"It's settled then." He waved to Usami, catching his attention. "Sensei, we're going to see the penguins. Coming with?"

"Actually, can I use the bathroom before we go on ahead?"

"How cute, you're asking," said Shinobu, "You have my permission—just don't get lost."

"Whatever. I'll be back in a few."

I walked on forward, feeling content with myself. The date was going pretty well so far. There were no tears or anger—not that I expected any—but I couldn't help but be on my toes for such oncoming emotions. I'd read his face every so often, see how tight he'd hold me when our hands were intertwined, pay attention to his body language and guess if he was relaxed or not. But after a while, the paranoia subsided and everything felt natural.

"Excuse me"-

Apparently I had spoken too soon.

Before me was the last person I wanted to see or expected to find, A.K.A Usami Haruhiko. 'Why do I have to run into him now!'

"Wait a moment, I need to talk to you," he said to me before I could flee in the other direction.

"I have no such need!" I protested.

"Well, I do."

"Let go of me!"

"Lower your voice," Haruhiko spoke in a lower tone. Other people were staring at us and I felt embarrassed upon raising my voice. "Why are you here?"

"I came for fun, obviously, why else?" I grumbled, arms crossed and nose stuck up. "What about you? What are you doing here?"

"Business. I designed this aquarium," he answered nonchalantly. Somehow, I managed to believe that was just coincidence. "This is perfect timing. I actually had a question to ask you."

I surrendered. Obviously he wasn't going to leave me alone anytime soon. "Fine, what is it then? I have to get back."

"Who is that boy you're hanging around with? I see him a lot with you."

"Huh?" I blinked my eyes, surprised that he didn't mention the fact that his brother was with us. He was more concerned about Shinobu. "Oh, he's…a really good friend of mine. We heard the aquarium reopened and decided to visit."

"Is that so?" His face remained stoic. "I finally understand." He shifted his glasses once, staring me directly in the eyes. "I've done a lot of thinking myself. I'd supposed that you were on my mind simply because my attention had extended to include you, given my position in relation to my brother, but I've realized that's not it at all."

I had a horrible feeling about this. "What's this now?"

"I'm in love with you."

And there it was; the special something that my gut instinct warned me of and insisted I should run away from. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, there! Get a hold of yourself, my good sir. I'm a Japanese man! This joke has gone far enough…"

Haruhiko began to move closer into my personal bubble. "What do you want? I can provide you with anything you desire."

"No, that's quite alright! I think I've eaten a lifetime supply of strawberries and cherries from the ones Nii-chan shared with me! If you were going to have to give me something else, it would have to be an island."

"An island? I can get you a nice tropical one."

"Keep it! Please, keep it!" I shouted as I ran far away from him.

Usami and Shinobu were spotted at the doorway where the penguins were, waiting impatiently.

"There you are! I told you not to get lost," Shinobu lectured me.

"Geez, Shinobu. I'm not a child. What matters is that I'm here now, so let's go." We began to walk briskly towards the exhibit, but Usami stood in place. I gestured to him. "Uh, Usami-san?"

"What's he doing here?" he choked out.

"Who? What's wrong?" asked Shinobu.

"Nothing, nothing! Let's get out of here." I began pushing Shinobu slightly in one direction and said in a whisper, "I'll explain later, Usami-san."

We were raised above Tokyo Tower, staring out the window. I sat across from Shinobu and Usami was once again accompanying us, sitting by my side. Minus the sound of Usami's pen hitting paper, we stared outside with an abnormal awkward silence.

"…So, I was thinking," I said suddenly. He barely moved his head. "There's a Panda-san near home. Do you wanna go there for dinner?"

"Huh? Oh yeah, sure."

There was something slightly off about him that I couldn't figure out off the top of my head. If I could use one word to describe him in that moment as of now, it would be distant. Drifting? Un-focused?

"Have you ever eaten there?" I asked.

"No, but I'll try it."

Leaning a little closer towards him, I said softly, "Maybe we should go home. I could always cook something."

"I told you; it's fine. I'll go with you to that Panda place," Shinobu muttered.

I lowered my eyes in annoyance. "Alright, spill it. What's wrong?"

"Nothing!" he snapped, and then said in a more relaxed tone, "Sorry, I'm just a little tired is all. I mean, we did a lot today."

My insides twisted. I suddenly felt hot. "W-was it too much? Should we have taken the car after all?"

"Not at all, I'm fine, just…"

"Is take-out fine?"


A short while later, we were at the top of the Ferris wheel. At that point Shinobu came over to my side and nuzzled his body against mine, hiding his face. "I'm sorry…"


He was wordless the entire way down. His head lied on my shoulder and he locked arms with me, clinging. I wasn't sure if he was awake or asleep.

"If you really are tired, it's fine with me. You both have done more than enough for me today," Usami said just before we landed, "I'll call a cab."

"Thank you, Usami-san."

Dinner didn't last too long. Usami decided to eat in his room while working on the book. Shinobu barely ate a bite and to my surprise, I wasn't really that hungry either. Not to say that the food wasn't decent, but there was a kind of uncertain aura that dissolved my appetite.

I was trying to figure him out. Obviously something was wrong. It bothered me that I might've done something, but what?

'What if he found out about the Junai series and got really mad?' I asked myself as I slowly chewed on the rice I had just shoveled in. 'Or what if…' It suddenly occurred to me. 'What if he heard Haruhiko's confession? Maybe Haruhiko also could've said something to him and'-

"I know this is kind of weird to ask, but can I stay the night?" Shinobu asked suddenly.

I blinked, completely off-guard. I started to feel nervous by his question. 'Wait, does he mean he wants to…?' "Uh, it's okay with me, but will Kamijou-sensei and Miyagi-sensei be fine with it?" 'Please say no, please say-'

"I don't see why not. Besides, the last thing I wanna do is ask them to pick me up at this hour when they have just gotten home from work—not to mention I'm sure they want some alone time. And I know your brother won't be home until late tonight. Plus, Usami-sensei is working on that book, so I don't wanna disturb him either."

"I…sure." I breathed in. "Just make sure you call them and everything. You can get changed in my pajamas if you want—they're in the bottom drawer.

For a split second I expected him to say something corny like, "Clothes won't be necessary," but instead he said, "Alright. I'll go now."

He left the table, leaving me more time to panic while cleaning the dishes. 'Stay the night? What the hell does that mean? I mean, we've been together for like, four months, but today was our first date!' I packed away dinner, thinking of eating it for tomorrow's lunch and took a deep breath. 'Alright, I can do this. I'll just offer to sleep on the couch. No big deal.'

To my surprise, the door was left open. I suspected Shinobu had finished changing, but when I looked inside, he was sitting on the bed, wearing the clothes he had on from earlier.

"Ah, I thought you were gonna change," I said. "But whatever. Just let me know when you wanna go to sleep. If you want, take the bed. I'll sleep on the couch; it doesn't matter to me."

"You… Y-you can sleep on the bed if you want." His face was stern, failing to hide the faint blush quickly gaining a vibrant hue. It was adorable in a way that made me feel uncomfortable.

"Are you, uh, sure you want the couch? It's fine with me if you don't."

He locked eyes with me seriously. "I don't."

"Okay then," I said, feeling a bit confused. "No couch for you then."

"I don't think you understand."

Before I could say anything else, he pulled me onto the bed, kissing me so roughly I thought he was going to suck the life out of my lips. Without hesitation his tongue slipped in and began to rub against my mine—a trick that forced my body to lie on top of his. The harder Shinobu pressed his lips against mine or bit on my lip, the more I was sucked towards a wild frenzy of tossing and turning on the sheets. My body felt like it was burning alive and I was barely able to breathe.

I thought that flame was going to engulf me alive. And for a moment, I thought it would.

And so went Misaki's twentieth year.

A/N: So I figured you guys already got mad because I took forever with this chapter. Then I leave you all with a cliff hanger. Please don't hate me too much…

I also didn't feature anything on Misaki's birthday because it's actually not important for the story, so, yeah. My bad.

In the meantime, be on the lookout for Junjou Passion! It's going to begin quite shortly. Thank you all so much for reading. Oh, and happy belated New Year~