I don't know where this came from... I see everyone else getting in on the B/W action, and I don't want to be left in the cold! I love N, so hopefully I'll grow to love pairings involving him, in time.

Rated T, for mature teenagers. Contains bisexuality, non-sexual nudity and light touching.

If there was one thing Black had learned in his sixteen-and-a-bit years of life, it was that the universe hated him, and that anything his attempted that required him venturing out of his metaphorical safety-bubble would boomerang back and bite him on the ass sooner or later. So when he found himself getting swept up in N's personal life, he just knew there would be hell to pay.

He never wanted it. He never wanted any of it – the pressure, the responsibility, the fame that came with being unceremoniously thrust into the role of hero. He was never the hero type. He was more suited to the role of the best friend. Or the unlucky-in-love-interest. He didn't intend to put a leash on the green-haired man – so to speak – and bring him home, it sort of just... happened.

His mom didn't mind. Of course. Since when did she mind anything her dearest baby Blackberry did? When she'd greeted N with a smile and an offer of pancakes, Black had wanted to scream and bang him head against the wall. She was his mother, she wasn't supposed to approve of his weird friends invading her beautiful home! She was supposed to yell, throw N out and banish Black to his room for a week. That was what a good mother would do.

But, of course, she insisted on setting up a futon next to Black's bed (because leaving your teenage son, who is severely lacking in the muscle department, alone at night with an eccentric older man is model parenting) and making a mental list of all of N's favourite meals.

It was strange, at first. N was so different from him. He walked so straight, too straight, bolt upright and looking down on everything, but when he was alone with Black, in his room, he would let all Black's pokemon out of their balls and crawl around with them, hunched up on all fours like some half-man, half-monkey hybrid. He would talk to them too. Mostly he would just listen, but sometimes he would say things that Black couldn't understand, weird little high-pitched keening noises. And Black would watch him, and his oddly pale skin and shock of hair that spilled down his back like a huge green mane, and think that N hadn't quite reached the general state of evolution he was used to.

"Why do you d-d-do that?" he asked, when he woke up to find N squeaking away to his Musharna. He rolled over in his bed and propped himself up on one elbow. "I-I thought they underst... ood English. What's the p-p-point?"

N's eyes didn't leave the purple pokemon that floated above his head. "I don't rate one language above another," he said. "Why should we be ignorant of their language when they go to the trouble of understanding ours? That was quite a selfish question. I don't ask you why you speak the way you do."

"I t-t-told you, it's a ssspeech impediment," Black said irritably. He flopped back down on the bed. "Whatever. C-Come here, Florence."

His Musharna let out a sing-song cry before floating under Black's raised arm, snuggling into his ribs. Black giggled, and N's face squashed itself into a sort of pout. Black knew that N hadn't fully accepted his methods of pokemon-rearing. He wasn't sure he ever would, but at least they were at the pout-and-sulk stage as opposed to the lecture-intently-then-ignore-you-for-a-week stage. Underneath all the fancy-talk and advanced mathematics, N was still such a child. He couldn't stand it when things didn't go his way, like when Black taught him how to record TV shows using a DVD player. It took him the better part of an hour to get all the controls down, then he spent forever flipping through TV-Guide to memorise the times, and tried to record Black's favourite TV show for him. He'd been so excited, dragging Black by the arm and plonking him down in front of television, ready to show him the results of his hard work.

Black's godforsaken luck must have rubbed off on N during the time he'd spent at his house. He had forgotten to put a DVD in the DVD player.

Black had never seen such disabling grief over something so trivial before. It would've been funny if it had happened to anybody else, but not N. Watching the bright, pure smile fall away from his face was enough to fool Black into believing that the failed recording of Top Gear was quite possibly the most tragic event ever to have occurred. N had actually cried, which was more than a little awkward, and was not something Black ever wanted witness again.

Unfortunately, his wish never did come true, as N was not exempt to nightmares and would often wake Black up in the middle of the night with his helpless little whimpers. And Black was comfortable enough with his sexuality to tiptoe out of bed and slip under the duvet on the futon, next to N, where he would hold the older man until he calmed down, green hair tickling his nose and shaky breath ghosting across his chest through the gaps in his nightshirt.

"A-At least y-you're quiet, rrright?" Black whispered, pulling away just a little so he could lay comfortably beside N and look at him properly. Through the moonlight that filtered through the crack in the curtains, he could see the tears glistening on N's face.

"Yeah," N agreed, breathlessly. "Before, nobody came, even if I cried very loudly."

An icy hand closed around Black's heart and squeezed and damn his sentimentality, he pulled N into his arms again. And, like an infant clutching a finger, N clung to him and told him, I'm want you here, I want you with me, don't ever let me go, and he would tell him over and over until his long, thin body trembled and he started crying all over again.

After that first night, N wanted to touch Black all the time. Black began to get a better idea of what N's life had been like up until this point, and it made him sick to his stomach (unless that was that dodgy spag bol he ate the other night). It was like N had never touched another person before. Like he was only just coming to terms with the fact that he was human just like everybody else.

He wanted Black to hold him all the time. Even in public. Black had to explain why they couldn't do that, which sent him into another bad mood, and Black had to promise to indulge in whatever he wanted later, behind closed doors. Hands pressed against hands had never felt so strange. N counted all his fingers, and then counted Black's, and then repeated the process with their toes. Black found himself laying down spread-eagled on his bed, like a corpse at the mercy of the scalpel, as N crawled all over him, compared the lengths of their arms and legs, brushed his hair with his fingers. He straddled his body and pressed his forehead to Black's, and Black couldn't suppress the fleeting thought that this would be the perfect moment for his mother to walk in. He knew how it would have looked to any spectator. But for N, this was simple curiosity. There was nothing sexual about his interest in Black's body. It was merely a fascination, a realisation of just how similar they two of them were.

"You have hair on your chest," N observed, unbuttoning Black's shirt to below the navel. Black knew he shouldn't be as comfortable with the situation as he was, especially considering the general weediness of his barely-tanned body. But N was different. N wasn't going to judge him.

"Y-Yeah, don't you?" he asked.

Backing away, N fumbled his way out of his jacket before yanking off his T-shirt. He prodded his chest a bit with one long finger. "Not much," he said. "And it's green."

"B-Because your ha-a-air is green."

N kept the finger on his chest, unwittingly drawing Black's attention to the area. He was so pale, and his skin was so thin he could almost see right through it to the maze of blue veins underneath. After a few blinks, Black began to trick himself into thinking he could see even deeper, to the long brittle bones that supported him.

The finger moved to poke at a pink nipple, and N flinched, as if a small jolt of electricity had been sent straight through him. After a pause, he added a thumb and pinched the little bud.

"Oh," he squeaked.

Black swallowed, curing the dryness in his throat, and reached forward to take N's hand. "D-Don't do that," he ordered. He began to wonder if N really was older than him. He had an ageless face, as if all that had happened to him in his life had washed it completely smooth and left him with an unreadable mask. He looked older than Black, most of the time, but when he smiled it was with such innocence that he looked no older than twelve. White had guessed he was about five years older, give or take, but that would make him at least twenty. Cheren had guessed eighteen, and Bianca had gone the whole hog and said twenty-five, which was mildly disturbing and not something Black wanted to consider.

He was still holding N's hand, and when he came to senses and realised, he found N looking at him with such an impossible expression on his masked face that it actually frightened him. Just a little bit. N reached forward, slipping his hand out of Black's and resting his palm firmly against Black's chest. Black gasped at the contact, but didn't pull away.

"Your human heart," N mumbled, nodding to himself.

Black was certain that his human heart wasn't supposed to be beating this hard. Taking the white hand in both of his own, he pressed it against N's own chest.

Now it was N's turn to gasp. He touched Black's chest again, then went back to his own. Then he shuffled closer, so close he was almost sitting on Black's lap, and lay his right palm directly over Black's heart, and his left palm over his own.

"They're the same," he said.

"Y-Y-Yeah," Black agreed.

"Like a pokemon's."

"But you're nngh, n-not a pokemon."

"I know." N's olive-coloured eyes stared straight into Black's brown ones, and Black had to look away, because he knew N never broke first. He could watch him forever, and never feel like he was doing anything wrong. Slowly, N's hands reached out, and Black took him into his arms and rocked him gently back and forth until he was ready to let go. It took a long time. Black didn't mind.

Black didn't think it was possible for the words "I want to see you naked" to sound so un-pervy. He also wasn't expecting them to come from a misguided man-child. In his ideal world, the first person who wanted to see his bare body would be a certain dark-haired girl who he stalked for three years before she took pity on him and dated him for six months, then dumped him because she wanted to have a sexy phase before she turned eighteen, something involving jilted waitresses with affinities for aprons and frilly skirts. Black knew better than to hope for that, but he didn't think he was being too unreasonable to ask for a nice, mildly good-looking girl, at least.

Of course, N didn't mean it in a sexual way. Black wasn't sure the man had a sexual bone in his body, he was so innocent. So innocent it was dangerous.

Black wasn't sure if he was totally comfortable with the situation. It felt objectifying, to say the least, even though he knew N wouldn't understand if he tried to explain. Plus the whole concept of being naked in front of another man... sure, he had done it in the showers at school, but this was different. In the showers, his nakedness had been a secondary factor. The only thing that mattered was getting washed. Now, his body would be in the spotlight. Every freckle, every scar, every part of him that he hated would be on display. And N would want to look. Black imagined himself, laying on the bed, letting N observe his nakedness. Pushing him back, opening his legs like a book, those long fingers eager to touch, not understanding what it meant.

He felt a shudder run through him.

"No. N-No-no-no, I don't want to," he said, shaking his head firmly.

He expected at least a 'why?', but N simply nodded, got up – and started to undress.

It was such a shock that Black let out a bark of laughter. "W-What are you d-d-d-doing?" he asked, smiling and frowning at the same time.

"Since you don't want to show me your body, I'll show you mine instead, then you can just tell me if they're the same," N explained.

And Black knew he should've stopped him. He should've explained to N about the general consensus on nudity, and what it meant, and why he shouldn't do it. But then there was that face, and that smile, so pure and wanting, and Black said, "I-I'd b-b-better lock the d... d-door."

He sat on his bed and watched as N took off his clothes agonisingly slowly. The cap first, then the white overshirt. He dropped it carelessly at his feet. The long-sleeved black T-shirt underneath clung to his body like a second skin, and when he shed it, it was like watching a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. So delicate that Black felt he could crush him in one hand. So beautiful he would never want to.

Just as N was unzipping his pants (and taking his time about it), it struck Black that this wasn't a one-sided thing. It had never been a one-sided thing. Just as N was amazed by their similarities, Black was amazed by their differences. N's body was so unlike his, even though the broadness of his shoulders and the squareness of his hips were the same. His skin was pale, but not in the way other people were pale, not like Cheren, who still kept a faint, peachy wash over his skin. The wash on N's skin was a strange bluish-green, and even though Black knew it was probably just a trick of the light, reflecting off N's oak-green hair, it made N look so different, so special. Like he was from another planet. Black knew he shouldn't enjoy the sight of another man's body so much. But he couldn't tear his eyes away.

N hopped around on one foot as he took off his socks and deposited them on the floor beside his pants. His legs were so skinny, like twigs protruding from a normal-sized body. His arms were the same, frail, like the limbs of an insect. It was funny, seeing him hopping around on those twigs. Black snorted.

N froze, nervous fingers running back and forth over the elastic of his underwear. His face twisted into a look of confusion, as if he couldn't quite figure out why he had stopped. Black felt suddenly guilty. It wasn't fair of him, to let his own curiosity be satisfied, while N's was left to starve. And watching him like this, even at N's request, set a horrible feeling deep in his stomach. This wasn't who he was.

Black took off his cap. Unzipped his jacket. Threw off his T-shirt and pants before his mind had the chance to catch up with him and stop him filling his embarrassment quota for the year. He watched N as he fiddled with the top of his underwear. N mimicked him. Then, like jumping into cold water, he did it, and whipped them down and kicked them aside. A fleeting thought passed through his head, if this was a romance novel, this would be the part where they got down and dirty.

When he looked up he gasped, shut his eyes and stumbled back. N was already naked. The bed collided with the backs of his knees, making him sit down with a thump. Never in his life did he think he would find himself sitting stark-naked on his own bed, eye-to-eye with another, equally naked, man. And he was completely calm. Watching N's long, lean body, his pointy hips, his defined collarbone, his pink nipples hardening in the cool air – it felt normal. And Black, once he got over the initial odd feeling of the air lapping at his bare skin, didn't feel ashamed at all. The little nicks on his legs that he'd acquired climbing trees as a kid, the fine line of nut-brown hair that ran down his stomach from his navel, the slight fleshiness of his hips, all the things about his body that he'd hated suddenly didn't matter. He and N, they were both human. That was enough.

And then N broke. Gasping and trying, ineffectually, to hide himself with his stick-thin arms, he whirled around so that his back faced Black. Black kept staring, for a moment, noting how N's long, shaggy hair ended just above the small of his back, accentuating the two dimples above his buttocks.

"Don't look." His voice was tiny, pleading. And just like that, the spell was broken, and Black was suddenly all too aware of his own nakedness. Blushing furiously, he squirmed back into his underwear and T-shirt (he tried to put his head through the arm hole in his rush); he immediately felt safer. Ripping the sheet from the bed, he approached N's trembling form and wrapped it around him. N clung to it, and at the same time his legs buckled and he slumped. Black grabbed him as he crumbled, and lowered him gently to the floor, where he sat in a sad, shaking heap.

"Wh-What's wrong?" Black asked.

"Oh, Black," N whispered. Black wrapped an arm around his shoulder, and he squeaked. "Oh, Black. I feel strange."

"D-D-Do you want a d-drink? A-Are you sick?"

N kept shaking his head. His face was stained a bright beetroot red. "No. No. Don't touch me. I feel strange."

Black snatched his arm away. An awkward pause followed, and he began to wish he had picked up his pants, too, as looking down at his lap he decided the brown hair that coated his legs was far too dark against his skin. He plucked at it with chewed fingertips.

"Ow!" He hissed, and N snapped his head up to look at him. His face was still red, and his eyes smouldered with a wild anticipation, like those of a scared animal. Or a pokemon that felt threatened. Black laughed and scratched lazily at the reddening spot on his thigh. N smiled then, just a little.

"Sorry, I ruined it," he said. He paused. "There were the same. I thought they would be, since we're both males. Are female humans different, like pokemon?"

"W-Well, yeah, y-y-you can tell, they've got these..." Black trailed off, his hands cupped over imaginary breasts.

"Yes, the mammary glands. They produce milk which they expel through the teats for the nourishment of their offspring," N said.

Black laughed again, despite realising, with some disappointment, that he would never again be able to admire a beautiful cleavage without N's extremely unsexy description running through his head, in that quick, quiet voice. The colour faded back into N's knuckles as he loosened his grip on the front of the sheet, letting the material droop, exposing his chest.

"Why do human males have teats?" he asked. "I wanted to ask before. Male pokemon don't have them, they don't produce milk. Do we produce milk, Black?"

"N... no, we don't," Black said, his voice strained. He wasn't going to let himself laugh again.

"Then why do we have teats? It doesn't pertain to any form of logic." N pinched his nipple again, and whimpered. He blushed when he noticed Black's wandering eyes, and frowned. "Don't look."

"Sssorry," Black said quickly. "I-It'sssokay, we're both men." Which didn't make any sense even to Black's own ears, as the fact that they were both men would be a very good reason for most people to not do what they were doing.

N tried pinching his other nipple, and looked almost disappointed when it elicited the same response the previous one had. "It hurts a bit," he mused. "Don't look."

"Then d-do-don't d-do it," Black said irritably. "And you d-didn't seem to mmmind before."

"I changed my mind," N snapped, and Black sighed, figuring he was sinking into yet another of his moods. Shifting onto his knees, Black crawled behind N and, hooking his hands together against the nape of N's neck, he pulled the mass of hair free from the confines of the sheet. N's body jerked and curved backwards, and the sheet pulled tight against his back so that Black could see straight through it.

Black began to run his fingers idly through the knotted green jungle, admiring how tangled it was, and yet how smooth. Black's hair looked awful tangled – matted and dry. He twisted the thick hair into a rope and pulled it back, exposing N's long, slender neck. A deep flush spread down it, and, knowing N was embarrassed, Black stopped.

It made him feel almost ill, to know N was no longer commanding the situation. Black was no longer indulging the whims of a child, he was succumbing to them, and making the game his own.

There had to be a law against that, he decided. He'd never felt more paedophilish in all his life, and that wasn't even a word, so he knew he wasn't thinking straight.

Of course, N still wanted Black to sleep with him that night, as they'd gotten into the habit of doing. He liked to tuck his head under Black's chin and rest his head on his chest. And Black, so accustomed to giving into to his every demand, invented a feeble excuse to let him sleep in his own bed, away from N.

N held himself back after that. He still liked Black to sleep with him and hug him and, sometimes, hold his hand when he felt lonely or scared, and Black obeyed, because he knew it was nothing personal, and had nothing to do with him as a person, male or otherwise. N had been so deprived of human contact for so long. All this touchy-feely business was just making up for lost time, and Black was on the receiving end for no other reason than that he was the first person who had ever reached out to N.

For some reason, that thought made him a little sad.

He decided he wanted to spend as much time with N as he possibly could, before N was ready to venture out into human society and do something normal with his life that didn't include stealing and building huge underground castles that were spring-loaded for shock value. Black knew he couldn't keep him all to himself forever, though he would've liked to. He could probably make a living out of his skills raising pokemon. Maybe he could be a teacher. He definitely had the lecturing skills.

It wouldn't be the same, going home without N. His room would seem too big without a second person, and his floor too bare without the futon taking up all the room. When he started teaching N about all the choices he had in life, with every word, the gap he felt in his chest grew bigger, like picking at a loose thread until it unravelled into a huge, gaping hole. He was being overemotional, he told himself. N was his friend – he supposed he would call him his friend – he would see him again.

Maybe this was how an older brother felt, watching the kid they'd teased and taken care of grow up and stop needing him.

When N slipped his hand into Black's, Black could never force down the flicker of hope that maybe N would never stop needing him.

Summer came around, and Black's mom took him aside and asked in a quiet, clipped voice when N was intending to leave. Black had been vague about it, and she had tapped him on the head with a spatula and told him fine, but just a few more weeks. Black didn't reply. He knew she would never put her foot down with him. Since when did she mind anything her dearest baby Blackberry did?

Summer in Numeva was the same as ever, warm and moist and full of midges. N loved it. He loved going out at night, sometimes as late as ten, when it was still warm and light, and the clouds brushed across the darkening sky, purple and silver and grey, and rippling like the scales of a fish. He would look up at the sky and spin around and around until he fell over on the grass, where he would roll back and forth, giggling.

He and Black would lie there, side by side until the clouds blew over and the stars crept out of the velvet sky to wink at them. Black took him to the thin white strip of sandy beach along Route One, and N marvelled at the feel of sand in his shoes. And T-shirt and pants and even his cap after he rolled around in it. Black watched him, laying stretched out on his back, exhausted after shaking himself like a dog, and thought that maybe letting N into his life hadn't been such a terrible idea after all. He'd always been looking for his one good thing to come along and find him. Maybe he could make his good thing happen instead. Maybe he already had.

He sat down next to N. He could put up with a few fistfuls of sand rubbing around in his underwear for a while, though he'd probably have a rash tomorrow. Typical, he thought, if N were to ask to see him naked again that day.

He flopped down on his back and landed heavier than he expected to, making himself cough. N glanced at him, and reached out his hand. Black smiled and took it in his own, linking their fingers together. Their hands fit together so well. N's fingers were so long and slender, and Black looked positively clumsy in comparison, but those long fingers held onto him so tightly, and those those olive eyes looked at him so intently that for one impossible moment Black felt like he was nothing less than perfect. He wanted to stay there forever. With N. Holding his hand, laying on the same beach, looking up at the same sky.

N rolled over to rest his head on Black's outstretched arm, and Black got a face full of sandy hair. He leapt forward, spluttering and rubbing his eyes, and N let out an annoyed little grunt before settling his head on Black's lap instead.

When he recovered from the cruel sand-attack, Black leaned back, propping himself up on one hand while the other curled a lock of N's hair around its forefinger.

"Black," N whispered.

"Yeah?" Black gazed down at the man on his lap. It was quiet; only the gentle song of the waves and N's hushed voice. It was so calm, so good, he wanted to freeze time and then fall asleep in N's arms and not wake up for a long, long time. Oh yeah. Hibernation sounded very tempting right about now.

N gripped the hand that was playing with his hair. "I feel strange," he said. "I feel so strange."

"Why?"

"I don't know." N buried his face in Black lap and let out a long, high-pitched moan. Then he sat up and didn't turn around, keeping his back to Black. "A-Are we f-friends?" he asked.

Black chuckled under his breath. "O-O-Of course we are," he said.

"Oh," N said. He began to fidget. "I-I've never... Y-You're my f-first human f-f-friend. I'm happy. I l-like you."

Black smiled bitterly. "Y-You only like me beca-a-ause I'm the f-f-first person who was n-nice to you out here."

"That's n-not t-true!" N said.

"Y-Yes it is. And why are you t-talking like that?"

N frowned and looked away. "I thought you'd like it if I spoke like you," he said sulkily. "The pokemon... they like it when I speak like them."

"I-I-I don't like it."

"I'm sorry," N said. "I just thought..."

He sniffed and wiped his nose on the back of his hand, and Black's stomach lurched. He didn't want him to start crying again. He hadn't cried in such a long time.

"Other people are nice to me, and I don't like them. I only like you," N mumbled, and Black sighed.

"That's n-not a go-o-od thing, you know," he muttered, letting himself smile just a little bit. He raised his arm. "C-Come here."

N's eyes lit up, though he tried to hide it. He shuffled over to Black and cuddled up to him, pushing him back on the sand so that they were laying down. Black's wrapped his arms around his shoulders and held him tight. He smelled of grass, from all that rolling he'd done earlier. Black liked it.

"I'm sorry, Black," he said. "I asked to see you naked before. I knew it was wrong but I pretended not to. I'm sorry."

"D-Don't d-do it again," Black sighed, not really listening, not really caring. He should have cared, but he'd been through worse, he was tired, he was comfortable, and the words 'I'm leaving you for a busty, bare-legged waitress' hadn't popped up yet.

"I liked it when you touched me," N said quietly, and Black opened his eyes. Propping himself up on his arms, N blinked at him, almost pleadingly. He kept licking his lips, his pointy tongue flicking out like a wet, pink knife, and Black wondered whether it would cut him. "You can do it again. If you want."

Black let his head drop back onto the sand and tightened the arm that he draped over N's shoulders. N nuzzled his nose into his chest. "Don't you want to?" he asked, his voice muffled by Black's jacket, and Black rolled his eyes and gave N's bottom a firm squeeze.

N yelped and hid his face. "Don't!"

"You t-t-told me to," Black pointed out, squeezing him again, and sliding a hand up the back of N's shirt.

"Eek! Oh, no! No, please don't!" N writhed like a snake, shifting back on his elbows but leaving his knees where they were so that his butt stuck comically up in the air. "Stop!"

"I don't want to." But he withdrew his hands anyway, because N's skin was so soft and nobody had ever touched it before, and he couldn't just take it, he wanted N to give it to him, and this really wasn't the sort of thing 'just friends' did. He rolled over so that he was laying above N, looking down at him and the way his hair spilled out around his head, and the way his cheeks were glowing pink, and the way he was scowling at him without any real anger.

"You're so mean to me," N huffed. "Even though I said I liked you."

"I-I-I still d-don't believe you," Black said teasingly, and N leaned up and gave him a little peck on the lips. Black stared for a moment, then bit his lip and looked up, doing his best to look thoughtful. "Hmm. I-I'm still not convinced."

"I've changed my mind, I don't like you any more," N said, and Black grinned and hooked his hands around the back of N's neck, sliding his fingers through his hair and cupping his head. Tilting his head forward, Black kissed his forehead and vowed to go no further. He was achingly aware of how wrong this was supposed to feel. N was so innocent, he was practically a child.

"H-How old are you?" he asked nervously.

"Twenty-one," N replied. Black groaned and buried his face in the curve between N's neck and shoulder, making N shiver. Oh well. He couldn't have everything. Legally, there was nothing wrong with what they were doing... At least now he didn't have to feel so bad about being pedo-y, because they were both kind of pedo-y now. It wasn't like he was going to turn into a sexual deviant overnight.

"It's getting cold," N murmured.

"Yeah. W-We should get b-back."

"Will you sleep with me?"

Of course, it was going to be very difficult not to feel even slightly devious when N came out with inappropriate lines like that all the time. But, Black supposed, it was okay. N's words were entirely innocent, just like his affection for Black was entirely innocent. He didn't want anything from Black. He just wanted Black.

And Black couldn't help being just a little disappointed, because N's skin was so smooth and white, and a part of him wanted to touch him more. It came with being a hormone-addled teenager, he wasn't horny, but damn if that skin hadn't felt good. And when he laid next to N on the futon, he couldn't resist running a finger along the exposed slice of skin that ran between N's shirt and pants.

N clutched his arm. "Um," he whispered. "Just a little bit, okay?"

And Black stopped stroking and just held him. "H-Hey," he said. "Just a y-year and two mmmonths until I'm eighteen."

"What's that supposed to mean?" N asked naively.

"If you s...till like me by then, I'll k-kiss you," Black replied.

"Really?"

"Yeah. B-But not until then. Ssso... you grow up a bit, okay?"

"I'm already grown up. You can do it now!" N launched at Black, trying to catch his lips with his own, but Black ducked under the duvet and tackled him, tipping him onto his back so that he could rest his head on his chest. He could hear his heart – his human heart – beating, so loudly.

"When you're eighteen... would you... touch my b-butt again?" N asked, his hands clutching the back of Black's nightshirt. Black chuckled under his breath, and N let out a tiny squeak of embarrassment and wrapped his long legs around Black, too. "And... my teats."

"Y-You mean these?" Black pinched both of N's nipples and rolled them between his fingers. N wailed and held him so tight that it hurt. Black tugged teasingly with his left hand. "They're c-called nipples, on hu-umans."

He didn't think N was listening, he was too busy digging his sharp fingers into Black's back and whimpering "Oh, oh, oh" over and over.

"Please stop, please stop," he begged, and Black did, and dug his way out of the duvet to look at N. His eyes were sparkling, like he was about to burst into tears.

"Come on," Black said. "L-Let's go to sleep."

"Okay," N agreed. Pause. "Black?"

"Yes?"

"C-Can I still touch you? Before you're eighteen?"

"No."

"Oh."

"...Can I hug you?"

"Y-Yes."

And N kept holding him, still tightly, but it didn't hurt any more. In fact, it felt nice. Safe and wanted. Like all things, he had no doubt that his promise to N would return to bite him on the ass someday, but maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. Or maybe it could turn into something good. Eighteen and twenty-three sounded a lot better together than sixteen and twenty-one... and the whole fruity, faggoty, ew-you-take-it-up-the-back-end thing, well – it was the twenty-first century. Who even cared about that any more? As loathe as he was to admit it, White had looked pretty damn hot paired up with that inappropriately-dressed waitress. The way she would pull her onto her lap when they sat down had every man in the room falling over themselves to catch a glimpse.

Black was comfortable enough with his sexuality to sleep beside another man. In a year and two months, he'd probably be comfortable enough to admit he loved him.

I started writing this feeling undecided on Black/N, and now that I've finished, I ship it. I love writing N so much! He is very childish though, so I didn't think it would be right for Black to be completely unaffected by that. I knew I wanted to get them together (sort of) in the end, though, so I think their agreement to wait a year worked. I couldn't really think of a better way to resolve it.

Sorry if Black's stutter got annoying to read – I just can't imagine him not having one, which might be a bit weird! All my takes on Black have stutters. And N is such a sweetheart, he cries so much in the manga. I love the idea of him forcing Black into things and then being the one to back out. Also he has sensitive nipples because he's just adorable like that.

(Now, back to what I should be doing...)