Chapter Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Asami/Akihito

Spoilers: No spoilers, but this is sometime soonish post Escape and Love.

Contains: a bit of silliness

Summary: Meeting the Takabas.

Disclaimer: These characters belong to Yamane Ayano, not me.

Life really didn't make sense sometimes.

The last two hours had passed almost in a daze for Akihito, once the initial nerve-jangling introductions had been gotten past. He had watched Asami effortlessly woo both his parents. There really was no other word for it

Cool as a cucumber Asami had charmed them blind. Akihito could barely stop himself from gaping every time he watched him smile. The thing was, Asami's behavior was altered only a little if one were to weigh and measure each individual action that made up the sum of his parts.

It was true Asami had smiled a bit more often, and not sardonic grins, not smirks, but then they weren't teeth gleaming toothpaste ad smiles either. And they were still rare enough that they made Akihito's chest thud heavily when they were doled out to himself or his parents. Still, there was no blatant dazzling going on. It was more subtle than that.

The air of leashed menace that surrounded Asami was somehow tamped down, leaving only an aura of quiet power and steadiness that was both mesmerizing and alluring. How could Asami transform himself so smoothly to this comparatively approachable and utterly perplexing person. And why?

Akihito didn't even understand his own reaction to Asami's efforts. All he knew was that it was confusing as hell; producing an aching sort of tightness in his chest he couldn't explain.

"And that business with Momohara Ai," his mother was saying to Asami as she settled tea things on the low table. "Surely, you can understand why I worry. He's always been so headstrong and impulsive, just like his father."

"Ah, but you can't blame all of that on me. He's too big-hearted," his father interjected with jovial heartiness, "just like his mother. He's always gotten drawn into other people's scrapes, even as a child."

They both wore looks of fond exasperation as they glanced at Akihito, mixed with not a little pride. Asami gave them a small smile of commiseration as Akihito squirmed uncomfortably.

"Yes, it's a combination that concerns me as well. I admire his spirit, though he is stubborn to a fault. It seems he's always ready to cast common sense to the wind when he gets an idea into his head."

Akihito's mother nodded vigorously. "You do understand. If you knew how many times I stayed up late when he was younger, waiting for him to come home from who knows where."

"Mom!" Akihito fought back the embarrassment of being discussed like he was still a wayward child, his voice rising in indignation. "That was a long time ago. I've grown up since then."

Asami met his gaze for a moment, his face straight, but the flash of amusement Akihito saw in his eyes made his own eyes narrow. This was so not fair. Asami should be the one feeling uncomfortable, not him.

"Well, well," his mother said with a placating tone, reach across the table to pat Akihito's hand, "you'll always be my sweet little boy."

Akihito groaned, while Asami and his father looked on, lips twitching. His mother really was killing him here.

"It seems like only yesterday you were climbing into my lap to beg for a story, claiming Mr. Bunny wouldn't take his nap without one."

"Mr. Bunny?"

In defeat, Akihito slumped over the table to hide his reddening cheeks as Asami chuckled.

"Oh, that was Akihito's prized possession. He never let Mr. Bunny out of his sight and slept with him every night until he was-"

"Mom." Akihito's strangled plea was met with a bemused stare from his mother, as if she were actually bewildered by his humiliation.

"It's nothing to be ashamed of. You were so darling. I've got a picture of the two of you somewhere..." She made as if to get up, but Akihito sat up and lunged for her wrist.

"Wait! I-I wanted to ask what you and Dad are doing these days now that he's retired."

It was a transparent and desperate attempt to change the topic, but whatever worked. His father lit up, while his mother made a face, settling back down on her pillow.

"Ah, I've been wanting to talk to you about it, Akihito!"

He leaned toward Akihito and launched into a discussion of photographic techniques and the latest camera models. After a moment, he excused himself with a sheepish smile and pulled Akihito away to look at his latest acquisition.

Akihito's mother sighed and looked ruefully at Asami. "I was hoping to avoid this topic. They can go on for hours."

"It's interesting to see where Akihito gets his passion for photography."

"Yes, Akihito reminds me so much of his father when he was young. Jun never pursued photography professionally, but he was on the University paper back in school, and even once he'd graduated he managed to get into more than one mess."

Asami raised an eyebrow in interest.

"The National University struggles, the worker's movement, anti-war protests, all those sorts of things were happening then, and Jun couldn't keep away. Somehow he always found himself right in the middle of it, clicking away with his cameras, coming home with bruises and scrapes more often than not."

"Sounds like someone I know."

"Yes. Akihito has always been rash and headstrong, but he's a good boy." Her demeanor seemed to change as she regarded Asami steadily, her eyes searching his face. "And his father is right, he does have a big heart. He has a lot to give."

"Yes," Asami answered simply, returning her stare unwaveringly.

Whatever she saw seemed to satisfy her, and she nodded slightly. "I do worry about him. I know that he'll always jump headfirst into life. I don't want him to change that. He loves it so much. Feels so much. I always admired that in his father. But..." she hesitated, "he needs someone to ground him, I think. That was why when my friend suggested an omiai I agreed."

She studied Asami's face again. "He told you about that, yes?"

Expression neutral, Asami nodded once.

"I wasn't completely surprised about his reason for refusing, to be honest. It was...a possibility I had considered."

"You seem remarkably," Asami paused a moment, "accepting."

"He is my son. His happiness means everything to me."

Once again, Asami dipped his head, this time in acknowledgement of the depth of feeling and meaning behind her words, understanding better what had nurtured Akihito's generosity of spirit. The lines of his face remained impassive as he raised his gaze again, but his eyes met hers with an undeniable intensity.

"Please rely on me."

Her eyes widened a bit at that, her expression warming again. The corners of her mouth lifted as she asked, "Does he?"

"Ah." Asami mirrored the slight smile. "Not if he can help it."

Her light peal of laughter drew the curious looks of Akihito and his father, but she waved them off and leaned to pour Asami fresh tea. "On the surface, the two of you seem very different, but I wonder. Is it your opposite qualities that attract or some hidden similarities?"

The remark was teasing, almost too familiar given their short acquaintance, but there was no sense of true prying. Somehow it only heightened the rapport that had by nature or design flourished between them. It made him thoughtful. Still, he was not prepared for deep analysis over those matters at the present. He'd spent more than enough solitary time trying to pinpoint those sorts of answers himself.

Instead, Asami allowed his smile to widen slightly. "There was a discussion of a mid-life crisis on the drive over. Perhaps it's something that can't be quantified or categorized."

She tilted her head, a look of curious amusement shading her features. "Such a crisis usually comes when one realizes something is missing from their life."

For a moment, the simple statement gave Asami pause, a tension creeping into his shoulders. It took him a moment to collect his words, and when they came he spoke uncharacteristically slowly. "I never felt that anything was missing."

They regarded each other over the cooling tea, and Asami continued, almost as if forcing himself to speak honestly. "But now," the words fell reluctantly between them. "If..."

After a moment, she reached over to pat his hand, just as she had Akihito. "No need to speak of ifs. Best to keep your mind on what is, especially when it involves Akihito."

Her hand drew back, and Asami relaxed imperceptibly, falling back into conventional social patterns. "Truer words have never been spoken."

He looked over then at Akihito, whose eyes were large and curious and also flickering with uncertainty as he met Asami's gaze. A compelling blush shaded his cheekbones as their eyes held, and it was obvious that whatever his father had just been saying had totally escaped him. Akihito offered him a tentative smile, and it was all Asami could do to keep his seat and not cross the room and savage the boy's mouth with his own. As it was, it felt as if a hand had reached into his chest and squeezed. A crisis indeed.

Much later, riding in the limo again because Asami had wanted a sleepy Akihito curled up next to him, Asami pondered his motives for making this trip, idly wondering if Akihito really believed he had done it solely for their negotiated three week deal. His thoughts turned outward, though, as Akihito stirred drowsily next to him.

"You really must be a devil, Asami." Akihito's surly pout really was too cute. "I mean, how else did you get my parents to ask you to call them Mother and Father on your very first meeting?"

"It's called charm and manners, Akihito. Try it sometime. Anyway, you should be happy."

Akihito snorted, and Asami tugged him closer, ruffling a hand through his hair.

"You're never satisfied. Ungrateful brat." The indulgent tone softened the words, and Akihito burrowed contentedly into his side, probably because he couldn't see the smirk that now shaped Asami's mouth.

"Comfortable, Akihito? Feel free to take a nap. Or can you not without Mr. Bunny?"

He chuckled and drew Akihito closer as he tried to squirm away, curses muffled against his chest.

"Now now. Don't get upset. I've got something you can cuddle up to all night and even call Mr. Bunny if you want."

Akihito's eyes glared through his tousled bangs as he looked up at Asami. "You really are a sick-"

His lips cut off Akihito's words. He'd heard it all before anyway, and he was sure to again. After all, he had him exactly where he wanted him now. He deepened the kiss almost without volition, threading his fingers through Akihito's hair and tugging him close until Akihito moaned sweetly against his lips.

Asami counted it as a small victory that he didn't even have to remind Akihito of their deal to get him shed of his clothes and sprawled out wantonly on the leather seat and staring up at him with gratifying neediness; an appetite to match his own. He didn't think Akihito was thinking of their deal either when he looked up at him with naked emotion, his eyes speaking things that might never be voiced as he spread his thighs and arched up with tender lust. Spoken or not, it didn't matter.

This boy was his, despite what noises of denial he might sometimes make, despite the freedom Asami gave him to run loose when he needed. Akihito was his. Nothing would ever stand in his way or keep him from holding on to what he desired.