Chapter two

It turned out Morinaga needn't have worried about an uneasy day avoiding Senpai's wrath; when he got to the lab he found that the man had adopted his usual "maybe if I act like nothing happened this will all go away" approach. As a result the morning passed quite uneventfully, although Senpai did seem to be taking particular care to avoid all physical contact between them.

Hmm, Morinaga grumbled to himself, spreading bacterial cultures onto agar plates with a little more force than was necessary, the level of caution Senpai exhibited towards him really was positively offensive, it wasn't like he has no sense of self control. Sure he made the occasional slip up, but considering what he had to deal with on a daily basis that was perfectly understandable, right?

"Mind how you handle those!" Senpai commanded from across the room, interrupting his thought process. "Oh yeah, right. Sorry." Morinaga mumbled, startled. He'd almost forgotten; the next few days were the time for the dreaded grant assessment process, which meant that he and Senpai could expect an assessor to burst into their lab at any moment, and begin determining exactly how much funding their research deserved to get from the university for the next year.

Senpai had always regarded the procedure as some form of personal affront; but after a few seasons of carrying out his work in ill-fated labs, with equipment that might have been half-decent ten years ago, he'd grudgingly resolved to swallow his pride and play it by the rules.

As a result the two of them were currently in 'red alert' mode, which meant no sloppy cultures, no disorganized notes, and absolutely no mess. Morinaga sighed, he had to agree with Senpai on this one, it seemed like a needlessly stressful way of doing things, when they could have just been given a fixed time for their assessment instead. It was a system that could probably be traced back to some bitter, high-ranking associate, with a cheating wife and a grudge against the world to settle, he thought to himself.

Morinaga glanced towards the door, and jumped, it was slowly swinging open. But rather than the assessor, it was a kitten that came in. He blinked in surprise, animals were strictly forbidden from the labs, and since their fellow researchers valued their jobs, this rule was generally adhered to.

"Shit! Get it out, GET OUT YOU PEST!" Senpai, who had spotted the intruder, hollered from his corner in the lab, waving his arms at the kitten. It froze at this blare of noise, then hissed, its fur bristling, and dashed across the lab. Morinaga, sensing calamity made a wild grab at it, but missed and could only watch in horror as the kitten pounced onto one of the work benches.

A series of crashes filled the room as a pile of neatly stacked cultures on the bench were sent flying across the lab. The sound of smashing glass was still dying away when Senpai broke into a stream of heated cursing, his voice resounding around the room and making the windows quake. Morinaga edged away from the man hastily, he knew from past experience that Senpai liked to deal with his rage by causing serious injury to those around him.

Right on cue Senpai lunged at the creature with a raised fist, but uncowed, the kitten responded with a hiss and swiped its claws back at Senpai.

To Morinaga's surprise the kitten came out on top, and managed to leave a line of deep scratches in Senpai's arm, before fleeing unscathed to another corner of the room. Senpai clutched at his arm, howling.

Then to add to the confusion, a young man came wheezing into the room.

He was very tall, and the sleeves of his oversized lab coat had been rolled up haphazardly. "Ergh, YOU!" Gasped Senpai, "Your - it's….don't" he stuttered wildly "we're… we're not always this messy!" The man looked momentarily bewildered at this outburst, then spotted the kitten, and with a look of profound relief hurried past Senpai towards it. "Ah, yes that's it. That made the mess, but it's not ours! And it was perfectly clean just before…. It really was." Senpai followed the man across the room, gesturing wildly.

Morinaga could feel a smile growing on his face as he stepped towards the pair, "Hey, Senpai. I don't think this is the Assessor…." He interjected, and then turned to the man, who was busy cuddling the kitten against him and looked like he'd missed most of what Senpai was sprouting at him. "Good afternoon." Morinaga said "I'm Tetsuhiro Morinaga, and this is Souichi Tatsumi….."

The man met his eyes, his own crinkled in confusion, they were a soft brown color, "Assessor?" He asked. "The research funding Assessor." Morinaga clarified. "Oh" the man's eyes widened slightly in comprehension, "No, that's not me at all, don't worry." He turned hastily to address Senpai too as he spoke.

"Wait a minute!" Senpai raised a hand to seize control of the conversation. "Then who the hell are you?" he demanded, his voice growing testy, "What are you doing in my lab?"

"Ah, sorry, I'm Kurijima Takeo, I work in the chemistry lab on the floor below" the man explained, "I was just trying to find this little scoundrel…." Then his voice trailed as he seemed to finally take in his surroundings, his eyes widened almost comically as they swept over the piles of shattered glass, and puddles of slime in varying consistencies, that were strewn across the room. "Oh! I'm so sorry," he gasped, looking at them both in shock. "Ah, I'm such an idiot, please let me help, I can help… somehow!"

He looked so genuinely upset that Morinaga felt any resentment within him melt away. He opened his mouth to offer some form of reassurance, but was cut short by Senpai, who grabbed him wildly by the shoulders and wrenched him around to face him. "Idiot, can't you see. THEIR TRYING TO SABOTAGE US." Senpai muttered thunderously, giving Morinaga a shake to punctuate every word. Although this was meant to be a whisper Morinaga could tell that Takeo had overheard, and bit his lip, feeling bad for the other man.

"Wait no, that's really not it at all," Takeo gasped, reaching out a hand to grab at Senpai's sleeve as he spoke, then thinking better of his action and retracting it. "The kitten, I was hiding it" he continued hastily "it was lost outside the building, so I thought I'd look after it for the day, but then it escaped. I've been searching all over the building for it for the last half hour."

Morinaga didn't absorb much of this, as he was currently trying very hard not to swoon into the arms of Senpai, who was still holding him. Unfortunately Senpai seemed to sense this after glancing over at his face, and shoved him away violently, his already lived expression worsening.

Shooting out his arms to avoid tumbling over, Morinaga directed his focus back on the matter at hand. Apparently Senpai hadn't taken in much of the man's explanation either though, as he was currently looming over Takeo, causing the man to quail visibly despite his superior build. "So, you thought you'd send in your evil minion to do your dirty work did you? Destroy our lab so you could steal all the funding? Come on, fess up!" He jabbed a finger at the Takeo's chest.

Takeo, who looked a little put out at being ignored, frowned and squared his shoulders. "Look, I really am sorry! But you're being ridiculous." He said, rising to his full height as he spoke and tilting his head down to hold Senpai's gaze.

Senpai's eyes brows drew together furiously and his hands clenched into fists, seeking to avert a blood bath Morinaga sprang towards him and caught hold of both his hands in his, gripping tightly. "Um, Senpai, just wait a minute, ok" he wheedled. "Hey…..wha…" Senpai began to protest, then trailed off distracted, his eyes fixed on their knotted hands. Morinaga felt his heart give a joyful squeeze, which was closely followed by a feeling of sharp pain, as Senpai wrenched out of his grasp and wacked him soundly around the head. "Idiot" he fumed as he did so, "you CANT just go doing that whenever one of your urges take hold, it's not…..."

The rest of Senpai's rant was cut short as he suddenly remembered their audience, and his face flamed red as he spun around to look at Takeo, and then even redder when he realized the man was watching them closely, intrigued. "Anyway" he spluttered hastily, "what the hell is this if it's not a sabotage attempt, huh?"

Takeo reverted back to looking guilty, "Ahh…. I didn't mean for her to come into your lab, really!" he stroked the kitten distractedly as he spoke "She's not even mine actually, I just saw her outside this morning, and I was worried she'd get hurt or something if I left her, so I brought her in. Even though we're not supposed to…."

"Oh" said Senpai, calming down a little at the explanation, "but still, you should have been more careful. If you sneak in an animal, you should at least keep a close eye on it!" The man nodded balefully, "I know, you're completely right, if the Assessor comes in I'll take full responsibility. Also please allow me to help clean up today, and since that's really not enough, how about I come in and help you both around the lab in the evenings for the next few weeks?"

Senpai looked a little taken aback at this, and waved the other man away with a hand dismissively "that's not necessary." But Takeo's expression had turned stubborn and he crossed his arms, "really, I insist" Senpai gave him an irritated look, but after glancing around his destruction filled lab changed his mind and shrugged. "Fine, I that's what you want, then I guess it's your choice, but please take that creature away before it causes any more damage to my lab."

However the 'creature,' doing its utmost to undermine Senpai, had transformed into a purring ball of fluff, oozing innocence. Morinaga gazed at it with wide eyes, so cute! He heard Takeo laugh, and looked up to see the man watching him with a good natured smile. "So, she's won you over with her charms too, has she?" Senpai made a choking sound from his corner of the room, but Takeo ignored him, "Do you want to mind her while I help clean up?" he asked. Morinaga's face shone with excitement as he nodded, and in a moment the kitten had been placed into his arms, where it promptly fell asleep.

Morinaga had just edged over to a stool in the corner of the lab when it occurred to him that he really should be helping with the clean-up, he shot a guilty look at Senpai, who was regarding him with the utmost disgust. "Senpai, I'm sorry, you want me to help don't you?" Said Morinaga, rising from his seat as he spoke, but after hesitating momentarily, Senpai merely raised an eyebrow at him and rolled his eyes, "forget about it moron, just make sure that menace doesn't escape again ok." Morinaga nodded happily and tightened his arms around the kitten, then dipping his head down he glanced up at Senpai through his eyelashes, and safe in the knowledge that his face was hidden by his hair, settled down to watch his idol stomp about the lab.


Souichi glanced at Morinaga snuggled up with the cat and frowned; he really didn't see anything to warrant the warm look Takeo was giving them, it wasn't like Morinaga was being cute, maybe if he'd been a girl….. But as a guy he just looked like an idiot. Seriously, the rate at which the last shreds of his masculinity were disappearing was worrying. Souichi frowned to himself suspiciously, maybe that was Morinaga's plan, to confuse him by acting so girly that Souichi would forget he was actually a man. He wouldn't put it past the guy to try something that sneaky.

It didn't take too long to clear the glass from around the room, but growing the cultures again was going to be a hassle. He glared at Takeo, who was currently chatting to Morinaga about his research while wiping slime off the walls, there was something about that man that grated on his nerves, he couldn't quite put his figure on it though. His eyes narrowed slightly as Takeo chuckled at some comment Morinaga made, hmm that's what it was, the man was just too genuinely, disgustingly nice!

He'd always had an instinctual misgiving towards people who were too openly friendly; there was something fake about them, and though he didn't like to admit it, it didn't help that they made him look bad in comparison. Not that all friendly people pissed him off, most of him family were like that, and Morinaga…

After a few hours of vigorous cleaning Souichi glanced around the lab and found that it was almost free of mess. "Well, it looks like we're done." he said, giving the bench a final spray with disinfectant as he spoke. They'd been lucky, the assessor hadn't decided to visit their lab during the day. He glanced up at Takeo, who gave him an awkward smile, "I really am incredibly sorry about this….." the man said. Souichi repressed an eye roll, honestly he'd lost count of the number of times he'd been told that over the last few hours. "Look, they're both asleep" Takeo added, nodding towards the corner of the room. He was right, Morinaga had slumped against the wall with his eyes squeezed shut and arms curled around the kitten, breathing gently. Much to his own disgust Souichi could feel his chest grow a little tighter as he watched them. Ergh, that was probably just due to sleep deprivation and a tiring day though, he told himself firmly.

Takeo tiptoed towards the pair, and Souichi watched as he leaned down over Morinaga and gently pried the kitten from his arms. The tightness in his chest suddenly constricted into a sharp throb. Hmm, maybe he was stressed or something too?

He frowned as Takeo made his way to the door, "Goodbye" the man said, "shall I come at about four tomorrow to help repay my debt?" "You know that really won't be necessary!" Senpai protested, his voice sounding sulkier than he'd intended. The man just smiled at him "Like I said before, I insist. And please tell Morinaga goodbye for me when he wakes up" With that Takeo slipped out the door, Gaa, what an annoying man, Souichi grumbled to himself, running a hand through his hair, couldn't he see that he wasn't wanted! How on earth would having some random person bumbling around their lab possibly help him and Morinaga to work better?

It had grown dark outside, and was definitely time to go home. Souichi looked down at Morinaga, who seemed pretty worn out, with large, dark stains around his eyes. He felt strangely guilty at the thought of disturbing him, but really that was just too bad, it wasn't like Souichi was going to carry him home or anything.

"Hey! Morinaga, WAKE UP!" he barked sternly. "Huh…oh, hey…" mumbled Morinaga, blinking up at him. Then his face broke into a grin, "did I really fall asleep? I'm so sorry Senpai, wanna go back to our place now?"

Souichi scowled, honestly that man was far too fond of using words such as 'our home' or 'our place' or on one horrendous occasion, "the love nest." He'd made sure that Morinaga never tried that one again, breaking several assault laws in the process, but in the context he felt that his actions had been perfectly justified…..

"Fine" he snapped, and stalked out of the lab, the sounds of Morinaga stumbling over his own feet in his effort to keep up followed him …such an idiot, reflected Souichi with a sigh.


Morinaga glanced up at Senpai as he finished drying the last of the dishes. The man was currently sprawled across the couch watching T.V. with his thin legs thrust out at different angles, and his hair twisted around his neck and shoulders. Morinaga swallowed unconsciously as he went over and perched on the couch besides Senpai, who shifted to move a little further away, but otherwise ignored him.

They stayed like that for some time, just watching the reality show that was playing. Senpai pulled out a cigarette and lit it, dragging on it absentmindedly. Breathing in the familiar smoke Morinaga felt a pang of nostalgia, and a powerful urge to pull Senpai into his arms.

Which was a bad idea, he reminded himself. Taking advantage of the situation when Senpai lowered his guard tended to result in a couple of solid punches, followed by a period of sulking, and there was no reason to suppose this time would be any different. But the show was getting progressively less interesting compared to Senpai's face, and Morinaga could feel himself staring at the other man. Senpai fidgeted, but continued to watch the T.V. determinedly for a while, before giving up and shooting him a suspicious glare. "What?" he snapped.

"Hmm, nothing" mumbled Morinaga, but his voice sounded alarmingly husky even to his own ears. Senpai froze, stared at him for a moment, and then stated to edge away across the sofa. Morinaga leaned forward without thinking, and with a worried exclamation Senpai made a spring from the sofa, but somehow got tangled in Morinaga's legs in the process, and tumbled right into his lap.

Morinaga gasped as the air was knocked out of him, one of Senpai's elbows had slammed into his chest, causing it to throb painfully. He took a deep breath to steady himself, and promptly forgot all about his discomfort as Senpai's scent washed through him.

All coherent thought gone, Morinaga felt his hands sweep up Senpai's back of their own volition. "Hey" Senpai started to protest, but Morinaga cut him off, and knowing he was probably pushing by his luck, leaned in to silenced the man's spluttering with his lips.

Senpai gave a little gasp of surprise, and Morinaga used the opportunity to side his tongue into the other mans mouth, swallowing the noise greedily. He bit down on Senpai's lower lip, and then stroked the other mans tongue with his, coaxing it. Senpai splayed a hand against his chest, trying to push him away, but it was a weak attempt. Morinaga's heart pounded as he felt Senpai's fingers hesitate, then slowly start to move across his chest.

Face flushed, Morinaga reached up and gently removed the other mans glasses, then fumbled to put them down out of the way without breaking his contact with Senpai's lips. He moaned as Senpai's hands gradually moved to twist in his hair, and then suddenly the man was kissing him back.

Morinaga felt a charge run through his body, causing his skin to break out in goose bumps; his hands reached out blindly and caressed Senpai's face. Running across his cheeks and stroking through his silver hair. Smoothing along his shoulders and then down to clasp around his waist.

He felt Senpai tremble slightly, and in a daze Morinaga dug his fingers into the man's hips, which drew out an unexpectedly hungry moan.

Then Senpai wrenched himself away abruptly, and giving Morinaga a resounding slap across the face, flopped down onto the floor, panting angrily.

"I. DON'T. WANT. YOU. TO. TOUCH. ME! GOT IT?" he exploded, then after pausing to control his breathing he continued to snarl at Morinaga, "I hate how bloody selfish you are." his voice sounded raw, and strangly pained.

Morinaga hung his head, waiting for Senpai to hit him like usual, and then storm off to carry out the customary period of resentful sulking in his room. A few moments crept by….. Wait, where was the punch? Morinaga looked up tentatively, and felt his heart squeeze when he saw Senpai hunched over on the ground, his head buried in his hands. He couldn't think of a single thing to say, and when the other man spoke, his voice was quite.

"I think that I'm going to go and stay with my sister for a while…."

A horrible silence followed these words, filling the room for several stunned moments, then it was broken by a funny choking noise, which had probably come from him, Morinaga realized absently. For 'a while' how long was a while? Were the initial thoughts that ran through his mind, then they were drowned out as another one took hold. What if Senpai was never going to live with him again? He noticed something on his face, tears he realized in surprise, and raised a hand instinctually to hide them, but he could somehow sense that they'd already been seen.

"Gah" Senpai cursed, his face twisted into to a sickened expression that caused a wrenching pain in Morinaga's chest, and without delaying to get a single one of his possessions Senpai tore himself off the ground, and fled from the apartment for the second time that day.