I don't own Junjo Romantica or anything else mentioned in this story…I merely use them as a pawn in my sexual games.

X X X

The remainder of the day had been frightfully uneventful. The three of them had played video games for several hours (mostly to keep Nowaki's mind off of the impending meeting with his mother, but also to make sure that his hands were occupied with something other than Hiroki). They'd ordered pizza at four but before the pizza arrived Hiroki had passed out on the couch, leaving Nowaki to carry him into the bedroom and deposit him on the bed. Nowaki also stripped Hiroki of his jeans and sweater before tucking him beneath the covers, making sure the older man would be somewhat comfortable when he awoke.

When Nowaki had returned to the living room an action movie had come on, quickly engulfing the two roommates in the riveting combat of post-modern warfare. When it finally ended more than two hours later, Ryan spoke, breaking them of their surprisingly comfortable silence he they flipped through the channels.

"Are you guys doing anything for Christmas?"

The question surprised Nowaki with its out-of-the-blueness. "I never thought to ask him...so I don't know. Why?"

"I was just wondering. My parents probably wouldn't mind if you both joined us for Christmas dinner, especially if I mentioned you two had never experienced an American Christmas."

Nowaki regarded him with a genuine smile. "Thanks, I appreciate that, but I'd like to ask Hiro-san first before I go off making plans for us."

"Sure, sure." Ryan finally found an interesting program and laid the remote on the coffee table. "So, I'm curious. What exactly do people in Japan do for Christmas?"

Nowaki took a few minutes to think about the stereotypical Christmas in Japan, having never really celebrating one himself. "Well, Christmas isn't a national holiday in Japan like it is here, and it's even more commercialized. But typically, on Christmas Eve you have Christmas cake, which is either brought home by the father on his way home from work, or prepared by the mother if the father has to work that night." Ryan had turned slightly to show he was sincerely interested in how other nationalities celebrate the season.

"Christmas Eve is also very romantic, so fancy restaurants and hotels are booked solid. If you ask to spend Christmas Eve with someone, it's viewed as a very romantic thing…it's actually more like an American Valentine's Day."

"Really?" Ryan's voice was interested and surprised.

"Mmhmm. Then on Christmas Day, you have a 'chicken dinner', which would probably be ordered from KFC. Usually the gifts you exchange are cute little things like candy or cakes, teddy bears, rings, or small do-it-yourself items. Also, there are tons of light displays that are put up around the end of October."

"Huh, that just seems so different…and you do all that stuff, every year?"

The corner of Nowaki's mouth turned up in a half-smile, though the rest of his face took on a mask of disappointment. "No. That's just what most people do…It's probably been ten years or so since I've had a Christmas cake. Hiro-san and I have never really celebrated Christmas because, each and every year, it always seems to work out that one of us has to work. We've never exchanged presents or anything…" Nowaki's voice had a hint of resigned frustration as he stated the last few facts through frowning lips.

Ryan's face had cocked to the side when Nowaki had mentioned 'each and every year'. "Um, exactly how long have you guys been together?"

"About five and a half years, but this will be our sixth holiday season together."

Eyes bugging out, Ryan asked exasperatedly, "And you've never done anything Christmas-y?"

"Nope," Nowaki sighed, lazily resting his head against the back of the couch.

"That…sucks."

Nowaki turned his head without picking it up from the cushion. "Tell me about it."

"Jeez, after six years, most couples would be married with kids by now."

Nowaki crossed his arms and tried to watch the mindless sitcom that was playing. "Gay marriage isn't legal in Japan," he sighed, sadness lacing his voice.

"It's legal in Canada," Ryan rattled off, trying to make his tone sound dismissive.

"Hmm…" Nowaki hummed, not sure how to answer that.

When Nowaki remained silent, Ryan continued, "it's an eight hour drive but you could probably make it a two-day trip."

Nowaki pulled one of his long legs up and tucked the heel beneath his bottom, suspiciously narrowing his eyes at Ryan for a minute. When he noticed Nowaki staring at him, Ryan's eyes widened in worry. "What, do I have pizza on my face or something?" he asked, rubbing his mouth self-consciously.

Nowaki hummed a laugh. "No, but…why do you suddenly care so much? Earlier you had a hard time saying the term 'boyfriend', now you're suggesting I drive up to Canada to tie the knot."

"I'm not suggesting it," Ryan pressed, a rosy flush highlighting his cheeks. He quickly managed to will it away as he continued, "I was just stating a fact."

"Hiro-san and I aren't ready to be married, anyway."

"…really? After five years?"

"We don't even live together," Nowaki muttered, standing suddenly. He turned and marched into the kitchen, grabbing a slice of lukewarm pizza from the grease-stained box on the counter. Rather than risk getting crumbs all over the floor he leaned up against the edge of the sink, letting them drop in there as he continued to watch TV from the kitchen.

"How can you not…live together?" Ryan asked, standing and moving to the island.

"We just…don't…" Nowaki tore off a piece of pepperoni and popped it in his mouth.

"…But you want to," Ryan suggested, sensing the dissatisfaction in Nowaki's tone. He grabbed the barstool on the far right and pulled it out before plopping down on it.

Nowaki shrugged. "I'd love to," he sighed.

"Then why not ask?"

"Because if he says no, I don't think I could handle that."

"And…" Ryan turned his head to the side in a questioning way, "…why would he say no?"

Staring at the hardened crust, Nowaki absently moved his thumb and index finger to twist the food in his hand. "Again, I must ask," he moved his gaze to Ryan, "why do you suddenly care so much?" he took a bite, surprised at how much better the food tasted cold.

Ryan shrugged, placing his elbows on the counter and clasping his hands together. "I'm just…surprised."

"Surprised?" When Ryan didn't elaborate, Nowaki continued, "Surprised about what?"

"I've just never seen a gay couple interact before, and I was just surprised at how…normal it was."

"…what do you mean, 'normal'?" Nowaki asked, dusting his hands off over the sink as he finished off the last of his petite slice. He didn't really feel offended by Ryan's designation of them being 'normal' but he was interested to know how it coincided.

"Well, earlier, when we were playing video games. All we were doing was drinking and hanging out, and you guys were so normal towards one another."

"Again…'normal'?"

"Like, you weren't being all gross by kissing or groping each other every chance you got. It was actually really funny to listen to you yell at each other when we were racing and when he kept calling you a pansy for screaming while you played Fatal Frame."

"Hey, those twins just kept appearing out of nowhere!" Nowaki shouted playfully, defending himself. "You had no way of knowing if they were going to attack or just stand there like a creep! Plus there was no way of telling which one was the twin and which was the doll…"

"If you waited for the Shutter Chance you'd know…"

"But they were gonna kill me!" Nowaki cried. Ryan laughed but didn't say anything else, so Nowaki took that opportunity to switch back to their earlier discussion. "Anyway, why would we be kissing in between playing video games?"

"I thought that was just normal when you played video games with your girl—friend..." Ryan finished awkwardly, unsure of whether he'd chosen the correct term. When Nowaki didn't say anything, Ryan continued, "Like whenever I'd play video games with my girlfriends around, they'd constantly ask for kisses and crap because I wasn't focusing solely on them."

"That's…" Nowaki grimaced. "…stupid."

Ryan shrugged. "I just thought it was normal."

"Maybe it's because that, as guys, we understand that there are more important matters at hand when we play video games."

"But is that what being gay is like? Hanging out with one of your guy friends all day long?"

Nowaki furrowed his eyebrows. "'Hanging out' the way you mean it doesn't quite cover it all…"

"But, basically?"

Sighing, Nowaki rose up from his crouched-over position and placed his hands on the rim of the sink. "Okay. Basically, imagine that you're hanging out with your best guy friend all day, playing video games and drinking and all that crap you usually do…" when he noticed Ryan considering it, he pressed on, "then, after eating dinner together, you go back into the bedroom and have mind-blowing sex for hours on end. That's pretty much what it's like."

Ryan's face contorted at the last part of Nowaki's straightforward explanation. "Yeah…I don't know about that. Sounds okay up until you get to the sex part."

"And you do realize that's, like, the main attraction of it all?"

"Meh…" Ryan shivered as he seemed to give the last bit even more thought. "Sounds…painful." Ryan seemed to hesitate and use 'painful' in the place of another word, but Nowaki didn't care. "No thanks."

Nowaki shrugged. "It's not painful if you do it right." He moved from behind the island and opened the fridge, grabbing a bottle of water and returning to the sofa.

After shivering one more time, Ryan turned but didn't retreat from the kitchen. "So anyway, remember that one part in the movie? How cool was it when…"

Hiroki silently stepped away from the door, trailing his fingers down the wooden trim for a long moment before turning and heading for his luggage. He unzipped his backpack and grabbed the laptop, tip-toeing back to the bed in an attempt to avoid the creakier parts of the floor. After flipping the screen up and hitting the power button, Hiroki scooted in towards the middle of the bed, opting to sit cross-legged as he tapped in his password. The home screen appeared and Hiroki was quick to connect to the internet so he could begin his hunt for two-bedroom apartments in Tokyo.

X X X

The bedroom doorknob was suddenly being turned, causing Hiroki to jump at the unexpected noise. A sliver of light spilled into the room as Nowaki tip-toed inside, smiling when he saw Hiroki's concentrated face illuminated by the bright laptop. "You're up," he said, flicking on the lights.

"Yeah, I was just finishing up this paper. Do you have a printer?"

"No, but we can drop by the library tomorrow, that's where I always print my papers out at."

"Sounds good," Hiroki said, pasting the final link to the bottom of the e-mail. He quickly sent the message to himself while Nowaki took his jeans off and tossed them in the hamper. Just as Nowaki sat behind him to see what he was up to, Hiroki shut the screen. "Hi," he said in a small voice, turning his head in Nowaki's direction.

"Hi," Nowaki mimicked in an equally small voice, leaning in to quickly peck Hiroki on the lips. "How was your nap?"

"Nice, but I'm still really tired…what time is it?"

Nowaki twisted his wrist inward so he could see the display of his watch. "9:02," he answered, placing the same hand on Hiroki's back. "I thought we should get to bed early so we don't miss Tanaka-san tomorrow morning."

"Good idea. When do you want to wake up?"

"Well, do you know when the meeting is supposed to start?"

Hiroki thought about it. "I think she told me around 7 or so. Maybe we should get to the hotel at 6:30, then? So we don't miss her?"

"Okay. Well, Times Square is like a 20 minute cab ride away, and it will probably take us 10 minutes to get ready—"

"I would like to get a shower in the morning, though, so add another 10 minutes for me."

"Need some help with that shower?" Nowaki murmured silkily, placing his other hand on Hiroki's shoulder and kneading.

"No way, horn-dog. We wouldn't have time for that anyway."

"But I promise I won't do anything! I really need a shower, too."

"Take one right now."

"So tired…"

"Then just wash your hair in the sink while I'm in the shower."

"Come on, please?" Nowaki stooped down and began sucking on Hiroki's earlobe, relishing the sound of the older man's voice as it wavered with pleasure.

"Ugh…I'll…think about it. But I swear, if you try anything, I'm going to bite your dick off."

"That's fair," Nowaki reasoned, moving his arms so they were squeezing Hiroki's midsection.

Hiroki yawned suddenly, picking his laptop up in one hand and nudging Nowaki's forearm. "Be a good boy and plug this in for me."

Nowaki smiled, ruffling Hiroki's hair before standing and doing as he was told. "You have a voltage adapter, right?"

"I think I put them in the front pocket of my backpack. That's also where my power cord should be."

After rummaging around in the bag for a minute, Nowaki finally found it. "Got it." Once the laptop was safely placed on the middle of the dresser, Nowaki crossed his arms and thought for a minute. "Where's your phone? You should probably charge that, too."

"I think it's still in my pants pocket…by the way, why did you undress me?" Hiroki mumbled, turning to his side and tucking his knees up to his chest.

"I figured you'd be more comfortable," Nowaki answered breezily, walking over to the hamper. Hiroki hid his flushed face in the spare pillow, listening to Nowaki as he walked about the room. He vaguely heard the phone being plugged in, then a small click as the bedroom became cloaked in darkness.

"Hey, Hiro-san?" Nowaki whispered as he ushered Hiroki beneath the sheets.

"Nnn?"

"Can I ask you a question?" Nowaki slipped beneath the covers and draped an arm over the older man's waist.

"No."

Ignoring Hiroki's tired grumpiness, Nowaki continued, "Do you want to do anything special for Christmas?"

He felt Hiroki's shoulders shrug. "I don't know. We've never done anything before, but…you don't have to work, do you?"

"Well, I have to go in at 9 tomorrow night and work the graveyard shift, which will extend into early Christmas Eve morning, but then I'm off until the 26th. I'm just wondering because Ryan invited us to have dinner with him and his family."

Hiroki frowned, though it was impossible for Nowaki to see. "I don't know if that's a good idea. I'd kind of feel like we were intruding."

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking, too."

"I guess we could do something, though…maybe we could make reservations? Or do you think everything will be booked already?"

"Christmas here is different than in Japan. Most people stay in with their families rather than go out, so we could probably get in somewhere."

"Well, you can pick the place; I don't know any of the good restaurants around here."

After thinking about it for a minute, Nowaki thought of a place. "Oh, we can go to this one place! A couple of my co-workers took me there for my birthday this year, it was delicious…but do you have a tux?"

"Ah, no, because I didn't think I'd need one…crap."

"No big deal, we just can rent one. Hopefully we can get in; I'll call tomorrow and see."

"Okay. What about presents?" Hiroki suggested, reaching back to stroke Nowaki's shin with the heel of his left foot.

"I don't have anything for you, but we can always get something while we're out tomorrow…we can discuss it more in the morning. I know you're tired now."

"I am…" Hiroki trailed off with a sigh, twisting around so he could sink further into his partner's embrace.

Smiling, Nowaki pressed his lips to Hiroki's temple, keeping them there for several long minutes before snuggling into the top of the brunet's head. "Good night, Hiro-san."

"'Night."

"I love you."

"…me too…"

With a wide smile, Nowaki rubbed Hiroki's hip and drifted off into peaceful unconsciousness. The storm had faded momentarily, leaving the apartment so quiet that you could hear a pin drop.

To be continued…

X X X

I had to Google about what Christmas was like in Japan, but if there are any miscues in my explanation, just let me know. It's bound to happen as not every source is as reputable as you'd hope…

Please review! I don't like that I get 6 reviews for hundreds of readers…I'd like to get the next chapter posted up before this weekend.