For Eijentu, whose ideas always lead me down the path of lexical incontinence :PPPP


There is something about the way Nezumi is leaning against the counter, Sion decides, that borders on obscene. Maybe it's the curve of his spine – arched into a near-perfect (if shallow) U – or the tilt of his head as it presses into his palm. Maybe it's the lazy smile plastered across his face, or the amount of teeth showing through his grin.

Maybe it's the fact that he's talking to a middle-aged mother of three as if she were a blushing, giggling school girl while her children run amok between shelving units.

Sion swallows thickly and sets a pan of croissants – still hot from the oven – onto the counter. He'd say something, but-

"It's always a pleasure," Nezumi trills as he slips a few extra rolls into her bag and bundles the parcel into a neat, compact lump, "Same time tomorrow? Shall I save you a butter roll?" There's something particularly dirty about the way those words roll off his tongue that makes Sion grip the counter – partially for balance, but mostly to relieve some of the pressure building inside him and prevent his eyeballs bulging out of his sockets. He grimaces and glances over at the children, who are now clamoring toward the door, all raucous laughter and happy smiles and completely unaware of this little scene playing out at the counter.

There's that, at least.

He loosens his grip – ever-so-slightly – as goodbyes and promises of a return trip are exchanged and finally releases it fully as the bells on the door jingle. He wipes his hands on his apron and sighs quietly as Nezumi returns to his usual slouch at the counter.

"What?" Nezumi's drone cuts across the room. He's picking at his teeth now, digging the nail of his pinky between them in a way that suggests he really couldn't be more bored if he tried. He pauses a moment before rolling lazily against the counter's edge to face Sion. "What vexes Your Majesty?"

Sion swallows again, because there is no good answer to this question. He doesn't actually feel vexed – there is nothing about this just-run scene that he hasn't been party to on a dozen other occasions, nothing that really ought to stir his emotions at all. And yet, here they are. Admiration (he's managed to work her into a half dozen more rolls that she normally buys), embarrassment (kids, kids, kids), and maybe a tiny bit of jealousy (that would explained that just-punched-in-the gut sensation), all wrapped up in a layer of awe so thick that he has to fight his way through just to identify the rest. He's not at all sure there are words to describe this jumbled mess, but vexing certainly doesn't do it justice. "That was…amazing," he splutters at long last.

Nezumi cocks an eyebrow. "Really, Sion," he groans and pinches his long-suffering temples, "It's all so easy."

"What is?" Sion blinks. The irritated sneer is all too familiar, but the tirade that usually accompanies it is notably missing, replaced instead with heavy-lidded eyes and a clucking tongue as Nezumi saunters toward him. The sneer itself works into an unmistakable pout as Nezumi leans closer to twine one hand into the short hairs behind Sion's ear. Nezumi presses his forehead against Sion's, and hot breath billows across his ear as he speaks.

"Every last one of you," Nezum hisses and Sion can feel the grin forming against his cheek, "So easy to work." He digs he knee in between Sion's thighs and worms his free hand into the small of his back. "I don't even have to try and you'll all buy my biscuits and stare jealously over my shoulder."

Sion coughs and leans backward, ignoring the jolt up his spine. He starts to say that this isn't jealousy – not in its purest form anyway – but he's caught off-guard by the way the hair on his neck stands to attention and the bones in his limbs seem to throb with a dull ache and chokes the words back. This isn't-

"Don't you want to argue?" Nezumi goads and teases a finger beneath the hem of Sion's shirt (he flinches as fingerpads trace across sensitive skin and okay, maybe it is, just a little bit), "Tell me all about how you're not that easy and neither are all the customers who come in here to gawk?"

"No," Sion cranes his neck backward further. "I think it's amazing how you convince people so easily," he grinds out, "But-"

"But?" Nezumi prompts and Sion shudders at just how smarmy he sounds. It's sugar sweet and dripping with sex, but it isn't-

Sion's hands slide backward against the countertop, palms skipping and slapping against the floured surface until his knuckles smack into the cold base of a metal bowl. He raps his index finger against it quietly. "Uh," he stammers, drawing as much attention with his fluttering voice as he can, "No, it's just-"

"Just?" Nezumi moves in for the kill, mouth open and angling for Sion's throat.

There's a cold sensation down his shoulder blades in the next instant – tickling and rolling and piling into the crevices where his shirt is tied tight by his apron. It takes him another second to realize that Nezumi is laughing - laughing - still bent over him with a handful of raisins. Most of which are now residing down the back of his shirt, but enough are still trickling out from his grasp to tickle his neck annoyingly.

He stares, open-mouthed, as the laughter begins to roll out of Nezumi in earnest. "I can't believe you some days," Nezumi roars, "Staring at me like some terrified tanunki. Turned into stone or something. What did you think I was going to do?"

"N-nothing," Sion manages to choke out. His stomach is shaking with laughter too, which has somehow managed to shake loose all the knots that seemed ready to cordon it off permanently only a moment ago. This is much better, he realizes with a start, and gleefully taps at the metal bowl again. "And I wasn't-" he starts, then thinks better of it and snaps his mouth shut. If he has the vocabulary of a chimpanzee, then surely he has the motor skills to match. He grins and whips his hand out from behind his back, fingertip coated with icing he's pilfered from the bowl, and swipes it across Nezumi's nose.

The reaction is everything he could have hoped for – a fantastic mix of shock, revulsion, and just plain befuddlement (and this is so much better that before). Sion doesn't take the time to chuckle – even though it's what he wants more than anything – but hikes up onto his tiptoes to lick it off. He misses, though, and finds his entire mouth stuffed full of nose (and frosting) a second later. Which is fine, really, and he smirks around his mouthful as he pulls back, teeth scraping down the contours and across the bulb of Nezumi's nose.

Nezumi stares at him for a long moment, lips peeling back across his cheeks in disgust. Sion only grins. Terrified tanuki indeed.

"You," Nezumi stammers, blinking wildly, "You bit my nose."

Sion bats his eyelashes innocently and cocks his head to the side. He's practiced this look, and he is more proud of it than he probably should be.

"You actually bit it."

"I was only trying to get the frosting off-"

"You bit-"

"It was much sweeter this way."

Nezumi's eyes narrow and his lips purse as he thumbs at the sugar residue left around his nostrils. "You're sick," he declares and turns on his heel.

He expected this much. Already, he's busily formulating an apology – one sincere enough to cover the biting without devolving into half-truths about the entire exercise. "Nezumi, I'm sorry I bit you. Please don't-"

He's not expecting the handful of blueberry jam that thwacks across his face and smears a thick line down his neck and accordingly only kind of gapes like a shocked fish back at his attacker. Nezumi has replaced the pout with a grin that stretches from ear to ear and the likes of which Sion doesn't think he's seen before. It's…well, it's terrifying if he's being honest with himself. He can't actually tell if this is amusement or anger or something else entirely.

"This is fair, right?" Nezumi is saying as Sion's attention wanders away from the sticky trail of fruit working its way beneath his collar, "If you're going to reduce me to an eating utensil, then I should get to lick my plate clean, too."

"Huh?" Sion is only half aware of what's going around him, mostly because Nezumi is moving lightening fast to pin him back against the counter and crane his neck to the side to expose the jam. His mouth comes crashing down in short order, teeth bared and scraping and oh good god that is going to leave a mark. Sion squeals, keens, somethings (he doesn't have a clue at the moment, but there is air rushing out his throat and some sort of noise that he is mostly sure he's making is battering his eardrums). Not that it matters all that much, because it turns into shrieking a split-second later as Nezumi's hand creeps up the hem of his shirt and pokes into his sides.

"Thop wugglin," Nezumi insists, his mouth full of jam and skin and probably the undersides of several of Sion's more important glands as well, "It thaste tho much thweether this way."

He's sorry. He's SORRY. There aren't words for how very sorry he is as Nezumi's sticky fingers continue to dig their way into all the most sensitive parts of his abdomen, smearing blueberry across his belly and catching in the fine hairs there. He's groping behind him for the bowl of icing again (maybe if he can reach it, he can turn this back in his favor), but every time he nicks the edge of it another shockwave rolls through him and his knees threaten to buckle under.

He has no idea how they manage to end up on the floor, but he's hardly surprised – the floor is littered with a coating of loose flour that makes even his rubber soled shoes a hazard if he steps wrong (and is now going to be caked into all the crevices usually hidden by his clothes –lovely). Nezumi has abandoned his attempts to gnaw through his neck in favor of licking his cheek, apparently intent on making good his promise to clean his plate, as it were. His mouth really would be put to better use, Sion thinks, somewhere just a bit more medial and on top of his own lips, but weasling him in that direction is harder than it should be and no matter how many times Sion manages to wrench his face in the right direction, it's never quite fast enough to catch Nezumi's mouth. He wrestles his hands out from where they're trapped underneath of him and gropes wildly, finally managing to catch Nezumi's cheeks between his palms and flexing his fingers hard to pull him forward. Finally-

The tinkling of bells on the front door leave his victory short-lived. It dawns on him that he's lying on the floor, covered in jam and straddled by what probably appears to the untrained observer to be a ravenous, slurping rodent. They're both covered in flour as well, though Nezumi, ever the cooler of the two under pressure, manages to shake most of his coating off before getting to his feet and stalking to the counter.

"Stay down," he hisses back at Sion, who nods bewilderedly and swipes at the jam on his face with a shirtcuff.

He doesn't mention that his clammy palms have left dusty handprints all across Nezumi's cheeks.

It's Mrs. Takai at the counter – a regular with whom they're both very well acquainted – and Nezumi has her usual order rung up before he even says hello. She's only taking a handful of rolls today though, and no matter how Nezumi flirts, smiles, or arcs his back against the counter, she won't be taking any more than that. She's not really paying attention, anyway. Sion knows this because she's staring directly at him, eyes wide and mouth twisted into a funny little smile that seems to force all of her insistences that "these are great plenty" up and out her nose. He smiles back, all too well aware that "stay down" was probably the worst thing he could have done here, and wishes the layer of flour on the floor was about three feet deeper than it actually is.

Nezumi tucks a few extras into her bag anyway and sends her on her way, smiling and waving as if nothing were out of the ordinary. He waits until the bells jingle again before spinning back around to gape at the frumpled mess on the floor. Once again, Sion has no idea whether he's amused or angry and only stares back at him, biting his lips and trying very hard not to laugh.

"You're a mess," Nezumi finally says with a snort.

"And you're losing your touch," Sion laughs, "Only two that time."

"You're developing a really unattractive nasty-streak," Nezumi scoffs, "I'll sell six more to the next person through here." He taps his finger ruefully against his chin for a moment, then sighs and shirks out his apron, which he deposits over the top of Sion's head. "Clean up. We're lucky that wasn't your mama."

"Right," Sion wipes the jam from his face with a grin that is probably every bit as dopey as he feels, "Six, you said?"

"Yeah," Nezumi says, hands on his hips, "Six." He rounds back on Sion. "Why?"

"Just making note," Sion pulls the apron away from his face, "I'll just go clean up a bit. You okay here?"

"Yeah, yeah," Nezumi waves him away and turns back to the counter.

The bells on the door jingle again as Sion stumbles into the backroom. He smiles to himself as he hears Nezumi chatting away once again and dabs at his cheek with a wet rag. The poor customer is getting the full treatment, he realizes, and decides that it's a far better show viewed from a distance. He'll probably make that sixth sell, too, from the sounds of things.

And it will probably be all the sweeter for the floury handprints still decorating his cheeks.