Disclaimer: I do not own Sekai ichi Hatsukoi or any of its characters but I love them.
Chapter One: Homecoming
Yokozawa opened the door to the Kirishimas' apartment. It had been a hellacious day at work.
Fucking Takano, challenging me at every turn on the numbers for printing at our weekly meeting. Who does that ass think has to peddle all the extra issues if the stores don't sell the way he anticipates? He's so damn cocky.
He was about to call out and see if Hiyori was home when he looked down and noticed her small white tennies with the kitten lace ornaments neatly lined up against the hall entry wall. Immediately the storm cloud Yokozawa had been functioning under for the last three hours broke and he felt his heart smile even if his mouth didn't.
It wasn't as though Hiyori needed supervision. She had managed on her own long before he'd arrived on the scene. Still, he fretted about her being home alone. He always felt the little extra burden in his heart he picked up on his way out the door each morning, set back down the moment he returned to find her safe.
Once he'd asked Kirishima how he managed not to go crazy with worry. Kirishima's laughing reply was that he had, at least until he came along. Now that Yokozawa was doing enough worrying for the both of them, Kirishima just hadn't felt the need to keep his up.
Frowning at this recollection, Yokozawa shifted his attention back to the present. Seeing that Hiyori was home, he wondered why she hadn't been there to greet him.
She knew I was coming.
He had texted her on the way there, asking if he needed to pick anything up from the store. Setting down his work satchel and the small bag of groceries he'd acquired on the way home, Yokozawa noticed another pair shoes lined up next to Hiyori's. He quickly identified them as belonging to her best friend, Yuki.
Ah, that explains it.
The two were no doubt holed up in Hiyori's room deeply engaged in the mysterious rites of girlhood.
Both girls were by themselves quite a bit, since Yuki's parents worked as well. So, living in the same building, they alternated between each other's apartments regularly. Although since Yokozawa had started returning home earlier than the other adults when he could, Hiyori and Yuki had started spending more time at the Kirishima's.
Yokozawa took off his shoes.
He supposed it was good his being able to be at home earlier also allowed Kirishima to focus more clearly on his job. He'd heard positive things lately about Injuuin's editor's increased productivity through the overactive Marukawa grapevine. He had even overheard it speculated that perhaps Kirishima had gotten married again, though he no longer wore a ring.
But Kirishima was not the only one seeing benefits from their recent "arrangement." Despite his new self-imposed schedule, Yokozawa's job performance had improved as well.
While he had always been efficient and often was ahead of the game in terms of his work, even though he wasn't staying as late as he used to he was getting more done. Yokozawa had realized just lately, that before he started spending so much time with the Kirishimas, he would draw things out at work. His workaholic tendencies due in part because he was avoiding his empty apartment. Often times, in fact, it was only his guilt about Sorata that had ever even brought him home.
Now, he was working even harder and taking fewer breaks, so that he could get home to Hiyori. Plus, though he'd never admit it, he liked cooking with her and having a meal prepared when Kirishima returned from work.
It also didn't hurt that he drank so much less these days. In fact, Yokozawa couldn't remember the last time he'd woken up with a hangover and still had to haul his ass in to Marukawa. This new morning clarity seemed to be helping his productivity as well, though previously he'd never really considered it a problem. His relative alcoholic abstinence was also helping his bank account, as was the fact he was now living with the Kirishima's full time.
Zen had finally convinced him to move in with them to save him all the time he'd been spending commuting, surprisingly agreeing when he insisted on having his own room for propriety in front of Hiyori. So, with this new arrangement he'd reluctantly allowed the lease on his own apartment to run out.
Not having his own space hadn't bothered Yokozawa nearly as much as he thought it might. He wondered if this was a defect in his masculine character as he hung up his coat.
This was something he was somewhat sensitive about, not that'd he'd ever reveal this. It didn't help his anxieties that now his old place was gone, Kirishima absolutely refused to accept any money from him for the room he was occupying.
The last time he'd complained about this, they had been arguing about this while sharing an elevator ride at work. Kirishima had pointed to the key case he was holding, the one they had exchanged for his birthday.
"I proposed to you remember?" Kirishima indicated the apartment key. "How would it look then for me to take your money. Besides," His eyes had twinkled, "you know I like to keep you in my debt a bit, Yokozawa. Just in case you ever got some crazy idea about changing your mind."
Yokozawa's brow furrowed at the memory.
"Over-confident ass," he muttered under his breath as he picked up his work bag and the groceries and moved into the front room. Despite Zen's refusal for rent, Yokozawa did what he could to compensate anyways: buying little things for around the house and purchasing all the groceries. He needed to, not to feel like a kept man
Or a wife.
No sooner had he stepped away from this thought and into the entry, there was a flurry of delicate feet and high-pitched giggles as the two girls rushed out of Hiyori's bedroom to meet him.
"Onii-chan," Hiyori was breathless, her eyes shone with pleasure. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here to greet you. You're home earlier than I thought you'd be and I didn't hear you come in."
Yokozawa relinquished the grocery bag into Hiyori's outstretched hands.
"Yuki-chan." Yokozawa returned Hiyori's wide-eyed cohort's bowed greeting with a dip of his chin. Yuki always acted slightly awed around him. As usual she'd remained standing slightly off to the side, but this didn't offend Yokozawa, he was used to people keeping a safe distance from him.
"Oh, Onii-chan, you got those macaroons I like again!" Hiyori squeaked appreciatively peeking into the bag. "May Yuki and I have one, please?"
"Mmmm, is your homework done?"
"Yes! Well, all but my English and I wondered if you would help with that after dinner?"
Yokozawa nodded at this. "You and Yuki have been behaving yourselves then?"
"Yes, Onii-chan." Hiyori sounded just slightly exasperated by the question. She rolled her eyes and Yokozawa wondered at this thing he perceived as a womanly gesture.
He walked over to Sorata who had risen to welcome him home from the place where he'd been comfortably curled at the end of the sofa. "Is that true, Sorata? Have Hiyo-chan and Yuki-chan been conducting themselves responsibly?"
The black and white cat pushed up into his outstretched hand purring. Yokozawa turned to Hiyori and Yuki.
"Well, since Sorata tells me you have been behaving, I suppose you can have one. But no more; I don't want you to spoil your dinner."
Hiyori tittered at her Onii-chan questioning the cat: it wasn't often that Yokozawa behaved so whimsically.
"Thank you, Onii-chan!" She and Yuki both dashed into the kitchen to put the shopping away, all the while chattering delightedly about the unexpected treat.
At his appearance in the kitchen doorway a moment later, both girls looked at Yokozawa pink-cheeked for abandoning him so eagerly. Their embarrassment was cute, but Yokozawa kept his face carefully unaffected.
"I'll come in and put the things away that go on the high shelves in a minute," he offered before heading down the hall to his room to change out of his work clothes.
An hour later found Yokozawa and Hiyori in the kitchen cooking dinner.
Yuki's mother had stopped by a half hour earlier and picked up her daughter. It was still a bit uncomfortable for Yokozawa, the keen-eyed, wondering way the woman looked at him sometimes, but he was finally growing used to it.
He reached into the pocket of the green and white striped apron he wore, the least feminine one that he could find, and pulled out his phone. Kirishima kept bringing home new aprons, each one more frilly than the last just to tease him. Yokozawa scowled at the thought as he looked at the time.
"Hiyori, your father should be home any minute, why don't you wash your hands and go out so you can greet him when he gets here?"
Just then his phone vibrated, Yokozawa flipped it open to read the text.
Will be late. Don't hold dinner. Kisses, Zen.
A warm heat filled Yokozawa's cheeks, following the quiet pang of disappointment at the change in schedule. He frowned and immediately deleted the text. The last thing he ever wanted someone to see was a message from another man sending him kisses.
"Change in plans. Your father just messaged he's going to be late," Yokozawa said over the sink's running water.
"That's okay, Onii-chan." Hiyori smiled as he handed her a towel for her hands. "I don't mind if it's just the two of us having dinner."
The truth of it was, Hiyori liked the times it was just the two of them. Despite the fact she was incredibly close to her papa, she was able to talk to her Onii-chan sometimes with an openness she couldn't risk with her father.
"Oooooh, I like this song!" Hiyori all but squealed, causing Yokozawa to start. She dashed over to the radio that had been playing low in the background and turned up the volume. A poppy dance tune filled the warm kitchen.
"Do you know how to dance, Onii-chan?" she asked, turning away from the radio.
Yokozawa grunted noncommittally. It had been ages since he'd danced, the last time being probably in early high school.
"Will you teach me then?"
"Wha…?" Yokozawa turned away from the vegetables he been sautéing and looked at Hiyori with an expression of disbelief. He grimaced, however, seeing how eager her eyes were.
"Why would you need to know? You're too young for dancing anyway."
"I'll be eleven next week though."
"Really?" Yokozawa pulled out a new frown at this information. This was the first time heard anything about it. He wondered why Kirishima hadn't mentioned anything to him about his daughter's birthday.
"Please, Onii-chan? Just spin me once?" Hiyori's eyes were bright with hope.
He could hardly tell her "no" when her expression was so earnest. Yokozawa couldn't help wondering how many hearts she was going to break in a few years.
"Fine," he grumbled, "but just one spin." He stepped towards her, wiping his hands on his apron.
"Here, give me your hands."
Yokozawa marveled as always at how delicate Hiyori was. He could fit her two hands easily inside one of his big paws. He showed her a few simple steps and then spun her. Hiyori approached the steps with the utmost seriousness but the spin made her giggle with delight.
Her laughter was such wonderful sound, that of course one spin turned into half a dozen. There probably would have been more too, but Yokozawa stopped abruptly and stiffened, when he suddenly heard a rich chuckle emanating from behind him. He turned to see Kirishima lounging in the kitchen doorway.
"Papa, you're home!" Hiyori cried, quickly waltzing over to meet him.
Kirishima smiled back warmly and extend a lean arm. He took Hiyori's hand and gave his daughter a twirl of his own.
"Papa, Onii-chan was teaching me how to dance!" She exclaimed breathlessly.
"So I saw," Kirishima shot his lover a sly grin as he moved over to the refrigerator to get a beer.
"You said you were going to be late," Yokozawa grumbled.
"Ah, well, that was a bit of a fib. I wanted to surprise you. But not nearly so much it seems as you surprised me, Takafumi," Kirishima's eyes glittered mischievously. "I always knew you were light on your feet," he teased.
Yokozawa turned back to the stove. It wasn't nearly as hot as his face at the moment.
"Go sit at the table; Hiyori set it earlier; dinner's ready," he growled.
After watching Hiyori carry the first dish out to the table, Kirishima took the opportunity, the minute she was out of sight, to place a light kiss on his lover's lightly flushed cheek. "Whatever you say, twinkle toes."
Then Kirishima laughed, and quickly danced his way out of the kitchen before Yokozawa had the chance to retaliate.
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