See the end of the chapter for author notes.

(Read in 3/4 format because I love seeing it that way)


Chapter 1

A New Acquaintance


Those eyes, Ryuuichi's almond green eyes, look at him in a way Hayato cannot yet put a name to though he knows what the gaze is not.

There is no fear or prejudice so often found in the eyes of those who barely know him. There is no reluctant hero-worship he's amusingly seen in Taka's. It's not the closed off stare he sees so constantly on his father's face, but the way Ryuuichi looks at him is just as unreadable.

Funny thing is, though the look had struck him as unnerving at first, Hayato likes it and at least the reason why he likes it is easier to analyze.

It makes him feel like Ryuuichi can see him.

No judgment, no caution, no malice, no instant adoration or signs of infatuation, no flirtation, no badly hidden hate, just forest-floor green eyes looking at Hayato, truly looking, he thinks.

What does it say about his life, his upbringing to become a powerful man, when he finds relief, a sort of 'freed'-like feeling, in that gaze, that gaze nobody in his life so far has ever looked at him with?

Little did he know that some time in a future where his life got just a little bit more complicated, he would look back at the moment he first realized Kashima Ryuuichi was different and wishfully think he should be allowed to hit his past self for considering that the tightening in his chest the moment those eyes turned to him was strictly from stress and caused by nothing else.


The dark haired man heaved a sigh, using a free hand to loosen the knot of his tie. He slumped down onto a large extravagant black leather swivel chair, leaning back to relish in the comfort. He'd spent one-too-many nights on it to know accidentally falling asleep on it was not worth the crick in his neck he'd feel when he woke up so he forced his mind to stay alert despite the exhaustion.

He kicked back, turning the chair to face the view of what was mostly the east side of the city, bright lights piercing the night, through the floor-to-ceiling glass that functioned as both windows and walls to his office. Though he'd shut the lights off, his office was bathed in a pale luminescence that seeped in from the city through the glass.

Hebihara Conglomerate's main building was arguably the tallest skyscraper in the bustling city of Tokyo, rivaling the lavish Morinomiya Corporation's 'Academy', a behemoth of a building and an architectural masterpiece that was given its nickname by the late heir of the Morinomiya family.

Where the Hebihara family and founders of the company that soon expanded into the largest conglomerate in all of Asia fought tooth and nail to acquire and build their headquarters closest to the center of the city as possible, Morinomiya Corporation itself stood in the area of what used to be the city's main business center centuries ago before the city itself expanded and the center of it had shifted.

Hayato's dark gaze tracked a moving light in the sky, an airplane flying low enough for its light to be seen, blinking as it flew out of view. After working up the corporate ladder with a determination unrivaled, he'd finally gotten the position of CEO, the youngest Hebihara empire has ever seen since the two directors in the early '70s when the company had just started up and university degrees weren't a must for booming businesses. Being a CEO had its perks; a coveted office at the top floor was only one of them.

Many had seen him work, experienced working with him on hundreds of projects, resulting in those who had little doubt on his abilities, those who feared, admired, and respected him, but still there were those who questioned how he got the position of CEO at the young age of 26 with extreme ease. Prejudice and assumptions were to be expected.

He was the son of Hebihara Taizou, both the current chairman of the company and head of the Hebihara family, and although born out of wedlock and carrying his mother's name, Kamitani, he had grown up in a privileged household, was given the best education, had used whatever advantage he had in connections and whatnot to get to the position he was in.

Hayato shifted in his seat as his mobile phone buzzed where he had laid it on the table. Only a few had his personal number but none of them he cared to have a conversation with at the moment so he ignored it in favor of losing himself in his thoughts.

Contrary to what many believed, he wasn't a robot, and he'd had a pretty shitty day so he believed he was very much entitled to a break after having spent 10 grueling hours hustling a smaller company they were planning to buy out with terms both parties found reasonable.

If the company they were planning to take had been any smaller than what it was, Hayato wouldn't have been expected to show up and accompany the officers in charge of mergers and the company lawyers.

Unfortunately his father had called him personally to oversee the deal, so Hayato had ended up pretty much glaring their new subsidiary into submission when the meeting had gone well past his patience.

He had a lot of patience, he believed. Kamitani Taka was his younger brother, for fuck's sake.

The buzzing continued and so did his ignoring it.

"Inomata" kept flashing on the screen, which merited little interest for now, though he was a bit curious as to why his half-sister was calling at the late hour.

He wasn't all that surprised when his secretary called a warning through the speaker-phone before a dark haired woman burst into his office, shoulders stiff, and although her hair was rarely out of a severe bun since she graduated high school, it lay streaming around her, not at all diminishing the ferocity of her scowl or the glare she shot from across the room just as Hayato turned in his seat to watch her enter.

He blinked a few times as the lights were turned on, the shadows retreating from the sprawling office exposing lavish furniture, any of which costed to about a cubicle in the lower offices, the wall that separated his office from the rest of the floor was solid concrete, white washed with soft gradient cream to give it texture and modern styled furniture mixed tastefully with a few warmer looking pieces that gave life to the room.

Inomata stood at the doorway before stepping in, the dark wood double-doors shutting behind her with a click. She was in her usual suit, a pristine grey blazer and matching pencil skirt adding to her stern look, phone in one hand. She had delicate features, almost hawkish with too-big eyes, but it only added to the severity of her aura.

"Kamitani." she bit out as a greeting.

She rarely called him by his first name since they'd officially met at a family gathering when they were both five years of age where he'd been introduced as her half-brother, the illegitimate child of Hebihara Taizou and Kamitani Shizuka. Hayato had called her 'loud' and she'd hated him ever since.

"Inomata." he returned coolly.

"I've been calling you for the past hour, you jerk."

The words were grit out, accusing.

"What are you doing here?"

He never was one to beat around the bush and he could trust her to take his bluntness in stride, herself preferring talking straight.

"Father sent me to fetch your stubborn ass when you kept ignoring his previous invitations."

"..."

She snarled out a frustrated sound before crossing the room, slamming both palms down on his desk, face red and eyes glaring.

"The family will be having dinner at the main house this weekend, three days from now, and he-we are inviting Taka-kun and yourself since father would like to see how you two have been doing."

She averted her eyes to glare at the phone on his desk, as if it offended her, when she said the later part of the reason of the invitation through gritted teeth.

"And his agenda...?" he prompted.

"There is no agenda! He-"

He glared at her, shutting her up immediately.

Lying was never tolerated, not to his face anyway. She knew better.

She huffed, deflating but still putting on a defiant face as she stood to cross her arms across her chest, still averting her eyes.

"Inui will be coming." she muttered, her jaw clenching.

"..." he stayed silent, knowing that wasn't all she had to say.

"And Morinomiya Youko has also been invited; any family she decides to bring will also be welcome."

Inomata's face looked a bit strained as she said her part. The new information made Hayato raise his brow in surprise.

Taizou wasn't exactly a family man, his almost non-presence in Hayato's and Taka's life as evidence to the fact, although Taka still wasn't acknowledged by the main family as being Taizou's son due to the more or less decade gap between the siblings. Hayato was pretty sure Taka was no other man's son since his mother never did move on.

Inviting the Morinomiya's, their father definitely had an agenda, Hayato thought grimly.

The Hebihara family was pretty messed up. And although already recognized as a powerful and wealthy family, having a few members in politics and others scattered around in different industries, they were still considered new money compared to the Morinomiya's.

The Morinomiya household was an ancient one, dating back to the early settling of Tokyo as the nation's new capital. They followed a strange tradition of adopting new blood into the family when the heir had no children of their own, so those with the real Morinomiya blood could never be pinpointed and the title of 'heir' did not follow strictly the order of birth but the judgment of whoever was entitled to choose an heir instead.

It was whispered that the Hebihara family would be following this tradition since Hayato looked to be the most promising choice for an heir.

Inui was older but was known for his philandering and reputation as a formidable name in the entertainment business worldwide while Hayato pursued the family business.

Hayato himself doubted that his father would stray from the late Hebihara's head's wishes. Hayato had never known his grandparents on his father's side, also on his mother's side since they'd died before he was born, but he believed whoever thought it a good idea to marry off his deceased first child's wife, already with child, to the younger brother was a crazy old coot.

"I-I think father is planning for an arranged marriage."

It was not surprising since arranged marriages seemed to be a legacy of their family but Hayato felt pity nonetheless as a new expression crossed his sister's face.

She was the most likely candidate for marriage, already 26 and still no paramours, and one of the few female lawyers recognized nationally due to amazing skill alone and as far as he knew, Morinomiya had adopted two boys, one around their own age and another around Taka's age.

After a few more minutes of awkward silence, neither of them finding nothing else to talk about, clearing her throat, Inomata left quietly, leaving Hayato, once again, alone to his thoughts.

The late Hebihara-sama had only two sons to his name, the first being Takato and the second being Taizou. Takato was heir to both the company and the next head of the family, and had married a young woman named Yasumi by way of arranged marriage, Yasumi coming from a powerful and old-money family back then.

She was in the midst of carrying their first child when Takato was killed in an accident. Since Hebihara-sama still wanted to tie Yasumi's family to his own, the child's gender still unknown, he'd arranged Taizou and Yasumi to be married only a few months before the child's due date.

Taizou was, at that time, in a relationship with his college sweetheart, Kamitani Shizuka and had already made plans of marrying her but he'd chosen to do as his father willed and married Yasumi instead. The wedding took place a month after Yasumi gave birth and a day before he'd found out Shizuka was already a few weeks pregnant with his child.

The family had already recognized Shizuka as Taizou's intended wife but there had still been uproar when Hayato was born not more than a year after Inui, Yasumi and Takato's son and heir apparent.

Many did not want Hayato recognized as Taizou's son, a possible contender for heir, but Taizou had insisted and even Yasumi had been supportive.

Inomata was born a few months later after Hayato, the result of the consummation of Taizou and Yasumi's marriage, with Yasumi dying in childbirth, her body unable to keep with the two consecutive pregnancies and the loss of Takato whom she'd come to love.

Shizuka had eventually been roped in with the care of Inomata while weaning Hayato off breast milk but she'd left the Hebihara household as soon as Inomata too had been weaned, unable to live with the condemning looks from the other members of the household.

When Hebihara-sama too had passed, Taizou, now head of the family, had tried to restore his and Shizuka's relationship. They'd tried it for a few months before ending their relationship, having grown too far apart; too different from when they'd first gotten together. Later that year, Taka had been born.

Hayato's mother was a successful woman with her own career but he knew that the large amount of shares Shizuka had in the company itself had more than helped in raising him and Taka, not to mention the trust fund he'd already been able to access that he knew his mother would never have been able to afford for him and the ease at which whatever application he partook in was always, always accepted.

His father had a hand in his and Taka's upbringing but it's not like he didn't expected Taka, despite the idiot that he was, to finally figure out their connection to the Hebihara family.

Hayato's younger brother had been in elementary school, a private school for elite families, one which Hayato too had attended, when he'd learned of Hayato's position, who at that time was considered a prodigy and one of the country's most promising university students. Taka had also learned the condemnation many of the elite families had for Hayato, who had already beaten many of other families' heirs who prided themselves of their blood and ancestry.

It wasn't like Shizuka could protect her sons forever from the whispers, and Hayato had already taken the brunt of it in stride when he reached middle-school and had already formed his own clique of successful genius people who had no family roots to rely on or were results of scandals themselves.

Taka had been a bit slower in hardening his shell, always the emotive one who found it difficult to control his feelings and expressions but he'd managed, already in high-school with an easy and brash attitude who'd surrounded himself with true and unprejudiced friends, for which Hayato was silently grateful for.

Hayato grabbed his personal phone, ignoring the messages from his father knowing that if it was about business, the old man would've contacted him formally through Hayato's other number set for business matters.

He checked a few from his mother, replying quickly and informing her about the dinner as lightly as possible, before sending a text to his brother to leave his weekend free. He then arranged for his own schedule for the weekend through the direct line to his secretary.

His business phone lit up, a new message showing on the screen.

"We're still on for tonight, right? My shoot ends at 11pm. 3"

Hayato hummed a short sound of approval, sending a quick affirmative before slipping his phone away. At least the night wasn't going to end so badly, though his latest booty call was starting to get a bit too clingy for his liking.

His relationships rarely lasted more than a year, many of the women he dated unable to cope with his lack of affection or expression so he had taken to preferring casual relations than actually putting up with the troublesome qualities of commitment.

Taizou never really did approve of Hayato's style of casually dating women, most of which were models or just famous idols or actresses, making himself into one of the country's most eligible bachelors despite turning down numerous omeais his father arranged with suitable young daughters of different powerful men.

It's not like his father could complain anyway since Hayato had been good for the company, raking in billions, and so had only remained silently disapproving.

He had never disobeyed his father outright but Hayato felt something close to foreboding when he thought about the family dinner.

Though his father too preferred the straightway of things, he was still a business man and wasn't above plotting just for the sake of the company. Dinner with the Morinomiya's was going to be interesting.


Slender hands patted down stiffly at coat pockets, searching for car keys. Ryuu made a triumphant sound after finally finding them, his hands already shivering from the cold, breath misting in small white puffs as his cheeks stung, whipped red from the icy wind, the collar of his winter coat hiked up high but not enough to cover his ears.

Saikawa-san had reminded him earlier to take his gloves and scarf with him, but in his hurry to meet the contractors earlier that day, he'd left them in the car. He fumbled a few times with the keys before it slotted in, turning as a resounding click of the locks met Ryuu's ears. He ducked inside to grab them from the glove compartment, smiling to himself as he found a pocket warmer Saikawa-san had undoubtedly put there.

He pushed back out onto the sidewalk, shutting the car door behind him, wrapping the scarf around his neck, thick and perfectly soft, as he slipped his gloved hands and the pocket warmer into his coat, sighing in relief at the warmth.

It had stopped snowing less than a week ago but the air remained too chilly for winter to be truly over. He leaned back against his car, the thick material of his coat preventing the cold from seeping in, staring up at the new four-story building that was set to open on the week's end.

The pre-opening celebrations were over, already well past midnight, and he'd managed to break away from the group, walking back alone from the family restaurant to his car where he'd parked it earlier that day.

He'd gone over the refurbishments and renovations one last time with the contractors, checking and re-checking that everything was 'A'-okay for the opening day, after which he'd thanked the workers profusely, congratulating them all on a job well done.

He couldn't help the smile on his face, turning a bit flushed as he remembered the advances from one of the architects, a man, then one from the couple of budgeting consultants, a woman, who'd gone along, advances which he'd turned down politely during the celebratory party.

He wasn't much for drinking or partying but he was a bit freer with his time socializing, catching up with friends, meeting new people he was going to start working with, now that Kotarou was in high school and didn't need his constant presence.

It was a bit lonely though, Ryuu could admit, not being constantly needed by his baby brother anymore, though Obaa-san had quickly reprimanded him for not acting his age, always thinking and worrying about things he needn't to anymore.

Three days from now (or was it two since it was already 1:30am?) Morinomiya's Sunshine Building would be open for business. Well, he didn't really think it was business. Obaa-san had been extremely generous when Ryuuichi had voiced his desire to work for the division of the company dedicated to its social-responsibilities and charitable works.

She'd instated him immediately as department head right after his graduation, batting away his entreaties to start as just an employee instead, saying he was better suited for the job than she was anyway, her having held the position temporarily since her daughter-in-law's death, the late Mrs. Morinomiya having been the division's founder.

His phone buzzed in his pocket, causing him to fumble a bit with his gloved hand and the 'answer' slide.

"Um, hello? Saikawa-san?"

"Good morning, Ryuuichi-sama. I hope I'm not interrupting anything though I hope you're wearing underwear while answering the phone."

"Wh-what?! No, uh, no you haven't interrupted anything."

For all the years he'd known Obaa-san's secretary-slash-butler-slash-all around go-to guy, Ryuu, for the life of him, still could not get the strange man's humor.

"Still, bothering you at this hour is still considered a nuisance but the Chairman has asked that I inform you of a semi-formal dinner we will be attending the night after the Sunshine Branch's opening at the Hebihara household's main compound."

"Oh, alright. I suppose we can move the charity dinner party next week. I'm on my way home and might be there around 2am. Please make sure Kotarou is already in bed. He has class tomorrow and I don't want him to sleep in."

"Yes, of course. I shall make the re-arrangements with the event coordinators. The chairman also says that if you are with anybody and wish to spend the night, there is no need to hurry back. Kotarou-sama is safe and the chairman would like you to find a lover soon, especially at your glorious age of 26. Good night, Ryuuichi-sama, or should I say good morning. I shall wait for your arrival."

"G-good, er, night too, Saikawa-san. No need to wait for me, I know the new security codes. See you at dawn."

Ryuu sighed as he cut the connection. Obaa-san had taken to reminding him of looking for a lover almost daily whenever they were able to meet in person and when the other wasn't so busy. He understood why though.

Saikawa-san had told him about the late Mr. Morinomiya who'd married at a fairly late age and was only able to spend barely a decade with his wife before the plane crash that took their and Ryuu's parents lives.

Obaa-san wanted him to find happiness as fast as possible and to enjoy it as long as possible even though he'd assured her he was perfectly content and happy with how things were at home. He ended up enduring a lecture about the merits of falling in love and how different it was from familial love.

Ryuu sighed again, rubbing his hands together despite having slipped back on his gloves.

It's not that he wasn't inexperienced with romantic relationships. He'd had three serious ones since high-school, the latest one he was so sure he was going to marry. Thinking about them made him a bit sad though.

Every last one of his relationships all ended the same way.

He'd believed everything perfectly okay until one day his girlfriend would say they needed to 'talk' which usually resulted in them crying and saying sorry, that it wasn't his fault, that it just didn't seem like he wanted the relationship as much as they did, that he wasn't passionate enough, that the chairman didn't approve, that he cared too much like a relative and not a lover, that Kotarou always came first and they came second, and he always always, although just as heartbroken by the break-up, always ended up being the one to comfort them until they parted ways.

He always ended up crying a bit about it alone, especially after his latest relationship three years ago, where he had been so sure he was ready to ask her if they could find a place for them together. Still having Kotarou and Obaa-san and Saikawa-san helped a lot though, and so he was content and wasn't too eager to find someone just yet, though he was positive there was someone out there who could accept him and all that came with it.

Kotarou and the Chairman were part of the package deal.

Just as he was about to re-enter his car, movement from the sidewalk caught his eye, causing him to pause and turn.

Their new building was on one of the many busy streets of Tokyo but as far as he knew, most of the surrounding buildings held offices for smaller scale companies who rented floors, agencies and small firms, if Ryuu was right. The street was mostly deserted but for him due to the late hour. Only the building to his right had some lights still on.

The Sunshine Building was a simple but beautiful architectural piece despite being only four-story tall and stood snuggly between two taller commercial buildings. Their street was one mainly for business and he and his companions earlier that night had to walk a considerable distance to the nearest family restaurant so it was a surprise to see a night-life scene erupt just a few yards away.

Two men who looked to be fighting burst out the glass doors of the building to his right, a frantic woman pleading for them to stop. He knew it wasn't any of his business but he stepped closer anyway and saw the fight looked almost one-sided.

One man, the taller one stood farthest from the building, his back to the road, coolly eyeing the infuriated man infront of him, the shorter one waving his arms aggressively while the woman begged for him to stop while tugging at the back of his shirt.

"You bastard! How dare you take another man's woman?! Ami-chan is dating me!"

The smaller man was still struggling from the woman's grip, face contorted in anger as he continued to snarl and cuss at the taller man with dark hair.

"Yuhi, please! It wasn't his fault! I-I was going to tell you!"

Ryuu saw the hit coming as the man gave a fresh shout of anger and whirled about on the girl. He gave warning but before he could even make a step towards the scene, the smaller man was already on the ground, crying out in pain as the arm he was about to swing at the woman was twisted painfully behind his back, the taller man having took action as he ground a knee onto the other's back, earning him a fresh cry of pain.

A sickening pop was heard before the taller man let off and stood up, a cool expression on his face, not even winded by the exertion. His eyes, Ryuu finally noticed, were sharp and observant, turning to Ryuu, surprising him.

Ryuu stood awkwardly, bent forward in mid run, before he straightened himself, feeling his face heat in embarrassment.

He belatedly noticed the woman and the injured man shuffle away. Only until the taller man broke their gaze, eyes flitting after the retreating couple, did Ryuu realize he was holding his breath while returning the other man's scrutiny.

He was about to say something when the other man trained his eyes on Ryuu once again, giving a curt nod which Ryuu returned clumsily. Even with the heavy shadows and only the street lamps to light the surroundings, Ryuu could make out the other man's features.

The other was tall, standing in an easy stance, almost arrogant, a stoic expression on his handsome face, eyes sharp and studying. The color of those enrapturing eyes, Ryuu could not tell properly with the light, but they looked completely black. Dangerous. Having seen the man in action, the deadly speed and grace of his movement, bellying the man's height and physique, Ryuu knew he was more than accurate in his assumption.

Strange that he felt weirdly secure all of a sudden, safe and no anxiousness to be felt despite having watched the man take down another in a blink of an eye.

He straightened, rubbing a hand at his neck sheepishly while the other walked away towards a sleek black car, an expensive model Ryuu had only ever seen during annual charity balls when the guests were trying to one up the others.

He turned back to his own car, his body oddly warm. The unexpected hand on his shoulder made him jump and yelp in surprise, causing him to whirl around, staring up at the man the lady had called 'Hayato' who he hadn't even heard creep behind him while he'd fumbled for the door.

"How much?"

"Excuse me?"

He cleared his throat, a bit embarrassed at the squeaky quality his voice had suddenly taken.

"How much for you to keep this quiet?"

Ryuu gaped, the other's impassive expression never wavering. He should have been offended at the implication of a bribe really but all Ryuu felt was a laugh threatening to bubble up out from inside him, warming his chest, a strange mixture of disbelief, mortification, and weird amusement.

He ended up chuckling anyway, unable to help himself. The man was looking wary for once, regarding Ryuu with a cautious look.

He supposed the man was entitled to be cautious. Ryuu assumed the other must be at least someone who'd had his picture in a publication more than once, looking familiar but from where, Ryuu could not pinpoint exactly.

Up close, this 'Hayato' person was undeniably handsome. The other man was clean cut, statuesque with expensive looking clothes. The unruly short black hair only added to the taller man's overall appeal. He didn't exactly look like someone from the entertainment or fashion industry, his demeanor, cold and closed-off, but Ryuu couldn't be sure since he was rarely interested in the hundreds of tabloids or gossip-news that thrived on exposing the lives of the famous.

Obaa-san too was averse to such 'trivial' things as she liked to put it, Morinomiya's reputation of impenetrable privacy was well known.

"I know a coffee place that just opened up a few minutes away if you'd like." He finally said, smiling up at the man whose sharp eyes still showed nothing, though there was a distinct downward twitch of his lips.

"Just state your terms. I don't care to haggle and I dislike acting under a pretense of courtesy when it is not needed."

Oh. The other man thought Ryuu had wanted to talk a deal. The straightforwardness and honesty was refreshing. He couldn't help but want to smile wider though he held back, softening his expression.

"No, no. Coffee will do. I was thinking of picking up some late night tea before heading home anyway and thought having company would be pleasant...Not that you have to of course! If you have somewhere else to be..." Ryuu trailed off, looking up with a hopeful expression.

'Hayato' looked surprised, one brow quirked as the only indication of it but Ryuu took it as a win, a different expression at last.

"I wasn't planning to report it to the police or paparazzi or anything, assuming that that's what you're worried about. Forgive me of any offense, but I don't even know you other than your name is Hayato, assuming the lady was right. Though I'm sure I should recognize you or something, I'm not exactly up to date with the latest people and trends." He added sheepishly.

His cheeks flushing when he belatedly realized he'd pretty much called the guy hot enough to be famous, sensing amusement rolling off of the other man though his face remained stoic, though the earlier frown was gone completely.

"Your car or mine?"

Ryuu stared. The man was definitely amused, how Ryuu could sense it, he didn't even know.

"Whatever you prefer, I guess."

Without answering the man turned on his heel, striding on long legs towards his own car before pausing to throw a look over his shoulder at Ryuu, as if asking 'are you coming or what?'.

Ryuu jogged up to the other man's side. He knew he was smiling again; he must've looked like a fool, unable to hide the slight heat showing on his face.

"Oh!" he exclaimed, causing Hayato(he hadn't denied that it wasn't his name) to turn to him, still in the process of fishing out his car keys.

"I-I'm sorry, I haven't even introduced myself. How rude. My name is Kashima Ryuuichi, 26 years old, I work, well will start working at that building over there next week. Nice to meet you...?"

"Kamitani Hayato, also 26. I don't work anywhere near here."

Ryuu bit his lip to keep from chuckling at the weird introductions they were both making. The name Kamitani sounded familiar indeed but he didn't think it had anything to do with Hayato. He was sure he would've remembered reading or hearing about the strange man before him.

"Nice to meet you, Kamitani."

Kamitani hadn't corrected him of leaving out an honorific so Ryuu gave a small bow before straightening, noticing Kamitani eye him strangely, as if searching for something in Ryuu's eyes.

Apparently satisfied with whatever he saw, the taller man returned the bow, graceful as ever, looking more relaxed as he righted up again.

"Nice to meet you too, Kashima."

He beamed up at the dark-haired man, ignoring the flutter in his stomach when his name rolled off the other man's tongue easily, no hint of anything other than a genuine greeting.

It wasn't a surprise that Kamitani hadn't heard of him or gave any indication that his name sounded familiar, or his connection to the Morinomiya empire. Few did and those were mostly old men trying to get in the Chairman's good graces.

Still, it warmed him the way Kamitani called him without an honorific, something familiar, making his name feel all the more special. It was all he had left, that and Kotarou, of his old life before his parents' death. Many of the company's legal counsel had advised Ryuu change it, Kotarou need not to, since Ryuu was the most likely candidate for heir to the company's fortunes and the Morinomiya's estates.

The short ride to the coffee place, a small quaint shop that had an unoccupied bar to one corner, was uneventful but filled with an unexpected comfortable silence. Neither of them feeling the need to break the ice that never formed.

It was nice, thought Ryuu. Quite nice.


"I didn't know, by the way."

"Um, sorry, what?"

Hayato tried not to stare into those warm earnest green eyes, cursing himself inwardly and his mouth that had run away without notifying his brain.

He didn't even know why he was explaining himself, the moment they got themselves a table. Explaining over a fucking cup of coffee, which tasted pretty good actually, in the wee hours of the day when sane people slept.

He didn't know why he felt like he wanted Kashima to understand, he felt it was important somehow, though the why was too far to grasp at the moment.

"I didn't know she was already dating someone else."

"Oh. It's, uh, it's none of my business anyway."

He watched, fascinated by the way the smaller man bobbed his head, nodding as if thinking over his own words and agreeing with it, dark red soft-looking hair waving softly as he proceeded to sip patiently at his own cup of plain black tea.

Kashima's face was tinged pink, lips pursed over the edge of the cup, a light sheen of sweat on his nose and neck, most likely from the tea's steam combined with the heater turned up onto cozy warmth.

It was still hard to believe that they were the same age.

"..."

There it was again.

That stupid completely un-awkward atmosphere around them.

Despite the strange and pretty awful circumstances when they'd met less than half an hour ago, Hayato was feeling fucking comfortable, and yeah, that little part of him that wasn't basking in the warmth of weird fuzzy glow of being around Kashima Ryuuichi was freaking out big time.

Hayato was rarely rarely surprised and the weird, all-too-trusting nice person with him had managed to surprise him more than once in less than an hour. What the hell.

He'd been intrigued at first by the bystander who'd looked abashed, maybe even slightly shamefaced that he hadn't been able to help Hayato take down that idiot Yuhi. Hayato made a mental note of calling in a few favors to take that asshole down a notch. Or two.

He hadn't really cared about the paparazzi getting wind of Ami's affair, hadn't cared that it would've been on gossip-news sites for an entire week.

But something made him turn around and walk up to the strange man, with his unforgettable sheepish smile and easily embarrassed demeanor. Something made him offer a bribe as a fucking conversation starter. Sure, he wasn't the most eloquent of men but if that wasn't the most idiotic thing to say to an interesting person, he didn't know what was.

Stranger even was that Kashima had only seemed amused, all warmth and gentle smiles when he had every right to be offended at being assumed to be a person who took bribes or stooped to blackmail or whatever.

He sipped at his coffee, perfectly bitter in just the right way. He ignored the two baristas who were shooting him covert flirty glances in favor of watching every little shift of movement Kashima made.

He was in the middle of remembering how his throat had felt a tad bit too dry when Kashima had shed his coat and scarf, exposing a slender frame though not at all girly, wrapped in a plain moss green long-sleeved sweater, making the smaller man's eyes look startlingly bright, the collar dipping low enough to expose his slender throat but barely grazing the top of his collar bone, when all of a sudden Hayato's business phone vibrated obnoxiously.

He fished it out from his coat draped over his chair, seeing Ami's name flash a few times before he blocked her number completely. He turned back to the table to see Kashima looking at him curiously. His chest didn't tighten. Not at all.

They talked about small things in the end, passing time without noticing it, the waitress attentively refilling their cups and offering small pastries that tasted heavenly even if, by all rights, Hayato should've been feeling sluggish given the hour.

Hayato drove the redhead back to his own car, not even sparing the building where Ami's agency was situated a glance, after Kashima had received a text, making the smaller man realize he should've been home more than an hour ago.

There were no other cars on the road but he parked by Kashima's, a company car by the looks of it. Hayato shot a look out the windshield at the still closed building where Kashima would be working, the shorter man having told him about the Morinomiya Sunshine Building earlier in a little detail while they took coffee, the name eliciting a snort from him. He assumed Kashima was just an ordinary salary man, though the other was far from being ordinary in his opinion, and was doing good by doing social work.

He hadn't told the smaller man about his own means of living other than that he was a businessman and Kashima hadn't pressed for more. He didn't know why but he hadn't felt like telling Kashima about Hayato's connection to the Hebihara Company, something he couldn't pin point nagging at the back of his mind.

"Thank you for the tea, Kamitani, though I really think I should've been the one who'd gotten the bill. I had a very pleasant time."

Hayato reached out, taking hold of the other man's arm when Kashima was already turned toward the door. He pressed his personal phone onto the redhead's hands, Kashima's brow crinkling in confusion.

"Your number. You have a phone, right?" he grunted out, unable to get any more coherent than that.

"Oh. Yes-yes, of course."

Thank kami Kashima understood whatever Hayato meant, typing in his number with an adorable flushed expression. He fought down the feeling of an impending freak-out as that small part of him, that part he'd always thought to be the biggest part of him, his rational side, kept chanting 'what am I doing? what am I doing?' while he waited quietly for Kashima to finish.

He rang the number, seeing his own flash on Kashima's phone before they said their goodbyes, the only awkward part of the entire time since they'd gotten in Hayato's car.

He returned to his own apartment, a penthouse floor on one of the many skyscrapers around the city the company had managed to buy out and refurbish. One-way glass all around from floor to ceiling, allowing him the perfect view and privacy, the walls he could always adjust the tint of to whatever suited him.

Hebihara Conglomerate's main office could be seen far off to the west, only a five minute drive away. He set the windows to high-filter, deciding he was going to sleep in and not let the sun deprive him of it.

Hayato showered and prepared for bed, ready to slump down onto the mattress before he fumbled with his phone for a bit, mind already hazy, half asleep when he pressed the send button.


[To: Kashima Ryuuichi]

"Hope to see you again soon. Had nice time."

[From: Kamitani Hayato]


He was fast asleep when his phone beeped with a new message...


[To: Kamitani Hayato]

"I look forward to it. :)"

[From: Kashima Ryuuichi]


A/N:

On the idea

Okay, so Rainbow Vein posted this idea on the mangafox Gakuen Babysitters forums which I just had to write about though I might be deviating from the prompt a bit.

lunaveea has also written a lovely fill for this, though I haven't read it yet because I don't want to mess up my headcanon just yet, and wow, this idea gave birth to so many plot bunnies now running rampant in my mind, I can't even. Go read it because I know it's going to be awesome because she is freaking awesome. She's, like, the one who banded us fangirls together.

On the chapter itself

I know it's pretty info-dump-ey for a first chapter but I couldn't resist because my mind is a sick and twisted place right now and the fluff bunnies are at war with the smut bunnies. The war is still raging so this is pretty much a warning that the rating might go up sometime if the smut bunnies have their way. (The drama bunnies and their minions, the angst bunnies, are hanging back to see who wins before they swoop in for the kill)

I use 'Taizou' for Hayato's father's name, using the corrected name the scanlators have posted. I picked the names Takato, Yasumi, Ami, and Yuhi at random because, fuck it, I'm not Japanese so I don't know names which are appropriate to specific details and whatnot.

For the life of me, I cannot, cannot find Inomata's first name(no matter how many times I re-read the scanlated chapters we have so far) and I don't want to give her a random one so I just used her last as her first, as with the case of Inui-sempai.

I'll be putting up notes at the beginning of a chapter for anything important like change of names or rating. New characters are showing up and different character developments are happening in the manga so I'll be posting relevant info because more likely than not, I'll be greatly influenced by canon despite this being AU.

...

Facts lifted from canon that I've had my merry way with: (Portion you'll be seeing a lot of in the future, facts related and/or influencing current chapter)

1. Ryuu never used honorifics with Hayato, even when they first met, which is weird even though they're the same age and stuff(though I'm not sure with the raws, this was observed from the scanlated first chapter)

Please forgive any typos and mistakes. Un-beta-ed and written mostly on my free time. This ship and this fic has taken over my life.