2 am


Tokyo was a city of lights. The blinking, flashing myriad of colours and logos penetrated the still sky, tinting the grey clouds with a haze of pink, blue, yellow. The sounds of the nightclubs, the bass of a bar floated up among the sleek, metal turrets, fading as they reached a sole penthouse apartment. The lights cast the expansive, open living room with rippling shadow and the only sound heard was the rhythmic ticking of the clock; gradually counting down the seconds until morning. The only sound, that is, expect two low voices, vibrating ever so softly across the night's threads, creating a distinct, intricate resonance of their own.

"Usagi"
"Mm?"
"What do you think about...about loving someone?"

Akihiko shifted in his bed, recalibrating long limbs so his chin came to rest on the comfortingly warm head of Takahashi Misaki. He would have looked at his face, savoured the delicious blush, the quivering lips as Misaki talked about something even brushing the boundaries of 'love'. But the gloom was oppressive, heavy curtains drawn and the alarm long pulled out of the socket. The boy turned his head and Akihiko felt the prickle of hot breath against his chest, he smiled gently at the sensation.

"What I mean to say-" Misaki mumbled into his lover's shirt. "When do you think it begins? Nii-san said there's no actual start, it just builds naturally and Todou-kun said it was when the girl gets pregnant but I think he was joking-"
Akihiko tried to suppress a chuckle, pressing his lips into Misaki's hair, but he felt the familiar buzz and sighed frustratedly.
"Well if you're not going to take it seriously then I'll be going to sleep, I do have school tomorrow anyway and-" He rolled over abruptly, balling the sheets under his chin, leaving Akihiko feeling suddenly and bitterly cold in his absence.
"Misaki…" The outline of the boy's shoulders stiffened slightly, he always had a notably pleasurable reaction when the author lowered his voice but oddly didn't start at the hand gently catching his wrist, pulling him to lie face to face with Akihiko. He could just make out the low gleam of his eyes in the near-darkness, fixed on his face.
"I didn't love you immediately, Misaki." Akihiko half-winced, a little trepidacious of the response, thankfully Misaki snorted.
"Ha, I hated your guts."
Akihiko smirked. "Thank you. I thought you were stubborn, strong-headed; nothing like Takahiro, I was still clinging to some hope that we could be together and you were that link."
He felt the boy shift uncomfortably next to him, as he always did at the mention of that particular element of their shared history – Akihiko thought he'd better get to his point.
"But-" he hastened, drawing Misaki closer to him. "That night, in the snow…when you cried for me." The pair were suddenly very still, only Akihiko's voice resonating in the space between. "I knew that was someone to whom I was totally, irrevocably linked. A boy that could feel my sadness and express it before me…" His whisper died away. The snow was still fresh on his face, the cold searing his skin. Misaki's face, distressed and concerned swam before him. He saw those huge green eyes well with tears, clinging to dark lashes for just a second before breaking free and spilling down his face. The boy sobbing quietly as he pressed his face into Akihiko's jacket; the feel of his fingers lightly stroking Akihiko's face when they kissed.
"I knew I loved you." The memory dissolved in the present, but it wasn't Akihiko who had spoken.
The men lay, listening just to the silence crowding the dark room. Akihiko sat up, leaning heavily on one bare arm, to see him lover's face. Misaki's eyes glinted softly, his expression indistinguishable in the gloom.

"What did you say?" Akihiko's voice was constricted, careful as though coaxing a baby bird that might fly any second. There was a momentary pause before Misaki hummed disapprovingly. "Well, if you're too tired to pay attention then maybe it's just better if we go to sleep. I may not be a famous writer but as a student of Japan I-"
He yelped quietly, proliferations muted as a firm arm slid around his waist. The boy didn't budge but Akihiko chuckled lightly as he tensed, conditioned to brace himself for the expected, intoxicating onslaught of affection. It was with a substantial degree of surprise, therefore, that Misaki found himself being pulled close to his lover, one strong arm resting on his waist, the other over his head. Akihiko brushed Misaki's hair from his face with a tenderness that belied his frosty exterior; he brushed his lips lightly over the boy's forehead, the bridge of his nose, before moving down. He was somewhat concerned to see Misaki's eyes shut tightly, with a childlike adamance that he found irreproachably charming.

"I love you." It was half whispered, half sobbed, light enough to be carried away and swallowed by the night but heavy enough to weight a lump in Akihiko's throat and a dull ache in his chest. He tried to think of something to say, his life was fuelled by words, by lacing language into a beguiling narrative but now... he was lost. He could only suppress the grin the broke out, triumphant and glowing and hold his lover closer, pretending to ignore the muffled sniffs that self-conciously carried up to his carefully contained elation. He would spare the boy his pride; for now at least. As Misaki's breathing grew regular, his chest rising and falling delicately against the author's, Akihiko could feel his own eyes closing. The final, fleeting images before his eyes were the dancing shadows against the wall, tiny shapes darting in and out of the narrow shaft of light across the ceiling. Each unique flake a fragment of a memory and an echo of the voice that Akihiko would carry with him, warming and strengthening every aspect of a once jaded and disillusioned man.