Hiroki is due to publish a paper, which means he is knee-deep in relevant academic journals and books, various photocopies littering the hardwood floor of his home office. He considered getting most of his sources from online databases, but there is something in him that feels at not having a hard copy — probably the same something that makes him resent e-books and anything else that replaces the thrill of turning the pages of some old tome or feeling the rough parchment of an ancient scroll.
Nowaki is never one to complain when Hiroki is busy typing and editing and trying to remember where exactly that quote was on which dog-eared page, so it comes as some surprise to Hiroki when he hears a knock on the door. He isn't sure what made Nowaki dare to disturb him while he's working, though he has some suspicion it has to do with him whisper-yelling at the moron of an academicwhose published papers have argumentative holes so large he could metaphorically fit Nowaki through them.
He's sitting cross-legged on the floor, and when he gets up the abrupt weakness in his in his legs causes him to falter before he reaches the door. The sensation of pins and needles starts up in his legs as the blood flows back into them, and Hiroki is suddenly aware of the typist's cramp in his wrists and the way his neck hurts from craning over a computer screen for so long. He would have worked at his desk, but the damn thing is cluttered with notes he has yet to evaluate the importance of and so doesn't want to accidentally lose.
When he opens the door, Nowaki is standing there with a smile so bright it could power a small city and a handbag strap over his shoulder. He's also holding two bento boxes with an aroma so mouth-watering Hiroki is unable to stop the Pavlovian increase of saliva that follows.
"I thought we could have lunch in together in the park," he says. "If you can take a break from work, that is."
Hiroki can feel his wrist still thrumming with soreness as he realizes that yes, it is, in fact, daytime and a reasonable time for lunch. He almost agrees but then realizes it is also the middle of November. He tells Nowaki this, but the man just frowns.
"It's a Saint Martin's summer," Nowaki says, leaning against the door frame so Hiroki can't close the door even if he wants to. "Didn't you notice?"
"No," he admits, and when he closes his eyes for a moment, he sees flashes of highlighted and underlined paragraphs, annotated pages, and dozens of sticky notes. "Sure, I'll go with you, then." It's probably better for his health.
When Hiroki walks outside he cringes as his eyes readjust, head momentarily throbbing as his body acclimates to the brightness of the daylight.
His leg muscles feel all the better out of the position they've been in for goodness knows how long, and he relaxes his shoulders as he and Nowaki make their way to the park, making small talk all the while. The sunshine has turned from a source of pain to pleasure, and it's a wonderful feeling not having to cite every thought and to be able to look at something other than the written word.
When he gets to the park, and Nowaki finds a place to lie down the sheet for a picnic lunch, he even lets himself think that perhaps having Nowaki interrupting him when he's working isn't such a bad thing — after all, unlike a particular friend of his, Hiroki actually understands time management, and therefore, can meet deadlines.
Somewhere in the middle of their meal, when Nowaki is telling him about how one of the customers at the floor shop learned that day her son was allergic to a certain type of flower, Hiroki even feels gregarious enough to thank Nowaki.
"For what?" Nowaki says, pausing in the middle of his story.
He feels his face heat up. "You know what," he tries, but Nowaki just gives him a strangely adorable puppy dog look, and Hiroki is persuaded. "For interrupting me." At Nowaki's answering grin, he adds, "not that you should often! But sometimes…"
"I understand, Hiro-san," Nowaki tells him, and as they go back to food and conversation, Hiroki can't help but think that when he gets home, his paper probably won't be quite as dreadful as it was before.
The term for a sudden period of summer-like weather in autumn (usually in November) that I am more familiar with is Indian summer; however, the term has very problematic origins and connotations, so I used the French term instead.
I always have the most difficulty writing this couple, but hopefully this worked out all right.
As always, all reviews welcome.