So my wondrous ones, this was the last chapter of my repost, but I have added new stuff on to it. And we're off, galloping into new (and old canon) territory!

On Another Path: Volume II

Chapter Two: Driving Forces

It was Friday, a bit shy of noon and Hiroki had just finished his last class of the day. Today was a light day for him and, wonderfully, he had no Saturday classes this semester. The literature student rose from his seat and set his book and his laptop into his bag.

A few of the girls in the class cast wistful eyes at him, but Hiroki didn't notice.

This was not the first time he had been the recipient of such unacknowledged attention, but he caused more of a stir today as he looked particularly sharp. Though he would never admit it and had taken great pains to avoid it, he'd chosen his ensemble carefully that morning in anticipation of his outing with Akihiko.

Hiroki had not seen his lover since the day they had made the date. They both had been busy with classes and Akihiko said he had to start another book project. He had something "a bit different," he wanted to explore.

Bowing respectfully to Professor Yoshida on his way out, Hiroki thanked him. He had made his formal apology to Yoshida the day after his outburst in the hall with Akihiko and was being very mindful to conduct himself impeccably now and to stay in the Professor's good graces.

As he left the class room Hiroki's brow took on an anxious crease.

Over the course of their friendship, he and Akihiko had done countless things together: ate, attended lectures, seen films and concerts, and yet, Hiroki had never felt quite as he did today.

Measuring his steps, as he left the classroom he headed out to the grounds. It was all he could do to hold himself in check and not run to their appointed meeting place to see if Akihiko was there yet. Hiroki's heart raced a bit faster with anticipation and he damned himself for being so easily moved.

Part of his agitation, he supposed, was a testament to the power of language. It was amazing what affixing a simple one syllable word "date" to a series of events did to a person's emotions. He'd never been on a proper date with a man before: all his past liaison's had come from pickups in clubs and bars, and a few less reputable places. Regardless, he was annoyed for feeling so nervous.

Walking across campus Hiroki wondered what Akihiko had planned. The idiot had refused to make any disclosures, saying he wanted to "surprise" him. Given Akihiko's nature, Hiroki supposed he had a right to feel disconcerted.

We could end up spending the whole date shopping for marimo, or some other waste of time and money...

Hiroki huffed an annoyed breath, considering the increasing number of tanks in Akihiko's apartment. Sato-san had been quick to vocalize her disapproval and her reluctance to having to clean them, so, when around, he'd found himself dealing with them.

Looking up from this thought, Hiroki was immediately greeted with the picture of Akihiko parked just outside the campus' south gate.

His heart skipped a beat and suddenly he didn't care how they spent their time that day or if Akihiko wanted to add a hundred new tanks to his flat.

Akihiko looked impeccable. He was dressed in an expensive suit and leaning against the side of a sleek, silver sports car. The first thing Hiroki noticed, outside of the fact his lover was fucking gorgeous, was that the man was sans cigarette. Hiroki found himself hard pressed not to smile at this.

Instead, however, he affixed a scowl on his face as he neared the car.

"What's this?" His tone was suspicious. Akihiko had been driving a stately sedan for a few years now, a family car given to him by his father.

Hiroki knew Akihiko, with his passion for automobiles, had been coveting a sports car for ages. However, though the senior Usami kept a relatively loose rein on his youngest son's finances, it was not loose enough for that kind of indulgence.

"It's a rental." Akihiko ran a hand over the curve of the car's hood in the same way he would a lover. Hiroki knew it was ridiculous, but he felt a slight pang of jealousy witnessing this reverent touch.

"It's a bit flashy." Hiroki blushed, extremely conscious of the stares both the car and Akihiko were drawing from the other "T" students passing by.

"No, I disagree. In fact, I think it's just right to carry two young men with brilliant futures off for a night out on the town." Akihiko rose up off the car and stepped out to meet his "date."

He turned back for just a brief moment to admire the vehicle's greyhound contours. "It's a Nissan 370Z, the Fairlady Z. It has a V6, 332 horsepower engine. This one has a 7-speed automatic transmission but, you know, it can come with a with 6-speed gearbox, instead, if one's so inclined. I got the automatic for the city, but I'd love to drive a manual out in the open sometime."

Hiroki had felt his eyes begin to glaze over at the first set of numbers. He sometimes felt it made his masculinity suspect that he cared nothing about cars, models, or their mechanisms. To him the point was that the vehicle took him from one place to another. He would much rather fill his memory banks with poetry, passages of prose, or, at the very least, baseball stats.

Looking at Akihiko's shining eyes, however, Hiroki understood it was different for his lover.

Cars were a subject Akihiko and his grandfather in England had spent hours bonding over. Hiroki knew Akihiko, though he hated his mother, revered the Usami patriarch. And, from what little he'd garnered from the rare bits of information offered about his lover's childhood, it seemed that Akihiko's westernized grandfather's awkward affections had, quite possibly, been the only thing that had kept him from going completely mad in his younger years.

Not wanting to dampen the lovely sparkle in Akihiko's gaze, Hiroki feigned interest and nodded. "Nice."

"I wanted red but they only had silver and black," Akihiko sighed. "I thought black was too heavy for this occasion,"

"I'm glad they didn't have red," Hiroki commented, thinking about how much more attention that would attract. "Besides, silver goes better with your hair." It wasn't until after he muttered this that Hiroki realized how fey this sounded. He frowned at his unfortunate expression.

Akihiko, however, was delighted with comment. He stepped up to Hiroki and placed an affectionate peck on the brunet's cheek.

"What in the hell, Akihiko!" Hiroki growled and pushed him away. "We're in public!"

This rebuff did not dampen Akihiko's spirits in the least. "Just wait till I get you in private then!"

Hiroki blushed at this just as furiously as he scowled. He made his way to the car. He noticed Akihiko stepped ahead of him and prepare to open the passenger door.

"Don't even think about it, Akihiko!" Hiroki rumbled his warning.

Pale brows rose and Akihiko grinned, but he bowed slightly acknowledging his lover's directive and stepped away. This modest concession mollified Hiroki somewhat. He opened the door and slid in, his nostrils filled with the rich scent of leather.

Akihiko opened the driver's side door and slid in next to him. In his walk around the car he had carefully composed his face, but his eyes glowed.

"You're in fine fettle today," Hiroki grumbled.

"And why shouldn't I be? I'm going on a date with the man I love. I can think of few things more uplifting."

Hiroki couldn't help but snort at Akihiko's enthusiasm. Still, he was moved by his friend's pleasure and the tight bands he normally employed to keep his expansive heart well-contained, loosened.

Akihiko started the car. He cocked his head slightly, listening and relishing the purr of fine mechanics.

"Ready for an adventure?"

The young author was shocked when in answer, strong hands gripped the front of his suit jacket and pulled him forward. Hiroki's lips brushed his softly and then quickly became more fervent. Feeling Hiroki petition for entrance, Akihiko opened himself and soon Hiroki's tongue was in him, filling his mouth with a slick poetry of sensation.

Encountering the true taste of Akihiko and not his cigarettes, Hiroki was suddenly famished. His hands sought Akihiko's silvered mane as he pulled the him in. His mouth pursued his lover's vigorously. When he finally released Akihiko, they were both breathing hard.

Hiroki adjusted his trousers where they had suddenly become a bit tight. He snapped his seat belt casually as if what he'd just done was a perfectly normal, everyday occurrence for him. He turned back to his wide-eyed author and reached out his thumb to smooth a bit of saliva that glistened in the corner of Akihiko's mouth, while his sly tongue licked out slowly, gathering another bit that lingered on his own kiss-bruised bottom lip.

Seeing Akihiko's pale eyes grow a bit wider yet at this sensual tease, Hiroki turned face-forward in his seat and gazed out through the windshield. "Now I'm ready."

The barest twist of a smile quirked his mouth.

Akihiko however couldn't help but break into a wide grin himself. Hiroki caught the look from the corner of his eyes and his chest swelled just slightly. It was the kind of smile Akihiko had only brought out for Takahiro before and it rendered him incredibly beautiful.

"Wow, if I'd known a date was going to get me that kind of reception, I would have asked you out years ago!"

Hiroki fidgeted in his seat at these words. "Shut up and drive, Dumbass."

Akihiko's joy could not be dampened by Hiroki's feigned temper. He gave a gallant nod and slipped the car into reverse.

Once the car was in motion the couple fell silent.

Sitting in a private car and not taking public transit always felt like a luxury to Hiroki, even though he had ridden with Akihiko numerous times before. He watched as Akihiko skillfully maneuvered away from the campus and into the busy downtown streets. In their continued silence, Hiroki felt his earlier bravado begin to slip away from him.

He suddenly wondered if he shouldn't have done more for their outing.

What are the expectations in a situation like this anyway?

As they drove past a digital clock, Hiroki noted the time again. I wonder if Akihiko's had anything for lunch? Should I have brought a bento or something?

Hiroki tried to distract himself from his mounting worry by casting surreptitious glances at his lover. He noted Akihiko fidgeting a bit himself.

Akihiko never gets nervous, he probably just wants a cigarette.

His suspicions were confirmed a moment later when Akihiko cleared his throat. "Say, Old Man, could you grab my pack from the glove box?"

A sigh escaped Hiroki as he leaned forward; words of disappointment teetered on the tip of his tongue. He swallowed them quickly, however, when the compartment door fell opening revealing only the rental documents and a pack of nicotine gum.

Hiroki reached in and pulled out the gum. He looked over at Akihiko, who gave him a wink and a smirk.

"Idiot," Hiroki growled handing over the pack. He blushed knowing he'd been played and grew even darker when he thought about how Akihiko would have ragged him, if he'd articulated any of the things that he'd been on the verge of saying.

"Is that any way to speak to a man whose making such a sacrifice for you, Hiroki?" Akihiko pulled a piece of gum from the pack and popped it into his mouth.

Watching Akihiko chew, Hiroki was struck with the thought that despite, their dangers, cigarettes were certainly a sexier look.

"Because honestly, this quitting business is a pain in the ass." Akihiko growled around his gum. "I want you to know that if I make it through this, I expect to live to a hundred and five and I am holding you responsible to get me there."

Both young men's eyes widened when instead of tossing off a snappy retort to this tease, Hiroki replied with a serious sounding, "I'll do my best."

This was followed quickly by "Watch the road, Moron!" as Akihiko had been so caught off guard by this response he'd almost stopped the car in the middle of the fast moving traffic.

The notion that Hiroki might stand by his side for any real length of time had finally struck him. "You'd do that, Hiroki?"

Akihiko found himself being scowled at by a pair of fierce, dark eyes. Hiroki blushed crimson at what he'd inadvertently declared but it was also his truth. That didn't mean, however, that Akihiko could pull him into some sappy confession.

"Of course! I just said it didn't I?" Hiroki shifted his gaze and fixed his eyes firmly on the trunk of the car ahead of them. "I mean, who else is going to put up with you for that long?"

Akihiko felt his heart well, understanding the meaning beneath Hiroki's words. .

Silence descended again upon the couple. After a few minutes, unable to endure all the troubling self-talk going on within his head, Hiroki reached over and turned on the radio. An cacophonous swell of sound erupted and the rumbling lyrics of American rap poured out through the car's speakers.

Hiroki grimaced and reached out to switch it to something else, but then noted that the stereo was a complex new-fangled set up. The literature student realized with chagrin that he had no idea how to go about selecting a new channel. Rather than look like an idiot pressing all manner of buttons, Hiroki dropped his hand and allowed the bass-heavy beat to continue.

When the next thumping song started, Akihiko cast his pale gaze over at his friend. "You fancy that music, do you, Hiroki? I always thought you went more for classical."

"It's the poetry of a new generation!" Hiroki declared hotly, though truthfully his temples had already begun to ache.

Akihiko cocked his head and listened to the lyrics. This new song was apparently about fast food since someone's "milkshake" was "bringing all the boys to the yard."

He shook his head and watched a new and furious blush spot Hiroki's cheeks.

Akihiko snapped his gum. "You have strange taste in music, my friend."

God these guys are fun to write. I appreciate all the alerts and favorites for this new arc. Thanks for reading and please review!