It is Christmas, and on Christmas we should have things we love, so here is Hikago fic, one of my favorite things in the world.At least a month ago I started writing a fic to go along with quaedam's beautiful beautiful Akira/Hikaru fanart that she drew for me. And then about six thousand words and two re-writes in I went "fuck it, this isn't the fic I want to write," and I wrote this one instead.
shushesyou has been working on a Tezuka/Ryoma fic since July of 2006 and I have been privileged to be her beta for the entire duration. There is a line from that fic that stuck in my mind, and really stayed with me throughout the writing of this one. It became the cornerstone for the theme running through my mind. In a stroke of coincidence, she finally completed that fic recently, after a year and a half, and I'm so excited for her.
This fic is dedicated to quaedam and thewhiteprophet in parts, equally - and to all of you who are feeling the Christmas spirit, and all of you who aren't. ♥
(the last move.)
(or, a Christmas fic in which there isn't even any mistletoe.)
it's been a long time
and now i'm with you
- Billy Joel
Akira is seventeen and Hikaru is walking ahead of him into a train station, and Akira is watching the way Hikaru drags his feet through the ice and mud. He is wondering why he cares so much about anyone so little concerned with getting their designer tennis shoes wet and dirty and full of snow.
Just before they enter the station, Hikaru stops in the middle of the mud and the sidewalk. Akira runs into him, bumping his shoulder against Hikaru’s when Hikaru turns around.
Hikaru looks at him with his eyes bright. “Hey,” he says. “You think this is what life is going to be from now on?”
It’s starting to snow. Flakes are starting to land on Akira’s face. He squints against the assault. “What are you talking about?”
“Like this.” Hikaru gestures to the empty space between them. “Just like. Go and going to Go tournaments and hanging out with Go players and nothing else.”
Akira wrinkles his nose. “I don’t see what’s wrong with that,” he says. “It’s nice.”
Hikaru looks at him and then looks at the nearest train passing out of the station headed for Shibuya. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” he says. “It’s just simple.”
He walks inside, and Akira gets snow in his mouth while standing and staring after him.
Three days later Akira deliberately resigns a game to his father, an exhibition match. It’s the best game he has ever played in his life, and Akira opens a door and sees his future stretching out before him in a series of patterns and moves and tournaments.
Later when his head is bent over the goban, he feels someone – it could only be Hikaru- moving to clutch his shoulders, wordlessly trying to be comforting and demanding all at once.
They ride back to Akira’s place in silence, and Akira says weary, rehearsed things about growth and fear and the divine move.
But really, all he can think is that he’s just not ready for things to be this simple.
His dad tries to go on as if nothing has changed, as if he understands his son on some deep cosmic level. Hikaru doesn’t even try to understand, which is somehow more comforting and reassuring than the odd strained silence at the Touya residence. Hikaru just calls him an idiot repeatedly and then abruptly stops mentioning it. The two of them tuck Akira’s resignation away together along with Sai, somehow by mutual consent without ever saying a word. Akira is grateful for it.
But when he’s alone, he recreates the game, his fingers leaving smudges against the unfinished kifu.
It’s no secret that Hikaru’s mom is completely out of touch with Hikaru’s life, so when Hikaru’s mom sends the Touya family a Christmas card with Hikaru’s signature scrunched at the bottom in reluctant tiny scrawl, he’s surprised. His mom is flattered: she puts the card on the mantle with all their other cards and calls Hikaru’s mom to say thank you. Akira listens to the conversation despite his best efforts not to eavesdrop. He’s never been to Hikaru’s house and wasn’t aware Hikaru’s mom even came to games; apparently, he’s wrong about this, because his mom laughs into the phone and agrees that it’s been a joy watching the boys grow up together.
“I’m sorry my mom’s a freak,” Hikaru says when he spots the card the next time he’s over.
“It’s okay,” Akira says. “I thought it was nice.”
“You think everything’s nice,” Hikaru says disdainfully. He’s brought a serving of his mom’s apple dumplings with him, though, as a courtesy since everyone knows he’ll be staying for dinner. Akira thinks that’s nice, too, but he just plays his next stone instead of saying so.
After dinner Ogata drops by with some flashy blonde on his arm; she sits in the corner with her legs crossed, looking totally bored until Kurata-san shows up and proceeds to make her laugh and generally flirt with her rather audaciously, considering the looks Ogata is throwing at him. Hikaru can’t stop smirking, and Akira would laugh if it weren’t for his father sitting right there. Somehow, Hikaru can probably read Akira’s mind, because after Kurata has finished off all the apple dumplings, he grabs Akira’s arm and tugs him outside onto the veranda.
“It’s freezing,” Akira says, clamping down on his chattering teeth.
“Hey,” Hikaru says, pointing. “Check out the moon.”
Akira looks at Hikaru instead, and it’s not cold at all.
Hikaru makes Akira come Christmas shopping with him in downtown Tokyo. It’s loud and glaring and Akira can’t lose the terrified five-year-old impulse to latch onto the edge of Hikaru’s coat as tightly as he can so they won’t get separated. He settles for griping instead. “This is silly. How should I know what you should get Waya for Christmas? Waya doesn’t even like me.”
Hikaru just smiles at him like he can tell that what Akira is really thinking is: “Why does everyone have to crowd into the same stores all at the same time? Why is Christmas music so obnoxious? Why does everything have to include flashing red lights? Can’t we just go home and play Go?”
“That’s not really fair,” Hikaru says. “You and Waya would totally get along if you weren’t so antisocial and he wasn’t so stubborn.”
“I’m not anti-social,” Akira snaps, feeling embarrassed by this blatant lie even before the two girls behind them start giggling behind their baby doll purses. “I’ve had you over to my house twice this week already.”
“Get real,” Hikaru scoffs, thumbing idly through a rack of drab-looking scarves. He ignores Akira when Akira frantically tries to move closer, away from the giggling. He tries to make it look like he’s examining a pair of gloves but he can tell Hikaru is on to him. “Best friends don’t count.”
“I,” says Akira, and that’s as far as he gets before words get stuck on his tongue and Hikaru drapes a nice green scarf around his neck.
“You should get that, it’s your favorite color,” Hikaru says. Akira looks down and it actually is his favorite color, and Hikaru has just called him his best friend.
He takes a step backward and bumps into a mini plastic Christmas tree that starts flashing blue and red lights at him and rotating in a circle as it plays some Christmas song someone other than Akira would probably know. He starts and glares at it. Hikaru drapes the other end of the scarf over the top of his head, and the two girls start giggling even harder.
It’s the first time Akira has ever understood the big deal about spending time with people you like at Christmas, because his cheeks are bright red and people are staring at him and Hikaru is rocking back and forth on his heels and singing along with the Christmas tree and laughing, and it suddenly feels like a holiday.
The Go institute has Christmas parties every year, but this is the first year Hikaru and Waya have been asked to host part of the ceremony. They give out humorous little prizes and everyone has too much food and there are always tedious jokes about the year Kuwabara got too rambunctious with the egg nog. This year, however, Waya and Hikaru are like slapstick artists, and Akira doesn’t know if they’ve rehearsed or what, but he can’t stop laughing, and he normally never laughs at things like these. Hikaru makes being the life of the party look so easy. Waya is the funny one, the wry one, but Hikaru is the one who barges in with the unexpected, like when he ad libs that giving Naze the ‘Hottest Rising Star’ award was the only way they could keep Kurata from giving it to himself.
“Or keep Touya from winning every competition in his age group,” he adds, and then, in the half-second before everyone chuckles, he somehow manages to go pale and flushed all at the same time.
Waya cuts in smoothly: “But you have to ask, is it the winning that makes him look good, or is it all the purple?” and everyone laughs harder, including Akira, even though he has set his knife down wrong-end into his soup. He thinks he might need to be grateful to Waya for that, but he’s not really sure why, or why Waya has to emcee the next five minutes of awards alone while Hikaru refuses to meet Akira’s eyes.
When he carries his plate into the kitchen half an hour later, Saeki and Ashiwara are standing in a doorway off to the right, half-hidden by the banister at the end of the hallway.
There isn’t even any mistletoe.
Akira stares at them until he realizes that he is staring, then nearly drops his plate in the middle of the floor. When he tries to duck inside the kitchen, he runs into the doorjamb. His hands are shaking as he empties all his leftover sushi into the garbage, and he takes an extra three towels from the dispenser before he manages to tear one off properly. He is still wiping his hands when he leaves the kitchen, trying not to look back or let them know he’s there.
He bumps into Ochi on his way out the door. “Hey, you’re leaving?” Ochi says. “But you’re up for awards…”
“Shindou can take them for me if I win anything,” he says. “Oh. Or my father.”
Ochi stares at him.
“I have to go,” Akira says.
His hands are clammy for days afterwards.
He replays the moment when Saeki’s hand tightened around Ashiwara’s elbow, as if he hadn’t been able to keep his hands still, hadn’t been able to help himself. He can barely concentrate on anything else, because he’d known in a vague way that some men liked other men, but now he knows what that looks like. It looks like Ashiwara running his fingers through Saeki’s hair, and it’s like his whole life has been opened up to him like a page in someone else’s diary.
Akira has always thought of himself as above the embarrassment of things like getting flustered over girls or getting erections in weird places. He knows in a vague way that such things exist, but has mostly assumed that he’s skipped all that during his adolescence by being totally obsessed with Go. If he’d thought about it long enough he probably would have realized at some point that his logic was faulty. After all, Hikaru is also obsessed with Go, and Hikaru jokes about checking out girls all the time.
Akira has never thought about whether Hikaru is really serious when he makes jokes like that.
But he’s thinking about it now.
Dear Diary, today Hikaru and I played Go until he dumped a goke over my head and I tackled him to the floor, and then he bit my shoulder and I tickled him until he was breathless.
Dear Diary, when I want Shindou’s attention I poke him in the ribs. When he wants my attention he slings his arm around my shoulder. Most of the time, though, we don’t need to get each other’s attention at all.
Dear Diary, tonight Hikaru sort of said he thinks I’m hot. And then I saw Ashiwara-san and Saeki-san making out in a doorway. Coincidence?
Hikaru normally calls him on the weekends they aren’t playing tournaments to invite himself over to Akira’s house for Go and dinner. He doesn’t, which is a relief because Akira has no idea what to say to him at the moment that isn’t, “So are you really into girls? Because if you are, you need to quit doing the thing where you touch my hair and whisper Go strategies in my ear, and maybe quit the epic rivalry stuff too, and also quit being brilliant and sweet, and also quit calling me your best friend and having stupid hair and living in Japan.”
Instead Waya calls. “Hikaru says you have to come to my Christmas party.”
“Oh,” says Akira. “Please don’t feel obligated. We always have plenty of Christmas gatherings to go to – it’s not like – “
“Ugh, will you get over yourself?” Waya says, the eyeroll clear in his voice. “Everybody knows the Touyas get a million Christmas invites. I still want you to come.”
“Oh,” says Akira. “Then of course I’ll come. I’d love to come.”
“Great, now Hikaru can stop fidgeting and making puppy eyes at me.”
Akira thinks of Hikaru‘s fidgety puppy-dog look, and has to hang up the phone. He’s really, really too old to spend the rest of the day hiding under the covers in his room. He adds that to the growing list of things that should have happened to him when he was fourteen, not seventeen with a Go title in sight and a mid-life crisis threatening at any moment.
Waya’s party is cramped inside his too-small apartment, which is oddly nice, because it’s warm and toasty and everyone has to huddle together in corners, talking and bumping shoulders. Waya’s strung thin Christmas lights in a zig-zag across the living room (bedroom), and hands every one spiced egg nog when they walk in the door. Akira almost likes Waya these days, or at least he thinks he would if Waya didn’t look mildly disgusted whenever they talk, as if it’s him who’s doing the slumming and not the other way around. The things Akira does for Hikaru, really.
Hikaru greets him with, “Hey, you wore it,” and then beams at him, looking stupid and beautiful in a black ribbed turtleneck that screams “Touya Akira would wear this.” But it makes his hair, at least the blond half, stand out feathery and white all along his face. It makes him look arched and smart and highbrow and perfect, and it hugs his sides and his narrow stomach and –
“Hey,” Hikaru says. “I meant the scarf.” He reaches out and waves the end in Akira’s face. “What’s with you lately? You left early the other night.” He narrows his eyes, and then suddenly flushes all over. “Hey, you know I didn’t – when I said that -“
“I left early because I was tired, Shindou,” Akira says, mortified. “That’s all.”
“Oh.” Hikaru looks a bit confused, still, but mollified. He grabs Akira by the elbow. Akira sees Saeki’s hand on Ashiwara’s elbow, again, and has to close his eyes. “Then come on, let’s grab something to eat and play Go.”
The logical part of Akira wants to protest that going off by themselves and playing Go is what they do all the time, that parties are different, parties should be for socializing and getting to know other guests. But curling up with Hikaru is what he wants to do most, so he lets Hikaru tug him by the sleeve and lead him wherever he wants to go.
It’s the first time they’ve played one another since the resignation. The game has been standing between them, something sharp and uncertain, but tonight everything feels open and endless between them – it’s a good feeling. It feels like they’ve been waiting, letting the anticipation grow, and there’s something honest and reassuring in the way Hikaru smiles at him when he sets up the game. Akira’s pulse skitters in his veins, and he has to look at the board instead of the flush on Hikaru’s face. There’s a cheesy Christmas album by some pop band playing, and Waya flicks a switch and the Christmas lights on the ceiling start to flash in rhythm.
And it shouldn’t make Akira happy, but between the music, and the spices, and the chatter, and the way Waya actually hasn’t insulted him once, and the way Ochi is actually doing something pro-social for once and talking to Naze instead of hovering over the two of them throwing jealous and vaguely threatening looks at Hikaru, and the way Hikaru noticed the stupid green scarf, and the way somehow everything seems fitting, everything seems ordered and right, Akira can’t stop smiling.
And because he’s overwhelmed with the Christmas spirit, and because everything is just so rosy all of a sudden, he blurts as Hikaru’s hand reaches for the stones for nigiri: “This doesn’t have to be a serious game – we should just have fun.”
Hikaru looks up, still confused, smile faltering on his lips, and Akira can’t stop staring at his hands and his mouth and his stupid, stupid hair, and Akira knows for the first time ever that his life will never ever be simple, because what he wants most of all, more than Go or scarves or anything, is to kiss Hikaru open-mouthed, right now, beneath mistletoe.
Hikaru says: “You never want to just have fun with Go.”
Akira says: ”This is… different. It’s a party.”
Hikaru says: “Is this because of the thing the other night? I told you I didn’t mean – “
Akira says: “No, there’s nothing wrong. I don’t care about whatever you said at the Institute.”
Hikaru stares at him, and a hard look comes into his eyes. Akira can feel the moment unraveling rapidly. He doesn’t know how to get it back.
“Will you calm down and stop being silly?” he says. “I just want to enjoy this.”
“Enjoy what?” Hikaru says. “We’ve been to a million of these.”
“I…” Akira wants to say: but not together. Not like this. Not right now. Not when I’d rather look at you than the board. Not when I could easily wrap the other end of this scarf around your neck. Not when you’re so close I could press against you and feel how warm you are.
He doesn’t know what to say, how to counter the look on Hikaru’s face. He knows logically that Hikaru is overreacting; what he doesn’t understand is why, and he doesn’t know how to ask without having to explain what’s so distracting he’d rather pay attention to it than play Go.
“Are you trying to get out of having to play Go with me?” Hikaru asks, his voice going a bit shrill.
“What? No, you moron.”
“Really?” Hikaru folds his arms and eyes up Touya’s side of the goban. “You haven’t played me since that game.”
“We haven’t had time since that game, you know that.”
“You could have made time if you wanted,” Hikaru snaps, his eyes flashing. And it’s true, Akira could have, except that lately when he’s been around Hikaru he’s had other things on his mind, like Christmas-shopping and letting Hikaru drag him to fifteen different ramen stands in search of the perfect soba noodle. And he doesn’t know when this turned into a fight, but if Hikaru is going to throw a hissy fit, he’s not going to let it ruin his evening.
“You’re overreacting and people are starting to stare,” he says primly. “If you insist on playing, I’ll be more than happy to oblige.”
“I don’t want to insist on it, you polyester idiot, I want you to want to play with me instead of making ridiculous excuses,” Hikaru hisses. He blanches. “If something’s changed then you need to tell me.”
Fat chance, Akira thinks, and slams down a black stone with unnecessary roughness on the lower right star.
“Nothing’s changed, it’s just been a busy holiday - and I fail to see what fabric preference has to do with this,” he snaps, silently adding, especially if you’re trying to convince me that whole thing where you really like girls is legitimate.
“If anything has,” Hikaru says again, and he’s looking straight at Akira with a nervous, tight-lipped expression that makes Akira’s stomach go queasy. “If anything has, you really will tell me, right? I don’t – ”
Akira bites his lip to keep Hikaru from realizing he’s holding his breath.
“- I mean, I don’t want anything to change,” Hikaru says roughly, looking down at the board.
Akira stares at him.
“But you said it was simple,” he says after a long moment. “You said you didn’t want simple.”
Hikaru’s eyes widen.
Akira looks at him. Suddenly his heart is pounding in his ears, and Hikaru is just looking at him and the whole world has stopped, everything is frozen, and Hikaru’s hand is inches away from his on the goban.
Slowly, slowly, he hears himself ask:
“So what do you want?”
For long moments neither of them move or speak or do anything, and the question is just there hovering between them like the uncovered spaces on the board. Hikaru wets his lips, and Akira wonders what would happen if he just cupped Hikaru’s face in his hands and did something about all of this, right now.
And then Hikaru looks at Akira and carefully pulls a white stone out of the goke. His eyes never leave Akira’s face.
He slides it across the board and places it next to the lower right hoshi. White against black. Akira looks down and sees everything at once: Saeki and Ashiwara, Hikaru’s two-toned hairstyle disaster, yin and yang, shiro to kuro, a perfect tsuke.
His eyes fly up to Hikaru’s face.
“I’m going to get something else to drink, do you want anything?” Hikaru asks. His voice is unsteady.
Akira shakes his head. He doesn’t think he can make a sound.
Hikaru doesn’t come back to the goban right away. Akira stares at the two stones, side by side, until Ochi sits down across from him and demands a game.
He looks over his shoulder but Hikaru is talking to Isumi, drink in hand. He sighs.
Ochi resigns well before yose. When Akira looks up again, Hikaru is gone.
The days before Christmas unwind in a blur of tinsel and buffet lines. Akira has never been invited to so many Christmas parties: the Christmas party at Kuwabara-san’s, the Christmas party at Ashiwara’s, the Christmas party at Kurata’s, the Christmas party at Naze and Honda’s, another Christmas party every time he turns around. At least a hundred, he complains bitterly to his mother.
And it’s funny, he thinks, that he and Hikaru are at every one of them and somehow manage never to be in the same room at the same time. It’d be funny, too, how Akira sees him in all the places where he’s not; how he hears Hikaru’s voice and sees his face, and wonders over and over again what he meant by those two stones placed side by side. It’d be funny if it weren’t what he’s always done, obsess over Hikaru. He wonders what his life would be like if Hikaru had never entered it, and the smallness, the loneliness of it, is more than he likes thinking about.
He’s too young to plan his life in notebooks and agendas and visions of bookshelves and Christmas parties of his own. Of their own.
He does anyway.
And then it happens, at Ogata’s of all places, where everything is just a bit too swanky and posh to be real, and everyone feels pressured to be twice as witty as normal. Since the only reason Ogata is even having a party in the first place is to outdo Kuwabara, he’s crammed everyone into his apartment between a forest of over-decorated Christmas trees and a gaudy angel in every corner. Oh, and mistletoe in every doorway, as if the guests weren’t nervous and awkward enough.
Akira is edging away from the buffet and bumps into Hikaru, who is edging in the opposite direction. Hikaru jumps and backs away and flushes bright red. Akira can actually hear his heart speed up.
“Hi,” he says.
“Hi,” says Hikaru.
They stare at each other. Hikaru’s ears are pink.
“What are you doing here?” Akira says, at the same time Hikaru says:
“This is such a weird party.”
“Oh,” Akira says. “It’s Ogata.”
“Yeah,” Hikaru says.
Akira blinks at him.
Hikaru blurts out, “I’ve been acting like a complete loser lately, I – “ at the same time Akira says:
“You left early the other night.”
“Yeah,” Hikaru says. “Sorry.”
“We still haven’t had our game.”
“I thought you didn’t – “ Hikaru cuts himself off and takes a deep breath, and Akira feels like such an idiot.
“No,” he says. “No, that’s not what I – “
He breaks off and opts for what he hopes is a speaking, coherent look instead of attempting to put any of this in words. It doesn’t seem to work. Hikaru is staring at him, uncertainty and guilt warring in equal measures with the crease across his forehead.
Akira tries not to panic. What he needs is a Go board.
He sees their two stones in his mind, side by side. By rights, it’s his move. So, he thinks. Move already.
He says, “Just come here,” and takes hold of Hikaru’s hand.
There’s barely anywhere to stand, let alone talk privately. Akira and Hikaru wind up standing on either side of Ogata’s outside steps and shivering. Akira is jumpy all over, though maybe that’s just because of the cold.
“I do,” he says. “I do want to play Go with you.” Hikaru sighs, whether in relief or anxiety, Akira can’t tell. “I always – “ Akira takes a deep breath. “I always want to play with you.”
Hikaru gives him a wide-eyed hopeful look that makes Akira’s pulse start playing speed Go.
“It’s just,” says Akira. “I like it when we do other things, too.”
“Like.” Akira is finding it hard to think clearly with Hikaru’s eyes pinned on him this way. “Shopping and hanging out and things.”
Hikaru blinks at him. “Well, yeah, Touya,” he says. “That’s kind of what friends do.”
Akira shakes his head. “No, I mean – I–it doesn’t have to be about Go.“ There. He feels the next move sliding into place in his mind. “I don’t want this to just be about Go.”
Hikaru stands up a little straighter, and his expression shifts into something dark and purposeful, the kind of look Akira’s seen him wear right before he pulls some miracle win out of nowhere just before yose. “Hey,” he says. "Can I show you something?"
Akira says, "Yes."
“You see that star up there? The one right next to the moon?”
And it’s completely unnecessary, Akira can see the star perfectly well, but Hikaru grabs his wrist and tugs him over to stand right next to him, and points. He’s warm all along the creases of Hikaru’s jacket. He takes a deep breath and leans against Hikaru’s shoulder. Hikaru tenses and then relaxes, and leans into the space where their bodies aren’t quite meeting. It’s comfortable and snug and this is suddenly the best party of the season.
“Even though the moon is right next to it, it’s still bright enough to stand out on its own,” Hikaru says. “I was thinking, I wanna be that star that stands out next to you.“
Akira looks at him. Hikaru isn’t looking at him directly – deliberately, Akira thinks.
“Hikaru,“ he says.
“And I – “ Hikaru says, a little too quickly, and now he’s sure of it, that Hikaru is not looking at him on purpose. “That’s how bright I want to make Sai’s Go in Japan. So it’ll stand out for the next thousand years. For forever.”
“Sai’s Go?” Akira murmurs carefully, afraid of ruining this, afraid Hikaru will skitter away from this subject. “Not Shuusaku’s?”
Hikaru finally meets his eyes, and from this close, for the first time Akira sees how deep, how bright they are beneath his messy hair. He acts so young, but in his eyes there’s something strong and reassuring and old as time, and Akira knows he could spend a lifetime learning to read Hikaru as he is right now.
“Yeah,” Hikaru says. “Sai’s Go.”
It’s an assurance, and Akira is closer to the truth, and to Hikaru, than ever before; so he says the only thing he can possibly say when they’re like this.
“Then that’s what I want, too.”
Hikaru’s eyes widen and he gives Akira the puppy-dog look, only it’s sharper and crystal clear and startling, and Akira blurts out before he knows what he’s saying, “I – that game with my father, I – “
Hikaru searches his face. “Yeah?”
“I was stupid. I threw it away because I was afraid.”
“Afraid of winning?”
“No.” Akira looks down. Their sleeves are touching. “I just kept thinking about what you said about life being about Go matches and that’s all. I kept thinking: after this victory what will be left? Some other victory, or some other defeat?”
Hikaru says, “Oh,” and then he’s grasping Akira’s sleeve and pressing closer.
“I kept thinking about my life – and what if it becomes all about defeats and victories and nothing else?” Akira says. “I – I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want that to happen to us.”
He looks at Hikaru. His head is swimming, but he’s never felt steadier on his feet.
“Christmas parties and subway trips and things – “ he says. “Maybe it is simple, but it’s something. I don’t care as long as – I mean.” He stops and forces the words out even though his voice is shaking.
“I want all the moments I can get with you. Like this.”
Hikaru stares at him for so long Akira feels his face start to turn red. He thinks stupidly that Hikaru is still clutching his sleeve so he couldn’t run away right now no matter how much he wants to.
And then Hikaru says: “Okay,” and takes one deep breath, then another. “Okay.”
Then he leans forward and kisses Akira on the mouth.
Akira is abruptly hyper-aware of everything: the cold on his cheeks; Hikaru’s scarf bundled around his neck and brushing Akira’s chin; the way Hikaru has closed his eyes as if he’s already memorized how this goes. He slips his mouth open a little against Akira’s, and Akira shifts closer, presses against his button-down shirt. He wants to feel if Hikaru’s cheeks are as warm against the frigid night around them as his lips are warm against Akira’s skin. When he cups his hand around the edge of Hikaru’s jaw, Hikaru’s throat catches, and he reaches up and slips his own hand over Akira’s.
They stay like that for a long time.
Akira wonders how either of them could have ever thought that this was simple.
Akira has never been invited to so many Christmas parties: the Christmas party at Kuwabara-san’s, the Christmas party at Saeki and Ashiwara’s, the Christmas party at Kurata’s, the Christmas party at Naze and Honda’s, another Christmas party every time he turns around. At least a hundred, he complains bitterly to Hikaru.
Hikaru rolls his eyes, kisses him, and shoves a packet of invitations in his hand.
At least a hundred, plus one.
Merry Christmas, everyone!