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Smooth Operator

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"Baby, you must be a fief. Because you—"

"Thief."

"What?"

"You pronounced thief wrong. Again."

"What did I say?"

"You called your beloved a small feudal kingdom. Which, I'm sure he'd also find flattering, for whatever incomprehensible reason. But incorrect." Ide Takuya points the English phrase book at him. "Again."

Yuuki opens his mouth. Closes it again. "I don't think this is helping."

"Hey, you were the one who wanted to speak words to reach Kei-chan's heart."

"Um, I definitely did not say that."

"Your dopey face said it for you."

A thought occurs to Yuuki. "Do you even speak English?"

Takuya shrugs with his whole body. "Not even a little."

Yuuki considers putting his head down on the table. Reconsiders it, because that won't accomplish anything. He is a grown-ass man. He doesn't need advice from someone a decade younger than he is.

"Thanks for the help," he tells Takuya. "I'll find some other way."

 


 

"Duuuuuude." Yonehara Kousuke stretches what should have been a single syllable into at least five separate beats. His grin is as wide as his face. "I got just the thing for you!"

Yuuki tries to protest — this was a mistake — anyway, he didn't mean — he was actually looking for Kamakari-san — but Yonehara has already broken out the guitar.

And, for some reason, a pair of sunglasses.

"This is totally the song to make Kei-chan fall for you! Trust me. It's tried and true."

Yuuki decides the manful thing to do is beat a retreat, even as the first jangling chords ring out.

 


 

"He started playing what?" — is as far as Yuuki gets in his conversation with Kenta, before the other man abruptly excuses himself.

Yuuki hears his running footsteps fade around the corner.

A door slams.

"You asshole, you said that's our song!"

 


 

Suzuki Shougo is, if possible, even less helpful.

"Wait— So you mean— But you— You and Kei are...a thing?"

Yuuki keeps a smile on his face through sheer force of will. And a lifetime of acting experience. Because that's what he is. He is an actor, after all.

"Forget I said anything," he tries. Shougo's eyes are so comically wide, he's liable to hurt himself. Or lose a contact lens. "I'll just. Go."

"No no, it's not that I'm weirded out or anything!" Shougo scrambles after him as he makes to leave. "Seriously. I mean. It's kind of a surprise. But not totally! Like, I've seen Kenta kiss Kousuke tons of times. Not always on camera. Which is kind of weird, but — not that I've seen you kiss Kei! Or want to! On camera or not. I'm just saying... Is this weird? Did it suddenly get weird?"

Yuuki can feel a muscle twitching in his jaw. "No, ah. It's fine. Really."

"Oh, okay. Good." Shougo's sigh of relief is an actual verbal phew. "And, hey — I'm sure Kei will be super happy to see you."

His face is starting to hurt. Since when did smiling require so many muscles? He's pretty sure he read somewhere that it takes more muscles to frown.

"He talks about you all the time," Shougo says next.

The surprise wipes the smile right off his face. Along with any other expression. Leaving possibly a slightly terrifying blankness, going by the way Shougo blanches.

"Nothing bad, of course! All good things! Mostly like, Yuuki-chan is really great and funny and that kind of thing. And not funny in a mean way! Just kind of like how Kousuke talks about Kenta, and — oh. Oh. Ohhhhh."

Yuuki waits for Shougo's epiphany to pass.

Shougo stares into middle distance for a second longer. He visibly shakes himself. "Um. Sorry. Anyway, you're just here to see Kei-chan, right?"

"Yes." Not that he's had much luck. "Idetaku said he was gonna be late. So I was just." Trying to buck up.

Yeah, no. He's not saying that out loud. Ever.

"You can wait in the break room if you want," Shougo offers. "There's coffee and stuff."

 


 

An hour later, Yuuki has come to two conclusions: 1) he's never going to figure out what to say to Kei, and 2) the coffee was a bad idea.

Now his hands are as jittery as his nerves. Not that he's going to admit that out loud. But there's only so long he can hide his hands in his pockets before some passing staff member starts asking questions.

He drops his change while trying to get something sugary and non-caffeinated from the vending machine.

At this point, Ide Takuya's English pick-up lines are starting to sound like a good idea.

"Baby, you are a sieve. Because you—" What was the next word? "—you still my heart."

"Yuuki-chan?"

Ka-thunk goes the vending machine, depositing a can of soda. Yup. Definitely the vending machine. And not. Well.

He picks up the soda. Turns around.

Kei smiles at him.

Yuuki — after a moment of remembering how facial muscles work — smiles back.

"Hi. Uh." Real smooth. "You're here."

"A little earlier than I expected, yeah." Kei shrugs, somewhere between sheepish and shy. And that's new. "Shougo texted me to get over here. They all did. Even Takuya. Though his was in English, which."

"He doesn't speak English even a little bit."

"Not exactly, no." Kei's lip twitches. "But he can read it pretty well."

Implying that he wasn't just yanking Yuuki's chain earlier. Ide Takuya is a weird one, that's for sure. Also—

"What, uh. What did he say?"

"Hmm?"

"In his text."

"Just that I should hurry on by." Kei glances at the floor. Glances back at him. He's biting his lip, like he's worried. "Because you had something to ask me?"

"Uh," says Yuuki, very intelligently. Forget English; even Japanese is beyond him in that moment.

Kei is looking at him, waiting.

Kubota Yuuki bucks the hell up.

"I was just wondering," he says. "If you wanted to. Maybe. Have dinner." He breathes out. Realizes he should clarify, "With me. Sometime." Preferably soon. "Like, tonight. Or — you know."

Literally the opposite of smooth.

Maybe he should have gone with a song.

"Yuuki-chan."

A light touch on his arm — Kei's hand, drawing his attention. As if any part of him ever failed to do that in the first place.

"Whenever you're free," Yuuki finishes, fully aware that he's several beats late. In general.

Kei doesn't miss his cue. "I'd love to," he says. "Tonight. Or whenever."

His face is hurting again, Yuuki realizes a couple seconds later. Smiling really does take a lot of muscles. Even when you're not forcing it.

"Great. Yeah, okay. I'll pick you up at eight?"

"Okay." Kei's biting his lip again. It's not worry, Yuuki realizes; Kei is blushing. Something goes ka-thunk, and it's definitely not the vending machine. Kei smiles at him. "It's a date."

 


 

Baby, you must be a thief, because you just stole my heart.