Kaoru arrives to Chiaki’s door at seven on the dot. He likes to be punctual on dates – not that this is necessarily a date. He couldn’t bring himself to go to the movies in public together, so when Chiaki suggested – with puppy eyes – that they watch a movie at Chiaki’s place instead, Kaoru just couldn’t refuse.
Chiaki never specified that it would be a date, but Kaoru kind of hoped for that, because otherwise he’ll look like a fool with flowers in his hand and a faint scent of cologne floating around him.
Chiaki pulls the door open with a wide smile on his face, and while he looks surprised to see the flowers, that expression is soon replaced by a furious blush.
”Hi”, Kaoru clears his throat. In a heartbeat, he decides he’s not brave enough, after all. ”I passed by a flower shop on the way, so I thought… I saw sunflowers there, and…”
His hands are sweating as he gives the bouquet to Chiaki. He doesn’t mention that he chose the route that passes the flower shop on purpose, with full intent to buy flowers.
Chiaki accepts them and takes a whiff before speaking. Kaoru watches his face, still flushed, sees his pleased smile, his eyes that blink open to look back at Kaoru, and realises that if Chiaki didn’t mean to ask him on an actual date, Kaoru might break his own heart by treating it as one.
”Thank you for the flowers, Hakaze”, Chiaki smiles, ”that was really thoughtful. You’re a good friend. Come in, come in!”
Ouch. Ouch. That’s it, then, and Kaoru swallows the storm that brews inside him in an instant, then swallows his anxieties, decidedly pushes them away even as his head begins to spin.
Strictly friends! That’s okay! Friends is great! If Kaoru meant to confess tonight, that’s okay! He doesn’t have to!
Kaoru swallows once more, just to make sure nothing escapes his throat, and follows Chiaki inside.
Chiaki’s house radiates a warm atmosphere, and somehow, it calms Kaoru down in an instant. He would feel envious of such an environment, if he wasn’t busy feeling incredibly comfortable.
”You can leave your shoes here”, Chiaki points, ”and we have guest slippers here… hmm, I’ll need to find a vase for these…”
Chiaki seems excited, and Kaoru follows him with fondness trying to burst out from his chest. Chiaki takes him to the kitchen – which also has a cozy feel to it – and gestures Kaoru to sit while he finds a vase.
Maybe friends isn’t too bad. It doesn’t mean he’d have to let go of Chiaki’s smile.
”Do you want something to drink?” Chiaki asks next. ”I have some snacks, as well…”
”Actually, I… brought something to eat too…” With every word, Kaoru grows more embarrassed, but he can’t take back the sentence once he’s started it.
”You did?” Chiaki gasps, and he’s blushing again, which is unfair, because it looks really good on him, and Kaoru momentarily forgets what he even brought.
”It’s, um, not much – just some cookies – but I hope you like them…”
Right! Some cookies! Nothing special! Just some cookies that, now that Kaoru pulls them out of his bag, are very obviously handmade. Chiaki notices the same thing immediately, making a soft gasp when he sees the box they’re in.
”Did you make these yourself?” Chiaki asks, and Kaoru almost wants to lie, so Chiaki doesn’t find out just how much effort Kaoru put in today –
”Yeah, I did”, he nods, and when Chiaki smiles, surely he rivals the sun in his brightness, and Kaoru needs to speak before he’s blinded. ”I’ll have water, please?”
Chiaki springs to life, shaken out of his thoughts, and Kaoru sighs, slumping down in his seat. At least once they watch the movie, his expressions will be unreadable.
Chiaki gets them both some water, and Kaoru carries the flower vase, and then Chiaki takes Kaoru upstairs to his room, and Kaoru is suddenly a hundred times more nervous.
It’s – much like Kaoru imagined, to be honest. Posters of heroes on the walls, action figures, a somewhat cluttered desk, and a comfortable-looking bed with at least three pillows on it.
”So, you brought a movie, right?” Chiaki asks.
”Yeah. I’ve wanted to see this for a while, but, well…” Kaoru hesitates, but just for a while. ”I wanted to watch it with someone rather than alone, so…”
He hands the DVD to Chiaki, and Chiaki raises an eyebrow.
”This is… horror?”
”I didn’t… want to watch it alone…” Kaoru laughs nervously. ”So I thought, maybe if you’re with me, I won’t get as scared…?”
It’s embarrassing to admit – that Kaoru wants to rely on Chiaki’s hero aura for something as silly as a horror movie – but it’s a fact that he feels safer when he’s around Chiaki.
”O-oh? I’ll do my best, then! Hahaha… ☆”
Something seems off – does Chiaki not like the genre? It’s true that he enjoys heroes and action the most, but he said Kaoru could pick any movie and he’d watch it…
“Ah – if you don’t like it, we can choose another –“
“No, no, it’s perfect! I’ll, I’ll keep you safe!” Chiaki beams, and Kaoru misses the nervousness in his eyes because he’s too lost in those few words Chiaki says to everyone, that now feel special because he’s saying them to Kaoru, and –
“Okay”, Kaoru smiles. “Let’s get started, then?”
Chiaki still seems a little nervous, but Kaoru brushes it off. He doesn’t want to consider the possibility that it’s because of him.
They settle on the bed, leaving a respectful distance between them, but fairly soon into the movie, Kaoru notices that something is definitely up with Chiaki. He seems oddly tense. Why is that? Kaoru thought Chiaki would surely be the more comfortable one in this situation?
But when Kaoru glances at him, he doesn’t seem to be on edge. So, maybe it’s nothing after all, and Kaoru’s focus is quickly drawn back into the movie, after which he proceeds to forget about Chiaki’s strange behaviour.
That is, until a particularly nasty jump scare that makes Kaoru jolt. Someone shrieks, and for a horrible split second, Kaoru worries it was him. He turns to Chiaki, certain that he’s made a fool out of himself, but then he sees Chiaki’s face – wide eyes, tight lips – and things fall into place.
“Morisawa-kun?” Kaoru asks carefully, leaning closer.
“Ahh!” Chiaki’s voice is oddly high-pitched as he whips his head around to stare at Kaoru.
And the sight of him isn’t silly or weird. No, it’s – adorable , and Kaoru is suddenly overtaken by two equally strange impulses; to either kiss him or protect him. And, now, that’s silly, because Chiaki Morisawa prides himself on being the brave hero.
Yet, right now, undeniably, Chiaki Morisawa is scared, and he’s cute.
Their eyes are locked for a second, and then Chiaki looks away, laughing nervously.
“Ha ha ha! That was weird, wasn’t it?”
“Morisawa-kun”, Kaoru lays a reassuring hand on Chiaki’s shoulder, and Chiaki yelps and jumps at the contact.
“Hakaze”, Chiaki attempts to sound casual, but his voice is quivering.
“Are you… afraid?” Kaoru keeps his hand where it is – light touch, nothing weird about it.
“N…” Chiaki begins, but just like Kaoru always suspected, he’s completely incapable of lying. “A little bit”, he admits.
“Dude, it’s okay”, Kaoru pats at his shoulder. “I’m nervous too.”
“I –“ Chiaki never gets further than one word, because someone on the screen screams, and Chiaki presses a pillow to his face.
The situation requires tact, and discretion, and care, so Kaoru chooses the best route of action, and wraps his arms around Chiaki’s trembling body.
“It’s okay, I’ll protect you.”
The line sounds bad long before it leaves Kaoru’s mouth, definitely not suited for someone like him, but Chiaki reacts by slowly placing a hand on Kaoru’s shoulder.
“Thank you”, he says quietly, and Kaoru’s heart stops for almost a whole second.
“Oh, jeez”, he mutters, as Chiaki scoots closer.
The details of how they ended up like this are a mystery to Kaoru. One minute, they’re just watching a horror movie, and the next, he has a lap full of Chiaki.
Not that he’s entirely guiltless. Chiaki may have been the one to bury his face in Kaoru’s chest, but Kaoru was, admittedly, the one to pull Chiaki’s legs over his so he could hold him closer. So if Chiaki is currently pressed against Kaoru, hair tickling his neck, and if Kaoru’s arms are securely around Chiaki, one hand rubbing at his back to soothe him – the fault is shared, really.
“The monster is gone for now”, Kaoru informs, and Chiaki carefully peeks at the screen.
“It will come back, though, right…?”
“I’d assume as much.”
Chiaki whimpers and hides his face again. Somehow – the situation being like this has made Kaoru less scared of the movie. Seems Chiaki’s presence helped after all, although in a very roundabout way.
“I can’t believe you’re seeing me like this”, Chiaki mutters, and slowly, carefully, Kaoru lifts his hand.
“You could’ve just said you didn’t want to watch a horror movie”, he chuckles.
“I wanted to be brave –“ Chiaki’s voice cuts off when Kaoru sets his hand against the back of his head.
“No one can be brave in every situation, you know? Not even you.”
Chiaki doesn’t reply, suddenly very silent, and Kaoru is about to ask what’s wrong, but then he realises – it might be the fact that he’s currently stroking Chiaki’s hair.
“Shit, sorry –“ Kaoru withdraws his hand, he didn’t mean to –
“It’s fine”, Chiaki’s voice is uncharacteristically quiet. “If it’s okay with you…”
Kaoru freezes. Does that mean Chiaki wants him to continue…?
The answer seems to be yes, since Chiaki presses even closer, breath hot against Kaoru’s neck. When Kaoru brings his hand back to Chiaki’s hair, he feels as if he were in a dream.
They spend the rest of the movie in silence, but Kaoru barely takes in what happens in the last thirty minutes.
“Did… did they get the monster?” Chiaki asks once he can hear the credits beginning to roll.
“I think it… uh… one of the main characters lived, so maybe…?”
Another silence, and Kaoru slowly begins to untangle them.
“Right, well, the movie…” Chiaki begins. The room is dark, but Kaoru is almost certain Chiaki’s cheeks are dyed a deeper shade than the rest of his face.
“It was… interesting”, Kaoru describes in a better lack of words. Kaoru’s hands off Chiaki, Chiaki’s hands off Kaoru. “The way they, uhh…”
“The monster… certainly was…” Chiaki’s legs off Kaoru. All eyes towards the screen.
“Well! I’ll just close the tv, and then…” Kaoru stands up to turn on the lights, and on the way to the door, his eyes get caught on the cookies he made. Both of them completely forgot they existed. “You can keep those. I brought them for you, anyway.”
“You’re going?” Chiaki’s voice is small, painfully so, and Kaoru blinks. Of course he’s going. It’s getting late, and he has to go home for the night –
“Do you… want me to stay?”
Kaoru feels breathless at just the thought of it. Surely, Chiaki doesn’t mean what Kaoru thinks he means, because that would be – that would be…
“We can have a sleepover! It would be fun, you know?”
There’s something in the way Chiaki smiles, and Kaoru finally figures it out.
“Moricchi, are you still frightened?” the nickname slips from his mouth by accident, but at least Chiaki doesn’t say anything about it.
“Well! It was a scary movie… I thought we both could use, company? To keep the monsters away?
He’s – completely adorable, and Kaoru doesn’t think he could say no even if he wanted to. And for all it’s worth, he doesn’t want to say no.
“I don’t have my things with me”, Kaoru says, but he’s wearing a smile to tell Chiaki he’s already been won over. Chiaki’s face lights up in an instant, and then he’s grinning, in that handsome way that always makes Kaoru’s stomach flutter.
“That’s okay! You can borrow my clothes! Some nearby stores should still be open, so we can buy a toothbrush – if you’ll really stay?” Chiaki pauses, waits for Kaoru to actually say it, and Kaoru nods.
“Yeah, I’ll stay. Wouldn’t want to get caught by a monster on the way home.”
“Great! I’ll find you something – no, first we should go out – I’ll pay, since I was the one who asked you to stay over –“
Chiaki is already busy, shutting off the movie, but Kaoru stays still, suddenly very aware of the words you can borrow my clothes.
His clothes? Chiaki’s clothes? Kaoru in Chiaki’s shirt? Is he sure – is he sure about this –
“Come on, then!” Chiaki hurries to Kaoru, grabs his hand, and any sound of protest dies in Kaoru’s throat.
The trip to the nearest store is fast, and Kaoru even persuades Chiaki to let him pay for his own toothbrush.
The next step is eating leftovers in Chiaki’s kitchen, and the situation is so domestic, so absurd, that Kaoru is dazed, hardly realising what he’s eating. Chiaki, on the other hand, is thriving, dazzling, excited enough for the both of them, and Kaoru is lost in the way his eyes shine.
Afterwards comes the greatest challenge yet; Chiaki going through a closet of clean clothes to find something for Kaoru.
“Here! Will this do?” the shirt features a hero of some sort, with golden hair. “He kinda reminds me of you.”
“How so?” Kaoru asks, taking the shirt from Chiaki’s hands.
“His eyes are like honey”, Chiaki replies, and Kaoru can only blink, having expected the similarity to be in the hair. “In – in the show”, he stammers, suddenly very red in the face, and Kaoru imagines his own face is starting to look much the same.
“It’s great”, is all Kaoru manages to say, clutching the shirt closer. It’s not something he’d normally wear, but it looks, smells, feels like Chiaki, and he really wants to wear it.
“Okay, okay – pants”, Chiaki mutters as he hastily resumes rummaging through the clothes. “Ah! Here.”
The pyjama bottoms are red, and somehow Kaoru isn’t surprised.
“Where can I find the bathroom?” Kaoru asks, before either of them can even consider changing in the same room.
“It’s just down the hallway.”
“I need to brush my teeth anyway, so I’ll just change while I’m in there.”
“Yeah, yeah – okay”, Chiaki nods.
By the time Kaoru comes back, Chiaki has also changed and laid out a futon for Kaoru.
Kaoru feels strangely comfortable. Maybe this was never considered a date – but that’s fine. He feels right like this, spending time together, growing closer, everything he always told himself he didn’t need, but now understands he yearns for.
“Don’t read into it, but I’m glad you asked me to stay over”, Kaoru confesses in a sudden burst of foolish bravery, and Chiaki’s eyes practically begin to sparkle.
“Aw, Hakaze!” he grins, “I’m glad you agreed. You wouldn’t have said yes just a month ago, would you?”
“Probably not”, Kaoru admits. “I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately.”
“Oh? What kind of things?”
“You know… about myself, other people.” he pauses. Even if Chiaki considers them friends and nothing else, he could still say it – let out the words he’s caged inside himself for so long. “You.”
“Me?” Chiaki blinks. “What’s there to think about me?”
“Well, I…” Kaoru considers if there’s any better way to say it – but no. “You’ve always been really good to me. Better than I deserve, probably.” Chiaki opens his mouth to protest, but Kaoru stops him. “No, listen, it’s… I just want to say, I really appreciate the way you’ve been there for me. Thank you for… your friendship. There, I said it.”
Kaoru sighs, his heart going absolutely off the radar. That’s not all he wants to say, but it should be enough, right?
Chiaki’s mouth falls open, unable to make a single sound, and Kaoru realises he’s just made Chiaki speechless.
“Well, I just figured I should let you know how I felt”, Kaoru mutters, suddenly a hundred times more embarrassed.
“Yeah! I care about you a lot too!” Chiaki goes for a hug, one of those Morisawa-brand bear hugs Kaoru knows is going to be nearly suffocating, but surprisingly, he doesn’t mind, even tentatively wraps his own arms around Chiaki in return.
Still, enough is enough, and Kaoru pats at Chiaki’s back.
“Okay, okay, calm down there.”
“Right”, Chiaki lets go, but he’s smiling. “We should get to sleep.”
“Right”, Kaoru mumbles. This is enough, isn’t it? It’s fine to leave things as they are? He managed to tell Chiaki how much he appreciates him, so…
They settle into their beds in silence. Still, Kaoru wonders if there’s any more he could ask, any other way…
“Hey, Morisawa-kun?” he asks, before he can regret it.
“What would you do if you were in love with a friend?”
There’s a silence in the darkness, and when Chiaki answers, the words seem almost uncertain.
“Depends. I’d like to let my feelings known, but if I thought it could ruin the friendship… Still, it’s difficult for me to hide something that important, you know?”
“Yeah”, Kaoru agrees. For Chiaki, it would definitely be even more difficult than for Kaoru. “And what would you do if a friend told you he’s in love with you?”
“Well… I wouldn’t want to stop being friends, at least… unless it was difficult for him that I don’t feel the same… if I did feel the same, well – I probably don’t have to tell what I would do.”
“Yeah”, Kaoru sighs. Maybe it would be safe to tell. Chiaki wouldn’t be weirded out – and he even implied he could feel that way towards a guy.
Neither speaks for a while, and Kaoru counts his breaths, gathering the courage to speak. He’s never done a proper confession, and now finds it even more difficult than he ever imagined.
“Hey, Hakaze”, Chiaki calls before Kaoru can open his mouth. “Are you asking because you are in this kinda situation?”
“…Yes”, Kaoru admits.
“I think you should just tell. Well, I don’t know if he feels the same, but he certainly won’t scorn you for it. He’s too kind for that.”
“Wait, who are you talking about?” Kaoru frowns.
“Kanata? Who else?”
“No, I – I’m not in love with Kanata-kun? He’s great, but – I…”
“Wait, who then?” Chiaki asks, his voice a little louder.
“Isn’t it – you, of course! Who else?”
There’s a thump that startles Kaoru, but soon, he realises it was caused by Chiaki rolling off the bed, to the floor, next to Kaoru’s futon.
“Me? You’re in love? You’re in love with me? Chiaki Morisawa?” suddenly, Chiaki speaks incredibly fast.
“S-stop repeating it, that’s embarrassing”, Kaoru hisses. “That’s what I said. You.”
“Really? You mean it?”
“Yeah, I mean it!”
Chiaki doesn’t reply, but there’s some hasty rustling, and then, a weight against Kaoru, which – well, it has to be Chiaki. But before Kaoru can ask, what the hell, Chiaki speaks, in unclear stutters.
“You, you – you are – ? But, I thought – that’s – really? I mean, yeah, I’m –“
“Slow down”, Kaoru shakes his head. “What are you trying to say? Is it bad?”
“No, it’s good!” Chiaki exclaims, and now Kaoru is pulled into a sitting position so that Chiaki can hug him, press his face against the crook of Kaoru’s neck. “Better than good. I’m – I’m happy. I’m so happy.”
“Wait, if you’re – does that mean –“
“Yes!” Chiaki squeezes tighter, and Kaoru slowly wraps his own arms around Chiaki in return. “I thought you’d never, ever –“
“You kept telling me I’m a friend!”
“I wanted to let you know I care”, Chiaki’s voice goes quiet. “I didn’t know how else to do it.”
“Aren’t we both just…”
They calm down, fall quiet, but this time, the silence around them is comfortable, welcoming.
“So, you want to – want to talk?” Chiaki asks after a while.
“I want to sleep in your bed”, Kaoru blurts out.
“And cuddle! What did you –“
“I was thinking nothing”, Chiaki says hastily. “Maybe something, but – yours sounds real nice, too. Even better, actually.”
“Have you ever managed to tell a lie, even a tiny one?” Kaoru laughs fondly.
“Of co… no.”
“Oh my god”, Kaoru buries his face in Chiaki’s shoulder. “How could I not be in love? Have you heard yourself speak?”
“Usually people think I’m embarrassing.”
“Well, yeah, but in a cute way.”
“You think I’m cute?”
“Don’t make me say it.”
“Come on, then”, Chiaki stands up, taking Kaoru’s hand. “There’s room for two.”
Settling into Chiaki’s bed in the dark takes a moment, but in the end, they manage, Kaoru securely against Chiaki, arm thrown over his chest.
“You really like me back?” Kaoru asks quietly. “Really really?”
“I thought you were talking about love earlier?”
“Nooooo”, Kaoru wails. “I hoped you’d forget that.”
“You said it many times. Don’t worry, though.”
“Why?” Kaoru asks, lifting his head.
“Because that feeling is mutual”, Chiaki replies, pressing his lips against Kaoru’s forehead.