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waking up slowly.

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A ribbon of afternoon sunshine spilled into the bedroom, peaking between the closed curtains, and offering just a sample of the outside world.

In yet, despite this intrusion of light, the two who were nestled underneath the blankets did not open up like eager Morning Glories.

They were ensnared in a state of slothfulness that would make even Hypnos and Morpheus green with envy.

Paralyzed by the comfort and warmth of his body heat, Nitta was clinging onto Konno from behind, sticking to him like an overgrown koala would stick to a tree. Although Nitta was still fast asleep, Konno had been (at least partially) awake for a while now, unable to move an inch for obvious reasons.

Not that he wanted to remove himself from Nitta’s arms, or this cozy bed. He was literally wrapped in Nitta’s scent and the soft feel of cottony sheets against his skin.

Upon his back, he felt the steady rise and fall of Nitta’s chest, felt his breath against his neck. It was both tantalizing and reassuring. The carefree minutes flowed on by, as Konno mindlessly stared at the wall, gently rubbing his thumb along Nitta’s hand.

At some point, Nitta finally began to shift and squirm—not yet having enough energy to lift his head up, however. Blinking was also too much effort, so his eyes were still sewn shut beneath the chaotic mess that was his hair.

Tightening his hold around Konno’s waist, Nitta started to groan something unintelligible. They were close enough to be twins in a womb, but that didn’t matter. What Nitta had mumbled to him just now, Konno didn’t have the faintest idea, figuring that he was probably just sleep talking again. It didn’t help that Konno’s mind was still too fuzzy to really process anything.

But the next time Nitta spoke up, the words were a bit clearer, albeit still incoherent and slurred with sleepiness.

Hey, y’heard me…s’ morning…rise and...shine.”

“…Huh. Shouldn’t that be my line?”

Konno said this more to himself than to Nitta, the rhetoric question drowning in the pillow he murmured into.

Nitta did not abstain from his pestering, and continued to nudge against Konno, prodding him in a sluggish yet consistent manner.

“Konno, c’mon. It’s time…time to wake…up. Hrmm… Get—“he couldn’t even finish a sentence without unleashing a ferocious yawn that sounded more like a snarl. “—up…already. Ugh.”

Failing to suppress a yawn himself, Konno also had to laugh at this situation. I mean, really.

Here was Nitta, trying to be the ‘responsible’ one, trying to wake him up while still half-asleep. He found it too amusing, and he twisted his body around so he could get a better look at this man.

Over and over again, Nitta would nuzzle against his shoulder, grumbling relentlessly. His tone was imposing and gruff as ever, but he looked so playful and silly while doing this. To Konno, Nitta almost looked like a kitten rubbing against someone for attention. What was the proper term—bunting? It was too cute to describe.

With a smile, he combed his fingers through Nitta’s perpetual bedhead, pretending he was petting a panther or something.

“Y’know, for someone who’s supposedly trying to wake me, you’re not doing a very good job here...”

“Haa, shut up. Don’t you have work? You’ll be late.”

Konno squinted and peered over towards the dresser, where a clock had told him the time was 2:30 PM. He flopped back down with another laugh.

“If I had work today, I’d probably be fired!”

“…I take it this is your day-off, then?”

Konno responded cheerfully, relieved that he was allowed to be lazy today.

“Hehe, yep! Nothing on the agenda! Not that I have an agenda.”

“…That’s good.”

Konno couldn’t really see him, but he could just tell. He could hear it in his tone, he could feel it on his skin; those lips that had been ghosting over his clavicle.

Nitta was smiling.

A pleasant rush of giddiness and fidelity suddenly started to pool within Konno’s chest, threatening to burst open. This guy, ruthless even with his heartstrings.

Feeling bashful and very aware of how entwined they were, Konno stammered the first question that sprang from his garbled mind.

“…W-What about you? When’s your shift start today?”

“Hmmm…”

The silence that followed Konno’s offhand inquiry was a bit disconcerting, to say the least.

It was merely a casual concern that had just occurred to Konno, nothing too intrusive or challenging. Not even philosophical, yet Nitta appeared to be contemplating this as if he were asked about humankind’s destiny, or if there’s such a thing as a soul.

Just when he was about to assume Nitta had fallen back asleep and was gonna smack him, there came a very languid, very content response.

“Mmm, not until later.”

“Oh. I see. Later as in, like, 5 hours from now? …Or in 20 minutes, and you’re screwed?!”

“Tch, relax.”

By now, Konno was already very well acquainted with Nitta’s vague answers, frustrating as they were. Still, out of worry, he couldn’t help but pry. Time had a tendency of slipping through Nitta’s fingers, especially when he was too comfortable to care—to move.

The insistent glare he sent his way only managed to incite a very large sigh of a reply.

“Later tonight, I mean. So don’t gimme such a scary face to wake up to…You’ll get wrinkles.”

“Aha, pffft, you’re one to talk! Yours is waaayyy scarier than mine! And anyway, it’s your fault for being such a pain to wake up…”

“Oh, is that so?”

Little ridiculous arguments like this had become commonplace. Where it might bring anxiety to some, it only brought a sense of security to Konno. He liked to believe it meant they had gotten much closer.

While he was speaking rather roughly, in actuality, he couldn’t have been more relieved. More time with Nitta; he didn’t have to watch him go. They could stay a little longer in their cocoons. He could be selfish for just a little longer.

“I-I was just kidding about your face being scarier, by the way.”

“Huh. Well, you sure have been staring at my face for a pretty long time now, so I guess it’s not that bad.”

“Um…!!”

Just one smug little smile from Nitta, and Konno was scrambling to barricade himself under the futon, with little success.

“C’mere, I need you to help me wake up.”

“Fine, fine, I’ll go make some us coffee—“

“Maybe afterwards, but the keyword is you.

“Uuwah?!”

In one quick motion, Nitta had pulled him forward, and in the next moment…                   

Konno had found himself straddling Nitta’s hips.

He made an audible gulp when he realized what was now in-between his legs. Another man’s crotch between his thighs. Nitta’s.

This position was just so embarrassing to Konno, that he didn’t quite know how to react. After all, he was usually the one who was pinned down.

Nitta said nothing for a while, simply looking up at Konno. After the initial shyness wore off, Konno just quietly gazed at Nitta; so this is like seeing things from Nitta’s perspective, kinda. He had to admit, Nitta looked very...alluring? Nah. Serene. He looked serene as he lied there. His skin was so pale, it was almost as if he’d fade into the sheets.

Konno felt something cold touch his each side of his cheeks, and it turned out to be Nitta’s hands. Nitta’s fingertips were softly, very softly, clawing imaginary lines down Konno’s face. With the back of his hand, he let his knuckles gently caress along Konno’s jawline. His thumb brushed along his chin. Konno closed his eyes, feeling immensely flustered and tranquil all at the same time.

“No wrinkles.”

“Wh-What?”

“Your face is fine, so don’t worry about it.”

“O-Oh…Thank you…”

Konno had been so entranced and distracted, that he didn’t know what Nitta had said at first, but his heart leapt.

Nitta urged Konno to lean in closer until their nose and lips touched. It was an act that was so familiar to them now, they didn’t even have to think twice about it. They even became daring enough to sneak in a kiss or two when they visited each other’s workplace during lunch, and even when they were out with Konno’s family.

It was an easygoing, yet sensuous kiss that tasted of last night’s beer and cigarettes.

A wet sound signified when they had finally separated.

“Ahh. I’m definitely wide awake now...”

“Ahaha, erm…Was it that good?”

“You should go brush your teeth.”

“Um…Pardon?”

“You’ve just got stinky morning breath, that’s all. Just rinse your mouth out, and come back for Round 2.”

Deep down, Konno knew Nitta hadn’t said it to be cruel, not even to joke around. It was a level-headed, straight-forward suggestion made with only the best intentions in mind, yet the blood rushed to his head.

Clasping his mouth, his face burned with humiliation and anger, jumping off of Nitta as if he were sitting on a boiling hot kettle.

“Oh, screw you, Nitta! Y-You certainly could benefit from a pack of gum yourself!! Geez…”

Since his words were now muffled, he sounded a bit funny, yet still furious. He turned his back to Nitta, slumping over in defeat.

“Konno, don’t get so mad.”

“Nnnn…And here I thought I would ‘revitalize~’ you with a nice good morning kiss or whatever.”

“Aww, well, technically you did.”

The soothing sound of Nitta’s voice was right at his neck, and he felt arms coiling around him. He almost had half the mind to shove him away, threatening to poison him with his ultra smelly bad breath, but that thought immediately died away.

Instead, Konno just leaned against him and sighed. Basking in all the conciliating kisses that Nitta offered.

“God, I hate you sometimes.”

And then, another infuriating smile that would surely do him in one day whispered into his ear,

“I can handle sometimes.”