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Santa's Clause for Christmas Overtime

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The event was held at a hotel conference centre. Chrono had been called in to help, something which he had been happy to agree to. Hard work, but worth it. The Christmas event was bustling and overfilled with decor, and though the festive cheer had peaked and since dwindled the venue continued to simmer with excitement. In the main hall by the entrance, people were coming and going. The tournament sign up desk was no longer manned, but Vangarou was still taking challenges from the many young children hanging around the back of the hall by the holographic fight tables, which today had been readily outfitted with booster seats. Their laughter and cheer echoes in the hall, reaching the hotel restaurant that had now started serving alcohol to the adults dining and socializing in the next room.

Chrono passes from the back room to the front hall, on a mission to report to the front desk, now only speaking to other employees. Just past the automatic doors he hears the delighted cry of a young boy, holding his father’s hand throwing himself forward, clearly at the cusp of that age when children just don’t quite know their strength. “Daddy! Daddy look! It’s santa!” With the soles of his shoes squeaking on the polished stone floor, the boy pulls his father’s arm with unhindered excitement. “Santa! It’s Santa!”

Chrono tries not to stare, beyond charmed by the excitement of the young boy. Front and center in the main hall, beyond a short row of velvet ropes, was indeed, Santa Claus, already engaged with other children. Chrono moves past the excited children, all engaged with Santa, now joined by yet another little child jumping with joy, ready to grab at his legs and shyly asks for a piece of candy along with today’s special promo card pack, or to sit in his lap, or to simply watch him with some level of dazed amazement. Chrono’s eyes meet with that of Santa. His sincere, if, shaky, warm smile seems to freeze. Chrono looks away to spare him the embarrassment. He still cannot help but smile; though really, it's more of a grin. Oh, it’s been a joyous day. Truly, he was glad to be invited to work the Christmas weekend.

He hears Ibuki’s voice as he tries to collect himself. “Why, hello there… young man. Have you… enjoyed the holidays this year?” He’s trying really hard. He used to be so strained, playing this role, but he’s become better at it. They haven’t had any time to speak today. They’ve both been so busy on their own ends. Chrono has still made sure to pass by the main hall and keep an eye on Ibuki on and off. He's indeed busy, but it's still been worth the detour.

Behind him, the rotating doors keep turning. Adorned Christmas trees stand grouped together behind the velvet ropes, surrounded by oversized presents, with lifelike pine garlands hanging from the ceiling all around them. By the ornate arch of Christmas lights and decor yet another child lines up, shyly hiding behind her father's legs. Chrono spots her, and watches her uneasy expression. Amongst the trees, Ibuki speaks to the other children one by one, the boy from before latched onto his side. Ibuki patiently listens to his ramblings about his extended holiday and what he plans to buy with his new years' money.

With an iron grip on her dad's hand, the girl edges closer, her eyes fixated on Santa. She's too old to still believe in Santa Claus, yet young enough to be so utterly and sincerely awed and shy meeting someone she admires. She stares at Ibuki's face and Chrono learns that she knows exactly who he is. Chrono worries, but not for long. Ibuki sees her. Quietly, too quietly for anyone but the girl herself to hear, her father whispers encouraging words. It doesn't seem to help, and she freezes. With care, Ibuki steps forward, gently taking the hand of the boy by his side.

"Hello young lady," he greets her. "Why, I see you've been exceptionally good this year. You're here for your present, aren't you?"

She perks up, summoning her courage. "I want… the special promo pack please, sir."

Ibuki smiles. "Certainly." He takes a pack out from inside his large red and white coat. He holds it out to her, and she lets go off her father's hand to grab it with both hands.

"Thank you… Mr Santa." She says eyeing the younger children. Ibuki's expression does well in letting the other adults know exactly how precious he thinks she is. She stares at the pack, it's silver cover simply designed with only a logo and a serial on the front. She draws a deep breath.

"Are there any cards you want in particular?" Ibuki asks her.

"I want the new Narukami grade two!" She blurts out.

"Oh, what a good eye you have. That is a very good card." She nods in reply, evidently still nervous. "Is it your favorite clan?"

She nods again, eyes on the booster pack in her hands. She rips it open, a hopeful and determined look in her eye that fades with each card she flips through. From where he stands, Chrono sees her shake her head in response to Ibuki's next question. She didn't get the card. Oh, that's too bad. It happens, Chrono thinks.

Not that many children linger in the foyer with Santa. Ibuki was supposed to leave and get out of the costume a good few minutes ago. The hotel is starting to close their reception and recreation areas for people who aren't booked into their rooms. From down below, Chrono hears the sound test from the concert hall starting. The t-shirt he wears is one of the pieces of merch people are currently fighting over in the backdoor queue to the venue. The Rummy Labyrinth concert is starting soon. Chrono casts his eye around the room and leans over the counter, trying to spot the receptionist who he is waiting for. He hears Ibuki's voice from behind him. "Does anyone else here play Narukami?" He asks the children. There's no reply that Chrono can hear. "If no one plays it, then maybe someone has a Narukami card to trade?"

Chrono turns his head around just in time to see one of the boys raise his hand. "I got one." He announces. "We could trade." He looks at the girl, who now has hope returning to her eyes. "Any card is fine. But if you got the Neo Nectar card then I got a friend who I know would really like that one."

"I got it!" She replies. "Please trade with me!"

When the receptionist finally arrives, Chrono's eyes are elsewhere. She gets his attention, firmly putting the key he's asked for down in front him on the desk with a clatter. "The steamer should be in the back room downstairs," is all she says before turning and leaving.

"Thanks," Chrono replies, tearing his eyes away, but she's already gone.

The girl has gotten her card, the trade completed. Now she has something else in her sight. "Mr Santa, would you please sign my card?"

Chrono turns around, ready to head downstairs and finally get his hands on that damned steamer Am and Luna have been asking for since they arrived hours ago, the manhandling of their luggage having creased their costumes like crinkled, balled-up, paper sheets and the fabric too glossy with plastic shine to not melt in contact with an iron. He sees the panic on Ibuki's face, faint to the unknowing eyes of most but easily recognizable by Chrono's trained gaze. He does not have a pen. Chrono thinks, and acts fast. He's seen the pens they keep behind the reception desk, and while mostly convinced no one is looking, he reaches for one within sight, resting next to the computer keyboard behind the screen, and walks briskly towards the velvet ropes. "Here," Ibuki does not see him coming. Chrono stretches his hand out over the low partition, and Ibuki tears his eyes off the children to stare at him. "A pen. For Mr Santa." Chrono smiles but it's a shaky, grinning smile under Ibuki's hard gaze.

"Thank you." Ibuki takes it, averting his eyes and Chrono sees him make the decision then and there, that he shall not think of all this right now.

"You're welcome," Chrono says, smugly, not shy to let Ibuki know how much he's enjoyed watching him.

Ibuki signs the girl's card while she waits patiently, arms behind her back. Chrono shoots the scene a final glance before he hurries off downstairs.





The sound test continues past the hour as people continue to line outside, and Am and Luna use the extra minutes to rehearse their unscripted greetings and goodbyes before and after the show, switching back and forth rapidly between cold professionalism and their cheery idol personas. Chrono knows them in person and has for many years. It’s still a bit jarring, he thinks to himself, as he steams their second change outfits, something he had not planned to do on account of it not being his job. He was just meant to deliver it. All the actual backstage workers are off, somewhere else, not here to witness how the steam makes his hair effectively shorter with how every strand curls into itself, his swirl coiling tighter on his head, curving around itself the whole way around.

The crowd loves the performance, their glowsticks whipping along with the rhythm in rainbow-colored neon waves in the dark. Chrono can’t see it, nor hear much of it, not from where he’s standing by the side of the stage, right by the bass. At least he’s not on crowd control, he thinks. He just has to make sure no one tries any funny business back by the stage entrance behind the fence.

He's lost count of the number of songs, his mind wandering as he struggles to stop thinking about Ibuki in the Santa costume, when he sees some commotion by the fence, a single figure freeing themselves and stumbling out of the crowd. It's dark, and it's too loud to hear the words formed by her lips, but Chrono still recognizes Tokoha's face pressed against the tall webbed fencing. She's grinning. He casts a brief look around before approaching. She keeps talking to him, evident by her moving mouth. Face to face, Chrono very pointedly takes the plug out of his right ear.

"I've been looking for you like crazy!" She shouts over the preppy, high-tempo pop music.

"I've been working!" He yells back.

"I thought-" People are pushing Tokoha around from behind. "I thought you'd at least get to see the concert!" She yells back, her voice already breaking.

"They needed help backstage!" He would've been ready to go on a lengthy tirade at any other time.

"Oh damn! Ibuki better think of some way to compensate you for today huh!!" She says, making herself laugh.

"Yeah, yeah…" Chrono mutters, inaudibly, but she's already moved on to the next topic.

"You should see Kazuma up there! He made himself leader of the cheering squad! He's going nuts!!"

Chrono doesn't have to see it to believe it. "Just keep an eye on him, okay?"

"Sure!" She yells back, grinning.

When she once more merges with the crowd, Chrono steps back to the door and puts his ear plug back in. The song ends and the next one starts. He'll be stuck here for a while longer, alone with his thoughts. Thoughts of how Ibuki's doing upstairs.





In the aftermath of the performance, Chrono is picking up trash from the floor in the venue when Luna spots him as she crosses the stage to get back to her changing room. She calls out to him, upset, but it takes Am to back her up to actually make him leave. They know, unlike some of his would-be colleagues on set, that he's not meant to be here, and not only on account of how he's been working since dawn.

When the three of them finally make it upstairs, called into the bar by a text Tokoha sent him an hour prior, their friends are already several drinks deep. Kazuma is face down on the table. Kumi slams a shot glass down, and Shion refills it for her before she can stop writhing from the strength of the alcohol. Rin has pulled her sore feet out of her heels and up on the seat, her tired eyes on the scrolling screen of her phone. Oh, and Hayao is there too, half hidden behind Shion in his seat and the first to actually see them come in through the double glass doors. His warm but hesitant greeting is drowned out by Tokoha's loud cheering. "Hey! You finally made it!"

Right across from the bar, all nine of them cram themselves into a booth for six people maximum. It works, somehow, as long as Luna sits on Am’s lap and Chrono makes do with only just the very edge of the seat. Chrono, who had been very ready to head upstairs and go to bed, tuck himself into the crisp covers of his hotel bed and sleep for ten hours or more, accepts the drink Shion sets down in front of him. One drink turns into several. The long day of work has made Chrono not just yearn for rest, but for laughs and a fun, relaxing relaxing time with his friends.

Luna's description of what the steamer did to Chrono's hair is a huge hit and everyone is still laughing when Ren comes into the room, sauntering with Asaka on his heels. Now, Chrono is already more than a bit tipsy. Ren quickly becomes a hero, celebrated with joy and cheer when he offers to buy them all another round. He sits on the edge of the table with his long hair cascading down his body and his longer legs crossed over the side. He’s had a long day too, he insists, and deserves to unwind. Chrono hasn’t really seen him around, but decides not to comment. Asaka soaks up alcohol from her seat at the bar just a few meters away, as her tired yet watchful eyes lay on him.

It’s past midnight when the door on the other end swings open once more. Chrono, who has been thinking about Ibuki all day, perks up instantly at the sound of his voice. “Well, I don’t feel alright with it.”

“Oh, I understand, chief.” Mamoru is in his company.

“It’s my responsibility and I haven’t even been able to pull my weight.” When the two of them come into sight, they draw the eyes of everyone at the table. Ren slides around to face them.

“Oh, please, don’t say that. You’ve been working very hard.” Mamoru looks like he’s been working hard too, currently fueled only by willpower alone, the dim light in his eye starting to fade and his tired, cooky grin starting to crack. Ibuki’s still in the Santa costume, head to toe, though his cap seems to droop. He turns, slowly, and with a resigned expression he meets the gazes of his onlookers. Giggling erupts.

“It’s Santa!” Ren announces giddily.

“It’s Santa…” Kumi repeats, whispering under her breath excitedly. "It's really him."

“Hello Santa!” Tokoha exclaims happily. Rin snaps a picture, smirking.

Mamoru staggers backwards and leans his arm on the bar. “Yeah kids, look! Santa is here.”

Ibuki exhales and the giggling continues. Chrono watches him admiringly. He feels a bit bad. “Hey, come on now. Santa’s tired. He’s been working all day.”

“He has, he has…” Mamoru concurs. He looks at Ibuki. “Maybe Santa needs a drink. His helper sure does.” Mamoru looks past the bar and tries to flag the one bartender who lingers way in the back.

Ibuki sighs. “Sure.”

Asaka sets her finished glass down on the bar. She makes another order of her own while Mamoru dictates an order for himself and Ibuki, who with little commitment decides what he wants to drink. The order comes in and as Ibuki sips his drink he sits back but before he can relax, Ren slides off the table and falls towards him. “Hi Santa,” he says sweetly and Mamoru hides a strange grin behind his glass of wine.

“Hello.” Ibuki replies tiredly.

“Been working hard today, huh?” Ren asks. “I couldn’t tell.”

“It's been a long day.”

“Santa, may I sit on your lap?” Ren asks, an act of commendable bravery as Ibuki looks ready to bodily harm him.

“No.” He replies, acidicly.

“Aw, why not?” Ren pouts. “Have I been… a bad boy?”

What starts as a nervous giggle erupts into honest, roaring laughter. Ibuki’s jaw tightens, and the light and bloodthirst both seem to die in his eyes. Chrono tries not to laugh. He fails. His friends laugh harder before stopping. Mamoru too, has failed to resist, and snickers heartily. Though humiliated, Ibuki recovers. He finishes his drink and sets it down on the counter. “I’ll be going to bed. And so should all of you.” He says, tiredly. He looks at Chrono in particular, who’s doozy and elevated state makes him very susceptible to Ibuki’s sharp gaze. "And that applies especially to you, Chrono."

"Yeah, yeah…" Chrono mumbles, face just a little hot.

“...Did you get your bag in the locker room?" Mamoru asks, unassumingly and Chrono sees the harrowing realization on Ibuki's face. He presses his hand against his brow.

"I didn't."

"Well, I hope there's still anyone with the key around…" Mamoru glances over his shoulder, but the lady who served them is already gone again.

"Don't worry, I got the key." Chrono says, stumbling up from his seat, happy help.

Ibuki recovers, only his disbelief holding him back. "Really?"

"Yeah. I've been all over the place all day, so I got a card key. I got it when I was helping out backstage."

"You were helping out backstage?" Ibuki is upset. "That wasn't… your job."

"Well, I already did it, and I can't undo it, so…" Chrono says and Ibuki sighs.

"I'm sorry." He apologizes tiredly.

"I know you are." Chrono says, simply. "Come on. Let's get your stuff."

"Right. Thank you…"

"Wait, you're leaving?" Tokoha stands up in her seat.

Chrono can't help but smile. He grabs Ibuki by the arm. "Yeah. Sorry."

Tokoha sits down with a huff. "He's been working since early morning and should be resting, you know." Ibuki says to her, before turning to Mamoru. "As should you."

"Right behind you, chief." Mamoru holds up his glass. "Just let me finish my drink first."

Ibuki looks at him with disapproval but gives it up. "Right. Let's go, Chrono."

"Bye!" To the sound of reluctant goodbyes, they leave. Already before they’re past the door out back to the lobby, Chrono hears his friends recovering. They’ve already started to talk about something else. Chrono still has a generic employee ID key card given to him earlier after one lady on staff refused to keep coming with him every time he needed a door open. In the elevator, it unlocks the basement floors. Ibuki looks at himself in the infinity mirrors with a fatigued expression. He still has the hat on his head. He reaches to take it off, the hair underneath messy, with wild wisps of strands laying around his head like a halo and his bangs pressed against his forehead. He runs a hand through it, but gives up quickly. He sighs.

“I’m surprised you didn’t change.” Chrono says, leaning back on the railing inside the elevator.

“I thought to do so but I haven’t had the time.” Ibuki admits, tiredly. “I was stuck helping with the cleaning up.” He pulls at his jacket, straightening it. The classic Santa suit looks like it’s of a rather high quality. Chrono’s seen him wear it before. He wipes his brow. “I’d love to get out of it. It’s so hot.”

“Why don’t you just take it off?” Chrono refers to the jacket, which is really more like a coat.

Ibuki exhales, muttering. “I’m not wearing anything underneath.” He pulls at the fuzzy high collar again, before giving it up, his arms falling to his sides. Chrono stares at his reflection in the mirror, multiplied and layered in one long row. He thinks of Ibuki’s bare skin, obscured by the single layer of the costume. “I had a shirt underneath when I started this morning. I snuck off to take it off because the heat was killing me.” Ibuki’s too distracted by his own reflection and his messy hair to see Chrono stare at him. “But it only helped so much.”

Chrono looks away. He tries to keep his head on the conversation. He’s taken all his chances to look at Ibuki all day and the alcohol isn’t making it easier to resist. “That’s gotta suck. They’ve been turning the heat up ‘cause of the cold outside.”

“They really have. I had those spotlights on me, too.” Ibuki sighs. “I’m soaked.”

Chrono presses his lips together and thinks of Ren’s denied proposition. Personally, he’d rather have it the other way around. He would happily bounce Ibuki on his knee. He should know better than to imagine it. He still does. Chrono touches his face. He is so tired, and yet his mind is spinning away, full of energy and his body feels like it could keep going for another few hours, at least if it was for Ibuki. “Yeah, uh… it’s been bad enough for me…” Chrono had changed out of his shirt halfway through his day to the Rummy Labyrinth concert merch he was currently wearing. The short sleeved t-shirt was perfectly comfortable indoors.

On the basement floor Chrono opens the door to the employee locker room and Ibuki gets his things. “I got a room upstairs. But I haven’t been able to move my stuff. I haven’t had the time.”

“Oh yeah.” Chrono has gotten his own bag from another locker across the room. Check in had been at noon. By then, they’d both already been working for many hours, too caught up in everything to think about anything but whatever was right in front of them. “Same.” Chrono has his bag swung over his shoulder. He's only brought a change of clothes, a toothbrush and the prepacked stuff that always sits in the inner pockets.

Chrono is clear to lock the door and have everything be the same way it was when they left. Ibuki notes the card in his hand on their way out. “I hope you won’t get in trouble for still having that.”

“I probably will. They told me to return it when I was done with it. But they closed the reception long before then. Not that I couldn’t have predicted that, but what was I supposed to do?” The bare-walled and rather narrow corridor that led back to the elevator was in stark contrast to the public areas of the hotel.

“Let me return it, then. I’ll do it on your behalf.”

Chrono should have known he would say that. “We’ll… talk about that tomorrow.”

The elevator doors close around them. “What floor are you on?” Chrono asks.

Ibuki flips his hotel room keycard over in his hand. “Sixth. How about you?”

“Uh.” Chrono doesn’t have his on hand. “Lemme check…” He presses the button for the sixth floor before checking his bag with little commitment to finding anything. On the ground floor, the door opens. Ibuki, still looking no less worn after his long, long day, his hair still a mess and his hat stuffed into his pocket, freezes as a family of three enter the elevator. A mother and a father with their little girl, who Chrono estimates to be about six years old, fixate their gazes on him. He, though otherwise perhaps not quite age-appropirately casted, is a grown man dressed as Santa Claus just after midnight night on the 25th of December.

The girl points a sharp, accusing finger. “Santa!” Her parents chime in, saying their hellos, but her mom grabs her hand to keep her reeled in. “Where’s your hat, Santa?”

“It’s... right here.” Ibuki puts it back on, to ward off her concern.

Chrono watches, enamoured with Ibuki’s kind yet hapless smile, amused by how he manages to uphold character to some degree so many hours after he’s technically clocked out. It’s hard not to smile, but he tries to not stare too hard nor look quite so entertained. The family gets off at the fifth floor. The girl waves goodbye to Santa, whom she’s asked many questions about his day, to which Ibuki replied accordingly and spoke of how he’d met many children and played with them throughout the day. None of it lies, but all carefully knitted together to entertain her through the short ride to her floor. “Bye-bye, Santa!” She says again, before the doors close. Smiling, Ibuki still has his hand up when he sees the look on Chrono’s face.

“You don’t have to look at me like that.”

“Um, look at you how?” Chrono asks, despite having some good guesses.

“Smirking like that. I’m doing my best.” He mutters.

“Look, I’m not… I’m not making fun of you, okay? I think…” He thought it was adorable, but he didn’t quite have the courage to say it outright. “I think it’s sweet. You’re doing… a great job. Especially considering it’s not exactly in the job description.”

Ibuki doesn’t look like he fully believes it, or if he does, he’s not ready to deal with the implications. “If you say so.”

“Well, I am...”

The elevator stops, and they get off. “Before I forget, I should get you a schedule for tomorrow. We had some changes made and I asked them to deliver the extra ones to my room, so we should pick one up for you.” Chrono was going to be working tomorrow too. Hopefully, it wouldn't be as strenuous. Just a tournament and a Rummy Labyrinth meet and greet were scheduled. “Sorry. I’d rather let you go home, but we still need the extra help.”

“It’s fine,” he insists. “I knew what I got into when I agreed to help out.”

They walk through the corridor towards Ibuki’s room. There’s still some excitement and muted sounds to be heard beyond the walls. “Just let me know if you need anything. I should be more available… tomorrow.” Ibuki says as he gets the door to his room open.

It’s a small, standard hotel room. Chrono doesn’t wait by the door, but follows Ibuki through the short narrow hallway and sets his bag and himself down on the bed.The bed is narrow for a double bed, and the flat TV hung on the wall is an older model. The desk that stands against the far wall is a bit low, but readily prepared with an electric kettle, coffee creamers, cups and an assortment of tea bags. Ibuki casts a tired eye around the room but no more, the papers he’s looking for aren’t in sight. It takes him a minute, but he finds them in the desk drawer by the window. “Sorry,” he says. “I tore you away from your friends…” Ibuki looks up from the drawer and folds the paper over one time before handing it to Chrono. Chrono takes it, and slides it into the outer pocket of his bag.

“That’s fine.” He says, because it truly is, but only because he would rather be alone with Ibuki anyway.

Ibuki sighs. “I do… feel bad for getting you involved in all this.” Tiredly, he takes his Santa hat off once and for all and tosses it on the bed.

“Hey, look. Like I said. I know what I signed up for.”

“I suppose you could go back down and have some fun before bed if you’d like.” Ibuki says, clearly having changed his tone from before and Chrono starts to have an idea. He glances at the mini fridge tucked in under the desk behind Ibuki.

“We, um… could have a drink, just you and me?” Chrono suggests, boldly, more so than he would ever dare to be while sober. “If you’re fine with grabbing something from the mini fridge.”

Ibuki looks stunned for a second. He turns around. “Oh. I suppose we… could.” He’s susceptible to the suggestion, and Chrono never quite expected him to just go along with it. Increasingly tense, Chrono’s not yet ready to be quite honest with himself about his intentions. He’s in a particular mood, and he feels like his feelings will reveal themselves all at once, spontaneously and earnestly, on full display. He’s not comfortable with that outlook in the sense that it’s embarrassing, but he’s feeling a lot more confident than he’s used to, nor has Ibuki felt quite so compellingly barefaced to him in a long time. Whenever Chrono thinks about his kind smile, and the way he’s seen him speak and play with the children in the foyer that day, it’s hard to be embarrassed, hard to be nervous or tense when he’s so overflowed with tender affection. He knows he’s in love, and he has been for longer than he’d like to admit, but Ibuki has only given him more and more reason to feel that way, and his sincere adoration numbs his self-consciousness and his tense nerves.

When Ibuki pours some beer into white wine glasses, working with what’s available in the room, Chrono stumbles up from the bed and takes the one glass as soon as he’s done pouring. “Merry Christmas,” Chrono says, awkwardly.

Ibuki smiles. “You know, as strange as it may sound… I almost forgot. Merry Christmas, Chrono.” It’s a toast for just the two of them, and Chrono thinks to himself, happily, how he would rather not spend Christmas in any other way. Working his ass off all day has been worth it, if it meant that he could be at the center of the holiday cheer for so many children, if it meant he could spend the evening with Ibuki like this.

“H-how you been… today?” Chrono asks, realizing he hadn’t. He remembers that he’s drunk.

“It’s been…” Ibuki hesitates. “It’s been quite fun. Though I wish I could support my coworkers more… everyone is working so hard and I’m just talking to the kids...”

“Oh, come on.” Chrono presses the back of his hand against Ibuki’s chest, his drink wobbling in his glass. “Everyone wants you to do this. And they all know how hard you normally work. So it’s just fair if anything.” He sips his beer. “Besides, you’re the one the kids wanna see…”

“I suppose so…” Ibuki smiles a troubled smile. “I just hope they think it’s fun.”

“Oh, they do. They do. I’ve been keeping an eye on you and you’re doing great.” Chrono insists, ready to be a lot more revealing than usual.

“I hadn’t… realized.” Ibuki admits, quietly. Chrono sips his drink. “But I suppose, coming from you…”

“Well, I guess there’s a possibility I’m just being nice.”

Ibuki laughs softly. “I wouldn’t have considered that. I like that about you, though.” Chrono feels light. “I know you wouldn’t say anything about me that you didn’t mean. And I value that. I value it very highly.”

Chrono knows this, and yet, he hardly manages to respond. “Right… I mean, I know you do, but…” It’s probably in his best interest to change the subject, rather than to just stare at Ibuki’s face and say nothing. “I’m surprised though. I mean… I figured you’d do a good job, but… you looked like you were really enjoying yourself.”

“I was rather nervous.” Ibuki admits. “I’ve done it before but I feel like I never quite get used to it. It is… fun, though. Even if it’s hard to relax.”

“I think you did… a great job. You were super great with them. Listening… without assuming… engaging with them and even doing that thing where,” Chrono feels like the words would just come out without volition. “Where you redirect their focus to change a bad situation into a good one.”

“Oh, well…” Ibuki seems happily embarrassed. “I can’t say I… did it on purpose but…”

“Maybe not but that just goes to show that you have that intuition…” Chrono says, piling it on him. He pours himself more beer from the bottle they’d opened to share. It shouldn’t be enough to make him drunker than he already is, he thinks.

“I’m not sure about that,” Ibuki says. “But that is… very kind of you.”

Chrono has a drink and staggers slightly. “I was a bit worried… but I kept coming around to have a peek at you. And you really were doing great.” Ibuki looks flustered, hot from something other than the costume he wears. Again, Chrono presses his hand against Ibuki’s chest, tilting his head to look him in the eye. The words that come to his lips have barely passed through his mind though they’ve laid beneath the surface the whole day. “Do you want kids?”

The question phases through Ibuki slowly as Chrono’s body seems to slant and lean toward his. “Um, I-I…” Ibuki puts his hand on Chrono’s arm, to try and keep him steady. “I suppose I’m undecided, though…” Chrono looks at him attentively. He sinks back on his heels. He’s realized he may be out of line. “Though I would certainly… consider it.”

“I’d hope so…” Chrono says, quietly. “I mean, I think you’d… you’d be a really good dad.”

“I don’t know about that…” Ibuki tries to deflect his compliment.

“Oh, come on. You totally would.” Chrono says. His hand still lays on Ibuki’s chest. The costume is plush under his hand. He thinks again about how he knows Ibuki isn’t wearing anything underneath. “So don’t say that.”

“Well, being a parent is a huge responsibility.”

“And you understand that. That’s a great quality. A lot of people don’t.” Chrono continues. “You’re sensible in that way. And you’re a lot more kind and understanding than people give you credit for.”

Ibuki looks unprepared to digest all this. “Thank you…”

“And I think you get it like… how much it would mean to be treated right as a kid.”

“I’d like to think so.” Ibuki says, quietly.

“So you should really think about it.” Chrono goes on to say. “And be more confident. When it comes to interacting with kids.” Ibuki’s expression muddles with conflicting feelings. He’s shy, yet flattered. Chrono sees how his fingers grip his glass harder, as the drink draws his eye. His tired face has come back to life, though the hair that frames it is still just as stringy and glossy.

“Perhaps…” Ibuki replies, hesitantly. His mind appears elsewhere. Chrono wonders if he’s thinking about the same thing as he is.

“How-how would…” It happens again before he has any chance to stop it. He’s wanted to act on these feelings for a long time and now, it’s all simmering and brimming over before he can hinder it. Chrono knows about Ibuki. He’s not about to voice it, but he’s not about to hide it either. “How would you feel if you… were with someone, someone who you knew wanted kids?” Chrono’s genuine curiosity doesn’t hide his embarrassment that grows with every word. “Like, uh, would that stress you out, or…”

“I don’t think it would stress me out.” Ibuki says, evidently absent-minded. He watches Chrono carefully.

“So if… if you were in that position, you… uh, you’d be okay with that? If you knew he wanted kids, or, I mean,” Chrono’s voice falters. He hadn’t intended to put it like that, but now it’s too late.

“Sure.” Ibuki says, carefully reassuring and visibly nervous. “I’d… I’d do my best to… be a good partner. And given the circumstances were… suitable then, I’d…”

“You’d want a family?”

“I… would. If I could… th-then I certainly…” Chrono’s body presses against him, and though affected, Ibuki does not shy away. Chrono thinks that while silly, the Santa costume is still pretty cute on him, really. He’d never admit it, even as drunk as he is, but he certainly feels that way. Maybe it’s just the rose tint of how in love he is, but if so, so be it.

There’s a faint sound of voices audible through the thin walls. They’re not the only people who are still awake. It’s only been a few minutes since Chrono left his friends downstairs, and likely they’re still drinking, talking and having a rowdy good time. It occurs to him, but only for a second. He stares up at Ibuki, who sets his glass aside on the desk, his body fixed in place as Chrono's chest comes to press against his own. Chrono had feared, in the past, that despite everything, he might not have the courage to tell Ibuki how he truly feels. Now, as he sees Ibuki's taken expression, that fear feels far away. He always longs for them to be on the same wavelength, and now he has exactly that. Badly he wants to kiss him and Ibuki only seems to think of letting him. With his glass pressed between their bodies, into the plush fabric of Ibuki's costume, Chrono leans up, and with Ibuki's eyes square on his face, he presses his lips against the corner of his mouth. They part and reunite, lips reconnecting fully. Chrono sets his glass down, too, and as he hooks his arm around Ibuki's neck they both stumble. It is a dry kiss until Ibuki's lips part, guided by Chrono's own. Ecstatic to feel the warmth of Ibuki's mouth, convinced still that none of this is quite real, Chrono slides his hand in under Ibuki's jaw. It's not a strange nor unexpected culmination of events but as Chrono grips Ibuki tighter and feels him return his embrace, arms wrapping around his body and hands clutching the fabric of his clothes, he feels lightheaded. With a deepened kiss, a growing familiarity with the sensation of Ibuki's tongue in his mouth and the elevation it gives him, Chrono knows this cannot end quickly nor easily. Ibuki is too much like him for that to happen. So when they part, they kiss again, and again, and it is the reestablished connection which does it, which has them unable to stop. With a push, and a shove, Ibuki's side hits the desk and their glasses wobble and clatter. Chrono's need to be closer and closer still instead has them parting. Ibuki reaches to steady his glass, and with his arms still all around him Chrono thinks to apologize but gets no chance. Loudly, enough to make them both freeze, there's repeated knocks on the door.

"Hello?" Muffled through the door is Mamoru's cheery and upbeat voice. "Hello, chief?"

Ibuki steels himself with a distant look in his eye and gently but firmly sets Chrono aside at an arm's length before heading towards the door. Chrono feels stunted and it's all a bit unreal, nervously he awaits the sound of Ibuki opening the door as he sits down on the bed, out of sight.

The door opens. "Anjou. What is it? You're being terribly loud."

"Oh. Sorry. I worried maybe you'd fallen asleep…" Mamoru hushes himself. "Here. You forgot this."

"Oh." Judging by his reaction, Ibuki is more understanding of Mamoru's behavior.

"I think Suzugamori got himself something to drink, but I don't think that's something the two of you can't resolve," Mamoru says.

"I rather not bother. Thank you, though."

"Oh, you're very welcome." Mamoru says cheerily. "I'm surprised you're not in bed, though. I tried calling you but you didn't pick up."

"My phone's been on silent. Because of my job today. Sorry." Ibuki replies quietly.

"It's fine… I guess I thought you'd be more eager to get out of that costume is all." Mamoru makes himself laugh and Chrono thinks about Ibuki's body under the costume. "I take it Chrono went to bed?" The sound of his name, now just a whisper on Mamoru's lips, knocks Chrono out of his wishful daydreaming.

Ibuki does not respond for several seconds. "I… believe he retired for today, yes."

"Oh, I'm sure he needs it."

"Well, so do you," Ibuki says, kindly trying to make him leave.

"Ah, of course. Good night, Ibuki."

"Goodnight Anjou. And thank you, again."

"You're welcome!"

The door closes. Ibuki comes back in and yet again seeing him in the costume makes it hard for Chrono to keep himself from smiling. With a bothered look on his face Ibuki sets down his wallet on the desk next to their drinks. "Sorry about that," he says quietly.

"That's okay," Chrono reassures him a bit nervously.

Ibuki looks at him and appears to hesitate before he makes his way across the small room and sits down. The bed bends gently under his weight. Chrono draws close to him and his lips brush his face just as Ibuki's braced himself to speak. "Sorry, I feel… quite silly. Still wearing this."

"I don't mind." Chrono says though he wouldn't mind if he took it off, either. Though, it would be a shame. It's only Christmas once a year.

"I feel a bit stuffy and… grimy is all…" Ibuki mumbles but does not shy away when Chrono kisses him again, his lips on his face. There's a faint but clear and detectable tension under the surface of his skin. Their lips meet again, this time on Ibuki's accord. It's a hasty kiss that deepens quickly. Enticed, as if they had never been interrupted, they continue. Ibuki's hair is soft to his touch, as he runs his hand through it, and Chrono has to admit, he's surprised by quite how eager and willing he is. He'd be overwhelmed, if he wasn't so insatiable. He feels Ibuki's tongue curl against his own, his breath hot and his embrace tight. Chrono pulls him closer. He wants Ibuki in his lap, just like he had imagined before. Ibuki molds after his embrace and their kiss becomes messy and desperate fast. Ibuki moans, faintly, as Chrono feels the stubborn and tireless movement of Ibuki's tongue in his mouth. Chrono slides his hand in under Ibuki's thigh, the pants too loose and the fabric too thick for him to feel much. He tries to pull, to let Ibuki slide onto him and as soon as he understands, he pulls away, breaking their hot kiss. Feet steadying on the floor, Ibuki stands, and Chrono's hands come to his waist. With all his imposing festivity, Ibuki looks down at Chrono with an afflicted expression. Chrono admires him, breath rugged with excitement. He runs his hand down his side, down the seam of his pant leg. He undoes the bottom clutch on Ibuki's jacket. Ibuki runs a hand through his hair. When Chrono's hand comes in under the jacket and touches Ibuki's smooth bare skin just underneath, he sighs with tense anticipation. Chrono sees that he's nervous. He smiles at him endearingly. "Can I open this?" He asks, suspecting what the answer will be.

Ibuki starts to undo it himself, from the top, hurriedly. "Yeah, let me…" Chrono stops. He leans back and watches Ibuki undo the buttons one by one, struggling. Bit by bit the opening slits in the front reveals his chest. Once bare skin is level with his face, Chrono leans forward to kiss him, lips pressing against his stomach. A gentle brush quickly becomes a heated kiss. Chrono goes lower, reaching below his belly button. Ibuki's skin is smooth and fragrant. Chrono's heart is pounding, though he's too taken by it all to consider stopping. His hand grabs his waist tight and he presses forward, feeling the tremor under Ibuki's skin as he kisses him harder, using his tongue. Chrono exhales with a sigh and he hears Ibuki suppress a moan as he quite shamelessly licks him just above the hem of his pants. Chrono guides Ibuki closer. He's fully hard now, and while the pants are baggy on him, they do little to hide it. Chrono has felt him get hard, which certainly encourages him even more. When he looks up at Ibuki's face he sees that his eyes are closed, though once Chrono starts to rub him, fondling and running his hand against his erection, they come open. Flustered, it's all caught up with him. Chrono shies away. Maybe it's time to stop, or at least calm down. Ibuki did get hard while Chrono kissed him and touched him but maybe he still should have asked before grabbing his dick. "Sorry. You good?"

"I'm fine, I," Ibuki grabs the hems of his pants and pulls them down, all the way all at once. It's occurred to him what Chrono has been aware of this whole time. He's still wearing a Santa costume. He stumbles out of the pants and sets them aside, with both care and frustration. Chrono's fingers graze the bare skin on his legs. Ibuki looks at him silently, pressed, and Chrono looks at him in return with an anticipation he can't hide.

"I was, uh, thinking I was gonna blow you, but…" It's best to just admit it. Ibuki's no less flustered. He'd figured for sure, anyway. He incited it.

"Yeah, let me just…" Ibuki starts sliding the jacket off his shoulders. Chrono grabs it by the front hems. Ibuki stops.

"Can't you… keep it on?" He asks, mumbling quietly. Ibuki, by the looks of it, does not believe what he's hearing. He sees Chrono for what he truly is in that moment, for better or worse. He's drunk, drunker than Ibuki's likely ever seen him. He's not only drunk, but also horny, crushing badly on his mall Santa persona. "Come on. I know Santa's had a long day, but…"

Ibuki is ready to snap. He doesn't. He takes Chrono's hands, gently, and unfurls his grip. "I'll… just slide it off a bit." He's going to attempt a compromise.

"Sure…" Chrono is easily convinced, watching him with adoring eyes.

Ibuki slides it open and down on his shoulders, but Chrono doesn't let his gaze linger. He presses his face against Ibuki's body and continues to kiss him. Ibuki helps him slide his underwear down and within another second Chrono has taken him into his mouth, his lips tingly at the touch and his excitement peaking. He has no intention to hide how much he's wanted this. Ibuki moans lightly, and he takes half a step close to the bed. Chrono feels his hand at the back of his neck, and takes him deep fast and without hesitation. Ibuki's next moan is not so light. Chrono moves eagerly. He closes his eyes, taking in the sensation of Ibuki's shape in his mouth, satisfied to feel it but still thinking of more. He presses to go deeper, breaking his rhythm and Ibuki watches him carefully, his grip in his hair tightening, and his chest constricting with a strained, heavy sigh. Chrono knows it feels good, attentive enough to tell and confident enough to believe it, his abbreviated state clouding whatever doubts he might have. He touches Ibuki's bare legs, just to feel him close. He looks up, erection still in his mouth, and as he establishes eye contact with Ibuki's hazy gaze, he slows his rhythm. Ibuki's other hand grabs the back of Chrono's shirt, the fabric creasing. It's the very same shirt idol fans had queued for hours to get. The sight of Ibuki's reddened face, his shy and afflicted expression and the trembling grip of his hand give Chrono as much pleasure as the hot erection in his mouth. Oh, he wants to hold him, he thinks. He slides forward and sucks harder.

When he hears Ibuki moan again, breathless and burdened, Chrono slips away, sliding Ibuki out of his mouth. He speaks before trying to catch his breath. "Do you wanna," Chrono wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, "sit down, in my lap?" Ibuki is still gripping his shirt. "You're tired, aren't you? Come on." Chrono slides back to give Ibuki enough space. "I'll jerk you off."

Ibuki is persuaded. "Right." He says quietly, visibly nervous. He sits down, carefully, one leg on either side of Chrono's body.

"I told you. I know Santa's had a long day…" Chrono teases him, oddly and almost uncomfortable okay with how easily the words come out. Ibuki is ruffled up, but this time he says nothing, he just bears it silently. Chrono kisses his cheek sweetly as he grabs his erection with one hand and holds him tight with the other. "I said I'd been watching you." He hoped Ibuki would understand the full meaning of the statement. "So I know…"

"Chrono, how," Ibuki shudders as Chrono starts to stroke him gently. "How long did you spend... drinking with your friends?" He whispers under his breath.

"Why?" Chrono asks in return, angling his face up and staring Ibuki in the eye.

"You... you're rather forward…" Ibuki says with gritted teeth but only because it feels so good when Chrono grips him tighter.

Chrono becomes flustered, too. He presses his face against Ibuki's and feels his breath on his face. He jerks him off faster and the sound makes his face redden more where it can't be seen. "Well, unlike you I don't just wait around for you to make a move…" Chrono mumbles in his defense, pleased with himself. Ibuki presses himself closer and Chrono feels how he groans right against his face. "It's been kind of frustrating, you know."

"I… I dropped my hints…" Ibuki tries to say in his defense, trying to make a point but both the conviction in his statement and his words fade as he breathes harder. Chrono pumps him rapidly and his thoughts are dispersing. He exhales, a shallow moan on his lips just as his head tips forward down on Chrono's shoulder.

"You dropped your hints and left me to act," Chrono says, warm and affectionate, all of the acid missing from what otherwise was a snappy reply.

"I'm sorry," Ibuki apologizes weakly. Chrono kisses him, but his lips are weak. Chrono still continues to try, folding his tongue in between Ibuki's open lips and savoring his taste. Ibuki moans again, as he returns the kiss feebly.

"Are you coming?" Chrono asks him against his lips, very quietly.

"I'm about to." Ibuki whispers in return, his eyes shut tight. He breathes harder. "Yeah, I'm… close." Chrono goes in for another kiss. Ibuki responds best he can. Their mouths overlay, though little else, as Ibuki gasps again, shallowly breathing. Chrono chases his lips, and Ibuki groans, he tenses and he presses himself forward hard. He comes with a single thrust into Chrono's hand. Ibuki slumps and with Chrono's lips still on his own he returns the kiss, slowly. He sighs, and lets Chrono hold him. Ejaculate has stained the back of his hand and Ibuki's underwear. Phasing back into reality, Ibuki awkwardly leans against him to pull them down. "I should have… a spare pair."

"Right." Chrono replies as Ibuki steadies himself on his shoulder. "And I forgive you, by the way."

"What do you… want to do?" Ibuki's question could be more clear. He's offering, however just a bit timidly. It's late, too, and Chrono really shouldn't be here right now,as much he rather not be anywhere else. Chrono's gotten what he wanted but he's already thinking of more things. Ibuki grabs his wrist tight and roughly rubs his hand off with his folded up underwear. Chrono's had hookups like this before, but it's different with Ibuki, and each little detail has a lasting sort of impact.

Maybe he could be alright with kissing him goodnight and have that be it, let the sensations be a taste of something (hopefully) more to come, or he could reply earnestly. Chrono's always wanted to be nothing but earnest to Ibuki, in the end, even if he hasn't always been able to. "I wanted you to ride me, really." He admits, embarrassed to. He locks his arms behind Ibuki's head.

"Really…" Ibuki's voice shivers.

"But it's late, so if you want me to leave…" Chrono suggests it because he thinks he should be the one to. He can take care of himself. He wonders if Ibuki would be enticed to let him, if just knowing it would be enough.

"You're the one who should be tired." Ibuki says, quietly, letting Chrono embrace him. Chrono thinks that he is; he is very tired. He also doesn't really see why that means he should leave. "But I guess I could give you a few extra hours tomorrow."

"Oh, uh… I don't know…" It sounds like a joke. Sleeping with the boss to get more favorable work hours isn't the sort of thing Chrono ever saw himself doing, but supposedly every day is a school day and an opportunity to learn more about yourself.

Ibuki leans back, and Chrono slides his arms down off his bare shoulders. Outside, it's dark but from the single window faint, white street lights illuminate the room. "I don't mean to put you in an awkward spot."

Knowing he was the one who instigated this, Chrono feels not uneasy, but a little faint. "Honestly all that really matters to me right now is if you wanna do it or not."

"I do." Ibuki admits, firmly yet quietly. "Though I'd like to…" Ibuki slides back a bit where he sits. "Take that shower first."

Since he's brought it up yet again Chrono isn't going to try and persuade him otherwise. "Sure. I'll wait."

Ibuki pulls the coat back up on his shoulders. "Right…" With a somewhat awkward delivery, Ibuki seems to hesitate.

"It's fine, really. It's late but I'll… I'll wait, okay?" Getting involved like this tonight was already arguably not an ideal move, but Chrono was ready to accept the consequences.

"I'll try to not take too long." Ibuki says, seriously. He gets up, Chrono's hand on his side supporting him.

Ibuki goes to head into the bathroom. Chrono opens his bag, zipping open an inner pocket. "Uh, here." Ibuki stops, just as he's passing by. Chrono holds out the small and discreet plastic bottle to Ibuki, pressing his lips together tight as he looks him in the eye.

"Thanks." Ibuki says, reserved, before he takes it, their hands brushing.

The door to the bathroom closes. Chrono lays down heavily on the bed. He isn't sobering up, and he isn't coming down either. With Ibuki no longer in his arms nor in his line of vision he hears his own heart pounding. His loins are pounding too, to the same beat. He rubs his face. It's settling in and feels increasingly unreal at the same time. He stares at the ceiling and hears the shower running. Ibuki's pants are on the floor and his underpants next to him on the bed. It's been a long day and a long night, but longer and lonelier were the many nights he spent alone thinking and wondering about Ibuki. He hears the faint distant voices of other hotel guests. It's Christmas. Not many people have the day off to celebrate the occasion but it's also the night between a Friday and Saturday. Chrono wonders if his friends are still drinking downstairs, but only briefly, before he again starts thinking about Ibuki's warm body and how his lips overlap his own. He feels a tingling sensation on his palms, his exhale slow, hot and heavy as he thinks about the near future. What sets him off more than anything else is the image of Ibuki's face, so close to his own, earnestly revealing those feelings he's for long peeked just under the surface.

A minute passes in the dark hotel room and Chrono waits patently. He's tired. He might have started to feel it, if he wasn't so focused on listening to the running water on the other side of the wall.

When the door finally opens, it feels like it's been too long yet not long enough for Chrono to think and truly ponder about what all this might lead to, in the future, what sort of house they might buy, whether or not they should get married, or how many kids Ibuki wants, more precisely, but maybe there's a point in that. Ibuki steps out in the light from the bathroom, towel around his body, hair tied up on his head and Chrono snaps to attention and sits up so fast he feels dizzy.

Ibuki lets the towel slide off his body and Chrono sets his eyes decidedly on his face to try and read whether or not he's still up for this. Naked, he clearly looks a bit awkward. In an attempt to join him, Chrono starts taking off his shirt hurriedly, clumsily, getting it off over his head and throwing it aside. Ibuki drops his towel, and Chrono starts to undo his pants. "I'll… help." Ibuki offers, sitting down in his lap. Their hands touch and it's more awkward than it should be. Ibuki scoots himself forward and Chrono kisses him. Ibuki's shoulders rise and he shivers. Chrono pauses. "Sorry. I'm… a bit cold."

Chrono lays his arms around him as Ibuki pulls the zipper down his pants and starts to slide them off his hips. Chrono is already getting hard again, only from the brushes of Ibuki's hands as he helps to undress him. Still concerned with Ibuki's cold bare shoulders and his still not quite dry body, Chrono's eyes land on the coat that still lays at the foot end of the bed. He reaches down and picks it up. "Here," well intended, he puts it back over Ibuki's shoulders, just as Ibuki grabs his hardening dick in his hand. Ibuki looks at him with muted yet unmistakable disbelief. Chrono looks back at him. "If you rather not…"

Ibuki grips him tighter. "No. It's fine."

Chrono feels the edge of anticipation cut into him, Ibuki's bare legs brushing against his own as they kiss again. Ibuki's grip is firm and though his fingers are a little cold, it feels good, his touch warming them both up quickly. It's Ibuki who deepens the kiss stubbornly, pressing against him and parting his lips. Chrono struggles to fully focus. He thinks mostly of the touch of Ibuki's hand, his strong grip and long fingers. He's not going to get harder than this, but Ibuki seems to insist he continue. Chrono runs his fingers through his hair, untying the drooping hair tie on the back of his head and gently untangling it. Their heated kiss ends when Ibuki pulls away, he looks down, staring. Chrono realizes he had all the time in the world but still didn't get a condom. "Uh, hang on…"

"We could do without." Ibuki suggests quietly.

Chrono considers it for about a second. “No, lemme just…”

"Right." Ibuki yields. "I'm… ready, anyhow." He adds, whispering.

Chrono's heart seems to stop for a second and though he now has his hand in his bag looking for a condom, one of the few sat in his inner bag pocket more or less permanently, a known fact among his friends, something they've all come to expect, roast him and rely on him for, he can't seem to actually find one. He hadn't expected for Ibuki to get ready on his own. "G-good," he gets out, but the small, square plastic package will elude him for another few awkward seconds.

Once it's open and Ibuki has rolled it down, carefully, while Chrono tries not to stare, they distract themselves with kissing. Ibuki rises, his legs spreading, their kiss ending only once he can no longer reach.

Ibuki slides down and pushes Chrono in. Chrono groans under his breath. He supports him with a hand on his back, but it all happens a bit faster than he expected. Ibuki settles in his lap and Chrono holds him close. He feels fuzzy. Ibuki’s skin is just a bit cold from the remaining moisture from the shower, but inside his body is feverishly hot. Ibuki moves, rising, but Chrono holds onto him. “Let me move.” He says, quietly. That was what he wanted when he first suggested it.

“A-alright…” Ibuki sways in place before finding his balance. He relaxes, and finally, when Chrono moves his hip, sliding up into him, he exhales with a faint shiver. Ibuki closes his eyes shut, and Chrono tries to keep steady. Ibuki sets his arm down on Chrono’s shoulder to support himself. Chrono finds little resistance, compelled by and drawn into Ibuki’s body. There’s little buildup, none needed. Ibuki holds him tighter and slides back down, slowly, breathing shallowly with every thrust as Chrono builds his rhythm. Chrono loves to hear it, it eggs him on, driving him to go faster. Ibuki presses his face down against the side of his face, and Chrono hears and feels his breath against his skin, filtered through his hair.

Chrono keeps moving, his hips swaying Ibuki in his arms, and he too, draws a deeper, rougher breath, the pleasure numbing him to his surroundings. He still thinks of how Ibuki has made him feel, how he’s drawn his eye and sparked his imagination. He always has, ever since they first met. His curiosity sparked again today, in new and different ways. It was just a matter of time before he would cave and his feelings would burst out. Though he expected it to happen sooner or later, he never would have guessed it would happen because Ibuki got overwhelmed with requests from his coworkers to wear his usual corporate christmas party Santa costume in public for an event.

Ibuki exhales sharply and Chrono holds him steady. “Do you like that?”

“Y-yeah…” Ibuki admits, warmly, embarrassed by the sound of his wavering voice. Chrono continues to move, and while uncomfortable, frankly, with how much his legs and hip has to work, he doesn’t want it any other way. When Ibuki jerks his hip against him, he understands it as needing to move faster. He does. The bed frame is not so sturdy, holding their weight but not without complaining. Chrono feels it bend under them, adding spring to his movement. Ibuki leans back to kiss him, and their lips meet briefly. It's a fleeting kiss but they try again and again. Ibuki is erect again, fully. Chrono feels it against his body, rubbing against his abdomen and building heat. He moves faster, the melting point is just beyond here, and he can feel it. Once cold, Ibuki's bare skin has again grown hot under the plush coat. The muscles of his legs tense, altering the sound of their lovemaking. Chrono cannot think of much except what Ibuki does to him, about how he feels and how he smells, about the sounds that by now are bound to leak into the adjacent rooms. He might have realized if he wasn't so caught up in it all, apprehended by his emotions, his thoughts nestled between their bodies.

Ibuki grips him tighter, groaning. It's strange and yet familiar. Chrono raises his hand off his back and tries to look at his face. Flustered and burdened Ibuki looks back down at him, his body swaying, the fluffy collar of the coat around his neck. Chrono smiles at him fondly, and Ibuki closes his eyes, overburdened by it all, though unable to stop. "It's… it's really good for me." Chrono says, quietly, still too high on his pleasure to lose his drive.

"Yeah, I…" Ibuki hesitates. "I'm close."

"Again?" Chrono asks, smiling. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to make him come again. This is great news.

"Yeah." Ibuki's head tips forward and his voice wavers. He groans, again, tensing to silence the sound.

Chrono goes faster, and before him he sees Ibuki bounce in his lap, just like he wanted. Ibuki grabs the back of Chrono's neck hard, grasping his hair. It all feels realer than before and watching Ibuki's face, Chrono sees his expression shift and quickly realizes how close he indeed was. "Chrono," Ibuki says, quietly, trying to keep his voice steady. "Are you… coming?" His voice breaks at the end. He gasps. It should be any second now.

"Yeah. I'm about… to." Chrono reassures him, groaning.

"G-good…" Ibuki says, leaning forward as his expression falters. They are loud now, more so than before, and even more so when Ibuki cries out in pleasure, not quite managing to muffle the sound. "I'm coming." He whispers roughly against Chrono's face and Chrono thinks that maybe, all those things he's heard about Christmas miracles are true.

Ibuki gasps, and he whines, and Chrono feels him ejaculate against his stomach. It's more than enough to push him over the edge. It still takes him another second or two, his hips moving wildly, and Ibuki moaning weakly into his hair before he comes, succumbing to Ibuki, lips parting and gasping loudly as he feels the raw sensation grip him. Drained, his thoughts knocked out of his head and Ibuki's body still tightly held in his arms, Chrono lets the feeling pass through him. It's the hardest he's come in a long time, and that is no doubt because of Ibuki too; just like he's what awakened this yearning inside him in the first place.

Ibuki rises. He slides back. The condom comes off but already before then it's too late. The white fluffy rims of the front on the jacket is already stained. Ibuki grimaces. "Oh…" Chrono says, without thinking.

Ibuki takes it off, frustrated. "Well, good riddance." He throws it aside on the bed and combs through his messy hair with his fingers. "Now I have a reason to throw it away."

"Do you really hate it that much?" Chrono asks, lightheaded.

"I suppose not. But it's been so many years now…"

"I like seeing you in it…" Chrono admits, still feeling high. In his lap, Ibuki leans forward again. He kisses him, and though unprepared, Chrono accepts readily. It's a slow kiss that deepens and won't seem to end. In the hallway just outside, people pass, and Chrono hears giggling, excited voices. If he wasn't so spellbound by Ibuki's lips, he might have recognized the voices of his friends.





Chrono threw the evidence of their hookup away in the bathroom trash can but not before hiding both the used condom and its wrapper inside a bit of toilet paper. By the time he's ready for bed he feels dizzyingly exhausted. They mumble throughout the conversation and despite everything he's embarrassed to ask but Ibuki doesn't make a big deal out of it. They're sharing a bed tonight. When Chrono comes back out of the bathroom Ibuki is already under the covers, perfectly still. Chrono watches him, thinking of how cool and comfortable the covers will be around him and how warm Ibuki's body will be next to his own. Then, he steps on something, plush, soft and lumpy under his feet. Chrono looks down. "Could you turn the lights off, please?" Ibuki asks, half asleep.

"Sure." Chrono replies softly, sitting down in bed and flipping the lights off on the panel on the wall.

Chrono gets in under the covers. He scoots closer to Ibuki, admiring his peaceful face. Gently, slowly, as if not to be noticed, he places the Santa hat he picked up on the floor back onto Ibuki's head. Ibuki's eyes open. He gives Chrono a long hard stare.

"Merry Christmas." Chrono says, his voice quiet and strained with contained laughter.

"A very merry Christmas to you too, Chrono." Ibuki sighs. He closes his eyes. Chrono lays down next to him, rustling around to get comfortable, tearing the blanket out from under the mattress. He snuggles up close to Ibuki, his heart no longer beating restlessly with longing and excitement but more so peacefully yet heavily with adoration. It's been a long day and despite how his body hurts from extortion he's beyond satisfied, even though as he recalls he feels even less willing to take Ibuki's offer for those extra morning hours now than he did before. "Thank you for… today." Ibuki says quietly.

"You're welcome." Chrono replies. Ibuki lays his arm over his back.

"I was going to ask if… you were free on New Year's day, but…"

"Hm?" Chrono can't seem to recall there being an event on the first.

"But I guess we… already went ahead and jumped the gun on what I had… in mind." Ibuki says, sleepily, sluggishly but with enough self-awareness to jostle Chrono's tired mind alarmingly awake.

"W-we could still, I mean… go out. I'm free. Should be free."

"Alright." Ibuki accepts, and he seems to relax. Chrono peers at his face from under the covers. The arm over his body reels him in closer. "Good."

Chrono lies awake, and thinks of the new year ahead, of Ibuki's intentions to ask him out, of what it may all bring. He thinks about how Ibuki wants a family. He tries, very hard, to not think about tomorrow, though.