“Kaoruuuu,” Kojiro whines from the other side of the lounge.
Kaoru ignores him, flicking through TV channels without really catching what’s on.
“Kaoru baby, please.”
Kojiro’s pleading voice is truly pathetic, matched only by his puppy dog eyes. Which is why Kaoru is firmly not looking at him. He will not be swayed.
Night has fallen outside of Kaoru’s single storey house, which is a mix of traditional and modern. It perfectly embodies shibusa, as all his art does. Sliding paper doors lead from the genkan to an open plan lounge, which is split from the kitchen only by plants and an exquisitely painted screen. The floorboards host a few rattan rugs, one in the lounge area along with a couple of sienna couches and the TV, and another between the low dining table and the kitchen. The blossom tree in the middle of the small garden — visible through the wall to wall glass doors — ensures Kaoru’s namesake is present, as does his large piece of calligraphy above the low dining table. A hallway next to the kitchen leads to the bedrooms and Kaoru’s studio, but he refuses to retreat down it just because his idiot boyfriend has situated himself in his lounge.
“I said I was sorry.”
This is said huffily enough that Kaoru flashes Kojiro a warning glare. If he had been a gorgon the look would’ve been toxic enough to petrify. As it is, it only has Kojiro wincing and ducking his head.
Kojiro looks pretty sat in a zaisu positioned before the glass doors. His usual sprawl is replaced by a perfect seiza as he gazes across the room at Kaoru.
It only takes five minutes before Kojiro is trying again.
“Just take them off so I can hug you?” he asks, edging closer.
Kaoru bristles, making the silver at his throat and on his arms glisten in the low light of the TV. Kojiro flinches back.
“Okay, okay, no touching,” Kojiro assures him, raising his hands. “But can you still take them off? It’s like trying to sit on the sofa with a rattlesnake.”
Kaoru wonders how his idiot of a boyfriend hasn’t realised that Kaoru himself is far more dangerous than a rattlesnake, with or without silver jewellery. He’s probably more likely to bite too.
Kaoru lets him stew for another ten minutes until Kojiro is practically whimpering like a kicked puppy. Then Kaoru sighs and unclasps the bracelet on his right wrist. If it happens to be the wrist nearest to Kojiro then so be it.
Kojiro perks up, and if his ears were out Kaoru knows they’d be pricked.
“Is that an invitation to come closer?” Kojiro asks, hopeful but wary. “I don’t wanna get punched in the dick for trying.”
Kaoru huffs, fighting a smile, and nods. Kojiro hurries to sit on the end of the couch closer to the TV. He maintains some distance because Kaoru still glitters with silver.
“I’ll put an ad out tomorrow,” Kojiro says, all earnest voice and pleading eyes.
Kaoru squints past him at the TV.
“I’ll get Makiko to cover more of my shifts.”
Kaoru raises his hand and inspects his nails, thumb-ring sparkling.
“I’ll… I’ll take you to that exhibition on how intercontinental trade has affected Asian art?”
Kaoru’s surprised Kojiro was actually listening to him prattle on about that exhibit, nevermind that he remembered its theme. But then again, Kojiro has always been thoughtful.
Kaoru gives him a considering look, taking in the green curls that fall into his earnest eyes, so hopeful. He feels the anger seep out of him. Kaoru never really stood a chance, he loves this man too much.
“You won’t complain the whole time?” Kaoru presses, clinging to his advantage for a few precious moments.
Kojiro gives him a tentative smile, sensing victory. “Won’t even rush through to the gift shop,” he promises.
Kaoru, mollified, stretches out his legs so they land in Kojiro’s lap, his hooded eyes triumphant as he slowly starts to remove the rest of his jewellery. Kojiro lets out a huff of relief and takes one of Kaoru’s feet in hand to start massaging it.
Usually, Kaoru wouldn’t mind so much that Kojiro had to skip date-night because of work. After all, he’s a reasonable man who also owns a lucrative business. But Kojiro had forgotten to text. Kaoru was left sitting in the restaurant until the waiters took pity on him and gave him free ice cream. After getting all dressed up too. Humiliated at being stood up, by his own boyfriend no less, Kaoru had marched all the way to Sia La Luce and smushed the icecream into Kojiro’s shocked face.
When Kojiro followed Kaoru home, clearly having left Makiko to handle things at the restaurant, Kaoru had been decked out in every bit of silver jewellery he owns. He was not going to be swayed by Kojiro’s kisses. Kojiro’s very good at diverting Kaoru’s ire now he has physical affection in his arsenal. Bickering that may once have turned into real fighting is now solved by Kojiro throwing him over his shoulder and taking him to the bedroom, where all of Kaoru’s (admittedly performative) protests die.
Kojiro had been most upset by the silver armour. Kaoru had been treated to the sight of him dancing out of reach every time Kaoru moved, like he was actually going to lash out and smack him with a fistful of the stuff. Of course Kaoru would never, he just didn’t want Kojiro to get around his defences so easily.
“I’ve been telling you to hire more staff for months,” Kaoru sighs, crossing his arms as Kojiro continues to work wonders on his foot.
“And you are a benevolent, all knowing god,” Kojiro agrees, catching Kaoru’s other foot as it tries to kick him. “But things have been so busy, I haven’t had the chance to draft and put up the ads.”
“I could’ve just had Carla do it, you know this.”
Kojiro hesitates, looking torn. Kojiro and Carla have a love-hate relationship. Love, because Kaoru made her, and Kojiro loves everything and anything that Kaoru creates. Hate, because she’s a boyfriend stealing AI that caters to Kaoru’s needs quicker than Kojiro can think of them.
“If it would make you happy…” Kojiro agrees reluctantly.
“Carla, draw up two job adverts for a chef and a waiter at Sia La Luce,” Kaoru says immediately, his Carla bracelet lighting up. Kojiro wrinkles his nose. “And post it on all of the sites with the highest application and satisfaction rating.”
“Yes, master,” Carla says, matching the sunset outside with her purple light.
Kaoru nestles further into the couch cushions, swiping his wine glass up off the floor and fixing Kojiro with a satisfied look.
“Happy?” Kojiro asks, with only a slight grumble in his voice.
“Happy,” Kaoru agrees, humming as Kojiro rubs a particularly tight tendon. “But you still owe me a date.”
“The gallery isn’t a date?” Kojiro asks, cocking an eyebrow.
“That is an apology,” Kaoru replies snippily, pointing his toes so they poke Kojiro in the stomach. “Dinner is for the one you missed tonight.”
“You are right,” Kojiro concedes, smoothing his hands up Kaoru’s leg, getting that look in his eye, like he’s giving in but really he’s the one that won. “This servant bows before your greater knowledge.”
Kaoru tries to snort, but he’s more interested in where Kojiro’s hands are going.
“Remember that next time you forget to heed my advice,” Kaoru warns, parting his legs a little so Kojiro can slip between them more easily.
“Of course, my lord Kaoru.”
He smirks as he crawls up the length of Kaoru’s body, crowding him against the couch. And spends the next few hours making Kaoru forget he was ever even mad.
Kaoru stocks up on several necessities in the approach to the full moon. Mostly because while Kojiro is very good at taking care of everyone else, he’s pretty shit at looking after himself outside of the gym. But also because, well, Kaoru likes taking care of Kojiro. He’s good at it too. He orders all the right food, arranges his meetings accordingly, and makes a list of activities that can be done with a monolithic sized dog in his lap.
On the day preceding the full moon they’re once again holed up at Kaoru’s. When they were just friends, Kaoru used to go over to Kojiro’s flat for the transformation. Not that he would admit that’s why he was there, claiming to need feeding or a second opinion on an update to the S track. As though Kojiro didn’t know he was there as a pack member.
The new arrangement suits them both much better. Kaoru’s house is out of reach of the scents and sounds of the restaurant, and therefore better than Kojiro’s flat for a shift. Plus it’s more spacious. Kojiro treats the house like his own, as is his right as Kaoru’s best friend and chief mover of furniture.
Kojiro is signed off work for a couple of days of course. It’s only a twenty-four hour window in which he can transform, but he’s always exhausted afterwards. And hungry. His appetite is nothing new, but Kojiro’s cravings around the full moon are a different beast altogether. Kaoru occasionally does quick maths on the Nanjos’ expenses to ensure they can still afford a full family of werewolves whenever they’re all together.
Kojiro is grumpy and restless in the lead up. He can’t seem to get comfortable on the couch, snaps at Kaoru, and eats anything he can get his hands on. Kaoru grits his teeth and doesn’t snap back, knowing that in Kojiro’s current state it could turn into a nasty fight. Besides, Kojiro always makes it up to him afterwards.
“Would you like a bath?” Kaoru asks a scowling Kojiro as they mostly ignore the movie they put on.
“No,” Kojiro grumbles.
Kaoru has to admit the pouting is actually quite cute.
Kojiro doesn’t seem to be able to be far from Kaoru right now, which is only slightly more endearing than annoying. He runs hot around his transformation, and Kaoru has replaced the Nanjo cuddle pile from their childhood. But he does hover outside the bathroom door whenever Kaoru goes in, which is extremely off putting.
As it is, Kojiro’s currently got hold of one of Kaoru’s arms, loosely hugging it to his chest like he’s forgotten he took it in the first place.
Kaoru sighs and uses his free hand to reach up and guide Kojiro to lay his head down on Kaoru’s lap. Kojiro grouses but doesn’t do anything to stop it, fastening onto Kaoru’s thigh instead. Kaoru weaves his fingers through his hair and gives his scalp a scratch. Kojiro releases a blissful rumble. Kaoru grins.
This is of course the calm before the storm.
Several hours later and the sky outside is descending into navy. And Kojiro is curled up, teeth gritted as he attempts not to break Kaoru’s hand.
“Shhh, shhh,” Kaoru soothes in a panicky way, knelt on the floor next to the couch. He’s never been good at comforting people, no matter how many times he’s done this with Kojiro, the painful part always sends him into a tizzy. “It’ll all be over soon, just let it happen. Let go, baby.”
Kojiro groans, neck straining as he tips his head back, the tendons standing out starkly from where he’s gritting his jaw so hard. He’s stripped naked so as not to ruin his clothes in the shift, and his skin is burning up. When Kojiro opens his eyes they are glowing crimson.
The transformation rips through him a moment later, making Kojiro fall off the couch. This part is actually blessedly fast. The horrible twisting and cracking of limbs never gets easier to witness, and at the end of it Kaoru’s left looking at a very oversized, very exhausted wolf.
Kojiro in his wolf form is massive. Bigger than any natural wolf, his back reaches Kaoru’s shoulder when standing. His fur is a green so dark it looks almost black, soft and thick around the two cherries of his tired eyes.
Kojiro lays panting on the floor, before his fast healing soothes the aches and he’s able to get to his feet… or paws. While Kojiro’s always been able to take a hit better than most, his healing is even more impressive in his wolf form.
He shakes himself, looks at Kaoru, and lets his tongue loll out in an unmistakable smile. The tension breaks and Kaoru’s shoulders sag in relief.
“Hi, puppy,” he coos, unable to help himself.
Kojiro’s tail wags like mad, his whole body wiggling as he comes forward to nuzzle into Kaoru, almost pushing him over in his enthusiasm.
“Kojiro! Stop, you’re too big!”
Kojiro refrains only enough so that he’s not actively pushing against Kaoru, and just nuzzles his face against his torso. Kaoru pets him, relishing in the magnificently soft fur.
“C’mon, Koji,” he says, getting to his feet. “Let’s go lie in bed.”
Kaoru’s bed is frankly absurd. But again, he has stupid amounts of money, and wanted a bed that felt more like a small island than a piece of furniture. He actually only uses one area of it, right at the edge next to one of the side tables, but still… he likes being able to roll around.
Kojiro bounds right up onto it, tail wagging as he gives the white sheets a thorough sniffing. Kaoru washed them a couple of days ago, enough time that the scent of detergent wouldn’t make Kojiro sneeze but close enough that they’re still fresh.
Kaoru climbs in right beside him, grateful for his earlier foresight to get changed for bed. Kojiro takes his time walking in a circle a few times before settling down with a huge huff. Kaoru grins and snuggles into the space between his front and back legs, curling to fit.
Kojiro’s tail makes a whump, whump, whump as it smacks against the mattress.
Kaoru falls asleep like that, content between the paws of a werewolf.
It always takes a while for the shift to reverse, but it’s quicker now that Kojiro’s well past puberty. As it is, they have a few hours in the morning of wolf-Kojiro.
Carla announces a text just as Kaoru’s decided he needs a few extra hours of sleep. He luxuriates in the fact that this is his life now. Yes, he and Kojiro would cuddle sometimes when they were still friends, but it was usually because one or both of them needed comfort, and it got more rare over the years as Kaoru tried to protect himself from heartbreak. Now he sinks into his boyfriend’s soft fur with a sigh of utter contentment as Carla lights up.
“Text from, Miya Chinen. Would you like me to read it aloud, master?” she asks, purple glow emanating from where she sits in her bracelet form on the side table.
Kojiro let’s out a deep grumble, his side vibrating where it’s cushioning Kaoru’s head.
“Go ahead, Carla,” Kaoru mumbles, face smooshed into malachite fur.
“Does your house stink of dog or can I come over to get the sticker?”
Kojiro snorts indignantly, head shooting up so violently his flank jumps with the movement, dislodging a cackling Kaoru.
“Tell him he’s very welcome to collect the sticker,” Kaoru says, patting Kojiro’s thigh consolingly. “But he shouldn’t expect breakfast because the cook doesn’t have hands.”
Kojiro settles back down with a grumpy huff as Kaoru pulls himself out of bed to shower. He’s tying his hair into a bun in the bathroom when he gets a response, the mirror’s backlights turning purple as Carla’s voice echoes from it.
“Miya Chinin replied: Good thing too, I don’t want fur in my food.”
Kaoru turns the shower on with a smile. In spite of Miya’s complaints, Kaoru knows he cares. Just the fact that Miya, a bakeneko, wants to be around a wolf is testament to the kid’s attachment.
Kaoru’s dressed and making tea in the kitchen when Carla announces Miya’s arrival and triggers the front-door to open for him. There’s a low bark from the bedroom and moments later Kojiro comes trotting out to greet Miya, who slams the door behind him, turns his nose up, and declares, “don’t come near me, mutt. I don’t want dog hair on my new jeans.”
Kojiro promptly slumps to the floor, pretending to be cut down by Miya’s words. Kaoru can make out the smile Miya’s trying to suppress. So like himself that kid, Kaoru softens enough to allow Miya into his home studio while he retrieves the sticker calligraphy for him.
“Luck and strength are fine choices of course,” Kaoru says as Miya examines a circuit board lying on the desk between them. “But I’ve also added in fun.”
Miya’s eyes dart up to him, mouth opening as his cheeks blush.
“I know it’s corny to quote Reki, kid,” Kaoru says before he can interrupt, holding out the sticker. “But he’s not wrong. And what harm can it do?”
Miya closes his mouth slowly, eyes narrowing. Then he snatches the sticker and squints at it.
“You’re welcome,” Kaoru sighs into the silence, tucking his hands into his sleeves.
Usually he’d never put his calligraphy on a sticker meant for a skateboard. For one, his calligraphy is an art, not meant for skidding over bars in a rail slide. For another, there’s a chance his work could be recognised and then what is the point of having an alias?
But Miya is sorely in need of friends, and while those definitely shouldn’t come in the form of two men who are over a decade older than him, Kaoru and Kojiro can still be there for him. Like gay uncles. Kaoru wrinkles his nose at the thought, and then remembers they have to get Kojiro’s actual niece a birthday present. At least she’s only two and edible stickers will be much more welcome than calligraphy designs.
“Tell your boyfriend the restaurant is thriving without him,” Miya says as he rounds the desk to open the window.
“Thank you for the reassurance, he’ll be pleased.”
Miya rolls his eyes and shifts right there. His cat form is the sleek black of his hair, bright blue eyes flashing in the sun from the open window. The fact that his clothes shift with him is an ability Kojiro is most envious of. Only his rucksack remains, small enough that it perches on his back. But then slips because the straps are too long. Kaoru’s assistance in tightening them before Miya leaps out of the window will of course remain a secret. They have reputations as impeccably dressed men after all.
After breakfast, they go to the park.
Apparently, a few other werewolf companions had the same idea, because there’s some very large wolves around. Kojiro goes berserk when he sees the other werewolves, and immediately takes off to play.
Kaoru fights a smile as Kojiro charges up to a sleek grey wolf, pauses so they’re both frozen in a standoff, then takes off again, grey wolf in pursuit. Kaoru finds himself a shaded bench, sits himself on it, and pulls out an earlier version of Carla that he’s taking apart purely for fun. Past-him had some good ideas, and sometimes he’s reminded that there’s beauty in simplicity.
When Kojiro next bounds up to him he’s soaking wet and looking very happy with himself.
“Noooo,” Kaoru groans, closing his eyes. “Why did you do that, you oversized mongrel, now you need a bath.”
Kojiro lowers his head at Kaoru’s tone, and the fact that a bath actually means a spray with the hose as he’s too big for the tub. Kaoru is unmoved. There shall be no pond water in his impeccable home.
Suddenly, Kojiro perks up, ears flicking. Then he turns tail and bolts off. Kaoru sits there dumbfounded, wondering if he really was too brutal with the jet setting on the hose last time. But then he spots what Kojiro must’ve heard or smelt. Langa and Reki are skating around the pond, red and blue hair shining in the morning sun. They’re laughing, apparently unaware of the werewolf barrelling towards them. That quickly changes when Kojiro jumps clean over Reki, who’s only bent slightly to improve his speed. Reki yells, fumbles, and only just regains his balance as Langa smiles and dismounts to say hi.
They’re laughing again by the time Kaoru reaches them. Reki is doing an impersonation of Kojiro running with his mouth open, tongue lolling. Kojiro’s rolling his eyes and letting out barks of protest, but his tail’s wagging. Langa spots Kaoru and waves.
“Hey,” Reki greets, noticing him also. “Just telling your idiot not to ambush people in the park. He’s gonna get fined for being a public nuisance.”
“Ah I see you must’ve been issued one yourself,” Kaoru replies, flicking his fan open, “as your heretofore limited vocabulary seems to have expanded to words as long as ‘nuisance’.”
Langa and Kojiro guffaw at that, while Reki just rolls his eyes and scowls. He rarely takes their banter personally and still respects Kaoru enough to resist returning a jibe. Miya could learn a thing or two from him.
“Have you swam lately?” Kaoru asks Langa, making the boy’s laughter hiccup into a groan.
“I’m fine,” he protests, frowning down at his board as he pushes it back and forth with one foot.
“Langa!” Reki joins in, slinging an arm around his neck and nearly dragging them both to the floor. “You have to swim otherwise you’ll get all grumpy, dude. I don’t wanna skate with that.”
Langa’s scowl instantly softens into a fond smile, cheeks pinking. Kaoru and Kojiro exchange a knowing look and then quickly avert their gaze to stop from bursting into laughter. Langa is putty in Reki’s hands. And Reki doesn’t even realise his power.
“Okay,” Langa is saying to Reki. “Can we go to those lakes you were telling me about? I wanna see if the freshwater here is the same as back home.”
Langa’s exclusively transformed in the sea since he arrived in Okinawa, excited as he is to live close to the coast for the first time in his life. Kaoru shudders to think of willingly submerging himself in the icy lakes of Canada, but then he doesn’t have the arctic mer physiology that protects Langa from the cold.
“Sure,” Reki is agreeing easily. Despite being human, Reki is always flexible key to the needs of the creatures around him. He grins and pushes off on his board. “Race you to the bus stop!”
“What, now?!” Langa yells after him, but he’s already pushing off too.
“Yeah! Need to make sure you don’t space out in class tomorrow!”
They seem to have entirely forgotten to say goodbye to their elders, but Kaoru can’t say he blames them. He too was pretty blind to anyone who wasn’t Kojiro at their age. Well, there was his short lived and ill fated crush on Adam, but that paled in comparison to the hopeless yearning he’d been convinced would never be reciprocated. Luckily, he doesn’t have that problem anymore.
“Come on, stinky,” he says, fanning himself as he turns to Kojiro. “I want out of this heat.”
Let it be known that despite hoping he could one day change his old friend, Kaoru was not happy when Adam first returned. Yes, he's gotten better since Langa beat him, but he’s still draining. And Kaoru’s not even his blood donor.
It’s a few days after Kojiro’s transformation when Adam bursts into Sia La Luce just before closing. The restaurant’s empty, and Kojiro is crowding Kaoru up against the counter, big hand tilting his chin up and looking like he’s about to do something that would definitely violate industry hygiene rules.
“Oh my,” Adam chuckles as Kojiro jerks back, dropping the forgotten cleaning spray that had been digging into Kaoru’s back. “So you two finally fucked it out.”
Kaoru is furious. He was just about to fulfil his fantasy of getting Kojiro to fuck him in the restaurant — a feat he’s been unable to accomplish as they’ve been so busy — and now, instead, his boyfriend is growling at a vampire.
Kojiro’s pupils flash a luminescent red as he bares his fangs. Adam bares his right back. Kaoru rolls his eyes and reigns in his own temper.
“Kojiro,” Kaoru says, soft but firm as he pulls Kojiro’s face back towards him. “Hey, shush, it’s okay, he’s just doing it for attention.”
“Kaoru, darling, you’re still a hoot.”
“Adam,” Kaoru says, voice laced with venom, not taking his eyes off Kojiro’s as he speaks. “Can we help you?”
“I just wanted to warn you —” Adam starts, and that’s all it takes for Kojiro to tear himself out of Kaoru’s hold.
He’s across the restaurant and has Adam by the throat in seconds. He slams him into the door, making the glass in the windows shake with the force.
“If you ever threaten him,” Kojiro growls, shoulders rolling with power as he leans into Adam’s space, “I will ensure it is the last thing you ever do.”
“So hitting him with a skateboard was fine, but a warning is too much?” Adam drawls, looking only amused at having his throat pinned by a werewolf. “Untwist your knickers, Nanjo, I’m not the threat.”
Kojiro has been looking for an excuse to beat Adam to a pulp ever since he put Kaoru in the hospital. Seeing his usually easy going friend ready to commit murder on his behalf made something hot, possessive, and definitely secret unfurl in Kaoru. But if Kojiro was that protective when they were just friends, he dreads to think what he’ll do now they’re partners. Kaoru doesn’t think he’d like conjugal visits to prison. He sweeps his hair back, draws level with Kojiro, and fixes Adam with an icy stare.
“What are you talking about?” he asks waspishly.
“There’s been attacks,” Adam explains, placing a hand on Kojiro’s forearm and raising an eyebrow at him.
Kojiro’s lip is still drawn back in a growl, but he releases Adam so he lands gracefully back on his feet, looking entirely unruffled. It’s infuriating.
“In Okinawa?” Kaoru asks, tone flat enough to convey that he doubts this could be anything remotely interesting. He actually is curious, but god forbid Adam knows it.
Kaoru places a gentle hand on Kojiro’s arm and draws him back towards a table. Adam follows, uninvited, and doesn’t speak until he and Kaoru are seated. Kojiro stays standing, looming over Kaoru’s shoulder like an oversized bodyguard.
“There was a few upturned graves, signs of ghoul interference, nothing the hunters wouldn’t have been able to take care of,” Adam says, throwing one long leg over the other and leaning back in his chair, looking perfectly at ease under Kojiro’s glare. “But then humans started going missing.”
Kaoru looks up at Kojiro, whose expression mirrors his own concern.
“It was only out in the national park at first,” Adam continues, drawing their attention back. “But it’s been getting closer to cities. This one in particular.”
“And you know this before the news because…?” Kojiro asks, skeptical.
“Because I’m one of the most powerful men in Japan, Joe dear, do keep up,” Adam drawls, flashing Kojiro a grin.
“Why warn us?” Kaoru asks before Kojiro can throttle Adam again. Adam turns his ruby eyes back on Kaoru, a similar shade to Kojiro’s but so much colder. “It’s not like you’ve ever cared if we get hurt.”
“My dear Cherry,” he says, affecting a simper, “when have I ever given you that impression?”
“A serious concussion will really clear things up,” Kaoru says coolly.
It’s amusing, the two of them. Adam may have a good sneer, but Sakurayashiki Kaoru invented the look of disdain.
“Alright,” Kojiro interjects, throwing his hands up and starting towards the kitchen. “Kaoru you need to eat, Adam… do whatever you want, message received.”
“You’re not going to feed me?” Adam asks, turning that ridiculous pout at Kojiro’s retreating back.
“Feed yourself, you spoilt rich boy.”
Adam just grins at the jibe, looking almost wistful for a moment. Kaoru is hit with the sudden certainty that Adam has missed this. A memory of the easy banter from two people who didn’t want anything political or monetary from him. Only ever to skate and trade teasing remarks.
Kaoru would feel sorry for him, but his leg still hurts sometimes.
“Is he as good in the sack as everyone seems to think he is?” Adam asks Kaoru, his grin mischievous in that way that used to mean Kaoru was about to get dragged into something exceedingly reckless.
“Better,” Kaoru bites, grinning.
Adam laughs, delighted.