starts like this

It starts like this: Haruki kisses Kazuki first.

It’s late afternoon in the student council office. The other members have long since gone home, and even Yuki has left early, muttering something about a family dinner and looking about as pleased as a man heading to his final supper. Except for the gentle scratch of pen against paper, the room is quiet: Haruki is involved with something-or-other, and Kazuki is somewhere hovering on the edge of sleep, his arms folded on the edge of the desk and his cheek pillowed on those arms. He’d given up on trying to convince Haruki to play hooky after the fifth absentminded “what?” and now, he’s just waiting.

He likes this, though, the quiet minutes that he can spend near Haruki without anyone else. He doesn’t resent sharing with Yuki (much), but his favorite times are when it’s just the two of them–even if Haruki is working, or reading, or not even paying attention at all, it’s a space where only the two of them exist.

The sounds of the pen stop. “Kazuki,” Haruki says.

Kazuki looks up. He blinks a few times. Haruki’s glasses are doing that thing where they look opaque, hiding his eyes. “Haruki–?”

It happens like this: Haruki leans forward and kisses him.

As first kisses go, it’s nothing spectacular. There are no fireworks going off, no swelling romantic music, no heartbeats synchronizing as one. Haruki’s mouth is soft, but a little chapped, slightly cooler than Kazuki’s own; he smells like the same brand of soap and shampoo he’s used since they were brats–there is nothing new to learn, because they already know everything about each other.

Well, except maybe for this.

Haruki also pulls back first. His glasses are still reflecting the light, and his brows are drawn together in that particular way he has when he’s on the verge of solving a problem that’s been puzzling him for a while. “Hm,” he says, and starts to gather his papers together. It’s like nothing even happened, for all the reaction that’s showing on Haruki’s face: as always, he’s calm and he’s in control. He opens his mouth, and instead of anything like explanation, he says, “We’re having nabe for dinner tonight. Grandmother said to invite you.”

It pisses Kazuki off. This was significant! This was important! And Haruki’s grandma’s nabe was really good, but some things had more priority!

“Haruki,” he says.

“She was planning on making dango, too,” Haruki says, as he snaps his bag shut. “It’s been a while since you’ve come over, so she misses you–”

Kazuki grabs Haruki by the collar, hauls him in close, and kisses him. Because it’s only his second kiss, it’s rough and unpracticed and their noses mash together at a bad angle and he’s not sure whose teeth bashed against his lip, but it’s pulled Haruki off-balance–he’s making a few startled noises, his hands fluttering before they come to rest on Kazuki’s shoulders. His fingers flex and relax, and it’s not hard to read him (it’s never been hard for Kazuki to read him)–no, stop, I should say something, we can’t.

“We can,” Kazuki tells him, only since they’re still kissing, sort of, it comes out more like “wwwgnn.” We can, it’s all right, it’s you and it’s me and I don’t care if you’re ahead right now, because I’ll always catch up, and we’ll go together. It’s a lot to put into a single sentence, but since it’s Haruki, he understands. He pulls away, and now his glasses are askew and his face is red and his eyes are wide. Kazuki can see himself reflected in them.

“You’re the smart one,” Kazuki says. “But I always catch up in the end. You’re not allowed to go anywhere without me.” He lets go of Haruki’s collar and reaches to tug his tie free instead, wrapping the end of it around his fist, then grins widely. “Besides, you’d worry if you tried to leave me.”

“Kazuki,” Haruki says softly. His voice cracks a little, and he looks so bewildered; Kazuki softens a bit in spite of himself. “I’m s–”

“I’m not,” Kazuki says, and kisses him again. This time he doesn’t rush it, so he avoids the nose obstacle and the teeth problem, so he’s pretty proud of himself. He even wins another little sound from Haruki, this one softer than before, which gives him as much of a thrill as getting the first perfect score on a new arcade shooter does. Maybe even more of one, because if it’s a game, it’s one Haruki will actually play with him, instead of hanging back to watch.

When this kiss ends, Haruki is still red, and he still looks bewildered, but he’s smiling now too, the same small private one that’s only ever belonged to Kazuki. He readjusts his glasses, but doesn’t try to pull his tie free, and he says, “If we don’t hurry, we’ll be late for dinner.”

“–Ahh!” Kazuki lets go finally, yanking back to grab his own bag. “Does this mean they’d start without us? They wouldn’t do that, right?? Wait for us, nabe! We’re coming!” He grabs Haruki’s wrist with his free hand and runs for it, dragging Haruki along the way.

“–Kazuki–!”

It starts like this: Haruki kisses Kazuki first.

Wherever it ends, though, Kazuki thinks, it’ll be fine. Because no matter where they go, they’ll be there together.

“Kazuki, my keys are in my bag, they’re back in the council office–”

“Ehhhhh?! Why didn’t you say so before?!”

“I was trying to! You weren’t listening!”

“WE’RE NEVER GONNA HAVE YOUR GRANDMA’S NABE, ARE WE!”

“Kazuki, honestly–”

“I’m going to die! I’ll die of hunger right here! Harukiiiii!”

“You …”

“It’s a race now! We have to run! Ouuuu! Ready, GO!”

“KAZUKI!!”

Together’s better than apart.

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