Summary: Yagyuu takes Niou out to a really fancy restaurant. :D
Niou froze in mid-sprint from the doorway of his (and Michio's) bedroom to the bathroom.
"Come back here~"
He did so.
There was no denying that tone of voice. Only his mother ever addressed him by his full first name, and they both knew it. (If not for logic, he'd be inclined to think she picked the name for that reason alone – it was a clumsy, hairy thing on the tongue.)
She gave him a critical, appraising look up and down, apparently not needing to slow her carrot-chopping in the slightest. "Going someplace?"
"Yeah," Niou replied.
"Have you got enough money?" She knew better than to ask who with, but it was rare to see him dress up for an occasion.
Michio leaned his elbows on the benchtop, cheek in palm like a bored kid, and eyed his big brother. He wondered if, when he stopped being 'Aww~ so cute! <3', he'd retain the uncanny ability to scab off other people like Nii-chan.
But then the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" Michio yelled.
Masaharu swore and ran for the bathroom. It was only seven-thirty, damnit.
Yagyuu was unsurprised to see Niou's younger brother behind the door, once it opened. He'd hoped for Niou himself, so they could be on their way without further questions, but that would've worked out just a bit too well. At least it wasn't a parent -- then he'd have to explain just why he was taking their son to a fancy restaurant, and he wasn't sure he could come up with a plausible excuse that didn't implicate them as ...
... well, as more than friends, exactly. Their attire was far too nice for just a casual dinner between friends, but that was all they had to be, because more would mean something Yagyuu wasn’t sure he could handle just yet.
Yagyuu caught himself. "Ah, yes. Is Masaharu in?"
Scratch that, Niou thought as he overheard the question, attempting to drag Ayumi's comb through his hair. It was only his mother and Yagyuu that called him by his first name. Of course.
"Yeah, he's in the bathroom," Michio answered, blinking upwards. Well, that made sense then. All he'd have to do was find a friend like Yagyuu-san. Which probably wasn't possible unless he joined Rikkai's psycho tennis club or something. But oh well. "Come in," he said, stepping back from the door. "Nii-chan's still gonna be a bit."
"Oh? The reservation is for eight o'clock ..." Yagyuu mumbled, more to himself than not. "I had thought seven-thirty wouldn't be too early ..." Masaharu wasn't known for his punctuality, however -- coming early would ensure that they would be at their table before it was given away.
Yagyuu followed Michio in and seated himself on the couch. He could hear Masaharu in the bathroom, no doubt attempting to comb some sense into his hair. "Thank you," he said to both Niou family members present, and hoped that doing so wouldn't obligate him to explain their plans for dinner.
"No, thank you, Hiroshi-kun," Mrs. Niou replied with a smile. "You're looking handsome as usual~ You boys going somewhere special today?"
Damn. Calm down, Hiroshi, he told himself, smoothing out his own shirt and forcing surreptitious deep breathing. "Ah, you're welcome. We're going to, ah, Maison Bleu.” There, just as long as he kept his answers simple, there would be no problems.
"Ahh~ uptown. A lovely place," Mrs. Niou said with a nostalgic smile, pushing the sliced carrots aside with a knife. "The boys' father took me there on our tenth wedding anniversary."
She left that hanging just so, and Niou would've winced at her deliberate tone if he wasn't closer to laughing at the discomfort Yagyuu was probably feeling at the moment.
But his hair was about as tame as it was going to get right now, ratty braided, folded and pinned up at his nape so it didn't show. Just a touch of eyeliner and mascara, since it was nighttime, and he'd be done…
"Issit a double-date?" Michio asked leaning on the coffee table in front of Yagyuu now.
"Ah ..." Yagyuu fumbled for words, looked to Mrs. Niou for help that he wasn’t sure he wanted, and then looked away, and when his eyes finally returned to Michio he stated with at least a modicum of coherence, "No. No, it isn't." Neither did he confirm that it was even a single date, though, and mentally congratulated himself on such an astonishing feat.
"Geez, 'Chio <3" Niou laughed, done with the bathroom and going for the shoes rack by the door, ruffling his brother's hair along the way. The boy pouted. "You still don't know how to ask questions right." Something more like 'Double date? Or just the two of you? <3' would have denied a guy like Yagyuu the ability to lie by evasion (seeing as he was just dead unable to lie outright)…
"I'm borrowing dad's shoes if he asks," Niou informed, though his mum'd know it already: as if he owned black leather lace-ups to match semi-formal attire.
Yagyuu couldn't deny that Masaharu looked good, but he wasn't about to say so in front of his mother. Nor was he about to complain about his lateness, because it really wasn't worth arguing over. Instead, he stowed the You're looking well this evening in the back of his head and smiled pleasantly.
He blamed the skip in his heartbeat on nerves and nerves alone. It had been too long since he'd been on a proper date, and never had he been on one since Taki's makeover. He was just stressed, that was all. That was all.
Hiroshi did not take Masaharu's hand, even after they'd said their goodbyes and left the Niou home. He wasn't sure what to say -- this had all been his idea, but it was suddenly somehow strange, and he found himself awkwardly quiet.
At least until he realised just why he approved of Masaharu's attire so easily. "You're wearing my clothes," he commented.
"So I am <3" Niou chuckled. He'd 'borrowed' them clean off the hanger earlier in the week, and wasn't surprised Yagyuu hadn't noticed they were gone 'til now – they were probably new acquisitions by Taki's hand, and certainly not staples yet. If, in fact, deep purple was ever going to become a Yagyuu staple.
Niou walked a few steps ahead and spun a dainty model's twirl, winking. "Fits me, don't you think?" Of course it did – he was (still) about an inch shorter than Yagyuu, but (still) nobody but Yanagi could really tell.
"It ... does," Yagyuu said slowly. It looked better on Masaharu than it did on himself, he thought, but the possibility remained that he was beginning to find that Masaharu looked good in everything he wore.
That in itself was unusual -- Hiroshi was not, as a rule, attracted to men, but it was safe to say that this was quite different: a one-time deal, a special instance. "It suits you very well."
"Why, thank you~" Niou chuckled, sidling back to place a kiss just left of Yagyuu's mouth. It was nice to hear. (Of course, Yagyuu was also the kind of guy who could sound perfectly sincere telling a kid her dog did the prettiest shits in the neighbourhood – but Niou liked to think he could tell the difference between polite and actual flattery by now <3)
"I, ah ..." Yagyuu stuttered, taken aback by the sudden display of affection. He hadn't expected it, even though he knew to expect the unexpected from Niou. (That in and of itself was an interesting conundrum, with the result being that he wasn't frequently surprised. Usually.) "You're welcome," he replied, and straightened his tie. "It's, ah ... it's not far, I believe."
It wasn't. Yagyuu gave his name and reservation time to the maitre'd, and they were shown to their table without so much as a raised eyebrow. But maybe this had been a bad idea. Maybe they should have gone someplace less fancy, more normal, someplace that Niou would be used to -- and then Yagyuu chastised himself for thinking such a thing. Surely Niou would be able to fit in just as easily as anyone else; that was the name of his game, after all. But they were two men! Certainly that would be a problem, that wouldn't do ...
Deep breaths, Hiroshi. It's just a date.
Yes, a date with Niou! He hadn't even taken Sayoko here! What was he thinking?
He was handed a menu, which took his mind off of his worries for the moment.
...lasting the full half-second it took for Niou to scan his own menu and then push the edge of Yagyuu's down from between them with one dainty finger.
There was too much damned calligraphic kanji on the menu for a carefree night out. Even with Niou's (usually) near-photographic visual memory, about one in twenty were unfamiliar, he'd never seen about an eighth of the word combinations, and half the rest of the dishes were ones he'd only ever heard of.
He smiled sweetly.
"Hiroshiii~ order for me <3"
"Ah ... very well. Yes, I will. Hmm..." Yagyuu had had this problem with Sayoko before, when they'd been out together and she'd thought it would be cute to have her boyfriend pick out what she ought to eat.
Strange how similar they were, in that regard. He hadn't been very good at it then, and he didn't imagine he'd be very good at it now. But Masaharu was ... well, he wasn't Sayoko, and his tastes were easier to guess, weren't they? Yagyuu had eaten with him countless times, and even if he hadn't made specific note of the dishes that he usually ordered, he ought to have learned by osmosis by now.
So. They needed something with a sharp flavour, but not necessarily spicy, and -- most importantly -- made of meat. When the waitress came back, Yagyuu gave both their orders with confidence and offered a proud 'how'd-I-do-' smile across the table.
Niou chuckled, giving a thumbs up in return. He had no idea what dish Yagyuu'd placed, but it wouldn't matter so long as he didn't get a plateful of vegetables. And even if he did, he could just steal whatever Yagyuu had <3
"What's up with tonight, anyway?" he felt like asking, in the tone of asking a kid why he fingerpainted in green and not blue. Mild curiosity, rather than a need to know or actual puzzlement. Niou was rarely stumped when it came to Yagyuu, after all.
"What do you mean?" Yagyuu asked. For someone that meant so much to him, he would spare no expense. That should have been an obvious motive -- and yet, he wasn't prepared to actually come out and say it.
Which was just as well -- Niou operated best nonverbally, anyway.
"Why do you ask? <3" Niou chuckled, and reached across the table for Yagyuu's hand. Still riding a whim, he lifted the other's hand to his mouth, kissing Yagyuu's knuckles after the fashion of old English Gentlemen.
"Masaharu --" Yagyuu began, but stopped himself, unsure of whether he was about to lecture him or question him further. Either would have been pointless. Yagyuu let his features relax, and turned his hand around Niou's to take it in his grasp. "I just want to ..." Do something nice for someone I care about? Niou wouldn't buy that. "... I want you to enjoy yourself," he finished.
"Mm~" Niou smiled, "Cute of you." Nevermind that there was fun to be had without spending craploads... if Yagyuu wanted to, then certainly Niou wasn't going to refuse <3 It was the thought that counted and all that.
He leaned back as a waitress brought out two half-shallow... plates, placing them down gently. Which looked like a grand total of (two times) thirty-six cubic centimetres... of soup. (Which, by Niou's measurements, was approximately the grand total of one quarter the tinned stuff his mother usually bought.) Chuckling a little, he thanked the girl and picked up his spoon (round, for soup), twirling it between his fingers a couple of times before tucking in. "Ittadakimasu <3"
Cute? Yagyuu winced at that; he'd hoped to be at least a little better than just "cute". The arrival of soup pre-empted anything he might say in response, and he was strangely relieved by that.
But why should he feel relief? Wasn't this going ... rather well?
Well, they'd see. Yagyuu had hoped it wouldn't be quite so awkward. At least the soup was good -- a delicious start to what should be a very delicious meal.
"Do you like it?" Yagyuu asked. "Ah ... the soup, I mean."
"Yeah," Niou said, giving a light shrug. "It's nice <3" He neglected to suggest the thoughts that crossed: It would be nicer off of Yagyuu's spoon, or, y'know. On Yagyuu himself.
This entire date wasn't particularly his thing – sitting across a small table for two. Being 'respectable'. Polished and polite. He could do it, no problem. He could do it just as well as Yagyuu (if he wanted).
But his favourite dates were ones sitting side to side'n shoulder to shoulder (if sitting at all), stuffing around doing jack shit all. Generally speaking <3 Of course, it depended upon who he was with, and the fact that this was Yagyuu and it was Yagyuu kinda made up for the fact Niou couldn't move for having a napkin draped over his lap.
He stole some of Yagyuu's soup anyway <3
Yagyuu was about to say something chastising, but the slow smile that spread across his face in response to soup-theft prevented him from doing so. "Thank you for this," he said instead. "I know that it's, ah, not your style. But I do appreciate it." Yagyuu thought briefly of asking Niou what he might want to do afterwards, so the trade of favours would remain fair.
Well, Niou would likely take it upon himself to arrange something regardless of whether or not Yagyuu asked. The soup bowls were replaced with dinner plates and a sizzling platter of meat and vegetables before he could do so anyway. The aroma was both sweet and spicy, promising a flavourful main course. "I do think you'll like this," Yagyuu added. "And you're not obligated to eat the vegetables, either."
Niou took a deep breath, savouring the scent of freshly-cooked food – it did smell good – and chuckled at his partner's statement. Yagyuu knew him too well (though really, anybody knew him for three or more mealtimes would attest that he rarely ate the greens) <3
"Great~" he chuckled, and picked up his fork and spoon waiter-style to serve up some meat (and lots of veggies) onto Yagyuu's plate, before dishing some out for himself. And then transferring his veggies to Yagyuu <3
Trust Niou to make a stuffy fancy dinner into something decidedly unstuffy.
And yet, Yagyuu usually enjoyed so-called "stuffy fancy dinners" -- that was why he'd brought Niou here in the first place. And now ... well, he could make small talk over the spicy beef, because that's what one did during a dinner in this sort of place, but it was pointless to do so. What could they talk about, then? Was there anything they needed to talk about? It had all been said, hadn't it, and all that was really left was to do...
And oh, god, yes, there was the quick panic again, the kind that Yagyuu washed down with a long drink of water. He was sure that something new and exciting awaited the both of them when this meal was done; he had to simply not be afraid to carry it out. Right?
Niou eyed his partner discreetly over the table. Yagyuu had just drained half his glass. Which was a Very Ungentlemanly thing to do, generally speaking (one sipped their beverage of choice). And he looked nervous as hell all of a sudden, which was unusual in itself.
Not putting his cutlery down, Niou chewed on the end of his fork. "What's up this time?"
Yagyuu realised he could lie, but he wasn't sure that he wanted to do that. That said, what was up? Well ... best to just begin speaking.
"I'm, ah, glad that you're enjoying yourself," he said, after wiping his mouth with a corner of his napkin. "I wasn't sure that you would, but I'm glad that you are." That wasn't all. Go on, Hiroshi. "Did you ... ah, did you have any ... plans for what we might do afterwards? When we got home, I mean, or well, maybe before then." He paused, looked across the table, and quickly added. "You are staying, right?"
It occurred to Niou about then, that the only other time Yagyuu had been so worked up about practically nothing was when he'd been planning to sleep with Sayoko. Niou'd coached him then (y'know: take the girl out to her favourite restaurant, do a massage'n scented bath and stuff), so he wondered if Yagyuu was repeating it subconsciously now.
Probably subconsciously, since this place wasn't on Niou's list of Top Ten Eats by a long shot, and Yagyuu was rarely cunning when he was tight with nerves.
Still~ Niou wouldn't put it past him <3 He smiled, looking at Yagyuu from under his lashes for a long moment, a small smile on his lips. "I am~" A pause, and Niou lowered his tone. "We'll do whatev~er you want <3"
The purr that issued from Niou's lips put Yagyuu at once on edge and at ease. He was sensual, alluringly drawing attention to his mouth and fingertips with the way he twirled his fork and licked the tines after taking bites. Niou's long lashes, lined in dark makeup, hid the intent in his eyes, exuding both seduction and mystery.
Yagyuu liked mysteries.
He also liked Niou. And he liked Niou being Niou -- being both Masaharu and the Trickster at the same time; he was attracted to the inherent duality in his friend. He liked the way he could draw out one or the other in himself as well. He liked the way Masaharu complemented him.
He felt himself calm, just a little. There weren't any expectations. He should have known this. "I ... yes, of course," he said. "Of course. I ... I think perhaps ... maybe next time we'll go somewhere else." Where you don't have to be on your best behaviour. "What do you think?"
"I think the 'where' means less than the 'we'," Niou chuckled. The food was nice –real nice, even – almost as good as what Kirihara's mom cooked. But they could probably be eating plain rice out of a takeaway box in the park and still have just as good a picnic.
"Of course," Yagyuu replied, small smile crossing his features. It didn't have to be fancy so long as they were together -- and together they would remain. Yagyuu didn't bother asking Niou if he wanted dessert; if he did, they could get it elsewhere. He flagged down the waitress to ask for the check and paid in full so he might not bother with change. It was time to leave; that much was certain.
Another wall had been broken.
CONTINUED IN PART TWO~