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[personal profile] mdseiran
Title: Keys to a Clockwork Heart, 5/8
Fandom: Gakuen Heaven
Warnings: Rated PG-13, highlight for overall warnings: slash, mentions of rape
Summary: Reunions don't always happen during the best of circumstances.
Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

- Sorry for the delay, it's been a busy week. ^^;



He woke up without his back screaming in agony for the first time in months. It was a strange sensation, being able to stretch his arms and legs without bumping into obstacles. A glance to his left showed it to be nine in the morning, and he missed the scent of fresh coffee drifting in from the kitchen. He rolled himself to the edge of the bed and sat up, scrubbing a hand over his face as he yawned. The bathroom seemed far away, and his bed looked inviting, but he sighed and forced himself into his old morning routine.

The noise his bare feet made on the tiled kitchen floor was the only sound in the apartment, and he pushed away the sense that something was missing as he pressed the button on the coffee maker. He tugged a clean towel out of a drawer in his dresser and headed to the bathroom, locking the door out of habit.

The hot water hit his back and he relaxed into it, closing his eyes and simply letting the water run over him for a few minutes. His hand groped for the shampoo bottle and he squeezed a dollop out on his palm. The scent of sandalwood filled the bathroom, the same shampoo he had been using for six years, but now it seemed strange rather than comfortably familiar. It was like moving in all over again; it had taken him several weeks to get used to his apartment, to no longer feel like a stranger in his own home. He wondered how long it would take to get used to the silence this time.

His phone rang three times during the ride to his office, and he felt a wave of nerves before checking the name of the caller each time. When he arrived, he took the folders Naoko held out to him without a single word of complaint and flopped into his chair with a sigh. His inbox had plenty of unread messages when he logged on, but none he wanted to read. The stack of folders sat accusingly on his desk and he reluctantly picked up his pen. He flipped the cover of the first folder open and came face to face with Kaoru’s photograph.

There had been numerous cases where he had felt a certain attachment to his clients. His father called it getting too involved, but he had never cared – it made him better at what he did. But he had never felt restless after a job, aimless, as if it hadn’t quite ended yet. Like reading a story and finding the end lacking a conclusion. He ran his thumb along the edge of the small photograph and wondered once again what it was about this man that continued to change what he thought he knew about himself.

He was still staring at the image ten minutes later when the phone rang, and he flipped the folder closed before picking up the handle. “What is it, Naoko-chan?”

”Saionji-san is here to see you.” It took him a moment to digest the words and realize he hadn’t just imagined them. “Let him in.”

Tetsuya was already heading towards the door when Kaoru opened it and walked in, and after scrutinizing the other man’s face his worry faded. “Everything okay?” he asked nonetheless as he closed the door. Kaoru’s smile seemed amused. “Does simply walking into your office constitute an emergency now?”

He placed his hands on his hips and grinned back. “Can never be too careful. If it isn’t my amazing protective skills, what is it that brings you here?” In answer, Kaoru lifted the plastic bag in his left hand. “Your dirty laundry.”

The bag contained two shirts that he hadn’t noticed were missing, neatly pressed by the looks of them. “Doesn’t look all that dirty to me,” he retorted, and Kaoru lifted his eyebrow in response.

“Yes, well, you have Omi to thank for that. Personally I think he was just tired of seeing your clothes on his dresser every morning.” Tetsuya took the proffered bag with a wide smile and placed it on the ground, beneath his hanging jacket. “Why didn’t you just call me so I could come pick it up?” he asked, head tilted slightly. “I could’ve dropped by after work today.”

“I was in the neighborhood for a client meeting anyway. It was hardly out of my way.”

For the first time since they had been reacquainted, Tetsuya sensed some embarrassment in the other man’s demeanor and he suppressed the soft smile that threatened to show on his face. “Let me treat you to lunch then, since you gave me my clothes back instead of keeping them hostage.”

Kaoru’s lips twitched slightly. “Bit early for lunch isn’t it?” he replied, and Tetsuya sheepishly ran a hand through his hair. “Something to drink then? There’s a coffee shop close by, Hide says they serve good tea.”

“Nakajima doesn’t strike me as a tea person,” was the dubious reply, and Tetsuya laughed. “You’d be surprised,” he said as he grabbed his jacket and slung it over his shoulder. “So, was that a yes?” There was a short silence before Kaoru gave an exaggerated sigh and nodded. “You won’t regret it,” Tetsuya promised with a wild grin, and he pulled the door open and herded his friend out of the office. Naoko gave him a glare as he passed by her desk and he gave her a cheeky little wave in return, causing Kaoru to roll his eyes at him. He grinned back unrepentantly.

When Kaoru started to move towards his parked car Tetsuya gave his elbow a little tug and prodded him to the right. “It’s only a few buildings from here,” he explained, and Kaoru nodded and fell into step beside him. The younger man was mostly quiet on the way there, but Tetsuya didn’t mind; it was a comfortable silence, companionable. Their close proximity caused their arms to occasionally brush as they walked, and the touch of Kaoru’s cold hand against his every time made him wince in sympathy. “Cold?” he murmured, but the prosecutor only shrugged his shoulders a little and shook his head. The next time their hands touched Tetsuya let it linger, lightly curling his warm hand around the pale one in offer. There was a moment of hesitation, but then the smaller hand slid into his and he gently tightened his grip. His thumb rubbed over the hand in small circles until it felt warmer. But even then, the grip continued, neither of them letting go until they reached the entrance of the store.

It was the ambience more than the beverages that attracted Tetsuya to this particular shop from among the dozens located in the vicinity. The owner had gone for a warm theme, all dark, rich woods and lighting that wasn’t harsh. There were small tables, bigger booths and a patio at the back, and he often saw businessmen take their clients there. He let Kaoru take the lead once they were inside, and the redhead steered them towards one of the sheltered booths at the back of the store. A menu was conveniently placed on every table, and Kaoru quickly scanned it. “They seem to have a decent collection,” he muttered, and Tetsuya repressed a snicker and signaled the waiter. “One espresso please, and…?” He raised an eyebrow at Kaoru. “I’ll have oolong tea, thank you.” The waiter jotted down their order and left, and Tetsuya relaxed into the seat with a smile. “Do they have you working on a new case already? You deserve a very long break after the last one.”

“It’s a small case,” the prosecutor replied, crossing his arms. “No death threats yet.”

Tetsuya’s expression turned into a scowl. “Not funny, Kaoru-chan,” he half-growled, and received a tiny self-satisfied smirk in return. “Is that why Shichijou isn’t with you?” The waiter took that moment to deliver their drinks, and he thanked the man absentmindedly. He picked up the white stone cup and took a sip, glancing at Kaoru over the rim of his cup. The younger man had gently picked up the fragile china cup and taken his first sip, letting out the softest of pleased sighs afterwards. Tetsuya caught the sound and grinned widely, taking a second sip to cover it.

“Omi is doing some freelance work as a programmer right now, and this case hardly needed two prosecutors,” Kaoru finally answered, and Tetsuya was sure he didn’t notice the way his fingertip ran in circles around the rim.

“I didn’t know Shichijou was still programming,” he remarked. He wondered if Hideaki was aware of Omi’s second job and decided he probably wasn’t. “Doesn’t that interfere with prosecuting?”

Kaoru’s smile was indulgent, but it didn’t seem to be directed at him. “Omi could never resist the lure of his hardware,” and Tetsuya reflected on how true that was. “He likes the challenge of prosecution too, but I think he only started doing that for my sake. Computers will always be his first love.” A few months ago, Tetsuya would have read volumes into such a simple statement, but the weeks spent at the Saionji-Shichijou household had taught him better. Kaoru’s smile as he talked about Omi verged on being gentle; it was captivating. “You should see him once he gets started on a project, he barely stops to eat.”

Tetsuya could easily imagine the scene and he smiled in amusement. “Sounds pretty quiet.”

The redhead gave an elegant one-shouldered shrug. “It makes him happy,” was his simple response, and Tetsuya understood.

“If you want,” he started, following a whim, “you could drop by my place around dinner time for a few nights?” Kaoru seemed surprised and he bulled forward. “You can bring your work if you want, and I’ll take care of the cooking.” The look on the redhead’s face started to turn skeptical. “I didn’t know you could cook,” he said, and it sounded so much like a doubtful question that Tetsuya huffed. “My cooking skills are fine, I’ll have you know. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to,” he finally added when the only further response to his offer was silence, “I just thought it might give you both space to work and more time since you won’t have to stand in the kitchen. I’ll even send something to eat back with you for Shichijou.”

The china cup was placed carefully back on its saucer next to the teaspoon. “I’ll think about it,” Kaoru finally said, glancing at his wrist. “I’m sorry,” and he sounded regretful, “I have to get back to the office.” Tetsuya contained the vague sense of disappointment and gestured for the bill as the redhead rose from his seat. He shook his head as Kaoru took out his wallet. “My treat,” he assured, and Kaoru smiled in thanks. “Go on then, don’t want to be blamed for you being late.”

The other man snorted and headed towards the exit, lifting his hand in a half wave. “I’ll call you,” were his parting words, and Tetsuya paid the bill and walked slowly back to his office, trying (and failing) not to get his hopes up.

---

He wasn’t sure who was more surprised the first time Kaoru showed up on his doorstep, roughly an hour before dinner. He came armed with plenty of paperwork and a jar of green tea leaves, which he claimed was a present since Tetsuya was having him over, but which Tetsuya knew was there because Kaoru didn’t trust him to have tea in his house. Since that assumption was right, he said nothing about it, and served the green tea instead of his customary beer after the dishes were cleared.

The conversation was kept light at first, and Kaoru would be immersed in his work more often than not. Tetsuya spent the time catching up on his reading, or occasionally doing some chores around the house. Sometimes he would turn away from something he was doing and find Kaoru staring at him. He would smile, Kaoru would quickly avert his eyes, and neither of them would mention it later. As the days passed and Kaoru came over more often, he stopped looking away when Tetsuya caught him.

If Omi chanced to be in between jobs for longer than a week, it was Tetsuya who was invited over. He would never admit it out loud to anyone, but he had missed it; sitting in that kitchen, listening to the conversation between two men who had been friends for most of their lives. He didn’t always understand the jokes they shared or the comments they made, but he felt comfortable in their presence, and occasionally, when he was half drunk on good beer and pleasant company, a little humbled to be included in their lives. A little pathetic too, sometimes, but he preferred not to think of that.

---

The ringing of the doorbell interrupted the epic staring battle between Tetsuya and the pile of paperwork occupying his coffee table, and he glared at it one last time before opening the door. A couple of grocery bags were placed in his hands and he stepped back so Kaoru could enter. “I’ve decided to cook today,” the man declared as he took off his coat and hung it on the rack. He divested Tetsuya of one of the bags and headed for the kitchen, raising an eyebrow at the coffee table as he passed it. Tetsuya followed and placed the bag on the counter next to its twin. He tugged slightly on one of the handles, intending to open the bag just enough to take a peek inside. He was thwarted by a firm push from Kaoru, who continued to prod him towards the couch until he hit it with the back of his knees and sat down. The look on the redhead’s face was expectant, and Tetsuya sighed heavily and bent to his work. “Good boy,” Kaoru murmured approvingly, and Tetsuya resisted the urge to sulk – it wouldn’t do him any good.

The paperwork enveloped him then and, to his surprise, he worked diligently under Kaoru’s supervision. The sounds emitted from the open kitchen served as pleasant background noise. He had never had anyone in his kitchen, cooking a meal for him before (unless one counted his mother, and he didn’t). By the time the food had been placed on the table, most of the work had been done, and he felt the stress he’d been shouldering all evening disappear. There were additional bonuses; the food was delicious, and Kaoru had brought a bottle of red wine, and Tetsuya relaxed and enjoyed the feeling of someone taking care of him.

He took back the reins after dinner, moving Kaoru bodily away from the sink. “I’ll do the dishes later,” he promised, and it wasn’t that hard to convince the other man to leave the chore. He quickly stacked the dishes as Kaoru made himself comfortable on the couch, and eventually headed that way with the bottle of wine and their glasses. They were placed on the coffee table, the surface of which could finally be seen again, and Tetsuya settled next to his friend on the couch. “You should cook more often,” he murmured softly, lulled into a pleasant drowsiness by the food and the wine.

“Too much work sometimes,” Kaoru replied, and Tetsuya grinned a bit. An elbow prodded him sharply in his side and he squirmed away. “I never thought I’d hear you admit to being a slacker,” he teased, and Kaoru’s retort was half-hearted at best. He turned his head to the side, glancing affectionately at the prosecutor’s relaxed profile. His eyes were closed, lips half-parted; he looked peaceful, and for a moment Tetsuya thought he might be dozing off. But then the green eyes slid open and Kaoru met his gaze, and for a couple of minutes there was only silence.

It only took a little shifting. His arm came up over the back of the couch and he slid to the left, his leg coming in contact with the other man’s. He lifted his head, waited a moment more, blue eyes fixed on green. After that, it only took him leaning forward and tilting his head, and then his lips brushed against Kaoru’s, once, gently. He paused, face mere inches away from the face of this man he had wanted for so long, and with a sinking feeling at the lack of reaction, started to move away.

Pale hands wound through his hair and tugged him back, and the soft lips found their way back to his, and all Tetsuya could do was feel as wave after wave of sensation crashed over him.

---

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