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A(r)mour, Chapter 4

Title: A(r)mour

Warnings: Rated M, contains yaoi and occasional swearing, if you don’t like these things please don’t read.

Summary: Hiroki just keeps getting his heart broken, again and again and again, like a fool who doesn’t know when to quit. Standard romantica, egoist, and terrorist couplings, plus Nowaki/Misaki, Akihiko/Hiroki, Miyagi/Hiroki.

Author's Note: Moving house at the moment. Enjoying some indoor camping since my bed and most of the rest of my furniture has been packed up. But it won't stop me from updating! Hooray for laptops~


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


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Chapter 4
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The weekend never seemed to stretch so long before.

In disgust, Hiroki tossed his book to the floor, not even bothering with a bookmark. None of it had sunk in anyway.

His marking was finished. His latest paper had been annotated and proof-read and set aside for Miyagi to look over before submission. His lesson plans were up to date. He’d even gone out to the grocer to buy food he didn’t feel like eating. And his one failsafe guaranteed to make him feel better – reading – didn’t seem to be working.

He switched on the TV, flicking through the channels in irritation. What the hell did he used to do with his time? It wasn’t like Nowaki had ever been home that often anyway – had been gone for an entire year once, even. Granted, he’d been working towards his associate professorship then and didn’t have the same stock of lesson plans he had now, but this was ridiculous!

Restless, he turned the TV off and started tidying up the apartment – not that there was much to tidy. He rooted through some books and came across a box of old literary journals, which he took to the cupboard and started clearing a space for.

Until his hand brushed across a familiar box of letters, and the journals were swiftly forgotten.

Nowaki hadn’t taken it.

He snatched his fingers away as though the box had teeth and glared at it, willing it to disappear. It had the temerity to remain still and silent and very much inside his cupboard.

After a lengthy battle of wills, Hiroki hauled it out and started rifling through it.

Letters. There had to be over fifty of them. He’d read quite a few when he’d first discovered them, but Nowaki inevitably would distract him and make a fuss before he could get through them all.

All those damn letters he’d never sent. He couldn’t believe that Nowaki! Even one letter would have made that miserable year more tolerable. It wouldn’t have taken much to assuage his doubts. He would have latched onto the tiniest scrap like a drowning sailor.

Automatically, he flipped open an envelope and started drawing the folded paper out.

“…What the hell am I doing?” he asked into the silence.

This was just torturing himself.

His fist clenched, and the letter crumpled in his grasp. With a snarl, he tossed it aside.

He was no longer the most important person in Nowaki’s life. That was all it would have taken to make him satisfied, but he couldn’t even have that.

In a fit, he gathered up the box and the crumpled letter, and dragged the lot outside. He dumped it into the burnable garbage, watching as the envelopes scattered and mingled with the used coffee filters and tissues and advertising flyers.

His arm twitched, fighting the urge to reach in and pull them out. He hadn’t even read all of them, and leaving something unread to him was…

With a huff, he slammed the skip lid down, then for good measure went and fetched the rubbish from his apartment and threw it on top, burying the letters under old newspapers and empty packets.

He stomped back up to his apartment and slammed the door – damn the neighbours anyway, they could think what they like.

He felt cheated, still.


………………………



“Ne, Hiroki, how do people fall out of love?”

The plastic of Hiroki’s pen creaked dangerous in his grip. It had been a long time since he’d been subjected to one his childhood friend’s self-pitying poetic spirals. “What? What brought this on all of a sudden?”

“I’m depressed,” Akihiko remarked, from where he’d stretched out on the office couch like a psychiatric patient. Or possibly an extremely large cat. Hiroki didn’t turn to check.

"I’m sorry, but I've got my own issues to deal with right now," he groused. “Bad enough you treat me like your personal librarian, I’m definitely not your psychologist. I’m working, you know.” He was in no mood to listen to the lovelorn ramblings of the world's biggest Takahiro fan.

Not that Akihiko’s presence was entirely unwelcome. Hiroki had plenty of good acquaintances to go drinking with if he wanted, but his list of actual friends was short. Throughout childhood there had only been Akihiko. In adulthood, that number failed to expand. It wasn't that he’d been unpopular, more that people never had the chance to get close. As a child, an endless stream of extra-curricular activities ate up the time in which other children played together and bonded. As an adult, he'd grown practised at solitude, preferring the company of books and focusing whole-heartedly on his studies and career. Miyagi counted, perhaps, gradually wearing his way from superior to colleague to friend through persistent familiarity. The only other exception had been Nowaki.

He was still adjusting. That was all. It wasn’t like he was lonely – he’d managed just fine in the past!

“So cold, Hiroki.”

“Tch.” He turned his attention back to his marking. "Shouldn't you be working? I haven't seen any new books for a while."

"Writer's block," Akihiko explained.

Hiroki scoffed. "You? Writer's block? You haven't put your damn pen down since we were ten." When the expected chuckle didn't follow that statement, he turned his attention to his friend properly. "You're serious?"

Akihiko simply didn't get writer's block. If he wasn't working on one of his literary novels, he wrote flowery BL trash. Not even his enduring unrequited love for Takahiro dampened his appetite for it - if anything, Hiroki suspected it fuelled his work.

“Hn.”

He was serious. “What happened?”

“Oh, now you care?” came the droll response.

Hiroki pegged his pen at the author, who caught it with deceptively quick reflexes.

“If a person breaks up with someone, they should fight to get them back, shouldn’t they? Is that so wrong?” Akihiko continued in a monotone.

The topic struck a little too close to home. The wound, even nearly a month on, stung terribly. Hiroki scowled, and fished for another pen. “If you’re stuck on the plot for one of your romances, why didn’t you just say so?”

“Hnnn.”

Conversations with Akihiko could be exercises in frustration even when Hiroki didn’t feel like shattered glass. “If it’s a misunderstanding, or a real mistake, they should fight,” he recited, taking off his reading glasses to massage his eyes. He felt tired. He always felt tired, lately. “But if they were genuinely unhappy, doesn’t fighting for them just make them the villain? There’s no point trying to force something that doesn’t work.”

All it did was breed resentment. Clinging to a relationship that had already failed was illogical, and pathetic, and made you look like a loser. That was expressly the sort of man Hiroki never wanted to be.

“…Maybe you’re right.” He heard the flick of a lighter, and a moment later the aroma of smoke curled his way. Hiroki’s scowl deepened. Bad enough Miyagi was always stinking up the office. This was why he kept half of his books at home.

Akihiko didn’t speak for a while – simply leafing through a book with one hand and smoking with the other. Hiding from his editor, probably, if what he said about writer’s block was true.

“I had a fight with my roommate. He moved out,” Akihiko admitted out of the blue.

Hiroki paused. “Really?”

“Hn.” He sounded depressed about it.

Frankly, Hiroki wasn’t that surprised. It had been a shock to hear Akihiko was living with anyone in the first place. His friend had been reticent on the details, but what glimpses he afforded him painted a very… odd… picture of the household. And Akihiko could be a real nightmare in the mornings. And was hopeless at housework. And had no concept of personal space. And didn’t like people as a general rule.

It was amazing it lasted as long as it did, really.

Since he was Akihiko’s friend, though, all he said was, “He’s an idiot. You live in a damn penthouse. If he could stand you this long, he’ll come crawling back eventually. Enjoy the quiet while you have it and get working on your next book.”

When he cast another glance over his shoulder, Akihiko didn’t look convinced, but gave him a small smile regardless.

“You’re a good friend, Hiroki.”

“Liar,” he grumbled, and turned back to his marking.



……………………



It was Friday, late. The clouds gathering all day at last followed through on their threat to open up. Miyagi hurried up the last few steps of stairs as the gentle sprinkles turned to rain.

Fumbling with the load in his arms, he pulled out a slip of paper from his pocket, peering at the address, then with confidence knocked on the door to the apartment. Several thuds came from within, before the soft shuffle of footsteps, then at last the door creaked open to a familiar, if ruffled, visage.

Hiroki Kamijou peered out into the night. "Professor. What are you doing here?"

He held up his prize with a cheery smile. "You forgot your phone. I was in the area, so I thought I'd return it to you."

It was a complete pretext, of course. Normally, Miyagi would have just left the phone there - if Kamijou really needed it he would come back to get it himself. And Miyagi was only in the area for the purpose of dropping by. Semantics. A Professor of Classical Literature could play them like a piano.

Kamijou eyed him suspiciously, and held out his hand expectantly. "Thanks, but you really shouldn't have." He stressed his words just a little more than strictly necessary.

Miyagi pulled the phone out of reach. "Ah, so cold. You're not even going to invite me inside in this terrible weather?" He held up his other prize - two boxes of still-steaming takeaway. "I even brought food! You won’t make an old man eat alone, will you?"

That pretext was a little more see-through. By his expression Kamijou knew it, but gave in with a suffering sigh and opened the door wider. "Fine, come in."

Success. He was so smart. The door shut behind him, muting the patter of rain to a dull background ambience.

He hummed to himself as he slipped off his shoes at the entrance, and squinted. “Ah, it’s kind of dark…”

With a scowl, Kamijou slapped a light switch, wincing at the sudden brightness. The evening news murmured on the TV, barely audible, in the background.

“I’ll just let myself in then…” Miyagi happily strode through to the living room, dropping down next to the table and digging into the bag with the takeaway, all the while eyeballing the apartment for clues.

He was sick of sitting on the sidelines. For close to a month now he'd watched his colleague cover the bags under his eyes with makeup, skip meals, and drink more coffee than what even Miyagi thought healthy. He evaded every pointed question about his state and went about his business as though everything was normal.

Miyagi couldn’t restrain himself anymore. He needed to meddle.

“Professor-”

“Maaa, maaa, we’re not at work Kamijou, just Miyagi is fine,” he interrupted with a grin. He doubted it would work, but wasn’t it worth a shot?

Kamijou frowned at the noodle box shoved in front of him, and didn’t acknowledge the correction. “Thanks for going to the trouble, but I’m not really that hungry.”

“Nonsense, eat, eat!” He opened the box and shoved a pair of chopsticks into the younger man’s hands. “And don’t try to tell me you ate earlier.”

Kamijou gave him a flat look. “You’re being nosy, Professor.”

He laughed, a trifle nervously, but thankfully his colleague started eating mechanically. Miyagi watched in quiet approval, even if the utter lack of interest in his food made for a depressing sight. He tasted his own experimentally. It was pretty good, even – just a little spicy, and the cabbage and egg and chicken mixed throughout gave it some variety.

To fill the silence while they ate, Miyagi chattered on about the safest subject that lay between them – literature. Kamijou was unresponsive at first, but it didn’t take long before he was arguing the fine points of analysis of one of the second-year coursework assignments and the idiot students who obviously hadn’t read a book in their lives.

“The subtext was practically supertext, and they still didn’t catch on! Do they even know how to read kanji?! Without that double-meaning, half of the story is lost!”

“The standards have really dropped over the years,” Miyagi agreed. “My fail rate’s nearly doubled since I first started teaching.” He grinned. “Of course, it’s much better now I don’t have to teach the freshmen.”

Kamijou rolled his eyes, muttering an oath under his breath. “Lucky you. How do they even get into Mitsuhashi without being able to write a proper sentence? I thought the University was supposed to have standards.”

Miyagi shrugged. “Some of the engineering majors are in high demand, and most of the courses require at least a couple of units covering the communication component.”

“That’s no excuse! If you’re going to study literature, you should take it seriously! They can take a foreign language if they’re that desperate for credits!”

Miyagi nodded, and idly wished he’d thought to bring some beer or sake over. Despite sharing an office, they had surprisingly few opportunities to discuss literature at length like this. There was always work demanding to be done, or interruptions from students, or that nagging sense of responsibility that they were working and shouldn’t get side-tracked by having fun, even if that fun were entirely relevant.

“They all choose Murakami for their book reports,” Kamijou continued in a grumble. “Honestly! Granted the man has talent, but he’s lacking in ambition and depth compared to the early post-war authors. The real literary work is being done by the likes of Tadawa Yoko and Levy Hideo.”

“Well, we are seeing a shift in the focus of subject matter from ideology and philosophy to purely character-driven storylines in contemporaries.” Miyagi paused to chew on some noodles. He swallowed, and continued, “And don’t forget that modern contexts do change the interpretation of classic literature.”

Kamijou dismissed the notion with a flippant wave of his hand. “Rubbish. The true auteurs are timeless. You already know Matsuo Basho’s poetry increased in popularity for over two centuries after his death.”

He had no choice but to nod agreeably to that. He found himself captivated by the way his colleague’s face animated as he talked, eyes bright and expression constantly shifting as he spoke about his favourite subject. It was such a change from the usual tired neutrality that had taken hold over the past few weeks. It gave him a sense of hyper-reality.

“They can’t even appreciate the lyricism of Mishima.” Kamijou scowled. “Next semester I swear I’m just going to set all the damn texts.”

Miyagi hummed to himself with a fond smile. “I do love your attitude towards literature.”

Kamijou flushed, and cut his tirade short. “I suppose I should offer you some tea.” He stood up and hurried to the kitchen without waiting for a response, and Miyagi’s grin widened. The associate professor could be cute when he was flustered.

He followed, taking the opportunity to eyeball the apartment a little more thoroughly as his host clattered around the kitchen for mugs and kettle. He hadn’t forgotten his reason for coming here, as entertaining a diversion talking literature could be. There were towers of books everywhere, which he thoroughly approved of, but aside from that, it felt like there were… gaps. Empty patches that looked out of place.

“…Hey, didn’t you have a roommate?” he asked.

Kamijou’s shoulders stiffened. For a moment, he expected the usual brazen brush-off, but the food and literature talk had apparently done their job of mellowing the associate professor out, as he eventually answered, “He moved out.”

So here they arrived at the crux of the matter. The fire had fled his colleague’s eyes, his face arranged back into a careful mask.

“You dumped him?” It had only been a matter of time until Kamijou found out about the cheating – assuming, of course, that was what it had been. Miyagi was pretty sure.

The kettle rattled harshly against the countertop as the brunet slammed it down. “I didn’t…” he hissed through his teeth, then taking a deep breath, continued in a more controlled tone, “We broke up. He found someone else, if you must know. Stop treating everything like a joke, Professor.”

Miyagi winced. It was a lot worse than he’d expected.

He waved a hand carelessly. “Sorry, sorry.” He dug around in his pockets for a smoke, halfway to lighting it before registering the glare his host was giving him and hastily putting it away again. Right, someone else’s house. "How long were you two together?" If Kamijou was answering questions, he figured he might as well grill him for all the details he could get before he clammed up again. The goodwill he’d generated earlier was quickly evaporating. The odd spell wouldn’t last.

Kamijou kept his eyes firmly forward as he filled the kettle and switched it on. "…Seven years."

Miyagi sucked in a breath.

Seven years.

His marriage didn’t last half as long.

No wonder his colleague was in this state.

The silence in the kitchen grew oppressive, the growing bubbling of the kettle impossible loud in the tension. Kamijou’s shoulders were taut, like a bow waiting to be plucked. Steeling himself.

It wasn’t just the apartment that was full of gaps.

It was an impulse. Kamijou looked so alone in that kitchen, so small and vulnerable and sad. Miyagi couldn’t stand it anymore. He wanted to make that look go away, and to never again see it chase off the fiery passion the man had sported mere minutes ago.

Miyagi didn't believe in love anymore. That part of him died with his teacher.

That didn't stop him getting married.

Nor did it stop him wrapping his arms around his associate professor now.

Kamijou stiffened even further under his embrace. “Professor…?”

He lowered his head to murmur in his ear, “You don’t have to put on such a strong face, you know.”

“What are you-”

Before he could complete his denial, Miyagi spun him around, pressing him up against the cupboard doors. “That perfect armour of yours isn’t holding up too well.”

Then, before Kamijou had the chance to react or protest, pressed their lips together.

He wasn’t sure what he expected. It had been some time since he last kissed Risako, and in the last few months of their marriage those kisses had become terribly chaste.

It wasn’t even that, though. He’d expected kissing a man – especially one as smooth-skinned as Kamijou – to be more or less the same as kissing a woman. One mouth was much like another, right? But it was completely different. Unyielding. The curve of his jaw was harsher. The lips were still soft, but lacked the waxy, slippery coat of lipstick Miyagi had come to take for granted.

The kettle chimed in the background. Kamijou started to lean back and break away, but Miyagi just moved forward, deepening the kiss. He demanded more. Fought for it.

And slowly, his colleague responded.

By the time Miyagi finally let his associate professor break away, they were both flushed. Kamijou’s fingers were twisted in his shirt and a budding erection pressed against his thigh.

Miyagi did pride himself on being an excellent kisser.

“Professor… you…” Kamijou couldn’t seem to decide whether he wanted to cry, jump him, or throw books at his head.

Miyagi wrapped him in another hug – partly for dignity’s sake, but mostly so his colleague couldn’t reach for the nearest ammunition. He pulled the other man’s head in close, sliding his fingers through messy brown hair. “Let me take care of you, Kamijou.”

His colleague had gone unnervingly still in his grasp. Miyagi didn’t let it bother him – just held him quietly, for as long as it took. For the right person, he could be patient. He’d had infinite patience for her.

Slowly, his shoulders relaxed, and Kamijou’s hands reached up to clutch at the back of his shirt.

He didn’t need to say anything more.



Next chapter

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ladyazurith
Oct. 9th, 2013 04:50 am (UTC)
Heartbreak induced writer's block is a horrible thing! And poor things, at least someone got a hug.
Happy moving though :)
sinnatious
Oct. 11th, 2013 02:10 am (UTC)
Writer's block of all kinds is a horrible, horrible thing.

Cheers! Moving is a pain, but it shouldn't affect my writing too much. Update schedule slightly changing to deal with it though. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )