Takumi was incredulous.
"You're asking me?"
"You're the only person I know who is in an actual relationship," Keigo pointed out, leaning against the wall while Takumi got cups out of the cupboard for water. "Where is your poker face anyway?"
Takumi actually blushed. "He's in the study. On a call."
Keigo smirked. "You and domestic bliss. Miracles do happen."
"Shut up," Takumi warned but was good-natured about it. "We were talking about you?"
"So, enlighten me. How do I impress someone who is not impressed by my wealth?"
"Aren't you the one who is oh-so-confident in your charm?" Takumi suggested.
"I am. Please don't question that. But the circumstances require different tactics."
Takumi poured the tea and handed him a cup. They made their way to the dining table and sat down.
"So let me understand this. He – does he have a name?"
"Okay, Kaoru, who doesn't like your money."
"For once, it actually counts against me," Keigo said wryly.
Takumi nodded in understanding. "Ah, I see. I am going to take a guess. He thinks you belong to two different worlds?"
"You are strangely accurate," Keigo observed.
"Akira thought that too," Takumi admitted. "It took us ten years to get here."
Although Keigo didn't have the details of Takumi's relationship, he could discern the gratitude in the faraway quality in Takumi's voice.
"If you wouldn't mind, I'd rather not wait that long for mine," Keigo requested.
Takumi laughed. "You're so serious this time! I can't wait to meet this person."
"You will, when I manage to win him over," Keigo promised.
"Well," Takumi thought about it for a moment.
Then he said in a resignedly, "This is the only time I'll ever tell you this."
Keigo raised an eyebrow.
Takumi smiled. "Call him. Flirt with him. Charm him. Be as damn flashy and obvious as you want to be about it. OVERWHELM him. Until he doesn't have a choice but to believe you."
Keigo considered this for a moment. "Are you telling me to be myself?"
"Fortune favors the brave," Takumi quoted. "If you recall, I shouted my confession into the phone during intoxication."
"You're a role model," Keigo complimented.
Before Takumi could respond, they heard a door opened and footsteps coming down the stairs.
"Oh, he's done! You want to stay for cake?" Takumi asked. "I baked a Victorian sponge."
"You bake?" Keigo was shocked. "Since when?"
"Akira has a sweet tooth." Takumi shrugged as if that was the most natural thing in the world.
Bloody miracle, Keigo thought inwardly. If love could compel Takumi to bake, there must be some hope left for the likes of Keigo.
"Wouldn't miss it. Do try not to poison us."
"Do you want to come over?" Keigo asked casually over the phone.
"I.." Kaoru was not sure it was a good idea. He had never been to Keigo's place before. It had always been the countless hotels where Keigo seemed to have a permanent room or suite.
"Just to hang out," Keigo continued, not pressing but merely clarifying.
"Okay," Kaoru heard himself reply.
Now, as he stood outside the tremendously posh looking building in an exclusive part of the city, it only made him feel small.
The security guard asked for his name and proof of identity before calling Keigo. After a moment, Kaoru was let into the compound and directed to the massive lobby with the concierge and the lifts. The doorman pressed the number for him.
He nearly laughed to himself. Of course, Keigo lived at the penthouse.
The man himself was waiting at the door when Kaoru stepped out of the lifts.
"Hello!" Kaoru greeted, trying to tell his heart to stop pounding.
"Come on in," Keigo returned with a smile and ushered him inside.
It was a massive duplex. Kaoru widened his eyes. Then almost suddenly, he wondered if Keigo lived here alone? Was it not lonely to be by yourself with so much space?
Don't be silly, he berated himself mentally.
"Do you want anything to drink?" Keigo asked, leading him to the clean and sleek living room. The colors were white, black and steel. There wasn't a single photo anywhere. Only a big modern painting on the wall. Kaoru wondered if it was an original piece of work. The windows were massive and had a magnificent view of the city's skyline.
"Just water, please." Kaoru sat down on the sofa.
"How about coffee?" Keigo suggested.
"Um, sure," Kaoru put down his bag and clasped his hands.
"Just a long black? Latte?"
The other man disappeared and then returned with two mugs shortly after. Kaoru was surprised.
Keigo merely laughed. "What? You don't think I can make coffee?"
Kaoru smiled sheepishly and mumbled, "I thought you would have someone to do this for you."
"I have housekeeping who come during the day. But I don't hire permanent help," Keigo answered. He didn't delve into the reasons. He had been accused of impregnating his female staff on numerous occasions, nevermind that he had never touched them.
"This is really good!" Kaoru exclaimed when he sipped the coffee.
"It's a blend from South America," Keigo said and sat next to him.
Kaoru looked around the place and decided that Keigo must not spend much time here. It felt slightly cold, like an empty shell.
Keigo interrupted his thoughts, "I'll show you around. But I don't do much with it."
"The view is really nice," Kaoru commented. "I can see so much of the city from here!"
The other man glanced at it nonchalantly. "It's not bad. In any case, the security is good."
Kaoru looked around again and murmured, "You don't really like colors."
Keigo's lips quirked. "Did you expect something outrageous?"
"I didn't know what to expect," Kaoru admitted. "But…"
"Do I sense disappointment?" Keigo teased.
"Of course not," Kaoru protested. "It's just not like you, that's all."
"Perhaps one day, someone will fill it with colors," Keigo murmured meaningfully while sipping his coffee.
It was so brief a moment but Kaoru's heart skipped a beat.
There was a specific shade of blue which flashed in his mind. A throw on the sofa. A photo frame on the side table.
He quickly changed the subject. "There must be a big kitchen too. Can I see what it's like?"
"Of course." Keigo stood up and led him down a small hall and turned to the left.
It was big. An island rested in the middle with a polished marble top, as were the other surfaces. The cabinets were brilliantly white. Two massive fridges lined up one of the corners.
But it was just too new, too spotless and there was literally nothing there apart from the coffee machine.
Keigo had the grace to sound slightly embarrassed. "I don't cook so this is quite a waste of space."
"I could make you something sometime!" Kaoru's words flew out of his mouth before he could stop himself. Then he looked away to hide a blush.
Before he could say anything else, Keigo said softly, "That would be nice."
Silence etched between them before Keigo asked, "Do you want to see the balcony?"
Kaoru smiled and nodded.
"Are you seeing someone?" Miyagi leaned over the table with a knowing look.
Kaoru looked up from the pot in the middle of the table and blinked. "N-no!"
"No way!" Miyagi slapped his hand on his knee. "I was so sure!"
"Why do you say that?" Kaoru was surprised.
"He's right, you know," Nakamura contributed between mouthfuls of noodles.
"You just seem happier. Like..you know, that funny glow people have when they are in love."
Kaoru continued stirring the pot to cook the next batch of fishcakes and noodles. He didn't know what to say.
"There IS someone!" Miyagi declared triumphantly.
Nakamura whistled. "Spill the beans!"
Kaoru shook his head. "It's nothing, really! We're not like that."
"It's not the same guy from before, right?" Nakamura narrowed his eyes.
Kaoru wished that his friends were not so astute. Either that, or his own expression was giving away everything.
"You're fucking kidding me," Miyagi cursed. "It is, isn't it? Come on, man!"
Nakamura just gaped.
"What happened before wasn't his fault," Kaoru insisted. "Anyway, we're just hanging out. Please don't worry about me."
Miyagi and Nakamura looked at each other and then shot daggers at him together.
"Does he have a name?" Nakamura asked.
"Here you go." Kaoru scooped up a bowl for him.
"What does he do?" Miyagi demanded.
"For you as well." Kaoru re-filled his bowl.
Nakamura snorted. "You're not telling."
"We can just call him a wanker," Miyagi suggested.
"You assume that he has something to wank with," Nakamura countered.
"Oh right. The man probably has no balls. How about a fucker?"
"He can't fuck if he has no balls, Miyagi."
"Shit, true. Alright, a creep then."
"Creep is good. Let's go with that."
Kaoru turned beet red at their conversation.
He stuttered, "I-if you guys carry on, I'm not going to cook for you anymore!"
"Name?" Nakamura queried.
"I know you're concerned," Kaoru said quietly. "But it's really okay this time."
He smiled gratefully. "Thanks."
Miyagi sighed and took a gulp of beer. "Fine, fine. We'll just go get pissed if creep fucks up again."
"No, this time, we go and beat the shit out of him," Nakamura decided in a wise voice.
"I'm definitely not giving you his name!" Kaoru exclaimed.
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