Keigo, for once, was completely lost. He stared at the kitchen island and had no idea what each ingredient's purpose was.
Kaoru had located the pots and pans, still pristine, from one of the massive shelves. They also managed to find a cutting board and all the utensils required.
"Can I do anything?" Keigo was already feeling guilty that the other man had lugged the bags of groceries to his place.
Kaoru shook his head and smiled, seemingly at ease as he began to cut some of the vegetables.
"It's quite cold today. I'm making a stew. Is that alright with you?" he asked suddenly, uncertainty seeping into his voice.
"Of course," Keigo reassured him and Kaoru looked relieved, before returning his attention to the cutting board.
As if sensing that he was feeling out of place in the kitchen, Kaoru asked, "Do you mind making some coffee? I really like the blend from the last time!"
Keigo smiled back. "That I can do."
He placed the mug of coffee on the counter and Kaoru murmured his thanks, taking sips between his tasks.
"When did you learn how to cook?" Keigo asked.
Kaoru was already frying some items in the pan. He thought about it for a moment before replying, "I've always liked it. But I had more time after I got my current job."
"Do you cook a lot for your friends?"
"Sometimes." Kaoru laughed a little. "Miyagi and Nakajima – my best friends – they usually have specific requests."
"Hmm..it was oden the last time. Curry, stir-fry, omelette rice..pasta.." Kaoru rattled on thoughtfully.
Keigo was beginning to feel illogically jealous of these friends.
"Nothing too difficult, thankfully!" Kaoru concluded.
Most definitely jealous.
"How fortunate of them," he managed not quite smoothly.
"If you have any requests next time, please let me know!" Kaoru said it almost absently as he focused on transferring the items into the pot.
Then it struck Keigo that he never had anyone cooked for him before, except for the servants in the old family house. His mother was certainly not brought up to do any such task and his father probably didn't even know the layout of the kitchen in the family home. All the men and women he had gone out with preferred fine dining in ridiculously expensive restaurants.
Kaoru could fry an egg for all that he cared and Keigo would probably think it was the best thing he had ever tasted.
He leaned against the island and watched as Kaoru stirred the stew in the pot, made some sauce out of nowhere and heated what appeared to be a box of pre-cooked fried rice in the microwave oven quickly.
There was a small smile on Kaoru's face - happy, a secret, as if he had forgotten that Keigo was there.
Keigo almost crossed the space between them and kissed him.
"Delicious," Keigo announced as he finished the last of the stew in his bowl.
Kaoru chuckled. "You're exaggerating."
"I'm not," Keigo insisted.
"I'm glad you liked it."
"You have no idea."
Kaoru gave him a puzzled glance.
"It's different when someone makes it for you," Keigo explained.
"Oh." There was a confused look on Kaoru's face.
"No one has ever done this for me," Keigo clarified.
"That can't be true," Kaoru sounded skeptical. He teased, "What about lunch boxes during school?"
"There were many." Keigo was not one for false modesty. "Intricate and perfectly made."
"I knew it!" Kaoru declared triumphantly.
"From very expensive high-end restaurants," Keigo added.
"How did you know?"
"Because I received identical boxes from different people," Keigo remarked dryly. "I am quite sure that no one makes egg rolls exactly the same way."
Kaoru stared at him for a second before bursting into laughter. He tried to cover it with his hand.
"I didn't realize that it was funny?" Keigo pretended to be annoyed.
"It is!" Kaoru defended himself.
"How about you?" Keigo asked. "Were there many lunch boxes for you?"
"A few," Kaoru admitted. "I've not made one for anyone before though."
"Can I be the first then?" Keigo asked with a rakish grin.
In an attempt to hide his adorable flush, Kaoru started to pick up the empty plates. "I should clean up. It's getting late."
Keigo stopped him and held his arm. "No, let me."
"I do know how to wash dishes," Keigo teased.
"I didn't mean it that way," Kaoru mumbled.
Keigo laughed. "I know. Have more wine. I'll drive you home later."
They were quiet during the drive back to Kaoru's apartment. There was something strangely intimate in the silence.
A few glances at each other here and there at the traffic lights.
A smile from Keigo. A slight blush from Kaoru.
When they arrived outside Kaoru's apartment, Keigo resisted another urge to pull Kaoru into a kiss.
"Could you wait for a while? I just need to get something from my place," Kaoru asked.
"Sure." Keigo was curious.
Kaoru gave him a quick smile before getting out and dashing up the stairs.
Within minutes, he was back and climbed into the passenger seat.
"I got you something!"
Keigo waited as Kaoru took out something from the paper bag he had been carrying.
To his surprise, it was a small potted plant. Instead of the usual green, its leaves were screaming for attention in a vibrant red pattern.
"It suits you," Kaoru told him almost shyly.
"So it does," Keigo agreed and took the pot to examine it.
He thought about what he told Kaoru over the phone.
It was impossible not to be touched by this man.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
Kaoru seemed embarrassed and explained hurriedly, "I wanted to wait for it to grow bigger before giving it to you. But it doesn't need a lot of sunlight or water. Just water it twice a week. It's very hardy. Oh, we should pack it up."
Keigo handed the plant back to Kaoru, who placed it back into the bag carefully before putting it below the car seat.
"I'll treat it with utmost care," Keigo vowed.
There was a flash of surprise and something else in the glance which Kaoru gave him.
"T-thanks for sending me home," he told Keigo quickly and got out of the car before the latter could say anything else.
Keigo studied the paper bag and plant inside next to him.
Did Kaoru realize how special he was? How much Keigo wanted him? How painfully difficult it was to hold himself back?
"Enough," Keigo admonished himself.
Patience was overrated anyway.
He got out of the car.
Kaoru was in an odd, happy daze as he reached his apartment and fumbled in his pocket for the keys. He wanted to reach out and just touch Keigo so many times tonight. Why hadn't he dared to?
"Silly," he whispered to himself and was going to insert the keys into the door when a voice called out.
He turned around and found Keigo in the corridor. His eyes widened.
"Keigo! What are you doing-"
Kaoru didn't have time to react as Keigo strode purposefully towards him and caged him against his apartment's door.
He gasped. The keys slipped through his fingers and clattered on the floor.
Keigo's eyes burned into his.
"Something I should have done earlier."
Then the kiss.
Dear God. How could he ever forget the way Keigo could kiss? How much had he missed this? Kaoru felt a knot inside him unraveled.
He could feel Keigo's hands buried in his hair. A warning for him not to turn away.
Kaoru didn't even try to resist. He opened his mouth for Keigo to explore and discovered that Keigo was staking a claim.
When they parted, Kaoru's fingers were clutching to Keigo's jacket unconsciously.
There was a sense of urgency in the air. Kaoru couldn't look away. He didn't want to.
Keigo bent down and retrieved the keys.
"Inside," he demanded.
Kaoru's memory of how he managed to open the door and let them in was hazy.
He only knew that the moment the door closed, they pulled each other into another fervent kiss.
They have done so much more than this. So many times when their bodies were bare against each other.
Why did this feel so important? Why did Kaoru feel as if he was going to cry if Keigo let go?
The desperation in each gasp and each hitch of a breath.
The need in each caress and each touch of their lips.
When they finally broke off for air, they gazed at each other properly for the first time since they met again.
"I've wanted to look at you like this," Keigo murmured.
Kaoru couldn't even utter a word. He hugged Keigo tightly.
They stood like that for a while. A sense of wonder and disbelief as they held each other.
"I should go." Keigo drew back and said a little ruefully.
"You should," Kaoru whispered and turned red, knowing all too well what this would lead to if they continued.
Keigo smiled slightly and agreed in a tone that promised more to come. "For tonight."
Their hands let go slowly but Kaoru remained trapped.
"What happens now?" Kaoru asked in a small voice.
He stilled as Keigo leaned forward and whispered, their faces and lips so close to one another.
"Get ready. I am going to capture you this time."
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