“Tell me again why I agreed to this,” Izumi said, and tried to bat away Takamiya’s hands as they straightened his tie (Takamiya had clearly yet to accept the fact that Izumi’s tie would always be crooked, and no amount of straightening could prevent it from eventually reverting to its natural state).
But Takamiya never grew tired of fussing over his clothing, and it wasn’t just because he got to sneak in perverted touches here and there; the man actually enjoyed ironing, which Izumi had first discovered when he had come home one evening to find Takamiya happily ironing Izumi’s ratty old boxer shorts. That had been a rather disturbing incident, in more ways than one.
“There!” Takamiya exclaimed, apparently satisfied with Izumi’s suit and Izumi’s tie and Izumi’s left nipple, which he had been playing with for some time.
“Stupid pervert,” Izumi grumbled, and finally managed to slap Takamiya’s hands away. “Tell me again why I agreed to this.”
Takamiya just gave him a placating sort of smile, then ushered him out of the apartment and into the elevator, and from there quickly into the car; he probably didn’t want to risk Izumi spotting an escape route and making a desperate dash for freedom. “It’s just dinner,” he said.
“Dinner with the devil,” Izumi insisted.
“Yes, yes,” Takamiya murmured, his gaze fixed on the road. “But you want to see Naoya-kun too, don’t you?”
Izumi didn’t reply, turning to face the side window and making an expression halfway between a scowl and a pout, and his face stayed that way until they arrived at the restaurant. It was a large building with fancy old architecture and its own courtyard, and it was so posh that there was even valet parking. Izumi tugged at the collar of his shirt nervously, dislodging his tie, but thankfully Takamiya was walking ahead of him and didn’t notice it.
He forgot about his crooked tie, though, when he entered the lobby and was almost blinded by the light reflecting off of the huge crystal chandeliers. “Wow,” he said, blinking rapidly.
“It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Takamiya said, and smiled down at him with that goofy expression he sometimes had (which usually appeared right before an outburst of I love you, Izumi! or You’re so cute, let’s have sex!).
Izumi shifted his eyes to look at Takamiya warily, then muttered, “Yeah, I guess.”
“I’ll pass on your compliments to Aoe, then,” Takamiya said cheerfully, taking off his coat and handing it to the waiter who instantly appeared at his side. Izumi jumped a little when the man suddenly reappeared at his elbow, and scrambled out of his own coat too.
“Aoe Reiji! You mean he owns this place?”
Takamiya nodded, then sighed. “Must you do that all the time, Izumi? Call him by his full name, I mean.”
“What should I call him, then? Reiji-chan?”
“Try it and I’ll kill you in your sleep,” came a sardonic drawl from behind Izumi, and he spun around to find himself face to face with Aoe Reiji, his mortal enemy, dressed all in black like some demon straight from hell, with a cigarette dangling from his smirking lips. “It’ll be painless, you won’t feel a thing,” he added, and blew a cloud of noxious smoke in Izumi’s direction.
“Aoe Reiji!” Izumi shouted, pointing an indignant finger at that annoyingly smug face.
“Aoe!” Takamiya greeted happily.
“Aoe-san!” Naoya chided softly, then stepped forward with a small but genuine smile on his lips. “Hi, Izumi.”
“Naoya!” Izumi shouted again, but this time with pleasure; he launched himself at his friend and gave him a fierce hug. “It’s been ages since we last saw each other!”
“Mm, almost a year,” Naoya mumbled into Izumi’s shoulder, and then laughed. “If you don’t let go of me soon, I think Aoe-san isn’t going to wait until you fall asleep.”
Izumi snorted, but released Naoya and slapped him on the back in a manly sort of way instead. Aoe was indeed glaring at him out of the corner of his eye while Takamiya chattered in his ear, and Izumi barely resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at the man.
There was a whole swarm of waiters hovering around them now, so eager to do Aoe’s bidding that they were practically prostrating themselves at his feet; Izumi would’ve laughed at the sight, except he was too busy trying to burn holes into the back of Aoe’s expensive-looking jacket through the sheer force of his glare. Naoya gave him a discreet nudge from one side, while Takamiya gave him a discreet pinch on the ass from the other, and he somehow managed to stop grinding his teeth by the time they were seated at the best table in the restaurant. By the time they had drinks and menus in front of them, Aoe had already casually insulted Izumi over everything from his current state of unemployment to his crooked tie, and Izumi’s jaw was aching from the strain.
He stood up abruptly, startling the waiter who had just approached their table. “Toilet,” he muttered, then said over his shoulder, “Order for me, Takamiya.”
Izumi was barely inside the bathroom when Naoya walked in right behind him, looking concerned, and Izumi immediately began to shout. “That Aoe Reiji is the spawn of Satan! No, he’s the devil himself! Always saying this and that and mocking me and, and... his eyebrows! He has evil eyebrows!”
“Er,” Naoya said, now looking a little blank.
Izumi took a deep breath, more so that he could continue shouting rather than to calm himself down, but then Naoya placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and said, very simply, “He’s just teasing you,” and the air whooshed out of Izumi’s mouth again, leaving him feeling like a deflated balloon.
“Yeah, I know,” he grumbled, almost annoyed that his anger had been so easily diverted. “I still don’t understand how you can put up with him though. I mean, you’re so good, Naoya, and he’s so... so...”
“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘difficult’,” Naoya said, smiling slightly.
“Yeah. Or maybe evil.”
Naoya just shook his head, still smiling, when the door suddenly banged open and Aoe appeared with a deep frown that vanished as soon as he caught sight of them. He made a vague beckoning sort of gesture, and Naoya instantly went to his side, practically nuzzling into the hand that came to rest on top of his head.
“And I thought only high school girls went to the bathroom together,” Aoe said, though it was clear that his words were intended for Izumi only. “You better go back out and join Takamiya, brat, or he’ll steal the cheese from your soupe à l’oignon.”
Izumi wasn’t sure what he was talking about, exactly, but anywhere that Aoe Reiji wasn’t sounded like a good place to be, so he left the bathroom without a second glance and returned to their table to find that Takamiya really was trying to steal the cheese from his soup.
Takamiya just laughed as he rubbed the bump on his head gingerly, and then he asked, “I take it Aoe didn’t like the thought of you being alone in the bathroom with Naoya-kun?”
“Huh?” Izumi said absentmindedly, poking at the remains of his entrée with a randomly-selected spoon. “What’re you talking about?”
“Well, I was just commenting to Aoe that Naoya-kun seemed very concerned about you, and then I made a casual remark about how close the two of you are, and then I enquired very briefly about the state of Aoe’s sex life, since he’s been so busy with this merger lately, you know, that’s why they’ve been here in Tokyo these past few days,” Takamiya explained with an unusual gleam in his eyes. He replaced the oval-shaped spoon in Izumi’s hand with a round one, then continued, “Aoe sure left his seat in a hurry.”
For a long moment, Izumi stared at Takamiya uncomprehendingly; then, slowly, a grin began to spread across his face, and pretty soon he had to clap a hand over his mouth to hold back his gleeful laughter.
“After all, I can’t let Aoe tease my precious Izumi so much without a little retribution, can I?” Takamiya said mildly, and Izumi was too pleased to even object when Takamiya reached over to straighten his tie.