It's About Time (Original title: Moments Like These)
by samuraiheart
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me and they are the property of their respective owners.
Author's notes: This story contains shounen-ai.


----- indicates a switch in view point. The whole thing is in third person so it's more like a switch in perspective. It's usually pretty easy to figure out. italics indicates thoughts

It's About Time

Shinobu walked down the street slowly. He couldn't believe how much the city had changed in the short time that he had been away. Four years. It had been four years since he had walked these streets and four years since he had seen these sites. He took in a deep breath and enjoyed the scent of autumn that swirled around him. Crisp and cool. The leaves were turning golden, orange and red all around him. They fell delicately from their branches and came to rest on the solid concrete below.

Men and women walked quickly past him and he wondered if they ever stopped to see it all. He wondered if they knew what they had and how much they would miss it if it was suddenly taken away. He shook his head and wondered why he was being so philosophical tonight. He pulled his jacket closer to him as the wind picked up and brushed his blue-grey bangs away from his face.

His hands found their way to his pockets and he frowned again at the folded piece of paper that he found there. He hadn't meant to bring it with him. He unfolded the note and glanced down at it briefly. It was a letter from Mitsuru. He had received it just a few days ago. Mitsuru wanted to see him again. There was something he needed to tell him. It was very important.

Shinobu felt a blush creep up into his cheeks as he stuffed the note back into his pocket and bit his lip. There was no reason to think about that tonight. Mitsuru was a good friend and nothing else. They had been good friends since the first day that they met. Four years would not change that. Tomorrow, Shinobu would call him and set up a time to meet. Maybe they could do something fun together.

Shinobu wondered what his friend had been up to lately. They tried to keep in touch, but it wasn't always easy. They were both busy with homework and career plans and they were so far away. Somehow they had just drifted apart. Shinobu hoped he could fix that. Maybe that was what Mitsuru wanted to talk to him about. Shinobu nodded and continued on his way.

He froze when he saw a familiar figure coming out of the movie theater. His eyes widened at the sight of Mitsuru and a smiling brunette woman laughing and talking about ten feet away from him. Shinobu quickly ducked into the nearest alleyway and took a deep breath. His heart was beating quickly and he wondered if he was ready for this. Maybe he didn't want to hear what Mitsuru had to tell him.

He closed his eyes and bent his head. He couldn't explain what he was feeling. His emotions seemed to burn inside of him as if they were trying to tell him something. Was he jealous? He wasn't sure. He guessed so. Did he really think that Mitsuru would wait for him? He shook his head again. What was he thinking? He wasn't even sure if Mitsuru had ever felt anything for him, but he had always wondered. There had been so many times that they had seemed so close. Once or twice they had looked into each other's eyes and things had just clicked. Somehow, even after four years, Mitsuru was the only one who could make Shinobu feel like that.

He sighed as he turned back towards the street. At least he could make the most of it. If he found out for sure that Mitsuru was in love, then there would be no reason to call him tomorrow. Shinobu crept cautiously towards the couple as they hurried down the busy street. He had to make sure that they didn't see him. He wondered where they were going.

/Please don't turn around. I don't want you to see me. Not yet. I still need to sort some things out and if you.../

Shinobu breathed a sigh of relief as they turned and walked inside a nearby restaurant. He waited for a few minutes before he casually walked by the window to see if he could see where they were sitting. He spotted them right away. It was a small table near the back. The lighting was dim and romantic and even though there was plenty of room for them to sit opposite each other, she took the chair on his right.

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"So, what do you think, Mitsuru? Do you like it?" The woman gestured to their surroundings as she spoke.

Mitsuru nodded. The restaurant was unusually busy for a weekday, but it seemed like an interesting place. It reminded him of a place that he had gone with his friends long ago when they were still in high school. Hasukawa and Shun used to tease new waitresses by asking them if they thought Shun was a boy or a girl. Shinobu would always sit back and watch them distantly as if he wasn't really paying attention. He did that sometimes. It was almost as if he was thinking about something very important. Mitsuru had always hoped that maybe Shinobu was thinking about him.

The woman reached out to place a comforting hand over her friend's. "Are you okay, Mitsuru?" She looked over at him with concern sparkling in her brown eyes.

He smiled and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Karen-san. I guess I'm just a little distracted."

"Is it about your friend Shinobu-san?" She asked cautiously. He had told her earlier that he was expecting him in town in the next couple of days.

Mitsuru's eyes widened. For a moment he wondered how she could have known. Was he blushing? He brushed it away as he realized that wasn't what she was referring to. He had talked to her about the situation several times. She knew all about Shinobu and that he was coming to visit soon. She also knew what Mitsuru wanted to tell Shinobu. "No. I'm sorry. I just thought maybe.... Nevermind. What are you going to order?"

She smiled gently at him as she leaned back into her chair and flipped through the menu. "I don't know. I hear that they have good pasta, but I'm not sure." She looked up briefly to meet his gaze. "I'm sure everything will be all right."

Mitsuru nodded and brushed the topic away with a wave of his hand. "I don't want to worry about that tonight, Karen-san."

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Shinobu was angry. He wasn't sure why.

/She held his hand! What gave her the right to touch him! /

Shinobu clenched his fists and turned away from the restaurant.

/So this was what he wanted to tell me. Well, I guess that's the end of it then. /

Shinobu took a few steps away from the building before he paused and came to a decision. It couldn't end like this. They were good friends. They had always had a strong friendship and even if it could never be more than that Shinobu had to know for sure. He had to see Mitsuru once more to satisfy himself. He pushed open the restaurant door quickly and walked up to the hostess with determination.

"Good evening, sir. Do you have a reservation?" She smiled at him warily.

"I... ummm... I...." Shinobu tried to find the right words as he stared at the couple on the other side of the dining room. He wished that Mitsuru would look up and see him standing there.

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Mitsuru handed their menus to the waiter after he took their orders and he took a sip of the water in front of him. He blinked as he felt the strangest urge to turn his head and look towards the door. It was him. It had to be him. After all of this time, toward the front of the restaurant his high school roommate was standing next to the hostess. He felt a blush creep up into his cheeks as he noted how good Shinobu looked in the long black jacket he was wearing. His blue-gray eyes stood out against pale skin and his soft hair fell delicately across his forehead. Mitsuru raised a hand and gestured for Shinobu to join them.

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"Excuse me sir, but if you don't have a reservation I'm afraid we can't-"

"I'm with him... I mean them." Shinobu said suddenly as Mitsuru waved him over to their table.

The hostess looked at him quizzically, but smiled when she saw Mitsuru nod from his table. She led Shinobu over to their table and gestured toward the seat across from Mitsuru.

Shinobu took the seat grudgingly and handed his jacket to her as she thanked them and left the table. He would rather sit closer to Mitsuru, but this would have to do for now. A waiter took his order soon after that.

"I'm sorry. Let me introduce you. Shinobu this is Karen-san. Karen-san this is Shinobu-san." Mitsuru smiled and gestured towards his two friends respectively.

Shinobu bowed his head towards the brunette woman and apologized for the intrusion. "Nice to meet you, Karen-san. I'm sorry to interrupt. I just happened to be in the area and I thought that I would stop in."

"It's a good thing you saw us. We're sitting kind of far back." Karen said slyly as she looked over at Mitsuru. Her friend was fidgeting with his napkin, but he looked up at her comment and nodded his head. She chuckled softly. They were both clueless. How perfect.

"I thought you weren't supposed to get back until tomorrow." Mitsuru mentioned as he took another sip of his water. Was it hot in here?

Shinobu looked down at his hands. "Yes, but I finished early." /I scheduled all of my exams early. / "I wanted to get home." /I wanted to see you. I've missed you so much./

/I'm glad. It's so good to see you./ "I understand." Mitsuru said quietly.

"So, Shinobu-san, what were you studying?" Karen asked. She didn't want to watch them make eyes at each other all night. She hoped the food would be ready soon. Then she could leave them alone. She knew that Shinobu was glaring at her. She wondered why. Did he really think that she and Mitsuru were a couple? She wanted to laugh at that. He was kind of cute, but she wasn't exactly his type and he wasn't exactly hers either for that matter. She looked down at her watch nonchalantly. In fact, her type was waiting at home for her right now. She hoped that Shinobu wouldn't notice the ring she wore on her left hand. It wasn't exactly a wedding ring, but in some ways it meant more to the two of them than any wedding ring ever could. She pulled herself quickly away from that line of thought. She had to focus on the situation at hand, after all. This was important too.

"That sounds fascinating." She answered even though she had no idea what he had said.

They were all relieved when their food finally arrived. For a few minutes they ate in silence. Snippets of conversations from other tables drifted over and the waiter came by once or twice to make sure that the food was okay.

"I'm sure you two have a lot of catching up to do. Don't mind me." Karen said as she winked at Mitsuru. His eyes widened at the comment and he sipped his water again. She had to smile at that. How many glasses had he had now? Her eyes darted towards the blue-gray-haired man across from him. He was busy adjusting his napkin in his lap. She sighed. Okay, one last time. She would try to start up the conversation.

"Wow. Four years. That's a long time. You must have missed Shinobu-san very much, Mitsuru." She nudged him a little with her elbow, but he didn't seem to notice. Shinobu did though and he tightened his grip on the arm of the chair.

"Hai, Karen-san. We were good friends." Mitsuru said slowly. He was trying to find the right words. He knew those were wrong. /Not friends. Something more. So much more. /

Shinobu nodded emphatically. "Hai. Hai. Good friends." /Is that all we were?/

Karen leaned back in her chair. This was going to be a long evening.

"Excuse me, but I have to make a phone call." Shinobu said suddenly as he stood and walked away from the table.

Mitsuru took a deep breath and looked over at Karen. "So, what do you think?" He lowered his gaze and bent his head. "I don't have a chance do I?"

Karen would have laughed again, but she saw the sadness in his eyes. He really believed it. It was endearing in a way, but it also made her want to shake him. "Are you kidding? He keeps shooting me death glares. You know he thinks I'm your girlfriend."

Mitsuru's eyes widened at this revelation. "Really?" he said breathlessly as he glanced over his shoulder to make sure that Shinobu wasn't within hearing range.

"Yeah and he wishes I wasn't here so he could... well, you know..." Karen decided to leave it at that, but she couldn't help smiling again.

"He could what?" Mitsuru said.

Karen rolled her eyes. "Isn't it obvious? He cares about you very much." They would have to figure it out some time. She wasn't sure why they hadn't seen it yet.

"We're friends. Of course he does." Mitsuru answered matter of factly. He nodded firmly, but his hands were shaking a little as he clasped them in his lap.

Karen took both of his hands in her own and closed her eyes as she bent closer to give him a kiss on the cheek. "Sure. Friends. I'm going to go now. Call me tomorrow and let me know how it turns out."

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Shinobu couldn't handle much more of this. He had to get out of there. A phone call was a good excuse. He stood at the pay phone and stared at the number pad. Who was he supposed to call? There was no one else who even knew that he was in town. He replaced the receiver on the hook and leaned back against she wall. He closed his eyes and shook his head. Well, he had seen Mitsuru. There was nothing left to do. They would probably stay in touch, but there was no reason to continue this tonight. He would go back to the table and politely excuse himself. That was the right thing to do. /Then why don't I want to leave? /

Shinobu wandered back to the main dining room. He turned the corner and was greeted with the sight of Karen leaning close to Mitsuru. Did she kiss him? Shinobu wasn't sure. He felt his cheeks burning again and his vision blurred before he blinked back the sadness that filled his eyes for a moment. Now there was no doubt. He had to get out of there now.

Karen winced as she looked up. She saw the lost look in Shinobu's eyes and knew that she had caused it. She patted Mitsuru on the back and whispered one more piece of advice to him. "Tell him." She smiled hesitantly at Shinobu as she walked past him. She hoped he would understand. Maybe someday they could be friends.

Shinobu walked hurriedly to the table and fumbled for his wallet. It wasn't there in his pocket. He knew he had it earlier. He felt the tears beginning to take over again and he tried desperately to push them back. His jacket. The wallet must be in his jacket.

"Shinobu." Mitsuru said softly and put a hand on his friends shoulder. /I think I'm starting to understand./

Shinobu looked up briefly and saw the soft look in Mitsuru's eyes. He couldn't help but smile and shrug. "I'm sorry, Mitsuru."

Mitsuru shook his head and smiled back. "Please sit down. There's something I have to tell you."

Shinobu's heart beat faster as he remembered the words of the letter. He shook his head as he returned to his seat. "It's okay. I already know, Mitsuru."

The smile faded from Mitsuru's face and his lips trembled slightly. "You do?" he said breathlessly. /How could you know?/ "So what do you think?" he said softly. This wasn't going to be good. He tried to prepare himself for the blow.

Shinobu clasped his hands together nervously. "She seems great." He said flatly. He knew it wasn't much of an endorsement. She really did seem nice, but he couldn't help but be a little disappointed. /I always thought maybe you felt something for me. I guess I was wrong./

Mitsuru's eyes widened and he shook his head. "No. I don't mean her. She's just a friend." He smiled broadly. He felt relieved. Karen was right. Shinobu had jumped to conclusions. So that was why he was in such a hurry to get out of here. Mitsuru chuckled at the idea. Him and Karen. Never. She was a good friend, but he wasn't exactly her type. Guys weren't exactly her type.

Shinobu was at a loss. He raised his eyebrows in confusion. He must have missed something. What was going on?

"Let's get out of here, Shinobu. Let's go for a walk."

Shinobu nodded numbly. He was beginning to feel very lost, but this was Mitsuru and if Karen wasn't his girlfriend, then maybe...

After they paid for the dinner and got their coats, the two friends walked out into the cool night air. They walked side by side for a few steps before either of them said anything.

"So what did you want to tell me?" Shinobu said simply.

Mitsuru shook his head. "Not yet." He glanced up and down the street to make sure that there was no one around before he carefully reached out and took Shinobu's hand in his own. He leaned closer to his friend as they continued walking. His heart was still beating fast. He wasn't sure what to think. Shinobu hadn't objected yet, but he also didn't know yet.

Mitsuru led Shinobu to the nearest park bench and he gestured for him to sit down. Shadows danced across the landscape as the wind swirled around the leaves of a nearby tree. The world seemed quieter somehow than it had before. The day was winding down. Soon people would be returning home and tomorrow it would all start over again. Mitsuru was almost afraid to break the delicate cycle. He didn't want things to change. He always wanted Shinobu to be here beside him, but he knew that this was something that had to be said. His mind whirled with possibilities as he rested his head against Shinobu's shoulder and enjoyed the moment. He knew it could all fall apart in a few seconds. He just needed to capture this feeling.

/Oh gods, he's touching me. He's so warm. It feels so wonderful. I want to touch his hair. I've always wondered what it would feel like./ Shinobu tried to stay perfectly still. He didn't want to do anything to disturb this moment. Maybe he could make this last forever.

"Shinobu." Mitsuru said softly as he looked up into sincere eyes. He didn't take his hand away from his friends as he did so.

"Mitsuru, what is it?" Shinobu answered hesitantly. He was suddenly very afraid as if his entire life and future rested on this. No time had passed. It was like the first day they met. Their surroundings seemed to fade around them as they looked into each other's eyes.

Mitsuru looked down at where their hands met. The contact gave him the confidence to continue. He wasn't sure what he would do if Shinobu pulled away. /When he pulls away. This can't possibly work, but I have to say it. I want him to know. /

"Shinobu, I don't know how to tell you this." His voice cracked on the last words and he shook his head. This was harder than he thought it would be. He tried to convince himself that his world didn't rest on these few words, but he couldn't. He had waited so long to say them.

Shinobu leaned closer to his friend. He wasn't really sure what was going on. Mitsuru's hands were shaking ever so slightly. Shinobu was amazed. He had rarely seen his friend like this. This must be important. He brushed aside his own feelings of uncertainty for a moment and focused on the man beside him. Something was wrong and Shinobu only wanted to make it better. He wanted to let Mitsuru know that he was there for him no matter what. He pulled his hand away from Mitsuru for a moment and brought his arm up around Mitsuru's shoulder to pull his friend closer to him. He brought his other hand over to Mitsuru's and placed in on top of his comfortingly. He bit his lip as he felt Mitsuru lean into his embrace. They both sat there in silence for a few more minutes.

Mitsuru felt Shinobu's warm breath on his neck and decided to continue. "I've always had a hard time explaining this to myself so I'm not sure if I can do it very well, but here goes..."

Mitsuru took a deep breath as Shinobu squeezed his hand gently. "Go ahead." He said breathlessly.

So much was riding on these next few words. Mitsuru smiled and closed his eyes as the words came to him. He'd wanted to say them for so long. "We always have such a good time when we're together, Shinobu. I am always happiest when I'm with you. Sometimes I want you to stay with me forever. Sometimes I want to hold your hand. Sometimes I want to kiss you. I always want you closer than you are. I think I'm in love with you, Shinobu. I think I always have been."

The words hung in the silence between them and seemed to echo. Mitsuru bit his lip. Maybe this was a mistake. /What was I really expecting? A happy ending?/ He shook his head as he felt tears well up in his eyes again. Things would never be the same. He pulled away from Shinobu's embrace and sat up to face him on the park bench.

Shinobu let go reluctantly, but he continued to stare at his best friend. He didn't know what to say. His voice didn't seem to be working anymore. He saw the pain on Mitsuru's face and he knew that there was no reason for it to be there, but he couldn't figure out how to stop it. One glistening tear traced its way down Mitsuru's cheek and Shinobu lifted his hand to brush it away shakily. He let his hand rest there a few more seconds than he needed to before he pulled it away. He shook his head. He was thinking too much. If he waited too long, the sadness would stay in those violet eyes and there would be no way to erase it.

Shinobu leaned closer to his friend. He wasn't sure how to say this in words. Maybe he didn't need to. He lifted his hand and brushed away golden bangs as he pressed his lips against his friend's mouth. The sensation was more than he could have imagined. He leaned closer as he felt Mitsuru relax into the kiss. They both needed this so much.

Shinobu brought his hands up to Mitsuru's shoulders as he tilted his head a little and felt the warmth of Mitsuru's lips against his. He closed his eyes and held onto the one person he loved more than anyone else in the world. He broke the kiss reluctantly and leaned his head on Mitsuru's shoulder.

After a few shaky breaths, he lifted his head and stared intently into violet eyes. They were glistening with unshed tears, but they sparkled with joy. A small smile graced Mitsuru's lips and a delicate blush gave a soft pink hue to his cheeks. Shinobu carefully lifted his hand to caress Mitsuru's cheek. His skin was so soft and warm. Mitsuru closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. Then he leaned forward and kissed Shinobu gently on the lips. Shinobu welcomed the gesture and held Mitsuru close as they kissed again. Lips touched lips and they explored sensations that they had never before experienced. There was a sweetness that could not be explained in words. It came of fulfillment and tenderness wrapped in hesitation.

Shinobu slid one hand up to rest in Mitsuru's hair and he gasped as he felt the soft feel of Mitsuru's hair between his fingers. It was a gorgeous experience. He stroked the golden blondness as he continued to move his lips against his friend's. Mitsuru moaned softly as Shinobu pulled away. Shinobu smiled and kept one hand placed securely on Mitsuru's shoulder. "I never knew for sure, Mitsuru. I'm so glad you let me know." Shinobu hesitated for a moment as he searched for what to say next. He bent his head and glanced down at where their hands met before he looked up into violet eyes and continued. "I think I love you too."

Mitsuru looked up at him questioningly. His voice shook slightly. "How will we know for sure?"

"I think we just will. We don't have to think about that now." Shinobu answered.

Mitsuru nodded and grasped Shinobu's hand tightly as they stood to go. The stars sparkled in the evening sky as the two young men made their way together along the path away from the park. It was moments like these that would stay with them for all time. For now, they leaned closer to each other and hoped that this would never end.

~Owari~

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