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Cardboard Bridges 6/?
Uta no Prince-sama, Jinguji Ren/Hijirikawa Masato, PG-13


Masato startles awake at the strident, ear-splitting crack of thunder, eyes snapping open to a mantle of darkness. A blinding radiance from what he presumes is lightning pierces through the window, casting strange shadows on the wall for a fleeting moment then he is encased into a crepuscular stillness once more.

The couch creaks underneath him when he sits up, thinking how strange it is that the lights are out when he remembers leaving it on since he was reading a book before dozing off. Only when he looks out the window did he realize that a tempest seems to be building up which can only mean that there may be a power outage.

With outstretched arms, he feels his way around hoping that the rechargeable lamps he's seen on the table near the living room entrée are still there.

His hand comes in contact with a familiar shape so he takes a firm hold of it while his fingers feel for the switch. Soon, the small corner of the room where he's standing is bathed in a phosphorescent glow.

Masato takes two lamps upstairs with the intention of leaving one with Ren, its radiance stretching over the wall where an old clock hangs quietly, showing that it's half an hour past midnight. Has he been asleep that long? The last thing he can recall is checking up on Ren at a quarter before nine.

When he ambles into Ren's room, he finds the bed empty. Presuming that he's gone to maybe take a leak, Masato leaves one of the lamps on top of the bureau and calls out, "Jinguji?" across the hallway, but all he hears in return is the sound of his own voice bouncing off the walls. Meticulous as he is, he checks the bathroom but finds no sign of Ren.

"Jinguji, where are you?" He tries again but the only response he gets is the howling of the wind.

On his way back downstairs, he hears the telltale sound of a door opening and as soon as he reaches the bottom step, he notices that the front door is left ajar.

Curious, he peers outside and, through the dimness, he thinks he sees a silhouette running towards the lake.

Fearing that it may be Ren, he trails after the figure, ignoring the sudden downpour of the rain.

"Jinguji!" he hollers but his voice is carried away by whistling gust that sweeps past him and nearly knocks him off balance.

The figure disappears beyond the slope where Ren had fallen earlier.

When Masato reaches the edge of the elevated terrain, he surveys the ground that descends down to the lake but the rain prevents the lamp's glow from stretching through the pitch-dark surroundings. Slowly, he trudges down the least steep part of the slope and when he reaches the shore, lightning slices through the caliginous clouds bright enough for him to see the pair of footsteps leading into the water.

No, please, no. "JingujiI"

There's no sign of life in the immediate area. Struck with a blinding fear that Ren may have been swallowed by the stygian pool, Masato is propelled to burst into action. Without thinking, he sets the lamp on a rock, slips his shoes and jacket off then plunges into the lake. The chill instantly bites into his skin and it feels as if his blood is turning to ice.

Just when he starts to sense that the air left in his lungs is close to freezing point that he wants nothing else but to kick to the surface, he catches sight of an indistinct shape. Masato wills his arms and legs to move and when he's at a considerable distance, he can distinguish the long blonde hair undulating in the murky water.


It's a strenuous effort to reach his friend but Masato perseveres with stubborn determination. When close enough, he stretches his arms but before his fingers can touch Ren's shoulder, something that resembles foamy tentacles coil around Ren's body and he is dragged farther to the deep ends of the lake.

"NO!" Light pierces through his cornea as soon as Masato's eyes snap open so he squints against the brightness. His heart's racing. The room seems to be spinning off its axis.

"Hijirikawa." The firm enunciation of his name shakes him out of his befuddled thoughts and his eyes flit over to Ren who is watching him with concern clearly written on his face.

"Jinguji." He flings his arms over Ren's shoulders, his hold tightening as relief floods him, realizing that the disturbing scenario has been nothing but a dream.

Masato feels Ren's arms circle around his torso, lips pressed against the side of his head. "I heard you moaning and mumbling and then I saw you thrashing, figured you were having a bad dream. I've been trying to wake you up but couldn't. You scared me, Masa."

He loosens his hold and pulls back so he can look at Ren but keeps his arms curled over Ren's shoulders. "I…" he starts, thinking how real the dream felt that he's actually still trembling inside, how scared he'd been watching Ren drift away to a place where he most likely can't follow. And. "I just." The weight in his chest grows heavier. "It felt so real, I… I thought I'd lost you."

Ren cups the side of his face, thumb stroking his cheekbone, and in a dulcet, pacifying tone, he says, "I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere," then closes the gap between them until Masato feels Ren's lips on his.

The urge to push Ren away doesn't surface. Instead, Masato curls his fingers around soft, silky tresses, parts his lips in response to the tongue prodding for entrance and just melts into Ren.

When they pull back, their foreheads remain pressed together, Ren's thumb tracing his lower lip. "I love you," Ren says softly, almost in a whisper.

Masato lays a hand on Ren's cheek to keep their gazes locked, the doubt that's been clouding his judgment is dispelled by the sincerity pooling on Ren's eyes. And as if a dam in his chest breaks open, Masato is flooded with emotions that can only sum up to one thing. "I love you, too."

Their lips meet again, but only for a heartbeat this time because Ren's the first one to break the contact, says, "Shit, I forgot. I was making breakfast," and that's when Masato picks up the scent of something burning.

He watches Ren rush out of the living room and disappears at the hallway then leans back on the couch with his head tilted up, takes a deep breath and decides to contemplate about their situation later. Right now, he'll have to see how he can help salvage their morning meal.


Perhaps it's a little premature for him to be on cloud nine, but Ren can't tamp down the elation that's bubbling in his chest. He's still tiptoeing on skepticism, still thinking there's a probability that Masato may have been too caught up with being comforted after having a bad dream so he has blurted out those three words that Ren so wants to hear without thinking. But.

Having Masato in close proximity in such a domestic setting is enough to send his heart skyrocketing. It's a good thing the oven is wide enough for them to fit that they can cook at the same time. And Masato doesn't seem to mind that Ren's standing too close to him either. So yeah, Ren can't be blamed for feeling like a school girl with her crush.

"You seem to be in high spirits," Masato says, giving him a side glance, an amused smile gracing his lips.

"Hmm?" Ren regards Masato with a raised eyebrow. "What makes you think so?"

"You've been whistling all this time." Masato arranges the tamagoyaki on a plate with such grace that Ren just finds beautiful like the rest of him. Then sapphire eyes holds Ren in place, gifting him with a gaze tender enough to melt the shards of doubt that is left in his mind.

Ren leans closer, says, "I'm just happy you're here with me, is that so wrong?" then decides to test the waters and plants a chaste kiss on Masato's lips.

Masato shows no sign of reluctance or awkwardness, just keeps a neutral expression when he says, "You're going to burn the bacon again." And then he takes the initiative this time and gives Ren a peck on his lips. "I'll go set the table. Hurry up, I'm famished."

Something unfurls in Ren's chest and it takes great effort for him not to jump up and pump his fist in the air.

Breakfast is spent in relative silence while they play footsie, or more like Ren's the one doing the flirting and Masato occasionally throws him a threatening glare. But that's not enough to stop Ren from slipping his foot into Masato's pant leg until the blue-haired man kicks him on the shin.

"Ow," he yelps and yanks his leg back. "That hurts. You're going to have to kiss that later to make it better."

"I have a better idea." Masato sets his chopsticks on his plate. "Why don't I just pack up and leave you here high and dry."

"You wouldn't do that." Ren can tell his teasing is close to pissing Masato off to a dangerous degree.

"Try me," Masato says with his trademark I-dare-you-to-dare-me look that has Ren backing off.

"Alright, alright," he says with his arms raised in surrender. "I'm sorry, I can't help it. You're just too cute." The reward he gets for that fond remark is the pretty sight of a blush spreading over Masato's cheeks.

They clear up the table once they're done and Ren claims the task of washing the dishes while Masato dries them. Then Ren invites him for a walk by the lake shore. When they step out of the cottage, a hint of confusion crosses Masato's face as he says, "The ground is dry. I thought it was raining last night," which baffles Ren as well.

"No it wasn't. Not that I remember hearing it." Ren figures whatever it was that Masato had dreamed of most likely involved rain because he's pretty sure it was pretty quiet and still when he woke up to go to the bathroom after midnight.

Masato shrugs then marches down the pebbled pathway and when Ren catches up to him, he throws a prayer to whoever deity is listening before sliding his hand into Masato's. His prayer seems to have been heeded when Masato doesn't pull away, even gives Ren's hand a reassuring squeeze.

They haven't gone far when Ren's ears pick up the sound of a violin. For a moment, he feels as if they're back in the dorms and they're listening to Syo pour his feelings through the melody he creates with the strings.

"That's beautiful and flawless." Masato drifts towards the source of the sound while dragging Ren along with him. The music gets louder the closer they get to the nearest neighbor and when Ren gets a clear view of the cottage's porch, he spies a shock of sky blue hair.

"Tsukimori Len," he says. "Haven't seen him in years."

Masato ceases walking and tilts his head to peer at Ren. "You know who he is?"

"Not personally, no." Ren cannot remember a time when Tsukimori has spoken more than three words to him since the man is stiffer and more indifferent than Masato so he can't really claim that Tsukimori is more than a distant acquaintance. "I've seen him around a handful of times since we're neighbors. But I don't come here often, not in the last few years."

A man jogging their way steals Ren's attention. Ren expects Masato to yank his hand off of Ren's so he's taken by surprise when Masato doesn't let go. Still, Ren raises his guard up since this man – who he notices has olive green hair and broad shoulders – doesn't look familiar.

"Morning," the man says when he's just a few strides away then makes a full stop right in front of them. His lips stretches into a genial smile that doesn't look all too suspicious. "You must be Jinguji Ren. Len told me you were neighbors."

Ren steals a glance over to the violinist who is still engaged with the piece he's playing. "You know Tsukimori Len?"

"Yeah. I'm his husband." The man holds out his hand then and says, "Name's Tsuchiura Ryotarou."

"Husband, huh?" Ren offers his right hand for a handshake but keeps his left curled around Masato's. He's tempted to introduce Masato as his boyfriend, but he remembers the kick he's been given earlier and doesn't want to risk having Masato's foot collide against any part of his body at the moment so he drops the idea of using labels and says, "This is Hijirikawa Masato," instead. This Tsuchiura guy probably gets the clue since they're still holding hands anyway. "So when did you guys get married?"

"Just a couple of days ago." Tsuchiura waves over to the direction where Tsukimori is, prompting Ren to turn his head in time to see the violinist wave back then bends forward in a courteous bow before laying a hand on his stomach. Only then does Ren notice the small bump that isn't exactly protruding but noticeable at a certain angle.

"Is he expecting?" Ren asks, hoping that he doesn't sound too nosy.

"Yep. Four months along the way," Ryotarou says and he's visibly beaming with pride. "I better go, gotta wait on the hubby hand and foot.'

"See ya around." Ren watches Tsuchiura trot over to his husband then he feels the sting of envy when Tsuchiura plants a kiss on Tsukimori's cheek and cups the baby bump with his hand.

They're strolling along the edge of the lake when Ren asks, "Do you ever wonder who you'll end up marrying?"

The grasp Masato has on his hand tightens for a moment. "I don't because I already know who I'm marrying. My father made the arrangement when I was twelve, remember?

Ren jerks to a stop, forcing Masato to a standstill in the process. A dull ache blooms in his chest. "You're still going to marry her? I thought… I thought you want to find a way out."

Masato releases a hollow, exasperated sigh when he says, "No, I don't want to marry her," and then closes the distance between them until the tips of their shoes are touching. He takes Ren's other hand, his palm colder now, and he looks gravely serious when he utters, "Not when I have you."

"I'm not letting you go. Not anymore." Ren clenches his hands around Masato's. "I won't let your father take you from me." And there'll be hell to pay if Hijirikawa Masaomi even tries.


The idea of sleeping in the same room with Ren shouldn't be a big deal considering that they've been roommates since the Academy. So Masato can't understand why there's this nervous-excited-scared feeling churning in the pit of his stomach while watching Ren prepare the bed for them.

Maybe it's the thought of sleeping on the same bed with Ren that he finds disconcerting.

Ren climbs on top of the mattress and props up on his elbow, lying there on his side with a lopsided smile looking like a Greek god of seduction. Then he pats the spot beside him, says, "Come here, Masa, I don't bite," in a ridiculously melisonant tone that has Masato rolling his eyes before sauntering over to the source of his agitation.

"Don't you think we're moving inappropriately fast?" Masato sits on the edge of the bed with a conscious effort to keep a healthy gap between him and Ren. "We haven't exactly talked about this – whatever we have – yet."

Cold fingers coil around his wrist, thumb caressing his pulse point. "We're not doing anything you don't want, Hijirikawa – I mean Masa – and I'm not that inconsiderate to force you to do something you're not ready for." Masato is coaxed to slide further onto the mattress with a gentle tug. "We're just going to sleep. Will cuddling be inappropriate for you?"

"No. Cuddling is fine." Masato allows Ren to wrap an arm around him and press up against his side. His ears are filled with nothing but the sound of his heartbeat. "Jinguji—"

"Ren," is breathed against Masato's ear which makes his hackles rise as a consequence.


"Call me Ren, Masayan. You used to when we were younger." Ren's arm constricts around his middle, his face burrowing into his hair.

Masato clears his throat. "Ren," he starts, hoping that a more focused and straightforward discussion can distract him from feeling like a virgin on his wedding night. Well, the virgin part is true, but Ren doesn't need to know that right now. "This may sound inane, but does this mean we're in a relationship?"

Ren's head snaps off of his shoulder and Masato mentally cowers when he's met with a dubious look. "I certainly hope so," Ren says, voice a pitch higher. "Or was I wrong to think that our feelings are mutual?"

"It is." With his thumb, Masato smoothens out the lines of incredulity that has formed on Ren's forehead. "I just wanted to be sure we're on the same page."

"Good." Ren snuggles back into him while Masato relaxes into his embrace, noticing how he fits perfectly in Ren's arms.

There's one other thing to worry about though and instead of just reflecting on it, Masato's thoughts are strung into words that relentlessly jump out of his mouth. "Are we going to tell the others?"

The response he gets is a quiet sigh. Then Ren is saying, "I don't like the idea of keeping our relationship a secret, at least from those who matters, like our friends. But…."

"There's still the possibility it can backfire on us," Masato says in full comprehension of how complicated their situation is in reality. "And the repercussions may cause us our careers as idols, something we've both worked so hard for."

"Yeah." Ren seems to have fallen into a contemplative silence. Masato can almost hear the chaos going through his head.

"Perhaps the wisest thing to do right now is to keep it between ourselves." What Masato fears the most is if word gets out about their relationship and somehow reaches his father, he may go through any lengths to destroy them… to destroy Ren. And that is something Masao definitely wants to avoid.

Ren hums, says, "Why don't we just let fate decide for us?" and plants a kiss on Masato's cheek. "Go to sleep. Oyasumi."

"Oyasumi." Masato shifts until he's facing Ren then snakes an arm around Ren's middle and presses his face against Ren's chest, inhaling the musky masculine scent that eventually lulls him to sleep.


Brilliant sunrays try to pry his eyes open but Ren resists with a stubborn proclivity to crawl back to snooze paradise. It's his instinct detecting the absence of a warm body beside him that flips his sleep-wake switch and has him hustling out of bed with a resolute mission to find his boyfriend.

Boyfriend. Hardly a word he expects to roll around his head with a pleasant ring and a lovely image to go along with it.

When his nose picks up the mouthwatering aroma wafting through the hallway, he makes a beeline towards the kitchen and he's nearly shaken out of his self-control when he's greeted with the sight of Masato wearing a very short pair of running shorts, a loose-fitting blue and white hoodie all hidden under a frilly apron.

Ren immediately imagines a naked Shining Saotome dancing around the dorms and it works like magic in keeping his erection at bay.

Masato then looks over his shoulder, says, "Good morning. You're just in time for breakfast," then takes the tray filled with a variety of Japanese and Western dishes to the table.

After eating, Ren sends Masato to their bedroom to retrieve his phone while he does the dishes and clears the kitchen. And he's drying a plate when Masato ambles in with a frown marring his face, eyes fixed on his own phone, Ren's phone is in the circle of his other hand hanging loosely by his side.

"What's wrong?" Ren asks as he slides the last plate in the rack inside the cabinet.

"I got a bunch of messages from the others," Masato says then starts gnawing on his lower lip. "Shining, too. He's asking us to return right away." He hands Ren his phone. "You should check your messages. I heard your phone beeping when I stepped into the room."

Ren did as told and he feels his world stops rotating altogether as soon as he sees the message from the President.

Masato sounds frighteningly indifferent when he says, "Apparently, the woman you met presumably when we were in Shiojiri took snapshots of you with your face buried in her neck so she's claiming that you were… in her own word… smooching… and that you slept together afterwards."

"Masayan," he says, reaching out for Masato's arm but his boyfriend jerks out of the way and takes a step back, watching Ren as if he has just committed the most horrific crime. "It's not true. I was drunk, yes, but I was aware of what was happening and… well, we did kiss and she may have given me a hickey, but…." There was no emotion playing on Masato's face, nothing that Ren can easily read. "You have to believe me. Nothing happened."

Masato's shoulders rise and fall as he sighs. "Doesn't matter. I'm going to pack up. We have to leave early. It's a long drive back to the dorms."

"You are coming back with me, right?" Ren just has to make sure because Masato seems hell-bent on running away before.

"I did say we're driving back to the dorms, didn't I?" With that, Masato marches off to head back up the stairs.

"Fuck!" His temper drives him to kick a chair and sends it flying across the kitchen.

Ren's not totally concerned about the rumor. Shining and his people work wonders in doing damage control. His bigger worry is how this may affect his relationship with Masato.

Great. Just fucking great! Only on their second day as boyfriends and he already fucks up big time.


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