I awaken this morning way too early, and to music. Five in the morning, I make my way to the living room and find Brian awake. I let out a deep yawn. "Couldn't sleep?" I ask him, petting a half awake Gus. He nods. "Yeah. With my nose all plugged him, it was getting tough to breathe." he says, pausing his music. I sit next to him and kiss him. Observing his minimal conversations on Facebook.

I yawn again and get up. "Coffee?" I ask. "Yes, please." he says, starting up the music again. A rather melancholy-ish song from an old Japanese super hero series, one I've been fond of since he first brought it to my attention. When I come back, I notice him mouthing the words silently. And stifle a giggle. "You know," I start, "you haven't sung for me in so long."

He chuckles softly. "Alright, then. Any requests?" he inquires. There was no better choice I had in my mind. I do a search on Youtube for a specific song from the Kamen Rider series. For a casual sort of thing, he's really not half bad. And I love how he enunciates his Japanese, much better than I could ever manage.

At some point, we fall asleep in each others arms. He stirs after a few hours, and wakes me up. As I'm making breakfast and he's doing the dishes, he talks about a rather... interesting dream he had after waking up this morning. I try to make sense of it and come up with nothing.

After breakfast, we start up on plenty of two-player games. Any game with a sort of "friendly fire" feature, we got a little reckless with. After awhile, we were deliberately beating each other up for the sheer fun of it. By lunch time, I get a call from Carol and put her on speaker phone.

"Hi, lovelies!" she says with her beautiful accent. "Yo." Brian says softly, stifling a yawn. "What's up, C?" I say. "The arrangements for the party have more or less been made, just ironing out some more details." she says. "Sounds good." I say. "I just need to get in touch with my girls and guys, I'll keep you posted." I respond.

"I think the only tough part would be the music." she says. "Emily and I are still deciding on a sufficient playlist." This catches Brian's attention. "Actually," he starts, "you mind if I assist with that? I keep a lot of my favorites on my laptop and PSP." "That's cool." she says. "Stop by the dojo early, I wish to set this up as quickly as possible."

After some small talk and planning, we're off the phone. I start with the mass texting and hope for the best. As luck would have it, the majority of my guys and gals can attend, including one surprise person I have for Brian.

We kill some time with a few games of Magic. I glance at the clock, close to 5:30. "Love, we should wrap this up and start getting ready." I say. He downs his Coke Zero and grabs my hand with a playful smile. We don't even bother clearing the table of our splayed Magic cards.

After a quick shower, we get dressed. I arrange for Gus' sitter while Brian packs up Deathscythe and his PSP. "I need a flash drive and a male-to-female USB cord." he says, adjusting his back pack. I look around my work area, finding the items in question and attaching them to a carbine hook on his belt.

"We good?" I ask. He nods. "Solid. I think we can mosey now." "Damn! Again!" I say. Starting to recite, or at least paraphrase, one of my favorite quotes from Final Fantasy 7. "Stop saying it like a wimp! Can't you say 'move out!' or something?!" I shout. He honestly mimics the hand motions Cloud makes by this point. "Move out!" he shouts. We both have a good laugh over this.

We hit the dojo in record time, and see plenty of new faces. Mostly Carol's friends, a few of Emma's from school. Well, minus one in a sense. One face familiar to Brian. An old friend of his that attends University with Emma. They stare each other down awhile before hugging.

"Carmen, it's been way too long." he says, smiling slightly. "Indeed it has, nii-san. I trust you've been well?" she says with a slight bow. He shrugs. "As well as I can be, all things considered." He gestures towards me. "This is Karli, or storybook girl as you called her way back when." I give her a polite nod. "A pleasure." She smiles at me. "Same. I must admit, it's an honor to actually meet you." she says.

Brian taps my shoulder. "I'm gonna get to work with Carol and Emma, excuse me." he says, glancing back and forth between us. "Okie dokie, I'll be around." I say. He takes his leave, and I get to talking with Carmen. Rather soft spoken young woman, but she's sweet. Despite them not talking in years, for one reason or another, she seems to respect him quite a bit. My intuition tells me that she's certainly one of the good ones.

I do the whole meet and greet with some people, many coming and going. Little by little, I see some more familiar faces to me. A few of my boys, looking quite dashing. All the girls, plus one more. I quickly pull this one aside, hopefully out of Brian's field of vision.

"Maiko-san!" I squeal, hugging her tight. She gives an endearing smile. "Oof! Nice to see you too, girl! How's things?" I begin explaining everything that has gone on the past few days, her surprise quite evident. "So he's here? Now? In the flesh?!" she asks, I give a vigorous nod. "Over there, by the two laptops." I say, pointing in the direction. She darts over toward him and I follow.

"Echo?!" she gasps, startling Brian. Carol and Emma glance over in confusion. His eyes go wide. "Nee-san?! No way!" They both exchange hugs and kisses. "My my, you're all grown up now." Maiko says, smiling fondly. "It's nice to finally meet you, after all these years." Brian glances at me with a smirk. "You did this, huh?" he asks. I wink at him. "To make up for the last time you two failed to meet, so to speak." I say.

The two excuse themselves, and I take over Brian's task over the music. I see plenty of good stuff, quite a bit pertaining to our childhood. That doesn't surprise me. Naturally, I had to ensure a few choice songs found their way on the master playlist.

Little by little, people are bringing in food and booze. Not exactly an elegant display of catering, but it works. Tons of pizza, sandwiches and take-out type things. I grab half a meatball sub and start looking for Brian. After finding he's occupied with some of Carol's friends, I figured I'd leave him alone. I start looking for a place to sit when Emma gets my attention. I hurry to her and take a seat.

"For something pretty much last minute, I'm amazed with this turn out." I tell her, taking a bite of my sandwich. "You and me both, I wasn't expecting such a favorable outcome. At least, in terms of what Carol would want." she says back, drinking some sort of dark liquor. "Where's your boy toy?" she asks. "He's around, being surprisingly socialable." I say, looking through the crowd of people.

"Surprising indeed, he always struck me as the quiet type. The few times we were on the phone, I usually did the talking." she says with a grin. I chuckle softly. "He usually is. Even around me, he's still a little quiet. It's just a matter of getting him out of his shell." She smiles. "So long as he's having fun. He's a little too serious otherwise." I nod in agreement, the music of Natalie Imbruglia now filling the air.

A few people start dancing, most others still off to the side and talking. Carol mingles with the crowd, talking and laughing. I go over to find Brian manning the laptops by his lonesome, drinking what I can only imagine to be vodka. He pulls up a seat for me, and I oblige him.

"Having fun?" I ask him, taking a sip of his drink. He nods. "This is the first time I've ever been to a real party. One that didn't involve family, anyway. This is quite nice." he says, smiling shyly. I kiss his cheek. "When a certain song plays, and you'll know it, we're gonna slow dance. You and me." I tell him with a mischievous grin. He raises an eyebrow. "I was downright pitiful at the club, what makes you think I can manage this?" he asks hesitantly.

I poke his ribs gently. "It's easy, really." I tell him, bringing one of his hands to my hip and clasping the other. "We hold this position and move with the song. You're good with kata, so I think you can do this." Before he can speak, I add in, "And besides, I would love to have a romantic moment with you." He looks at me a moment before agreeing.

Much to my surprise, some Vocaloid music starts playing. No one pays much mind to the lack of English lyrics and enjoy the music. A bit fast paced with a nice beat. "What song is this? Seems familiar." I say, trying to place it. "Meltdown. I grew fond of this song quite easily, a real b***h to find though." he says. I smirk at him. "Your patience seems to net you these hard to find... items. Things. Whatever." "Stuff?" he asks, smirking back. "Yes. Stuff."

The next few hours go pretty nicely. No one getting too rowdy or anything. I chill with Steph and Amy while Brian is off doing his own thing. I eventually find my way back to him, sticking close. We talked to the others now and then, and I think he liked showing me off. whee

I follow him out for a cigarette, huddled close for warmth. In a daring attempt to be cute, I take his cigarette. I light it and take a puff before passing it back to him, and come to regret the slight coughing fit resulting from this. He laughs at this and starts trolling me. We have a little back and forth before he eventually wins this battle of wits. xd

When we head back inside, a familiar tune is starting. Finally! I grab his hand and we speed walk to the dance floor. We take our positions, the only one's even dancing at this point in time. He starts a little awkwardly before getting into the swing of things.

I smile up at him as our song is playing. "I had a feeling you'd opt for an Aqua song." I tell him softly. His grip as gentle as his eyes, he says, "I figured it was only fitting." I bite my lip and look down, my heart racing. And my mind going a mile a minute. "Look, Brian. There's something I feel the need to say." I tell him, almost quiet. His expression suddenly grows serious. "I was almost afraid of this..."

I look into his eyes. "I love you, I honestly do. I know well enough you feel the same. Perhaps we should be a couple again." I tell him. He shakes his head. "I didn't wish for things to get this complicated. I really don't think this wise." I tighten my grip on him. "You once told me, do what I feel is right. Well, I'm doing it. Correctly, this time." He flinches, either from my nails digging into this hips or the memory that must bring up.

"And if it somehow doesn't work?" he asks, mildly irritated. "I have a reason for certain things, you always knew and understood this. Why rock the boat?" I pull him closer, trying to keep him calm. "I had a change of heart." I tell him, trying to find the right words to explain. And truthfully, I have nothing. It's not often I'm left speechless, by my own accord or no.

I can't tell what he's thinking at that point, and that worries me. We finish the dance in silence. Figuring I embarrassed myself enough, I thought maybe to retreat to the girls. Instead, he lifts me in his arms and takes me outside. No one the wiser, I could hear people talking about how cute we look.

Once outside, he sets me down. The look on his face definitely implies he regrets such a bold move. "You pulled your back, didn't you?" I ask with some concern. "As much as I've always wanted to do that, I realize my body just can't handle that." He laughs weakly. I rub his lower back as he lights a cigarette.

"I was concerned over this happening." he says. "Trying to distance myself from you is impossible. But understand, this isn't easy for me to come to terms with." I nod slightly. "It was an inevitability I also struggled with at first. But with everything that's gone on, this just feels so right." I tell him, trying not to feel so damn pathetic. "I dunno, maybe I'm just getting too caught up in the moment." I say, wondering about that theory now.

He pulls me close and I snuggle against him. "Hey, watch the hair." I remind him, inching away from his cigarette hand slightly. I bury my face in his chest and try to ignore the cold. He's silent for a long while. After flicking his cigarette, he holds me tight. "The long distance won't bother you?" he asks. "I can't exactly visit on a regular basis. And if I do move here, it might not be for awhile. If at all." I look up at him. "Did the distance even affect things at all before? And you'll visit when you can, I'm sure." I tell him.

He kisses my forehead. "Alright, let's give it one more try. But, I wanna keep this on the down-low. I don't get why, but so many people would seem interested in our personal lives." he says quietly. I chuckle softly. "Everyone enjoys a good love story. I guess. Let's head back in, I'm freezing my butt off."

We head back in and grab a drink. God knows I need one. Kinda nice to see a bottle of Disaronno, haven't had that in ages. I poke at Brian. "Hey. You ever try this?" I ask. He pours himself a glass. "About two or three years ago. My cousin and I polished off a bottle at another cousin's sweet 16 party." he says. I raise an eyebrow. "Geez... you two get sloshed from all that?" I ask. He smirks. "Oh, yeah. The best part? I planned on cutting out early from the start. Had a fun time looking for a train back to Queens like that." I shake my head. "Alchy..."

We head over to Carol and Emma with some difficulty. Carol smiles at us. "What was that earlier? You two looked so adorable!" she says. Brian speaks before I could. "Ironically? Us having a serious discussion." Emma tilts her head. "Say what?" I take a deep breath. "Guy's, we wanna keep this as quiet as possible. We have our reasons. But we're a couple again." Their eyes go wide. Everyone is silent for a few seconds. "Well, about ******** time." Emma says, smiling. Carol gives me a hug. "I concur. I said it before, you two compliment each other well."

We sneak away to the office, with Carol's permission. With a few sandwiches and a gallon of water, we decide to have some alone time. "The more I think about it, the more I wonder if there's any point in heading back home." he says, taking a bite of some vegetable sandwich. I look at him. "Friends. Family. A stable job." I tell him. "Don't consider those factors to hold you back, you have a life there still." He scoffs at me. "I hardly call that living, to tell you the truth. I'm just going through motions and mediocrity." he says. "I'd honestly stay if I could." I lean over to kiss his forehead. "I know you would."

We're back to the party half an hour before the ball drops. Brian heads out for a cigarette and I go to seek out Maiko. We start catching up on things, she tells me of her latest bit of traveling. She always has interesting stories to tell. smile

The ball drops, so to speak, and everyone cheers and celebrates in their own way. I hug all my girls and guys. Brian manages to give me the slip, I didn't even see him leave. Went out for a smoke, naturally. I catch up with him and stick my tongue out at him. "I'm still debating if I can call you Mr. Anti-Social or not right now." I say teasingly. He shrugs. "I never make a big deal about this stuff, and I always had an odd tradition of having a smoke at the birth of the New Year." he says. I give him a deep kiss, not caring about the cigarette taste in his mouth. He returns the kiss, taking extra care not to singe my hair or anything. "I'll meet you back inside, weirdo. Coldness out here and all." I say with a wink.

We stick around for another half hour before saying our good byes and heading home. I fetch Gus while Brian let's himself in the apartment, flopped over half asleep with Deathscythe. I sit next to him while Gus is snuggled against his leg. "Dude, you look wiped." I say, kissing his cheek. "I just need a few more minutes, and I'll go crash." he responds, stifling a yawn. "Alright. I'll wait up for you." I say, patting his shoulder. I get up and tend to my computer, his "few minutes" being an hour. xd

Eventually we're both in bed. Our energy basically tapped out, we snuggle for half an hour before finally conking out for the night. heart