Picking up the Pieces


Chapter Six


He didn’t have enough familiarity to touch Saruhiko with any confidence, but Yata figured his enthusiasm made up for it. He’d definitely torn loose a few of the buttons on that dress shirt, but it didn’t particularly bother either of them when they were grappling on the bed, skin pressing against skin, breathing quick and harsh and desperate.

Saruhiko knew how to touch him, though, because Yata was a hot quivering mess by the time his challenge was met and he was spread out on his back while his oldest friend pressed into him with almost agonizing slowness.

It hurt, but in his aroused state, the soreness felt oddly satisfying. His body seemed to know better than he did how to respond, muscles loosening and breathing deepening automatically as Saruhiko slid inside.

It actually does feel really good…

He was still gazing up through half-lidded eyes when Saruhiko paused, letting out a long breath. His face was as flushed as Yata’s felt, and the look in his eyes was almost desperate. It was a pretty wanton expression, and Yata’s cock gave a little twitch just looking at it. Fuck, he’s so sexy…

“Feels good,” Saruhiko said breathily, unconsciously kind of echoing his earlier thoughts. His fingers tightened on the inside of Yata’s thigh. “Being inside you like this, Misaki…”

Somewhere outside of the fog of arousal that seemed to have settled over his head, Yata had the impression he might’ve been embarrassed to hear something like that. Maybe.Saruhiko,” he managed, and then sucked in a sharp breath as his partner started to move. “Fuck…”

Saruhiko made a little sound, something like a mix between a purr and a whimper, still gazing down at him as he thrust into Yata’s body at a steady, measured pace. One of his hands groped lightly over his partner’s erection, slender fingers running up the shaft and skimming over the head, slick with a mix of lube and pre-cum.

Yata panted, fingers clenching in the sheets. That light touch wasn’t enough, but it felt right for the moment. His whole body was tense and trembling, almost like it was anticipating something his mind hadn’t quite caught on to. Something about the angle this time… it was like there was a – a thing… he could almost…

One of Saruhiko’s thrusts hit against something inside him then, and Yata cried out, back arching involuntarily, because hell, that felt fucking incredible. “Saru…” The name fell off his lips as a moan when that spot was struck again; pleasure thrummed all the way through him like some massive wave, and his hands tightened into fists against the bed, toes curling over his lover’s shoulders.

“Ah, there,” Saruhiko murmured, his face and upper body a hazy blur against the rush of sensation clouding everything in Yata’s world. His fingers closed more firmly, stroking in time with the pace of his thrusts, adding a new layer of slippery, hot friction on top of everything else.

Shit, this feels too fucking good… Yata pressed his head back hard against the bed, too far gone to care about the whimpers and moans and random swears coming out of his mouth as spikes of shuddering pleasure wracked his body. Tension and heat and ecstasy were coiling together into a hard loop in his belly, and he was seriously going to lose it. Any second now, he’d be flying apart.

Saruhiko was coming back into focus, and Yata suddenly wanted to watch him all the way through this. His cheeks were still flushed, eyes hot and intense, and there was an unmistakeable tension in his body. His thrusts had becoming harder, rougher and more erratic, making it clear his control had slipped. The hand that was not frantically jerking Yata off was clenched on his thigh so tightly that his fingers were trembling.

Misaki,” he groaned, catching Yata’s gaze, and the resulting jolt of arousal that spiked out through Yata’s body at that was enough to push him over the edge.

Pin pricks of light splattered around the edges of his vision; he cried out and arched against the bed again, caught up an orgasm so intense it felt like a series of explosions that triggered off all the way through him. Saruhiko’s merciless assault on that good spot inside him had his clenched fists jack-hammering against the bed as his limbs jerked reflexively, pleasure stretching out nearly to the point of being unbearable as he was pushed to the outward edge of his limits.

Holy fucking hell… Saru

Through it all, he hadn’t managed to turn his gaze from Saruhiko’s face, and so he was able to watch it contort and then loosen as its owner let out a very lewd-sounding moan and came, cock twitching within Yata’s over-sensitive body as he rode out his climax.

That sight was probably going to show up in his dreams, regardless of how often they actually fucked. Yata sank back against the mattress and struggled to catch his breath, uncertain if his trembling was from the slowly fading traces of his orgasm or if it was Saruhiko’s shaking bleeding onto him. His partner had slouched forward, his bangs hiding his expression as he hovered precariously over Yata, breathing hard. Then he seemed to recover and leaned back enough to slide himself out of his lover’s body, glancing up with a kind of weary satisfaction.

That expression – just on the edge of smug – was so typical that Yata would’ve laughed if he wasn’t feeling so blissed-out and drained of energy. He managed a smile instead, gazing back up under heavy eyelids.

Amazingly, his head wasn’t complaining at him at all. He felt refreshed, despite the layer of sweat and other bodily fluids on his skin – every little sensation against his body felt clearer and more vivid than before.

Saruhiko leaned forward to kiss him lightly, and then pulled back just far enough to look him in the eye. “So?” His tone was deliberately light, almost teasing. “How did that compare to your memories, Misaki?”

“Way fucking better,” Yata answered fervently, without hesitation. “Seriously. The dream was good and all, but that was… just…”  He shook his head slightly, too relaxed to give his words much thought. “Awesome.”

He got a raised eyebrow and a hint of a smirk in return. “What did you dream about, our first time?”


Saruhiko snorted. “I like to think I’ve improved since then,” he remarked, and rolled over onto his side, trailing one teasing finger down over the mess on Yata’s lower torso. “We should clean up.”

That was probably a good idea, as much as he would’ve liked to doze off. “Right.” Yata forced his tired muscles to work, levering himself into a sitting position. Now that the rush from sex was over, he was feeling kind of sore in a few places. “I could use a shower.”

“Mm.” It sounded like agreement, but before he could move to get up off the bed, Saruhiko was sitting up behind him and wrapping an arm around his chest to pull him back. His nose burrowed into the junction of neck and shoulder, warm breath tickling the skin there.

Yata shivered involuntarily, caught off-guard, and felt his face grow warm. “Wh-What?”

“Nothing.” The word came out slow and languid, almost too soft to be heard. Another arm snaked around his torso, bringing his back flush against Saruhiko’s chest. “Just… nothing.”

Seriously, I don’t even know what to do with this guy. Yata could feel the slow smile creeping onto his face even as the thought went through his head, though, and the emotion that came with it wasn’t annoyance or frustration or resignation.

He slid his hands over Saruhiko’s arms and leaned back.



There were no dreams the night after they’d started screwing again – well, no dreams that he remembered, and definitely no memories. Yata wasn’t really sure if that was a good thing, but waking up in Saruhiko’s bed as his lover was sliding out to get ready gave him a warm rush of contentment.

This is really how it is between us, huh? He sank back against the pillow, half-closed eyes following Saruhiko’s motions as he pulled on his uniform. They’d spent most of the rest of yesterday playing video games and even just talking – now that the whole ‘we’re sleeping together’ bit was out, some of the details of their situation had been easier to coax out of his stubborn partner.

Apparently, they had a lot of sex now, which Yata counted as a win. In fact, they’d done it again before going to bed, cramped together on the couch cushions with their legs tangled, only halfway undressed and making out frantically while grinding against each other to a slow but satisfying climax. Saruhiko had come before him, too, and he’d had the pleasure of getting off to that sexy orgasm face. It still gave him a little shiver now just thinking about it.

Fuck, I’ve got it so bad…

“I’m heading out.” Abruptly, Saruhiko was leaning over him, and Yata tilted his head automatically to meet the kiss. Is this a thing? He kisses me goodbye in the morning? It felt familiar, but it was surreal to think about. Were they really the ‘kiss each other goodbye’ type?

Apparently so.

It wasn’t exactly unpleasant, though. Yata watched him pull away, still a bit fuzzy-headed from sleep. “Have a good day,” he mumbled, and gave in to the downward pull on his eyelids as the blurred image of Saruhiko’s uniform-clad figure headed for the bedroom door.

When he opened them again, the apartment was quiet, it was nearly noon, and his PDA was blinking at him, indicating a new message.

Still no dreams.

Well, I can get memories back when I’m awake, too. Yata covered a yawn, pushing aside those thoughts. His head was still heavy and the now-familiar dull ache was reminding him that it had been a while since the last time he’d taken his pain meds, but it didn’t seem as bad as before. I’m totally getting better, right? Three weeks is too long – I’ll be all healed up in just one, tops.

Wishful thinking, probably, but whatever.

He lifted his wrist and checked the message, which – surprisingly – turned out to be from Kamamoto, rather than his mother. ‘Heard about your accident. Feeling okay? The stuff you ordered came in. I’ll drop it off if you want.’

Stuff I ordered? Yata frowned at the message. He had a sort of vague sense about it – like he should know about this, and it was kind of important. His skin was prickling a bit; he wasn’t sure if it was good or bad.

One way to find out, I guess. Pushing himself up into a better position, he brought up the holographic keypad and typed out a quick ‘yeah, come over’.

The response came back as he was getting up from Saruhiko’s bed: ‘Okay if Anna comes along?’

Anna? That was definitely a surprise. Yata blinked at the words, but they didn’t change. The only reason Kamamoto would’ve mentioned bringing their King with him was if she’d specifically asked for it, and even then, she’d probably had to override Kusanagi’s objections.

But why would she?

Well, either way, he wasn’t about to refuse. Yata typed back a quick agreement before heading out of Saruhiko’s room and back to his own to pick out some fresh underwear and clothing.

It was about another hour before he was buzzing them in through the front door of the building – a fucking intercom in his apartment, hah, fancy living – so he’d had time to reheat and eat some of the take-out he and Saruhiko had ordered the night before.

Yo, Yata!” Kamamoto greeted when he opened the apartment door for them. He was looking much the same – non-summer-mode, with an unassuming smile and sunglasses tucked on his shirt. “How’s your head?”

“Tons better – something like that wouldn’t stop me for long!” It was easy and relaxing to fall back into the habit of chatting with a close friend. Yata stepped back to allow his guests access and turned his eyes towards Anna. “Thanks for coming over.”

She returned his gaze with calm gravity, and he felt like something in his soul had settled a bit. Being around her was like that; it made him feel better about the world. It was different from the powerful, unstoppable feeling Mikoto had inspired, but no less amazing. “Thank you for having us,” she responded, stepping inside ahead of Kamamoto and turning to remove her shoes.

“Yeah, of course.” He shut the door again after they were both inside, and offered a grin. “Being here by myself sucks, anyway.”

“I’m sorry, Misaki,” Anna said, unexpectedly. “We should have come to visit sooner.” She turned her gaze from his. “Totsuka would have scolded us if he were here.”

“H-Hey, really, it’s okay!” Yata held up both hands, a little alarmed at the way the mood had shifted. “You came to see me in the hospital, so it’s all good! And I know everyone’s probably busy. Plus, I have Saru here anyway, right?”

Kamamoto glanced around, looking a bit awkward for some reason. “Is Fushimi here right now?”

“Nope, he’s at work.” Yata shrugged, waving a hand carelessly. “Anyway, make yourself at ho – wait!” He scrambled forward to stop Anna before she could make her way to the couch. “You can’t sit there! It’s… not very comfortable.” His face was heating up, and this had to look suspicious, but fucking hell, there was no way he was letting his King sit on a couch he’d had sex on less than twenty-four hours ago. “Really. Just – just sit at the table. I’ll make tea. Okay?”

Anna looked at him for a moment – probably just a second or two, really, but it felt like an eternity. “Okay.”

He let out a breath and slumped forward, relieved. “Great! I mean… right. Yeah. Good.”

The gaze that Kamamoto was directing at the couch was dubious, but he – thankfully – made no comment. “I brought your order with me,” he offered instead, reaching into his coat and pulling out a thin envelope. “Here.”

“Oh.” It wasn’t what he’d been expecting – but then again, he hadn’t exactly known what he’d been expecting, so maybe it was. Yata took the envelope, frowning down at it. “Thanks. Why’d it go to your place, though?”

Kamamoto blinked at him. “You don’t remember?”

Kusanagi didn’t tell you?” Yata rapped his knuckles against the top of his head meaningfully. “I lost all my memories from last year.”

“He said something about it, but still…” Kamamoto scratched his head, looking kind of bemused. “That seems like a lot to just lose all of a sudden.”

Yeah, tell me about it. “Well, could’ve been worse.” Yata tried to shrug that off, shooting back what he hoped was a brash grin. “It’s not much of a fight when your opponent’s a bus, though. And surprising me at work – that’s fighting dirty, right?”

“At work?” Kamamoto’s brow furrowed. “That’s odd…”

When he didn’t expand on that, Yata raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”

“Oh, well… just…” He scratched his head. “Kusanagi mentioned that the accident happened on Monday, is all.”

“Uh, yeah.” Honestly, it was kind of hard to keep track of the days when while on enforced ‘rest time’. “I think. So?”

“So… you don’t work Mondays. At least, you didn’t before I left.” That came with a shrug. “You’re always complaining that no one’s around.”

Yata blinked at that. “Huh… really?” He frowned, trying to wrap his head around the idea. “What the hell was I doing at work on my day off?”

Kamamoto shrugged again. “Maybe you were called in to cover for someone? I don’t know. It seems weird, that’s all.”

“I guess.” It wasn’t like it really mattered. “Well, whatever.” Tearing the envelope open, he tipped it sideways so that the contents slid out into his hand.

Contents which turned out to be overnight passes for a hot springs resort – two of them – and a printed receipt for an amount that had him squinting suspiciously at the numbers. “I didn’t buy these, did I?”

It was a stupid question – obviously, he had, or he wouldn’t be getting them handed to him by Kamamoto, who could probably afford them even less than he could. His friend was giving him the sort of look that suggested he was contemplating how best to answer that question without inadvertently stepping on any toes now, too, so Yata didn’t bother to wait for a response. “What the hell? No wonder my account’s empty.” He turned the passes over, frowning at them. “Why would I buy something like this?”

“It was a gift,” Anna said suddenly, drawing both of their gazes. She was seated at the table already, legs tucked neatly beneath her. “A surprise for Saruhiko.”

Yata blinked at her. “What, really?” He turned his eyes back to the passes again, feeling his brow furrow.

Thinking about it closely… Anna’s words did ring true. He sort of had a vague impression now, of sitting in front of a computer and trying to figure out how to order the stupid things, a mixture of impatience and frustration and excitement bouncing around his head as he did.

“This is gonna be awesome!” He leaned back in the chair, regarding the receipt page on the screen with a certain amount of satisfaction. “Can’t wait to see the look on his face.”

“Well, I agree about the awesome part…” When he turned, Kamamoto was giving him a doubtful look from his seat at the table in his family’s house (which had been the only place Yata could think of to use a computer that his boyfriend wouldn’t find out about). “But are you sure about making it a surprise? Weren’t you complaining about what a control freak Fushimi is?”

Yata frowned at him, mildly irritated by the lack of enthusiasm. “Whatever, it’s fine – it’s not like they’re for a set date or anything. He can pick whenever he wants, and we’ll go. Plus, Saru likes hotsprings.” It was one of the few things he was pretty sure was a safe bet for a gift, which was one of the reasons he’d chosen it in the first place. “And it’s better to do a surprise for anniversary gifts, right?”

Just about one year of getting along… for them, that was probably worth celebrating. Yata turned back to grin at the screen again, more than a little proud of himself for thinking of it.

“Yeah, I guess.” The point was conceded with a shrug. “These are pretty pricy, though – are you okay for rent?”

“It’s all good – I worked it out.” That was another thing to be proud of – it wasn’t easy to budget things like this on his measly income. “I just have to get Saru to cover me this once, and I can pay him back when I get my next check.” He folded his arms, allowing himself a smug little smirk. “Then I just hold off on spending for the rest of the month, and I’m good again.”

For some reason, that earned him another one of those doubtful looks. “Fushimi doesn’t mind covering you?”

“Why the hell would he?” This was beginning to get more than a little annoying; Yata turned in his chair to scowl properly. “And what’s with all the negative comments? I should know Saru better than anyone, right?”

“Ah… right. I guess?” As if sensing that he was on thin ice, Kamamoto hurried on with the rest. “So what are you going to tell him when he asks why he has to cover?”

That was the one part he hadn’t worked out yet – but it wasn’t super important. “I’ll think of something.” In the meantime… “Anyway, since I’m done with that, let’s head back to the bar, okay?”

The memory blurred out back into the present again; Yata blinked, regaining a sense of his surroundings. “Huh.” He stared at the passes again for a moment, then looked up to smile ruefully at Anna. “I guess they were.”

“You remember it?” Kamamoto sounded a bit surprised.

“I get memories back all the time.” Yata braced his hands on his hips confidently, turning to offer his friend a brash grin. “Something like this is no big deal for me – I’ll be back to normal in a week, tops.”

Kamamoto looked suitably impressed. “That’s awesome!”

“Right?” Yata set the passes down on the counter, moving on into the kitchen. “Anyway, sit down – I’ll grab some tea. And there’s leftover takeout, if you want it.”

“Really?” That seemed to brighten him up. “That’d be great – I’m starving, honestly.”

“There’s a surprise,” Yata muttered to himself, but he was still smiling as he did. There was definitely something to be said for being around friends again. As much as he liked – lovedSaruhiko, there was no denying that there were a lot of other important people in his life that he really missed being around now.

Well, I’ll be back at Homra soon – just a few more days, probably.

He was just finishing with the kettle and about to grab some teacups from the cupboard when a soft tug on his sleeve brought him to a halt. Yata turned to meet his King’s gaze, surprised. “Anna?”

She let go of his shirt and set one pale finger at the point right above his heart instead. “Memories live here,” she said simply, and tilted her head at him, expression serious.

Somehow, those words struck a chord. Yata blinked at her, feeling like he was hovering on the edge of an understanding he couldn’t quite reach. “Um…” At least Anna wouldn’t make fun of him for not getting it. “What do you mean?”

“Hitting your head won’t make you forget.” She looked down at his chest again, eyes lidded. “Forgetting is a shield for when your heart is hurt.”

Yata stared at her, feeling more lost than ever. “Sorry… I don’t really get it.” He tapped a finger against the side of his head. “It was my head that was hurt, right? I mean, nothing happened to my heart or anything…” The calm certainty of her words made him a little doubtful, though. “Right? I mean, what could have happened?”

Anna shook her head slightly. “I don’t know,” she admitted, “but it should be here.” She pressed her finger gently into the point on his chest, and offered a small, rare smile.

“Oh… well, okay.” Yata rubbed the back of his neck, feeling a bit awkward about it. Obviously, he’d totally missed whatever she was trying to tell him, but that was nothing new. A glance over in the direction of the table showed Kamamoto fiddling nervously with his PDA – no help whatsoever. “Anyway, you can just sit and wait. I’ll bring the tea out to you, all right?”

There was a brief moment’s pause, and then Anna nodded. “All right.”

The sense of unease didn’t quite leave even when she sank back down across from Kamamoto again; for whatever reason, it just felt… ominous.

That’s stupid, though. Yata grabbed up the whistling kettle and stubbornly turned his attention back to what was in front of him. Just forget it.

It was probably just his head playing tricks on him, anyway.



The passes didn’t come to mind again until after he’d seen Kamamoto and Anna to the door and then turned around to find his ‘surprise gift’ still sitting on the kitchen counter. Yata picked them up again, frowning a bit as he contemplated how this was going to work.

We obviously can’t go right away. Hell, even aside from the fact that he probably wasn’t ‘travel ready’, he didn’t know when Saruhiko had enough time off to accommodate an overnight trip. It was something they were going to have to talk about.

The question was, when should he bring it up?

I don’t even remember when the anniversary is. Kusanagi had said ‘almost a year’ since the subway hijacking, which meant almost a year since they’d reconciled, but as far as exact dates went? Yeah, unless he had a calendar hanging around somewhere with the date circled, there was no way he was going to figure that out.

Plus, he kind of didn’t want to wait. Yata felt the grin building on his face as he thought about it, a little of the anticipation from the memory catching up with him. There was no way Saruhiko was going to see this coming – not with the way he kept making comments about Yata being broke all the time. The look on his face was going to be great!

And then there was the trip itself…

An overnight trip as a couple. It was one of those things other people did – like with actual, real relationships. Yata felt a little weird about that. Sure, he was serious about Saruhiko, and he was pretty sure that was mutual, but, well… relationships. Hell. They were in one of those, weren’t they?

Kind of scary to think about, but he liked it. Yata stared down at the paper in his hands, an odd mix of excitement and apprehension blending up into something mostly pleasant inside him. That was right – he was Saruhiko’s boyfriend, because they were in a fucking relationship, and now he got to reap all the benefits. Which, in this case, meant a romantic overnight trip at a goddamn hot spring.

It was going to be awesome!

I’ll tell him after dinner, he decided, tucking the passes into his back pocket. That wasn’t too much of a wait, right? He could handle that, at least.


Two different attempts at gaming, a quarter of a comic book, one thoroughly cleaned bathroom, and about twenty minutes of restless pacing later, Yata was pretty convinced he was going to crawl out of his skin. How late does he actually work?

He couldn’t remember ever checking the time when Saruhiko got home, so for all he knew it could have been the middle of the night. Except that there had still been some light. Maybe. Had there?

He was still mulling that one over, hedging back and forth in his own mind, when the sound of a key turning in the lock interrupted.


“I’m ho – ” The automatic, lazy drawl stalled out as Saruhiko looked up and met Yata’s expectant gaze from less than a foot away. He blinked, clearly startled. Misaki.” Then his eyes narrowed. “What?”

That reaction was… honestly kind of irritating. “What do you mean, ‘what’?” Yata frowned. “I’m greeting you at the door here – show a little enthusiasm or something, will you?”

The suspicious frown on Saruhiko’s face didn’t even waver. “I don’t remember ever promising you enthusiasm.” He turned slowly, gaze lingering warily on Yata’s face for a moment before he clicked his tongue and shifted his attention to his boots. “What do you want?”

“Nothing!” Yata got a pointed glance in response to that, and felt his face grow hot. “Wh-What?” He crossed his arms, feeling defensive. “Got a problem with that?”

“Not really.” The response came in a sort of offhand tone; Saruhiko finished with his boots and turned again to head into the apartment, pulling his jacket off as he did. “If there’s nothing you want, then that’s fine.”

“Huh. Well… good.” That probably could’ve gone better, but whatever. Yata wandered back into the kitchen instead of following, adopting a casual pose against the counter. “Anyway, now that you’re back, let’s eat, okay?”

Saruhiko paused long enough to shoot him another sharp-eyed glance before continuing into his room, unhurried. “I’m having a shower first.”

Yata’s impatience curled into a frustrated little knot in his stomach at those words. “Can’t you do that after?”

“Why should I?”

Goddamnit, Saru, you stubborn son of a bitch… He scowled at the open doorway, then let out a long breath, and gave in. “I’ve got a fucking surprise, okay? For after dinner.”

“Is that all?” Saruhiko reappeared from inside the room, the jacket gone and his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He was smiling faintly, that annoying little I-knew-you’d-crack curve on his lips. “I was starting to think you were planning to drug my food.”

Yata snorted. “You would think up something twisted like that. Seriously, why would I drug your food? For kicks?”

“Mm, who knows.” He got a lazy smirk in response; Saruhiko crossed the room and leaned against the counter beside him, just on the edge of being inside Yata’s personal space. “Maybe so you could have your way with me.”

Oh. So that was where this was going. Yata tried to ignore the telltale blush he could feel rising on his cheeks, and quickly turned his gaze away, flustered. “I don’t need to drug you for that, do I?”

Saruhiko hummed next to his ear, low and amused, and reached out to toy with the nearest belt loop on Yata’s shorts. “True, probably not. Anyway…” His lips brushed against the sensitive skin beneath them, prompting a shiver. “What were you planning to surprise me with?”

A pleasant little twinge stirred up in Yata’s belly – just enough to feel good without any kind of rush for release. Ignoring the question, he went ahead with what his instincts were telling him and turned his head to cover Saruhiko’s mouth with his own.

It felt nice, even something as simple and casual as that. Just… touching each other, in a more-than-friendly way. Not necessarily because they were going to have sex, but… well… Whatever. He liked it. Saruhiko’s lips, and Saruhiko’s touch, and the two of them having an understanding together – it was good.

Can’t believe I managed to forget this somehow.

He felt confident enough to run a hand along the line of Saruhiko’s hip as he pulled back, thumb brushing over the jut of bone just under the line where his trousers gave way to skin. “I said ‘after dinner’ – what the hell kind of surprise would it be if I told you about it before?”

“A tolerable one,” Saruhiko responded immediately, but there was an edge of contentment in his tone. His eyes were lidded and there was a lazy sort of upturn to his mouth. “If you really need an arbitrary waiting period, though, feel free to keep it.”

“Like I need your permission.” Yata allowed himself a little smirk. That expression was kind of charming, in a way, all relaxed and unguarded. The knowledge that he had to be the only one who got to see it gave him a heady feeling, and the fingers he’d rested on his boyfriend’s hip curled in for a firmer grip briefly, before he slid them free. “Come on, let’s eat.”

Saruhiko clicked his tongue and sighed, but let him go without a fuss. “Impatient, aren’t you?”

“Shut up.” He tossed a good-natured glare over his shoulder, pulling open the fridge door. “Grab a plate, asshole.”

Dinner was quick. Saruhiko was a light eater as it was, and Yata was too anxious and excited to eat much. The takeout supply had also been diminished significantly by Kamamoto’s visit – a fact that seemed to sour the mood when he explained it.

“Are you even going to have enough for tomorrow?” Saruhiko asked irritably, pushing the food on his plate into clumps.

“Of course I will!” Yata scowled back at him, lowering his chopsticks. “Don’t treat me like I’m an idiot.”

That earned him a raised eyebrow. “Hard to do when you keep acting like one.”

“Piss off.” He gathered up another bite, focussing on his plate stubbornly. “Just because you don’t have friends who come to visit…”

Saruhiko clicked his tongue again and set down his chopsticks, pushing his half-empty plate forward. “I’m done.”

Yata counted that as a victory. Heh.” He put down his own chopsticks, grinning across the table triumphantly. “Can’t wait to see the surprise, right? I don’t blame you.” Pushing himself up onto his knees, he reached into his back pocket. “Just be ready to be blown away.”

“Blown away by what, exactly?” Saruhiko watched him skeptically.

“Hah – you’ll see.” Yata retrieved the passes and presented them with a proud flourish. See if you make another jab about me being broke after this! “Take a look for yourself.”

His boyfriend reached out for the passes slowly, bringing them up to eye level. There was a moment of silence as he took in the content.

A moment of silence that stretched on a little too long for Yata’s nerves. “Pretty impressive, right?” he urged, leaning forward so that his elbows rested on the table and watching for some reaction on that frustratingly impassive face. His heart was going about a mile a minute. “I figured since we’d managed one whole year of not killing each other, it was worth celebrating in sty – ”

“What is this?” Saruhiko cut him off, looking up sharply from the paper in his hands.

The clear hostility in both his tone and gaze caught Yata off-guard. He blinked, losing the train of his thought. “’What’?” he repeated, confused. “It’s – ”

Those slender fingers clenched around the passes, wrinkling them. “When did you buy these?”

“Before… you know.” This reaction was baffling – Yata wasn’t sure what to do with it. He eased back to an upright sitting position again, frowning back. “I just got the memory back today, so I’m not – ”

“You don’t have any spare money for these.” Saruhiko tossed the offending items onto the table. “You can’t even afford rent. Why would you buy something stupid like this?”

That struck a nerve – Yata could feel the heat crawling up his neck in response, humiliation sinking in. “The fuck? You’re the one who said rent wasn’t important!” I can’t work right now. I have no money. I’m completely dependent on him. Those thoughts had been drifting at the edge of his mind since he’d come home, along with the frustration of being reduced to someone useless and undependable.  “Besides, I had a plan – I’d budgeted for this, if you just let me – ”

“Take them back.”

He couldn’t have heard that right. “What?”

“I said take them back. Ask for a refund.” Saruhiko folded his arms, glaring off to the side. His lips were thin, and there was tension visible in every inch of his posture.

Yata glanced from his boyfriend to his rejected gift and back again, feeling a lump of hurt welling in his throat. He wasn’t sure if there was more anger or confusion swirling around in that mess of emotions in his head, but he was lashing back with instinctive heat before he could even think to sort it out. “What the hell is your problem? I was trying to do something nice, you asshole!”

“I didn’t ask for it.” The words came out tight.

“Well, you don’t have to be a prick about it, either!” He was starting to see red – and not the good kind, either. The kind that came with a dull, steadily growing ache at the back of his head. “A fucking ‘thanks but no thanks’ would’ve been fine!”

Saruhiko wasn’t looking at him; his expression was stony. “I’m not thanking you for something I didn’t ask for and don’t need,” he responded, and abruptly pushed himself up, turning to stride away from the table. “Don’t buy me any more ‘surprises’.”

Yata glowered at his retreating back. “Don’t worry!”

The slamming of Saruhiko’s bedroom door behind him was his only response.

In the silence that followed, the sound of his own harsh, angry breathing was almost ridiculously loud. Yata seethed for a moment, hands balled into fists in his lap, too furious to really reflect on what had just happened. Where the fuck does he get off, saying all of that shit? As if he didn’t know how to manage his own money. As if he hadn’t had a plan, hadn’t worked out how to balance everything and still try for something they might have fun with together.

Pretty ironic that it had just led to another goddamn argument instead.

Why, though? That reaction hadn’t even made sense. Yata picked up the passes from where they’d been discarded on the table, staring at them as if he’d find an answer. What does he suddenly have against hot springs, anyway?

It felt like his energy was draining away along with his anger; trying to figure out Saruhiko’s temper and whims and stupid random moods suddenly seemed like more work than his aching brain could handle. He thought back to his earlier excitement – a fucking trip as a couple, hah – and had to swallow hard around another of those painful lumps.

I’m definitely an idiot for thinking he’d want something like that.

Doubly an idiot for getting so proud of himself over being able to make Saruhiko happy. He’s never really happy, is he? Yata obviously had failed at it before, so he didn’t know why he thought he’d be able to do it now. It was just him getting caught up in his own feelings again – wanting it so badly that he convinced himself he’d done it.

He shouldn’t have bothered. Yata felt the telltale hot sting around his eyes just before his vision blurred, and angrily swiped at them. Nothing he did was ever good enough for that guy anyway, so he wasn’t sure why he kept trying.

The memory of Saruhiko’s expression from earlier flashed back into his head – that content, unguarded look, like he had everything in the world he’d ever needed in front of him – and Yata felt his heart clench. Right. That.

Nothing in movies or books or comics or anything had ever warned him about how complicated, frustrating, and hurtful it was to be in love with someone – even when they returned it.

We should probably… talk. Or something. Yata put the passes back down on the table again, deliberately averting his eyes from them. His head was throbbing, and he felt exhausted in every sense – mind, body, spirit. He wasn’t sure his heart could take any more beatings right then. Tomorrow.

With that decided, he pushed himself wearily to his feet and started to work on clearing the table.