Picking up the Pieces


Chapter Seven


He would’ve thought he was asleep and caught up in some fucked-up nightmare, if it wasn’t for two things: the pain in his ribs and head, and the fact that he was 100% sure he could never have dreamed up half the things Saruhiko had been muttering behind him.

Over the course of the past hour – or however long they’d been trapped there; it felt like forever – Yata had gone through at least three instances of thinking his opinion of Saruhiko’s dad couldn’t get any lower, and been proven wrong each time. Yeah, back then he’d known their home life wasn’t the greatest, but this…

“No such thing,” Saruhiko mumbled, his head bumping against Yata’s as he rolled it sideways again. His body felt feverishly hot. “Permanence doesn’t exist. It’ll just be destroyed. I’ll break it myself. I’ll break it. Don’t touch it, I’ll do it myself. Leave me alone. I can burn it with my own hands. Mine.”

Somehow, the soft, half-delirious resignation in his former friend’s voice made Yata’s gut clench with unwilling sympathy. He breathed out slowly into the pause that followed, and shifted, ready to try again to get through whatever haze was settled around Saruhiko’s brain. “Saru – ”

Mi~sa~ki~.” The head that had been resting against his shoulder lolled back off of it and down; a muffled chuckle followed the slow drawl of his name. “You burned up all on your own, didn’t you?” His voice took on a light, careless tone. “Burning up into ashes, rising out like a phoenix, sitting in a birdcage and happy to squawk away for nothing at all. Boring, useless, broken – all the good things left behind in the ash.”

It was pointless to try and make sense of any of that. Yata wasn’t sure if he was being insulted, and he didn’t have the energy to get properly riled up, either way. “Whatever,” he muttered in response. It was like talking to himself, but somehow, he felt like he had to say something. “I don’t even know what you’re – ”

From somewhere across the room, a cellphone buzzed loudly.

Yata swallowed back the rest of his words; with most of his focus being on Saruhiko and his constant stream of rambling, he’d just about forgotten about their captor. There were some shuffling motions from roughly the same direction as the buzzing noise, and then the man’s voice sounded out, “Yeah?”

Tuning out the mumbling from behind him, Yata strained his ears to catch whatever he could of the conversation. The voice from the other end of the cell connection was audible – barely – but it sounded like an angry squirrel chattering away.

If I could just…

“The fuck?” The man in the room sounded shocked – and angry. “How in the hell did they – ?” There was a moment of tense, aggrieved silence. “No, for fuck’s sake, I – hold on.” More shuffling, and then the sound of footsteps pacing briskly across the room towards them. “I don’t want these guys listening in.”

Footsteps echoed across the room, heading somewhere away from them; a door creaked open and the sharp sound of the man’s voice faded off as he drew out of range.

Yata shut his eyes behind the blindfold, letting out the breath he’d been holding. No chance of catching any of that, so he still had no clue what was going on – but the unhappy tone was promising, at least. Something had fucked up in whatever plan these assholes had going. That could only mean good things for him.

Unless they just decided to kill the both of them, of course.

Ch’.” He let his mouth twist into a scowl to cover up the insistent tendril of fear lashing out at the pit of his stomach. “You’re going to regret crossing Homra,” he muttered, in the general direction of the door. “Just wait.”

The bravado made him feel a little better.

Behind him, Saruhiko giggled drunkenly. “Regret?” he repeated, slow and drawling. Homra? Ah.” His head snapped up again, nearly colliding with the back of Yata’s. “I regret every second of Homra. Every. Single. Second.”

That stung a lot more than Yata would’ve thought, after all this time. “Only a traitor like you would regret being part of something awesome like Homra!” he snapped back, without stopping to consider the futility of it.

“So disappointing,” Saruhiko murmured back, voice low like he was telling a secret. “Suffocating. Fire and fighting and punks content to idle around all day.” His head dipped forward again, and the rest came out almost too quietly to be heard. “Saying ‘family, family’ like that’s a good thing.”

It was hard to stay irritated at that, after everything he’d heard. Yata tipped his own head forward, caught without a response – not that it would’ve made a difference, anyway. All of this was going through his head back then?

Saruhiko was still mumbling away. “I don’t fit. I don’t? It’s Homra that’s wrong. I don’t need them.” His head lolled back onto Yata’s shoulder again. “Misaki would choose Homra over me. I don’t need him.”

For a moment, everything seemed to slow to a halt. Yata couldn’t speak – couldn’t breathe – and he would never have been able to name the emotions that struck him in that instant. The pain in his head and ribs dulled suddenly in comparison to the ache rising at the back of his throat. He swallowed hard around the accompanying lump, and tried to make his voice work. “The hell are you – ?”

“I don’t need Suoh Mikoto. I don’t need Homra.” Saruhiko’s voice rose, growing almost manic. “I don’t need Misaki.” He laughed again, the sound blending suspiciously close to a sob. “I won’t be discarded.” Those words sounded suspiciously rough. “I can’t be, can I? I’ll do it. I’ll break it. I’m the discarder now.”

Yata’s eyes were stinging; he had to fight to keep his voice from betraying him. “Saru…”

“I don’t need you,” his former friend responded, again in that heavy, drunken tone. Misaki.”

He swallowed again, with effort – it was harder this time – and tried to ignore the growing dampness on the blindfold. Something inside him ached in response to those words.

Ah~h.” That came with a breathy-sounding sigh. “Misaki is so far away. Why?” Saruhiko’s voice was plaintive, like a petulant child’s. “What makes you so happy here? It’s too hard to breathe.”

There was a tremor building in Yata’s limbs, although whether it was in response to his strained emotions, his injuries, or the anxiety that kept his muscles taut, he couldn’t say. It might even have been shock. His head and ribs were starting to feel numb, and there was an uncomfortable, stiff tingling sensation around his tailbone from being forced to sit on a cold cement floor for too long.

Even so, he couldn’t have stopped listening if he wanted to. Whether it was need or grief or dread that fed that breathless tension, it didn’t matter.

I missed all of this. That fact wouldn’t stop plaguing him. It was right in front of me, and I couldn’t see it…

Misaki is too simple. Satisfied so easily.” The edge of contempt in those words was almost lost in the desperation that colored Saruhiko’s tone. “How can you laugh? It’s suffocating. Draining. Dull. Misaki.” The pitch of his voice rose to a whine on Yata’s name, and the rest of the words came out small and plaintive. “I’m not happy, so how… how… ?”

Yata’s throat felt swollen and raw, and it took several tries to clear it enough to get his voice through. Even then, it came out hoarse. “You could’ve said so.”

Saruhiko’s shoulders slumped against his back. His former friend’s breathing was harsh and audible, but for a long moment, there was no other sound in the room, and it was almost possible to believe that those words had gotten through – the rambling was over.

Saru?” Yata risked, after a moment. His own voice sounded weak and small in the oppressive silence around them. He wasn’t sure what to follow that up with. He didn’t even know what to think. The only thing driving him was blind instinct – a need to confirm that the person behind him was okay.

Useless, really, because nothing in this entire situation was okay, but that didn’t quell the urge.

The body pressed against his shuddered, then started to shake. Yata had only a moment to feel startled and alarmed before the accompanying sound registered, and he realized that Saruhiko was laughing. Not a soft, short laugh. Not that amused, mocking huff he normally made. Actual, full-on laughter. Like he’d just heard the funniest joke of his life.

Somehow, that brought up the hair on the back of Yata’s neck. He focussed on breathing evenly, something close to despair building inside him as he vainly tried to tune out the hysterics behind him.

I really can’t reach him now, can I?

Saruhiko’s fit started to subside; he let out a final, breathy-sounding chuckle and rolled his head back against Yata’s shoulder again. “I don’t need you,” he murmured, slow and delirious, with an almost ecstatic note in his voice.

The trembling was back, full force. Yata clenched his hands into fists, squeezing until his knuckles ached. “Shut up,” he muttered, under his breath.

A low, amused hum was his response. “I don’t need you.”

“Liar.” Even without fully processing everything he’d just heard, he felt confident of that. Yata ducked his head, wishing he could block out his ears. Somehow, even though he thought – knew – that Saruhiko was lying, the words still cut right through him.

Don’t say it…

“I don’t need you.”

“Shut up already!” It came out a little too sharp – and way too desperate – but Yata was beyond caring. “You fucking liar! Traitor! Goddamn monkey!” He tugged uselessly at the bonds holding his hands immobile, not really sure if he wanted to hit something or cover his ears. “Quit deciding things on your own, you bastard!”

Saruhiko tilted his head so that their faces were nearly touching; the heat of his fever seemed to radiate from his skin. “I. Don’t. Need. You,” he repeated slowly, pronouncing each word carefully and distinctly, as if there was some doubt that Yata had properly heard it. “Mi. Sa. Ki~.”

The blindfold was wet, his breathing was short, and his throat stung. Yata shut his eyes so tightly that sparks danced in his vision, and fought the urge to laugh – or sob – himself. Who are you trying to convince?

Even without really understanding anything, he was pretty sure it wasn’t him.



The transition from sleep to wakefulness was sudden and unceremonious. That vivid impression of a cold cement floor, a fever-warm body against his back, and dulled-out pain had still not quite faded even as Yata found himself laying on his side – alone – in his own bed. The clock beside his bed read 3:17AM in bold red digital display.

For a moment, it felt like he was frozen in place, heart racing, eyes wide open and thoughts jumbled all over the place.

“I’m the discarder now.”

The memory of that delirious, half-broken voice from behind him had him pushing himself up from the bed, ignoring the warning throb from his head as it was jostled up a little too quickly. The room was still too dark, shadows slowly shaping up into vaguely recognizable forms as his eyes adjusted.

“I don’t need you.”

Yata clenched his teeth, getting to his feet quickly and fumbling around for the door. “Stupid bastard,” he gritted out, scowling against the prickling he could feel around his eyes.

The apartment was quiet when he strayed out of his room; somehow, in the stillness, he could still hear the echo of Saruhiko’s laughter in his ears, almost like it was playing on repeat somewhere close by. The memory of that sound made his skin prickle.

I don’t fucking get it. Even with everything, he still found himself hesitating in front of his the closed bedroom door. There was no light from a laptop or desk lamp or anything shining out from the frame. You always push me away and then pull me right back somehow – I don’t get you at all.

Still, though… still…

If he stopped to think too much about it, he’d never get anywhere. Yata took in a sharp breath, did his best to push the memories of crazed laughter and a fevered voice to the back of his mind, and reached out to open the door.

As indicated by the lack of lighting, Saruhiko was in bed – well, the dark, blanket-wrapped lump he assumed to be Saruhiko was, anyway. Yata shut the door carefully behind him and made his way across the room to the side of the bed, the adrenaline high from his recent memory causing his heart to hammer away at his chest.

Without light, he could only make out a sketchy outline of that slumbering face, but it was enough. He’s here. He’s okay. It wasn’t like he’d doubted it, but somehow, seeing it with his own eyes was reassuring. This is the present, and that was the past. We share an apartment. We’re friends again. We’re more than friends. A lump was rising at the back of his throat; Yata swallowed hard, and curled his fingers into fists when they started to tremble.

He hasn’t discarded me.

“Idiot,” he muttered shakily, breaking the silence in the room, and wasn’t exactly sure which one of them he was aiming it at.

Saruhiko shifted at that, eyes slitting open hazily – then a bit wider as he blinked to clear them, sleep-addled confusion evident in his face. “… Misaki?”

Yata leaned down to brace his fists on the edge of the mattress, the thread of desperation that had driven him out of bed growing taught somewhere inside him. “Don’t,” he started, and had to stop there, voice catching at the back of his throat and making it difficult to breathe. He tried again, and managed to choke out, “Don’t decide you don’t need me!”

Even in the dark, he could still the way Saruhiko’s eyes widened at that, making the transition from foggy-headed to fully awake. “Misa – ”

“I wouldn’t – I won’t – ” His voice was cracking, but it didn’t matter. “I don’t know what’s going on in your head if you don’t say it! Talk to me, damnit!” He couldn’t summon enough anger to make that a demand rather than a plea. “You – You can’t… just…”

You can’t just leave me behind again, without saying anything.

The shock was already fading from Saruhiko’s expression even before Yata had finished speaking; his eyes slid shut as the words stuck at the end, and he let out a shuddering sigh. When his lids flickered back up, the flat stubbornness in his gaze was the only warning that came before he reached out and abruptly tugged Yata down.

The move was so unexpected that Yata let out a startled yelp, arms and legs flailing. His head spun uncomfortably, and he was momentarily distracted with trying to catch his breath as Saruhiko rolled them over and trapped him against the bed, covers tangled around his legs and an arm flung over his waist. His boyfriend’s face burrowed into the crook of his neck, prompting another of those embarrassing little squeaks.

Wh-What the hell?” he blurted out, a now-familiar heat climbing up his neck to reach his cheeks. Saruhiko’s nose was cold, but his breath was warm and it tickled the sensitive skin beneath it, drawing out a shiver. The rush of unexpected sensation was pleasantly distracting. “S-Saru…?”

The arm around his waist tightened in response; one of Saruhiko’s legs wormed around his, decreasing the space between them significantly.

I guess… that’s my answer?

Relief was starting to sink in now, washing over all the hurt places within him. The final traces of doubt and anxiety left by the dream were receding; he closed his eyes, feeling the tension ease in his muscles, and wriggled enough to free his arms so that he could wrap them around Saruhiko’s shoulders in return. “You know, most people would just say something.”

Saruhiko made a small, dismissive-sounding noise, squirming a bit so that he fit comfortably in Yata’s embrace. There was no indication that he planned to move any time in the near future.

Well, not like I mind or anything. It was a bit uncomfortable, but he could live with that. Yata sighed, shifting a little in an attempt to find the best position to settle down in.

His boyfriend’s face was still buried in the crook of his neck, so he almost didn’t catch the faint, muffled, “Don’t leave.”

Something in Yata’s heart swelled – he didn’t really understand Saruhiko, not fully, but he knew enough to be certain that plea had cost him. “I’m not leaving, dumbass,” he responded hotly, and tightened his hold until his arms ached. “Even if I lost all my memories, I would still be here. Even if I died, I’d haunt you for the rest of your life.” He opened his eyes halfway to look down at where their bodies seemed to overlap. “You’re fucking stuck with me, so you’d better get used to it.”

Saruhiko’s shoulders shuddered briefly in his hold. “Idiot,” he mumbled, then sighed audibly, and relaxed.

Yata allowed himself a smile at that. “Who are you calling an idiot, idiot?”

There was no response, but at that point, he didn’t really expect one. The breath against his skin was already beginning to even out, so he closed his eyes again, letting the rhythm pull him back into sleep.

The rest of it could sort itself out.



It would’ve been really difficult for Saruhiko to sneak out of the bed without disturbing its other occupant, which was probably one of the reasons he was obviously making no effort to even try. Yata’s wake-up call came in the form of an exasperated sigh almost right into his ear, an arm that had been draped over his torso sliding free, and the weight on his now-numb shoulder lifting. He didn’t even register the buzzing of the alarm until his bedmate was already leaning over to shut it off.

Is it seriously time to get up already? Yata squinted blurrily at the outline of Saruhiko’s T-shirt-clad back as he slid his legs over the edge of the bed and reached out to pick up his glasses from the table beside it. “Saru?” he mumbled, not quite fully awake yet.

Saruhiko paused on the verge of pushing himself up off the bed, turning to regard Yata with typical early-morning irritability. His eyes had bags under them that were notable even with only the faint light from the PDA he’d just turned on. “Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

Awareness was starting to flood back in, bringing the memory of the night before – well, actually, three hours before, according to the PDA display – with it. “I would be if you weren’t such a workaholic,” Yata grumbled, pushing himself up onto his elbows in the hopes of clearing the remaining fog from his brain. His injury wasn’t bothering him too much, at least. “Can’t you call in sick or something?”

Seriously, they’d just dealt with some heavy shit last night – that at least should qualify for some quality ‘couple’ time, right?

Saruhiko clicked his tongue, pushing himself to his feet and crossing the room to where his uniform was hanging. “Unlike certain freeloaders I could name, I have a limited number of sick days – and vacation days too, before you bring it up.” He briskly pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it carelessly at the hamper. “If I’m going to ask for two consecutive days off in the future, I won’t be helping my case by calling in now.”

“Huh.” Yata was momentarily distracted by the lines of trim muscle on his boyfriend’s body as he undressed himself, and caught the actual meaning of what he’d said a few seconds late. “Wait, wait, ‘two consecutive days off’? What – ?”

“’What’?” Saruhiko repeated, an undisguised edge of condescension in his tone. He’d pulled on his work shirt and was focussing on the buttons without bothering to look back at Yata. “How ridiculous would it be to try and do an overnight trip with just one day off? I’d either arrive too late to enjoy the evening or have to leave too early to enjoy the morning. Don’t be stupid.”

“What was that?” Yata was pushing himself up to a full sitting position before he’d fully processed that, his hackles raised instinctively. “Say that agai – huh?” The words sunk in; his entire thought process screeched to a halt. “Hold on – you’re actually going to go?”

Two spots of color had risen on Saruhiko’s cheeks, noticeable even in the poor lighting. “It would be a waste not to,” he said, and clicked his tongue irritably, keeping his eyes trained away from the bed as he reached for his pants. “Considering you blew all of your money on those passes like an idiot. I’ll bet they’re not even refundable, are they?”

“Uh…” Yata blinked at him, too surprised to even be annoyed by the ‘idiot’ comment. A small seed of elation had taken root within him. He said he’s going to go! That means he actually doesn’t dislike the idea – right? “I guess… probably not.”

“Figures.” Saruhiko still wasn’t looking at him, offering a side profile view as he pulled on his trousers with stubborn efficiency. “Planning was never your strong suit, was it, Misaki?”

Somehow, that tone was really irritating. Yata narrowed his eyes, squashing down his excitement in favor of frowning back. “Don’t want to hear it from someone who can’t even take care of himself.”

Saruhiko clicked his tongue at that, pulling on his vest with sharp motions. “I’m not the one who struggled for rent money every month.”

Heh.” Yata ground his teeth together, the familiar aggravation catching up with him at the reminder. “At least I managed to keep up a balanced diet! Plus, I was doing okay – just because I didn’t have much doesn’t meant I didn’t know how to budget.”

There was an obvious pause; Saruhiko’s fingers stilled where they were doing up the buttons of his vest. “And where do things like hot springs fit into a ‘budget’?” he asked after that moment of hesitation had passed.

Something in his voice had Yata’s nerves on edge. We’re not over this yet, huh? “I had a fucking plan for those, dumbass – you just never let me explain it.” He shifted over to the edge of the bed, sliding his legs over the side and crossing his arms as he studied his boyfriend’s rigid back. “I was going to – ”

“Get me to cover the rent,” Saruhiko finished for him – in that hateful, know-it-all drawl again. “Right, Misaki?”

So they had talked about this. Yata scowled at his back, a little miffed by the response. “For a fucking week until I got paid! Is that seriously what’s crawled up your ass about this whole thing? Should I have asked Kusanagi for a loan instead?”

Saruhiko had picked up his jacket, but went still and rigid somewhere in the middle of that response. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, after a beat of silence, and his fingers clenched noticeably around the fabric in his hands.

God, you piss me off… Yata unfolded his arms and pushed himself off the bed, narrowing his eyes. “If it doesn’t matter, why the hell do you keep acting like this? You’re the one treating it like a big deal, not me.”

A small, barely visible shudder seemed to go through Saruhiko’s body at that; he turned around, the faint light from his PDA glinting off of his glasses. “It shouldn’t matter,” he mumbled, and then took in a sharp breath and shut his eyes. “It shouldn’t have mattered.”

Shouldn’t have? Yata frowned, feeling his eyebrows come together in a puzzled knot. He was about ready to demand what the hell that was about when –

The projected image from his PDA was making him nervous for some reason – which was stupid, because he had no reason to feel nervous calling up his fucking boyfriend, of all people. Yata slumped down onto the couch, hesitating for about the fourth time with his finger hovering near the ‘call’ button.

He’d told Kamamoto it was no big deal.

Of course, that was a week ago, and he’d put off asking about the rent because… well, just because, damnit! He had stuff on his mind. And there was never a good time to bring it up.

But it was really no big deal. Yata scowled at the name on the display, as if he could somehow intimidate the person it belonged to into already knowing what he was going to ask and being totally cool with it. Seriously, they were sleeping together, living together, he did all the goddamn chores, and covering the rent one time and then being paid back later was going to be nothing.

And there was no particular reason he was doing this over the phone rather than in-person, either. It was all about timing – that was it.

“Fuck.” This was seriously dumb. He had to ask sooner or later, and the rent was due in just a few days, so… yeah. “Whatever.”

Trying not to think too hard about it, he pressed the button.

The two seconds before Saruhiko picked up were quite possibly the longest two seconds he remembered going through. “Fushimi,” the familiar drawl answered. “Who is this?”

That response made his eyebrow twitch. “Fuck you, Saru. Seriously?”

“Ah, Misaki.” There was amusement dripping off of those words. “I thought someone might’ve stolen your PDA, seeing as how you’re calling me at work.”

Fuck, right. Yata scratched the back of his head, feeling oddly self-conscious. “Yeah, sorry. I’ll be quick.”

There was a brief pause on the other end. “What is it?”

“Uh.” His stomach was suddenly in knots for no reason at all. Yata squirmed, and forced himself to blurt out, “I kind of need you to maybe, you know… cover my share of the rent this month. Can you?”

There. It was out. That wasn’t so bad.

Silence on the other end. Then, “Why?”

It was hard to tell what kind of reaction he was getting just from the tone of voice. “We all chipped in to get something for Kusanagi’s birthday.”

Which was the truth… except that Kamamoto had collected the money for that a while ago. He’d had to commission the custom coffee table that would replace the one that had been cracked in a bar brawl the previous month, after all. And Yata’s share wasn’t nearly as much money as he’d spent on those passes.

So, yeah, not a complete lie.

“Hmm.” Saruhiko drew that hum out. “Now I understand why you wanted to move in together.”

What the hell? Yata frowned, raising an eyebrow at his PDA as if his image could be projected through it. “Huh?”

“Easier to be a frivolous spender when someone’s there to pay your bills.” There was an edge somewhere behind that lazy voice. “Isn’t it, Misaki?”

The shock of exactly what Saruhiko had just suggested had a paralyzing effect that Yata couldn’t shake off right at first. He thinks that I… The thought didn’t even finish. For that moment, his brain went completely blank – he couldn’t even manage to be angry.

It only lasted for a moment. There’s no fucking way – I must have misheard. “Wait – what did you just – ?”

“Well, I thought something like this would come up sooner or later.” And there was that condescending tone again – the one that always set Yata’s teeth on edge. “Since the first time, I already know how you operate, Misaki. Someone’s importance is based on how much they can do for you… right?”

It was a familiar pattern – the anger and hurt packaged in a fucked up present delivered by Saruhiko’s words. Yata had thought maybe he was used to it, at one point. It didn’t even happen that often any more. But this... this…

He fucking thinks I moved in with him for money.

“What the fuck – ?” His voice was shaking; there was red around his vision. He tried again. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” The demand came out clear and fierce that time. “We’ve been together this long, and you – you just always…?”

You just always thought that about me, this whole time?

He couldn’t finish the thought.

The telltale click of Saruhiko’s tongue over the phone filled in the silence; neither affirmation nor denial.

“You’re the worst,” Yata said, low and fervent, feeling his throat clogging up with the mess of emotion triggered by the accusation. “You know what, forget I even asked! I’ll ask for a goddamn advance on my fucking paycheck, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll get a loan somewhere else!”

Saruhiko made another sharp ‘tsk’ noise. “Misaki, you just – ”

“Go to hell!” he snapped back, and disconnected the call.

For the first moment, he just sat there, glaring at his wrist, the normally-comforting heat of a red aura glow surrounding him.

He can’t really think that. Yata lowered his arm, sinking back against the couch as he let his aura dissipate. After everything… after all this time… It was just the usual bullshit, right? Saruhiko trying to sabotage his own happiness, because of all the things that went on in his messed up head that Yata could never understand. That was it, wasn’t it? Just… lies.

Why did it still hurt so goddamn much?

He pressed the heels of his palms into his eyes, willing away the hot prickly feeling at the back of them. No matter how much he thought he knew about Saruhiko’s thoughts and motivations and the cause of his actions, his words still had so much power. Out of all of the important people in Yata’s life, none of them could match the level of anger and love and pain and longing that Saruhiko drew out of him effortlessly.

It’s worse now. When they weren’t friends, he could mostly block it out. It was still there, festering at the back of his mind like an old, untended sore, but it wasn’t like this. They were together now, closer than ever, and he’d thought everything would be better – and a lot of the time it was – but then something like this happened, and it was a hundred times worse than before.

Sometimes… I just… Yata pulled back his hands and pushed himself up off the couch in one swift motion, driven by the need to be taking action – to be doing something that wasn’t sitting around wallowing in this. Asking for that paycheck advance would be a start. When it’s like this… Grabbing his wallet and keys from the counter, he started towards the door.

I wish this last year never happened.

When he left the apartment, the sound of the door shutting behind him felt ominously final.

The afternoon faded back into early morning; Yata blinked, waiting for that moment of disorientation to pass, and stared at his boyfriend’s shadowed face blankly.

“Welcome back,” Saruhiko murmured, without any real humor. “I take it you remembered something?”

Right, ‘something’. Yata took in a breath and shut his eyes, trying to sort out the mess of emotions that had come back with that particular memory. “You being a fucking dick, as usual,” he managed, shakily. I guess that explains why the hell I was at work on my day off.

The whole idea made him feel cold. If fate had been a little more cruel, that argument could have been the last time they’d ever spoken. He could’ve fucking died, and the last words he would’ve spoken to the person he loved best would’ve been ‘go to hell’.

It had just happened so easily…

“Forgetting is a shield for when your heart is hurt.”

Those words made sense now. His hands clenched into fists at his sides. At the time, with the wounds from Saruhiko’s words still so fresh, it had honestly felt like what he’d wanted.

It’s not going to end here. He was sure of that now. As good as things could be between them, there was an awful side that was just as strong. Yata opened his eyes and met Saruhiko’s hooded gaze bleakly. They would keep on hurting each other, whether they meant to or not. They would resent each other. They would get into arguments that felt soul-destroying. Saruhiko would always be halfway anticipating the end somewhere in his messed up head, acting like he didn’t care, and Yata would never give him the magic response that would fix everything, because it didn’t exist.

But, even with all of that… still, somehow…

… He was lying in a hospital bed, just barely awake and confused as anything. “Misaki,” Saruhiko breathed out, clinging to his hand, eyes sunken and face pale and shaken.

… Standing in the kitchen, staring at an expression he could only describe as longing. “Idiot,” that familiar low voice chided, “There’s no need to announce that now. I know already.”

… Fingers clenched around Saruhiko’s shirt, with that pained, wistful smile just inches away. “I’m already at the meeting point, right now, with nowhere to go.”

The feel of lips barely moving against his throat along with a soft mumble of, “Don’t leave.”

Still, somehow, it felt worthwhile.

“Hey, dumbass monkey.” He didn’t bother to keep the note of fond exasperation out of his own voice; the way the corners of his mouth were edging up would give him away, regardless. “Who the hell do you think would put up with you just to get a few bills paid? You must be crazy.”

Saruhiko’s eyes widened at that. “Misa – ”

“But then, I’m just as fucking stupid, right?” Yata scratched the back of his head and offered a grin, ignoring the pounding of his heart in favor of going right to it. “Falling in love with an asshole like you.”

The effect that had on his boyfriend’s expression was almost comical. Saruhiko blinked several times in rapid succession, his eyes seeming to go a notch wider with each iteration. His mouth was open as if he’d halted in mid-speech, and he was staring at Yata like he’d never seen him before in his life.

Somehow, it was a bit uncomfortable. Yata shifted awkwardly. “Shit, don’t tell me that’s the first time I’ve said it…” The silence that answered him was telling. “It is, isn’t it?” He could feel his face grow hot, and grimaced, ducking his head a bit and staring up self-consciously. “I guess I should’ve figured out a better way to do it, then…”

That seemed to snap Saruhiko out of his startled trance; he shut his mouth and frowned, meeting Yata’s gaze with a kind of wary bewilderment. “Not really – it’s about what I’d expect from someone at your level.”

He couldn’t help but bristle at that. “What the hell did you s – ?”

“I wouldn’t accept it otherwise, though.” Tossing his coat haphazardly at the bed, Saruhiko closed the distance between them, reaching out unexpectedly to brush Yata’s hair back from his face with cool, slender fingers. The pupils of his eyes seemed to completely swallow the blue around them; at that close distance, it was possible to see the faint waver around the edges. “A well-thought-out confession wouldn’t suit you. Misaki.” The name came out as kind of an exhale against his lips as Saruhiko bent to kiss him.

Yata leaned up into it, the edges of his previous contentment seeping back in through that simple, closed-mouth contact. He reached out impulsively to take Saruhiko’s free hand in his, sliding his fingers in through the gaps. It felt nice.

For now, this was enough.

When they parted, Saruhiko let out a sigh and leaned in to tip his forehead against Yata’s. “I really do have a limited amount of leave,” he muttered, and clicked his tongue. “Can’t be helped, though.”

Yata couldn’t help a little smirk at that, staring up at that resigned expression with his eyes partly lidded. “So you’re staying home today?”

“Like I said, it can’t be helped.” Saruhiko returned his smirk lazily, his gaze somehow smoldering. “This idiot I fell for had to do a confession of love before I’d even finished getting dressed.” He leaned in again, pausing just short of another kiss to add in an undertone, “I don’t see how I have any other choice but to stay home and have mind-blowing sex with him, do you?”

That was enough to send a shiver down his spine – from the promise of sex or the casually tossed-out admission, he wasn’t sure, but it didn’t really matter. Yata let his eyes flutter shut. “I’m holding you to that, you snarky bastard,” he shot back, and closed the distance between them yet again.

Definitely more than enough.



The End