Staying Over

 

Based on the following prompt from tumblr: I'm here to ask for middle school sarumis (because there just aren't enough fics about their middle school years). I'd love to read about Saruhiko sleeping-over at Misaki's place and them just being cute dorks in love? That'd be wonderful

 

"Spend the night at your place?"

It was hard to gauge the mood from just that one repeated sentence. Yata lowered the burger in his hand, returning his best friend's gaze from across the table. "Yeah - two nights. My family's gone until Sunday." He offered a grin, un-phased by the usual impassive stare leveled back at him. "It'll be great, right? We'll have the whole place to ourselves. We can do whatever we want!"

Saruhiko raised a skeptical eyebrow at him. "What kind of 'whatever we want' are you talking about? We'll just end up playing video games the whole time." He reached for his drink. "It's not like we can't do that when your family's there."

That was true, but... "Whatever, come on!" He freed one hand to reach for a fry. "We can stay up as late as we want, get whatever food we want, and we won't have to worry about anyone bothering us. It'll be like the whole place belongs to just you and me."

Saruhiko looked up at him again, releasing the drink's straw from his mouth. He had that look again, frowning and narrow-eyed and wary, as if mistrusting everything about this. It was something Yata had gotten used to during their years of friendship. "Weren't you going to try and study for exams over the summer break?"

"Ugh." Right, yeah, high school entrance exams. Yata scowled, slouching his shoulders a bit. It wasn't like his chances were all that great... He should (hopefully) be able to get in somewhere, but he was going to have to work for it. He didn't really want to think about that right now. "The break just started, so a few days off should be fine, right?"

"Well, it's not like I mind." Saruhiko shrugged slightly, dismissing the prospect of entrance exams with the kind of careless ease that only a genius like him could afford. His expression was still dubious. "Why did your whole family go on a trip and leave you here?"

He knew that question would be coming. Yata shrugged back, grinning a bit sheepishly. "I told Mom I needed time to study for entrance exams."

For a moment, Saruhiko just blinked at him - then he raised both eyebrows, mouth turning up at the corners. "So you lied, then, huh?"

"Whatever - like you can talk." He'd seen how effortlessly Saruhiko could lie, more times than he could count. "Anyway, it doesn't matter! You're coming, right?"

It wasn't a total lie, anyway. He was going to study. Eventually. He just needed to have some time to relax and hang out first, and he wasn't going to get that done at his grandmother's house in the middle of the stupid countryside. Besides that, though...

Besides that...

"You're not going to give up until I do, so it's not like I have choice, do I?" Saruhiko shrugged again, raising his drink for another sip.

There you go again, not being honest... Well, whatever - he was used to it. Yata grinned back. "All right! Should we stop by your place first so you can pick up some stuff?"

The hand holding the drink stilled. "No." Saruhiko set down the cup again, with just a bit more force than he needed to. The small hint of a smile that had started on his face had shifted to a frown. "It's fine."

'It's fine', he says... Which meant his house wasn't empty. Yata stole a glance at Saruhiko's book bag - which probably didn't have any books, after all - and frowned right back.

Besides everything else, he really wanted to give Saruhiko a place to stay other than that house.

"Right, yeah." Since he'd already gotten his way, there was no reason to push any further. Yata raised his almost-forgotten burger again, pausing just long enough to add, "Anyway, let's go to the game center after this."

He just barely managed to catch the way Saruhiko's grip on his cup loosened. "All right, if you're that eager to lose."

"Shut up! I'm in pretty good form today, so there's no way I'm losing!"

"If you say so..." Saruhiko raised his eyebrow slightly with a kind of smug skepticism.

This was better. Yata grinned back across the table, feeling his good mood return. "Just you wait!"


"So, what was it that I was supposed to be waiting for?"

"Yeah, yeah, I had an off night, okay?" Yata shot a disgruntled look sideways, only about half serious, and slid the key ring around his finger, twirling it as they walked towards his home. "It's not like I haven't beaten you before."

Saruhiko's smile picked up some of the shadows created by the fading sun, giving him a slight sinister look. Like some kind of mastermind, maybe. "One time - out of how many, again?" He looked relaxed somehow, bag slung over his shoulder and a kind of casual satisfaction in his expression.

Moments like this were the best for that kind of thing.

"Say what you want! Your luck's going to run out one of these days, Saruhiko!" Leaving those threatening words behind and ignoring the mumbled response about the difference between 'luck' and 'skill' and 'don't you think one time counts as luck more than every other time', Yata moved ahead to unlock the front door.

It was a little weird, actually - the house was dark and quiet as he pushed forward into it, completely devoid of any signs of life. It didn't really make any sense, but despite the fact that he'd come home a number of times in the past when no one was there, this time it actually felt empty.

In a way, that was kind of lonely.

"What are you waiting for, Misaki?" Saruhiko's voice cut into his thoughts; when he turned back, his best friend was studying him with a frown and something that might've been wariness in his eyes.

That was enough to snap him out of it. What do I have to feel lonely about? Saruhiko's here with me, right? It was kind of a comforting thought; the house felt less empty, and more like it was waiting for them to arrive and turn it back into 'home'.

Still, he couldn't ignore the situation. Yata frowned back, a little annoyed. "Don't call me that in public."

Saruhiko raised an eyebrow. "Nobody's here but us."

"Yeah, but we're outside, so it counts." He pushed through into the entranceway, making space for Saruhiko to follow, and turned to kick his shoes off. "At least wait until we're in the house."

"Yeah, yeah." The answer came back in a dismissive drawl. Saruhiko neatly and efficiently removed his shoes and stepped up into the main room. "It's not like it makes a difference."

"Whatever - just don't, okay?" Yata moved past him into the kitchen, still frowning. It was kind of annoying that Saruhiko didn't get how embarrassing that name was. He didn't really mind it from family - there was a kind of closeness when someone called you by your first name - and Saruhiko was sort of like family in a different way, so that was all right.

Just... not in public where other people could hear. It didn't fit his image at all!

Well, they were inside now so it didn't matter. "We already had dinner, so..." Yata reflexively opened the cupboards one at a time and peered in. "I guess we could have tea or something. Oh!" His eyes caught on the familiar tin on one of the shelves. "I got it! Let's have hot chocolate and see if there's a good movie on TV."

"Fine with me." When he turned, Saruhiko's eyes met his and they shared a smile.

Obviously, they were on the same wavelength: at a time like this, anything was good. Yata felt warmth spreading in his chest - that pleasant feeling that could be associated with Saruhiko - and leaned against the counter, reluctant to turn back around even to grab the tin. "I guess we should probably use the bath first, huh? D'you have something to change into?"

Saruhiko shrugged, that small hint of a smile settling back into a more neutral expression. "I've got extra shirts and underwear."

"Huh, so nothing to sleep in." Somehow, that wasn't surprising. Because he was going to stay overnight in one of those 'net cafes... The thought seriously bothered him, and not being able to do anything about it stirred up a restless discontent in his chest. Yata frowned. At least he's here now. It was something, anyway. "I guess you can borrow stuff from me. If it's just shorts and a T-shirt, we should be about the same size, right?"

"Yeah." For a second, it seemed like there was a weird look in Saruhiko's eyes, but it passed so quickly that it was hard to say for sure. "Maybe."

Good enough. "Okay, then I'll find something right now." Yata turned to pull the tin out, leaving it on the counter, and then moved past Saruhiko to leave the kitchen. After a second's pause, he generously added, "You can use the bath first."

"That should be a given, since I'm the guest, right?"

"Yeah, yeah." Somehow, the typical drawl put a grin on his face. "Leave it to me - I'll be the best host you've ever seen! I guarantee you won't want to leave when we're done here!"

Saruhiko was quiet, although the soft footsteps indicated he was still following. Yata felt something in his chest clench: a little bit of frustration and sympathy and helplessness.

That's probably a given, too, huh?


He wasn't really sure what woke him, only a couple of hours after they'd set up the spare futon in the room Yata normally shared with Minoru. It probably wasn't any kind of noise from Saruhiko, who was lying still, curled up on his side facing Yata's futon. His eyes were lidded but open, glittering a little with the tiny bit of moonlight that shone faintly through the window.

He's still awake?

It was hard to see Saruhiko's expression in the darkness, but Yata could tell that calm gaze was fixed on his face, and it somehow gave him a bit of a shiver. He blinked a few times, trying to shrug off the heavy blanket of sleep, and managed a hushed voice. "Can't sleep?"

He could see the edge of a frown on Saruhiko's face. "It's too hot."

"Huh." True, it was a little muggy, but Yata was used to that in the summertime. I guess a mansion like the one he lives in would have central air and everything. He started to push himself up. "Right, I should turn the fan on."

"Then it'll be too loud." The second complaint came out in a kind of petulant mumble.

"Can't help that." Yata frowned for a moment, thinking about it. He could feel Saruhiko's eyes on him, and it was making him a little anxious. He liked it, being the focus of that sharp, clever gaze, and he liked it more when they were sharing a room during the night, futons spread next to each other on the floor in a casual, close way... But it also made him feel strangely aware, and he wasn't quite sure why. It put him on edge, but in a sort of thrilling, intoxicating way.

Then again, he was used to having unusually strong feelings when it came to Saruhiko.

"Ah, right - I know!" He turned, offering his friend a grin. "I'll get my music player, and we can make some kind of relaxing playlist for falling asleep. We'll listen to it together, one earphone each. How about that?"

Saruhiko blinked at him, brow furrowing for a second as he thought it over. "I guess so," he said after a moment.

"All right! I'll get it and then start the fan - just wait, okay?" Yata hastily shoved the covers off of him and scrambled up from the futon to go recover the player from his school bag.

It took less than five minutes to get the fan going and the device and earphones set up - and another fifteen after that to pick out a playlist that would probably work. Yata tucked the player between their futons after getting it going, lying on his side and watching his best friend's face as the clear notes from the song played directly into his ear.

You can probably fall asleep now, right? With the earphones in and the music going, it wasn't practical to ask out loud, but he was pretty sure he could get at least the feeling across in the gaze they exchanged. Anyway, if there's still something wrong, I'll fix it. You can just leave everything to me!

It might have just been the moving shadows cast by the fan, but he thought he saw the corners of Saruhiko's mouth turn up a bit. The soft gleam from his eyes slid out of view as the lids closed over them, and Yata could see the slump of his shoulder as he let out a small sigh.

Other than the music playing at a low volume, everything was still.

The thin cable that connected them drooped towards the floor, but it still remained clear in Yata's sight even as his vision started to blur into sleep.


When he woke again, even without opening his eyes, he could tell the room was light.

The earphone was still lodged in his ear, and it was actually a bit sore, but other than that, something felt not quite right. As he drifted towards awareness, Yata realized that the music had stopped.

Huh. Did it run out of battery?

He opened his eyes to check, and the first thing he saw was Saruhiko's face on the futon next to his, slack with sleep. His best friend seemed to have curled in on himself, shoulders hunched in, but still somehow relaxed and unguarded.

Something prickly and warm sparked in Yata's chest, and he felt a small rush of heat climbing up his neck. It was a rare sight. Even on previous occasions where they'd spent the night in the same place - on school overnight trips, pretty much - Saruhiko was always still awake when Yata fell asleep and up before him when he woke up. He also didn't nap in public or fall asleep on the bus or train. Once, Yata had asked him if he ever even slept at all, and Saruhiko had frowned and muttered something about it not being important and he didn't need that much sleep, anyway.

But here he was, right before Yata's eyes, completely dead to the world.

For a moment, it felt like he couldn't look away, skin tingling and heart speeding up a little. Saruhiko's eyes were closed and his mouth was open slightly as he breathed with the even rhythm of deep sleep, dark hair splayed on the pillow around his face. Without his glasses or the air of wariness around him, he looked surprisingly... vulnerable.

It was just a moment, though, and then Yata blinked rapidly, snapping himself out of it. What? He's just sleeping - so what? He hastily turned his attention to the player between them, scowling against the prickling heat that rose on his cheeks. Don't be dumb. Just because he'd never seen Saruhiko sleep before, he didn't have to lie there and gawk like an idiot.

Still... at least he was able to sleep. Somehow, that felt like something to be proud of.

It turned out that the battery wasn't dead - the playlist was only about two hours long, and they'd forgotten to set it on repeat. Yata slid his earphone out, setting both it and the player back down, and sat up slowly, careful not to wake Saruhiko.

As his stomach was starting to remind him, it was probably about time to get breakfast going.

He was just finishing with the eggs and bacon when he heard Saruhiko step into the kitchen - a kind of half-hesitant, awkward shuffle like he wasn't quite sure if he was trespassing or not. "Morning," Yata tossed over his shoulder, lifting the pan from the stove. "Perfect timing - want to grab a couple plates from the cupboard? Breakfast is pretty much ready."

Saruhiko blinked owlishly at him clearly still groggy. "Which cupboard?" he asked, after a short pause.

"Ah, right." Yata half-turned, pointing. "That one."

Saruhiko turned in the direction of his finger, frowning a little as he squinted at the cupboard from behind his glasses. "Got it," he mumbled, pushing the frames up on his nose in reflex. His hair was mussed from sleep, sticking out at odd angles here and there, and for one crazy second, Yata's fingers itched with the urge to reach out and brush it into place.

The hell's with that? He forcefully pushed that weird thought out of his head. "Grab the toast from the toaster, too, while you're at it."

Saruhiko shot him a surly-looking scowl as he turned with the plates. "Who's supposed to be the guest here?"

Not much of a morning person, is he? Yata grinned back, a little amused by the reaction. "Hey, I'm saving you from the boredom of sitting there waiting for me to finish, right? Besides, this way we can eat sooner." He took one of the plates and set it down on the counter to add the eggs and bacon on top of the piece of toast.

Watching him, Saruhiko moved the toast on the second plate with a finger. "Put mine on the side."

"Huh? Seriously?" Yata blinked, then furrowed his eyebrows. "It's way better this way, though!"

"I don't like it when they mix."

"Yeah, yeah." He moved to slide the eggs and bacon onto the side of the plate. "Whatever, weirdo."

"That's ironic, coming from you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing."

They had breakfast at the kitchen table, chattering about pointless things through the meal. It was different from his family's usual boisterous noise, as everyone tried to be heard over the others and there was a mix of annoyance and laughter and warm familiarity. But, Yata thought, beaming across the table at Saruhiko's relaxed expression, it was probably even better.

This is a pretty good way to spend a morning, huh?

After they were done and he'd cleared and washed the dishes, the obvious question of what they were going to do with the rest of the day kind of had to come up.

Yata deliberately avoided the possibility of studying for exams. "We could hang out at the game center again."

That was pretty much the default for when nothing else in particular was going on, so he was surprised when Saruhiko frowned a little in response. "We already did that yesterday."

"So... what?" It wasn't like they hadn't gone there several days in a row before. Yata frowned back, confused. "You don't want to?"

Saruhiko shrugged, looking away and tapping a finger on the table with scarcely contained irritability. "I'm bored with it, that's all."

"Huh? Really?" Honestly, he couldn't see how that was possible. "So then where do you want to go?"

Sharp blue eyes met his again. "Why should we have to go anywhere?"

Yata blinked at him. "What, so you wanna just stay here all day?"

Once again, Saruhiko shifted his gaze away; his frown deepened. "Misaki, you wanted to get that new co-op game, right?"

"Well, yeah, but I told you I can't afford it ye - "

"I'll buy it," Saruhiko interrupted. His fingers were drumming on the table, almost restlessly. "If we go and pick that up now, it wouldn't be hard to spend the rest of the day playing it, would it?"

For a moment, Yata just stared at him - the stiff, fixed expression and almost sullen downward curve on his lips - processing the contrast between what was said and what was right in front of him. Seriously...?

Well, it was good, right? Yata felt the grin building on his face in response to the warmth spinning to life in his chest again. "All right!" he responded confidently, pushing himself up with enthusiasm. "Video games and hanging out it is! Let's do it!"

Even if Saruhiko couldn't be honest about it, this definitely felt like a victory.


"Here it is - the best curry of your life, guaranteed!" Yata set the pot down in the center of the table and gestured with a flourish and a grin. "You will never be satisfied with lesser curry again after trying this!"

Saruhiko glanced from the pot to him and back again, dubiously. "You didn't add vegetables, did you?"

"I didn't!" Yata plunked himself down into the seat opposite his friend, where his rice was already waiting. "You'd just pick them out, anyway, so what would be the point?" He waved a generous hand at the pot. "Anyway, dig in! Guests first."

He got a completely unjustified suspicious look at that. Seriously, after I went to all that effort... Still, Saruhiko didn't comment before reaching out to serve himself from the pot. Yata couldn't help but watch even as he took his turn scooping out a portion of his own, anticipation building as he waited to see the reaction to the first bite.

It was the first time for serving his own homemade curry - not counting his mom and siblings - and plus, it was Saruhiko, who was notoriously hard to please. So, well, it was kind of a big deal.

Saruhiko lifted a chunk of curry-soaked rice to his mouth, blew on it, and then cautiously took a bite. He chewed for a moment, expression thoughtful, and then swallowed.

Yata held his breath.

The tiniest edge of a smile appeared at the corners of his best friend's mouth. "Not bad," he commented blandly, and lifted another mouthful.

Yes! That was as good as outright praise, coming from him - Yata beamed across the table, elation spreading all the way through his body. "Right?" he agreed, allowing himself to boast just a little, and then turned his attention down to his own meal.

They'd spent a good five hours doing nothing but playing the new video game - something his mother would never have let them do if she were around - and that wasn't counting the time spent walking at a relaxed pace on the way to the game shop, stopping at the convenience store on the way back for boxed lunches and drinks, and then arguing about who was going to play the main character and who was taking the side character role. Yata had managed to win that one after a vigorous round of rock-paper-scissors, mainly because Saruhiko had gotten annoyed with it after fifteen draws in a row and announced that he didn't care and they should just play already. That made it kind of a shaky victory, but the game had made up for it - and then some.

It always seemed more satisfying when he and Saruhiko were working together against a common enemy.

Speaking of working together... "Hey, so, since I made this awesome curry and all, you'll help with the cleaning up after, right?"

There wasn't even a second of hesitation. "Nope."

"Aw, come on, what's with that?"

"I'm the guest, right?" Saruhiko raised an eyebrow at him, untroubled. "That's what you said earlier, Misaki. 'I'll be the best host you've ever seen' - wasn't that it?"

Yata made a face at him. You would bring that up now. "Yeah, yeah." Still, this is a good chance to ask. He leaned forward a bit, grinned confidently across the table. "But it's been really fun, right? Staying here together, I mean."

Saruhiko's eyes met his, and for a second - just a second - it seemed like there was an honest and open look in them. It was something Yata didn't really get, but it made him think of a conversation they'd had - way back at the beginning, on the roof of a building at night. He wasn't even really sure why that suddenly came to mind, but it felt like his heart squeezed in his chest, and it was difficult to breathe around the sudden rush of an emotion he couldn't seem to place. He had the urge to act; to say something - do something, even - but his brain couldn't catch up and figure out what.

Saruhiko...

And then, just like that, the moment was past. Saruhiko shut his eyes, let out a small, almost rueful sigh, and smiled. "It's not bad," he responded, turning his attention back to his meal.

Yata blinked, wondering if he'd just imagined that instant of almost-clarity. Well... I don't really get it, anyway... "R-right." He tore his gaze away from his best friend's face, vaguely unsettled, and focused back on his food instead.

Still, he couldn't seem to shake the feeling that there was something he really should be doing.

The only question was... what?


It felt like Saruhiko's mood dropped as it started to get later in the evening.

There wasn't any kind of definite evidence, just... a feeling, more than anything. When Saruhiko was in a bad mood, he tended to go silent and sullen, almost retreating into himself. Yata had dealt with it a few times, and he prided himself on being able to pull his best friend out of those moments more often than not. It wasn't like he was exactly doing that now, though - more like he was just quieter as the night went on. His responses seemed short and half-hearted.

What's up with that?

They'd ended up on the couch watching a movie after bathing, and once the credits rolled, Yata decisively switched off the TV and turned towards his friend. "Let's think up something cool we can do before going to sleep."

Saruhiko eyed him sideways without turning, slouched back against the couch. "Like what?"

"We should..." Yata frowned a bit, considering it, and then immediately had a flash of inspiration. "We should make our survival plan for when the world goes to hell in an apocalypse!" He shamelessly stole from the game they'd been playing earlier. "If it's you and me together, we can take on whatever comes at us, right?"

Saruhiko turned fully, returning his gaze with slightly narrowed eyes. "We'd need to make a base," he said finally, slowly, and then immediately added, "Several bases. In case one is compromised."

"Right?" This was better. Yata beamed back at him. "We'd salvage from the outside and build all kinds of cool weapons in those places, like death rays and hyper canons!"

He got back a definite spark of interest at that. "Then, each base should have a different series of traps against intruders. They could trigger on body heat and increased carbon levels from breathing when someone enters in the wrong way."

"Yeah! Like spikes falling from the ceiling and pits of fire!"

Saruhiko's answering smile had a wicked edge. "I was thinking more like if we had an overhanging blade as a distraction, and poisoned spikes on the floor waiting after the intruder dodges through. They won't be expecting it, so they can't win with a lucky reflex. And all it takes is just a small graze."

Yata gaped at him, feeling almost breathless over the sheer brilliance of that suggestion. "That's so cool!"

"It's not too complicated, either." Saruhiko's eyes took on a considering look. "I think we could do it without much trouble."

"Of course! We can do anything!" Yata grinned, and then abruptly let out a sigh, tilting his head back. "Man! I wish an apocalypse would happen!"

"We'll cause one ourselves, if it doesn't."

When he looked up, Saruhiko was staring at him with straightforward confidence, and something deep inside Yata shivered with the responding thrill it sparked. In that instant, he was certain they really could. With Saruhiko beside him, they could do whatever they wanted. There were no limits.

Just you and me, against the whole world. Such a simple concept could rouse so much excitement in him.

"Got that right!"


It was late by the time they went to bed, though he hadn't exactly planned it that way. For some reason, whenever Yata had yawned and started to think, Okay, maybe now, Saruhiko had some other new and interesting idea that captured his attention. They had just sat there and talked, without a care in the world, until it was past midnight and their eyes were heavy and finally even Saruhiko had admitted defeat.

The music player was still sitting between their futons when they trudged into the bedroom, one earphone on either side. Oh, yeah, right. Yata looked back over his shoulder. "Should I turn the fan on again?"

Saruhiko shrugged. "It was fine last time."

"All right." That was a good enough reason to do it again. Yata crossed the room to the small, well-used fan and flipped the switch on. It immediately whirred to life, stirring up a racket as usual. "We can just use the same playlist, right?"

For some reason, Saruhiko blinked at him, as if not expecting that - and then the corners of his mouth edged up a little. "Fine with me."

"Awesome." Yata flicked off the lights and stepped back over to his futon, dropping down and tucking his legs under the covers. While waiting for Saruhiko to do the same, he picked up the player and earphones, tucking one into his ear and checking to make sure the playlist was loaded.

"I didn't change it or anything," Saruhiko commented, blandly.

"I know! This thing's weird sometimes, that's all." Yata didn't really have the patience for technology - even his PDA was a struggle sometimes, if he didn't have Saruhiko around to help with the settings. "Here, just" - he reached out without really thinking about it to plug the other earphone into his best friend's ear - "take..." As his fingers brushed accidentally against the soft shell of skin, he made the mistake of glancing over and making eye-contact. "... this...?"

Saruhiko's eyes widened just a bit behind his glasses, clearly startled at the sudden brush of skin against skin - a fleeting trace of warm between them - and Yata's heart seemed to do a little jump in his chest. Their faces were closer than expected, since he'd had to lean in to place the earphone, and even in the dark he could see the way the tiny muscles around Saruhiko's temples eased as he recovered from the moment of surprise. Somehow, still, it was hard to look away.

His eyes are really light. A blue so faded it almost became grey in bright light, but deepening again without it. And his lashes were unexpectedly long...

Yata's fingers, still hovering with uncertainty near his best friend's ear, had started to tremble. His eyelids slid down a little, on some strange instinct. He felt the smallest trace of warm breath that wasn't his across his lips and then -

"Ow!" It was more of a reflex than anything - the collision of their noses hadn't even hurt that much, but it was a shock all the same. Yata jerked back, blinking rapidly and staring at Saruhiko's face with a mix of confusion and disorientation. What was that? What just happened there?

Saruhiko's expression did an odd shift from startled to perplexed and then straight into irritability, corners of his mouth edging down. "What kind of lame stunt was that?"

"H-how should I know?" Yata scowled back at him, feeling oddly defensive, and was glad the lights were out to hide the hot flush he could feel creeping over his face. "Don't look at me like I did it on my own! You - you were staring at me, so - "

"You were staring at me." Saruhiko scowled right back, and there was a definite petulant edge to his words. "Creepy," he added, in a mutter.

"You're creepy!" The exchange was settling some of that prickly, nervous feeling; Yata made a face, and then sighed. "Whatever, I don't care. I'm going to sleep." He just about lost the earphone carelessly flopping down onto his side, and quickly brought up a hand to hold it in place. "Oh, right, the playlist..."

While he was reaching out for the player he'd dropped earlier, Saruhiko shifted to lie down on his own futon, clicking his tongue irritably as he pulled the covers around him. "Forgot what you were doing already?"

"I didn't! You distracted me, that's all."

"You distracted yourself, you mean."

"Don't try to twist it around!"

"Mmhm."

Yata huffed a little, without being serious about it, and unlocked the player again. "I'll start it, okay?"

"I guess." When he looked up, Saruhiko was still gazing at him, his expression set in that carefully neutral way. "What time does your family get back tomorrow?"

"Huh? What time?" Yata hesitated, thinking about that for a bit. "I think... sometime in the afternoon? Why?"

"No reason..." Saruhiko let out a small sigh, shutting his eyes. His shoulders deflated a little, and he seemed to curl in on himself a bit. After a second or so, he mumbled, almost too quiet to hear, "We should stay here until then."

Ah. "Right." Yata smiled a bit in return, contentment settling in his chest as he watched his friend's sleeping face. "Yeah, totally." He pressed the play button and waited until the first notes began before setting the device to sleep mode and putting it back between their futons. It had definitely been fun, with just the two of them at home. If only we could have days like this all the time.

All the time...

Just the two of them...

As he was drifting off, with Saruhiko's face an increasingly blurred but familiar outline in front of his eyes and the clear tones from the music playing in his ear, an idea was starting to form - a simple, but very appealing idea. If he wasn't on the verge of sleep, he might've laughed at how perfect it was. The answer to the problem he wanted to solve, right there before his eyes. He should've thought of it sooner, really.

There would be details to work out, sure, but... he was confident that they could definitely have that all the time. One day.

One day soon.


...


Yata's tiny apartment was almost too small for two futons, but some hasty rearranging of the few pieces of furniture he had made it possible to lay both of them out side by side. He pushed himself back to his feet after finishing, pausing for just a minute to survey the results with satisfaction. All right - good!

Somehow... this was kind of nostalgic.

The bathroom door opened as he was still caught up in that mood, and Saruhiko stepped back into the room, bringing a small wave of heat with him. He was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts that belonged to Yata, with a towel slung around his neck, and his hair hung flat around his head.

That was kind of nostalgic, too...

Saruhiko squinted at him, obviously having trouble without his glasses, then raised an eyebrow. "What are you staring at?"

"I'm not staring!" He scowled back, stepping around the edge of the spare futon and dumping the blankets he'd had tucked under his arm onto the top of it as he passed. "I was thinking, that's all."

He got a faint smile for that. "Strange. I didn't smell anything burning."

"Ha-fucking-ha. Jerk." Yata shot him a flat glare, not really serious about it. All things considered, it was a relief to be sniping at each other in that mild, familiar way, with no bitterness and anger and hurt behind the words. Light teasing. Closeness. Warmth.

He'd missed it. He hadn't realized just how much until he'd had it back.

Back, and then some, as it turned out...

Saruhiko's smile didn't falter as he approached. If Yata hadn't been paying attention, he would've missed the tiny hint of uncertainty that was visible in the way his former - now current - friend turned stiffly so that they were face-to-face. "Force of habit," he murmured, reaching up with both hands to grasp the ends of the towel. "This is new for us, isn't it, Misaki?"

You think? It wasn't like it hadn't been only a matter of days since they'd patched things up - well, more or less. There were gaps, but those were slowly starting to be covered, little bits at a time. It was going to take a while, but it would be worth it in the end. Yata was pretty sure of that. It was always worth it, somehow, when it came to Saruhiko. There was an attraction between them that he couldn't totally grasp, or even properly express, though of course his former friend had let him flounder through the confession on his own. That was typical, so he hadn't complained. Much.

This, though... This would be their first night together after they'd stop fighting and... talked. A lot. Among other things.

Somehow, that thought was a little embarrassing. Yata felt a hint of warmth rising on his cheeks, and scowled to cover it. "You don't need to tell me that, you dumb monkey!"

Obviously, the scowl didn't do much for him, because Saruhiko's smile widened. "I do when you react like that."

"Shut up! As if you're any better." He managed to summon up a smirk, feeling bold enough to take another step forward and getting a tiny boost in confidence when Saruhiko didn't move away. "At least I'm doing something here."

Saruhiko lowered his eyelids a little, meeting Yata's gaze with a small hint of challenge. "Doing what? Or do you even know?"

"Of course I do!" It was mostly bravado, because - hell - this was new ground. This tentative, barely formed thing between them hadn't even had time to put down roots. It was still so fragile and uncertain, and he didn't have a clue what he was supposed to do or how to act. He was pretty much just making it up as he went along, trying not to embarrass himself when possible.

That intense rush of feeling when he stared up into Saruhiko's eyes, though... the compelling pull... the longing... the way his stomach twisted up in knots... That wasn't new, at all. It was just that he hadn't been able to recognize it, back then.

Come to think of it, we were kind of in a situation like this at one point, weren't we? Gazing into each other's eyes with steady intensity while the space between them slowly shrank - yeah, something like this had definitely happened. But, unlike back then, he pretty much knew where things were going this time. It was just a matter of bridging the slightly awkward gap between knowing and actually doing it.

"Don't bump into my nose this time," Saruhiko mumbled.

So he does remember. Yata snorted. Shoulda known. "Don't be dumb." He tilted his face to the side anyway, closing his eyes as they drew closer and feeling that now-familiar brush of warm breath against his lips. Just like before. But so much sweeter, after everything.

Their mouths met, and that precious memory sank to the back of his mind as he leaned in to embrace the present.

 

The End