[3.2] I Love You (August 2019)

by Juliet AlayneFebruary 5, 2021
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[3.2] I Love You (August 2019)
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Yuri couldn’t help but smile, glancing down at Ryosuke’s fingers fiddling with the edge of the blanket, his head resting over his heart as they lazed about on a Sunday morning. They had a few things to do later that day, but in this moment, they were able to just relax–chosing to stay in bed as long as possible while surfing Youtube videos.

He couldn’t help but feel warm inside–if someone had told him years ago that he’d be married to his best friend in the whole world, living their own style of a ‘perfect’ life–then he would have told them it was impossible…those things might happen, but there was no way it could happen to him.

At least, he’d thought that–and now here he was, Ryosuke’s head moving ever so slightly to the beat of his own heart, and he couldn’t help it, dropping the controller and wrapping his arms around him to squeeze him tightly.

Ryosuke hummed, pushing against his arms to look up at him, “What was that for?”

Yuri couldn’t really put into words all of the feelings running through his mind, just shrugging, “I just love you.”

Ryosuke lifted up a bit further to press a soft, tender kiss to Yuri’s lips, smiling, “I love you too.”

He shuffled to lay back down, his fingers going back to the edge of the blanket while Yuri grabbed the remote to change the video, pausing for a second at one of the suggested videos on the side of it, knowing full well Ryosuke was going to pitch a fit, but it was in reality all his fault.

He did tell me to control the videos.

Without even a hint of remorse he pushed the play button, and at first, it was pretty clear Ryosuke wasn’t paying a bit of attention but he could tell the moment he realized what was playing, his body stiffening, his fingertips crushing the blanket in his hand, emitting a low growl that sounded suspiciously like “Yuri!”

As the series of “I love you” moments from various concerts through the year played on the tv, Ryosuke jerked upright, trying to grab the remote from Yuri who managed to keep it away from him, squealing, “It’s almost over! It’s almost over!”

Ryosuke huffed, throwing himself down on the other side of the bed as the “I love you” echoed in the background, covering his eyes with his arm to hide from the offending words and performances.

When it finally ended, after what he was fairly certain was at least four years minimum, he flung his arm down to look over at Yuri, “You know how much I hate that–I regret ever making the suggestion–I never thought it would become a ‘thing’ at all.”

Yuri laughed softly, “Only you would think that you saying ‘I love you’ to a bunch of fans wouldn’t become a ‘thing’–you’re so naive.”

“Whatever,” Ryosuke shook his head, rolling over onto his side to look at Yuri, his expression softening, “Do you know why I suggested it?”

“Huh?” Yuri scooched down so his eyes were even with Ryosuke’s, lying on his side to face him as well, “What do you mean?”

“I mean when I suggested to say ‘I love you’–do you know how come?”

Yuri blinked, confused, “Ah, you thought it would be cool?”

Ryosuke shook his head, laughing softly, “C’mon, you know me better than to imagine I actually had a burning desire to declare my undying love to the world…”

“That’s…true,” Yuri drew the words out, his mind whirling, “If not that then…”

“It felt like I was saying it to you–like…I know it wasn’t…but…” Ryosuke’s cheeks flamed red, as the memories of the myriad of times he’d said those words rushed through his mind.

Yuri watched him, his eyes wide as he considered the implications of this revelation, “Wait…that was like…I dunno, 2010 or something wasn’t it? That can’t be right!”

Ryosuke couldn’t understand how despite these many years together that Yuri just still couldn’t seem to understand the reality, reaching out to brush his fingertips across his cheek before pulling on his shoulder to make him come closer, “Yuri, I knew the minute I met you–I fell in love with you the second you walked into that room.”

Yuri smiled, shuffling further forward to allow himself to be wrapped in Ryosuke’s arms, his face pressed against his chest, “So, all of those ‘I love you’s are…”

“Yours,” Ryosuke whispered, pressing a soft kiss to Yuri’s forehead.

“All mine,” Yuri mused, “That’s a lot of love.”

Ryosuke laughed softly, “I have a lot of love for you.”

“I won’t ever be able to hear you say those words the same way now,” Yuri admitted.

“What do you mean?” Ryosuke drew back to look down at Yuri.

Yuri tilted his head, his eyes soft, “I mean, I just always thought it was fan service, you know, and secretly, as your number one fan, I always liked to pretend that you were saying it to me too. Now, you say it was always mine…so…now it will be striking me straight in the heart anytime I hear it.”

“Good,” Ryosuke couldn’t help but smile, “It always belonged to you, now you can keep it forever.”

Ryosuke reached over to grab the remote off of Yuri’s pillow where he’d abandoned it, “Now, it’s my turn to find something that I can embarrass you with…”

“You won’t find anything, I have never done anything I am ashamed of,” Yuri whispered, shuffling around to press back up against Ryosuke to see the television as well.

“Oh really? That sounds like a challenge to me,” Ryosuke began to think carefully about what he could search for that would be embarrassing for Yuri…drawing a blank, “Why are you like this?”

“Because I’m me,” Yuri said proudly, “And you love me just the way I am.”

He reached back and snatched the remote out of Ryosuke’s hand before he could stop him, pressing the play button to make the ‘I love you” compilation play again, shushing Ryosuke when he started to protest, “I’m allowed to enjoy this on an entirely different level now, shut up.”

Ryosuke shook his head, realizing he’d just created a monster…and then reached to drag him even closer, pressing a kiss against his head as he smiled, knowing in his heart that Yuri was absolutely right–he wouldn’t have him any other way.


The next day, they were filming the Parade ga Hajimaru PV–they’d arrived together, with Ryosuke hanging out with Yuri as they did his hair and makup since he was the first up to be filmed that morning. Yuri was a little surprised by Ryosuke staying–he would usually go off and find a corner to inconspicuously fall asleep in.

Which would inevitably end up on a video thanks to Yutti but still.

When he was nearly done, Ryosuke cleared his throat, pointing to the door to let Yuri know he was going to go on ahead. Yuri did the slight head nod–they were pretty proud of how sly they were…which was a little stupid because no one would think that they were up to anything at all if Ryosuke had just said “I’m gonna go wait in the studio”…but still, inside secrets were a part of their lives, and it paid for them to be always on alert and cautious so they never would slip up when it would really matter. This was certainly going to become something that mattered far more than just merely protecting poeple from finding out about them…no, it was best to handle things in very specific, clear cut ways…

Work was work.

Home was home.

And apart from when one or both of them were wearing white pants in general they were both able to keep those two seperate.

Well…barely…well, they tried–that has to count for something? It was in some ways becoming more and more difficult to keep things neatly divided, and they both knew in the next year the lines were even more likely to become blurred and unclear. It didn’t matter, they both wanted what they wanted together and that was all that mattered–they were blessed enough to be surrounded by people who not only supported them, but helped them conceal and misdirect people away from their relationship.

Yuri was in a wonderful mood, feeling happy and full of joy at all of the beautiful expectations that lay before them, he thanked the makeup artist and the stylist and headed toward the studio.

As soon as Yuri entered the space he saw Ryosuke talking to the people at the sound board, confused, because this wasn’t one of Ryosuke’s projects, he wasn’t really involved in the back end production so he was a little confused by him still not sleeping.

When he was told where to stand and the director instructed him, saying this was really a very short bit–that they were only going to play a tiny random clip just to get him in the zone–and that he didn’t even need to sing along or anything. The goal was to convey feelings–through his expressions and gestures–not to sing the song but to project those feelings to the camera and thus the fans.

Yuri understood, nodding, unpreprared for when the so called “random” clip began to play–knowing full well this was what Ryosuke had been doing at the sound board.

He couldn’t really be sure what feelings he conveyed…whether it revealed how much he loved that dumb boy or how flattered he was by his continual profound declarations throughout their years of surviving their mutual unrequited love. He wondered if the people there could see how much it effected him, how much his hear swelled, to know how loved he was, how cherished he was–how it felt to be loved by the one person in the world you only ever loved…to have that forever? Could they know?

He was careful to avoid looking toward the staff, knowing that there was a good chance that Ryosuke would be standing with them and in that case, it would be all too possible that perhaps his feelings would be entirely too clear, too apparent. Otherwise, he was sure that Ryosuke was glued to one of the video consoles to watch his reaction–either way…he hoped in his heart that what he felt was conveyed to him, because he figured if Ryosuke had spent the last nine years publicly declaring his love for him–then it would be okay if there was a bit of a reflection of that love that could be discovered in this one moment of time in return.

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Rewrite the Stars–The Greatest Showman

From Now On–The Greatest Showman

They had the day off together finally after weeks of a chaotic schedule that seemed to have them working long hours and barely seeing each other apart from the moments they fell into bed in pure exhaustion, only to wake up and repeat the process again. So, they’d both decided they would stay in their pajamas, order delivery food, and watch movies all day.  

Ryosuke was slumped down on the couch with his legs stretched out to the stool in front of him, while Yuri was bundled up in a soft blanket, curled on his side, with his head laying on a pillow in Ryosuke’s lap where he was contentedly watching the current film while Ryosuke played with his hair. Every once in a while, when Ryosuke’s hand would still, he’d wiggle a tiny bit to jar him and inevitably his hand would start moving again, and all Yuri could think was how completely spoiled he was by Ryosuke.  

They’d decided to make the day one filled with musicals, so they’d drug out their whole collection and were currently watching “The Greatest Showman”—one of their favorites of all time, having watched it so many times at this point they had nearly every single word of it memorized.  

Ryosuke knew what was coming, having a hard time not laughing in advance, as the song “The Other Side” was approaching, and when Zac Efron stood up, the low noise was issued from Yuri as expected, Ryosuke lifted his hand to cover his mouth to hide his smile. 

“I mean damn,” Yuri murmured, glancing up at Ryosuke who was doing his best to pretend to be consumed by the movie, “That boy is fine.” 

“I’m right here,” Ryosuke complained, shoving his shoulder. 

“I mean seriously, look him in that suit…like…those pants,” he made another feral noise causing Ryosuke to shove him straight off the couch without any preamble. 

Yuri squealed, giggling his head off as he crawled back up on the couch, “Oh c’mon, you know I only have eyes for you.” 

Ryosuke pretended to be offended, enjoying the way Yuri’s voice played against the shell of his ear, his mouth kissing the skin of his neck tenderly, “There’s no one but you for me.” 

“Whatever,” Ryosuke smiled when Yuri knew the ‘fight’ was over, shuffling himself back into his original position laying his head back on the pillow in Ryosuke’s lap. 

“He is pretty hot,” Ryosuke said, laughing when Yuri’s fist came up to hit him in the side of the head, squealing, “I’m just saying.” 

“Shut up,” Yuri snapped, hiding his grin behind his amused fury, “The song’s over, we missed the whole thing!” 

“Want me to rewind it so you can watch your boyfriend again?” Ryosuke offered playfully. 

“Nah, if I wanna see a hot guy with a fine ass I’ll just make you walk around the house for me,” Yuri grinned knowing that Ryosuke never knew what to say from those kinds of remarks, just letting him sit there all shocked while he returned his attention to the movie fully.  

They reached the part where Phillip and Anne are going to the theatre, and they run into his parents as they’re entering the lobby, Yuri snuggling closer to Ryosuke as he sighed, “This is so sad…” 

Ryosuke glanced down at him, blinking, trying to make sense of the words, his eyes moving from him to the screen and back again, tilting his head when Yuri spoke again, “It’s like…you know…they love each other but they can’t be together because the world keeps them apart with their hatred.” 

The world keeps them apart with their hatred. 

Reality suddenly intruded on their lazy day together, and Ryosuke felt his feelings drop like a boulder into his tummy, trying to feign a smile when Yuri rolled over onto his back, looking up at him expectantly because he absolutely loved when Ryosuke would sing along to this song—something he always did now that he knew Yuri’s affinity for it.  

Swallowing roughly, Ryosuke tentatively sang the first words, his eyes connected to Yuri’s, “You know I want you—it’s not a secret I try to hideI know you want me, so, don’t keep saying our hands are tied” 

Yuri’s hand reached up to run his fingers through Ryosuke’s hair, a smile tugging at his lips as Ryosuke continued to sing, “You claim it’s not in the cards–fate is pulling you miles away and out of reach from meBut you’re here in my heart so who can stop me if I decide that you’re my destiny?” 

Ryosuke’s voice cracked on the last few words, feeling his throat thickening as the stinging burn of tears prickled his eyes but he shook his head, trying to get rid of them the words a whisper, “What if we rewrite the starssay you were made to be minenothing could keep us apartyou’d be the one I was meant to find. It’s up to you and it’s up to meno one can say what we get to be” 

Ryosuke took a shuddering breath, his hand brushing against Yuri’s cheek, “So why don’t we rewrite the starsmaybe the world could be ours tonight.” 

He didn’t mean for the tears to fall, he didn’t mean to change anything, but Yuri just shushed him when he started to open his mouth, running his fingers across his jaw to swipe the tears away, his voice soft as he sang the lyrics in return, his brows drawn down, and Ryosuke’s heart clenched, because for a moment there was something so raw and vulnerable in Yuri’s eyes when they lifted to look at him, “You think it’s easyyou think I don’t want to run to you? But there are mountains and there are doors that we can’t walk throughI know you are wondering why because we are able to be just you and me within these wallsbut when we go outside, you’re gonna wake up and see that it was hopeless after all.” 

Ryosuke thread his fingers through Yuri’s holding his hand against his chest as he broke eye contact, as if the moment was too loaded with emotions to address it, rolling over onto his side to face the tv again, dragging Ryosuke’s hand under his arm to hold it against his own chest. Ryosuke could feel his heart pounding wildly against his hand, and he knew Yuri felt it too, the weight, the sheer magnitude of their lives together, the thing they try to pretend isn’t there–the thing they are able to keep away when they’re within the safe walls of their own home…their voices soft as they sang the next part of the song together.  

No one can rewrite the stars
How can you say you’ll be mine
Everything keeps us apart
And I’m not the one you were meant to find
It’s not up to you
It’s not up to me
When everyone tells us what we can be
How can we rewrite the stars
Say that the world can be ours
Tonight

Hmm… 

Ryosuke’s mind swirled with their own situation, the way they are held back from being who they want to be because of the world around them…in reality, how are they any different than the two characters on the screen? 

He leaned forward, over Yuri who turned his head to look up to him, freeing his hand to cup his cheek as he sang, “All I want is to fly with you…” 

Yuri joined him, his fingers threading into the hair at the nape of his neck, “All I want is to fall with youSo, just give me all of you–” 

Yuri shook his head, “It feels impossible.” 

It’s not impossible,” Ryosuke reassured him. 

Is it impossible?” Yuri asked softly, “Say that it’s possible…” 

Their voices flowing in perfected harmony from years of singing together, their eyes locked together,  

How do we rewrite the stars say you were made to be mine
Nothing can keep us apart
Cause you are the one I was meant to find
It’s up to you
And it’s up to me
No one can say what we get to be
Why don’t we rewrite the stars

Ryosuke’s body lurched forward, curling around Yuri’s protesting head as his hand shot out to grab the remote, scrambling to pause the movie, then turning to look at Yuri, who had lifted up onto his elbows, his face nearly crashing into Ryosuke’s when he turned back around, causing them both to laugh.  

Ryosuke shifted into the floor, his smile soft as he reached up to cradle Yuri’s head in his hands, Yuri’s mouth opened to say something about how confused he was but before he could, Ryosuke had closed the tiny distance between them to press a tender, chaste kiss to his lips silencing him.  

Ryosuke’s eyes were wide with sincerity, his expression soft and warm as he pulled back just far enough to say the words, “Marry me.” 

Yuri’s eyes twinkled in amusement, unsure of what Ryosuke was on about, “Funny thing, but I thought I already agreed to that?” Yuri lifted his hand up and waved it beside their heads, “I have a ring and everything to prove it.” 

Ryosuke’s body was trembling under the weight of the thoughts rushing through his mind, “Yeah, yeah, sure, but I mean, let’s do it!” 

“Do…what?” Yuri pressed on Ryosuke’s chest, trying to get him to move back a little bit so he could get a better look at him, get a better read on what he was actually saying. 

Ryosuke shuffled backward quickly, standing up, like the energy he was feeling was too powerful to sit still, his voice frantic, his hands gesturing outward like he needed Yuri to understand this and how important it was, “Let’s get married…” 

“Uh, that would be great but there’s that nagging little issue of the fact that our own country would never let us,” Yuri waved him off, confused to why Ryosuke seemed to be talking so passionately about something that was completely impossible—no matter what some romantic song might say.  

“But—Ree…we could! We can, don’t you understand?” Ryosuke implored him to somehow grasp the reality. 

Yuri sighed, rolling his eyes, pretty much dismissing him entirely as he laid back down, propping himself up on the discarded pillow against the arm of the couch, “Right, okay…right now?” 

“Well, I mean,” Ryosuke paced across the living room and back, his mind whirling, “…as soon as we can, we could do it.” 

“Ryosuke…”  

“Hmmm…” Ryosuke stopped at the tone Yuri had said his name, waiting expectantly. 

“What are you doing,” Yuri tried to keep the hurt from his voice but he knew perfectly well he was doing a terrible job, shaking his head, “Why…why do you do this?” 

“What? Do what? I just…” Ryosuke was trying to get the right words to come out but there were so many words he needed to say, “I think we should do it!” 

Do what?” 

“Get married!” Ryosuke was exasperated, throwing his hands up into the air, “We should get married!” 

Yuri sat up, elbows on his knees as he rest his head in his hands, staring at the floor as he pulled on the ends of his hair, “Why do you keep bringing this up?” 

Ryosuke stopped moving, at first bristling at the idea that he brought this up very often, in fact, he wanted to defend himself against this notion because they’d talk about it every single day if not for his amazing self-control. He stepped closer to Yuri, not understanding his posture or tone, “What do you mean?” 

“I mean…you bring it up and I don’t understand why, it’s like…” Yuri looked up at him then and Ryosuke’s stomach dropped when he saw the pain reflected in his eyes, “It’s like you have a personal mission of torture yourself, and me…or something.” 

“Wha–” 

Yuri snapped, his tone sharp and angry, pushing Ryosuke’s hand away when he reached out to touch him, “Stop! It hurts me, do you hear me? It makes me hurt…I know it hurts you too! So, just you stop it!” 

“Ree, what are you talking about?” Ryosuke’s voice was barely a whisper as he drew his hand back, shocked at Yuri not letting him console him, something completely unlike his normal reaction, making him worried, unsure of what was happening but knowing he didn’t like it. 

Yuri sighed, a tear making a slow path down his cheek as he stared at Ryosuke, “I mean, I know you know this—but Ryosuke, you know as well as I do that we can’t get married! We absolutely CAN NOT get married,” he shook his head, his hand shooting up to scrub violently at the tears that he hated with every fiber of his soul, “So, please, tell me why you keep acting like we can–I mean, I thought you would get the idea out of your system and eventually accept the facts, but…you do know we can’t get married, right?” 

“Yuri!” Ryosuke slid onto the couch, pushing Yuri’s body into the cushions, his hands grabbing Yuri’s face so he couldn’t look away, “Of course we can! What are you talking about?!” 

Yuri tried to shake his head, but it was impossible, “I’m sorry, but one of us has to be the realist here and it’s usually you so this is a strange turn of events for me, but honestly,” he laughed but there was no humor in it, another tear falling from his eyes, “Our reality is that it’s not legal for us to get married in Japan.” 

“So!” Ryosuke’s voice was so loud it made Yuri jump in surprise, squirming when Ryosuke dragged him into his arms in a hug, whispering, “Sorry, I’m so sorry,” pressing a kiss to his cheek before speaking, “But…Ree, honestly, who cares what Japan says?” 

Yuri tried to understand the words he was saying but he might as well have been speaking alien, his eyes wide when Ryosuke released him, intently focused on him, “Yuri, there is a huge world outside of these walls, beyond these borders, there is a world with unlimited possibilities.” 

Ryosuke studied Yuri, trying to sense whether he was understanding what he was trying to tell him, but then he tilted his head, “Wait…wha…what in the world did you think we were doing? That I was doing with that ring?” 

Yuri shrugged, his voice growing weaker the more he talked from the darkening of Ryosuke’s expression, “Saying you would marry me if you could, but since you can’t…It was just a really beautiful gesture…” 

Ryosuke frowned, his hands dropping, eyes bouncing from the ring on his finger to Yuri, holding his hand up, “And this ring? From you?” 

Yuri felt ashamed but he was confused as to the why of it, he didn’t like this conversation, didn’t like not understanding what was happening and why it felt like he was doing something wrong, he didn’t really want to answer him, not at all, because there was hurt around the edge of Ryosuke’s expression and he didn’t want to make him hurt more than he already somehow was, his voice clipped, “Ryosuke, I mean, that’s the same thing, I want to marry you, you know that…I know you know that…”  

His voice faded off, his hand rubbing his chest where it hurt, looking back up at Ryosuke, frustrated with the pain he was feeling, with the way Ryosuke’s expression was making him feel, “You KNOW damn well I want to marry you, I do, but we can’t…it’s illegal and besides that what with the agency and society and all that crazy stuffs I mean, we can’t get married, it’s not possible.” 

Ryosuke clenched his eyes closed, trying to gather his thoughts, his voice firm, “Yuri, my intention has always been to actually marry you.” 

Yuri blinked innocently, unsure of what Ryosuke was trying to get him to understand, “Listen to me, Ree, like, honestly, I don’t give a fuck about the agency or society or hell, apparently, laws–I want you to be my husband in any way we can, whatever form it takes, it will be real–I mean, honestly, I don’t understand what you thought I was doing here…” 

Yuri tilted his head, trying to process what he was saying, “But…” 

Ryosuke laughed, because Yuri’s expression was so soft, so small, so sincere he wanted to just hug him close and never ever let him go, he shuffled forward until his nose was touching Yuri’s, his voice soft and tender as he spoke, “Chiisana, I’ve researched, and we might not be able to be married in Japan but we can go to so many other countries who will marry us, sure, the marriage won’t be recognized by Japan, yet,” he paused, making sure Yuri understood his emphasis, “Yet,” he waited for Yuri to nod in understanding before he continued, “But…for me…Ree, for me, at least, it would be real.” 

A twinkle of hope flickered behind Yuri’s eyes and when Ryosuke spoke the next words it was like a world of possibilities opened up within his once limited world view, “Chinen Yuri, it would be real for me. You would be my husband and I would be yours.” 

Yuri couldn’t get words to form, couldn’t make his thoughts get into the proper order for a coherent thought, watching as Ryosuke’s expression morphed through several emotions before he frowned, swallowing roughly, his eyes moving away from Yuri’s face to look at the button on his shirt, his voice weak when he whispered, “Ree, wouldn’t it be real for you?” 

Yuri felt like the world was closing in on them, and he needed Ryosuke to know, without any doubt, if in the next moment all of time and space came to an end, he desperately needed him to know the truth, his fingertips tracing the edge of his jaw before cupping his cheeks, forcing his face up to look at him clearly, his voice soft, “You stupid boy, of course it would be real for me.” 

He watched as Ryosuke’s shoulders released the tension he’d been holding there, almost visibly falling away from him as Yuri’s eyebrows drew down, confused, “…but…could we…are you saying we could really do that?” 

“That’s what I’m saying,” Ryosuke laughed, kissing him quickly, then continuing, “Yeah, we can go to France, or somewhere else in Europe, there’s a few places there, or like we can go to Hawaii, any of these places, there’s a lot of them! They’d let us get married and it would be real.” 

Yuri looked at him in wonder, “It would be real? Like genuinely real?” 

“Yes, it would be completely real.” 

It would be real. 

Yuri’s eyes flew wide open, his voice high and fast, his whole body bouncing up and down in excitement, causing Ryosuke’s body to jostle on the couch beside him, “I want that…I want that, Ryosuke! I want that!” 

Ryosuke grabbed him into a hug, Yuri’s arms clenching tightly around him, smiling broadly when Ryosuke affirmed, laughing, “Okay, then we’ll do that!” 

Ryosuke grabbed both of Yuri’s hands, realizing at some point he must have hit the remote causing the movie to have been playing behind him, and when he heard the song playing, he couldn’t stop himself—dragging Yuri up off the couch. 

“Ryosuke!” Yuri squealed as he was yanked to his feet and pulled to the side of the room where Ryosuke began dancing with him, putting some of his fancy dance lessons to good use—the very same private lessons Ryosuke had forced them to attend together, because he refused to have any other partner. 

When Ryosuke swung him outward, Yuri found himself rendered breathless, his eyes bright with excitement as the words played in the air around them.  

From now on 
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights 
From now on 
What’s waited ’til tomorrow starts tonight 
Tonight 
Let this promise in me start 
Like an anthem in my heart 
From now on 
From now on 

“Wait,” Yuri pushed against Ryosuke as he spun him back into his chest, the air pushed out of his lungs sharply at how strong Ryosuke’s arms were on him as he held him, but Ryosuke wouldn’t let him go, giving up, he asked the question with his face buried in his chest, “What are we waiting for?” 

Ryosuke drew back, and then spun him to the side and outward again, his eyebrows drawn down in confusion, “What do you mean?” 

Yuri managed to not fall when Ryosuke took up a new step, sweeping him around the room, “I mean if we can get married why aren’t we already!? I want to marry you; don’t you want to marry me?” 

“God,” Ryosuke shook his head, twirling them again, “You know there’s nothing I want more than to marry you.” 

For years and years 
I chased their cheers 
The crazy speed of always needing more 
But when I stop 
And see you here 
I remember who all this was for 

“Then marry me! Let’s get married!!!” Yuri’s enthusiasm was barreling out of control, seemingly growing at the music surrounding them sped up and grew into the crescendo, and Ryosuke figured he needed to make sure they ended up on the same page.  

Or at least the same chapter. 

Because at this point, he wasn’t entirely sure they were even in the same book. 

“Okay, okay,” Ryosuke stopped dancing, releasing Yuri he held his hands up, moving them in a way that usually calmed down wild animals or children, his voice soothing, “But, Ree, we have to plan…we can’t just…I mean…” 

“You just said we could! Let’s go!” Yuri demanded, causing Ryosuke to laugh when his foot lifted and slammed to the floor in his demand, his head tilting to the side, eyes narrowing as he weighed whether or not Ryosuke was actually trying to change what he’d just said. 

“We can! I mean but we can’t just take off to go overseas we have to pla–” 

“How long?” Yuri snapped, leaning closer to Ryosuke’s face to make sure he could see his eyes clearly. 

“Wha–” 

“HOW LONG do you need to plan a real wedding?” Yuri’s body was moving to the rhythm of the song, bouncing in place and Ryosuke wondered how different this moment might be without that song playing in the background. 

At least it might be a little more sane.  

Ryosuke hadn’t missed the way Yuri had worded that, unsurprised that Yuri had no intentions of being involved in planning anything, yet, he honestly had no idea, a million lists running through his mind of all of the different things that would have to take place, reluctantly admitting, “Umm…a few…month–” 

These eyes will not be blinded by the lights!
From now on!
What’s waited ’til tomorrow starts tonight!
It starts tonight!

“WEEKS.”  

The word hung in the air, as if he were a queen telling the court guards to take off a prisoner’s head, Yuri pulled his head back, daring Ryosuke to argue, “Make it weeks.” 

Ryosuke stared at him for a moment, dumbfounded, then paced quickly across the space, his mind whirling, “Umm…I…I dunno how long it would…there’s so many factors, there’s a lot we have to consider, and we would have to go to th–” 

He nearly ran over top of Yuri who had moved closer to him while his back was turned and blocked his path, his hands shooting out to grab his upper arms to keep from knocking him down. Yuri reached up to take Ryosuke’s hands, “You can do it,” Yuri’s voice was soft, the authoritative tone completely absent as he grabbed Ryosuke’s hands to lead him to the couch, making him sit down, as he climbed up onto his lap, straddling him. 

He rest his hands on Ryosuke’s shoulders before he leaned forward to press his cheek against his own, his voice soft in his ear, “Tell me–for an incredibly talented internationally acclaimed actor and idol…” 

Yuri pressed a soft kiss to Ryosuke’s cheek before he continued, “An idol who has what I honestly think must be an obscene amount of money that he keeps tucked away safely because he doesn’t ever spend it on much of anything and who wants to marry the guy he loves…” 

Yuri drew back, his eyes twinkling as he ran his fingers through Ryosuke’s hair, tugging on the ends of it, making him wiggle with chills before he drew them forward to hold his face, leaning infinitely closer, “For that guy, for that guy who knows so many people, has connections across all avenues of various industries, and knows how to properly pull strings because even though he lives in complete denial through his day to day life of this fact…” 

He leaned forward, gently kissing him, his lips nipping softly at Ryosuke’s before he opened his eyes, his voice like a praise and a demand, a bribe and an oath all in one, “For that guy who wields unbelievable star power with his name alone…for that guy…” he tilted his head, pressing another series of soft tender kisses against Ryosuke’s lips, drawing back enough to speak, his lips still fluttering against Ryosuke’s as he spoke the words, “For that guy how long would it take him to plan our wedding?” 

“A…a few weeks probably…” Ryosuke mumbled, confused by the spell he felt he was under, the influence of Yuri’s charm a powerful force. 

“A few weeks then?” Yuri spoke and his voice was back to normal, leaning past Ryosuke to get his cellphone from the table, tapping the screen as his brows drew down, completely ignoring when Ryosuke’s hands moved up his legs to rest on his hips, his fingertips digging into them in frustration. 

“Valentine’s day…it’s 23 days from now, and an international holiday so it would be an awesome anniversary date,” Yuri announced, moving the phone a bit so he could see Ryosuke’s face, “That work?” 

“But Ree I don’t kn–” 

“I know you can do it!” 

I can?” 

“I know you can.” 

“I dunn–” Ryosuke’s words were cut off, his eyes narrowing as he watched Yuri’s face transform, the gorgeous, powerful, sexy man who was there moments before turning into a tiny puppy right before his eyes, causing Ryosuke to groan, swiping his hand down his face in frustration, hissing violently, “Damn it, Ree.” 

“For me?” Yuri blinked his eyes softly, fluttering his lashes as his bottom lip slowly drew into the perfected pout, “For me, your precious Chiisana, you could, couldn’t you?” 

Ryosuke sighed, knowing resistance was utterly futile, “I would do anything for you, you know that…” 

Yuri smiled so brightly that Ryosuke wondered how he wasn’t blinded by it, his entire form radiating with pure light and happiness, and he knew he’d do anything for him, no matter what it was, no matter how impossible, grinning when Yuri shifted backwards, sliding off his legs into the floor on his knees, his voice soft when he spoke again, looking at him with the softest expression, “Then…marry me.” 

Ryosuke leaned forward, running his hands across Yuri’s shoulders before one of his hands cupped the back of his head, drawing him forward to press his lips against Yuri’s in a searing kiss, taking his time to try to express how he was feeling, and then when Yuri was completely breathless, a puddle of messy feelings there on the floor, he drew back, the words soft against his skin, “You marry me?” 

“Yes.” 

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[2.2] Me & You (NYE 2014-15)
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The past few days had been utterly exhausting and all Ryosuke could think about was the fact that everything with Yuri was still really off. In all fairness, they were both exhausted, not the normal type of ‘I’m a little tired’, no, this was different…they were both stressed—what with all of their responsibilities from the last few months—they were all stretched pretty thin.

Add on top of that normal work related stress the fact that there was something weird going on between them—neither of them feeling ‘quite right’ with one another causing everything in their lives to feel a little more raw, a bit more dramatic, and almost like the lens has been thrown out of focus but you don’t realize it right away because it’s just a bit wrong on the edge where you’d not be able to notice right away.

It was New Years Eve and as usual Jump was scheduled to perform for the countdown—something the usually look forward to—but the truth was, the mood that the two of them had been in seemed to be somehow contagious and most of the Jump members were not quite…right.

Ryosuke glanced over to the side, a little way down the stage and could see Yuri looking out over the audience, his hips swaying  a tiny bit to the music the other group was performing out at the middle stage. He looked absolutely adorable in his suit tonight and Ryosuke had given him the biggest smooch ever before the were called to the stage earlier, promising him that after tonight everything was going to be okay, to just go out here and do his best.

Yuri’s just really exhausted…we didn’t really have any time between the end of the tour and rehearsals for the dome performances, and then it was straight into rehearsals for today, which has been insane.

But he’s so…mad at me all the time, it’s like I can’t do anything right these days.

Plus…he’s most definitely still keeping things from me…he never does that.

Christmas is over, so even the slight chance it had something to do with a gift is long gone now.

But no..just…stop this!

I’m reading way too much into it again, everything fine, he’s stressed, we all are, it’s fine…stop being stupid.

Unless it’s not fine…why would he have struggles and issues he didn’t think he could share with me?

Why would he confide in other people and not in me?

We’re closer than this…I know we are…I just…I don’t understand.

He took a deep breath, clenching his eyes shut as he tried to center himself again, after all he was working, and he couldn’t afford to get caught up inside his own mind like this.

It’s fine, now, get your head in the game!

This is work.

Right. Work. Now.

He glanced to the side again, hoping that seeing Yuri would help him get back to being focused—maybe a gesture, something to say he might be thinking of him as well. He had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop from swearing when he discovered instead of Yuri even remotely thinking of him, he was standing still, speaking softly to Daiki, which was really grating on his last nerve because frankly–Daiki was one of Ryosuke’s dearest friends, but the truth was, Yuri didn’t really speak to him when they weren’t together. It wasn’t because there were any issues or anything there—nothing controversial or anything–it was mostly because Daiki made it impossible to fade into the background. Anyone who knew Yuri knew that his favorite spot to be when he wasn’t firmly in the spotlight in his idol form was perfectly hidden in the shadows.

No, he wouldn’t normally have much to do with Daiki, because he was exuberant, excitable, and always talking far too loudly to be in the shadows—rather his child-like enthusiasm for…well, pretty much everything meant that Yuri only hung out with him when there were other people to buffer between them. But for a while now, Yuri had been really attached to Daiki, spending a lot of time talking to him, working on projects and things, and Daiki had done a whole lot of filling in for things that Ryosuke would normally take care of like driving Yuri places and things of that nature due to Ryosuke’s incredibly busy schedule.

He didn’t mind their friendship, in fact, under normal circumstances, he’d highly encourage it—it wasn’t good for Yuri to be so dependent on him and getting him to open up to others was really important. Yuri needed people he could trust, and those who would understand him the way Daiki seemed to. No, it wasn’t something based in jealousy or worry, it just seemingly added to the mystery of the distance between them is all—just another unmatching piece of the puzzle that his life seemed to be these days—because their friendship seemed to blossom almost simultaneously with the overall strange behavior and lies began.

Ryosuke had gotten lost in his thoughts, staring over at the other two boys when, Yuri’s eyes drifted over Daiki’s shoulder, latching onto his own.

Ryosuke tilted his head when Yuri’s eyes widened slightly, and then frowned when Yuri’s eyes flashed quickly back to Daiki and he shifted, it was a small amount of movement, but it cut off Ryosuke’s view of him completely. Ryosuke stared at the back of Daiki’s head for a moment, his stomach falling out again as it had been doing regularly for several days now.

Doubts, as they are wont to do had been filling his mind for the last week.

Something’s wrong.

Really wrong.

Maybe he’s tired of me?

No, my goodness, don’t be stupid, he loves you!

I love him! Oh, God, how much I love him!

Maybe he’s just…maybe he is looking around and wondering what we’re doing, where we’re going?

Maybe he’s bored with me?

Maybe he thinks I don’t want to be with him forever?

Maybe he thinks I’m tired of him?

Maybe I’m taking too long to make this declaration to him?

Maybe I’m moving too fast and he’s scared of it?

How can I do this right?

How can I know the perfect time?

Maybe he just doesn’t feel that way about me anymore?

People change?

Don’t they?

Sometimes they grow apart?

But no…not us, we’re not like that…we’re not, I know we aren’t.

I mean…before…I was really stupid about that?

I mean he was really hurt by me not being forward with my feelings about things—right?

He actually thought I didn’t care about him and want to be with him…could…could that be what’s happened?

Could I have waited TOO long now?

SHUT UP.

Oh my gosh, just shut up, everything is fine, stop being stupid.

My own mind is my worst enemy.

He loves me, I love him.

Everything is good.

Even if he’s been worried about where our relationship is going, I’m gonna fix that tonight—I will make sure he understands, and everything will be okay!

Then I’m gonna make him tell me what is going on.

We have a week off work after today—I want everything to be perfect.

All of this nonsense is just a product of your nervousness and nothing more…stop being an idiot!

Besides, in a few hours, everything is going to be clear—at least as clear as I can make it.

His hand drifted across the edge of his coat, the fabric inlaid with some kind of metallic gold thread that was scratchy on his fingertips, grazing across his waist to dip his hand into his pocket, his fingers checking for the millionth time to ensure that the ring was still there. He slid the metal through his fingers as he felt the smooth surface, then smiled when he felt the tell-tale rise of the stone.

Still safe.

He’d spent over a month designing it, then worked with one of the staff who had a family member who was a jewelry artisan, Nakamura-san, who had crafted the ring perfectly. Ryosuke designed it to use genuine authentic crushed meteorite to create the inner band—the part Yuri would likely wear the most–something that he knew Yuri was absolutely going to lose his mind over, of course, which presented as a basic black band that wouldn’t draw much attention to the ring.

To make the design more compelling, he’d also designed a fancy inset to hold the band, something Yuri could wear when he wanted, that would make the ring a little more decorative. It held a one of a kind topaz gem stone that he’d handpicked himself.

‘Topaz is a true expression of fire energy–representing love and passion’ is what Nakamura-san had told Ryosuke when he’d been trying to decide on what gemstone to put as the main focus of the ring. As soon as he described it, he knew that it was the perfect one—Yuri was the epitome of a fiery personality—and surely the fact it was aligned with love and passion, something he and Yuri certainly had abounding in their relationship—well, he’d doubted if he could have found a better match for them.

The entire set was made in platinum, a color he knew looked good with Yuri’s skin, and all in all, despite being absolutely beautiful, it was understated enough he felt like most people would never guess what it was.

He couldn’t wait to see what Yuri thought of it!

The last two months had been filled with so many ideas, just honestly, he’d thought of a million ways to propose, some of them simple, others quite elaborate, after all, Ryosuke felt absolutely certain that Yuri deserved every single bit of whatever he could come up with for putting up with him.

Then, this morning, even with the worries and concerns about the text messages and the New Year’s concert that evening, when they were eating breakfast and Yuri was standing there with his hip against the counter, one arm crossed across his tummy as the other one leaned on it for support, nibbling on his sweet roll, all Ryosuke could think was that this was where he belonged—right there beside him—looking so adorable, so precious…so utterly right. Yuri needed to be there, right there with him, every morning for as long as they lived. His heart had soared, and he couldn’t help to think…this would mark the end of one year and the start of a new one–and suddenly, he felt a surety in his very soul that he should not let one more day pass before asking Yuri.

Not one more day.

So, despite the million ways he could do this that would reflect how much thought and care and wonder he wanted to express—he decided it didn’t matter—he just HAD to have that ring on Yuri’s finger. He knew that it was impractical—that they couldn’t really “officially” get married, but…well, even if they never figured out a better way, then… at least, they would have this…that’s all.

He turned to the audience who were still cheering for other groups at the moment, allowing them to think his smile was surely about their presence and it was, of course, in its own way, yet, at this moment all he could think about was one hour from now. Once the New Year was heralded in, they would all be disbursed to change, and in that chaos, he intended to drag Yuri away and as soon as possible after midnight, he’d ask.

Ask.

He felt his knees tremble, and all he could think was what if…what if this isn’t what he wants?

He glanced back over to find Yuri standing still looking at him. He tilted his head, blinking rapidly, and wished for a moment they could speak, that he could ask him to please tell him what was happening, what was wrong—why he couldn’t share whatever burden he was carrying with him. In truth, despite being so aggravated with Yuri over it—Ryosuke couldn’t help but feel somehow responsible—like there was something he had done, something he’d perhaps said, that made Yuri feel like he had to keep secrets from him.

Everything is good, Yuri’s going through something, obviously, and my goal is to support him and love him through it no matter what…and whatever it is, no matter what, we’ll deal with that together.

Like we deal with everything else.

Just this morning he’d awoken from a terrible nightmare where everything was dark and he could hear Yuri’s voice calling out to him, but no matter how hard or fast he ran, he couldn’t reach him–and he’d been inconsolable, his breath ragged as he tried to shake off the dream, and he’d jumped when Yuri’s hand had touched his wrist. He’d sat up and his arm had wrapped around him, pulling him closer.

“Another dream?” Yuri had asked, his voice still soft with sleep.

“Y-yes,” Ryosuke scrubbed at his eyes, willing away the visions of emptiness that were flashing through his mind’s eye.

“Why are you having so many nightmares lately, Ryo?”

“I-I don’t know…” He wanted to say ’because you’re not acting normal with me anymore, and I feel like while I’m preparing to spend the rest of my life with you, everything I do seems to push you further away’, but instead, he just turned his head and smiled at Yuri, “Everything’s fine, I’m just stressed.”

Yuri’s expression made it clear that he clearly didn’t believe him, his eyes narrowing slightly, and then he shrugged, falling back onto his pillow and huffing, “Whatever you say…”

Despite seeming upset, when Ryosuke had laid back down, facing the opposite of Yuri he had to smile when he felt Yuri’s hand, soft on his back as he slowly rubbed it to sooth him back to sleep.

When he finally woke up again, Ryosuke knew…felt with absolution in his heart, he had to stop putting off the one thing he wanted the most in the whole world, and once he’d made up his mind–he could feel the slow countdown to the moment he’d ask Yuri to be with him forever.

Yuri was staring at Ryosuke, the way he was looking out at the crowd, the smile on his face, beautiful–yet, he’d not seen it personally for many weeks. It seemed to him that something had changed, sometime in the last month or so…and to him, at least, it felt like he was hiding something.

I know he’s hiding something.

It’s not like I’m not hiding something.

It could be nothing.

Or it could be anything.

Everything.

Could be he is reacting to knowing I’m not telling him the truth.

Ryosuke is stupidly intuitive toward me…maybe he realized I was lying…maybe…he is mad at me.

Nah, I’ve been super stealthy, he couldn’t possibly be onto me!

Could he be reconsidering us? Our future?

Is he…gonna say no to me?

Did I misjudge everything?

Stop that!

He’s hiding something but that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with us.

It doesn’t mean it has anything to do with us.

With me.

Yuri had not changed his standards, despite wanting to pry, or snoop, he didn’t dig into Ryosuke’s privacy, or check his phone because what in the world would that mean? He trusted Ryosuke, their entire relationship was built on utter and complete trust, and faith in one another. Yet, he’d wanted to—which was frustrating to him on a level he hadn’t expected. If he could have done it without debilitating guilt, he would have. He tried to talk to him, but part of him was so afraid of what he might find out he didn’t really try–he just felt certain that he was hiding something, and that alone had been driving him to the brink of insanity.

Something is wrong, I wish I could understand what it was.

Ryosuke smiled at Yuri, but it was met with a pensive stare and then they were in motion, the last song beginning and they both snapped into their professional mode, setting aside their relationship worries for a time when they were not working.

As the gathered masses celebrated the New Year, the members of the many groups were in chaos as they moved through the maze of hallways to their dressing rooms, and somehow in the confusion Ryosuke had lost sight of Yuri.

He moved quickly, apologizing when he ran into another Johnny, his eyes frantically searching through the crowd, calling out loudly, “Yuri!”

He knew there was little hope of spotting him, short as he was among the people, grabbing Hikaru as he went by him, “Have you seen Yuri?”

Hikaru shook his head, “No, sorry!”

Ryosuke released his arm, nodding, and then turning around to walk back the way he’d come, wondering if perhaps he’d been held up on stage for something, then he heard it, his name called out.

He turned around, his eyes scanning the crowd and saw him, his hand waving above the others, his voice frantic, “Ryosuke!”

He did his best to not shove the other Johnny’s out of the way to get to Yuri, who seemed completely unnerved when he finally reached him, his eyes wide, his hands shaking, and Ryosuke was done with this nonsense, determined to get to the bottom of what was going on–and ideally, to get that ring on Yuri’s finger.

Ryosuke grabbed his hand, not stopping as he rushed forward, dragging him down the hallway toward their dressing room.

“Ryo,” Yuri cried out, “Wait, I w—want to talk to you!”

“We’re going to talk,” Ryosuke called back, glad when they cleared the last of the people, his hand opening the dressing room door, and then he was suddenly jerked backward, Yuri having stopped firmly in place.

Ryosuke twisted around to look at him, Yuri’s eyes narrowing, “I said I want to talk to you!”

“Damn it, Ree,” Ryosuke snapped, taking a deep breath to calm down, his nerves dancing on edge, his voice still coming out too shrill, too cross, “That’s what we’re gonna do!”

“Don’t you dare use that tone with me after the way you’ve been acting Yamada Ryosuke!” Yuri seethed, his finger coming up and poking Ryosuke sharply in the chest.

Ryosuke’s free hand moved up to rub the spot where he’d poked him, his eyes narrowing at him using his full name like that because he never did that, not ever, and it served as just another example of how weird things had become between them. Frustration flared up at how things were suddenly spinning out of control, when all he wanted to do was tell Yuri how much he loved him, the words flying out of his mouth without his permission, his voice low, “What the hell are you talking about? ME!? The way I have been acting? Really?”

Yuri frowned at the attitude he’d used, trying to jerk his hand free, “Yes! Look at how you’re acting right now!”

The words were a hiss, both of them fully aware of how many ears there were in these hallways but unable to stop themselves once they’d gotten started. Ryosuke stepped into Yuri, his face so close he could feel his breath on his face, “Chinen, I swear to all that is good and holy—will you just listen to me! Just come with me and I’ll explain everything.”

Chinen!” Yuri’s voice was scathing, scoffing at the formality of the name, knowing Ryosuke reserved it for when he was really trying to get under his skin, “No! You’ll explain now!”

“That’s enough!” Daiki’s voice was loud, causing them to both jump, startled, this unprecedented outburst shocking them both into silence.

Daiki shook his head, pushing the two of them into the group’s empty dressing room before they could make a bigger scene than they already had, giving them both a good shove in his frustration, hissing, “You two need to stop this! Right now!”

The boys stared at Daiki with wide eyes, as he hissed, “You’re both being damn idiots, and if you don’t get this over with right this minute I swear to Go—”

Ryosuke dropped Yuri’s hand, darting forward to shove a protesting Daiki out of the room in a flurry of batting limbs and shuffling feet, his eyes wide, his mouth open in shock when the door slammed in front of him, leaving him standing out in the hall alone. He tilted his head when he heard the lock engage, and then smiled, leaning forward to press his ear against the door.

Ryosuke turned to face Yuri after locking the door, leaning his back on the door for support for a moment, feeling the swelling nervousness, the pit of his stomach rolling as he felt like the ground was shifting under him, taking a deep breath, the terrifying reality that he was about to change their lives forever—without fully knowing where Yuri stood right now.

He’s worth any risk.

He took a deep breath, blinking to stop the tears that were threatening to flow, “I’m begging you, Ree, please, I want to talk to you, I do, that was always the plan.”

Yuri studied Ryosuke’s face, his heart beating wildly in his chest because this was him, this was his Ryosuke.

The Ryosuke he knows and loves.

My Ryosuke.

“O-okay,” Yuri nodded, suddenly wanting to reach out and console Ryosuke, to calm him down, “Okay.”

Ryosuke nodded sharply, stepping forward to close the distance between them, ignoring all the rowdy noises from the post-midnight celebrations happening among the groups and staff throughout the building, beyond the door separating them.

He swallowed roughly because there was no doubt, certainly, this was nothing like the opulent, lovely space he would have dreamed of doing this, yet, he had decided–he would not go another hour without having Yuri’s promise.

He took a deep breath, steeling his nerves, trying to calm down, to stop shaking, his heart thundering in his chest, “Yuri, I..”

“Ryo, I…”

They both burst into nervous laughter, shaking their heads, Ryosuke reaching forward, just needing to feel the connection to Yuri as he linked his pinkie finger with his own, “Go ahead.”

“No,” Yuri sighed softly, his eyes not having left Ryosuke’s since they’d entered the room, “I–I want to know what is happening, you…please, Ryo-chan…”

Please just love me.

Please still be my Ryosuke.

Please…I need you.

Please…I love you.

Please…I can’t survive without you.

“…Please, tell me what is going on…”

“I…I’m sorry, Ree…” Ryosuke tried to calm his nerves, not liking the way his voice was shaking…his hand reached into his pocket, running against the smooth edge of the ring, feeling a sense of peace falling over him, “I..If I was acting anything other than…me…I’m sorry, it’s just that I was…I had planned…to tell you…”

“Oh my God,” Yuri pulled his finger from Ryosuke’s, shrinking backward, because his tone, it sounded so formal, so final, the words a whimper, “This is it, there really is something going on isn’t there…”

“Wh–what?”

“Are you….what is it? What are you…hiding from me? I’ve been so…scared….” Yuri’s words were a jumbled mess, but Ryosuke didn’t have any trouble piecing together the meaning given the fact that it mirrored his own insecurities so much.

“Wh–what!?” Ryosuke didn’t mean to say the word so loudly, practically screeching it like a scream, immediately regretful when Yuri flinched from the pitch and tone causing Ryosuke to shuffle forward, his hands moving to rest on Yuri’s shoulders, leaning his head down to look him straight in the eyes, “I didn’t mean to make you worry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Ree…it’s nothing bad, I promise!”

Ryosuke couldn’t help but laugh, shaking his head, and then sobering, his voice soft when he spoke again, “Besides, it’s not me, it’s not me who’s been so strange, after all, it’s you! You’ve been acting weird for a while now, you know?”

“I haven’t…I most certainly have not!” Yuri scowled, his brows drawn down in confusion, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Getting texts and calls at work, I knew you didn’t have gymnastics practice…and then I realized you’d taken your GPS out of my phone…you wouldn’t look me in the eyes for the last four days! Yuri—what’s going on with you? You know you can tell me anything, right? I swear, whatever you think, you can tell me anything, I am here, and I don’t ever want you to think you have to hide things from me.”

“I didn’t…no…wait, I didn’t do–I didn’t mean to…” Yuri swallowed hard, realizing he’d definitely not been as smooth as he thought, “It’s just I had….you were…and I had to stay quiet, but it was hard because I don’t…I never keep things from you…”

Ryosuke’s heart fell, his mind whirling, the words a whisper, his voice infused with his heartache, because while he really did know Yuri was keeping things from him, it was hard to hear it confirmed, “So, you really are keeping things from me?”

“Oh my God, are you serious?” Yuri felt like every word he said was somehow making things worse, “I did, but it wasn’t supposed to make you worry. This is why I can’t do….stuff like this is just too….ugh…”

Yuri reached forward, taking both of Ryosuke’s hands in his own, “Yes, I have kept something from you but…I’m….it’s been hard…I have been upset with you, so I’m sure that didn’t help either.”

“Why?” Ryosuke tilted his head, wanting to grab Yuri into his arms and hold him because he was so discombobulated, so thrown off he was shaking and all he wanted to do was to make him see how much he was loved, how it didn’t matter what he’d hidden, whatever it was, he just didn’t care anymore, all that mattered was him, was Yuri.

“You started acting weird, like, you would sneak out of the bedroom while it was still dark, doing something, I can’t fathom—Ryo, you’d actually locked the door to the study! You wouldn’t let me touch your phone, and you kept talking to one of the staff members all week! What reason would you have to lock the door? I’ve been so worried.”

Yuri hadn’t taken a breath as he spoke, the words rushed and frantic and by the end he was breathless and his eyes were wide and his tone was panicked because despite having whispered those words in his mind for a while now, speaking them out loud seemed to create a new fear in them.

Ryosuke struggled with what to do, his mind rushing in a million directions, because this wasn’t what he wanted, how he’d planned, this wasn’t what he’d imagined…and he felt at a loss for a moment.

Think.

Think.

Think.

No.

Feel.

He rushed forward, instantly holding Yuri’s head between his hands, his breath soft on his face, “Chiisana,” he closed his eyes for a moment and Yuri’s hand lifted, grabbing onto Ryosuke’s wrist, squeezing tightly, eyes wide as Ryosuke opened his, gazing deeply, “I love you.”

“I love you, too, but I’m scared, please…explain…please, Ryosuke.”

Ryosuke studied him for a moment, nodding quickly, and then he was on his knees in front of Yuri.

Yuri blinked down at him, his expression confused, “Wh–wha…”

“Shut up,” Ryosuke laughed lightly, his voice shaking, “Shut up or I’ll lose my nerve!”

Yuri had no idea what he was talking about, and then Ryosuke pulled something out of his pocket and the light caught it, creating a soft glittering shine across the wall for a moment before it was gone.

Yuri’s breath caught in his throat.

Is he…

Is this…

“Yuri,” Ryosuke grabbed his hand, holding it tightly, “I love you, there’s no one who would put up with me and the absolute train-wreck that is me. I’m not kidding here—I’m a hell of a mess and you just laugh at my stupidity and then love me anyway. There’s no one who would care about me the way you do, no one in the universe I could possibly care about more, love more, need more, or want more…I want you to be mine…not just today, not just this year, but every single year beyond it…”

Ryosuke’s words were cut off when Yuri dropped to his knees, his arms wrapping around his neck as he leaned forward to kiss him, his lips firm and insistent before he drew back quickly, laughing softly, “Shut up, shut up! You’re ruining it!”

“I–wait….what?” Ryosuke was thoroughly confused, and then he watched as Yuri dug into his pant pocket and drew something out, lifting his hand and holding it up between them.

Ryosuke blinked as his eyes focused on the ring in Yuri’s fingers, his mouth opening and closing, speechless.

“This was my plan, and you went and ruined it,” Yuri said the words with a pout, but Ryosuke knew he was teasing him, trying to piece together what he was saying.

“I–I…I ruined…wha…”

My proposal,” Yuri laughed, his smile bright as an understanding of what Ryosuke had been doing, why he’d been so strange, all of the pieces fitting together into a story that made perfect sense, because he knew that Ryosuke would design the ring, that’s why he was hiding so much, his tone amused when he spoke softly, “You’re trying to upstage my proposal.”

“Your p-p-proposal,” Ryosuke repeated the words, awestruck as he stared at the ring in Yuri’s hand, “You were…you planned…”

“Yes,” Yuri responded softly, “I had the best words planned and everything.”

Ryosuke’s eyes snapped up to his, “You did….you had…oh my God, this is what you’ve been hiding.’

Yuri laughed, “Yeah, I mean, obviously, I suck at it though, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was giving you the wrong idea.”

“Same, really, the same,” Ryosuke bowed his head, “I’m sorry, Chiisana, I didn’t know I was making you think I was keeping secrets either.”

“We shouldn’t keep anything from each other, we just hurt the other,” Yuri nodded, “I can’t explain it….we’re always so in sync though!”

They laughed at that, knowing that no one would ever fully understand the way they were with each other, connected on some weird cellular level where they both were so in tune with each other, they both felt a little silly they didn’t actually suspect this outcome.

“Wha–”

Ryosuke cleared his throat, his finger lifting up to press against Yuri’s lips softly, “Shhh…put that away.”

He gestured to the ring Yuri was holding.

Yuri realized what he meant, nodding as he tucked the ring back into his pocket, standing up quickly and then his hand fluttered to his chest when Ryosuke looked up at him–not the idol, not the international superstar, not the actor, not the brother, son, group member, professional, or any other title he could hold–no, he looked up at him and he was his Ryosuke.

His eyes soft and full of love and affection, his lips pursed into the perfect little smile, his cheeks showing the tiny, indented dimples where he was trying to not smile.

My Ryosuke.

Thank God.

I missed you.

“Chinen Yuri,” Ryosuke’s voice was laced with emotion, the very sound of his name from his lips dispelling instantly all of the fears, worries, and nervousness, as he was flooded by his absolute certainty that this was his soulmate, the one person in the universe that was meant to be with him and he with him, “My Chiisana, I love you.”

Yuri’s heart leapt in his chest, as Ryosuke continued to speak, the words like music, “I love you with the power of a million winds, and the heat of a thousand suns, and the depth of the deepest oceans to the core of the very earth.”

Ryosuke reached forward to draw Yuri’s hand to him, pressing a soft kiss to the top of it as he held it against his heart, “I love you with all that I am–and I don’t want to spend another day, hell, another minute, without you–not just as my best friend, my confidant, my sounding board, my critic, my closest ally, my beloved–but as my promised husband.”

Yuri blinked, feeling like the room was spinning because he’d been holding his breath so long, Ryosuke’s eyes soft and full of affection as the words he’d so longed to hear were spoken into reality, “Please, make me the happiest man in the world, say you’ll marry me?”

Yuri sobbed softly, tears spilling over to stream down his face, nodding when the words wouldn’t come, Ryosuke’s fingers fumbling as he slid the ring onto Yuri’s hand, his fingertips moving through Ryosuke’s hair as he shuffled forward to hug him around the waist, squeezing him tightly with one arm as he lifted his other hand to look at the ring that set there upon his finger, bold in the way it spoke of the fact that this was real. That this was truth, that he was going to marry the man he loves.

Yamada Ryosuke just asked me to marry him.

This is real.

“I love you,” Yuri whispered, his voice hoarse with emotion, then he pushed Ryosuke’s shoulder, who pulled back to look up at him, a smile breaking across his face as he whispered the word, “Go.”

Ryosuke looked confused but then understood when Yuri pushed him again, nodding toward the door. Ryosuke shuffled backward and stood up quickly, moving toward the door, and then turned back around as if he were just entering the room, the only sign that what had happened before being the pink tinge to his cheeks and the way his eyes glittered with unshed tears.

When he moved forward, Yuri dropped to one knee, his hand held up with the ring in it, his voice tender and gentled, “Yamada Ryosuke, you always shine brighter than me, you always have, and I have come to terms with the fact that you always will…and this is no exception.”

“I can only shine so brightly because I am reflecting you,” Ryosuke whispered softly.

“See?” Yuri smiled, a wry grin as he spoke, “I had the most beautiful words planned, and now I can’t think of a single one of them.”

They both laughed, a tear dropping down Ryosuke’s cheek as Yuri took a shuddering breath and continued to talk, “I know it was about love, and affection, and joy, and happiness, and it certainly was about how much I need you and how I can’t imagine taking a single breath without knowing you are mine—something about how if you weren’t going to ask me then I was going to ask you cause I was tired of waiting–but I can’t really remember the words…not a single one!”

They both laughed softly at this, as Ryosuke reached down, running his fingers tenderly across Yuri’s cheek, causing Yuri to lean into his hand, twisting his head to press a warm kiss to his palm before he looking up at him again, his voice laced with conviction, his eyes full of sincerity, “…all I know, all that matters to me right now, Ryosuke, is that I need you to say yes, yes to being mine, yes to letting me be yours, yes to waking up next to you every day, yes to a family of our own, yes to growing old together, me and you.”

Me and you.

Always.

“I mean, I know that you know it also means yes to all of the stupid things I’ll say and do, and the stupid fights we’ll have…probably about you staying up too late playing video games, or breaking another controller or something like that…”

Ryosuke nodded, laughing softly as another tear fell, Yuri’s voice gentled, despite the humor laced between the words, “…and the dumb stuff we’ll share together, and especially, yes to taking care of me…because I need you to take care of me, I’m pretty high need, you know…”

Ryosuke nodded vigorously, as Yuri continued to speak, his voice wet with tears, “…and me taking care of you, I’ll always do my best, I’ll take care of you, I will, and—”

Ryosuke slid down into the floor to his knees in front of Yuri, still nodding, his hands drawing up to hold Yuri’s face within them as he continued to speak, “…and yes to letting me be the support you need to be who you want to be, because you don’t let anyone else take care of you, but you, you always let me.“

Ryosuke grinned, still nodding, Yuri shuffled forward, his voice a slight whisper, “Say yes, say yes to me loving you, to me loving you harder than anyone ever could in the history of love—to being mine forever and always…please, say yes, that you’ll marry me.”

“Yes,” Ryosuke whispered, “Yes, a million times, yes.”

Yuri drew Ryosuke’s hand down between them, sliding the ring onto his finger, his expression full of joy at seeing the ring he’d had made there on his hand, “I love you so much.”

Ryosuke stared at the ring, mesmerized by the unique design of rose gold and black diamonds, the unbelievable satisfaction of having this ring on his finger, the tangible evidence of this moment, of Yuri wanting to marry him, to make this official, his voice speaking the words reverently, “I love you.”

The second Yuri released Ryosuke’s hand he found himself pressed backward, as Ryosuke leaned into him, his lips finding Yuri’s, seeking to say the words that had yet been unspoken, laced with relief that all the confusion was gone, and passion as the hope of the future burned within him, infused with the overwhelming sense of security that each of them knew what the future held.

Everything else in the universe might be unsure, but they had one another, and nothing was going to change that.

Ryosuke’s hand moved up to draw Yuri forward, and Yuri finally caught up, his hands gliding across his shoulders to hold Ryosuke, fingers twining through the hair at the base of his neck, light on his skin, sending chills across his body.

Ryosuke’s mouth moved across his cheek, slowly, the words ‘I love you’ spoken between kisses, until he was at his ear, “I love you so much, Chiisana, thank you.”

Yuri pulled him closer, hugging him tightly, “Thank you, Ryo-chan, I love you.”

Ryosuke drew back, his hand grazing his jaw to use his finger under his chin to tip his head up, intent on kissing him when he suddenly became aware of the noises coming from the other side of the door, his head turning, eyes gesturing for Yuri to listen. They both laughed, scrambling up together as Ryosuke reached over to gingerly unlock the door, yanking it open swiftly.

Daiki’s yelp shook the walls, as he tumbled forward, causing an avalanche of Jump members to cascade into the room, stumbling, tripping, and falling all over each other where they’d been precariously arranged to listen to what was happening inside the room.

Ryosuke stepped over to stand by Yuri, wrapping his arm around his waist as they laughed at the scene before him.

“This is why having relationships is a bad idea,” Hikaru mumbled, trying to disengage his arm from under someone he couldn’t identify because they were such a jumbled mass of limbs and bodies, “It makes everyone crazy.”

“Oh, shut up,” Kei snapped, rolling off the top of the pile to try to get his feet underneath himself, “You know you love a romance as much as anyone, besides, look at how happy they are…”

Ryosuke pulled Yuri close, whispering in his ear, “Did they know?”

“Only Dai-chan,” Yuri responded as quietly as he could, and Ryosuke finally understood the nature of the start of his new friendship with Daiki, “But I think they all do now thanks to him.”

Ryosuke made a mental note to kick Daiki’s ass at the first opportunity because he knew the sheer hell Ryosuke had been going through this month and just let him stew–at the same time it sort of made him happy because it meant that he was loyal to Yuri the same way he was with him.

He’s a good one.

Yuri twisted, looking up at Ryosuke’s eyes, “Did they know about you?”

“Yeah, Yutti and Keito, they knew…I’m glad they all know now though,” Ryosuke smiled,  then tilted his head, kissing Yuri quickly.

“IT IS ABOUT TIME!” Daiki cried out, stumbling as he managed to wrestle himself free of the remaining members who were all attempting to get to their feet.

Yuto darted forward, shoving Daiki out of the way, holding his hand out expectantly.  

“What?” Yuri looked at Yuto like he’d lost his mind, and Yuto just huffed dramatically, when Daiki practically stood on top of him, “Let me see this ring!”

“Oh!” Yuri laughed, pulling his hand up and letting them both see the ring. Within seconds they were surrounded, each of the members looking at Yuri’s ring and congratulating him.

“What about me!?” Ryosuke complained loudly, speaking in his most dramatic voice, smiling despite himself.

“What about you? You asked him…” Yuto faded off when Ryosuke shrugged, holding his hand up, and when Keito realized what had happened, some of the muffled words he’d made out through the door suddenly making sense, he squealed so loud it made the others jump, “NO WAY!!”

Ryosuke laughed, nodding his head, “Seriously!”

Yuto grabbed his hand, looking at the ring, and then looking at Yuri, “Get out, did you know he was doing this?”

“No,” Yuri laughed softly, shrugging, “I had no idea.”

The room erupted into chaos as they all discussed the last few weeks and all the clues there were to what was happening that they all missed, and all the while, Yuri and Ryosuke had their hands linked behind the boys, smiling knowingly at one another, glad to know that nothing was going to change, not even when they were married.

Glad to be surrounded by their members.

By our family.


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[2.1] Absolutely Perfect (December 2014)
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They had been practicing the new dance for hours, finally finished for the day the members were standing together drinking their water, and discussing some of the more challenging aspects and if they needed to make any changes to it to ensure they could breathe enough to still sing. Ryosuke jumped when the phone in his pocket began buzzing.

His eyes widened when he looked down at the phone screen, then immediately glanced up to find Yuri staring at him, his head tilting at whatever unexpected expression Ryosuke was displaying. He cleared his throat, “Excuse me.”

Shuffling as far away from the group as he could without going into the hallway, he answered the phone, “Hello, Nakamura-san.”

The man on the other end spoke immediately, “Yamada-san, everything is finished up, and I wanted to be sure that you’d received the images I emailed you?”

Ryosuke shifted to the side, moving the phone to the other ear in paranoia that somehow one of the other members would overhear the conversation, his eyes landing on Yuri’s narrowed ones, “Ah, yes, I actually did receive them, thank you.”

“I see,” Nakamura continued, “If you have any questions about them?”

“No,” Ryosuke’s mind flashed with the images that he’d seen earlier, his heart thundering in his chest as he turned away from Yuri’s inquisitive eyes, paranoid he might be able to read his mind, lowering his voice, “It looks absolutely perfect.”

“I am so glad to hear that!” Ryosuke could hear the smile in the man’s voice, he’d come highly recommended as a master craftsman, “So long as there’s no other changes you’d like I will requisition a courier to deliver the ring safely to you.”

“Of course,” Ryosuke’s tummy flipped just thinking about holding the ring in his hand, having it in his possession finally, “It’s exactly what I wanted, thank you so much.”

“Wonderful, that’s wonderful,” the man spoke excitedly, “I would like to send it by courier tomorrow—am I still sending it to the address you provided me?”

“Yes, that would be great,” Ryosuke nodded even though the man couldn’t see him, glad he’d made the delivery arrangements in advance so he wouldn’t have to speak about it now—having given the shop his parents address as his Mom would be home to accept the delivery whereas he might not be.

It also ensures Yuri doesn’t see it either.

“Thank you again for all of your help,” Ryosuke was beaming when he hung up the phone, turning to discover the other members still in a quiet discussion about changing one of their dance moves, freezing when his eyes landed on Yuri’s.

“Who was that?” Yuri’s voice was cold, his eyes unwavering as the rest of the member’s conversations faded off until they were all looking expectantly at Ryosuke.

It was a simple question, of course it was, and ideally, Ryosuke would have been prepared for it—but he certainly wasn’t, his mind whirling trying to come up with something, anything to say, swallowing roughly, “Th—that was…ah…”

“A gamer friend I know,” Yuto blurted out, his eyes meeting Ryosuke’s wide ones when he realized they must have heard his side of the conversation, at least some of it, “I asked him to send Yama-chan some of the gear he’d been drooling over, and he did that today.”

Ryosuke thought he should probably stop this before it got too out of hand, surprised at how smoothly Yuto was lying—not sure if he was impressed or concerned, but either way the decision was removed from his choice when Keito spoke up, “Yeah, he’s a great guy.”

Ryosuke looked from the two blatant liars to Yuri to find his eyes fixated on him, still narrowed, and Ryosuke had to concentrate to keep himself from shrinking away from him, attempting to put forward a confident air, nodding once, which produced a grunt from Yuri in response.

“Anyway,” Kota spoke so abruptly it made both of them jump, “If we can get this finished up so we can go home?”

“Yeah, of course,” Ryosuke nodded, uncomfortable with the way Yuri was staring at him, shifting nervously from foot to foot until Yuri shook his head and turned away to walk to the chairs across the room to take a long drink from his water bottle.

“You owe me,” Yuto whispered in Ryosuke’s ear causing him to twist to the side and shove him for scaring him so badly.

“I didn’t ask you to interfere,” Ryosuke hissed, his eyes flittering between Yuto and Keito both who were standing between him and Yuri at this point.

“I saved your ass,” Yuto stated as a matter of fact, “You could at least be thankful.”

“Sure,” Ryosuke shook his head, his hands resting on his hips in frustration, considering that there was a pretty high possibility he’d just made things worse instead of better, “Whatever—thank you.”

“You can also tell me what the hell I am covering for here,” Yuto leaned forward, his eyes burning into Ryosuke, “It’s not like I do this all the time or something, you know?”

Ryosuke nodded, his cheeks red with frustration, “Yeah, I’ll tell you, just…not here, not now, okay.”

Yuto saw whatever he needed to see to be assured he would be given an explanation, shifting to throw his arm around Ryosuke’s shoulder as they walked toward the row of chairs where Yuri was waiting, his voice low, “It better be good.”

Ryosuke laughed, shaking his head, shoving his elbow in Yuto’s side causing him to squeal, “It is, I promise.”


Ryosuke couldn’t have possibly been slumped down any further in the chair without spilling out into the floor, his eyes half closed as he watched Yuri flitting around the dressing room. He figured there was a fairly good chance he’d think he was asleep, which was fine, he wasn’t in a very good mood to start with, and now as he sat in anticipation of the next ten minutes, he couldn’t help but wish he was really asleep.

He could feel Daiki’s eyes on him from where he was sitting beside him and he resisted the urge to reach over and slap him to get him to stop staring, but that would be a dead giveaway that he wasn’t asleep.

Yuri had gathered up all of his stuff, cramming them into that bag that he’d bought him a few weeks ago that he’d lingered a little too long looking at. Then he shuffled over to stand between Ryosuke’s feet.

He slowly bent down until he could see Ryosuke’s eyes, tilting his head so cutely, his eyes sparkling in a way that made Ryosuke’s heart flutter like when they’d been pretending to not have feelings for each other but then his tummy fell out in fear of what was going to happen next.

“Hey you,” Yuri smiled, shuffling forward to push Ryosuke’s legs out of the way until he was standing close enough to him that Ryosuke’s view was limited to looking at the edge of his shirt hanging down over his jeans.

Ryosuke wanted to pretend to be asleep, even now, because he didn’t really want to pretend–but Yuri wasn’t about to have it, his leg shooting out to shove him impatiently, “Hey!”

Ryosuke looked up at him, his eyes were a little less glossy now, irritated at not getting the attention he was looking for, causing Ryosuke to sigh, “Yeah?”

“I have to go to my tumbling class today,” Yuri glanced over at Daiki, who was burning a hole through Ryosuke from his glaring at this point, “Dai-chan is taking me, but I’ll be home like…around 7:00?”

Ryosuke just stared at him, not breaking eye contact because hell to the no, he wasn’t about to make this easy for Yuri, if he was going to point blank lie–then he’d have to do it point blank looking right into his eyes.

Ryosuke shrugged, sinking impossibly further into the chair as he feigned disinterest, “‘kay”

Yuri stood there, still as a statue as he tried to make sense of Ryosuke’s attitude, looking to Daiki for a better understanding, but all he did was shrug, his eyebrows raising as he shook his head to indicate he had no idea what was happening.

“Okay…umm…” Yuri’s voice was soft, small and Ryosuke’s heart ached, and like any other time, he just couldn’t see this through, his hand snapping out to grab Yuri’s causing him to jump from being startled by the sudden movement.

“Be safe,” Ryosuke glanced up at him, his teeth clenching at the hurt reflected in Yuri’s eyes, and he wanted to just drag him into the room next door and force the truth out of him, but he just couldn’t do it, he wasn’t strong enough to hear whatever it might be. A part of him never wanted to know or understand whatever it could possibly be–his breath caught in his throat when Yuri leaned over to press a soft kiss against his cheek, not even looking around the room to assure they were alone, his lips tickling his skin as his warm breath brushed his ear, “I love you.”

Ryosuke wanted to grab him, shake him, and just scream, “WHY THEN!?”

He didn’t, he just gripped his hand tighter, waiting until he went to stand back up and pulled him closer to press a tender kiss against his lips because he didn’t care who was there either, frankly, and he wasn’t in the mood to care either, breathless as he tried to control himself, whispering, “I love you, too.”

Yuri stared at him, blinking rapidly before he took a deep breath, pulling his hand free as he gestured to Daiki, “I’m gonna be late.”

“Right,” Daiki scrambled up, his eyes wide as he watched Yuri walk quickly out of the room without looking back, glancing at Ryosuke questioningly before he shook his head and rushed out of the room after Yuri.

Ryosuke made a deep guttural sound, a feral noise that was something between a growl and an internalized scream, then jumped out of his skin when Yuto threw himself down in the chair next to him, his voice entirely too loud for the mood of the room, “What’s your malfunction?”

Ryosuke jerked his head to the side, biting his tongue because Yuto didn’t deserve the backlash of his emotional overflow, his fingers clenching into fists as he growled again.

Yuto studied him for a moment, his voice low, “Damn, Yama-chan what is wrong with you?”

Ryosuke took a deep, shuddering breath, trying to control his emotions, angry at himself when he felt a warm tear pool and then spill down his cheek, “He doesn’t have a tumbling class today–I saw a message he sent to his teacher this morning canceling.”

“Wh..what? He…” Yuto looked toward the door where Yuri and Daiki had left, like the answer was somewhere in those twenty paces that would make sense of it–but finding none, he glanced cautiously back over at Ryosuke because all he could think was that he was definitely going to explode in a fit of pure rage.

He frowned when he discovered not the Ryosuke he was anticipating, but instead a broken, pitiful boy who was terrified of what had just happened and what it might mean. He reached his arm out to hug Ryosuke awkwardly from the side, “I’m sure there’s a logical explanation…you shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

Ryosuke frowned, scrubbing at his eyes in frustration as he jerked his shoulder to throw off Yuto’s arm, “It’s fine, I’m not, it’s nothing, I’m sure you’re right.”

“Yeah,” Yuto responded weakly as he watched Ryosuke grab up his jacket and bag and walk briskly out of the room without another word.

Yuto chewed at his lip, feeling utterly alone and wondering where Keito was at that moment–needing to talk this through with him. Shaking his head, he frowned, because he couldn’t help but be concerned about the words that kept flashing through his mind, dripping on his tongue asking to be spoken…

What if I’m wrong?



Daiki rushed down the hallway to catch up with Yuri who was quite literally stomping his way to the building’s exit. He fell into step beside him, glancing over cautiously to discover his brows were drawn down, his lips pursed in a sour expression, a low noise coming from him as a warning for Daiki to keep his mouth shut.

When they reached the door, they waved at the guard and then Daiki pushed forward, holding it open for Yuri who rushed past him toward his car. Yuri slammed the car door far harder than necessary, and Daiki resisted the urge to tell him he needed to calm down, but honestly, he’d never seen either of them act like this before, so he felt quite out of his element himself.

They’d driven exactly seven minutes before Yuri exploded in the seat next to him, causing Daiki to jump, swerving a little in response before he jerked his head over to see Yuri’s hands flying in the air around him as he went off.

“How dare him! I mean honestly! HOW DARE HIM! I literally am doing this for HIM–and he has the audacity to sit there and be all…all…what is that?! What is his issue!? What in the world is wrong with him anyway!? When I am going through all of this trouble, I mean I AM TALKING TO PEOPLE and having MEETINGS and doing all of this because I want to do something special for him and he has the nerve to be all “‘kay” to me. I’m gonna kick his ass.”

Daiki couldn’t help but laugh, because he was pretty sure that Yuri could kick Ryosuke’s ass without even trying because Ryosuke was nothing if not whipped when it came to Yuri–though, he couldn’t be sure of that at the moment given whatever was going on right now with him.

“He’s been acting like a crazy person, I can tell he’s not telling me something, but he just keeps smiling and distracting me, and I am so done with his stupid nonsense! He gets mad at me when all I’m doing is making something pretty for him! When he’s the one that is acting like a super-secret spy or something!”

He issued a loud, long growl, his fists hitting his knees, “I AM SO MAD!”

And confused…but mostly mad.

Daiki had remained silent, glancing over to look at Yuri, taking a deep breath, planning to talk Yuri down, but he was already off on another fit of yelling…Daiki decided to just drive, waiting for him to get it out of his system.

“He doesn’t deserve me! I’m gonna tell the shop to just forget it, to just not finish it, because why in the world would I go through all this trouble for someone who was going to be so stupid? I wouldn’t…I shouldn’t! Should I!?”

Daiki glanced over, realizing that Yuri had paused, his eye brows lifted, his expression expectant, and Daiki swallowed roughly, “You’re–You are asking me?”

“YES! Who else would I be asking!?” Yuri bellowed, and Daiki thought the windows shook from his rage.

“Well,” Daiki kept his eyes on the road, preparing to turn into the shopping center, “I think there must be a reasonable explanation for Yama-chan’s behavior and you should probably talk to him about it.”

“You know I can’t do that,” Yuri snapped instantly.

Daiki pulled the car into the parking spot and once he had the engine turned off he turned in his seat to look at Yuri, “And why is that again?”

Yuri crossed his arms, his brows drawn down as he frowned, “He’d figure it out! You know I won’t be able to not tell him.”

“I know you want to do this like this…but Chii-chan…maybe you should think about changi–“

“NO!” Yuri interrupted him, “Absolutely not! I have already decided this is what I am going to do, and I am going to do it this way!”

Daiki sort of wished he wasn’t in on this plan, like in any way at all, shaking his head as he opened the car door, waiting at the front bumper for Yuri to join him, then walking beside him as they approached the store.

“It’s not my fault Yamada wants to act like a spoiled rotten brat!” Yuri pushed forward, swinging the shop door open and entering the shop.

Daiki’s step faltered at Yuri calling Ryosuke ‘Yamada’–he couldn’t think of a time in the last few years he’d done that–his eyes wide as he stepped into the shop and let the door close behind him.

Yuri was already at the counter talking to the man waiting there, and all Daiki could do was worry his lip in uncertainty that this plan of Yuri’s was maybe not the best in the world but, thankfully, it was nearly finished.

I just hope it is finished before they are…


Ryosuke figured there was only one way he was going to be able to rest that night–releasing all of the negative energy he had allowed to build up all afternoon in anticipation of Yuri’s supposed tumbling class. He’d normally suggest Yuri help him, so to speak, but given his current feelings he decided that was absolutely not going to happen—so, instead he hit the gym on his way home.

Even so, he realized fairly quickly that he could spend the whole night there sweating his ass off lifting weights and he wouldn’t feel any better. He knew he needed to figure out things and get to the bottom of what was going on but he just didn’t know how to approach it—where to even start.

He eventually gave up, taking a quick shower and then headed home, pushing the button on the console to call his Mom.

“Hello dear,” she answered happily, just the sound of her voice making Ryosuke instantly feel better, smiling when she spoke again, “What are you up to?”

“I’m driving home from the gym,” Ryosuke responded, slowing down for a red light.

“It’s awfully late for that isn’t it?”

Ryosuke glanced at the clock, surprised to discover it was nearly 7, and he was usually finished at the gym by 5 at the latest, “Ah, yeah, I guess I went a bit over—I was just needing to blow off some steam.”

“Uh-oh,” he could practically see the frown on her face, “Sounds like there’s a story here.”

“It’s really nothing,” Ryosuke shook his head despite her not being able to see him, moving forward with the traffic.

“Ryosuke.”

He sighed dramatically, making sure she’d hear it, not really willing to drag the conversation out, “It’s Yuri.”

“What happened!? Is he okay? What happened to him!? Do I need to co—”

“Mom! Mom! No! Oh my gosh, Yuri is fine, it’s nothing like that—he’s perfectly fine, nothing happened to him,” he laughed softly at what a mom she was even to Yuri.

“Oh, thank God, you scared me!”

“Sorry, I didn’t realize how it would sound,” Ryosuke took a deep breath, “It’s just, it’s nothing like that.”

“Then what’s it like?”

He wanted to keep quiet and act like everything was okay, but he really needed someone to tell him what to do, “Yuri is keeping something from me.”

“I see…” his Mom laughed softly, “Couldn’t it be something to do with Christmas?”

“No,” Ryosuke hated to say that, he wished it were that simple, “Yuri sucks at Christmas secrets, and there’s no way it’s something like that, he would have slipped up and said something to me.”

He sighed, and then he sat up straight as he was turning onto the road where their apartment was, “Wait, but…do you know something?”  

Feeling hopeful his voice was high, “Did he call you? Are you helping him?”

“No,” her voice was reluctant, “He hasn’t spoken to me about anything, I’m sorry honey.”

“It’s fine,” Ryosuke felt the sting of the lie on his tongue even as he said it, “I’m sure there’s a good reason…right?”

“Ryosuke,” her voice was firm, “Don’t be silly, of course there is a good reason—and I know you want me to tell you what to do, but you already know it—if you’re this upset and bothered you need to talk to him.”

“I don’t know what to say, how to approach it, ya know?”

“I understand,” and he knew she did, but his heart ached when she spoke again, “But you just said a few weeks ago that no one meant more to you than he did—and that you were going to make sure he knew for the rest of his life who he was to you—remember?”

“Yeah,” Ryosuke frowned, the conversation with his parents causing his heart to ache, “I remember.”

“Has he ever given you a single reason to doubt him?”

“No.”

“To be suspicious of him?”

“No…”

“Then you should trust him,” she was nodding, he just knew it, “He deserves your trust until he is able to talk about whatever it is that he’s keeping from you—and then he will deserve your compassion for whatever it is.”

“What could it be?” Ryosuke just needed to know, he wished he could understand.

“I couldn’t begin to imagine, but I know Yuri and he loves you—and that boy isn’t going to do anything that is going to harm you, so you need to simmer down and let him do what he needs to do and trust that he’ll confide in you when he’s ready.”

“When he’s ready?”

“Yes,” she affirmed, “You can’t push him if he’s not ready to talk about whatever he’s going through.”

“You think he’s going through something?!” Ryosuke had pulled into the parking garaged, setting the car in park, hands tight on the steering wheel, “He’s going through something that he can’t talk to me about!?”

“It would seem so, don’t you think?” her voice was soft, just the way it was when he was a child and she needed to help him with whatever crisis he was facing at the time, “Sometimes these things happen this way, but Ryosuke it is nothing to do with us and the power of our relationship or love for one another—there’s been many times I have had to keep something from your father until I was ready to share it.”

“Really?” that felt hopeful and Ryosuke rubbed his chest lightly as his heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest.

“Really,” she took a deep breath, “Trust Yuri, he’s always got you in his mind, and in his heart, he’s not going to do anything to hurt you—just love him and wait until he’s ready to share, okay?”

“Yeah, alright,” he wished he could sound more confident, “I’ll do my best, thanks Mom.”

“You’re welcome, stop worrying, and if you need me you know I’m here!”

“I know, I love you Mom,” he smiled at her voice when she responded, “I love you, too.”

They got off the phone and as Ryosuke made his way to the elevator, he felt a little bit lighter—because maybe it was just something that he needed to wait for Yuri to share, maybe he was just going through something and he needed time to process it or something.

Still…doesn’t that mean there’s actually something he thinks he couldn’t talk to me about?

Whatever hope he had seemed to instantly disappear like the air in a popped balloon, his heart heavy as he walked into the dark apartment, shuffling off his shoes and heading to the bedroom, wondering where Yuri was right now.


Yuri stared down at the tiny gemstones on the white velvet that looked like pebbles scattered across snow, most of the words the man was saying whooshing straight over his head, his finger pushing one of the stones around, fascinated by how it sparkled even though it was a deep dark black color.

“…and each stone has been authenticated as natural A4 with no inclusions, earning them the purest clarity grade making them flawless—they are the highest quality gem I could procure as per your specifications.”

Yuri unknowingly blinked at the man, his head tilting, unsure if he was expecting a response, but when Daiki nudged him in the side, he figured he was supposed to say something, “Ah…then…these are the best you can get correct?”

“Yes, sir,” the man affirmed, “I stand by the quality—however,” the man swallowed roughly, his eyes darting to Daiki and back again to Yuri—who was utterly confused by the strange expression the man had, as if he were loath to speak the words, “That is to say Chinen-san—the design you have chosen contains 56 of these stones, and given they are extremely rare in this particular grade it would…ah…”

Yuri was confused as to what the man was trying to say, just nodding, gesturing to the stones, “I just want to ensure these ones are the very best you can offer me.”

“These are, yes the best in the world really…” he gestured to the stones on the velvet, “But of course, you could use half of this grade and step down a grade or two and in all probability, you would not be able to tell the difference…if you’d like—”

“No,” Yuri heard Daiki snicker beside him, “I want all of them to be this grade A super rare inclusion clarity ones, that’s all…I want all of them to be the best you can give me, if that’s these ones then I want all of the stones to be these.”

“All 56 of them?”

What is with this guy!?

“Yes?” Yuri was exasperated, and then suddenly he realized—this guy didn’t think Yuri could pay for them, or that he was all up on here shopping without understanding the costs involved, he bit back the response he really wanted to say, settling for getting the issue out of the way, “Would it make you feel better to do the math on these stones then? They’re what? How much each?”

“They would be about, let’s see, cut to your design, that would be about $120-145 per stone…so that would be,” the man leaned over to start tapping some buttons on the calculator he had there, but Yuri quickly blurted out, “Between $6720 up to $8120.”

“Ah, yes…that’s correct,” the man was clearly surprised, pushing the calculator to the side, “So…”

“So…I want all 56 of these stones,” Yuri nodded, understanding, “I can pay for them now if you’d like?”

“Oh, no, of course not,” the man shook his head, gesturing for Yuri to not bother with retrieving his wallet, “I don’t need payment until the product is completed, of course, I just wasn’t sure you were aware of the costs involved in that number of…”

“I understand,” Yuri interrupted him, so tired at this point in his life of being treated like a child, and maybe even more so that he was incapable of spending this kind of money—as if he hadn’t researched this before he entered this shop—knowing full well the costs involved, “I just want to ensure the stones are the very best you can offer me.”

“They certainly are, you have my word,” the man affirmed.

“Then let me be clear, these are the diamonds I want, and whatever else you need, the metals, everything, I don’t care what it costs—I have money, that I literally have never spent, and I want this to be perfect, so I don’t care about the money—I want the ring to be perfect.”

The man nodded slowly, “Yes, of course, Chinen-san, it shall be just as you desire.”

Yuri watched as he pulled the clipboard over, reading off the requirements to Yuri to confirm them, “The band, it’s pink right? That’s really important.”

“Oh, yes,” the man nodded, “It will be rose gold as you requested.”

“That’s pink, yeah?”

The man smiled kindly, “As close as gold can be to pink.”

“Good, that’s good,” Yuri nodded, then thanked the man—who gave him an estimate of how long until the ring was finished.

Yuri thought as they left to go home how excited he was to get this ring, after all, he wanted to give Ryosuke the most beautiful ring he’d ever seen—and even though he hated talking to strangers and dealing with money and…being social in any way in reality—he was absolutely bent on making this the most exquisite ring in the whole world.  

I’m gonna make sure it is.

Yuri’s feet were restless, his legs bobbing up and down as Daiki made the turn onto the road where he and Ryosuke lived.

“What are you gonna tell him?” Daiki glanced over at Yuri nervously.

“I can’t tell him your stupid car broke down and it took two hours to get it repaired, while we were all the way across Tokyo at a luxury jewelry shop, now can I?” Yuri snapped instantly.

He took a deep breath, turning to glance and Daiki, “Sorry…this just really complicated things…I guess…”

“UGH! I hate this!” he growled, his fingertips twisting into his pant legs in frustration and he just really wanted to hit something, “I guess I’ll just tell him that practice ran over or something…I don’t know what else I could say that wouldn’t make him ask questions.”

“I hate to say it, but that really is probably the best,” Daiki whispered, “I’m sorry that my car had to be stupid today of all days.”

“It’s not your fault,” Yuri sighed, leaning his head on the window, the cool surface feeling good against his heated skin.

It’s my fault…I might be trying to do a good thing, but I’m definitely not doing it very well.

I hate lying to Ryosuke.

This is the last time.


Ryosuke was replying to the email when he heard Yuri at the door, scrambling to shut down his computer and look like he’d been napping on the bed, he threw the laptop under the pillows at the end of the bed and curled up into a ball around one of the other pillows, feigning sleep. 

He could hear Yuri moving through the house, images of him in his mind, the way he would move through the house, what he was doing when he could hear each tell-tale noise, and how undeniably cute he probably was while doing it. 

Stop that! You’re mad at him, he lied to you today!

AGAIN!

He wanted to stay mad, he was confused and had no idea how to bring up the fact that this was the second time that he knew with absolute certainty Yuri had lied to him. Not just a little lie either, but both times they had been blatant bold faced lies. The first had happened about two weeks ago when Yuri told him that he was meeting his Mom after work for some Christmas shopping—except, Ryosuke had been in contact with Yuri’s Mom that very day to ask her for a  recipe he wanted to make for Yuri of a dessert she always made for the holidays. She told him then that she would be home all afternoon if he needed any help with it, since his plan was to make it for him since it was his day off. So, when Yuri texted him with the message that he would be late coming home and that he was meeting his Mom…well, Ryosuke was worried and concerned, because Yuri never lied…like, ever. He was one of the most forthright and openly honest people he knew—almost to a fault, as he’d sometimes say things so straightforward and bluntly that people would get their feelings hurt—so, it was terrifying that Yuri had lied to him so blatantly.

The thing was, Ryosuke tried to think that maybe it was something to do with Christmas—maybe a gift, something he needed to hide—but, until now, if Yuri was doing something that he needed to hide he would literally tell Ryosuke that and then threaten him with bodily harm if he interfered, asked questions, or snooped. It really wasn’t his style to go behind Ryosuke’s back at all, so that history was exactly what made this situation so difficult. This entire situation was so far outside of Yuri’s personality it had left Ryosuke baffled and confused on many various levels.  

There was a tiny moment, a little flicker of weakness, where he thought maybe Yuri could be seeing someone else, it was a weird flash in the back of his mind, his own insecurities showing like they were under the harsh brightness of a spotlight, but then he knew in his heart it couldn’t be anything like that, not in a million years—of that he was absolutely certain.

Which left him with the quandary of what it really was that he was doing…and each time he contemplated it he drew a blank—nothing made sense. He knew he should have just brought it up, but by the time he had the courage too many days had passed, and he knew it would be weird. Not to mention the fact that he was harboring a lot of negative feelings about it…ones he was once again certain were rooted in his own insecurities—but the very idea that there was something—anything—that Yuri either wanted to, or worse felt like he HAD to keep from him was devastating to Ryosuke.

From the first time they’d met until now—they’d always held one another in the highest of confidences—shared the deepest, most personal secrets—and yes, the most embarrassing ones too. So, then, what did it mean if there was something Yuri was going through or experiencing that he didn’t feel comfortable sharing with Ryosuke? What if it wasn’t even not feeling comfortable but that he felt like he couldn’t share it because of whatever he thought the outcome could potentially be? The what if’s and suppositions were so many Ryosuke had lost count but ultimately—it all began and ended with the simple truth—Yuri has a secret, and regardless of what the reason he had—he was keeping it from Ryosuke.

Ryosuke was already plagued by the way it made him feel, then this morning he’d seen the message Yuri sent—not because he was snooping, rather, Yuri had left his phone on the kitchen counter while pouring his juice and he just happened to be walking by when it popped up with the return message from his coach.

I’m sorry to cancel at such short notice, but I have had something important come up so I will not be able to make it to practice today.

No problem! I’ll see you next week then!

Ryosuke didn’t say anything, figuring that Yuri would mention why he was canceling, thinking maybe he didn’t feel well or something, but then Yuri didn’t say anything about it, and as the day went on Ryosuke grew more and more agitated at the idea that Yuri wasn’t going to tell him at all. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, Yuri had forthright lied to him and said he was still attending his class.

Still, even now Ryosuke felt like he should tell Yuri about his worries and concerns, get him to tell him what was going on and why he’d lied, but the thing was…despite Ryosuke knowing it wasn’t something stupid like another guy or anything like that—he just wasn’t prepared to deal with his hurt feelings from it. Certainly, he was used to people saying things that hurt him, and sure, he’d had moments where people he loved like his family had hurt him, but somehow this from Yuri was way deeper than anything he’d known before. He wasn’t sure how to handle it, and while he knew it was wrong to not be forthright, he just couldn’t bring himself to confront it, not right now…So, instead of initiating the talk they really should have—Ryosuke yawned widely when the bed dipped as Yuri crawled onto it, and blinked his eyes open as if he had been sleeping.

“Good morning, sleepy head,” Yuri mused, leaning down to kiss him quickly before he drew back and stared at him.

Ryosuke really yawned this time, the word muffled by his hand, “Morning.”

He rolled onto his back and grabbed Yuri to drag him down against his side to hold him closely, and for his own part Yuri was more than willing to lay down there, his form melting against Ryosuke’s side as he wrapped his arms around him, his head laying on his chest as he snuggled closer still.

“I was worried about you,” Ryosuke murmured, pressing a sincere kiss against Yuri’s temple, squeezing him gently against his side.

“I’m sorry,” Yuri laid very still, and Ryosuke felt like the world was slowed down to where he could see light moving like in the movies as he waited for Yuri to speak, “I…we were really carried away in class so it ran really long—I should have called.”

Yuri clenched his eyes closed at the lie, hating himself, and everything about this, but reminding himself…this was for a perfect moment…and single moment in time and he wanted, no…he needed it to be like what was in his head.

Ryosuke let the breath he’d been holding out slowly, his mouth turning down into a smile at the lie that seemingly fell so easily off Yuri’s lips, his heart aching and his mind whirling.

I should say something, now is good, I should just ask him what’s happening…that’s all.

Ryosuke smiled when Yuri sighed in contentment, drawing his hand up to brush his hair, then clasp his shoulder to pull him closer still, because somehow it just didn’t matter what Yuri was doing, or why…he just…he just loved him, he couldn’t change it.

Maybe tomorrow…maybe then we can talk.

He froze when Yuri’s foot stretched out, sliding under the pillows at the bottom of the bed, hitting the laptop that Ryosuke had hidden there.

Before he could think to stop him, Yuri was sitting up, tossing the pillow back to hit Ryosuke in the head, grabbing the laptop and holding it up, “You left your computer here?”

“Ah, yeah,” Ryosuke reached his hand out for it, “Sorry, I must have fallen asleep…”

“With the computer by your feet?” Yuri’s eyebrow rose slowly, and all Ryosuke could think was this was it, he was definitely going to get caught and everything was going to be ruined.

And you’re being a whiny bitch about him keeping something from you.

“Well…I mean, I must have pushed it down there after I dozed off,” Ryosuke lied smoothly and more or less hated himself for it, because he really was mad at Yuri for being dishonest at the same exact moment he realized this was just too much for too long, wanting to just confess and handle the fallout right now.

Yuri’s eyes didn’t move, didn’t close, didn’t change, his expression like a statue for five beats longer than would be natural and then he tilted his head, his voice soft, “I was going to look up some info about a song I heard on the radio today.”

And with that, he shifted, dragging the laptop onto a pillow he propped in his lap, his fingers poised to open it.

Oh, fuck! Did I close the window? Did I close the messages?

Ryosuke was instantly in a panic, because honestly that would be just about right that he had managed to do all of this without Yuri finding out and he was going to open up the laptop and see those pictures! His heart beati wildly in his chest as he realized that his plan was hanging by a fragile thread before he reached up to shove the laptop off Yuri’s lap, shifting quickly to pull up on his knees, not missing Yuri’s shocked expression as his eyes followed the path of the computer and then darted to look at Ryosuke.

“What the…”

“I love you,” Ryosuke spoke the words, and he knew his voice was shaking, and while he sincerely meant the words, he also recognized that he was manipulating the situation to his advantage and couldn’t help but think what a total and complete ass he was right now.

One of Yuri’s eyes twitched, then they narrowed before he tilted his head, his fingertips grabbing the comforter, his knuckles white when Ryosuke shuffled closer, causing him to tilt his head up, shivering when Ryosuke’s fingers grazed his cheeks, cursing his body for responding so easily—knowing damn well he was being toyed with.

I’m gonna look at that computer.

Still, I’ll play this game.

Ryosuke leaned down, brushing his lips against Yuri’s softly, just a flutter before he paused, his eyes opening to look into Yuri’s wide ones, “I really do love you, Chisana.”

Yuri’s eyes tried to focus on him, as he was almost too close, and he just wished he could see the reality there, the truth, because he was so tired and confused by his behavior and while he knew what he was doing was wrong—he felt like he could die when he thought about Ryosuke actually lying to him, his voice weak, “I love you too.”

Ryosuke had planned to seduce him and get his mind far away from that confounded laptop, but suddenly looking into his eyes, seeing him being so uncertain—it just didn’t matter anymore—making up his mind, he twisted to reach behind him where it was teetering dangerously on the edge of the bed, pulling it around as he shifted back, handing it to a surprised Yuri.

“I just wanted you to know, that’s all…” Ryosuke meant it, his head bowing down as he shuffled to lay back on his pillows, feeling Yuri’s eyes on him as he moved, “You can look up whatever you wanted to now, I’m really tired.”

He was…so tired of the chaos.

He lay still, pulling the blanket up under his chin, his mind whirling, ready to explain when Yuri saw what he was likely to see.

He kept peeking through his lashes, and couldn’t really make sense of why Yuri was just sitting there staring down at the computer…and then sometimes he’d blink up under the hair hanging down on his forehead at him, and then back to the computer again…it was strange, if he wanted to check something why not just check it?

Yuri stared at the computer, his mind spinning…because he wanted to open that stupid computer and see what was on there—but at the same time, he was going to ask this man to marry him, and what kind of marriage was built on that level of mistrust? He shouldn’t need to open the computer.

He was so confused by Ryosuke, glancing over at him to see his face smooth in sleep and he just wanted to go hug him, but didn’t really want to wake him. He looked back at the computer again, trying to decide what to do.

I trust him.

I don’t understand what he’s lying about, but I know he isn’t going to hurt me.

He shifted to sit the laptop on the nightstand, jumping when Ryosuke’s hand touched his back, his voice soft, “Ree?”

Yuri twisted to look back at Ryosuke, confusion marring his features, “I thought you were asleep?”

Ryosuke didn’t say anything about that, just leaned up to grab the computer from Yuri’s hands and sat it in the space between them, lifting the lid, clenching his teeth because he had no idea what was going to be on the screen.

Yuri slowly shifted to move back so he could see the screen as Ryosuke whispered, “You had something you wanted to see—and nothing matters more to me than your happiness, so you should go ahead and see.”

Yuri was staring at Ryosuke trying to make sense of it, of these words, digging through his flittering memories to connect it to whatever reason he’d given before that he wanted to look at the computer, assuming it fit, he nodded, his voice hoarse, “Thanks.”

He turned his head to look at the computer, tilting his head when there was a series of browsers open to the normal sites Ryosuke tended to visit—video games, twitch accounts, cheat sites…nothing unusual there at all. He swallowed roughly, reaching forward to click the new window button in the corner, the cursor hovering over the history slide out for only a moment but long enough for him to see nothing in the recent history was remotely questionable, just normal stuff like work email and fanclub logins…

He wasn’t doing anything…your own guilt is getting to you.

This doesn’t explain everything…

Shut up, I’m too tired to think about this tonight.

Ryosuke had been holding his breath and when he realized he must have closed the tab that had his email open in it he finally released the breath, relieved that everything hadn’t been spoiled, closing his eyes to just be still in the moment.

Just a few more days and then I will explain every single weird thing to him, and we’ll laugh about this.

Yuri shut the computer, twisting to set it on the nightstand and then shuffled over into Ryosuke’s open arms, smiling against his neck as he fit into his perfect spot.

There’s nothing else I need to know other than this. Just a little bit longer and everything will be perfect.

Absolutely perfect.

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Yuri groaned as he became aware of the alarm sounding from the crate next to his bed, rolling over to slap at it blindly, thankful when the blasted noise finally went silent. He tossed himself back onto his pillow, eyes clenching against the light from the window as he tried to convince himself that it was a terrible idea to skip classes this morning.  

You should not skip classes; you need to finish this semester strong! 

Get out of bed!  

You have work to do still! 

He knew he couldn’t, it was just an illusion he was nursing that he could remotely do such a thing, he had too many projects he was working on, including one with a classmate who would be depending on him to be there. At least, he knew it was right to be there whether it was what he wanted or not.  

He rolled out of bed, blinking as he scrubbed at his eyes, his fingertips gravitating to his cheek, his mind flashing back to the night before, warm fuzzy feelings swelling up inside his heart as he thought about how it had felt like a dream even now—then he groaned, “You’re such a dummy,” his eyes flashing across the room to where his computer sat, remembering the email he’d sent from his personal email instead of his school one.  

You idiot…I still can’t believe I did that. 

He forced himself up, managing to make it out of the door in thirty minutes, rather impressed with himself, using the travel time to class to cram in a little extra studying for his child psychology class 

His morning went fine, his classes were typical and nothing unusual happened other than his frustrating attempts to get his partner in his science class to do the work he was supposed to be doing for their mid-term project—something that felt like it was becoming impossibly harder the longer they worked together, and in Yuri’s mind at least, it seemed to him that perhaps he was being taken advantage of because his partner knew how important his grades were to him. In reality, Yuri was positive this was true but he wasn’t sure he had the courage to put a stop to it…After all, the partner was someone he’d known way back from when they were in grade school together as small children. Even then, Morita Seiji was not the nicest person in the world—though he was rather close to Yuri just because they were neighbors—and their mothers were good friends, so they were together a lot because of that.  

They’d lost touch after Yuri’s family had unexpectantly moved to another suburb, and in reality, neither of the boys had recognized one another until they were chosen to work together on the project. They’d both laughed about the fact that they didn’t realize who the other was, though in all fairness, while Yuri couldn’t claim to look much different than he had when he was seven years old, Seiji was a far cry from the small, precocious young boy he’d once been…he now towered over Yuri, not just in height either, but for his broadness as well, which made sense given the fact that Seiji was one of the essential players on their college’s sport team, his thighs were at least the size of both of Yuri’s legs put together…needless to say, he was rather imposing in his stature, and while Yuri had thought maybe they could pick up their friendship where they’d left off—it turned out they had very little in common, in fact, practically nothing that mattered to Yuri was even on the radar for Seiji.  

Seiji was a posterchild for the typical “blockhead jock”, not to mention just not a very nice person in general, which made Yuri sad, because he had expected more from him somehow—and he knew now—that he’d somehow created a false memory of who he had been and the role he’d played in his life those years. Still, he didn’t really care, at least he liked to pretend he cared less that he really did, but the nostalgia was soft in his heart, and he wished somehow they could return to those carefree days, at least that’s how Yuri tended to remember those times, a way to rewrite history perhaps, but still he’d made Seiji one of the few positive memories he’d clung too for these many years, so it hurt him a little bit that he had grown up to be someone that Yuri couldn’t remotely identify with. 

On the up side, the distance between them made it easier for Yuri to be honest about his frustration with the fact that Seiji had barely done anything at all for the project and today when he had built up his courage today and pressed him about his contribution, he made excuses and then assured him that he’d be doing the work after school that day and bring a copy to Yuri at their next class. Yuri wanted to believe him, after all, he seemed earnest enough when backed into a corner, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be best for him to prepare the material himself just in case Seiji didn’t pull through in the end…otherwise, he might risk a lower grade than he was willing to settle for.  

He knew that grades weren’t that big of a deal, at least not in the long term picture, of course, no one asks you about your GPA after you graduate, but…it was a matter of his own personal drive, his own intentions and he wanted to do his best, not just get by but, maybe, in the moments he was truly honest with himself, it was a chance to show what he was made of, who he was despite where he came from—and to make his Momma proud—he wanted to show her those scores and grades and give her the credit for all of her hard work, sacrifices, and love she’d given him as a child. 

He had arrived home for a quick bite to eat and then spoke to his sister, who did everything she could to get him to confess to what he was so discombobulated about the night before, which he steadfastly refused to do, in fact, he would stall letting Saya know anything about Ryosuke until he had absolutely no other choice. It wasn’t that he expected Saya to be an issue, in reality, she would fall all over herself about this development—which was the problem, Yuri wasn’t sure what this really was yet, he couldn’t help but acknowledge he tended to overlay everything with a softness that it didn’t always deserve, and he didn’t want to mess this up—didn’t want to risk this new found relationship on any level—and he definitely didn’t need Saya making things more complicated for him than they already were. 

He enjoyed the walk to work, the air starting to turn brisk, the warmth of the summer sun starting to ebb as the seasons welcomed the oncoming kaleidoscope of colors to backdrop the landscape of fall. He loved walking through the park, enjoying the way the trees seemed to whisper to one another, often thinking of stories they might be sharing among themselves, entertaining himself and smiling when he’d pass a family or playing children. He arrived a little bit early, knowing that he owed his manager an explanation for what he’d done the day before, but also fully aware he had no idea how to remotely explain it to her. Rather, he knew…perhaps just saying he was wrong would be enough 

“I’m really sorry about yesterday,” he shuffled his feet as he looked down at the floor, feeling his manager’s eyes upon him from behind her desk, his fingers fiddling with the edge of his shirt nervously, “It won’t happen again.” 

The silence stretched out before she stood up, making her way around the desk, her arms gently pulling him into a warm embrace, “It’s okay Yuri, you know…” she pulled back, forcing him to look into her eyes, “You can always talk to me?” 

Yuri swallowed roughly, nodding weakly, “I know.” 

“Are you okay?” her voice was soft, though he knew she wanted a real answer…but he didn’t know what to say, not really 

Am I okay?  

Not normally, but somehow, I feel more okay in this moment than I have in every single moment leading up to it…how can I possibly explain this to her?  

Is it real?  

Is what I feel real?  

How can I be sure? 

When he didn’t respond, just attempted to move his eyes away she leaned around to catch his line of sight again, her voice stern this time, “Are you okay? 

“I’m okay, I am…I’m just…there’s some confusion, but…I’m okay, and it won’t interfere with my work again, I promise,” Yuri was sincerely sorry for the way he’d just ran out the day before, and as much as he wished he could explain the situation to her, he just knew it would be a conversation of him babbling nonsense that would neither help her understand or make her believe he was genuinely okay 

“It’s fine, we handled it, and if you need time off, you know I’ll help you,” the woman stepped back, leaning against the edge of her desk, arms crossing, “I’ll help in any way I can, I hope you will always remember that.” 

“I will remember, Chinen-san,” he bowed slightly toward her to which she scoffed, rolling her eyes dramatically, waving her hands in the air, her voice high, “Knock that off, you know I hate that.” 

“I’m sorr” Yuri tried to apologize again, mostly out of habit not sincerity, but she cut him off immediately, “And stop apologizing to me, for goodness sake!” 

The words blurted from his lips before he could stop them, “I’m sorry,” which caused his eyes to widen in shock before they both burst into laughter.  

“I appreciate your kindness,” he tilted his head down, wishing he had better words, more eloquent words to convey how much her support meant to him…not just now, but truly for as long as he could remember. 

“You’re my nephew, taking care of you is part of my job isn’t it?” she shifted to reach onto the desk behind her to grab an envelope that had been laying there, “Speaking of which, this is yours.” 

“What…” Yuri reached forward to grab the envelope from her hand, his eyes widening when he saw the handwriting on the front, immediately scowling, “Oh…” 

“I hate giving them to you,” his aunt was frowning, her eyes fixated on the envelope as if she were willing it to burn to ash, “I’m sorry to have to do it.” 

“It’s not your fault,” Yuri spat the words out, then sighed, his fingers clenching the letter so tightly it was folding under the pressure, “It’s his fault,” he looked at her then, hating the pity he could read in her eyes,  clearing his throat before lifting his chin and speaking the words confidently, “It’s nothing, I don’t even care at all.” 

With this, he stepped toward the doorway, pushing the envelope down in the shredder that was positioned there, watching with a sense of satisfaction as it went through the feed and disappeared into the waste basket in shreds, exactly as it should be, turning to look back at his aunt, “Thanks again, Aunt Kyoko.” 

“Of course, she waved him off, her eyes watching as he turned to go clock in, her frown deepening as she wondered if she could ever do enough to truly help him after all the things he’d been put through in his short life. 

Probably not, but I’ll keep trying. 

 


 

Yuri had been working all day when there was finally a lull after the evening rush affording him a few moments that anyone else would have used to check their cellphone or laze about, but instead, Yuri had his nose stuck in a book, studying for his upcoming midterm exam. He was so engrossed in the words on the page he didn’t realize someone was at the counter until they cleared their throat.  

His head jerked up, his heart thundering in his chest when he discovered Ryosuke standing there, on a Tuesday, in the evening, a time when he never, ever had come before.  

Damn, I really am a lost cause. 

A broad smile graced Ryosuke’s face at Yuri’s surprised expression, leaning against the counter, he tapped his fingers on the surface as he greeted him, “Good evening, Yuri-cha–” he stopped himself, glancing around the room out of concern others might hear him, thankful there wasn’t anyone close… 

I need to be careful.  

Correcting the words as he cleared his throat, the adorable grin at his sheer cheekinessChinensan.” 

Yuri wasn’t prepared for the rush of butterflies that took up immediate residence in his tummy as he realized once again, that this incredible human being was someone who wanted to date him, smiling as he shoved a napkin into his book to close it and walk to the counter, “Good evening, Yamada-san! Would you like the usual?” 

Ryosuke nodded, “Sure!” his following angelic smile making Yuri’s heart flip-flop.  

Yuri wanted to reach across the counter and hug him, because despite not knowing how his arms felt before the night before, somehow he missed them more than anything today—but, of course, he knew better, turning to make the drink for him, intent on putting extra hearts in it on purpose today, glancing over his shoulder when Ryosuke spoke, “Did you have classes today?” 

“Yes,” Yuri nodded, his fingers busy with the drink, the movement predictable and comforting, done through mostly muscle memory as he tossed the words over his shoulder, “I had three classes this morning.” 

“Wow, that’s a lot of classes,” Ryosuke seemed impressed which made Yuri wonder how he could possibly think that was impressive when he was fairly certain Ryosuke probably worked far harder than he did, “What time do you go to classes!?” 

Yuri glanced over at Ryosuke as he waited for the drink to finish brewing, noticing his hair which looked just perfect, as usual, with the cutest little twists framing his eyesAh, I leave my house at 6:45 to catch the train, I am taking four classes, but only three of them are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the last one only meets on Friday,” Yuri shrugged, carefully adding the sweet foam hearts to the drink as he spoke, This is the first semester I was able to take that many classes…” 

He stopped himself when he realized that he would be revealing something very personal if he said the reason why, opting to change the subject, “Anyway,” he turned to bring the drink to the counter, then grabbed a plate to use for Ryosuke’s cupcake, “How was your day?” 

Ryosuke knew he was purposefully changing the subject and figured there would be a time to call him out on his shady dodging of questions he didn’t like but now was probably not the time, the wildly messy day flittering through his mind before he sighed softly, It was okay, there is a lot of…I mean…everything was chaotic today, I suppose…” Ryosuke wished he could explain but he was always wary of speaking about his work in public under any circumstances his words fading off, watching as Yuri retrieved his cupcake, “…though,” he couldn’t help the way his heart fluttered at how cute Yuri looked in his apron today, “…it’s significantly better now.” 

Yuri’s eyes shifted to look at Ryosuke’s, the wink happening so fast he had to do a double take in surprise, met with Ryosuke’s sassy and mischievous grin, as he clearly picked up on the fact that he’d surprised Yuri which in turn caused Yuri’s cheeks to turn a lovely shade of pink instantly. Ryosuke wished he could elicit that response all of the time as it made Yuri look infinitely more gorgeous than he did normally—which by his estimate was almost impossible—but he couldn’t deny it. 

Yuri pushed the plate across the counter toward Ryosuke, glancing down when Ryosuke’s fingertips brushed across his hand, leaning forward, his voice low, “What time are you off work?” 

Yuri shuddered from the touch, an automatic response that he knew he was going to have to stop, his eyes moving up to the clock and then back to Ryosuke, “In about an hour, I have to close tonight. We close at 8:30 on Tuesdays.” 

Is it okay for me to wait for you?” Ryosuke tilted his head, it was so adorable that he was trying to be so thoughtful. 

Of course,” Yuri answered softly, flustered at the attention, taking Ryosuke’s money silently, smiling when he shoved the extra bills that he’d given him back into the tip jar. 

“I’ll just be over here then,” Ryosuke gestured to the table in the corner. 

“O-okay,” Yuri nodded, grabbing a towel to wipe off the counter just to give his hands something to do when Ryosuke sat in the chair that would afford him a constant view of Yuri while he worked. Yuri didn’t realize how awkward he would feel for Ryosuke to be more or less blatantly staring at him, only looking down at his phone here and there, then he would feel his eyes on him again, and sure enough when he’d chance a peek Ryosuke would just smile and nod.  

He had to wonder if Ryosuke had been this obvious all along? In considering how absolute Ryosuke was about how he felt in all probability he had been, and Yuri was just so…well, he supposed the right word was naïve or even perhaps he was just innocent in the idea of someone paying attention to him. After all, he’d spent most of his life thus far attempting to be invisible, to blend in and not be noticed no matter what. It was hard to know that Ryosuke was watching him, relief flooding him when the door tinkled signaling that someone had entered the shop. 

Yuri felt his palms sweat, his fingertips brushing down the ruffles on the apron he wore, wondering at the strange sensation he had that made him want to cover himself up or maybe run away….he never saw people here from school, as this little coffee shop was far away and across from town from the campus—and at this point, he’d rather it be anyone from his school other than who it was. 

Seiji’s laughter was loud in the quiet café, drowning out the music that filled the room, as he shared a conversation with another player from their team. Seiji was holding a soccer ball, moving it from one hand to the other as he walked toward the counter, his eyes focused on the wall with the menu before they drew down and realized it was Yuri behind the counter, his eyes widening in surprise as he laughed, “Chinen—what the hell are you wearing?” 

“I—uh…” Yuri cursed his stupid brain for malfunctioning, clearing his throat, “My uniform,” he stated flatly, then smiled as best he could, “Welcome to Pink, what may I get you?” 

Seiji laughed , dropping the ball onto the counter, his huge hand holding it in place as he shook his head, his elbow pushing into the other guy as they exchanged a look, “A barista would be nice? Aren’t girls supposed to work in these cafes? 

Yuri managed to keep the smile on his face, his eyes moving past Seiji to see Ryosuke watching what was happening, both of his feet on the floor seemingly prepared to leap up at any moment, his head tilted as if he were trying to understand what was going on, “The term barista is not gender specific actually,” Yuri corrected him, his fingernails digging into his palms, “Pink hires anyone who shows aptitude for the position. Now, what may I get you? 

Ohhh hohoho,” Seiji crowed, laughing loudly causing Yuri to cringe, “Listen to you, Mr. Know It All…sure, sure, whatever you say—I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that you ended up working at a place called Pink. 

The guy with Seiji looked uncomfortable, his gaze apologetic when he spoke up, “I’d like a medium black coffee, please.” 

Yuri nodded his head, his eyes not leaving Seiji who was staring him down, “And for you?” 

“I’ll have the same,” Seiji responded, clearly unhappy that Yuri wouldn’t engage in whatever this was he was trying to do, “I have a party to go to after this, I’ll need to be awake for that.” 

“Sure,” Yuri turned without waiting for him to finish the sentence, irritation in his motions as he fumed, knowing full well that this was him making sure Yuri knew he’d lied about working on the project today 

Yuri made their coffee quickly, glancing at the clock to discover it was finally closing time, returning to the counter to push their coffees across the counter, taking their payments and then thankful when they turned to leave, his breath catching when Seiji called back, “Oh, that’s right! I remember now! You always did like wearing dresses! Didn’t you Chinen?” 

He laughed loudly as he shoved his friend out the door, the bell tinkling and then the door shut behind them, Yuri stared at the door for a moment, his mind flashing through various memories, his heart pounding in his chest at the emotions swirling inside his head, moving across the room without thought to flip the sign on the door and lock it, turning the light outside off with a flip of the switch on the wall, then shifting to lean back on the door, his eyes closing as he tried to get himself together. 

“You alright?” 

Yuri yelped, jumping from the surprise of Ryosuke’s voice beside him, his hand on his chest as he laughed nervously, “Oh my gosh, you scared me I wa—” 

“I’m so sorry,” Ryosuke reached forward, his hand brushing down Yuri’s arm softly before taking a step back, and Yuri wasn’t sure if he was apologizing for startling him or for what he’d just witnessed. 

“Don’t worry about it,” Yuri stepped forward, taking a deep breath, as he began crossing the room, “I have just a few things to do and then I’m all yours.” 

He nearly stumbled over his own feet when he realized how that sounded, his eyes clenching shut when Ryosuke laughed softly from behind him, his voice filled with humor, “Finally! 

“Oh my gosh,” Yuri laughed at himself, shaking his head as he began the closing routine, his cheeks flaming as he peeked at Ryosuke’s mischievous expression, rolling his eyes, “You know what I meant.” 

“I really hope you meant exactly what you said,” Ryosuke grinned as he leaned across the counter, watching Yuri break down the machines and wash the parts, lining them up neatly on a towel, his hands moving like a blur, obviously having done this so many times he could do it in his sleep.  

“Don’t be ridiculous,’ Yuri laughed softly, shaking his head as he continued to move around the counters. 

“I’m not, I’m completely serious,” Ryosuke stated the words firmly, not wanting to make Yuri think there was a remote possibility he meant anything other than exactly what he’d said. 

“Well, then…” Yuri was facing the machine, glad Ryosuke wasn’t looking at him directly, “I’ll see what I can do.” 

“I’ll hold you to it,” Ryosuke responded playfully, his eyes fixated on how cute Yuri was flustered, his movements less fluid, his feet twisted together as he finished working. 

It only took a few minutes more and then Yuri was drying his hands off, “I have something I want to show you, if you have time?” 

“Sure,” Ryosuke shrugged, “Whatever you want, I’m here.” 

Yuri gestured for him to follow him, leading him behind the counter and down a hallway to a doorway, then up a flight of stairs until the floor opened to the room that overlooked the downstairs area, something that surprised Ryosuke, as he’d never even noticed it before. It was a rather large room, containing some video games, along with couches, a television, kitchenette and reading corner, obviously a break room for the employees. Ryosuke was considering the two arcade video game machines and wondering who held the high score when Yuri’s voice called out, “Over here.” 

Ryosuke crossed the room to where Yuri was holding open another door that led to more stairs which they climbed, opening the door at the top to reveal what seemed to be a patio on top of the building. There was no need for lights, as the signs from other buildings, as well as the street lights provided enough cast light to see across the space to where there was a setting with lounge chairs and a tiny table, obviously a place to relax, and then the view…it was exquisite—the bay opening up to reveal the city across from them, the lights twinkling, the city looking alive from where they were in the quiet, quaint district that seemed to already be asleep despite it being early. 

Yuri grabbed Ryosuke’s hand, dragging him over to the lounge chairs, releasing his hand when he plopped down in one, and gestured for Ryosuke to do the same, waiting until he sat down to tell him, “Now look up.” 

Ryosuke wasn’t sure what he meant, leaning his head back to look up at the sky and his breath caught in his chest, as it was the most beautiful view of the sky, the stars twinkling and he couldn’t help but feel like they were smiling down on them, slowly shifting to lay on the chair, folding his hands across his tummy as he took in the view, “Wow, I thought the view of the city was something.” 

“It’s amazing how much you can see when you get outside of the metro area,” Yuri twisted on the chair to look at Ryosuke, “I come here to think sometimes, it’s peaceful and quiet after all the shops close in the evenings.” 

Ryosuke smiled, imagining how nice it would be to have this view all of the time, feeling Yuri’s eyes on him, he shifted to look at him, “This is really nice, thank you for sharing it with me.” 

Yuri nodded, laying his head down on his arm, his eyes fluttering closed and Ryosuke thought he looked so peaceful that he could be sleeping, loathe to bother him, but he couldn’t get the nagging question out of his head, “So…who was that guy?” 

Yuri’s eyes popped open, his brows drawing down, and Ryosuke instantly regretted bringing it up, as the peaceful expression was completely gone, Yuri’s voice soft when he spoke, “An old friend from grade school, he’s in one of my classes now.” 

“Not much of a friend,” Ryosuke mumbled, frowning, trying to stop his mind from racing to the vision of how cute Yuri must have been as a little boy, but he couldn’t help it, smiling when the vision filled his head, then shook his head, “Does that happen a lot?” 

Yuri hummed softly, unsure of what Ryosuke might mean, glad when he spoke to clarify, “I mean…how that guy was rude to you for working here?” 

“Nah,” Yuri turned to lay on his back, his eyes focusing on the stars above them, “We almost always have customers here who are regulars, not a lot of people come here who don’t live in the area to be honest—it’s a small community, I’m pretty sure that Seiji’s friend lives around the corner from here.” 

“I see,” Ryosuke still didn’t like it, he didn’t actually say people didn’t harass him on a regular basis but then he knew it wasn’t up to him to protect Yuri or something, he’d spent enough time here to know that people loved Yuri, they were friendly and kind to him, but something swelled up inside Ryosuke at the thought of someone hurting him, rolling over onto his back to look up at the stars himself, “I don’t know if I could have handled myself as well as you did.” 

“You might surprise yourself,” Yuri answered, shrugging, “It doesn’t bother me.” 

A lot of people say things don’t bother them, but for Yuri this was a complete truth, it didn’t bother him, because the simple fact was, nothing anyone could do to him could be worse than what he’d faced before. Everything paled in comparison to those days, months, years—the pain, the suffering, the way he felt about himself, about those around him, the struggle, and no, he’d never think words from someone who meant nothing to him now could even touch him now. It wasn’t that he’d built walls up around himself so much as he had a proper perspective on things, he just didn’t care if people liked him or not. He was who he is. He would never be anyone else, ever. 

“I wish I could be that way,” Ryosuke spoke the words softly, his eyes focused on the sky above them, “I’m usually good about not worrying about what other people say or think about me—but sometimes it gets to me.” 

He shifted, looking at Yuri again, “I was really angry, I was wanting to come and stop him…and it’s,” Ryosuke swallowed roughly, “It’s not like he was saying anything…horrible, but it just felt like he was trying to hurt you.” 

“He was,” Yuri confirmed it, he knew it was true, there was no other explanation for it, “You don’t have to worry though, I know people like him, I understand what they think and why they think it.” 

“Are you making an excuse for that idiot?” Ryosuke didn’t mean to say the words so heatedly but he couldn’t keep it out of his tone, his brows furrowed in frustration. 

“No,” Yuri blinked softly, his head tilting, “I wouldn’t ever—that kind of awful behavior doesn’t have a place in our lives…so I wouldn’t find an excuse…but, I suppose I would rather someone like that take those feelings out on me instead of someone else, someone who isn’t able to handle it…who is weaker than I am.” 

“I don’t think you’re weak,” Ryosuke inhaled sharply, “You’re strong, one of the strongest people I’ve ever known.” 

Yuri blinked, he felt the heaviness in his chest at these words, at the way he felt like maybe these words didn’t belong to him, not yet—he wasn’t quite there yet, not quite to the point in his life where he thought it was okay to see himself as having finally become who he was meant to be. He never really let people say things like this to him, first, because he didn’t want pity, he didn’t need people feeling sorry for him, and he certainly didn’t need people to prop him up and fill his heart with needless praise…yet, these words didn’t feel like that from Ryosuke, they just felt…right?  

He knew then that if he didn’t stop thinking like this, he was going to cry from these words Ryosuke was speaking into his soul, clearing his throat, whispering, “I hope you’re right.” 

He turned his head away, inhaling slowly, trying to blink back his tears, turning to look at Ryosuke who was suddenly in motion, scrambling off the chair to push the table away, the screeching feet of his chair sliding loud in the silence of the world around them as he pushed it against Yuri’s. He shifted, crawling back onto the chair to lay back down, smiling as he shifted closer still to Yurientwining their hands  together as he used his other hand to pull Yuri’s head against his own, “I know I am.” 

“Shut up,” Yuri laughed as a tear slid down his cheek onto the surface below him. 

“I don’t care what anyone says,” Ryosuke spoke the words softly and it was as if the world held still in anticipation of what he would say next, “I think you’re the most amazing, brilliant, and beautiful human in the world just the way you are.” 

Yuri couldn’t help the sob that tore through his body, not really understanding how he ended up in Ryosuke’s arms, all he knew was he was being held as he tried to control himself, to stop the tears but suddenly it was like he couldn’t stop crying…so…he just did. And Ryosuke held him, his hands running softly on his back, not saying anything at all, not trying to shush him or pretend everything was okay—no, Ryosuke just sat in the pain with him until his tears had abated, and then they shifted, their heads touching as they turned to stare at the sparkling sky. 

“Thank you,” Yuri whispered, his fingers gripping Ryosuke’s tightly, hoping he could hear all the words he wished he could speak. 

“I’m here, it’s where I want to be, and I’ll take care of you, as much as you’ll let me,” Ryosuke meant these words more than any promise or oath ever spoken, “You mean the world to me.” 

Yuri didn’t know what to say, his mind whirling with thoughts and feelings that felt inappropriate after such a short period of time together, but then, he couldn’t imagine a life where these words weren’t real and vital and something meant to be spoken, “I never thought I could have this.” 

“What?” Ryosuke shifted, tilting his head so he could see Yuri’s face. 

“Someone who cared about me,” Yuri admitted, “Who would feel like…like maybe I am really important.” 

“You are important,” Ryosuke corrected him. 

I am really used to being alone,” Yuri admitted, certain one of these revelations would be the one that drove Ryosuke away, especially now that he’d seen him cry. 

“You didn’t have to be alone anymore,” Ryosuke responded, smiling, “I’ll be here if you’ll let me.” 

“Why me?” It still didn’t make sense to Yuri, he wished he could understand, fully comprehend. 

“How to explain this?” Ryosuke drew his hand up to press his fingers against the bridge of his nose for a moment, “It was just always you…I know that sounds crazy maybe? But…from the first time I met you, it was just you—like those stories or fairy tales where they say those really cliché things like ‘the world tilted’ or ‘everything stopped’ except, seriously, that’s how I felt, so the real answer is, it was always you, there was no other choice for me, it had to be you.” 

Yuri swallowed roughly, trying to think of how to respond, because Ryosuke had a while to figure out his feelings but Yuri had built up some many walls, had spent so much of his life protecting himself, sheltering his heart and soul from pain, that he hadn’t even imagined he’d ever find someone to remotely care about him, let alone any kind of romantic love. That was something for other people, for people who weren’t like him—yet, Ryosuke broke through every single wall Yuri had built almost instantly and that was crazy, because he felt like he knew him, and somehow it felt like Ryosuke knew him as well.  

But still, he was no one, he was nothing, compared to someone as amazingly talented and gifted and beautiful as Ryosuke…his eyes blinked slowly as he took in Ryosuke’s expression, which softened as if he could read Yuri’s mind. 

“You don’t see yourself clearly,” Ryosuke’s fingertips traced Yuri’s cheek before he leaned forward, pressing a tender kiss to Yuri’s forehead, “The world…people are filled with so much darkness, their spirits are so ugly—but you’re…like a light in the darkest night…you radiate something…so beautiful.” 

Yuri wanted to stop the words, but he couldn’t, “I’m just really broken, Ryosuke, I wish I could be who you think I am.” 

“Don’t be dumb, I know who you are! One day I’ll convince you that I see you better than you see yourself,” Ryosuke shook his head, “Haven’t you ever noticed that fractured glass can cast light further than smooth glass? Being ‘broken’ doesn’t change the light you emit; it just serves to amplify it. It’s just who you are…you’re so pure of heart, and you’re so mindful of the world around you and you care so much about others!” 

“Doesn’t everyone care?” Yuri felt naïve asking but it did indeed feel like maybe Ryosuke saw the world in a way that’s different than how he saw it himself—and maybe that meant that he really did see Yuri in a way that Yuri couldn’t see himself. 

“No,” Ryosuke laughed bitterly, “No, they don’t…honestly, how can you not know this? Someone was horrible to you earlier and you were nothing but nice to that asshat.” 

“His words didn’t reach me,” Yuri tried to think of how to articulate what he felt, “I just think he must be sad in his world, lonely even, to be someone who goes around trying to hurt other people like that…if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else—so I guess…after all, I am glad that it was me.” 

“You feel like you saved someone else from being hurt?” 

“Yeah,” Yuri frowned, “But it sounds self-serving when it’s spoken like that.” 

“Believe me,” Ryosuke laughed, pulling Yuri against his chest to hug him again, “It’s the furthest thing from self-serving, that’s obvious to me.” 

They stayed like that for a long time, eventually, turning to face the sky, Yuri hugged against Ryosuke’s side as they talked about the stars, Ryosuke’s hand would sometimes tighten against his waist, like he was testing to make sure he was still there, then they’d both fall into peaceful silence, drifting off to sleep to the lullaby of the world around them. It was peaceful and perfect, and then Yuri suddenly jerked awake, yawning widely, which caused Ryosuke to laugh, “Feels like that’s my cue to let you go to bed.” 

“I don’t want to,” Yuri pouted, leaning up on his elbow to look down at Ryosuke, “I want to stay here with you.” 

“Do you have school tomorrow?” Ryosuke’s voice was soft, not wanting to change the atmosphere, his fingers feeling like they were made to hold Yuri just like this.  

“Nope, I am completely off tomorrow—I don’t have work or school on Wednesdays,” Yuri shivered at the cooling night air, “Why?” 

“I have an interview tomorrow, and then I don’t have anything else the rest of the day…maybe I could see you?” 

“That would be…” Yuri wanted to say something like ‘amazing’ or ‘fantastic’ or ‘wonderful’ but thought maybe it would be too eager, but then he realized that Ryosuke could probably read him pretty well anyway, smiling as he spoke the word, “Perfect.” 

“Cool,” Ryosuke reluctantly released Yuri, pulling his cellphone as he sat up, tapping some buttons on it as the screen lit up his face, Yuri couldn’t help but marvel at how pretty he really was. 

He shifted to sit up, glancing away, not wanting to intrude on Ryosuke’s privacy, but then Ryosuke asked him, “Do you have a regular schedule then?” 

“Yeah,” Yuri nodded, glancing over at him. 

“Can I….could you let me…have it?” Ryosuke seemed flustered asking for it and in reality, Yuri supposed it was a very private request, and one that he only really gave to his Mom and sister as a matter of course. 

“Sure,” Yuri nodded, surprised when Ryosuke thrust his phone into Yuri’s hands. 

“Just input it right there,” Ryosuke pointed to the screen. 

Yuri looked down at the calendar, realizing it was mostly like the one that they used for their work schedule, quickly inputting his information, watching as the automation populated the full calendar with his information, thinking it was the cutest that his color was pink on the dates he’d input. 

“Wow, you’re insanely busy!” Yuri couldn’t help but comment on how absolutely packed the calendar was, filled so much in some blocks there was an overflow button, with a veritable rainbow of colors. 

“Oh,” Ryosuke laughed, “It’s our group schedule, like…we all have access to it and our managers keep all of our various jobs on it so we can keep up with our own schedule as well as the other members. I can click this,” his finger pressed the red box on the top of the screen,”…then it just shows all of my work.” 

Ryosuke looked at the page, now populated with his red blocks as well as Yuri’s pink ones, liking the way it looked, he smiled, “Well, and yours too, but don’t worry, the other members can’t see those, I have it set to private, only I can see what you added.” 

“Huh,” Yuri looked at the screen, pulling the phone closer, his eyes scanning the text there, acutely aware of Ryosuke’s eyes on him, making him wonder internally if it was rude to look so carefully at this information, to discover these things about his private life, his eyes scanned the list of work projects–dance rehearsals, studio recordings, magazine photo shoots, tv show recordings, promotional appearances, meetings, even things like hair and nail appointments were listed there.  

Yuri’s eyes moved without his permission to where Ryosuke’s hands were resting on his knees, his eyebrow raising slightly as he had to acknowledge that for a guy his hands were exceptionally manicured.  

Such pretty hands. 

FOCUS. 

His eyes snapped back to the screen, but not before Ryosuke twisted his fingers together in what he could only imagine as nervousness. 

Bless his heart. 

He wanted to comfort him, tell him he wasn’t judging him, knowing in his heart that he couldn’t imagine how weird it must be to constantly be on display, to always need to be 100% on your a-game and always presenting your idol face…how exhausting it must be. 

As he scrolled through the endless list of work, not minding the way his schedule intermingled with Ryosuke’s, he couldn’t help but realize that Ryosuke worked really hard…harder than he’d ever worked which was saying a lot given his obsessive need to be better than anyone else at…anything.  

Pretty much. 

Yet, Ryosuke’s schedule was shockingly busy, with so many different things it sort of made Yuri’s head spin. He was fortunate to keep up with four classes and a full-time job…that was always in the same place.  

Yuri blinked when the screen flashed and a message popped up over top of the schedule he was looking at, confused as he read the words, quickly followed by other messages flashing up underneath. 


Daiki: Well, Ryosuke, how’s it going with your hottie? (´`) 

Yuto: Yeah, how’s it going Yama-chan? (´)Ψ 

Yabu: Guys, c’mon. ┐(´д`)┌ 


Yuri swallowed thickly, his cheeks feeling hot with embarrassment as he realized that he was looking at a group chat and that these messages were clearly meant to be for Ryosuke’s eyes, his voice soft as he held the phone out, shaking it, “I umm…I think your friends…” 

“Huh? Wha–” Ryosuke took the phone from Yuri, turning the screen to see what he was referring to, his eyes widening for split second before his teeth bit into his bottom lip as his entire face turned red all the way up to his ears. 

Oh my gosh, he’s the cutest human in the world. 

Ryosuke’s eyes lifted to look at Yuri and then snapped closed, sighing softly, “I’m so…this is…just…my members are just… 

Yuri wanted to rescue him, to save him, his mind whirling with infinite ideas of what he could possibly do to make Ryosuke okay the way he had made him okay before, grabbing the phone from Ryosuke, tapping the screen quickly and pressing it back into his hands. 

Ryosuke opened his eyes, glancing down at the screen at the words that were written. 


Ryosuke: Things are going great. ω^ We’re stargazing. <–from the “hottie”  


Yuri laughed nervously, suddenly shocked by his own boldness, the words blurting out, “I assumed I was the hottie.” 

Ryosuke couldn’t help but laugh, shoving his shoulder into Yuri’s as he smiled, “Yeah, that would be accurate.” 

Yuri studied Ryosuke as he watched the screen scrolling with the sudden influx of responses to the message he had sent, impossibly captivated by his expression as he read what his friends were saying,  his head turning to look at Yuri with a bashful smile. 

“We could send them a picture? If you wouldn’t mind being in one wi—” 

Yuri shifted before Ryosuke could finish the thought, leaning around against Ryosuke’s back to position himself for the picture, Ryosuke lifted the camera, his voice soft, “I can’t be as cute as you are, but I’ll do my best.” 

Yuri meant to smile for the picture but couldn’t help that he looked over at Ryosuke, his expression probably betraying his feelings about Ryosuke saying something as absurd as that when between the two of them he was the one who reached Greek god status without even trying.  

Ryosuke sent the picture, the scrolling increasing as the other members responded, causing Ryosuke to click his phone off, turning his head to look at Yuri, surprised by how close he was still sitting to him, realizing he was still leaning a little bit against his back. 

“I think they got it wrong though,” Yuri tilted his head, his eyes holding an emotion Ryosuke couldn’t really name. 

“How so?” Ryosuke wondered, taking his hand again, loving the feeling of Yuri’s hand in his. 

“Because…” Yuri paused, blinking softly, feeling a little flustered now that he was about to say it out loud, “I mean…” 

He almost lost his nerve, he almost inserted some other words, some other something, but he knew Ryosuke would see through him, rushing the words out, “You’re the hottie here.” 

“Well,” Ryosuke smiled, his eyes twinkling in the lights from the streets around them, but to Yuri it just looked like the stars reflecting in them, “We’ll just have to agree to disagree.” 

When he said the last word, he reached forward to boop Yuri’s nose before she shifted to stand up, stretching with a squeak before he reached his hand out to Yuri, “But for now, I think you need sleep.” 

Yuri wanted to argue but he was actually really tired, and not sure what time it was at this point, and surely Ryosuke needed sleep before he went to work the next day as well, reaching up to take his hand and allowing himself to be pulled up, he agreed, “I guess so…” 

They made their way downstairs, making sure the doors closed properly and Yuri did a quick walkthrough to make sure he didn’t forget anything, satisfied with everything, he clicked the door locked, drawing the keys out to put into his pocket before he turned to see Ryosuke leaning against his car where he’d parked behind the building as if knowing they’d be coming back there at the end of the day.  

He was so pretty, standing there with the neon lights from the street behind him, the glimmery color of his red car a beautiful backdrop, his feet stretched out in front of him, his arms crossed as he seemed to be studiously watching Yuri. It made him feel a little uncomfortable, his fingers fumbling with the keys as he finally slid them into his pocket, taking a deep breath, “So…” 

Ryosuke blinked, as if he’d been caught up in his own thoughts, immediately standing up straight and shuffling forward to reach for Yuri’s hands, holding them softly in his own, “I don’t know what time I will be finished tomorrow for sure…do you have plans?” 

“Nope,” Yuri shrugged, “I’m available all day.” 

“Okay,” Ryosuke tilted his head, “I can…email you when I am leaving to come here?” 

“Sure,” Yuri nodded, and then swallowed roughly, “I...what did you want to do?” 

His heart immediately began to pound wildly in his chest as he thought maybe it was such that Ryosuke would want to hang out around here, or even imagine that he would want to come to his house or something and it was all Yuri could do to stop himself from running away immediately out of fear that who he really was would be exposed. 

“I dunno, we can decide tomorrow if you want?” Ryosuke studied Yuri, then frowned, “What are you worried about?” 

“ME?” Yuri’s voice was high and obviously he was deflecting, clearing his throat, “Nothing, that sounds fine, I can…I could just…” 

“We can meet here if you’d like?” Ryosuke offered, his eyebrow raising slightly as if to tell Yuri he knew what he was worried about but wasn’t going to force him to admit it. 

“Sure,” Yuri nodded, “That would be good…you email me and then I’ll meet you here, I just live a little bit aways.” 

“That sounds good,” Ryosuke nodded, then without pause moved forward to draw Yuri into his arms, holding him softly as he whispered, “You know, Yuri, you will have to share your world with me at one point or another.” 

Yuri clenched his eyes closed, his fingers grasping onto the soft fabric of Ryosuke’s shirt, his mind whirling with a million things he wanted to say but before he could work himself up into a complete frenzy, he felt Ryosuke’s hands flatten on his back, and it was such a different hug all of a sudden. Soft, but secure, and it was less like he was hugging him and more like he was embracing him as his voice spoke softly, “Whenever you’re ready, of course.” 

Yuri laughed nervously, because honestly, he wasn’t sure when he’d be ready, but Ryosuke deserved his honesty, deserved to be trusted, after all he’d literally shown him his calendar and work related stuff today without any hesitation, “Okay,” he nodded his head, “I will…I’ll try to be…brave.” 

Ryosuke drew back then, his eyes soft, “What do you think you need to be brave for? What do you think is going to happen?” 

“You might…” Yuri bit his lip, looking bashfully up at him, “What if you…find out more about me, and I’m…I’m not who you think I am?” 

Ryosuke’s expression changed and Yuri knew that he felt hurt, his fingers grasping onto Ryosuke’s shirt, when his mouth opened and closed as if he weren’t sure what to say, Yuri rushing the words out, “I don’t mean it’s because of you, it’s…not you, it’s me, it’s how I would see it…I just…”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” Ryosuke shook his head, “I know I probably can’t convince you of anything, but…I wish you had more trust in how I see you than that.” 

Yuri felt ashamed, because there hadn’t been a single thing that indicated that Ryosuke would be the type to judge him at all, nor that he’d think less of Yuri because of his circumstances, frowning as he looked down, his eyes blinking when Ryosuke lifted his chin with his fingertips, his smile endearing, “I understand—you don’t have to push yourself to do a single thing you’re not ready for, okay?” 

“Okay,” Yuri reached forward and this time, it was him who hugged Ryosuke and he could swear that he was trembling in his arms as he grasped him tightly. 

Ryosuke finally drew back, his fingers running into the base of Yuri’s hair before he pressed a soft, lingering kiss to his cheek, then stepped back, “Then I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?” 

“Yep!” Yuri knew he was smiling like an idiot, but he couldn’t help it, this amazingly wonderful guy was here with him, out of all the places in the world he could be. 

“I can drive you home if you’d like?” Ryosuke shuffled his feet in the dirt, his eyes moving to look at the ground between them, “No pressure…of course…” 

“That would be…nice,” Yuri spoke the words before he could change his mind, unable to hide his smile when Ryosuke’s head jerked up in surprise his expression clearly disbelieving.  

“O-okay,” Ryosuke stuttered for a moment before he walked to the passenger door to open it, gesturing for Yuri to follow him.  

Yuri blinked and he was sitting in the car, jumping when the door shut next to him, his mind whirling, screaming that he was actually sitting in this car, this car that felt like it was molding to his form, his hands shaking as he reached for the seatbelt, jerking to the side when the driver’s door opened and Ryosuke climbed in, closing the door and putting his own seatbelt on, not noticing Yuri’s reactions. 

Yuri folded his hands in his lap, inhaling the soft pleasant scent, his eyes gliding across the smooth surface to land on a little gadget attached to the vent that he knew was one of those oil diffusers, not remotely surprised that Ryosuke really did buy the things he said he would on television programs.  

“Where to?” Ryosuke’s voice broke him out of his internal thoughts, looking over at Ryosuke who somehow looked even more gorgeous behind the wheel of this ridiculous vehicle. 

“Just pull out of the lot and turn right, you will drive down past the park,” Yuri watched Ryosuke as he reversed and pulled out onto the street, turning to watch the roads so they didn’t miss his turn. After they’d gone the several blocks to pass the park, he sat forward a bit, “Just up there, you’re going to turn right.” 

Ryosuke slowed down, glancing over at Yuri, “At that corner with the little ramen shop?” 

“Yeah,” Yuri nodded, his tummy flipping as he thought that this fancy car was going to drive down these streets. 

Ryosuke turned onto the road carefully, as it was one of the smaller roads that led away from the shopping district, driving slowly to avoid any issues with stray animals or such as it immediately felt like he’d been thrust into a different part of the world, the buildings were all touching, the streets were decorated with flags and lanterns and banners to denote little family owned shops, then above them were patios and decks, laundry lines and lawn chairs, the atmosphere reminded him of those festivals they used to go to—and maybe that is what the festivals were meant to represent after all? Maybe they were meant to show the small town feels of these kinds of communities, a far cry from the sterile, impersonal world where Ryosuke spent most of his time. 

They’d driven for a bit, and Ryosuke had to wonder if there might be a shortcut Yuri used to walk this far on foot from Pink…because it seemed like they’d driven quite a distance, but then he considered maybe it felt that way just because he was driving so slowly. 

He glanced over at Yuri who looked like he was drawn up into the smallest form possible, like he was folding in on himself, and without thought, he reached over to take his hand, his eyes wide when Yuri jumped, “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you…” 

“It’s okay, it’s fine…” Yuri looked at Ryosuke’s hand which was still extended, reaching up to take it with his own, clenching tightly to Ryosuke’s fingers and when he looked over at him, he knew he wasn’t hiding anything. 

“Everything’s okay,” Ryosuke had slowed down so much he was nearly stopped in the road, his eyes pleading with Yuri, “I can drop you off here, if you don’t want me to go all the way…” 

“That’s stupid,” Yuri shook his head, “We’re almost there.” 

Ryosuke did stop the car, his eyes not moving from Yuri’s, “I don’t have to go there, if you don’t want me to.” 

Yuri blinked slowly, his eyes watery, and he felt stupid, his heart pounding in his chest, “Are…you sure?” 

“Yeah, of course,” Ryosuke moved the car forward to pull over, at least as much as pulling over to the side of the road worked when it came to these tiny roads, putting the car in park, twisting to look at Yuri, “This is good, thank you for letting me bring you this far…” 

Yuri couldn’t speak, his voice lost to the thoughts whirling through his mind, finally actually seeing Ryosuke when he spoke softly, “This community reminds me of the festivals we used to attend at school—they are filled with people who smile at you and wave, with families that take care of each other…”  

Yuri tilted his head, trying to understand what Ryosuke actually saw, glancing around the streets before him, seeing only the normal landscape he could map out with his eyes closed, everything familiar, but to him, this was something else, something so far removed from the metro Tokyo area, from Shibuya where he figured Ryosuke lived—at least he thought he’d read that somewhere once, “It has to be such a huge difference from where you live…” 

Ryosuke studied Yuri’s profile, glad when he turned to look at him, “Different doesn’t mean it’s bad.” 

Yuri thought about this for a moment, chewing his lip for a moment before he nodded, “I suppose not…” he glanced around and then pointed to the alley just ahead, “If you turn there, you can go back the same way you came, so you won’t get lost…it can be confusing.” 

His hand reached to undo the seatbelt, and then he looked over at Ryosuke who was smiling, like he wasn’t remotely put out that Yuri wouldn’t let him go the rest of the way to where he lived, “Thank you for coming to see me tonight, it was really nice,” Yuri reached over to touch Ryosuke’s hand which instantly grabbed his within his own.  

“It was my pleasure,” Ryosuke clicked the button so the doors would unlock, “I’ll see you tomorrow?” 

“Yeah,” Yuri nodded, opening the car door and standing up to lean back down to speak, “I’ll wait for your email.” 

“Sounds good!” Ryosuke watched as Yuri closed the door, waving to him when he lifted his hand to wave to him, watching as he walked down the sidewalk. He waited until Yuri had moved to the next block before he shifted the car into gear and drove to the ally that Yuri had told him to use to turn around in, backing out, he realized that Yuri was stopped just a short ways down the block, speaking to someone who was sitting outside of a building, before he disappeared into the door next to the person.  

“Huh,” Ryosuke shook his head, realizing that Yuri had almost let him go all the way, he’d very nearly done it and he was glad to know that Yuri didn’t have very far to go after all, as he reversed out, he glanced back, seeing the light come on in the uppermost windows and he realized that must be where Yuri lived. He glanced around, trying to commit some of the landmarks to his memory so that he would know where he was, and it made him happy to know this one little thing about Yuri, this one detail that maybe he didn’t really mind sharing with him, even if it made him too nervous there at the end, the truth was, Yuri had to have known he’d see him go into that building.  

He thought about ways he could make Yuri more comfortable as he drove home, not very versed at these kinds of relationship nuances after all, he’d never been in a relationship with anyone before, so he felt like he needed to figure out how to handle this…he reached over to push the button on his dash, dialing his Mom, because he was sure no one would be able to help him more than she could.  

 


 

Yuri listened to the messages from Saya, rolling his eyes as he dialed her number, her voice trill when she answered on the first ring, “It’s about time!” 

“Saya,” Yuri rolled his eyes, “We’re not doing this every night.” 

“Then tell me why you aren’t home!” Saya snapped, “I don’t understand what you’re hiding, you know I get nervous, I just want to know you’re okay!” 

“I met someone,” Yuri blurted the words out just to shut her up and immediately regretted it, drawing the phone away from his ear as she commenced to screaming in his ear. 

“Saya!” Yuri threw his hand up in the air, “This is exactly why I don’t tell you things!!” 

“Okay, okay, okay, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she was wheezing from her excitement, “I’m okay, it’s okay, just…who? Who!? TELL ME!” 

Yuri sat in silence, contemplating telling her anything at all, her voice frantic in his ear, “Are you going to tell me?” 

“No, not yet,” Yuri answered honestly, shushing her when she began to protest, “I’ll tell you, okay? Just…let me have a little bit, I don’t want to…get invested and it not be what I think it is.” 

“What does that mean?” 

“Just…it’s complicated, okay?” Yuri pressed his forehead down onto his desk, “I just…I want to be careful.” 

“Okay,” Saya’s voice was normal again, and Yuri scoffed, “Just like that?” 

“Yeah, just like that—I just wanted to know you’re okay, and besides if this guy hurts you, he’ll have to contend with me, and we both know how that will turn out.” 

Yuri knew it was true, laughing softly, “I know, that’s what I’m worried about here Sis.” 

“I’m glad we’re on the same page then,” Saya sighed, “When do I get to meet him?” 

“Later,” Yuri reached over to turn on his computer, “I’m not introducing you until I’m sure.”

Sure, about what?”

“If he really likes me…” Yuri didn’t like saying it out loud, it felt wrong and like he was not being fair to Ryosuke but after all, he did need to figure this out, and Saya was the only person he could talk to. 

“Why wouldn’t he like you!?” Saya’s voice was incredulous, “Who wouldn’t love you?! You’re perfect!” 

“Shut up,” Yuri laughed, shaking his head, “I told you, it’s complicated!” 

“Okay, fine, whatever, just…isn’t there something you can tell me? C’mon, you’re killing me here!?” 

“He’s beautiful…like…inhumanly beautiful,” Yuri spoke the words without much thought, opening up his email. 

“Oh, like, beautiful by your standards or beautiful by MY standards? Because we don’t always agree on who is beautiful…” 

They both spoke the name at the same time, “Eichi!” then burst into fits of giggles together.  

It felt good to laugh, Yuri felt genuinely happy, “I think he’s definitely up to your standard.” 

“Well, then he only has to pass one other test…”  

“What’s that?” Yuri wondered, as his eyes widened when he saw there was an email from Ryosuke. 

“Mom,” Saya spoke the word with reverence, and Yuri closed his eyes, nodding, then speaking since he realized Saya couldn’t see him, “Yeah, that…that’s true.” 

“If you like him then she will,” Saya reassured him, “All she wants is for you to be happy, if he makes you happy, she’ll love him.” 

While Saya was talking, Yuri took time to quickly scan the email from Ryosuke. 

 


 Yuri-chan, 

Thank you for sharing the stars in the sky with me tonight, you have the most beautiful view of the world and it’s an honor to get to see even the smallest part of it.  

I’m looking forward to tomorrow!  

Sleep sweet! 

Ryosuke 

P.S. I LOVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS ღゝ◡╹)ノ 


 

Yuri smiled at the email, glad Saya wasn’t there to see him grinning like an idiot, his voice soft when he answered her finally, “Saya, he makes me so happy.” 

“Good,” her voice was soft in his ear, “You only deserve happiness, Yur…oh, what are you doing tomorrow?” 

Being happy,” Yuri responded knowing she’d understand, which made her squeal loudly in his ear, “OH MY GOSH!!! Another date tomorrow!?! What is happening with my baby bro?” 

Yuri just laughed softly, feeling shy all of a sudden, even with Saya. 

“Well, go to bed then, I’ll check in tomorrow okay? Get some rest,” Yuri couldn’t help but wonder at how easily she let that go, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.  

“If you come here tomorrow, I will seriously kick your ass, Saya,” he hissed into the phone. 

“Damn,” she huffed, “How do you do that!?” 

“I know you. I’m hanging up now.” 

“Love you,” she whispered softly.  

“Love you, too, and...Saya,” Yuri swallowed awkwardly, “…just…thanks.” 

“Oh my gosh, just shut up.” 

The line was silent then, Yuri put the phone back on the receiver, knowing she’d hung up, because they were far better at harassing one another than with real feelings most of the time, but there was no one in the world who would be there to have his back if he needed them like Saya.  

He typed out a quick message to send to Ryosuke thanking him for the evening and that he was super excited about the next day as well and that he’d be unreasonably stalking his email while waiting to hear from him. He chose to ignore the comment on his email address completely.  

After he settled down, bundled up in his blankets against the cool air, his mind drifted, sleep soft on the edges of his mind, considering whether his Mom would like Ryosuke or not, then firmly deciding after a moment that she would most certainly adore him. 

Just like I do. 

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Music Inspiration: We’ll Be A Dream–We The Kings featuring Demi Lovato

Dinner ended up being a lot of fun, despite Yuri being a huge ball of nerves for the first twenty minutes or so, he stayed mostly silent, nodding his head and answering in monosyllabic responses as they settled down and looked over the menus, ordered food, and waited to be served. He was pretty amazed by the way Ryosuke just sort of seemed to be so self-assured and relaxed—taking control of pretty much everything and handling ordering and everything. The only thing Yuri could think was that it was a byproduct of being an idol…it was no telling the kinds of situations that Ryosuke was thrust into on a regular basis, so it wasn’t really surprising he seemed to take most everything in stride.   

The only time he really showed any nervousness was when the ticket came.  

“I know we didn’t discuss this,” Ryosuke had swallowed roughly, his eyes sincere when he looked up at Yuri who had no idea what in the world he had become so serious over, “…but…I would like to pay for your dinner. I mean, I am the one who asked you to come here with me.”  

Yuri tilted his head, not completely sure what the proper etiquette was for this moment—like was he supposed to initially turn this offer down? The way he’d seen in movies, was like the person denied it and then they would go back and forth, and the person would relent. Is that being polite? Is that how he should handle it? Or…was he supposed to immediately thank him for his generosity? To say yes up front? Because he was right, he did invite him, didn’t he? Was he supposed to insist on paying half? Was he supposed to offer to pay all of it?  

His mind buzzed with all of the possibilities, nervousness feeling like it was suffocating him, trying to calculate how much money he actually had in his pockets and whether it would be enough to pay for the meal or not—and then would he still have enough to get home—an entirely other issue, as he had no idea where they even were but given the distance they’d traveled he figured his apartment definitely wasn’t within walking distance.  

He was so confused, after all, in reality, this was his very first date.   

Ryosuke immediately sensed the panic that was flooding Yuri, reaching his hand out to squeeze Yuri’s under the table, “Hey…it’s not a big deal. I’ll pay this time and next time I promise that we’ll discuss it and make sure we’re on the same page before we get to the end of the meal…will that be okay?”  

Yuri wanted to say no…he wasn’t sure why, but he suspected it was a pride issue, he wasn’t used to people taking care of money things—he’d lived on his own for so long now and insisted on being self-sufficient, the very idea of someone paying for his food felt like an insult.   

But…aren’t dates different…isn’t this okay?  

What if it’s because he feels sorry for me though?   

What if it’s because he pities me?  

“Yuri?” Ryosuke’s voice was soft as he leaned closer to him, “I really wanted to take you out for so long now…please let this be my date, and next time we can discuss it. It’s not because I think you can’t pay or don’t want to pay or anything like that—it’s because I want to do this and it’s something in my head about the order of things—I just…I guess it’s stupid and old fashioned, but…I just want to pay…please…just let me this one time?”  

“Okay,” the word was just a whisper, and Yuri didn’t even realize what he’d said because he was still stuck on the words that Ryosuke had just said.   

This time…  

and next time…  

Next time.  

He wants to go out again.  

Yuri shook himself out of his internal musings when Ryosuke shifted to move out of his chair, apparently having paid for the meal while Yuri was lost in his thoughts, his smile beautiful when he turned to to wait for Yuri to be ready, his hands grasping a small box that contained the piece of pizza they couldn’t eat, “I had them box this up for you…”  

“Thank you,” Yuri felt his cheeks become warm, standing, and moving with Ryosuke toward the exit, “For the pizza and for this…all of this…just thank you.”  

Ryosuke was studying him, his brows drawn down, “You’re welcome, and I want to say thank you as well…”  

“I didn’t do anything,” Yuri admitted weakly, shaking his head but Ryosuke shushed him immediately, “You gave me a chance, you came here with me, that’s everything.”  

Yuri shook his head, wondering how Ryosuke knew how to say everything so perfectly, wishing he had some of that ability as it felt like he was more or less constantly putting his foot in his mouth and embarrassing himself. Turning away from him, as he didn’t really know what to say, he was feeling weird about the fact that he’d only just realized that the probability was that Ryosuke was that seasoned at this because he’d probably been on tons of dates before.   

Of course, he has, he probably has a line of girls…or…guys? I dunno, but he probably has a whole line of them waiting to go out with him…  

He felt like his whole body was on fire as a wave of pure jealousy spread through him, his fingers clenching tightly at the thought but then he chided himself because he had no rights to have any kinds of questionable feelings about anything in regard to Ryosuke.   

He’s him, and I’m me.  

Don’t be stupid. 

Don’t get carried away. 

Though, the very idea of Ryosuke dating other people was a surprise to Yuri really, because he thought the idols weren’t allowed to date, but if Ryosuke’s behavior was any indication—then he’d surely done this plenty of times. There was a small voice in the back of his head that argued with him, replaying the words from earlier that afternoon to remind him of how sincere and nervous Ryosuke had been, trying to measure this current Ryosuke side by side with that one.   

Yuri glanced up at the sky, surprised to discover it was completely dark, “Oh my gosh, how long were we in there?”  

Ryosuke laughed, “A while I guess,” glancing at his watch, he smiled, “It’s almost ten!”  

“Wow!” Yuri was amazed they’d talked that long, it had felt like minutes—not hours, and then, suddenly he felt a yawn coming on moments before it actually burst out, his apology distorted as he waved his hand in front of his face, “I’m sorry, I swear I’m not bored…I had classes this morning and then work right after so…”  

“I’m so sorry I didn’t even think about how early you must have gotten up today, seriously, let me take you home,” Ryosuke waited for Yuri to answer, glancing up and down the street to see if there was a taxi available.  

Let me take you home.  

Yuri felt a brick settle into the pit of his tummy, because he was not prepared for this date, and he certainly wasn’t prepared to have Ryosuke see his home.  

Nope…not happening.   

His eyes widened as anxiety spread through him, his expression worried for a moment before he could school his expression, but Ryosuke saw it, “What’s wrong?”  

“Nothing,” Yuri tried to keep the panic out of his voice, shrugging, shifting the box that held his extra slice of pizza from one hand to the other nervously, “I just don’t want you to be put out, I can get a taxi and head home, there’s nothing for you to concern yourself with.”  

He wanted to kick his own ass for being so weird, honestly, who is so formal with someone on a date when they’d spent five hours talking about stupid stuff including the most mortifying time in his life when the first time he’d gotten drunk at a party then promptly confessed his undying love to the most popular boy in school.   

Ryosuke stared at Yuri for a moment, clearly trying to read the situation, shrugging, his voice soft, “We can do whatever you want to do, there’s no pressure here…” Ryosuke shuffled his feet, glancing down at the ground between them, “…but…I mean, I really don’t mind…and it’s…quite a ways back to the café…and I don’t know where you live…so…”  

You don’t know where I live, and it will be a cold day in hell before you do…  

Yuri tilted his head, trying to think of how to explain something, anything to Ryosuke that might make sense, “I don’t know where we are to be honest,” he felt bashful suddenly, “I don’t really go very many places, mostly from home to school to work to home to school and so on…then to my Mom’s and my Grandmother’s but otherwise…I am more or less a creature of habit so to speak. So, I guess, it’s good taxi drivers know the city so well.”  

“Well, at least I can take you to a taxi,” Yuri could tell by Ryosuke’s voice that it wasn’t what he really wanted to do and he had to wonder how far Ryosuke would go to make him feel comfortable?  

Ryosuke held his hand out, “Would that be okay?”  

“Alright,” Yuri nodded, his eyes looking at Ryosuke’s hand for a long moment before he tentatively reached out, not closing the distance between them, but not particularly surprised when Ryosuke reached further and grabbed his hand, turning to lead him to the corner where they could wait for a taxi.  

As they stood together waiting, Yuri wondered about each of the people who were passing them by, certainly there weren’t all that many out at this hour, but he was still really curious, tugging on Ryosuke’s hand, causing Ryosuke to glance over at him, “Is…is this okay?”  

Ryosuke looked at him curiously, “Is what okay?”  

“This,” he wiggled their hands, “I mean…is it okay for you to…be…so open like this?”  

Ryosuke finally caught up after his expression had twisted into the cutest little confused face Yuri had ever seen, laughing, “It’s just a rumor we’re not allowed to date.”  

“Really?” Yuri tried to make sense of that, because he’d always heard that the idols weren’t allowed to have relationships at all.   

Well, you idiot, you already decided he’d been dating a lot of people before now, obviously, he’s allowed to date, duh. 

“Yeah,” Ryosuke shrugged, glancing down the road to see if there was a taxi approaching yet, “I mean, we’re supposed to be…discreet…but there’s no real policy about it. It just sells more products if we keep that illusion, that’s all…”  

“Isn’t it important for you to keep that illusion?” Yuri asked, unable to stop himself because he knew Ryosuke—Ryosuke the Idol.  

Hell, everyone knows Ryosuke…he’s a national idol…he’s stupidly famous.  

There’s never been a single rumor about him and any girls. 

Which means the girls he went out with were really good people…because… 

He’s never been caught on a date before. 

He’s the prince character in his group.  

He’s the one all the girls wanted to marry.  

Wouldn’t him being discovered dating be destructive to his career?  

Wouldn’t dating a guy be even more destructive?  

Ryosuke had been staring at Yuri while he considered what it was Yuri might really want to know, “I won’t get in trouble for taking you out, if that’s what you’re wondering,” he carefully released Yuri’s hand, gesturing to the bench outside the restaurant behind them, “Sit for a moment?” 

“Alright,” Yuri followed him to the bench where Ryosuke sat, turning his body sideways so he could look at Yuri while he spoke. 

“I…it’s just…You make me forget who I am,” Ryosuke blurted the words out, laughing nervously after he said it, “Like…I don’t mean to be so…direct…or…yes, I mean….it is true about the way we’re supposed to be, and I’m not…I mean there’s no rule, but I have been…advised.” 

“Advised?” Yuri was curious what kind of ‘advisement’ Johnny’s would give to an idol of Ryosuke’s stature.  

“Yeah, like…we have these meetings and stuff and of course, my manager knows everything, it’s impossible to keep anything from him—and it’s like…you make me want to forget all of that, to just not think about it.”  

“It must be hard?” Yuri had wondered about this, about this kind of life and what it must be like for someone like Ryosuke.  

“It can be, but I mean, I made the choice, I want to be where I am, right? I want to be who I am, I’m happy and satisfied, so…it’s just so confusing.” 

Ryosuke tilted his head up to look at the stars in the sky, sighing, “I know it is wisdom to not be involved with anyone…that I should you know…” 

Yuri felt his heart clench, these words not ones he wanted to hear, not now, not after this evening. 

Ryosuke glanced back at Yuri, his brows drawn down as he shook his head, expression sad, “I just…I know I should be careful and it’s probably a really bad thing for my career…”  

Oh no…please.  

Yuri felt like he could burst into tears, his eyes instantly stinging from the imminent rejection he felt coming on.   

Ryosuke shifted, his body turning toward the road as he tried to gather his thoughts, chewing on his bottom lip and he chastised himself for not having this already figured out, for not already addressing this. He’d been so focused on just getting Yuri to let him take him out he hadn’t really thought much further than that in reality.  

He turned to look at Yuri, taking in his expression, his eyes widening, “Oh my gosh, Yuri…I don’t mean…” 

“I’m sorry, it’s not like what you’re thinking,” he sighed, shaking his head as he pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes, “Honestly, I am just not very good at this, am I?”  

Yuri was confused, trying to think of what to say, wanting to make sure Ryosuke knew how much he had appreciated even this one night, the one chance to go on a date with him—something he could treasure forever, “It’s alright, Yamada-san,” Ryosuke’s body jerked at the formal name, his mouth opening to speak, but Yuri raised his voice, “Thank you for today, it was a sweet gift, but you really need to take care of yourself, and your career, and I understand that, I really do.”  

“What…” Ryosuke was dumbfounded, “What do you think we’re talking about here?”  

“Umm…how you need to be careful and not date someone like me, so you don’t mess up your career?” Yuri said the words as plainly as he could, trying to be sure that Ryosuke wouldn’t feel guilty and understand that he was thankful for this moment in time.  

“Or,” Ryosuke shifted to move closer to Yuri, his voice low as a couple passed them by, “Maybe what I am trying to say is that I’ve never wanted to be with anyone who made me need to figure this out before, so I don’t know what I’m doing or how I should be doing it…”   

Yuri’s eyes were wide as he stared at Ryosuke, blinking when he smiled broadly, “It’s your fault anyway, isn’t it?” 

Yuri sputtered, “M-my fault…” 

“You make me want to be who I really am, who I want to be, and I feel more me when I’m with you than I have ever felt in my whole life.” 

His fingers grazed Yuri’s hand, but he didn’t take it in his own, instead, he pulled his hands in, crossing his arms as if to stop them from acting on their own accord, “I don’t know why I keep touching you…I just…I guess I want to make sure you’re real, to keep you close…I’m sorry.”  

“You want to b-be with me? To—to keep me close?”  

Ryosuke laughed, his eyes twinkling as he teased Yuri, “I know you’re an absolutely brilliant guy, Yuri, but seriously I don’t know how I need to say this so you will actually understand.”  

“I’m sorry, it’s just all so…confusing.”  

“Let me clear this up for you,” he shifted, freezing when a taxi slowed down in front of them, the window rolling down and the man asking him if they needed a ride.  

“Yes, sir, we do,” Ryosuke looked at Yuri apologetically.  

They approached the car, Ryosuke opened the door for Yuri and gesturing for him to get in.  

Yuri nodded, sliding into the taxi, turning to look at Ryosuke who was leaning in the door but not getting in, “I can get another one?”   

Yuri had the same panic from before tickling at his nerves, but he figured they could at least go back to the café, so he shrugged, “He can take us to the shop, and I can go home from there, I walk to work and…I figure—your ride is there, right?”  

“Yeah,” Ryosuke nodded, sliding into the taxi and instructing the driver on the address of the café to take them to before he turned to look at Yuri, his voice low as he spoke, clearly trying to ensure the driver could not hear him, he leaned close to Yuri, the scent of his cologne nearly as intoxicating as the way his breath brushed his cheek as he spoke, “I want to take you out again…tomorrow, the next day…I want to be with you as long as you’ll allow me.”  

Yuri startled, the words were so blunt, so forward, his eyes wide as Ryosuke bumped his chin into his shoulder, and Yuri could tell he was smiling even though he couldn’t see his face, “Do you understand that?”  

“I-I think so,” Yuri guessed he did understand but he didn’t know why, it didn’t really make sense to him, his eyes wide as Ryosuke drew back, his palm sliding up his leg to grab his hand, entwining their fingers together and Yuri felt like he should remind him that he literally had said they should be discreet not even five minutes ago, but at the same time, he didn’t want to because it felt so nice to have his hand holding his own.   

He figured the driver couldn’t see what they were doing with their hands anyway so he stopped worrying about it and just decided to enjoy it, twisting his head to the side to try to look at Ryosuke, but he was so close their noses bumped into one another.   

They both laughed, and Ryosuke leaned back a bit, “Sorry…it’s just…you smell really good.”  

Yuri turned to look at him again, surprised, “What?”  

Ryosuke was glad for the darkness inside the taxi that made it so that Yuri couldn’t see how embarrassed he was, heat spreading all the way up to his ears, “I was…smelling you.”  

“Smelling me?” Yuri laughed then, he didn’t mean to, but he just couldn’t help it, amused, “What do I smell like?”  

He was sincerely curious because he didn’t really use anything except soap and shampoo in the shower—not really able to afford other products and certainly not any kind of good smelling cologne.  

Ryosuke shrugged, biting his bottom lip for a moment before he responded in a whisper, “Cupcakes.”  

“Hmm…that makes sense,” Yuri admitted, considering that the smells from the bakery surely did get on his clothing and things, “Do you like cupcakes?”  

Yuri felt stupid, he knew it was the worst attempt at flirting in the history of all romance, but he said it without giving it even a small amount of consideration, chewing on the inside of his cheek because he already wished he could take it back.   

“You know I love them,” Ryosuke smiled at him, thinking the teasing was cute because he always purchased strawberry cupcakes as part of his normal order every single time he came to the café–and Yuri almost always served them to him, so he knew they were both fully aware of how much he enjoys them, his lips twisting into a grin as he leaned a little bit closer, “But I definitely prefer this more…”  

“What’s ‘this’?” Yuri tilted his head in confusion.  

“How the cupcakes smell on you,” Ryosuke leaned closer and Yuri realized he was actually inhaling, “You smell so sweet, but it’s like more than a cupcake…it’s…”  

Ryosuke shook his head, shifting toward the window, clearly overwhelmingly embarrassed at the whole conversation at this point, setting the words firmly, “It’s good.”  

“Well, that’s good then I guess?” Yuri wanted to console him but he didn’t know what to say or how to say it so he just settled for squeezing his hand softly, to which Ryosuke squeezed back, his eyes soft when he turned to look at him, “You were there all of those times weren’t you? The times when they said you weren’t?”  

Oh, we’re just gonna dive into all of this now then.  

“Yes,” Yuri confirmed immediately, “I was, but I felt like it was better for me to put distance between us instead of encouraging you.”  

“Because you thought I was not someone who could care about you?”  

“I guess…it’s like I really don’t understand even now,” Yuri admitted, his voice soft, his eyes moving past Ryosuke to watch as the lights zoomed by outside the window,  

“Understand why I wanted to take you out?”  

“Yeah,” Yuri’s eyes moved to look at Ryosuke against his will, only to discover Ryosuke was staring intently at him, his expression filled with an emotion he couldn’t quite put his finger on but it seemed like it was related to aggravation.  

“Did someone hurt you?” Ryosuke asked the question his brows drawing down.   

“No,” Yuri shook his head, “No one has hurt me, it wasn’t like that…even the guy I drunk confessed to was actually really nice to me, even after that we talked some and he never made fun of me despite it being awkward as hell given the fact I hadn’t actually come out at that point. He stopped people from making fun of me actually, like got into a fist fight with one of the other guys on the sports team he was the captain of—he was…he was really nice, and we hung out a lot after that…he ended up going away to college though so I haven’t talked to him since graduation.”  

Ryosuke hummed softly, his brows drawn down, his voice heavy as asked, “He liked you then?”  

“What? No…no…he didn’t,” Yuri couldn’t help but laugh at the very idea that his friend had like liked him, “No, it wasn’t like that at all, he just was a really nice guy, that’s all, he dated a lot of girls, like the head of the cheer squad, girls like that, he was the prom king and he was in a two year relationship with the prom queen by our Senior year.”  

“Okay,” Ryosuke laughed softly, shaking his head, because every new discovery about Yuri was a delight, and his pure heart was one of the parts of him he was fascinated with, “You say all of that like it negates the fact that he clearly was into you.”  

“Between you and I—not to be rude—but I think I know the guy and you’re absolutely wrong, he didn’t like me he was jus–”  

“Kindness does not make someone hang around with a person who has shown overt interest in them, it also does not make them protect them, that’s not kindness, that was him going a step further than kindness…he probably was one of those guys who was going to be in denial his whole life, huh? Like family expectations, stuff like that?”  

“I don’t know what you mean,” Yuri was confused, tilting his head as he replayed Ryosuke’s words through his mind but discovering that did not give him any more insight into what he was trying to convey.  

“He wouldn’t be able to come out because his family or whatever would not be okay with it, so he’ll like…have a token wife and pretend to be happy but he’ll be sad and lonely no matter what…”  

“Because you think he was into me?”  

“Yeah, I know he was,” Ryosuke answered with such a firm tone, like it was just a matter of fact, Yuri couldn’t help but wonder how he could be so confident.  

“Why do you think that?”  

“He sounds like me? Doesn’t he? I mean, he was willing to put his own needs to the side to be close to you, to be your friend, because to him being your friend was going to have to be enough. I can fully understand that, after all I spent six months coming into the café to see you with zero indication that you would ever even consider going out with me—in fact, I started coming in at the start without confirming that you even liked guys just because…I mean…I wanted to be near you, it’s like the overflow of your heart is…”  

Ryosuke shook his head, feeling himself getting carried away and certain it would overwhelm Yuri, so he shook his head, “Just know, I understand guys like that guy—that’s all I am saying. Whatever he felt it wasn’t just ‘average’ friendship—you should just trust me on that.”  

Yuri contemplated this, the very idea that his friend had maybe had some kind of feelings for him, an array of memories assaulting his senses—and incredibly, through this new way of thinking about things, it felt like maybe Ryosuke wasn’t so far off the mark after all…certainly, in his innocent naivety Yuri had never once imagined that his friend could have had even the most remote of feelings for him, but if he was going to look at it from this new perspective—then…maybe, just maybe, he did.  

“Huh…” Yuri glanced back at Ryosuke, “I dunno for sure.”  

“Well, I do,” Ryosuke laughed, turning to see that they were pulling up to the sidewalk outside the café, “And frankly, I’m relieved he left to go away to college.”  

Yuri blinked at that declaration.  

As if there’s any competition, my God, he carries on about ME not seeing things clearly.   

He released Yuri’s hand, stepping out of the car, holding the door for Yuri, then closing it after he’d stepped onto the sidewalk, leaning in to pay for the taxi, and then thanking the man as he pulled away.  

He turned to look at Yuri, who was standing there on the sidewalk looking so small, so tiny, all Ryosuke wanted to do was hug him. He knew he’d undoubtedly already made Yuri feel uncomfortable with such a high level of affection already, so he wouldn’t do it, but man, he really wanted to.  

He ran his hands down his sweater nervously, “Anyway…” 

“Yeah,” Yuri smiled at him, sensing that he was a little out of his element now that they were standing here at the end of their impromptu date, and for his own sake, he had to clarify, just to be sure, just so there was no misunderstanding at all, “So…about the stuff you were saying before…it’s…not a problem if…I mean not to presume anything but you did say you’d like to…see each other…” 

“I said I want to be with you as long as you’ll allow me,” Ryosuke corrected him gently, stepping a little bit closer, “I don’t just want to see you…that’s too…small.” 

He paused, swallowing roughly, his brows drawing down as his expression took on a gentle nature, “I’m sorry to be so…forward…or intense, I don’t want to be too much, I just…” he shrugged, “I don’t know how to explain it to be honest.” 

“It’s okay,” Yuri couldn’t help but smile at how precious he was, “I think I understand it just fine myself, even if I’m not showing it outwardly, internally, I get it, believe me…” 

Ryosuke nodded, tilting his head when Yuri continued, “But…what if….I mean, like you said, there are complications and…I don’t want to hurt your career or anything li—” 

“Don’t worry about that,” Ryosuke interrupted him, sincerity clear in his words, “I’m sorry, I mean, I really am because I was flustered and I couldn’t think,” he laughed lightly shaking his head, “I mean you have a curious effect on me to be honest, and I’ve never been one to be…flustered I guess is the right word, but you  make me all kinds of ways confused.” 

They both laughed and whatever tension had been in the air fueled by uncertainty seemed to dissipate with their combined smiles, Ryosuke stepped closer still, “There’s plenty of ways to handle things like this and while I respect and understand your concerns, the truth is, being with you will be far easier than being with a girl in a myriad of ways.” 

Yuri wondered at this, his head tilting as he tried to consider how this could possibly be true. He also filtered the comment through the thoughts he had about how many dates Ryosuke had undoubtedly been on and for some reason felt far more threatened by the idea that he’d been on those dates with boys and not girls. 

“I mean, if I liked girls, which I mean you didn’t specifically ask but I’ll just make it clear to you that like your description…what was it? ‘Girls are not my type’? Yeah, that’s about it for me, I think girls are pretty and soft and that’s all great, but to be honest I have never felt any kind of genuine attraction to them on any level other than a strange association with my Mom which we definitely don’t need to get into on our first date.” 

Yuri giggled as he nodded, liking the way Ryosuke’s cheeks pinked at the words he’d said, reassuring him, “I’ll file that away to bring up on another day then.” 

“Please do,” Ryosuke laughed at himself, shrugging, “There’s some unpacking to do there I’m sure. Still, the whole point is, no one will question us hanging out together, we can go where we want, do what we want, as long as we don’t act romantic, honestly, no one could ever say anything about it. I couldn’t get by with that with a girl, not in a million years.” 

“Huh,” Yuri understood what he meant, “That’s…actually really clever…so,” he hated himself for the way he cringed at the thought but asked the question anyway, “If you went with a girl to pizza tonight?” 

“If pictures had been leaked it would have been a fiasco, but I mean, I guess pictures of me holding your hand would have also created quite the sensation—so I mean, that’s why I said as long as we refrain from affection in public then we’ll be fine to go and do whatever we want to do.” 

Yuri hummed in understanding, blinking rapidly when Ryosuke took a step closer, “I recognize that I am responsible for all of the crossing lines and making a mess of things today, and I’m really sorry for being…such a handful… but I will do my best to do better—” his grin was positively mesmerizing and Yuri felt like the world was spinning when he spoke the words so softly, “You kinda drive me crazy though, so…I might need reminding.” 

Yuri wanted to scoff at him, like he had some supernatural level of self-control or ability to keep his impulses in check but then, he instantly realized that he’d do whatever Ryosuke needed him to do, so he supposed that if this was it, he’d do it, nodding his head, “I’ll remind you. 

Ryosuke nodded, his fingers reaching up to brush gently across Yuri’s cheek, his words soft, “And when you get all dumb and forget how utterly amazing you are, I’ll remind you. 

Yuri was just about to tease him for such cheesy words, and to probably insist they weren’t exactly true as far as amazing goes and all that, when he was suddenly overtaken by a violent yawn, causing Ryosuke to frown, “You need sleep, enough talk for tonight, my car is in the lot around the side there…do you…want me to drive you to your house?”  

“No!” Yuri practically screamed it, laughing nervously, and suddenly feeling wide awake, “I mean, no..no it’s not a problem, I live close, so don’t worry a bit about it, you go home now.”  

“If you’re sure?” Ryosuke just wanted a few more minutes with him but he knew it was stupid and of course he couldn’t really insist he let him drive him home so he was trying to be as normal as he could about all of this but frankly, it was a whole lot harder than it should be.  

“I’m positive,” Yuri confirmed, leaving no room for misunderstanding.  

“Well, then…at least you can send me a message when you get home? I can put my number into your phone so you ca–”  

“I don’t have a phone,” Yuri blurted out, “I mean…there’s a phone I can use, but I don’t actually have a cellphone.”  

“You don’t…have…ahhh…but…”  

Yuri felt embarrassed, all of his concerns about how different the two of them were feeling like it was shining a spotlight on him at the moment, fully prepared for Ryosuke to ask him how he could possibly live without a cellphone.  

“How will I know you made it home safely?”  

That definitely wasn’t what Yuri imagined Ryosuke saying, and measuring him, he knew he was being completely serious, he really only wanted to be told he was home safely.  

Huh.  

“I can email you? If you have email? I have a laptop through my school at home, so I do have the ability to send an email…would that…work?”  

“Yeah,” Ryosuke nodded, relief evident in his expression, “That would be great.”  

Yuri couldn’t help but tease him, “You know I managed to go home by myself every single day before today, right?”  

“Yes, yes,” Ryosuke rolled his eyes, “I get it, I get it! I know it doesn’t make sense, and I can’t explain it so just…please, indulge me in this one thing.”  

“Alright,” Yuri nodded, “…but I don’t have anything to write it down on—I sort of…” he couldn’t help but look down, his cheeks pinking in embarrassment, “I sort of ran out of work without really thinking about grabbing my stuff out of my locker.”  

Ryosuke laughed, shrugging as he gestured for Yuri to follow him, “It’s no big deal, I have paper and a pen in my car, I’ll write it down on there for you.”  

Yuri nodded, following Ryosuke as they went around the side of the building where the café was located. There was only one car in the tiny parking area, and even if Yuri hadn’t known it was Ryosuke’s–somehow, it felt like he would have imagined it. He didn’t know anything at all about cars, in fact, to his recollection he had only ever been in a car once before when his Grandmother had taken his family on a vacation to the sea—and it was a tiny rental car even then.   

This is no rental.  

Yuri watched as Ryosuke dug in his pocket, producing a set of keys as he approached the car, the sound of the alarm being disengaged loud in his ears. Ryosuke was interacting with this car so casually.  

And why shouldn’t he?   

He’s wildly successful and deserves every single wonderful thing he has earned through his hard work.  

Yet…Yuri couldn’t shake the feeling that he shouldn’t even be breathing in the mere vicinity of it. He was positive, even not knowing anything, that this car probably cost more than his entire education…probably more than his Mom’s house…hell, his Mom’s and his Grandmother’s house together, maybe.  

Ryosuke opened the passenger door, leaning into the car to retrieve something, then moved over to use the hood of the car to prop up on while he wrote something, then he turned to Yuri who was still standing there staring blankly. Ryosuke was confused by his expression, looking at himself and then the car and back to Yuri confusedly, “Do I have something on me?”  

“Wh–what? No!” Yuri snapped out of his internal monologue, taking the paper from Ryosuke’s outstretched hand, “I’ll send a message to you as soon as I get home.”  

Ryosuke smiled, turning to close the car door, glancing back at Yuri as he held it open, his head gesturing to the car, “You sure you don’t want me to take you home?”  

“I’m sure,” Yuri confirmed, “Thank you though—for everything.”  

Ryosuke nodded, closing the door before he walked back to stand in front of Yuri, “It was my pleasure, really—and thank you for going with me…”  

There was a moment, a weird sort of moment that seemed to waver on the line between soft and awkward, and probably it could have went either direction, likely awkward if Yuri had anything to do with it, but before it could go that direction Ryosuke stepped forward, hesitating for only a mere second before he pressed a quick kiss onto Yuri’s cheek, shuffling back just as quickly, ducking his head to avoid Yuri’s eyes, hiding his expression, his words far less confident than before, “I’ll see you again…we’ll talk…I don’t…just…yeah…”  

He was in his car in the next breath, and Yuri was still standing in the same place, his hand raising slowly, blinking at Ryosuke as he waved bye to him, his car barely even making a sound as he reversed to pull out of the parking lot, driving away.   

Yuri watched him until his taillights disappeared in the distant landscape, his hand touching where Ryosuke had just kissed his cheek, his lips stretching into a slow smile.   

He likes me.  

Yuri didn’t really remember the walk to his apartment, discovering himself standing in the middle of the room before he felt like he woke up from the dream that was today.  

He giggled, covering his mouth quickly as if his giddiness might break the spell when he thought about how Ryosuke had snuck that surprise kiss to his cheek and then quite literally ran away.  

It might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life.  

Yuri glanced down at the paper he had clutched in his hand, his fingers white from the death grip he had on that one piece of paper that was a very real connection to Ryosuke, stepping over to the table to lay it out there, carefully pressing on the paper to smooth out the creases he’d made with how tightly he’d been holding it.  

yamada.ryosuke@j-storm.co.jp,” Yuri stared at the email address for a moment, fascinated with every aspect of the paper because it revealed so much about Ryosuke in such a tiny little powerful punch. First of all, the paper itself looked like it had been ripped out of a planner or something, as there was a very faint gridline on the paper like it was part of pages meant for notes—and maybe Ryosuke didn’t realize it, but there was something written on the back of the paper. It appeared to be part of a list for groceries, and Yuri could only read a few of the items that were visible.  

Strawberries.  

Milk.  

Chicken.  

Then there was his handwriting, it was really pretty—the grocery list was rather messy, clearly scribbled in a hurry, but the email address was written with great care, probably to ensure the email went to him and not someone else at Johnny’s–but even so, the writing was very nice. The ink was red, which kinda made Yuri laugh since he knew that was Ryosuke’s member color and he absently wondered if that might be his favorite color. The note had not been ripped but carefully separated from the rest of the page, a nearly straight line instead of a tear—which he couldn’t even imagine how Ryouske had managed to do.  

Yuri glanced up at the clock and wondered where Ryosuke actually lived and how long it took him to get home from the café. He figured he probably lived up town in the arts district where all the wealthy types lived. Yuri hadn’t ever really been there, only passed through on the bus a few times when he was going to visit his Grandma. It was beautiful there though.   

He moved to sit down at his computer, turning it on and waiting for it to load up and connect to the internet. He opened his email, smiling when he saw a message from his Mom and another from Saya, his older sister.   

He opened the one from his Mom who was asking him about his day like usual. He wrote a quick response, telling her he would call her after classes the next day to catch up but that he was heading to bed soon, it had been a long day, and he was exhausted. He sent the message and then opened the one from Saya.  

Hey idiot, I have called your house phone like eighteen times and you’re not answering. I was making plans to go see Grannie this weekend and wanted to see if you had to work or if you could go with me. If you’ll just let me know then I will buy your train ticket when I get mine tomorrow. Where are you? Anyway, let me know! RIGHT NOW.  

Yuri rolled his eyes at his sister’s flair for the dramatic, glancing over at his answering machine to discover that there were indeed eighteen messages waiting for him.   

He quickly typed a curt message to Saya telling her to kindly kiss his ass and that he’d let her know the next day what his schedule was. He also indicated he would not be listening to the 18 messages she left because he was positive that they slowly degraded into nothing more than insults and name calling by the last one and he wasn’t in the mood. He hit send, grabbing the paper with Ryosuke’s email address on it so he could send him a message and head to bed, he was absolutely exhausted, jumping with a yelp when the phone rang beside him.  

He jerked the phone off the base, rolling his eyes, “What do you want, Saya?”  

“Where have you been?”  

“OUT. What do you want?”  

“Right now, butter vanilla ice cream, but in general, I want to know if you can go with me to Grannie’s house—I mean if you’re not going to tell me why you weren’t home.”  

“You know…contrary to what you think, I am a pretty busy guy, you know? I have school and work and I mean I know it’s hard for you to underst–”  

“I knew your schedule today, and you don’t have any friends, and you never go anywhere or do anything at all outside of school or work so you’ll have to excuse the hell right out of me if I panic when I can’t get ahold of you when you’re supposed to be home.”  

Yuri closed his eyes for a moment, feeling badly for snapping at her, “Right.”  

“I was worried about you, it’s almost midnight!”  

“I know, I’m sorry, Saya…”  

He tried to listen to her, but he really didn’t need another lecture about how it would be better if he’d just move back home, that it wasn’t safe where he lived and that he could get ahead and save a bunch of money if he’d just return to the house and on and on it would go…  

He carefully put in Ryosuke’s email address, trying to say ‘uh-huh’ and ‘yes’ and ‘I understand’ at the right times to keep Saya satisfied as he began to write the message to Ryosuke.  

                                     Hi.  

                                     I’m home now. Thank you again for a fun  

No.  

                                     Hey there!  

No.  

                                     Hey Ryosuke!  

Ugh.  

                                     Hi Yamada-sa  

Damn it!  

                                     Hi,  

                                     I’m home  

Oh my God.  

                                     Hi,  

                                     I thought I would let you know I am home like you asked me to.   

Yah…that’s good…  

                                     Thank you for a fun night.  

No.  

                                     Thanks for the pizza and fun night out.  

                                     It was really nice, and I enjoyed getting to know you better.  

                                     Yuri  

He knew he’d sit there for another five hours trying to come up with the exactly perfect words, so he just shrugged, “Yes, I understand, Saya.”  

He hit send.  

The screen flashed and then the sent message popped up.  

He tilted his head, his mind trying to make sense of what he was looking at, his eyes widening in realization, the word coming out of his mouth in a near scream as he panicked.  

“FUCK!” he flew straight up, dropping the phone, the sound of the chair tipping backwards deafening as his fingers flew into his hair, his voice frantic, “Oh, fuck…fuck…”   

He frantically clicked buttons, trying to go backwards, to undo the sent message, to undo EVERYTHING in his life since he turned twelve years old.  

He faintly heard Saya freaking out where the phone was dangling down from the base, spinning slowly like he felt the world was.  

He sat down in the floor, grabbing the phone and holding it up to his ear, tears prickling at his eyes.  

“Yuu!!!??? What’s happening!? Are you okay??? Answer me or I’m getting on the bus right now to come check on you! Yuuuri!?”  

“I seriously just screwed up so bad, Saya….”  

“What? What happened, what is going on?”  

“I sent an email to a friend from the wrong account.”  

“Wh–what…wait, what?”  

“I meant to change to my school email, but I was distracted by you and I sent the email from the account that I use for my personal stuff, like with you and Momma.”  

“So? Honestly, Yuri, what the hell? You scared me to death just now!”  

“I know, I’m sorry, I’m sorry but…Saya…”  

He heard her taking a deep breath, her voice softening, “Fine, explain to me why this is such a big deal…if you’re emailing a friend from your personal account isn’t that okay?”  

“No, not really,” Yuri groaned, pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes, “It’s fine, don’t worry about it Saya—everything is fine, I am too tired to think about this, I have to go to bed, I have class at 8 in the morning.”  

Saya hesitated, not sure she should let him go without getting to the bottom of whatever was happening, “Are you going to be okay?”  

“Yeah,” Yuri nodded even though she couldn’t see him, taking a deep breath, “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”  

I’m going to never leave my home again and hide away from the world, but I’ll be fine.  

“Okay, but…call me when you get home from school, you have a few hours after classes before work, yeah?”  

“Yeah…”  

“Okay, then call me, promise?”  

“Yeah, sure…I promise…tell Mom I love her.”  

“Alright, just…get some rest…stupid.  

“…’kay, you get some rest too, dummy.”  

He lifted the phone to set it back into the cradle, his body shuddering as the thought of what had just happened ran across him again.  

I’m a damn idiot…I cannot believe I did that; he is going to think I’m the most cringe worthy person in the world.   

He did in fact, physically cringe when he heard the notification from his email make the tell-tale sound indicating he had a new message.  

He frantically prayed to all the saints and gods in all of history that it was Saya getting in a last little jab before bedtime, or maybe one of those emails asking him to wire money into some foreign account, or like…something…anything, but he knew before he grabbed the chair, setting it upright and moving to sit in it, he would never be so lucky.  

His suspicion was confirmed when he saw that the email was indeed from none other than Ryosuke.  

His hand shook as he moved the cursor over to click on the email, hovering there for a moment before he built up enough courage to open it.  

The screen blinked and then the message popped up.  

_________________  

  

Yuri,  

Thank you for letting me know you made it home safely! I know it was a weird request, but I really do appreciate you going along with me about it.   

I didn’t think to ask you what your schedule was or well, anything really…you might have noticed I was a little flustered but…well, please let me know when you work again so I can come to see you, alright?  

I mean…if you want to. I don’t mean to presume anything. Yeah…so….anyways, thanks for the fun evening too, I had a really great time.  

Have a good night!  

Ryosuke  
   

____________________  

Huh….  

He didn’t mention the email address at all.  

Yuri read through the message again, wondering if he had somehow glossed over the part calling him out, but, no, there was nothing.   

Huh.  

He smiled, glad that he didn’t have to deal with any of it tonight at least, stretching as he stood up, moving across the room as he stripped off his clothes to throw on his pajamas, falling into bed, laying there for a moment as the weight of the day fell away and all that was left were the feelings of butterflies in his tummy and the gentle cadence of his heart beating to a new rhythm. He wasn’t a romantic sort, not one to be caught up in fantasy and dreams–but somehow, Ryosuke made him want to believe that the fairy tales he clung to so desperately were real, and that his dreams had just as good of a chance to come true as anyones. He didn’t necessarily believe in such things…yet…but he thought, maybe with Ryosuke involved–maybe, just maybe he could. 

As he drifted off to sleep he wondered if Ryosuke might be thinking the same kinds of thoughts as he was, filling his night with sweet dreams of pizza, warm hands in his own, and soft gentle kisses against his cheek.

 

 

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Music Inspiration: Dreaming Alone–Against the Current featuring Taka (ONE OK ROCK)

Yuri slid the cup of coffee across the counter, his heart thrumming in his chest, because every time he came in he spoke to him so kindly, his voice was soft and tender, and it would be easy for Yuri to imagine there was more to it than just a customer being nice to the person who made his coffee. He did everything he could to stop himself from allowing those daydreams to carry him away, as he was just the same, charismatic, friendly, and bold—yep, today was no exception, and Yuri found himself struggling to answer the question he had just asked him today…thinking he might have misunderstood, or imagined it.  

Would you let me take you on a date? 

What? No. You’re Yamada Ryosuke, and I am no one. 

I am literally nobody. 

I barely make eight dollars an hour, am putting myself through college, and live in the most embarrassing neighborhood in the universe. 

I come from a broken home, have a crazy family, and I literally can’t fathom what kind of world you live in. 

Yuri had probably looked like a deer caught in headlights, swallowing roughly as his mind whirled in every direction trying to make sure he wasn’t going to make a complete fool of himself by misunderstanding what was just asked of him, his voice trembling when he cautiously spoke, “Th-thank you for asking, but I am afraid I can not do that.” 

“You can not do that?” Ryosuke leaned onto the counter, his words slow and measured, his eyes shifting to look at Yuri’s closely. 

Too close.  

Yuri’s breath caught, because Ryosuke’s eyes were beautiful under normal conditions, but they were so tender with some feeling Yuri just couldn’t quite put a name to, Ryosuke’s voice incredibly taking on an even more tender tone than normal as he shifted closer still, “Why’s that, exactly?” 

“Um,” Yuri blinked, his mind running through a billion different reasons—starting with the most obvious one. 

I’m just an average guy and you…are Yamada Ryosuke.  

An idol. 

Who wouldn’t be caught dead in a scandal, let alone a scandal that involved a date with another guy.  

I clearly misunderstood.  

Fumbling over the words in his mind, Yuri’s eyes landed on the coffee still sitting on the counter, pressing it forward with his fingertips, just a bit further toward Ryosuke—gasping when his hand snapped out and grabbed his wrist, causing Yuri to jump. The tiny squeal sound that escaped against his will made Ryosuke grin for a moment before he spoke. 

“This is my number, you should text me when you change your mind,” he whispered the words, smiling a completely ridiculously beautiful smile as he pressed something into Yuri’s palm with his other hand, then released his hand as he picked up his coffee in a single smooth motion, then turned to stroll casually out of the cafe. 

Oh my God. 

It wasn’t like Ryosuke hadn’t been coming in the cafe regularly for over seven months now. Though for two months the simple truth was Yuri was so completely oblivious to the attention Ryosuke had paid to him that he was in complete and utter denial. Then one of Yuri’s friends who had started working there asked him what exactly was going on between the two of them. 

“What do you mean? He’s a customer?” 

“Ah, right? He’s a customer?” 

“Um, yes? He has been a customer for a few months.” 

“Ah, no. Honestly, he’s totally into you, and you talk to him.” 

“I talk to him because he’s a customer, and don’t be insane do you know who that is?” 

“Yes, I do know, but who cares, who actually needs to buy eight different things in an hour? Plus, the entire cafe is pink. I feel pretty strongly he’s not coming here on average three to four times a week because he’s into pastel colors. I mean, really! C’mon! The way he watches you…seriously? You don’t see this?” 

Yuri had thought about it for a moment, then shrugged, “Your logic is off, I’m a guy and I work here,” he pointed to the apron tied around his neck, “I even wear this thing…I don’t think that has any bearing on the situa—” 

“You work here because you’re gay,” his friend reached forward, straightening up his bowtie, “And your favorite color is pink, and I will let you believe what you want to, but I’m just saying to you, he’s not coming in here for any of us—he doesn’t even see us. He only has eyes for you.” 

Yuri had considered what she said, because he’d always figured Ryosuke was ordering things for friends or group members who sometimes met him there. He’d never really wondered about it, at least he had tried very hard to not wonder about it.  

About how long he would take to order sometimes, even though he must have the menu memorized by now.  

The way he sometimes reached a little further, the tips of his fingers touching Yuri’s hand brushing against his fingertips when he would hand over the money.  

Still, Yuri was nothing if not a realist, and frankly, he wasn’t one for flights of fancy or an overactive imagination–or really, one to set himself up for heartbreak—he already had enough of that being one of the few guys like himself in his town, let alone seeing possibilities in someone so far out of his league as Yamada Ryosuke. No, he would continue to insist, anytime it was brought up that Ryosuke was just another customer. 

After all, Yuri served a lot of people every single day and he treated all of them the same, with respect and kindness–because that’s who he was, and it was the foundation of his personality so he didn’t treat Ryosuke any diff—and…and, wait…was he really just making up excuses to come up to order more stuff so he could talk to me? 

He didn’t make a decision to purposefully do it, but after that, Yuri couldn’t help but pay attention to what was really happening when Ryosuke would visit the café.  Iwas pretty undeniable that he was most certainly spending a lot of time interacting with just Yuri.  

Of course, if Yuri wasn’t so stubborn and utterly, completely obnoxious about the whole situation then it could maybe be easy to imagine that Ryosuke might actually like him or something–which really, even in the constant state of denial, Yuri simply couldn’t begin to understand.  

Confused by his own feelings, Yuri had begun forcing his friend to start waiting on Ryosuke when he would come in—mostly because he wasn’t sure how to handle the situation and he had no idea what to say to Ryosuke to make it clear that he was so far out of his league that a handicap of epic proportions would be required for Yuri to even be permitted into the locker room, let alone onto the playing field. 

Even then, Yuri didn’t remotely miss the way Ryosuke would linger around the register when he would hide in the back, or the way he would sulk, often leaving rather quickly when his ongoing attempts to reach out to Yuri would inevitably fail.  His friend had informed him each time that Ryosuke had asked about him specifically by name, thanking her for her smooth deflection each time—and for putting up with the intensity of Ryosuke’s stare down when he would be told that Yuri wasn’t available. He was fierce and his curt nod each time seemed to indicate he understood far more than he was actually saying. 

It’s better this way. 

But today?  

Ryosuke had certainly taken the game up a notch today—he’d been bold, and the fact was Yuri nearly passed out on the spot when Ryosuke had squeezed his wrist before he released it. As he’d picked up his cup, Yuri stared dumbfounded, watching him walk out the door, then looking down at the paper he’d pressed into his hand, the words ’Call or text me! Ryosuke’ printed in neat writing, along with his phone number. 

Yuri had instantly went to the office and shredded the paper as small as he could before he threw it away because honestly, there’s no way he wanted to be responsible for some overbearing fan who knew Ryosuke came there regularly to stalk the garbage and get their hands on it. 

The next day, Ryosuke was back, which was unusual, because he didn’t normally come in on Mondays. 

God, Yuri 

Could you not? 

Not what? 

Admit you know his schedule? 

Riiightummm…sorry. 

“You know, I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t call me? Or text me,” Ryosuke’s voice was teasing, and Yuri raised an eyebrow at the familiarity he was using, tilting his head, smiling as angelically as he possibly could, the words sweet, carefully annunciating each syllable, “The usual?” 

“No,” Ryosuke leaned onto the counter, and the scent that Yuri had come to find uniquely ‘Ryosuke’ wafted across the counter. In defense, Yuri immediately held his breath, trying to not hum in satisfaction as Ryosuke smiled disarmingly, his words soft yet full of intensity at the same time, “I want to talk to you.” 

Yuri stepped back away from the counter a bit, taking a deep breath of fresh air, because Ryosuke was entirely too close, his eyes frantic as he glanced around nervously in case anyone was watching their interactions, “I can’t really talk right now, I…I’m working.” 

“When do you get off work?” 

“I-I…what?” 

“I’ll come back when you’re off work, we can talk then?” 

“Ah, no…I mean…I do get off work, but we…you can’t…What can I get you to drink? To eat?” Yuri’s words were a blur, a frenzy as his nervousness escalated, his fingers grabbing the edge of his apron to stop his hands from trembling. 

Ryosuke’s eyes moved around Yuri’s face, his expression intense, clearly trying to read the situation, then his head tilted, his face lighting up with a beautiful smile, “The usual.” 

“O-okay,” Yuri turned, his hands shaking as he began to make his drink, one of the young girls who came in daily after school approaching the counter, calling out Yuri’s name. 

“Yes, Aito-chan?” 

“May I please have one of the orange-cranberry muffins?” 

“Of course,” Yuri had smiled, forgetting all about Ryosuke for a moment as he nodded at the young girl, one he was quite fond of, “I just made them a few hours ago and they are very good!” 

Yuri put the drink into the mixer and then turned, putting on gloves to get the muffin for the girl, “How is your history assignment going?” 

“Really, really good!” the girl gushed, her entire body vibrating with excitement, “Plus, oh my God, guess what?!” 

Yuri laughed happily at her excitement, “What?” 

“I’m in the group with him!” 

“Oh, that is exciting, huh?” 

“Very!” the girl glanced over at Ryosuke who had leaned his hip onto the counter, his arms crossed, expression filled with amusement as he watched the interaction. 

“I’m sorry,” the girl startled, “It was very rude for me to place my order like that while you were still here.” 

“It’s okay,” Ryosuke laughed, waving his hand in front him, “Please, don’t concern yourself with it for a moment.” 

Yuri blinked at Ryosuke, chiding himself for being so unguarded, but having a real weakness for Aito, looking back to her as he slid the muffin on the plate across the counter, shaking his head when she went to open her bag, Yuri’s voice soft, “Not today.” 

Aito’s eyes clouded with emotion for a moment, and then she nodded, bowing quickly, “Thank youChinen-kun.” 

Yuri watched her as she turned and took her muffin to the corner where she was studying, feeling heat settle across his skin, his eyes darted over to discover Ryosuke looking at him curiously, which once again made his tummy bubble in nervousness, the already active butterflies which always seemed to take up residence there anytime Ryosuke appeared now doing somersaults. 

He immediately turned his attention to the mixer to finish Ryosuke’s drink, doing the thing he knew he best did seem to calm his nerves a bit. 

When the drink was finished, Yuri stepped back over to the counter, sitting Ryosuke’s cup down, and pressing it forward with his fingertips, trying to ensure he kept a proper distance, his words strained, “There you go!” 

Sensing the tone, Ryosuke slid his money across the counter, carefully avoiding touching Yuri, and when Yuri offered him his change, Ryosuke smiled as he pushed it down into the tip jar, Yuri’s eyes widening comically as he realized Ryosuke was the one who kept leaving the fifteen dollar tips! 

I should have guessed that. 

Something flared up inside of Yuri, his cheeks feeling hot and flaming and he took a breath, chastising himself for wanting to tell Ryosuke that he didn’t need charity—knowing it was just a prideful feeling—after all, he was fairly certain Ryosuke must know the tips were divided between all of the employees, and his leaving the money there was a mere act of kindness.  

He’s just a good guy.  

Is that so hard to believe? 

Yes. 

Why? 

There are no good guys. 

Sigh.  

You’re too jaded to be so young. 

“Thank you,” Yuri’s voice was soft, a genuine smile gracing his face, and he felt too raw and exposed in that moment, grateful when the door chimed where a new customer was walking in 

Yuri’s eyes grew wide when he realized that there would be no escaping Ryosuke just yet, as the person who walked in was one of his group members.  

Daichan,” Ryosuke smiled, gesturing to Yuri, “Tell my friend here what you’d like, I’ll take care of it.” 

The boy looked curiously at Yuri from across the counter, his friendly smile somehow unnerving as he told him what he’d like to have. Yuri was happy to escape away from their gaze, turning to prepare the order, studiously ignoring the two of them and their conversation–at least he was sincerely attempting to. 

So, you know…he didn’t call or text.” 

“Didn’t he?” 

“Nope. Not a call, not a text. 

“Hmmm, maybe he just doesn’t like you, Yama-chan. I know that’s hard for you to believe, being…you and all that…but maybe tha 

“I am not sure that’s what it is.” 

Hmm…what makes you think not?” 

“I’ll show you in a minute.” 

They were quiet for a moment, and Yuri felt like something was being said silently between the two, resisting the urge to turn and look for himself. 

“Okay, then I’m just saying, I mean if he did like you, I think then he would have called or texted, right?” 

“Maybe, maybe not.” 

Yuri took longer than it should have, not wanting to turn around to them, like, in all the world of things he wanted to do, including having the floor swallow him whole, he did NOT want to turn around and face the two of them because they obviously knew he’d heard every word of their conversation.  

He didn’t want to see their faces; he knew his cheeks were bright red and he was so embarrassed it felt like he was in a spotlight. 

“We should ask him.” 

“Let’s do.” 

Oh, God please….just kill me now. 

Yuri had been standing stone still, the drink finished for several minutes before he gave up, taking a deep, shuddering breath, then turning around to quickly set the drink down in hopes of making a quick escape. Before Yuri could even think about getting away, Ryosuke smiled triumphantly, pointing to the cup Yuri had just set down for his group member and then gesturing to his own, “See? I told you!” 

Ryosuke glanced up at Yuri, winking quickly and then his eyes went back to the other boy who looked at the cups and then looked up at Yuri, his stance defiant, voice whining, “Hey! I want a heart in mine, too!” 

The world felt like it was tilting and Yuri was pretty sure he was going to pass out when he heard Ryosuke laugh softly, telling his friend to shut up, and without his permission, Yuri’s eyes darted down to the cups, widening when he saw it, the feeling of mortification running across his skin when he realized that he had indeed put a row of hearts in the foam on Ryosuke’s and had only done a pattern of circles on the top of his group member’s cup.  

Kill me now, I’m begging you. 

Yuri couldn’t tear his eyes away from the cup with the hearts, a million thoughts battling for dominance, and then he rolled his eyes in exasperation, the words flying out of his mouth rather ineloquently, yet too fast to stop them, “I threw the number away, I have no intention of calling or texting. I…I just…I am in school, and I work, and I don’t have time to think about anything else…I…and I just don’t need pity or anything either.” 

Yuri’s hands lifted to cover his mouth, to stop the word vomit, not meaning  to say so much, feeling utterly appalled that he’d said those things out loudhis head shaking as he backed away from the two dumbfounded boys, turning to escape into the back to the manager’s office, his voice high and fast as he bowed, “I’m sorry, I am really sorry, I have to go, it’s an emergency!” 

“Of course, I’ll call in someone, go, take care of what you need.” 

Yuri had never lied to his manager before, in fact, lying wasn’t really part of Yuri’s nature in the first place, and given this, he was fairly certain she must believe something quite dire had transpired to make Yuri willing to leave work, and it had. 

I’ve lost my mind, clearly. 

Yuri grabbed his hoodie from his locker, willing his hands to stop shaking as he threw it on, not bothering to slow down enough to even take off his apron he rushed out the back door, gasping for air.  

He rushed across the street, stepping into the border of the park that he crossed to reach his home when he heard his name from behind him.  

Yuri froze. 

Ryosuke’s voice was soft, and apologetic, “I’m sorry if that was rude…I don’t know what I’m doing, I just want to talk to you.” 

Yuri jumped, not having realized how close he was, waiting for him to block his way, debating how fast he could take off running and get away from this situation—to go where he’d never be found again, after all, he could get a new job. 

“I-I…” Ryosuke’s voice was shaking, and Yuri’s heart clenched because he was so nervous…wait, honestly, why in the world is he nervous!? 

“This…this isn’t like me okay? I don’t….I just don’t do things like this…” 

It’s precious. 

“I don’t have any idea what I’m doing here…and if I messed up or something you just…” 

It’s so cute. 

“I don’t understand. that’s all..I don’t know what you meant…” 

He’s so cute. 

Shut up! 

“I don’t know what you meant about pity. I didn’t ask you out from pity. I just…I just really wanted to make sure you knew that.” 

Ryosuke sighed softly, his voice so near Yuri imagined that he must have moved closer still, “I’m sorry to be so persistent. It’s just…I wanted to get to know you. I see you and I know about you, but I want to know you more. That’s all.” 

His words caused Yuri’s heart to skip a beat, his fists clenching at his side as he tried to speak words into the situation that would fix this, make it okay, “I’m sorry, Yamada-san, but you don’t know me at all.” 

“I know you better than you think,” Ryosuke spoke softly, “I know that you are going to school to be a teacher, that you finally graduate this year–and that you choose high school because you think those kids need someone to love them the way they are. I know that you want to teach literature because books have been an escape for you for all of your life and you want to teach kids to love them.” 

Ryosuke shifted, moving a little bit closer, “I know your father left your family when you were seven, and you took on a lot of responsibility for your Mom and sister who is two years older than you.” 

What? 

“I know that you work as many hours as they’ll let you so that you can pay for your education, which means it has taken you nearly two more years than anyone else to graduate, and on top of that, you always send money home to your Mom and sister to help them as much as you can–even though they tell you not to.” 

How? 

“I know that you love music, your favorite color is any shade of pink, you love the smell of apple cider but hate to drink it…” 

He’d moved to the side of Yuri, and even though there was a part of him that was really freaked out by Ryosuke stating all of this personal information, somehow wondering if he was a stalker, which would undoubtedly be a really weird turn of events, but…stranger things have happened. 

After all…I am standing here in a fluffy pink apron talking to Yamada Ryosuke. 

Still, despite knowing there should be warning bells, instead there was an insistent part that was telling Yuri that it was okay, everything is okay…just listen. 

Listen. 

“I know that you don’t buy new clothes, and that you have great pride in what you do have, your apron and uniform is always pressed, every single time I see you. I know that you are far cuter in your uniform than anyone else in that whole shop–in fact, the whole city.” 

Yuri could hear the smile in his voice, the warmth settling across his skin like a blanket, his voice soft and tender as he continued to speak, “I know that you are very careful with your money, and I know that you give two of those girls who come into the shop every school day freebies out of your own paycheck because they come from broken homes and their mom’s struggle like your own did.” 

Yuri’s eyes drifted to look at Ryosuke’s shoes when he moved to step in front of him, shoes that probably cost more than eight month’s rent. 

“I know that you take care of those girls, give them advice, listen to them. I know that you also look out for several of your elderly customers, keeping umbrellas on hand in case they get caught in the rain, sending some of your friends to walk them home if they are out past dark.” 

He moved closer to Yuri, his hands moving out of his pockets and Yuri couldn’t conceal the way his entire body flinched, wanting to run away, wanting to back up. 

“I know that you have the purest soul I have ever seen, I know that you couldn’t care less about material things, you find joy in the simplest things, you giggle at children’s laughter, you watch out the window at the wind in the trees. When you get mad you clean. When you are happy, you hum. Sometimes, you even hum one of my songs.” 

“Please,” Yuri gasped, it’s too much, “How…I’ve never even talked to you!” 

“That’s true,” Ryosuke mused, his hand lifting to delicately touch Yuri’s chin, tilting his face up to look at him, Yuri’s breath caught in his chest from the contact, from the earnest look in Ryosuke’s eyes, “You don’t talk to me, but you do talk to everyone else.” 

He’d listened. 

For all of these many months, Ryosuke had been paying attention, and he’d been learning about Yuri by listening to him talk to the other customers, some of them people that knew Yuri since he was just a toddler. It never occurred to Yuri to censor himself, and he was never worried about talking in the café…it was like his second home. He trusted people there, and his guard was always down, always down apart from with Ryosuke–because Yuri did like him, and that was dangerous and scary, and impossible. 

“I know everything apart from one thing,” Ryosuke’s finger stayed on his chin, insistent that he not hide, “Why you won’t talk to me.” 

Yuri shook his head, pushing Ryosuke’s hand away, shifting around him so he could rush past himthe words frantic, “I have to go.” 

“Why won’t you talk to me?” Ryosuke was begging, his voice louder as Yuri’s feet carried him away, “Please!” 

“What did I do?” Ryosuke called out, desperation laced within the words. 

“Please!”  

Yuri could tell he was following him, that he was not going to give up, his head shaking as he tried to block the words.  

“Tell me why you won’t talk to me!” 

It was nearly a scream, and it made Yuri jump, made him stop, turning on Ryosuke, a strange mixture of anger and frustration and fear combining into a response, “You want to know why? Because this,” Yuri’s hand gestured between the two of them, “This is not possible. This is not going to happen. You are you and I am me, and it’s not remotely possible for us to have anything more than a professional relationship. I am always going to be the barista, and you are always going to be the idol.” 

Ryosuke’s mouth opened and closed, flabbergasted, his head shaking, his expression not remotely hiding his confusion and hurt feelings, “What in the world…what do you mean?” 

Yuri sighed, crossing his arms across his chest, his voice pained, “I am nothing like you, I don’t fit you, you need one of those other kind of people who, I dunno, who know the difference between types of wine, and who knows which fork to use for what course, and all of those things–who knows name brands and likes expensive and weird things like caviar…I’m not that person! Honestly, I’m nobody. I have nothing to offer you. I bring nothing to the table. You would only be with me because you feel sorry for me.” 

“That’s a lie!” Ryosuke’s voice was firm, his body shifting toward Yuri, like he was preparing to step closer, his eyes intense as they held Yuri’s, daring him to argue, “That’s completely false. I want to take you out because you are an amazing guy, and because I think there’s something so unique and speci–but now, wait, wait just a minute–what in the world would make you think any of that? Did I say or do something or is this because you know I’m an idol and that automatically makes me a stuck-up brat who doesn’t eat frozen pizza and drink beer on the weekends?” 

Yuri stared at him, his mouth growing dry, opening and closing before he spoke softly, “You don’t eat frozen pizza and drink beer.” 

“I most certainly do,” Ryosuke laughed, shaking his head, “Do you honestly think I cook seven course meals daily just because I know how to cook? Or that I pay a personal chef to cook for me or something?” 

“I–I don’t know…I–You’re…you’re confusing me.” Yuri clenched his eyes closed, trying to clear his head, to make sense of this conversation. 

“No, I’m telling you the truth, I don’t know why you thought these things, but it feels like you’re doing to me what you’ve been saying I was doing to you!” 

Yuri startled at that, weighing the words for truth and finding it was fact, his eyes popping open, his brows drawn down, “I’m sorry,” his voice was a mere whisper, “I just…I don’t know why you’re so interested in me.” 

Ryosuke darted forward so fast Yuri inhaled sharply as he invaded his personal bubble. 

Yuri trembled at his proximity when he moved close enough to whisper against his ear, his voice soft, and gentlethe smooth sound of his words making Yuri’s eyes flutter closed, “Yuri, I am interested in you because you are fascinating, and it has nothing to do with where you work, what you wear, or where you live–it’s because of who you are.” 

Yuri’s mouth popped open to protest, but it was like Ryosuke could read his mind, “I don’t know who told you that you were nobody, but I’m going to see to it one way or another that you realize it’s a lie.” 

Ryosuke leaned back, his face entirely too close to Yuri’s, his eyes filled with sincerity, “Just…please, just let me take you out. Let me get to know you the way those people do.” 

“I can’t give you anything, Yamada-san,” Yuri glanced down, the truth causing him to feel embarrassed again, “I can–” 

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Ryosuke interrupted him, his voice firm, “You can give me the only thing I want, the thing that no fame, no fortune, no amount of prestige, talent, skill, or abilities will ever afford me…” 

Yuri looked up at him, his eyes wide, afraid that the spell was going to be broken, feeling overwhelmed as Ryosuke smiled softly, the corners of his eyes tender with emotion, “You. 

“Me?” 

“Yes,” Ryosuke nodded, “You. Please, give me a chance. Forget the notions you’ve built up about why you should run, and let me reassure you–convince you to stay.” 

Yuri felt a war within, wondering if he could, or maybe more importantly if he should believe the things Ryosuke was saying, if he should so easily toss all of his excuses aside. 

They were always stupid excuses, Yuri knew that, because the truth is, he wasn’t one to take risks, especially not in relationships. He’d rather be alone than suffer from caring for someone else and them not feeling the same.  

“Ok-okay,” Yuri nodded, surprised when the word flew out of his mouth. 

“Really?” Ryosuke’s eyes were wide, his voice high, “Seriously?” 

Yuri couldn’t help but laugh, because Ryosuke’s expression looked so excited, so happy, and he shrugged, nodding, “Okay.” 

Ryosuke laughed, grabbing his hand, and started to drag Yuri toward the sidewalk, Yuri looked around in confusion, “Wait, what are we doing, Yamada-san?” 

Ryosuke stopped, looking at Yuri with amusement, “Ryosuke,” he corrected firmly, “and we’re going on a date.” 

He started walking again, and Yuri tried to stop him, pulling back on his arm, “Wait, what? Now?” 

“If you think I’m giving you a chance to change your mind, you can forget it!” 

He has a point. 

Shut up. 

Just saying. 

“Where are we going, Yama–” Yuri stopped mid-sentence when Ryosuke frowned, clearing his throat before he tested the name, “Ryosuke?” 

“To dinner,” Ryosuke smiled, dragging him toward a taxi. 

“Dinner…” Yuri’s mind flittered to his appearance, to the jeans and t-shirt he had on under that stupid apron and coat, his hands shaking with nerves as he pulled his hand free, untying the apron to drag it off and fold it into his arms, gesturing to himself and his hoodie, “I’m not…I’m not wearing the right clot–” 

“Relax,” Ryosuke mused, opening the cab door, holding his hadn out for Yuri to hop in, “We’re going to this cute little Italian restaurant I love, a normal, everyday place. Besides, to be honest, you’re dressed perfect for at least 99% of what I actually do in my life.” 

“You sure?” 

“Positive.” 

“But…what if…” 

“We’re eating pizza. 

Ryosuke smiled softly when Yuri got into the taxi, shifting into the seat to make room for him to slide in, not trusting his words, he just nodded in agreement. 

That sounds good. 

Ryosuke glanced over at Yuri, their legs touching  as he moved forward, telling the driver where to take them, and then turned to look at Yuri, his eyes twinkling, “Pizza…and then we’re going to really talk.” 

That sounds even better. 

 

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Yuri had gone out to dinner with his parents since Ryosuke had to work later than he did, so when he arrived home, he wasn’t surprised that everything was dark apart from the small lamp on top of the entry way table. He figured Ryosuke was asleep already since he texted him that he was on his way up and didn’t get a response. He toed off his shoes, pushing them against the edge of the wall, glancing down at the waffle he’d stopped at the gourmet bakery on his way out to bring home for Ryosuke, smiling when he thought about how happy he would be.  

He is so easy to make smile. 

Well, in reality he knew that wasn’t exactly true, at least, it seemed these days it was definitely a little harder than normal. 

Maybe, it’s best to say it’s so easy for me to make him smile. 

He moved down the hallway, turning the corner toward their bedroom, his mind going over the last few weeks and how worried he’d been about Ryosuke. After all, he’d been working non-stop for months, and honestly, not taking good care of himself so he was a little hair-trigger at best and a complete foul beast at worst. Yuri didn’t mind his moods, Ryosuke had always been a moody one—but more like, he was worried about his health, about his mental well-being, and about his overall happiness when he seemed to be taking everything in life so seriously. 

He made a decision then…knowing he needed to do something, anything to help him, to keep the promises he made that day on the beach, cause he meant them, and even though he felt ill equipped to be in the nurturing taking-care of your husband role…somehow, he was pleased to discover he was actually eager to try to figure it out.  

I have no idea where to start. 

In all reality, Yuri wasn’t too much of a planner, fairly used to being told what to do, when to do it, and where to be at what time in general, he relied very heavily on his calendar app which he shared with Jump so they would always know what was doing what when. In this way, since he was just a small child, most all things had been planned by others, and he wasn’t sure how you started to plan to do things on your own—or how you plan things for someone else who has a schedule as insanely hectic as Ryosuke.  

Though, in considering it, there had been a few times he’d enlisted the help of his manager and sometimes one of the other members to help him plan a gift or event or even trip to surprise Ryosuke with—and then that one time he actually had managed to plan an entire mini-vacation by himself—but it was unusual and took a lot of time to do. 

He turned the corner to head down the hallway to their room, standing between the door to the kitchen and the one to their bedroom, hesitating, trying to decide whether to take the waffle to the kitchen or not. He’d had the thought to take a picture of the waffles in the display case to show them to Ryosuke, as already the on in the clear container didn’t look quite as appetizing as it did earlier in the day—though, he hoped the old adage ‘it’s the thought that counts’ would work here—which if he knew Ryosuke—that would be all that mattered, and he’d probably eat anything if it was from Yuri anyway.  

All he wanted was to make him smile…in retrospect, maybe a waffle for the next day wasn’t the best gift…but he just knew when he saw them that he needed to give it to Ryosuke. Though, it was frustrating sometimes trying to figure out how to do this…he felt ill prepared and blamed his parents and primarily the other Jump members for letting him get by with being a complete baby for so long. It certainly wasn’t serving him well in this part of his life thus far. 

I really don’t know the first thing about how to take care of anyone…let alone Ryosuke. 

He shrugged, turning into the bedroom, thinking that since Ryosuke didn’t have to go to work until they left to film School Kakumei that he could surprise him with the waffle in the morning, then go warm it up to feed him as breakfast in bed. 

Pleased with his foresight he wondered again if just maybe he could really, genuinely figure out a way to help Ryosuke…to help him, heal him, to even just show him how loved he was, how important he was. 

There has to be a way. 

How can I figure this out…I need to…think of something that would make him feel soft and cared for… 

His eyes widened as the image of Ryosuke’s mother flashed through his mind. 

Of course! No one knows him better than she does! 

And in that moment a new plan was born—the ‘heal my husband’ plan that he knew he would probably spend the rest of his life implementing if he could.  

His eyes landed on the bed where Ryosuke was sleeping, curled up onto his side, his arms wrapped around the stuffed teddy bear that Yuri keeps on his side of the bed, and he couldn’t help but laugh softly, because while Mama Yamada knew Ryosuke better than anyone else, certainly, there was no question that he knows him better than even her…which meant if he brought her in on his plan, they couldn’t fail to make Ryosuke happy and feel cherished, loved, healed, and renewed. 

Tomorrow. 

__________________________________________  

Ryosuke had left to visit his sister for a little while, hesitant after having been gone the way he had recently for work, but Yuri had all but insisted, saying he knew it would help him feel better, and as he moved into the elevator and pressed the keycode to take him up to their home he realized he had been right. Of course, playing with his niece went a long way to bringing him into a better headspace as well, as always. 

When the doors opened and he walked into the lobby of their entry, he felt the warmth of happiness spread across him—so glad to be home. He inhaled deeply when he swung the door open, an enticing aroma immediately hitting him, his eyes widening, because this wasn’t just any scent, but the scent of something familiar to him, nostalgia rushing through him as he threw off his shoes to move quickly into the kitchen.  

His eyes widened when he walked in, his gaze affixed to where Yuri was standing at the stove, twisted around to look at Ryosuke, expression surprised with his mouth popped open to form a near perfect ‘o’ shape. His adorably cute face was distracting enough, but honestly, it was the ruffled apron tied around his neck that was giving Ryosuke fits at the moment. His eyes flowed down from the heart shaped bib with red trim that had strawberries on it that covered his chest, tapering down to his trim waist where there was a small ruffled apron covered in white polka dots, with a flowing red apron skirt underneath  flaring out in soft flowing pleats around his legs.  

Ryosuke swallowed hard, not knowing until this exact moment that he’d always needed to see Yuri in an apron. 

No, not any apron, one just exact-a-fucking-like this one. 

THIS apron. 

He cleared his throat, his fingers clenching tightly as he stopped himself from rushing across the room to show Yuri exactly how much he appreciated his apron when the scent from the pot he’d been stirring hit him again, the fog clearing momentarily so he could remember what he’d been wondering in the first place. Glancing quickly around at the counters, he discovered they weren’t the mess he was expecting, rather, it was fairly tidy, his eyes landed on Yuri who was blindly stirring whatever was in the pot, his eyes still affixed to Ryosuke’s despite his mouth now being drawn into a tense line, “Ah…Ree?” 

“You’re early!” Yuri snapped, twisting as he threw himself into resuming his stirring, his head bending to look back down into the pot. 

“I’m exactly on time, I told you I’d be home at five…” Ryosuke gestured to the clock on the wall above Yuri, taking the time to appreciate this view of Yuri as well, his shoulders looking broad where the apron’s strings tied around his waist pulled his shirt down, narrowing his waist.  

Damn. 

Yuri glanced up, his eyes widening, his voice surprised, “It’s already five!” 

“Yeah,” Ryosuke laughed, too curious to not ask, his stomach rumbling softly at the exquisite smell of the food around him, “What are you doing?” 

“Nothing!”  

Ryosuke smiled, knowing full well that if Yuri could cover everything up and keep it from him, he would, but there was nothing to be done for it now, unable to resist, Ryosuke walked slowly around the counter, “Whattttcha doing, Reeeeeee?”  

He wanted to laugh at the way that Yuri’s shoulders stiffened, irritation clear that things were not going according to what was in all probability his very carefully tended and executed plans. Ryosuke watched as his shoulders raised up, then fell in an effort to dispel the tension from them, twisting his head to the side to stretch his neck, calling attention to where his shoulder and neck met, looking perfectly kissable with the red and white polka dotted bow from the apron nestled underneath the edge of his hair as if presenting Yuri as a gift to him. 

Well, I mean really tho 

NO! 

Later… 

Ryosuke tore his eyes away from the exquisite line of Yuri’s neck to glance around the kitchen as he continued his approach where Yuri was standing, vision moving across the ingredients sitting neatly on the counter, his mind whirling as he put it together, “Wha–what….” 

Yuri glanced over his shoulder, his expression an odd mixture of excitement, anticipation, and…maybe, fear—then he took a quick breath, tilting his head toward the stove, inviting Ryosuke to come closer.  

Ryosuke shuffled forward to stand behind Yuri, leaning to look over his shoulder into the pot, the bow tickling his neck as he tilted forward, his breath caught in his throat as he saw what it contained, “Is…is that…?” 

“Yes,” Yuri spoke the word so proudly it made Ryosuke smile, realizing why Yuri was so worked up over this moment.  

He reached his arms carefully around Yuri’s waist, brushing against the soft cotton of the apron to draw him back against him as he squeezed him tightly.  

“You…you’re…but…wait…is my Mom here?” Ryosuke leaned around to press a firm kiss on Yuri’s cheek. 

“No, she left a few hours ago after she got me started on how to make this,” Yuri spoke quickly, pushing his behind backward to press against Ryosuke, trying to make him move, “Scooch!” 

Ryosuke held him for another moment, wondering if he couldn’t just wait this out, but then he didn’t want to cause Yuri to be any more nervous than he already was—reluctantly releasing him, his fingers lingering on the apron’s soft fabric as he stepped just far enough back to give Yuri what he considered a reasonable amount of space without actually moving outside of his bubble. His fingers ran down the edge of the apron, grabbing the long string of the bow that was tied around his waist, watching as Yuri pulled on what must be oven mitts his mother had brought him, red and white polka dotted ones that matched the apron.  

Damn. 

Yuri sighed in exasperation when he bumped into Ryosuke as he moved backward, huffing impatiently, “Oh my God!” 

“Sorry,” Ryosuke muttered, but they both knew he wasn’t remotely sorry, and that Yuri would have to literally force him away at this point. 

Yuri stared at him for a moment, gauging how hard it would be to manhandle Ryosuke into a chair and then decided it would be far more trouble than it was worth, huffing again as he shook his head, turning to open the oven door. He leaned over to remove the pot held within, hissing when he felt Ryosuke’s fingers slide across the roundness of his backside to grasp his hips as he pulled him back slightly against him.  

“I’m actually dealing with a 350 degree oven here,” Yuri rolled his eyes, knowing Ryosuke was singularly minded at the moment, absently wondering if his mother actually knew this would happen when she gave him the apron and gloves, but then felt weird to even consider it so dismissed it forthright, “I mean, it’s a miracle for me to be cooking at all, you’re putting both our lives at risk at the moment.” 

Ryosuke groaned, his fingertips tightening on Yuri’s hips before he released him, stepping backward until he bumped into the counter in an effort to give him room to safely move, “Sorry…” 

“You’re definitely not,” Yuri laughed softly, pulling out the covered pot carefully, setting it on the hotplate on the counter. 

“Yeah,” Ryosuke shrugged, “I’m not at all.” 

Yuri shook his head, “You are shameless,” reaching over to turn the oven off, then took a deep, cleansing breath before turning to fully look at Ryosuke with a bashful expression. 

Ryosuke wanted to grab him up into his arms and erase whatever this emotion of uncertainty was, but he knew it would just make Yuri even more flustered, so he settled for smiling softly at him as a way to encourage him to go on. 

Yuri’s fingers fiddled with the apron’s edge, “I…um…I’d wanted to have it on a plate already but…well…I mean…surprise?”  

Yuri’s hand gestured to the side at the food on the stove, “I wish I had the ti–” 

His words were muffled as Ryosuke had darted forward, grabbing him around the waist and kissing him fiercely as he stole his breath, drawing back with a laugh, “Shut up, it’s perfect, I don’t think anyone has ever done anything…so…perfect for me.” 

“I mean, I did marry you,” Yuri raised an eyebrow. 

“Well, yes, but…you made my favorite home-cooked meal from my childhood…that’s…well, it’s not marriage worthy maybe but it’s pretty high up!” 

“Really?” Yuri couldn’t help but smile, thrilled that Ryosuke was pleased, his heart soaring at how happy Ryosuke was. 

“Yes!” Ryosuke hugged him tightly, “Really! Thank you!” 

“You’re welcome,” Yuri whispered as he squeezed Ryosuke’s waist, trying to ignore the way his ribs were poking into him, knowing he’d learn to cook everything Ryosuke loved, anything in the world, no matter how hard, if it meant getting him back to good health again. 

“Come on! Let’s get you fed,” Yuri pushed at Ryosuke’s shoulders lightly, not remotely surprised when he simply shifted to the side, still holding onto Yuri as he made them both bowls of rice and curry.  

Yuri attempted to sit down on the couch in his normal place, but Ryosuke had grabbed him around the waist, pulling him down across his lap to where he was turned sideways, his legs laying across his lap, eyes wide as he watched Ryosuke turn on the tv to watch one of their programs, his gaze moving across Ryosuke’s face to try to decipher this mood. 

Ryosuke sat the remote down on the cushion beside them, his hand squeezing Yuri’s thigh absently before he grabbed his bowl of curry, then glanced over at Yuri who was stilled, watching everything he was doing, “Wh—what?” 

“I can sit over here, or…there or…” 

“Or here?” Ryosuke tilted his head, “Here is good.” 

“You’re so…” 

“I know, just…” Ryosuke tried to explain it, tried to put into words but he just couldn’t figure out how to express it, “I just…I need you close right now…” 

Yuri felt his heart beating wildly in his chest, because Ryosuke wasn’t weak, and he rarely confessed to needing more attention than normal, he definitely wasn’t the clingy type ordinarily. As Yuri studied him, his eyes grew softer, his fingertips tightened on Yuri’s thigh, “Is…is it okay?” 

Yuri tilted up and forward, pressing a soft, tender kiss to his lips, and then his cheek before pulling back, “Here’s perfect.” 

He felt the relief in Ryosuke immediately, his cheeks bright as he smiled, flashing forward to kiss Yuri quickly and then wiggling his hips to settle them down further into the couch. 

Yuri tapped his arm, and when Ryosuke glanced over at him, he gestured for him to hand him his bowl of curry sitting on the console table behind them.  

Ryosuke grunted, his expression clearly saying ‘as if’ before he dug his chopsticks into the bowl to dig out the perfect bite to feed Yuri. 

“I can feed myse—” 

The words died in Yuri’s throat when Ryosuke’s eyes darted up to his, something there, something soft, and tender, and insecure, and so…needy. Yuri bit his lip, not completely sure he should be indulging whatever this was but at the same time, wanting to do anything that would heal Ryosuke, so he stopped worrying so much, smiling before he popped his mouth open expectantly for Ryosuke to give him the first bite. 

He screeched, smacking his shoulder, indignant when Ryosuke started to feed him and then quickly put the first bite into his own mouth, making a show of how good it was, “Give me my bowl, you dummy!” 

“Uh-uh,” Ryosuke shoved Yuri’s hands back as he laughed, trying to not spill the food from his mouth, “Sorry, sorry okay here! Here!!!” 

Ryosuke frantically dug into the bowl to pull out a large bite which he offered to Yuri, who narrowed his eyes at him before he slowly leaned forward, his mouth opening wide enough to take the bite into his mouth. 

Ryosuke’s eyes dilated, his breath caught in his chest as he watched Yuri’s lips close around the chopsticks, the slow pull backward as they drug against the smooth black surface, sliding off the end as Yuri hummed in satisfaction. Ryosuke stared at Yuri’s lips as he chewed the curry, his mind racing, and then he blindly reached back to grab Yuri’s bowl, shoving it into his hands. 

Yuri looked at him in confusion, chewing rapidly, talking around the bite of curry, “But I though—” 

“We’re not going to get any dinner if I keep feeding you like that…” Ryosuke spoke bluntly, his head tilting as his eyebrow rose slowly. 

A soft heat spread across Yuri as he felt himself blush furiously, still amazed that Ryosuke could make him feel like this after all this time, his voice soft as he clenched the bowl in his fingertips, “I see…” 

Ryosuke looked away from him, fixing his eyes on the safety of the television, freezing when Yuri leaned forward, his lips close to his ear, the softness of his breath caressing his skin, “If my goal wasn’t fattening your skinny ass up I would demand you not only feed me but that you wear the apron while you do it.” 

Ever the master of perfect timing, he let Ryosuke sit in that thought for a moment before he purred seductively against his ear, “Only the apron.” 

Ryosuke gasped, attempting to turn his head to look at Yuri but he was stopped by Yuri’s fingers grabbing his chin to turn his head to the bowl resting on his legs across his lap, his voice back to his typical, bossy, no nonsense one as he ordered pointedly, “EAT.” 

Demanding little… 

“Now,” Yuri insisted, and Ryosuke couldn’t find it within himself to argue, savoring the next bite of the curry that his mother made for him when he was a child, but somehow tasted even better now that it had been touched by Yuri. 

__________________________________________  

Yuri had nestled himself into the couch, laying his head in Ryosuke’s lap after they’d finished eating, intent on watching the latest installment in their favorite movie lineup. He’d been so intrigued by the movie they were watching he hadn’t realized Ryosuke had fallen asleep until the credits began to roll. Carefully rolling onto his back so he could look up at him from his position, he had to smile at how cute Ryosuke was with his head tilted down and to the side, tiny little puffs of air causing his hair to barely move against his cheek. All Yuri wanted to do was grab him up and cushion him in a huge roll of bubble wrap to keep him safe and protected. 

If only there was a way. 

A tiny sound escaped his mouth when Ryosuke’s body jerked, his eyes popping open, and Yuri lifted his hand to soothe him, running his palm against his cheek, “Another dream?” 

Ryosuke had the haunted look in his eyes, swallowing hard, then then nodded slowly, glancing at the television to see he’d missed the end of the movie, eyes finally connecting to Yuri’s causing him to smile, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” 

“Oh, well,” Yuri grinned up at him, grabbing his hand to pull it over so he could place a soft kiss on it, “You definitely owe me now.” 

Ryosuke blinked slowly, his head tilting, his voice soft when he quickly pulled Yuri’s hand up and placed a kiss on top of it, mirroring his actions, “I already owe you more than I can ever pay.” 

“Pfft,” Yuri laughed softly, “Don’t be stupid…” 
 
“I’m really not,” Ryosuke insisted, his hand moving to brush Yuri’s hair off his forehead, “I’m not.” 

Yuri stared at him, studying him, because he was still radiating the same intensity from before, something Yuri wasn’t able to quite pinpoint the meaning of or the reason for, his heart just wanting more than anything to just impress upon him how precious he was to him. 

“I love you,” Yuri lifted up on his elbow, drawing his hand up to pull Ryosuke’s head down so that their noses touched, “I really love you, and you loving me is all I need.” 

Ryosuke hummed, his fingers running softly across Yuri’s hip, up his side to rest on his shoulder, the delicate motion of his thumb causing chills to erupt on Yuri’s skin, his eyes full of tenderness, “Same.” 

Ryosuke leaned down, closing the space between them, the touch of his lips speaking tenderness between their souls, soft and gentle as he conveyed more than his words could possibly express. 

When Yuri’s lips parted, his tongue touching Ryosuke’s lips softly, he felt the knot in his tummy tighten when Ryosuke moaned into the kiss, his fingers clenching against his shoulder before he was instantly in motion, flipped around and squealing as the world was spinning. 

His arms grasped onto Ryosuke’s shoulders, laughing as Ryosuke made no effort to worry over what Yuri was thinking as he carried him down the hallway to their bedroom, gingerly depositing him on the bed before he crawled up to him, resuming the kiss. 

This was the simplest of things in their life, the connection they had, the kisses, the touches, there was nothing to think about, nothing to consider, it was always the one thing that anchored them to the moment—made the chaos of their lives dissipate into the place where they both knew all that mattered was each other. 

Yuri groaned as Ryosuke pressed down onto him, never growing tired of how this felt, of the way his weight met his own with such perfect alignment, of how it felt like his body, all of the hard planes and gentle curves were made to fit with his own body—except… 

His fingers ran across Ryosuke’s side, fingertips hitting the obvious indentions between his ribs, forcing his head to the side, breaking the kiss with a breathless complaint, “No…no…” 

Ryosuke just ignored him, grinding his hips against him as he dipped his head to nibble on his neck, causing Yuri to groan loudly, smacking his back, “Stop that!” 

Ryosuke laughed against his neck, having zero shame in the rolling rhythm his hips were still dancing in when he drew back to look down at Yuri, “What?” 

“It does no good for me to feed you a bunch of food so you’ll gain weight,” Yuri ran his fingertips underneath Ryosuke’s shirt, tickling across Ryosuke’s abdomen to draw attention to what he meant, causing Ryosuke to suck in his tummy and squeal, “If you’re just going to turn around and work it off instantly.” 

Ryosuke stared at him for a moment, his eyes clearly showing that he was quickly going through multiple conversations in his mind, looking for the perfect words, actions or combination of the two that would win Yuri to his way of thinking, but Yuri grabbed his hips, stopping his motion, his words firm, “No.” 

“But you…” Ryosuke pushed down harder against him, drawing attention to the fact that both of them were in the same condition, to which Yuri slapped his ass, hard, laughing when Ryosuke’s eyes widened comically. 

“No,” Yuri repeated, shoving up against Ryosuke, “Get off!” 

“I’m trying,” Ryosuke grinned shamelessly. 

“You…” Yuri sputtered, laughing softly, then narrowing his eyes so Ryosuke would know he meant business, “Get off of me or I’m locking up the game system for a week,” Yuri shoved him again, and this time Ryosuke let himself be moved, rolling off of Yuri onto the side of the bed, his arm thrown across his eyes as he issued a long, loud series of complaints about how Yuri was decidedly the worst husband in the universe who didn’t remotely care about him.  

Yuri just shook his head at how dramatic Ryosuke could be when he was turned on and then denied satisfaction, his eyes drifting over his form, his shirt too loose from his weight loss, the way it hung off his frame making Yuri frown, the shorts on his hips too large as well, the gap of the band between his stomach and the material too apparent…his tongue automatically peeked out to wet his lips when he arrived at Ryosuke’s more than apparent need.  

He’s so beautiful…God…I hate myself sometimes for my self-control… 

A thousand scenarios flashed through Yuri’s mind, none of them helping the insistent need he was having trouble controlling himself, each making the situation harder, in every single aspect of the word. 

Unless. 

Yuri shifted, quickly straddling Ryosuke, his thighs resting on him as he rolled his hips, Ryosuke’s hand flying down to hit the bed as he gasped, jerking up to grab Yuri around the waist to stop his movement, hissing, “Isn’t the point here to calm the fuck down?” 

“Or…” Yuri tilted his head, his hips swaying despite Ryosuke’s attempts to keep him still, “You could just let me do all the work.” 

Ryosuke blinked, his eyes widening for a moment, and then he started to say something, but Yuri stole the words with a searing kiss, then pushed against his chest, “Go.” 

Ryosuke hesitated but when Yuri pushed against his chest again, he slowly laid back down, watching as Yuri pulled his shirt off, tossing it across the room, his heart racing at the sight of how unbelievably gorgeous he was sitting there on top of him like he was the king of the world…and well, he was, at least Ryosuke’s world. 

Yuri took his time, undressing Ryosuke, worshipping each inch of skin as it was exposed, touching him, teasing him, loving him…and when he had brought Ryosuke to the point he was a shaking, whining puddle of need—he took care of him in the only way he knew how—loving him in the way he deserved to be loved. 

As Yuri slowly pressed down onto him, Ryosuke reached forward, his fingers skimming his thighs, but Yuri grabbed his wrists, leaning forward as he pushed all the way down until he could capture Ryosuke’s lips with his own, pinning his hands to the side of his head. Drawing back slightly, so that he could see his expression, slowly rolling his hips, causing Ryosuke to moan softly, his arms pushing against Yuri’s hands where he had him restrained. 

“Keep them here,” Yuri whispered, pushing firmly against his wrists in emphasis. 

Ryosuke studied him for a moment and when he looked like he was about to argue, Yuri stopped moving, his eyes narrowing, and when Ryosuke tried to move his hips, looking for the lost friction, Yuri pushed him down onto the bed as hard as he could, causing him to hiss, his voice rough, whining, “But why?” 

“I told you…” Yuri’s voice was soft despite how demanding he was being, “I told you,” he pressed a soft kiss to his lips, “Tonight,” a kiss to his left check, “Is,” a kiss to his right cheek, “All,” a kiss to his forehead, “About,” a kiss to his chin, “You,” a kiss to his nose, “So, just be still and let me take care of you.” 

Ryosuke reluctantly nodded, lifting his head to kiss him before Yuri pushed up off the bed, his hands resting on Ryosuke’s abdomen, relishing the feeling of his muscles flexing as he began to slowly lift up, rotating his hips with a sigh.                                 

There was something about this position, about being the one in charge, and it wasn’t what he figured most people would think it was—after all, there were certainly times Yuri got off on being in control and basically making Ryosuke take what he gave him—but then there were times like this—times when it wasn’t really about that—it was about the connection. Each tiny flutter of his heart as he pressed down onto him, yielding his body to his form, allowing him to become a part of him, to merge within his own body, it felt like their hearts were bound together more fully. To see Ryosuke there underneath him, his eyes soft and flaming at the same time, his lips full and pouting, his form strung tightly—it wasn’t about power or control, not right then, it was about how vulnerable he was, how he was willing to be there under him—how he would let himself be made vulnerable. 

It was the purest and rawest form of love that Yuri could think of—to be vulnerable with the person you trusted to never abuse or take advantage of you. 

When Ryosuke would try to move his hips or actively participate Yuri would instantly stop moving, his eyes threatening Ryosuke who would pitch a mini fit and then nod, trying to stop himself from grabbing Yuri, flipping him over and fucking him into the next week for torturing him like this—even if it was the best kind of torture, it was still torture.  

Eventually, Yuri settled on a perfect rhythm, slow and sensual, tender and loving—and after a while he even showed a bit of mercy, allowing Ryosuke a little bit of leeway to move, his hands grabbing his hips, clenching against the skin there, urging Yuri to move more. Yuri teased him as long as he could stand it, the friction a powerful motivation to make him move more, touch more, and then his hips were rolling in abandon, eyes closed as he lost himself in the feeling, hissing when Ryosuke’s hand shifted from his hip to wrap firmly around him, stroking slowly as Yuri’s eyes popped open, jerking his hips at the same time. 

He was too close—there was no way he could keep both the movement of his hips and handle being touched, his hand reaching down to stop Ryosuke, but it was too late. In his moment of weakness, Ryosuke had usurped control in an instant, his body lifting up off the bed, his lips attacking Yuri’s as he pushed him, his form easily being manipulated until Ryosuke was on top of him, his hips snapping in the way that Yuri could literally die for, and then he was bowed up against him, his entire form consumed with the enveloping pleasure as it spiked and then reverberated throughout his body, somewhere in the ensuing bliss hearing Ryosuke gasping and violently cursing through his own release. 

Minutes later, Yuri lay breathlessly beside him, still riding the euphoric high, his arm slapping against Ryosuke’s chest in frustration, “You fucking ass!” 

Ryosuke laughed, rolling on his side to see Yuri better, “A few minor adjustments to that sentence and then…yes.” 

Yuri scoffed, “You…” 

“Hmm?” Ryosuke was smiling so cutely, so proud of overthrowing Yuri’s authority he couldn’t even work himself up into being mad about it. 

“The plan was to make you eat and rest,” Yuri complained, letting himself be pulled against Ryosuke as he grinned down at him. 

“Is that so?” Ryosuke asked, his smile soft and sweet as he pressed a kiss to Yuri’s lips, “Did I mess up your plans?” 

“Well,” Yuri couldn’t help it, he was mesmerized by Ryosuke, by his charm, the soft tilt of his smile, “I guess not.” 

__________________________________________  

After Ryosuke had fallen asleep, Yuri rolled over, gingerly sliding his cellphone off the charger to look at the email again. Blinking his eyes to be sure he was reading it correctly. He just couldn’t believe it… 

This is real. 

This is happening. 

The smile on his face was nearly hurting as he slid his finger to close the email, then tapping the screen as he dug down through his folders into the dark abyss, reaching five layers deep into his Inoo-chan folder. 

He tapped the file titled ‘Inoo-chan’s ass’…stifling a giggle over the name. It had been Ryosuke’s sisters who had helped him set up the folder when he’d come to them with his idea of healing Ryosuke—and they were responsible for the name of the folder. They’d asked him if there was a place that Ryosuke would likely never go to on his phone and he’d said he would probably have to be threatened with not his own, but in fact, Yuri’s death to get him to enter into the Inoo-chan folder. So, they suggested they bury the file deep inside that folder, in a place that they could be pretty sure Ryosuke would never dare go from fear of being traumatized for life. 

He’d been relieved when they didn’t ask him about the folder with a mountain of odd pictures of Inoo—nor the fact that the folder they’d ended up placing the file held an extraordinary number of pictures of Inoo-chan’s fingers. He smiled at how amazing Ryosuke’s sisters were, feeling blessed they were such loving, supportive siblings to Ryosuke, and precious, dear friends to himself as he waited…the screen flashed and the spreadsheet opened, his eyes skimming his list of things he had come up with to do for Ryosuke. Some of them where things he’d thought of, some that he’d read about or saw in a tv show or movie, friends and even Jump members also contributed, and of course, Ryosuke’s Mom and sisters as well.  

He scrolled down through the pages until he reached the proper line, happy when he could put an X into the box to denote, he’d accomplished feeding him his mother’s curry. 

Once he’d done that his eyes landed on the next one, the one that was already planned and set to take place next week—“Make Yama-chan a Daddy for the day”—and he couldn’t wait! Ryosuke was going to melt when he was in that studio for the magazine shoot with all those babies! Yuri felt like a mastermind when he thought of the other super special surprise, he’d arranged for that particular photo shoot, and could not WAIT to mark that one off the list. 

He swallowed hard, his finger hovering above the screen for a moment before he drew it down, trembling as he pressed onto the line that held the text for that event, copying the block, the words of the email flashing through his mind, pasting the cell and then changing the words to the newest goal he’d set. 

His heart was thundering in his chest as he looked at the words, in black and white, placed there on his ‘to do’ list he’d begun so many months ago for becoming a better caretaker for Ryosuke—and with this new addition, all Yuri could think was that there was nothing that was going to stop him from making this one come true. 

Nothing. 

**scroll down to see Yuri’s cellphone screen!


Types
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My Omega Index
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Reading Time: 3 minutes
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“I think fate is a chance to meet someone wonderful! I think fate is what brought Chinen and I together.” –Yamada Ryosuke

Chapter 1: Mystery

Chapter 2: Alpha

Chapter 3: Hybrid

Chapter 4: Alone

Chapter 5: Trust

Chapter 6: Understand

Chapter 7: Promise

Chapter 8: Wrong

Chapter 9: Fate

“I think fate is a chance to meet someone wonderful! I think fate is what brought Chinen and I together.” –Yamada Ryosuke

This story is an AU featuring the members of Hey! Say! Jump as Idols (as themselves) with an Alpha/Beta/Omega type society that has been dormant for a very long time but suddenly the trait appears to have been reactivated.

Primary pairing is YamadaxChinen, but it also includes a few other group pairings.

There are a few details about this universe that are revealed through out the story and I hate when you sort of feel like you have to take notes while reading a fic so I have done my best to lead forward and point backward when necessary. In the notes at the start of each chapter I will place a list of what we have learned up until this point about the world, our Alpha/Beta/Omega characters, and their abilities. I hope this will help you enjoy the story even more!

If you find yourself wondering more about the story’s universe or background information, please feel free to ask any questions you have.

I didn’t really know a single thing about ABO (Alpha Beta Omega) Universe before this so if you are put out by that genre I do understand–I realized through my research there are certainly some dynamics that can be confusing and in some cases disturbing–but I hope that even if ABO traditionally isn’t your forte you might give my story a try as I did my best to put my own spin on it and take the parts I thought were pretty fascinating and then the ones that made my heart flutter in softness to make something a little bit new! ENJOY!

Comments and thoughts are priceless gifts to me, and Kudos are a blessing to me and mean so much I can never express. Whether you do these or not, please know how much I truly and sincerely appreciate you taking the time out of your busy life just to read this work! THANK YOU!

“I think fate is a chance to meet someone wonderful! I think fate is what brought Chinen and I together.” –Yamada Ryosuke

This story is an AU featuring the members of Hey! Say! Jump as Idols (as themselves) with an Alpha/Beta/Omega type society that has been dormant for a very long time but suddenly the trait appears to have been reactivated.

Primary pairing is YamadaxChinen, but it also includes a few other group pairings.

There are a few details about this universe that are revealed through out the story and I hate when you sort of feel like you have to take notes while reading a fic so I have done my best to lead forward and point backward when necessary. In the notes at the start of each chapter I will place a list of what we have learned up until this point about the world, our Alpha/Beta/Omega characters, and their abilities. I hope this will help you enjoy the story even more!

If you find yourself wondering more about the story’s universe or background information, please feel free to ask any questions you have.

I didn’t really know a single thing about ABO (Alpha Beta Omega) Universe before this so if you are put out by that genre I do understand–I realized through my research there are certainly some dynamics that can be confusing and in some cases disturbing–but I hope that even if ABO traditionally isn’t your forte you might give my story a try as I did my best to put my own spin on it and take the parts I thought were pretty fascinating and then the ones that made my heart flutter in softness to make something a little bit new! ENJOY!

Comments and thoughts are priceless gifts to me, and Kudos are a blessing to me and mean so much I can never express. Whether you do these or not, please know how much I truly and sincerely appreciate you taking the time out of your busy life just to read this work! THANK YOU!

Finally, to the dearest blessing I can call a precious friend, Punkin–THANK YOU. I know I couldn’t have done this without you, and while the “formal” name is beta–let’s be honest, you were my sounding board, therapist, fact checker, and sanity keeper. I appreciate you more than words can EVER express and this would NEVER have been what it is without you!!!!! (Seriously tho lol)

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{ 9 } Fate
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Reading Time: 21 minutes
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What we know so far: (refer to this section at the start of each chapter for recaps of the chapter before)

Our Members–

Yuri:
-although he does not recognize it as such, moving the furniture is the start of his ‘nesting’
-has resorted to taking small tokens of things that he has a strong tie with in memories and feelings of Ryosuke

ABO–
-AO are capable of cheating the bond system and ‘lie’ through it under some circumstances

Omegas:
-need their Alpha’s acceptance and support

Betas:

Super-Hybrids:
-Parent Alphas intimidate ALL Omegas (even those already marked by their own Alpha)

Please note: I subtitled the video, just turn them on =)

Chinen: Radio name, Ichigo san. The keyword is “fate”

Yamada: Fate?

Chinen: Yes

Yamada: So, it’s about fate now

Chinen: Says here to talk about Beethoven’s fate
(Beethoven’s fifth is called 運命/fate in Japan)

Yamada: Ah, I see. Well, I have nothing to say

Chinen: Na na na naaa♪

Yamada: … fate? I don’t know what to say on fate

Chinen: Fate, I don’t have a clue

Yamada: What’s fate?

Chinen: While you’re still talking, the sound is breaking up

Yamada: Not that fate?

Chinen:  Yes but your voice is breaking up while you keep saying fate, fate, fate

Yamada: Fine! You don’t have to say anything, I’ll talk about it!

Chinen: Here’s Yama chan’s opinion

Yamada: Fate is… well, a new encounter and what not. I’m going for just in general… I think fate is a chance to meet something/someone wonderful! In short, I think fate is what brought Chinen and I together

Chinen: Umm, I don’t have to talk right?

Yamada: No

Chinen:  ‘Cause you sounded like you were hoping for an replay back

Yamada: No no, you keep quiet

Chinen: You’re talking with the people listening, right?

Yamada: Yup

Chinen: Right?

Yamada: Yes so, you just keep quiet… To those who are listening to this radio, to those who are listening to my voice, I think this is a form of fate too… I love you all! Yup, I don’t know what I’m saying. Okay, Chinen kun talk!

Chinen: Okay

Yamada: My face is red right now

Chinen: After all, I can only think of Beethoven’s fate when I hear “fate”

Yamada: I think Chinen’s idea a little out there

Chinen: Yes, a little out there. Sorry about that

Yamada: Yup

Chinen: We are still waiting for keywords you want us to talk about. This was HEY!SAY!Talking

Yamada: Please listen to a song for now. It’s HSJ’s

Yama-Chi: Too shy

Translation courtesy of: https://jump-daisuki.livejournal.com/38164.html#cutid1

Ryosuke stood looking in his closet completely confused, because there were no clothes there. In fact, when he checked his drawers and the bathroom hamper—there were none of his clothes to be found. He couldn’t understand it and wandered to the kitchen to get the number for the laundry service to find out what exactly was going on.

He reached the cleaning service and they forwarded him to the laundry service, and once they answered he explained the situation to the lady on the phone, telling her that his laundry was clearly being picked up but no one was delivering it back to him.

The lady asked him to hold while she investigated which he agreed to, spending the four minutes she was gone lamenting how hard it was going to be to replace all those clothes if they were actually lost. They might be rather monochrome, but the truth was, they were all a little different and carefully curated to stay in his collection as he never bought something new without getting rid of the old.

When the lady returned to the line she spoke softly, “I’m sorry sir, but it appears that we were put on hold about three weeks ago.”

“What does that mean? ‘Put on hold’?”

“It is normally used when patrons go on vacation or something of that nature—a temporary disruption of service, but not a cancellation.”

“So, you were not picking up my clothes at all during the last three weeks?”

“No sir…”

“Who could authorize that?”

“Only someone who lives in your home.”

“I see,” Ryosuke thanked her for her help and got off the phone, more puzzled now than before he called—because unless he was losing his mind—he did not put the laundry service on pause, which left Yuri as the only possible explanation but he was so obsessive about soft, clean clothes he couldn’t remotely fathom him canceling a service he considered positively essential.

Still, he should ask, so he moved across the house, slowly stepping into the room since the door was open, “Yuri?”

His eyes landed on the bed, where there was a round lump, and he whispered, “Sorry! I didn’t know you were sleeping.”

He started to tiptoe out of the room, but then he couldn’t help the idea that flitted through his mind of how cute Yuri was when he slept, and how much he really wanted to see him since he hadn’t seen him all day long.

He carefully approached the bed, grabbing the edge of the comforter to gingerly draw it down to reveal Yuri.

Yuri.

And Ryosuke’s clothes.

Ryosuke tilted his head, trying to understand what he was seeing—because Yuri was just as cute as he had imagined, curled up into the tiniest little ball he’d ever seen, his arms tucked under his head, his expression soft and contented. Yet, around Yuri, in what he could only describe as a nest—were all of Ryosuke’s missing clothes.

The arrangement was clearly not random—rather, they were placed very precisely—it was obvious by the way they were rolled and folded—the soft parts pointing inward toward where Yuri lay, with the snaps and edges which were hard along the outer edge of the ring. He looked at all of the clothes, then noticed that Yuri’s head was on a makeshift pillow—his Fullmetal Alchemist hoodie.

If Hikaru hadn’t talked to him that day—if he didn’t know the truth, he would probably have been really angry and pitched a fit about this—but in light of what he now understood, what he knew about Yuri…this was absolutely the cutest and most precious thing he’d ever seen in his life.

His heart melted, his hands itching to touch Yuri, so he took the chance, tracing the line of clothes that led to his curled form to graze across his shoulder, smoothing through his hair, causing him to stir, a soft sigh in the space between them.

“Ryosuke?” Yuri whimpered, curling up tighter into the tiny ball, not opening his eyes.

“I’m here,” Ryosuke whispered back.

“I’m sorry,” Yuri stated, his eyes fluttering open to make contact with his for a moment and then he grabbed the hoodie and drug it over his face in embarrassment.

Ryosuke’s mind raced, trying to think of the right way to handle this, to reassure him, and then he knew.

He gingerly climbed up on the bed, much to Yuri’s protest as he messed up part of his nest, his complaints silenced when Ryosuke had positioned himself as a mirror to him, his nose touching his own where he peeked shyly out of his self-made hoodie cave.

Yuri blinked at him, confused, “I…”

“Shh,” Ryosuke smiled, reaching beyond the edge of the hoodie to run his fingers through Yuri’s hair causing him to close his eyes and he could swear he heard him purr softly before he spoke, “If I could I would have your stuff all around me all the time. If your clothes fit me…I would wear them too.”

Yuri’s eyes popped open, sparkling in the dim light of the fading afternoon.

“I would have you with me, beside me all of the time, and I’d never let you go.”

“Never?” Yuri whispered.

“Not ever,” Ryosuke confirmed, “I think you should just sleep in my room.”

“I…I should?”

“Yes,” Ryosuke nodded, nervous now that he’d said it out loud, “You obviously would sleep better there, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes,” Yuri replied without hesitation because he would, undoubtedly.

“Okay, then let’s try that?”

“Okay,” Yuri nodded, his eyes twinkling, “It doesn’t mean I won’t still…you know…take your clothes to…be a freak with.”

Ryosuke laughed, shrugging, “That’s fine, it just means it will be easier for me to find them this way.”


Ryosuke glanced around, the  hair on the back of his neck standing on end when he pulled the letter out of his mailbox.

The handwriting was unmistakable.

It was most certainly a letter from his Granny Yamada.

Postdated…the day before.

His hands shook as he flipped the envelope over, the trembling causing it to take longer than it should as he attempted to open it.

Finally managing to get past the envelope he slid the paper contained within, opening it slowly.

There were only eight words.

What are you waiting for?

Trust your heart.

At the very bottom was a tiny ink heart with two initials GY.

He wondered absently if this was one of the JUMP members messing with him? 

Who would do something like this?

No one…none of them seemed like they’d devote themselves to this level of prepwork for a practical joke.

He had no idea how he got the letter, and even on the off chance his Granny was still alive–how would she know he was waiting or not rushing ahead or anything about his life at all really?

Even so, he couldn’t shake the words haunting him the rest of the day…falling asleep with the words replaying over and over in his mind.

What am I waiting for?

____________________



Ryosuke had been hyper fixated on Yuri—not the normal way either, having grown rather complacent over time to allow the link between them to help him better understand what he was thinking and such. No, after talking to Hikaru he’d made a concerted effort to not use their connection as the only way he gained insights—instead, he’d made a practice of studying Yuri, more often than not when Yuri sincerely had no idea at all.

And today, Ryosuke decided he needed to figure this out, to discover the truth, once and for all.

“I saw the magazine interview you did,” Ryosuke spoke the words softly, glancing over at Yuri who was stretched across the couch, arms folded under his head, looking ten seconds away from taking a nap.

“Which one?” Yuri wondered, turning his head up to look at Ryosuke in the chair beside him.

Ryosuke reached down into his backpack, somewhat embarrassed he had purchased a magazine that featured their group.

If it mattered at all to Yuri he didn’t show it, blinking softly as he waited for Ryosuke to continue.

Ryosuke opened the book to the page with the quote, reading it carefully, “It’s not entirely JUMP, but I have a soft spot for Yama-chan. When Yama-chan says, ‘Do it~’ I unconsciously end up wanting to do it, you know. When he sleeps on hard places, I fold a towel into a pillow and put it under his head. And when he falls asleep in the car, there are times when he leans on me. At those times, I move my body, and to me, Yama-chan ends up adjusting himself to the most comfortable position. Yama-chan is so sweet.”

By the time he reached the end, Ryosuke’s voice was a whisper, the weight of the words strong within him, and he wanted to make sense of it, “Is this how you feel?”

Yuri was confused, rolling over onto his side so he could look at Ryosuke, “Yes?”

“You said when…when I say ”Do it“ that you unconsciously end up wanting to do it…is that…is that the thing you’re scared of?”

Yuri considered this for a moment, his mind flitting back to the interview and how naturally those words had come out of his mouth, not once thinking that he was a mindless robot made to do as he was told, that was the furthest thing from his mind actually, “No…it wasn’t like that…I meant…I want you to be proud of me. I want to make you happy, so if you want me to do it I will.”

“But I don’t wan—“

“Wait,” Yuri lifted his hand and Ryosuke bit his lip, “I trust you, that’s the difference. You’ve shown me that you have this power to force me to do things, but, it doesn’t matter anymore, because I know in my heart that you’d never use it to hurt me—you’d never abuse that power. I just…I trust you.”

Ryosuke stared at him for a moment, his mind whirling with thoughts and things he wanted to say, but nothing seemed good enough, proper enough to express what he felt, “Thank you.”

It was too small but he knew if he said more he was going to cry and that was not something he wanted to do.

“For what?” Yuri couldn’t help it, he could tell Ryosuke was distressed and it wasn’t that he wanted to add to it, but in all reality—he absolutely did not understand what he was being thanked for.

“For caring about me, trusting me, being here right now, I don’t know, just being my friend, being with me,” the words were rushed, doing his best to keep his emotions out of it.

“Is that unusual?”

“You know it is,” the words were pain filled, and Yuri’s heart yearned to comfort him, to touch him, imbue him with the truth about who he really was, frowning when Ryosuke shook his head.

“They are just jealous,” Yuri stated plainly, “They’re too jealous to care about knowing you, and then the other half are just too enamored by you that they see you as something set apart. I sort of feel sorry for them in reality.”

Ryosuke was staring at him, never having really considered the words he was saying, “But you care about me…you take care of me.”

“I do,” Yuri agreed, shifting so he could sit up, crossing his legs onto the couch.

“Why?”

Yuri wasn’t really expecting a question like that, but surely this is easy to describe, simple to explain, but suddenly his mouth was dry and his palms were sweating because honestly, he wasn’t really sure how to describe this.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and the words flashed so clearly in his mind that he might as well have been reciting them directly from the radio program all of those years ago, his voice tender when he looked at Ryosuke, “I think fate is a chance to meet someone wonderful! I think fate is what brought Chinen and I together.”

Ryosuke blinked at him, tilting his head, “I…I said that…wow, I mean it was a really long time ago.”

“Uh-huh,” Yuri confirmed, “I memorized it.”

“Why would you do that?”

“At the time, when you said it,” Yuri struggled with how to explain something that was so complex inside himself, “Well, I mean I couldn’t even respond, because I’d spent so much time trying to understand who I was and what I was here for—maybe even more so when it came to you, my connection to you and what it all meant. Who I was when it came to you felt like…like a separate question. Then you randomly said that on our radio show and I was blown away—cause you just said it so easily. It was obvious you didn’t prepare for it, or think many long hours about it—you just said it because it was what you truly believed.”

Ryosuke stared at him for a moment, shrugging, “I mean…I still believe it, even now…maybe even more now…”

“I don’t like fate, the very idea of it, but…in that moment because I had spent so much time trying to understand how I fit into the world—it made sense somehow…it fit all of the various aspects of my life up until that moment,” Yuri smiled, “You know, I wasn’t really one to get caught up in fairy tales and fantasies, but I know you were.”

Ryosuke shrugged again, it was true.

“Fate is another name for fairy tales and fantasies, isn’t it?”

“I guess,” Ryosuke wasn’t sure what he was thinking, but he wanted him to really understand what he’d said, not decide on his own, leaning to his own understanding, “But…fate just takes us to the starting line. We decide if we’re going to step across it to start the race.”

Yuri studied him, his eyes moving across his expression, considering his words, “I still don’t like the idea of fate.”

“Why not?”

“I want to be in charge of my own destiny, I don’t want some force out there making choices for me…but…”

Ryosuke shifted forward, his elbows resting on his knees, “But?”

“When you say it like that then I’m not so scared of it,” Yuri wrung his hands in his lap, “I have…I don’t remember a time…now…after all these years I don’t remember a time that you weren’t…like…there…in the back of my mind’s eye, even before I met you—you were there.”

Ryosuke swallowed roughly, clarity rushing through his mind, “That’s me, I have that same thing.”

“Really?” Yuri’s eyes were impossibly wide, “I felt…like…sometimes, it seemed like I could…that you…we…”

“I talked to you,” Ryosuke blurted out, “I know it sounds insane okay, but I swear, it was like I talked to you. I used to pretend you were an angel, or like a spirit that visited me so I wouldn’t feel like I was crazy.”

Yuri laughed softly, shaking his head, “Me too…I did the same thing, but Saya told me about what happened to her and I guess I didn’t feel so alone.”

“I knew you, that day,” Ryosuke felt a thousand words vying to be set free, to be heard, “When you came into the practice room, I knew you. I didn’t know your name, I didn’t know the first thing about you but, I KNEW YOU.”

“I knew you, too,” Yuri whispered, the air between them becoming charged with something new.

A heaviness in the air around them, a static charge between them, and something sacred neither of them had a name for came to life, something bigger than them, something more powerful than fate or destiny within the walls where they sat. Ryosuke’s fingers dug into his palms, his legs trembling, screaming for him to move, to go.

Yuri shifted to sit on his hands, his legs bouncing up and down as his mind played a scene over and over again—GO TO HIM.

There was a single beat in time, the world stood still, all of creation holding her breath in anticipation, a moment finally revealing itself that had been set in motion in a time before they could comprehend, and then, an ancient whisper brushed against them.

Go.

The world was set in motion, new colors blossomed before their eyes that they had no name for, an emotion so strong neither of them had the will to fight it, letting go, bolting forward, crashing into chaos, desperately grabbing one another, their words messy and blurry as they boldly confessed their feelings, giving freedom to express themselves, to open the doors that had been so heavily locked.

Their voices overlapped, their hands touching each other’s faces, arms, running through their hair, memorizing every aspect of them, trying to commit the way it felt to their senses, to never forget this moment, as every wall they’d built between them crumbled, inhibitions destroyed in a single breath as they showed themselves to one another, gave the other the freedom to discover who they really were.

In the flurry of motion, Ryosuke had his hands on Yuri’s cheeks, holding him as he practically vibrated in place with the amount of energy coursing through him and all he could think was that they were standing there together, facing forward at the starting line.

Yuri froze, his eyes widening, and then his heart responded, his hands raising up to press Ryosuke’s against his cheeks, his eyes so soft and tender as he lifted up on his toes, pressing his lips against Ryosuke’s in the softest whisper of kisses.

A tiny taste, it might have been enough for lesser men, but for them, after these many years of dancing around their feelings, it was still like suffocating under water, and Ryosuke pulled him against his body, his mouth seeking his own, writing words of love, of passion and longing, of now and forever after, of the time he’d waited and now the time that stretched out before him in a delightful melody of what would undoubtedly be a chaotic, messy, sometimes feral future–but oh!

Oh, how they would love!

Yuri felt the thoughts flowing through the bond, conflicted by the imagery that flooded his mind and the wicked things that Ryosuke’s mouth was doing to him—his mind whirling in a million different directions.

For the love of God brain, shut the hell up already!

Ryosuke snorted, pulling back with a smile, his lips glittering with passion but his eyes were dancing, because it was seriously absurd, just utterly and completely ridiculous, and then…they laughed, a joy filled, genuine laugh that made them both breathless as Ryosuke grabbed Yuri up into his embrace to swing him around, his heart speaking straight into his own, “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

The words echoed in the room, and neither of them were really sure if they’d said them out loud or not, but it hardly mattered, because they heard them. They heard them with their ears, with their minds, with their very souls.


**
“I want to sing this song.”

Ryosuke’s finger was touching the page on the table titled “Stars In Heaven”, his eyes focused on the manager, not the chaotic aura rolling off of Yuri next to him.

“It’s a love song,” the manager shook his head, “You’re both too young to be singing a song like this.”

Ryosuke frowned, “Love has nothing to do with age. I want to sing that song.”

“Me too,” Yuri spoke up, his voice weak but clear with conviction, clearing his throat, “I want it too.”

Their eyes connected and for a moment there was just white light and softness, and as quickly as it was there it was gone, both blinking and then jumping when the manager sighed.

He crossed his arms, eyes fixed on them, studying them, undoubtedly trying to figure out if he could regain the control in this conversation.

Yuri leaned onto the table with both hands, speaking in absolution, “We’re singing the song, you can either have a track prepared for us or we’ll sing it acapella—but we’re singing this song.”

“Fine.”
**

They were breathless as they stared into the other’s eyes, Yuri’s fingertips tracing the sharpness of Ryosuke’s cheeks as he studied his eyes, looking past what was obvious to see what was really there.

The sprouting green leaves
receive rain and changes color
Embrace the light of our
lives on the same earth

“How old is your soul?” Yuri murmured, his fingertips moving across Ryosuke’s cheek to cup his face.

“I don’t know,” Ryosuke shrugged, “…but it took you long enough didn’t it?”

Ryosuke swallowed, a shallow, distant part of himself knowing there was a time that he felt so lost, but unable to fully embrace that reality in light of the power of the bond before him, “…how many lives have I lived waiting for you to find me?”

ALL MY LOVE
Everyone’s love shines
on the earth’s future

ALL YOUR LOVE
If you’re overflowing with smiles
That’s all that I adore (love)

“I’m sorry I made you wait so long.”

Ryosuke smiled, twisting his head to press a tender kiss to Yuri’s palm, grasping his wrist to hold him close, “You were worth it.”

Everyone has someone important to them
I wonder how long you can be together
It makes me worried

“You’ll never be alone again,” Yuri whispered, shuffling forward, closing the distance between them, his hand moving to brush against the hair at the base of Ryosuke’s neck.

Our future depends on us
So let’s start the love
Radiant, day by day it arrives

Ryosuke’s smile was gentle, his arms moving to pull Yuri impossibly closer, “As it should be.”

Everyone’s dream
Continues on in the earth’s future

ALL MY LOVE
And if we miss each other
It’s only a piece of the beginning

“I didn’t believe in fate,” Yuri tilted his head, “You know?”

“Yeah,” Ryosuke laughed softly, “I know.”

ALL YOUR LOVE
Because you’re by my side
Everyone’s FUTURE EARTH

And then, in that moment, Yuri realized, he could finally take a deep breath.

…and when he did, when he finally inhaled, and his lungs expanded after all of these many years of feeling like they had been compressed and held bound, he froze.

His eyes dilated, and his head jerked up to stare at Ryosuke who could sense the change in Yuri.

Ryosuke’s hands tightened on Yuri’s arms, leaning a bit back to get a better look at him, but it didn’t reveal any more information than he had before that moment, rather, he was more confused because it felt to him as if there was an underlying current of electricity running beneath his fingertips, causing him to flex and release his grasp.

A low, deep noise began in Yuri’s throat, and then he’d pushed forward into Ryosuke’s arms, his hands grabbing his head and pushing it to the side so he could bury his face against his chest, to push his nose against the juncture of his neck, inhaling deeply of the fragrance there–a warm, soft, yet slightly spicy scent, similar to what he smelled like before but…more, a deeper, more nuanced scent, layered with deeper undertones that called to Yuri in a way it had not before.

Ryosuke’s hands jerked up to hold Yuri there against him, something dancing around the edge of his being, something toying with the fraying edges of his unwavering control–his eyes closing, trying to block out the myriad of inputs but that was a mistake–because the moment he shut off one sense, the other heightened.

The power of the way Yuri had always smelled was strong, compelling, and never had Ryosuke tried to explain it to him, not really, but what was there before? It paled in comparison to what was there now.

It felt to him as if the scent was not just something he could sense with his nose, but something he could perceive with his being, like it was imprinted upon him from ancient days of old when whatever powers that be would have made the map of time and space that would lead him to this very moment in history.

It called to him, it spoke words of a lifetime directly into his soul and all Ryosuke could think was that he needed more.

Yuri whimpered when Ryosuke’s fingertips ran through his hair, tugging on the ends as he tried to process what was happening to him, to slow down his mind so that he could keep track of his own motions, but something in the noise, something in the sound combined with the way Yuri’s scent seemed to be changing by the second made something snap–made one of the tethers that had held Ryosuke break instantly.

Yuri squealed when the world was spinning, swept up into Ryosuke’s arms as he moved to the hallway, his foot slamming into the door to throw it open as he entered their room, the scenery a blur until he was there, somehow in the middle of the bed with Ryosuke looking down on him, his eyes bright and shining in the dim lights around him, and then Ryosuke’s lips twisted into a sly smile, his eyebrow raising slowly, his voice hoarse when he spoke, the tremor in his voice betraying his confidence, “Is—Is this okay?”

Yuri wanted to say so many words, wanted to call him names and tell him what a dumb boy he was, but he was too distracted by how beautiful he was, by how good it felt to have finally his weight pressing down on him, and to have him enveloped in his arms, his fingers grasping the back of his neck, pressing down to pull him closer, eyes linked, feeling like they were connected to his very soul, nodding his head in response.

Ryosuke leaned down, his breath warm on Yuri’s face, his voice soft on his skin, “I love you.”

“I love you,” the words were spoken without hesitation, and before he could think further about anything that was happening, Ryosuke had closed the distance between them, his lips delicate and tender against Yuri’s.

This kiss was different than their first, less chaotic, the undertones steeped in emotion, something that neither of them had expected, in truth, having thought they understood what all of this was, how it worked, as the reality was unfolding within each other’s arms, they were realizing they needed to let go of their expectations and just live in this moment.

Let it happen.

Trust your heart.

When Yuri shifted, his arms wrapping around Ryosuke to draw him closer, Ryosuke gasped, his head dropping down against his shoulder, his eyes clenched shut and he reached up blindly, his hand grabbing at Yuri’s t-shirt, desperate as he tried to get closer to him.

Yuri shoved against him, tried to push him back, a few attempts before Ryosuke finally realized what he was doing, giving him room to move, blinking slowly as he watched him jerk the t-shirt over his head, and before Yuri could release the soft material he was pressed down into the mattress, Ryosuke’s nose against his neck, his heart feeling like it was beating so fast it might explode.

His hands grasped Ryosuke’s shoulders when he felt him press a soft kiss against his skin there, his head moving to offer him more freedom, something inside of him speaking words he didn’t understand but knew through the sheer power of them what they meant. Ryosuke groaned, his lips tender against his skin, and Yuri thought that he was going to crawl out of his own skin as a need so deep, so primal rose up inside of him, his hand moving to cup Ryosuke’s head, pulling him closer, lifting his shoulder up, consumed with the desire to have this need met, this empty spot filled, this place within him that had cried, had wept since as long as he could remember would finally feel at peace.

Would feel accepted, and necessary.

Would feel known and heard.

Would feel the truth and never, ever feel lost again.

“Please,” he didn’t even recognize his own voice as the word slipped out between his lips, his hands frantic on Ryosuke’s skin, pulling at his shirt, pressing against his hair, begging him.

Ryosuke felt like he was drowning, like he couldn’t think, couldn’t breath, couldn’t see beyond the hazy fog surrounding him of all things Yuri, his voice, his breath, his scent, his body, his heartbeat, his love, all surrounding him, wrapping him up into a warm embrace, a soft, tender place that he never knew could exist.

That was what Yuri was to him, a fortress that stood against the world, that gave him a place where he could be himself and never worry that the world could touch him, could reach him, could hurt him, or harm him because Yuri would stand as a bastion between him and any force that might come against him. A place where he would always be accepted, where he would never need to worry about being rejected or not enough, where he would always have a home, where his heart was free to be raw and real and whole and true to who he was, inside and out, and he would be safe.

“Always.”

He didn’t know if the word was spoken out loud or inside his head or if he’d made it up, but he didn’t care, it didn’t matter because he could feel it, he knew the truth of it, he could sense the purest form of that thought pushing through the tiniest shred of distance between their bodies, and he knew…he felt so sure…so positive, but he couldn’t…he couldn’t…

He jerked back, the most painful thing he had ever done, paling in comparison even to his transition, his eyes shining with the struggle as he stared down at Yuri, who looked up at him with such affection, with such assurance, such security.

“I—Yuri—” Ryosuke swallowed hard, trying to force his mind, his brain to work, to make the words form out of the jumbled mess that was his brain, to speak light into this moment, to make Yuri see—this is me—I am here!

THIS IS ME.

“I want you to be with me forever,” the words clawed out of his throat, “Need you with me.”

A soft bubble of delighted laughter shook Yuri’s form, his eyes twinkling as he smiled, knowing on every single level the control that Ryosuke was using to ensure that he knew, that he understood—this wasn’t the bond.

This wasn’t the trait.

This wasn’t destiny.

It wasn’t fate.

It wasn’t some supernatural force that conspired through the ages to bring them together.

In this moment, it was none of those things, it was Ryosuke.

It was him.

It was always him.

All of the worries and concerns, the fears and the trepidation, the unknown and the implications of whatever role destiny and fate might play in their relationship—all of them faded into nothingness in that moment—because all that mattered, all that had ever mattered was Ryosuke.

“Be mine?” Yuri whispered the words, his fingers delicate on the edge of Ryosuke’s hair, reveling in the way his body trembled under his touch, his entire form radiating with the control he was using, and when Ryosuke just blinked, Yuri tugged on his hair, “Ryosuke, be mine…always.”

The words echoed in Ryosuke’s mind, reverberating into his very soul.

Be mine.

Always.

It is all he could ever want, nothing mattered more than that, it was all he wanted, all he could ever want, and while he was trying to somehow work through the complexities of his emotions he heard the noise, his thoughts rushing back into the moment where Yuri had forcibly ripped the collar of his shirt open, and without another second passing, he lifted up off the mattress, his mouth connecting to the spot on Ryosuke’s neck that called to him in every language of the universe, his teeth grazing the skin softly before he bit tenderly into it, the tiny tangy taste touching his tongue making him moan in satisfaction.

The world was in motion, Yuri’s mouth still touching his neck, lightly sucking on the skin there, Ryosuke’s entire form pressed into him, and it felt like there was no gravity anymore, the connection between them seeming to come alive with static, with some energy as of yet having been unknown to them, yet held every answer to any question there was in all of time and space, as Ryosuke felt a deep seated need wash across every single fiber of his being swirling with the delight, the pleasure from this sacred, intimate connection to Yuri.

I need.

When he felt Yuri’s fingers thread through his hair, pulling against him to draw him down, every resistance he had fell away. Every wall he’d put in place over the years, all of the lies he’d told, to himself, to others, to keep Yuri away, all of the distances and the reasons and the suppositions meaningless as they were stripped away one by one, and when his lips grazed Yuri’s neck, when he felt Yuri’s form lifting up to meet him, he knew…this was what he’d been looking for all his life.

This was why nothing was ever enough, and this was why he never was satisfied with himself.

He was never going to be enough.

He wasn’t who he was meant to be without Yuri.

He never would be.

Yuri was a part of him—whether it made sense to either of them, whatever the implications of that—neither of them could possibly deny this fact.

The same as Ryosuke was a part of Yuri—because they were clearly designed for one another on a plane of existence neither could understand.

But maybe that was the whole point—maybe they didn’t need to—maybe they just…

Trust your heart.

“I love you,” he whispered, the response from Yuri immediate as he grabbed him tightly against his body, his head lifting as he gasped for air, hands frantic on his skin until he was pushing down on Ryosuke’s head, answering him since he could not form the proper words, his sigh a whisper of love in the air around them when Ryosuke’s teeth broke the skin, the sweet taste causing his eyes to clench shut in pleasure.

Feeling pure contentment for the first time in his life.

Sensing a level of fulfillment he could have never imagined.

Knowing that finally, after the years of uncertainty—he would never wonder again, he would always know…he would always be sure of one absolute truth, one fact that was never going to change.

Whatever might rise up against him, whatever might stand in his way, anything that could attempt to make him stumble, or fail—he would never be alone again.

He would never be alone because Yuri was there, and he would always be—his heart living outside of himself.

His partner, his husband, his lover, his friend, his help-meet, his confidant, his shelter, his comfort, his heart and soul.

My everything.

My Omega.

The sprouting green leaves receive rain and changes color
Embrace the light of our lives on the same earth

ALL MY LOVE
Everyone’s love shines on the earth’s future

ALL YOUR LOVE
If you’re overflowing with smiles
That’s all that I adore (love)

Everyone has someone important to them
I wonder how long you can be together
It makes me worried

ALL MY LOVE
Everyone’s love shine on the earth’s future

ALL YOUR LOVE
I’f you’re overflowing with smiled
That’s all that I adore (love)

Our future depends on us
So let’s start the love
Radiant, day by day it arrives

Everyone’s dream
Continues on in the earth’s future

ALL MY LOVE
And if we miss each other
It’s only a piece of the beginning

ALL YOUR LOVE
Because you’re by my side
Everyone’s FUTURE EARTH

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Most Voted
1

Listen: I’ll Remind You

Heh I think I’ll just continue here cause I like how they let me comment my fav quote and part!! (Something I always do so it’s perfect!!) Excited to see his email add hahahaa imagine how embarrassing it would be :3 Order: 1 Yuri-scented cupcake pleaseeee 💕💕 /squeeze you tightly
  • June 9, 2020 by Tingke

1

Listen (Yamachii Version)

Oh myyyy can’t believe I read chap2 before I read chap1 and I have to say I like 1 more than 2 because omg Yuri why’re you so difficult!!! Lucky for us Yamada’s really persistent to the point that he’s almost a stalker lol Love the AriYama interaction omggg Hearts ...
  • June 9, 2020 by Tingke

1

Listen: I’ll Remind You

I wanted to read this on AO3 but I think you prefer us to be diverted here? So here I am! Vfwksmttbentb it’s so cute how Yamada’s so careful and everything. Yuri smelling like cupcakes oh my god. Definitely enticing, I bet Yamada can’t resist lol. Also super super curious ...
  • June 8, 2020 by Tingke

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