Chaotic Butterfly, Every Day is a Start

Title: Every Day is a Start [Kouji/Sakurai]
Rating/Warnings: R
Summary: It took Sakurai years to figure out how to let Kouji go, so it’s no wonder he has no idea how to have him back home.
AN: I’ve had this half-finished for at least two years, but finally I wanted to get to the end of it. It’s not canon or anything, so no worries that I’ve broken half your OTPs or whatever. Honestly idk that anybody will even read this anymore, but I apparently had a lot to say about all the unfinished business between Kouji and Sakurai, and how Kouji is really the only one who ever sees Sakurai’s neuroses for what they are.

Every Day is a Start

In the end, the words won’t matter
cause in the end nothing stays the same
in the end dreams just scatter, and fall
like rain

All we are, we are, all we are, we are
and every day is a start of something beautiful
something real

–Matt Nathanson, “All We Are”

Skype is hard.

The mails were so much easier, in fact they were the very easiest thing back when Sakurai was ignoring all of them. Even though Kouji was away so much longer the first time, even though Sakurai had no idea if he was ever coming back, it was a hundred thousand million times easier than Skype.

On Skype Sakurai can see Kouji’s eyes, the light and the humor in them, the way that Kouji can’t tell a story without using his hands, the impatient way Kouji pushes his hair out of his eyes because he’s overdue for a haircut and the way it falls right back into them. On Skype Sakurai can hear Kouji breathing and the way he says Sakurai’s name. On Skype it’s almost like Kouji is right next to him talking about nothing at two in the morning, almost, so close.

Come home, he wants to beg, every time Kouji laughs or smiles or blinks. Sakurai never says it out loud and he tries his best to keep it off his face because it isn’t like Kouji doesn’t have enough things to worry about besides Sakurai’s neuroses, but Sakurai knows exactly how many days are left until there are no more stupid oceans between them.

“You should go to bed,” Kouji says. “You have rings under your eyes bigger than Rin’s.”

“In a bit,” Sakurai promises, not ready to give up even this tenuous connection yet. He really doesn’t understand how the past three years were so much more tolerable than this last four months. He fills up the time asking questions about New York, Fujishima, the ridiculous roommates, and still it seems like there’s so much time to wade through.

Tsukioka takes one look at him in the morning (the third time Sakurai wakes him up) and tells Sakurai that he’s being a complete girl. Adachi says Sakurai is about as subtle as kink meme fanfiction. Shota says the Koreans took six seconds to figure out Skypesex so he doesn’t understand why Sakurai hasn’t worked it out in three years.

“You are never touching my laptop ever again,” Fujiyama tells Shota, screwing up his face in disgust. “Don’t touch me either! Ew!”

“Also you’re being a complete girl,” Shota adds.

“Your mom is a complete girl,” Sakurai snaps. Shota says he certainly hopes so and tells Sakurai that he might need just an eensy weensy bit more sleep because he’s not at all up to his usual standards.

The week Sakurai is away filming on location for his drama is actually better, maybe just because he doesn’t have as much, or any, time to himself to think. Also they’re in the middle of fucking nowhere because it’s a period drama and so Skype with anybody isn’t an option. Sakurai can only get mails if he trudges to the top of a hill on his break and waves his phone around, and it takes his entire break to do it so 99% percent of the mails he gets are not at all worth it.

[I think Leader is cheating on us with Koreans again] Adachi’s says.

[I think Jaja is cheating on us with your idiots again] Minhyun’s says.

[You should do period dramas every season. Why do you look so good in yukata and I look like an idiot?] Kouji’s says. There’s an emoji of a fish after it that Sakurai doesn’t know if is secret best friend code for something or if Kouji just won’t ever learn to use his American phone properly.

“Why do you spend your whole break doing that?” Sakurai’s co-star asks when he trudges back just in time to drink some water before they start the scene over. She’s nice enough and funny during press conferences and doesn’t seem to need any scandals for popularity, so Sakurai is entirely satisfied with her. “I’ve seen your band on TV, nothing they mail you can be worth the trip up that hill.”

“It really isn’t,” Sakurai agrees, flapping the bottom of his yukata to try and get some air circulating down there. But it’s a good thing he’s supposed to be cheerful in the next scene, because for some reason his smile won’t come off for the rest of the afternoon.

When he finally does get home in the dead of night, Tsukioka pounces him like a leech and won’t let go until Sakurai is curled up in bed with him, practically crushing Tsukioka into the mattress. Sakurai would tease him about how he’s only been gone a week, but he’s too exhausted to do anything but stroke Tsukioka’s hair a little.

“I miss the way you smell the most,” Tsukioka says, voice muffled because his nose is buried in the curve of Sakurai’s neck. “The whole bed smells like you and it’s torture.”

“You spent the whole time I was gone in Hikaru and Reiki’s bed, don’t even lie,” Sakurai replies. Tsukioka grumbles something but Sakurai doesn’t bother to decode it. He’s pretty sure Tsukioka actually can’t sleep unless he’s touching somebody else at least a little. At Ichiband Weekly practice, he naps with his head in somebody’s lap so frequently that there’s practically a section of shop photos for it.

“Shut up and say you missed me too,” Tsukioka demands. Sakurai kisses him instead because any kind of attention is fine for Tsukioka, and if Tsukioka’s need for physical reassurance costs Sakurai an hour’s sleep, the difference between two and three hours isn’t that big a deal anyway. Fortunately the rest of his band settle for hugs in the morning, for now, or they’d never get anywhere they were supposed to be.

Hugging doesn’t stop Sakurai from being tensed up like a coiled spring.

“Isn’t four dudes enough for you?” Kouji teases over Skype, able to read Sakurai easily despite the distance. “One of them’s even a porn star, for crying out loud.”

“He’s cheating on you,” Ben comments on the way by, and Kouji tells him to go fuck Fujishima or something. Once Ben is out the door, Kouji drops the teasing.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he says. “I hate wishing I could be in two places at once all the time.”

“I know,” Sakurai says, and then he changes the subject before he really does suggest Skypesex because he’s not entirely sure Kouji will tell him no. Maybe it would help, but the idea of having Tsukioka walk in on that is unappealing. Tsukioka would keep that secret for all of half a second before blabbing it to the rest of 5*STAR, or worse telling Shota, and then Sakurai would never live it down.

“What am I supposed to do with you two?” Tsukioka asks when he comes in and finds them still at it, Sakurai up way too late and Kouji running late for macro economics. He leans over Sakurai’s shoulder to give Kouji an unimpressed look. “You two are supposed to be taking care of me, not the other way around. You’re the worst senpai ever.”

“Hey!” Kouji protests. “I’m a great senpai! I’m way better than that guy!”

“Uh-huh. Go to class, stupid. We love you, so hurry it up and come home.” Tsukioka reaches over to push Sakurai’s laptop closed, cutting off the connection. Then he comes around to drop himself in Sakurai’s lap, wrapping arms around Sakurai’s neck for balance. “And what am I supposed to do about you?”

“You’re already doing it,” Sakurai assures him, sliding arms around Tsukioka’s waist and squeezing him tightly. Tsukioka tells him that’s sweet, but to shut up and get in bed already.

At practice in the morning, while Tsukioka naps blissfully in people’s laps, Sakurai is beset upon by well-meaning senpai.

“Tsuki-chan says you’re all a mess,” Aoki says without any preamble, popping up behind Sakurai’s shoulder and making him choke on his water. “Good lord, look at you. If I yell at you like you deserve, I’m afraid you’ll drop dead right here.”

“I might drop dead,” Sakurai wheezes, “because people keep scaring me into choking!”

“Oh, there there, you baby.” Aoki whacks Sakurai’s back a couple times until he stops coughing. Sakurai gives him a baleful look. “Relax, I’m not actually going to yell at you. I just thought you might be interested to know that Kuro-chan and I are planning a super secret romantic getaway in a few weeks.”

“Why would I be interested in that?” Sakurai asks, scrunching his nose. Sometimes Aoki’s information was a lot like getting too much information about your parents’ love life.

“Because we’re going to New York City.” Aoki grins. “Also we might be shooting a photobook or something. Or a PV? Something’s getting shot, I’m pretty sure my manager said—”

“Are you going to see him?” Sakurai interrupts. “You are, right?”

“We miiiiight drop by a certain concert, just out of macabre curiosity,” Aoki answers. “Just to make sure certain kouhai aren’t tarnishing our company name abroad.”

“Tell him to come home,” Sakurai blurts. “Tell him we need him and he should come back to work and stop worrying about everything all the time and we’ve got plenty of stuff to keep him busy here so he should just…” Sakurai trails off, Aoki watching him evenly, and then he puts his head in his hands. “Please don’t tell him any of that, actually. Be a lot more subtle than that.”

“Did you just tell me to be subtle?” Aoki asks. “Sakkun, you are all a mess.”

“I don’t know why this is so hard,” Sakurai says, voice small. Aoki takes pity on him and hugs him so that somehow Sakurai’s cheek is pillowed on his shoulder, even though Sakurai is nearly a head taller. Sakurai closes his eyes and pretends for just a few seconds that he’s a tiny junior again, and that Aoki-senpai can make all his problems better by hugging. “Fix it, senpai.”

“You fix it, the two of you broke it,” Aoki tells him, but he’s rubbing Sakurai’s back at the same time so it’s not very threatening. “Have some faith, idiot. After all this, do you really think he won’t come back to you? Absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know.”

“I guess that explains why I can’t ever find my co-MC during practices,” Kurosagi says from behind them, voice frosty. Sakurai tries to wriggle out of Aoki’s grip, but it only tightens. “Why is it that you own a hundred watches and can only show up somewhere on time if I have you on a leash?”

“Shh, I’m doing important senpai stuff,” Aoki says. “And don’t talk about your fetishes in front of the kouhai.”

“Oh my god, please let me go so I can kill myself,” Sakurai whines.

Several weeks later, when it’s Kurosagi who passes on Kouji’s hug instead of Aoki, Sakurai isn’t that surprised. Kurosagi has always been listed as Kouji’s admired senpai on his profile, after all. He doesn’t ask what either of them said to Kouji exactly, but it must have been something, because after that Kouji’s Skype conversations start to involve what’s going to happen after he comes home. It’s still hard, but Sakurai feels like he can breathe again, like they’re past the halfway point and the countdown on his phone is more excitement than frustration.

“Will you stop checking that thing and help us plan?” Rin demands in exasperation during a meeting. “These are your concerts too, you know.”

“I’m listening,” Sakurai says, and it’s kind of a lie, but nothing that important could have possibly happened since Adachi and Tsukioka are still arguing about tour hotel rooming arrangements.

“If you two don’t shut up, I am going to put you on a bus to Niigata right now!” Goto snaps.

“Tour janken is how it works,” Tsukioka insists, for once not budging. Sakurai starts to chuckle at how serious Tsukioka always is about tour hotel rules, but turns it into a cough when Tsukioka swings a glare his way. “Otherwise I’m stuck with that guy all the time.”

“Stuck with?” Sakurai asks with exaggerated indignance. “I was gone two days for filming and your mails were like—” The ding of Sakurai’s phone interrupts him.

“I’m pretty sure you won’t have to worry about being this guy’s roommate,” Adachi comments. “Just based on how many mails he’s been getting from Takayama-kun in the last fifteen minutes alone.”

“I am going to make you eat that phone,” Rin hisses, and Sakurai puts his phone face down on the table for the rest of the meeting because Rin does not look like he’s kidding.

Somehow the time Sakurai has to wait finally dwindles down to nothing, and even though the idea of going the whole way out to the airport just to see Kouji the very first second that it’s possible is patently ridiculous, it doesn’t stop Sakurai from calling Shota a lot of names when it turns out Shota is on pick-up duty.

“Don’t be so mean to that idiot,” Fujiyama says, pointing his chopsticks at Sakurai as they hide in a corner of Ichiband Weekly practice to sneak in a no-kouhai-allowed lunch. “Even if you weren’t clearly busy planning a whole tour,” Fujiyama’s voice sings with jealousy for a second, “you’re a famous idol and you can’t run through an airport calling your true love’s name. This isn’t actually a Korean drama, you know.”

“I’ll bring Myungja with me,” Sakurai says stubbornly. “People will think we’re filming something. I’m a popular drama star, you know.”

“You’re a bunch of drama all right,” Fujiyama snorts. “Shut up for half a second and you might learn something good. Know why Shota is picking Yamakou up?”

“To torment my soul?”

“That’s it, you are not invited to the slumber party,” Shota informs Sakurai. “I was gonna let you two borrow my bed and everything, but nope, now you’ve gone and blown it.”

“For the record,” Fujiyama puts in, “my bed is very very off-limits.” He eyes Shota. “That includes you.”

“Nobody believes you when you deny our love, you know,” Shota tells him.

“He’s staying with you two?” Sakurai asks, frowning. “He didn’t tell me that.”

“It’s supposed to be a surprise, but you’re too pathetic to live,” Fujiyama says. “He’s getting in late and has to be in Tokyo the next morning for meetings anyway, so lucky for you, nobody’s mother on the other side of the wall for his first night back home.” Fujiyama side-eyes Shota. “Not that this guy is any better, in terms of gossip.”

“FOUND YOU!” Ken and Ichirou whoop suddenly, making Sakurai’s heart leap into his throat. They tumble into the midst of their knot on the floor, plopping themselves on either side of Fujiyama. “You hid pretty good this time, Fujipi,” Ken compliments.

“We aren’t playing a game!” Fujiyama snaps, trying to shield his bentou from invading fingers. “I’m actually trying to get away from you! Isn’t three hours of practice and a face-squishing photoshoot enough for you brats?”

“Nope,” Ichirou and Ken inform him in concert, making Fujiyama throw up his hands in disgust.

“You love it,” Sakurai and Shota both say. Shota turns to Sakurai, ignoring the kouhai’s continued manhandling of Fujiyama. “So come over to our place after work, and maybe take a nap while you’re there, yeah? Because you look like you haven’t slept since your last unit.”

Sakurai bites down on his retort about the length of time Shota tends to keep units, and just says thank you.

Later Fujiyama rides the the train home with him, and Sakurai jokes half-heartedly about how it feels like old times, coming out of practices with shower-wet hair that would freeze from the wind, betting on which senpai they’d see advertised in the train station. The only difference is that a tiny Tsukioka isn’t bouncing after them, hyped up from practice rather than exhausted like the rest of them. The slightly less-tiny Tsukioka they have currently already left with Shota earlier for pick up duty, offering Sakurai a last hug.

“Well, we’re also missing…” Sakurai starts and then trails off, because Fujiyama remembers just as well as him the usual group of them that used to take the same train line home all those times.

“Almost there,” Fujiyama promises. He doesn’t mean the train ride. He stops tapping mails on his phone long enough to squeeze Sakurai’s forearm. “You’re in the home stretch.”

Sakurai nods and watches the darkening sky out the window, until enough of the sun fades that he can only see their reflection. He’s never been the biggest fan of winter, but this one feels like it’s been the longest of his entire life.

Once Fujiyama lets him into the apartment he shares with Shota, Sakurai barely has his shoes off before Fujiyama is steering him towards Shota’s room as promised.

“Hey, whoa, you trying to have your way with me too?” Sakurai tries to joke, but Fujiyama’s having none of it, face stern. He pulls a pair of pajama pants out of the dresser and pushes them into Sakurai’s hands, then crosses his arms and waits expectantly. “What? Waiting for me to strip for you?”

“Put those on” Fujiyama insists. “Then lie down and sleep. Try just a little not to look like you need so much taking care of, would you please? Yamakou has enough to worry about. And you’ve got four other guys trying to take care of you, so you don’t even have an excuse.”

Sakurai bites down on the sharp retort he has for that, knowing Fujiyama is right and he only has himself to be irritated with. He changes without any more argument, stripping off his jeans before tugging on the pajama pants.

“Thanks,” he says, then realizes the pants he’s wearing are covered in kissy face hearts. “…I think.”

Fujiyama’s expression softens and he squeezes Kouji’s shoulder. “Shota and I are taking Tsukioka out and playing nice senpai for a while so you two have a chance to talk.”

“Sorry for the trouble,” Sakurai says, vaguely embarrassed that Fujiyama and Shota are going to so much trouble for him. Fujiyama shrugs it off and says not to worry.

Sakurai tries to sleep after Fujiyama closes he door, he does, but he mostly stares at Shota’s collection of tacked up posters. His lack of glasses make their questionable nature pleasantly fuzzy, difficult to tell which ones are foreign models and which ones are senpai. Sakurai swears some of them used to be on Shota’s walls in his old bedroom when he still lived with his parents, maybe even in the same configuration give or take the couple newer tour and butai posters mixed in. Shota never changes, which is one of the things Sakurai loves about him best.

He’s not so good with change, Sakurai reflects with a soft sigh. He wishes his heart would grow up enough to be satisfied with the good things that he has in his life now instead of still wishing some things could be just like before. Even Tsukioka has grown up that much, so Sakurai tries to keep his dumbest feelings mostly on the inside and hopes that some day he will just learn to cope already.

In the quiet of Shota’s room, Sakurai can admit to himself that having his best friend half a world away was hard, but he has no idea where to start fitting Kouji back into his life once he’s home again permanently. It’s hard to even think about clearly, the few months where Kouji had been coming to Tokyo regularly and working again before he’d gone back to school seeming like weird vacation from reality, the fun of having him be a super secret Ichiban Weekly guest smoothing over the actual issues underneath.

He doesn’t feel like he dozed off, but Sakurai comes awake at the first touch to his shoulder, Kouji’s face hovering above him, smile soft-edged from exhaustion and the yellow light of the bedside lamp.

“I’m home,” Kouji says, and Sakurai is sitting up before he’s done saying the syllables, throwing his arms around Kouji’s waist and burying his face in Kouji’s stomach. Kouji’s arms settle on Sakurai’s shoulders, the weight reassuring.

“Welcome back,” Sakurai answers, voice muffled by Kouji’s shirt. It smells like the plane and smoke; Sakurai breathes in more deeply until he can smell Kouji underneath. It’s that familiar scent that finally lets his anxiety ebb away and warm relief takes its place in the center of Sakurai’s chest. Sakurai knows he should let go, let Kouji go take a shower or at least change out of his travel clothes, but his arms won’t obey him.

“Move over,” Kouji says after a minute. He crawls into bed and even though Shota has a perfectly respectable double, they still curl up as closely together as they ever did in Sakurai’s single. Their faces are just far enough apart that they can look each other over without going cross-eyed. Kouji reaches over to rub his thumb against the slight furrow in the center of Sakurai’s forehead, then smoothes it over Sakurai’s eyebrow. “Quit making that face, I’m back.”

“It’s just my face,” Sakurai argues. It’s probably stuck that way.

“Hm.” Kouji looks him over critically, as if trying to decide whether Sakurai is passing the trainee audition or not. “Maybe you should try piercing this,” he taps Sakurai’s eyebrow with his thumb, “just to draw the attention away.”

“Asshole.” Sakurai smiles, faint but real. “You’re just jealous Ryuu’s pierced me more times than you now.”

“I really am,” Kouji says. The kiss isn’t so surprising, Kouji not so close that Sakurai didn’t see it coming, but the first brush of his mouth against Sakurai’s makes a shiver work over his skin. There was a point, Sakurai remembers vaguely, where Kouji’s kisses were common enough that they stopped evoking that mix of pleased surprise, but it feels like starting over now.

Sakurai leans in right away, hitching himself close enough that he can hook one leg in between Kouji’s knees and drag him even closer. Kouji’s arms are still around his shoulders, but it only makes his chest ache worse, as if he’s forgotten how not to miss Kouji. He wraps his own arms more tightly around Kouji’s waist and squeezes harder, trying to make it stop.

“You’re freaking out,” Kouji murmurs against Sakurai’s mouth. He pulls his mouth away to kiss Sakurai’s cheekbone, lips dragging in a slow, unrushed line over Sakurai’s cheek. “It’s kind of messed up, but I missed that about you.”

“You missed me freaking out?” Sakurai closes his eyes and tries to draw a deep breath, but every touch of Kouji’s mouth makes the air flutter in his lungs.

“That you freak out over me,” Kouji clarifies. One of his hands comes up into the back of Sakurai’s hair, and he tugs first gently, them more sharply until Sakurai opens his eyes. “It’s not as cute about other stuff. I missed you, too.”

“Please stop talking,” Sakurai says, because even just the sound of Kouji’s voice is starting to heal the knot in the center of Sakurai’s chest that never goes away, but it’s like salt on a newly-opened wound. It’s supposed to do that, but it hurts.

Fortunately, Kouji seems okay with more kissing rather than more words. Sakurai knows his grip is too tight, the way he yanks off Kouji’s T-shirt too rough, but Kouji doesn’t protest. He pushes aside Sakurai’s clothing just as impatiently, grunting in pleasure when he can curl up against Sakurai’s sleep-warm skin directly.

“Fuck,” Sakurai hisses. Kouji’s fingers are freezing against his back and his toes like ice against Sakurai’s calves. “Put your socks back on!”

“No way,” Kouji laughs, rubbing his fingers against Sakurai’s skin until they start to warm. “That’s not sexy at all, wearing socks in bed. I’m trying to cultivate an image here.”

“Cultivate it for somebody who hasn’t seen you suck at every part of puberty!”

Kouji just chuckles softly instead of answering, because they both know exactly which one of them sucked way harder at each and every one of his growth spurts. He’s still laughing a little as he kisses Sakurai again. By now his hands are warm enough that when he slides fingers down Sakurai’s spine, Sakurai’s shiver isn’t from cold.

Sakurai had forgotten, or talked himself into forgetting, the thorough way that Kouji kisses, as if making out is an end in itself instead of a step on the way to something else. No one else Sakurai has ever kissed has the same patience for it, and when he was a lot younger he didn’t either, Kouji’s gentle touches making him squirm with impatience. This time, though, Sakurai doesn’t mind going at Kouji’s pace. After all the waiting, Kouji can take all the time he wants and Sakurai would be grateful for every second of it.

Besides, it’s nice to have someone else be in charge for once.

Heat builds between them until the blankets are almost too much, Kouji’s fingers leaving heated trails over Sakurai’s back, arms, and hips. When Kouji curls his hands around Sakurai’s ass and pushes their hips flush together, Sakurai makes a needy noise low in his throat, his own fingers digging tightly into Kouji’s shoulders. Kouji’s erection is hard against Sakurai’s hip, and he shifts so that it rubs along his own.

“Oh,” Kouji moans, the quiet noises going right to Sakurai’s cock just as much as the slow grind of their hips. Kouji’s hand slides to Sakurai’s hip and hovers there, thumbing the sharp ridge of Sakurai’s pelvis. “Like this? Is this enough?”

“Yeah,” Sakurai agrees, would agree to anything Kouji asks of him. Kouji’s hand works in between them to curl around both their cocks, jerking them off together. Sakurai should help, but he can’t concentrate on anything besides the heat of Kouji’s hand on him as he pushes his hips up into it. It feels so good, and Sakurai is too close already, too strung out on nerves and relief to hold back.

Or maybe it’s just because it’s Kouji, and it feels exactly like when they did this the first few times and neither one of them could last five minutes.

“Come on,” Kouji encourages like he knows, and he probably does. Sakurai closes his eyes and gives into it, pleasure rolling over him in slow waves as Kouji brings him off. It’s all Sakurai can do to cling to Kouji desperately, digging his fingers into Kouji’s shoulders.

Pressing his forehead down against Kouji’s shoulder, Sakurai takes several deep breaths, trying to regain his equilibrium. Kouji nudges him with his shoulder, bumping his nose.

“Hey, help out, can’t you?” Kouji asks, voice low but affectionate, as if he doesn’t really expect any better. Sakurai narrows his eyes and bites down a little on Kouji’s shoulder, but it only gets him a low “Mmmm” in response.

“Weirdo.” Sakurai doesn’t think he’ll be able to get his body to cooperate, but when he gets a hand in between them, Kouji’s cock falls into it like it belongs there. Sakurai’s fingers close around it, remembering the grip and speed that Kouji prefers all on their own. When Sakurai does it exactly right, Kouji grabs Sakurai’s hips and whines in the back of his throat.

He’s too close to really see it properly, but Sakurai can feel Kouji fall apart and that’s almost as good, the way Kouji’s breath hitches and his fingers dig harder into Sakurai’s hip. He leans into Sakurai just a little harder when he falls still, skin shivering against Sakurai’s and panting cutely. Sakurai gathers Kouji in closer, his own heartbeat just now starting to slow, and wishes he knew what comes next.

Kouji moves first, shuffling around under the sheet, and it’s not until he wipes the sheet over Sakurai’s hip that Sakurai gets it that he’s cleaning off his hand and everything else he touched.

“Ew,” Sakurai says without any heat. They’re even though, because he definitely smeared Kouji’s stuff all up Kouji’s back a minute ago.

“Shut it, you,” Kouji says mildly. He sits up and hugs his blanket covered knees, looking down at Sakurai. Sakurai stays where he is, flat on his back, looking up at Kouji. “Do you want to talk about this?”

Sakurai shakes his head. He wants to just lie here and never leave this room; he wants to figure out how to go back to the beginning and move forward at the same time; he wants his heart to stop breaking. He wishes he knew what he did want because Kouji would give it to him. Kouji would give him in the moon if he asked, Sakurai is sure. He wouldn’t mind giving Kouji the moon himself.

“Okay.” Kouji drops a hand to Sakurai’s hair, the touch so light Sakurai can barely feel it. “Sorry.”

“Why?” Sakurai asks, blinking up at him. “What are you sorry for when you’re doing all the right things?”

Kouji shrugs. “Because all the right things don’t seem like enough.”

Sakurai reaches up to wrap his fingers around Kouji’s wrist, squeezing lightly. “You came back. That’s enough. It’s more than enough.”

Kouji shakes his head, rolling his eyes a little, but he doesn’t argue. “Ah, I’m too tired to worry about it tonight anyway. Lie to me and say we’ll figure it out in the morning.”

“We’ll figure it out in the morning,” Sakurai says as Kouji flops down on his side. He might not even be lying, for all he knows. Kouji always had a way of making things work out by just saying that they will; he and Tsukioka are a lot alike like that.

Kouji pushes at Sakurai until Sakurai rolls onto his side, and then curls up along Sakurai’s back, one arm thrown carelessly over Sakurai’s waist. Sakurai wonders how many hotel beds and couches they’ve slept on like this, how many van rides they spent curled up back to back when they were still small enough to do it.

He isn’t sure he’ll be able to get back to sleep, but Sakurai closes his eyes and enjoys the rise and fall of Kouji’s breath against his back, and when he opens his eyes again, the gray winter light is creeping through Shota’s window. Kouji’s arm is gone, and when Sakurai rolls over, he isn’t surprised at all to find Tsukioka dead asleep in between them. He’s sprawled on his back, hair sticking out in all directions, and wearing a neon green T-shirt that Sakurai has seen Shota wear to practice at least two hundred times and probably comes nearly down to Tsukioka’s knees.

“Morning,” Kouji says from Tsukioka’s other side. He’s got Tsukioka’s phone, the clover and star charms hanging over the back of his hand, the blueish light from the screen making the dark circles under his eyes even more ridiculous. He grins sheepishly at Sakurai’s unimpressed look. “Jet lag. I can’t sleep anymore.”

“Both of you idiots…” Sakurai sighs, getting comfortable against the pillow again and letting his eyes slip shut. “I don’t think I have the energy to deal with both of you at the same time anymore.”

“Old man,” Kouji teases. Sakurai feels Kouji’s hand on top of his head, scrunching his hair for a second. “You’d better gear up over there, because this brat can’t even last a whole night in a bed by himself.”

Sakurai snorts, tugging up the blankets so it hides his smile. He feels almost peaceful, listening to Tsukioka’s snuffly breathing and the faint clicking of Kouji sending mails on Tsukioka’s phone. Yesterday’s panic seems mostly gone, and Sakurai tries to enjoy it while he can, before the day undoubtedly presents something new to panic about.

“Out of curiosity,” Kouji says, and Sakurai hums vaguely in response, “exactly how many new piercings would I have to give you to be winning again?”

1 person likes this post.

WordPress Themes