Kuwabara sat on the sandy beach, leaning back on his hands and letting the water brush against his feet as the water came in and then out. Beside him sat Yukina, who was making a tall sandcastle with shells decorating it. Kuwabara spotted a pink shell and placed it on the castle's roof in a sort of flag. Yukina laughed.
"Thanks, Kuwabara," she said happily.
"Don't mention it."
The water continued to slowly flow in and out. Despite what he usually felt, Kuwabara was discontent sitting with Yukina, which he shouldn't be. He loved Yukina. She was everything a man could want in a woman. She was pretty, nice, modest, and she often talked about how she would love to be a mother one day. Being by her side should be the place he felt the most secure, yet it wasn't. It was strange.
Sure she hadn't returned any of his affection, but Yukina's first encounter with humans had been horrible. From what he had heard, her family had been misandrous too. If she needed time to come around to the idea of loving him, he could wait.
A hand was waved in front of his face. "Kazuma? Hello?"
"...Huh? Oh, sorry Yukina!" Kuwabara grinned in embarrassment and rubbed the back of his neck. "Guess I spaced out. My mind has been wondering a lot lately."
"I've noticed." Yukina replied in an affectionate and teasing tone. "What's on your mind?"
"Nothin' much. Just... thinking about things, I guess."
Thinking about Urameshi, when he allowed his mind to travel in that direction, which tried to prevent. He preferred to think about things that actually mattered like school, friends, and his family instead of some crush that he planned on letting pass.
"You seem conflicted. Do you want to talk about?" Yukina offered. "It could help."
Yeah, like he was going to talk about his best friend having a crush on him to the girl he loved.
Kuwabara shook his head. "Nah, I'll figure things out myself." He placed his hand over his heart. "My problem is one a man has to solve for himself."
"If you say so. Just remember I'm always here for you if you need it." Sensing a large wave about to come, Kuwabara used his spirit energy to put a wall between Yukina's castle and the sea. The demon smiled. "Thank you. That was kind of you."
"Don't mention it." Kuwabara let the wall fade. Yukina was the perfect woman. He would wait around for her however long he needed to.
It was a week later when Yusuke finally managed to speak with Kuwabara again. The seven days flew by. There wasa lot to keep him busy, mostly adjusting to his new job and coping with living by himself. He had managed to find a cheap apartment in the middle of town.
Video games also helped pass the time. He had a lot of new games to catch up on.
Such a fact was what led him to entering a crowded arcade in the evening. The building was worn out and had cracks in the walls. The lights overhead kept flicking. It also reeked of cigarette smoke. Yusuke happened to like the smell and they kept up to date with their machines, so it was enough for him.
As he stepped into the arcade he was greeted with the familiar sight of flashing light and, surprisingly, of the unmistakable red pompadour of Kazuma Kuwabara. Yusuke's face lit up. His intention to play games forgotten, he ran over to the human. He was so engrossed in his simple fighting game that he didn't notice Yusuke until he had a pair of elbows resting on his shoulder. Yusuke had missed him more than he thought. It was a relief to see his dumb face again.
"So this is where you've been hiding," Yusuke teased.
Kuwabara tilted his head up to see the demon, shock clear on his face. His hand tightened on the joy stick, and the screen lit up as Kuwabara's character was hit. He quickly turned his attention back to the game.
"Urameshi! You almost made me lose!" Kuwabara complained.
Yusuke laughed. "You suck at this game. You would have lost anyway."
Kuwabara shoved Yusuke off of him, causing the ex-Spirit Detective to blink in confusion. The rude gesture lacked any affection, something abnormal for the man.
Kuwabara didn't take his eyes off his game. "How did you know? You've never seen me play this game. Besides, I'd like to see you do any better," he said with a frown on his face.
"I bet I can! Whenever you lose, I'll take over."
The only response he got was a slight nod of the head. There was an awkward moment of silence. Then, since he had to eventually speak about what happened while they were at the hot springs and now was as good of time as ever, he spoke up.
"I should probably explain what happened to me before..." Yusuke found the words surprisingly hard to say. He had to pick just the right ones. He leaned up against the wall behind him and crossed his arms. "See, now that I'm a demon, my biology is a bit different, and since I've been back here, on Earth, my feelings have been-"
"Save it, Urameshi," Kuwabara interrupted. "Kurama explained things to me." Yusuke wasn't mad because for him, it was just explaining how his body worked, like translating something from another language into his own. "I'm not interested in any of your creepy gay stuff."
The constant sounds of the arcade suddenly seemed to go silent. Yusuke felt like his heart had been stomped on. Kuwabara didn't return his affection. He could have sworn the other had some not entirely friendly feelings for him, but no. His feelings were not returned.
Oh well. It hurt like hell, but it was something he could recover from. It wasn't the end of the world, and he was sure their friendship could survive the little incident. Saving the world together made a bond that was hard to break. Besides, it also saved him from having to worry about their difference of lifespans and-
Creepy. Kuwabara had called his gay feelings creepy. Yusuke's mood shifted dramatically. He stepped away from the wall and back to his original spot behind Kuwabara.
"What about me being gay being creepy?" Yusuke asked with indignation thick in his voice.
Kuwabara's character in the game died. With a huff, he stood up. "You heard me. It's... disgusting. Wrong." He frowned as he spoke, like it was wrong to even say those words. "I don't want any part in it."
Now Yusuke was pissed off. He grabbed Kuwabara's shirt.
He was briefly reminded just how much of a gap there was between the two of them. Kuwabara might be the strongest human alive, but he was still human. Yusuke had the power to break mountains with his fingertips. He could harm Kuwabara if he wasn't careful. He made sure to only grip his clothing and not any of his flesh.
"Oh really?! I'm disgusting, am I!? Tell me what's wrong with me liking guys."
"Urameshi! Let go of me!" Kuwabara attempted to push the demon away, but he stayed exactly where he was.
"Not until you answer my question," Yusuke demanded.
Kuwabara continued pushing on him. "I don't like you that way!"
"I didn't ask you that. I asked you what's so horrible about me being gay." Anger still filled his voice.
People were starting to look at the pair, but neither of the men paid any attention. Finally, Kuwabara stopped uselessly struggling.
"Because... Because it just is, okay? Men and men aren't suppose to be together. It's wrong," Kuwabara admitted at least.
It wasn't a good enough explanation for Yusuke to be satisfied, but it would have to do since it was all it seemed Kuwabara could offer. Yusuke released him.
"It's not wrong. I don't care if you like me or not, but me having feelings for another guy isn't wrong. If it is, I want you look me in the eye and tell me that even though I've saved the world multiple times and have risked my life for others, gave my life for others, it makes me sick to love a man."
Kuwabara stared him. He opened his mouth to speak.
Yet, he couldn't say it.
He settled on an easier phrase. "Fuck off, Urameshi."
Yusuke showed him his middle finger. "And for your information, I'm pan, not gay."
With a nasty glare, Kuwabara left and retreated to an empty table in the back of the arcade. Yusuke set down at the machine and broke the joystick when he reached for it.
Damn it. He had been fine with Kuwabara not liking him. That he could understand. That he didn't take personally, but knowing that the other thought his love was disgusting, that hurt. He sighed and leaned against the brightly flashing screen.
He missed the simple days.
Urameshi's words stuck with him. As he sat at the table with his head in his hands, they wouldn't stop playing.
It's not wrong. I don't care if you like me or not, but me having feelings for another guy isn't wrong.
But it had to be, didn't it? That was why homosexuals weren't allowed to marry and were treated so badly, because they were wrong. If it wasn't though, by some strange occurrence, did he have those types of feelings?
He could remember the first time he met Urameshi. It was a memory he tried not to think about because of how embarrassing it was. He had been smitten with the punk from the first time he saw him. To his child self, Urameshi was amazing. He could fight and had a cool attitude that he adored.
He remembered talking to one of his friends and saying that he wanted to marry him. His friend had laughed and pointed out that men couldn't marry men, which they still couldn't. At the time, Kuwabara had accepted those words and decided he would be his rival then.
Did he want to spend time with Urameshi? He forced himself to think about it despite the initial taboo of the subject. He did want to keep the man next to him for his entire life. He loved the fact that they had been through so much together and that he was the only human that Urameshi had saved the world with. He wanted to always be there for him, to hear all his laughs and be there to witness how his life unfolded. Sometimes, when their bodies brushed together during a fight or he saw him for the first time after a long absence, his heart would start to race in his chest. The knowledge that Urameshi actually had a crush on him was now making it really hard for him not to smile.
But what about Yukina and Botan? He had found them attractive too. Though, now that he thought about it, the fact that Botan didn't like him back and Yukina didn't seem able to understand romantic love never seemed to change his intention. If anything, it made him more confident he loved them. They were a way of reassuring himself he loved women without ever actually following through with a relationship.
He was in love with Urameshi. He was actually in love with the demon who he had just insulted for being gay. He felt like a fool.
Now that he admitted the idea to himself, he couldn't stop imagining loving Urameshi. He could go to bed with the fighter in his arms, kiss those sinfully pretty lips, hold his hand as they walked, and claim that beautifully scarred skin as his own.
Blushing heavily, Kuwabara left his table and approached Urameshi, who had moved to a working machine after having broke the previous one. He tapped the demon on his shoulder. Urameshi looked at him out of the corner of his eyes before returning his gaze to his game.
"What is it? If you're here to spout more homophobic nonsense, I don't want to hear it."
"It's not that," Kuwabara responded. "It's the opposite, actually." Now Urameshi turned around, his curiosity visible on his face. "I want to say I'm sorry, and I think I might... you know, like you." The words were hard to say, and Kuwabara could feel his face getting even redder.
"Oh really? What brought this on?" Urameshi put his hand on his hip. "You saying you like me is a big change from what I heard a few moments ago."
"I do," Kuwabara insisted. He didn't dare look away from Urameshi as he spoke. "But... I think, growing up, I heard the world shout that loving another man was wrong, and instead of fighting back, I accepted it and acted like I wasn't gay. I wanted to have someone I could marry."
"Kuwabara..." Urameshi's words were filled with sympathy.
The taller man continued. "If it possible though, for me to love you," hold him in his arms, kiss him, "I would like to."
Suddenly Urameshi's arms were around his neck and his lips were against his own. Kuwabara couldn't help but kiss back. It was absolute bliss. Warmth spread through his body, and when Urameshi pulled away, he found it to be all too soon.
"Of course it's possible, you idiot," Urameshi said.
Kuwabara joined their lips in a kiss once more.