"Absence makes the heart grow fonder." Anonymous, 1602
"The eternal quest of the human being is to shatter his loneliness." Norman Cousins
Ken woke at six thirty. Halfway out of bed, one foot on the floor, he remembered it was Sunday. For half a second, he argued with himself, one half insisting he get up and put the orderly apartment into an even stricter order. The other half, in a mental voice that reminded him of Daisuke, was berating him on wasting time awake that he could be spending in bed.
He rolled back into the covers, settled in the middle of the bed, and pulled Daisuke's pillow under his head.
At eight twenty-three, Ken lifted his head and spent a few bleary minutes looking for the clock. When the red digits finally made sense, he frowned. Going back to sleep had been a bad idea; he was groggier on waking the second time than he had been the first.
With a sigh, he got out of bed on Daisuke's side. Once on his feet, he stared down at Daisuke's slippers. They were haphazard on the ground, laying perpendicular to each other, one flipped so the sole was upwards. He toed them until they were both right side up and parallel. Another half minute of staring offered no solution to the argument in his mind, and he finally sighed again, slipping his feet into the fuzzy slippers.
He makes breakfast in his pajamas, something Daisuke normally has to spend ten minutes convincing him to do. Ken wonders what Daisuke would make of the fact that after three mornings without him, Ken is adopting all the bad habits Daisuke's tried so hard, normally in vain, to instill in him. A sly person would make coercive comments about staying away more often, but Ken imagines that Daisuke would simply grin and reward him.
Rewards for bad behavior, Ken thinks fondly. His smile is still in place, even as the smell of food burning fills the kitchen.
After washing up his breakfast dishes, Ken heads back to his bedroom to find something to wear for the day. He has the closet door open and is reaching for a blue, button-up shirt before he catches himself. He drops his hand for a moment and peruses the rest of the clothes in his closet. The organized half makes up the entirety of his work wardrobe. The other half, with the hangers shoved everywhere, belongs to Daisuke's day off wardrobe.
Ken fingers a T-shirt before noticing the hampers in the bottom of the closet. Daisuke's shirt from two days ago is on top of the linens Daisuke had promised to wash. Ken's smile is fond as he picks the shirt up. He sniffs it experimentally, but he knows Daisuke hadn't worn it long before shedding it. Just long enough, apparently, to leave his scent on the material.
Ken drops it back on the hamper, but only long enough to shed his pajamas and drop them in his own hamper. Then he pulls the shirt over his head. He leaves the closet door open as he walks to the dresser and fishes out a clean pair of pajama bottoms. Once he's dressed, he returns to the closet and pulls both hampers out. He has enough sheets to be able to change them every morning for the next week, but Daisuke's favorites are in the hamper, and Ken wants to be able to have them on hand next time Daisuke visits.
Instead of starting the wash immediately, though, he leaves the hampers by the door, just off to the side so he doesn't trip over them later. It's nearing nine thirty, and he has a phone call to make.
His mother is nothing but loving on the phone, and after half an hour of conversation and extracting a promise of a visit, soon, she lets Ken hang up. He didn't miss her not-so-subtle questions about Daisuke, and he imagines his lover could be talked into joining him for dinner at his parents' apartment.
It had been awkward to fend off her questions about their separate residences, when he'd been asking himself the same questions of late. Still, the old reasons had slipped easily past his lips. Daisuke's work kept him across the city; it was easier for him to commute from there on days he worked. Except that Daisuke stayed over more often than not, half of his clothes and accessories were in Ken's apartment, and... Well, Ken disliked more and more the mornings he woke up alone.
At least, that was the only explanation he could come up with for why he was going through the same motions he went through when Daisuke was home. The simple actions, mostly of inaction, made it a little easier to ignore the emptiness that seemed to paradoxically fill the apartment.
He was in the bathroom, looking at himself in the mirror, when he heard the apartment door shut. His heart seemed to jumpstart as Daisuke called his name from the entrance hallway. Ken called back a greeting through the open door, but made no move to welcome him home physically.
The light above the mirror was out, and Ken was fascinated by the way the ceiling light and Daisuke's shirt, orange, washed out his skin and made him look like a patient after a three day bout of flu. Not his most attractive look ever.
"Hey." Daisuke comes in and stands behind Ken, stepping up close to his back. Their glances meet in the mirror, and Ken returns Daisuke's grin with a smaller version. Daisuke said nothing about Ken's outfit, but his fingers trailed along the hem before slipping underneath and settling on the skin at Ken's side. "Enjoying your day off?"
Ken leaned back against him, attention still on the mirror. Daisuke's coloring fared much better in the poor lighting. Ken had about three seconds to feel self-conscious before Daisuke kissed his neck and wrapped his arms around Ken, apparently unconcerned with Ken's appearance.
"Missed you," Daisuke murmured against his skin.
With a tilt of his head, Ken gave Daisuke better access. "You have to work tomorrow?" He already knew the answer, and Daisuke's affirmation, muffled against Ken's neck, was not unexpected. "Spend the night?"
Daisuke's answer was more audible this time, as he rested his chin on Ken's shoulder. "Yeah." The smile he was giving Ken in the mirror was a mix of desire and happiness. The combination made Ken's chest tighten. He recognized anxiousness in his own expression, as well as in the twisting in his stomach.
His next question was harder to get out, but he was tired of missing Daisuke four out of seven days a week. "Do you want to move in?"
Ken watched Daisuke's eyes widen. "You-" Then his expression cleared back into the same smile he'd worn when Ken had asked him out. His answer was to spin Ken around, pick him up, and carry him into the bedroom.
As Ken bounced once on the mattress, he thought affectionately that this reaction wasn't very unexpected, either.