Chinese Water Torture

It always impressed Daisuke how Ken managed to choose the worst fruit from the pile. Always rotting and nasty. Daisuke made a face and fished the fruit out of the cart and pitched it behind his back, wrinkling his nose in disgust. He certainly wasn't a picky eater, but some things even HE couldn't tolerate.

"Ooh! We need more instant ramen!" Daisuke called to Ken who was a few yards ahead, engrossed in reading a label for a bag of chips. Ken ignored him. Daisuke sighed and jogged over to his boyfriend while hauling the cart, already chock full of stuff. Ken looked up finally and sighed.

"Dai, do we really need..." he squinted at the box, "...a box of Do-It-Yourself Instant Edible Tickle-Me-Elmo Veggie Burgers?" The tone in his voice escalated from confusion to pure horror. Daisuke snatched the box away from him.

"Of COURSE we do. This stuff is quality. Not like your organic healthy crap." He snapped, already getting huffy. They always fought when food shopping; it was inevitable. He stalked off to find more "quality" stuff, leaving Ken to go back to reading the label.

Two hours and, as Ken so kindly put it, 'more yen than Dai could count' later the boys arrived back at the apartment they shared. It was a kitschy little place that Ken had chosen and decorated very carefully. Daisuke was, as he liked to say, the one who made it look inhabited. Clothes were everywhere on their bedroom floor, empty food containers lay attracting bugs until Ken cleaned it up. Dai flopped on the comfy couch, letting Ken put away all the food.

Daisuke was flipping through channels listlessly, trying to block out the sound of Ken obsessively rewashing the dishes that had already gone through their dishwasher. He sighed, recalling the relationship advice that Taichi had given him not so long ago. Something about loving the other person even when you didn't feel like it.

"Hmph." Easy for Taichi to say. His relationship with Yamato was just oozing perfection. Even though the older boys weren't lovey-dovey, just one look and you could tell they were totally in paradise.

"Oh, by the way Dai, we're going out to dinner tonight with your parents." Ken called from the kitchen. Daisuke tensed. Oh, that was going to be a blast. Yeah. Right. Like Chinese water torture.

His dress pants were too short on him now and the sweater Ken had picked out for him was itchy. Daisuke sat miserably at their table in the fancy french restaurant, L'Orange, staring at his plate as if staring hard enough would make ramen or a hamburger appear. As it were, they were eating in one of those restaurants that think it's clever or something to put like, three blades of grass in a weird design on a plate with some weird design of dressing on it and call it a salad. Ken was discussing the latest art exhibit with Mr. And Mrs. Motimiya while Jun and Dai both stared dejectedly at their 'dinner' plates. Love of food and Yamato's good looks were the only things Jun and Dai had in common, which proved to not be enough to make a conversation out of.

Daisuke's parents were accepting of Dai having a boyfriend at first. Now, they loved Ken more than they loved Dai. They always wanted to take the young men to art shows and out to dinner because Ken was so... grown up. Although they were twenty five years old, Dai still acted like a high school freshman and Ken was like a forty five year old.

While Dai was busy counting on his fingers the number of weeks it had been since he and Ken had had sex, the check came. Then everyone was standing up and hugging and kissing goodbye. Dai sighed, starting the car, feeling the hate waves radiating from Ken in the passenger seat. He had his arms across his chest and he was sending daggers with his eyes at everything. Awesome, Dai thought sarcastically.

"Why didn't you offer to pay!?" Finally.

"Why didn't you?!"

"I did! But you were supposed to chime in!"

"No I wasn't! That's stupid!"

"You're stupid!"

"Yeah, so you should be smart for me!"

"...This is so pointless." Ken scoffed as Dai parked the car and they got out, each slamming their door angrily. They stormed up the stairs to their apartment, glaring and snarling at each other. When they got in, Ken went straight to the bedroom. Dai rolled his eyes and fell onto the couch. It had been established years ago that when fighting, Ken got the bed. Dai got the couch.

I am SO the man in this relationship! Daisuke thought to himself, finding an ugly throw blanket that Ken had spent thousands of yen on and trying to snuggle under it. He was still in his dress pants but had thrown off the stupid itchy sweater.

Despite his inner turmoil, he managed to fall asleep quickly. Before he knew it, he was dreaming of ramen happily. A smile spread across his face slowly like jam on toast.

"Dai?" His dream was being interrupted. He grumbled, swatting at whoever was poking him.

"Mmm. Stobbit." He mumbled, rolling over. Ken smiled wryly at Dai's tanned back and messy brown hair. He placed his hand in between his shoulder blades, feeling the warmth radiate from him. Daisuke shifted again and rolled over, blearily opening his eyes. "What's going on?" He asked sleepily, rubbing his eyes like a little kid. Ken shook his head. Daisuke propped himself up on his elbows. "Can't sleep?"

Ken always had trouble sleeping. It was so annoying sometimes to wake up to him pacing furiously in front of the window. Or else he'd be vacuuming or doing dishes or something. Ken nodded. "So rearrange the spice cabinet or something...Don't look at me like that! It was a valid suggestion!"

"I'm worried about us, Dai." Ken said quietly, fidgeting with a button on his pajamas. Dai's face sobered and he looked down. "We're always fighting and-"

"I know." Dai snapped. "But I mean, times are tough. Get over it. So maybe I don't really feel like loving you when work is so tough. But that doesn't mean I don't."

Ken stared at him. "You know, that's the way I feel. Like sometimes you look adorable sitting there like a bum on the couch, messing up my antique furniture. But it's so hard to focus on stuff like that when I'm so tired. And we've been together for seven years now. So I guess we're bound to run into rough patches. It's just that..." He sighed, drifting off. Daisuke was surprised that Ken was talking so much.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, each wondering what to do now. Then Dai's stomach rumbled.

"I was wondering when that would happen." Ken sighed, standing up. He trudged into the kitchen. "But I noticed you ate basically nothing in the restaurant. I knew it'd be too fancy, but your parents insisted. God, no offense, but they have horrible taste in restaurants. I have never had such bad duck in my entire life." Ken bitched from the kitchen. Daisuke snickered.

"Duck? You eat duck?!"

"Yeah, what's it to you, noodle head?"

"I bet you they went to Odaiba park with BB guns and just shot a bunch of ducks at the pond."

"Eww that'd be gross, people feed those ducks all kinds of horrible junk."

'Exactly!" They laughed and Ken came out with some soup for Dai, who finished it in seconds. "Now that's more like it!"

Ken moved to sit next to Dai on the couch. Dai turned the tv on and put his head in Ken's lap without asking. Ken smiled, playing with Dai's spiky brown hair. Some show about famous Odaiba locals came on.

"Hey it's Taichi!" Dai cried. They were profiling Taichi as one of the greatest Japanese soccer players ever. A clip showed him running down a field at top speed. Both Ken and Dai chuckled when the camera panned to a section of Taichi's fans, where of course, Yamato sat, looking bored and probably still trying to figure out what the score was.

"It's so funny how stupid Yamato thinks soccer is." Daisuke said, enjoying the view of Taichi playing shirtless, his lean body glistening with sweat. The narrator was talking about how as devoted to soccer as Taichi is, he is even more devoted to his boyfriend.

"Yeah but Taichi thinks that Yamato's music is pretty stupid too." Ken argued, still playing with Dai's hair.

"Well it IS! Yamato has two jobs now. If he had just gone to school for business maybe he'd have one actual job."

"Yeah but Taichi can't play soccer forever, either. And then he'll be out of a job too."

"I wonder how they do it." Dai said thoughtfully, twisting to look up at Ken, who smirked.

"Never mind that. Since you're in my lap already..." He snickered as Dai swatted at him.

"You just want me for my hot bod." Dai pretended to sob. Ken laughed.

"Oh, it's true."

Dai smiled too, enjoying how open Ken was being. Usually he was silent and angry, like he was around other people. Maybe for awhile things would be good for them.

Soon Dai fell asleep again. Ken rolled his eyes and put his arm around his boyfriend's skinny waist, half-picking him up. He pulled the sleeping young man across the living room and into the bedroom, dropping him on the bed. Still Dai did not wake up. Ken smiled to himself, taking off Dai's dress pants and putting a pair of pajama pants on him. He covered him up with blankets and then climbed into bed as well, snuggling up close to his snoring boyfriend. Dai's snoring was regular and light and somehow relaxed Ken. He listened to Dai's heartbeat, the slow and perfect heartbeat of someone who was very athletic.

In his dreams, Daisuke dreamed that Chinese water torture was actually a very good thing.