a/n: So it might be a bit of a surprise to see this updated but I decided to write something celebrating a year since I started writing 'Fish and Chips' but I never got it finished in time so it ended up as a celebration of when I first started posting on this website.... which was two months ago :) Originally it was only posted on Livejournal but I thought I might give it a chance on here! It acts as a continuation to the story and if you enjoyed the original then I really hope you like it!
He was sleeping so peacefully against the window it seemed as though this was where he'd always felt most at home – where his heart truly lay. Glancing to the side at him in the car, Kurogane couldn't figure out if that made any sense or none at all. If Yuui had ever shown any attachment to their home country then he'd kept it silent and nowadays there was no point in hiding from Kurogane – he'd already know.
His breathing is soft and muffled and tender little flicks of blonde have slipped across his brow in a gentle curtain as dusk descends the world outside, dappling the clouds a faint pink and blazing the edges of the country landscape a vivid orange. At once there was something both warm and strange to the sight – something pained and distant, purposefully laid to the side a very long time ago though the familiarity of his surroundings still caught Kurogane. He almost hated for himself for it given the memories.
Yuui's hand lay limp to the side of the gear-stick where he'd cupped Kurogane's hand with his own before falling asleep, before slipping away into a slumber against the window pane.
It was an uneasy homecoming for both of them.
Mostly it was the anxiety and the anticipation, the old, stale memories becoming stirred to the surface and layered fresh in their mind. Some of them were memories of innocence and simple pleasures and others were of blood and death, of love and abuse. More clearly than ever, Yuui was that boy drowning himself in pained tears as he went to bed and smiling blindly through the daylight instead of his partner – strong and silent in his own way; a fond flicker curled inside a warm smile. Their love was a tangled and adolescent mess of romance, strained too far too soon, rather than a seven year strong partnership.
By the time it was six o clock, the sky was a thick, dark navy outside, oppressing the sky and clouding the sky in a veil between rain and nightfall, constant spits of raindrops pattering near silently down on the car.
Yuui's eyes flickered open, fluttering gently for a moment as he brought himself out of a daze and took in his surroundings. Steadily, he gave a yawn and stretched his tensed and tautened limbs, shifting about in his seat before he mumbled in a tired slur, "How long till we get there?"
"Half an hour, I guess," Kurogane responded and it surprised him how well he still remembered these roads and these town names. It felt as though he'd been set upon a picture he'd studied every day – mutely he recognised every single detail but the dimension felt foreign.
With a slow and obliging nod, Yuui settled back against his seat though his eyes refused to close this time, dimly watching the beads of the cat eyes lining down the half-empty road pass in a mindless rush and taking in the overbearing and dangling branches about them, swathed black in this semblance of darkness and Kurogane supposed his mind must have wandered because after another few minutes Yuui's hand was lying on his arm, clutching it lightly as though seeking strength.
There were so many words of reassurance Kurogane could have said in that moment but he opted for silence instead, tentative to recognise this buried sensation of anxiety as they neared the town where they grew up, met and fell in love in and completely fell apart in.
"Kurogane?" he called out as he heard the door slam down the corridor.
"Yeah?" Kurogane responded, trudging his way through to the living-room and dumping his jacket on the hook on the way, stopping as he sees Yuui flipping the disk tentatively between his fingers with a face gently twisted in thought as the light glinted sharply off the disk's metallic sheen.
"Were you thinking of going back this year?" he asked in the most pensive and reflective tone. His eyes glanced sadly down at the disk in his hand, handling it delicately.
"Maybe... why? Do you want to go?" Kurogane asked confusedly, eyes flicking down to the disk in Yuui's hands – old and scratched; markings blurred and unidentifiable. "And what's that?"
A strange, amused smile passed over Yuui's face. "I was tidying out the cupboard and I found it. Don't you recognise it?"
He made a gesture of handing it over and Kurogane warily took it from his fingers, about to snap that no, he did not, why the hell should he, when he caught sight of the smudged and handwritten title – Fai's Favourite Places, love Yuui and Kurogane. Mutely he could remember handing over the marker pen and distantly he could see a young man with golden hair inscribing their names on the disk with a stupid, stupid smile.
"So you do remember then, huh?" Yuui sighed sadly though he gave a warmed smile, gracefully setting himself down on the sofa.
"So this is what...?" Kurogane started counting in his head – twelve plus seven. "Nineteen years old?"
"Strange to think about, isn't it?" Yuui laughed but soon his smile had turned into a wicked grin; his voice ran slick and liquid. "Do you remember that day, Kuro-sama?"
It all snapped back to Kurogane in short bursts, appearing in rough flashes – a camera and several bus tickets about town, slow walks in springtime, little smiles and sweets and innuendoes and the shadow of death, a sense of nostalgia, the taste of Yuui's lips, silence as he searched for answers and ideas and Yuui sitting astride him, his hand about his-
"Sort of," Kurogane replied dismissively, handing the disk back as Yuui smiled coyly.
"I'm sorry I wouldn't let you go all the way with me back then," Yuui laughed despite the fact his eyes were cold and hard and serious. "But you got there in the end..." It was uttered in a sad little whisper with a warm and feeble smile.
For a moment Kurogane's brow twitched into a frown because this did not seem to be something to joke about and that guy clutching him in frozen desperation was not Yuui, was not his partner and that kid was a tattered soul so painfully close to breaking and shattering completely; transparent and crumbling at the edges with this glowing, saddened, fake and infuriating smile and not his partner – solid and unwavering, thoughtful and with the most genuine, beautiful smile (a trace of happiness) on his lips who never lived inside a lie and always knew how to steady himself. This boy did not pleasure him in the same way because back then there was so much he could barely understand and so much about Yuui that sickened and scared him, such a gaping hole in his soul, it felt as wrong and disgusting in bed with him as it was inevitable and monumental. It's not like now. It's not his pure and mature and wonderful body and it's not his smooth and practiced motions or soft breath and it's not slow or deep or fast or passionate as it should be – it's a minefield of hesitations and anxious pausing, of drifting, uncertain tongues. It wasn't feeling as though he could love the body in his arms forever.
If anything it was closer to hating it.
"Would you want to watch it again?" is all he could ask as a reluctant and stiff ball caught in his throat.
"I don't think we have anything to play it on," Yuui muttered thoughtfully, lying with his arms folded across the edge of the sofa, chin rested on arms, a faint pout on his lips.
"But you want to go back?" Kurogane hesitantly asked, remembering Yuui's initial question as he'd come through the door.
"Yes... it's been a few years, right?" Yuui breathed lightly and glanced up towards him hopefully.
Kurogane only narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "For what? Is this about Fai?" he immediately asked and immediately regretted saying. It was almost as if he were treating his friend's death as a thing – a plain and ordinary, meaningless and shapeless thing.
"Sort of," Yuui answered. If he was affected then he didn't let it show, allowing only for his brows to twitch lightly in thought. "It's more of a nostalgia thing..."
"Why? What have you got there you'd want to remember?" Kurogane scoffed incredulously, fiercely believing that all their happiness remained locked and sealed inside these four walls of their home and this land and no other country on Earth.
He'd expected Yuui to have frowned or glared or at least to have taken offence but he hadn't. He'd smiled lazily and happily, dimming his eyes as he gazed towards him. "I want to remember what it was like to be young and so idiotic it hurt," he explained in a light and certain breath, a quiet little smile playing on his expression.
Deep into autumn, streets are lined with damp and rotting leaves, gleaming in the pale orange street lights lining the pavements, slick and glowing in the wet and the world has a hushed, chilled feel to it – something neither of them are sure if they'd ever missed or ever realised was present to begin with but suddenly their memories are pushed back into their minds: frozen with this still and muffled world. The silence of it as the town becomes wrapped in a dampened cloak is familiar somehow but it seems a whole other universe to the streets where they carried their school bags and talked as they walked home with Fai.
When Kurogane glanced over to look at Yuui, he barely even had to ask if this was a mistake because the answer was held clearly in his eyes – Nobody said it was a bad idea just yet.
In the distance, firecrackers crackle and hiss, spitting across the sky although they are veiled in the damp night sky. It'd seem impossible to set this sky ablaze in bursts of fizzling colours and light without imagining the thick rainclouds swamping and swallowing the sparks, engulfing and extinguishing the show. But still, people gathered here and there, toes numb and frozen in boots and socks, stuffed hands in pockets, scarves wrapped round necks as they shifted from foot to foot and placed hats on their children's heads. In the distance the bonfire blazes and positively spews black smoke to mingle in amongst the rainclouds and they seem to make the perfect match – and flecks of ashes spatter across the sky like paint on canvas, dancing up into the air in warm spurts of glowing life. The fire itself seems to burn their retinas, the bystanders swamped in a thick heat wave, breathing in the strength of the flames and glancing at their watches as the minutes pass by. Faintly, they can see the remains of the figure at the centre, limp and ablaze, surrounded by crates and boxes and it causes them to wonder what sort of community spirit came together to build this pile of wood and ashes on a damp, cold day. The chill in the air seems to seep into the ground, malleable mud clinging numbly to their shoes as they tramp over to that single beacon of warmth over the football pitch for the first time in so many years.
There once stood a gruff and frustrated teenager to the side, crossing his arms as another prattled on and on and wouldn't cease as the heat of the blaze sank through their layers and into their skin with welcome appeal. And there was another quiet little shadow beside them with a better idea of sense and calm observation of matters.
Yuui chews on his bottom lip for a moment, engulfed in a brief sense of nostalgia though he smiles all the same, warmed by a simple memory.
It's strangely clear.
There's a blonde kid up ahead, kicking up leaves, wandering along with the occasional hop and skip in his step, a loose and demented hint in daydreaming eyes and a constant, glowing smile painted gaudily on his lips. The look's wearing thin and so is the laughter in his voice, soaring and giggling, echoing down the half-empty streets in the damp, cold night. It reverberates endlessly over the past few years.
"So he'd have to come with us?" Kurogane grumbles to Fai without even trying to quieten his voice and soon he's met with harsh and reproachful blue eyes. "What?" he retorts.
Fai gives a loose and hopeless sigh, glancing over to his twin in apparent pity and woe. "He'd want to come."
"Tch, what a pain!" Kurogane moans, glaring daggers towards Yuui further up the street, very nearly in his whole own world.
"Ah! My ears are burning!" he exclaims, spinning round with the widest grin on his face, with mischief sparkling in his eyes and something Kurogane linked closely with torment in the way he faced him.
"You're a damn eavesdropper's what you are," Kurogane snaps with all the casual revulsion he can muster and still his heart draws taut and skips a beat when Yuui grins towards him, warmly and fondly.
"I can't help it when you're talking about me so loudly!" he laughs, slowing his pace so that now he walks alongside his twin and Kurogane.
"Well then maybe you should shut up and stop listening when you're not meant to," Kurogane almost snarls in irritation, quickly whipping his head away before his heart began to patter and startle him again.
Yuui seems about to respond when his brother hastily intrudes – "We were thinking of going to the cinema on Tuesday. Do you want to come?"
For a moment Kurogane's caught between his friend's wishes and berating him for pushing the three of them together intentionally without even trying to pretend.
"Sorry, I've got something on," Yuui answers apologetically, his gleeful expression dulling visibly.
"Pity," Kurogane mutters with a smug smirk, as obvious and open as Fai was himself so he fails to see why the twin seems so hurt the moment Kurogane pushes himself away again.
Of course now it's stupidly clear and he almost feels guilty for fighting against the poor kid with such a weight over him, trying to convince himself that he wasn't in love with Yuui despite all that Fai did to try to make them happy.
Kurogane's not a man for 'if's or reminiscing but he finds himself wondering how he'd have reacted back then if he was told that one day he would be living together with Yuui as partners, that one day they'd share the same bills and bed and fall asleep to the sound of each other's breath.
He wonders when he first fell in love with Yuui – was it on the playground or in the classroom or at his home one day or later when the blood was running slick and dark down his skin? Was it in the warm silence of the lodge in summer heat and tranquillity when the world belonged to them and no-one else?
In truth it's probably none of these things because he can remember kissing him in the black of the night streets a few months later and never feeling such a bemusing array of emotions before. He can't understand it. Yuui's lips look and taste and feel perfect, wonderful in every sense and yet nothing has every caused him so much revulsion as to hold him and press kisses on to his lips in the silence of the darkness, feel the warmth of his body underneath him and gentle touch of his hands against his back. And then he feels Yuui's tongue flicking along his lips and poking at the gap between and he freezes to the spot without a single clue what to do.
Twenty years on Kurogane feels like grabbing himself from his own memory, ripping him out and ordering him to open his mouth, let Yuui in and then follow suit.
Instead he tenses up and pushes him away, unwisely dragging a sleeve across his mouth.
Yuui stares anxiously towards him, asking with a voice full of care and worry, "What's wrong? Never kissed with tongue before?"
"It's not that!" Kurogane growls, caught somewhere between frustration and embarrassment, unable to escape Yuui's gaze, his hands still tangled lightly around his waist.
"You know..." Yuui then smiles, taking a step into him with a sly, seductive sort of smile glowing before him as he breathes and allows his voice to slip silkily, "I haven't either... I was hoping to try it out on Kuro-chan?"
In that moment, all of Kurogane's bravery is shoved to the back of his mind and his sense of experimentation struggles and kicks to the front as he stammers for words, fails and gives in, yanking Yuui in about the waist. He immediately laughs and grins before Kurogane takes the plunge, diving in and pressing their lips together hard.
When he feels Yuui's tongue touching against his lips he begins to open his mouth and immediately feels both enlightened and violated. It's interesting and it's awkward; slightly uncertain and apprehensive. It's Yuui's saliva mingling with his own as their tongues attempt to tangle and fail magnificently.
Looking back, Kurogane is almost grateful to have nearly erased his memory and forgotten those days completely where he was sickeningly in love with a boy he hated and his stupid teenaged brain could barely process it and work out what to do. Now Yuui's mouth does not taste sugary sweet or perfect and it's not peppered with subconscious hatred and self-disgust. His lips feel like a match to his and his tongue never feels foreign in Kurogane's mouth. They take things slowly and appreciate every drop of love and adoration they hold between them.
It's not surprising he wants to forget the time he was so frightened French-kissing Yuui for the first time he nearly shivered and tried to lose himself instead to that giddy high as he clutches almost desperately at his waist, holding him fiercely to himself.
They're walking down the high street now, fingers raw red, numbed and chilled and fingering at jacket buttons as they draw in their layers from the cold. Their breath drifts in pale clouds curling lightly in the air before vanishing completely, silent and wordless as though they'd just witnessed something bizarre and ethereal. Idiocy and simplicity aside it was painful and it was awkward to feel seventeen year old hearts beating inside their own matured bodied as they stared up towards fireworks in a world which suddenly seemed too small and constricted to them. They seem to be stuck between what should and should not have come to pass and whether it had been meaningless to kiss if it had only inspired such a strange concoction of emotion which would prove too much for them when they lost something so close to them both, as they felt Fai slipping away from them each day without a single thing they could do to prevent it from happening. Their helplessness was truly sickening.
Still, from what Kurogane recalled of him from his memories, an identical face trapped immortally in youth and a shy sort of quietness as he observed patiently from the side, he'd been happy that day all those years ago just to wander about town, the three of them together with all their disagreements and companionship bundled together for a night waiting and watching the fireworks explode across the blanketed sky.
He'd be even happier knowing that after so many years his brother and Kurogane were living happily together, deeply in love without having to say a single word to compound it.
In the gaps between the clouds, stars sparkle and glitter in infinitesimal pricks of gleaming light that shine like a miniature net of beacons through the heavy, clinging weather. He can see Yuui glancing up to them with a smile as he swings the plastic bag in his hands, back and forth, bobbing up and down to the sway of his steps. He reckons the warmth as they'd passed by open doorways had been far too alluring and that thick and fatty scent that had pushed past them like a wave through the bitter chill.
"So are you going to eat it back in the hotel?" he asks suspiciously, nodding his head down to the take out swinging in his hand.
"Maybe," Yuui replies airily without commitment and Kurogane raises his eyebrows for a moment, looking at it before allowing it to pass and wait and see what Yuui had in mind instead. Thinking about it, he should have been able to guess the moment he'd bought it and the way Yuui's smile lights up when he catches sight of 'their' bench is suddenly something obvious and awkward. To say that they'd enjoyed their youth here was stretching the truth too far, yet Yuui looked visibly overjoyed running his fingers about the wood to check for damp and seating himself down with a contented smile.
Kurogane pauses for a moment before joining his partner and he can see that victorious smirk and does his very best to ignore it, unsure whether he disagreed to the idea of rekindling old memories in the first place.
The way Yuui unwraps the newspaper is incredibly nostalgic – carefully twisting and unfolding the paper and twisting it back round to form a neat bundle just as he had when he was younger and when he adored him, when he hated him beyond all others. He licked his fingers one at a time, sucking the salt off each before plucking a chip out the paper bundle and working his way round in silence, staring about the town every now and then. The face of clock-tower in the corner was lit just as it had been all those years before, the old buildings stood intact, fashioned from stone and wood, the stepped layout of the town square had remained the same over the years and yet there was the definite sense that this place had changed with them. It was the new shops scattering the streets and the unfamiliar faces dotting the pavement, that feeling lying just under their skin that this was not their home anymore. Neither of them are sure if they're saddened by this.
"Want some?" Yuui eventually asks, tilting his packet over to Kurogane was a sweet and happy smile though Kurogane merely shakes his head and turns to the side, allowing Yuui to finish off his own meal and drumming his fingers on the side of the bench.
Sometimes Fai had sat propped up on the wall behind him with his legs swinging over the side in some sort of subliminal attempt to force his brother and Kurogane to sit together. At times when he'd turn around, realising he hadn't said a word in a while, he'd find him balanced between the bench and the flowerbeds with a book. He can't say how much life Fai seems to have in his mental picture because for so long now he'd only been able to look back and see a shadow, only the merest fragments of spiritual life clinging to his immortal memory.
It's about then Yuui pokes a chip at Kurogane's lips.
"You're turning into a kid again," Kurogane grumbles, taking hold of the chip and eating it nonetheless, dribbled and soaked with vinegar and a thin film of salt. It struck him he hadn't eaten anything like this in years.
"I hope not!" Yuui laughs, subtly referring to the damage for the first time since they'd arrived here though he doesn't seem uncomfortable, snapping off another piece of the fish.
The batter is crisp and light, crunching slightly under the bite and beneath there's a layer of fat that's slick and warm and sweet on Yuui's tongue while the food simply melts in Yuui's mouth and the hot meat slips down his gullet. It had certainly been a long time.
"We really need to start again," he'd said with such conviction in his eyes it was profound, clutching at Kurogane's hand from over the table.
He'd given only a gruff nod and a brief look – "How far do you think you'll need to go to get away from here?"
Yuui smirked, gave a lazy smile and a laugh, fingering at Kurogane's own digits fondly and responding, "Very far. Somewhere completely different."
"Name the place," was all Kurogane said, immediately and almost forcefully, so bluntly he'd even taken himself by surprise with a sudden slip of sentimentality and romanticism.
Yuui's eyes opened wide, breathing, "Kuro-chan..." faintly and in awe, almost as though disbelieving the proposal. "Don't you think we should talk about this first?"
"If it's a stupid suggestion then I'll intervene but otherwise I'll be alright pretty much anywhere," Kurogane answered, trying not to feel emotional as Yuui squeezed his hand with a beautiful, grateful smile.
"I was thinking... of my first home," he carefully revealed, eyes watching Kurogane closely for any flicker of thought or emotion, taken by surprise when he smirked and wrapped his hand about his.
"Sound just fine," he said.
"I thought it'd feel different but nothing's changed," Yuui sighed despondently, slowly pacing along the rain-dappled streets and tugging his jacket up to shield himself from the fat and heavy rain drops showering lethargically and silently over town, drizzling on to streets slick with rain in the dark, pattering into the puddles dotting the road here and there, choked at the edges with sodden and mouldering leaves, a sweet and rotten smell and a light golden hue.
"Is that what you were expecting?" Kurogane asked stiffly, almost about to roll his eyes as though this were a premonition he'd had, sensing no promise at all in the idea other than the reawakening of several unpleasant memories. It wasn't that he wanted to ignore the past, either – it was that he didn't want to be reminded of his partner's countless flaws when, to his eyes, he was perfect in each mistake.
Yuui gave a small laugh, smirking and sighing, fingering lightly at the edge of his coat. "I thought it had more to do with how I felt at the time. I really don't know whether I miss any of it or not now." His face seemed pensive with distant eyes and a sad smile that shone so genuinely and obviously it was more treasured to Kurogane than any memory or lie; whatever piece of sickening nostalgia he could conjure.
"I think you miss him more than you miss home," Kurogane pointed out, unsure whether he is stirring anything painful but judging by that warmed smile that memory and that understanding between the two of them had only proved to raise Yuui's spirit's just the slightest.
"Tomorrow before we leave, we need to visit his grave," he breathed preciously and happily as though encouraged by the notion that this was the same soil Fai lay in, that for a moment he could be closer to him than he had been in years and Kurogane almost smiled himself at the sight.
"I figured as much," he smirked, flinching slightly as Yuui ran his fingers teasingly down his wrist as though about to hold his hand. "Tch, we're not kids anymore!" he spat, ripping his hand away in a mix between humiliation and fury that made Yuui laugh and grapple for his hand all the more.
"I know, we're adults now!" he said in a low and slinking voice, creeping his fingers slowly and smoothly up Kurogane's arm, watching him shiver and grinning mischievously before he stopped, taking his hand slowly away and taking in a slow, wide breath.
"What?" Kurogane asked, worriedly glancing over to Yuui's dead and still eyes, mouth slightly agape, and when he stared dead on he saw nothing in particular that would catch his attention yet he seemed to be swallowed whole, absorbed in the sight.
"Subaru..." he breathed to no-one in particular though the corner of his mouths nearly twitch into a smile while his eyes echo nothing but pain and quickly Kurogane can remember why – those lonely nights getting to know each other in the hospital, bandages wrapped tight around wrists and an achingly slow and pensive atmosphere that seemed to cling to their skin and conversation, wrap around that one student Yuui had tried and failed to protect.
He can see him now, tall and thin and somewhere in his twenties, short-cut hair and a long, open jacket that fluttered sodden in the dark and timeless rain. In trim fingers balanced a cigarette, glowing a pale orange against the navy evening, echoing the meek glow of the street-lights as he sauntered down the street with all the weight of the world seeming to press in the dull sheen of his eyes. They spark a little, beam steadily into life as they catch the blonde-haired man before him, suddenly melt in relief and warmth and soon he is making his way towards his old teacher.
Immediately Yuui embraced him, wrapping his arms tightly and thankfully about the man and fighting back painful tears and old, rotting memories of biology classrooms in the dark, of the steady sickening realisation and that hopeful, naive glow in the poor boy's eyes.
"You're safe..." he found himself whispering to him as his old student hesitantly brought his own arms about his back.
"... It's been a long time," Subaru responded in a muffle into his shoulder and soon Yuui was grinning, taking a step back to look at him before everything hit him in one blow.
"I was thinking about you..." Yuui muttered sadly, smiling nonetheless, taking in that empty look in his eyes and wondering whether it would be better or worse for himself to question it.
"Thank you," Subaru smiled meekly, soon peering over his shoulder to Kurogane waiting patiently at the side.
"That's Kurogane..." Yuui informed him, passing over a quick and fond gaze before turning back to Subaru, smiling warmly and deeply, watching as feelings of pain sparked by memory suddenly twisted into beautiful promises. "He's the man I was always meant to fall in love with."
Sometimes at night he'd listened to those words repeating over and over again, a young and immature body caught between abuse and heart-ache, filling his heart with a vain sort of hope as he clutched at his sheets and waited for that day someone would finally step into his life and wash away the nightmare he depended on far too closely to release himself from. He painted his hopes and dreams brightly, lived them out day after day, wondering what a beautiful word 'love' must be, to allow it trickle naturally off his tongue.
It worked out so differently in the end it hurt all the more. And it hurt to feel distant from love and protection, physically pained him to feel betrayed and discarded, to be heart-broken and abandoned but somehow it had all seemed so ridiculous and surreal he was willing to be tossed about again and again living off that memory, off that vain echo of love as he'd shared kisses with Kurogane.
So when he did break away from his home, when he did shatter those dark illusions, falling properly in love for the first time he felt so warm it shrank everything else into the background. When he first lay at night under the covers with Kurogane's arm wrapped around him listening to his breath and his heart beat intimately, when he first allowed the word 'love' to escape with a beautiful echo in his voice and felt so bound to another it was almost ridiculous to think they'd ever clashed in the past, pain is put in a strange perspective for Yuui.
It was something young and it was something tortured. And it is nothing about who he is now.
a/n: Yay! Subaru never died! :D Hope you all enjoyed that celebratory continuation and aren't drowning in angst and depression!