Disclaimer: I don't own Yamada Tarou Monogatari

Author's Note: This fic contains some very minor (details) spoilers through to the final volume, including the side-story. It's okay if you haven't read all the way through/the side-story though, since the spoilers are really quite minor haha

Sugiura sighed in frustration as he threw himself face first on his couch, completely indifferent to the fact that his clothes were dirty from work or that he – somehow – had forgotten to take his shoes off before coming inside. Frankly, he didn't really care- he had more pressing matters to deal with after all.

Like the fact that Yamada was mad at him- again. And as a result of that, he wasn't talking to him- again. How many times was this now? He'd lost count past the 20th time; that, or he'd purposely stopped counting after that point, since even reaching that number meant something was seriously wrong with him. Which he didn't want to admit. Ever. He had his pride after all, and besides, to admit that would only be proof that he was nowhere near good enough for Yamada- which was silly, since they weren't even dating. Wouldn't ever be dating at this rate, if he were completely honest with himself.

Sugiura groaned and flipped himself over as he simultaneously brought an arm up to cover his eyes and used his feet to kick off his shoes. What was he supposed to do now? He knew Yamada wouldn't be mad at him forever – the other man was rarely angry at him for longer than a week – so that wasn't a problem, but it didn't change the fact that it hurt and it sucked to have the object of his affection angry at him for the millionth time over a slip-up he hadn't even known he'd made.

Did he mention that it sucked? Because it did. A lot.

It was times like these that he dearly wished he understood what Yamada was thinking, if only to spare himself from getting hurt practically every third or fourth time they met because he'd gone and done something stupid to upset the other man in one way or another. You'd think he would at least understand him enough by now to know what lines were where and when they were crossed, but...

...he tended to be a little slow when things dealt with Yamada. He could admit that his obsession with the other man tended to get in the way of things like common sense, which he apparently completely lacked whenever he was with him. Which was not good, in any way, shape, or form.

What was he going to do? Yamada this time around seemed far madder than Sugiura'd ever seen him before (which was saying a lot, seeing how many times it's happened)...

Sugiura sighed again and let his arm drop from his face to hang over the side of the couch, gaze locking onto the ceiling. He really needed to stop making him mad. But how to go about it, when he didn't even know what set him off, aside from the fact that 99% of the time he got angry over something food-related? It wasn't like Sugiura meant to do half the things he does, it was just...natural for him to do things that were so clearly unnatural to the younger man. It wasn't his fault he was raised in different setting than Yamada had been, so it wasn't like he could easily understand what the other was going through...

And just like that, an idea hit him. There was definitely a way he could come to understand Yamada better, without having to face the other man directly when he was clearly not in a good mood. Why hadn't he thought of it before?


"Wh- but why?"

"It'd be easier if you just asked him yourself."

"But- but I can't do that! What part of 'he's mad at me!' didn't you understand?"

"What I understand is that you're a coward. Yamada's harmless, even when he's mad. I don't see the problem."

"You- bastard, that's not the point! The point is, he won't talk to me when he's mad, so how the hell can I get any information from him when he's like this?"

"Hm...you do have a dilemma there, don't you?"

"...you're enjoying this, aren't you? Damn it, I can't believe I actually thought you'd be of any help. Whatever. I'll go look for someone who won't take pleasure from my misery to help me then, jerk!"

...Okay, so maybe asking Mimura of all people had not been the greatest of ideas. He really should have known that, considering the antics Mimura had pulled back in high school whenever he'd catch Sugiura staring at Yamada, which had been done for no other reason than that it made Sugiura insanely jealous and gave him something to be amused about. So really, he should have known.

But! That's alright, he hadn't exhausted his list of people to ask yet. There was that one girl who'd also gone to Ichinomiya (who incidentally had also been after Yamada during their high school days so he held a bit of a grudge against her) that he'd seen over at Yamada's place when Yoshiko and Mimura had gotten married, so maybe she could help him...

"I- what? I don't...what do you mean you made Yamada-kun mad?"

...He really didn't want to have to explain how he managed that – repeatedly – to someone who clearly had never seen Yamada get mad at anyone.

...But maybe he didn't really have a choice in the matter, since it didn't seem like she'd help him any other way.

Sugiura sighed. "I don't know. I apparently have a knack for it though, since this isn't the first time he's been-"

"Wait, what? You've made Yamada-kun mad multiple times? How did you manage that? I mean, seriously. How?"

Sugiura groaned and brought his hands up to cradle his face in. "You know what? Forget I ever asked...you probably don't understand him any better than I do, and since Mimura feels like being an ass, I guess I'll have to go ask one of his siblings or someone...thanks anyway, I guess."

In hindsight, when he'd gone to Mimura's place he could have asked Yoshiko, which would probably have been the smartest move; she was Yamada's sister after all. Too bad it was a little late for that now...there's no way he'd go back and be made fun of by Mimura. So, that left him with plan three, which, really, should have been plan one, but seeing as he was trying to avoid going to Yamada's place in case he ran into the younger man...

He didn't really have much of a choice now though. Hopefully it was only his younger siblings and his mom that were home, otherwise it'd be way too awkward to have to deal with, especially in front of his family.

So, there he stood in front of the covered hole that marked the Yamada family's underground home, feet frozen to the spot he stood in, handsbeginning to sweat lightly from the nervousness he felt just by standing there. Yamada probably wasn't even home right now; school had let out for the day not very long ago and usually he was still working until a couple hours after that before hopping to another job. So there was no valid reason for him to be so. Damn. Nervous.

Just as he was about to bend down to knock on the wooden door, he heard the sound of someone walking on the dirt behind him and very nearly jumped out of his skin as he turned around to see who it was, a slightly panicked look taking over his features.

"Eh? Ah, Sugiura-an-chan! What are you doing here? An-chan shouldn't be around until early tomorrow morning; he started the night shift a couple days ago."

Sugiura let out a breath of relief to find Yamada Jirou in front of him instead of Yamada Tarou. Beyond glad, in fact; it kept him from having to experience any sort of embarrassment at the hands of his beloved and his refusal to acknowledge Sugiura's presence, in front of his family no less. "No- uh, I wasn't actually here for him. I need...to ask you about something, if you don't mind."

Jirou tilted his head slightly in confusion before smiling and holding his school bag up for Sugiura to see. "Alright, hang on a second though. I have to put this away before going to my job; we can talk on the way there if that's okay with you."

Sugiura nodded wordlessly and stepped off to the side to give Jirou room to open the door and disappear down the ladder that led to their home. After a couple minutes of waiting he could hear the sounds of the youngest Yamada siblings wishing him a good time at work before the second eldest Yamada came back up the ladder and closed the door with a cheerful wave into its depths.

Jirou motioned for Sugiura to follow him before speaking. "So what did you need to talk to me about? Does it have something to do with An-chan?"

Sugiura blushed, suddenly unsure if he had made the right choice to be so...vocal about his little problem with the high schooler's brother. "A-ah...I think...he's mad at me for some reason."

"Eh? An-chan is?" Jirou looked at Sugiura in surprise. "What happened?"

"That's...something that I can't figure out." Sugiura admitted. "I just...I don't understand him at all so sometimes I guess I just...mess up without knowing how."

"Heh~...An-chan doesn't usually get mad without a reason, so something had to have happened. What were you two doing before he got mad at you?"

"We went to go grab lunch from a fast food place. I think..." Sugiura paused to think back before continuing on slowly. "I think I might've thrown some food away that he might've wanted..."

"That...That'd probably do it."

Sugiura glanced at Jirou, eyebrow raised at the stutter that had came out of the boy's mouth. Momentarily he was taken aback at the sudden annoyance that was quite evident in the boy's expression before he stopped and gently grabbed Jirou by the arm to stop him as well. He waited for Jirou to look at him before speaking. "I didn't mean to! I just...I was distracted because we were having a conversation and keeping leftovers isn't something I normally did growing up so it's a hard habit to break!"

Jirou sighed, his eyes turning sad as they resumed walking. "I know...it's just disappointing when people waste food, since we don't ever get enough of it."

"I know..." Sugiura groaned. "But apparently I don't understand that since I'm still making the same mistake over and over again!"

His companion remained silent long enough for Sugiura to glance at him curiously, moments before Jirou started to speak. "I wonder...did you ever stop to think that maybe you do understand An-chan, and that it's him that doesn't understand you?"

"I- what? How do you mean?"

"Well, think about it this way. You know we're poor and can't afford food very often, well enough to bring leftovers from your family's supermarket for us from time to time when An-chan can't. You clearly know that An-chan doesn't like it when food he could easily take home for us is thrown away, since you regret it after he gets mad about it. But don't you think that maybe he doesn't understand that it's not something you usually did, and is only something you really started to watch out about after meeting and hanging out with him? I mean, you probably should know what An-chan's like at restaurants and the like considering how long you've known each other, so you really should remember that he'd want whatever you didn't finish, but maybe...maybe he should know that he ought to remind you since you tend to get so wrapped up in talking to him that you don't really notice what's going on around you."

Sugiura blinked at Jirou's long assessment of the situation, and blushed darkly at the last statement the high schooler made. "I- no I don't! I don't know what you're talking about!"

Jirou gave him a knowing sideways glance. "An-chan's my brother, sure, but that doesn't mean I'm as dense as he is you know. Pretty much everyone knows about your feelings for An-chan."

Somehow Sugiura's blush darkened several shades as he valiantly changed the subject to the one before his – apparently obvious – feelings for the oldest Yamada. "A-anyway, I think...you might have a point, but that doesn't mean I agree..."

"Su-gi-u-ra." Sugiura looked at Jirou in surprise at the lack of 'an-chan', but the boy didn't pause to acknowledge his reaction. "An-chan isn't perfect; he makes mistakes sometimes just like everyone else does. Sometimes he makes demands of people that are a little hard to follow, especially since he has a habit of springing it on them suddenly. You're not the only person it's happened to; he's done it to Mimura-an-chan too, and a couple neighbors but at a lesser degree than what he does to you. So it's not you're fault- not entirely, anyway."

Sugiura sighed in defeat, mind lacking any kind of comeback. Before he had a chance to think of a response, Jirou brightened next to him and pointed farther down the street they'd been walking on. "That's where I work! I'll see you later then, Sugiura-an-chan!" Jirou smiled at him and waved before running off. He hadn't gone more than a few steps before he paused and turned slightly, smile still in place. "Ne, I think you should talk to An-chan about it! Wouldn't that be the best choice? I mean, neither of you will start to understand the other if you don't talk about your feelings! He's mad at you right now, but An-chan has a big heart; he's not going to deny you if you want to have an actual conversation with him! Anyway, bye!"

With that Jirou ran off again, leaving Sugiura alone in the middle of the street to think, now completely unsure of how to continue avoiding asking Yamada directly when that was the only advice he'd gotten from the people he'd asked for help from. Sugiura sighed and hung his head in defeat. It wasn't like he really had much of a choice in the matter anyway...

This...was by far the most awkward thing he'd done in quite some time.

Steeling himself, Sugiura pulled open the door to the ice rink and stepped inside, a cool draft from the direction of the rink itself blasting him as he stepped into the main room. The door closed heavily behind him, as if to say he didn't have a way out until he spoke to Yamada about...well, anything, really. Sighing, he walked a couple steps farther into the room before a very familiar voice reached his ears.

"Welcome! I hope you-"

Sugiura flinched as Yamada's welcome immediately cut itself short, leaving a very unpleasant awkwardness lingering between the two of them, which probably wasn't helped by the fact that he couldn't look at the other man at that moment. Slowly he took a breath, brought his gaze up to meet Yamada's (who was looking at him like he'd seen a ghost, or at least something extremely...unwanted), and spoke through his completely shot nerves. "I...Yamada? Can we...talk?"

"I'm working right now." Yamada spoke...he didn't want to say coldly, but there wasn't really any other way to describe the tone he used to utter those few words.

Sugiura's gaze dropped to the floor, his will to settle things from before starting to disappear. "On your break, then? I- I can wait until you're done here too if that works."

The other man didn't respond, long enough to put Sugiura on edge and almost start to mentally beat himself up for interrupting him while he was at work. Almost a full minute later Yamada sighed, his body relaxing into one of defeat. "Alright...my shift ends in an hour, so I guess we can talk then. I have some time before my next job, so we can talk on the way there if we're not done by then."

Sugiura let out a nervous laugh as he brought up a hand to rub the back of his head. "That's almost what Jirou said yester-" Sugiura froze, his eyes widening slightly as Yamada tilted his head to the side, his curiosity quite clearly over-taking his 'I'm angry at you Sugiura-san!' feeling from just moments before. "Ah- nothing, it's nothing! I'll be waiting for you over there then!"

Sugiura blindly pointed in a random direction, which, lucky for him, was the small snack bar area for the visitors to the ice rink to take a break and warm up at. After quickly saying his goodbyes he very nearly ran to one of the farthest seats available and huddled there, heart beating loudly in his chest and a bright red flush on his cheeks that thankfully no one would question considering their current location.

It was nearly an hour and a half later by the time Yamada finally came around, by which time Sugiura was starting to drift off, a long-cooled mug of hot chocolate on the table in front of him. He actually didn't notice that Yamada had come until the other cleared his throat and sat across from him, his eyes locked onto a point off to the side.

Sugiura jerked up, blushing, and had to fight off the urge to rub the sleep away from his eyes. "A-are you done now?"

Yamada nodded, eyes still cast aside. "I'm sorry I'm a little late...my boss wanted to talk to me about something so I had to stay back for a while longer."

Sugiura waved it off, a nervous laugh slipping out. "Don't worry about it! It's not like I'm in a hurry to do anything after all!"

Yamada made a noncommittal sound in his throat, but otherwise didn't respond.

"S-so...um...I...are you...did I...do something wrong?" He wanted to say 'again', but he didn't really think that'd be all that...appropriate.

The other man sighed. "You didn't...it's...it's just me. Don't worry about it."

"Are you- are you sure? I mean, I know I'm not the most...intelligent person around or anything but I really get the feeling that you're mad at me. It...it has to do with what happened about the...hamburger, right? I'm sorry, Yamada...I just..."

"It's alright, really, Sugiura-san. I know I shouldn't-"

Sugiura cut him off roughly. "No, it's not 'alright'!" Yamada looked taken a back, but that didn't deter Sugiura from saying what needed to be said. "We've known each other for what, 10 years now? Don't you think maybe that by now I should get it? I- I mean, I know what your family's situation is like, so I know you'd want all the food and supplies that you can get your hands on because it's important to you. I know that, but why doesn't it seem like I understand it?

"A-and I know outside work we never really saw each other much so it's not like we really had all the time in the world to understand each other. It's just...I feel like I at least should be more conscious of the things I do around you because at least I'm in love with you and that's what people do when they...love...some...one..."

Sugiura froze, slack jawed, completely appalled at what he had just so easily admitted, when before he tried his damnedest to try and hide it. His face burst into a vibrant shade of red as Yamada's eyes locked with his in surprise.

He had not just said what he thought he said. He did not just admit his deepest secret to the very person it was about. He was definitely not stupid enough to do something like that.

"...Sugiura-san...? What...do you mean?"

His gaze shot to the side, frantically searching for something that could distract them away from their current topic, which would save him massive embarrassment at having to confess. Again. Even though he hadn't even meant to do so the first time. Lucky enough for him, a clock was what he ended up looking past. Quite obviously he changed the subject. "W-what time do you need to go to work at? I- it's almost 5:00...a-are you sure you won't be late?"

Out of the corner of his eye he could see that Yamada wanted to say something, but then he paused and sighed instead as he glanced at the clock Sugiura was looking at. "I probably should be going...the walk there's about 15 minutes, but my shift doesn't start until 5:30...I get paid extra for over time if I arrive early, though, so I guess it'd be best if I left now." Sugiura almost let out a sigh of relief (if Yamada left, he could go home and die from embarrassment alone), but Yamada spoke again, this time his attention on Sugiura. "You...would you come with me?"

Sugiura's eyes widened as he unconsciously turned his head to look at the other, his blush intensifying more. He fidgeted. "Wh- uh...okay.."

He knew the reason Yamada has asked him to accompany him had been so they could talk more, but really, after about 5 minutes of walking in silence it didn't really seem like talking was what the younger man had had in mind.

In the meantime, Sugiura busied himself by looking around and taking note of where they were in relation to both his apartment and the Yamada family home and discovered that they were actually about halfway between the two locations, and heading closer toward where Sugiura lived. He stuck that tidbit of information into the back of his mind as he sighed. Were they really not going to talk? It was that he didn't like to spend time with Yamada or anything...it was just, he was still juuust a little freaked out by the fact that he'd confessed and had received no definite answer in response. He hated being on edge like this...

A couple minutes later, Yamada was the first to break the silence.

"You know...Jirou talked to me this morning about you, Sugiura-san."

Sugiura jerked in surprise, his blush returning in full force. "A-ah. A-about what?"

"He wanted to know why it seemed like I only had high standards for you and not anyone else."

Sugiura looked at him in confusion, but Yamada kept looking ahead. "Wh- y-you do?"

He sighed. "Jirou says I do...that I'm a lot stricter with you." It took him a few moments to elaborate, but it didn't help with Sugiura's confusion any. "He says that I get annoyed quicker with you over mistakes you can't help making than with anyone else."

Sugiura couldn't fathom what he was supposed to mean by that. "...do you?"

"Mm...I think...he might be right. I think...it's because you're like family to me, in a way. I forget sometimes that you're really not."

"Eh?" Sugiura stopped, his jaw dropping in surprise. What did Yamada mean by that? Could it really be possible that he, too...

Sugiura mentally shook himself out of his thoughts as Yamada stopped a few paces ahead of him and turned around, a very light pink coloring his cheeks. Sugiura blinked at the unexpected – and entirely cute – reaction, but had no time to question it before Yamada spoke again.

"Un...I guess I got used to having you around that I forgot that you're not...like me."

"...ah..." The younger man was making a little more sense than before, but all wasn't clear quite yet either. "S-so why me, and not...Mimura or- or that Ikegami girl that comes around from time to time?"

Yamada smiled faintly as he resumed walking, Sugiura a step behind him. "I've known Mimura since our first day at Ichinomiya. He's a lot different than you are, so I can't really compare you two...he's also my brother-in-law and takes care of Yoshiko so I can't really complain about him...Ikegami's family is more mid-lower class, so she understands a little more than other people do, so I can't really complain about her either..."

"Hm..." Honestly that only cleared up a little more of the puzzle, but Sugiura figured he could live with it...for now, anyway. He was just pretty much glad that it appeared that Yamada had forgotten his impromptu confession from just a little while ago.

"Ah~ that's where I work, Sugiura-san!" Sugiura's gaze automatically followed Yamada's outstretched finger in the direction of a small tofu making shop. The other's voice rose a notch in excitement at sharing that bit of information with someone before he stopped, his expression turning serious once more, taking Sugiura quite off-guard at the roller coaster like changes. "Ne...Sugiura-san...Jirou told me to tell you something if you said it first, but at the time I wasn't sure if I could; I mean, it wasn't anything like what Takuya said it was like back in high school, but I think...I think I understand it better than back then thanks to my siblings all having grown up."

...Sugiura was completely lost. He stared at Yamada blankly, unsure of just where he was going with this. To his surprise, Yamada blushed again, this time more noticeably, and adverted his eyes toward the road.

"I like...you too, Sugiura-san."

And just like that, Sugiura's day had just become a thousands times better.

Author's Note: So what did you think? I'll be writing more and more Yamada Tarou fics in the coming times (both manga- and drama-based) featuring pretty much all the canon couples and not-really-canon couples, so until then! =3