It had become a common sort of thing, these days.
When Yuki was smaller, he was invited for sleepovers and birthday parties, quite often in fact. But time and time again, he would reject them out of fear or nervousness, opting to stay home. He would instead keep quiet in the comfort of his room, with his clothing, and his furniture, things that aren't foreign to him and are the usual, things that can't hurt him.
But, now it was rather common. It started with one invitation, then two, then a third, and now every other weekend, he spent with Natsuki.
At first he was nervous at the possibility of going to Natsuki's house—what his father would say or do, what he himself would mess up, accidentally breaking something—anything at all was at stake here, anything terrible could happen.
Natsuki guessed at this, and tried to reassure Yuki best he could.
"It'll be okay, I promise. No one will bother you and you won't bother anyone, it'll be just fine."
After a few minutes of convincing, he had ended up staying at Natsuki's house. It was small, well lived in, and rather cozy. They had simply had dinner together, taken a long walk, come back, talked, and promptly fell asleep.
And that's what happened every other week for a few months now. Natsuki would cook, Yuki would do light cleaning out of habit, they would share a meal and few kind words, and spend the night together.
This routine is probably what caused the current situation to feel so odd.
It had been a Friday night, Yuki and Natsuki hadn't made any plans. It was cloudy, cold, and bad weather was coming soon from what it looked like.
Yuki and his grandmother were in the kitchen, he at the table while she made tea. Haru was upstairs taking a bath, and had been for an hour.
'Who on earth takes baths that long?' he couldn't help but wonder but Yuki tried not to question it, as he still heard Haru speaking or humming every so often from the upstairs bathroom. 'At least he's okay.'
Kate would simply smile as she prepared and poured the tea into two separate cups, placing them at the table and sighing.
Yuki had smiled and simply started speaking about his day when asked, then inquiring Kate about her own, the flowers; anything that he could ask at all. This was a time of the week they could take peacefully and quietly, enjoying the company.
She would reply happily but still with a calm voice, a tone she had used with Yuki all through his childhood.
When they were by themselves, sometimes one of the two would accidentally slip into a bit of the French language, neither helping it. But they would carry on in French, and neither would seem to mind. It was interesting to hear it after speaking Japanese every day, a nice change of pace, comforting.
Afterwards, Kate would remove the two cups and Yuki would wander upstairs, do homework, and go to bed. It was just another night, and he was always one to sleep early, nothing unusual. He had just changed into warm clothes, yawned, and ruffled his hair.
Just as he had turned back the covers of his bed, he heard a shrill buzz.
"The door bell?" He wondered aloud, curiously walking out into the hall. 'It's ten at night, though.'
"I'll get it!" Came a cheerful voice.
Haru had bound from the couch in the living room, quickly answering the door before Kate could reach it.
'Natsuki!? What is he doing here!?'
He heard the two of them exchange a few words as he walked down to greet him.
Yuki really didn't know what to think. He glanced at the door, but from what he could see, Natsuki didn't look very well. His hair was tangled, he was completely pale, and looked like he was struggling to even get the words out as he spoke to Haru.
"Natsuki?" He asked quietly, walking towards the door.
He simply looked up, apologetically. A pause. "Sorry for coming over without warning, tonight."
Yuki took note of the backpack he had on, tilting his head a little as Haru began to calm down.
"N-no, it's fine!" He smiled and asks Haru to go get a blanket from the closet before turning his attention back to his friend.
"It's cold outside, come inside, okay?" He stepped out of the way for his friend to step into the entry way, watching him crouch down and untie his shoes.
Yuki knelt down before saying another word.
Yuki looked down.
"If you want to stay the night, you can."
There was no worded response, but Natsuki looked up at Yuki and smiled with an expression that seemed to say "Thank you."
He stood and offered a hand to Natsuki, helping him up. His skin was cold from the weather tonight, and he looked up at him, worried.
"Do you need anything warm to drink? A change of clothes?"
Natsuki simply shook his head as Yuki lead them into the living room, where Haru had pulled out a blanket, a newer one, from the closet.
"Here you go, Yuki!" He had laid it in his lap, and Yuki offered it to Natsuki.
"Take it, please? You're freezing cold."
He took it, unfolding it and balling his hands into the warm fabric, staying quiet. Finally, a sigh, and he pressed the warm blanket to his cheeks and smiled a little.
Yuki smiled, telling him it was no big deal. "You're always welcome, okay? No worries."
The three of them sat there, talking and laughing for a while. Natsuki had come out of what looked to be shell, and started laughing as well, eyes becoming a little brighter.
Yuki had made hot chocolate, and they continued speaking well into the night.
Finally, the clock had struck it as 12 in the morning.
"Ah, it's really late, now, isn't it?" Yuki had asked. He glanced at Haru who had fallen asleep moments ago on the couch, curled up and breathing steady, blonde hair falling over his closed eyes.
The smile Natsuki once had faded, and he looked back down at the blanket in his lap, hand occasionally coming up to his face, wiping.
Yuki noticed, stood, and offered his hand once more.
"Let's go upstairs, okay?"
He told Natsuki to go change into warm clothes, and when he came back, a steady rain had began to pour, and Yuki flicked out the lights. The two stayed quiet as they sat next to each other on the bed.
It was silent for a few moments, until Yuki had heard a few soft sounds.
Quiet little sobs, so hushed that if there were one more person there, you wouldn't be able to hear them.
He turned to his friend, looking at his face buried in his hands, shoulders shaking ever so slightly, his outline barely visible in the darkened room.
He doesn't know what had overcome him, but he did it. He leaned over, and hugged Natsuki.
A tight hug, letting his hand stroke his hair, working out small tangles and letting his finger tips ghost over the skin of his neck, letting the boy nuzzle into his shoulder and letting the warm tears soak into his shirt. He moved his hand from his neck to his back, rubbing up and down, languid circles.
It was quiet, now. The soft sobs had ceased, but they stayed this way. Finally, he spoke.
"I miss her."
Yuki's eyes shut lightly, hugging his friend a little tighter than before.
"She was such a kind person, I miss her so much." His voice was barely above a whisper, creaking a little in the silent room, with only the sound of the rain to provide protection to his soft words.
Yuki didn't know what to say, so he didn't say anything. He just stayed there, holding Natsuki, tucking his hair behind his ear and whispering quiet nothings. "It'll be okay." "I'll stay here with you." After a while, Natsuki's breathing had returned to normal, and he leaned into Yuki a little more.
He nuzzled Yuki's shoulder, feeling the soft fabric of his shirt and the warmth of his neck, calming him down a little more.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled. "I came over unannounced, I didn't even ask—and I caused you trouble and bothered y-" "Hush."
Natsuki pursed his lips, and let out a sigh.
"Thank you, Yuki."
Eventually, Natsuki lay down on the comforter of Yuki's bed, curling up a little. Yuki followed suit, shutting his eyes.
Natsuki founds Yuki's hand, resting his atop the others.
Yuki's eyes fluttered open.
"Sorry," he mumbled. "You're really… warm."
Yuki blushed a little, shutting his eyes again.
"I don't mind it; I was just a little startled is all."
Natsuki smiled a true smile for the first time all day.
"Spend the night at my house tomorrow?"
Yuki let his fingers fall between Natsuki's.
"Of course," he smiled. He locked eyes with Natsuki, blushing a little.
And he couldn't help it. He hugged Yuki tightly, nuzzling his hair, breathing in the faint scent of apples and tea.
And he didn't feel nervous. Yuki didn't try to pry him away, or hyperventilate, or feel the water rise. He wasn't scared of being this close to Natsuki or having it happen so suddenly.
The hug loosened, and they both shut their eyes, mumbling things before falling asleep, a very peaceful sleep.
"You're a good friend."
"So are you, you know."
"Thank you for letting me in."
"Well, you can come over any time you'd like, don't worry."
Natsuki smiled to himself.
'Thank you for letting me inside your quiet life.'