Reading some works from Souseki -sensei always did the trick to help him relax and then go to sleep. Tonight that's not the case, Yuzuru can't concentrate and he's on the same page he's been since thirty minutes ago. His thoughts keep deviating from the book into his friend, Kume Masao.
It's been almost five months since Yuzuru has been living in the National Library, he's been talking to Kume more, they have gone together to watch plays, just the two of them, after a certain talk they had when Kume felt left out… and the talks he has with the fellow author always keep him entertained. Yuzuru thinks Kume must be having fun with him too; his friend is still somehow awkward but the small shy smiles Kume shows towards him when he's really into their conversation are proof that things are going well.
Just like before… No, it isn’t.
Yuzuru won't lie to himself, all those years living under the scrutinous looks from society and having the ones that were supposed to be his friends only shoving him away and closing the doors he once took for granted they were going to be always opened… saying that it doesn't hurt anymore would be a lie.
But the hate he felt in those days disappeared over the years. The good memories he had of his friendship with Kume were stronger in the end. Yuzuru wants to move out and for him that first step is forgiveness. To forgive the one he called his best friend back then, before life went downhill straight to hell. He wants to build that relationship again and hope this time lasts until the last day they are needed in the Library. And after that, whichever their souls may end. Together, sharing the same fate, with Kume.
The reason he's still awake and unable to concentrate on Natsume -sensei' s book isn't because things are working well with Kume, of course not, that itself would be reason enough to sleep peacefully every night. Ever since Yuzuru saw Kume about to cry in relief knowing he was safe when they were inside the magazine and then he even offered to stay behind with him and disappear together… Yuzuru isn’t sure he has only platonic feelings for Kume anymore. Lately his reactions towards Kume's shy smiles makes Yuzuru feel butterflies in his stomach and when their hands accidentally touch while walking besides each other, even when they both wear gloves for god’s sake! Yuzuru's heart starts beating so damn hard it may as well break his ribs.
Yuzuru is really craving a drink or two right now. Lucky for him, the Library has a bar. How convenient.
What are the odds, really. Finding his friend Kume, the same friend giving him certain kinds of feelings he’s currently trying to ignore, getting wasted at the bar with that drinking buddy of his Yuzuru heard about in some of their talks, Naoki Sanjuugo. The latter is laughing really loud while Kume is trying to sit straight and not falling asleep.
“Oho? Look who the night brought. Hey Kume, your friend is here!”
“Uh? Matsuoka is here?”
And there goes Yuzuru’s heart again, skipping a beat. The man hasn’t even looked in his direction and the first name that comes from Kume’s mouth is his. Yuzuru has it bad. And it shouldn’t be this way, not after the whole situation with... her.
“Matsuoka, is really you!”
Kume’s smile while saying Yuzuru’s name illuminates the whole room.
It’s the first time Yuzuru sees a smile like that wearing Kume’s face. Not even back then, when they were alive Yuzuru had the opportunity to witness such sight. Is he still awake? Maybe he fell asleep in his room and he’s having a nice dream…
“Man look at the time!”
Naoki’s voice interrupts Yuzuru’s thoughts. He’s standing now and he’s watching his wrist.
“It’s so late and the Librarian needs me early in the morning! See you later!”
And he just leaves like that. Yuzuru is a bit confused, Naoki wasn’t wearing a wrist watch and also there are at least twenty clocks hanging in the walls as decoration but all of them are working and oh! He’s right, it‘s really late. Yuzuru didn’t notice it was this late when he went outside his room. Maybe he should give up on having a drink for now.
“I should retire for the night too… Ahh!”
Yuzuru’s body moves before he can even process what’s happening. He gets a hold of Kume before his butt impacts the bar’s floor. That was really close.
“How much did you drink, you can’t even stand geez…”
“I d-don’t... remember?”
It hits Yuzuru then that their actual position could count as him hugging Kume from behind. His arms are around Kume’s waist and because his hat fell Yuzuru can smell his shampoo and oh no his heartbeat, yet again, betrays him.
Please don’t notice it .
“C-can you hold yourself for a bit? I’ll grab your hat and then I’ll help you walk towards your room.”
His voice sounded at least an octave higher than usual. He’s lucky Kume is so drunk right now he can’t differentiate left from right, because if that weren’t the case, Kume would have noticed the mess Yuzuru is in less than a second. Anyways, with his hands trembling a bit, Yuzuru helps Kume support himself in the same stool he was sitting in a moment ago.
“Aren’t you going to drink something?”
Yuzuru doesn’t know if it’s because Kume’s low speech pattern is mixed with the alcohol in his system or the gods are playing jokes on him, but Kume sounded so damn cute and he also looks so relaxed and in peace, he might die from a heart attack if he keeps looking at him… Yuzuru pull yourself together and grab the hat please .
“Y-yeah I was going to…? But I didn’t notice it was so late.”
There, hat grabbed. Now he’s going to fit it where it belongs, Kume’s head… covered by his messy hair which looks so soft. He wants to touch it. So. Bad. Again his body moves without his mind processing what’s going on and his right hand starts petting Kume’s head. The glove he’s wearing doesn’t let him feel if Kume’s hair is soft as it looks like so maybe he should take it off...
“Hmm… that feels good.”
Yuzuru stops what his hand is doing right away. His friend is in a vulnerable state and he’s taking advantage of him! Oh gods, what is wrong with him.
“Y-you had some... dust in there! Yeah, dust. I took it off.”
“Oh... thank you.”
Kume please forgive me.
In the end Yuzuru decides to hold onto the hat to keep his hands busy.
“Do you think you can walk by yourself?”
“... I think I’ll fall again.”
Yuzuru can do this. Yes. He’s just going to help his friend walk. Nothing else. If he allows himself to stick near Kume it’s because Kume needs Yuzuru’s body as support, not because Kume’s body feels warm and comforting. If Kume uses his shoulder to rest his head and Yuzuru can feel Kume’s breath in his neck, he’s going to ignore it even if that makes his own legs feel weak, as if the one drunk was him.
It’s just a 5 minutes walk but the distance to Kume’s room never felt so far.
“There! Safe and sound!”
Yuzuru helps Kume sit on the edge of his bed and he’s done. Goal accomplished! And just in time because Kume looks as if he’s going to fall asleep at any second. Yuzuru would help Kume take some of his clothes off so his friend sleeps more comfortably but he’s seriously at his limit and he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself if his mind goes blank and does something like touching Kume’s hair again without his consent… unforgivable.
Before leaving Kume so he can sleep in peace, Yuzuru notices his glasses. Kume will probably fall asleep on them and that’s not good; Yuzuru doesn’t want his friend to wake up with crooked or broken glasses in the morning, so at least he’s going to help Kume take those off.
Yuzuru has to bend a bit to be on the same height as Kume and be able to take off his glasses carefully. There, slowly…
His knees hit the floor when he’s surprised by Kume, who suddenly grabs his left wrist.
Kume’s eyes are fully opened now. He's looking directly into Yuzuru's.
He knows what you did. He knows how you feel. He's going to push you away again .
"… your gloves are in the way."
The only thing Yuzuru is capable of doing is looking back mesmerized at Kume’s eyes. Keeping eye contact, Kume brings Yuzuru’s gloved hand near his mouth, bites the fabric covering Yuzuru’s index finger and slowly pulls, taking it off.
The glove falls, ending lost and forgotten in the space between them.
Kume holds Yuzuru’s hand gently. Yuzuru notices Kume is also wearing gloves, and his last coherent thought is hey isn’t that in the way too, before Kume starts kissing it. The back of it, over the knuckles, his lips ghosting over Yuzuru’s fingers. Yuzuru’s mind goes blank.
What is going on.
Kume goes lower, stopping on Yuzuru’s wrist. Kume places a kiss on his pulse point. But this one lasts longer and Yuzuru can feel Kume’s warm breath and the slight touch of his teeth. His whole being trembles at how good that felt.
But this is wrong…!
Yuzuru pulls his hand away from Kume in a rather brusque move. Why is Kume doing this to him? Yuzuru can think about only one option. Kume is drunk so he’s seeing another person in front of him. Is he seeing... her ?
Whoever Kume is projecting on him, right now that doesn’t matter. The only important thing is that Kume is drunk and Yuzuru isn’t and he feels he’s taking advantage of that. Yuzuru needs to leave now . But then Kume decides to throw his mostly dead weight on Yuzuru, and both fall on the floor, Kume on top of him. Kume’s face ends a few centimeters away from Yuzuru’s and so he can smell how Kume’s breath reeks of alcohol. Yuzuru doesn’t even mind the smell because all he can think about right now is how near Kume’s lips are from his and he can’t stop staring at them.This is why he doesn’t miss when Kume’s lips start moving to say some words.
“Don’t leave me alone… please.”
Kume’s voice is just a whisper and it sounds so fragile, ready to break at any moment.
Yuzuru finally can get his thoughts together. He’s been acting like a fool the whole night, thinking only about how he feels. What a selfish man he is.
Now Kume needs him, that’s the only thing that matters now. Even when he isn’t the person Kume is looking at, Yuzuru will be there for him, like Kume was there for him inside the tainted magazine.
“I won’t leave you alone, ever again.”
Kume’s head falls over Yuzuru’s shoulder. Yuzuru thinks he heard a soft thank you but he isn’t sure. He tries to make Kume get up to make him repeat what he said but the man isn’t responding. Yuzuru is about to get worried until he hears a strong snore coming from Kume.
“Did you really fall asleep on top of me? On the floor?... Hahaha!”
A few minutes pass before Yuzuru can stop laughing. This whole situation is ridiculous. He’s been a mess the whole time he was with Kume and when he finally puts himself together, he can’t move because his friend passed out on top of him. What a time to be alive… or whatever his state is in this second chance he has.
Yuzuru knows he has to move Kume so he can get free from Kume’s weight. But he’s feeling tired. Yuzuru is going to close his eyes, but only for a bit so he can recover some strength and maybe lift his friend so he can sleep on his bed and not on the floor. Actually, the floor doesn’t feel that uncomfortable… and it’s kinda warm…...
Yuzuru never opens his eyes again until the next morning.