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He’s drunk the first time it hits him—at least, the first time he lets it hit him—stumbling home with Touma after a night at the bar. It’s the winter break of his last year at university, and Taichi hasn't seen Touma in person for almost five months. The world’s spinning a little, and the two of them stop for a moment at a street corner so that Taichi can catch his breath. He leans his head back against a streetlamp, sucking in the cold air and breathing it out in steamy puffs, watching his breath drift out from the light pooling at their feet and into the surrounding darkness.

“You alright, man?”

Touma’s beside him, the broad shape of his shoulders such a familiar, welcome sight that something catches in Taichi’s throat. Horrifyingly, he feels tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. He blinks them away rapidly. Why does he always get so maudlin when he’s drunk?

“Fine,” he rasps out.

Touma grasps his arm, looking at him in concern. “Trying to keep up with Shingo’s always a bad idea. I think you’ve hit your limit.“ Touma’s face, Touma’s voice—suddenly, it’s all too much. Taichi can feel Touma’s thumb resting lightly on the inside of his elbow. It feels as if an electric current is passing straight from his thumb into Taichi’s body. He’s trembling, Taichi realizes distantly.


Taichi forces himself to bring his eyes up to meet Touma’s, hoping he doesn’t look too pathetic, even though he feels a sudden split urge to either leap out of his body or stay rooted to the spot forever. Touma hasn’t removed his hand, and the light pressure is still sending out a bright zing! that jangles his nerves and sets his teeth on edge. He grits them and leans his head forward until it’s resting on Touma’s chest, grabbing ahold of Touma’s jacket to steady himself.

Touma’s voice comes out higher than normal. “Um, Tai? Wh-what’s going on? Are you feeling sick? Do you need to see a doctor? Man, I really shouldn’t have let you take that extra shot.”

Taichi closes his eyes, feeling the rumble of Touma’s voice as he speaks. “Just a little dizzy,” he mumbles into Touma’s jacket. “Give me a minute.”

Touma shifts uncomfortably, starts to stay something, stops, and starts again. “Look, Tai…”

“I missed you,” Taichi says drowsily. When he breathes in, Touma smells like everything that’s warm and clean and good in the world. He feels Touma sigh.

“I missed you too,” says Touma, but his voice takes on an unhappy edge.

“Sorry I got like this,” Taichi says into Touma’s shirt. “I shouldn’t’ve…” Touma’s always doing this, always taking care of him. Even after everything that’s happened—urgh—why is he so— “Why’re you so good to me?”

Touma tenses. “Don’t ask me that,” he says tersely. He pushes Taichi off of him, and suddenly Taichi's swaying backwards. His head bangs back into the lamppost with a resounding DONG.

“S-sorry! I didn't mean-“

“’S okay,” Taichi says, wincing. Touma stands frozen, hand stretched halfway into the empty space between them, as if he can't quite bear to close the distance. Taichi sucks in a couple more chilly breaths, straightens up, and takes an experimental step forward. He stumbles, almost landing flat on his face, and Touma quickly grabs his arm to steady him. Why is he so… The lump in Taichi’s throat returns. His cheeks burn hot with shame.

Patiently, silently, without looking at him, Touma walks Taichi the rest of the way home.