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this deep normality settles down over me

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Closure is a dirty word he never uses. 

Coffee is just that, coffee. He arrives first, doesn’t wait for the other. Orders his coffee black and stirs sugar into when no one is looking. The bell at the door dings but he doesn’t raise his head, scrolling absently through the news on his phone until Yuugi slides into the seat across from him. 

His drink is milky, sticky sweet just like him and it seems like only days ago they were both boys just playing card games and—

No. Remembering is for him alone. 

The soft thud of a sneakered foot hits his carefully pressed slacks, his shin under the table, and he looks up at last, trying and failing to seem unconcerned. The future looks good on Yuugi’s face, and he feels the grin on the other’s face pull at the corner of his own lips.

“I’m glad you could come, Seto.” Yuugi says so softly he can barely hear him over the murmured din of the coffee shop around them. It’s so earnest that it hurts, and he shrugs it off, sets his phone down to take a drink. 

“I could spare a few minutes.”

“You’ve been staying busy.”

Seto quirks an eyebrow and Yuugi tells him his own news, the comings and going’s of Kaiba Corp like it’s nothing at all to keep up with.

It’s nothing to him, it all comes so natural. 

“How has the—“ he gives an absent wave of his wrist, like he doesn’t keep a scrolling tab on his phone, on his tablet, on his laptop tracking Yuugi’s name and everything that revolves around him. “Game design, am I right?”

For all that he tries to hold himself at arm’s length, there’s too much between them now to not fall into small talk, two friends catching up. Yuugi tells a joke and he chuckles and they order another drink. He lets Yuugi see his coffee ritual and the other says nothing of it, stirring cream into his own. 

It’s too easy. 

When the fading light hits him just right, for a moment he looks like him and it catches his breath in his throat. 

He loses the thread of conversation, his heart beating slow and loud in his ears and that smile slips away. 

“Are you alright?” It sounds hollow and he hates that he’s the cause of that. “You know — you understand I’m not him right?” There’s an edge to his words that pulls Seto back.

He blinks. “Do you ever miss him?” He asks, before he can stop himself.

“I’m moving on.” Rehearsed, it’s rehearsed, and neither of them believe it because it’s not an answer.

Seto nods like it’s the answer to everything. “Yeah. Me too.”

Coffee becomes dinner, Yuugi isn’t impressed by his wealth, by his getting a table in some fusion restaurant several months booked. Yuugi passes him the wine list and tells him he prefers reds, nothing dry. 

None of it matters and it’s a weight lifted. 

“When you called, the way you sounded, I thought you were going to challenge me to a duel.”

“I considered it.” Seto says, pours them both another glass. “But I’m a gentleman, I’ll take you to dinner first.”

Yuugi laughs, genuinely laughs at his joke and not because he’s being paid to do so. 

“So this is a date.”

Seto nearly chokes on his wine, and Yuugi grins over the top of his menu.

It’s not an answer.

This new normal settles between them. He nearly forgets his projects, his obsessions, the memories given form and the gold flecks of dust that were the last connection they had to him. It stays at the back of his mind, never truly leaving.

Yuugi texts him from downstairs, calling him away from work for lunch. He tells himself five more minutes, and twenty minutes later Yuugi is in the doorway of his office, black hair pulled up into a messy bun, somehow a vision in sweatpants and one of Seto’s shirts. 

“You’re doing it again.”

He moves to cover the sketches with some other folder. “Doing what?”

“Working too hard.” Yuugi comes to perch on the corner of his desk. “It’s not going anywhere, but lunch is getting cold.”

He pries himself from his work and follows him downstairs, their fingers intertwined so gently it hurts. 

Days pass, or maybe weeks, maybe months. 

They’re having a smoke on the balcony, looking out as the sun settles into the skyline like a bruise. 

“You’re thinking about him.”

Seto says nothing, watches the embers flare and burn at the end of Yuugi’s cigarette, watches him exhale blue smoke, watches it circle up and over his head like some obscene halo. 

“Sometimes I forget, sometimes I talk to myself and expect to hear an answer.”

Still nothing. He feels ashamed, feels it burning in his chest, in his veins, like he’s done something wrong. 

“I miss him too, you know.”

He can’t even imagine. To have someone, another part of himself that simply leaves one day. Because that’s what he did, he left him, he left them. 

And he feels selfish for thinking it selfish of him. 

“It’s not selfish,” Yuugi says, not looking at him, and he didn’t realize he had said it out loud. “It’s just, you know, how things turned out.”

“Are you alright?”

Yuugi flinches, and he wishes he could take it all back. He wishes he could go back to that day in the coffee shop and close his eyes when the sun hit him just right. Just a moment, a blink, and maybe they would still be here but this heaviness between them wouldn’t be.

“I’m fine.”

“You know that’s not —“ He swallows, tosses the cigarette end over the balcony and cuts off Yuugi’s protest about litter. “I know you’re not him.”

“You’re not disappointed?”

Seto moves, feeling awkward in his own body, like his limbs are not his, like his skin and bones and muscles are pulled by invisible strings. But then his fingertips brush against Yuugi’s arm and he comes rushing back into himself with a sharp breath from between clenched teeth. 

“Of course not.” He says in a gasp, pulls the other man closer to him. There’s a sharpness to his words in all their earnest, bared truth and Yuugi digs his fingers into his back and holds on tight. 

He rests his chin on top of Yuugi’s head and chuckles, “Still so short.”

“Fucker.” But there’s laughter in it. 

The moon is rising, the stars are bright above them. Closure is a dirty word he never uses but this may be the closest to god he has ever felt.