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Every step and broken dream, it lead to us

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1.

He should really stop doing that. Kurosawa knew that he was going down a slippery slope, but he just couldn’t help himself. Ever since that night when Adachi had helped him, his eyes somehow kept searching for him and he felt oddly calmer whenever he could catch a glimpse of the other man. 

He had tried talking to him afterwards, at least to thank him again, but that conversation hadn’t really led anywhere. Adachi seemed to be incredibly shy and reserved, barely even looking him in the eyes. And yet Kurosawa knew Adachi had smiled at him that night, really smiled, and he couldn’t get that image out of his head. For some reason he didn’t fully understand yet, he needed to see that smile again. 

Which was why he was here again in the cafeteria, having managed to take his lunch break at the same time as Adachi so he could steal glances at him. If he was more confident, he would go sit with him, offering to eat together, but… Adachi would get uncomfortable, wouldn’t he? 

Kurosawa huffed quietly. No one here - except Adachi, he supposed - would probably believe he was capable of having confidence issues. The image he projected to the world was a flawless one, after all… But he was so tired of it. If he could have someone, just one person in his life who saw him for who he really was, then it would be a lot easier to play the part for everyone else. 

That night, Adachi had seen him. Was it ridiculous for him to be holding on to that moment so strongly?

He looked up from his cup of coffee and his heart skipped a beat. Adachi was smiling - that same bright smile Kurosawa had seen the other night. He wasn’t eating his usual convenience store food for once; he had brought a homemade bento. Kurosawa was suddenly glad he had overheard Urabe-san ask Adachi what he had done during the weekend, because this way he knew Adachi had visited his family. So, it was likely that his mother had prepared him that lunch… and not a girlfriend. 

Kurosawa couldn’t bear the thought of Adachi having a girlfriend. He knew it was selfish but… He wanted to be the one to make Adachi smile like that. If he could figure out what food Adachi liked, he could learn how to best prepare it. He would happily wake up early to make him a bento; it would also be a lot healthier than the food he always bought. 

And then, maybe, once Kurosawa would be done preparing their lunches, Adachi would wake up and join him for breakfast. He would still be in his pajamas, his hair sticking out here and there, and he would smile up at Kurosawa with still-sleepy eyes.

If he could see that smile every morning, Kurosawa’s life would be so much brighter. 

That thought suddenly made Kurosawa choke on his food, and he coughed a few times to catch his breath. This was only supposed to be a small crush, something manageable that would go away on its own after a little while. He wasn’t supposed to start picturing them living together… And he certainly wasn’t supposed to feel his heart clench at that thought.

Oh dear… Yuichi, you’ve got it bad, haven’t you?

 


 

2.

Kurosawa had just had the worst day. That sales meeting had been horrible, and he knew that it had only worked out thanks to that lady vice-president who had been sending him suggestive looks the whole time. He hated it, hated that he had had to smile through it all so he could get the contract in the end, hated that he had to be reminded once again how so many people saw him as just a pretty face. He also hated that it had been three years already since the night Adachi had helped him and he still couldn’t stop thinking of him on days like these.

He couldn’t stop thinking about him, period. It was ridiculous, Adachi never even looked his way… He had just been nice that night, because that was the way Adachi was. He was nice to everyone, too nice, really; Kurosawa always had to hold himself back whenever he saw Urabe-san pushing work on him. He couldn’t just butt in, after all - it wasn’t his place, and it would only inconvenience Adachi. 

Kurosawa was already inconveniencing him enough with those unrequited feelings. Why couldn’t he let go of them? Why couldn’t he stop looking at him, wanting to learn everything about him? Why couldn’t he stop thinking about Adachi every morning as he woke up, wishing he could see him still asleep next to him… Why…

As he pushed the door to his apartment, Kurosawa felt miserable. Of course it had to have started raining; of course there had been no cabs from the station and he hadn't brought an umbrella. He was soaked; he was freezing; he hated himself… And of course, all he could do when he turned on the lights was picture Adachi lounging on his couch, smiling up at him and saying “Welcome home.”

I’m such a mess.

Kurosawa squeezed his eyes shut, trying to will the vision away. He didn’t want to be thinking about Adachi on his couch, reading a manga, wearing soft sweatpants and a comfortable hoodie. He didn’t want to be thinking about his beautiful, sweet smile; he didn’t want to imagine Adachi’s eyes lighting up upon seeing him. He couldn’t do it anymore, it was too painful.

He leaned against the doorframe and let his body slip to the floor, immediately hugging his knees and burying his head in his arms. He should get out of his wet clothes; he would likely catch a cold if he stayed like this but he didn’t care. He was so tired of everything. He had thought of changing jobs - if he didn’t see Adachi every day he might be able to move on, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The idea of not seeing him anymore was somehow worse than knowing nothing would ever happen between them. 

Maybe, if Adachi got in a relationship, he would do it. Kurosawa wasn’t sure he could handle seeing Adachi with someone. He hated that he thought like that - he wanted Adachi to be happy, truly, but a part of him wished Adachi could be happy with him. After all, Kurosawa would do anything for Adachi. If only he could… If only he had the chance, the opportunity to show Adachi how special he was to him.

If only he had the courage to approach him… 

But Adachi wouldn’t like it, would he? Whenever their eyes met and Kurosawa smiled at him, Adachi only nodded and quickly looked away. It was obvious he didn’t want them to be anything more than colleagues. 

He raised his head again and looked around the house, reminiscing all the times he had imagined Adachi being there with him. His mind was so full of those images, of that soft smile and those beautiful eyes, he could picture everything all too well, but…

But it was all pointless. Those visions, those dreams, they would never come to be. He really needed to stop, didn’t he? Continuing would only serve to hurt himself. 

Then again… If he didn’t have that, what did he have? He was good at his job; he was popular, but it was all empty and fake. In a way, his feelings for Adachi, those dreams, they were the only real things in his life. Maybe it hurt, but… maybe pain was better than numbness. At least it reminded him that he was alive.

 


 

3.

“Thank you,” Adachi had said, holding up the chocolate with a smile that reached his eyes - the smile Kurosawa loved the most.

That scene, Kurosawa couldn’t stop replaying it in his mind as he walked home that night. Valentine’s had always been a dreaded day for him, even before he fell in love with Adachi. His feelings the past few years had only made it all harder. Having to fake his smile while a never ending stream of female colleagues swarmed around him with so-called “true love” chocolate was getting more and more difficult as the years went by. 

True love… Right, what a joke, he thought, scoffing derisively. There was no love put in those chocolates. It was only some misplaced admiration. The man they supposedly loved was only a dreamed-up persona constructed from superficial observation. Who among those women would actually love him if they saw him for who he truly was? An imperfect human being, just like everyone else. 

It didn’t matter either way; Kurosawa wasn’t interested in any of them. The one person he loved was the one who would never give him homemade chocolate, and to whom Kurosawa couldn’t give any either. One could accuse him of being the same as those women, of misplacing admiration for love - but Kurosawa knew it was different. Sure, all he knew about Adachi came from watching him at work, but… He wasn’t idealizing him. He wanted to know everything about Adachi, including his flaws, and everything that made him into that caring, selfless, beautiful human being who had touched Kurosawa’s heart all those years ago.

Kurosawa sighed deeply as he stopped in front of his apartment complex. I’m hopeless, aren’t I? He knew it wasn’t healthy to continue obsessing over Adachi. Truthfully, he had known this for six years now… There wasn’t any hope of his feelings ever being returned, so why keep torturing himself? What was he going to do? Spend the rest of his life mournfully wishing things were different? 

He stepped inside his living room and of course, Adachi wasn’t there to welcome him home. Kurosawa had lost track of how many times he had imagined that scene by now. Some days, it was a comforting thought, a daydream he allowed himself to indulge in. It would take root inside his mind well enough that he would spend his evening picturing them spending a quiet night together, and he would somehow be able to ignore the gap with reality. Other days, well… That gap was suddenly glaringly obvious - a dark pit of hopelessness that would swallow him whole and he would spend the night hating himself. 

Kurosawa supposed that the happiness he felt on the good days, never mind how fake it was, was the main reason he still couldn’t let go of his feelings. That, and the way his heart soared on the rare occasion he could see Adachi's smile at work. 

Speaking of, his mind went back to their earlier encounter, and Kurosawa couldn’t help but smile as well as he recalled Adachi’s expression when he gave him those chocolates. Granted, he wished he could have given him something he would have made himself, and in a better manner, but… He supposed he should take what he could get. 

In a different world, maybe, a different timeline, Kurosawa would have been able to surprise Adachi with homemade chocolate. Adachi would have looked up at him with his beautiful bright eyes, his smile lighting up the entire room as he thanked him. And maybe, in that world, Kurosawa wouldn’t have had to resist holding him for looking so cute, and Adachi would have held him back. Then, if Kurosawa had also given him the chocolates at work, they would have gone home together, hand in hand, and Kurosawa would have prepared a nice candlelit dinner…

Sighing, Kurosawa let himself fall back onto his couch. He grabbed a pillow in his arms and buried his face in it. The gap between his dream and reality was there, but somehow it wasn’t beckoning him too much. Maybe that small interaction they had had at work had been enough of a small victory for Kurosawa to be able to bask in it for the night. 

Rolling over onto his side, he closed his eyes and allowed his mind to drift off for a moment, pretending it was Adachi he was holding in his arms. 

 


 

4.

“You can… stay here as long as you like.”

Kurosawa felt his brain stop for a moment upon hearing those words from Adachi - words he had imagined way too many times but never let himself believe he would ever be lucky enough to actually hear. And yet…

He knew Adachi was still talking, something about Kurosawa’s sister and having taken care of him while he was sick, but Kurosawa barely registered his voice. His mind was still fixating on Adachi offering to let him stay over… for as long as he liked… 

Alright, don’t run off too wild with that idea Yuichi… You know he didn’t mean it like that…

Ah, but… 

Kurosawa just couldn’t help it. This was beyond everything he had ever imagined would happen… How did he get so lucky those past few weeks? From helping Adachi at work, to having him stay over at his place, then Adachi inviting him for a meal - even though that didn’t end up happening… After all those years of watching Adachi from afar, it was as though the barrier between them had suddenly started to crumble, allowing Kurosawa to finally get close to this amazing man. 

Then again, he had been trying to rein in his enthusiasm after the aborted kiss at the izakaya, seeing as Adachi had been avoiding him a little. He had gotten a bit too carried away on that rooftop; Kurosawa had realized it afterwards, and had gotten really worried he might have scared Adachi away… 

But now...

The idea of staying at Adachi’s for a while, even if Adachi obviously only meant it as friends… It felt almost too good to be true. Could he really have that? Coming back here every evening, being able to fall asleep near him, and wake up every morning to see his adorable bedhead… 

“Then I guess I’ll stay here for the time being,” Kurosawa said, doing his best not to let his face betray all the excitement he was feeling.

Is this really happening? I wonder how long I could reasonably stay. I shouldn’t abuse the situation either. I guess I will see if he seems uncomfortable… In any case…

His fingers brushed Adachi’s as he handed him the bowl of porridge. It was such a small touch, yet it felt electrifying. Today, October 28th, will be the anniversary of my cohabitation with Adachi, Kurosawa allowed himself to think. After all, if there was one time he could allow himself to indulge in his daydreams, it was definitely now. 

He just had to keep his expectations realistic somehow. Snuggling under the covers in Adachi’s bed was likely to be out of the question, but he could always cook for him, right? Breakfast, dinner… Even lunch if he stayed over on a weekend… After all, if Adachi let him stay here, that was the least he could do to thank him. He could discover more of Adachi’s favorite foods and prepare them for him, then be rewarded with his beautiful smile. 

Really, just any aspect of daily life would get so much better when shared with Adachi. Even something as simple as folding laundry or tidying up, if they were to chat and laugh together, it would simply become another fun activity. They could also spend quiet evenings together, just sitting down, reading a book, sharing the same space… Maybe he would steal glances at Adachi - oh how he would love to see his reactions when reading a new manga, or playing a video game.  

It was going to be the best. Kurosawa would get so many new insights into Adachi’s personality and the way he lived his life. Even if it was only going to be temporary, he would let himself enjoy their sweet life together while it lasted. After all, this might be the closest he would ever get to making his dreams come true.

“Don’t get burned,” Kurosawa told Adachi with a smile. And that goes for you too, Yuichi, he thought to himself.

 


 

5.

Kurosawa had never really been excited about Christmas before. Usually, he would get sick of hearing those same songs on repeat in every shopping mall and seeing all the illuminations, all this to end up spending the night alone, wishing Adachi was with him. Pretty much every holiday targeted towards couples only used to serve as a reminder that Adachi would never be his and that he should move on already.

But, evidently, he had never been able to move on - and he was so glad he hadn't. All of those years of watching from afar, all of those times hope had turned to heartbreak - everything, it had all been worth it. Because Adachi was in his life now, for real. Kurosawa had seen Adachi smile at him in the mornings; he had held his hand; he had laughed with him and held him tight… It all felt like a dream still, and Kurosawa wanted to hold on to it for as long as possible. 

Forever, if he was being honest. They hadn’t been dating for very long yet, but Kurosawa never wanted it to end. It was everything he had ever hoped for, and more even. Adachi was such a beautiful person inside out, and all Kurosawa wanted was to spend the rest of his life making him smile. If he could do just that, then Kurosawa would live out his days as a happy man.

Kurosawa stopped in front of a jewelry store. Their very first official date was coming up, and he was trying to make sure everything would be perfect. He wanted to give Adachi something symbolic, a token of his love for him, a reminder of what they were to each other…

His eyes fell on the rings. 

Am I really thinking about this?  

Giving Adachi a ring was something he had thought about many times over the years, whenever he would allow the daydreams to go a little too far… He would imagine himself going down on one knee, presenting Adachi with a box containing two shining platinum bands, and Adachi would smile at him as he would hold out his hand for Kurosawa to slip the ring around his finger, and—

No. Kurosawa managed to stop his train of thought before it got too out of hand. Deep down, he knew that it wasn’t the right thing to do - not yet, at least. A ring would be too much for Adachi, too soon, and he would likely be too embarrassed to wear it. He might even force himself for Kurosawa’s sake, and Kurosawa definitely wouldn’t want that to ever happen. He needed to find something else.

Tearing his eyes away from the rings, he looked over to the next shop and suddenly the answer was obvious. 

The store was selling a variety of luxury goods, but what had caught Kurosawa’s eyes were the stationery items - most particularly, a selection of beautiful, elegant pens. It would be perfect. Inconspicuous enough for the both of them to have one without drawing attention, yet both of them would know the meaning the item carried. And between Adachi’s love for stationery, and the fact that they had first met at a stationery company… Yes, it truly was the most fitting gift. 

As he let his eyes wander across the different models, Kurosawa thought of what the next step could be for them. Even though he wanted to ask Adachi to stay by his side forever, it didn’t mean he wanted them to go too fast. He still wanted to let Adachi decide their pace… Forever was a long time after all, they could go as slow as they wanted, take their time to truly enjoy every little thing together. But he couldn’t help being a little greedy either. His dream of sharing a home with Adachi was somehow always at the forefront of his mind, and now it really seemed like it could become a reality. 

He wondered how they would arrange it. Kurosawa wanted Adachi to feel at home, to really feel at ease in their shared space, so he wouldn’t mind letting him decide. They could put both their manga collections in common in the bedroom or the living room… Maybe get an extra room to have a dedicated office space, where Adachi could set up all of his stationery. They could get a new, comfortable bed, and go to sleep at night wrapped in each other’s arms, their pens laid down on the nightstand… 

It was fine to let himself dream of such things now, wasn’t it? Even if it was still a little ways down the road, that future was now within his reach. Smiling softly, Kurosawa let out a small, happy sigh as his eyes stopped on a pair of beautiful red and gold fountain pens.

Yes, he had a feeling this Christmas was going to be a good one.

 


 

+1

Kurosawa was trying really hard not to skip on the way back from the train station. It was the very first time he was coming home to Adachi - at least to their home. They had moved in together about a month ago, having found a really nice apartment rather soon after Kurosawa had brought up the subject. Since then, they had always managed to go home together after work.

Today though, Kurosawa was coming back from a two day business trip to Osaka, and he was really looking forward to seeing one of his most cherished fantasies come to life. Sure, he had already had Adachi wait for him at either one of their apartments before, and while it had always felt wonderful it still wasn’t the same… 

This time, Adachi would be waiting for him in an apartment they both shared. An apartment that contained both their personal touches, that they had furnished and decorated together. Before, he had always marvelled at simply having Adachi in his own space, or at being able to be in Adachi’s space, but living together was just so much more.  

Simply seeing their names together next to the front door made him smile - and he couldn’t care less if Adachi called him mushy for that. But every time he stepped inside, it always hit him just how well his and Adachi’s things blended together, while retaining their own character. It was just like their relationship. They were fairly different after all, yet they were perfect together - and yes, Adachi had also told him many times that he had a tendency to exaggerate, but he definitely wasn’t exaggerating here.

For all the years he had spent watching Adachi from afar and imagining being by his side, he also wasn’t entirely deluded. He knew very well that even if they somehow, magically - ah! - got together, there was always a chance that a relationship between them wouldn’t work out. Such was life, after all. And so, when Adachi’s anxieties had flared up so badly after the competition, Kurosawa had truly believed that it actually couldn’t work, that their relationship was hurting him more than it was making him happy. No matter how much it had hurt to have been given a glimpse of what they could be together only to have it be taken away, Kurosawa would never want Adachi to be unhappy because of him.

But Adachi had come back for him. That Christmas, albeit a lot different than initially planned, had been the best one ever. That bump in the road had only brought them closer, and that was why Kurosawa trusted they would last. What could have been the end of everything had turned into a whole new beginning, and then everything had fallen naturally into place. Of course, they still both had their hang-ups; they still were both afraid of inconveniencing the other in their own way… But as long as they kept talking and working through these things together, they would be fine. 

And maybe, one day, Adachi would be able to see himself the way Kurosawa saw him. That truly was Kurosawa’s biggest wish.

His smile grew bigger as their apartment complex came into view, and he had to fight the urge to run. He wanted to savour this moment, after all, after dreaming about it so many times. Another new experience to enjoy for the first time in their relationship. They had already shared many firsts together, and still had many more to come, but somehow this one felt so precious to Kurosawa.

He slowly went up the stairs, and as he stopped in front of their door his eyes lingered on both their names written next to it. He could feel his heart beating faster as he reached for the door handle and stepped inside. 

The entrance was almost dark, if not for the light from the living room that was filtering through the half-open door. Kurosawa quickly kicked off his shoes and pushed his suitcase against the wall, before pulling the door open and finally— 

Kurosawa froze, his mouth hanging open as the words “I’m home” died in his throat before he could even speak them.

Adachi was lounging on their couch, his back propped up against one side, a fluffy blanket covering his legs. He was wearing one of Kurosawa’s white hoodies, which looked slightly too big on him but it always made Kurosawa want to cuddle him more. There were a few volumes of that new manga they had recently bought together on the coffee table, and Kurosawa could see one of them resting on Adachi’s lap. And Adachi was… He was...

Adachi was looking up at him, his head having perked up the moment Kurosawa had stepped inside the living room. He was smiling brightly, that beautiful smile that reached all the way to his eyes, the one that was only reserved for Kurosawa…

“Welcome home,” Adachi said, his voice warm and soft, wrapping around Kurosawa like a security blanket, and Kurosawa just couldn’t hold back anymore.

He almost dove for the couch, wrapping his arms around his boyfriend and holding him tight. Adachi chuckled and hugged him back, rubbing his hands up and down Kurosawa’s back as Kurosawa buried his face in Adachi’s neck.

“I’m home,” Kurosawa whispered against his boyfriend’s skin, not trusting his voice. He could feel the prickle of tears behind his eyes; this was everything he had ever wanted; this was— 

“Yuichi?” Adachi called suddenly, and Kurosawa realized he hadn’t been holding back his tears as much as he thought. “Yuichi, look at me.” Kurosawa pulled back enough to look at Adachi, chuckling softly as he quickly brushed away the wetness on his cheeks. Adachi just shook his head fondly and smiled. “You’re so mushy.”

“I’m sorry— Wait, you know what, I’m not.” He hugged Adachi again, needing that closeness more than anything, and sighed happily. “I’ve been dreaming about this for so long. Coming home to you.”

“I know,” Adachi said quietly. “I’ve seen it. Before. So that’s why I… I wanted to give you this. Make that vision a reality. Well, it’s not exactly the same setting as in your dreams, because you couldn’t have known where we would be living, but—”

Kurosawa cut off his boyfriend’s nervous babbling with a kiss, and he felt Adachi relax into it. He still couldn’t figure out why Adachi would get so anxious whenever he did something for Kurosawa - as if Kurosawa would ever be anything but incredibly grateful and happy. At least, it seemed kissing him in those situations always managed to quiet down his nerves. 

Not that Kurosawa was complaining.

As he pulled back, Kurosawa brought one of his hands up to Adachi’s face, cupping it gently. “Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me.” 

Adachi bit his lip and let out a quiet, nervous laugh. “I mean. It’s not that big a deal.”

“It’s everything,” Kurosawa said, resting his forehead against Adachi’s. “I’m so happy we’re living together. I’m so happy I get to come home to you… I love you so much, Kiyoshi.”

“I love you too,” Adachi replies quietly, and Kurosawa didn’t have to look at him to know he was blushing madly. They remained like that for a while, until Adachi broke the silence again. “Are you hungry? I still don't trust my cooking skills, so I bought some korokke from that shop you like.”

Kurosawa straightened up and smiled at him. “Sure. And I brought your favorite sweets back from Osaka.” Adachi’s face lit up at this and Kurosawa couldn’t stop himself from kissing him again. It was a few more minutes before they managed to make it off the couch, Kurosawa apologizing for making Adachi lose what page he had been reading, and Adachi brushing it off with a laugh. 

As he followed Adachi to the dining area, Kurosawa let his eyes wander over their living room again, memorizing every detail as he replayed the earlier scene in his mind. He thought back to all those times he had imagined this, all the times he had told himself it was only wishful thinking, all the times he had tried to crush down hope and tell himself he should move on. 

His heart soared as he was once again hit by how much his reality had changed, and he let out a small, breathless chuckle. It turned out miracles could happen after all.

“Yuichi?” Adachi called behind him, and Kurosawa turned around to see him holding some take-out boxes, watching him expectantly. “Is everything okay?”

Kurosawa smiled at him and gave a small nod. “I’m just happy,” he said, closing the distance between them to place a soft kiss on Adachi’s cheek. 

“I’m glad.” Adachi chuckled fondly, his face reddening a little bit more. “Say… I only saw that part of your fantasy. What would usually happen afterwards?”

“Hmm, nothing special, really. We would either eat together, or cuddle on the couch. I just really wanted to share those everyday life moments with you,” Kurosawa trailed off. Adachi was biting his lip again, and Kurosawa knew he was feeling flustered. 

Cute, Kurosawa thought, unable to resist pushing things a bit further.

The corner of his lips twitched and he leaned forward to whisper in Adachi’s ear. “As for what else I might have imagined… I know you’ve seen some of those fantasies…” Adachi choked a little, trying but failing to cover it up with a cough. So cute. Dammit, Kurosawa wanted to eat him up. “It’s up to you whether or not we make them a reality later too.”

Adachi leaned away from him and scoffed, giving him an unimpressed look. “You’re a menace, you know?”

Kurosawa cocked his head to the side and laughed. “And yet you love me.”

“I guess I do,” Adachi sighed.

“You guess?”

Adachi rolled his eyes and smiled at him. “Come on, let’s eat,” he said, poking Kurosawa’s chest and placing a brief kiss on his lips before grabbing their food. He gestured at Kurosawa to sit down as he went to heat it up.

Pulling back a chair, Kurosawa watched his boyfriend with a soft smile on his lips. For all of his daydreams, he would never have imagined just how much his heart would overflow with love and happiness at these quiet moments together. Not for the first time, and certainly not for the last, Kurosawa quietly congratulated himself for not giving up. No matter the wait, no matter the heartache, it had all been worth it.

You are worth it.

Thank you, Kiyoshi.