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Twelve

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When his shower’s finished and the washroom’s still otherwise empty, he calls, “Tooru,” through the open door. No sound comes back from the bedroom. Sakeru wonders if his boyfriend could have possibly slept in so late. Usually, they rise together, share a brief but pleasant shower, get dressed around one another’s morning routines, and set about their day. But then, Tooru doesn’t have to make the early deliveries that Sakeru does.

With a towel still wrapped around his waist and nothing else to cover him, Sakeru wanders into the bedroom. The ceiling light’s not on, but the curtains are open and the morning sun washes through. Tooru’s bathed in it, leant back against the headboard, his pajama’s ruffled and a single white sheet tossed across his lap. His phone lies in his hands. His face is despondent.

Sakeru repeats a careful, “Tooru...”

“The flowers weren’t delivered,” Tooru hollowly answers. He doesn’t look up—only stares blankly into the darkened screen.

It takes Sakeru a second to place what he means. “The ones you sent to Chi...?”

“She never let me visit.” Tooru’s voice is almost a croak now, but he isn’t crying. It looks like he might at any moment. His handsome face is always so expressive, and the sudden pain there makes Sakeru’s stomach clench. “I sent the flowers to the hospital... but they told the delivery woman that Chi wasn’t there. Was never there. They said... they said Emina Lrig wasn’t even a real disease.” Tooru’s voice cracks. Sakeru’s breath hitches.

He drifts closer, not knowing what to say.

Tooru goes on for him, “It was all a ruse to play on my sympathies... she was never dying... she played with my heart again...”

Reaching the bed, Sakeru takes a seat next to his lover. He gathers one of Tooru’s hands into his, cradling it and bringing it up to kiss. Tooru finally looks at him, connecting their eyes, and surmises: “She was trying to break us up.” Sakeru lifts a brow at that. “She said... you only wanted me for my gum.”

In another situation, Sakeru might laugh at such an absurd idea. But Tooru’s too distressed for laughter, so Sakeru gently reminds him, “I work for the same company as your father. I have the same connections.”

“Only for the long gum’s distribution...”

“And if I wanted to, I could take that long gum into the kitchen and cut it down into cute little pieces just like yours.”

Tooru brokenly presses, “Maybe you want the real thing.”

Sakeru lets go of Tooru’s hand in favour of cupping his cheek, gently thumbing the moisture from his eyes. Sakeru quietly promises, “I do want the real thing.” Before Tooru can mistake his meaning, he leans in to brush their lips together: just a short, chaste kiss, as sweet as Tooru deserves. Tooru leans into his hold.

Tooru murmurs, “I’ve been such a fool.”

“No, you just have a kind heart. That’s one of the many reasons why I wanted you so much.”

Tooru finally cracks a tiny small. He eyes Sakeru’s lips for a moment, and when Sakeru leans in again, Tooru joins him. The kiss lingers longer, and Tooru stays close to him, hovering just within his orbit. Tooru admits, “I want you too. ...I need it.” Another kiss—fiercer, more intense, and another after that. Then Tooru parts them to whisper, “I need it long.”

Grinning wide, Sakeru pulls him down into the sheets. And Sakeru reminds Tooru why no one could ever pull them apart.