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For a guy as small as he is, Yuki can sure hold his liquor.

Three rum and cokes in and Yuki’s face starts turning pink. After two tequila sunrises, he starts slumping against Kakeru’s side. Two ill-advised shots of tequila sans orange juice seemed to have sent him overboard, though, and the two of them stumble out to the balcony attached to Kakeru’s room to breathe in city air instead of the stuffy air inside the Manabe’s apartment. And also to smoke weed.

The joint hangs delicately from Yuki’s fingers. It looks kind of wrong in his hands even though Kakeru knows by now his persona is an act. He’s nothing like Kakeru had thought he was going to be. He’s about as uptight as expected, but he’s weirdly crotchety, easily bothered and prone to too-harsh comebacks and bouts of pouting. Kakeru had been delighted the first time it happened, Yuki’s bottom lip sticking out like a child’s, arms crossed tightly over his chest and muttering insults that hit way too close to home under his breath. It was amazing, honestly.

Yuki hacks a cough, an ugly sound like gravel under a car tire, smoke spilling out between his fingers as he covers his mouth. 

“You’re supposed to cough into your elbow,” Kakeru points out. “Didn’t they teach you that in rich kid pre-k?”

“Shut up,” he wheezes, but Kakeru can see the corner of his lips twitch up beneath his palm. “You’re…stupid.”

Kakeru guffaws. “You’re wasted, man.”

“And who’s fault is that?” Yuki turns to him, quirking an eyebrow. His pupils are huge and his eyes are bloodshot from the weed. Seeing him so messy takes an edge off his good looks, that’s for sure.

“I didn’t force you into nothing,” Kakeru retorts, plucking the joint from between Yuki’s fingers. He takes a hit and puffs it out, the sweet, mellow smell of street weed settling over them like a blanket. “You’re your own person.”

Yuki snorts. “Barely.”

They’ve done this a few times together, and every time, Yuki says something weird and cryptic like that. Kakeru has learned it’s best to ignore it. The first time he’d asked him to clarify, and Yuki had gotten all fidgety and awkward, trying to breeze past it. Something something, it’s just family bullshit, something something, mind your own business, Kakeru. Whatever. He got the message eventually.

“Want the roach?” Kakeru offers Yuki the small nub of the joint. 

Yuki shrugs. “Sure. Can you light it for me?”

Yuki presses the filtered end to his lips and Kakeru leans in close with the lighter. He sparks it and brings it in but Yuki flinches his face away, eyes squeezing shut and hand jerking the joint away from his lips. 

“Stop doing that,” Kakeru mutters.

“But the fire…”

“I won’t burn your pretty little face, Yun-Yun,” Kakeru promises.  “Here.”

Kakeru starts it for him, taking a tiny hit before stuffing it between Yuki’s lips. He makes a sound of protest but inhales anyway, the last of the joint crumbling away on his lap. The smoke swirls out in front of them, dancing between the rails of the balcony before dissipating into nothing. Kakeru watches it, the light-polluted sky spinning above them, the few stars visible from where they’re sitting wiggling a little.

Shit. Kakeru is wasted. And he’d drank less than Yuki. 

Yuki slumps against his arm, sighing loudly. He tangles their arms together, fingers squeezing almost too hard onto his forearm. 

That’s another thing about wasted Yuki. He’s insanely clingy. He’s always doing this, or throwing his legs over Kakeru’s lap, or lying down on top of him on the couch and not letting him up. Kakeru doesn’t mind—hell, he’s clingy too—but it’s a stark difference from the carefully distanced sober Yuki. It doesn’t really seem like he likes being touched all that much normally based on the way he subtly side-steps away from people and maintains a few feet of space while talking to others, but it’s a complete 180 when he’s drunk. Maybe he’s just more comfortable around Kakeru or something. He hasn’t really figured it out yet. 

“How fucked up are you?” Kakeru asks. 

Yuki huffs. “Very. Shouldnt’ve had those last shots.”

“You gonna puke?”

“Maybe.”

“Now?”

Yuki shakes his head, burying his face into the crook of Kakeru’s neck. His breath tickles him as he breathes out through his nose and his hair is soft and a little frizzy against the bottom of Kakeru’s jaw. Yuki brings his other arm around Kakeru’s abdomen and squeezes, his fingers clenching onto the hem of his t-shirt. 

“You’re clingy tonight,” Kakeru says absentmindedly, bringing a hand up to his hair, almost petting him. 

“‘M just glad I can hug you,” he says, words slightly muffled against the skin of his neck. His lips are chapped, Kakeru notes. 

“Whaddya mean?”

“‘Cause if you were a girl I couldn’t.” Yuki heaves a huge sigh and pulls his face out from Kakeru’s shoulder, lolling his head to stare straight ahead. “But you’re not, so.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Kakeru laughs.

“Oh, right.” Yuki pulls away from Kakeru, thunking his head on the wall they’re sitting against. He blinks, then blinks again, pursing his lips. “You don’t know.”

“Yun-Yu-u-u-u-un,” Kakeru whines. “Stop being cryptic and just tell me, then.”

Yuki’s mouth twists to the side and he closes his eyes. His brows furrow and Kakeru can’t tell if he’s thinking really hard or trying not to throw up. Maybe both.

“Yeah, okay,” he finally says, laughing a little. “I was thinking about telling you anyway. May as well do it trashed.”

“The suspense is killing me,” Kakeru drawls. “You can’t hug girls? Is it your weird cult religion?”

“Something like that.” Yuki laughs again, then takes a deep breath. “You know the Chinese zodiac?”

“What the fuck?” Kakeru’s head is spinning at the total non-sequitur. 

“Well? Do you?” Yuki’s giving him this weird look, half amused and half apprehensive. 

“Obviously I do.”

“You know, like, the animals and stuff?”

Kakeru rolls his eyes. “Yes, you weirdo. We’re the year of the dog.”

“No, I’m the rat.” Yuki smiles and pushes a hand against Kakeru’s face before dropping it back into his lap limply. “Duh.”

“Huh?” Kakeru feels like he’s being dragged along by this conversation, Yuki charging forward with nonsense and Kakeru forced to limp behind. “You skip a few grades or something?”

“No, not like that.” Yuki’s fingers start picking at his cuticles absentmindedly. A nervous habit. Kakeru has seen him do it before, ripping them bloody under the council room table. It grosses him out, to be honest. “I mean I’m literally the rat from the Chinese zodiac.”

“Dude.” Kakeru leans over, forehead touching his ankles that are crossed in front of him. “Literally what are you talking about.” 

“So the Sohmas are cursed, right,” Yuki says.

“Dude!” Kakeru pops back up, hands flying to Yuki’s shoulders. He shuffles a little so he doesn’t have to twist around. “Start making sense, please! I’m too drunk for this.”

“I’ve never had to explain it like this before!” Yuki cries. “And I’m drunk too!”

“Okay,” Kakeru huffs. “Okay. So the Sohmas are cursed.”

“So the Sohmas are cursed,” Yuki repeats, grabbing Kakeru’s wrists, his hands still resting on his shoulders. “Each of us possessed by the spirit of one of the animals of the zodiac.”

“Well you could’ve started with that,” Kakeru grumbles. He’s pretty sure Yuki is fucking with him—maybe? Probably? It’s almost too random, though, and Yuki isn’t the type to lie. But he really has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about, his inebriated brain struggling to keep track of the conversation. “So, like, all of you?”

“No, just a handful,” he says. “And I’m the rat.”

“I always thought you were kinda mousy,” Kakeru smirks.

Yuki rolls his eyes. “You know mice and rats are different animals, right?”

“Guess you’re the expert.” Kakeru is afraid he’s going to start laughing. He stifles a giggle into the sleeve of his t-shirt. “And the hugging?”

“Right, so.” Yuki removes Kakeru’s hands from his shoulders, slumping forward a little. They’re both fully facing each other now, and Kakeru can see how tense the muscles in his neck and shoulders are, despite all the substances. He straightens up and closes his eyes, huffing a breath through his nose. “If. If we hug someone of the opposite sex, we turn into the animal we’re possessed by.”

Kakeru can’t help it. He bursts into laughter, folding over so his face is buried in his lap. Tears well up in his eyes and he wipes them away with the heel of his hand, sitting up so he doesn’t choke on his own spit. 

“It’s not funny!” Yuki exclaims. “It’s really inconvenient!” 

That starts a fresh wave of laughter in Kakeru, the type that’s almost silent, and he buries his face in his hands. What the fuck. What the fuck is Yuki even saying right now. 

“I,” Kakeru wheezes, his shoulders shaking. “D-do it right now.”

“I told you, I have to hug a girl.” Yuki’s face is red, but his lips are twitching up a little, affected by the weed and Kakeru’s hysterics. “It’s not, like, a superpower. I can’t do it at will.”

“How big are you?” 

Yuki shrugs and holds his fingers a few inches apart. “Probably this. Never really measured.”

“Do you have a tail?”

“Of course.”

Kakeru howls. Tears are streaming down his face now. He thinks he’ll probably keep laughing forever. “God. Holy shit. Are you serious right now?”

“Ye-es!” Yuki hiccups mid-word. “I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to.”

“Oh my God.” Kakeru wipes more tears from his face. “Oh my God.”

Yuki kicks his feet out and nails Kakeru in the ankle. Pain twinges up his leg and he kicks back, the bottom of his foot dully meeting Yuki’s knee. 

“You’re an asshole,” Yuki mutters, lying down on his back.

“You already knew that.” Kakeru moves to lie down next to him. “Hey, is the sky spinning for you?”

“Yep,” Yuki says. “I’ll probably throw up later.”

“Great, yeah, pencil that in.” Kakeru erupts into giggles again. Yuki thumps a fist on his chest. 

“Ugh.” Kakeru watches Yuki drag his palms down his face. “I shouldn’t have smoked.”

“You know where my bathroom is, right?” Yuki nods. “Are you gonna pass out?” Yuki nods again.

Kakeru uses the railing for balance as he hauls himself up, then grabs Yuki around the armpits and drags him off the floor, too. He’s total deadweight, his feet stumbling over his ankles and his arm heavy around Kakeru’s shoulder. 

“I shouldn’t’ve told you all that,” he mutters breathlessly.

“Too late now,” Kakeru says, sliding the balcony door open with his foot.

“Don’t tell anyone.”

“Obviously.” 

“Okay,” Yuki says quietly as Kakeru deposits him on his bed. He grabs Kakeru’s hands from where he’s sitting and squeezes them. “You’re my best friend.”

“Aw, you’re my best friend too, Yun-Yun!”

Yuki smiles at him and lets go, toppling over on his side. Kakeru hits the light switch on the wall and climbs over him, tugging the comforter over them both. Yuki’s breathing is already starting to even out. Kakeru blinks dizzily a few times, tossing over to find a comfortable position, before sleep finally overtakes him.




Kakeru wakes up alone.

Pain arcs behind his eyes like lightning. He’d forgotten to pull the curtains closed when they came in last night, and the dull early morning light is piercing, jabbing into his eyeballs like spikes of pure evil. 

He groans, stretching out. His socks are still on. His clothes smell like weed. Yuki told him he’s cursed to turn into a rat sometimes.

Wait.

Kakeru sits up slowly. He doesn’t think he’s going to throw up, but he should probably put some food in his stomach before making any sudden movements. Yuki said he thought he might puke last night. He also drunkenly told him something absolutely insane and Kakeru had laughed at him. 

He rubs at his face. Is he remembering that right? His brain feels like mush right now, but he’s pretty sure he’s remembering that right. He said if he hugs a girl, he turns into the rat from the Chinese zodiac. That the family was cursed. That there are others, too. Kakeru presses his fingers against his temples. He needs coffee. 

He stumbles into the kitchen. The coffee in the pot is lukewarm, his mother having left for work already, so he pops a mug in the microwave. He eats a bunch of rice straight from the rice cooker while it heats up. He gulps down half of his mug before setting it down, wandering to the bathroom. He’s pretty sure that’s where Yuki is.

His knock is answered with a dull groan, which Kakeru takes as an invitation to come in.

Yuki is on the floor next to the toilet, legs akimbo in front of him. Kakeru’s borrowed sleep shirt is way too big on him and it’s slipping off his shoulder, revealing his bony collarbones. He looks scarily pale, his gray hair matted against his forehead.

“Yikes,” Kakeru says, leaning against the doorframe. “You puke?”

Yuki nods.

“You want coffee? Water?”

“Tea, if you would,” Yuki says, voice quiet. 

Kakeru flicks the electric kettle on and chugs the rest of his coffee, pouring himself another cup and heating it up. He fills two bowls with rice, cracking an egg into his and leaving Yuki’s plain. He balances both bowls in one hand, unceremoniously sticking both sets of chopsticks into Yuki’s, and carefully grips the handles of their mugs before making his way back to the bathroom.

Kakeru settles on his knees so he can hand Yuki his stuff. He takes his mug and bowl with shaking hands and Kakeru sets his own things on the floor so he can sit on his butt, back against the wall opposite Yuki. He watches Yuki weakly bring his tea to his lips, brows furrowed in what Kakeru assumes is pain. Kakeru grabs his chopsticks and mixes his egg into his rice, watching Yuki gulp tea down like a man who’d just escaped the desert. He’d forgotten soy sauce for his breakfast. Oh, well.

“When did you get up?” Kakeru asks through a mouthful of rice.

Yuki shrugs. “I don’t know. Not that long ago.”

“How many times did you puke?”

“Twice.”

“Eat some rice.”

“Not hungry.”

“You’ll keep throwing up if you don’t.”

Yuki shoots him a disgruntled look and sips his tea. “Fine.”

He takes a small bite of rice, then another. Kakeru’s all but shoveling his into his mouth, barely tasting it. He feels better with every bite. He might have another bowl. 

“What time is it?” Yuki asks.

“Eight-thirty.”

“Ugh.” Yuki pushes his sweaty hair back from his forehead. “Too early.”

Kakeru hums. “Hey, Yuki.”

“Hm?”

“Do you remember what you told me last night?”

Yuki freezes for about half a second, chopsticks stuttering on their way to his mouth. It’s almost imperceptible with how quickly he recovers, but Kakeru notices. He takes a sip of coffee, looking at Yuki from over the rim of the mug. 

“Not really,” Yuki admits. “Honestly, after we smoked everything is pretty fuzzy. I mostly just remember you laughing.”

“Oh,” Kakeru says. 

“Why?” Yuki asks. “What did I tell you?” 

“Well, I’m gonna sound like a dumbass if you were fucking with me,” he says, picking his bowl up. “Maybe I shouldn’t tell you to save myself the embarrassment.”

Yuki rolls his eyes. “Just say it.”

“Okay.” Kakeru shovels more rice in his mouth. “You said you were cursed and that if you hug a girl you turn into a rat. Also, something about the Chinese zodiac.”

Yuki totally freezes, his eyes going wide, fingers clenching around his chopsticks. “Oh.”

Kakeru feels just as uncomfortable as Yuki looks. Shit. He was telling the truth. His stomach flips uncomfortably. He slurps his coffee, desperate for anything to break the tension.

“Well,” Yuki says, voice cold. “I was obviously lying.”

But his face has exploded into an unfortunate shade of red now, and his hands are shaking around his bowl more than they already were. 

“Yuki.” Kakeru sighs through his nose, lowering his own bowl from his face. “I don’t think you were.”

Yuki’s shoulders are bunched up nearly to his ears, his fingertips white around his bowl. He’s not looking at Kakeru, his face turned to the side to stare at the towel rack. 

“Okay.” His voice is wavering a little. Kakeru really, really doesn’t want him to start crying. “Well, I, um, I—do you, I mean—”

“I don’t care,” Kakeru blurts. “I mean, I care, I guess, because it kind of seems like a big deal, and a lot of shit about you makes sense now.”

“Oh.”

“Like, that you don’t touch anyone, and that time you pushed that girl,” Kakeru continues. “Your whole mysterious shtick.” 

“I’m not mysterious,” Yuki grumbles. 

“Not to me!” Kakeru grins. Yuki doesn’t really react, eyes still trained off to the side somewhere. “You also said you were already thinking about telling me.”

“Key word thinking,” Yuki says, scoffing a little. He finally tears his eyes away from the towel rack to stir his rice. “Do you. I mean. Are you disgusted?”

“What? No!” Kakeru cries. “It’s pretty funny, actually.”

“It’s not funny,” Yuki snaps. “It’s really inconvenient.”

Kakeru cackles. “Oh my God. That’s exactly what you said last night, too.”

“Ugh.” Yuki puts his bowl down and puts his face in his hands. “Please don’t tell anyone.”

“As if they’d believe me.”

“And you do?”

Kakeru just shrugs. “I don’t really have a reason not to. I’d still kind of like to see, though.”

“Absolutely not,” Yuki huffs, removing his face from his hands to glare at Kakeru. Ah, there he is.

“Why not?” Kakeru whines. “I bet you’re really cute.”

“Shove off.”

“Sorry, didn’t mean to imply you’re not cute normally,” Kakeru grins. “You’re cute all the time, Yun-Yun.”

“I’m too hungover to deal with you,” he mutters, but Kakeru knows him well enough by now to tell that his panic is subsiding with every stupid comment. 

“Hey, I’m hungover too,” Kakeru says. “We should order something greasy.”

Yuki grimaces and puts a hand on his stomach. “That sounds awful.”

“It’ll help, I promise.” Kakeru stands, wincing a little at the sharp pain behind his eyes as he does. “I’m gonna grab my phone.”

He’s got one foot out the door when Yuki says, “Hey, Kakeru.”

“Hm?”

“Thanks,” he says. “For not. Freaking out.”

“Yeah,” Kakeru says awkwardly. “I mean. I am, a little.”

“Understandable,” Yuki snorts. “I really did want to tell you. I…it’s. It’s a huge part of my life. And I wanted you to know.”

“Well.” Kakeru shoves his hands into his pockets and leans against the doorframe, feeling uncomfortable with the sudden emotional vulnerability from his normally zipped-up best friend. “Thanks for trusting me.”

Yuki smiles at him. Kakeru smiles back.

“Well?” Yuki says.

“Huh?”

“Food?”

“Oh, right.”

Kakeru grabs his phone and returns to the bathroom. Kakeru throws an arm over Yuki’s shoulders as they peruse Demae-Can. He adds a bunch of rat emojis to the end of Yuki’s contact name just to piss him off when they’re done. Yuki snatches his phone away from him and deletes them, but he has a soft smile on his face as he does. Kakeru hugs him, just because he can. Yuki returns it immediately. 

Kakeru decides he should hug Yuki more.