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delicate care

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Wataru wakes up to darkness and the sensation of someone's hand in his hair.

The strangest part is the waking up , because that means he was asleep, and he has absolutely no memory of falling asleep.

He squirms a bit, and the darkness slides off his eyes in the form of a script. Ah, because it is. His script has fallen onto his face. How... undignified. A quick sideways glance, now that he can see, tells Wataru that he is laying in someone's lap, which is admittedly also rather unexpected, but that is presumably an occurrence that accompanied the falling asleep. 

Perhaps noticing his squirming, the hand in his hair begins to comb gently. As it does, Wataru realises his hair is, frankly, a lot more tangled than he usually tolerates. While he’s inclined to blame it on the nap he didn’t realise he was taking, there’s a voice in his head that reminds him that it takes much more than a simple snooze on the common room’s sofa to dishevel his hair. 

“Wataru. You are awake, yes?”

Shu’s tone may sound curt to the untrained listener, but the person beaming up at him underneath the script knows better. 

“Shu~! How nice to see you back in Japan~”

His friend’s eyebrows knit together in an expression of slight disgruntlement as he peers down at Wataru. 

“Falling asleep in the open is unlike you, you know. Or have you perhaps begun taking off that mask you always wear as your public image, in the brief time that I’ve been away?”

Drat. Wataru had been hoping he wouldn’t ask about that. The only explanations he can give will all sound like excuses; but truly, his schedule has been gruellingly tight for the last few weeks, and Dramatica has a rehearsal tomorrow. Surely, Shu knows as much -- it’s part of the reason he’s returned from Paris. While script writing and editing is something that can be done remotely, the conscientious tailor had wanted to watch the actors’ rehearsals in person to garner inspiration for their costumes. 

At Wataru’s response, or lack thereof, Shu picks the script up from where it now lays on Wataru’s neck. When he speaks again, his tone is gentler; minutely so, but Shu has always been one around whom such minute details matter. 

“Allow me to change the question, then. How many hours of sleep have you been averaging for the last three days-- no, the last week ?”

Making a great effort to remain unfettered, or at least appear as such, Wataru winks back at him.

“Well, what about yourself? I’m surprised at how quickly you got over your jetlag this time.”

Now it’s Shu’s turn to be at a loss for words, and his only response is to gently shove Wataru’s head off his lap as he averts his eyes. Which reminds Wataru that he hasn’t had the chance to ask about how he ended up there either, but knowing Shu, it was probably because he couldn’t stand seeing Wataru’s face touch the fabric of chairs in a common area ( think about all the germs, Wataru!

He supposes it’s a fair complaint, but he really hadn’t intended to fall asleep there in the first place. 

Then again, lying on a sofa with his legs draped over the armrests... probably was more conducive for a snooze than for memorising his script. 

Wataru gracefully slides off Shu’s lap, pivoting to sit beside him and grinning at his telling silence all the while. As a fellow artist, Wataru knows all too well the way time seems to lose meaning when they enter a state of absolute focus and fervour. 

They don’t sit in silence for very long -- Shu must be extremely hungry, because Wataru has never heard his stomach make its dissatisfaction known so blatantly. His face takes on a shade of red that is very reminiscent of a rose. 

“Ah, that’s right. You never were one for airplane food, mm?”

Wataru pretends to wonder aloud, but he already knows the answer to that. Suffice to say that they both do. 

“Tch.”

“No, no, why the shame? Don’t be afraid to let your body voice its very human desires, Shu!” 

“This is a ridiculous time to be eating. Let us just return to our rooms.” 

Shu barely finishes his sentence before his stomach whines again. This time, Wataru can’t suppress the little giggle he lets out. His friend, on the other hand, heaves a long-suffering sigh of defeat. 

“I had intended to go without dinner today, since the hour for that has long since passed... Falling asleep here was entirely unplanned.” 

Wataru takes a glance at his phone. It’s nearing 1:30 in the morning. True, this is an unconventional time to be having dinner, but then again, since when has either of them lived conventionally?

He hops off the sofa and offers his hand to Shu in a bow curtsy. 

“Will you join me in heading for the kitchen, love?”

Shu rolls his eyes, but there is little force behind it. 

Only to make sure you get something proper to eat as well.”

He places his right hand in Wataru’s anyway, the other reaching for the handle of his luggage, and they head in search of food together. 


“Anyway,” Wataru comments offhandedly as they walk to the kitchen, gaze turned skywards, “I can’t really get back into my room.”

Shu turns to give him an incredulous look, but Wataru provides an explanation before he demands one.

“Subaru-kun and Sora-kun are most certainly fast asleep, you see? And I don’t have my room key with me~ It would be awfully rude of me to wake them, so perhaps I shall simply spend my night in the common area?” 

His friend clicks his tongue, but offers advice nonetheless. 

“You share a room with Mikejima, correct? I believe he has a late-night job today... You could ask him when he expects to return.”

Pivoting himself so he is walking backwards but facing Shu directly, Wataru playfully feigns a gasp. 

“My, I’m shocked! How rare for you to pay attention to others’ activities, Shu! Ufufu, wouldn’t your little crow be jealous?” 

“Do not misunderstand.” Shu retorts as he pushes open the door to the kitchen that Wataru has decided to lean against. “An announcement was simply broadcast on that... Whole Hands system we have been forced to use.”

“Besides,” he remarks as they turn on a few lights, “I have always kept up with the activities that you four engage in.”

Wataru hums softly in response -- that much is true, and he cannot deny it. In spite of Shu’s distaste for technology, he does make the effort to send his regards before or after every performance Wataru does, and the others presumably receive similar treatment. 

Shu picks a table to leave his luggage at, and Wataru hovers there for a moment to send a text to Madara. The reply is instantaneous: he’s almost finished, and will be back at the dorms within forty-five minutes. Wataru relays this to Shu, who has already moved to the cooking area, earning a hum of acknowledgement. 

Forty-five minutes is plenty of time to cook and eat, especially when both of them are confident in their skills in the kitchen. Wataru is admittedly surprised by Shu’s suggestion of udon, but has no objections. They work in relative silence, Wataru chopping carrots and radish to be added to the pot of boiling noodles, and Shu preparing a lightly seasoned tamagoyaki to add protein to their meal. 

Despite the fatigue Wataru is sure he must be feeling, there is a subtle smile gracing Shu’s features as he uses the spatula to roll the egg. Frankly, Shu is a lot more straightforward with expressing his affection than Wataru is, but scarcely anyone would believe him if he were to say that. Shu’s affection is rare, yes, but always genuine. With Wataru, it must be hard for others to pick out the sincerity, scrambled as it is into a convoluted concoction with exaggerations and half-truths. Sometimes it’s hard for himself. It’s how he blends in with the world while simultaneously holding others at arms’ length. Most don’t even notice -- well, most would likely rather hold him at arms’ length as well, given his eccentricities. 

But sometimes, Wataru does find himself struggling to take off his performer’s mask even when he truly wishes to bare his soul. Yet, as this grows ever more difficult, the prospect of doing so also becomes increasingly daunting. 

Wataru watches Shu gently plate the completed tamagoyaki , handling it with the delicate care that he uses with all things precious to him, be they people, outfits, art pieces. 

It is nice, he thinks, to know that he falls under one of those.

“Wataru, I do believe the noodles aren’t going to serve themselves. We don’t have all night, you know.”

“Oh, my sincerest apologies~! I must object, though; we could certainly have all night if you so wished for it.” 

In truth, the thought of whiling the night away with his friend is appealing, though they both know it is impossible. 

“While that would be pleasant, I will have to decline. You need rest, as do I. Do not think I am ignoring the bags beneath your eyes.”

Ahaha, Shu is sharp-eyed as always. Wataru laughs out loud as he carries the bowls to their table, still smiling as he takes his seat. 

“You’re in a strangely good mood,” Shu comments, sitting down opposite him and handing him a pair of chopsticks.

“But of course~! Who would’ve thought my fatigue would not only allow me to nap in your arms, but also gift me precious time to spend with you?”

Just as Wataru expects, Shu’s cheeks colour slightly at the second part of the sentence. What Wataru doesn’t expect is his response. 

Shu takes Wataru’s free hand, and with the delicate care that he uses with all things precious to him, presses a featherlight kiss to Wataru’s fingertips. It’s certainly an effective way to stun Wataru into silence. 

“Alright, that’s enough out of you. Finish up so I can send you off to get your rest, Wataru.” 

It is nice for Wataru to know that he falls under that category.

Nicer still, is the thought that those who truly love him are, at least to some extent, able to filter through his falsities and fluff, to see him for who he really is, and to love him for it all.