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all day, only your smile is in my head

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It’s been a while since Izumi has gone overseas every so often, now staying at his own apartment in the city. And it’s also been a while since Izumi had contacted any of his unit-mates.

Izumi thought to himself what awfully boring neighbours he has, yet it was a reminder of how peaceful this area was. Away from his stresses and worries, he could just simply enjoy his leisure activities within his own comfort zone. However, there was a fluttery feeling that doesn't rub off on him, no matter how hard he tries to brush it away like his own problems.

Izumi silences his phone for today, the constant notifications from Chiaki and Kaoru was starting to irritate him - those lovebirds can’t seem to take the conversation somewhere else that’s not in their shared group-chat with Izumi. Whatever, Izumi doesn’t care. It’s not like he was jealous of their relationship or anything…. nor did he care about Arashi and Mika getting engaged.

Why would he care so much about love?

Izumi throws his phone against his pillow, sighing. Before he can do anything stupid, he decides to make the most logical choice: going for a walk. Because what idiot thinks it’s logical to go for a walk in the middle of the night? Izumi, apparently. So the moment Izumi steps out of the front of his own apartment complex, he immediately regrets it when he realises who’s right in front of him.

“Hello, Secchan.”

Izumi freezes for a split second, and a light tint of pink appears on his cheeks. He couldn’t fathom how and why Ritsu Sakuma of all people was at his apartment complex.

And then there was Ritsu, opening a can of tuna for the two stray cats to eat up. He crouches down, watching as they devour the tuna with ease. Ritsu softly smiles at the two, gently petting their heads equally. “There, they should have enough to eat for tonight.”

“Kuma-kun.” Izumi can only speak out of his foul mouth.

Ritsu already forgot that Izumi also happens to be right in front of him. How coincidental, he thought so clearly to himself. Yet, he didn’t seem unnerved by Izumi’s sudden appearance. It has been a few years since they last parted ways with the rest of the Knights, but Ritsu didn’t care.

“I didn’t know you lived here now, Secchan.” Ritsu replies charmingly, no longer crouching down with the excuse of wanting to see Izumi’s face again. “What’s with the get-go?”

Izumi shrugs, “Just wanted to go for a walk, but I’ve noticed you never changed even the last time we met.”

“Of course you’ve noticed.”

Their small talk is then interrupted by the loud meowing from the two stray cats, as they curl their tails up around Ritsu’s legs. Izumi wonders just how many stray cats Ritsu managed to take a hold of.

Ritsu opens another can of tuna, yawning. “I guess they wanted more food today… but I’m already too tired to feed them.”

Izumi is reminded of this constant yawning from his dear friend, then a sigh of relief comes out of him for some odd reason. He doesn’t express it to Ritsu immediately, but he’s relieved that Ritsu didn’t end up passing on or something out of the ordinary. Ritsu was still present, feeding the stray cats and casually strolling around the private residence.

“Soooo, are you leaving for Florence soon or?” Ritsu catches Izumi staring at the two cats now, part of him wants to stroke both of their heads.

No response.

Izumi crouches down to stroke the two cats’ heads. Ritsu would expect them to be hostile, but it turns out not. Despite Ritsu’s warning glare towards Izumi, the two cats don’t seem to mind Izumi at all. The grey-haired model is focused at keeping the cats under control, letting them eat the tuna without any interruptions whatsoever. The cats would stop eating if Ritsu ever stopped grooming their fur or scratching their heads however, so Izumi has no other choice but to let Ritsu take over taking care of the cats. Ritsu was giving all the attention to the cats, Izumi was totally not clenching his fist at this very moment out of pure jealousy. Why couldn’t Ritsu be the one spoiling Izumi-

“Secchan, did you even answer my question? Are you leaving for Florence soon?”

Izumi doesn’t think twice about what he says next.

“Actually, no.”

He lied, Izumi does intend to leave to go back to Florence. But since Ritsu was present, Izumi could spare another few weeks in Japan. He could also spend some time with Ritsu, but that was all totally friendship wise, not a date or anything out of the blue...

Ritsu pauses for a moment, looking up at Izumi with a dead serious look.

“I didn’t know you wanted to stay here.”

Izumi is surprised by this reaction from Ritsu.

“Really?”

“Pft, every time I wanted to contact you, either you were in Florence or doing another modelling campaign again in some foreign country.” Ritsu has a hint of sadness in his voice, almost as if he was waiting for Izumi’s return.

It’s been a while since he met the person who he thought about for far too long. And that same feeling of wanting to be in someone’s arms, or holding someone’s hand on a cold winter day… it’s still present in Izumi’s mind.

Izumi stares at Ritsu again, wondering if Ritsu had any plans for the future other than feeding stray cats off the streets. Because that couldn’t be the only thing Ritsu was planning to do for the rest of his life (Izumi wouldn’t be surprised if it is though).

“Kuma-kun, what about you? Do you live here?”

Ritsu shakes his head, “Why else would I bother to feed the cats? I’ve been living in this apartment complex for a while.”

Izumi chokes on his spit. “We’re neighbours?!”

The former Knights member only laughs in response, a soft yet enduring laugh that Izumi wishes he could hear again. It was more of a chuckle, but what did it matter? The bottomline was, Izumi’s heart was practically beating over Ritsu’s laugh.

Fuck, he was getting butterflies over his former unit-mate.

Ritsu looks at Izumi, a bit confused at why his dear friend was staring at him so longingly. Was he possibly waiting for Ritsu to say something? And not continue to feed the cats because his future boyfriend wasn’t right next to him?

“Did my answer not satisfy you, Secchan? Or you already knew that I live here but were too shy to ask me?”

Izumi turns away, crossing his arms. He only turns away to hide his embarrassed look. “Hmph, like I would care about you being my neighbour.”

“Cute, so you do care about me.”

He doesn’t make eye contact with Ritsu, “Shut up, Kuma-kun.”

The two cats meow loudly, it didn’t feel like a coincidence for them to meow back at Izumi. Ritsu then notices the two cans of tuna now emptied out, and this pleases him greatly. It was well expected though.

What Ritsu didn’t expect is for the cats to slowly walk back to a stubborn Izumi, who still had his arms crossed, only to rub themselves around Izumi’s legs.

Izumi will admit it, he would’ve told Ritsu to get his two cats off him. He doesn’t seem to mind this time around. And unironically, he could listen to Ritsu’s cooing sounds to the kittens all day if he wanted to. Ritsu coos at the two cats, waving his goodbyes to them. As much as Ritsu wants to keep spoiling the cats like his own, they were stray cats after all.

“Do you have names for them?” Izumi asks bluntly, once Ritsu was done waving at the cats.

“No, I never gave them names.” Ritsu replies, scratching the back of his neck. “They are stray cats, after all.”

Izumi rolls his eyes at this statement, “Come on. I thought you weren’t that boring.”

“As if you can come up with good names, Secchan.”

“I like to see you try.”

Ritsu thought about his answer for a moment, and his heart only skips another beat when he says it.

“... I think Kuma and Sena would make good names for our two kitties.”

Izumi’s soul left his body, and his heart could possibly explode right now. He could utter a curse at Ritsu right now, but he can’t. Izumi doesn’t say anything, but Ritsu already knew that he was surprised by the name suggestion.

And he's certainly feeling that fluttery feeling all over again.

“Ah? Did I make you blush? Sorry about that, Secchan. I thought it was adorable, since we are close.” Ritsu notices Izumi’s cheeks turning a bright red, and Ritsu admits that he finds that adorable of someone like Secchan. “Anyway, I better go to sleep. Goodnight Secchan, I'll see you tomorrow. ♪”

Izumi was supposed to go for a walk, and he completely forgot about it. And quite frankly, he’s glad he did. A short-lived encounter that ended with his heart only beating more at the thought of Ritsu asking him out. But Izumi doesn’t think too much of the complicated stuff for now. Ritsu was present, and he happens to be his neighbour. That was enough for Izumi, and another reason for him to stay.

Perhaps he could lay off his meetings tomorrow, just for one day to spend with Ritsu at a coffee shop.