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A First Time for Everything

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DING!

The gentle, yet ringing sound of a service bell echoes throughout the establishment. A cafe worker swings by, picking up the drinks that sat on their saucers, and placing them on her tray. Gently but swiftly, she makes her way to a table where two young men had been sitting, one attempting to converse with the other, though he found it quite hard at this rate, he had hardly even an ounce of knowledge about the younger man sitting across from him at the table!

Except for the fact that he was his Little Honeybun’s roommate.

The waitress sets down their drinks, two coffees. One appearing to be a lighter color, the brown hue of liquid desaturated to a creamier-like color with the amount of creamer and sugar within it.
The other… looked straight out of the coffee pot.

“Will that be all for you gentlemen?” The waitress asks.

The other, still focused on his tablet, doesn’t speak a word, too engulfed with his work to acknowledge the outside world.

“Yes, that will be all. Thank you ma’am.” Nazuna spoke out politely, flashing a gentle smile towards the cafe worker.

Bowing, the server makes her way back to continue working, serving other various customers around the duo.

“Ibara…” Nazuna whispered gently, tapping the table to get the other’s attention, it seems that he didn’t even notice that the waitress had come by and served the two of them their drinks.

Looking up from his tablet, he gave out a sigh, “Yes, Nito-sama–”

“Nazuna. Please don’t worry about formalities.” He gave a gentle, caring smile, pushing the coffee for Ibara over towards him gently, as to make sure to not spill a single drop upon the table… success!

“Thank you.” Ibara reached for his coffee with one hand, putting the tablet he had in his other hand down as he blew into it to cool it down slightly. He took a small sip, licking his lips afterwards. “Perfect.” He muttered to himself, putting his cup down upon the saucer that it was served upon.

Nazuna looked upon Ibara nervously, even though he himself was his senior, Ibara had some sort of formal, uptight aura about him. Clearing his throat, Nazuna leans back into his chair, letting out a deep sigh.

“Ibara, I have some important matters to discuss with you,” he averted his gaze from the other to look down at his drink, “it’s about Mitsuru.” He states, hoping that he didn’t sound too serious to the other. With the way that Nazuna worded it, he was worried that it sounded as if something dire was to be discussed.

There was a small amount of silence between the two, only the sound of the service bell ringing, and the sound of assorted conversations between the cafe workers, the establishment’s patrons, and the calming low fidelity music that filled the cafe with a soothing aura.

“Yes?” Ibara leaned in, if he were to get assigned something from his senior, he made sure to pay attention to Nazuna to absorb all the information that he would be given. “What about Tenma-kun?” He asked, folding his hands together to rest his chin upon them.

Nazuna let out a subtle sigh, knowing that Ibara would be very formal about Mitsuru’s upbringing. “Well…” Nazuna clicks his tongue, “how can I explain this…” He crosses his arms over another. “I need you to watch over Mitsuru for a couple of days.”

“You what?” Ibara was confused, but kept a calm composure upon being told this information.

“I promise it’s much more than that!” Nazuna uncrossed his arms immediately, waving his hands in dismissal. Putting his hands down upon the table, he grasps his cup of coffee, taking a sip. It was still mildly warm enough to take a hearty sip of the drink, putting his cup back down upon the saucer.

“What I’m saying is…” Nazuna takes in a deep breath, soon exhaling. “Mitsuru has told me that you have this… certain aura.” He pauses, “much like how one would, er…” Nazuna looked away, observing servers of the cafe delivering drinks to their patrons, “much like how one has a caregiver-like aura towards them! That’s how Mitsuru feels about you!” Nazuna finally explained, it felt like a huge weight off his chest.

“Ah…” Ibara responds, he was unsure how to take this information in, however it wasn’t the first time that he was told something like that along those lines that Nazuna spoke. He knew he looked over Nagisa while doing idol work, but it was more of just a leadership role towards him. “Is that true? Did he tell you that?” Ibara inquires, wanting to analyze the situation more.

“Yes!” Nazuna answered immediately, “I’ll have to admit, he’d always been afraid of saying something along those lines to you directly, so he let me know to inform you. Sorry about that. Even with his bright and sunny personality, he can be a little bit shy at times.” Nazuna had to apologize, as he grabbed his cup of coffee, taking another drink out of it.

“Do not worry about it, Nazuna.” Ibara cleared his throat, “I’m sure there is a reason that you bring this up, yes?” He asked.

“Yes, actually.” The other looked over towards Ibara with a trusting gaze. “I’m going to be going on a vacation with my family starting tomorrow. I know Mitsuru won’t take it too well with my departure, especially since he counts on me to look over and take care of him when he… dives into a certain headspace.” He remarked, not wanting to give out too much information as to not drive Ibara away. “So… that’s where you come in, Ibara.” Nazuna states, “I need you to look over Mitsuru as his caretaker while I’m gone.” He instructs.

“I suppose…” Ibara paused in the middle of his sentence, grabbing his cup of coffee and finishing it off, continuing to speak after he had placed the cup down upon the saucer, and pushing it away from him slightly. “I suppose I can look over him while you are away on your vacation.” Ibara answered, “but me of all people? Couldn’t you have had Mashiro-kun or Shino-kun look over him?” He asked.

“To be fair, the two of them are also quite busy with their own affairs as well.” Nazuna responded sheepishly. “I wouldn’t have come forward to you about it if they weren’t caught up with their own personal matters.” He sighs, “but it’s very important for me. For him. For the both of us, really.” Nazuna looks over to Ibara with innocent, gleaming eyes. “I can fill you in on specifics tomorrow, if you’d like me to.”

“That would be rather helpful, really.” Ibara responds, gathering knowledge of what he would be experiencing on the day of Nazuna’s departure would be more helpful than if he were to explain it right here, right now. Sighing, Ibara sat up in his seat and looked over to Nazuna, flashing a small smile, which looked much like a smirk. “I’ll take up your task.”

Nazuna sighed in relief, he was so, so thankful that Ibara would be able to look over his Little Bun while he was on vacation. That was one of the hurdles in the way, the other being having to let go of Mitsuru for some time. Which he wasn’t looking forward to, and he could already feel Mitsuru not looking forward to it as well.

“You’ve also lucked out in the fact that our other dormmates are out as well.” Ibara responded, “summer break and taking vacations means a lot to others, I’ve observed.”

Nazuna nods, sitting upright in his chair, “Ibara. Can I entrust you with this task? I can leave my number with you if you have any questions. However, I do need to know that you are one hundred percent confident in yourself.”

“You can count on me, Nito-sama. I will not let you down.” Ibara answered, gathering his belongings, bowing in front of Nazuna.

“Thank you, Ibara.” Nazuna stood up as well, however not yet ready to leave, as he bowed in return. “I will see you tomorrow, then?”

“Tomorrow it is.” Ibara responds, walking out of the establishment and making his way back towards the dormitory.

Nazuna watched as Ibara left the cafe, sitting back down upon his chair. He could only think about how Mitsuru would react to this news, hopefully it wasn’t negative.

Leaning back, he sighed. “Oh my Little Bun, the things I do for you to make sure you’re taken care of.” Nazuna thought to himself, smiling as he let out a small chuckle.

Chapter Text

It's Alright

Normally Nazuna wouldn’t be exhausted from climbing up the flight of stairs that led to the dorm that Mitsuru resided in, but this time he had been carrying a heavy sack of toys and clothing that were specifically for Mitsuru. 'I didn’t expect this to be so heavy. Maybe I should cut down on shopping for him.' Nazuna thought to himself, but cracked a small smile at this. He huffed as he finally reached the level where the dorm was at. Dropping the sack carefully upon the floor, he knocks on the door gently, waiting for a response on the other side.

The clicking sound of a lock could be heard as he saw the door open, only to be greeted by Ibara. This time, he wasn’t attached to his tablet as he normally would.

“Ah, Nito-shi. Come on in.” He greets the other, widely opening the door to welcome in Nazuna.

“Thank you.” Nazuna responds, carrying the sack again, grunting subtly as he slings the strap over his shoulder.

“Is this your luggage for your vacation?” Ibara inquires.

“It’s for Mitsuru, actually.” Nazuna answers, “it’s… a little heavy, but it contains various things for him. Where can I set this down?” He asks.

Ibara looked around, thinking of where Nazuna should put down the sack. While it would be logical to go and put it in Mitsuru’s room, the convenience would be to put it on the couch for the time being, so that he would have easier access to it. Perhaps then he could either put it in Mitsuru’s room, or his own room.

“You can set it down on the couch for now. I’ll relocate it afterwards.” Ibara spoke, gesturing over to the couch that sat in the communal living room.

Taking a heavy exhale, Nazuna puts down the sack, then lets out a small chuckle. “I was thinking to myself, perhaps I should lay off on buying things for Mitsuru. That’s pretty much what’s all in here, really.” He states, then smiling sheepishly as he approaches Ibara.

“I see…” Ibara remarks, looking over towards the bag, it did indeed look quite heavy. Hopefully that wouldn’t pose a problem for himself.

“Thank you again for accepting this, you don’t know how much it means to me, Ibara.” Nazuna said, then looking around the room. “I don’t suppose Mitsuru is still in his room?” He asks.

“Yes, actually… he hasn’t come out all day.” Ibara responds, “I haven’t seen much of him today, actually. However, I did offer him snacks and water, but I never got a response out of him.” He informed Nazuna, gesturing over towards the room where Mitsuru spent his time in.

In response to this, Nazuna sighs. “I figured. Please excuse me, I’ll go speak to him.”

“No worries, I’ll… be here.” Ibara said, sitting down on the couch, picking up his tablet from the coffee table.

Nazuna nods, walking over to the small hall of doors, looking around, he did find a stool with a small tray of snacks and a glass of iced water upon it. Seemingly untouched. This upset Nazuna, 'is Mitsuru really that upset? He thought to himself, leaning into the door and pressing his ear against it, he couldn’t hear much. 'Perhaps he could still be asleep… Nazuna took his phone out, looking at the time. It was already past afternoon, no way that Mitsuru was still sleeping.

This wasn’t like him! He would normally be so full of energy, excited to start the day and go out to make the best of his day! Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for this specific day.

Taking a deep breath, Nazuna knocks on the door.

“I don’t want any snacks, Ibara-senpai.” A dull voice could be heard from behind the door.

Finagling with the knob, Nazuna comes to find out that Mitsuru had locked it.

“Mitsuru, it’s me.” Nazuna stands back from the door.

Hearing the door unlock quickly and the whooshing of an opening door, a somber-looking Mitsuru stood on the other side. “Niichan… you came!” Mitsuru’s face brightened up, if only a little, before he threw himself upon Nazuna.

“Of course I did. I had to visit my Little Honeybun before I left on vacation.” He holds Mitsuru close, leaning on his chest, listening to his heartbeat.

They shared a moment of peace and silence, before Mitsuru detached himself from Nazuna, taking his hand to lead him into his room. And of course, Nazuna followed along silently, letting Mitsuru take him wherever he pleased.

His room was littered with stuffed animals, all that Nazuna had bought for him over the past month. Some sat on the bed, but most of the others sat in a corner of his room, stacked up upon each other against the wall. In that same corner, laid out a puzzle piece mat, and scattered toys of various kinds upon the floor. Though most of them were soft toys, they were all just as well loved as any other toy Mitsuru owned.

He had his desk, which was decorated with stickers of all kinds, his laptop that sat at his desk, all his books, manga, coloring books, and stationery. He had a few figures of cute animals sitting atop his desk frame, and it was cluttered with sticky notes on it as well. Most of them stand as reminders for him, and some of them with study tips as well.

Mitsuru sat down on the bed, patting an empty space that was next to him, and Nazuna sat down right next to him.

“Do you want to talk about it, Little Bun?” Nazuna offered, taking his hand and rubbing it with his thumb ever so gently.

“I don’t want you to leave, Niichan.” Mitsuru responds, a tone of sadness could be heard in his voice, something that was very rare for Mitsuru to ever experience.

This struck something within Nazuna. He felt guilty. He felt saddened. He knew he couldn’t leave Mitsuru behind. But it was something he had to do for once. Not of his own accord, but at the same time, he is leaving Mitsuru with someone reliable. Someone that he could trust to take care of him.

Sighing, Nazuna took in a deep breath, then exhaled. Taking both of Mitsuru’s hands into his own.

“I know it’s very hard for both of us. Trust me, I don’t want to leave you. But things in life happen like this. You just have to know that I will be back for you.” He looked up at Mitsuru with hopeful eyes, “and besides, I’ve entrusted Ibara to take care of you while I’m gone. Remember how you’ve always told me that you’ve gotten a certain caregiver-like vibe from him?” Nazuna asks.

Mitsuru nods, keeping silent as Nazuna speaks.

“Well, now is your chance to see for yourself.” He said, “I’ll explain everything to him to make it as comfortable for the both of you.” Nazuna explained to Mitsuru, “I would assure only the best for my Little Bunny.” He spoke with a gentle tone of voice, giving Mitsuru a little boop! Upon his nose.

In response to this, Mitsuru wrinkles his nose, much like how a bunny would, and he smiles. “I trust you, Niichan.” He spoke, “I’m just a little nervous, that’s all! I mean, yeah. I do technically live and share this space with Ibara-senpai, and we exchange our hellos and goodbyes and have small talk… but to take a relationship like that to the next level… how scary…” He mused aloud, looking away from Nazuna.

“Just always remember to be yourself, okay? That’s all I ask of you.” Nazuna responds, “Oh! And to just be good, okay? Please be good.” He asks of him, pulling Mitsuru into a hug.

Mitsuru simply rests his head upon Nazuna’s shoulder, inhaling and exhaling softly. He grabs the soft fabric of Nazuna’s shirt gently, not wanting to let go of the hug just yet.

The two stay silent for a moment, letting each other embrace each other for the last time for a while. That is, before Mitsuru finally separates himself from Nazuna. “Okay. I think I will be okay, Niichan. I’ll be good, and I promise to be on my best behavior. All for you, Niichan.”

“There’s my good boy.” Nazuna praises Mitsuru, reaching up to scruff his brown, soft hair. He stands up, walking out of the room, and before leaving, he spots the snack tray and water just outside of the door. Grabbing it, he returns into the room, setting the tray down upon Mitsuru’s desk. “Here, if you’re not going to go outside any time soon, you should at least have something to eat and drink. It’s provided by Ibara, he knows what’s good for you, okay?”

Mitsuru looked over to the snack tray, nodding and giving Nazuna a weak smile. “Okay, thank you Niichan. Uuu.. tell Ibara-senpai I said thank you as well, please.” He responds nervously.

“No worries, will do.” Nazuna responds.

“And leave my door a little open, too.” Mitsuru requests.

“Got it, Honeybun.” Nazuna nods, finally stepping back out of the room, leaving the door open ever so slightly, as he returns back to the living room.

“Did it go well with Mitsuru..?” Ibara asks, not looking up from his tablet.

“Well, I convinced him that everything will be fine, thankfully.” Nazuna answered, sitting down upon the couch. “He said thank you for the tray of snacks and water, by the way. He’s still a tad shy to tell you himself, and wanted me to relay the message to you.” He said, smiling sheepishly.

“... It’s a start, I suppose.” Ibara shifts his gaze from his tablet, laying it down across the coffee table. “Mind informing me more about this particular behavior? With your word, I can hopefully understand it more.” He asks, pushing his glasses up.

“Where do I begin…” Nazuna muses to himself, one leg crossed over the other.

“Can I fetch you a snack? Perhaps a drink while you ponder?” Ibara spoke up.

“Ah, no, I should be fine.” Nazuna raised his hand up, “just give me a second to gather my thoughts…” He stays quiet for a few moments, before speaking up once more. “In simple terms, Mitsuru age regresses. Meaning he reverts to a younger state of mind. He often does this when he is overly stressed out, or to deal with anything that overwhelms him.” Nazuna pauses, “most of the time he’ll give you signs of when he’s regressed.” Nazuna explains, “though I will let you know, he is partially regressed at this moment, so just make sure to take it easy on him when interacting with him, understood?”

Ibara nods, humming an affirmation. “You have my word, Nito-shi.” He raises his hand up to his forehead, as a salute and confirmation that he understood what Nazuna had relayed to him. However, he was to make sure to search up anything that could help him along the way.

Nazuna then gestures over to the bag that sat on the couch, “there should be a few contents that should help you with Mitsuru. There’s an assortment of toys, clothing, and other items as well.” He explains, grabbing the bag, zipping it open and pulling out a few soft toys, “Mitsuru is pretty good about letting you know what he wants, so things shouldn’t be too much of a hassle when it comes to getting the contents from this bag.”

“Anything else I should be concerned with..?” Ibara asks.

“Not that I can think of.” He then pulls out a folded slip of paper from his pocket, sliding it over towards Ibara. “Here’s my number, just in case you need to contact me with any questions and whatnot.”

Ibara takes the folded paper, stuffing it into his own pocket. “I’ll remember to contact you in case I have any questions.” Ibara inhaled deeply, then exhaled sharply. This was definitely a task that he had never tackled before, but he would go into it head first. It was all a matter of trial and error at this point. “Thank you, Nito-shi. I’ll make sure to take care of Mitsuru and look over him while you’re gone.”

Nazuna sighs contently, “thank you Ibara. I’ll have to repay you somehow.”

“No need to.” Ibara responds.

Standing up from the couch and stretching out, Nazuna walks towards the door, a smile upon his face. “I should get going now. Again, thank you. You don’t know how much I appreciate it.” He states, opening the door.

Ibara stands up, following suit. “No worries, you enjoy yourself on your vacation, Nito-shi. You’ve left Mitsuru in caring hands.” He states.

“I’ll see the both of you in about a week.” Nazuna informed him, “bye, Mitsu-chan!” Nazuna shouts out.

No answer.

“Ah, he might just be eating and in the moment. That’s alright. He knows of my departure.” Nazuna said, almost sadly. “I should be on my way.”

“See you in a couple of days, Nito-shi.” Ibara states.

“You too, Ibara.” Nazuna answers, leaving the room, the door closing behind him.

Ibara’s phone makes a small ding! To catch his attention, it was simply only a reminder that Nazuna would visit before his departure, it seems like the visit was earlier than expected. Better late than never, at least. While Ibara still had his phone out, he slid his hand into his pocket, pulling out the thin slip of paper that he was handed over by Nazuna. ‘I should insert his number into my phone…’ He mutters to himself, walking over to the couch to sit down, inserting Nazuna’s number into his phone, saving it, and sending a quick message over.

[TEXT] Hello Nito-shi, this is Ibara.
[TEXT] I wanted to inform you that I have now saved your number to my contacts.

{TEXT} Thank you, Ibara!!
{TEXT} By the way, if Mitsuru still seems upset. Make him some hot chocolate if you have the ingredients to do so.
{TEXT} And tell him that it’s made the way that I would. I think it would cheer him up!

[TEXT] Will do. Thank you.

Putting the phone down next to his tablet, Ibara sits up from the couch, looking over towards Mitsuru’s room, the tray that once had snacks and water on it was empty. He passed by swiftly, picking the tray up, not yet wanting to check on Mitsuru just yet, hopefully when he would arrive with the hot beverage, Mitsuru would want to open up.

Arriving in the kitchen, Ibara sets down the tray in the sink. He’ll remind himself to wash it later. For now, he reaches up into one of the cabinets, browsing many of the plain mugs that he shared between himself and his roommates… He picks up a mug that was decorated with bunnies. This one he knew for sure was Mitsuru’s special mug. If not Mitsuru’s, then either Midori’s or Tsumugi’s.

He walks into their small pantry, turning on the light to illuminate the small room. Inside were a bunch of snacks of all kinds, ingredients for food, canned fruits and vegetables, and even soups. “Hmmm.. we must have it somewhere…” Ibara hummed to himself as he began to shuffle through items in the pantry. The closet was a mess, but an organized one, it was just hard to find what he needed for the occasion.

Ibara took out a pack of powdered hot chocolate, stepped out of the pantry, and closed its door. He set it upon the counter next to the mug that he selected, and walked over to the refrigerator, taking out a jug of milk. Judging by its weight, there was enough milk to at least make a full mug. ‘Mmm.. I think I can heat this up in the microwave…’ He thought to himself, walking back over to the counter with the supplies necessary to make hot chocolate. Filling up the mug slowly, he makes sure not to overfill it, sighing as he tops it off.
Carrying the mug with one hand on the handle, the other hand underneath the mug, he walks over to the microwave, taking the hand that was under the mug, opening the microwave and putting it in there to heat up…

Beep! Beep! Beep!

The alarm of the microwave was set off, just in time as Ibara put the milk back into the fridge. He hastily walks over to the appliance, opening it and removing the mug carefully, and bringing it back to the counter. Ibara opens up the pack of powdered hot chocolate, pouring it into the heated milk, and mixing it with a spoon that he grabbed earlier. Scooping a small amount of liquid with the spoon, he blows on it softly, taking a sip… ‘Perfect.’ He cracks a small smile.

Ibara makes a slow, but steady walk over to Mitsuru’s room, setting the mug down on the stool momentarily, he knocks on the door softly, clearing his throat before he spoke out gently.

“Mitsuru-kun, it’s me. Do you want some hot chocolate? I made it just how Nito-shi makes it for you.” He said, using the way that Nazuna recommended he tell Mitsuru how the hot chocolate was prepared.

There was still no answer.

“Mitsuru-kun..?” He spoke again.

The creaking of a bed can be heard, and the sound of light footsteps were shuffling across the floor.

The door opens ever so slightly, from the other side, Ibara could see Mitsuru, eyes puffy from crying, cheeks flushed red.

Mitsuru sniffles, rubbing his eyes with his sleeves.

“It’s Nii-chan.” He simply said, to correct Ibara.

Chapter Text

There was a moment of silence between the two. Ibara standing in front of Mitsuru awkwardly, realizing his first mistake he made. Mitsuru looked up at Ibara with wet eyes, a flushed face, and a drained expression.

“I-it…” Mitsuru pauses, ”I call him Nii-chan.” Mitsuru broke the silence, sounding seemingly less peeved from Ibara’s mistake.

“Sorry Mitsuru-kun.” He holds out the mug of hot chocolate to him. “I suppose I’m not used to calling him that, yet.” Ibara apologizes, smiling gently. “Why don’t you come out of your room for a little bit, and we can have a chat on the couch while you drink that. Does that sound good?” Ibara asks, hoping that he could successfully coax Mitsuru out of his room.

Gently opening his door a little further, Mitsuru steps out of his room, grabbing the mug from Ibara’s hands gently.

As soon as Mitsuru grabbed the mug, Ibara turned to walk into the living room, gesturing for Mitsuru to follow along. And he complied. He followed along much like a puppy to its owner.

The both of them sat down in silence for some time, and if for a moment… it felt like time completely stopped. As if the both of them were in their own little realm, waiting for someone to break the ice, patiently waiting… and waiting.

And waiting.

With the tick-tock sound of a clock, and the occasional sipping sound of Mitsuru drinking from his mug. Ibara couldn’t help but attempt to start something, even if it was just small talk for the time being.

He clears his throat, shifting his position on the couch, he still sits upright, but against the arm of the couch. Ibara looked over to Mitsuru, his legs crossed over another, and his arms folded over another as well.

“Mitsuru-kun? How are you feeling?” Ibara asked, it was simple enough, and guaranteed to start a little conversation.

Except there was still a moment of silence between them. Various thoughts ran through Mitsuru’s head, all of varying nature, but most of them perceived as negative and intrusive thoughts.
He was looking down at his mug of hot chocolate, which had since cooled down, leaving it warm and silky, perfect for drinking. Though he focused on his reflection, looking at his dreary face that stared back at him. Mitsuru took in a deep breath, held it in for a couple of seconds, then exhaled.

He opened his mouth to speak, “A little lost and afraid,” he spoke out, not looking over towards Ibara just yet, “if I’m being completely honest.” Mitsuru answers, raising his mug up to his mouth, sipping his drink, feeling its warmth travel throughout him, and he sets the mug down on the coffee table in front of them.

Ibara wasn’t the best when it came to things like these, but there was never a better time to learn than now. “I see.”

No he didn’t.

Damn it, you idiot. Is that all you really had to say? Come on. Do better.’ Ibara thought to himself, “would you like to talk about it, Mitsuru-kun?” He invites Mitsuru to talk about his feelings, “I don’t mean to sound like I’m prying upon your business, but I want to offer out a hand to assist you through your feelings.”

That’s better.

Mitsuru looked up, and towards Ibara. A gentle smile spread across his face, surely, but slowly. “Ibara-chan-senpai…” He muttered, taking in a deep breath. “I’m not sure how to explain it really, but I’ll do my best.” Mitsuru responds, gathering his thoughts and thinking how to explain to Ibara of his lost and afraid emotions that took over him.

“Imagine, if you could, that you’re in a room. This room is empty. There is no furniture, there are no windows. The only thing existing in that room is you, nobody else to accompany you.” Mitsuru started out, beginning to paint a picture with his words. “In that room, it’s just you, alone with your thoughts. Sometimes it can become scary, it can almost feel like you’re suffocating, even.” He sighs, letting out an exasperated breath, trying to forget the imagery of such a room. “Does it make sense now?” He asked.

Ibara sat there, paying attention to every word that came out of Mitsuru’s mouth. Nodding along and letting out a few hums of affirmation as he spoke. “I get what you mean, Mitsuru-kun.” He states, “it can seem frightening, isn’t it?” He affirms, “is this because Nazu-...” There was a pause, Ibara was a bit hesitant to use such a silly little nickname, but if it was for Mitsuru’s sake… “Is this because Nii-chan won’t be here for some time?” He asks.

Mitsuru stayed silent, but gave a gentle nod, leaning up against the couch, almost wishing he could just sink into it and hide away. He knew he needed to trust Ibara, but a little part of him couldn’t help but still be embarrassed. However, that did bring up a thought to his mind.

“Ibara-chan-senpai. Did Nii-chan explain everything to you?” Mitsuru asked.

“Hm?” Ibara let out a small hum, “about the… regression, correct?” Ibara states, looking over to Mitsuru, who had tried hiding himself away as soon as Ibara mentioned it. “Sorry, Mitsuru-kun, I didn’t mean to-”

“It’s okay, Ibara-chan-senpai. I just… get shy, is all. Especially when someone who is new to knowing about it speaks of it aloud.” Mitsuru consoles Ibara, letting him know that it was alright to tread into that sort of territory. “But… what I can do is explain it to you in my words, just in case you want a different sort of… perspective upon it.” Mitsuru suggests.

“I think that would be a splendid idea, Mitsuru-kun.” Ibara states, sitting upright and ready to pay attention to what Mitsuru would have to say about his own regression.

Mitsuru shifts positions, almost sitting the same way that Ibara was. Legs crossed over another, sitting up against the couch’s armrest, simply without folding his arms over another, he busied his hands with playing with the fabric of the shirt that he was currently wearing. “Okay… where do I begin…” Mitsuru hummed to himself.

“So, for me. My age regression is something that I can… seek refuge in. Whether I’m scared, upset, or anxious. It’s something that I can rely on to help me cope through those emotions.” He began, “sure, it may seem like it would backfire and it shouldn’t be something that I should rely on to help me… but somehow, it just fits, y’know?” He states. “Like the last puzzle piece in a whole puzzle. It makes me feel whole. My regression makes me feel safe.” Mitsuru lets out a content sigh. “While I can occupy myself in my regressed space, I feel much better when I have someone watching over me. Like Nii-chan.” He said, “but… he’s not here now. So that’s why I have to trust in you, Ibara-chan-senpai!” Mitsuru exclaims, “I’m just a little shy, is all.”

Ibara takes in all this information, analyzing every word carefully, and attempting to make sense in his own words out of it. Taking a deep breath, he gently nods, a small smile spreading across his face. “I believe I understand now, thank you, Mitsuru-kun.” He responds, looking over to the mug that Mitsuru had set down on the coffee table earlier, there was still a good amount of the beverage left in the mug. “Are you going to finish your drink? I would hate it if it were to become cold.”

“Oh! Thank you, Ibara.” Mitsuru shifts positions, reaching out for the mug, and continually drinking from it.

The two of them sat in silence yet again while Mitsuru drank the rest of his, now cold, hot cocoa from the mug.

“I’ve finished now, Ibara.” Mitsuru spoke up, holding the mug towards him.

“Hm?” Ibara looked over to Mitsuru, confused as to why he held out the mug towards him, but perhaps it was one of those things that would help their bond with one another. “Thank you, Mitsuru-kun. I’m going to put it away, I’ll be back shortly.” He states, gently taking the mug from Mitsuru’s hands, then standing up and walking over to the kitchen.

Mitsuru sits in silence for some time while Ibara is away, before he spots the bag that Nazuna had left for him. The bag was somewhat familiar, Nazuna always had it around when Mitsuru was in his small headspace! Eagerly, Mitsuru scoots towards the bag, zipping it open, to be greeted by his regression gear.

Plushies, clothing, toys, and more! Mitsuru’s eyes sparkled upon seeing these items, he took out his favorite bunny plushie, colored a light blue and cream. It was soft to the touch, and very slightly worn down from how much Mitsuru snuggled with it and carried it around with him!

It wasn’t too long before Ibara returns, sitting back down on the couch, this time nearer Mitsuru, hoping to form a sense of approachability between the two. “So, I see … Nii-chan, brought you some stuff, yes?” Ibara inquired, looking over Mitsuru’s shoulder, only able to see the head of the plush bunny that he was holding.

Mitsuru looked over his shoulder, shifting his position to look over to Ibara. “Mhm.” He hummed, holding the plush bunny out to Ibara. “This is one of my favorite plushies, his name is Sugar, and he is very soft.” Mitsuru spoke softly, shyly, even. He then sets down the plush in between himself and Ibara, gesturing that Ibara could inspect it if he so desired. ‘Sugar… I’ll have to remember your name in order to appease Mitsuru-kun.’ Ibara thought to himself, picking up the little bunny plush.

True to Mitsuru’s word, the plush was soft to the touch, even if it did look a little worn down and had seen better days, it was still quite taken care of. Ibara couldn’t help but wonder… he lifts the plush up near his nose, sniffing it.

Lavender.

Mitsuru, covered with a bunch of plushies and other toys, looked over to Ibara. “Oh! I forgot to say, Sugar smells like lavender! It reminds me of Hajime-chan~!” He spoke in a sing-song voice. “Even down to the colors, it’s like Hajime-chan is always with me!” Mitsuru said excitedly, looking towards Ibara, scooting closer to him, the toys littering the floor and the couch. “I see you like him too, Ibara-chan-senpai!” Mitsuru giggles, “you can hang out with Sugar for the rest of the day, if you’d like.” He says, then backing up to put away all the toys and the clothes that spilled out of the bag that Nazuna brought over. “I’m going to put this stuff in my room now.” He responds, standing up from the couch, and bringing it over to his room.

And now it was just Ibara and Sugar. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. How hard could it be, really?

Standing up from the couch with Sugar in hand, Ibara takes out his phone. No new notifications, or messages… or anything, really. However, it was just about lunchtime, and Ibara did not feel like cooking today. Sighing, he walked over to Mitsuru’s room, knocking on the door a couple of times. “Mitsuru-kun, can I come in?” He asks, gently.

“Of course!” Mitsuru shouts from the inside. He was, thankfully, happier than he was earlier today.

Pushing the door ever so slightly, Ibara got his first look inside Mitsuru’s dorm room. It was very befitting of him, from his messy desk, to the corner filled with plushies and toys. How quaint.

“I was thinking.” Ibara spoke up, “would you like to go out somewhere for lunch? My treat, of course.” He says.

“Oh! Would I!” Mitsuru perks up, already ready to leave.

“You can’t go in your pajamas, Mitsuru-kun.” Ibara states, “I’ll wait in the living room for you. Alright?” He says as he turns away from Mitsuru’s room, heading back over to the couch where they were both previously sitting.

“Okay, Ibara-chan senpai!” Mitsuru shouts excitedly, closing the door as soon as Ibara turned away.

What would Mitsuru even like to eat?? I can’t possibly take him out to a bakery for some bread. He needs nutrition.’ Ibara thought to himself as he took his phone out, looking through some nearby restaurants, ‘Ramen seems simple enough. Everyone likes Ramen, that wouldn't exclude Mitsuru-kun, I believe.’ He puts his phone back in his pocket, just in time for Mitsuru to come back out.

He was dressed in yellow overalls, with a sky blue and white striped shirt, along with some primary colored shoes with yellow wing accessories on them, and white tube socks with a lego block pattern on them. “I’m ready to go Ibara-chan senpai~!” He strikes a cute pose as he stands in front of Ibara. “I made sure to bring along my backpack as well, just in case!” Mitsuru turns around, showing off his backpack with various keychains attached to it.

“You’re going dressed like that?” Ibara replies, tilting his head and raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah? I’m most comfortable dressed like this!” Mitsuru chimed, bouncing in place. “Now c’mon, I’m hungry!” Mitsuru exclaims excitedly, running towards the door.

“Mitsuru-kun, you have to wait for me. I’m the one leading the way.” Ibara states, standing up from the couch. He taps his back pocket, making sure that he had his wallet along with him. Clearing his throat, he approaches the door, opening it, and stepping out.

“Come along, Mitsuru-kun. Let’s go have some lunch.” Ibara says.

Mitsuru excitedly steps out of the dorm. “Let’s go on an adventure!”