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A Long Time Now

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How many times have they shared this bed over the years? Neither could tell you.

Countless nights have been spent together whispering, sharing stories, laughing; Michael urging Yuma to get to sleep, we have school tomorrow--well, one more story couldn't hurt, he supposes (and supposes, and supposes, until they've talked themselves hoarse and the sun is peeking over the hills).

This arrangement remains, despite the change in direction their relationship has taken. The addition of hugs, kisses, holding hands--none of it changes the foundation of closeness they have. At first it had worried Michael, as he turned the confession over and over in his mind, that everything would change drastically, reset their connection to square one of something unfamiliar-or, worse, destroy it completely. But the opposite had been true; when Michael had finally revealed the feelings that had eaten at him for so long he couldn't bear it any longer, Yuma had not only accepted them, but knocked them both to the ground with the eagerness of his embrace.

Michael still wonders, though, whether Yuma knows just how long he'd felt this way for him.

The dark makes it easier for Michael to say things he's been holding inside. The quiet makes him feel safe, his secrets protected by the stillness around them. It feels like he and Yuma are the only two people in the world as he reaches for Yuma's hand under the blanket and brings it to his cheek. "Yuma." he whispers, and feels himself trembling a bit; his feelings are welling up in his chest, at the base of his throat, overwhelming him in the best way.

"Hm?" Yuma shifts, rolling onto his side so that he and Michael are face-to-face. His eyes are drooping; he was probably nearly asleep just now. Still, he manages a warm smile and props himself up on his elbow. "What's up?"

Michael breathes deeply through his nose to steady himself and squeezes Yuma's hand. When Yuma squeezes back he feels the corners of his mouth quirk upward. He lowers their hands, resting them between them on the blankets, and props himself up as Yuma did.

"I'm just thinking. Well, I've been thinking." He hesitates a moment, but Yuma's expression, open and eager, urges him forward. It always does. "Even before I confessed to you I...felt this way about you for a long time. Years. I just thought you should know that. It felt weird keeping it to myself."

Yuma sits frozen for a few long seconds, eyes like saucers. If the light of the moon were brighter, the darkening of his cheeks would reveal itself bright scarlet. Michael feels awkward now and begins to slip his hand away from the other boy's, but Yuma suddenly grips him tightly and shoots upright into a sitting position. Michael awkwardly fumbles for balance, and when he's facing Yuma again, Yuma is...laughing?

Michael furrows his brow, about to snap in embarrassment, but Yuma interrupts him. "This is just...this is so weird, I can't help but laugh, cause what are the odds of you thinking the exact same thing as me, you know?"

"Wait. You mean you...?" Michael searches for words, none of them making any sense to him because the world has flipped itself around.

"Yes!" Yuma says, nodding. "I mean, I didn't understand it at first, but it started to come together. I felt like you wouldn't like me though, not like that, so I didn't say anything. But then you asked me to be your boyfriend, and I was so happy, I couldn't sit still!"

Michael snickers and interjects gently, "As if you ever do, anyway."

Yuma giggles. "That's how you live by kattobing! But anyway." His expression softens, taking on an uncharacteristic bashfulness. "I've loved you a long time, too."

Love. Neither has said that word yet. It's hanging heavy between them, and Michael doesn't know what to do other than repeat it. "I love you." It tastes rich and fills his head with a heady fog. He places a soft, quick kiss on Yuma's lips.

Their eyes meet again when they pull away. Yuma is glowing right now, Michael thinks, even in the darkness. Maybe especially in the darkness, actually; after all, wasn't that why he fell for him in the first place? He feels himself falling again.

How many times, he wonders, will he fall for Yuma? He wouldn't be able to tell you.