You don't like this place.
Sure, it's not all bad. You do like that it's where Kousuke is, and where your parents aren't. The first time you were here was made of perpetual amazement: the sheer size of the flat, the sprawling balcony, white couches and a TV screen larger than your bedroom wall -and the way he stayed within four meters of you from the moment your eyes met to when you went home for fresh clothes after spending two days in his bed -and on both couches and in the bathtub and against the kitchen counter- getting every shred of sanity teased out of you. No one who isn't a stock trade genius could even dream of affording a place like this at your age, and even you have fond memories woven into every room, but...
It's too big for one person, if that person can never settle down. Kousuke's deal with his brother makes him a permanent guest in his own living space. He carries a two-meter radius area of home around him, but barring exceptions (like today, when he seemed to neither know nor care that your shoes were leaving muddy prints all over the bathroom floor) everywhere else is squeaky clean and unlived in, waiting for the real master of the house to come back.
You never told him about the nightmare in which you kept running around the place looking for him, knowing he was here somewhere, and never found more of his presence than a vague aftertaste in the air when you walked into a room he'd just left. He'd think it's silly (he might be right), and you don't know how well you'd deal with one of the weary sighs that he perfected over the years as Tajima and Mihashi's unsung handler.
And maybe, that dream comes a little too close to reality sometimes. In this place, you leave and he doesn't say a thing; come back, and it's like you were always here. There's still your half-full bottle of shampoo on the side of the bathtub, the free shelf in the closet from which you took down a pile of your shirts, the extra phone charger plugged under his desk. Whether you're here or not, the place is big enough for twelve.
He has no need for the space you take up.
And sure, experience plays against him being even mildly surprised when it turns out that you still don't know how to just be a friend, instead of a hormonal teenager who can't seem to make the difference between 'look' and 'want' when it comes to him. But it's disheartening how he barely glances at you from his slouch in the armchair when you walk into the living room.
There are sheets of paper spread all around him and an open binder on his legs, that are propped on the coffee table. He must have been sitting here for hours. So rare for him to have to spend a Sunday afternoon studying. It would be another layer of guilt, for messing with his schedule, but he's not the coddling type. Too much strength in him and not enough patience, perhaps, and he does bruise with bluntness sometimes, but at least...
At least, when he says it's fine to come back, there's no doubt that it is. That he hasn't given up on you yet and is giving you another opportunity to try and get your act together.
"I brought dinner," you tell him, holding up the bag your mother forced on you. He looks up properly this time, exhales, relaxes from a tension you hadn't really noticed.
"I'm starting to think that your mother has plans to eat me at some family dinner." He rubs at his eyes, tiredly.
"She's just grateful to have me out of the house," you admit, grimacing. It's not like you don't have a life that takes you out of there most of the time, but lately both your parents have been hinting that it might be time for you to leave the nest. Said 'hints' are rather like a baseball bat to the head these days, but you don't want to rush out and end up in the sort of hell-hole Abe has to sleep in. Even here would be better, but you're not the kind of person who can pack everything up at an hour's notice, which as far as you know would be the only requirement.
So far, your parents' loaded comments are still the best option. Plus, Kousuke likes her cooking far more than you ever did, and, well. In a situation where you're the one pleading for something he has no reason to give -except he's good to the people he cares about and, yes, the sex is fantastic- you're not above using petty bribery to balance the scales.
"Also, she said you always look too thin, and your mom will hold her responsible if she doesn't do anything about it."
He looks about to say something, but is interrupted by a loud rumbling growl coming from the general area of his stomach, which does make you wonder when he last had something to eat. Not since you were here earlier, certainly, and who knows what he was up to last night.
You certainly don't. Don't know, don't want to, don't want to even think about it. His business, what he does and who with, what had him out all night on little to no sleep and back wearing no underwear. You're the beggar here.
He raises an eyebrow, still looking at the bag, and speaks gravely. "Well. If I really have to."
No one does deadpan quite as he does. It makes you crack up, laugh out loud for the first time in weeks. It's uncontrollable and out of place and noisy and it feels. So. Good.
That's when he finally looks at you and smiles -- really smiles, eyes crinkled at the corners and sharing his amusement instead of keeping it locked and private. That feels even better. This is something you were already longing for weeks before you gathered every bit of determination you ever had and walked out the door (again) a month (six days four hours) ago.
Your eyes rove over him as he stretches, arms and shoulders and neck, and you don't think you'll ever forget that Sunday morning one autumn when he was preparing to be the first batter on the field, already gauging up the pitcher, and you unexpectedly thought look at me so hard you could taste it on your tongue. The shock of this thought you couldn't begin to explain followed you all the way to the third inning, when he was the one who took you aside to ask if you were feeling alright, if you needed to switch out -- and all you could do was shake your head mutely and hope you weren't blushing from how blue his eyes were in the morning light.
It took you the best part of two years to become aware of him, but you have been ever since; now more than ever as he walks up to you, stops a step away and stands there with a raised eyebrow and you have no idea...
Oh. He's trying to go to the kitchen, isn't he. He's hungry, you brought food, it needs to be reheated. Therefore, kitchen. Groundbreaking cerebral activity here.
His hand catches you before you can step out of the way, sneaking behind your neck (so freakishly quick sometimes, your lead-off hitter) to tug you closer, into the kind of kiss he wouldn't give you this morning, slow and deliberate and mindblowing.
He's indiscriminately generous with his time and his body when they're needed. You wish they weren't. Or that you were able to give something back. But so far, every attempt to not be a burden to the life he wants to have has led you right back here.
"I'm sorry," you breathe against his lips, and leave him to understand why.
He doesn't answer, but his hand on the nape of your neck pulls a little tighter, his body draws a little closer, and if he can still kiss you like that, if he still hasn't kicked you out of his life for good, then...
At least for the time being, you're fine.