Atsuki was a stalker, and he knew it. He was standing on the bridge across a river, pretending to listen to music as he stared into the sunlit water—he knew he was a stalker, but he couldn't help it.
It was worth it when a deliriously happy Shinen mixed in with liberal amounts of love came up behind him. An extremely happy, extremely familiar Shinen.
When the Shinen passed, he absently turned his head and watched a couple as they walked, hand in hand, away from him, with the girl laughing uproariously. With a small, slightly regretful smile tugging at the corner of his lips, he walked in the other direction.
He was out of sight when she looked back.
He made a small turnover in another city while waiting for his connecting flight and hung back in the corner of a room. Not even needing his powers to see the ease with which they moved among each other, how they laughed and joked in complete sincerity, Atsuki smiled a bit wistfully at the raised voices.
One scratched the pool ball completely and endured the good-natured ribbing from his friends. Laughing and scratching the back of his head sheepishly, he thought he saw something familiar at the edge of his sight and turned, others following him.
The corner was empty, the door to the room falling shut.
Stopping in yet another city, he sat on a branch high on a tree and looked out.
Beneath him, two teens sat on the swings, idly pushing back and forth as they chatted. Atsuki glanced down and saw the fuzzy pink Shinen of love pop up, and he did it with a bittersweet pang in his heart. Pressing his fingers to his lips, he watched as the swings grew closer, pushing the two teens together.
He watched as the boys kissed.
When they broke apart, one of them looked toward the tree, thinking someone he knew was there.
All he saw was a black-clothed form slipping off into the distance, leaves drifting lazily to the ground.
Atsuki briefly stopped in China, had dim sum with Meilin and her imposing parents. He told her that he couldn't return her feelings.
He showed her the panda doll he kept and held her as she cried.
He smiled when she saw him off at the airport, pushing him in the back and telling him to go for it. He responded with a shy kiss on her cheek, one which caused both their faces to flush.
She was still watching him when he left.
He made it onto the bridge as the sun was reaching its zenith. Remembering how Nami sat there, telling him how no one would forget, because not even God himself could take their relationship away.
He stepped forward and heard the terrifying screech of tire on asphalt and dodged to the side as a bike skidded to a halt in front of him.
He wasn't ready for the slap which stung his cheek.
"Dammit Saijo, do you know how worried we've been?" Atsuki barely had time to comprehend that before Rui enveloped him in a large hug. "How could you just leave like that?"
"I'm... sorry," was all he could offer, and barely at that, what with the way Rui was attempting to choke the life out of him. "Rui... Air..."
Rui set him down before preceding to hastily wipe away her tears. She got back onto the bike, looking at him sternly. "Get on." Her voice brooked no contest, so he timidly got on and hesitantly put his arms around her waist. As soon as she did, she kicked the bike into gear, and it was all he could do to hold on for dear life. He thought he could hear Rui mutter things under her breath in a dark tone, and he could feel the irritation in her Shinen.
He decided it was best to not speak.
They skidded to a stop in front of Sweet Ring, and before he knew it, Rui had a vice-like grip on his arm and was hauling him to the entrance. She unceremoniously tossed him into the building with the muffled cry of "Rui!" following him. Absenting rubbing aching butt, he looked up to glare at her, only to freeze.
Rui was suddenly flanked by people, lots of people. Mika's wild grin. Yayoi's serene smile. Shinji's impish smirk. Ryo's quiet amusement. More and more people, all with a happy looks, all smiling at him.
Akira's wide, wide smile, looking for all the world as if his birthday had come early.
"Welcome back, Saijo," they chorused as one.
Nami was suddenly at his elbow, Melody cheerfully dancing around his legs. "I told ya we wouldn't forget. You couldn't make us forget."
Atsuki felt a rare chuckle slowly build in his chest and let it out without hesitation. "That you did," he agreed as he ran a head through her hair.
Then he was pulled into the group, where they poked and prodded at him, alternately asking him how he was doing and cursing him for leaving so abruptly. He noticed that everyone avoided the subject of what happened and the resulting memory loss. He had drinks and cake shoved at him and down his throat until Kenichi himself came out of the kitchen, offered him a slap on the back, and steered him not so subtly into the kitchen.
Atsuki allowed himself a moment to take in the sight before him.
Akira's muscular frame wrapped in an apron that did everything to flatter his frame, tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth as mixed something. Face streaked with flour and cream, sleeves pushed up to the elbow...
It was with a rare, extremely silly and indulgent grin that he slipped silently behind him and wrapped his arms around the taller teen's waist. He enjoyed the brief stiffening in shock before the body in his arms melted into him. Atsuki saw the myriad of colors that indicated a pleased Shinen coming from the boy in front of him.
"Saijo," he heard Akira whisper lowly, and he poked him in response. "Ack, I mean... At—Atsuki," Akira stuttered out, and Atsuki didn't even to see him to know about the flush crawling up his cheeks enough to put red at the back of his neck.
"I missed you," he whispered. Akira moved to turn around, but Atsuki tightened his arms. "Please, don't... Just let me..."
And, for once, Akira understood as he let his arms fall.
Atsuki merely held him, face pushed into Akira's strong back. He breathed deeply, calmly, because... For once, he didn't have to let go.
He could be here, still stand here, and not have to stand back and regret. He had people who remembered him, who would continue to remember him no matter what FORT and PICUS did. A place he could escape to when things got too rough or when he had a vacation...
He was happy.
He'd already lost so much. His family, crushes, solid groups of friends, previous relationships...
But to have Akira here, surrounded by people he knew...
He was happy.
And then Akira turned around and wrapped his arms around him too.
His batter-covered, stained arms around his favorite coat.
His eye twitched.
Akira froze and stared down at him. "Yes?"
"You have five seconds."
Akira wasted a precious moment merely staring at him before grinning stupidly and running his arms further down Atsuki's body.
The party in the main room froze for a moment as a loud crash sounded throughout the kitchen, and Akira ran out as if the devil himself were at his heels. Then they went back to normal, albeit after a few seconds of staring, after Atsuki raced after him.
Even if it was out of character for the reserved Atsuki... They merely laughed at Akira's expense when Atsuki tackled him to the floor with a fist full of flour.