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table for two

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They're halfway through the day when the boat they're on rocks viciously with the waves, knocking Tanba off his balance, towards the railing and into Chris. When he doesn't immediately right himself, Chris shoots a concerned look his way and slides one arm around his waist, over the small of Tanba's back. "Are you alright?"

"Yes."

"Tired?"

"Yes," he admits. The sun has been beating down on him all day, and that, combined with the relentless press and chatter of strangers on every side of him at every second has seeped him of all his energy. If he had to tell himself to breathe, he would have given it up hours ago.

Chris presses closer, until he's shouldering a portion of Tanba's weight. "We'll grab lunch right after this and call it a day," he promises.

Tanba nods and closes his eyes.

On their way back, Chris stops by a stall he had been eyeing the other day, and returns with two milky white drinks, one of which he passes over. Tanba accepts it with both hands, gratified by the cool chill seeping into his hands. When he raises the drink to his lips, he spots tiny green beans swirling at the bottom of the plastic. It's a little too sweet for his liking but it quenches the thirst well enough, and the sugar rushes through his system, a quick burst of extra energy.

When they finally reach the chalet, Tanba wearily toes off his shoes at the entrance, and stumbles towards the bed. Four steps in and he reconsiders it, collapsing face first onto the sofa instead. He closes his eyes, barely listening to the footsteps bouncing off the wooden flooring, the sticky sound of a fridge opening and closing. Just as Tanba's neck starts to protest the position he's in, a pillow nudges his nape. Tanba rolls over to take it from Chris with a mumbled, "Thanks," wedges it under his neck, and is out within seconds.

------

Seagulls screeching in the distance, the persistent tumble of ocean waves; Tanba blinks slowly at the sunset-painted living room, tracks the shadows laid out on the floors until he finds the one he's looking for--Chris sprawled in one of the patio chairs, the small table beside him occupied by a nearly-empty glass of water, a book, and his cell phone.

Tanba moves to get up, and just as quickly decides against it. Instead, he digs around in his pockets for his phone, and finds it hidden in between the sofa cushions. He types out a quick message, sends it off, and rolls over onto his stomach to watch.

The phone buzzes, vibrating against the table until Chris picks it up. A few seconds pass in silence as Chris stares at his phone, before he cranes his neck to look back at Tanba.

Tanba lifts his hand in a half-hearted greeting.

The gesture coaxes an affectionate smile out of Chris; he comes over and settles on the edge of the couch, close enough to smooth a palm over Tanba's forehead. "How are you feeling?"

"Better," he replies.

"Did you get enough sleep?"

"Mm." Tanba squints up at him. "What have you been up to all afternoon?"

Chris hums, settles in to lean back on one hand. "I took a shower, called my dad, went for a walk--oh. I have something to show you."

Tanba watches him walk back out onto the patio, turn the corner and move out of sight. And then Chris is back with a bundle of cloth cradled in his hands, and a smile nestled in his lips. Tanba scoots over, making room, and Chris lies down beside him, unfolding the cloth over the flat plane of Tanba's stomach.

"I found these during my walk."

Tanba picks one up, holding it gingerly between his fingers. "Seashells."

Chris hums, tucks his head into the crook of Tanba's neck. "Most of them were broken, though, so I only found a few."

He traces the edge of the shell with his thumb, feels the tiny bumps poking into his fingertip; he can feel the soft tickle of Chris' hair against his jaw, the warm press of sun-kissed thighs against his own. "I can’t believe you've been out collecting seashells."

"Don't worry. We can go together next time."

"Hmm." And then, "So what's the plan for tonight?"

"Well, I was hoping to take you out for dinner," Chris says, shifting until he can meet Tanba's gaze. "Are you feeling up for it? If not, we can just get room service."

Tanba runs a hand through Chris' hair. "I'm good for eating out."

"Alright." Chris presses a pleased kiss to his cheek, and then another, before standing up. "Go get ready."

"Where are we going?" Tanba asks, stretching his arms.

Chris' answering smile is small, a secret pressed into the corners of his mouth. "It's a surprise."

------

The surprise turns out to be a lovely, quiet candlelit table for two by the sea, in a restaurant stretching out past the shores and over the waters. They're seated far enough from the central crowd and noise that the table has an ambience of privacy; when Tanba looks to his left, he sees nothing but the dark sea stretching wide into the horizon.

Chris flips through the menu, and after a few minutes of thoughtful silence, declares, "Let's get the lobster."

Tanba gives him a look. "First you ask me to be your lobster, now you want to eat the lobster. Should I be taking this as a message?"

"You know I'd eat you every day if you'd let me," Chris replies sweetly.

Tanba coughs, and ducks behind the menu. The lobster is at the bottom of the page, and the very top of the price range. He tries not to cringe, and fails. "It's uh, the most--"

"Don't say it," Chris interjects. A hand appears at the top of Tanba's menu, and Chris tugs it down low enough to give him a sharp look, accentuated by furrowed brows and narrowed eyes. "Tonight's my treat, and I want you to pick anything you want. Don't look at the prices."

"But--"

"Anything. We agreed, remember?"

Tanba sighs, "Fine." He tugs the menu back up, hears the plastic thwack against gravity as Chris releases his grip and settles back in his seat.

They end up ordering a dish from nearly every section. Tanba bites back a smile as he listens to Chris parse their order in English, nods along when the waiter tries to convince them to get the butter prawns instead of the grilled kind.

After the waiter turns away, Tanba leans forward, and says, "Your dad would be proud."

Spots of red blossom over Chris' cheeks.

"The next time we visit him, I'm going to tell him all about how much you've been improving."

"Please don't," Chris begs, not quite meeting his eye.

"I'm kidding," Tanba laughs, reaching across the space between them, and laying one hand on the table, palm up. Instantly, Chris' hand finds his, their fingers slotting together as neatly as the last pieces of a puzzle.

Tanba strokes a thumb over Chris' hand. In the background, the ocean waves roll quietly, a constant, soothing sound. The candles cast shadows across the table, and paints Chris in shades of gold, his eyes reflecting the flickering flames. Tanba raises Chris' fingers to his lips for a brief, chaste kiss. When he pulls back, he catches Chris staring.

"Are you blushing?"

"I--yes," Chris stammers, "but so are you."

"I am not," he shoots back, but he can feel how his face is burning, so maybe Chris is right after all. A strangled sound escapes his throat, and Tanba makes to pull back, but Chris' grip tightens around his fingers, holding him fast, and although neither of them are looking at each other, Tanba doesn't pull away again.

At least, not until the food arrives. Tanba watches as the waiter fills their table space with large, steaming dishes, the mixture of aromas drowning his senses and making his mouth water. When he looks up, Chris is watching him, his eyes soft and fond.

"Yuu," Tanba says, "thank you."

The corners of Chris' smile twitches, and his eyelids droop low. "Anytime, husband."