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It is a lovely bakery. Makoto had visited it a fair number of times, for a snack or a supply of the sweetbreads they had each morning. They opened early enough for him to go before work; he sometimes bought a dozen of their round sticky buns for the rest of the station.

It is a pity it is on fire.

It’s blinding and pitch-black at the same time. Routine is all that keeps him running through the door by the time they gain entry– look for combustibles, aim for the base of the fire, his partner’s behind him. The sprinklers are long past empty, but seem to have activated, a small blessing. It bought their fire engine time to arrive. No trapped victims reported, check for victims anyway. At a word from their lieutenant, crackled over the radio, the fire howls up to their left, and the temperature drops as much as it can in a burning building. The rest of their firefighting team get the roof open, letting in more air. Not two seconds later, a roofing beam crushes what’s left of the front counter. New source of oxygen, but it draws the fire away from the back of the building, still unexplored– and Makoto’s time is up.

They aren’t in more than five minutes before they switch with the outside team. Three more exhausting passes finally chokes the last of it. Makoto’s team gathers outside, waiting as their engine’s massive flood cannons mist the entire building. They all watch for steam, for any remaining trapped heat, but the only thing left is the sound of water falling.

He shakes ash out of his hair and grins at his partner, a fiery man named Hitsugaya with equally ashy hair. “Well, I think we did alright,” he announces, settling back on his heels. “It seemed like the whole fire was at the front of the store.”

Hitsugaya grins back. “Yeah, not too bad. Good thing it was a small bakery– what’s Shion saying?” Makoto frowns briefly– he hadn’t heard anything from his radio– but their lieutenant’s voice gets louder as she steps out of the fire engine herself, cradling the engine radio’s mic in one hand.

“Wait for police!” she sighs. “Wait for police. We have a suspected arson.”

 

**

 

Huddled under shock blankets, the few victims are safe in the care of their medics. Apart from the terrified college student that made the emergency call, the only people in the building were the owners and employees. The police are running every one of them through more questions than Makoto can follow. Where were you when the fire started? How long have they been working at that location? When did your last inspection take place? What college do you go to? What’s your major? Makoto almost laughs at that last one, but is too tired to bother. He spares a moment to wave at Rin.

“Nice to see you,” he calls, already turning away, but Rin calls him over instead.

“Makoto! Great, great, someone on the response team– we need one of these filled out for everyone on your shift.” Rin cheerily gathers a stack of blank reports from some pocket dimension in his clipboard, and plops it into Makoto’s waiting hands.

“Ah, thank you,” Makoto replies, slumping over in place. Another hour of work. By the time he finishes post-call inspection, cleaning everything, writing his report, and showering, Makoto’s twenty-four hour shift is a twenty-six hour one. He’s more than ready to just go home.

 

**

 

He really, really wants to be asleep right now. Today is the start of two glorious free days, he’s not supposed to do anything more than buy groceries, but a phone call rattles Makoto awake too early into his morning. He scrubs at his eyes, trying to sound professional. “Mhh, Tachibana speaking, hello?”

It isn’t the station phone number, but it’s definitely Lieutentant Shion’s voice; it must be her personal phone. She sounds as tired as he feels. “Tachibana, we need you to come in. No work, it should be a short matter, but– ” Her voice drops off, then loses some of its ice. “I know you were on duty yesterday, but we need everyone here by 10:30 this morning. It’s a community matter,” she adds softly.

“Ah,” he falters. “I’ll– I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Makoto scrambles out of bed, suddenly much more awake. Shion doesn’t need Makoto or anyone else from his team as much as she needs numbers; Maeda’s gotten involved.

 

**

 

The entire station is already there by the time Makoto arrives. They’ve gathered uneasily in one of the engine bays. Makoto nods to Shion, who relaxes minutely at the sight of him, and sidles up to Hitsugaya.

“Is it them?” he inquires.

“Yeah,” he mutters back, shoving his hands in his pockets. “They should be here in fifteen minutes or so.”

Makoto keeps his voice low; no one seems particularly inclined to talk loudly. He’s gotten better about his posture, he’s been trying, but this time Makoto lets himself slouch– he’s probably the worst person for a fight. Maybe if he looks small, nothing will happen. The police won’t do anything, which is no doubt infuriating Rin, but if Maeda has gone to the trouble of giving them all a meeting time, there isn’t a high chance of things turning violent. Or a low enough chance that they paid the police not to show, at least.

Ten minutes pass. Twenty. Makoto checks the clock, shifting in place. No matter how he stands, he can’t seem to settle down. One of their medics makes a move toward the vending machine for approximately one second before Shion freezes her with a glance. The air itself moves quietly. Finally, two minutes past the meeting time, three men in suits walk around the corner.

Makoto was expecting them to look stranger. The first two men have sharp dark hair, and designer jackets, the shirts beneath them only a hint too garish. They look calm. One man is polishing his glasses. The one next to him carries a thin black briefcase and a heavy air of disinterest. But the last one knocks Makoto’s breath out. His hair’s longer, a shocking pastel that says Harajuku more than gang member, and he’s so tall. His smile is as unruly as it was back in grade school– and Makoto knows it, because Makoto knows him.

“Kisumi? Shigino Kisumi?” he whispers, his voice sounding too loud even against the high ceilings of the engine bay.

“Makoto?” Narrowed eyes go wide, and for one blink Kisumi looks like the fifth grader he used to know, before he catches where he is. “Tachibana. Hello to the rest of you, thank you for having us.”

“It is a pleasure,” Shion intones, with not a single mote of hospitality. “If it’s not too much trouble, I have one question: despite your family’s gracious request to meet with us, none of my men standing here have been told the reason. Surely you can inform us?” Makoto winces, and glances at Hitsugaya, who grimaces back. She’s being rude today– with good reason, but it doesn’t seem to faze any of the men.

The one with an intrusively paisley shirt steps forward. “We don’t mean to inconvenience any of you. We humbly ask that you will forward our condolences to the owners of the Ono bakery.” His voice is a murmur as he smoothly presents their briefcase to her.

Makoto blinks at it. He was going to buy groceries. Gang activity is so far out of his small circle of experience that he’s not sure this actually even counts as gang activity. He still doesn’t know why Kisumi’s there. But the man in front of them is leveling his gaze into a question. They can accept the gift of the Maeda family, or not.

The silence drags on for an agonizing second until Shion takes the briefcase, grabbing it rougher than necessary, and steps back toward the rest of the team.

“Thank you for your compassion.” Her face is carved from stone, but the two men see what they want and step back. The tension in the room unravels, doesn’t fade, until Kisumi claps his hands for some reason and darts toward Makoto.

“Well! Now that that’s over with,” he says brightly, and before Makoto can react he’s crushed in a cottony pink hug that smells like cinnamon.

Makoto might be shaking a little. “It is you! Kisumi? What are you doing here, are you, are you okay? Why are you here!” His voice pitches up on the last word, and well, blushing isn’t the worst he could be doing right now. It’s still pretty bad.

“I’m fine, I’m fine– wow, and you got so tall! Look at you…” Kisumi laughs. He’s oblivious to the way everyone is staring, including the other two gang members. “I’ll come back to say hi later, but to all of you–” Disentangling himself from Makoto, he turns toward the rest of the fire station, who are staring like he’s flung something unappealing at them. His smile shifts to something more practiced. “That teenager from the fire yesterday needs another round of questioning, if the police haven’t caught him yet. We found him trying to burn shit at one of our warehouses.”

Another grin gets thrown at Makoto like a bouquet, along with a “bye!” before one of the men whispers something compelling enough to get Kisumi moving again. With a brief bow to Shion, they all round the corner and slide out of sight like they never existed.

There’s a brief second of terror as the station turns toward Makoto in unison and he’s under attack.

“Dude! You know someone in the Maeda family?”

“I invited you to my birthday and you didn’t even drink! I thought you were innocent!”

“Do we have to pay you protection money now?” That last one is Hitsugaya, jostling at his shoulder. He’s pretty sure he sees their medic creeping toward the vending machine again.

“No, I –uh, I think I knew him in elementary school? I’m not sure that’s really Kisumi, honest,” he protests. But the tight-strung silence from only moments ago fades away the louder their accusations get. He’s been with every person in their small fire station long enough to know they’re on his side.

 

**

 

His next full shift starts with him pinned to the wall outside the kitchen by one of their engine drivers. He’s more confused than upset.

“Ah, hello Sasaki, can I– I was going to get a drink–”

“SShhhh!” Sasaki hisses, looking back at the door. “Pink Maeda guy is here again. No one wants to tell him to leave.”

That cuts him off with a whimper. Kisumi’s back? But they were done with– that. Shion had passed the briefcase over to the bakery’s owners without ever opening it, and the poor owners had been too scared to refuse. Everyone knew it was a loaded gift. Maeda would help them rebuild, in exchange for silence. And considering everything, they weren’t the worst gang in Tokyo to offer protection. “Silence” didn’t amount to much more than bribery in their part of town, as far as Makoto could tell. And their claim on all the nearby neighborhoods seemed to deter the criminals that weren’t satisfied with bribery.

But that doesn’t explain– “Why is he back, though?” Makoto turns toward the kitchen, where the conversation has gotten quieter.

“I don’t know. I just wanted to warn you.” Sasaki pushes himself off the wall, running one hand through his hair. “I’m gonna go sleep, tell everyone searching for me I’m out for at least two hours.”

Makoto shuffles into the kitchen. Unsurprisingly, Kisumi is plopped at the table, taking up more space with his voice than his legs. He’s dressed only slightly less garishly than last time; a dark jacket is paired with a purple shirt so neon it’s edging into luminous. Makoto feels his heart rush to his head. Which shouldn’t happen, upon seeing an old childhood friend, but Kisumi is leaning there with his hair barely brushing one shoulder, and he’s always been weak to long legs.

“Makoto! I thought I heard you. I came back like I said! I haven’t seen you in ages,” he pouts.

His easy air is a sharp contrast from Makoto’s teammates. They’re both sitting, but appear to be one move from running, and upon seeing Makoto, the one closest to the door whirls up off his chair. Makoto thinks he sees him sweating. “Oh cool, Makoto, your friend’s here. He’s been waiting about half an hour for you to come in,” he adds, edging off his seat. “And you know, we didn’t want to leave him alone or anything so–” He’s already halfway to the door when the other firefighter sees his chance.

“Yeah, you guys are childhood friends right? Sorry to leave so soon, but I’ve got to do morning inspection on the hoses.” They don’t do a morning inspection. They have cleaning duty and then whole-engine checklists. Kisumi doesn’t know that.

“And I have to inspect the hose attachments, so…” The other firefighter shrugs, looking entirely unrepentant. “Nice talking to you, Shigino-san!” he calls, and they not so subtly bolt out the door.

Makoto barely laughs, adding a smile at the end. “I think you scared them, Kisumi.”

“Haha, yeah.” Leaning lightly on one arm, Kisumi stares after them. His mouth looks like it wants to tip into a smile, but can’t quite get there, and he huffs out a laugh instead. “But that’s not as important– seriously, I came to talk to you! You only got to work a couple minutes ago, right? You can sit and talk for a while!” He folds those long legs back under his chair, looking at Makoto intently. If he were any more obvious he’d be patting the seat next to him.

Makoto pauses for a minute– the entire station did see him come in, a little early as usual. It would be impolite to just kick Kisumi out when he clearly sat and waited for Makoto to get there, and half of him genuinely wants to stay and talk. He might as well. Just for a few minutes.

“Ah, you know, I’m doing alright,” he starts, settling across from him at the small kitchen table. “I graduated about a year ago.”

Kisumi gives him a huge smile. “Hey, good for you! That was probably exhausting, huh? Four extra years of school– what’d you go for anyway? Don’t tell me there’s a firefighting degree.”

“Oh, no, there isn’t one, but I like working here, so…” Makoto fidgets, trying to find something to do with his hands. It feels odd, bragging about his own graduation.

“Well of course, you’re a firefighter! You get to help people out all the time!” Kisumi leans across the table, his eyes sparkling. “I’m impressed.”

“It’s nothing, really,” he replies, a little flustered. “What about you? What are you, ah doing lately?” It is taking a lot of self-control to not blurt out ‘You’re in a gang now?’ Hopefully it doesn’t show on his face.

Kisumi nods his head to one side, thinking. “Not much, actually, things have been kind of quiet lately. I might go visit Hayato soon, though!” His face goes fonder at that, and Makoto leans in as he continues. “I haven’t been back home in a while.”

“Oh, I know, right? It seems like it would be easy to visit more. But I hardly have time to go visit Ren and Ran.” Makoto hesitates a second; he’s never been good at being direct, but it’s better to do it fast. “I’m really sorry, but Kisumi, I do have to get to work,” he says, as gently as possible. “We have to be ready for a job at any time, you know? Maybe we can talk a little later.”

In a reaction completely opposite of the one that Makoto wanted, Kisumi pops out of his seat, glowing. “Really? That’d be great! Where d’you wanna meet?”

Well shit, he hadn’t meant it that way. Makoto’s eyebrows tilt upward, trying not to sound surprised. “Um– how about, um, the coffee place, by the grocery near my parents’ house? I’m in an apartment complex pretty nearby.”

“Sure, sure!” Kisumi leans back against the table as though he owned it. He slides a glance over at Makoto, his lips settling into a smug little V. “I’m not supposed to be here, am I?”

Makoto is still looking at his lips. “No,” he manages, “I just– you can’t stay, I’m supposed to be working.”

“I know, I know.” He looks almost solemn for a moment, before his face springs back into a smile, and he flits out the door, popping his head back in for one last word. “I’ll see you when?”

He realizes Kisumi doesn’t know his schedule, and flounders for a moment. “A week from now, around noon? It’s in the middle of my next off period.”

“Great!” And in a smart swish of purple, he’s gone again.

 

**

 

A week later on Makoto’s second off day, he’s almost late. It’s only because he wants to dress properly. Should he dress up for this? What about that nice shirt with the red buttons his mom got him– wait, no, then he has to wear slacks, and this is casual. He ponders for a moment whether this is casual or not. He hasn’t talked to Kisumi in ages, but he wasn’t nearly as close of a friend as someone like Haru. Haru– Makoto goes as far as starting to text Haru for clothing advice before realizing how ridiculous the idea is. Clothing is hardly a step above optional for Haru, he’s practically the worst option. Why did Kisumi want to go out again anyway? He settles on a white shirt with colored triangles and jeans and dashes out the door.

When he first sees Kisumi in front of the coffee shop, flailing one arm like a particularly happy windmill, all Makoto sees is his legs. He has no idea where Kisumi got jeans that particular shade of red but he’s having trouble being polite with where he looks. Kisumi doesn’t notice, though, and a few minutes later they’re both settled in with drinks, at one of the tiny tables near the shop window. Makoto tries to ignore the way their legs don’t quite fit under the table without touching, and sits up a little straighter. “So, what did you want to talk about?”

Kisumi would almost look offended, if it weren’t for his huge grin. “About what? About you! Where’d you go? I haven’t seen you since middle school, Makoto, did you think I’d forget you the second we graduated?”

Makoto hadn’t thought about that. He certainly hadn’t forgotten Kisumi. Haru wasn’t the one inviting him out to play basketball, even when wasn’t much good, and no one else had dragged him into every other event he heard about, so determined to make a friend that he’d had no chance to be a stranger. He blinks down at his frappuccino.

“I’m glad you didn’t.” Glancing up, he sees Kisumi looking at him, a soft smile floating on his face, and changes the subject. No need to get awkward during their first proper conversation in years. “Well, I went to Iwatobi High, Haru and I both did– you went to Sano, right?”

“Yeah, Rin and everyone were at Sano! He left a couple years later, though, went to some fancy cram school.” He leans down for a sip of his drink, an obnoxiously fluffy vanilla thing, and tilts it toward Makoto. “Want some?”

“Oh, no, thank you.” He scratches at his neck idly. “You said you went to uni, right?”

“Just general studies. I already had some plans; what’d you go for, anyway?” Kisumi dodges the question so smoothly it hardly feels purposeful. Makoto hopes it wasn’t.

“Well, I messed up a little,” Makoto laughs, ducking his head as he tries to figure the best way to say it. “I went for physical therapy, originally, but one of my internships was in an ER, and I took a bunch of emergency response classes trying to keep up with everything. One of the doctors knew a medic at our station and ah, now I’m here? I’m officially a medic and a firefighter, but really, it’s whichever one the team needs when I’m on duty.”

Kisumi’s eyes light up in admiration, and he leans across the table to tap him on one shoulder. “What, you couldn’t choose what kind of angel to be? That’s seriously something, Makoto.”

Makoto feels his ears burn red. “What about you? Are you working somewhere as well?” he asks, trying to get the attention back towards Kisumi, who starts to answer just as Makoto’s phone chirps out an alarm.

“Oh, gosh, I’ve gotta–” he starts, scrambling for his bag. “I need to get to work!”

He frowns at Makoto, not harshly. “You said today was an off day?”

“Off day from firefighting. I have a part-time job at Mister Donut.”

“What? You work 24-hour days already!”

“No, no, I’m just– you know how it is,” Makoto blusters, trying to defend himself. He’s a bit distracted by Kisumi’s everything– he dresses so loud. “Both Ren and Ran are going to university in a few years. I want to help out with their savings a little,” he explains. “And it’s only part-time.”

Kisumi’s face smooths into understanding, and he cants his head to one side in sympathy. His hair falls over one shoulder and he flicks it away; Makoto’s eyes can’t help but follow. “Ah, yeah, I get that. Hayato’s going into his last year in middle school and I’m pretty sure he’s already cramming for high school finals. Damn.” He lets out a quiet sigh, and flicks at the straw of his drink, turning it round and round in the glass. Makoto briefly wonders if they have any trouble affording a good school, and decides not to think about where Kisumi gets his money. “Well, either way, we’ll figure something out, right?”

“One way or another,” Makoto nods in agreement. “I’ve really got to go, but– I’ll see you later, then?” Why does he keep saying later? Now he has to–

“Gimme your number, yeah?” Kisumi says, unfolding himself from the cramped café chair and grabbing at Makoto’s shoulder. He peers at him, his eyes flashing purple and promising, like all his secrets are good ones.

“Sure!” And he pulls out his phone because he can’t really say no to that.

A minute later, Makoto is headed to the donut shop a few blocks down, his phone ten digits heavier. He feels oddly giddy, but pushes it down as best he can. Kisumi was only being his usual self; ready to be instant friends with everyone he met. And it was just coffee.

 

**

 

It’s not just coffee. Kisumi keeps coming over, first to the station with flowers, which gets Makoto endless teasing from his entire team. He swears Hitsugaya came in on an off day just to ask if he’d gotten flowers. It’s all in good fun, until the day Kisumi brings roses, and then there are less laughs, and a lot more questions. Training goes the same as always. No one will ever say anything to his face. But someone is double-checking the locks when he leaves at night. It hurts more than he thinks it should.

The flowers move to his apartment door a few weeks later, after a text conversation that lasts a bit too late into the night, and Kisumi follows. Sometimes he stays the night. Sometimes he’s hardly there five minutes, to rummage in Makoto’s fridge and leave groceries as payment. But when he’s not there, he’s in Makoto’s mind anyway, and as the weeks pass, more and more tiny things pile up, until one day he’s faced with an undeniable mountain of memories.

Kisumi was his friend, back in elementary, and he’s still his friend now, but he’s remembering a lot more than he should for a childhood friend. An updated phone number and a new friend on Facebook should’ve been the most of it, not– whatever this is. Somehow touching had started happening, and a pile of Kisumi’s clothes had invaded his dresser, although he’s oddly reluctant to be shirtless around Makoto. (Every other bit of clothing is free game.) But the soft way he giggles at things, the fluffy little emoji he adds to every text, everything about him is so at odds with what he does. Makoto doesn’t understand. Kisumi is a good person, why is he in a gang? He's friendly with everyone, he cares about his brother– Kisumi isn’t the type of guy to hurt people, but he is, because he’s with Maeda, and it doesn’t fit.

His mother doesn’t ask about him when he calls, even though Makoto has mentioned him. She only asks, with a tightness in her voice that was never there before, if “You’re still talking to Shigino-kun? From back in elementary school…You don’t really know him that well anymore, do you?”

 

**

 

It’s shifting into winter when Makoto finally caves in. They’re lying on Makoto’s bed, Kisumi playing a game on his phone and Makoto playing with Kisumi’s hair. It really is soft; he wonders faintly what Kisumi does exactly, to stain it such a bright, rosy pink.

“Kisumi, what does Maeda do?”

He stills. He’s so rarely still that for an instant he appears to have stopped breathing. Makoto stops moving his hand through his hair and settles it on the back of his neck, unsure what he should do.

After a small eternity, he answers. “Mostly protection racketing. You know, get a business to pay for security in the neighborhood and stuff.” He shrugs, the tension not really leaving his shoulders. “We do some work with weapons– Tokyo’s a big port, less freight supervision. But, I mean, it’s not like we actually use the weapons, right? It’s fine. They– we just trade them, and– it’s fine.”

Makoto thinks about his parents, saying how proud they were when he graduated university. How proud they were when he passed his fire training, that he was going to help people. “Oh,” he lets out. It must come out colder than he meant it, because Kisumi folds himself up off his chest and into a ball on the end of the bed. “I mean– Kisumi you know that’s not good, though? It’s still hurting someone–”

“I know!” Kisumi yells, slamming his fist into the bed. “I know it’s not reputable, I know,” he snarls, his voice acid, and the rare flare of anger shocks Makoto into silence.

He keeps talking, but his voice is vulnerable. He stays quiet; he has a feeling Kisumi is one interruption from smiling his way into a subject change, and Makoto’s chance of hearing anything would be gone. “It wasn’t on purpose. I started off just helping them out, or picking stuff up for them as a kid. Maeda ‘protects’ my dad’s office, you know. And it wasn’t good to get on their bad side, but it’s such a small side of them. And they helped my family after that storm blew out half our house.” He exhales and it seems to take his whole spirit. “They respected me, you know? I know I’m kind of– loud, and people don’t take me seriously. But they did.”

“Maeda-sama actually talked to me, personally,” he says, looking at Makoto like he’s dying to be believed. “And they’re not low-class or anything. Maeda has rules for everyone they take, and I– most of the stuff they do is financial, not violent, not like– you know how some of the Tokyo families are. We’re one of the good ones, I’m not–”

He doesn’t know what to say, but he heard the wobble in Kisumi’s voice starting and it would have killed him to hear it get any worse. He still smells like cinnamon when Makoto moves on instinct to wrap his arms around him.

“Shh,” he says, softly, almost a whisper into Kisumi’s hair. “I believe you. I know you don’t want to hurt anyone, so don’t worry about that, don’t…” Someone, somewhere is getting hurt but he doesn’t mean to hurt anyone. Is Kisumi the one at fault when he’s just caught, doing something for life that he never really signed up for?

He doesn’t seem to be finishing the sentence, and neither of them moves, until Kisumi apparently can’t sit still any longer. He cranes his head toward Makoto, his mouth tight. His eyes look years older without his smile. “I’m gonna take off my shirt, okay?”

Makoto doesn’t see the connection, but nods anyway; anything to get that look off his face. Kisumi holds his gaze a moment longer, and then peels off the worn t-shirt he’s wearing.

He sees the flowers first, and they shouldn’t be scary. All they are are tattoos. But Makoto knows what they symbolize, and why the edges cut off at the collar of everything Kisumi wears. They are a work of art that he doesn’t want to find beautiful. He takes a breath to steady himself a little.

“I don’t have much, because, ahaha, I’m still pretty new to this, but look.” Kisumi shifts to show his shoulder blade, where a koi fish swims, its tail sweeping forward to hug his ribs. He gestures further down; his whole upper arm is washed in petals, their razor-jagged edges impossibly soft.

Peonies for bravery, sakura petals throughout, and– “Why the hibiscus?” Makoto asks, trailing his fingers over the crown of his shoulder. He’s so delicate, despite his height, all wiry muscle and bone.

Kisumi smiles at him, some of the light coming back into his eyes. “They’re supposed to mean gentleness. It’s for Hayato, you know?” He laughs faintly. “He doesn’t know what I do. He’s still got high school and everything and he’s been top ten in his class for years, he’s gonna be a great guy. It’s… I don’t want him to grow up the same as me.”

Makoto leans down, brushes a kiss over his shoulder. “You’re already pretty great yourself.” He looks back up at Kisumi, whose eyes have turned to surprised circles.

“You don’t know that. You’ve got a lot of reasons not to trust me.” A grin plays at one corner of his mouth, doesn’t quite reach his eyes, and Makoto can hear what he doesn’t want to say. That some days, Kisumi is the one threatening neighborhoods with mugging and robbery, because what other option does he have? He might as well do it with a smile.

“I know what I’m asking for,” Makoto counters, surprising himself with his own confidence. He wraps himself around Kisumi’s waist from behind and noses into his shoulder. “I want to trust you. I want you around, Kisumi, and– whatever happens, I want to be there with you.”

He can feel Kisumi shaking under his embrace. Warm fingers press into his arm and trace his wrist, folding around Makoto’s hands like they can’t touch him enough. “I want to, too.”

Makoto presses a kiss into his neck, where pastel hair blends into hibiscus petals. All he can see is pink. “I know there’s going to be things that– maybe I can’t ever agree with. But I want to be with you for it, and we’ll figure something out, ok?” He realizes with a dull sort of epiphany that Kisumi went to high school with Rin, who went and became a police officer. Rin, who thinks anyone can do anything as long as they try. He tempers it with so much effort that sometimes Makoto believes him.

“That’s what makes people happy, right? Going for what they want.” Kisumi is playing with one of Makoto’s hands, lifting each finger softly and leaving a kiss on his thumb. “And I want you.”

That’s what got him into Maeda, but it’s the reason he can’t look away. Kisumi aims for what he wants– most of the time it’s good, but from the moment Makoto met him, everything he does is an earnest grab at being happy. And him, here, sitting on Makoto’s bed and keeping things in his bathroom, leaving constant reminders that he’s allowed to be selfish sometimes; he wants all of it so bad it aches.

Makoto can’t help himself. “Then let’s try being happy. I want that too.”