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After the Trip

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Yu didn’t know what to expect for his upcoming anniversary with Yosuke.  His boyfriend had just told him to take certain days off and to keep his plans open, obviously planning something to pay him back for his birthday trip.  Yu knew it couldn’t be quite as extravagant as his trip since it was less days, but Yosuke was really good at surprising him and he knew it would be something catered to him.  Yosuke had also been taking on more work trips lately and working some weekends as a result; Yu figured it was to help save up extra money so while he missed having his boyfriend home some weekends, he didn’t say anything.  Now that Yosuke was on his new morning show, Yu got to see him more during the week so it wasn’t quite as bad anyway.

His boyfriend was currently out with Yukiko, Chie, and Rise who were all in town visiting, Yukiko and Chie staying at Rise’s large apartment in the city.  Yu wasn’t quite sure why he hadn’t been invited as well, although he would be going out later to meet up with them for dinner.  He figured it had something to do with their anniversary and tried not to let his mind wander too much over the possibilities.  He didn’t want to get his hopes up or put any pressure on Yosuke, especially since a more cemented partnership would be more symbolic since it wasn’t officially recognized in Japan.  Some places had certificates that gave same sex couples some rights such as hospital visits, but they still weren’t official marriage documents.  Still, it would be nice.

Yu decided to busy himself to get his mind off of his musings, cleaning the litterbox and taking some time to play with Hana, pulling out her feather wand toy that she loved so much.  They had to buy a new feather every few weeks because she would quickly decimate them.  After a relaxing afternoon with his pet, when he finally left the apartment to meet up with his friends and boyfriend, he was in a much more relaxed mood.  He’d just wait to see what Yosuke had in store.

Only days later, it was finally time for the surprise.  Yu woke up to the feeling of cold bed next to him, cringing away from the normally warm spot where his partner was supposed to be and sliding his eyes open.  Hana was in her usual spot curled at the end of the bed while Yosuke was nowhere to be seen.  Yu sat up blearily, glancing at the clock and grimacing at the early hour, especially on a day off.  But, he had to see what Yosuke was up to.  He slid out of bed and out of the bedroom, immediately spotting Yosuke in the living room surrounded by neat piles of clothes he was stuffing into two suitcases.  “What are you doing up so early?” Yu yawned, causing Yosuke to jump in surprise.

“Jeeze, you scared me,” he huffed.  “You had us all packed for our last trip, so I was trying to return the favor.”

Yu grinned before kneeling on the floor next to Yosuke.  He had clothes on the couch behind him with the empty suitcases in front as he tried his best to carefully fit everything.  “I couldn’t sleep without you next to me,” he said, nuzzling Yosuke’s shoulder while his eyes tried to drift back shut.  Yosuke laughed before shaking him back awake.

“I’ve got work to do.  Just curl up on the armchair if you’re so determined to fall back asleep,” he shooed, and Yu pouted at him.  Hana wandered in the room to see what they were both doing, curious with them being up at an odd hour, and she soon leapt onto the couch and lay out over one of Yosuke’s stack of clothes.  Yu took that opportunity to also dive down, stretching out on the floor with his head in Yosuke’s lap.

Yosuke immediately whined at both of them.  “You’re both making this really difficult,” he said, although he refrained from moving either of them and did his best to work around them instead.  Yu smiled in satisfaction, allowing himself to doze off again in Yosuke’s warm and comfortable lap, only waking up when Yosuke carefully moved his head onto a pillow while standing up.  He opened his eyes to see that both suitcases were packed and Yosuke was currently leading their hungry cat over to her food bowl since it was her usual feeding time.  She kept winding between his legs, causing the brunet to have to tread carefully.  Yu watched in amusement as he finally reached her food bowl, picking up the plastic container where they held her cat food and using a measuring cup to pour her the exact amount she needed based on her vet’s recommendation.  He then pet her a few times before walking away as she got to eating.

Yosuke spotted him watching and grinned before saying, “You gonna come and get dressed?  We have to head to the train station soon.”

“Who’s watching Hana?” Yu asked, and Yosuke rolled his eyes.

“Rise.  She did such a good job last time that I figured you’d feel safe with the choice,” he teased, and Yu looked relieved.  Yosuke had once casually suggested letting Teddie come and stay at their apartment when they were both out of town, and Yu had nearly cancelled his work trip until Yosuke had assured him Naoto would be swinging by instead.

Yu stretched and got up, feeling better now that he had gotten a little more sleep and knew his cat would be taken care of.  He followed Yosuke to their room where he was rummaging through the closet for clothes, tossing out a long sleeved shirt and some pants before picking out his underwear.  Yu traveled to the closet instead, preferring to hang most of his clothes in order to avoid wrinkles.  Once they were both dressed, having to wear something a little warm since it was starting to get to cooler fall temperatures, Yosuke dragged them out the door, promising to pick something up for breakfast from one of the vendors close to the train station.  Once they had eaten and boarded a bullet train that Yu noted would be taking them to Nagoya, they stowed their luggage before finding their seats.  Yosuke still managed to have a lot of energy, used to waking up early for his morning show, and when the train started moving he kept nudging Yu and pointing out interesting things he saw along the way.

Yu couldn’t help but compare his actions to their last trip and couldn’t help but feel slightly disgruntled that Yosuke was behaving much better than when he had been taking him to Hokkaido.  He suddenly had an idea and grinned, pulling out his phone and quickly sending off a text to Yosuke who pulled his out the moment it chimed.  Yosuke read it before knowingly glancing at Yu.  “I’d indulge you, partner, but we won’t have the privilege of stopping at a condo immediately after getting off the train,” he teased, setting his phone down.

Yu pouted slightly, before nudging Yosuke lightly with his leg.  “I’m excited to see what you have planned,” he said, looking at Yosuke lovingly.  Yosuke’s eyes softened, before he picked up his phone again and typed out a quick reply.

Yu picked up his phone as it vibrated, looking over at Yosuke’s message and grinning.  He had sent Yosuke a few messages saying, “Partner” before following up with “I’m bored” all in rapid succession.  Yosuke’s response was picture of him after he had gotten back one day from jogging.  Yu had snapped it the moment he walked into the house, covered in sweat and wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the blazing summer heat, holding a towel to his head as he tried to towel off some of the sweat from his neck.  Yosuke had immediately pointed out how the picture cut off the top of his hair slightly, obviously focused a bit more on his exposed legs, and he knew it was one of Yu’s favorite pictures of him.

Yu turned to stare at Yosuke, mouth curving into a grin as he saw Yosuke shoot him a smug look.  Two could play at that game.  Yu began scrolling through his gallery, looking for a particular picture that he clearly remembered Yosuke using for the background photo on his phone back when they had different schedules.  It was a slightly blurry close up shot Yosuke had taken of Yu just after a steamy afternoon together, and in it Yu’s hair was messy as he stared at the camera with half lidded eyes.  When he finally found it, having a copy after Yosuke had sent it to him directly after taking the photo, he sent it back to Yosuke in triumph, waiting expectantly for his response.  It was definitely worth it.

Yosuke blushed, covering his mouth with his hand and nudging Yu’s shoulder in embarrassment, a strangled whine escaping his mouth.  “I told you,” he started to sputter, but Yu cut him off with a quick kiss.

“Do you admit defeat?” he asked, eyes gleaming in amusement, and Yosuke’s eyes narrowed before he pulled his phone back out, moving away to shield his phone’s screen from Yu as he began to scroll through the gallery again.

They played that game for several minutes, getting each other worked up until Yosuke finally cut it off, saying that their stop would be coming up soon.  Because they were taking the bullet train, their trip wasn’t too terribly long.  Once they arrived, they pulled down their luggage before stepping out, Yosuke pulling out his phone to follow instructions to a nearby bus stop.  Yu found himself even more curious, wondering where they could be possibly going that would require a trip by bus.  He was suddenly reminded of the lavender farm, which had also required a bus due its more remote location.

“Going to tell me where we’re going yet?” Yu asked, and Yosuke frowned.

“You didn’t tell me,” he pointed out, “so, now enjoy a taste of your own medicine.”  Yu chuckled as his reply, not as bothered by it as Yosuke had been, and settled in for the ride.  By this time, Yosuke was beginning to look a bit tired, since this was usually the point in the day he returned home for a nap. 

Yu carefully guided Yosuke’s head to his shoulder, asking “Are there anymore stops I should be worried about?” and Yosuke shook his head. 

“This bus only travels back and forth from our location,” he yawned.

“Then rest,” Yu said, kneading gentle fingers through Yosuke’s hair.

“But,” Yosuke protested, and Yu shook his head.

“You know I don’t need to be entertained on long rides,” he teased, gently encouraging Yosuke to rest.  “You can’t show me around town if you’re trying to fall asleep the whole time.”

Yosuke was encouraged by those words and soon drifted off to sleep, Yu appreciating his comforting warmth on his shoulder.  He truly didn’t mind the ride, staring out the window at the tree lined road, leaves turning color and lighting up the drive with their brilliance, Yosuke’s light breathing his companion.  Trips were always better with his boyfriend by his side after all.  He definitely preferred this to his lonely trips back and forth to Inaba.  Yu pressed a gentle kiss on Yosuke’s hair, smiling when he leaned in closer to Yu in his sleep.

After about a 2 hour drive, they finally appeared to be pulling up to their stop.  A sign next to the bus stop announced they were in Gujo Hachiman, a name Yu vaguely remembered from when Yosuke had traveled here one weekend for a work trip.  He hadn’t said much about it beyond that he was going to cover a big bon-odori dance during the Obon season, but Yu was starting to suspect it may have been because Yosuke wanted to hide this surprise.  If he had excitedly talked about it like he usually did when he encountered a cool place, Yu may have had an idea of where Yosuke was taking him.  He nudged Yosuke awake, before pointing at the sign.  “I remember you mentioning this place,” he commented, and Yosuke grinned widely.

“You’re going to love it,” he said, dragging Yu off the bus and accepting their luggage from the driver.  Yosuke led them to their hotel that they would be staying in – a place thankfully close to the bus stop – barely giving them time to freshen up from their trip before insisting they head out again.  “You’ve got a lot to see,” he said, eyes sparkling in excitement.

The first thing they did was wander the streets of the quaint town, Yu noticing to his amazement that many of the streets had small canals lining them with clear water sparkling in the warm afternoon sun.  It was still a bit chilly, especially in the shade, but the sun definitely helped make it bearable.  They also had plants lining the streetless side of the canals, and it really gave the town a nice, relaxing atmosphere.  One of the streets – Igawa Lane – had a broader canal next to it, and Yosuke quickly pointed out the large koi fish swimming upstream through the water.  Some kids were gathered next to the canal, feeding the koi fish and giggling as they swam over each other trying to get at the food, and Yu couldn’t help but snap a picture, remembering fondly how Yosuke had documented their last trip.

“I can’t believe you managed to avoid mentioning this place for months,” he said, feeling refreshed already.  They had only been walking around for about an hour.

“It was definitely hard.  But so worth it to see your face when we spotted the first canal,” Yosuke grinned.  “This place is known for having the cleanest water in Japan.  I’m actually trying to find this place where you’re able to drink water directly from the spring.”  He had been fiddling with his phone, and Yu reached over and caught his hand, gently squeezing it and shaking his head.

“We’ll find it as we wander,” he encouraged him.  “I’m just enjoying wandering around and taking in the sights with you right now.”

“You sure?” Yosuke asked, and Yu nodded. 

“This is already perfect,” he replied honestly, and Yosuke grinned.

As they wandered around, they ended up getting some grilled sweetfish from a street vendor, Yosuke immediately moaning appreciatively as he took a bite.  Yu was surprised to see Yosuke readily eating fish since he seemed so picky about it.  “I thought you hated fish,” he mused, taking a bite of his own and his eyes growing wide at the flavor.  The fish was definitely aptly named.

Yosuke grinned at the look of delight that had spread across Yu’s face.  “Yeah, normally fish doesn’t taste this good,” he pointed out with a wink, enjoying the pleased expression on Yu’s face as he devoured the rest of his fish.

“Must be because the water’s so clean,” he mused.  By then, they had finally found the public water area, picking out the stream that was specifically labeled as drinking water.  They each took a turn ladling some out directly from the spring, relishing in the crisp, fresh taste of the water and how refreshing it was after their walk.  “What’s next on the agenda?” Yu asked, turning to look at Yosuke.  The brunet's cheeks were slightly red from their brisk walk and the cool air, but it only seemed to enhance the lively sparkle in his boyfriend’s eyes.

“Well we can go eat or we can check out some of the places that make the plastic food samples everyone uses at their restaurants.  That’s the other thing this place is known for.  I’m determined to get a meat platter for Chie,” Yosuke said with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

Yu shook his head. “We can probably do that tomorrow and take some time getting everyone souvenirs,” he mused.  “I am a bit hungry though.  Let’s find a place to eat!”

They ended up ducking into the closest local restaurant, immediately discovering a dish on the menu called kei-chan that appeared to be local to the area.  It was a marinated chicken dish stir fried with cabbage and onions and sounded pretty tasty.  They soon realized that they had made the right choice, the delicious garlicky chicken, marinated in soy and miso, tasting great over rice.  Once they were finished eating, Yu noticed that Yosuke seemed a little more nervous than earlier in the day. 

He began fidgeting before going up to pay for the meal and ushering Yu out the door.  Yu wondered at his nervousness, especially when Yosuke began to lead him down one of the many canal lined roads until it opened up at a river below the town.  Along the river at either side was trees and other foliage, and the water was so clear Yu could clearly see the rocks on the bottom and the fish darting about.  It caused a really neat effect with the reflection of the trees above, almost making it look like the fish were swimming amongst the fall leaves.  It was really close to sunset now, so the sky peeking between the trees had taken on a yellow orange glow that matched the autumn leaves quite nicely.  It was honestly a breathtaking view, and Yu was so caught up in it that he didn’t notice Yosuke suddenly get down on one knee next to him.

Yu turned to speak to Yosuke, breath catching in his throat when he noticed his boyfriend was kneeling beside him, holding an open ring box in his hand with a simple, silver band gleaming in the middle.  The setting sun was located behind him, kissing his hair with golden light while his face was slightly shadowed due to being turned away from it.  It made his eyes look darker than usual, sultry almost, but still gleaming with a nervously hopeful look.  He cleared his throat before saying shyly, “You’ve been my partner for a long time, but today I was hoping to make that permanent.”  His hand holding out the ring box was shaking slightly, and Yu found himself kneeling down in front of him, his own legs feeling a bit shaky.

“I was already yours, forever,” Yu replied, gently taking the box from Yosuke’s hand and holding out the ring to him.  Relief filled Yosuke’s eyes as he took it, clearly understanding his intention.  He smiled before sliding the ring on Yu’s finger, pleased when it fit perfectly.

“I know, but sometimes, you want to make it official, right?” Yosuke asked gently, lacing his fingers with Yu’s and appreciating the feeling of the cool metal of Yu’s engagement ring against his own fingers.  “So, what do you say, partner?” Yosuke asked, looking back at Yu.  The sun was beginning to set now, causing that weak light that always occurred around dusk.  Both he and Yosuke looked pale in the lighting, and Yu found himself unable to look away from the ethereal look it gave Yosuke’s face.  Yosuke was similarly staring back at him with a searching gaze.

Yu chuckled, before leaning forward laying his forehead against Yosuke’s.  “I thought it was pretty clear I said yes,” he teased, taking Yosuke’s other hand and also squeezing it.

“I mean, I just have to make sure,” Yosuke replied, and Yu laughed. 

“Did the girls help you pick it out?” he asked, glancing at the way the silver of the ring caught the early evening light.

“I kind of already had it picked out but wanted to make sure they thought it was a good choice,” Yosuke replied.  “I thought something simple yet elegant would be perfect.”  He was blushing lightly, before asking worriedly, “Do you not like it?”

Yu silenced his fear with a warm kiss, letting go of Yosuke’s other hand so he could hold his fiancé’s face as he expertly aligned their lips.  Yosuke leaned into the kiss, shoulders relaxing as he lightly rested his free hand on Yu’s waist.  Once they pulled apart, Yu replied, “I love you.  You know me too well.”  He gently ran his thumb on Yosuke’s cheek before reluctantly pulling his hand away with the ring, looking at it in silent admiration.  It was now pretty dark outside, but he still managed to make it out from his eyes adjusting to the light. 

“Well, maybe it’s time to celebrate in our hotel room,” he said lightly, turning to face Yosuke.  “We do have to make up for that train ride after all.”

Yosuke snorted before slinging his arm around Yu’s shoulders, more as a way to prove they belong together now than his usual friendly antics.  “You do owe me after being such a flirt earlier,” he agreed, and Yu rolled his eyes.

“It was no worse than what you did on the train to Hokkaido,” he accused, and Yosuke gave him a shit eating grin.

“Hopefully this will be half as good as the sex we got on that trip,” he replied casually as they began heading back into town.

“It’ll be even better,” Yu replied thoughtfully.  “Because you’re mine now.”

“That’s what I was supposed to say,” Yosuke said with a dramatic sigh.  “I’m the one who proposed!”

Yu grinned before leaning forward, murmuring, “Partner,” into Yosuke’s ear and relishing in the shiver he felt up his fiancé’s spine.  Yosuke immediately tilted his head, stopping them in their tracks as he hungrily took Yu’s lips, his arm still wrapped around the other man’s shoulder.

“Yu,” he moaned, and now it was Yu’s turn to jolt in reply.  Yosuke was never one to back down from a challenge.  Yosuke pulled away with a smirk, before saying, “Well, I guess we’ll have to wait for the hotel…” and laughing when Yu suddenly tugged impatiently at his hand and began jogging back to where they were staying on the other side of town.  He wanted to let Yosuke know how much he appreciated this surprise and looked forward to their future together as partners.