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Gifts of the heart can't be blamed

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There is a monster on his bed.

It’s green. It’s huge. It’s extremely, disconcertingly soft and Yusaku feels his eyes going to it the second he enters the room. He has resorted to moving his desk to face away in desperation because he just can't concentrate otherwise.

“You know, Yusaku-chan, if you don't like the throw blanket you don't have to keep it.” Ai says from his right.

“It was a gift” he replies, before remembering to tack on “and the blanket is fine.”

“OK, but I asked Aqua and she said humans definitely can't set things on fire with their mind” Yusaku rolls his eyes, which makes them snag unwillingly on the bright green glow swallowing his bed.

“I don't want to set it on fire.” He says – possibly unconvincingly especially since he can't help but brace himself a little when he turns to Ai sitting smack in the middle on top of it.

AI looks at him speculatively. “Do you want me to set out on fire?”

“No.” Yes.

By the mad sparkle in his eye, Ai saw that thought in his mind clear as day. It occurs to him that life was better when nobody didn't know him that well.

“Oh, I could make it look like an accident!” he says, walking to the edge of the bed and picking it up, as if testing the material for burnability. “I don't think it would be hard at all for Ai-sama. LINKU-”

“Stop.” Yusaku says. “You are not going to burn it.”

“It's really no trouble!” Ai rubs his hand in glee, clearly already devising a plan, which – Yusaku might be the only one to like this apartment, but it still means he doesn’t want to be thrown out.

“No.”

“I promise I won't burn anything else!” he strikes a pose, arm in the air, hips cocked. “I am the master of flames!”

“No.” He turns away again even though he can tell that Ai wants some applause. Too bad for him Roboppi is being repaired. Yusaku refuses to encourage him.

“I don't understand, Yusaku.” Ai says, suddenly serious.He hops on his shoulder leaning so he can see his face. “You hate it.”

He really really does. It’s too bright, standing out in his room like a sore thumb, contrasting with the fading wallpaper, the worn blanket underneath it.

It’s the first thing his eyes go to when he enters the room, annoyingly present, demanding attention even when he just catches it at the corner of his eyes.

He can't even really explain why it irritates him so much, it just doesn't fit. Doesn't fit this room, doesn't fit him.

Too soft to the touch, like drowning in kitten fur, too new, too whole.

And despite the short flash of vicious excitement he’s feeling at the thought of seeing it going up in flames, he can't do it, can't even contemplate it for more than a second.

Because it might not be a fit for him, but -

“Awwwww Yusaku-chan, is it because Takeru gave it to you?!?” Ai exclaims. He instinctively moved his face away from the earlier close scrutiny, but Ai leans out further, grabbing his hair for balance. “That's so cute!”

“It was a gift.” He repeats in a mumble, remembering the look of shy excitement on his friend’s face when he gave him the blanket.

It hadn't even been his birthday or any other special occasion, but Takeru had come to him after school with a box in his hand

He'd been arguing with Flame the whole time he was still out of earshot, so Yusaku assumed some kind of trouble. Instead, Takeru had thrust the box at him, blushing slightly.

“For you! Your room, I mean!” he'd said, his voice cracking. “ I saw it and thought of you! Your room ! I thought it would be nice… in your room , because there isn't a lot….which is fine! If that's what you like!  Which you do, so.. “

Yusaku had watched, slightly fascinated at Takeru turning redder with every word, gesticulating wildly, Flame looking on with an unimpressed air, until he'd given up and just pointed helplessly at the box.

Yusaku had opened it, not knowing what to expect, when the green, soft mass had spilled over his hands, brilliant in the sunlight.

“Thank you.” he'd said automatically, scrambling for anything else in the face of the expression of hope on Takeru's face.

That's so pretty!!” Ai coming to his rescue, “I love it, it sparkles!”

“You do?” Takeru had said, glancing in his direction. And Yusaku didn't know what to do, didn't know what any of this meant , some emotion in Takeru's eyes that made him almost flustered.

So he'd just agreed, automatically, unthinking and the smile that had lit up Takeru's face at that had been…something else.

So he'd taken the blanket home and put it on his bed in lieu of anywhere else, despite the fact that it looked so very out of place.

Woke up in the middle of the night to that softness against him, almost suffocating. Dealt with that flash of uncomfortable colour every time he went home.

Because Takeru had looked so happy in that moment. Because every time he visited Yusaku his eyes searched for it and a flash of something showed in his eyes, when he saw it on Yusaku's bed, a spring entering his step when he walked down the stairs.

“Maybe you should let me spill something on it.” Ai says, pulling him out of his thoughts. He tugs on him hard enough to force him to turn the chair around, sitting down on his shoulder, elbows contemplatively balanced on his crossed legs.

Sometimes Yusaku is surprised and slightly humbled by how seriously Ai takes things like that. It's not like it's a huge deal, Yusaku can live with it. But Ai considers it a problem to solve, simply because he doesn't want Yusaku to be uncomfortable.

“Stop contemplating my genius and pay attention!” he says, “I really think a cup of coffee, maybe some marker lines - throw it in the wash and presto!”

Yusaku thinks about it, thinks about the brilliant green marred with lines and spills, rough spots in between an ocean of softness and something in him relaxes at that.

But still, he can't help wondering…

“Will he still like it?” he says, a weird note in his voice, some unsettled feeling in his stomach. He can't quite bring himself to finish the thought.

“If it's a bit used up by life?” Sometimes it's unsettling how well Ai knows him. He nods anyway.

“You know what, Yusaku,” Ai says leaning against his cheek. “I'm sure, he'll love it. “