'Amajiki Tamaki' read the nameplate by the door.
So this is where he lives.
Finding Tamaki's home had been tricky as it was in the middle of an expanding apartment complex located in a (for you) foreign part of the city. In this complex his apartment was simply one of many, a single leaf in a blooming bush. For this reason it felt like this was somewhere he would enjoy living, anonymously. However, living in the corner apartment on the first floor was perhaps a bit too exposed for him, considering that all his blinders were drawn shut.
You rang the bell and took a step back.
At least five days had passed since Tamaki had last spoken to you; after day two of pushing up the hard task to send you a message saying his vacation had started and he was available, he understood that too much time had passed already and that he should wait until the weekend to contact you. That's when you usually texted or called him, anyway. It had felt alright until he'd logged into his social media account a few days later. After the 5 notifications bubble popped up on his phone, panic and guilt bit into him. Reading them was unnecessary, because he knew what they said and who the sender was. Therefore, the immediate response was to turn off the sound on his phone and camp in his apartment.
His food reservoir was a mismatched mix that one possibly couldn't make anything edible out of. Not that he could make food at the moment, since he was certain that his neighbours would overhear him if he cooked too loudly, showered with the water current too strong or walked too harshly on the floor. One morning he had been making a pretty elaborate breakfast, cut short after one neighbour banged on the wall in the living room. He abruptly turned off the rice cooker and conformed himself with something simpler and quieter. He felt bad that his neighbours had to deal with him.
Today he was too agitated to move around, so he didn't do much other than game and eat leftovers. That's why both his dishes weren't washed and he kind of neglected. He'd take a shower on Sunday, when he'd probably see you. Right now, he just wanted to disappear into his book. It was a quiet evening spent on his couch and nothing could bother him.
Every evening used to be peaceful, but then his neighbours became hypersensitive to any and every sound he made.
The door bell ringing was how he was reminded of their existense. With deliberate, fluid movements he laid down the book on the couch and slipped down onto the floor. He made his way to the door in complete silence.
Okay, Tamaki is a total homebody. There's no way he isn't home.
It wasn't the first time this had happened, though all other times he had ignored you had been on social media. Him not opening messages and such. If it hadn't been for Mirio giving you a heads up about it, you might've taken it personally. After all, the two of you had been a couple for a few months now. You were grateful that Mirio felt involved enough in Tamaki's life to warn you about his these incidents, which you were told had occasionally taken place since their U.A. days.
Your take-away was getting cold and you were honestly getting worried. Your phone showed no missed calls or messages. There was always the option to call him and get a confirmation whether he was home or not by listening for the ring tone inside… but you thought that it would force him further into his shell. If he didn't answer you also wouldn't find out how he was doing. What if he had fainted in the shower and was bleeding out? The mental images of possible ways someone could die inside their home grew incrementally worse and you nervously fiddled with your phone.
Just this time, it wouldn't be strange if you excused yourself into his home. Right?
You tried opening the door. It's 2019, who would ever leave their door unlocked? Of course it was locked. Goddamn.
There is no one outside, you thought as you surveyed your surroundings and went around the corner. It would be okay this one time. No one would judge you for doing this. In the back of your mind you kind of remembered some law about entering someone's home unauthorized if there were health concerns, which was enough motivate you to try. See, one window in the back was slightly cracked open. While fully opening the window it occurred to you that this was your debut into Tamaki's home.
You slid in between the window and the blinders into Tamaki's kitchen, sitting on top of a dining table. The room was pretty cramped, a small cupboard on the left side wall and the usual kitchen appliances on the right. It was directly connected to the hall, where you could see the exterior door. As you shut the window a foul, thick smell of humidity and old food struck you, so you opened it again.
"Tamaki, it's me," you called out and jumped down on the floor.
Tamaki popped his head out from what you assumed was the bathroom, wearing complicated emotions on his face. "Y/N?"
"Yeah, I can explain this. I, uh, just wanted to see how you were doing." You raised the take-away bag to eye level. "I brought you food."
Like a snail retracting into its shell, he withdrew into the bathroom and shut the door. "I'll hear you out… after I've taken a shower."
"Do it. I'll wait."
You did and Tamaki emerged from the shower, clean and warm, five minutes later. He awkwardly walked into the kitchen, dressed in sweatpants and an overgrown hoodie, clearly avoiding looking at the dish mountain. Instead he raided a kitchen drawer for chopsticks and sat down together with you. Tamaki opened the box and dug in without mercy or any semblance of modesty.
You leaned back on you chair. "This is the first time I have ever forced myself into someone's home, by the way. Don't arrest me for that, I'm pretty sure I acted in accordance to the law. I thought something had happened."
"While I appreciate the sentiment," he answered between bites, "you scared the living daylights out of me. I thought you were a thief at first. It could've ended nasty if I had been eating well."
"What do you mean?"
He raised his eyebrows and looked at you solemnly. "I can't manifest crackers…"
"Is that what you've been eating? That's student level of food."
"It wasn't by choice." Tamaki said curtly and took a sip of water.
You bit your lip and nodded softly. The fact that he had ignored your messages and calls still bothered you, even though you somewhat understood the circumstances. You didn't want to be bothersome about it; you imagined that it would embarrass him greatly should you bring it up. It wasn't by choice, like he had said. Still, you thought that there should be some accountability on his part.
"We've known each other for a while now, but I didn't know you had it this… hard to reach out to people. When we weren't together," you sputtered out, unused to bringing it up, "it was an inconvenience. Now I actually get worried - and it's not just me. Mirio and even Hadou have asked if I had heard from you."
Tamaki tensed his shoulders. "Both of them should understand by now; we went through this in high school. I don't know. I just start to feel cornered when I get bombarded by messages. I don't particularly want to be around people when I'm that paranoid."
"I'd never force you to do something you don't want. I think that you should at least text me back. You don't even need to read what I've sent you if it is too much. Knowing you're alive is enough."
He seemed more interested in his food than in answering. You couldn't force him to answer and you didn't have anything more to inquire. This was a conversation for another day, hopefully. You let him eat in peace. At least for a while.
"You know," you began and casually stole a piece of meat from box, "I've known you for two years and you've never invited me here before. Have you lived here since we first met?"
After some consideration he nodded with a sharp movement. "For almost five years."
You ate your piece and instantly regretted not buying a portion of your own. Licking your fingers, you kept overwatch on his food while he gingerly picked and chose, his bangs covering his face.
"Like, I thought you still lived with your parents since you refused to even give me an adress,"
Tamaki choked. He covered his mouth with his hand and coughed violently enough to rack his entire body. You shot up to get him some water but he held you back with his hand as you were walking past him to the dish bench. He got himself a glass from the unwashed pile. Poor guy probably didn't have any clean ones.
As he drank you re-settled into your chair, cautiously. He poured himself another glass and wiped his eyes with his sleeve before returning to the table.
"I just enjoy my privacy," he commented, rather dryily, before digging in again with reluctance. Probably terrified of you dropping another bomb like that and him choking for real this time. Suneater dying by eating sukiyaki.
"You can thank Mirio for giving me your adress. He's been worried too."
"I'll thank him in person."
"I think he'd appreciate a quick message from you ASAP."
Tamaki stopped his chopsticks half-way to his mouth and raised his eyes to look at you, sadness pulling at the edges. "You can't thank someone who's looking out for you with a simple message. I'll go see him in a few days and thank him in person." His eyes shifted slightly and he cast his gaze downwards. "I'll try to, anyway."
That's an admirable outlook, you thought to yourself as he somewhat self-consciously finished his food. Thanking someone for helping you out was very humbling, in particular when independent people such as Tamaki are caught between problems. But as the old adage goes, no man is an island. If you ever needed help, you knew you could count on Tamaki - and Mirio for that matter. No question about it. If he didn't message Mirio by the time you were returning home, you'd send a text to Mirio yourself, though.
Breathing deeply, Tamaki put his chopsticks down into his box and quickly grabbed your hands, his fingers squishing your fingers against his palms. Warmth emanated from his hands and his face seemed a lot less paler when he smiled weakly at you.
"Thank you, Y/N. I would've starved if you hadn't arrived today."
Your thumbs caressed the insides of his wrists, sweeping over the bumpy texture of veins and muscles.
"I'll break into your apartment anytime, babe."