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Hansa Yellow

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Over the course of his life thus far, Yusuke has had the opportunity to work with a variety of different paints. Some are cheap and smell like plastic, refusing to blend no matter how much Yusuke tries to work with them, forcing layer after layer over each other upon his canvas. Then there are the far more expensive supplies, like the stretched canvases imported from France that cost fifteen-thousand yen each, but they feel like paradise beneath his hands. He isn't awarded the opportunity to work with the latter very often — Madarame always preferred that he make do with budget tools — but he has already had a taste of what's out there. It is an art form in and of itself to discover ways to utilize different types of paints and surfaces; sometimes the more expensive tools just make the process easier. And he would be lying if he said he isn't a bit jealous of the students in his class often coming in with supplies he can only dream of.

The tools of the trade are important, but even more than that, it is the significance of what drives those very tools to create that surmounts all. He could have the finest paintbrushes that never shed a single hair, and he could have the sturdiest charcoal pencils that never shatter, but none of it would mean a thing if he didn't have something to motivate him, to stir his drive.

Akechi Goro provides both supplies and stimulation. Sometimes Yusuke isn't quite sure how to feel about him; he smiles so freely and yet there's something hidden beneath. Something dark and leering. Akechi Goro is a man angry at the world, and it is that very conundrum that draws Yusuke's eye.

When there's a knock at the door, Yusuke stiffens. The sky outside has grown dark as he's painted the hours away, oblivious to the world and all that resides in it. When he paints, there is the here and now: the ache in his shoulder, the racing of his heart, his eyes straining as he soaks in every detail. There aren't many people who would visit him at this hour, or at all, but out of the minuscule amount of possibilities, it just happens to be Akechi Goro, plastic bags in hand.

"I was nearby," Akechi says, "and I wanted to see how you were doing."

If any of Yusuke's friends were here, they would be suspicious of Akechi's smile. He knows that Akechi is hiding something, that he isn't quite who he appears to be, but that makes him even more attractive. The mystery, the magic, the apprehension — it all makes Yusuke's mind whirl. So he invites him in, welcoming him to his abode full of paint and canvas. He offers him a seat on the only stool, but Akechi shakes his head, still smiling.

"And the bags — what are those for?" Yusuke asks, stepping back toward his easel.

"Ah, you got me there." For a moment, Akechi almost looks embarrassed, eyes darting to the floor then back to Yusuke. "It's for you."

Once the bags are set down, Yusuke dives into them. There are tubes of paint in a variety of colors — unbleached titanium, sunshine gold, graphite gray — and Yusuke recognizes the brand. It's far more expensive than he's ever been able to afford, and the fact that these paints are here, right before his very eyes, stuns him.

"I was hoping I could watch you paint," Akechi continues, as if Yusuke being slack with awe doesn't surprise him at all. "If it isn't too much trouble."

When Yusuke is able to stand, his hands are shaky, fists full of paint tubes. He's still wary, but the kindness is chipping away at his resolve.

"And why would you want to do such a thing?"

At this, Akechi looks astonished, and Yusuke isn't sure he minds whether or not his expressions are genuine anymore. "Your paintings are beautiful, of course. I've seen them at the gallery in Shibuya."

A range of emotions pour through Yusuke's chest: confusion, suspicion, intrigue. He clutches at the front of his shirt, as if his heart is the source of his scattered emotions, but all he feels is the rapid beat of his heart.

When he sets up a fresh canvas, acquiescing to Akechi's demand, he feels curious eyes peering at him. For a moment, he wasn't sure if he had it in him to use such luxurious paints just yet. He would have preferred to let his imagination swim for a while, soaking in the world around him before delving into his new supplies, but he feels that he owes Akechi the opportunity to watch him use the gifts he brought. The brightest yellow, the deepest blue — all glide so smoothly onto the canvas. His brush is no longer his tool; it is Yusuke himself now, an extension of the world's vigor, of its hopes and dreams.

Nobody touches him, not when he's painting, but Akechi dares to try. His touch is featherlight against his shoulder, slipping down his arm and to the hand holding his paintbrush. If Yusuke wanted to, he could twist away, but he doesn't. He wants to feel everything Akechi has to give, every bit of humanity that slips through his mask.

"You're shaking," Akechi says, bringing Yusuke's wrist up to his lips. Some paint flicks across his cheek — a beautiful Hansa yellow — and if it were any other moment, with any other person, he might mourn the loss. But with Akechi, the color makes his skin glow, and Yusuke watches in wonder as he kisses his trembling wrist. His lips are soft, but the sensation is sharp and exhilarating, like heat pouring through him.

He doesn't know why he was shaking; he hadn't even realized his body was reacting in such a way. But Akechi saw, as he always seems to. Akechi knows.

"Thank you," he says, grateful for the opportunity to feel him so close, to be bound within his endless, captivating eyes. "Akechi."

Another kiss, this one trailing up to the palm of his hand, and Yusuke can feel himself shiver now. Still Akechi watches him, smirk dancing at the corner of his lips, and Yusuke falls ever deeper.

"Please. Call me Goro."