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he wonders, what is home? he’s heard countless times, home is where the memories are formed, home is where the heart is, home is where you want it to be. he has never understood it, never understood when someone said home wasn’t always where you lived- where your family is. because, obviously, home is where he lived- where his family is, it wasn't a person, it wasn't a store or a park or a feeling. that much, he thinks, should be obvious to everyone.

and he thought that until he met teru.

bright and airy, like the sunflowers that grew in the depths of his yard, like the sun that spilled through his glass of water and danced on the kitchen counter, like the yellow of his pencil- eyesight bleary and yet it stood clear while everything blurred.

just like the yellow bracelet he bought him when they were out, just like the lemon sherbet they shared during a hot summer day because teru forgot to bring money- sweet, tangy, and refreshing after suffering in the brutal heat of a clear sky.

in the rain of early spring, puddles on concrete and splashes of water underneath people’s feet- rain falling from the sky, hitting the ground and the umbrellas that covered the sky. they stood underneath a convenience store awning. both forgetting to bring umbrellas, they stood underneath it- lights flickering as people walked by.

in the cloudy day, light dim and dark and blocked by heavy clouds- teru seemed to shine. maybe it was because of the clashy clothes he wore, maybe it was because of the blonde of his hair and the blue of his eyes, maybe it was because of his aura, or maybe it was everything about him, everything that made him teru, maybe, because of that, he shined brighter than the neon light in the window, brighter than the car headlights and brighter than the cyan of his jacket.

with the glowing of his hair- the glowing of his eyes, the glowing of the vessels that thrummed underneath his skin, he spoke, “should we make a run for it?” he chuckled, light and deep- echoing in his ears to his skull and to the beating of his heart.

“you're the one who wanted to stand here.”

he laughed, “i thought it would end quickly, turns out it didn't.” he turned to look at the sky, gray and dark, “but it wasn't a total waste of time, i got to stand with you after all.”

ritsu scoffed, “gross.”

and teru laughed louder while ritsu tried to ignore the burning of his ears and the fluttering of his stomach.

--

“It's raining so much.” teru sighed and held his hand up to the sky- rain bouncing off his hand into the damp ground.

“do you not like rain?”

“i do, i just don't want it to rain right now.” teru smiled and changed the topic arbutly, “do you want to go play in the mud?”

“huh?” ritsu stopped walking and turned to look at him- disbelief swirling in his eyes, “we’re not children.”

“we’re in middle school, we classify as children, don’t we?”

“i'm not getting my uniform dirty.”

“let's make some mud pie, i haven't done that since i was little!” teru laughed, clear like the windchimes that played in the morning breeze, “if your uniform gets dirty i'll wash it for you.”

he scoffed, hands in his pockets and scarf up his nose, “that's not going to convince me.”

and teru laughed, tugging his hand out of his pockets and into his own- ritsu jumped trying to tug his hands away, “w-what are you doing?!”

“let's go play with mud!”

“i already told you i'm not going to!”

 

and yet, he ended up with mud caked on the soles of his shoes and layered on the palm of his hands.

two mud pies placed in between them ritsu sighed as teru laughed, hands caked with dirt and mud and shaping the mud that rested between his fingers.

and, despite the mud that webbed between his fingers and gathered underneath his fingernails, despite the dirty soles of his shoes and the grass stuck to the side of his shoe and the edge of his pants he felt light.

seeing him laugh, bright and loud and cheerful- echoing in the sky and reaching the sun, his eyes squeezed shut and his nose wrinkled- eyes twinkling and teeth showing, his shoulders shaking and his laugh echoing in his chest as it reached the cold air-

it made it worth it, but of course, ritsu would never admit that.

--

“look at the stars!” teru pointed at the sky with his hand, grocery bags falling down his arm.

“why are you here?”

“i couldn’t let poor ritsu carry all these heavy bags on his own!” he teased, “so of course, i came to help.”

“i don't need your help.”

“yes, yes, of course.” teru laughed.

ritsu scoffed as teru walked by his side, a cheerful tint to his voice, “do you see that constellation?”

“hm?” ritsu followed the finger and only saw the starry sky, “where?”

“see? right there.” teru produced a faint light on his fingertip as he traced the stars, both of them standing still, ritsu waited until he was done.

“that's just a heart.”

teru winked, “it's my love for you.”

a sharp inhale, “do you ever think before you speak?”

“all the time.”

ritsu breathed in deeply, trying to hide the redness of his face and the quickening of his pulse, “if you say another word ill hit you.”

and teru just laughed as ritsu suffered.

--

in the storm of rainy days he sat on his couch, the soft sound of the television playing in the background and the sound of rain hitting the windows, the warmth of his blanket and hot chocolate surrounding him and making him doze off, it didn't help that teru was sat by his side- abnormally warm.

he didn't know why teru was here, he arrived at his door and in order to avoid social awkwardness he let him in. teru didn't say anything, just a smile on his lips and a weight to his shoulders that wasn't there before.

he sat down without a word, put a blanket over his shoulder and closed his eyes. breathing in and out and ritsu didn't say anything either, he didn't know what to say and even if he did he doubt it would be any help.

they traded sips of the hot chocolate and ritsu really should think about how unsanitary that was but he was warm and comfortable and on the brink of sleep.

“sorry for barging in, i just…” teru sighed and ritsu waited for him to collect his thoughts, “i didn't want to be alone.”

“its fine.”

he could hear the smile in his voice, “thanks for this. it helps a lot, surprisingly.”

“you’re welcome here anytime.” ritsu said, his brain to mouth filter weak.

he could feel teru’s fingers comb through his hair, soft and gentle and grounding- making him drift off even more, “good to know.”

with his eyes closed and his whole being warm he leaned into his hand- into his arms, feeling his heartbeat thrum beneath his ear and his chest move up and down, hearing him breathe and the soft glide of fingers against his scalp, he dozed off.

and, on the brink of unconsciousness he felt something soft against his forehead, forgein and familiar, ritsu wondered, deep in his mind, surrounded by the thoughts of teru and the way he lived, if this what was home felt like.