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The perfect replacement for a plushie

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A muffled grunt resounded through one of the two hotel rooms reserved for the ALKALOID members that night, along with the sounds of rapidly going through bags. Tatsumi looked up from the desk he sat at. "What's the matter, Mayoi-san?"

"Uuuh, nothing…" the man mumbled, honestly out of reflex, since by now he knew that Tatsumi wouldn't just give in with an answer like that. Mayoi was already expecting Tatsumi to look at him with that look that said 'tell me what's wrong', and Mayoi sighed.

"I-It's… I forgot my…" Mayoi's voice grew really silent near the end and it trailed off, as he really didn't want to reveal it. It was so embarrassing to him, but he knows Tatsumi wouldn't give up without an answer. And by now, he should know that he'd never judge him for anything. Especially not something as small as that… And yet, words came out of his throat. It felt as though it was impossible to admit it in front of Tatsumi.

"Mayoi-san? You know that you can tell me anything, right? What is it, that is bothering you?" Tatsumi got up from his desk chair and hugged Mayoi. Mayoi hesitated, but then gently pushed his hands away from him.

"I-It's not that serious, it's just… Ugh, this sounds so dumb but I… I forgot to bring by plushie with me…" Mayoi mumbled, and he couldn't help it, his pale skin turned a bright pink. God, how embarrassing. Are these tears threatening to roll down his cheeks? Fuck, if he cries because of this stupid-

"Oh, the owl, wasn't it?"

The purple-haired man flinched when he heard Tatsumi knew exactly which one he meant. "Y-Yes, that one…" he replied, and he was about to say more about it, like how it's been with him since childhood, or how owls are one of his favorite animals, just to keep the conversation less painfully dry, but he decided against it. Even though this weird atmosphere in the room made him feel uncomfortable, he didn't want to reveal anything embarrassing without being asked for it, because he'd surely regret it. Instead, he asked. "H-How did you know?"

"I simply noticed you had it with you when we as ALKALOID still lived in that dorm room together. Although you tried to hide it, didn't you? I still found you hugging it in your sleep when I woke up sometimes. Fufu, you looked so cute," Tatsumi said with a fond smile and then quickly kissed him on his forehead, which only made Mayoi squeal even more, turning him into a blushing mess.

God, how humiliating, Tatsumi had actually seen him like that! Snuggling with a plushie while he's basically almost an adult. And he said he looked cute? That's just another word for pathetic, isn't it? Not only is Mayoi still not used to hearing these words of affection so casually from Tatsumi (or from anyone, for that matter), now he feels like his doubts that he only pities him have been confirmed. He's just so pathetic he should just-

"Hm? You seem upset, Mayoi-san… Oh, is it that you can't sleep without that stuffed animal?"

Well, that wasn't the reason Mayoi started shaking, but it certainly was true… He needs that owl, otherwise there's no way he'd fall asleep, at least not within like eight hours. Of course, he's so scatterbrained, he forgot one of his most important things… Not to mention that he forgot his toothbrush as well. Mayoi seemed to be ashamed as he nodded in response.

"Well, Aira-san always bring at least a handful of plushies with him," Tatsumi suggested, "maybe you could ask him to lend you one, as a replacement?"

"Guh…" Mayoi shook, "no, I don't want Aira-san knowing about this, it's already too embarrassing knowing that… you…"

Okay. Too many emotions, too much to fit inside of Mayoi, he felt like he's about to burst. His hand instinctively went to his pockets, where he usually keeps some stim toys, for situations in which he's overwhelmed like this. With shaky hands, he let his spiky ring go up and down his pointer finger. It helped him feel less like he's going to fall apart.

Although focused on his stim toy in his hands, Mayoi still noticed Tatsumi hesitate for a second, before he very slowly wrapped his arms around him again. "Hm, well… I'm sure it wouldn't be the same, but… Would you like to cuddle with me instead?"

With how close he was to Mayoi, Tatsumi must've felt and heard his heart race. "T-Tatsumi-san…"

"Would you like that, Mayoi-san?" he asked again, whispering into Mayoi's ear, which only made him go even crazier. This was way too much for him, but… even though his heart felt like it was about to explode, he also felt… good. Tatsumi's arms around him were so warm and nice… He felt so cozy, and protected. Reluctantly, Mayoi also hugged Tatsumi back, while completely forgetting to answer his question. At that moment, he completely forgot about everything… Except for his self-deprecating thoughts.

What makes you think that you deserve to be anywhere close to this man, let alone hug him? You should jump from the window immediately. You are a disgrace and you're only tainting him. Why aren't you ashamed?

"T-Tatsumi-san…" he whimpered, his high-pitched, shaky voice made the other concerned. He sounded like he was about to cry and when he pulled away to face him, that suspicion was confirmed.

"Ah, I'm sorry Mayoi-san!" It seems that Tatsumi misunderstood, he must've thought the reason why Mayoi cried was because he didn't want any of his advances, when that's not the case at all. "I-I'm sorry, I…" He let go of him and stepped away, while anxiously trying to apologize for approaching him this directly. "I-I didn't want to… uh…"

He wasn't sure what he expected Mayoi would do next, but jumping and clinging onto him tightly while whimpering "p-please don't leave me…" surely was the last thing on his mind. Now Mayoi was full-on sobbing, as he buried his face in Tatsumi's chest, shaking. He left the taller man completely perplexed for a couple of seconds, and while it took him some time to comprehend what was happening, once he did, he quickly tried to comfort Mayoi, feeling kind of bad for taking that long, not comforting Mayoi a second sooner.

"Now, now, Mayoi-san, it's okay… I would never, ever leave you, my dear. I'll always be here for you," he spoke softly as he caressed the purple mess of hair in front of him. "It's okay, I promise."

Mayoi was holding onto Tatsumi to try and escape these thoughts, but they only seemed to worsen the closer he got to him. "Nghhhh… Why, why won't it just stop?!"

"Huh? Why won't what stop?"

Mayoi figured if he answered 'the voices in my head' he's sound like he's absolutely batshit crazy, so instead, he asked Tatsumi a question, mumbling against his chest, "…Tatsumi-san… is it really okay for me to be with you…?"

"Hm? Of course it is, why…?"

"But I'm so disgraceful, n-no human should have to be near me… Especially not someone as pure and holy as you, Tatsumi-san! I-I… I shouldn't be clinging onto you right now, tainting you with how awful I am… Why do you even want to hug me? Just to make me burn from the inside with guilt? Is this how you want to torment me? …i-if it is, then… even though I deserve it… i-it hurts… because I actually love you… I-I do…"

At was… a lot to unpack. Both Tatsumi and Mayoi himself were in shock from what he just said for a couple of seconds, leaving the two in silence. Mayoi said things he'd swore he'd never say out loud in this lifetime, but in that moment, his mouth just wouldn't stop. Leading him to actually just confess his love, his sinful, horrible love for another man, a priest even, someone who he shouldn't even be allowed to breathe the same air as. Tatsumi surely only treats him kindly out of pity more than anything, and yet Mayoi actually fell in love. With a man. As sinful as Mayoi is seeing himself right now, just thinking about… maybe, spending his future together with Tatsumi… that would be the most wonderful thing in the world.

But it was too late. Mayoi had spoken these words and can't take them back anymore. Not only were both of them quiet, they also felt like they were frozen in place, but when eventually Mayoi tried to free from the hug, Tatsumi stopped him, holding him even closer.

"Mayoi-san… I love you, too. It seems my displays of affections are too much for you, I apologize for that. Fufu, I just can't help myself sometimes, with how adorable you are… Just… why do you always say these awful things about yourself? You're the most wonderful person I know, so compassionate, caring, and sweet. I love you, I really do."

Hearing these words, Mayoi had dropped his stim ring out of shock and tried making up for it by sinking his fingernails into his palms, deep. Any harder and they would soon draw blood. But as if Tatsumi was able to tell what Mayoi was doing (though probably just a coincidence), he grabbed the other's hands, then gently put them in his own, finally driving the purple-haired man to make eye contact. Glassy teal meeting sincere violet.

"T-Tatsumi-san…" Mayoi hesitated, but then clutched the other's hands back. Words of doubting him started to rise up his throat, unable to believe that Tatsumi would actually really love something like him. But with how genuine Tatsumi's angelic eyes softly glared at his… Mayoi realized that Tatsumi's lips are too holy to tell a single lie.

"But… why would you love me? I'm so disgusting, I-I don't understand… It's out of pity, isn't it? There's no way-" All of a sudden, Tatsumi decided to shut Mayoi up by putting his lips on his. It was a very short kiss, really only to make Mayoi stop saying these horrible things, and to show him that his feelings were sincere.

Even after their lips parted again, their faces were still so close to each other, until Mayoi's widened upon realization set in, staggering away. "Aaahh, y-you… Tatsumi-san, I… I don't deserve this… Y-You shouldn't…" Though there was barely any power behind these words anymore, as if he just rambled

"Mayoi-san…" Tatsumi whispered while staring intently into Mayoi's eyes, as if to say 'please stop saying that'. Mayoi seemed to understand, "Tatsumi-san, t-then… then it's really okay?" Mayoi hesitated before he spoke in a shaky, unsure voice, and Tatsumi held his face in his hands, stroking Mayoi's cheek with his thumb and nodding with a smile.

That assurance was really all Mayoi needed to finally start to accept that this wasn't wrong. That was the last straw, because once he realized that, he embraced Tatsumi tightly, wordlessly. No words needed to be said, the way that they looked into each other's eyes was more than enough. They craved each other, and their lips found themselves conjoined again. This kiss was longer than the last one, but still incredibly gentle. Neither of them was very experienced, after all, and neither of them wanted to take it too quick, mindful of the other, and eventually, with Tatsumi's lips against his, Mayoi's last few bits of doubts inside of him starting to finally disappear.

And then, once they were over, Mayoi simply fell into Tatsumi's arms, "I love you, Tatsumi-saaaawn…", a yawn came from his lips before he knew it.

"Oh? Are you tired, Mayoi-san? Well, it is pretty late already, and tomorrow will be quite a long day. Do you want to go to bed?"

"Mmh…" Mayoi hummed in response, the tiredness in his voice noticeable, "yes, that would be a good idea."

"So…" with a smile, and cheeks turning a slightly red tone, Tatsumi posed the question he had asked earlier again. "So, do you think hugging me as a replacement for your plushie would work?"

What a question, there is nothing in this world that Mayoi would rather have in his arms than Tatsumi. Although he still felt ashamed, Mayoi nodded, and his excitement made Tatsumi laugh a bit. "Let's get ready then."

Tatsumi had always known about Mayoi's struggles to fall asleep, but after not too much time passed, he heard the man using his chest as a pillow snore ever so softly. And with these sweet sounds accompanying him, Tatsumi also soon found himself joining Mayoi, drifting off into sleep.