When I wake up in the morning light,
Sunlight hurts my eyes.
Something without warning, love,
Plays heavy on my mind.
Then I look at you
And the world's all right with me.
- - -
The most difficult part about going out for drinks with Tsuzuki, in Tatsumi’s experience, is that the other seems to constantly forget his own limitations. Or rather, more likely, Tsuzuki purposely pushes himself past those limits for the sake of a good time. Whereas Tatsumi drinks just enough to get the pleasant, warm buzz in his system, Tsuzuki drinks half the bar under the table and continually insists on more. (Tatsumi recalls when the others in the office had called him an anaconda, due to his strong stomach – it was an apt enough description. He’s never seen someone hold this much liquor before without passing out.)
Most of the evening is spent with Tsuzuki trying to take over the karaoke machine, and he sings pop songs loudly and endearingly off-key until the bar closes. Tatsumi’s grateful for it. He’s growing tired with the late hour, his usual sleep cycle not accustomed to staying up past midnight, particularly not for something this social.
Tsuzuki talks happily the entire way back, and Tatsumi doesn’t entirely trust him at home alone tonight, and so opts to take him back to his own place, where it’ll be easier to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t continue drinking. In a way, it feels very much like looking after a child. A large, very powerful child, with a lopsided little grin and an unfocused gaze.
Tatsumi, who’s barely buzzed, feels lightheaded suddenly.
“Here,” Tatsumi says as he drapes a blanket over the sofa. “Come lie down. I’ll get you a glass of water so you aren’t completely useless tomorrow.”
Luckily, Tsuzuki doesn’t put up much of a fight, sitting down on the sofa and leaning back, loosening his tie. “Tatsumi-san, you’re being soooo nice! I’m fine, though, I barely even—” He pauses, wobbling somewhat. “I barely even feel it!”
“Mm, I’m sure. Come on, lie down.”
“Let me take off my shoes first… eesh…” Tsuzuki tries to just toe them off without untying them and it fails miserable. Unable to watch, Tatsumi sighs, kneels down, and starts undoing his laces for him, and Tsuzuki doesn’t complain.
No, instead, he seems to melt back into the sofa, simply allowing it to happen, and Tatsumi could shake his head but he doesn’t. He wriggles one shoe free, then reaches for the top of Tsuzuki’s sock, peeling it away from his foot. There’s black fluff from the sock stuck to his skin, mostly between his toes, and he ignores this, moving on to the other foot.
When he’s finished, he sets the shoes aside, to put them by the door in a minute or two. He glances up from his position on his knees and Tsuzuki’s looking at him so warmly that it startles him – Tsuzuki’s eyes are gazing softly at him, with warm affection held in them, and his mouth is smiling. And there’s a flush across his face that’s all too fetching on him; he thinks that only Tsuzuki could make drunkenness look so damn… adorable.
Tatsumi clears his throat.
He stands, takes the shoes to their proper place, and when he returns, Tsuzuki still hasn’t followed his instructions, and as in fact attempting to stand to do something.
“No, no, no,” Tatsumi says, taking his shoulders, easing him back down. “You aren’t going anywhere. You need to sleep.”
“You’re such a mother hen.” Tsuzuki’s voice has started to slur. It’s a wonder he hasn’t been sick yet. Maybe Tatsumi should grab him a bucket while he’s at it, just to have next to the sofa. Just in case. But softer, Tsuzuki hums, “You take such good care of me all the time. You don’t have to, but you do. You’ve always taken good care of me.”
It’s hard to remember sometimes that Tsuzuki’s older than he is, especially when he speaks this way. When he talks like this, it always sounds like no one else has ever bothered to take care of him before, and given what little he knows, that may very well be the case. It’s always bothered him that people tend to just come and go, and though he can completely understand why that is, it kills him to know that Tsuzuki deserves much better treatment than that. He deserves— well, he deserves to be cared for.
Tatsumi tries hard to do that, even when he often feels he doesn’t have the right anymore.
He makes a small sound, then says, “I’m just doing what any friend should do, Tsuzuki,” but the other man doesn’t seem convinced of that. In fact, when Tatsumi tries to urge him to lie down, Tsuzuki leans up and in and suddenly there’s lips on his own.
He returns the kiss for all of a second before he stops himself, pulling back. There’s a stiffness in his posture that wasn’t there before, and Tsuzuki’s still liquid in his hands, loose and warm. Pliant, even. He’s still looking up at Tatsumi like a man who’s never seen a sunset before and is witnessing one for the first time.
“You’ve always taken care of me,” Tsuzuki says again, “always.” Tsuzuki’s hands don’t seem to know what to do with themselves. They find Tatsumi’s arms and just hold on; that gives Tatsumi the opportunity to lay him down, finally, and he goes to pull back and then Tsuzuki’s trying to kiss him again and he stops him tenderly.
“We…” Tatsumi’s voice is thick suddenly with nerves. “You’re very drunk. It wouldn’t be a good idea.” When Tsuzuki’s face depicts more disappointment than appreciation, it tugs at his heart, and he says, “How am I supposed to take care of you, when you won’t listen to what I say? It… it would be best right now if you went to sleep. We can talk more in the morning. All right?”
Tsuzuki’s bright eyes are staring at his mouth but then he smiles again, settling back into a position that would be comfortable for him to sleep in. Tatsumi lets out a breath of air he isn’t aware he’d been holding. “You were always the smart one,” Tsuzuki speaks up again, his voice quieting as he grows more relaxed, more drowsy.
Then he half whispers, “I guess that’s part of why I love you so much.”
And that’s… that’s too honest, right now. Tatsumi feels uncomfortable with that sort of confession, especially given Tsuzuki’s current state of mind, but he replays the statement in his head regardless, wishing it could have been said much, much sooner than that. The words I love you too are on the tip of his tongue but never leave his mouth. He just prays that Tsuzuki knows they’re true. In addition to being cared for, Tsuzuki deserves so much to be loved – and he tries to provide that, too.
“You won’t remember you said that to me tomorrow.”
Tsuzuki grins, and his laugh is watery, and it’s only now he’s noticing tears in his eyes. The last thing he wants right now is for Tsuzuki to cry. “No, I guess I won’t.”
Unable to help himself, Tatsumi reaches over, brushing the mess of brunette fringe from Tsuzuki’s face, and he traces his fingers down over his jaw, a thumb swiping over a cheekbone lovingly. Tsuzuki has such a gentle face, too young for his years, and his expression is so soft, the heat of alcohol still trapped in his full cheeks.
“Please sleep well,” Tatsumi tells him as Tsuzuki’s eyelids grow heavier. He adds, “I’m just down the hall… if you need anything.”
Tsuzuki’s asleep by the time Tatsumi is in bed. He can still feel the warmth of Tsuzuki’s cheek in his hand, can still feel his lips on his mouth. It makes his heart beat in his ears and he stares up at the ceiling for a very long time before he’s finally able to fall asleep himself.