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Three Chimes, Two Choices, One Life

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~*~

 

Christmas was not a time of the year that Yuu generally cared for. Many awful things have happened to him during the holiday and it never brought him any good cheer to be reminded of them every year. Still his ‘family’ seemed to be in the mind that he needed to spend the day with them— as though he were obliged to— and frankly, Yuu couldn’t give an ass fuck about it. He could see them every other day of the week and it wasn’t like they’d miss him too terribly for skipping one night in favor of doing his very important job. A job he'd been quite busy in for the past couple of weeks. He was chasing down an infamous criminal that had slipped through his fingers one too many times to count and Yuu wasn’t going to let him escape again. He was so close.

So yeah, fuck Christmas. It could wait another year, unlike this case. Bad criminals don’t just stop being bad for one day.

Of course, no one else seemed to share the same sentiment as he ignored another text about attending the Christmas dinner for the seventh time today. Why everyone else found it normal to be suddenly all gift-giving and sweet for one day still boggled Yuu’s mind. If people could just be this kind all year round, then wouldn’t that bring more peace worldwide?

Yuu shook his head. People, sometimes.

Fortunately, there was still one acquaintance who stayed normal and never seemed to have other plans whenever Yuu got bored over the past six months, since this... thing...between them began. Yuu could always send him a briefly worded message and find him completely available, such as:

Your place, 10pm. And don’t you dare bring out those cuffs again or I will literally put you through hell.

Which was one of Yuu’s favorites as when he arrived, Mika had actually handcuffed himself to the bed post instead and let Yuu ride him till his thighs could no longer hold his weight.

That was a very satisfying night indeed.

He checked the clock now, hung conveniently above the door to his office, and put his sexual fantasies about a certain blond out of his mind for the time being.

Perhaps he'd send a text tonight. It had been nearly a week since he'd last taken Mika to bed, after all. It couldn't look that needy to appear interested in his cock again so soon, could it?

He reached for another stack of evidences while he considered it. Yuu still had a massive amount of paperwork to do after he finished trying to solve this puzzle piece of a mystery crime. His friends have all said his job would be the death of him one day and Yuu couldn’t fault them for such reasoning. He was starting to think the same too as he stared at the mountains of paperwork on his desk, waiting to be signed and written.

"Yuu-kun! How are you?"

He looked up to see a grinning Yoichi hovering in his doorway, a bright green wool cap on his head and his mittens dropping flakes of snow all over the floor when he clapped them together. "Yoichi?" he said confused. "Why are you...here?"

"Merry Christmas, of course!" he said with a cute smile on his face. Dipping into his pocket, he curled his fist around something before firing it at the raven head. A small puff of snow exploded on Yuu’s shoulder. Yelping, he glanced down at it with a frown.

"Christmas," Yuu repeated grouchily, brushing the melting flakes off his jacket. "What is so happy about it?"

"What is so miserable about it?" Yoichi returned with a raised brow.

“Everything. The music, the people, the...memories.”

Yoichi sighed, “Yuu-kun, it’s been ten years.”

“And it still hurts,” Yuu shot him a look as if daring his friend to counter him.

“Well,” Yoichi began hesitantly, “...you have to admit that the food tastes better around this time of year.” The change to something lighthearted almost a brought a smile to Yuu’s face.

“I guess. I mean, since I’ve only ever eaten the telephone pole’s cooking.”

“Don’t be an ass.” Yoichi laughed.

He smiled despite himself. "Who, me?"

"Yes, you, you miserable bastard." Yoichi grinned at him again. "All you do is sit in this office and get stressed over a crime that has gone cold for many years now, and then either laze around in that gorgeous flat of yours or go out to those sweaty clubs you like hanging out in."

Yuu raised an eyebrow. "It's like you've been following me around again. Have you reverted back to your stalking habits, Yoichi?" he said jokingly, "And you shouldn't mention clubs and sweaty boys to me during working hours, or I'll never get through these memos." He pouted at the stack beside him.

A blush took over Yoichi’s cheeks at the memory of his crush over Yuu, “Anyway,” he forged on, “do you really meet anyone you...like at those places?"

"Not really the object of the exercise," Yuu muttered. He rubbed his temples.

He sighed, "Oh I see. You don't need to tell me. I’ve experienced a few clubs along with Shihou before we got together." He shook his head before casting the green-eyed male another sly glance. "What about Mika?"

He met his friend’s gaze with what he hoped was a death glare. "What about him?"

"I heard from a little bird that you've been spotted having a glass or three with him." Yoichi smiled knowingly. "Not bad, Yuu-kun. He's a really good guy."

"I hate your bird."

"He's quite fit too. And very gorgeous."

Yuu deepened his glare.

"Why don't you two come to Christmas dinner on Sunday?" Yoichi continued, ignoring his silent raging.

Yuu didn't even hesitate. "No." He reached for his pen but the brunet wouldn't be put off so easily.

"You need to spend more time with your family, Yuu-kun! Mitsuba says you haven't been over in weeks, and I'm not sure any of the kids and I have seen you since Kota’s birthday. And you've certainly never spent Christmas with us, not even last year—"

"—when I also successfully fought off your advances." Yuu sighed, folding his arms over his chest. He wasn't going to get any job done with Yoichi here.

"And did what instead, exactly?" His friend gave him a challenging look.

He thought back. Nothing memorable, really. After donating a large sum for the kids in the orphanage, he’d feigned an engagement with Narumi and headed home, opening a bottle of alcohol and watching the lights of the city from his living room window.

"None of your business," he instead said.

Yoichi tutted at him. "You can't go clubbing at Christmas, Yuu-kun." His lips quirked. "You'd only pick up other miseries like yourself, with no family or friends to love them."

He glared.

"But unlike those miserable sods, you do have family and friends who love you but you’re not taking advantage of that! Come to dinner with us this year!" Yoichi continued like he wasn’t bothered by Yuu’s reaction. "It’ll just be like old times, back in college. We’ll all be eating Shihou’s wonderful cooking, have a few silly games planned by Shinoa and Mitsuba, and this time, we’ll be exchanging gifts to each other. And of course, Kota will be making his famous dessert, gingerbread men dipped in apple juice and dropped all over the kitchen floor."

His smile turned fond, and Yuu found himself reminiscing the past a little as well.

"And how is that little devil?" he finally ventured.

Suddenly, Yoichi’s grin faded. "He's fine, Yuu-kun," he said, his voice much less warm. "He's a strong child. He's going to be just fine."

He looked away amid the uncomfortable silence that followed, not willing to let his friend make him feel guilty for not checking up on Kota recently. He’d just been really busy with this case lately since they'd finally found a clue after years of searching. Couldn’t anyone understand that? "Well." He cleared his throat. "Good, then."

"Oh, Yuu-kun, come for dinner on Sunday! It'll do you good to see your family. What has Christmas ever done to you?"

His face immediately closed off.

"Oh. God, I didn't mean–"

"Just,” Yuu snapped before Yoichi blathered on any further, “keep Christmas in your way, and let me keep it in mine."

Yoichi sent his friend a sympathetic look, but eventually conceded.

"The invitation is always open," The brunet said just as he reached the door, forcing a smile. "Merry Christmas."

 

~*~

 

Yuu found himself increasingly pissed once Yoichi left. Seriously, why did everyone feel the need to surround themselves with distant relatives and fake associates just to prove themselves loyal? And spend more time with his family? Was he joking? He'd managed to rebuild a new orphanage for the growing kids and even paid for some of their tuitions to school. He was more than going out of his way to make sure those kids led a good life ahead of them.

What more did they want from him?

But if his friend and the rest of them kept being insistent about it, maybe spending the holiday where "Christmas cheer" would not be on the agenda would do him some good, away from all the stress and invites. Yuu thought for a moment, drumming his fingers on his desk, before he finally brightened.

Yuu wasted no time in sending an email to Crowley Eusford from France. He had a team there that was top notch in catching criminals who’d slipped under the radar for far too long and Crowley owed him a favor. He also had really handy technology that Yuu was dying to get his hands on. From what he'd heard, Christmas wasn't much of an event over there. It was perfect.

He felt slightly better after that, but still restless. He could feel the knots Yoichi had sparked forming at the base of his gut, and decided he deserved a night off from all the expectations others seemed to enjoy putting on him.

He texted Mika.

Two days before Christmas, the blond probably was swarmed with responsibilities to help organize the dinner in the orphanage but he'd no doubt make room in his evening for Yuu.

Yuu leaned back in his office chair, already anticipating how good it was going to feel not to have anyone ask him for anything. Mika was always satisfied with keeping the talk to a minimum, pounding Yuu into oblivion until his worries melted away.

 

~*~

 

He left his office three-quarters of an hour after most of his other co-workers left, purposefully trying to avoid the crowds. It wasn't enough to escape the garish booth set up near the exit, though. He sighed, there didn't seem to be any way around it.

"Hey, Yuu! Over here!"

He lowered his head and tried to forge past, but whoever had called him was having none of it. Damn them.

"Oi! Don’t think you can get away from me that easily." Narumi Makoto smiled broadly as he blocked Yuu’s way to the exit. "Are you in a hurry?"

"Yes, actually, I am."

“Well then before you leave, why don’t you donate some money to the families of fallen soldiers in the last war.” Narumi explained, dragging Yuu towards his booth area where his boyfriend, Shuusaku, sat.

Yuu sighed, trying to extract himself from the brunet’s grip. “Narumi, as much as I would love to, I can’t.”

His friend turned to him with a pout, “Why not?”

“I’m using all the resources I have for my very important case which all of you seem to be forgetting nowadays. Equipments don’t come cheap, you know? Not to mention I'm also paying for certain kids their educational tuition.”

Shusaku narrowed his eyes as he leaned over the booth table, “The lives of families who have lost someone in the war are very important too.”

“Oh I’m sure they are, but we’re in a different level of importance. If I catch this bad guy, then there’d be less families mourning over dead loved ones. Now if you’ll excuse me--”

“Come on, Yuu.” Narumi pulled him back before he could leave and Yuu just about smothered an annoyed groan. “What’s a little yen lost for the welfare of these families? Where’s your Christmas Spirit?”

Yuu was starting to get irritated with all this Christmas shit. He’d had enough of it today with Yoichi and Yuu wasn’t going to let it sour further with these two. He snatched his arm away from Narumi and finally glared down at them, showing how he wasn’t in any giving mood right now.

“I’ll donate when I can and want to, Narumi, not when I’m forced to do it for a stinking Christmas stint. I think it’s a whole load of crap for you to be doing this only at Christmas so you could take advantage of those weak hearted enough to gladly give their money away as a compassionate farce, but I’m not! So ask me again when this donation of yours doesn’t have anything to do with your goddamn Christmas spirit. Goodnight!” Yuu huffed, turning away from their shocked expressions as he finally made his way outside the cold weather.

With a relieved and irritated breath, Yuu hailed a taxi. It was a good thing he’d be meeting Mika in a while or else he’d have to suffer through these negative emotions swirling inside him with no outlet at all.

 

~*~

 

After the day he'd had, Yuu was feeling much more irate than playful, but he still looked forward to putting that agitation towards a really satisfying fuck. Mika was always good for that, along with his many likeable attributes, and the best part about him was that, unlike everyone else in Yuu's life, —especially at this god forsaken time of the year— Mika never asked for anything in return. He knew the deal. That was why they suited each other so well.

"Hey," Mika said, just entering the living room with a drink in hand and a grin on his face as Yuu walked through the unlocked door. Mika had been expecting him, of course.

"Hey," Yuu smiled with a roll his eyes.

Mika raised his glass. "Drink?"

Yuu huffed. He strode across the room in seconds, plucking the short glass from Mika's hand and draining the contents. It prickled down his throat and sent a blast of heat through his stomach, but on the other side of that, he felt fantastic. With a growl, he threw the glass onto the sofa pillows and pushed Mika up against the wall. He devoured his mouth, his fingers already grabbing at the hem of Mika's t-shirt to rip it over his head.

"Oh," Mika gasped against Yuu's lips. "No small talk, I'm used to that." He grinned, sucking Yuu's bottom lip between his before plunging his tongue deep inside Yuu's wet heat.

Yuu breathed between kisses. "I've been a very good boy this year, and I deserve some cock for Christmas."

Mika groaned, hooking his fingers in Yuu's belt hoops and slamming their hips together. "Mine, I hope."

Yuu pulled Mika's shirt off with a snort. "Yours will do."

They stumbled back to the bedroom in between biting kisses, already tangled in each other and shedding their clothing. God, Mika lit Yuu up like no one else, quickly and completely. He pushed the thought aside, though, focusing on the physical sensations. It didn't matter that it was Mika, Yuu told himself. It could be anyone's mouth that knew just how to melt Yuu the fastest, anyone's hands smoothing up his back.

Anyone's thick, oiled cock nudging at him.

Yuu's eyes fluttered closed at the sensation, and he dropped down to his elbows, opening himself further. Mika's small grunt behind him told him just how he must look, barely through the entrance of his house but already naked and spread out on Mika's bed, his ass raised and his hole flexing in anticipation.

"This my Christmas gift?" murmured Mika. His fingers spread out over Yuu's lower back as his thumb dipped down to circle Yuu's rim. His cock still pressed up against Yuu's balls and into his cleft, letting Yuu know it was still there and waiting, but he let his thumb push in first, twisting it roughly until Yuu's back arched and he moaned.

Yuu tried to come up with a retort to Mika's remark, but all he could do was let out a breathless, "Obviously," before grunting again at the feel of Mika opening him up.

Mika's low, easy laugh slid up Yuu's spine. "Lucky me." He withdrew his thumb but kept massaging Yuu's hole, not letting it close back up. He moved his dick up higher and worked it in tandem with his thumb, holding the rim open while beginning to press his cock inside.

They were breathless, and Yuu knew why: they both loved this part, that much he'd figured out over the past few months. The slamming that would come later, the riding, the long, sure strokes in and out – those were incredible too. But it was this, the very beginning of penetration, that kept Yuu coming back for more. He'd never been with a man who took his time like Mika did, working Yuu over so thoroughly he could almost come before Mika was even fully inside, relying only on the momentary shock of deep penetration to bring him back down to a manageable level of arousal.

Mika's fingers dug into Yuu's asscheek as his oiled thumb slid around his pink rim, over and over again, while the head of his cock began to push inside. He paused to curl his thumb in even more, holding Yuu open for him. His breathing sped up, and Yuu couldn't help but turn to glance over his shoulder. He shouldn't, he knew; there was a reason he hadn't let Mika fuck him face to face since that very first night, when he'd come completely undone from the look in Mika's eyes, but every so often, Yuu couldn't help himself. The way Mika looked at him, especially when his gaze was riveted to Yuu's body like this, always sent a shudder through Yuu.

He looked back and caught Mika's eye. A slow smile curved over Mika's lips, his eyes hooded and his face flushed. "Yuu-chan," he murmured. "If you want to watch me, you'll have to turn over." His voice was low and teasing, but his eyes were hard. Mika hadn't failed to notice that Yuu would only agree to hands and knees lately.

"Just get on with it," he snapped, but it came out in a breathless rush. With a low laugh, Mika slid in further. He wasn't the biggest man Yuu had ever been with, but he was the biggest that still felt good. Too big was not actually a bonus, he'd discovered on a few occasions. Mika's cock was just fat enough to stretch him beautifully, giving Yuu the raw burn he needed but also the pleasure, not pain, of that full pressure inside him. Maybe he could thank the Russian in him for that.

Mika's pace was agonising as he inched his cock inside, pausing to pour more oil on the rest of it and run his hands up Yuu's smooth back. Yuu gasped into the pillows with each passing moment, letting the warm haze spread over him. "All right?" Mika whispered over his back, and Yuu realised he'd been making more noise than he thought he had.

"Of course," he muttered, trying to control himself. It was just a fuck. God. Why did his body always have to betray him so much when Mika was around?

"Too slow?" But there was no genuine concern in Mika's voice, only amusement.

Yuu rotated his hips, trying to get Mika deeper.

"Ah-ah," Mika tutted. "My bed, my rules."

Yuu had to bite down on a long moan.

All of a sudden, Mika thrust the rest of the way in, furiously hard and nearly knocking Yuu forward into the headboard. He shouted and put his hand out, absorbing the motion. Mika's hands gripped his hips as he ground his pelvis in tight against Yuu's ass. The burst of fullness sent waves through Yuu's body, and he tried to control the gasps of pure, pulsing pleasure escaping his mouth. Mika spread his hands over Yuu's ass cheeks, both thumbs now dipping into his cleft alongside Mika's cock, and the additional stretch of it made Yuu's eyes roll back in his head.

"Fuck," he muttered, almost sobbing. "Fuck. Just like that."

"Yeah?" Mika withdrew slowly before slamming in again. "Spread your legs."

Yuu obeyed, inching his knees further apart to give Mika even more access to his body, shameless in his desire. His body was on fire, his cock aching and his ass desperate for a solid pounding. "More," he moaned, clawing at the sheets, and Mika's answering grunt told him they were both losing control quickly.

Mika established a rough rhythm, sliding out and then shoving back in as hard as he could, hips banging onto flushed cheeks. His strong hands held Yuu down until Yuu dropped to his stomach, his cock frotting the sheets and Mika lowering himself over him. He felt Mika's hard chest smoothing over his shoulder blades, and Yuu shivered. "That's it, Yuu-chan," whispered Mika, his voice low at Yuu's neck. "Stay down for me. Gonna fuck you till you can't walk."

A moan tore from Yuu's throat, and his cock stiffened and burst instantly, rubbing into the new sheets and making Yuu's head spin. He mashed his face into the pillow, panting, as the thickening of Mika's cock sent a new wave of sparks through him. "Mika," he begged, curling his feet around Mika's ankles. "Come on. Fuck me."

Mika's pace turned furious, his fingers bruising Yuu’s hips where he held on. "Drive me... crazy..." he murmured into Yuu's shoulder blades, pistoning his hips faster, erection pounding that clenching hole. With a strangled moan, he went still inside Yuu, the steady pulses of his cock pushing against Yuu's walls. The slickness of Mika's come filled him and began to seep around the sides of his softening length. Yuu clenched, holding him inside a moment longer, drawing out the moment for reasons he couldn't explain.

"Yuu-chan," whispered Mika, "God, please..."

He trailed off, his breath hot over Yuu's back as his cock pulsed one more time, but Yuu stiffened. There was something in Mika's tone that had gone beyond orgasm-fuelled babble. Still, Yuu was feeling lazy and sated and didn't want to rush off just yet. He'd give himself a moment to pull it together, then leave like he usually did.

They both fell to the bed, sweaty and out of breath, and Mika carefully pulled out of him. Yuu felt empty afterwards, his hole gaping and wet and he heard Mika moan quietly. "God, you're good," he muttered, but that one Yuu was meant to hear, because when he glanced over, Mika was grinning at him.

"Yes, well." Yuu huffed, a dazed look in his eyes. "Least I can do. Merry Christmas, and all that." A smile tugged at the corners of his lips, but he pushed it down.

"Hey, speaking of that." Mika rolled onto his stomach, dragging the blanket up to his waist and propping himself up on his elbows. He gave Yuu a gentle, almost shy smile as he wet his lips. Yuu turned his head on the pillow to face him. "I..." He hesitated, looking away for a moment before steeling his jaw and regarding Yuu again. "I wanted to ask you something."

Alarm bells rang in Yuu's head, but Mika didn't let him protest. Before Yuu could say a word, Mika leaned down and kissed him.

"Don't run off yet," he teased. "Just hear me out." He nipped at Yuu's swollen lips again, and Yuu had to stop himself from sliding his arm around Mika's neck and drawing him down to deepen the kiss. Mika was trying to keep his tone light, that was obvious, but when he pulled back to look in Yuu's eyes, his face was shadowed.

Yuu sighed, letting his arms fall dramatically to each side. "Fine," he said with a pout, "but if we're having some kind of Talk, then the least you can do is get me some alcohol."

With a grin, Mika swung his legs around and pushed himself off the bed. "Done. Don't you dare fucking leave while I'm gone." He disappeared out the bedroom door, naked and completely careless about it. Yuu tried not to notice, shaking his head across the pillow.

"You should have tied me down first then," he called. He was feeling rather relaxed and playful, Mika's big, impending announcement notwithstanding. Well, it wouldn't be anything Yuu couldn't handle.

"Thought you didn’t want the cuffs anymore," Mika called back, as Yuu heard a cork pop. "At least, that's what you keep telling me."

"Well, no wonder there’s been a serious lack of bondage play in our trysts. You should know when I’m actually saying no or when my no’s actually mean yes, Mika."

Mika laughed, full and rich, appearing in the doorway again a few seconds later with two glasses. "I’ll remember that next time,” he said, handing one to Yuu as he sat up.

Sliding back into bed, Mika gathered the sheets around him and leaned back against the headboard, one knee raised. He swirled his own glass with his wrist resting on that knee, his smile fading as he gazed at the sloshing liquid. Finally, he took a long drink. It stained his mouth a deep red, and Yuu's eyes were immediately drawn to it. Mika glanced over and caught him looking. His eyes softened and he seemed to relax. He reached out with his other hand and brushed Yuu's hair from his forehead. "Spend Christmas with me," he said quietly, his fingers lingering against Yuu's temple.

Yuu's stomach clenched a little at the words, but he pushed that down and scoffed, taking a sip of wine. "Not you, too," he muttered. "You just got your Christmas present," he added lightly, ducking his head away from Mika's touch. Mika's hand stayed suspended in the air a bit too long before he dropped it.

"I– yeah. Thank you," said Mika, giving Yuu a shy smile. "But I meant... on Sunday. At the orphanage. Anyone's welcome; there's always a big crowd. I just thought... you might like to come with me."

"Mika. I have work."

The shy look turned to a flash of annoyance. Mika's jaw twitched. "I know," he said. “But that can obviously wait for another day—”

"Look." Yuu took another gulp before setting the glass on the nightstand and climbing out of the bed. His leg muscles protested a little bit, and a shiver went through him at the ache in his body and the fact that he hadn't cleaned up yet, but there was time for that at home. He had to get out of there, and fast. Mika's kicked puppy look was affecting him rather more than he liked to admit.

"This was fun." He waved at the bed. "I like what you can do with that cock of yours, obviously, or I wouldn't put up with your shit alcohol and terrible conversation." He flashed Mika a joking smile, but he had to work at it. His stomach was in knots.

"Yuu-chan—"

"But I don't really have time for this whole family gathering thing, okay?" He tried to keep his hands from shaking as he stumbled into his pants, zipping them and reaching down to the floor for his discarded shirt, throwing it over his shoulders. Ignoring the sticky feeling in his ass and thighs, Yuu didn't bother with the buttons, not trusting himself to get them through the holes anyway. "Unless you honestly want the children to ask what the nature of our relationship is." He raised an eyebrow, feeling uncomfortable asking.

Mika had been staring down at his hands, his shoulders hunched, but he looked up at that. "What is the nature of our relationship?"

Yuu glared at him, giving a sigh. "Don't do that."

"What?" His voice rose. "What are you so afraid to admit?"

"I’m not afraid! I just don’t have the time to be in a committed relationship but the kids and the rest of my friends won’t see that when we go to that dinner together.”

“Like the fucking every once in awhile wasn’t obvious enough?"

Yuu gritted his teeth. He should have known Mika’s feelings would get in the way. He should have known . But he continued pursuing the damn handsome bastard anyway.

"Look, Shindo." Mika flinched at the name, the distance it evoked, but Yuu only narrowed his eyes and forced himself to shut down the emotions roiling through his body. There was no way he and Mika could ever be more to each other than a fuck every few weeks. Surely he knew that much. He and Mika weren't ready for such a thing, or if they could even be more than anything to each other. He didn't want to be in a relationship that was doomed from the beginning. Might as well dissuade Mika now. "Yes, we fuck, okay? Your cock gets me off, and I like getting off with strong men. Don't tell me you thought you were the only one?" He folded his arms, sighing again. He tried to ignore the tiny bit of guilt rolling in his stomach at the white lie.

Mika's stricken expression drove straight through Yuu's chest, but he fought it off.

"I've business in France this week, and after that—"

Mika's face twisted. "Eusford? Crowley Eusford?" He looked away for a moment, taking a deep breath, but when he turned back to Yuu, his expression was one of barely contained anger. "That's who you're fucking?"

"No!" Yuu caught himself. "Maybe. It's not your business. Like I was saying, after that, I might have a party with my co-workers at New Year’s if all goes well," he continued, padding to the door in his bare feet. "Nothing says Happy Holidays like capturing rouge escapees with Crowley’s new tech. I'll text when I get back if I'm up for a tumble." He turned to go.

"Yuu."

He stopped, his fingers clenched around the doorframe. Mika only ever called him that when he was being dead serious at Yuu. 

Mika wasn't looking at him, but his voice was steady. "If that's the way you really feel, then do me a favour and don't text when you get back." He raised his eyes only on that last word, piercing Yuu with a furious, blue glare.

Yuu momentarily found himself caught up in that gaze, Mika's bright eyes seeming to see right through him. He swallowed hard, but then shrugged. "Suit yourself," he called over his shoulder. He headed for the exit, grabbing the rest of his scattered clothing along the way, and left before Mika tried to draw this out any further.

 

~*~

 

Yuu stepped on the threshold of his flat on shaky legs, catching himself on the back of the sofa when he walked further in. He stood in his living room for a few moments, letting the dark and the quiet wash over him and calm him down.

Mika was being completely unreasonable, but he wasn't the first man to get more attached than Yuu wanted. He took a deep breath and nodded, as if to convince himself of that. Best to let it go, before someone got hurt. Clearly, Mika was more invested in their little after hours rendezvous than Yuu was, so Yuu should do him a favour and stay away until Mika got over him. He pulled his fluttering shirt closed around his chest and clicked on a switch to light the room.

His flat seemed colder than usual, though, and even with the lights on, it seemed... dark. The big, open plan of the architecture, something he always loved about the place, now seemed hollow and empty. His high ceilings loomed over him, the curtains casting sinister shadows across the stark tiled floor. For a brief moment, he felt a surge of sorrow so powerful it nearly sent him staggering back onto the sofa. He caught himself in time, though, the backs of his knees hitting it before he righted himself.

He made his way to his bedroom and adjacent bath, rubbing at his eyes. "Mika, you idiot."

He turned the shower on extra hot and stepped under the spray, running his hands over his face and up through his silken, raven hair. Better. Okay. The steam filled him and he washed away the last traces of Mika from his body. Fingering himself clean had become somewhat a mechanical duty after every tryst with Mika, willing himself not to feel anything as Mika’s essence dribbled down his legs.

He could handle not being able to call on Mika for a fuck whenever he wanted to. It wasn't a big deal. It was probably best he was home before midnight for once. He'd get a good night's sleep and wake up refreshed.

Shutting the tap off, he grabbed a green towel and stepped into the steam-filled room. His skin was pink and his head throbbed a little bit. God, that water really had been hot. He made to clear a spot on the mirror with a spare washcloth, but the steam wouldn't be wiped away. Frowning, he rubbed harder. As he did, the mirror began to ripple.

It was a tiny movement at first, the steam swaying like gentle waves. A shape began to form. He still couldn't see his reflection, but out of the wisps of steam, another face emerged. It looked like…

Yuu's jaw dropped, and he jumped back, slamming his elbow into the towel rack. "Fuck," he muttered, turning to check the mirror again. The face was gone, and the steam had started to fade away. It was just a normal mirror.

He blinked a few more times before towelling himself off, grabbing a pair of pyjama bottoms hanging on a hook from that morning and stepping into them. Great. Mika had made him go mad. He ran the towel through his hair, shook his head as if to clear it, and stepped into his bedroom.

Sitting in the armchair across from his bed was the ghost of Akane Hyakuya.

Yuu sucked in a breath, paused, then promptly cried out in fear, back-pedalling so fast his foot hit the swinging door. "Ow. Mother fucking shit!" He jumped around a bit before he froze, his pain taking a back seat as his imagination from earlier...became an actual reality.

Akane smiled serenely at him, “Hello, Yuu. How are you?”

Only a bunch of garbled words left his lips in response. Yuu stood stock still, frightened and unnerved by this apparition of his dear deceased friend. She looked like she never aged past twelve which was the age he’d last seen her as. Her appearance was still beautiful, still looking like a mother despite her very youthful features.

But this was impossible. How was she here now?!

"Are you surprised to see me?"

"W-Well, uh…a bit." That was an understatement. He didn’t understand why her ghost was suddenly haunting him now. Had he really gone insane? Did whatever alcohol Mika had given him cause hallucinations? Because if it did, Yuu was hoping the blond was getting the scare of his life right the fuck now.

When Akane continued to sit there and... not disappear despite how many times Yuu pinched himself in the arm, he was forced to acknowledge that Akane was actually here and didn't look to be leaving any time soon.

“You look good, Yuu. Come, sit over here.” She then said, continuing to smile that special smile of hers like she knew something. Yuu couldn’t refuse her, even after death.

He placed a foot forward, and another, until he was just standing across from her— looking so small in his armchair while he practically towered over her now— before he settled on the edge of his bed.

The silence afterwards felt like it was eating him up inside so Yuu tried easing it by getting some answers.

“I-I...um, A-Akane, how—? That is, uh, why—,” He was saved from further embarrassment when Akane giggled and gestured for him to stop.

“Oh, you’re still the same, Yuu. My cute, awkward, idiotic, Yuuichirou. I’m so very glad to see you again. But I’m afraid I’m not here just to tell you how much I’ve missed you.”

“You too, Akane.” Yuu couldn’t help but say, gazing at her with so much guilt and longing in his eyes.

The girl only sent him another smile before her face morphed into one of seriousness. “I’m here to ensure that you do not fall down the wrong path in your life.”

Yuu’s brows drew together, “What do you mean?”

“I mean to say that if you don’t stop going down the path you’re walking into now, you’ll live a life of tragedy and loneliness until you die unloved and forgotten and the afterlife will have no care for you as well.”

Yuu scoffed, finding that a little farfetched, “What are you talking about, Akane? I have money of my own, I have a career I’m respected for, I have a flat people envy...uh I have—”

“Things!” Akane suddenly cut in, her face triumphant. “Congratulations, Yuu. You have things."

"Well, what else is there?" He knew he shouldn't have said it as soon as the words were out of his mouth. She looked like she was waiting for that.

“Family. Friends. Love .” She emphasized on that one, leaning forwards in her chair a bit. “You’ve been throwing all that away left and right because of your idiotic and self-centered reasons.”

“T-That’s not true!” Yuu muttered. “You don’t know what I’ve been doing— what I’ve tried to do for you—”

“By pushing the people who love you away from you? Yuu, this revenge of yours has to stop; it’s not bringing you, or anyone, any good.”

“I don’t care about me!” Yuu shouted, standing abruptly with his hands clenching into fists, “He killed you, Akane. He was meant to go after me but instead, you— and I couldn’t—,” The memories of that day came haunting back to him— the ash that rained down on them, the crumbling ceiling of the orphanage, the smell of burning flesh— along with the feeling of immense guilt, sorrow, and shame. “What if he comes after the rest of them? What if he comes after me but someone else takes my place again and I couldn’t save them? I can’t...I can’t let it happen a second time!”

Akane was standing now too, but she looked much older, more beautiful and wiser, like she would have been had she still been alive and it pained Yuu to see her.

“Be that as it may, I cannot allow you to continue on this self-destructing path of yours, Yuu. Not only will you be unable to save yourself but the people you love dearly as well.”

Yuu’s heart raced. He wanted to refute her, defend himself with something, but he couldn’t.

"What did you do just today? Turned away four different people who tried to show you kindness."

"Kindness? Is that what they were offering?" He sneered, and immediately felt guilt well up in his chest. "Those people were a bother." But his voice was trembling. Yoichi wasn't anything like that, he knew, and Narumi and Shuusaku were just doing their jobs. Mika... Yuu swallowed. He couldn't even think about Mika right now.

Akane went quiet, retreating back to the chair once more. "Yuu," she said softly, drawing Yuu's gaze. "Listen to yourself."

Yuu’s blood was pounding through his ears and his palms felt sticky. "I'd like you to leave now," he whispered, even though he wanted her to stay and never leave him again.

"In a moment. But first, I'm here to tell you something."

"I think you've told me a lot for one night."

Her mouth twitched a little but continued. "You will be visited by three spirits."

Yuu's head jerked up. "What? Oh, god. I'd rather not."

“Hush, Yuu.” Akane said, "Without them, you will continue on this path you're on, forging more chains of misery and agony every single day. Expect the first when the clock strikes one. The second will come at two, and the third at three."

"So this is how I'm to spend my Christmas— waiting for ghosts to terrorise me? Can I at least have them all at once and get it over with?"

"Did you have other plans?" She asked dryly, raising an eyebrow at him.

"Oh, that's cheap. Mika, Yoichi and those two aren't enough, I see; now you're going to lecture me on Christmas spirit too?"

She smirked, a spark of her old mischievousness shining through, "No, that's for my colleagues to do."

Silence filled the room for a long moment as Yuu tried to think of what to say. Finally, he wet his lips, staring down at his hands. "Why are you doing this?" he murmured. "Have I not come to your grave often enough? I'll do more. It's not that I don't want to. It's just..." He took a deep breath. "It's hard," he whispered at last. "I miss you."

When he gathered the courage to glance up again, Akane's face was kind and gentle, but there was also a sadness about her. "Learn from the spirits," she murmured, her voice soft and warm. "Change your path, Yuu, before it's too late."

With that, she faded away right before Yuu's eyes.

 

~*~

 

Yuu stood in his bedroom for a long moment after Akane disappeared. He only realised his hands were shaking when he finally moved to pull the covers back on his bed.

He climbed in, rubbing his hands over his face and trying to free his mind of Akane's lingering image, even more persuasive than she'd been in life. Seeing her again after ten years was both a wonderful and a chilling thing. Yuu settled himself on his back, gazing up at the dark ceiling. In life, Akane had always known when Yuu needed her help or guidance. Was that what this was? The thought of Akane watching over him, judging his life choices and finding them lacking…

Yuu's heart grew heavy. Akane was always one of the people he admired and looked up to for her opinions. Death had not altered that, it seemed.

He closed his eyes, suddenly feeling exhausted by his day. He barely noticed the distant chiming of a clock.

Next thing he knew, he was jolted awake.

The chiming grew louder, as if the clock itself were approaching his bedroom door. There was an old grandfather clock out in the living room, but it never actually made any noise. Yuu rubbed his eyes and swung his legs over the side of the bed, padding towards the door. As an afterthought, he stopped to grab a shirt from his cabinet. It might not do to face this ghost in nothing but an old pair of pyjama bottoms.

He looked at what he'd grabbed and sighed. It was Mika's, dammit. One of his old v-neck shirts that he always wore with jeans when he came over. Why Yuu hadn't chucked it away before now, he'd never know. The material was soft between his fingers, though. God, and it smelled like Mika. He hesitated.

The chime struck again. Yuu had lost count, but it seemed like the thing had been going on for about twenty-five rings at that point. Damn. He pulled the shirt on and headed for the bedroom door.

Before he reached it, the chiming stopped, and a bright burst of light filled the room.

It disappeared just as quickly as it had come, leaving Yuu blinking stupidly as bursts of black and white swirled in his vision. When it cleared, a young woman was standing near the window.

"Are you trying to blind me?" But Yuu was more incredulous than pissed off. So, Akane wasn't joking. This must be the promised ghost. She was small, like a child’s height, slender and delicate. She wore an equally wispy nightdress, sleeveless but falling past her ankles in flowing panels of fabric. She was barefoot, and her long, dark hair was loose around her shoulders. She was a bit adorable looking, although also completely transparent, glowing a faint green-grey in the night air.

"No," she said simply, her voice a bit low and husky.

Yuu tried another tack. "Okay. So. Are you the spirit Akane told me to expect?"

"I am."

"Okay... and who are you?"

She spread her arms. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past."

Yuu stared at her. He'd never heard of such a thing. "A little girl...is the ghost of Christmas Past?"

She raised a brow, looking amused, “I am actually a boy. You can call me Asuramaru since Ghost of Christmas Past is pretty long.”

Yuu never would have guessed what with her— his— appearance.

He leaned his hip against the cabinet. "All right. So...what? Are we just going to sit here and talk about my past?"

Asuramaru’s eyes glittered, “Something of the sort.” He lifted his chin. "I know all about you, Yuuichirou Amane."

That was unsettling.

The ghost stepped towards him with an arm outstretched. "Come with me."

He hesitated, but then he thought of Akane. She had never put Yuu in harm's way before. She was one of the people Yuu had been able to trust easily at first meeting. Stepping forward, he took the spirit's icy hand. When he led him to the window, though, Yuu stopped. "Did Akane tell you that I can fly? Because I can't."

"You are safe with me," Asuramaru said in answer, nodding down at their hands.

Yuu considered his options. There was still a possibility that he was hallucinating this whole thing after Mika's terrible alcohol, so what difference did it make?

 

~*~

 

Yuu put a hand over his stomach as they stopped swirling through the air.

"Don't do that," he gritted, but the ghost only gave him that same serene smile.

When he was able to focus, he found them high in a corner of a well lit room at his old home before the orphanage, the Amane residence. Yuu sucked in a breath, not having been here in a long time after his parents tried to kill him when he was a child.

However, as he looked at his parents now, and the Christmas decorations around the room, it seemed times were still happy and innocent, not the lonely and scary reality that he remembered.

A walking three-year old Yuuichirou, came into the scene, his emerald eyes bright and cheeks flushed with happiness. Yuu wondered what his younger self was so happy about until he saw the gifts piled under a Christmas tree. His small counterpart immediately ran to the presents and tried opening them until someone caught the child around the waist.

“Uh uh, Yuu. What did we say about opening gifts without mommy and daddy?” A man teased the squirming child in his arms, tickling him until the toddler squealed and laughed with joy.

A woman came into the picture then, her green eyes sparkling at the scene of her husband and son playing around. “Alright, who’s ready to open up some presents?”

His little self didn’t waste any time to run under the Christmas tree and ripping off the green and red wrappings again. His father and mother stood side by side, looking on happily at him.

"Yes," Yuu sighed to the spirit, "my parents used to be such angels to me but now they’re not. I've really learnt my lesson, thank you."

Asuramaru’s serene smile turned to a glare of daggers. Through sheer force of will, he held Yuu rooted to the spot and made him watch.

"Okay, okay," he muttered.

Little Yuu was still happily unwrapping present after present, though there weren’t much. There were two from mommy and daddy, one from his daddy’s friends and another one from their old lady neighbour across the street. Once done, his young self carried his small pile in a bundle and brought them to his room.

There, he tossed the new train toy, a coloring book with crayons, some new socks and a teddy bear on his bed. Yuu watched as the toddler climbed up the mattress and crawled towards the window, seeing a few of the kids outside playing in the snow.

“Yuuichirou, how do you like your presents?” His mother asked from the doorway, smiling at the young child.

Little Yuu turned to her, expression grateful and hopeful, “I like it a lot! But can I...go outside and play?”

His mother’s smile dropped and she shook her head, an almost frightened look in her eye but she tried to conceal it in front of her child. “No, you’re not allowed, Yuu, remember? Just stay in bed and play with your new toys, okay?” She asked him nicely, and the small child nodded his head afterwards, a morose look on his chubby face.

Yuu didn’t remember any of this. He was too young to. But he recalled a trace of loneliness in his childhood and being holed up in his room constantly. He didn’t want to see anymore of it. Whirling on the spirit, Yuu said. "Lonely boy, seriously? That's why I hate Christmas?" He laughed. "Come on! I hardly need this little trip into my psyche to show me I had no one to play with because my parents were beginning to go psycho." He rolled his eyes. "I survived."

But the spirit only gave him another pitying smile. Yuu glared at that look.

"Let's just go," he said roughly, turning away. The spirit agreed, thankfully, and they began to rise up and away from the room.

As the scene faded away, Yuu turned to look back over his shoulder at the boy sitting alone in a room full of toys.

 

~*~

 

As they whirled through more scenes from his childhood, the random and quite desperate thought occurred to Yuu that he should actually have spent the damn night at Mika's – at least that would have saved him from this utter waste of time.

"Yes," he said with a sigh, “I did cry when my parents wouldn’t let me out to play in the snow in Christmas.”

"Yes," he said, rolling his eyes at a new scene, "I did touch the stove when I shouldn’t have and almost burned the kitchen down. My parents punished me severely for that."

"Yes," he said wearily to the spirit, "I did steal the doll my mom got from dad for Christmas and tried to make it have tea with me when I was ten. Mind you, it was the last Christmas we had as a family before shit hit the fan."

"What's my role here, exactly?" he said to the spirit. "Do you actually want me to feel sorry for—"

But the scene changed again and this time Yuu recognized the grey brick walls and the stick drawings pinned to them as the orphanage before it’s renovation. He saw himself standing by the corner of the play room, a sullen little child who’d just narrowly escaped death by fire. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time someone tried to murder him in a locked, burning building.

His younger self was reading a book, dressed in the clothes he arrived in. The other kids were playing around with a doll house on the other side of the room and with a pang, Yuu realized that Akane was there playing with them as well. Seeing her so lively and happy and in the flesh— not like the transparent sheen of her ghost self— brought forth an emotion of sadness and guilt, but more subdued.

The one sitting beside her was a blond head of hair that Yuu could never miss even in a crowded area. Mika was laughing at something the kids were telling him, his blue eyes innocent and sparkling with patience and kindness for one so young. Yuu had always wondered how an eleven year old could already act so mature for his age like the grown ups. No wonder all the children and adults seemed to like and trust him so readily.

Not his younger self though, Yuu remembered, as he watched himself purposely avoiding the gaggle of kids playing around. Christmas decorations dotted the whole place and with a jolt, Yuu realized it was his first night in the orphanage. Christmas day.

And he remembered exactly how this day went after he had his ass handed to him by Mika.

Just on cue, the blond’s head jerked up and looked contemplatively at the small version of Yuu sitting in the corner. He whispered something to Akane beside him before he stood and made his way over.

“Hey, do you wanna play with us?” Mika asked, smiling that winning smile that always got him good favors with just about anyone.

“No.” Small Yuu didn't even hesitate. Yet Mika seemed to have expected that.

“What book are you reading?”

“It's none of your business.”

Mika leaned his head down anyway to glance at the title, “Oh! I've read that one before about a beast and a princess and—”

“What are you doing?” Little Yuu snapped, glaring at the blond. “Stop bothering me.”

“I'm here trying to talk with you.”

“Why?”

“Because I like you and I think we can become good friends.” Mika made it sound as if it were obvious. Little Yuu looked mighty confused.

“No, you don't. You beat me up.” He accused, pouting a little. The skin at the corner of his mouth still looked a little swollen from Mika’s punch.

“That's only because you were being mean. Don't worry, I won't do it again.”

The Adult Yuu snorted. ‘Won't do it again’ my ass. Mika was clearly asserting his dominance over the new kid, that lil shit. Yuu guessed the attraction had begun since then when he was overpowered a couple more times during his first month in the orphanage. He sighed, shaking his head at his poor self for getting so into the boy’s manipulations.

But...he guessed there were some nice perks to being overpowered in their current relationship. If Mika could just get over his damn feelings. 

Little Yuu still eyed Mika distrustfully when the kids suddenly came over to them.

“Mika-nii! I want to play with Yuu-nii too!”

“No! Me first!”

“Meee!”

Little Yuu looked completely overwhelmed by the attention, eyes wide and darting left and right for an escape. Yuu could see Mika staring at his younger self’s panic with a wide smile on his face before he gestured to calm the commotion.

“Now, now, I think I have a solution. Why don't we all play with Yuu-chan?”

The children cheered and clapped while Little Yuu’s face morphed into a look of horror at Mika.

“That fucking bastard.” Yuu chuckled, shaking his head. Of course, his younger self didn't take it lying down. 

“I said stop bothering me!” Little Yuu finally shouted, standing up with his hands balled into fists. The children immediately quieted and shrank back from him, Akane glaring at him from the back while Mika just gaped.

Then no longer able to handle the silence, Little Yuu marched away from the group and dropped to another corner in the room with his book.

Eventually, the noise came and rose back up again, the kids reassured of Yuu’s outburst as pre-teen mood swings as he was told by Akane the next day. They went back to playing with their doll house, Mika with them as well though Yuu noticed the way he kept sending glances towards his sullen counterpart. After a few minutes, the kids broke out in rambunctious laughter and Little Yuu peeked over the edges of his book, curious despite himself.

He watched his younger self carefully, the way his brow creased and his jaw tightened just a little bit. Little Yuu gazed at the orphans who were just like himself, and Yuu remembered in that moment, if he could ever make friends with them.

The spirit's icy hand on his shoulder startled him. He looked down at his ruby eyes. "Yeah, yeah," he muttered, scrubbing his face. "I get it. Can we go now?"

 

~*~

 

The Hiiragi Christmas party? Oh this was going to be a delight. Yuu had only ever attended it once and was happy to never go again.

Yuu and the spirit landed on the edges of the room, merging with the walls in ways Yuu couldn't explain, but he was grateful not to have to manoeuvre his way among the crowd all dressed up for the festive occasion. The spirit helpfully pointed out his past self at the bar with Shinoa, but as Yuu shrugged the icy thing away from him— the spirit, not Shinoa, although that might be up for debate— he remembered exactly what happened here.

Yuu was by the bar, keeping away from the crowd, as usual. His gaze was fixed on one point in the room with a sort of cloudy clarity, swirling his drink in hand. He wasn't drunk yet but the other Yuu knew he was steadily getting there. Helps keep the memories away , he’d reasoned when anyone asked.

“He's single, you know," Shinoa whispered to him, chuckling in her drink.

Yuu whirled around to her. "Who?"

"Yuu-san." She rolled her eyes. "You haven't taken your eyes off him all night. 'Who' indeed." She swatted his shoulder, and he flushed a little.

On the edges of the room, the other Yuu groaned. He eyed the spirit. "Really, this one? Nothing even happened."

Asuramaru just gave him a mischievous smile.

"Don't be ridiculous," he was telling Shinoa. "I'm only watching him to make sure he doesn't try beating anyone else for fun, that's all."

She snorted. Yuu still hadn't forgiven Mika for that one, clearly. "Oh, well, if that's all..." Her eyes were still alight with amusement. "Why not ask him to dance?"

He glared at her, and they watched together as Mika grinned at an approaching Aiko Aihara. She looked him up and down, checking him out none too subtly, before clinking glasses with him. She had a sultry smile on her face, no doubt asking him for a dance but the blond only shook his head slightly and gave her an apologetic smile.

"Ouch." Shinoa chuckled, turning back to the bar. "Aiko must be crushed."

Yuu narrowed his eyes. "What do you know?"

"Only that Aiko’s had a crush on him ever since high school." She laughed. "Rumour has it that they even dated once but Mika broke it off before it could get any serious."

"I never knew that."

Shinoa eyed him teasingly. "Curious, aren't you? Well you have nothing to worry about now. Go climb that Candy Cane before somebody else tries a taste, if you know what I mean.” She waggled her eyebrows at him and made an obscene gesture with her hands.

"You're absolutely despicable." But he gave her a fond smile. So. Mika was single now, was he? Well, it wasn't as though Yuu was interested, but it might not hurt to have a look.

Before he knew it, Shinoa had drifted away and Mika was making his way over to him, smiling at a few people he knew as he went, that damn blinding smile of his. He zeroed in on Yuu, and all that attention on his person made him feel a little squirmy inside. Finally, Mika spoke.

“It's been a while, Yuu-chan. How are you?”

Yuu shrugged, tipping his head back to drink, “I’m fine. The job's fine. My team’s been set back a bit cause we lost trail of our case. And I should have been with them right now but Shinoa blackmailed me, that bitch.”

“I think she's got the right idea.” Mika said, eyes on his swirling drink. “Haven't seen you around the orphanage much, Yuu. And you don't really ask for hang outs. You're always busy.”

Yuu sighed. He didn't want to have this conversation with Mika of all people, “It's important, Mika. I'm not going to stop until I get him.” He explained simply, voice quiet.

There was a beat of silence between them. Yuu thought Mika would continue to push; all the others who’d asked him about it didn't stop because they never understood. It’s why Yuu didn't bother trying to explain himself and talk to them anymore. But then Mika exhaled, smiled and changed topic instead.

Yuu looked grateful for it, to say the least and the other Yuu noticed the tension ease up between them as they stayed away from off-limit topics. They continued talking about their current jobs, their friends, their complaints in life, the party, and then Mika said something to make Yuu laugh.

Watching from the edges of the room, the other Yuu saw it happen— his face split into a broad grin, his teeth showing and a low, delighted sound spilled from his throat. He also saw what he'd missed before, having closed his eyes shut in mirth: Mika was watching him with open interest on his face. His lips were parted and his eyes narrowed to Yuu, taking in every second of the moment when Yuu finally let his guard down.

"God," Yuu moaned to the spirit. "I could have fucked him right there, and we'd have had two extra years."

The spirit only raised a brow at him knowingly.

"Oh, shut up," he muttered to a grinning Asuramaru.

Next to the bar, his past self had schooled his face back into neutrality and was busy finishing the last of his drink. "Your friends appear to be waiting for you," he said, gesturing.

Mika turned. Krul was speaking with Lacus about something and Rene was being his usual quiet support, though his eyes seemed to be trying to hint something at Mika when their gazes locked. Finally, Krul smiled at Lacus and pushed him forward. He dusted himself off and headed straight for the blond, who sighed almost audibly as he approached.

"Well it was nice seeing you again, Mika," said Yuu, his voice dripping with sarcasm, but he gave him a cheeky smile as he held out his hand. Mika glanced down at it and then back up to meet Yuu's gaze, something still alight in those damn blue eyes of his. He shook Yuu's hand in farewell.

"You too," he murmured, hiding a grin as Yuu let go and moved across the room in search of Shinoa. When he looked back again, Mika was deep in conversation with Lacus.

The spirit grasped Yuu's hand. Startled, he jumped at the coldness.

"Come," Asuramaru said softly.

They began to rise above the crowd. It felt fairly ridiculous to be swimming in ethereal form— in his pyjamas, no less— above the Hiiragi manor, but Yuu's mind was spinning too much to worry about it. What if he'd marched back across the dance floor that night and asked Mika to dance?

Whatever started that night hadn't lasted between Mika and Lacus, Yuu knew that, but still: he couldn't get past the idea that he'd lost Mika that night, that he could have had more time with him.

Worst of all, Yuu realised with a start as the spirit pulled him up into the night sky again: he wanted to have had those two extra years.

 

~*~

 

The scene shifted again, as if the walls of a room had rippled to gently admit them. They hovered on the outskirts, and Yuu's breath caught at the vision before him— himself and Mika tangled in the cotton sheets of Mika's big bed, Mika in the process of wrestling Yuu onto his back and growling as he bit at Yuu's shoulder.

"Hold still," muttered Mika, his blond hair a mess, his eyes fierce, and his body crushing Yuu's to the bed. Yuu only appraised him with a flirty smile, letting his arms fall to the side as if in defeat.

At the edges of the room, the other Yuu could barely swallow when he realised exactly which time this was.

"Or what, Mika?" purred Yuu, wetting his lips. Mika lifted himself up at that, locking his arms on either side of Yuu's head and gazing down at him. His eyes softened, the thrill of the chase now crumpling ever so slightly.

God, Yuu remembered how he'd felt to be the subject of that look, the way Mika's entire face had shifted as he'd considered his answer.

"Or you won't get what you came here for," Mika said at last, his hips pressing down against Yuu's. They were naked already, hard and damp, and Yuu remembered wanting it all to go faster, dammit, but also for it to never end.

"I came here for a glass of cheap alcohol and a fuck, Mika." That teasing grin slid over Yuu's face again, and watching it, the other Yuu winced a little. It was so cocksure, so arrogant. He saw Mika lower his eyes, just for a moment.

Sprawled out on the bed, Yuu had never noticed, but watching it all again now, something burned sharply through him. Beside him, the ghost fluttered in the cool midnight air coming through the window.

This was their first time. The first of many, to be sure, but still the first. Yuu would never forget it.

He turned to the spirit. "This wasn't any Christmas," he muttered, piercing Asuramaru with his best glare, but he was unmoved. "Also, fuck off. You're not watching this."

He only glared right back, but after a few seconds, with an annoyed sigh, Asuramaru floated away and turned his back to them. "My time grows short," he called, but elaborated no further.

His heart pounding, Yuu turned his attention back to the bed, his mind whirling with the memory. God, that night.

Mikaela Shindo, it had turned out, was one hell of a kisser. It had been six months ago, a humid night at a bar with some co-workers from the police office. His men were raucous; some big case they'd finally solved. Loud, drunk and beyond obnoxious, they'd taken over the bar and made sure everyone in the vicinity knew who they were and what they’d done. Mika happened to be there at the same time and Yuu hadn't been able to take his eyes off of him...again. Filled with drunk confidence, Yuu had walked over to him and challenged Mika to a drinking game he couldn't quite remember what. All he knew was that it ended up in an arm wrestling match and to his chagrin, lost every round.

Yuu had never been able to resist such power in a man before as he imagined what Mika could do with that strength in bed.

Not only could Mika kiss (Yuu soon found out near the door to the bathroom), he could weave a proposition in rough, breathy tones that had slid down to Yuu's toes, arousal blossoming through his body. They were stumbling back to Mika's flat in minutes, tearing at each other's clothes.

It wasn't nearly as quick and rough as Yuu had expected. He was tipsy and wanted a quick fuck. And he thought Mika wanted the same. But there had also been something more to it, something deeper. Something slower. Mika had taken his time, ignoring Yuu's huffs of protest to get on with it already and only moving his mouth to yet another spot on Yuu's shoulder, or chest, or inner thigh. When he'd finally pressed inside him, a hot, steady push that had stolen the breath from Yuu's lungs, it was all Yuu could do not to unravel all at once. He'd shamelessly let his legs fall to each side as he groaned, deep and intimate, into Mika's neck, his fingers buried in Mika's locks of hair.

His orgasm had built like low thunder, rumbling through him at one especially deep thrust.

"Oh, God," Mika had murmured into his neck, increasing his pace as Yuu's come spread between them. "So fucking gorgeous." He slammed in again and again and then held himself still, his hands curling around Yuu's shoulders as his cock pulsed and released inside him. The sensation of it ripped through Yuu as well, and they'd clung to each other for a long, blinding moment.

Yuu hadn't even considered getting up to leave after he'd come. He'd only settled back down on the bed, panting, and thrown a triumphant grin over at Mika, sprawled beside him. Mika had returned it, and soon they were devouring each other's mouths again. He'd never recovered so quickly before, never wanted someone again so soon, but Mika had him hard again in no time. When he'd pushed Mika down on his back and crawled on top of him, straddling his hips and sinking down on Mika's cock, Yuu could only shudder at the vast, all-consuming pleasure of it and let it wash over him.

It took longer that time, as Yuu rode Mika’s cock lazily, feeling him swell into full hardness inside him. They rocked against each other and traded lazy kisses as their orgasms built all over again. By the time Mika came for a second time, Yuu was sore and filled with semen but he was warmed all over from the way Mika looked up at him, moonlight seeping across the sheets.

Before he'd even known what he was doing, Yuu had spent the night in Mika's bed. By morning, he was raw and bruised and stained with Mika's come. They had to have fucked three times at least, maybe more with hands and mouths factored in; Yuu had lost count. All he knew was that Mika's commanding presence filled the bed, the room, his entire life, if Yuu was honest. Waking up beside him after a few hours' sleep, his hand gentle over Mika's rhythmically rising and falling chest, Yuu had panicked.

His heart started pounding. He chanced a look at Mika's face, relaxed in sleep with his messy hair curling around his ears and flopping over his forehead. His lips were pink and full, and his tongue sat just behind them as he slept. Yuu's heart clenched, dammit. He wanted nothing more than to lean down and kiss Mika gently, wake him up with a nip to that gorgeous mouth, to whisper something lewd in his ear, laughing softly, before spreading his legs and pulling Mika on top of him again. The memory of Mika's solid weight on him the night before, his cock pressing deep and his arms pinning Yuu down... It nearly made him tremble just to think of it.

No. He had to get the fuck out of there.

At the edges of the room, the other Yuu held his face in his hands, moaning at the spirit. God, it was so embarrassing, how quickly he'd become completely attached to Mika. Though it shouldn’t have been surprising with how approachable and friendly the blond was; it was only going to be a matter of time. The only solution had been to run. He couldn't promise the sex wouldn't happen again, and it had, many times, but Yuu had made sure his guard was up after that. He never stayed the night, never let it mean more, never let Mika share too much.

"Hey." Mika woke, rubbing his eyes before a frown crossed his handsome face. Yuu was across the room, gathering his clothes and wincing at being caught out.

"Sorry," he ventured. "Tried not to wake you."

"It's okay. I don't want you to..." Mika looked lost for a moment. "... think you have to sneak out," he finished, pressing his lips together. "There's– I mean, I can make coffee?"

Yuu rolled his eyes, pulling his pants on and buttoning his shirt. "Coffee is for the weak," he muttered. "I have places to be, Mika, baddies to catch."

Rummaging on the floor for his belt, Yuu didn't see what the other Yuu saw from the edges of the room: Mika's crestfallen and bewildered face, sitting cross-legged under the sheets and staring down at his hands helplessly. By the time Yuu turned around again, he'd schooled his features into neutrality. "I'd expect nothing less of you, Yuu-chan." He forced a grin.

His clothes finally in order, Yuu glanced back at Mika once more. "Thanks for the fuck," he said casually, allowing a small smile. "Turns out you're not nearly as terrible as I thought you'd be."

Mika released a laugh, covering his face with one hand. "Thanks. You too."

"We should do it again sometime. I’ve got a little mission down south for a few weeks," he added, wetting his lips. "But perhaps when I get back."

"I– oh. Yeah, okay. Perhaps. When do you think—"

"Later, Mika."

With that, Yuu had left the bedroom, headed out of the door, traveled back home and sank into a warm bath.

"Get me out of here, spirit," muttered Yuu. The spirit only gave him his usual serene but condescending look.

"This is your past," Asuramaru told him, speaking at last. "It is what it is. Don't blame me if you don't like what you see."

"Listen, you little demon," he snarled, "you're going to end this fucking haunting right now."

"Soon," he replied, his face shifting from condescension to... pity? Yuu felt ill. "There is one more thing for you to see." The spirit gestured at him to keep watching, and he realised his past self had left, but he and the spirit were still in Mika's bedroom.

Yuu couldn't help but be curious. What had Mika done when he'd left? Well. Lay in bed for a long time, it turned out. Yuu glanced at the spirit, but again Asuramaru gestured for him to keep watching. Mika was on his back, the sheets tangled around his legs and waist. One hand rested over his bare stomach while the other sat over his forehead, occasionally rubbing it before falling slack again.

Yuu watched him in wonder. He was rumpled and flushed, his lips dry and hair tousled. Finally, he sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Even soft, his length was full and gorgeous, and Yuu couldn't stop staring at the figure he cut as he searched through his chest of drawers for clothes.

Yuu sighed in disappointment when Mika threw on a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms, then padded across the large room, barefoot, to a desk where he kept his phone. He tapped a few buttons, pressed it to his ear and then sat back on the edge of his bed. "Krul," he said quietly.

Somehow, Yuu was able to hear the other side of the conversation. "Oh! Morning, Mika. I was just getting ready to go out and buy new clothes for the kids. You know how they love it when Mama Krul visits them with presents.” She released a twinkling laugh and Mika tried matching her tone but obviously it came out horrible enough for Krul to pick up. "Oh. Good grief. What's happened to you? Is everything alright? You sound terrible!"

"Thanks." Mika’s lips curled into a wry grin.

"No, I just mean..." Her voice softened this time. "What is it?"

His fists clenched over his thighs. Shaking his head, he slumped his shoulders as he began to talk. "I think I just made the biggest mistake of my life," he said, his voice a bit strangled.

Yuu turned to the spirit again. "Oh, great. Do I really need to hear this?"

Asuramaru put his icy hand on his shoulder and shoved him around, keeping it there to make sure he watched.

Krul was silent, but her tone was kind and encouraging. She waited. Finally, she asked gently, "What's that?"

He bent to scrub his face, moaning out a tortured laugh into his hands. Then he raised his eyes, blue pools staring into nothing, and sighed. "I think I just fell in love with Yuu-chan."