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City of Sun @cynamonowo
Chapter 1

The thing is — Yusuke does, in fact, know he's not the most socially adept person, to put it lightly. His words come out awkward, there have been many situations he misinterpreted, and, while he can depict quite a lot of emotions in his art, he has trouble reading them on living, breathing people. He's been aware of this problem for a very long time now. Yet, since joining the Phantom Thieves and finally freeing himself from the choking shackle of Madarame's abuse, Yusuke has, to his pleased surprise, managed to handle a conversation not just once or twice. Now he knows how to express his own feelings with proper gestures and statements a bit better now. Hell, for some reason, Akira is still dating him, which, yes, is truly delightful, but Yusuke sometimes doubts if he's worthy of such feelings.

Just like he's doing right now. And realizing that, yes, it is such a pathetic, selfish reaction only makes Yusuke's throat tighten with guilt. He swallows down the bitter feelings and opens his eyes as he feels the subway car slow down, sees Akira stir up. Sure enough, they're in Yongen already; they stand up and walk into the station. Patting his pockets in search of his pass card, Yusuke gazes at Akira, who returns it with a calm expression. But his eyes are still red, his skin paler than usual, which Yusuke notices and bites his lips. He looks — tired.

"What do you want to do now?" he asks, sounding much too helpless for his liking. But Akira only shakes his head, the corners of his lips twitching in a small smile. The band-aid on his left cheek shifts with the motion; there's a dark purple bruise under his eye.

"Lie down for a second," he says, making his way towards the exit. "Maybe go to the bathhouse. I'm beat."

"I, I see," Yusuke murmurs, following Akira, shoulders drooping in embarrassment, knowing he's the cause for his partner's exhaustion.

It was supposed to be one of the usual trips the two of them took to Mementos. Yusuke would sketch their surroundings while Akira hung by, watching quietly or offering idle commentary, while the Metaverse pulsed around them, cognitions flickering in and out. If a Shadow stumbled upon them, it would most often be one puny enough to perish in the matter of a few minutes and simple spells.

And they should not have gotten used to that.

Yusuke gets so lost in these dark thoughts that he almost walks into a lamp post. Startled, he looks up and realizes they're by Leblanc already. He stops in place as Akira enters, forces himself to speak out.

"Excuse me if this is rude, but I presume you're still alright with me staying overnight." His voice sounds a bit more high-pitched than usual. Shit.

Frowning, Akira gazes at him sharply. "Why wouldn't I be?" he asks, tilting his head. "Come on, let's go." He pushes the door open and steps in, so Yusuke follows, trying to smooth his expression out into something less anxious. Boss glances at them, then sets down his newspaper and sighs.

"I told you guys to stay out of trouble, for god's sake," he says before turning to Yusuke. "You'll take care of him, yeah? Today's leftovers are in the fridge, so warm up some for dinner later."

"O-of course," Yusuke says, fervently nodding as Akira rolls his eyes.

"Boss, I ain't made of glass," he drawls out, pulling the hood from over his head and making his way through the cafe to climb up the stairs without a word. Yusuke watches him, grimacing, then bows to Boss and follows after his partner.

The attic, bathed in the soft light of the old night lamp, feels even smaller than usual. Akira's already sprawled out on top of his covers, glasses dangling from his fingers as he covers his face. It's — distressing, to put it lightly, but, despite the worry gnawing at his stomach, Yusuke sits beside him and rests a hand on his shoulder. The words come with more ease this time.

"I'm sorry," Yusuke whispers, trying to sound as gentle as he can. "If, if there's anything you think would be helpful, please let me know so I could assist you somehow."

Akira doesn't reply instantly. Instead, he pulls his hands away and looks at Yusuke for a short moment, his face enigmatical. Then — he smiles. It's small and quick yet does seem genuine.

"It's your turn to tend to me, huh," he murmurs, shaking his head before reaching out. "Come lie down, let's chill like that for a while."

Well. That does seem like a good idea. Akira scoots back on the bed, so they end up facing each other, just a few centimeters of space left between their bodies. Hesitantly, Yusuke wraps one arm around Akira's shoulders, to which he gets another fleeting grin. It makes him relax slightly, less worried about his clumsy attempt to show Akira the same care and compassion he has received so many times.

"Hm. Would you, well, like to talk about what has happened?" Yusuke asks. He considers his words, chewing on his lower lip, and adds, "That is, if you want to. It would be — understandable, of course, taking into account your recent experiences." The interrogation room, he doesn't say. He doesn't think it is needed.

"Maybe later," Akira replies, his voice similarly soft and low. He brings his palm to Yusuke's cheek, brushes his hair back behind his ear. His touch is gentle and tender; Yusuke can't help but lean into it, closing his eyes. Then, the familiar soft press of another set of lips against his. The kiss is unhurried and without much heat, just warmth, and the familiar taste of black coffee; returning it is as easy as breathing. Akira makes a pleased little sound in the back of his throat before breaking away, brushing his thumb over Yusuke's brow.

"Thank you," Yusuke says softly, feeling a bit winded. "For, for everything, I suppose."

"No need to thank me," Akira replies, voice light. "Just stay."

"You must know you need not ask."

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