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safe in the one am light @cynamonowo
Chapter 1

The coffee he made tastes really bland. Akira sets the mug down on the desk, frowning, and mentally retraces his steps— yeah, he had followed Sojiro's directions word for word, hadn't he? He had made sure the water was at the right temperature, kept good track of the time spent brewing, ground the beans themselves thoroughly— ah, no, that was it.

Guess he can't really prepare a proper cup if he keeps using the beans he bought during a discount on everything action in the nearest combini store. Freaking figures. At least Yusuke likes them.

Akira finishes the sad concoction in one gulp anyway, then eyes his study notes. Well. He's gotten the gist of them, more or less, and there isn't anything else he can pour over, so maybe it's time to wrap this up and go bug Yusuke. That sounds like a solid enough plan. Akira gets up, stretches his arms above himself, cheerfully strides over to the living room (slash dining room, slash art studio) and calls, "Hello to my favorite artist."

"Mm." Yusuke's gaze doesn't waver from his sketchbook. He's sitting on the couch, legs crossed and face pulled in a thoughtful expression as his pencil dances on the paper.

Yup. No use in making too much of a talk, at least for now, Akira reckons. His partner's in the Mood, capital M, and it'll be a miracle if he goes to bed tonight.

It's one AM already, so Akira decides against whining about Yusuke's messed-up sleep patterns and goes to their micro kitchen to fix him some coffee. With extra love added, as per usual. Five minutes later, carrying a mug with a strong aroma drifting up from it, he ruffles Yusuke's hair to bring him back to the world of living just for a second, then, when he gets a questioning look as a reply, hands him the coffee.

"Drink it," he says sternly, "or you'll end up passing out in the shower again, and I'm not up for that today."

"Oh. Yes, yes, thank you." Yusuke accepts the drink and takes a few dainty sips, then sets it on the table and picks up his drawing utensils again. Akira rolls his eyes, not without fondness, and climbs onto the sofa. He pulls his partner closer until he gets his lithe body settled between his legs. Sure, when they're sitting sideways like that, Akira can't quite lean on the couch properly, and his feet are dangling off the edge, but the small, pleased 'huh' Yusuke gives him is damn well worth the meddling and the oncoming backache.

"You comfy?" Akira asks with a smirk, snuggling closer so his chest presses to his partner's back.


"Now?" Then he wraps his hands around Yusuke's waist.

"Yeah." He's still drawing, the lovely little punk.

"And… now?" Akira rests his chin on the other's shoulder (thank fuck their height difference has gotten smaller since high school, or that'd be a kinda awkward position for both of them), then furrows his brows as Yusuke's overgrown hair tickles him in the nose. "Geez."

"Are you alright?"

"Mostly." Akira straightens up and pokes Yusuke. "Scoot forward."

"If you insist." He sounds a bit petulant but doesn't protest.

Having gained a better access, Akira recalls Ann's lessons and gets to work.

"Hm. What are you doing?" asks Yusuke a moment later, his tone absently curious as he switches his pencils and shades… whatever the hell he's drawing. Akira peeks at it quickly. It looks like a Shadow after twenty years of bad cocaine and cheap energy drinks — well, if you squint. In another case, if you tilted your head in the other direction, it'd be… Ah, who knows.

When Akira's fingers brush the back of his bare neck, Yusuke jolts slightly, to which Akira clicks his tongue.

"Shhh. Stop fussing. I'm just braiding your hair."

"Oh. I see." Yusuke hums to himself. "It did… get quite long, didn't it."

"It's nice. Kinda cute, even." Left strand to the center, right to the center, tighten… Akira bites his lip in focus. That'd be less difficult if Ann did allow him to play with her hair more than once. "You could do some fancier stuff with it than just having it loose or in a ponytail, especially after it gets even longer."

"As always, your idea is quite splendid," Yusuke exclaims joyously, then chuckles. "Yes, after all, the artist is a part of what they create, and creating gratuitous dichotomies between those two images that an eye can see could prove counterproductive."

"If you say so," Akira offers neutrally and plucks a rubber band from the mess on the table. "One sec… Okay, I'm done. It's kinda short and crooked, but you look dashing no matter what."

Yusuke sets the sketchbook on his knees, then meticulously checks the back of his head. Apparently satisfied with the result, he turns to look at Akira and offers him a tiny, dazzling smile.

"It's quite ergonomic. Thank you, my love."

"God, that was nothing special." Akira rubs the nape of his neck. "You don't gotta get so sappy over it." Hearing him say those two words without any preamble… Geez.

"Akira, please listen." Pushing away the sketchbook, Yusuke moves to face him and takes his hands into his own, stained with graphite and surprisingly firm. "Ever since we met those four years ago, you have been offering me your assistance whenever it was needed and possible. You have never turned me down or did any worse than your absolute best. Be it Palaces—" his grip tightens, just momentarily "—or that ridiculous chase for inspiration, you have stood by my side. Akira, my love, you gave me purpose and happiness, and I'm in your debt till the very end."

"Don't 'in your debt' me." Akira swallows, trying not to show how stupidly moved he is by this sudden declaration and this utter sincerity radiating from Yusuke. He plants a brief kiss on his forehead. "I'm your boyfriend, you're my partner, so, you jerk, there are no debts between us."

"Let me rephrase it, in this case." Yusuke closes his eyes. "You gave me purpose and happiness, and I'm grateful."

"Much better," Akira decides. Thank fuck Morgana isn't here tonight, he'd have a blast laughing at them. "And also, wow, much gayer." He smiles, and Yusuke grins back.

"Why, I hope so."

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