WRITTEN BY CHANTREA JOHARI
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Yomi sat back on Hitsugi’s sofa, a can of soda in each of his hands. He set one down next to the guitarist before popping the other open for himself, taking a small sip as the other man thanked him. Yomi watched Hitsugi with a smile as the guitarist sat back against the couch, a cat on his lap. He was stroking the small creature behind its ears, the animal purring happily.
These were the times when Yomi loved sitting with the other man, watching him. Hitsugi thought of his cats almost like children; he loved them and coveted them, and he always seemed most at ease with a cat in his arms, purring for him. Yomi wouldn’t admit it to the other man, lest it cause a rather extreme blushing fit, but he found the scene in front of him completely adorable; he always had the distinct urge, when he sat with Hitsugi like this, to take a picture, but he’d not yet done so.
Hitsugi seemed to notice the vocalist’s eyes on him, because he shifted a bit on the cushion, seeming uncomfortable. “What is it?” he asked, appearing wary and confused. Yomi just shook his head dismissively.
“Nothing,” Yomi dismissed immediately, leaning back against the arm of the couch and taking another sip of his soda. He knew that it was a bad idea to drink it; the caffeine would inevitably make him hyperactive and unable to sleep, and they did have a live the next day. Yet still, Yomi continued drinking it, though Hitsugi’s stayed on the table, ignored.
Hitsugi didn’t look as if he accepted Yomi’s answer, but he didn’t press it anyway, moving his hands from the feline’s ears and sliding them instead down its long, slinky back. The cat arched its back a bit each time Hitsugi’s hand trailed over it, continuing to purr contentedly.
“So, are you ready for tomorrow’s performance?” Hitsugi asked instead, eyes trailing over to Yomi while he continued to pet the animal in his lap. Yomi just shrugged, pulling his legs up onto the couch and sitting cross-legged against the arm.
“I’m always ready for a performance,” he said idly. “I could perform all day and night if it weren’t so tiring.”
Hitsugi laughed, the sound tinkling through the air alluringly. Hitsugi’s laugh was quiet and gentle, just like him; it was so incongruous with Yomi’s own boisterous laugh and those of the other band members. They all laughed with an inordinate amount of force behind it, while Hitsugi, conversely, laughed delicately and softly.
“I don’t doubt that,” Hitsugi told him with a smile, and Yomi hit him playfully on the arm. This dislodged the cat in the younger man’s lap slightly; its fur bristled, and it looked up at Yomi with something akin to annoyance in its eyes. It possessed that special ability cats have to always look superior, always look as if humans were their servants.
That quality in cats reminded Yomi so much of Sakito sometimes, but that gentler, sweeter quality cats have when you treat them well reminded him instead of Hitsugi. Much like a cat’s seeming abrasiveness, Hitsugi’s appearance could make people think he was cold, or even cruel. But also like a cat, when cared for and loved, Hitsugi was the sweetest, most wonderful person Yomi had ever met. Yomi had always wondered if that similarity was why the guitarist liked cats, or whether it was some unidentifiable coincidence.
“Sorry,” Yomi apologized to the obstinate feline, not thinking it odd at all that he was asking for the forgiveness of a cat. Hitsugi’s pets were almost an extension of him, like family, and Yomi felt no embarrassment or strangeness in it.
Hitsugi laughed, not because he found it strange either, but more because Yomi was the only person who would act so. Ruka and Ni~ya, though not cat lovers like Hitsugi, liked the animals but only to a point. Sakito would never give such words to a cat; in much the way that two superior beings often clashed about who was better, Sakito only tolerated cats when he absolutely had to.
“Don’t worry; she forgives you,” Hitsugi teased with a smile, petting the cat again so that it rolled over and gave him access to its stomach. Hitsugi’s nails scratched nimbly across the lightly furred flesh as he shifted subtly to make his legs more comfortable. Seconds later, he let out a long yawn, covering his mouth and blinking repeatedly. Yomi smiled, feeling endeared toward the guitarist.
“Sleepy?” Yomi taunted gently. Hitsugi laughed, shaking his head in amusement.
“Maybe a little,” he admitted, though another wide yawn revealed that he was under-exaggerating more than slightly. Yomi gave him a pointed look. “All right, yes. But I’m too lazy to go to bed.”
Yomi laughed at his friend’s rare admittance; to most people, Hitsugi wouldn’t say such things; in crowds, he was often too embarrassed, and otherwise, he was often just too afraid to be entirely truthful. Yet he and Yomi had known each other long enough and had become good enough friends that it wasn’t an issue between them.
“It doesn’t matter,” Yomi said, sliding his arm suddenly around Hitsugi’s back and easing his body downward into a laying position, careful to do it slowly enough that it would not upset the animal in Hitsugi’s lap. He laid the guitarist’s head in his own lap, knowing that Hitsugi wouldn’t object to it. As he had expected, Hitsugi just sighed contentedly, flexing his shoulder blades in a rather catlike manner himself as he settled himself comfortably upon the vocalist’s crossed legs.
“There,” Yomi proclaimed, feeling accomplished. “Now you can just go to bed right here. What do you think?”
“I think I’m going to put your legs to sleep,” Hitsugi admitted, looking sheepish. Yomi just shook his head.
“Nonsense. Just relax.”
Hitsugi, in fact, did just that, letting his eyes fall closed. Yomi watched the man for a few delicate moments, glancing down at his reddish-brown hair and feeling an inexplicable urge to pet it, just the way Hitsugi was still idly petting the cat in his lap, which Yomi could tell was also in a state of half-sleep. Yomi couldn’t help but feel reverence toward the other man; he looked so peaceful, his features so relaxed and unabashedly adorable. But again, Yomi wasn’t about to tell the other man that; Hitsugi didn’t take compliments well.
After a few long moments, Yomi finally gave in, reaching his small hand out and brushing Hitsugi’s choppy locks out of his eyes gently. Hitsugi opened his eyes suddenly, surprised by the touch, but Yomi just gave him a reassuring smile. “Just go to sleep,” he urged the tired man.
Hitsugi smiled and didn’t object to Yomi’s gentle touches, so Yomi took that as permission to continue. Hitsugi’s eyes fell closed again and Yomi’s touches became bolder, running his fingers softly through strands of dyed hair, surprised at how soft it was. Their stylists spend so much time trying to make their hair look choppy and full that Yomi almost forgot how velvety the guitarist’s hair really was, despite all the color treatment it had gone through over the years.
Yomi could feel Hitsugi’s muscles relaxing slowly as he continued to stroke the guitarist’s hair; the slight tension that had been in his shoulders began to melt away, and his body fell more fluidly against Yomi’s legs. His breathing was slowing, and his hand, still atop his cat’s fur, was slowing also; Yomi could tell that the small animal was already asleep, and it seemed that Hitsugi, himself, was minutes from it.
Finally, Hitsugi’s breathing fell into a slow evenness, and Yomi smiled at the infinitely innocent man lying partially atop him. Being around Hitsugi had always felt so refreshing; he was barely younger than Yomi himself, but he exuded a strange purity that Yomi had felt he had never had. Something about it made Hitsugi seem so much younger, something that should be protected and coveted at all costs. The guitarist was a treasure well sought for; he was one so untouched by the world that he hadn’t become jaded or cold or pessimistic, like so many things could have made him. It almost made Yomi feel the same way, as if through osmosis he could somehow pick up the guitarist’s more flattering traits.
After a few minutes, he was satisfied that Hitsugi was asleep, and he pulled his hand away, flexing his fingers to get rid of the tension. Immediately afterward, Hitsugi shifted, and he mumbled something barely audible, such that Yomi had to strain to hear it. “Mm…don’t stop.”
Yomi wasn’t sure if Hitsugi was in fact still asleep; and if he was awake, the vocalist was unsure of how lucid he was. But the request had been plain and clear; he hadn’t wanted to lose Yomi’s touch. Unable to deny the other man what he wanted when his voice, his request was so soft and gentle, Yomi reached his hand out again and began softly petting Hitsugi’s hair, smiling when a small, contented groan rumbled from deep in Hitsugi’s throat. It sounded almost like a purr in itself, and the guitarist shifted, his movements strangely fluid laced with felinity.
Feeling a strange sense of calm, Yomi leaned forward at a very uncomfortable angle to place a small kiss on Hitsugi’s forehead. “You’re so adorable—so beautiful,” Yomi whispered, confessing the words he didn’t dare say to the guitarist when he was awake. He could tell that Hitsugi was truly asleep this time; there was no telltale blush staining his cheeks at the compliment.