Uruha flipped through a magazine decorated with red hearts and filled with dazzling pieces of jewellery one could only find in the month of February. He turned the pages slowly, sluggishly, with his fingers brushing over each piece of notable interest: Silver twirling hearts fastened to rings of rose and golden gold, white gold necklaces with pairs of rose gold hearts twined together around infinity symbols, and many other such things he would love to adorn himself with sometime. His back was bent over delicately with the uncharacteristically plain shirt he was wearing ridding up and displaying the pale skin of his lower back as he scoured through the well-used magazine, which had only come out the week before.
He sighed as the sound of the shower stopped in the background, like an annoying hum gone silent, and closed the book with an even slower, heavy thumb and slid it under the pile of magazines kept beneath the low, living room table with the glass top. Aoi had never really celebrated Valentines Day with him, but that would never stop the light haired brunette from wishing he would. Uruha looked over his shoulder as Aoi walked from the bathroom with a towel around his waist and his hair dripping wet.
"Aoi-k-" Uruha started, but Aoi seemed to not have noticed.
"When are you going to take your bath, Uru?" Aoi asked while moving a piece of dripping hair over his shoulder as their apartment was chilly and Uruha could see the effect the cooling water was having on Aoi's slim chest.
Uruha knew the answer to this question that Aoi wanted and rested his head against the back of the couch. "Whenever you happen to finish drying your hair."
"Thank you, Uru," Aoi hummed and disappeared back into the bathroom. A few moments later, the hairdryer could be heard as Aoi switched it on and began to dry the mess his black haired turned into after a shower.
Shivering a little, Uruha pulled his sweater closer around him and thought about raiding Aoi's clothes for a second one to put over the short sleeve shirt, the long sleeve shirt, and the sweater he was currently wearing. He supposed that the reason the person who came up with the commercial Valentines Day traditions had kept the holiday in the middle of the coldest month because he figured people celebrating the day would have a nice warm someone to help them fight the cold. With another sigh-he seemed to be doing that a lot lately-he bit his lip; he was not going to let some stupid commercial holiday make him upset at Aoi.
The truth was, however; that since Uruha was thinking about not letting the holiday make him sad, he was already sad.
Breathing in deeply, he sprayed the hot water over his body a final time before turning off the nozzle. Shivering a little, Uruha pulled back the cover of the bath he had cleaned this morning for himself only it seemed, since Aoi had not taken a bath that night, and poured in a couple full of rose smelling bath milk. He watched in the quickly cooling shower room as the milk dissipated through the water and filled the steam with the slight scent of rose before he sank down into the water after it. The water felt a little cooler than the supposed 41 centigrade it was supposed to be and so Uruha turned on the fan and moved away from where the hot air would be forced into the water from below: it always seemed to burn his back. The fan always had a way of churning the water so that the bath milk foamed and covered the top of the water with soap. Childishly, he ran his fingers through it and tried to make pictures and symbols out of the foam as it separated against his hands. He had always amused himself in this way when he was relaxing in the hot water, willing it to soak into his bones and protect him from the winter's frigidness as it snuck unbidden into his home.
He watched a one blob of soak slipped into the shape of a heart before being ripped apart by the currents his ever shifting body was making in the water. Frowning a little, his hazel eyes dark, Uruha reached over and shut off the underwater fan. It was enough dreaming for one day, he figured. Swishing his arms through the water, he felt a little like a god as the bubbles dissolved under his touches and the feeling soothed him a little: in the real world outside his bath, sometimes he would like the control to be able to erase all the negatives away.
Gently, if a little dizzily from the hot water; he pulled himself from the bath and exhaled harshly into the cool air. Sometimes he wondered why it had to feel that good to take a bath in water so hot, but then afterwards make your body so overly exhausted. Drying off with the towel, he picked up the hair dryer and got rid of the moisture that the towel would not, and dressed in pyjamas. Although the day had not been so rough or as full of activities as it could have been given they were nearing touring-time, he was still ready for bed. It was as if his mind was more tired than his body was, though he was unsure of the reason.
Once leaving the bathroom, he found Aoi sitting at the kitchen table with the air conditioner on 25 and sitting across the table, blowing hot air for Aoi to bathe himself with. Aoi did not notice him as he was busily scribbling something into his black leather-bound date book and fiddling with a calculator. Uruha was glad that Aoi was ready to take care of that sort of stuff for them, because funds and planning often gave Uruha an incredible headache. He sat down next to Aoi and curled his arms around his lover's waist while feigning a small interest in whatever Aoi was jotting down.
Even though he had a calendar (or rather a date book) in front of him, Aoi automatically asked even while he lifted his eyes to check the top of the page, "it's the tenth today, right?"
Uruha nodded, though by the time he spoke, Aoi would have already determined the answer by looking at the pages of the book, "yup, four more days until Valentines."
Aoi made a small vibrating noise in the back of his throat, a typical Aoi-thinking-sound. "I guess if you don't count the 14th, it's only three days away."
"Rei-kun told me he's doing something special for Ruki-kun this year, something really special," Uruha felt the words slip from his mouth before he could really stop them, and then he found himself holding his breath in suspense. He knew and Aoi knew that he knew that Aoi was not into the holiday in the least and therefore would not care if Reita was doing something for Ruki.
"Is he really?" Aoi questioned for confirmation, but his voice held so much interest that Uruha dropped the subject immediately and did not respond to him. After a few minutes, Aoi continued: "I didn't think Reita was into senselessly wasting his money."
Uruha drew back his arms and got up from the table. "I'm going to sleep now," he murmured and he hoped the hurt in his voice was not obvious.
"I'll be there in a bit," Aoi responded lightly, but something in his tone had changed that Uruha in his desperation did not notice.
Going into their room and closing the door a little too firmly, Uruha turned on the air conditioner placed on the wall and slipped into the bed. He drew the covers up to his chin and shut his eyes, while trying to calm his breathing, but with a sharp intake of air his eyes began to sting. Before he even knew it, salty tears were sliding down his cheeks and making his pillow damp as he stifled his cries. He knew that gifts did not mean love, but surely never getting anything at all meant neglect? Aoi rarely celebrated Christmas with anything but a small cake and some alcohol, and usually the two of them were not alone, though sometimes they were. You do get things on your birthday, he thought to himself, yeah, but that's a requirement, he's gotta give me a present sometime in the year.
By the time Aoi made it to bed, he found Uruha deep in sleep and the thought of waking his lover vanished from his mind. He knew that Uruha was upset with him; they always seemed to fall out around the holidays, but this year was going to be the hardest, he felt, and he was going to try something different. Aoi was not a coward, he would never call himself a fearful person, but doing something new, for the first time, often made him nervous.
He curled his arms around Uruha and sunk into the warmth trapped around his lover and the blankets. "Sometimes," he whispered, "you have to trust me."
Uruha had never thought he could ever, ever hate Kai, or the manager Sakai, but there was some serious hate in his heart when his cell phone buzzed with a text message from Kai, carefully typed out as though Kai had all the time in the world: We managed to get some time in at a studio for a Valentines Day Interview, wear something cute, and meet up at our usual coffee shop, since I cannot trust any of you with the directions and getting there on time. Coffee shop at 12:35, understand?
"Yes, I understand you bloody little bastard," Uruha muttered under his breath as Aoi came into the room.
"Practice?" Aoi asked.
"Interview," Uruha replied still seething. Even if there was no chance of them doing something special anyway, Uruha still had wanted the day off to do as he pleased. Having practice destroyed all chances of Aoi ever doing something special for him; completely destroyed it.
Aoi chuckled a little, almost spitefully. "I hope this doesn't put a damper on Reita's plans."
Uruha stopped in mid-seethe and stared at his lover for a moment before the anger poured over him again. "Go to hell, Aoi." He had never thought he would ever slap Aoi across the face, but it seemed lots of things were happening this Valentines Day that he thought he would never do.
Turning, the sound of skin connecting with skin still ringing in the air, Uruha left the apartment and made his way on foot to the coffee shop. He was thankful he had been dressed before the text message, though it was not their usual interview costumes, and so he hoped instead of a camera it was just a microphone. If Aoi appeared in his car, Uruha could picture himself running off the side of the road and through the many alleys between buildings and finding a new way to get to the coffee shop. There was no way he was going to go anywhere near Aoi for a few days.
Exiting the apartment building, he half-jogged down the street. How could Aoi be so cold-hearted? Reita had been planning something that would have had Ruki on a high of happiness for days, from what it sounded like, and, from what Reita had told him, having an interview in the middle of the day was sure to ruin his friends' special time. How could Aoi laugh at something so serious? Surely Aoi could at least understand that some holidays meant a lot to some people, and that not everyone was as cold as him! It seemed, though, that Aoi had no idea what other people thought and only cared for his own feelings, even Uruha did not figure into the equation and that realization came like a kick to the groin-to put it vulgarly. As much as he did not want to ruin their relationship over such a small holiday, Uruha could not see himself being able to sleep in the same bed as such a cruel person.
Uruha became so wrapped up in his own thoughts that it was only when Kai came out of the coffee shop and yelled for him that he noticed that he had walked right passed the place and had been heading for a destination point that he had not been aware of. Turning back, Uruha entered the bustling coffee shop and sank down at the table Kai must have wrestled for to have empty.
Kai was immediately on his case. "What happened?"
"Nothing big," Uruha muttered, but the look in Kai's eyes-one of worry, concern, and annoyance-made him think otherwise about lying. "Aoi's a jerk."
"Oh, because it's Valentines Day," Kai nodded a little. "You know that's how Aoi is, so what did he do?"
Uruha mumbled something and rested his head on his arms. After some more prodding from Kai, he relented another small piece of information; "he made me angry so I hit him." He knew he sounded like a child, but the way Kai was hovering over him and bugging him was making him feel like one and so he did not care.
"You guys pick a wonderful time to have a fight. You're a mess; you'd better hope the stylists can take care of you. Where did you hit him?" Kai asked while crossing his arms.
Sometimes Kai was the type of person who Uruha could go to for comfort if he needed it, but when the drummer had his mind in the manager-setting he was impossible. He was at that point making Uruha feel as though their faces were more important than their emotions and he decided that he was going to mess around with Kai.
"In the face, really hard, several times: both his eyes are probably blackening and maybe his nose is broken," Uruha replied cheekily. Looking up, he was rewarded for his efforts by the sight of Kai's face paling and the nerve of his temple beginning to really twitch. He wondered if Kai had ever gone so far as to have a mental break down. In his head, he counted backwards from four.
Three. Two. One. . . zero!
"What!? We can't have an interview with him looking like he has been in a car accident!" Kai practically screamed and all the words ran together so that even the most advanced speakers would have had trouble understanding him. Uruha had had practice though, and he fought to keep from giggling. "I have to call off the interview, I am going to MURDER you, I have to… Where is Aoi?!"
"At home," Uruha answered softly. "Putting cover-up on his face, I'm sure."
In about three seconds, Kai was on the phone with Aoi and standing outside the coffee shop so he could hear. Uruha did not even think phones could connect that fast, but apparently Kai's could. With a small, slow exhale of breath, he hoped that practice would be cancelled. He texted Ruki and wrote that he should text Kai and tell Kai that he was sick with the stomach flu. After that he messaged Reita and told Reita to message Kai and tell him his car broke down. Something had to make the crazed drummer cancel practice.
To Uruha's joy, Kai came back after ten minutes of constantly answering his phone and calling people to tell him the most wondrous news he had heard in a week. "The interview is off."
Uruha managed to keep his cheer in check until he was out of Kai's ear-range. People on the street looked at him for a second before they carried on in their lives. As Uruha turned the corner of the road that led to his apartment, his pace slowed and his joy died down. He had to face Aoi, and he knew exactly what he was going to say, but saying it was going to be the hard part.
Well, he thought, at least Ruki will have a nice day.
Uruha did not sleep well that night. Thoughts of Aoi's expression as it saddened kept attacking him as he rolled over in a bed that was too big for one person, but there was something even bigger that was irritating him. If Aoi truly loved him, would he not have fought to stay when Uruha told him to leave? Would he not have apologized? Instead, he had gotten sad and he had left. It was not at all like Aoi to take something so big laying down unless, of course, Uruha was not that important of a deal to him anymore.
All too soon it was morning and Uruha sat up feeling as though he had not slept at all. Turning off the air conditioner, he put the remote back and changed into his layers of clothing to protect him from the frigidness. He checked his phone in case Kai had somehow managed to reschedule, though he did not think it would be possible for the day after. Luckily for Uruha, there were no messages on the phone, just emptiness. He realised that he had been expecting something, anything from Aoi, but there was nothing.
He wondered where Aoi had spent the night, if it had been in a hotel or maybe with Kai. Would Kai have let Aoi stay at his place? Of course he would, they were best friends, were they not? Maybe they were more than best friends, Uruha would never know. He did not consider himself to be the most observant person in the entire world, which was why when he noticed the bright red candle it surprised him.
It was laying on the floor with pieces of red wax sitting around it, and he supposed he had knocked it from the desk when he had slid the air conditioner remote back into place. Knitting his eyebrows together, he stooped and picked it up. The paper he had thought was the wrapper with the candle's brand name turned out to be a piece of white computer paper tied on with a small rubber band. He really needed to get his eyes checked again, he supposed.
Curiosity getting the better of him, he pulled off the rubber band and the paper fell into his hands off of the red candle, which did not seem to be the average Hundred Yen Shop sort. On the paper was Aoi's unique handwriting, the characters elegantly sketched out as if he had had a lot of time to do it in, and had not hurried scratched it after he had been told he was not welcome in Uruha's bed anymore. Narrowing his eyes and almost refusing to read the paper, Uruha grabbed for his glasses as he sat down on his bed and flicked on a light.
'Let's play a game; I need you to put the red candle in your favourite bag. When you've done that, do you remember where we had our first date? It was awhile ago, but we've eaten there lots of times.' The note said. There was no explanation as to why Uruha was supposed to remember where they had had their first date, but he did have the feeling he was supposed to go there.
It's a little late to suck up now, Aoi, Uruha thought spitefully as he grabbed his favourite bag and placed the candle in it. Fixing his hair in the slowest way possible to show he was in no hurry to do as Aoi asked him via the note, he said aloud: "but I guess I can entertain you."
He remembered where they had had their first date. Aoi had seemed romantic to him, back then.
Uruha walked up narrow stairs and came into a low ceiling Italian restaurant, a place that still allowed smoking and cooked the most exquisite foods imaginable. "Aoi?" He called, though the place had barely opened and it was only the main chef and he in the place and it was obviously that this was so.
The chef smiled and bowed to him, since Aoi and he often patronized the place. "Aoi-san left something here for you a few days ago, said you'd be around to pick it up, though I can't imagine why he couldn't give it to you himself." Uruha loved how the chef could carry on a conversation without a single other person around him.
"A few days ago?" Uruha echoed. Aoi had planned to play this game a few days ago? Before their fight? He carefully took a small white box from the chef and read what Aoi had etched across the top with black pen. "'Open please'. Why couldn't he just give this to me himself?" The chef shrugged a little and went back to his kitchen.
Gingerly he untied the white ribbon and opened the small box. There was another piece of paper with Aoi's writing which was resting on top of one of the most beautiful pendants Uruha had ever seen-except that he had seen it before in the magazine that he was looking through. That magazine required you to order your gift a week ahead for it to arrive on Valentines day, and if Aoi had given it to the chef a few days before, it pointed to the fact that Aoi had been planning the game more than a week and a few days beforehand.
Placing the box down, he scanned the note while holding the pendant close to his neck, anticipating putting it on. His anger towards Aoi was quickly fading. 'If you love the necklace, wear it. If you don't, put it back in the box and put it in the bag with the candle. Do you remember where we went for my birthday last year? Ruki got so drunk.'
Uruha smiled and ran out of the Italian restaurant. He knew for certain now that one of those notes was going to lead him to Aoi.
The sun was starting to set and Uruha was beyond exhausted. His favourite bag was full of wrappings and a new shirt that was too cold to wear, while his wrist glittered in the sunlight, his ears held new jewellery and the prettiest of rings was on his finger, but he had a weird feeling in his chest. He had not found Aoi, and out of all the shiny trinkets he had received, Aoi was the one he most wanted to find.
On the last note he had found, with a pair of gorgeous earrings he had to put in his bag since he had already gotten several earrings for his many holes and a gift certificate to get more holes, Aoi had written an explanation: 'I hope that you understand why I waited until the fifteenth, Uru-kun. A specific date has no meaning, I could have did this on the fourteenth or the twenty-ninth, which only happens once every four(?) years, but I decided to make the fifteenth our Valentines Day. I love you.' Aoi had not told him where to go next. Aoi had not appeared.
Feeling a little defeated that he had not 'won' the game, Uruha had caught a taxi to rest his tired legs and close his exhausted eyes. He wished he had gotten more of a sleep the night before. Uruha trudged passed Aoi's car without realising it after he had paid the taxi driver the funds required. Walking into his apartment and kicking off his shoes, he murmured wearily, "I'm home."
"Welcome back," Aoi responded from his perch on the couch.
Uruha jumped out of his skin and cried out in surprise: he had not been expecting a response. "Aoi-kun! Thank you!" He dropped his bag and snuggled up to him on the couch. "I'm sorry I hit you."
Aoi laughed out of surprised and pushed him away a little bit. "Why are you apologizing?"
"Because I hit you?" Uruha sat back with confusion. "And then kicked you out?"
"I hurt you," Aoi shrugged a little and pulled away from him. Uruha felt a familiar sinking feeling in his chest at how Aoi was acting. "Where are those candles that you found? Come sit down at the table."
It was around that time that Uruha noticed the delicious smell hovering around the kitchen. "You cooked, too?"
"Nah, I ordered it in from the Italian place. I figured you'd enjoy that better than my cooking." Aoi walked passed him and went through his bag, pulling out the two red candles-the second one Uruha having found further on in his adventure-and placed them in the candle holders sitting on the table. Lighting them, he dimmed the lights a little. "Hurry up and sit down," Aoi commanded while kissing his cheek. "I prepared the bath for you, too."
"No you didn't," Uruha laughed; Aoi never prepared the bath. Turning from the feast Aoi was starting to lay out on the table, Uruha disappeared into the bathroom. He shrieked with glee. "Chocolate fondue strawberries!"
"You have to eat supper first!" Aoi yelled through the walls.
"I want dessert first! Aoi!" Uruha shouted back, and for once he did not care if their neighbours heard them.
Turning around, he found himself caught in Aoi's dark stare, but the smile on his lover's face somehow made his deep eyes less intense. "After our bath, you'll have to model all the new stuff I got you."
Uruha giggled. "But you didn't get me any pants…or underwear…"
"Well, after all this, I think I deserve a Valentines Day present too." Aoi told him before starting a kiss that had Uruha's heart flipping and his brain fogging up.
Gripping at Aoi's shirt for some kind of support, Uruha breathlessly, between kisses, managed to whisper: "I love you, Aoi."