In the early days, Yoite spent all of his non-assignment time crouched in the corner of Yukimi's living room. Hours would pass, and Yukimi would return from his surface job and find that Yoite hadn't moved an inch since he'd left.
"Don't you get bored? Find something to do, you're wasting your time. Tch!"
All Yoite had was time.
When Yukimi was there- typing, cooking, cleaning, nodding off in his computer chair and about to fall over- Yoite spend the hours watching. He'd track the man's hand as it brushed through his hair, observe the way he hunched his shoulders tensely, follow him with his eyes as he crossed the room with soft, firm footfalls. Yoite was sure Yukimi could sense his staring- he was a ninja, after all- but he never commented.
Yoite studied Yukimi. He'd never had the chance to watch a man closely before. His father had never been home and he wasn't often allowed outside. When Hattori took him in, all the nurses treating him had been female, and he had trained alone. So, he paid close attention to Yukimi's movements and practiced mimicking them in the dark.
It was time well spent.
If he was ever going to make the hesitant questions and backward glances stop, he'd have to pass as something. Yoite didn't know what he was, and in the early days, Yukimi was the closest example of "normal" that he had.
Yoite stared at the soft, square, spongy things stacked in front of him.
"Uh, what exactly are these?" Yukimi asked, poking his portion with a fork.
Gau shot him a dirty look. "They're waffles, of course. Haven't you ever had them?"
Raikou was already delicately dissecting his waffles into smaller squares, eating silently.
Yukimi leaned back on his palms. "I don't like Western food that much."
Brandishing a spatula, Gau growled. "Well, they're not for you anyway! I made them for Yoite-kun's birthday."
Yoite looked up from his food. Birthday? Yoite himself didn't even know for sure when exactly he'd been born.
It'd never been celebrated before.
Gau caught Yoite's heavy gaze and flushed. "You don't- you don't have to eat them if you don't want to! I just wanted to try out the new iron I bought and there's no point in only making enough batter for two people! And your file said today was your birthday, so-" He made a huffing noise and folded his arms, eyes directed determinedly at Yukimi's note-covered wall.
Raikou swallowed, then said softly, "They're good."
Gau flushed darker.
Yoite sat and tried to remember his age. Was he turning sixteen, or had he already been that old? Maybe he was already eighteen and he hadn't even noticed.
Yukimi took a bite of his waffle and frowned in distaste. Setting his fork aside, he pushed his plate over to Yoite before standing and stretching. "Thank for breakfast, but I'm not that hungry." He paused, then looked down at Yoite and rubbed the back of his neck. "Happy Birthday."
Yoite stabbed his fork through the top waffle and bit a large chunk out of it.
It was his first.
Yoite knew three kinds of silence.
One: the sound that reached his ears too often lately. Yoite could see their mouths move and feel the vibrations in the air, but he did not know what was being said, except for the barest phrases.
Lip reading became an essential skill.
Two: the noise Yukimi made when he was worried. Yukimi's hand would clutch his temple and he'd stare down at Yoite and open his mouth, but words always seem to fail him. Instead, he would just growl something then point to the food on his plate, or the medicine on the counter, or the couch he was always trying to get him to sleep on. Yoite wished he knew what the man was going to say, but he thought he had a pretty good idea, based upon the way Yukimi would kneel down and check his temperature when he thought Yoite was finally drifting off.
Yoite always tried his hardest not to lean into the kind touch.
Three: the gift Miharu had given him. Yoite waited and waited for the questions to come from Miharu's lips. He knew exactly what they would be, knew the answers to the wondering in Miharu's eyes. But Miharu always bowed his head and looked away, somehow understanding that Yoite couldn't bear to speak of any of it.
That silence meant more to him than the whole world, and he feared what would happen should he break it.
Yukimi must've figured out that he couldn't hear anything over the phone, because he always messaged Yoite instead.
Yoite squinted at the tiny screen. This was the ninth. He almost pressed the button that would let him read it, but thought better of it and flipped the cover closed. He clenched the small phone to his chest, and wondered when Miharu would be back with the food.
Yoite knew that Yukimi was no doubt frustrated by Yoite's ignoring him. But he couldn't reply to the messages if he didn't read them, and Yoite didn't think he could bear to see what the text had to say.
He regretted accepting the cell phone. This tangible proof that Yukimi was concerned... he didn't know what to do with it.
Yoite never would've expected that Yukimi knew how to cook. It seemed too... domestic of a chore for the older ninja to perform. Not that Yukimi cooked often- usually his time was spent either typing on his computer or out on assignment, whether it be for the surface world or not- and when he did, he sped through the process, skipping steps and turning up the temperature haphazardly. But the ending product was always good, and the apartment would smell like food for the rest of the day.
Yoite liked it when Yukimi cooked. He was surprised to find that he didn't even mind that much when Yukimi made him help.
"Oi, don't just sit there like some big rock, get over here and chop these carrots."
Yoite rose wordlessly and cast a glance at the pile of vegetables waiting for his knife. He shed his gloves- while Yukimi indulged nearly all of his habits, Yoite had quickly learned that he was not allowed to prepare food with his gloves on- and washed his hands, ignoring the discoloration that had begun at his fingertips.
Yoite had no idea what they were cooking, but whatever Yukimi was frying on the stove smelled nice.
Yoite's step-mother had always told him that he wasn't allowed to cook- his hands were to dirty, and it wasn't like Yoite was going to get to eat any of it anyway.
Yukimi always demanded that he helped.
Yoite picked up the first carrot and got lost in the chopping and the surreality of it all.