first-name basis
by cimorene

Ryoma has said "Kunimitsu" hundreds of times to himself over the years, whispered in the dark, practised in front of the mirror, mouthed while he waits on the train platform. He's been practising more for weeks, too, but it still tasted funny in his mouth when he said it to Tezuka for the first time.

Tezuka isn't happy about it, but he still thinks it was worth it for the look on the Monkey King's face. He practically stomped out of the flat.

That is, Ryoma thinks it was worth it until he puts away his tennis magazine and goes into the bedroom and finds Tezuka kneeling on the floor, making up the spare futon with sheets and blankets. It's lying on the wall under the window, a careful foot from the wall, the same distance between Tezuka's side of the bed and his bedside table. A paperback book is lying neatly in that space with a bookmark sticking out of the top.

Ryoma stops in the door. Tezuka is wearing pyjama pants and no shirt and his back is long and sleek and makes Ryoma's mouth dry. He thinks that if Tezuka was planning to sleep on the floor the least he could have done was put on a shirt for once.

Tezuka doesn't move away when Ryoma brushes the back of his neck while he's brushing his teeth. In fact, he courteously hands Ryoma his toothbrush and moves to the side to make room for him at the sink.

But when he comes back into the bedroom after doing something with the laundry and sees that Ryoma has crawled under the blankets of the futon and is amusing himself with the back of Tezuka's book, he gets into the bed without comment, folds his glasses and flicks off the bedside light without reading anything, and leaves Ryoma to turn off the overhead lights.

Ryoma curls on his left side in the crisp clean sheets of the futon, then his right. He stares at the ceiling and worries the edge of the pillowcase between his fingers. When Karupin comes to sniff delicately at his nose, he throws an arm over him and shoos him under the blankets into the curve of Ryoma's arm against his chest. Even though this is usually Karupin's favourite place to sleep, he only stays still for a moment before squirming away. In the faint light around the edges of the blinds, Ryoma sees the pale flash of his fur as he leaps lightly onto the bed and curls up with Tezuka instead.

Ryoma sighs.

He probably lasts half an hour before it's all too much. Tezuka is a sound sleeper, and his back rises and falls regularly. Still, Ryoma is careful about pulling back the blanket without a rustle, creeping soundlessly across the floor and sliding into the bed behind Tezuka. He moves under the blanket gradually, until he is close enough to smell Tezuka's pillow and feel the heat of Tezuka's body in the bedclothes. Then he is finally able to fall asleep.

When he wakes up, the body heat is still there, trapped by the comforter tucked carefully under his chin, but the space next to him is empty. Ryoma rolls over, eyes going to the bathroom door, but it is ajar and the light is off. Tezuka is on the futon.

So is Karupin.

Ryoma sits up and watches Tezuka breathe for a minute. There isn't very much light in the room. Tezuka replaced his lightweight curtains with heavy blinds weeks ago, because Ryoma likes to oversleep. His eyes are adjusted to the dark now, though, and he is accustomed to the shape of Tezuka under the blankets. That dark shadow is his face, turned to the pillow; the light is falling on his wrists where they show above the top of the blanket. That curve is his shoulder and that one is his hip. His legs are folded neatly, and Karupin is curled in the crook of his waist like in a hammock, purring loudly enough for Ryoma to hear across the room.

The light falls on Tezuka's hair, highlighting and making it look darker than it is.

He has to go closer to make out Tezuka's face, the sleeping expression Ryoma has come to love which removes years from his age. With his glasses gone, eyelashes on the still-soft curve of his cheek, he looks like a teenager again. Ryoma doesn't touch him, though; that might wake him. He crawls behind him and burrows under the blanket again.

You'll have to run farther than that to get away from me, buchou. Tezuka has tried to before. Ryoma is surprised he hasn't realised the truth yet. Around the world wouldn't be far enough.

Ryoma wakes up before Tezuka leaves the bed again. He is sure Tezuka is awake, although he doesn't move much, or turn to face Ryoma, who is too sleepy to say anything, or stir very far. He opens his eyes, though, and the tiny rustle as Tezuka shifts position is loud. Finally he gets up and Ryoma closes his eyes hastily. Tezuka's weight lingers on the edge of the futon for a moment, unmoving, and then there is a tiny tickle on his scalp like something brushing through his hair, a breath of air in his face like movement.

It will be all right, Ryoma thinks to himself. Tezuka runs sometimes, but it is only ever because he wants Ryoma to overtake him.

He drifts in and out of sleep for a while, feeling heavy and warm, before he realises that long minutes have passed, and while the bathroom door is still shut almost completely, the nightlight has been turned off.

Tezuka is lying on the floor between the washing machine and the sink, curled up on a pile of dirty laundry from the hamper. He doesn't open his eyes. He is uncovered and the curved lines of his shoulders, the planes of his chest, are beautiful. The little light from the bedroom catches on his forearm, his collarbone. He looks vulnerable.

Ryoma swallows before he speaks. "Ne, buchou," he whispers. Tezuka's eyes open, but Ryoma knows he can't see him clearly from so far away without his glasses. "Do you at least want your blanket?"

Tezuka rubs his eyes with the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and when he props himself up on one elbow Ryoma can see that Karupin was curled up behind him. Karupin protests the move with a little mewl. Ryoma pushes the door open wider to see Tezuka better, and Tezuka winces a little.

His voice is rough and sleep-deepened when he finally speaks. "Ryoma."

A little chill runs down Ryoma's spine at the sound of his name, the weight of the syllables on buchou's tongue. His exasperation and worry fade a little, but he stays stubbornly silent.

Finally Tezuka says "Thank you," and Ryoma walks over to the bed and drags the comforter off with one sharp yank. He slips into the bathroom, which is difficult to do because Tezuka, stretched out, fills almost the whole space from wall to wall. But he kneels and spreads the armful of blanket over Tezuka, avoiding eye contact, while Tezuka sits still and silent and finally leans back into his bed of laundry. When he is finished, Ryoma turns around and pushes the door shut from the inside, plunging the room into unrelieved darkness. He feels Tezuka's elbow and knee carefully and lowers himself gingerly to the floor. Even though he is on top of the edge of the comforter, he can feel the cold of the tile floor, since Tezuka is lying on most of the laundry.

The silence from behind his shoulder is speaking. Ryoma wants to shift to take some of the pressure of the tiles off his shoulder, but he knows it will be uncomfortable no matter how he lies here, so he counts his breaths until they start to even out.

He is almost asleep when he feels arms slipping under him. Tezuka doesn't say a word as he picks Ryoma up and carries him back into the bedroom cradled against his chest. He doesn't just set Ryoma on the bed, as he's done other times he carried him to bed; he sits down with Ryoma still in his arms and stretches out without putting him down, and Ryoma shifts a little to get the comforter out from between them.

This time he falls asleep mostly on top of Tezuka, and the heat of buchou's body erases all the lingering cold of the tiles.