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not honey, not sugar

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i. babe.

Sakon raised his head as the footsteps thumped near, the familiar footfalls clicking in his brain before he even lifted his head.

"Hey, babe!" Zenkichi walked steadily, one hand pushing two cups of coffee against his pecs, the other waving wobbly as he tried keeping the coffee secured to his chest.

Sakon ducked his head, feeling blush already high on his cheeks, the happy embarrassment forming a quivering expression across his face. Sakon raised a hand and waved back, lifting his head and attempting to ignore the looks from passerby. Such affection wasn't normal, and it definitely wasn't normalized in Japan -- let alone with two men. Still, they didn't mind the stares. After all, most were curious and not judgmental, merely criticizing the loudness of Zenkichi's voice and the overt affection.

But Sakon enjoyed it, so they shrugged off the looks. 

"You're here early, Zenkichi-san."

 

 

ii. honey. 

"Yeah, honey, I wanted to get here soon cuz' that one matcha drink you like sells out every time," Zenkichi paused, then looked down, "Oh,"

Sakon responded with his meek hum cut off, sputtering, then nearly coughing up the coffee that definitely went down the wrong way for apparent reasons. Grabbing a handkerchief -- one kept to keep Ukon clean --- from his pocket, he dabbed away the tiny specks and swallowed down the pain. 

"Ah, not honey?" Zenkichi asked, beaming dampered for a split second. 

When did Zenkichi get so good at noticing everything? The only thing that prevented spontaneous combustion was the thumb pressing into his knee, but whatever help that does faded away with a tender, calming smile. Sakon wasn't a china doll, but Zenkichi wasn't about to treat him rough. Then again, Sakon was his boyfriend, and Zenkichi was just the nice type of guy. 

"Anything is fine, Zenkichi-san..."

And it was and wasn't. Of all the things to try and annihilate him, this would be his demise. 

 

 

iii. sugar.

They conversed, chatter subdued and little as they watched people walk by. Children holding their mothers, fathers talking with their kin, ladies with their companions, and college students scrambling to get work done. Zenkichi would've been one of them, except he was responsible, even if Ukon denied it. Seriously, there was a difference between being forgetful and being irresponsible. 

The clock ticked on the wall. Sakon gestured to the clock and laughed softly, "That's when you'd usually come in," 

"Hey! I usually get lost," Zenkichi said, but Sakon already knew that.

"But you live here." It wasn't like Sakon could talk either, he couldn't even drive, and he relied on Ukon -- lord knows how the puppet remembered -- to get everywhere. Sakon stared at the box at his feet under the table, shielded away from the elements and far enough away from their cups. 

"It happens." Zenkichi continued, "But I didn't get lost when I took y'all to Kyoto. I dunno; I get preoccupied a lot.

For someone so smart he was incredibly forgetful, the both of them actually, so Sakon merely nodded.

Zenkichi perked up, and Sakon looked around.

"Oh, sugar."

"—Y-yes?"

"Baby, I meant this." The tiny packets of sugar made the sound of pencils dragging against paper as he shook the packets. 

"O-oh.." Sakon muttered, mortified.

Shaking off the mistake, Sakon grabbed a few of the packets, extending a hand and sliding them to the other side. Sakon liked his drinks plain and without sugar; Zenkichi liked his junky and sweet and delicious at an absolute contrast to his food — and that they could agree on. Often, everyone expected the opposite, Zenkichi to be the one to like 'plain black' and Sakon to love the 'high-fat double pump double-cappuccino macchiatto', but with the way Sakon was raised, well, he couldn't help enjoying the 'bland' drinks. 

 

iv. pretty. 

"Thanks, pretty."

Sakon stayed blushing, the mechanics of such a pretty flush and all quite confusing. Really, he rose rosy for no real reason half the time, without Ukon of course; then when he was with Ukon nothing would even bother him. Hell, he was even bold. 

Zenkichi watched Sakon look away. Alright, that was a score out. Or was it home run? As Zenkichi thought, Sakon spoke. 

"You don't use nicknames often," 

Zenkichi had called him babe once or twice, love once, and of all the things, pumpkin. For some odd reason, one he'd only talk with Ukon about, it made him feel all mush hearing pumpkin. The weight of nicknames didn't frighten him; after all, he wanted that next step, the next progression --- and such a little thing as nicknames felt like progress. Or that was over-analysis and he liked the way Zenkichi sounded saying his name, in that foreign, couple-ish way he was getting accustomed to. Babe was nice, too. 

"I was talking to Shiho and she said they're really romantic, so I thought you'd like 'em." Zenkichi's lopsided smile grew.

"They are,"

"So, since we don't see each other often, I figured why not? I wanna be more romantic for you." Zenkichi mulled, and Sakon laughed. Zenkichi was fine how he was, but the concern made Sakon happy. 

To say the least, he was romantic enough.

"Zenkichi-san... You're always romantic." Not conventionally or all the time, but it was enough to simply be near him. Zenkichi did the whole roses and kisses routine, then took him on his motorcycle and gave him ancient ningyou-joururi books— and that was more than enough. 

 

 

v. beloved.

"But," 

Sakon leaned forward with a not-so calculated gaze. He felt Ukon's energy running through his fingers as he stretched a hand to thrum fingers against the soft fabric of his long-sleeves. Zenkichi blinked-- confused at the sudden contact because Sakon didn't really initiate -- and smiled wider. Nonetheless, he was glad. 

His confusion manifested in grabbing Sakon's hand, waiting for him to speak as he ran a thumb down the dip of his thumb. Sakon swallowed, imagining his own voice saying the same nicknames, then Zenkichi's voice saying the same. 

He blushed softly. 

"If you like them," Sakon inhaled, then exhaled, "then how is 'b-beloved?'"