"Don't mind the smoke! Everything is 100% okay. I have everything under control."
Takaki stifled a laugh as soon as he heard Chinen shouting reassurances from the kitchen. He expected to smell smoke as soon as he stepped out of the bathroom after a shower. It happened every time Chinen insisted on cooking, usually needing one or two attempts before he produced something edible.
Takaki wasn't too concerned about the state of his kitchen, so he focused on rummaging around his closet for some comfortable clothes. The two of them had only arrived back at the apartment about twenty minutes ago and Chinen had immediately declared he was going to be responsible for dinner. Despite what the food usually did to his digestive system, Takaki liked when Chinen wanted to cook. Chinen was rarely unskilled at anything, so lately he had been determined to improve.
This new job as Takaki's bodyguard had been an adjustment for them both. After that mess with Yamada and Yuto and the yakuza, things were just getting back to some semblance of normal. And now they had time to focus on their relationship. A serious relationship was, as Chinen so elegantly called it, "uncharted waters" and that made Takaki nervous.
He grabbed a wrinkled old t-shirt from the closet and a pair of worn out jeans. It would be nice to slip into something other than the suits he'd been wearing to work lately. He looked forward to a night of relaxing without having to deal with company stuff and mercenary stuff. He could just be plain old Takaki Yuya for a few hours.
He walked to the kitchen, ready with a witty one-liner to tease Chinen. But he paused in the doorway, suddenly unable to find words. He was struck with a mix of emotions he didn't know how to identify.
Chinen staring intently at the pot on the stove, his eyebrows furrowed together in deep concentration, as if the contents of the pot would explode if he looked away even for a moment. On the counter rested his gun- the weapon he never dared part with- and the charred remains of his first cooking attempt of the night. It struck him how determined Chinen looked, how serious he was about something as simple as a meal.
He didn't really know much about what Chinen and Yamada had gone through when they rescued Yuto, but Takaki was sure it had affected Chinen somehow. He was not the same person he knew from the beginning of their relationship in New York.
The change wasn't bad though. It felt natural. And it made Takaki feel like he should start trying to make himself a better person too. He wanted that.
"How's the cooking going?" he finally interrupted the silence, dropping the joke for a sincere question instead.
"Almost there," Chinen answered. He didn't move his eyes from the stove, but Takaki could tell that the shift in his shoulders meant he was happy Takaki had asked.
Takaki grabbed two plates from the cabinet. "Looking forward to it," he said, keeping it simple so as to not distract Chinen's concentration.
He'd love the food no matter how it tasted.
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