Title: Between the Cracks
Disclaimer: Nope, I still wouldn’t want Panic Age even if it were mine.
Rating: R to be on the safe side
Pairings: Eiji/Jay, hinted Eiji → Daiki (one sided)
Warnings: non-explicit m/m sex and mentions of sex, BL type stuff, kissing and whatnot, angst, mind-fuckery, language
Author’s Note: This is a companion to Hate (I don’t know how well it stands on its own...), and takes place maybe a few weeks after it. This pairing is so messed up, and yet, I love it. Ahaha.
Moriyama’s return to the world of the living and subsequent reuniting with his former friends was almost definitely overwhelming for all parties involved, but none more so than for Jay. At least, Jay was certain that this was the case, because while, Ichiban’s and Wasshi-Wasshi’s fathers had been abandoned as well, and while his own father had practically fallen apart because of Moriyama, Jay had been raised, had spent his entire life with his world revolving around Moriyama. There had never been anything prior, anything more important in Jay’s life than Moriyama, and so whatever Moriyama did, certainly, Jay was the person most impacted by it. Of this, Jay was absolutely positive, and though he did not share this private opinion with anyone, least of all his father, who knew nothing of his visit with Moriyama after the initial venture with his friends.
Jay hadn’t been sure how he had felt about Moriyama’s return, honestly, in the first place. He knew it was a good thing for all parties involved, he knew it was what they had strove and struggled for in their initial venture into the onsen, he knew it was certainly what would make all of their fathers happy, but he couldn’t help but feel some reservations to such a sudden and dramatic change. After all, last time, the consequences were catastrophic, who knew what would happen when Moriyama rocked the boat again? But after his second visit to the onsen and the unsuspected development in his relationship with Moriyama that followed, some of his worries couldn’t help but be quelled and he couldn’t help but be coaxed into believing that Moriyama was capable of winning anyone over and making everything better, regardless of all logic.
And so, it was with great anticipation and excitement that Jay ushered his father into Moriyama’s apartment for their first meeting in twenty years-- once Jay’s father knew of Moriyama’s whereabouts, it ruled out the possibility of Jay being able to see him alone again, and, thus foiled and with no other option, Jay began to plan his father’s and Moriyama’s reunion. Sure, it would suck not to be able to be alone with Moriyama unchaperoned, but Jay was confident that he could coax his father into letting him stay a little longer or something... after all, if wasn’t like his father and Moriyama were going to do much together besides talk, right? Of course, it wasn’t that he didn’t want his father to be happy-- if he could rekindle his friendship with Moriyama or whatever, it would be great, but after years of living under the shadow of his father’s misery, Jay had recently come to the conclusion that he deserved to be able to put his own love first.
After all, that’s what it was, what he felt for Moriyama now, he was certain-- all of the hatred that had been built on his father’s depression rather than his own knowledge of Moriyama had been wiped away, or else transformed, because now he could think of nothing but Moriyama. After that first (only) night together, Moriyama had been so kind to him, had held him close and assured him that they would definitely see one another again, and Jay had clung to those words like his life depended on them, like they were the be all and end all of his existence, because frankly, they were. It was an easy change, to go from hating Moriyama with every inch of his being to loving him with all of his heart for every second of the day, and so he spent his days counting down the days until he would finally be with Moriyama again and his nights dreaming of their all-too-distant reunion until finally, the day came when Jay’s father was to visit Moriyama in his new Tokyo apartment only a few stations from theirs.
But even the six-minute train ride and the ten minute walk felt like eternities, and by the time his father was ringing Moriyama’s doorbell, Jay’s heart was racing in his chest, beating so loudly he was sure his father must be able to hear it, and even the few seconds it took for Moriyama to answer felt like ages. But then finally, he was there, handsome and slick as ever, an Jay practically felt like he would faint simply upon seeing him. To his great delight, Moriyama acknowledged him first, giving him that same charming smile and a nod, Jay’s name rolling easily off his tongue in a way Jay knew was special, even if no one else would be able to tell. It was only then that Moriyama turned to his father, and an expression Jay couldn’t read came over his face, making him look tired, older. “...Daiki-chan,” he addressed at length, before stepping aside and holding the door open. “Please, come in.”
Jay was still puzzling over the nickname as he and his father seated themselves on Moriyama’s sofa, Moriyama easing into a chair across from them and immediately meeting eyes with Jay’s father again. Jay was slightly miffed but didn’t make a show of it; after all, this reunion was bound to be tough on both of them, and so he followed Moriyama’s gaze to realize his father was sitting stiffly beside him, his face flushed and hands gripping the fabric of his pants as if his life depended on it. Jay hadn’t noticed before now just how tense he was (hadn’t noticed much of anything besides his own impatience to be reunited with the man he loved), but it was surprising, even in this man who Jay had never known to be anything but an emotional wreck. Heavy silence hung in the air for a moment before Moriyama addressed Jay’s father again, leaning forward a little to meet his eyes, his voice quiet, gentle as he repeated, “Daiki-chan.”
Jay’s father recoiled a little at the name, but licked his lips and inclined his head slightly. “...Eiji.” The name seemed to put Moriyama a little more at ease, and Jay was again reminded of the devastation his father must have gone through when Moriyama left, because even that small smile, even the slight gleam of relief in his eyes was so beautiful.
They eased their way into a conversation of sorts, tense and stiff as it is, and Jay remained silent simply because he was terrified that if he interjected, he’d break something that was in the process of healing and send his father into another alcoholic spiral of depression. He was impatient to be alone with Moriyama, true, but it wasn’t that he didn’t care for his father anymore, either, and so he held his breath and waited and hoped that somehow, they’d be able to fix even a fraction of what was so broken down inside of his father for all of Jay’s life.
The conversation wasn’t easy or natural by any matter of means, but once it started, it got a little smoother, and by the end, Jay had hope, even, that this might have been a good thing, that this just might have been able to push his father back onto his feet. But then Moriyama leaned a little too far forward, enough to span the distance between the two of them, and placed a hand on Jay’s father’s knee, and said “Daiki-chan--” just so, and Jay’s father recoiled as if he’d been burned and caught Moriyama’s hand, peeling it back not too quickly but without hesitation, either. “Eiji, don’t,” he shot back, and Moriyama seemed to realize what this meant and nodded, resigning himself back again with an expression that somehow put Jay just a little on edge for reasons he couldn’t understand.
And that was the end of the first meeting. Moriyama led them to the door, staring almost too intently after Jay’s father as he stepped out into the evening. “I’d like to see you again,” he commented, his voice, low, as if anticipating rejection, but Jay’s father nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “Yeah,” he agreed, then turned to Jay, waiting for him to follow.
But this was where Jay was ready to be selfish again, and, licking his lips and crossing his fingers behind his back, he shifted, hovering beside Moriyama in the doorway. “I offered to help Moriyama-san unpack and stuff,” he replied, glancing to Moriyama and hoping that he understood, because, of course, he had offered nothing of the sort. He was terrified that his lie was obvious, but, of course, Moriyama was slick as ever and, after meeting Jay’s eyes a moment, turned back to Jay’s father and nods. “If it’s all right with you, Daiki-chan.”
Jay’s father inspected both of them a moment, and Jay held his breath, but sure enough, he shrugged and nodded before heading off on his own. Once he was safely out of sight, Jay couldn’t help but break out into a nervous smile, letting the door fall shut and turning to Moriyama expectantly, because god, this was what he had been waiting for for far, far too long now.
Unsurprisingly, he stayed the night, and Jay was certain no night in his life had ever gone by so quickly. Almost as soon as the door was closed behind them, Moriyama was on him, pressing him against the door and kissing him as if the world were ending. And Jay certainly wasn’t complaining, not after such a long wait, and not when Moriyama was the only person he ever thought about. Throughout the course of the night, he let Moriyama fuck him into the couch, the kitchen counter, and braced against the bathroom wall before crawling into bed with him in the early hours of the morning and going yet again. By the time Jay found himself on the first train back home in the morning, he was fairly certain he hadn’t gotten any sleep at all, and the only thing he regretted was that he couldn’t stay longer, but as it was, he was terrified his father would ask why he hadn’t come home the night before.
Luckily, his father seemed to have gone home and hit the liquor cabinet first thing, because the only one to greet him upon his return to their dark apartment was Lucky Jr., who seemed to smell something odd on him but was simply happy to see him home. Back in the safety of his own bed, fighting off sleep to cling to the memory of the night before, Jay couldn’t help but be bothered by the nagging worry that maybe Moriyama had fucked up, and maybe his father would keep them apart after this. But in the end, Jay was a tensai magician and no one was going to keep him from the man he loved, and with that self assurance, he drifted off into a heavy sleep until the sound of his father tripping over one of the various empty bottles strewn about the tiny apartment and swearing loudly woke him a few hours later.
But by some miracle, Jay was saved the effort of having to learn teleportation, because Jay’s father, it seemed, was keen on seeing Moriyama again, after all. It sucked because Jay was forced to help rid the apartment of old newspapers and empty beer bottles and the clutter accumulated from twenty years of not caring, but nothing could get him down when the he had the idea of an approaching dinner with Moriyama to cling to. Strangely, Jay’s father seemed almost as enthusiastic about it as Jay, enough so, even, to take down the various newspaper clippings about Moriyama’s short-lived post-*pnish* career that had been pinned to various surfaces of the apartment. It was a change to something Jay had lived with his entire life, and seeing their little dump of a home cleaned up as if it were actually something respectable was almost bizarre, surreal. But it was for Moriyama’s sake, and, of course, anything for Moriyama was good, and so Jay cleaned with more zeal than he had put into much of anything else in his life as a way to fill the time before he would be reunited again with Moriyama.
The dinner, itself, was, fantastically a success. There were a few rough patches, like when Moriyama would accidentally brush against Jay’s father, causing a tense silence to ensue, or the fact that Lucky Jr. seemed more inclined to believe Moriyama was a burglar than a guest and would growl at him at random intervals, but besides that, everything went as planned. Even Jay’s personal plans, which included getting Moriyama alone before the evening was over, were miraculously pulled off without a hitch when his father was forced to run to the konbini to pick up some necessary dinner ingredient partway through his cooking excursion.
And so, it seemed, things were perfect. Slowly but surely, Jay’s father was coming out of his funk, was spending less of his time drinking and moping and more of his time outside of work seeing Moriyama, and Jay, too, managed to get alone time with practically the only person he cared about anymore. About twice a week, Moriyama came over for dinner at their apartment, and it was especially during these times that Jay saw his father open up, saw some of the years of suffering fall away to reveal hints and pieces of the man Jay had seen in Moriyama’s photo album. It was a beautiful thing, honestly, when, all of his life, Jay had never seen his father look this happy, and yet somehow... Jay couldn’t bring himself to be happy about it.
It wasn’t that he wanted his father to be unhappy, of course! But when he father was around, he couldn’t be with Moriyama the way he wanted to be, couldn’t show any sign of affection, any hint of the fact that their relationship was anything more than that of acquaintances. After all, Jay’s father couldn’t know the nature of their relationship, not when his own opinion of Moriyama seemed so fragile and not when Jay was absolutely positive he wouldn’t take it positively. He didn’t like keeping secrets from his father, of course, but he couldn’t take it if his father disallowed him from seeing Moriyama, if his father had a fit and sent Moriyama away again. And so, it remained a secret, keeping them constantly on their toes and restricting their private interaction to stolen kisses behind Jay’s father’s back and quick exchanges behind closed doors and leaving Jay with bite marks along his fingers from keeping himself quiet. But it was worth it, it was all worth it to be with Moriyama, and Jay was content to keep this charade up forever if they had to.
But as time went on, Jay was horrified to discover, it was getting harder and harder to find alone time with Moriyama when Jay’s father was taking it all for himself. More and more over the course of weeks, months, Jay’s father planned private lunches, coffee dates, dinners, even, with Moriyama away from home, leaving Jay alone and bitterly jealous of his own father. It wasn’t, of course, that he suspected anything was going on, but why should his father get all of Moriyama’s time when, already, his presence was keeping Jay from really being with the man he loved? Jay, it seemed, was being hemmed out of Moriyama’s life, and that he could not take, not after years and years of suffering under the delusion of hating Moriyama, not after everything he had gone through. And so, during the times that they were together, Jay strove even harder to get Moriyama’s attention than he ever had before, leaving more shirt buttons undone and winking at the right times and eating as suggestively as possibly and slipping as many double-entendres into his speech as the situation would allow. It was dangerous, yes, there was always the chance that his father would pick up on it, but somehow, feeling slighted and deprived, Jay couldn’t bring himself to care, couldn’t stop himself from doing anything and everything that might get him closer to Moriyama.
Luckily, it seemed, Moriyama didn’t want him any less, and almost especially after the times he had been out with Jay’s father, he was eager as Jay was to be together in private. And though he was apparently a little more hesitant to get caught than Jay’s own brazen disregard to the risks of their affair, he was still perfectly willing to meet Jay in the bathroom while Jay’s father was busy in the kitchen, or to follow Jay back to his bedroom on the pretense of helping him with his homework. And though he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea at first, he relented and allowed Jay to come to his apartment before going home after school on days when Moriayama wasn’t busy, a fact that made Jay feel smug and victorious, like he’d somehow bested his father in closeness to Moriyama.
And so they went on this way, with Moriyama spending his days and evenings with Jay’s father and Jay forcing himself in between the cracks. It wasn’t easy-- it was stressful, even, at times, but no matter how much time he got, no matter how successful he was, Jay still felt starved for Moriyama’s attention, he still wanted more, and so he couldn’t give up, he couldn’t fall back. Even when, one day, while Moriyama was asleep, Jay found an old photo in a drawer that made it all too clear that, back in the old days, Jay’s father and Moriyama were much more than just friends, Jay was horrified only because it meant his competition was real. Rather than confronting Moriyama, rather than addressing the fact that he was in love with his father’s ex-lover, he simply returned the photo to where he found it and silently resolved not to back down, not to lose to his father, his competition for Moriyama’s affections.
It seemed ridiculous, thinking back now, to his childhood hatred of Moriyama for his father’s behalf. Gone now were the days of sympathy for the man who never had the time to love him in his childhood; Jay’s father, it seemed to Jay, simply didn’t know how keep Moriyama happy. But that was fine with Jay, because he wasn’t going to give up. He lost his childhood, he lost any chance at happiness for seventeen years to his father, he wasn’t going to lose Moriyama, too.