Disclaimer: Panic Age isn't mine, thank you.
Pairing: Moriyama Eiji/Sano Jay
Warnings: all the shit that was wrong with the first three! XD; BL, age difference, some kissing and such business, bad words, angst
Author's Note: This is a followup to Hate, Between the Cracks, and All or Nothing. I wanted to get this chain of fics to a semi happier place before I went off to Western Mode this weekend, so... I managed it, yay! XD; Somehow, Mizuki is good at usurping the "main character" slot in everything he's in...
They don't talk very much anymore, and when they do, it's almost so unpleasant that Daiki wishes they weren't talking at all. He hates it, he hates the fact that he can't converse with his own son, he hates that he knows every conversation is going to end poorly, and yet he can't help from starting anyway, with the stupid hope that somehow, someday, it's going to get better.
However, when he sees Jay packing his bags just a few days after his high school graduation, Daiki's breath catches in his throat and he speaks without thinking. "What are you doing?"
Jay doesn't look up at him. They haven't met eyes, not really, Daiki thinks, in months. "Packing."
"Why?" Daiki's voice trembles, betraying the worry that's beginning to seep into his veins. "Where are you going?"
Jay hesitates a moment, tucking a crumpled shirt into the corner of his suitcase, before replying, "Osaka."
Daiki visibly flinches at the city he was all too afraid to hear. "You're making a mistake--" he begins to blurt, but cuts himself off, knowing it's no good. Still, his chest feels as if it might burst, and he stares at his feet before trying again, his voice weak. "Don't go running to him, please, Jay."
Jay tenses but finishes packing meticulously before closing the case. "If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have to," he replies tersely, setting the bag aside and closing the closet door, clearly avoiding acknowledging Daiki if he can help it. "I love him. You can't stop me."
Daiki grips the door frame for fear that his knees are going to give out at the thought of losing his only child more than he already has. "Please, Jay," he manages, his voice thick and his throat tight as he fights back tears. "Please don't leave me."
Jay says nothing, but picks up his bags and strides out the door, and that's the last Daiki sees of him.
It's probably for the best that Eiji doesn't get out much anymore. Ever since moving to Osaka , ever since running away from the mess he'd made of everything back in Tokyo, he rarely leaves his apartment. He's managed a job as a weekly writer for a local magazine, which, on top of the money he gets monthly from ownership of the onsen, is enough, but it also allows him to work from home, so that he never has to show his face again to the world when all he wants is to hide away in shame. After all, what point is there anymore, when he's lost the only thing he wanted, when, in his own stupidity, he broke apart the only thing he loved. He can barely face himself in the mirror anymore, not to mention society, and so, for the most part, he doesn't.
Naturally, since he doesn't go out, he doesn't get many guests, either, and he's understandably confused when, one day, the doorbell alerts him that he has a visitor. He isn't expecting any packages, and so he doesn't plan on answering, but then there's a frantic knock, followed by another, and then finally a hesitant voice appealing to him, "Moriyama-san... it's me..." And god, Eiji wishes he didn't recognize that voice, but before he can even think about it he's pulling the door open, and, sure enough, there's Jay with three suitcases, looking pathetically tired and yet obviously thrilled to see Eiji. It's like a slap in the face, and Eiji isn't quite sure how to respond; he'd run away from his problems in Tokyo, but, it seemed, his problems have come running after him.
When an awkward silence hangs between them for a moment, Jay smiles up at him, trying again. "I've come to be with you, Moriyama-san."
Eiji really, really hopes that doesn't mean what he thinks it means. However, "You... what?" is all he can manage, looking at Jay in disbelief. He feels bad when the boy's smile falters slightly, but he can't help it, he can't believe that he's caused yet another aspect of Daiki's life to fall apart.
"I graduated," Jay explains hurriedly, as if he's sure Eiji will be more enthusiastic when he understands the situation. "I came here to be with you-- I'll get a job, and everything--I don't have to stay in Tokyo anymore, so we can be together. Don't you understand, Moriyama-san?" He's almost overeager, like a puppy, and Eiji hates to break reality to him, but it's not as if he can keep pretending that everything's fine when it's clearly not.
"No, Jay," he responds at length, shaking his head slowly and licking his lips. "It's over. Go back to your father."
Confusion flashes over Jay's features before it's replaced by anger. "No-- I won't!" he bursts, grasping Eiji's wrist. "Don't you get it? I'm done with him! I just want to be with you!"
But, "You can't-- we can't," Eiji insists. He never had enough willpower to be the adult before, but for god's sake, even if he'd already ruined everything, he could do it for Daiki's sake now. "Go home, Jay."
Jay's face falls and he looks down at his feet, relinquishing Eiji's arm only wring his own hands. "I don't have any money... I don't have a ticket home either." Looking up at Eiji again, he suddenly seems even more pathetic than he did at first, and much more a child than Eiji had ever seen him before as he asks, "Can't I at least stay...?"
But if he stays, Eiji knows, it will be all downhill from there, and so he shakes his head solemnly. "I'm sorry, Jay," he says quietly before turning his back and going inside, closing the door, and he doesn't leave his apartment for the rest of the day for fear that Jay is still there and his will will break.
Mizuki sometimes misses living in Tokyo. Certainly, he's grateful to have a role in such a successful drama that it's already been signed on for two more seasons, and Osaka is a nice place to be; rent's cheaper than in Tokyo and the food's better, too, but sometimes, when he glances as the photographs sitting on his coffee table of the old days when Daiki used to be happy and they used to see one another, he wishes he were back in Tokyo, if for no other reason than to make sure that his little brother was all right. Still, recently, things had been seeming better; Moriyama, he was told, had returned, and perhaps there was some chance of patching up what had been broken before. Perhaps, Mizuki hopes, Daiki would be able to recover even some part of the happiness he had lost along with Moriyama. But Daiki doesn't contact him that often, nor does he usually answer the phone when Mizuki calls anymore, and so Mizuki is left to wait and hold his breath. Still, things are looking positive, and so he stays positive, too.
And so, logically, he's surprised when, one day, Jay shows up on his doorstep with three suitcases and an absolutely miserable expression on his face. He ushers the boy inside, moving his bags out of the way and sitting him down on the sofa before asking what's wrong.
Jay looks down at his lap, wringing his hands, and Mizuki takes the opportunity to study him. He hasn't seen his nephew for a few years now, not since he moved to Osaka, and he looks more awkward, somehow, gangly and entirely teenage, like his body's grown too much for how old he is, or rather, for how young he is. Mizuki sits beside him on the couch and places a hand on his shoulder, not pushing, but trying to coax out an answer, nonetheless. After all, if Jay is here and not back in Tokyo with Daiki, Mizuki feels he has cause to be concerned.
After a long moment, Jay finally speaks, albeit quietly, as if he's verbally dragging his feet. "I had a fight with my dad... that's all." Mizuki finds it hard to believe that that is really all, but he knows that Daiki could have spent more of his time on Jay and less on his own misery throughout Jay's childhood, and he can't really find it in himself to blame Jay for any rockiness there might be in their relationship. Mizuki has always been fond of Jay in the same way he's always been fond of his baby brother, and so he nods, hoping Jay will elaborate.
But Jay doesn't elaborate, instead looking up at Mizuki, his eyes wide and wet and embarrassed as he asks hesitantly, "Can I stay for... a while...?"
Of course, Mizuki can't turn him away, and so he sets him up in the guest bedroom tells him he's welcome to anything before returning to his own room and picking up the phone to call Daiki.
It takes Mizuki seven tries over the span of three days to get Daiki to answer the phone, but finally, instead of reaching the answering machine, he gets a tired, “Moshi moshi,” in a voice that sounds so far from what he remembers as his baby brother that Mizuki’s heart wrenches painfully in his chest.
“Daiki-chan,” Mizuki starts, and is about to continue, how are you, but thinks better of it and clears his throat instead to stall as he thinks of a more appropriate greeting. “It’s been too long. I miss you.”
“Mm,” Daiki responds noncommittally on the other end of the line, and despite that they’ve always been close, Mizuki finds it hard to read Daiki anymore, now that he’s so changed. Perhaps things have not been going well with Moriyama, he worries, and is hit with a guilt he’s experienced many times before; as the person who introduced Daiki to the man who broke his heart and his will, how can Mizuki not feel like this is all a little bit his fault?
When Daiki says nothing else, Mizuki laughs nervously and continues. “So, the other day, Jay showed up here, and--”
But, to his surprise, Daiki cuts him off, more emotion in his voice than Mizuki has heard in a long time. “He’s with you?” he asks frantically, and Mizuki is frankly startled. What sort of fight had Daiki and Jay had? “Is he all right?”
Mizuki treads carefully but honestly; he doesn’t want to say the wrong thing and trigger another fit of depression in Daiki, but he can’t lie, not when it comes to Daiki’s own son. “He’s a little out of sorts, but he’s okay. He told me you two got in a fight.” He doesn’t want to pry, but leaves the comment hanging, hoping his brother will fill in the gaps.
He doesn’t, though, only sighs, and without seeing him in person, it’s impossible to read what that means. Hesitantly, Mizuki tries again. “Shall I... send him home to you?”
“No,” Daiki responds, surprisingly quickly, and he sounds choked up. Mizuki cannot fathom for the life of him what could possibly have happened, but he isn’t going to force Daiki, not when he’s so fragile and not when, in the end, it’s none of Mizuki’s business. “No, he’s an adult. He can make his own choices... I can’t force him...”
It sounds as if there’s more, but Daiki trails off and does not pick up again. At length, Mizuki offers hopefully, “Is there anything I should tell him...?”
Silence hangs over the conversation before Daiki speaks again, his voice tight and cracking under clear emotional strain. “Please,” he practically whispers, and Mizuki presses his phone closer to his face so as not to miss what Daiki is clearly very emotionally invested in. “Just... tell him I love him...?”
When Mizuki conveys the message, Jay does not respond, but turns his back and walks away.
Eiji runs into Jay on the street a week later on the street. It’s either a freak coincidence or the work of some heavenly force above, and Eiji can barely believe his eyes, but sure enough, as he’s walking down the road, there’s Jay, walking directly at him in the other direction, and there’s no way Eiji can avoid him. Honestly, his first thought is why is Jay still in Osaka, because he definitely should have been back in Tokyo by now, and so that’s the first thing out of his mouth when they cross paths, despite the fact that he really probably ought to be a little more polite.
At the question, Jay hangs his head, looking a little embarrassed and a lot depressed. “I used my savings on the shinkansen ticket here,” he explains quietly, staring intently at his feet. “It was worth it to me-- for you, you know. But I’m not going home. I can’t.”
Eiji gets the feeling that I can’t has to do with more things than just the price of a shinkansen ticket. But it doesn’t make sense, to simply throw one’s self into a foreign city simply on the hopes of things working out with one particular person, and Eiji simply can’t understand. “But why, Jay?”
Jay looks up at him then, looks at him like he’s crazy. “Why?” he laughs humourlessly, shaking his head. “Because I love you. Because you’re the only person in the whole who’s ever made me feel needed, wanted. Because being with you makes me happy. Because I want a chance to make you as happy as you’ve made me. Because...” It’s at this point that Eiji realizes the boy’s on the verge of tears, voice wavering and cracking and making him seem all the more teenage, all the more vulnerable. “Because I want a second chance. I want to start over from the beginning with you.”
A wave of guilt washes over Eiji as all the times he’s used Jay’s body flash to the forefront of his memory, and he feels himself colour slightly in shame. Despite everything they’d done together, everything he’d done to Jay, for Jay to have these feelings as if they were high school sweethearts was so ridiculously naive and yet endearing in a way that made Eiji’s heart swell inside his chest and his stomach turn over.
It’s such a bad decision, and yet, somehow, this time, it feels like it’s for the right reasons as Eiji laughs wryly. “To start over from the beginning, huh...?”
Jay glances up in him in surprised from where he was wiping his face on his sleeve, and confusion plays over his expression. Eiji can practically see where he’s fighting back hope, and he can’t help but smile, just a little as he shrugs. “Well then... how about dinner on Friday?”
It’s so, so wrong, because Jay is seventeen and Daiki-chan’s son, but when he sees the smile of pure joy grow across Jay’s features, he can’t help but think that, for the first time in a long time, he’s done something good.
Mizuki doesn’t really know what to expect for the first few weeks of Jay’s stay. After all, Jay refuses to give more explanation than “a fight with his dad,” and while Daiki obviously seemed to think it was something incredibly serious, Mizuki had hoped that Jay and Daiki would somehow reconcile and Jay would return to Tokyo. It wasn’t that he minded Jay around-- honestly, he was fond of his nephew and the company was nice-- but Daiki’s happiness was by far more important.
But then one evening, over dinner, Jay pushed his food around his bowl with his chopsticks for a few minutes before glancing up at Mizuki nervously. “Um... I don’t suppose there are... any job openings at the TV station where you work, right...?”
So it’s finally come to this, Mizuki thinks to himself with a sigh, but he says nothing for a moment. As much as he’d hoped to send the boy back to Daiki, that was clearly not going to be as easy done as said. Refusing would, on one hand, force him back to Tokyo, but thinking back to Daiki’s one message for Jay, Mizuki had the feeling that that would not be what his little brother wanted. And so, running a hand through his hair, he nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”
On the bright side, Jay offers to do the dishes for the evening, leaving Mizuki to ponder exactly how he had gotten entangled in the mess that had been eating away at his brother for years.
Eiji and Jay’s first date-- ever, actually-- is to a small chain cafe by the train station. It’s nothing fancy; the food is cheap and the tables small and the room cloudy with cigarette smoke, but the company is nice, and that’s really what matters, in the end.
They talk like they’ve never really talked before. It’s strange, Eiji thinks, when he’s seen the boy in various stages of undress countless times in the past, and yet he’s just learning now that his blood type is O and he likes to read mystery books and he doesn’t like cats. It seems stupid, juvenile, really, and yet somehow, listening to these things about Jay, it’s fascinating, like Eiji is discovering new facets to something he’d written off entirely.
They steer clear of the subject of Jay’s father, of course, but sometimes, Eiji’s inquires or Jay’s stories hit just a bit too close to him, and Jay’s face darkens as he unthinkingly divulges painful truths, and for the first time, Eiji really thinks about it, really realizes that Daiki wasn’t the only one suffering. But they get off those topics quickly enough, and Eiji shares facts about himself, too, and despite any worries Eiji had at the beginning, the evening flies by.
Afterwards, Eiji is dutiful enough to walk Jay home from the station, and they part at the entrance to Mizuki’s building. It feels too much like high school, and yet somehow, it feels right, too, when Jay smiles at him sweetly and admits, “I had a really good time.”
“Me too,” Eiji agrees easily, but he means it, and he can’t help but smile a little.
Jay seems intensely relieved to hear this and asks a little too eagerly, “Call me?”
But it’s cute to Eiji, and he doesn’t understand how this boy is the same one he was passing off to himself as Daiki in the dark of the night when he’s clearly so much a different creature from his father. Eiji can’t put his finger, even, on what it is about him, but when he presses a chaste goodnight kiss to the boy’s lips, no part of him questions that he’s kissing not Daiki, but Jay.
As time passes, Jay becomes a permanent fixture in Mizuki’s life, and they fall into a new routine, a new “normal.” Mizuki has always liked Jay and he enjoys the company; still a member of Johnny’s at fifty-one, he’s never had the opportunity to share his life with anyone, and in his nephew he finds a companionship that he’s never been able to maintain before. They’re not close enough to be like brothers; not nearly like what Mizuki had with Daiki, back before everything fell apart, but there’s something comfortable in their relationship, something that makes chatting over the dishes or watching reruns of Mizuki’s cop drama together late at night fun.
But, despite how much Mizuki likes having Jay around, he can’t help but worry about Daiki. Despite some of the choices Mizuki knows he regrets making, he’s well aware that Jay is an important part of Daiki’s life, the child into whom he poured all of his love when Moriyama left him. He sucked at showing it, Mizuki will be the first to admit, and he doesn’t blame Jay for any of the anger he must feel towards the father who wasn’t there for him, but he can only imagine the way Daiki’s heart must be breaking at losing yet someone else.
Still, he doesn’t want to interfere, but finally, he breaks down one day and calls the only person he can think of and whose number he still has: Tsuchiya. After a few rings, however, it’s not Tsuchiya who answers, but a much higher-pitched voice, and it takes Mizuki a minute to realize that this must be Nagayama, Tsuchiya’s lover, for lack of a better word.
“I’m sorry to bother you--” he explains awkwardly, because, honestly, he’s the next thing to a complete stranger to this man, “But I was calling for Tsuchiya-san...?”
Nagayama, however, is cordial despite knowing nothing more than that he is Daiki’s elder brother. “He’s out... want me to give him a message?”
Mizuki doesn’t quite know how to explain his situation, and so he fumbles for the right words for a moment before throwing out nonchalantly, “I... was just worried about Daiki-chan.”
Nagayama does not respond for a long moment, and Mizuki is almost wondering if there’s a bad connection when he speaks again. “Have you considered visiting him in Tokyo in the near future?” he asks, his voice hesitant and tight, and somehow, by saying almost nothing at all, he’s told Mizuki everything he needs to know.
Getting closer to Jay is a slow, difficult process, Eiji thinks, like learning to swim after you’ve very nearly drowned. The more time they spend together, the more Eiji realizes just how much of his own person he is, but he’s still the same boy he always was in appearance-- a younger carbon copy of Daiki, and that gets in the way more than Eiji would care to admit. There are times when he wants so badly just to screw this relationship business and to flip Jay over and give him what he wants, times that he wakes up in the night from lurid dreams about a someone who’s either Daiki or Jay, Eiji isn’t sure. There are times when he wonders what he’s doing, because Daiki wouldn’t want this, and certainly, he’d already ruined enough in the man’s life.
But then there are the times when Jay smiles up at him so sweetly and entangles his fingers in Eiji’s as they walk down the street in a way so similar and yet so entirely different from the way Daiki used to, the times when Eiji tries to say something stupidly mushy, sexy-face and all, and instead of getting smacked for it, he earns himself a blush or a giggle or a kiss. There are the times when Eiji goes out of his way to do something extravagant, like flowers or sweets, and though Jay doesn’t burst into tears the way Daiki used to, he grins widely and beautifully, and his voice sounds so overjoyed when he exclaims, “Moriyama-san!” that Eiji can’t even compare to the way it used to be. It’s times like these that he has a sneaking suspicion that maybe this is the best decision he’s made since coming back, that maybe, just maybe, this is something real.
A month and a half of frequent dates down the line finds them in Eiji’s living room on Eiji’s couch, a movie on the television the only light in the darkened room. Jay’s been here a couple times now, though not for more than a few hours, and he’s never asked for more. But now, as he sits pressed up against Eiji’s side with his head resting on Eiji’s shoulder, Eiji almost wishes he would. Still, he’s too sweet, the whole situation is too sweet, and he laughs softly to himself, ruffling Jay’s hair with his free hand. “You falling asleep on me?”
Jay tilts his head slightly to glance up at Eiji before smiling slightly and shaking his head. “No. ‘m I gonna miss the last train?”
Eiji realizes in hindsight that the comment had come across as a hint to leave, which wasn’t how he’d meant it. In fact, quite to the opposite, he finds himself wishing Jay already had missed the last train, but he shakes his head anyway. “Nah,” he replies easily, sliding an arm around Jay’s waist, “You’re still good for another half hour.”
If it had been Daiki, he would have had his eyes on the clock after that, because Daiki was always all about responsibility--he had been the Leader, after all. But Eiji is surprised to find, half an hour later, that Jay actually has fallen asleep on him, and, unable to bring himself to wake him, Eiji gives up his bed and sleeps on the sofa, pondering that, though, with Daiki, he would have gotten to sleep in his own bed, there’s something about getting to kiss Jay goodnight that makes this more than worth it.
Despite his growing worry after his conversation with Nagayama, filming has just started for the next season of Mizuki’s drama, and he can’t make it into Tokyo for almost two months. But when they’ve finally filmed the final scenes of the last episode, he tells Jay he has the apartment to himself for the weekend and packs a small bag and boards the next shinkansen to Tokyo.
He doesn’t warn Daiki of his visit, because he knows Daiki would only say no. He has no idea what Daiki’s work hours are, but when Mizuki arrives at his apartment at eight in the evening, Daiki’s there sure enough, reeking of booze and cigarette smoke, and Mizuki’s heart clenches in his chest as his brother stares at him for a long moment before finally letting him in.
It’s been a long time since Mizuki has seen the inside of Daiki’s apartment, and though he hadn’t been expecting much, he’s appalled by what he sees. What’s happened to you, he wants to ask his brother, but unfortunately, he knows, and the guilt washes back over him all over again, because if he hadn’t ever introduced Daiki to Moriyama...
But there’s nothing he can do about it now, and so he sits uncomfortably in Daiki’s tiny, cluttered kitchen, surrounded by empty bottles and mess, across from Daiki who, apparently interrupted from his binge drinking, now slouches over the table with a fresh cigarette destined for the full ashtray by his elbow. Mizuki doesn’t know what to say, because I’m worried for you doesn’t even close to cover it, and so they sit in silence for a few minutes before Daiki finally speaks. “How is he?”
“Fine,” Mizuki replies uneasily, and, unable to deal with it anymore, he catches Daiki’s gaze, leaning forwards slightly. “Daiki-chan, why is he in Osaka? What did you two fight about, and why won’t he go home?”
Daiki only meets his eye for a second, however, before slouching back in his chair, looking off to the side. “...It doesn’t matter,” he replies after a moment, putting out his cigarette and lighting another, “It’s done now.”
Mizuki can’t understand for the life of him why Daiki is so ready to write off his son as gone for good, especially when Mizuki knows exactly how much the boy means to him. And they’re brothers, goddammit, Daiki used to tell him everything-- even now, even after everything’s fallen apart, he can’t take it.
“No, Daiki-chan, it’s not done-- it does matter,” he insists. “Your son is living in my apartment out in Osaka when he should be back here with you. So what happened-- did you throw him out?”
To Mizuki’s surprise, Daiki sits upright at that, meeting Mizuki’s eyes, and for the first time in a long time, Mizuki sees something alive in Daiki’s eyes, something that hasn’t been beaten down and broken apart by misery and suffering. It isn’t something happy-- it’s something fierce, something needy, but it’s there, nonetheless, as Daiki responds immediately, “No. He left on his own-- he was taken away from me.”
“Taken away?” Mizuki is incredulous; if Jay had been taken away, why was he doing office work in the television studio where Mizuki worked and living out of Mizuki’s spare room? “Taken away by who?”
At this, however, anything that had been living in Daiki died away almost instantly in a way that’s more than horrifying Mizuki. He watches as the light drains from his eyes, the tension falls from his limbs and he drops back into his chair, staring at the floor. At length, he mumbles something that Mizuki does not catch, and he has to prompt Daiki to repeat himself.
After a moment, Daiki raises his eyes to meet Mizuki’s, and it’s in this moment that Mizuki realizes that Daiki is crying. “Eiji,” he replies miserably in a horse whisper, and if Mizuki thought he felt guilty before, he was absolutely mistaken.
By now, Eiji knows that Jay lives with Sano Mizuki, but as the person who ruined Mizuki’s little brother’s life, Eiji is less than eager to meet with him again after all these years. Even when Jay assures him that Mizuki’s out of town for the weekend, he’s still a little nervous invading his apartment, but he’s had Jay over so many times now that it seems unfair not to go when Jay begs him.
Jay is adorably excited about the whole thing, and promises to cook Eiji dinner and everything, and even if Eiji was hesitant to come before, just knowing Jay is going to such great lengths for him makes him eager nonetheless. And it turns out, Mizuki has nice digs (he supposes that comes with being with Johnny’s), and Jay’s set the table and rented a movie and everything, and it’s so not Daiki that Eiji doesn’t even think to compare. In fact, he’s been comparing less and less now, over the past months, and even when he does, Jay is so starkly different in his mind now that he can’t fathom how he used to think about him in the slightest.
As it turns out, Jay’s fairly decent at cooking, and when Eiji tells him so, he practically beams. Afterwards, Eiji insists on helping with the dishes, and so they stand, side by side, snugly in front of the kitchen sink, sleeves rolled up and with soapy hands and looking rather silly, really, and Eiji thinks that this is really the way things are supposed to be, isn’t it?
But then, “So,” Jay says, smiling a little at Eiji out of the corner of his eye as he wipes his hands on a dishrag, “I rented a movie...?”
“Sounds good,” Eiji replies vaguely, but he’s captivated by the expression, by the smile, by the look in Jay’s eyes. He’s young, yes, and awkward, but somehow, even then, he’s attractive in his own right, lithe and slender and youthful, and before Eiji knows what he’s doing, he’s sliding an arm around Jay’s waist and pressing a kiss to his lips, light and soft but unrelenting all the same.
Jay starts at first, but quickly melts into the kiss, turning away from the sink to face Eiji and press up close against him, wrapping his arms around Eiji’s neck. They fit together well, Eiji thinks, and it’s stupidly cliche, but it’s not something he’d ever thought about before, either.
Before long, they make it to the living room, but they don’t end up watching the movie. Honestly, Eiji thinks, he shouldn’t be okay with this, and yet knowing, as he drifts off to sleep several hours later, just knowing that he’s laying here with Sano Jay wrapped up in his arms makes him happier than it ever had before, and that’s enough indication that somehow, maybe, in some little way, things are all right.
Mizuki returns to Osaka on Monday morning to find the apartment empty and Jay already off at work. There are several things he ought to do after having been out of the city for a weekend, like buy groceries or check the mail or call that friend of Daiki’s, Besshi-kun, and ask him to check up on Daiki if he wouldn’t mind, and yet, all he can think about is the truth he had finally uncovered, the facts that so drastically changed everything about the way of life he’d so easily slid into with Jay. In his mind, he can see, over and over again, Daiki slouched in that grimy old kitchen chair with tears streaming down his face, repeating over and over again I’m a bad father, I’m a bad father, and he thinks that somehow, by extension, he’s a little broken, too, after having experienced the depths to which his little brother had been dragged.
By the time Jay arrives home from work at six, Mizuki has done nothing but mull over everything all day, and after hours and hours of heartbreaking memories, he too is about at breaking point. He corners Jay in the front entrance hall, and he knows he’s being stupid and immature, but at this point, he really can’t help it.
“What the hell were you thinking?” he snaps as soon as Jay has his shoes off, and the look of utter confusion laced with worry on Jay’s face tells Mizuki that the boy has no idea the state he’s left Daiki in. “Running to Osaka to find Moriyama--have you been seeing him?”
All at once, Jay’s defenses flare up, and he stands to his full height, glowering down at Mizuki. He’s only a few centimeters taller, truthfully, but Mizuki is amazed at his ability to make himself intimidating. “Yes, and that’s none of your business. I love him, and he loves me.”
“He doesn’t love you,” Mizuki bursts, a sarcastic, biting laugh on his tongue. “Maybe you can’t see it, but all he sees in you is your father. He’s using you.”
“He loves me,” Jay repeats, his voice rising in pitch, hands clenched in fists by his sides, and all at once, Mizuki realizes that he’s getting nowhere with this. He may be perfectly reasonable in his anger, but honestly, even if less so than Daiki, Jay is a victim too, and so, unable to calm himself but unable to continue, either, Mizuki simply steps aside and lets Jay retreat into his bedroom.
He apologizes the next morning, but can’t help tagging a, “Your father misses you,” onto the end of his apology. Jay says nothing in response.
“So, Jay...” Eiji starts, trailing. They’ve been dating for almost five months now, and somehow, by some miracle, everything seems to be going right. They meet for dinner after work a couple of days of the week, and more often than not, Jay spends his weekends at Eiji’s apartment. It’s comfortable, but now, as he lounges into the sofa with am arm thrown lazily around Jay’s shoulders and Jay’s head resting snugly in the crook of his neck, he can’t help but wish they had more time like this, just the two of them. It’s a far, far cry from the way he thought about Jay less than a year ago, but it’s a much better place to be, and that’s a good thing, Eiji thinks.
“Hmm?” Jay hums contentedly, opening one eye to peer up at Eiji. “What’s up?”
Eiji licks his lips. “I was thinking, it kinda sucks that you have to come see me all the time and all...” Because Eiji knows better than to cross paths with Mizuki, especially now that Jay mentioned that he had been “being a jerk” about something that Eiji heavily suspected had to do with his trip to Tokyo a few months prior.
“I don’t mind,” Jay replies before Eiji can continue, letting his eyes fall shut again. “It’s no big deal.”
Eiji nods, considering that for a moment before continuing. “Well... I was thinking it might be easier if you just lived here.”
This time, both Jay’s eyes snap open, and he sits up slightly, studying Eiji. “Wait... what?”
“You know,” Eiji replies nonchalantly, a little bit pleased with the reaction he’s been able to draw. “If you moved in.”
In response, Jay kisses him, long and deep, and now more than ever, Eiji feels assured that finally, he’s turning his life around.
For the second time in less than a year, Jay is packing up all his bags. This time it’s Mizuki whose breath catches in his throat, Mizuki who speaks without thinking. "What are you doing?"
Jay glances up at him, meets his eyes for a long moment before responding simply, “Packing.”
“Why?” Mizuki asks a little too quickly, betraying the worry that’s staring to form knots in the pit of his stomach. “Where are you going?”
Jay hesitates a moment, tucking a crumpled shirt into the corner of his suitcase before licking his lips and sighing. “I’m moving in with Eiji-san.”
When did “Moriyama-san” become “Eiji-san?” Mizuki thinks, but he isn’t sure he wants to know. "You're making a mistake--" he begins, but cuts himself off, knowing it's no good. Still, his chest feels tight and he stares at the floor, wishing there was something he could do for Daiki, some way he could make thing right. "Don't go running to him, please, Jay."
Jay solemnly shakes his head, though, as he finishes packing meticulously and closes the case. “Thank you for everything up until now,” he says quietly. “But I love him. And so I have to go.”
Mizuki watches helplessly as Jay picks up his bags and walks out the door, but some small nagging part inside of him thinks that somehow, even since he came running to Osaka five months prior, Jay’s grown up just a little bit, and maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to make it on his own.
Mizuki hears from Jay off and on when he prompts it; Jay always replies his emails with a yes, I’m fine, of course, let’s do dinner sometime this week, but outside of that, they don’t see much of one another. Mizuki isn’t sure how he feels about this bizarre and short chapter of his life during which he was dragged into the lurid events of his brother’s ruin, but now that he no longer has Jay in his home, he no longer knows how things are going in that branch of the Sano family, and though it’s probably for the better that he has no easy way of finding out, he still yearns, just a little bit, sometimes, to be caught up again so that he might have some chance of making things better.
He calls Daiki weekly, and though three times our of four, he gets the answering machine, he reports on Jay, assuring Daiki that he’s in perfect health, and yes, Mizuki just saw him last month, and he’s happy. It’s hard to gauge how well or poorly he’s doing, but Mizuki is forced to accept that there’s nothing he can do about it, and sooner or later, he’s going to have realize that Jay’s and Daiki’s problems are Jay’s and Daiki’s problems and not something he’ll ever be able to fix.
And so he’s trying to let go, he’s trying to go back to the way it was before Jay turned up on his doorstep that day more than half a year ago now, when, by chance, one day, he runs into Moriyama Eiji in the train station.
It’s crowded and Mizuki could so easily have just walked by, but before he knows what he’s doing, they’re meeting eyes, and then there’s no way around it.
“Sano-san,” Moriyama greets awkwardly when they do cross paths, stopping awkwardly to the side of the flow of traffic.
“How’s Jay?” Mizuki asks, and he knows he’s being rude, but it seems that, now that he’s been dragged into this whole mess, there’s no way for him to get himself out of it.
Moriyama swallows and runs a hand through his hair, but nods. “He’s doing well. He’s gotten a promotion... and he’s thankful that you got that job for him.”
Mizuki nods but says nothing. There are many, many things he wants to say, but he shouldn’t and he won’t. He’ll be the adult and turn his back before he does anything stupid. “Well, if you’ll excuse me...”
But, “Wait--” Moriyama interjects, and Mizuki looks back over his shoulder at him. He looks pathetic, all of a sudden, wringing his hands a moment before starting in, “Tell Daiki-chan...”
He trails off, and Mizuki waits a moment before coldly prompting, “Yes?” and thinking what right do you have to keep thinking of him in those terms? but not saying it no matter how much he wants to.
But Moriyama shakes his head quickly. “Never mind. Sorry to bother you, Sano-san,” he replies hurriedly, and with that, he’s gone.
And as much as he knows he shouldn’t be, Mizuki is glued to the spot, watching him disappear into the crowd and wanting so badly to know just what he was going to say.