Title: Ever After
Disclaimer: Panic Age is not mine~
Warnings: BL and things? This is way milder than the other stories in the series, so if you weren't offended by those, you're safe. XD;
Author's Note: The series really was complete before, but I wanted to wrap things up with a little epilogue. This isn't necessary, and I honestly don't know if it's artistically sound, but in the end, I wanted everyone to be happy for sure. But this is definitely an epilogue so... I guess, don't give it as much weight as the other segments? ^^; Oh, and of course, it's a companion to Hate, Between the Cracks, All or Nothing, Growth, and Everything's Okay.
Living, really living again is strange for Daiki after so many years of faking it. Getting back on his feet after his release from the hospital was a challenge, as has been slowly giving up all his vices one at a time, but he had Jay there the whole time, Jay holding his hand and taking the baby steps with him, and somehow, he's made it, somehow, he's back at work, back meeting with friends and attending parties without touching alcohol or cigarettes or anything in-between. While Jay was staying with him, while Jay had taken a week off of work to be with him, Jay had sat with him and patiently watched every one of his old *pnish* VHS tapes and DVDs, all the old plays and skits and videos. It had taken hours, but Jay had never voiced a word of complaint, and then afterwards, Jay had packaged them all up and taken them away, and Daiki hasn't seen them since. And so here he is, sober and clean and really participating in society, really living beyond taking up space in a way he hasn't done since Eiji left over twenty years ago now.
The only thing he misses is Jay. Throughout the duration of Daiki's recovery, Jay stayed in Tokyo, took time off work and held Daiki's trembling hands as he worked his way through withdrawal symptoms and past personal demons, and for those few weeks, Daiki could pretend that everything was the way it was supposed to be, that Jay was home with him and would always be. But, of course, that wasn't actually the case, and Jay had a job and a life to get back to in Osaka, and really, in the end, Daiki couldn't begrudge him for it. No matter whose crabby hands had grasped a little too tightly (and Daiki isn't sure who he blamed more, himself or Eiji, but worrying about fault isn't helping him now), but that was simply how the cookie has crumbled, and really, in the end, Jay is and adult now, and though Daiki wishes he were closer, he was bound to leave the nest at some point. Daiki is simply glad to be back on speaking terms with him, glad to have his son back.
And Jay has been too good to him recently, anyway. He comes up to Tokyo once a month to visit, and helps Daiki with housework or cooks him dinner or simply talks and listens, which is more than Daiki could even ask for. Sometimes it still turns awkward; Jay clearly walks as if on eggshells around him, but Daiki can't bring himself to mention it when it really probably is for the best that his son doesn't bring up their one-time mutual lover, doesn't rip open the old wounds that he's worked so hard to bandage in his father. But still, it's better than they've been in a very long time, even before Eiji, even before things really fell apart, and Daiki really does love Jay more than anyone else on the planet, hands down. Just having him around is far, far more than enough.
And the more time wears on, really, the less Daiki can begrudge Eiji for taking Jay away at all. It still hurts, yes, to remember the way that Eiji used to love him, but that was a long time ago, and Jay is happy and healthy and, as far as Daiki can tell, taken care of. No, it isn't perfect, but a parent could certainly have less in a partner for his child, and Daiki really, truly is glad that Jay has what he wants.
And so a year goes by this way, faster than years previous, and less painfully, too. Daiki spends his time having coffee with Besshi and accepting kankeisha tickets to Wasshi's occasional concert and going to Tsuchiya's uchiages when he isn't walking the dog or talking to Mizuki on the phone. He cooks himself dinner almost every day and does the dishes afterwards, and he cleans the apartment at least once a month. All in all, somehow, with Jay's help, Daiki has pulled his life around, and it's easier than he ever thought it could be.
And then one day, in one of his cleaning ventures, he stumbles upon an old ring that Jay must have had ferreted away in his bedroom years ago and forgotten about. Daiki himself had forgotten about it, but there was no mistaking it--it was a ring he'd snitched from Eiji in rehearsals sometime in 2003 or 2004, long before Jay was even born. He'd clearly never given it back (never had the chance to give it back) and forgotten about it (probably in congruence with his attempts to forget Eiji), and, at some point along the line, Jay had found it and taken it just as Daiki had taken it from Eiji years prior and then also promptly forgotten about it. Honestly, now, it was Daiki's first impulse to throw it away, but something staid his hand.
A week later, Jay received a small parcel in the mail from his father. The attached note simply read "This was Eiji's; thought you'd want it." When Jay made it back to Tokyo the next week, however, his father didn't mention a thing, only smiled knowingly and asked him, nonchalantly and pleasantly, how things were going with Eiji.