Title: The Better Pursuit
Disclaimer: I do not own Panic Age, any member of pnish, or any member of Johnny's Entertainment.
Warnings: AU, BL, all that jazz
Author's Note: Er, this exists in the beautiful world of Panic Age AU in which everything ends up happy and all that. XD;;; So... read prepared? Also, I love Mizuki.
Mizuki isn't quite sure when he stopped being an actor and started being a stay-at-home dad. It all happened so fast and in the flow of what was seemingly normal; Mizuki loved Wasshi, and so they dated, and then moved in together. That was what people did, right? And sure, WashiWashi could be a pain in the butt, but he was Wasshi's kid and so Mizuki did his best to love him too, and though he wouldn't openly admit it, the kid could be okay, at times. But then, of course, one of them had to be home with the kid, and Wasshi worked pretty much a regular work week, with rehearsals on the weekends half the time, too, and while Mizuki occasionally appeared in this or that, for the most part, he was at home during the day. Which worked out nicely now, since he had a son for whom to be responsible... the only problem was, Mizuki was used to spending his days how he liked them, and not making sure his stupid kid didn't somehow concuss himself trying to stage an epic karate tournament against various items of furniture.
But regardless of what Mizuki wanted, that was simply how it played out, and so, with possibly the smallest struggle in the history of Sano Mizuki's personal luxuries, now, he's the stay-at-home dad. He drags his ass out of bed at the crack of dawn to have coffee with Wasshi and send him off to rehearsal before he has to find something to feed the ravenous beast that will no doubt wake in the hour following. Mizuki has never really been good at preparing food; he personally likes fast food and sweets, and will always opt to eat out rather than cook. But he can't exactly feed WashiWashi a hamburger for breakfast (Wasshi was less than pleased the one time he tried) and so he's struggling to learn to make parently things like eggs and fish, learning to put aside the time for the rice cooker and instant miso soup. On the best of days, he succeeds and has the surprisingly large pleasure of being able to bask in the perfection of his handiwork; on the worst of days, he can't even drum up the energy to try and feeds WashiWashi toast and cereal. Luckily, WashiWashi doesn't seem to spite him for it, but he still feels a little guilty when bad days turn into bad weeks and he has to drop into the grocery store on Wednesday or Thursday to pick up more granola.
After WashiWashi is fed, Mizuki sends him off to school, which wouldn't be such a big deal if Mizuki didn't feel it necessary to walk the kid the ten minutes to the station and see him onto the correct train. At seven years old, most of WashiWashi's classmates, Mizuki knows, must walk themselves to the station, but the idea makes him uneasy, and so despite the fact that it's early and he isn't really ready to face the world, he escorts WashiWashi the few blocks every day, hand wrapped tightly around the boy's, just in case.
But then after that, he has a brief reprieve before he has to go meet WashiWashi at the station after school, and he takes the time to shower and dress properly and give himself a well-deserved break. He supposes he ought to do something useful, like clean the place up a bit, but it feels like mere minutes before school is letting out and then Mizuki has a handful of energetic seven year old back in the apartment. After having sat through lessons all day, WashiWashi is more than ready to wreak havoc in the afternoons, and it's a constant uphill battle to make sure he doesn't hurt himself or break anything too important. Then again, anything deemed "too important" has been put far, far out of the kid's reach years ago, but one can never be too careful, and Mizuki has trained himself to dart at even the faintest sound of crying. It's something he prides himself in, really, even though he complains that the kid really could give it a rest every once in a while.
And so, by the time Wasshi makes it home in the evenings, Mizuki is more worn out than when he actually does work. More often than not, they eat takeout or instant or konbini food for dinner, but Mizuki tries his best to at least make sure WashiWashi eats his vegetables. He's not going to be the one responsible if the kid gets sick, after all.
And so that's how it goes, day after draining day, and Mizuki wonders how this happened. He had never planned on having kids, but, he supposes, that's just how the world works, and even if the kid is a pain in the ass, it's worth it for Wasshi, for their little family. Not what Mizuki had ever expected, but it's certainly something, and Mizuki doesn't like to think too hard about it past that.
But then one day, on a rare day when Mizuki does have an engagement on a variety show, he comes home to find things out of the ordinary. Wasshi, who had stayed home with WashiWashi, sits at the kitchen table, head braced in his hands. WashiWashi is nowhere to be found. Frowning, he pads into the room quietly, placing a palm gently on the centre of Wasshi's back. Wasshi starts, looking up at Mizuki in surprise before exhaling, and Mizuki offers a grin. "Gotcha."
But Wasshi doesn't even seem to have the energy to look amused, and sighs, slumping against the table, and Mizuki's face melts into one of true concern as he makes his way around the table, sitting across from Wasshi. "What's up? Where's WashiWashi?" And only then does it occur to him-- what if something's happened to WashiWashi? His chest seizes painful and tight, as if he's been punched and all the air has been forced from his lungs. His pulse speeds and he can hear it in his ears, even as Wasshi shakes his head, nodding across the room. "He's in his bedroom."
The relief is overwhelming, but Mizuki's question is unanswered, and his petulance overtakes confronting the fear he was facing only a moment earlier. "Well then, what's wrong? You didn't even go to work today, you can't blame it on Tsuchiya, or--"
But Wasshi cuts him off, shaking his head again. "It's not... no," he responds, and he just sounds so tired. Mizuki wonders if he sounds that tired after his days at home, and though he knows that parenting wears him out... he doesn't think he could possibly sound as dejected as Wasshi sounds now. But before he can put too much thought into it, Wasshi licks his lips and continues, "WashiWashi got into a fight. At school. He hit another boy."
Mizuki's eyes widen with understanding, and before he knows what he's doing, words are tumbling from his mouth. He babbles that WashiWashi would never do something like that, that the other child is lying. He defends that WashiWashi must have been attacked first. He goes so far as to accuse the teacher of conspiring against their son when Wasshi sighs and shakes his head nodding towards the boy's bedroom and explaining that he refused to tell Wasshi the whole story, so why doesn't Mizuki go try to talk him, instead?
Mizuki's heart is pounding in his chest as he makes his way down the short hallway in their not-quite 2LDK and to his son's bedroom, and he doesn't understand why. Luckily, he really doesn't have the presence of mind to think about it, and instead simply knocks twice at WashiWashi's door before letting himself in, carefully pulling the door closed behind him. The lights are off, and WashiWashi is laying flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling. Mizuki swallows and steadies himself; WashiWashi is usually incapable of lying still short of being ill or passing out in the evenings, and it feels uncanny and wrong. Ill at ease, Mizuki takes a few steps further into the room, perching himself at the end of WashiWashi's bed and gazing over the boy for a moment, noticing the way the streaks of sunset make WashiWashi's hair seem closer to dark brown than black, the way he looks so much older than he is without a stupid grin on his face, the way his feet are getting closer reaching the end of his bed now, and when had Mizuki's baby gone and grown up on him? He's too emotional and doesn't feel at all ready to do this, but he doesn't have much of a choice, and so he clears his throat and puts a hand on WashiWashi's arm and asks, "...What happened today...?"
WashiWashi looks at him for a long moment before sitting up with a sigh, leaning against his headboard and pulling his knees to his chest and looking down, breaking away from Mizuki's gaze. He's silent for a moment before replying, his voice quiet and barely more than a murmur. "I hit Tanaka-kun."
Mizuki's brows furrow, because there's no escaping it now; WashiWashi has admitted guilt. Before he can stop himself, the word is tumbling out of his mouth, and "Why?" he asks, his voice a little too desperate.
WashiWashi looks up at him then, and for the first time, he looks as if he's going to cry. Mizuki has seen the kid cry dozens, hundreds of times, when he's run into things or tripped and scraped his knee, but never for something that isn't physical, and so he's never seen this gut wrenching precipice, with wetness pooling at the corners of his son's eyes. He looks weak, and WashiWashi never looks weak, but here he is, looking straight at Mizuki as a single stray tear breaks free and rolls down his face and he responds, "He called you stupid, Dad. So I hit him."
Before Mizuki knows what he's doing, he's gathering the kid into his arms, breathing, "Oh, god, baby," into his hair as he cradles him close, the way he's always done when WashiWashi's gotten hurt. In turn, he feels WashiWashi's small arms wrapping around his shoulders, and it's in that moment that Mizuki knows. He isn't sure when he stopped being an actor and started being a stay-at-home dad, but the latter is absolutely and most definitely the better pursuit of the two.