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23 July 2017 @ 11:07 pm
[Daiya no Ace] Miyuki/Sawamura/Chris: like a broken record (3/3)  
TITLE: like a broken record
FANDOM: Daiya no Ace
CHARACTERS: Miyuki/Sawamura/Chris, appearances from the rest of the Seidou ensemble and other familiar faces
RATING: R
SUMMARY: Miyuki Kazuya, of The Ultimate Rookies, wants nothing more than to work with legendary composer, Takigawa Chris Yuu. Problem is, no one's been able to pin the reclusive songwriter down in years. Not one to be deterred, however, Miyuki finally manages to pay him a personal visit – only to be greeted at the front door by a rude kid, who mysteriously calls his idol “shishou”. (25,000+ words)
WARNING/S: An almost alarming lack of baseball, run-on sentences, creeper!Miyuki, and Eijun’s dirty mouth.
NOTES: This was originally written for and submitted to Daiya no Bang, with art created by @hilaryfun. You can also find it on AO3.


{ like a broken record }
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

There were plenty of things Sawamura could do quite well with his mouth. Miyuki recalled the times he had seen that mouth twist into a disappointed frown or a disgusted scowl. The times he had witnessed that mouth stretch into an all-consuming laugh or a wide grin or a pleased smile. The times he had heard the most outrageous words come out of that mouth, without filter, without fear of the repercussions. Sometimes, in fact, the words that came out of that mouth were uttered without a care either, without a second thought that any innocent passerby might decide to call the police – and for good reason.

“You shithead! At least turn the volume down when you’re watching porn!” He stopped in his tracks, checking to see if he had gotten the address right. Glancing up at the 2B made of brass on the door in front of him, Miyuki hesitated then sighed, knocked three times. He waited, hearing a crash on the other side, a lid hitting tiles, the sound of feet racing to the foyer. Inhaled deeply. Let it out.

“Complain all you want. I know you listen in on purpose, cherry boy.” He heard someone answer, yell from the next room. It sounded like it was a boy who was the same age as Sawamura. Or at least someone who spoke the kid’s language. The thought made the corners of his mouth curve, knowing the kid had made a new friend so quickly. Chris had worried about that, worried that, because Sawamura was still relatively new to the city, he wouldn’t be able to make any friends. Miyuki had waved Chris off at the time, arguing that it had already been five months, that the kid was easygoing enough as it was, he would likely be able to get along with anyone, no problem. But then Chris had mentioned it was probably because the kid had taken to him so well, and that that wasn’t an accurate bar to base his conclusions on.

The door opened, a projectile hurtling outward missed his left ear, their eyes met.

“Miyuki? What’re you doing here?”

He raised a hand in greeting, gestured to the plastic bag he was carrying in his other. A cold sweat dripped down his temple, his smile a little too tight. He didn’t want to ask. That was way too close for comfort. He didn’t want to ask. The kid could take a person’s eye out. He didn’t want to ask, but Miyuki felt that he needed to, being the kid’s senior and all, his guardian by default. He pointed to the wooden baseball bat on the floor, innocently rolling to and fro. Sawamura scoffed, told him that the bothersome thing belonged to his rude, noisy neighbor. A kid named Todoroki Raichi, who had moved in before he did. Told him that said neighbor used the bat to exercise in the mornings, and that he had stolen it in retribution for the eggplants he had been trying to grow on his balcony. Complained that they were at each other’s throats all the time, because Raichi pigheadedly refused to respect boundaries.

Sawamura caught the look of dread on his face and conceded. Told him not to worry, steered him inside. The kid repeated his question, curiously trying to peer into the bag. Miyuki decided they would tackle the conundrum known as Todoroki Raichi another time. He happily took the first step in, following closely behind the kid’s retreating form.

“Thought you might be lonely,” he winked, rustling the contents of the bag for good measure. “So, I brought some booze to celebrate your move.”

Sawamura delighted at that, pointed out the kitchen area for him. Said it was his favorite part of the room. Miyuki dryly commented that he wasn’t surprised. He looked around, praying he wouldn’t see any bloodstains on the walls; Chris would have fainted. The apartment was modest but neat. The foyer opened into a living area which already included a kitchenette. There was a couch on one end, facing the center of the room, and there was a dining table next to the kitchen island, angled away from a second door. He assumed that door led to the bedroom. There weren’t any photos displayed – they would have to remedy that in the future – but he noted that the fridge was packed. You can never have too much butter. Miyuki nodded approvingly.

“You should give Chris-san a call sometime. He’s worried about you,” he reminded as he lined the beer cans on one shelf, moving other containers aside. He placed the bottle of whisky on the counter, and went about looking for glasses. Stopped when he noticed that the kid had yet to reply. Miyuki chanced a glance at him, still standing in the center of the room, mulling over his statement as if it were a problem. He imagined how pleased Chris would be to receive a phone call, wondered why the kid seemed apprehensive about it. Was about to ask.

“I will when I’m settled,” Sawamura muttered, catching his eye, halting the words on the tip of his tongue.

“Aren’t you?” He asked, finding the glasses in a cupboard next to the refrigerator, carrying them over to the island as well. The kid opened another cabinet, slid three large bags of chips out and joined him at the counter.

“I’m still looking for work.”

“Don’t stress yourself out too much, okay?” He smiled, reaching for the kid’s shoulder, redirecting abruptly to tip him by the chin, those molten eyes beckoning him closer. Miyuki had missed looking into them, had missed searching for that liquid spark, flecks of amber mixing with gold in waves. It reminded him of pancake syrup, glossy and thick and sweet. He licked his lips, could almost taste it. Realized what he was doing. Backed away. Sawamura followed his movements, matched his strides as if they were dancing an achingly slow tango. The room began to spin. He could almost hear the music, closed his eyes, willed it off. Still, Sawamura advanced towards him. A wolverine with its prey in sight.

They popped open their first cans of beer, laughed together as they lounged by the island, daring each other to sit down, betting one or the other could last longer, could keep standing. Miyuki remembered that he had to do a final check tomorrow at the studio, had to listen to the finished tracks they had decided to include on the EP. He told Sawamura that and watched the kid’s eyes light up like it was Christmas morning. There were times when he was unreadable, times when Miyuki looked at him and wondered what was going on in his head, what could possibly be going on in his head, couldn’t even begin to untangle the countless threads. There were, also, times when Sawamura was as clear as the day, so very transparent with his feelings and thoughts. All Miyuki had to do was ask.

He didn’t know how it happened, but they found themselves on the floor, between Sawamura’s couch and the dinner table. The kid mentioned that he would eventually move the table towards the front of the room, halfway into the kitchen. Miyuki offered to help him. The kid said it was fine, he would do it himself, that he meant he would do it later, when he had figured out if he wanted a new bed. So, he had to leave an ample amount of space to drag the old one out. That made Miyuki think of the bedroom, in a haze of intoxication, because by then they had consumed all the beer and moved on to the whisky. It was, in hindsight, probably a bad idea. Or a good one, depending on how you looked at it.

“Miyuki, you’re heavy,” Sawamura breathed, grabbing him by the collar. He tried to move, winced when he felt his neck crack, his muscles spasming. He propped himself up using the cushions, his legs slipping through the front skirt. The brat was still hanging on to him, arms around his neck, too heavy for Miyuki to maneuver them both into better positions. He settled on pulling himself on to the couch, taking Sawamura with him, pivoting their bodies until he had flipped them over. Miyuki guided his head and laid it down, allowing it to rest on an upholstered arm, the throw pillows pressing into the kid’s back.

“Better?” He asked, affectionately dragging the kid’s hair to one side, watching it fall back into place. Sawamura looked up at him, smiled, the light reaching all the way into his eyes. That smile was probably Miyuki’s undoing. He was moving before he had time to think about it, before he had time to question his actions. He had one hand on the back of the couch, supporting his weight, the other on Sawamura’s shoulder, easing his unbuttoned collar apart. Miyuki closed his eyes. Moved his hand downward, pawed at the hem of Sawamura’s shirt, lifted it over his head, feeling the heat of the kid’s skin beneath his fingertips. Their breaths mingled, Sawamura’s lips pressed against his, tentatively at first, softly. And then furiously the next second, opening, tongue sliding out to meet his.

“Yeah, perfect,” Sawamura mouthed, littering kisses across his cheek, down his neck, stopping to suck at the bend where neck met shoulder. The brat bit down, teeth scraping, bruising, he would likely leave a mark. Miyuki groaned, intending to punish him for that, pulling him up by his arms, nibbling at his lower lip. The kid’s hands were already on his jeans, yanking the zipper down.

There were plenty of things Sawamura could do quite well with his mouth. Sucking him off was one of them. Miyuki was ready to burst, couldn’t keep from grasping his head, holding Sawamura steady. The kid followed his lead, dragging his fingers up Miyuki’s thighs, stopping to feel around for his ass. Squeezed it. He slumped forward as he came, felt the brat’s throat tighten around him. Gasped when Sawamura wouldn’t stop there. His appetite was insatiable, Miyuki learned, and he was notably far from being a cherry boy.

As they spooned in the aftermath, the kid’s body nestled in his arms, Miyuki was roused awake when he heard Sawamura call out to him. It was a staggered, desperate plea. He was probably having a nightmare. Miyuki stroked the kid’s arm, whispered it was all right, he was safe, he was home. They were together, he cooed, no one would harm him. The kid whimpered again. Miyuki’s eyelids fluttered.

It took him a few seconds to come back to himself, to realize that, in actuality, it wasn’t his name on Sawamura’s lips, after all. That he was saying ‘shishou’ over and over again, nearly sobbing into the nearest pillow. Miyuki, sobering up, didn’t know what to do. Didn’t know what to think. Simply held him close, buried his nose in the kid’s hair. Inhaled the citrusy scent of his shampoo. Wished that he could lull himself back to sleep, wished that he could make the kid forget. Settled on listening to the night.

**

They had voted and agreed on calling their EP “Awakening”. A month in, The Ultimate Rookies was still coasting on the charts, included in both the Japan Hot 100 and J1 Top 40 lists. Ryosuke-san had taken them out to dinner, had promised that they were going to be extremely busy in the coming months, and hoped that they were ready for that. The glint in his eyes, however, hadn’t been able to mask the challenge. He knew they were ready, knew that they had talked about wanting exactly that. It was now or never. Their time had come, hard work had paid off. And now all they had to do was ride the momentum to the finish line. What was important to Miyuki, in spite of the changes and the whirlwind success, was that Chris was enjoying the release party. He sidled up next to the older man, gamely offering him a cocktail.

“What do you think, Chris-san?”

“It’s a great change of pace,” Chris acknowledged, surveying the venue. Rather than the guest of honor, he looked more like the hotel manager, decked out in his pristine suit sans a tie, making up for it with his steely gaze. No one else had dared to approach him yet. Miyuki chuckled. He appreciated that Chris had opted to complete his outfit with a checkered scarf hanging loosely around his neck, something of a trademark, which also lent his ensemble a casually rugged appeal. Not that that would help anyone, as the man looked to be out for blood. Miyuki spied a pop trio Kuramochi had introduced him to earlier try to inch closer, their heels clicking, hesitating, hoping to mingle with the great Takigawa Chris Yuu. Said brilliant composer was already looking the other way, didn’t even notice. He shook his head.

“Do you think he’ll show up?” Chris asked him, suddenly. There was no need to clarify. Miyuki took a sip from his own glass, momentarily lost in his thoughts. He and Sawamura hadn’t really spoken since his visit, though he had received a text message that the kid was coming. Truthfully, he had been planning to invite the kid to the party himself, but Chris had beaten him to it. Miyuki didn’t really mind, of course. He swallowed, felt the burn.

Instead of answering Chris verbally, Miyuki pointed the kid out in the crowd, had immediately noticed his messy hair and enthusiastic form bobbing toward them through the throngs of people. Waved him over. Sawamura was sporting a sky-blue polo shirt, brown slacks, and suede boots. He, likewise, wore a comfy grey jacket over his shoulders. The kid noticed Miyuki looking him over from top to bottom, checking him out, dared him to make a snide comment. Was ready to pounce back if he decided to. Miyuki wasn’t, quirked a brow. Lifted his drink to salute the kid.

“Eijun, how is your new apartment?”

That perplexed him. He was surprised to hear that Chris hadn’t yet been invited over, assumed that it wouldn’t have taken long for the kid to do so. He listened to them catch up, listened to Sawamura explain that the place wasn’t ready yet, that he would have Chris over for dinner when it was. Listened to Chris add that they should have Miyuki join them as well. Watched as the kid’s eyes met his, piercingly, before they zoomed back to focus on the older man between them. As the music echoed about them, too loud for them to make any real conversation, he saw the kid tap Chris on the shoulder, saw him gesture to the lobby outside.

“Can we talk over there for a second?”

Miyuki excused himself, said he was going to the washroom, indirectly reassuring them not to worry about him, he would be fine, he could look after himself. Sawamura muttered a quick thank you. Miyuki had intended to greet a few people. He passed along the aisles, scanned the groups around him. And said hello to artists he knew, said hello to some he didn’t. Skirted having to play nice with Furuya Satoshi, who was suspiciously sharing a toast with Ryosuke-san and Kuramochi. Zono pulled him over for photos with a runway model, made the introductions, started on an old ski trip story. He quickly extracted himself and took a shot with Nabe and Nori instead.

It was nearly an hour later when he found Chris and Sawamura again, still in the lobby, the kid’s back to him as he turned the corner. In the movies, what usually happened was the third individual hid himself and eavesdropped. It was a critical moment in the plot, albeit a masterfully clichéd one. Fortunately, this wasn’t a movie. Miyuki knitted his brows, saw the way Sawamura had begun to fidget, looking like a library representative trying to converse with the most popular jock for the first time. Balled his hands into fists. Cursed himself softly. But, damn, if it wasn’t a crucial moment.

“Shishou, I… I’m really happy that you’ve returned to your music,” the kid gushed, wearing his candy-coated heart on his sleeves, “I’ve always been a fan.”

Sawamura had never looked at him that way, Miyuki thought, ruefully. Had never gazed as deeply into his eyes, with all the trust in the world. He had witnessed so many intense expressions on that face, had met the kid head on, stubbornly, time and time again. Had looked forward to battling with him as an equal, unafraid that he would be judged for making mistakes. It was refreshing and humbling and changing him. But it was different, Miyuki realized. It was different when he knew what love looked like, when he could see it so clearly reflected in the kid’s eyes while he was resting in Chris’s arms. The safest place. Sawamura’s safest place.

He supposed it was some kind of miserable consolation that Chris himself couldn’t see it. Or, if he could, that he was choosing to ignore it, choosing to gloss over it.

“You’re more than a fan, Eijun,” Chris smiled, correcting him, squeezing the kid’s shoulders. He reached up to take him by the cheeks, to drive the point home.

“You’re my family.”

**

Miyuki had received the news before Chris decided to invite him out. He had been having lunch with Kuramochi on a cloudy afternoon, chowing down furiously on his turkey sub, when Ryosuke-san had pulled a seat up between them, his fingers, for a moment, pausing on the guitarist’s waist. Miyuki had looked away to give them some privacy, which amused their agent to no end. In response to that, as if to annoy him further, Ryosuke-san had taken a bashful Kuramochi by the cheek and brushed a kiss on his forehead. Miyuki had laughed dryly, told them they were bastards. And then Ryosuke-san had gone right for it, dropped the bomb.

“How long will you be out of the country, Chris-san?” Miyuki asked, scanning the shelves in Chris’s library. The composer had inquired if he could zip over to the apartment really quick. Had told him that he needed help cleaning out the rooms. Miyuki knew it was an excuse, knew that someone else – like a household ninja maybe – would have been a better choice. But he had been happy to be included anyway, promised he would be right over. He had even thought to bring some empty boxes with him.

“A couple of months, I think,” Chris mused, frowning, “I’ll try to be home as soon as I can.”

They talked about Zaizen Naoyuki, another artist who had switched agencies, an artist Chris had worked with once before. An artist Chris didn’t necessarily like, though Miyuki could tell the older man admired him, admired his work at least. They talked about how Zaizen had been trying to contact Chris before Sawamura arrived, about how awful his timing had been, how reckless he had always been. About how Chris was thinking of calling him back. Zaizen, it turned out, was touring around the world at present. Miyuki mused that Chris might even run into him. Chris laughed, said that that would be a strange stroke of luck.

“I think you should enjoy yourself.” Miyuki dragged his fingers across a row of DVDs, some of them labelled with dates, some with short vague descriptions. Christmas with the Sawamuras, Camping with Eijun, The Lost Puppy. Admittedly, he had tried to memorize them before, had tried to commit them to memory, the same way Sawamura had, hoped that one day those dates would be more familiar to him, more personal to him. Actually hoped that he would join the row eventually, add to it, their paths interlacing. He shook his head, took a dusty stack of mystery novels from Chris’s arms. There would be time. Time to do just that when Chris returned, time to make some of his own memories with the kid. Time, he argued with himself, to make memories with the kid and Chris.

“Thank you, Miyuki,” Chris smiled, fixing him with a warm gaze. He smiled back easily, enjoying the silence after.

He should have seen it coming. Should have counted from one to twenty. Like clockwork. The two were going to make a mess of him. In fact, they already had. He didn’t know who was worse.

“Could you look in on Eijun for me while I’m gone?”

Miyuki sighed, exasperated, like it should have been obvious. Wanted to shake the older man, rattle the brain inside that irritatingly dense head. Wondered what would happen if he did. Chris was being silly.

“You don’t even have to ask.”

**

Sawamura had prepared grilled salmon for dinner. His stomach was already grumbling before the kid pulled the pan off the stove. He twirled his fingers around the checkered ribbon of the kid’s apron, asked if it had been given to him as a gift. Or if it had belonged to Sawamura’s mom. The kid blew him a raspberry, griped that it was none of his fucking business. Warned him that if he didn’t sit still, he wouldn’t be getting any rice; that he probably needed to lose some weight anyway. Miyuki growled at that, grabbed the kid by the waist, poked him thoroughly, hitting all the right spots. Sawamura crumpled to the ground, the kid’s weight resting on top of him.

They, of course, managed to save the salmon. It had come at a price. Sawamura handed him the utensils over their plates, sulkily asked if he wanted a napkin, pouted because the meal was getting cold. He slid the asparagus over to Miyuki before hearing him ask for any. Miyuki hummed, digging in.

“He asked me if I wanted to go with him,” the kid said, mulling over his food. Miyuki kept a blank face, took the pitcher of lemonade between them, and poured himself a glass after offering one to Sawamura first.

“Why didn’t you?” He countered, playing along, managing to keep his tone disinterested.

“Why would I? I can’t keep depending on him.” He had found that the kid had something of a hang-up where Chris was concerned. Had found that it was funny and maddening and positively irritating how the two obviously cared about each other a great deal, yet couldn’t seem to accept that it was a mutual feeling. Almost like they were purposely rubbing it in his face. But Miyuki knew that they were just fools. Useless love-struck fools. That even if they didn’t need to worry about imposing, they would. Would allow the thought to tangle up in their brains, drive them crazy, until it bubbled outward. Or consumed them. That it was part of their bond. A bond he was beginning to understand. A bond he, nevertheless, wasn’t a part of. A good friend would have pointed it out by now. Would have thoughtfully told them that they were running around in circles, that it was a pointless battle. Miyuki considered himself a good friend, but he wasn’t going to do that.

“I work at a convenience store nearby now,” Sawamura informed him, changing the subject. Miyuki caught his curious eyes, knew that the kid was watching him eat, gauging his expressions. Wondering if he was enjoying the meal, filing the information away, even if he acted like he didn’t care one bit what Miyuki liked. It flattered him, did wonderful, dizzying things for his ego.

“How’s that going?”

“Kanemaru thinks I’m an idiot. But I’ll get him to warm up to me soon.” The kid told him about his co-worker. Complained that he was getting bullied, wondered aloud if he should tell the manager. But he sort of liked that Kanemaru always called him out on his bullshit. Remedied his initial impression and determined that Kanemaru was a good person all the same. Miyuki had known that the kid would make friends easily. Smiled as Sawamura enumerated the ways he would go about winning this Kanemaru over. Mused that the unknown co-worker was either very lucky, or very unlucky. He wasn’t sure which.

They were strolling down the street, a few blocks away from the kid’s apartment, Miyuki’s hands in his pockets, Sawamura’s arm laced in his, when Kuramochi spotted them. He had been whistling as he exited a club. Miyuki remembered that he had talked about attending some gigs around town, realized he must have lost track of time, lost track of the dates. He was beginning to spend all his spare time with Sawamura. Surprised himself by not feeling the least bit guilty about it.

“Heya! Sawamura, right?” Kuramochi grinned, reaching for the kid’s hand, “Miyuki talks about you a lot.”

At that, the kid’s cheeks reddened. He momentarily looked to the ground, then listened as Kuramochi began talking about all sorts of random things. About The Ultimate Rookies, about Ryosuke-san, about how he and Miyuki had met in high school, how they hadn’t liked each other at first but fell in together anyway. About their first concerts, their ridiculous fashion choices early in their careers. His friend was good at that, Miyuki knew. Good at making people feel at ease, good at drowning out their misgivings. Good at setting the mood.

“Why don’t you come watch one of our next gigs? We’ll be playing the new tracks,” Kuramochi said excitedly, taking a flier from his pocket. Sawamura promised he would, glanced at Miyuki, probably wondering why Miyuki hadn’t mentioned it before.

He told the kid that he was planning to before he left, later, as they lounged in Sawamura’s bed, the kid’s knee peeking out at an angle from beneath the blanket. Sawamura wouldn’t believe him, rolled off to his side, took more of the sheets with him. Miyuki felt the cool air on his chest, reached over and wrestled with the brat until he was on top of him, grinding their waists in time to a song only they could hear. He whispered in Sawamura’s ear, told him he was sorry, that he should have mentioned it sooner. The brat was having none of it, digging his fingers into Miyuki’s back, leaning up to bite his shoulder, arm, nipple. He locked his legs around Miyuki’s torso, squeezed.

Miyuki groaned, proclaimed miserably that he was a fool, that he really was sorry, that he couldn’t take it if Sawamura stayed miffed at him. Knew the brat probably figured he was just spouting out whatever he needed to, whatever he had to so that they would finish. But the truth was Miyuki did think he was a fool. He was a fool, too. A hardheaded, masochistic fool. He knew better than to get involved, knew better than to wedge himself between them. Knew better than to hope and want more. Need more. Still, sometimes, the best people in the world were fools, that incessantly resilient voice in his head told him. And, in any case, they would be fools together.

**

The first time Miyuki met Todoroki Raichi in person was after he had walked Sawamura home from a gig. He had closed the door to 2B behind him, began humming to himself, when his senses told him that he was being watched. He tucked the precious key Sawamura had given him into his pocket. Turned to his left, cocked his head, tried his best to remain unfazed.

“Hey,” the kid nodded curtly, arms crossed. He was leaning against his doorframe, studying Miyuki pensively, like a hawk. It reminded him of Sawamura, of the first time they had met, the Cheshire Cat’s hound-like twin in the dark of Chris’s apartment. There were some slight yet significant differences though. For one, unlike Sawamura, the kid smelled of the city’s underbelly. Not literally. He smelled of back-alley fistfights and unfortunate run-ins with the police. Of harsh breezes by the side of a river, of a standoff which would take place beneath a bridge. He looked a little bit like he was the son of a prominent yakuza member, a cross-shaped scar on his face, hazel eyes reflecting a maniacal glint. The only thing he was lacking was his trusty wooden baseball bat. It was a direct contrast to Sawamura’s golden spark, one which reminded Miyuki of the sun and the clearest blue sky and the tussle of early morning trains. He wondered if he was simply imaging all of it, the vibrant, almost draining colors which had descended upon his life the minute he had met Sawamura. Wondered if he had begun to warp his own reality, to match that of the hellion’s.

“Raichi, right?” He shifted, yearned for a cigarette, a way to keep his hands busy.

“Eijun’s the most annoying neighbor in the whole world,” Todoroki Raichi huffed, scratching his chin, turning away from Miyuki’s face after he had looked his fill, “but he’s a good guy.”

Miyuki didn’t know what to say. The kid had caught him completely, irrevocably off-guard. He gave himself a pat on the back for having enough of his wits about him to say okay, in as flippantly a manner as he could muster. Sauntered past the kid and made a beeline for the stairs. As he placed a hand on the railing, however, the kid delivered another punch. Right to his gut.

“If you’re planning to play around with him, it’d be better if you stayed away.”

**

He answered the phone on the third ring. Nearly tipped the base unit over, but caught it before the machine hit the floor. Dragged the handset up to his ear, felt around for his glasses, mumbled incoherently. He had forgotten to check the display, as he usually did; otherwise, he would have known who was on the other end. Would have gathered his bearings sooner.

“Miyuki?”

He pinched the bridge of his nose, slid one leg and then the other out from underneath his blanket. He felt an involuntary shiver as his feet landed on the ground, heels first, toes wiggling. Spied his shirt wedged against the corner of his side table, toed it towards him, yawning. He snatched the garment up, thought better of it and pressed the button on the speaker instead. Chris’s voice came through, soothingly low, repeating his name.

“I’m here. What’s up?” Miyuki replied, stretching his arms, massaging them. Lazily counting the bruises, the ones he could see at least, his fingers gliding across them. He had a new one on his elbow, another on his left wrist, more on his stomach, on his hips, on his thighs. He clucked his tongue, wondered if he should start wearing watches and wristbands more often. Wondered if he would have to stop changing in front of Kuramochi and the others for a while.

“Would you happen to know if Eijun is out of town right now?”

He blinked, twisted to his side, felt around for a shoulder, found a warm back facing his way instead. Miyuki gently shook the kid awake, noting quite proudly that he had left dozens of marks as well, scattered in places Sawamura probably wouldn’t notice until he was told. Until someone pointed them out. Until, possibly, someone else saw them, brought them to the kid’s attention, asked him where they had come from. The kid’s face would flare up like a stoplight. The thought excited him.

“What do you mean?”

Sawamura yawned, rubbing his eyes. Was about to ask him if anything was wrong. Hadn’t yet registered that Miyuki was speaking to Chris over the speaker. The kid probably suffered from low blood pressure in the mornings. Or it could be, he glanced at the digital clock on the other side of the bed for confirmation, because they had barely gotten five hours of sleep. Miyuki ruffled his hair affectionately, leaned over to plant a kiss on his lips, sliding his tongue across Sawamura’s bottom lip, begging for entrance. Couldn’t help himself.

“I’ve tried calling his apartment and he’s not answering. He isn’t picking up his mobile either.”

At that, the kid jumped, shoving at his chest. Sawamura’s eyes dancing wildly, alarmed. He silently, animatedly gestured that he couldn’t find his clothes, where were they, dragged the sheets with him. Couldn’t wrap them around himself quick enough, his naked body still on display. Miyuki, help me! The kid dropped them, tripped on them as he tried again to cover up. Knocked his phone off of the edge of the bed in the process, the device clattering on the floor. Chris asked what that sound was. Sawamura froze. As if the man could see them, see him. Miyuki stood up.

“I’ll ask around. I think I have his co-worker’s number.”

His gaze darkened. He disconnected before Chris could properly answer, before he heard an answer. Moved the rest of the way, circled the bed, caught the brat in his arms, slid his lips against a flushed earlobe, dipped his tongue out to taste, bit down lightly. Sawamura gasped, his hands exploring Miyuki’s torso, muscles bunching beneath his fingers. The brat leaned forward, left kisses across his chest, sucked on a hardened nipple. Eased back to survey his handiwork, eyes ravenous. Miyuki moaned, told him to stop it, reached for the band of Sawamura’s underwear. Realized belatedly that he wasn’t wearing any. Cussed. Carried the smirking hellion back to bed.

**

“Sawamura, over here,” Miyuki waved him over, stopping himself from whistling at the sight of the kid in tastefully ripped jeans and a black Ultimate Rookies shirt. The brat had neglected to mention that he’d bought one and Miyuki couldn’t recall seeing it in his closet. It was a pleasantly endearing surprise. He wanted very badly to bend him over and kiss his breath away.

“Did you have any trouble finding my apartment?” He asked, settling for a quick hug, the kid’s arms automatically encircling his shoulders.

“Nah, the directions you gave were perfect,” Sawamura responded, grinning, “And I would have figured it out; you did take me there the other week.” He reached into his right pocket, absently inquired about Miyuki’s day, reported that he’d had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, had considerately thought to restock Miyuki’s fridge while he was there. Miyuki teased him about buying too much butter. The kid simply gave him a look, knew that he didn’t mean it.

“Here’s your key back,” he said, holding it out for Miyuki to receive.

He closed his fingers around the kid’s palm. Lingered, gazing into Sawamura’s eyes, drowning himself in amber, in molten lava. It would be a wonderful, blissful way to die.

“You can hang on to it.”

“Miyuki?” He saw his agent walking towards them, felt the kid inch closer to him, warily trying to decide whether Ryosuke-san was a friend or foe. Forgot that Miyuki had pointed him out at the release party, had stood with him on stage, thanking the crowd for being there to celebrate their success. It was adorable, Miyuki smiled. Adorable how the kid sometimes acted like a guard dog, impulsively barking, jumping in without thinking about the repercussions, bravely fending off his demons, lifting his shield above them both, an impish prince with a frying pan and his technicolored heart on his sleeves.

“Ryosuke-san, this is Sawamura,” Miyuki reminded, placing his hand on the kid’s shoulder.

“It’s great to finally meet you,” Ryosuke-san chuckled, following his lead. He had not realized that the man wasn’t alone. A child with bobbed hair, bangs falling over his eyes, peeked from behind him, clutching on to Ryosuke-san’s jacket for dear life. Miyuki had never met him before, had only heard about him in Ryosuke-san and Kuramochi’s stories, but he could hazard a guess. The shape of the child’s face, the color of his hair, a bright bubblegum pink, gave him away.

“This is my younger brother, Haruichi,” Ryosuke-san introduced, more for Sawamura than for Miyuki’s benefit. That made Sawamura’s ears perk, his expression change, delighted that he could possibly make a new friend closer to his age. It didn’t take him long to enthusiastically shake Haruichi’s hand, ask him where he was from, had he graduated from high school, what his hobbies were.

Miyuki watched the two interact as he and Ryosuke-san discussed recording schedules for the upcoming months. They had the other half of the album to work on still, alongside the promotion of “Awakening”, while Yuki-san had received the sheet music for “We’ll Make This Last Forever” and “Figure You Out” that morning. Chris was as productive as ever, even if he was half a world away, matching their pace. At the sound of the composer’s name being mentioned, Sawamura looked to him, catching his eye. There was a twinkle there, that familiarly dangerous, soul-crushing spark. His mouth immediately felt dry.

It hit him then, a single note, two, a budding wave-like melody which grew until it was a verse, until it had a solid chorus. Until it hit the shore, spraying him in the face. And it refused to stop there. Refused to let up, refused to be ignored. He reached for his phone, steadied his hand. Ryosuke-san was accustomed to seeing that look on his face, ventured that he had something on his mind, something important. Miyuki nodded, called out that he would be returning to the studio, rushing away, trying not to look back. He didn’t want to face Sawamura. Not yet. Not until he had extracted everything and began practicing it, testing it out on his guitar.

**

Miyuki didn’t know why exactly, but he was nervous. It was reminiscent of the first time he had gotten into the booth, of the first time he had tried playing in the studio. That session had been for an unplugged version of The Ultimate Rookies’ pioneer single, “Into Your Hurricane”, the song which had put them on the map. It hadn’t been as much of a success as “Lost and Found”, but it had stayed on the charts long enough to get them noticed. It was also the song he thought back to whenever he needed to steel himself, whenever he needed to remember that all he had to do was trust in his music, trust in his voice.

“What do you think?” He scanned their faces, fiddled with his guitar, rested it on his lap, the strap connecting it to his body, like a safety net or a security blanket.

“Not bad,” Nabe commented, playing his part on the bridge, getting used to it, playing it again. Zono sat down and began practicing the beat, switched it up when he got to the chorus. Miyuki thought that they could work that in, needed to check to see if the entire song would hold, unclipped his pen so that he could scrawl his notes on his copy, added arrows and rhythmic cues.

“Is it about anything in particular?” Kuramochi asked, setting his guitar up, testing the sound on the amplifier.

The truth was Miyuki wasn’t sure. While he had images in his head, they faded in and out, not as concrete as the other songs. He would have to wait until Chris returned to confer with him about it, knew that Chris would probably have suggestions on the timing and buildup. He was still nervous. He wanted to get as much done as possible before he showed the song to Chris, before he had Chris over to listen to it.

“I’m not set on the lyrics yet, but I do have some in mind,” he answered vaguely, and that was enough for the others. Enough for now. Ryosuke-san tapped on the glass in the control room, informed them that their lunch had arrived. No one got up, all of them still pouring over the harmony.

**

It had been ages since they were all at Chris’s apartment. Sawamura had offered to prepare dinner to celebrate his homecoming: laid out a tossed salad, homemade burgers, and crème brulée. Chris had been all too happy to let him take the lead, had busied himself by cleaning out his study and bedroom. The hamper had been proudly filled to the brim with clothes. They had watched the kid bustle about in the kitchen, as if he had never moved out, his movements practiced, clearly familiar. Chris had left everything the way it was. Miyuki recalled the times he had chatted with Sawamura by the counter, as the kid teased him with the ingredients, waving marinated meat in his face, giving him a whiff of cream-based sauce, dangling prawns underneath his nose. He chuckled, settling into the mood, catching Sawamura’s eye as he popped plate after plate out of the oven.

They couldn’t keep their hands off each other. That was new. While Chris had excused himself, to change his attire for the occasion, Sawamura had sidled up to Miyuki on the couch, coquettishly straddled his lap, grinded into him, held on to him for support as he pushed back, banging their mouths together. It was a feverish dream. His hands were beneath Sawamura’s shirt, lifting it, bunching it up as he went along. The brat was breathing into his neck, reaching for his fly. He covered Sawamura’s hand with his own, reminded him that they were at Chris’s place, that they couldn’t do that here. Softened at the brat’s pout, though he understood, came back to himself. Lamented that he didn’t know what had come over him, blamed Miyuki for his behavior, of course.

It was as they clinked their glasses together, beer sloshing over, dripping on to his sleeve, when Miyuki felt it. Felt that familiar sting, wondered if he should prostrate himself, or check to see him Todoroki Raichi had somehow followed his scent and broken in. He knew Chris was watching them, watching him most of all, his expression unreadable. It didn’t help that Sawamura had dozed off at his side, fingers clutching on to the hem of his sweater. Chris stood, lifted the kid easily, towering over the both of them, and transferred Sawamura to the couch. He paused, turned to regard Miyuki warily. It had been a while since he’d seen that look.

“What’s going on, Miyuki?”

He jumped at the sound of Chris’s voice, even if he had expected it. It was likely because he had begun to doze off, carrying the look on Sawamura’s face with him, allowing it to lull him into a false sense of security. But at the moment, with Chris’s pointed stare on him like a poised dagger, almost accusing, he felt very much like a stranger again, out of place inside the apartment he had begun to think of as his second home.

He decided to say the first thing on his mind, the truest thing. Spilled his guts, watched them fall to the floor, wishing the carpet would swirl around him, form a pit, transform into quicksand, and swallow him whole.

“There was a time, you know,” he whispered, “when I was convinced that these feelings for you would be the death of me, Chris-san.”

There was a heartbeat, definitely his, threatening to thump out of his chest; it was making him sick. There was a heartbeat, maybe two, his breathing heavy, echoing in his ears, before Chris responded.

“And now?”

“And now,” he repeated, swallowing, “I’ve seen something different. I’ve found… something more.” He set his glass down, thought about it, searched for his paperboard coaster, found it hiding beneath an empty bag of potato chips. Flipped the coaster on to its dry side. Placed his glass on it. “I have something more. Something more important to me than anything else I have in my life. Something I want to protect.”

He imagined caressing the kid’s cheek, imagined himself leaning down, planting kisses on his forehead, eyelids, his nose. Imagined pressing their mouths together. Knew Sawamura would kiss him back, even if he were half asleep, would fold right into his arms, had gotten used to the sensation of being cradled there. It almost made him want to cry. How had he gotten so lucky? Why had Sawamura chosen to take a chance on him? Seen through his bullshit, his bravado, his greed? Accepted all that about him and still stayed by side?

“Someone I want to protect,” he finished. Someone he couldn’t let go off, no matter how uncertain the future was, no matter what the kid decided. He wasn’t going to let go. Never.

“Eijun is in love with you,” Chris intoned, following his gaze, looked down at the kid. Stroked his cheek. Miyuki wanted to tell him to keep his hands to himself, kept his mouth shut. Scolded himself for having such dark thoughts, and about Chris no less. But then—

“I don’t know if something different or something more is enough, Miyuki,” Chris fired another bullet, the blow hitting him in the chest, “You need to think about this, really think about this.”

“Chris-san, I…” He watched the man he had long admired shake his head, close his eyes, the pain on his face evident. He couldn’t begin to understand it, didn’t know where to start to unravel the threads. Only knew that they both cared about Sawamura, so fucking much, more than the brat would ever know.

“I won’t tolerate anyone hurting him, Miyuki.”

He stood up, collected his belongings, slipped his phone into his back pocket. Met Chris’s eyes over the coffee table. He watched Chris watching him, walked to the front door, trudged out into the night. Before he heard the soft hitch behind him, however, he had to set things straight. Had to have Chris know.

“I don’t think I could tolerate that either.”

He looked up at the moon.

**

Miyuki was hunched over his guitar the next time Chris found him. He and Kuramochi had been discussing the arrangement for their new song, when Ryosuke-san strolled in, mentioned that Chris was in the studio, looked to be preparing to record. He felt that it was a challenge, knowing that Chris had finally decided to try releasing his own music again. Would have been pleased, cheering him on if this had happened months ago, had he not realized that they would be competing with each other now, in more ways than one. Threw his sheet music at the wall, listened to Kuramochi tell the others to leave him alone, it wasn’t a good day, they should give him some space. He heard the measured footsteps approaching him, could somehow tell who it was without looking up, waved him off, exhaustion building.

Chris drew a seat out next to him, a rustling sound signaling that the legendary composer had thought to pick up his papers for him, treating him like a child. Miyuki sighed.

“It’s coming together, but I don’t think I’ve got it yet,” He admitted, slowly, fixing his bloodshot eyes on Chris’s face, hating how put-together he was in contrast, in his violet scarf and grey coat, sitting tall, his back straight, gaze clear. Chris continued to study him, continued to press into him, still testing him, trying his nerves. Beneath the pressure, however, Miyuki could tell somehow that he was concerned, that Chris had come to check on him, that Chris had come to help him. It was ridiculous and cruel and beautiful, in a way only Chris could be.

“What do you think? Any ideas?” He conceded, nodded towards his song, the crumpled sheets. Chris followed the notes, mouthed the words, grip tightening. He watched Chris read through it again and again. Until he was satisfied. Until Chris had looked up once more and quelled the demons inside him with a smile, a true reassuring smile. The light in it reached his eyes.

“I think you should call all the shots on this one, Miyuki,” he said, “Your lyrics, your arrangement, your melody. You don’t need me.”

He considered those words, searched them. Found the spark. Held it, embraced it, allowed it to sizzle, imagined it spitting cinders. He set it aside and watched Chris offer him a hand. There was nothing else for him to do, nothing else for him think. He took it. Got to his feet. Asked the older man if he wanted a bottle of cold tea. It was his treat.

“Thank you, Chris-san.”

**

Their fingers collided above the soy sauce, Sawamura’s gaze following him from across the table. Miyuki grinned, motioning for him to go ahead. Beneath the kotatsu, he could feel Sawamura’s toes tapping on his outstretched leg, pressing down it, making it spasm. He playfully kicked the brat off. It didn’t matter, Sawamura’s toes found their way back to him within seconds. A needle scratching the same point on a skipping record, their wound up duet playing over and over again. He had long since acknowledged that this was the brat’s way of letting him know that he wanted to feel Miyuki’s body heat. That Sawamura needed some part of their bodies touching as frequently as they could manage. It would have been invasive, if not for the fact that Miyuki had begun to feel the slight chill as well, that strangely pronounced absence when they weren’t at least back to back beneath the covers. He preferred it, of course, when they were chest to chest.

“Have you told Chris-san yet?” He asked as Sawamura plopped another salmon roll into his mouth. The brat hummed in response, reaching for his beer. Miyuki chuckled, “And what did he say?”

“Shishou was pleased,” Sawamura replied, setting his empty glass back on the table, “He said that teaching would suit me.” A slight flush dusted his cheeks, possibly because he was recalling how Chris had reacted to the news. Miyuki knew how much he valued Chris’s opinions, admitted to himself that he valued them as well, but couldn’t help the challenging glint in his eyes.

“Now that you’re going back to school, he won’t get to see you as often.”

Sawamura responded automatically, failing to notice him reach beneath the blanket, yanking at the brat’s ankle: “I can still drop by his place whenever I’m—,” his golden eyes widened, “Ahhh! Hey!” He yelled as Miyuki dragged him under. For all his complaining, for all his profanities, there wasn’t much resistance. It didn’t take long to pull him out on the other side, his legs spread and propped above Miyuki’s waist. The brat’s hair was a wild mess; Miyuki reached up to tenderly pick at a stray thread tangled in it.

“I could have hit my head, you jackass,” Sawamura hissed against the shell of his ear, breath warm, wet, wonderful. Miyuki trailed his hands beneath the brat’s shirt, fingers tracing circles on his back. “Miyuki, wait!”

“Can you reach for the stereo? Turn it on,” he said, exhaling against the exposed skin of Sawamura’s stomach, planting kiss after kiss, nip after nip. Miyuki felt him grab a chunk of hair near the nape of his own neck, his other hand on Miyuki’s shoulder for support, swaying into him.

“W-What the fuck?”

“Just do it,” he urged, throwing Sawamura’s shirt to the side, the garment hitting the window.

He had already switched to the right station while the brat was in the bathroom getting ready. Zaizen Naoyuki’s latest single, one which had been co-written with Takigawa Chris Yuu, was on its first, maybe second chorus. He drew Sawamura down, their mouths meeting in the middle. Wondered when it would be the right moment to ask if the brat ever wanted to learn how to do a strip tease. Wondered if he would get clobbered for his trouble. He would probably pout, win the brat over as he always did. It would be their little secret.

“What’re you up to?” Sawamura bit down on his lower lip. Miyuki held him in place, their foreheads touching.

“Our next single is debuting tonight,” Miyuki closed his eyes, surrendering to the sensations, “It’s actually one of the last songs we finished for the album.”

“You’re releasing it before ‘The World Without You’ and ‘Take Me Back Home’?” Sawamura’s tone softened, his confusion apparent.

“Yeah, it had to be this one and it had to be this month,” Miyuki answered, digging his fingers in deeper, they were sure to leave marks. “It’s a song I wrote and composed without Chris-san.”

“What’s it called?”

He saw himself pausing by the crack of an unlocked door, saw himself peer into it, felt the welcoming breeze beckon him over, saw himself venture inside. He told himself it would be better to wait for the owner to come home, but curiosity got the better of him. He was a daring explorer, and this was a game of chance. He was slinking through a hallway, his arms outstretched in front of him, feeling for the walls, nearly slipping. And then he saw it, a glimmer in the dark. A spark he knew so very well. The sun blazing upon him, enveloping him in its intense warmth, taking him on a journey.

“Miyuki?”

He saw himself on a field next, dandelions blowing all around him. Searched for a distinct patch, a secret path in which he tumbled forward into a pocket next to a lake. And across that lake was another field, a smaller one, a field of sunflowers, rising up to greet the dawn, the tiny cavern holding him up as if he were in the palm of a mighty giant’s hand. He saw dragons flying above him, waved at them from where he stood. Saw a once-lonesome child huddled on his right, wiping his tears away, helped him get to his feet.

“It’s called, ’I See The Sun’,” Miyuki smiled, opening his eyes to meet Sawamura’s gaze. The DJ announced that it was a song which signaled new beginnings, a song which was produced to mark a one-year anniversary, but then that was all she knew and the listeners would have to guess what kind of occasion it was exactly. Miyuki cupped Sawamura’s cheeks, studying his reaction as their song began to play.

“What do you think?” He asked, three minutes later, as Raichi started pounding on the wall adjacent, yelling that they should learn to keep it down, learn to respect his privacy, he was trying to watch his damn porn.

“Not bad,” Sawamura grinned, his tone light, casual. A little too casual. Miyuki readied his forefinger, readied to poke him until he cried out, begged him to stop.

Not bad at all.


~OWARI