Author: ali || crux_australis
Fandom: 関ジャニ∞ || Kanjani8
Main Characters: 大倉忠義, 安田章大 || Ohkura Tadayoshi, Yasuda Shota
Ohkura Tadayoshi never fully realized what was literally beside him five years ago. People seldom get the chance to make things right, but Ohkura does and he rushes to change the course of his life; to take what he’s taken for granted.
The characters used are properties of their respective selves and management agencies. The drama, プロポーズ大作戦 (Operation Love), is property of Fuji TV, Kaneko Shigeki and its producers. The song, 小さな恋の歌, is property of MONGOL800 and its composer(s). The situations in the following story are made up and any similarities to actual happenings are purely coincidental.
The sun shines brightly even as light rain drizzles down. Ohkura should be annoyed and feel uncomfortable at the odd mix of hot sun and cold rain, but he isn’t; not when he is running beside a laughing Yasuda, frantically looking for random shelter from the sudden downpour. Cold water pelts the hot pavement and steam rises from the streets, but Ohkura doesn’t care; Yasuda is there.
They end up in a little coffee shop in a barely-there alley.
“I’ll have a mug of hot chocolate, please, and my friend here will have a milk tea,” Yasuda says to the waitress as soon as they are settled in a little booth near the back of the shop.
Ohkura raises an eyebrow. “What if I wanted something else?”
“You didn’t, you don’t, and you won’t,” Yasuda replies cheekily, eyes alight with humor. “You’re still the same Ohkura who wouldn’t order anything else to drink but really gay milk tea.”
“Cheeky brat,” Ohkura replies with a laugh, because even after all these years, Yasuda still knows him. Maybe, he thinks, just maybe, there is hope.
“So, what have you been up to all these years you’ve been holing yourself away from the rest of us?” Yasuda asks, taking a sip of his hot chocolate. “Besides working, that is,” he quickly adds the moment Ohkura opens his mouth to reply.
“Ah, but what if I intended to say something else?” Ohkura challenges.
“You didn’t, you don’t and you won’t,” Yasuda counters with an airy laugh.
“It should really creep me out how much you know my mind, but why doesn’t it?” Ohkura asks, head cocked to one side.
“I don’t know,” Yasuda answers, an unsure half-smile on his face. “Is it bad? Do you hate it?”
“No,” Ohkura reassures the other man, “I guess it just reminds me that you know more of me than I know of you and that’s what I hate.” Ohkura coughs slightly before continuing, “Yassan, I-”
Yasuda’s phone rings before Ohkura can finish speaking.
“Sorry, I have to answer this,” Yasuda excuses himself sheepishly, flipping open his phone and turning slightly away from Ohkura before speaking to the caller. “Yes? Yeah, I’ll be done in about half an hour. What? No, no, I can get there by myself. I’ll just meet you at the usual place? Okay. See you.”
“Important appointment?” Ohkura inquires as soon as Yasuda closes his phone and turns back to face him again.
“Um, yeah…kinda,” Yasuda replies, flustered for the second time since their reunion, and Ohkura finds himself unsettled.
“Oh, well, if you need to go, you don’t need to keep me company. I’ll just finish my milk tea and be on my way, as well,” Ohkura offers, trying to find a way out of the sudden, inexplicable awkward atmosphere.
“No, it’s okay. I’m not really in a rush, it’s not like we have a set meeting time,” Yasuda smiles slightly. “I’d like to stay a bit more, actually. That is, if you don’t mind.”
“If I minded, Yassan, you would’ve shopped through town in this batshit crazy weird weather by yourself,” Ohkura points out, letting out a wry half-smile.
Yasuda laughs in response. “It feels like old times, but kind of different, doesn’t it?” he asks.
“Yeah. We hung out a lot back in high school but I don’t think we ever hung out just the two of us. Why didn’t we?” Ohkura queries, genuinely wondering. Having things be just between the two of them seems so natural now, so why didn’t they ever do things this way before?
“I dunno,” Yasuda answers with a wistful smile, and Ohkura knows that he does but just won’t tell.
It takes three days of niggling anxiety at the back of his mind before Ohkura succumbs and asks Maruyama to meet him for coffee. By the time the other man arrives at the coffee shop near the Namba station, Ohkura has been waiting for close to half an hour.
When Ohkura starts complaining, Maruyama simply pats his pinstriped business suit down and answers, “When you suddenly get a call from someone who says, ‘Maru, meet me at the coffee shop near Namba station right now. I’ll be there in 15 minutes,’ then puts the phone down before you can react, then you can complain. As it is, you’re lucky I even showed up, you prick.”
Ohkura has the grace to look sheepish, hand resting on his nape before turning around and going inside the shop.
They catch up on each other's lives over coffee (or the usual milk tea, in Ohkura’s case) and cake until Maruyama puts his empty coffee mug down and says, “Look, I know you didn’t ask me to haul myself out of the office and skip the rest of the day to just hang out and make idle talk. Stop pussyfooting, man, and just say what you want to say.”
Ohkura finishes his cake and puts the fork down before he stares at Maruyama for awhile, looks away and finally talks.
“Yassan’s been acting kind of shifty lately, Maru, and I’d normally give him privacy, but when he suddenly has to leave in the middle of hanging out, it’s hard,” he says rather agitatedly, running long fingers roughly through his hair. “If you know something I don’t, can’t you just tell me?”
“Man, I’m sorry, but that’s something Yasu has to tell you himself. I wish I could tell you but I just can’t,” Maru replies, sounding sincerely regretful.
Ohkura purses his lips together in thought and nods resignedly. “”I guess I should’ve known you’d say that. You were never one to let out secrets, no matter how loud and random you’ve always been.”
Maru laughs in response. “I dunno why, but I get the feeling that I was praised and insulted at the same time.”
“With me? You’ll never know,” Ohkura quips back, lips twitching up in a teasing smirk.
Maruyama smiles in response before sobering. “Listen, Ohkura, I’ve known you guys for most of my life, and if there’s something bugging the both of you, wouldn’t it be better if you just come clean? Tell him. I’m sure Yasu won’t mind.”
Ohkura stares out the window at the people milling about before turning back to the other man and smiling. “Maybe I will, Maru. Thanks.”
The next time they meet, the sun is still out and the heat is almost unbearable, but at least this time, Ohkura thinks, there is no rain.
“That wasn’t very fair,” Ohkura complains as he flops onto the ground, panting to catch his breath.
“Life isn’t very fair,” Yasuda says laughingly, sticking his tongue out at the other man as he sits beside him.
“Since when has soccer been ‘life’?” Ohkura asks, an eyebrow raised in amusement.
“Since I beat your sorry ass just now,” Yasuda replies cheekily, mouth stretched in an obscenely wide grin and eyes alight with mischief.
“I hardly think that counts as ‘beating my ass,’you know,” Ohkura grumbles in reply. He is tempted to show-sulk some more if Yasuda’s tinkling laughter didn’t make his lips twitch upwards in a grudging, answering smile.
“Spending all this time with you is like stepping through a time warp and going back to high school,” Yasuda says, head cocked to one side and smile still in place.
“I guess I never progressed beyond the high school me, then,” Ohkura muses, voice tinged with slight disappointment.
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Yasuda hastens to counter. “I just meant that it feels like high school all over again, you know? Us hanging out and having all this fun. It’s like skipping class, only now, it’s skipping work, I guess. It’s nice. Ever since we started hanging out again, it feels like I’ve got back some of my youth; it’s been nothing but fun and laughter,” he finishes with a laugh to emphasize his point.
“Yassan, I…it’s nice that you see this whole thing that way, but I don’t want just fun and laughter from you,” Ohkura says seriously, looking Yasuda unblinkingly in the eye.
“I, what? What do you mean? Are you getting tired of all this or something? It’s fine with me if we stop meeting this often,” Yasuda smiles unsurely, fingers gripping the hem of his shirt tightly.
Ohkura sighs. “You can’t get any farther from the truth if you tried, Yassan,” he smiles fondly.
Yasuda smiles on but looks more confused, and Maruyama’s words still echo in his head, so Ohkura forges on. It is a fifty-fifty situation and Ohkura has always figured himself to be lucky in gambling.
“I don’t want to be a fair-weather friend,” he clarifies. “I don’t want to be the guy you go to when you want a laugh and some bit of fun and relive your seishun days. I want to monopolize your time day in and day out until all you see is me, and all you know is me, and all you need is me. But I don’t want just the laughter; I want everything, Yassan. I want your tears, your frustration, your anger, your sadness, your lameness; everything.”
“What are you saying?” Yasuda replies with a smile so wide that his jaw hurt and the eyes of game, cornered and staring down the business end of a rifle. The taller man can see him start to shake and edge away.
“I’m saying that I li-,” Ohkura starts gently.
“Tacchon, I can’t,” Yasuda cuts him off, smile now gone and tears spilling out of still wide open eyes. “Why are you saying all these things now? Why can’t you have said them years ago before every waking moment was spent berating myself for being g-gay and falling in love with my best friend?”
“Yassan, I-,” Ohkura starts, a hand reaching out to Yasuda before the other scoots away, eyes wide and accusing.
“This is confusing. You’re confusing, Tacchon. I can’t…we can’t,” Yasuda says, starting to sound panicked. “I can’t understand you! How can you do this to me? How can you say all this now? Why now? Why me? Why, why, why?!”
“You keep saying ‘can’t,’ but why can’t I, Yassan? Why can’t we?” Ohkura asks calmly, eyes pleading.
“We can't b-because I’m seeing someone else,” Yasuda chokes out with a sob. “We met on the job a year ago and he was really nice and he asked me out but I wasn’t ready yet. But then, I finally got myself over you and we started going out days before our high school reunion.” Yasuda’s small frame is shaking and his mind feels drained when he finishes explaining.
“Oh,” is all that Ohkura says in response, smiling wryly before standing up on unsteasdy legs and dusting himself off. He reaches a hand out to help Yasuda up and the smaller man hesitates for a moment before taking it. Neither lets go immediately and somehow, to Ohkura, this feels a lot like hello and goodbye.
Silent tears continue to run down Yasuda’s face and no matter how hurt and stupid he feels inside, Ohkura feels guilty for putting those tears there; for the torn look on Yasuda’s pale, elfin face.
He raises his hand and Yasuda flinches back slightly before relaxing as Ohkura cups his cheek and brushes his thumb over his tears.
“You probably cried like this way back then because of me and I didn’t do anything because I didn’t know,” Ohkura smiles bitterly, lips twisting in self-derision.
Yasuda hiccups and sniffles, eyes falling shut. He leans briefly into Ohkura’s touch before he turns away, picks up his things and walks toward the park exit without saying a word.
It is the first time that Ohkura is left to stare after Yasuda’s back.
Comments are love. ♥
Part I << Part II
Part IV >> Part V