Pair: Miya Osamu x chubbyfm!reader
Summary: Osamu wears tight shirt or suit as atsumu advised…to seduce you (his roommate)
A/n: it￼’s been so long since I posted something. Simnce its break time, I’ll post more hopefully. It took me awhile to finish this. I didn’t even realize this will be lomg so here it is lol. Just a new self indulgemt lol
Taglist: @sunarent @sunarinnie @crystal-lilac @moontxz @kenmakozumeswifey @bakugossanity
“This is not going to work, Atsumu,” Osamu growls at his brother. Though, his brother literally is not having it.
“The fact that you already asked me for advice on how to get their attention, you are left with no choice,” Atsumu chuckles. He just watches his brother repeatedly fixing his white polo that is practically one size smaller that he always wears in front of a mirror. The twins have been staying in the backroom where the cafe staff usually settle. A cafe Osamu opened as another business of his. While the staff are outside handling the orders and all that, Atsumu is in help-mode for his brother who practically has fallen over heels to one of the regular customers.
“Trust me. It’ll work,” Atsmu sighed.
“But does the polo have to be this fit?” Osamu turns to his brother.
Atsumu chuckles. “Well, that’s practically the point,”
“Isn’t the point to look oh-so mature?” Osamu fixes his sleeves.
“My goodness. Be glad that my girlfriend knows them well to pass on these pointers,” Atsumu comes closer to his brother and gives him a pat on the shoulder. “If it’s really just the polo then I should have let you wear that brown polo uniform you usually wear. The point is to actually look good in the outfit and show off a little bit of….muscle. Especially the chest muscles” he added. Atsumu can’t help but just laugh at the frown and little bit of seriousness on Osamu’s side.
Osamu doesn’t answer anymore. Here’s the thing. He would have done it himself the moment he found himself liking a certain regular customer in the coffee shop. Though, his little advances such as the little notes and the small talks are not taking him anymore. Therefore, when he found out that Atsumu actually knows this person, he swallowed his pride and asked his brother for help.
“What time is she arriving anyway?” Atsumu asked.
At that, it only occurred to Osamu that you are arriving anytime soon. He then quickly wraps his apron around his waist and heads out without minding his brother at all. He heads over behind the counter. Just in time, you arrive at the coffee shop. As cliche as it sounds. Whenever you enter the coffee shop, everything seems to stop around Osamu (well not literally). His heart always pounds against his chest. Everyone else but him notices the blush that appears on his cheeks whenever you stand in front of the counter with a smile.
"Hi, Osamu," you finally said. He takes a while before he finally speaks.
"Good day, y/n. The usual?" He asked.
You smiled and nodded. He always loves your bright expression. He then places your usual order of iced chocolate and eclair. It doesn't take long before one of his staff makes your order. With this, he takes his time to have a small chat with you.
"So, how's work so far?" Osamu asked.
"Not that interesting. Though, since we are working on an anniversary project, we'll soon be busy," you said. Then from there, you and Osamu start to have a quick conversation about anything else. You always love the short conversation with Osamu. It feels natural and just easing (probably one reason why you kept going back to the coffee shop). Being new in the city, it sure sometimes feels lonely. It was probably the little conversation with this barista owner you met that made things much better.
Though, you always knew that this man has a handsome look. However, you don't seem to mind it at all. You always thought you don't have a chance or most likely he's already dating someone. So, if anything, you just let him be your very handsome barista friend you know. Although, now, the more you spend time talking, the more you just notice something…different in his usual look. It took awhile before you managed to notice it.
"If…you don't mind me asking," you suddenly blurted out. It's not exactly you who just say whatever you want, but the words just came out.
"Yes?" Osamu asked.
"I…well…I mean…I don't mean to sound rude or anything just well I just noticed something different. Have you been working out?" You asked. You seriously just blushed that you actually asked that. Well, you already dug your own grave.
"You know what just ignore the question. That was a weird question," you said and just in time oje of the staff serves your drink. It's really good timing. You have no idea where the conversation will go. You sure wouldn't want the conversation to lead to you admitting that the fact that his fit polo shows off more of his big chest just makes you think things. You don't want to label yourself as a pervert. You will not think more than just that he looks fine in that fit polo. That's it.
"I mean I do work out from time to time," Osamu cuts you off from your thoughts. You look up at him to see a smile and a blush.
"Oh…uh…well…um-" you have no idea what to say.
And that saves the bell. Your phone rings.
"Oh sorry, I have to take that. I…uh…see you tomorrow," you said with a forced smile. You immediately answer the call and leave the cafe which then leaves Osamu hanging.
When silence settles in, it is broken with Atsumu's laugh. He cackles at how the supposed flirting ended up.
"Shut up!" Osamu growls.
"Uh…I mean I do work out from time to time," Atsumu imitates his brother's failed flirting attempt. "If only I've got that on video. Is that how you flirt even with other women?" He laughs again.
Osamu groans and goes back to the backroom to change into his usual uniform. Atsumu follows inside.
"Why are you changing back?" Atsumu said with an amused smile.
"I'm not asking you for advice again," Osamu unbottons his polo.
Atsumu laughs. "Don't be so dramatic. The polo tactic worked,"
Osamu stops and he turns to his twin brother. "Didn't you just see what happened back there?"
Atsumu then sighs from his brother's drama. "Why the heck do you think she asked if you worked out? She noticed that something was different. Just add a little flirting to say you're interested at her then it'll be better than today's awful attempt,"
Atsumu pulls out his phone and does some typing. In a second, Osamu's phone notification turned on. Osamu takes out his phone and reads a message from his brother.
"What's this?" Osamu asked.
"We're having a drink today. My girlfriend and y/n will be there. Redeem yourself," Atsumu said and turned to the door. "Oh…and make sure to wear something semi-formal. Use that polo, then just add on a slacks and blazer then you're good,"
At that, Atsumu left, leaving Osamu in his own thoughts. Well, instead of nervousness or whatnot, he sure felt a strong determination to make sure that this time it works.
On second thought…this is not going as he planned.
It's not him to be late to any parties, but this sure changed things when he remembered that coffee beans and ingredient orders were to arrive. It means he has to help with sorting them.
Now, when he arrives at the hotel bar to where he is told to go, he is already an hour late. Why does the hotel have to be forty five minutes away? He thought.
Though, when he got to the place, he didn't realize that it was a party. It was a sort of office celebration of sorts. There are banners and balloons here and there and many who are in their work clothes. He walks around trying to find Atsumu, and it doesn't take long before he finds his brother with his girlfriend.
"Hey," He calls. Atsumu turns to his brother.
"Eyy, you made it," Atsumu takes a look at his outfit.
"You followed my advice," Atsumu smiled. Osamu simply rolls his eyes.
"Have you seen y/n?" Osamu looks around.
"Um…I'm not actually sure," Atsumu turns to his girlfriend.
"She usually just stays in one place. I last saw her…there she is," Atsumu's girlfriend points out. Osamu looks at where she's pointing and finds you to have come out from the restroom. He notices that you've changed into a semi-formal attire. For a moment, he admired the simple dark blue slit dress that shapes your plush curves. You then have a simple black coat that covers a bit of the dress and your exposed skin.
He doesn't waste anymore time and follows you. Though, he then notices that you are already leaving the hotel bar. He suddenly felt the defeat creeping up from behind him. He hurries his pace and follows you out. For a moment, he loses sight of you and immediately finds you in front of the lobby desk.
He waits for a moment before you finally turn and you see him.
"Osamu?" Your eyes filled with surprise.
"Hi," Osamu said with a smile.
"Wh-what are you doing here?" You asked.
"Um, Atsumu invited me to the work party. I kind of arrived late," Osamu rubs the back of his neck. Though, his eyes travel down to your hand that is holding a hotel card key.
"You've checked in?" He asked.
You look at the key you're holding. "Oh..um…yeah. I'm feeling a little tipsy and I don't feel like going home," you said with a smile. However, he definitely notices that there's something bothering you. He feels like behind that smile is someone who's feeling down.
Silence blankets between the two of you. Your mind is practically everywhere. Parties are never really your thing. You really don't like how you feel like it's a pit of negative thoughts. Whenever you are in a party, no matter how much you dress, there is always this lingering feeling of insecurity. You repeatedly tell yourself that people aren't judging you, but whenever people glance at you in parties, you always feel so small. Now, it is just the same in the party. You don't want to just sit there and let yourself drown in those thoughts. So..here you are with a hotel card key.
"I'm guessing then that you'll be going up to rest?" Osamu asked. He tries not to show the disappointed and defeated feeling that is enveloping his feelings. Though, you sure did notice a little bicker of hope in his eyes. You don't know if it's hope but it just made you not want to deny him away. Besides, seeing him here suddenly even made you feel better than how you usually are in other parties.
"Well…not really rest. I don't think I'm that sleepy yet," you see his eyes glint. "Do you perhaps want to come up with me? We can just hang out and talk," you said.
Osamu knows there's no hidden motive behind those words but he can't help but just blush. Snap out of it…it's not that. He kept repeating himself.
"Of course, I would love to. I could get us some pastries and coffee from nearby and take it to the hotel room," he said.
"That'll be lovely. Thank you. I'll be in room 2105," you said.
"Got it," Osamu refrained himself from dashing out to do the task so that he could hurry back to meet with you again. “You go ahead,” He added.
You simply smiled and turned to head over to the elevator. Osamu then turns to go to the nearest cafe. However, as he turns he finds his brother smirking at him.
“The heck. How long have you been there?” Osamu frowns.
“Just in time for me to hear her invite you to her hotel room,” Atsumu smirks.
Osamu can’t help but sigh. “It’s not what you think. We’ll just have a chat,”
“Then why does it have to be in a hotel room,” Atsumu chuckles.
“You pervert. I’m not like you,” Osamu growls. He then walks away.
“Make sure to use protection!” Out of all the places, Atsumu had to say that outloud.
“You jerk!” Osamu mumbles. His cheeks blushing by the idea, but he is sure that that would not be what is happening. He is already content and happy with just being able to spend more time with you.
Osamu hurries to the nearest cafe and buys your usual favorite of iced chocolate and sweet pastries. It doesn’t take long for him to get back to the hotel and head up to your room. He knocks on the door and you immediately open it.
“That was quite quick,” you step aside and let him in.
“It was just nearby and there weren’t many people,” He entered only to notice that you actually got a suite room. He then finds himself standing in a small living room with one door leading to the bedroom itself.
“You got yourself a suite?” He asked as he put down the drinks and pastries on the center table.
“Yeah. I’m thinking of staying here over the weekend. This will be a little nice treat to myself, I guess,” you chuckled and settled on the couch.
“That’s a nice treat,” Osamu takes out the drinks and gives you the ice chocolate.
“Thanks,” You mumbled.
"So…tell me…what's the reason for you to go to my work party?" You asked. In all honesty, the question took Osamu off guard to the point you noticed him tense up. You can't help but simply chuckle at the sudden reaction.
He settles a few spaces beside you and gives an awkward smile. "Uh…well, can't I simply go to a party?"
You smirk and tilt your head to the side. "That is the most obvious lie I've ever heard,"
"What makes you think it is a lie?" Osamu's cheeks are turning red.
"If you must know…I'm an observant person myself. There have been few instances in the coffee shop where you do the exact same thing when you try to lie," You take a sip of your drink.
Osamu doesn't answer.
"So, I'm assuming there's a specific reason why you went to my work party? I get why Atsumu is there. How about you? Perhaps…someone catching your eye?" You asked. Though, you are too oblivious for your own good to even realize that the question you're asking is making him dig his own grave. He didn't even think it through as to make up an excuse for it.
"Perhaps," he said with a calm expression.
You smile and chuckle. "Look at you single and ready to mingle. You should have gone back to go back to the party then rather than staying here with me," you casually take a look at your phone just to check for any messages or notifications. Though, at this time, Osamu's gaze shifts differently as he notices that you have no idea as to why he is here instead of at the party.
"..would you believe me if I say that I was there because of you?" Osamu takes a sip of his drink.
"Hm? Me?" You look at him with no actual clue.
"Did I forget to pay or something?" You chuckle.
Osamu takes a deep breath and takes a leap of faith by scooting closer to you. His eyes gazing into yours with admiration.
"No. I just wanted to see you," his voice low and smooth but you can feel the sincerity in his voice. The moment he sees the blush on your cheeks, he knew that you understood what it meant.
You chuckle nervously and look away. "Don't kid around, Osamu,"
Osamu tilts his head to get your gaze. "Look at me, y/n," he said. You are hesitant at first, but you turn your gaze back at him.
"I hope that what I'm about to say doesn't ruin what we have now," Osamu takes a deep breath. "I…like you and I hope to take you out on a date if you allow it,"
Your eyes widen as you process the words. Though, you have to be honest that you did have a little crush on him, but you always counter yourself that it will be a far fetched dream. Therefore, the more you process the words the more you are in disbelief.
You stand up from the couch. "I…uh…I'm sure you're mistaken," you chuckle nervously. You put your drink on the desk nearby.
"Mistaken? I'm pretty sure that the person I like is you. No one is as beautiful as you," you blush at his words. You could feel your heart thundering against your chest. At the moment, you have no idea where to put your hands.
"Then…um…maybe you're bewitched or something?" You honestly have no idea how to go about this conversation. Though, with the way Osamu is looking at you, he seems like he is not backing out now.
Osamu stands up and slowly walks over to you. You try to look everywhere else other than him, but you hear him speak once more. "If I were bewitched…then I'm glad I was bewitched by you," he stops with only a step away from you.
He grabs your hand. When you turn to look at him, he places a kiss on your knuckles. As much as you find yourself not breathing anymore, you have no idea how much Osamu wants to do this. He's taking his chances. He wants to break the wall of obliviousness that stops him from asking you out.
"You…you're crazy," you mumble.
Osamu smiles at the sudden shyness. He pushes a strand of hair away from your face. "Crazy for you," he chuckles.
You then look up at him, trying to find any lie in them, but you couldn't find anything. "Are you sure you like me? I mean…look at me "
"I look at you and all I could think about is seeing your smile, hugging your plush form, caressing your cheeks…kissing your lips," At the last part, his eyes look down on your lips. Your breath hitch at the implication of it. However, as much as Osamu wants to do that, he doesn't want to force you. He'll give you the space.
"As much as I don't want you to hear you say no…but don't be pressured. If you say no, then we'll just go back to how we are before," he said and smiled. He takes a step back.
Before silence seeos in, you hear your phone ring.
"I…I think I have to take that," you said. You grab your phone, but you look at Osamu and you slowly see the nervousness in his face. Therefore, before you answer the call and go to the room, you give him an assuring smile.
"This will take awhile. Please…don't leave," you said.
Osamu nods. You enter the bedroom and answer your call. You then take a call which is apparently from your co-worker. The conversation is not as important but it did take awhile.
Therefore, the moment you finish the call, you immediately open the door. However, you stop midway when you hear Osamu talking to someone. You take a peek to find him sitting on the couch and on the phone.
"No I will not open two buttons of my shirt, you dumbass," You hear him mutter.
"It's not attractive, it's being a complete pervert. She might think that I'm just after her just to sleep with her," You hear him take a deep breath. "I just…I'm serious, 'tsumu. I don't want to screw this over. Well, I think I'm already screwing it over," he lets out a bitter laugh.
"Confess? Sure did, dumbass," then silence lingers in. Then, he lets out a soft chuckle.
"Wow, that's the first time I ever heard you try to cheer me up," you heard him say. "Well, I'll hold you to that. I guess all I could do is hope. Oh gosh, if I actually get rejected, I will never ask you for advice again. You and your tight polo tactic…" Osamu goes on bickering with his brother. Though, as he goes on and speaks your mind wanders to the things he said.
I like you and I hope to take you out on a date if you allow it.
You've always wanted to experience a kind of date that is not forced. A date wherein there is no awkwardness and there are actual mutual feelings for each other. Though, it seems too good to be true. Even if you see yourself wanting to say yes to him, it all feels too good to be true. It's as if someone is playing a joke on you and making a fool out of you. As much as you know true worth in every accomplishment you've had in life, when it comes to this aspect of life - dating - you don't exactly have as much confidence with it. You know your type (as to admit that Osamu is your exact type), but sometimes there are instances in life where life makes it look like you are aiming too high. So, in this kind of situation…what are you supposed to do?
You grab the door knob but you don't turn it. Though, with all that you've been through, you've learned that you get the happiness you deserve as long as you take the first hard step. Perhaps, this is the first step. It's just much scarier since it involves your heart and another person. If this goes south, it'll be difficult to move on (yet still be able to move on). Though, it's a matter of taking the first step.
You grip harder on the door knob and before you even turn it, you hear a knock on the door.
"Um…uh…hey, it's me," Osamu said. "Listen…um…I won't take it against you if you reject me. If you don't feel the same way, I'll completely understand. I am more than willing to be your friend you can talk to…if you're still comfortable with that. I just thought I need to-" you don't let him finish at all and immediately open the door.
"Stop right there," you said.
His voice falters. Your eyes do not look at him, but you can feel his anticipated look on you.
"Listen…um…it's not that I don't like you or that I'm avoiding you because of it," you take a deep breath. "It's just that…I just feel like you deserve so much better. If I say yes, I feel like I'm being selfish or that I'm aiming too-" It's Osamu's turn to cut you off. However, he does this by crashing his lips into yours. It wasn't soft. Rather it was claiming and possessive. Before you could even think of responding properly to the kiss he pulls away.
"Slap me if that was too forward for me," he mumbles. His eyes looked down with guilt. "But I just can't bear to hear those words coming from those lips. I hate to see you lower yourself when in truth that you are everything I asked for. I don't think I can let those derogatory thoughts get in the way of you being with me," he explained.
Silence looms over between the two of you. When the silence was taking too long, Osamu slowly raised his gaze to yours. His heart sank as he finds tears falling across your cheeks.
"Y/n?" His voice soft as he tries to reach for you. Before he could do so, you take a step forward and wrap your arms around him. Your face buried on his chest.
"Did…did I say something to hurt you?" He asked. You shake your head. Your grip tightens around him. He then takes this time to wrap his arms around you.
"Yes," you said against his chest. "I'll go out with you,"
With those words, you hear his heart beating faster than usual. You smile as you even feel his arms wrapping tight around you.
"So I'm dating the handsome Miya Osamu," you pull away from him and give him one of those soft sincere smiles. Though, there is a playful tone to your voice which made him chuckle.
"You make it sound like a demigod or something," he chuckles.
"Demigod? Oh please…you're an angel fallen from the sky with that outfit of yo-" your voice falters as you find yourself slipping the words that's been running in your head since this morning you saw him in that new outfit.
"Who said that?" You awkwardly smile and look around the place as if trying to find the person who talked. You try to pull away but Osamu has you by the waist. His lips turn into a smirk and his eyes gazes at you causing you to feel a bit too hot for your own good.
"So, it did work," he smirked.
"What do you mean it worked?" You take a quick glance at him.
"Oh nothing, just a little thing my brother helped me too. I should thank him later because my girlfriend is absolutely loving this outfit," he leans forwars by your ear. At that moment, your breathe hitched.
"Tell me. What do you like about the outfit?" His voice lower than it usually is.
"Uh…um…it makes you look handsome, of course," you try to get away from the questiom by throwing in a chuckle and a smile.
He puts on a playful pout. "I took some effort to look good, won't you at least give your dear boyfriend some specific of what you liked about it,"
You laugh nervously. You take a deep breathe. "Well…I'll tell you in another…lifetime," you finally get to pull away. He chuckles and nods in defeat.
Silence hits in between the two of you, but it was a comfortable one. You have no idea how much Osamu is over the moon just by the idea of finally being with you. He takes a step forward and gives you a sweet kiss on the forehead.
"I promise you, I'll give you the love that you deserve," he said with a sweet smile.
You mirror his expression and replied.
"I will too,"
And you two ends the night with a sweet passionate kiss.
"So…how was the weekend?" Atsumu visits his brother in the cafe. Osamu rolls his eyes as he sees his brother giving a smirk and knowing look.
Osamu doesn't answer and simply walks to the used table to clean it. Atsumu follows from behind.
"Were there some spicy actions involved?" Atsumu teased.
"None of your business," Osamu bickers back.
"So something did happen," Atsumu smirks once more. Osamu didn't answer anymore. Though, as he turns he finds you entering the cafe.
"Y/n?" You walk over to him.
"Hi," you smiled. You glance at Atsumu for a while and give him a quick greeting before looking back at Osamu. "I was just passing by before my break was finished," you added.
"Oh, do you want to have lunch then?" Osamu asked, ignoring Atsumu's watchful eye.
"Oh, I already ate. Perhaps, dinner later if you like," Osamu nods.
"I came here to give you this," you hand over a paper bag. Osamu then takes it.
"What's this?" He looks at what's inside and sees the polo he wore last weekend.
"I managed to fix the missing buttons, but I also bought a new one if the sewing didn't work. I felt really bad for ruining your polo," you chuckle nervously. Though, those words are honestly innocent. It was just that Saturday night when you two lead the sweet kiss into some passionate makeout, you accidentally pulled his polo too hard for it to rip open. It's not that you meant to rip it open. Accidents really do just happen.
"It's totally fine. It was an accident, you didn't have to, but thank you," Osamu blushed. Atsumu kept looking at them back and forth.
"Anyway, see you later?" You asked. Osamu nods. At that, you leave the cafe. When you're out of sight, Atsumu lets a smirk slip on his lips.
"Ohh, so something did happen,"
Osamu just glares at him, but the blush is noticeable on his cheeks.
Though…as much as you found it embarrassing to accidentally rip your boyfriend's poko on the first day, something sparked inside Osamu. Well, that's for another story.
A PLACE YOU CAN RETURN TO
tags: afab reader, childhood sweethearts to exes / exes to lovers, lost connections, returning home, single dad!osamu, original child character (miya mamoru), minor character death (oc), mention of pregnancy complications (preeclampsia; cerebral haemorrhaging), dealing with grief and guilt, falling in love, alcohol (but no one is drunk), food to communicate love (reader does eat fish; osamu watches you eat), angst and fluff, family feels, eventual smut, no power dynamics, emotional + protected sex, oral (f! receiving), multiple orgasms, shower sex, hand jobs
wc: 15.5k (WHAT???)
Despite being the capital city of the Hyōgo prefecture, Kōbe was like a black hole slowly pulling your body apart. You feel a growing, malignant dissonance as you stand silent in the centre of your new apartment, the disturbing sensation that time had passed and yet nothing had changed. Nothing but you.
There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with Kōbe. The city held all your childhood memories, your first steps and first friends, your first words and your first love, but through your adolescence you’d slowly begun to fear that you’d unwittingly shackled yourself to one place. You wanted something more, something bigger. There was grief, too. The loss of what, of who, you’d left behind had followed you all over the country. Even though you’d left, this place held onto a part of your soul with a white-knuckle grip that you never did shake.
Now you are back where it all started, your home so familiar yet so foreign. The apartment is a little bigger than your last, surprisingly seen as the rent was the same, and the walls housed full length windows that allowed light to flood into the space. An ache spreads along your arms, tissue deep, strained from a long weekend of moving heavy furniture and placating neighbours. Your stomach twists with hunger, and you grimace at the thought of your empty fridge.
Food it is.
An atmosphere of melancholy settles around you like a weighted blanket as your feet carry you further into the city, the collar of your coat popped and shielding your neck. Memories linger like a ghost, eyes drawn to all the places you would go when you were younger. Voracious laughter, running home against the harsh fall winds, the hesitant brush of fingers, sharing food under the shelter of the bus stop and the patter of rain, dry lips pressed clumsily to yours.
The smell of freshly made food fills your senses as a stranger steps out in front of you, warmth kissing your cheeks as the heat from the restaurant momentarily blows out onto the street before the door swings back shut.
Loose strands of hair irritate your eyes as you look up, the breeze sharp as she passes. Anxiety and disbelief chip away at you as you register what the sign says. It must be fate playing a bad joke, you think.
The curiosity is a little too strong for you to ignore. There’s a small queue at the counter and you take your place at the back, shifting the weight of your body between your feet as you wait nervously. You are the only one that appears so tightly strung, the other customers all at ease, the low tones of their voices carrying throughout the restaurant above the sound of cutlery and moving chairs.
His voice, though, is unmistakable. Something expands in your chest, a swell of longing filling a space you weren’t aware of until now. Osamu had always been handsome, a different flavour of charming than his brother. He carries himself in a manner that sets you at ease, just the same as you remember, but his shoulders were wider, arms somehow thicker with muscle yet softened with time and faint lines by his eyes as he grins.
You approach the counter and he lifts his head from the money he’s counting in his hands, mouth parting to greet you with a rehearsed script before he truly registers who you are.
He says your name with a lilt of disbelief, but happily nonetheless, and the pressure seeps from your chest.
“S’that really you?” he breathes.
“The one and only,” you laugh dryly, pressing your clenched fists further into your pockets and fighting the urge to hide in the collar of your coat. He pulls his cap from the crown of his head and runs a hand through his hair messily until it is pointed in various directions, a nervous habit of his you remember quite well.
“How long s’it been, six years?” he grins, “ya’ look good!”
“So do you!” You cannot keep the sincerity out of your voice, the teasing tone that comes so naturally when talking with him, and his grin softens into an alluring smirk.
Like everything else in Kōbe, your feelings for Osamu had stood still.
“Wait, before we get caught up,” he slips the cap back over his hair— now his natural colour, the silver painted over —and nods his head toward the menu taped to the counter surface.
“What can I get’cha?”
The menu is vast, but you had expected it to be. Osamu lived to cook, he loved to bring joy to others with food and the dedication to his craft showed. There were the traditional ingredients such as salmon, umeboshi, and tsukudani; but he made sure to include other options, such as tuna, shrimp, scrambled egg, chicken, tarako fish roe, and mentaiko fish roe.
Your eyes are drawn to the small text box in the corner of the paper, titled ‘the special’ in what appeared to be a child’s handwriting with the days ‘Tuesday and Thursdays only’ beneath it.
“Well, what about the special?” You murmur, pointer finger tapping against the paper, “it’s Tuesday today, right?”
His lips part in minute shock, as if he’d just remembered something important, and he coughs to clear his throat.
“That’s right. Today the special is ‘katsuobushi’, chef's choice,” he replies. There’s a hesitance in the air that wasn’t there before and it sets you on edge.
“Wouldn’t that be you?”
He grins, still unnaturally tight but fond, warmth returning to his eyes, “I have a helper on those days, he’s the one that chooses”.
A small voice sounds from the doorway to the kitchens before you can speak. Osamu turns, and in doing so he reveals a little boy that can’t be any older than five or six. He’s pressed against the doorframe, half hidden, wide eyed and cautiously staring at you like waiting to be scolded for interrupting.
Osamu wipes a hand against his apron, crouching to the boy’s height and beckoning him out of the shadows. “Everythin’ alright, little man?” He says.
The boy steps forward, though still looking at you, and nods. He’s darling, you think. A cherub. It’s as if someone had taken a polaroid of Osamu when he was a child and pulled him from the image into this reality. His hair is a deep brown, the odd golden shine reflected under the lights of the restaurant, and brushed neatly aside from a stubborn little cowlick curl.
The swell of his cheeks are dusted in a youthful pink, nose wrinkling under his fathers nagging touches as Osamu begins to wipe stray seeds of rice from the boys mouth, and he wrings his hands into the material of his sweatshirt; one you recognise to be for Atsumu’s current professional team.
And pinned to his chest is a little name tag with ‘Mamoru’ written on it.
“Ya’ been snackin’ back there?” Osamu asks amusedly.
You try smiling at the boy to put him at ease, his steadfast and curious gaze still locked onto you over Osamu’s shoulder. You’re struck again by an aching sense of otherness, as if you were infringing upon something just by existing in that space in time. Osamu is a father. He has a son, and presumably a wife. You hadn’t seen a ring on his finger, but he could’ve simply taken it off while he worked for safe keeping.
It’s a little cruel, maybe. Like being presented with the image of what you could have had, and then doused with the knowledge that it would never be yours.
“A little,” the boy replies, “made ya some ‘giri, too”.
Endearment seeps through your chest at the enunciation of his words, his sweet little kansai twang, and the way his back straightens with obvious pride of what he’d done. Osamu shifts his weight onto the balls of his feet, leaning forward to press an obnoxiously loud kiss to his son's forehead, causing the boy to laugh.
“Speaking of onigiri, my friend has an order for ya,” Osamu grins, glancing over his shoulder toward you, “think yer up for it?”
Unbeknownst to the boy, you could see how he’d appraised your expression, an anxiety behind his eyes that wasn’t there before. He was worried about your reaction.
His son follows his gaze back to you and the hesitance is gone. Mamoru steps into the role of a ‘chef’ in the way only a child can and stands tall, as tall as is possible for him, while confidently nodding in affirmation.
“Comin’ right up!” He chirps, before scurrying into the back.
Osamu rises to his feet, wincing at the click of his knees, and returns to his place at the counter. You’re thankful in that moment that you’d stumbled across the place near closing hours, still the only remaining customer, giving you more time to speak to him.
“Will he be alright by himself?” You find yourself asking, instead of the obvious question. His shoulders relax.
“S’like I said, he helps out a lot, and I got some extra staff back there with him,” he replies in a fond, far off voice, as if remembering every time the boy had joined him in the kitchens.
“Yer katsuobushi is in good hands”.
“I’ll trust your judgement,” you say, “how old is he?”
“Turned five in January,” he replies. He rests his forearms on the counter surface, bracing his weight against it and looking significantly more relaxed by the typical parent small-talk. You refrain from following his example, ignoring the incessant pull that would have you lean into his space. Five in January. Your mind fills with intrusive thoughts and mental maths, feeling selfishly relieved that the child was conceived at least a year after you had left – like that would make the bruise any less tender.
“Looks like you had your hands full then, with…” you swallow back the tickle in your throat, awkwardly waving your hand around the restaurant, “...everything”.
He smiles, barely-there and knowingly. Osamu had always been able to see right through you, and no doubt he knew you were trying to drag out the conversation. Even after six years the need is there, the habitual urge to lace your hands together until your palms kiss, to play with his fingers aimlessly and watch his eyes brighten as he speaks.
The truth is, you do not know where the lines are anymore; not only was he your first love, he had been your best friend, he’d grown alongside you from being an infant and written himself into your blueprints. Irreversible. The typical boundaries that you might enforce with an ex cannot, and will never, be applicable to him.
So you simply talk – the only safe way you know to syphon his attention. Talking was innocent enough.
“I had a’lotta help, believe me I needed it,” he releases a shallow laugh, and it doesn’t sit right in the air. The ‘you weren’t here’ may not have even crossed his mind, but it crosses yours, and guilt sinks like lead into your stomach.
“In any case, I think you’ve done well for yourself,” you reply — purposefully gentle. An unspoken apology.
“Thanks,” he murmurs, tucking his chin to his chest in an abashed manner to hide his smile from you, licking his lower lip as he changes the subject, “what about y’self? Ya back for a visit?”
“M’back for good actually,” and his head lifts in momentary shock, a wide eyed expression adorns his face. It’s then that Mamoru returns holding a small cardboard tray, two oddly shaped onigiri seated inside it and wrapped in nori seaweed.
Children are perceptive, and you’re reminded of that fact by the way his eyes squint at the two of you, apprehensive about whether or not he should speak up. You give a small wave of encouragement and he makes the decision to toddle up beside his father.
Osamu takes notice, immediately reaching down to slide something out from beneath the counter, the sound of wood scraping along tile sharp in your ears. It must’ve been a stool, you think, as the little boy takes a careful step forward and grows 10 inches taller. With small, shaking hands, he slides the tray onto the counter for you to take.
He looks just as Osamu had before – quietly seeking out your approval. There are more grains of rice littering his cheeks, even more decorating his sticky hands, clear evidence of his hard work. You look to the onigiri and hum appreciatively, ensuring that he hears you as you lift one delicately between your fingers.
“That’ll be 500 yen!”
Without needing to be prompted, you hand the 500 yen over to Mamoru, and he shines under the responsibility of handling the money. Osamu accepts it with a proud grin, counting it and putting it into the register.
“These look delicious,” you say with sincerity, “I can’t wait to eat them. Thank you, Mamoru”. The boy’s face flushes with colour, bouncing on his toes where he stands, hands clinging to the edge of the counter to balance himself. He leans into Osamu’s hip, beaming up at him excitedly.
You pull the cardboard tray to your chest, saliva pooling beneath your tongue and stomach cramping in hunger as the smell clouds your senses. You take a quick glance at the clock and Osamu appears to recognise that you’re going to take your leave, stuttering over your name as his hand falls to the small of Mamoru’s back to steady him on the stool.
“You said yer’ back for good, right?” he asks, a desperate lift to his tone. You nod your head, not trusting yourself to speak, and hope balloons in your chest when he seems truly happy with your answer.
“If ya want to catch up, you’re welcome to join us for food this weekend,” he says, squeezing Mamoru’s shoulder with a smile, “we’re gonna cook for everyone, aren’t we?”. The boy watches the exchange with curious eyes, curling his fingers into the material of his fathers apron in a half embrace.
“If it’s really okay, I’d be honoured to eat more of your cooking, Mamoru,” you reply directly to him, a small part of you also seeking out his approval. You wanted the boy to feel comfortable around you, and though Osamu had extended the invitation, you wouldn’t go if Mamoru didn’t want you there.
‘What about his mother?’ You wanted to ask, but you feared the answer.
“We’re makin’ yaki udon,” Mamoru mumbles shyly, “s’ma favourite… You can have some, if ya want”.
“Thank you,” you smile, and feeling the weight of Osamu’s stare you meet his eyes, half lidded and affectionate. Too familiar, overwhelmingly familiar.
“M’number is the same if you still have it,” Osamu says and your grip tightens, the cardboard wrinkling slightly beneath your fingers. You hold the Onigiri to the breast of your coat, wanting to preserve the warmth, and exhale shakily.
“Yeah, I have it. Mine is too,” and wasn’t that painful. A thread left rotted and swaying, untouched for years. Two decades of connection dissolved into undelivered text messages, thumbs hovering over the call button and searching for an excuse, any reason to push it but finding none other than the need to hear his voice.
“I’ll text you then,” he replies with promise and you force your feet to move, eyes prickling once you step out into the cool evening air. You shield the onigiri with your hands as you near your apartment, relishing the soft tendrils of warmth against the skin of your palm, and try to process everything that’d just happened.
The place is just as you’d left it, unsurprisingly, though it feels much emptier now. You slide the tray onto the coffee table, weight falling back into the plush of your sofa and your coat bunching up around you. You inhale as you pick up one of the onigiri, moulded with inexperienced hands and yet perfect as they were. The rice is golden, likely a result of too many bonito flakes, as expected of a child with an affinity for savoury things.
It’s soft as you bite into it, the rice parting between your teeth and pillowy against your tongue. As you anticipated it’s a little saltier than it should be, and it fills your stomach in more ways than one.
You reach for the next, pressing the seaweed of the first into your mouth. Your cheeks swell as you chew, eyes catching on a small piece of paper tucked at the bottom of the tray, hidden beneath the rice balls.
You unfold the post-it, slowly revealing a stick figure with a big smile. The lines of the body are jittery, drawn in pen held by an unpractised hand, and Mamoru has given the figure a hairstyle similar to your own.
As silly as it might seem, you find yourself choked up at the sentiment, tracing the jagged lines with your finger. You’d have to put it on the fridge door, a new little piece of home.
Pulling your phone out of your coat pocket you snap a quick picture, scrolling through your open chats to the last time you’d spoken with Osamu. The messages you’d never been able to bring yourself to delete; his last texts.
I miss you. Left on read.
You send him the picture alongside a thank you. It was as good a conversation starter as any, and at least this way you wouldn’t have to spend the entire evening fretting over the right thing to say. He responds quickly, a short ‘he’s happy you liked it’ followed by ‘it was good to see you’.
The days leading up to Friday are long and spent settling into your new workplace. Your colleagues are friendly, welcoming and playfully teasing of how your accent had dulled during your time away. You hadn’t expected the sense of loss that came with that realisation.
Osamu texts everyday. Short, simple messages that would appear innocent to anyone. You replied in kind – toeing the line between teasing and flirting every so often, only to turn your phone off for the night once shame got a hold of you.
You’d missed him, and you had never been the type to drip-feed. When you wanted something you wanted all of it, wanted him, but the possibility of that happening was now slim to none. It was startling how much and how little he had changed, his quips and humour still never failing to make you laugh, his memory of the things that a normal friend wouldn’t see any importance in. Somehow Osamu had stepped back into your life as if you’d never left his, not a speck of dust on him.
It was unsettling, because you were both so clearly skirting around the topic of Mamoru’s mother.
Come Friday you’ve already pictured every possible worst-case scenario and resolved them. Tonight was about rekindling the friendships you left behind, nothing more and nothing less, a mantra you repeat again and again. With that thought in mind you walk toward the entryway to slip into your shoes, passing the open archway to the kitchen and catching sight of the little stick figure on the fridge. You linger there, dwelling on an idea and breathing through the push and pull of uncertainty. It couldn’t hurt to give Mamoru a proper thank you with a little sketch of your own, a miniscule way of showing your appreciation.
By the door sits the shoe cabinet, a small decorative bowl atop it holding your keys, some spare yen and a pen, with a post-it pad beside it. The pen is almost out of ink, resting heavily between your fingers as you draw out a quick rendition of Mamoru holding an onigiri and the characters for ‘delicious!’ (うまい ; umai)
Osamu had texted you his address a few hours ago. You’d recognised the street immediately as one only a few blocks from where his mother and grandma lived, and smiled freely in the privacy of your bedroom. He had always been a mama’s boy.
The drive is faster than you anticipate. You pull up to the curb to park and somehow the car seems smaller, one hand curled around the handbrake and the other gripping the wheel as the engine continues to hum quietly. Your pulse is incessant, loud in your ears while your eyes drift to the house in question. It’s a typical Japanese home, a little on the smaller side, two stories with a balcony on which a futon cover has been hung out to dry.
The atmosphere is shattered by a firm knock to the passenger side window. Your body flinches, a sharp inhale of fear as you push down the handbrake to stop the car from moving. Kita stands beside your car with a gentle expression, the same patience and understanding that he’d always worn but you knew that this time the reasons were much different.
He points his thumb over his shoulder toward the house, wordlessly questioning whether or not you were coming, and you answer with the turn of your keys. The engine cuts off and the car settles, the heat beneath your seat slowly dissipating, and you push open the door.
“Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” Kita smiles kindly, eyes following while you walk around the front of your car to greet him, opening his arms as you near him. He embraces you solidly against his chest, much broader and firmer than you last remembered, the gentle smell of fabric softener and ripening wheat swaddling you.
The warmth of his hand seeps through the material of your shirt. “S’good to see ya, Kita,” you mumble, voice muffled where you’re pressed into his shoulder, eyes falling shut for a short moment to blink away the stinging mist.
“A’ was surprised to hear from Osamu that you were comin’,” he says as you pull away from one another. You press your lips together into a tight smile, fighting off your grimace with a dry swallow.
“Well… I guess home was callin’,” you reply with awkward finality, the words sounding timid even to your own ears. Kita simply cradles the crown of your head in his calloused hand, patting your hair in an oddly paternal manner.
“And ya’ finally answered,” he murmurs, “we’re happy to have you back”.
You walk side by side to the door, the distant and distinct bickering of Atsumu flooding out into the front garden. It’s there again, the anxiety that you are invading something that was not meant for you – no matter the reassurance, you still felt as if you didn’t deserve to be welcomed back so kindly.
Kita, sensing your unease, opens the front door and pulls you gently with his fingers circled around your forearm. You’re greeted by an open space leading into a living room and dining area, brightly lit with walls littered in framed photographs. Atsumu is lounging on the sofa, arm stretched along the back and yelling to wherever Osamu is standing in the kitchen, his eyes drawn to the sudden intrusion.
You shy away from his stare, bending to place your shoes neatly in the corner of the entryway alongside Kita’s, and as you straighten back up you startle backwards at Atsumu’s sudden appearance.
“Damn, an’ here I thought ‘Moru was lying,” he beams, appraising you as he steps aside for Kita to get by him.
“I told you uncle ‘Tsumu!” Mamoru’s small, exasperated voice calls from the kitchen.
“Lying?” You ask, enunciated with nervous laughter.
Atsumu hums in contemplation before sweeping you into a hug of his own. Similarly as it had been with Kita, you notice that he has grown enormously as indicated by the firm press of his biceps around your waist. You give into the affection easily — Atsumu had always been tactile with his friends, and you felt relief that he still considered you as such.
“He said his pa had invited a ‘pretty friend’ to join our little get together,” Atsumu recites from where his chin rests atop your head, “didn’t believe him. ‘Samu doesn’t have any friends, nevermind pretty—”
“Shut yer trap!”
“— well, he didn’t. Hasn’t. Not for a while,” Atsumu continues speaking over his brother’s interruptions, pulling away with a crooked grin, “wouldn’t‘a thought in a million years that it’d be you”.
You smile through your mess of confused thoughts, fizzling and incessant like white noise as you try to maintain composure. You didn’t want to make assumptions and yet, if you were to take Atsumu’s word at face value, it’d mean that Mamoru’s mother wasn’t in the picture.
You breathe in, deep and slow, your chest rising beneath your shirt. And you smile.
“S’nice to see you too, Atsumu,” you lean into his side as he begins to lead you further into the house, “I guess you finally got your hands on some toner while I was away”.
“I guess you finally got your hands on some toner while I was away,” he repeats back to you mockingly with his voice a few octaves higher, Osamu’s contagious laugh echoing through the lower level of the house.
“Pa, what’s toner?” You hear Mamoru ask, and you tuck your chin to your chest in an effort to hide your grin.
Atsumu guides you to the dinner table, Kita already pulling a chair out for you before taking the seat opposite. There’s already glasses set out, a pitcher of water in the centre and an open bottle of sweet white wine that you recognise to be a personal favourite of his mother. Years ago you’d sneaked a taste of it with him while she was sleeping with breathless laughter, hushing one another every time the house creaked beneath your feet.
The soft, hurried footfalls of Mamoru rushed past you to the head of the table, climbing up by his knees into the spot adjacent to you. “Hi,” He chirps, squirming in place as he sits, “you’re really here!”
“I am,” you reply, entirely endeared by his excitement and the post-it note weighs heavy in your pocket, “I wouldn’t miss this for the world”.
Osamu walks out of the kitchen with two bowls in hand, one a little smaller than the other, meeting your gaze as he leans forward to set it in front of Mamoru. He looks… ambivalent. Happy, but conflicted, rushing back to the kitchen to plate up more of the food.
Mamoru stares at the yaki udon with hunger, his small hands pressed flat either side of the bowl as he waits politely for the adults to be served too.
Kita and Atsumu begin talking to one another but the conversation is muffled, like cotton has been stuffed into your ears. You’re distracted by the lines of crayon staining the wood of the table, the homemade placemats that Mamoru must’ve made at school, the toys strewn across the floor in an organised mess that screamed Osamu. He’d always hated if a room was too bare, it always needed a little bit of chaos. ‘A little personality’ he’d call it.
“What about you?” Atsumu drags you back into the conversation, his body curling over the table surface as he leans his cheek against his fist. He smirks amusedly, though not in malice, as you fumble over your answer.
“What about me?” you ask stiffly, embarrassed to have been caught snooping.
“We were talkin’ about what we got up to this week,” Kita fills in the blanks for you kindly, “Atsumu just got done explaining his new team’s roster. Ya didn’t miss anythin’”.
Atsumu releases a theatrical sound of offense, one that makes Mamoru burst into a fit of giggles, a clear and purposeful attempt at making the boy laugh judging by Atsumu’s then triumphant grin.
“My week wasn’t all that interesting. I got settled in the new office and I unpacked everything without trouble,” you recite, conscious of how boring your answer is and of Osamu now entering the room with another set of bowls, sinking back into your chair as he places it in front of you.
“Though Mamoru did make me some delicious okaka onigiri,” you add with the appropriate gravity, wanting to acknowledge him and include him in the conversation. Colour floods his face and you watch as he struggles to bite back a grin. When he fails to do so he tucks his chin to his chest to hide his pleasure.
An inherited gesture.
“So you really are stayin’,” Atsumu marvels, more of a comment to himself than a question, “honestly thought we wouldn’t see ya again”.
You murmur noncommittally, uncertain of what to say, because neither had you. And for all the wrong reasons.
Back then you spent weeks, months, walking in circles around the possibility of leaving. The thoughts evolved into something parasitic, a dark cloud ruminating above you, so much so that neither leaving nor staying seemed like the right thing to do. And no matter who you asked, the answer had always remained the same.
‘Do what you think is right for you’.
And you had known as soon as you moved away that it’d been the wrong choice. But you couldn’t have known that until you’d left, and after making such a fuss about uprooting your life to chase your dreams you were far too embarrassed to turn back.
Osamu finally takes his place at the table to your left, and Atsumu shares a pointed look with him that is so lacking in subtlety it’s close to offensive. You can feel the heat of his body beside you, his shoulder brushing your own as he reaches for his drink, the contact brief but reverberating through your arm nonetheless.
He sighs, long and exasperated, lifting his glass up. Everyone follows his lead, including Mamoru with his hands clasped around a plastic cup of fruit juice, and glass collides softly beneath the joyous yell of ‘cheers!’
“Now tuck in before it gets cold,” he takes the chopsticks between his fingers and immediately twists the thick noodles around them. Mamoru does the same, though his chopsticks have two plastic loops for his fingers while he still learns how to use them.
“Thank you for the food,” you murmur before shovelling the food into your mouth, teeth sinking into the thickness of the noodles and savouring the tang of the umami sauce. You can practically taste the heart put into it, and it is heady.
A pleased, exaggerated hum builds in Mamoru’s throat as he eats, and Atsumu mirrors him playfully. Something in your chest releases, the tightness dissipates into foam and slowly you allow yourself to enjoy the atmosphere. It’s… loving. Cosy.
The conversation slows while the five of you dig in, mostly dominated by Mamoru whose voice is slowly gaining strength with each answer he gives, and you’re grateful the scrutiny is not on you. You couldn’t remember the last time you’d shared a home cooked meal with someone, not in the years that you were away, and Osamu’s food reveals an obvious yearning that you’d kept locked away for a long time.
You eat and listen sedately as Mamoru tells you about how Osamu has started letting him make his own lunch for preschool, about the fish tank that his teacher keeps in the classroom, about the cool bugs he found in his grandmother's yard – he’d tripped over the words and Osamu had supplied that it was in fact a rhinoceros beetle – and that he’d named it Haruko.
“After mama,” he’d explained with a boyish grin that lifted the chub of his cheeks, “cause mama is everywhere!”
Decidedly, you do not touch that topic with a ten foot pole.
“Don’t talk with yer mouth full,” Osamu scolds him mildly in a stern yet loving tone – one only a parent could use. Mamoru obeys but does not cease to speak, instead he continues to tell you things between the dutiful chewing of his food, and you steal a glance at Osamu to enjoy the softness in his face as he entertains his son’s whims.
“That was wonderful as always, Osamu,” Kita speaks politely after he finishes, washing the food down with a sip of the white wine, “a meal always tastes better when eaten with family, don’t’cha think?”
“Yes!” Mamoru speaks after chewing his noodles, mouth and cheeks stained in golden brown sauce, “Pa says ya only need two things! all y’need is love in your life–”
“–and food in your belly,” you quietly recite alongside him, your voice barely above a whisper. You’re quick to smother the sting in your eyes, many a memory of Osamu embracing you and murmuring those exact words against your mouth, the shell of your ear, the curve of your neck.
“That’s right little man,” Osamu murmurs as he stands and circles around the table to Mamoru, taking his chin between his fingers and tilting his head so he can wipe it clean. The boy makes a noise of complaint as his father then slides his hand up to squeeze his cheeks together, lips jutted into a misshapen pout.
“Ya did a good job of finishing it all,” he continues, biting back a smirk at his son's whining, “now it’s time to wash up. Comin’?”
Mamoru pulls away, rubbing the heels of his hands against the pinkened fat of his cheeks, his eyes quickly glancing in your direction as he shakes his head. “Don’t wanna,” he demurs petulantly, and you’re honest enough to admit that pride swells in your chest.
Osamu notices his line of sight and huffs, ruffling his hand through Mamoru’s hair until it’s a directionless mess. “C’mon now, we’re the men of the house so we’ve gotta clear the table,” he reaches down to lift Mamoru with no exertion and settles him on his feet.
“Fine,” Mamoru grumbles and scurries a few feet ahead of his father to the kitchen while Osamu stacks the bowls on top of each other, his body curling over you as he reaches for yours.
Atsumu raises an eyebrow at you as Osamu leaves with the dishes, the lip of a glass of wine pressed to his smirk. “Interestin’,” he says before tipping his head back and downing the remaining dregs from the cup.
“Don’t start,” you warn tiredly, ignoring the giddiness thrumming through your body at Osamu’s actions.
“Alls am sayin’ is I didn’t get a weird hug from the back when he picked my bowl up,” he purses his lips in faux innocence as he shrugs and turns to Kita, “did you?”
“I did not,” Kita assents, the corners of his mouth twitching into a soft smirk that only seeks to encourage Atsumu’s teasing.
The twin cups a hand to his cheek to whisper conspiratorially across the table, “he’s single, if yer interested”.
“That’s— stop reading into things,” you reply evenly, taking a sip from your drink, fixing your eyes to the clean bottom of the glass and continuing once it’s finished, “that was a long time ago. It isn’t like that anymore”.
“It could be, if ya wanted it to,” Atsumu adds, giving the words weight, figuratively putting the decision into your hands. Kita must notice your discomfort, because his hand lands solid on Atsumu’s shoulder in warning.
“Stop tryin’ to orchestrate things,” he asserts, “let ‘em figure it out themselves”.
“There’s nothin’ to figure out,” is muttered under your breath and Atsumu wears his irritation plainly on his face.
“There is an’ you should!”
“Atsumu,” you say, this time pleading, and his resolve crumbles easily as he sinks into the back of his chair in defeat. A pocket of silence encircles the table, tense and suffocating, accompanied by distant clashing of plates and murmurings from the kitchen.
“M’sorry,” he begins to awkwardly trace out the lines of crayon left behind on the table, “just want ya both to be happy, y’know? You’re like family to me”.
“I know,” Kita watches the scene unfold calmly, his gentle gaze drawn to the anxious movement of Atsumu’s fingers.
“We missed ya’” he admits, smile pulled taut and thin, “didn’t matter that you and ‘Samu broke up, ya still could’a called”.
“I know,” you murmur again, grimacing at how dismissive your repetitive answers sound, searching for the right thing to say and coming up short.
“I should’ve kept in touch. I wanted to but it hurt, Atsumu,” the words bloat egregiously in your throat, hoarse as they leave your quivering mouth and quiet for fear that Osamu would hear the conversation across the room, “I’m back now and I want to make up for it”.
Mamoru charges into the room excitedly, coming to a halt as he reaches the table, the enthusiasm soon sapped from his expression. His pupils are dilated, flitting from your forced smile to Atsumu, his little mouth twisting in displeasure.
“Right, all done!” Osamu claps his hands together as he re-enters the room, and like his son he appears to catch on quickly to the dampened atmosphere. He glares accusingly at his brother, knowing and frustrated, and the legs of your chair scrape against the floor as you get to your feet.
“Thank you both so much for inviting me over,” you say, directing the words to Mamoru to emphasise that he is included in your gratitude, “but I have an early start at work tomorrow, so I think I should call it a night”.
“Are ya sure?” Osamu asks, at the same time that Mamoru whines in protest. Their desire to have you stay lightens the weight on your chest remarkably; it would be a lie to say their little family had not already sunk their claws in your heart.
But you hadn’t lied, not entirely. You did need to be awake early, but you knew that no matter what time you left the Miya house you would not be able to sleep tonight.
“Do ya really haf’ta leave?” Mamoru mumbles, accent thickening with his sullen expression, and you step forward to crouch before him.
“I do, but I swear I’ll come back,” you promise earnestly to assuage his worry, reaching your hand into your pocket where the quickly drawn rendition of Mamoru sits, “but before I go I need to give you this”.
The look on his face when you present it to him is something that you memorise instantly.
“Oh,” he murmurs, chubby little fingers holding the edges of the paper like it is something precious. He examines it from all angles, colour blooming across his cheeks, before telling you with painful earnestness, “Thank you!”
“Just a small gift for you in return,” you say, stepping back from the boy. “Hardly as good as your drawing, but I hope you like it all the same”.
When you steal a look at Osamu you find his expression sweetening with a parent’s tenderness as he receives the second-hand joy of his son’s happiness.
Mamoru holds the sketch to his chest as if he were cradling it as turns to his father to ask, “Pa! Can we stick it on the fridge next to mine?”
Osamu runs his fingers through Mamoru’s curls and tells him yes. Privately you acknowledge the gravity of the moment, of having a small piece of yourself kept in the heart of the house. You feel yourself soften, like wax over a flame, fondness twisting into your ribs.
You bid them goodbye. Kita wraps his arm around your shoulders and rubs a rough hand down the length of your bicep with the promise of seeing you soon. Atsumu drags you into a hug, face pinched into a look of regret that you quietly try to quell against his shoulder. It was not his fault you were a coward.
Osamu walks you to the door, his presence heavily felt at your back while he watches you slip into your shoes. “Did’ya mean it? You’ll come back?” He asks.
Nineteen year old Osamu holds you impossibly close to his chest, the fabric of your hoodie slowly darkening beneath his free falling tears. “Promise yer gonna come back,” he’d begged.
“I meant it,” you reply quietly, to him and to the memory.
For the next week and a half, your days are spent like a bird in a designated flight path. You endeavour to keep your promise to Mamoru by going out of your way to stop by the restaurant after work on the days you know he’ll be there, and even on the days he isn’t. “Hard to stay away when the food is this good,” you’d tell him.
Osamu texted you infrequently at first, and Atsumu’s comments play on an incessant loop in your mind. Over time the messages grew in length and confidence as you became comfortable with one another once more, leaving you awash with a feeling of giddiness that has you clutching a pillow to your chest.
Maybe he had been right. Maybe there was still something worth salvaging. Something worth rebuilding.
On the Saturday night as you’re stepping out of your bathroom, you hear your phone buzzing loudly from the bedside table. The caller ID shows Osamu’s name in large white letters, and your thumb lingers cautiously over the accept button.
“‘Samu?” You say after picking up, the device pressed firmly against the shell of your ear as you lower yourself to sit on the edge of your bed.
You hear his long sigh of relief. “Sorry for callin’ ya so late but I couldn’t ask anyone else”.
“Is everything alright?” You nervously curl a hand into the thin fabric of your sleep shorts, picking at the frayed seams.
“Yeah s’nothing bad. I just got a call from the owner of the florists next door, y’know the one?”
“She told me they’ve had a leak, an’ since we share the buildin’ she’s worried I might have some water damage in the kitchens'”.
“Shit, would she be liable if there is any?”
“Nope, it wasn’t anticipated an’ it wasn’t a result of any carelessness,” you can hear the exhaustion in his voice as he explains, easily picturing him ruffling his hair in frustration.
“But that’s not why I called. I’ve gotta go take a look and make sure there’s no water near the electrics but there’s no one available t’watch Mamoru”.
“I’d be happy to,” you offer, already getting to your feet and padding over to the chest of drawers to find something to wear, “I’ll be there in ten”.
“Yer a life saver,” he breathes through the line before ending the call.
You quickly pull on some leggings and a t-shirt, stumbling as you go. The cold air nips at your skin while you lock up and climb into your car, body still warm from the blissful heat of your home, and you pull out onto the road.
You approach the house with much less apprehension than the first time, breaking into a light jog as you near the front door. It opens without needing to be knocked, Osamu stands debauched in the entry already awaiting your arrival wearing a quickly-thrown-together outfit not unlike your own. He ushers you in with another quiet thank you, mumbling that he wouldn’t be long as he slips his arms into his coat.
“I love ya!” Osamu calls out once more over his shoulder, and with great embarrassment you have to restrain yourself from saying it back as Mamoru replies in kind. The sound of the door clicking shut snaps you from your stupor, noticing the laden atmosphere veiling the inside of the house.
You find Mamoru swaddled in a blush coloured blanket, thick and made of fleece, surrounded by a chaotic assortment of toys and pictures. He smiles up at you tiredly, his eyelids falling shut between breaths as he struggles to keep them open. Playing quietly in the background is a children's movie, one from your own childhood, the light of the screen casting a soft glow across the room.
“Hi sweetheart,” you greet him feebly, lowering yourself onto your knees and taking a seat on the floor beside him. He mumbles and gravitates towards you immediately, shuffling into your space.
He’s holding a small photograph between his chubby fingers, the edges awkwardly cut and clearly a few years old. In the picture is a woman, her head thrown back in laughter and familiar curls billowing in the wind. The background of the image is busy, a carnival of sorts, everything lit up with bright lights and colours and yet your eyes are always drawn back to her.
“What’ve you got there?”
His grip tightens under your gaze, the pressure crinkling the edges of the paper, and he holds his hands a little further out from the protection of his blankets so you can see more clearly.
“It’s mama,” he tells you solemnly.
“She’s very pretty”. He hums in agreement, his lips pressed together tightly as he stares down at the photograph. His nose scrunches as he sniffles, blinking away the beginnings of tears and turning further into your side to nestle there. You rub your hand down his back, the plush fabric velvety under your touch. He seems so much smaller now he’s tucked against you.
“Pa told me that she was kind an’ funny,” the words are barely audible and muffled, but you hear them, curling your body over his in an attempt at comfort, “an’ he said she loved me a whole bunch”.
“I’m sure she still does, Mamoru. It’s just like you said at dinner, she’s always with you”.
You both fall into a comfortable silence, his attention now on the animated pictures playing on the screen that you can see moving in the reflection of his glassy eyes. As the movie comes to an end you look at the clock hung crooked on the wall and note that it’s almost 10pm.
“Shall we go to sleep?” you gently squeeze his arm through the quilt, and he nods. You lift him with barely any exertion, marvelling at how little he weighs, cradling him to your chest as he yawns.
You make your way up the stairs to the second floor, your uncertainty about navigating the house immediately erased as you find a bright coloured sign hanging on one of the doors with Mamoru’s name.
The door is easily pushed open with your foot and you approach the child sized bed, a gentle smile pulling at your lips at the bedding decorated with depictions of Anpanman.
Mamoru sinks into the mattress as you lie him down and pull the sheets up to his chin, tucking the edges in for him. He yawns again, a squeak tumbling from his open mouth while he stretches.
“Pa stays with me ‘til I sleep,” he mumbles and you surrender to his request, kneeling beside the bed with your arms folded atop the quilt.
“I can do that for ya,” you say and he grins, mischievous, like he knows something you don’t.
“Ya sounded like me,” he whispers, squirming in happiness over something so innocuous in the way only a child can and you feel it too. The odd sensation of relief that your accent is returning to you.
“Can I ask a question?” He huffs, shuffling further up the bed to peek his face entirely over the top of the covers, “pa said I shouldn’t be nosey without askin’”.
“Course ya can”.
“Do y’wanna kiss my pa?”
You inhale sharply in surprise, swallowing down the uncomfortable dryness forming in your throat and at a loss of words. Unsure of the right thing to say and not wanting to overstep any boundaries, you simply say:
“I care about your dad very much”.
To your relief he accepts the answer with a sober nod, the seriousness in his expression highly endearing.
“He likes—” he pauses between words to yawn loudly, teeth bared like a small cub, “—he likes ya! Pa told me so”.
You hum in acknowledgement and he takes it as disbelief, eyes squinting in offense, bottom lip jutting into a pout. You attempt to placate him by threading your fingers through his hair, hoping to coax him into sleep, and you feel triumph when his eyes flutter shut.
You don’t know how long you sit at his bedside with your hand cradling his head, nor at what point you managed to fall asleep with him. You rest fitfully, your consciousness rising to the surface at every car that passes by, every creak of the house as it settles.
The front door opens and your body moves first to shield Mamoru, relaxing only upon the sound of Osamu’s voice calling out that he’s home.
You listen as he climbs the staircase and the fourth step up groans under his weight, the light flooding into Mamoru’s bedroom from the hallway soon shadowed by his silhouette.
He leans his shoulder against the doorframe, head tilting while he takes in the scene. You wonder what he’s thinking, willing your eyes to adjust to the darkness so you might see his face. Instead you get to your feet and follow him out into the hallway, grimacing with each step as blood rushes back through your legs like white static.
“Is everything ok?” You ask, keeping your voice low as you descend the stairs, still aware of Mamoru’s open door.
“S’all fine on my end, thank God,” he snorts humourlessly and makes a beeline for the kitchen with tension held in his shoulders, “I did get caught up helpin’ next door though. Sorry 'bout that”.
You linger close by, observing as he reaches into the fridge and pulls out the familiar bottle of white wine from the lower shelf. He motions it toward you tacitly, wordlessly inquiring if you’d like a glass, and you nod.
One would be fine. And you didn’t want to leave yet.
“Did he behave?” he asks,
“Better than you ever did,” and he laughs, pride rearing in your chest at the stress visibly leaving his body. He fills a third of each glass with wine, handing one over to you as he passes through the threshold to sit on the couch and you move to join him.
You tuck your legs onto the sofa cushions, the rim of the glass cool against your bottom lip, and inhale the sweet scent of the wine while Osamu takes a first sip. His eyes fall to the photograph of Hanako still left out amongst the toys and reaches for it, smoothing out the creased corner with his thumb, resting his elbows on his knees where he sits.
“You aren’t going to ask?” he murmurs curiously. The lighting is still as low as you’d left it, the room dimly lit by the standing lamp in the corner and the TV screen now dark. Your eyes lift to meet his stare and you shake your head.
“That isn’t my place,” you reply after a few beats of contemplative silence, “though I guess I am curious why you haven’t mentioned her yet”.
“Wouldn’t want ya to run off again,” he muses playfully, grin widening once you reach to swat his arm with your free hand.
“You didn’t scare me off!”
“No, s’pose not,” he exhales in exasperation, and before taking another sip of his wine he says “but ‘Tsumu did”.
You hum a flat affirmative, embarrassed at how you’d fled so quickly after such a short confrontation. “Did he tell you…”
“What he said?” He finishes the question on your behalf as your voice loses some of its strength.
“Course he told me,” there’s a solemn shadow cast across his face, teetering on regretful, “would’a wrung his neck if he didn’t”.
“I’m sorry. I know I overreacted,” you say, eyes lowering to watch as your drink lap at the insides of the wine glass. Osamu exhales deeply across from you.
“Ya didn’t, it was a lot to take in; an’ I know exactly how pushy ‘Tsumu can be,” Osamu breathes a laugh, warm as he looks back to the picture, and for a moment you feel like you’re intruding upon something you shouldn’t be.
“She passed away after Mamoru was born,” he begins to explain, stroking the pad of his thumb over Hanako’s figure, “we weren’t really together exclusively. It was casual at first, met her at a seminar when I was trying to start up ma’ business the year after you left”.
“She told me 'bout the pregnancy right away. Pretty soon the midwife started pickin’ up that her blood pressure was high, she started gettin’ headaches an’ problems with her vision. Doctors said it was preeclampsia, recommended that she be monitored at the hospital with the baby”.
As he speaks you allow yourself to reach out to him, circling your hand around his wrist and squeezing. He leans into the support, resting his head atop yours, your cheek now pressed to his shoulder.
“I was scared shitless but she was strong. Sometimes it felt like she was holdin’ me together, too,” his voice quivers and the words crack, catching in his throat, “eventually it got worse an’ after the birth she died from a cerebral haemorrhage”.
The words ‘I’m sorry’ sit uncomfortably thick on your tongue. How many apologies had this family received? Would yours make any notable difference?
“Mamoru is a wonderful little boy,” you say instead with a forlorn smile, blinking away a mist of your own, “you’ve done an incredible job, Osamu. I’m sure she’d be proud of you”.
“He got all the best parts of me,” he grins, crooked and fond, “she gave me my little boy an’ I’ll never be able to thank her enough”.
The wine is dry on your tongue, the warmth spreading throughout your belly as you drink. He sets the photo back amongst the mess of Mamoru’s toys so that the boy might find it again, and upturns his hand so your hands slip together, slowly filling the spaces between your fingers.
His hand feels much bigger than you remember, roughened with time and hard work. You tighten your grip until your palms kiss, willing away the beginnings of guilt crawling into your stomach. The silence is heavy, but it is comfortable.
He finishes his glass and wonders aloud if you want another. “I shouldn’t have anymore,” you sigh, stretching your legs out from beneath your body, “I’ll have to drive home”
“Y’can stay in the guestroom,” he offers as he looks over to check the time, “it’s late”.
That wasn’t a solid reason to stay and you both knew it. You lived only a quick seven minute drive from his house, the weather was clear and it wasn’t even nearing midnight. But you wanted to stay, to have all the time with him that you’d lost.
“If you’re sure,” you reply and his eyes brighten. After you wash down the last of your wine he guides you to the upstairs bathroom, oddly restless as he quietly shows you how to turn on the shower.
“Ya gotta let it warm up a bit first, s’always been a bit awkward like that,” he rambles as he wipes the sweat of his hands against his pants, “body wash an’ everything is there. Feel free to use whatever”.
He places some of his spare pyjamas atop the laundry basket before throwing you a thumbs up. “Thank you,” you murmur amusedly as he takes his leave, unable to keep yourself from smiling at his apparent nervousness.
As you wait for the water to heat up you rub the material of the pyjama top between your fingers, the feeling of it not unlike Mamoru’s blush coloured blanket. You cautiously lift it to your nose as if expecting to be caught and inhale, pleasantly surprised by the entangled scents of Osamu and lavender fabric softener.
You shower quickly, lathering yourself in Osamu’s body wash and preening at the simple idea of smelling like him for the rest of the night. Accompanied only by the harsh spray of the water you process everything you’d learnt, from both him and Mamoru, the child’s earnest words still ringing in your ears.
“He likes ya!”
As you leave the bathroom with hair still damp against the nape of your neck but otherwise dressed and dry, you are followed closely by tendrils of steam that plume into the hallway. Osamu appears in the door to his own bedroom in only his sweatpants, eyes appraising your figure and not at all shy about admiring how you look wearing his clothes. Your pulse stutters at the attention, in your chest and between your legs.
Bathed by the light of the bathroom he looks inviting, soft and sleep mussed. As he stares at you, you stare back at him, cataloguing all the ways in which his body changed in the years that have passed. He’s broader still, but not as lean as he was in high school, fine dark hair littering his chest and trailing from his belly button beneath the waistband of his pants.
You swallow audibly, swiping your tongue across your dry lower lip. “Night, ‘Samu,” you murmur.
“G’night,” he breathes, and you continue to feel the weight of his eyes on your back as you enter the guest room, gently shutting the door behind you.
Morning comes like a gift. You stir at the light's warm touch, laid in an unfamiliar bed, the memory of the night before trickling back into your mind with a slow drip. Still sunken into the pillows and wrapped up in the sheets you hear the door open, the handle clicking as it flicks back into place and announcing Mamoru’s arrival, his small bare feet padding noisily across the room.
For a few passing moments you pretend to be asleep, curious as to what the little boy would do. A small hand rests on your cheek, patting you gently, and you remember vividly how Osamu used to wake you the same way whenever you fell asleep in class.
You open your eyes gradually, blinking against the light from the windows where the sun had already shifted. Mamoru’s sweet face resting on the edge of the mattress, the youthful swell of his cheeks are pink and his eyes are bright as he grins, “you’re still here!”
“I am,” you mirror him with a smile of your own, the young boy's joy entirely contagious.
“Let’s eat breakfast together!”
He begins to jump on the spot as you kick back the covers, swinging your legs over the mattress and getting to your feet. He giggles, lifting his hand for you to take it, and you let him guide you to the kitchen. It smells delectable, Osamu stands in the sweatpants from the night before, an apron covering his bare chest.
“I’m makin’ omurice at little chef’s request, fancy some?” He asks as he turns slightly away from the stove top to look at you.
“Sure,” you reply as Mamoru pulls you over to the sink, a brightly coloured stool already waiting on the tiles for him, “it smells delicious”.
“Everythin’ Pa makes is delicious!” Mamoru exclaims, stretching his entire torso across the counter just so he could reach the taps and turn on the water.
“We gotta wash our hands ‘fore we eat,” he instructs you dutifully while mimicking his father’s voice.
With clean hands and unkempt hair, Mamoru takes a seat beside you at the table and inhales exaggeratedly once the food is placed before him. Breakfast is a quiet affair, the silences filled with the scratching of chopsticks against ceramic and the odd sound of Mamoru verbally enjoying his food. There isn’t much time to enjoy it, because soon after the plates are licked clean Osamu is herding Mamoru upstairs to get him ready to visit his grandmother, casting an apologetic smile toward you as he goes. By the time Mamoru is dressed and presentable you’ve already cleared the table, hands submerged in warm suds and scrubbing the remains of egg from a saucepan.
“Need help putting yer shoes on?” You hear Osamu ask followed by Mamoru loud protests that he’s a big boy and is fine doing it himself. Your eyes linger on the children’s chopsticks held between your fingers, pressing your thumb against the small plastic loops and remembering how small Mamoru’s hand had been in your own.
It strikes you how right it feels to be here with them in domestic bliss, wrapped in Osamu’s clothes with a full stomach, the familial chaos filling you with a sense of fulfilment that you’d never felt before.
“Ya didn’t have'ta do that,” Osamu’s voice sounds from behind you, the water rippling against the basin as you startle. He sidles up beside you and you quell the thoughts of disappointment at the sight of him fully clothed.
“You gave me a place to sleep and fed me, this is the least I could do,” you avoided meeting his eyes in fear that he’d see right through you, reaching for a kitchen towel to dry your hands, already slightly wrinkled and softened. He hums thoughtfully.
“Y’can keep those clothes for now,” he says, “sorry to rush ya. If I don’t get him to mama’s by ten she’ll file a missin’ persons report”.
You laugh abruptly at the truth of his statement. Their mother raised the twins alone, fiercely and lovingly, she was adored by every child in the neighbourhood. But if there was one thing she’d never been lenient with, it was curfew.
“I won’t keep you then,” you smirk gently, tugging at the hem of your oversized shirt, “I’ll wash and return them to you another time”.
He watches the action, looking you over once more with unsatiated longing, the moment returning to him as his son yells impatiently from the entryway. In the rush you pull on your shoes, frowning as the heel tab folds inward awkwardly and rubs against your ankle.
You make it to your car, but not without first being accosted by Mamoru who demands that you see his new trainers, stomping forcefully against the pavement and grinning as he seeks your approval. The shoe lights up with various blinking colours, running patterns along the length of his soles, and you coo with the appropriate amount of awe.
With a sudden wet kiss to your cheek, Mamoru is rushing toward his father's car in joyous embarrassment. Osamu snorts fondly at his antics, spinning his keys around his index finger.
“The shop will be shut fer a few days while contractors are in to sort out the pipes, but we’d still like to see you,” he says, unlocking his car with the click of a button and observing as his son climbs into the seat with an exhausted huff, “Mamoru will miss you”.
Perhaps a little emboldened by their hospitality and affections, you laugh and say “just Mamoru?”
“And me,” he adds, “I’ll miss you”. The answer is unexpectedly honest, and your heart stutters in your chest like a hummingbird's wing.
You receive a text from him a few days later as you’re waking up, the sleep still in your eyes, asking if you’re free for dinner that night. You give a definitive yes, and the thought carries you throughout your workday, dragging the hours on insufferably.
You arrive five minutes later than intended, having spent a little too long fretting over your appearance despite the fact that Osamu had seen every side of you, and knock on the door weakly.
As he lets you in you realise the house is tidier than it had been during your last visit, strikingly so. The toys have all been put away, blankets and throws folded neatly atop their basket, framed pictures realigned and crayon marks scrubbed from the coffee table. Well, mostly.
It is also notably quiet, and the upper floors lights are all switched off, darkness permeating the hallway where the staircase sits. Only the living room and kitchen are lit, albeit dimly, the warm hue of the lamps adding a strange feeling of intimacy to the atmosphere.
“Is Mamoru not here?”
“…He isn’t,” Osamu replies awkwardly, apparently weary of your realisation that you are alone together.
“Then it’s just us,” you deduce, “is this a date?”
“If yer comfortable with it”.
“Why would I be uncomfortable?”
“It’s a possibility,” his shoulder lifts into a weak shrug then schooling his expression into something more serious, “I feel like a’ kinda tricked ya by not clarifying”.
“You could’ve just asked me,” you say as you shuffle where you stand, toeing off your shoes and lining them up with your socked feet.
”Just didn’t want ya to think you needed to say yes out of obligation, ‘cause of our history,” his words are followed by the ruffle of his hand through his hair, the familiar mannerism making his own nervousness known again.
“I don’t do things I don’t want to do, ‘Samu,” you reply, to which he grins.
“Good, ‘cause I want you willing, or not at all,” he says evenly, dark eyes lingering. Blood rises to the surface of your skin, the heat sweltering beneath your cheeks and a swooping sensation passing through your stomach.
Subconsciously, you lick your lower lip, and his pupils dilate as they track the motion.
“So what’ve you made for us?”
You pause to look over the dining table in awe with arms wrapped around your front. He’d covered the surface in a thin white decorative cloth to hide the stains and make it presentable, one you recognise as belonging to his mother. The meal is set out for each of you, consisting of a small bowl of miso soup, two side dishes and ahi tuna steaks for the main meal.
“I thought somethin’ a little more traditional might be nice,” he murmurs with uncertainty, and you feel the need to quickly reassure him.
“This is incredible ‘Samu,” you breathe. The clear time and effort he’d put in is… romantic, for lack of a better word.
He takes the chair opposite you and you begin to eat. The vegetables have been simmered in fish broth and seasoned with mirin and sake, the taste obvious on your tongue. You pair them with the steamed white rice, a pleased hum building in your chest at the fluffiness of it.
Osamu has barely touched his own food in favour of watching you eat, a tender dream-like expression on his face at the delighted sound you make once you bite into the crispy outside of the steak and meet the lush centre.
You drink between bites and the wine lends a sleepy weight to your arms, the muscles entirely relaxed, but your mind energised and inspired. “Are you trying to impress me?” you say, nearing breathless at the time and effort he’d clearly put into the meal. He grins, back straightening and preening like a stroked cat.
Something in the space between you shifts, narrows, a pull of magnetism between your bodies. “Depends. Is it workin’?”
You duck, chin to your chest, the corners of your mouth lifting into a pleased grin. When you raise your head you peer coyly through half lidded eyes and ask, “if I don’t say yes, will you keep trying?”
“Ya know I will,” he murmurs.
You finish your meal, the food laden where it sits in your stomach, yet you are not even close to satiated.
There comes a point when you both move over to the living room, sitting closer than needed on the same sofa, hands only a few centimetres from one another. Your fingers twitch with the urge to touch him.
The conversation is directionless and natural, minutes to hours spent reliving old memories with hearty and contagious laughter. It’s easier, you think, to reminisce on the good now that you have hindsight.
It begs the question of why you ever left.
“Then a’ remember you fell flat on yer face in front of the Kobe green area—”
“Shut yer trap!” you pinch the skin of his bicep between your fingers as you scold him and laugh unabashedly, freely, for the first time in weeks. As you quieten you realise he’s staring at you, though not out of shock, he appears to be taking a mental image of you in that moment.
“What?” you ask, conscious of the volume of your voice, of how many teeth you may have bared, of how your laughter lines had deepened through the years.
“Your accent came through a little just now,” he drawls earnestly, “it was cute, that’s all”.
“Mamoru said somethin’ like that, too,” you mumble feebly. There was some part of you that felt vulnerable, flayed in front of him, and you wanted to hide your expression so he wouldn’t see the relief. Or the regret.
“He likes ya, y’know. A lot,” he tells you, the confession dipped in fondness, and you refrain from sharing that Mamoru had told you the same thing about him. A small part of you wanted to keep the boy's confidence, and it felt equally important that you don’t reveal his secret.
“He’s definitely an easy child to love, isn’t he?”
Osamu's grin widens, wine flushing his cheeks a sweet pink and the lids of his eyes hanging heavily.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he says as he lifts his left arm and rests it along the back of the sofa, which also happens to be behind where you sit. In doing so he shifts closer, the force of your dipole strengthening as you feel crowded by him.
“Can I kiss ya?” he rasps, and your heart feels brittle. You meet his hopeful gaze, and for a few beats neither of you speak. His hand slips subtly down the back cushion, the warmth of his skin barely grazing the curve of your shoulder.
“Is that really ok?” You breathe, wringing your hands together tightly in your lap to disguise the tremor, “I feel like I don’t deserve… this. It’s as if I’ve stolen someone else’s place”.
“I see yer still in the habit of catastrophizing everythin’,” he murmurs, fond as fingertips ghost along your cheeks and he closes the remaining distance between you. His nose brushes against yours and your eyes instinctively fall shut, head tilting ever so slightly to accommodate him, lips parting with a shaken breath.
He kisses you tenderly. A sweet, chaste press of his mouth to yours before pulling back a breadth to speak.
“This?” He kisses you again, this time to your left cheek. “This is yours. This was always your place in my life”.
He kisses your right cheek.
“But what about…” your voice trembles, the words trailing off, unsure if it’s appropriate to ask. Unsure if it’s selfish.
“Hanako?” He finishes your question for you.
“Hanako was a friend. I cared about her, an’ she cared about me. It just so happens that we didn’t take enough precautions and were blessed with a son”. While he speaks you feel his fingers slip down the curve of your neck, curling around to your nape as if to keep you in place and bringing your foreheads together.
“Even if she’d survived, we wouldn’t have been together. I know it’s frowned upon but it’s what we both wanted”.
“Look at me,” and you do. His eyes are shining, wet and desperate, but the solace woven into his features is stark. He’s relieved, maybe that you still cared or that you respected Hanako’s importance in his life, you couldn’t be sure.
“I told her about ya, y’know,” his other hand falls to where yours are tightly woven together, gently prying them apart and rubbing the pad of his thumb over the crescent moons left by your nails.
“Had to,” he breathes a laugh through his nose, shifting his wrist so he is able to interlock your fingers, “you were still here. Everywhere. Not just in pictures – I hadn’t even washed the shirts ya used to wear”.
Aching. It had been the same for you; hell, you’d been unable to change your phone background for an entire year and your co-workers had all thought you were already in a relationship.
“I regretted leaving almost immediately but… I think if I had the choice, I would still go,” you say, eyes concentrated on the intertwined hands that now rest warmly against your thigh.
“I was a stranger to myself. I was so fixated on the idea of being somebody that I might’ve resented you if I stayed,” you continue, “I know it sounds arrogant but I wanted to be special”.
“You were already special t'me, dumbass,” he mumbles affectionately and your throat swells with apologies, dry and uncomfortable. Instead you laugh, abrupt and deliriously happy, the sound much closer to a sob than anticipated.
“I know that now,” you reply wetly, “I should’ve appreciated that more”.
“S’alright,” he tilts his chin forward to kiss your forehead, “now I get to learn about ya all over again”.
Laughter bubbles in your chest, breathless as you try to keep up with his loving touches. Your body arches towards him and he takes the initiative, wrapping an arm around your lower back and pulling you into his lap. You feel all the edges blur together until the only thing you can hear or feel is him, pliant and perching beautifully on his thighs while your bodies rock together.
This languid dance continues for what feels like hours, the simplicity of embracing each other, hands traversing each other’s bodies, hot breaths and wet kisses. He hums, the purr is deep and rough and pleased, and then he pulls away with reluctance; he smirks as you follow the path of his mouth, whining when he leans forward again only to merely brush your lips.
“Can I take ya to bed?” he pants, and you curl your fingers tightly into his hair as you say ‘please’.
As you fall back onto the king sized mattress your thoughts finally catch up with your body, and you ask, “have you been with other people? After Hanako, I mean”.
“A few,” he replies distractedly as he works the tight material of your jeans over your thighs, pulling you halfway down the mattress in the process. You giggle, breathless and giddy, helping him and kicking them off with your feet.
“They all extend their thanks, by the way,” and the confused crease of your brow is enough to make him grin as he braces his body over yours. He clarifies between tender kisses along the line of your bare throat, “y’know, since ya taught me how t’eat pussy”.
White hot arousal pools into your lower stomach at the thought of him thinking of you during those encounters. Remembering you, what you’d liked, how you sounded.
“Lucky them,” you murmur, tilting your head back as he descends down your torso, feeling his warm huff of laughter over your stomach. He rolls the flat of his tongue through your folds as if he were still kissing you, languid and smooth, tensing the muscle only as he passes over your clit.
“Fuck, I’ve missed this,” he mumbles to himself. You exhale deeply when you feel his fingers tease your entrance, lashes fluttering as he carefully sinks them into you alongside his tongue until you’ve taken him to the knuckle. He curls them upwards until your heels are kicking out along the bed, hips bearing down onto his wrist.
He holds you still with the press of a hand over your stomach, his strength evident as you writhe beneath him, the muscles of his arm tensing with the effort.
If there is one thing Osamu is good at, it's eating. Brazen as he sucks your clit into his mouth, the tip of his tongue massaging tight circles against you while he fucks you on his fingers. He barely stops to take a breath, groaning against you like you’re sharing the touch, hunching his weight forward as your body begins to convulse.
“Osamu,” you gasp, pitched and warning. A wounded sob catches in your throat as your breath is stolen from you, hands fisting into his hair without any thought other than chasing your end, pressing him roughly to your pussy while your orgasm washes over you.
His ragged praises and encouragements are barely audible over the rush of blood in your ears, but you feel the soft path of kisses along your stomach he creates as he waits for you to come back to yourself.
Osamu comes into view, bracing himself over you with forearms either side of your head, and you pull him into a desperate kiss by the back of his neck. You tempt him into your mouth, his face obscenely wet and the taste of yourself lingering on his tongue.
“Yer so gorgeous like this,” he murmurs, alternating between chaste kisses and licking into you sinfully, mapping out the line of your teeth. It was all consuming, as if he were savouring you.
“I want you,” you whine restlessly, thighs bracketing his waist and squeezing with impatience. He grins sharply.
“What d’ya want, baby? Tell me”.
With one last firm kiss he sits back on his heels to pull off his shirt, glaring in annoyance as the buttons slip between his fingers, before throwing the garment aside and standing to pull off his jeans.
“Condom,” you stutter between breaths and he reaches for the bedside table, tugging the drawer open awkwardly and taking a packet between his fingers.
“Ya don’t gotta tell me twice,” he mutters, the corner of his mouth twitching into an amused smirk and you laugh brightly. With a cheek turned into the plush of his pillows you watch as he rolls the condom over his cock and strokes himself to relieve the ache.
You shake as you reach for him and slide your hands across the expanse of his chest, the tremors of your orgasm still fluttering between your legs. The hair is fine and coarse against the pads of your fingers.
Your legs curl around his hips, feet suspended lazily in the air, and he ducks his face into the curve of your throat to nip at your skin. Osamu rolls his hips forward, his hard cock sliding through your wet folds, a hoarse gasp falling from his lips.
Threading one hand through his hair to cradle his head to your collar, you reach the other between your bodies to line him up with your entrance. His hips jump as you touch him, groaning at the kiss of your cunt to his tip.
He sinks himself into you until skin meets skin, the weight of his body swaddling yours. All rigidity bleeds from your limbs as he pulls out with a gratifying pace, the stretch of his cock inside you indelible. With each thrust of his hips your breasts shake and he leans forward to latch his lips around your nipple as he fucks his cock into you over and over again.
The rhythm is fervent, a hot coil in your body twisting tighter with each pump of his hips, the obscene wet slap of skin reverberating throughout the room. He moans, unabashed and bordering a whine, and the sound has your toes curling against the bed.
“Fuck, ‘Samu,” you whine between stuttered breaths, too far gone to be ashamed by the clumsy jerking of your own hips as you attempt to meet his timing, “more, need more”.
“I got you, sweetheart,” he rasps. The canting of his hips is incessant, he shifts his knees and encases you in his embrace until he overwhelms all your senses. He doesn’t speed up, instead pulling out until he’s barely inside of you and sliding into you completely, your body rocking up the mattress beneath the force. He fucks you hard, deep, every movement completely deliberate.
“That’s it,” he says as your thighs begin to seize, his voice thick with want, “feel so fuckin’ good”.
“Gonna cum,” you arch into his chest with a hiss, arms hooked beneath his and nails embedded into the soft skin of his shoulders.
“Cum for me,” he pants desperately, “cum on my cock”.
Pleasure sweeps through your lower stomach, blood rushing in your ears as your eyes squeeze shut, grip tightening around him in a feeble attempt to cling to reality as your orgasm hits you a second time.
As you resurface you feel his hips rock into you once more before they abruptly still, his large body quivering over you as he cums into the condom. His breath is hot against the underside of your jaw where he nuzzles into your pulse point, limbs still wrapped around him to keep him from getting up.
You don’t want to let go. He pushes up enough only to lean his forehead to yours, eyes held shut and relishing in the afterglow, your pussy still pulsing gently around his softening cock. Slowly, a grin spreads across his face, pushing into the swell of his red cheeks. He meets your stare.
“Shall we high five like we used to?”
“Oh my god,” your head drops back into the thick of his pillows in fond exasperation, “we aren’t eighteen anymore, ‘Samu”.
His grin only seems to get wider, taking his bottom lip between his teeth as he brushes his nose against yours in an intimate show of affection. “No, we aren’t. S’much better now, ain't it?”
“Yeah,” you breathe, blanketed in satiated bliss and love. He presses a light kiss to your cheek, then once more to your lips, shifting on his knees as his cock slips out of you.
“Gonna get rid of this an’ then we can sleep,” he murmurs against your mouth, and you hum tiredly in acknowledgement. As he makes his way to the bathroom you fight to keep your eyes from falling shut, a small seed of fear buried deep in your heart that maybe this really was just a dream and this was it’s conclusion.
But Osamu comes back. Still naked as the day he was born and smiling happily, crawling toward you with his too-big body and crowding you against his chest. He runs his hand along the length of your back.
“What d’ya want for breakfast?” he asks quietly.
“Onigiri,” you reply, the words slurring as sleep pulls at your body. The last thing you hear is his huff of laughter.
As consciousness returns to you, you begin registering your surroundings one thing at a time. You can hear the pitched song of birds outside, a distinct call that only occurs during the early hours of the morning. There’s an arm thrown over your naked waist, a hand resting against your stomach, and warm puffs of air ghosting the nape of your neck.
You pry your eyes open slowly, squinting against the morning light before turning in Osamu’s embrace to shield yourself. His body moulds around you seamlessly, accommodating the change of position even in sleep. You shuffle yourself closer and press a gentle kiss to his cheek, just below his eye, and you notice the twitch of his eyes behind their lids.
He stretches as he wakes, groaning with the movement before his arms soften back around your body like elastic returning to its original shape. “Mornin’ baby,” he mumbles, accent thicker with sleep. You return the greeting shyly, not wanting to break the intimacy of the moment.
“Sleep well?” he asks, shivering at the touch of your fingers against his chest. One side of his face is pink from how he’d slept, hair unruly and eyes a little puffy as he adjusts to the light. Your throat tightens with gratitude that you get to see him like this again.
“Best sleep I’ve had in a while,” you murmur honestly, “someone must’ve tired me out”.
“Glad t’be of service,” he grins, eyes falling closed again for a few moments with a relaxed sigh, “I hate to leave you in bed but Mamoru is s’posed to be home soon”.
“Ah. I can leave, if you need me to–”
He interrupts you quickly, squeezing your waist in reassurance, “s’not what I meant”.
“Okay,” you settle immediately, letting him pull you closer to his front, “we should probably shower before he gets back, then”.
It is with great resistance that the two of you finally get out of bed. Osamu suggests that you get the shower started while he grabs the towels, and when you lean across to turn the taps the cold water spits from the head furiously onto your bare shoulder. The fine hair on your arms raises at the sudden change in temperature, body still warm from Osamu’s embrace.
You step into the shower and reach for a cloth and the body wash you’d used last time, leaving the frosted glass door slightly ajar for him to join you. The pressure of the spray is a little higher than the one you have at your apartment, giving the sensation of a satisfying firm sting across your back, and you tilt your head to wet your hair as you lather your arms.
Osamu steps in, his eyes dragging over your figure from your feet to your lips. He closes the door behind him and steps forward, the space barely enough for the two of you, and he crowds you against the tiles.
“Give me that,” he smiles. Grabbing the washcloth from your grasp he pours a generous helping of body wash and holds his hand up, “front or back?”
You turn around wordlessly and he starts at your neck. His soapy hands slide over your soft skin, from your neck to your waist, and further down to grip your ass.
“Somehow I don’t think you’re just tryin’ to be helpful,” you mumble, head tilting forward as your muscles completely relax. He snorts, tapping your bicep to have you turn. He starts up top again, cleaning your neck and shoulders, his thumbs massaging firm circles into your skin. His hands descend to cup your breasts, giving them a light squeeze.
“Let me do you,” you beckon for the washcloth and he gives it over, raising a brow as you press your damp body to his front to let him pass, “don’t get any ideas. Stand under the water”.
“Yer the boss,” he smirks, the spray splashing off the planes of his back, hair darkening and sticking against his forehead as it becomes saturated with water. You slide your fingers through the strands and push them away from his eyes, his expression visibly softening.
You repeat his actions, indulging yourself and groping at the soft muscles of his shoulders. He was so strong and yet so malleable, pecs twitching when you lather his chest in soap in much the same way he had done yours.
Instead of having him turn you reach around under his arms to scrub his back, skin to skin, the weight of his cock now obvious against your thigh.
“Need a little help?”
Everything feels much warmer now, plumes of steam enveloping you both in the small space. “Y’can ignore it,” he assures you, unconvincingly, his shaky exhale barley heard above the sound of water hitting tile.
You set the washcloth aside, hands traversing his body once more to rinse him of the suds before you gently encircle your fingers around his cock, your grip just on the right side of tight.
“What if I don’t want to?”
He ruts into your fist, gasping quietly and tucking his chin to his chest with relief.
“You’re so handsome, ‘Samu,” you tell him, hoping he can hear the heat in your voice, hoping he knows it to be true.
He lets out a unintelligible groan as you slide up and down his cock at a cruel pace, alternating your grip and letting him clumsily thrust forward, fucking into your hand. Your eyes remain on his expression, wanting to watch his seams come undone.
You stroke him again while twisting your wrist, rubbing your palm over the head and enjoying his sharp inhale. You hear your name fall from his lips and it sounds like a plea as the pad of your thumb circles against his frenulum.
He curses, the word drawn out and rough. His eyes flutter closed, brows drawn up and together, lips parted and jaw slacked. He cums with a breathless moan, hand slipping on the shower tiles. You work him through it, the movement of your fist slowing as Osamu’s release coats your fingers and paints white streaks over his navel, and watch as the water washes it away.
When he sweeps you into a fervent kiss he has barely caught back his breath, cradling your face between his hands. Before you’re able to reciprocate, the shrill sound of an alarm cuts through the spray of the shower.
“Shit,” he mutters against your lips, kissing you a final time before manoeuvring your bodies so he can climb out, “I set an alarm just in case. He’s gonna be home in five minutes”.
“Take as long as ya need, alright?”
You can’t help but grin at how flustered he is, at how he’d anticipated that he would get carried away with you. Despite what he says you get out of the shower not long after he flees the bathroom, towel drying your hair and pulling on the fresh clothes left by the door.
When you step out into the hall you can hear a commotion downstairs at the front of the house. Mamoru must’ve just gotten home, you realise, and slowly make your way towards the stairs.
Curiosity gets the better of you, and so you lower yourself to sit on the top step. You stay hidden in the soft shadows at the crest of the staircase, listening to Atsumu’s voice carry into the house. It’s muffled but so clearly teasing, a pointed remark about the marks on Osamu’s neck and the flush of his cheeks. There is no reason to hide your smile here.
The sound of light sprinting feet echoes along the hallway below until Mamoru is standing at the first step of the stairs. His face brightens as he sees you, and you beckon him with a conspicuous wave of your hand.
“Are we hidin’?” He whispers excitedly.
“I’m hiding from yer uncle,” you tell him “he’s gonna bully me if he knows m’still here”.
“I’ll protect you!” Mamoru crowds into your space, and you lift your arm so he can slot up against your side comfortably. He isn’t heavy, but the weight is pleasant. Alleviating.
“My hero,” you murmur fondly and he beams. The two of you startle at the sound of the front door closing, followed by the click of a lock. Osamu appears just as Mamoru had, his content expression warming into endearment when he catches sight of you.
“What’re you troublemakers schemin’ up there?”
The question flicks a switch in Mamoru, immediately abuzz with restless energy and excitement, and once Osamu takes a slow step forward with his body lowered you understand why.
“Run!” You gasp, and Mamoru squeals as he rushes across the landing toward his bedroom. You follow close behind, peels of laughter reverberating throughout the house. Osamu is hot on your heels, the thundering of his steps up the stairs only marginally louder than the beat of your heart.
You roll onto Mamoru’s bed alongside him, and he crawls into your lap for protection. Osamu stands by the door and holds his hands up in front of his chest, fingers hooked like claws.
He tackles the two of you on the bed. You can tell he’s being gentle and withholding his strength but it’s exciting to Mamoru all the same, his squeals and pitched giggles growing in volume. You play your part well, pretending to fight his father off and holding the boy to your chest.
Osamu meets your eyes over the top of Mamoru’s head, eyes alight with joy. You smile, and hope he can see the love in yours.
You were home.