A/N: Guess what? There will be some smut in the next chapter. This may seem like I am being nice. But, actually, I’m telling you that now in order to torture you with the knowledge that you’ll have to wait for it! HA.
Oh, yeah, some more Japanese suffixes in here, but only since Ozaki always calls Ritsuko ‘Ritsu-chan’ all the time.
Happy Endings Are All the Same:
He was smoking in the gazebo, as was his wont to do on his lunch break. He still felt a ghost of nausea from what he’d had to drink the night before, and there was also a lingering stiffness in his limbs. It may’ve been comfortable to lie like that with Seishin while awake, but it had done him no favors to remain like that in sleep. He’d woken early, the light coming in the open door. And then…
Well. He’d made Seishin upset.
So he’d stretched in his absence, and then left out the outside door, slipping back to the clinic and a hot shower. He’d even brought the partially empty wine bottle with him, too, shoved it to the back of the cabinet so that his own mother wouldn’t notice and question it. Let her stay in the dark about it all. There was probably an argument brewing about that soon enough.
Seishin had been hard.
He took a drag on his cigarette, leaning his head back as he breathed out again. He’d become hard in the bed when Toshio had dragged him there, the alcohol sloshing through his bloodstream. But he’d been too tipsy to take much note of it, had preferred to just let things roll along as they would. And maybe he’d felt secure in the fact that he knew Seishin would remain silent on the matter himself. That twitching foot… he had been too nervous.
But in the morning…
It had faded during the night, he had felt Seishin slackening, even as that foot had kept up its own cadence. He’d fallen asleep before that had stopped, and had almost been surprised to wake up and find its movement absent, although Seishin was awake when he woke up. He could tell by the way he was breathing, the tension in his muscles. He was flush against the other man, after all. And he’d been hard again.
Well. It made sense. Seishin was an adult. Seishin was a man. Seishin was… attracted to him.
But he hadn’t really thought of it that way before. They’d shared a bed, he’d kissed him, they’d kissed each other, but… what were two men to do, anyway? He knew, but that wasn’t it exactly. It was hard to put into concrete terms. He knew that if someone had asked him prior, he would have said that, yes, if Seishin had made a confession of love and had kissed him, had kissed him back when Toshio had kissed him, then, yes, his friend probably did want to sleep with him. But even saying that, even getting on a very basic level that that had to be the case, well… it was different than realizing it.
Maybe the priest had been right… maybe he had still been drunk in the morning…
“I could help you with that…” He murmured, the cigarette loose in his hands, his eyes still shut. What a stupid thing to say.
He sat up, stubbing out his cigarette on the wooden seat, and saw Ritsuko standing at the bottom of the short gazebo stairs. He hadn’t even heard her approach. She had some paper in her hands, and looked at him a bit guiltily, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you.”
“No, no… it’s fine… I was just smoking…” He frowned, “Hey, Ritsu-chan…”
He flicked the cigarette ash off of the pocked bench, the marks of previous snuffed flames all across its surface, “What do you think… of two guys?”
She looked confused, “What do I think of two guys?”
He shook his head, “No, never mind… did you need me for something?”
“Oh, the mail came. There’s something here for you, from your wife… Yasuyo wanted me to give it to you. She was, ah, worried about it getting into the wrong hands…”
He stood and walked to the top of the stairs, and took it from her. It was from his wife, and the envelope seemed to be straining at the seams, the flap uneven and taped down. The return address was listed as her shop; in fact, it was the address label from her shop in Mizobe. He wasn’t sure where she was living, honestly.
He placed the envelope into the pocket of his coat after considering it briefly; he’d read it after work. He had a decent idea of what it was, anyway.
“Thank you, Ritsu-chan.” He smiled at her. If there was one thing he could count on, it was his nursing staff. The other clinic workers were reliable, too, but it was the nursing staff he truly felt blessed to have. Yasuyo had brought Ritsuko in when she had returned from school with her degree, and he’d been happy to hire her. She’d done a brief internship with him during one of her college breaks and had demonstrated a high degree of competency.
Yasuyo was great, too. And she would’ve had to have been – she had started working in the clinic when his father had run the show, and he appreciated the strength of character such an endeavor required. Toshio himself hadn’t felt he possessed it; why else opt to work in the university hospital when his family ran their own practice?
But Yasuyo wasn’t the only one he’d admired; when he had begun, most of his father’s old staff was still working. Satoko had only been with the clinic for about a month when the elder Ozaki had died, but Yuki and Kiyomi had been his own hires after a couple of the older nurses had retired. It was almost as if his father’s death had been permission for them to pass into their golden years.
Yet Yasuyo stayed on. She was quite a bit younger than her former coworkers had been, but he’d teased her about it before. She’d smiled, but given him a very serious reply – she had no intent to quit until she couldn’t do her job any more. And if she couldn’t do her job any more, then she wanted to be able to go teach a little bit somewhere. She was determined to use her knowledge right up until the very end.
Maybe she’d been able to work for his father for so long because they actually had quite a bit in common… there was no way that his father hadn’t known that he was sick… but he’d worked up until the week before he’d died. In fact, he’d collapsed while doing an annual physical on one of the Mutou kids.
He realized he had been standing, looking down at Ritsuko in silence for a few moments, and cleared his throat, “I’ll read it later. Mrs. Ookawa is supposed to be coming in for a check-up on her arthritis. Don’t want to keep her waiting.”
“Then I’m going to take my break now, doctor. Is that alright?”
They walked back to the clinic, the envelope heavy enough to remind him of its existence with every step. Well, at least it gave him an idea of what he’d be doing with part of his evening.