A/N: I have nothing to say this time around. If you’re wondering where the sex is and when it’ll happen, in the meantime I would tell you to go check out my smut-fest, The Bicycle Paths of Sotoba. There’s some BL smut in that one.
Happy Endings Are All the Same:
He’d gone around to the back of the clinic to where Toshio’s office was, shading his eyes from the sun so he could look inside. But the office was empty, and he frowned, his will wavering slightly in the face of such an obstacle. He was leery of entering the clinic itself, just as he was always leery of knocking on the door of the residence portion in the evenings. Seishin felt he was fairly good at handling the villagers in general, but Mrs. Ozaki managed to unnerve him in a way that no one else truly could. It seemed she was the only person in Sotoba who disliked him, and he could feel it keenly whenever he was in her presence.
So he was a bit put off at the idea of going into the clinic, knowing that there was even a slight chance she would happen to surface when he went in the door. He hesitated, the strong rays from above heating his shoulders under the blackness of his robes. The weather was beginning to shift toward autumn, but the sun had yet to begin its departure with the solstice.
Something drove him around the building to the front, and he walked into the clinic with more ease than he would’ve thought possible. Mrs. Ozaki was not in sight, and the receptionist looked up, a smile lighting his face when he saw the priest standing there, “Ah, priest! What brings you here?”
It frustrated a bit to feel his own lips settling into his usual soft smile, but he let it happen nevertheless, “I was passing by, and I thought that I would say hello to the doctor.”
“Oh, unfortunately the doctor is out on a house call. It seems that Hitohara’s arthritis has been bad again, and he couldn’t drive himself or walk over here.” The receptionist shook his head, “I feel so sorry for the poor man. It’s getting to be the harvest season, and he can’t even tend to his own fields!”
“Ah, that’s too bad to hear… perhaps I will stop by to see him as well later today.”
“Of course, of course; I’m sure it would lift his spirits at least a little.”
He bit roughly at his own tongue, feeling guilty. He doubted that he would go to visit Hitohara, despite his stated intent. Maybe to-morrow. But he was feeling defeated, and knew he’d probably simply go right back to the temple, and probably up the hill further to the church. He could go to see Hitohara to-morrow…
“Well, he left a while ago, so maybe the doctor will be back soon – I could fetch you some tea or something if you’d like to wait?”
“Ah, no, that’s fine.” He smiled again, “I had just thought I’d say hello since I was nearby anyway.”
“Ok, well, I’ll mention that you were here.”
“Thank you.” He dipped his head slightly, and then turned away, his hand already reaching for the handle of the door, his previous sense of determination dying away rapidly.
He could see the temple from where he walked on the roads, sitting up amongst the trees, gazing down on the village with empty eyes. The wind had been torn from his sails utterly, and he couldn’t help but feel mildly ashamed for it. But it had taken a lot of effort on his own part to make his way to the clinic, to overcome his own disinclination to take such action. He hadn’t known what he was going to do once he’d gotten there; it’d been beyond his abilities to think that far ahead. Once the idea of going to see Toshio instead of waiting for things to happen had occurred to him, he’d known he had to act immediately, lest he let the moment pass and his doubts take over. So he’d started moving at that very instant, had walked quickly, had refused to think of anything but of the action of walking and of the distance he had to go.
He found his pace now slowed, those same doubts he’d managed to avoid beginning to slip into his consciousness. And he was now at a loss; he didn’t think he could traverse that path again. He thought of the receptionist and wondered if he would tell Toshio that he’d been there. And he wondered if that would make any difference to Toshio at all.
When he passed into the shadows of the trees, he shivered slightly, unsure if it was the slight change in temperature or the fact that he was nearing his own personal trap once again. He considered his mother’s words… he’d actually considered them for most of the previous night. It had put him at somewhat more of an ease to know that she’d figured it out on her own, although he felt guilty, too, for having failed to mask things better. But it made him feel closer to her than he had in years, so he appreciated that, felt more comfortable somehow, even if he could not wholly shake that lurking sense of guilt.
Her statement about an heir had shocked him, though. He hadn’t known her to be so blunt. It had left him completely incapable of breathing or thought initially. But he supposed that she probably couldn’t have put it any other way, too. Because what would’ve been less blunt than that, yet still possessing clarity? He couldn’t see her, either, having asked him the exact question itself…
He felt himself touching his hair again for the second time in as many days, and thinking on their similar appearance. He remembered the pictures from old photo albums he’d paged through so gleefully as a child, excited for the chance to see what his mother had looked like when she was a kid, too. Her hair had been short in all those pictures, and he saw that it was only long in pictures after his parents’ marriage. When he’d looked at those photos again years later, he’d been struck by how much his mother looked like he did in the few pictures from the wedding. He remembered Toshio leaning heavily over his shoulder, and smirkingly saying how it could’ve just been Seishin himself wearing the dress. His face had gone red at that, and he’d jabbed Toshio in the ribs sharply, telling him off for insulting his mother.
So which was it, then? Had she been a masculine woman, or was he a feminine man?
He shook his head. It didn’t really matter, did it? But he would’ve liked to have met his mother back when she was that girl with the short hair in those photos, grinning widely as she stumbled her way through that distant world.
When he reached the temple, he went inside, headed for his room. The church was the ultimate destination, but Seishin could feel a certain itch in his fingers which demanded paper and pen. It would hardly be the first time he’d retreated to the church in order to write; it was where he’d done most of his writing when he’d been in high school, when he was quietly working at making something worthwhile. He’d felt less self-conscious when he wrote there.
The house was quiet, the only sound that of clocks and his father’s slight snores as he took his afternoon nap. His mother was probably resting herself, enjoying a bit of tea to go along with her reading. She tried to do so when his father was asleep so that she could keep him company when he was awake and she was not attending to anything else. Seishin tread carefully so as not to disturb either.
At the door to his room, he paused for a moment, letting out a light sigh. He felt tired; he had slept poorly the night before, and the night prior to that as well. In fact, it had seemed he had not been sleeping well at all as of late, and he couldn’t help but feel he was about to have another restless time ahead of him once the dinner plates were carried away and the moon carried itself over the horizon.
He slid the door open, banishing the notion, but stopped short as he stepped into the room. The outside door was open, the room bright and breezy. Toshio leaned back to look at him, quickly replacing his cautious look with a cocky one. He held up a bottle of plum wine, grinning, “Long time, no see, eh?”