A/N: This ended up being such a downer chapter, and I didn’t even mean for it to be D=
Trying to avoid Kimi ni todoke syndrome here, e.g. characters being too stupid for life about being attracted to each other. Muroi is such a bummer character in canon, so unfortunately it works this way.
Happy Endings Are All the Same:
It was the first time in a while, but he was in the church, his little church. It was too unnerving to be in the house, all things considered. He knew his mother would never say anything directly about it, but he was uneasy about being around her after having had two nights in a row of Toshio staying over. Did she think they were…? How Toshio had ever been able to live in the same house as his mother with his wife was beyond him. It just seemed too… strange.
And then, of course, there was the whole matter that he wasn’t really sure what was going on. He’d woken to find that he’d somehow managed to both roll away from the outer door in the night and take Toshio’s hand in his. And he’d said he knew that Seishin wanted to… touch him. And had wanted to share the futon originally anyway. And hadn’t pushed him away when he’d felt his hardness. And had… kissed him.
He bit his lip, resisted touching them. He was too old for stupid stuff like that. It wasn’t like it was the first guy that had ever kissed him.
It was just… Toshio. Toshio, who was still married, even if it was fading out. Toshio who had always dated girls. The boy who had flung an enthusiastic arm around him often in high school, not knowing how difficult that made things for his friend.
Toshio who wasn’t interested in men.
Seishin sighed, dropping his head back. He was just… getting his signals crossed. Toshio had been scared by what Seishin had done. And he was getting himself confused from it. He was the kind of person who could – he rushed into things so fast. He’d done that with Kyouko, after all. And he didn’t really get it, did he? He’d been so shocked to hear about Kazuo, and Hibari-sensei, too…
Hibari-sensei. His first crush, even before Toshio… he hadn’t felt that way about his friend until after that. He remembered when he left, it remained so firmly stuck in his memories. And of course it was. It had been his first kiss.
Toshio had teased him a lot, told him he was being a teacher’s pet. And he’d let him do that, hadn’t really protested, settling for simply looking a bit dismayed. Because he was scared of Toshio figuring out the truth, that he really liked Hibari-sensei. A lot. The way he was supposed to like the girls in their class or the pretty woman who had become their homeroom teacher after Hibari-sensei was gone. But he didn’t like them that way; he liked Hibari-sensei that way. So he didn’t really join in when the other boys were talking about girls, and it was marked down as being due to his being from the temple. And with the young teacher it was part of that, too – Seishin’s too much of a good kid, so of course he’s the teacher’s pet.
He felt kind of stupid, hanging around after school, coming up with excuses for why he hadn’t left yet. But he had kept at it anyway. And sometimes then he got to help the teacher with photo copies or something, and even sometimes he got to walk with him to the bus station, ride it part-way with him. Blush a lot and try not to sound dumb. He’d been sixteen and a late bloomer in that regard.
And then, the news had come that Hibari-sensei was leaving. It wasn’t clear why. He just was. And Seishin had felt devastated. After school, he’d gone to see him, had been unreasonable, really. And then… had cried. Felt mortified. And as the sun’s rays had slanted through the window, orange in the late afternoon, he’d been kissed.
And then he’d wanted to be held, to be felt. But that was it. He’d been kissed, smiled at sadly, told he would find someone. But Hibari-sensei had to leave.
It was his first experience with heartbreak. And there’d been no one to tell.
He’d wanted to tell Toshio. Toshio has bugged him about how much he was moping around after Hibari-sensei was gone, prodding him with remarks about the whole thing. Nothing at all that was near to hitting the mark, though. It wasn’t something he would’ve considered. But something weird had happened – he’d gotten angry at Toshio, yelled at him, cried then, too. And Toshio didn’t seem to really get what was going on, looking thoroughly bewildered throughout, but he’d let him cry on his shoulder, tried to calm him down.
He hadn’t even gotten that when he broke it off with Kazuo.
When he’d met Kazuo, he’d felt a twinge of something. But at the time he was still in the throes of his high school crush on Toshio, and so it slipped away easily, forgotten. They became good friends, though, regardless, working on homework together, getting lunch, hanging out. So much so that they started to talk about ditching the crappy boarding house and getting a half-decent apartment together instead.
It was a little after when they’d moved in that he remembered that twinge, realized that there was something to it. And promptly felt a bleak despair. In love with another friend! Definitely couldn’t tell him… what if he hated him because of it? But living with him was pure torture, trying to ignore how he was feeling, to nip it in the bud.
Funny how things turned out. A year into living together, they’d come back drunk from dinner, stumbling and laughing too loudly. In the living room, he’d tripped, and Kazuo had, too, for he’d been right close behind him. They fell on the floor, and he’d laughed breathlessly, feeling light-headed and somewhat alarmed at the close contact. And somehow they’d both figured it out, understood that they were both feeling the same. A collision of mouths, wandering hands… it hadn’t been much, and it had been a bit scary afterward, but it had been the start of something.
He got so wrapped up in it. Occasionally he felt some guilt for not telling Toshio, but Toshio was never around anyway, too busy with studying, and he felt happy. Utterly, amazingly, idiotically happy. Coming home to someone who cared. That desire to be held and felt fulfilled.
But Sotoba reared its ugly head, and it just wasn’t possible any more. Kazuo couldn’t go with him, didn’t want to, was upset that he was going to. Kazuo didn’t come from a family with a tradition like that, either of a family company or a temple or whatever. His father was a professor, his mother a seamstress. Their own little Cinderella unit, in a way. Love overcame everything, didn’t it?
He moved back to Sotoba and accepted his fate. Kazuo stayed in Tokyo, in their apartment.
And Toshio hadn’t known any of this.
He was going to be unhappy again. He knew it. The doctor didn’t really know what he was getting into. He was a man with a suicidal friend and an empty bed. It made sense to him, but that didn’t mean it would actually work. It wouldn’t take much for him to realize that. Maybe he would let him back in the futon again. It would get it all out of the way much faster.
And then… he studied the ceiling. And then?
A young man from another branch of the family, to train, to actually do the duties necessary for the temple. To have… a family. A wife and a son. Or even just a daughter, adoption wasn’t so bad… The temple would go on. In the end, the temple would go on.