He'd made the tea too strong again, Izumi reflected as he stared out the window at the hazy england rain. He always made it too strong. He just didn't have the knack for it that Takamiya had. Takamiya's tea was perfect every time. Not that he needed the tea to be perfect. It was fine the way it was. Like the slightly overcooked half-eaten breakfast still on the table. It was edible, and he didn't need it to be more than that.
It hadn't really come as a mind-numbing realization one morning. It was small things that added up over time that had brought it to his attention. Like how he really could wake up to an alarm clock. Or the one time his cellphone battery had died, and he'd found that he really could find his way around London's streets without help. There was also the afternoon, years before, when he'd gotten off work early and come home to find Takamiya fast asleep. His body had gone through the motions of brewing the tea, and setting the table automatically. Which was when he'd realized that not only did he know how to brew tea, but he knew exactly where all the dishes and silverware were located.
Of course, the tea had been too strong then too. But, of course, Takamiya had insisted he'd liked it that way.
A small smile tugged at Izumi's lips at the memory, before he sipped from the too strong tea currently in his cup. What it all meant, added up together, was that he'd never needed Takamiya to take care of him. It wasn't really shocking. He had taken care of himself before the other man had come into his life. There'd been his parents, of course, but his father lived in another city at that time anyway. His mother had cooked and cleaned when she was home, but she was away a fair amount herself - visiting his father mostly. He'd had school - and sometimes work - so he wasn't always free to go. That was why they lived apart to begin with - his schooling.
He'd known the bus and subways of Tokyo well enough to get wherever he needed to go. He had money from his work for take-out if he didn't want to cook. Phonecalls from his father were rare, though his mother called every few nights to check on him when she was away. He'd never felt neglected, even when they stopped celebrating holidays because his mother didn't feel right celebrating without his father. Even when birthdays became just another day in the year. Most of his friends' families were the same way. Holidays weren't as important now that they were older. Birthdays were celebrated with friends if at all.
He'd never once questioned if that was how it should be - or - rather - how he wanted it to be. Until Takamiya had made himself a fixture in his life. Slowly he'd been forced to reexamine his views on everything - including himself. Some changes were easy to adjust to. The fact that Takamiya would never let any holiday, let alone his birthday, go uncelebrated had been easy. It just seemed right to spend those days with him. Other changes were much harder. Even now he wasn't good at openly expressing the emotions that Takamiya was so free with. How the small, private confessions he gave were enough compared to the showering affections he gave in return was still a mystery to him.
He'd never truly stopped to imagine life without Takamiya. "I'll be there to see you off in the end." - his promise to him, was as far as he had ever brought himself to think. Beyond that his mind simply drew a blank. As stubbornly refusing to imagine that reality as it had once stubbornly refused to consider his feelings for Takamiya. The only brief thought of life without his older lover had come before he'd first even admitted what was between them - when Aoe had told him to cut him out of his life. "It would hurt too much." Even now the words rang true.
His wandering thoughts were interrupted by the phone. He hastily picked it up. "Takamiya and Sakashita residence."
"Still answering the phone that way?"
Izumi sighed, setting down his teacup. "Aoe-san." He greeted.
"It's been two years, you'd think you'd get used to calling the place just yours."
"Maybe I feel like saying my name alone is like tossing away his memory."
"Or it could be denial of another sort."
Izumi settled himself into the over-sized chair by the phone. "I know he's gone, Aoe. I was there, as I promised I would be. But I can't pack him away like his things."
"Have you packed them yet?"
"Most of them."
"Naoya still wants you to come back to Japan."
"You're going to say no again, aren't you?"
Izumi glanced around the old english home - so different from the apartment in Tokyo he'd been raised in. He'd once refused to give up Tokyo for his father, but for Takamiya he'd given up Japan. Nor could he say he regretted it. Being with him had made it worthwhile. 'It'll be alot of trouble for me if you don't take responsibility for me for the rest of my life.' His lips twitched in amusement as he remembered those words.
He heard Aoe's sigh come over the phone line. "I'll let him know, but he's not going to be happy about it."
"Tell him I'll visit sometime."
"I will if you mean it."
Izumi smiled sadly. "You don't understand either, do you?"
"...It was always easier for me to be away from the places where such memories were."
"For me it's the exact opposite. The memories make it hard for me to leave. Call it an addiction."
"I'll settle for calling you a brat."
Izumi chuckled at such typical words from his one time arch enemy. "And that would be new?"
"...Thank-you, Aoe-san. Good afternoon."
"Take care of yourself, brat."
Izumi hung up the phone gently, glancing over at the second cup of tea that sat untouched on the table. It was a tradition he'd started by accident, shortly after Takamiya's death. He'd set the table for two, and poured the second cup of tea before realizing what he was doing. Somehow it had become a morning ritual. A way to ease the ache of the loss he still felt so deeply, even two years later.
"Happy Anniversary, Takamiya." He whispered quietly, picking up the tea cup again. Perhaps the house and it's memories was an addiction, but if so then he truly didn't mind being an addict.
I'd actually only gotten partway into the Happy version, when this version took over. Most of the time I prefer the Happy version. LOL