Got It Made
W-Juliet (c) Emura.
Note: This was written well before W-Juliet II came out (much to my delight). Any discrepancies with the sequel is because of a lack of psychic abilities. :D Consider this a bit of an AU. Thanks for reading!
It wasn't exactly an evening meant for fateful meetings. (Most usually aren't. It's a fateful evening thing.)
The night was warmer than most and he had stayed back later than usual. Things in his department often piled up this time of year and as always, there were miraculously less people to cope with the rush. And just as miraculously, his boss would clap one hand on his shoulder and very cheerfully ask if he could get overtime done again today, it's the last day anyway, thanks a lot, you're as dependable as ever, Ueyama-kun.
What could he do but smile weakly and then go back to work, resigned to another instant ramen dinner from the nearby convenience store?
So it came to be that Ueyama Jun hung onto the railing of the train at a quarter to ten. It wasn't crowded but he didn't feel like sitting. He'd had enough of that for the last five hours, straightening out accounts and wishing people would just save a receipt once in a while. He was an accountant for crying out loud. Accountants weren't supposed to not account for things. That's why people paid him! To account!
Okay, calm down Ueyama. This is what happens when you don't have proper rice for two and a half weeks. Ramen is all well and good but if I have to eat another bowl, I might just declare myself a noodle hater. And then okaasan will be heartbroken and tousan will rail at me about not saying true to the Ueyama Ramen Stall oijichan started after the war and so on and so forth…
…just calm down, you. Get a grip. It's the last day you'll have to do OT anyway. Really.
…at least you'll be home soon.
The man let out a mild groan as he stepped out of the train doors into the night air. Busy as he was in his self-counselling session, he didn't really notice his surroundings until he was out of the station and on the streets. An accidental jostle of the arm interrupted his reverie, bringing him back to the present.
"Sorry about that."
"No problem," replied Jun absentmindedly while he took a step to the left to let that someone pass. Then something flickered in his mind that this someone was a few inches taller than him. This was a pretty rare occasion he himself was about five feet eight inches – pretty tall by his society's standards.
He looked up and blinked, at the guy who was just two feet away from him.
For one thing, he wasn't a gaijin as he'd expected.
For another, he looked awfully familiar…
"Miura? Miura Yuuto?"
The man, in a typical business suit but with the tie loosened and shirt collar unbuttoned, immediately turned round, frowning slightly. "Yes?"
Jun grinned. "Whaddhaya know? It is you!"
If anyone had bothered counting, it took him exactly two seconds before an expression of recognition took over. "Ueyama...!"
"It's been way too long, man! How are you?"
Yuuto smiled easily. "Ah, I'm alright. So far, so good."
"Same old Miura," Jun replied with a laugh, walking up to him. "You were always vague on the details, even in high school. It's strange though. I've been on that same train for the past two weeks and I haven't seen you around till today."
"Some movie star's having their wedding dinner at the place where I work. We had to stay back to plan the menu." Yuuto grinned slightly. "Overtime, you know."
"Tell me about it," professed Jun with feeling. "Say, you had dinner yet? Maybe we can get a bite to eat and catch up. My treat. S'not like I meet an old friend everyday."
The man hesitated for a bit. But Ueyama Jun had been a good friend back in high school. He even knew that Yuuto had lost his mother when he was younger. Considering Yuuto's value of privacy, that more or less proved they'd been rather close before graduation.
He nodded. "I've had dinner actually but there's a sushi-ya nearby."
"Great! Let's go then!"
The duo made the short walk there and as they dined on sushi and beer, caught up in more detail. Halfway through supper, they were already talking freely just like old times. They exchanged business cards, shared news about other friends, each other's family and of course, their current jobs.
Yuuto spoke about his becoming a chef at the Maria Prince restaurant after high school and becoming assistant head chef a few years later after working his way up the ranks. Jun elaborated on university life and getting a degree in accountancy before going to work in Sony as part of the accounting department.
"Not fun sometimes, as you can see. Nearly three weeks and I can't even look at numbers anymore!"
Yuuto laughed in the low tone of his voice. "Isn't that near blasphemy for someone in your line of work?"
"Yeah well, any proper accounting gods around would know my pain. Tell you, Miura, all this work's putting a damper on everything. Even my love life!"
"The way you put it, it must be flooded by now," replied Yuuto wryly.
"Easy to say for the guy who must have all the female customers swooning over him," said Jun with a large grin. "You were always pretty popular among the girls. Though we never understood why you said no to Reiko-san – even after she caught us smoking outside school, she still went after you."
"I told you guys before: wasn't interested," said Yuuto with a nostalgic smile. Jun snorted in response while his friend laughed slightly. "She dated Omura after all that though, if I remember."
"Yeah. Figured it was either him or Matsukawa – they never touched a stick in their lives." Jun smiled ruefully. "Pretty bad habit we started. I tried to quit but so far, it hasn't been working." He took a swig of beer. "What about you? Ever tried quitting?"
Jun nodded sympathetically. "Awful, huh?"
"At first. But it got better." Yuuto smiled suddenly. "With the right motivation, it's possible."
"…" Jun stopped in his tracks, staring at his friend. "Wait, does that mean you managed to quit?"
Yuuto raised an eyebrow. "Yeah. So?"
"Hey, no offence meant, Miura," said Jun quickly, remembering he was speaking to the guy who could break legs with a well placed swing of the arm. "It's a good thing. But… c'mon, you were the one who used to have this one, maybe two, stick a day thing. Hell, you were among the first to get into the habit in our last year. Can't blame me for being a bit surprised."
"So I'll be among the first to quit too." Yuuto shrugged. "Not that unusual when you think about it."
Jun looked sideways at him, curious and a little in awe. "When'd you decide to stop?"
"Couple of years back," answered the man, holding his mug from the top and looking at the sushi menu without seeing the words.
"Man… that must've been one hell of a motivation. Whatever it is, I hope they sell it over the counter," Jun joked as he lifted his mug to his lips again.
"Doubt it. My girlfriend was the one who didn't approve."
There was a sudden splutter to Yuuto's right where Jun actually spit the mouthful of beer back into his mug. Coughing, he looked back up at Yuuto, eyes wide.
Yuuto felt a twinge of annoyance along with amusement. "Is it that shocking?"
"Sorry." Jun swiped his hand over his mouth, turning away to digest this new factoid and failing somewhat. "I just… um…"
There was a pause.
Yuuto had to chuckle. "Yes, Ueyama, girlfriend. Really. If it's a crime, I must have missed a memo."
Jun rubbed the back of his head, abashed. "Okay, that reaction came out wrong. Sorry. But geez, Miura, you're sure full of surprises today, aren't ya? First no smoking and then a girlfriend? You were the one who had girls nearly throwing themselves at you without any results. You didn't so much as wink at them back then!"
"They never threw themselves at me. And I winked… once or twice."
"Those were never winks, Miura. Blinks maybe, but never winks." Jun raised his mug. "Cheers though. You finally got with the programme."
Good naturedly, Yuuto clinked his mug against Jun's before taking a sip. "Wait till Matsukawa hears about this – he'll probably think I'm lying."
Yuuto shook his head. "You guys…"
Jun snickered. "Hey, we had a running bet that you'd join a monastery when you turned thirty! You gotta admit this is pretty big." Saying so, he popped a piece of sushi into his mouth and chewed. "Next thing you know," he paused to swallow, "You'll be telling me you got married or something."
He burst into laughter at that remark, fully expecting his friend to join in. But the silence that followed caused him to turn and find Yuuto smiling quietly to himself, staring down a mug three quarters empty of its liquor.
Just the buzz of conversation from the other store patrons surrounded them both for about three minutes.
Yuuto looked back up, as serious as could be. "Yes, actually."
Jun stared at him some more.
"Okay, first of all, thank you for waiting until I swallowed. Second," He looked at his mug of beer, frowning hard. "I KNOW I only had one can of beer so…" He looked back at Yuuto accusingly. "How many beers have YOU had?"
Yuuto couldn't help it now – he laughed. Laughed with the full amusement he had, at the expense of his bewildered friend who didn't know the story behind it all.
In the midst of the other's mirth, Jun just sat there staring before looking disgusted. "You've got one strange sense of humour, Miura. Quit pulling my leg like that."
Yuuto finished chuckling and with a small grin, replied, "Who said I was?"
Unconvinced, Jun snorted and rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right. Give it up, wise guy. If you're married, how come I don't see a ring, eh?"
Yuuto's grin changed into a smile. "Not all married couples wear their rings on their fingers nowadays, you know." Saying so, he reached into his collar and pulled out a thin gold chain around. Dangling from it was a simple golden band, gleaming under the yellow lights of the store.
"The kitchen's not exactly the best place to wear a ring. Too easily lost, especially in the middle of work when it's chaotic." Yuuto smiled tugged a little wider. "I figure it'd be safer around my neck."
Never had a man looked so shocked at the sight of a relatively small piece of jewellery. The expression on his face was priceless. "…you're NOT kidding."
Yuuto put the chain back behind his shirt. "I never kid about these things."
"…good grief. How long have you…?"
"Two years now."
"Two years- man, I'm backdated." Jun suddenly grinned. "Never even thought to invite me to the ceremony eh?"
"Who told you to go to Taiwan that time?"
Yuuto smiled. "I heard you'd gone overseas. And by the time you got back, I was on my honeymoon."
One more pause and then Jun had to shake his head. He'd been doing it a lot this entire evening. One more time wouldn't hurt. The timing was just too impossible not to be amazed at.
"Gotta say, Miura, you got your bases covered. Congratulations to you, late as it is."
Nodding, Yuuto clinked glasses with him again and finished off his drink. "It's been good seeing you, Ueyama. But I need to get home. It's getting pretty late."
"Gotcha. We're done anyway," replied Jun. And before Yuuto could even move a hand to reach into his pocket, Jun immediately waved it away. "My treat, remember?" He pulled out his own wallet and grinned. "Consider this a really belated wedding present." Yuuto could only smile and relent.
Outside the restaurant, the two friends shook hands. "We should arrange a get-together with Hikata, Omura and Matsukawa next time. It'll be good to see them again."
Yuuto agreed. "Maybe at Christmas time or something."
Jun's grin was slightly teasing. "I think you better spend Christmas with your wife. Lucky man like you should be with her during that time of year."
His friend laughed, agreeing with him.
"But another time, definitely. I'd like to meet your wife if possible – a lady who managed to get you to settle down must be pretty amazing."
The other smiled. "She is amazing, I'll say that. You could come by during New Year's. You could meet my daughter too." He paused a moment. "Or my son. We're not sure."
There was a much longer pause at this statement. Jun, knowing a bit better now, gave his friend a look instead of jumping at this startling implication. "I thought I'd heard ALL the surprises from you today. Did you just say you're gonna be a dad?"
At the affirmative nod, Jun took on a near-disbelieving expression on his face. Though he knew, from the look on Yuuto's face, this probably wasn't something the latter kidded about either. "And what was that about not being sure?"
"We thought it better to keep it a surprise. We don't mind either way."
"…how far along is she?"
"About eight months."
Jun looked at his friend for a while, as if assessing the truth of this statement. Then he just had to laugh.
"…y'know Miura, for a guy who didn't even think about all this stuff?" He gave his friend a light punch to the shoulder. "You sure got it made. See you round, huh?"
"Thanks, Ueyama. See you."
His friend waved once before making his way to a taxi stand nearby, lighting a cigarette as he walked and smirking to himself.
Who'd have thought…? Guess there's something about what people say: the one who says they're not gonna get married often gets hitched first.
Snickering at the thought, Jun let out a breath of smoke into the night air.
Behind him, Yuuto turned in the opposite direction, heading for home: an apartment on the twentieth floor of the building they lived in. It wasn't quite the home he and Akane had pictured in the beginning, but the place had grown on them and they'd decided to buy it. The eventual addition of an extra member to the family wasn't much of an issue since they had enough room.
A fifteen minute walk later, the greeting he got at the door wasn't quite what he had in mind. Before him was an expression that promised fire from the sky, brimstone and a long lecture on the virtues of punctuality and responsibility.
"Where've you been?"
Yuuto let out a breath as the door closed behind him. "Ito…"
His baby sister, now sporting longer layered hair but the same fiery spirit she'd had in her teens, was more than ready to lay it into her elder brother. After all, she knew her sister-in-law wouldn'tdo it. "Yuuto-nii, you know better than to come home so late when Akane-neesan's-"
"And where is my wife?" interrupted Yuuto as he shrugged off his coat and removed his tie, draping both over an armchair. While he was extremely grateful to Ito and Makoto for keeping his wife company on the few nights he had to work late, his sister's lectures were untimely at the end of an already very long day.
Makoto, taller and wider shouldered than he had been four years ago, emerged from the kitchen. "She's in the bathroom, Yuuto-san. Everything's fine. And now that you're home, we had better get going to let you rest."
"Mako-chan, don't you dare help this guy. I'm gonna show him what a responsible husband should be doing when his wife's pregnant-! Mako!"
Yuuto threw his brother-in-law a grateful look as the latter helped his wife put on her coat while pushing her gently to the door. Makoto returned a small grin, his own coat hanging over the crook of his elbow.
Still, Ito wasn't about to be overruled just like that. "You better apologize for coming home so late, Yuuto-nii! And make sure she gets some rest – she's been waiting for you the whole ni-"
A tinge of guilt pricked at Yuuto when he heard that. But the next voice that emerged managed to erase that feeling with a few words.
"It's okay, Ito-chan. Thanks for dinner, you two."
A very pregnant Akane walked slowly out into the room, bestowing a wide beam of pleasure onto Yuuto. There was the usual squish his insides took whenever she smiled at him like that before he crossed the room to take her into his arms. Holding her carefully, he dropped a kiss onto her forehead and drew back a bit to look at her. She seemed fine, just as Makoto had said, glowing with contented happiness.
"Okaeri," she murmured, scrutinizing his face. She tilted her head a little, brushing his cheek with her fingers. "Have you had dinner?"
"Tadaima." He tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear as he took hold of her hand. "I'm fine. I hope you didn't cook though."
She laughed slightly. "Your sister would have tied me to a chair if I tried. Makoto-chan would have helped. "
He smirked. "Good for them."
Akane shook her head although she said laughingly, "Whose side are you on?"
"Yours. And our child's." He placed a hand gently on his wife's stomach. "The little one's settled down for the night?"
"After the way Baby acted up this morning, I should hope so," said Akane with a slight wince. "From the feel of it, a dojo will be the perfect place to grow up in. No matter if it's the Miura's or the Narita's."
Smiling gently at her comment, Yuuto kissed her again on the forehead. "You should go rest. I'll bring you some chamomile tea."
Before Akane could respond, the soft clicking of the front door echoed through the apartment. Both she and her husband looked up to find that Makoto and Ito had already taken their leave. Probably with knowing grins at the way their respective older siblings were acting towards each other.
Akane smiled apologetically. "We really ought to stop doing this – this is the second time we let them leave without saying goodbye properly."
"I doubt if I can stop. And they're used to it anyway," replied Yuuto casually.
"If it makes you feel better, we can return the favour when Ito's pregnant."
Akane laughed. "When will that be, I wonder?"
Yuuto smiled wryly as he led his wife to the bedroom. "Considering their acting schedules, not very soon."
"Well, they're still young. They have time." She stopped by the wardrobe and pulled out a towel to hand to him. "The water heater's already warmed up. Go take a shower first."
Yuuto half-winced. "That bad?"
Akane smiled sweetly and just pushed her husband into the bathroom. "Go on then."
With a sigh, he went. It was common knowledge to them, and to both sides of their family, that he'd oblige her even if she asked for the moon (which she never would since that was just how she was). A request to go and take a bath was peanuts really.
Later, after changing into fresh pyjamas and making Akane her tea, Yuuto held his wife as close as he could while making sure she was comfortable on their mattress, covered by enough blankets to keep them both warm.
In the dark, he told her about his day and how he'd met his old friend. She laughed gently when he told her how surprised Jun had been at his not smoking. She laughed even more when he related the reaction to Yuuto being married and a father-to-be.
"Sounds like you were quite the character in high school," said Akane with a smile that could be heard in her voice.
She felt his laugh rumble in his chest. "Maybe."
"We have to remember to invite him for New Year's. To make up for the wedding invitation."
"You just want to meet him, don't you?"
Akane chuckled. "Do you not want me to meet him?"
"…Ueyama's a good guy but I don't think he'd steal you away from me."
"For one thing, he has to work later more frequently than me – the man's too busy and you're too sensible for that. And for another…"Akane felt her knees go a bit weak (somehow they kept on doing that – it was as if every part of her was never immune to him) when Yuuto whispered near to her ear, "I'd steal you right back."
She reached out to feel his face, his defined jaw line against her fingertips. "Good to know," she murmured.
Their lips met in the darkness and Yuuto shifted to hold her closer, careful not to jostle her too much. She clung to him, the feeling of missing him fading away into the sensation of having him close.
They could be considered moderate in their progress as husband and wife, having waited for a year before getting married, and yet another year before deciding to have a baby. But, as Ryuya had said, it would have been weird to see them do otherwise. Neither of them were the kind to rush into things, especially something as important as marriage and family. Even if they felt that marrying each other was among the best decisions they'd ever made.
There were some issues – there had been a few before they even got together officially so really, what was the difference? – but none they couldn't weather. And while they were still considered 'just married' somewhat (two years was a drop in the ocean for marriages, they knew), they had the advantage of being newlyweds: they were hopeful of the future and very much in love. As an added bonus, they had two families, both with good advice and plenty of love to support them.
As Yuuto and Akane parted, both feeling the kiss had been too short but knowing they could always do it again (and again and again), it was pretty safe to say that they would stay newlyweds in that aspect for a long time.
Three days after New Year celebrations…
He could already hear voices inside and wondered if it was really alright to come.
Then again, he said it was fine when I called…
The door pulled inward and there stood what appeared to be Yuuto's doppelganger, only with longer hair and a more casual posture. He took one look at Jun and grinned. "Happy New Year! Ueyama-san, right?"
"Uh, yeah…" He looked at the man in the doorway for a bit then lit up in recognition. "Ah! Miura's older brother, right? Nice to meet you."
The other grinned. "And you. C'mon in – the whole family's here." Ryuya called out for his younger brother as he closed the door behind Jun.
Indeed, the entire Miura clan, with a few extras, had dominated the living room, eating and drinking with their usual exuberance. Ryuya returned to sit on the sofa next to a foreign looking blonde lady. Beside them was a man, just as blond, whom he recognized as an actor in one of the recent plays in Tokyo. He was looking on amusedly at a dark haired girl. Likely it was Yuuto's kid sister, Jun thought, Ito-san. Also an actor as far as he knew.
Ito-san was having some sort of arm wrestling match with a younger man, greatly resembling the girl. He was probably the youngest Miura boy although Jun couldn't quite remember the name. On an armchair nearby sat an older man, but no less fit than a young one, eating peanuts, drinking sake and cheering them on. He could only be Yuuto's dad, considering the way he was encouraging his 'daughter to teach the youngest Miura some respect.'
"Happy New Year, Ueyama. Glad you could come."
Jun turned and grinned at his friend, holding out a bottle of wine he'd brought as a gift. "Happy New Year. I seem to have dropped in on a family visit though…"
Yuuto accepted the wine with a thankful smile. "Don't worry about them, just make yourself at home."
"I will, thanks."
It wasn't long before Yuuto introduced everyone there. Jun's guesses were confirmed about the youngest brother, Tatsuyoshi and Yuuto's father, Goro. The other foreign woman, Christina (or Chris as she insisted on being called), spoke in rather odd Japanese, often corrected by her long-suffering husband. As big families went, they were as warm as they were distinctly different from each other.
"AAARGH! No fair!"
"Hahah! That's what you get for challenging your older sister without training properly!"
"What training? It's arm wrestling! I bet you're just getting back at me for winning at cards earlier!"
"What'd you say?"
"Your whole family's very close," remarked Jun as he sat on his chair and sipped a cup of green tea Yuuto had brought over.
"Sometimes too close," said Yuuto wryly although the fondness was apparent in his voice. He turned around and the fondness grew exponentially. "Ah, Akane…"
Jun turned to see a petite, pretty woman, just reaching Yuuto's shoulder but resembling the latter's brother-in-law in a more feminine manner, come up with a bundle of cloth in her arms. Smiling at her, Yuuto put his arm around her shoulders. Jun noted it was a remarkably natural movement.
"Ueyama, this is my wife Akane. Akane, my old friend, Ueyama Jun."
Jun got up at once and bowed. "Pleased to meet you at last, Miura-san."
Akane bowed slightly. "And you, Ueyama-san."
Jun glanced at the bundle in her arms and grinned knowingly at the couple. "Congratulations! Is it a boy or a girl?"
Akane and Yuuto both beamed. "She's named Tsuki."
Jun craned his neck to look as Akane pushed back the cloth slightly. Little Tsuki looked back up at him in a mixture of wonder and confusion, as babies sometimes did when confronted with yet another unfamiliar face. She blinked at him before deciding he was probably a good guy and gurgled happily at him.
"She's got your eyes, I think," said Jun to Yuuto with a laugh. "But definitely her mother's smile."
Akane chuckled. "Everyone says she's going to grow up like Yuuto, the way she acts."
Yuuto shrugged. "I'd rather she grow up to be herself." At that, Akane just smiled up at her husband.
"Ahhh, is she up, Akane-neesan?" called out Ito from the sofa.
"Bring her over, Akane-san. She'll have a good view of her aunt and uncle making fools out of themselves," said Ryuya with a laugh to which Chris elbowed him slightly with an impish grin.
Akane excused herself and walked over to the sofa area where the baby was immediately made a fuss over. Tsuki didn't seem to mind the attention. She just kept looking wide-eyed at these adults who kept popping up in her view of the world.
"Yuuto? Could you bring her pacifier?"
Her husband nodded as he clapped Jun on the shoulder. "Stay for dinner, will you? We're having yakiniku."
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," replied his friend with a grin.
As Yuuto walked the few steps towards the corridor, Jun observed him from behind.
In high school, Yuuto had often walked with a bit of a stoop, perhaps from his height, perhaps from his own introverted nature. He never spoke much although he smiled often. However, Jun couldn't really remember him laughing much.
Now, he walked straighter, proudly, no longer so afraid of what the world might throw at him again. There was no need to look at his face to know Yuuto was happier – his very posture said everything.
But if you happened to catch a glimpse of his expression, you'd see a man who'd found his peace at last.
Turning around, Jun looked at the family cooing over Tsuki, including Akane-san herself who was laughing at her daughter's reactions to Chris's funny faces.
That right there, figured Jun, was probably the biggest cause of Yuuto's change for the better. Among the people he'd known, Yuuto was one who deserved such joy and Jun was happy for him. But he couldn't help envying the man slightly too – a wonderful wife, a happy family, a beautiful daughter. All were blessings indeed. (Though it hadn't come without hard work, some heartache and a ton of good luck as Jun would eventually discover.)
For now though, Jun took a sip of wine and joined in the happy atmosphere around him, thinking:
I'll say it again, Miura. You got it made.
And Yuuto, who stood some feet away watching everyone with a smile on his face, would have agreed in a heartbeat.
A/N: Gaijin: a more casual form for 'foreigner'.
Tatsuyoshi's Rie-chan would join them for yakiniku later. Just because. No other special reason. Really. :D