( jyouken )
The Conditions

"You can still back out of it, y'know," said Yuuta Takenaka, as he looked to the large box he'd just set on Mizusawa's new kitchen table. The Mizusawa patriarch had a weekend assignment, so in his stead, the young man had volunteered to help his friend with his big move, hang out a little, and make sure his friend knew what the hell he was getting himself into. "It's a big city. Even if you don't find someplace that close, you can definitely find something."

Mizusawa was sitting on the arm of the worn couch they'd found in the living room. Both were taking a break while his mother dealt with the moving people downstairs.

He didn't know what to say. The truth was that Mizusawa thought of Yuuta as one of the most reasonable people he knew. Sure, he would have his moments, but generally, he was very level-headed. He was the type that thought things through. Taku Mizusawa was the type to spontaneously ask his one-time crush to stay with him for a year. But actually seeing the place brought it home how lucky he was. The place was roomy enough, clean, and in a good location. It was just too good to be true.

"I'm sure he'd understand," Yuuta continued, still eying that box. He didn't look too eager to start unpacking yet, and he reason was evident.

They were worried about "he". Him.

Cabinets they found semi-stocked and a few pieces of furniture in the otherwise empty-looking apartment showed them that the antecedent to their pronouns had indeed already moved in, though he was nowhere to be found. It was a fact that Mizusawa found comforting and worrying at the same time.

Another discreet glance at the door, and Mizusawa turned back toward his friend in the kitchen. "I signed a lease. A contract."

"You're okay with it?" quipped Yuuta.

Mizusawa exhaled and rolled his eyes. "We've talked about this how many times?"

Finally, Yuuta bowed his head, sensing the mounting irritation in his friend's voice. "Just... making sure. If you're good, I'm good." He offered a smile, which Mizusawa weakly returned. He knew that, yet again, he wasn't convincing and his friend wasn't convinced.

But Mizusawa did rise and make his way into the kitchen and taking a place by Yuuta at the table. He reached into his pocket and took his brand-new key to the box, slicing through the layers of packing tape. It was Yuuta's turn to sigh, and the two began emptying boxes and stocking cabinets.

...

By the time it was dark, Mizusawa had unpacked most of his things for the common rooms, while his mom and best friend were on the road back home. He was left alone to deal with the rest of his things, was stuck on hooking up the television and DVD player he'd volunteered to supply.

The thing was, he'd never been too tech-savvy, and was currently trying to figure out why he needed a TV and another box to just to watch his network shows, and why ten extra cords were packed with the DVD player. Was he supposed to use them all? Which went where? Technology was supposed to be convenient the last time he checked...

A loud, high-pitched creak permeated the room, Mizusawa looked up from an instruction booklet that was proving to be a load of crap. It took him a moment to realize that it was the front door crying out for some lubricant spray. And that the tall figure of Ryuuichirou Kiyama had suddenly appeared in the entrance.

As the man crouched down to remove his shoes, Mizusawa attempted to stand only to find a bundle of cords was wrapped around his leg and had him pinned to the ground. So he stayed there and smiled his winningest among a pile of wires and remotes and assembly manuals.

"Welcome home!"

A pause. Kiyama blinked.

"Oh."

And Kiyama simply looked at the man on the floor, eyes wide, as if he were looking at a perfect stranger. Or crazy. He did recognize him, right? Mizusawa figured it looked a bit strange, for him to be hunched over in the corner of a dark room, looking very much like an electrical hazard. Whether he was crazy wired guy, even if he was his friend from school, why was he talking to him so familiarly? It did seem like a bit too much...

Mizusawa felt his smile fade and his face flush, and he prayed it was too dark in the room for the other man to notice the latter. It was only after a few painful moments of staring match that Kiyama would raise a hand in greeting.

"Hey."

Mizusawa could do nothing but stare as he watched Kiyama take a few paces. And then he stopped.

"You don't need any help with..."

Mizusawa shook his head. "Oh, no! We took care of all of it."

Another step, then Kiyama turned and pointed to the tangle of wires surrounding Mizusawa. The latter shook his head vigorously.

"Really, I've got it!"

So Kiyama nodded and disappeared into his room.

Mizusawa looked down the hall for a long time. He expected to hear at bedroom door creak open again, a light flicker on and filter from under the door, or some other sign of life. For all he knew, the other man had walked into his room and dropped dead. Did he not care that the person he'd be living with for the next twelve months or so was there?

"He's probably tired," Mizusawa mused aloud before turning his attention back to the television hookups. "And what's the deal with this blue wire?"

...

It was a few hours later that Kiyama emerged from his room with the suggestion to have dinner delivered. After a discussion they settled on Chinese.

Between the phone call to the little family restaurant and the knock on the front door, neither of them spoke. Presumably bored, Kiyama retreated back to his room, while Mizusawa lingered in the living room, triumphantly taking in a primetime reality show. But he wasn't really watching it. Instead found himself consumed with thoughts about this new place where he'd go to sleep every night and brush his teeth in the morning and...

Shortly after they collected their meal from the delivery boy, Mizusawa watched as Kiyama sorted through the containers, peeking into bowls before placing them on one side of the table or the other. As usual, he was quiet while doing so. Mizusawa figured that he should've been helping with that, but his mind was spinning with Yuuta's words from earlier.

"Are you okay with this?" The words left his mouth before he even noticed.

Kiyama lowered a container of soup, his eyes wide. "You wanted the pizza after all? Next time we can-"

"With this." Mizusawa made circular motion with his finger, a gesture he knew was ambiguous at best. Only when the circles shrank and it looked like he was just pointing between the two of them was there the glint of understanding in Kiyama's face.

He set down a bowl of rice and looked Mizusawa in his eyes. The shorter one grit his teeth, as if he had to brace himself to be looked at. He'd learned to handle a lot of things in his dealings with Kiyama, but not eye contact. Not with those eyes. A sudden sense of dread washed over him when he considered that it was something he'd be forced to endure and have to get used to.

"I wouldn't have agreed if I wasn't," he started, his voice as flat as his eyes were intense. "You're okay with this, right?"

"I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't." Mizusawa smiled.

Kiyama cracked a smirk of his own before he resumed sorting through the entrees and sides. After the relief of being released from the former delinquent's ocular stronghold passed, Mizusawa ruminated over the brevity of Kiyama's smile. Was he regretting his decision too? Kiyama never spoke a word about his feelings, even about things that... well, tortured him. Could he dreading the idea of living with a weirdo like him that much...?

Fortunately, Mizusawa's descent into despair was interrupted by a wrapped pair of chopsticks and napkins being shoved his face. He uttered a thanks and took his seat in front of some plastic bowls filled with rice, meat, and vegetables. With an "itadakimasu", he started poking around his bowl, noting that the beef was more done than he liked it.

And the room fell silent. Mizusawa couldn't suppress his glances at the man across from him as he picked the water chestnuts out of his veggies. This guy, he even ate his noodles quietly...

It was then that something appeared to strike Kiyama. It took one pointed look for Mizusawa to set down his chopsticks. It was obvious that something important was about to be discussed.

"Maybe we should decide on some rules? Just basic things."

Ah, he'd read about these before - "roommate agreements". Responsibilities would be delegated, lines would be drawn, misunderstandings would be avoided. They definitely needed anything that would make life easier. Mizusawa nodded.

"Three things," Kiyama started, his voice quiet but firm. It seemed like he had been thinking about this for a long time. "One, try to clean up after yourself. Two, let's call after eleven quiet hours."

Mizusawa nodded again. Kiyama placed his chopsticks on his plate before continuing.

"Three. Not to intrude on your personal life, but I don't want to walk in on anything..."

This time, Mizusawa didn't nod.

It was the first time he'd heard Kiyama reference his sexuality since right after the training camp incident. After Kiyama had turned him down, there was that uncomfortable period... but they never really talked about it. Mizusawa always got the feeling that Kiyama, like a majority of the team, thought his sexuality something that could be ignored. And everything kinda did return to normal.

Everyone was still his friend. Kiyama was still his friend. In spite of that.

A queasy feeling was bubbling up from his stomach, Mizusawa forced a chuckle. "That sounds pretty good."

"Thanks," said Kiyama, and he resumed his meal.

Fair enough, he told himself, picking through his stir-fry. What Kiyama said was more than fair, and definitely not some kind of personal attack against him. He was sure the other wouldn't subject him to an impromptu make-out session with a random girl on their kitchen table.

Mizusawa looked over at Kiyama, who was guiding noodles into his mouth, looking blissfully unaware of the nerve that he'd just touched. It really was fair, but the fact that he'd mentioned it like that...

It was disappointing.

"Um..."

Mizusawa looked up to see Kiyama looking in his direction with an expression he couldn't quite place. He followed the other's gaze to his own dish of food. It had barely been touched.

"We can have pizza next time. I really don't mind."

Mizusawa smiled, making an extra effort to keep from looking as fake as he'd been feeling that entire evening. He didn't like pizza all that much, and he guessed Kiyama didn't either.

"Sure, we can do that."