Weighted, Measured and Priced, Part 3
It still got dark fairly early, being only February, and it didn't help that even when the snowstorm stopped, the thick, grey clouds that had produced it stayed behind as if daring anyone to say they thought it was over. So Ritsu and Masamune ended up just spending time at the counter in the restaurant. Not that Ritsu was complaining, of course; he couldn't remember the last time when he had almost literally nothing to do. Even his visits with his parents had seemed more like a chore than anything.
Masamune's admirers had been lurking in the shop for a few hours now, and Masamune himself had been roped into helping his grandmother make sushi again. Ritsu was left with sitting at the counter and watching his boyfriend as he worked, chopping and gathering and wrapping when needed. Ritsu would never admit it, but Masamune was good at making sushi. The admirers seemed to be torn between glaring at Ritsu, who Masamune kept smiling at between making rolls, and watching Masamune work. It was a different woman from the one they met at the convenience store who finally approached him, sitting down on a stool at the counter and smiling like they were good friends.
"How do you like our town?" she asked, catching Ritsu off-guard. He had, quite frankly, been expecting them to interrogate him. He almost felt like relaxing, if he hadn't been receiving looks from them the entire evening.
"It's nice," he said.
"Where are you from?"
"Uh, Tokyo? I live in the Bunkyo district."
"So the city."
"Yes." Ritsu shifted uncomfortably under the woman's gaze, feeling like there was more to this conversation than this small talk. "I grew up in the area."
"So how long have you known Takano-san?" And there it was.
Ritsu considered his answer carefully. He had already told the women that they were coworkers, and very well could have answered with that. Before he could make the decision, though, Masamune had finished with the sushi for the moment and sat down on his other side. Masamune just watched the people walk around the restaurant and eat like he hadn't even heard the conversation. Still, Ritsu ducked his head and said, "We went to school together. So, about eleven years I guess."
Immediately Masamune's eyes were on him, but he was getting a sidelong look. "If you don't count those three years you stalked me in the library."
"I was twelve!" Ritsu said, disregarding their current audience.
"And thirteen, fourteen and fifteen," Masamune said, shrugging. Then he smiled and tugged on Ritsu's arm, making Ritsu fall against his side. "You were a cute kid, though."
"Masamune," Ritsu said sternly, attempting to push him away, but it wasn't anywhere near working. Masamune was called back into the kitchen by his grandmother, though, and he planted a chaste kiss on Ritsu's cheek before getting up to see what his grandmother wanted.
"You've been together this entire time?"
Ritsu turned to see the woman who'd approached him. She had an unreadable expression on her face, and she was the only one watching him at that point; the others had snuck off to the kitchen so they could continue to watch Masamune work. Ritsu looked down at his lap, where he had his hands folded now Masamune didn't have a hold of them. "No."
"Um, since August," Ritsu said. "We did date for a few months in high school, but it was… complicated." His expression was the definition of a paradox: he was smiling, but his eyes were as wide as those of a deer caught in the headlights.
Suddenly, Masamune came through. His face was carefully blank, but the way he was walking, it looked like he wanted to get away as soon as possible. Ritsu looked at him with concern and quickly followed, ignoring the women who were trying to tail him. Masamune had gone outside without putting on his shoes or grabbing his coat, so of course Ritsu was concerned.
He expected to see Masamune standing there with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, but that wasn't the case. He was just standing there in his socks, having kicked off his slippers at the door, leaning against the side of the store and staring up at the sky. The clouds still hadn't cleared, so the view wasn't that much better than the one they saw every night in Tokyo. His face was still completely stoic, though, so Ritsu could only take a guess at what had happened.
"Masamune?" Ritsu rubbed his hands on his upper arms, cold since he hadn't picked up his jacket either. The fact that he had gone to the bottom of the stairs to put his shoes on was practically a miracle as well, if he had to admit it.
Ritsu had stopped walking when he was about three feet from Masamune. Masamune reached out for him, though, and Ritsu's cheeks colored but he walked over. If Masamune had asked, Ritsu would have assured him that the color was simply because of the cold. They were both outside in late February without coats, after all. He ended up back-to-front with Masamune, his boyfriends arms wrapped around his stomach and Masamune's nose buried in Ritsu's hair.
"What happened?" Ritsu finally managed to ask. He wouldn't admit something like just being there in Masamune's arms made him warmer, or that he was concerned.
"My mother called," Masamune murmured into his hair. "She does that every now and then, I'm told."
Ritsu had been slowly closing his eyes, comfortable despite the cold conditions around them, but at that he opened his eyes and twisted his head around to look at Masamune. The other man leaned down so they could be eye level. "Did you talk to her?"
"No," Masamune admitted, pulling Ritsu tighter against him. "My younger sister wanted to talk to her grandma. I didn't have much place there."
"You have a sister?"
"So I'm told," Masamune said, sounding not the least bit concerned about it. "My mother remarried and had another kid. I guess she's trying to do it right this time."
"You didn't come out that bad," Ritsu said, glad he didn't have to look his boyfriend in the eye as he said all this.
"Maybe not, but both my parents were too wrapped up in themselves to have much of a hand in that," Masamune said. Then he smirked. "I could've brought you in and had sex with you while one of them was home and they would've been none the wiser."
"Pervert," Ritsu said, breaking out of Masamune's grasp at last. He instantly felt a drop in temperature and started rubbing his arms again. "Can we go inside again? It's freezing out here."
Masamune was still smiling as he followed Ritsu back inside. "I can warm you up if you want."
Ritsu ignored him as he slipped off his shoes at the bottom of the stairs to the apartment.
Now that Masamune was, relatively, alone, he looked around the restaurant. The woman who'd been talking to Ritsu was left sitting at the counter, and her friends were nowhere to be found. He sighed and walked back up to the counter, sat down on a stool, and proceeded to remove his socks. They had been soaked through from standing out in the snow even just those few minutes, and he looked at them in disdain.
"So you um. Knew him before you came here then?" the woman asked. Masamune gave her a sidelong glance before rolling his socks together. "Well, you were only here for maybe five months? I realize that was a short time, but you left an impression on us." She waved her hand vaguely at the door, even though the women she'd been seen with those past two days were nowhere to be found.
"I seemed to do that when I was younger." Masamune's eyes just kind of drooped as he looked at nothing in particular. "However, the whims of a few women I didn't even remember the names of aren't going to change my feelings about him."
"You love him."
"I've loved him for eleven years," Masamune admitted, finally standing up from his stool. He slipped his feet back into his slippers and tossed the wet ball of socks between his hands. He didn't elaborate, instead simply going up the stairs to find Ritsu again. He felt the overwhelming urge to just hold him at that moment.
The next morning they had to set off early if they wanted to get to Tokyo at any reasonable hour, plus the cycle would be starting over the next day so they needed to prepare. Ritsu had been half asleep when Masamune's grandparents said goodbye to them and Masamune's grandmother had piled boxes of something she didn't identify into Masamune's car when they were piling their travel bags in it. It was only when they left the island of Shikoku and were crossing one of the expressways across the water to the main island that Ritsu was awake enough to wonder what they were bringing home with them.
"Food," Masamune said, his eyes briefly following the supports on the bridge as they zipped by. "Grandma seems to think that we'll both eat better if she just tells us to."
Ritsu narrowed his eyes at the boxes behind him. "It's not sushi is it?"
"…no," Masamune said. "Why, did you want it to be?"
"It's not like we can't get sushi on every corner back home," Ritsu said, turning back around and staring out the window. The heat still hadn't kicked in, so he found himself burying his head up to his nose behind his scarf. He did briefly glance at Masamune, though, but looked away as soon as he saw his boyfriend was smiling. "What are you smiling about?"
"I'll make us some sushi when we get home," Masamune said.
"Like I want sushi again!" Ritsu said. "Did you eat that every day when you lived here?"
Masamune just smiled and brought his disposable coffee cup to his lips, putting his eyes back on the road. Eventually, Ritsu fell asleep, and Masamune couldn't help but put his coffee down and reach over to ruffle his hair.