Chapter Forty: Always and Higher
"Yuu! Yuu wait!" Hisashi called as the brunette stormed through his living room without so much as taking off his shoes. He hadn't said a word as he sped all the way across town in the car and parked it outside his house, though he'd driven so fast the nauseous Hisashi hadn't been able to get words out either. But now that his feet were back on solid ground, a thousand questions spilled over in his mind and he needed Yuu to answer them. He needed with every fiber of his being to understand what had happened at dinner and why.
Ignoring Steve's welcoming barks, Yuu headed out of the living room and went to his own, where he kicked off his shoes and began tear out of his clothes. Hisashi followed, pausing at Yuu's ajar door and watching him.
"Yuu…" He murmured. "I won't understand anything unless you tell me…Please Yuu."
Yuu pulled off his turtleneck and chucked it on the floor with a frustrated sigh.
"What do you want to know?" He breathed, not turning around. Hisashi paused as he heard the deeply cut emotion in his boyfriend's voice. The truth hurt, and the blonde knew that well, but keeping it inside and blocking it out sometimes hurt a thousand times more. He hesitated, trying to think of what he should do. And for some reason, the first question that came to his mind was something completely unexpected.
"Yuu, where's your dad?"
The brunet froze, still not turning around. It was several minutes before he quietly spoke.
"He died. Two years ago."
Hisashi's lip parted in shock.
"Oh my god…How did it happen?"
"You're from Hokkaido, do you remember that naval ship that hit an iceberg and sank just off the northwest coast two years ago?"
"I think so. It was a huge deal because a bunch of important generals and officers died."
"Yes. One of them was a naval general. His name was Yanase Yuudai, my father."
The name rang a faint memory in Hisashi's mind and he let out a small gasp.
"I'm so sorry Yuu…why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Because we hadn't spoken in seven years," Yuu said flatly, picking up his thrown clothes and putting them in the closet.
"Because I told him to fuck off and I never wanted to see him again. And since the feeling was mutual, we parted ways. Wasn't just me though. Mother and Yuko hated him too, since he always criticized their untraditional ways. He was with the navy except for two weeks every year, and he would still manage to make them the most miserable fourteen days of our lives. He hated that mom had a career, he hated that Yuko never submitted to his ideal of what a woman should be like, and he hated me because I valued things like art and expression. He made our house a living hell whenever he was there. If he hadn't died Mom would've probably divorced his ass. Their marriage was arranged and they never loved each other anyways…"
Yuu's voice trailed off and he kneeled on the floor, hanging his head as he put his shoes back in their place. Hisashi leaned up against the doorpost, trying to process it all. He'd heard the conversation Yuu and Yuko had in the driveway, and that his own mother had observed and analyzed his psychological pain for her own profit. And the blonde's lips slightly quivered as he realized that the whole time Yuu grew up, he'd probably had no one who loved him.
Yuu gave a deep sigh and stripped out of his slacks.
"I'm going to take a shower," He mumbled incoherently as he grabbed some sweats and a T-shirt out of his bureau drawer. But as he tried to slide past Hisashi, the blonde stopped him, placing his hands on his shoulders.
But the blonde shook his head, clinging to his partner whose shoulders were beginning to quiver. Being with Yuu for some time, Hisashi had always sensed that he was extremely uncomfortable showing emotion around others, and after tonight, he knew precisely why.
Even though Yuu had held him countless times as grief poured out of his eyes, he had never once seen Yuu cry.
"Hisashi move…" Yuu said, practically begging.
"Yuu, can't you see that it's okay? It's just me…you don't have to hide anymore," Hisashi murmured, trying to look into the crimson eyes hidden by his bangs. Yuu's jaw clenched and his fists curled, and Hisashi saw a large tear begin to run down his cheek. The blonde wrapped his arms around his partner, resting Yuu's head on his shoulder and quietly whispering into his ear.
"I love you, Yuu. I love you so much…everything's all right now."
A single sob escaped Yuu's lips and more tears began to pour from his eyes. He didn't quite lean into Hisashi's embrace, but the blonde held him all the more tightly.
"You know," Yuu murmured, his voice heavy with sorrow and anger. "I'm going to be a good damn father. You know how I know? Because I'm not going to be anything like he was! I'll actually be in my son's life!"
"I know you will," Hisashi whispered back, tears gathering in his own eyes. "I know it. He's going to have a life free of all that pain, and so will you."
"I've already had more pain than I thought I could handle Sashi. Hah, you wanna know something funny? The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized I didn't like Hatori just because he rivaled with me for Chiaki…but because he reminded me of my dad. How stupid is that?"
"But you got past it, Yuu. And we're going to get past this together. Remember when I was in the hospital and you told me everything was going to be okay? It will be."
The couple carefully went to sit on the floor, Hisashi still holding Yuu tightly as he sighed deeply, a new memory stirring in his mind as Hisashi mentioned that time.
"There's something else I should tell you," Yuu said creakily. "When you were lying there in the psych ward I…I knew exactly what you were feeling…because I'd been there before."
Yuu nodded, doing his best to suppress another sob.
"It was my second year in college. I was really depressed because of my father and I was starting to realize that Hatori was in love with Chiaki too and it just became too much. I didn't actually try anything though. But I was living with Yuko and she just read the signs and admitted me to a psyche ward for three days.
"The first night I was there… it was one of the most terrifying things I've ever experienced. I sat up till dawn and kept thinking things over and over again. And I decided I never wanted to be in that place ever again.
"I started taking on more classes and more part time work, and the busyness just kind of kept me stable. Even now I have the tendency to overwork. I probably don't have clinical depression like you, because it never really surfaced again. But still….I want you to know that I know how you felt sitting in that hospital room."
"Oh Yuu," Hisashi breathed, lifting his head and staring into Yuu's weary, dripping eyes. "I love you so much…thank you for telling me."
Hisashi's quivering lips curled into half a smile and he wrapped his arms around Yuu's neck. He was shocked more and more as Yuu let his see the broken shards of his past, but at the same time, he couldn't help but feel that much closer to him, being able to share that grief and watch it turn into happiness when this had passed.
"You were so brave tonight Yuu," He murmured. "You've confronted everything in your life that held you back…and now you can be free. Just like you helped me. It's even in your name."
Yuu reached up and cupped Hisashi's cheek, his head tilting in question.
"Your name means 'higher' Yuu," Hisashi said. "And you're going to keep climbing no matter what happens to you."
A dim spark appeared in Yuu's moist eyes and his fingers stroked a blonde curl away from Hisashi's face.
"Always*?" He murmured.
Hisashi quietly laughed, wiping his eyes on the back of his sleeve.
"Yeah." He said, resting his head on Yuu's shoulder and closing his eyes. The two sat on the floor holding each other, not saying a word as the room grew darker and darker and the moon rose in the sky. Eyes eventually dried and reopened wounds began to heal themselves in the warm, loving embrace the two fathers and their unborn baby shared.
"You know," Yuu whispered after a long while. "Our son is going to have a good name just like us. One he can live up to."
"Have you picked one out?" Hisashi asked, lifting his head off of Yuu's chest and finding a small smile on Yuu's face.
"Well, I thought 'Atsushi' would fit well."
Hisashi's eyes widened and tears began to fill them again as his late best friend's face flashed across his mind. But these were not tears of grief, but of joy.
"Oh Yuu," He practically sobbed. "I would love that. Thank you…thank you so much."
"I love you Hisashi," Yuu breathed, kissing Hisashi's wet cheek.
"And I love you," Hisashi replied with all his soul. He touched his mouth to Yuu's and they shared an intimate kiss that lasted more than a few minutes. And when they finally let go, the first words on Hisashi's lips were, "Araki Yanase Atsushi" as their hands joined together on his stomach.
The next day as he headed home from work on a late subway (they were getting close to the end of a cycle so it was well into evening), Yuu's conscience rode up on a mental messenger bike and urged him to do something he was currently dreading. The brunette took his phone out of his pocket and opened it, scowling at Yuko's name in his contact list. Even though fighting was as natural to him and his twin as breathing, he felt as though he owed her some sort of apology for the situation (Yuko had been entirely correct when she said Yuu had quite the conscience).
So with a hefty frown, Yuu hit the 'send' button and waited through the hollow rings for her to pick up. But as usual, her greeting was less than enthusiastic.
"This had better be important. I'm taking a scented bath."
Yuu grimaced and tried to block out the mental image as much as he could.
"Oh please," She said, probably rolling her eyes. "Like you've never seen me naked before. We did share an apartment for two years in college."
"Two years I have been trying to suppress for a very long time."
"Don't be such a prude. What's up?"
"Well I…I just wanted to say I'm sorry for the ways things turned out the other night."
"Yuu, you know full well that none of that was your fault."
"Even still, I shouldn't have talked to you like that. I'm sorry."
There was a pause on the other line before Yuko answered somewhat awkwardly. Yuu wasn't the only Yanase who liked to hide behind a poker face.
"I'm… just sorry your boyfriend had to see us in all our gory glory…How is he, by the way?"
"He's fine. Took the whole thing better than I did at least. He's probably at home watching anime and eating cake."
"As the pregnant are know to do." Yuko said dryly. "Though I will say I'm glad I'm not in his place."
"Amen to that honey." A third voice suddenly chimed in the background. Yuu froze, his eyes growing wide with horror.
"Uh Yuko…you wouldn't happen to be…alone in that bathtub would you?"
"Not exactly," Yuko replied. "Miku-chan, hand me that loofah."
"You know you could give me a warning or five when you having your freaking girlfriend over!" Yuu said, mortified.
"Oh it's not my girlfriend. We broke up. She wanted me to get her name tattooed on my ass. Who the hell would do that?!"
"Then who the hell is in your bathtub?!"
"A tranny. I went out to the clubs earlier and found the coolest drag club called 'The Birdcage*' at the edge of the district. He was so interesting I invited him over. I'm still in a bit of shock that there's a man in my apartment. But at least this one I can discuss outfits with."
Yuu's face had curled into a blended expression of horror and disgust and he didn't answer for several seconds.
"Anyways," Yuko said, breaking the silence she didn't consider awkward. "Good to talk to you baby brother. Maybe I'll stop over again sometime soon."
"Sure," Yuu replied, the idea not sounding so terrible (nixing the tranny of course).
"And Yuu…I know it took guts to call me so soon after. I appreciate it."
"Any time," Yuu smiled.
"I love you Uu-chan." Yuko said in a slightly higher voice. Yuu's nose wrinkled at the sound of his sister's childhood pet name for him.
"Say it." She chided. Yuu rolled his eyes and let his next words out begrudgingly.
"Love you too Koko."
After that embarrassing exchange (made no better by Miku-chan's flamboyant croons in the background), Yuu quickly bid his sister goodbye and hung up just as the train stopped at his station. And it was right then that he made a solemn promise to himself.
Hisashi could know about absolutely anything in his past… except for those stupid nicknames.
*1. Hisashi's name means "Always" (as is the title of his original appearance fic. It's also, along with the sequel "Forever," are where you can learn about the original Atsushi.).
*2. If you want to know more about this drag club, try reading my Junjou fic "The Birdcage." Misaki + Shinobu + a drag club = a freaking hilarious time.
Whew glad I got this chapter out fast. These emotional scenes are like ripping off a band aid. Thank you all so much for the well wishes and awesome reviews! They mean so much :)
And now we are back to Nostalgia! Prepare yourselves for confessions and tons of emotional fluff ;)