I and Love and You
Disclaimer: Don't own either Fujimaki Tadatoshi's Kuroko no Basuke or the Avett Brothers' "I and Love and You".
He wakes up drenched in sweat, hand stretched out in front of him. Almost reflexively he glances to the left, and all that greets him is a blurred dark emptiness. There is no one here beside him, not since that moment of which his cruel dreams keep reminding him, that moment to which he can trace everything back. He's dreamed of it since it happened two months ago, but never with this frequency (every night the past three nights and twice tonight alone). He looks at the clock, squinting until he can see the rough outlines of the red numbers. Too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep. He doesn't want to have that dream again, though, doesn't want this odd ache inside him that's almost eating right through him to persist. He puts on his glasses and sits up. Coffee first, then to find a solution. This dream nonsense has gone on long enough.
He checks the Oha-Asa website's "Spiritual Forecast" section for Cancer this month. He remembers there was something about dreams from when he read it in the beginning of the month, but he'd dismissed it then because it had been a week and change since he'd had that dream (or, for that matter, any dream at all). There's a bit in the beginning about Feng Shui in the dining room (Midorima doesn't have a dining room; he wonders, as he has been wondering a lot lately, if he should move). and then, at the bottom, there it is. "Dreams this month will help you come to terms with an uncomfortable topic."
Uncomfortable is an understatement. These dreams leave him sweating and short of breath, like he's just played an entire basketball match without stopping between quarters or having any time outs, alone against a team of titans. And the feelings, the regrets that he buries every day, the regrets that come bubbling to the space between his conscious and subconscious in these dreams—they are more than uncomfortable. He has tried to make peace with them, tells himself over and over again that this was the right decision, that he was in way over his head—so why does he feel like he's drowning now more than ever? He's so used to being alone, but this loneliness is terrifying and empty in a way that he has never felt before. He's not generally an anxious guy; he's prepared and tries to stay calm. But these past few months he's been a nervous wreck. He's even considered taking up smoking again, has gone so far as flicking his lighter a few times, has watched the burning flame with fascination. He wonders if sleeping pills would do the trick, but no. He'd have to go to a psychiatrist or see someone in the hospital and it's not like he has a problem or anything. He's fine. There's nothing wrong with him; eventually this feeling will go away on its own. He still hasn't signed a new lease and the rent keeps getting higher. All of these signs point to him just needing a roommate. He's just gotten way too used to coming home and having the lights on and dinner in the oven. And he's dwelling too much in the past. There are too many memories in this small apartment.
Yes. It's uncomfortable for him to have to tell the landlord he's leaving. That must be it. It's an inconvenience, for both of them, probably. But it must be done. Midorima nods firmly at the computer screen and closes the laptop, now staring out the window at the expanse of buildings across the street but not seeing them, really just staring blankly ahead.
Takao's been looking for another roommate for ages, since he broke up with his live-in girlfriend. They'd always had a spare room but now no one's there to cover the other half of the rent and he's gone through four roommates in five months because the first one lost her job and had to move back in with her parents and the second one was way too messy and the third one was in college but transferred to a school in Kyoto and the fourth one moved in with his girlfriend, and he doesn't want this vacancy to come back again but he hasn't found anyone willing to commit to more than a month until Midorima springs the idea on him because it would be a hell of a lot cheaper for him to live with Takao than to live alone, and he's not messy and he's single (and definitely not looking right now) and he has a stable job.
Takao blinks, shrugs, and nods. They always tell you not to move in with your best friend and that it will destroy your friendship, but that doesn't really apply to their situation because Midorima works too much and Takao goes out too much and they probably end up seeing each other less now that they live together because they don't make room in their schedules to hang out, even though Midorima can totally tell there's something on Takao's mind that he really wants to tell him. But Midorima also has a feeling that he's not going to like whatever Takao wants to tell him.
Kise's always had a lot of friends and acquaintances, has always been surrounded by people, and has always been lonely. Everyone either looks up to him or looks down on him, or just watches him from a great distance, craning their necks in some direction just to catch a glimpse, and he's just in the middle by himself because everyone wants to brush up against him but not get too close, not really see beyond the surface.
Midorima didn't see the surface, just walked right through it and into Kise's heart, and just being with him made Kise so unbearably happy, so of course he had to lie to himself and tell him this was real and good and going to last and it meant as much to Midorima as it did to him, and of course that was all totally and completely wrong. Because Midorima's always been focused, and he walked right through Kise without even noticing on the way to some bizarre goal of his. And then he looked to the side and Kise was still hanging on, and he shook him off because Kise was just another (ultimately unwelcome) distraction.
"You know, he's still totally hung up on you, too," Takao says.
Midorima blushes. "What?" How? How could he have known? Is he just bluffing?
Takao rolls his eyes. "You think I didn't know? Come on, Shin-chan, how long have we known each other?"
"I mean, it was kind of obvious, the way you two looked at each other and the way you acted. I mean, you're both way too old and way too far out of the closet to have any reason to hide it, anyway."
Damn it. And what the fuck does Takao mean by the way they looked at one another? Kise's always flirty with basically everyone, and Midorima tries not to give anything away. So how did this escape? How did his feelings…how did any of it…? "I am not hung up on him."
And Takao just laughs at him. "Really."
Of course Midorima's not hung up on him. Because they were just friends who became fuck-buddies and that was all there was to it, and okay they were kind of getting too close but that was why he ended it, that was why that morning he had stopped the car, parked it outside the café and left the engine and the heat running and said those words, had let Kise get out and watched him walk away, hunched over in the rain and breath hanging visible in the cold air while his feet stomped on disintegrating paper coupons in puddles. No, Midorima didn't watch that as if his life depended on it, didn't memorize Kise's steps, Kise's body as it became shrouded in mist.
Of course, Takao reads all of this in his face (damn those eyes) and just shakes his head. "Really, Shin-chan, you're so dumb. You don't deserve him."
Midorima feels like punching the wall. "I know. Why do you think I broke it off?"
And okay, Takao had meant that remark half in jest. But Midorima is Midorima and he always takes everything way too seriously and this whole plan of convincing Midorima to just get back with Kise already (because they're both clearly miserable apart and both way too stubborn to say anything to one another and have been avoiding each other since they broke up) has backfired immensely. Fuck.
Why is this all so damn complicated? Wasn't this supposed to just be sex? Why is Midorima still dwelling on it and regretting how things went more than three months later? There are no regrets in simply satisfying your primal urges. And this has been staring him in the face, for a really goddamn long time, longer than he'll care to admit (not that he'd care to admit any of this in the first place). This was never just sex, no strings attached. Because Kise stayed and Midorima let him stay and then in the morning he ate some of Midorima's cereal and he said they should do that again sometime and they did, and Midorima stayed at Kise's place and they fell asleep in each other's arms and Kise kept leaving all his random crap at Midorima's (and Midorima still has most of it—a couple of pairs of sunglasses and some promotional stuff he got from modeling shoots and a thermos that Midorima didn't really know what he should do with, so he kept and moved with him when he left the old apartment). And when Midorima realized and tried to back out it was already too late because he was head-over-heels in love with Kise and it's been long enough that he should be over him but he's really not. And he would bet a significant amount of money on Kise having kept the lighters and the fountain pen and the cell phone case and all the other stuff he left at Kise's place. And all of those mementos don't even matter because they could and should be together right now if not for Midorima's stupidity. There's a reason this dream has been haunting him, why these feeling have been haunting him. Maybe love isn't such a bad thing. Maybe it won't hurt him. In trying to avoid all the pain he's heard so much about, he's ended up fucking himself over a thousand times worse.
Takao takes a cigarette break at work even though he doesn't smoke and goes outside with his cell phone and calls Momoi, because if there's anyone who can untangle this mess it's her. He quickly tells her about his lack of progress (more accurately, the opposite of progress) and he hears her sigh on the other end.
"Oh, Kazunari-kun…" He can just see her twisting a lock of hair around a finger. "I've been trying with Ki-chan, too, but I can't get anything out of him." At least she's not blaming him for messing up.
"Look, I have to get back to work," he says. "But let's meet up some time and figure something out."
So there's this new café in Shibuya and Takao wants to go but for some reason he just can't take Midorima and they have to meet there. Midorima wonders why he's doing this and what kind of stupid shenanigans Takao is trying to pull this time (this better not be a maid café, although he looked up the website and it seemed to be a normal coffee-and-sandwich type place) but really, it's good to get out of the house on a Sunday morning. Besides, there's nothing else he would be doing, maybe dicking around on the internet or looking on forums for a used piano he could buy. He would have driven Takao, but he said it was absolutely imperative that they go alone and he had to return a library book, anyway (but wasn't the library closed on Sundays?) so he'd meet Midorima there.
Whatever the reason, it's okay because Midorima has always preferred driving alone. He can't stand being distracted because he's always worried that he'll turn his head at the wrong moment and some drunk or some random lunatic (or some drunk random lunatic) will come crashing into him. Midorima hates not having complete control of the situation, and in order to have as much control as possible he has to minimize distractions. Of course, being alone with his own thoughts is pretty dangerous, too, so he switches on the radio, humming along to the shitty smooth jazz his parents love and he's used to thinking of as "car music". Besides, not too many people are out on a rainy Sunday morning.
There's a parking space about a block away from the café (although Midorima is early and could totally afford to take a longer walk, he doesn't want to ruin his clothes in the rain). He backs in, straightens out the car (he's always been good at parallel parking) and sits for a minute before turning off the engine. The sudden silence is jarring. What is he doing?
He had that dream again last night, and now, sitting here on another rainy Sunday morning it's like something more than déjà vu. It's like he woke up but he was really still dreaming, forced to relive it out again, to be alone in the silent car with his head bowed, almost touching the wheel. Maybe it's in reverse this time; maybe his mind has thrown him a curveball. But what good will it do to be able to do it all over again just to know that it will end? But didn't he know it would end the first time? Wasn't he the one who ended things?
This sucks. It's as if now he's admitted his feelings he can't force himself to stop thinking about them anymore. He either has to be fully in denial or completely accepting, and this makes everything even more frustrating.
Midorima sighs and glances at his watch. It's almost the time Takao said to meet him at. He opens the car door and steps out.
There's a guy walking under an umbrella who turns at the noise of Midorima slamming the car door, tilting up the black umbrella so he can get a better look (which inadvertently means Midorima can see his face). There's no mistaking those yellow eyes, those cheekbones. Kise flushes immediately and lowers the umbrella, but he continues to walk slowly.
Midorima walks around the front of the car, making sure to remotely lock it twice as he quickly walks toward Kise. He barely registers the sound of the horn in confirmation because he's getting closer and he can almost trace the outline of Kise's shoulder blade in front of him, remembers every inch, the way his fingers felt on it. And he's caught up with Kise easily, longer legs making faster strides, and Kise stops. Midorima ducks under the umbrella, wincing and scowling as his hair catches in the spokes and tugs on his scalp.
"I'm sorry," he says, and Kise still looks annoyed and angry because apologies are not enough and even if Kise's in love with him Midorima knows he shouldn't take him back so easily.
They end up walking back to Midorima's car, sitting inside as the drizzle makes a steady pattern surrounding them. They talk quietly, leaning in sometimes because they sometimes can't hear the other's words, because they are formed and released with difficulty. "Can't" and "won't" and "isn't" and "doesn't" and "you" and "me" and "shouldn't" eventually give way to "us" and "we" and "again" and "will" and "yes". And they've reached a point where they are both ready and willing to begin to put the pieces back together and form a different, better picture this time around.