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Reassurance

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You love him. If you were honest with yourself, maybe entirely too much. But you can’t quite stop. It’s not in you to do so. You don’t even know how you managed to be so lucky in the first place, why he said yes, why he was willing.

But he is, and now you’re both here, underneath the harsh glare of fluorescent lighting as he mumbles under his breath about price points and compares two stalks of broccoli, judging them with a critical eye. Later, you’ll both go home and make dinner together, just the two of you.

You couldn’t possibly think of anything better than this quiet, ordinary, domestic routine that’s now a constant part of your life. Your heart pangs a bit and you try to resist the urge to clutch at your shirt in the crazy, blissful agony called love.

“Karamatsu! Earth to Karamatsu!”

“Yes, my lov--” you start, but he glares at you and you smile uneasily at him, hastily correcting your mistake, “--brother?”

“Did you want butadon or soba for dinner tonight?”

“W-whatever your heart desires.”

“Well, if my heart desired sashimi and king crab legs, what would you say?”

Even you had to wince at that. Neither one of you made that much money to afford such a pricy meal on a whim, but you quickly hide it under a guise of nonchalance. “I-if that’s what you want, then…”

He makes a show of slowly putting them in the basket, looking for a reaction.But you don’t say anything, and he gives up the ruse, sighing as he puts it all back and heads off to buy soy sauce instead. If you were completely honest with yourself, you were a little disappointed.

Then again, he was always the more sensible one.

--

It took you only three days to find a job after Todomatsu confessed his feelings to you, three months for you both to pool together enough money to leave the house and live in an apartment on the other side of Tokyo together. You might have been crazy, but you didn’t care. How could you? You were madly in love. And you still are, even now.

It’s only a fifteen-minute walk from the store to your apartment and the streets are mostly empty, even though it’s barely past six. You’re carrying most of the groceries, which allows Todomatsu to have one hand free to type on his phone, basically ignoring you as he typically does outside of the house.

But today, he has his phone tucked into his pocket and he’s walking much closer to you than usual. You’d enjoy it, if you didn’t already know that this meant he wanted to talk about something serious.

He takes a deep breath before starting. You tell yourself not to look away, no matter how much you wanted to. You sort of know what he’s about to say.

“I know that not being with our family means we can be a little less cautious, but please, you can’t...you can’t be so careless.”

You don’t know what to say to that. You never did know what to say that would not sound like some excuse.

“What if we run into our high school classmates? Or one of Mom’s friends? Or Iyami? Or a neighbor…”

“We live as far as we could…”

“It’s still the same town, with the same people in it.”

“Town? This is Tokyo, Totty, there’s more than thirteen point…”

“Yes, thank you, Mr. Population Census.” Todomatsu sighs.

You’d argue, but you know Todomatsu prizes his reputation above all, and it’s a highly touchy subject for him to begin with. You muster up a smile and give him the space he wants. He smiles back, and you know he’s grateful that you don’t question him. Nevertheless, your heart pangs again, for a different reason entirely.

You might not make it with him. It’s a possibility you can’t quite avoid, no matter how hard you try. There’s countless of couples out there with far less complicated relationships that don’t make it.

It’s not something you make a habit out of thinking about, but it pops up every now and again. That when push comes to shove, he might just decide that it’s not worth it to keep this up. You have an inkling of what you’d do if he ever decides to leave, and none of them are very selfless, you had to admit.

You get home, and he lugs the groceries over to the kitchen table. You follow him, but he waves you off.

“Make yourself useful and get the bath up and running.” You turn to go, but he catches your arm and reels you in for a kiss on the cheek. Normally you’d love small gestures like that, but they feel like prizes you won because you behaved yourself, not spontaneous inclinations. Still, you smile back and head into the bathroom. After a quick wipe of the tub, you start adding water and rummage around the bathroom cupboard for Todomatsu’s favorite bath salts. Satisfied with your choice, you begin to strip, throwing your clothes into the laundry hamper. A quick shower, and you finally sink into the tub, sighing deeply as you enter and enjoy the water.

Todomatsu finally comes in, fresh from the shower, and sits on the stool next to the tub, dipping a hand into the water lazily.

“Rice is about done. We’ll be able to eat in 10 minutes after we finish up in here.”

You still have your eyes closed. “Mmm, thanks Totty.”

His slim fingers alight onto your chest, then traces down, submerged into the water before pressing a hand to your stomach.

You’ve always been rather ticklish. You try to fight it, but it’s futile as you burst into laughter, kicking up water. He glares, shielding himself from the splashes.

“Karamatsu!”

He rarely calls you ‘nii-san’ besides in front of your family, and you’re caught in between missing it and reveling in the familiarity. You tug lightly on his arm, inviting him to join you in the tub. He goes without complaint, but the puff of his cheeks means he hasn’t completely forgiven you. Still, you arrange him so he’s sitting with his back towards you and you lace both your hands with his, letting him lay on your chest as you hold him in your arms.

He seems to have lost most of his ire by now and relaxes against you, tucking his head underneath your chin. Only here, only now is he the most affectionate with you. He’s yours, he’s yours, he’s yours, and reminding yourself of that makes you want to cling onto him even further. You’re scared. You’re scared stupid that he’ll leave you. You have no problem imagining him being fine on his own. You couldn’t say the same for yourself.

You loved him so much that even you were starting to find it painful.

A series of loud, rapid fire bangs on your front door jolts both of you. Todomatsu sinks further into the water, annoyed.

“Don’t tell me it’s him.”

“Who else would keep ignoring the fact that we have a doorbell?” You try to joke. Todomatsu doesn’t rise up to the bait, too irritated as it is.

“Do we have to let him in?”

“Remember the time when he got locked out at home and climbed in through the second story bathroom window?” You remind him. He freezes before relenting, getting up and snatching a towel, drying himself off. “We’re coming, we’re coming!” he yells, and you scramble to get up as well, shivering a bit at the change in temperature.

You take your time since Todomatsu is already dressed and padding towards the front door, and you hear snatches of greetings exchanged as you finally pull on your hoodie and sweatpants. “Osomatsu-niisan,” you say, and he gives you a wave in return.

“Hey you, you guys sure took your damn time opening the door, huh?”

“Well, we…” you start, before catching Todomatsu’s glare, and you shut up before you implicate the both of you.

“Oh man, you guys are gonna have butadon? Awesome, I’m starving,” Osomatsu enthused, sliding past Todomatsu and meandering towards the fridge. “You guys got any beer?”

“Bottom shelf,” Todomatsu chirps, though it’s obvious he’s not happy about sharing.Especially for such an impromptu guest.

“Why’d you two hafta live so far away? You know it takes forty-five minutes to get here? Forty-five! You’re killing your big brother here.”

Todomatsu’s face twists into a scowl before smoothing out into a neutral smile. Osomatsu still hasn’t found a job yet, which makes it seem admittedly a bit unfair that he’s blaming us for such a small thing.

“Our jobs are within walking distance here, nii-san. It was much more convenient to live in this area.” Todomatsu says, though not without a sharp edge to his voice. Osomatsu nii-san either doesn’t notice, or more likely, doesn’t care, as he pulls our last can of beer out and cracks it open.

“Why are you two wet anyways? What, do you two take baths in the bath tub at the same time like when we were kids?”

“I took one first,” Todomatsu quickly says before throwing the towel onto our sofa, then turning on the stove to start dinner proper. “Take a seat, Osomatsu nii-san. I’ll be done soon.”

“Heh, hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Osomatsu sighs after a swig of beer. You fake a smile.

“No, of course not.”

--

Osomatsu nii-san is passed out, legs still tucked in the kotatsu. Totty drums his fingers on the table before getting up, and pulls out his coat from his closet.

“Where’re you going?”

“Roof,” he clips.

Todomatsu never really smokes, but he snatches a carton on his way out, and you know it means he’s barely putting a cap on his rage. You shrug on your coat as well as you remember to take a lighter.

It’s cold when you finally make it up to the top floor and head to the rails. You hand over your lighter as soon as he opens his palm and he lights up, taking in a deep breath before blowing out a trail of smoke that’s chased off by the wind.

“I was hoping he’d leave after dinner, or more realistically, after drinks. Should’ve known he would’ve wanted to sleep over.”

“You think he got into a fight with mom and dad again?”

Todomatsu shrugs, and he offers his cigarette to you. You shake your head. “Most likely. He’s the last of us to get a job.”

To be honest, you would have been perfectly fine with living at home like Osomatsu nii-san if it wasn’t for Todomatsu. You kind of miss those days, if you were honest.

It’s futile to defend Osomatsu nii-san, so you let him rant about it. But to you, you were so happy with the way things turned out-- the fact that you were able to be by his side, and weren’t ostracized by the rest of the family. That Osomatsu nii-san and the rest regularly drop by, even with the distance. But knowing Todomatsu, he’d find it embarrassing to hear you say all of that, so you keep in inside you, but you quickly find your chest tightening up and pinpricks of tears in your eyes as you try to contain your emotions.

“Karamatsu, you’re doing it again.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” you say, trying to discreetly wipe your eyes, but Todomatsu beats you to it, using his thumb to catch the tears, before gently running his knuckles down your face.

“You’re bad at lying, Karamatsu. Either get good at it, or don’t do it all,” he teases, and you chuckle lowly. His hand lingers next to your face, though, and you don’t know what this means, especially after the talk just a few hours ago.

“Kiss me,” he says , and you swoop in, maybe a little too quickly, too eagerly. He takes it all in stride, opening his mouth to let you in, the taste of smoke and ash waiting for you.

You break away from him eventually, but he has a hand on yours, a wry smile on his face. “I really, really want to fuck.”

You think it over. “We could always go for a motel…”

“If Osomatsu nii-san wasn’t around, we wouldn’t have to,” he sighs before leaning against you, taking another deep drag of his cigarette. “I just wanted a place where I can be with you. A place just for us.”

You had to take pause at that. To be honest, the two of you moved out a bit too early, and even now you were just barely making it. Todomatsu even gave up his precious unlimited data plan, and hasn’t upgraded his phone in three years. Lots of little pleasures the two of you took for granted weren’t viable anymore, and the cigarette in his hand technically was one of them.

He wouldn’t do this just for anyone, and you take solace in that, as you wrap an arm around him to shield him from the wind, waiting patiently for his ire to die down and for him to finish smoking.

“We’ll kick him out first thing in the morning, I promise.”

Todomatsu looks up. “He’s terrible at waking up on his own accord.”

“So I’ll just drag him out of the house,” you shrug. Todomatsu laughs, snuggling up to you.

 

“Wake me up too, I want to record it for instagram.”

You land a kiss into his hair. “Of course.”