Gou is well aware he doesn’t deserve Chase.
But he’s drunk, stupid, and over the moon about the fact Chase is finally alive so he kisses him anyways. His hands twist themselves tight in Chase’s hair to keep the Roidmude close but when Gou can sense the shock freezing Chase’s already firm features, the abrupt mental image of how Chase must look causes him to break his own hold by laughing, loud and unabashed. He nearly knocks his chin off Chase’s when he throws his head back, but his glee puts him off balance so he just misses the Roidmude instead.
Chase recovers quickly and catches Gou before he falls too far back and when Gou opens his eyes again, Chase is staring at him with concern, shock, and confusion painted clear on his face.
Gou just grins.
He moves his hands to cup the other’s face, they’d fallen to Chase’s shoulders, and slurs, “You’re home,” before letting out another short giggle and promptly passing out in Chase’s arms.
When Gou wakes, he’s in his apartment. His clothes have been changed and there’s water beside his bed along with two pills. There’s six texts messages waiting for him when he finally manages to locate his phone but the only one he reads is Chase’s. It’s straight to the point, as always, with Chase informing him of the fact that he was the one who brought him home after Gou became “extremely inebriated” (Gou could only wonder what it would be like to hear the words, “Fucking wasted.” come out of Chase’s mouth) and put him to bed. Gou can imagine the adventure he must have been, trying to move him from the room they’d rented for Chase’s homecoming (Chase had originally refused, but after a week or so of pleading from Gou, which had been proceeded by a week of double checking and making sure Chase was, well, Chase, all it took was one, “Please,” from Kiriko and they had him) to Gou’s apartment across town.
He continues to scroll down and can’t help the goofy grin, that he attempts hides in his fist, from growing on his face when he reads the rest of Chase’s message:
I looked into it and it seems water and medication are best after drinking. Be sure to take both as well as some food later. I will check on you soon.
Gou knows Chase could do better than someone who spent almost all of their original time together trying to kill him. Gou knows Chase deserves better than that. But he’s hungover and pretty sure it’s his old allergy medication that Chase has left for him, so he figures he’s at least allowed to hold out a little hope.
He decides to visit Reiko later that day.
His hangover has subsided enough that he doesn’t want to bury himself and Chase has already turned down his offer to meet for ramen. I am visiting Kiriko and Shinnosuke. There is a lot we need to discuss.
(Gou had pretended the pang in his chest after reading that was from the alcohol and refused to text Chase back, not even to remind him that it had been Gou who had revived him. He decided to show how much he had matured instead.)
Reiko and his relationship has always been strange and Gou wonders whether he should still be visiting her every time he swings his leg over his bike, but he always ends up outside her place regardless. (He’s sure she has the same reservations but she still opens her door.)
They didn’t make it long together. As two broken people trying to slam their jagged pieces into each other’s equally fragmented body, it’s no surprise. In the end, they were truly just two self-proclaimed monsters desperate to prove to themselves they could still love. That they could be loved.
Gou is still surprised they had even made it at all.
“You didn’t kiss back.”
It’s hadn’t been an accusation. In fact, she had hardly sounded angry. Gou found himself blinking owlishly at her for it. Though she had pulled away from their first (and only) kiss, her hands were still on him. Firm. Shaking.
She met and held his gaze, but Gou hadn’t known what to say, or do, so he had laughed. When she refused to follow suit, Gou noticed his hands were shaking too.
“I’m sorry, I musta been distracted—“
“Gou.” Gou doesn't know how he managed to meet her eyes. “Do you really want to be with me?”
It shouldn’t have taken him so long to reply. But it also shouldn’t have been Chase whom Gou had been thinking of when Reiko pressed her lips to his.
They didn’t separate. But she never kissed him again.
When he reaches her door this time she almost seems to be waiting for him. They sit with tea, that they never drink, and a oddly comfortable silence resting between them. Gou knows she is still waiting for him to speak.
“Well?” she asks. Gou realizes he isn’t sure what he came to tell her.
“Chase is back.” is what he finally decides on and once again he can't help the grin that takes over his face. Ever since Chase’s return he couldn’t help his giddiness and he’s sure he’s going to pay for it soon. But for now, he allows the joy to wash over him and fill every crevice that had ever cracked open within him. His hands reach forward and circle the cup, always pretending the tea hasn’t heated the ceramic to a painful temperature, and he breathes out what’s almost a sigh of relief. “He’s finally back.”
Reiko observes him for several seconds, giving a low hum. When she’s satisfied with whatever it is she’s looking for, she congratulates and mirrors him, reaching forward to wrap her fingers around her own cup of tea. She takes a small breath before speaking.
“I have a girlfriend now. Her name is Yumi. We met at the cafe down the street.”
“Congratulations!” Gou cheers and he means it genuinely. “I hope you two will be happy together.”
Reiko hides a shy smile by ducking her head and Gou remembers how pretty she is. “We haven’t been together long, and I haven’t told her about my father yet but… I think, I think we could work.”
“You will,” Gou promises, even if it’s not his promise to make. It’s worth it when Reiko looks up again and smiles a little bigger, just for him.
“Good luck, Gou.” She says. Her hand twitches like it means to reach out to him, but she holds it firm. She doesn’t clarify what she’s cheering him on for, but Gou knows, even if he doesn’t reply. He returns to staring into his tea, but he’s smiling. They still don’t drink it, but it eventually cools to a point where it isn’t burning their fingers anymore and they promise to meet again.
Gou needed to hear all the details of her new relationship after all.
He's on his way home when Gou receives a message from Kiriko asking him to come over. It’s a rare request that Gou is always happy to answer. After everything, she's still his most important person.
They had had an odd separation after Chase’s death. Kiriko had moved on while Gou stubbornly refused. She had also been one of the most adamant that Gou not push himself too hard in regards to Chase’s revival. Gou, of course, had always been extremely offended by this. Chase died protecting what Kiriko loved, protecting him, yet she seemed so ready to leave him in the past. (“He wouldn’t have wanted us to suffer, Gou.” “He wasn’t the one who got left behind!”)
It’s still hard sometimes. Kiriko doesn’t need him anymore and it hurt. It's another reason why Gou buried himself so deeply in the research to bring Chase back, so he could feel like he was still necessary. Part of him knows it's ridiculous, that his sister still loves him, but he spent far too much of his life dedicating it to her to let go so easily.
But they were getting better.
He arrives at her home with a bright grin and in almost record time. He’s excited as it’s still early so he’s sure Eiji will be awake. Gou adores his nephew. Especially since he's this close to saying Gou and Gou needs to see Shinnosuke’s face when the first words to come out of his son’s mouth is his brother-in-law's name.
(Gou had original planned on having Eiji learn Mach but felt this was much easier.)
He’s at the base of the steps when his sister emerges and he lifts his head to smile and greet her but she beats him to it.
“Gou…“ Kiriko begins, her tone concerned, and Gou feels something in his stomach drop, “Chase told me—“ but before she can finish Gou has already turned tail and run. He’s not entirely sure what’s going to follow that statement, but he’s sure enough that he refuses to listen. It’s not what he’s expecting and it’s not what he’s ready to deal with. She cries out after him, pleading, but he knows she won’t follow him. Shinnosuke doesn’t seem to be home, his parking space empty, and she won’t leave Eiji alone. She won’t leave her new family alone.
(Any logical thought that explained this away, such as: “Eiji is just a baby! Of course she can’t leave him alone!” is drowned out by the sound of the Gou’s pounding heart, the whistling wind, and the car horns that bellow at him as he races across the street.)
Gou loves Shinnosuke. He loves Eiji. He loves his family, but he also remembers his sister’s words from before telling him that he needed to find his own. Did that mean they weren’t his family anymore? Gou ends up laughing, high pitched and desperate, into the cold night air, “‘Find my own family’? Just what do you think I’m trying to do?!”
Part of him wonders if she had meant to reassure or encourage him with her words but Gou’s heart had only taken them as abandonment.
(Reiko’s face and the feeling of having another’s hands in his flashes through his memory and Gou realizes that maybe he had needed Reiko a lot more than she had ever needed him.)
“Just where do I fit in?!” He cries into the disinterested city streets whose only response is a broken and flickering street light. His breath is coming up short and Gou knows it’s not from exertion.
He knows a lot of things he doesn’t care to admit.
(A neon sign flickers to life, beckoning him in to what he knows could only be a bar filled with cheap alcohol and bad decisions.) (He goes anyways.)
Gou is not particularly aware of his surroundings when Chase shows up. In fact, it takes him four whole blinks until the fog around his eyes clears up enough that he can make out more than just purple. He’s still extremely pleased with Chase’s arrival and grins up at the frowning roidmude, who seems to be noticeably swaying.
“You are drunk again.”
Or is that Gou swaying?
“Are you okay, Gou?” Chase asks and his eyebrows furrow a bit, like they do when he’s concerned or puzzled. He looks cute when he does it. Chase looks cute when he does a lot of things.
“I’m allll-right, Chase, how ‘bout you? What are you doin’ here?”
Chase somehow manages to look even more concerned as he allows himself to be pulled closer by Gou, who had reached forward to bring their hands together. He swings them a bit, humming, as Chase explains himself, “You called me here.”
The swinging stops as Gou looks up at Chase, completely baffled.
Chase continues to frown, but he doesn’t pull away from Gou’s grip, nodding in affirmation, “You did.”
Gou doesn’t remember this at all. But he’s also not about to worry about it. Not when the alcohol has warmed his heart (or was that his stomach?) and Chase’s hands are firmly in his. There’s a moment of silence which stretches for an indiscernible amount of time. At least, it does for Gou. Alcohol has a way of skewing so many things.
“You told Neechan.” Gou says suddenly. Or at least he think it’s suddenly. He’s pretty sure he meant to say he didn’t have his bike (left at his sister’s in his panic, not that he could drive it) which is why he called Chase out. But that would have been a lie, or, half a lie, so he went for the truth instead. Which he blames on the alcohol entirely.
“Yes.” Chase confirms. Blunt as ever, with no sign of remorse or embarrassment. Gou scowls a bit at their joined hands, though Chase would say it is much more of a pout.
“Why?” Gou whines, tugging roughly on Chase’s hands. They’re soft and Gou tries to file this small fact away, to remind himself to ask the other how the hell he even managed that. Did Roidmudes use lotion? Did they even need it?
Chase doesn’t budge but he allows Gou to continue pulling at him as he explains, “I needed... help. Figuring out the situation. Shinnosuke had been helpful before so I—“
Gou lets out a loud huff of annoyance before releasing Chase’s hands to sway on the bench alone. His guard is flying back up and he’s not sure how to stop it. Of course Chase went to them first.
“It was a kiss, wha’s there to figure out?”
Gou begins to sense the familiar feeling of defensive anger and fear bubbling in his stomach as he continues to pull away from Chase. Both literally and emotionally. He can feel his his voice coming out much colder when he speaks and hates how he can’t seem to do anything about it. Rejection, even assumed rejection, is never something he handles well.
“Chase, just… Just forget about it? Okay? I don’t, I don’t want…” words are harder than Gou would like them to be and he can feel something else bubbling in his stomach. The last three shots at the bar were all starting to hit him at once and suddenly all he wants is to be home. “I can call Shin-ni— Shinnosuke and he can come pick me up if, if he can leave Nee—Kiriko long enough to.. to come pick me up and then I can just be home and—“
Gou hiccups and brings his hands to rub his face in a weak attempt at regaining some semblance of focus. He needs to figure out where he put his phone. But his hands come back wet and it’s only then he realizes he’s crying.
And, of course, it’s then that it all comes out and he’s promptly full on sobbing on a grimy bench in the corner of city with who used to be his greatest enemy standing awkwardly before him. Truly the definition of classy. Stupid Chase, it's all his fault. Gou would say that to him but when he opens his mouth to speak he just hiccups and almost vomits so he decides keeping his face buried in his palms was the best course of action.
Chase, however, decides it’s then that he apparently really needs to see Gou’s face and quickly kneels before him, cradling Gou’s hands in his own while also attempting to to pry them from the other’s face.
“Gou?” he asks, his usually monotone voice laced with panic and worry, “Are you alright? Gou!”
“Shuddup.” Gou slurs, weakly struggling against Chase’s grasp, “Leave me alone!”
Gou tries to tell Chase off, to go find Neechan and Shinnosuke, but he only manages to say their names between constant hiccups and wet gasps before he’s forcing himself away from Chase again and curling forward, ducking his head between his knees. He forces himself to take several deep breaths, even if they are marred by small whimpers, and focuses his attention on stopping the tears. As well as the spinning.
He doesn’t notice Chase’s absence until the Roidmude returns, kneeling before him once more, with a much gentler tone, “Gou? Can you stand?”
“No.” Gou replies petulantly. He hears Chase give a low hum before there’s two hands grasping his arms and he’s abruptly being hauled up to a standing position. It turns out Gou isn't lying and he yelps as he pitches forward, straight into Chase’s chest and the thirty damned metal zippers that made their home there.
“I will drive you home.” Chase informs him and Gou attempts to growl and struggle away.
“I don’t want you to!” Gou needed to talk to Rinna about how strong she still allowed Chase to be this isn’t fair.
“I want too.” Chase insists, snapping Gou’s attention back to him. Chase’s grip is tight on his arms and Gou can feel the other’s breath on his face and suddenly he can’t find it in himself to say no.
Gou doesn’t remember much after that. He remembers the bite of the metal from clutching Chase’s damned leather coat as they rode through the city. He remembers the stumble he takes before he vomits up the entirety of his stomach right outside his apartment building and the distressed gasps as he desperately tries to keep the tears from coming back out. He remembers his hallway, the kick he aims at Chase when he tries to change him out of his jeans, and how he drops his phone off the side of his dresser. Nothing else is clear until he wakes up, most likely still drunk, half dressed and facing what seems to be a sleeping Chase.
Gou observes him for a few seconds and then asks, voice raspy and high, “Do Roidmudes even need sleep?"
There’s a pause before Chase opens his eyes and answers, “No.”
Gou scoffs, “Weirdo,” but Chase can hear the newfound fondness in Gou’s voice when addressing him is back and doesn’t take it to heart, especially when Gou follows it up by tossing his leg over Chase and pressing closer to him.
“Tell anyone about this and I’ll kill you.” Gou promises, but his voice is groggy from sleep and almost too small to take seriously. Chase loops his arms loosely around the other’s shoulder and Gou adamantly ignores the way his heart speeds up.
“No, you won’t.” Chase replies. Assured. Almost annoying so, Gou thinks, especially when he knows he’s not wrong.
“Yeah, well,” Gou huffs, continuing to work himself into a comfortable position tucked into the roidmude’s chest, “I’ll be really mad for sure.”
Gou doesn't return to sleep. He lies there instead, eyes wide and filled with purple, matching his breath to Chase's, wondering how he managed to get so lucky.
Gou knows he doesn’t deserve Chase. But, later that morning, Chase kisses him anyways.
Maybe he could be enough after all.