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All My Heart I Will Lay Down Precisely at Your Feet

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June 30, 2018

Shoma refreshed the page on his phone screen relentlessly. Still the message remained the same.

Daisuke was coming back.

Shoma stood up, and felt very sick, very dizzy. Sweat prickled between his shoulder blades. He paced the living room of the apartment he and Itsuki shared, one thin wall to the next, and it was too much, too small. He threw open the sliding balcony door and gasped into the warm, thick air of Nagoya.

He couldn’t think. He couldn’t think.

He shook as he pulled up the contact on his phone and dialed through.

“Hello?”

That cheerful, familiar, warm voice -- bright like a sunflower -- made Shoma woozy, He sat down on one of the balcony chairs, hard.

“Shoma?” Daisuke asked on the other end.

“Is it true?” Shoma managed.

“You’ll have to be more specific.”

“Are you coming back? To competition?”

A pause.

“Ah. I was going to call you, but I see you got word already.”

“Is it true?!” Shoma heard how shrill his voice was, and he heard Mihoko telling him to take a few deep breaths, so he did.

“Yes, Shoma, it’s true,” Daisuke said. “I’m coming back to competitive skating.”

Then he laughed, nervously, and that was enough for Shoma. He crumpled, like he had at the end of his full skate at Nationals in 2016, and began to sob.

“Shoma?” Daisuke sounded alarmed. “Shoma?”

From behind him Itsuki came onto the balcony.

“Shoma?” he asked, also alarmed. He put his arms around his brother.

“Is it Javi or Yuzu?” Itsuki asked.

Shoma shook his head.

“Daisuke is coming back to competitive skating,” he hiccuped.

“Shoma?” Daisuke said from the phone.

Itsuki held his brother tight and squeezed him.

“Shoma?” Daisuke said.

“I’m listening,” Shoma mumbled.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. If I had known --”

“No, you idiot,” Shoma said, and the tears were coming again. “I am crying because I am so happy.

Shoma wiped his eyes and tried to gather himself.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so touched,” Daisuke said, and he sounded hoarse. “You are crying from happiness because . .  . I’m not even half the skater you are.”

Shoma started to cry again.

“I want to be on the podium with you,” he said, through tears.

“Me?” Daisuke sounded dazed. “But you’ve been on the podium with Yuzuru. And Javier. Surely --”

“Only you matters,” Shoma said, and there was a fierce ache in his chest, a want, a need.

“Don’t tell Yuzuru that,” Daisuke joked.

But Shoma wouldn’t have it. He kept crying while Itsuki rubbed his back and Daisuke waited on the other end.

Finally, Shoma sniffled and scrubbed his eyes with his t-shirt front, as if he could rub the whole incident -- embarrassing, worse than childish -- from his face.

“Are you okay?” Daisuke asked over the phone.

“Yeah.”

There was a pause.

“Shoma, maybe I haven’t said this, but we are friends now, aren’t we?”

“Yeah.”

“I love watching you skate. I love seeing how you were a lot like me and you have started to become . . .  something else. You are grace, and beauty. Seeing you skate fills me with joy.”

Shoma tilted in his chair because he wanted bend over and cry again.

“Shoma?” Daisuke asked. “Have I broken you?”

“No. You want to watch me?”

“Of course. And I want to compete against you.”

The tears, stupid tears, welled again.

“I love you,” Shoma blurted because that was the only emotion which seemed to be appropriate. Itsuki gave him a look but Shoma didn’t care.

Silence.

Then: “I love you, too, my dear Shoma.”

They remained on the line, quiet for a while.

“I have to go, but we can talk later. Maybe I could take the train up and visit you? We could practice together and have yakiniku!”

Shoma felt something bright and yellow as sunflowers, as Daisuke.

“That would be great,” Shoma said.

“Okay. Let’s talk later,” Daisuke said.

“Okay.”

“Bye,” Daisuke said.

“Bye,” Shoma said.

Daisuke hung up. Shoma cradled his phone for a while, He had a headache, and he wanted to curl on the patio floor because the whole thing had been so mortifying and stupid.

“You said you loved him,” Itsuki teased.

“I know, shut up.”

“You loooooove him.”

“Shut up. No seriously, shut up!”

Itsuki cackled. Then his face softened as he looked at Shoma.

“Will you be okay?”

“I’m fine, ” Shoma said irritably.

Itsuki stood and held up his hands.

“Is it okay for me to leave you alone?” he asked.

“Go away, you suck.”

“I love you too,” Itsuki flounced off, probably to do homework.

Shoma sat on the patio for a while, letting the hot air breathe on him, letting the cloudy sun suffuse his skin. Holding his phone to his chest and like a drumbeat, a heartbeat, he knew: Daisuke was coming back, Daisuke was coming back, Daisuke was coming back.

He smiled.