Shoma heard Yuzu, chattering on to himself, before he even opened the door to Shoma’s hotel room.
Shoma sighed, exhausted inside and out, and he didn’t know if he had it in him to cope with Yuzu’s vivacity.
“You know how he is,” Javi whispered.
He lay across from Shoma, cupping his face.
“It’s not about him right now. It’s about you,” Javi said as Yuzu opened the door.
Yuzu had at least removed his silver medal and held it behind his back.
“Oh,” Yuzu said. “Javi. You’re here.”
“Of course I’m here you noodle,” Javi peered at Yuzu over his shoulder. “I said I would be here.”
Shoma was so tired he felt a flare of jealousy when Yuzu bent down to kiss Javi. But the jealousy wafted away like smoke. There wasn’t room for it, between the three of them, and Shoma was not the jealous type.
“How’s Shoma?” Yuzu asked, carefully placing his medal on the hotel room desk.
The silver burned, acid, and Shoma curled up tighter. Yuzu climbed into bed so he could spoon Shoma from behind. His slender heat buttressed Shoma.
“Miserable,” Javi said, running his fingers through Shoma’s hair.
Shoma closed his eyes and let his lovers crowd him, because even if he didn’t deserve their love, or compassion, it felt good. Every part of him felt battered, like he was thin and translucent as a dried cherry blossom.
Silence. Shoma listened to Javi’s breathing, felt Yuzu’s heartbeat. Shoma never wanted to leave this room, to sulk his shame down to the Gala or banquet.
“Shoma,” Javi said. “Mi amorcito. You will move on.”
Shoma shook off Javi, irritated.
“I’m weak, I --”
“You don’t get to talk about yourself that way,” Yuzu said, the ferocity in his voice making Shoma dizzy.
“I failed,” Shoma felt the heat of tears then. “I failed Higuchi-sensei, I failed Demi-san, I failed my family, I failed Japan, I failed myself, and I failed you both.”
Javi gave him a kleenex and Shoma blew his nose, ashamed to be crying again. Weak.
Shoma felt Yuzu began to knead his shoulders, fingers fine and delicate, but strong, as he worked.
“I called for you during the victory lap. You should’ve been on that podium.”
“Your time will come, Sho,” Javi said. “Patience.”
“Javi and I know you. We know how strong you are. Our katana steel blade. You will come back.”
All these words were nice, and came from a good place, but Shoma would rather drown than listen to more.
“It’s just like Worlds 2016,” he said, wretchedly, because that thought had been in him since he got back to his hotel room, to Javi waiting for him.
“Except none of us is a champion,” Yuzu said. “And there is no sex.”
“I don’t think that’s what he meant,” Javi said.
And it hadn’t been. He had meant: I am like a reed snapped in half, just like then. I am lost. I don’t know what to do.
But he had found them then. Just as they had found him now.
“Can both of you shut up?” Shoma said. “Shut up and just hold me.”
Yuzu and Javi pressed closer. Their warmth, their breath, their solidness, made Shoma more alert of his own hot body, his stinging hip, his aching ankle. But most of all it made him feel lustrous and dark, like a black pearl safely snapped shut in its protective oyester shell. Precious and loved.
Tomorrow, as the saying went, was a new day, and Shoma would deal with it then. For now he slumbered between his two lovers, and dreamed of light shining on gold.