Early September 2019
Shoma curls against Javi, relishing the sandalwood smell of him and his solid firmness. He makes Shoma think of trees and how he would clamber through the forest as a child and hug the trees tight, inhaling their scent, feeling how strong they were.
Javi's hands are gentle against Shoma's stomach, in his wavy hair, as they cuddle on Javi's couch.
And Shoma gets to have Javi all for his own. He is not jealous like Yuzu, though he does enjoy private time with his lovers. It is nice not to have Yuzu here simply so he can be with Javi. Shoma is so content that he settles right into it and ends up asking Javi a shop talk question.
They have an agreement, the three of them, that they will not talk "shop": competitions, winnings, losings. But Shoma is so languid he asks anyways.
"What is the medal you're most proud of?"
He expects one of his World medals, the last European Championship he won, maybe even that contested Olympic Bronze.
Javi sighs and rolls Shoma off him. He goes to his bedroom, where Shoma can hear the rasp of dresser drawers. Javi returns and tosses Shoma a slight gold medallion on a striped ribbon. He sits on the couch.
"Your first -- European -- uhm?" Shoma fumbles for the word.
"Championship," Javi says
Shoma gawped at the medal.
"I spent some years feeling like nothing. Like I couldn't accomplish certain things. This proved me wrong."
There is silence as Shoma holds that little medal in his hands. It feels heavy, like the weight of doubt.
"Don't ever be convinced you can't do certain things, Shoma," Javi says.
He closes Shoma's hand over the medal. Shoma feels a bloom of shock.
"Just keep it safe for me, mi amorcito, and pull it out when you need courage."
Javi kisses the top of his head and now that medal burns. He imagines his Four Continents medal and thinks: yes, it's just a first.