bon_san: (Default)

Jun let out a deep sigh as he made his way over to his desk. He’d hoped to get an assignment where he could really bring out the more extravagant ideas he had, like a jewelry or makeup company. Instead he’d gotten a bakery, somewhat small compared to other major chains, but rapidly growing in popularity nonetheless.

The pitch he’d been given was a set of regional desserts for the few shops scattered throughout the country. They wanted to start with the Yamanashi branch and see where it went from there.

The business owner wasn’t scheduled to come in for another day or so, but Jun decides to start planning out a rough promotional flyer, idly sketching a rounded peach and trying to decide what sort of font would be most appealing.

The time passes by rather slowly, and when his shift for the day finally ends, he feels as though he’s seconds away from going stir crazy.

He huffs and makes his way out of the company building, grumbling slightly. His gaze falls on the bakery across the street from his work, coincidentally the one he was going to be working with soon.

He decides to stop by and walks in.

‘Might as well see what kind of stuff they have.’

The interior is rather plain, Jun notes with some dismay. It’s all white, not really minimalism, but rather like the owner just hadn’t decided on a color scheme and left everything as it was.

There were a few small tables and chairs set up on either side of the shop, leaving the middle clear so customers to walk up to the counter, where a large glass display case was situated. Behind the counter was a small figure, a man, with his back turned to the door. He seems to be focused on something in front of him, and Jun stands by the door, unsure of how to approach.

“Uh-” he starts hesitantly before stopping. The man hears however and turns around, blinking.

Jun is immediately taken aback by how cute he is.

‘I was expecting some grandpa…’

The man, seated on the side of the counter, stands. He’s quite a bit shorter than Jun, and is dressed in a light blue polo, and a plain navy apron. His hair was styled into some sort of spiked up-do that looked incredibly soft, and he had a small, tanned face with impossibly round cheeks (with random smudges of flour on them) that made Jun want to reach out and pat.

He was really cute.

“H-hi,” Jun stammers awkwardly.

‘Kazu’s going to have a field day with this,’ he lamented.

The man looks at Jun, impassive.

“Hi,” his voice is soft, almost drowsy. He rather looked like he wanted to take a nap right there, as well.

Jun just stares, a small smile on his face.

“I’m Ohno Satoshi.”

Jun blinks at the sudden introduction.

“Oh-Matsumoto Jun,” he bows formally before straightening and making his way into the bakery  to look at the display case.

The man, Satoshi, simply continues to stare at Jun, face giving absolutely nothing away. Then he gestures to the case, where upon closer inspection, an assortment of delicious pastries were spread out.

“The apple tart is good,” he says simply.

“Is that your favorite one?” Jun can’t help but ask.

The small man nods, expression unchanging. Jun falters a bit, unsure of how to react.

Satoshi takes out a tart and serves it onto a small plate. He pushes the plate towards Jun, still silent and watching.

Jun takes the plate, equally silent. He feels nervous, yet somehow the silence isn’t all that uncomfortable.

But he’s not sure if he could keep his cool long enough to not blurt out his obvious attraction to the man.

So he takes a huge bite of the tart, stopping up his mouth to prevent himself from saying anything idiotic.

He immediately lets out a delighted noise; the tartness of the apple, paired with the flaky, buttery pastry and thin layer of sweet jam all filling his mouth with harmonic balance.

Satoshi’s face lights up (the first semblance of an expression on his face throughout the entire exchange), and he gazes at Jun expectedly.

“This is amazing! You made all these?” he gestures excitedly to the display case

Satoshi nods slightly.

“Oh, wow! If all your treats are like this, you’re probably getting a huge crowd everyday!” Jun mentally praises himself when Satoshi smiles happily, tanned cheeks puffing up.

“Thank you,” he says softly.

There’s another bout of silence, Jun awkwardly munching on the tart while Satoshi watches, face expressionless once again.

Jun clears his throat and makes an attempt at conversation again.

“Are… you a part timer here?” he asks. Satoshi shakes his head.

“I just help out from time to time.”

“I see…”

Jun must look incredibly flustered because Satoshi throws him a lifeline.

“Will you come again tomorrow?”

“Huh?!”

“Will you come again tomorrow?” As impassive as ever.

Jun nods eagerly.

“Sure! I’ll come visit after work!” he responds eagerly.

He makes to pull out his wallet but is stopped, by a warm, firm grasp on his wrist. He freezes, looking at the man.

“You don’t have to pay.”

Jun begins to protest but is interrupted by Satoshi tugging at his wrist, and leaning across the counter to look closely at him.

“If you come tomorrow, you don’t have to pay,” he says firmly. Jun can only nod, mutely.

Satoshi leans back, clearly satisfied, and releases Jun.

The taller man steps back slightly, hyper aware of the sudden heat spreading across his face.

“W-well, see you tomorrow then, Ohno-san.”

“Mmhmm. Bye, Matsumoto-kun.”

‘Matsumoto-kun?!’

Jun spends the train ride home, stiff as a board, trying to will away the blush he knows is on his face before he gets home to an unforgiving Kazunari.

bon_san: (Default)
 

It was a rather quiet weekend at the apartment, a contrast to the bustling scene outside the building.


Jun was in the kitchen, getting a head start in prepping for dinner, marinating the meat and cutting up some vegetables.


Meanwhile, Kazunari was slumped over on the couch, switching between his game and phone intermittently.


The two had met in high school, and took to each other almost immediately. They were almost always together, separating briefly when they’d decided to attend different universities, though they’d kept up constant contact through calling and messaging.


After graduating, they’d floundered for a bit before finding stable jobs.


Jun had a job as an event planner in a marketing firm, generally helping companies with promotional events, while Kazunari worked as a content editor at a video game company.


While pay was decent, they’d eventually found that it wasn’t enough to live in a comfortable apartment, as hard as they tried.


It was during one of their weekly chats that Jun had realized that they lived in the same area, and that finding a decent 2LDK was very much possible for them, and he set about searching right away.


They now lived together in a sizeable apartment, splitting the rent and bills.


They were much more comfortable with this set up, each getting their own room and being responsible for various household chores- Jun immediately took on cooking once he saw that if left to his own devices Kazunari would be satisfied with living off of instant ramen.


In turn, Kazunari agreed to take on dusting and vacuuming. The rest they settled on trading off every week.


Needless to say, the two were close friends.


“Do you want cheese in your patty?” Jun calls from the kitchen.


When Kazunari answers with a negative, he sets about cleaning up and setting all the prepared ingredients back in the fridge.


“You’ve been on your phone a lot lately,” he remarks, making his way out of the kitchen and into the living room.


“Not really that uncommon, though, is it?” Kazunari responds absentmindedly.


“Not really. But I’ve never seen you messaging this much. You’re on your phone almost as much as you play games nowadays,” Jun continues.


Kazunari tapped at his phone for a moment, looking for something. When he did, he turned and held out the device towards Jun, showing him the screen.


“I’ve been seeing someone lately. That’s him,” he says simply.   


Jun gaped at the photo, grabbing the phone out of Kazunari’s hands to look more closely.


“No,” he says incredulously. Kazunari glares at that.


“What do you mean, ‘no’?!” he grouses, snatching the phone back.


“He looks like a model!” Jun exclaims. “And you-you’re always wearing those tracksuits! And all you do is play games all day! When did you even meet him?”


Kazunari rolls his eyes and turns back to his Switch. Jun flops down on the couch next to him, easily accepting when Kazunari decides to use his lap as a pillow.


“What’s his name?” he asks, running a hand through Kazunari’s unruly locks.


“Aiba Masaki. He’s the owner of one of the newer publishing companies we’re partnered with”.


Kazunari giggles and the glum expression on Jun’s face.


“I can’t believe you got yourself a hot, loaded boyfriend. What do you have that I don’t?” Jun whines.


“I’m cute,” is the response he gets.


“And I’m not?!” Jun huffs and shoves Kazunari’s head off his lap, sending the cackling man sliding to the floor.


Kazunari calms his laughter, pausing his game to look up at Jun.


“We met at work. You’re always meeting rich people at your company, so find a cute one and snag him,” he offers.


Jun lets out a laugh at that.


“Kazu, most of the people who want our services are old men who don’t know how anything about marketing. What makes you think I’d want that?”


Kazunari just shrugs.


“You look like prime sugar baby material.”


Nothing could have prepared him for the force with which Jun pelted a cushion at him.


bon_san: (Default)
Title: i love you, i thank you (for holding me so warmly)
Pairing: Aiba Masaki x Matsumoto Jun
Rating: G
Genre: Romance, Sports/Olympics AU
Length: 5739
Summary: I can live because of this love
Junba as short track and figure skaters
******

Jun let out a small sigh as he stood before the entrance to the rink. He couldn’t help but feel somewhat queasy at the sound burst of anxiety that hit him. He wasn’t sure what it was he was dreading, but it was enough to make him consider turning back and retreating to his room for the night.


He pushed aside the tension and opened the door, to be greeted by music blasting from the speakers, echoing across the whole rink. He was still pretty early, but he didn’t mind, considering he could probably catch some of Masaki’s new program.


Masaki was still in the middle of running through his practice skate, the slight sound of his skates scraping against the ice accompanying the song.


Jun made his way inside, towards the bleachers, all the while keeping an eye on the man.

Masaki's coach waved at him, and Jun paused on his way up the bleachers to wave at her rather childishly.

"Long time no see," she says goodnaturedly in response. "He'll be done in a bit-” she stops short to call out to Masaki, vaguely gesturing for Jun to continue his way up.


“Edges, Masaki! Remember the drills! And the arms, yes, you’re too stiff, loosen them up. You want them to look pretty!"

It took Jun longer than he expected to make it up the stairs to the bleacher seats, but once he did, he had a much better view than from where he usually sat, closer to the bottom. He could see Masaki gliding around the rink cleanly, tracing a long, curving line, forming that into a spin. He was all clean, graceful lines in his black practice clothing, stark and bold against the ice, like ink against parchment.


‘How long has it been since I last saw him skate?’ Jun wondered. ‘A month at least, easily.’

Masaki pulled his arms in,crossed against his chest, and Jun felt his breath catch in his throat in anticipation of what was about to come. Masaki kept his arms tucked in, his spin tightening and quickening. Then, his arms slowly folded out, his wrists light and willowy, like great wings of a phoenix unfurling. His head tipping against his shoulder as he pulled out of the spin, his long, slender neck curving elegantly. Jun could see the flawless curve of his jaw even from his spot in the bleachers.


He couldn’t help but marvel at how effortlessly beautiful the man was.


He didn’t dare to breathe when Masaki wound up to the jump that came after the spin, but he pulls it off so effortlessly, makes it look like a walk in the park. He follows it with another sophisticated sequence of footwork that Jun hadn't seen before, and Masaki finally hits his ending pose in the middle of the ice, arm outstretched, his body tight and head tilted towards the sky, his expression focused.

He takes a controlled breath, and then he drops out of his ending pose, all loose, relaxed limbs and brights smiles. Jun watched him trace a series of lazy curves over to the edge of the rink, his hands on his hips. From where he was sitting, he could glimpse Masaki pulling on his skate guards, bending over the tablet his coach was holding to monitor his practice footage.

Jun raised his hand in a half-wave to see if Masaki would spot him, but Masaki was already headed back towards the locker room. He clumsily fumbled out his phone instead, and tapped out that he was in the bleachers.

He hovered his thumb over his chat with Kazuya, and then opened it. It was already pretty late, so they should be done for tonight at the speed skating rink, by now. That was the way it usually went, anyway—they were probably done cooling down by now, might even be out of the rink already.

Jun 23:55
hey how was practice?

It sat there on the screen for a couple of seconds, and he chewed on his lip. Maybe they weren’t even out of practice yet. Was it weird to ask how practice was? It was probably the same as when he asked yesterday. He sighed again and moved to put his phone back in his pocket, but then it buzzed in his hand.

Kame🐢 00:03
p good, knocked a second off my 1500m time woo
its weird practicing w shun for the relay though
toma can’t get the timing right for the change off haha
get better soon you jerk we need your weird drifting thing with him

Jun 00:07
ha ha

Jun 00:09
tell shun to like
give him a little more space for the change off or something?
idk it usually works

Kame🐢 00:11
nope sorry needs the weird drifting thing for it to work

Kame🐢 00:12
oh yeah pi says hi
even though he could msg you himself to tell you that
lazy

Jun 00:12
haha

Kame🐢 00:15
how are you doing
are things going okay

Jun 00:20
yeah


Jun 00:22
okay


He stares at the screen glumly. Kazuya probably had no idea that to say in response; what was there for him to say anyway? Jun jumps a little when a styrofoam cup is nudged against his hands; he scrambles to set his phone out of the way and not spill coffee all over himself.

“There you go,” Masaki chirps cheerfully, his practice jacket draped over his shoulders and his hair damp with sweat. “Drink it before it goes cold, hm? The coffee from the machine is barely drinkable when it’s hot.”

"Thanks. Um, you looked good out there. I like your new program," Jun said.

“I forgot you hadn’t seen it yet,” Masaki said, grinning at him as he pulled his black gloves off and tucked them into his bag. “It’s nice, isn’t it?”

“It looks really good,” Jun said. He thought that Masaki always looked nice when he was skating. “I liked the bit at the end, with the footwork?”

“Of course you did. I did that choreography,” Masaki said. His smile was shy and pleased, though. “Oh, Yuu-kun’s up. That’s his short program. I don’t think you’ve seen it either, right?”

Jun looked down back at the ice, where Yuto was winding up for his first jump. He still didn’t know much about the technical figure skating stuff, outside of what Masaki had explained to him in bits and pieces every now and then, over the past couple of years.


But even he could see that Yuto skated differently from Masaki—heavily focused on power and tremendous jumps whereas Masaki was smooth, graceful lines and elegant spins. However, there was something about the uncharacteristically delicate line of Yuto’s arms in contrast to the rest of him that reminded him of Masaki. Jun was positive that Masaki helped the younger skater with that segment. Sure enough, Masaki puffed up and nodded approvingly with a hum when Yuto transitioned into a spin.

“He’s getting better and better, isn’t he?” Masaki asked brightly, gesturing with his water bottle.

“Yeah.” Jun nodded slowly.


It seemed like it was only yesterday that Masaki was telling him about Yuto struggling to get his double axel down, and now the skater was knocking off triples without breaking a sweat. He’d improved by an unfathomable margin.

It was the same story with his team-it seemed like every year, there were kids in short track faster and stronger than he was.

His knee suddenly twinged, and he shifted it around a bit with a wince, trying to find a position that made it feel okay.

Masaki noticed, of course he did. He noticed everything. He huffed and grabbed at Jun’s leg, pulling it up into his lap.

"You’re getting skinny,” Masaki scolded, frowning. “Are you eating well? How is your physio going? You’re wearing your knee brace, right?”

“I’m doing everything right!” Jun protested against the barrage of questions.

Masaki cast a suspicious look at him, but made an approving noise when he pushed up the leg of Jun’s jeans and found the edge of his knee brace.

It was just the dumbest thing. Just a bad fall during practice.


✦✦✦


They had been running through a practice relay, like they had done so many times before. Jun was on the anchor lap, matching his speed to Toma's inside the track and smoothly darting into the track for Toma to change off. He had pushed off from Toma’s hands and leaned into the corner, the ice smooth under his skates and the momentum slinging him tight around the track, and he thought that they might beat their personal best, because they were a second under, simple.

And then his skate slipped out from under him and he didn’t have a grip and his knee just… wrenched the wrong way.

All he could remember afterwards was his breath knocking itself from his lungs as he skidded across the ice and hit the padding, thinking, oh, oh fuck, did I hit anyone, did my skate cut anyone, I completely messed up our chance to beat our record they’re gonna be so disappointed, his ears ringing and heart pounding madly against his ribs. A pair of skates stopped in front of him, and then he saw Kazuya and Tomohisa bending over him, saying something he couldn’t hear over the ringing. They looked worried.

He had wanted to tell them that he was okay, really, that they could get back to practice now. He put a hand on the ice to get up, and his leg just… gave away. It wouldn’t hold him. Collapsed out from under him with a bright hot burst of pain, refusing to take his weight.

✦✦✦


Really dumb.

He didn’t need crutches to get around anymore, at the very least.

Masaki looked over at him. “Are Toma and the others still in the running for the final team for nationals?”

“All three of them, yeah,” he said. He was happy for Toma, Kazuya, and Tomohisa, he really was. They might rank high in the national championships, and who knows, that might get then on the national team.


But no matter how happy he was for his teammates and friends, it couldn’t shake off the bitterness and disappoint he felt in not being able to take part.

“That’s good,” Masaki said carefully, shifting his grip so he could rub careful circles along the sides of his knee.

He didn't say anything else, and Jun was left with the scraping noise of skates on the ice as someone stopped Yuto's music.

“Oh, nice jump,” Jun called out as Yuto wound up again and landed a particularly tricky looking combo on his second pass. Jun could see him grinning from all the way across the rink.

“That triple lutz-triple toe’s been giving him trouble, but he’s got it down now,” Masaki said fondly. He patted Jun's knee, catching his attention again. “And your physiotherapist says you’ll be back on the ice by next season, right?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Jun said. That was the plan, anyway. “I hope so.”

“It’ll be better next year,” Masaki said firmly.

When he heard “next year” from other people these days, Jun wanted to shrink in on himself, have the floor open up and swallow him whole, pretend that he didn’t hear it. People meant it to be comforting, they really did, but it just made him more anxious, made him feel like time was slipping through his hands with every second his skates weren’t on the ice. Like this was the end, he’ll never get another chance again.

But from Masaki-it was different. He didn’t mind. It felt okay coming from Masaki.

He’d met Masaki at a local rink in Tokyo when they were both rather young, still in elementary school. His mom had cute pictures of him in a bright yellow helmet with a gap in his teeth, and he had seen photos of Masaki in a sparkling green number, from way before they had met back when Masaki had moved from Chiba for better coaching. He knew that Masaki had his own list of disappointments: a countless amount of near-misses, setbacks, a collapsed lung that kept on returning at the worst times, and just plain bad luck.

So it didn’t make him go cold and sad and bitter inside when Masaki said, maybe next year. Because it wasn’t empty words with him. Masaki meant it, because he knew that you had to keep on believing it.


✦✦✦

Jun had invited Masaki over for drinks during the figure skating World Championships two years ago, when the skater had missed qualifying by the narrowest of margins. He knew Masaki would be watching anyway, and he thought it might be good for him to have company, rather than all alone and upset. Jun didn’t want to think of Masaki in a situation like that.

He remembered Masaki leaning up against him, his head resting against his shoulder while he gestured with his glass towards the screen. “I wouldn’t have missed that axel,” Masaki said. “Right, Toma?”

“Mhm!” Toma eagerly mumbled through a mouthful of chips. Jun was 100% sure that Toma hadn’t the slightest idea as to what an axel was, but Masaki didn’t seem to mind.

“Yeah,” Masaki said quietly. “Exactly. I would’ve nailed it.”

Jun patted his knee. Masaki took another sip from his glass. “Next time,” he had murmured against Masaki’s hair, watching the skater glide off the ice and hug his coach on the screen. Wistful, but mostly okay, from what Jun could tell, and that was what counted.

Masaki stayed at Jun’s apartment long after all the others straggled off, even after all the post-competition analysis and interviews had ended and they had given up on finding anything good to watch.

Masaki was quiet, fitted to Jun’s side with his head tipped over onto his shoulder and his hand draped over Jun’s leg under the duvet. The stream of late-night shopping ads were kind of soothing, but all Jun could concentrate on was Masaki’s thumb stroking back and forth on his thigh. Jun could feel his breath exhaling against his shoulder.


It was comfortable, the warmth of the duvet and Masaki, paired with the man’s woody scent had Jun drifting off into a deep slumber.

Jun woke up the next morning to Masaki carefully placing the duvet back over him.

“Early practice,” he whispered, squeezing Jun’s wrist, his hair swept messily to the side, looking tired and a little hung-over and determined. “You should go back to sleep, you don’t have to go in until later, right?”

(Jun still didn’t know if he had turned his head to the side to clumsily kiss the back of Masaki’s hand, or if he just wished he had. He did remember the brush of Masaki’s fingers across his cheek, though, and Masaki whispering “thanks Jun” as he slipped out the door.)

And sure enough, next season, there he was; Aiba Masaki with a bronze medal laying against the sequins of his costume on the podium at the World Championships, clutching a bouquet and smiling a smile so radiant he lit up the entire rink, his eyes glittering like jewels. Jun had jumped up and screamed until his voice was hoarse watching it on TV, tugging Toma and Tomohisa and everyone within reach into a suffocating hug, because he couldn’t hold Masaki from the other side of the world.

Masaki had called him that night, forgetting the time difference and running on sheer joy, his voice overflowing with happiness over the shaky connection. It was so, so, so different from the times he had called Jun late at night the year before, exhausted and anxious and worried because his chest was hurting and he couldn’t sleep, and Jun had felt so, so glad to be lying in bed and listening to Masaki talk from the other side of the world, his brightness seemingly transferring through the call to Jun.


✦✦✦

Jun looked back out at the rink. Yuto was winding up for another pass at the jump sequence, his dark hair blown to the side with his speed and his face focused.

He missed that feeling. It had been a month and a half since he was on the ice, and almost a month since even entering a rink.

He looked away and fiddled with his cup of coffee, picking at the styrofoam edge until it formed a ragged edge all the way around. The coffee was probably cold by now anyway. He couldn’t feel the warmth of the drink seeping out the cup and to his hands anymore.

He could see Masaki squinting at him from his peripheral. “The physio is probably telling you not to push yourself too hard. I’m right, huh?”

Jun pointedly kept his gaze on the coffee. Maybe. Perhaps with those exact words, too. “I’m keeping up with the sessions,” he finally said, rather lamely.

Masaki made a face at him. “Oh yeah, I bet. You know you can’t make it heal any faster? It’ll only take longer if you do too much.”

“I know, Masaki,” Jun snapped back, because he knew that, he knew that it couldn’t go any faster, no matter how much he wanted it to.

The sharp coldness of his voice reverberated back at him across the empty bleachers.

He dropped his head, staring at Masaki’s hands on his stupid, idiotic knee.

“Damn it. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say it that way. I’m just-” he started. They were just supposed to meet up and get coffee tonight, and catch up. It was supposed to be easy and fun and a distraction, and now he had messed it all up.

Masaki squeezed his knee reassuringly. “It’s okay,” he said, his voice soft, soothing against Jun’s ears. “Sorry for nagging.”

Jun shakes his head in response. It wasn’t Masaki’s fault.


Masaki’s hands weren’t massaging his knee anymore, instead just resting lightly on it, cupped over his knee like a shield. One of Masaki’s hands drifted down to his ankle, Masaki’s thumb drawing back and forth over his ankle bone.

Jun shivered. He had been sitting still for awhile, and he could feel a chill setting in, even with his down jacket. His knee felt stiff. He really wasn’t looking forward to standing up.

Masaki craned his head down to look at his face. Jun pulled the corners of his mouth into what felt unfortunately like a painfully fake smile. He knew it wasn’t convincing at all when Masaki’s eyebrows furrowed further and his deepened.

He knew that his physical therapist was pretty sure that he’d be back to competitive form in more than enough time for next season.


He knew that people got injured in short track all the time and were generally able to pick up where they left off just fine.


He knew that he was still pretty young, that he still had a good six years ahead of him.

But it still made Jun’s chest hurt, tight and squeezed and hard to breathe or think properly, when he thought “maybe next year.” It scared him, to have “maybe next year” stretching out in front of him, for years and years and years and nothing beyond that, that his time was over and he lost his chance forever.

Jun tilted his head back with a small curse under his breath. He could feel his eyes watering from the bright lights of the rink.


His knee hurt, damn it.

“Oh, Jun,” Masaki whispered despondently. It sounded like he was choking back his own tears.

Masaki dropped his leg and tugged at his arm, and Jun toppled into him. The edge of the plastic seat was digging into his leg and his arm was awkwardly squished between them and his face was smushed into Masaki’s chest. But he clung to Masaki’s practice jacket. He sucked in a shaky breath. Masaki smelled like clean sweat and the citrus smell of his detergent, Masaki’s hand a warm weight on his back.

“It’ll be okay,” Masaki said. His voice sounded so close with Jun’s ear pressed to his chest, the sound of it softened and echoey, penetrating deep into his bones.

“I know,” Jun mumbled.

He wasn’t sure if that was true or not. Jun wished he could summon up half the confidence that Masaki had. Some bitter, sad part of him said that it was easy for Masaki to say that it would be okay when he had already tasted some success. He felt terrible even thinking that, though.

“What if it doesn’t get better,” Jun said. It wasn’t what he wanted to say, not exactly.


(But it was what he was thinking)

“It will,” Masaki said firmly.

“But what if it doesn’t?” Jun whispered, crestfallen.

It was stupid and pointless to say that, but it was what he wondered every time he woke up in the night with his knee aching, hurting, burning. When he was lying awake waiting for the painkillers to kick in.

It terrified him, that he didn’t really know who he was without skating. Didn’t know who he was without getting up early everyday despite hating mornings and spending it all at the rink, without the exhilarating rush of rounding a corner on the last lap, or his thighs burning and his breath short and his skates digging into the ice, without the breathless momentum slinging him around the corner and upright again like a bullet from a gun, without the finish line just ahead.

Masaki chewed on his lip. He looked like he didn’t know what to say, and Jun felt kind of guilty for unfolding all this on him, because he didn’t know what he wanted Masaki to say, either.

“I have a couple more competitive years in me, with my lung,” Masaki said, after a long, long silence. “I might have a shot at the next Olympics, but after that… I don’t know. I want to choreograph and coach. I think I’d be good at that.”

Jun looked over at him. Masaki was looking at him expectantly, and Jun didn’t get it.

“Yeah, you would be. You’d be amazing Masaki,” he offered finally, though feeling a little anchorless. It was true. Masaki had the loving firmness and passion that a coach needed. He still didn’t know what it had to do with anything.

Masaki accepted this with an nod, but he was still looking at Jun, waiting.

Jun blinked back at him, at a loss. He didn’t know what to do with all of Masaki’s gentle laser-focus bent on him at the best of times, and he was definitely not at his best.


Masaki sighed, traces of a fond smile on his lips.

“What about you, silly?” Masaki prompted him, gently patting his leg. “What do you want?”

“Oh… I don’t know,” Jun said, stiltedly.

Masaki lightly pushed him back with a  and made a face at him. His hand stayed in its firm grip on Jun’s shoulder, though, and Jun couldn’t help but lean into its warmth, even though his thigh was still uncomfortably digging into the edge of the plastic seat.

“You do, though,” Masaki said.

“I want that shot at the Olympics,” he said.


And he did, he wanted it so badly.

Masaki nodded. “And after that? What else?” he prompted again.

“I don’t know,” he said again, helplessly.

“You have to have something else, too,” Masaki said sternly.

Jun ducked his head, sucked in a shuddering breath. When he glanced up, Masaki was looking at him.

His eyes were bright, and he was blinking a lot, and he was so focused and sincere that it took Jun’s breath away.

“I was thinking,” Jun started, and then stopped.

Masaki made an encouraging noise.

“My physiotherapist—he’s been really cool. I thought, maybe, I don’t know, of applying for physio studies. I’d have to take some classes, obviously, like sports medicine or something, but… Maybe? I could help people. And… and stuff,” he finishes awkwardly.

Masaki smiled, and it spread across his face like a beam of sunshine casting in through the windows, lighting up the whole rink, trembling and brilliant and relieved, and Jun felt terrible all over again for making him worry.

“You’d be great at that too, Ma-chan,” he said breathlessly, eyes bright.

“Yeah?” Jun asked, his voice small and unsure.

“Yeah! Yeah, of course,” Masaki said eagerly, catching his hand and squeezing it tight. “You’re amazing at anything you want to do! You- you should do what you want to do, what makes you happy. And there’s lots of things you could do, isn’t that right?”

Jun let out a shaky breath. His eyes still felt kind of watery, nose starting to run a little as well, his chest still squeezed tight and his knee aching, and everything still felt uncertain and dubious.


But.

But it didn’t feel like giving up, to say it out loud, to say that there were options other than skating.


He didn’t expect that, even though he’d been thinking about it for awhile.

Masaki kicked his heels in front of him, his skate guards making a muffled thump against the mats. The rink was empty by now, Yuto having finished practicing his short program and heading back to the dorms a while ago, except for the zamboni clearing the ice in long stripes, the familiar background hum echoing off the rafters of the rink and the lights dimmed.

“Thanks,” Jun said, sounding childish to himself, rubbing at his eyes and squeezing Masaki’s hand to ground himself, to make sure this sudden sense of security wasn’t a dream.

“Mm! Matsumoto Jun, you’re going to be okay,” Masaki said resolutely, as if saying made it so.


When Masaki said it, Jun almost believed it, though.

Masaki stood up, looking down at the rink. He rocked back and forth on his skate guards. They were the only ones left, and the lights would probably be turned off soon.

The pretty curve of Masaki’s parted lips made something ache inside Jun, but that wasn’t new.

It felt like too much to say that he also wanted Masaki. That it was becoming very hard, almost impossible, to imagine a future without Masaki in it, responding to his chat messages at weird hours of the night and cheering embarrassingly loud at his races to make up for the ones he couldn’t be there for.


It felt like he was being too, too greedy.

“You know, I was thinking,” Masaki started, a little too casually. “There’s this outdoor rink by my apartment. I keep seeing the strings of lights from my window when I come back from practice. It’s really pretty.”

“Across from your place, in the plaza?” Jun asked.

“Mm. We should go. Just you and me,for fun.”

Jun jerked his head up, eyes wide. Masaki’s eyes were intense and bright in the dimmed lights of the rink.

“And you can tie my skates for me,” Masaki added, as if he hadn’t been tying his own skates since he could walk. “And buy me oden. And you better not strain your knee. If you do I’ll break it myself.”

“Okay,” Jun stuttered out, a wide smile finally forming on his face. “Yeah. Okay. That would be really nice. I’d like that.”

Masaki’s breath caught, his mouth forming a soft ‘O’ that spread into a smile. Jun thought, not for the first time, that Masaki was really brave. Much braver and stronger than he was.

“I’d like that a lot,” Jun said again, vulnerably. He wanted to say just how much he would like it, how happy it would make him, but his words felt all caught up in a tight ball of hope rolled up in his chest and throat that made him feel like he was in his first year of high school all over again. All he could do was smile harder, his eyes turning into little crescent moons.

But he leaned towards Masaki, eyes expectant, and Masaki seemed to get it. He put a hand under his elbow to help him up, and kept it there, gripping solidly even after Jun was steady on his feet, his other hand tucking itself around Jun’s arm and fitting easily into the crook of his elbow.

With his skates on, Masaki was even taller than usual, and he had to slightly lean down to close the distance between them.

He kissed like Jun always thought he might, but so much better at the same. Thorough and deliberate and soft, the warmth of his lips and his woodsy scent chasing away the chill of the rink.

The lights in the rink clicked off, and Masaki let out a comical yelp as it left them in the dark.

“Oh shoot,” Masaki whined. “Okay, we’d better go before we get locked in.”

Jun couldn’t help his burst of giggling, dropping his head to Masaki’s shoulder, his own shaking uncontrollably.

“Let’s go, hm?” Masaki said. He poked Jun in the side playfully. “Why did you climb up so high in the bleachers, huh? You haven’t even been off crutches that long! Oh, and take your time with the stairs, okay? There’s no hurry.”

Jun nodded and let himself lean on Masaki’s arm to get down the stairs, unable to shake the wide grin off his face for hours after.

✦✦✦

When Jun crossed the finish line after the last lap two years later, he let himself slow down from his breakneck speed, easily gliding around the last corner and standing up out of his crouch, arms hands loose and relaxed by his side.

He felt serene, at ease. It felt like just another practice session; he half expected their coach to call them over for notes and tell them to cool down with some stretches.

And then, it was like someone changed the channel on the television, and he could hear the crowd roaring, and he huffed out a disbelieving laugh,registering what was really happening around him.

Toma crashed into him, grinning and hollering, and Kazuya and Tomohisa joined him soon after, both with equally wide and elated grins, and Jun clung to them, grasping at any part of them that he could reach.

Toma disentangled himself from the mess to reach for the flag the coach waving at the sidelines, draped it across Tomohisa’s shoulders like a cape and then draped himself across Kazuya’s shoulders.

Jun saw Masaki and Yuto on the sidelines shouting something, the younger waving around a pair of smaller flags above his head energetically, and he pushed off, let his momentum carry him across the ice and into the padding and he flopped on top of it with his skates still dangling over the ice. He held his arms out, reaching for Masaki.

Masaki caught him up and dragged him closer, face wet with tears, his lips pressed to Jun’s cheek, knocking his safety glasses askew, and Yuto was slapping his back and jumping up and down and hollering something in his ear, and Jun just laughed, too giddy to do anything except cling tighter to Masaki’s lean frame. He was pretty sure he was crying a bit, but Masaki was too, so it was okay.

He still couldn’t hear what Masaki said when he pulled back, thumbing at the wetness on his cheeks .

“Uh-huh,” Jun agreed giddily, because he couldn’t think, couldn’t register anything except the roar in his ears. “Yeah. I love you a lot. Oh my god, we won.”

And Masaki laughed and kissed him on his cheeks again and every cell in his body felt so alert, so alive.


✦✦✦

Masaki found him in the locker room once the medal ceremony was over and they had made their way through all the interviews. Jun wondered offhandedly if any of the things he had said for the team would make any sense at all later. All he could remember was dazedly trying to remember all the people they wanted to thank and Toma hanging over his shoulder and nodding at everything very eagerly.

Jun looked up from tying his shoes at the approaching footsteps and was surprised again by the weight of the medal around his neck thumping gently against his chest.

“Congratulations,” Masaki whispered, his eyes dark and intense. He grasped Jun’s chin and tilted his face up to kiss him, thorough and ardent.


✦✦✦

Two weeks ago, the day before they were due to drive over to Beijing for the games, while they were lounging in Jun’s dorm room, Masaki had sent him an email. It was a listing for a studio, with the rent, the utilities, and the distances from the rink and Jun’s university buildings all thoroughly highlighted for him .

Jun had stared at it for a long time, not entirely processing what it meant,  and why Masaki decided to send him an email instead just telling him when they were sitting in the same room together, before jerking his head up to look at Masaki sitting on the couch on the other side of the room, his eyes blown wide open. Masaki looked up from his tablet, darted a quick, tentative glance over at him, and Jun finally knew why Masaki had been so antsy all week, even once he had finally announced that he was retiring from competition after the games.

Jun had jumped up eagerly, only to trip over his own feet and almost give himself a concussion on the coffee table getting over to Masaki to say yes, which would have been a really embarrassing way to miss his first Olympics.

✦✦✦


There was snow coming down when they finally stepped out the door of the rink. Masaki held his palms out, snowflakes settling on his black gloves. His eyelashes cast over his cheeks when he tilted his head look at them. Jun curved himself around Masaki's back and clasped his hands around his waist and felt full to the brim.


He could cry, with just full and elated he felt

“Hm?” Masaki looked over his shoulder questioningly.

“Nothing,” Jun said. “Just happy. Really, really happy.”

"Good," Masaki cooed with a satisfied nod.

Masaki grabbed his equipment bag from him, slinging it over his shoulder with one hand and catching Jun's hand with the other, and they went.


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