Title: The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
Author: Solanum Dulcamara
Pairing(s): Eiji/Ooishi (unrequited), Momo/Echizen (unrequited), MomoEiji
Warnings: generally worksafe, some kissing, mild language
Rating: PG-13 (for now)
Disclaimer: Not mine, yo.
Warnings: angst, yaoi (boys on boys), minor language
Pairing(s): Eiji/Ooishi (unrequited), Momo/Echizen (unrequited), MomoEiji
A/N: This fic idea bit me on the ass (with it’s madly sharp little gremlin teeth) and won’t let go. Truth be told, this pairing is my very secret guilty pleasure. It’s been kinda hard for me because GP is my OTP and I adore MomoRyo, so please be patient with me.
The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
by Solanum Dulcamara
I won't be the one who's going to let you down
Maybe you'll get what you want this time around
The trick is to keep breathing
Dropping his empty soda can into the rubbish bin at the doorway of the building, Momoshiro Takeshi headed inside and towards the stairwell that lead to the apartment he shared with Kikumaru Eiji, his former teammate and best friend. The two had decided to move in together a year ago, when Momo’d finished high school: three years of study that hadn’t gone as either had expected or hoped. He hurried up the steps, not wanting to be late and still needing to shower and change before they left for the club that evening.
As was his habit, he threw the door open with flourish, letting loose a ringing, “Tadaima-!” Not hearing the usual “Okairi, nya~!” in response, he toed off his shoes in the foyer and headed for the living room, calling out, “Oi, Eiji! Where the hell-” but his question fell short as he found his roommate sitting on their ratty, secondhand sofa, clutching his bright red cellphone, tension in every line of his body. Momo paused, wary. Eiji had a temper, and he’d learned the hard way that it was often best to try to calm his roommate down and diffuse the situation before the explosion. “Hey,” he said softly, letting his book bag fall to lean against the wall, “Why the long face? It’s your birthday-”
“Exactly,” Eiji’s voice held rare traces of bitterness as he interrupted.
Momo was thoroughly out to sea. In the six years he’d known Eiji, not once had the redhead bemoaned a birthday. Treading with caution, he asked, “Um... is that a bad thing? I was under the impression that it was a cause for celebration. You know; you, me, Oranji, some dancing, and Fuji-senpai is even in town to go with us.” He looked critically at his friend. No change. In true Momo fashion, he forged onward, “Seriously, what’s eating you?”
“A text message.”
Out to sea and lacking paddles, Momo decided to just take the plunge and to hell with the consequences. “What’s so terrible about a text message?”
“Not a phone call or a voice message. Not even an e-mail. He sent me a text message for my birthday.”
Oh. Ouch. There was no way for Momo to hide his grimace of sympathy or to salvage the situation. There was also no need to ask “who”, and all things Ooishi-senpai were totally out of his hands... But Momo, being Momo, would try anyway. “I’m sure he’s just really busy right now and-” his attempt at reassurances was aborted as Eiji hurled the little red cellphone across the room, and it hit the wall opposite with a crack and burst of pieces. The violet-eyed man stared at the scatter of parts in surprise before turning back to his roommate, hoping that Eiji had vented some of his anger. It was then, when he saw the tight jaw and clenched fists, the slumped shoulders and moist blue eyes fighting tears, that he realized Eiji wasn’t so much angry as hurt; hurt by the person who mattered the most, the one person who could do damage.
Eiji didn’t notice that Momo had moved until he felt the sofa cushion dip next to him and strong arms wrap around him. He didn’t want to cry. He hated crying: hated the burn in his throat, hated the stinging red eyes, hated the way his cheeks were stiff and sticky afterwards, but mostly hated that it didn’t help anything at all. He didn’t want to cry, but he did. Leaning heavily against his roommate, Eiji cried long and hard, clutching fistfuls of Momo’s shirt, feeling the arms around him tighten. Harsh, frustrated sobs grated their way out of him, and he shook with the conflict of suppressing them or purging them.
How many times had they done this for each other? How many nights had one or the other rubbed a back consolingly or wiped off a tear-streaked face? Every time one suffered a rejection that was more casual forgettance than anything else. How many unanswered letters had Momo written? How many nights had Eiji waited for a call that never came? Ochibi and Ooishi were gone... had left them behind. Eiji understood. People grew up and grew apart. Of course he understood it logically, but he couldn’t seem to convince his heart that it made sense.
Eiji cried harder, letting Momo hold him closer as he ached with loneliness and betrayal. He tried to slow his breathing and pull himself together, drawing on the strength that Momo offered and the comfort. He pulled back a little and looked up at his roommate; Momo, who always offered a shoulder to cry on, who always held him when he needed to be held, who always listened to whatever he had to say, who was always there. Was it wrong to want a little comfort? To want to be held? To want to be touched? To want affection?
Eiji leaned forward. Momo’s lips were a little dry under his but warm and soft, and he found himself leaning further, seeking more. He lapped at them, seeming to ask, “Please? For a little while, help me forget. Let me feel wanted. Please?” And the lips against his responded and Momo’s tongue found his in a light caress. Excited flutters and an unfamiliar warmth pooled in Eiji’s belly. His hands slid up Momo’s chest to behind his neck, pulling closer. Lightness forgotten, their mouths moved against each other’s desperately, need in every kiss, every lick, every nibble. Hot panting breaths gusted against swollen lips between increasingly frenzied kisses. Fingers were gripping his hair and a calloused hand raked across his back under his shirt as Eiji, driven by a relatively unfamiliar urge, moved from Momo’s mouth to his neck, laving the ropes of muscle and biting the juncture at the shoulder. A low, growling moan rumbled in the chest against his and Eiji felt prickling heat crawl up his spine... perhaps just a little too hot. With a sudden gut-clenching realization, he pulled back as if burnt. “M... m... Momo! I... I can’t believe... I just... I’m so sorry!” the redhead stammered.
“Eiji, relax. It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not okay! I took advantage of you.”
Momo flushed lightly and scratched the back of his head, a nervous habit he’d had since grade-school. “Well, technically, since I was a pretty active participant... I don’t really think you can call it ‘taking advantage’. And isn’t that usually done by the person whose comforting to the vulnerable person?”
“Nya. That still doesn’t make it okay. You were humoring me. And I think ‘taking advantage’ can go either way.”
“Well,” Momo reached out and wiped the moisture from Eiji’s cheeks with his thumb, “I’m not upset and I don’t feel ‘taken advantage of’, okay?”
“Nnn... okay,” the redhead didn’t sound totally convinced.
“Now, I thought we were supposed to be meeting Fuji-senpai at Oranji.”
“Hoi! That’s right! We’re totally going to be late meeting Fujiko. I haven't even showered yet. Dibs on the bathroom,” Eiji jumped up and headed for his bedroom to grab his robe.
“No buts. I’m the senpai.”
“I thought we agreed we were past the senpai/kohai stuff?”
“We are. Then... I get dibs because it’s my birthday,” Eiji shut the door to the bathroom with his best attempt at a cheeky grin. Momo conceded to that argument. Besides, he knew Eiji wanted a little more time to put his smile back together. That last try had been a little wan, and definitely wouldn’t fool Fuji. Truthfully, he needed to spend a few minutes repairing his own fool’s grin. No need to let this evening’s confusion ruin tonight’s festivities. He’d just tuck what happened behind a wink and a smile to save for thinking about later... or maybe never at all. It’s not like they’d being doing anything like that again anytime soon, or ever again. He checked his watch, feeling his cheek muscles work up to their usual task of keeping a simple grin on his face. They’d both have plenty of time to shower and then share counter space for doing their hair, as usual, and shouldn’t be more than fashionably late, which Eiji preferred anyway.
Weaving in and out of the crowds, Momo and Eiji made their way to the table at which Fuji was already seated. He stood to greet them, giving the redhead a firm hug with birthday well-wishes. “Your gift is on it’s way to you, as I couldn’t very well bring it with me on the plane. It should have arrived today, but Nee-san said that it was delayed by weather complications. It will arrive tomorrow,” he informed them as he returned to his seat, now joined by the others.
Eiji’s eyes widened, “What did you get me that can’t go on a plane?”
“Saa...” as opposed to actually answering, the tensai gestured to three shot glasses on the table, “As you insisted on being ‘fashionably’ late, I took the liberty of ordering the first round.”
“Nya! You make it sound like we’re just gonna sit around all night getting plastered.”
“Of course not,” Fuji retorted smoothly, “We’ll dance as well.”
Momo picked up his shot glass and eyed it’s contents with no small amount of trepidation. “Do we at least get to know what we’re drinking, Fuji-senpai?”
“Mn. It’s called Liquid Cocaine,” lids opened to reveal his unearthly blue eyes as he answered smilingly.
“Sounds brutal,” so saying, Momo gave a philosophical shrug; what did he really have to lose by taking a shot besides the contents of his stomach? He raised his glass and wobbled it slightly, offering a purposely over-giddy, “Clinky drinky.”
Eiji dissolved into a fit of giggles, as he always did when Momo said that. “Alright. Alright. I’ll try Fujiko’s poison.” The redhead picked up his own glass.
“Nope, you gotta say it, Eiji,” his roommate wheedled.
“Fuji didn’t,” Eiji shot back.
A quietly amused “Clinky drinky” somehow carried over the din of the club to interrupt the debate before it could really begin. Both turned to look at Fuji, vaguely incredulous. The tensai only smiled his disconcertingly sweet smile and nodded in Eiji’s direction.
“Fine. Happy Birthday to me! Clinky drinky!” and having said Momo’s ridiculous toast, Eiji tossed back the shot, joined by the others. He was immediately aware of a warm burn making it’s way far too slowly down his throat, reminiscent yet opposite to a sensation he’d felt earlier that day. He looked to his left, where Momo was leaning one elbow on the table and coughing. Eiji smiled a little. His roommate never had been good at drinking shots. He reached over to pound Momo on the back and realized he really hadn’t eaten enough that day, as he already began to feel the warm fuzzy blanket of alcohol consumption creep over his skin. He looked to Momo at his side, who would undoubtedly whisk him onto the dance floor shortly, and Fuji across from him, who smiled warmly, sincerely at him and suggested they order another round “birthday boy’s choice”. It was nice to be here with them. He could dance, he could drink, he could have fun with his friends, and he could forget. And he’d wake tomorrow with today just a happy, hazy memory.
Momo woke slowly with a large yawn. His brain was still a little muggy from the evening previous’ festivities, and he wanted to roll over and just sleep the day away, but he needed to answer the call of nature and get some water for the awful case of cottonmouth he was suffering. As he started to crawl out of bed, however, he encountered something, or someone more specifically. His roommate lay snuggled against his side, red hair splayed over his white pillow, lashes dark against pale cheeks in the morning light filtering through his blinds, and sleeping quite as naked as he himself was. Icy foreboding pooled in Momo’s stomach. What had he done last night?
Fujiko: ko is a typical ending for a female name. Only Eiji and Taka can get away with using it.
hoi: an Eiji-ism, no particular meaning
nee-san: older sister
nya: Japanese onomatopoeia for meow, an Eiji-ism
ochibi: Eiji’s nickname for Echizen, roughly translates to munchkin or kiddo
okairi: greeting offered to someone who is returning, often translated as “Welcome home” or “Welcome back”
Oranji: Japanese pronunciation of orange and a club in Shinjuku
saa: a noise denoting “who knows” or “I don’t know”
senpai: word or honorific suffix, meaning or denoting upperclassman
tadaima: said when one returns, often translated as “I’m home” or “I’m back”