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In the End

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It must be the ending of Shukudai-kun that made him feel this way.

He had been encased in a feeling of sadness since waking up this morning, a kind of unease that nagged at his heart and made him wondered, what was it? Would something bad happen today? He couldn't put a finger on the reason for this. Nothing significant happened yesterday, and so he thought, the ending of their longest running show must be the reason for this feeling.

Which was strange because he really didn't expect to feel like this. Because really, they had been so looking forward to move on, to a new project, to a new challenge. But when he was in the studio, for the final time, for the last shot, there was an indescribable sadness that bloomed in him, a flash of wistfulness that made him think back to all the fantastic memories that they'd had doing this project. It was almost enough to make him want to talk to Sho again, asking again, can't we keep this?

Laughter erupted in the studio as they made a fool of themselves on camera, but unlike before, tonight the laughter didn't linger. There was a kind of sadness that overshadowed the staffs eyes, and Satoshi realised that he would miss them, would miss this.

Eight years of working hard together, of slaving away on new ideas, of frustrated scream and joyful laughter, of tight hugs and drunken parties – it all would end tonight. Had he thanked them enough, he wondered. Had he showed his appreciation properly?

Nino and Aiba tried hard to lighten up the mood, but even some of the lines, which usually came so effortlessly to them, caused them to struggle. There was tired lines on Sho's face around his eyes, which made him look rather wistful. And Jun wasn't being as touchy feely as he usually were, as if he was putting a space between him and the staffs, so that when it was time for this to end, it wouldn't hurt as much.

When the shooting was finished (and there would be no party tonight, farewell or otherwise – that would be for another time because if tonight, if tonight he'd cry) he grabbed Sho and said, “come home with me.”

Sho would know that he was referring to the compact studio flat that he had in the city, the place where he crashed at when he was too tired to make it back to his parents home. There was a flicker of surprise in the younger man's eyes, as if he wanted to question him, but Satoshi tightened his hold around Sho's arm, fingers squeezing hard.

“Come home with me, Sho.”

It might be something in his voice, or something in his eyes – whatever it was, Sho nodded. And when they stumbled and crashed into the bed in Satoshi's room later, after a journey home that passed by like a daze, Satoshi would kiss Sho, deeply, deeply, with a kind of desperation that he couldn't put into words.

And they gasped for breath and Sho's eyes were bright in the dimness of the room as he whispered between breaths, “what's wrong, Satoshi?”

And Satoshi would shake his head, unable to explain himself in words, but in touches, in kisses, in the nipping and biting and the roaming of his hands on the expanse of Sho's body, pushing as deep, deeper as he humanly could into Sho, trying to chase his sadness and loneliness away.

*

Satoshi didn't sleep that night. Not even with the post-orgasm lethargy. Not even with Sho's warm body curled close beside him. Not even with the lullaby of Sho's even breathing in his ears.

He flicked on the bedside lamp and climbed out of the bed to where his art supplies were, in one corner of the room. He picked a blank canvas and a crayon the colour of sepia. He sat on the bed and drew, hoping that he would find peace in this.

He drew Sho's sleeping form, and wished he could sleep the way Sho was sleeping now, trouble-free and trusting like a baby. Wished he could stop this unexplainable worry that gnawed at his mind, this irrational fear of losing things that mattered to him, this stupid, stupid dread that he might be all alone one day.

Why? What triggered this? Only because Shukudai-kun is ending? Only because the familiar faces of the staffs, who had been with them in every step along the way would not be there anymore?

He drew the outline of Sho's face, the way his face was half buried into the plush pillow, and he thought about how this might end too. This warmth that filled the other side of his bed, this presence that kept the loneliness at bay, these kisses and touches. If it ended, if one day Sho looked at him, with those kind, gentle eyes of his, and told him that this is the end for them – what would he do?

He drew Sho's hair, from the very top, to the strands on the white pillow, to the strands that fell to Sho's face. He drew it carefully, wanting the hair to look just so, to look perfect, and he thought that not only Sho, but one day, even Arashi, even his family would end too. There was no question in there, it was inevitable, just a matter of when. His parents would pass away eventually, his siblings and Aiba and Nino and Jun would leave him for their own life.

He drew Sho's hand, resting on the pillow near his chin, and wondered how would it feel to live alone. How would it feel to have a lot of friends to go out for a drink with, to have a laugh with, but coming home to an silent home. How would it feel to have the image of a happy and successful public persona on TV and media, to have a lot of people fussing over him, but had an empty life outside of it.

Would it happen to him? Would he fall that low?

He shook his head angrily.

He drew Sho's eyebrows, two perfect, symmetrical arches, and then drew his closed eyes. And then he imagined these eyes while they were opened, so lively and kind. He imagined Aiba's eyes that always shone so brightly, Nino's that always twinkled in mischief, Jun's that were dark and depthless and full of barely concealed love. He could see their joy for life in their eyes, could see their excitement at every challenge laid in front of them. He drew Sho's closed eyes, and found that the tip of the crayon was too thick to draw the eyelashes perfectly, but he drew anyway, making them thick and long the way they looked under the dim lamp, resting on Sho's cheeks. It was perfect.

He drew Sho's nose, then the tip of his ear that peeked from under the disheveled hair. And he heard Aiba singing his song. How many miracles have piled up, for us to meet like this? How many indeed. That they were put together as a band in a last minute, and still stayed strong together after ten years – indeed, how many miracles had happened to make this possible? That they still loved each other as much as they did – that he still love the others, so much that sometimes it made him hard to breath.

Stupid, he thought. How very stupid. As he drew Sho's lips, taking the care to make the curves just right, he realised, suddenly, acutely, that they, that his family and Sho and Aiba and Jun and Nino would never leave him. He would never be left behind. With this kind of love, no one would be leaving anyone behind.

His hand shook as a relief bloomed within him. He worried over the stupid thing, really, and if Sho knew, he'd surely laugh. He stopped drawing for a bit, willing his hand to still again, and felt tears blurring his eyes and he couldn't believe that he was going to cry but this relief within him was so immense that he couldn't do anything but let it overcome him.

Tears dropped onto the paper, smudging the lines that he had meticulously drawn. It didn't matter, because Sho in the picture looked as peaceful and as beautiful as he looked now in front of him. He put a little shading on the picture, accentuating the planes of Sho's feature, and he thought, he wouldn't be able to sleep now for a completely different reason.

But he felt calm now, the worry that had nagged his mind now silenced, and he could breath easily. He wiped the traces of tears from his cheeks, and he put the drawing on the bedside table with a satisfied nod.

He laid down and snuggled up to Sho, feeling the warmth radiating from the younger man. He put his arm around Sho's shoulder and tucked Sho's head under his chin. He nuzzled Sho's hair with his nose, inhaling the familiar scent that he had associated with his lover.

And he slept, finally, when the dawn came.

*

When he woke, the sun was blinding.

He shifted to turn away from the sunlight, and found Sho with the drawing on his hand, staring at it with an expression that Satoshi couldn't properly define.

“I think,” Sho said, turning to him. “You drew me way too prettily.”

Satoshi tought that Sho under the stream of morning sunlight was even more beautiful.

Sho's finger traced the dried marks of teardrop on the paper. He put the drawing down on his lap, and looked at him, worry shadowing his eyes. “Are you okay, Satoshi? Did you sleep well?”

Satoshi only hugged the pillow tighter, a blissful, true smile on his face. “I am.”

Sho smiled. He pulled another paper, keeping the content hidden from Satoshi in an over-exaggerated way. “Inspired by your drawing. I drew you when you sleep too,” he grinned. “Wanna see?”

Satoshi could feel the laughter bubbling up in his chest, up his throat. He could feel the warmth in his chest, and he knew that he, that everything was going to be alright.

-fin-