Gojou regretted a lot of things in his life. Not remembering his parents’ faces. Not studying enough. Not taking his best friend’s problems more seriously.
He regretted a lot of things in his life, but not all regrets stayed with him. He went to his parents’ graves irregularly. He shit-talked his way up to a new dream. He held the people he cared for closer now.
He did what he could and with that what he wanted. Once, he had wanted to do a lot more and a lot less, get a nobel prize for mathematics (until he learnt there was none and instead wanted to become the reason for one) and never have kids. A lot has changed over the years, people went and came, decisions were made and new paths chosen, but right now he thought life couldn’t get any better. (It would, but he wasn’t there yet.)
Until university he didn’t know he was good with kids, didn’t know he even liked kids. Without support from his foster parents, he had to get a part time job, and since he had lots of skills and very little motivation, he chose to tutor middle and high schoolers in maths.
Science with numbers came naturally to him, he could do complicated calculations easily in his head, meaning they weren’t even close to complicated for him, think about existing and non-existing concepts for natural, integer, rational, real and complex numbers as well as apply this knowledge to physics and programming. During his school days he was basically obsessed with anything concerning numbers, but it wasn’t until university that he fell in love with them and teaching.
He tutored over the course of his first year eight boys and girls in algebra, geometry, calculus and statistics. In his second year he held a study group twice a week with over twenty kids. He neglected his own courses and finally dropped out, realising business studies wasn’t what he wanted to do for a living. Instead he continued tutoring, resulting in a big argument with his foster parents. He hadn’t really talked to them since then, but he hadn’t cared back then and he especially didn’t care now. Instead he chose to apply for a new university course next spring with the new goal of becoming a teacher.
Those three years were hard, even for him. It wasn’t the content of his courses, though, because those were actually interesting and easy more often than not. No, it was in his second year that his whole life turned upside down.
Suddenly a petulant four year old girl and a quiet two year old boy were living with him in his small, dirty flat. It had been a pretty grotesque situation, when he learnt that his foster father had an affair with another woman, said woman died from some sudden illness, leaving his foster parents with two children they didn’t care for. They had laughed in his face, when he came home for the first time in three years and asked for the kids. They laughed, but didn’t refuse him, because they didn’t care. He had been so furious in his knowledge of being right. Those kids didn’t deserve to live in that cold home where he had grown up. Not if he could do something about it. And that he did.
It wasn’t easy dealing with parenting and university and teacher training, but somehow he managed. His prof was very obliging and lenient, actually playing favourites with him. Gojou didn’t mind, taking every advantage he could get his hands on. Besides, he was the best of all his classes, so it wasn’t really playing favourites, but rather acknowledging his abilities.
The kids were another matter altogether. Tsumiki was stubborn and aloof, and he couldn’t even blame her, losing her mother and getting tossed from one home to another without asking for her opinion. Megumi was easier, quiet and observing. He didn’t really understand the situation, small as he was, but accepted it readily, looking unconsciously for stability and safety. He was probably the reason Tsumiki didn’t throw as many tantrums as he was sure she wanted. After three months he found them a bigger apartment, and Tsumiki had smiled for the first time when she saw her new room. From there on it got slowly, but surely better and better with each day.
If someone asked Gojou in later years how he had managed to graduate earlier than usual while managing a household with two kids, he would simply shrug. He somehow did, he would sometimes add if he felt like it, doing what he loved, and loving what he did.
The kids had been looking forward to April since, like, forever. It was Tsumiki’s time to finally start school, and Megumi was just as excited as his sister. (It was adorable, until Gojou had to comfort his tears and sobs on why he couldn’t go to school as well.) Having chosen the elementary school near their kindergarten meant few changes in their daily routine as well as in Tsumiki’s circle of friends. It was a win-win situation for all of them, and Gojou assured Megumi that he would go in two years, too, and that two years weren’t even that long.
It was a rainy morning, when he took Tsumiki to school and Megumi to kindergarten, and it stayed a rainy day. Running late because of two students asking him about something they didn’t understand in class, Gojou forgot his umbrella at work, but since it didn’t rain that hard when he left, he thought it would be okay. After collecting first Megumi and then Tsumiki it started pouring down in earnest. Laughing at his bad luck, he picked up the complaining kids, one under each arm, and started running towards the subway station. That cheered the kids up, making them laugh and scream in delight.
It had to be a stroke of fate that made him catch the name of the bakery from the corner of his eye, and without thinking twice he turned abruptly. Knowing a lot of mothers and fathers from kindergarten and now elementary school as well as the associating teachers, Gojou has heard a lot about the infamous bakery Seven-Three. He had never been there, not because he didn’t want to, because he was very curious, but an opportunity has never arisen. Until now.
Hands full, he had no other option than to kick the door open with his foot. He was a little too eager, and the door crashed loudly against the wall, making the glasses of the windows rattle. That wasn’t quite the entrance he wanted to make, but shit happened.
There were no other people inside the bakery beside a man behind the counter, leaning over something with a pencil in hand. The sound of the door startled him, no surprise there, and he looked up with wide eyes. It was a rather hilarious situation.
“Sorry for the sudden intrusion!” Gojou said grinning, feeling only slightly guilty, adjusting his grip on the kids. They weren’t heavy yet, but still wet and giggling and wriggly, especially Tsumiki, that hyperactive tomboy, unable to hold still for even one second.
The baker recovered fast, but he was still staring. “This is an open shop,” he said, a bit confused. Gojou wondered what that was about. Was it that strange to get customers during that weather? Nah, it was probably his smashing entrance, appearing with a boom and two sacks of kids. “How can I help you?”
Gojou didn’t even have to think about the answer that immediately came to him. He didn’t come here with a goal, didn’t even plan on coming here, but the smell of rich coffee and fresh bakery goods was enough. “Well, I have two hungry mouths to feed!”
Of course, his stomach had to rumble right into Tsumiki’s ears, making the girl laugh. “You mean three hungry mouths, dad!” she said with a sly grin. That fox, where did she learn such expressions? He loved it, though.
“Tehe, busted!” He laughed and put first her and then Megumi down. He wasn’t surprised when Tsumiki immediately set off, while Megumi hid behind him. They were as different as sun and moon, and Gojou sometimes worried about it, fearing Tsumiki would get into trouble sooner or later or Megumi would miss out on a chance, but he couldn’t and wouldn’t change his kids. If Tsumiki got into trouble, Gojou would get her out again, and if Megumi missed out on a chance, Gojou would create a new one for him. He would see to it.
Putting a reassuring hand on Megumi’s head, Gojou watched Tsumiki speak to the baker. He had heard a lot about this bakery. The goods were delicious, but it was actually the baker everybody swooned over in the end, and it wasn’t just the single moms. From the way he was talked about, the baker won over hearts right and left, and well, who could blame him, Gojou understood the appeal. Who wouldn’t like a good-looking, tall, seemingly single man who could bake and who treated their kids well?
Those single moms and married dads hadn’t promised too much.
There were a lot of things to take notice of. The way the baker smiled at Tsumiki, friendly and attentive. The way the smile grew wider with her giggles. The way he ignored Gojou’s warning towards her, when she lost her good manners. (Gojou tried his best, but he wasn’t the best role model here, still his kids turned out just fine, mostly polite and friendly, so it was okay.) The way the baker gave her a rather cute chocolate bunny bun, playful but honest. The way he lifted his eyebrow at him, challenging. The way he pulled his shy Megumi into a conversation, calm and patient.
To say Gojou was charmed was an understatement, but when he received a smirk, sharp and mocking and dismissing, his heart skipped a beat, stunning him into prolonged silence. Huh? That was a first in a veeery long time.
Gojou has met a lot of beautiful and handsome people in his life, always finding things that intrigued him like a distinctive chin, broad shoulders or long fingers. He made no secrets of it, although he had stopped flirting with purpose since the kids charged into his life. (He had to change some things, and not hooking up with strangers was one of the easiest things to drop. He had more problems with folding and sorting his clothes into his wardrobe.) There was no denying that the baker was easy on the eyes, strong but gentle hands, a hard but kind face, very nice forearms, if Gojou was honest. (And he was, because those rolled up sleeves should be illegal, exposing skin in a very pragmatic but alluring way.)
Gojou has also met a lot of interesting people in his life, and it didn’t matter if it was because of their profession or their character or their hobbies. There was something interesting about every person, and even if someone seemed boring, there could be something appealing about that as well. People were like that to him, and Gojou loved people, meeting them, talking to them, getting a reaction out of them. He hadn’t really interacted with the baker so far, mostly watching him, but he already knew he would be a fun person to have around, clever and witty and honest.
Gojou has met just a few people in his life who were able to win over both of his kids without effort. He himself was easy, but his kids weren’t. Tsumiki was bold and noisy, while Megumi was quiet and shy. People tend to be overwhelmed by his girl or to not know what to do with his boy. The kids were with him for three years now, but they had become such a center of his life that every decision was made with them in mind. (And that was a lot from a selfish man like Gojou.) But that baker, someone who hadn’t really existed to Gojou as something more than other parents’ fantasies until now, did so effortlessly talk to both Tsumiki and Megumi, like it was the easiest thing in the world.
And Gojou fell in love instantly.
But he wasn’t the type, though, never has been. He slept with people because of their looks or engaged with people because of interest, but he never fell in love with either of them. He loved, but wasn’t in love. He loved sex and conversations, all in all intimate situations with others, but at the same time he was aloof and unapproachable, not giving them what he got from them. That baker, though, had something about him that got to Gojou. It wasn’t just the smirk that went straight for his heart. It wasn’t just the way he acted with his kids. It wasn’t just his attractively sharp features or his frustratingly appealing arms. No, it was a deadly mix of all those things and things he wasn’t even consciously aware of at the moment.
Gojou had never been in love with someone, just loved the way someone kissed or touched him, spoke with him or held him captive, loved it a little and loved it a lot, but he had never been in love with them. So how did he know that he had fallen and wouldn’t get up that fast again? There was no rush of adrenaline, no fateful meaning to their situation together. But he looked at the baker who he didn’t even know the name of, who smiled at both of his kids, who smirked at him, and Gojou saw a life in front of him, the possibility of something new and life-changing. It was thrilling and terrifying, and maybe Gojou massively exaggerated and misinterpreted the moment, because he didn’t believe in fate, or at least he hadn’t until his eyes had caught onto the name of this bakery in the middle of a heavy rain with his kids under each arm, and because he had just known the baker for not more than ten minutes. This was ridiculous, he needed to get a grip on himself right now. (If he was good at one thing, it was downplaying his inner thoughts.)
“A chocolate bunny it is, then.” Ugh, there was that smirk again, it was actually killing him.
But two could play this game, even if his own smirk didn’t feel as confident as usual. “You’re not going to ask about my opinion?”
“Sorry,” the baker said, not giving the impression of actually being sorry. “I don’t make the rules.” This wasn’t fair! How was there a tall, handsome man with nice arms who could bake, who was not only good with kids, but good with his kids and who had a witty, fun personality? Was it really that surprising that he fell hard? The real bummer here was that this baker had been in his proximity since forever. (Well, not forever, but at least since Tsumiki went to kindergarten, which actually was forever, because there had been no life before the kids.) Damn, he could and would have fallen so much earlier! But it didn’t matter anymore, because he was in love now.
“I’m not so sure about that, Mr baker.” The words felt funny in his mouth, he had never flirted with that kind of background, but they were easy nonetheless. Before he could ask for the baker’s name, though, Tsumiki chirped in, and he couldn’t begrudge his daughter, even if she made a laughing stock out of him. She was so adorable that he was able to excuse it, especially if it made the baker smirk at him more. What a good daughter he had.
Gojou made an effort with his pout for dramatic reasons, but he wasn’t able to stay serious for long, planting his kids a cosmic fantasy in their heads. It had the nice side effect of distracting them enough that he could resume his conversation with the baker.
“Besides,” he felt giddy and daring. “It finally gave me a reason to visit the infamous Seven-Three bakery.” If he thought about it, the baker didn’t feel like a stranger at all. “All the moms and dads and kids and even some teachers swoon over you, y’know, Mr baker?” Was he jealous? Nah, not when they were all so right about the man in front of him.
“I’m a simple baker, but thanks for the compliment, I guess.” Oh, and he was humble! Gojou wanted to tease the hell out of him and tickle any kind of reaction out of him.
“Since we haven’t tasted your goods yet, I can’t really hand out compliments like you hand out chocolate bunny buns. I wouldn’t want to get in a pickle, if your buns can’t meet my high expectations.” Maybe he should calm the fuck down and not lay it on that thick. He wouldn’t want to chase the baker away, would he?
“I wouldn’t want that as well.” Okay, wow, maybe he should just stop having opinions on his own flirt strategies, or maybe he should get out of here to actually breathe and have a clear thought again.
“How much do you get?” he asked with a tinge of regret.
“Oh, that’s okay,” the baker said, and Gojou’s heart made a confused jump, indecisive if it should skip or beat faster.
“You can’t bribe your way into a good review.” Gojou smirked and from the indignant furrow of brows he knew that wasn’t the intention of the offer, not that he really assumed that. His heart did skip a beat then, and he added, when the baker opened his mouth, “Maybe next time.”
The baker narrowed his eyes, but didn’t protest. Gojou paid for the buns and called for his kids. They said their goodbyes, and Gojou couldn’t wait to come here again.
That night after dinner and tucking the kids in, Gojou laid in bed, thinking about the baker. He felt ridiculous that an albeit very attractive stranger could make him feel like this. He made all clichés reality. There was a fluttering in his stomach like thousands of butterflies. This heart skipped a beat, thinking of the crinkle in the corner of those eyes, and his heart beat faster, thinking of those forearms. His hands started sweating, thinking about their next meeting, and his cheeks and neck and ears flushed in anticipation. All this without even a name! He was ridiculous and in love.
The next morning he overslept. He should feel crazy and guilty about his dreams, clear and soft and very vivid, but he couldn’t bring himself to. He did feel guilty about his complaining kids, though. Megumi hadn’t slipped into his bed for once, instead both kids tried to be adults. A loud rumble from the kitchen woke him with a start, and he found the boy standing in front of his bed, white powder in his dark hair and kneading his stuffed dog guiltily.
The kitchen was a mess, but the clock told him that he didn’t have time to clean up right now. He laughed, calming down the kids who prepared for a scolding, but they didn’t have time for that as well. Instead he ushered them into the bathroom and told them to clean themselves up as well as possible. Tsumiki still had egg behind her ear when he checked, rubbing Megumi’s hair carefully with a dry towel. It was a pretty hilarious and touching situation, finding the kids trying to bake for breakfast. A certain someone didn’t just leave a great impression on him, it seemed.
While all three brushed their teeth, he jumped into clothes and collected new ones for the kids. As much as he wanted to appreciate that they dressed themselves this morning, even if it was ill-matched, he couldn’t let them go to school and kindergarten in dirty clothes.
While putting their bags hastily together without breakfast or lunch, a very appealing thought came to him, and when he voiced it to the kids, they were delighted as well.
It had stopped raining in the night, but there were still a lot of puddles on the ground. Gojou tried to avoid them on their way to the subway station with Megumi’s guidance from his shoulders, but he still stepped into two. (With each foot, of course.) Tsumiki had more luck and more fun, skipping over the puddles giggling.
Megumi yawned when the subway went off. Not wanting him to fall asleep on his head, because he was a drooler, he put the boy in his arms, letting him snuggle in his shoulders.
“What an exciting morning, huh?” he said, while listening to Tsumiki rambling about their baking plans.
He had been fashionable late for his first class that morning, but his students were used to it. He blamed it on his kids, and the students groaned, because they had heard a lot of his kids (Gojou was that kind of doting father) and actually met them on their last field trip. His students were sure that those cute, well-behaving kids weren’t to blame. Still, annoying people was one of Gojou’s favourite hobbies.
He was on his morning break now, enjoying his egg sandwich far too much and for varying reasons. (His stomach had killed him during his first periods, and it should be a lesson for him to never skip breakfast again.)
Nanami Kento, huh? What a nice name, although he couldn’t say it was unbiased. And he was really good with kids, with his kids, and Gojou’s heart swelled with unfamiliar but great emotion, watching them interact. Nanami was so much fun and so easy to tease, all while trying to stay professional. Gojou didn’t really have to do anything to get some kind of unexpected reaction from him. He didn’t think a frown could look that attractive, but he didn’t think a smile could be that stunning as well, even if it wasn’t directed at him. He felt like falling in love all over again.
Nanami had rough hands and a firm grip, and Gojou had to tear his eyes away from his forearms forcefully, when they introduced themselves. They were really his weak point.
He was 99,9 % sure that Nanami wasn’t flirting back at him, but he could wish and dream. The free goods left him unsure, though, but Nanami was probably just that nice, especially to kids, if not to him. Gojou surprised himself that he didn’t mind all that much. He had a lot to deal with his own feelings right now. Nanami hypothetically responding would probably kill him on the spot.
It has been three weeks, and his infatuation was as fresh and high and deep as that fateful first day. His best days were the ones he could start with a sweet coffee and a grumpy smile from Nanami. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the time for that every morning, but he took what he could get. Still, he got to see Nanami every weekday, because his brilliant daughter had the fantastic idea to meet up after school at the bakery. Meaning, even if Gojou couldn’t grab a coffee and a smile in the morning, he could still do so in the afternoon, and on the best days he could do so twice.
He was infatuated and in love and head over heels, and he didn’t know what to do about it, so nothing has changed. He wasn’t even sure if he wanted something to change, because he loved his current life. Love the neverending thrill. Love the teasing and bantering. Loved the sight of Nanami doing literally anything, but most of all interacting with his kids.
When he had come in last week to pick up his daughter and found her overly excited on a chair behind the counter, Gojou had been pleasantly surprised, but that was just what Nanami did to him on recurring occasions. He had left with a warm feeling in his stomach, listening to Tsumiki go on and on about her new seat and Megumi’s inquiring questions of wonder and awe and jealousy, knowing that his kids were special to Nanami. Gojou had told him just out of politeness that they didn’t want to impose and was eager for Nanami’s answer that it was okay and no problem at all. Nanami had even promised Megumi a place behind the counter. He was just that good and perfect, and Gojou had laid in bed that night again thinking about how he could have met him so much earlier and how it was possible that he had met someone like him at all.
Today was finally the day that they had more time than one chat over the counter. His shy boy had gone timidly behind the counter after Tsumiki for whom it was already normal. (Although she could still talk about her adventures there, and then talk some more.) Nanami was very accommodating, encouraging Megumi to walk all by himself, eyes wide when he sat on his seat. Nanami even offered Gojou one, but he refused. He wanted to, oh how much he wanted to, but he didn’t want to overstay his welcome, and he was sure Nanami only offered out of politeness. (It would be hilarious, teasing him from behind, while he dealt with his customers, though. Maybe another time.)
Gojou sat at their usual table, although it had been mostly Tsumiki’s usual table, when she had been waiting for him. He sipped his coffee absentmindedly, watching Nanami handing Megumi one cup of probably hot chocolate (his favourite). Nanami noticed him watching and glared over his shoulder. Gojou waved, grinning, and thought about their last talk.
(“Can I ask you something?” Nanami said, holding his cup of coffee.
Gojou hummed, eyes wandering from the cup over long fingers, big hands, exposed forearms and broad shoulders up to Nanami’s stern face. He wasn’t subtle, he knew, but he didn’t aim to be. This was fun, and he was in love.
“Do you get something out of it, watching me like a hawk?”
An honest answer was on Gojou’s tongue, because oh yes, he did indeed get something out of it, but at the same time he was partly surprised and partly disappointed that Nanami seemed to be that oblivious, although it was endearing. Gojou was anything but subtle, and he did anything but make a move. He was still in that state of mind that flirting and bantering was enough.
Instead of answering, though, Gojou shrugged, grinning wider when he saw Nanami’s brows furrowing, and accepted the cup of coffee Nanami was finally handing over, obviously annoyed.)
“Gojou-san, right?” Surprised, he turned to his side, hand still raised in his wave.
Next to him sat an elderly couple, smiling friendly at him. He had seen them at the bakery a couple of times before.
“Yes, that’s me,” he said, smiling his best parents-appeasing smile. “Do we know each other?”
The woman scoffed but smiled, while the man laughed.
“No,” he said, good-naturedly. “We just noticed you and your kids coming here more regularly lately.”
“Same here,” Gojou replied. “Although I don’t know your names.”
The man laughed again. It made him very likable. “You’re right, how rude of us. My name’s Kimura Hiroto, and this here is my lovely wife-”
“I can introduce myself, thank you very much,” the woman interrupted. “You can call me Keiko-san. It’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s my pleasure,” Gojou said, liking her boldness.
“The flirty type by nature, are we?” She had a knowing smile, and Gojou grinned.
“I just can’t help it in this kind of company.”
She rolled her eyes, a sign she had heard flirtations and bad pick-up lines all her life. “This kind of company, indeed.” Her eyes wandered from him through the bakery. He followed it, grinning, watching Nanami serve his line of customers. The kids were behaving in the background, but he hadn’t expected anything less.
“Are you married?” His head snapped back at the sudden question, especially because it came from the still benevolently smiling man.
“No,” he answered, a bit irritated. He heard that question quite a lot. “But they’re still my kids.”
“Oh, sorry,” Hiroto said quickly, rubbing his neck self-consciously. “That wasn’t the reason why I asked.” He didn’t elaborate. “But it’s still good to hear.”
Keiko sighed exasperatedly. Her husband seemed to be that much of a handful. “Please don’t mind that stupid husband of mine. Tsumiki-chan is a very nice girl, very energetic, unlike your boy, though. He seemed very shy, but that just underlines his polite demeanour. Very lovely children you have there.”
“Thanks!” Gojou wasn’t someone to hold grudges, and he took every compliment towards his kids with the greatest pleasure.
“I didn’t know you had kids!” The voice of a woman at the counter flew over to them. “And so well-behaving, too!”
“They’re not my kids,” Nanami answered politely, sending Gojou an annoyed look, making his heart skip a beat. He heard a chuckle from the table next to him, but he didn’t care. Just the thought of sharing his most precious children with Nanami sent his heart on a rampage, but the thought of him actually acknowledging that fact practically killed him here and now. Would Gojou be mistaken as a husband, if he sat behind the counter as well? As much as he enjoyed that fantasy, he wouldn’t survive that reality as well.
Gojou wondered if delicious chocolate cake to appease his obvious melodrama was some kind of secret code for “I love you, let’s raise your kids together and get a dog!” He wasn’t even a dog person, but the thought was as nice as far-fetched.
There were smoother ways to get the number of the love of your life than depending on the sickness of your kids, but who could blame him for accepting?
The days had been terrible, to put it lightly. It started Tuesday evening with Tsumiki coughing. He didn’t think anything serious about it, until the morning, when she didn’t jump out of bed, ready to take on the world again. Her room was stuffy, and it wasn’t just because of the hot temperatures of early summer. His baby girl lay sweating in bed, pressing her stuffed mouse close to her. She smiled tiredly, when he woke her gently. He didn’t have to put his hand to her forehead to know that she was glowing. She wasn’t feeling nauseous, which was a relief. He sweet-talked her into changing her pyjamas, while he quickly changed the covers of her blanket and pillow. (He chose the ones with the tiny, colourful horses she loved so much.)
Megumi stood helplessly in the door, until Gojou ushered him into the living room, allowing him to watch TV. (Usually a no-go in the morning.) The boy nodded stiffly and went, but not before putting his stuffed dog Yuki next to his sister.
Gojou tucked her gently in her blanket, not too tight, and opened the window to let in some fresh air. He kissed her on the forehead, told her to get some more rest, and left the room. He called first his school, then her school, and finally his friend Shoko. He asked her to take Megumi to kindergarten and if she could shop for some groceries on the way. She complied easily, but not without a jab about him trying to burn his kitchen down.
He filled a glass with water and put it on Tsumiki’s nightstand. She had actually fallen back asleep. He would check on her again after Shoko took Megumi with her and see if she would like to eat some yoghurt or something.
He helped Megumi with dressing, soothing his worries with smiles, tickles and kisses. He made him breakfast and put slices of fruit in his bento box next to his sandwich. (Gojou wasn’t a total failure in the kitchen, and as long as he didn’t have to turn on the stove or put stuff in the oven, everything was great.)
Shoko picked up Megumi (“Someone called for a wild ride to kindergarten?”) and told Gojou he looked like shit. He wasn’t feeling like that yet, but Megumi kissed him goodbye and told him to not get ill as well. When they were gone, with Shoko promising to prepare a soup later as well as porridge, so he would just have to heat it up when Tsumiki felt like eating (he was a master of the microwave), he stood in front of the close front door and breathed deeply in and out.
This wasn’t the first time one of the kids was ill. Last year Megumi had a nasty inflammation of the middle ear and Tsumiki the chickenpox shortly after they came to him, and all three of them had managed. But that didn’t mean he was used to seeing his lively kids down.
He checked on Tsumiki who fortunately still slept and went to read some papers of his students, while waiting for Shoko to come back. He was halfway through, when the doorbell rang.
He made himself useful in the kitchen by chopping vegetables, while eating the slice of bread Shoko forced him to. After that his stomach calmed down and he ate another more freely.
Shoko stayed for the morning, cooking and preparing food, while every once in a while Gojou went to check up on Tsumiki. When she finally woke up, he made her drink the water and brought her a stracciatella yoghurt. He was glad she ate it whole, but she wouldn’t eat anything different until late afternoon.
Shoko came back in the afternoon with Megumi, joking and laughing. She had a strange look on her face, but when he asked her about it, she said it was nothing. Looking in the mirror he didn’t feel that much like shit, though, so he didn’t dwell on it too much.
The next day Shoko made him bring Megumi to kindergarten, saying she would look after Tsumiki, while he got some fresh air. On his way back he stopped near the bakery on the other side of the street, but didn’t go inside. Somehow it felt wrong and like cheating without the kids. Nanami loved the kids, after all. What if he wasn’t tolerated without them there? Deep inside Gojou knew that was bullshit, but that thought kept him from going, not even near enough that he could look through the windows. Instead he hurried home and felt worse, stopping by a pharmacy to get some medicine for Tsumiki.
Shoko again greeted him with a friendly insult, but he didn’t care and swallowed all thoughts of Nanami and his bakery. It just partially worked. In the afternoon it was Utahime who picked up Megumi and who threw him a very judging look, but gladly kept her mouth shut about it.
When Megumi started coughing on Friday he kept him home and called the kindergarten. Tsumiki’s fever hasn’t broken yet, but at least she ate more now. Megumi said that his throat hurt from coughing, and Gojou called Shoko for cough syrup. She was there within half an hour.
Tsumiki spent her ill days sleeping and listening to audiobooks. Megumi with just his sore throat stayed in bed, looking at his picture books. Gojou didn’t know whether he should be proud or worried that his kids didn’t want to watch a lot of TV.
On Saturday Tsumiki’s fever finally broke, but at the same time Megumi got his. It wasn’t like they didn’t expect it, but it still wasn’t easy seeing first his baby girl and now his baby boy in bed with feverish cheeks. The stuffed dog Yuki went back to Megumi alongside Mana the mouse.Tsumiki was still weak and stayed in bed, now actually getting what was happening in her audiobook.
Sunday had Tsumiki gradually getting better, and Megumi’s fever surprisingly broke already. Because of that they decided to watch a movie together in the living room. It was a Disney movie the kids loved with talking animals, but Gojou, who had seen the movie about a thousand times already, didn't pay attention. Instead he made sure Megumi was tucked well in his blanket and that Tsumiki drank her tea. All three fell asleep there on the couch.
The next day Gojou woke up to the kids talking over him. His back was killing him, but each arm was safely wrapped around a bundle of children. He yawned and wasn’t quite prepared for Megumi’s question, “Do you think Nanami-san missed us? We haven’t seen him since-” He paused for a moment. “We haven’t seen him for a long time,” he finally finished.
“I’m sure,” Gojou grinned, tickling them on their sides. “Who wouldn’t miss the two most annoying kids ever?”
“In that case, dad,” Tsumiki giggled, “Nanami-san would miss you the most!”
Gojou gasped dramatically. “Are you calling me annoying, young lady?”
“Maybe?” she laughed, while he tickled her in earnest, telling him breathlessly to stop.
“Can we go see Nanami-san today?” Megumi had squeezed himself between Gojou and Tsumiki. “He probably worried about us.”
“Why don’t you have his phone number?” Tsumiki scolded. “That way we could have told him not to worry.”
“I’m sure he didn’t worry too much,” Gojou said, but the words tasted like ash in his mouth.
There was a heavy lump in his throat, and no matter how much he swallowed, it didn’t go away. How should he tell his kids that he missed Nanami as well, thinking about him between reading papers, looking after them and preparing exams? How should he tell them that he feared that Nanami didn’t worry about them, and at the same time feared that he did? How should he tell them that sitting between those two fears made him unable to do anything, although he had the opportunities to go to the bakery. How should he tell them that he feared he wasn’t welcomed there without them. How should he tell them that he was sure it was stupid and he knew better, knew Nanami better, knew that he wasn’t like that, knew that he cared. Knew but not knew. Those thoughts had driven him mad and kept him awake in the past nights.
“Dad?” Megumi touched his face with his tiny hands.
“Ah, sorry, it’s nothing,” Gojou grinned. The lump was still there, making it hard to breathe.
“Can we go see Nanami-san today?” Tsumiki had a worried expression on her face. “You missed him, too, didn’t you?”
Instead of answering, he launched another tickle attack, making the kids squeal. Afterwards, when they still didn’t drop the subject, he told them that they should rest for now and could visit the bakery the next day. That night Gojou went to bed with a heavy heart.
He was stupid, wasn’t he? The kids were all excited to go tomorrow, and he should be as well, and he was! He was looking forward to finally seeing Nanami again, seeing that annoyed wrinkle between his brows and seeing that soft smile he reserved for his kids. But those past days had been terrible, in more than one way. He knew he was in love from the moment he had entered that bakery, dripping wet with two children under each arm, but somehow he didn’t realise until now how serious he was about it and how scary it all was.
“I missed Nanami-san so much!” Tsumiki said at breakfast the next morning.
“Me, too! Me, too!” Megumi echoed, biting into his sandwich.
Gojou was glad that both of them were well and hungry again, seeing them eat with a vigor he had missed in the past days.
“I’m sure he missed you as well,” he said, smiling. They were all staying home from work and school and kindergarten for another day, just to be sure, but he still prepared a bento box with fresh fruits as well as cold tea.
“I’m sure Nanami-san missed you, too, dad,” Megumi said, mouth full.
“Of course, he missed dad, stupid,” Tsumiki said with a surety that knocked the breath out of Gojou’s lungs. “He missed all three of us as much as we missed him!”
Gojou wished he had their confidence.
Gojou was nervous. He rarely was, but his overthinking of the past days as well as his conscious decision to not go to the bakery alone made him jittery and his stomach felt like a hill full of ants. Where was the soft fluttering of the butterflies?
Still, even if he was nervous, he wasn’t one to avoid difficult situations forever, and his overthinking and difficult situation ended this Tuesday morning. As it turned out, everything was different from how he anticipated it.
Since they took their time with breakfast, they wanted to avoid the morning rush in the bakery. They wouldn’t have anything from their visit, if Nanami was occupied, after all. Armed with masks, they entered the bakery with just the last remains of the morning rush. Just knowing he would get to meet Nanami soon, brought back some of his former self-confidence, and he felt more like himself again.
It was such a delight to see Nanami again, but it didn’t last all that long. Nanami was currently serving a customer, filling a paper bag with bread rolls, it seemed, but the moment his eyes fell on them, he froze. Like he actually froze in the middle of his action, staring at them, wide-eyed.
Tsumiki and Megumi didn’t notice that something was off, whatever it was, waving excitedly at Nanami. Gojou felt his own wave slowing down, unsure how to interpret Nanami’s stare. He ushered the kids to their usual table, and Nanami still stared. Suddenly, though, he seemed to get a grip on himself again and continued to serve his customers.
While the kids talked excitedly about what kind of snack they would get, Gojou sat between them, watching Nanami carefully, trying to understand what was going on here. Their eyes met several times, but Nanami didn’t make any other sign of acknowledgment.
When the bakery was empty, Nanami finally made his way over to them. He still had a complicated look on his face that Gojou was unable to read, but the smile was sincere. His voice was a bit thick, and if Gojou didn’t know better he would call it relieved. The kids told him about their sick days, and they had a good laugh at his expense about not catching that cold as well.
The more he watched Nanami relax, easing the stiffness in his shoulders and voice, the more he became aware of how wrong he had been. Nanami wasn’t an open book to him, but he wasn’t good at hiding his emotions very well. That was the reason it was so much fun to tease him, because he couldn’t pretend not to care. And this situation wasn’t any different, because Nanami was relieved to see them, happy even, and the ants in his stomach finally turned into butterflies again. Oh, he was so head over heels for his man, he couldn’t really measure it.
This thought gave him the courage to leave Nanami his contact info, claiming it was so they wouldn’t go down starving, and the small smile Nanami shot him, him and not the kids, made it so worth it, especially since he got Nanami’s contact info in return. What a day to be alive!
Gojou knew he could be insensitive, but he usually didn’t feel too bad about it, because he didn’t mean to be rude or hurtful, and it was just the way he was. Still, he sat at dinner, replaying the afternoon talk over and over inside his head, regretting every moment of it. Okay, not every moment, but every moment he put his foot inside his mouth. Nanami had seemed genuinely upset, and Gojou had known he had gone too far.
“Dad?” Tsumiki asked, chewing her dinner. “Can I ask you something?”
“Sure thing, pumkin.”
She struggled a bit with her words, but he remained patient. “You talk about Nanami-san a lot,” she finally said and added for emphasis, “Like a lot!” Gojou’s heart sank. Oh no, he wasn’t ready to have this talk with his daughter, was he? But Tsumiki smiled and continued, “Do you like him?”
Gojou swallowed, trying not to interpret too much into the words of his seven-year-old daughter. “Of course, I like him!”
Before he could elaborate on his answer, though, Megumi interrupted, eyes gleaming with excitement, “Then Nanami-san can become our other dad?”
Gojou choked on his juice. Maybe he should take the words of his kids more seriously.
“It’s perfect!” Tsumiki squealed. “Nanami-san wants kids, and we are kids, so we can become his kids. You like him, and he can become your husband.”
“It’s not that easy, though,” Gojou tried to dampen their excitement and calm the beating of his heart. If Nanami wasn’t going to be the death of him, it surely were his kids and their spontaneous ideas.
“But why?” Megumi pouted, disappointed. “That way everyone gets happy.”
“It would be nice to make everyone happy, yes, but you have to think about Nanami’s opinion as well.”
The kids thought for a moment, staring at the plates.
“You don’t think he wants us as his kids?”
“No, pumpkin. I know for sure that he loves you very much, but you don’t suddenly become a parent.”
“You did,” Tsumiki said quietly.
“That I did, and I did it gladly and would do it again.” He smiled first at her, then at Megumi. Both of them had far too complicated expressions on their little faces. “But it’s not the usual way to become a parent or to get kids.”
“Then,” Megumi started, brows furrowing deeply. He looked up in question. “Then do you think that Nanami-san doesn’t want to be your husband?”
That was a very loaded question, and not one he wanted to discuss with his young kids. “I don’t know,” he said honestly.
“But you want him to?”
“He is a great baker, isn’t he?” Gojou grinned, and the tension vanished. As fast as a very serious talk could arise with the kids, it could change again in favour of Tsumiki’s attempts at cooking.
ive been called out by my kids today ∑(ﾟﾛﾟ〃)
they want me to get them a new dad lol
that baker again, huh (｡•̀ᴗ-)✧
they never said anything like that tho
should i be worried (;°◇°)>
am i not enough anymore
lol shut up and stop whining u big man child
it was just a matter of time for them to bring up that topic
u arent subtle
and unlike u ur kids can read the mood lol
dont be mean to me pls!!!! (＃`Д´)
im having a crisis here (｡•́︿•̀｡)
i told u from the start to make a move on ur baker
with arms like that someone could snatch him away from u every day
ugh i know right (●´□`)♡
its my greatest fear
then do something about it lol
its very simple
make him yours and he cant be snatched away
but what if he isnt interested
what if he is disgusted and doesnt want to see me or the kids anymore
what if im banned from the bakery
the kids would never forgive me
omg shut up
u do know youre overthinking this right?
lets just breathe and take one step at a time okay
im just afraid of losing what we have right now
aw bb i know this sucks
but u dont just want what u have right now tho
one step at a time remember?
i cant believe i actually got good advice from u ♡♡♡
god i hate u so much
go and die in self-pity
while i snatched ur bakery from u
u already have a girlfriend
dont steal others potential boyfriends <(｀^´)>
im sure she wouldnt mind
we all have a weakness for nice arms
and hes tall
no ur ridiculous
and ur in love
somehow that sounds like an insult (＝3＝)
go get ur man when the time is right
and pls dont wait too long
we and the kids get impatient easily
okay thats enough pressure thx (ʃƪ ˘ ³˘)♡
i try to sleep now _(°ﾛ°｣ ∠)_
utahime send u her support
good night to u two (ᴗ˳ᴗ)zzZZ
and thanks for listening
things will work out when and how they should
dont worry too much
and now have sweet dreams about those arms
god i hate u (＃`皿´＃)
Gojou stared disbelieving at his phone. Did Nanami really imply what Gojou thought he was implying? There had been three things he wrote in their chat which Nanami left open for Gojou to interpret what he was right about. He scrolled up again.
am i nothing more than a money bag to u?
i thought what we had was special
u like my kids tho
usually am (•̀⌄•́)
be more specific
what do u mean exactly
What do you think I mean?
This stuck him as odd, because Nanami wasn’t the type to leave interpretation open for others. He usually was very clear about what he meant, not implying things, but simply stating them. Gojou liked that straightforward way of him, and not just because it left a lot of room for teasing. It made it very easy to talk to Nanami, not having to question everything he said. Unlike Gojou himself, but he just was like that, annoying the fuck out of Nanami and others just for the reaction to it.
Gojou had been mostly kidding, when he sent those three things, especially because he knew Nanami wouldn’t take them seriously. Oh, how wrong he was.
He picked the most obvious thing, because they and everyone inside the bakery knew that Nanami loved the kids. It wasn’t a secret, but he hadn’t thought Nanami would dismiss it like that. It was the most obvious thing, and thus it had been too easy to be the right answer. Cheeky bastard.
That left Gojou with two equally terrifying things to choose from. He didn’t want to be just a money bag to Nanami and he thought he was sure that this wasn’t the right answer, but that left him with the implication that what he and Nanami had was special. It didn’t matter whether Nanami declined and confirmed it, both were equally terrifying, maybe even more than being a money bag, because that had the potential of becoming a running gag between them.
Choosing the lesser evil, Gojou thought he could get off easy here, but Nanami didn’t seem to be in that kind of mood. Ugh, that left him staring at their last messages.
i am nothing more than a money bag to u?
Gojou wasn’t right about the kids, because the answer was too easy. He also was wrong about being a money bag. Which left him with just the last option.
i thought what we had was special
Was Nanami fucking with him? Did he know what he just said? Did he know what he was currently doing to him? Probably not. Gojou had a witty comeback on his mind, when he finally caught on to what Nanami implied here. Was he reading too much into it? His thoughts were racing.
Has he been too bold lately? Was it their talk about flowers two day ago, although he didn’t leave with the impression of being more obvious than usual. Well, he had never been not obvious, but he could be without caution, because Nanami didn’t seem to get it. Which was also frustrating, but that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was that Gojou didn’t hide his infatuation and enjoyed the teasing and bantering and flirting, because Nanami had been oblivious. Now he wasn’t so sure anymore. Had Nanami known the whole time and just didn’t make a deal out of it? What did it mean when Nanami implied that they had something special? Was that a casual tease? Or was that their usual banter? Or was that the actual maybe-possibility of a flirt? Was Nanami interested in him, or was Gojou just overreacting over one short chat? He was, wasn’t he? Because he could be that stupid, knowing from experience.
He stared at his phone and noticed it had been half an hour since Nanami’s message. He couldn’t let this become too awkward, thus he sent a little white lie to cover for his lack of answer. He didn’t feel too bad, too preoccupied with the possible meaning behind Nanami’s words, getting his hopes up and freaking out, planning their wedding and putting a stop to these nonsense thoughts.
He wasn’t all that surprised that he didn’t find a lot of sleep that night, just glad that the next day was Saturday and not a work day. Mostly he stared at the chat in hopes of the messages revealing what Nanami had meant or staring at the ceiling in hopes of finding the answer there. He had no such luck, though.
From there on, things changed, or to be more precise, Nanami changed. Not for the worse per se, but Gojou didn’t quite know how to handle him anymore.
It had started with that cursed text message, still living rent-free inside his head. (He even made a screenshot of it, just to torment himself with the lack of knowledge of the meaning behind the words. He looked at it nearly every night, cursing and praising it helplessly.)
Next came the shyness incident, that one (first) time Nanami had a confident, edging on arrogant air around himself, claiming to know him well and even better than his friends. That grin and that brow stayed with Gojou for the rest of the week and longer. They were always there in the back of his mind, ready to jump him when he was careless. This was serious, and this was illegal, Gojou concluded without getting a conclusion from the incident.
He had never been speechless before. Never. He always had something to say or add or counter, but in the face of Nanami shamelessly throwing him a possible-flirt he melted like ice in the sun. (He had an inner breakdown, reevaluating himself all over, because was he shy? Him? Shy? Never, right? Although the burning blush told otherwise.) He had never felt more embarrassed and helpless, not when he had been caught fooling around behind the locker rooms at school or cheating on the kanji test in first grade of elementary school. He had thought of himself as immune to embarrassment, even second-hand embarrassment, but it seemed he was wrong, so wrong, because he hadn’t met the person yet to have that kind of power over him. (It was going to be a long night again.)
He tried to cover up his burning cheeks and his embarrassment, but judging from Nanami’s stare he wasn’t really successful. He wanted the ground to swallow him whole right on the spot, but he had to content himself with his kids gracefully changing the subject.
From there on, Nanami seemed to know about this newly gained power, exploiting it shamelessly. That was what he really was, Gojou thought, a shameless, handsome bastard with nice arms and a dangerously sharp grin, leaving Gojou weak-kneed just thinking about it. And to know that this bastard loved his kids, and his kids (and him) loved this bastard was simply overkill.
He tried his best to match Nanami in his flirting (was he stupid or something?), but no matter what he did or said, Nanami didn’t show any reaction Gojou was hoping to achieve here. It was thrilling and frustrating and ridiculous, because he had wrapped so many people around his finger he had lost count. Had he actually lost his edge or was Nanami simply immun to him? (Maybe he didn’t care and played with his stupidly fragile heart? He banished that thought immediately, because it wasn’t just painful, but because it was mostly mean and vicious and very, very likely untrue.) Who would have thought that serious baker was such a fucking tease?
Well, Gojou didn’t, that was for sure!
It was an easy, rainy afternoon, meaning that the bakery was mostly empty except for them and Nanami. Gojou was drinking his coffee, watching lazily as Nanami served one customer. It was pleasantly quiet, Tsumiki doing her homework next to him, while Megumi drew a picture. The customer left, and Nanami cleaned the counter. Sipping his coffee, his eyes automatically went to the exposed forearms. Cleaning the counter was one of Gojou’s most favourite actions to watch.
Gojou smiled, when Nanami prepared a cup of coffee. That was why he loved rainy days at the bakery, because it meant that Nanami had time to join them at their table for some minutes or even half an hour. He brought some cookies with him, when he sat down, complimenting the picture Megumi showed him. (It were dogs.) He took a sip of his coffee and sighed.
“Long day?” Gojou asked, smirking.
“Boring day with not much to do.” Nanami shrugged. “It can’t be every rainy day that a certain someone with two missile children bursts in.”
Tsumiki giggled, but didn’t look up from her homework. She loved her kanji exercises, writing the characters very neatly.
“Sorry, certain things can just happen once in a lifetime.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Nanami said, taking another sip. “By the way,” he continued, “I’ve been meaning to ask this for ages, but why are you always wearing sunglasses again? Especially indoors, and especially on rainy days?”
“For the lasting impression,” Gojou grinned and pushed his sunglasses a little bit lower.
“Meaning you think you wouldn’t leave an impression without them?” Nanami rolled his eyes. “I doubt that.”
“Oh, really. Care to elaborate?”
“Well, you are freakishly tall as a tree, for one.”
“You are very annoying. That’s one lasting impression nobody’s going to ever forget.”
Gojou pouted. “So mean! Don’t I have some nice qualities?”
Nanami put his chin in his hands, thinking hard.
Nanami did a bad job in trying to hide his mischievous grin. “You have very nice kids.”
“They’re my greatest asset!”
Nanami chuckled, gently tousling Megumi’s hair. “I see no lie there.”
Gojou leant a bit forward, trying to memorise the way Nanami’s face changed whenever he laughed. It was an impossible job, because each laugh looked different, even if they were the same. Sometimes there was even the hint of dimples, but just on his left cheek. He took a sip of his coffee. “What else?”
“Greedy, aren’t we?” Nanami changed the angle of his face, giving Gojou a nice view on the skin right under his ear. Gojou just hummed, head in his hand. “Well,” Nanami said, his grin softening to an actual smile, and Gojou’s heart melted. It wouldn’t really matter what Nanami said next. “You are a good father.” Goddammit, it wouldn’t matter his ass!
He stared in disbelief at Nanami. He felt the now familiar sensation of burning heat crawling up his neck. It wasn’t the first time someone had told him that he did a good job raising his kids, but it was always nice to hear it again, especially because he knew he couldn’t be a good father all the time.
“You really think that?” He tried to steady his voice, but it still sounded thick with sudden emotion. The heat reached his ears.
Silent, Nanami looked at him. Gojou saw his eyes tracing the blush from his neck to his ears, then snapping to his throat when he unwillingly swallowed. This wasn’t fair, Gojou thought, trying his best to keep the heat out of his cheeks. (No luck, of course.) When Nanami still remained silent, Gojou pressed his lips together. He didn’t like the look from Nanami, unable to interpret it clearly, reading too much and understanding too little in it. He averted his eyes, frustrated, and in that moment he saw the smile on Nanami’s lips.
“Yes, I do think that,” Nanami said. “You may be childish and insufferable, but you love your kids and your kids love you. You give them a home they feel safe in and that they want to return to. They have your support and attention as well as enough freedom to experience life for themselves. They are still young, but I already know they will grow up to be good people, and that’s thanks to you.” He laughed. “Please, give yourself some credit here.”
Gojou wasn’t able to look him in the face, gripping his coffee cup until his knuckles were white. This was probably the best and worst moment of his life. There had been other better moments and other worse moments before, but none had felt like both at the same time. He didn’t know why he was still surprised that he was in love with a human being who was so out of his league, but Nanami managed to surprise him over and over again.
“A cookie?” Nanami pushed the plate tentatively over to him, and Gojou felt like crying.
“Thank you.” Gojou swallowed thickly, and he hoped that Nanami understood that it wasn’t just for the cookies.
“Do you ever take your sunglasses off?”
“Hm? Oh, yes, if I don’t need to impress.”
Nanami rolled his eyes exasparantly. “You know there’s no one to impress here, right?”
“Are you so sure about it?” Gojou grinned. Conversation was easy again after two customers had entered the bakery and Nanami got up from the table. Tsumiki had asked Gojou for help on her homework, although he wasn’t sure she had really needed it, but it all eased the weird tension in the air. Nanami had come back with sandwiches, simply assuming that they would eat dinner at the bakery. Gojou didn’t protest, and their talk went back to safer grounds like his obsession with sunglasses. He would have to analyse the damage from the good-father-bomb Nanami had dropped on him later.
Nanami made an annoyed sound, and Gojou felt his grin widen.
“If you’re so curious about it, you could simply ask me to take them off, y’know?”
Nanami stared at him for a moment, and Gojou was able to trace the sharpening of his smirk. He was so hopeless and helpless against it. “Hm, yes, I could,” was all Nanami said.
Nanami wasn’t the only one to embarrass him. Since he made the mistake and told Shoko about the mixed signals he got from Nanami, she had been pestering him about finally putting the lid on that pot.
She had been ineffectively threatening him with marching up to the bakery herself and doing the job for him. Gojou was actually tempted to take her up on that offer, because as much as he loved the teasing, bantering and flirting, he was incapable of doing the next move, afraid of getting rejected as well as afraid of getting accepted. Before the kids he had no problems making a move on total strangers for a fun hook-up, but this was different, oh so very different. He didn’t just want a decent fuck and leave. This was serious, because he wanted Nanami in his life. Permanently, if possible.
He wanted to be with Nanami. He wanted to touch and kiss and hug him. He wanted to fall asleep next to him in the evening and wake up to him in the morning. He wanted to have breakfast and lunch and dinner with him. He wanted him to have a place at their table and on their couch and in his bed. He wanted to love him, wanted to tell and show him. He wanted to share Megumi’s drawings and Tsumiki’s test results with him. He wanted to have pictures of all four of them to put on the wall and as wallpapers for his laptop and his phone. He wanted to be loved by him and make him happy. He wanted to bitch with him about annoying parents or teachers at his or the kids’ school. He wanted to be the reason for more of his smiles, and he wanted to be the person he could turn to when he felt down. He wanted to cheer him up and laugh with him. He wanted to watch the kids grow up with him and graduate and leave home. He wanted to grow old with him with lessening grey hair and soft stomachs.
Gojou wanted so much and had so little to give in return.
i think he asked me out indirectly????
and i might have panicked???
what did u do???
… i fled?
u stupid idiot
i cant believe u have the guts to tell me that
of all the stupid things u could have done like planting a kiss on his face u fled????
rip to me i guess
i should just dig my own grave
and i mean literally
do u have a shovel for me
otherwise i have to buy one now
pls take good care on my kids
im sure theyre going to understand my reasons in a few years
okay u calm down right fucking now
i knew ur stupid but i didnt know u were that stupid
i didnt know that as well
are u on ur way home right now
call me when ur home
he knows ur stupid so its not a lost cause
ur still the stupidest fool ive ever met
i still love u tho
ur too kind to me (TｖT)
He didn’t know how, but he didn’t have to call Shoko when they reached their flat, because she waited for him at the doorstep. His heart sank. It seemed like he fucked up pretty badly, huh? And to make his humiliation complete, she wasn’t alone, but brought her girlfriend along.
The kids were excited about this surprise visit, but all Gojou could think about was the place to dig his grave. The pitying looks he got from the women told him that he had to look like shit, fueling his desire to bury himself alive.
They decided that his best course was probably to act like nothing had happened and gain momentum and courage to make his move. In theory it sounded reasonable and easy, but practise told a totally different story. He didn’t know he was such a loser.
i cant do this
he asked the kids about their plans for dinner and i panicked
im so pathetic
he wasnt even talking to me
he wasnt talking to u??
not like that
pretty normally actually
but he asked the kids about dinner and i
utahime says ur a fool
i did it again
its just a matter of time until he thinks im weird
sry to shatter ur illusions but u are the weirdest person i know
and i know a lot of weird people
ur still my fav
u fled again??
what should we do with u???
he implied sharing a bed together after i implied living together
u 2 are so stupid omg
also ur baker is one sly dog
are u sure he isnt as stupid as u
He felt like the most miserable person on earth, and even his kids were sending him worried looks now. It was Sunday evening, and he had spent the whole week fleeing from Nanami at the tiniest implication of a flirt. He didn’t know he was that self-sabotaging. He stared at his phone and wondered if he should simply ask Nanami out via text message. He already had the chat open which was a huge step for him in regards to his intentions, when suddenly a new message popped up in said chat. He nearly jumped to the ceiling. What kind of telepathy shit was this?
His heart dropped to the floor, when he read the message. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He could do this and pretend to be his usual cheery self.
Can we talk?
finally youre texting me first and its with such an ominous message
is everything okay?
Do you have time tomorrow?
okay that doesnt really sound okay
for how long do you have to go into hiding
what do u need
i have contacts all over the country
and some even outside if you have to leave japan
I’m not leaving the country, Gojou-san. I just want to talk.
that still sounds serious
It kind of is.
ill organise a babysitter and come by when u close the bakery
He texted his babysitter and lay wide awake the whole night. Would Nanami finally tell him to stop coming, because he had enough of him? That thought alone was ridiculous, Nanami wasn’t that kind of person, but Gojou still worried terribly, thinking up scenarios in his head, one worse than the next.
The morning was awkward. He contemplated sending off Tsumiki alone, but reached the conclusion that he wasn’t that pathetic and would try avoiding Nanami.
Nanami smiled at him reassuringly, but it didn’t ease any of the many knots inside his stomach. This was going to be a very long day.
The afternoon was awkward as well. He had one or three cups of the black coffee too many from the cheap vending machine at school, giving him heartburn. The irony of fate was a bitch. He just collected his kids and dropped by a pharmacy on the way home. How nice it would be to get some medicine to smooth down the rough edges of his relationship with Nanami.
To say the talk with Nanami didn’t go according to his worst imagination put it very mildly. Who would have thought he entered the bakery with the heaviest of hearts and left with the lightest one again?
He was never early. Never. Still here he was, ten minutes before six p.m. and, of course, Nanami hadn’t closed the bakery for the day. He watched the lights inside from the corner of the street, deliberating if he should just go inside already. He decided against it, and his nerves were killing him. The babysitter for the kids, a nice university student, had taken one look at him and asked if he was okay. Gojou had laughed it off, of course, although he really, really wasn’t okay.
For the whole day and the past week he hadn’t felt like himself, more like he was looking upon himself from the outside with no control of his actions and feelings. And it wasn’t just the past day or the past week, it had actually been the past months as well. He was feeling things he had never felt before, he did things he had never done before, he said things he had never said before, he thought of things he had never thought of before, he imagined things he had never imagined before.
It was kinda like when the kids had entered his life, because suddenly his past life hadn’t existed anymore. There had been a new life right in front of him, and he had taken the chance. The same was when he decided to drop out of university, even if it wasn’t forever. There had been moments in his life when things suddenly changed and turned upside down, moments when suddenly nothing was like before, and that had been terrifying, although he had been looking forward to doing what he loved or giving the kids the love they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. But still, the first days and weeks and months had been terrifying, and he had laid in his bed some nights, thinking he couldn’t do it. But then morning came and somehow he could, because he was greeted with two big smiles or challenges he wanted to take on.
Somehow the day he saw the sign of the bakery from the corner of his eyes in the heavy rain with his kids under his arms had been one of those life-changing moments. So of course, it was terrifying, but it was also so damn good. He liked Nanami, was in love with him, loved him even, he really did, and it was a new experience for him, because he had never met a person who evoked these kinds of feelings in him. He loved his jobs and his students, but it was different. He loved his kids with all his heart, but it was still different. He loved Nanami with an equal intensity, with a want and need to keep him in his life.
And he felt like he was going to lose that tonight. Because he loved his job, he was motivated to keep moving forward even when he met obstacles. Because he loved his kids, the kids got to love him, craving the love he had to give freely. It was all hard work, but he had a lot of control over the situations. With Nanami it didn’t feel like that. Nanami couldn’t be swayed with willpower and sweet words, although Gojou had tried. Desperately.
Somehow his nerves calmed down. He had been terrified before, but he knew that fear wasn’t always bad. When things seemed dark and sour, there was always light and sweetness. He was optimistic like that, although he sometimes seemed to forget in the heat of the moment (or the week).
Although the lights had been turned off, it wasn’t altogether dark in the bakery. Although it had been closed off for the day, there was still the lingering smell of sweets and bread in the air. And now Nanami was waiting for him, and somehow things would decide one way or another.
Through the windows Gojou saw Nanami cleaning the counter, when he knocked. His grin felt mostly easy and his voice was mostly steady, when he greeted Nanami. He could do this, change was nothing to be afraid of. He accepted the coffee Nanami offered him, although he really shouldn’t, thinking about the many black coffees he had knocked down over the day, but the medicine had soothed his stomach, and he could use something sweet and delicious and familiar right now.
He didn’t try to, but he watched Nanami prepare the coffee, untie his apron and sit down opposite of him. The silence was tense and awkward, and Gojou, talking disaster that he was, had to break it, “So, you wanted to talk?” Even to his ears that were used to all the bullshit that could leave his mouth it sounded like an eleven of an awkward scale from one to ten.
“Yes,” Nanami said, seemingly untouched by the awkwardness. Gojou prepared himself for the coming blow, however it would come, and was about to take a sip of his coffee to distract himself from the worms in his stomach, but nothing could have prepared him for or distracted him from Nanami’s next words. “Would you like to go out with me?”
The coffee took the wrong way, leaving Gojou choking and coughing. He had to misheard him, right? Right? Right?
“Are you okay?” Nanami looked guilty, but otherwise unfazed. Gojou had to misheard him.
“Yeah, sorry about that.” He took a breath, swallowed, but was unable to meet Nanami’s face, much less his eyes, for more than a second. His mind was white noise, and he could hear the rushing of the blood in his veins. “I’m not sure I caught that correctly,” Gojou added feebly. He urged himself to catch every word from Nanami.
“I want to know if you are interested in me.” There was a pause, and those words still made no sense to Gojou. “Romantically.”
What did this even mean? “Romantically,” Gojou repeated, thinking if the word could have another meaning to Nanami. He felt the humiliating burn in his cheeks and tried to hide them. There was no other meaning for that word in this context, right? They weren’t talking about romanticism, right?
“You see,” Nanami continued, and Gojou wondered where he got that strength from. “I like you, and I’ve been wondering if perhaps you feel the same.”
This had to be the most ridiculous situation he had ever been in. It had to. Nothing could top that. Nanami was wondering if Gojou who had been head over heels since their first meeting, who had used all his flirting experience, who had watched and looked and watched some more, who got weak knees from a soft smile and a racing heart from a raised brow - Nanami was wondering if this Gojou liked him, no shit.
“I don’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable,” Nanami started, and Gojou realised he had been staring without saying anything.
“It’s not like that!” he interrupted him, maybe a little bit too loud. His cheeks burned as well as his ears and neck and fingers. Those were new, and Gojou felt like passing out. He needed to calm the fuck down and clear up any kind of possible misunderstanding that could occur between them right now.
“You always say that I’m annoying.” He didn’t know that voice, but it left his mouth, so it had to be his.
“Oh, you are.” Nanami laughed, and Gojou’s heart sank, unable to hold the pained noise inside. “You can be a real pain in the ass, getting on my nerves and enjoying every second of it.” (Guilty, Gojou thought not quite guiltily.) “But I’m not really bothered by it? I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense, but I tend to enjoy our bantering quite a lot actually.”
This couldn’t be real. “I have not one, but two kids.”
Gojou could see the confusion on Nanami’s face. “I’m aware of this? I-” He couldn’t let him finish, though.
“I’m a man.”
“I’m aware of this as well?” The level of confusion rose higher and higher, and Gojou saw it all clearly, as if in slow-motion. The furrowing of his brows, the pressed line of his lips, the angular change of his head.
“I’m older than you.”
“But one year, don’t be too dramatic-”
“We don’t really know each other.”
“I believe I know you well enough to start-”
“We haven’t really met outside this bakery.”
“Yes, but I want to change that, actually.”
There was a smile on Nanami’s face, how could he smile right now? Gojou’s heart and mind were racing. How could he make Nanami see? What did he want him to see, really? Why did he try to make Nanami see that this was a bad idea, that Gojou was a bad idea? Why was he a self-sabotaging bastard? Why was he like that, and why couldn’t he just stop already? The words spilled uncontrollably, and Gojou couldn’t interpret the disbelieving look on Nanami’s face.
“We’re both very busy with work. I can neither cook nor bake. We live in totally different parts of the city. I haven’t dated anyone in the past five years. I’m taller than you. I have no extra futon that would fit your size. I-”
“Stop.” Thank god, this was as embarrassing as humiliating, and he wanted the earth to open up and swallow him whole. “I don’t understand what you are trying to tell me, Gojou-san. If you’re not interested, please just say so. You don’t have to make excuses.”
He felt like crying, like actually crying, because of how unfair this all was. Fortunately he had his stupid-ass sunglasses on. “It’s not like that.” Why didn’t Nanami understand? Gojou was tense as a bow, ready to snap. He put his hands on the table, ignoring the tremble. This wasn’t fair.
“I don’t what to pressure-”
“It’s not like that either.” But what was it like, then? Gojou felt like he didn’t even know anymore. Defeated, he asked, “Are you not bothered by it?”
“Bothered by what? What do you mean?”
How can he be real? “Do you mean it?”
“Can you please be a little more specific?”
How can he be so perfect? “Do you mean everything you’ve said so far?”
There was frustration but not impatience in Nanami’s voice, when he said, “Of course!” He breathed in, and Gojou wondered what he did to deserve this. “I’m sorry,” Nanami continued, and Gojou wasn’t really listening, reaching a final decision, “but I don’t think this talk is going anywhere. If you need time-”
“Ilikeyoutoo!” Oh god, this was the worst confession ever. If he wanted the earth to swallow him whole before, he now wanted to jump into a black hole and vanish without leaving a trace behind. He hid his face, nobody should bear this disaster.
Oh god, and now he even had to repeat it! “I said.” This was the worst.” I like you, too.” This was the worst. “I thought it was obvious.” This was the worst.
“Okay. Okay, that’s good, I guess.”
This was by far the worst and the most ridiculous situation. Nanami stared at him, unfazed despite everything, and Gojou wanted to look away, wanted to hide behind his hands forever, but couldn’t, because Nanami was staring at him, brows raised high and mouth slack. Maybe this was more ridiculous than worse, Gojou thought and laughed, unable to suppress the hysterical edge. “Why aren’t you freaking out?”
“Why should I,” Nanami started, then blinked once, twice. “Well, actually, I am. A bit. Probably.” Oh god, he was rambling! “It seemed, uhm, I didn’t think this through?” Ugh, why did he have to run his hand through his hair right now, drawing his attention unwillingly to his arms? “Are you,” Nanami was talking, talking to him, and Gojou had to pay more attention here. “Are you interested in a, uhm, relationship?” A pause. “With me?” That cringe had to be the hottest thing he ever laid eyes upon, which was ridiculous, because Nanami’s forearms existed in the same universe.
And suddenly the tension was gone, and Gojou laughed easily like he hadn’t in the past week. “Yes. If you have me.”
Nanami smiled, and although Gojou was sitting, his knees weakened. “I intend to.”
“Good,” Gojou said faintly.
“Good, indeed.” But Nanami’s voice wasn’t any better. This wasn’t fair, how should he survive this, whatever they had right now?
“How about I invite you over for dinner on Friday?” Nanami asked after some moments of tingling silence.
“Asking directly now, are we?” Gojou grinned, feeling very light-hearted and daring.
“I haven’t asked you indirectly before, though?”
“Are you so sure about it?”
“Maybe we should discuss this on Friday in more detail.”
“Maybe we should.” Gojou felt his grin softening. This was really happening, right? He wouldn’t wake up any minute in his bed, cold and lonely, right? “I have to talk to my babysitter first, though.”
“You can bring the kids, I wouldn’t mind.” How was he real, and how was Gojou able to earn his affections?
“I know that, and I appreciate that, really,” Gojou said, giving his grin a flirtatious edge. “But it wouldn’t set the right mood for a first date, would it?”
He saw the gears working in Nanami’s head. “Maybe,” he said then, “we should reschedule and eat dinner at a restaurant rather than a home-cooked meal at my flat.”
He couldn’t be real with how ridiculously perfect he was. Gojou smiled wider and shook his head, marvelling at the sight before him. “No, I think a home-cooked meal is the perfect first date.” He grinned teasingly and added, “If the cooking is good, at least.”
“I think I’ll manage,” Nanami answered with a sharp, disarming grin of his own. Oh, he was such a lost cause, hopelessly and helplessly in love. His burning cheeks were still embarrassing, but he didn’t have the need to hide them immediately anymore, not if Nanami looked so pleased with himself. Cheeky bastard. “Will you tell me your least favourite dish, so I can avoid it?”
So he did remember, huh? “I’m not really a picky eater,” Gojou said, and he wanted Nanami to always look at him that way. “I’m not too fond of spicy food, though. My tongue is very sensitive.” This sounded more suggestive than he intended, Gojou thought innocently, but it wasn’t something he couldn’t handle.
“Who would have thought?”
And Gojou miscalculated. He was a math teacher, for fuck’s sake, he didn’t miscalculate, but he saw Nanami’s eyes tracing down to his lips, and that action alone was enough to make him swallow in anticipation, but the sight of Nanami’s tongue, sticking out just a tiny bit to lick his lips was too much for Gojou.
“Okay, that’s enough,” he said, shifting in his seat and lifting his hands in defeat, and Nanami had the grace to look truly mortified. Didn’t he do that intentionally? That thought was doing things to Gojou, but he was immediately distracted by the heat rising up Nanami’s neck.
He couldn’t help the pleased sigh that escaped his lips along with a breathless, “Finally.” He wanted to memorise it by sight and touch and taste, and he could, couldn’t he? He stretched out his hands, hesitated just shortly, before his knuckles finally, finally brushed against Nanami’s flushed cheek. “That’s a very good colour on you, Nanami.” It was a glorious, addicting feeling, and he wanted more, more, more-
“That’s really enough.” Nanami’s voice, rough and low, should be illegal.
“Yeah,” Gojou breathed, grinning and giddy. “I agree.” They were close, so, so close, he could just- He stopped that chain of thoughts and leant casually back into his seat. Friday it would be. Probably. He didn’t want to pressure Nanami into something he wasn’t ready for, although he didn’t look too opposed right now either, but he drew a line here that Gojou was going to respect.
Nanami cleared his throat and said, “Could you leave your sunglasses at home on Friday?”
Gojou grinned mischievously. “I could.”
Gojou hummed, pretending to think about his answer. “I’ll think about it.”
Nanami rolled his eyes, relaxing. “Do that,” he said nonchalantly, “But don’t forget to take all the advantages into account.”
“For example?” Gojou grinned wider.
Now it was Nanami’s turn to hum and pretend to think. Smiling, he finally said, “I can think of a few.”
Gojou’s heart skipped a beat delightedly. Who would have thought that their teasing banter could become even better, if they were both on the same page?
He took a cookie and bit into it, while glancing at his watch. “Unfortunately, I promised my babysitter to not take too long on such a short notice, meaning I have to leave soon.”
“Unfortunately, the bakery doesn’t clean itself. Also I have to prepare the dough for tomorrow.”
None of them moved to stand up, though.
“I’d offer to help, but I’m good at neither cleaning nor baking and I am running out of time.”
“Too bad, though.” Nanami smiled. “There are things I could teach you.”
“Oh, I’m sure of it.” For example, being a tease without aiming for. They were very different in this aspect, and Gojou loved it.
“Is it too early to offer baking lessons?” Nanami raised an eyebrow.
“Probably, but I don’t mind.” Gojou winked. “I’m that unconventional.”
“Don’t get too full of yourself.”
“Sorry, but no matter what you say now, I know you like it.”
Nanami sighed with a fond smile. “That I do.”
And Gojou’s heart melted into a puddle.
He took another cookie. Now that the tension of the day had fallen off of him completely, his body craved sugar (and probably the touch of a certain someone). “As much as I’d love to hear you gushing over me more, I really have to go now to catch my subway.” Regrettably, he stood up and Nanami followed suit.
“Get home safely,” Nanami said, when they were at the door. “Goodnight, Gojou-san.”
“I wish you a good night, Nanami,” Gojou said and who was he to resistent the temptation. “Dream of me.”
“I might.” Nanami chuckled, cheeks flushing slightly.
Gojou stared, not wanting to go, memorising this moment in his mind, feeling the same heat on his face, unable to decide whether Nanami was serious or not, but that was okay, because both were the right answer.
“Goodnight, Gojou-san,” Nanami said again.
“Goodnight, Nanami,” Gojou said and left with the lightest of hearts.
i cant believe that just happened
im not dreaming am i
pls tell me im not dreaming
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to Friday.
yes me too!!!!!
see ya tomorrow tho ♡♡♡
i have a date!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
it took u long enough
utahime says u should introduce us now properly
its only the first date (/∇＼*)♡♡♡
we dont know about u but we already hear the wedding bells
Friday couldn’t come early enough, but suddenly it was Friday afternoon, and Gojou couldn’t for the love of god sit still for more than one minute.
“You’re so annoying, dad!” The kids lay on the floor, drawing. They were waiting for Satsuki, their babysitter, who should be there any second now. What if something came up and she couldn’t look after his kids? He was sure Nanami would understand, but Gojou had been looking forward to his day since Monday, and he wasn’t the most patient person.
“I can’t believe you’re going to Nanami-san without us.” Both had whined when he told them, because he couldn’t lie to them, at least not too much. Tsukimi had been very loud about her complaints, but grew tired of it very quickly. She couldn’t carry grudges for too long in contrast to Megumi. Gojou prepared himself for a sulking boy for at least the whole weekend.
Gojou was glad they hadn’t initiated the husband topic again. It would drive him even more crazy right now, having to explain the meaning behind seeing Nanami on a Friday evening to his kids. He didn’t want to keep it a secret, but his nerves couldn’t handle that right now. Besides, he had to talk to Nanami about it, first. This wasn’t only his decision anymore.
The doorbell rang, and Satsuki came. She took one look at him, she just was like that, and gave him a thumb up as well as an inappropriate wink. Gojou thought it hilarious, but was actually relieved at getting some kind of approval. He tried to dress casually but also appropriate for the occasion. Because of that, his bedroom looked as though a bomb had been dropped. But that didn’t matter now, because he had to get going now.
He said goodbye to the kids, receiving one well-wishing and one reluctant kiss, and he was on his way. Before getting to Nanami’s flat, though, he would drop by the flower shop he had called on Tuesday morning to pick up his ordered bouquet.
The evening had been perfect.
He swept Nanami off his feet without his sunglasses. Nanami put the bouquet on the dinner table next to the candles. Nanami had to be the cutest tease ever, and openly flirting with him and being flirted with in return put Gojou on high clouds. The food was delicious. They talked and talked and talked some more, never shy of a new topic, and they had as many things in common as in difference. It was so much fun, listening to Nanami, watching him while he talked and listened and reacted, face much softer in the warm candle light. Gojou’s heart beat the whole time a bit faster than normal, not uncomfortably so, but in excitement and anticipation and happiness. (Maybe, but just maybe nerves as well.)
Nanami was a gracious, unjudging host, bringing him an extra glass and water he hadn’t even asked for. They didn’t just talk about interests and jobs and the kids, but also shared insecurities and wore their hearts on their sleeves. It was terrific and intimate, and Gojou loved how serious Nanami was about them, because he felt the same. Gojou reached out, and Nanami answered without hesitation.
They did the dishes together in Nanami’s small kitchen which was so domestic that Gojou thought he might pass out or drop a plate. Nanami proposed to walk him home in the smoothest way. It was so maddingly romantic, and Gojou loved every part of it. There was the rush again, the rush of falling again, and being together with Nanami was like the tide, falling in love again and again, over and over, unstoppable, falling deeper and deeper without ever reaching the bottom, unscared.
The only thing not perfect about the evening was that it had to end, but even that happened perfectly.
They were that kind of ridiculous, holding their respective coats and jackets out to each other to put on, and if someone’s hand lingered a little bit too long, nobody said anything about it. They held hands and had no problems finding a walking rhythm, deliberately brushing their arms and shoulders together more than once. Nanami’s hand in his was warm and not simply there, but actually holding on to him. Gojou had never felt more blessed before.
Nanami’s lips on his were soft and chaste and everything Gojou ever wanted. All of his past relationships and non-relationships had been built solely on physical need and want, and Gojou felt that with Nanami as well with the exception of not solely. He wanted everything from Nanami, everything Nanami was willing to give and everything Nanami was willing to take. He didn’t regret the ending of the kiss, didn’t carve more or less, because it had been one perfect kiss on one perfect evening with one perfect man. His heart had fluttered countless times, but it beat on calmly, when Nanami kissed him. (That was a lie, though, because holy fuck, Nanami was kissing him! His heart had either stopped or beat so fast that he wasn’t able to differentiate between the beats anymore. This had to be the highest of heights!)
They lingered closely without kissing a second time. Nanami had a wonderful blush on his cheeks as well as a wide smile on his lips, and Gojou hoped to show even a portion of the affection that swelled inside his chest on his face. He felt so happy and content and at ease.
“Goodnight, Gojou-san,” Nanami said, not stepping away.
“Goodnight, Nanami,” Gojou answered, not stepping away either.
They still had some more minutes, and Gojou fell in love all over again.