Jack Rabbit Heart - Sanemi/Uzui [4/4]
A usual for them; Uzui lording over his height, knowing how much of a sore spot it had been for him now that Genya had shot up. Sanemi rolled his shoulders, ready to snark at him, and begin their old song and dance.
Only, Uzui had to go and tip his head down and chase the taste of sweet wine on Sanemi’s tongue.
3 Times Uzui kisses Sanemi, and 1 Time Sanemi kisses Uzui.
AO3 | 1| 2| 3 | HERE
Sanemi had gone in circles. Doubling back, cutting across, looping and looping and winding up to the one answer he mentally kept skirting around: He liked Tengen.
He liked Tengen.
Enough to be soft and panicky deep inside. Enough to try to sear the phantom feel of his touch to memory; to wake up half delirious chasing words he could see forming in dreams but eluded his ears. Not enough, though, to actually man up and say anything.
Worse, he thought, was how Tengen didn't seem affected. He joked and smiled and laughed like nothing. Like kissing Sanemi wasn't anything important. Tengen was flirtatious by nature, but he was never one to settle down. Too quick to pin down, too flighty to know the touch of the earth under his heels. Sanemi more than once snapped his pen in half, peeved at the thought.
It was a foreign concept at times where his feelings had come from. So strange to wake up one day and suddenly have a head and heart full of someone he'd known for the better part of his life. He'd told himself he'd never thought of Tengen that way.
He scoured his memories trying to pick apart every detail, every touch, every feeling that might have laid there. He tried failingly to convince himself there wasn't anything to his feelings. No pennies at the bottom of a well, filling up so slowly, so surely that they'd come spilling out over the stone sides.
It had been so gradual, he hadn't even realized how far gone he'd become. He hadn't fallen from the beginning, that much he knew. He'd always had his eyes on Tengen but it was only in recent years, through recent fuck ups and victories that it had shifted.
The first time Tengen had turned his pretty wine-red gaze at him, the way his fingers swept his fringes from his face. The first time he'd said Sanemi's name wrong. The first time he'd said Sanemi's name right.
The hand that grabbed at the back of his shirt when he'd punched Akaza on Kyojuro's behalf. The wobbly curve of Tengen's mouth when his father had coldly laid dying in his bed, as proud and untouchable as he'd always been. Tengen coming to Genya's soccer game. Tengen and Kyojuro and Giyuu wishing his mother a happy Mother's Day. Tengen sleepily quizzing him, sitting with him, laughing with him.
Tengen's need to be curled so close, no space between them. Like he craved touch, latching onto it with greedy hands.
It wasn’t even that Sanemi was special for it. He was this way with all of them. Tengen was handsy. Always had been. Had grown up yearning for warmth in that big, frigid mansion of his. He'd always sat halfway into Kyojuro's lap most times when they were together. Despite how funny Giyuu could be, the same as Tengen really just different ends of the same ruler, Tengen brought out the greedy side in him. Giyuu might even lean against him some days, silently reading his trash novels.
Four dumbasses with a load of issues. If Sanemi could put it mildly.
So, no. Sanemi didn't want to say anything. Didn't want to be the fool that got the signals wrong. It wasn't Tengen's fault that he'd gone and caught feelings. Sanemi knew all that but damn was he an idiot.
Three days later, Giyuu had finally piped up. "Are you mad at Uzui?"
Sanemi snorted. "No more than usual."
"But you're upset."
Sanemi grumbled. Tengen rarely washed dishes, his clothes never fully stayed in their hamper, and his makeup was usually cluttering the bathroom counter. Nothing new, same old grievances.
"It's his turn to scrub the pots," He said lamely.
Giyuu dragged his gaze to him away from his laptop. It was flatter than usual. Sanemi didn’t think he was much of an expert in decoding Giyuu’s stoic faces but this one seemed close to exasperated. "You should tell him."
Sanemi nearly choked.
Giyuu raised a brow. His mouth quirked just a little to the side. "To wash the pots. He won't know if you don't say so."
"I shouldn't have to. He...knows."
Giyuu shrugged. "True, but Uzui can be a little air-headed, too."
Sanemi begrudgingly agreed.
Sanemi hadn’t known Uzui to be the quiet type. He could keep quiet if he needed to, but it wasn’t exactly in his nature. So it was odd that Uzui was so pensive now. He let Uzui be for the first week. He had figured he needed a moment to deal with himself; to deal with whatever was clearly distressing him. But by the second week, his makeup was starting to look horrible. He was taking far less pains to wing his liner and blend out his eyeshadow.
(Sanemi had gotten an entire lecture on makeup once against his will. That being said, he appreciated the hard work that could go into it. Uzui had perfected his craft. At least...on himself.)
Smudged concealer was giving way to darkened under eyes. From across the small table, Giyuu’s brows bunched together. It was bad, then, if Giyuu was so outwardly worried. Even Kyojuro wasn’t having luck riling Uzui up into a friendly competition. He just waved him off. Nail polish chipped, hair tied back, and disappeared into his room.
When week three rolled around, Sanemi had had enough. He gave one short knock before he was bursting into Uzui’s room. Uzui didn’t look surprised, but he also didn’t look like he’d had the energy for it.
All the things Sanemi had been storing inside of him to ask suddenly fell away. He looked at his friend laying listlessly on his bed, in a ratty old hoodie and dulled beyond recognition. Sanemi gripped the doorknob and set his eyes to the logo on Uzui’s hoodie.
“You hungry?” He said, instead.
Uzui dragged his eyes over to him, looking all the world like he couldn’t figure out if he wanted to answer or not. Sanemi beat him to it. He strode across the room and took Uzui by the upper arm and pulled.
“Up. We’re eating.”
He led Uzui out and pushed him into one of the chairs. He heard him slump back into it and set to cooking. No pot went unused. No meal short of perfection. Sanemi poured his all into the meal before he’d set it down in front of Uzui and then sat himself across from him.
He jutted his chin at it. “Eat.”
A beat, then a few more passed before Uzui did. He ate almost begrudgingly. Eat bite a little more harsh than necessary. Until halfway through one dish, he seemed to thaw. Little by little the rigid line in his shoulder gave way. Uzui unwound. He was halfway through the third when he stopped.
Uzui’s mouth took a harsh, straight line. “My father is dying.”
Sanemi made a noise. “How long?”
“Couple months now. Found out by accident.” Uzui laughed, low and bitter. “He wasn’t going to tell any of us. Proud fucking bastard. He was just going to wither away and leave us with some, i don’t know, note or something. About who gets what and who doesn’t and why we suck.”
“I’m sorry,” Sanemi said. He was.
For as much of a bastard as Uzui’s father was, Uzui still wanted to love him. He’d talked about knowing better, admitted it was probably, definitely a giant waste. He’d still wished he could. Still wanted to. Hoping that one day, even for a brief moment, the thing he saw in Sanemi’s mom, in Rengoku’s, in Giyuu’s sister, might reflect back.
Uzui shrugged. “Another month or so.”
Sanemi knew none of Uzui’s siblings would reach out. He hoped but realistically they both knew better. A feeling between a stomach ache and anger overcame him. Too angry to form words and queasy with the thought of how alone his friend must feel.
Sanemi didn’t miss a rat bastard hair on his father’s head. But he’d had his siblings and his mother. When he got too close to wishing for a different outcome, he would turn to them.
Sanemi shoved the half-finished plate back towards Uzui, startling him.
“We’re going to go see your old man,” He said with finality. “Finish that, clean up. And we’ll. Pick a day.”
Uzui sputtered. He tried to push the plate back, only to be met with Sanemi’s glare. He glared back, then reached his chopsticks out with a grimace.
“We’re just going to show up to my shitty old man’s place? Just show up and act like he’s not going to be the biggest bastard in the world?”
“You know he is. You know he will be. But it’s not about him. It’s about you.” Sanemi stole a piece from Uzui’s plate. He slid piece after piece out of his chopsticks’ grip, watching in his periphery as a flush of life returned to his cheeks. “Even if he doesn’t care, say what you need to. Say goodbye.”
Sanemi had seen Uzui’s father exactly three times in their whole time of knowing each other. He stood so tall, all but his eyes seemed to pierce over the frosty summit of his shoulders. Here and now, it was odd to see him at eye level. He held himself the same. It didn’t matter how far he’d come plummeting, the frigid air about him remained the same, as if he’d never left the sky he’d pierced.
He looked at Uzui like one might look at a fly. An invasive little creature, full of noise and annoyance. He said nothing. He looked at his son. He looked beyond him, maybe, and said nothing.
“...Well, old man,” Uzui said, an almost imperceptible tremble in his voice. “I’ll -- see you later.”
His father seemed to scoff, though his mouth remained closed. He rolled his eyes and looked to the bleak white wall to the side.
Sanemi took Tengen by the ends of his sleeve and pulled him towards him. He pulled until they were out of the room and the mansion, and the property. The frost falling away from their shoulders and into the falling sunset.
Sanemi walked close to Tengen, letting their bodies bump together as they made their way home.
“...Thanks.” Tengen said.
“Don’t sweat it.”
Tengen bumped into him, leaning a little too much of his weight on him and smiled. Sanemi smiled back.
Kyojuro spilled sake all over Tengen’s lap. It splashed across onto Giyuu who knocked into Sanemi. They sat flush and stupid together on the living room floor. Drinking and howling and laughing together. At all sides there was someone pressing against Tengen.
Sanemi could remember the way Tengen had thrown back his head, laughing with his whole body. He leaned back against the couch, just out of harm's way of Giyuu reaching for Kyojuro who only laughed in response. Their eyes met, a little hazy and unfocused. Tengen’s eyes were red-rimmed but bright. He smiled wider than the drunken flush across his cheeks. He tilted his head, long white hair falling over his shoulder. He looked at Sanemi and his eyes crinkled. The smile got smaller, but no less genuine. Serene and true and wholly so pretty. He raised his mostly empty sake cup to Sanemi who raised it back.
Maybe it had been then. Maybe it had been every single before. Now it was everything after.
Kyojuro was humming, chopsticks paused in his mouth. He began eating again. Sanemi squinted at him from over his (Giyuu’s) book. He hummed again a few minutes later. Sanemi frowned.
“Thinking hard, Kyo?”
Kyojuro shrugged. “Thinking about how telephones make communicating easier but messages still manage to get lost.”
Sanemi squinted harder. “What the hell does that mean.”
Sanemi had thought him strange when they had first met. He’d been yelling delicious! behind the school during lunch when Sanemi had gone looking for somewhere quiet to eat. To his surprise, a kid who looked so well-liked and boisterous, seemed so content to be away from the noise. He couldn’t shut up for the life of him, but his company was far more enjoyable than Sanemi could realize.
He made Uzui seem grounded in the way his head sometimes seemed to orbit the Earth. He smiled more than he felt, tripped more than he should have, and kept himself inline better than most. He could stupid well, but never more than he could right himself from. It came with a level of self awareness Sanemi had come to admire. Kyojuro wore his heart on his sleeve, but he knew every curve and angle of it.
Kyojuro grinned at him. “I think,” He paused to put some more food in his mouth. “You two are idiots.”
Sanemi made an affronted noise.
Kyojuro stood and checked his phone. He grinned before going to dump his plate in the kitchen. “Tomioka and I will be out for a while.”
They were out together a lot lately, Sanemi noticed. He watched Kyojuro pull on his shoes at the door. His friend motioned his head to Uzui’s room.
“All this looking down and away isn’t helping. Even if you sound dumb, there’s no use waiting around trying to pull an answer you dont have out of half-things. You might as well go for it.” Kyojuro grinned and flashed him a thumbs-up. ““I believe in you, though. Both of you. To figure it out.”
“So, you into Tomioka or something?”
Tengen looked up from his phone. “No more than usual. Why?”
Sanemi rolled his eyes. “You kissed him like it meant something.”
Tengen raised a brow. He slid his leg off from over his other one and planted it flat to the ground. “Just a friendly smooch. Jealous?”
Sanemi bared his teeth, gritting out a, “No”.
“Good. There’s nothing to be jealous about. If I kiss Giyuu or Kyo that’s my business. I can hug and kiss who I want.”
“I didn’t say you couldn’t,” Sanemi said, defensively.
“Sure sounds like it.” Tengen twisted his mouth in an ugly frown. “What’s a little affection between friends?”
“You kiss them like you kiss me?”
Tengen looked away then, suddenly chastened. In a tiny voice he said, “No.”
“No? Whaddya mean no?”
“How it sounds, dumbass. I don’t kiss them like you. We’re just friends. You kiss your siblings all the time, why can’t I kiss them?”
“It’s different! That’s my family! Kyo and Giyuu aren’t your - Fuck.” Sanemi stopped. “Ten…”
Tengen laced his fingers together, opening them up like a book to peer at. His eyes tracked along the lines of his palms, gathering his thoughts along each curve.
“I told you that time how much I envied you, didn’t I, Sanemi? How much I wished I could be greeted the way you were when you came home. Like they couldn’t get enough of you even if they’d just seen you the day before.”
Tengen rubbed one thumb over the other. He kept his eyes resolutely down, too afraid to look up at where Sanemi’s eyes settled across him. He was keenly aware of what expression he might face, what was written across the other man’s face. Tengen set his jaw crooked, sick with his envy, with the chasm he’d cracked open with his words.
“It was a joke at first. I’d kissed Kyo when he got mad about the car. He’d waved it off and told me that it was fine. When Giyuu was making dinner that one time, I’d leaned all over him and he hadn’t even seemed bothered. I’d seen your siblings do it a thousand times with you, with Genya. The same with Senjuro, or the Kamados and Giyuu.”
“I couldn’t really stop after that and they didn’t feel weird about it so I kept going.” He looked up at Sanemi. “It was you I was…”
Sanemi grimaced. Afraid? Had Tengen been afraid? Tengen was rarely ever so vulnerable. Even if he might have been intimidated, he’d forged forward despite all that. Sanemi’s eyes widened a bit in realization.
The stupid part of Sanemi’s brain spoke first.
“Since when are you such chicken shit?”
Tengen’s eyes flashed, shoulders drawn up to his ears but looking like he wanted to dive right at him.
“You wanted all that with me? Maybe I wanted that too,” Sanemi groused. Tengen pointed a harsh, disbelieving finger.
“I didn’t think you felt the same, stupid! I went and made it all weird when I caved and kissed you that one time, what was I supposed to do?”
“Say something, asshole! Anything. I had no idea what you were thinking. I thought you were just messing around!”
“I had know idea what you were thinking, either! You looked so weirded out by it, I thought I’d ruined everything.”
“Asshole, that’s what I thought!”
“I’ve been wanting to hold your stupid hand and kiss your stupid face for years!”
“Turns out I did, too, asshole!”
A beat passed. Sanemi grew fed up and strode across the room towards Tengen. They stared at each other a while, not moving, not crossing the tiny invisible barrier keeping them apart. Sanemi’s hand shot out, faster than even Tengen could track.
“You fucker,” Sanemi said. He hooked a finger into Tengen’s choker and yanked him down. He stood firm when he collided into him, and kissed him with all the frustration and want he’d been piling up for gods knew how long.
He kissed harshly and wild, a windstorm, a stake, and dared Tengen to push back. Tengen hesitated, just a second, before he was settling a hand to Sanemi’s shoulder. He slid it over the curve of his neck, long fingers pressed into the pulse point. Then it traveled along the wide expanse of his back and pulled them flushed together.
When Sanemi finally had to come up for air, he did it with reluctance. For once, Tengen had nothing to say. He looked at Sanemi like all the words he could say too jumbled up inside of him to come out making sense. Snaemi snorted, and allowed himself to smile shyly.
“We’re idiots,” Tengen settled on.
“Big, fucking idiots.”
“I’m in love with your stupid ass.”
Sanemi knocked his forehead lightly against Tengen’s chin. He placed a kiss just under it. “Me, too.”
Tengen shuffled uneasily from foot to foot. “Are you going to make me stop being affectionate with Kyo and Giyuu?”
Sanemi shook his head. “No. I wouldn’t do that to you. Just make sure I get first, though. I refuse to lose to Tomioka.”
Tengen lightly punched him in the arm. He fell over against Sanemi, arms lazily looped around his shoulders and pressed his nose into the side of his neck.
“Yeah, I can do that.”
Giyuu blanched on his way out of the kitchen. "Can you two not makeout on the dining table? We eat there."
AN: a long ride but here we are at the end.
i started it thinking "lol ill just make an uzusane fic for fun" and ended up going, "what if i explored a bit of that fine line between friends and romantic partners because i also have a bit of a messy head distinguishing the two at times. how do you know which is which sometimes."
don't think its that well executed but its been a lot more fun to write than i anticipated.
biggest of all thanks to @cldreality as always for being a great person to bounce ideas off of and understanding my mishmash of thoughts.
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