Actions

Work Header

Carnation

Chapter Text

A whole day to prepare for...whatever was coming tomorrow.

Shinada sighed, leaning back against the closest wall and dragging his hands down his face. He'd already gone and visited Daigo in the hospital, so that killed some time at least. His heart fluttered for a moment, cheeks flushing as he smiled at his shoes. He was definitely growing more smitten by the minute.

It had been...nearly nineteen or so years since he was in Tokyo.

"Fuck," he breathed out at the thought. God, I’m getting old.

After being scouted for the Wyverns, he only really visited home during the holidays or for his birthday, a week in the summer maybe. And of course, never to Kamurocho. Kamurocho in the 90s was...cool and kinda edgy.

Or at least, that had been his view of it. He was neither of those things.

With another sigh, he shifted and started to walk along the the street, hands shoved in his pockets. Might as well wander and see where his feet would take him...

Wonder if I had come here when I was younger. Would I have ran into Dojima-kun?

He smiled at the thought. Who knows whether anything would have happened - even now, accepting his attraction, he still felt a little of that self-loathing that had burned strong in his teens and twenties.

He scrunched his eyes shut. Not the time for that now Tatsuo-

"Wmph!"

Of course he wasn't looking where he was going. Shinada slammed into the other person, an older woman with her hair tied in a sensible bun, flailing his arms about to keep balance and not completely crush her. She still fell backwards, the shopping bags she'd been carrying spilling their contents.

"Ah, jeez, sorry ma'am."

He fell to his knees, hurriedly grabbing the items before they were trampled by other passersby. He paused for a moment, realising he was grabbing a pair of men's pyjamas on one hand, and a pack of boxer briefs in the other. Ah. Awkward...

"No, it's fine, it's fine..."

The woman grumbled, snatching away the clothes and stuffing them back into her shopping bags.
Shinada flashed a sheepish grin, getting back to his feet and offering out a hand. The woman glared for a moment, but her face softened, taking his hand and allowing herself to be pulled back up.

"Sorry again, ma'am," Shinada said immediately, bowing his head.

"No, I should have been looking where I was going too."

Now able to see her closely, there was something so...familiar about her, the way her brow knitted together especially, like he'd seen it before already.

She was also very pretty, the exact type of 'mature woman' Shinada swooned for.

But y'know. Sort of in the starts of a relationship or something.

Regardless, there was something a little sad and distant in her eyes as she checked through her bags once more with a sigh.

"Uh, I'm Shinada, by the way," he said, beaming.

She paused, head tilted downwards slightly as she looked him over, making him realise how scruffy he looked compared to her smart sweater and skirt.

There was deliberate hesitation before she spoke again. "...Yayoi. You may call me Yayoi, young man."

"Okay. Well...I'm sorry again, Yayoi-san."

Shinada bowed deeply and let her walk past, which she did with a polite smile and nod of her head. He couldn't shake the feeling that something bad had happened to the poor woman...but it was hardly his place to intrude.

A few hours passed. Shinada just wandered about the city a little longer, dipped back into New Serena upon a text from Akiyama saying he was going to order them some Chinese food (like hell he was passing up a free meal) before he found himself on the streets again.

Under Saejima's recommendation, he went to the drug store and grabbed a few Tauriners and Staminans. ("They'll be very useful, trust me.")

He stuffed most of them into his jacket pockets, though slowly drank one of the Tauriners as he walked back towards New Serena. He'd eaten a lot of Chinese food, felt a bit of a stomach-ache coming on, so curling up to sleep on the couch sounded like the best thing right now.

Only...

"Hm?"

Some arguing from the closest street. A few typical looking thugs, and...

Yayoi-san?

The four young guys had managed to corner her against the wall, blocking her from really escaping.
"C'mon lady, we ain't asking for much," one of them cried with a smirk, "We're just asking for a little compensation."

Yayoi, to her credit, simply looked at the youths with disinterest.
"I hardly brushed you," she said, nose wrinkling and brow furrowing in that oh-so painfully familiar way, "Now, go away."

"Not like you can pretend you don't have the cash on ya," another one chimed in, even reaching out to cup under her chin, "That bag's designer, right? And those clothes you got ain't exactly from the thrift store."

Something flashed in Yayoi's eyes as she lunged out a hand, swinging a punch right in the guy's face.
Shinada let out a small "oohh". That looked like it hurt!

"You lil' bitch-"

The guy had whipped out a knife.

Whelp. Time I stepped in.

"Oi! You lot!"

The four boys turned as Shinada jogged over, rummaging about inside his jacket.

"The hell you want geezer? She your girlfriend or something?"

"Man, I should be so lucky!" Shinada scoffed, glancing to his side at Yayoi. She gave a slight look of annoyed relief back. "Nah, I'm just here to ask you to move on. Didn't your mommies teach you any manners?"

"Hey, the old bat walked into us," one of them said, pointing accusingly at Yayoi, "Ain't nothing to do with you geezer, fuck off."

"Unless you wanna pay up instead," the guy with the knife said, pointing it in Shinada's direction instead, "C'mon. You wanna play hero? Let's go."

Shinada raised a brow, then shrugged, feeling his fingers wrap around the handle of exactly what he'd been checking for in his jacket. "Fine by me."

Knife-guy lunged forward, weapon aimed right for Shinada's stomach, but he was immediately blocked by Shinada whipping out his own (and far more impressive looking) knife. The younger guy's eyes went wide for a second, having clearly not anticipated this turn of events.

"Lemme show you how you wield one of these bad boys," Shinada said, starting a flurry move of jabbing his blade in the other guy's direction.
Obviously, he wasn't looking to actually stab the idiot - just scare him. The most he cut was the punk's clothes, slight scratches of blood maybe seeping through.

Satisfied he'd intimidated him enough, Shinada switched his blade into his non-dominant hand and swung with his other, sending the guy flying.

He slipped the knife back into the sheathe inside his jacket before turning to the other three with his fists up.

Wait, no.

The other one.

The other two were in equally crumpled piles on the floor, Yayoi in a fighting stance. Her hair fell out of place slightly and she was a little red in the face, but she swiped a swift kick at the remaining guy, the side of her heeled boot knocking into his ribs.

"What a woman," Shinada mumbled, diving in to deal a blow himself.

The remaining punk whimpered, covering his head as he gulped back tears. "Okay, okay, leave me alone!"

Shinada gave a glance to Yayoi who nodded, falling back and crossing her arms. "Then get out of here before we change our minds young man."

He nodded and ran, wailing as he did. Shinada let his shoulders relax, hand clasping against his middle.

"Urgh...cramp..."

"Thank you, Shinada." Yayoi smiled, picking up her shopping.

"Don't mention it. You're a tough lady."

"I was quite the brawler in my youth, believe it or not. I'm a little rusty though. Prefer a katana."
Shinada grinned, then let his eyes trace down to her hands.

"You're shaking."

Yayoi swallowed, gripping them close to her chest. "Adrenaline. That's all."

"...do...do you wanna go somewhere quiet?"

She paused and looked up at him, a tension releasing from her shoulders. "I...I'd like that."

Not long after, they were at Cafe Alps. Shinada ordered some tea (and a cake for himself, because he seemed to lose all sense of control when he actually had money), then sat opposite Yayoi, who was leaning forward with her hands clasped together.

"Sorry for putting you out like this," she said softly, but Shinada shook his head before she could say any more.

"You were nearly mugged and attacked. I'd feel bad if I left you alone after that!"

Their order arrived, and they fell into a rather comfortable silence as Yayoi closed her eyes and sipped her tea.

She glanced upwards as Shinada made his way through the slice of strawberry shortcake he ordered, and smiled, a relaxed one now.

"My son loves that cake. You two are probably about the same age, actually."

"Mhm?" Shinada wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, sitting up a little straighter.
He paused, head tilted. "Is...that who you bought those pyjamas and...uh, underwear for?"

Yayoi nodded, setting down her cup. "Yes. I got news that he's been admitted to hospital. I'm down as his next of kin, but I was so busy with my work that all the visiting hours were over before I got a chance to go see him." She sighed, tapping her nails against the side of the cup. "Apparently, he's rather weak right now, slipping in and out of consciousness. This isn't the first time he's had such an...accident. It's all I can think about."

"I...I know the feeling." Shinada took a gulp of his own tea, staring at his lap. "My...my friend. He's in hospital right now too. Similar sort of thing. Weak and can't stay awake for too long. The nurses said he might be better in the morning, after he's had a good rest, but...I feel guilty."

Yayoi frowned. "Why would you feel guilty?"

"Ah jeez, how to explain this..." Shinada rubbed the back of his head as he thought. He obviously couldn't tell this lady his 'friend' was actually the Sixth Chairman of the Tojo Clan. He probably couldn't even say he'd been shot; he wasn't sure how quick the rumour mill around here was.

"Basically, I was...meant to come to Tokyo with him, but I ran off and came back a few hours later. By which time, he'd gotten hurt. I just feel if I hadn't ran off, he...he might not be in hospital, that's all."

"...I see." Yayoi sighed, glancing out wistfully to the street through the window, at every passerby. "I must say, I understand to. I sometimes feel I...I should be there for my son more. He's very busy with his work, and he gets rather...into his own head. My husband died several years ago, so we're all the family we have."

She shrugged, drinking her tea again. "I know you can't exactly wrap your children up in plastic and try to protect them from everything in the world, especially in the line of work he does, but...a mother's instinct. It's very strong."

For the first time in a while, Shinada thought of his own mother, but all he felt was a slight sick feeling in the back of his throat. "Your son must be very lucky, to have a mother that cares for him so much."

Yayoi blinked, seeming to understand his implications from his words. "And if you're anything like you were today with your friend, he's very blessed to have such a loyal companion."

Shinada very quickly blushed at that compliment, just about stopping his smile turn into a full-blown beaming grin.
"Ahh...jeez, thank you Yayoi-san. I'm glad I could come across so positively."

"Don't mention it, Shinada."

They kept chatting casually as they finished their tea, and even a little after, until Shinada pulled out his cell phone with a small sigh as he saw the time.

"Hey, I'm really sorry, but I gotta head. I've got...a busy day tomorrow and I need a long rest."

"Oh, no, of course."

As they walked towards a taxi (Shinada insisted he do that at least too), Yayoi grabbed him by the wrist, then gave his hand a small squeeze.

"Shinada...thank you. I hope your friend recovers soon."

"Heh. I hope the same for your son too, Yayoi-san."

Shinada waved her off as the taxi drove away then smiled, walking back toward New Serena. A little of the stress that had been plaguing him lately was relieved, and he was eager to visit Daigo again tomorrow and see how he was doing, especially before everything went down. Maybe he'd even run into Yayoi there.

Man...what a lady...

He still couldn't figure out why she seemed so familiar to him.

Chapter Text

"You know what?"

"What?"

"Your face looks even worse in the daylight."

Shinada snorted, nuzzling against Daigo's palm as he gently stroked over his head. "Gee, thanks."
Daigo smiled back sleepily, thumb lightly running over his still swollen bottom lip. Playfully, Shinada snapped his teeth, pretending to nibble him.

"Did you rest well last night?" Daigo asked, moving to scratch the stubble under Shinada's chin, forcing him to tilt his head upwards.

"Mhm. I even took a bath. Felt amazing. Your bed is so comfy...nearly didn't wanna leave it." He smiled, tilting his head to the side so the scratching was along his jaw. "But I had to keep my promise, had to see you again."

"You were here until 3am last night, my love. Not much change in that time."

"Mm...still."

Shinada shifted from his seat, leaning his head in to start kissing Daigo...but a knock at the door interrupted. He pouted and slumped back into the chair.
"Your nurse?" he asked.

"Not sure," Daigo replied with a shrug, before calling out, "Uh, come in!"

The door opened, a voice calling out softly.
"Just me Daigo."

Something settled in him quickly, starting to smile again. "Mom..."

Shinada stared.

Yayoi stared back.

Daigo frowned. "Uh..."

"Y-Yayoi-san?" Shinada cried, getting to his feet. He glanced between the two, eyes wide. "You mean...your son...?!"

"And your friend...?!"

Yayoi trailed off and started to laugh, covering her mouth as she did.

"Would either of you mind telling me what’s going on here?" Daigo asked, crossing his arms with a bewildered huff.

"Shinada and I met a few nights ago," Yayoi explained calmly, walking to the other side of the bed and stroking over his hair, "He helped me out and then we had a nice chat about being worried about someone...turns out we were both talking about you."

Daigo blushed at this, glancing away. "Oh. I see. Well...yes. Mom, this is Tatsuo. We..."
He paused for a moment, frowning more. "We were...classmates in high school. He's who I was tracking down whilst I was AWOL."

"Oh, my goodness."

Yayoi looked over Shinada now with a softer eye than she had when they initially crashed into each other, where he had felt she was judging every inch of his being. "Were you friends then too?"

"Sort...of?" Shinada said slowly, looking down at Daigo, still blushed red as he toyed with his pyjama sleeves.

He was new to this. He hadn't been in a steady relationship in a few years, and he basically never got to the point where he was meeting the girl's parents. He didn't know what the protocol here was, especially with someone like Yayoi, sophisticated and strong.

Plus, Daigo hadn't explicitly said they were dating. Rather actively skirted around it, honestly. Shinada knew they weren't exactly official yet, but...perhaps it was best to follow Daigo's lead. Not make it obvious until he could ask later.

"He was on the baseball team," Daigo said softly, "One of the best."

"I bet!" Yayoi cried, taking a seat and waving for Shinada to sit again, "Well, I'm glad you've had some company whilst I've been busy."
She paused and lowered her head. "I'm sorry that I couldn't visit sooner."

"Don't be," Daigo said, reaching out to take her hand, "You have your own life too, and you work hard."

"You say that like my only son wasn't just shot."

"Again," Daigo added, with a playful chuckle.

Shinada whipped his head around at this. "Huh? Again?!"

"...I'll explain another time,” Daigo said, cringing slightly as he looked away.

Maybe that would explain that scar on his chest...

"Don't have much luck, do you?" Yayoi raised a brow at Shinada's bruised face, gesturing at it. "I take it you don’t either. What happened here?"

"I, uh...I was involved in the stuff that went down last night," Shinada said, noticing his voice still sounded hoarse, "The fight got pretty rough, but I managed."

"Well, I saw how you handled yourself in that fight before, I imagine you could."

"Not as well as you..."

Daigo flared up at this, staring at his mother. "You got into a fight? Mom, you can’t be-"

"Oh, quiet, I'm not a granny yet. This gal still has the same fighting spirit from her delinquent days!"

"Yes, but I’ve told you Kamurocho is dangerous, you must have been out at night-"

Yayoi rolled her eyes, patting Daigo’s hand rather sternly, enough that he snapped his mouth shut. "Hush boy. I was terrorising those streets before I even met your father. Now then."

She stood up, moving the bags she'd been carrying onto the seat instead. "I brought you some clean clothes. Where should I put them?"

"There's a set of drawers over there," Daigo sighed, waving his hand in that direction. He lolled his head back to Shinada as she was busy, pulling a face of great exaggerated pain. "Tatsuo, could you go get us some coffee please?"

"Sure can Dojima-kun!"

Yayoi watched the door click shut behind him, smiling as she folded the new clothes into the drawers.

"He seems lovely," she said, "I'm glad you've found a friend."

Daigo glared at the ceiling, rubbing his temples. He was on too many painkillers to fully argue that point. She was right though.

A short while after, Shinada came back with coffees, pockets stuffed with handfuls of milk and sugar packets. With a nervous chuckle, he emptied them onto the side table.
"Well, I forgot to ask how you both take it so...y'know."

Daigo and Yayoi frowned simultaneously, and Shinada couldn't believe he didn't realise earlier why Yayoi had seemed so familiar. The way their brows knitted together was practically identical.

"So where are you staying whilst you're in Tokyo, Shinada?" Yayoi asked, almost out of nowhere in the conversation that followed.

Quickly Shinada glanced at Daigo. Would it be weird to say-

"At mine," Daigo said, taking a slow sip of coffee.

Yayoi raised a brow. "You're making your friend sleep on the couch?"

"Well, if he wants to, then yes," Daigo mumbled over the lip of the styrofoam cup, glancing back at Shinada. He bunched his shoulders up slightly, cheeks turning a shade of baby pink as he added, "He's free to use my bed until I’m discharged."

Shinada found himself blushing too, understanding the message for him only – he gets to stay there when I’m back. Yayoi just tutted and nodded, seemingly not noticing the change in their faces.

"Right, right..."

It had been a while since Shinada had talked to his own mother. They'd fallen out after his ban from the major leagues, so he wasn't...he couldn't fully remember how parent and child interacted, and he had no idea how that went as you got older. He might have been twenty-two when they last spoke, but he was still treated like a kid, slightly coddled even.

There was an obvious closeness between Daigo and his mother - which made sense, from what he knew. His father was dead, and they were all they had in terms of family.

Still, Daigo seemed to be growing more and more irritated the longer Yayoi stayed, fidgeting on the spot and grumbling as she adjusted his pillows or pushed back a loose strand of hair.

Perhaps that was normal.

Eventually Yayoi checked her watch and sighed, finishing her coffee and setting the empty cup aside.
"I've got to go now Daigo," she said gently, standing up and brushing his cheek with the back of her fingers, "I'll be able to see you in a few days."

"Text me before you do," he said, closing his eyes for a moment as he drew in closer to her touch.

She smiled and kissed his forehead, which immediately made him grumble and scrunch his eyes up.
"Mom-!"

"Quiet." She now turned her attention to Shinada, still smiling. "It was so nice to see you again, Shinada. I'm glad we got to meet, even if the circumstances were a little odd."

"Uh, same here, Yayoi-san," he said, bowing slightly, "See you soon perhaps?"

"Hm, perhaps."

She gave Daigo another kiss on the forehead (which got another yell of "Mom!" from him), before she waved her fingers and left the room.

Shinada waited a few moments after the door shut before jumping up on the edge of the bed, watching as Daigo tilted his head back with a sigh.

"You and your mom...get along, right?"

"What?" Daigo frowned, shrugging as he did. "Yeah, we do. She's just...fussy. Always has been."

"And I guess you are pretty grouchy," Shinada added, sticking his tongue out playfully at the glare that got him.

He trailed off, scratching his nose. "Are you...does she know you're...uh...that you prefer...?"

"...yes, Tatsuo, she knows I'm gay, if that's what you're asking. What's that got to do with anything?"

Shinada cringed, tugging up the sleeve of his jacket to chew on the cuff, shrugging as he did.
"Well, you know," he said, voice muffled, "I mean, first off, I didn't wanna assume your sexuality but also, you didn't...say we were actually dating..."

Daigo blinked, bunching the blankets in his hands. "Ah. I see. Well, uh..."

He clicked his tongue, suddenly annoyed by the creases he'd just made and smoothed them out.
"Tatsuo, you are my first boyfriend. I had a girlfriend for six months years ago, but it never felt right. I don't know what I'm doing, and we really need to have a proper talk about all this once I'm better I feel, but..."

He threw his hands up with a defeated sound. His voice even cracked slightly as he confessed.
"I'm nervous. She seems to like you, but I don't know if that will change once she knows we're...whatever we are."

Shinada kept chewing his cuff, nodding slowly. "O-kay. I get it Dojima-kun. I'm...I'm nervous too. I got a lot of figuring stuff out I still need to do, personally."
Slowly he lowered his hand from his mouth, starting to smile. "Your mom is nice though. Can see where you get your stunning good looks from, at least."

"Tatsuo, please..."

"What, I like milfs-"

"Tatsuo!"

Daigo gagged and grimaced, giving Shinada a shove. "Do not talk about my mother like that! I know you're joking but...eurgh!"

Shinada snorted, shuffling closer so he could give Daigo a kiss, combing his fingers through his hair slowly.
"Last part was true though," he said once he pulled away, earning him a hand in the face and another disgusted cry from Daigo, who still smiled at his childish humour.

"Look," Daigo said, holding either side of Shinada's face and giving his cheeks a little squeeze, "Once we have a proper chat about our relationship, I'll tell her. Sound good?"

"You don't have to-"

"Tatsuo, I want to."
He pulled his head in until their foreheads bumped together, smiling softly. "You're important to me. And that means you’ll be important to her.”

Chapter Text

Having a pair of strong hands cover his eyes to wake him was definitely not something Daigo enjoyed. His body's immediate response was to tense, clench his fists and get ready to fight back but...

A familiar tickle of stubble brushed against his neck, soft lips kissing there. The hands were strong, but the palms gentle, fingers lightly calloused.

Daigo's shoulders relaxed as he fell back against Shinada, who tried his best to embrace him whilst still covering his eyes, nudging him out of bed and to his feet.

"Tatsuo, what are you doing?"

"It's a surprise," Shinada said, voice breathy and eager, "Now, toward the kitchen babe."

Daigo sighed but played along by carefully moving forward blind, Shinada guiding him with a few gentle nudges here and there.

Daigo's nostrils flared as they entered the new room, being hit with some delicious scent that even made him start to salivate a little.

"Tatsuo, come on, this is silly."

"Wait, just wait...!"

He could practically hear the grin in Shinada's voice as he planted him firmly in what he assumed was the centre of the kitchen.

"And...ta-da!"

Daigo's eyes adjusted back to the light, blinking a few times before they focused. He was stood in front of the dining table he had pushed against the wall. The wall itself was decorated with a large store-bought banner:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Below that was five sheets of printer paper, each one spelling out

D A I G O

in marker pen, the romanji letters bold and shaky.

Shinada now ushered him to sit at the table, decorated with brightly coloured confetti, a card and a few presents, poorly wrapped. He ducked in and planted a kiss on Daigo's lips, pulling away by nuzzling the tips of their noses.

"Happy birthday babe~!"

"Tatsuo, I-I..." Daigo blushed, unable to contain the grin taking over his face. "Thank you so much."

"Ah-ah, not done yet!"

Shinada rushed to whatever it was he'd been cooking. He turned triumphantly on the spot, laying down a plate of pancakes, thick and fluffy with a drizzling of syrup and plenty of fresh fruit, before clicking his heels together with a flourished bow.

"W-woah," Daigo mumbled, looking it over slowly, "I had no idea you could make these."

"I've been practising for a month," Shinada said, taking the seat opposite. He gave his stomach a pat, raising a brow. "I'm sick of the damn things now personally, but I know you like sweet stuff."

Daigo gave a small nod, still staring at the plate. He almost didn't want to eat them, they looked so perfect, but he grabbed a fork and tucked in.

"Mmm!" He covered his mouth, eyes scrunching up with glee. "They're delicious!"

Shinada blushed, rubbing the back of his head before leaning forward on the table. "So, after this you can open your presents, then I was thinking we go back to bed for some other fun-"

Daigo choked on a blueberry at this, but Shinada continued.

"Then, ooh, we could go out somewhere, wherever you like. I’m pretty sure there’s an exhibition on at the history museum you’d enjoy…" He rubbed the back of his head shyly again, eyes lowering. "I know I can't spoil you like you did on my birthday but..."

"Tatsuo, you're already spoiling me." Daigo wiped some crumbs from the corner of his mouth, eating another few mouthfuls before continuing. "You made me these, decorated, bought me gifts that I know will be absolutely thoughtful and perfect, because you’re so good at that."

"Let you sleep in too!"

"Yes, that – wait. What time is it?"

"Uhh, little past noon." Shinada grimaced, starting to shrink down in his seat. "Sh-should I have not done that? Did you have work today?"

"No, no, it's fine." Daigo closed his eyes for a moment to enjoy the taste of food, adding, "I just wanted know the time."

Knock-knock.

Daigo glanced over his shoulder in the direction of the front door, then turned back to Shinada, who was already on his feet.

"That might be something else I ordered you, it did get delayed."

He ducked in for another kiss, ruffling Daigo's hair as he passed. Daigo frowned, leaning back in his seat.

"Tatsuo, that's not how the mail works in this building," he said through a mouthful, "And put some pants on first-"

Shinada had already opened the door, immediately going red at Daigo's call. Shit. He'd completely forgotten he was in just his t-shirt and boxers. Shouldn't matter too much-

Yayoi frowned at him from the hallway, her eyes darting down quickly at his underwear before darting back up, starting to blush as she gripped the small gift bag she was holding closer to herself.

"Shinada. Why...why are you here?"

Shinada felt himself go redder, awkwardly shuffling behind the door at least a partially, one hand covering his crotch. “I, uh. I’m visiting.”

...she was still calling him by his surname.

"Uh. Do you wanna come in?" he asked, gesturing behind himself, "Dai- Dojima-kun's just finishing breakfast."

"He knows we're going out, doesn't he?" she asked, glancing over her shoulder as she walked in.
Shinada grimaced and twirled around, backing against the door to close it, tugging down the hems of his pants as he did. The last thing he needed was his boyfriend's mother seeing his ass...

"Yes, I do," Daigo called from the kitchen, "Sorry, lost track of time."

"Mhm..." Yayoi raised a brow at Shinada, still stood with a hand over his front. "You're visiting for his birthday I take it?"

"Uh...yeah..." He cleared his throat, looking over to the kitchen. "Daigo? Could we uh...could we talk in your room please?"

And with that he flashed Yayoi a grin – "I'll uh. I'll go put on some pants." – and dashed towards the bedroom.

He grabbed his jeans from the floor (flung there last night after dinner), already tugging them on as Daigo walked in, closing the door behind him with a sheepish look on his face.

"Sorry, I should have said she was coming over."

"You haven't told her, have you?"

Daigo blinked, still looking uneasy. "Uh. Whatever do you mean, my love?"

Shinada crossed his arms, pointing at the door. "Your mom is still calling me Shinada."

"A-and...?"

"Why the heck would she be so formal if she knew I was your boyfriend? I know you would've said it was cool to call me Tatsuo!"

Daigo didn't respond, instead moved to his wardrobe to start getting himself dressed. Shinada let out a sigh, slumping down on the bed.

"Daigo, we've been together for a year-"

"And two months."

"A year and two months. You said she knew you were gay, and you clearly get along. Why didn't you tell her about us?"

"It just..." Daigo shrugged, stomach flexing in as he did up his pants button. "I don't know. It didn't come up, we never talk about relationships.”

Under his breath, he added "Plus I'm a coward", what he hoped was quiet enough that Shinada didn't hear but of course he did.

"Daigo, don’t be like that. Your mom seems to like me and you’re a grown man. The hell she gonna do, ground the Sixth Chairman of the Tojo Clan?"

"...I wouldn't be surprised if she did, in all honesty."

Daigo shook his head, finishing the last button on his shirt and tucking it into his pants, adjusting the collar. "Fine. I'm sorry I took so long. I'm a mess."

"That's why we're so compatible honey."

Shinada winked, jumping back to his feet. They two walked out back to the living area, where Yayoi was sat patiently with her hands on her lap. She looked up as they came in, immediately getting to her feet.

"Is something the matter?"

Daigo grimaced for a second, glancing back at Shinada who gave an encouraging thumbs up. So, he sighed and shuffled closer to him.

"Mom, Tatsuo and I are dating."

Yayoi blinked. Daigo gulped and continued, hand shooting out to grab hold of Shinada's.
"We've been dating for a year now-"

"And two months," Shinada said in an almost mocking tone, which got him a quick look from Daigo before he continued.

"I don't really know why I never told you until now. But...yeah."

Yayoi blinked again, before glancing between the two of them.

"A year? Then you were together when I first met Shinada?"

"Sort of," Daigo said softly, feeling his hand get squeezed by Shinada, "We made it official about a week later."

"I see..."

Yayoi's stare bored into Daigo, brow furrowed. He kept his composure, though Shinada couldn't help noticing the small wrinkle of his nose as his nostrils flared. Finally, Yayoi spoke again.
"Well, I've had my suspicions something was happening. I have noticed you've grown rather..." Her eyes darted down briefly. "Comfortable, recently."

Daigo went red, huffing loudly and putting a hand to his middle. "Mom...!"

Shinada grimaced, giving another hand squeeze and shuffling forward. "And, uh, you're okay with this?"

"You're both grown men, it's none of my business either way."

Yayoi stepped forward herself, patting Shinada on the cheek with a smile.
"But I am, if that settles you Shinada."

"Actually, you're welcome to call me Tatsuo," he said, grinning shyly. He paused and shrugged, rubbing the back of his head and pulling away from her hand. "Uh, if you wanna, I just prefer it, and well, it's so formal to call me by my surname when I'm dating your son and-"

"Okay. Tatsuo it is."

Yayoi tapped her chin, grabbing the edge of his t-shirt, still the same one he wore to bed last night, rather grubby and a bit on the smaller side.

With a small 'hmph', she turned to a still pouting Daigo. "Does he have any smarter looking clothes?"

Daigo frowned for a moment, before shrugging. "He'll likely fit into some of my old clothes. Why?"

"I can make rearrangements for our dinner reservation. It wouldn't be fair to leave your boyfriend here all alone, I'm sure he'd like to celebrate your birthday too."

Daigo blinked, then nodded, pointing towards the bedroom and leading Shinada there. "Won't be a minute."

He shut the door after them and let go of Shinada's hand, sliding down the door and covering his face.

"Daigo-kun...?"

Shinada kneeled down, prying Daigo's fingers away, only to be met with tears streaming down his face. "D-Daigoooo!"

He threw his arms over him, pulling him close. "Babeeee! Don't cryyyy..."

"I'm fine, these are happy tears," Daigo grumbled, nuzzling against Shinada's chest regardless, "I...I got to introduce her to my boyfriend. This actually got to happen."

He choked slightly, pulling away to flap his hand in front of his cheeks, glaring at the ceiling to maybe will away his tears. "Oh boy. Best birthday present. Okay, let's get you something to wear."

The outfit ended up being a pair of dark grey jeans (too tight, but Daigo stared at Shinada in them practically drooling so he liked them), a white shirt and a soft lilac sweater that wasn't really his style, but did the job.

"Need to get you your own outfit," Daigo mumbled, adjusting Shinada's collar before combing his hair a few times over with his fingers, "I fear Mom will invite you on more of these things now."

"You say that like it’s a bad thing," Shinada said, watching the flush of frustration grow on Daigo's face at how uncooperative his hair was, "C'mon. She loves me already."

"I'm not worried about that-"

"You clearly are. Come on, what are the ground rules you wanna set for me?"

Daigo sighed, deciding to grab a comb to try and style Shinada's hair instead, which prove equally hopeless.

"Well just...I know you wouldn't, but nothing dirty or suggestive, you know? My mother is proper."

Shinada let out a snort of laughter, shaking his head. "Yeah, I don't think I'm gonna be horny around your mother babe. What kind of freak do you take me for?"

Daigo just hummed, tossing the comb to the bed with a defeated sigh. "Not the kind to be like that around my mom, obviously, but you know. Slips can happen.”

“Anything else?”
“Not really, just…”

Daigo smiled, holding Shinada’s face in his hands and giving him a kiss. “Be yourself, and I think we’ll be alright.”

*

Shinada knew immediately he was out of his depth. The restaurant was nicer than even the ones Daigo would take him to, the sort he would stare at sadly and wish he could afford back in the day.

He was also out of his depth with the conversation. Yayoi seemed to just talk business with Daigo, terms being thrown between the two that turned to static in Shinada’s ears, as he stared at the menu and avoided confused looks from the staff. Even dressed in these nicer clothes, he still looked scruffy, he supposed.

“And what do you think?”

Daigo gave Shinada a small kick under the table, forcing him to jump out of his thoughts.

“Huh?”

Yayoi raised a brow, hands folded neatly under her chin. “Of Daigo’s work.”

Shinada glanced from her to Daigo, who was scowling at his wine glass.

“You mean with the…clan?” he asked slowly. What the hell had he missed? “I mean. It’s good. He’s a great leader. I understand the ground that comes with it and I accept it because I love him.”

“…I see.”

“Mom, please,” Daigo said, gritting his teeth as he flagged down a waiter, “It’s my birthday. Can we not talk about work?”
“Fine, fine.”

With discussions of the Tojo Clan off the table, Yayoi instead turned her stare directly to Shinada now.

“So, what is it you do for work Tatsuo?”
“I’m a freelance writer, for a Nagoya tourism magazine. I’m also a part-time baseball coach, I taught at a summer camp last year.”

She raised a brow, glancing sidelong at Daigo for a second. “Freelancer, hm? Interesting.”

Shinada flinched slightly at her tone. That was…unexpected. True, he was used to a lot of people reacting with slight distain knowing his position wasn’t permanent, but he hadn’t expected it right now.

Daigo pressed his lips thin, placing a hand on his mother’s wrist.
“Tatsuo enjoys his work, Mom,” he said with a growl, eager to defend his boyfriend, “And he’s very good at it. I…finance him so he can get by.”

Which essentially meant he was one step removed from being Shinada’s sugar daddy (not that either of them complained), but Yayoi just raised a brow.

“That’s very kind of you.” That response sounded less sharp, more wistful, as Yayoi took a sip of wine and sighed. “I’ve never been to Nagoya myself. My late husband, he always avoided the place, a lot of territory drama but-“
Mom.
“Okay, no work talk. Regardless, I have always wanted to see the castle.” She smiled, raising her hand to twirl a loose strand of hair and tuck it back behind her ear. “When I was a girl, I made a bucket list, all sorts of silly things. One was going to all the castles in Japan. I’ve only managed the ones in Tokyo and Yamagata though but…”

“Nagoya Castle is pretty cool,” Shinada said, deciding to cut his steak into tiny pieces to distract himself from the uneasy air around the table, “Daigo’s made me take him there basically every time he comes to visit.”

“You visit often?” Yayoi immediately asked.

“As often as I can,” Daigo replied in similar fashion, “Usually I can only stay over the weekends though, when things are quieter.”

“Good.” She smiled, pinching his cheek slightly. “I’m glad you’re allowing yourself to have some personal time.”
“Urgh, Mom, quit it!”

Shinada covered his mouth as he let out a small snort of laughter. Just as quickly as it had appeared, the awkward atmosphere vanished. The rest of Yayoi’s questions were more normal, genuine interest in his writing work and his baseball career.

As they ordered dessert, she lowered her head slightly, rubbing the corners of her eyes.
“Tatsuo, I apologise for seeming a bit…stand-offish out of nowhere.”

“Oh, uh, it’s completely fine Yayoi-san-“
“No, no, let me explain.”

Daigo rolled his eyes slightly as she sat up straighter, gesturing towards him. “Obviously, you are my son’s first real relationship. For a while, I didn’t think this day would ever come.”
Daigo’s face fell slightly at this, an irritated expression of ‘thanks for the vote of confidence Mom’. Yayoi simply paid it no attention as she continued.

“He’s my only child, and though I met you before and could tell you were a wonderful young man, there’s a difference between being a friend and being a partner, when this…life is concerned. Do you understand?”

“Uh…”

Shinada could only look to Daigo for some reassurance. He bit his lip, very stiffly reaching over to put his hand on top of Shinada’s – he’d never been one for public displays of affection, even little ones like this, so Shinada couldn’t help doing a double take, distracting him further from the question.

“Mom, Tatsuo and I have gone over this,” Daigo said softly, “We’ve been together a year. Tatsuo knows what my life entails.”
“I know but…as someone who married into it.” Yayoi directed this at Shinada, catching him in her intense stare that reminded him far too much of Daigo. “I had to embrace it all. I’m glad you don’t have to.”

Shinada felt himself blush slightly, brushing his hair back from his eyes to distract himself. This was a far more intense meal than he was expecting. He woke up this morning assuming him and Daigo would order a pizza after a long day of walking around museums and galleries, and now…this.

“Um…thank you, Yayoi-san?” he said slowly. How the hell was he expected to respond to this sort of conversation? “I’m…I’m glad you feel that way.”

Yayoi smiled. “You two have each other and are both happy. Given the way the world is, that’s all a mother could ask for.”

Nothing more was said as the waiter arrived with their dessert, Daigo’s hand shooting back to his lap as he glared straight ahead.

After the meal, they said their goodbyes – Yayoi was going to return home and Daigo wanted to spend some more time out.

Yayoi gave her son a quick hug, whispering something in his ear that he responded to in equally hushed tones, before she turned her attention to Shinada.

“Glad to have met you on a more personal level, Tatsuo,” Yayoi said, giving his arm a small pat, “I meant it. You’re a wonderful young man, and I’m glad you stole my son’s heart.

“Mom, fucking hell-“
“Don’t swear in public, Daigo, it’s very ungentlemanly.”

Jeez. Shinada looked down to Yayoi’s hand, still resting on his arm, and nodded, giving her a smile. “Glad that I could finally see you again Yayoi-san. You’re uh…you’re a really cool lady.”

“…thank you.”

Shinada had to push back a whine when her hand left him, as she turned to give Daigo a kiss on the cheek.
“Have fun you two.” She tapped Daigo’s chin, something a little wicked lighting up in her eyes. “Make sure you bring Tatsuo over next time he’s in town. I’ll get that cake you like and can show him your baby photos.”

Hahaha, yes, thank you Mom,” Daigo said through gritted teeth, pulling away and gesturing towards the closest taxi, “I’ll message you later tonight.”

The moment the car pulled away, Daigo tilted his head back and sighed loudly at the sky, the tension in his shoulders relaxing.
“I am so sorry she got like that out of nowhere,” he groaned, rubbing his eyes, “I know she apologised, but she was still being rude.”

“No, it’s fine, I get it.” Shinada grinned and gave a wink. “Just worried about her baby boy.”

The glare Daigo gave was worth the teasing.

Shinada stuck out his hand and Daigo, glancing around quickly, took it, huddling closer.

“It was interesting, that’s for sure,” Shinada continued, scratching his cheek thoughtfully as they walked, “But I guess I’m just not used to it.”
“Used to what?”
“…having a mom.”

He shrugged and glanced away, because he knew the look Daigo had on his face, that slightly constipated look that meant ‘I’m out of my depth but I’m concerned and listening’.

“I dunno. I just like your mom. She’s nice but stern. Like moms should be.”

“…I’m glad.”

Daigo looked around again and leaned in to give Shinada a quick kiss on the cheek, eyes lit up.

“Come on. Mom got me a gift card for this patisserie that I know you’ll just adore.”