“Did you know I went to school with a celebrity?”
Mine tilted his head for a moment, then shook it. “I did not, Daigo-san.”
Daigo gave a lopsided grin, loosening his tie with one hand as he pointed up at the TV in the corner of the bar with the other.
“You follow sport much Mine?”
“Ah. Can’t say I do.”
Daigo watched the screen for a bit, scratching his chin. “Yeah. Guy from my year, Tatsuo Shinada, got scouted at the Koshien tournament for the Nagoya Wyverns. That’s why I bring it up, they’re playing now.”
“Ohh...” Mine leaned forward to watch the TV, reading the names ticking past on the bottom of the screen. “Is he playing tonight?”
“No, he’s...he’s not.”
Daigo sighed, knocking back his beer in a few heavy gulps. Mine turned his attention to that, watching the glass drain as Daigo’s Adam’s apple bobbed up and down.
Mine’s mouth went a little dry, gulping down some of his own beer to quench his thirst.
“He was banned,” Daigo said, waving the bartender down and pointing at his empty glass, “The day after his first appearance.”
“Yeah. Sign stealing...game fixing...that kind of thing.”
Daigo got his new beer and immediately started on it, before letting out another heavy sigh. “It sucked. A lot. I...I liked him. I admired him, even. Gave me a reason to keep going.”
Noticing Mine give a curious look, he let out a small laugh, shaking his head dismissively. “Look, it‘s stupid. Forget about it.”
“No, Daigo-san. I’d like to know.” Mine paused, lowering his head with blushed cheeks. “Ah, if you want to share, that is.”
“Jeez...okay.” Daigo wrinkled his nose slightly as he thought over how to explain. “When I was a teen, I didn’t really have any aspirations. I was destined for this life, one way or another.”
He scoffed into his drink as he took a sip. “Of course, back then I just expected to be running the Dojima Family, not the whole damn show as clan chairman. Regardless.”
He folded his arms against the counter, watching the screen once more. “I started high school and that’s where I met Tatsuo. He was achieving his dream and that gave people hope. It made them happy. I realised that was something that needed to be protected, that sort of joy was important and it gave me some kind of purpose.”
He shook his head and scoffed, looking back as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Like I said. It’s stupid.”
Mine trailed off for a moment. Well, he wasn’t quite sure what it was. He’d never met someone who could fill him with such hope...not until he had met Daigo. Perhaps he understood the sentiment fully.
“It’s not stupid,” he said, starting his sentence again, “It’s...heart-warming. That someone could be so enthusiastic about what they loved that it could bring that sort of hope to others. He must have been a very passionate man.”
“Yeah, well...” Daigo focused on the game again, top lip pulled up in a slight sneer. “Egg on my face when he went pro then threw it all away just like that.”
“I don’t know. I would still say you’re a good judge of character. That’s why I’ve stuck with you.”
Daigo thought those words over for a little, then smiled, patting Mine on the back. “Thank you. And I’m forever grateful you have. You’re a good man Mine, you’ll go far in this life.”
Mine blushed a light pink from the compliment, the slight touch, squeezing his hands into excited fists on his lap as his stomach filled with fluttering. “Thank you, Daigo-san. It means a lot to have your backing.”
Daigo kept smiling at him a bit more, making his heart beat ten times faster, before he downed his beer again, letting out an elated sound. “Still, the whole situation sucked. Tatsuo was super fucking hot too.”
Mine nearly choked on his drink, cheeks going bright red as he glanced sideways at Daigo. He knew of his chairman’s love of alcohol, and how he became more relaxed and open the more he guzzled down. He was on his...fifth drink of the night, third beer but they’d started with a few glasses of whiskey.
“Baseball players just have the best physique in sports, you know?” Daigo continued to ramble, leaning against the counter and squinting at the bottles of spirit lining the shelf, “At least I think so. They’ve always got this built upper body, especially the arms.”
That was like a second hit, and Mine had to cover his mouth save spluttering his beer out. Daigo just ordered himself a gin and tonic, licking his lips in anticipation.
“Sure, the other boys on the team were pretty, I guess, but Tatsuo was nice.” He gave Mine a small poke in the chest. “That’s what matters.”
Mine gulped, but just nodded obediently, still in an elated kind of shock and unable to react with his mind racing.
Daigo was describing having a crush. Daigo liked men. It was a question Mine had from almost the moment they met, a hopeful curiosity that perhaps his infatuation for his chairman wasn’t simply one-sided.
“It’s all good, if someone is beautiful,” Daigo continued, slumping his cheek on his hand, “But if their personality is awful, what’s the point? It’s a waste.”
Daigo scoffed, accepting his gin and taking a swig. He scrunched up his face for a second, clearly regretting how much he drank in one, but immediately took another, more sensible sip. “Am I making sense?”
“I-I get it,” Mine said, finally finding his voice again, “It’s like...buying what looks like a perfect apple, then finding it full of maggots. It’s disappointing and ruins the whole thing.”
Daigo smirked, offering a light friendly punch to Mine’s shoulder. “You’re so damn smart.”
“Thank you, Daigo-san.”
There was a beat of silence, as they shuffled a bit closer to each other. Mine felt his nostrils flare as he caught the smallest hint of the product Daigo used that kept his hair slicked back. Then he became entirely too focused on the curve of his jawline, the speckling of stubble he hadn’t quite shaved off, his slight double chin...
Daigo pushed forward for the kiss. It was barely a kiss, really, their lips grazing each other for a few seconds before Daigo pulled back. Mine’s eyes still fluttered shut though, which meant he didn’t anticipate when Daigo tried it again, letting out a small squeak.
A long pause this time, before Daigo chuckled. “Fuck. I’ve had a bit much to drink, haven’t I?”
Mine just kept quiet and blushing, adjusting the cuffs of his shirt. He wondered what it would feel like to kiss for longer, to run his fingers through Daigo’s silky hair and be pushed to the bed-
They decided it was best to call it a night after that. Mine kept Daigo steady as he led him towards the taxi rank. For a brief, ludicrous moment, he considered maybe inviting Daigo back to his apartment for a nightcap and...what he hoped would be more, but he pushed that thought away. They were both a bit too drunk for that, it was hardly appropriate.
Instead, Daigo grazed his cheek with another barely-kiss, holding the side of his face with a drunken smile.
“Thank you for tonight. It’s always lovely to spend time with you outside of work.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Daigo-san,” Mine mumbled, giving a small bow, as he should for his chairman, “Uh...thank you also. For sharing that story with me. It’s given me some things to think about, actually.”
Daigo let out a small snort of laughter, shaking his head. “I’m surprised you listened. Rambling like a fucking idiot about a boy from high school who let me down...”
“It sounds like he meant a lot to you though.” Mine could only dream that he was held in a similar regard.
“Yeah. A hell of a lot.”
Daigo gave Mine’s arm a squeeze, before getting into the taxi. “See you tomorrow, Mine. Get home safely, and sleep well.”
Mine waved the car off, before getting into the next taxi in the line. He gave his address then slumped back in the seat, brushing his fingers against his cheek where he’d been kissed.
Being the kind of man he was, Mine did do some quick research on this Tatsuo Shinada. He found archived news reports from 1997 about the ban, a few gossip sites from years later questioning where he went.
It didn’t take long for Mine to find more recent information. He wasn’t stupid, Daigo had quite clearly loved this baseball boy when they were teenagers. One of those young crushes Mine had always wanted to feel but never could...until Daigo came into his life, showing him how beautiful love could feel.
Mine stared at two photos. A black and white mugshot from when Shinada was arrested and a more recent picture swiped from social media, older and smiling lazily at the camera. He couldn’t help comparing himself physically, how Shinada seemed a lot broader with heavier muscle, against Mine’s slimmer and leaner build. Was…that the type of man Daigo preferred?
Mine thought of the kisses, and blushed. Maybe Daigo didn’t really have a type.
Certainly, there was also a small twang of jealousy, that Daigo had once had affections for this scruffy hunk, affection Mine craved from his chairman, lapping up even the tiniest bit of love with a rush through his body.
But it wasn’t a bad feeling either. This Shinada had given Daigo hope, perhaps helped shaped him into the man Mine fell in love with.
He couldn’t stay jealous over that.
Shinada was naturally curious. Some might say nosey. It meant he came close nearly four times.
“So you really would buy me aaaanything?”
Daigo chuckled, reaching over the table to lightly tickle under Shinada’s chin. “I think I’ve proven that already. Whatever your greedy little heart desires, my love.”
“Hey! I’m not greedy!”
Shinada paused, glancing at the ground for a moment. His feet were surrounded by two large shopping bags, mostly filled with new clothes, along with a few books and other treats, as well as a shoebox with a brand new pair of trainers. He then glanced back at the spread on the table in front of him, enough food for four people that he was easily making his way through.
He blushed, licking his fingers before he reached for more chicken wings. “Well, you know...”
Daigo gave a knowing little smirk, taking a sip of his drink. “Go on. Think of the most expensive thing you’ve ever wanted.”
Shinada hummed, tapping his chin in thought until he remembered one of the most obvious answers.
“A sports car! That kind of thing comes with a certain status, don’t you think?”
“Hm, I guess...” Daigo shrugged, swirling his drink around slightly. “I mean, unless you wanted a brand new model, I wouldn’t even have to buy you that...”
“Huh?” Shinada tilted his head with a frown, wiping his mouth using the back of his hand. “You have a car? I thought you couldn’t drive.”
“I can’t. I just...”
He looked away, eyes glazing over. “Happened to acquire a car a few years ago and never really knew what to do with it. Suppose I should have just sold it, really, but...”
“How the heck do you just ‘acquire’ a car?” Shinada scoffed, leaning back for a moment to rub his middle.
“...you just do.”
Daigo knocked back his glass, before jumping to his feet. “I’ll go get some more drinks.”
“Hm? Oooh, get me a uh, a whiskey sour!”
Shinada shifted in his seat slightly, adjusting the waistband of his jeans before glancing back to Daigo at the counter.
You don’t just suddenly ‘acquire’ a sports car then keep it for who knows how long, especially without knowing how to drive.
But at that point, he just shrugged and went back to eating. It wasn’t exactly a concern.
Daigo frowned, glancing down at Shinada. “What?”
Shinada rolled his cigarette around his lips, waggling Daigo’s lighter slightly as he stared at it.
“That’s what the engraving is,” he said, tracing the shape of the kanji, “Fudo...immovable...”
He blinked, snapping his fingers at Daigo’s bare back. “Ah! Like the Fudo Myoo!”
“...yeah. Exactly.” Daigo was usually quite softly spoken, but his voice was barely above a mumble.
Shinada flipped the lighter over, tilting his head. “And your name. Worried you’d lose it?”
Daigo didn’t reply, simply snatched the lighter from Shinada’s hand, lighting his own cigarette before moving to stuff it back in his coat pocket.
“It was a gift,” Daigo said sharply, and that was the last thing said on the matter.
“Please stop pulling faces at it.”
Shinada snorted, grinning as he saw the tiny smile on Daigo’s face too.
“He’s just so grumpy looking,” he said, leaning in to more closely observe the small statue of the Fudo Myoo on the cabinet shelf, “No wonder you have him as your tattoo.”
Daigo sighed, quickly signing more papers. He didn’t want Shinada staying at Tojo HQ too long, but he just happened to be with him when he got a call that some paperwork needed to be done urgently, so it couldn’t be helped. At least he was keeping himself entertained.
“Well, Majima-san bought me that, as a sort of...get well soon gift, I think.”
“And the kirin?”
Shinada pointed at the object next to the Fudo Myoo, a tiny figurine of a golden kirin.
“...no, I bought that. I just...thought it was cute.”
Shinada leaned back against a nearby cabinet, looking around the office. “You have awful taste in decorative art though babe.”
“It wasn’t all my choice,” Daigo said through gritted teeth, scrunching up his eyes for a second before returning to his work, shaking his head to clear it, “A lot of it was here before I became chairman.”
“Hm, but I bet you chose the worst pieces. Liiiiike...”
Shinada trotted over to a vase covered in a blue marbling, pointing at it. “This thing.”
A pregnant pause. Daigo pursed his lips, clicking his pen repeatedly before replying in a quiet voice.
“No. That...that was something that belonged to a former patriarch. He was rather a fan of art, had a lot of beautiful pieces. Rather an eye for it, actually.”
“Oh. Okay.” Shinada narrowed his eyes at the vase, hand on his chin like he understood. “Hm, yeah, you know what, upon closer inspection, this isn’t nearly grungy enough to be your choice. Clearly someone with taste bought this originally!”
Daigo, after scrunching his eyes up again, laughed, clearly eager to change the subject. “Oh, like you’re a connoisseur of fine art!”
Like nothing had happened.
“Yo, Daigooo? Can I borrow some clothes? I forgot to bring my lounging stuff.”
Daigo’s sigh came heavy and playful from the bathroom. “Sure. Left side of the wardrobe towards the back should have some stuff that fits.”
Shinada pushed aside several of Daigo’s work shirts, finding a small folded pile of clothes stacked in a basket. Rummaging through, he grabbed the first t-shirt and pair of sweatpants he could get his hands on.
As he expected, the pants were a bit tight, just about hugging his waist.
“These will not last,” he mumbled, bending one of his legs up and hearing the red fabric creak. He ran his hand over his thigh, head tilted. “Didn’t think Daigo owned anything in colour...”
With a shrug, he picked up the shirt, looking over the front briefly. More Daigo’s style, a dark heather grey, but with the logo of Tokyo University on the front.
Weird. Daigo never went to university.
Shinada just shrugged again, pulling it over his head and immediately regretting it. “Ah shit.”
Way too small. He must have found some real old clothes. Somehow, he still managed to tug it over his biceps and down his chest, leaving his gut on show.
Daigo leaned against the doorframe, hair recently dried and fluffy, biting his bottom lip as his eyes traced Shinada’s figure hungrily.
Shinada smirked, turning around and flexing one of his arms, his other hand running down his side and tensing on his middle. “Like what you see?”
“Mmm, very much...” Daigo paused, frowning at the t-shirt’s logo. “Where...did you find those?”
“In the wardrobe, like you said.” Shinada walked over, taking Daigo’s hands to place them on his ass. “How skinny did you used to be?”
“Ah, uh...in a basket, right?”
Daigo’s fingers tensed against his backside, before shuffling away, going to the wardrobe and grabbing a different t-shirt and pair of sweatpants, a more in-character black. “Here, these will be a lot more comfortable.”
Shinada frowned, pouting playfully. “Thought you liked me in tight clothes...”
“I do, I...” Daigo sighed through gritted teeth, grabbing the hem of the t-shirt and rather hastily pulling it off of Shinada. “You know, I want you to be comfortable, and if those tore, I’d be...be...”
His hands grasped the shirt, fingers twisting the fabric as he glazed over. Shinada wiggled out of the sweatpants, putting on the new set of clothes that fit with some room to spare.
“Incredibly turned on and need to fuck me where I stood?”
Daigo blushed, putting the old set of clothes away with a huff. “Yes, but...no, I’d be upset. They are...sentimental.”
“...pft, if you say so.” Shinada accepted a while ago that sometimes, Daigo was just a little bit weird, and that’s why he loved him.
It was the fifth time, he found out.
“Seriously Daigo-kun, how many guns do you need?”
Daigo scoffed, taking the glasses that were handed to him. “What?”
Shinada shrugged, slumping down on the couch and starting to open the bottle of wine he had, pulling out the cork with a satisfying pop.
“I know you keep your pistol in the bedside drawer,” he said, allowing Daigo to pour their drinks, “You told me, just in case.”
“Yes...but that’s the only one I have.”
“Unless you have a really weirdly shaped cheese grater, no it’s not.”
They clinked glasses before Shinada took a swig, smacking his lips together after. “It was really tacky, kind of gold looking handgun...”
Daigo froze. “Where did you find that?”
Shinada barely noticed his voice going cold, just lifted his chin to scratch his throat. “Bottom drawer in the kitchen. Couldn’t find a corkscrew, so I checked there and...sure, I found one, but I also found that.”
“...did you touch it?”
Now Shinada noticed the change of tone. He looked over, raising a brow. “Huh?”
“Did you touch it?” Daigo growled, setting his glass down a little too hard, wine sloshing over the sides slightly.
“I mean, only to move stuff aside, I-“
Daigo stormed out of the living room and into the kitchen. Shinada gulped, setting his own drink down and sliding down the couch. He heard a drawer be pulled open, small clanks and clangs, before it was slammed shut again and Daigo came back in, shoulders square.
“Don’t go in there,” he said, voice still low.
“Daigo, I said, I couldn’t find a corkscrew, that’s all-“
“There’s one literally on the fucking counter! Just look properly with your fucking eyes for once.”
Shinada flinched from the tone, arms retracting close to his chest. Daigo’s eyes went wide, before he dug the heel of his hand against his brow.
“Shit. Sorry. I didn’t mean to snap like that.” He sat back down, gingerly taking Shinada’s hand, tension relaxing when he got a small squeeze in response. “I...I...”
He swallowed, scrunching up his eyes. “I was worried you might hurt yourself, that’s all. It isn’t loaded but...still.”
“I’m not that clumsy,” Shinada said, snorting slightly. He reached over, stroking Daigo’s cheek with his fingers. “Are you okay?“
“...yeah. I’m fine.”
“No, you’re not. Come on...” He gave a small kiss between Daigo’s creased brows, pulling back to rub the tips of their noses together. “I can read you like a book, you’re worried about something.”
Daigo averted his gaze, swallowing and taking a small shaky breath. “It doesn’t...it doesn’t matter.”
“Daigo. You never yell at me like that. Something clearly does matter.”
Shinada gave him another kiss, cupping both his cheeks and rubbing his thumb against them slowly. “I know you hate talking, but come on. I’ll shut up and listen.”
Daigo took another shaky breath, returning the kiss before pulling away, folding his arms as his fingers gripped the fabric of his shirt tightly.
“So I’ve always said...you’re my first boyfriend.”
Shinada nodded, shuffling closer and gently putting a hand on Daigo’s thigh. Daigo managed a weak smile, then continued.
“And...that is true. You’re my first real boyfriend. But you...you’re sort of my second.”
Met with a small frown, Daigo huffed, bunching up into himself some more. “I had...a friend. Yoshitaka Mine. He was part of the Tojo Clan and I loved him from first sight, just like I did you. And the thing was, he...adored me. Practically worshipped me.”
Shinada blushed a little at being reminded of Daigo’s teenage infatuation, but gave him a small pat to get him to carry on.
“You said...he was.”
Daigo nodded. “Yeah. He uh, he died, few years ago now. Died protecting me.”
His hand went to his chest, tensing around his shirt there instead. “My gunshot scar...the old one...is from then. I was in a coma and Mine lost himself. I was the only thing keeping him steady.”
“So you two were dating?” Shinada asked, feeling a small shift in how Daigo sat, watching his jaw clench before he even asked.
But still, Daigo let out a hollow laugh.
“Fuck, I wish. You needed a sword to cut our sexual tension, it was that thick.”
“But you said...”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. He was sort of my first boyfriend.” He wrinkled his nose before shrugging. “I consider what we had a romantic relationship, but we were both too dense to admit it. I’d get drunk and we’d share a small kiss. Our hands would brush against each other as we worked, he’d push my hair back in place. Small, awkward flirting.”
He stared at his hand, still clasping where his scar was and relaxed his fingers. “Given a little more time, I probably would have asked him out properly. Hell, I was ready to the night I was shot...whole lot of good that did us in the end.”
He sniffed, tilting his head to the ceiling and fluttering his eyes to keep himself from crying. “I think he knew how I felt though, before he died. I sometimes have that small solace, that he passed knowing he was loved by me, regardless of everything.”
Shinada swallowed, wrapping his arms around Daigo’s middle and slumping his head against his chest. Immediately, Daigo buried his face into Shinada’s hair, letting himself sob.
Shinada couldn’t think of a time he’d ever seen Daigo cry. He’d gotten a little teary during their first kiss as boys, pretended to just have dust in his eye whilst watching a sad movie, but he never really cried.
“What was he like?” Shinada asked, squeezing Daigo tight.
Daigo sniffed, wrangling his arms so he could hold Shinada back.
“He was...a lot like me. Very serious, more so. Very awkward. Didn’t understand people very well.”
“Hah! Didn’t think it was possible to be more serious than you.”
A pause before Daigo let out a laugh. “Oh, shut up.”
“He was...handsome, obviously. Brown hair and high cheekbones, clean shaven. His tattoo was stunning, a golden kirin.” Daigo smiled, rubbing Shinada’s back. “It was one of the most beautiful inks I’ve ever seen. He kept eagerly showing me the design with every update, but he was a little bashful about it. He always wore crisp designer suits with silk ties, and his cologne smelt of citrus.”
Shinada felt his nostrils flaring at the scent still lingering around Daigo. ”Your cologne smells of citrus too...”
“...yeah. I use the same one as he did. I have ever since.” Daigo nuzzled his cheek against the top of Shinada’s head, sighing heavily. “All I have are these little things. The gun you found, that was his. I still own most of his stuff, even his damn family office until I gave it to Saejima-san...I try not to visit on my bad days.”
Shinada shifted until he was sitting on Daigo’s lap, still hugging him with his head against his chest, burying his face deeper. Daigo scoffed, giving a small push to the back of Shinada’s head and holding him in place.
“I never got real closure, I guess. After Mine died, I had a breakdown, my worst since Dad. This is the most I’ve talked about him in...in years. Probably because it’s with you.”
Shinada tried to say something, but it came out rather muffled until Daigo released his hold.
“What was that, my love?”
“...I assume he has a grave?”
Daigo blinked, but gave a quick nod. Shinada looked down, teeth gritted in a slightly uncomfortable expression.
“Would...would you like to visit him soon? Together?
“I know it would be uncomfortable but...I want to show my respects. You obviously cared about him a lot, and I care a lot about you.” He shrugged, lips curling into a small smile. “And hell, if you say he was a lot like you, we probably would have gotten along.”
Daigo swallowed, fresh tears rolling down his face as he embraced Shinada, sobbing into his chest.
Of course Mine was a little jealous. Shinada was getting exactly what he never got the chance to. Be in a relationship with Daigo.
But he also knew he couldn’t hold that jealousy. It wasn’t healthy as a human, and the more grudges he bared now he was dead would just make things a lot worse for him.
Besides. Shinada adored Daigo. He was a man full of love, and he loved to show it. Truly, that’s all Mine could ever want – someone who loved Daigo like he did. It’s what Daigo deserved.
It was a little uncomfortable the day they came to visit his grave. Daigo was always uncomfortable when he came alone, whispering to the headstone as his fingers traced the engraving of Mine’s name. Usually apologising that it had been so long since he last visited, that life was busy but that was hardly an excuse.
Mine watched from the side of his grave as Shinada reached over and squeezed Daigo’s hand, giving him a soft look.
“I’ve never actually been to a graveyard before,” he said, thumb rubbing over Daigo’s knuckles, “They’re peaceful.”
“I’ve been in too many far too many times in my lifetime,” Daigo replied, voice cracking for a second, “But yeah. They are peaceful.”
He broke away for a moment to place some flowers at the foot of the grave, then went back to holding Shinada’s hand, bowing his head.
“I paid for it,” he said, gesturing at the site slightly, “Obviously.”
“It’s beautiful, if that means anything.”
Shinada let Daigo go quiet for now, closing his eyes in contemplation. He kept holding his hand, each of their knuckles white from the strength of their grip.
Mine sighed, walking forward and standing in front of Daigo. He noticed Daigo shiver a little from his presence, especially when he pressed against his forehead, but he was used to that.
“Thank you for visiting again, my chairman,” Mine mumbled, tracing his fingers down Daigo’s cheek, “I miss you…”
He paused, before glancing over at Shinada, staring ahead at the grave. He sniffed loudly, rubbing his nose with his free hand. Daigo opened his eyes and gave a strained smile.
“Hey. It’s okay.”
Shinada responded with a small whine, wrapping his arm around Daigo’s middle.
It confused Mine. Shinada had never met him, only knew what Daigo told about him – and even he could confess it was a highly censored version of what Mine thought he was really like, especially towards the end.
But here he was, tearing up over a complete stranger. Holding Daigo close to him, brushing a kiss against his cheek. “Sorry for making you do this.”
“No it’s…it’s good for me to come.”
They stood there for a little longer in silence, before both bowing their heads and leaving.
Mine watched as they left, clasping his hands together and smiling. He had learnt to smile a lot more now since dying, rather hilariously. If he could, he’d probably even be tearing up himself.
“I’m glad you have each other though. You’re getting the love you deserve.”