Taru Part One
Note: This is a sequel to "Open Arms"
Summary: Shota and Subaru baby sit Shota's nephew Taru. Because of a car accident, their lives change forever.
Shota had always thought of the night his sister Kaori had slept with Subaru as the incident. It had happened eight years before. It was soon after Shota and Subaru had become lovers for the first time. Shota could remember how excited they had been when they had been given permission to live together.
It helped that Subaru didn't remember the incident. Shota's sister Kaori had spent the night at their apartment, and the next morning, Shota had found a very hung over Subaru in his sister's bed. Shota and Kaori decided not to tell Subaru of the one time he had gotten into the wrong bed, and slept with the wrong Yasuda. When his sister found out she was pregnant, she decided not to tell Subaru. She didn't want her baby to be known as the drunk's child. All Subaru knew was that Shota's sister had become a single mother.
Shota was close to his little nephew. He would baby sit him for his sister. For some reason, when Shota was busy, Kaori had always asked Subaru to baby sit Taru. Shota knew that Subaru really cared for the young boy. Subaru considered himself Taru's uncle. Shota wondered how Subaru would react if he knew Taru was more than just an honorary nephew.
"Taru's going to spend the night, is that all right?" Shota asked Subaru.
"Sure, why wouldn't it?" his lover asked.
"This is our first night off together in a long time." Shota reminded him.
"Taru's family," Subaru reminded him. "It's sometimes good to put your plans aside for family."
“I’m going to make some cookies for Taru,” Shota decided, he went into the kitchen.
About an hour later, the door bell rang. Subaru went and answered it. It was Shota's sister Kaori and her son Taru. Just by looking at her Subaru knew she was Shota's sister. There was a strong family resemblance.
"Hi Uncle Subaru." the seven year old boy said.
"Good evening Taru-kun." Subaru told him.
"Can we come in?" Kaori asked.
"Of course, come in." Subaru opened the door enough to let them in.
"Thanks for doing this for me." Kaori told Subaru.
"It's nothing," Subaru smiled at her. "I've always liked caring for Taru-chan."
"Who’s at the door?" Shota came into the living room. He was wearing his apron. He had been busy in the kitchen making cookies for Taru.
"It's us Uncle Shota!" Taru told him.
"I hope I'm not imposing on you again," Kaori told her brother. "I didn't realize I had to work tonight."
"We always like Taru's visits." Shota told her.
Kaori looked at her watch. "I've got to go. I'll see you in the morning."
"By mama!" Taru said.
"Love you Taru-chan." Kaori hugged her son. "When you wake up in the morning, I'll be back."
Subaru found Taru sitting at the table in the living room. He had his art supplies spread out around the table. Taru was so much like Shota in his love of art. He would spend all of his time drawing if he had the chance.
Subaru had always felt drawn to the little boy. Perhaps it was because he reminded him so much of his little brother. Taru was also so much like Shota. Because he was Shota's nephew, Subaru thought of him as family. Though Shota hadn't told his parents about their relationship.
"How do you like first grade?" Subaru asked him.
"It isn't fun." The boy looked down to his coloring. His dark hair spilling into his eyes. "I wish I could be back in kindergarten. All my friends were there."
"I didn't like first grade," Subaru confessed.
"You didn't?" he looked at Subaru.
"There was a really bossy boy and his friend who was really dumb." Subaru told him. "I'm shy; I didn't like to talk much. So they used to pick on me."
"How did you get them to stop picking on you?" Taru asked quietly. The boy had once told Subaru that he was picked on at school. Subaru had been working with him to get it to stop.
"I really shouldn't tell you that."
"Did you so something bad?" the boy guessed. "My mama says you used to do bad things."
"It wasn't that bad," Subaru admitted. "Don't tell anyone, but the way I got them to stop was that I hit the bossy one in the face with a block. I kind of broke his nose."
"Why can't I tell anyone?" Taru’s dark eyes were curious.
"Because Uncle Hina still doesn't admit that we knew each other in first grade." Subaru confessed.
Shota came out of the kitchen holding a plate of cookies. He set them down on the table. "What are you boys talking about?"
"Uncle Babu told me that he broke Uncle Hina's nose once." Taru said helpfully.
"And when did Uncle Babu do that?" Shota sounded puzzled.
"In first grade!" The child smiled, he picked up a cookie and took a large bite out of it.
"You knew Hina in first grade?" Shota asked.
"Yeah, I did." Subaru grabbed a cookie.
Shota had joined Subaru and Taru at the table. They all worked on art, though Subaru didn't have much talent. His lover understood Shota's needs to be creative, and that was the important thing.
Shota's cell phone began to ring. He answered it.
"This is Yasuda Shota," Shota said.
"Yasuda san, your sister has been in a car wreck." The voice told him.
"Is she all right?" Shota asked concerned.
"She was seriously hurt."
"What hospital is she in?"
"St Mari's. It was the closest to the wreck." The caller told him.
"I see, thank you for calling." Shota hung up.
Shota was concerned. He wanted to run out of the apartment and to the hospital. He wanted to make sure his sister was all right. She had to be all right, there was no one else to care for Taru. But she had been hurt and the not knowing if she was all right was worse than knowing the truth.
"What's wrong Uncle Shota?" Taru asked.
"Your mama's been in a car wreck." Shota told him.
"Is she all right?" the boy asked concerned.
"I don't know yet." Shota confessed.
"Go to her." Subaru encouraged. "Kaori needs you right now."
"What about Taru?" Shota asked. "I promised we'd take care of him."
"Don't worry about that," Subaru told his lover. "I'll take care of him. You need to be with your sister."
Subaru got up, he went to Shota. He reached out touching his cheek. "You're part of my family."
"We're not related." Shota reminded him.
"Kanjani 8 has gone through so much that I think of all of you as family." Subaru caressed his check with his thumb. "You're a very special member of my family. Please my love. Go to Kaori. I'll take care of Taru for you."
"Thank you," Shota was again reminded just how much Subaru loved him. "I love you."
"I love you too." Subaru smiled sadly at him. "Now go."
Shota couldn't see Kaori. She was in surgery. He was the one that had to call his parents. Since they lived in Hyogo, it would be a while for them to get to the hospital.
Shota invited his parents to stay at his apartment while they visited. He was so concerned for his sister, that he didn't worry about the fact that he had hidden his relationship with Subaru from them. He knew his father wouldn't understand. His father had never accepted that he was gay. He had always thought of it as a stage.
Soon, Hina and Ohkura arrived at the hospital.
"Why are you here?" Shota asked.
"Baru called me," Hina explained. "He didn't want you to be alone."
"Have you heard anything yet?" Ohkura asked.
"Kaori's still in surgery." Shota explained. "She's been hurt badly. They say she might not make it."
Hina sat down at one side of Shota, Ohkura the other.
"Subaru called all of us." Ohkura told him. "If we have to take it in shifts, we'll make sure you won't have to be alone."
Shota felt tears sting his eyes. Subaru had always called the group his family. Now Shota realized that it was true, in a strange way Kanjani 8 was a family.
Shota's parents arrived in town. Subaru had to pretend. He lied and said that the guest bedroom was his room. He couldn't tell Shota his feelings. He knew he had to, to protect Shota from his father. Subaru was one of the few people that knew that Yasuda San used to beat Shota when he was a child.
Shota's parents had gotten divorced when Shota was only six. Unlike most divorced couples on Japan, they had an almost friendly relationship. Shota had stayed in contact with his father. When the accident happened, his mother had invited his father to stay with Shota.
Subaru had laid down some rules that no matter what his father told Subaru, he couldn't fight back. Shota explained that his father was a bigot and that he enjoyed fighting for fighting sake. Subaru hated to agree. He didn't like bullies, but he tried to go along with Shota's wishes.
Shota and his family were so busy with the hospital that Subaru concentrated on doing both Shota's work and his work. That was the only way Shota was allowed off work, if someone else did his filming.
The group rallied around taking care of Taru. It was Maru's turn to have Taru spend the night. Kanjani 8 had made it sound like an adventure. The family didn't want him to go to the hospital to see his mother. After a week Kaori was still in intensive care. Her condition never bettered.
Subaru gave up 'his' bedroom to Shota's father. He slept on the floor on a futon. Shota gave up their bedroom to his mother Mesuji san. Shota's step father couldn't get off work, so he was back at home.
Shota slept on one side of the room, Subaru on the other. They couldn't let Shota's father know the truth. That Shota was gay, and living with a lover.
Subaru laid in his futon. He tried not to think of his lover just a few meters away from him. They had been back together for six months, but Subaru still felt as if he was in the honeymoon phase. Knowing his lover was so close to he was very difficult for Subaru to sleep. Subaru closed his eyes, trying to think of anything besides the way Shota felt when he held him.
"Babu," he heard Shota whisper.
"Yes?" Subaru whispered back.
"I can't sleep," Shota confessed.
"Neither can I," Subaru admitted.
Shota got up and went to Subaru's futon. "Can I sleep with you tonight?"
"We'll get caught," Subaru warned. "You told me that your father's an early riser."
"I'll get up before my father does." Shota promised. "Please Babu; it’s been a week since we’ve been together...”
"All right," Subaru moved over and Shota got into the futon beside him.
Shota's lips found his. Subaru kissed back. He couldn't help it. He loved Shota so much. He didn't realize how much trouble he was getting as he made love to Shota.
Subaru could hear someone walking around the room. It wasn't the dogs, it was a human man. The steps angry, hostile. He could feel Shota sleeping against him. Subaru got a sinking feeling in his stomach. They had been caught.
The lights suddenly came on.
"Get the hell away from my son!" Yasuda san ordered.
Subaru sat up; he looked around for his clothes. He quickly pulled them on. Then he covered up his lover's nude body.
"This isn't how it looks." Subaru told him.
"What? You didn't crawl into his futon and forced him to have sex with you?" the older man demanded.
"Nothing I do with Shota is forced." Subaru admitted. "You did know your son is gay?"
Subaru went into the kitchen, hoping that Shota's father would leave him alone. He had promised Shota that he wouldn't fight with Yasuda san.
Instead, Yasuda San followed him into the kitchen. The punch came out of nowhere, Yasuda San's fist connecting with Subaru's eye.
"What do you want from me?" Subaru gasped. He wanted to fight back, but he had made a promise to Shota.
"I want you to leave him alone." Shota's father ordered. "I want you to find your own apartment, and live somewhere else."
"This is my apartment," Subaru pointed out. "He moved in with me."
"Are you the one that made him this way?" he demanded punching Subaru in the nose. He could hear a crack, and then Subaru's nose began to bleed heavily. ..
"I don't know what you mean."
"Of course you know what I mean!" Yasuda san thundered. "Are you the one that seduced him and forced him to love men?"
"Why don't you ask your son those questions?" Subaru demanded.
"Don't deny you're gay!" The man hit Subaru over and over again.
Shota couldn't help but hear what his father did to Subaru. Shota was terrified of his father, but he couldn't let his lover be hurt. Shota quickly got dressed.
Shota ran into the kitchen. "Leave him alone!"
Subaru looked at him; his left eye was almost swollen shut. His nose was bleeding. Shota realized that even though he was attacked, Subaru had kept his promise. He hadn't fought back.
"I'm trying to protect you from perverts like him!" Yasuda san insisted.
"Babu run! Get away from here!" Shota ordered.
Subaru nodded and ran out of the kitchen. Shota could hear the front door open and close. That meant that Shota was alone with his father.
"You had no right to attack my lover!" Shota tried to keep his voice level.
"I needed to know if he's the one that turned you homosexual." Yasuda san sneered.
"No one turned me homosexual. I was born gay." Shota admitted. "You can't blame him for my being gay. Shibutani kun wasn't my first male lover!"
"Then who was it that made you this way?"
"I told you! No one made me this way!" Shota insisted. "I found someone who makes me happy! Why can't you accept it?"
"After what Shibutani did to your sister, how can you stand to be around him?" he thundered. "He left her alone and pregnant."
"Subaru had no idea she was expecting."
"He couldn't guess?" Yasuda san sounded like he couldn't believe his ears. "That man destroyed one of my child's lives; I don't want him to destroy the other!"
"You are no longer welcome in my house." Shota told him.
"You can't throw me out!" Yasuda san shoved Shota hard.
"I mean it father, take your things and leave my apartment!" Shota shoved him back. "No one treats my lover the way you did."
Shota's father hit Shota hard across the face. So it had begun, as it had countless times in the past. Yasuda San would beat his son.
"Shunta! Stop it!" Shota's mother ordered as she came into the kitchen.
"He's taking the side of that Shibutani against me!" Shota's father hit him again.
Shota had enough; he was no longer the scared young child who would let himself be beaten. Using all his strength he punched his father as hard as he could. Shota could hear a loud popping sound. His father fell to the ground. Blood spurted from his father's nose.
"Damn it Shota! I think you broke my nose!" his father gasped.
"I mean it father, take your things and go to a hotel!" Shota ordered.
I'm going nowhere!" Yasuda san spat.
"Please mother, can you get father to leave?" Shota asked. "After what he did to Subaru, I no longer want him here."
"Of course," Mesuji told him gently. "Now go find your lover."
Subaru did as Shota told him. He ran. His nose hadn't' stopped bleeding. His left eye had swollen to the point that Subaru couldn’t' see out of it. His whole face hurt.
He went to Hina's apartment; he put his finger on the doorbell, not letting off until someone answered the door. It was Ohkura.
"Subaru! What happened?" the drummer asked.
"Help me, please." Subaru gasped.
"Sure, come in." Ohkura moved so that Subaru could come into the apartment.
Subaru went to the couch and sat down. Ohkura went and got a towel. He handed it to Subaru, who pressed it against his nose.
"Thank you," Subaru said.
"Who did this to you?" Ohkura asked concerned.
"Shota's father." Subaru admitted. "He caught Shota in bed with me."
"He didn't know that Yassan's gay?" Ohkura asked.
"I think he's in denial." Subaru told him. "He didn't believe me when I told him I wasn't Shota's first boy friend."
"He wants to know who Yassan's first boy friend was." Ohkura repeated. He got a strange look on his face.
"If you know, don't tell anyone." Subaru moved the soaked towel and pressed a cleaner part against his face. "I think his father would kill him for seducing Shota."
"Oh I see." Ohkura went into the kitchen and got a bag of ice for Subaru. "Think we should call the doctor for your nose?"
"No, there would be too many questions asked." Subaru told him.
Ohkura went into the other room. Subaru could hear him talking to Hina.
Hina came into the living room, and took one look at him. "You're going to the doctor."
"I don't want to go." Subaru protested.
"Let me see your nose," Hina demanded. Subaru moved the blood soaked towel for a moment. "You're right Tacchon, it's broken."
Hina pulled out his cell phone and called the agency. He explained quickly what happened.
They were about to go when the door rang. Ohkura answered it.
"What are you doing here?" Ohkura demanded.
"Is Baru-Chan here?" Shota asked.
"Let him in," Subaru told the drummer.
Shota came into the living room. His right eye was swollen shut, his top lip was swollen. "Baru Chan, are you all right?"
"Oh my god. He beat you too." Subaru realized.
"I'm all right." Shota joined him on the couch. He took Subaru's hand. "I'm in big trouble. I think I broke his nose."
"You broke your father's nose?" Ohkura asked.
"Yeah, I think I did." Shota admitted.
"I'm taking you both to the doctor." Hina decided. "Your eye looks very bad Yassan; it really needs to be looked at."
Shota sat on a seat in the doctor's waiting room. He had been checked by the doctor first. He found out that he looked worse than he was. He just had a badly bruised eye. His mother had called him earlier, to tell him that his father had a broken nose. She also told him that he had disowned Shota. In a way he was glad that his father was no longer in his life.
Shota had had never introduced the group to his father. It was because he was ashamed how bigoted his father was. His father had never accepted Shota's sexuality, though he had come out to him several times. Yasuda-san had always insisted that Shota’s sexuality was a phase. He had always been in denial about it, believing if his son found the right girl that he would stop liking men.
If only Subaru was all right. Shota could still remember Subaru’s face bleeding, his eye almost swollen shut. Shota had never felt so guilty about anything in his life. His father had badly injured Subaru. His lover didn't deserve to be hurt. He was worried; would his father's actions drive Subaru away from him?
The wait for Subaru to see the doctor was taking much longer than it did for Shota to see the doctor. The doctor was giving him a CAT scan to make sure that the brake wasn't too serious.
Shota reached up and touched his eye patch. He would have to keep his black eye covered until the swelling had gone down. He knew that the agency would be upset that one of its idols had its face bruised.
Ohkura sat beside him. "Are you worrying about Sibu-kun?"
"Yeah, I hope he isn't hurt too badly." Shota confessed. "I shouldn't have made him promise not to fight my father."
"You can't help that now." Ohkura rubbed Shota's back. It was so familiar, so comforting to Shota. "Sibu-Chan told me something, something that bothers me."
"If your father finds out who your first lover was, he’ll kill him." Ohkura almost whispered.
"My father isn't going to find out." Shota said firmly.
"How can we guarantee that?"
"Ta-Chan, I haven't even told Babu." Shota looked at his friend. "Why would I tell my father?"
"I just thought..."
"Well, don't." Shota insisted. “No one will ever find out.”
"You know, there's a part of me that still loves you." Ohkura admitted. "Sometimes I look back to those times, and I can't believe I was so happy."
"You have Hina now." Shota reminded him.
"Shingo's so wonderful. I want to spend my life with him." the drummer said. "But..."
"I'm glad my first time was with you." Shota took his hand and squeezed it. "You'll always hold a special place in my heart."
Hina came out of the doctor’s office, closely followed by Subaru. His friend had an eye patch on his left eye. His nose was also splinted.
When Ohkura saw Hina, he quickly let go of Shota's hand. His whole demeanor changed when he saw Hina. He gave his lover a look that he had never given Shota. The guitar player could tell just how deeply Ohkura loved Hina with that one look.
"How is he?" Shota got to his feet.
"I'm off work for three weeks." Subaru grumbled. "I might not even be allowed to go back then."
"What did my father do to you?" Shota asked.
"Broken cheek and nose, and he broke his orbital bone." Hina explained.
"What’s an orbital bone?" Ohkura repeated.
"The part of my face here," Subaru touched a place near his eyebrow.
Shota suddenly felt very, very guilty. Tears stung his eyes. "I'm so sorry Babu."
"I guess we better take you home." Hina decided.
Subaru suddenly looked very, very afraid. "Yasuda-san still there?"
"My mother told me my father returned home." Shota explained. "He's no longer welcome in my house, not after he hurt you."
The guilt Shota felt was overwhelming. He didn't sit by Subaru in the taxi that took him back to the apartment he shared with Subaru. Instead he sat by Ohkura. He couldn't stand to see Subaru, with the bruises on his face. The splint on his nose. The large eye patch that covered his hurt eye. His lover was injured because of him.
Shota realized it had to end. He would have to give Subaru his freedom, though he didn't want to. He had to protect his lover from his family.
Ohkura and Hina went with him to their apartment. Their dogs greeted them. Shota bent down and pet them. How would he ever be able to separate the dogs?
"Shota-Chan, you're back," His mother came into the entry way. She touched Shota's bruised face; her hand flickered over the eye patch he had to wear. "I can't believe your father did this to you."
"He used to beat me as a child. Why do you think anything changed?" Shota pointed out.
“I’m really sorry,” Mesuji san told him.
“It’s not your fault,” Shota walked past his mother. “I’ve never blamed you for what father did to me.”
Ohkura came into the apartment followed by Hina. "Is Yasuda-san still here?"
"No, he’s gone back to his home." Mesuji san told him.
"Subaru-kun, it's safe." Hina called into the hallway.
Subaru entered the apartment. Shota's mother gasped when she saw him. Subaru swayed a bit.
"Shibutani Kun, are you all right?" Mesuji san asked.
"I think I need to sit down." Subaru admitted. Hina friend helped him to the couch, where Subaru sat down.
"Have you taken your pain meds yet?" Hina asked.
"I can't take them." Subaru confessed.
"Why can't you?" Shota's mother asked.
"I'm an addict. I'm afraid if I take the pills, I'll go back to drinking." Subaru confessed.
"Would you like some tea? It might make you feel better," Shota's mother suggested.
"That would be really nice." Subaru agreed. "Can you make some for all of us?"
"I think that can be arranged." Shota's mother looked at him. "Shota, come help."
"Of course, mother." Shota bowed to his friends and went into the kitchen.
After several hours, Subaru was finally alone with Shota. Hina and Ohkura had returned to their apartment. Shota's mother had gone to the hospital. Taru was spending the night with Yoko.
Subaru's body was craving beer. But for the first time he wasn’t craving beer because of stress; he was craving it because he needed something to take away the pain of his injured face. He couldn't believe his face could hurt as much as it did. Hangovers were bad, but what he felt with his face was even worse. He had been given pain pills, but he was afraid to take them. He was terrified that if he took the pills that it would cause him to go back to drinking.
Subaru couldn't understand why Shota was acting so strange around him. His lover wouldn't look him in the eyes. Instead, he looked almost like a hunted animal, his eyes darting everywhere.
Subaru sat on the couch, but Shota sat on the only chair in the living room. Subaru waited for Shota to say something. His lover had a way of making things brighter when Subaru felt bad. This time though, Shota stayed strangely silent.
"What did I do wrong?" Subaru asked.
"You didn't do anything." Shota looked like he was interested in an invisible spot on the carpet.
"You won't look at me." Subaru pointed out. "I must have done something horrible to you to make you this angry."
“I’m not angry with you.” Shota admitted. "I'm sorry for what my father did to you."
"It's not your fault." Subaru told him.
"I don't know why my father gets this way." Shota tried to explain. "He wants me to be like everyone else, to get married, and to have a family."
"I guess it wouldn't help if I told him I wanted to marry you." Subaru confessed.
Shota suddenly looked up to him. His eye bandaged the same way Subaru's eye was. "You what?"
"Never mind," Subaru kicked himself. He couldn't believe he had just confessed his innermost desire to Shota.
"Please Babu-Chan; I need you to say those words to me." Shota told him in almost a whisper. "It would make what we went through worthwhile."
"I said I want to marry you." the older man looked into his eyes. "I love you, and I want to spend my life with you. I want to have a family with you." Subaru looked away from him. "But we can't get married. We can't have a family together. I'm sorry I brought it up."
"I want the same thing too." Shota confessed as he moved to the couch. "I want to marry you, to have a family with you."
"Does that mean we're engaged?" Subaru guessed.
"I guess it does." Shota told him. "The day we're legally allowed to get married will be our wedding day."
"That's one of the reasons I love you so much, you're so hopeful." Subaru took Shota's hand. "Sho-chan, does your whole family think that I'm a bad influence on you?"
"My mom adores you." Shota squeezed his hand. "She's proud of the way you turned yourself around."
"I hope so." he brought Shota's hand to his lips and kissed the knuckles. "I don't care what your father says, I'm not leaving you."
"Good, because I won't let you." Shota kissed him very, very gently.
Subaru flinched when Shota accidently touched his nose. Shota pulled away from him.
“I’m sorry. My face really hurts.” Subaru explained.
“You need to take the medicine the doctor gave you.” Shota told him.
“We both know I can’t take the medicine. If I do, I’ll go back to drinking. That’s the problem of being an addict. I can’t take pain medication.” Subaru reached out touching Shota. “Just your being here makes me feel better.”
“I’ll always be here,” Shota promised. Subaru realized that Shota was right; he would always be with him.
It was late when Shota returned home from the hospital. He found Subaru sitting on the couch, watching TV. It had been four days since Subaru had been attacked by Shota's father.
Subaru had decided that since he didn't have work, he would take care of Taru for Shota. The child was asleep on the other end of the couch.
"Are you still awake?" Shota asked.
"I wanted to see the end of the movie." Subaru rubbed his good eye. He sat up and stretched. "I guess I better put Taru to bed."
"Why don't you let me do that?" Shota asked.
"I promised I would take care of him." Subaru reminded him.
"What's wrong with a little break?" Shota smiled. He didn't tell Subaru how worried he was about him. Subaru had gone four days without sleep.
Shota picked up the sleeping boy. He carried Taru to his bedroom. Subaru ran ahead to open the door. Then he moved the blankets so that Shota could lay him down.
Subaru was the one that pulled the blankets up to Taru's neck. Then he tucked him in. His hand reached out to touch Taru's hair.
"Is something wrong?" Shota asked.
"I was just thinking...if we had a son, I wonder if he would look like Taru chan." Subaru said softly. “He looks like a strange combination of you and me.”
"You’re right, he does." Shota felt torn. He wanted to tell his lover the truth, that Taru was his son. But Shota had made a promise, and he was the type to always keep his promises.
"It's strange how he resembles me." Subaru paused. "I need to stop dreaming."
"Dreaming?" Shota repeated.
"I want us to have a family, to have children. We could have a little girl that looks like you, and a little boy that looks like me." Subaru sighed. "I know we'll never have biological children. If we are lucky enough to have a family. We’ll have to adopt."
"Someday, we'll have a family." Shota promised. “Even if they are adopted, I’ll love them.”
"Johnny-sama will never allow that." Subaru paused. "We’re going to wake Taru. Why don’t we go to the living room?"
"Yeah, okay." Shota agreed.
They went back into the living room. Subaru swayed a bit. Then he almost fell onto the couch.
"Be careful," Shota said as he sat down beside Subaru.
"I'm just a little tired." his lover admitted.
"Why don't you get some sleep?" Shota asked concerned.
"I can't. When I sit up I can handle the pain." Subaru said softly. "When I lay down, my face throbs so much that I can't sleep."
"Have you tried sleeping on the recliner?" Shota asked. "You could put the legs up, and you might be comfortable."
"Why do you think that?" his lover asked suspiciously.
"I always sleep on the recliner when I have a cold. When I'm all stuffed up, I can't sleep lying down." Shota explained.
'I'm so tired I'm willing to try anything." Subaru admitted.
Shota got some blankets and a pillow. Subaru sat down on the recliner. Shota moved the legs so that they were up. Then he put a pillow behind Subaru's head. He then covered up his lover.
"How does that feel?" Shota smiled.
"Really good." Subaru admitted.
"Good night Babu-Chan," Shota told him. "Love you."
"I love you too." Subaru closed his eyes.
Shota dimmed the lights and went into the kitchen. He made himself a cup of tea. A few minutes later Shota went back into the living room. His lover was snoring. Finally Subaru was asleep. Shota curled up on the couch and sipped his tea. All he could think of was Subaru's wish to have a family. It wasn't a bad wish. Shota decided to talk to Kaori when she got out of the hospital. Perhaps he would be able to talk her into believing just how wonderful of a father Subaru could be.
Kaori, Shota said a prayer for her. His sister was still in a coma. Her condition had never improved. Hopefully everything would be all right. Then Taru would have his mother back.
Shota was spending the day at the hospital. His sister had taken a turn for the worst, and his family decided that someone needed to be there at all times. That left Subaru with Shota's mother and Taru.
As soon as Taru had come home from school he took out his art supplies. Then he sat at the living room table, and began to draw a picture of Subaru’s' dogs. Taru was crazy about the dogs. He spent many happy hours on the floor playing with them.
"Uncle Subaru, what was the accident like?" Taru asked him.
"The accident?" Subaru repeated.
"Grandmother told me that you and Uncle Shota got in an accident. That's why you're hurt." Taru explained.
"To tell the truth, I can barely remember it." Subaru told him.
"You have to be careful next time." Taru told him. "If you're not, you might be in the hospital like my mama."
"Do you want to see your mama?"
"I miss her, but Taru's too young to go to hospital." He looked down to his picture.
Subaru came up with an idea. He would do something to get Taru's mind off of his mother. He went into the kitchen. Shota's mother was fixing dinner. Unlike Yasuda San, Mesuji San had accepted her son's sexuality.
"Can I take Taru to the park?" Subaru asked Shota's mother.
“Isn’t it a bit late to take him to the park?" Mesuji pointed out.
"Taru's upset about his mama. I thought going to the park might take his mind off of it." Subaru explained. "There's a park right up the street. Shota and I walk our dogs there every day."
Shota's mother thought for a moment. "That might be a good idea. Be back by dinner time."
"I will," Subaru promised.
Subaru took Taru to the park. They took the dogs with them. Taru carried the leashes of the two youngest dogs Java and Siva.
"When mama gets out of the hospital, I want puppies." Taru told Subaru. "I want them to be sisters, like Java and Siva."
"Hopefully, your mother will get you puppies." Subaru told him. "If she doesn’t, you can always share our dogs."
"I can share them really?" Taru's dark eyes were so innocent.
"From now on, they are your dogs too." Subaru decided.
For the first time since his mother's accident, Taru smiled at Subaru.
They finally arrived at the dog area. Subaru sat down on a bench while the child ran off to play with the dogs.
Subaru was glad that hardly anyone was at the park. People stared at him. But he understood why. He put his dark glasses on. Then he pulled his hood on.
"How old is your son?" A woman asked him.
"You mean my nephew?" Subaru corrected. "He's seven."
"He’s really cute." She told him. "His father must be proud to have a son like him."
"He must," Subaru lied. He didn't want to mention that Taru didn't have a father. He did know it was strange just how much Taru looked like Subaru's younger brother.
Subaru reached for his phone, he wanted to take a photo of Taru, but realized that he had left it at the apartment.
"So this is where you went." The unmistakable voice of Hina said.
"Taru was getting really upset about his mother, so I brought him here." Subaru explained.
"That was a good idea." Hina looked around. “We have to talk.”
Subaru realized something serious had happened. "What's wrong?"
"We tried to call you, but we couldn’t get any answer." Hina told him. "Shota's not in any condition to come here. So I said I would give you the news."
"Did something happen?"
"Kaori went into cardiac arrest." Hina explained. "The doctor's weren't able to revive her."
"She's dead." Subaru realized. “Shota needs me to be with him. The only problem is that I have my dogs and Taru with me.”
"I'll take care of the dogs and Taru." Hina decided. "You have to go to the hospital right now."
Shota couldn't stop crying. His big sister was gone. He had been there when she had gone into cardiac arrest. His mother had arrived soon after he had called her. She had gone to the chapel to talk to the priest. So Shota was left alone in the waiting room.
"Shota Chan," the very familiar voice of his lover said.
"Subaru, Kaori's gone." Shota began to cry again.
Subaru went to him, holding him close. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."
Subaru held Shota as he sobbed. He stroked his hair, whispering that it would be all right. Shota wasn't sure how it would be all right. Kaori was Shota's best friend outside of the agency.
Soon Maru, Yoko and Ryo arrived. The group huddled together, supporting each other.
"Where are Hina and Tacchon?" Yoko asked.
"Their taking care of Taru," Subaru explained.
"The poor little boy," Maru began to sob almost uncontrollably.
"Ryu-chan, it will be all right," Ryo took his lover in his arms.
"We're here for you," Yoko promised. "Don't worry about work or Taru; we'll take care of him."
"I'm so lucky to have a group as wonderful as you." Shota told them.
"We're not just a group, we're a family." Yoko reminded him. "Your family will always be with you."
Shota had to return to the family home for his sister Kaori’s funeral. His mother had quickly decided that Taru was too young for the funeral. Besides, he would miss too much school. The decision had angered Subaru. He thought that Taru really needed his family.
Instead, Subaru had been nominated to be the baby sitter. He was perfect for the job; he was on a forced vacation. Shota's father had refused to let Subaru attend the funeral. So he really had nothing else to do.
Subaru hadn't really spent much time alone with Taru. Shota always seemed to be there.
Taru sat on the floor playing with Java and Siva. Those were his two favorite dogs. They still behaved like puppies.
"Uncle Baru?' Taru asked.
"Yes Taru-Chan?" Subaru said.
"If Leelia died, would Java and Siva miss their mama?"
"Of course they would." Subaru got onto the floor with Taru. "Do you miss you mama?"
Taru nodded, tears stared running down his cheeks. "Why did she have to go away?"
"I don't know."
"Now I'm alone." he said morosely.
"No you're not." Subaru reached out and touched the boy’s tears. "You have Uncle Shota and me. And of course you have the dogs."
"I wish you were my papa." The boy told him. "I think you would be a good papa."
"I wish you were my son," Subaru confessed. "Sometimes I look at you and think you're my son."
"I always ask Santa to bring my papa to me." The boy confessed. "How can my papa not want me?"
"I don't know," Subaru admitted. "I hope my son will be as wonderful as you."
Subaru hadn't spent much time in his bedroom, only going in there to change his clothes. He spent most of his time in the living room. He went into the bedroom, for the first time he realized there was an envelope on the bedside table. It was addressed to Shota, from Kaori. There was a handwritten note on the envelope.
You really need to read this. If you do, do not tell Taru what you read. I mean it Subaru. We have to agree with Kaori's wishes.
Subaru knew he was being noisy, but he opened it.
I really don't believe that Subaru is sober. I don't believe he's changed. I will never forgive him for what he did to me.
He seduced me into believing for one night that he loved me. Do you really think telling me that he doesn't remember can take my pain away? He cried your name when we loved, did you know that? He wasn't even thinking of me, he was thinking of you. Do you know how much that hurts?
The only good thing I got from that night was Taru. I hate that Taru looks like him. If my son looked like you, I could forget. Instead every time I look at my son I see your lover.
Now you want me to tell Subaru? I can't believe that you want your lover to know that he’s the father of my child. Letting Taru think he's his uncle is almost too much. If you tell Subaru that he is a father, you will never see Taru again.
No matter what happens Taru will never find out that your so called boy friend is his father!
"Uncle Baru, what's wrong?" Taru asked.
Subaru looked up to the boy. He put the letter in his pocket. "It's nothing."
Subaru wanted to call Shota, to demand his lover tell him what exactly was going on. How could Shota know he was Taru's father and not tell him? Subaru really thought his lover trusted him. Now that he knew that Shota had kept a secret from him, he was no longer sure.
Subaru had never felt so confused about anything in his life. He was a father; he finally had the child he always wanted. The only problem was that his child would never know he was his father. Though when he looked at Taru, he felt as if he was looking into a mirror.
Subaru fell asleep on the chair, it was the only place he could sleep with his injuries. He was woken by someone shaking him.
"Uncle Baru," the young voice of Taru said. "Are you awake?"
"What's wrong Taru-Chan?" Subaru asked concerned.
"I'm afraid. Can I sleep with you?"
"I'm sleeping on the chair," He pointed out.
"Please, there are ghosts." The boy said terrified. "I can hear them through the wall talking. They're going to get me!"
"I think you're hearing the neighbors." Subaru told him gently.
"Please Uncle Baru; don't make me go back in there." Taru begged,
Subaru realized this was the first thing as a father he could do for his son. He moved over a bit. "Come on Taru, there's room for you."
Taru climbed onto his lap. Subaru held him, as he did he stroked Taru's hair. Soon the boy was asleep.
It was hard to be away from Shota so long, but it gave Subaru time to get to know Taru. The closer Subaru got to Taru, the more he realized that the boy was his son. It was a gut feeling that grew stronger every moment Subaru spent with Shota. Subaru couldn't remember sleeping with Kaori, but there were many people he had slept with that he didn't remember.
The only thing he regretted is that he had seduced Kaori into being with him. There would always be a part of him that would feel guilty for what he did to Kaori.
It was Subaru's job to pick up Taru from school. He wanted to go to the school, to tell the teachers that he was there to pick up his son. Instead, he told them the usual story, he was there to pick up his nephew. Besides, Taru didn't have Subaru's name. The boy was Yasuda Taru, not Shibutani Taru. Subaru didn't want unnecessary questions being asked about Taru.
Taru went to a Catholic school. Though Shota and Subaru hadn't talked much about religion, Shota's family was Catholic. Subaru didn't think it would be good idea to tell the nuns that Subaru felt more pagan then anything. That he felt strange that his son was attending a Catholic school. . Besides, as 'uncle' Subaru didn't have much say in the matter.
While Subaru waited for Taru, he looked around the lobby. The school had a Christmas tree, and a display. There was a notice on a board stating there would be a Christmas program in a few days. There was a list of soloists on the notice, one of them being Yasuda Taru.
"Uncle Baru, are you ready?" the young voice asked.
"I see you're going to be in a program." Subaru gestured.
"Yes, it's a concert. Just like you and Uncle Shota." the boy said proudly. "Will you come to my concert?"
"Of course I will," Subaru promised.
"Uncle Babu, you look like me!" Taru smiled at him. "Sister Rita said so this morning."
"Well, I am your uncle." Subaru pointed out.
"I wish you were my papa." Taru took Subaru's hand.
Subaru smiled at the child, though inside he wished he could hear his son call him Papa.
"Christmas is coming today," Taru sang to himself as he rode in the car. He had been singing Christmas songs almost since they had gotten into the car. Subaru thought it was strange, the holiday was two weeks away. But then he realized that Taru was simply practicing for the play.
While they were driving, Subaru looked at the boy. "Do you like Christmas?"
"Yes, Uncle Baru." the boy said brightly. "Mama always had a tree, and we ate fried chicken every Christmas day. Santa always leaves me as many presents as I am old."
"That sounds like a good memory." Subaru smiled.
"Santa won't find me this year." He said sadly. "Mama's gone, and Santa won't know where I am staying."
"Perhaps if we get a tree, he might know." Subaru suggested.
"I would really like that Uncle Baru." Taru smiled.
Subaru took Taru to their apartment. He went to his closet and got out the boxes marked "Christmas things'. Shota's favorite holiday was Christmas. He would always put up a tree and have a party near Christmas.
He knew that Shota might not understand why he had to do this for Taru. But the little boy needed something to make him feel good.
"Look what I found." Subaru brought the boxes into the living room.
"Your Christmas things!" Taru said happily.
"Let's put them up." Subaru decided.
"We need Christmas music!" Taru told him.
"Of course! That’s what I was forgetting!" Subaru went to the stereo and found a radio station playing Christmas music.
Subaru opened the first box and took out the medium sized artificial tree. He put it on the living room table.
"Uncle Baru, that's not where the tree goes!" The boy told him.
"Where does it go then?" Subaru asked.
His son looked around the room. Then pointed to a small end table that was in a corner. "We can put it on that. Then we can put the presents around them."
"All right, let's do that." Subaru decided.
Subaru put the tree on the end table. He could hear Taru going through the boxes. With every box that was open, Taru looked more and more heartbroken.
"What's wrong?" Subaru asked.
"You don't have an angel, for the top of the tree." Taru looked as if he was about to cry. "We can't have Christmas without the angel."
"Let me think a minute." Subaru closed his eyes. He could remember Shota had a special box that was in his drawer in the bedroom. "I'll be right back Taru-chan."
Subaru went back into the bedroom. He quickly opened the drawer and took the box out. It was labeled angel. He knew that Shota had some strange beliefs about the angel ornament. He had told Subaru that whoever put it on the top of the tree got a wish granted.
Subaru found Taru crying to himself. Subaru knew it must be hard on the child, now that he was totally alone.
"Look Taru-Chan, I've found the angel." Subaru told him.
"You found the angel?" Taru quickly wiped his eyes. "You'll get the wish?"
"I don't need a wish," Subaru opened the box. "You're a big boy. I think you need a wish."
"But I have to put in on top. I'm too short." Taru pointed out.
"I'll lift you up." Subaru handed the angel to Taru. Then he picked the boy up in his arms.
Taru placed the angel at the top of the tree. Then he closed his eyes tightly. "Please, please give me my wish. Please let my papa find me so I'm no longer alone. "
Subaru found himself repeating Taru's words. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He hoped that he would be able to tell Taru that his wish came true.
As Shota’s partner Subaru knew he had to support his lover in a hard time. The way that he did was to take care of Taru while Shota was on bereavement leave. It was hard, Subaru really wanted to be with Shota. But he knew in the long run that it would be for the best if he stayed away from the funeral.
It had been a week since Kaori died. Shota was scheduled to return to Osaka from his family home in Hyogo the next day. Shota had requested that Subaru not pick him up at the airport. Shota was afraid that the press would film them.
Subaru busied himself getting their apartment ready. He wanted it to look perfect when his lover arrived.
He worked on the shrine. Shota had a small one in the corner of the living room. Subaru didn’t' really care about the shrine, he wasn't too religious. But it had always given Shota comfort. He placed a framed copy of Shota's favorite photo of Kaori on the shrine.
Subaru looked at his son. Taru was sitting at the living room table coloring a picture.
"What are you drawing?" Subaru sat by him.
"Just a picture." Taru told him.
Subaru looked at the drawing. Like many kids Taru drew a picture of a house. But there was only a child in front of the house.
"Where's everyone else?" Subaru asked.
"I only have me." Taru told him. 'Now that Mama's gone, I'm all alone."
Alone, Subaru could remember the time he was apart from Shota. He had been alone then. It had been hard on him. But he could imagine just how hard it could be for a small child.
"You're not alone," Subaru told him. "You have your Uncle Shota and me. We'll be your family."
"All the kids at school laugh at me because I have no Papa." Taru said glumly. "Now I have no Mama."
"Taru Chan, you do have a Papa." Subaru reached out, smoothing the hair from his face.
"Mama said Papa don't want me." The boy said sadly. "He wouldn't visit Taru. Mama said I look like my Papa. If I do, why won't he want me?"
"You Papa didn't know about you." Subaru tried to explain. "If he had, he would have been there for you."
"Why would he not know that I was alive?" Taru sounded confused.
"I knew that you were alive, but your Mama didn't tell me that I was your Papa." Subaru confessed.
Taru’s eyes got huge. "You're my papa?"
"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you." Subaru fought back the tears. "But I promise that you're never be alone. Your papa will protect you."
"I always feel safe with you, Papa." the boy took Subaru's hand.
"I never thought I would ever hear you call me Papa." the tears he had been holding in began to fall.
"Don't cry Papa, it's all right." Taru put his arms around him. "Taru's here for you. You don't need to cry."
"It’s just that I love you so much." Subaru admitted.
"I love you too Papa." the boy hugged him tighter.
Shota came back from family's house in Hyogo. He was upset to see the apartment had all ready been decorated for Christmas. Subaru hadn't even put everything in the correct place. Plus it was his job to decorate for Christmas. Subaru didn't even celebrate the holiday.
Shota was also upset to see the angel had been put on the tree, which meant that Subaru had been digging around in his things again. Shota knew that Subaru had no idea about the tradition of the angel wish. He was angry that the wish had been wasted.
Shota couldn't help but notice the drawings that had been placed on the wall. One of a house and a little boy. The other of the same boy, but two men were with him, along with five dogs.
Taru came into the room from the kitchen. He was wearing a blue apron. "Uncle Shota, you're home."
"What are you doing Taru?" Shota asked.
"We're cooking!" Taru told him. "We just took the Christmas cookies out of the oven."
"Can I have one when their cool?"
"Of course Uncle Shota!" Taru went to the pictures. "Look at my drawings."
Shota looked at them again. "Can you describe them for me?"
"The first one I drew when I thought I was alone." Taru explained. "Then Papa told me that you and he are my family, so I will never be alone again."
"Papa?" Shota repeated.
"I'm sorry, it’s supposed to be a secret." he looked away from him ashamed. "Papa wanted to tell you himself. It’s such a big secret, that Taru told it."
"When did he tell you?" Shota demanded.
"Yesterday." Taru said. "The angel granted me my wish. I finally have a Papa."
"Papa let me put the angel on the top of the tree. Then I wished really hard that I could find my Papa." Taru explained.
"You made the angel wish?" Shota asked.
"My angel wish came true Uncle Shota. I found my Papa." Taru said excited.
"Who's at the door?" Subaru came into the living room.
"It's Uncle Shota, Papa." Taru told him.
"I see you told him." Shota said.
"I know I'm not respecting your sister’s wishes," Subaru told him. "I was alone for two years. I didn't want him to be alone. Taru needs his Papa."
"We need to talk," Shota decided. He glanced at Taru. "Alone."
They went to their bedroom and shut the door. Shota had to talk to Subaru, to get him to understand just how wrong Subaru was to tell Taru the truth. The problem was; Shota was too angry to think straight.
"Why did you tell Taru that you were his father?" Shota demanded.
"I thought Taru had the right to know the truth." Subaru told him.
"That really wasn't your responsibility to decide." Shota told him. "When I left the letter for you, I wanted you to abide by Kaori's decision."
"Why didn't you tell me that I am Taru’s father?" Subaru demanded.
"It was Kaori's choice. She made me promise not to tell you." He tried to explain.
"Why are you telling me this now?"
"My mother can't take care of Taru." Shota tried to explain. "She knows you're Taru’s father. She thinks it would be best if he live with us."
"This is a lot to take in." Subaru paused. "You mother wants Taru to live with me, but to keep the truth from him?"
"It’s what Kaori wants," Shota pointed out. "We have to respect my sister's wishes."
"Tell me Shota, what do you want?" Subaru demanded. "I feel like you've made a choice about us, and you're afraid to tell me."
"I thought I could trust you with the truth."
"The truth is my son was alone." Subaru tried hard to control his temper. "The truth is if I hadn't told him that I was his father, he would still be alone. Now he has a family."
"Taru all ready had a family, my mother and me." Shota countered.
"You're not Taru's father! I am!" Subaru screamed. "Your sister kept the truth from us to punish me! Without me, Taru's alone!"
"I've all ready told you, Taru's not alone!" Shota couldn't keep the anger out of his voice. "Kaori decided that he doesn't need you!"
"I'm his father!" Subaru thundered.
"I'm the one that is going to have control of Taru, not you." Shota confessed. "You can live with us, but you have no legal right over Taru."
"Is that what your mother decided?" Subaru asked sarcastically.
"She wants the best for Taru." Shota told him. "Taru doesn't have your name. He will never legally be a part of your family."
"I'm leaving." Subaru decided. "I'm taking my son with me. No matter what you assholes decide, I'm his father."
“Subaru…” Shota began.
Subaru went into the living room. He grabbed the dog’s leashes. He quickly put them on the dogs.
“Papa, are you taking the dogs for a walk?” Taru asked.
“We need to visit Uncle Hina,” Subaru told him. “Put your coat on.”
“Yes Papa.” Taru did as he was told, he put his coat on.
Subaru handed his son Java and Siva’s leashes. He looked back to Shota, his face full of pain. He stood for a moment, as if he was waiting for something.
"Subaru..." Shota began.
"No words Shota. We both knew it would end this way." Subaru's voice cracked. "I hope someday we'll be friends."
"We're more than friends." Shota reminded him. "We're engaged."
"No, we’re not engaged anymore." A single tear rolled down Subaru's cheek. "I really wanted to spend my life with you. But you couldn't trust me with the truth."
“Papa, are we going?” Taru asked.
“Yes, we’re leaving.” Subaru looked at Shota, his eyes full of tears. “Sayonara Yasuda-kun.”
With that, Subaru walked out of Yasuda Shota’s life.
Shota looked around the apartment, everything that he been angry about he saw in a different light. He shouldn’t have gotten upset about Subaru decorating the apartment for Christmas. He realized that Subaru had tried hard to make Shota’s homecoming a happy one.
Shota also knew that he was very wrong in condemning Subaru for telling Taru the truth. Subaru really loved Taru. He only wanted the best for him.
Shota ran to the door, he opened it and looked down the hallway. Subaru and Taru were gone, almost as if they had never been there in the first place.
"I'll get you back," Shota promised himself. "Somehow we'll spend Christmas together."
Subaru felt liked he was running away from home. He brought with him the couple's five dogs and Taru. He had no clothes or anything. He just knew he had to get away from Shota. His heart hurt so much. The pain was worse then what he felt from his broken nose and his broken orbital bone. Subaru felt even worse than the day he hit rock bottom. It was the agony of the end of a dream.
Subaru went to Hina's apartment. He had promised his sponsor that he would stop visiting without calling first, since Hina was now Ryo's sponsor. But this was different. If he didn't talk to his sponsor, he knew he would go back to drinking. He knew it would be so easy. If he got drunk he knew he would forget about Shota, at least for a little while.
Ohkura opened the door. He was wearing a robe. "Let me guess, you're craving beer again."
"Can we come in?" Subaru asked.
"Even if I said no, you'd barge in anyway." Ohkura gave him a half smile. "Why are you here?"
"I had a fight with Shota. We're over." Subaru told him. "I left and I'm never, ever going back."
"There's more isn't there?" The drummer guessed.
"I have to stop myself from getting drunk." Subaru admitted.
"Come in," Ohkura moved so they could come into the apartment.
"Papa, are we in trouble?" Taru asked.
"No honey, you're not in trouble." Subaru told him. "Why don't you play with the dogs?"
Taru unleashed his dogs and ran into the living room with them .He got on the floor and began playing with them.
"Do you want me to talk to Shota for you?" Ohkura offered.
"What will that help? I lost him Tacchon." Subaru felt very depressed. "I just wish he could have understood my feelings."
"Leave it to me." Ohkura promised. "Shingo, I'm running to Shota's apartment. I'll be back soon."
Subaru watched Ohkura leave. He began to pace the small entry area. If he got drunk he wouldn't remember. The pain would be gone. But now he had Taru. His son's presence reminded him of his past, when he was only seven. Subaru's father had chosen the bottle over his family.
"You made me a promise Subaru," Hina told him.
Subaru walked into the living room. "I know, I know, but this is the first time in a very long time that I want to get so drunk that I forget everything."
"So why come here?"
"Because I know I can't get drunk!" Subaru said almost exasperated. "I need, I really need to talk to someone. I can't, I can't drink. I have to think of Taru-chan."
"It’s all right. Remember I told you that I'll always be here for you." Hina gestured to the couch and Subaru sat down. "What happened?"
"I left Shota." Subaru confessed. "I thought when he came home that he would be happy to see us. Instead he blew up at me."
"So you want to get drunk because Shota got angry?" Hina guessed.
"No, it's because of something else. Something really big." Subaru thought for a second. "I didn't follow Shota's wishes. Not only that, he didn't trust me with the truth."
"What kind of truth is that?" Hina prompted.
"Shota left me a letter that told me that I'm Taru's father." Subaru admitted. "I don't even remember sleeping with Kaori. But I was told I did when I was very drunk."
"All alcoholics do things they don't remember. Things that make you ashamed of afterwards."
"I look at Taru, and I see myself." Subaru confessed. "If I start drinking, I'll become like my father."
"No, you're not like your father." Hina reached out, rubbing Subaru's back. "You came for help. Your father never did, and that's what killed him."
"I just wish Shota and I hadn't had the fight."
"Shota probably didn't mean whatever he told you." Hina said gently. "He's still going through grief for his sister."
"Kaori wished that I never find out that Taru's my son. Taru was so alone. He needed his Papa, so I told him the truth. ." Subaru felt tears sting his eyes. "Now Shota's mad at me because I didn’t' follow Kaori's wishes."
"Taru needs you," Hina reminded him.
"Shota's family has decided that Shota will be Taru's guardian." Subaru looked at Hina. "I feel like Shota's picked his family over me. I thought our relationship meant more to him than that. I had even proposed to him."
"You want to marry him?"
"Yeah, I do. But how can I marry anyone who doesn't trust me?" Subaru said hopeless. "I really wish I could take everything back, but I know it's too late."
"That hurts doesn't it?"
"The only thing I've wanted with Shota is to have a family." Subaru felt the tears sting his eyes. "Now I have the child I so desperately want, and I no longer have Shota."
"But you do have a family." Hina pointed out. "You have Taru. The two of you can be a family."
"What's going to happen when Johnny-sama finds out about my son?" a tear escaped from his eyes and rolled down his cheek. "He'll make me give Taru up."
"Don't worry about Johnny-sama. I'll take care of him." Hina promised. "Right now you have a family to worry about."
There was a knock at the apartment door. Shota felt an adrenalin rush. Had Subaru returned home? He quickly ran to the door and opened it. Instead of Subaru, he found Ohkura, wearing only a bath robe.
“What are you doing here?” Shota asked ushering his friend inside.
“Subaru is really, really upset. He came to our apartment needing a lot of help.” The drummer explained. “He told me that for the first time in a long time, he wanted to get so drunk he would forget everything.”
“We had a fight,”
“I guessed that.” Ohkura sat down on the couch.
"I left him a letter telling him that he's Taru's father." Shota admitted as he sat down by his friend. "I told him that he wasn't supposed to tell Taru the truth, but he did."
"Keeping the truth from Taru would upset Subaru." Ohkura admitted. "He's always wanted to be a father. Now he finds out he's one, and he has to keep the fact a secret.”
"I feel so torn." Shota admitted. "I want to have a celebration, that we're finally a family. But I have to go by my sister's wishes."
"You should do what your heart tells you to." Ohkura said after a few moments of thought.
"My heart tells me to go to Subaru, to beg him to come back to me." Shota said without thinking.
"Then why not do that?"
"What if he tells me to go away and never come back?" Shota countered.
"Do you really think Subaru will do that?" Ohkura gave him a knowing smile. "You're his world. Give it a chance Yassan."
“Give me a few minutes to regroup.” Shota decided. “Is there any way you can get Hina out of his apartment?”
“Don’t worry; I’ll take care of it.” His friend promised.
Shota had never been so afraid in his life. He had preformed solos in front of an audience at the Tokyo dome, and he wasn't so scared. He wasn't even this scared around Johnny-sama.
Finally, he knocked on Ohkura's door.
"Coming," the very familiar voice of his lover said. A few minutes later the door opened. "Sho-chan, what are you doing here?"
"We have to talk." Shota told him. 'Please let me in."
"Sure, come in." Subaru moved to let Shota come into the apartment.
"Where's Taru?" Shota asked looking around the apartment.
"Hina and Ohkura took him to the park." Subaru explained. "Now what do you want to talk about?"
"I wanted you to know that you were right. Taru has a right to know who his father is." He paused. "I've felt so torn. I tried to go by my sister's wishes. But I wanted you to have the family you always wanted."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"Because I would have lost Kaori and Taru. I kept trying to talk her into telling you. I thought you had a right to know." A tear rolled down his cheek. "You don't know how truly sorry I am. I never wanted to hurt you."
“Grief does strange things to people,” Subaru reminded him.
The tears came, Shota knew he was showing weakness, but they wouldn't stop.
"I want us to be a family. I want us to spend Christmas together." Shota wiped the tears from his face. "I wish I hadn't lost my temper when I returned to our wonderful home. But now there's nothing. Why does loosing you have to hurt so much?"
Shota felt arms going around him, very familiar arms. Then a tear choked voice said. "Don’t' cry Shota Chan, please don't cry."
"I lost you. I can't live without you." the tears turned to sobs.
"No, no, you didn't lose me." Subaru soothed. "I was wrong to lose my temper. I should have thought that you were going through grief. If I had to do it over again, I would have been more understanding. I'm sorry Sho-Chan."
'You left me."
"I was wrong to leave you." His lover stroked his hair. "I messed up our dream, didn't I?"
"Come back to me, please." Shota begged. "We can have the family you always dreamed of, you, me and Taru."
"A family, I'd like that." Subaru kissed his lover very gently.
Shota pulled away from Subaru, he reached out touching his face. His lover still wore the patch that covered his broken orbital bone. “Let’s go home.”
“What about our dogs and Taru?” Subaru asked.
“We’ll leave Tacchon and Hina a note,” Shota found himself smiling. “They insist Taru’s their nephew, so why don’t we ask them to baby sit?”
“Sounds good to me.” Subaru gave Shota his special smile. Then Subaru kissed Shota one more time.
Three days before Christmas, Subaru was able to get his eye patch off. He began to look normal again. He had come and went from Taru's school, never once being recognized. Now there were looks, not the looks of pity that he had been given when he wore the eye patch and the nose brace, these were looks of recognition.
Subaru wasn't sure he liked the looks. He had enjoyed being known as "Taru's uncle/Papa." Now he was back to being a celebrity.
It was the night of Taru's school program. Shota, Subaru and several other parents were in a classroom with their children who were getting ready for the program. The program was different then what Subaru had always participated when he went to school. Instead of being in the classroom, the program was being held in the auditorium, with all of the students participating.
Shota fussed around Taru. Helping him get his angel costume ready. Subaru wasn't sure why his son was dressed as an angel. He just knew that all the children in the classroom were wearing some type of costume.
"Why are you so nervous?" Shota asked him.
"I've never been to my son's school program before." Subaru confessed.
"It’s just a school program," Shota told him. "You don't have to do anything, just watch."
"Don't worry Papa, I'll do my best." Taru tried to reassure him.
"I know, you'll be fine." Subaru smiled at his son.
"Parents, it's time for you to go sit in the audience." A teacher told them.
Subaru looked his son over one more time. "Try hard."
"I will," Taru promised.
"Come on Papa," Shota took Subaru's hand.
Subaru followed Shota to the auditorium. For the first time, he realized that there were teen aged girls in the audience. A couple squealed when they saw them. Some whispered to each other. Several mothers took a camera out and took photos of them.
Subaru tried to ignore the audience. He wasn't here for the attention; he was there for his son. But the camera's bothered him. The agency had a no photograph rule and Subaru knew he would be in a lot of trouble if any of the pictures were sold to the press.
"Hina and Tacchon saved us a seat." Shota whispered to him. "See? Their sitting right by Ryo, Maru and Kimi."
Subaru groaned to himself. *Great, just what I need. The whole group here!*
Shota grabbed Subaru's hand. "Come on, their waiting for us."
More camera clicks. Subaru hated cameras' he really did. He should have said something, but he didn't. Instead he followed Shota to the seat and sat down.
"What's wrong?" Hina whispered.
"Nothing," Subaru grumbled as he ignored more people taking his photo.
"Quit acting like me on a bad day," Ryo told him.
"Shut up Ryo." Subaru snapped.
"You're here to watch your son perform." Yoko said way too loudly.
Those made a good part of the audience turn around and look at them. Subaru tried to duck down in his seat. He wanted to hide away.
The program finally began. That took the audience's attention off of the group.
Subaru finds that the program was cute. They didn't shove the church thing down his throat. He hated that when he had gone to church before. Instead it was about the children.
Taru sang his solo. He was dressed as an angel. His voice was strong, clear. It didn't take Subaru two seconds to decide that his son would never join Johnny's.
One of the things Shota loved about his apartment was the fact that two of the walls had windows to the outside. While everyone else he knew complained about living in an apartment that was on a corner of the building, Shota adored it.
Shota could hear a thunderstorm going on outside. Shota loved sleeping in the rain. But he knew that both Subaru and Taru hated bad storms.
Shota was woken by a small body jumping on the bed. Thinking it was one of the dogs; he turned over and began to pet it.
"Uncle Shota, I'm not a dog." Taru told him.
"What's wrong Taru?" Subaru sounded very, very afraid.
"There's thunder!" Taru almost yelled. "Can I sleep in here tonight?"
"Shota-Chan, can he stay tonight?" Subaru asked.
"Of course," Shota turned so he was lying on his side.
"What about papa? Can he stay?" Taru put on his best pout.
There was a loud crash of thunder. Taru grabbed onto Subaru as tightly as he could.
"Don't make me leave him." Subaru pleaded. "I need to protect him."
"All right, this time." There was another peel of thunder. Shota moved closer to the, and hugged the two of them tightly.
Shota was the first one up the next morning. It was only three thirty, but Shota was going to start co hosting a morning show right after New Years, and all the start times were at six. So he was getting ready for his new show. He began to make a pot of coffee. Someone pounded on the front door.
Shota ran and answered it. It was Yoko, who pushed his way inside. He was carrying a stack of newspapers.
"What are you doing here at this time of morning?" Shota asked.
"We've got a problem, a really big problem." Yoko sounded like he was out of breath. "You better wake up Subaru."
"It's that big?" Shota asked.
"The rest will be arriving here soon." Yoko told him. "I've called an emergency group meeting."
"But why here?"
"Because we have to figure out what to say before Johnny-sama gets wind of this." Yoko tried to explain. "And he will, as soon as he picks up a paper."
"I'll go wake up Subaru." Shota decided.
Shota went into their bedroom. Very carefully he shook Subaru awake, explaining that Yoko had called an emergency group meeting.
Shota went back into the bedroom. He was followed by a very tired looking Subaru.
Within twenty minutes the whole group was sitting in the living room. None of them looked too happy.
"It's Christmas eve Kimi." Hina reminded him. "It's a day of romance, not group meetings."
"I'm supposed to be at the studio in two hours." Maru reminded him.
"Yeah, why do we have to have a group meeting at four in the morning?" Ryo grumbled.
"We're lucky my cousin is a news agent. He called me as soon as he got the morning papers." Yoko said.
"What’s so important about the papers?" Ohkura asked.
Yoko held up a paper. There was a photo of the group at the school program. The headline was; "Kanjani 8 attend school program to see Yasuda Shota's bastard son perform."
"That's just plain crazy." Ryo said. "Shota's never even slept with a girl."
"It gets worse." Yoko showed them headline after headline. One asking why Shota's son looked like Shibutani. One paper commented on Shota holding Subaru's hand.
"Hina, you told me you would talk to Johnny-sama about Taru." Subaru said.
"I did, and he was fine with being a father as long as you were quiet about it." Hina explained. "But now that it's gotten out in public."
"I'm in big trouble."
"It's all of us," Yoko pointed out.
"What if I go to Johnny-sama and take responsibility for you guys going to the program?" Subaru suggested.
"But it wasn't you." Maru said. "Taru is the one that invited us."
"I'm Taru's father. I have to protect him."
"Babu-Chan, you could get fired." Shota said softly.
"I know, but I enjoyed these few weeks of being off." Subaru told him. "I've worked before to support myself. I'll just work a little harder to support our family."
Just then Shota's cell phone began to ring. He picked it up off the table. "It's Johnny-sama's private number."
Subaru grabbed the phone. "I'll talk to him."
Subaru went to the kitchen, shutting the door.
"I can't believe he did that," Maru said.
"It's like an alien took over Subaru and suddenly there's a responsible man in his place." Ryo said.
"He's been this way since he found out that he is Taru's father." Shota told him.
Thirty minutes later, Subaru came back into the living room. He handed Shota his cell phone.
"What happened?" Shota asked. "Did he fire you?"
course he didn't fire me." Subaru sounded really upset. "He just came
up with something that apparently he convinced your mother to accept."
"The agency has released a press release stating that I was secretly married to Kaori. Taru was our child. I will raise our son as a widower. Shota of course would be involved in raising our son as Taru's uncle. "
"My mother agreed to that?" Shota asked.
“Johnny-sama told me she did.”
"That isn't all is it?" Ryo guessed.
"What did Johnny-sama want?" Yoko asked.
“He’s going to let me keep Taru," Subaru sank down on the couch, putting his head in his hands. His shoulders began to shake. Subaru was crying in front of everyone.
"He's punished you." Shota realized.
"My salary is being cut by two thirds. Not only that, Johnny-sama's putting my savings in trust. I won’t' be able to touch it until I'm forty." Subaru felt hopeless. "How am I going to be able to support Taru?"
"You mean, how are we going to support Taru." Shota sat down beside him.
"Are you sure you want to stay with me?"
"We're a family now. You, me and Taru." Shota ran his hand across Subaru's back.
"You shouldn't have to support me."
"I know, but I don't mind. We're family after all."' Shota hugged him. “The three of us together are a family.”
"You baka's forget, we're not just a group, we're a part of your family too." Ryo growled.
"Between the rest of us, we'll be able to support you and Taru." Maru decided.
Shota was surprised when the rest of the group surrounded them, enveloping them in a group hug. But then he realized he shouldn't be. They were after all, family.
Subaru decided that Christmas wasn't his favorite holiday. For one thing he had to buy seven presents for Taru, and then wait till his son was sleeping to wrap them. That meant that Subaru was up to all hours putting together the art desk that he had bought for his son. He had spent two hours putting that desk together. Now all the exhausted Subaru wanted to do was sleep. But unfortunately, the fates had decided that on this day, Subaru wouldn't get to sleep.
"Papa! Papa! Wake up!" an excited voice said to Subaru. "You got to wake up, come see!"
Subaru opened his eyes. He looked at his son. "Taru-Chan, it's still early."
"Papa! Santa came! You've got to wake up." Taru insisted.
"Why is he waking up so early?" Subaru groaned to himself.
"Get used to it Papa," An all ready awake Shota smiled at him. 'This is what's going to happen every Christmas."
"But I was up till four wrapping..."
Shota put his hand on Subaru's mouth. "Get up and put your robe on."
Subaru grumbled, but did as he was told. He followed his excited son to the living room. The presents were in the same place that Subaru had placed them less than an hour before. Subaru sat down on the couch.
"Why did the world do this to me? Why do people have to wake up so early on Christmas morning?" Subaru asked himself. He wanted to close his eyes and drift back to sleep.
Shota sat down beside him and poked him hard in the side. "I mean it Babu, get up and stay up. Stop being so grumpy."
"All right," Subaru stretched, he suddenly felt more awake.
"How many presents did you get?" Shota asked Taru.
Taru counted. "Nine! Santa only brings me same presents as my age. I’m only seven! Why did I get so many?"
"Maybe Santa lost count." Shota said. "Why don't you check the tags?"
"Taru, Taru, Taru," The child held up a present. "This one says Uncle Shota!"
"Why did Santa bring me a present?" Shota asked confused.
"You must have been extra good!" The child handed him the present. Then went through the rest. "There's a present for Papa!"
Taru gave the small box to Subaru. Then he went back to his pile of presents and began to open them. The dogs got involved in playing with the paper, Taru put a bow on each one's collar.
Subaru didn't realize he could have so much fun just watching a small child shriek with delight in getting a new set of art supplies. Then he jumped for joy when he took the wrappings off his new art desk.
"Papa! Papa! Santa gave me everything I wanted!" The child told him.
"Well, you have been good." Subaru pointed out.
"Aren’t' you two going to open your gifts?" Taru asked.
"Of course," Shota opened his box. Inside was a wedding band. He brought his hand to his lips. "Subaru."
"I know we can't be legally married, but can't we please be privately married?" Subaru asked.
"That's all I want," Shota suddenly looked close to tears. "Please Babu, put it on me."
Subaru took the ring out of the box. Shota held out his shaking hand. As he slid the ring on Shota's finger he said. "From this day forwards, we're married in our hearts."
"If you get married, you're supposed to kiss." Taru pointed out.
Subaru reached out and touched Shota's cheek, and then he kissed him gently.
"I'm so happy," Shota told him. "Now my husband, you have to open your gift."
"It can wait." Subaru was so happy that his present didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was the smile on his lover's face.
"Our marriage can be even more special if you open it." Shota insisted.
"All right," Subaru opened the gift. Inside was a gold wedding band. "Shota, how did you know what I was planning?"
"I didn't. I was going to try and talk you into getting married today."
Subaru handed the box to Shota. "Put it on me."
Subaru held his left hand out, and Shota slid the ring on it. "I love you so much. Take this ring as a sign of our commitment, my husband."
Subaru had been almost constant contact with his mother about Taru. She had been in America with Subaru's brother, helping him settle at the university that he would be attending starting in January. She was so excited to have a grandson. She arranged to fly back to Japan in time for the New Year’s holiday. The only thing she wanted to do was to meet Taru.
The doorbell rang. Subaru went and answered it. It was Subaru's mother, Shibutani San. Subaru smiled at his mother. "I didn't think you were getting back from America until tomorrow."
"I got an earlier flight," She told him as she walked into the apartment. "Now where is my grandson?"
"I think he's playing with his gifts." Subaru told her.
"Gifts? It isn't New Years." She said confused.
"The Yasuda's are Catholic." Subaru tried to explain. "Shota's family has always celebrated Christmas in the Western way."
The door to the kitchen opened. Shota came out.
"Shota kun! It's good to see you again." Subaru's mother smiled, she went to him and kissed him on the cheek.
"It's good to see you too Shibutani San." Shota told her.
"I keep telling you, call me Rae. We are family." She chided. "Subaru told me that you were going to get married today."
"You don't mind that we're privately married?" Shota sounded like he couldn't believe his ears. "My mother wasn't please when I told her we got married."
"I'm so happy that you’re now my son." Subaru's mother smiled at him. "Now please, call me Rae."
"Yes, of course, Rae." Shota corrected himself.
"I'll go get Taru." Subaru told them.
Subaru went to his son's room. Taru was busy at his new desk and drawing with his new art supplies.
"Taru there is someone I want you to meet." Subaru said.
"Really? Who?" the boy asked curiously.
"My mother wants to meet you." he told him. "She came all the way from America to meet you."
"Okay," he put his things down and followed Subaru into the living room.
"Mama, this is my son Taru." Subaru introduced.
"Your son looks just like you did when you were a boy." Shibutani San knelt down so she was at Taru's level. "It's good to meet you Taru. I'm your grandmother."
"I have another grandmother?" Taru asked.
"You don't mind do you?" She smiled.
"Santa brought me another present." Taru realized. "He brought me a grandma!"
There was a knock at the door. Shota ran and answered it. He found Maru and Ryo standing there.
"I'm sorry I'm late," Maru said as he came into the apartment. "I had to work."
"What are you late for?" Shota asked confused.
"Nothing, it's nothing," Ryo came behind him, wearing dark glasses and carrying a large bag in one hand, a pie in the other. "Isn't that right Ryuhei? It's nothing."
"You guys have something planned." Shota realized.
"Why would we have anything planned?" Ryo pretended ignorance. "I'll put the pie in the kitchen."
Just then there was another knock. When Shota answered, it was Yoko who also carried bags.
"What are you doing here?" Shota asked.
"Kimi-kun, just on time!" Shibutani San went up to him, she directed him into the kitchen.
Five minutes later, Hina and Ohkura arrived. They too carried bags. They too were hustled into the kitchen.
"Something really weird is going on." Shota said to the only other two left in the room, Subaru and Taru.
"You think?" Subaru countered.
"Do you have any idea why the rest of the group hiding in the kitchen with your mother?"
"Not a clue." Subaru admitted. "But I had a feeling my mother was up to something when she suddenly came home early."
About thirty minutes after they arrived, Maru and Ryo came out of the kitchen. They put wrapped presents by the tree.
"Why are you putting presents out?" Taru asked.
"Santa left some of your presents at our place." Maru lied.
"So we thought we'd give him a hand and deliver them to you." Ryo said with a smile.
"What's going on?" Subaru asked.
"You'll find out." Ryo said before he grabbed his lover and went back into the kitchen.
A few moments passed and Subaru got his answer. The rest of the group came into the dining room. They placed platters of food on the dining room table.
"We had a group meeting." Hina said.
"I was there remember?" Subaru asked.
Hina wacked Subaru on the head. "We had last night. We decided since we have to work on New Years, we'll celebrate our family gathering today."
"Family gathering?" Subaru repeated.
"Taru has a very large family," Ohkura told him as he put the plates out. "It's natural that they would spend it together."
"I have eight uncles Papa, one uncle's in America. Uncle Uchi's in Tokyo and the rest are here with us!" Taru told him. "We are a family now aren't we?"
"Of course we are." Subaru couldn't help but smile at his son.
"It’s time to eat," Shibutani San came out of the kitchen.
"Come on Subaru, be human for once." Hina whispered to him. "We didn't want Taru to be alone on his first Christmas without his mother."
Come on Papa, let's sit down." Taru said tugging his hand.
Subaru decided to give in gracefully. Taru and Shota looked so happy as they sat down.
"Did Santa bring you anything good?" Maru asked Taru.
"Santa brought Uncle Shota and Papa rings." Taru told the group. "They got married."
"Married? Really?" Ohkura asked with interest. "You really got married?"
Shota showed Ohkura his ring. "Yeah, we're privately married."
"Shingo-Chan," Ohkura looked at his lover. "I want to get married."
"We'll talk about that later." Hina told him. "We're here to have a celebration, not get engaged."
"But I want to get engaged!" The drummer pouted. "Not tomorrow, not next week but now!"
"All right, we're engaged." Hina groaned. "Now can we please eat?"
Ohkura grin lit up the room. He got up and kissed Hina on the cheek. Then he sat back down.
"If you tell them I gave you a ring last night, you're in big trouble." Ryo told Maru.
"I won’t' tell them we got engaged." Maru said perkily.
"Come on everyone, the food's getting cold." Shibutani San told them. "Let's eat."
Subaru looked at the rest of the group. At time he hated them, at times he loved them. Even though they had told him that they were family this was the first time that Subaru really felt that Kanjani 8 were really a family. He realized he finally had what he had always wished for. A family that loved him as much as he cared for them.