AN: Really, this is just an excuse for myself to see Dojima being called Dad by Yu. I half think it's awful writing with the amount of times Dojima and Yu refer to each other as Dad and son. I'm partially tempted to write alternates universes of Dadjima. Fudge. My head hurts primarily because I haven't written anything in a long time. Also, don't burn braincells thinking how some parts don't fit in canon to a T. I vaguely hinted parts of the social link and golden scenes. This isn't canon compliant at all and diverges at the end. Also, I don't claim to be a good writer so I feel like everyone is OOC. Let me enjoy my selfish dreams.
"Congratulations are in order I guess." Ryotaro couldn't think of anything else to say. Words were never his thing.
Ryotaro listened to his sister give her thanks, talk in excitement about her promotion, how she did not really expect this kind of promotion. She then went on what happened recently about her work though he knew that he would be lost somewhere along with just the first two sentences. Well, that's how she had always been. While never managing to keep up with what she shared with him, just listening and hearing her talk was enough for the two of them. They haven't talked that much due life getting to them. There were a lot of reasons. While their recent calls were a bit of out of the blue, it was a welcome distraction.
Whenever he was lost in their conversation, a few lines often brought him back to the topic, like big news.
"It couldn't have come at a better time! I'll be out of the country this time. Yuuji would be with me because he has work near there. Great coincidence, right?"
Wait. Did she say out of the country? He was happy for her but then...
"What about your kid?" Are you planning on bringing him along was the silent question. How good is it to bring a kid out of a country? He grew up in Inaba. He can imagine living in the city but out of the country? He couldn't imagine how difficult that was.
"Actually, that reminds me, we'll be leaving him behind. Yuuji and I prefer him continuing his school here not to mention Yu's a very independent kid. It wouldn't really be a problem since he's such a well-behaved kid."
Alone? Nanako's face flashed through his mind. Ryotaro felt conflicted. The idea of a kid suddenly moving to another country but being left behind... He didn't know which was worse. He knew some teenagers could live alone given the circumstances. Still... to be left alone for a year on your own? No matter how mature his sister claimed his nephew was, a kid was a kid. All kids needed looking after. Not that he was an ideal Dad or a parental model. The truth was, he was the furthest thing from one.
Not even thinking about it, he opened his mouth.
"How about he spends a year here in Inaba? The house could use another person."
That was how he jinxed himself in taking in his nephew.
He hated life officially.
There were still no clues to Chisato's case. There was this new bizarre case? Adachi didn't make it easy either. Going home was starting to be harder. Work just piled up. Why did he offer to take in his nephew? He wasn't doing that good with Nanako. How was it going to be any different from Yu? It didn't help that the kid was very formal. Too formal. It was either the kid felt like a stranger, or he wasn't doing enough job as an uncle to make him feel at home.
April passed like a blur. Sleepless nights at the station. He was barely home. By the time May came, worked slowed a bit but still a lot. It was enough that it gave him a little break here and here. It was enough that he could be home to see Nanako and his nephew a few days. Most of the time that he came home, the kids were already asleep and he was bone-tired to notice anything. May break was enough that his mind was awake at home to notice a few subtle differences to his house.
The first thing that looked different was the kitchen. It was generally left unused since Chisato... The kitchen felt used and rearranged? Nanako wouldn't touch the kitchen except for frying eggs and toast so maybe it's his nephew? Boys normally don't cook. Or do kids these days do? Then there was Nanako. Oddly enough. Nanako was no longer just singing Junes. She started singing about Yu. She was all about big brother this and that. Her topics ranged about everything they did from cooking, to shopping, to chores and gardening.
Was Yu some miracle or was his age catching up to him? Does it only take a month for kids to bond fast enough to call someone big bro? It sure felt like he was missing out. He wished there were more people on the force. Work was ten times more due to the lack of people. He knew he should try to be home more. He had made promises to himself multiple times but ultimately failing to meet the goal. It was work, it was more important. That was the excuse he told himself, just so that he felt less guilty whenever he stepped into the house.
Luckily enough, the latter part of May allowed him at back on home earlier. Time was mostly spent with Nanako and Yu, the latter oddly liked talking to him. He didn't get it though. He burned braincells thinking of topics to touch and half the time he couldn't seem to let go of interrogating the kid half the time.
Still... going home was more pleasant. It felt okay. For one, they didn't as have to eat as much take outs as before. The refrigerator always seemed full. There was always homemade dinner. That solved the kitchen mystery fast. Dinner was always delicious. His nephew liked to cook. a lot.
At times him and Yu were talking and Nanako would start rubbing her eyes. Bedtime for his daughter. Usually, he would take care of it but sometimes he was too tired, not that he minded, he loved Nanako like no other and Yu just moved like he could tell how tired he was.
"It's bedtime for you little missy." Yu's arms were open, swooping to carry Nanako like he'd been doing it all along.
Nanako grabbed what her little arms could at Yu's shoulders, and she was leaning on him, nuzzling like a kitten. "...Bedtime...story?" she mumbled but mostly close to dozing off. Yu just laughed softly, patting the crown of her hair. "Only a little then." Satisfied with that, the little girl dozed off. Ryotaro knew, she might wake up once in bed just for that story promised. He wondered if Yu realized what he just promised Nanako.
The image was warm. It was so reminiscent of how it was before. Before everything went wrong.
"I'll take her to bed uncle." Yu's smooth and honeyed voice snapped him out of his thoughts.
"Sure. You should also go to bed too after this." Yu smiled in response as he started off go upstairs but stopped midway, remembering something.
"Oh. Umm. Goodnight Yu." He answered awkwardly. Yu nodded, not reacting to his awkwardness and then left to take Nanako to bed.
It wasn't like before. It was new. It wasn't bad. It felt... different. He couldn't tell if he liked it or not.
"It's an old scooter, but she's a beaut that won't let you down." Ryotaro was just trying to be an uncle. Give the kid a little treat seeing as how well Nanako and Yu got along,. Too well that they're now brother and sister. He had never seen two quiet kids that together be so lively? So far, Yu has been a great addition to the house ignoring his odd choice of friends, and the weird places he hangs out. Multiple part-time jobs, managing his lively friends, watching out for Nanako, and he scoring high on his exams; it was a well deserved reward.
What he didn't expect was the kid smiling, eyes beaming which took him with surprise. It almost gave him this idea that this was Yu's way of expressing pure happiness that reminded him of Nanako. That's what it looked like to him. He wanted to rub his eyes if he was seeing things since the kid wasn't that expressive to begin with. Not that he could really say no on getting a scooter when Yu already got the license way too quickly, waving it in front of him moments ago. He was hoping to have more time to surprise him. This kid...It coming to look like Yu's the sort you need to take a few extra steps for.
Now Ryotaro really needed to think of some reasonable excuse to tell his sister of why he agreed to Yu getting a scooter license and giving him his old scooter. Afterall, this was the same old scooter that gave his sister and their parents headaches.
"Are you sure I can have this?!" Yu asked, a smile in his voice that he never heard before. His eyes seemed to shine, still grey, but colors seemed bounced off.
"Hahaha. Of course! Definitely! You should have seen this old man of yours, talking about taking an afternoon break, going here for parts and had this worked on for you? Such a doting dad for his kids, isn't he?" Adachi teased.
Then Ryotaro, of course, smacked Adachi. That was way too much information. He was grateful that Adachi accompanied him but he didn't need to add those details.
"Shut up. You're rambling nonsense." Dojima grumbled then looked at Yu. "Go ahead. Give it a test run."
Yu in his part, seemed to perk like a kid, as perky as he could get. The only indication that made him think of it was the look on his eyes. Once again, it reminded him of Nanako. "Thanks Dad!" As if realizing his slip of the tongue, Yu went to the scooter a little too fast give it a run. Despite doing so, Ryotaro saw his ears turning a little red.
"Wow. That's such a proud dad look on your face right now. You're really a sucker for both Nanako and Yu as well aren't you, Dojima-san?"
This time, Ryotaro made sure to smack Adachi's back HARD, just so he wouldn't see the blush he felt on his face.
It felt weirdly nice. From Uncle to Dad, that sure took him by surprise. Dad, huh? Uggh. He didn't want to think about it.
Why did such a word give him weird vibes? He has a daughter who's called him Dad. Why did this feel so... He shook his idea at the thought. It was just a slip-up, nothing more, and tried not letting his thoughts linger on it.
That's what he told himself every time he remembered Yu saying it. He was sure Yu never meant to say it too.
"Alright Dojima-san. Lay it on us. You've been way too happy for days. So what's been making you so happy? Nanako?"
Then Adachi the bastard had to open his stupid mouth.
"Ahhh. Probably Yu-kun. You know, his nephew. He's been grinning like that over being called Dad."
Of course that meant another hit to Adachi's back. He ignored the blabbermouth's complaint. Why couldn't Adachi be this focused on work?
The others just laughed though.
"He grew so fast on you. Hard not to. Doesn't he prepare those delicious lunches of yours?"
"You lucked out having kids like that. So young but so thoughtful and responsible. I could only wish my kids were the same. Haha."
"I guess I did." And he would not say more.
"And yet you won't give us a bite on those lunches of yours."
"Of course not. They're delicious and I'm spending who knows much time here. I need every bite."
"Uhuh." Was what his colleagues said, completely unconvinced. He'd leave it at that. He really needed the food. It wasn't definitely because his kids made it together one time for him.
"Dad, Yosuke's sleeping over tomorrow." Yu was pouring water to his glass. As if realizing what he had just said, Yu looked down, then drank water from his glass.
The blush was noticeable too. He was glad the newspaper covered his own face.
Like every time this happened, they both acted like it was never mentioned.
"I'll leave the futon for you. You can take it out later."
"Th-thanks. Then I'll be upstairs a bit to do homework." Yu took a hasty retreat.
"Oh Dad, the bath's ready for you." Nanako announced and then tilted her head looking at him and where Yu went. "Big bro? Hmmm." Nanako then looked back at her Dad.
"Oh... Uhhh... Great."
"Dad. You and big bro are acting weird again. I don't get it." Nanako's eyes never felt bigger and piercing as it did at that moment.
Ryotaro laughed awkwardly. "You're imagining things. I'll be taking that bath then. Thanks Nanako." He gave her a quick pat and hug as he made his way for the bath.
He was thinking about it as he took his bath.
Still thinking about it as he dozed off to bed. He hoped not to end up thinking about this for days.
He shouldn't have been surprised that Yu used the same term for trouble too.
Ryotaro was just turning a page of the newspaper when it happened.
Yu, hefting what seemed to be a guitar case, trying to be subtly to leaving the house.
"And where are you going? It's a school night and I don't think you're going out for work?"
The mentioned boy faced him, grey eyes avoiding his for second before locking with his. That was weird even for Yu.
"I'm sorry Dad." Yu paused and watched him, as Ryotaro stood up and crossed arms. The way he said it... sounded like trouble. Like teenage causing trouble.
Yu waited a few more seconds, blinking and just staring at him. Just when he thought Yu was not going to speak, the boy did. "You see Dad, I...I'llbemakingsureI'llbeinschooltomorrowThanks!" Yu spoke so fast, face seemingly red but for different reasons. Yu turned back to slide the door open, not even waiting for a response.
"Wait? What? Wait a second here Yu." His mind stuck on the Dad comment for a second or two and then remembering Yu was obviously going to hightail out of the house permission granted or not.
That seemed to be what Yu was counting on as the kid ran for it. "I'm reallly sorry! I'll be back home tomorrow!" His voice faded, running from the house, despite Ryotaro rushing out to the door trying and failing to chase Yu.
"Yu! Come back here. Yu!" His shouts were ignored and watched his kid's figure fade into the distance.
"Did something happen?" Nanako walked in confusion towards him, fresh out of bath.
He hefted a sigh. Did he jinxed himself when he wished once Yu to act like a normal kid?
"How unusual to see you here Dojima-san."
"Haha. I thought I might buy a thing or two for dinner."
"That's great. Speaking of which, tell that son of yours to drop by, I have some new seeds he might be interested in."
"Son? Oh you mean Yu. Yes... Of course you meant Yu." Even people these days referred to Yu as his. It was sort of heartwarming and nice. And the switch from nephew to son. Did they really act that way towards the others?
The housewife just laughed. "It's so easy to forget sometimes he's your nephew, especially with how the way the three of you look. Like he's always been here."
"Uhhh. Right. Oh, I'll let Yu know. Thanks."
"No need to worry. It's really nice seeing how into gardening your kids are. You have to make sure they're always eating their greens."
"Yes. Definitely. Uhhh... I'll be going now to check on dinner to buy."
"Oh sure! Don't let me keep you." The housewife laughs.
"Dad why did you ask me to go up and down. I don't get it?" Nanako said in confusion.
Yu sent similar looks to him though opted not say anything.
"Nevermind that. Come here you two. Sit." Ryotaro said with a smile, siting on his usual place by the coffee table.
Nanako and Yu looked at each other, mirroring bewildered looks but nonetheless sat on their usual respective places.
Ryotaro placed what seemed to be a boxed cake, then silently opened it, gathering his thoughts all the while.
He looked at the two, Nanako who looked curiously on the cake and Yu as usual, looked neutral but knowing the kid for months, he was definitely smiling.
He coughed. "So...uh. Today's a special day for us as a family."
"It's a special day?" Nanako wondered.
"That's right. It's the day the three of us become a family."
"What about before?" Nanako asked. Yu just silently watched him or was probably silently laughing like the little shit he was.
"Well...uh. Anyway. At any rate this is the day we become a real family."
"I see." Nanako turned to look at Yu. "I don't really get it, but isn't that great, Big bro?"
"Yeah." Yu gives off a gentle smile towards Nanako, and then eyes sweeping off to once again to his own mug served and looked back at him. "Dad-uncle, this mug?"
Ryotaro laughs. "We should really stop doing this. You're already like a son to me. Please use this mug. It's got your name on it. I'm sure it would make Chisato happy."
"Oh. Thanks Dad. I'll treasure it."
"And this." Ryotaro hands Nanako a folded paper and Nanako reads it.
"Any day is fine." Nanako looks back in curiosity.
He smiles again. "It means any time is fine. I promised I'll go."
"Okay." Nanako smiles happily.
Life couldn't get any better than this.
Just when he thought nothing could get any better, mistakes happened that changed everything drastically.
He hurled accusations, dragged his kid to the station that ended up causing Nanako to be kidnapped and Yu to take on everything.
Like the kid he was, he came home, Nanako rescued through her health not yet sure if she would be okay.
So they waited.
"Uncle...ummm... Here you go." Yu pushed on perfectly cute bunny-shaped apple slices. " You need to eat so Nanako won't worry about you."
He smiled his thanks, taking in the plate of apple slices and looking at his tired looking nephew or son.
Maybe he deserved it. Once he saw the letter, the world felt like it was crumbling down on him. Someone had dared to send a letter to his house. To his kid. It felt like... he was about to lose everything. Chisato's face flashed to his mind at the time. Instead of thinking things through, he panicked and messed up everything. He wanted to rub his face. He noticed mildly how Yu ommited himself from the equation.
It hurt how he failed. It felt even more awful to leave everything to a seventeen-year-old kid when he shouldn't have to. It should be his. But what probably hurt the most is how Yu seemed to have distanced himself, the expressive kid that came out sometime during the year was fading away, his voice sounding like a ghost, ready to disappear into the darkness.
This he had to fix and there was no time but present to do it.
He took a bite. Yu smiled from his seat, a little awkward from the usual smiles, the same that he used to give when he started living with them. His eyes were neutral, as if to protect himself. Ryotaro couldn't ignore his kid's bagged eyes, and when the kid noticed his stare, Yu's eyes turned to avoid his, taking out a book to read.
Yu looked fine at first glance, not a single hair out of place but his stiff shoulders told a different story. Like Nanako who had screamed at him one night before this mess happened, running away, sitting down there on the Samegawa river, looking small. Yu looked just as small as she did then.
He pushed the table away. Yu needed him just as he needed both of them. Nanako and Yu were both his kids. Both who needed a father.
"Hey son. Come here would you?"
His reaction wasn't any better. Yu looked away from his book, eyes neutral, like a wary cat, not sure to trust the hand offered.
"You can indulge your old man or are you too old to get hugs?"
A second and two passed.
"...but your injuries?"
Ryotaro laughed a little. "Just because I'm injured doesn't mean I can't take a hug or two. So? What will it be?"
Silently, Yu trudged, sitting beside him and hugging him back awkwardly.
That was exactly what they both needed.
"Yu, it's not your fault." He started then rubbed Yu's back. Whatever what was holding Yu back burst out. He felt silent hiccups, tears staining his hospital clothes. "You did a great job of bringing her back. Let's both believe in Nanako."
Hands clutched the back of his clothes at those words.
Yu sniffed. "It's not your fault either... Dad." Ryotaro couldn't control tears that filled his eyes at those words. It was hard not to. It felt like that horrible night was all on him. Yu and Nanako in shambles, paying the price for his foolishness. His mind screamed, wanting to deny those words. It was his fault - he wanted to say. To say he was blameless felt like lies and yet... he couldn't help but hold onto those words.
He held on to Yu a little tighter. "I know son, I know."
That was what this was.
The machine that beeped didn't feel as suffocating as it did a few days ago.
All he could look was her sleeping eyes, chest that moved to breathe in and out.
"Nanako will be okay." He watched as Yu grazed his fingers through Nanako's hair softly.
He patted Yu's shoulder, hugging him to his side as they both watched the girl sleep soundly.
"She's so strong." He couldn't help but say.
"Dad. It's like you said. Nanako...She's the strongest so we should believe in her."
"You're right. You're right." As if hearing them speak, her hands clenched back towards his, responding, letting them both know she was still there, fighting.
Nanako slept soundly on Yu's lap, a happy smile. Yu just continued to gently play with her hair.
"She sure enjoyed herself, didn't she?" Ryotaro sat beside him, looking at her with warmth. They were home. They were okay. They made it.
"Definitely." Yu said with a smile. "I did too." Yu leaned towards him, resting his head, closing his eyes with a soft smile. "This was my first Christmas with someone for a while now."
"Oh..." The news brought him happiness and sadness at the same time. He brushed his fingers along Yu's shoulders then towards his hair. It shouldn't be something rare but something normal to celebrate on December.
His thoughts trailed over his sister, his nephew. and the lack of calls or letters.
He stopped himself from thinking where his thoughts were about to go. It wasn't time to deal with those issues.
His eyes trailed over the sleeping Nanako and he felt the relaxed posture of his nephew who seemed to have fallen asleep while he was immersed in his thoughts.
Yup. It was about this.
He had a lot to makeup for. He would make sure to fill those days full of it.
For now, there was one thing he wanted to say.
"Son, Merry Christmas." And he kissed the crown of his head the way he would Nanako's.
It was just one night. Thank God he had the thought to come home. He was never appreciative of his detective hunch as he did then when no one seemed to be answering the phone earlier.
Seeing how badly his kid was right now, he silently thanked the nurse who gave him some medicine on his way out.
Yu was red-faced, puffing, and looking like he was troubled by nightmares if the knot his brows were to go by, a really bad fever hitting him. His temperature was high and showed no sign of going down. Just the face brings back nightmares on how Nanako was back in November.
No. This was just a flu, Ryotaro told himself. The kid must have overestimated himself, exhausted from wandering around in Inaba in cold weather. Winters in Inaba were colder compared to the city. It didn't make the feeling in his chest better. Still, Nanako was being observed at the hospital, healthy and energetic. Yu was the opposite. He's a strong kid. He will be fine.
With Nanako mostly healthy, maybe he can come home to check on Yu from time to time.
And while here, he'd definitely make sure to take care of his son.
He nudged Yu's shoulders a little, but the kid continued to sleep.
"Yu? Yu?" After a few more attempts, the kid's eyes fluttered a little, eyes showing no recognition nor awareness.
He moved Yu's head, his hand carrying most of the weight, put the pill by his mouth, glass of water ready so he could take the medicine. Thankfully, despite groggy, Yu swallowed the medicine.
Ryotaro shhed. "Go to sleep. I'm here."
Not sure if hearing his voice was magic or if his fever overtaking, Yu's eyes just fluttered close, falling asleep just as quick. He gently moved Yu's head back to his pillow, gently fingering his bangs.
Like the cat Yu was responding to a petting, his breathing seemed to go slower, softer, gentler, a more relaxed face as he slept. This kid was such a cat.
Ryotaro moved to fix his comforter, making sure it covered him well before moving to leave the room. Better check on those friends of his downstairs.
Thankfully, one of Yu's friends seemed to be staying with him. Another was visiting?
He noticed the house was cleaner. Not Yu-level though. Or Siblings level. Nanako and Yu always made sure the house was well-taken cared off.
"Dojima-san?" Dojima turned to look at his kid's friends.
What a blessing it was and in turn that extended to him and Nanako too.
"Right." He had the change of clothes he came to pick up. Originally, he was going to ask for Yu's help.
"No need to worry Nana-papa! I'm making sure sensei is well taken-cared off!" Teddie exclaimed with excitement.
He sometimes forgot how rowdy Yu's friends were.
"Shhhh. Try not to be too loud. Yu's sleeping remember?" Yosuke admonished and then turned to look at him a little nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. "Uhhh. No need to worry about Yu. This bear's here to make sure Yu's in good hands." The brunette said.
But also nice and caring kids.
Noticing his own hesitance, Teddie was at it, spoke again. "That's right! I've been doing my best to take care of sensei! I always check his temperature and feed him too! And no need to worry about food, they're not Chie-chan's, Yuki-chan;s nor Rise-chan's! Mama-Hanamura or Kanji's mom always sends food. I think some from the neighbors too. Sensei's so famous, everyone loves him!"
"Everyone's taking turns to visit him daily so Yu's in good hands. You should focus on recovery and Nanako. And if it gets too bad we'll make sure to let you know." Yosuke added.
"Alright, alright. Say no more. I really don't want to leave him alone but it looks like you've got yourselves here to make sure Yu's taken cared off. I'll let you kids handle it. Only...that you kids promise to let me know if it gets worse." Dojima asked.
Both kids eyes looked pleased with his answer.
"You can leave it to us! Yu's always been there for all of us. I think we already speak for half of Inaba. We'll make sure he's okay."
"Nanako's mostly good. I'm there with her mostly to keep her company. I'll still come back here time to time to check on this...kid of mine."
He felt a little guilty leaving Yu in others care but he should still make some time to check on Yu.
"You know uncle- I mean Dad, you've gotten better at coffee. It tastes a little different recently."
"Hahaha. It's a little bit weird to try to correct yourself with March coming soon. You've been calling me Dad all year around. I'm glad that you liked it. I heard a thing or two from our neighbors." Ryotaro laughed as he enjoyed their usually nightly talks.
"To be honest, I don't even know why I started calling you Dad in the first place. It was just a slip up the first few times and then you kept on making this really odd face throughout the day that I couldn't help myself doing it from time to time." Yu admitted, taking another sip.
Ryotaro just laughed at Yu's explanation. It was just so like this son of his, blurting things out just to see how other people would react. Or like him as well? "To be fair, you being here was also an accidental offer I made to your mother. Nonetheless, it's a good type of slip-up for both of us. I never thought I'd get myself a son in the process by doing so."
"I'm going to miss your coffee. This recent blend has been delicious. I guess I'll also miss your interrogation sessions. No Dad interrogates me the way you do."
Ryotaro can't help but laugh at that one. His attempts to converse with Yu always had some form of interrogation. It had lessened in time but there a couple of times it happened.
Old habits were hard to break.
"Of course, even if you've grown up, you'll still be my son and Nanako's older brother. I'll always fill that coffee of yours the way you like. This house, your room, it's yours too. So if you want to be here, it's okay." Ryotaro reached his hands, covering Yu's that held his mug of coffee.
Yu tilted his head to one side.
"You're part of the family. You know, there's still time, so anything you decide, it'll be okay. Understand that, Yu?"
Yu bit his lip and stared back at him for a few seconds. Pondering and blinking once, looking at their hands together. As if making a decision, Yu looked back on him.
"Is that... really okay?" Yu asked, sounding a little unsure which was rare. You wouldn't even notice unless you listened carefully. Listen for the barest tilt or pause as Yu often spoke in that mellow honey voice that revealed nothing at first glance. That was Yu for you. He gave everything he got for others but rarely, almost never asked anything for himself. His son wasn't one to express himself as most people did. It was a unique language of his own, one that would only get by understanding and living with him. His eyes spoke sentences as if to make-up for the lack of what he didn't say. If he did show anything, that was intentional after much deliberation on his part.
"It is, Yu. Whether you're half the world away and decide out of the blue, you want to come here, that's okay too. You commit a crime, not that I'm encouraging any antics now, I'll... no... Nanako and I would be there for you. Even when you've gotten married with kids of your own or when I'm old, on a wheelchair, you'll always be family."
Ryotaro made sure to keep his eyes on Yu as he said this. He slowly peeled his hands away, watched as Yu look down on his mug and take another sip.
A blink. Grey eyes looked back at him. A smile that told Dojima a lot of things.
"I know Dad... Afterall, we all share the same matching mugs together." Yu looked thoughtful as he said this, like he did when he was thinking about a recipe he wanted to try out.
"But I wouldn't go as far as committing a crime."
"Tell me that after you got kids of your own."
Ryotaro called it a success when on March 20, a day left before Yu was supposed to leave, bags packed and for the first time around, Yu finally asked. He looked a little tired, but more sure of himself.
"Dad... I want to stay in Inaba. I know it's sort of last minute..." Yu started off and continued. "I was actually partially scared of leaving Inaba but I no longer feel that way. This time, I want to stay because I want to. Also, because I know this is where I want to be." Yu finished looking at him, grey eyes, looking clear as day, like when a storm has ended.
"Of course you can stay." Ryotaro told Yu with a smile.
Yu blinked, as if surprised.
"But my school paperwork? And the train ticket?" Yu asked.
"Why don't you call your Mom to ask?" Ryotaro asked in return, lips quirked in a smile, watching Yu all the while. It was probably the first time Yu lit up in so many emotions.
Yu looked doubtful, staring at him, maybe half hoping he would talk and then looking back at his phone. Ryotaro couldn't help but think how Yu was so much like him. That furrow in his brow when thinking, eyes wavering wanting to make the other person talk when it was obvious something was up. A second passed and Yu must have decided to ask later and dialed his mother's number.
Yu looked a little surprised, mouth opening a little when his sister answered right away. He knew he had Yu where he wanted him to be.
They spoke briefly and Ryotaro watched and watched. He watched him blink in surprise, glance back at him, face a myriad of emotions unnamed, then spoke again to his Mom, voice softer for minutes before briefly ending the call.
Yu closed his eyes, his hands shaking and put his phone on the table. Underneath the table, despite the distance, Ryotaro knew his hands were clenching and unclenching. A few tears escaped his eyes.
"Dad! Are you picking on big bro again?" Nanako asked, a little frown as she brought tea on the table.
This time Ryotaro smiled silently as he picked Nanako who squealed a little, having her sit on his lap. Nanako tilted her head up and then looked at Yu silently.
After a minute or so, Nanako spoke. "You okay big bro? I made tea." she poured one and pushed a cup towards her brother.
Yu smiled in response. He smiled, eyes full of happiness before looking back at Nanako and him. His son coughed a little before speaking. "I'm okay Nanako. I'm great." Yu smiled in response and looked back at him.
"How did you know?"
"We may have known each other close to a year but sometimes, time isn't what measures to become a family. What kind of dad would I be if I didn't know what my son wanted?"
Yu shook his head, smiling to himself. A beat and two passed. "I'm not leaving Inaba?"
"No, you aren't unless you're already sick of our faces." Ryotaro joked.
"So Big bro's not leaving?! He's staying!" Nanako looked confused but her eyes glistered with the same happiness that Yu had.
"No he isn't." Before Ryotaro could say more, Nanako jumped to Yu, hugging him happily. Yu received Nanako naturally, used to her bursts of jump hugs. The two shared a happy laughter, looking and acting like their ages for once.
"I can't believe I'm staying. I mean I thought what mess this would be, mostly impossible and my mom, and the paperwork..." Yu trailed off, still smiling and looking at Ryotaro with his silent question of how and when.
Ryotaro laughed first before answering Yu's question. "It was something I'd been thinking about before the year ended. Then the new year started. You didn't think I was just sitting on my thumbs at the hospital were you?" Ryotaro couldn't help but tease.
He could see the confusion in Yu's face. Yes. Since January. It wasn't easy. It took a lot of phone calls and many long conversations with his sister.
"What if I didn't say anything?" Yu asked.
"You'd ask." Ryotaro said in response. I was just waiting for you to come to me.
"We need a cake!" Nanako piped in.
"To celebrate. Silly Dad!" Nanako laughed.
"I guess, this counts for celebration." Ryotaro agreed.
Yu didn't even need to make a phone call when no later than 30 minutes, his friends were in the house celebrating him not leaving Inaba.
AN: This is just how much I love Dojima family dynamic. And when I say Dojima, that means all three of them! I could go on and on and on. I had to stop myself at some point from adding anymore. I love family fics. Yu, Dojima and Nanako are just endearing to me. Like these three were suffering so bad. They were so lonely and so awkward. These three had trouble saying what they want to say so bad. How these three work to express themselves, tried to reach out to one another and just come together, I just melt.