Well, I've been working on my InuKai fics for 30_kisses, but this Golden Pair plot bunny wouldn't leave me alone! I blame The Beatles for this.
Title: When I'm Sixty-Four
Summary: It's Eiji's birthday, so why is he upset...?
Warning: Well, shounen-ai, but that's to be expected. The bigger warning: SAP. Mega-sap.
Author's Note: Probably the sappiest thing I've ever written. No, really.
Oishi Syuichirou sifted through the daily mail. There were the expected bills for the electricity, the phone lines, all those sorts of things, but those didn’t concern him much. He and his partner didn’t pay much attention to money anymore; they were well off financially and had paid off the house years ago. He put the bills to one side, promising himself he’d open them later.
The rest of the mail they’d received made him smile. It was November twenty-eighth and there were about a dozen birthday cards addressed to Kikumaru Eiji. Even people they were going to see at the party tonight had remembered to put a card in the mail. All of them probably knew how much the redhead still liked getting letters and postcards.
The thought made Oishi frown slightly and he set the stack of cards down carefully at Eiji’s place at the kitchen table. He’d expected his partner to be downstairs by this time, enthusiastically asking about what they’d gotten in the mail and cooking them both breakfast. It was nine-thirty already, and there was no sign of Eiji yet.
Oishi supposed he might have decided to get ready for the day before coming down, but that sounded wrong to his mind. When faced with the prospect of ripping open cards and presents, Eiji would never choose to get dressed first. Oishi gazed out the window at the lovely, tree-filled countryside that surrounded their house, thinking fondly that Eiji was, in some ways, still much the same as he’d been in their junior high and high school days. He’d grown up, but never truly lost the sweet innocence that made him...well...Eiji.
That started Oishi worrying again about Eiji’s conspicuous absence, and he made his way over to the staircase that led up to the second floor. He started the climb, calling as he went, “Eiji-love? Are you all right up there?”
The faint answer came from in their bedroom, in an almost sulky tone that surprised Oishi very much. “Yes, I’m okay,” Eiji said, followed by an exaggerated sigh that was meant to be heard. Oishi suppressed a chuckle; it wasn’t wise to laugh when Eiji was in a temper, but it was still funny after all these years when his partner spoke in such a childlike way.
“Eiji, what’s the matter?” he asked as he reached the top of the steps. He pushed the half-closed bedroom door open and looked around, puzzled. He couldn’t see Eiji anywhere in the room.
“Nothing,” came the reply from their roomy walk-in closet, the door of which was also halfway shut. This was followed by another dramatic sigh. Again Oishi resisted the temptation to laugh, knowing it definitely wouldn’t be the best thing to do.
Oishi wondered if Eiji really had decided to get ready before coming downstairs, but he doubted it. Aloud he asked, “What are you doing in the closet, love?” He slid the door open the rest of the way, gently in case Eiji tried to stop him.
There was no resistance, however, and as the door open he got a clear view of his partner. Obviously he’d been right when he’d guessed Eiji wouldn’t be getting dressed, because he was still clad in the flannel pajamas he’d worn to bed.
Eiji stood in front of the little mirror that was on the side wall of the closet. He peered closely at his reflection and scowled at himself, looking almost like a young child again. He turned to Oishi, looking frustrated and a little angry. “I just...” then the redhead’s lower lip trembled and Oishi could see tears sparkling in his eyes.
In two steps Oishi was at Eiji’s side and had him in his arms. He stroked his hair comfortingly, saying “Shh, love, it’s all right. Whatever it is, you can tell me.”
Eiji wrapped his arms tightly around Oishi, returning the hug for a moment, but then pushed away to look in the mirror. His face fell when he saw his reflection again and he looked down, clearly trying to stop his tears.
“Eiji, it’s your birthday, remember?” Oishi asked, making an attempt to cheer his partner up. If anything would make the energetic man happy again it was that.
But if anything, the result was the opposite of what Oishi expected. Eiji burst into tears at his words, covering his face with his hands. Oishi, alarmed, tried to gather his partner in his arms again, to no avail. Eiji pushed him away again and stamped his foot, part angry and part sad. “Syuichirou,” he wailed, “I look awful!”
“No you don’t!” Oishi protested without even thinking, his eyes widening. “Of course you don’t look awful!”
“Yes I do!” Eiji cried, jabbing a finger at the mirror. “Look at me! I look...I look old!”
Oishi was about to deny it but Eiji continued, “I don’t know why you even like me anymore! I look so awful that I don’t even want to look at me!”
Oishi couldn’t help bursting into laughter at that, even though he saw Eiji glaring at him furiously. “I’m sorry, Eiji,” he managed to say, “but have you looked at me recently? At least your hair is still red!”
Oishi could see that despite himself Eiji had to let out a startled laugh at that comment. It was true that Oishi’s hair had gone from being black to being quite a bit lighter while Eiji’s had, if anything, gotten even brighter.
“And both of us have some lines on our faces,” he continued, reaching out to gently smooth the hair back from his partner’s eyes. Eiji frowned, about to say something, but Oishi interrupted him by saying, “But that’s only because we’ve smiled and laughed so much together, love. Of course,” he noted wryly, “if you keep making that face it might reverse the process, if that’s what you’re trying for.”
Eiji laughed again and shook his head, but his eyes were still glistening in the light. He blinked and his smile faded once more. “I don’t just look old, I am old. I’m sixty-four today I feel old.”
Oishi smiled and put his arm around Eiji, who made no move to stop him. “I feel old too, haven’t you noticed? It takes me a whole five minutes to get up the stairs!”
Eiji sniffled and mumbled, “But I don’t want to be old. I don't like it.”
Oishi thought for a minute, looking up at the brightly colored mural on the opposite wall. Eiji had painted it one day because, as he said, “Beige is boring,” and Oishi loved it because of that. Finally Oishi said, “But Eiji, if you weren’t old, then I’d be lonely and old all by myself.”
Eiji looked at him with alarm evident in his eyes. “No, because if I was young, you’d have to be young again too.”
“That would be nice,” Oishi admitted, chuckling. “I’d give up this arthritis in a second, believe me! But,” he added, “what our grandchildren would think if we were younger than them? We have to be old so we can be grandparents and spoil all the kids!”
It was very Eiji-ish logic, something Oishi had perfected over the years, and as he could have predicted, Eiji laughed at the statement. They both spoiled their ten grandchildren rotten, especially Eiji, who snuck them sweets whenever he could.
“That’s true,” Eiji told him, snuggling in closer to his partner. “But I still don’t like how I look!”
Oishi drew back so he could look the redhead in the eyes. His gaze serious, he said, “Eiji, I know you might not believe me, but to me you look as beautiful as the day I first met you.”
Eiji let out a snort of disbelief. “No!”
“Yes,” Oishi said firmly. “You absolutely look as good as ever,” and he gently kissed his partner on the lips. “Or maybe you don’t like how I look as an old man,” he said teasingly when they broke apart.
Eiji shook his head emphatically, looking horrified at the very idea. “No, Syuichirou!” he cried softly. “You look as good as you did the first day I met you, too!”
“Well then,” Oishi said as though that decided the matter, “since you look even better than I do, there’s no way you can look awful, or else what does that mean for me?”
“Hmm,” Eiji said, pretending to think about it. Oishi laughed and replied, “Well, thanks a lot!” Then Oishi looked thoughtful and asked, “Eiji, do you want one of your presents now?”
Eiji looked at him eagerly, eyes sparkling with excitement instead of tears. “Hoi!” he said, using one of his old, silly Eiji-words. “Or maybe all of them?” he suggested mischievously.
“I don’t think so,” Oishi said, trying to sound stern. “We’ll wait until tonight for the rest of them so everyone can see you open them.” Oishi rummaged in his shirt pocket while Eiji watched, shifting from one foot to the other in anticipation. He pulled out a small, unwrapped velvet-covered box.
“I’m sorry it’s not wrapped,” he apologized. “I’ve been carrying it around with me and I was afraid the paper would get torn. I was going to wrap it before tonight...” he trailed off when he saw Eiji’s impatient look. “All right, all right,” he chuckled, handing the box to his partner.
Eiji opened the box and drew in a breath. “It’s beautiful,” he whispered, taking out a little silver ring. He read the words that were engraved on the side of the ring: “I love you forever.” He caught Oishi in one of his impulsive hugs. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said happily into Oishi’s ear.
“I know you like silver better than gold,” Oishi explained, “so I thought I’d get you this one since our wedding rings are gold.”
“You really love me forever?” Eiji asked, admiring the ring behind Oishi’s back so he didn’t have to stop the hug. “Even though I’m sixty-four years old?”
“No matter how old you are, I’ll always love you. Even if you’re seventy-four, or eighty-four, or one hundred and four,” Oishi murmured. “Forever, I promise.”
“I love you forever, too,” Eiji replied softly. “I’m sorry that I was being silly. I really am happy that it’s my birthday.”
Then Oishi remembered something and smiled even though Eiji couldn’t see. “You have a lot of birthday cards waiting for you downstairs, you know.”
“I do?” Eiji asked in a delighted, still almost childlike way. He kissed Oishi again, then pulled away and slipped the ring onto his right ring finger. “How many?”
“About a dozen,” Oishi said, knowing his partner would be thrilled. He was right; Eiji hugged him again and then raced out of the room, his movements not betraying his age.
Oishi stood where he was for a moment, remembering for a minute all the things he loved about his enthusiastic, funny, cheerful, energetic, thoughtful, friendly, loving, intelligent, and still-as-beautiful-as-ever sixty-four year old partner. Then he made his way back downstairs to where that partner was waiting to tear into his birthday cards.