Title: Sweet Child of Mine
Pairing: Okamoto Keito/Nakajima Yuto
Warnings: Mentions of death of minor characters; OC in the form of a child for the main pair.
Word Count: 2660
Author's Note: This was written for ryosukekoibito for the je_united exchange! It takes place a couple years from now, in an AU where Yuto and Keito are not in Johnny’s. I made the optimistic assumption that since two wards of Tokyo passed same-sex marriage laws recently, more would follow suit in the next couple years. Thanks to faded_lace for all the help with ideas and the beta, and 9kinds (as well as Keiji Ballerino) for a certain bit of inspiration~
Summary: Keito knew that being a parent wouldn’t be easy.
Keito wasn't sure what he had been expecting when he came home from work at the TV station and told Yuto about the little boy he’d found crying in the dressing room, but Yuto’s words were so far out of the realm of what he’d imagined that for a moment, all Keito could do was stare. “A-adopt him?” he repeated, wondering if he’d misunderstood.
“Yeah!” Yuto confirmed eagerly, bouncing a little on the sofa. “I mean… We both want kids, right? And this one needs us! His parents died!” Yuto grabbed Keito’s hands, stilling in his seat and looking at Keito seriously. “This could be our chance…!”
Keito’s heart was doing a weird dance in his chest, and the whole idea was absurd and terrifying… but he knew with barely a second thought what his answer would be.
Keito had first met Sota on his way out after filming a variety show. It was one of his first simultaneous translation gigs for a show with a foreign guest appearance after a couple years of doing translation behind the scenes for TV Asahi, and he’d been ridiculously nervous beforehand. It had gone well overall, though, and he’d been in the middle of texting Yuto that he probably hadn’t made a fool of himself when he saw there was a little boy, definitely no more than preschool age, sitting by himself in the lobby. That was already unusual, since the kids involved in filmings usually got picked up right away--and then Keito noticed that he was crying. He put his phone back in his pocket and tentatively approached the boy, kneeling down in front of him.
“Hey… What’s wrong?” he asked, trying to meet the boy’s eyes. “Is someone coming to get you?”
The boy didn’t answer, but his tears eventually slowed a little when Keito stroked his hair, and when, after someone arrived to pick him up, a staff member explained to Keito that the boy was a cast member on one of their children’s shows, but his parents had recently died in a car accident, Keito knew that he had to do something to help.
Even after agreeing to Yuto’s idea, Keito wasn’t very confident that they would actually be able to adopt. Yuto was much more so, pointing out that Sota didn’t currently have any legal guardian, and plus, they were even a legally recognized couple (because of course they had taken advantage when Suginami Ward, where they currently lived in Tokyo, had passed a same-sex marriage law the previous year). They both had steady work--Keito’s job at the TV station was quite good for a couple years out of college, and Yuto was on a contract with the National Ballet of Japan, even if ballet dancer wasn’t exactly the best paid of careers.
But no matter their feelings at the start, after months of endless meetings and mountains of paperwork, both of them were full of nerves by the time they were waiting for the final answer. Yuto had gotten to meet Sota, too, and watching Sota come out of his shell a little bit to play with Yuto had given Keito more feelings than he could name and gotten his hopes way up. So when Yuto mouthed this is it one evening when he answered the phone, Keito could barely breathe as he watched Yuto’s face for any clues. He got his answer soon enough when Yuto’s face lit up with the biggest smile he’d ever seen, and he barely saw Yuto hang up the phone before Yuto was pulling him into a hug so tight that his strong dancer’s arms lifted Keito’s feet clear off the floor.
“They said yes they said yes they said YES!” Yuto chanted, spinning Keito around and around before practically leaping towards the bedroom and throwing them both onto the bed. “They said yes,” he said one more time, leaning down to kiss Keito, and Keito couldn’t do anything but wrap his arms around Yuto and grin into the kiss, soaking up Yuto’s excitement for what was to come.
Keito had known that being a parent wouldn’t be easy, but after all the lead-up, the paperwork and the meetings with Sota, setting up his room in their apartment and going to parenting classes, moving in his clothes and toys and explaining in small words that they were his new Papa and Daddy, Keito had felt like he was as ready as he could be.
But nothing could have prepared him for the real thing, he supposed, and that much was clear the day after Sota moved in, when Keito found himself chasing a naked three-year-old around the apartment. “Bath time is fun!” he entreated as he tried to catch up, cursing the fact that Yuto had a performance that night. “There’s toys!”
As it turned out, once Keito had caught him and gotten him into the tub, Sota agreed. Bath time was a lot of fun… especially when you splashed water all over your Daddy’s shirt.
Even as they got used to the everyday struggles with mealtimes and bath times, Keito worried sometimes that their schedules weren’t good for Sota. They had worked things out so that Yuto could usually drop him off at his daycare and Keito could usually pick him up, and they spent time together as a family as many evenings and weekends as Yuto’s performance schedule allowed, but Keito knew from past experience that sometimes things came up with both of their jobs, and he worried, because he didn’t ever want Sota to feel lonely or abandoned after what had happened to him.
But when they had first gotten the good news, one thing Keito’s dad had told them was that he would be first in line for babysitting, any time they wanted. He’d always be happy to take his new grandson, he’d said, even if Keito and Yuto just needed a break. Keito’s dad was in a rock band, and they had still toured some when Keito was a kid, but he was mostly retired now, just doing songwriting and session guitar for other groups’ recordings. He started coming by their apartment sometimes to visit and play with Sota, offering them parenting advice that didn’t always match up with the things that Yuto’s mom told them, and Keito was happy to see that Sota seemed to like him, as well as the toy xylophone he’d brought along the first time.
Even so, Keito couldn’t help being a little nervous the first time he left Sota at his grandpa’s. Sota always had a little separation anxiety at daycare, too, according to Yuto, and it seemed like this was no different, Sota clinging to Keito’s leg and getting teary when Keito said he would be back later. Keito’s dad distracted him with jokes and stuffed animals so Keito could get on his way, but he worried through his whole business trip, checking his phone more often than was really necessary, knowing there was no reason he’d get a call unless something went wrong.
But he didn’t get any call, and when Keito came back that evening, letting himself in with his spare key, he found his dad reading a story to a half-asleep Sota, and he made sure not to make a sound as he tiptoed in, his dad smiling at him but not pausing his story as Sota drifted off beside him. The story was ostensibly from the picture book open in his lap, but when he listened for a moment, Keito realized that his dad had started telling his own story, something about flying guitars and Sota’s superhero dads saving him from bad guys. It was silly, but Keito felt himself getting choked up as he watched. Not only did he have his new dads looking out for him, Sota had new grandparents, too, and there was no reason for Keito to have worried.
As time went on, things began to feel more normal. Keito got used to three places at their little table, to waking his son up and putting him to bed, to talking to the other parents at daycare and knowing he was one of them. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to the way his heart squeezed in his chest when Sota held his hand on the way home from daycare or when he watched Yuto tuck him it at night… But working out their schedules got easier with time, they started to learn when they could have sex without much danger of Sota waking up and walking in on them, and maybe they got a little better at giving Sota baths, too.
But as some things got easier, some things got harder, too. Keito wouldn’t have expected any three-year-old to always do what he was told, but that didn’t make it any easier to know what to do when he didn’t, and sometimes it felt like those times were getting more and more frequent. Sota loved the word “no” and hated eating vegetables, or wearing shoes, or putting away his toys, depending on the day, and Keito tried his best to do what was right, but it was so hard to say no to him… He wanted to make sure that Sota was happy and settling in okay in his still relatively new home, and sometimes it felt like he was never going to get the hang of being a parent.
Amidst Keito’s worries came another hurdle, and this time he’d have to face it alone. Yuto was chosen as one of the dancers to take a new ballet on a three-week tour of a few cities. Yuto was hesitant to be away for so long, but Keito could tell that he really wanted to go, even though he didn’t want to leave Sota. It was the kind of thing Yuto loved doing, on top of being a great opportunity for his career. So Keito told that to Yuto, and assured him that he and Sota would be okay, and that his dad would help, and so would Yuto’s parents. So in the end, Yuto decided to go, doing his best to explain to Sota where he was going and why.
Keito had taken Sota to see Yuto perform before, and Sota had loved it, excitedly pointing out when his Papa came on stage and giggling when Yuto leapt high into the air. It helped Keito know how to answer when Sota asked where his Papa was some evenings, too, and thinking about Yuto dancing usually helped comfort Sota. It helped a little now, too, as Yuto explained where he was going, but Sota was clearly hesitant, and when the day came for Yuto to head off on his trip, he cried and clung to Yuto, his tears not slowing even after Yuto kissed him goodbye and headed for the train station.
Keito did his best to comfort him, but it seemed like Sota only grew more difficult with Yuto gone. He refused to eat his vegetables or take his bath, and getting him to daycare in the mornings was a struggle, too. Keito didn’t know what to do about it, when all he wanted was for Sota to be happy. He missed having Yuto’s strong arms around him at night, too, and Yuto confidently telling him that they were doing just fine, because at this point, he wasn’t sure that they were--and hearing it over the phone when Yuto wasn’t there to see just wasn’t the same. Keito’s worries reached a peak a couple weeks in, when Keito told Sota to finish his peas and Sota yelled that Keito couldn’t tell him what to do. “Because you’re not my real dad!” he cried, and Keito felt like they really weren’t going to make it another week.
But that night, Keito woke up with a start to the faint sound of crying in the next room. He jumped out of bed more quickly than he’d have thought himself capable of and hurried to Sota’s room, stepping inside quietly to keep from startling him.
“Sota…?” Moving closer, Keito saw that Sota was still asleep, tossing and turning in his bed. “Sota, Daddy’s here…”
“Papa--” Sota cried out in his sleep, and he sounded so scared that Keito almost started crying himself. Sitting next to him on the bed, he reached out to touch Sota gently, whispering soothingly. “It’s just a dream… You’re safe, Daddy’s here…”
When Sota opened his eyes, he looked up at Keito, startled and tearful. “D-daddy…”
Keito brushed Sota’s hair back from his eyes before pulling him into a hug. “It was just a dream,” he said, rubbing Sota’s back and feeling Sota’s small arms wrap around him tightly. “Daddy and Papa are both safe…”
But then he felt Sota tense a little against his chest. “No…” Sota said in a small voice. “No… You can’t be my papas, or… or what if you go away forever too…”
And suddenly it was all clear to Keito, Sota’s increasing rebellion against them as parents, especially after Yuto had left, and now the nightmare… He was scared, that was all, and Keito felt his throat growing tighter. “We won’t go away,” he managed, pulling Sota closer, “I promise...” They would have to protect Sota and make him feel safe… that was what they were there for.
Somehow, Keito and Sota managed to survive the rest of the week without Yuto (not without a good amount of help from Keito’s dad), and finally, finally it was time for Yuto to come home. Sota said he had a present when Keito picked him up from daycare, but he refused to show it to Keito, saying it was a surprise. So Keito waited in suspense, telling Sota that Papa had texted saying his train was on time, so they were going to pick up curry for all of them for dinner. Sota was happy with all of that, chattering to Keito about daycare while he ordered and paid for the curry and took them home.
It wasn’t too much longer before they heard Yuto at the door, and Sota was dashing towards the sound before Keito could blink. But Keito wasn’t far behind him, grinning as he watched Sota accost Yuto with hugs in the entryway. He took Yuto’s bags from him so he could lift Sota into his arms, and Keito grinned even wider at the way Sota giggled and squealed “Papa!” when Yuto spun him around. He longed for a hug of his own from Yuto, but Yuto’s arms were full, and Keito knew he’d have plenty for himself later, so he settled for leaning in for a quick kiss as they headed for the kitchen. “Welcome home… We missed you,” he said, meeting Yuto’s eyes, and Yuto smiled, echoing the sentiment and resting a hand on Keito’s back after Sota wanted to be set down again.
Sota was full of questions about Yuto’s trip while they ate, and Yuto answered them happily while Keito looked on, his heart full. When they were finished, Sota jumped up suddenly, running over to his school bag and pulling out a sheet of paper. “I made a present!” he announced proudly before holding up the paper to show them, and when Keito saw what it was, well, there was no hope for not crying.
My Family, a teacher had labeled it, and Sota explained, pointing at his drawings. “That’s Papa, that’s Daddy, and that’s me!” he said, and Keito thought that Yuto’s eyes looked like they were glistening a little, too.
“I love it,” Yuto said, grinning and patting his lap. “Come over here so I can see closer!” Sota obliged, climbing into Yuto’s lap to show him how Papa was even doing ballet in the picture. Yuto listened attentively, nodding along and stroking Sota’s hair.
“It’s really our family,” Yuto agreed. “From now on… and forever.”