Author's Notes: I guess Jim wanted his story told after all.
Summary: Side story to ‘The Key to My Heart’. The bonds that tie Tohma and Jim Harris together.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this, apart from Jim Harris, they belong to the creators of ‘Gravitation’.
“So everything’s worked out?”
“Yes,” Tohma replied, swiveling his chair to look out on the world as the afternoon sun crept slowly across the sky. Clouds scudded across the blueness, throwing shadows briefly over the landscape before flying quickly away to disappear past the surrounding buildings. “So it would appear.”
“Okay, so why aren’t you jumping for joy over this? Thought this was what you wanted?” Jim’s voice sounded impatient on the other end of the phone and Tohma could understand that.
He hadn’t known why he had felt the need to call Jim today. He would have done so at some point to let him know that Shuichi had finally remembered. After all he had been responsible for getting them started on that long and painful journey and he had come through for them so many times. It was only simple courtesy for Tohnm to call and tell him all was well. Or was it?
“Aw, Tohma,” Jim’s voice filled the moment of silence, “I know what you’re thinking. I’m not mad, but I’ve just done three days with about 6 hours sleep in total and I’m so tired I can barely see straight, so cut me some slack and skip your usual cryptic messages and just get right to the point, can you?”
“Sorry,” Tohma replied sincerely, feeling a small twinge of conscious in realizing that Jim wouldn’t be exaggerating. If he said he was that tired, he really would be. “Look, I’ll call you some other time.”
“Don’t do that!” Jim’s hurried shout reached him as he had moved the phone away to replace into its cradle. “Tohma, you bastard, talk to me!”
Tohma put the phone back to his ear, “I don’t want to hold you up any longer. It’s not necessary.”
He heard Jim’s deep sigh, “Yes, it is. You wouldn’t have called me if it wasn’t. You know that, and I know that. So talk to me. What’s the problem? If the kid’s finally remembered it should be a happy ending, so what’s gone wrong?”
“That doesn’t sound good. So you expect something to?”
Tohma chewed gently on his bottom lips for a moment. “Shindou has remembered Eiri, but…” He trailed off again.
“But? He doesn’t like what he’s remembering?” Jim prompted.
“It’s more that there’s so much for him to assimilate now, and in light of the recent events, he’s not as ….accommodating as he once was.” Tohma finally admitted.
He heard Jim’s quiet chuckle, “So what you are saying is that he’s got a mind of his own and he’s making his own decisions and not just going along with whatever you and Yuki wants?”
Tohma didn’t answer and Jim just chuckled again, “Oh, Tohma, you are such a jerk at times.”
“I resent that,” Tohma answered mildly.
“Sure you do. Because you resemble that!” was Jim’s short response. “For god’s sake, man, cut the kid some slack! He’s been screwed up for months – what nearly a year now? How can you expect him to be the same? To even think the same as he once did? He lived as an entirely different person for nearly six months so there’s bound to be some confusion.”
“But he did remember that he loved Eiri,” Tohma insisted.
“And that’s just dandy. Bells and whistles and all that jazz - but it’s not going to make up for everything else that has gone on. You got to give him time to sort things out and determine what he wants now.”
“What if he decides that there’s no place for Eiri after all?” Tohma finally voiced his main fear. That after everything that has happened, even after regaining his memories, Shuichi still would decide to not be with Eiri. Just thinking about that made his heart ache.
“Then that’s his decision,” Jim answered bluntly. “Tohma, you’ve got to stop trying to fix everything for everyone all the time. You can’t do it. You should know that by now.”
“I thought you were always the great advocate of love winning against the odds?” Tohma said.
“I am, but I’m also a realist,” Jim answered, “Love sometimes isn’t enough. I learnt that the hard way. You need to butt out.”
“So, because you lost, you’re prepared to give up on everyone else?” Tohma shot back, a little stung by his friend’s words.
There was a heavy silence on the other end of the phone before Jim responded. “Don’t,” he grated out, “go there. Don’t you even dare.” The words were layered with a myriad of emotions and Tohma was immediately remorseful for his thoughtless remark.
“I’m sorry,” he said meaning it, trying to pour all his regret into those two words. “Truly, I am sorry. That was unforgivable of me.”
Further silence, drawing out so long that Tohma began to fear that this time he may have alienated his old friend for good with that one unthinking comment. He knew he didn’t have any right to say anything about that. Not to Jim of all people.
The silence was broken with a soft ‘humph’. “Forget it,” Jim’s voice finally reached through the line.
“Jim,” Tohma began but he was interrupted.
“Don’t sweat it, man,” Jim said, sounding a little more like his usual self, although his voice was thick with tiredness and a touch of….something else. “I know you didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just acting like a bear with a sore head right now. Forget it.”
“Sorry,” Tohma said once more, knowing Jim had forgiven his carelessness and feeling immensely grateful that he had seen fit to do so.
“So,” Jim began, his voice strengthening a little. “What are you going to do now?”
Tohma turned back to lean his elbow on the desk, supporting the phone to his ear as he watched the play of sunlight across the floor of his office. “I guess I have to leave it alone.”
“Oh, be still my beating heart!” Jim said in a falsetto voice, startling Tohma at the sudden change. Then his voice dropped to its normal baritone. “Could I be hearing correctly? The great Tohma Seguchi saying he’s actually going to stop meddling in someone else’s life?”
“Don’t push it,” Tohma mock growled, although his lips were twitching with wry amusement at Jim’s ribbing. Jim Harris was probably one of the very few people who could have got away with making fun of him!
“Why not? This is an auspicious moment – enough to be kept for posterity’s sake. I don’t know if we’ll ever see this happen again!”
“Keep going and I’ll send Ryuichi to see you.”
“Whoa! No, you don’t! After nearly no sleep for three days there is no way I could cope with dealing with that schizo!”
“Then behave yourself.”
Tohma was smiling fully now as he suddenly realized something. “You do know,” he said calmly, with false sweetness, “that we are sounding just like Shindou and Eiri right now?”
“What? You’re kidding?”
“No, the name calling seems to almost be like a love call between the two of them at times.”
“Argh, I’ll never be able to cuss again without thinking about that!”
“So are you trying to say you love me?” Tohma said in a simpering voice.
“Tohma, my darling sweetheart, you know I love you dearly - but try and touch me and I’ll make certain that there’s no way Mika will be having a second child by you!”
Tohma chuckled, “But then you would have to confront Mika’s wrath.” he pointed out.
“Hmm, yes, that could be a problem.” Jim pondered, “Guess I’ll have to see if they plan to set up a base in Antarctica and put in for a transfer. She wouldn’t be able to reach me there.”
“Don’t bet on it,” Tohma said to him, enjoying the moment of silliness, “She has a long arm when she wants to. You had better watch out for the penguins.”
“What? I’m going to be attacked by guerilla penguins now? What are they going to be able to do? Waddle me to death?”
“Well, they could stake you out and leave you to get frostbite.”
“Mika doesn’t hate me enough to kill me.”
“No, you’re right,” Tohma agreed. Jim was right, Mika did actually like him. “However, it could be arranged that you get frostbite in just certain places.”
“Like where?” Jim sounded quite curious now although this was an entirely ludicrous conversation but it was quite amusing to see just how plausible they could make it.
“Well, since you would take revenge on me in a certain way, I’m sure that Mika would look at making her retribution match. Frostbite does affect all appendages remember. And things then have a tendency to fall off.”
“Oooh, chilly!” Tohma could almost feel Jim shiver on the other end of the line. He crossed his own legs, feeling a little chill over his own groin at the thought. Oh, yes, that would be…very unpleasant. “Dammit!” Jim continued, “that is exactly what your wife would do to! Guess Antarctica is out after all.”
“So it would seem,” Tohma agreed smugly. He liked to think that there wasn’t a place on earth that Mika couldn’t reach if she put her mind to it. It was a comforting thought for him for it meant that no matter where he was she would be with him.
“Fine then,” Jim said sounding disgruntled, “guess I’ll have to just leave you alone.”
“So that means I can touch you then?”
“Do it and you die,” Jim replied threateningly.
“How about a kiss then?”
“Gods, Tohma, you’re killing me! Will you just shut up! I need to get some sleep and you’re trying to give me nightmares. Enough with the sex talk!”
Tohma chuckled, “Very well, I’ll just have to blow you a kiss through the phone.” He heard Jim groan down the line. “Anyway,” he then continued, “enough of this nonsense. I’ll let you get to your rest.”
“As if I could after all that,” Jim groused. “So are you really going to back off?” His voice was serious now as they returned to the original point of this conversation.
“It looks as though I will have to,” Tohma reluctantly said, “It would appear that it is now up to the two of them to work through this.”
“I think that’s the best thing to do,” Jim agreed. “Don’t get between love, Tohma. You should know that.”
“Yes, I know. But it’s still hard to just sit back and watch.”
“Close your eyes.”
“That is not very practical.”
“So what? Go by touch.”
“Are we back on the other topic now?” Tohma wanted to know.
“Ew, get out of here!” Jim replied. “Try dragging your mind out of the gutter for a moment!”
“Gutters can be very interesting,” Tohma answered, tapping his long fingers on the desk top. “It’s amazing what you can find in them. Or who.”
“And just what are you implying?” Jim said with mock anger.
“You can’t deny that we both spent our fair share in the gutters together – even sewers, if I remember correctly.”
There was a pause before Jim replied, “Yeah, you remembered right. But that was a long time ago.”
“Yes, it was. But you still haven’t forgotten.”
“I never will.”
Neither spoke for a moment as the past came back to them in a rush, then Tohma broke the silence. “Go and get some sleep,” he instructed, “and thank you for listening.”
“Hell, we didn’t exactly talk about much,” Jim said.
“I thought the intellectual discussion of penguins and frostbite was very educational.” Tohma put in.
“no, that was just downright scarey.” Jim replied.
Tohma laughed, “Thank you, Jim. Good-bye.”
“See ya, you idiot.”
“Jerk.” Tohma managed to get the last word in as he cut the connection, a smile still on his face. He always felt good after speaking with Jim. Their friendship was very different from that he had with anyone else which wasn’t surprising. It had developed from very different beginnings after all.
He turned his chair again so he was facing the window fully. The sun was much lower in the sky now, slowly slipping behind the taller buildings and soon those shadows would block out the direct light. He sat there bathed in the sunlight, soaking up the warmth whilst it still lasted.
Jim was correct. This time he had to just stay out of it and let Shindou and Eiri work things out for themselves, no matter what was happening. He had to try and let go, even though it was very difficult for him to do so. He had to put his faith in the love the two bore for each other that was evident even now, despite everything else.
He steepled his hands under his chin, resting it lightly on his fingertips. However, Jim had been correct about something else also. Love wasn’t always enough in the face of great adversity. Just because you loved did not mean you would have the happy ending. Jim knew that only too well, and Tohma had been the witness to that unhappy time.
He stood and walked to the window, resting a hand on the warmed glass. Was it wrong for him to want the happily-ever-after for Shindou and Eiri? He didn’t think so but he didn’t know how to give that to them. Jim hadn’t got his happily-ever-after despite the two of them striving so hard for that. He hadn’t been able to help Jim back then, so what made him think that he could now give the same thing to Eiri.
A shadow fell over him, making him give a brief shiver at the change in the temperature. That had been a terrible time, way back when he had been living in New York. As he stood there in the darkening shadows his thoughts drifted back to another place and time, years in the past.