It's for Toko, so naturally, it'sWaya.
It takes some time for Waya to figure out what’s changed after Isumi comes back from China. He’d known, of course, that something would change – people don’t just drop everything and run off to another country for weeks without something happening, whether or not they intend it.
But when he comes back, Isumi is just Isumi, and Waya, for all that he’d meant to look for the changes, gets swept up in relief at all the things that are so very much the same.
Things have been so turned around lately, anyway, between Shindou not coming to his games and refusing to talk to Waya about it, and Ochi tromping around looking smug for no reason, and Waya all but feeling sorry for Touya Akira every time yet another match starts with Shindou getting marked as forfeit.
It’s so easy to feel like a constant spectator to all that commotion. Sometimes Waya gets tired just trying to make sense of all he notices – even without crazy Shindou and the drama he so effortlessly calls to himself.
But then Isumi comes back and Isumi, thank goodness, is the same.
Waya’s not hurt at the frequent references to China, to all these new people in Isumi’s life – not really. It’s not like Waya is Isumi’s only friend, or even his best friend. If anybody has that weird honor, it’s Shindou, the guy who hasn’t spoken to him in a month. Ochi only notices him anymore to talk about beating Isumi again or gloat about Shindou being gone; even the first words out of Morishita-sensei’s mouth every week are, “So, what’s up with that friend of yours, he still missing games?”
So it’s easy to forgive Isumi for telling Waya how much he looks like some shrimp kid back in China, or lapsing into a tale he’s already told about the greatness of Chinese Go, how it taught him to be disciplined and face his fears.
Waya watches Isumi work his two hands together, and doesn’t answer with, I could have taught you all those things if you’d only been paying attention.
Isumi only asks about Shindou the one time.
When Shindou comes back, finally, and Waya realizes he’ll never know any more about it than when Shindou first disappeared, it’s nice not to have to hash it out again. Isumi just smiles and says, “Yeah, I heard,” when Waya asks. They eat lunch together in relative silence, and it’s nice, for once, not to be in everyone else’s business.
Then he watches Isumi play his first match since his return.
It’s not that Isumi’s anything but amazing, just like Waya always knew he would be, just like Waya always knew he always was. But it’s different – and something that’s been niggling around the edges of Waya’s brain all these weeks snaps into place.
He wishes for the first time ever that he didn’t notice quite as much as he does.
After the match they head back to Isumi’s place. Isumi’s going to cook some rice dish Waya’s never heard of that he learned to make in China. Waya wishes that sounded more like ‘dinner at my place,’ and less like Isumi playing mother hen to anyone who’ll let him.
“You’ve really grown up,” he says. He tries to pass it off as a joke, as something teasing and non-accusatory. He doesn’t quite pull it off, and Isumi freezes and looks at him, dead at him, like they’re not both jostling around on the train.
“You’re becoming an adult too, you know,” he says. Waya notes the carefully placed inflection, the lack of emphasis on the word ‘becoming.’ It strikes him that ‘adult’ is such an adult word. He turns and looks at all the other people on the train and tries to work out a way to say what he means – a way to say ‘don’t move on without me’ in adult language.
He settles for gruff laughter. “How would you know?”
When he looks back Isumi’s face is dark, almost carefully blank. He’d looked like that during his match earlier. He’d looked like that, just for a moment, when Waya told him about the missed matches.
He’d only asked once, and Shindou had come back.
“I’d know,” Isumi says slowly, and Waya is short of air suddenly, because no one ever sounds like this with Waya – no one’s ever been like Isumi.
Who is slipping his fingers around Waya’s.
“Because I’ve been waiting for you to,” Isumi ends – and his voice, rich and calm, floods Waya with the realization of why no one’s ever been like Isumi. And then Isumi carefully leans into him, and the last thing Waya thinks beforehand is: hey. I know how this story goes.
And if his story involves getting felt up by a grown man on the Shibuya express, well. Waya's never needed his happy endings to be particularly profound.