Once he was out of the live house, and out of Subaru’s sight, Yasu began running. He ran past Ohkuaru and Maru and Daisuke and his sister. He ran until his legs felt like rubber. He continued running down the cold, dark street, unsure of where he was. By the time he took a final shaking step forward, realizing that he was too tired to run another foot, he was already lost. So he did the only thing he knew to do. He sank down onto the ground, hugging his knees and finally let himself cry.
He knew he should be embarrassed with every heart wrenching sob that worked its way up his chest, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care that he was lost and that it was late at night. He didn’t care that he was all alone in a dark alley. The only thing he cared about, that he could think about, was Subaru. Subaru and Rikiya. Kissing.
In all the times he’d pictured Rikiya, pictured him holding Subaru or kissing him, it had never hurt this bad. He knew that nothing could ever hurt this bad, no matter how long he lived. He had been afraid for so long that he was second in Subaru’s heart. He’d know there was a good chance that Subaru would leave him, but he’d foolishly been holding onto hope. In the depth of his heart, he’d been so sure that he could change Subaru’s mind.
Pressing his forehead to his knees, he squeezed his eyes shut, fighting against a new wave of pain and tears. He’d thought it had been working. Subaru had slowly been opening himself up, and every day that passed, Yasu felt a little closer to him. He was in love with Subaru.
But Subaru didn’t feel the same way. He’d said nothing in response to Shota’s feelings and that alone should have been a sign. He realized now how foolish he was being all this time. Of course Subaru didn’t love him. He never would because his heart belonged to Rikiya. And now that Rikiya was back in the picture, everything was over.
“Shota?” he heard a voice call. When he lifted his head, his sister was gazing down at him with a concerned look on her face. “Are you okay?”
He’d forgotten she had come. Wiping his tears on his sleeves, he drew in a shaking breath to calm himself before he answered quietly, “I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine,” she insisted, crouching down next to him and wrapping an arm around his shoulder. “You wouldn’t be alone in the dark crying if you were fine. Now what happened?”
Shota just shook his head in response. He didn’t want to talk about it. He couldn’t.
“What happened?” She pressed again, a note of desperation to her voice. “Is it Subaru?”
Yasu swallowed a deep breath of air, his shoulders shaking as he fought back more tears. “We slept together…”
She paused, her hand resting on Yasu’s knee. For a few minutes, it seemed like she didn’t know what to say, but finally she started, “But you seemed so happy about it this morning…”
The tears broke free then and another sob escaped Yasu as he fell into his sister’s arms, crying against her shoulder.
“Shota, what’s wrong? Did he force you to do something you didn’t want to?” She asked, her arms tightening around her little brother.
Yasu shook his head.
“Then what’s wrong?” She said, her voice pleading.
Shota couldn’t find the words to speak and suddenly he felt like throwing up. He pressed his forehead to his knees. Only twenty four hours earlier, he’d been held so tenderly by Subaru. Now he was with Rikiya. The tears started coming again and Shota couldn’t stop the sob that bubbled up in his throat.
His sister’s had moved to his back, rubbing soothingly as he continued to cry. “Let’s go home,” she said quietly pulling him up into a standing position.
Shota looked up, noticing for the first time that his sister’s boyfriend, Osamu, was standing awkwardly behind them. “Can you go back and tell everyone we found him?” She asked and her boyfriend nodded before turning around and jogging back in the direction of the live house.
Yasu was glad, as his sister guided him down the street, that she wasn’t going to ask any questions about what had happened between him and Subaru.
“Everyone is worried, you know,” she scolded. “You shouldn’t have run off on your own.”
Yasu wasn’t really listening to her. He didn’t care if anyone was looking for him because he knew that Subaru wasn’t. He doubted that Subaru had even moved a muscle to come after him and that was what hurt. But at least he had his answer now.
He wanted to think that Subaru cared about him. Why else would he have rejoined Revolver? Or been with Yasu so long? Or slept with him?
Just when he thought that he’d run out of tears to shed, they started again. It almost felt like a cruel joke. Like Subaru had spent the past few months getting his hopes up, making him feel wanted and cared about, only to prove that it was all a lie in the end. Maybe he was laughing at Yasu now. Maybe he was telling Rikiya everything and now they were both having a good laugh at his expense.
His sister’s arm tightened around his waist as she sighed. “I’m going to call a cab while we wait for Osamu to come back.”
Yasu nodded and leaned against the side of the building they were standing in front of. He felt sick to his stomach. He wanted to go home and curl into a ball on his bed and never leave his room again. How was he going to face everyone at school on Monday?
How was he going to face Subaru? He didn’t think he could handle it. He didn’t want to hear excuses. He didn’t want to hear how Rikiya was better than him. He didn’t want to have Subaru’s happiness rubbed in his face.
He would rather have Subaru leave that night with Rikiya, so that he’d never have to see him again. Yasu didn’t think he could make it through the last few weeks of school with Subaru. As hurt as he was, and as mad as he wanted to be at Subaru, he still loved him. Even knowing he was with Rikiya wouldn’t change that. Even having to face the pain of being around Subaru and never being able to kiss him or touch him wouldn’t change it. Maybe Subaru didn’t want him or love him, but that didn’t change Yasu’s feelings. And that’s why an even bigger part of him wanted Subaru to stay; because if he left, Yasu would never see him again.
That thought alone was enough to set Yasu into a fresh wave of tears. He covered his face with his hands, and let out something between a whimper and a sob, and slid to the ground. He knew how he must look, what his sister must think of him, but he didn’t care. His heart was broken and there was nothing he could do to stop the tears, even if he wanted to.
He heard her let out another sigh and she knelt down next to him, scooping him into her arms again. He hugged her close, appreciating her warmth and the care she was giving him. She kissed the top of his head, “I’m sorry, Shota. I shouldn’t have encouraged your relationship with him so much. You seemed so happy. I didn’t think you were going to end up hurt. Not so soon, anyway…”
Yasu shook his head. It wasn’t her fault. He wanted to tell her that, but when he tried to open his mouth, all that came out was another dry sob.
Osamu came jogging back then, out of breath. “Okay. I told them…”
Yasu wanted to ask about Subaru. Was he there? Was he one of the people his sister claimed was worried about him? Or had he already gone off with Rikiya? Was he even a thought in Subaru’s mind?
The cab pulled up a few minutes later and his sister ushered him inside, pulling her boyfriend in after her. Yasu leaned his forehead against the cool glass window. He was hurt and tired and he knew that his body couldn’t handle any more as he started to drift off into sleep.
To his right, he could hear Osamu and his sister whispering. “Do you know what happened?” Osamu asked in a hushed voice.
“No idea. It has something to do with Subaru,” she whispered back. “Was he there?”
“The one with the long hair, right?” he asked quietly. “I didn’t see him…”
Yasu’s heart sank. So Subaru really didn’t care. He wasn’t even the least bit worried. Even if Subaru had decided to be with Rikiya, didn’t he think Yasu at least deserved an explanation? Was he so unconcerned with hurting Yasu that he had no qualms about running off with Rikiya?
Yasu let out another small sob and his sister’s arm wound around his shoulder, pulling him to her. He didn’t want to think anymore because every horrible realization only brought him more pain.
“Let’s not talk about it,” She said quietly to Osamu.
The rest of the car ride was in silence, and for that Yasu was thankful. He didn’t want to hear anything else about Subaru. That, of course, didn’t stop him from thinking about Subaru, and now he couldn’t get the image of Subaru and Rikiya kissing out of his head.
When they arrived at the house, his sister helped him from the car and Osamu held the door open as Yasu shuffled his way in the house. His mother popped her head in from the living room. “How’d it go?” she asked excitedly, but when she saw the look on Yasu’s face, she frowned.
From the corner of his eye, as he began climbing the stairs to his room, he saw his sister shake her head at her mother. At least they had the decency not to talk about it while he was there. Once in his bedroom, he slammed the door shut, and without bothering to take off his clothes he slid into bed.
The same bed Subaru had made love to him in. That thought sent him into another fit of tears and he rolled buried his face in his pillow, deeply inhaling Subaru’s scent. And that was all he had left of Subaru. When the smell of his sweat and soap finally faded away, Yasu would have nothing left. Subaru would be gone with Rikiya.
He hugged the pillow to his chest and buried his face in it as he cried himself to sleep.
The next day was a Sunday, so Yasu had nowhere to be. No one bothered to try to wake him up, and for that he was grateful. He woke up, still clutching the pillow, with dried tears on his cheeks. Immediately, he recalled everything that had happened the previous night, and his heart clenched painfully in his chest.
He thought, as he furiously blinked at the tears forming in his eyes, that maybe he should go to Subaru’s house. Even if he didn’t want to talk, didn’t he at least owe Yasu an explanation? Didn’t Yasu deserve a goodbye? Wasn’t he worth that much?
But how could he possibly be angry when he knew very well that this day might come? Subaru had never promised him anything, so what right did he have to feel betrayed? As much as Shota wanted to be angry, he felt nothing but emptiness. Subaru was gone and he’d taken a part of Yasu with him.
He knew, on some level, that this is what Subaru must have felt when Rikiya left. This is the pain that Subaru must have carried around with him all those months before they met. This is the pain he must have been intensified every time he felt the need to push Yasu away.
And he tried to think… what would happen if someone else came along and tried to steal Subaru’s place in his heart? It was impossible. Yasu couldn’t possibly imagine feeling this way about anyone else and that was yet another reason why he couldn’t be mad at Subaru. Subaru would always love and treasure Rikiya… just the way that Yasu would always feel towards Subaru.
Did that make it hurt any less? Of course not. But Yasu wouldn’t go chasing after Subaru. If Subaru wanted to be with Rikiya, then Yasu wouldn’t be there guilting him into something that his heart didn’t want. He wanted Subaru to be happy. He wanted him to be able to smile and laugh and feel loved. That was all he ever wanted for Subaru. And if that meant being with someone else, then Yasu need to accept it.
He spent all day in bed, trying to tell himself to just let Subaru go. To let him be where he was where he was happiest. But it still hurt. All of it hurt so bad that by the time night rolled around, he’d curled himself back into a ball under the blankets.
It was too hard to accept that Subaru was happier with someone else. How could he be? How could he just forget that Rikiya had hurt him? How could he choose Rikiya after everything that Yasu had given him? He had been patient. He had accepted and returned everything Subaru had given him. He loved Subaru. He wouldn’t leave him, or deny his affections despite what other people might think of their relationship.
He wanted to be a bigger person, to move on and be able to feel happy for Subaru. But he couldn’t do that. And he couldn’t be mad. All that his brain and heart would allow him to feel were pain and emptiness.
The next morning, no one woke him up for school, and he was glad again that he had a family understanding to the way that he was feeling. Both his mother and sister had tried talking to him but Yasu couldn’t find it in him to talk about it. Especially not with his mom.
The only reprieve from it that he had was sleep, so Yasu found himself sleeping more than was normal or healthy. He didn’t leave his bed except to use the bathroom, and his mother had taken to leaving him food when he was sleeping.
His parents had let him stay home on Tuesday too, but by the time Wednesday morning came around, his mother was in his room trying to pull him out of bed. “Shota, you need to go. You can’t miss any more school. Not this close to graduation.” In response, Yasu just pretended to be sleeping, but it didn’t seem to be working, and his mother sat on his bed with a sigh. “Shota please.”
“No,” Yasu said quietly, the tears stinging his eyes. He couldn’t go to school. One of two possibilities faced him there: that Subaru would be gone or that he’d have to see how happy he was with someone else. He couldn’t deal with that right now. He thought that either scenario would certainly break him.
“You have to. Now get out of bed.”
He shook his head again. “No, I won’t go. If you make me, I’ll skip.” He’d meant for it to be a threat, but his voice was shaking with emotion as he spoke.
“Please tell me what’s wrong,” she pleaded. “This isn’t like you.”
He knew it wasn’t like him. He’d never skipped school or thrown hissy fits or openly disobeyed his parents. “I’m sorry. I can’t…” he said, the tears welling up in his eyes now.
She was silent for a few moments. “Will you talk to your sister about it?”
He shrugged. He didn’t know if he could talk to anyone about it. If it hurt this much to think about, how much more would it hurt to put it all out there?
“It’s not healthy for you to just sit here by yourself all day. You need to talk to someone. If you talk to your sister about it, I’ll let you stay home for the rest of the week,” she offered.
If it would make his mom happy and buy him a few more days, Shota was willing to at least try. As much as his sister teased him, he knew she cared and would listen. She’d always been protective of him, in her own weird way. “Okay…”
“Okay,” His mother put a hand on his shoulder and leaned down to kiss him. “I love you, Shota. You don’t have to be afraid to talk to me too okay? I’ll never think less of you.”
He nodded and hugged his mother close, giving her a brief kiss on the cheek. “I love you too.”
It was afternoon before his sister finally came into his room and when she did, she plopped a bag down on his bed. “I brought all of your school work.”
Yasu eyed the pile. It would probably be a good distraction from constantly thinking about Subaru and how miserable he was feeling. But then he started to think, if his sister had gone to school to get his things, then that must mean that she’d also seen Subaru. If he was still there. The question was on the tip of his tongue, but it fell off when his sister spoke.
“Mom wanted me to come and talk to you.” She crawled up his bed so that she was sitting next to him and pulled some of the blankets over her lap. “So what’s going on?”
Yasu was silent, staring hard at his lap. He had promised his mom he would try to talk about it but that was proving nearly impossible.
“It has to do with Subaru…” She started for him, looking over at him expectantly.
Yasu nodded, biting his lip.
“Did you guys break up?” She asked softly, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Yasu didn’t know how to answer that because now he wasn’t even sure they were dating. He was convinced that Subaru only saw him as a distraction from thinking about Rikiya. “I guess,” he answered, defeat in his voice.
“What happened? You seemed happy after your night together…” she reminded him.
“I was,” he answered. He’d never felt that happy.
“But? What happened?” She pressed.
“Nothing,” Yasu said stubbornly.
“Come on, Sho. Something happened. You wouldn’t lock yourself in your room for three days if it was nothing…”
“Remember how I told you about Subaru’s ex-boyfriend?” he asked quietly.
She nodded, things almost immediately falling into place. “He’s back?”
Tears sprang to Yasu’s eyes as he nodded. “I saw them kissing…”
She sighed, but it quickly turned into a growl. “The day after he slept with you?”
Yasu nodded again and wiped his eyes on his sleeve. “Yeah…”
“That bastard. I should have kicked his ass when I saw him today…”
Yasu’s head shot up and he looked over at his sister. “He’s still at school?”
She nodded. “I assume that’s why you’re avoiding going?”
“Yeah,” he said, but the wheels in his brain were already turning. If Subaru was still in school then that meant that he hadn’t run off with Rikiya. And maybe that meant he had decided not to be with Rikiya? But if that was the case, then why hadn’t he come? Why was he avoiding Yasu if he didn’t want to be with Rikiya? The only explanation he could think of was that Subaru had decided to wait until after graduation to leave for Tokyo. Maybe Taeko had convinced him to stay. Or maybe he decided to hold out the last few weeks until graduation. “You didn’t talk to him though?” he asked, almost desperately.
“No. Just looking at him made me mad. He’s lucky I didn’t hear any of this before I went, or he would have gotten his scrawny ass kicked.”
“And he didn’t say or do anything?” he pressed.
She shook her head. “He saw me. And it looked like he was waiting for me to approach him, but what was I going to say? I wasn’t going to make a scene in front of the entire class…”
“I see,” he said, a little sadly. Subaru didn’t even care how he was doing.
“What are you going to do Shota? Mom wants you back in class on Monday.”
“I don’t know. I can’t go back. What am I going to say to him?”
“Don’t say anything! He doesn’t deserve the satisfaction of knowing he had an effect on you. Just pretend he doesn’t exist…” She advised as she wrapped an arm around his shoulder.
“I can’t!” he cried, resting his head against her offered arm. “I can’t pretend he doesn’t exist. Even if he wants to be with someone else, that doesn’t change the fact that I want to be with him. I love him…”
“Oh, Shota,” she sighed and pulled him into a hug.
He returned the hug, staying in her arms for what felt like hours. “I can’t go back. I won’t…”
“You have to. You’re so close to graduation. Don’t throw it all away because you’re afraid to be around an ex-boyfriend. In a few weeks, it’ll all be over. You won’t have to see him or anyone else from school ever again.”
His sister said that as though it would make him feel better. She didn’t understand. The thought of never seeing Subaru again was just as scary as the thought of having to face him. Being around him would make Yasu want to be with him even more. He knew what it felt like to make him smile, to hug him and kiss him, to be held by him, to make love with him. And now he was trying to deal with the fact that he would never be able to do any of those things ever again. On top of all of that, he was now struggling to deal with the fact that he would never even see Subaru again.
Which was worse: facing him or never seeing him again?
Yasu spent the next four days mentally preparing his self for school. When Monday morning came, his mother dragged him from bed and only after his protests and tears did she relent and let him stay home.
He knew that he was being childish an avoiding facing everything, but he really couldn’t do it. He was barely holding on as it was. If he had to see Subaru and deal with everything, he knew he was going to break.
His sister was saved from having to bring his school work again. That Monday, after school, Maru and Ohkura had stopped by. He’d tried to refuse their company, but his mom wouldn’t budge and before he could stop her, Ohkura and Maru were making themselves comfortable in his room.
“How are you feeling?” Maru asked and Yasu shrugged. It was a stupid question. Was Maru expecting him to say anything other than how shitty he felt?
“When are you coming back to school?” Ohkura asked and all he received was another shrug.
“We brought you your school work. And this,” he pulled an envelope out of his bag and held it up, “We want you to have the prize money…” Maru said, handing the envelope with nearly 10man in it to Yasu.
“What? No!” Yasu shook his head and tried handing the money back. “We should split it.”
Ohkura shook his head. “None of us need it. We want you to have it.”
Yasu shook his head again. “Maru you can use it. Daisuke too.” And then he thought about Subaru leaving to Tokyo and he knew that it wasn’t true that no one needed it. “And Subaru…”
Ohkura shook his head, this time forcefully. “He doesn’t need it either. We all agreed. We want you to have the money. You deserve it.”
“Look,” Yasu set the envelope on the table. “I don’t really need you guys to feel bad for me, okay? I’ll be fine, so let’s just split the money five ways, okay?”
“We’ll split it if you talk to Subaru…” Maru offered boldly.
The blood drained from Yasu’s face. “No.”
“Come on, Yasu. You’re being stubborn…” Ohkura said. “Just talk to him. If it’s over then fine, but don’t you want to make it official? Don’t you want him to hear what you have to say?”
“No. He’s free to do whatever he wants. If he’s happier with Rikiya, then I’m not going to get in the way of that. He doesn’t want or need to hear what I have to say…”
Ohkura threw his hands up and let out a noise of exasperation. “You are both impossible!”
“If he doesn’t want to talk to me and I don’t want to talk to him, then why push it?” Yasu asked a little sourly. Really, he was hurt at the implication that Subaru didn’t want to talk to him. But could he blame him? What could Subaru possibly say? ‘Sorry for using you’?
“Fine,” Ohkura said.
“Now let’s just split the money and I’ll see you all later…”
Maru seemed a little more sympathetic to Yasu. “We really do want you to keep it. None of us were playing to get money. We’re thankful to you so we want you to have it. If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have had a guitarist this year and we definitely wouldn’t have gotten Subaru back. You’re the reason we won, so you deserve it…”
Yasu wanted to argue. If it was him, they would have won without Subaru. But it was Subaru’s voice and the soul that he brought to the group which caused them to win. Yasu had little, if anything at all, to do with it. But he was tired of talking and thinking about Subaru and he really just wanted them all to go home so that he could be alone. “Fine…” He said in defeat.
“Good,” Maru stood with a small smile. “I hope you’ll come back to school soon.”
Yasu just nodded politely, though he had no intention of going back any time soon.
Ohkura looked like he wanted to say something else but with one a look exchanged with Maru, he held his tongue and just nodded goodbye before leaving Yasu’s bedroom. Maru followed after him and gave Yasu a bright smile and a wave as he left.
Yasu picked up the envelope and looked at the big stack of bills inside.
“What are you going to do with it?” Yasu’s sister asked as she stopped at his doorway.
Yasu shrugged. “I don’t need it for anything…”
“Let’s go shopping!” She said, skipping into his room.
Yasu frowned. “I don’t feel like it.”
“Come ooooon,” she said, tugging on Yasu’s arm. “You’ll feel better. You need to get out of the house…”
Yasu really didn’t want to. Going out meant risking being seen by Subaru and really all he wanted was to lay in bed and continue feeling sorry for himself for as long as possible. But his sister was making it pretty clear that that really wasn’t a viable option for him, much to Yasu’s disappointment. “Fine,” he said.
So Yasu took his first shower in days and got dressed and reluctantly followed his sister from the house. As he trudged down the street, sullenly, he was oblivious to his sister’s rambling and it wasn’t until he came to the music shop that his brain started functioning. “Wait!” he called to his sister, who was several steps ahead of him.
She stopped and turned to him, “We’re not going home…”
Yasu shook his head. “No, it’s not that… I just thought of something I want.” He turned towards the store and peered through the window as stealthily as possible.
His sister took in the store and rolled her eyes. “A guitar? You’re going to waste it on that?”
“It’s my money,” Yasu said stubbornly. “And it’s not wasting! There’s something in there that I really want…”
“Then go buy it!” She said, giving Yasu a shove towards the door.
Yasu shook his head and dug his feet into the ground. “I can’t!”
She rolled her eyes and gave him another nudge. “Why not? You just said that you really want it…”
“I do,” he said quietly. “But Subaru works there…”
“Oh,” she said quietly, dropping her hands from Yasu’s shoulders almost immediately. “Do you want me to go in and see if he’s there?”
She nodded in return and turned to enter the shop. She emerged about a minute later with a small smile on her face. “He’s not here today.” She grabbed her little brother’s hand and pulled him into the shop.
“Yasu!” Ryo called as soon as Yasu entered. “It’s good to see you!”
Yasu nodded in return, hoping to avoid small talk. “I’m just here to look around. This is my sister by the way…”
His sister nodded in Ryo’s direction as Yasu took off around the corner to look at the wall of guitars.
“Hey Yasu, what’s going on with Subaru?” Ryo asked, raising his voice so that the other boy could here.
Yasu pouted with his back turned to Ryo. Subaru was the absolute last person he wanted to talk about. “I don’t know,” Yasu said a little sourly. “Why don’t you ask Rikiya?”
“Oh,” was all Ryo said because it didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on.
“Hey Ryo… where’s the guitar?” Yasu asked, searching the wall a little desperately.
“The red one?”
“Oh, sorry Yasu. We sold it. Just a couple hours ago, actually…”
Yasu’s heart sank and he heaved a sigh. “I see,” he said sadly, feeling completely defeated.
“We’ll have another one in stock next week…” Ryo offered.
Yasu shook his head, suddenly not caring about anything. Who cares if they had another one in stock? It wasn’t the one he had laid eyes on the first day he met Subaru. It wasn’t the one that he had played so many times by then? It wouldn’t be the same…
“Let’s go,” his sister s said as she grabbed Yasu’s hand and tugged him from the shop. “Come on. Let’s go spend your money on something stupid.”
Yasu just followed along, feeling hollow and only nodding along to whatever useless thing his sister was saying. When he thought about it, there was nothing in his life he could find to be happy about. Everything felt like it was falling apart around him and Yasu was drowning in hopelessness.
He knew his sister was annoyed that he was so depressed over the guitar. She’d already said fifty times since they started shopping not to worry about it – that they’d get a new one in stock in a week. But she didn’t understand. That guitar was symbolic of his relationship with Subaru. The fact that it was gone, that some stranger had taken it from him… there was no coincidence there, he was sure of it.