I must have been sitting up all night, I realized. The sun had come up, shining brightly through my windows and blinding me.
The entire night my mind went over whatever reason I could come up with as to why Tadayoshi had never come home. Perhaps he was in some sort of accident, lying in a hospital. Or maybe he forgot how to find his way back home. Or he was just playing some really bad joke.
I was torn. Part of me wanted to accept these horrible scenarios as true. And although the other part of me felt sick at the idea that Tadayoshi could be hurt, it hurt more to think that he would leave me of his own will.
But there was no other way to explain his sudden and heartbreaking departure. I knew Tadayoshi had left me. His strange behavior the previous night wasn't because he had no appetite or whatever other excuse he had given. He had been thinking about how, in a few hours, he would be walking out of my life.
The previous night, as he held me in his arms, as he made love to me -- the whole time he knew that he would be leaving. I wanted to feel angry, to feel betrayed, but all I felt was emptiness.
I tried to move, to stand, to cry, to do anything that would make me feel alive, but I was numb. The pain had gone away hours before the sun had risen and now I was only left with questions I couldn't answer. I couldn't understand why he would come back only to leave me. Why he couldn't tell me goodbye to my face. If he ever even loved me at all.
It was nine in the morning. I was already an hour late for work, and I knew even if I could have removed myself from the dent my butt had formed in the couch, I wouldn't have gone. The small, illogical part of my brain – the same part that had decided it was fine to enter such a forbidden relationship – held onto a hope that Tadayoshi was coming back.
And then, suddenly that part of my brain took over and I could feel the tears springing from my eyes. Drawing in a shaky breath, I covered my face with my hands. I couldn't live this way, torn between so many emotions. I couldn't live without Tadayoshi.
And that conclusion was all it took to give me the strength to pull myself from the couch. I didn't want to be without Tadayoshi, and that desperateness brought me from the couch, where I pulled a jacket out of the closet and quickly slipped my shoes onto my feet. I left the apartment, not bothering to lock the door behind me as I shoved my hands into my pocket and hurried down the street.
The sun that had been shining so brightly earlier, had disappeared behind the thick, ominous clouds. It suddenly felt cold and it occurred to me, as I stopped in the middle of street, that I didn't know where I was going.
The sound of a car horn blaring shook me out of my thoughts, and I quickly ran the rest of the way across the street. I didn't know what to do or where to find Tadayoshi. There was only one place he could be, I realized, as I lifted my arm to hail a taxi.
“Where are you going?” the driver asked me as I climbed into the back seat and closed the door.
“Do you know the Ohkura estate?” I asked, a bit breathlessly.
“That big house on the hill? Sure...”
“Take me there,” I leaned back in my seat, glad, as I reached into my pocket, that I had remembered to bring my wallet.
The ride to the Ohkura Estate was a long one, and as we grew closer, it was clear to me how differently Tadayoshi's childhood had been from mine. The area was full of posh homes, mostly western style, surrounded by huge walls and gates. And although we were still in Osaka, I never knew that there were this many trees in one area of metropolis.
“Hey mister,” The taxi driver looked at me from his rear-view mirror. “I don't know which house it is.”
“That's fine,” I opened my wallet and pulled out two ten-thousand yen notes, tossing them at him. “I can find it from here.”
I climbed out of the cab and pulled my jacket tighter around myself. The breeze had become bitingly cold. I looked to the sky, as the black clouds loomed ominously, noting that rain would be coming soon.
The cab was gone and I suddenly felt alone on the dark, private road. Shoving my hands back into my pockets, I walked slowly up the road, paying close attention to the name plaques outside of each of the gates.
I came to the end of the road and found myself staring up at a large, somehow threatening looking house. I didn't even need to look at the placard to know that this was the Ohkura estate. I rushed forward, disappointed to find the gate leading up to the driveway locked.
There was, however, an intercom built into the gate and I quickly pushed the call button. A few seconds of silence passed before a voice came over the other end, “Ohkura estate. How can I help you?”
“I'm a friend of Tadayoshi. Is he in?” I asked quickly, trying to sound calm despite my racing heart.
There was a pause on the other end of the line before the man's voice came over once more. “Ohkura-bocchama is not here.”
Silence surrounded me as I waited for something, anything. The silence continued, and I pressed the button once more. Then the man's voice returned, he sighed in annoyance, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Are you sure he's not in?” I asked, knowing the answer. He had said he didn't want to leave, wouldn't return home. He had left my side, though, and there was nowhere else he could be but here.
“Yes, I am positive. He isn't here.”
“Do you know where I can find him?” I asked, hoping that I could somehow trick the man into some type of information.
“He's at school,” the man replied, and I wondered the truth behind his statement. It was a weekday and he was sixteen. If he had come home, it was perfectly likely that he would be in school. I glanced down at my watch. It was already 2PM.
“I'll just wait for him here then,” I said calmly, taking off my jacket and setting it on the ground.
“You can't wait here,” The voice said, coming back over the loud speaker, a note of panic in his voice.
I sat up on my knees, pressing my face to the speaker and opening my mouth to speak. I was cut off, however, as another voice came over the loudspeaker. “Yasuda-san,” I recognized the voice immediately as Ohkura Hideo's. “Why don't you come in?”
I stood up, picking my jacket off the ground, shocked as the gate opened. I walked slowly up the gravel driveway, filled with paranoia that ninjas were going to jump out and attack me like some sort of silly movie. I was surprised when I made it safely to the door, where an old woman in a kimono was waiting for me.
She said nothing as I entered the house and waited as I removed my shoes. I looked around curiously as she guided me down a hallway that opened into a garden. Leading me to a room with a rice paper screen door, she knelt on the floor, sliding it open gracefully. “Ohkura-san will be with you shortly,” she said, motioning for me to enter the washitsu.
I bowed to her and she shut the door. I stood there awkwardly for a few moments, staring at all of the priceless Japanese art adorning the room before finally sitting down. I crossed my legs, drumming my fingers impatiently on my knees. Suddenly, I felt nervous, and as the rice paper screen reopened, I almost jumped out of my skin.
“Yasuda-san,” Ohkura Hideo entered the room, behind him the same woman who had let me in was carrying a tray with cups of tea. He sat down across from me, “Would you like some tea?”
I wasn't thirsty, and my nervousness would have prevented me from keeping anything down. But politeness had me nodding my head and the woman set a cup in front of me, pouring the hot tea. She turned and left, bowing again as she shut the rice paper screen.
“What can I do for you?” Ohkura asked, a smile spreading across his face. I shuddered, noting that he had the same round face as his son, the same wrinkles in the corner of his eyes as he smiled. The smile that crossed the older man's face was what had my skin crawling. It was a evil, sadistic smile that I hoped never to see cross Tadayoshi's innocently beautiful face.
“I'm here to see Tadayoshi.”
Hideo chuckled, “You are either very stubborn, or Tadayoshi didn't do his job right.”
My brows furrowed in confusion at his cryptic words. This only made him chuckle again before standing up.
“Tadayoshi is at school right now, but you're welcome to wait here until he gets home.”
I stood up too, following him to the door. “You're letting me stay?”
“Of course. You wanted to speak with Tadayoshi, right?”
I nodded my head quickly. I knew there had to be some sort of catch behind him letting me stay, but he only smiled cryptically at me as he stepped out of the room and slid the door closed.
I seated myself once more on the floor, after Hideo's retreating footsteps had faded away. I glanced down at my watch. Only a half hour had passed since I had been allowed entry to the Ohkura estate, and I wondered how long it would be before I was able to see Tadayoshi.
Waiting only made my mind wander, and I couldn't figure out why Hideo had so willingly let me into his home. Even more, I couldn't understand why he would let me see Tadayoshi when it was clear that he had no intention of letting us be together.
My heart was racing with excitement as I heard a car pull up in the gravel driveway. Even if I had to leave here without Tadayoshi, I knew that I would be leaving with some sort of explanation. He had promised that he would wait for us to be together and today I would leave knowing if I could trust his promise.
What felt like hours passed before the door slid open and my eyes darted immediately to the young man standing in the doorway. When his eyes landed on me a look of surprise crossed his face before it was quickly replaced by an unemotional, blank expression.
“Would you like some tea, bocchama?” The servant asked, trailing behind Tadayoshi.
He shook his head, finally stepping into the room. He threw his school bag into the corner and crossed the room towards me, making my heart thump wildly in my chest. “You can go,” he said to the woman and she nodded, closing the door.
I waited until she was gone, taking note of how handsome, and young, Tadayoshi looked in his school uniform. As soon as I knew we were alone, I scooted across the room towards where my lover was sitting. “Tadayoshi,” I grabbed his hands.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, not meeting my eyes as he pulled his hands away from mine and put more distance between us.
“Why did you leave?” I asked, ignoring his question and his sudden need to get away from me.
He sighed, leaning back onto his palms as he finally made eye contact with me. “Look, Yasuda, it's over between us.”
“Over?” I asked, feeling a lump rising in my throat. I felt disgust washing over me as his words sank in. “What are you talking about?”
He sighed again. “Its been fun, but really, that's all it was.”
“All it was?” I shook my head in disbelief. “I don't get what you're saying.”
He rolled his eyes at me. “I had fun the past month, but that's all it was. I'm sorry if you thought otherwise, but this was just a game to me.”
“A game?” A wave of nausea flew over me and I quickly raised my hand to cover my mouth as I felt the uncontrollable urge to throw up. “I don't get it. What are you talking about?” I demanded, removing my hand from my mouth.
He laughed, the same bone-chilling laugh his father had, and again I felt like heaving. “I was sick of life. I was bored here all the time, so I needed something new and exciting. Meeting you was a bit of a miracle really. I've never had so much fun playing with someone.”
I shook my head, and though I tried not to, I could feel tears spring to my eyes as the reality of the situation, of what he was saying, hit me like a ton of bricks. “What about the other night? What we did?” I asked, remembering how tenderly he had held me as he made love to my body.
A dreamy look crossed his face, quickly hidden by that trademark Ohkura evil smile. “That was fun, wasn't it? You were really good. It almost made leaving hard.”
“But,” I raised my arm, quickly blotting my tears on the sleeves of my shirt. “You told me you loved me.”
He sighed again, sounding annoyed and I was filled with disgust. “They're just words. Are you so gullible?”
This wasn't the Tadayoshi that I knew, that I loved. Something was wrong, horribly wrong and I reached out for him. My arms found their way around his neck, and I closed my eyes breathing in his scent. It relaxed me, made me realize that my Tadayoshi was somewhere in there.
He pushed me away and I fell backwards, landing hard on my butt. “I'm telling you that it's over. I've had my fill of you and I'm bored with it.”
“Stop it,” I told him, not able to even look at his face, not willing to listen to the disgusting lies coming from his mouth. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“Is this really so bad?” he asked, standing up and crossing the room. “This has been a good experience for us both. I had fun on this little vacation from life, and you've finally come to terms with the fact that you're gay. You have your family's acceptance and support and that's something you didn't have before this. So having both gained something, why don't we just walk away?”
I shook my head fiercely. “Walk away? What do I have to walk away to?”
He turned to me angrily, picking up his bag and tossing it over his shoulder. “You have a family that loves you, friends that support you, security in who you are!”
“I don't care about that. It doesn't mean anything to me if I can't have you. I love you Tadayoshi.” Tears were streaming down my face.
“Yeah, well, I don't want to be with you,” he opened the door, quickly exiting the room.
I fell face forward, shaking uncontrollably with my sobs. The door opened a few moments later and I looked up quickly, hoping that it was Tadayoshi. Hoping to see him grinning at me and telling me that it was all a joke. Wanting him to scoop me up in his arms and kiss me.
I was greeted with the face of Ohkura Hideo, however, and he said in annoyance, “Are you satisfied now?”
I said nothing as I stood up, passing Hideo and wandering down the hall to the front door. I was back to feeling numb. I wished I had never come here, as I slipped my shoes on and let myself out of the door.
Outside the rain had started falling, and each drop felt painful, like thousands of needles piercing every inch of my flesh. Something made me turn around and as I looked up at the second story, there was Tadayoshi, staring down at me. Our eyes met for a brief moment before he pulled the screen closed.
My heart was pounding so hard in my chest, so loudly in my ears, I didn't realize how loudly I had been sobbing until a car pulled up next to me. “Are you okay?”
I looked over, recognizing the voice as Uchi's. I moved my head, and the gesture was somewhere between a nod and a headshake. He opened the door, scooting over in his seat, “Its raining really hard. Let me give you a ride home.”
The car ride was silent, and I was thankful that he didn't ask me any questions or even look at me as I leaned my forehead against the glass and continued crying. It felt like no time had passed at all before we were in my neighborhood.
The uncontrollable urge to throw up came over me again as Tadayoshi's words played over and over in my head. “Pull over here,” I said, reaching for the handle.
“What?” Uchi looked over at me. “Are you okay?” He asked as he motioned for his driver to pull over.
I nodded, opening my door. “I can walk home from here.” I exited the car and was glad that it pulled away before my legs gave out and I collapsed onto the sidewalk.
It was dark out, the only light was offered by the orange halogen bulb in the street lamp hanging over my head. I leaned over the curb of the sidewalk, emptying the contents of my stomach onto the street. My stomach hurt, felt like it was on fire. I hadn't eaten anything in two days, but still my stomach lurched again and I found myself gagging.
“Shin-chan!” I heard the unmistakable voice of Maruyama call. “I found him.”
The rain stopped hitting me, and I leaned forward, resting my cheek against the cold, wet concrete. I looked up at Maruyama's worried face, and I fought to blink away tears as he held his umbrella over my head.
I heard running and watched as Murakami nudged Maru out of the way, touching my forehead with his flat palm. “You're burning up, Shota. What are you doing out here with an umbrella? Are you stupid?”
Maru tsked at him, reaching down and brushing the hair that was matted to my forehead away. “We were so worried about you. You'd missed work the past couple of days so when Shingo and I went to check on you, the door was open...” he trailed off.
I was shaking with sobs again, my face rubbing painfully against the concrete as I fought the urge to throw up again.
“Yasu,” Maruyama's hand was rubbing circles on my back. “What's wrong?”
I said nothing, couldn't bring myself to explain what had happened.
“Should we bring him to the hospital?” Maruyama asked, his voice filled with worry.
“Hold this,” I hear Murakami say and knew that he was handing his own umbrella over to Maruyama. He reached down, scooping me into his arms. “Damnit, Shota, have you been eating at all?”
I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, crying into his neck. He reached up, awkwardly patting my head. “Why don't we go get you warmed up and fed?”
Maruyama nodded, grabbing one of my arms and helping to pull me off of the sidewalk. Luckily we were close to a restaurant, because I didn't think my legs would be able to carry me very far. I sat down in a booth, dripping water onto the floor.
Maruyama sat beside me, wrapping his arm around my shoulders while Murakami sat across from us. He reached for the menus, handing one to Maruyama. “What do you want to eat?”
I shook my head. “I'm not hungry.”
“You have to eat something,” Murakami scolded me.
I shook my head once more, “I can't eat. I'll just throw it up.”
Murakami sighed, and when the waitress came, he ordered for me. We sat in silence for a few moments.
“Shota,” Maruyama began. “What happened?”
Just thinking about it brought tears to my eyes and Murakami reached across the table, patting my hand. “You don't have to talk about it.”
I nodded, eying the mug of beer that the waitress had just set in front of Maruyama. “Can I have a drink?”
He nodded, nudging his glass towards me. “Here.”
I picked up the mug, drowning most of its contents in one large gulp, noticing how immediate it made me feel warmer.
Murakami pulled the mug away, “You shouldn't drink on an empty stomach. It'll make you sick.”
“I'll eat then,” and as soon as the waitress set my plate down on the table, I ordered another beer.
Murakami looked worried but said nothing, glad, as I pulled the plate towards me and started shoveling the food into my mouth, that I was eating. When the waitress came, he ordered another round of drinks.
After a few beers, I started to feel better, the dizziness and dull buzz in my head a delightful reprieve from all of the thoughts I had been having about Tadayoshi. I couldn't handle replaying his words one more time.
“Maybe you should stop now,” Maruyama said as my seventh beer arrived at the table.
“I'm still thirsty,” I said, reaching for the glass, misjudging the distance and almost knocking it off of the table.
“Let's get you some water then,” Murakami said, pulling the glass away from me.
“I don't want water. I want beer,” I tried reaching for the glass once more, but he moved it out of my way. I pouted, resting my head against the table. The cool table top felt incredible against my warm skin and I didn't realize how much work it was keeping my head up. I stifled a yawn as my eyes fell shut.
Several minutes passed as I drifted in and out of sleep. I was semi-conscious as Maruyama's phone started vibrating in his pocket. A few seconds later he shifted on the bench, “I should be getting home.”
“Was that Ohno?” Murakami asked, trying to sound disinterested.
“Who told you about that?” I could hear what was, unmistakably, shame entering his voice.
A silence fell over the table, and although the conversation was interesting, I found myself drifting off into sleep again.
Murakami's voice shook me awake again. “Are you happy?”
“What do you care?”
“I do care. You know I care about you, so stop pretending that I don't,” Murakami's voice sounded hurt.
“Well, I need more than that,” Maru's voice sounded somewhat annoyed.
It was Murakami's turn to sound annoyed. “So you just go out and replace me right away?”
“I didn't replace you. I upgraded.” That sounded harsh, even if technically, I was always sort of on Maruyama's side. “At least Ohno isn't afraid to say that he loves me.”
“You know I love you,” Murakami's voice sounded softer than I had ever heard and I knew that it was a kindness that he reserved only for Maru's ears.
“You say that now, when you're drunk,” his voice shook and I could tell he was close to crying. “I can't trust you to say it when you're sober. When we're with friends, or around your family.”
“Do you love him?” Murakami asked his ex-lover and a silence fell over the table.
“It's none of your business,” Maru said, and though he meant to sound harsh, his voice came out softly.
I grew annoyed as I listened to them, pulling my head off of the table. “Will you both shut up?”
They stared at me, wide-eyed. It was clear that they thought they were alone in their conversation, and if I wasn't so depressed, I would have laughed at the stupid looks on their faces.
“You're both so stupid,” I ran a hand through my hair. “You both love each other and there is nothing standing in your way of being together.”
“You can't understand,” Maruyama said, and he sounded angry that I had inserted myself into their conversation.
“I can understand. I can understand perfectly well that you two love each other and you're too proud to just say sorry and be together.”
“It's not as simple as that,” Murakami mumbled. “There are other things standing in the way.”
“Like what? Do you really care that much about what people think? I already told you that no one cares that you two are dating. We've known for years that you guys were screwing each other. And your parents? They're your parents and they'll love you no matter what. So just get over yourselves...”
“Yasu,” Maru began.
“Nothing you say is going to make me feel bad for you. You love each other and you're being selfish by not being together.”
And then, as I thought about how they had each other and I was alone, a wave of nausea came over me again. I slapped a hand over my mouth, moaning.
“Are you okay?”
“I think I am going to be sick,” I groaned, leaning forward and resting my head against the table again.
“We should get him home,” Maruyama muttered, sliding off of the bench.
Murakami nodded, standing up and coming around to the other side of the table, pulling me out of my spot. “Come on. Let's get you to bed.”
They both grabbed one of my arms, draping them over their shoulders and guiding me out of the restaurant. We were only a few blocks from my apartment, but the walk there was covered in an awkward silence.
“I'm sorry,” I slurred, the alcohol had taken its full affect. “I didn't mean to yell at you guys.”
“It's okay,” Maruyama reached over and patted my head.
We arrived at my apartment and the pair struggled to carry me up the stairs, laughing as I apologized profusely for being too heavy. Maruyama let go of me, leaning my weight onto Murakami as he opened the door.
“In we go,” Murakami said, lifting me over the threshold and guiding me to my bedroom.
“No,” I moaned, shaking my head. “Not the bedroom.”
I grabbed both sides of the door, refusing to enter the room. “Come on,” Maruyama grunted, trying to push me into the room.
I was crying again and I lost any strength I had, letting them pull me into bedroom.
“Help me change his clothes. He's still all wet,” Murakami pulled my wet shirt off over my head and it fell with a wet plop onto the floor.
“Stop,” I said, pushing Murakami away. “I can't handle this. I need to get out.”
I turned, trying to walk towards the door, but the dizziness overwhelmed me, and I fell to the floor. “Come on,” Maruyama picked me up off the floor and, with Murakami's help, they carried me over to the bed.
“What about his pants?” Murakami asked.
“Leave them. He's upset.”
I sat up in bed, “I can't stay here.” I could still feel Tadayoshi's presence, smell the heady scent of sex on the sheets. I was panicking, could feel my body begin to shake as Tadayoshi's words came flooding back. He had told me that it was all some game, but I couldn't shake the way he had held me, the way he had whispered to me that he loved me.
“What is wrong with him?” Murakami asked, worry consuming his voice.
“Shota,” Maruyama wrapped his arms around me. “Calm down.”
I hugged him back, “I can't stay here.”
I was tired. Exhausted from everything that had physically and emotionally happened to me over the past three days. I could feel myself go limp in Maruyama's arms, and as he laid me on the bed, pulling the blankets up over my shoulders. “Will you stay?” I asked quietly.
He looked over his shoulder at Murakami. “I can't.”
“Please,” I murmured. “I don't want to be alone.”
“I'll stay then,” Murakami crossed the room and Maruyama eyed him suspiciously.
“No, don't worry about it. I'll stay with him,” Maru tried shooing him away.
“I said I would stay. You have to get home anyway.” Murakami motioned for him to get off the bed.
“This is about Tadayoshi. You'll only make him feel worse about it.”
“I won't,” Murakami pulled Maruyama off the bed. “Shota's my friend and he's hurt. I'm not going to do anything to make it worse.”
Maruyama sighed, not sure if he could trust the older man's words. “Fine. I'll call you tomorrow,” and I wasn't sure if he was talking to me or to Murakami.
I could feel Murakami slide into the bed next to me as Maruyama turned the lights off. Shingo's arm wrapped awkwardly around my shoulder and I knew he was making some kind of effort.
“You were right, Shingo. I should have listened to you. Getting involved with Tadayoshi was the stupidest thing I've ever done.”
“Shota, get some sleep.”
“It hurts,” I cried, “Loving someone, wanting to be with them, and being able to do nothing about it.”
“I know,” his voice shook, and I thought that perhaps he was crying too. I knew as he hugged me tighter that this was the first time, in what felt like forever, that we understood one another. “I don't think I will ever get over him.”
I shook my head. As sick as I felt, as much as I wished that I could forget Tadayoshi, I knew that I would never get over him. That I would never want another person.
A/N: Writing this took me hours and hours and days and days. And now that I finish it I feel sorta sick to my stomach. I hate to leave it here. Actually, I just kinda really hate this entire chapter >< So expect the next one in the next 24 hours so I can quickly put this chapter from my mind xD