At twenty-three, it was my first time in love.
I was in such a good mood that morning that I didn't even need my usual cup of coffee to combat crankiness. I grabbed the photo album and slipped it into my briefcase before putting on a pair of shoes. I had no idea what to do with it, but it worried me much less that day.
Outside the sun was shining bright and the birds were chirping happily. I thought that perhaps the world was so happy with my revelation that it was celebrating. The train ride to work was also much shorter than usual. I was so wrapped up in my own world that I had almost missed my stop.
As I approached the clinic, I noticed that Yokoyama was again loitering outside. "Yoko!" I called, waving from across the street at him. When the crosswalk light turned, I hurried across the street. Checking my watch, I noticed that I was over fifteen minutes early for work. Plenty of time to try to weasel some information out of Yokoyama.
I caught up with him, panting a little from running across the street. "Good morning," I smiled.
He just nodded in reply. I looked at his face then and noticed the dark circles under his eyes. Upon further inspection, his uniform was wrinkled and untucked.
"Are you okay?"
He nodded again, swaying back and forth. "I haven't been sleeping well lately. Just a little tired."
I looked at him with concern. He was barely able to hold himself up properly. The officer took another step and I had to rush forward to catch him before he fell over. "Yoko!"
He was much bigger and heavier than me, and it was hard holding him up by myself.
"Subaru..." I looked down at Yokoyama's face and he was staring up at me through half-lidded eyes.
"Yasu!" I looked over at my shoulder and noticed that Murakami was running towards us, "What happened?"
I sighed in relief as Murakami caught up with us, lifting Yokoyama easily in his muscled arms.
"He's exhausted," I explained. "I don't think he's slept at all in the past few days."
"Let's get him inside," Murakami was hurrying towards the clinic and I had to jog to keep up with him. Once inside, Maruyama looked over from his position at the nurses station, a look of horror on his face.
"What happened?" he asked with a worried look on his face.
I grabbed a wheelchair and pushed it over to where Murakami was standing. He hurriedly set the officer into the chair. "Let's bring him to the infirmary," he muttered and Maru started pushing the chair.
I held onto Yokoyama's shoulders to prevent him from falling as Maru pushed the chair silently. In the infirmary I helped Maruyama lift Yokoyama from the chair and into one of the beds.
The unconscious man stirred, opening his eyes as Shingo held a stethoscope to his chest. "Subaru," he looked at me again, and I patted his hand. He had mistaken me for Subaru twice already and rather than correct him I decided to comfort him. He smiled as my warm hand reached out to touch his cold, clammy cheek. "Love... Subaru," he smiled and closed his eyes then.
Murakami looked up at me then, an indiscernible look in his eyes. "He's fine," the doctor said, standing up. "He's just in dire need of some sleep."
I nodded and stood up, ready to get to my office.
"I can't believe this," I heard Murakami tell the nurse. "What is wrong with Yokoyama?"
"What do you mean?" Maruyama asked, and I paused to listen.
"Getting involved with Subaru. He's an officer of the law. He should know better than chasing after minors." Murakami made a tsk noise as though completely disgusted.
"He can't help who he falls in love with, Shin-chan." Maru commented, looking over at me quickly.
The look exchanged between Maru and myself did not go unnoticed by Shingo. "It's wrong."
A wave of guilt swept over me then, and I tried hurrying from the room.
"Wait! Yasu!" I heard Maruyama call to me.
I stopped in the hallway, the tears stinging and blurring my vision too much to keep going. I leaned against the wall, crying silently and hoping that no one would see me.
"Why did you do that?" I heard Maru scold Murakami.
"Do what?" he asked gruffly, pretending that he didn't know what Maruyama was talking about.
"You made Yasu feel bad," the nurse's voice got louder, and it was the only time I had ever heard him mad.
"Good." Murakami replied, his own voice remaining calm. "He should feel bad about chasing after a sixteen year old."
"Why are you so unfeeling? He's struggling over this and you're making it worse!"
"He should be struggling over it!" Murakami lowered his voice, but anger was seeping into it.
"I thought you of all people would understand," Maruyama said softly.
"Understand? Why would I be able to understand Yasuda being infatuated with a sixteen year old? Better yet, a sixteen year old patient..."
"Because... he's struggling with admitting that he's gay. I thought that if anyone could understand and support him, it would be you!" I could hear Maru's voice getting shaky, as though he was about to cry himself.
"Well, you were wrong." I could hear Murakami say from the door, and I hurried to hide so that he wouldn't see me.
"I'm so disappointed right now," I heard Maruyama say, and this time I could tell that he really was crying.
"Well, that makes two of us," and with that, I heard Murakami walking down the hall.
I wanted to go into the room and comfort Maruyama, but I was too busy trying to stop my own tears. The last thing that Murakami needed to deal with was two grown men crying like babies. I heard him leave the room a few moments later.
I picked up my briefcase, counting it as a miracle that I hadn't lost it yet in the rush of things this morning. I heard more footsteps approaching and looked to see who it was.
Subaru and Tadayoshi were walking towards me, presumably on their way to breakfast. Subaru was talking animatedly about something and the younger boy was just nodding his head, listening with disinterest.
They both looked up and saw me at the same time and I hurriedly wiped my eyes with my sleeves and smiled weakly. "Good morning." I turned and tried to hurry away.
"Are you okay?" Subaru asked me, and I wondered how bad I looked. "Are you crying?"
I shook my head, and I could feel more tears spring to my eyes. This always happened when someone asked me if I was crying. I kept my thoughts and fears bottled up so long, and for some reason, that question always broke the damn that I had so carefully built up. I wanted desperately to confess everything to someone.
I shook my head again, trying to smile. "My allergies. It's making my eyes water," I lied, and I could tell that Subaru didn't believe me. Tadayoshi was ignoring me altogether.
There was no way I could unload all of my problems onto Subaru. That was part of the reason I was into all of this trouble with Tadayoshi. I sniffed it up and tried my hardest to regain my composure.
"Are you sure?" he asked again, skeptically.
"I am going to go to the cafeteria. I'll see you later," Tadayoshi said to Subaru, annoyance in his voice.
I waited until Tadayoshi was out of sight before whispering to Subaru, "Yokoyama is here."
His eyes lit up for a brief moment before he went back to the same bored face. "I don't care."
"I mean, he's here as a patient. Kind of..." I said, and Subaru's facade dropped.
"What? Is he okay? Where is he?"
I led Subaru to the infirmary where Yoko was resting peacefully. "He's okay." I commented as Subaru ran to the bedside, pulling a chair over and sitting down. "He just needs some rest."
"What happened?" Subaru asked, his eyes never leaving Yokoyama's face.
I shrugged. "I saw him outside and he told me he hadn't been sleeping well lately. Then he just passed out."
I watched as he leaned over Yokoyama's still form. Now that I knew about Subaru's feelings for the older man, I felt like I was witnessing something personal and intimate. I quietly left the room as Subaru swept some of the sweat-matted hair off of Yoko's forehead.
I grabbed my briefcase once more, intent on finding my way to the office this time. I had successfully avoided anyone else and maneuvered myself into the office. I didn't have any appointments until afternoon.
I opened my briefcase and pulled out the photo album. I was sure that Ryo was still worrying over it. And I still hadn't come up with a reasonable situation in which I could magically find the photo book after an extensive search had been made a day earlier. I also couldn't just give it back to Ryo with Ohkura's picture in it.
Ohkura did not want to be found out. I understood what he meant when he had told me that he would have to go back to his old life eventually. Sooner or later, his father would find him and chance are, I would never be able to see him again. If I handed over the photo album, I would have to risk that chance. And right now, I was not ready to do that.
I thought about ripping out that picture, but Ryo would be able to draw his own conclusions regarding that move. I was positive that he knew every picture by heart. If I were to take it out, he would be able to put two and two together and Tadayoshi would be screwed.
I decided, for now, that I would keep it in my bag. I would figure out what to do with it later. I was positive that Ryo was missing it, but I would make sure that it got back to him eventually.
I looked up at my clock after daydreaming and realized that it was already time for my sessions to start. Subaru was my first patient that day, I noted as I pulled his file out. After ten minutes had passed and the young man still had not arrived, I decided that it was time to go look for him.
Walking out of the office, I had a good idea of where I would find him. I headed towards the infirmary, positive that he was still there. I was in my own little world, thinking about that photo album and Tadayoshi. It caught me off guard when someone grabbed my arm and pulled me into the bathroom.
I turned around and Tadayoshi was staring at me, crossing his arms over his chest. "So..." he began.
Again I felt that dangerous excitement of being alone with him when I knew we shouldn't be together. "Tadayoshi..." I didn't know what to say. I was happy to see him.
"So, when am I getting kicked out?" He leaned against the sink, a dark look crossing his face.
"Kicked out?" I scratched my head, confused as to what I was talking about.
"Yeah. You know I took Nishikido's photo album."
"Yeah, I also know why you did, Ohkura Tadayoshi..." I replied, putting emphasis on his last name.
He stared me down for a minute. "So how much money do you want?"
"Money?" I asked, confused again.
"Yeah, you want money to keep quiet about it, right? Well, you might as well know that I don't have any money. My credit cards have been cut off. You should just go turn me into my father. Although I am sure he won't give you any either."
I shook my head. It seemed like the closer we got, the less he was able to read my mind. "I don't want money and I am not turning you in."
"What? Why not?"
"Because if I do that, then you'll have to leave..." I trailed off, hoping he would understand. As a psychologist, I couldn't very well tell a patient that I wanted him to stay here forever.
"..." he stared at me, "I thought you didn't want me around."
I shook my head. "I never said that. It's dangerous having you around, but that doesn't mean I want you to leave."
He smiled a little then, and I could tell that he understood me. I smiled back at him and gasped when he reached over and pulled me into tight hug.
I wiggled out of his arms and frowned at him. "See? This is what I mean by dangerous. We can't do this."
He pouted again, and he looked just like a little kid. "No one is here."
"Someone could walk in. I could get fired."
"The I'll leave the clinic. If I'm not your patient, then no one can say anything," he smiled, seemingly
satisfied with his solution.
It was my turn to pout, "You can't go back home." I was afraid. If Tadayoshi returned home, I might never see him again.
"I won't go back home. I'll get a job and find a place to live."
It sounded like the whim of a teenager and I was reminded of exactly how young he was. "No," I shook my head. "I can't let you do that. No one is going to hire a sixteen year old."
"Lots of kids drop out of high school and get jobs. Don't you want to be with me?" He asked, staring at me.
I was too afraid to answer that question honestly. "It doesn't matter what I want. You shouldn't throw away your future."
"I'm not throwing it away," He seemed to be getting mad at me. "I'm happy right now and I want to stay with you. I don't care about anything else."
"Tadayoshi," I said his name sternly. "I would rather you go back home than ruin any chance you have at a decent life."
"You don't know what it's like there. If I go back, I have no future of my own. Everything will be decided for me. I hate it there!" He turned away from me and I could tell that he was close to crying.
"How bad can it be? Your family is there and you have plenty of money. You'll never have to worry about anything."
"I don't have family! He took away everything that has ever been important to me," he choked back a sob, his voice cracking in the process. He sat down on the floor, putting his face in his hands. I made sure the door was locked before I went to Tadayoshi and sat down, wrapping an arm around his shoulder.
"My mom died when I was little," he began, although I already knew that part of his past. "I always stayed by her side. I knew even back then that it was my fault that she was sick. If I'd never been born, she probably would have been alive still. He pressured her into having me. She probably never even wanted me." His shoulders were shaking now.
I shook my head. "That's not true," I said, remembering the quote I had read from that article. "She loved you."
He didn't respond. I wasn't sure if he'd accepted what I had said or if he had even heard me. "After she died, he never let me outside. He was always calling a doctor every time I sneezed, afraid something was wrong with his precious heir.
"One time he was out of town on business and the maid let me outside to play with her son. There was another boy there too named Ryo -- the son of my father's body guard. I'd never been allowed to play outside before, I was so happy. They were hunting for stag beetles; something I had only seen on television.
"And he maid's son, Hiroki, he was so nice. He let me use his net and taught me the right way to catch a beetle. Even today, that day is still one of the happiest ones of my life. Hiroki was a year younger than both Ryo and I, but we were both always fighting to get his attention. We both adored him more than anyone else in the world.
"After that day, Hiroki would sneak into the house to play with me. He would always bring cards, or toys, or magazines for me. I was sure that he would rather be outside playing with Ryo, but he always made time for me.
"Then when I was twelve, he stopped coming. I found out through one of the other maids that Hiroki's mom had died. When I asked where he was, no one knew. Over the next few weeks, I heard people saying things about Hiroki's mom and my father. Things about them having an affair and Hiroki being my bastard brother.
"A few months later, Hiroki came to the house with all of his suitcases. He was moving in. I ran to him, so happy to see him.
"But he yelled at me, 'Can't you see that we're enemies now? Are you stupid? I hate you!' and he shoved me to the ground. I couldn't understand back then what had happened. We had always been friends and all of a sudden he hated me.
"My father pulled me aside and told me, 'He's also the heir to all of this. If you let him be better than you, you'll get nothing.'
"It scared me when he said that. I didn't care if i had to leave. But if I got everything, what would happen to Hiroki? My father didn't let it go. He was always whispering to me, 'Don't let him beat you! You're the real Ohkura!'
"And I tried to be mad. I tried to hate Hiroki the way he hated me, but I couldn't do it. He was my best and only friend. When I had found out he was my brother, I'd loved him even more.
"He didn't stay in the house long. My father sent him away to Tokyo. He probably knew that I wasn't willing to fight to become the true heir. I didn't care if I was the real Ohkura. Hiroki was my weak spot and I would have given him anything had he asked.
"Before he left, Hiroki came to my room once more, 'I'll definitely beat you,' he told me and I nodded. I had no doubt that he could beat me without even trying hard. He was always nicer and funnier and smarter and better liked than me.
"'Everything is your fault,' he told me. 'Its your fault that I had to live in that stupid house. It's your fault that my mom couldn't live here like she deserved, instead cleaning the floors for our stupid father. It's your fault that we couldn't afford the hospital bills. Its all your fault that she's dead!' he was crying and screaming at me. And I realized that he was right. It was my fault. I had killed my own mother and then I killed Hiroki's too..."
Tadayoshi's shoulders were shaking with uncontrollable sobs then. It was probable the first time that he had ever told anyone all of this. I grabbed his face, turning him to look at me. With his face cradled in both of my hands, I used my thumbs to wipe the tears from his cheeks.
As we stared into each others eyes, I was tracing circles on his cheeks, willing him to calm down. He drew in a shaky breath, his eyes not leaving mine, and I leaned forward, pressing my lips against his.
I kept my eyes open until I saw his flutter shut. A wave of warmth washed over me as I felt him sigh against my lips and I took the opportunity to slide my tongue past his lips. It was the first time I had ever initiated a kiss and I noted how exhilarating it felt as I climbed into Tadayoshi's lap, pushing him back against the wall.
His mouth tasted salty like tears, but I didn't care as his tongue slid over mine and he took control of the kiss. I was on my knees above him, straddling his legs, as his hands somehow made their way up the back of my shirt, sliding against my bare skin. I gasped at the feel, his fingernails scraping against my heated skin.
It occurred to me then exactly where we were. I pulled away from him, panting. I could feel my skin flush from a mixture of embarrassment and excitement.
I watched Tadayoshi open his eyes slowly and sit up, his lips looking deliciously swollen and kissable. We stared at each other for a few moments, and I found myself drawn into him, crawling over and wrapping my arms around his neck.
It took him a few moments, but he wrapped his arms around my waist and whispered, "Thank you," before kissing my neck and burying his face against my shoulder.
"For what?" I asked, feeling more satisfied than I had ever felt in my life.
"I needed this," he mumbled, holding onto me tighter.
I think it was something that we both needed. Tadayoshi hadn't felt affection, physical or emotional, in years. In me, he had found someone who would love him unconditionally, no matter what. In him, I had found someone who I could be honest with.
I don't know how long we stayed in the bathroom holding each other. It was a miracle that no one had tried to come into the bathroom. When I could stay no longer, I stood up, heading to the door. "Wait a few minutes and then leave," I told him as I reached for the handle.
"Wait," he stood up and followed me to the door, leaning over and kissing me lightly on the lips. "Promise me that you won't try to push me away again."
I nodded, knowing that I would regret the promise. It was true that I needed him as much as he needed me. But, eventually, one of us would have to pay the price for the sin we were committing.
I walked past the infirmary, noticing that Subaru was still there, holding tightly onto Yokoyama's hand. I knocked, purely out of politeness, before entering the room.
"You missed our appointment," I said, standing behind Subaru and looking down at Yokoyama.
"Yeah," he nodded. "I thought this was more important."
"Yeah," I nodded too. "It is."
He turned around and smiled up at me, "I knew you would understand."
"Me? Why do you say that?"
"Well, you and Tadayoshi, right?"
My face turned bright red and I found myself sputtering, "Tadayoshi? Huh? What are you talking about?" I wondered if somehow people had figured out what had happened in the bathroom.
"Relax," he was laughing. "No one else knows. I can just tell these sort of things. I am a bit of an expert when it comes to body language. And you and Tadayoshi have some interesting body language when you're together." He wiggled his eyebrows and I felt the urge to smack him. "That's probably why your hair is such a mess right now, hmm?"
I glanced at the mirror and noticed that my hair was, in fact, a hot mess. I struggled to get it to lay flat, licking my fingers and patting down on my head.
Subaru was laughing harder now. "Relax. It's not that bad."
"Really?" and he nodded in reply.
"You might want to tuck your shirt back in though..."
I started tucking it in, "It's not funny. If you understand my situation, then you should know I can't get caught."
He smiled bitterly. "I'm happy for you. But really jealous."
He turned away from me and looked back down at Yokoyama. "What happened?" I asked, hoping that this time I could get a straight answer.
"I told Yokoyama that I'm in love with him..."
"And?" I asked. Both Murakami and I had long suspected that Yokoyama felt the same way about him.
"He left before I could say anything else. He just left. And I waited for days for him to come back and give me an answer, but he stopped coming to visit me."
I looked at him and he turned to me, tears that I hadn't seen for over a year welled up in his eyes. "I ruined everything. Why couldn't he return my feelings?"
I couldn't spill what had happened earlier. Yokoyama had said Subaru's name. He didn't want Subaru to know, and I could understand why. He was a much stronger man than I was. "I'm sorry, Subaru."
"It's not your fault. Like I said, I am really happy for you and Tadayoshi. Just promise me that you'll make it work," he smiled at me.
I nodded, not sure I could handle the pressure of what he was asking. I was positive that my relationship with Tadayoshi was doomed to fail. But for now, I was going to enjoy it.
In the bed, Yokoyama was stirring. "I should go," I said.
Subaru stood up, "Me too."
"No," I said. "Stay. You need to work this out. It's better than you remain friends than have him leave forever."
Subaru nodded and sat back down, watching as Yokoyama blinked against the light. I turned and left the room, hoping that things would work out. Not only for Subaru and Yokocho, but for Tadayoshi and me too.