My name is Shibutani Subaru, 19 years old. My best friend, Yokoyama Yuu, had been a part of my life since I was still a kid. Back then, he was the man I looked up to. A tall, strong police officer. I wanted to be like him when I grew up.
Actually, I knew even back then that I just wanted to be with him.
When I was kid, it was different. He was the only person in my life who seemed to care whether I was alive or dead. In a world where I was shuffled back and forth from foster home to foster home, he was the only person who held my hand. His smile, his dorky laugh, just being near him were the only moments of happiness in my life.
I thought I would be happy if I could spend the rest of my life playing games with him. And then I thought he betrayed me, and I ran away.
Almost three years passed from those days when he was my hero. By the time I met him again, I had changed. I was no longer the naïve child that he once knew. Things had happened in my life that I couldn't share with him or with anyone else.
I didn't trust him, or anyone else. So many things had been lost in those years since I had run away from life and from Yoko. My innocence, my view of the world and everyone in it had been stolen.
That clinic had been a godsend. I made friends like Yasuda who wanted what was best for me. I learned to get over my addictions. I learned to trust. I learned to love.
And Yoko went from being my childhood hero, to the person I loved. I wanted to be with him forever, just like when I was a child. But now I wanted all of him.
Yoko didn’t return my feelings, I knew that he would never feel the same way that I did. And maybe that was part of the reason I was avoiding him. Things had been awkward between us after I had confessed to him. It was something that I couldn’t take back, however. And I would rather have that awkwardness than lose Yoko.
But really, the main reason I was avoiding him was because he wanted to come over to my apartment. After I left the clinic, Shota and Murakami-sensei had helped me find an apartment and a job until I could figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
As much as I appreciated their efforts, the pair really only had so much money to spare on an apartment for me. And until I saved up for my own place, it would have to do.
I knew, though, that Yoko would not agree. The apartment was not in the best neighborhood and frankly, it was pretty disgusting. Roaches everywhere. If he saw it, he would probably faint.
I should have known, however, that I couldn’t avoid him forever. My job is an evening shift cashier at a konbini. The neighborhood where I worked was pretty quiet and I could usually just sit around reading manga between customers.
One night I was reading magazines, behind the counter when someone placed a basket full of beer on the counter. I set down the magazine and started ringing up the beer when I noticed who had placed the basket there.
“Yo,” Yokoyama smirked at me.
“What are you doing here?” I asked surprised.
“I got off work early and decided to stop by.”
“Oh,” I said, placing his beer in bags.
“When do you get off?” Yoko asked, opening his wallet.
I glanced over at the clock, noticing that my shift was almost over. In fact, my replacement had just walked through the door. “Soon.”
“Great. Then we can go back to your place for a very belated housewarming party.” Yoko smiled brightly.
“Uh, I’m actually really tired,” I lied. “Maybe some other time?”
“No. Look I bought you beer!” he pointed to the counter. “And,” he lifted up a black bag he was holding and lowered his voice, “I got you some porn too.”
I grabbed the bag away from him, whispering harshly. “Would you be quiet? I can’t believe you brought this.” But I put the porn in my bag anyway. It was a present after all. And I mean, who turns down free porn?
“Subaru-kun,” my co-worker smiled, putting on an apron. “You can go a little early if you want.”
I sighed, finishing the transaction with Yoko before removing my apron. As we left the konbini, I tried figuring out a way to get out of housewarming party with Yoko. As we passed a restaurant, I suggested that we go inside.
“We can get takeout on the way,” Yoko grabbed my hand. “Come on. I’ve been dying to see your apartment.”
“I didn’t clean though,” I complained.
He ignored me, taking note of the neighborhood we were walking through. “Why are we going this way? This is kind of a rough neighborhood.”
I sighed, knowing already how disapproving of my answer he would be. “I live in this neighborhood.”
I could tell that he wanted to say something, but he probably sensed my annoyance. Using his better judgment he kept quiet.
His demeanor didn’t stay silent for long as we stopped in front of a dilapidated building and I reached into my bag for my keys. “THIS is where you’re living?”
I felt slightly irked at how judgmental his tone was. “It’s not that bad.” I opened my door and held it open for him to enter.
“It stinks in here,” Yoko complained, holding his hand over his nose.
“Not as bad as you,” I grumbled, turning on the lights.
He looked around my apartment, the color draining from his face. “Subaru. You can’t stay here.”
“It’s not that bad,” I repeated, stepping forward to put my bag on the table.
A sickening crunch filled the room as Yoko stepped forward to follow me. When he looked down and saw the smashed cockroach under his foot, he grabbed my arm and pulled me from the room. “That’s it. You’re staying with me.”
The next day, Yoko took off work and we spent all day moving my things to his apartment. Part of me was ecstatic over the idea of staying with Yoko. The other half of me was dreading how hard it would be to keep my feelings for him under control while living under the same roof.
The first few weeks went smoothly. We were getting along perfectly and it was fairly easy avoiding Yoko and my feelings when he worked during the day and I worked at nights.
The sleeping arrangement also worked out nicely since there was only one bedroom. He’d use it during the night while I was at work, and when I came home, he’d be waking up and I would have a nice warm bed to crawl into. A bed that smelled like the object of my desires.
As one week stretched into the next, it was harder and harder to contain all the sexual frustration that was building up from being in such a constantly close proximity to Yoko. Lucky for me that I had that porn stash. And that Yoko was never home when I was.
A few weeks in, Yoko’s little brothers came over to stay. Of course, I had heard stories about the two youngest Yokoyama boys, but I had never met them. Besides me, they were probably Yokoyama’s only close friends.
“So you’re the famous Subaru?” one of his brothers interrogated me the first night of their arrival.
“I guess,” I replied, wondering what Yoko had told them about me.
“I’m Mitsuru. And this is Tsutomu,” He pointed at the other brother, who seemed quiet compared to Yoko and Mitsuru.
“And I’m the famous Subaru.” I replied.
During their stay, Yoko was at work during the day. Before he left, he’d order them to clean the house or make dinner. And they were so loud that I had trouble sleeping during the day.
One afternoon, after I had woken up, I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and found Tsutomu reading a manga. “Where’s Mitsuru?” I asked, trying to make conversation with him.
“He found some girls to go hang out with,” Tsutomu replied.
“Why didn’t you go with him?” I asked.
Tsutomu blushed, hiding his face behind a magazine and replying, “I don’t know.”
Mitsuru was a lot like Yoko in that they could both talk your ear off and neither one was shy. Tsutomu, on the other hand, was much quieter. Trying to carry on a conversation with him was proving impossible. “Are you gay?” I asked, hoping to get a funny reaction from him.
“Eh?” he dropped the magazine.
I froze. “Wait. Are you?”
“Shhh,” He whispered, looking around although we both knew we were alone.
I sat back in my chair, absorbing the information. “Wow.”
“Please don’t tell anyone,” he buried his face in his hands.
“You don’t have to be ashamed…” I pulled his hands away from his face.
“What would you know?” he muttered, pulling his hands away.
“A lot. I’m gay too.”
Tsutomu stared at me. “Really?”
I nodded. “Gayer than a unicorn barfing rainbows.”
He laughed. “Does Yuu know?”
I nodded, “Yeah. I would hope so considering that I confessed to him.”
His eyes widened, “Wait, Yuu’s not gay too, is he?”
I shook my head. “Nope. I got shot down.”
I shrugged, not really wanting to talk about it. “Does anyone know that you’re gay?”
Tsutomu shook his head. “Nooo. I think Mitsuru suspects that I am. But I haven’t really come out.”
“You should think about it. You’d be surprised how supportive your brother can be…”
Mitsuru and Tsutomu left at the end of the week. Tsutomu didn’t tell his brothers about his sexual orientation and I promised to keep it a secret.
I was adjusting to living with Yoko. Slowly, I was learning to control all of my feelings and desires for the older man.
One day, I was sleeping and I was woken up to voices in the living room. Cautiously I crawled out of bed and peeked out the door. I nearly shit bricks when I saw that Yoko was sitting with a rather leggy woman.
I couldn’t remember ever feeling jealous in my entire life. When bad things happened to me, I took it in stride and thought that’s the way things were. When I saw people with loving families, I shrugged it off. Oe when friends were happy in relationships, I tried to be happy for them. In order for life to be good for others, it had to be bad for some.
But seeing him laughing with that pretty woman, I felt a jealousy well up inside of me. I opened the door, stepping out. “What’s up?”
They looked up at me.
“Ah, Yokoyama-san. Who is that?” the woman looked at me distastefully.
“Uh, that’s my friend Subaru.” He stood up and came towards me, lowering his voice, “Shouldn’t you be resting? You have to get up for work in a few hours.”
I walked around him, “I feel well-rested, thanks.” I plopped down on the couch, offering the woman my hand. “Shibutani Subaru. And you are?”
She looked down at my hand and up at my face, wrinkling her nose slightly. “Ito Yuri,” she introduced herself, finally offering her hand.
“Yuu and Yuri. That’s cute,” I laughed nervously. “So are you guys dating?” I asked, cutting to the chase.
“Subaru,” Yoko growled, smacking my head and pulling me off the sofa. “Can I talk to you?”
I allowed him to pull me into the kitchen. “What’s up?”
“Don’t ‘what’s up’ me! You can see I’m kind of on a date.” Yoko whispered, his eyes darting to where Yuri was sitting on the couch, straining to listen in on our conversation.
“Sorry. But this is my apartment too. I shouldn’t have to stay in the bedroom.” I replied.
“That’s where you’re wrong. This is MY apartment. You’re a guest so do as I say.” With that he turned and left the room.
I reached over for a plastic cup sitting it on the counter and chucked it at the back of his head.
Weeks later, Yoko and I were still in the midst of our fight. Mitsuru and Tsutomu came for another visit. Mitsuru, of course, was off with his girlfriends.
And since I wasn’t talking to Yoko, Tsutomu proved to be really good company. He was funny like the other two brothers, once you got to know him. And he was much nicer than stupid Yoko.
“Did you tell them yet?” I asked Tsutomu one day when I took him out for lunch.
He shook his head. “I don’t think I am quiet ready for that.”
I nodded my head. I knew how Yoko would react. At first, he’d probably be a little weirded out. And then he would pretend that he knew all along, walking around with a stupid smile on his face. And then he would just accept it for what it was. His little brother likes boys.
I must have been scowling as I thought of Yoko, because Tsutomu leaned forward. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “Your older brother is really stupid.”
“I know. I’ve known him longer than you have. Has he ever told you about the time when he was little and mixed Mitsuru’s baby powder with water? Mom was so mad and when she asked him why he did it, he said he was trying to grow another baby brother.”
“What did he do now? I noticed you guys were fighting…”
“He’s dating some lady…” I trailed off, realizing what a stupid reason that was for fighting. Yoko wasn’t my boyfriend. He was free to date anyone he wanted.”
“Okay…” he trailed off, waiting for me to explain further.
“That’s it. I guess I’m being silly. I just don’t like to see him dating.” I said.
Tsutomu nodded. “Being gay is hard, huh?”
I shook my head at him. “I think it’s the being in love part that’s hard.”
I apologized to Yoko that night, and by the time Mitsuru and Tsutomu left, we were on speaking terms again.
Tsutomu and I exchanged phone numbers. I often talked to him about Yoko or gave him advice. Or he would tell me stories about stupid things Yoko has done and we would laugh for hours.
Yuri came around more, and it was clear that her relationship with Yoko wasn’t going to end soon. I knew I would have to start looking for my own place soon. If he invited her over to spend the night, I think I would kill myself.
And although I was talking to Yoko again, I felt uncontrollably nervous around him. He knew I was jealous of Yuri. Anyone with eyes would be able to tell that.
And she didn’t care for me much either. I overheard her telling Yoko one night that I was strange and dirty. Well, she’s uptight and bitchy.
Whenever I was around either Yoko or Yuri, I didn’t know what to say or do. Around Yuri, I felt as though she was always judging me. And with Yoko, I feared that I might say something I would regret. I already made a big enough fool of myself around him.
So I felt isolated in my room by myself. The only thing I looked forward to was Tsutomu’s visits. Luckily, his visits were much more frequent once we became friends. Most of the time, he came alone. To see me. Not Yoko.
One night, Yoko, Tsutomu and I were out at a restaurant enjoying a good meal and some drinks. It was the first night in ages that Yoko spent time with me in what felt like years. And there was no Yuri around to ruin it. I was enjoying spending the night with Yoko, listening to his loud, humorous stories.
The night took a turn, however, when Yoko went up to use the bathroom.
“Subaru,” a slightly drunk Tsutomu turned towards me.
“Hmm?” I answered, stealing some yakitori off of Yoko’s plate.
“I like you,” he said quietly.
“I like you too, Tsutomu.” I patted him on the head.
“No,” he shook his head. “I mean, I really like you.”
I froze, looking up at him.
I didn’t have time to answer as Yoko returned to his spot, his fly wide open. “What’re you guys talking about?”
“Nothing,” Tsutomu replied, his face going in red.
I had trouble enjoying the rest of the night, worrying over Tsutomu’s confession. I had told Tsutomu that being in love was hard, and that fact proved itself true once again.
As I struggled to work out my own feelings, I realized that I didn’t even know what my own heart wanted anymore.
A/N: This story and Ryo's Story were written to help catch readers up on what's happened to the side characters in the time that has passed between the first story and the sequel. Now that this is out of the way, I will be posting Chapter 1 of the sequel soon.