With the delicate curtains drawn against the auburn-tangerine light of the afternoon, the small apartment was a comfortable retreat from the subtle late winter sun, which hinted of the early approach of spring, despite being engulfed in the telling vibes of silence. Kuroda had hesitated uncharacteristically before he openly began to confide in his aunt, all the while sitting rather rigidly on the soft fabric-clad sofa, opposite his aunt who was regarding him unassumingly, with a gentle smile. “That’s the gist of what I did, I guess.” His tone reflected both resignation and regret.
Tezugawa-san peered at Kuroda, shaking her head in disapproval and tsking lightly, “I never realized you would become as you are right now after your father’s death. Frankly, Masaya-kun, I’m disappointed in you.” She glanced sadly at the closed door of Ryu’s room, knowing for sure that there was no one inside. Following her gaze, Kuroda shakily rested his eyes on that same solid door, half-heartedly willing for Ryu to appear out of somewhere. Kuroda resisted the urge to bury his head in his hands like he had been doing so often lately, as he continued his endless struggle with guilt.
“What am I going to do?” He asked, reaching randomly for his white mug of warm bitter coffee and taking a gulp, paying no heed to the burning sensation. Sipping her own porcelain cup of English tea, Tezugawa-san felt like admonishing her nephew as though he was still a young mischievous kid who just muddied the originally-spotless floor after playing outdoors, or snuck cookies from her big glass jar. Yet, this was a problem beyond what she expected.
“Obviously, he isn’t ready to talk to me.” Said Kuroda, his voice cracking slightly.
Ryu frowned as he studied the mundanely blank inner wall of the disused old warehouse. He experimentally smeared a streak of dark purple across the wall. The other walls were similar canvas for a gallery of artistic graffiti, riots of color and vulgar scribbles. He wanted to paint this wall, as if splattering the indigo sky with runaway stars.
He needed the distraction.
It was past seven in the smoky evening, before Ryu returned to the apartment. He was unsure about his next move. Would he choose to leave, and most importantly, was Kuroda still there? There was a soft rustle, as he reached for his keys in his pants’ pocket. Stepping back into the apartment, and inhaling the silky scent of roses, he peered uncertainly around. There was silence. A happy neon pink post-it note soon caught his attention – ‘Keiin dear, I’ve gone out for dinner. I’ll be back by 10pm. Love, Miwako Tezugawa’
He heaved a sigh of relief, kicking his boots off, as he strode into the calming shadows of his room and shut the door. His mind was preoccupied by the events of this afternoon. He stripped off his shirt, chucking it aside, after toeing off his socks vaguely clumsily.
It did not snow very much in Tokyo this year. How odd. Subconsciously, he calculated – it has been nearly three months since he first met Kuroda and spent almost some part of each day with him. It had not been a particularly long relationship, but being affection-starved for ages caused him to be unreasonably attached and flattered when Kuroda expressed interest in him, a mere person of the vast faceless crowds that inhabit this psychedelic city of quirky vending machines and fashion metamorphosis.
He had chosen to move to the suburbs, the fringe of said city because of his own reluctance to completely abandon this familiar comfort of anonymity, and the lifestyle he had worked so hard to craft and protect for himself.
Kuroda destroyed everything. Even now, he did not know how long could he stand to continue living here, with Tezugawa-san, now that Kuroda has discovered his whereabouts. He supposed he could pack up and leave immediately. After all, what is he expecting? That Kuroda had indeed come to pick him, to grovel and to make amends? It was just a convenient casual visit, especially since he was fool and unlucky enough to be living with that man’s aunt.
“Someone up there really does hate me.” He laughed hollowly, emerging from his evening shower, clad solely in a cream-colored towel hanging dangerously low around his hips. The apartment phone rang abruptly, a penetrating sound through his thoughts as he shrugged and went to pick it up, “Hello. Who’s this?”
“Keiin? Oh my god, Gen-kun, it’s him! Keiin-kun!” Nuriko’s tearful voice stunned him as he stared mindlessly at the ground, feeling a strong tug of emotion. He heard some grappling noises, as Yamada’s excited tone came through next, “Keiin-kun? You buster, why the hell did you disappear? You drove us all nuts, damn it! It’s been almost three weeks since you went missing, and we’ve been looking all over for you! W - We almost thought you went, well, back.” Ryu knew what Yamada meant by ‘back’, as he spared a moment’s thought for the family he renounced before drifting back to the comforting voices of his best friends. He could not help it as a solitary tear escaped, his heart longing badly to return to where he had so haphazardly fled away. “I …”
“We’ve missed you awfully. Tell us where you are, and we’ll come get you, Keiin!” Nuriko said urgently before Yamada reassured muffedly, “Yeah, this time, we’ll trash things out properly with Kuroda. He can’t hurt you anymore, Keiin.” At that name, Ryu blinked and gradually refocused, “I saw him again today.”
“… well, we know. He called to tell us this number. He said you apparently answered an ad his aunt posted in the papers and moved out to there, on pure coincidence.” Nuriko said lowly. “You’ve been keeping in contact with him?” Ryu said edgily, his temper almost flaring at the idea, “After knowing what he’s done to me, I presume?”
“Keiin. Keiin, don’t get mad. We really wanted to kill him when he confessed after we confronted him. But you were gone, and he was probably the only one who could help us locate you again! We are friends, Keiin, and how can we let you just disappear just like that? Moreover, he – he really did seem genuine in wanting to find you. I – We think, maybe … maybe he does love you, in the end.” Nuriko explained nervously in a rush.
“What? You have got to be kidding me. If he really does l – love me, he wouldn’t have done something to me! He probably wanted to just throw me aside like yesterday’s papers after fucking me … “ Ryu stopped mid-way, his fists clenched, as he clutched the phone in a death grip. After a minute’s silence, Nuriko finally spoke quietly, “Whatever it is, I still believe he didn’t realize it, or was denying it before he hurt you. I am not sure what were his original intentions in approaching you, but. I think things might have changed since then.
Ryu trembled, as his blood ran cold and he felt himself surrendering to disbelieving rage. His tone was icy as he growled, “He bloody lied to me. I was nothing but someone he wanted to seduce, for fun, for entertainment, for a one-night stand. Don’t you dare talk about him ever truly wanting or loving me. I never want to see him again. If you guys are going to be on that bastard’s side, so be it. We’re equally through as well. Don’t bother contacting me anymore!” He slammed down the phone, his conscience prickling, the pain screaming infinitely in the
white of his mind.
He stormed back into his room, hating his self-pity, as he lost and dissolved in a heart-wrenching deluge of hot, angry tears. He seemed to be once again tossed back into a sphere of loneliness, from which he can no longer escape from.