I learnt more about Shindo Hikaru and Touya Akira's love lives while standing outside their door that I had ever wanted or needed to.
I arrived, bright and early, just a few minutes shy or our assigned interview time, and smartly rang the doorbell. I shift my folder from my right arm to my left as I listen in vain for any noise in the apartment beyond. Just as I reach once more for the ringer, I hear someone murmuring.
Another, slightly deeper voice groans in response.
"I said, Hikaru, can you get the door?"
A muttered comment.
A sigh. "Hikaru, I can't get the door, you're on my hair."
"What was that?" the voice that I have identified as Touya's asks acidly.
"I said:" the second voice yells, finally in hearing range, "That's because you have too much!"
A solid thump ensues, followed by a curse.
"Goddamnit, I'm going!" Hikaru screams.
"Aah! Hikaru, don't open the door yet!"
"What?! You just asked me to!"
"You're not wearing any pants, baka!"
"I left them by the bed, hand me them!"
"Those are mine!"
"You're not wearing my pants!"
"I've worn them before, just hand them over!!"
At this stage, I am unsure whether to breakdown laughing, or feel embarrassed that the two don't realise just how un-soundproof their apartment is.
Hikaru curses again, as the mentioned item of clothing is, knowing Akira's temper, thrown at his head. There's a distinct zipper noise, then the door shudders open. Hikaru throws me a disinterested glance, then turns around to scream at his rival.
"Oi! Akira! It's that reporter, get your ass out here!"
Hikaru turns around to face me, a lot taller than he used to be, but essentially just a more mature version of the boy I knew in junior high, then double takes. "Tsutsui!!!"
His entire face lights up, and he grabs me by the arm, and yanks me into their gargantuan apartment.
My glasses slide down my nose as I take it all in. They've been doing well for themselves. The apartment is large enough for four normal sized ones, with one large room down the bottom, which is the kitchen, the dining room, the living room and just pain living space, with huge windows that lead onto a veranda with a view out over suburbia. I guess that the bedroom is up the ladder to the little loft area by the windows, which is surrounded by black metal railings. A door presumably leading to the bathroom is under the loft, and the floor itself is stepped, with many tiny level differences.
"My god! I haven't seen you since… You're working for Weekly Go! That's so cool!"
Hikaru abruptly stops blathering, then curses yet again. "I'll… go put on a shirt…"
The peroxide blonde turns around, scuttles across the floor away from me, and then hurtles up the ladder like a monkey. He disappears from view for a second, then comes back to the railing clasping a t-shirt in one hand. "Um… make yourself comfortable!"
Hikaru steps away from the railing, and abruptly starts walking down. I can only assume that there are stairs leading into the bathroom. That, or he's learnt how to defy the laws of physics. Could be either, really, after the sheer amount of time, or lack thereof, for the bright boy to become something as prestigious as a Pro. It can take some people decades, but Shindo managed it in less than five years.
"Hey Touya! Tsutsui's interviewing us!"
"What? Hikaru, get out!"
"Oh please, not like I haven't seen you getting changed before,"
"We have a guest out there! Please tell me you didn't just leave him standing…" There is stark silence for a few seconds, then Akira makes a frustrated noise. The door on the bottom floor clatters open, and a flustered looking Touya bursts into view, his thin fingers working his black hair back into a ponytail.
If anyone surprises me with how they turn out, it's Akira. For one thing, he's stopped looking like his mother dresses him, daring to wear a pair of jeans with a white dress shirt, and he's grown out his hair, but left his fringe at the same length. His shoulders are broader, and he's grown about a head, and, surprisingly looks like the eighteen year old that he actually is, instead of an overgrown girl.
"Kimihiro-san, I apologise for our lack of organization," he says, striding towards me, "Hikaru and I were… late to bed last night."
I nod, trying to look like the professional that I desperately don't feel like. It must be some form of hazing, to give the new guy two people as impossible as these Touya Akira and Shindo Hikaru. Separate might be fine, but trying to interview the two of them, is turning out to be like trying to catch wind in a net. So far, I haven't even succeeded in getting the two in the same room. I smile, and try to make it look genuine. "That's alright, my boss doesn't need me back until twelve."
Akira nods, then motions for me to sit down, before taking a place opposite me on a sleek leather couch. "So, how long have you been working for Weekly Go?"
"I've been working behind the scenes for a few months now. This is my first independent assignment."
Akira nods seriously, looking rather embarrassed. His turns his head, and, switching personalities, yells "HIKARU! What's taking so long!?"
The poor abused bathroom door burst open again, and Shindo storms out, a toothbrush hanging from the corner of his mouth. "I'm here!"
Taking that as my cue, I place the tape recorder on top of their coffee table cum-goban, and collect my notes and list of questions from inside my official-looking folder.
"Okay, to start it all off…" I trail off to stare at the toothbrush that Hikaru is chewing in the corner of his mouth. "How did this all start?"
One hour, and two cups of green tea later, I stumble out of their apartment, as yet another petty argument ensues. This one is about the last question I asked. 'Is there anything you'd like to say about your partner?'
Hikaru had grinned widely, and squeezed Akira's shoulders. "He's mine."
Akira had raised an eyebrow, and retaliated with "I only took him because no one else wanted him."
I left, apologising, as the two ignored me, and made my way slowly back to the bus station.
I typed up what I had discovered, still suffering from shell-shock, and left in the early evening to get some cheap-but-cheerful soba at a nearby stand. Walking for three blocks, a subway and two trains and yet more walking finds me at my apartment building. I reshoulder my backpack, which looks a little strange with my somewhat cheap business suit, which is still, somehow, the most expensive article of clothing that I have ever bought. I troop inside; check my mailbox dutifully, before sighing wearily and trooping past the levator and into the fire escape. I really don't trust that lift. It squeaks, groans, shudders, stops between floors, and is all and all a waste of the space used to make it. Everyone with any sense, from the geriatrics on level four to the pregnant mother on the sixth floor take the stairs. I'm very thankful that I live on the third floor.
Trooping upstairs, I fish my key out of my pocket, and lament over my living so far away from the main office.
I work for Go Weekly, this is good, this has been my life-long dream, and I love the work. But the hours are murder. I barely get home before nine, and then I collapse in bed and sleep until five, at which point I wake up, totter into the shower, shove some food into my mouth and stumble out into the world in time to get the seven o'clock train. I swear, sometime soon, I'm going to keel over from scurvy. I don't know when the last time I had a nutritious meal was.
I stuff the key into the lock, and open my door, kicking my shoes off, and dumping my bag by the door.
I look up, not smiling. "You again."
"Gee, so nice to feel loved. Next time, remind me to just jump you."
I raise an eyebrow at my guest, and peel off my jacket. "Next time, remind me to get my lock changed."
Not like that would stop him. The only reason why Kaga has a copy of my apartment key, is because otherwise he'd just pick the lock, or come through the fire escape. The only way to stop scaring my neighbours, and allow my strange friend to visit whenever he chooses, was to just give him the damn key.
I walk over to the sink, and fill up a cup with water from a pitcher in my fridge, drain that. "So, is there a specific purpose for your being here?"
One of Kaga's strong arms winds around my waist, and the other brushes my hair off the side of my neck so he can nibble at it, before trailing around to fiddle with the button of my trousers. Kaga replies, in a husky voice, "Oh, I think you know why I'm here,"
"You're using me again?"
"I've been using you since high school. You haven't seemed to mind so far,"
He goes back to bothering my neck as his hand finally undoes the button of my pants, and reaches for the zipper.
I envy Hikaru and Akira. They have a stable relationship. I don't know what I have. I have Kaga part-time, shared about amongst about three other girlfriends at last count.
Kaga presses me back against the sheets of my bed, surrounded by the heady smell of musk and cigarettes that makes up the scent of Kaga. His spiky hair brushes my chin as he showers attention upon my neck again, which seems to be his favourite place to torture. I wrap my legs around his waist and rock my hips upwards into his, making us both gasp. I vow to get rid of my pants.
Hikaru and Akira live together. I live alone in my apartment, and Kaga lives alone in his. Sometimes though, it seems that he's living more at my place. Hence the key. Hikaru and Akira are open about their relationship. I don't even think I have a relationship, and my parents and friends just think I'm sad, and haven't found the right girl.
Kaga does the honours, pulling my light grey trousers down and off my hips as I lift them off the sheets, and then down my legs to discard them off the side of the bed. My boxers follow suit, as a demonic smirk spreads across my friend's face. I guess I'll be getting to bed later than I had expected tonight.