Avoiding the angel

It was one year, three months and six days since I invited Yohji to live with me. I didn't mean anything by it, his flat desperately needed renovating, and after the problem with the bath flooding Kritiker had agreed to do it. It seemed much easier than putting him up in a hotel whilst the work was done. We had lived together, sort of, in the early days of the Koneko, so we knew that we'd get on, but my apartment was small.

At first he slept on the couch, and he was a gentleman. He never went out clubbing or brought anyone home. I wouldn't give him a key. But he never did anything untoward. He helped with dinner. He helped with the chores. He seemed like an ideal house-guest, but he's Yohji. He didn't even complain about the lack of a TV.

I had expected that he would spread, he always had before, he left things where he had been and it was like a trail leading to where he was. Tidying up after him was like an archaeologist's dig, you could tell what he was doing, or thinking and when. But he kept everything tidy.

After the first month, and with no obvious encouragement from him, I said he could share my bed. I didn't mean anything by it, and he protested that he was fine on the couch, but I felt guilty. There was more than enough room for him and he was Yohji, if I trusted him to watch my back he could share my bed. It stopped the nightmares anyway.

He talked to fill the silences. I like being around people but I suppose I'm shy. The silence doesn't bother me. It obviously bothers him. He talked incessantly, on and on about nothing, about no one. He tells jokes. He makes jokes. He teases. He is his own entertainment and he hates to be bored. I hate to be bored too but I am better at amusing myself.

It was easy inviting him into my apartment for the simple reason that he would be going. How long it did take to fix an apartment, after all? Kritiker condemned the building, the flood weakened the support beams and so all of a sudden Yohji was homeless. So I never threw him out. He was a friend. He was a teammate. He was company. I gave him a key.

Before he moved in my apartment was, to quote Omi, like a church. It was silent and still, everything had its place and everything was in its place. It was small, although above average for a family of three by Tokyo standards, and it was mine. I liked its silence. It was my haven of quietude where I could sit peacefully and read, or even practise my katas away from the exercise room.

He talked incessantly. I even answered him, I suppose you could say that was just encouraging him. Although when I wanted silence he made himself scarce. I appreciated that. He didn't even say anything when he came home from shopping that day and found me balled up in the futon cupboard, too scared to move out of it, and too nervous to tell him why. He just left the shopping on the kitchen floor and crawled in beside me and held me until I was braver. He never told anyone. Normally I just go to sleep in there and when I wake up the panic's gone. He held me all the way through it. He didn't say anything.

As I said I had opened my bed to him, just for sleeping, but it's hard to lie in a bed with another warm human being when it's cold and not curl up into them. Have you ever noticed that? As the weather got colder I did that, he was warm and the apartment, a Kritiker special, was so cold. He held me when the nightmares came, and I returned the favour. I don't remember when he first kissed me, or even the first time we had sex. It never really mattered other than he wanted it and I saw no reason to deny it. Even during sex he talked and talked. I didn't hate him, I don't hate, you should understand that, I don't care enough either way. I wanted to feel guilty that I was using him, but then I realised I wasn't, I was just letting him use me. When he told me he loved me I acted suitably pleased but I didn't care. I couldn't care.

He took to holding my hand when we were in public. Part of me wanted to tell him to stop it, but I didn't care if anyone saw, I didn't care he held my hand. I think that he thought that I let him. He was even pleased when he told Ken and Omi. "We just sort of grew together." He said. I didn't even care enough to feel guilty. I know I should, but I can't.

Omi says that he thinks my problem is that I care too much. He's wrong. I don't care, no, I can't care. I don't have it in me anymore.

So now, one year, three months and six days after I invited him to live with me, I am in a department store with him looking at, of all things, duvet covers and comforters. Winter is coming around again and the apartment gets so cold even with the space heaters. He has his arm looped through mine, and some people are looking at us. He is happy and gesturing wildly, pointing out designs and fabrics he likes. "I want to see you naked on navy sheets." He tells me and I follow behind, always following behind.

He's happy. You're supposed to want that for your lover, aren't you, that they're happy, that you make them happy. I read that in a book that Omi left in the bathroom of the Koneko once. It was a pink book with a rose design on the cover, in it the girl was willing to sacrifice anything for her love. I thought that it was sentimental trash. Omi said someone had left it in the shop, and it was there, so he read it. It wasn't good enough for anything but bathroom reading. He was right.

It was a romantic story where love conquered all, and for two months it lived in the Koneko's bathroom. All four of us read it in there. Manx teased us when she saw it; Ken said it was spare toilet paper in case one of us forgot to buy some. Yohji said that it was all that it was good for. She took it with her.

He bought me a book called Love Remains about a couple that falls apart after a trauma. It was very good. I couldn't put it down. Of course I know why he bought it. I associated with it. He wanted me to see how self-destructive I am. It's not like I approach my job with the interest of suicide, it's not like I cut myself, often, but I just can't care. Whether its sunny or it rains. I don't care.

I wonder idly about wandering off, making some excuse about looking at curtains or something and just go home. I dislike shopping. I dislike crowds. I dislike him. Yet he is my lover, he loves me, and I don't care. Sometimes when I think about him I'm sick, physically. I hate what he does to my body, I hate that I enjoy it. That he takes such care that I enjoy it. That he won't hurt me. I want him to hurt me. I want him to take his wire and to wrap it around my neck until I feel something. I just want to feel something, hate, desire, hunger, anything. That's why I cut, to just feel anything, even pain.

I lean my head against his neck. "Haven't we bought enough?" I ask. He looks at the pile in front of us and decides that maybe we have. He was enjoying just being out with me, I know that. He is full to the brim of emotions that I envy with cold dispassion. I feel nothing of that, not even the bitter sting of jealousy. He picks up the heavy bags, without moving my arm where it's looped through his. "You're beautiful, you know that." I don't answer him, I never do. "How about we put these in the car and you and I go to that bookstore to see if they've got that book in for you yet."

"I just want to go home." I tell him. I still have something to read before that book so I am in no hurry.

"Certainly, love," he always calls me love. "You make me happy, you know that." I try to smile, but I'm sure it's a sad dead thing, nevertheless he grins back and kisses me, just lightly. "You have such a beautiful smile," he says, rubbing his thumb over my lips. "You should show it more often. I love to make you smile."

Later when he thinks I'm asleep he will curl into my back, and place his hand over my heart, listening to it beat. Then, when I continue to pretend to be asleep, I never lean back, and he never hints that he might know that I'm awake he will tell me, "your heart beats, you are alive, I just have to make you realise that." He will cry two tears, only two, they will fall unto the pillow, and then he will sleep. I always pretend to be asleep. He always lets me. I'm not supposed to know. We're happy, you see, happy. Except that I don't care.