I have angered Soubi.

Go, he had said to me, and I dared not look at him for the intensity of the abhorrence in his eyes, but I had nowhere to go. I was nothing without him.

I wondered aimlessly down the afternoon street, my feet dragging on the sunlit pavement as though made of lead.

"Just as I thought, Soubi is really quite OCD about some of his things." A smooth, guile voice, the most hideous voice in the world, sounded behind me.

I whirled around and saw that man, Seimei, standing with his arms crossed in front of his chest, smiling that sweet, dangerous smile.

"Wouldn't it be good if you could just tell Soubi about the little prank I pulled on you?" he said mockingly as he ambled toward me with measured, taunting steps. "If you could, you wouldn't be here now. It is quite unfortunate that you can't talk, really."

I turned and walked briskly away from him, but he caught my arm effortlessly.

"Oh, but you have nowhere to go, do you?" he chimed with smug satisfaction as he locked me in his arms, and whispered softly next to my ear, "I promise I will be gentle this time."

I struggled against him, just as I struggled then, both times hopelessly. I clutched and pushed at him, trying to scream out Soubi's name, but there was no sound except the rough tug of fabric and his low, mocking chuckle.

"Ah, it seems you haven't realized yet," he whispered with a cruel, expectant gaze. "but Soubi has abandoned you."

I went still as my mind went blank, and in the next instant tears flooded my eyes, and Seimei's face blurred into the surrounding trees and the worn out gray of the asphalt.



I could barely hear past the slow, agonizing beat of my heart; I could barely hear Seimei whispering triumphantly that I have no one but him now. Two thick drops of tears rolled down my cheeks, clearing away the blurred scenery, and I saw him standing behind Seimei with a dangerous, predatory gleam in his eyes.

"Don't ever touch what is mine again, Seimei." Soubi hissed, his voice low and seething with rage. I felt Seimei's hands tremble as they released me.

He took me back, but the cold, aloof expression on his face did not soften. I took a long shower when we went back to our home, and in the steam-blurred mirror I saw the dark purple bruises that contrasted so vibrantly with my skin. It was summer, but I picked a set of long sleeve pajamas so he would not see the marks left on my body by another man.

Dinner was ready when I emerged from the bathroom. It was a tray of assorted sushi, with three extra orders of tamago for me, because he knew I liked tamago. I gave him a big, grateful smile just as I always did. He seemed startled by it. The hard disinterest in his eyes wavered for just a moment, and in that instant I saw the familiar tenderness in his beautiful golden eyes, but then he seemed to remember the wrong I committed against him, and as he glanced away from me, his eyes became hard again.

Everything appeared just as they had been before. He got up each morning before me and went to class, leaving a tray of lukewarm congee and braised tofu for me to eat when I wake up. He came home each afternoon and made dinner for us both, but everything had changed between us. He never spoke to me after that day, and only rarely would he look at me, and even then, his glances were brief and seemingly filled with insuppressible distain.

He wouldn't touch me now, so I was back to sleeping in the little room he gave me. I used to think it was painful when he touched me, but now I knew that it was infinitely more painful for him not to. I tried to look happy for him during the day, hoping that in the next moment he would finally forgive me, but when night fell my resolve shattered, and I buried my face in the thick, fluffy blanket so that he would not hear the sound of me weeping.

Sometimes he sat on the couch after dinner, reading a newspaper or some book, and I contended myself to sitting on the polished wooden floor with my back against the edge of the sofa, watching him not looking at me, hoping that he would finally call for me. Other times he simply went out, leaving me behind in the silent, empty apartment, and I would fall asleep in the doorway waiting for him to return.

It was as though we had gone back to when I first came, when I didn't know his name and he didn't speak to me. But I knew his name and he had spoken to me, which makes this agony all the more exquisite, all the more unbearable.

He was so close to me, so close that if I just reached out I could touch him, yet he was so far away, so far away that I dared not reach out.