Disclaimer: As of the first chapter.
Author Note: Thank you all for reading. Enjoy this one! :)
Chapter 16: CURTAIN
The moment the car disappeared through the gate, Kai turned and started for the door.
"The furniture, Albert," he said to his butler. It was the first thing he could think of. He wanted all the white shrouds off the furniture in the sitting room. He wanted the curtains back up and the windows thrown open.
Albert smiled down at the young master and replied, "I will see to it immediately, Master Kai, but you will need to get going to school."
Kai stopped and looked up at his butler. "School?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
Albert gave no answer, only smiled and went up to the servants to assign them their duties. It seemed that none of them had, much to their relief, been made redundant after all and there was much to be done.
Kai watched Albert disappear into the mansion, along with the rest of the servants, and suddenly it dawned on him what the butler meant. The discovery of the library, the part of his grandfather's history he had never known, the surprise from Voltaire's departure for the first mansion alone, and the exchange between his grandfather and himself, all lent to a momentary lapse in Kai's line of thinking. He had not thought about what he ought to do next, with regards to…school and everything pertaining to it.
His legs moved on their own accord, taking him down the steps and along the path leading to the gate at breakneck speed, and his mind became a stubborn blank. He would not think about what his actions would be, what he would say. He was only going to act, just act.
He didn't know how fast he must have run, but the next thing he knew, he was at the school gate, beads of perspiration rolling down the side of his face, tracing its lineaments to his chin. It was still early yet; it wasn't even the first break, making him feel like such a fool for rushing over. The students were not to be dismissed for a few hours yet, so he decided to occupy his time, loitering around the town until it was dismissal.
The hours practically ticked by. He could have called Tala or something, tell him to come down to the gate, and he knew the redhead was unscrupulous enough to do such a thing in the middle of class, but digging his pockets for his cell phone came up empty. So he had to wait…and when the hour finally came, he was already at the school gate for a good hour and a half.
His friends took another hour to come out. Kai had banked on seeing Ray or Spencer at least because they did not have dorm rooms, but it just so happened that all his friends were going out for ice cream, so Tala and Bryan were there as well. All of them stared at him when they saw him approach from the side of the school gate.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Tala cried the moment he could find his voice.
"Yeah, we were all going out to mope with ice cream and all!" Bryan put in. "Damn, you just spoiled the mood."
"Where's Tyson?" demanded Kai, ignoring their remarks.
There was silence and then Tala spoke, "He isn't in class today."
"He isn't in school?" Kai said, staring at them. "You mean he's at home the whole time?"
His friends did not seem to get the gravity of the situation as Bryan replied, "Well…where else could he be if he is not in school?"
"He wasn't on the roof," Spencer said. "I was there with my peas during break."
"Yeah, we didn't even see him at break either," Ray put in helpfully. "You know how he is with food. He would never miss it. I can ask Max for you if you want. He would only be changing for his Track-and-Field training right about now."
Kai did not stay to hear more. He spun on his heels and took off in the direction of the Grangers' house.
He could hear Ray's voice call out, "We're glad you're staying, Kai!" and Bryan's random cry of, "Remember to wear a condom!", but did not turn to look or respond.
Tala was strangely quiet, only watched his friend's back with a knowing curl of one side of his lips, his arms crossed over his chest, very Kai-like.
Kai skidded to a halt outside the Granger's gate and even so was still slightly breathless when he was finally through it and standing before the door. He took a deep breath before knocking. No one answered for a while and he tried again. Tyson had to be home. He had to be.
Kai's heart gave a jolt when the door finally slid open, but there was no one there. Kai frowned and was about to call out when he heard a voice saying from somewhere below him, "What do you want?"
On looking down, Kai saw the redheaded midget that was Tyson's little brother. He couldn't decide on whether to feel frustrated that it was not the direct confrontation he'd hoped for or glad that at least he had some time to word himself properly before he did meet Tyson.
"I'm here to see Tyson," he told Daichi.
"We're not interested in anything you're selling," Daichi replied.
"I'm not selling anything!" Kai cried.
However, Daichi was unperturbed. "Yeah right, that's what they always say. Now scram, we don't want to buy anything."
With that he started to close the door. Kai lashed out a hand and slammed it back open though that did not seem to affect Daichi in any way at all.
"Daichi!" he roared into the redhead's face.
"Sheesh, salesmen are so persistent nowadays," said Daichi. "What do you want?"
Kai took another deep breath (because he really needed it). He felt a vein throb in his temple.
"Daichi, I am not a salesman," he explained, trying his best to be calm.
"You might be one. You never know." Daichi was casually unwrapping a sweet as he said that and this he popped into his mouth.
"I. Need. To. See. Tyson," Kai gritted.
"Why didn't you say so before? Come on in!"
If Kai had been a chainsaw-wielding mass murderer and if Tyson was not the most important person in his life, this boy was going to be one of the first to go. He followed the boy's lead and stepped into the house, allowing himself to be lead down a familiar corridor and to a room at the end of it.
Daichi did not give Kai a moment to check himself before he threw open the door to reveal Tyson sprawled on his stomach on his bed, reading a book, the headphones of his music player in his ears. His hair was loose and the back of his yellow T-shirt had hiked up a bit to give a glimpse of the small of his back. Tyson's eyes appeared puffy and there was a box of tissues on the floor near him, along with a wastepaper basket filled with crushed tissue paper.
To Kai, Tyson looked severely…fuckable.
"Tyson!" Daichi's yell made Kai check his thoughts. "Your friend's here to see you!"
Tyson looked up and sat up immediately when he spotted Kai, causing his headphones to be yanked right out of his ears.
"K...K…K…Kai!" he could not stop himself from stammering. "Wha—"
"A walk?" Kai asked, looking at Tyson steadily.
"You're going out? Where?" Daichi demanded. "I wanna go too!"
"Tyson?" Kai called ignoring the little redhead.
Tyson seemed to snap out of his shock. "Oh, yeah. Why not? Just…just let me put myself together."
Kai would have loved to have Tyson go out in what he was wearing—a comfortable-looking, thin yellow T-shirt and his shorts—but only nodded and left to wait in the living room.
Kai could hear Daichi yelling, "Where are you going? Hey, Tyyyyy-son!"
"Daichi, just…go, okay?" And then a door was shut.
Daichi joined him in the living room as Kai made himself comfortable on the sofa. When Kai crossed his arms over his chest, a leg over the other and closed his eyes, Daichi saw that he was not going to make a conversationalist out of Kai and left with an utterance of "Sheesh. Losers".
Tyson came into the living room soon after, wearing an outfit he had thrown on in the last minute to quite an effect. He'd kept his yellow shirt, thrown a red jacket over it because it was getting a bit chilly out, and had swapped his shorts for a pair of grey jeans. He hadn't had time to do his hair, so had simply swept it back in a low ponytail and as he came into the room, jammed a cap onto his head, messing up his bangs.
Kai liked the outfit. It brought out something of the boy he knew from his childhood in Tyson. It was something familiar, something warm and it was indeed something: a collection of colours that only Tyson could pull off.
"All ready, captain!" Tyson announced cheerfully as if his condition before Kai's arrival had never happened. "Shall we go?"
Kai stood up wordlessly and they set off just as silently.
Kai had no particular place in mind as he walked beside the bluenette and Tyson was letting Kai take the lead. There were so many questions he wanted to ask Kai, like what was he doing there in the first place, but, allowing himself a sidelong glance at Kai's side profile, Kai did not look like he was out to answer questions.
Of course, Tyson could not forget everything that had gone on between them since the walk home in the rain. He had certainly not gotten over the few hours on stage with Kai, what they had done, and when the reality of Kai's leaving finally carved itself in the stone of his mind, he had not been able to hold back the sudden flood of despair which came over him. This was why he had feinted illness to get his grandfather to let him stay home. Whether his grandfather had bought the act or seen through it, he certainly had not said much, and only conceded with a particularly hard look at his grandson. And then, while he was indulging in a sappy story and even more sappy songs, Kai had appeared in his doorway, like a dream.
Life was beginning to become annoyingly like a soap opera, thought Tyson.
"You could do with a smile or two, Tyson," he heard Kai say from beside him. "Your face is how my bread looked when I left it on the table for a month."
Tyson whipped his head to look at Kai, shocked that the older guy had cracked a joke…at such a time too. That was when he found that they had stopped and that they were at the playground where they used to get into scuffles in the past. Everything seemed to go back full circle when it came to Kai, and Tyson couldn't help but smile at the thought of it.
Tyson had taken to looking all around him as if it was someplace new. It being a Monday and evening casting its mild, orange glow on everything it touched, the playground was deserted of children. The swing was still rocking though, as if someone had just jumped off it and ran home.
"Hey, Kai," Tyson began. "I thought you were—"
"I'm not going," Kai cut in, too quickly.
Tyson went silent and Kai had to take a deep breath before going on.
"I will be staying," said Kai, feeling the redundancy of his words.
Tyson only stared at him before turning his attention elsewhere. The situation was fast turning awkward and he felt the pressure to put up a façade of normalcy.
Wandering over to the merry-go-round and stretching his fists to the sky, he said, "This place sure brings back memories, huh? The fights are still going on, though. Daichi said so himself."
Pointing, Tyson added, "This girl called Hilary used to build sandcastles over there."—He chuckled.— "Wanted to build a really big one where she could reign supreme, but we boys would always jump on it, and watch her get mad at us. That girl got an arm, I've got to admit."
"Tyson," Kai called out quietly.
"I really like these swings though," Tyson went on, wandering over to the swings next, not hearing Kai. He took hold of one of the chains which held up a swing and rattled it a little. "I don't know, but I seem to recall Brooklyn as a little kid sitting here and I was talking to him. I vaguely remember that he was crying…but I don't know what it was about or what I said to him exactly. I must have been really young then. I wonder if he remembers it though. Do you—"
He spun around to look at Kai but found that Kai was directly behind him, standing close, so close it would have caused him to bolt if Kai's hand had not closed over his on the chain.
"How is it that my life seems to start and end with you, Tyson?" asked Kai, gazing down at his childhood friend. "You seep into everything, made everything…you."
Kai only shook his head and pressed his forehead to Tyson's, the way he had in front of his mansion's gate the first time Tyson met his grandfather. The image of the library came up to his mind and Kai imagined how his mother must have looked like, sitting in it surrounded by her books. The image of his mother easily dissolved into one of Tyson. Tyson in that room, surrounded by books…
Pulling away, Kai continued, "I am not…good with words, Tyson." He paused, trying to find the right words to say. "I…"
He let out a loud breath, exhaling like a deflated balloon. "I…" he tried again.
Tyson let go of the swing's chain, reached up with one hand and cupped the back of Kai's head with it. With his other hand, he slipped his cap off his head before pressing the other down towards him. Kai's widened eyes pretty much revealed his emotions at that moment.
"Hey, dude," Tyson murmured into Kai's ear. "It's okay."
Kai knew it would not be okay, but Tyson pulled him down and their lips locked. It was all he could do to close his eyes and let himself sink into the moment, the sensation. Some day he would say the things that mattered out loud to Tyson. Some day he would be ready to tell Tyson exactly how he felt in words of his own making. That day would come, but until then, Kai needed to get stronger, strong enough to face Tyson with his heart.
They pulled away and Kai took Tyson's hand before they started walking out of the playground. The streets were practically deserted, so a little indiscretion like that was fine.
"Say, you were really great at the performance last night," Tyson spoke as they ambled down the street, with no particular direction in mind. "Ever thought of joining the Drama Club permanently?"
"Tyson," Kai replied, looking down at Tyson with the 'that-was-such-a-stupid-thing-to-say' look.
"They were thinking of putting up Othello for the upcoming youth festival competition."
Kai knew the play and said, "Do I look like a wife-killer to you?"
Tyson laughed. "You have your moments…and who says you'll be playing the lead male role anyway? I can totally see you as Desdemona."
"Me in a dress? No thanks." Kai thought back to the costume he had to wear to play Romeo… He still had not gotten over the tights which had cupped him in all the wrong places and seemed to offer him no coverage even with the shirt and the doublet on. He did not want to imagine what wearing a dress would entail.
"The other option was Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Apparently it's a tragicomedy. Seems like an interesting thing and a good break from all that Shakespeare," Tyson mused.
Tragicomedy, huh? thought Kai. What had Romero said in class about that genre of drama? Try as Kai might, he couldn't remember, but there was something in it about the inescapability and futility of life, and all of its various absurdities. That was something rather worth watching; only it seemed so dark and gloomy. Right then, life looked…sunset-y…orange, peach… Kai couldn't decide which, only that evening was going to descend into night and perhaps it was better that he didn't keep Tyson out too late.
"Hey," he said, tugging Tyson lightly by the hand and thus tugging the other out of his own reveries.
"Do you think your grandfather should know about us?" Kai asked.
"That is in the books, I'm sure," replied Tyson with a casual tilt of his head.
"Do you think he would disapprove?" Kai was almost afraid to ask.
Tyson laughed again and shouldered Kai causing him to stagger slightly. "You think too much, Mr. Hiwatari. Life's like the wind. When it comes it comes. "
Kai, determined as ever not to lose to Tyson, tried to shoulder the other back, but Tyson ran a little forward and Kai had to tighten his hold on Tyson's hand to prevent the bluenette from going too far.
"Which wind would you be talking about, Granger?" he asked with a slight smirk.
Tyson tried to pull away but Kai held on. In time, Tyson chuckled. "Both," he said.
Looking back at Kai, Tyson said again, "We take things at our own pace, Kai," then with a knowing grin, added, "a scene at a time."