He hates me.
He didn't have to say anything, the look on his face told me everything.
He won't have anything to do with me. Not after today.
He's going to avoid me.
He's probably telling the others.
I'm alone, left only to think. To wish I hadn't done what I did.
Should I deny it? No, we're such close friends...No way this would be a mean "rumor," why would my friend spread a rumor like that about me? Only if it was true.
Should I forget about him? ...No, he's been my friend for so many years now, the object of my affection for almost three years, too.
I told him I loved him. I wanted to be with him, I wanted to be more than friends.
His face went pale. His jaw dropped. His face said it all. He ran away from me... Not another word. I just stood there and, eventually, collapsed upon realizing what had just happened.
...Takato hates me...
Things were fine up until a few years ago. That's when I began to like him... I tried to deny it, I tried to like someone else. No use, I couldn't fight it any more. I told him just a few moments ago...
...And he ran.
Before he ran, I told him, "I love you, Takato."
Earlier, I called him. I told him to meet me in the park. He, like always, sounded so happy to hear from me. I always took that as a sign that he liked me this way, too... That he just might...
...But he didn't... No, he turned and ran...
...I was so stupid. He wouldn't even say a word before he ran, he just ran away. Not the reaction I had hoped for. I had been so careful, no-one else knew. Not even my family. Only me, I always kept to myself...Opening up, especially on an issue like this, only comes back to bite me in the ass. Like now.
I sit on the sidewalk, my head down, resting on my hands...
...Great...Just what I needed...
"...What are you doing here, Lianjie?"
"I was coming home from work, what else would I do at this hour?" I hear him kneel down, I don't bother turning. "Jianliang, is something wrong?"
"Why does it matter to you?" I growl, regretting it. I don't want to take this out on him.
"I'm your brother, I know I'm not as good at this as Jialing, but I'll still try to help out. C'mon, I'll take you home at least. Jialing's there, she'll help out."
"Don't make me drag you." I hear him laugh.
"I'm not in the mood..."
"...Okay, you win." Lianjie stands up. "See you around..." He walks off with a wave.
...Great... I've also managed to offend my brother. Then again, it's not my fault he's like this...The whole "help out" by making a couple cracks thing. I hate it when he does that. I just want to be alone, I want lightning to strike me, I want a sinkhole to open up below me, I want something to end this pain, I want-
I hear someone sit next to me.
I turn my head.
He sits next to me with a cup of ice cream in each hand. He extends one to me. "Here. It helps me."
"...I'm not hungry." I push it away.
"Just try it. It's not like it'll hurt." He says, eating a spoonful. "There's a place up the block. I usually get a scoop at my lunch hour. I'll call this 'dinner,' since it's Jialing's night to cook."
I sigh, but try to force a weak smile. "Thanks." I take the cup and poke at its contents with the spoon...Like he said, it can't hurt.
"So, what's going on?" Lianjie asks after a while. "Here I am, walking home, when I see you like this. I'm not as stupid as you and Jialing think, Jianliang, I can tell that you've got a problem. You looked like you were about to cry, bro."
"...You don't want to know."
"Really, you don't want to know..."
I wipe my eyes with my sleeve. My voice cracks as I speak, "Lianjie..." I hate crying in front of anyone, I'm already tearing up again.
"I promise I won't breathe a word of it to our parents, Jialing and as sure as hell not even a letter of it to Xiaochun. What's the problem?"
"You'll be upset."
"Upset is when Xiaochun accidentally snapped my favorite playstation game, not whatever you have to say. ...You didn't touch Sangoku Musou, did you?"
There's a period of silence...Wonderful, first my best friend finds out, now my brother finds out... Who else?
Lianjie coughs after a moment and looks down at his cup. "...Something tells me this is going to require a lot more ice cream than I predicted..." He looks back to me, smiling ever so slightly. "So, is that it?"
"...You're not mad?"
"I'm surprised, Jianliang...Not very," Not very? "But, it's all right... What? You think I'm going to suddenly hate you?"
I'm silent. I lower my head again.
"...Something tells me I'm not the first person who found out about this..." Lianjie mutters.
I try to hold back the sudden, intense urge to cry. "...Takato..." I whisper.
I nod, setting aside the ice cream Lianjie gave me and hanging my head again. I try to hide my face in my arms.
"What happned, Jianliang?"
"...He ran... He just ran... His face went pale and he ran..." I try not to sound like I'm crying, but I know I'm not doing a good job at it.
"Look, this probably isn't the same, but I've been rejected by girls. Girls I've really liked. It can be hard, but... ...Well..." He trails off. "...All right, I don't really have any way of relating to this, but... You and Takato, you've been friends for how long?"
"Takato can't suddenly hate you like this, can he? Maybe he's just...surprised... You know?" Lianjie's grasping at straws, he has no idea what to say and it's obvious. "It just needs to sink in...Maybe it'll turn out for the better..."
I sigh. "...I doubt it..."
"This I can relate to, Jianliang, people surprise you. Sometimes they hurt you when they do it, but they can still make up for it." Lianjie sighs. "...Sorry, I guess I can't help that much."
"...It's okay." I whisper, "...I'm glad I had someone to...talk to..."
"...So, how did you know?"
"That you liked him?"
"I just do..." Its more than that, really, but... ...Talking to Lianjie about this, of all things, is awkward. "How do you know when you like someone?" I look up at Lianjie.
"All right, good point." Lianjie eats a spoonful of his ice cream with a short laugh.
"...You promise that you won't tell anyone about this?"
"Hey, I promised!" Lianjie quickly says. "Not even Jialing will force this one out of me. You know me better than that."
"For what?" Lianjie smiles. "Hey, want to head back home?" He gets up and tosses his empty ice cream cup into a nearby basket, "It's getting late."
"...I guess..." I start to get up, picking up my unfinished cup and taking it with me...
I suppose talking to Lianjie did make me feel a little better. At the very least, I have a little less to think about...
"Hey, it's Jialing's night to cook so why don't we pick up some take out and save ourselves the misery- I mean, save her the trouble. My treat."
I nod. "...Thanks."
Jialing was upset when we came home with take out...Well, more so at Lianjie for a crack about her cooking.
I'm in my room, staring at the ceiling... I don't have the urge to cry anymore, but my chest still hurts.
...I'm hoping that Takato doesn't tell anyone about this... Lianjie I can trust, but... Would Takato tell anyone...? I trust him, but that was before he just ran...I don't know anymore. A small voice in my head tells me he won't tell anyone, that he wouldn't hurt me like that intentionally but the rest of my mind is terrified of the possibility.
The phone rings in the other room. I try to ignore the ringing, even though a distraction would be nice...
Lianjie knocks at the door. "Jianliang, phone call for you."
I reach for the phone on my nightstand, "I got it in here." I say.
I lift the phone to my ear, clearing my throat. "...Hello?"
"...Jen-kun...About...earlier today... ...I..."
Original Author (AKA Ori's) Notes:
Okay, first, I owe Taiki an apology, and one to the readers, too. My notes in Mugen E I (especially the last chapter, holy crap...) were more than a little...Antagonistic to Taiki's project. I was not in the best of moods when I wrote them and honestly, I was really upset at how "random" the story was compared to my current works or even compared to the stuff I wrote before I left FFN, forgetting this was over a decade old. In fact, right after he told me he posted the stories I went into a panic and almost told him to pull the plug on the project.
I was wrong and I'm very sorry. The first review was not only someone who actually remembered Mugen E, but someone I knew from the old days. Thank you, Reiji. I'm so glad to see you're still around. And thanks for the kind words.
I still plan to give Taiki a bit of crap now and then, though, since some of the old fics he requested we spent some (translation: a lot of) time arguing over whether or not to include them (I'm saying it now, at least half of my old fics are not going to see the light of day again, I'm sorry, I just don't think they're even decent). He did make me promise to reconsider anything I turned down should there be a request from an old reader. I doubt there will be any, but then again, I was wrong about anyone remembering these stories.
Anyway, about this story...The whole thing spawned from Lianjie's line: "...Something tells me this is going to require more ice cream than I predicted." So, yeah... The fact Takato ran and the phone call at the end, well, I like that it's an open ending going either way: "I...I feel the same." or "I...I HATE YOU! I'M TELLING EVERYONE! *dial tone*" "...Terriermon, I need a hug..."
Okay, maybe the last one was a little extreme, this freakin' Takato we're talking about. Of all the main goggled-characters from Adventure to Frontier (again, I stopped watching about five episodes into that...thing...), Takato was probably the most likely one to be gay, that was my theory back then and now. And of the supporting cast in Tamers I nominate Kenta Kitagawa for one sole reason: MarineAngemon (name me one straight thing about that mon, seriously, ONE THING).
The second most likely, by the way, is Taiki. I still haven't seen a full episode of Xros Wars yet, though.
...Your move, Matsuki.
To be honest I had a feeling Ori'd have a bad reaction Mugen E I. And he lightened up a bit in his notes for II. He's really hypercritical of what he writes now so imagine how he would feel about something as old as Mugen E (written in 2000!). And I never took offense to your notes, Ori, I know "twerp" is just your pet-name for me.
And my "move?" Wait, the second most likely? Oh, oh, I get it. Nice one. Ori's the one who picked out this pen name for the project! Which is weird since it has Takato's dub surname. He never used the dub names for the human characters.
Moving on, I did not do much to this fic aside from one or two spelling and grammar mistakes. I did add one addition when Lianjie says "I'm surpised, not very but it's all right..." I added the "Not very?" breaking the quotations. Originally it was all one line. Ori approved, saying if he were Jen he'd be wondering the same thing about his brother's choice of words.
Oh yes, Ori forgot to mention that Xiong is Mandarin Chinese for "elder brother." Did you know Ori is derived from the Japanese word for "limping twit?" The more you know!