...Pass The Soy Sauce.

I've been pacing around my room for the last hour. I think I started doing it shortly after I came back from seeing Takato at the park. I didn't even realize I was pacing at first, not until the thirty or thirty-first time I turned away from my bed to my computer.

...I have a feeling Lianjie knows, he's been acting strangely since last weekend. I think he overheard me say "-chan" on the phone... I made sure no-one was around, like always, but he walked into the room at the last second. If he didn't know who I was talking to, the look on my face probably gave him a clue.

It's summer break. I'm Jianliang Li, age sixteen, celebrating the second year anniversary of my relationship with Takato Matsuda tomorrow.

...If I live that long.

It's been tearing me apart, not being able to tell them about Takato and I, almost as much as the fear of them knowing it. I know the stories of people being thrown out of their homes over this, it's a double edged sword. I'm happy but I can be very unhappy, very easily.

Still, there's always the "we accept it" scenario, but that's a rare one. I've been debating this possibility for a while, my family has never said anything anti-gay in the past... ...But, I can't think of anything pro-gay they've said, either. It's never been an issue.

...Then again, Lianjie is a huge fan of the Shin Sangoku Musou games, and plays as Zhang He of Wei constantly. Zhang He has always been, for lack of a better phrase, "the first openly gay man in the military." Not historically, but in that game... "So, was the enemy camp pretty?" comes to mind whenever someone says "Jie Ting." That entire cutscene is, I hate to say it like this but...Really, really gay.

So, Lianjie is a possible sign that there won't be a problem...

...Right. Zhang He is a video game character, I'm real and related to these people. There's a world of difference. Don't be so stupid, Jianliang.

"Jianliang!" Jialing knocks on the door, "Dinner's ready!"

"C-Coming!" I try to sound casual, but I shout a little too loudly for comfort.

I sigh, I should just make this quick.

I open my door and step into the living room. Lianjie is parked in front of the TV, playing Shin Sangoku Musou 2. Xiaochun is next to him, trying to pry him from the playstation.

Lianjie finally pauses the game and gets up.

Lianjie has been a gamer for as long as I can remember, which is why he's studying to be a programmer in college. He claims that he could program a game like Sangoku Musou, if he had someone who could do graphics.

Xiaochun is in elementary school, she's in Ms. Shinobu's class. I was in her class when I was Xiaochun's age.

Jialing is in the dining room, setting food at the table. Tonight we're having sushi, ramen and rice, judging by the look of the take out bags set aside.

Jialing is the oldest, out of the four of us. She's in college to become a doctor. She and Lianjie both go to Hong Kong Univsersity, so they haven't been at home unless it's summer or winter vacation.

I'm in high school, I graduate in two years.

My father and mother are sitting down at the table, they're talking about the food. Jialing sits with them.

"I'm not going back there." Jialing said, "Every time I go, this jerk takes my order and overcharges me. He can't use the cash register, either."

"I'm getting tired of Takeyoshi's Take Out, anyway." My father says, "The food is too bland."

I wait for Xiaochun and Lianjie to come in and sit down, I sit furthest from my parents. It's a little unusual for me, but no-one seems to notice.

My heart is starting to pound even harder, my mouth is starting to go dry. They have a right to know this, especially when I've been leaving the house so often to 'see a friend.' It's obvious it's someone more than that. Or it would be, if it wasn't Takato. It also wouldn't be such a problem.

Everyone else has begun eating, I just stare at my food and occaisionally pick at it.

In about five minutes, all I've eaten is a grain of rice that was stuck on one of my chopsticks. I glance at my sushi... I might as well enjoy it. It might just be my last meal.

Jialing has the soy sauce, she's at the other end of the table. Maybe I should just say it now...

...No. Their reactions... ...Everyone is quietly eating, which is normal for our family at dinner, unless there's a guest over. Then there's some conversation.

...Screw it.

I sigh, holding out my hand to Jialing, I look away, I'm afraid of what their facial expressions alone will tell me. "...I'm gay. Pass the soy sauce."

There's a sudden noise of chopsticks being dropped and hitting a plate or bowl, as well as the sound of Lianjie shouting and scrambling to catch a piece of salmon nigiri he dropped into his lap.

Then silence.

...Great. I've managed to turn a quiet meal into an awkward-

"That's nice." ...What? Did my father really just say that? ...'That's nice?'

Jialing hands me the soy sauce. I look back at everyone, I'm sure I look like a deer in a truck's headlights.

Everyone continues eating normally. Like nothing happened.

I stare at the bottle off soy sauce in my hand a moment or two...Then pour it on my plate.

...That went well, I guess.

"...Just wondering," Lianjie begins with a grin spreading across his face that I don't think he can control, "would a naked girl still turn you on?"

I just let out a light sigh, I have no idea how to respond to that at all. Jialing answers for me by hitting Lianjie in the forehead with her chopsticks.

"Ow!" Lianjie shouts. "What? I was just-"

"Lianjie!" Jialing and Xiaochun say in unison.

I remain silent. I pick at my food again.

"Takeyoshi's Take Out isn't that good, is it?" Jialing says.

I...I can't speak. I just can't...

"Jianliang?"

I finally look up at her. "...Yes?" I whisper.

"You don't like Takeyoshi's that much, do you?" Jialing points at my food...I really have no appetite right now.

I'm silent again, letting out a small sigh.

My parents exchange brief glances. I didn't get a good enough look to tell if they were looks of disappointment, anger, worry...I don't know. Probably the first one. It's always the first one, unless it's the second one.

"We'll talk after dinner." My father finally says. "Eat your food, son."

...At least they aren't yelling. Then again, my father's tone was neutral. Neutral is never good.

I finally manage to eat my food, quietly. I occasionally look around the table, to try to gauge some reaction from my family. It's weird...They're all acting normal...

When dessert is served, I'm the only one not eating again. I really don't have an appetite, not even for ice cream...

"Jianliang?" Xiaochun speaks up, looking at me. "Why won't you eat your ice cream?"

I shake my head, passing the bowl to Xiaochun. "Not hungry...Enjoy."

To my surprise, she pushes the bowl back to me. "Jianliang, red bean's your favorite!" She has to be trying to make me feel better. I'm sort of touched...Usually, she wouldn't hesitate to take my bowl.

I give Xiaochun a weak smile. "No, it's okay. Please, take it." I push the bowl back to her. She nods and gives a word of thanks before eating it.

"If you're done eating, then," that voice...My dad. "We can talk in your room."

I swallow. "R-Right..." I get up, my parents follow me into my room. I'm starting to panic...Is it still too late to say I was joking? I said it to get their attention! Yeah, no-one heard me the first time I asked for the soy sauce, so I thought it'd be a funny way to get Jialing's attention!

...If only...

I sit on my bed, my mother sits on the chair at my computer while my father stands next to her. There's an awkward silence between the three of us. I finally speak, "Um...I was...I was joking earlier..." It's worth a shot.

"Jianliang, it's okay," my father says, softly. "We're not mad about that." A weight is lifted off my shoulders and chest as soon as he says this.

"R-Really?"

"You're our son," my mother says, soothingly. "We aren't mad about this, we're happy as long as you're happy. We just want to talk to you about a few things. That's all."

I nod, my heart is still pounding but not nearly as hard as before.

"I guess the first question should be if you're seeing anyone," my father says. I give a quick nod. "Who?"

It takes me a moment to answer because I'm so used to trying to hide it. "...Takato," I finally say. "We've been together for two years. T-Tomorrow's the two year mark." I don't want to say 'anniversary,' even though that's what Takato likes calling it.

"I told you there was something there," my mother says with a grin, looking to my father. He just nods, with a smile.

"Y-You knew?" I ask. Was it that obvious there was something between us? I thought we played 'just friends' so well...

"We had some suspicions," my father says. "You were seeing Takato a lot, more often than you did when you two were kids. We knew you would tell us when you were ready."

"How did you two fall in love?" My mother asks. "Did you confess to him or did he confess to you?" She sounds very interested in the latter part of her questions...

...Oh crap! I should have thought of an answer in case they asked that...The truth is, well, really embarrassing... Especially for Takato.

Two years ago, Kenta managed to talk me into going to a hot springs resort with him, Hirokazu and Takato. That was where the issue came up because, um...Because Takato "came up," if you know what I mean. At the springs. Hirokazu and Kenta still won't let him forget the incident...

"Um...We-As in Hirokazu, Kenta and I...We found out Takato was gay, sort of by accident. After he calmed down," in both senses. Takato ducked out of the hot spring immediately after Hirokazu 'noticed things.' We went after him, he ended up crying in our room at the resort for almost half an hour. I waited in the hall with Hirokazu and Kenta until he stopped...Hirokazu, to my surprise, really didn't care (Kenta had known about me for more than a week before the incident, he caught me buying a shounen-ai dating sim). In fact, these days, he and Kenta are our biggest supporters. "I told him I liked him. A lot. I figured that the worst that would happen is he'd turn me down..."

"And what did he say?" My father asks. I'm amazed they both want to hear all this. He doesn't sound disappointed or disgusted at all. I mean, not even a cringe or eye roll...I had no idea this was possible!

"He said he'd had a crush on me for a long time. W-we had our...first kiss...right after that." I feel the blood rushing to my cheeks as I say 'first kiss.' I check my parents' faces for a reaction, they're...just listening. I let out a sigh of relief, saying, "H-He really...He means a lot to me."

My mother smiles warmly. "Good. But no matter how much he means to you, no dates past eight on school nights."

"Right," I nod.

"And...One other thing," My father looks to my mother. "Do you want to cover this?" Huh?

"This is something all fathers should tell their sons," my mother quickly says. What are they talking about?

"This is a slightly different situation..." My father scratches the back of his head, awkwardly.

"What is it?" I ask.

"...Have you two..." My father glances away. "...been 'together?'"

"...'Together?'" I ask.

My father clears his throat.

...Oh...

...Shit...

I panic. "N-N-NO! O-Of course not! We...don't...NO!" My face turns bright red, I can't help it...Please accept "no," PLEASE accept "no!" Don't ask questions, anything but THIS!

My parents exchange looks, then turn to me and nod.

I let out a mental sigh of relief, a real one would...be a dead give away.

"We just want to you to know, Jianliang, there are a lot of diseases out there, and I'm not implying anything about Takato, but..." My father begins.

...I have a feeling this is going to be a long and disturbing discussion...


It's been a week since I came out. My family fully supports me, I still can't believe I was so worried about their reactions...

I'm still recovering from the...Talk...My father and mother gave me about, um..."Stuff." Most of it was just warnings about what's out there (STDs and "common misconceptions," mostly), but... I can't believe I once thought the straight version of "the talk" was awkward. That was a whole new level of uncomfortable...

Still, my family accepts it. Jialing was the next to have a long talk with me, she wanted all the details on my dates with Takato and...I swear, she must be a shounen-ai fanatic. Just the tone of her voice when she described a photo of Takato and I together as "SO adorable" tells me she's got some manga I might like to read sometime...

Lianjie...I'm impressed. I thought he would be grossed out, but he's okay with it. Then again, I found out he actually knew. Not from the time I said "Takato-chan" on the phone, but...This is embarrassing since I thought I did a good job at keeping my homosexuality a secret...

...Apparently, he saw the shounen-ai dating sim game saves on our Playstation memory card. I swear, I never thought he'd recognize the titles let alone look them up online!

When Jialing and Xiaochun said the saves weren't their games, he put two and two together. He'd known since last Christmas but didn't tell anyone. On the plus side, I no longer have to wait until no-one's home to play my games or hide them in my room anymore. I caught Jialing playing one of them the other day, she "just wanted to see what they're like."

Takato was so happy when he found out my family supports us. Though Jialing grilling him for information on our relationship was incredibly embarrassing for him, more than it was for me. He's still getting used to being open around my family, too. He nearly stopped breathing the first time I gave him a kiss on the cheek in front of everyone.

Takato's parents still have no idea what's going on between us, and I would never force him to tell them. He'll let them know when he's ready...I just hope they're as accepting as my family.

"Jianliang? Are you ready?"

I look down to Xiaochun. I'm standing in the hallway of her school, outside of her classroom. She begged me to come with her today. I agreed as long as I could get a note from her teacher that explains why I missed two classes and lunch period at my school. I've been waiting for about ten minutes now. "Ready. What is it you need me for?"

"Just follow me." Xiaochun says, smiling. She takes my hand and walks me into the classroom, down the row of desks to the front of the room. I see Ms. Shinobu sitting at her desk.

"Jenrya?" Ms. Shinobu is definitely surprised to see me. I'm surprised she remembers me, it's been so long since I was her student.

"Shinobu-sensei," I bow my head. "Xiaochun wanted me to come in today. If you don't mind, I would like a note for my teachers from you, please. Tell them I was helping Xiaochun with her school project."

Ms. Shinobu nods. "But...Jenrya, this is show and tell." She says as she reaches for a notepad.

...Show and tell?

"Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and girls! Shinobu-sensei!" Xiaochun announces, standing next to me and throwing her arms in the air. "I present to you, Jianliang Li..."

She wouldn't! She just wouldn't...!

"...My gay brother!"

...She would...

There's a stunned silence, a few kids in the back whisper "gross."

"He's dating a boy named Takato Matsuda, he's really nice and gives me pocky or Meiji chocolate bars sometimes when he comes over! Jianliang told our family he was gay last week at dinner. He was really worried we'd be mad, but we weren't. Jianliang is still my favorite brother in the world!" Xiaochun says. "Questions?"

To my surprise a few kids raise their hands.

I glance over to Ms. Shinobu...

...The look on her face is absolutely priceless...

~Owari~

Original Author's (AKA Ori's) Notes:
Don't remember this one? That's because...Well...It's new. Sort of, I had this laying around half-finished for years and, well...

...Taiki was really upset about the whole Mugen E fiasco, I mean more than he sounded in his notes. I admit, Mugen E was an embarrassment for me to see put up again but if the third had gone up I think it would have been worth it. The third was actually sort of good, and funny at parts. However, because of the new fic guidelines thing, Taiki couldn't put it up and he told me he would have avoided the first two if he had realized the problem. I was surprised he took down the first two, though, I really didn't expect that!

Anyway, Taiki thought I was really pissed about Mugen E I and II being put up for no reason. I'm actually not mad about it and I still feel bad about how much of an asshole I was to him in my notes for both of them. Anyway, I found this old fic and, because Taiki's a HUGE Leekato fan, I finished it up and I decided to send it over to cheer him up.

Like, send it right now after typing this. These, like all the others, are the notes he reads with my "approved copy" of an old fic, I don't add anything past this point before it goes on FFN.

So, Taiki, letting you and all of FFN know, we're still cool. All right? Enjoy your re-upload project, I'll keep watching from the sidelines and maybe give you some more material ('maybe' being the key word). And, obviously, you have my permission to put this one up with the others. Why else would I include notes?

...Yeah, I wrote a fic for the first time in seven years. And it's all Taiki Matsuki's fault, blame him.

And Taiki, I swear by the Tao, if you make a big deal out of this... ... ...

Anyway, this is a prequel to Christmas Dinner. I made sure everything fit in the story's continuity (Lianjie's question, "the talk," the hot springs incident, etc.). The ending (show and tell) was mentioned by Lee in Christmas Dinner and I thought it would be the best way to end it. And I have no idea why I had an obsession with doing Jianliang POV fics...I think I just really liked the Li family back then. I'm surprised at how easy it was to write after all these years, too. ...And it was fun to write a fic again, I guess. Brought me back to the good 'ol days.

Hope you all liked it!


Taiki's notes:

I honestly don't know what to say about this. I mean, Ori really had stopped writing fics and now he finished one. For me! I'm speechless!

I really should keep this brief since I actually have an idea of what he might do if I make a big deal out of this. I'm still sorry about Mugen E but I'm so happy that Ori isn't really upset about it.

Thank you so much, Ori!

-Taiki Matsuki