They Called Upon A Midnight Buzzed
Call V: Jianliang II
We all heard it, coming from the room Ruki keeps the refreshments in…Just this loud, horrible scream! Hirokazu, Kenta and I went silent when we heard it, exchanged a quick worried look and…Ran!
"Dude, sounded like Juri," Hirokazu says. "I-I mean, shit, I hope she didn't have…a D-Reaper flashback or something, I mean, what else could make her scream like that?"
I nod. "Ye-Yeah, that's…Gods, I hope she's okay…"
We all burst into the refreshment room and see…something we were and weren't expecting at all.
Juri's nowhere to be seen and...Gods…
Kenta's the first to speak, "Wh-What the hell just happened? T-Takato, are you…Are you all right? Wh-Who screamed like that?"
I hurry to the floor next to Ruki, putting a hand on Takato's shoulder. He's crying, he's crying worse than I've ever seen him cry before. The fact Ruki is holding him, trying to comfort him alone is a sign of…how serious this is…
"Ta-Takato-kun? A-Are you…Are you all right?" I look up to Ruki. "What happened?" I whisper, Takato just lets out a quiet sob.
"…Help him, I need to go kill Juri," Ruki whispers. She gently passes Takato to me, he's in my arms now, sobbing. Gods, what…What could have happened? Kill Juri? …Takato…Please don't cry like this…
Ruki gets up and runs off outside, I just sit with Takato crying in my arms…I don't know if he's really all 'there,' actually, he's crying so hard and…I-I've never seen him like this before, even back when he was 'crybaby Takato' when we were kids.
Hirokazu and Kenta kneel next to me, Hirokazu has a hand on Takato's shoulder while I hear Kenta let out a worried sigh. "…Dude, Takato…Ca-Calm down…Okay?"
He…He can't…He just keeps crying, I hold him a little tighter, saying, "It's okay. Please, don't cry, Takato." …I know that he won't stop but…
…What could have happened?
Normally, I…I don't get this 'physical' with Takato but…Gods, he…He's never been like this before. Please, Takato-kun, feel better.
Ruki and Ryou come back after a few minutes, Takato manages to calm down a little. As they come in, I hear Ryou apologizing, saying, "I can't believe I lost her like that."
Ruki just replied, "Yeah, yeah, you fell on your drunk ass, I know."
"I swear to the Gods, I haven't had nearly that much! What the hell's going on tonight?"
Once they were back, Hirokazu asked what happened. I look up at the two of them as Ruki says, "Juri pulled some serious shit on Takato."
"Whaddya mean 'serious shit—'"
"As in shit that is serious, Shiota," Ruki replies. "Just…trust us, okay? Juri…did something I wanna strangle her for. Just…Help Takato right now. He'll…tell you if he wants to but…Just trust me, okay?"
Takato finally manages to get the word 'thanks' out to Ruki, though he's still crying on my shoulder. I rub his back.
"I'm with you, Takato, don't be upset," Ruki says. …What does…that mean?
"How about we get Takato into the other room? Just get him on a couch or something?" Kenta says. "I-I mean…"
I nod. "Takato…Can you move? It's okay if you can't, I'll stay here," I say. Takato just nods, I help him stand. It takes no more than two steps before I have to catch him, he almost falls flat onto the ground. "TA-TAKATO!"
"I-I'm…I'm sorry…" Takato whispers…His voice is slurred and…Do I smell…?
"He…He looks really wasted," Ryou says.
"Actually, um, I wanted to ask…Did someone spike the punch?" Kenta says, looking to Ryou, who would be the prime suspect if someone did.
"Yeah, I mean, I've been feelin' kinda buzzed," Hirokazu says. "Didn't wanna complain, though—Oh, shit, did…he have…?"
Takato just lets out another sob, then the words "I'm sorry" again.
"N-No, Takato…Don't apologize, you…didn't know, did you?" I ask. Takato just shakes his head. No wonder he's been so quiet, Takato can't handle alcohol…Well, he can but not mentally. It's like a shot of truth serum for him, the more booze the more embarrassing and personal the stuff he lets slip. It never fails, Takato completely avoids alcohol these days ever since he found out what it does to him, he hates getting drunk.
…Takato, did you say something that…? What could you say to Juri that would make her act like that?
"Damn it…" Ruki groans. "I-I had a feeling there was something up with that crap…Akiyama, fess up!"
"It wasn't me, I swear! I've been adding my own, I wouldn't if I knew it was spiked…Hell, whoever did it didn't want anyone to know," Ryou says, going to the punch bowl. He takes a sip from a fresh cup, saying, "I-I can't taste any of it! Must be schnapps…"
Ruki tries a cup, too, adding, "Yeah, someone did this for a reason or…" She looks to Hirokazu and Kenta, both shake their heads. "Okay, just so everyone's clear on the price of lying…"
"Wasn't us, Ruki, I swear to the Gods, it wasn't us!" Hirokazu shouts, shaking his head. "I-I mean, crap, if I did spike it, I'd warn Takato! I…I know how much he hates getting drunk and…I'm not that big of an ass, am I?"
"Not usually," Ruki replies, she downs her cup, saying, "Hate to say it, but we gotta cut this short. I wanna go kill Juri…You guys think you can get him home?"
"…I don't know if Takato's parents would like seeing him like that," Kenta says. "I mean, not knowing the punch was spiked is one thing but…"
"My family is out of town, I'll take him to my place to sober up," I say.
"Je-Jen…No…I…I…I-I'll be…You don't have to…" Takato stammers, sobbing every few words.
"It's no problem, Takato, just…Just come to my place, okay? I want you there," I say, sort of soothingly. Takato can give himself the worst guilt trips when drunk, too…Let him borrow ten yen, he'll owe you his life, pretty much. He's…He's not good with alcohol at all.
"Takato, go with Jen," Ruki says. "Trust me, it's all right…We're pissed at whoever did this to you. And Juri…Especially Juri…"
Hirokazu speaks up, again asking, "Ruki, what happened—"
"I told you: Shit of a serious nature has occurred. That's all I'm gonna tell you. Trust. Me."
"…All right," Hirokazu nods, looking to Takato. Given the circumstances, it's obvious Takato let something slip that pissed off Juri and he wouldn't want us to know…
…And since Ruki usually loves it when Takato lets out something embarrassing, this, obviously, was something serious. "Akiyama and me'll look for Juri, Jen'll take Takato home…You two can stick around in case she comes back, okay?"
Kenta nods. "Right, we'll call you if she comes back."
"And eat up the food, I'm not gonna save it," Ruki shrugs. "…Hell of party…Fuck!" She growls, crushing an empty punch cup in her hands and throwing it in the bowl.
I've actually never seen Ruki this angry before…She's obviously pissed but there's a level a "calm" to her right now that, well, makes it scarier, I think. Ruki's focused on…Well, like she said: Killing Juri. JURI! What the hell happened here?
"Ruki…" Ryou trails off.
"Yeah, yeah, just…Let's go find her, that will make me feel so much better…" She walks out back, Ryou first helps me with Takato to the front door and down to the end of the street, to make sure he can walk all right. He's okay, just wobbly and…still a wreck.
We make it to the bus stop, the bus that comes by in a few minutes stops by my apartment. Takato is sitting next to me on the bench, crying. Thankfully, it's just the two of us. "…I'm sorry, Jen-kun, I—"
"Takato, don't," I put an arm around him again. "I-I know you don't want to talk right now, I know what alcohol does to you," I need to spell this out for him, I know he's going to be on a guilt trip otherwise (well, worse of a guilt trip). "You're my best friend, always and…Whatever Juri did, I'm sorry. Just try to feel better, you don't need to thank me and you never have to apologize…Okay? …Just, please, feel better, Takato-kun…Please."
Takato nods, "Thank you…Jen-kun…" He whispers, but soon breaks down again. A cold breeze blows, I give Takato another hug. "Je-Jen?"
"Just…wanna keep you warm," I say with a smile. It's…sort of that, Takato only has a light coat. But, also…
…I like Takato. A lot. And…yes, in that sense. It's why I want to take care of him right now, I know this is the last way he'd ever want his parents to see him, even though they'd probably be more worried than mad at him. He's told them, he avoids alcohol at parties because of "how stupid" it makes him and…Takato's just that trustworthy, they'd know he didn't get this drunk on purpose but…
…I know Takato when he's like this, it's not pretty.
But, Takato has…always been my best friend, ever since we met I've…been really close to him. I-It was about a year ago I realized why.
…I was scared. I-I mean, just realizing I was that close to Takato was scary to me, just the idea that I was…Well, I'm bi…I-I know that much, I do like girls. No-one, especially Takato or my family, ever has to know about this. It's the last thing I'd ever want people to know about or talk about. Ruki makes enough gay jokes about Hirokazu and Kenta, I don't want to be included in that…Ryou, too, gets the "Ruki treatment" with his orientation (even though he's straight, he "loves his fanboys," especially a certain pair of Tamers: One with glasses, one with a visor). She doesn't mean it as a bad thing, just…She likes to have her fun. Kenta and Hirokazu have more or less come to accept the fact that Ruki will make fun of how close they are.
…But, with Takato and I? …I just never had a friend like him before, so…Feelings or not, though I'm sure they're playing a large part in this, I want Takato to feel better. I want him at my place to sober up and calm down where he's alone, no-one has to see him or ask questions.
The bus pulls up to our stop, I pull out my wallet and pay for the fare. I have to stop Takato from doing the same, just saying, "It's okay, call it a Christmas present." He…apologized again and started to sob, quietly. There aren't too many people on the bus, they're keeping to themselves, save for one or two odd stares at first. It's just obvious that I'm taking an upset friend home…Takato isn't making a scene or anything, he's just crying quietly…
…Even with the audience, I keep an arm around him at all times, rubbing his shoulder or back to help calm him down. He thanks me now and then, even though I keep telling him he doesn't have to.
It's…weird. How strongly I feel for him, I mean. I've liked girls but, until I met Takato, I haven't 'liked' anyone nearly as much as I do him. Even before I realized how much that was, I knew there was…something very special about him. Something that made me always want to be near him…
…And to see him like this because of…I-I just can't believe Juri could do something to make him this upset? Wh-What could have possibly happened? She…Gods, I know I'll never have a chance with Takato because…I-I know how much he likes her…
Takato…I'm so sorry…
Did…he confess? And she turned him down? But…Like that? I mean…I always thought she liked him, too, so why would she turn him down so violently? No, no…That can't be what happened. Takato didn't confess, if he did…We'd be celebrating their new relationship with spiked punch. This had…This had to be something else…
…If that did happen though…How would I feel? I mean, I've just come to accept the fact that my 'like' of Takato is completely one-sided…Takato loves Juri, we all know that, we're amazed they're not officially together yet. So, the idea that Takato would ever feel the same for me is…Insane!
…We're close as friends but…I'm the only one between us who wants to be that close. I know I'd be jealous of Juri for a while but…It can't be helped, I'm the odd one out. I-I'll find someone else someday, I know.
I glance over to Takato, he's not crying anymore. He's just staring at the floor in silence.
"…It's okay," I whisper. "Whatever it is…It's okay." I give Takato another hug. "You're welcome at my place for as long as you need, don't worry."
"…Yo-You're…the best…Jen-kun…" Takato whispers. "I-I don't…deserve—"
"Don't, don't," I shouldn't have said anything. I just give him another hug, whispering, "Just calm down, don't start apologizing…I know you well enough to guess what you want to say, don't worry…I know you want to avoid…anymore 'slip ups,' right?"
Takato lets out a quiet sigh, nodding.
"Then just feel better, okay? …Please, Takato, I don't like seeing you this way. Just relax, okay?"
Takato nods, I give him a hug and he, slowly, hugs back…
…I'm really not this physical with him but…I-I think he needs the hug right now, sort of. Just with all that's happened…I am careful, though, I'd hate myself if I was using this as some excuse to hold Takato or something, I wouldn't feel right…Takato needs me for emotional support, not as some secret admirer who wants an excuse to…
…Be closer with him than usual.
I'm about to break the hug when Takato holds me a little tighter as I start to pull away…I hug back again as he lets out a sob. "…She hates me…" He whispers.
"Do you…want to tell me what happened?" I ask. Takato quickly shakes his head into my shoulder, it almost feels like he's panicked all of a sudden. "It's okay…You don't have to. But, Takato, Juri…How could she hate you of all people? Don't worry, we…we'll figure things out. It'll be better, okay?"
"…I hope so…" Takato lets out a sob. The bus pulls up to our stop about a minute later.
I lead Takato off the bus and into my building, up to the apartment. I unlock it and help Takato to the couch. He's sobered up a little, but not much.
"Just rest here, okay? …I'm sorry, Takato, I-I really am…Whatever happened, I'm still your friend…Forever." …And I mean it.
Takato just…starts sobbing again.
"I-I'll get you something to drink, just wait here," I say, going to the kitchen. Just as I start to make tea, my cell rings. It's the ringtone I use for Hirokazu and Kenta, Otoko Shibuki. The ID says it's Hirokazu. I answer, "Hirokazu? Any news?"
"Did Juri call you?" Hirokazu asks, he sounds a little upset. …Why would Juri call me?
"Look, Jen...Juri's doing something really, really evil right now. If she calls you, don't answer it, don't let her tell you why she's pissed at Takato. Just... ...Look, tell Takato that we're so sorry. She's telling everyone and we're pissed at her for it. Not him. We're behind Takato, no matter what. Especially Kenta." …What? Telling…everyone what?
I mean, it's obvious Takato let something personal slip that pissed her off but…What? Juri…We know she loves Takato, or at least sees him as one of her best friends! What could he have possibly said…to…
"...Okay...But why can't I know what she's telling everyone?" …Is it…possible?
No! I'm not going to get my hopes up...No, it's not that. It can't be that!
"Kenta thinks Takato should, um, have control over one person finding out. Tell him you still don't know and that...he should tell you. Not Juri or anyone else. We're so freakin' sorry. But, we're with him. He's still our friend, no matter what. Okay?" …Oh, Gods…
…Juri, are you…telling everyone that…Takato's…?
…It has to be something else, but…What? I-I mean, Takato…He's…He loves Juri, we all know it! We've all been waiting for the day one of them finally confesses! It's obvious she likes him and…
…Takato's never, um, made any sort of 'move,' actually...And I know Hirokazu's encouraged him a few times, he just laughs it off if he's with others and Kenta tells Hirokazu not to embarrass him. But that can't be why…
"I-I understand. I'll tell him. Thanks, Hirokazu-kun." …This can't be happening…I must be more drunk than I realize, I-I had my share of that spiked punch, too, to even think any of this. I-I'm not getting my hopes up, I-I know this isn't what it looks like!
"How's he doing?"
I look into the other room, Takato's still on the couch, he lets out the occasional sob. "He's been quiet ever since...I think he's trying to avoid any more, um 'verbal slip ups.' He's just nodding or shaking his head and sometimes crying. ...I told him he's staying here as long as he needs to and that I want him to feel better. I-I've never seen him like this." My voice cracks a little, I-I don't care if Hirokazu knows I might cry, though. I really hate seeing this happen to Takato. "I'm really worried, especially for the fact Juri is the one making him like this." Just the fact it's Juri doing this to him…
…Juri, if you're…If you really are outting Takato…Of all the people you could ever do this to…Why? What could Takato have ever done to deserve this? From you?
…Damn it, this is all so wrong…
"...Make sure knows everyone's still with him. Thanks for keeping an eye on him, Jen. Merry Christmas, dude, sorry for all this crap."
"Merry Christmas, I'll make sure Takato feels better. See you later." I hang up, looking back to Takato.
…Can it…really be true? Takato…? A-Are you…?
…Are you gay?
Takato just got done telling me the story of what happened. It was right after his Mom called me, that was the moment I knew for sure that Juri was doing the unthinkable to Takato. She was…She was taking rejection in the worst possible way.
I never knew she had anything like this in her, to actually call Takato's mother…I couldn't believe she, of all people, could do that. I-I couldn't see Hirokazu, if he disapproved, even thinking something like that. Or anyone else.
Thank the Gods everyone is behind him…I'm sorry this is how we all found out but, at least, Juri's the only one who's taking it…
…To say she's taking it badly would be an understatement. She confessed to him and, because he couldn't like her back this is how…After everything Takato has ever done for her?
…Juri, what the hell's wrong with you?
…So…When Takato told me he gave her a name…
…I-I…can't believe I did what I did but, the way he was suddenly so afraid and couldn't think of any other name…I-I knew he was fighting the last of the truth serum, I knew it was trying to make him say something that, if he let it slip, would…
…I-I can't believe I did this…
I "knew it," I said…I-I was so happy, the idea that…
…I could be with Takato…
I kissed him…I-I never knew I could do anything like that but I couldn't hold back.
I break our kiss, Takato stares at me in disbelief, I can only smile. "…J-Jen?"
"I-I love you, too, Takato," I say, feeling my cheeks warm up. He just stares at me in shock but…
…He's smiling, I don't know if he realizes it but…He has the faintest of smiles right now.
I wrap my arms around him, holding him closer and I give him one more kiss on the cheek. "…Take your time, Takato. Feel better." I feel Takato wrap his arms around me, too…
…We sit for a wile, just holding each other. Takato stops crying entirely, he just rests his head on my shoulder.
After a little while, Takato finally speaks, "You…really…feel the same, Jen?" He whispers. "I-I never thought this…This would ever happen…"
I nod. "…I'm bi, Takato. And…I love you. I-I've known it for a long time. When you told me you gave her a name, I-I had a feeling it…was mine." I admit, if it wasn't then…This would be really awkward but…
…I just…I-I don't know how to put it, the way he was acting.
I can't believe he's gay…Takato, I-I really never suspected you because of…
I nod. "Ye-Yeah, I-I didn't tell you because I was…afraid you'd disapprove, I didn't want to ruin our friendship. …I'm sorry Juri is doing this to you, Takato, but…E-Everyone supports you." That makes me feel better since…They're going to find out about me sooner or later, especially after this. But if it means I'm with Takato, I don't mind. If they know about and support him, they can know about me, too. Just as long as this is really happening.
I'm with Takato. On Christmas Eve. The night everyone wants to be with someone they love. I got the Christmas wish I never made. The Christmas wish I never made because I never thought it could come true.
"…I know, but…Now everyone knows and…I-I just wanted to tell everyone on my own terms. But…I didn't know if I could ever do it, as much as...I sometimes wanted to…"
"How…do you think it would have gone?" I ask. "I-I…I was going to keep this a secret forever, Takato, you're…If you wanted to come out, that's so much more than I would have ever done." I wanted to just…find a girl I liked and try to get over Takato. I'd die with this secret, no-one ever had to know.
If Takato came out on his own terms first, that's the only way I would have said anything. Takato, you're the brave one between us…You always have been, even though it looks like the opposite from the outside. I don't think of myself as a coward in any sense but…
…Takato's just that sort of person, like how...Juri...She would sometimes call him a 'Knight,' because of Dukemon. She made that comparison a lot, actually. We all thought it was more than fitting for Takato, even though he'd just laugh it off as more of a joke. He was the first to evolve with his partner, to fight Beelzebumon alone…He didn't back down, I still sometimes wonder if I could have done the same at that time, if it were me instead of Takato who had to fight him. It wasn't until we faced Zhuqiaomon that…I knew I could do something like that. But Takato? …He wanted to avenge Leomon…Juri's partner. He wouldn't back down...For her sake.
"More than you, Jen-kun? But…I-I always saw you as the brave one," Takato says. "You're…You're you, I mean."
"Takato, I was afraid of what you knowing would have done to our friendship, I-I couldn't risk that. The idea that…every time we hugged, you'd know it meant more to me or that you could be afraid I was in love with you and…be right…I-I didn't…I…I admit, I always thought…" …That you liked Juri instead. I don't want to say that, though, even though it's what we all thought.
Especially Juri. That explains why this is happening, though it doesn't give her any right or excuses. Juri must have had her heart set on being with Takato for Christmas.
"…That I liked…Juri…" Takato whispers.
"I'm sorry, I—"
"N-No, you're right, Jen. She thought the same thing, she thought I was in love with her, too, and…I swear, I never meant to make her think I…I was leading her on or anything like that! Sh-She'd been through so much, I felt I had to…be there for her for everything and…And…" He's starting to cry, I hold him tighter.
"Takato…I-I know you'd never do that to her on purpose, she just…She lost it because of the punch and…I'm sorry, Takato, I'm so sorry…"
"She hates me, Jen…" Takato sighs. "I-I know it, she hates me."
"…Takato, could you…forgive her…?" He…He's really upset over how Juri feels about this. Well...
...I admit, depending on how you look at it, this is unfair. Juri wanted what ended up happening to me. I mean, I don't think I stole Takato from her or anything like that but...We all know how she felt about Takato, so finding out he couldn't like her back? And that he liked me instead? I can see why Takato actually feels bad over this, even though Juri's reaction made it so he shouldn't. If this were any of the others, I know they wouldn't even bother thinking about so much as speaking to Juri after something like this.
But this is Takato, Takato's different from most people. He cares so much about every one of us. He's being himself, something that I love about him.
Takato…You really are amazing.
"Ye-Yeah," Takato nods. "If…If my parents were upset at me or…if I lost my friends, things would be different but…Jen, I know she's going to hate herself for this. I know Juri, she's going to hate herself…I-I have to forgive her."
"You don't have to, Takato." Even though I know you will.
"I shouldn't have let her go, Jen…If she didn't go, then…D-Reaper…"
"…I know," I whisper. "If…If you want to forgive her, I'll do the same," I say. "You're…You're the best, Takato."
"….Thank you, Jen…chan," Takato holds me just a little tighter as he says that. I do the same, a smile spreading across my face as I realize he just called me something I never thought he would in a million years: Jen-chan.
"Merry Christmas, Takato-chan."
I just got home from the bakery.
Takato's parents accept us. But, more importantly, they accept Takato. Even knowing they did, he was still a little bit of a mess just going there to face them. I don't really blame him but…
…I-I felt like I could tell my Dad because of him. Because Takato was out, I felt I could (and should) be out, too, even if he didn't have a choice in it. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, even though I was…
…I was shaking and stammered a lot when I left my message on his voice mail. It wasn't nearly as coherent as what I told the others but the message was clear: Dad, I like men. I love my best friend. And that best friend loves me back. Merry Christmas.
I had my phone off after Dad called, I didn't want it to go off with my brother or sisters calling while I was with Takato and his parents. I turn it on when I get back into the apartment to see if I missed any calls or texts…
…As the display loads, I see a message: Six missed text messages…Wow.
I check them each from oldest to newest:
Congratulations again, son. I told everyone for you and told them to text you instead of call until we knew you were back from the bakery. Merry Christmas, I'm glad Takato felt the same.
I-I was…amazed by how he…Accepted it! I-I mean…
…I know my family isn't homophobic and, unlike Takato, I have a lot of distance and time between them and me right now to prepare in case things didn't go well. If he acted like…Juri…
…Gods, that's scary to think about. Even now. I-I actually didn't consider that possibility when I called him, not until I hang up. Everyone else did after they found out I made the call and…I didn't want to show it in front of Takato but I was worried I made a horrible mistake at first but…
…I just had a feeling things wouldn't end badly. At least, not with my Dad. I don't know why but something told me "It'll be okay." But, if it wasn't…
…I-I'd probably pack a bag and stay over with Takato the day they came home and would hope for the best. Thank the Gods I don't have to do that.
When I got the call from my Dad…
"Hey, Dad! Merry Christmas!" I had to be confident, both for myself and for Takato. I was not going to show fear, I just told myself the same thing as when I called him: It'll be okay. …The fact Takato's parents were so quick to accept him made that easy. I guess, like what I wanted to do for Takato, the fact he showed me parents can accept this made it so I could do it. I-I even told him that after I hang up, I-I guess we both needed to prove that to each other.
Plus the first thing he said gave me…some deniability, I guess. Confidence added to that, I think, if he did disapprove.
"Jianliang…Was that a joke? I-I mean…" …He didn't sound angry, which made me feel more at ease with how this would go. I didn't go with the deniability of a bad Christmas joke.
"No, it wasn't a joke. I-I'm with Takato now."
"Okay. Could you…tell me how this happened? Please, Jianliang?" He was calm, which made me calm.
"It happened last night. Something happened at Ruki's party and Takato was outted to everyone. I-I took him back to the apartment, someone spiked the punch and he was sort of really out of it and upset. Then, well, I-I found out he liked me and we kissed." Again, I just stayed calm and confident…I was with Takato, that's what was most important to me, not if Dad would suddenly start screaming at me or be disappointed. I was with the person I loved…And I had the Sea of Japan and a large section of China between me and my Father at the time. That helped, too.
"All right. But I want you to know this now: Girls are allowed at the apartment now, but NO BOYS while we're gone! Are we clear?"
"O-Okay, I-I'll do th—"
"Re-Relax, Jianliang, I'm joking. Congratulations." …That last word, was…the biggest relief of my life!
…Though, I did realize: I broke the "no girls" rule with Juri and Ruki last night but I think my parents will let it slide, given the circumstances. And the fact that, well, they no longer have the same concern they would have had with, say, Lianjie and girls in the apartment while they were gone.
Granted, if I had said "I'm bi" in the message that would probably lead to no-one is allowed at the apartment…
"Th-Thanks, I-I mean it. Thank you."
"I'm a little surprised but as long as you're happy I'm not going to be upset. Do you want me to tell anyone else for you?"
"Y-Yeah, you can tell everyone. Tell me how they take it."
"You said Takato was outted at Ruki's party, though? What happened there?"
"Th-The party? It's a really long story. Actually, the reason I told you today was, well, for Takato. His parents found out, too, and I didn't want him to be alone in that regard." My parents know I sometimes drink with the others, mostly thanks to Ryou and how infamous he is among us and our families for his 'problems' after D-Reaper. They didn't mind the drinking as much as the 'aspirin,' my Mother had a long talk with me about Ryou and I had to swear the only substance I ever have and ever will ingest while I was around him was alcohol…Nothing else. She trusted me enough to believe me. And I never did…
…Takato? …Not intentionally. His parents never found out, it's the one thing Takato will never tell them about: The day he got (beyond) stoned on a pair of Ryou's 'aspirin.' It was also the day we found out he took 'aspirin,' actually. He kept some oxycontin inside of an eighty-one milligram aspirin bottle, Ruki gave a couple to Takato because he had a bad headache after she found the bottle, it had fallen out of Ryou's pocket when he got up.
We weren't so much mad at Ryou as much as…Worried about him. Especially Ruki, but you couldn't really tell at the time. Ryou insisted it was just 'a little now and then,' but...We realized, discussing it after we left his apartment, he was probably stoned at the time. It was more of an afterthought, though, since we were worried about Takato...
...Thankfully, two pills wasn't even close to an overdose. Takato was just weird while it was in his system, he didn't even realize he was stoned until Ruki told him! I'm just glad we could hide him from his parents for the twelve hours they were in effect…Gods, Ryou… Takato cannot handle stuff like that, but at least it's not like a twelve hour long truth serum. More, um, 'insanity pill.'
…Ruki got him off them. Somehow. We don't know how but he's been off them for a long time. We're relieved, to say the least.
"You're doing this to support him? I'm proud of that, Jianliang…That takes a lot of courage. You're a good friend—No, boyfriend to Takato." I-I could not believe…I-I heard my own Father say the word 'boyfriend' in reference to Takato! I-I couldn't believe how he took it! I guess you could call it a Christmas miracle.
"...W-Wow, thanks." I didn't really know what to say.
"What are you doing now? Is Takato doing okay?"
"...We're having breakfast at the Bakery. H-His parents, thank the Gods, had no problem with it."
"Good. I take it he's still a nervous wreck, though?"
"Of course he is." My Dad knows Takato very well.
"I'll let you go, then. Congratulations, Jianliang. Merry Christmas."
"...Th-Thanks. Merry Christmas!"
…And that was it. I'm out. I told my Father I was with Takato. I told him I'm…bi, actually, but…Gay, bi, what I label myself is less of a concern than the fact I'm with Takato.
Actually, I just realized, I never said I was bi at any point in either call. So, um, Lianjie's probably going to accuse me of 'faking' my interest whenever he got me to check out a girl with him. I-I wasn't but I doubt he'll believe me.
I check the next text message…Mom.
merry xmas glad ur spending it with some1 u luv! :) Congrats Jn2.
Jn2…Mom's shorthand for "Jianliang," another word for two is liang (usually, it's er, with is also shorthand for "Jian-er," er being sort of a child-exclusive version of "-chan" in Chinese). Mom's cell only has a number pad, so she always writes text messages in shorthand.
Bu-But, the message itself…M-My Mother wrote that? I-I really can't believe it…I sort of wonder how Dad told everyone, actually. Everyone at once, like some sort of big announcement or did he tell them one at a time? I-I'd go with the first one since, um, coming out is sort of a big deal but…At the same time, Dad might want to gauge everyone's reaction separately, just in case someone did make a scene…
…He'd have told me if someone didn't approve, though. I-I'm sure of it. So, so far…So good.
Still, I can't believe this is my mother's reaction to the news…I was expecting, um, more surprise and disbelief.
Jialing is next...
OMG! You and Takato would look so cute together! Hey, you have permission to go to my room to get some of my manga if you want. Or already haven't! LOL
This…is something I expected, actually. I'm not worried about her reaction or Xiaochun's…Lianjie, however…
I know how Lianjie feels about our sister's manga so…Me? I-I'm not sure how he'd take to the idea of having a gay brother. But I know he cares about all three of his younger siblings. He's, um, sometimes the overprotective type of brother, you know? If it came down to it and one of us really needed our big brother then and there, Lianjie would drop everything to be there…That's just who he is sometimes. That gives me hope he won't be too disgusted, that if he disapproved he'd at least try to tolerate me…I know how much he hates Jialing's manga when she leaves it lying around, especially when the page is turned to a full page kiss between two guys…
…Though, the fact he had the courage (or insanity) to once buy a (HARDCORE) bara manga and put the cover sleeve of one of her favorites on it also tells me: Lianjie has balls. Bara is… …Not pleasant. And I'm the one here attracted to males!
…The neighbors two floors up could hear her scream… It's a hardcore yaoi genre centered around hairy, musclebound men. Not the bishounen-type Jialing loves reading about. And, nine times out of ten, it's very graphic. Like, um, I-I don't know if guys are really that 'flexible' in real life.
Xiaochun's message is the next one…
Congrats! Takato's the best. Sorry he had a bad night, kiss him to make him feel better! Pleeeaaase?
Ha ha ha…That's my little sister. I-I knew she'd accept this. If I somehow didn't get ahold of Dad or his voicemail, I would have called her to have her tell everyone. I know she'd tell everyone at once…Probably while I was still on the phone, "MOM! DAD! GRANDPA! BIG BROTHER AND BIG SISTER! EVERYONE! JIANLIANG'S IN LOVE WITH TAKATO!" …Really, it's…too easy to hear her screaming that. It really is.
…Now Lianjie…Here goes…
Congrats little bro!
I'm…not sure if this…means anything or not. Lianjie's not much for words but…Maybe he's just trying to be polite. I'll probably end up talking to him after I respond to these texts…
Still, there's one more...I wonder who—Huh?
It's Dad again…
i herd u spent xmas eve with someone named takako. is she cute?
...What the hell…?
…Either they didn't tell him the truth or my Grandfather's hearing is worse than I realize…
"…Yeah, he's doing a lot better. A-And Juri really is sorry…She wasn't herself and, well, Takato…Takato just wants everyone to be happy, you know? If things didn't work out, he said it'd be different, but…He even apologized for making her think he was leading her on." I still can't believe he did that…
…I love that about Takato, though. He really wants everyone to be happy and, obviously, will do anything to make sure of it.
"Yeah, he'd never stay mad at anyone." Xiaochun says. I've spoken to almost everyone in my family. Grandpa called me after I replied to everyone's texts. Apparently he did hear 'Takato' as 'Takako' and…thought I had a girlfriend over for Christmas since, "Xiaochun was screaming 'love' so damned much!"
"Jianliang! Hey! Merry Christmas!"
"Me-Merry Christmas, Grandpa."
"So, how's that Takako girl? Is she really cute? I always knew you'd get a cute girlfriend!"
I then heard…Lianjie…in the background, shouting, "GRAMPS! He's gay! He's dating TakaTO, y'know? The kid with the goggles? I-I got a picture of the two of 'em on my cell, I-I'll show you. But, Gramps, Jianliang is GAY!" …He…was shouting…Loudly. I-I…I didn't…think he sounded very happy in his tone. Not in the slightest, I was really taken by surprise.
I-I…I didn't like that at all…But…
…I can only hope he can grow to tolerate us…
"Wh-What? Wa-Wait…I-I remember him…Oh…Well, um, if he were a girl, I bet she'd look cute! So, um, by those standards… …Is he cute?" …He sounded sort of…awkward asking that but I took it as a definite sign of support.
"Ve-Very…Takato's very cute."
"Good! Um, I-I had no idea, Jianliang but…I knew some cut sleeves back when I was..."
…And for the next half hour I got a rambling story about how Grandpa Jiyan walked in on two of his friends in bed (I even know one of them…I had no idea he was gay but it made the mental image…Not pleasant…Only because I only know what he looks like as a seventy-five year old man!). ...At least, that's how it started in the first five minutes, the rest of the 'story' went from that to a fishing trip to a hunting trip to a trip to Cheng Du for Grandpa's wedding to another hunting trip to something about the Great Wall and a magician who 'walked' through it to…Um, Jialing managed to figure out Grandpa was going on a rambling story and I got to speak to her instead.
"…Sorry, Jianliang, did I save one of your ears at least?"
"Can't hear you, sis. Lost 'em both."
"So, read any good manga?"
"Ha ha ha! N-No, I-I…I haven't gone in anyone's room! Re-Really!" …Letting Ryou into Lianjie's for booze aside. But I said I haven't gone in anyone's room.
"It's okay if it's for manga…I-I knew it, by the way!"
"You and Takato…I knew it'd happen! You just have this 'Takato' look, you know? Whenever you talk about him, you have this look…I thought you might like him."
"Don't worry, it's not obvious.Lianjie, Mom and Dad had no idea! Just me n' Xiaochun! And we think you two look cute together! I'm so happy for you, Jianliang!"
"Thanks, Jialing…I-I was…really nervous telling Dad."
"Yeah, he played your message to us, that's why Grandpa thought 'her' name was 'Takako.' You, um, were…not at your most coherent. But we understand, just be happy, okay? …I mean it, Jianliang, if anyone gives you trouble over this…"
"I'll let you know…But, um, everyone's behind us. Well…Sort of."
"What happened? Dad said Takato was outted…"
Jialing was the first I told the story to. She was not happy with Juri but…
"…I don't condone it at all but…I can see why she took it so hard. I-I mean, I didn't see her often but…I knew you might like Takato because you had a more, um, 'subtle' version of the look on her face. She was head-over-heels, you were…Um…Lovestruck, I guess."
"You…knew Juri liked Takato that much?"
"Yeah, but…You know, looking back, I thought he liked her but he never really had any sort of 'look' for her. It was…Yeah, looking back, I know Takato had a 'Jianliang' look. I just didn't realize was there since, well, he always had it. I didn't see too many other 'looks' on Takato, you know?" …This was all shocking to hear. "I mean, you were lovestruck, Juri was head-over-heels and…Takato was lovestruck-head-over-heels-over-head-over-heels-with-cupid's-arrow-sticking-outta-his-cute-butt!" Like with many of my family's reactions: I could not believe my sister had just referred to Takato's 'cute butt.'
"Admit it, Jianliang…"
"…Agreed." …I may have…peeked on Takato a few times in the past and…
…He does have a cute...Er...Well, there's a lot about him that's cute, let's just say that. Actually, if it didn't sound so gay I'd use Kenta's description of Takato: Huggably adorable.
"HA HA HA! We are going to have so much fun talking guys when I get back!"
…And, again, I heard…Lianjie…in the background. "Jialing…Don't…Just…Just DON'T! Seriously, you need help with this whole shounen-ai thing…I mean, even Jianliang and Takato?"
I'm glad what happened next happened since…My voice was cracking like I was going to cry after I heard that from Lianjie. He didn't approve.
"Oh, what? True love stories are the best love stories!"
"Yeah, yeah…" …I could see Lianjie's eyes rolling into the back of his skull as he said that. And it didn't help since it was so easy to see, I didn't even try. The image just popped into my head as I heard his voice.
"Wanna talk to him—"
"Oh, Jialing, is that Jianliang?" Mom was next. "Can I talk to him?"
"Sure, hold on…Jianliang, Mom wants to talk to you. Call you later, have fun with your new boyfriend! Merry Christmas!"
"Tha-Thanks! Merry Christmas!"
…I sort of needed my Mother, actually. I-I know, I'm…old for that but…
…The idea of how badly Lianjie was taking this news, I was reacting to it worse than I thought I would. I-I mean, it's one thing to think of how he'd act if he were disgusted by me…
…It's another thing for him to actually be disgusted by me…He was just trying to be polite with his message. 'Congrats, little bro' means 'I have no little bro.'
"I'm so happy to hear about you and Takato. Are you still nervous after talking to your Father?"
"N-No, not anymore."
"Thank the Gods, I-I was worried when your Father played back the message. Jianliang, it's…It's not a big deal," tell that to Lianjie. "We're both proud of you, too, for coming out to help Takato…It obviously wasn't easy."
"N-No, it was…really scary at first. We-Well, realizing I liked him was, too, but…I never thought it would happen so I-I figured I'd just keep it to myself forever and find someone else…" Someone more…female, I guess. "I-I wanted to, um, take this to the grave more or less."
"Oh, Jianliang…No, you…You should not be ashamed of yourself. We love you, Jianliang. You know that and the fact nothing will change that. I'm so happy this worked out for you, especially since I heard Takato's parents found out. I-I knew Takehiro and Mie wouldn't abandon their son, either…They know his happiness is what's important. I'm so glad that happiness happens to be my son, especially."
I-I had to wipe my eyes after hearing that. I was not expecting either of my parents to say…anything like this! E-Ever! I mean, acceptance is one thing but this is so much more than that…
…Support. Love. Comfort. And, the two most shocking of all…Joy and pride. My father told me he was proud of me for coming out to him for Takato. My mother told she's happy that I'm with someone I love and that I make him so happy.
"Thanks, Mom, I-I'm really…glad you said that," I said. I really was.
"Just be happy, Jianliang, okay? And tell Takato we're happy for both of you. Hold on, I think Xiaochun wants to talk to you."
And now I'm talking to Xiaochun…She's, of course, supportive. She answered the phone with "Congratulations! I knew you two would be together someday! I knew it!"
She's been…going insane ever since she got the phone. She's really happy for us. More than I expected, even!
She didn't like the part about Juri, though, she's a little mad at her, too. She knows her better than Jialing does, so I had to spend an extra couple minutes calming her down. She almost cried, actually, she was so mad at her for outting Takato to his mother like she did…
…But she said she'd forgive her if Takato actually could.
"Takato's…really understanding and forgiving, Jianliang, I mean…You really like that about him, right? Like how he managed to forgive Impmon if Juri could." …Yeah, I remember how surprised we all were when Juri forgave him of all Digimon. Even Takato had trouble at first but, well, he actually fought with Impmon over…what happened…But, in the end, he told us he could only do it if Juri could, too.
That actually explains a lot about that night—Wait…
…That is something I really admired about Takato and I even used the words "the fact Takato forgave Impmon because Juri could, I think that's one of the things I 'like' most about him: He's so understanding and forgiving" in…my…
"…Xiaochun, how did you know that?" I ask, my face immediately forming a frown even though she can't see it.
"Know…what…?" Xiaochun asks, her tone going quiet. And into her 'oh crap, I'm in trouble' tone. A tone we all know very well.
"How I feel about Takato forgiving Impmon because Juri could?"
There's a long silence…
"…You said it…once…?" Xiaochun squeaks. YOU DID!
"…Xiaochun…!" No wonder she knew…!
"Um…LIANJIE! Wanna talk to Jianliang? H-He's right here! Gottagomerrychristmasbyebye!" I hear footsteps running off as a phone is dropped on something hard, possibly a coffee table then the floor.
I hear…Lianjie's voice…"Uh…Xiao? Where ya runnin' off to?"
…She read my journal…
Note to self: Buy a brick of charcoal, wrap it in a torn (and previously BLANK!) journal page with the words "Don't read my damned journal AGAIN" on it…
...I should at least be a little forgiving since she somehow managed to keep it a secret that she knew for, well, I don't know how long (...yet...) but Xiaochun can have trouble with secrets. Though, I have a feeling she might have told Jialing, given how my talk with her went but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt for now.
I hear Lianjie putting the phone to his ear. "Uh…Hey, little bro." …He sounds…a little awkward.
"Um…H-Hi, Lianjie…He-Heard…the news?" …My eyes are stinging a little. The way he was shouting at Grandpa and Jialing.
"Ye-Yeah, um…Congrats! I-I mean…Christmas with…someone you really like and all. Aw-Awesome!" …Lianjie…
"…I'm sorry…" I whisper. "I-I know it's…weird and—"
"Wh-What? Du-Dude! What are you sorry about? I-I mean…It's…Awesome! You and Takato are together, I mean, you two were really close as friends so…I guess I should'a seen it coming but…"
"…I-I just mean…Wi-With Jialing's manga and all and…What you said to Grandpa Jiyan—"
"What'd I say to him? I just had to tell him you were gay, he can't hear for shit these days, Jianliang, ever since he got that bad cold, remember? I-I was just clearing it up for him." …Huh?
"Clearing it up?"
"Yeah, I mean, you said 'Takato' like twenty times in your message and he still thought you said 'Takako!' Yeesh, I-I couldn't believe I heard him asking about your girlfriend after that! Took a lot to keep from laughing, actually, but I didn't think you'd want to be the one to explain 'she's really a guy' to Gramps after how you sounded in that voicemail. Seriously, take a couple shots from the bottle under my bed to relax."
"O-oh," I nod. Lianjie must've just…Yeah, sometimes Grandpa Jiyan gets upset with us when we repeat ourselves for the third or fourth time because we sound like we're screaming at him.
"…But, what you said to Jialing?"
"Dude, you want her to question you or rant about how cute you and Takato are for six hours? Fine, I'll get her…Hold on."
"Wa-Wait! Th-That's what you meant?"
"Yeah, I didn't think you'd want to…Jianliang, I-I'm…I'm surprised but not pissed or anything, I-I just…I didn't see it comin'! You're my brother, though, always!" …Lianjie…
"So-Sorry, I was…just worried that…"
"…I guess I understand. Look, there's a difference between you and Jialing's manga. Mostly the fact nine-times-outta-ten I sit on the couch and realize I'm sitting on another freakin' Gravitation manga! If you and Takato are making out on the couch, I'm just gonna give you privacy…" …I-I doubt we'd be that um…Open about our relationship, Lianjie. "Really, if I sound weird I'm just shocked, I mean…You were really good at pretending to like those girls, Jianliang! Had me fooled!"
"A-Actually, I'm…I'm bi, Lianjie, so…"
"Bi? Seriously? Explains why you hid thing so well…Outta curiosity, um, which do you like more? Guys or girls? I mean, uh, what're the pros and cons?" …Huh?
"Pros and cons?"
"Yeah, if you like both which is better? I don't know 'bout the, uh, appeal of guys so…I dunno, I'm just curious."
"Ah…Be-Between the two…" I stammer. …He really just asked that? "We-Well, um, my preference between 'both' in general is, um, I think girls but…I-I never loved anyone, male or female, the same way as I do Takato. But, um, I-I have things about girls I like and things about guys I like."
"Yeah, I mean, aside from asses and some facial features I can't think of anything I check out in a girl that a guy would have, too, so…" Lianjie trails off, I-I can almost feel the blush he's probably got right now. I'm guessing no-one else is in the room, especially Jialing. I'm amazed he didn't even accuse me of lying about still liking girls like I thought he would! "So was Takato the only guy you ever liked or, when we're checking out girls, do you check out both and you're just 'vocal' about girls?"
"Um…Mo-Mostly that," I say, blushing. "Wi-With Takato, um, physically he's…really cute…I-I mean, um, not just…his ass or anything but…" …How many times is the topic of Takato's ass going to come up today?
Lianjie laughs, "Yeah, I think I get what you might like about him. Glad you got someone, Jianliang, I-I was thinking you'd never date. Just holding out hope, right?"
"N-Not really, I didn't think Takato was gay until last night. I…thought he liked Juri."
"Jialing told me 'bout that while you were talking to Mom…Tell Takato I'm sorry but I'm glad it worked out in the end. If it didn't, I'd be pissed if I were him. And Xiao's told me the story of what happens when he'spissed off…So, yeah, good thing it worked out. Especially for you two. Been on any official dates or anything yet?"
"N-Not yet, just to the bakery," I shake my head. "That went so well, actually…"
"Yeah, how were his parents? I heard they took it well and all but no details…"
…I can't believe this…
Thank you, Lianjie. I was expecting anything but this! Thank you so much!
"…Well, um, let's just say Takato's got some baking to do," I begin.
And one extra "Missing chapter" to Midnight Buzzed. I wanted to cover Jen's side of the story and coming out to his family. Especially the aftermath of Jen's coming out to his family since it was sort of skipped over, as well as a little bit involving Takato and his reaction to Juri's "rampage." And Jen's concern over how Lianjie would react comes from how Kenta said his conversation with him was "a little awkward" at first because Lianjie didn't see it coming. Though, one of these days I might do a fic where Lianjie really doesn't approve…But it's hard for me to picture him abandoning his little brother like that…
…Then again, Lianjie's a completely blank slate for characterization, he gets one line in Tamers, which is laughing while holding a pair of purple shoes in Jen's "How I got Terriermon" flashback episode.
Huh, he was really excited about those shoes, too, I wonder if this means he's got a huge shoe closet or something—And that bit of speculation just made it even harder to picture Lianjie as homophobic!
Hope you liked the extra chapters! Originally, if I finished 'Aspirin,' these would have been epilogue chapters or something but...Well, I'll try to get some more Midnight Buzzed continuity bonus chapters\sequels\prequels\whatever out soon and ask Taiki to post "Aspirin" as a set of bonus chapters to this. Merry Christmas to all and a Grand Feast of Red Cliff, too!
Exactly how often is the topic of Takato's ass going to come up from now on? Ha ha ha, I liked that joke, I don't know why.
I'm glad Ori managed to get a few extra Christmas fics out, he told me he'd had these chapters finished for a few months but, as he said in the last chapter, he really wanted to do a separate fic instead of adding to the original. But I have to say I really liked these extra chapters and I'll be ready all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for anything else he might finish! Good luck, Ori! You still managed to give us a fine Christmas upload, I think! They Called Upon A Midnight Buzzed was one of my favorites last year so extra content is always welcome. Especially Jenkato content!
Happy Christmas, everyone! And to anyone who knows what it is: A Grand Feast of Red Cliff as well! May Ori's insanity not be as contagious as I fear it may actually be! And don't turn away that tortoise for whatever reason it may arrive at your door! I don't know how or why a tortoise would visit someone specifically for a "Taoist holiday," but I won't rule out the possibility. Keep an eye out for shelled visitors this year!
Wait, exactly when is the "Feast of Red Cliff?"