[EDITOR'S NOTE: Insanely long fic warning! Honestly, if the word count didn't tip you off: This fic is insanely long!
Also, many thanks to Riku Murasaki for the plot request! Thank you! - Taiki Matsuki]
The Id and The ID
I'm in a corner of the room, watching them.
Takato and Kenta. They're across the room, chatting it up with Hirokazu. I-I'd normally be happy to join in but for the past couple months, all I hear from Takato is Kenta this Kenta that!
"Sorry, Jen-kun, I'm busy tomorrow. I'm meeting with Kenta."
"Hello? Jen? So-Sorry, I-I can't talk right now, Kenta and I are about to walk into a movie theater. Thanks for reminding me my cell's on, though!"
"Jen-kun, do you mind if Kenta tags along with us? I ran into him on my way over."
And the worst:
"Oh, um, you wouldn't…You wouldn't want to go with us, Jen-kun. It's just going to be boring, you wouldn't like it! Re-Really! I'll hang out with you tomorrow, though to make up! Promise!"
Takato was more or less telling me HEdidn't want me to interrupt his time with Kenta. If…If it was Kenta who said that, it's one thing but…Takato?
Takato, you're my best friend…Right?
I'm worried he's either mad at me or, worse, tired of me. Like he just doesn't want to be friends anymore and, instead, spend all his time with Kenta!
"Hey, Jen, why're you hangin' out here? Join the party!"
I turn, Ryou's standing behind me with a glass of spiked punch (we all saw it happen, Ruki was the one who spiked it, spinning the bottle in one hand a few times before doing it – She and Ryou are the dedicated 'boozehounds' among us). I let out a quiet sigh and shrug.
We're having a 'Tamers Gathering' at his place. Ryou's serving booze, of course, and everyone is partaking.
Though we have two official lightweights among us.
Hirokazu – Yes, as much as he hates acknowledging it or being reminded of it (by Ruki, usually), Hirokazu Shiota can't hold his liquor. Any more than a shot of sake and he's completely out of it.
And the 'more obvious' choice:
Me – I can handle more than Hirokazu but I can't shut up after too much and, Gods help me, I can't keep a secret, either. Thank the Gods Takato can keep a secret after that time I told him, um…
…A few things about Ruki I accidentally found out that, if she knew I told anyone, she would have me murdered. Slowly and painfully and with no hope for any mercy. Takato can keep his mouth shut.
And, dare I say it…
…Takato, out of everyone I know (and that includes Li Lianjie, my elder brother and master of the art of beer pong) can hold his liquor. I'm not kidding, Takato has had five glasses of punch and he's only buzzed. I saw what Ruki poured in there, too: Strong enough to make me want to avoid the punchbowl entirely.
We make a big deal out of it because, well, Takato's the last person we'd expect to be practically immune to alcohol. We'd think he'd be more of a lightweight than Hirokazu! Nope, he's the drinker Hirokazu wishes he was!
"Jen? Seriously, you look, I dunno, a little pissed," Ryou speaks up as I remain silent, looking back to Takato and Kenta.
"Just had a long day," I reply. I watch Takato sip from his cup.
Fun fact about Takato: He doesn't like beer or sake, he hates the taste. Takato does not drink beer or sake!
He drinks whiskey.
And he's gone on record to say he likes the taste of whiskey. A lot.
Takato, what happened to that innocent young goggle enthusiast I used to know?
"Then drink up," Ryou tries to pass me his drink, I decline. "C'mon, Jen, don't be like this."
"Yeah, you've got a sweet sixteen coming up, don't you?" Ah, Ruki, I was wondering when you'd show up. And, yes, I do have a birthday coming up.
I nod. "Three days."
"Then cheer up! C'mon, Jen, it's my party, not yours, you can't cry if you want to," Ryou says.
"Yeah, save those tears for your birthday. Go have some punch."
"I was not suggesting that you get punch, Jen," Ruki says in a warning tone.
"One glass, no more," I say. I'm going to regret this. Especially since I'm going to have to go to the punch bowl…The punch bowl Takato and Kenta are talking at…
Please, Kenta, ignore me…Please ignore me…
Given how they both go silent as I approach, I take it I've been noticed. And what could they be talking about that they don't want me to hear?
"Jen-kun!" Kenta turns to me, smiling as I pour myself a cup of punch.
"Hey, Kenta-kun…Takato-kun," I bow my head, trying to smile. "Having fun?"
"Ryou throws fun parties," Takato says. "I got my own 'special' spiked punch…" He shows me his cup, it's full of whiskey. "All spike, no punch." He chuckles.
Yeah, the others like to"play" with Takato's alcohol tolerance, it takes a lot to get him really drunk. And they all say he's a fun drunk, too.
"Honestly, Takato-kun, I don't know how you can do that…" Kenta shakes his head, laughing. "It's scary."
"Hey, Takato, um…Are you busy tomorrow? I was thinking about seeing the Xros Wars movie, want to join me?"
Takato gives me a surprised look, then bows his head…Here it comes. "So-Sorry, Jen-kun, but…Kenta and I made plans tomorrow." He does, at least, soundguilty. "But, um, after we meet, maybe?"
"Nah, it's okay," I shake my head before Takato can suggest Kenta joining us. "I wasn't too sure about seeing it, I mean, the whole 'all seasons cross over' to fight The Digimon Kaiser sounds cool but…"
"…Yeah, the whole 'It's Osamu, not Ken' thing. And they're not even trying to hide it! You can tell in the previews!" Kenta shouts.
"Exactly." I say. "You two…have fun tomorrow. I-I'll just, I dunno, play games or something."
"Jen-kun, um, yo-your birthday's in a few days. Are you having a party or anything?" Takato asks.
I shrug. "Not really. I'm waiting until after break starts after next week for any celebration, Lianjie invited me to his apartment for a few days. He said he has a 'big birthday surprise' for me." I say. Lianjie moved out earlier this year to his first apartment. It's kinda small but it has a spare bedroom for me to sleep in when I visit (well, usually, he got a roommate a couple months ago – an old friend from high school he met again online). Lianjie likes to invite me over a lot, especially during breaks. We play video game tournaments or I'll test out some stuff he's doing for work (game design, what else?). He even invites his friends and I can invite my friends for the tournaments…
…I'm hoping that means some time with Takato. And not Kenta.
I know, I'm being a jerk about the whole "hanging out with Kenta" thing but I'm really worried Takato is…I'm afraid to say it sometimes but it's been going on so long that afraid he's replacing me. He's been seeing Kenta almost daily for so long! We…WE used to do that, Takato…
…I-I need to calm down, I don't want to upset Takato by either losing it on him or his...hopefully NOT new best friend, Kenta! And this punch won't help that not happen.
"Really? How's Rinchei-san doing?" Kenta asks.
"Good, he got a raise recently. And he's got a roommate so money isn't as bad as before for him," I say. Lianjie's a game designer but he's usually sent to do code and fix glitches…Nothing 'cool' like he wants.
'…Yet,' he always says. He does, sometimes, make up mini-games for RPGs he's on the design team for. Often for fun at home, he was so excited when one of them made it into the game, they didn't even plan on including it until everyone got addicted to it at the office.
"That's great, Jen-kun," Takato smiles. "But, um, if you're not having a party…Um…When should I drop off your gift?"
"Oh, um…A-Anytime, I guess," I bow my head. "Thank you, Takato-kun."
"Happy birthday, Jen-kun," Takato smiles.
"Happy Sweet Sixteen, Jen," Kenta jokes.
"Ruki already told that one, Kenta," I say, trying to sound just as joking.
"Ha ha, of course she did."
I force myself to chat with Kenta for a little longer while he's with Takato. The party starts to die down after Hirokazu passes out on the couch in Ryou's living room, too many beers. Hirokazu's been trying to "up" his alcohol tolerance and I swear, if he hasn't done it already doing something else stupid, Hirokazu is going to kill off every single brain cell he has.
I walk home, barely buzzed from my punch. I kept my mouth shut, thank the Gods.
As soon as I get home, I go straight to bed. It's almost ten at night on a Saturday. No school tomorrow and break starts next Friday…
I stare helplessly up at the sky.
I-I missed it. Just barely but I missed it.
It's gone. I watched it appear smaller and smaller until it disappeared into the sky.
A strong gust of wind blows dust and small rocks past me, but a lot of the rocks start to pelt me in the back. I don't really notice them.
I'm all alone now. They left without me.
I can't go home.
I-I'm alone. Why couldn't the ark have waited?
I collapse onto my knees, leaning forward and crying. "Please…Come back…Please…" I cry as I remember the last image of them I saw Takato, trying desperately to reach out and grab me. No matter how far away he got he kept reaching for me. Kenta held him back.
I stop crying lifting my head up with a gasp. I feel two hands on my shoulders. "Takato?" I start to stand, the hands let go of me as I turn around, facing Takato.
Takato puts his hands on my shoulders again, smiling.
Takato, you…You were on the ark, why did you come back?
"Jen-kun, it's okay. You're not alone," Takato says. He steps closer, putting both hands to my sides holding me. He lets out a content sigh as he comes in closer, still smiling. A warm, inviting smile.
I-I can think of only one thing to do.
I lean forward, Takato does the same. Our lips meet. The kiss lasts. Gods, it feels like the most blissful eternity imaginable.
When the kiss finally ends, he takes my hand and we start to explore our surroundings in silence. The entire time, our hands are together. Now and then, he kisses me on the cheek or I kiss him. We smile every time, we can't help it. We're both so happy with just each other.
We travel through the canyons and come upon a forest and a stream…
Takato stops walking down the path, he takes me to the stream without a word. He leads me to a fallen log, we sit down and he kisses me again. We keep kissing for a while, the only sound being the rushing stream to our side.
Takato ends our kiss. He smiles and holds me close again. "I love you, Jen. I love you so much."
.I-I…I can't talk… I just can't! My mouth opens but nothing comes out.
I only stare at Takato with this…this…I-I guess pained look on my face. My voice and mouth don't want to work! I-I can't say anything to him, as much as I want to!
Again, Takato leans into me, he rests his head on my shoulder. "I love you, Jen. I love you such.
I try desperately to say something to him! But I-I can't! My voice is nonexistent, my lips won't cooperate! Damn it, no! No! I-I need to let him know how I feel!
Takato kisses me on the cheek, saying, "I love you JEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!"
My eyes open wide, I cover my ears. My alarm clock buzzes loudly. I hit the alarm, groaning. I forgot to turn that thing off for Sunday.
Damn it, I-I had that dream again. For almost two months now and at this point I'm getting it almost every night! I-I…I don't like this. Gay dreams, that's…That's all I need right now! I don't have enough on my mind with Takato more or less replacing me with Kenta, I have to dream about making out with him!
I-I'm not gay. Everyone has "the gay dream" at least once in their lifetime. Eventually we all have a dream of being in love with the same gender. Often it will be more than "just kissing" and…
…Something that freaked me out the first time it happened…Ugh! No-Not a dream I'm proud of.
But it's nothing to be upset about, I-I mean…Everyone. Has. The. Gay. Dream. And most of them are a lot more, um, "fantasy-like" than most of what I've been having lately.
I've managed to keep a majority of those dreams, um, "clean." The ones that aren't, though…
I hate my brain sometimes!
Like I said, though everyone…EVERYONE has "the gay dream." I-I shouldn't freak out over them. I mean, it's perfectly normal! I bet all of my friends have had one, too by now! I mean, I'd never ask them, but I-I'm sure Takato's "returned the favor" when it comes to his dreams and me – And I don't mean that the way Hirokazu would!
That's my theory as to why it's Takato in the dream: Since he's my best friend. So if Takato had a gay dream, it might be about me…
…Or, at this rate, Kenta…
I spent the next ten or fifteen minutes waking up at my own pace and trying to forget about that dream. Sure, everyone has a gay dream at one point in their lives but…
…What happens when it's recurring?
Probably just stress, I-I mean I am not gay! And I'm not in love with Takato! Dreams don't work that way!
Whatever, I-I hate dwelling on this. I-I'm in a bad enough mood about how things are going with Takato right now, I don't need to throw in "by the way I dream of making out with you in The Digital World every night" on top of all that!
Why the Digital World and the Ark, though? Eh, probably has to do with Ruki telling us about Hirokazu and Kenta's "incident" at our last Christmas party. She pushed Kenta under some mistletoe and told Hirokazu "kiss him like you did in the Digital World" and all Hell broke loose from Hirokazu. For all watching (even Kenta) it was hysterical. One of her better Christmas parties, especially the virgin and non-virgin (AKA "Akiyamafied" – He's our main "supplier," after all) egg nog.
I walk into the living room, I smell the aroma of freshly steamed baozi. Just what the doctor ordered! Thanks, Mom!
I walk to the dining room table, to my surprise only Lianjie is sitting at the table with a fresh tray of bao zi.
"Heeey, little bro," Lianjie grins. "Your alarm go off?"
"You did that? Wait, what time is it?" I ask. It looks a lot later than 7:30, when I usually have my alarm set.
"Nine-thirty-to-forty-five-ish," Lianjie replies, he motions for me to sit down. "I asked everyone last night if I could talk to you alone this morning. They're all out having breakfast, but I got Mom to make a batch of these for ya! Happy-Early-Birthday, Bro!"
"Tha-Thanks, Lianjie," I smile. If anyone can cheer me up, it's Lianjie.
"And I got an early birthday present for ya...Well, sorta," Lianjie says. "Kenichi's got a part time job at college, he makes student IDs and…" Lianjie reaches into his pocket, he passes me a card. "Take a look!"
"A fake ID?" I ask. It's my picture, from my high school yearbook. The name, however, is Zhang Tuo instead of Li Jianliang. And my age is twenty-two? I-I don't look thatold, Lianjie… "A-Are you serious?"
When it comes to alcohol, well, ever since he found out I drank with the others, Lianjie's taken it upon himself to be my "supplier" and an all around bad influence. He takes pride in being a "bad influence" on me, but…He keeps an eye on me if anything, it's part "get drunk with Jianliang" and "teach Jianliang the perils of alcohol" the easy way (drinking games), the hard way (like my first really bad hangover) and "the Li Lianjie way" (Which is a mixture of both).
"Totally, when you visit, Kenichi and I are gonna get you plastered! My treat," Lianjie grins. "Best way to celebrate a sweet sixteen, right?" How many times am I going to hear that joke?
"Don't worry, I got you covered, no-one is gonna be arrested. I promise," Lianjie puts a hand on my shoulder, grinning. "Be bad, Jianliang, please! Kenichi put a ton of work into photoshopping that thing! He used the campus ID maker to do the rest."
"It looks pretty real," I say. "Thank you, Lianjie."
"Thank Kenichi, too, when you see him," Lianjie nods. Kenichi is Lianjie's new roommate, he was an old friend from high school he lost touch with upon going to college. Kenichi's still in college so he's living with Lianjie sort of rent-free, he says he pays what he can but Lianjie always calls him 'the starving college kid.'
Lianjie has him as more of a live-in best friend than someone who can help pay the bills. But I can understand, Kenichi and Lianjie were best friends growing up and Lianjie was really upset when they lost contact. When he told me he was getting a roommate and that it was Kenichi of all people. I was really happy for him because I could tell how excited he was to have Kenichi move in.
"I-I will, I guess, well…"
"I know, nervous as always. Heh. And there's one more offer," Lianjie begins. "Gimme two pictures of two friends you wanna bring, okay? And can I suggest Takato as one of 'em? Not that I need to but…" Wait, he wants me to bring friends along?
I nod, slowly. "Kenichi wants to make more?"
Lianjie nods. "Yeah, he offered to do a couple more. All we need is pictures. Got anyone in mind besides Takato?"
If I get Takato this ID and he goes with us (or anywhere we'd need one), then…
…Finally a way to have fun with Takato that Kenta can't interrupt or be a part of! Thank you, Lianjie! Thank you! This is the best gift ever!
"Just Takato," I say, smiling. "I mean, everyone else…Ruki's probably got her own, so does Ryou and Hirokazu's a lightweight."
"Uh, anyone else? I'm sure you're forgetting some other 'Tamer,' there…" Lianjie says, thinking. No, I'm not forgetting anyone! Trust me.
But just in case he says 'What about that nerd with the glasses?' I'll add in 'the last Tamer' he'd ever invite to a bar: "Well, if you reeeaaally wanna make one for Xiaochun…" I trail off, Lianjie laughs.
"Oh, yeah, I knew I was forgetting someone! Yeah, like they'd buy the idea she'sreally twenty-seven! Ha!" Lianjie laughs. "Okay, just get me a picture."
"I've got some you can use, I'll put a few of them on a flash drive for you," I say, I've got a photo album on my computer with plenty of pictures Kenichi can use. "Thank you so much, Lianjie!" Lianjie smiles wide as he sees how excited I am, just like he always does when he's being a 'bad big brother.'
"Just let Takato know, we'll drive you two over and hit the bar," Lianjie grins. "There's one just down the street from my place, like three blocks tops, that you gotta go to! It's awesome and in walking distance!"
"What's it called?"
"Kamesato's it's…Ah…Techno…ish," Lianjie shrugs. "It plays good music and serves good drinks, just be prepared to go deaf if you're in the wrong area. Like anywhere there's dancing. Black lights and lasers type thing, y'know? Great music, though, and I've been on the dance floor when they pull out the fog machine or some weird gimmick like that." He then quickly adds, "But, ah, for our 'fakers,' I'd suggest sticking to a quiet table, you don'twant to draw attention and all, you know? No dancing! 'Kay?"
"No problem, you know me and DDR, right?" I say with a nod, Lianjie laughs. "You know about Takato and hard liquor, right?"
"Yeah, that's why I really want you to include him. I gotta see that, Jianliang. Kenichi wants to, too." Lianjie lets out a laugh, saying, "Last person I'd ever see as anything but a lightweight soI just gotta see it with my own eyes, you've gotto be exaggerating!"
"If anything, Lianjie, I try to tone down the story to make it more believable," I say. "He's immune to alcohol!"
"Li-ar." Lianjie rolls his eyes, reaching for a bao zi. "C'mon, eat up. And keep that ID hidden. Don't lose it, Kenichi can't make any more after a couple weeks, so if you think of someone you want to give one later, lemme know 'cause you still got one more comin' your way."
I nod, taking a bao as well. "I will." No I won't. Kamesato's bar will be a Kenta-Free Zone! Ha! Just Takato and I…And Lianjie and Kenichi but that's no problem, Lianjie usually focuses on his friend, I focus on mine. And, even without that, Takato and I always have fun when we hang out with him. No matter what, win-win!
"And if Mom and Dad ask, or Takato's parents ask, we're just having a video game tournament at my place. Which we are during the day: Mario Kart 64! I found my old N64 games, finally! I was afraid I lost 'em!"
"Where were they?"
"Kenichi found 'em in my storage closet, I put 'em in a box labeled 'junk' to ward off thieves. And myself, I guess," Lianjie chuckles.
"How's Kenichi been all these years?" I ask. "I mean, I can't believe you found him again."
"Me, neither. We used to be so damned close, too. I missed the guy a lot," Lianjie says. "He'll be graduating in a year or so, but 'til then…I'm glad to have someone who can sometimes split the rent. And if he can't, it ain't that much and he repays me in other ways," Lianjie lets out a quiet chuckle.
"Oh, uh, random stuff. Anything to help out or, if I'm havin' a stressful day at work, he'll make me feel better with some of his Kenichi-style charm, y'know?"
I nod, laughing, "Yeah, Kenichi was a really funny guy back when you knew him."
"Damned right. And, don't worry, you can still have your usual bedroom. Ken says he'll sleep on the couch."
"He doesn't have to," I say. "I was fine on your couch before you got that extra bed."
"Nah, don't worry about it," Lianjie grins. "He'll even move his crap out for your visit, no big deal."
"You sure?" Moving his stuff out of the spare room? That sounds like a lot, especially for just a couple days.
Lianjie nods. "Positive."
Lianjie stuck around for a couple more hours, we played video games for most of it. At one point, he had to get up and look for something in his old closet. He left after our family got back from breakfast, saying he had to get the apartment ready.
I spend the night trying to figure out how to ask Takato if he wants a Fake ID.
I admit, that's sort of a hitch in the plan: Takato is not Hirokazu. Hirokazu would jump at this, Takato? He likes whiskey, he'll drink underage but he'll probably draw the line at Fake IDs.
I can hope and try to change his mind, though…
We lay next to each other in the soft grass under the tree…
Takato…He gave up going home for me. He didn't want me to be alone here, forever. He cares that much about to me to give up...
Takato wraps his arms around me. He lets out a happy sigh, whispering, "I love you, Jen."
I look to Takato, I have one arm around him as he lays next me. I try to say something to him but I can't open my mouth. No matter how hard I try, my jaw won't respond.
Why can't I answer you? I keep trying to speak but…I can't open my mouth, I can barely breathe! Damn it!
Takato, please, I-I have to tell you…!
Takato sits up and kisses me on the cheek before going back down to resting his head on my shoulder. "I love you, Jen. I love you so much…"
SAY SOMETHING! A-Anything! Anything to let him know I…I…
I love h—
My alarm rings loud and clear again…
I groan, sitting up.
Third night in a row. I hate this dream!
I'm worried about what this means…I-I've tried everything I can think of to avoid this dream. I tried listening to headphones while I slept with quiet music, sleeping with the television on, anything to dream of anything else! But I keep dreaming about Takato and the Digital World.
And, Gods, I-I'm dreaming about kissing Takato!
This still doesn't mean anything, though! I-I mean, everyone has the gay dream, some just more often than others. Like me. This. Is. Normal.
PLEASE let this be normal!
Why do they always end with Takato saying he loves me? And why can't I say anything? For that matter, why am I afraid of not saying anything?
Ugh, whatever! It's just a stupid dream! Takato's in it because he's my best friend, I'm dreaming about the Digital World because I'll never forget the Digital World and I'm kissing Takato because…I DON'T KNOW! But it's not for that reason! I-I'd know it if I was gay.
I'm not gay.
I climb out of bed, yawning, and go into the living room. I'm greeted by Xiaochun charging at me and giving me a hug, almost knocking me over. "Happy Birthday, Jianliang!" Ha ha ha! Glad to see she's in a good mood, makes me feel better.
"Thanks, Xiaochun," I smile. At least there's one thing to look forward to today. It's my birthday. Takato won't ditch me on my birthday. He'd never do that.
Xiaochun leads me to the dining room. Mom, Dad and Jialing are there with a huge spread of bao zi and I'm willing to bed it's got my favorite filling.
"Happy Birthday," Mom, Dad and Jialing all say.
I smile, bowing my head. "Thanks."
"We'll celebrate more after school," Mom says. "Don't eat a big lunch."
I smile. "Thanks, Mom, I won't."
"By the way, Jianliang, Have you been taking my Ai To Kirais?" Jialing asks. …What?
"Wh-What? Ai To Kirai? Th-That's, um, shounen-ai isn't it?" I ask.
"I know, long shot but half my collection's gone!" Jialing says. "Seriously, someone here is breaking into my room…" She looks to Dad.
"Jialing, I would never break into my child's room. Especially not to steal their shounen-ai manga." Dad says.
"Suuure, Dad, suuuuure…" Jialing nods, slowly. "You wanna know if Wataru's gonna get with Kenichi, don't you?"
Dad goes back to his paper. "We all know Wataru doesn't deserve Kenichi," he jokes.
"It wasn't me," I say. "I am not into that stuff, Jialing."
"That just leaves Mom and Xiaochun." Jialing looks to each, as soon as her eyes gaze upon each suspect, the suspects shakes their heads. "Then where are they?"
"You have to have misplaced them," Dad says with a shrug. "I do it with my keys all the time."
"Dad, your keys are a set of small, jingling metal pieces attached to a ring that can be used to lock and unlock doors, cars and entertain babies or small children. These are twenty-eight standard size manga. You don't lose those as easily as keys" Jialing says.
"Apparently you do," Dad jokes.
"Dad…!" Jialing groans.
"Then the manga fairy took them," Dad shrugs. "Sorry, Jialing."
"Damn it, I wanted to re-read that series, too! My entire first half, gone!"
"Sorry, Jialing, I'll keep an eye out for them," I say.
School: A Kenta Zone.
Normally, at least, I saw Hirokazu walking into class alone today. That means Kenta's out sick for the day. That means I have my entire lunch period to spend with Takato. No Kenta, unlike the past couple months!
I just need to wait for Takato at our usual spot, the bleachers by the track field. I'm eating some special birthday bao zi from Mom, it's a batch with my favorite fillings. And a few extra that have her famous sweet-pork filling: Takato's favorite. I asked her if I could bring him some for him (never a problem, my family really likes Takato), I thought it might help "break the ice" for the question I have for him.
I can't hold back my smile as Takato walks up to my spot alone, just a bag in his hands. Perfect!
"Takato-kun!" I wave back to Takato as he approaches. He sits next to me.
"Happy Birthday," Takato reaches into his bag, pulling out a wrapped gift. "Hope you like it!"
I smile, taking the gift with both hands. "Thanks, Takato. Here, before I forget…" I reach into my lunch bag and pass Takato a smaller bag of his bao zi.
"Jen!" Takato laughs, bowing thankfully. "It's yourbirthday."
"My Mom made it for breakfast and some special ones for lunch, I asked if I could bring you a few," I say, still smiling.
"Manju? Thanks, Jen-kun! Your Mom really makes the best!" Ha ha, Takato can't resist my Mom's baozi. Ever. He thanks her by bringing choco-pan and custard-pan from the bakery whenever he's invited to dinner – It's my Mom's favorite from his bakery.
Takato opens the bag and starts eating. He looks to me for a moment. "Gonna open your present?" He asks after swallowing.
"O-oh, right!" I laugh, opening my gift. It's wrapped with Digimon Adventure paper, it's not all that small, either…
"Love it!" I say. It's a Terriermon-themed controller for the PS3, pastel green with Terriermon's face around the start-select buttons and the sides are painted like his ears.
I've only seen these, they were part of a promotion for the new Digimon World game, but… "I-I thought they stopped making these months ago!"
"I have my sources. I got myself the Guilmon controller, too." Takato says. "Happy birthday."
"Thank you so much, Takato-kun. I'll be sure to take it to Lianjie's next week," I set the controller in my lunch bag so I won't lose it. "By the way, speaking of Lianjie's…Um, he gave me my gift early but I can't use it 'til I see him. Check this out." I reach into my pocket and pull out the ID.
Takato's jaw drops when he sees it. "Where did he gets that…?"
"His roommate, Kenichi, is making college IDs part-time," I say. "He wants to take me to bar next week but…"
"He wants me to bring a friend. Kenichi can make you one, too."
"For me?" Takato asks. I nod. "I-I dunno…" He passes the ID back to me, I put it back in my pocket.
"Please? He swears, we won't get caught. Lianjie's not stupid."
"Ye-Yeah, but…" Please, Takato. Please.
"It's a techno bar called Kamesato's. It's near his place, n-no driving or anything!" I say, quickly, hoping that might help sway him.
Instead, Takato suddenly gives me a weird look. It makes me a little nervous, actually.
"Kame…sato's…?" Takato asks, tilting his head slightly. "Um, I heard about that place from Kenta, but…" Takato shakes his head. "Nah, wait, it can't be the same one…" What the hell would Kenta know about bars?
Calm down, calm down, Kenta's not here, don't think about KENTA… "Can I have a day to think about it?" Takato asks, quietly.
I nod. "Su-sure, just let me know and we'll set things up. Tell your parents you're going to a video game tournament at Lianjie's, though."
Takato nods. "Definitely," he says, passing my ID back to me. "Kamesato's, though, um, a-any particular reason for thatbar?"
"Huh? Um, well, it's close to Lianjie's place, three blocks he says."
"Re-Really? Rinchei goes there?"
"Of course, he's Lianjie, he loves bars," I laugh. "Takato, you've seen my brother drink. He's offered you beer, remember?"
"I-I know, but, um, if it's the same bar I'm thinking about…" Takato trails off. What? "You said it's a techno bar?"
"I know, Lianjie isn't the 'techno' type but, I dunno, his choice so I won't argue." I shrug. "Why do you ask?" It is weird how Takato seems to know this place.
"Ah, n-no reason. I just heard about it so, uh…I-I'll call you tonight, okay?"
I nod. "Su-Sure. I would really like it if you could make it, though. It going to be a ton of fun!"
"A place like Kamesato's. De-Definitely!" Takato lets out a nervous laugh.
I got Takato's phone call that night, I was really worried he'd say he didn't want to do it but…
…To my shock he sounded excited! I mean, he was jumping at the idea to where I-I thought I was talking to Hirokazu! I-I don't know why but Takato wants to go to this bar! Not complaining, though, I'm finally going to have a ton of fun ALONE with my best friend!
Takato was really excited about the fact it's Kamesato's, though. I asked Lianjie about that when I called him to confirm Takato was coming, too.
"Hey, um, one question about Kamesato's…"
"Is it popular by any chance? Or special in any way?"
"Special? Ha ha ha, nah! Nope! Definitely not! It's a techno bar, Jianliang. That's all. Why do you ask…?"
"Just curious, Takato's really excited about going and all."
"Eh, probably the 'being bad' adrenaline rush, you know? Kamesato's is just techno. That's it. Really."
"I-I know, just curious."
And with that I set up plans with Lianjie and Takato. It's been more than a few days since my birthday and break started yesterday. We're going to Lianjie's apartment today, Takato's parents want him home before midnight but Lianjie says he's got some excuses that would let Takato spend the night if he's "hammered enough."
And, surprisingly, Takato wasn't all that worried about his parents wanting him home…
…He didn't really seem to care, actually. I-I can't believe Takato's got this much of, well, a dark side, I guess!
This is going to be interesting.
I wait with Takato outside of my apartment building, I have an overnight bag with me. Takato looks excited and nervous about tonight. I'm a little nervous, too, actually. The fact we're breaking the law and using fake IDs…
…Lianjie, please don't half-ass this. I don't want my Kenta-Free Zone to be a jail cell!
Still, I have one thing that's made me feel better: I haven't had that dream since my birthday. Nothing unusual…Finally. I think it was a birthday gift from my subconscious. Second. Best. Gift. Ever. First best is Lianjie's ID.
Just thinking about those dreams is enough to make me…I guess, "nervous" would be the best way to put it. I mean, the "gay dream" happens to everyone but why am I having it so often? And about Takato? Takato's my best friend, nothing more. I admit, I am closer to him than any other friend I've ever had but…We're just friends. I don't want to kiss him or…
Even with the dream though, I have no problem being around Takato. A dream is a dream, in real life things are normal. I'm with Takato, that makes me happy. I like being with Takato and no dream is going to change that!
And tonight we're going to a Kenta-Free Zone and I don't have think about that stupid dream! Or anything gay! My life is gay free now! And I intend to keep it that way! Especially since I'll be spending a night having fun with my best friend!
I gave Takato his ID, his name is Fujita Natsuhito and he's 23. Takato says Kenichi did a good job, even though Lianjie says he "can't photoshop for crap," but…Well, he said they'll work, so I'm not too worried.
Lianjie's car pulls up, he honks the horn. Takato and I get in the back after I toss my bag in his trunk.
"Hey, little bro!" Lianjie says as I get in. "You ready to party?"
"Can't wait!" I say.
"We're really going to Kamesato's?" Takato asks, closing his door. Lianjie starts to drive off.
"Yeah, sorry if, ah, techno's not your thing, but, well, it's close, you know?" Lianjie says.
"O-Oh, trust me, I-I'm reallyexcited to go there."
"A techno bar?" I ask.
Takato gives me an odd look for a moment, but then his expression changes and he nods. "Uh, yeah, a 'techno' bar. I just can't believe we're going to one! Thank you so much, Jen-kun! A-And you and Kenichi-san, too, Rinchei-san!"
"Hey, I just gotta see this supposed alcohol immunity! We're gonna get you drunk and I got a bet going with Kenichi as to how many shots it'll take!"
"Hope you bet on a lot," I say. "Last party at Ryou's, he got special spiked punch: All spike, no bunch and he just got buzzed off all he drank! Seriously, he's immune!"
"Uh-huh, Takato, if you've been lying about this the whole time, you're gonna get half a bottle of whiskey in you as punishment," Lianjie says. "I don't care how much it makes you puke!"
Takato laughs, "I'm tempted to say I am lying just for that. I really like the taste."
"Okay, that's…just weird for someone your age," Lianjie says. "When I was drinking at sixteen, I hated the strong stuff unless I had it mixed in something."
Takato nods. "I-I don't know why but I like the taste, the slight burning you feel when it goes down, all that."
"Man, and I always had you pegged as someone who'd puke after a wine cooler," Lianjie shrugs. "Hey, Jianliang, sorry I wasn't at your place for your party. I'll make it up to you tonight."
"I didn't have a party, don't worry," I say. "And you didn't miss much since you were there last. Except Jialing, half of her Ai To Kirais suddenly vanished." Seriously, Jialing's been almost in mourningover it. She even started saving up to buy the series again – Which is going to be hard since it's been out of print for a few years, now, according to Jialing.
"Oh, did they?" Lianjie asks. "She probably left them at school or something. Shounen-ai fantatic!"
Takato nods. "I've…heard of Ai to Kirai, but…"
"Eh, it's just about some bisexual soccer star who's got an entire school after him for a bunch of weird reasons," Lianjie says. "A-And I only know this from Jialing talking my ears off about that series."
"I-I know, Lianjie, I know," I laugh, Takato laughs, too.
The drive to Lianjie's apartment isn't too long. He takes us up to the second floor of the building, room 2-42. I think this is the first time Takato's been here.
From the entrance is the living room with a divider that goes to the kitchen. To the right of the front door are three doors: Two bedrooms, one really small compared to the other, with a bath in between them. The toilet is on the other side of the apartment, next to a storage closet.
In the corner of the living room next to the kitchen archway is Lianjie's computer and desk. And directly to the left of the front door is a couch, a recliner with its back to the kitchen, a coffee table with a PS3 on it and a flatscreen television. Oh, and a massive collection of game consoles and games in a pair of shelves on either side of the television.
Though he's still a gamer, Lianjie actually doesn't play games as much as he used to. His collection is mostly for show, especially if he has someone from work over: Helps his image as a designer if he's "well versed" in the past five generations of video games and systems. He also collects rare games and systems, even a copy of an American ET game, which was so bad they supposedly buried all the unsold copies in some desert.
As we walk into the apartment, we hear a voice from the kitchen, "Rin-kun, Jen-kun and…Takoto-kun, is it?" A young man about Lianjie's age steps out to the archway. He's wearing blue button up shirt and jeans, while his hair is cut short and styled rather nicely, I think, a cleaner version of how mine used to look before I grew my hair out last summer, except it's a very light brown color. Lighter than Takato's hair. He adjusts a pair of thick, black-framed glasses as we walk in.
"Takato," I say, bowing. "Hi, Kenichi-san. Thank you so much for the IDs."
"Thank you," Takato quickly bows his head. "Thank you so muchfor this, Kenichi-san."
"No need to be so formal, anything for Rin-kun and his little brother," Kenichi says, smiling. "I justfinished making some snacks, you came just in time!"
"Awesome," Lianjie grins. "What'd you make?"
"What else could I make for you, Rin-kun?" Kenichi smiles as he crosses his arms, pointing to Lianjie. "Nothing but yourfavorite," he pulls his finger and hand back, motioning into the kitchen. There's steam coming from what I assume to be the stove.
"Oh, hehehe! Jianliang doesn't know…" Lianjie turns to me. "Okay, you can tell Mom I get you drunk, made you fake IDs and let you stay up past your bedtime, BUT," he raises one finger, closing his eyes and saying, "DO NOTtell her I snuck a peek at her private cookbook and copied down her bao zi recipe for Kenichi."
My jaw falls. "Holy shit, she would kill you for that." I whisper.
"I know but…Totally worth it!" Lianjie hurries to the kitchen. "Seriously, Ken-kun makes them just as good as she does! Try 'em!"
Takato and I both go into the kitchen, there's a huge pile of freshly steamed bao zi on the table with more on the stove. Takato and I both take one as we sit down. Lianjie's sitting down on his desk chair, he only has two chairs for his 'dining room-slash-back of kitchen' table.
"What's the filling?" Takato asks.
"Oh, this and that," Kenichi shrugs. "Actually, it's an original mixture of meat and some sauces. Rin-kun reallylikes it."
"I'd tell Mom to try it this way but then she'd know I stole her recipe," Lianie says. "Damn, Ken-kun, you're good."
"Thank you! Thank you!" Kenichi smiles wide as he bows a few times before going back to the stove. "Takato, did you like my work on the ID?"
"Looked real! Thank you, again. I-I can't believe I'm going to Kamesato's…"
"You've…heard of it…?" Kenichi asks, looking to Takato. He and Lianjie both look to each other.
"So-Sort of," Takato says. "My friend, um, Kenta said it's a great 'techno' bar." How does Kentaknow about some random bar my brother lives near?
"O-Oh, well, yes! It's got techno…all over the place! It's made of techno! Tehcno this, techo that, techno everywhere!" Kenichi says, laughing and throwing his arms in the air. "You'll love it!" Takato and I both laugh.
"I know I will," Takato smiles. "I-I really couldn't believe it. Thank you so much for inviting me." He actually stands and bows low to Lianjie and Kenichi.
"At ease," Lianjie laughs. "Seriously, Takato, it's not that big of a deal. And 'sides, we both wanted to see you get your drink on. As weird as that sounds."
"I swear, Rin-kun, you are so going to owe me after he gets drunk after three shots," Kenichi says.
"Hope you didn't bet too much, Kenichi-san," I say.
Kenichi grins, "We'll see, Jenrya. Oh, and don't forget – Spare bedroom is all yours. I just got done moving my stuff out, closet is all free for you!"
"Thanks, Kenichi-san but you really didn't have to do that, I'm only here for a couple days."
"Rin-kun's little brother gets priority, especially after his sweet sixteen," Kenichi says, pulling out one more batch of baozi and then going to "sit down" with us by sitting on the counter next to Lianjie and his desk chair.
How many times am I going to hear that sweet sixteen joke?
"Happy sweet sixteen, little bro!" Lianjie 'toasts' his bao zi. "Don't get pissed 'cause the car we got you is the wrong shade of pink or anything."
"If it's not candy apple red, I'm never speaking to you again," I joke, I guess I should join in a little with it. It's the only time I'll ever turn sixteen.
Kenichi laughs, "Oh, don't be mad at Rin-kun, Iwas the one who picked out the color! Blame me! I thought you'd like powder puff pink!"
All of us start to laugh as we talk about my "sweet sixteen car" colors.
We joke around for a while as we eat, then play some video games. Takato's been quiet most of the time but…
…He's been smiling a lot. I-I don't know why but he's really happy about going to a bar. I don't see it as a bad thing at all but why is Takato showing this much of a dark side all of a sudden…?
A little after it gets dark is when we get ready to go. Takato is visibly nervous but he calms down once we're out of the apartment, walking down the street to the bar.
Lianjie told us before we left, "Just act normal, no-one's gonna get caught or arrested here, okay? Just relax and get ready to have a fun time. 'Kay? All on me and I want you guys to go crazy! This is my party, too!"
I see the bar up ahead, it's a huge brick building with a blue neon light running along the front. Above the blue line is the name "KAMESATO'S" in bright pink with a green neon tortoise shell pattern above it. There's a line of people outside.
…Great…We'll be in line half the night and then get tossed aside when we finally get to the front.
Takato whispers to me as we approach. "I-I can't believe it…It's really…the Kamesato's," Takato lets out a happy chuckle, he gives me, to my surprise, a quick hug. I stop in my tracks, stunned. "Thank you, Jen! You're the greatest! Thank you!"
"A-Anytime, Takato-kun…" I had no idea this place was that popular.
It's because he took me by surprise! That's all! A-And the cold night air!
Lianjie approaches the front door, bypassing the line and going straight to the…Oh, Gods, there's a bouncer. What the hell kind of bar is this? Is Lianjie gonna try to pay him to let us—
"Li-san, welcome back," the bouncer says. Lianjie's been here that much…?
"Heya, me and three guests," Lianjie says as the bouncer unhooks the green velvet rope for him. We pass right by and walk inside. No problems so far.
As soon as we enter, my eardrums are bombarded with loud music. Gods, what the hell is this? It's also pitch black, except for a bunch of black lights and glow in the dark paint on the walls (AND ON PEOPLE!). The brightest thing in this place is the colored lights bouncing off a disco ball.
I glance around as we walk. I can't even see the dancers on the floor below the entrance, I'm looking down on the dance floor from the railing along the top floor to the left of the doors. I can't make out any detail on anyone. But they're really dancing to the song they've got playing…
…This is a techno bar, right? That means they'd play techno music, right?
I-I know this song, it's an American hit from the, uh, I think 60s or 70s and…It's not techno! Not even close! I-I mean, if it were a techno remix or something, I'd get it but I'm pretty sure this is the original song! So much for 'techno all over the place!' Not that I'm complaining, I mean, I'm not here for the music!
But the tune is catchy and it's one of the few English songs I know some of the lyrics to. I catch myself singing the chorus to myself as Lianjie and Kenichi lead us through to the bar…
"(Y M C A! It's fun at the…Y M C A! Heeey…!)" Ha ha, I haven't heard this in so long…But I know I got the YMCA part right! No idea what the YMCA is but…It's fun to be there, I guess!
Takato and I stay close to Lianjie and Kenichi, but we almost lose them in the crowd at one point. Gods, Lianjie was not kidding about how dark it would be.
I look to Takato, he's actually got a hand on my shoulder so he doesn't lose me. I don't mind at all, I even hold onto his hand to make sure he's still there now and then. I glance over to him now and then, too, he's just looking around the entire place with that huge smile again. I'm glad he's enjoying this so much at least.
Finally, we get to the bar while Kenichi volunteers to grab us a table in the "quiet area," he told us…By SCREAMING, and we still couldn't hear him until we got to the bar! The bar, thankfully, doesn't have any speakers blaring the music at full volume.
I-I don't know how someone could survive music that loud, those dancers have to be deaf!
We walk up to the bar, Lianjie makes the first order, "Three beers and one bottle of some moderately priced whiskey and a shot glass for him," he motions to Takato.
The bartender is a little different from what I'd expect someone to wear at a place Lianjiegoes to. He's neatly dressed, sort of young and clean shaven. His hair is styled nicely. "Is he old enough to be here?" He asks, motioning to Takato.
"Takato, show him your ID." Lianjie says.
Takato nods, reaching into his pocket for his wallet, he pulls out the fake ID and passes it to the bartender. I'm amazed by how casual he is as he does it. Save for that smile but he's toned it down since we got here.
"How come you called him 'Takato?'" The bartender looks to Lianjie. "That's not the name on this ID."
"It's a nickname," Lianjie replies.
"How do you get 'Takato' from Fujita Natsuhito?" …Oh, shit.
"Well, yeah, that's the name his parents gave him but…He obviously looks like a 'Takato,'" Lianjie motions to Takato, whose casual demeanor is fading quickly. "So we call Fujiyama-kun—"
"Fujita." …Oh, double shit!
"—'Nother nickname!" Lianjie says, quickly. "We call…HIM…'Takato,' uh, 'cause he's, well, he's a Takato trapped in a Fujita's body and we want to set that Takato free, damn it! FREEEEE…!" Lianjie shouts, throwing his arms into the air.
…My brother is insane.
And we are so getting arrested. I-I'm torn between grabbing Takato and running or trying to figure out how to ask my Dad for bail money. Unless Lianjie has a back up plan for that.
The bartender looks at the ID, then to Takato, back to the ID, then to all three of us one by one. Finally, he looks to Lianjie. "Five thousand yen."
"Deal," Lianjie nods, reaching for his wallet, he puts money on the bar as the bartender passes Takato's ID back to him and then gets our drinks. Once gets them, we take everything to Kenichi's table.
"What just happened?" I ask as we sit down.
"Eh, when IDs fail, that guy's easy to pay off to look the other way. Don't worry, hush-money's on me," Lianjie says.
"Sorry, Rin-kun, I tried, there's only so much I can do with photoshop and the college ID printer," Kenichi pouts. "I'll pay you back! Promise!"
"Relax, I had extra just in case. And I'm out of college, you're still the starving college student surviving on beer and ramen."
"And how is that different from you Mr. Underpaid Game Programmer?" Kenichi asks.
"I don't buy cheap ramen." Lianjie says as he pours a shot for Takato. "Seriously, Kenichi, if my little brother is to be believed, you will not be able to get him wasted, it's like a super power!"
"How can an excessively high tolerance to alcohol be a super power?" I ask.
"If Lex Luthor liked doing shots, I think this would be a power Superman would wanna have," Kenichi says. "Go, Takato! I wanna see this!"
Takato nods, taking his shot glass in hand. "Thank you for the night at the bar, Rinchei-san."
"Hey, don't be so formal and let's get hammered!"
And the games begin.
I slowly drink two beers as Lianjie and Kenichi marvel at Takato's inability to get drunk. They have him take three shots, rest, do a sobriety test and repeat…Takato's finished a very good portion of that bottle and he's only tipsy. If it were Lianjie, he'd be wasted!
As I watch the "game" after opening my third beer, I study this "techno bar." The music is still really loud but we're in a "quieter" area with a view of the dance floor. They started using lasers and a few strobe lights in each corner of the floor but even with them, I can barely see the people dancing (save for those with fluorescent body paint or jewelry or whatever these people are crazy enough to put on!).
Still, it's a nice place. I like the atmosphere a lot, I never thought I'd like a "techno bar" but…Well, they have a lot of dance remixes of a bunch of old English songs. I think they're "dance remixes," at least. Maybe the original version. I recognize a song now and then. Right now they're playing something by ABBA…SOS, I think. Before that the DJ said they were doing to do a "block of Erasure Hits." And there's this one song I really liked by, um, I think they're…The Pet Shop Boys or something…But, um, it was something about making money, I think, my English is really bad. Either way, I wanna look them up online, maybe download that song.
Yeah, this place is really nice. I like it a lot. I'm happy sipping beers and watching my brother and his friend use my best friend as a drinking toy here. And it is fun trying to get Takato drunk, I forgot about how much fun that is.
You have great taste in bars, Lianjie. Thanks.
"That is freaky," Kenichi says as Takato juggles a few beer pong balls in his hands. Part of a 'drinking game' kit Lianjie brought along. "I mean, seriously, you are like…Alcohol immune or something!"
"It drives Hirokazu-kun insane," Takato says. "He can't handle alcohol and, well, he's the 'manly' type, you know? Gotta be able to hold your liquor or you're not a real man! Otoko shibuki!" He laughs, juggling the balls faster. "Onna ni wa wakaranai sake wo kawashite…Otoko shibuuukiii!" Ha ha ha!
"Hehehe! Can he hold liquor better or worse than Jianliang?" Lianjie smirks.
"Um, compared to Hirokazu, Jen and I have the same tolerance," Takato says, catching both balls in his hands. He takes a bow, Lianjie and Kenichi clap. I join in.
"Drunk off wine coolers, got it," Lianjie laughs. "Heh, I knew a guy like that, too. Couldn't handle a drop!" He chuckles. "Seriously, two sips and he couldn't shut up like he had two beers. Also damned sensitive to caffeine, too, like wiredoff half a soda."
"Kouji-san?" Kenichi asks.
"Nah, not Kouji, it was…Tetsuya!"
"Er…Not…Not that Tetsuya," Lianjie rolls his eyes. "That guy couldn't handle monogamy, not drinking."
"Monogamy?" I ask.
"Er…I'll tell ya later," Lianjie chuckles, standing up. "I gotta go 'wash my hands,' might be a minute. Remember, drinks are on me guys so go nuts. Especially you, Takato, I wanna see what kind of drunk you are!" He waves and walks off.
"Non-existent is my guess," Kenichi says. "Really, Takato-kun, that is amazing."
Takato laughs, "I-I just don't really feel it. I mean, I might feel like, um, I guess Rinchei-san after one or two beers. Nothing like Ruki or Ryou look after this much."
"I can imagine," Kenichi nods, he stands up. "Hate to say it but Rin-kun's on to something. Be right back." He walks off to the restroom.
Actually, he and Lianjie really are "onto something." I've been "holding it" since I finished my first beer. But…
…I finally have some alone time with Takato. Not that I mind Kenichi or Lianjie being with us but for now Takato's sort of their 'drinking game,' I guess, so it's not like things usually are: Lianjie has his friend, I have mine. So, I can wait until Lianjie and Kenichi come back. They're guys, we take…what? Ten seconds in the men's room? Takes us longer to walk over there…Better enjoy this while it lasts.
"Having fun?" I ask, smiling a little. I look to Takato, he's been watching the dancers on the dance floor below us. He's been smiling non-stop. Ever since we got here, he's sort of been looking around the entire bar with this look of awe. Must come from being 16 and actually drinking in the bar. This is really bold for us. Especially for him, so…I guess that's why he's so excited to be here. I mean, Takato's always happy but this is…SUPER happy, I guess!
"A-A lot, actually," Takato nods. "Really, uh, 'interesting' choice of bar. I-I had no idea um…Rinchei and Kenichi were…" He trails off.
Into techno? Well, then again, the place has the lasers and black lights but the music is sort of off for 'techno.' It's techno-ish, I guess. Unless we came on 'oldies night' or something.. I wouldn't call anyof this 'techno.' "Yeah, it's nice though, I really like it."
"Yo-You…really like it…?" Takato asks. "Th-The bar, you mean?"
I nod. "I love the music, I mean. Especially that last song."
"Oh, yeah, I think that was uh…Gods, I-I…I know this, it's an American group, I think…"
"ABBA?" I ask.
"That's it! Um, it was…Waterloo!"
I nod. "Yeah, it's not bad."
"Jen-kun, I…I had no idea," Takato chuckles. "Thank you. So much. I-I really, really appreciate all this." He looks almost like he's going to start tearing up. "I-I'm so happy right now, Jen-kun. I-I really can't believe I'm here."
"Oh, um, anytime," I reply. No idea…? I guess the whole Fake ID thing. I-I was desperate for a way to be alone with Takato, no wayKenta could tag along for this one! "I'm surprised you went with it."
"The IDs were, um, a little unnerving but, well, when you said Kamesato's…I-I couldn't believe it. I thought you were talking about a different bar or something but…When we got here, I-I couldn't believe it!" He smiles. "But, um, how long did you know about…?" He trails off, I think he's blushing.It's hard to tell in this light but, yeah, Takato's definitelyblushing.
Know about…? Kamesato's, right? "Just since Lianjie told me. About a week ago." Speaking of Lianjie, where the hell is he and Kenichi? I thought they'd be back by now!
I might have to go worse than I first realized. Curse my puny bladder…!
"Re-Really? Ha ha, wow! I can't believe Rinchei-san knew..." Why is Takato so impressed by Lianjie knowing about a bar? Takato, you sure you're not a littledrunk? Or am I missing something about bars here?
Crap, um…I-I can't believe this but…That beer's going right through me…Great!
"Um, real quick," I stand up. "I gotta, um…"
Takato nods, chuckling. "I-I'll be here, Jen-kun. And thanks again for the invite here. I really appreciate it, I-I mean…Thank you." Um, I think Takato is starting to get drunk because…AGAIN, why is he making such a big deal about going to a bar? Especially when we had to use (really poorly made according to the bartender, at least) fake IDs!
Takato, do you really have this much of a dark side? I can't believe I never noticed it before!
Well, that dark side is getting me a night alone with him so it's definitelya good thing!
I nod. "A-Anytime, glad you're having fun, Takato-kun." I wave and walk off, watching Takato pour himself a shot with a huge smile on his face, looking back down at the dance floor.
I-I can't believe he likes the taste of that stuff!
I go to the men's room and "wash my hands" in one of the stalls, the urinals were all taken. I take the one in the far back.
Gods, where the hell did—
"I'm sorry again about mentioning…You-know-who. I shouldn't have—" That's Kenichi.
He's still in here?
"I'm over it. Really. And, later, I'll tell you some stories, those will make me feel better." Lianjie?
"Oh…! Can't wait! You're sooo good when it comes to bad ex-stories." What? Lianjie's ex-girlfriend…? When did he…? Must've been a short relationship…
I look at the floor of my stall, there's a small space between the stall and the back wall, too small for another toilet. Sure enough, I see Lianjie and Kenichi's shoes.
What are they doing there…?
"Such a bastard! Doing that to you, he obviously didn't deserve you…" What? Wa-Wait, I thought you were…talking about…?
Kenichi must be drunk.
"Thanks. And…Like I said, don't worry, I didn't lose any sleep over him."
That has to be out of context.
"Thank the Gods. And are you having fun with your brother tonight? You always talk about Jenrya…And honestly for once." The hell…?
"Hey, that lie got us where we are now," Lianjie chuckles. What lie…? About me? Gods, how many beers did they have while I wasn't looking? "And I'm having tons of fun. Jianliang's…Jianliang, y'know? Which always means good times. And I'm glad you could come along…" Wh-What was that noise? That couldn't have been…!
I didn't just hear that sound. I thought I heard a…N-No way! I-I didn't hear that of all things!
If I really heard that…
…Th-Then did I really hear...
…A kiss just now…?
"Shh…Don't worry, Ken-chan. We're alone." …Ken-chan? A-Alone?
"Just a quick one, okay?"
"Okay, three, just because I love you that much."
This can't be what it sounds like.
I zip up, open the door to my stall and turn the corner to the space between the stall and the back wall…
…And Lianjie is holding Kenichi in his arms. Kissing him on the lips.
"Li-Lian…Lianjie…?" I whisper. This…This isn't happening! Of all the things on Earth…This is not happening!
Please, not…Not this…I-I thought I was done with this!
Lianjie breaks the kiss, he's got an oh SHIT expression on his face while Kenichi lets out a quiet gasp, almost stumbling out of Lianjie's arms and into the stall behind him. "Um…Jianliang…Heya! I-I wasn't…expecting to see you here…" Lianjie trails off, nervously. "Uh…Lovely urinals they have here, huh? Gotta love that décor and the wallpaper is just so…Men's room-y…ish…Don't you agree?" He chuckles nervously, Kenichi just groans, putting a hand to his forehead.
I…I don't want to deal with this! Not this!
I'm sorry, Lianjie but…NOT NOW!
"I…I…I need…I need to go…" I turn, my eyes wide. I go straight to the door and back out into the bar. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I was walking out of the bathroom. I'm pretty sure anyone who sees me would think I look like a zombie. That was the look I saw, at least.
I walk past the table Takato's at. "Jen-kun? I-Is something wrong?"
"Yes…I-I'm sorry, Takato but…" I turn to face Takato, my voice is in a higher pitch than normal. "I-I…I need to go…So-Sorry but…I-I need to…get out of here!"
"Wh-What happened? Is everything okay? Rinchei and Kenichi-san are okay, right?" Not…exactly…
"JIANLIANG!" I hear Lianjie's voice. "HE-HEY! WAIT!"
"I…I have to go…I just…have…to go… Sorry, Takato…Se-See you…See you later...Bye…" I-I can't—I can't come up with anything that doesn't sound like I'm an idiot! I reach for my wallet in my pocket, pulling it out. I leave some cash on the table for my beers and walk out without another word.
"Je-Jen? Wh-What's wrong?" I'm sure Takato's watching me the whole time as I walk out, even after Lianjie and Kenichi get to his table. I can practically sense his gaze. And his concern, he sounded worried about me.
Sorry, Takato, but this night of drinking needs to be cut short for me…
…Because no amount of alcohol on Earth is going to make me forget what I just saw…
Of course, being on the street makes me realize a problem with my "get the hell out of there" plan. Lianjie lives across town, I can't walk home and I don't want anyone seeing me even slightly drunk if I can avoid it.
My only option is to go back to Lianjie's and pray to the Gods this isn't really happening.
"Jianliang!" …Gods, no…
I keep walking, I-I can't turn.
"He-Hey, come on! Le-Let's talk…" Lianjie jogs up alongside me, walking with me. "Okay, given the zombie walk, I take it we broke you."
I can't answer, I somehow manage to avoid flinching as he waves a hand over my eyes as we walk down the street we came.
Lianjie lets out an 'impressed' whistle, saying, "Damn…! Finally did it, didn't I? Mom and Dad said I'd break you one of these days when we were kids but I always thought they meant 'no wrestling in the house' by that." He shrugs. "All right, we'll talk at my place."
I barely manage to nod.
We keep quiet for the entire walk, the only noise I hear from Lianjie is the sound of his keys when we reach the door to his apartment. I step inside, kicking off my shoes and going to the couch. I fall into it, sighing.
Lianjie closes his door, not bothering to turn on the lights, the only light source is the oven light in the kitchen, the glow of his computer's screen saver and the red 'sleep mode' light on his PS3 sitting on the coffee table. "Okay, we should talk, I think. About the obvious."
"Obvious…?" I say, wearily, I don't even know why…I know what it is but I guess part of my mind hoping Lianjie will say anything but…
…Those two words…
Please don't say it. Please, please, please don't say it…I don't need to know more about this of all things!
Please, please, Lianjie…Don't say those two words. Say anything, anything except those two words!
"I was making out with another guy in a men's room at a bar, what the hell do you think is the obvious?" Lianjie says, standing in front of my by the coffee table with his arms cross, grinning. He then points his thumb behind himself, adding, "And…You know, I'm not going to lie to you anymore, Jianliang, Kamesato's is a gay bar, not a techno bar. It's where I met my last boyfriend, who's a bastard, but the important thing here is it's pretty damned lax on the drinking age, how the hell else do you think such crappy IDs flew over there? Ken-chan's a genius but he can't photoshop for shit! Anyway, where the hell was I? Oh, yeah, I'm gay, Little Bro."
…You could have just said "I'm gay," and skipped everything before it. That would have made that statement SO MUCH LESS DISTURBING!
That was a gay bar? You…took me to a GAY BAR? Wh-What the hell is wrong with you? I-I...I LIKED THAT PLACE! GODS! Wa-Wait…All that music…
Gods, I like gay music! I really like gay music! Gods help me, I like FUCKING ABBA! WHY DIDN'T I NOTICE THAT?
That means at that dance floor it was…gay guys…dancing together…
I was in a gay bar.
And I liked it.
Oh, shit! Wh-What I…What I said to Takato when he told me…! GODS, I TOLD HIM I LIKED A GAY BAR! Gods,please, please, PLEASE don't…Don't let him ever find out that fact…Gods, we…We talked about how much we liked a gay bar.
I took my best friend to a gay bar. With my brother and his boyfriend…
…When the hell did my life become one endless parade of gay? I-I can't take this, I can't!
I turn my head, tilting it as I face Lianjie. "You took…Takato and I…to a gay bar?" Please, please let that have been a joke. Or we just went on 'gay night' without knowing!
Lianjie shrugs. "Pretty much. I mean, that place is amazing!" He holds his hands up, adding, "Love. It."
"Why?" Does he suspect me? Or does gaydar really exist and…? N-No, because…I'm not…!
…Am I? Tha-That stupid dream! Damn it, Lianjie, why? WHY did this have to happen now? All I wanted was to hang out with Takato WITHOUT KENTA for ONCE and this…THIS has to happen…!
Lianjie moves one hand under his arm, then holds out the other, palm up, shrugging his head to one side, and sort of 'spinning' his free hand as he talks, "We were treating you to drinks, I mean, dude, I kinda wanted to get hammered with you and Takato…As weird as that sounds."
"Wh-Why? Why us? Why a gay bar? Ta-Takato and I are close but…W-We're not…! WE'RE NOT…!" I start stammering like an idiot.
Lianjie can only give me this long, blank stare. He finally says, "Uh…Never…said you were. Kamesato's just doesn't check IDs very closely. I've been goin' there since I was, like, fifteen! They think I'm years older than I really am! Which, now, I take as a sign I'm getting to look that old, so sort of a crappy trade off and…Man, I am still buzzed…" Lianjie rolls his eyes, holding his hands forward about chest level with his fingers spread, then putting one to his forehead and the other to his hip. He's a rambling drunk…Wait…
…This whole time, his…tone of voice, his mannerisms, just what he's talking about like that 'ex-boyfriend, who's a bastard, but'...The fact he's worried about looking OLD…!
Lianjie is a flaming gay drunk!
My brother…is gay! I mean, just looking and listening to him right now! A-And, now that I like about, all those times before…He…He's always like this when drunk!
HOW THE HELL DID I NOT NOTICE THIS BEFORE?
Lianjie speaks after a few moments of silence as this revelation sinks in, "So, what's bugging you?" He clasps his hands together, chest level. "Be honest, Jianliang. I won't be upset, 'kay?"
"I saw you…and Kenichi…doing that…thing…with your lips…"
Lianjie holds back a laugh, barely, "I think in our culture, that 'thing with our lips' is called kissing. What do you they call it in yours?"
"…Lianjie…" I groan, resting my head in my hand and leaning forward.
"Ah, I see. Do you 'Lianjie' your girlfriend on the lips—Shit, that came out sounding a lot dirtier than I thought it would…Awesome!" Lianjie chuckles. Gods, he's reallybuzzed right now, I forgot how quickly Lianjie can down that much beer. Especially with company.
I groan, "I-I'm just going to sleep this off. Beers…went my head. Th-That's all…" I stand going to the spare bedroom. It is taking so much for me not to cry right now. I don't want to because I know what Lianjie might interpret that as.
In fact, everything about how I'm acting right now, now that I realize it. It might be sending him a message I don't want to send.
Gods…I'm an idiot…
Lianjie, I'm sorry, I swear that this…This isn't you, this is me. I-I don't want to talk this subject because I'll end up talking about myself, I-I just know it…Too much booze and…
…This is the last thing I want to even THINK OF! PLEASE, Lianjie, just…Let me go to bed and pretend this was a dream—Oh, GODS! That dream…Please, please, don't let me have that dream again…!
A quiet sob escapes me as I start to walk to the spare bedroom. I-I know Lianjie heard it just from his expression as I glance over to him.
I'm sorry, Lianjie, I'm sorry.
Ca-Calm down. Don't cry. Don't cry. Gods, please, don't let me cry.
Lianjie slides in front of me, holding an arm to his side to block my path and staring forward. "'Sleep this off?' …Two beers? Jianliang, I know you have issues with alcohol tolerance but…Sleeping off two beers? Yeah, I am not going to buy that unless you have some medical documentation showing me you have no liver." Lianjie turns his head to me, I see it out of the corner of my eye but I don't move my head or do anything but stare at the arm about eye level with my head. "I get it, you're…having trouble dealing with, um… Well…Finding out your brother's gay and all so I think we should talk. Just for a little…Please?" He…He won't drop this. I-I know Lianjie and…
...This…This should be addressed.
I need to make it clear I don't hate him or anything like that.
I just don't want the subject of me to come up. I didn't have that much, I-I can keep my mouth shut. Please, please let it take more than three beers for that to happen. Please.
"Okay." I nod, letting out a sigh. I sit back down, Lianjie sits next to me.
"So, um, is this a problem?"
"Not for you," I sigh.
"Not for me? So it's a problem for you?"
"Not you, but…" Damned alcohol, no! I-I just know it, I'll say something I'll regret. That is if I already haven't!
I'm sorry, Lianjie, it's just better than I don't say anything right now!
I go silent, letting out a sharp sigh.
"I-I can't!" I whisper. "Not me." Why did I say that? Keep your mouth shut, stupid!
"Sorry, bro. I-I didn't know you'd—" NO! Lianjie, it's not you! I-I don't have much of a problem with you, it's me.
"It's not you!" I shout. "I-I…I don't…THIS ISN'T SOMETHING I WANT TO THINK ABOUT RIGHT NOW!"
"Why not? 'Cause of what you saw or…?"
"It's. Not. You." I repeat, staring down at the floor.
"Not me? What? I mean, I-I don't get it," Lianjie lets out a chuckle.
"It's not you," Please, stop asking more questions.
"Is it Kenichi? I mean, what, do you think I picked out a cute boyfriend or—"
"NO!" I turn to him only long enough to shout, then turn back to the floor.
I regret yelling at him like that but…
…I don't want to think about this!
"Wow." Lianjie chuckles. "O-Okay, Jianliang, how 'bout we just forget anything happened?" He gets up, going to his kitchen. "Come here." To my surprise, he's smiling. I-I thought he'd be upset for me yelling at him like that but…
…Lianjie's being Lianjie, I guess.
"Just do it, please? For your oh-so-loving big brother?"
I sigh, standing, I go into the kitchen. Lianjie's at the lone table in the middle of the room. There's two glasses and a bottle on it. It's a Chinese liqueur called Hua Tuo.
"What is this?"
"Don't you remember?" Lianjie begins, sitting down at the table. "Kamesato's super-mega-sexy geisha strippers had a flat tire and couldn't make it to the bar. You and your girlfriend um, whatever she may look like in your dreams—" He stops as I have a sudden pained expression on my face and groan at the word 'dreams.' "—or nightmares," he shrugs, starting to open the bottle of Hua Tuo, "Anyway, you and her were with me and…Uh…Crap…Um… Ziyi Zhang! She was my date, 'cause, well, what sexy actress doesn't—""
"What?" Is he serious—No, he's not serious but…Is he serious? Ziyi Zhang?
"What? What's wrong?"
"Ziyi Zhang? From Crouching Tiger?"
"And Memoirs of a Geisha!" Lianjie says, pointing the bottle at me for a moment, then goes to pouring its contents into each glass. "Sorry, couldn't think of any other sexy actresses except her for some reason. Anyway, your girlfriend and Ziyi were pissedand so they decided to leave 'cause…They need to for the rest of this to make sense!" This makes sense? "Anyway, we're left alone at Kamesato's Kamesexy Girls Strip Club with their regular topless waitresses and no sexy Geisha strippers or girlfriends—"
"Why would we take our girlfriends to a strip club?" Lianjie, seriously I know you're drunk but…
…ARE YOU HIGH? Gods, don't tell me you two popped something before…! AUGH!
Lianjie rolls his eyes, letting out a sigh. "Jianliang, I am trying to hetero up this story as much as freakin' possible for you! Could you stop pointing out logical fallacies and just humor me here?"
I nod. "Sorry. Go on." Lianjie is extra insane tonight, about five beers usually does that...
"Okay, so, our girlfriends leave us alone. Now, as you know, we're both manly men who don't like strip clubs without strippers so I said, 'Oh, manly brother of mine, I have some really good hard liquor at my place. Let's get hammered, like real men! We'll save money on drinks here and medical bills from tripping over our own two feet on the way home. And by the way, I am completely not gay and love big breasted women just half a much as I love playing Dynasty Warriors—And, yes, I realize how completely nerdy that sounds but you actually know how much I really love that game and, in reality, that's sorta true! Now,certain kinds of guys on the other hand…Eh, about three quarters to nine tenths give or take a fraction—Except Kenichi, he's twice as much as Dynasty Warriors Four, ninety-five percent as much as Dynasty Warriors Three and—Err…Wait, gaying it up again," No shit! "Sorry…Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, we pay for our drinks and on the way to the door, make out with two of the waitresses who are madly in love with us because they know of our super manliness," He holds his arms open as wide as he can, shouting, "AND OUR HUUUUUUGE—"
"I GET IT! I GET IT!" I shout. GODS, Lianjie…!
"—I was gonna say bank accounts," Lianjie smirks. Like Hell you were, Lianjie!
I sigh, "I-I get what you're doing. You want to drink and, what, let me forget this? Get hung over? What?"
"I wanna drink 'cause you're my little brother and I just wanna have some fun tonight, okay?" Lianjie sets the other filled shot glass close to the opposite chair. "Drink up. What happened at the bar is what I just described, right down to your sexy nightmare girlfriend. Seriously, what was that look about?"
I sit down. "I-I really don't want to talk about it," I pick up my shot glass, taking a sip of the contents, I've smelled Hua Tuo before but this is my first time tasting it. It smells very sweet and the taste.
It has a kick to it, even from that sip. Wo-Wow! I-I think Takato could get drunk off this!
I take another sip. It's not bad, even with the kick.
"Okay, not to bring up the one thing I've done that may mentally scar you for life, but…I'm the gay one and I'm telling you to THROW DOWN THAT SHOT!" He rolls his eyes. "Gods, seriously, Jianliang, I-I'm amazed you didn't order milk in a dirty glass at some point before you left. Please, Jianliang, I'm worried about you in situations where Takato is the manlier one between you! Really worried."
"…Sorry…" I throw down the shot. It's very, very sweet and, actually, it goes down smoothly. But I-I can't believe the kick to this stuff! I-I mean, it's like as soon as it touches your tongue, it goes straight to your head. I know, that's impossible but…
…This shit is strong!
"Round two! Let's get our drink on, bro!" Lianjie pours two more shots.
This might be fun, I guess. And maybe Hua Tuo will help me forget about everything. Maybe enough of it'll make me pass out and wake up hours later without dreaming…
…A massive hangover is a small price to pay for that right now. No dreams.
We throw down about five shots each when the front door opens.
Kenichi steps into the apartment. He lets out a nervous cough, looking to us briefly before motioning back to the door. "Hey, um, Rin-chan…I-I got Takato to the train for you, he's…Crap, I can't believehow sober he is for how much he drank."
"Freaky, huh? Last guy on EARTH you'd ever suspect, right?" Lianjie downs his shot, I just stare forward at Kenichi in shock as a realization hits me…
…Gods…He's…He's living with his boyfriend… He and Kenichi live together as a couple! That…That just dawned on me... Th-This explains why Lianjie was so excited to have Kenichi move in. It was pretty soon after they met, too.
I-I can't believe I've been blind to all this.
"So, um, Jenrya, did you and Rin-chan…talk?" Kenichi asks, nervously smiling and standing at the door. He looks back to it for a second, as if he's plotting an escape route.
"Yeah, funny thing. Jianliang's freaking outover it—"
"N-No! It's…It's not you!" I shout, I-I know my attitude before was bad but Lianjie, this isn't about you! I-I just don't like this subject right now!
"—And he does that. Watch, it's like that Pavlov guy you told me about!" Lianjie says. "Seriously!"
"I doubt this will be anything like Pavlov but go on," Kenichi says with a nod.
Lianjie turns to me, "It's because I'm gay, isn't it?"
"No," I say, shaking my head.
"Oh, my brother hates me because I'm gay!"
"It's not that," I roll my eyes. I know he's joking but I-I want to make it clear to him: This is not because he's gay! That fact doesn't help me very much right now, but I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH LIANJIE!
"Why, Jianliang? Why do you hate me? I had no control over this! It's not a choice, please understand! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Don't hate me, bro! Don't…hate…me…!" Lianjie leans forward into the table, burying his face in his arms.
"I don't hate you for being gay. I have other, much better reasons," I say, dryly as Lianjie starts 'crying.'
Lianjie lifts his head up, looking to Kenichi. "See? He denies it every time! The dog and the bell!"
"That would be if we could get him to salivate whenever you say 'gay,' Rin-chan. And making him do that would open up a whole new set of serious psychological problems." Kenichi rolls his eyes, shaking his head. "This is just denial that he's upset over…well…your secret." I am NOT!
"Okay, okay, but the funny thing is I believe him," Lianjie says with a smile. What?
"What?" Kenichi asks.
"I know my little bro, if he says he doesn't have a problem with us, he doesn't have a problem. There's more here," Lianjie says. Gods, no! A-At least he knows I don't hate him but…! Lianjie, please, no! "Give him a session, would ya?"
"Session?" I ask. Looking to Lianjie and then Kenichi.
Lianjie turns to me. "Oh, um, another thing I didn't tell you…Kenichi takes Psych in college, he's pretty good. He figured out I had a thing for him by…Uh…" He looks to Kenichi. "…Displaying?"
"Projecting, Rin-chan," Kenichi says.
"Yeah, I was projecting my, uh…"
"…Raging gayness," Kenichi chuckles.
"Ken-chan, you're the one who sets off my smoke alarm almost daily, don't even joke about that!"
"Sorry," Kenichi chuckles. "He was, um…Should I tell him?"
"Uh, just the gist of it…" Lianjie, why do you have that 'I didn't do anything bad' look you have when you do something REALLY bad?
"Lianjie was projecting his feelings for me through—Er, well, that's not important…" Coming from someone close to Lianjie, those are never good words. "But he was projecting his situation and longtime feelings for me on someone else."
"Yeah, so, he figured it out and we…Sorta, kinda, maybe, SERIOUSLY made out," Lianjie says with a huge grin…Did you have to add that last detail? And sound so proud of it? "Anyway, Kenichi takes Psych and I got a feeling whatever's freaking you out isn't the fact I'm gay. Which, by the way, is a huge relief for me and I will inquire you later on how you think Mom and Dad will take the news next Sunday, but what's important is this," Lianjie smirks, he raises his near empty bottle of Hua Tuo. "You've got some issues, he takes psych and I know for a fact when you have enough hard liquor in you, you can't shut up." He puts the bottle down on the table with a little force, grinning.
…You son of a bitch—Wait…You're my brother…Sorry, Mom.
"I don't have issues," I reply, frowning. "A-And that won't work! I-I can keep my mouth shut!"
"Yeah, who's the one who let slip his favorite hentai site address after we each snuck a Sapporo from Dad that one time?"
"You asked me for it," I mutter. After that I had trouble looking Lianjie in the eye for a long time. Ugh, I hate alcohol!
"You're right, I owe some really good Yaoi links for that." NO! NO YOU DO NOT!
I groan. "Lianjie…"
"Come on! He's great! He's taken Psych for three years! He's a regular Simon!"
"…Simon?" Kenichi asks.
"Yeah, Simon Freud."
"It's Sigmund Freud, Rin-chan. SIG-MUND!" Kenichi groans, rolling his eyes. "I swear to the Gods, Rinchei, I am not dating you for your brains!"
"Starts with an S! C'mon!" Lianjie rolls his eyes. "And we both know you're dating me for my charm."
"You don't know what that word means, do you?"
"Can we focus on him?" Lianjie mutters, pointing to me. "Seriously, Jianliang, I've seen you freak out and I've seen you drunk and I've seen you freak out is weird, even for you. Kenichi can help, trust me. I got a problem, he fixes it. He's the best at this sorta thing!"
Kenichi finally walks over to our table, grabbing Lianjie's computer desk chair on his way to sit on. Lianjie gets up, I start to as well but he puts a hand on my shoulder and sits me back down. "Lianjie—"
"Sit, it's time for some psychoanal-probing!" …Did you really just say that?
"Rin-chan, someone dealing with issues like this doesn't need anal probing jokes," Kenichi rolls his eyes. "Jenrya, I want you to know whatever you say will stay between the three of us. Rin-chan may often be an inconsiderate ass—"
"—Love you, too, Ken-chan!"
"—But I know, for people he cares about, he'd never betray their trust. And I'm going to one day have to abide by Doctor-Patient confidentiality, so I can'ttell anyone."
"And if you want, Jianliang, I can go out for some pizza or something," Lianjie says. "Just leave you two."
"Fine," I nod. "Could we be alone?"
"Deal," Lianjie nods. "I'll be back!" He downs the last of his Hua Tuo and walks out the door. Then comes back after about ten seconds to put his shoes on. "Sorry, sorry! I'm drunk, I'm drunk!" He mutters, slipping his shoes on. He opens the door, stepping into the hall. "Be back later! Cure him, Simon Freud!"
Kenichi sighs turning to me after Lianjie leaves. "Before we begin, I have a question about Rin-chan's childhood you may be able to shed some light on for me."
I nod. "Wh-What is it?"
"Was he dropped on his head as a baby? Be honest, Jen."
"Not to my knowledge but…" …Jialing, Xiaochun and I theorize…
"It would make sense, right?" Kenichi smirks, I nod. "All right, you wanna do this here or move to the couch like the classic psychiatrist session?"
"Couch, I guess," I say. "I-I need to lay down, anyway…" That Hua Tuo had one hellof a kick!
"Need a bucket? I know that is some really strong stuff, even though it's kinda weak in terms of alcohol. What the hell is in that stuff?" Kenichi looks at the bottle as I go to the couch. He studies it for about a minute or so, I watch him from the couch. Finally, he says, "This would be a hell of a lot easier if I could read Chinese. I'll ask Rin-chan later." He gets up and goes to the chair off to the side of Lianjie's coffee table. I lay on the couch.
I can't believe I'm doing this.
"Tell me about your childhood," Kenichi says.
"Nah," Kenichi shakes his head. "Just tell me what's bothering you. Is it, well, the obvious? The fact you walked in on your older brother and I, well, making out in the men's room at a gay—Er…Technobar—"
"He told me, Kenichi. He told me it was a…a gay bar…" I let out a sigh. I can't believe I went to a gay bar.
"And how does that make you feel?"
"Nervous?" Kenichi asks. "Because you were around a bunch of gay guys? I take it you don't approve of your brother—"
"I don't have a problem with…you or Lianjie! It's…It's not that! It's.,.It's my problem—I mean…I-I have…!" I groan. I-I can't believe I'm doing this but…
…Damn it, Lianjie's right…
I can't shut up after I have too much. As much as I don't want to talk about this, my mouth is going to say something!
"Your problem? What is it?"
"A few months ago, I had a dream," I say. "And I didn't like it."
"Ah, you had…Ha ha ha," Kenichi chuckles. "You had a gay dream, right?"
"Yes." It's not funny…
"Jenrya, everyone has at least one gay dream. It's normal, you're not gay—"
"How many people have recurring gay dreams?" I reply, immediately regretting what I just said. I also immediately try to deny it. "I-I mean, I don't—"
"Okay, now we're onto something," Kenichi nods. "What happens?"
I look away, then back to Kenichi. "You swear this doesn't leave here and you won't tell Lianjie?"
"I swear, you can tell him but I can't," Kenichi says. "Trust me, Jen, I'm a professional student and I have at least enough understanding to help you out here. Actually, you should know, I shouldn't be doing this. Students aren't allowed to do this, I can get in a huge amount of trouble for so much as asking you any of this. So you have a secret that I want you to keep at all costs, too. That make us fair?"
"Okay," I nod.
"First, how often do you have this dream?"
"I-I first had it a few months ago. I thought just what you said, 'everyone has a gay dream,' I ignored it. But I had it again about a week later. It was once a week for a while then…Almost every night for the past few weeks." I sigh. "That's why I freaked out, I don't want to be reminded of this!"
"Okay, just calm down. Tell me what happens in the dream."
"Do I have to?" I look to Kenichi.
"You don't have to tell me anything, but it might help."
I sigh, "O-Okay…I-I…I'm in…I'm in this…This sort of desert canyon. Alone. There's an 'ark' that was supposed to take me and all my friends with it. But I'm left behind, I missed it. And then I start crying, I think because I'm alone. And as I cry, I feel two hands on my shoulders. They pull me up, I turn and…He's there…"
"Who is 'he?' Anyone you know or just someone your dream created?"
"Some-Someone I know," I swallow, breathing heavily. Gods, please, let this all be bad dream.
"Okay, keep going." I'm surprised he didn't ask who it was. I'm also glad because I don't want to answer that.
Takato…I-I dream…about Takato…
"He pulls me up and…H-He was onthe ark when it left, I know this. He gave up going home to be with me. And then I kiss him. He kisses back and…" I turn red. "Ca-Can I, uh, stop here?"
"Ah, that kind of gay dream? Love em!"Kenichi smirks. "Does anything happen after 'that' part?"
"Th-They're not like that!" …Most of the time…Gods, the first time that happened…
I almost woke up screaming! Takato can never know I-I…DREAMED ABOUT THAT!
"I believe you…" Kenichi's tone contradicts that statement but I ignore it. "But if it isn't that then, come on, you can tell me, Jen. You just admitted to the gay part."
I sigh, "We go off in that world, I usually wake up while we're exploring it together. I'm happy the whole time, we're usually holding hands. But they all end the same way if I dream long enough…He tells me he loves me and…I-I don't know what to say. I literally just can't say anything. I'm afraid he'll run away, thinking I hate him or that I don't love him back," Lo-Love him back? Did I…? Did I really just say that? I keep going, "and…He just hugs me and keeps repeating 'I love you, Jen' over and over. And that's about the time I usually wake up."
"I see," Kenichi nods. "Is it Takato?"
"Is Takato who you dream about?" …Damn it…
"How did you know?"
"Rin-chan told me stories about your 'adventure' all those years ago," Kenichi smirks. "You told him about how worried you were that the 'ark' would leave Takato in that other world, abandoned by his friends who couldn't do anything to save him. Obviously by putting yourself in his place, you're afraid of your friends or, namely, Takato abandoning you."
"I guess a little," I sigh. "Ta-Takato's been hanging around with Kenta a lot lately. More than…ever! I guess I'm jealous." That's around the time the dreams began. "…I…I'm…'the same' as you and Lianjie…Aren't I?" I just can't bring myself to say 'those two words.'
"You don't need to be Sigmund Freud to figure out the meaning behind that dream, Jenrya. You're just in serious denial. And just made a huge case for 'it's genetic,' when you throw Rin-chan into this. Think your parents'll handle it well?"
I shrug. "I-I don't know how they'd take it." Two gay sons. I-I really hope Dad wasn't hoping for a ton of grandkids. At least, biological grandkids.
Not that I have a chance with Takato…
"Well, this, ah, Kenta, who is he?"
"A friend of ours, he usually hangs out with this guy, Hirokazu, who's…He's like Lianjie, except replace video games with sports like skateboarding and stuff. He jokes around a lot, he's sort of, ah…"
"Pretty much," I say with a shrug. "And Kenta's his opposite, he's smarter, quieter and less of an ass. And he and Takato have been spending a lot of time together. I-I keep hearing 'Kenta and I did this,' 'Kenta and I did that,' and sometimes it's obvious he doesn't want me with him and Kenta…"Takato, please don't tell me I've been replaced or something like that. Please.
Gods, I-I'm in love with him. I'm in love with Takato. Damn it, I-I should've known taking him with us was a bad did I agree to any of this? Not just talking to Kenichi but those stupid IDs and that bar! WHY?
Because I was that desperate to be with Takato.
"So, you're afraid of Takato abandoning you, but think of how that dream ends…"
"What do you mean?"
"Why do you think you can't say you love him back? And, for that matter, why do you think he keeps saying 'I love you?'" Kenichi asks.
I shrug. "I-I want him to say 'I love you,' maybe?" I-I can't believe I just said that. "I-I…I'm…I'm in love with him," I sigh, "I-I'm in love with Takato." I sit up, turning to face the coffee table and lean forward with my arms on my knees. "…I'm gay…"
"I think we've established that," Kenichi nods. "There's nothing to be upset about, Jenrya. Your brother has no problem with it."
"Rin-chan told me, he hides it but when he realized he liked other guys, he said 'I figured there were upsides – Like shirts and skins games, you don't see women doing that, now, do ya?' Rin-chan completely accepted it!"
"Lianjie? Without problems Lianjie said 'Cool, I'm gay?' My brother actually said that?"
Kenichi nods. "Has he tiptoed around it since you got home?"
"No, if anything he's bold about it. I-I chalked it up to the liquor."
"Eh, might be some of it but Rin-chan's gay and has no qualms about it. He's afraid of coming out but that's a different ball game. Why does this scare you so much?"
"I…I don't want to be gay. Sorry, but I don't."
"I felt the same until I met Rin-chan. I swear to the Gods, if I knew he was gay when he left for college, I'd have tried harder to stay in touch and never stopped applying to his school. I really liked him but I was afraid to say it, so…I sorta, just enjoyed being around him and…Jen, admit it, you've checked Takato out. C'mon, admit it…"
"Er…!" I feel my face turn red. "In retrospect…A little. Maybe. Sometimes. Rarely." I mutter. Gods, I think I do sometimes. Not just 'look at that ass' but, well, things about him that I like.
Takato has a smile I really like. Just this happy smile, he always has it and it always puts me in a good mood to see him smile. I-I really like that smile.
As for his, um…Body…
…I-I may have…peeked a few times that time we went to a hot spring with Hirokazu, Kenta and Ryou. I-I just chalked it up as 'everyone is probably going to sneak a peek. It's just out of curiosity.' Hell, Hirokazu's admitted to doing it!
Though, um, I'm so glad I was sitting down at the time…
"All the time with Rin-chan, he did the same to me, he says," Kenichi chuckles. "So-Sorry, probably don't wanna hear that about your brother but…Well, I was happy being close to Rin-chan and my feelings for him were 'okay,' they weren't as big of a problem when we were together. I was afraid to tell him or anyone else but, well, the day I realized he was gay…"
"How did he 'project' that, exactly?"
"Um, I'll let him tell you," Kenichi laughs, nervously. "Trust me, you have to hear it from him."
I nod. "So, what should I do?"
"I think you should come to terms with your orientation, first," Kenichi says. "I'd suggest talking to Rin-chan."
"No…I-I can't…He's my brother, I mean...!"
"Exactly, he's your brother and, trust me, he may have skipped a lot of the anxieties but Rin-chan knows what you're going through and can help. He knows you better than I ever will, too. You're in good hands."
I take a deep breath, sighing loudly. "Thanks, Kenichi-san."
"Anytime," Kenichi smiles. "Want a beer or anything while we wait for those pizzas?"
"No, thanks, I'd rather have a soda. Something with caffeine so I can be somewhat sober when he gets back." I hate getting drunk like this, as often as I do…I hate being this drunk!
But getting drunk with Lianjie is fun. We always joke around and play games. Things like this never come up, it's just my brother and I playing video games like when we were kids…
…I miss those days. None of this 'I'm in love with Takato' crap! Just…the fun of being a kid, not having to worry about things like this. Lianjie reminds me of those days.
"Hold on," Kenichi gets up and goes to the kitchen, he comes back with a couple ramune jolts and passes both of them to me. "Drink up, they'll sober you up for talking to Rinchei."
I nod. "You're good at analyzing people, right?"
"Let's just say Takato's…different from most people. And not just with his amazing ability to outdrink an elephant," Kenichi says. "And from how he hangs around you, he's obviously your best friend. Rin-chan's told me a lot about the two of you, let's say."
I nod. I knew it. No chance.
No chance at all.
Kenichi, you and Lianjie are so lucky. I…I think I can at least say this…
After more than an hour, the door opens. Lianjie comes in with three pizzas boxes in one hand. "Sorry it took so long, I dropped the first three down a storm drain on the way back the first time."
"You did buy new ones, right?" Kenichi asks, he and I are sitting at the 'dining room' table in the kitchen.
Lianjie walks to Kenichi and drops a pizza box in front of him. "Hope ya like sewer gator!" He puts a box in front of me. "I got mutant mole man meat for you."
"Mole man? Isn't that…cannibalism?" I ask.
"They're fifty-one percent mole. So, technically, no. You're safe." Lianjie sits at his desk chair with his box. "And for me…Anchovies!" He opens his box.
"And not a single kiss on the lips until I see you brush for five straight minutes! Augh!" Kenichi lets out the gayest scream I've ever heard, looking down at my brother's pizza in horror. "How can you eat those things?" Kenichi gives Lianjie a disgusted look. I'm sure I have a similar look, just looking at those things…
"They're good with pineapple," Lianjie smirks.
I open my pizza box, it's my usual favorite: Olive. Kenichi's is pepperoni. "Thanks for the late dinner, Lianjie." I say.
"You guys have your psychiatric session?" Lianjie asks.
"Ye-Yeah. I-I need to talk to you…later…" I whisper, lowering my head. I-I feel like I'm going to cry again. Why the hell is this so scary? And if it's so scary, how the hell did Lianjie of all people face this without fear?
Kenichi stands up. "Um, Rin-chan, I'm going to take my pizza in the bedroom. Jenrya really needs a talk. I'll let you two have some privacy."
"Thanks, Ken-chan," Lianjie smiles. Kenichi gives him a kiss on the cheek. I-I can't believe I just saw that…
…Or the fact that my brother slapped his ass as he walked by.
"Had to do it, Ken-chan!" Lianjie smirks. Kenichi goes to the spare bedroom. "Okay, what's going on?"
"You're gay," I say. "And I have no problem with that. I-I mean it, Lianjie…I'm sorry for how I reacted but it's…It's because…" I start hyperventilating, I-I can't believe I'm really about to say this…Gods, let this be a dream and I'm about to wake up. Please. I'd give anything for this to be a dream right now...
I feel a hand on my shoulder, Lianjie rolls his desk chair closer to me, saying, "Jianliang, whatever it is, just relax. You can tell me, okay? And if it really is some sort of problem you have with the whole me and Kenichi situation, go ahead, I wanna know. Okay?"
"It's really not, I-I swear," I swallow. I slide my pizza box aside and rest one arm on the table, leaning my forehead into my hand. "I'm gay, too." I wait for the 'holy shit' or some sort of shocked response from Lianjie…
"Hm, that would explain a lot," Lianjie says. …That's it? I-I was…expecting a lot more than that! Some actual surprise would actually make me feel better! Please don't tell me I'm obvious or something!
"Well, um, Jianliang, I, ah…You know how Kenichi figured out I was gay because I was 'projecting?'" Lianjie asks. I nod. "Projecting is, um, I think he said it's where I take what I'm afraid of or dealing with or whatever and put it on someone else. And, um, I sorta…"
"Okay, it was sort of a theory of mine at the time but when I wanted to know if Ken-chan would have an 'issue' with me…Well, the 'topic' came up while we were playing games. I said 'you know, I think my brother is in love with his friend, Takato.'" …You didn't…
Gods, please tell me you…You didn't really have a theory about me…!
"You're joking, right?"
"No, sorry…I really didn't think you'd ever find out but, yeah, um, I claimed you were gay as an icebreaker, I guess. And, hey, I sort of thought you, I dunno had some kind of thing for him. I mean, you two are a lot like Kenichi and I were back when we were your age. But, with Kenichi, I really upped the gay crush factor and…A lot of it really was my feelings for him."
"And he figured out you were 'projecting' instead of just outting me?" I frown.
"So-Sorry, but…Yeah, not from that, though."
"The fact that, um, whenever I disagreed with him as a kid, like over a game, I'd say, 'Jianliang thinks it sucks' and give my reasons for thinking it sucked. Or if I 'borrowed' something from him, 'I'll see if Jianliang stole it and kick his ass for you,' stuff like that."
"Really?" I roll my eyes. My whole life I've been Lianjie's scapegoat…Well, that's no different from when we were kids and 'Jianliang must've done it, Mom!'
"Yeah, he said 'Rinchei, I know what you're trying to tell me. Because if I didn't actually meet your brother at one point in my life, I would swear to the Gods themselves you made him up!'" He says in this really gay tone, exaggerating Kenichi's voice. "So, after I learned to never lie to a psychology major, we talked and…Made out after that."
"I thought you said you had a boyfriend before you met Kenichi again…Why would you hide it from Kenichi if you've already had a boyfriend?"
"I've been with other guys but…I didn't wanna lose my best friend, you know?" Lianjie shrugs. "And Kenichi's my third."
"Yeah, one guy before college, last boyfriend during and Kenichi since we met up again," Lianjie says.
"Before college, while you still lived at home?" I ask. "When?"
"Last couple years of high school, Kouji."
"You and Kouji?" Kouji was always coming over, they'd play games or something but…I-I didn't know they were…!
"Never suspected a thing, right?" Lianjie smirks. "Ended with Kouji's family finding out about him and they wouldn't let any of his 'corrupted friends' near him. They didn't know about me or anyone else, just him…And the last guy, Tetsuya, um, I just really hate him, let's leave it at that…" Lianjie shrugs. "Then Kenichi...My best friend growing up…My 'Takato,' y'know?"
"Yeah," I nod. "You two were like we were, just replace video games with Digimon…"
"Uh, no we didn't get sucked into a Final Fantasy game like you two did," Lianjie says. "So, what was freaking you out earlier?"
"I've been dreaming about Takato a lot and I just…I didn't want to think of 'gay' right now."
"But you have no problem being around Takato. Even when you're dreaming about him? Nasty or clean dreams?"
"Both." Lianjie, don't grin like that, please."And I…I'm happier than I am anxious when I'm with him."
"So you love him?"
I nod. "Ye-Yeah. I-I think…I do."
"Awesome," Lianjie grins.
"C'mon, Jianliang, love is awesome…Confess."
"How 'bout this," Lianjie begins, he gets up going to his fridge. "Tell Takato about me and Kenichi. You just walked out without talking to him, right?"
"More or less, I-I didn't tell him why I was leaving," I feel bad about that but…I-I just had to get out of that bar!
That gay bar!
"Then tell him you had to go 'cause you were freaked out seeing your brother making out with his best friend, even tell him we tricked you two into going to a gay bar," Lianjie says, get gets two beers. He sets one down in front of me and opens his own. "Sorta the truth. Or just straight up confess, I mean, Takato! He's TAKATO!" He holds up the other beer to me.
"N-No, thanks," I shake my head. "If I wake up tomorrow, it'll be a miracle…"
"Then what've you got to lose?" Lianjie smirks, opening my beer. "Anyway, tell Takato about us and if he freaks out, he doesn't have to know about you but he's Takato, Jianliang, I can't see Takato abandoning youof all people."
"He's been hanging out with Kenta a lot," I whisper. "I'm worried he has."
"Jealous, I take it?"
"I guess a little," I shrug. "I mean, this was the first time in a while it was, sort of, just Takato and I. No Kenta. Not that I don't like Kenta but lately, Takato can't see me because he's 'got plans with Kenta' or I can't be alone with just Takato. So, when you offered to make a couple more IDs I only wanted one. That way it'd be just Takato and I."
"Offer's still open for the third, Kenichi can do it," Lianjie says.
"I-I'll think about it, but I don't know too many friends of mine who'd want to go to a gay bar." I shrug. "I don't even know how Takatois going to take it…"
"Yeah, well, don't worry about it. Right now, we got some beer, we got pizza, we've got all we need. Let's just have fun!"
I nod. "Wanna let Kenichi back into the party?"
Lianjie chuckles, getting up. "Oh, yes, I do!" He goes to the spare bedroom door, knocking on it. "Hey, get your sweet ass out here!"
I can't believe I just heard that from my brother!
…This is going to take some getting used to…
Kenichi comes back out with Lianjie, Lianjie gets him a beer. "So, issues resolved? We all one big happy family?"
Lianjie and I nod, Lianjie adds to it by wrapping one arm around me, saying, "Brothers for life!"
"Thank the Gods." Kenichi smiles.
We all eat and drink together. I finally go to bed around two-thirty in the morning. I take my usual bed in the spare bedroom, Lianjie went to his room and Kenichi fell asleep on the couch, playing Mario Kart 64.
I-I'm less hungover than I thought I'd be…but…
…That's only because I thought I'd die in the night…
Gods, my head is killing me…
Lianjie…Please be awake and coherent enough to make that mega hangover cure of yours…
Gods, I am never drinking again.
I think that's the…fifteenth time I've woken up saying that...Ugh… Damn it, and I left the bar early!
I stumble into the living room, Kenichi's not on the couch…I guess he went somewhere else for the night. I use the wall as something to lean against as I go to Lianjie's bedroom. I open the door, whispering, "Lianjie—" OH GODS!
…Kenichi spent the night…
I close the door, FAST! Hopefully not too loudly to where it wakes them but…
They were both mostly covered, thank the Gods, but…I-I never thought I'd see my brother in bed and being cuddled by another male..!
…I will admit, I agree with Lianjie when it comes to Kenichi's ass—AUGH! I CAN'T BELIEVE I JUST THOUGHT THAT!
Or saw Kenichi's ass...!
And, suddenly, I realize: Kenichi never took the spare bedroom, did he? That explains why he 'moved out all his stuff' for my visit…Oh, GODS, that means…!
…I-I need to sit down…
I-I didn't need to know that about you two, Lianjie…I really didn't.
I go to the kitchen and get a Ramune JOLT, I sip it and hope it stays down. Ugh, I actually feel that little bit of soda sitting in my stomach, like it's the only thing in there!
After a few minutes, Lianjie and Kenichi come out of the bedroom. Fully clothed, thankfully. Both look a little embarrassed…
"Hey, um, Little Bro," Lianjie chuckles, nervously.
"I thought Kenichi left somewhere, sorry, I'll…I'll knock next time…" I say, moaning. "Can you make that hangover sludge?"
"Sure thing," Lianjie nods. "Ken-chan, you want some?"
"For my head, definitely, Rin-chan," Kenichi sits down next to me. "Feeling emotionally better at least? With the whole Takato thing, I mean."
…Oh, shit…It…It just dawned on me…
…Last night, I came out. I-I told my brother I was gay! I-I told his boyfriend I was gay—Which makes me wonder why I'm suddenly so anxious, but…Shit…I-I'm out! I'm gay! They know! I KNOW!
Shit! Shit! Shit!
"Ye-Yeah. Sorry again for how I reacted," I say. I look to both Kenichi and Lianjie. "Did I…really tell you two…?"
"Yeah, little bro, we know you're a cut sleeve, too," Lianjie smirks. "Secret's safe with us but, like I said, out us to Takato and…just find out what he'd think." Lianjie's pulling a ton of stuff out of his fridge and cupboards. I actually have to turn away as I realize, all of that stuff is ingredients for his hangover remedy…Lianjie always says 'the less you know of what's in it – the better.'
"That's not a bad idea," Kenichi says. "I don't mind, Jenrya. And to be honest, Takato is, um…"
"Yeah, Takato's sorta fruity," Lianjie says. "Seriously, if he complains about that, I'd be shocked! Takato Matsuda has no right to be homophobic!"
"I should probably call him and apologize for running out like that," I say.
"Eh, we didn't tell him what happened but…When we asked him where you went, he said you just 'had to go,'" Lianjie explains, I'm focusing on the label of my soda to avoid looking at what he's pouring into his blender. "Ken-chan, what was the excuse you gave him?"
"Jenrya got a shock in the men's room that may have caused severe psychological trauma and that he needed to rest," Kenichi says.
"In those exact words?" Lianjie asks, just before turning on his blender. I wince and cover my ears, the sound is like a chainsaw cutting into my brain!
After a few pulses, Lianjie stops and Kenichi answers, "Not exactly but that's what it translated into! Takato said 'he understood' and he was actually really worried about you, Jenrya. I claimed I didn't know whatfreaked you out but I had to talk him out of running back to Rin-chan's place to make sure you were okay, I told him you were in good hands and you'd be okay after a day or two."
"How 'drunk' was he?" I ask.
"Barely buzzed," Lianjie says. "I saw as we walked out. That is FREAKY!"
"Totally, Rin-chan, I have never seen anything like that!" Kenichi says. "I agree, it has to be a super power."
"Only way to beat him is with a kryptonite shot glass, right?" Lianjie puts a glass of green slime in front of me, then one in front of Kenichi. "Real quick, all parties present mustplan the shortest route to the nearest sink or toilet before ingesting this. It's…It's gross but you'll feel better in an hour. As for what's in it: You don't want to know. Plain and simple." He puts a soda in front of Kenichi, too, and opens one for himself. "Seriously, might wanna just gulp it all down and use the soda as a chaser."
In the immortal words of Hirokazu Shiota: This is going to suck!
Kenichi and Lianjie begin gulping but…GODS! THIS IS LIKE A LIQUIFIED SALAD…! AUGH! I-I taste…AUGH! VITAMINS! Like if you've ever held a multi-vitamin on your tongue, like that! A-And AUGH…! Lianjie, what the hellis in this crap?
…Do I…taste a hint of…Hua Tuo…?
It took a few hours but Lianjie's remedy really does work. Lianjie says the secret ingredient is B12 and Hua Tuo (I knew it). I also found out, shortly after drinking that slime, that we woke up at almost noon!
I spent another day with Lianjie and Kenichi, mostly recovering from the hangover. Lianjie's drink helped, though, we were all "well" enough to just hang out and play games.
Seeing them as a couple instead of just friends was…an experience.
I-I'm amazed I didn't notice anything before. And it's obvious how much Lianjie cares about Kenichi. I mean…He…He's, actually, sort of the 'romantic one,' he'll give Kenichi romantic compliments (though often followed by an ass-grab), kiss him on the cheek, things like that. He's not afraid to show he loves him now that I know their secret.
…I'm happy for them. I admit it, I'm happy my brother is with someone he loves.
Lianjie drove me home the next morning. We talked a little bit about Lianjie's plans to come out the next time he came to dinner, which will be this Sunday. He told me not to hint at anything about myself to the family, saying, "Look, I don't know how they'll take it, which is why I waited 'til I had my own place…If things go bad, better they flip out on me than you, got it? Stay in the closet, bro. You can come out with me if they take it well but, 'til then, let me be the one sticking his neck out. 'Kay?"
I thanked him but…Gods, Lianjie...I-I guess I really owe him for that. But we both agree, it probably won't come to that. Mom and Dad are used to Jialing (and, now, Xiaochun) and her "collection." She's a yaoi and shounen-ai addict, we all know it. No-one really bats an eye anymore.
And Lianjie confessed: He's stolen a few of her manga, before. In fact, he was the one who took the recently missing Ai To Kirai manga from her room, while he was there last. Mostly to mess with her and 'catch up' on his favorite series. "I'll give 'em back to her after I come out, I kinda wanted to have some fun with her. Hehehe…! You gotta read Ai To Kirai, seriously. It's awesome!"
I think I might. Just…Just to get "used" to...being…
…I still have trouble admitting to myself I'm gay and I'm still incredibly embarrassed by the fact I not only told Kenichi about that dream but…I told Lianjie I'm gay. I told them both I love Takato. I know they're the last two people who would be upset but…
I don't know why but I-I feel more embarrassed than anything else. I guess it's from doing it drunk, too, I mean, I-I was not myself that night. I-I was drunk, scared, pissed, ranting and all of that happened in front of my brother. He saw me as this pathetic wreck!
But, at the same time, Lianjie's been…a huge help getting me to come to terms with this. Kenichi was right, he's really not ashamed of his orientation. He's gay and, once I knew that, he wasn't going to hide it. The past few days at his place, he just made me feel comfortable about it. We talked guys, I actually talked guys with Lianjie and Kenichi!
Well, they did most of the talking, I just, um, nodded and quietly agreed but the whole experience was a lot less awkward than I expected. And I have Lianjie and his jokes to thank for that.
I asked him about his past boyfriends. And, I agree, his last boyfriend is a bastard. Lianjie took their relationship seriously while he was still going out with other guys behind Lianjie's back. In fact, Lianjie never "formally" ended it, he just stopped calling and "I figured he saw me as just another cheap fling, so me not speaking to him probably didn't cause him to lose sleep. Ass. Hole. Watch out for those types, Jianliang."
He gave me a 'talk' about…Just everything. From dating to… Um…
…Stuff I don't want to repeat but it did answer some questions I'd been wondering about…
When he dropped me off, he stayed with us for dinner. No-one suspected anything usual went on that weekend, just the video game tournament Lianjie said it would be. No fake IDs, no coming out of the closet, just two brothers and their best friends.
I called Takato that night, after Lianjie left…
"Takato, um…Sorry about running out like that at the bar. I-I really need to talk to you. Any chance we can meet tomorrow?"
"Oh, um…Tomorrow, I'm meeting Kenta."
Damn it! Again?
"Bu-But…Actually, we…We both want to talk to you, Jen, it's really important."
What's so important about Kenta?
"Really? What's going on?"
"I-I'd rather tell you in person but I…I want to thank you again for the other night Jen. Really…Thank you so much for that. I had a great time…Sorry for what happened to you."
"I'm sorry I ran off like that. I'm glad you still had fun, though."
"Just being there, Jen...I-I can't thank you enough! We'll meet you at the park tomorrow, okay? Around noon?"
"Su-Sure, see you then."
And that's where I am now. I'm waiting for Takato and Kenta at the picnic tables near Guilmon's old spot.
I realized this morning: I haven't had that dream since I came out. Just 'usual' dreams, nothing gay. No, um, 'dreaming' about Takato 'like that.' Just your average dreams.
"JEN!" I hear Kenta's voice, I'm glad I have my back turned as I do a bad job hiding my frown at first. I turn, Kenta and Takato are up ahead on the sidewalk waving a running towards me. I wave back, standing. Jen and Takato get to me, both of them have huge grins…
"Jen-kun," Kenta smiles. "I-I'm soglad you're doing okay. Takato said you freaked out at Kamesato's."
"Ye-Yeah, I, uh…It's a long story," I say. "But you two said you wanted to talk?"
"Yeah," Takato nods, smiling. To my complete surprise, he gives me a hug. "Thanks again, Jen! I-I'm so glad you're my friend, especially after that night." Takato? Why is he so thankful for a night of drinking that was cut shortlike that?
I carefully hug back, just as Kenta joins in! What the hell is going on? "Gla-Glad you…Glad you had fun." I say, thankfully with Kenta hugging me, too, he can't see my blush.
The hug ends after a few moments, we sit down. Kenta and Takato sit next to each other, across from me.
I speak first, "Sorry again about leaving…I-I just…Um, I-I saw something in the men's room that, uh, freaked me out. Kinda."
"Oooooh," Kenta nods. "Ye-Yeah, I think…I know what you mean. Hey, no problem, Jen-kun! I'd do the same." Huh? "But, seriously, Jen, you knew for a week? Lianjie told you?" About Kamesato's? Yeah but I'll leave out the 'gay bar' portion.
"Ye-Yeah, he told me and I wanted to invite Takato to Kamesato's with him and Kenichi," I say. "It sounded like fun."
"Takato, you are so lucky! I've seen Kamesato's, I so wish I had an ID like you did," Kenta smiles. We drink all the time withouta bartender, Kenta, why is Kamesato's so damned special? You two like 'techno' that much?
"I-I was really shocked at first, Jen, when…Well, you told me about Kamesato's being a 'techno' bar, but…" Takato laughs. "Thank you so much for the support, Jen. I-I mean, Rinchei-kun and Kenichi-san, too, but…I'm so glad it doesn't bother you."
…What the hell is Takato saying?
Before I can ask, Kenta speaks up, "You're awesome, Jen. Seriously, you have no idea how much something like that means to us!" US? You weren't even there! "Takato hasn't stopped talking about how much he loved Kamesato's. I've seen the outside and heard about the inside. How was the music?"
"Gr-Great," I nod. Please, please don't tell me Takato told him about all the ABBA songs they played. I-I should've known something was up when we walked in hear with YMCA blaring over the speakers! THE VILLAGE PEOPLE ARE NOT TECHNO! "Like I said, Takato-kun, I'm really glad you had a fun time there." I want to offer going back but…
…Takato's better off not knowing we took him to— "I admit, I was really not into the idea at first, with fake IDs and all but when Kenta told me that Kamesato's really was the gay bar he once told me about I-I…I had to go because of…We-Well, if you were inviting me there! I can't thank you enough, Jen-kun, I-I mean…Wow!" …What?
"Yo-You knew?" I ask, my jaw falls. Gods, no, Takato's been telling Kenta I took him to a gay bar—Wait…
…Why is Takato so excited about me taking him to a…?
"Um, only after I told Kenta about your offer and he told me what Kamesato's really was. How did Rinchei-san know about me? You said he told you a week ago…" Takato…?
"Wh-What? I-I thought you meant Kamesato's no-not…!" I stare forward at Kenta and Takato in shock. Takato knew we were taking him to a gay bar? A-And KENTA was the one who told him it was a gay bar?
"Jen, you…you don't know…?" Takato suddenly looks really embarrassed. Kenta looks confused.
"Takato, what's going on?" I ask, I-I think my voice is the same as it was when I walked in on Lianjie and Kenichi at the bar. I think my expression mightbe close to the same, too.
"O-Okay, um," Takato clears his throat. "You…You didn't know Kamesato's was a gay bar? I-I thought 'techno' was, um, a code word for it or something…I-I mean…" Takato trails off, nervously.
"Not until I-I…" I sigh. "Not until Lianjie told me after I left," I say. "Th-They took us there because they're really loose when it comes to IDs and drinking ages. A-And for…another reason…"
"…Rinchei-san and Kenichi?" Takato asks, quietly. "You didn't know?" …You did?
I nod. "I-I found out because, well, I-I was in the bathroom and I caught them, um…In each others' arms, kissing. It was just a shock because…Y'know, my brother and all! But, wait, Ta-Takato…?" Takato, you're gay?
Takato swallows. "I'm…I'm gay, too, Jen. So is Kenta. I found out about him a few months ago and, since then, he's been helping me come to terms with it. He's been a huge help. So-Sorry I haven't been hanging out with you because of it but…Until Kamesato's, I didn't want to risk losing you as a friend. Sorry, Jen-kun, I-I know you were getting annoyed with…how I was starting to avoid you. Re-Really, I-I didn't mean it like that, I…I was scared. I was afraid you would suspect something and…U-Until Kamesato's I-I was so afraidof how you would react if you knew, Jen."
…Takato and Kenta…are gay…?
…Gods, please, don't let this end the way I'm suddenly afraid it will…Please…
"You…and Kenta…?" I whisper.
Kenta nods. "When Takato told me you offered him a Fake ID to go to a place called 'Kamesato's,' I told him, 'Takato, that's a gay bar! Jen knows and, holy shit, he's the best friend on Earth!'"
"Lianjie told me it was a techno bar and I believed him until he told me the truth after I got back to his place. How did you know about him and Kenichi, though?"
"I realized it after we got there but, um, Rinchei-san was a bit of a shock but…Kenichi, Jen?" Yeah, Kenichi's…I-I'm blind, obviously, Kenichi's on fire half the time!
"Right," I nod. "So…You've been with Kenta this whole time…because…?" …Please, please no…
…My eyes are starting to sting. I can't believe this…
I start to lean forward into the table…
"Kenta's been a huge help sorting things out," Takato says. "Hirokazu knows, too, just…Because he knows about Kenta and how Kenta was helping me. But…" Takato goes quiet for a few moments. "…Jen? A-Are you okay? You're not…crying are you? I-I thought…I thought…"
"Are you and Kenta together?" I whisper. I-I wasn't being replaced...
…Takato just fell in love…
Kenta and Takato both exchange surprised looks. "N-No!" Kenta shouts. "Takato and I are just friends! Re-Really!" Thank the Gods! Thank. The. GODS!
Takato nods. "Jen…I-I thought with the bar you wouldn't be upset…I-I'm sorry, Jen, I swear…I had no control—"
"N-No!" I lift my head up, shaking it. "I-I'm not upset! Takato…You…You're gay? For…For real?"
Takato swallows, nodding.
"I…I was going to tell you about Lianjie and Kenichi," I begin. "Because I wanted to know how you would react. Takato, I…I was crying because…" I take a deep breath, I can do this…
"Jen? A-Are you sure everything's…okay?" Takato asks. Gods, I-I need to work on my reactions to this…First Lianjie and Kenichi, now Takato and Kenta!
Just be honest. That's it. Just be honest.
"Takato…I-I…That night, I-I realized that I…I…" I stammer, I'm starting to shake. "I-I'm…" Why is this so hard? H-He's gay, too…I-I have a chance! My dream might just come true!
Did I know Takato was gay? Or at least suspect it? Is that why in my dream…?
"Wa-Wait, Jen…" Kenta speaks up. "Are you…coming out…?" …Thank you, Kenta. Thank. You.
I-I don't mean that sarcastically. I don't think I could have done anything but stammer like an idiot without some help.
I nod, slowly. "I am. I-I finally admitted it after I got back to Lianjie's and talked with him and Kenichi…" I take a deep breath, looking to Kenta and Takato. "I'm gay."
Kenta lets out a relieved sigh. "Thank the Gods, Jen. I-I was a little worried for a minute there."
Takato's speechless, he's staring at me in shock. Probably the same way I looked when he told me he was gay. "You're serious, Jen?"
"I also, um, really like you, Takato," I say, quietly. "I-I was crying because I was worried I missed my chance. So-Sorry if I gave you the wrong idea but I was afraid that…" I trail off, I feel the blush on my face right now.
I just did what Lianjie told me to do: Confess. I-I just confessed to Takato.
Takato gets up, he walks around the picnic table and sits next to me. He's staring at me in disbelief...
…And then gives me another hug. And I hear, from Takato himself, the words that have been haunting my dreams for the past few months…
"I love you, Jen."
And this time, I can answer him.
I wrap both arms around Takato, holding him tight. "I-I love you, Takato." I-I know I sounded a little awkward as I said that but given how things go in my dream, I have to say something. And, as weird as it feels being "out"...
...Having Takato in my arms like this feels great.
"…Wow…" Kenta lets out a quiet laugh, I look over to him. He's smiling wide. "Co-Congratulations, you two…I mean, wow…Ha ha ha!"
Takato ends the hug, looking to me with a huge smile.
"S-So, when we went to Kamesato's…did you suspect me or…?" I trail off, a little nervously as Takato shifts next to me on the seat.
Takato shakes his head. "No, but mostly because I didn't want to get my hopes up. I thought you and Rinchei were just being incredibly supportive, like…I-I don't know, you both figured it out and wanted to show me you…supported me. I-I couldn't think of any other reason you'd invite me to a gay bar, Jen. I-I was shocked!"
I smile. "I'm glad you had a good time there, especially now." …And…
…I owe Kenta an apology, if he's been helping Takato this whole time, that is. Now I know why they didn't want me with them sometimes, to talk about "this."
I look up to Kenta, "Kenichi can make one more Fake ID. Got a good picture we can use?"
"For real?" Kenta asks with a huge grin. I nod. "Jen, I know you're with Takato now but I have to say this: I love you."
Takato, Kenta and I talked for a long time about what we all went through. I even told them about my dreams (leaving out…certain details of some…). Takato told me he'd dreamt of me, too, actually. Nothing recurring like mine but, "I'd sometimes dream about how I wanted things, Jen. I'm so glad that it came true."
Me, too, Takato-chan. Me, too.
It's been a few days since my confession. Takato and I have been on one official date, we went out to see the Xros Wars Movie…Turns out Osamu was Ken in disguise as Osamu disguised as Ken disguised as Osamu disguised as Ken – We think they dipped into the same stuff they were on for 02's epilogue because that's the most coherent description of the ending I can give!
I got my first kiss. Takato got his second kiss, actually. He and Kenta admitted that they were each others' first kiss to "see what it was like." I wasn't upset, though, Kenta told us he's holding out hope that "Ruki's right about Ryou and his fanboys."
I told Lianjie about my confession, too, on a day I was home alone. He was thrilled, telling me, "I knew Takato'd love you back! I mean, crap, the way he was watching that dance floor and grinning like the king of the world the whole freakin' time…Kenichi and I sorta thought he figured things out, actually. We just didn't want to get your hopes up if we were wrong…Kenichi's good at reading people but, well, not perfect, y'know?"
That was yesterday, actually. Saturday.
Today is Sunday. And Lianjie is coming to dinner…
…Kenichi's with him, actually. Lianjie asked if his "roommate" could join us, Mom made extra bao zi since she knows how much Kenichi likes it.
We're all seated at the dining room table. Lianjie and Kenichi are having beer with Dad, everyone else has tea. Dad is at the head of the table with Mom to his right, Kenichi is sitting next to her with Lianjie next to him. I'm across from Lianjie with Xiaochun and Jialing next to me, respectively.
I'm eating quietly, wondering when and how Lianjie is going to tell them…
I glance up at Lianjie, he's finishing off his third serving of bao zi. He looks to Kenichi for a few seconds, Kenichi gives a nod.
…This is it.
"Hey, um," Lianjie clears his throat. "I heard that Jialing lost a bunch of manga from her collection. That true?"
"I swear to the Gods, someone stole my Ai To Kirais!" Jialing speaks up. "Did Jianliang tell you?"
Lianjie reaches to the side of his chair, he pulls up a cloth bag filled with manga. "These them?" He passes the bag to Jialing. Everyone suddenly looks confused, save for Kenichi and myself.
Jialing looks through the bag. "Volumes…One to twenty-eight. Ye-Yeah! Lianjie, what were you doingwith my Ai To Kirais?"
"Reading 'em," Lianjie replies.
"…You?" Jialing asks. "Good one, Lianjie." She rolls her eyes. "Don't steal my stuff just to mess—"
"Volume three is when Wataru confesses his love to Jin. But Jin has feelings for Rantarou, who I swear is really straight and totally leading everyone on 'cause of how big of an ego he has and how much he loves the attention while 'still looking for the right guy,' he says as he stares at a woman changing through a window," Lianjie says. "Seriously, that guy pisses me off."
We all hear the collective sound of chopsticks being dropped on plates, Jialing stares at Lianjie with her jaw practically on the table. "…Lianjie…Why are you reading shounen-ai manga?"
"'Cause I live in one practically," Lianjie reaches for his beer, taking a sip. "I'm gay, everyone. And Kenichi's my boy-toy."
"You wish, Rin-chan, you wish," Kenichi rolls his eyes. "I knew you weren't going to be subtle about this…" I should have known that, too, Kenichi.
Dad stares at Lianjie for a few moments in disbelief. His jaw practically on the table, his eyes about to join it if they pop out any further.
Lianjie shrugs. "Sorry, Dad, but—"
Dad suddenly starts laughing, long and loud. Lianjie just lets out an annoyed groan as Dad says, "Ha ha, good one! Ha, Lianjie. Very convincing, you had me at first!"
"This isn't a joke," Lianjie says, giving Dad an annoyed look. Then one to Mom as she laughs too. "I'm serious!"
"Sure, Lianjie, sure," Jialing rolls her eyes. "Gotta admit, you looking up an online summary for Ai To Kirai is a shock but—"
"I'm prepared to show how serious I am," Lianjie stands. "Ken-chan! Lips! Now!"
"Rin-chan, um, I think it'd be better to try to civilly argue your case for being gay instead of kissing me in front of your entire family," Kenichi rolls his eyes. He looks to my Mom, who he's sitting next to. She's stopped laughing, she's now…In shock, I guess, going by how she's staring at Kenichi. "Mrs. Li, I have a question, um…" He whispers into Mom's ear. Mom's expression changes, she starts nodding.
"…Nothing as a baby but when he was three or four, he fell off a jungle gym at school and hit his head really hard. Twice." Mom replies. "We blame that."
"Mom! Not cool! You, too, Ken-chan!" Lianjie shouts, Kenichi and Mom chuckle.
"I had a feeling," Kenichi nods. "But, um, everyone? Rin-chan is serious. We're an item."
"Any complaints?" Lianjie asks, sitting down.
"Just…The fact that…You're you!" Jialing shouts.
"If you wanna know, I was also seeing Kouji for a while," Lianjie grins. "Before college."
Mom and Dad completely silent, they exchange shocked looks. Jialing also has a similar expression, she knew Kouji pretty well, too.
"…Tell us about Kouji! He was cute!" Xiaochun speaks up with a huge smile.
…I can't believe I heard that from my little sister…
"Wa-Wait, so…You two are living together as a couple…?" Jialing asks. "Um, Lianjie, how long have you been, I dunno, gay?"
"Since I realized guys were hot, around middle school," Lianjie shrugs. "And I know you and Xiaochun are gonna have a million questions about my past dates…Ground rules: I've had three boyfriends, Ken-chan being the third and hopefully final one." He adds emphasis to this by wrapping an arm around Kenichi. "And my second boyfriend, Tetsuya, I hate him. A lot. 'Cause he's a bastard. So, um, keep questions limited to Kouji and Kenichi, 'kay?"
"Deal," Xiaochun and Jialing exchange smiles.
I look to Mom and Dad. "Are you two okay?"
Dad clears his throat, "We-Well, I admit, this explains why Lianjie is a very, ah, 'festive' drunk…"
"H-HEY!" Lianjie shouts. "I am not a flaming gay drunk!"
"Told you, Rin-chan," Kenichi trails off with a smirk.
"You are, Lianjie," I say. "You really are."
"Not you, too, Jianliang…" Lianjie groans. "Okay, so…Is this cool? I-I wanna know. Anyone have any problems?"
"It's a huge surprise, Lianjie," Mom says. "I-I neversuspected you. Ever. You're, well…"
"…You're you," Jialing says. "I mean, seriously, I still don't think this isn't a prank—" Jialing goes silent as Lianjie grabs Kenichi by the shoulders kisses him, thus ending all questions as to whether or not this is a joke.
"Well, congratulations, Lianjie. You're an adult, you're on your own and…I'm glad you have someone, that's what's important to me," Dad smiles. He then looks to all of us, adding, "Anyone else have any announcements?" He jokes.
Lianjie looks to me with a smirk. I bow my head once, shaking it. Hopefully no-one saw that. Lianjie just gives a nod and gives Kenichi one quick kiss on the cheek.
I think I'll stay in the closet for a little while longer. I don't think my family is up for two sons coming out at one dinner.
That went really well, actually.
At least until Jialing and Xiaochun drive them both insane with questions and shounen-ai fangirl screams.
"No, Jialing, I am not telling you how I confessed!" Lianjie shouts.
"But it's the best part! C'mon, how'd Kenichi find out you loved him?" Jialing says. "Please?"
"C'mon, Lianjie! I'll let you borrow my favorite shounen-ai dating sims!" Xiaochun speaks up.
"…It was snowing in December, by a chance encounter I found Kenichi on the snowy streets, begging for change to pay for his college tuition. And by begging for change I mean, he charged five thousand yen an hour for guys to—"
"RIN-CHAN!" Kenichi shouts, eyes wide. Everyone tries to hold back a laugh at that. I take the way my parents are laughing as a good sign for when I tell them. Lianjie always manages to get a laugh out of them, no matter howmuch trouble he might be in…
Lianjie shrugs, sipping his beer, "Okay, fine, I made up a 'gay friend' to gauge his reaction and, well, he's in psych and told me I was 'displaying'—"
"Projecting," Kenichi says.
"Projecting my feelings for him."
And as Lianjie continues, Xiaochun and Jialing beg for more and more details…
...Yeah, just watching this makes me want to stay in my closet for at least a few more months. Just because of Jialing and Xiaochun. Maybe I'll come out as a birthday gift to one of them, two gay brothers with boyfriends…They'd love it! Not so sure about Mom and Dad but…
…They seem really okay with it, I don't see any disgusted looks or eye rolls and, while Lianjie deals with my sisters, Kenichi's having a chat with my Mom about his and Lianjie's relationship. Mostly past dates, romantic gestures, how much he loves Lianjie, things like that.
Suddenly I hear Mom set her chopsticks down on her plate. Hard. "Wait! You made 'love bao zi' for Lianjie…? Where'd you get the recipe…?" She eyes Lianjie and Kenichi, both of them turn pale.
It was nice knowing you two!
"Thank you guys so much for this," Kenta says, he's smiling even more than Takato did when we took him to Kamesato's.
"Anything for a fellow 'sufferer' of the passion of the cut sleeve," Lianjie grins, toasting his beer. "Having fun?"
"So much fun!" Kenta grins, nodding his head to the music.
This time, the IDs flew without a hitch. Same bartender, though, so he probably knew they were fake and just didn't bother us with hush-money. Kenta got his ID today from Kenichi, it's almost the end of break and…
I told Lianjie how much of a jerk I felt like with how I've felt about Kenta lately, he told me we'd treat him to Kamesato's after Kenichi made his ID. Kenta's name is Tenjin Umishiro, age 21.
We're all at a huge table overlooking the dance floor, they're playing a block of Visual Kei hits, mostly from Gackt. Since we know it's a gay bar, Lianjie told us we could head downstairs and dance, he "forbid it" at first because, well, a bunch of guys dancing with other guys would be a huge tip off as to where we really were.
Takato and I are really considering it. Lianjie said he and Kenichi planned to once they turned on the lasers.
Kenta's sipping, as Lianjie called it, "the gayest looking cocktail in the history of gay" while Lianjie and Kenichi are having beer. I'm having a cocktail, like Kenta, but not as "gay." Takato, of course, is having whiskey. He (almost) bought his own bottle this time, he wanted to try an expensive brand to see "what the hype was about."
When Takato wasn't looking, though, Lianjie paid the bartender for him, saying, "Call it a 'thanks for dating my little bro' gift." He gave Lianjie a few shots of it to thank him.
Things have gone well since Lianjie came out a week ago. Though, um, Mom gave him a long talking to about stealing her bao zi recipe…But she forgave him and Kenichi after she forced Kenichi to make a batch (the night Lianjie came out, even!) to make sure he wasn't "ruining an ancient family recipe." She approved and even asked for his special filling mixture's recipe.
Takato and Lianjie both toast their shot glasses and down them. Lianjie lets out a laugh, "Insane, Takato-kun, insane."
Takato laughs, "I want to get a little buzzed before we go to the dance floor. I'm a little nervous about…Um…"
"Your first gay dance…?" Kenichi grins. "You'll love it, Takato."
"Can I pleaseborrow someone's boyfriend for a dance?" Kenta trails off, smiling. "The DJ said they're going to play an ABBA block next."
I grin, "If Takato doesn't mind, I'll dance with you. Second dance, of course." I want Takato to be my first 'gay dance.'
"Thanks, Jen-kun! I promise, Takato, I'll bring him back in one piece."
Takato laughs, "I'm not worried." He wraps an arm around and kisses me on the cheek. "Thanks again, Jen-chan. I love you so much right now."
"I love you, too, Takato-chan." I smile.
Things have been great since that night, as much as it freaked me out at first. Especially with that dream I'd been having at the time.
Actually, I did have that dream one last time. I finally answered Takato, I said, "I love you, too, Takato-chan. Forever." And the ark came back for us. Takato and I went home with the others, holding each other the whole time. We wouldn't let each other go.
Just like how I want things to be when I'm awake.
Oy Gott…First a confession: Originally, we were gonna post this fic waaaay after Mirai No Kodomo was finished. And MNK would end with another "THIS IS MY LAST SLASH FIC EVER" rant like its prequel, Kako Mo Yadda Yadda Yadda - Which, really, I was planning on quitting at the time but...Twerp-chan's a bad influence, address all complaints to Taiki Matsuki…
So, we were gonna do that again with a "What? You believed me?" Sorta rant in this.
Buuut, uh…There's a lot of bonus stuff to MNK that I'm sorta burnt out on so I'm going to recover for a few weeks with some non-MNK stuff. Like this.
Yeah, Mirai No Kodomo is not over. There's more but I need a break (and don't ask Taiki for details - He doesn't know what I've got planned, just that the fic isn't over). We'll post something in a week or so but 'til then, I gotta write something else. Still, I wanna thank Takato for all of his help co-writing that fic. Good turtle!
And Taiki for being…Taiki, I guess.
(Just kidding, Taiki, you're my one and only editor!)
To begin with the fic notes: I have no idea why my standalone fics are so freakin' long these days. Really, this is the longest one yet! Hope you didn't mind.
Anyway, with this…First, HUGE thanks to Riku Murasaki for requesting a fic where Lianjie really is gay. I took a few liberties with his description, I hope you don't mind, but the whole "dreams" aspect came from a chat I had with Ian R. Moros about the Tamers' personalities. So thanks to both of them! Check out Taiki's Favorite Author's part of the profile: You'll find both of them as well as Kohaku-Koneko, who requested the fic "I Feel Pretty."
We're going to start adding friends who request or help inspire fics to Taiki's "Favorite Author" list. So please check out their work, too! I mean it! Read it!
When it comes to fic requests, I promise to start the fic if the idea hits me but I can't promise I'll finish everything (or anything). I do promise to try my best, though, since I love writing. Thanks again, Taiki, for getting me back on FFN.
With Kenichi and psych…I don't know psychology too well, so a lot of this was based on basic research and guess work (I'm not even sure if I used "Id" in the right context in the title or not, so…yeah…). Since there aren't any canon characters the same age as Lianjie, I had to make one up so, yeah, it's Original Character x Non-Tamer Canon Character…I broke my rule again, damn it! Granted, Lianjie has no lines in Tamers, so he's blank enough slate to pretty much be an Original Canon Character!
Anyway, with Takato and whiskey…I always make Takato a lightweight when it comes to alcohol or anything else, so I thought he could use a fic where he's immune to the stuff\a stealth drunk. Plus it gave a good reason for Lianjie to actually want Takato to tag along while gay bar hopping. Seriously, when did you figure out Kamesato's was a gay bar? Before or after Jen started singing YMCA?
Oh, and Twerp-chan pointed this out so I should address it: This is my fiftieth fic on the new account. And given our insane word count right now (Holy shit I can't believe I've done so much freakin' writing)…That's amazing. Last account, it took me over one hundred fics and about two years to almost reach 900,000 words…
…Will we hit a million? I dunno. But when we do, we'll let you know and I'm sure Twerp-chan's got some champagne or wine coolers to get wasted off of to celebrate.
Actually, that reminds me: Hua Tuo is a real Chinese liquor. It was invented by the famed Chinese Doctor Hua Tuo (hence the name) and, supposedly, was originally an attempt at an immortality elixir. It's about 30% alcohol but holy shit it has a kick to it! Seriously, it's a herbal mixture that's really potent, I am not exaggerating how much of a kick that stuff has!
What herbs are in there? I don't know, but considering that Hua Tuo was one of the first to discover the use of cannabis as an anesthetic and this is an attempt at an immortality potion...
...Just sayin'! I got nothing to prove it but it'd explain the kick! And, believe it or not, this topic comes up in Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Hua Tuo tells Cao Cao, more or less, "I'm gonna get ya good n' stoned, then we're gonna take this axe, crack open your skull, remove a brain tumor and thus invent brain surgery!"
And Cao Cao, being the narc he is, said, "THE HELL YOU ARE!" And had Hua Tuo locked up for possession (or because he thought Hua Tuo was planning to assassinate him under the guise of life saving surgery - I forget the details).
The lesson here? Kids, don't perform brain surgery on third century Chinese warlords. It's just not cool.
Ori, I promise I will never perform brain surgery on Cao Cao. Thank you for that completely warped moral.
Thank you again to both Riku Murasaki and Ian R. Moros for the idea behind this fic! I think it's safe to say Ori had quite the time writing it!
And Happy 50th fic, Ori! Can't wait until you break one million words, too! Though I don't drink (save for the occasional sip) I do plan to celebrate! We all do! Right, everyone? Come on! Let's encourage him! One Million Words, Ori! You can do it! One million! One million! One million!
Really, as of this fic we're past 900,000! Granted, with the bleedin' lengnth of this fic, I'm amazed we didn't break one million with it! Ori, how did you write all of this? Insomnia or do I even want to know the answer?
As for this fic, I loved the idea of Lianjie being a "gay drunk." His "coming out" rant for Jen was my favorite part, especially when he tried to "hetero up" that story about his date with Zhang Ziyi. Ha ha ha!