The Things You Said
It's been weeks since the scariest night of my life, when Hirokazu called me and told me Takato had tried to kill himself. Just hearing those words, I went numb. I couldn't imagine Takato doing anything like that, being that depressed. I couldn't even figure out what could get him to that point…
…After I hang up, I bolted out of my room and to the door. I didn't even say anything to my family, despite almost running into Lianjie in the hallway. I just put on my shoes and ran the entire way to Shinjuku General. It's not too far, it's about three blocks up from the park.
Then I found Hirokazu and Kenta on my way to Takato's room and they told me they had to talk to me before I saw Takato. At first, I was tempted to just ignore them and see him but, with the look on Kenta's face, I had a feeling it was…something bigger than just "he was depressed."
…Takato was gay. And he couldn't handle it, he couldn't stand it. He hated himself so much for…No real reason. I-I mean…
I guess it explains that one time…I figured it out, looking back, that he, um, 'peeked' that time. I didn't mind, I've…sort of done the same, it'd be hypocritical to be upset. But…
…I remember, I was changing in my room so we could go out to get lunch. My doorknob was broken, a week earlier Lianjie tripped in the hall and grabbed onto it, nearly ripping the entire mechanism through my door as he fell (I was in my room at the time, I heard this loud CRASH and ran to the door, Lianjie was on the ground with a doorknob in his hand, saying, "Uh...Is this yours?"). So it couldn't close all the way and there was a huge gaping hole where the knob used to be: Dad was going to buy me a new one and put it in himself but kept forgetting. I didn't have too much of a problem privacy-wise, I never did "much" in my room that I'd object to my family seeing outside of changing. And my computer screen couldn't be seen from the doorway (not that I risked anything like that until the knob was replaced! By which I mean, um, Digimon slash art and fics or the very, very, very occasional "Gay Teen Help" page).
…I came out and Takato was crying in the living room, sitting on the couch…
"Ta-Takato-kun? What's wrong?"
"Takato…You're crying, why? I-I mean…Just a few minutes ago…"
"I-I just…I thought of…something sort of sad…You…You know me."
"Wha-What are you…thinking about?"
"…Guilmon, just…popped into my head and…I-I miss him so much, y-you know?"
…That was a plausible excuse, Takato and I…We needed each other after our partners went back. I remember a lot of times we actually held each other and cried, talking about them. Thinking back to all the fun times we had before…They had to go back. I-I hope we'll see them again someday but…
…I don't know at this point.
I gave Takato a hug at the time, telling him, "I miss them, too, Takato-kun. Don't…Don't be so upset. I know we'll…see them again."
Takato was more hesitant than usual to hug back but…He eventually did and stopped crying after a while. I was glad, we went back to our plans to go out to lunch and everything.
Actually, for a while, Takato…became afraid of physical contact. I wish I put two and two together, I really do. Takato just couldn't handle his orientation or his "sick obsession" with me…
…If I knew, I'd have never done what I did around the day he almost killed himself. We were at the park and I wanted an excuse to hold him. I-I did things like that now and then, especially after I was afraid he was avoiding me at one point (he was, actually, because of his "sick obsession," but stopped when he realized how afraid I was that he was mad at me when we ran into each other at the park). I suggested we climb a tree near Guilmon's spot and, well, it only had one "good branch" to sit on and he had to lean against me for balance.
I loved having Takato in my arms. I-I'd sometimes use things like that as an excuse to be "closer" to him than I normally would. I like him, a lot—No, I love him. I just didn't want to admit to it or ever let him find out. I was afraid he'd be disgusted…
…He would have been but not because he was homophobic, because he was "a pervert" if he returned my feelings. He was the one who was "disgusting," not me. I-I still wish I told him at some point, maybe it could have prevented what almost happened. Kenta, especially, wishes he told Takato, just so he'd have someone to talk to and sort things out. I-I understand why you kept yourself a secret, Kenta-kun, I did the same for myself. I-I was…
…I realized I had feelings for Takato a couple years ago. I don't know exactly when I got to the conclusion I was gay but, at first, I was scared. I was trying to think of any plausible reason why I felt the way I did for him, that it was just the fact he was my best friend. And I've never been so close to someone before, not that I was gay. I was just "super close" to Takato, like Hirokazu and Kenta.
But, in the end, I couldn't deny it anymore: I loved him. I loved another male. I loved another male named Takato Matsuda…
…And Takato Matsuda had a "sick obsession" with me, too. Gods, Takato, why did it hit you so hard? I-I was apprehensive, too, but I never wanted to kill myself over you. What was so scary that it made you even consider something like that?
Hirokazu, still, makes sure I don't blame myself, though. It wasn't my fault, even though I felt it was for a while. He told me "Takato was being an idiot, Jen, you didn't do anything to cause this!"…I still feel that, if I hadn't done all those "things" to get close to him, though, he might not have been so upset. It was…selfish of me, I was "forcing" him to be closer to me than he "should" have been, even though he says he liked it…
...But "liking it" made him even more depressed.
Even though it's history now, I still think about how I could have somehow prevented it…I've been in my room for hours now, just…thinking. Actually, thinking about a "problem" with our relationship: The fact I'm still hiding from my family and, until recently, my friends. Even Hirokazu and Kenta, at first! It's not fair to Takato, I think, I shouldn't force him to be "just friends" when he's over. I don't want him to think I'm as ashamed as he was. I…guess I want to come out but the risks are…too much for me. I know only a taste of what Takato felt, and it's not fair that he's out to everyone and I'm still hiding…I'm worried about how Takato might feel about that. He was so upset over his orientation and I'm…I'm not making things easy for him, I think, it took a lot for me to tell Ruki, Juri and Ryou, too. I'm sorry, Takato, I'm…being selfish.
I'm happy we're together now. Even though I…I-I still hide it from the others at first and still my family. My family...they still don't know why Takato tried to kill himself, actually, I just told them he was "depressed." I don't know how they'd have taken it but when I told my Dad and he told me later how everyone took the news…Even Lianjie came close to breaking down since, well, they know how much I care about Takato and how close we are as friends.
I am, at least, "out" to Hirokazu and Kenta the most… I don't stammer like an idiot like I do when Juri, Ruki and Ryou bring it up. I know I sort of "outted" myself when Hirokazu asked me…Gods, I still can't believe he brought up porn of all things but…He's Hirokazu, that's how his mind works, I guess. I was…afraid they saw something when I kissed Takato that morning, though. But they didn't say anything. They knew after we ditched that stupid "out Takato to the school" assembly…Gods, we were all pissed at the faculty for that, everyone knew Takato tried to kill himself but not why until…Ugh! At least the thing that most upset Juri, who didn't know why at the time, was that Takato tried to kill himself for such a "stupid reason." She accepted him, but said she had no idea he was gay…I admit, none of us did because of, well, their past. But Takato…He apologized for upsetting her so much, she just hugged him and cried and begged him to just "be happy again." He promised he would be…
…And he is, Takato's happy again. I'm glad it's because he's with me and his family accepts him. His Father even tried to pair him up with someone until he told him we was with me. I-I didn't mind, he told his parents not to tell my family. They won't, they understand.
…But I still think I should tell them, I don't want to hide Takato anymore. I even still hide from his parents. sort of. Like assuming a more "friend"-like position when we're sitting on a couch together or something like that. Just...Because I'm a coward, I guess. I mean, his parents accepted him without any arguing or even asking "are you sure?"Though, Takato's father was, at first, a little hesitant on the subject...It became a non-issue before Takato was even out of the hospital. Why is it a non-issue for them but such an issue for me?
I'm sorry, Takato, I really am...I'm so sorry.
There's a knock on my bedroom door. "Jianliang?" …Lianjie?
"Come in," I say, quietly.
My door opens, Lianjie steps in. "He-Hey bro…Just wanted to check on you. You've been holed up in here a while, Jialing and me've been kinda worried. You all right?" He closes my door and walks up to me.
"…Yeah, I've just…been thinking," I say, quietly.
"…Takato, right?" Lianjie asks. "I-I know it's been a while but…Dude, even I'm still freaked out over what happened that night. Thank the Gods he's still alive." Yeah, I didn't even tell my family why I didn't come home that night until the next morning. My Dad was upset until I told him why over the phone and he…
He sort of 'broke,' he was silent for a long time before finally saying, "Jianliang, stay there. Help Takato in any way you can. I'm sorry…I'm so sorry." He, Mom, my siblings, they were all terrified by the idea that I almost lost my best friend that night. They were relieved to hear he was "happy again" when I finally came home. I stayed as long as I could. Mr. Matsuda told the nurses that I was Takato's "cousin," so the hospital let me stay because I was "family." Though, um, I think one of the nurses suspected that was a lie, but…He didn't try to kick me out or ask anything, he almost walked in on us being, um, "closer than cousins should be," let's say.
"Ye-Yeah, just…Reflecting, mostly," I whisper, shaking a little.
"When Dad told us why you didn't come home that night, bro, Xiao just…broke down. Jialing almost did, too, trying to calm her down. Mom and Dad were just zombie-like, too…I-I sort of was, too, since…He's Takato! That kid's…always so damned happy! Wh-What…Can I ask what made him…?" This is the first time anyone in my family's asked that question, actually.
No-one's really pried for details, Dad said it was because they didn't want me to "live through it" again. Lianjie saw how scared I was when I ran out of the apartment, I didn't say a word. I just put my shoes on and left, I didn't care how late it was: Nothing was going to keep me from seeing Takato.
…Should I tell him? Well, I-I guess…Takato's "out" to where he doesn't hide it anymore. Kenta and I see that as amazing given that being "in" was why he almost killed himself but, I-I think it's because of how supportive everyone was, his friends and family, he lost all of his anxieties.
I-I need to do the same. We'll…see where this goes.
There's still a long silence. Lianjie starts to speak, "So-Sorry, Jianliang, if it's—"
"N-No, it's just…I-I don't know how you'll take to it," I say.
"What do you mean? I-I mean, dude, he's…Takato's awesome!"
I turn my desk chair around, facing Lianjie in surprise. "What did you say?"
"Takato's awesome! I-I mean, he's like so different from any kid I've met! Super nice, always polite and…He'd do anything for anyone, especially his best friend. And, well, the fact you two are so close and all...I guess I like how you've got, like, your best friend ever." He's more than that, now, Lianjie. "I've never been as close to my best friends, you two are like on another planet when it comes to just being friends n' all, you know? …The idea you could'a lost him…scared the shit outta me. I-I never wanna see that happen to you, Jianliang. Losing Takato? …You'd never be the same, I know it. I wouldn't be the same and I barely know him as well as you do."
"Yo-You really…care that much about him…?"
"I care that much about both of you," Lianjie says, he sits on my bed. "So, if…you wanna talk about it, I'm here. 'Kay? Takato's always gonna be awesome."
I nod. "Thank you, Lianjie."
"I mean it, bro." Lianjie sighs. "We were all scared that morning you spoke to Dad. I've never seen Mom and Dad like that, ever. And it wasn't even their kid. It was like you were the one in the hospital almost. That's…We like Takato, too, y'know?"
I nod. "I-I'm glad to hear that…Takato's so far beyond my best friend, Lianjie." …I just don't know if I want to state exactly how 'far beyond' best friend he is, now. I'm a little nervous after saying that, actually, but…I don't think Lianjie read into it. He just took it as "Takato means so much to me as a friend" not "I love Takato."
"I'll never forget that look on your face, when you ran out. None of us will." Lianjie says. He glances away, scratching the back of his head. "So…what was it?"
"...He's gay." I say.
Lianjie turns back to me, his eyes wide. "Wha-What?"
"Takato's gay. And he couldn't handle it. Or, at least, he was afraid everyone in his life would hate him for it," I explain. "Instead…It was the opposite," I shake a little as I say that. "He saw himself as a 'sick freak' over it. And who he…obsessed over."
Lianjie nods. "…Kinda…makes sense. N-No offense to him, but…Um…There's 'something about him,' you know? I mean, if he's gay and all…"
"You…don't mind, do you?"
Lianjie quickly shakes his head. "Hell no! Like I said, Takato's awesome and…definitely one of a kind. How'd everyone take it?"
"…Hirokazu wanted to hit him for trying to kill himself for 'something so stupid,'" I say. "Kenta…Kenta told him he wasn't alone."
"Kenta, too? Huh…He seein' him?"
"N-No, Takato's seeing, um," I hesitate to finish the next part of the sentence, whispering, "someone else."
"Too bad for Kenta, I figure Takato'd be a…good catch, y'know?" Lianjie chuckles, my jaw almost falls as I hear him say that.
"Everything I told you about him, I meant it. I'm glad he's, um, 'recovered' enough to see someone, I mean, that's gotta be a good sign!" Lianjie says. "He's really happy now, right? N-No chances of any, um, 'repeats,' right?"
"Definitely no chances," I shake my head. "Takato has all of us to support him, he's happy again. He's…the Takato we all knew before that night. Trust me."
"Thank the Gods…" Lianjie whispers, holding his hand to chest for a moment. I can't believe how well he took that. "So, um, who's he seeing?"
"I-I…Um…We-Well…" I stammer. Damn it, I-I knew he'd ask that! "Takato…H-He…He's, um…"
"Bro, what's wrong?" Lianjie tilts his head. "Why—" His eyes go wide as the blush on my cheeks…confirms things. "…For real?"
I take a deep breath, sighing, "I was his 'sick obsession,' as he put it."
"Makes…sense." Lianjie has definitely been blindsided by this. "I mean, um, if anyone was…Wo-Wow…"
I stammer, I can't believe I admitted to any of this. Especially to Lianjie! "I-It's…I-I…We…"
"Ji-Jianliang, calm down! I-I'm not upset! I'm surprised but…Dude, like I said…" Lianjie trails off, looking away. "…You got a good catch."
"…You mean that?" I whisper.
"Yeah, I do." Lianjie turns to me, smiling. "He's Takato, y'know?"
"Bu-But…" I stammer.
"What? I-I got no problem with him and, hell, if you can make him, well, him again: I'm all for it!" Did he really just say that?
"Dude, like I said: The idea Takato could've died…I don't want you to go through anything like that. I mean, given how close you two are, especially knowing this? …It'd destroy you. And me, too, I guess. I mean, the reason I asked was 'cause I'm still kinda worried about him. Just 'cause no-one saw it coming, he went from happiest kid I've ever seen to…Almost…" Lianjie trails off, sighing. "Thank the Gods he lived."
"…Thank the Gods," I whisper, my head down. "…How do you think everyone else would…react to knowing?"
"Jialing and Xiao wouldn't care, I know it," Lianjie says. "And Mom and Dad? …I dunno but, um, I'd do everything to defend you if they freaked out, you know? …You gonna tell them?"
"I've been thinking about it. Takato's family knows now, obviously, and Kenta came out to his."
"How'd they take it?"
"…He's a 'dirty little secret,' he says. They also think he's dating Hirokazu, Hirokazu's not allowed at Kenta's anymore. The Shiotas, though, don't care. They really like Kenta, Hirokazu says." It's true, Hirokazu's family is amazingly supportive of Kenta. I think it has to do with Takato: Hirokazu told them why he tried to kill himself and he said they didn't have any problem beyond the fact that was the reason he tried it. They even gave him some get well gifts and talked to him. Hirokazu says they even know Kenta likes him and that Hirokazu almost wishes he could feel the same. He even said, "I think, if I somehow went gay, they'd be all for us. My Dad even said he was proud of me for helping Kenta deal with bein' gay when I told him about how I found out! I-I didn't think they'd support him so much, they were even a little pissed when they heard about the 'dirty little secret' thing! My Dad talked to Kenta, telling him he's always welcome at our place…My family's been really cool about everything with Takato and Kenta. I'm freakin' relieved!" Me, too, since…Eventually, I'll have to come out and, like with Kenta and Takato, everyone's family will know.
Ruki and Ryou found out after Takato was released…Ryou freaked out, actually, when he heard. He said he didn't want to lose a "close friend and fellow Tamer" like that, especially over something that didn't bother him at all.
Ruki, actually, gave Takato the hit Hirokazu gave the wall outside of his room. She teared up, screaming, "YOU IDIOT! Don't you DARE even think of…DAMN IT! You're a fucking idiot, Takato! If…If you…AUGH!" That was when she gave him a hard smack to the head.
I almost screamed at her for it, but Takato spoke first, "I-I deserved that…I'm sorry, Ruki. I-I don't know what I was thinking—"
"Because you weren't thinking, stupid! I-I…If you died, Takato, I'd never forgive you for it! I'd kick the shit outta your corpse!" …I never thought I'd see Ruki cry like that, especially over Takato. "Just…Just be happy again. Or I'm going to kick your ass from here to Hokkaido and back! Wh-What the hell's wrong with you?"
I had to intervene at that point. "Ru-Ruki! Stop! Please, he won't do it again! Takato's…Takato's himself again, re-really. He was…Ruki, we know it was a…bad reason but…He was convinced we'd all hate him for it. He thought we'd all…"
"Yeah, yeah…I get it…Sorry, Takato but…You...Takato, you're one of my few friends. You got a problem then fucking talk to us! Don't…Don't think a handful of pills and a razor…Gods, you IDIOT!"
Takato cried a little since none of us had any idea Ruki actually cared so much about…Any of us! But, well, I-I guess…the idea of losing Takato, it scared all of us. Even now, just thinking about what could have happened…
…I never told Takato or anyone else but, that night at the hospital when I fell asleep in the chair next to him, I woke up in the middle of the night because I had a nightmare. It was Takato's funeral, if he had succeeded in killing himself. I woke up crying.
Takato was asleep at that point and, well, I sort of…I sort of listened to the sound of his breathing and watched his vitals monitor for…I don't even know how long. Just because I had to know he was still breathing. his heart was still beating. He was still there.
He was still alive.
That night…took years off my life, I think. I told Takato, again, that morning about how I never wanted to picture life without him as at least my friend. He cried since I…sort of broke into a rant about how much he meant to me. That was…That was when I proved to him I had no problem with his orientation. And felt the same way.
I kissed him. Not that kiss on the forehead I was afraid Hirokazu and Kenta saw but on the lips. I said, "Don't do this again…Because I love you, Takato."
That stunned him. even after what I said about the tree the night before being an "excuse" to be close to him, afraid that was the last straw for his "sick obsession."
"Je-Jen…What did…you say?"
"…I love you, Takato. I-I…I really do. That's why I was so afraid you were mad at me when you avoided me, why I…wanted to climb that tree so I could hold you so you wouldn't fall…I did it because I love you. I was just too afraid to ever tell you. I'm sorry, I-I should have th-then…You might not have…"
…I started crying. Takato begged me to stop
"Je-Jen, don't cry. Please, don't cry. I-I'm sorry, I'm sorry I did this. I-I…I thought of you the entire time I thought…I was going to…" He said that the night before but, with Hirokazu and Kenta, we never really went into detail on that.
"…I knew how sad it would make you, I didn't want to hurt you and how selfish it was that I wanted to kill myself because of how I'd feel if you…did the same. But, at the time, I wanted to be selfish because I was so afraid of losing you as even a friend if you found out…"
"…That's why I never told you, Takato, I-I didn't want to lose, you as, at least, a friend. I-I wish I told you. Would you have still thought of yourself as…?"
"…Before? I-I don't know…Now? N-No. I-I love you, too, Jen. I'm so sorry I almost…I knew you'd be upset and miss me but knowing you feel the same? …I couldn't…Even if I still felt…I-I…"
He cried again. I did, too…We cried for a while, I held him and he did his best to do the same but, well, suicide cases are usually handcuffed to their bed to prevent them from trying anything like, um, Jialing told me about cases who, after they take off the cuffs, still try things like hiding and taking high doses of medication, finding surgical instruments or, as a last resort, chewing on and blowing air into their IV tube…Takato was "safe" at that point, though, they took off the handcuffs a little later at his parents' request…We knew he wouldn't try anything ever again.
"Thank the Gods, Takato…I-I don't know what I'd do without you, especially like this."
"Thank you, Jen…I-I'm sorry for scaring you so much."
"Just promise you'll never consider…"
"I-I won't…Not after all this, I promise."
And…I kissed him again.
I let out a quiet sigh as I turn back to my desk, "I-I…I want to tell them, but…"
"Dude, go for it," Lianjie says. "If anyone has a problem, I'll be there."
"Have you ever thought about how you'd tell everyone…? I mean, I-I don't even know where I'd begin if I were you."
I shrug. "It's not something I thought about until recently. When I found out about Takato and Kenta, I was relieved that I wasn't alone but…I-I didn't even tell Hirokazu and Kenta until a little while ago. There was an assembly that, um, we didn't really appreciate. In a sense."
"What do you mean?"
"It was a 'teens and suicide' assembly to help anyone who felt like Takato did, but they announced they planned it because 'a student' almost killed himself over 'fear of being ridiculed for being gay.' And, well, everyone sort of knew they meant Takato, the entire school knew what happened but not why. We…actually ditched it with him. A couple teachers were upset but Takato and, especially, his family told them they didn't mind the idea of the assembly but didn't like the fact it more or less outted Takato to the entire school."
"Yeesh," Lianjie rolls his eyes. "I'll stop by your school at some point to tell the principal he's a moron for that one…I mean, if anything'd make me 'relapse,' let's say…" He trails off.
I nod. "Takato didn't mind too much, no-one really makes fun of him or Kenta. And Hirokazu and I keep an eye out for both of them, now. Nothing really came of it, but we felt they should have at least asked Takato if he'd mind or something like that…" Takato told us he probably would have preferred that they leave out the 'gay' part of the assembly, or at least not make it a central theme! Juri saw it, a lot if was about 'misconceptions' on gays and how stressful it could be. We at least hoped it would help anyone who was in Takato's position, but…
…They could have been a little more subtle. Even she was a little annoyed when she heard people whispering around her, "Takato's gay? That's why he tried to off himself?" and things like that.
Actually, Juri got her first detention since before we left for the Digital World: She hit a guy who actually said, "Too bad he screwed it up." She didn't regret it, she said. And we know how much it would take t provoke Juri into punching someone.
Granted, if Hirokazu were there, that guy would have been dead, probably. Hirokazu, um, punched another wall when Juri told him. Thankfully, like the first time, he somehow didn't break his hand. Kenta told him, "Hiro-kun, we need to buy you a stress ball or some sort of portable punching bag…Either that or 'Wall-Related Anger Management.'"
"At least he's got you and that Hiro-guy…I heard how good a punch he can throw," Lianjie says. "But, you kept it from them, too? I mean, uh, Kenta's gay, too, right?"
"I know, but…It's something I always kept in the back of my mind. I denied it whenever I wasn't around Takato, I guess. So, when…it happened…" I clear my throat, hiding a light sob. I can't think of that night without getting emotional. "…I had to at least tell Takato that I, um, had the same 'obsession,' but didn't think it was 'sick.'"
Lianjie nods. "Get your first kiss out of it?" Er…! I-I can't believe he asked that or the grin he's got right now! I really can't!
"N-No…No comment!" I say, quickly, my face turning red. Lianjie just laughs.
"I'll take that as a 'first to fifth,'" Lianjie smirks. He crosses his arms, nodding his head to the door. "Dinner'll be ready soon, you know…Wanna tell everyone then? Or, at least, if you wanna gauge their reaction: Tell them why he did it." Lianjie's smirk leaves his face as he adds. "I mean, if Takato wouldn't mind, that is."
I shake my head. "He wouldn't, actually…Um, his family even tried to pair him up with someone before they knew he and I were together. They had dinner together, Takato's Dad set it all up. It was the son of one of their flour suppliers."
"…Seriously? Takato's Dad arranged a blind gay date for him?" Ye-Yeah, we all thought that was sort of funny, even Takato. Lianjie does so, too, going by how hard he's trying not to laugh. "So-Sorry, Jianliang, but…! Ha ha ha…I-I can't believe it!"
"Ye-Yeah, Takato told me his date was disappointed when Takato told him he was with someone but told him Kenta might be interested." Takato gave Kenta his phone number, I haven't heard if anything's happened yet, but, Kenta looked really excited at the time…
…And, oddly enough, Hirokazu looked a little jealous. Ruki, of course, was there to point it out, complete with Hirokazu denying such an accusation.
"Hope they're happy together," Lianjie says.
"This…really doesn't bother you?"
"You're my brother, you're happy, I'm happy." Lianjie shrugs. Does that apply to 'you drive me insane, you're insane,' by any chance, Lianjie? "So. gonna tell the family? Like I said, I'll bac—"
There's a knock on my door, Jialing speaks up, "Hey! Dinner's ready! You two gonna join us or what?"
"Comin', Jialing!" Lianjie says, standing up. He looks to me. "So…?"
"…Maybe, we'll see how dinner goes." I say, getting up as well. We both go to the door and into the hall. The table is set with dinner: Baozi, some home-made nigiri and stir-fried vegetables.
I sit down with Lianjie, he's already making up a plate with extra baozi. It's his favorite dish at dinner.
We eat quietly, I look to my parents. "…Mom, Dad, um, can I…tell you something about, well, what almost happened a few weeks ago? If…you don't mind."
Mom and Dad exchange a confused glance, while Jialing and Xiaochun's expressions both change. Jialing looks concerned while Xiaochun looks sad, almost tearful. She had one of the worst reactions to the news. Jialing told me it took almost an hour to calm her down, she couldn't stop crying.
Dad finally speaks. "If you want to, Jianliang….I know it's a difficult topic for you. We were all worried that night when you left and didn't come home, but especially after you and I spoke. I'm so sorry you almost lost your friend that night."
"What do you want to tell us?" Mom asks. "If it's important to you, we'll listen."
"It's…very important. It's, um, why Takato…did what he did," I say, quietly. None of us ever use the 's-word' when the topic comes up. We avoid it and the 'k-word' or 'd-word' as much as possible. "He's…gay." I say, quietly. "And he was afraid everyone would hate him because of it, especially um…Who he said he had a 'sick obsession' with. He…He couldn't handle it."
Dad nods. "That…makes sense. For Takato, I mean. To be honest, I've…had a feeling about him."
"Me, too," Jialing adds, she looks to me. "Can I guess who that 'obsession' was?"
I stammer. "Er…!"
Jialing holds back a smirk. "Knew it. I know how he looks whenever he's around you, Jianliang."
"I-It…It wasn't an issue for me. And…Kenta helped him a lot, he's gay, too," I say, hoping Jialing didn't just out me! I-I was working up to that, Jialing!
"Do you like him back?" Suddenly I realize the mistake in bringing this topic up with Xiaochun at the table.
"Xiaochun, let Jianliang talk on his own about that," Mom says, looking to me. "If she is right, though, Jianliang, we understand."
"…She is," I whisper. "I-I'm sorry I hid it for so long, I never wanted to really, um, tell anyone like Takato did. Just…Not to that extent."
"As long as he's accepting of himself and happy," Dad says. "I admit, I'm a little surprised, Jianliang, you…never quite struck me as gay."
I nod. "Tha-Thank you for the support."
"Jianliang told me in his room," Lianjie says. "I told him I'd back him up if anyone did complain." He says.
"We have no objections, Lianjie, you can calm down," Mom says. "Especially if it means Takato's...okay, now."
"H-He is," I say. "I-I told him how I felt that night, after Hirokazu and Kenta left." I explain. "He said, after he…tried it…he was upset at how sad I'd be if he…" I whisper the last word. "…Succeeded."
"I couldn't even imagine that, Jianliang," Dad says. "We know how close you and Takato have always been. That's why this isn't too much of a shock to us. Especially Xiaochun, apparently."
"Takato smiles a lot when he sees Jianliang, ever since the Digital World," Xiaochun says. "I kinda suspected it."
"You did?" I ask, Xiaochun nods. "Even me?"
"You and Takato were really close, especially since you were always alone as a kid. I knew you had to like him a lot!"
"Yeah, I remember how happy you'd get whenever I said 'Takato's here' or something, too," Jialing adds. "Smiling like crazy half the time! Ha, looking back...It's not all that subtle, when you think about it. I'm amazed Xiaochun's the only one who 'knew' for so long..." Er…! Jia-Jialing...
I-I really wish my sisters knew when not to say something that can give me a heart attack...Unlike Lianjie, they don't do it intentionally (most of the time), but I appreciate the support, at least. I-I just don't like the idea that I was obviously in love with Takato...
...Though, I shouldn't mind. I really, really need to learn to be more open about this so I guess Jialing and Xiaochun's 'observations' are a good thing. In a sense.
Lianjie holds back a laugh. "Nothin' ever gets by Xiao, does it?"
"Apparently not…" Dad trails off. He looks to me, I'm sure I'm bright red. "Relax, Jianliang. It's not a problem."
"Thanks, again," I whisper. "Takato really is doing a lot better, we're all behind him. Kenta took it the hardest, though, he wishes he told Takato about himself a long time ago."
"I'm sure, but…Takato would understand why he'd keep quiet about it, right?" Jialing asks. "Is Kenta seeing anyone?"
"Possibly, his family…didn't react very well, Kenta's sort of a 'dirty secret' right now, they don't even want Hirokazu near him."
"Why Hirokazu? Is he…?" Jialiang trails off.
I shake my head. "No, but they think he and Kenta were dating. The Shiotas have no problem with Kenta, they let him stay over constantly. Kenta, um, kind of needs it right now, actually. His family isn't making it easy for him." It's true, Kenta's become a little depressed but nothing close to what Takato was. He says he can handle it, thanks to everyone else's support…
…Juri even went as far as willing to pretend to be his girlfriend if he 'went straight' for his family. Kenta told her he wouldn't feel right doing that, despite Juri's insistence. And he has his own way of "dealing" with his father, he's mentioned a few times…Mostly sarcastic "reminders" every time a "straight pitch" comes up.
My family and I talk for a while about everything that happened. I appreciate their support, even though I wish my sisters didn't jump straight to the, well, as my own mother later described as "the obvious outcome." I-I couldn't believe she said that, but she asked me to invite Takato to dinner soon. She'd make his favorite baozi for us.
I'm back in my room, I dial Takato's number.
"Hey, Takato. I, ah, I just...I just told my family about us." I probably should have prepared a little. I'm actually a little nervous about telling him I came out. Mostly for the fact that, well, Takato's okay now but he's always been prone to "worry-related freak outs." I need to be sound more confident, I don't want him to think I'm hiding any negative reaction or something like that.
"You…what? It went well, right? E-Everything's still...okay, right?" As I thought, I sounded too worried. Takato sounds twice as scared as I was.
"The-They took it well! Re-Really! Actually, all three of my siblings sort of guessed." Lianjie by the look on my face, Jialing by who Takato was 'obsessed' with and Xiaochun through…smiles of all things.
"E-Everything's okay? I-I mean…Why?"
"I just felt bad that, well, ever since…that night…You don't have to hide while I do," I say. "I didn't want to force you back to where you were…so miserable, Takato. I thought it would be best if neither of us had to hide anymore."
"Tha-Thank you, Jen, but…You didn't have to, I-I understood why you didn't want them to know."
"I know, but…I only know a taste of how hard it is keep this hidden, compared to you. I-I don't want you to think I was ashamed of us or anything like that, too." That was why I'd been dwelling on that night so much lately, I felt like I was forcing Takato back into "that place" he was so miserable, that place that almost drove him to kill himself…Because I was too afraid to tell anyone about myself. I was afraid even telling Hirokazu and Kenta, at first. That's…That's not fair to Takato at all. I guess some of what drove me to want to come out was guilt. And the fact Lianjie, well, guessed and still said Takato was awesome of all things made me confident enough to tell everyone else…I always felt better if I had Lianjie's support, from when I was a little kid to even now. Especially tonight.
Thank you, Lianjie.
"…It was hard for me, Jen, but…I also wasn't thinking that night. I-I'm so sorry I scared everyone."
"As long as you're happy, now, you're forgiven, Takato," I say. "My Mom even wants you to come to dinner for baozi soon. Whenever you're up for it."
"Tell her 'thanks,' Jen, I'll clear it with my parents as soon as possible." Takato laughs a little. "I'm so glad they took it well."
"If I got Lianjie's support, I figured that the rest of my family would take it well…My Dad was a little surprised, though." I can't blame him, Ruki didn't see it coming when we eventually told her.
"…Jen's gay? Takato, are you sure you're still not stoned on that vicodin?"
"Trust me, Ruki, I'm…gay."
"Looove the hesitation to say the g-word, Jen. Work on that, okay?"
Hirokazu even felt the need to add, "He was afraid of tellin' me and Kenta for weeks, Ruki."
"You…And KENTA? Jen was afraid to come out to Kenta? Kenta, you don't object to Jen's perverse lifestyle choice, do you?"
"Only when I scream 'copycat' at him," Kenta sort of likes to tease me for being afraid to tell someone else who was gay after he had come out to help me prepare for meeting with Takato. I don't mind…Too much. He never starts it, though.
"See, Jen? As shocking as it sounds: Gays can accept their own. When's Hirokazu gonna confess to Kenta, though?"
"We're just friends, Ruki."
"With or without benefits, Hirokazu?"
…I admit, we all had a good laugh at that. Kenta almost encourages jokes like that from Ruki, actually. He sees it as her "most sincere form of acceptance." Juri wasn't quite a fan at first, worried she might upset Takato, but she stopped feeling that way after seeing how hard he managed to laugh at one of those jokes. Takato shares Kenta's view, I think.
"He was surprised…in a good way…right?" Takato asks, nervously.
"Of course. I don't need a place to stay or anything like that, Takato. We're really accepted."
"Thank the Gods…And…Thank you, Jen-chan, I-I appreciate the support, especially since…I-I was so scared about what would happen if anyone found out, let alone my family."
"Like I said, Lianjie's support was more than enough to make me feel at ease," to a degree. "He said you're 'awesome,' by the way. And a 'good catch.'"
"Ha ha ha, re-really?"
"I'm inclined to agree with him…" I trail off, smiling. Takato laughs a little more.
It's been a week, everything really is "cool" with our families. Kenta even has an extra place to stay after I gave more details on how his family took to his orientation.
Lianjie was actually pissed. I had to talk him out of calling Kenta and telling him to come to our place until his parents accepted him! Not because I don't support Kenta and, definitely, do not agree with his parents but more the fact….
…Lianjie was tempted to deliver the message personally so he could kick Mr. Kitagawa's ass for it! I-I had to calm him down. Thank the GODS they just released a new Final Fantasy, that managed to distract him really well. Final Fantasy: The best Lianjie distraction next to Suikoden and Dynasty Warriors. I still passed his "invitation" along to Kenta, though. Kenta really appreciated it, his Dad is starting to drive him insane by trying to 'turn him straight' whenever there's a female Idol on TV or something…
…Kenta admits, he does get a laugh from the annoyed look he sometimes gets for his, obviously sarcastic, responses:
"Eh, her boobs are too big for my taste…I prefer more them to be more…non-existent."
"You talking about her or that cute back up dancer to the right behind her? He looks great in those tight pants, you know..."
"Yeah, wonder if she's got a brother."
"I have to find out who does her make-up!"
…And his favorite: "Oh, GODS! Breasts! They look beautiful in that blouse! And her hair! Oh, that beautiful hair! I'm filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions, like, who does her hair? And is he local? And cute? And, well, of course he's gay, I don't need to wonder about that. But I LOVE those shoes, too! I sooo need to look up the designer online! They match her skirt so well!"
…Kenta's not backing down over the whole 'it's a phase, we're not telling anyone about this phase, none of our friends or extended family can ever hear about this horrible phase' thing. He's getting kinda bold about it, actually, especially after his Dad told him he's "not gay, just very confused." Hirokazu said he's never been more proud of his best friend, especially after Kenta mimicked the look his Dad usually gives him.
Though, Kenta admits: His Dad might have gotten his hopes up that Kenta really did suddenly "go straight" just before that hair and fashion rant. Ruki actually bought him ice cream to congratulate him on proving, without a doubt, and I quote, "Kenta's as gay as it gets."
That's right, Ruki bought Kenta ice cream for being gay. …I secretly think she wants to be somoene's fag hag, except she's already named Hirokazu as Kenta's official fag hag...
…Surprisingly, Hirokazu was not that upset about having that title. He suggested, "What about being his Hetero Bro?"
"Homo Bro fits you better, Shiota."
And, like Kenta, I got a "treat" for being such a "good out and proud boy" from Ruki: She treated Takato and I to some mochi from a sweet shop she just bought. Ruki's Ruki, and we did enjoy the mochi…
…She swore the fact they were rainbow colored was "purely coincidental," it's just a type from that shop she really likes. She does like to call it "gay pride mochi." It was a couple days after I came out to my family.
Takato had that dinner with us, too, last weekend. He was a little nervous but calmed down once Lianjie asked if he could be 'one of the best men' at 'the wedding.' He even promised to help me pick out a ring! I'm still in shock over how he's taking this…
We're…in our tree, now, actually. It's, um, where I thought the 'last straw' for Takato took place. He actually had to talk me into using it again a little after he was released from the hospital. I've been really careful about 'reminders.' Even to the point of tearing up when I found a bottle of vicodin in the medicine cabinet prescribed to my Dad, it's a really old bottle, but…Well, it's…what Takato thought 'killed him' instead of putting him to sleep like it did. Thank the Gods it just knocked him out…
…Jialing did tell me, though, if it was the kind with aspirin instead of Tylenol, Takato might have died. Thank the Gods he didn't think to take a known blood thinner, too.
"How's…it feel to be 'out' to everyone…?" Takato asks, I'm holding him in my arms.
"A…little awkward, but only because, um, Lianjie likes to know so many details. Just as much as Jialing and Xiaochun, actually." If it wasn't such a relief, I'd be a little freaked out over this…I know I shouldn't be, but I never knew this side of my brother existed! Kenta even told me, "One word Jen-kun: JEALOUS. I'd wish Lianjie was my brother, but then the fact I think he's really cute would be really wrong..." …Yes, Kenta has a little crush on my brother. As shocked as I was when he first told me: Lianjie is apparently "very cute."
My response was "Kenta, I will talk to you about ANY 'cute guy' on Earth EXCEPT LIANJIE LI!" Thank the Gods Ruki wasn't there to make the million and one 'twincest' jokes we both knew she'd make…
…I knew it was a mistake to tell her I liked Ouran: High School Host Club after coming out. Granted, even Kenta, Takato and I joke we're disappointed that Haruhi isn't really a guy…I regret also sharing that detail with Jialing at one point a few days ago…
…Jialing said she'd call a gay friend for some "Being Out And Proud 101" lessons for me, mostly because she noticed I was shaking when I was talking to her about Takato.
Speaking of her, um, I was also a little freaked out when Jialing decided to give me dating advice. Though, um, she would know the most about having a boyfriend out of all my siblings. Especially me, I'm still…getting used to this. But for Takato? I-I need to be completely comfortable with myself. I never thought of him as a 'sick obsession,' but…My feelings weren't exactly something I liked to think about alone. As hard was it was not to at times.
Takato leans his head back to look at me, slightly, "Ri-Rinchei-san wants details? Re-really? Ha ha ha! That's great, Jen," I'm so glad to see Takato smile. His smile…means more than ever right now. "A-And your parents?"
"…My Dad actually put an old photo of us in the living room last night, but wants and 'updated' version as soon as possible," It's so old, it's from our Digimon Taming days. Takato and I, arm in arm with 'V for victory' signs, it was part of a 'D-Reaper is D-Stroyed' party Hirokazu threw, even though it was…not too long after our partners' return, he wanted to focus on the positive aspects of that. Back when we thought Yamaki would get them back soon. It…sort of helped and didn't help, not until Hirokazu threatened to spike the punch if it would cheer us up…I actually think he did, I left the party feeling a little out of it.
I kiss Takato on the cheek. "Re—" I suddenly see a bright flash from some nearby bushes. "What the…? Did you see a…?"
Takato just nods. "Ye-Yeah, what was—"
"Hey! Dad! Got that updated photo for ya!" Lianjie suddenly stands up from behind the bushes, holding his cell phone to his ear. "…In a tree in the park! …No, really. K-I-S-S-I-N-G and everything, too! I got photographic evidence to prove it! …Ha ha ha! I'll tell ya if I see a baby in a baby carriage, too. …Science'll find a way, Dad! Jialiang'd make a great Mom!" …Did he just joke about me being PREGNANT? To our Father?
…Gods, please tell me the answer: Is Lianjie a blessing or PUNISHMENT FOR MY SINS? I'd really appreciate it if you could clarify that.
"Li-Lia-LIANJIE!" I shout.
"Gotta go, been spotted!" Lianjie puts his cell phone away with a grin, holding a digital camera in his hands. "What? Dad told you he wanted a photo more recent than six years ago!"
"Yo-You followed us here…?" I stammer, Takato's…actually trying his hardest not to laugh. Ta-Takato..!
I admit, Takato is like Kenta when it comes to being really open now that he knows we accept him. He likes joking with Ruki and Hirokazu, even! …I'm, apparently, the most closeted of the three of us. That can't be good.
"I was in the shadows, like a ninja the whole time!" Lianjie strikes a 'ninja' pose with his digital camera in place of a shuriken. "Gotta go home and print this! Jialing and Xiao're gonna love it!"
If I didn't have Takato in my arms, I'd be jumping down there to make sure that photo is destroyed! "We…We were…!" KISSING! Gods, please, tell me you took a few less embarrassing pictures before we caught you…!
"Ninja smoke bomb!" Lianjie just ducks back behind his bush, waits a few seconds and runs off with his head ducked, laughing.
I just…hold onto Takato, stammering like an idiot!
"Your family is amazing," he laughs. "Especially your brother." …Liar.
"Tha-Thannks…" No, Takato, they're going to drive me INSANE!
Eh, this has been in the works for a while. I thought I should end it on a funny note since Lianjie was involved. Lianjie's hard not to play for humor when it comes to driving Jen insane. Especially if Takato's involved, so it'd make sense Lianjie has a new means of driving his little brother insane, even if he supports their relationship. And I wanted to have some fun with how reluctant Jen is to admit he's gay in BR. And cover more on Kenta taking the "dirty little secret" thing with his family, I figured he'd let out his "inner-Hirokazu" and take a more sarcastic stand—Wait…Actually, I take it back, I think he's letting out his "Inner-Ruki."
The title's another Depeche Mode song. Yes, I love the 80s, I will never grow tired of the 80s…Hell, I even found out half the Japanese groups I like are from the 80s! And that wasn't intentional! I swear! Chinese, on the other hand? Eh, not sure when Andy Lau, Richie Ren and Zhou Jie Lun got their start so…Up in the air! Oh, and I totally recommend Richie Ren and Zhou Jie Lun\Jay Chou (Titian is awesome!) and Andy Lau's duet with Tony Leung: Mou Gaan Dou\Wu Jian Dao (Cantonese\Mandarin versions) from Infernal Affairs. Anyway, with the DM title: The lyrics…sorta fit the opening tone and Jen's feelings, but I wanted to lighten things after Lianjie figured things out. Especially since references to Ruki were made, too, Ruki's sarcastic put downs are always fun to write, especially if she's talking about our favorite Ambiguously Gay Tamers (Hirokazu and Kenta).
Oh, and regarding Ruki's "gay pride mochi." This is real, except I doubt the bakery really calls it "gay pride mochi," but it's a rainbow of pastel colors and…Yeah, it's the kind of Mochi you'd expect to see all around Little Tokyo during gay pride month. Gotta love the weird stuff you'll find in Little Tokyo if you look hard enough, and then sometimes you gotta be horrified of the weird stuff you'll find in Little Tokyo if you look hard enough…
…That's not a joke. I've seen...things. Things that haunt my nightmares now...
A fic in the Blasphemous Rumors continuity that is actually vaguely nice to Takato? Ori, are you feeling all right?
Ha ha ha, sorry, hard to resist that given what the original fic contained. But I'm glad Ori decided to cover Jen's side and the aftermath of Takato's "incident," we'll call it. Especially if Takato is comfortable enough to joke around with Ruki of all people! Congratulations, Takato! May we hope Ori continues this trend of niceness and doesn't write "Blasphemous Rumors: Director's Cut with NEW ALTERNATE ENDING!" And, yes, that's an actual threat from Ori when I used to beg a little too much for new Jenkato content from him. Thankfully, he's lightened up over the years: He just won't admit to it.
And, of course, it's always a pleasure to see Lianjie at his finest: Driving Jen insane. And Ruki as well. She'll never leave Hirokazu's "hetero"\bi\homo\Kentasexuality alone, will she?
Ori actually sent me some of that "gay pride" mochi he described, once, it's quite good. And, I agree, a very fitting nickname, Ori. I just wish you didn't write it so on the package. I had a bit of trouble explaining that one to my family. Then again, your laptop did come with the custom windows start up sound of "Gregory House, will you marry me?" From that "House plays Wilson's gay lover in a plan to sleep with the hot neighbor" episode (I still wonder how intentional the fact said laptop being set at full volume was). Unfortunately (for you, Ori), no-one else was home when the package arrived.
Though, if it makes you feel better, with said laptop I had an, as you would put it, "Hello. SMITHERS. You. Are. QUITE. Good. AT TURNING. me. ON!" "Promise you'll forget that" moment with a friend shortly afterward. That really is how Ori described the event after I told him, and yes, he found it quite hysterical.
Ori, confess, please: You take notes when you watch House, don't you? If not, I would be very impressed. And terrified that I may have given you an idea with that question.
EDIT NOTE: Ori requested I fix a major continuity error, where Jen in one paragraph refers to being "out" with his friends, then still in the closet in the next (When I edited this, I assume Ori meant the second paragraph in past tense) and then something similar with Takato's parents that I did miss. Our apologies for the errors! -Taiki Matsuki