Pride and prejudice with a Japanese and boys' love twist.
It is another universal truth that behind every successful man is a woman, or at least a dedicated PA.
Imai Tsubasa, having just lost his right-hand woman to a pesky little business called marriage, was in a rather foul mood. To make matters worse, he was inundated with offers of recommendation from his business associates. All who claim that their daughters, granddaughters, cousins, nieces and even nephews were perfect for the job. And he thought arranged dates by his mother were bad enough.
To escape it all, he decided on a weekend retreat in Okinawa. His good friend, Kamenashi Kazuya had a holiday villa there. Nishikido Ryo, Kame’s cousin would also be joining them.
While the three gentlemen all hail from illustrious families, they could not be more different in temperaments. Tsubasa was distant and aloof, Kame was generous and affable, and Ryo was acidic and poison-tongued. Despite their difference, Tsubasa and Kame through love for baseball had formed a fast friendship. More than friends, Tsubasa was like an elder brother that he didn’t have and Kame held him in high esteem.
Just as the gentlemen were making their long journey to Okinawa. Someone was already pacing around waiting for their arrival.
Mrs Takiwaza had been restless since she received word from Kame that he and his friends would be dropping by for the weekend.
By nature an anxious woman and easily excitable, she went to the shrine to thank the deities that her scheme was finally paying off. She didn’t work so hard at pestering her husband to get her this part-time caretaker position for nothing. She had hoped that she could pull some strings to get her favourite son, Pi, off this god-forsaken island. Here nothing ever happens, except unless the heir of some big-time Japan-wide hotel chain, like Kame of the Kamenashi Hotels decided to employ her very talented son.
Although she would not quite be able to pinpoint what Pi’s talent might be. He was such a sweet and pretty doll-face that everything he did pleased her, and that to her was talent enough. Besides, how different could running a countrywide hotel chain be from managing a family-run ryokan like theirs.
While Mrs Takizawa was anticipating the good fortune of the apple of her eye, the apple of Pi’s eyes was, on the other hand, his doting elder brother, Takki. In spite of always pretending to be embarrassed by his brother’s very public display of affection, whether it was a sneaky kiss or a unexpected hug from the back, he secretly enjoyed them. And he was more than contended with life on the small, uneventful island with his family of resigned father, whiney mother, pervy elder brother Takki and adorable younger brother, Yabu.
When she finally saw Kame up close, she was still caught off guard. Nothing in her inch-thick file of research could prepare her for Kame’s dashing good looks in person.
‘Are you Kamenashi-san?’ she gushed unbashingly.
‘Yes. And you are Takizawa-san, the caretaker I presume. Yoroshiku. We are sorry to have to trouble you during our stay here.’
‘My, my… so handsome and so nice too,’ Mrs Takizawa praised, and unable to resist, gave him a motherly pinch on his cheek; much to the alarm of his companions.
‘Ka-ching’ the cash register in her mind rang out loud.
‘And you sir are?’ she asked turning to Tsubasa.
Thinking that there was no need to reward unbecoming behaviour, Tsubasa remained silent.
‘He is Imai-san, my friend,’ Kame politely replied on his behalf.
‘From the international Capel Hotel Group?’ Mrs Takizawa wheezed, unable to catch her breath.
‘Ka-ching, ka-ching,’ the mental cash register rang more resoundly
‘Yes. You’re very well-informed, Madam,’ Kame appeared genuinely impressed.
‘MNC! Opportunities abound!’ She congratulated herself.
There just might be enough for her other two sons, she gleefully thought.
Ryo has not formally introduced as Mrs Takizawa had to hurriedly leave the room to pump some air and water back into her hyper-ventilating system. But he was not the least offended.
‘An obvious gold-digger of a mother if I ever saw one. And the worst kind, crude, coarse and very poor,’ Ryo concluded.
Kame hastily jumped to her defence and Tsubasa looked for some solace.
But before he could escape, she made them promise to visit her home that night for a welcome party.
Kame nodded, Ryo paled and Tsubasa frowned.
Ryo was taken aback when he saw the rest of her family. But he couldn’t decide whether it was because there were no prospective brides to ambush them or that all her family members were sporting Hawaiian shirts and matching bermudas. Mrs Takizawa had insisted on the theme to create a welcoming feel for the VVIPs, much to her family’s collective mortification. But resistance was futile.
To majority of the visitors, the dinner was a torture. Awkward silence, peppered with bare minimum polite conversation and obviously forced smiles. But Kame thought very differently.
‘Have you ever been in more amiable company? And have you ever beheld a more handsome creature?’ Kame eagerly enquired when they were alone outside the veranda.
‘Yes, Yamashita-san is rather fetching,’ Tsubasa replied with little emotion.
‘Tolerable only, I’d say. But still the only bearable thing of this family. And did you notice that their living room is smaller than the size of your toilet?’ Ryo added.
Chiding Ryo with a disapproving look, Kame continued, ‘What about his elder brother, Hideaki-san? He’s very charming too. Full of life and very amusing.’
‘He has fine eyes,’ Tsubasa matter-of-factly answered, still devoid of emotion.
‘Coming from you... that’s a rare compliment indeed. Do I hear wedding bells?’ Ryo sniggered.
Arching his brow, Tsubasa cut him short, ‘It is presumptious of you to jump from admiration to love and love to marriage.’
Kame, however, was totally smittened; and occupied himself with Pi throughout the rest of evening. Not even Mrs Takizawa’s after dinner entertainment, a hilarious rendition of her all-time favourite hit, Venus, accompanied with the para para dance sequence, was able to distract him.
Unfortunately, his companions had no distraction to seek refuge from. And so they had to endure the full blow and suffer ramifications ranging from nauseas to temporary loss of good taste, coherent thinking and general sanity.
Thankfully for the visitors, Takki was quick enough to stop her, before she plunged into her next song, Samurai.
‘Okan, thank you! You have delighted us enough for the evening.’
Equally quickly, Mrs Takizawa then seized this opportunity to get Kame and Pi to do a karaoke duet of yet another of her favourite, Seishun Amigo.
Tsubasa and Ryo could hardly bear for their friend to suffer but they were still too traumatized to launch an effective rescue. On the contrary, Kame was having the time of his life. It was loads of fun dancing and singing with Pi. And it didn’t take them long to synchronise flawlessly to the music, steps and each other.
Seeing them, Mrs Takizawa almost cried tears of joy. Ryo, too, almost cried, but for reasons completely opposite. As much as Mrs Takizawa wished the same fate on her other sons, she had decided that Mr Imai was just too cold and callous to be a decent human being, much less a potential employer.
On their way home, Kame didn’t know if they drove home or flew home but he was on cloud nine.
Sharing his sentiments, Pi exclaimed to Takki, ‘Have you ever seen happier manners? Kamenashi-san’s wonderful, isn’t he?’
‘Yes, he’s very agreeable. And very handsome too,’ Takki playfully nudged his younger brother.
‘But I can’t say the same for his companion. That Mr Imai-san. Haughty, arrogant and too handsome.’
‘Since when is looking good a crime?’ Pi innocently asked.
‘When I feel threatened,’ Takki jokingly answered.
‘Baka, Ni-chan! You are and will always be the most beautiful in my eyes,’ Pi declared as he pulled his brother into bed and hugged him snuggly to sleep.
Oblivious to his friends’ protest, Kame decided to take up Pi’s offer to show them around the island the next day. Reluctantly, his friends tagged along. Although the Kame and Pi set off all bright and cheery, they had to cut their trip short as Pi was suddenly taken ill probably due to the scorching heat.
While Mrs Takizawa feigned concern over the phone, she was actually celebrating that Kame and Pi were spending quality time. But for Takki, upon hearing that his precious baby brother was ill, he immediately left for Kame’s villa where Pi was currently resting. Although it meant miles on foot, since their creeky old van had another relapse, Takki forged ahead.
By the time he had arrived, he looked understandably less for wear, safe for his glowing complexion.
Softly commenting on Takki, ‘Surely his disheveled appearance has affected your good opinion of his fine eyes?’
Slightly moved by Takki’s display of brotherly affection, Tsubasa replied, ‘Not the least bit. They were brightened by the exercise.’
Tearing himself from Pi, Kame warmly welcomed Takki and hurriedly ushered him to his brother. Although Kame was faultless in his attention to Pi, the latter failed to get any better.
When Takki didn’t join them for dinner, a mildly worrried Tsubasa thought he might pay them a visit.
But his good intention was lost when Takki opened the door, half-naked.
Apologising for his appearance, Takki explained that he had always preferred to go au naturel, insisting that nude is good. This time, uncharacteristically, Tsubasa couldn't agree more.
‘Are you leaving?’ Pi asked weakly, still groggy and half-asleep.
‘Stay with me.’
Takki climbed back into the king-sized bed. Running his fingers absentmindedly through Pi’s curls, he planted a soft peck on his forehead, saying ‘I’m right here.'
Further loosing himself in Pi's vulnerability, Takki planted yet another kiss, on Pi's pale lips.
'I love you.'
‘Let's sleep, yah,’ Pi whimpered, pulling him in.
As Takki made himself comfortable next to his needy baby brother, he signaled his apologies to Tsubasa.
As Tsubasa left the room, he was disturbed. Granted the display of brotherly love bordered on incest, he was however unsure if that was really what was bothering him.
In any case, he decided, 'It is dangerous to pay too much attention to Takizawa-kun'
Probably due to the healing powers of brotherly love, Pi was well enough to return home the very next day.
After Kame dropped Pi and Takki at their doorstep, he walked over to Pi and hugged him.
‘I’m so glad you’re all right. I wouldn’t know what to do if you weren’t.’
Pi only shyly smiled.
‘I’ll get back to your mother and you soon on the position in my company. I’m so happy that you’re on board,’ Kame beamed and flashed a mega-watt smile.
Seeing the two happy figures before him, Takki felt torn. Elated with the bigger and brighter future that awaits his precious brother and yet knowing that it would almost kill him to let him go.
Perhaps for pity of his poor heart, the good news Mrs Takizawa and Pi were waiting for never came……
Even after a month of waiting, there was no news.
Every time Mrs Takizawa wanted to call Kame for an update, Pi would stop her. He believed in the promise that Kame made to him. The way Kame looked deep into his eyes, into his soul, he knew those words to be true, even if the memory of them were starting to fade.
Pi’s hope died a slow and painful death.
It started with a confident ‘He’ll call. I know he will. He just needs time to make the arrangements.’
Then it became a hesitant, halfhearted ‘It should be soon now. I believe in him.’
Finally, a crest-fallen submission to fate, ‘If he doesn’t call, then I guess it’s not meant to be.’
Seeing his precious baby brother dejected like that, almost hurt Takki more than it did Pi. But he knew they belonged to different worlds and Kame, as nice as he was, was out of their reach. He reckoned that the truth would only hurt even more later. So he did nothing but silently suffered alongside his brother. All he could do was hug him when he missed Kame, and kissed his tears away when they fell.
Although Takki’s actions were only cold comfort, Pi feared that he would soon even be denied them.
Their Aunt Jinnifer in Tokyo had suddenly had a very bad fall and was currently bed-ridden, leaving her ryokan in the not-so-capable-hands of her young and inexperienced son, Jin.
Hearing this, the whole family agreed that it was best that Takki was there to help out. Jin was not called ‘Bakanishi’ for nothing. It was a collective and very real fear that he should burn down the business trying to fry an omelette for a guest.
Even Pi gravely agreed that Takki was sorely needed there.
‘No! Bakanishi! You don’t wash rice with detergent!’
Takki was exasperated. And he feared that soon, no amount of Jin’s goofy charms could keep him safe from his ‘akuma no te’ (hands of the devil).
‘Why don’t you just drop dead and do us all a favour?’
‘What?! And deny the world the most yummilicious eye candy cum hottest stud it had ever seen?’ Jin sounded almost genuinely concerned.
‘No worries. I’m still around,’ Takki cheekily assured as he mockingly attempted to attack his beloved cousin. Although Takki was the elder of the two, Jin was taller. But Jin good-naturedly let his older but smaller pro-wrestler wannabe cousin pin him to the ground.
‘Die, you curly airhead!’
‘No, you die, you Mr Tear-Mound!’
‘Oh just stop it, you two embarrassing narcissists! I would easily beat you guys hands down if I were a guy,’ Aunt Jinnifer chipped in, accompanied with a fling of her trademark curls.
That effectively silenced the two, for they knew that Jinnifer was out of their league.
With Takki around, Aunt Jinnifer was very much relieved. As much as she loved her son, Jin, she had never trusted him near a stove. So she was eternally grateful now that her guests would not starve to death or become charred remains in her ryokan.
With the handy helper around, she even managed to make time for a visitation from her dance partner.
‘What are you doing here?’ Takki asked, very surprised. It was a face he had never expected to see again.
‘I might ask the same of you,’ Tsubasa replied, equally surprised but his usual cool, calm and collected facade betrayed nothing.
It turns out that Tsubasa was Jinnifer’s dance partner and was here to inquire after her health.
And inquire about her health he did, every day. Being used to a let’s-get-down-to-business Tsubasa, even Jinnifer was taken aback by his sudden surge of concern. With Tsubasa, their dance practice always felt like a drill. No doubt, Tsubasa was good. He was very precise in his execution and synchronized flawlessly to the music, but his dance lacked soul. However, since there weren’t that many good male partners around, not to mention super rich and very good-looking ones, Jinnifer had to ‘settle’ for him.
‘Somebody’s gotta love this nobody’s child. Then it might as well be me,’ she ravenously thought to herself.
Despite her earlier ‘noble’ intentions, she had so far never made a move on him. Not for the lack of opportunity, though. When they dance, they would touch and look into each other’s eyes, but he would always feel like he was miles away. His eyes were distant, his smile rehearsed.
And she almost hated him. He was the first man to make her doubt her womanly charms. What kind of girl, she wondered, would ever melt a glacier like him?
Maybe, she was asking the wrong question.
‘Maybe he’s here so often because he misses my presence? And he’s starting to feel my weight in his heart?’ Jinnifer hopefully sought her son’s concurrence.
‘I’m not so sure about that. Right now, he’s busy feeling someone else’s weight.’
Jin pointed to a Tsubasa who was currently busy holding Takki up by his waist so as to help him reach a condiment on the top shelf.
That night’s dinner, a joint venture by Takki and Tsubasa, tasted unexpectedly sumptuous. Jin was in awe. He was stunned that Tsubasa could cook. Teh latter actually knew his way around the kitchen and even cooked for them! Jin had always figured that Tsubasa being the billionaire hotel magnate that he was, would have a kitchen staffed with world-class chefs on rotation.
Wanting to reward Tsubasa for his effort, Jin invited him to join them for their after-dinner onsen.
The onsen of choice was a humble and packed family-orientated onsen, a far cry from the exclusive private ones that Tsubasa was used to. Therefore, unused to sharing a pool with complete strangers, not to mention completely naked strangers, Tsubasa was fidgety and self-conscious. He was clearly uncomfortable but he persevered.
‘Why did he even bother coming? He’s sticking out like a sore thumb,’ Takki mumbled.
His impression of Tsubasa had slightly improved but he was still an enigma to him. Although they were seeing more of each other, there was rarely anything more than unbroken silence between them.
‘Maybe to see you naked?’ Jin profoundly reasoned.
‘Love makes you do silly things, ne?’ Winking at Takki, Jin towel-slapped him playfully on his naked butt.
‘Are you insane?’
‘Nope, unlike someone we know, I’m not insane or in love.’
Maybe Jin wasn’t such an airhead after all.
Uneasy and feeling like a fish out of water wasn’t going to make him leave any earlier, Tsubasa resolved. And his resolve was very much strengthened by Takki’s naked hard bod prancing around in front of him.
But ever in denial, he was still clueless as to what was actually making him so compelled to stay. It was certainly not the creepy lecherously drooling guy across the pool who kept staring at his ‘chin chin ii’. And watching Jin and Takki rub and scrub each other’s backs only made him feel lonely to the core.
‘YOU, massage me!’ Takki commanded.
‘Who died and made you God?’ Jin retorted.
‘I’m your senpai. Obey or die.’ Takki smugly asserted.
‘No, I fight! Fighting!’ Jin then boldly groped Little Takki in retaliation.
‘You're going down, you pervert!’ Takki masterfully tickled Jin’s sensitive collarbone, eliciting in the most cringe-worthy shriek anyone had ever heard. It was then followed by equally discomforting fits of girly giggles, unbefitting of any grown man.Takki was no less of a scene, recklessly abandoning himself to bouts of uncontrollable laughter.
Jin and Takki were making such a spectacle of themselves that Tsubasa had to distance himself. Reluctantly, he wadded across the pool to sit next to the not-so-secret admirer of his ‘chin chin’. He wasn’t sure if it was the heat from the hot spring or the blatant gawks he continued to receive from his shamelessly sleazy neighbour, but Tsubasa was hot and very bothered.
It was not until Takki decided that he too had to distance himself from Jin, that Tsubasa's emotions piped down a little. But not for long.
Parking himself into the only other available space, which happened to be right next to Tsubasa, Takki made himself comfortable, closed his eyes then placed a wet towel over his face.
All seemed peaceful, except for the stirring in Tsubasa’s heart and in his brother down south.
Involuntarily, Tsubasa could feel himself inch closer to Takki. And when they were close enough, he felt his little pinky stretch outwards to touch Takki’s. When they made contact, Tsubasa felt his heart swell and spirit soar. An onslaught of emotions overwhelmed him. In that moment he thought he finally understood what happiness was!
To thank them for a very enjoyable evening, Tsubasa invited them to a star-studded charity gala dinner that he was hosting over the weekend.
Under the coercion of a very excited Jin, Takki the would-be chaperone unwillingly accepted the invitation.
So when Tsuabsa saw Jin all alone, except for the bevy of ladies circling around him, he was very surprised and hugely disappointed.
‘My cousin was suddenly unwell and had to stay put,’ Jin explained.
‘Face turned all ashen. You might want to inquire after his health too,’ Jin encouraged.
And inquire after his health, Tsubasa did. He even cut his speech short so that he could leave the event earlier.
When Tsubasa finally saw Takki, it was worse than he had anticipated. His eyes were red, swollen red.
Seeing Takki all vulnerable like that, Tsubasa’s heart went out to him. But being inept at handling touchy situations like this, Tsubasa was at a loss. He tried to sit but was too anxious. He tried to stand still but was too nervous.
Then silence suffocating his mind, he blurted, without thinking and with eyes firmly shut, ‘In vain I have struggled, this will not do. My feelings will not be repressed.’
‘Stay with me!’
‘Erm…what I mean to say is... be my PA! My Personal Assistant.’ Tsuaba hurriedly corrected, alarming even himself with his sudden confession.
Peering a look at Takki, and mistaking his deer-in-the-headlight-look for encouragement, Tsubasa continued.
‘Although we come from very different background, and you may not have the necessary qualifications or experience, I hope you’d work for me. Coming from a small country town, I don’t know what qualifications you might have, if any. But I am willing to overlook it if you’d be with me, I mean… work for me.’
Pausing for breath, Tsubasa added, ‘It’s an offer many would jump at and I’m sure you have no reason to decline. So what do you say?'
Although Tsubasa sought for confirmation, he was quietly confident. It was an offer few could refuse. And it was almost unheard of, to refuse the great Imai Tsubasa. Besides, Tsubasa was certain that he was Takki's opportunity of a lifetime.
Understandably, Takki’s astonishment was beyond words.
But finally, he found the right word.
Tsubasa was suddenly suspended in disbelief. Did Takki just refused him?
Seeing Tsubasa lose his composure, Takki felt a slight pang of compassion.
‘I’m sorry to have to reject your generous offer. But I’ve never desired your good intention, much less ever dreamt of working for you.’
‘Why, might I ask?’
Takki eyed him in amazement.
‘He’s not the sharpest pencil in the box, is he? Well, certainly not the kindest.’ Takki thought.
‘If you weren’t so eloquent on the inferiority of my background, or so articulate on how little you thought of me, I might even be obligated enough to feel a tingling of gratitude. But that’s of little concern.’ Takki paused to contain himself.
‘I could never be tempted by the man, who had perhaps forever, ruined the happiness of a most beloved brother.’
If Tsubasa was only shaken earlier, he was now stirred as well.
‘I just heard from Aunt Jinnifer that you had earlier dissuaded Kamenashi-san from an imprudent employment from the countryside.’
‘She doesn’t know who. But it’s my brother, right?’
Thinking back on the acute misery Pi suffered, waiting for news that never came, Takki got all flushed and agitated.
With forced tranquility, Tsubasa finally uttered.
‘You love your brother and I love mine. Kame is like a brother to me. And I only ever wanted to save him the heartache of being with someone, I thought was a mummy’s boy simply following the orders of his mummy dearest.’
Daring himself to continue, Tsubasa explained, ‘This might be improper. But even you have to admit that your mother had been acting every bit the part of a gold-digger. It was obvious that she had been scheming for your brother to get into Kame’s good books then into his company.’
‘I’m sorry that I failed to realize that there was genuine affection behind it all.’
‘Affection? I’m surprised that an arrogant, conceited and selfish person like you would ever be acquainted with such an emotion!’
Takki was clearly still livid and of the unyielding opinion that Tsubasa was of little merit.
‘You have said quite enough. I understand your feelings fully and am now ashamed of my own. Forgive me for taking so much of your time, and please get well soon.’
With that, Tsubasa and Takki parted ways.
Wanting to thank her sister for allowing Takki help out at her ryokan, Jinnifer invited her and her family to Tokyo for the weekend. And since Jinnifer had recovered completely from her fall, she happily went about making the arrangements for their visit, an operation she dubbed, Jinnifer’s Delight.
At the airport, she proudly proclaimed to the Takizawa family that ‘Jinnifer’s Delight’ would be the experience of a lifetime.
But to Pi, reuniting with his brother, Takki was enough of an experience. Although they called each other every night and air-kissed each other to sleep, nothing beat having Takki in his arms and squeezing the living daylights out of him.
While the others ventured ahead, Takki was lagging far behind trying to hoist a struggling Pi into the air.
‘I need to weigh you. You seemed to have lost weight,’ Takki asserted.
‘Of course! I missed your cooking and senbeis,’ Pi sighed and with an air of resignation gave in to Takki’s advances. But in revenge, he insisted that Takki piggyback him to the car.
With Pi’s arms draped around his shoulders and legs wrapped around his waist, Takki cheekily asked, ‘Is that all you missed?’
True to Aunt Jinnifer’s words, when they exited the airport, there was a shiny white stretch limousine waiting for them. Seeing their astonished faces, Jinnifer carelessly brushed it aside, saying, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’
The real catch was actually what was inside, waiting for the longest time.
As she opened the door, a long awaited face appeared, Kame’s.
‘Isn’t he the prettiest thing alive? And this pretty boy claims to know you and insisted that he’s in your itinerary.’
Pi’s eyes popped and Mrs Takizawa’s cried. It seemed she was even happier to see Kame than Takki. Watching the two was akin to seeing a tearful reunion between a doting mother and her long-lost son. Pi had unfortunately no part in this yet, but he was too overwhelmed to know what to do either. Feeling completely lost, all he could do was cling tightly onto Takki’s hand for comfort.
When Mrs Takizawa finally let Kame go, Kame asked to speak to Pi alone for a while.
Seeing that his mother had forgiven and forgotten Kame’s broken promise so freely, Pi felt it wasn’t right to drag it out. Heartbroken as he was, Pi knew deep down that he could never hate Kame or even be slightly angry at him. Pi was soft-hearted and good-natured like that, so ready to forgive and trust again.
‘I don’t dare to ask you to forgive me. But please just give me another chance to make it right,’ Kame pleaded sincerely.
‘You got me at hello,’ Pi giggled, trying to make light of the uncomfortably tense situation.
‘That’s so cheesy.... but I love it!’
Kame’s expression relaxed and he was now bashfully smiling, an expression mirrored by Pi.
‘Is this palace-lookalike your hotel?’ Mrs Takizawa gasped.
‘No. I’m afraid that my branch in town is fully booked for a convention. But this one’s even better. It’s the only seven-star hotel in Japan. And you know the owner too, my friend, Imai-san. He was the one who informed me of your family’s visit to Tokyo.’
‘How did he know?’ Mrs Takizawa asked, massively puzzled.
‘Oh, I told him. We happen to be dance partners,’ Jinnifer explained.
‘You mean that stiffy can dance?’
‘’Very well, in fact.’
Admiring the majesty of Tsubasa’s very fine hotel, Mrs Takizawa was experiencing a paradigm shift.
‘Perhaps, I’ve been too harsh on him. Maybe deep down inside, he’s really a very sweet boy.’
Meanwhile, Takki was horrified at the possibility of meeting up with this ‘very sweet boy’ that he had unceremoniously rejected earlier.
Upon hearing that Tsubasa was out of town, he reluctantly agreed to step into the hotel.
It turned out that Tsubasa was a very sweet boy indeed. He not only arranged the presidential suite for them but also painstaking instructed the butler that the mini-bar be stocked with Takki’s favourite senbei and sake. And all these privileges and pampering were, of course, on the house.
In their luxurious suite, on a plush designer sofa, looking out into Tokyo’s cityscape, Mrs Takizawa had never been happier. Pi was happy too, gazing into Kame’s eyes. Yabu was happy too, jumping on his king sized bed with his cousin, Jin. Only Takki was less than happy, thinking about Tsubasa.
And they say you attract what you fear.
For dinner, they were ushered by the butler into a posh, award-winning French restaurant in the hotel.
Dinner was going well and Takki was gradually beginning to unravel his nerves. Lulled by the soft music and soothing ambience of the restaurant, he was starting to feel that it was safe to be here. That was until the appearance of a very unexpected visitor.
Seeing that visitor, Takki panicked.
‘Argh…’ Takki struggled as he chocked on an escargot.
Unfortunately, everyone seemed too preoccupied to notice. Mrs Takizawa was engaged in a finger game with Jinnifer. Jin was busy making advances on Yabu. Even Pi was busy locking eyes with Kame to notice his brother flailing away.
And so it was left to Tsubasa to save the day.
He hurriedly applied first aid, which promptly forced the intruder flying out.
With Tsubasa’s arms still wrapped around his chest, Takki asked, ‘I thought you were out of town?’
‘The wings of the plane gave way before take off. Besides, I have some pressing business here anyway,’ Tsubasa coolly replied.
Observing Tsubasa, it seemed that his earlier refusal had no lasting effect on him. He was back to his former composed self, except not entirely. Tsubasa was strangely gentler now. It was as if he had transformed from Ice Man to Ice Cream Man. After dinner, he personally showed them around his hotel and assured them that all facilities and services were complimentary.
His hospitality even extended to the next day, in which he escorted them around town. Since Kame had excused himself so that he could show Pi around his company, Tsubasa took his place. He patiently accompanied them to a kabuki, an ikebana exhibition and even carried their shopping. Yabu and Jin were mightily impressed, for even they couldn't tolerate the torture and left midway for more stimulating pursuits. When Jin persuaded Takki to escape with them, the latter could not bear to leave Tsubasa alone to fend for himself and chose to stay.
It was a decision that took a huge toil on Takki’s mental and physical well-being. He could not decide which was more of a strain, the sedated and mind numbing feminine ‘pleasures’ or be in close company of Tsubasa, a spurned suitor, and having to watch him struggle to maintain that unreasonably bright fakeness on his face.
Exhausted and with screaming feet, they crammed themselves into the already packed lift, aching to return to their suite quickly. In the jam-packed lift, Tsubasa could feel his hands pressed onto Takki’s. In that moment, he recalled how in the onsen, he touched a semi-conscious Takki for the first time. And the euphoria he felt then once again flushed his senses. He was expecting Takki to hastily move his hands away, now that he was conscious. But Takki didn’t.
Embolden, Tsubasa grasped Takki’s hand.
It was a move very uncharacteristic of Tsubasa. Perhaps it was out of fear that he would never again be in such close proximity to Takki. It was reckless and stupid, since the man had only recently rejected him flatly. But Tsubasa would much rather regret doing it than never knowing how it felt like to hold Takki’s hand.
Once again, Takki didn’t push his hand away, only lowering his head.
The next day, the Takizawa family was up early preparing to leave for their hometown. Takki too was leaving, now that his aunt was well enough to run her own ryokan again. There were emotional goodbyes all round, except for Kame and Pi who had made a pact to meet again the next weekend when Pi officially move to Tokyo to work for Kamenashi Hotels as Kame’s full-time PA and part-time boyfriend.
Missing out on all the action was Tsubasa who had excused himself to attend to pressing business concerns.
After feeling sure that all the commotion was over, Tsubasa laid himself to rest. Hugging the pillow that last cradled Takki’s head, Tsubasa closed his eyes to envision what Takki would look like lying on that same bed only a couple of hours ago. Breathing deeply, Tsubasa tried to salvage any scent of Takki that was still left on the pillow. Lying on the bed that still held a little of Takki’s warmth, Tsubasa pondered if it was a mistake not to have sent Takki off.
While Tsubasa had done his utmost best to be cordial to Takki’s family, he was unsure whether that was enough to change the latter’s mind about him. And with Takki’s resounding refusal still ringing in his ears, Tsubasa cowardly backed down and surrendered. He was, after all, still a very proud man. Another refusal might just mortally wound him beyond remedy.
As a naked Takki stood looking down at a pillow-buried Tsubasa, he realized that Tsubasa was man of many surprises.
‘What are you doing here?’ Tsubasa asked alarmed.
‘This is my room,’ Takki replied with fake nonchalance, as he tried to inconspicuously move the towel that was a moment ago on his wet hair down south.
‘What are you doing here?’ He asked in return.
‘Well, technically, this is my room too,’ Tsubasa justified.
Looking out the window, Takki said, ‘My family’s left ahead of me. I’m just taking a shower before I meet up with some friends. Then leave Tokyo.’
Watching Takki’s back and silhouette against the light, Tsubasa felt a stab of pain to his heart.
Tsubasa indulged himself with another clasp of Takki’s hand, this time holding it with both hands.
‘My offer still stands. But one word from you and I’ll forever remain silent on this matter.’
‘No, unless your offer is for me to be your PA cum... boyfriend. I don’t think that I can bear to be so close to you and not have you. I… ‘
As Takki felt Tsubasa’s lips pressed firmly against his, he was glad that the latter had chosen instead to let his actions speak for themselves.
But as he felt the kiss become more needy, and Tsubasa’s hands roving up and down his back, and the towel around his waist falling to his ankles, Takki wasn’t so sure if that was such a good idea after all….
~ End ~ More at http://avery-averette.livejournal.com. Enjoy!