Takki finally finds love knocking on his door, but what if the person at the door is not the one whose love letters he fell for? Warning: boys' love.
It was a balmy Saturday afternoon. The sun was out but the clouds kept it cool, and a light breeze wafted away. It was a perfect day for so many things, especially for a date. Takki, sitting on a bench under a tree, thought so. Many a times he passed by this park and saw lovers waiting for each other. Today, he was waiting for someone too. Although he wasn't certain if the person would turn up, it wasn't a blind date. Because he was almost sure that this person liked him. She had told him in so many words over many letters.
Your brightness and warmth live in my heart,
They’ve become my life’s nourishment.
You've opened the door to my heart,
And I pray that you would make the journey in.
Even though we are apart,
I never forget this feeling of love.
I want to say thank you in front of you,
I want to convey my love directly to you.
Nevertheless, there was still that chance of it being a cruel prank by one of his coworkers. Fortunately, the chances were slim because though not a popular coworker and quite unremarkable, he was certain he had not offended any senpais as yet. Besides he had done everything right. To humour them, he socialised with them after work, and was always at hand to fill any empty glasses, even his kouhais’. Sometimes they would drink or sing so late that he missed the last train home and had to spend it in one of the manga shops in town. There he would catch up on his mangas in his tiny little cubicle till he struggled to stay awake. Then he would lay his head on the table and sleep a little. The next morning, he would wake up, wash up and head off to work again. And this run-of-the-mill routine was his so called life.
Irregardless of whether the author of the letters turned up, Takki was determined to enjoy this day. He had been with himself for so long, it didn't really matter. Besides, he was not the lonely sort, or maybe he was just so used to being alone that he was immune to it. Although 27 years of age, he had never been in love and was beginning to believe that he never would.
'Love loves not me,' he would joke.
It seemed like maybe he was right after all. Maybe even after finally having found that someone who made his heart race, love was still out of reach. Just as he was about to leave after waiting for over an hour, someone appeared from behind a nearby tree.
'I’m sorry to have kept you waiting, Takizawa-san. Gomen nasai.'
'I'll take this one,' Takki said, after carefully selecting a very pretty necklace. It wasn't expensive but it should do nicely for their 100th day anniversary. To celebrate this special occasion, Kimiko had invited him over to her place for dinner and was introducing her brother to him.
Although it would be his first time meeting Tomohisa-kun, he felt he had already known him. Kimiko often talked about him during their dates. In fact, it was her dominant conversation topic. Expecting their dates to be the meeting of like minds and poetic souls, Takki was somewhat disappointed. Kimiko was caring and considerate but hardly romantic. Probably because she had to look after her younger brother; after their father abandoned them for another woman and their mother in retaliation killed herself; she didn't have the luxury of time to dwell beyond the bare necessities of life. Having to work, study, provide for and care of a younger sibling, it would understandably drain the energy out of anyone.
When his colleagues learnt of him going out with the receptionist cum office belle, some congratulated him at having caught such a fine catch, others silently cursed and swore.
'Since everyone said so, then it must be so,' Takki reasoned, trying to convince himself that he was indeed very lucky and should be very much in love.
Kimiko was certainly very pretty and sweet and he couldn't have asked for more or better; even when he wondered at the back of his mind whether she was really the one who wrote those letters.
In order to finally to put an end to his doubting, Takki advised himself, 'Never give up a certainty for an uncertainty.'
With that, he contentedly pressed the door bell.
It was answered by a likewise very attractive person. For a moment, Takki thought it was a girl. With a head of chestnut curls adorning an angelic doll face, Kimiko's brother could easily fool anyone, if not for his well-toned physique.
For a moment, Takki felt his breath stop. But he recovered quickly to introduce himself.
Tomohisa-kun, on the other hand, handled himself very well, maybe a little too well. He had a smile so welcoming that Takki half suspected that he knew him too. It was a smile one would wear when welcoming a dear old friend who had returned after a long absence. There was a comforting sense of familiarity about it. But Takki figured, of course Tomohisa-kun would know him. Kimiko would probably have mentioned him very often too.
'Please call me Pi. I feel that we’re old friends already.'
'Hai... Pi. Just call me Takki too. Yoroshiku.’
Kimiko was overjoyed that their meeting was so cordial. Both of them were after all the two most important persons in her life.
Since their parents left, Kimiko took up the forsaken role of being both parents to Pi. Although some of her friends had advised her to leave Pi with a relative, she didn't see him as a burden, but as the only immediate family she had left. Without him, she would be all alone in this world. She treasured him and took care of him the best way she knew how. Pi, likewise, cherished his sister because they only had each other.
Feeling guilty that his sister had to forgo her happiness to take care of him, he decided that enough was enough. Since he was almost graduating high school, it was time he set her free. He knew it would be difficult, more so for her than for him. He had assumed correctly that she still saw him as a kid. It was like how some parents still treated their grown children as precious babies. Pi had to admit that sometimes he too encouraged it, by sulking, pouting and nudging when he didn't get his ways. But all these were about to change. His sister's happiness would now come first, and deservingly so.
'Who's he?' Pi asked when he saw Takki's picture in his sister's cellphone.
'Nobody in particular, just a colleague,’ Kimiko lied, despite her reddening cheeks.
'Really? Then I'll just delete it. It's blurry any-'
'No! Never mind!' Kimiko cried out.
Then with lightning speed, she rescued her phone from those pesky hands.
'Just go after him. Then you can get a decent picture, maybe even one with you in it. Won't that be grand?'
'Like I have the time for that,' she scoffed.
That was her typical answer to many things, especially things she was afraid of. It was obvious she yearned for love because Pi had more than once seen her kiss Takki’s picture secretly. But she was actually afraid of it. Already 25, she had no real experience of love or even went on any serious date. It was true earlier that her hands were tied, but now it only seemed like an excuse to play it safe.
But safe was not how Pi operated and he was determined to play cupid and revolutionize her love life.
After learning what little he could from his sister, Pi started stalking Takki. He worked out his schedule and would follow him as often as he could for as long as he could.
When he consolidated his findings, Pi was unimpressed. Takki appeared to be a regular boring salaryman. But thankfully on weekends, he appeared to have a semblance of life. He enjoyed long walks and quiet time alone. Sometimes he would read a little in some quaint cafe, visit art galleries or the museum, or go to the theatre. All those pursuits were understandably soothing and Pi enjoyed them too. But one thing he couldn't understand was Takki’s passion for pro-wrestling.
Armed with the intelligence he had gathered, Pi started to write letters, love letters to him. Takki seemed to be the romantic sort and would likely appreciate a good prose and verse. Although Pi didn’t trust love, for his sister he would pretend to.
Having heard his father coldly say to his mother, ‘I don’t love you anymore.’ It completely crushed any romantic notion Pi had for love. He couldn’t understand. How was it possible to stop loving anything? How could love die? How did love die? If love was so fragile, dispensable and replaceable, then he didn’t want it or need it.
Nonetheless, Pi sent out nine love letters to Takki. From the reaction he observed, Takki was very fond of those letters. More than once Pi saw Takki take those letters out to read as he waited for the train home. No matter how late or cold, they always made Takki smile. And that made Pi smile.
Even when all I touch is your shadow,
I feel it dearly.
The more I love, the more I lose myself in a labyrinth of love.
I want to be your one and only.
Always I’ll be here, I’ll be here.
I want to gaze into your eyes intently forever,
Embrace you tightly, till it hurts.
I want to feel you and you only.
Times of happiness, as well as times of sorrow,
I want to pass those times together.
You’ve taught me the meaning of life,
’I was born to love you.’
For some reason, I can’t put my mundane thoughts into words.
I really believe the two of us can be one.
We’ll live in the present, not in a dream.
Always I’ll be here, I’ll be here,
Protecting you with my heart,
Until the path is open, until that day,
I can cry out ‘I love you.’
And for the tenth letter, he said ‘she’ would hand it to him personally in a park on a Saturday afternoon.
Handing over the promised letter to his sister, he urged her to go. Recalling a line from his letter, ‘We’ll live in the present, not in a dream.’ Pi egged his sister on.
‘Don’t dream it. Own it! Own him! Hold him, kiss him, say you love him.'
'You can do it!’
The prep talk and the letter, they worked like magic.
‘Will you watch over him for me while I’m away? Ever since we started dating, I noticed a few girls checking him out.’
‘Are you paranoid? Besides you’ll only be gone for a week.’
‘Just do it for me, ne? My precious,’ Kimiko sweet-talked in her most saccharine voice.
‘Okay, okay, just stop using that tone on me. Kills me every time.’
‘I know, I learnt it from you,’ Kimiko winked.
Actually, Pi didn’t mind watching Takki. After all, he was used to it.
On the pretense of having him help her watch over her brother, Kimiko too requested that Takki spend more time with Pi.
In order to impress his prospective brother-in-law, Takki spared no expense at ‘wooing’ Pi. For the first few nights, he took him to the movies, karaoke, and they even went shopping together. Having finally laid his hands on that designer bag he had been eyeing on, Pi decided to go easy on Takki, or at least his wallet.
‘Let’s eat here for lunch,’ Pi suggested, pointing to Takki’s favourite ramen shop.
Takki was surprised that Pi had coincidentally chosen his favourite shop. Maybe aside from their outward differences: the coiffed fashionista and the dowdy salaryman, they might actually share similar interests.
‘Are you sure? It looks like a rather simple setup,’ Takki said, pretending it was his first time there.
Pi answered by dragging him in.
‘Ah, Takki, my favourite customer!’ The chef greeted from across the room.
‘So… you dine here often?’ Pi teased.
Takki only ruffled his hair and grinned sheepishly.
Since it was the weekend, they took their time. Talking about everything from the weather to Wordsworth, it seemed they had no lack of topics. And even if when Takki was talking about something ordinary, sharing it with Pi made it seemed so much more interesting. And the younger man also laughed freely at his lame jokes. More amazingly, Takki was equally comfortable being silent around Pi. He didn’t feel the need to fill every silence with mindless chatter, which was rare. Increasingly, Pi’s company was becoming the highlight of his week.
In order to ensure that his growing friend got all the nourishment he needed, Takki insisted that they had some dessert too.
In a cake shop crowded with teenage lovers, Takki and Pi stuck out like a sore thumb.
‘Hey, that’s mine!’ Takki protested after Pi snatched his strawberry and starting eating it.
‘Thought you weren’t eating it,’ Pi explained, returning the half eaten fruit onto Takki’s plate.
‘I always save it for later.’
‘I always have mine first.’
Takki realized that they can be very different but he was happy they still clicked. Eating the half eaten strawberry, he giggled.
‘What’s so funny?’
‘It’s like we kissed.’
Pi almost rolled his eyes in disbelief, this grown man had the maturity of a five year old.
But Pi tolerated Takki's silliness, maybe even encouraged it. On their way home, they even took photos together, in one of those photo booths very popular with teenagers. Takki shared that when he was growing up, he had always wanted one of those pink glittery stickers on his phone but had no sweetheart to take them with. Deciding to fulfill Takki’s adolescent dream, Pi got them a matching set of high school uniforms. Since it was Takki’s dream, Pi good-naturedly played the girl and wore the skirt. Awkward role playing ensued, as they playfully posed away.
The photos turned out better than expected, with smiley faces all round. After struggling to choose the best from a bunch of picture perfect shots, Takki chose a slightly out-of-focused one. Because they were laughing at each other instead of posing for the camera, it was his favourite. Sticking it on the back of his phone, Takki felt ten years younger, like a teenager. Free, alive and maybe a little bit in love too.
On the night before Kimiko was to return, Pi invited Takki over for dinner. That night, he cooked for him; and after dinner, he taught him how to play computer games.
‘How could you not know how to play computer games?!’ Pi exclaimed.
‘Hey, don’t stupid me!’
‘Baka!’ Pi laughingly insisted.
Forgetting the time in their games, Pi realised that Takki had missed his last train and insisted he stay over.
Dutifully laying out the futon for his esteemed guest, Pi informed in his stiffest, stuffiest voice, ‘Welcome to Pi Inn, where your comfort and pleasure is all that we desire.’ Then folding his eyes into arches, he sweetly smiled and said, ‘Oyasumi!’
‘Oyasumi,’ Takki returned.
Lying in his futon, Takki couldn’t tell why he was feeling all warm and fuzzy. Sure the futon was snug, but maybe there was something else. Pi’s ‘goodnight’ was so sweet it induced a minor heart attack. For a moment, he thought, ‘If I married Kimiko and lived with Pi, then maybe I would get to hear it every night.’
‘Not here, Pi will see,’ Takki said as he shielded his face from Kimiko’s affection.
After Kimiko returned from visiting her grandparents, Takki had been stopping by her place like it was his second home. And whenever she was in her home territory, Kimiko was more daring in her advances towards Takki.
‘He’s a big boy. He can handle it,’ Kimiko assured as she French-kissed him in plain view.
Like she said, Pi was handling it, only not too well. He didn’t like Kimiko kissing Takki. More accurately, he didn’t like Takki being kissed. He didn’t know why at first. And after he had an inkling of why, he went into denial and self-loathing. But that night, it hit him, hit him hard. There was no escape and no denying. He had fallen for his sister’s boyfriend. And no matter how many times he scrutinized and analyzed their time together, he couldn’t tell when, where, why, what or how. It just happened.
Perhaps more than the pain of his unspoken feelings, was the guilt of betraying his sister, a sister who had over the years sacrificed her happiness for him. Although Pi was determined not to breathe a word of his love, he still felt burdened by them. Just thinking of Takki made him feel he had gravely wronged his sister. But he couldn’t help but think of him. He was his first and last sober thought of each day.
Just as Pi thought of him, Takki also thought of his girlfriend’s brother. When Pi was increasingly absent from home during his visits, he would get restless and ask Kimiko of his whereabouts and how he was doing.
Oblivious to the changes around her, Kimiko was just happy to finally get to do things couples do: holding hands, hugging, kissing and going on dates. When she saw other girls with bored boyfriends waiting for them to finish shopping, she too secretly hoped that Takki would do that for her. So when Takki suggested that they go shopping, she was over the moon.
Contrary to her fantasy, they patronised the men’s department. But Kimiko quickly comforted herself that it too would be very blissful to choose something together with Takki and see him wear it. Before she could lay her hands on anything, Takki was done. Like most men, shopping was over before it started.
‘For you,’ he said.
Although puzzled by what she could possibly need from the men’s department, she was momentarily happy.
‘Actually, it’s for Pi. Could you pass it to him? He likes this designer. I bought him a bag from this shop last season. And this one’s their hottest one this season. I hope he likes it.’
Kimiko was surprised. She didn’t know Pi was into bags, much less the designer he favoured.
Entering Pi room like she used to, before he had a porn collection to hide, she loitered around aimlessly. She sat on his chair, on his bed, and looked over his stuff. His things were less cartoony and cooler now.
Drawing open the drawer by his bed, she saw the pictures Takki and Pi took in their matching high school uniforms. And she guffawed. Remembering how Pi once came home crying from grade school because his classmates had bullied him into wearing a girl’s uniform, she was amazed that it hadn’t left him with an emotional scar.
But the amusement lasted only until she saw the picture of Pi kissing Takki. Although it was only on the cheek, she was disturbed. Furthermore, the stickers had been laminated and against the light, she could clearly see the marks of repeated kisses on that same picture.
‘What happened between the two of them? Did Takki…? Did they…?’ These questioned burned in her mind.
When Pi came home that night, she wanted so badly to question him. But she was well aware that it was a can of worms she was opening and pulled herself back. She would get to the bottom of it more subtly.
‘Wow, sis is so lucky to have won this trip!’ Pi commented on their sudden vacation to Guam.
Unbeknownst to them, it was a lie. Since Pi had been so resolute in his efforts to avoid Takki, Kimiko had to entice him with an overseas vacation. Seeing that they had never gone on a family vacation before, she knew that Pi wouldn’t be able to resist.
‘Yeah, I’ve never won anything in a lucky draw before, Takki confessed.
‘I guess we’re the unlucky ones,’ Pi said a little sadly.
‘Cheer up. We’ll just make our own luck then,’ Takki encouraged.
‘But there’re some things no matter how hard you work for them, they’re just not meant to be,’ Pi sighed.
‘Like…. love?’ Pi eventually answered.
‘I’m surprised. I thought you didn’t believe in love?’
‘No, I believe in it. I just believe that it hurts. Ultimately, it will grow cold and leave you. But why is that we still crave for it, even when it hurts?’
‘My father deserted us for another so called love, then my mother killed herself. But my sister still wants to marry one day.’
‘I’ll take care of your sister and I’ll make her happy,’ Takki softly said, more out of compulsion than conviction. Because it was the right thing to say.
‘Do you love her?’ Pi asked, hesitantly.
‘I… of course I love her. Though she may seem like a different person. I mean from her love letters.’
‘I mean I love her but maybe I love her love letters more,’ Takki replied, throwing his head back in laughter at his ridiculous answer.
Pi only lowered his head and kicked at the dirt at his feet.
‘But I know that people don’t suddenly become perfect just because you’re in love with them. So I’m perfectly happy with the way things are,’ Takki quickly defended.
‘Are you really happy?’
‘… Yeah… I think now’s probably as good as it gets.’
Pi felt his nose sour and his eyes moist so he looked away not to be discovered.
‘Look, your nose’s turning Rudolf,’ Takki smilingly said as he removed his scarf and adjusted it around Pi’s neck.
With knotted brows, Takki busied himself with making his plain scarf look chic on Pi. And Pi could only break into a faint but warm smile.
Takki was right. Now, was indeed very nice. In fact, looking at Takki fussing over him, Pi thought he wouldn’t mind living in this moment forever.
Not too far away, witnessing their interaction, was a heartbroken Kimiko.
Although Kimiko had the nagging suspicion that Takki didn’t love her as much as she did him, she was fine with it. It was impossible for two persons to love each other equally. And besides, love shouldn’t be calculative. It should be given freely and unconditionally. So she'd always figured that she could just love enough for the both of them. And no matter what Takki felt for her, he had chosen her. He had chosen her and not Pi. Even if he did, she would never allow it. She could never allow it.
‘Ah…’ Takki shouted from a mountain top, hoping for an echo from the opposite peaks.
It was the last day of their vacation and he was taking them for a spin around the island in a four-wheel drive.
‘Do you know about the Greek myth of Echo?’ Pi asked walking to his side.
‘Yes. Because Echo had enraged Zeus’s, wife, Hera, she had her voice taken from her. And could only repeat what others said,’ Takki shared.
‘Even when she had fallen in love with Narcissus, she couldn’t tell him that she loved him,’ Pi added.
Seeing Pi all melancholic and vulnerable, Takki felt a pang of sadness.
Looking into the wide expanse, he shouted, ‘I love you!’
Taken aback, Pi asked, ‘What are you doing?’
‘Helping Echo, helping her tell Narcissus that she loves him.’
‘I love you!’ Takki continued, shouting at the top of his lungs into the bellowing wind.
Pi wanted to join in but there was a lump in his throat. Turning away to hide his watering eyes, he saw Kimiko by the car, face buried in her hands.
Anxiously, he rushed over to his weeping sister.
‘I’m sorry… I’m so sorry,’ Kimiko whimpered.
‘I love him… and I love you,’ she managed in between sobs.
‘But I can’t let go… I just can’t... I don’t know what’s right anymore… ‘
Though not fully understanding her , Pi couldn't bear to look into those teary eyes anymore. Because he suspected that she knew. Wrapping her into a tight embrace, he quietly hugged her as she cried. Did she really know of his feelings? How did she know? But even if she did, he would deny them, hide them and never admit to them. It was his sister's long-awaited happiness and no one, especially himself, was ever going take it away from her.
Takki looked on worriedly from afar. Seeing the siblings locked together, he didn’t know if he should intrude. If only schools taught useful things like how to react in situations like this. Should he rush over to comfort or pretend not to see? Should he ask her why she’d been so quiet lately or should he wait for her to tell? Should he say that he loved her though it wasn’t true but it’d make her happy? If only schools taught him useful things like these.
When Takki saw Pi start to cry too, he couldn’t help but to be drawn over. Cautiously, he placed his arms around the tear-stained siblings.
Feeling Takki's hand on his back, Pi suddenly wanted to run away, to run away before he lost control or lost his mind. Why did love have to hurt so bad?
Then finally, unable to restrain the suffocating pain of his feelings, Pi squeezed his sister even more tightly whilst holding onto Takki’s hand that was on Kimiko's back, and let out a soft, ‘I love you too.'
For a moment, Takki's heart skipped a beat and he thought, 'He loves me?' Then he quickly brushed it off. Pi must have meant it for his sister, for his sister dearest and not him.
'But what if... ? No, it can't be. But if... if only... ' he pondered.
~ End ~ More at http://avery-averette.livejournal.com. Enjoy!