In the future, Akihito dumps Asami to travel the world. They start a conversation by email that makes them both think. Started as a sad drabble, after which I promised people a fun romance to get...
Kirishima glanced over, surprised, the light glinting on his glasses. "I haven't heard that ringtone for a while. Are you two talking again?"
"I'm sorry. I must have forgotten when I ever implied that my personal relationships were any of your business."
"Don't give me that crap. How long have we known each other? Yes, I serve you. But your well-being is important to the organization, and to me. And he directly affects your well-being. Are you back together with him?"
"We were never apart. He just hasn't realized that yet."
Kirishima snorted. "You never change, do you?"
Asami turned his head slightly. "On the contrary, my friend. I am scarcely recognizing myself these days."
Kirishima shot him a look of concern. "Is that good or bad?"
"It is good, I think, but I can't say for certain yet. I'm not even at the endgame. It is fast approaching, however."
"Hmm. Speaking as a friend, Asami-san, if you need anything, let me know."
Asami paused at the door to his office, his face inscrutable. He bowed slightly. "Thank you, Kirishima-san." And with that, he stepped into his office and closed the door, leaving his man in the hallway with his mouth hanging open.
He walked to his desk and sat, smirking the whole time. "Didn't expect /that/, did you? This could be fun."
His smile slipped a bit as he waited for his laptop, which was taking far too long to boot up.
What would be the results of Akihito's latest hiatus? What conclusions were that mind of his drawing?
His fingers tapped impatiently on the desk.
Akihito and his father were in Turkey now, in Istanbul. From the looks of it, they might be there for some time. They'd rented a house in one of the more bohemian districts for the next month.
Asami had kept track of them via credit cards, as usual. And Akihito knew it. Every so often he'd buy something guaranteed to raise Asami's eyebrows. And every so often one of the items would end up in Asami's mail at Sion. He glanced at the stuffed goat's head sitting prominently on display on one of his shelves. That one tended to strike fear into the hearts of those who saw it, so he kept it here. The others he just took home. Even if they were crappy gifts sent with a hint of malice, they were still gifts, and they always made him laugh.
His finger tapping was on the verge of drilling holes into his desktop.
Damn Windows. It takes forever to open. I need to get into that market and create an operating system that will work.
He finally got to his user window. Then, not even pausing to admire the Glock on his wallpaper as usual, opened his mail.
Did you ever really like me?
What the hell. That's all you have to show for your weeks away?
He clicked Reply.
Do you mean "like" or "like like"? I'll have someone pass you a note next class period.
The reply came back almost immediately.
You said you'd be honest. Answer the question.
>Do you mean "like" or "like like"? I'll have someone pass you a note next class period.
Please trim your emails. I can't stand that.
I said I'd be honest if you were. You show me you're being honest with yourself, and you can have all the answers you want. But it looks to me like you're just whining and blaming me for everything, same as usual.
I'll tell you what. We'll play a game. You seem to like them. I know I do. You may ask me any one question you like, and I will answer it completely openly, after you answer one such question of mine. We will continue, as long as we feel the other is being completely honest. Do you have the guts to play?
PS – No questions about my business via email. I don't want to put anything in writing. I'll be happy to answer any business-related questions that you have, but only in person. Though if you think we're going to discuss business when we finally see each other again, you're in for a surprise.
He paused, then erased that last line and sent it off.
Oh, like you're free of blame in this mess! It sounds to me like you need to practice some honesty too.
Fine. I'll play your game. I don't think you can do it. Though I don't see why you get to go first. But whatever. I'm not afraid of being honest. And I won't ask you about stuff that will get you thrown in jail, so you have no excuses.
So, what's your question? Bring it on.
My first question is a simple one, but its answer may not be easy. Are you gay?
It was several days before he received an answer.
You don't pull any punches, do you?
You knew how hard that would be for me to answer, didn't you?
And you've suspected that it's been a source of difficulty for me, haven't you?
And yet you demand that I answer this honestly, as your price.
You're a real bastard sometimes, for requiring so much of me. Then again, I think you're the only one who expects I can accomplish such things. Because you believe I can, I always try harder, and achieve things I might not have otherwise. So thank you.
Yes, I'm gay.
I can't believe I typed that. Staring at it in print makes it even more real. You were right, I'd never admitted that to myself, let alone anyone else. When I saw your question, I still didn't want to admit it. I ran, and I danced around the subject like you wouldn't believe.
I've avoided the issue from day one. In part you made it easy for me to do that. You used rape and drugs to train my responses , so for a long time I could never tell what was me, and what was forced upon me. Because of that, I pretended it was just you. That I would only respond that way to you, like one of Pavlov's dogs.
Then Feilong came along, and I responded the same way. You probably don't like hearing that, do you? But he turned me on. God, he was so sexy. If he hadn't been such a bastard I would have dived in and enjoyed every minute. Though I probably would have rationalized it away, perhaps as a way of gaining his good will so I could make an escape attempt. But that was my first clue that it wasn't you, it was me, and it made me uncomfortable. I was happy to get back to you, partly because I could pretend to understand why I acted as I did.
And when we got together, when I fell in love with you, I rationalized all that too. In my mind, the love didn't have anything to do with being gay - I just loved Asami, not men. The sex, it was the same way. I loved Asami so I wanted sex with him. It had nothing to do with you being a man, or so I told myself. But underneath, it was making me uneasy.
At the same time, other things were adding to it. Kou, Takato, others of my friends, they were pushing women on me, asking why I didn't date, wondering who this Asami was and what he was to me. I never had the courage to be honest with them, because most of them were openly homophobic. In the face of that, I didn't have the courage to be honest with myself either. I'm sorry. It caused problems, I know it did.
The sad thing is, I think now most of my friends would have accepted it. If they were my friends, they should have. I know two of them would. I'm supposed to meet Kou and Takato online tonight. I plan to tell them. I hope they understand. I think they will. But I wouldn't mind if you wished me luck.
I've not told Dad yet either. I have no idea how he'll respond. He's pretty laid back though, kind of a hippie about some things, so I don't think he'll care. I mean, he seems amused that guys keep coming on to me.
They have been too, this whole time I've been away, and even before. It made me angry, to be honest. I felt like there was a sign I didn't want hanging over my head, saying "Gay man for the taking!", when of course I wasn't gay at all (that's sarcasm). It made me mad at you, because I felt like you were the one who painted the sign and hung it there, when really, you were just the first person to notice it. I'm sorry for that too, for blaming you when you were blameless for once.
Then you come along and have to bluntly ask such a thing. Because you wanted me to face it. I don't think I would have ever admitted it if you hadn't been sitting at the other end of this connection, challenging me to me honest with myself. So I sat in my tent last night with some beers and faced it. I took it all apart and looked at it, honestly for the first time, and when I put it all back together, I knew.
I'm gay. I always have been. In a way, it's a great relief to say it. I wish I would have understood that sooner.
I'm wondering how many of our problems stemmed from that. And because you asked that question, I'm thinking that you believe at least some of them did. You're probably right. I was never quite comfortable with myself the whole time we were together. It often got expressed in a stubbornness and anger that you didn't deserve. I'm sorry. Just add it to the growing list of things I'm sorry about.
I don’t have a question for you right now. I'm still getting used to seeing myself this way. It's a little like feeling reborn. I'll write later in the week when things have settled down a bit. Once I've had a chance to rethink all I've been rethinking, in this new light.
Thank you, Ryuichi, for giving me the courage to be honest with myself.
At his desk in his office in Tokyo, a man rested his head on his hands, unused to the flood of emotion rushing through him. Finally. Finally, they could move forward.
He'd counted on Akihito being strong enough to handle it. Akihito hadn't let him down. He was quality. He always had been.
Now it was his turn to do the same. He knew what Akihito would ask.
Most men flinch from the truth, and are never willing to face it. I am proud of you beyond words that you rose above all of them. Honesty demands honesty in return. Ask what you will.