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...
Well, I've started telling people about my gayness, and so far it looks like I was afraid for nothing.
I talked to Takato and Kou, like I said I was going to in my last email. Takato said he'd always figured that was the case, but he thought it was up to me to tell him so he never said anything. He also said he had yelled at a couple of our friends, telling them to cut the homophobic comments, so that now they think he's gay, heh. But he let them think what they wanted about him to protect me.
I have good friends I don't deserve sometimes.
Kou was, well, Kou. I won't even start telling you where that conversation went, but he ranges from being childlike to shockingly blunt within the same breath, so you can just imagine. But overall his reaction was like "Really? Huh. Have you tried that new flavor of chips?"
They both want to meet you, Takato because he's interested in the guy I went out with for so long, Kou because he wants a pass into Club Sion. Please don't encourage him. But I wanted to let you know they might come by the club sometime.
I told my father too. It went something like this:
We were sitting after dinner, having a drink or two (he holds liquor as well as I do), and I blurted out "Guess what Dad? I'm gay!"
He squints at me and says, "Is that supposed to be a surprise?"
I say, "Well, yeah, it kinda was for me, to finally admit it."
He takes a swig. "Huh. You always were a little slow on the uptake. Got a boyfriend?"
I say, "No, but I did before I came on this trip. I broke up with him." I showed him your picture. (Don't get a swelled head about me having one. I keep it around for target practice.)
He says, "You really are an idiot. He's hot enough that I'd turn gay for him. You think he'd be interested? I've got the same genes as you. Probably more experience in bed. Though not with guys. I don't think."
"You don't think??"
"Some nights are kind of fuzzy."
So my dad wants to go out with you too. At least when he's drunk. That's all I need. You for a stepfather. Or would you be my stepmom? (Dad wants to be seme.)
They're the only ones I've talked to so far, but it feels so good. I'd been hiding a big part of myself from people I cared about for so long, and now I can just be myself with them. It's amazing. I feel light from having the burden removed, like I'm floating a meter off the ground. I know I'll come down a bit when I hit the first negative reaction, but knowing there are people who support me, it won't be as scary.
Um, anyway, before our last set of emails, I took some time off from writing you. I did a lot of thinking, most of which is now useless, because I wasn't thinking straight. No pun intended. But I went back to thinking about the same stuff the last few days, trying to see it from a new point of view.
What I've been thinking about is you, and about us, and about what you've been writing.
You must think I am blind.
I wasn't completely blind. Just in denial. But once I stopped blaming you for what I am, and now that I'm more comfortable about it, I started seeing some things a little more clearly. Especially in the emails you've sent me.
You've changed. A lot.
You never used to talk to me about anything serious. Maybe because I would have been angry and disinterested since it would have put me closer to seeing the truth about myself. But maybe too because you didn't want to put that much of yourself out there.
You never used to be playful with me. Some of your emails have been downright funny. Maybe you didn't tease me before, because I couldn't take the jokes. Maybe too, you didn't tease me because that implied a certain intimacy you didn't want to admit to.
And while you were always honest with me, you were never open with me. I wasn't open out of fear. I'm assuming you were the same way. Or maybe you just didn't see the need. But it's obvious to me, in your push for this communication between us, that you see the need now.
Something has changed in you Ryuichi. Something I like very much. Something that gives me hope I wouldn't have even thought I wanted before this week. I hesitate to ask what it is, because I'm afraid that the answer might not be what I want to hear. But since you went out of your way to praise my courage (in your last email, which made me cry), I'll ask anyway.
Ryuichi, I come before you naked.
What happened to you after I left?
That's not exactly the question I expected. But it's close enough. That's one thing about you I'll always treasure, the fact that you surprise me. I hope this email does the same for you.
This is, I think, the hardest thing I've ever had to do, except perhaps for the initial self-discovery that led to this. But having challenged you to be completely honest with me and yourself, I can do no less now that it's my turn.
Your leaving devastated me.
I didn't admit it at first. My first reaction was to fall back on habit, to pretend you didn't matter. I tried to continue on with my life the way it had been before I met you. What a futile gesture that was. Not only didn't it work, but one morning when I was staring at myself in the mirror, putting on the usual suit and tie, I realized how very true your words had been. I'd turned into a caricature of myself. I was doing things by rote. All my gestures were those of an automaton, like clockwork.
The pain of that moment will never leave me, because in the space of a few heartbeats I realized I'd lost myself, and you. And I had no one to blame but myself.
You would have been shocked to see me the next few days. I canceled all of my appointments at work, leaving Kirishima in charge. Then I got very, very drunk. That's something I never do because I don't like to lose control, but I hurt, and I just wanted to erase the pain for a little while.
After my binge I woke up feeling terrible, as you can imagine, and I didn't remember anything past the first few drinks. I found that in my drunken haze I'd completely trashed my apartment. I'd thrown all my suits off the balcony, tossed all my safe and tasteful artwork into the trash, and destroyed my stylishly boring apartment. There was little left of anything.
You said you felt reborn, after admitting you were gay. I felt much the same way, standing amidst the ruins of my old life. Everything would have to be bought anew. I could move in any direction I liked. I felt freed of expectations, my own being the worst of them.
As I picked up all the debris, and yes, I could have had a cleaning service do it, but I was rather embarrassed. As I picked up, I came across that picture of the two of us. You remember it? It's the only one we had. The one someone took at Sion that night where we were in the booth, you leaning against me, my arm around your shoulder. You were laughing at something, I could never remember what. Do you remember that? I've wanted to know what made you laugh that night for a long time.
I stared at that picture, trying to understand the turmoil inside me. I ached with a need to see you. But not just to see you under any circumstances. I wanted to see you laughing, like that, because you were happy to be with me.
I sat a long time, trying to remember if you'd ever been happy for that reason. I couldn't think of a time when that had been true.
I knew I hadn't been the most considerate of companions, but when our relationship began playing through my head, I was... This is very hard for me to write. I was shamed. I had considered you to be my mate, but the wildest of beasts would have treated its mate far better than I treated you.
I sat, long into the night, seeing all I'd done wrong. All my missteps. I never talked to you. I never treated you tenderly. I never let you know that you were more than a bed warmer for me. I never cared about your needs, outside of the sexual ones. I never gave you the respect you deserved.
I never told you that I loved you.
And I do love you.
Though, to be fair, I didn't know I loved you until after you left. It's not something I had experience feeling. But when you can't breathe because someone isn't at your side, when you reach for his warmth at night, when your ears search for his laugh, when you think every brown head of hair might be his only to feel another pit open up underneath you when it's not true.... Well then, even someone like me understands that it must be love.
When dawn broke over me the next morning, because I was still sitting there with that picture, I had found the direction I wanted to move in. I wouldn't just start my life anew, I would get you back so that we could have another chance, one that I would make sure worked this time. I would do what I had to, to show you what you really meant to me.
I spent a lot of time those days analyzing our relationship. People tend to forget I'm a financial analyst, and a very good one. I think the gun distracts them. But I put all my skills to use figuring out just where the problems were. Many were as I listed above. But another kept intruding.
You were never comfortable with me, for reasons other than the way I treated you. I realized, eventually, that it centered around your sexuality. That was something, believe it or not, that caught me by surprise. You know I've never given a damn about what people thought about mine. I fucked whoever I wanted and the hell with them. For the record, a) that doesn't included animals or people who dress like them, and b) it does include both women and men. It's always been that way, so for me, my sexuality was never an issue. But I saw that for you, yours was a major one.
I found that very frustrating, because to me that fact that you are gay, or perhaps bi, was perfect. I wanted to make you see that. I knew I had to make you see that or we would never succeed.
So I came up with a plan. First, change the obvious things in my life. Then find a way to approach you in a way that your sexuality wasn't threatened. Then talk to you and let us get to know each other again, so that you might start to see that I'd made some changes. Next, try to get you to see yourself in a better light. Convince you to give love another shot, this time for real, with someone who loved you back. And then of course, seduce you and fuck you into the mattress.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Seriously Akihito, do you have any idea what it's been like going without sex for nine months? I hope you do, to be honest. And I hope we can break the fast together.
But this time... This time I want to try lovemaking. I want us to be intimate on all levels, not just the physical one. You have no idea how much I need to be joined to you that way. I need you to see me when we're together, and I need to hear you calling out my name, freely admitting you want me, all of me.
I'm jumping ahead of myself a little bit here though, aren't I?
Let me finish the story. You know most of the rest.
I started by making changes to myself. The external ones were easy, just a matter of buying new clothes and furnishings, getting a new apartment. The internal ones took some doing. To be honest, I'm still working on those. It's been very difficult to change my natural inclination, which is of course to be a very closed person. I intend to remain that way with almost everyone else I know, or I think I'd go insane. The organization doesn't need a leader who's in touch with his feelings. I must remain ruthless there, or I will become ineffective. But I swear to you Akihito, that with you, I will remain open and caring. Even if it kills me.
So how did I go about changing? I suppose you'll find this amusing, but I researched in books and I made lists. Problems, Solutions. They may need some tweaking in practice, but I think I have a good grasp on what needs to be done. I've been practicing on unsuspecting employees. Their shock has been amusing.
Anyway, to continue the story. I got your phone call from atop that tree in Tanzania one late night as I was returning home from work. As soon as you called, I saw the way open for us to communicate safely, so that you wouldn't run as long as I didn't push it. I apologize for bargaining with your life. You know I wouldn't have let you die. If you'd held out, I would have told you to use the damned flash. But I played it cool because you had to agree.
After that, I tried dropping hints to you. I wanted you to start thinking about our relationship. I wanted you to suspect something had changed. I wanted you to enjoy talking to me, and get to know me a bit more, even as I was getting to know you better. I think that worked. And I really enjoyed exchanging thoughts with you that way. Your comment early on, about me being happy... I wanted to tell you that I was happy every time I heard from you. But I didn't. I didn't think you would believe me.
I grew frustrated with our talks quickly though. You thought quite a bit, but you didn't seem to be thinking about what I wanted you to most. So after your last 'vacation' from me I was determined to force the issue, hoping that I was right about the steel in your spine.
I was right. You're all I ever expected, all I'll ever need. I've always prided myself in only wanting the best. I continue that tradition in my choice of lover.
The best thing you ever did for me, and for us, was to leave. We would never have been happy going through the motions as we were. You had the guts and foresight to see that and demand change. I wish it hadn't had to be so painful for either of us, but growth usually is.
And I believe that only leaves me with one thing to say, and I say it bowing deeply. Akihito, I'm sorry. I don't say it to try to ease old pains. That would be useless. But I say it so you know that I'm serious in my intentions toward you, and that I truly regret what went before.
So here we are, naked before one other. You're beautiful, Akihito, shining with the light of your spirit and heart, and I love you.
I know you might have trouble believing this is real, but you took a far greater chance on a far lesser me several years ago. I promise you, this time when you fall in love, I'll be at your side all the way down. Take my hand, Akihito. Let's step off the edge of the cliff together.
There's so much I want to say, and yet I think all I really need to say is this:
Istanbul is lovely this time of year.
PS – I've attached a photograph of the inside of the home where we are staying. As you can see, I decided to take for my rooms the former women's quarters. It's very private and spacious, since I am alone there, and as you may notice by my dress, or lack thereof, quite comfortably warm.
Asami laughed as he wiped his eyes, then pulled out his cell phone.
"Kirishima. Get me on the next flight to Istanbul."