(Title – 背信 – Haishin – Betrayal)
It was another bright, summer day. The university was bustling with groups of students, in a hurry to go to their classes. Some were even lazily walking, probably because it was the first day of the week. Although everyone in the group had a short, but refreshing break by the sea, Kichirō still could not help but feel a chill run up to his spine when he took his first step inside the campus. The thought of being in the same place, at the same time with Miyuki made him feel like he was about to die. In his mind, he was thinking about digging a deep hole, to crawl in it, and then just die. While he had these thoughts running in his mind, something popped up in his mind. He could not deny the fact that he was somehow relieved knowing that he had Ryū and others by his side.
Kichirō looked earnestly at the visage of the handsome boy beside him. They were on their way to building.
“What?” Ryū indifferently asked.
“Nothing,” Kichirō gently replied.
Ryū frowned, but then asked: “Worried about something?”
Kichirō heaved a deep sigh and continued walking. “Well… I was thinking…” he was hesitant to speak.
Ryū stopped walking. He grabbed Kichirō’s shoulder, causing the other boy to stop walking, too. He then said: “If you’re worried about me getting snatched by others, don’t worry, this handsome man is only for you.”
The other boy’s eyes opened wide after hearing this. “You’re so full of yourself!!” Kichirō gave out a “hmpf” sound afterwards.
Ryū chuckled because of the other’s actions. “As the day goes by, you’re starting to become like Naoki.”
“Am I? ha ha. I guess that’s why we’re best friends. Maybe we really have the same personality.”
“No. Naoki is more refined, while you… You’re…” Ryū touched his chin, as if he was thinking about what to say next.
“Nothing,” Ryū grinned.
“Yeah? Well you’re becoming like Ken,” Kichirō sulked.
“So, you’re addressing each other on first name basis now?”
“Well, he asked me to,” Kichirō rebutted.
The two continued bickering along the way so that people started looking at them. They were like cats and dogs chasing after one another in a fierce fight.
“Aniki!” A voice suddenly came over.
Kichirō stopped walking then looked back, only to see a charming, smiling face — It was Naoki.
“Ki-kun, ohayō!” Kichirō, who initially had a frowning face, relaxed his face, flashed a smiling expression, then greeted Naoki.
“Ohayō, Aniki. Ohayō, Senpai,” Naoki greeted them.
Ryū gave him a nod and continued walking a step ahead while Kichirō went on talking. It appeared that Ryū became more relaxed when Kichirō was with Naoki since they started officially dating. Kichirō casually chattered: “I’ve gotten sunburn because of our trip. It’s itchy in a way.”
“Did you use sunscreen last time?” Naoki asked.
“Yeah, I’ve use loads of it.”
“Hmm, just go to the clinic to see what other options they have.”
“Okay… Ooh~ I heard something from Ken, is that true? You don’t even tell me what’s going on in your life anymore,” Kichirō squinted his eyes as he looked at him.
Naoki stumped when he heard this from the other boy. He frowned then asked: “What did he tell you?”
“Ano~ he told me that you will visit his family during the summer vacation, is that right?” Kichirō curiously asked.
Naoki did not respond. He was speechless. After a few seconds, there was an obvious blush on his face. “Eto~ un [yes].”
“Ooh~ looks like you’re getting closer. So, what’s your status now? Are you officially dating?” Kichiro did a sidelong glance.
“Well, you see…” Naoki was deeply-rooted from where he was standing.
Suddenly, someone popped up behind them. ” Hey guys, ohayō!”
From being deeply-rooted, Naoki froze just like an age-old glacier. Ken suddenly locked his arm around Naoki’s shoulders, then smugly said: “Aren’t we a perfect combination? He he.”
Naoki’s blush intensified, so that his face was red all over, just like a bashful young woman. The once, everlasting glacier melted into a puddle of water, waiting for Ken to splash into it. He instantly kicked Ken’s knee: “Why are you saying shameless things this early in the morning?!?” he yelled.
Ken held on to his knees then yelped: “Ouch~! Why’d you do that for?!?”
After saying this, Naoki did not respond. He covered his face then ran away, just like what he always does. Ryū, who was walking almost a meter ahead of them, chuckled. Kichirō also laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Ken huffed.
“I’m sorry, Ken. I pity you but I just can’t help laughing. You always act like a perverted old man, you see, that’s why Ki-kun’s always running away from you,” Kichirō explained as he laughed.
Ken squatted along the sidewalk, then dispiritedly said: “Well, he said he likes me the way I am. I’m confused.”
“Chase after your wife,” Ryū indifferently ordered.
As soon as Ken was about to run after Naoki, somebody suddenly showed up again. This time, it was Aiko.
“Guys~ have you seen this?!?” Aiko was panicking. She looked distressed as she was breathing hard. She handed over a photo which had familiar faces on it to Kichirō.
Kichirō received the photo from her then took a glance at it. “Oh, it’s Miyuki.” It took some time before the image was processed in his mind. “What’s this?” He frowned as he showed the photo to Ryū.
Ryū just casually shrugged. “It’s a photo.”
I know it’s a photo, but do you see what’s in the picture?” Kichiro looked disappointed so that he even almost crumpled the photo in his hand.
“I’m sorry,” Ryū said with a low voice. He attempted to hug Kichirō but the other boy blocked his attempt.
“You’re sorry? How come you never told me about this? Why were you with this woman? Since when have you been deceiving me?” Suddenly, two strings of glistening tears ran down Kichirō’s rosy cheeks.
Ryū was not able to respond. He did not know how to explain this. He knew well that reasoning with Kichirō right now was futile. He just chose to be taciturn and let the other boy vent out.
“You can’t explain, right? That’s it. I’m out of here,” Kichirō walked away, leaving behind the others.
“Wait, Kichiro-chan! Wait for me!” Aiko was about to follow him but Ken grabbed her by her collar. Ken pulled her up and it looked as if she was running on air. “Let me go, Senpai!” she cried.
“Chotto matte, didn’t you see that he’s already crying? Give him some space. I know what happened here,” Ken said. He then looked at Ryū: “Oi, Dude, you need to fix this. Why didn’t you tell him about what happened? I thought you did,” he scolded.
Ryū just heaved a deep sigh. “Too lazy.” The truth was, he was afraid about how Kichirō would react. He originally wanted to take care of matter without letting Kichirō know a single thing about it. He knew very well how Kichirō was gravely hurt by Miyuki in the past. He preferred to act on his own, rather than getting him involved in this war that he sparked himself.
“Too lazy? Man, if I was Kichi’s man, I would have told him about what happened.”
“Are you planning on stealing my wife?”
“No, that’s not what I meant and that’s not the point. Do something.”
Aiko looked from left to right as the two threw words at each other. She was obviously clueless about what they were talking about. “Wait, what happened? And Senpai, put me down!” She cried.
The two boys narrowed their eyes as they looked at her. They said in unison: “That bitch happened.”
Aiko got an inkling of what they were saying. She let out an “oh” sound after, then said: “Please tell me what happened.”
Ken explained the situation. He told a story of what happened before they went to the beach. After getting a clear view of what happened, Aiko decidedly said: “It’s time for the Army of Love to take action. Commander, what’s the plan?” She saluted at Ryū. Ryū did not respond so Aiko suggested: “Hmm, based on my fujoshi and otaku intuition, it’s estimated that she’ll post this on the uni website. She acts like one of those classic villains in the TV dramas. I’ll contact my friends in admin to ask them to block any attempts to post images like this. Ken-senpai,” she called out for Ken.
“Huh?” Ken looked at her.
“You’re officially a private of the Army of Love. Call for the basketball team and get Private Naoki back here this instant. We have a drama to orchestrate, he he,” Aiko had a menacing grin on her face.
Kichirō felt like his world was about to end. Ever since Ryū came before him, the shattered pieces of his broken heart slowly mended. Yet, as soon as his heart completely healed, it was trampled on again, just like that. His newfound moon, Ryū, was abruptly taken away from him. He listlessly walked to the bus stop. He could not go back to his dormitory. He could not bear to face the one who lives across from his own room.
As he stood by the bus stop, his phone suddenly vibrated. He immediately knew who it was — it was Ryū. At first, he wanted to drop the call but he hesitated, then decided to answer it: “Hm?” Ryū did not answer immediately, so Kichirō asked: “Hello?”
“Hm,” Ryū hummed.
“Why are you calling me?” Kichirō gloomily asked.
“Let me explain,” Ryū said with a hoarse voice.
“I don’t want to hear your excuses. Leave me alone for now. Don’t call me,” Kichirō immediately hung up the call then put his phone in his pocket. He wanted to be firm about being cold to Ryū but when he heard Ryū voice that sounded like he just cried, his heart could not take it. After a few minutes, the bus finally arrived.
On the other side, Ryū just stood in the empty classroom, holding his phone against his ear, only hearing a busy tone.
The mottled shades of trees flitted on the bus window as Kichirō leaned on it. His train of thought flitted from one memory to another. He pondered over a lot of things. Should I have waited for Shirō? Was I better off with Miyuki? Should I have been a more dutiful son to my mother? Should I have listened to what Ryū had to say? He was contemplating all along the trip, so that he did not realize that he already arrived in his hometown.
It was already midday, and the sun soared high up in the cloudy sky. The smell of the country breeze lingered in his nose. He walked along the empty streets toward his house, passing by numerous trees. After a few minutes of walking, he finally reached his destination. When he knocked on the door, a middle-aged man opened the door — It was Akihiko, his father. He had a pleasantly surprised look on his face when he saw his son.
“Otōsan, tadaima,” Kichirō listlessly said.
“Okaeri~ What brought you here? No class today?” Akihiko curiously asked with a smile plastered on his face.
Kichirō fidgeted and hesitated for a moment before he decided to answer him: “I asked for a leave of absence.”
Akihiko knitted his brows then further inquired: “Why? Are you not feeling well?” He felt Kichirō’s forehead to check on his temperature, but frowned afterwards. “You seem okay to me.”
“Eto~ I’m just mentally drained, Otōsan,” Kichiro explained.
Akihiko patted his head: “Want me to accompany you for a while?”
“I’m fine, Otōsan. I’ll just be in my room. Is Okāsan around?”
“She’s at work.”
The sun was about to set and Kichirō’s mother has not yet arrived. Shūichirō loudly knocked on his big brother’s door with the purpose of bugging him: “Oni~sama! Come play with me!”
Kichirō jerked when he heard this sudden loud knock. He yelled: “Go away, I’m sleeping!”
“If you’re sleeping, how come you can respond to me?”
In the end, he opened the door. Shūichirō immediately came into his room and pulled his brother out. “Come on, let’s play outside. I want to play, ne.”
Kichirō sighed and rolled his eyes. In the end, he was forced to come out and play with his brother.
Kichirō threw the ball to his younger brother while the other happily caught it. Shūichirō was obviously very happy to see his brother around. They had been together since they were little. When he was about to throw the ball back to his brother, two men wearing black clothing with their faces covered suddenly came into the picture. The other man forcefully carried Shūichirō: “Onīsan! Help me!” He yelled. He could not yell any further because the man covered his mouth.
Kichirō did not know what to do. What was this? What was going on? When he was about to run after the man who was carrying his brother, someone suddenly pulled him from behind, covered his mouth with a cloth, and everything became dark.