(Title – 私のことを誤解しないでください。 – Watashi no koto wo gokai shinaide kudasai – Please Don’t Misunderstand Me)
“Who wouldn’t know you?” Yuichi sarcastically asked then rolled his eyes.
Kichirō was speechless. He did not understand what he did wrong to Shirō’s twin brother to get this kind of treatment. He unexpectedly hid behind Shirō and tugged on his clothes. Ryū frowned when he saw this and immediately pulled Kichirō by his wrist. It was painful for him to see that of all people, Kichirō would rely on this Shirō guy.
Ryū looked at Kichirō in the eyes then coldly said: “Stay beside me.”
Kichirō dodged Ryū’s eyes by bowing his head. Akihiko felt the awkward atmosphere, so he intentionally cleared his throat. “Morioka-kun, I’m sorry but it looks like we’re uninvited here. We will just go ahead and look for a nearby inn to stay in.”
Shirō looked at his younger brother and knitted his brows, then he hurriedly turned around to approach Akihiko. He bowed and tried his best to convince Kichirō’s father: “I’m sorry Ishikawa-san. Please excuse my younger brother’s attitude. He’s just like that but he’s a nice guy.” After saying that, he looked back at Yuichi and beckoned: “Come and apologize.”
Yuichi looked flustered. He frowned and sulked as he said: “Onī~chan! I don’t want to.” He humphed, turned around and dashed off toward his room.
There was an awkward silence right after Yuichi left. Shirō looked at the three and wryly smiled at them. “Please enjoy your stay in our home. Ueno-kun, please help me prepare for our dinner.”
The one being referred to by Shirō sneered and indifferently said: “You don’t have to tell me what to do. Where’s the kitchen?” He took off his shoes and went inside the house.
Hearing this, Kichirō had the urge to follow after him and scold Ryū for his rudeness. When he was about to take a step forward, his father grabbed him by his shoulder. “Son, just let him be for now. Try to put yourself in his shoes. Don’t you know how worried your boyfriend was when you went missing?”
These words made sense to Kichirō, so he heaved a sigh and just put a bright smile on his face. He turned around and optimistically said: “Okay, I understand, Otōsan. I’ll talk to him tonight and make sure to get everything settled tonight.”
Akihiko nodded at Kichirō with a satisfied look on his face. While he was facing his son, he patted Kichirō’s shoulder with his right hand: “That’s my boy.” He looked at Shirō and smiled at him. “What can we do to help you and Ryū-kun?”
Shirō raised his hands and chuckled. He looked really happy, the kind that Kichirō knew back then. “You can help by waiting for us in the living room. Ueno-kun and I can manage this. Besides, there’s two of us to prepare. It’s not like we’re preparing for a feast, he he.”
Akihiko tilted his head and laughingly said, “Ho ho, if you insist. I can’t wait to try other’s crafts. I must say that my wife’s cooking is the best, but I still want to taste other’s cooking.” Kichirō and Shirō also chuckled. After that, the three took their shoes off and immediately went inside.
The father and son stayed in the living room. Akihiko called Fumiko to inform her that they would not be able to make it for the night and that they were staying at an inn. He did not let his wife know that they were in Shirō’s place since he knew that Fumiko would not like this.
They watched TV while the other two were busy cooking in the kitchen. In a few minutes, Kichirō could smell the savory fragrance that emitted from the direction of the kitchen. He could not help but to sniff with his eyes closed. Akihiko, who was busy watching the news, noticed Kichirō’s stupidly cute actions and secretly smiled. “Son, why not go and take a look how the boys are doing?”
The one who was engrossed with sniffing the savory scent opened his eyes and looked at his father. “Are you sure that’s okay, Otōsan?”
Akihiko shrugged and said: “There’s nothing wrong with that. Now go. Your father will just be here watching the news.”
Kichirō grinned and gestured an okay with his hands by raising both of his thumbs. He stood up and flurried toward the kitchen.
In the kitchen…
While the two were busy cooking, Shirō could not help but feel awkward with the silence between them. Because of this, Shirō decided to start the conversation. “Eto~ Ueno-kun, how did you and Kichirō-kun meet?”
Ryū did not respond and just continued chopping the vegetables.
Shirō scratched his head and decided to continue with what he was doing. Still, he felt uneasy because all he could hear was the sound of chopping, clanking of silverware, and the sound of boiling water. Because of this, he tried to start a conversation again. “I met Kichirō-kun a few years ago. He was in senior high school while I was in college back then. We were best friends. Did he mention anything to you?”
The other boy heard everything that Shirō mentioned clearly but chose to ignore him and pretend that he was engrossed with preparing their meals. Shirō then realized that Ryū really did not want to talk with him so he decided to focus on what he was doing.
After some time, when they were about to finish cooking, Shirō’s hands were full. He needed to get a bowl for the oden . He looked back at Ryū and tried to ask help from him. “Ueno-kun—“
( A variety of Japanese hot pot. It has several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth. Karashi or Japanese mustard is often used as a condiment.)
Before he was even about to say what he wanted to say, Ryū interrupted him and shouted: “Do you think we’re that close, just because we’ve talked in the park earlier? Just because I’ve given you a chance to stay beside Kichirō, that doesn’t mean I’d talk to you so casually. Just focus on what you’re doing!”
What a timing it was! Just when Ryū was in the course of yelling at Shirō, the two did not know that Kichirō was, all along, standing by the kitchen’s entrance. Kichirō was shocked hearing his boyfriend being so hot-headed and unreasonable. “Ryū, that’s enough! Why do you have to act like this?”
Shirō was stupefied. He did not think that Ryū had a very unpredictable temper. He thought from earlier that he was they cold and aloof type, but he now found out that he was the hot-headed type, too. He was also shocked because Kichirō suddenly popped out of nowhere. Without hesitating, he did his best to explain: “I’m sorry. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t intend to chat with you, Ueno-kun. I was just going to ask for your help. Kichirō-kun, please don’t misunderstand him. It’s all my fault.” He wanted to take the blame, but this even made Ryū angrier.
“So, are you trying to act like the good guy now? You’re so pretentious!”
“Ryū, stop it. That’s enough!” Kichirō yelled.
Ryū was furious. Hearing what Kichirō said even made him more livid. His heart immediately sunk, as if it was being pulled down to the ground. With a hoarse voice, he said: “Kichirō, are you taking his side?”
Kichirō wanted to respond but he hesitated. Seeing this hesitation painted all over his face, Ryū was extremely aggrieved. He put down what he was doing and immediately left the kitchen. Kichirō and Shirō were left in there, speechless and looked as if they were petrified.
Ryū felt like he was really wronged and thought that his relationship with Kichirō was bound to end. How could he compare to Shirō? From how Kichirō talked about Shirō before, Ryū could tell that his boyfriend still had lingering feelings for him. Now that he showed up again, everything turned out to be in Shirō’s favor. He could not help but to tear up and want to scream. It was like the heavens were against his relationship with Kichirō. All he could think of was that Shirō was really destined to be with his beloved.
When he was dashing toward the main door located in the living room, Akihiko caught sight of him. He noticed that Ryū was crying. As soon as Ryū was about to open the door to leave, Akihiko hurriedly followed after him to stop Ryū: “Wait, what happened?”
Ryū was holding on to the door knob and did not face Akihiko. He did not want to let Akihiko see that he was crying. He silently cried. Akihiko noticed this and just chose to stay quiet. He consoled Ryū by patting his back. With a hoarse and low voice, Ryū finally decided to speak: “Otōsan, I feel like I’m a big hindrance to them…”
“What makes you say that?” Akihiko asked.
Ryū sniffed then responded: “Everything I do… I feel like… I feel like Kichirō thinks I’m the bad guy… That I’m the one acting like a brat. Is it wrong for me to be jealous? I’m just doing my best to keep my spot in his heart. I know I’m no match for Shirō but…”
Akihiko knitted his brows and looked really worried for Ryū. He pulled Ryū in front of him and let him lay his head on Akihiko’s shoulder. He continued to pat Ryū’s back. When Ryū sobered, Akihiko decided to continue talking: “Don’t you trust Kichirō?”
Ryū looked up and looked straight into Akihiko’s eyes. He sighed but still answered Akihiko’s question: “I trust your son. I just don’t trust myself. I don’t trust that Shirō guy. I feel helpless, Otōsan. What can I do?”
Akihiko patted Ryū’s head and gently said: “Trust in yourself. Remember, even though Kichirō made a vow with Shirō, he chose you in the end. I know for sure that you know how Kichirō struggled to look for Shirō. I was there back then… I know. Knowing that he chose you, I’m confident that you have something that made my son captivated. Always remember that. You have the upper hand.”
Ryū digested what Akihiko said and engraved this in his heart. He nodded and eventually calmed down.
“Okay, now be a good boy and just listen to me. Trust yourself. Trust Kichirō.”
That night, everything happened smoothly. Shirō and Kichirō thought that Ryū had left but were surprised to see that he did not. He looked even calmer as compared to how he was earlier. Still, Kichirō did not even bat an eye at him and continued to ignore Ryū. How would he be so calm after what just happened? He deserved an apology. Shirō deserved an apology.
Yuichi stayed in his room and did not go out no matter how much Shirō convinced him to eat with them. In the end, he was forced to leave his younger brother be. They ate their dinner in silence. They left some food for Yuichi just in case he stepped out of his room. After doing the dishes and washing up before going to bed, Shirō helped his guests prepare some futons for them. At first, Akihiko was supposed to stay in Shirō’s bed but to avoid any further problems from arising, Kichirō was asked by his father to stay in bed, while Akihiko positioned himself in between Shirō and Ryū. Around midnight, they switched the lights off and went to sleep.
The cold night passed by as the chilly winter breeze blew. Kichirō could not sleep. He was thinking about what happened earlier. How could he sort everything out? Would it have been better if he did not pull Shirō to leave earlier? He guessed that, that would have been the right choice — but it was already too late. Everything was messed up. He fucked up again, just like in the past. He tossed himself from left to right. He could not find the right position to get himself to sleep. In the end, he decided to leave the room to get some fresh air.
What Kichirō did not know was that Shirō was also awake, deep in his own thoughts. Shirō noticed that Kichirō left the room so he followed after him.
Kichirō stayed downstairs in the living room. His chest felt so heavy. He wanted to stay outside but it was too cold, so he just opened the window. When the wind blew in, he shuddered because of the cold breeze. He stood there silently, as he continued to ponder.
“What are you doing here this late at night?” A voice came over.
Kichirō looked back and saw it was Shirō. “Nothing. I just wanted to get some fresh air. I can’t sleep.”
Shirō responded with an ‘oh’ and sat on the sofa. “Is it okay if I’ll accompany you? I can’t sleep, too.”
“It’s fine. It’s your house.” Kichirō continued to look outside the window, then he suddenly realized that this was the perfect opportunity for him to put a proper closure on his and Shirō’s bitter past. He closed the window, walked over toward Shirō, and sat beside him. “Can we talk?”
“About what?” Shirō already had a bad feeling about what Kichirō was about to say. He shook his head to get this thought out of his mind. “Go ahead. I’ll listen to what you have to say.”
“You see—“ When Kichirō was about to start, he felt something came into his eye. He closed his eyes because of that. He started to rub the eye that was affected.
Shirō noticed this so he asked: “Do you want to cry because of me? Ha ha.”
“No. Don’t be silly, ha ha. Something came into my eye.”
“Oh. Let me see.” Shirō reached out for the affected eye. “Open your eye. I’ll blow it for you.”
In the room, Ryū woke up because he felt the urge to pee. He stood up and under the moon’s light, he noticed that two people were missing. Kichirō was not in his bed and Shirō was not in his futon, too. He then thought of something that made his chest tighten. He shook this thought off his head and did his best to remember what Kichirō’s father told him earlier.
He left the room to search for the two. He checked on the terrace and no one was there. He checked on the bathroom, the hallway and the other rooms but he could not find their shadows.
In the end, he went downstairs. As soon as he reached the bottom end of the stairs, he heard laughter coming from the living room. He made a bee-line toward that place and as soon as he reached the living room, he saw Shirō’s face was close to Kichirō’s. Are they kissing? In a split second, he dashed toward them and immediately punched Shirō in the face. Shirō fell to the ground. Kichirō was shocked and immediately helped Shirō up.
“How could you do this to me!!!” Ryū’s roared like thunder, full of grievances.
“We, we can explain, Ryū,” Kichirō stutteringly said.
To be continued…