(Title – 運命の赤い糸 – Unmei no Akai Ito – The Red String of Fate)
Life for me had been a roller coaster ride all these years. From the moment I met Miyuki until the time when I started dating Ryū — it was truthfully a rough ride — a journey that lead to nowhere that I had embarked on to find my true happiness. It may sound like I’m a bit of a selfish guy but, who doesn’t want to be happy in their life? I’d be a hypocrite to say that I don’t seek happiness.
This string tied around my little finger — what’s this? It’s just now that this has dawned on to me — why is it dark in here… this dark and empty void before me? Where am I? I can’t see the light? Ryū… I need you… please come and get me…
“Ki-tan?! Are you okay?” A familiar voice sounded.
Kichirō slowly opened his eyes and saw Ryū’s worried face. “I’m fine. I just had this really weird dream.”
“You were tossing around and sweating. Was it a bad dream?” Ryū got up from their bed then got a small towel for Kichirō. “Dry yourself up.”
I don’t know. I couldn’t remember much of it. I’m fine. Don’t worry.” Kichirō took the towel and patted himself dry.
“That’s good to know.” Ryū heaved a sigh of relief, then looked at the clock and saw it was almost five in the morning. “Well, it’s work for me again. Better get up and prepare. Have some more sleep, okay?”
“No, I’ll help you.” Kichirō smiled at Ryū then got out of bed, too. Since that day when he talked with his mother, he had not yet informed Ryū about what Fumiko told him. He was still hesitant because he did not know how to work this out.
He kept this all to himself, not even Naoki and the others knew about his mother’s decision.
“Okāsan, please. I don’t want to go to Osaka. Let me stay here. Onegaidakara… 
( I beg you.)
“My decision’s final. You can’t make me change my mind. Finish everything that you need to before you go. Make sure that you won’t disgrace our family any further. I’ve already had enough of this. All these years… I thought I could change you by keeping you here… but, but… why did you have to ruin my trust, yet again?!” Fumiko felt she was fooled all these years. She wanted to bellow at Kichirō but she did not have the energy to do so… not when she witnessed her son with that boy whom she even cared to take in as her own.
Akihiko, who was just passing by the front porch, overheard what his wife said. He could not help but to interrupt their conversation: “I don’t understand what’s going on here. Fumiko, please explain everything to me in detail,” he asked.
Fumiko looked at Akihiko and knitted her brows, then she said, “Why don’t you ask your son? Now, Kichirō, tell us what you did wrong.”
Kichirō looked away from his mother. He could not look at her in the eyes. He was in low spirits at the moment and felt helpless. But what did I do wrong? I don’t understand… “Okāsan, I don’t understand what you mean. Please tell it to my face. I can’t take it anymore,” he cried.
Fumiko huffed. “What do you mean you don’t know? Don’t tell me it was just a friendly kiss that you shared with Ryū-kun?” Fumiko continued to frown then looked at her husband: “Your son is at it again! This is already too much for me to bear.”
There was not even a hint of astonishment in Akihiko’s face. He heaved a sigh then responded, “Why don’t we just let this go? I thought you already accepted the fact that our son is gay when we went to look for Shirō-kun. Ryū-kun is a nice guy. I entrusted Kichirō with —“
“Chotto matte kudasai! Don’t tell me you knew it all along? All of you have been ganging up on me.” Fumiko cried.
Kichirō felt like he traveled back in time. Everything that was happening now was so much like that time years ago. He clenched his fist, then begged: “Okāsan, please. I love him. Let me stay with Ryū. I’m going to do everything you want me to do but not this one. I won’t leave here… I won’t leave Ryū!”
“It’s not for you to decide on this matter. It’s either you obey me, or I’ll make Ryū-kun leave!”
End of flashback.
“Ki-tan? Ki-tan?” Ryū asked.
“Eh?” Kichirō woke up from his daze.
“You’ve been spacing out. Is something bothering you? Your meal is getting cold.”
“Oh. Suman … I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” After weakly saying that, he picked up his chopsticks and continued to eat.
Ryū looked at him with doubt. With all these years that they had been together, he could clearly comprehend every expression that Kichirō revealed on his face, and this one right now clearly meant that he was bothered with something. “If you have a problem, you have me. You can always tell me everything. I’m here for you.” He reassured.
Kichirō forced a smile then said: “I’m fine.”
After eating, Kichirō walked with Ryū to the front porch. “You don’t have to do this every day.” Ryū smiled.
“I want to do this. Take care for now…” Kichirō smiled back.
“I’ll be home soon.”
As Ryū took his first step to the front yard, Kichirō suddenly tugged on his shirt. Ryū looked back and saw Kichirō’s face that looked like he was about to cry. “Idiot, don’t give me that look. It’s not like I’ll be gone for a long time.”
“It’s just… it’s just that I’ll miss you.” Kichirō held on to his tears.
“I’ll give you a call later.” After saying that, Ryū pecked Kichirō’s forehead as usual then turned to leave.
Kichirō’s heart skipped a bit. He ran after Ryū and stopped him, then he gave Ryū a warm kiss on his lips.
“Wow, that’s new.” Ryū teased. “I don’t get that every day, heh.”
Today was the fateful day. Fumiko had everything prepared. Not even Akihiko could stop his wife. To ensure that this was a success, Fumiko took a vacation leave and decided to stay with Kichirō in Osaka. She even made Akihiko and Shūichirō swear not to tell Ryū or anyone where they went and took Kichirō’s phone away from him.
After Kichirō bid Ryū goodbye for work, their family car dropped by to Ryū and Kichirō’s house. Akihiko got out of the car and helped Kichirō with his luggage.
“Get in the car. Let your father do it.” Fumiko ordered Kichirō.
“I don’t want to hear anymore nonsense from you. Just do as I say.”
Without responding, Kichirō helplessly got in to the car.
Akihiko looked at Fumiko with dismay, “Are you sure about this?”
“What do you mean am I sure? Of course, I am. Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“You know, you can’t stop two hearts from getting together. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
“I don’t believe in that. You’re supposed to be supporting me as your wife.” Fumiko harrumphed. “I only wanted my son to live a normal life.”
“Normal? Do you think this is normal? What’s wrong with being gay? Did he kill anyone? Did he steal from anyone? You have to wake up and accept the truth, Fumiko. We already had this kind of conversation years ago. Don’t make the same mistakes again.” Akihiko tried his best to make Fumiko reconsider her decision.
“I don’t want to talk about this rubbish anymore. Let’s go.”
When they reached the train station, Fumiko got in the train first. Kichirō looked at Akihiko. He did not even have to say it as it was written on his face that he was asking for help.
“Don’t worry. I know Ryū-kun will come and find you.” Akihiko then hugged Kichirō and bid him goodbye.
While on the train, Kichirō looked out of the window. The mottled shade of trees preparing for winter’s foliage flitted across the train window. With countless thoughts running in his mind, he unexpectedly succumbed to his sleepiness. He did not get much sleep last night with all of these thoughts running around inside of his head and with that dream…
When Kichirō opened his eyes, he was back again to the dark and empty void. He floated in sheer nothingness. A thought came to him and so he decided to follow where the string tied to his little finger lead to. As he drew farther and farther, a conspicuous hint of light began to glimmer in the distance. With tears trickling down his face, he followed the light which, beyond his knowledge, was opposite to where the string lead him to. In the twinkling of an eye, he saw Ryū’s familiar visage with his hands reaching out for him. Kichirō tried to reach out for him too, but the moment he was about to grab a hold on to Ryū’s cold hands, he was abruptly pulled away by the string.
He realized that he was still tied to the string. With a frown on his face, he looked at the string, which was dimly illuminated by the light. It then dawned on to him that it was actually a red string. Could this really be the red string of fate?
Without making much thought of it, he desperately tried to pull toward Ryū, but the more that he was stirred away. He tried calling out for Ryū’s name, but he could not even utter a sound. As he helplessly struggled, he felt a warm embrace from his back. It felt so warm and yet, so gentle. It was like the first wave of heat at Rikka . He turned around and everything became bright. All he could recall by then was that bright smile on that person’s face…
(「立夏」First day of Summer)
To be continued…