"Jiu Jai, come on! Dinner's ready and I'm tired of waiting for you."
The only response to Curry's summons was the continued racket emanating from the television. The irritating sound of the grating, wildly popular pop song that was currently playing made him cringe. Why did Jiu have to watch that stupid variety show, anyway? Of course, Curry knew perfectly well why: it wasn't the music, it was the scantily-clad female dancers gyrating around to it. What they lacked in actual talent they more than made up for in suggestive moves and skimpy clothing, and that was more than enough to keep viewers like Jiu highly entertained.
Curry sighed and, after several minutes passed and Jiu still hadn't unglued his eyeballs from the TV screen, decided that he'd had quite enough of waiting. Though his sense of manners rebelled, his stomach was growling with increasing intensity. He'd also spent too long carefully preparing the evening's meal to let it go to waste, or get overcooked and soggy. He helped himself to a large bowl of the noodles and made up a second bowl for Jiu, and carried them both to the dinner table. Jiu could have them ice cold if those bouncing breasts threatening to spill out before the viewing audience were more important to him than enjoying a good meal.
Curry took his time eating and was halfway through his food when Jiu finally turned off the TV and made his way to the dinner table. Though tempted to nag his roommate about taking so long to come to the table, Curry bit his tongue, knowing it would be pointless. Jiu would never change, and it wasn't worth arguing with him about his behavior.
Jiu doused his bowl of noodles in hot sauce before even giving it a taste, then dove in with vigor. "So, how is it?" Curry asked.
"How's what?" Jiu looked up and across the table at him, one noodle dangling from the corner of his mouth.
"The food. Okay?"
"A little cold," Jiu replied, poking at the noodles with his chopsticks. "And the noodles are all mushy."
"Well, it was hot twenty minutes ago. And the noodles were just fine then, too."
Jiu finished up his meal without further complaint or comment. When they were both done, Curry stood, picked up their bowls and put them in the sink. Walking back to the table, he brushed his hand affectionately through Jiu's hair. "I could have heated it up for you, if you'd said something."
Jiu shrugged and got up, then went over to the sink and stared at the dirty dishes. "I'll clean them, never mind that," Curry told him. While he appreciated Jiu wanting to help out, truthfully he never washed the dishes to Curry's complete satisfaction--he didn't rinse them well enough, and he tended to leave bits of food stuck to the pots and pans. He just wasn't that good at housework, so Curry preferred doing most all of it himself.
Jiu shrugged again and opened up the refrigerator. "Wah! What happened to all the beer?"
"You drank it last night, remember? I left a note on the door asking you to pick up some more today."
"Oh. That's what this is for." Jiu took the note off the door and shoved it in his pants pocket, sure to be forgotten within a few minutes. He kicked shut the fridge and went back to the living room, where he immediately turned the TV back on. A few moments later, Curry heard a loud, explosive "FUCK!" erupt from the other room.
"What's wrong?" Curry called out, shutting off the water. He couldn't hear the TV any longer, just Jiu swearing. Curry rushed out to the living room to see what was going on. "What is it?"
"Shit! Fucking! Piece of shit!" Jiu pounded on the television with each curse, apparently trying to bring the suddenly dead appliance back to life.
Curry shook his head and sighed. "Why is it we never have any luck with TVs?"
Jiu kicked the side of the set, which then flickered to life for one brief second before the screen went dark once more. He gave it a second kick, and this time the screen lit up and stayed on, and the sound soon resumed as well. He sat down on the floor a few feet in front of the screen, leaning back against one of their old chairs. Curry sat down next to him. "We'll have to save some money and buy a new TV," Curry suggested.
"Sure, that'll make the burglars real happy the next time they come to visit," Jiu replied. Curry was unable to argue with that point. As it was, they'd had to spend enough money replacing and fixing things after that assassin had stormed their apartment trying to kill them both. Luck just didn't seem to be on their side when it came to keeping up this apartment, but their cops' salary was such that it would be hard to afford much of anything better.
"Anything good on tonight?" Curry asked, the dirty dishes forgotten about for the moment.
"No. All boring stuff." Jiu flipped aimlessly through the channels with the remote.
"We could go out somewhere--see a movie, or go to a club," Curry suggested.
Jiu shrugged off the idea. "Don't feel like it."
"How about Auntie's?"
"Not in the mood. Besides, I still owe her money from last time."
"So we'll stay in. Has to be something on worth watching," Curry said, though he knew something had to be seriously wrong if Jiu didn't want to even check out some whores, money be damned (as it usually was).
They ended up settling on a historical drama, which at least featured several pretty and well-endowed actresses about whom they could make plenty of rude comments. Curry, though, was distracted by worrisome thoughts, mostly involving his friend. Jiu just hadn't been himself lately, not since everything that had happened with their last assignment.
Not since everything that had happened with Joey.
"Jiu...are you okay?" Curry finally asked as the program went into commercial break.
"Sure, I'm okay. I'm always okay," he answered, though there was not much conviction behind his words. Curry didn't push him; if Jiu wanted to talk about it, he would when he was ready.
Which was apparently just a few minutes later. "Curry goh?" Jiu asked.
"I'm sorry you have to take care of me."
Curry put down the remote. He looked at Jiu, his friend--his best friend, since childhood--and put his arm around Jiu's shoulders and squeezed them gently. "I don't mind. I like taking care of you."
"But it's not right. It was one thing when we were kids, but things are different now. You won't be here forever. I have to learn to do things on my own." Jiu hung his head. "When you weren't here...I didn't know what to do. It makes me ashamed."
"It's not your fault. Your mom spoiled you rotten when you were a kid, I remember! She never made you do anything around the house, so you never learned. And I've been just as bad, not making you help out and learn how to do things. But it doesn't matter, anyway. It's not like
I'm going anywhere."
Jiu made a strange face at that.
"What? You don't believe me?" Curry asked.
"No, I don't. You want more than to just hang around with me all the time. You want a girlfriend--not like that one in Canada you never see, but like Joey."
"C'mon, who needs a girl? They're too much trouble. Best to just go to Auntie's if you need one for a while."
"You're a shitty liar. I bet if Joey were to call you, you'd drop everything to see her again."
"I would not!" Curry insisted.
"I bet you would."
"Okay, one hundred it is."
They sat for a long time in silence, staring at the TV screen, at nothing really at all. Curry wondered why it was so hard for him to tell Jiu exactly why he'd never leave, why he didn't need anyone else. Of course, he hadn't really been able to admit it to himself until recently, until his relationship with Joey had nearly cost him Jiu's friendship. He'd thought for a time that he'd finally found a woman he could really care for, whom he could spend the rest of his life with...but in time he'd only seen how foolish he'd been. She would never have been really happy with him unless she could force him to fit into her world, and he just couldn't do that. If she'd really loved him, she'd have known that and never tried to get him to change.
Of course, if he'd been honest with himself at the time, he would have realized that he could never fully give her his heart. Not when Jiu already had it.
"Why would I leave, when I have everything I need right here?" Curry asked softly. Jiu didn't say anything in response, but he did shift closer into Curry's hug, close enough to rest his head against Curry's shoulder.
Yep, everything he needed.
Except, perhaps, a properly working TV set.