Sitting alone in the doctor’s office waiting room, Koichi wiped his hands on his pants, his palms sweating from fear, it was taking everything he had just to sit and wait for his appointment, wanting nothing more than to bolt and go home. He had filled out the required paperwork; lists of surgeries, injuries, any medications he was on, the reason for the visit. It had taken him an entire week to get up the courage to even call the doctor, let alone schedule an appointment, but with gentle prodding by Uta and Mao he had finally made the call.
“Will you tell Tatsu?” Uta asked the evening before the appointment. “No, not yet.” He said quietly, “I’m not sure I want him to know I’m seeing a shrink…he might…” he might think I’m crazy, is what he wanted to say. “That’s up to you, but I do think you owe him at least a phone call, it’s been almost a month, Kou.” Uta gently chided.
Koichi wasn’t sure he owed Tatsu anything. His feelings about his husband changed as quickly as a blink of an eye; one moment he felt anger towards the man, the next he was sobbing into his pillow because he knew he was hurting the one person who meant the most to him. “I’ll call him after my first appointment, I promise.”
For Tatsu, not speaking to Koichi was slowly killing him, if it were not for the daily updates via text and phone calls from both Uta and Sakurai, Tatsu would have long fallen completely apart. “Tell him that I love him, and that I’ll be here when ever he needs me,” was his standard message each time he spoke to the men. What he really wanted was to scream and yell, rush over to Sakurai’s home and force his way in, physically remove Koichi from the home, take him home and care for him. His friends all told him, ‘don’t do it, he’ll resent you for it.’ Fuck resentment, he’s my husband and I want him home!
The door opened, “Koichi? Come on in.” The doctor had anything but a typical doctor appearance, the man could be Sakurai’s brother, Koichi could do nothing but stare at the man. “Is there a problem, Koichi?” Dr. Takigawa asked, noticing that the young man seemed unnerved. “Um, not really a problem, but um… has anyone ever told you you look like you could be Sakurai Atsushi’s brother?”
The doctor smiled, “Only one person, and I believe you know him quite well.” Koichi knew that the doctor was talking about Mao. “Oh, yah…I guess so.” Takigawa looked over Koichi’s paperwork, tapping a pen against his cheek, leaving Koichi to squirm a little in his seat. Looking up at his new patient, Takigawa leaned forward in his chair, “Let’s start with the basics; why you are here and what you hope to achieve.”
Koichi frowned, “I’m sure you know why I’m here, you have all my records,” he snapped, “I want to stop hurting…myself, my friends and loved ones, I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me, but I think it may be depression.” Koichi crossed his arms over his chest, instantly defensive.
“Your file says PTSD was diagnosed by Dr. Maeta, do you agree with him on that?”
“Maeta’s an asshole, that’s the only right thing there is about him.” Koichi huffed. “Well that’s not what I expected, but you have the right to feel that way. Why do you think you have depression?” Takigawa said blandly.
Koichi didn’t answer, he just shrugged. “You’re the doctor, you tell me,” he said. “I can’t tell you unless you tell me what’s bothering you. That’s kinda how therapy goes, you know…back and forth exchanges between us, but if you’re going to be a sullen brat…” Koichi’s head snapped up, “Excuse me?”
Takigawa was looking at his clip board, basically ignoring Koichi at that moment. “A sullen brat? What the hell does that mean? You’re not allowed to speak to me like that.” Koichi got up and started walking towards the door.
“Sit your ass down, Koichi.” Takigawa knew the game and how it was played. “If you walk out that door, you can write me off as your doctor. If you sit back down and speak to me like an adult, we’ll continue, your choice.” Koichi stood at the door, his hand on the knob. Turning back to Takigawa, “Fine, but you have to help me, you can’t talk down to me, that’s not…”
“Sit down Koichi, you don’t get to dictate what I say or how I say it. If you want help, and yes, I think I can help you, then sit your pretty little ass down in the chair and we’ll continue.” Koichi walked back over to the chair and sat down in a huff. “Good, now…let’s talk about what happened that put you in the hospital.”
The remainder of the session was spent on the known aspects of what was going on with Koichi; his attitude towards his friends and his husband and the hospitalization, and the reason he walked out without being discharged by Maeta. “Play time? Seriously, he told me to schedule play time. What the hell does that even mean?”
Takigawa smirked, “He worded it wrong and pushed you in the wrong way. I believe he simply meant trying to find something that was relaxing, that you would enjoy doing outside of work and your relationship with your husband. He also should not have made those demands in order for you to be discharged, I totally agree with your leaving on your own.”
He had to work to get Koichi’s confidence in him, he knew that it would be critical in the young man’s treatment. When Takigawa had received Koichi’s records, it pained him to read what the young man had gone through in the last six years, Mao had also offered up some insight to his friend. “The only other of my friend’s that’s had it worse that Kou is Uta, and you already know about that.”
“Do you think medication will help me?” Koichi asked in a very small voice, a complete 180 on his earlier demeanor, now Takigawa could see through the bluffing. “It’s possible, are you open to trying medication?”
Koichi nodded, “Mao said it helped him, and he was pretty bad back when we were all dealing with the problems Uta was having,” Takigawa reached over and handed Koichi a tissue, who didn’t realize that he had started to cry. “I just want to be normal again, I’m hurting Tatsu and Taka, all my friends…I’m not like this…this isn’t me!”
Takigawa didn’t want to start Koichi off on any medication after just one visit, not yet. “I want to hold off on any medication, we need to talk at least once more before I can prescribe it. What I’d like you to do is keep a journal of sorts.” Koichi was going to object, Takigawa holding up his hand. “Before you start whining about it, this is important. I want you to keep track of what your triggers are, it’s not a diary, just write down what was going on right before your mood changed. It might be something as simple as something you saw on TV, something you ate or who you were talking to.”
Koichi reluctantly agreed and made his next appointment for the following week. “One last thing; if you agree to it, I’d like to speak to your husband, I know you’re not living with him at the moment, but I think it’s fairly important that he’s included in this process. You can have him call me, or he can come with you, that’s up to you entirely.” Koichi told the doctor, he’d think about it. He’d have to speak to Tatsu, something he hadn’t done in weeks. “The longer you go without speaking to your husband, the further apart you will grow.” Takigawa warned him.
Koichi left the office building, walking towards the train station deep in thought, almost not hearing someone calling his name, “KOICHI!” Uta honked the horn on his sports car, “Come on! I’ll give you a ride home.” Uta wasn’t going to bring up the therapy session, “Hey, I need to stop at the pet store, is that okay with you?”
“Sure…” Koichi smiled, thankfully Uta didn’t ask about the appointment. The drive to the store was quick, Uta telling Koichi about the dinner Acchan was preparing, “I hope you’re hungry, he always makes way more than we need.” Finding a parking spot, they walked into the store, Uta grabbing a basket. “Hey, can you find some new toys for Maru and Saki? They went on a killing spree, tore everything they had to pieces, I have to grab some food.” Koichi walked into the toy aisle, picking up random toys, thinking which ones the two terrors would like. A lady came around the corner, holding a carrier, a pair of dark green eyes peeking out the front. She was looking at toys, shaking small balls in front of the carrier.
“Teepa, you’re so spoiled! You really don’t need anymore toys.” She chuckled, a small cry coming from inside the carrier. “A kitten?” Koichi asked politely. The lady held the carrier up so Koichi could look inside, a black kitten with green eyes staring back at him. “Teepa, he’s not even a year old yet, and yes…I’m spoiling him.”
“He looks a lot like my baby Teo, he’s five years old and is a pretty tiny cat, maybe only 6lbs. Hello Teepa, you’re a cute lil baby…” Koichi crooned at the kitten. “Koichi, making new friends?” Uta walked up with a basket full of food.
“He looks like Teo, same green eyes.” A sudden pain in Koichi’s heart hit him, he could feel the tears start, “Um, how are these for toys?” He bowed to the woman who walked away. “Kou? Are you okay?” Uta saw the tears, “I just miss Teo and Gordy,” he whispered. “Let’s get out of here, Acchan’s not going to hold dinner for us if we’re late.” Uta put his arm around Koichi’s shoulder as they walked to the check out.
Takigawa made the call, he knew that if it wasn’t brought up, Koichi probably would avoid contacting Tatsu. “Hello, Tatsurou. My name is Dr. Takigawa and I’d like to speak to you about your husband, Koichi.”
Dr. Takigawa’s words were an earworm in Koichi’s brain, “The longer you go without…” How long had it been? Uta said almost a month, but Kou didn’t believe that. Picking up his phone and looking at the calendar, he frowned. It had been 23 days since he last saw Tatsu.
Koichi didn’t say much on their way home from the pet store, instead he listened to Uta prattling on about Davina’s renovation on her home, Isshi and his boys and how they were coping, Koichi only offering a muttered reply. Walking into the house, Koichi excused himself, “I think I’m going to lie down for a bit, before dinner.”
Finding his lover in the kitchen cooking dinner, Uta put down the bag of cat food with a sigh, Sakurai seeing the look on Uta’s face, “Did his session with Dr. Takigawa go that badly?” he asked Uta. “No clue, he hasn’t really said much since I picked him up. He did see a lady with a kitten that looked a lot like Teo, maybe that upset him?” Sakurai frowned, “Let’s leave him alone for now, hopefully he’ll want to eat dinner with us.”
Koichi fell over onto his bed, bone tired, his soul weary and heavy. Tatsu. The one person he could never believe he would ever be separated from, and now it had been 23 days. How could he have let it go on for so long? His husband must hate him by now, abandoning their marriage, their life that they had worked so hard to rebuild, after all the tragedies that had gone on around them.
Takigawa’s words rang in his mind; “The longer you go without speaking to your husband, the further apart you will grow.” Was it the same with his friends, would they abandon him as well? How long would it be before Sakurai and Uta got tired of Koichi and asked him to leave? He’d have no where to go, he’d be homeless, would Tatsu throw Teo and Gordy out? “Don’t be stupid, none of that is going to happen,” he was trying to convince himself, “But what if it does, then what?” he argued back.
Uta hesitated before knocking on the door, he had heard Koichi mumbling to himself, not able to catch what his friend was saying. “Koichi? Do you want to eat?” he carefully opened the door a crack. “Hey, we’ve got dinner on the table, why don’t you come and join us?” Koichi thought about turning Uta down, “Um…” wait, they might want to kick him out if he says no. “Sure, I’d like that.” Getting up off the bed, he followed Uta down to the dining room.
Sakurai walked in from the kitchen, putting the last of the bowls on the table. “Koichi, can I get you a glass of wine?” He smiled at the young man. “Um, yes please…white wine would be nice, just a small glass.” He sat down at the table, forcing himself to smile and act naturally, whatever that meant at the moment.
Placing a glass of wine in front of Koichi, Sakurai sat down and started dishing out the food, not jumping straight into a conversation. “This is excellent, Acchan!” Uta said through a mouthful of pasta. Koichi nodded, “This is really good. Um…how did the cats like their new toys?” Uta laughed, almost spitting out his food. “They’re already dead…all of them, I think Saki killed them all because Maru was walking around with a mouse that had no stuffing.”
Koichi giggled, “Maybe we just need to put catnip in old socks instead, if their going to kill the toys in the first hour, that’s going to get expensive.” Sakurai’s heart leapt with the sound of Koichi’s giggles, but it didn’t last. Without even a breath in between, the giggles were replaced by tears, alarming both Sakurai and Uta, “Kou-kun, what’s wrong love?” Sakurai asked in a soft voice, as he reached out and covered Koichi’s hand with his. “I’m sorry…heh, uh sometimes it just happens.” Koichi stuttered.
At that moment, Sakurai’s phone buzzed in his pocket. Taking it out he saw the name, looked up at Koichi, “Um, I need to take this.” Pushing back from the table, Sakurai walked down the hall to his bedroom, leaving a puzzled Uta with Koichi. “Hey, why don’t you help me with the dishes, then we can sit in the garden.”
Sakurai sat on his bed, “What can I do for you? No, we were having dinner, it’s not a bother. Oh? That’s not what I expected to hear but it’s logical. I can ask but I’m not sure he’ll agree to it. Yes, of course. I will…give me a few minutes.”
Sakurai walked back down the hall and into the kitchen, he could hear Uta and Koichi out in the garden, laughing over something the cats were doing. “Please, let him agree to this.” He muttered as he walked out the back door. “Kou-kun, come here for a moment.” Sakurai held his arm open, leading Koichi into the living room. “That was Tatsu,” he waited to see the young man’s reaction. “He wants to call you…is this something you’d agree to?”
Koichi had a flash of anger, “He what?” Before he could explode, Sakurai put his hand on Kou’s shoulder. “Koichi, please talk to him, he’s in such pain…he just wants to know that you still love him.” With the touch of Sakurai’s hand on his shoulder, Koichi’s anger drained from his body, replaced by fear and anxiety. “He’s going to call in a few minutes, why don’t you go down to your room, take a deep breath and relax, he just needs to hear your voice.”
Uta walked up behind his friend, “Kou, I think it’s time you talk to your husband, don’t you?” putting his arm around his friend. Koichi wanted to argue that they were butting into his life, but something held him back from pushing them away; the truth. “Okay, I’ll talk to him. I actually was thinking of calling him tonight, I haven’t talked to him in 23 days.” Uta looked at Sakurai, “I think it’s time then.” Uta kissed Koichi on the cheek. “Go talk to your husband.” Koichi turned quickly and threw his arms around Uta’s neck, “Thank you…I love you, Uta.”
Leaning against the door as he closed it quietly, Koichi could feel his heart beating rapidly, his chest felt tight and his mouth going dry, “Seriously? It’s your damned husband, you idiot,” he scolded himself. Before he could dial the number, Tatsu called him. Shit.
“Hello?” This feels awkward.
“Kou, hi babe.”
“Hi, um…I was getting ready to call you.”
“Oh? Well, that’s okay, as long as we can talk…” Tatsu could hear the hesitation in Koichi’s voice. “I’m not going to hide anything from you, I wanted to tell you that Takigawa called me today, I guess after your first session.”
“Oh? Yah, today was the first time we met…he looks like he could be Acchan’s brother.” Koichi paused, “What uh, what did you guys talk about?”
“That’s why I called you first, he wanted me to come and see you but I wouldn’t do that without asking you first. He made it sound like I should just barge into Sakurai’s house.” That wasn’t entirely true, Takigawa had suggested Tatsu reach out to Koichi first.
“You…You want to see me?” Koichi’s voice was quivering.
“Babe it’s been three weeks since we’ve seen each other,” Tatsu took his chance, “I’d like to come to Sakurai’s…tonight if possible. I don’t want to talk about anything over the phone, please? Uta and Sakurai can even sit with us if it makes you more comfortable.”
Koichi surprised himself, he actually wanted to see Tatsu, “I’d like that, I uh want to see you too.” Tatsu jumped off the couch and fist pumped the air, “Great, how about in an hour?” Koichi agreed, “I’ll be waiting, um I love you.”
“I love you too, babe.”