When Katsu got home from work, he found his roommate chortling on the floor. Sano's head was under the coffee table, his legs up on the couch, and he held a cell phone in the air above his face. The moment Katsu entered and looked at him, he rolled onto his side in a spasm of laughter -- the sort of laughter that sounded like a relapse, as if he'd just managed to get himself under control and Katsu's appearance had set him off afresh.
"I'm almost afraid to ask," Katsu remarked as he closed the apartment door behind him.
At first Sano could not answer except with further paroxysms, but he did sober enough to read the text message that presently chimed in to his phone. But if Katsu expected an explanation thereafter, he was disappointed, for the message sent Sano into another rolling fit of amusement.
Being a patient young man, Katsu moved off into his own bedroom to change from his work uniform and turn on his computer; he left the door open, though, in case Sano should recover to the point of volunteering information.
Eventually he did. "I've been prank-texting this dude for, like, an hour now," he explained at a shout. "Pretending to be some chick named Sandra."
"Oh, god," was Katsu's (not entirely unamused) response.
"I asked him out and everything. He thinks I'm a girl..." And Sano lost it again.
Katsu shook his head, rolling his eyes and grinning. "And who is this guy?"
"I dunno... Chou gave me his number."
"Are you sure it's smart to be randomly texting somebody Chou gave you the number of?"
"I dunno. It's just some--" The phone chimed again, appropriating all of Sano's attention. "Oh, he says he's going to--" But again the phone cut him off, this time with a genuine ringtone. Sano's mirth quickly turned to consternation as he realized, "Oh, shit, my voicemail! What do I do?"
"You should have thought of that before."
With a deep breath, Sano answered the call.
Now Katsu had to bury his face in a couch cushion, for at the first sound of, "Hey, Sandra here!" in the most unconvincing falsetto he'd ever heard, he simply could not contain himself any longer.
As soon as Katsu emerged again he saw Sano waving violently at him in a gesture that clearly communicated, It's hard enough for me to keep from laughing without you doing that. "No, I'm not," he was saying into the phone, still in that awful fallacious tone. "I lost my voice for a few days and it's just coming back, so if I sound weird that's why. Hmm, oh, really? That sounds so sexy. Ooh, that sounds totally sexy too! What? No, those are hot too. Ha ha, no. I love a car with good gas mileage."
Whether this was a euphemism and what they could possibly be talking about Katsu couldn't guess, but the absurd discussion dragged on and on and on; the man at the other end must either be phenomenally stupid or enjoying the joke just as much as Sano was. Every little while, Sano would turn aside and let out a string of muffled guffaws into his sleeve, and Katsu wondered what the stranger thought of these breaks in the conversation.
"He keeps getting all quiet for, like, a minute at a time," Sano explained in a choked whisper on seeing his roommate's expression at this. "What do you think he's--" But he was forced to return to the phone at this point, his stupid falsetto even less convincing than before. "Oh, no, sugar, I was talking to the TV. I told you I was bored..." Sometimes a random little accent crept in too, and Katsu wasn't sure whether Sano even knew it was happening. "What else do I have to do when I don't have a man to keep me busy? Oh, can't you guess? Well, I've been told I give really good blow jobs. Hmm? Oh, yeah, any time."
Things had gone so far that just about everything Sano said was too much for Katsu, and eventually he would surely betray his friend by laughing more loudly than the pillow could stifle or too suddenly to hide it. Besides, he had other things to do. However, he'd barely reached his room again when there came a knock at the apartment door. Assuming Sano was too busy -- and in no fit state -- to answer it, Katsu reemerged.
"Dude, he stopped talking again," Sano was chortling as Katsu turned the dead-bolt and then the knob.
"Yes, he did," said the man at the door in a carrying tone, ostentatiously snapping shut the cell phone he held.
Sano sat up abruptly, dropping his own phone. He dove for it, found the confirmatory evidence of the call's having ended on its screen, and stared at the man again in growing dismay.
"A word of advice for you," the stranger remarked as he stepped inside unhindered by any motion of Katsu's. "Chou isn't a very good accomplice. He can't keep a straight face."
Katsu restrained a snorting laugh.
"And the fact that he works at a police station should have given you some idea of the type of people he's with all day." The man pulled aside his jacket to display the badge he wore on a lanyard around his neck.
This time Katsu couldn't contain it; the laughter burst out of him. "Oh, god, Sano, you do know how to pick them."
"So what?" demanded Sano, worried and obviously trying to cover it up with surliness. "Are you gonna press charges or something?"
"Harassment is a fairly serious charge," the cop agreed with a smirk, "but I'm more inclined to take you up on your offer."
"What offer?" Sano wondered blankly.
The officer held up his phone again and answered blandly, "Among other things, you asked me out."
This was almost too much for Katsu. And if the pronouncement itself hadn't been enough, Sano's stunned expression -- as if he'd just been shot in the middle of a laugh -- certainly would have been.
"That was... that was just a... I wasn't serious!"
"Still, you did offer."
"I have a girlfriend," Sano stated defiantly.
"Of course," was the cool reply. "And that poster there was her idea of a joke."
Katsu almost lost it again as the man indicated with a gesture the half-naked Speedo model adorning the wall. The interlocking rainbow male symbols that formed the poster company's logo didn't help.
"Yeah, OK, it's a boyfriend."
The cop glanced at Katsu, who was still struggling not to collapse bonelessly onto the floor as he shook his head without a word.
"Katsu!" Sano yelped in protest at this betrayal.
The stranger's mouth twisted into a smile. "So it appears you have no legitimate cause to object to our arrangement."
"Except that it was just a joke! I was just messing with you!"
"So you would rather I pressed charges for harassment?"
"I..." Sano's brows went down over wide, astonished eyes. "That's blackmail! Isn't that just as illegal?"
"It's called 'settling out of court,'" the stranger corrected. "You've had your fun; now it's my turn."
Katsu thought Sano went a little pale at this.
"Come on," the man insisted, jingling his keys. He added with a smirk, "I thought you wanted to see my car."
Sano took a step toward him, jerkily, as if drawn against his will. "Katsu..." he said helplessly.
"Have fun, Sano," Katsu grinned.
With a look at his friend half stricken and half irate, Sano began to move a little more naturally: evidently he realized he had no choice in the matter. Stopping just short of arm's length of the stranger, however, he turned to Katsu and said darkly, "If I'm not back in a couple of hours, call the..." He threw a glance at the policeman and amended his statement. "Call someone."
"I may call a pizza place and order something to eat..." Katsu offered.
"Oh, fuck you," Sano said. And then they were gone.
Katsu didn't have long to laugh himself sick over all of this while wondering desperately and impatiently what was going on; he should have known Sano would keep him posted. The first text arrived only a few minutes later: I'm going to fucking die!
What are you guys doing? Katsu inquired in return.
We're going to play pool, I guess, was Sano's answer.
That's not so bad.
It is with THIS psychopath! Now he's asking if I'm harassing someone ELSE, so I'll tell you more later.
Katsu sincerely hoped it wouldn't be too much later, since this was funnier than anything he could have found on TV, and had made his day a good deal better not only than it had been but than any recent day he could think of or future day he was likely to have. Living with Sano was always an adventure.
This guy kicks ass at pool, was the next message, after perhaps half an hour.
Better than you? wondered Katsu.
I'll beat him pretty soon, Sano replied evasively, but Katsu could hear the irritated determination as clearly as if they'd been talking rather than texting.
Relative pool skills were all well and good, but what Katsu was mostly interested in hearing about... Is he still being creepy?
Not really. He bought me some snacks. This didn't tell Katsu much, since Sano was so fond of being bought snacks that he might overlook a good deal of creepiness on the part of the buyer.
Another twenty minutes or so passed before Katsu heard anything more. Then it was, I'm going to kill Chou. He TOLD this guy who I was after my FOURTH text. He told him I was gay and everything.
And probably that you were his neighbor, too.
You should totally hear this guy talk about him, though. Shit's hilarious.
"Oh, Sano," Katsu murmured, laughing as he read this and refraining from making the obvious reply.
The next communication, after another interval spent impatiently on Katsu's end trying to find anything that hadn't gone bad in the fridge, was a call. Of course he picked up immediately. "Sano?"
"Shit, man, I don't know what to do!" Sano sounded panicked "You gotta help me!"
"Calm down! I can't do much to help you from here. What's going on?"
"He... this guy..." Sano's voice echoed somewhat; since the signal was fine and the words otherwise undistorted, Katsu guessed him to be making the call from a restroom.
"Is he assaulting you, or what?"
"Well, sortof... I mean, he keeps saying things..."
"That's quite an accusation, Sano."
"He keeps saying... flirty... things." The word didn't really seem an appropriate descriptor for the man, briefly as Katsu had met him, but the concept at least was clear.
"You guys are on a date," Katsu pointed out. His tone was mild, but it was probably a good thing Sano couldn't see his face.
"Only because he forced me!" Sano sounded far more confused than anything else.
"What's really bugging you is that you're enjoying this."
"What?! I am not! Just 'cause he's... How could I possibly--" At this moment Sano made an indescribable and very undignified sound, and his phone clattered as it evidently fell to the floor. Hastily Katsu turned off the TV and pressed his own phone hard against his ear so as not to miss a word of the subsequently distant conversation.
"What are you doing in here?!" This was Sano, startled and angry.
"Seeing what's taking you so long," said the man's voice; he sounded amused. "You just can't stop harassing people with that phone, can you?"
"And what are you promising this one?"
"I seem to recall you promising me a 'really good blow job.'"
"I... what?!" Sano sounded a little hysterical. Or perhaps 'giddy' was a better term. "I didn't... No!"
Even from here, Katsu could tell that the man was teasing just as easily as he could tell that Sano didn't mind the idea nearly as much as he claimed to.
"Then I think you owe me a kiss at least."
The guy was probably giving Sano some kind of look Katsu couldn't appreciate from afar, for Sano was obviously very flustered. "Not... not... not on the first--"
There came a scuffling sound, during which the transmitting device was apparently kicked into a corner or something, followed by a long silence. Finally, almost inaudibly now (thanks to the phone's new position? or the man's lowered tone?), the police officer said, "That wasn't so bad." And whether the statement aimed at reassuring Sano or commenting on his performance Katsu couldn't tell.
"You are the worst cop I've ever met," Sano responded with relative distinctness -- and relative calm, too, especially for how breathless he sounded; it really must not have been so bad.
"That's quite an achievement, considering you've met Chou."
"And he backstabbed me." This grumble of Sano's was suddenly a good deal louder as he evidently bent to retrieve his phone.
"I don't know what else you were expecting," the man said, a sentiment with which Katsu had to agree.
Some profane statement of Sano's cut off as he hung up the phone without a goodbye, and again Katsu waited for the next update on the edge of his seat (figuratively, as he was, rather, sprawled on the couch in weariness from laughing so much and never having found anything readily edible in the kitchen).
Sano's eventual comment was, So he's a good kisser.
So I gathered, Katsu replied.
And he's actually pretty hot.
I noticed that too.
And he bought me ice cream.
Plying you with dessert, is he?
He's still an asshole.
I'm sure he is.
During the next information lapse, wherein Katsu tried futilely to pay attention to the show he was supposedly watching but kept checking his phone so frequently he might as well just have turned the TV off again, there came a knock at the door. A little irritated at an interruption he doubted could be anywhere near as interesting as the ongoing drama, Katsu went to answer it. He knew who it must be, however, when the knock was repeated and elaborated upon before he'd made it halfway to the door.
"Hiya, Katsu," Chou greeted him, craning his neck to look past into the apartment.
"He's not here." Katsu gestured Chou inside, shut the door behind him, and checked his phone again. "And you're lucky he's not, because at the moment he wants you dead."
Chou grinned broadly. "Hey, I tried not to give him away... but it was just too fucking funny."
"It's better than you think." Katsu couldn't help promising great things with his own grin. "At this very moment they are out on a date."
"What?!" yelped Chou. "You're shitting me! No way!"
"Last I heard--" Katsu held up his phone-- "your boss or whatever he is was buying Sano ice cream."
Chou staggered over to the couch and collapsed onto it, breathless and helpless with laughter. "Do you..." he panted eventually. "Do you know... what he came over here... to do...?"
"Threaten Sano with death if he ever did something like this again?"
"Yeah, something... something like that..." Chou buried his screwed-up face in the same cushion Katsu had been using all evening to muffle his own laughter.
"Well, he pretty much took one look at Sano and changed his mind."
When Chou could speak again he said, "Oh, we live in a fucking insane world." His posture having returned to more or less upright, he'd freed up the other half of the sofa; Katsu came to sit next to him and give a more detailed account of what was going on somewhere else in town -- including reading out all the messages sent and received thus far.
At the end of the tale, Sano's newly arrived comment on the proceedings could be appended: I guess we're done now.
Did you ever beat him? Katsu wondered.
I would have if he wasn't so distracting, Sano answered, to the great amusement of his friends.
"'Distracting,'" Chou chortled. "God, of all the fucking weirdness I never expected..."
Katsu shook his head. "This is so typical of Sano."
"This is so not typical of my boss," replied Chou.
"You'd better get back downstairs," Katsu advised. "I don't know where they went, but it might have been that pool hall just up the street, and if Sano gets back and finds you here..."
"Yeah, you're probably right," Chou grinned, rising. "Thanks for the entertainment, though."
"I think I should be thanking you. Sano probably should too, but I doubt he ever will."
Chou's grin broadened, and he turned in the exit. "You've got my number, right? Let me know if more fun shit happens."
"Roger that." And Katsu shut the door behind him.
His speculation regarding Sano's date venue was pretty much confirmed when Sano arrived, solitary and angry, after only a few more minutes.
"He didn't walk you back in?" Katsu wondered, fighting to keep his face grave; his levators and zygomatics were aching enough as it was.
Sano's answer was a short, irritated negative.
"Did he at least try to molest you in his car?"
"He didn't even kiss me again," was Sano's reply, and exactly what the surliness of his tone was aimed at was rather up in the air.
"Well, I'm glad you survived," Katsu said placatingly.
Sano snorted and threw himself down onto the couch.
Gradually the apartment grew quiet, except for the continued chime of incoming texts to Sano's phone. Katsu, moving around straightening things up and getting ready for bed, wondered whether Sano was threatening Chou or continuing his 'distracting' interaction with the other cop. Eventually, too curious to refrain from being nosy, he stepped to the couch and looked down over it, and Sano's shoulder, from behind.
It was fun, said the latest message Sano had received. Despite the angle, Katsu saw the conflict in the lip-biting scowl on his friend's face. He also saw that Sano had created an actual contact for the man. The name confirmed what Katsu had guessed at seeing the man's face: another gay Japanese guy. How did Sano keep finding them?
Finally, Yeah, I guess, Sano replied.
Katsu rolled his eyes, and didn't move. His quiet patience was rewarded, soon thereafter, by the sight of another message from the cop: Same time next week?
Sano made a What the fuck, man? sort of gesture, and suddenly noticed Katsu. "God!" he cried, startled. "How long have you been standing there?"
Katsu grinned. "A while. What are you going to tell him?"
Sano grimaced at him, and got up in something of a huff. "I don't know!" He headed for his room, and Katsu watched him complacently, still grinning.
He was pretty sure he knew what Sano's answer would be.