“Do you want to order another bottle of wine?” Toshiya asked, as he poured the last sip of their first bottle into Kaoru’s glass. The evening had started well, Toshiya taking Kaoru on a proper date. He had purposely chosen to take a taxi, with the intention of having Kaoru loosen up before tackling their little problem.
“Are you trying to get me drunk?” Kaoru smirked, lifting the glass to his lips.
“What if I am? Is there something wrong with this?” Toshiya tested the ground.
“Usually, there’s only one reason you want me drunk,” Kaoru wasn’t stupid, he knew where this was leading, “I guess this is why you planned our unexpected date.”
“Partly, yes. But I want to talk about…well there are things in our relationship that I’d like to change.”
“Okay, for one,” Toshiya leaned in, “I’d like not to have to get you blind drunk for me to top.”
This wasn’t what Kaoru had expected. “What else do you want to change?”
“I’d like more foreplay, you know, have some fun,” Toshiya smiled, wiggling his eyebrows, “maybe I could blindfold you?”
A dark shadow fell across Kaoru’s face, “Is that all?” his voice was low and flat. “If you’re unhappy, why continue?”
“Wait, what do you mean, why continue?”
“Obviously you’re unhappy with our sex life, so much so that you want to add elements that I’m not comfortable with. It makes me wonder what else you’re unhappy with, so why should we continue in this relationship?”
“I never once said I was unhappy!” Toshiya sputtered, “I love you, I just thought we could change things up a little.”
With a scowl, Kaoru pushed away from the table, and walked away.
Toshiya hates having sex with me.
The thought of Toshiya hating him, was almost too much to handle. Taking a taxi home, Kaoru felt limp, so much so, he leaned against the wall as he took the elevator up to their flat…Toshiya’s flat. Going straight to the bedroom, he grabbed an overnight bag out of the closet, and shoved random pieces of clothing inside. “Fuck the rest of it, he can have the whole damned closet now.”
Without one look back, Kaoru tossed his keys on the kitchen counter and walked out of Toshiya’s flat, and out of Toshiya’s life.
Strategizing exactly how and what he would say, Toshiya kicked himself for believing that he could, or should, change anything about Kaoru. “Stupid idea,” he muttered to himself as he sat in the back of a taxi.
Handing the driver a wad of cash, Toshiya dashed out of the cab and ran into the building, skidding to a stop in front of the elevators, and aggressively started pushing the call button, as if it would magically make the elevator arrive any faster.
Repeating the action as he stepped in, “Hurry up,” he pushed the floor button several times. Arriving at his floor, he squeezed through the doors before they were fully opened, and raced down the hall.
“Kao?” Toshiya called out as he opened the door. “Kao, hey I’m sorry, can we talk please?” He walked down to the bedroom, “Kaoru?”
Clothes on the floor, closet doors open. A large empty spot, where Kaoru’s clothes had hung. Drawers in the chest, empty. “FUCK!”
Toshiya grabbed his phone and dialed, but Kaoru had turned off his phone. “Why? I thought we were past this shit?” Defeated, Toshiya went to the living room and flopped down on the couch, “I really fucked this up, now what?”
“You don’t have to accept, I can always hire a management company.” Uta had offered Naoto the position of manager, of the apartment complex, after she had moved in and was settled.
“I don’t know, Uta,” Naoto said, “I’m not good with conflict. What happens if someone is loud or rowdy? Also, I work full time now, I’m not sure that would leave me enough time to deal with tenants.”
“Hmm, true, I didn’t think of that.” Uta knew how shy his friend was, “I’ll ask Davina for a recommendation for a good company. I’m sure there won’t be any problems with anyone who moves in.”
“Just be sure to be the model tenant, no wild parties, don’t invite Reita over for jam sessions.” Pon teased. Naoto’s reaction upon finding the new bass in her bedroom, had been more than priceless for Uta and Pon, and well worth the cost and the effort. The young woman had cried for a solid thirty minutes, and hugging Uta and Pon multiple times, “I can’t believe you would buy me a bass, why?” Naoto ran her fingers lightly across the neck and fretboard, “And an ESP? Uta, this is an expensive bass.”
Uta walked over to the bed where Naoto was sitting, and took the instrument from her hands, “Okay, I can return it…”
“WAIT!” Naoto jumped up and grabbed the bass, “I never said I didn’t want it,” she hugged it tightly to her chest, “Thank you, I love it.”
Sitting together in the small kitchen of Naoto’s flat, Pon brought up the next problem, “Do we advertise the property, or just, I don’t know… let fate take over?”
Uta’s shrugged, “I hadn’t really given it much thought, I was in such a hurry to get every thing completed.”
“I don’t think you should advertise,” Naoto spoke up, “I mean, that might bring people that are just looking for a cheap flat, and aren’t really desperate.”
“She has a point,” Pon added, “word of mouth will probably be enough, and considering how it worked out with your original flats, I think we should keep things the same. Why change if it works for us?”
“But we should both agree to accept the person, it would have to be a mutual decision.” Uta leaned over and grabbed his bag from the floor. Taking out a notebook, he started listing their criteria, “Should we bother with an application or references?”
Pon shook his head, “Case by case, let’s not lock ourselves into that much structure.”
“Alright then!” Uta stacked up the papers, “I’m going to type this all up, and keep it for reference. Now, I think Pon and I should leave you alone,” he said to Naoto, “I’m sure you have things to do and we’ll just be in the way.”
Naoto hugged her friends again, kissing each on the cheek, “Thanks again, I love you guys.”
“Have you seen Kaoru?”
“The nude body of a young woman, suspected to be between the ages of 18-24, was found this morning, floating in a canal, near a downtown park. The young woman’s body bore signs of sexual assault, though the cause of death appears to be strangulation. There are no leads or suspects at this time.”
He opened the door, and stepped in. “Tadaima,”
“How long is he going to be in there?” Sato walked by the closed door to their home office. Taka had excused himself from their late breakfast to take a call from the owner of the HBG; he had been in the office for at least thirty minutes. Once the call was going into an hour, Sato decided to clean the kitchen of the breakfast dishes.
“Yes, I’m sure it is. How long has it been? Wow, doesn’t seem like it. No, I’ll do it, I’m sure there will be a lot of questions. Yah, I’m sorry this is happening, but what can you do? The pandemic is ruining a lot of lives, not just of normal people, but anyone running a small business. Yes, thank you for calling. Of course.”
With a huge sigh, Taka left his office and went in search of his husband, “Sato?”
“In the kitchen,”
Finding his husband at the sink, Taka walked up behind him, and wrapped his arms around Sato’s chest, burying his face in the man’s neck. “What’s wrong? Who were you talking to?”
Taka shook his head, not wanting to say the words, not just yet.
“Babe? Look at me.” Sato turned and faced Taka, worried what he would hear. “What’s wrong?”
“The HBG…it’s closing…for good.”