Azusa woke up in darkness. It was his bed, but for some reason he couldn’t recall getting there. He sat up; the covers slipped down to pool around his bare middle as he tried to remember what had happened.
His heart lurched.
An episode with a lotion bottle.
He grabbed his phone.
Twenty-three missed calls and three messages. One from Hatsumi and the rest were from Shin.
He dialed his voicemail carefully, suffering between swells of hope and fear as he listened to Hatsumi’s message first.
It was direct. Just checking in, asking for a call back etcetera, nothing to write home about. His hand trembled as he deleted her and it automatically moved to the next message.
He nearly choked when he heard Azusa’s low raspy voice, his body ached bone-deep with need.
All from just hearing him speak.
They needed to talk, hm?
His stomach clenched.
What should he do?
He was half tempted to hide, buried deep in cowardice, yeah, that idea was definitely appealing.
However, the other half of him wanted to run straight to Shin, straight to relief.
He wanted to touch and be touched…he wanted to fuck.
He hung up the phone, not bothering with the first message, he would call Shin, he would, soon.
It had better be soon, he was sure that Shin would pound down his door if he continued to avoid him.
Yes, definitely soon, to put this throbbing pain in his chest to rest.
Gathering himself, he went to take a shower. He would call Shin after, when he was prepared, better equipped.
Hatsumi was right. He shouldn’t hide.
He didn’t know quite how to handle the situation as of yet, but he was sure that he would when the time is right.
Deep in thought, he ran shower water and stripped. Soon the bathroom was full of milky steam and he still was no closer to an answer, no matter how many times he turned the problem over in his head.
The water beat down, massaging all the knots out of his shoulders and back. Over the noise he could faintly hear his phone ringing. As much as it pained him, again, he ignored it.
He lathered rich foam down his arms, over his chest, floating ghost-like fingers over his hip bone and down the soft globes of his ass.
Clearing his head was impossible, here, now. All he could think about was his own mouth allowed to explore and taste every solid inch of Shin’s body. His tongue, generously permitted to trap and take, everything.
He moaned, his own body becoming rigid.
He slammed the flat of his hand against the tile.
He left the shower hurriedly trying to put these thoughts out of his head for the time being. Carelessly slinging a towel around narrow hips, he sauntered into his room, wisps of steam rolling off his skin. Rivulets of water dripped off his hair to venture down the length of his body, beading across his chest and daring to slip lower and disappear into the absorbency of the super fluffy towel. He paid no attention to the goose bumps rising all over and instead shook the water out of his hair.
His room was still dark.
It was after 10pm and he had slept all day, he was restless and full of pent up energy. Removing the towel from his hips, he stood naked and towel dried the rest of his hair, before finally picking up his phone to check his missed call.
Another from Shin.
The message was just a repeat of the last, he deleted it while he struggled to dress one handed.
One pair of baggy pants and grey button-down shirt later he was putting on shoes and calling Hatsumi. He received no answer and decided against leaving a message. It wasn’t that important.
He couldn’t help but feel relieved that she did not answer, but guilt paired with that feeling.
After all, Hatsumi had done nothing to deserve those kinds of feelings. In fact, her innocence, her blind faith in her friends and family should be rewarded with honesty, with kindness.
Yet, he couldn’t seem to get his mind around this obstacle until he saw Shin, until they could decide where to go from the last disaster. His phone lit up, almost impatiently, in his hand then it suddenly started to ring.
He swallowed his disappointment.
“Azusa? It’s Hatsumi.”
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“Nothing much, just returning your call and checking to see if you’re ok. So…. how are you feeling?”
“I’m better, thank you. I guess sleep was just what the doctor ordered, in fact I just woke up.”
Silence yawned between them, the vibe carried down the line and settled into his ear.
“Hatsumi? Something wrong?”
“No, it’s just, well…” she stopped uncomfortably before rushing on.
“It’s just Shinogu, he, uh, he was here this morning looking for you before he went to work.”
She had his complete attention now, his ears perked up at that last word.
Shin went to work?
After everything he went through getting him home, he needed his rest!
He spoke through gritted teeth.
“Hatsumi. Don’t worry I am fine. I am going to talk to Shin about taking better care of himself. Rest assured, everything will be settled soon. I am gonna let you go now and head over to the store to see him. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Hatsumi tried to speak, asking him to wait, but he was already hanging up.
He cast a disgusted look at his phone and began to dial for a cab. Shin should be off of work soon, he needed to get there quickly, he didn’t intend to miss him, not while he was feeling brave enough to face him.
Pacing the room, he grabbed his jacket and keys.
Damn him! Was his opinion so inconsequential that it could be shelved so easily? True it wasn’t meant to be an order, or was it? Either was he would bet on the fact that Shin was smart enough to put his own welfare above money, he just didn’t understand.
Idiot. The man was going to drive himself into the ground, with stubbornness as his vehicle. He left the house, seething as he locked the door.
He bypassed the elevator in his impatience and took the stairs two at a time. He was going to see this through, even if his anger was giving way to nerves with every step, making his stomach flop like a dying fish.
The cab was waiting outside of the gate and as he slid in, he rattled off the address. He slumped in the seat and it pulled away.
He warred between worry and hurt. These past couple of days had been the most emotionally crippling 48 hours of his life and he tried his hardest to just breathe. He continued to coach himself through the process as his ride sped towards the cause.
The elevator doors slid open. Hatsumi stepped out her stride quickly eating up the distance between it and Azusa’s front door.
She rang the bell.
Seriously, he was gone already?
She heard the sound of a car door slam and looked over the side of the balcony.
Shouting did no good, as the cab was already pulling away. She brushed the hair out of her eyes and sighed.
“Honestly”, she said to no one in particular, “Does he always have to jump the gun like that?”
She took the stairs down, no longer in a hurry as she dialed Azusa’s number. She let it ring until she got his voicemail.
“Azusa—" was all she could say before a strong hand clasped her shoulder making her jump.
She spun around her eyes wide.
Shinogu came around the corner as a cab pulled away from the walk, he heard shouting from above, but paid both no mind as he made his way up the walk. He checked his phone again, and frowned. No calls. Where was Azusa?
The anger had long since turned to worry, which was beginning to spiral into paranoia. He never waited or hesitated to call before even when he was upset or working.
What if this was it? What if there was nothing to be done about this situation that he didn’t understand in the first place. Just a one-night stand and a whole shit load of unanswered questions.
It was probable that he would find another lover and that Shin would just go on as normal. Why did just the idea of Azusa touching anyone else make him see red, he could feel his blood burning in his veins, he would kill him first.
Damn bastard, running away, hiding.
He should have seen this coming. After all history didn’t lie and this was rote for Azusa. The younger man seemed to be able to dodge the repercussions of drama he had started with unmatched flair. A trait that currently had Shin beside himself with confusion. He tried to clear his mind as he shoved his phone back into his coat pocket and passed the gate, headed towards the park. He did a double take as he passed spotting Hatsumi standing at the foot of the stairs with her back to him.
He stalked her silently, hiding behind large potted plants and topiaries, quietly sneaking until he was right behind her.
She never would have heard him anyway, she seemed to be engrossed in her phone. He raised his hand high above his head and clasped it roughly on her shoulder.
She jumped and spun around.
Her startled “Shinogu!” came out in a breathy whoosh.
He smiled broadly at her and waved his fingers in her face. She looked at the phone in her hand and hung up hastily.
“Hi, Hatsumi! Who ya talkin to?”
“No one, just leaving a message, and anyway, did you have to scare me like that you jerk? Surely you know how dangerous it is to sneak up on a person?”
“Even if that person, is you?”
His answer was a light punch in the arm.
“Don’t test me pal, you are in enough hot water right now.”
She looked at him, and her eyes narrowed.
“Shinogu! You look horrible what happened. Your lip…your eye?”
“Nothing. Just getting some advice I guess.”
He looked up at Azusa’s apartment and Hatsumi rubbed her hands together pretending not to notice.
“Almost spring and the nights are still freezing!”
When he didn’t answer, she put her hand on his elbow and followed his gaze.
“Azusa left. He went to the convenience store to look for you. He was pretty upset.”
Shinogu’s brows furrowed. He missed him again? Upset huh? Hatsumi grabbed his hand and began tugging.
“Come on, let’s go talk.”
He followed as she dragged him along towards the park.
They opted on a bench on the outskirts of the park, for its proximity to the complex and the fact that it offered a fair amount of privacy. The opening mirrored the gate to the complex, situated straight across from it with only the walkway dividing it. The rest of the area was flanked by bushes that hid the bench from anyone coming in or out of the apartment courtyard.
Hatsumi noted Shinogu’s sullen look as they sat. She settled facing him and went straight for the throat.
“Shinogu, I need you tell me what is going on. Maybe I can help?”
He worried his lip and then bowed deeply to her.
“I am truly sorry Hatsumi, I never meant to be so rude to you and I definitely didn’t mean to hurt you. When Ryoki told me what I had done, I knew I had to set things right immediately.”
“Oh really. Ryoki, huh?”
Her eyes turned red and Shin swallowed loudly. Almost instantly she was all sweetness and smiles again, for some odd reason he felt a sudden sort of pity for Ryoki that was quickly canceled out by the wicked stabbing pain in his eye.
Let him suffer!
Her attention focused back on him, he shifted in his seat uncomfortably.
“What is going on between you and Azusa?”
His eyes grew guarded.
How could he tell her without any real idea himself?
“Nothing. Just a misunderstanding.”
Hatsumi grabbed his jacket.
“If I could believe that, we wouldn’t be talking like this, there would be no need. Try again.”
Shinogu paused, zoning her out, picking half-hazard through feelings he had been trying to ignore until now. Trying to figure out how he felt and how much he wanted to admit.
“He is special to me Hatsumi.”
She looked confused.
“Shinogu, I know that. He is special to me too. What I want to know is why the both of you are so edgy?”
He looked away from her.
“It’s different from that. He is the most special person in the world to me. Hatsumi, I think that I may like him.”
When he looked at her again, he nearly laughed out loud at the look on her face. To say that she looked surprised didn’t even begin to cover it, shocked...not even close. She cleared her throat and sorted out a wrinkle in her jeans. She continued to focus on it when she spoke again.
“Shinogu, you mean...love-like?”
He nodded slowly. It felt right to say it, like home, but he prayed that it wasn’t disgust he heard in her voice, not from her.
They sat in for a few moments absorbed in quiet. Hatsumi continued to stare at her jeans while Shinogu tried to think of something to say.
He didn’t regret saying or feeling the way he did. He just regretted not giving her time to prepare for something like this. On the other hand, he didn’t even know it yet so why should she be prepared if he wasn’t and exactly how did you prepare for something like that. Like finding out your brother is in love with another man. When you put it that way, well there was just no warming up to that sort of topic.
He patted her hand and smiled weakly when she flinched but didn’t pull away.
“I don’t know what to say Shinogu. I mean, if you’re happy, then who am I to disapprove?”
She looked at him, her gaze level.
“However, I am not the whole world. I can’t pretend that I am not worried. I mean, not even mom and dad would accept this and how do you know that Azusa even feels the same?”
Shinogu’s eyes darkened and he at least had the sense to look worried.
“Mom and dad don’t need to know, not yet anyway. And as far as Azusa is concerned, I’m not sure how he feels.”
He looked upset as he said it, Hatsumi tried to cheer him up.
“Shinogu, I know that Azusa thinks more highly of you than anyone else. I have been there when you call, he can’t answer the phone fast enough. With you he isn’t on guard, he is softer. He mentioned something strange this morning. I think that you need to talk to him as soon as possible, it is the only way you will be able to have peace.”
His gaze snapped to her.
“I really am sorry Hatsumi.”
She looked at him, light dawning in her eyes.
“You thought that Azusa and I…”
He nodded slowly.
“That’s why you were so abrupt this morning?”
He nodded again and she giggled.
“Oh, Shinogu. You are both brothers to me. Besides, Azusa has feelings for someone else, he told me this morning.”
“This morning?” He stood up, and looked down at her, every muscle in his body on alert.
“What did he say this morning?”