Type: One-shot song fic
Word count: 6,767
Summary: Shige isn’t sure what this kind of feeling is called.
Based on the song “You Give Me Something” by James Morrison. Written for a prompt from ivonnemcgruder at koyashigedake: Weekend off in summer. Thanks to zheinpathos for the beta reading.
[You only stay with me in the morning
You only hold me when I sleep]
I was roused from sleep by a heavy feeling settling on my chest, which I thought was a dream at first but turned out to be an actual physical weight. After I slowly gathered my faculties I realized Koyama had somehow shifted closer to me in his slumber and now his body was less than a few inches from mine, his arm draped across my chest. I saw it rise and fall along with my breathing and wondered whether, sooner or later, he would feel the frantic drumming of my heart against my ribcage.
A sideway glance gave me a clear view of his sleeping face, betraying a calmness not far removed from the surface of a dark lake. The golden-brown skin was exquisitely smooth, his lashes like a curtain protecting the depths of his soul. But it was the lips, those lush pink lips that made me think I’d go mad if I stare at them for too long. I took his arm and was slowly moving it to his side of the bed where it belonged when he stirred and began opening his eyes. In panic I ended up letting go of his arm and jumping out of bed, nearly stumbling as I made my way to the bathroom. Just before closing the door I caught a glimpse of the poor guy, perplexed to be waking up to the sight of me bolting away from him. That was the beginning of our last day in New York.
[I was meant to tread the water
But now I've gotten in too deep]
It had been an impromptu journey, which explained why we ended up sleeping on the same bed in the hotel room, something we had never ventured to do before in the many years of our friendship. I need to make it clear that the awkwardness was not only on my part; on the first night Koyama had piled a number of pillows in the middle of the bed to mark the borders of each of our territories, laughing nervously as he did so. But either the pillows came alive and move by themselves at night or we just tossed around too much in our sleep (Koyama said I did and refused to admit the same for himself), the fact was we would wake up to find ourselves a lot closer than we were when we went to bed, our limbs touching in some way. That last morning was the culmination: I was practically able to feel the warmth of Koyama’s body next to me. Splashing cold water on my face in the bathroom, I tried telling myself that the heat coiling inside me was triggered by natural instinct which could not be any other than platonic in nature. I failed.
When I got out of the bathroom after a shower, Koyama was in a half-sitting position facing the TV, his head propped up on pillows. He was surfing the channels but stopped when he saw me, forehead creased with worry. “Good morning. Hey, when I woke up earlier, did you—”
“Ah, sorry, did I surprise you? Nature called, so...” shrugging as a means to quickly move on to another topic, I walked over to my suitcase and pulled out a clean shirt and a pair of jeans. “What time do we have to be at the airport again?”
Koyama leaned over to the small bedside table to take a look at the plane tickets. “The plane goes at 5 PM.”
“Then we should head out from here at 4, just to be safe. Even if there’s traffic, we can still arrive at around 4:30. So until then we have all morning and half of the afternoon free. What do you say we have a last stroll at Central Park first? We didn’t get to see a lot of it the other day.”
“That sounds great,” Koyama clasped his hands together with glee. “I just love traveling with you!”
I lifted my eyebrows sarcastically. “That’s just because I arrange everything from tickets to itinerary.”
“Precisely.” He shoved the blanket aside and got out of bed, prancing to the direction of the bath. “Give me ten minutes and then we’ll have breakfast downstairs.”
“Make that five. I’m starving!”
“All right, grandpa,” he laughingly closed the door before I got the chance to throw anything at him. After getting dressed, I plopped back down on the bed and checked out what was on TV while I wait. The bed was warm and comfortable, with silky smooth sheets. My hand inadvertently ventured to the side Koyama slept on last night. His smell was still there.
[For every piece of me that wants you
Another piece backs away]
“Shige, Shige! Over here. Take a picture of me here!” Koyama was gesturing frantically a few feet ahead of me, near a row of giant trees. We’d been walking around the park for a few hours, but he kept stopping every few minutes, begging for me to take a photo.
“Okay, just stop shouting so loud. You’re embarrassing.” I just hoped the people giving us looks as they passed were only doing so out of curiosity. Camera poised in front of my eye, I said, “Ready...?”
“Oh, wait! We totally should get a picture taken together. Excuse me, sir!” I watched in slight unease as Koyama stopped a complete stranger and asked in broken English for his help. The American, a balding man in his fifties, nodded good-naturedly as I handed him my camera.
Meanwhile, Koyama beckoned at me to stand with him under the trees. When I got there next to him, he looped an arm over my shoulder and pulled me close — perhaps a little too close, I thought as our temples pressed together. I could feel him smiling next to me, pure happiness emanating from his very being. Even I, who everybody calls a pessimist, couldn’t help getting infected with his positive spirit. I don’t think I would have such an excellent time in this trip if I hadn’t gone with him.
The old man gave my camera back after taking a few snaps and Koyama thanked him, waving with a little too much vigor as we walked away. I think the old man was smiling not so much from kindness but from amusement at this tall and lanky but enthusiastic tourist. A few minutes later Koyama’s attention was already attracted by another vista. “Ooh, Shige — a pond! Let’s go have a closer look.” He grabbed me by the hand and pulled me along with him.
I didn’t really know what got to me then. Perhaps it was just a weird mood, or his grip on my hand was too tight, or it reminded me too much of his arm over my chest when I woke up that morning. Maybe it was a combination of all of that. All I was aware of at the time was this wild thrashing movement my heart was making. I needed it to stop so I yanked my hand away from Koyama’s grasp, stunning him a little. I offered a tiny smile to appease him, lifting my camera. “I’ll take a picture. You just stand over there.”
Mollified, Koyama smiled back and looked for a good position. He was standing too far to notice the slight tremor on my hands as I pressed the shutter.
[You only waited up for hours
Just to spend a little time alone with me]
I didn’t exactly understand what was happening then. A calm, rational part of me, one I always listened to, said I probably just got too carried away by the holiday mood. Once we return to Japan things would definitely get back to normal. Right? Wrong. If anything, it only got worse. During group interviews, I often fumbled with my words, simply because I couldn’t concentrate with Koyama sitting next to me, his knee brushing against mine every once in a while. When taking part in Koyama’s radio show, he’d stare at me weirdly before I notice that I had spaced out and didn’t hear the question he asked. A mere text message from him was enough to make my stomach do a double somersault. In times like those, that cool and rational part of me was curiously quiet.
One night, I got home late after a meeting with some magazine people about my column. Koyama had called me a few hours earlier (insert stomach gymnastics here) to ask if I wanted to go out to eat since we hadn’t had a get-together for a while. Aside from the fact that we were both busy, I had guiltily been avoiding him for no obvious reason. I told him I might be a little late so don’t count on it. But when I arrived I saw Koyama’s shoes in the entrance. I walked inside and found the man sprawled on my couch, asleep.
I knelt next to him and watched his face. It was like New York all over again, but this time Koyama looked different, pallid, a frown of exhaustion on his forehead. He was waiting for me, I realized, a warm feeling seeping into my chest. He was worn out and sleepy after a long day’s work but he went all the way here to see me. I didn’t have the heart to wake him up. I had taken off my jacket and was draping it over his shoulders, when he felt the movement and opened his eyes. “...Shige?”
“Hey,” I smiled.
He wiped his eyes and, noticing my jacket covering his body, smiled back at me. “I was waiting for you. How long have I been asleep?”
“I don’t know, I just got here. You looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to wake you.”
He sat up and shifted a bit to make room for me in the sofa. “I thought we haven’t spent time together lately.” He paused before continuing, a nervous edge in his voice. “Shige, is there something wrong?”
“What do you mean wrong?”
“I don’t know, it just seems like you’ve been avoiding me.” He stared at me concernedly, twisted my jacket in his hands. “I mean, is it something I did or...”
I squirmed uneasily in my seat. I hadn’t expected this but Koyama being Koyama, he would of course blame himself when I started shunning him. One look at his sad eyes was enough to melt my reserve. “It’s not you, Koyama. It’s just... work and school and stuff keeping me busy. Nothing to worry about.”
“But if there’s anything bothering you, you’d tell me, right?” He put a hand on my arm, his earnest gaze still fixed on me. “I might be able to help.”
I couldn’t tell him that he was probably the last person to be able to help me in this situation, so I squeezed the hand he had on my arm and forced a smile. “Okay.”
The crease in Koyama’s eyebrows told me that he could sense I hadn’t been completely truthful, so I stood up quickly and walked to the kitchen. “Have you eaten anything? I can fix something up for you real quick.” I looked over what I have on the counter, in the fridge. “I can manage some fried rice. How would you like that?”
At first, I thought he didn’t hear me. I was going to repeat the question when he finally answered, “That would be nice, Shige. Thanks.”
His voice was a bit strained but I pretended not to notice. Although I kept my gaze away from him the whole time I was cooking, I could feel his watchful eyes on my back.
[And I can say I've never bought you flowers
I can't work out what they mean]
Not long after that Koyama had a new stage play. Tegoshi and I planned to go see it together and, as luck would have it, both our schedules were empty on the opening night. When we met in front of the theater building, he was standing against a wall with a large bouquet of white flowers in his hand. He waved cheerily and approached me before becoming aware of the look I was giving him. “What?”
“What’s that?” I gestured at the bouquet.
Tegoshi threw me a ‘Well, duh’ look. “Flowers for Kei-chan, of course. It’s opening night, Shige, he deserves something special!”
Now why didn’t I think of that? Before I had the chance to say anything else he dragged me by the arm inside the theater. “Come on, the doors are about to open!”
The play was called... well, Call. Koyama as the main character spent a lot of time inside a public phone booth in the middle of the stage reciting long lines of dialogue. But the pacing of the story successfully kept it from being boring by gradually building up palpable tension. As I observed Koyama on stage, watched him move and hear him talk, I came to see him a little differently. He had obviously been practicing very hard for this, and it paid off because his acting had improved a lot. He had a strong stage presence, and I could swear it wasn’t just the lighting but he seemed to emit a kind of radiance when he’s up there. There was one part near the end of the play when he turned to the audience with this faraway look in his eyes, his face glowing with a rich hue. My heart skipped a beat, maybe two.
After the show ended we hung outside for a bit, grabbing the play souvenirs, before going to see Koyama backstage. He still had that glow about him, which got even brighter as he spotted us and broke into a huge grin. “You guys made it!”
“Of course we did!” Tegoshi leapt to give Koyama a one-armed bear hug before stepping back to present the flowers he hid behind his back. “Kei-chan was awesome. This is for you!”
“Wow, thank you, Tegoshi!” Koyama took the bouquet happily, and as he turned to me, it looked like he was expecting me to pull out a bunch of roses from my sleeve. My awkward smile and “Congratulations” barely compared to Tegoshi’s shower of affection, but Koyama beamed all the same. “Thanks for coming, Shige.”
“You were beautiful.” The words slipped from my lips before I realized it, and I silently berated myself right after for saying something that can be so easily misconstrued. “I mean, you did great back there,” I quickly added. “An amazing job, really.”
I must’ve been imagining things but I thought I saw tints of pink on Koyama’s cheeks, his smile growing wider. “Thank you, Shige. Listen, why don’t you two wait a minute while I change and then we can go somewhere for a drink or something.”
Tegoshi immediately agreed, always ready for a good time. But it was my hand that Koyama took before he ran back to the dressing room, the gentle squeeze so fleeting but poignant with promise. Little did I know that it was a prelude to something bigger later in the night.
[I never thought that I'd love someone
That was someone else's dream]
Koyama was in a rare celebratory mood and drank the most out of the three of us, although Tegoshi’s alcohol count was not far behind. After a few hours it seemed I was the only one with some semblance of clear-headedness. When Koyama and Tegoshi reached the sixth round of their drinking game I decided it was time to break off the party and called a cab. The first stop was Tegoshi’s house, and he stumbled out of the taxi before turning around and yelling a farewell that could’ve woken up the entire block. As the cab sped toward Koyama’s home I heard him let out a contented sigh. “I had such a great time.”
I chuckled. “You really went all out, did you?”
“Yeah.” He crept closer and put his head on my shoulder. I thought he had fallen asleep because he stayed quiet for a long while, but suddenly he mumbled, “Shige...”
He raised his head and turned to look at me, his gaze deep and indescribable. Then, he pressed his lips against mine and I lost the ability to form a single coherent thought--blood rushing to my head, my whole body numb except in the place where it connected with Koyama’s. His tongue slipped inside my mouth and suddenly I wasn’t so numb anymore, my insides morphing from ice cold to white hot fire. Alternately, he nibbled at my upper and bottom lip, his tongue cool as it dragged across them both. It seemed he would’ve gone on for minutes at a time if he didn’t have to catch a breath, but even then he only left a small space between us, not wanting to break away too far. “Shige,” he whispered between short puffs of breath. “I want you, Shige. I’ve been wanting you for a long time.”
I barely had time to process what he said when he kissed me again, his buttery smooth lips tasting just as good as they looked. One of his hands traveled behind my neck, under the collar of my shirt, while the other was on my cheek holding me close to him. But then something reared its head inside me and clutched fiercely at my heart, making it difficult for me to breathe. It was the same feeling that hit me in New York, an unreasonable dread that sent alarm bells ringing in my head. I wrenched my lips away, unclasped Koyama’s hands from me. He moaned in protest and edged closer until he was almost draped across my lap. I was suddenly very aware of the cab driver’s presence in the front seat, although he hadn’t seemed to notice anything — or pretended not to notice, I couldn’t tell.
“Shige, please,” Koyama whimpered. “I need you so bad.” His fingers were on me again, gripping the front of my jacket, but I struggled with all my might to tug them away.
“You’re drunk.” My voice was a bit shaky. “You don’t know what you’re saying.”
“I do, I really do,” he moaned helplessly against my lips. “I know I want you. Oh, Shige—”
If he got any closer, I didn’t know if I’d still be able to restrain myself, so I firmly pushed him off my lap, trying to pay no heed to the intoxicating scent of his body already all over me. “Koyama, no. This isn’t right,” I managed to choke out. “You and me... it’s not supposed to happen.”
He looked so dejected, I might as well have just slapped him. His eyes, previously gleaming in the dim shadows, turned dark and empty before he wrenched his gaze away, moving as far as he could from me. He stuck to the farthest corner of the back seat the entire remainder of the journey, forehead pressed to the glass. When the taxi paused in front of his house I turned to him tentatively. “Koyama, I... look, I’m sorry—”
I was reaching out for his hand but he pulled it away, the beginning of tears glinting in the corner of his eye. He quickly got out of the cab and slammed the door without sparing a final glance at my direction. I felt like something was eating up at me inside.
Whatever I was feeling for Koyama was something alien, an emotion I had never felt for anyone before. I had thought my feelings were one-sided, and a tiny part of me swelled with joy from knowing Koyama desired me too. But another side of me, a more overpowering one, had made me push him away over fears I didn’t entirely understand — fear of becoming vulnerable, of getting hurt. In the end I was the one causing him pain, and it hurt more than anything.
[Someday I might call you from my heart
But it might me a second too late]
The next time I saw Koyama in a work meeting, he was ashen-faced and wouldn’t look me in the eye. I think we could both sense the tension brewing under the surface, but neither of us dared to bring up what happened that night. I tried to concentrate on what our manager was saying but kept finding myself stealing glimpses at Koyama, swallowing hard as my eyes fell on his lips, reliving the way they felt pressed against mine. After the meeting, we went our separate ways without exchanging a single word. We didn’t talk to each other at all for the next few days, and the days after. No more impromptu phone calls or pointless text messages. At work, the only time I got to see him, he always stayed as far away from me as possible. I realized with a pang that I might have lost a best friend.
It only got worse from that point on. One night I was feeling so miserable at home that I went out on a solitary walk, soon finding myself in the Shibuya area. I had a camera in my bag, but nothing interested me enough to take a picture. While I was pondering whether to eat out by myself or grab a takeaway, I caught sight of something a few yards ahead. Koyama, walking side by side with a girl.
I didn’t think I’ve ever seen her before. She had a bright, expressive face, a row of pearly whites showing when she laughed at what Koyama was saying. Her brown-dyed hair was tied back in a ponytail. She was quite tall, and with her high-heeled boots, there was only a few inches of difference between her and Koyama. When she linked an arm in Koyama’s as they crossed the street, I felt something pierce at my chest.
I never imagined I would be in this position, but here I was, stalking Koyama on his date. If only I’d taken out my camera, I’d be a paparazzi. I was wondering how much money those people get for snapping fuzzy pictures of us when Koyama and the girl went into a café, choosing a table by the window. Without thinking, I slipped inside after them and took a seat at a considerably secluded spot where I could still get a clear view of them.
After putting an order, they pulled out several books from their bags and I realized it was a study date. I recognized Korean characters on the book covers. The girl was all attention, listening to Koyama as he explained something that I guessed was complex grammar or sentence structure. She pointed at Koyama’s book a few times, and as she did so their heads leaned closer together. I bet he could smell her perfume, sitting so close like that. They joked around a bit, Koyama’s eyes wrinkling in the corners in that oh-so-familiar way when he smiled.
Their drinks came. Koyama blew on his cup gently before taking a sip, leaving a trace of whipped cream on his upper lip. His companion chortled and took a napkin to dab on it. He looked embarrassed but let her do it nonetheless. I wanted to look away but couldn’t, like a moth drawn to a flame.
It felt like a long time that I sat there spying on them, but in fact it was less than an hour. I ordered a cup of coffee myself but left it untouched. Soon Koyama and the girl were putting away their books. He paid for the drinks, then the two of them got out of the café. Koyama hailed a cab which I assumed was for her but then they both got in. Smiles were exchanged when he opened the car door for her. It wasn’t very late; they were probably going to some other location to continue the date. Or they decided to call it a night and went to Koyama’s place, or the girl’s. Both possibilities caused a sinking feeling in my stomach in equal measure.
Why was I even so upset? I was the one who turned him down. The person who rejects isn’t supposed to feel like this, like some kind of animal was clawing at my heart until it was ripping at the seams. For hours afterward, I walked around in a daze, not knowing where I was going. All right, actually I knew where I wanted to go but I kept hesitating. Later in the night I ended up there anyhow: Koyama’s house. I really shouldn’t be here, for all I know he could be inside with the girl. Images of what they could be doing together began flashing in my mind, but it was mercifully put to a stop by the sound of an approaching vehicle. A taxi stopped at the curb and Koyama came out.
His expression when he saw me was a mixture of surprise and embarrassment, as though I had caught him in the middle of something prohibited. The taxi drove away and we stood there facing each other in silence before he finally spoke up. “What are you doing here?”
“I was... I just—” Stringing words together seemed the hardest thing to do at the moment, and what came out ended up sounding like an accusation. “I saw you. With her.”
Something flared in Koyama’s eyes, his hand that was clutching his bag strap clenched tighter. “Where did you—”
“In Shibuya. I saw you two at a café.” Note how I made it seem I was at the café all the time and accidentally saw them instead of stalking them there. “I don’t think I know her.” Which translated to: I usually know every single person you hang out with and she’s not one of them.
Koyama’s eyebrows wrinkled and he lifted his chin defiantly. “Yukari-chan is studying Korean too. My teacher introduced me to her. Not that I have to explain anything to you, anyway.”
“Yukari-chan, huh?” I surely didn’t expect him to call her with such an intimate term. What name did she use for him, I wondered: Keiichiro-kun? Kei-kun? Kei-chan?
“Yes.” He was gritting his teeth now, his tone turning steely. “What business is it of yours, anyway?”
I didn’t exactly know how to answer that. “Nothing, it’s just... I’m concerned about you, and—”
“Why?” I didn’t realize when he started shouting. “What does it matter to you who I go out with? I was enjoying myself with good company. What problem do you have with that?”
A problem I most definitely have, but I couldn’t explain it to him. Describing what my problem was would entail explaining why my heart beat more rapidly whenever he was near, why my insides turned hot and cold when he put his arm around me, why I panicked when he kissed me and pushed him away as the result. I couldn’t put them all into words, I wasn’t ready. So I kept my mouth shut, which seemed to frustrate Koyama further. When he spoke again his voice was smaller but more exasperated, almost pleading. “Don’t you have anything to say to me?”
I gulped hard and shook my head. “No,” I said. “Nothing.”
His face turned a shade of crimson like he was ready to punch me, but all he did was blurt out, “Shige, you’re just so... stupid!”
There were a lot of names Koyama called me during the many years of our friendship, both in seriousness and in jest, but stupid had never been one of them. He marched past me in a huff and went inside, slamming the door. I was left standing there with only the chirping of crickets as company, wondering why the ground hadn’t opened up and swallowed me already.
[And the words that I could never say
Are gonna come out anyway]
The week after that Koyama took a break from work for several days. We still weren’t in speaking terms, so if our manager didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t even have known about it. We were supposed to have a photos hoot and crosstalk for a magazine on Saturday but Koyama did his own interview earlier, so I thought I was going to have the interview alone. When I arrived at the studio, though, Ryo was there. The first thing he asked when he saw me was, “Where’s Koyama?”
“Don’t ask me,” I muttered, putting my bag on a chair. I pretended to look over the outfit we were going to wear for the shoot to avoid further conversation, but Ryo persisted. “I thought he was going to be here too.”
I sighed. “He took a few days off. At least that’s what the manager said.”
Ryo merely lifted an eyebrow, but I could practically hear the unsaid “And you don’t know about this?”. The recent falling-out I had with Koyama must not have escaped the other members’ attention, and I guessed they must have been wondering about it.
“So... did you see it then?”
I looked up at Ryo perplexedly. “Huh?”
“You know — that.” He gazed at me meaningfully as if we were sharing some kind of secret. “I thought it was the reason you and Koyama fell apart.”
“The reason?” How could Ryo be aware of the reason anyway? Has my personal matters become some kind of material for public consumption?
Then Ryo’s face suddenly changed as realization dawned on him. “You don’t know, do you? You haven’t seen it.”
He shook his head. “Crap, I really don’t want to be the one to tell you this. You went to see his play, right?”
“Didn’t you get the souvenirs?”
I didn’t know where he was getting at. “I did. Bought the whole set of postcards.”
Ryo’s eyes widened incredulously. “Well, didn’t you get a good look at them?”
“I just skimmed through them. I’ve basically seen them all already, I mean, I was the one who took the pictures for him in New York, and I helped him pick out the best.”
Ryo’s response was to shake his head again, his expression a combination of pity, frustration and a little bit of amusement. “Man, you’re lost, you really are. Listen, go get a look at them once again. You’ll thank me later.”
I was ready to run off to my house and rummage my things for those postcards, but the photographer came just at that moment. All through the photo shoot and crosstalk I was itching to go. When it was over I was out the door before anybody else, Ryo smirking at me as I went past him.
When I got home, I immediately searched for those postcards, fingers trembling from agitation as I did so. It didn’t take long to locate them on my desk, a complete set printed especially for the Call play. I went through each and every one, realizing belatedly that I should’ve asked Ryo what specific thing I should be looking for. Then I found it. A picture of Koyama with his back to the camera, his face reflected in the mirror in front of him. He was pointing at my direction in the mirror, as it also reflected my figure behind him, taking the photo. It was the only picture in the collection which had my image on it. All this I’d already seen before, but what I didn’t know was that on that particular postcard Koyama had scribbled the following:
“The person holding the camera is my best friend, S-kun.
Eight years have passed since we met...
I love you, Shige.”
I felt a lump growing in my throat. So this was why he was in such an animated mood after the play — he thought I’d seen the postcard. That explained why he made a move on me in the cab, and why he was so frustrated with me the night I saw him with that girl. Being so public with his confession like this was very risky, but he cleverly wrote it so that it can be interpreted as friendly love, while his kiss later proved it otherwise. But I stupidly didn’t look at all the postcards carefully, and missed the whole message. He told me he loved me and I didn’t even know about it.
I had to talk to him, I decided. I needed to make things right between us — I didn’t yet know how, but I had to try. Reaching out for my phone, I dialed Koyama’s number but only got voicemail. I contacted the manager and he didn’t know where Koyama was. Finally I called his mom, who sounded surprised to hear I was looking for him.
“He went to that beach house you two rented last summer,” she said. “I thought he was going with you!”
I denied it, mumbled an excuse and thanked her for the information before hanging up. I had my qualms about it; what if he went to the beach house with that Yukari girl, for example? But as I got in my car to drive there I became convinced that Koyama went there alone. He wouldn’t want to take somebody else to that house, a place that was so special to us.
Koyama and I called it the “Summer Time” beach house, because it reminded us of the place we used for the Summer Time PV — spacious and cool with its sea-blue walls and interior. We went there together last summer for a weekend, just the two of us, splashing in the ocean and burying each other in sand at day and having barbeque and singing at the bonfire at night. Now that I recalled it, we promised to go back there this summer but hadn’t got the chance, not after this whole mess happened. I didn’t know why he decided to go alone out there, where he would surely be reminded of our memories. Perhaps deep down he wanted me to find him there.
When I arrived the sun was beginning to dip lower in the horizon. The beach house was just as beautiful as I remembered it, the blue walls standing out in a background of orange sky. There was no answer when I knocked on the door. I went around the other side of the house to a row of trees where I remembered a hammock was hanging low. Sure enough, Koyama was reclining there, head propped by one bent arm, an open book in his hand. His sleeveless shirt and shorts revealed bronzed, smooth skin. He looked up when he heard me approach, and the glimmer in his eyes told me I was right. He really was waiting for me.
[Cause you give me something
That makes me scared alright]
“Hi,” I smiled nervously.
“Hi.” He smiled back as if we never had that fight the last time we met. Sitting up and putting his feet on the ground, he closed his book and gestured for me to sit beside him on the hammock. I did so, fixing my gaze on the ocean before us.
“I saw the postcard,” I said. “I mean, I just saw it today.”
He looked at me, confused. “So you hadn’t...”
“No. That night after the play, when we—” I cleared my throat, unable to find the proper words. “When it happened, I had no idea.”
Koyama looked at me, then at the sea, and back to me before he burst into laughter. “No wonder you were so surprised then. I jumped at you out of nowhere.”
It did seem a little funny now that I thought about it. Then he added in an apologetic tone, “I’m sorry I called you stupid.”
It was my turn to laugh. “It’s okay. I guess I really was, anyway.”
We both shared in the quiet mirth, the atmosphere getting increasingly lighter. It felt like a casual conversation we would have any day, the kind I’d missed so much. After our laughter died down Koyama quietly said, “I had that one date with Yukari-chan, and that was it.”
“Oh. It didn’t work out?” Possibly the lamest response ever, I know.
“No, it didn’t. My heart just wasn’t there. I’ve been saving it for someone else.” He turned to me, and my breath hitched because he was looking at me like I was the only thing that mattered in the world. “I just need to know how that person feels.”
“Koyama, I...” My voice faltered, and I chuckled to hide the nervousness. “Gosh, I don’t even know where to start.”
“Start at the beginning,” he said, putting a gentle hand on my shoulder. “Start with how you feel about me.”
How I feel about him — that was easy. “I like you a lot, Koyama. I like being your friend.”
“Okay, I think I got that covered,” he nodded patiently. “Go on.”
I inhaled deeply and continued, hands fidgety on my lap. “I like the scent of your hair when it’s just beginning to dry after you wash it. I like the way you sing along to a tune while driving, your index finger tapping the steering wheel. I like the way that, after you borrow my jacket, when I wear it again it’ll feel warm and smells like you. I like the stupid little things you do, like mistaking a manual door for an automatic one.” An involuntary smile broke on Koyama’s lips at that.
“I like how good you are with people because I can never be like that. I like the way you dote on animals and children and wish I’m not allergic to cats so I can cuddle Nyanta with you. I like the way you kiss me — I like it altogether too much that I got scared.” I must have been blushing by then because I feel my face growing hot. When I glanced at Koyama his cheeks were also tinted red, but his eyes were earnest, urging me to go on.
“If all of that means love, then... I guess I do love you. But it makes me afraid.” It became a little more than embarrassing when my voice started shaking a little, as did my hands. “I’m afraid because being in love is like handing over a slice of my heart to another person, and I’m not sure I can handle that.”
“Shige,” Koyama said, immediately reminding me that I also like the way he says my name with that tender, milky voice. “It’s just me. You can trust me with your heart. Besides, I gave you mine a long time ago.”
He scooted closer to me, our knees touching, the ocean breeze playing with our hair. If this were a romance drama it would be precisely at this moment that he kissed me. But instead he put a hand on my hair and pressed our foreheads together.
“I’m waiting at your doorstep, Shige,” he murmured. “Let me in.”
[This could be nothing
But I'm willing to give it a try]
It didn’t sound so difficult or scary, letting him in. It sounded like something I could manage. The fear inside me hadn’t entirely vanished, but it had lost a considerable amount of power. Sitting close to Koyama that afternoon on the hammock, his breath on my cheeks, the sound of crashing waves around us, I felt I was safe. I felt like the two of us could actually make this thing work.
“Okay,” I whispered. “Let’s give it a try.”
Koyama smiled, and I knew I had made the right choice. He drew back and ruffled my hair, then stood up from the hammock. “Come on, I’ll race you. The last one to get to the water loses!”
He took a head start before I even got a chance to get my bearings. “Hey, that’s not fair!” I shouted, running after him.
“Life isn’t fair!” was his laughing answer.
He was only a few feet ahead of me, sunlight bouncing off his hair. The dry sand on my toes soon turned wet. When we got closer to the waves he slowed down somewhat, a little too obvious that he wanted me to catch him. As I reached him I threw my arms around his shoulders. His skin was warm in contrast to the cool water on our feet. As we fell splashing into the knee-deep water, I could hear his tinkling laughter in my ear.
[Please give me something
Cause someday I might know my heart.]