“Here. You can use this towel.” Ayato says and handed me a white towel. My hand is shaking as I take if off from his hands.
“You look nervous. Is something the matter?” he asked and leaned a bit closer. I take a gulp down my throat. His face is close...
“Yes, please don’t mind me. I’m always like this.” I said, trying to hide the real reason. The truth is, ever since the beach – my heart had been pounding non-stop whenever we’re close. Of course, I’m too embarrassed to let him know about it.
Ayato nodded and excused himself to the bathroom. I used his absence to dry out my hair. As soon as I'm done, I turn to look at the towel. Even this new towel smells like him. I pressed the towel on my face and left a little sigh.
“I’m done using the bathroom. You can go in now.” Ayato suddenly reappears. I immediately hide the towel behind my back.
“Don’t you want to take a shower? You can go in now.” He added. I felt troubled by his kind offer.
“It’s... It’s okay, Ayato-san. I can take shower at my home later.” I replied. He sighs.
“Nonsense.” He said and quickly grabbed the corner of my shirt. Ah... I know he just wanted to help, but this is too much! There’s no way I’m going to let Ayato-san help me undress now. My heart is about to explode!
“Your face is red. Are you sure you alright, Nemura-san?” he said. He put the back of his hand on my forehead. Please, Ayato-san... I’m begging you. Whatever you’re doing, just stop it. I don’t think my heart can’t take it anymore.
“Hmm... I don’t think it’s a fever.” He commented. I look away from him. Of course, it’s not. Don’t you know that I’m only acting this way because of you?
“You’re too close.” I finally manage to find my voice. He take a step backwards.
“Ah, sorry about that. Well, you can go in then... Please use whatever you can find in there. I’m going to cook dinner.” He said and turned towards the kitchen. While he’s taking out ingredients in the fridge, I take a glance at my wristwatch. It’s almost 6.00 p.m. It’s only right for him to cook dinner at this time.
But, is this also a cue for me leave?
“Erm, Ayato-san...” I said. He turned his head at me.
“You’re staying, aren’t you?” he interrupted. I blink a couple of times.
“Eh? For what? Dinner?”
“What else? Or are you actually afraid to taste my cooking?” he added before tossing the carrots in the air. I immediately shake my head. That’s not what I worried about. I can eat anything. But, is he really letting me take shower and eats dinner at his place? But, we're not even friends. He doesn't have to go through all that trouble.
And that kiss on the rock earlier, what was that all about?
“No. I’ll stay... for dinner.” I said. Whatever his reasons are, I can always find out later. Ayato smile before putting the carrot on the chopping board. He begins hums while chopping the carrot into smaller pieces. This should be okay, right? I thought to myself. We’re just two high school boys hanging out together, that’s all. And that kiss on the rock was probably just a one time-off thing. I shouldn’t think much of it. I take a deep breath and finally opened the bathroom door.
Turns out dinner made by Ayato was pretty delicious. I was surprised. Because he is kid from a rich family, I was under an impression that he doesn’t know how to do anything. But, now I know how wrong I was. Ayato-san might be a rich kid, but he’s also independent. If he is not, he won't be working a part-time job to support himself. It seems like his good quality only grows the longer that I stayed with him. As a silent apology, I told him to just sit back after dinner while I helped him clear out the dishes.
“Thank you for helping me out.” He said as soon I finished. I take a sit next to Ayato-san. Silence begins to fills the air between us. I wonder what should I do next? Ah, I know...
Should I ask him about that ?
“Ayato-san....” I said. He turned his head at me. We both paused and look at one another.
"Yes?" he asked. I shake my head.
“No, I'm sorry. I already forgotten what I had to say." I lied. He blink at me a couple times.
"I think I know what you going to ask."
"Yes." he replied. I waited for him to continue. Ayato suddenly open his mouth, but only to quit midway with a smile.
“Ah, sorry... I already forgotten what I was going to say.” he said. This is frustrating! Fine, if he's not going to say it, then I will...
“Ayato-san, why did you kiss me today?” I ask boldly. He paused.
“I don’t know myself. I just do it.” he said, without hesitation. I frown. Really? That's it? As if understanding my confusion, he continues.
“Sorry, Nemura-san. I know you’re expecting for more, but really – it’s just my body moving on its own. I don’t even know why I did it. I hope you can forgive me.” He said. I look at Ayato for the longest time. It will be lying to say that I wasn't disappointed.
“There's nothing to forgive. ” I said after a while. Ayato fall silent shortly after that. This is not what I had in mind when I decided to ask him that. I was actually hoping for something more.
"If it's hard for you, just forget about everything. I am truly sorry that I kissed you." he added. Now, he's making it worse! I don't need his apology. What I wanted to know is why he did it? When he kissed me, did he mean it? Was he serious or just playing all along? I need to know his true feelings why he did what he did.
“Earlier, you heard me, right?”
“When I told you that I was gay. You heard that, right?” I said while forming a fist. He nods his head.
“Well... What... what do you think about it?” I continue. He crossed his arms and look at me.
“I’m not sure... If it’s something you love and make you feel comfortable, then I say – go for it.” He says. Ah, I really wish he didn’t say that. A non-answer such as that only making my heart aches.
“Nemura-san? Hello? Are you listening?” Ayato ask while waving his hand in front of my face. I sighs. Whatever. I don’t care anymore. Ayato-san can hate me all he wants with what I'm about to do. I take a deep breath before putting both of my palm on his cheek. Then, without a warning - I give him a deep kiss. It was as delicious and hot as we had before. If this is our last kiss, then I wanted him to remember it well.
As soon as I finished kissing him, I opened my eyes. Ayato’s look at me with a shocked expression.
“What... What was that for?” he ask and touches his lips. He looks confused. I releases his cheek and look deep into his eyes.
“That’s for kissing me without my permission earlier. Now, we’re even.” I said unapologetically. Ayato still look at me without blinking. I can tell from his face that he’s still processing all of this. Finally, he left out a sigh.
“Well, it’s getting late and we have school tomorrow. I think you should go, Nemura-san.” He says and stand up. I was secretly disappointed that he didn’t give any sort of reaction towards my kiss. At least get angry or push me aside, Ayato-san. That way I would know that you hate me and we can stop playing this stupid game.
I stand up and walk closer to the door. I take a glance at Ayato before finally leaving his apartment. Today kinda have a bittersweet ending to it, I guess. I finally get closer to Ayato-san, but not in the way that I had imagined. In my mind, I had hope that we could at least become friends. Now, after what happened - I’m not even sure anymore. I hope he didn’t hate me too much after what I had done. I don’t want to going back to the time when we’re indifferent towards one another.
I think I would hate that very much.
“Excuse me, young man. Yes, you... Do you have a moment?” I heard a voice calling me from behind. When I turned around, I see a tall middle-age man looking at me with a gentle smile. I never seen him before and he doesn’t look like he belong from here.
“Yes, can I help you?” I said, uninterested. The man smiles at me. I take a step backwards. Could this man possibly be... a pervert?
“Forgive me for asking, but are you a friend of Young Master?” he asks. I frown. Young master? What is this man talking about? I was about to leave when he suddenly let out a light chuckle.
“I’m sorry. My mistake. I should have introduced myself first. My named is Shigeru Tanaka. I’m Mr. Ayato Hanai butler.” He said.
“Yes, sir. That’s me.”
“But...” I said before stopping myself. Wait a minute... It doesn’t seem to be a far-fetch thing for a rich kid like Ayato-san to have a butler. I inspect the man standing in front of me from head to toe. From the way he's dressed, he doesn’t look like he’s lying. But how can I confirm if this is the truth? For all I know, he could truly be a pervert and using me to get to Ayato. Now, there’s no way in hell – I ever going to let that happen.
“How would I know if you’re telling the truth? Do you have any prove that Ayato-san is your employer?”
“Will a childhood photo do?” he said. I blink a couple a times. A childhood photo of Ayato’s-san? Does he really have that? A picture of Ayato san... Hang on. Think about this first, Nemura! There’s a lot of possibilities here so you should think about it real carefully... Well, who am I kidding? The answer is right there all along...
If there’s Ayato’s childhood picture in there too, of course I want to see it!
Without wasting any time, the man begin to show me Ayato’s pictures one by one. It’s true. There’s a lot pictures of Ayato Hanai from the time when he’s a baby till junior highschool. Does he always look this cool and handsome? My heart started to beat fast again. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I even look at Ayato-san picture without feeling this way?
Please stop it... stop it my dear heart...
“Okay. Let say I believe you. What do you want from me?” I said and give the picture back to him. I pretend to show a devil-may-care attitude by crossing my arms. The man in front is smiling again.
“I have so many things to tell you. But, before that - can we go and sit somewhere else first? I’m afraid my back isn’t as good as it was before.” he asked politely. I nodded my head and tell him that there’s a cafe nearby. It’s a great place that sells drinks and food for a cheap price. However, there’s actually another reason why I want to have our conversation there. I’m still wary of this man true intention. I thought it would be better for us to stay in the public eyes.
“I’m sorry to steal your time like this, Mr...?”
“Asahi. My name is Asahi Nemura.”
“Yes, Mr. Asahi. I’m sorry for stealing you time like this. You must’ve so many things to do.”
“Not really.” I said. He smiles. He have a big and friendly smile, but I still don’t trust him.
“The reason why I called you tonight is because I want to talk about matters regarding Young Master.”
“Yes. You say it before. What is it about Ayato-san?” I ask. The man in front of me clears his throat before continue.
“I saw you and Young Master today earlier on the beach.”
“I also saw what the two of you are doing... on the rocks.” He added. I look at the man without blinking. Is that means, he saw Ayato and I... kiss... kissing??
“You saw us doing ‘that’?” I immediately ask back. Mr. Shigeru cleared his throat and nodded. “Yes. I saw everything from the beginning to the end.” He added. I take a gulp down my throat. Then, he must’ve been following us from the beach right to Ayato’s place. But, I been staying over from evening till dinner. That means this man must’ve been waiting for a long time.
“I see.” I replied. I was actually embarrassed that he caught us like that. Butler or not, this man is still a stranger. I can’t help but felt like someone is invading my privacy. Hold on a second... If this guy is Ayato’s butler, than that means he’s working with Ayato’s dad! what if he decided to tell Ayato’s parents about what he saw? Considering that Ayato and his father is not on a good terms, Ayato could get into more trouble. Speaking of which, I should tell Ayato about this. But, how?
I don’t even have his number.
“I’m sure by now you’re thinking ‘should I tell Ayato-san about this’, right?” Mr.Shigeru says. He’s still looking at me. I frown.
“How do you know that?” I asked back. He chuckles.
“It’s written all over your face.” He replied. I left out a sigh.
“Let’s just say that it’s true, what do you want from me? Is this a blackmail from you, *ojii-san? Because if it is – then I have nothing to pay you. I’m just a simple student and broke.”
“No. I don’t need anything from you, Mr. Asahi. Except, for maybe one thing...”
Here we go... If this person doesn’t want any money, I wonder what would h e wants from me? Let’s hear it.
“What is it?”
“I need you to stay by Young master side as much as you can. Please, I beg of you.”
Huh? What is he talking about? Stay by Ayato’s side? Why would I ever need to do that?
“I’m sorry, Mister. But, I’m afraid you had mistaken. How can I stayed by his side? I’m not even his friend.”
“But you like him, don’t you?”
“Don’t you?” he asked again. I stay silent for a while. Even if its true, there’s no way I’m going to admit to that. Is this man trying to entrap me?
“No. I don’t like him.” I said, after a prolong silence. Mr. Shigeru leave a little chuckle.
“You can lie, but I actually been following you long before that. I saw you following Young Master for while when he went into all of those shops. Don’t tell me that you’re still not interested?” he added. This man definitely saw me tailing Ayato earlier. Talk about ironic.
“I just wanted to say quick ‘hi’, that’s all. I never got the chance. Anyway, you’re thinking way too much, mister.”
“Well, even if you say that – Young master are definitely interested in you.”
“I’m his butler, remember? I know what my employer like and dislikes. If he hates you, then he already beat you up or stay away from you. Did he did either of this things?
“No. He didn’t not... But, why would he even like me?” I ask in confusion. I’m not trying to sell myself short here, but that’s what I been thinking off. Mr. Shigeru is shaking his head.
“That’s where you wrong. Young Master always seems to be withdrawn and can be quite a loner, but deep down – he also wants the same thing as everyone.”
“And what is that?”
“He wanted to love and be loved.”
“What about his parents? Don’t they loved him?” I ask. Mr. Shigeru take a sip from his cup. Then, he look back at me.
“In their own ways, they do. But, I think been looking for it, for the longest time. That’s probably why he kissed you on that rock.”
“Can we stopped talking about that? Someone might hear that, you know?” I said, a little embarrassed. He nodded. I sighed.
“I don't understand. But, why me? What about you, Mr. Shigeru? Why don’t you take care of him?”
“I also wanted to take care for Young Master, but there wasn’t much I can do. He don't want me there. The best thing I can do for him now is watching from far. I know he’s an independent soul and mostly can take care of himself, but I still have my worries. Mr. Asahi, can I count on you to look after him in my place?”
“You know that this is an odd request, right?” I said. Mr. Shigeru nodded his head.
“Yes, and for that – I apologize. But it’s been six months since Young Master was thrown out from the mansion. I can see that he’s working at the convenience store and made some friends there, but all of them are a lot older. He hasn’t made a single friend from his school. That is... until you.”
“I already told you, we’re not friends.” I said. Mr. Shigeru suddenly lit up a smile.
“Don’t worry. We’re going to take care of that little problem. I can give you a few pointer on things that Young master like and hate. I promise that the two of you will become friends in no time. No, I guarantee it!” he said with brimming confidence. I left out a sigh. But, Mr. Shigeru offers wasn’t so bad. I do wanted to find a way to get closer to Ayato-san. Since this person claimed to be his butler; he must know a lot of thing about Ayato Hanai that no one else would’ve known.
This is a good chance for me to know the guy a little better, you know?
“Mr. Shigeru, can I ask you something?”
“I’m going to ask you this one time, but I need you to be honest with me, alright?”
“Okay. I’ll see what I can do.”
"Please don't take me the wrong way. I just needed to know because he never answered me."
"What do you wanted to know?"
"Is Ayato-san, by any chance – a gay?”
Mr. Shigeru had suddenly fell silent. I know it’s a sensitive question, but I really need to know. It may sound selfish, but if I'm going down this road anyways - I need to know if there’s hope for me and Ayato-san. After a long silence, Mr. Shigeru finally look at me and smile.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t really know about that. But I can tell you one thing... If you wanted be with Young Master, then you’ll have my full-support. As long as your feelings are mutual, that is...”
“Well, I didn’t expect you to be very accepting about this. Aren't you supposed to be on his father side or something?” I said. He chuckles.
“I may be just an old bachelor, but I still believe in love. Sometimes, we just couldn't help who we fall in love with, is that right?” He added. I can’t disagree with him on that. It feels as if fate had brought Ayato-san and me together. And I remember it all started from Mr. Matsumoto class. Despite of that man scary reputation, I had him to thank for bringing Ayato-san and I together.
“Mr. Shigeru, I’m not very sure if I can take care of him like you want, but I 'll try to be his friend - at least for now.”
“Really? Thank you Mr. Asahi. I’ll be counting on you from now on then. Please take care of Young Master!” he says and give a little bow down. A couple of whispers can be heard circling around the café. I’m getting a little embarrassed.
“But, I also have one request.” I said. Mr. Shigeru face had suddenly turned serious.
“If it’s about money, then I’m afraid I can’t give you much. I only have several million of yen in my saving. If that’s not enough, I will probably had to take out some loan... Even then, if it’s still far from your asking price, then I will..”
“No, Mr. Shigeru. That’s not what I wanted. What I wanted is...” I leaned over towards Mr. Shigeru and whispered to one of his ear. My request is too embarrassing to be said out loud. After I’m done, Mr. Shigeru immediately nodded his head.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take your request very seriously, Mr. Asahi. Please rest assured. You can count on me too.” He said. I smile. Mr. Shigeru handed me a card with his number on it. He said to call him if I ever need his help with anything.
“Now, if you excuse me – I have to head home now. My mother will be back in an hour. I’ll call you if I need anything.” I said. Mr. Shigeru is bowing again. His action brings another round unpleasant murmurs around the café. After paying our bills, Mr. Shigeru and I quickly left the café. Before separating, he turned his head at me and says;
“Hang in there. Young Master might look like a difficult person get along with, but deep down he’s a gentle and warm person inside. Please don’t give up that easily. I’m rooting for you, Mr. Asahi.” He said. I nodded. As I walk towards my apartment building, I had gain a new confidence.
Ayato-san... please wait for me. I’m not going to let you be on your own anymore.
- End of Chapter 5 -