Chapter 28:

How My Patience Was Tested

Cursed Lines

Mom was surprised when I announced last weekend before the exams that someone other than Daisuke would come to study with me. His presence was too obvious, so she wanted to know as much as possible about the extra guest, but I tried to avoid answering her questions. I knew she would try to get information out of my friend anyway. She would sooner expect Maiko to just learn her stuff, and we learn ours, as was often the case in earlier years.

She probably counted on seeing who it was before she left because as she said, she wasn't going to spend the whole day with three teenagers studying. She said she would go to the hairdresser, then go shopping and go to the cinema. A total day of relaxation for herself. She also mentioned a couple of times that we hadn't gone for a walk together like in the old days, and she expected us to make up for it during the next holiday.

I could see that she was worried that our connection might weaken a bit, especially after she often made remarks about how I was almost an adult and wouldn't have time for my old mother at all someday. I would sigh heavily then and assure her that this would not happen, and she would still complain that I was an overprotective son. That day, she left us a mountain of cookies from a new recipe she wanted to try and suggested we order something later. Daisuke, as always, arrived sleepy with greetings and a supply of his mother's food. He smiled apologetically when he saw my mother's stern expression.

"Does my dear friend Riko think I can't provide enough food for three teenagers?" she asked, feigning a threatening tone.

"I'm just a messenger," Daisuke defended himself and fell to the floor. "Please do not kill me."

"I will consider sparing you if you eat all the cookies I baked…" she replied, and I just rolled my eyes. I didn't know how their friendship was still alive if they were still competing with each other. "And you'll give me some information."

Daisuke looked at me uncertainly, because he probably guessed what it was about, I asked him earlier to possibly tell her only what was necessary. I still worked up the courage to tell her about my relationship, even if I could be sure of it more than anything.

"Of course," replied my friend, nervously combing his hair.

"Who will accompany you today? Kiyoshi keeps it a big secret, and I know he planned everything so that I wouldn't find out who it was."

"He's just our classmate," Daisuke replied, but mom was staring at him, expecting a more detailed answer. "Konya Tatsuo."

"You could say it right away," she laughed and turned away. I thought we got away with it, but then she added in a serious tone. "Kiyoshi, I need to talk to you for a moment."

Daisuke gave up, pretended to say goodbye to me, and hid in my room. I swallowed and unsteadily made my way to the kitchen, dreading the rest of the conversation. Mom gestured to the chair across from her.

"I didn't make the connection at first, but I would like to know why the boy Alice warned us about is coming to you, can you explain it to me?"

"To be honest," I replied, nervously clenching my hands on the edge of the table. Maybe it was a good time to tell her the also rest. "We've been seeing each other for some time."

"Is that even possible?" she asked, surprised but not angry. "I didn't think so, considering your background."

"Eros can confirm it, although he doesn't know how either," I murmured, hoping that this would convince her a bit of the rightness of my words.

"Have you seen your father?!" She stood up abruptly, this news seemed to have impressed her more. "Yes, he and Death were trying to gently suggest to us that we shouldn't be together," I said, choosing my words carefully and involuntarily reaching to my neck, remembering how Konya's mother choked me.

"I'll talk to him," she said through gritted teeth and began to search for her phone. I wouldn't want to be in Eros' place right now. Mom could be scary even over the phone.

Then the bell rang, and I cursed myself, I asked Tatsuo to come back later since I didn't know how she would react to him. We looked at each other and raced to the door, mom won and opened it with a forced smile. Konya was stressed but tried to make a nice impression. My mother watched him carefully, paying particular attention to his eyes. Fortunately, he distracted her by giving her a bouquet of flowers, which surprised her very much, but she thanked him politely. Maybe he would make a nice impression because he greeted and bowed impeccably.

"Daisuke is here already, my room is the first door on the right," I said, urging Konya to just disappear from view for now. Well, mom didn't need to know right away that this wasn't his first visit to me, yet.

"He seems nice, but give me some time," she said, sniffing the bouquet. "I need to talk to your father anyway. And you are here to study, is that clear?"

I nodded and wished her a good day as she left, prepared the drinks, and went to my guests. I set the glasses, tea, and snacks on the table, under the watchful eye of the other two.

"Is it safe now?" Daisuke asked, not taking his eyes off the game, which of course he had already started in the meantime, and tried to persuade Konya to play another round with him.

"Yes," I muttered and waited for him to graciously turn off the device, he still didn't, so I pulled the plug out of the socket, eliciting a cry of indignation. "Exams are coming up, and you only have half a day to study because you're going to work today, so sit down to your books."

"He likes to boss himself about sometimes," Daisuke said in a fake whisper to Konya, sitting next to him. "Are you sure you want to go on with this?"

"And do you want to go home?"

"I can't leave you alone," he said nonchalantly, waving a piece of hazelnut biscuit in front of my face. "Who knows what you'll think of when I leave? I doubt you'd be busy with anything other than each other at the time."

I rolled up the notebook and hit him on the head, I had a lot of patience, but Daisuke could wear it out very quickly sometimes. Konya looked at me surprised, but I muttered something like that he deserved it, he smiled and decided not to interfere with the rhythm of friendship that we had developed over the years.

We got to work, and I had to realize again that Tatsuo was better than we were. He helped us in the following subjects, giving Daisuke the lead only in maths, because he was by far the best in that. I helped them as usual with English. In the meantime, we joked around a bit and reminisced about the old, short, common preschool history. Daisuke, however, decided to share all the humiliating things that had happened to me in the last twelve years as revenge. I thought I would kill him, but seeing how attentively Konya listened to them, I could forgive my friend. He then gently squeezed my hand and I instantly calmed down.

"How come you're so good at almost everything?" Daisuke asked after several hours of intense mental work.

"I've been lonely in recent years, so that was my only occupation." Konya shrugged.

He got up and stretched. For a moment, I couldn't take my eyes off him, which only made our friend snort. His sneering look made fun of what he thought was the obviousness of what was between me and Konya. I walked him to the door.

"Konya isn't too comfortable in my presence yet, isn't he?" Daisuke asked worriedly, reaching for the doorknob.

"He needs some more time," I replied, knowing that Konya still had a very tiring fight with Her genes behind it.

I said goodbye to him and went back to the room where Konya was looking through my books, I offered to bring some more snacks, most of which ended up in Daisuke's stomach earlier. I always wondered how he could eat so much and not gain any weight. I took a few more, choosing the spiciest, of course, to take into account the preferences of my most important guest.

By the time I got back inside, however, a certain uneasiness had come over me. Since we found out the truth about us, Konya and I haven't really had a chance to be alone, so now what? I nearly dropped all the snacks when I felt my hands shake. I pressed everything tighter to myself and one packet of chips popped open.

I had to give myself a few seconds and take a few deep breaths to calm myself down and not assume that Konya was going to do something I didn't want, but we still had a bit of work to do. And of course, he had to do it. When I closed the door, he was waiting for me, pinning me against it and almost resting his hand just above my head.

"Don't you think that since we're alone, we deserve a break?" he asked, trying to make his tone seductive.

I didn't know if I was blushing because I couldn't help but laugh, or if his flirting was effective enough. In his opinion, probably, the latter is certain.

"No," I replied and shoved one chip into his mouth. "Maybe later." I smiled apologetically.

I wanted to put my studies behind me and then possibly think about the pleasures. I wondered if maybe I should tell him that he might do it again sometime.