“You’re lucky I love you,” Kouta teased. “Otherwise, what you’re doing would be very creepy.”
After a night of peaceful sleep, he’d opened his eyes to see Ryuu peering down at him. The edges of Ryuu’s mouth were curled up into a mysterious smile.
“Good Morning,” Ryuu said, giving Kouta a quick kiss.
“Do you forgive me?” Kouta asked.
They had stayed up late, arguing about some recent trouble with the tabloids. Well, Ryuu had considered it trouble; Kouta hadn’t. Ryuu continued to be more private, especially since he believed their relationship wasn’t widely accepted. Kouta, on the other hand, had stopped caring as much about those circumstances and sometimes liked to push boundaries. Two days ago, he’d kissed Ryuu while they were in public. They’d been returning from a movie and Ryuu had made a joke that had caused Kouta to laugh. Enamored by the charming expression on his lover’s face, Kouta hadn’t thought twice about pressing his mouth to Ryuu’s. Pictures of the moment had appeared in the entertainment news the following day.
Surprisingly to Ryuu, the press hadn’t been particularly negative. It was due to the fact that they’d been together for several years and were considered a serious couple. Yet, when Ryuu had seen the news, he’d still been angry. That night, when Kouta had arrived home from filming a variety show, Ryuu had vigorously vented his feelings about the results of the public kiss. His unfiltered opinion and Kouta’s dry, sarcastic response to it fueled an argument. The disagreement had been intense—the make up sex afterwards even more so.
“Ryuu,” Kouta murmured.
“Yes love,” Ryuu responded, brushing Kouta’s dark hair off his forehead.
“My body hurts.”
“That makes sense.” Ryuu chuckled.
“Yeah,” Kouta agreed, laughing. He moved closer to Ryuu, putting one arm possessively across his lover’s chest.
“How do you feel overall?” Ryuu asked, running one hand down his muscular back.
“I’m a little bit tired,” Kouta said, his voice guttural. “But I’m happy you’re no longer angry with me. And I’ll say it again; I’m sorry about what I did.”
“I know. It only happened because you like to occasionally stir up things.”
“True,” he admitted, grinning at Ryuu. “Hey…can you answer something for me?”
“Is there shame driving your feelings?” Kouta asked, now staring at Ryuu intently. “You know, about how we act in public…” His rich, dark brown eyes demanded a suitable answer. Ryuu had seen that expression so many times.
“No love,” Ryuu assured him. “I just want to live in peace, as much as possible.”
“Alright,” Kouta said, seemingly satisfied with that. “Let’s get ready for our day.”
He rolled out of bed and led Ryuu to the bathroom.
While they showered, they discussed their more immediate plans. Kouta’s main priority was going to Hiro’s place where they’d work on the lyrics for their next album.
“I have a TV show interview,” Ryuu told him.
“Are you going to talk about The Sentinel?” Kouta asked, as he drizzled shampoo in Ryuu’s hair.
“I’m sure I’ll get questions about that, among other things.” He sighed in contentment as Kouta massaged the shampoo into his hair. “The premiere isn’t too far away.”
After Kouta had washed the lather out of his hair, Ryuu looked at him, speculation in his eyes.
“What is it?” Kouta asked.
Ryuu shook his head.
“Nothing,” he said quietly.
“Are you sure?”
Kouta searched his eyes for a bit longer, trying to determine if something was going on but Ryuu’s expression became guarded.
“Don’t do that,” Kouta told him.
“Hide from me.” He poked Ryuu in his ribs, emphasizing his displeasure. “You know I don’t like it. If something is on your mind, you need to tell me.”
“Let’s just get ready to go,” Ryuu said, as he turned off the shower. “I’m doing the interview. Then, I’ll probably drop by the office for a few hours to get some matters in order.”
“Okay, I’ll see you later,” Kouta said. He pulled Ryuu close and gave him a teasing kiss.
“Last night was great, except the fighting,” Ryuu whispered against his mouth, when their kiss ended.
“Maybe we can have a repeat of it, without the argument,” Kouta rumbled in Ryuu’s ear.
“I’d like that very much,” Ryuu assured him. He smacked Kouta playfully on his rear. “But why wait until later?”
“Why Mr. Kobayashi, what do you have in mind?” Kouta asked, with teasing coyness.
“Well, we’re still naked…” Ryuu began, as he pressed Kouta against the bathroom door and dropped to his knees. “I think you can figure out the rest.”
Kouta settled himself next to Ryuu, preparing to watch the interview Ryuu had done the previous week. Ryoko Tonight, a popular light entertainment show, was hosted by Ryoko Ishihara, who interviewed a variety of guests. She had known Ryuu for almost five years. One of Ryuu’s earliest accounts was with her company and his stuido had completed the animated intro for her program.
Kouta watched the interplay between Ryuu and Ryoko, enjoying how charming Ryuu was being.
“How are you doing, my second husband?” Ryoko teased, her dark brown eyes shining with mischief.
“I’m somehow still alive,” Ryuu answered, laughing. “Isn’t that your first husband a short distance from us? Think he’d mind if we had some time alone?”
Masaro Ishihara, the show’s producer, shook his fist at his wife and Ryuu. Ryoko and Ryuu laughed, as they settled in to have a serious interview.
After playing some clips from the animation Ryuu had done and discussing his career with Ryoko, there was a question and answer session with the audience. Ryuu handled all types of questions: What is the most difficult part of being in the animation industry? Which films/directors influenced you the most? Will you continue to do music videos for bands also? Are you already working on another movie? Will The Sentinel be even better than Oasis?
As much as Ryuu had tried to keep Kouta out of the interview, one curious person did bring him front and center: “Will you be taking a date to the premiere of the The Sentinel?” An interesting hush went over the audience.
“Oh, this one could get me in trouble,” Ryuu said, laughing. Then he began to tease the audience. “Akira Takahashi wants to go with me. So do a few other people. Any suggestions?”
“I can recommend someone,” Ryoko teased, with a teasing glint in her eyes.
“Your husband already said no to me,” Ryuu joked. Then he became serious. “No matter what I say, I’m sure the tabloids will find a way to spin it.”
“Tabloids will write whatever they want, regardless of the circumstances,” Ryoko said, chuckling. “But I’ll have mercy and we’ll change the subject. Let’s show the trailer to your new movie.”
Ryuu let out an audible sigh of relief, which caused the audience to laugh.
When the credits for the show rolled, Kouta thought about how Ryuu had handled the question of a date to the premiere. Ryuu’s response had unsettled him. Kouta wondered if he expected too much but part of him had honestly wished Ryuu had said his name.
Even as Kouta opened the door to his home, he was considering Ryuu’s love/hate stance regarding the attention their relationship was getting. However, something else quickly occupied Kouta’s mind.
“Kou, forget something?” Ryuu asked. He’d been waiting for his lover to return and met him at the door. He held up Kouta’s helmet.
“I didn’t ride my bike for that long,” Kouta said, his tone becoming defensive. He’d seen the look of displeasure in Ryuu’s eyes. “I only took it out about half an hour ago.”
“This still should have been on your head.” Ryuu shook the helmet for emphasis.
“Look, it’s not a big deal. It was a quick grocery store run. I wasn’t in any danger.”
Ryuu stood staring at him defiantly, his mouth tightening.
“You really don’t get it do you?”
“Fine,” Kouta grumbled. He dropped the groceries, snatched the helmet out of Ryuu’s hand and put it on his head.
“There. Now I’m invincible. I’ll wear it every place I go, especially to bed. You know how you like it rough sometimes.”
“This isn’t a joke!” Ryuu shouted. “You promised me Kouta. You told me you’d never ride without it. I searched for one of the highest quality so I could protect you. You think I want you in the hospital again? You think I want to spend more nights wondering if you’re going to live?”
Even almost two years after Kouta’s accident, Ryuu’s fears from that time could quickly surface. Ryuu was going to say more but his voice broke. He sighed, shook his head and walked away from Kouta.
They stayed away from each other for a little while. Then when Ryuu was aimlessly flipping through television channels, Kouta made an attempt to mend things.
“Our pets want you to forgive me,” Kouta said. He put Nami on Ryuu’s lap. She pawed at Ryuu’s shirt and he gently stroked her under her chin. Aki, who had followed her owner, wanted attention too.
“It’s not fair to use them like this,” Ryuu told him.
“I had to try something,” Kouta admitted. “Look, I’m sorry I made you worry. I’ll wear my helmet, whenever I ride my bike and I won’t ignore it again. Sometimes I just don’t think but I do know better.” Kouta gave Ryuu a kiss but Ryuu didn’t respond to it. “Mmmm. I just love the taste of resentment. I’ve apologized Ryuu. Maybe you should ask yourself why you’re hanging on to your anger.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I had my accident because of how you were treating me at the time. When I crashed, I was thinking about how shitty our relationship was. That still eats at you and sometimes, you overcompensate by micromanaging. Now, I’m not saying I was right to go out without my helmet but we really didn’t need to fight about it.”
Ryuu blew out a long breath, knowing Kouta was right but not wanting to hear it.
“Plus, lately your controlling streak, which can be really entertaining under the right circumstances, is wider than usual,” Kouta continued, “You might want to rein it in a little. I think it’s prompted by the movie being released soon. Just don’t take it too far…Let’s go for a ride, on my bike, of course.”
“Kou, really? Of all the things to suggest right now…”
“Come on,” Kouta coaxed, pulling Ryuu up off the couch.
“And make sure you wear your gear,” Kouta scolded. “I’d like to say it’s only about safety first but you look hot in leather.” He grinned at Ryuu, the salacious expression making it difficult for his lover to stay annoyed with him.
They went for a long ride on Kouta’s bike, heading towards Tokyo Bay. Going there had become a habit of theirs after their second anniversary. Even when their schedules were especially hectic, they still tried their best to make time to go riding. At first, Ryuu had been reluctant to do that at all. He’d been so plagued by Kouta’s accident. However, eventually he’d been convinced to begin enjoying the pastime with Kouta.
When they arrived at the bay, they watched the many sights off in the distance, the Ferris wheel at Odaiba Amusement Park standing out. The views had become familiar and comforting for both of them. After they returned home, Ryuu was in a much better mood.
“Thanks,” Ryuu told Kouta. “I really needed something like that.”
“I know,” he responded, smiling. “Now let’s get some food in you.”
They cooked dinner together and then ate in the backyard, enjoying the early summer evening.
“Hey, where did you go?” Kouta asked, as Ryuu stared off into space for a few moments.
“You really blanked out on me there,” Kouta said, laughing. “I was telling you about my day.”
“I’m sorry,” Ryuu told him grinning. “My mind is occupied.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” He ran his fingers through his hair and let out a shaky breath.
“Tell me,” Kouta prompted.
“Remember a while back, you felt we weren’t moving at the same pace?”
“Are things better now?” Ryuu asked earnestly. “Are you happy with me?”
Kouta put down his utensils and looked thoughtfully at him.
“What brought on those questions?”
“You didn’t answer.”
“Yes. I’m much happier with you now,” Kouta assured him
“So, will you go to the premiere with me? I’d really like you by side.”