Sequel to My Shame.
by Tk DuVeraun
Choutarou felt tears prick at the corners of his eyes. One hand reached up to the hollow of his neck to finger the cross that no longer rested there. His mind screamed that this letter couldn't be real, that he was dreaming, but the absence of the cold weight of the necklace burned and shocked him as much as a pinch to the arm. "Oh, Shishido-san... Oh, Ryoh-"(1) His breath caught on the tears that suddenly burned his face. The words spoke volumes of the the reality of the situation.
"Real...? I've never been real, Ryoh, not since I became your doubles partner." He tilted his head back and shut his eyes against the tears, as if asking the heavens for an answer that would never come. He held the letter close to his chest, subconsciously making sure that it remained unlined and creased. He swallowed down the lump that was in his throat as his mind swirled with the contents of of the letter as memories brought to the surface by it's contents.
"Father, why is that Choutarou can have his boyfriend over for dinner when I never could? This just isn't fair." His sister pouted and scowled both at the same time. "It shouldn't be alright just because they're both boys; Chou-tan doesn't like girls anyways." Choutarou blushed furiously and tried to shut his sister's mouth before Ryoh arrived.
"Nee-san(2), stop that! He's not my boyfriend, he doesn't even-" Choutarou protested.
"Excuses, Excuses. Just because he doesn't know that he's your boyfriend yet doesn't mean that he's not. I see how he looks at you, pretending that nothing dirty's going on in his mind."
"Oh come now, be nice to your brother. At this rate, he'll have a husband before you and how embarrassing will that be?"
"Father! Don't say things like that! Nothing's going on between me and Shishido-san. We're just friends. Besides he already-" Choutarou was again unable to complete his sentence.
"Oh nonsense. He blushes everytime your eyes meet, if that's not-" His sister cut in again, unwilling to give up.
"Even if you are just friends, that's more than your sister has." When Choutarou's father spoke again, he didn't know whether to be more offended, embarrassed or angry. This was ridiculous. Ryoh was going to be here at any moment and with his family on this tangent...
His head whipped around at the sound of the parlor door opening. A maid stood in the doorway, "Shishido-san has arrived, shall I bring him in?" Choutarou blushed before leaving through the open door, not sparing his father and sister a glance, hoping that maybe if he was out of the room for a little they would cool down and not say anything too bad while they were eating.
Maybe Ryoh should have heard the other half of that dinner conversation, the one that went on underneath what he heard, maybe then none of this mess would have happened. Choutarou let out a sigh of defeat and no little amount of heartbreak. He opened his eyes and laid the letter on his desk with infinite care. He sat on his bed and leaned back, looking at the ceiling, most of his tears now dried. Now wasn't the time to wallow in selfpity. Ryoh and he had obviously both made several mistakes in their judgment of the other. Neither had enough trust in the other to confess and both suffered for lack of words.
Choutarou leaned up a little and pulled his cell phone out of his back pocket. FLipping it open, he quickly skimmed through the names and related numbers and finally clicked on Ryoh's; he was going to call him right now and straighten all of this up, once and for all. He almost growled in frustration when a recorded message told him that so-and-so's number had been changed due to a change in services. He deleted the entry and was about to close his phone when he saw another number where Ryoh's had once been. "Shishido-onii(3)"
Ryoh blushed and looked away, holding out a small folded piece of paper to Choutarou. "Here's my brother's cell number... You know, just in case you're ever in trouble, just give him a call, I'm sure he'll help you." Choutarou took the paper, doubtful that he would ever need it. If he was ever stranded or missed a train, he could just call his driver, or his father, or a taxi or something. He'd never really need the number...
He had never realized it before, but now... Giving him that number had been a sign that Ryoh would always protect him and try to help, even if he didn't need it. He hit the button to dial Ryoh's brother's number and leaned back once again to listen to the phone ring.
"Hello...?" A voice similar to Shishido's came through the line, the same rich darkness that Choutarou had always associated with his partner leaking into him again.
"Hi, this is Ohtori Choutarou(4) and I was wondering if you could give me Ryoh-sempai's(5) new phone number." There was a long pause on the other line and Choutarou wondered if the older Shishido had even heard him.
"Well... I don't think he wants to talk right now... He hasn't left his room except to go to school for the past couple of days. Did anything happen between you two? I thought he said that he was going to help you practice tennis or some other nonsense."
"We were, but... Things happened and now I just really need to talk to him. Tell him the truth."
"Noo!! Why doesn't he just tell Akira that he loves him! Everything would end better if he did!" Shishido's voice rang out through the changing room as he finished the lasted volume of some manga series that he was reading. He was rereading the last few pages as if searching for a better ending when Gakuto-sempai came and took the book from him, hitting him on the head with it.
"It would all end better if you stopped reading this trash and submitting the rest of us to your stupidity."
Choutarou hopped over a crack in the sidewalk as he neared Ryoh's house. The talk with his brother had digressed into him being told that Ryoh was turning into a big pile of nothing without him and that he needed really badly to be shown the error in his thinking. That had lead to Choutarou being persuaded into actually coming in person to the Shishido house and telling him in person about his feelings. For some reason, despite the fact that they both had feelings for each other, Choutarou couldn't help but feel that this was all going to end in disaster.
Outside he was smiling and calm, but inside, he was full of turmoil and mental wars with himself. Just when he had decided to turn back and just go home, sparing himself and Ryoh the pain, he was in front of the small house, ringing the doorbell without even meaning to. An all too familiar voice could be heard through the door, "Why can't you get it?! You're closer, I was all of the way upstairs, you lazy bum." Ryoh's rich voice was reduced to grumbling as he fumbled with the latch on the door.
Choutarou swallowed hard when the door open. He was shocked speechless by the sight of Ryou before him. He could hardly believe his eyes, it was as if they had been separated for years rather than hardly a week and a half. He felt his eyes tearing again at the raw pain in Ryoh's face.
Almost fearfully, Choutarou reached up and laid two fingers on the cross pendant that had once been his around Ryoh's neck. Finally, he was able to whisper out softly, "If this is your shame, then this is my truth." Ryoh looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He was immobile as if made of stone and his stillness almost made Choutarou hesitate a second longer and give up, but no.
Before his brain could convince him otherwise, he slid his hand up from the necklace to Ryoh's cheek leaning down slowly, he whispered, "Don't ever doubt," just as their lips touched for the first time.
(1) I figured that if Tarou-chan was secretly in love with him, he'd call him by his given name in his mind.
(2) Older sister, I sed that because I don't know what her name is.
(3) Shishido's older brother, again, didn't know his name.
(4) INtroducing himself last name first as for culture.
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