Part 16: House of Sweets ~un petit nid~ (16)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
At Rio’s request, they ate dinner at a local family restaurant, and it was 8 pm by the time Kase and Agi returned to the apartment. They set their things down at the entrance, and Agi turned to face him.
“Hiroaki, are you okay? You looked pretty drained since dinner.”
Kase kept his face down to avoid eye contact and removed his shoes. Kase had been silent the entire drive back, but Agi gave him kind words with no hint that he had been offended by his behavior.
“I guess the car ride must have taken a toll on you. You should rest up early tonight.”
Kase jumped back in surprise when Agi suddenly ran his fingers through Kase’s hair. He was so shocked, his back hit the front door with a loud bang. Agi widened his eyes, and Kase promptly hung his head down.
“…Did you remember the accident?”
Agi took a step towards Kase, and the tips of his feet entered Kase’s view. Kase wanted to retreat, but he was stuck at the door and couldn’t move. He didn’t want Agi to get any closer to him. It was suffocating, and it made him want to scream.
“Sorry about today. We didn’t know about your circumstances, and we weren’t thinking when we invited you out.”
No. That wasn’t it. Kase shook his head. But he didn’t know what agitated him so much. As Kase stood there silent with his head down, Agi ran his fingers through his hair again.
“If you don’t feel well, maybe you should go to sleep? A nice long bath could also help.”
Agi used a voice like he was soothing a small child, and in an instant, fierce emotions welled up inside of Kase. He wanted Agi to touch him more. So much more. He wanted Agi to stroke his head. He wanted Agi to run his fingers through his hair. He wanted Agi to hold him close. His emotions overflowed from him like hot water from an underground spring that welled up and didn’t stop.
Kase had called out his name, but no other words came out from his mouth.
Even though Agi asked him this question, the pressure suffocated his chest, and he couldn’t speak.
They stared into each other’s eyes, and only time moved forward between them. With impatience pressing at his back, Kase brought his face close and kissed Agi.
He wasn’t rejected as one second, two seconds, and more time passed.
When Kase pulled his lips away, Agi stared at him blankly.
“…What happened all of a sudden?”
Kase had just kissed him, but Agi seemed unaffected by it. The reaction made him aggravated.
“I don’t know,” Kase answered in irritation. He really didn’t know. When? Where? How? How did these feelings even develop? But now that he had them, it was all over.
“…I think that I’m in love with you.”
When Kase put it into words, Agi gave him a very complicated expression.
Kase knew without asking what that expression meant. He lost all strength in his body, and he felt like a long tunnel had appeared in front of him. He had to walk down this pitch-black tunnel all alone, and there was no option not to enter the tunnel. When it came to love, he could no longer decide a single thing himself.
Agi called his name kindly. He placed his large hand on Kase’s head as it hung down.
“The day at the beach probably drained you. Your head’s probably a little mixed up from remembering some bad memories. Do you want to talk about it?”
Agi stroked Kase’s head gently. That was all that was needed for his heart to melt helplessly like a candle with a low melting temperature. Kase felt pathetic that this was the thing that he had wanted. He was like a child who was happy to get a few coins as a reward.
“…It would be nice if you were a thing,” Kase muttered.
“It would be nice if you were something that could be found in a store. There would be the same items on the shelf, all with price stickers on them, and if I put you in my shopping cart and pay for you at the register, then you would be mine.”
Kase lifted his head and stared at Agi in a daze. He really wished that Agi could be an item at the store. Then even Kase could probably buy it. It was fine if it was expensive. Kase would save his money little by little, and he could hope to buy it one day.
It was ironic that Kase had never once felt a desire for physical items. The things that he wanted were always things that couldn’t be bought with money.
What Kase wanted were things like a smile that came with a Welcome home when he said I’m back or warm hands that would touch his cheeks and hair. Those simple gestures were so natural that they could be found everywhere around him, and yet for some reason, they never landed in Kase’s own hands.
Why was it? Why were his hands always the ones that were empty?
Like bothersome dust, his ungranted wishes floated down to the bottom of his heart. Kase had lived his life, trying not to look at it, trying not to touch it, but occasionally he would meet someone with a gentle hand, like his ex or Agi, who would churn up the wishes again, like sediment that had collected there at the bottom.
It was something that was unduly harsh. More often than not, he wasn’t granted the things that he wished for, and in the end, he took them by force. Naturally it earned him no affection. He was hopelessly stuck in an endless loop.
“Hiroaki, I just want you to know this,” Agi said. “It’s not that you’re the problem here. It’s the same for everyone.”
Kase tilted his head, not understanding what Agi meant.
“I’ve decided that I won’t pursue a romantic relationship with anyone.”
“…Why is that?”
“For various reasons. Especially when you get to this age.” Agi shrugged his shoulders with a wry smile.
Kase felt like the tense mood between them softened ever so slightly, and that was enough for him to seize onto the opening.
“I want to be at your side though. Is that a problem too?”
Agi frowned. “…Isn’t it painful to live with someone you’re in love with?”
“It’s not painful. Even if the reason isn’t that you love me, I don’t mind as long as I can be at your side. You can think of me like a dog or a cat.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Why not? I’m in love with you, but you don’t have to love me back.”
“I’m fine with anything, as long as I can be at your side.”
“Hiroaki, listen to me.”
“You don’t have to do anything special for me. What we’ve had up to until now is fine too. We’ll leave the apartment in the morning together, walk to the bakery, and at night we’ll come back and eat dinner together. Occasionally, I’d like you to stroke my head sometimes.”
And then… And then what? The inside of his head was spinning around and around, and he lost track of what he was trying to say. No words came to him anymore, and Kase just gazed at Agi. The very complicated expression was still on Agi’s face. Kase refused to look away despite it, and Agi gave a heavy sigh.
“…I’m warning you again, but it won’t become a romantic relationship, you know.”
Kase nodded at Agi’s reminder. In truth, he did want it to become a romantic relationship. It was only natural, because he was in love with Agi. But if he were to say his true feelings, he wouldn’t be able to live with Agi anymore. And so he would rather hide his feelings instead.
Agi frowned as he pondered over something.
“…There’s really no helping it, is there?” he grumbled, reaching his hand towards Kase. “Alright, I’ll be at your side.”
Agi stroked Kase’s hair, running his fingers through the strands, and quietly murmured, “There, there.” It was like Agi treated him like a child or an animal. However, Kase was happy to have Agi accept him even in this way. It was surprising how easily his emotions unraveled, and Kase leaned back heavily against the wall.
Agi gave a wry smile as he watched Kase go slack.
“Hmmph, you’re like a brat throwing a tantrum because you want a toy. So what do you want to do now? I’m exhausted, and I want to go to bed already. What about you? Do you want to talk? Or do you want to sleep?”
“I want to be together with you.”
“I know that already. If you want to spend time with me, then tell me what you want to do for now.”
“I’ll do whatever you do. If you’re awake, then I’ll be awake. If you’re exhausted and want to sleep, then I’ll sleep next to you. I’ll be at your side. That’s what I want to do.”
As Kase stared at Agi, Agi met his gaze with utter exasperation.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.