Part 19: House of Sweets ~un petit nid~ (19)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Since Kase started sleeping in Agi’s bed at night, little by little he started talking more. They spoke about incidental things in bed until they drifted off to sleep.
Agi told Kase about an incident with a poodle that happened the other day. One of their customers was a middle-aged lady who looked like a poodle, and when Agi was out on a delivery, he actually saw the lady out walking a poodle, and he almost got into an accident because he couldn’t stop laughing.
Kase had never had a pet before, but in elementary school, he had to take care of a rabbit for class. He told Agi that the rabbit would always tremble for no reason whenever Kase picked it up and it had irritated him. Everyone had said that it was very cute, but Kase didn’t think so, and he had thought that it meant that he wasn’t kind.
“It doesn’t mean that at all. Look at how the cat is completely attached to you.”
Agi poked at the sleeping cat in Kase’s arms, and the cat woke up. But then the cat immediately fell asleep again. Kase thought that it was cute, and when he said it aloud, Agi smiled at him.
When Agi smiled at him, Kase felt safe. That was why he wasn’t thinking when he talked about something that was better kept to himself—the things that had happened with his ex. That he had used sheer force to bind the person to him, had raped them. That he had feared that the person would leave him so he became violent. Had beat and kicked the person. Had hurt the person over and over again even though he loved them.
Kase wondered why he was even telling this to Agi, and he became scared that Agi would hate him. He suddenly turned silent. Agi said nothing and held Kase close. It was strange how just this gesture could make his anxiety fade away.
On another day, Agi told Kase about the children’s home where he was raised. Once every few months, ordinary people would come to visit the home for a tour. With just a single knock, they would come into the kids’ rooms and scrutinize the place. Although the facility was funded through taxes, Agi would never forget one particular memory that he had experienced in junior high.
“Do they really need rooms as nice as this? They live better than my child at home.”
The staff member escorting the visitors that day had been offended and responded back to the comment.
“This isn’t a youth detention center, and the children aren’t here because they’ve done something wrong. They have the right to a normal life too.”
It had pissed Agi off, and he threw a magazine at the damn old hag. Next to him, Mutou had yelled, I’ll fucking kill you. This was what it had meant to have no parents. Living on taxpayers’ money had meant taking this humiliation. Agi laughed even as he told Kase that the experience had carved itself into his heart, into his flesh and bones as a child.
Kase couldn’t talk the way that Agi did about the past. He told Agi how his uncle’s family had taken him in. That when the uncle got drunk, he would press lit cigarettes into Kase’s skin. That his cousins had sneered at him for being a freeloader. After a while, Kase felt sick talking about it, and when Kase fell silent, Agi held him in his arms.
In this way, it was like Kase gave Agi his heart a little at a time.
It scared Kase that maybe Agi would tell him that he didn’t want this anymore, but he couldn’t stop giving himself over to Agi. In response to the parts of himself that Kase surrendered, Agi would hum to show that he was listening. He would stroke Kase’s hair and hold Kase to his chest. He didn’t try to solve the problems for him.
But nevertheless, that he had someone who would nod to his words, it gave his heart so much more peace than the one-way street that was watching TV. The pain was still there, but it was different from before when he had left it alone without any medicine.
Kase was a living, breathing man, and sometimes he wanted to join his body with another. However, if joining their bodies meant that he had to leave Agi, then he never wanted to do it as long as he lived. If he would lose Agi because of it, then Kase didn’t care if he didn’t have sex for the rest of his life. He was happy as long as they held hands when they slept.
There were times when Kase would wake up in the middle of the night. Agi was next to him breathing in his sleep, and the cat was in his arms. A shapeless warmth seeped into his heart now rife with holes that he had given away to Agi. It filled him for a moment, but it was fleeting—it wouldn’t take hold inside his heart.
Agi had been so incredibly kind to him. He would probably raise his eyebrows at him if Kase told him that he felt anxious.
But no matter what he did, Kase would probably never feel satisfied. It was what had happened in the past. He would want more and more and more—it would repeat itself so much that it would open up little holes in his chest. The holes were small, but they were endlessly deep, and sometimes Kase felt like they would swallow him whole.
During the one Sunday a month that they had off, Kase slept in. It was because the night before, he had stayed up late talking to Agi. When Kase woke up, Agi wasn’t there. He rushed out of the bedroom with the cat in his arms, and from the hallway, he could smell the scent of miso soup in the air.
“Are you awake?” Agi called from the kitchen.
“Food’s almost ready.”
Agi reached into the refrigerator to pull something out, and Kase rushed over and plastered himself all over Agi’s back. Agi let out a yelp at the weight that was suddenly placed on his body and sank to the floor on his knees.
“Hey, don’t suddenly come and act spoiled.”
“You were the one who said I could be as spoiled as I like.”
“I did say that. But if you’re coming at me from behind, at least warn me first and say something like ‘Spoil me.’”
“What good is it after the fact, you bastard?”
Agi stood up again and carried Kase on his back. He had shuffled Kase into a piggyback ride position, and Kase had to ask Agi to put him down, but Agi carried him over to the bathroom sink anyway.
“Wash your face and brush your teeth. Don’t cut corners, and do it properly.”
Agi put Kase down and went back to the kitchen.
Kase washed his face like he was told and squeezed some toothpaste onto his toothbrush. He wanted to quickly go back to the kitchen. No, he wanted to quickly go back to Agi. However, he was told not to cut corners, so Kase had no choice but to take his time and brush his teeth properly. Lately, he felt like he was a pet cat being trained to do things. He wasn’t unhappy about it. If he was a pet, then he could be with Agi openly.
“What are your plans for today?” Kase asked, eating the classic Japanese breakfast that Agi prepared, and Agi responded with one word, “Sleep.”
“You slept last week on our day off.”
“It’s what I do on my days off. I love being lazy and lounging around more than anything, but ever since I opened the bakery, my sources of pleasure have pretty much disappeared. The mornings are hella early, and the nights are damn late. So let me lie around the apartment on my precious days off. But if you have somewhere you want to go, then don’t let me stop you.”
“I want to lie around here with you.”
If Agi was going to lie around the apartment, then that was what Kase wanted to do. The cat liked lounging around too, so it was perfect. Everyone could spend this day off lying around together. Kase ate his breakfast, happy about their plans, when Agi’s cell phone rang. Apparently it was from Chise.
“Oh, there’s something wrong with an order? At the Second Gymnasium of the Athletics Center? Got it. I’ll be right there.”
Agi ended the call and rushed to get ready to go out. Apparently they had gotten the order wrong for a lunch delivery organized for the local mom’s volleyball tournament. Kase had taken the order a week ago over the phone. The bread was baked last night, and Chise had gone to deliver the order first thing in the morning.
“Chise said that the organizers weren’t mad, but I’ll go and apologize to them anyway.”
“I’ll go too. I was the one who heard the order wrong.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s a bunch of moms playing volleyball. You can’t turn on the charm for them, can you?”
It was true. Agi rushed out of the apartment, and Kase was left there alone.
Kase lost interest in the half-eaten breakfast and left the apartment with his cell phone and wallet.
The City Athletics Center was three train stops away. It was more crowded than he had expected, which made him feel a little lost, but then he spotted Agi’s tall figure in the lobby at the entrance of the Second Gymnasium. Chise was also there next to him.
They were with the regular customers of the dining area, chatting cheerfully. Kase was relieved that they didn’t look angry. Since Agi and Chise were here, Kase promptly hid behind a pillar. He felt embarrassed, like he was a dog who couldn’t wait and chased after its owner.
“I’m really sorry about the mix-up. You were kind enough to order from us too.”
“Don’t worry about it. The veggie sandwiches turned into ham sandwiches, but they’re not that different.”
“That’s right. Besides, we get to see Agi-san in his normal clothes, and that’s a great get for us~”
“Oh, listen to you.” An unfamiliar lady clapped her hand on the shoulder of one of the customers. “You shouldn’t say that in front of his wife. Right?”
“Oh, this person isn’t my husband.” Chise laughed and waved her hand in front of her face.
“What? Really? But you two look so great together. I really thought that you were married.”
Kase secretly watched from behind the pillar as the group walked past him laughing. Agi and Chise were walking next to each other, and they sure did look like a great couple together. Kase had thought so too when he first started at the bakery. They were also mistaken at the beach, and with Rio between them, they only looked like a married couple.
“Hey, is that court okay?”
A woman’s voice rang out from behind him, and Kase returned to his senses. There were throngs of people in sportswear walking in front of him. The venue was filled with a thrum of energy particular to sports, and Kase felt like he was the only one here who stuck out like a sore thumb, and he left the gymnasium.
Kase didn’t feel like going home and picked a random movie to watch that he didn’t care about. It was a double feature, and by the time he left the theater, it was late in the afternoon. He decided to go home. Agi would be waiting for dinner. However, his feet wouldn’t head to the train station. He ate dinner at a fast food place and sat on a bench in front of the station to watch in a daze the people passing by. When he got home, it was past 7 pm.
“Where were you?”
Agi rushed out from the living room when Kase opened the door.
“Then you should’ve answered your phone. I was worried that you were in an accident or something.”
Kase knew that. His cell phone had vibrated plenty of times in his pocket when he was wandering around. Every time he saw Agi’s name on the screen, it made him happy to know that right now Agi was thinking of him.
“You must be hungry. I’ve made curry for dinner. Want me to warm it up for you?”
“I already ate.”
Agi made an indescribable expression on his face when Kase said that. He scratched his head and said, “…Well, okay then,” and went back to the living room. Kase went into the kitchen to feed the cat, and after he took a bath, he laid out the bedding in his own room for the first time in a while and slept with the cat. He didn’t tell Agi good night.
“Oi, are you asleep?”
Agi had knocked on his door, but Kase pretended to be asleep and didn’t answer.
“…What the hell. You in your rebellious phase?”
Kase heard the quiet complaint from behind the door, and the sound of footsteps faded in the distance.
He held the cat in the darkened room and closed his eyes, even though he couldn’t sleep. Inside the dark field of vision, he saw the image of Agi and Chise from earlier in the day. The two of them looked great together. But the fact that they looked great together had nothing to do with his own relationship with Agi. It didn’t matter.
The center of his chest shook back and forth. He had surrendered pieces of his heart to Agi, little by little every single night, and now it was riddled with holes. If he were to leave it alone like this, he felt like it would collapse. And if that were to happen, he was sure that he would get Agi involved in a horrible disaster. Kase needed to regain his balance before that happened.
He opened his eyes and stared in a daze at the ceiling.
Why couldn’t he regulate himself to a setting that was just right? Not too little and not too much. Normally, he was a stubborn clam with his shell closed up tight, but once he relaxed his guard, he would open up like a giant maw. Endlessly trying to draw the other person in. However, his stomach was never satisfied, and he would depend on the person more and more and more. That dependence would then change into possessiveness.
—At least warn me first and say something like ‘Spoil me.’
Kase remembered Agi who had buckled to the floor because Kase had plastered himself on top of him. If he let himself be any more spoiled than this, then their current life might become like that too.
Not that it might. It probably would.
He had failed at everything up until now. It was hard to think that this time things would go well.
Maybe he would destroy the person he loved again.
His field of vision turned only towards the negative, and Kase fell into an illusion where he could see through all the misfortune that the future held.
Feeling helpless like an idiot, Kase buried his nose into the soft fluffy fur of the cat.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.