Chapter 7: Side Profiles and Irises (7)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
The taxi stopped in front of Tatsuki’s apartment building, and like a timer that had run out, Tatsuki let go of Shin’s hand. But his touch and his warmth didn’t disappear with it.
They entered Tatsuki’s apartment, and there was a throw blanket balled up on the sofa. It was left over from the guests that had stayed earlier in the day. Shin wondered what the two comedians had talked about with Tatsuki. When Shin had spoken to them a little in the green room, they were incredibly happy.
“Thank ya for introducin’ us to such a nice guy. I was scared that a Tokyo TV announcer would be arrogant an’ rude, but Tatsuki-kun ain’t like that at all.”
“We promised to get drinks with Tatsuki-kun the next time he’s in Osaka.”
The two comedians were shy and withdrawn by nature, like a considerable number of other comedians in the industry. That they were able to relax and open themselves up to Tatsuki in just a few hours, it should have made Shin happy for introducing them. However, he just couldn’t bring himself to say, I’m really glad, to them. They were already on a first name basis, and they had even made plans to go out together. He really got along with all sorts of people, huh? But Shin wondered why it bothered him so much.
“What do you feel like drinking? I have beer, chuhai,1 and whiskey and soda.”
“No, thanks, I’m fine. I have a tapin’ for GoGo tomorrow.”
“Hnn. Here, you can have this. You’re thirsty, right?”
Tatsuki handed him a can of beer.
“Why ya givin’ me this?”
“Aww, come on~ It’s the lowest alcohol drink I have. Just have one with me, okay? Oh, I know! Wanna watch my GoGo DVDs?”
“Yeah, I wanna watch!”
“Oh~ You really bit at that~”
Tatsuki was back to the normal Tatsuki. Shin figured, Eh, why not, and cracked open the beer. Tatsuki gave him a bright smile, and Shin felt much better. Shin couldn’t settle down when he couldn’t read Tatsuki’s face or behavior, darkened as if the sun had hidden behind the clouds.
“By the way, isn’t your mom staying at your place? Do you need to go home?”
“She has a spare key. She can take care of herself.”
Shin had seen the DVDs numerous times already, but he split his sides laughing at all the same scenes as he drank his beer to quench his thirst. He emptied the can in the blink of an eye, and somehow a new one found its way in his hand. Shin did stop to think, Huh, but the beer tasted great as he watched his favorite show. He figured one more beer couldn’t hurt… And the process repeated itself over the night.
“…Nhh~ …The last train…”
“Why don’t you spend the night? Your face is all red. It’s probably better to not to try to head home.”
“Ya the one who made me drink~”
“Minagawa Snack & Bar~ Never an empty hand~ Not unless you tell me to stop~”
Tatsuki got up from the sofa to put in a new disc, and Shin took the opportunity to lie down. The alcohol gradually spread out horizontally.
“Hey, you stole the sofa…” Tatsuki complained, but he sat down on the floor without pushing Shin from his spot.
“It’s now 12:55! Time for Go Go Dash! Ya know, I’ve always wanted to start off the show like that, like we’re a live broadcast, but we’re tapin’ in the middle of the afternoon right now.”
“Ya didna hafta say that, ya know.”
“Anyway, I heard the silliest thing the other day. Apparently there was an Electronics Instructions Manual Review Competition, and they didn’t get very many participants.”
“Yeah, sounds pretty lame.”
“I wonder why? Was there a Happy Ending Massage Report Contest happenin’ at the same time?”
“Ooh, I’d participate in that.”
“Too bad that ya ain’t gettin’ the director’s okay for it.”
“But we’ll get better ratin’s.”
“Hmm, but maybe they’ll reckon the ratin’s are fake? Ladies and gentlemen, have y’all ever reckoned that before? Like, are the ratin’s even real? Ya know, we should put it to the test! We’re gonna air color bars for 5 minutes straight in just a little bit, and all y’all viewers can change the channel, turn the TV off, whatever ya want! That way our viewership will be zero durin’ that time, an’ we can actually check the numbers.”
“Ya totally insane.”
“In exchange, ya better promise to come back in exactly 5 minutes! If the ratin’s stay zero for the rest of the show, y’all gonna see a TV shoppin’ show next week. We’ll be sellin’ those telescopin’ prunin’ shears to y’all if ya don’t come back.”
“…This was the first GoGo episode I ever saw. It really takes me back. It musta been almost 10 years,” Shin said.
“I can’t believe they really put up color bars for the full 5 minutes. They were crazy.”
Although rules and regulations had been more lax back then, apparently it had caused quite the uproar within the network. Shin had learned the behind-the-scenes story after he was hired.
“Yeah, I kept wonderin’ about the show the followin’ week, so I watched it again. And I’ve been watchin’ it ever since.”
“The color bars decided your path in life.”
Shin had been in high school, and Sakae was a mere director on the show. Shin hadn’t been aware of the existence of someone called Souma Sakae yet. Sakae had worked extensively on the video footage as the director and editor during that period, and his touch was much more deeply embedded on the show then than it was now. That was why Shin could be watching the quietest little shot, and he loved it and never got tired of it. Especially sprawled out like now, buzzed on alcohol with nothing to worry about.
“This feels real nice,” Shin whispered absentmindedly. “This is prolly the first time I’ve ever felt so comfy drinkin’ at someone’s place.”
“Why? You don’t have friends?”
“Of course, I’ve got friends, but I dun drink in front of people who work in the industry.”
“What about friends from college?”
“My work hours are all over the place. I kept cancellin’ on them last minute, so eventually they stopped invitin’ me out. An’ I ain’t really talked to ’em since.”
“Don’t you get sick of it?”
“Of work? Not really. That’s just how things go after college.”
“Hnnn, seems lonely to me.”
That reminded him, Shin hadn’t gone back to his hometown ever since he found his job. He didn’t mean to cut loose all of his old connections, but his world started and ended inside of the television station. He did see people outside of the industry when he was out on location, and there were always people at the network, so he should have felt the furthest thing from isolation and loneliness. But hearing Tatsuki say he seemed lonely, he felt like he really did lead a lonely existence, and it suddenly put a damper on his inebriation. Loneliness was close enough to the feelings of unconditional inferiority.
“I get lonely easily, so I can’t stand it unless I have people constantly to hang around with,” Tatsuki said.
Shin thought meanly, As if the loneliness of someone who could declare that so easily meant anything at all.
“Why dun ya get married then?”
“That’s a sudden topic to bring up.”
“If ya get married, ya’ve got someone around 24/7. And if ya have children, it gets livelier. Ain’t it nice?”
“Say it in a nicer way then~”
“I ain’t got any interest. I dun have anybody anyway.”
“I don’t have anyone either.”
“Why ya always snarkin’ at me?”
“Huh? How is it snark?”
“If ya really wanted someone, you can catch ’em right away.”
“What is this? Pokemon?”
“Well, ain’t it true?”
Tatsuki faced his back towards Shin, curled into a ball, defenseless, as he drank his beer. Shin could see his shoulder blades through the thin material of his T-shirt.
“I haven’t felt like finding anyone these past two years.”
“That’s a long time.”
“Yeah, I had my heart broken, and before I realized it, it had already been two years.”
Shin fell silent in his surprise. What broke the silence was a laughter that he had grown very used to hearing.
“Is it really that surprising?”
That Tatsuki had pursued someone and was rejected—it didn’t fit with his image. Shin had imagined a woman sort of pushing her way towards marriage and Tatsuki accepting it with a smile and a Oh, why not, and they would be married for life. Because Tatsuki never seemed to refuse people. And in the event that things didn’t work out, wasn’t he the type to move on quickly to the next person?
Did Tatsuki like the girl so much that he couldn’t forget about her for two years? Shin fiercely wished to know what the girl was like and the kind of romance they had shared. And he fiercely wished not to know. This man had given his affection in every which direction, but he had eyes for one special person in particular.
On the other side of Tatsuki’s back, what kind of expression was he making? Shin watched as his fingertips reached for Tatsuki, feeling no sense of reality, like the fingers belong to somebody else.
“—But it’s not like I still have feelings for them.”
Tatsuki started speaking with only a few centimeters to go, and Shin immediately pulled his hand back.
“I got turned down, and we still talk without any hard feelings. Their boyfriend is really nice, and I like him a lot too.”
“Would you have married her if she didn’t turn you down?”
“No, I can’t see that happening.” Tatsuki laughed as he answered. “The person I had liked is a man after all.”
Uhh? Did he hear that correctly? Maybe he said a fan? Or a stan? Gran? Cezanne?2
Uh, no, that’s not possible.
“Sorry, I dun think I heard ya very well.”
“Huh? I said that I liked a man. He’s the first man that I ever liked~ It surprised me a lot, but well, you never know what life brings you~”
Tatsuki answered back completely unconcerned. Shin raised his eyebrows and sat back up.
“…Is that supposed to be a joke? Are ya waitin’ for a funny comment?”
“Huh? Why do you say that? I’m being serious. Is getting rejected by a man joke material? That’s pretty mean.”
“No, but… Ya said it so calmly, I can’t really believe it.”
“Hnn. It’s fine if you think I’m lying. It’s not like I have a certificate to prove it.”
What the hell? Why so ho-hum? This devil-may-care attitude?
Shin gave Tatsuki a smack on the back.
“Dun say it so flippant-like!”
“But I’m not the type of person who can say it all serious and grave~”
“Romance for guys like ya prolly ain’t any real importance to ya anyway, I bet.”
“Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s like haute couture for ya, right? That ya can go for guys too puts ya on the forefront, right? Just like those sponsored campaigns toutin’ accessibility an’ globalization, it’s just somethin’ ya sayin’ to appear progressive. An’ I dun like that at all.”
“I’m not sure you’re using all those terms correctly? But anyway! How can you say that!?”
Tatsuki whipped around to look at Shin.
“I was really serious about him! I was so serious that even when I found out that he had a boyfriend, I still went after him. I did everything to try to make him mine. But in the end, when I went to pursue him when his boyfriend was away, the boyfriend suddenly came back and gave me hell.”
What the hell? This turned into an awful story.
“That’s a scumbag thing to do…”
“What? You think so~? If pushing doesn’t work, then try pushing harder. That’s how the saying goes, right?”3
“That’s not how it goes. Now I feel bad for people who end up attractin’ guys like ya.”
For some reason he was spouting weird, mangled proverbs.
“Ya just called it play. Like it’s a toy for ya.”
“No, no, that’s not the play I meant… Why am I desperately trying to explain myself to you?”
“Ya dun sound desperate at all.”
Tatsuki took an unusual turn with his response, and his feelings sounded hurt. “Whether my feelings were real or not, that’s between me and the person in question to decide! It’s not any of your business, Nacchan.”
It wasn’t any of Shin’s business. Tatsuki was right. The simple truth pierced right through his heart. Shin remembered that he had spurned Tatsuki before when he told him, That’s none ya business, and so he couldn’t say anything back. Shin flinched back, and it put an end to his hounding.
“I guess if you were to ask me if I liked him enough to go to his home to wake him up, I’d say probably not.”
Shin’s left hand moved on its own to chuck an empty beer can at Tatsuki.
Shin’s windup motion was extremely loose, and he wasn’t using his dominant arm. Tatsuki had great reflexes too (hatefully so), and he easily dodged it. The beer can hit the TV, still playing the DVD, and fell to the floor.
“Oops, I accidentally hit the performer in the face…”
“Hey, that’s the TV screen! You were about to hit me in the face!”
“That’s ’cause ya said somethin’ weird!”
“Why’s it weird?” Tatsuki asked, staring straight back at Shin. “You’re so devoted to Souma-san. Is it because you like him?”
“What the hell ya sayin’? Ya gonna suspect me like the others who like spreadin’ gossip around?”
People liked to talk in this industry, and Shin knew that some people suspected that his relationship with Sakae was not strictly professional. Maybe they were too scared of Sakae, but no one ever said anything about it to Shin directly.
“And that’s why I’m asking you point-blank. Everyone else seems to separate Souma-san the person from his work, but Nacchan, you seem to be okay with all of him. It’s like you love GoGo and Souma-san as one single entity.”
That was probably true. To Shin, Souma Sakae and Go Go Dash were an existence much similar to the chicken or the egg. Because it was the show that Sakae made, Shin loved it. And because Sakae was uniquely Sakae, he could make the show.
“It’s fine. It’s not a big deal,” Tatsuki said.
Tatsuki folded his arms on top of Shin’s knees and rested his chin there to look up at him. He had done it so naturally that Shin wasn’t able to avoid his touch. Tatsuki was used to touching people without any ulterior motives, and the behavior had no cause for any apprehension towards his movements. Shin wondered if this was his genius at work or whether it was learned from experience.
“I think it’s cool to work hard and do your best because you like someone and want their recognition. Is it really something to get so nervous about? If you don’t have romantic feelings for him, just say so, and I’ll accept it.”
Due to the difference in their heights, Shin never really saw Tatsuki’s gaze looking up at him. This unfamiliar position made him feel uneasy. He could feel the hardness of Tatsuki’s elbows against his knees. And there was Tatsuki’s hair whorl that he had probably never seen before.
“Ya said ya’d accept it.”
“You’re a terrible liar, Nacchan.”
His wry smile made Tatsuki look older than he was. Tatsuki showed different sides of himself every time Shin saw him. Shin never showed any changes, which he thought without any resentment, probably made him boring. Tatsuki probably had countless numbers of people he could hang out with, go out to drink with, call to his home, so why would he bother with Shin?
“Oh, I know~ If you can look me in the eye while you say it, I’ll believe you.”
“What’s with that?”
“Didn’t I say it earlier? You’re the type of person who avoids looking at people in their eyes. I’ve thought so since I first met you. Even when you’re on the floor, giving out cues the whole time, your gaze just kinda bobbles around. You can’t do that if you have something important to tell us. No one can trust a floor manager like that, and I think it’s the same outside of work too.”
“Why do ya suddenly say somethin’ sensible at times?”
“Hey, I’m always sensible.”
“Where? I dun see it…”
He wouldn’t call it a phobia, but he had a bad habit for averting his gaze immediately when people looked at him. Tatsuki had noticed it right away. It was embarrassing, but Shin admired and appreciated that Tatsuki took the time to really observe people. People never really cared about others, if they weren’t family or friends.
Shin decided to try placing his hand on Tatsuki’s head, like he was petting a dog. He was bad at physical contact with people and seldomly ever did it. Tatsuki would allow him to do this, and that made him feel at ease. It was a strange feeling to be touching someone else’s hair.
“It’s ’cause I’m bad at lyin’.”
“When someone catches my eyes, I feel like they can read my thoughts an’ it scares me. My entire body freezes up.”
“Isn’t it easier if they can read your thoughts? Then you don’t have to spend the effort saying everything.”
Shin thought that it was a way of thinking that really suited Tatsuki.
“But ya have things you dun want others to know, right? Like embarrassin’ or bad thoughts.”
“Or dirty thoughts? Everyone thinks them, so we’re all the same.”
Shitara had said that he envied Tatsuki, but he wouldn’t want to be like him. Right now, Shin thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
“But I feel like they won’t find out if I dun say anythin’. Like it’s okay if I just watch ’em silently.”
“…Are you talking about Souma-san?”
Shin was in high school when he had some level of awareness that he was attracted to other men. The guy he had liked was a classmate he was friends with. Shin had the fortunate position to spend after-school hours, free periods, and study sessions with him, but he never thought about the two of them becoming anything more, not even in his dreams. If the guy rejected him, it would ruin their precious days together. But most importantly, he already had a girlfriend. The risk was just too large. More like it was all risk and no gain. Even if somehow an infectious disease had wiped out the entire population of women on the planet, Shin knew that there was no future where that friend would be anything more than a friend to him. There was nothing he could do about it, just how like he felt nothing when he saw nudes of girls.
On the other hand, it wasn’t like he had lived his life in pain, despairing over an unrequited love doomed for failure. He had enjoyed his days for what they were worth. He was young, and he hadn’t felt any of the loneliness that the future could hold for him. He was fairly content just watching wishfully from the sidelines. Life would probably be more painful if he were a girl and had his heart broken normally.
But one day out of the blue, his friend had said to him with a slight laughter in his voice, “Hey, every now and then, dun ya look at me a lot? It scares me sometimes.”
Shin couldn’t look away from the gaze that had caught him. Blood drained from his face, but for some reason, it surged like a rampage through his feet, and he almost wondered if his indoor school shoes would be ruined. Shin sat there not saying a thing, and his friend started apologizing.
“Sorry, I said somethin’ weird. Dun get mad.”
He had interpreted Shin’s petrification as anger. Maybe he had chosen to interpret it that way for Shin’s sake. A man gazing at another man and having special feelings for him—that was “somethin’ weird.” And his friend had thought that it was an insult to be suspected of such a thing and naturally it was something to get angry about.
Shin realized that even looking was something that someone like him wasn’t allowed to do.
But he had known that from the beginning. He had accepted it. He should have long given up all hope already. But that night, he hadn’t been able to fall asleep, the TV just happened to be left on, and he watched Go Go Dash for the very first time. He had spent the hour awestruck and laughing, and afterwards he realized that it was the only time he had spent not thinking about his friend. And he thought, I’m gonna watch this next week, and that tiny piece of hope was something incredibly precious to Shin. It was a guiding light, like the stars or a lighthouse. The feelings as he anxiously waited for the show to air, the feelings as he watched the show completely captivated, the feelings that continued, even though he was sad when the episode ended, he knew that another one would come again—they were little bits of energy that fueled him and let him forget all of his troubles and feelings of alienation. He believed that even now there were tons of people who watched GoGo feeling the same sort of feelings that he did. Even if it was only for a brief period of time and nothing in reality changed, this space of time when they flipped the channel to watch the show, it would never betray them.
“There’s one episode that’s my favorite… Have ya seen it before? The one with a young, solo comedian an’ a weird ol’ man who suddenly shows up an’ follows ’im around?”
“Nope, never seen it.”
“Well, they end up livin’ together. In a tiny apartment, eatin’ their meals together an’ goin’ to the public baths together. The ol’ man never says anythin’. The young guy is real irritated with ’im in the beginnin’, but eventually he comes to really care ’bout the ol’ man and treats ’im much nicer. The guy doesn’t know it, but there’s a special keyphrase for this setup, an’ if he says it, the ol’ man disappears.”
“What’s the keyphrase?”
“‘It’s like we’re really father an’ son.’”
“That’s so sad!”
“Yeah. The guy says it as he’s washin’ the ol’ man’s back, an’ the next mornin’, he’s gone. They tell the guy about it at the end, but yeah, it’s a bit of a sad setup.”
Some reason the segment had won an award for a short-form documentary, and later on Sakae had told him that he didn’t get why it had won.
“I cried when I first watched it. An’ then I thought, ‘This show is really kind at its heart.’ Yeah, there are episodes that can get real crass an’ vulgar, but it never veers into territory makin’ someone look like an idiot or a villain or bullyin’ ’em with pranks. I’m relieved more than I can laugh.”
The man who only repelled people never ever misjudged the fine line between funny and bad taste.
“An’ eventually I wasn’t satisfied by only watchin’ the show. I wanted to be part of the team that made everythin’ I saw.”
Maybe he just wanted to bury the bitter feelings that he couldn’t even call heartbreak, and the show happened to appear at the perfect time. But Shin fell in love with the show Go Go Dash itself. It wasn’t human, and there was nothing to expect from it, but he just wanted to get closer to the show. And so he decided that he wanted to work for the production company that showed up in the end credits. He had chosen his school for college based on the track record for finding employment in the TV industry. The acceptance rate for finding a job at the TV network itself was too tall a hurdle to clear and there was no guarantee he would be placed at the department or the show that he wanted, and so he had ruled that out from the beginning.
It was during his second or third round of interviews, if he remembered correctly.
The door to the conference room had opened, and a man came in to look around the room.
“Huh? Where’s Tsuda-san?”
“Isn’t he in Conference Room D?”
“Whoops, wrong floor. What are you doing?”
“Can’t you tell? It’s new graduate recruitment.”
The man was dressed casually, wearing jeans and a T-shirt. He was still young, but he spoke on familiar terms with the HR director. All the young recruits in their interview suits probably wondered who the heck this person was. Furthermore, the man said, “Hey, I want to join in,” and pulled over a chair from against the wall and sat down. That was when Shin saw the man’s name on the ID badge hanging from his neck, and Shin shot up out of his chair.
“Um, you’re Souma-san, correct? You work on Go Go Dash… I always see your name on the staff credits.”
Sakae didn’t look happy in the least; he gave an exceedingly annoyed-sounding “Yeah,” and Shin broke out into a cold sweat. But he wouldn’t be discouraged.
“I love GoGo tons an’ tons, an’ it’s the reason I’m here applyin’ for a job.”
The protocol for polite, standard Japanese went out the window as Shin made his appeal, and the HR director laughed wryly.
“We’ve been getting a lot of those applicants lately. Graduates who are fans of GoGo and want to work on the show… I’ll just say that the job is much tougher than it looks, so you may want to pull your head from the clouds.”
Crap. Was this the end? Like a railfan failing the job interview at a railway company…?
Ugh, I shouldna said anythin’.
He wondered if his mother would kill him if he told her that he failed and wanted to try again next year. Maybe Shin’s disappointment was blatantly apparent, but Sakae called out to him.
“Oi. What do you like about GoGo? Be brief about it.”
“That it’s kind.”
Shin gave his answer without hesitation. The entire room murmured, as if wondering, What kind of answer is that, but Shin was confident in his answer. He knew that someone who made the show would understand.
Sakae only uttered a questionable grunt, unimpressed and unamazed at the answer. Then he searched around in his jeans and pulled out a stick from a cigarette pack.
“Souma-kun, please refrain from smoking here.”
Sakae pointed the cigarette between his fingers right at Shin.
“You. You’re hired.”
Shin swore that time stopped for a moment.
“Oi, oi. Don’t make that decision for us.”
“Why not? It’s all good. I want this kid. I’ll make him my underling. More than half the recruits quit anyway, so why don’t you hire a little more upfront?”
“Oh, geez, and there you go again.”
Just as Sakae was leaving, he turned his head back to look at Shin and grinned.
“Don’t regret this.”
Shin didn’t know how much of an effect Sakae’s words had on his hire. The company representatives had insisted that it had no effect on the hiring process, but Shin liked to think that Sakae had hired him.
That was the first and last time that Sakae had smiled so freely at Shin. But Sakae was much more accessible then than he was now, and he had looked healthier too. Five years had passed in a blink of an eye, and he raised through the ranks as Series Director, Associate Producer, Executive Producer, and finally Showrunner—becoming more and more difficult to work with and refusing people to come near him. But he had let Shin work for him as his “underling” just like he had said, and Shin never regretted it.
Sakae probably wasn’t serious when he had said, I want this kid. When Shin went with a representative for their first face-to-face meeting, Sakae treated him like he had never met him before. But Shin was fine with that. Even if it was only a temporary whim, the director on the TV show that he loved and adored had said that he wanted him. Even if it was nothing but self-satisfaction, the happiness he had felt at that moment was essentially a realization of his dreams. That was why Shin told himself that he had nothing more he could ever want from Sakae and he could convince himself that he would be fine even if he never found love in his life. He had already tasted the fruits of love—he didn’t need anything else.
“I wouldna call it likin’ ’im. I owe Souma-san my life. He’s the master I look up to an’ admire. Like ya said, he’s essentially the same as GoGo to me… I wonder why. It’s like I can give ’im all the feelin’s I have, and it never feels like I have any less than before.”
“That’s love,” Tatsuki said.
“Quit it. Dun use such glitzy words for me. It makes my skin crawl.”
“What’s so glitzy about it?”
Tatsuki chuckled and rested his cheek on Shin’s lap. He ain’t gonna fall asleep here, right? Shin thought, but he also felt like it wouldn’t be so bad if he did.
“You’re really devoted, Nacchan.”
“Dun ya mean just stubborn?”
“When I like someone, I’ll say it right away. I mean, isn’t a waste of time just dancing around each other? The sooner you sort out your feelings, the sooner you can spend time together. And if it doesn’t work out, you can give up and move on. Maybe that’s why I get told that I have nothing below the surface.”
“What the hell’s that about?” Shin lightly tugged Tatsuki’s hair. “Who told ya that?”
“Pretty much everyone? Also that I seem shallow and flimsy as a person.”
It annoyed Shin to hear Tatsuki say those words so calmly, and so he had to refute them.
“They’re totally wrong. Maybe ya can be a little too playful, but ya have so much more below the surface. Dun listen to those stupid words! Anybody who says that about ya doesn’t really know ya. They only know the surface!”
Tatsuki raised his head. Shin felt strangely flustered and suddenly became all embarrassed. He didn’t even know Tatsuki all that well himself, so what was he getting so worked up for? Shin continued the conversation in his desperation.
“Besides, ya said that ya seriously liked the guy from two years ago, right?”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t say that I liked him so much that I can’t think of anyone else.”
“What did ya like about him?”
“He’s funny and interesting and really pretty strange.”
Shin encountered people like that on a daily basis, and he couldn’t really get a sense for the person.
“And how he had no interest in me. I enjoy the thrill of the chase.”
Just as he was thinking, I shouldna asked, Tatsuki continued to talk.
“He has a few sides that reminds me of you a little, Nacchan. You both make biting comments to what I say and quietly do whatever you need to do your job.”
He only uttered a string of short, boring filler words. Shin didn’t know how to respond to Tatsuki’s comments—more precisely, he didn’t know how to interpret them. He didn’t know what to call the emotion that was spreading through his chest. It was something ambiguous, kind of like pain but kind of ticklish, kind of happy but kind of frustrating.
“—Anyway…” Tatsuki rose to his feet and yawned as he stretched his arms over his head. “Nacchan, do you want to use the bath?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Okay, I’ll go take a shower then. You can do whatever.”
However, this was the first time Shin had ever stayed at someone else’s place, and he couldn’t think of what “whatever” was appropriate. So he stopped the DVD, rinsed out the empty cans, wiped up the little bit of beer that had gotten on the floor when he had thrown the can, and threw himself back down on the sofa. He wondered if he should catch a taxi back home, but it would be a waste of money. There was so much he had talked about today and heard, and it all still spun around in his head, preventing him from cooling down, but his body was just about ready to run out of battery.
Shin was half awake and half asleep when he heard Tatsuki call out, “Nacchan,” but he couldn’t answer back.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
- Chuhai – An alcoholic drink typically made with shochu, carbonated water, and a fruity flavor like lemon or grapefruit. You can get them sold as a can in Japan.
- The original Japanese listed words that rhyme with otoko (man) — itoko (cousin), hatoko (second cousin), maiko (apprentice geisha), and Sadako (from The Ring movies).
- Tatsuki mangles the saying If pushing doesn’t work, then try pulling away.
- The original proverb is Once it’s past the throat, one forgets the burn.
- The original proverb is After a storm comes a calm.