"Hey, Yasu." He said, opening Shota's door. "How're you?"
"Fine." He answered. Shota was sitting in the middle of his floor, a few articles of clothings around him, packing them into a bag in front of him.
"Going somewhere?" Maru took a seat behind Shota.
Shota didn't answer right away. He stuffed a few more cloths into his bag. "I was thinking of going home."
Shota's answer took Maru by surprise. "Home? I thought you said you'd never go back?"
He shrugged a little. "I haven't been home since I left. I sort of miss it. And, I need a break from being around here for a while."
"You're going to come back though, right?"
"Yeah. I mean, I work here, don't I? And it's not like I could live at home anymore anyway. You'll be fine wating more tables, right?"
"I'll be fine! But will you?"
"Of course I'll be fine."
"When're you leaving?"
"Tonight. It's a really long way home. And I have to switch buses a few times." Shota said, picking his bag up and leaving the room.
Maru wasn't sure that Shota was, or would be, fine. He wasn't acting right. His voice didn't hold much emotion, and was monotone, if anything. Maru could see he was tired and hadn't been sleeping well. He had always said he'd never go back home. He said he needed a break from here, and Maru was pretty sure he knew why. But that didn't make any sense either. Worse things had happened to Shota and he never, ever talked about going back. Maru thought, no matter what, Shota would be better of staying here, with them, but he didn't have a right to tell him not to go. If Shota thought it would make him feel better, then he should do what he needs to.
He didn't really understand where the idea came from. It had been so long since he ever even thought about going home. But he'd felt so pent up recently, inside of himself. He didn't know how to deal with the feelings he had. And coming home to his room every night was starting to feel suffocating to him. He needed to get away from everything, to go far away so nothing could possibly bother him. Nothing that had happened in the past months had anything to do with where he was going. Somewhere inside he felt scared about going back, but he pushed it away. He had no reason to be, not now. So one person from there recognized him. He doubted many people he used to know would even still be living there, or still care at all about him. He just wanted to get away from everything here. Just for a while. Until he felt better enough to return and smile like he meant it again.
The bus arrived and Shota got on, making his way to the back, sitting against the window , setting his bag to the side. Soon the bus was on it's way. A few times, he felt like getting off at the next stop and walking back to his house with the others. A few times, fear welled up inside of him, for different reasons, and had trouble getting back under control. He wondered what was wrong with him, that he was acting this way. That he was feeling that way, still. Was everything such a big deal? Maybe not. Maybe if he talked to others, telling them exactly what he was feeling, they would call him crazy. They would probably tell him to just get over everything. Nothing all that bad happened. So what, he was left by someone he loved. It happened every day to so many people. These were most of the reasons why Shota never brought up what he was feeling to the others. But who could measure one persons pain to another's? Pain is pain is pain, no matter how insignificant it felt to the other person.
Shota leaned his head against the cool glass of the window, watching the dark street pass under him. It was going to be a long night.
It had been early morning, hours before the sun came up, that Shota arrived in the city he had to switch buses at. That cities buses didn't run that early. He had spent the rest of the night at the bus station with a few others, waiting for the sun to rise so they could go out. Shota didn't know the city and didn't want to risk getting lost. Or anything worse to happen. He'd heard what kind of people live in cities, and not all of them were good. He needed to try to sleep anyhow.
Now, he stood outside in the sun, looking around him, trying to get his bearing. His stomach wouldn't stop acting up, and he had to eat something. He'd forgotten to pack any sort of food for the ride. He started down the street, trying to find a spot to eat that wouldn't cost him much.
"What about this one?" Sakuya asked, coming out of the dressing room. The girls started squealing, saying how pretty she looked. Subaru tried not to gag. Even his mother was acting like she was back in her twenties. He doesn't know how many dresses these women were going to try on. Or how many they already had. He didn't know why he was dragged along in the first place. He was sure it was just so that damn old woman could keep a watch on him, even though he hadn't even tried to leave since he'd come back. But he was the only guy in the whole store. After a few minutes, everyone else forgot he was even there. Between the hours he'd been stuck in there since the morning and the fact these girls squeals went up an octave each time someone came out, he felt like jumping out the window.
He'd been facing the window, hoping someone'd come in and hold the place up, either just to make things more interesting or to put an end to his misery. He wondered why so many people were out that morning. Don't they know what sleeping in was? Though he'd ended up being forced up at ungodly hours that morning. He'd been spacing, not really looking at anything. Just barely seeing the endless groups of people walking by. But even so, he saw someone pass the window that caught his eye, someone that forced him to do a double, then triple-take. He could have sworn he saw Shota pass the window. He could have sworn it, but didn't believe it. Why would Shota have come here? Subaru had never told any of them what town he came from. Because of that, he knew Shota wasn't there for him. But then, he couldn't think of any other reason Shota would be there. He took a quick glance at the women, who weren't paying the least bit of attention, and slipped out the door. They wouldn't notice.
Something wasn't right, Subaru thought, as he followed the path the supposed Shota went. Because if that was Shota, why was he here, and why was he here alone? Why was he so concentrated on staring at the ground? Why had he looked like he was half dead as he walked by? He didn't run to catch up with Shota. He stayed further back, waiting and watching what he might be doing. He watched Shota go into a small restaurant, and didn't come back out. Subaru leaned back against a light pole to wait. He felt a bit like a stalker, but he couldn't just leave this alone.
Subaru didn't know how long he'd been waiting there for, and just as he thought he might have been wrong and was deciding to turn around, he saw him walk back out of the restaurant, back toward the way he came. Now, Shota looked just a little better, after getting food inside him, and had his head up, taking in his surroundings as he walked. In the last second before passing, Shota took a tiny glance over his shoulder, his eyes only staying for half a second on Subaru. With that one look, Shota froze. He stared for a few minutes, not knowing what to do, before he took off in the other direction. Subaru couldn't believe he ran away from him! Not a word or anything, just ran! After a second, he chased after him. He knew this city better than Shota did, even though it wasn't that much more. A few times, Shota paused, wondering what way would be better to go, letting him catch up. Finally, after running down practically the whole city, Subaru had caught up enough to catch Shota's arm as it swung back. Shota stopped dead in his tracks and yanked his arm away, taking a few steps forward but not about to run again, because by then, he was too tired and out of breath to.
"Why would you keep running like that?!" Subaru asked, equally as out of breath and slightly pissed off. Shota wouldn't look at him, or even face him. "I can't..." Shota started. "I can't deal with this. I don't know how."
"What're you talking about?"
"Just...Just leave me alone." He clutched the straps of his bag, sounding forceful. "I can't..." He didn't finish , and turned quickly to pass him, going back the way he came.
Subaru felt his stomach drop. He felt like he'd seen this before. That night in the store that long ago. The way Shota talked, the way he held himself, how it looked like he was trying to protect himself. He couldn't believeShota would treat him the same as that guy. There was no comparison between them. He's treated him right, hadn't he? What could he have done to deserve that?
He wasn't through the numbers in his phone. He had to at least have one of their numbers. At the bottom was Yoko's number. It wasn't who he wanted to talk to but it was late enough to where they should all be home.
The phone kept ringing. He didn't know if Yoko would answer anymore, until he heard a click.
"Hello?" He heard, and it wasn't Yoko's voice, but Maru's. Good. Maru would be able to tell him what he wanted to know.
"He's in the middle of a really intense game right now. But this is weird. Why're you calling?"
"I saw Shota today. In my city."
There was a pause. "Oh? He must have had to switch buses here."
"Why? Where's he going?"
"Well, he's going back home."Maru sounded unsure about the fact. "I don't know why, but...He just doesn't seem well recently. I wanted him to stay here, but I couldn't tell him that."
"What's with him? What's the big deal?"
There was another pause. He could hear the noise from the TV get quieter until he couldn't hear it anymore, and a door shut.
"Maybe you think it's not a big deal. Well, normally, none of us would But it's more than just you leaving him. It's about reliving things he'd been through before. Of having good things taken from him all the time. It's been a long time since something like this happened. And he doesn't know how to deal with it anymore.
"But I didn't do anything so bad!"
"You don't know what it's like to be constantly built up and torn back down again and again. I've seen it happen a few times. And each time, it was harder and harder to build him back up, but so easy to make him sink lower. You can only take so much before you break."
He hadn't thought of things like that. Not like he could. He didn't exactly know how it felt to be hurt even once by someone he liked, let alone had strong feelings for. He never really understood why Shota got so hurt by those things. But if you've never experienced love, or hurt, how could he've understood?
"I don't get why he acts so afraid of people. Of people who've done something to him."
Maru hmmed a little before saying anything, like he didn't want to say anything. "It's always been more than just emotional things those people put him through. At school. He didn't say anything about things like that, but you could sort of tell when he'd first come here. And after someone hurt him. It just became a reaction for him. A barrier, I guess? So he'd be ready if someone would do anything physical. Even if he knew someone, like you, wouldn't do that, it'd still happen. The only reason I know is because it slipped out of him once.
"Right now," Maru went on. "I think, it'd be better just to leave him be. Because, especially if it's you, it's not going to help him. Besides, there's nothing you can do. You're getting married soon, right? There's nothing for you to do for him."
Maru soon hung up, leaving Subaru with his stomach in knots. That was a low blow, he thought. Saying there's nothing he can do. Because he's getting married. The more he thought about it, the more he knew Maru was right. Even if he did try to do anything for Shota, what good would it do? None. He almost wished he'd never called. It didn't help him at all, just made him feel worse for the decisions he's made.
His town hadn't changed much at all. There were new people on the streets, people he had no idea of. People wise,, it was like a new town. It made Shota feel just that much better.
The bus dropped them off a few blocks from his old home, where he hoped his parents still lived. He hadn't called his parents much since he left, and he didn't remember the number, or knew whether it had changed or not, so he took the chance coming all the way out there. When he'd passed the house, he was relieved to see the same, old nameplate that was there when he left.
Shota passed the gate and walked up to the door, knocking hard. He hadn't told them he'd be visiting, and didn't even know if they were home. There was a good chance the could be gone, either at work or shopping, or whatever they did these days. But in less than a few minutes, the door opened, and an older woman stood in the door, confused for a moment, shocked the next.
"Ah! Shota, it really is you!" Without hesitating, she pulled him into a big hug. "I thought I saw someone outside from upstairs, but I thought, it would never be you. But look how wrong I was!" She pulled away and took a few steps back, looking him up and down. "My, you've grown up, haven't you? "
"I guess so." He said, giving her a small smile.
"Well, come on in! Your fathers on a trip right now- curse his company's timing! How long will you be here for?"
"I don't know- I didn't really plan that far."
"Well, that's fine. You can stay as long as you like! We missed having you around!"
Shota tried to smile for her, but what she was saying was making him feel extremely guilty.
She lead him into the kitchen, where until he came, she was making a meal. Out of habit, she was making a meal enough for two every night. She served it up, sat down at the table, and started asking questions. He answered them, best he could, but left out things she didn't need to know. So he had left out most of the past few months. She didn't need to know, or she'd probably worry the rest of the time after he left.
"You've said it before- a long time ago, probably years ago- but living with six other men..." She looked a little uneasy about that- whether it was the fact they were all guys or the fact it was six others, Shota didn't know. "It must be nice for you, I guess."
He wasn't sure how he was supposed to take that, exactly. "Well, they're all in relationships, and with running the shop and everything, everyone's too busy to hang out or anything." It was half a lie, since the people they were 'in a relationship' with were in the house, so they actually spent most of their time at home. But she didn't need to know that either. It wasn't totally a lie, anyway.
"Speaking of which, what about you? Found anyone for yourself?"
"No, not really." He said. "No one stays long in that part of town."
"Don't worry. You have your whole life to go yet. You're still young."
After the meal was finished, he excused himself and went to the back of the house where his room should be, and it still was. Nothing had been changed in the room, but it was obvious his mother came in every once in a while and cleaned. He still had clothes in his closet that he left behind, ones he was sure wouldn't fit anymore. They could have been gotten rid of. He hung his bag off the back of a chair that was in there, and was about to start to unpack when his phone rang in his pocket.
"Hi, Yasu!" Maru, said, trying to sound excited. Shota could tell it was being forced. "Did you get home yet?"
"Yup, got here just fine. No troubles."
"Oh, great! I can let everyone else know! We've all been worried, you said it was really far, right?"
"Yeah, but it's all on bus, and I only have to get off to switch, so it's fine."
"So, when're you coming home? I know you just got there but! It's really a mess at the shop without you! You know, since you're not there to wait, Ryo has even more to do, since I have to be in the kitchen half the time! Poor Ryo, he's been messing up peoples orders like crazy, and dropping stuff! He's going to get overworked!"
Ryo's a really good waiter, they both knew that. Maru kept adding nervous laughs in between his sentences. Shota knew something was up with the story he was telling. And, he also knew that when they've been short a waiter, or two in this case, Hina usually takes some of the tables. But it didn't matter, Maru's story. "I don't know. I mean, I just got here and all...You should've seen how happy my mom as to see me. And I still haven't seen my dad yet. I haven't been home once in years. You've gone back home before. For holidays and stuff every year. But until now, I haven't gone back once."
"So how long are you staying for?"
Shota didn't know what to say. He really didn't know. There were places inside of him that were fighting, one wanting to go back to the others, where'd he'd been for so long, and another that wanted to stay right where he was, where he grew up and hadn't seen in so long. But after just being here one night, one side was stronger than the other. "I don't know. I don't think...Maybe I won't go back."
"What? But, but you work here, right? You can't just decide not to! I mean, you can't just do that!"
"Well, we're all mostly working there because we're living in Hina and Yoko's house, right? So we don't have to pay rent? If I'm not living there, I don't have to work there, right? Remember when we all talked about moving out one day?"
"That was a long time ago! Before we were all close like we are now! And you said you were going to come back because
you work here!"
"I think I should just stay here with my family."
There was a minute when Maru didn't say anything. "But, aren't we all family too? Haven't we all lived together for so long? In the time you were here, we probably helped you out more than your parents had. I've helped you more than anyone has. You're just going to leave us like that? After everything? You said yourself it's not like you can live there anymore. Even though you said you were coming back, you're just going to take it back?"
"I'm sorry, Maru. I just..."
"Fine, just do what you want to." Maru said, hanging up right after. Shota looked down at his phone, then set it aside. He was surprised at how little all of that affected him. He expected something. Anything. But he didn't feel anything. He took a night shirt and some pants out and changed before turning off the light and going into his bed. It's easier this way, he thought. It was time to leave there, anyway. They'd never really thought of all staying there permanently.They all had to leave sometime, he thought. But, even as he thought that, something started welling up in his chest. Something he was tired of feeling, but couldn't help.
"There are only one more week!" Sakuya exclaimed, totally excited. "Only one more week! Can you believe that?After all this time, it's finally almost here!"
"So? It was one week away before. Why's it anymore special now?"
She looked at him like he was stupid. "I was excited then too! But then you decided to run off for how long! But this time, it's for real! And I mean, real real. Because, now, we feel the same." She took the chance to wrap her arms around Subaru's shoulders. Because now, he wouldn't shove her off like she was some annoying bug, even though he still thought of her that way. "I couldn't be any happier!"
"Yeah." He answered flatly, half because he didn't really have any feelings toward this whole thing anymore, and half to piss her off because he thought it was funny.
"Come on! Get more excited! What, is it some man code to not get excited about weddings? Yeah well, I've seen plently of weddings and the guys even get exited, so there! You have no reason not to be!"
"They're not excited for the wedding. They just want the bachelor party."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Yeah, too bad you're not getting one. Don't think I don't know what goes on at those! I've seen the movies." She let go of him and turned, leaving the room.
Subaru liked getting her pissed off. It was fun. But not nearly as much fun as it was to do it to Shota, he thought. Because Sakuya usually tried to stand her ground and come up with things to go back and forth with until she thought she won and then would leave. If it were Shota, Subaru would always win. Because eventually Shota would just sit there and pout and look mad at him until Subaru admitted he wasn't being serious. Maybe others might think it was more fun if you had to go back and forth with whatever, but it wasn't, because it got annoying. Especially listening to that girls voice. But after he'd do that to Shota, he'd eventually get something from him, whether it was something like going out and getting food or something, or just Shota himself. Like he'd won something. It was a lot more fun if you won something. Especially if it were Shota.
But Subaru couldn't think about that. He shouldn't be. But since he'd seen Shota, it was hard for him not to anymore. He'd been doing a good job at not thinking about him until then. But after seeing him, and seeing him act the way he had, then the call with Maru, it's all that was on his mind. Subaru thought, after he'd decided he'd just forget about Shota, everything would go better. Well, not better. But smoother, maybe. And doing that was going fine. He hadn't been thinking of him much, not until then. And it had been just a small encounter. From the time he caught up with Shota to the time Shota left, it probably wasn't even five minutes. But those few minutes...
It was bothering him. He never wanted Shota to act like that toward him. He thought, the last time they met, they were at least okay with each other. There were things he didn't know, things he wouldn't know unless he could get it out of Shota himself. Even if Maru said to let him be. Even if it might be better to do that. It was bothering him just that much.
After thinking about it, mulling it over in his head hundreds of times, he decided. He decided, what other way was there to get rid of all of this, all of these thoughts and unanswered questions, to maybe fix something he shouldn't have broken in the first place? Something he should have taken better care of, because it had already had cracks and scratches in it, and even though it had been mended many times, it didn't take much to break it more. What else was there to do? He decided it wouldn't be for selfish reasons of getting rid of all the crap inside of him, but to get rid of it from Shota. Even if it was something he was just telling himself.
It couldn't be that far away, Subaru thought. Even if he didn't know exactly which way he went, someone would have to know. He doubted if he called Yoko again Maru would answer. He wouldn't tell him, but if Yoko knows, he might. If they even knew themselves.
He wouldn't have to bring anything. He wouldn't be gone that long, he thought. Hopefully it would just be a day thing. Even if it wasn't, he had money to get things he needed. It would just be annoying to have to carry things around with him the whole time. All he'd need was his phone and wallet.
"Where're you going?" Sakuya said, passing through the room, seeing him put his shoes on.
"Out." He said. She didn't need to know where- he didn't even know where.
"You'll be home in an hour, right? Because we have somewhere else to go."
"No? What do you mean no? We have to be somewhere really important in an hour!"
"Yeah well, I have somewhere more important to be."
"What's more important? Subaru, what're you thinking? You can't just go out and do what you want when there are other things that need to be done!"
He didn't listen to her. He stood up and walked toward the door, trying to ignore her.
"You can't leave again! Don't you get that? You can't just leave like this!"
He didn't say anything back, and walked out the door. He'd heard all of that already. From the first time. It seemed like everything he'd been doing lately was a waste of time and energy. Like going along with all this crap, having that girl believe he actually liked her and that he'd actually be happy with her. He'd been wasting his time trying to make the wrong person feel better, for selfish reasons, just to make things easier, which ended up just making things harder. He'd hear shit for it later, from more than one person. But he had more important things to worry about now.
A/n- Uh. This really wasn't how it was supposed to go. Not at all >.>; I had the ending planned out, but last minute I decided I didn't want that. So this part just ended up being whatever came into my head at the moment. I hope it makes sense ~. Next parts the end, I'm pretty sure. Once I re-figure it out~