Hearts in Armor
Part II - Voices in My Head

A darkened apartment in Shinjuku, small and cozy. The bedroom was in the back; the futon had been put away properly but the bookcase and desk in the room were in a state of organized disarray. The computer was on and fractals radiated across the screen idly. Through the doorway into the hall, where one could find the bathroom on the left. A small bathroom, cluttered with drying clothing hanging from the shower curtain rod, but generally neat.

Continuing down, the hallway opened up into the main room, divided into kitchen and living room. The kitchen trash was nearly overflowing with instant ramen packages and coke cans. Dirty dishes squatted in the sink, but not so many as to overflow.

The living room had a nice couch and coffee table, a small entertainment center with a nice TV and stereo system. The coffee table had myriad scientific journals scattered across its surface, some with coca-cola rings on their covers.

To the left of the couch as you looked at it was a large torchiere lamp and the window. To the right was a small end table with a cordless phone/caller ID/answering machine/clock/radio on it.

Everything was dark except for the little red light flashing.

Everything was silent...until the jittery scrape of keys in the lock could be heard.

The apartment's resident stumbled in blearily, dropped his keys into his coat pocket and closed the door immediately behind him in relief. The torchiere was flipped into life.

He sighed, flipped his shoes off, dropped his coat onto a nearby hook and tripped his way over to the couch, flopping into it with a happy sigh.

Blue eyes closed, and he took a brief moment to breathe and enjoy the calm silence of his apartment. Then his head lolled over towards the insistently blinking answering machine. A considerably less happy sigh escaped him as he pressed Play.

*BEEP!* Hi you never called me back. I got the pictures back from New Year's. I don't know why you wear that earring; if your father was here I don't know what he'd say. I was talking to Mrs. Sukuhama yesterday, you know Daisuke Sukuhama who was in your grade? He got promoted again at his law firm. He's making 175,000 a year now. Are you on drugs? Why don't you ever call me back? When are you gonna get married son? Isn't it about time you settled down and got yourself a wife and got yourself a house and got a kid, and got a car, and got a dog, and got a lawnmower, and got a nice picket fence....*BEEP!*

"Oh Lord..." Touma couldn't contain the moan. "MOTHERRRRR...." Although I suppose she has a point. About the career thing anyway. And settling down, although I really think a "wife" is out of the picture. He paused. I ought to tell her...Really....she should know.

The thought cheered him/scared him at the same time. He was sick of making up stories about dates with girls for his family, but the thought of letting them know he was in love with another man made him intensely queasy.

Another man who didn't even care the first thing about him.

God...Father'd say I was a fool... It didn't really make it worse, merely resurrected the pain he'd been able to numb by working himself into near unconsciousness each day. But they should at least know about my preferences. And that a wedding is probably out of the question. Especially seeing as how the only person I want to marry doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with me.

His spirits were considerably lifted by the sudden thought of Seiji in a wedding dress though. That had him on the couch, laughing until tears of hilarity squeezed out. And if a few of those tears weren't quite so happy, were instead raised by the reminder that he'd never see Seiji again, in a dress or anything else...well...at least the hilarious tears had the majority.

Good thing I paused the machine. He reached a mirth-weak hand to the machine and pushed the Play button again.

*BEEP!* Hey, Touma, how's the apartment thing working out?? You managing all on your own?? Nasuti wants to know if you've got a preference of cookies for the care package she wants to send you. And if you need to sell your stereo, call me first, huh?

SHU!!! I'm sure Touma's doing fine!!

[In the background, barely audible] Ask Seiji about that.

RYO!!!!!!! I'm sorry about this Touma, you know how Ryo and Shu can be sometimes, but we did just want to see how you were doing by yourself. We miss having you around...

Shin does because without you around, he's the house whipping boy!

I AM NOT!! [A brief scuffle ensued, ended only by the...]*BEEP!*

Touma smiled warmly at the machine as if they could see it. He missed them too, but getting out on his own was just something he'd felt he needed to do. He couldn't stay. And it was nice to have the privacy here.

But it was also rather lonely.

I suppose that's the real initiation into adulthood - coping with loneliness. That brought him back to Seiji and to his mother. He supposed Seiji would tell him to tell her, and he knew Shin would. Living a lie was tiring, and was much more of a battle than he hoped owning up to the truth would be.

He sighed pathetically as he realized he was now living two lies. One: letting Mother and Father go on believing I'm straight. And the other: trying to make myself believe that I don't miss Seiji. Trying to make myself believe that I don't need him, that I don't wish he was here with me now.

He reached for the phone and paused, his hand on the receiver. But damnit, I can't go on like that. I can't. I can't love a...a STATUE. He so rarely shows me any sort of love or affection outside of making love. He never seems to really CARE. He spends most of his day by himself, away from me as though he were avoiding me and then just expects me to be there every night for his pleasure. I am not a sex toy and I refuse to be used as one.

He picked up the phone, not knowing who he would wind up calling. He realized after the first few button punches who it was. Sometimes, your body and mind just KNEW what was most important.

"Hello, Pizza City, will this be for carryout or delivery?"


[Note: Mrs. Hashiba's message is a somewhat altered quote from Denis Leary's "Voices in My Head" - thus the name of this chapter]


Part Three - A Certain Slant of Light:.
.:Wisdom's Sacrifice Fiction:.