Akihito went back to Kou’s. He felt as if he were outside himself. Something had happened between him and Asami but he didn’t know what. The change was disconcerting. He tried to shake it off by taking a shower but the feeling grew more intense. He gave into the cascading hot water, letting himself re-live holding tight to Asami. He became aroused again and had to take a cold shower to calm down. He stepped out, toweled off, and wondered what he was going to do. It was late in the afternoon. He briefly thought about using Asami’s ten-thousand yen bill but rejected the idea.
He dressed and, not knowing what else to do, went out again. He walked the streets without a destination in mind. With every step all he could think of was Asami. His body was sore and yet he still wanted him even though they’d made love less than two hours earlier. The need seemed to be increasing and he didn’t know what to do about that. He wanted to be close to him like they’d been in the car when they’d sat with their foreheads together in silence. He couldn’t remember feeling that way about anyone before now.
“I used to want to bury my face in his neckline so my mind would go blank,” he murmured out loud. Now the feeling was different. The desire for blankness had changed into something else.
The streets were full of people as usual and he tried to focus on what was going on around him. He made his way to the train station. It was rush hour and the station was packed. He waited, not in any hurry. He stood on the crowded platform watching people cram onto the trains. People moved back and forth, all around him. They seemed to give him a wide berth and yet no one really saw him either. His stomach growled again and he had a headache from his low blood sugar.
Akihito felt alone at times, especially when he was standing in a crowd. He watched the people, their faces, and pulled out the digital camera Asami had given him. He carried that camera with him everywhere. It was a basic point-and-shoot but he liked having it in case he needed to take a shot. He wanted take a picture the conveyed that feeling of being alone in a crowd and of being with everyone at the same time. Separate and together, he thought. He watched the people, getting into picture taking mode. He moved slowly around the platform looking at the trains, watching the changes in lighting as he walked back and forth, and still people seemed gave him a wide berth. He moved around a pillar, watching the way the light changed as he circled. Akihito switched on the camera. The next train arrived in a rush of wind, blowing his hair. A schoolgirl about nine or ten years old glanced towards him, her sleek black hair blowing around her. Her large dark eyes had an expression of melancholy. Akihito lifted the camera. The train slowed down and wisps of her black hair were wafting around her face. At that moment she looked directly at him and Akihito took the shot. Because of the movement of the train and people, she was the only person in focus. The rest of the picture was slightly blurred. She looked away from him and pushed her way onto the train.
Akihito checked the picture and nodded, satisfied. He turned the camera over in his hand and sighed. He had to admit the real reason he carried the camera everywhere was because Asami had given it to him. Somehow having it with him all the time made him feel less alone.
He took a couple more shots before putting the camera away. He knew security didn’t like people taking pictures inside the station. He slipped the camera back into his pocket and pushed his way onto the next train. He knew where he was going and didn’t try to fight it.
When he exited the station, the neon lights of West Shinjuku were just turning on even though it was still light out. The crowds, traffic, and noise beat down on him. It was a warm, clear evening. He felt small and light, almost as if he were a leaf being tossed along a fast moving stream. He walked purposefully, drawing closer to his destination. All too soon, he could see the polished steel and glass doors of Club Sion up the street. He hesitated. He’d seen Asami only a couple hours earlier yet he wanted to see him again. He forced himself not to think about it. He knew it was best to be like that small leaf, letting the stream take him where it will.
He was hardly dressed to enter such a place and wondered if they would even let him in. He briefly considered trying to get in through the back but knew the club’s security system would prevent that. He stopped directly across the street from the club.
A limo was pulling away from the front of club followed by another. The door was opened by a doorman and a beautiful young woman, expensively dressed, stepped out followed by a solidly built man in an expensive suit. The man glanced to the side and Akihito could see his well-defined, handsome features. Akihito sighed. He knew there was nothing for it. He would have to enter by the front door. He thought about calling Asami’s cell phone but was embarrassed about his decision to see him so soon and decided to enter the club unannounced.
The limo drove off and it seemed another one wasn’t pulling up right away. Akihito squared his shoulders and stepped onto the busy crosswalk. With each step, he felt a rush of nervousness though later he would know his feelings had been unnecessary.
The polished doors of Club Sion grew closer until Akihito was standing at the bottom steps. The two doormen standing guard glared at him, one with close cropped black hair, the other with a carefully pulled back ponytail of dark hair. Both were impeccably dressed. Akihito stared back.
“Hey kid, you don’t belong here. Leave,” said the man with close cropped hair. Akihito said nothing, he waited. The man advanced on him, stepping easily down the stairs. He stood in front of Akihito, towering over him. “Kid, I said you need to leave –”
“Wait,” said the other man. His phone was ringing and he answered it quickly. “Yes, sir. Yes. I understand. No, we apologize for the confusion.” Akihito still said nothing. He wasn’t looking at the man who took the call. He kept his eyes on the man directly in front of him.
“Come on,” said the man with a jerk of his head, pocketing the cell phone. The other man gaped at Akihito while he walked up the stairs and through the front door. The club was dimly lit, the air thick with smoke, and people were chattering all around him. He followed the doorman without looking around though he knew people stared at him as he passed. Akihito was no longer impressed by the club’s lush wooden interior or the caliber of patrons who sat around him.
He felt no sense of arrogance or even a thrill from having gained entrance to such an exclusive club without having to say or do anything. He knew there was a heavy price for such privileges.
As they wound their way through the main floor, Akihito wondered if Asami was even there. I should have called first, he thought, fresh doubt forming in his mind. Asami…images of their lovemaking floated in his mind. He took a deep breath to steady his heart which was starting to beat faster. The ever present yearning bloomed in his chest again but he ignored it. He looked up to see Kirishima waiting for him near a door. The doorman left after bowing briefly to Kirishima.