As children, Kuro, his brother Mizu, and their next door neighbor Phillip were best friends, always playing together. In their teenage years, when the brothers’ emotionally abusive father fell ill, their friendship fell apart. For a time Mizu dated Phillip, and conflicted and frustrated, Kuro sought comfort from random strangers and did drugs.
The three men are now adults and Mizu and Phillip have broken up, with little chance for reconciliation. Without anywhere else to go, Phillip and Kuro move into a dumpy apartment, and Kuro hopes the two of them will be happy together. Maybe they’ll even have an opportunity to kindle a romance.
But Mizu is extremely jealous of their closeness, and both men have their own issues they’re struggling with and trying to recover from. To make matters worse, Kuro is losing sleep, as he’s constantly waking up at three A.M. Will Phillip accept Kuro’s feelings, or will he go back to Mizu? Can Kuro reconcile with his brother and his past?
"Kuro? Kuro, wake up," Phillip said, shaking my shoulder.
I stirred awake, and found that I was laying on the blanket pile in the living room. I didn't even remember falling asleep.
"What time is it?"
"It's three A.M."
"Why the hell did you wake me up?"
"You were having a nightmare," Phillip said. "You were thrashing around and talking. Something about the leaves?"
It took a moment for it to come back to me. "Oh. I was dreaming about that time my dad yelled at you and Mizu for playing in the leaves."
"And he flipped his lid?"
"I literally peed my pants. That's why I ran home that day," Phillip said.
Then I realized I was soaked in sweat. My clothes stuck to me like Saran Wrap. I crawled towards an open box of my clothes and dug through it, searching for a spare pair of boxers. I found the obnoxious orange ones with the pink lollipops and pulled them on.
Phillip laughed. "What are those?"
"Uh, okay, Willy Wonka."
"Shut up. Go back to sleep," I mumbled, crawling back under the sheets.
Chuckling, he rolled over to face me. His fingers stretched out, pushing back my bangs and wiping the sweat from my brow. His hands, although calloused, were cool and soothing. Suddenly I felt as small and vulnerable as I had been in the dream. I closed my eyes and leaned into his touch.
"What is it?" I mumbled drowsily.
"I keep thinking about ... about what you told me yesterday," he said. "And I'm sorry. I shouldn't have freaked out on you. That wasn't cool of me."
"I just ... I just wish it ..." he trailed off, his eyes glossy. "Had I known what you were doing ... what you were looking for ... I don't know. I feel like I could've done something."
"What do you mean? How? You were with my brother."
"I could've told you that you were worthy of being loved."
My heart swelled. But then he corrected himself.
"M-maybe not by me, but you're definitely worthy of being loved."
"Gee, wow, thanks," I mumbled, rolling away from him.
"Kuro, don't be like that. We can't just ... you know."
"You've broken up with my brother. There's nothing standing in the way but your own feelings," I said hoarsely, smushing my face into the pillow. Maybe if I pressed my face down hard enough, I could push my tears back into my body.
"I've just never thought of you in that way," Phillip said. "I remember teaching you to tie your shoes and pushing you on the baby swing at the park. I've ... I've never seen you as ..."
Oh barf. I don't know what makes me feel worse: the part where he says he doesn't like me, or the part where he says that he's always seen me as a baby.
"I was with Mizu for so long. I'm just not ready yet," he sighed heavily. "I haven't found closure on that part of my life."
"Closure? You think that he's going to give you closure? He's just going to be aggressive and mean, as he always is."
"I wasn't saying that I'd seek closure from him directly; of course not. And also, he wasn't always like that."
"Look, I don't think he's ever been the person that you say he used to be," I snapped, "and even if he was, that person is gone. If you want to spend the rest of your life chasing ghosts, Phillip, go ahead. I'm not going to hold you back."
He scoffed, shaking his head. There was a pause. He rolled onto his side to face me.
"Did you let me move in because you thought I would fuck you?"
"What? Of course not. I just don't get why you're bringing this up only to shoot me down," my voice rose, but gave out. I swallowed a lump of tears, sniffling. "I wish you had just let me flush the fucking pills down the toilet yesterday and left it at that."
He didn't respond.