This was different.
The nerves that should have been jittering had already been worn out from Itoh's uncomfortably close assumptions and he was on something of a high, somewhere between smug at having won their little contest of who-can-break-down-who and completely drained of any satisfaction whatsoever. This confidence was riding almost purely on the fact that no matter how foolish he felt, Itoh clearly felt worse about it, and was overcompensating with alcohol.
“I said a drink, not five,” Susumu was amused.
“You're still drinking.” A weak comeback.
“I can hold my liquor.” Itoh, on the other hand, could not, and though he was trying to hide it, his face was already a charming shade of pink. “You don't drink often, do you?”
“I drink enough.” A lie, and Susumu knew Itoh well enough by now to tell even without any homunculus-related tricks.
“Hmm.” Susumu smiled and leaned forward on the table, admittedly rather buzzed.
“I don't like to waste my time on booze and women when I could be furthering my research.” A partial admission, all Susumu was going to get. “Unlike some people.” He punctuated that remark with a rather contradictory shooting down of the rest of his glass, some terribly girly fruity drink that the waitress had recommended. (Itoh seemed to like it quite a bit.)
That broke Susumu out of his grin. “I don't do that anymore.”
Itoh waved his glass. “Oh yeah? Then what do you call this?”
Susumu stopped in mid-thought. Technically speaking, Itoh wasn't a woman, but Susumu didn't quite consider him a man either. Go out with me, Susumu'd said, but really, this wasn't like the dates he'd had before, planned occasions with the standard structure of expensive dinner, expensive present, cheap sex. (Even though he'd given Itoh a present and they were having dinner, the voice in the back of Susumu's mind reminded him.)
This was different.
“I'm not wasting my money,” Susumu replied, the statement somehow not coming out as clear in words as he'd meant them in his head. He should probably have stopped drinking, but he was about to the stage where he would stop caring about how much he should drink.
“You're an idiot,” Itoh mumbled as he poured himself another glass, clearly concentrating too hard on not spilling anything.
The evening passed faster than most alcohol-tinged nights did for Susumu, and it soon became clear that Itoh was not going to be taking himself home, despite his protests to the contrary. His feminine side really shone when he complained, and he complained a lot. He complained about the heels which he had to take off before he could walk, he complained about how Susumu had forced him to drink too much (lies) and he complained about how his panties were riding up.
“You're drunk,” Susumu stated the obvious. Itoh pouted, but couldn't deny it. Susumu wasn't in any state to drive, so he pulled Itoh down to the lobby of the hotel with the intention of calling a taxi for him.
“What are you doing?” Itoh demanded when Susumu pulled his cellphone out.
“I'm calling you a taxi. You're not getting on your scooter like that.” He began dialing.
“Oh really. So it's like that then.”
Susumu paused. “What do you mean by that?”
“Doing it halfway.”
Having the Number 1775's words thrown back at him again, even if Itoh couldn't know about their conversation, caused Nakoshi to snap his phone shut. “Doing what halfway?”
“Did you ask me out, or didn't you? Geez!” Itoh was a rather sad picture of indignity, red-faced and high-heels dangling from one hand, awkward-looking in his bare feet. It was kind of cute, really.
Itoh blinked. Despite being well-versed in the language of the Standard Date, he was rather taken aback, and his mind blanked. “What?”
“You booked a hotel room, didn't you?”
“Yeah, but –”
“Then let's go!” There was a whining note to his voice – god damn booze made him act like a teenage girl. Itoh used the hand not holding his shoes to grab Susumu by the wrist and begin dragging him towards the elevator. Susumu was shocked enough to comply.
It wasn't until Susumu was standing outside the hotel room door that it began to sink in. “I thought you said you didn't want to... have sex with a man.”
Itoh paused facing the door, away from Susumu. “I don't.”
Susumu's brow furrowed. “Then why...?”
Itoh turned around. “Give me the key.”
Susumu's mind was just fuzzy enough between the booze and his confusion to comply. He fished into his blazer pocket and handed Itoh the room key. Itoh fumbled a bit with it before opening the door and walking in. He held the door open for Susumu, clearly expecting him to enter as well.
“Well, Mr. Nakoshi?”
“I thought you didn't want to have sex with a man,” Susumu repeated.
“I said already, I don't,” Itoh replied, his gaze shifting around, not quite meeting Susumu's. “Do you...do you think I'm beautiful?”
“...Yeah.” The reply fell out of Susumu's mouth before he could think to stop it.
“You're just saying that. You think I'm ridiculous.”
“No, I really mean –” Susumu's reply was cut off by Itoh's clumsy step forward and wet lips on his, unfamiliar and smelling of alcohol. The facial hair that had been invisible even when talking face-to-face Susumu could feel rubbing slightly against his chin, more ticklish than uncomfortable. Itoh's kiss was the kind of thing that Susumu might have rated on a scale in the past, definitely a three out of ten, not unpleasant, but lacking any sort of finesse and rendered sloppy by the booze. But somehow the numbers escaped him in that moment as he returned the kiss out of habit.
Itoh drew back after a few moments, still close enough that Susumu could feel his breath. “Ah...I ain't gay,” Susumu said, slipping into his accent in his shock.
“Then why take me to dinner?” Alcohol lent confidence to Itoh's murmur, something more like his usual sober self. “Why spend everything on tonight?”
“Uh...” Susumu closed his eyes shut for a moment, willing the room to be a bit clearer when he opened them. Itoh stared back at him with that unnerving intent gaze, made no less intimidating for his wig and makeup. “Ah... I wanna....”
“Yes?” The prompt only served to freeze Susumu's mind even further. He didn't want to explain it, and couldn't even if he wanted to. How fixing people made him feel whole, or something close to it, more than he'd ever been, anyway, no matter what it cost him. How Itoh was more like him than anyone else. Uncomfortably so.
“I just... wanted to, okay?” Susumu concentrated on enunciating his words. It pulled his mind off of how Itoh's palm was pressed against the back of his neck.
“Then do you want to do this, too?” Itoh's shoes dropped to the floor and Susumu felt a hand run from his neck down his chest to his stomach.
He swallowed. He would regret this in the morning, most likely. Inevitable lack of sexual satisfaction aside, when Susumu thought of fucking Itoh he felt that rare, sinking knot of crisis of conscience somewhere between his throat and his stomach. Itoh didn't need to be fucked by him.
Susumu pulled away from Itoh's hands without replying, rubbing one eye with the heel of his hand. “I'm tired, and you should be too. Go to bed.”
Itoh's hands hovered in the air for a moment in the space that Susumu had vacated before dropping to his sides. “I see. Fine then.”
Susumu gritted his teeth at Itoh's expression. “Look, it's not personal, okay? Don't take it personally.”
“Right, I understand you perfectly.” Itoh turned around and walked to the bed, facing away from Susumu. “Then good night.”
Susumu closed one eye at Itoh's back, but the form was the same as the one he saw with two eyes. It told him nothing. In that moment Susumu even missed seeing the conveniently transparent homunculus – without it, Itoh was inscrutable.
Susumu hesitated for a moment too long and Itoh broke the silence. “What are you waiting for? Go home.”
Susumu turned around, dropped the room key on the dresser near the door and left.
That evening in his car Susumu dreamed about fucking Number 1775 again, and in his dream no matter how hard he tried he couldn't remember her real name – not that that mattered anyway, he didn't get to know it. He was trying to tell her something but she ignored him.
“The rapist doesn't get to cry,” she replied.
In the morning when Itoh, wearing pants and sporting a five-o-clock shadow over a face lacking even his trademark eyeliner, gave Susumu a curt wave from his scooter, Susumu found that to be true.