“So how much of that was scripted?”
It was later that evening. They had docked the boat a couple hours ago and as a final hoorah the team decided to order food into the hotel. As per usual, the group lingered on the couches passing a bottle of wine to refill their glasses. Everyone was drinking except Makoto, who, moments after the table was cleared, excused himself to the balcony for a smoke.
Laurent followed him.
“What?” Makoto asked, letting his arms rest on the railing, smoke trailing from the cigarette in his fingertips.
“You heard me, how much of that was scripted?” Laurent insisted as he mimicked Makoto’s posture on the railing. It was a feigned casualness - familiarity too, maybe.
He shrugged, and then brought the cigarette up for another drag. He turned his head as he exhaled. “How much do you think it was?”
“Well I’d like to think it all was-” Laurent grinned superficially as he tacked on, “Edamame.”
Makoto sighed and then stubbed the smoke out, crushing the lit tip into the railing. It left a vague scorch and he felt a small pang of satisfaction. To be honest, he didn’t know how much was scripted. He was just so mad … and tired. He was tired. Though a much larger part of him distrusted everyone in the neighboring room, a small part of him wanted to tell Laurent how he felt. The high from completing the con had finally become residual and he wondered briefly what he was going to do with the rest of his life.
“I don’t feel right,” he said instead.
Laurent pulled a confused face, “I’m sorry?”
He turned to face him, finally taking in Laurent’s side profile. He had shadows under his eyes, distantly Makoto wondered if he had the same ones.
“You told me to do what felt right, and if I did I would see a path open up for myself.”
Laurent nodded, “I remember.”
“Well, I don’t feel right . This case didn’t feel right. ” He scoffed, “the only path that’s been opened for me has been trampled in.”
There was a pause. And then Laurent asked, “did I trample it?”
Makoto didn’t answer, which for Laurent felt like enough of one. He sighed inwardly and hung his head until his chin was resting on the railing. It didn’t look comfortable.
“I don’t know.” Makoto reached into his back pocket for another cigarette, he put it in his mouth to light it. “Maybe it’s always been trampled,” he finished, mumbling around the cigarette as he did.
“I’m sorry,” Laurent replied.
“Are you? I’ve been lied to my entire life.”
The words settled in the air.
“I am, but that’s up for you to decide too, Edamura.” Laurent stood and then slipped back into the living space. As the door cracked open the sound of drunken laughter spilled into night air like oil.
Makoto woke up slowly, gaining his senses one on one. He smelled coffee faintly, the same way you can hear your alarm even when you’re dreaming. There was also humming and then suddenly - light.
“Wakey-wakey, little soybean.”
Makoto groaned. It was Laurent then. That blond bastard.
He rolled over with an arm laid over his eyes to block out the sun. “You blond bastard. How did you even get in?”
“You’re asking me how I broke into your apartment?” Laurent retorted as he set the cup of coffee next to the bed. “C’mon, it’s the expensive stuff from down the block.”
Makoto rubbed at his eyes and then finally sat up. He was right, it was the nice stuff from down the street. He took a sip and then addressed Laurent who was sitting near the foot of his bed on the floor. He had his own cup warming his palms. His hair was longer now, Makoto noticed.
“Okay. Why are you here?” He checked his wristwatch, “at eight forty in the morning.”
Laurent raised a single eyebrow, “would you believe me if I said I wanted to watch you sleep?”
Makoto scoffed, “I would. That’s not a compliment.”
“Well, while that’s true,” he beamed, “I really just wanted to see how you were doing.”
A moment passed as Laurent looked from Makoto, then to the unwashed dishes in his sink, the unfolded laundry in the corner, the now empty cartridges of cigarettes. Even after just waking up, Makoto bore shadows under his eyes.
“Edamame, no one’s heard from you in a month,” Laurent said, keeping his tone light.
“Didn’t realize we were working a case.”
Laurent opened his mouth as if to give him a retort, but then looked as though he thought better of it and gritted his teeth. “Where are you working these days?” He asked instead.
“Wasn’t aware I needed to. I’m a millionaire. Technically.”
Now Laurent was getting mad, or as mad as someone like Laurent could get. “What happened to earning an honest living?”
Makoto leveled him a blank stare and then reached for a discarded business jacket to the right of his bed. He pulled out a box of cigarettes and a lighter. Lighting it, he inhaled and then exhaled, letting the smoke drift toward a cracked window in the back. “Hope you don’t mind,” he said as he took another drag.
Laurent took a deep breath. “Edamura we’re worried about you.” Nothing. “Oz is worried about you.”
Then the dam broke.
“ Fuck him! Is that your leverage right now? That my dad is worried about me?” Makoto looked at him bewildered and then angered, “Ozaki doesn’t even get the right to call himself a dad.”
“Edamura, you know that’s not-”
Makoto stood, a new wave of energy coming to him, fueled by nothing but a childhood’s worth of anger and resentment. “Fuck you too! I’m so tired of all of your bullshit, of Oz’s bullshit, of ‘confidence men’ bullshit.”
His breathing hitched and he began to pace.
“Those kids hate me! What about the ones I auctioned before we finished the mission, huh? I auctioned them like they were animals! I’m no better than any of those men in there, it’s my fault,” he gestured hysterically to his living space, “and I deserve it . ”
He realized belatedly that he had dropped his cigarette, and then following that, he realized the heat in his face and the tightness in his throat. Laurent was staring at him wide eyed, still sat on the floor by his bed. Makoto brought his hands up to cover his face, in shame or to smother the heat he felt there, he didn’t know.
“Edamura,” Laurent stood up and in two strides was in front of Makoto. He gripped Makoto’s wrists and pulled at them. His face was blotted with anger and his eyes were shadowed and bloodshot in that way that only happens after you’ve cried.
“Edamura it wasn’t your fault.” And then he hugged him.
For a brief second Makoto was tense, but finally he relented and gripped the back of Laurent’s bright floral shirt. Pushing his face into the crook of Laurent’s neck he sobbed and his shoulders shook.
Through it all Laurent never stepped away, never stopped with the constant murmurings of it’s okay and you’re alright now . As his sobs subsided into hiccups Laurent loosened his grip to look him in the eye, “okay?”
Makoto nodded, “Okay.”
“Come back to my place. I can make us lunch and then we can figure everything out.”
“You have a place here?” Makoto laughed weakly, hands still fisted in the back of Laurent’s shirt.
“Well, I am a millionaire. Technically.” He echoed at him.
Makoto stepped away and picked up his coffee and cigarettes. Still dressed from the night before (He really had let himself go, hadn’t he?) he gestured for Laurent to lead the way.
“You didn’t steal my wallet this time did you?”
Finally Laurent laughed for real, mirth seeping into his face the same way a wine blush does. He opened the door and walked out.
This time Makoto followed.