Last Friends 4 – a bond torn apart

Michiru, can you tell me the truth? How many times has he done that to you?”

Michiru takes a deep breath, “Although none are as severe, it has happened on a number of accounts.”

“Break up with him. Michiru said before that he is a tender person who loves you very much. But that, is not love. Bestow violence upon others to force conformity is not what love is.”

Michiru starts to cry silently. Takeru hands her a piece of kleenex.

And so, a through Michiru Protection Plan is put into action. Ruka calls her family to indirectly inform them to take extra precaution in keeping share house’s address a secret, even if the person calling/visiting is from the government.

Michiru stays in the share house with Takeru, who doesn’t need to report to work the very day. While they are sitting in the kitchen sipping coffee, the door bell rings… Michiru and Takeru look at each other, a sense of uneasiness creeps over them. Michiru anxiously looks towards the door way, then back at Takeru for help. Could it be…? Takeru gets up and walks towards the door.

“Please open the door, I forgot my keys!”, it’s Ogura knocking on the door. Takeru and Michiru lets out a breath of relief together. Yet a faint disappointment appeared on Michiru’s face, then disappeared quickly as if it was never there.

Sosuke visits Michiru’s work place to find her, only to be notified that she took the day off. He hands Michiru’s coworker a business card and asks her to inform Michiru of his visit. She throws away the card once Sosuke leaves. The jealous co-worker would never know that her very act of selfishness ironically saves Michiru from the devil’s grasp. For the time being.

At the motorcycle training, Ruka’s coach asks her for a drink after the training. She politely refuses, saying that there is someone waiting at home. The coach teases her for having a boyfriend. Ruka’s smile vanishes. “Please don’t consider me a woman. I am a racer.”

Back at the share house, the five of them are getting ready for a large meal. In the midst of the rowdy but heart warming dinner preparation, Michiru’s phone starts to vibrate. Michiru resists the urge to pick it up, finally, she softens and stealthy grabs the phone to check the call records outside. Sosuke called numerous times and left voice mails that promises to never perform acts of violence, as long as Michiru comes back. Ruka seizes the phone out of Michiru’s hand. She reminds Michiru that Sosuke will not change and brings her back to the warmth of the share house dining table.

The five of them circle around the hot pot and starts to eat. Ruka picks out food and puts in Michiru’s bowl for her. Eri comments that Ruka’s special inclination towards Michiru is like a buff boyfriend protecting his frail girlfriend. Ruka’s face changes color but quickly regains her usual composure, “What are you talking about? I’m nice to everyone.”

The conversation naturally progresses to Sosuke. Eri and Ogura both wonder how can a man bare to beat such a cute girl, he must be extremely cruel inside. Michiru breaks her silence, “Please don’t talk about Sosuke like that.” Everyone stopped eating all together. Michiru continues, as if trying to convince herself, “Sosuke must not want to hit me. So when he does, he must be in agony as well. Maybe you guys won’t understand.” Takeru breaks the silence by suggesting everybody start eating and playing games. The room resumes its original jolly spirit.

The next day, Takeru takes Michiru to work with him. She gets to see the professional side of Takeru, Takeru on the other hand, breaks his queer image in front of his colleagues.

Eri and Ogura shop together for a pair of matching cups, but Ogura spots his wife going into a jewelry store with another man. They follow Ogura’s unfaithful wife and witnesses the man buying a necklace for the wife using Ogura’s credit card. Sitting together in a café after, Eri sympathetically and tolerantly listens to Ogura lamenting over his ignorance in keeping his wife’s heart.

Ruka is practicing for the upcoming race, out of the corner of her eye, she sees Sosuke standing in a distance, sullenly watching her…

Returning to the locker room, Ruka calls Takeru and informs him that she’s being followed by Sosuke who is using her to lead the way to share house. She tells Takeru to not leave Michiru by herself. Ruka hangs up and ready to leave, when she sees a shadow looming around the locker room…

Heart ponding, Ruka opens the door and sees… the coach. She steps out and invites the coach to drink later at night. As Ruka walks away with the coach, a pair of leather shoes descends from the stairs. It’s undoubtedly Sosuke.

Ruka goes to the bar with her coach in order to get rid of Sosuke. They drink quite a bit before finally taking their leave from the bar. As a result of heavy drinking, Ruka stumbles and the coach catches her. Rather than letting her go, he freezes, then in lightening speed, hugs her. And then, he presses his lips against hers… Ruka frowns, a look of disgust sweeps across her face. She pushes the coach away from her, “I SAID NO!”. Ruka runs away.

She collects herself and enters the bar Takeru works at. Noticing something is amiss, Takeru asks, “What’s wrong?” while pouring Ruka a cup of water. Ruka reaches for the water and sends it to her mouth, her hand shaking. She puts down the cup and looks down in distress. Knowing something is really wrong, Takeru takes a seat by Ruka. “Tell me what happened.”, Takeru says gently. “Attacked by a man.” “Eh?” “Not Michiru’s boyfriend. It’s someone I’ve known for a long time. I don’t dislike him but when he touches me, I feel disgusted. I can’t stand that sort of things. It’s not because of him, but because of the me that’s being treated like that by him. Hard to understand huh?” Ruka starts to cry. “So useless, it’s no big deal!”, Ruka tells herself while more tears stream down, “I wanted to be strong! To be strong for Michiru. So useless…” Takeru watches her cry for awhile, then he moves his chair closer and after a moment of hesitation, he asks her, “I’m going to put my arm around your shoulder alright?” She silently nods. He gently wraps his arm around her and he asks, “Are you scared of me?” She shakes her head and presses her lips, “If it’s Takeru, then I’m not afraid. If it’s Takeru, then it’s fine.”

That day, I saw a side of you that’s been concealed from everyone. I decided, if you are going to protect Michiru, then let me protect you.

Back at share house, the warmth and happiness returns. Michiru realizes how big the world is after working with Takeru. A step out of Sosuke’s self absorbed world. Takeru pours coffee for everyone. When he brings out the five cups, the friends notice immediately that the cups are a set.

Takeru used his free time and picked out cups for Eri , Ogura , and Michiru . The five of them toast.

Ruka goes to training. Her coach doesn’t treat her too well out of embarrassment of what he had done to her. She approaches him and sincerely suggest that they both forget it and pretend nothing ever happened. Life returns to normal for all five of them.

Michiru stays home. She gives in the temptation to ignore all calls and picks up her phone to check the miscalls. The topmost is from her mom. Puzzled at why her mother called her, Michiru calls back. Her mom asks for money and urges Michiru to come back home to visit, she has a souvenir for Michiru. Since when did Michiru’s mom ever cared about whether her daughter comes back home or not?

Michiru’s mother sits in the room waiting for Michiru. The door bell rings, the mom says, “She’s finally here.” and gets up to open the door. The door opens, Ruka stands before Michiru’s mom. She introduces herself and gives Michiru’s mom an envelop of money. The mom’s initial surprise is washed away as she reaches out her greedy hand for the money. She turns around and starts counting. Ruka asks, “Is there anything you need me to give to Michiru?” “What?” “Like souvenir.” “What..?” “Souvenir from the spa..?” “OH that, wait.” Ruka stands at the door, ready to walk in when something struck her as peculiar. She turns to leave. Michiru’s mom comes out and hands her the souvenir, Ruka is already on her way walking down stairs. Michiru’s mom follows down, inquiring about Michiru’s whereabouts. Ruka fastens her steps and gets on her bike. Before Michiru’s mom can say anything more, she rides away as fast as she can. Michiru’s mom returns upstairs and apologizes, “Sorry, I couldn’t get much out of her.” Sosuke walks out of his hiding place.

Ruka returns to the share house and tells Eri her strange encounter. The sound of the door knob turning interrupts Eri and Ruka’s dicussion. Thinking it’s Takeru coming back home, Eri gets up to open the door for him. As of remembering something, Ruka yells out, “Eri, wait!” Too late.

Sosuke takes a step inward and asks, “Is Michiru here?” Ruka lies, “She’s not here.” “She is here. I want to see her.” Sosuke insists and takes another step in. “She is not here.” Ruka answers resolutely. Sosuke takes out his cell phone and dials Michiru’s number. Ring Ring. “As I thought.” Sosuke snaps the phone shut, “I knew she is here.” Sighing, Ruka tells him, “Even if she is here, I won’t let you see her.” Not buying it, Sosuke takes another step forward and yells, “Michiru!” “If you dare do anything, I will call the police. You work for the government, it wouldn’t be good for you if I call the police on you.” Ruka pushes him out and slams the door on his face.

Sosuke walks out and stands at a distance waiting. It starts to rain.

Takeru returns home and sees Sosuke waiting in the rain in a distant bush. He tells Ruka and proposes to stay up all night to guard the house. He urges Ruka to go back to her room and catch up on some sleep.

Although apparently unaware of Sosuke’s arrival, Michiru can’t sleep. She walks out of her room to get a cup of drink. Takeru brews herbal tea for Michiru. Sitting down for tea, Michiru asks about Takeru’s family. Takeru reveals that he has a sister. “Why do you ask?” Takeru wonders. “I always think that someone who can brew such wonderful tea and coffee, must come from a very warm, loving family.” Takeru smiles. “In my family,” Michiru continues, “my father and mother don’t get along very well. In fact, they divorced when I was still in middle school. After that, mom would spend most of her time working, leaving me by myself at home. Sosuke, my boyfriend, is like this too. His childhood is similar to mine, he is raised by his mother as well. But when his mother meets her lover when Sosuke is still in elementary school, she moved out. So then, Sosuke is forced to move from relatives to relatives. … When I first met him, I feel a sense of familiarity. He is just like me, always by himself. Here, everybody is so nice to me. The nicer everybody is to me, the more guilty I feel towards Sosuke. He is still by himself.” “I think you don’t have to think that way,” Takeru starts after a moment of silence, “As to loneness, everyone can feel lonely.” “Is that so? Then there must be many kinds? … Like Ruka, when she was in the competition earlier, all her family came to encourage her. It feels so warm. Somehow, I’m a little envious…” Takeru crooks his head and says, “The loneness people feel deep inside of them don’t always manifest on the exterior. The same with Ruka.” A bond may be torn apart, a new bond is just formulating.

Sosuke, that night, while listening to the raindrops tapping on the window, I was thinking about you…

Ruka, please forgive me for not detecting the agony you feel deep down.

When the morning comes, Michiru volunteers to take out the trash. She sees Sosuke, still sitting in the rain.

“Sosuke, are you waiting for me? When did you come? Did you wait for me the entire night?” Sosuke struggles up. “Michiru, I .. will .. always .. wait for you. If it’s waiting for you, it’s not tiring at all.” Michiru throws away the umbrella and hugs Sosuke in the rain.

Ruka watches in a distance.

Michiru, when a person is trying to hurt another, the person him/herself must also feel the pain. Trying to break you and Sosuke apart, the one ultimately getting hurt, is me.

I am perfectly aware of my “obsession” in mentioning cups and juxtaposing pictures of cups ever since my recap for episode 1. But the feeling of belonging is so heartwarming, I just can’t refrain myself from flooding the recap with pictures of the set of cups whenever possible. I always think that no matter how bleak each character’s lives or outlooks are, at least they have each other. On the flip side, Sosuke is much more pitiful. He has nothing. Strangely enough, having empathy for him doesn’t make me sympathize with him.

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