Last Friends 6 – a desperate getaway

Michiru rushes back to Sosuke after receiving his suicide threat, disregarding Ruka’s resentment at her relapse. When she finds him, he is alone sitting on the couch in the dark, ominous and unshaven. “Welcome back.” he opens his eyes and greeds Michiru in eerie detachment, “Take out your cell phone.” She raises her eyebrows in question, but obediently takes out her cellphone. He throws it away.

“Michiru, you are Mine. Let the two of us live together, don’t let anyone disturb us.” Sosuke indoctrinates a helpless Michiru as they watch Michiru’s yearbook burning in the dark.

Ruka uses alcohol to numb her feelings towards Michiru. Eri and Takeru keeps her company. The three of them return to the share house and much to their surprise, they find Ogura waiting for them. He asks for permission to allow him stay in share house a little longer.

Ruka asks him if he has filed a divorce with his wife. He tells her shakily that he and his wife decided to separate for the time being with no mentioning of divorce. Ruka rightfully accuses him for being sly (AKA: a spineless weasel) and irresponsible (AKA: a jackass.), pointing out that he only comes to Eri when he’s lonely, but when his wife calls, he rushes back like a dog. Eri pretends that she’s not bothered by it and gracefully allows Ogura to stay. Seeing that Eri has agreed, Ruka lets the matter drop. Meanwhile, Ruka decides to let Michiru be.

In the morning, when Ruka enters the bathroom to brush her teeth, her thought returns to Michiru.

Michiru, if I didn’t meet you that day, I would still be living the life without you. Then, your love, your troubles, and your miseries will not reach me and affect me. If only I can return to the way life was, the life without you. That would be easy, because I’ve walked a long way without you.

There was no call from Michiru. No visit, nothing. She vanishes with her shadow when she stepped into the taxi that night. Although no one brings up Michiru directly, everybody misses her, especially Ruka. Yet Ruka deliberated keeps her distance and acts uninterested. Only Takeru can see through the thin veil of pretense.

Takeru starts to look for Michiru. He looks for her at the hair salon and eventually finds Sosuke’s apartment from the salon’s employee contact information.

He rings the doorbell twice. No one answers. Takeru hesitates, then tries the door knob. The door opens ajar. Drawn by the strangeness, Takeru looks in. A figure walks heavily and rhythmically through the room, freakishly resembling a zombie. Takeru walks closer to get a better look, a defeated Michiru is quietly folding clothes – an eye patch covering one eye. She is exasperated to have been seen by Takeru, she takes a step back and lets out a feeble whimper and winces like an old hag.
Takeru convinces Michiru to sit down in a cafe with him. She obeys and sits immobilized with her hands clasped on her lap. A waitress’s “welcome coming” to a group of customers startles Michiru, she looks up nervously. Takeru attempts to sooth Michiru by comforting her that Sosuke is still at work, he will not be able to find out about Takeru’s visit. To Takeru’s astonishment, Michiru reveals that her life has reduced to cooking, doing laundry, ironing clothes, and watching TV. Every two hours, Sosuke would call to check on her, making sure the trophy of his absolute control is still there. As to the wound near her eye, it’s the punishment for Michiru for returning home from grocery shopping later than Sosuke would have liked. “It’s my fault,” Michiru adds, “I didn’t keep track of time.” Takeru is stunned by Michiru’s indifferent retelling of a horrendous case of DV, he tells her, “I respected your choice to return to him. But this is Not a healthy life style. Please hurry up and get away from him!” “But,” Michiru responds without so much as twitch a muscle, “I think this is the better way. I won’t be a burden to anyone.” “That is NOT True!” Takeru assures Michiru firmly. Before he can say more, Michiru’s cell phone rings. Sosuke is checking on his property.

Michiru picks up the phone. “Where are you?”, Sosuke’s commanding inquiry sends a jolt of epinephrine down Michiru’s spine. She musters the courage to lie to him that she is taking out the trash. He succinctly tells her to hurry home and hangs up. Then slowly, Sosuke walks out of his apartment. He had went back home for her. *Shudders* Watching from across the coffee table, Takeru presses again, “Michiru-Chan, please escape from this horrible man. He won’t change, you are clearly aware of that. If he gets hurt because you are not by his side, it’s his fault. He is the reason why are you in this state right now!” Changing his tone, Takeru softly comforts Michiru, “It’s not your fault. Come back to share house with me. We are all worried about you. Ruka is waiting for you.” Michiru looks up for the first time, her face exhibits a mixture of longing and gratitude. They walk out of the café together.

While crossing the street, Takeru spots Sosuke who is on the other side of street. Without further ado, he grabs Michiru and runs for both of their lives. Sosuke having just crossed the street, sensed something and turns around like an omnipresent devil. As Takeri and Michiru make haste to get on a cab, ordering the driver to start the engine, Sosuke is already banging on the taxi window, trying to make Michiru stay. Then the cab drives away, leaving Sosuke on the street by himself. A narrow escape.

Takeru takes Michiru to the bar to spend the night, reasoning that it’s safer for her to stay there than returning to share house immediately.

In another meeting with the psych counselor, Ruka reveals her father’s wish for her to marry and live happily ever after like any normal girl. Yet telling him the truth would definitely disappointment immensely. Seeing Ruka’s struggle, the counselor suggests for her to talk to someone who understands her well and is open minded enough to accept her for who she is to lessen her turmoil.

Takeru is looking at documents when the phone rings. He walks over to answer the phone. No one speaks back. He waited then from the other end of the phone a child calls out, “Mother.” Realizing the caller is no other than his own sister, he firmly hangs up. Ruka comes back at this time. Still trying to recover from the shock, Takeru volunteers to pour coffee for Ruka to distract himself. Ruka watches the back of Takeru and calls out to him. Then, she decides to keep the secret to herself a little longer and turns to walk to her room.

The next day, Takeru takes Michiru to the hospital to check up on her wounds. He bikes back to share house only to encounter Sosuke waiting at the door. “Where is Michiru?” Sosuke demands. “She is not here.” Takeru answers him back in a man-to-man stare down. (Sosuke is so short!) Takeru warns Sosuke to be careful with his actions and threatens to call the police. Takeru reminds Sosuke that calling the police on him can’t be good, especially when he works for the government. Sosuke leaves in dismay. A rare display of masculinity from Takeru.

Takeru takes Michiru home. Eri and Ogura are surprised but welcome Michiru’s return. Michiru peeks at Ruka who turned away upon her entrance and drops her head lower. Takeru briefly explains the situation to the housemates, who showed immediate support for Michiru. Only Ruka looks down into the pillow she was holding. “Ruka…?” Michiru addresses Ruka. Ruka tries to appear unconcerned and agrees for Michiru to stay. Michiru is sincerely grateful. She sits down next to Ruka, rigid and timid. Ruka mutters an excuse and leaves the scene to avoid Michiru.

The next morning, Ruka chooses to avoid Michiru again and escapes from her presence as soon as she can. Eri notices the obvious signs of aloofness and catches up to Ruka for a talk. Eri reasons that Ruka may still be angry at Michiru for her weakness. Ruka asks Eri if she still lets Ogura slips into her room and wonders why she can be so tolerant. “You don’t know when he will leave you again, yet you still tolerate him. Aren’t you the one who’ll be hurt in the end? Aren’t you scared?” Ruka asks. Naturally, not wanting to experience the pain of separation, Ruka chooses to distance herself instead.

Sosuke is at the park, the boy comes again. Sosuke gives the boy his bread. The kid chews happily.

Takeru calls Ruka and persuades her to fix his bike for him at the park. “If you come, I will treat you to a delicious dinner!” he tells her. She comes to take a look at his bike, Michiru is there with Takeru. Takeru coaxes Ruka to get on the bike to test the tire. When she unwillingly sits on the two person bike, Michiru follows suite and starts peddling. Takeru gets on his own bike and follows them. “What’s this?” Ruka lets her feet dangle, refuse to peddle, “Stop!” Takeru catches up and pasts them, “Kishimoto is falling behind!” Ruka gives out an incredulous “what?” and starts to peddle, “I’m not going to lose!”

After breaking the ice, the three of them sit down to eat Takeru’s homemade sandwich. Ruka jokingly asks Takeru if this is what he meant by a delicious dinner. Takeru answers that being able to sit under the blue sky like this is what makes the food wonderful. Michiru takes the opportunity to apologize to Ruka for being indecisive. Ruka lets her self-restraints go and opens up to Michiru.

If only this feeling of harmony would last.

When asked whether Michiru plans to liberate herself from Sosuke’s clutch, Michiru answers,

Being with Sosuke makes me lose myself little by little. Always prioritize Sosuke’s feeling before my own, I don’t even know what I’m feeling anymore – what I like, what I don’t like, and what I want to do.

I’ve gotten used to it. But, there is one thing I cannot get use to. … He, talks smack about Ruka.

Michiru reveals that Sosuke has viciously commented that Ruka is not a woman. Ruka takes a breath then looks up and down, trying to find a safe spot to place her gaze. Takeru breaks the silent awkwardness by laughing the matter off, saying there is nothing they could do about what Sosuke says.

Sosuke is spotted at Ruka’s parents’ house. The next day when Ruka visits for mother’s day, her brother tells her of a “strange” letter her parents received the night before. The content of the letter reveals Ruka’s sexual orientation, then practically, and ironically called Ruka a freak. Ruka confronts her parents about the letter. Under her father’s pressing, she is ready to confess her secret, but finally decides against it. She lies that this letter may be from a fellow racer with a jealous eye to purposely spread rumor to damage Ruka’s reputation.

Takeru returns home that night to find Michiru crying on the couch alone. Crying out of loneliness. After being brushed aside by an unhappy Ruka. “Maybe, it’s better if I leave. … Ruka may not have forgiven me after all. … I don’t understand her some time. Sometimes, it feels like there is something between Ruka and I. We’ve been friends for many years, I’ve always cherished this friendship. But, there seems to have a wall in her heart. An impenetrable wall. I, can’t enter it.” Michiru starts to apologize after spitting those feelings out of her chest and runs back to her room. Ruka who had walked out of her room for something overhears the conversation. She goes out for a walk.

Takeru follows her to the swings in the park and sits down in the swing next to Ruka’s. He starts to swing. Ruka watches.

“Takeru?” Takeru stops, “What Michiru said was right. I built a wall to prevent anyone from entering, afraid that once people know the real me, they will start to dislike me. I’ve been hiding a secret. … But, I want you to know the secret. Would you listen to me?”

“Sorry, before you start, I have something to tell you first. Is that okay?”

“What is it?”

Takeru gets off the swing and squads in front of Ruka, looking into her eyes, he tells her, “Ruka, I like you.”

Interestingly, Michiru considered her life under Sosuke’s domineering presence the best situation for no other reason than being able to not cause trouble for others. It’s interesting in many accounts. First of all, not wanting to be a burden indicates an awareness of her own problematic state of affairs. Yet she does not realize that allowing her weakness to devour her is not the solution to liberation. Secondly, the reason she is afraid to cause trouble for others is because she is desperate to be accepted, but not as who she truly is. Paradoxically, Michiru shies away from the very people she yearns acceptance from. The very act demonstrates a lack of trust – as much warmth as the share house people provided her with, Michiru still grasps onto the implicit mistrust that prevents her from the possibility of belonging and happiness. Michiru is her own prisoner of love.

Ruka on the other hand also chooses to run away. She realizes that Michiru might leave her one day, (so would anyone) but instead of seizing the day, she chooses to retreat into her little turtle shell and lick her wounds in an unseen dark corner. Takeru on the contrary, boldly faces his feelings. It’s easy to credit Takeru with the courage in this type of contrast. He may be courageous, yet he faces none of the obvious obstacles like DV or sexual orientation before his confession. So then the question is, when you are in a situation where you know the relationship is “impossible”, would you still go for it?

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