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|| Summary of Vol. 5 & 6 ||

Vol. 5: We were left with a cliffhanger at the end of the last chapter. Now Tetsuo considers the helmeted Ryouta. He imagines that his friend is walking away, but holding out a hand to him. No threats from Kizu are going to keep him from helping a friend, he decides. He agrees to the trip, but first goes to his room to change. While he's there, his cell phone rings. It's Hikone, wondering if Tetsuo thought he was Kizu, since he had borrowed Kizu's cell phone to call him. He then asks if Ryouta is there. "Why would he come here?" Iriya demands. "Ah, he is there. Good," Hikone replies. "Why do you say that?" "Well, he borrowed an older student's scooter. I got a bad feeling about it, but if he's with you it's okay." Tetsuo demands an explanation, and when he gets it, he can't believe what Ryouta did. Then he starts laughing over the mental picture. Hikone gets upset, and begs Tetsuo to look after him.

Kizu finds him just in time to hear the last piece of conversation. "Who's looking after who?" he asks, and he has a dangerous look in his eye. "Oh, it's nothing important!" Hikone says, although his whole body seems to have gone into panic mode. "Hikone..." Hikone breaks out into a sweat. "Forgive me, Iriya," Hikone thinks, just before we switch scenes.

Ryouta has driven them to a rather deserted road that runs along the ocean. It is full of happy childhood memories for the two, who used to ride their bikes to the place. At one point, Iriya goes to get drinks, and when he returns he throws one to Ryouta. Since Ryouta happens to be perched on a guardrail at the time, the inevitable happens. He over-extends and starts to fall over, and when Iriya grabs his arm to stop him the two both manage to fall in.

The author reminds us that it happens to be September, and the two shivering, drenched young men certainly present a sight when they turn up at the door of a local onsen (hot-spring resort type place). Presumably, they hand over their clothes for washing and drying, because the next time we see them, they're warming up in the out-door onsen. [God, I miss the Japanese onsen. Heaven on Earth, so long as you aren't body-shy.] Kizu certainly gets an eye-full, and he is not pleased to see the bruises all over Tetsuo. "You haven't been playing nice with Kizu," he notes. "Oh, this? I fell down." ""Liar," Ryouta thinks. "That's your poker-face."

Meanwhile, the comic relief arrives. Two of the onsen's employees are standing on the other side of the door. The woman has her ear to the door, which horrifies her male co-worker. She shushes him, trying to hear the conversation. It seems that she is convinced that they are a failed double-suicide attempt, and she's determined to keep them close. Despite Tetsuo protesting that they have no money, she insists that they rest in a room for a while. Her male co-workers watch on the side, and one observes that she must have been reading bad novels again. Tetsuo and Ryouta are left blinking in their room.

Tetsuo relaxes, and his yukata falls up slightly, revealing another bruise. Ryouta points it out, and Tetsuo starts to come up with another lie. "I'm not a kid... Stop trying to cover it up!" There's an awkward moment. "I guess I made a mistake. Getting into the bath with you was strange," Tetsuo notes. "Like you were a female friend."

Predictably, this enrages Ryouta. He thinks that Kizu gets too much of Tetsuo's time and thoughts. He tells Tetsuo as much, and Tetsuo shouts: "All I am is something for you to compete with Kizu over!"

Lightening seems to strike Ryouta. "Forget it," Tetsuo says. "It was nothing, sorry."

Ryouta grabs him in a mock stranglehold. "What has Hikone been telling you?" he demands. "It was nothing," Tetsuo replies.

Ryouta sits back. "Bulls-eye..." he says. "Eh?" "Bingo, Tetsu-chan." Ryouta looks rather dangerous as he continues: "That's it. I want to compete with Ryouta over you." "What's that supposed to mean?" Tetsuo asks. "Tetsu-chan, I can't agree with your changing for Kizu's sake. I can't forgive it."

"My changing?" Tetsuo jumps to his feet, gripping the table viciously. "How have I changed?!" "You've changed!" "Then h-how have I changed?! Tell me!" Tetsuo demands.

A voice interrupts: "You haven't seemed to change to me."

Kizu is standing in the doorway. He reveals how he got the information out of Hikone. Then he asks Tetsuo what he's doing there, before grabbing him, and pulling his yukata down to immobilize his arms. "You've changed? Perhaps here? No? Then maybe here?" Ryouta watches, paralyzed, as Kizu basically molests poor Tetsuo. After giving up on talking sense into Kizu, Tetsuo appeals to Ryouta: "Ryouta, don't watch, help me!"

Kizu smirks at Ryouta. "Don't you want to touch? To make love to what's mine? You don't have the audacity."

Ryouta certainly won't be mocked by Kizu. Soon, poor Tetsuo finds himself sandwiched between the two as they poke and prod. Ryouta is dismayed by how easily Tetsuo responds to Kizu, but it doesn't take much before Tetsuo reaches his limit. He throws them off in a rage. "You insufferable bastards! If you have issues, don't use me to deal with them!" He points at them accusingly. "Why don't you just use each other!" He escapes into the bathroom, still cussing.

Meanwhile, the woman employee finds one of the men listening at the door. "What's going on?" "Shh. There's another one in there now." "What a tangle..." A voice interrupts: "Excuse me, is there something there?" Hikone has finally made an appearance. "Are my friends in there?" The woman smiles evilly. "Enter the ambush?" She muses.

When Tetsuo finally pokes his head out of the bathroom, Kizu has put his own clothes back on, and Ryouta is gone. "Did you two talk?" Tetsuo wants to know. Kizu says they did, but they simply can't see eye-to-eye; they only get each other's backs up. "I told him he was jealous," Kizu adds as Tetsuo finishes dressing. Tetsuo isn't pleased. Kizu hugs him from behind. "He's not going to give it up," Kizu says. "He can't except you getting close to me. He can't decide whom to blame. He's completely wrong about you. You haven't changed to me, Iriya." He goes on to explain that male or female, the body has nothing to do with it. It's Tetsuo whom he wants. Then he lets Tetsuo go, and backs away. He expects him to run away.

Tetsuo surprises him by staying put, and saying that he understands. It frightened him, how he only opened up for Kizu. Kizu has a look of absolute shock on his face as Tetsuo caresses his face. Iriya says he has decided not to run away anymore, from either of them.

They all return to town, and Tetsuo is inside speaking to Ryouta's mother when Ryouta blows in and out. She yells at him for the late hours he keeps, and he just tells her to shut up. She confides to Tetsuo that she is worried about her son. He decides to track his friend down for a confrontation.

Ryouta is indeed hanging out with an unsavory bunch. He is letting his frustration out on a punching game at the arcade when Tetsuo finally tracks him down. I have this section scanlated here. Ryouta says he doesn't want to talk to Tetsuo, and when he tries to insist, Ryouta's new friends recognize him from his modeling advertisements. They start harassing him for money. This is the last straw for Tetsuo, who lets fly and gets into a spectacular brawl. Ryouta watches, shocked, and finally realizes that his friends has not changed after all. It was only his own jealousy that created what he saw. Just as he reaches this realization, one of the guys pulls a knife on Tetsuo. Ryouta jumps in front of him, and gets his wrist slashed for his trouble. Tetsuo wraps it as best he can, and holds his friend as he screams for someone to call an ambulance.

In the hospital, Hanada and Mita barge in on the doctor talking to a bandaged Tetsuo. "Your flower of a face!" Hanada cries in horror, grabbing hold. Tetsuo winces in pain. Mita is motionless. Iriya apologizes, since now the film will have to be re-shot. At his words, Mita goes into a song and dance, he's that pleased with the facial wound. As Mita continues to dance around, Hanada asks if Kizu has been told. "No," Iriya replies. "Keep your mouth shut too."

"I already called him," a voice says. Ryouta is standing in the doorway. Tetsuo leaps up to examine his bandaged hand, and Ryouta assures him that he has full use of his fingers. Tetsuo looks near to tears. Hanada and Mita make a strategic retreat. Tetsuo blames himself, and Ryouta tells him not to. In the middle of their serious conversation, the loudspeaker pages a random doctor. They crack up for a moment, and then Ryouta says how pleased he is that Tetsuo wasn't hurt.

Tetsuo slugs him in the stomach, and we see a trace of the old Ryouta as he stares at him with puppy eyes. "That hurt, Tetsu-chan! What was that for?" Tetsuo starts haranguing him for putting his life on the line, but he only laughs.

Suddenly the door is slammed open. Kizu is there, and breathing hard. Without glancing at Ryouta he marches up to Tetsuo and rips his shirt open as he searches for injuries. Tetsuo starts yelling at him. Rolling his eyes, Ryouta announces that he's leaving. Kizu stops him, and thanks him. Ryouta glares. "I didn't do it for you, I did it for my friend."

After he leaves, Kizu locks the door. Tetsuo hears it click, and starts throwing a fit. As usual, Kizu manages to have his way.

Later we see that Kizu's troubles aren't over. Although he had been promised his apartment until he graduated, it is in such bad shape that it has been condemned. Because he's a minor, he can't sign out a new lease. He'll have to get in touch with his father.

Meanwhile, Tetsuo is filming the movie at last. The scar across his nose and cheekbone help give a touch of chilling reality to the scene. As Tetsuo goes to leave, a friend asks if he's going home. He replies that he's going to the hospital. "An exam? On a Sunday?" A girl wonders. "Does Iriya have a girlfriend?" another questions. Hanada gives them a half smile. "He does. A hell of a girlfriend."

Kizu has tracked down his father at the hospital. But he refuses to sign the lease. "I see... It was stupid of me to ask." Kizu says. His father stops him from leaving. "An old friend is branching out to Thailand. He tells me he needs staff." "So this time you're going to Thailand," Kizu says. His face is blank. "Have fun." "What are you saying?" his father replies. "I want you to come too this time. You can be by arms and legs." [He's in a wheel chair.] "What are you saying?" Kizu demands. "What about Kiwamu and Setsuna?"

His mother enters the room. "We're bringing them." "Mother... you can't be serious." His father assures him that he's been offered a position for life. Kizu storms off, but his mother follows. "You can't agree with his ill-judgment," Kizu says. "This friend is trustworthy," his mother answers. "Your father doesn't have much time left, and that man knows it. Two, three years. This will make progress possible. It's his last chance at a business deal. Please, Ryouji. I'll need your help too." After she leaves, Kizu vents: "....Shit. Perfect timing. What'll I do? GOD DAMN IT!" Tetsuo happens to have overheard the whole thing.

Later he goes to visit Kizu and help him pack. "Have you decided where you're moving next?" "Not really." "Liar," Tetsuo thinks. "I knew he wouldn't tell me anything." "We just finished the movie," he says out loud. "The last scene was my idea. You'll have to come see it." Kizu suddenly pins him to one of the boxes and starts kissing him, but Tetsuo throws him off. "CUT IT OUT! Is that all you can do with me? That's it, isn't it?" "Iriya. That's not it. What with your face?" "Were you listening to a word I said?!"

*Snort* The next scene has some priceless visual gags going on through-out the conversation. First we're presented with the setting: a convenience store called "69." Then our dear boys (Tetsuo, Hikone, and Ryouta) are all sucking on popsicles.

They're talking about Kizu moving to Thailand, although they seem to be having some trouble placing it geographically. Hanada walks by, and sets them straight. When he asks what they're doing sitting out on the sidewalk, they tell him they don't have the money for a restaurant. He treats them all. They discuss the fact that if Kizu had a place to move to, he wouldn't have to leave the country. They decide to all look for a place, but they'll need someone to be the front man. Tetsuo gets volunteered.

It seems Ryouta and Tetsuo have finally found a measure of peace and comfort at last. They speak of things benignly as they walk home together.

Next, Tetsuo shows up at the hospital with flowers for Kizu's father. He is considerably surprised, since he's never met Tetsuo before, but Tetsuo explains that he is a school friend of Kizu's. He is very polite and smiles a lot. They speak about Kizu, and Tetsuo tells his father how independent he is, and how capable, and how he wants to have his trust. Then he leaves.

Kizu's mom says how surprised she is that Kizu's friend came to visit for the first time. And how he came without Kizu. And what a nice boy he is. His father says he doesn't want to part with Kizu yet. "I'll be here, won't I?" "Will you?" "I will."

The school festival entitled "End of Days '99" is in full swing, and Ryouta and Hikone have shown up for the screening of Lifeline. Tetsuo's ending is a confusion of one friend killing another. All goes well. So well, in fact, that a visiting producer in the audience gives Mita his business card. At the end, Kizu and Tetsuo go to the roof of the school to talk. After some surface chatter about the film, Tetsuo asks him if he still hasn't decided on a new place to live. Kizu is silent. "You're going to Thailand, aren't you?" Kizu smirks. "How did you know that?" It doesn't matter," Tetsuo says. "I've been thinking on what to do. That's right: You'll kill me."

Kizu looks up, startled.

"Just like in the film," Tetsuo says. "Again and again, in my heart, you'll kill me." "I'm vacillating," Kizu admits. "If you can't decide, then listen to me," Tetsuo tells him. He thrusts a bunch of papers at him. "A person can't live alone, Kizu." Then he escapes from the roof.

Kizu looks at the papers, which are descriptions of apartments found by Hanada for the two of them. For a moment, Kizu is speechless. Then he begins to laugh. Eventually his laughter trails off, and we leave him looking like he is about to cry.

When we see him next, he is visiting his father. He tells him he has decided to go to Thailand, on the condition that he can return to Japan after a year. His father agrees. Kizu tells him that this will clear up any debt he owes his family, and that they are never to ask him for anything else. After he leaves, his mother finds the letter from Hanada, which Kizu had accidentally dropped.

Kizu tells Tetsuo, promising that he will return in a year. "It's only a year, it's not so long," he says. Although Tetsuo agrees out loud, inside his thoughts are very different. "In one year, Kizu may move on. A year is a long time." "So everything we did was for nothing," Tetsuo says. Kizu hugs him tenderly, and gives him his schedule. "Don't go!" Kizu tries to soothe him, but he tears up the schedule, saying he won't speak with him again until he returns to Japan. "Oi! Iriya!" Kizu shouts after him. No reply. "How selfish."

Kizu still has three months in Japan before his family leaves for Thailand In April. Iriya keeps himself busy with his friends. With two months left, Kizu tries to visit him, but the butler tells him that Tetsuo has gone on a snowboarding trip with his friends. At the beginning of April, Ryouta asks when Kizu is leaving. "I don't know," Tetsuo replies sourly. "Aren't you going to see him off?" Ryouta asks. "No." Ryouta puts him in checkmate, and Tetsuo throws the chessboard across the room. While picking up the pieces, Ryouta hands Tetsuo the kyousha. This is the piece that started the whole mess, and Tetsuo starts to think.

Hikone, meanwhile, is walking Kizu to the train station. Once there, Hikone realizes he forgot the senbetsu (money given to loved ones about to go on a trip). He left it at his house. He brightens. "But bunny can give it to you at the airport, right?" Kizu replies that he doesn't know if he's coming. Hikone is shocked. "You haven't spoken in three months?!" "It can't be helped," Kizu replies. "Oi!" "Thanks for walking me." "What am I supposed to do with the senbetsu?!" Hikone demands. "Eat it," Kizu replies.

Tetsuo goes to visit Kizu's old apartment, but it's been torn down into a pile of rubble.

Kizu's cell phone rings, and he dives over the bed in his hotel apartment to answer it. But it's not Tetsuo; it's Hanada. As they're talking, the hotel phone rings. Kizu drops the cell phone on the bed, letting Hanada talk to air as he answers the other phone. This time it is Tetsuo. He's nervous, and rattles away. Kizu smiles, interjecting his name every once in a while in the hopes of slowing him down. But then: "One year may be short, but I couldn't even take 3 months of not seeing you," Tetsuo says. "I'm sorry, I don't intend to cause you any more trouble. Take care." He hangs up. "OI! TETSUO...! TETSUO!"

Kizu slams down the phone, grabs his coat, and heads for the door. But then he stops. What can he do now, after all?

The next morning he meets his family at the terminal. They're late, so they need to get going, but Kizu doesn't move. He apologizes to his mother and father. "I can't go to Thailand after all. I have someone important here. Not a year from now. Right now, in Japan, I have someone important to me."

End Volume 5.

Vol. 6: At school, Hanada is shocked to see Tetsuo. "What are you doing here?" "Are you trying to pick a fight? Shouldn't I be at my own school's opening ceremony?" "No, I meant... I thought you'd be at Narita..." "Just as I thought, you are trying to pick a fight." Hanada fishes Tetsuo's cellular out of his back pocket and tells him to turn it on.

Meanwhile, Hikone seems to have a fan club. A first year is blathering about how excited he is to be in the same school when Ryouta comes along and drags him off for another roof talk. "Kizu should have left by now," Hikone notes as they stare up at the sky from their backs. "What a relief," Ryouta replies. Hikone glances at his watch. "The opening ceremony is starting about now." Ryouta closes his eyes. "I'm skipping." "Hmm..." Hikone joins him.

At the airport, Kizu and his father get into an argument. His father tells him he's only a child. Kizu hauls off and punches his father, knocking him to the floor. "Sorry, I'm still a seventeen year old child," Kizu apologizes, with fists still clenched. "Kid or not, I have someone important." His father calls him selfish, before picking up the twins (one under each arm) and hauling them off toward their flight. A policemen runs up, but Kizu's mother explains it's only a father-son argument. She then turns to Kizu, who's in his own little world. "Ryouji!" No answer, so she slaps him to get his attention. "Ryouji! Please look at these." She hands him an envelope, with two tickets to Thailand dated a month from that date. "You didn't have a seat on this plane, Ryouji." "What?" She explains that she figured he wouldn't leave 'him.' She waves the dropped apartment plans in front of his face. "He's a very good friend, isn't he?" she asks. "Your father isn't your childhood enemy, Ryouji." With a wave, she follows the rest of his family. Kizu is left clutching both tickets and papers, with a stunned look on his face.

Tetsuo is on stage giving a speech to the opening assembly. In the middle of it, his cell phone starts to ring. He rushes to finish his speech, then vaults off the stage and runs out of the auditorium. It's Kizu, asking him to come with him to Thailand. He agrees, but when he meets Kizu at the Narita hotel the first thing he sees is Kizu's trademark smirk. Annoyed, he announces that Kizu had better shape up and impress him. "I'll be waiting in Tokyo," he says before leaving. A stunned Kizu eventually breaks into gales of laughter.

Needless to say, Ryouta is not pleased when Kizu shows up at school the next day. Kizu explains that his flight was delayed a month, then clapped Hikone on the shoulder and told him he was going to impose for a month. "DON'T JOKE!" Hikone shouts. "MY PLACE IS TOO SMALL FOR AN OAF LIKE YOU!" "You're so cheap. Why can't I stay in your living room" "STAY AT IRIYA'S PLACE! WITH BUNNY!" "I can't stay in the same place as Iriya's parents." Ryouta jumps in: "THAT'S RIGHT! YOU'LL HAVE TO PUT UP WITH IT, HIKONE! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, LODGING HIM THERE?"

The girls at Tetsuo's school are thrilled to see that Kizu is hanging out outside. He's borrowed Hikone's motorcycle, and intends to pick Tetsuo up every day. Tetsuo asks what he's doing for money, and finds out Kizu is leeching off of Hikone. So he offers him a job: cleaning out a small cottage his father used to use for an office. His parents are away, as usual. They pass an almost idyllic month. Tetsuo certainly smiles more than in the entire series. Kizu mellows, and even picks up some stubble, in the manly Indiana Jones' tradition. After three weeks, Kizu receives his last paycheck. Tetsuo's parents are expected back, and Tetsuo wonders what to do with him. He comes home to find him leaning up against Hikone's bike. "Get changed and come for a ride," Kizu tells him. "I'm going to kidnap you."

Tetsuo smiles, before running off. The housekeeper catches sight of him as he's taking off. "Where are you going? Your parents will be home soon!" But they've already zoomed out of sight. They end up at the most un-expected of places: The onsen that he had gone to with Ryouta so long ago. "I worked three weeks so I could take you here," Kizu explains. "If you had run from me on that day, I think I would have given up on you. But you didn't run. And that time I was in trouble, you all worked so hard for me. I thought if I left Japan, I would be abandoning you. You said I would kill your heart. Although you hadn't run from me..."

The corner of Tetsuo's mouth curves up. "I didn't think that would worry you so much. But it's all right, Kizu. I understand that you're not an adult, and you're not superman. You gave me time to realize that. You don't have to search for some way to rush to become an adult. You can rely on others. It's natural to be lonely when you're by yourself. So, Kizu. We will slowly... slowly become adults together."

Kizu begins to make love to him. "Not yet, Iriya. I'll teach you how to spoil me. Then you'll give me responsibility."

On the way home, Iriya muses. "It's good not to pour water alone into our full pools. We can fill each other's pools, though. Right, Kizu?"

On the day Kizu flies to Thailand, Ryouta and Hikone talk about him, and Tetsuo listens. "It's strange," Hikone says. "His feelings changed while he stayed at my house that month, didn't they, Iriya?"

"Yes. It's different than a month ago. Even if we move apart, we're walking together." To himself, he continues: "I shall always, always, always, embrace my overflowing pool as it is...."

End Afuresou na Pool

What follows is a short story on Hikone's past: Hikone. After that is a short story that ran in b-Boy Zips 10: Teatari Shidai ni Osu o Sasu Kimi wa Saiaku no Kiss. And then a seven-page doujinshi of Kizu and Tetsuo: Christmas Nightmare.