There was no denying the fact that Jazz needed her own clothes. No matter how long she stared into Miho’s closet, there wasn’t much that could fit her smaller frame. And no matter what Miho said, Jazz actually liked wearing panties, preferably her own. So she already knew she would have to go to Kunihiko’s place and get some clothes. Sooner or later she would have to get all her stuff anyway, but she didn’t want to sneak in like a thief in the night nor did she want to run into Kunihiko. And that was the problem.
He hadn’t called. He hadn’t texted or send a pigeon or anything. She had left and he had done nothing at all to contact her and that was hurt her the most. So she was afraid to face him because as long as she didn’t it wasn’t really true. Their relationship was in a strange limbo between intact and broken up and she was afraid to tip the scale into the wrong direction. It was Schroedinger’s relationship. Scratch the cat, every girl in the world would understand this parable.
But she knew she couldn’t avoid it much longer and so she called Osanai to ask him for Kunihiko’s schedule. It was an innocent question but when she knew that he was in a meeting she also knew that he wasn’t at home. Simple, clever, perfect. And obviously Kunihiko’s day was packed so Jazz had all the time in the world to gather some clothes and leave her key on the table. Not the classiest move but it would work.
But first she had some appointments and was really grateful that her emergency dress was still in the office. She couldn’t wear the same outfit three days in a row. It was late in the afternoon before Jazz had the time and the gathered courage to head towards Kunihiko’s apartment. Her heart pounded furiously and her hands were sweaty and trembling, but she managed to unlock the door like the countless times she did before. Only this time would be the last.
With a feeling as if she had swallowed a rock that now settled in her stomach Jazz walked into the familiar rooms, quickly grabbed the most important stuff. Documents, some memorabilia, and of course some clothes. She was glad that there were still boxes around from when she moved in with Kunihiko. She felt as if that was in another lifetime and it wasn’t even a month. Usually even Jazz managed to get a relationship going longer than that. With a glance at the boxes she realized that she would have to call a cab. Or someone with a car. But it was a workday and the only one coming to mind was Takao. She wouldn’t call Takao. He was a friend of Kuni and might tell him, it was too risky. No, she would quietly keep packing stuff and call a cab. Tokyo taxi drivers had seen worse than a crying woman with moving boxes.
She quickly sorted through her clothes, only took what she really needed now. Panties and bras, a few dresses and blouses, skirts and pants. Pajamas. Shoes. Everything stuffed into a box and a bag. She looked around the bedroom, considering bringing some of her jewelry but that didn’t seem that important now. Her gaze stopped at a picture that sat on Kunihiko’s nightstand. It was the black and white photo Jinpachi had taken, the lines and curves of her body from her hips down to her legs. Hesitantly she took the picture and following her whim she pushed it into her bag. Her picture, her body, her memories.
Jazz would have preferred to wipe out every trace of her in this place but she didn’t have the time for that. Still, she could take all the private things, everything that meant something to her. All the other stuff would follow as soon as she had figured out where she would stay.
She checked the clock and was surprised about how long she had taken so far. She better left soon, there was no use in pushing her luck. Jazz had just stacked two boxes on top of each other when she heard the key in the lock. She froze.
Now she really felt like an intruder, a thief, although she only came to get her own things. She wouldn’t take anything from him; she didn’t want anything from him. Only what belonged to her.
“Jazz? Jazz, are you still here?” He sounded breathless, hurried. Oh god. OH GOD! What should she do? Hide? Run? No, she wasn’t that childish and although she dreaded the encounter that was inevitable now, she was enough of an adult to simply get over with it and walk out with her head held high. No need for panic. Okay, maybe a little panic.
“I am here.” She stood up and smoothed down her dress, waiting for him to arrive in the bedroom.
“Thank god, you’re still here…” He was panting, his hair a bit disheveled. He must have been running. She snorted a dry laugh. Yeah, figure. He couldn’t wait to give her the finishing blow, could he?
His gaze fell on the boxes and the bag next to her and he straightened up, took a few steps towards her.
“What are you doing?”
Jazz couldn’t look at him. She knew his face, knew every expression and loved them all, but now she couldn’t watch him. Maybe she better just got over with it, like ripping off a bandage.
“I’m packing.” She was proud that her voice didn’t waver, that she sounded calm and matter-of-factly. Because inside she was a whirlwind of emotions, fear and pain and defiance swirling around in her head and her heart, making it hard for her to focus.
“You want to leave?” Kunihiko sounded as if he couldn’t belief it, as if that thought hadn’t even crossed his mind once. Maybe because he couldn’t imagine that she would take charge instead of waiting for him to send her stuff to her.
“I already left, did you forget? Or didn’t you even notice?” She couldn’t hold back the slightly bitter, sharp tone, that poison that was eating at her from the inside.
His shoulders slumped a bit and Jazz had to bite her lip to stop it from trembling.
“I – the office was like crazy today. All the projects that got cancelled – they all wanted to apologize and resume business relations. We were swamped with work.”
That was his answer? That was all?! Jazz took a deep breath, let it escape again through her nose. Tried to stay calm.
Kunihiko looked directly at her.
“Was that you?”
She chuckled dryly. “Sure. I went to all those companies and slept with everyone there so they would give you another chance.” The frown on his face was quickly replaced with a sad look.
“I deserve that, huh?”
Carefully he took a step closer and Jazz backed off, trying to keep the distance between them. She couldn’t be near him, here in this room where they had been so much closer, so many times. And now? Now she was here, watching their love wither before her own eyes. It was just too much to take. If he touched her now she feared that her heart would just shrivel, a tiny lump of tissue and muscle, no room for any kind of feelings left.
“What you deserve,” Jazz began, voice thick with her suppressed tears, “is someone who is good for you. But right now? I can’t find it in me to wish you that.” She knew she was petty, that this wouldn’t help her at all. But she was a stickler for honesty and she wouldn’t start lying now.
“I think I already have someone like that.”
Again he stepped closer and Jazz had nowhere left to run. Another step back and she would fall backwards on the bed. With every step he came closer her panic grew. If he touched her now she would just break. There wouldn’t even be enough left of her to ever put her together again. She would shrivel and wrinkle and when he turned his back on her she would simply cease to exist. Poof, just like that.
“Jazz… why did you even do that?” His violet eyes were trained on her, he was so close that she could feel his breath on her face. “After our argument… why did you even try to help me?”
She was trembling now, afraid of saying something stupid, really stupid when she opened her mouth. She wanted to snap at him, tell him that she didn’t ‘try’ anything but actually managed to resolve the mess with his company, managed to put Akane Kujuro in her place, all in a day’s work, but she couldn’t.
“Because I love you…” she breathed, followed by a sob. It was so pathetic, she was so pathetic, how could she ever think she deserved love? If she had learned one thing in her life it was that she only picked the wrong men and now that she had thought she had found the right one, the wrong men interfered again, albeit only their shadows. She tried to calm her breathing and wiped her eyes. She could do this. She could be a freakin’ adult and get over with this.
“Because the thought of you losing everything because of me drove me crazy. Consider it my farewell gift.” Jazz almost choked on these words but now that they were out she felt better. Closure. Yes, maybe that had been the thing she needed. By avoiding this conversation she had robbed herself of the chance to make her peace with this.
Of course that was complete bullshit. Even if they managed to talk this through, to find some mature and calm way of doing this, a break up was a break up. It would hurt either way.
“I don’t want that.” Kunihiko’s voice sounded hoarse and the crease between his brows deepened further. “I am grateful that you did whatever you did, but I don’t want it to be a farewell gift. I don’t want you to go.”
His hands cupped her face and as predicted Jazz broke. The tiny cracks in her façade widened and deepened, giving way for her tears.
“The last few days… without you here – it just didn’t feel right. I know that there’s no apology that can fix this, and believe me, I never wanted to hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself. That is actually something I admire about you. That you don’t seem to have regrets.” He offered her a small smile and Jazz snorted a laugh.
“Ha! I have so many regrets. The guy that pilfered my savings? Marrying head over heels and finding out my husband’s gay? Only yesterday I-“ She choked, sobbed and needed to take a deep breath. “I – I did something horrible,” she finally admitted in a small voice, unable to look at him.
His hands tensed slightly before he exhaled audibly, but he didn’t pull back.
“It’s okay, whatever it is, you can tell me. We can get through this,” he assured her only to meet her accusing gaze.
“You think I slept with someone else,” she finally said, a bitter statement, not a question. He only winced for a split second but it was enough for Jazz to drop her head again.
“Okay, I get it. Will it always be like this? Will you always doubt me? Make me feel guilty?” She stepped back and plopped down on the bed into a sitting position. “I can’t change my past, you know? And honestly, I wouldn’t even if I could. I made mistakes but that is life. Everyone makes mistakes.” And she didn’t even consider most of them actual mistakes.
The bed dipped next to her when he sat down, too, not touching her yet but close enough that she could feel the usual pull, the need for physical contact in his presence. But she didn’t give in, not when she wasn’t sure where this would end.
“I’m sorry… you are right. Everyone makes mistakes and I just made another stupid one. I do trust you, really, it’s just – my biggest fear is losing you. Ever since I finally found you I’m afraid that something, maybe someone, will you take you away from me.”
Jazz sighed. “Jealousy is often a sight of insecurity,” she mused loudly. “The thing is, whenever you get jealous I feel guilty, although I know I didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t blame me for having a past.” She shrugged. “I don’t blame you for yours, either.”
He nodded slowly. “I know. I really do.” For a moment neither of them spoke, they just didn’t know what to say, afraid to break this fragile peace.
“Do you want to talk about it? The horrible thing you did?” he suddenly offered.
She sighed, wrung her hands in her lap. “I blackmailed Ai and Akane to take care of their mess by threatening to make some details of my marriage public. I betrayed his trust and – shit, I just sank down on her level.”
“I don’t think he’s mad at you,” Kunihiko slowly said.
“Yeah? How come?”
“He paid me a visit today. Apologized for his mother’s actions. Honestly, between him and Miho – it’s a miracle that I’m still alive,” he jokingly said, but Jazz didn’t laugh. “Anyway, I had a long talk with him and if it wasn’t for the call from the concierge, telling me you came here I would probably still sit with him and talk.”
She still stayed silent and he filled the silence with words.
“I don’t like him, not after everything he did to you, but I have to admit – I’m not better. I hurt you, too, and I’m not sure if you can forgive me. If I can forgive me.” He hesitated but continued talking. “You are right, I have been jealous. But not of the men who – who slept with you. After talking to your ex husband I realized that I’m most jealous that he got something from you that you now won’t give anyone else. You married him. Even without ever having slept with him… because you loved him so much. I think that’s what’s really bothering me. Not that you had sex with other, in this day and age that’s pretty normal, but that you have loved so much before.”
Again silence stretched between them, wrapped them in a blanket that was hard to shake off. But she managed.
“You are an idiot.” But there was no rage in her words, she was too tired for anger by now. “I never said I wouldn’t marry ever again, I just said I don’t want to get married right now. That I want to be sure this time. I always thought I would only get married once and if I was Catholic I think I would have gone for an annulment rather than a divorce, basically erasing this marriage from my record.” She laughed briefly. “Sounds strange, I know. But in the end it wouldn’t change the fact that I said ‘I do’ and believed in it. So can you understand that I’m scared of making the same mistake twice? Of being too eager, too blinded?”
He nodded slowly, weakly. In his mind he could understand, even approve of her caution, her strength of will. But his heart – well, his heart had a mind of its own.
Jazz took another deep breath. The hardest part was yet to come.
“So the question is simple. Do you think you can live with that? Knowing about my past, but not about the future? At least not the next months, maybe years? I don’t know when I will be ready to marry again, but I do know that I can’t imagine it to be anyone else than you.”
She bit her bottom lip, dragged it through her teeth, unable to look at him. If he said ‘no’… well, if he really said no she would pack her things and leave. So far she had no idea what to do afterwards, but she wouldn’t beg him to stay, to love her. She would quietly leave his life and move on with her own. Somehow.
She prayed he wouldn’t say no.
“I – I think there’s something wrong here,” he finally said and she closed her eyes, bracing herself for whatever he would say.
“I’m not the one making a decision. You have always been honest with me-“
Jazz flinched imperceptibly. She was honest whenever he asked her something, but she only answered his questions. She still held some things back sometimes.
“- and still I have made you feel bad about yourself, about your honesty. I know you said some things just so I wouldn’t say them and I understand. It would have hurt more and there would be no way to take them back.”
Jazz nodded. Some words couldn’t be taken back, they would always stay, lingering between them, piling up until they suffocated any feelings. That was why she chose her words carefully in a fight. Things said in anger or frustration were often crueler than intended, but once said they couldn’t be unheard.
Kunihiko kept on talking. “But I want you to know that I was wrong, that I feel deeply sorry for hurting you, for saying what I said and most of all, for making you think I would actually believe those words. I don’t. I never did. And even if, it shouldn’t matter. You are a strong and independent woman, brave and smart. I was a fool not to tell you about Kujuro-san and her actions against me and my company, I was a fool to think you wouldn’t do everything you can to help me. But I was also too proud to ask for your help.” He smiled wryly and Jazz inhaled sharply. Where was he heading?
“Pride shouldn’t be an issue between us. Jealousy shouldn’t be. I love you. I want to spend my life with you, with or without wedding, I don’t care. If you can forgive me I will never let you go again. And if you can’t – the please let me do whatever it takes so you can eventually. Let me earn your trust again, let me-“
She cut him off with a kiss, slid into his lap and wrapped her arms around him.
“Sometimes the only one that can make you feel better is the one who hurt you in first place,” she whispered against his lips. “And I really, really want you to make me feel better now. I’m fed up with feeling miserable.”
She didn’t need tell him twice. His arms wrapped around her, pulling her even closer against him he kissed her, the fear, the insecurity, the guilt – everything that had kept them apart melted away under their kisses, the urgency and longing that spurred them on. They didn’t even separate long enough to undress properly, their clothes ripped from them, discarded carelessly on the floor.
Without giving him much of a choice Jazz pushed Kunihiko down on the bed, pulled his pants and boxers just so far down that she could reveal his hard cock, her own panties just pushed to the side so she could sink down on him, her dress hiked up, his shirt half unbuttoned. There would be time for tender lovemaking later, now she needed to feel him, to reconnect in the most primal way she could think of. Her nails dragged down his half exposed chest, left red marks until she reached a button, ripped it off while yanking his shirt further off him. Her hands on his chest Jazz started moving, spurred on by his gaze, eyes dark and full of desire.
He had been right, not everything could be fixed with sex. But this? This worked. She hissed and groaned, head thrown back, eyes closed, focused on the physical sensations rather the emotions. There was still a lingering pain at the edges of her conscience and she knew it would take some time for it to fade, leaving only a slightly more sensitive spot behind. But she was willing to take the risk, praying that this time she wasn’t mistaken. He was worth it. Their love was worth it.
Kunihiko startled her by suddenly sitting up, hands cupping her face again, his thumbs wiping away tears she hadn’t realized shedding.
“I will never hurt you again,” he promised hoarsely, making her sob. An empty promise; he couldn’t possibly keep it, but his intention was true. So she wrapped her arms around him while he did the same, slowly rocked in his lap, bodies pressed tightly against each other, countless kisses filling the little space between them. He came first, encouraged by both sweet and dirty words from her lips. Only when Kunihiko stilled the movements of her hips she stopped, still embracing him. They panted and were sweaty, but she grinned widely at him.
“You are … incredible…” he chuckled, dropping a kiss on the tip of her nose. “I really don’t deserve you.”
“Don’t you ever forget that,” Jazz reminded him before she got off his lap with a sigh, heading for the bathroom to clean up. When she came back Kunihiko was lying on the bed, completely naked now and with a small smile on his lips.
“Hey you,” he greeted her and Jazz smiled back.
“Hey.” She crawled onto the bed, right into his open arms. There was still a lot for them to talk about, but when he started undressing her, without the rush from earlier, they both wordlessly decided to do the talking later. And after he had coaxed the second orgasm from her, growing hard in the process again, they had the tender lovemaking that soothed both their hearts until they could fall asleep, entangled in each other.
Breakfast the next day was spent in a relaxed, happy atmosphere.
“Have you called Miho and said you won’t come to work today?” he asked and handed her a bowl with fresh sliced fruit.
“I sent her a text last night so she doesn’t worry. It was a bit short but I guess she got what I tried to say, she sent me a ‘Show him who’s the boss’ back, followed by a couple of emojis and some lewd comments.” Jazz giggled and Kunihiko rolled his eyes, but smiled.
He started but Jazz raised an eyebrow.
“A bad influence?” she asked teasingly.
“A great friend,” he finished his sentence. Jazz hummed in agreement and took a sip of tea.
“You know you will have to beg to get back into her good graces, right?”
He sighed. “Yeah, figured so much. Maybe whiskey on the house for – hm, forever?”
Jazz chuckled. “That’s at least a good start. Just to ease your mind, she’s at least not the type who slaps you the ‘I told you so’ into your face. She gloats, and very much so, but only because she’s happy that everything worked out in the end.” She smiled fondly, thinking about Miho. “But I’m glad that I don’t have to stay at her place anymore. She’s got wandering hands when she’s half asleep, thinking I’m Goto…”
Kunihiko blinked a few times but didn’t say anything. They continued eating, thoughts wandering but only to happy places.
“So, are you sure?” he asked, for the umpteenth time that morning after putting his dish into the sink.
“I am,” she confirmed and smiled reassuringly. “I know I will get into real trouble, especially with Miho, but I think it’s the right thing to do.”
He grinned happily, violet eyes shining. “We are really going to do it?”
Jazz nodded and beamed back at him. “We are. Let’s elope.”