Piro stirred uneasily beside Ping. He couldn't shake the nagging sense of guilt; Ping had cuddled up against him and whispered an apology into his ear. When he'd looked into her big eyes he couldn't help himself; he'd kissed her. He'd kissed her without her asking or with any of the silly little games that they created in the short time that they had been bedmates.
Ping cried then.
At first he had been astonished. He didn't have any idea that she was capable of tears. He had asked her if she was okay and she had nodded, she had said that they were tears of joy.
Joy that he had kissed her all on his own.
And now he was lying awake waiting to see if Kimiko was going to slip out of her room to come see him.
At last he heard the faint sound of the bedroom door opening, soft footfalls going toward the sliding door to the balcony.
Piro rolled off the bed as quietly as he could. He approached the balcony door and looked back at Ping. He held his breath and he could hear her breathing softly. Then he slipped through the door to meet Kimiko.
Piro moved toward the whispered sound of Kimiko's voice, he could make out her slim form and he could smell the light scent of her perfume.
For a long time they stood side by side looking out at the lights of the city. Kimiko brushed her hip against Piro; his hand slid over to cover hers.
<It really is beautiful out here isn't it? >
Kimiko turned toward him, <Yes it is, and I like to come out here to think at night. >
Piro turned toward her, his mouth dry. <What do you like to think about? >
Piro winced, he couldn't believe that he had asked such a silly question. Kimiko just looked up at him and smiled.
<Sometimes, I think about you. >
Piro stood silent, nothing he had ever done had prepared him for such an answer. He couldn't imagine Kimiko standing here at night and actually thinking about him.
Piro felt himself leaning toward her, his hands trembling. She tilted her head up and closed her eyes.
Their lips met.
They kissed long and deep, but as Piro kissed her he thought of Ping in the next room. He knew that she would never protest, that she couldn't, really.
Still, he thought of Ping.
Kimiko broke the kiss and stepped back from Piro smiling. Piro had never imagined that she could be so bold. She caught the front of his shirt and began to pull it up.
Piro raised his arms as she pulled his shirt off over his head. Then he looked in wonder as she unbelted her gown and let it fall to the floor.
There, in the faint glow of the city lights she stood naked before him.
And she was beautiful.
Piro stood and stared, he didn't know what to do. Kimiko took his hands and began to guide them over her, touching, exploring.
Piro was entranced as she knelt before him, he watched as she dropped her hands to her thighs. Puzzled, he waited for what he was sure would come next.
As Kimiko knelt she had things running through her mind as well. She shook her head and stared at her hands. Why wouldn't it stop? Piro wasn't like that was he? He wouldn't hurt her. Would he? It was the photos; those horrible photos that Largo had sent to her.
Kimiko began to sob.
<What's wrong, Kimiko? >
She looked up at him and said the only English phrase that she knew, one that her former masters had made her learn because it amused some of her clients.
"I love you long time."
Piro froze in horror; he'd heard the line in movies. But to hear it from the lips of a girl that he liked and admired frightened him.
<Are you okay? >
Kimiko shook her head and rolled up into a ball, sobbing. What would Piro think of her now? How could she go on like this with him here?
Piro grabbed his shirt and pulled it on, he ran back into the apartment and fumbled for the light switch.
<Erika! Ping! > He looked at the folding bed and saw that Ping was gone. He burst into the bedroom to find Erika and Ping sitting on the edge of Erika's bed, both had been crying.
<Something is wrong with Kimiko! She's on the balcony! >
Erika and Ping both went from crying to hostile in a flash, Erika glared <What did you do to her? >
Piro looked at the two and shook his head; <I didn't do anything! >
Erika shoved past him and left the room heading toward the balcony, Ping grabbed his arm and dragged him along. Piro was astonished at her strength, he knew that it would be impossible to resist her.
At the balcony door Erika suddenly turned and glared at Piro, <Did she say anything to you? >
Piro swallowed and stared at her, she grabbed him by his shoulders and shook him, <Tell me! >
"I love you long time."
Erika recoiled as if she had been slapped then went out onto the balcony without another word. Ping led Piro to their bed and made him sit down; she slid her arms around his waist and leaned her head on his shoulder as they waited.
Erika was carrying Kimiko in her arms like a child as she took her to the bedroom. Ping leaned over and kissed Piro's cheek, <Its not you fault, Piro-kun. Hayasaka-san will tell you. >
Piro looked at Ping in confusion, tell him what?
After making several trips between the bedroom and the bathroom Erika finally closed the bedroom door. Wearily she turned out the light and sat on the bed beside Piro. After a minute she finally began to speak.
<Nanasawa..she made some mistakes a few years ago. She thought that she was signing up for a modeling job. Well I guess it was at first. > She looked at Piro then leaned against him, <They did bad things to her, they…>Erika put her face in her hands, she took a deep breath then continued. <I thought it was a good thing that she didn't have the nightmares when Largo sent those pictures. > Erika looked at Piro, <I should have told you...made her tell you, something...I don't know. >
Piro slid his arm around Erika's shoulders and pulled her close, <Do you need to stay with her? >
Erika shook her head; <You two were sneaking out there to be together weren't you? >
Piro nodded glumly; <It was her idea. >
Erika gave him a sad smile, <Oh Piro, don't make excuses. Ping and I had been expecting it sooner or later. After all, you are a man. >
Piro nodded sadly, <I'm glad you think so, I'm not feeling much like one right now. >
Ping looked around Piro at Erika, <Why would this happen? I don't understand. >
Erika reached across Piro to take Pings hand, <When she first came to stay here she would cry herself to sleep every night. She had nightmares. Slowly she got better; she even went on some dates. > Erika smiled, <When we were in Middle School we always competed for the same boys, I was a little older but I was such a tall skinny girl that she always beat me out. >
Ping and Erika both hugged Piro then, they were both whispering in his ears but he couldn't make out what they were saying.
The three all went to sleep on the folding bed; Piro squeezed between Erika and Ping. They talked long into the night and when they finally fell asleep they never noticed the bedroom door cracked open.
Kimiko pulled the door closed and smiled, she would get rid of the pills that she had palmed in the morning.
Kimiko's sleep was undisturbed by dreams.