Without Apology – Episode 1

Cool metal touched the bare skin of a wrist as thoughts tumbled about silently. Golden eyes revealed a heavy burden upon young shoulders. Lightly the blade moved up the wrist as though in practice. The blade dug a little deeper, pressing the skin down but not yet enough to break it.

“Whatch’ya doing?” Dasai’s irritated voice startled him into dropping the knife.

The clatter of it falling into the sink was loud in his ears. As it fell, Kuro was spinning about. Instantly, there was a smile upon his face. Eyes sealed shut saved him from making eye contact.

“Nothing! Just putting away the dishes. Guess I got lost in my thoughts again,” he nervously hedged around the island, the opposite way that Dasai was going. “I’m gonna do laundry in a bit. If you have any clothes you want washed, just leave them outside your door.”

“You’re not our maid,” Dasai went into the pantry to grab a snack.

“Oh, I know,” he was close to the door now. “But, I wanna help out as much as I can. I don’t mind. Really!”

“Whatever,” Dasai had a granola bar. “Mom’s got a supper meeting, so it’s just the two of us again.”

“I can make supper then,” one foot was already out of the room.

“You always do,” he seemed annoyed.

‘It’s only because home cooked meals are nice, but his mom’s too busy to do that for him.’ Kuro kept that part to himself. Out loud he asked, “how about pasta?”

“If you want,” the wrapper came off.

“Great, it’s settled,” Kuro ran from the room.

As he chewed, Dasai’s dark eyes looked down at the lone knife in the sink.

The laundry was going, the sink was filled with clean dishes, and the countertop was a mess. The towel he was using to dry his hands landed on an unused part of the counters. From the fridge he pulled the dough. Two mounds were placed at the ready, and a liberal dose of flower fell from his fingertips.

Elbow deep in flower was kind of a nice place to be. The marble counter tops were excellent for making pasta. Things were ready. Making pasta wasn’t hard anymore. It just took time.

The dough began moving through the machine as he cranked it. He did this several times working towards getting the right thickness. Each time it went through the length became more cumbersome.

Dasai entered the kitchen. In the brief glance Kuro had worked up the courage to take, it seemed that Dasai was tired. He’d been out of the house most of the day, coming back only a short while ago to grab a snack before he showered and changed. Dasai had been this way for years, always avoiding his home. It was hard not to think that Kuro was a large part of the reason for that.

“Want some help?” Dasai’s question seemed indifferent somehow.

Refusal of the offer came naturally to Kuro. This was the way Kuro had been for so long now that he wasn’t sure he would even know how to accept help at this point. This wasn’t his home. So, when Dasai said things such as Kuro not being the maid, he didn’t really feel the same way. He was the outsider taking advantage of a small family’s generosity that he didn’t have any right to. So, it became only right that he dedicates himself to making their lives a little easier. It really was the least he could do.

Quickly he shook his head, “that’s okay. You can relax.”

“Why?” Dasai was at the sink washing his hands.

“Well,” he stumbled for an answer that wouldn’t upset, “summer break is almost over. School will start tomorrow. You should relax.”

“It’s just supper,” Dasai pointed out as he took the end of the pasta, using his arms as a resting place so that Kuro could keep thinning it out. “Besides, I don’t do anything I don’t want to.”

Dasai was taller than Kuro. Standing next to each other, it was so much more than that which separated them. Dasai held himself proudly, his body was lean and powerful. Today’s boardshorts and muscle shirt gave strong muscles freedom. Shoulder length black hair was left loose around fierce, blue-hued dark eyes, and showed off glimpses of the piercings in his ears.

Kuro kept his golden eyes downcast so much of the time that he couldn’t really say what the world around him looked like. Soft, sandy hair helped hide him. It was kept short for the purpose of not standing out. He’d always been a boy slightly towards the frail side of small. Hard work gave him muscles, but they weren’t anything to show off. It helped his cause that his clothing was always chosen with the sole purpose of blending into the background.

“You always make your own pasta, don’t you?”

He nodded.

“Commendable.”

Kuro’s hand on the machine slipped. Quickly he fumbled to regain his grip. “I-it’s nothing special. Pasta is simple.”

“I didn’t say you were smart doing it. We have boxed pasta in the pantry. Would have saved you time.”

With a blush he shrugged, “but it wouldn’t be homemade then. Besides, you like ravioli and there isn’t any of that.”

He felt Dasai’s glare boring into the side of his head. He’d overstepped! He worked harder to get the pasta prepped.

“What do you like?”

He grinned widely without looking up, “oh anything is fine!”

“Tch,” the disgusted noise emerged. Anger brought an edge to Dasai’s voice, “I’m simply asking what you like. So, what is it?”

It didn’t matter what he liked! Why was Dasai pushing suddenly? He’d never cared before. Panic had a way of making Kuro’s eyes dance. He stumbled over words, “nothing. Anything. It’s fine!”

The dough Dasai’d been holding was mashed back into a loose ball between angry fists. It hit the countertop, and under the weight of Dasai’s muscles it slowly oozed between clenched fingers. He seemed to tower over Kuro, “when you figure it out, make that. I don’t want ravioli.”

He dusted off his hands and stormed out of the kitchen. Kuro was left standing dumbfounded where he was. A chunk of dough fell off the patiently waiting mound.

“Let’s go to the living room,” Dasai picked a drink from the fridge. He handed one over to Kuro.

Dazzled by the gesture, “but your mom doesn’t like us doing that!”

He didn’t see the eyeroll, but it was felt. The sneer gave it away, “then she should be here to tell us.”

“But,” he demurred uncertainly.

“Move it,” the order was barked.

It made him jump! Nervously, he followed Dasai.

The living room was a lush environment. Thick, white carpet over expensive tile. Ornately worked glass served as a coffee table. Expensive leather furniture was accented with insanely expensive blankets. And art that belonged in a gallery hung on the walls.

Kuro was distinctly out of place. The drink Dasai carried loudly hit the coffee table as he claimed his usual spot at the cross-section on the sectional. Kuro moved quickly to retrieve placemats and coasters to protect the expensive table that was more like an art piece itself.

Glaring over at him, Dasai snarled, “sit down and eat.”

“Yessir,” he squeaked! But still, two placemats were set down. He claimed a seat on the floor.

An audible sigh came from Dasai, “you can sit on the couch.”

“Oh, that’s okay,” he smiled nervously over his shoulder, “I’m good right here.”

“Whatever,” came the muttered reply.

The television came on. It too was more art than anything else. When guests were over, it displayed art pieces in rotation. That way Dasai’s mom could have different pieces of art without committing to buying them. She said that it helped her make up her mind about which ones she really wanted. In this moment, one of Dasai’s favorite shows came on.

“So, what is this?” Dasai asked around a mouthful. He was referring to the pasta.

Staring down into his bowl, “agnolotti.”

“Hhm,” the inarticulate reply was said as he stared at the television. “It’s good.” A shy smile was slow to surface.

Kuro was cleaning up the kitchen. The dishwasher was going, the dishes he wanted to wash by hand were done, and the plate he made up for Dasai’s mom was waiting in the fridge. After this, he could go clean the bathrooms. Laundry had only one more load that was just finishing up.

Dasai was out of the house now. He would often disappear during the days. Kuro never had the courage to ask where he went. It wasn’t his business to know. He and Dasai lived in the same house, but they weren’t equals. Far from it! It was a strange sort of pity that had brought him here, but he’d always known that pity wouldn’t last. It was important to earn his way.

The last pot was stacked away within the pantry. It was as he was stepping out of the over-sized room that he discovered he was no longer alone in the house. Dasai’s mom was entering the kitchen through the living room. She didn’t look a lot like her son who was a head taller than she. In fact, she and Kuro were similar in height. But the other two shared the same dark hair. She kept hers short, which framed her soft face. And where Dasai preferred the beach life look, she was always seen in a suit.

Kuro lightly brushed his hands over the hoodie he was found most often in. Politely, he lowered his head in greeting, “welcome home.”

“Kuro,” she was distracted, as she often was, by the phone in her hand. “Have you seen Dasai?”

He shook his head.

“Well, when you see him, remind him that I don’t like you boys eating in the living room.”

His eyes grew a little wider!

“There’s a water glass ring on my table. You two need to be more respectful. That’s a very expensive table and I don’t want my furnishings ruined. Be sure you tell him I said so.”

No one, including his mother, told Dasai how to act. But more than anyone, Kuro didn’t.

She was grabbing a water from the fridge, ignoring the plate Kuro had made up for her. He watched silently as she shut the fridge.

“Tomorrow, I’d like laundry to be done and for the living room to be tidied up along with the bathrooms.”

She was a businesswoman in all aspects of her life. But, at home she didn’t have her assistant. She was forgetting that school started tomorrow. It wasn’t so surprising since she hadn’t once been to the school her son attended. She never checked on Dasai or Kuro’s report cards. In her world, no news was good news, and it was preferable to her that it be kept that way. Dasai preferred it as well. So, he did his best to keep quiet.

Kuro nodded at her words.

“I know that you’re a good boy, Kuro,” her light touch landed upon his cheek. “I just need you to try a little harder to follow the rules.”

He nodded assurance.

“Alright, I’m getting changed and then heading out for a work meeting. I won’t be back till late. You make sure Dasai is home at a decent time, and that you both get your chores done.”

“Yes ma’am,” he nodded again. She left the room. Kuro turned towards the laundry room. The buzzer on the dryer was sounding out.

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