Closer to noon, somebody knocked on Kai’s room, he was still sleeping. One of the Sheikh’s servants came in and, bowing his head, said that the Sheikh wanted to see him. He had to get up, although Kai loved to sleep so much. It was a rare opportunity to sleep in a soft, comfortable bed, and not curled up under a soldier’s blanket in a barracks or dugout.
After taking a shower, after which he felt much better, Kai went to get dressed. He looked thoughtfully at the clothes hanging in the wardrobe. By order of the Sheikh, Kai was always provided with everything he needed in his room. And now there were several costumes to choose from some famous fashion designers.
“Arshad is always very attentive to me,” was a pleasant thought.
Kai chose a dark fitted suit in a fashionable youth style and a dark shirt without a tie, leaving a few buttons unbuttoned at the top.
Because of yesterday’s drinking and smoking, his head ached a little, so he took dark sunglasses. The sunlight was annoying now, causing painful throbbing in the temples.
But this quiet throbbing pain was incomparable with the dull pain that tore him from the inside. Yesterday he just went to bed and fell asleep. It was like a gift for him, just fell asleep and did not allow himself to think about what was happening.
And now – now his inner voice spoke to him. And what he heard was much more painful than the physical pain in his head.
He remembered Toyami’s words, and it was unpleasant to know how the man was taking him.
“But why? Where did I go wrong? Why did he decide that he could treat me like that? Why?!”
Kai sighed, trying to calm the unpleasant feeling of such thoughts.
“How unexpected it all is: I met a person on my way who could become my friend. We fought shoulder to shoulder. Although it is strange, I immediately believed him, not a second doubting him. But, instead of friendship, he, it turns out, wants something different from me! “
Walking down the corridor, Kai looked with contempt at his reflection in the huge mirror on the wall. From there a slender, short youth with green eyes and noble features looked at him.
“Loneliness is your lot! Deal with it. You will always be alone! Either they envy you and hate you, or want you like a f * cker. He won’t be your friend – he wants you. He only needs you to satisfy his lust!” – an inner voice mocked at him, penetrating into consciousness and pronouncing the words, which were used to people like him.
Kai stopped, pressed his hot forehead against the cold wall. It took him several minutes to cope with the raging emotions inside. Then he straightened up and walked towards the veranda.
The sheikh and his retinue were dining on an open veranda entwined with wild grapes, which created shade, letting only rays of sunlight pass through the leaves.
Everyone was sitting at the table: Sheikh Arshad, Gifar, Maksud, and Toyami. They were discussing something animatedly among themselves.
Kai was surprised that the Sheikh liked Toyami: he rarely allowed anyone to visit him. And here – just old friends – chatting so freely!
Kai again remembered yesterday – Toyami’s words about what he wanted from him. He drove these thoughts away.
“I don’t want to think about it! We just got drunk yesterday. Here’s the explanation! Toyami also drank. Stop beating yourself up. It’s not my fault. All this is nonsense.”
Kai greeted everyone and, without removing his sunglasses, sat down at the table on the soft sofa.
“Water, please,” Kai said politely to the bowed waiter.
“How are you?” Sheikh asked worriedly, watching as Kai sips water from a glass.
“Thanks, all right. We had a good lounge yesterday,” Kai drank some more water and began to look distantly aside.
“Sorry, gentlemen. I have to go,” Toyami said, standing up. “It was nice to meet you.”
The Sheikh got up from the table and hugged Toyami twice, as it was customary in his homeland. Gifar and Maksud did the same.
Kai was shocked by this touching farewell scene.
“Why did they accept him so quickly? The Sheikh does not get close to anyone at all. Keeps everyone at a distance.”
Only Kai had earned his recognition and trust over the years – and then for certain reasons. And here! He saw Toyami yesterday, and today they embraced like old friends.
“It is all strange,” Kai thought.
Toyami, having said goodbye to everyone, went up to Kai.
Kai, while outwardly calm, shrank inwardly.
Toyami looked at him intently, then said:
“I will keep my word that I gave you.” Then he bowed and left.
Arshad waited for Toyami to hide behind the veranda door, turned to Kai. He was intrigued by these words.
“May I ask what he promised you?” asked the Sheikh.
“Nothing … stupidity, all of this … passed,” Kai tried to remain calm, thinking about Toyami’s promise.
“Didn’t you understand anything?” The Sheikh exploded, unable to restrain himself any longer.
“What should I understand?” Kai asked irritably, realizing that he did not want to hear an answer.
The Sheikh moved to Kai on the sofa, took him by the shoulders, turned him around, and took off his sunglasses.
“Look at me!”
Kai knew that against the sacred person, which is precisely the Sheikh, one should not make sudden movements, so he calmly demolished everything.
“What should I understand?” Kai looked into the burning black eyes of Arshad.
“He loves you!” Arshad squeezed Kai’s shoulders with his hands.
Kai, realizing that yesterday’s drunken-stoned delirium had smoothly passed on to the present day, already wanted to escape from the hands of the Sheikh, but restrained himself.
“Can you let me go?” he said calmly.
The Sheikh gazed into Kai’s eyes. There was an emptiness in them. He didn’t see the love there. What a pity! He so wanted this emptiness in his eyes to go away. He did everything for this. But, every time looking into Kai’s eyes, he saw loneliness and longing there.
“Can’t you love him?” The Sheikh let go of Kai’s shoulders and now just looked at him.
“No,” Kai said harshly and indifferently.
“Exactly the same reason why I refused you.”
Arshad pushed Kai sharply and pressed him to the back of the sofa. He ran his hand over his cheek, chin, neck, then his fingers slowly began to touch the buttons of Kai’s shirt.
“But you allowed me something,” Arshad’s hot breath burned his cheek, the Sheikh’s face was very close.
“I was your prisoner. I had no choice,” Kai felt Arshad’s hand, it was hot, the Sheikh’s fingers caressed his skin. He could feel the warmth of his fingers even through the fabric of his shirt. Long forgotten memories appeared in the mind.
“Was your captivity at me so painful?” Arshad continued to caress his neck with his hand and the silk of his shirt on his chest. He breathed in the subtle scent of Kai’s perfume, which made him dizzy.
“No, I am grateful to you that you understood me and did not go for something that is unacceptable to me.”
Kai did not resist Arshad’s caresses, he just waited. He managed to cope with emotions. And now he was completely calm.
Arshad’s fingers unbuttoned the top buttons of his shirt, a gold cross on a chain flashed at the neckline. Arshad pulled back sharply.
“Will it always stand between us?”
“Yes,” Kai said in a cold voice.
Arshad again approached Kai, ran his fingers over his nervously compressed beautiful lips.
“Can we not talk about him anymore?” the voice sounded dry and indifferent.
Arshad removed his hand, sighed and, slowly getting up, returned to his place.
Kai put on his sunglasses again, hiding his eyes under them.
This unpleasant topic for Kai did not come up again. Arshad did not want to spoil their meeting, so the rest of the day passed unnoticed, in friendly conversations and a pleasant feast.
The next morning, Kai, warning Arshad, left for Gor.
Arshad also left the hotel the next day. As he headed to his plane in the limousine, he again thought about the conversation with Kai.
“Maksud, tell me, can anything change Kai’s decision?”
“Are you talking about his relationships with men?” Maksud sat opposite him, looking thoughtfully out the window. Hearing the Sheikh’s question, he thought about it and answered: “No. And that’s why you respect him. His principles and views, despite his young age, are unshakable. This young man has an iron will and a clear position in life. Remember, you tried to change him. So many temptations. So what?”
“But I could take what I wanted by force. He was completely in my power.”
“Are you ready to break him?”
“Not. Not ready. I love him. And so I want him to be happy,” Arshad paused, remembering Kai’s sad eyes. “He is alone, all alone! Have you seen his eyes? There are sadness and loneliness. He needs a friend, someone who understands his soul, will warm him with warmth, love.”
“He won’t accept this from Toyami.”
“Toyami won’t back down. I saw the sparkle in his eyes. He is also alone, for a long time alone. He also knows what the loneliness of the soul means. How strange that they met here,” Arshad looked at the houses, dilapidated from the explosions, past which they were passing.
“We do not know what awaits us and when. Let’s hope Toyami has the patience to break this wall that Kai has built around him.”
“Maybe he will let him just be by his side?” asked Arshad with hope in his voice.
Maqsud just smiled back.
From the hotel, Toyami was picked up by Kodji in his car. Kodji had affairs in the city and now they were returning to headquarters together.
“Tell me what has happened. I can see from you that something has happened,” the strange glint of his friend’s eyes did not escape Kodji. He knew him really well. Although outwardly Toyami looked as usual – he was completely unfazed.
“I met Kai.”
Kodji turned sharply towards Toyami. They sat side by side in the back seat of an executive Mercedes with the driver behind the wheel.
“Believe it or not, in one hotel with Sheikh Arshad. It turns out they are old friends.”
“Sheikh Arshad himself! Sheikh is handsome. I’ve seen him a couple of times at receptions. He has burning black eyes, aquiline nose. He is tall, slender. He has youth and beauty.” Kodji narrowed his eyes slyly. “Are they just friends?”
“Yes. I later spoke with the Sheikh when Kai was still asleep. Arshad hinted that he would be happy with our relationship.”
“Well, if the Sheikh himself gave the go-ahead,” Kodji laughed.
“Do you know what struck me in Kai? He speaks excellent Arabic. I did not immediately understand that it was him, although I heard a familiar voice when I passed their table. By the way, did I tell you that he has perfect Japanese pronunciation and perfect English?”
“What a gifted boy! At what stage is your relationship now?”
Toyami frowned and took out his cigarettes.
“He said no.”
“What happened between you? Tell me. I feel like there was something.”
“There was nothing. He drank a lot yesterday. I walked him to his room. I wanted to kiss, or rather, asked permission …” Toyami paused, nervously inhaled on his cigarette. “If I had not retreated, he would have laid me down with a couple of blows. Kai is fluent in the technique of martial arts.”
“You disappoint me. Don’t you think that you are in a hurry to rush things?”
“I’m in a hurry? I’m not seventeen and this is a war. What did you think I would run after him? I know what I want.”
“And what do you want?”
“You know,” Toyami threw a half-smoked cigarette out the window.
“Do you want to achieve this by force?” Kodji asked doubtfully.
“Yes. And I will achieve my goal. I’m not used to backing down. He was stronger yesterday. I was not ready for such a decisive rebuff. Daring boy, now it’s my turn! I promised that I would kiss him in front of everyone, and he would let me do it himself.
“And how are you going to do it?”
Toyami turned to Kodji, took his hand in his, and softly asked:
“Will you help me with this?”