This is an illustrated prequel novel for In These Words. I suppose I saw this coming and it feels like the beginning of the end.
David introduces Katsuya to someone from his past, a man named M. M runs a BDSM outfit and, while it isn’t clear how the meeting came about, it is clear that in it’s aftermath, David wishes it never happened. Katsuya, being himself, is intrigued and after receiving an invitation in the form of a collar, becomes more so. David warns him against having any further contact with M, but true to Katsuya’s complex opinion of himself, he feels that he may be the exception to the rule. And to that end, he makes an appointment with M to satisfy his curiosity. But he doesn’t tell David.
David feels that Katsuya doesn’t truly understand the type of change someone under M’s care would go through, but Katsuya thinks he does and thinks that it will help him find some kind of answer to a question he’s had for a very long time. It’s painful watching them step through this grove of thorns as David tries to cut a path back to the prick-free meadow without being a prick about it and Katsuya practically frolics and cartwheels his way deeper in. Katsuya’s not giddy or anything and there are moments when he pauses, but, for the most part, he’s pretty one-track minded about the whole thing. What’s worse is that he’s doing it knowing how it is doing something he’s never seen to David. He apologizes for making him worry, but not for taking action.
M tells David that Katsuya is going to leave him and destroy him in the process–he is completely certain that it’s Katsuya who will end things between them. I agree. I’ve been in agreement since I read New York Minute. Up to a point, my simple thought was: I don’t know what it’s going to be about, but when they break up, it will be a decision that Katsuya makes that David has to live with. From the beginning, their chemistry was undeniable, palpable, and I couldn’t imagine them falling out of love with each other. But since falling out of love isn’t always the reason people walk away, I knew it would have to be about something Katsuya wanted that David was incapable of giving. Not like requited love or fidelity, something a little more fundamental to who Katsuya understood himself to be and what that person needed, something I can’t quite put into words, but when it comes up, I’ll probably say, “yeah, that.”
Way back forever ago there was a two-part short written about Katsuya’s birthday called Our Day Begins When Yours Ends. I believe it was on Kichiku Neko’s LJ page; it’s been since taken down, most likely because it now conflicts with canon (I still have it saved in a PDF though!). It could be seen as kind of a prologue to Equilibrium. Katsuya’s interest and David’s resistence were present, but there are some other details that have been reworked or eliminated in favor of the story Equilibrium tells. Nevertheless, I think that the essence of the piece and the feeling it gave me and the thoughts it stirred in me are still valid. And it was from the conversation they had over Katsuya’s birthday steak that I could see the path to their end. Not clearly, but clear enough that the story being told now has resonated with me in a way that it wouldn’t have otherwise. It would still be great and I think I would probably still see it as a prelude to their outro, but without the feeling of suspicions being confirmed.
Most people into the ITW-verse understand that David and Katsuya will come to an end, but I can’t imagine that any of them seeing things the way I do can come away as anything but a little heartbroken after reading this. Maybe now would be a good time for a hug.