As of this post, for the In These Words universe, I’ve read chapters 1-11, WAYF, NYM, FDNH, OoTN, MS, Equilibrium, FF, and the Undertow preview. Since this is not a review, there will be spoilers for some of the titles I’ve listed. Proceed with caution.
Before reading Equilibrium, I was of the opinion that David and Katsuya would part ways because Katsuya needed something David couldn’t or wouldn’t give him. Since Katsuya appeared to be the one holding out–not committing to I love yous and just being generally and subtly repulsed at the notion of being the focus of anything that happens from out of closed doors–I figured that even if David got fed up with that, he wouldn’t leave Katsuya because of it. David is generous, to an indulgent degree, and I think he would try everything within his means to make it work between them.
It’s no longer available, but I read a short called Our Day Begins When Yours Ends. It introduced the topic of BDSM into their relationship and David’s history with it as a pastime. In the short, Montoya told Katsuya that David had been involved in it as a Dom. David explained that he did it because his ex was into it, but it wasn’t a lifestyle. Katsuya was somewhat surprised to find out that his ex was a woman, to which David responded that he drives on both sides of the street (this remark gets a nod in WAYF). Katsuya asked David if, for his birthday, he’d let him experience it with him. David knew that if he just told him “no”, which is what he really wanted to do, Katsuya would just bypass him and seek it out for himself. So he tried to offer an alternative–like BDSM on a budget; he was both serious and halfhearted in his attempt. In retrospect, it was not a good time in his life and even when he was in the midst of it, he was constantly being pulled one way by the enchantment that befell him and the other by how uncomfortable it made him. He didn’t want to go down that path with Katsuya.
When all was said and done, his ex was not a person anymore, just the makings of a frame waiting to be erected and filled with the desires of someone else. Knowing Katsuya and his peculiarities, David couldn’t see anything good coming from that experience, shared or otherwise. But, he obliged and got in touch most likely with who we now know as M, and then prepared Katsuya for their appointment.
Even though that short is not strictly canon anymore, I think the motivations behind it still stand. It was kind of a precursor to Equilibrium and, with a bit of tweaking, could probably be seen as a prologue to it. It sparked a thought as to how their relationship might end. Up to that point I could not fathom a believable end to their romance. But if Katsuya wanted David to indulge him in something David didn’t want to or if afterwards Katsuya had changed to such a degree that he couldn’t be with David in the same way anymore, then, okay. If the dynamic that made them fit so well together is somehow mutated as a result of a shared experience, so that they, or at least Katsuya, can never see them the same way again, I can see them coming to an end.
When I read Equilibrium I thought my suspicions were confirmed. It felt like the beginning of the end. But, as is always the case, my brain doesn’t stop thinking about it just because I published my thoughts. On the FB comm. someone asked about Pressure Drop and whether or not the reason for David and Katsuya’s break up was revealed. I responded that it hasn’t and that it seemed like it would probably be revealed in a prequel story, possibly at the end of Equilibrium or whatever comes after that.
“Whatever comes after that.” There is already an “after that.”
One thing I neglected to consider was that Bad Company existed. I am afraid to read it because of the cover. There is something so appealing about characters who can be like the David who will hug Katsuya when he appears unexpectedly outside his hotel door, but can also be like the David who introduced his fist to Lane’s face outside of Katsuya’s place, but can also be like the David who can stand along side M. So, when you write a character like that, there’s a 90% chance I’m going to fall in love and when I fall in love, I get greedy and I want to see more. But at what expense? I don’t want to see David tortured or hurt or anything but happy. Then again, I want to know David better; I want to see his flaws and his weaknesses and I want to see what he’s like when he’s pushed to the brink. While today may not be the day, eventually I will brave the long dark alley that is Bad Company, probably when there are more parts, but for now, I’ll keep my distance.
That said, recalling its existence has made me reconsider some things. Things like the reason for and the timing of their break up. It’s not going to happen in Equilibrium. Equilibrium is set before Bad Company. Both are still ongoing, so I could be wrong, but it doesn’t make since for Bad Company to fall within the Equilibrium timeline. And when I consider that, I have to reconsider the road Equilibrium is taking as direct path to the end.
The way it’s set up now, it looks like their relationship survives M’s interference to some unknown degree. They agreed on five days. I assume they aren’t five consecutive days, because that would mean that they both have to put in for time-off and I don’t think G|P is going to forget how grounded the story is supposed to be and that synchronized time off will suddenly be easy to come by. So, five non-consecutive days. Of course there’s the chance that they could all be scheduled for after work, but David doesn’t have a set 9-5 schedule, so I’m still leaning on the days being spread out. Though, if so, I’ll be looking forward to the in between time. Especially if their connection is breaking down along the way. Oh, the tension, and not the sexual kind.
They are still together at the beginning of Bad Company, so unless they never make it to session #5 in Equilibrium, which would be strange as story structures go, they get through it somehow and then the events of Bad Company take place. David is going to go through something devastating and it’s going to change him. So where does that put us?
I don’t think Katsuya is going to leave David because he no longer cuts the same imposing figure, that would not be like him at all and I don’t think the idea is for us to hate Katsuya for leaving him, but to understand that leaving David will be best for both of them. Or best for Katsuya if David does something unforgivable–though I doubt that. I don’t remember where I caught a glimpse of it, but David comes up in conversation with Shinohara and Katsuya has a look of fondness when he speaks about him, so… I’m guessing he didn’t leave David because he hated him.
After the Bad Company experience, David will be on leave. Whatever he’s going to go through isn’t going to be something he can sleep off. Now the question is, will he aim to return to work, make it back and then realize he can’t take it and resign? Or will he come to that conclusion while still recovering and turn it into a permanent leave? Next question is, when does Katsuya leave? Before or after David resigns?
My worst fear is that post-Equilibrium Katsuya and post-Bad Company David get into an argument and I have to witness a damaged David throwing things a recovering Katsuya trusted him with back in his face. Even understanding the state David would be in, there’s no way Dr. Asano would be able to stay with someone who packs that kind of ammunition. He couldn’t trust him anymore. Regardless of what they had and what they’d been through, it would definitely be over.
Having read Equilibrium, the worst thing about knowing that they are going to break up is knowing that there was a time when Katsuya believed that he didn’t deserve David and that was one of the driving forces behind his desire to go through whatever the second half of Equilibrium has in store. Should this exploit perpetrated in hopes of drawing closed the curtains on Kastuya’s troubled past become the wind that blows open the door to their demise, I may need to go on leave myself. Good grief, it’s going to hurt.
Do I still think Equilibrium is the beginning of the end? Yes, I do, but just that, no longer the path itself.
Perhaps, in the end, it will be all of this, all of the little things that accumulate, all of the vague suspicions that gain traction when one turns out to be true, all of the things that need to be reconciled but can’t when there’s a constant reminder of some failure or disappointment. That would be nice, like letting us down easy, so there’s no way it’s going to happen this way.
I think I’m going to go on a brief ITW break and read The DOLL, The Bride (again), and Cruel to be Kind (again) while I let my thoughts stir some more.