Chapter Nine: Opening Up to Friends:

Lenard went out to check the mail. Bill, bill, junk mail, some survey thing…

“Hm?” he asked. Lenard came across a black and purple envelope addressed to him and Tai.

“Tai!” he shouted. “Come look at this.” He walked back into the apartment. Tai looked up from the couch.

“What is it?” he asked. Lenard held up the fancy envelope.

“We got this,” he said. Tai walked over for a look.

“What is that?” he asked. He picked it up and opened it. Inside was a dark purple letter covered in black lace. Tai turned it over and read the contents.

“Ah. We’re invited to a party on Monday,” he said.

“By who?” Lenard asked. Tai looked at the top again.

“Someone named Hotaru,” he said.

“Who is that?” his roommate asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. Tai looked down at the invitation.

“Let’s go the party,” he said. Lenard gave him a strange look.

“But we don’t even know this Hotaru woman,” he said. His roommate turned to him.

“How many friends do you have here in Japan?” he asked. Lenard tried to think.

“Um…” he said.

“Exactly,” Tai said. “You need more friends here.”

“But what about those at work?” Lenard asked.

“I mean outside of work,” his roommate said. “You need a support system when you transition.” Lenard gave him a blank stare. Tai grabbed him by the shoulders.

“Look,” he said. “I know it is not easy. But you need this. Remember what the therapist said.” Lenard nodded.

“Yes,” he said. Tai frowned at him.

“But?” he asked. His roommate blinked.

“But?” he asked.

“You don’t sound too convinced there,” Tai said. “What’s wrong? You can tell me. Go on. What is it?” Lenard lowered his eyes.

“Well… I am not sure if…” he began. Tai patted him on the shoulder.

“You won’t know unless you try,” he said. There was Tai’s weird charm again. He could woo over anyone with his calm voice and soothing words. Lenard dropped his shoulders.

“Fine,” he said. “We’ll go.” Tai drew back his hand.

“It’ll be fine,” he said. “I’ll stay with you through the first half of the party. How does that sound?” Lenard grabbed his hand.

“Alright,” he said. Already, he started to feel better about this.