As a panster, having a story evolve in a direction that wasn’t expected is nothing new. It can make the whole writing process exciting as the characters reveal more of themselves on the page and push the story away from the intended narrative, or at least make the journey a lot more twisted – frustrated. But the one part of the story that even as panster’s we don’t expect to change is the relationship pairings. The two (or more) characters that spawned the whole romance plot of the story in the first place. You’ve decide who gets who and that won’t change. It never changes and yet, as I write Tokyo Nights: Season One, that is exactly what is happening. The relationships between the characters are not just changing on the page but evolving.
When I started to write Tokyo Nights, I believed the story involved an undercover cop who falls for the yakuza member he’s tasked to bring to justice. Sure, maybe he’d get a little corrupted along the way – okay a lot – and his sense of morality, what is just within society gets challenged. I never expected him to also question how he viewed relationships and what constituted one. Yet, that is what is happening and story that was supposed to be about Ogawa and Shibata falling in love is evolving into one that involves a polyamorous relationship and will continue to develop along such lines beyond Season One.
It all began to change once I realised what the relationship between Ogawa, Angel and Masanori was, that it was deeper than a simple friends-with-benefits situation, though they wouldn’t go as far as calling themselves lovers either. The three men were inextricably tied to each other with a relationship that was built on more than just sex.
“Didn’t even know where to begin. It wasn’t as though Tatsuo had met someone before who tugged at him like Shibata did. He’d never needed to explain this bond he shared with Angel and Masanori that went further than friendship yet not quite lovers either. Intimately acquainted with each other, happy to share a bed, to fuck and to pursue relationships with others.” (Tokyo Nights: Episode Three)
Each getting something out of the relationship and not always the same thing. For Angel it is about safety, security especially on the nights when they don’t want to be alone. The need to be physically and emotionally close to someone, with or without sex, seeking out either or both Masanori and Ogawa. Other times they need to feel in control, to not drown in the feelings of helplessness that a previous relationship scarred them with and this meets Masanori’s need to relinquish control, to not be the strong unflinching protector.
And what does Ogawa get from them? He finds in them an unwavering loyalty, knowing neither Angel or Masanori would betray or abandon him. Leaves him to free to be vulnerable and show a caring side few get to see, a side of him that is hidden by his carefully cultivated – and happily done – cold-hearted image that ensures he is feared. The safety of being able to love.
“Tatsuo sipped of his coffee and pondered the question that only Angel could get away with asking. Angel and Masanori the only two people whose loyalty he would never doubt. Trusted them with his life as they did theirs with him. If anyone else had asked him that question, they would find themselves pinned against the wall, knife – or gun – pressed to their throat as he tried to determine if they were friend or foe. He had plenty of enemies within Tokyo and that wasn’t including the police. But Masanori and Angel were like family.” (Tokyo Nights: Episode One)
Then in walks Shibata and stirs everything up. He fears Ogawa, at first, and yet doesn’t hesitate to argue with him when others would.
“Making an impression was one thing, picking a fight with a dangerous man another entirely. Hisato was beginning to think he had a death wish. Fear travelled up and down his spine, prickling the hairs on his neck and he was pretty sure his lunch might end up on Ogawa’s shoes. Black high polished Italian leather shoes. If arguing didn’t result in a painful reminder of how deadly Ogawa was, then spilling his guts all over his shoes might do the trick.” (Tokyo Nights: Episode One)
The more time they spend together the physical attraction begins to evolve into something more for Ogawa and something that is different to what he has with Masanori and Angel. He fears scaring Shibata off he sees Ogawa with Angel before he’s had a chance to explain his relationship with the host. Ogawa experiences jealousy, an intense possessiveness over him that he’s never experienced with other two.
“Walking in and finding Shibata laughing with another man, one who dared to touch him, sparked an unexpected fury in Tatsuo.” (Tokyo Nights: Episode Two)
The only thing that holds Ogawa back from pursuing a relationship with Shibata, is trust. He needs to know that he can trust him, that Shibata will be loyal.
“Ogawa stopped him with a wry laugh and Hisato froze. “Fuck you’re so damned tempting… but I… don’t trust you enough.” (Tokyo Nights: Episode Three)
From the moment Shibata meets Angel, sees him first with Ogawa and the switch his attention to Masanori, his mind is thrown into turmoil. He is jealous, but unsure why or what of?
“The man’s brow furrowing as Angel wrapped their arms around Masanori, kissing him even when it was blatantly obvious Angel had just been with Tatsuo. Unsettled? No, Shibata was a mess of emotions, caught between jealousy and confusion as he tried to understand it.” (Tokyo Nights: Episode Three)
Angel speaking to him later and telling Shibata that he had nothing to fear from them, regarding Ogawa doesn’t make it any easier to sort out. For starters, Ogawa is yakuza and this attraction Shibata feels toward him shouldn’t exist and it could compromise the whole undercover assignment. Throw in Ogawa’s current relationships and the social expectations of what a relationship is that he’s been brought up to believe in, and everything becomes harder for him to figure out. (This is why it’s going to take more than one season… haha).
“Hisato still didn’t know what to make of the relationship the three of them shared. Sharing a partner wasn’t something he’d ever considered. It wasn’t that he was a jealous person, possessive he’d just been brought up to believe in monogamy to one partner. Yet, he wasn’t jealous of what Ogawa shared with Masanori and Angel, didn’t feel threatened by it. But sitting in front of Angel in the back of Crooked Hearts he also couldn’t bring himself to tell Angel to stay out of Ogawa’s bed. Entertained the idea of the three- four of them in it. Except it wasn’t…. hell, he still had no idea what it was and there was nothing between him and Ogawa yet to really warrant him wracking his brain over it, trying to find a label.” (Tokyo Nights: Episode Six)
But the one thing Shibata does know is that he is falling for Ogawa, hard and that he is walking a dangerous line. But then what does danger matter when once his secret revealed, Ogawa will kill him.
Tokyo Nights: Season One
The Yakuza and the English Teacher Series
Spin Off: Crossing the Line (Brian and Ken’s story)