Mist in the Heart
It was a normal evening. It was the ending days of December and the awaited snow hasn't fallen yet down the excited people in Tokyo. Even the white Christmas many found to be romantic didn't take place. As for Takano Masamune, who from being a manga editor transferred to the more 'downhill' side of Marukawa, he couldn't care less.
"A millionaire who built a foundation for the homeless is the dream man of any girl. But he has a scary fetish. Who could this be?" Takano remembered, making him grit his teeth as he punched in the number for his floor. "Bullshit..."
He was in the middle of editing an annoying article for a gossip magazine published by Marukawa itself. The author assigned to him seemed to focus too much on this particular topic and wrote nothing else. The higher-up's reasoning was if Takano could revive a dying manga department, he could probably do magics to the full-of-dump-about-to-be-dropped-magazine of the company.
He gave a restless sigh. Editing a manga before seemed like directionless but he enjoyed it and never lost hope. Now, he could feel that he was really doing something ridiculous. Gossips based on groundless information. It was basically ruining someone else's reputation. The man, twenty-seven, with perhaps very little values himself at least had conscience. He was just there trying to gauge if he could change the direction of the shitty department to a different level.
"I gotta get a life...seriously..." Takano mumbled at the same time the sharp 'ting' of the elevator filled the space he was in. He fished for his key inside his pocket first before stepping out of the elevator. The moment he lifted his eyes, he stopped walking.
By Takano's door was a form of a crouching man. By the looks of it, he was drenched in sweat even when it was freezing cold. His messy hair was the color of honey dirtied by something. The man was even from that distance obviously was wearing his clothes inside-out. And though his shoulders were trembling as if he was crying hard, there was no sound. Which made Takano all the more uneasy.
Takano cleared his throat. He started frowning when the man didn't move an inch.
"Excuse me? You're in the way."
Takano smirked inwardly. A normal person would have asked the other if he was okay. But he had long lost the concern normal people have for others. He was the epitome of an apathetic bastard.
All trembling stopped from the stranger by Takano's door. Slowly, he lifted his face and looked up the man towering before him. His swollen eyes, the wildest green so out of place in this bland place stared at Takano with such intensity.
When it seemed like it was becoming awkard, Takano flicked his tongue and sighed.
"Sorry...but can you move aside?"
The brunette stood, eyes still fixed at Takano like he just saw a ghost. And then, for no reason, he started shedding out tears. He didn't say anything, he didn't cry out. Yet he was crying.
A man crying like that in front of another male, perhaps was an attention grabber. For when the old-lady neighbor of Takano from the other door stepped out, he gave Takano a weird and long look. And then gave the messy stranger a disgusted face.
"Ahhh...you...it's a good thing you found out she's cheating on you!" Takano said with his teeth clashing at each other. He motioned for the door and opened it. "Let's drink up all your sorrows moron...come in..."
The stranger stopped crying and just stared at Takano.
"Come on...you look stupid...what's the use of your bestfriend here if I wouldn't share your sorrows right?" Takano added to his lie, pushing the door open for the brunette to get in. The old lady knitted her barely visible brows and shook her head lightly.
"Takano-san, don't drink too much..." the old lady said with a forced smile before giving the brunette a scrutinizing look. She then walked away, turning a little to catch a glimpse of her neighbor's door finally closing.
Takano quickly headed for his kitchen. If he just let a crazy bastard, there would be the knives and other things he could use. Rummaging into the fridge for a can of beer, Takano watched the other at the corner of his eyes. The brunette just stood by the door frame looking scared.
"If there is one who should be afraid here, shouldn't that be me?" Takano asked, chuckling coldly. The sound of the beer can being opened filled the short yet long silence. "So...Please do tell why are you in front of my door?"
The brunette opened his mouth. But it seemed like he had so many, many things to say that he ended up not saying a thing. He looked down, clasped his hands before him and bit his bottom lip instead.
"Start talking now before I change my mind and toss you out."
"Uh..." the shorter male took a step forward, as if he was ready throwing himself before Takano any minute. "My...my friend's been kidnapped..."
Takano almost choked with his beer. He made a face that would surely hurt anybody and slammed the beer down the kitchen top that was in the middle of them.
"What the...? Go to the police!" Takano barked. "It's not like my door has a 'lost and found' signage!"
The brunette's eyes flashed a moment of anger before looking away. "Already did. They wouldn't listen to me."
The darkhaired man, who would seriously be charming if he learned to ease the creases between his brows laughed humorlessly and paced the kitchen.
"Go to another station then, it's not like they could really ignore a kidnapping case."
"But they are ignoring me!"
Takano stopped walking and glared at his guest. "And why is that? Any idea? If you come telling me you have a friend missing in that state..." his hazel-eyes ran up and down the stranger's appearance. "Look at you...I wouldn't spare you a glance myself. You should be thankful that they didn't bring you to a mental hospital."
Pale lips started gaining a deep red of color as the stranger bit on them. He fixed his eyes to Takano's beer sitting alone on the white top and his green eyes started burning with pleading.
"Our boss seems to be very interested with my friend. He would always harass my friend when nobody's looking. When my friend tried to speak up, they thought that my friend was just making it up or has gone crazy. After all, our boss is 'Mino-san'..."
That long speech of the stranger wasn't of interest to Takano. Not until he heard the name did his senses come to alert mode.
"Excuse me? Mino? That popular millionaire who just founded a charity for the homeless?"
The brunette nodded once. "He always have that smile on his face and a calm exterior...naturally...everyone would never be suspicious of him..."
Takano eyed the brunette seriously, his sarcasm mellowed down a bit. "Since when has your friend been missing?"
"Huh?" Takano grew irritated again. "Of course you couldn't file a missing report yet, it's not even a whole 24-hours that passed."
"You don't know what he can do..." the brunette rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. "He's ill...he could kill for it..."
Takano took a step back and locked his gaze at the pale stranger. That sounded creepy in all sense and honestly, the best course of action was to throw the green-eyed man out. He was ready doing that when the brunette started rubbing his eyes with the sleeves of his dirty pinkish long-sleeved polo.
"Please...I'm the only one who knows about what's going on with those two...help me..."
The brunette hiccupped and darted his green eyes at the still unconvinced hazel ones. "I've read a few things about that magazine with the rumor about Mino-san...the author's address is this place..."
"Huh? I am just that stupid man's editor!" Takano was about exploding at the realization that his address was being used without permission. Whether that was just by mistake, what happened to what's called 'confidentiality'? He looked left and right to perhaps thrash at something. But then, the pathetic guy before him made him tired all of a sudden.
"So you intended to give a tip to my writer is that it?"
It was past three in the morning. Usually, Takano Masamune was already deep into his always dreamless sleep. However, that time, his eyes were wide awake, drilling a hole towards the bare ceiling.
He turned to his side, rolled to the corner of the bed and finally, not withstanding the unease, he sat.
"Shit..." he groaned as he ruffled his messy locks of thick and silky hair. "Can't fucking sleep..."
Some five hours ago after the stranger who introduced himself as Onodera Ritsu left, Takano had started thinking. Mino-san was a very influential man in the sense of numerous charity works. True his current job was to edit gossip articles about this certain man. But if he delved into what Onodera was saying and it turned out that it was all a fat lie, not only will Marukawa will be sued for deflamation but probably his author and him as well.
So why then he agreed to 'help'?
"What help do I need to do anyway?" Takano grumbled as he left his bed and went to the curtainless window of his room. From a distance, the blinking lights of cars heading north seemed like a glittering show. He couldn't appreciate them though as what he was seeing from a far was the memory of that weird guy whom he just met.
He couldn't turn away even when his smart brain was telling him. Instead, he produced a ridiculous lie of them being bestfriends just so a mere neighbor would back out from their conversation. He even let the brunette in, listened to the story that seemed like unbelievable. And the worst, even when his sensible self was saying this Mino-san was just a victim of pubic hatred for being liked by many, a part of him wanted to believe Onodera as well.
"You don't know what he can do...He's ill...he could kill for it..."
There was no way that those sincere emerald eyes looking at him straight could be lying. That, or Ritsu was such a great actor he could win an award.
"Takano-san...why are we here?" a soft voice asked. Ritsu's huge eyes were staring hard at the sign of Police Station X Division X. The blue color was almost fading, and the occasional stern-faced men going in and out didn't help with the heavy impression. "I told you they wouldn't believe me..."
The nervousness in the voice sounded to be overboard that Takano just shrugged as he turned off the ignition of his car. "I have no intention of playing spy with you you know? This is the best course of action."
The man on the passenger seat appeared to have shrunk as he started fidgeting. Takano watched the strands of hair the color of gold in the ray of the sun fall to the side of this weak looking man in silence.
"You don't have to be so faithless with our police Onodera..." Takano said, glancing at the station back to the person beside him. "I have a good friend there. We can ask for his assistance regarding this rather than us proving that Mino kidnapped your friend all on our own."
Ritsu lifted his face and threw a somewhat fearful glance at the station before them. "I don't want to talk to them. I don't think I can talk to them...the...the way they have ignored me...I can't...I'm scared..."
"Tsk...how much of a woman are you? You're a male for crying outloud grow a backbone..."
Obviously offended, not to mention hurt, Onodera just looked down on his knees. He seemed to be on the verge of going insane. Takano could sense it somewhere in the air.
"Fine..." Takano grumbled. "I'll go in to talk to my friend and just stay here."
"What else can we do?" the darkhaired man asked as he hopped out of the car. Before slamming the door close, he bended and looked at Ritsu with an annoying smirk. "Do you perhaps want me to carry you in there?"
Before Ritsu could react, his protest was drowned out by the loud shutting of the car door. He pursed his lips and sat more relaxed on the seat. He fixed his eyes at the dashboard counting the seconds that was passing by without the person who spared the time in the world to help him.
"What? Where on Earth have you heard that?"
The brawny man, skin deeply tanned by the sun with pale blue eyes gape at Takano. His serious face and that baffled expression didn't look well together he appeared to be stupid.
"It's unbelievable right?" Takano mumbled as he crossed his long legs stretching on the floor. His hazel eyes looked disturbed as if the face of his friend was a confirmation of this going nowhere.
"I didn't mean that!" the police officer whose name tag said 'Kagami' loosened his tie in a fast manner. "I knew something is wrong with that man."
The small office that got more crammed because of untidiness suddenly felt cold. The stupid expression on Takano's friend gone, replaced by a thoughtful one.
"I've always disliked people who smile like that."
Takano raised a brow. "Oi...you don't sound very professional to me. It's just your personal judgement, you could get fired if you go blabbering things like this."
"No, no, Takano you don't understand. This is the intuition of justice I am telling you..."
Takano rolled his eyes.
"I smell bloody dirt on that millionaire. The more perfect a man seems to be, the dirtier they are underneath... that's what I learned from being in the service."
The phone on Kagami's table started ringing but he ignored it. More like he couldn't even hear it.
"Where's the person who told you this?" Kagami asked excitedly. "I want to hear the account personally."
"No use," Takano replied as he looked at his watch. "It seemed like he developed some phobia with you guys. He had some bad experience with the other police stations he tried to ask for help..."
"Eh...'he'?" Kagami looked at Takano incredulously. "Dude I thought you were helping a drop-dead gorgeous girl for you to drive all the way here in the cold. It's a miracle you're acting his communicator!"
"That's your problem? Be worried about the conduct of your colleagues."
Kagami crossed his arms. "No...it's not...I mean...here you are, the Takano I know couldn't even be bothered if I sprawled dead before him, and here you are acting as that guy's spokesperson? Kind of interesting..."
Takano shook his head slightly as Kagami started scribbling down something on a scratch paper.
"I've always wondered why you still aren't settling down...perhaps...Takano you're...?"
"Parhaps what?" Takano threw with a cold smile.
Kagami just laughed it off and changed the topic completely.
"I'll gather my team at around 3 am two days from now Takano. We'll infiltrate the house then..."
"WHAT?" Takano almost shouted. "Hold on a minute, shouldn't that be reported to your superior first or something? You don't even have a permit to search you moron..."
Kagami waived the scratch paper in the air and grinned. "Nah...superior my ass. If I wait for their go signal, who knows what might happen next? Besides...if that freaky Mino really did kidnap someone, then goodbye reprimands hello praise for me!"
"And what if there isn't anyone? Hello being fired then?"
"Come on Takano...you wouldn't be here if you don't believe with that 'Onodera Ritsu' right?"
That made Takano close his mouth.
Takano who was currently boiling something in his kitchen sighed. He watched the bubbles and the vapor disappear with a crease on his forehead.
"Why am I cooking now again?" he breathe out as he tossed in the last ingredients into the boiling mixture. He turned off the heat and decided to check on his guest who he left watching TV. Not only did he help the guy in terms of Mino, he was also letting the man watch in his TV, sit on his sofa, and now cooking dinner for two.
The brunette had fallen asleep while on the journey back to where Ritsu had told him to drop him off. Not wanting to wake up the haggard looking male, Takano chose to just head to his place. He was even willing to carry the sleeping man up to his apartment. But Ritsu opened his eyes then.
As soon as Takano stepped into the living area, an eerie silence of the night greeted him. He couldn't even hear the news clearly as the volume was way turned down. However, Ritsu seemed to be too absorbed with what he was watching. An inauguration of another foundation no less by Mino.
From that distance, suddenly Takano thought that what if the reason this guy wanted his friend back was because instead of 'saving the friend' he just wanted Mino to be his?
"Shit..." Takano chuckled inwardly. "That didn't sound fitting..."
About ready to call on to the brunette that dinner was ready, Ritsu suddenly turned to look at Takano. Eyes meeting suddenly like that, Takano found himself unable to say anything for a moment. Master of selfcontrol, he cleared his throat and glanced at the TV as he walked to sit beside his guest.
"You can turn the volume louder if you want to you know...there's the remote before you."
Ritsu shook his head lightly and smiled. "It's fine...I don't want to hear all the praise for him anyway..."
Ritsu continued staring at the flatscreen TV, all the while instead of watching the TV, Takano's eyes were fixed at Ritsu's profile. His mind was blank. There was just the want to look at the man even without reason. Even that made him think he was becoming weird.
It was the first time he got a clear and long look how long the brunette's eyelashes were from that angle. Delicate features for a man was something he had never gave a second thought. Takano didn't feel the urge to touch or even the urge to feel. Merely looking, there was a little sense of satisfaction he couldn't place.
All the staring that Takano did made Ritsu look to the man's direction. His huge eyes questioning, he cocked his head to the side a bit.
"I'm just curious," Takano started, resting his arms behind his head. "Is that friend of yours really that important to go all this far?"
"I just have to take my friend away from Mino-san..."
Takano started flicking his lighter on and off. "You like her?"
Ritsu turned his head to Takano's direction with obvious shock.
"Well...Mino's interested with her right?"
"My friend's a male," the other replied straightly.
Ritsu smiled a patient smile, his haggard features seemed to ease up a bit. "It's homosexuality, queer and all that. I understand Mino-san likes him. But he's uncontrollable..."
Takano just allowed the silence drift in the midst of them even when the news anchor looked very lively in what she was saying. It was a shock, definitely. It was a shock that he wasn't the least bit disgusted about it. More so that the idea was just plain like normal.
"So...are you one of them? You like that friend of yours too?"
"He's an orphan like me...he's the only one I got ever since...we've been through a lot..."
Takano closed his eyes as if tired. "So you're in love with him then...no wonder..."
"I'm in love with someone else..."
"Oh...really..." Takano said mindlessly.
Massaging his nosebridge, Takano produced a sigh before opening his eyes. When he looked at Ritsu, the brunette was looking at him intently.
Not liking the sudden intensity, the sudden flare lingering in between their gazes, Takano stood.
"Come on..." Takano said as he hurriedly headed to the dining area. "...dinner's ready."
The basis of Kagami proposing they do the infiltration after two days was with ground. Mino, announced having an appointment with an international sponsor left the country at 11 in the evening. The flight to South Korea taking no less than three hours, his itinerary and hotel, everything was plastered all around the news.
Thus, Kagami's team who acted always without their superior's consent headed to the millionare's mansion. Takano with Onodera Ritsu's insisting of wanting to see his friend personally leave that place drove as fast as lightning to get to the place as well.
If Takano was amazed at the extent of the how huge the property was, Takano kept it to himself. He just hopped out of his car, following Ritsu who hurriedly went out the moment the car stopped.
"Oi!" Takano shouted. "Don't run away on your own."
With Ritsu not listening, Takano chose to run after the person who was dragging him here and there anyway. He silently cursed at the cold, noticing his companion wearing not the proper clothes for the season.
With the police searching at all possible places, Takano just followed Ritsu without questions. After all, the man had been working for the millionaire, he knew the place better.
The winding staircases, long and maze-like hallways would surely make one lost their way. It was a running without ending as the rich carpets drowned their movements.
"Takano-san...I think it's here!" Ritsu called, pointing at a huge door.
"Here?" Takano huffed and wiped the bead of sweat against his forehead. Even from the dim, with only the moonlight from the huge windows their guide, Takano still clearly saw the relief that Ritsu had. He felt a sense of relief and comfort from it too.
Takano stepped before the door, making the brunette move out of the way.
"I'll open it..." Takano whispered as he raised his hand to the ice-cold knob.
Pushing it with very minimal strenght, it opened without resistance. The loud creaking of its hinges gave them the impression of being in a foreign thriller.
"I'm going in first Onodera...stay here."
Onodera nodded and threw a worried look inside the dark room. "Be careful..."
As soon as Takano stepped in the room. He felt so cold as if he was in the middle of a blizzard. He felt his way in the dark by sense of touch against the padded wall. Roaming his palms in all directions, he finally felt the light switch and without hesitance turned it on.
He was then met by just a regular library. Book cases from ceiling to floor, a study table and a steel cabinet resembling a vault.
"Don't come in until I say so!" Takano instructed as he stepped towards the study table.
There wasn't anything else on the neat table aside from folded things. When he narrowed his eyes, they were folded jeans and shirt and cardigan. Takano glared hard at them, it seemed like he swallowed his own heart and was stuck in his throat.
As the police were busy searching all over the mansion, Takano forced his feet towards the stainless cabinet. Without thinking he pulled open the door.
It wasn't a cabinet. It was a fridge. Then he saw a body. A naked body.
Peacefully sleeping with the frost building up on the blue lips, the snowy specks made the hair sparkle in a strange way. The smooth skin was as white as paper. Blemish free as if it was a doll showered with great care and love.
Takano swallowed hard. He reached out to the cheek, brushed his thumb ever so lightly to the closed eyes down to the cold lips. He felt like caressing a block of ice.
The darkhaired man for a reason unexplainable suddenly produced a pained gasp.
The body in the fridge looked so damn familiar.
Takano furrowed his brows. Flashes of things that happened the previous days came running to him like a raging river.
"Don't drink too much, Takano-san..."
The old lady was giving him weird looks because he was actually alone by his door that night.
"Where's the person who told you this...and here you are acting as that guy's spokesperson?"
"Did he replace the beer and the bread here? He shouldn't have."
They weren't replaced, Ritsu just couldn't eat them in reality.
He ever so slowly turned behind him, afraid to do so but had to. When Takano looked behind him and roamed his eyes around and towards the open doors, there was no one else. He could well remember Ritsu standing there. Heck it was him he even followed to get here. Except for the sound of the voices of police coming close to where he was, the room was just occupied by him and the dead body.
His friend, the person enjoyed looking without a reason, the brunette who clung to him and demanded help, the man who barged into his life was no where to be found. He barged out without warning.
He darted his unfocused eyes back to the open fridge, with his heart beating wildly against his chest. He thought the frost had reached his heart. He felt utter pain he never had felt before.
Little by little he moved back without knowing as if escaping this view before him would help him. Until his back kissed the cold walls, he just fixed his eyes at the misty view floating out of the open door of that steel colored appliance.
When the police came in, they eyed Takano with concern. Their informant was crying.
"Takano? What's wrong with you?" Kagami asked.
Takano didn't even look at his friend. He had clasped his hand to his mouth, his chest about bursting from shock and confusion.
"It's Ritsu..." he whispered the name only he could hear.
"That body there, it's Ritsu..."
"What? Isn't that the name of the person who went to tell you...he even went with you right...?" he was a police with wide understanding not excluding things of the unthinkable. He threw a thrown-off glance at the mob of police examining the body in the fridge. And then something hit him hard and understood everything.
There was only a word that Takano's friend managed to utter while his hair on his back was standing on end. "Shit..."
He couldn't careless at the uproar it caused into the society. The well-loved man, a genie for the children, an inspiration for the many turned out to be one heinous bastard. Mino, the millionaire who loved the 'orphans and homeless' loved Onodera Ritsu. Wanted to keep the man for himself. Killed him and preserved him in the fridge.
With this, Mino-san's passport was cancelled, the order from Japan was to send the man back to the land for proper litigation.
That was the news for so many days.
But like how Ritsu 'watched' news before, he never turned the volume on. For hearing them talk about the crime made the reality of things harsher and more real. This event seemed like just a product of his stress with his new department. He had forced himself to believe so.
But he failed.
Takano turned on the faucet. The warm water came rushing towards his face down to his naked body. He wasn't feeling cold yet he was shivering. He had turned his face towards the shower, trying to betray the unstoppable tears from the corners of his eyes.
"Shit..." his voice echoed through the tiled walls.
The measely days they were together, Takano had never thought of falling in love with another guy. He was sure he wasn't in love with him.
If he was sure of something, it was that he was on the course of 'falling'. That in itself was where the frustration was coming from. He already learned there was no way...why then could he still feel himself falling and falling?
Had he not walked out the night when that brunette said he was inlove with someone and asked him who it was, would something be different? Had he not known that Ritsu was actually already dead, would he continue falling until he couldn't anymore contain it?
Takano punched the glass. It didn't break and he just hurt his knuckles. When he looked at it, he couldn't even see his reflection from the fog. He chuckeled. This was utterly ridiculous.
"How can you do this to me?" he whispered to himself. "Your friend?...You were talking about your self all this time...and I was dumb enough not to notice..."
The fog on the mirror grew thicker, or perhaps it was just Takano's imagination. But it did. And against the mirror, flashed somewhat messy characters.
Instead of being afraid, Takano just stared at it hard.
"I can see you before...why can't I see you now?"
Slowly, as if a dream, the reply took form on the glass as if a finger was brushing on it. "Because your mind already knows the truth...it should be this way..."
Takano couldn't talk anymore. The drowning sound of his shower prevailed as he brushed his own finger against his foggy mirror.
"You're going somewhere I can't reach...that's unfair..."he wrote.
"Are you mad?"
"No..." Takano replied. "Just sad..."
Takano was about writing the words he had never thought for anybody, but changed his mind. He just stared at the foggy mirror. Why make a promise and tie that was useless in their situation?
The darkhaired man laughed. "I'm glad I was able to help you."
Takano wouldn't say those words, neither Ritsu. In their situation, things could be easily seen without being uttered. They just kept it in their hearts knowing they had to go separate ways.
That dreaded and powerful word would just bind them.
"Thank you..." the reply came after a long the sense of being with someone vanished in an instant. Takano then knew that he was again alone.
Clutching his fists, Takano painfully sighed. "Rest well..."
After the shower, Takano headed to his work, finally believing that where there's smoke, their's fire. Ritsu was something like a passing mist in his life. He was part real and part illusion. Takano knew he was there, yet he wasn't.
Their lives suddenly meeting in this crossroad taught him things he would have never paid attention;
He had to go on living back to normal. For he and Ritsu were destined for each other. But they weren't meant to be together.
chapter end notes:
hello! been a while! studying takes up so many hours of my time nowadays so for the updating of my other stories, please refer to my profile! XD
hahaha...i made them not together this time! XD i was just struck with the thought that there are people who grows old alone. because of so many many many reasons XD
gotto go to school now! ja ne!
please share your thoughts and thanks for the continious support!