hello? did anybody miss me? hohoho...sorry for disappearing for so long. so in coming back is another one shot i came up with and i hope you'd give it a try! enjoy and i hope you be immersed in their story.
It was almost the end of summer. And during these times, raging rain wasn't unusual. At night, when everyone was tucked comfortably in their beds, ten-year-old Usami Akihiko would just stand in front of the window. Watching the rain glimmer in the dark.
Silently he would hold his notebook and pen. And as if in a trance, would write words that didn't make sense. He'd just write what he could see. And from all those jumbled words, would come an idea he'd focus on. Before he knew it, he was already writing his very own tale.
"This villa...and this rain would make a good setting for a murder story..."
In his brain, young Akihiko could imagine there was a dark figure running about outside the house. Left and right, whirling around as if he didn't know what to do, that figure would stop. Then the figure under the raging rain would be looking at his hands soaked in thick blood. The lightning giving the figure a clear view of his hideous hands and the blood running from his clothes to the mud below his feet would be like a river streaming.
"Eh...that isn't the body a villain should have..." young Akihiko commented as he narrowed his eyes. "...should be bulkier and taller...he looked like a weakling..."
A loud crackling sound vibrated in all directions. It was so strong Usami even felt the walls of their vacation house shook a little. The succession of lightnings, illuminating the view before his window was painful in the eyes. But the young kid wasn't able to close his eyes or even flinch.
For the 'weakling' in his mind, soaked in blood was still there. Looking straight up to him. Surprised lavender eyes to a piercing red. Eyes of a serpent, or a devil glowed two storeys below him.
"..." the notebook and pen he was holding fell on the carpeted floor leaving no sound. The kid knew that what he was seeing wasn't a product of his imagination. This time, it was real.
The young master, instead of being afraid, hurriedly pushed the windows open. The raging wind gushed into his room that he had to close his eyes for a moment.. The white curtain, entrancingly billlowing at the sides, his ears filled with the howling sounds of the storm.
"...!" the young boy wanted to say something as he pushed his body as far as he could from the base of the window. But he didn't know what to say. And thus just ended up with his eyes glued at the glimmering red eyes in the dark.
The figure lowered his hands on his side and appeared to be wiping his hands clean against his muddy jeans. In an instant, as if the guardians of weather got tired of the night, the rain stopped. The clouds swiftly moved away. And the moon emerged illuminating the blanket of dark blue with its glimmering studs.
"..." Usami gulped. The figure had his head bowed the entire time he was wiping his hands and the moon showed the sticky red stuck on the figure's chest and stomach. Ready to swallow what hideous face the figure would show him, Usami gripped the rail tightly.
The moment the figure lifted his head, young Akihiko felt the world left him behind. A feeling that he was in a different place pierced him so strong he forgot to breathe.
It wasn't a face of a monster looking at him the next moment. It wasn't a face of a devil, or a face of a man. It was a face of a stupid looking teenager about nineteen smiling at him. The pair of the supposedly scary-looking red eyes, was actually as beautiful as a blazing emerald. The green was so vivid as the darkness contrasted in it. Its color being emphasized by the silvery light the moon above was giving.
"Hello!" the emerald-eyed 'boy' started, waiving a hand still with traces of maybe dirt, or maybe blood. "...just passing by!"
The figure turned on his heels, sending splashes of water around.
"Wait!" the stupefied young master of the house managed to call out. "Are you...are you a va..."
"Akihiko-sama?" a voice of an old man called, accompanied by a knocking to his door. "Is something the matter? Akihiko-sama?!"
The thin unindentified form not far from young Akihiko halted. Turning his head slightly towards the young, curious boy, he smiled. He smiled, purposely showing long and sharp fangs.
The door clicked and Akihiko spun around to see the door blasting wide open.
"What's going on?! That's dangerous! Please don't lean there like that!"
If a hint of annoyance passed by his young face, it wasn't obvious. Expressionless as he always was, he turned and ignored the butler of the house. He turned so he could look back at the space where the mysterious being was once more. But the being with the fangs wasn't there anymore.
For a long while, the young master of the house just stared out the window. From the outside, he was looking so composed and calm. But even him, young as he was, couldn't deny that his heart had been beating like crazy from the moment their gazes met. And everytime he vividly sees that red and fierce eyes in the darkness in his head, his chest would start drumming more violently.
He wanted to see that being once more. Be it a ghost, a vampire, a monster or the devil himself. Young Usami Akihiko wanted to see him. Because it felt like the undefined being fled and stole something from him. And now he was as empty as a shell.
But like any other vague dreams, that experience slowly became buried at the deepest part of the chest inside his mind. The time of being a child was gone. Young Akihiko had to grow up. And growing up, it erased the fleeting moment of being entranced by an unworldy being. He started to go with the flow of the mundane living.
He knew his car was sounding bad as he forced his way into the night trying to find a place to stay for the night. The road was rocky enough to send a ten-wheeler toppling down. What was making it worse was the raging rain outside as if it had the intention of wiping everything out.
He knew his car wouldn't last any longer. The tires couldn't keep up with the mud. He'd be stuck there for sure. But he wasn't expecting it would give up in the middle of nowhere that soon.
"Damn it!" he slammed his fists against the steering wheel and looked to his left and right. The windows offered nothing but darkness. If at any time, he would have been able to appreciate the situation. But that day, he just couldn't.
Caught in the middle of an unknown territory, with the sound of the pelting rain on the car roof above his head, the whistling sound of the wind and the rustles of the trees would have served as an inspiration for a new idea he could write. But that day has not been good. Nothing had been good. Making his mood from day in to day out as sour as the weather he was experiencing.
He rummaged the brown leather bag sitting on his passenger seat and glared at the 'out of service' notification on top of the screen.
"Just perfect. Really perfect..."
He was hoping he could reach somewhere decent to spend the night in that forsaken place. If he could, he would have chosen to stay in their family's villa. But when he came out some years ago about his preference, though he wasn't disowned, it was his own choice to stand on his own feet.
Sucking his breath, his endeavor seemed not to be as fruitful as he imagined it would be. With his car stuck like that, with that rain, all plans just got washed out, his irritation hiking.
He let out a frustrated sigh and threw his cellphone back inside the bag. His attention darted to the folder he hurriedly placed inside it earlier.
"36th Annual Journalists' Meeting..." Usami hissed. "Who on Earth conducts a forum at a freaking forest...are they children in a fieldtrip?!"
More than being annoyed at the organizers, the other writers who probably were already sleeping peacefully in their expensive tents and sleeping vans, Usami Akihiko was more pissed at himself. He didn't have any intention of going to that forum at all. But he had no choice when his career was already spiralling down with not even being able to spiral up.
"Usami, if you can't submit an article that would catch public's attention, I am afraid we have to remove your spot in the magazine..."
Even Usami Akihiko didn't know how he ended up in that publication company. The pay was low, the boss sucks, and his assignments were nothing but plain jokes. He was totally overqualified but because he wanted thrill, he accepted the job. Sometimes he was asking why when he could just write a novel that would sell millions.
Researching about boring stuff, researching about politics, researching of economic theories, researching about things that appeared like a child's play to an elite adult. Researching endlessly of something he wasn't really interested in. And at that moment, he was not being productive.
His nonfiction career was as dark and murky as the mud where his car tires had sunk.
"Oi, Usami, go to Mt. Yuuji while you're at the Journalist's Meeting. I got a tip that there is some mysterious being living in its forest. It could be a huge scoop..."
"What? Monster? Headless guy walking around?" Usami remembered himself asking with disgust. Mysterious being? At this era? Fuck that.
"No. I heard its close to being a vampire. Not sure. Because our target enjoys sunbathing. Anyway, the vampire in Twilight can also walk under the sun...who knows...just get a scoop out of it."
When he heard that, something in his head seemed like wanting to be freed. A faint memory of a dark night with red eyes looking at him. Sometimes it even haunted him in his dreams. But that was all of it. A foggy memory of a child which lay between imagination and dream. Nothing more and nothing else.
But that scoop with some strange being was strumming his curious strings. Yeah, he was really knocked in the head to begin with. So off he was there in the middle of the darkness, spending the night, hoping to see an out of this world being. For his career and his self-worth.
"Tell me again why I turned into this path..."
With the most annoyed face, Usami removed his seatbelt and pressed on the button under his seat. The back support started reclining for more space.
"To sleep in here..." he knitted his brows as he slipped his arm under his head. "...dang it..."
In the midde of his dreamless and light sleep, Usami felt as if he was being rocked back and forth. So gently and careful as if he was invited to fall into a deeper sleep. The kind of sleep he was so deprived of.
"..." Usami exhaled. The swaying feeling however, became stronger. It became stronger, fiercer that Usami scrambled up still out of his wits. The first thing he thought was earthquake.
Usami brushed his hair backwards and looked left and right. None. But at the corner of his eyes something caught his eyes. Something that his eyes passed. Something in the front of his car. Glowing red. Fierce and watchful.
It felt as if the young him and the jaded adult that he had become had been shaken. Those eyes that were drawing him appeared just when he didn't expect it. And seeing it right before his eyes, the same as that dreams he would occasionally get in those eighteen years felt so nostalgic that he had this strong urge to grab hold of that creature and bind it to him. That missing piece inside of him, he knew he could finally get it back.
Lavender eyes to glowing red, Usami breathe in astonishment. He couldn't believe that the assignment that was given to him by his sleazy boss, would really turn out to be the truth. As the rain seemed to glow on that 'thing', pointy, pearl-white fangs glistened before Usami. And the most unbelievable thing for him, was the 'thing' squatting on the hood of his car was a kid.
He couldn't say if it was a monster or a vampire, or a ghost even. But he was very sure that that 'kid' wasn't normal.
Clumsily, Usami reached for the bag beside him. Rummaging for his SLR camera, hoping to capture those eyes staring at him. Calculatingly he peered through the viewfinder. Amidst the darkness, the glowing was intense. As if there were balls of fire burning on the boy's face. However, instead of describing it as eerie, it was...beautiful.
Usami licked his lips. His pulse raising, his adrenaline rushing. His finger was ready to snap that picture that could give him the biggest break he was hoping. Slowly, not breathing, he pressed on the button.
But the mysterious kid looked to his side suddenly. He looked away just before his image could be registered into Usami's camera.
Usami followed the boy's gaze. There was something rustling in the bushes. A movement so slow yet dangerous. It happened so fast but Usami knew something leapt out of that bush. And that's when his target, he was sure without having to question anybody, he was sure without even asking himself, the boy from eighteen years ago was this kid who just jumped off from the car hood. It sent Usami's car shaking.
He wasn't normal. That kid wasn't. Young Akihiko had grown into a man from top to bottom. That kid didn't age at all.
"Oh no...you're not getting away rascal..."
There was a time that Usami had written something about humans becoming monsters. Not the sort who eats flesh and transforms into the night. But someone greedy and selfish. They chase something that didn't do anything for their own benefits. And that was exactly what he was about to do .
He ran out of the car, carrying his shock and waterproof camera under the rain, Usami chasing the kid. A chase that marked his entanglement with his biggest challenge.
The boy ran so smoothly one had to wonder if his feet was even touching the rocky path. But Usami didn't care. The heavy drops of rain hitting his face was nothing. His black, leather shoes digging into the soil was becoming heavier. But he went on, chasing the kid, wanting to know what kind he would finally be able to nail down.
Usami halted. He turned around, panting, running after his breath. The only things he saw were trunks of trees hundreds of years old. Darkness through them and the endless pitter patter of the rain against the night. The cold water dripping through his clothes, giving him a feeling that something depressing was clinging to him.
"Shit...I lost him..."
Usami turned around and began walking. Just with his instincs, he trudged the dark path. The waters splashed as he stepped on the small pools of water on the ground. He had experienced this kind of thing before so he was fine. He was fine until he slipped. Slipped and fell from a cliff.
Every blow to his body was shocking he couldn't even react. From his mouth came a series of grunts and silent gasps. Sharp stones on the edge of the mountain pierced his flesh. Twigs, branches, leaves made their way into cutting in his skin. He rolled over and over as if endlessly. He wondered if the fall would even end.
It did stop when he finally slammed to the stoney, and shallow base of a stream. His camera turning into a piece of junk. His body, a soiled rag. But Usami wasn't the one who took the last fatal blow. But some kid who ran as fast as a lightning, serving as the man's cusion.
"...I'm really hungry right now..." the kid mumbled licking his upper lip as he looked towards a far distance. With a worried look on his face, the kid looked at the man still on top of him and heaved a sigh.
Swallowing the pain on his back, the kid's red eyes turned to green. He moved the man to the side carefully and looked down on his own chest. Wincing, the kid then knew a rib just broke, slicing through his lung.
This undefined being instead of attending to his wound, worriedly gazed to the man. He knew he wasn't healing fast like he used to. If he continued not drinking blood, he'd wilt away.
The worried look on the boy's face faded as he gazed down at Usami's unconscious state. He gulped inspite of his dry mouth. As if the other animals hiding away were waiting eagerly of what was to happen, they all focused at the kid's trembling lips.
His small mouth slowly parted.
They parted, releasing a low, hissing sound.
He opened his mouth, the fang fastly growing from his strong gums. Its color so white it looked like it was glowing. Strings of thick, and hot saliva dripped from the corner of his mouth.
How could this kid refuse when the food was already the one who came to him?
When a smart human being was caught up in a situation where he had no idea of what to expect, pinched in an uncertain situation, it was only natural to size things up. Watch for danger, be an observer, be a cunning being in order to protect one's self.
That was why even though Usami Akihiko had been awake for some time now, he pretended to still be the unconscious man he was. Lying on a narrow, and cramped sofa, Usami could feel the springs of the makeshift bed hitting his flesh uncomfortably.
He only peered through half-open eyes, hidden well by his hair as he lay on his side.
From the curtain of his hair, he watched his 'savior' sit before him. For hours, the teenager-looking male just sat there without moving. Not a flinch, not a single stretching, not even blinking. As if he was just a well-made realistic statue.
"...why isn't he waking up?" the boy asked suddenly. "I think I did it correctly..."
Usami could see a hand nearing his face. He almost flinched and slapped the hand away giving his pretention out, good thing he was able to hold it in. The boy's hand was colder than ice.
"Mister? Are you okay?"
The man still went on to his pretention. More than being afraid like what he should be, he was rather interested to know more about the creature before him. Just one glance and Usami could tell the boy was an airhead. He could easily be fooled by meer pretending he was asleep? What kind of monster was that?
Usami focused his eyes. The kid had the complexion as white as paper. That green eyes that would turn into red at some angles looked like gems crammed in his eye sockets. They were indeed unwordly. And that cold hand, that cold hand that brushed his skin and was still feeling the burning sensation still lingered. A temperature that cold couldn't belong to a human being. Unless he was a dead body walking around.
"You look okay...but why...?" the kid asked, deepening his frown.
Sighing, the boy tucked his brown hair behind his left ear. And the next thing he did made Usami's eyes throw wide open.
The boy bended forward. Slowly he had rested his ear against Usami's chest. With eyes closed as if he was listening to the very rush of blood in Usami's veins, he slowly smiled. To Usami it was a shocking contented smile for some reason.
"The sound of a beating heart is really pretty..."
Usami raised his head and his upper body.
"What are you doing?"
Instead of Usami being the afraid one, it was as if it was the kid who was afraid of him.
The boy moved back with a start, his huge eyes in a round surprise. After a few seconds, the boy heaved a sigh and smiled brightly. "Ah...so it really worked!"
"You fell last night badly so I had to do somethi-"
"I know that," Usami cut in, massaging the sudden pounding in his temples. It felt like his head was about to be crushed into half. "You...who are you?"
"What a girlish name."
The green-eyed boy grinned sheepishly and looked away towards the window of that room. It was only then that Usami realized the place he was in. The house or something built to look like a house was made of thin branches of trees tied together by vines. Under a magestic tree, it made the morning sunlight creep in from the small spaces of the walls and the roof covered with leaves.
There was a couple of furniture in it. The sofa where he was looked so tattered he could even feel the lose springs against his flesh. Some broken white cups in a broken medicine cabinet seemed like it was used as a cupboard instead. Some toys with no heads, mini cars with no tires dominated the small round table in the middle of the small space.
Looking at it, Usami felt sorry for the kid. This couldn't even be called a 'house'.
"The truth is I don't know my name..."
"...I just heard a woman call a little girl that when they passed by the foot of the mountain. It sounded nice...so I decided that's my name."
Some of the leaves Misaki placed on Usami's cuts fell on the floor with a carpet of grass as the man started sitting properly. Usami had only one thing in mind as he listened to the boy's tale; the kid was so innocent and gullible he could be manipulated very easily. Jackpot indeed.
The Misaki kid looked harmless, or at least slow to catch up on things. Probably the term 'ignorant' was the perfect word for it.
Even humans could outwit stupid nonhuman creatures so it seemed. That made Usami smile inside. Be friendly with this slow punk, haul him to the city. Have the press go gaga over a special creature then bring him to some circus with handcuffs so everyone would be sure they would be safe. It was no different than hauling a lion or a tiger from their habitat to a zoo.
One thing the human world stinks of was human beings have decided they were the sole controller of everything in the world. Existence of others didn't mean anything else, only when it has benefits.
"This is the first time I get to receive a visitor so please tell me anything I can do for you, okay?"
The boy leaned closer, his eyes seemed to sparkle crazily over Usami. "Mister, can I do it again?"
Usami moved back a little, still uncomfortable though. "Do what?"
"Listen to your heartbeat..."
"You see..." Misaki looked at Usami's bare chest and then up the man's eyes. "I don't have that."
"What do you mean..."
"Here..." an icy hand grabbed Usami's hand and guided it towards his small chest. Usami stared at the flesh under a white shirt where his hand was resting.
"Shit..." The older man almost winced. There was nothing. No heartbeat. No pulse. No movement. Nothing.
The kid was a block of ice. The feeling was like pressing a hand on a frozen yet soft meat. It was disgusting, to the point that he wanted to push the kid away and never get near to him. But in Usami's work, he had learned to mask his face the opposite of what he was really feeling and thinking.
"Scoop...damn it, scoop...career..." Usami thought as he gazed at where his hand was towards the boy's pale face. "Suck it up. Suck it up."
Pulling his hand away slowly with a slight forced smile, the boy didn't seem to mind or actually, didn't have any dangerous bone in him. But who knows?
"I want to have something like that too. Even the wild animals in the forest have that...I wonder why...it seemed like it's only me without that."
"Oi...oi.., what if this kid suddenly went crazy...?" asking himself that, he knew he wasn't the type to get scared easily. But that was just a bit of more than he can handle. If something wasn't breathing, if something didn't have an organ as a source of their life...wouldn't that mean he was just talking to a corpse?
"Don't be scared..." Misaki mumbled. "I am not bad...but I understand if you want to leave right away. You broke a leg though. So until you get better...you can stay here."
Slipping both his arms under his head as he tried to make himself comfortable on the cramped sofa, Usami looked at the dancing rays of sun above him. They come and go making an imaginary play of lights.
It was pretty the way the roof was made of branches and dried leaves. But what about when it was raining? Or when it was winter?
"...'Until you get better' he says..." Usami whispered. "I've been here three days and two nights it's so boring. How can one live like this...?"
Bored and somewhat fed up, he darted his lavender eyes to the small table near him. A table with a glass of water, and a plate of some unnamed grass greeted him. It wasn't good and it tasted bitter but at his state, he couldn't be picky.
Usami frowned. He knew there was some other reason. He couldn't be very picky because the one who brought those stuff there was so eager it looked funny. Misaki wouldn't even leave before he was sure his 'visitor' has eaten a couple of mouthfuls.
"Ah...you're awake already?"
Misaki walked over to where Usami and placed a leather, brown bag on the ground. "I got it like you requested. Is there anything else?"
The night before, Usami asked the kid to bring him a bag from his car. The bag where his phone was, some magazines and articles he wrote and some smoke.
Straightening up, Usami started rummaging into his bag. "No it's fine. Thanks."
The kid gave the magazine Usami took from the bag a very long look before turning around and heading for the door which were just lose, curtain dried vines.
Usami looked up. The kid never stayed in that house since he could remember. Maybe hunting for food?
"Oi...you're leaving already?"
"Eh..." Misaki scratched the tip of his nose for a short while and looked down. "Well...aren't you scared when I'm around? So...I just stay outside..."
Raising a brow, the man scowled. He couldn't help it. There were times that scowling was the only facial expression he could pull when he didn't know what to think of.
"Ha? Who said I am scared of you?" that was real. Usami knew he wasn't scared. That at least was something he was sure of.
"Do I look like I am scared?"
Before Usami knew it, the kid was already sitting on the floor of grass and silently flipping through the articles he had written. Happily as if seeing those colored, glossy pages of the magazine was a treasure.
"Still no signal?"
Usami had been raising the phone to his left, over his head in the hopes that he could contact anyone from their company. Much to his annoyance, there wasn't any reception in that forsaken area.
"Yeah...just like those rated D horror flicks..."
He threw the phone back in the bag. Not having much choice since he still couldn't do anything alone, he ended up just watching the kid's profile flip through the pages of a lifestyle magazine he contributed every month.
"You're drooling..." Usami commented, resting his chin on his clasped hands. "Tell you, they're not that awesome for the tastebuds."
The kid looked up and raised the magazine he was holding. It seemed like he had been staring at some photos of a wedding cake expose. The pictures were mostly simple but elegant. With white icings and small ribbons and edible pearls surrounding it. Just the thought of it and its sweetness made Usami shudder in disgust.
"Uh...could you really eat something as pretty as this?!"
"..." Usami opened his mouth and closed them again.
"These pretty white stones look hard...and it's like a pile of snow..." the kid excitely pointed at the edible pearls and the base of the cake with icings in lace designs.
"Ne, Mister...have you tasted anything like this?"
Usami was having a confused look. The boy had beed going on as 'like this', 'like that' for so many times already didn't he see the huge script under the photo that said 'Wedding Cakes'?
"So nice...it looks fluffy..."
"You...can't you read?" Usami meant it with the purpose of mocking the brunette. But the boy just shook his head with still that happy smile as he looked at the pictures.
"I can't. I've only been away once from this place ever...and no one wants to teach me," Misaki continued without removing his gaze from the pictures. "It's not good for me to leave the mountains..." the kid flipped to the next page. "Uwah...this looks more delicious!"
Usami cocked his head to the side, pretending to look at the window. But at the corners of his eyes he was still watching the not human, yet human-looking kid make a fuss about things he didn't even consider important.
"Just...what are you?"
It was a surprise that the cicadas could make so much noise at night. He knew they were noisy during summer. But in the mountains, they were so loud it was the only thing one could hear. It resonates through his was how much attention grabber the cicadas were. And despite Usami being a man of the city, there was a calming feel coming from that noise.
Usami stood by the window, the only source of their light was the summer moon. When he looked at the scratches on his arms and the cuts on his side, it was a surprise that he could already move that much. With those injuries, he would most probably be a vegetable for a month.
His eyes traced the slope ahead. The wind gentle and smelled of soil and grass. And then he noticed the the kid sitting on a round and huge rock at a hill. He was still flipping with the magazine he got from Usami.
"Doesn't he get tired of that magazine? He's been staring at it the whole day..."
He sighed and slightly limped his way out of the house towards the boy. The soft and light sinking of his barefeet felt soothing. The damp earth which he never really experienced in the city made him feel calm.
As Usami got nearer, he could hear excited mutterings and gasps of awe from the kid.
The past days, Usami was thinking if he should really break the peace the boy was having in this secluded place. Could he really trick the kid into the city, get billions and toss the ignorant alien right after? Could his conscience really take it just for the sake of his job? The boy didn't do anything suspicious and only showed kindness.
Misaki looked up for a moment with a warm smile and back to the magazine. He even had the courtesy to move a little to the side, offering some space for Usami he could sit on.
"Mister...what are they doing?" pointing at the two persons on the glossy paper, Misaki gazed at Usami's eyes curiously. "They look so happy..."
"Mister, mister, I am not 'Mister' okay?" Usami pointed. "Usam-Usagi. You could call me that."
"Eh...Usagi-san..." the kid smiled happily. "Usagi-san..."
The kid continued running his fingers over the glossy paper. "Ne, Usagi-san...what are they doing?"
"Hmm..." Usami removed his hands in the pockets of his tattered slacks and sat beside the boy. "That's a wedding."
"Wedding?" Misaki's profile looked eerie for some reason. In the night, his pale skin seemed to glow. The oversized shirt Misaki got from the river from the foot of the mountain sliding off from his shoulders. "What's a wedding?"
Usami blew his hair off his eyes in an exasperated manner. Weddings and anything related to that ceremony was a topic he never really cared about. He doubted he could explain it properly to a being who was as blank as a new paper.
"A wedding is done...when two persons decided to announce to the world, that they wanted to be together as long as they live..." he started, pointing at the man on the photo with a picture perfect smile. "They'd vow to be loyal and love each other forever," Usami exhaled. "Well for me it's just an oath of being tied in a leash. There's nothing special about it."
Misaki brushed the glossy paper with his hand and looked at it quietly. A look of a bit of what seemed like envy crossed his face. "That's awesome...to have someone promise forever..."
"What, don't tell me you want to have a wedding?"
The boy didn't seem to notice the question as he swirled into his own world. He only had this smile on his lips as he looked at the picture. "How nice..."
After flipping to another page, the kid raised his eager eyes once more at the man.
"Usagi-san...this...why is this woman trying to burn the cake?"
"Huh?" the man knitted his brows and looked at the picture. "She's not burning it. She's lighting a candle."
"It's a birthday cake. You make a wish then you blow the candle."
"A wish...does the wish come true after blowing the fire?"
"Fire...?" Usami sighed. "Maybe..."
"Wedding cakes...birthday cakes...they're awesome..."
"What you want couldn't be granted by just blowing off a stupid candle you know...it's just for children who know nothing about reality..." Usami inhaled the nightly scent and gazed up the sky. "Can I ask you something?"
Misaki looked to where the gentle voice was coming from and never left the handsome face.
"What do you do when it rains? Or when it snows?" Usami turned to the kid. "Your house...it wouldn't really stop them from getting in..."
The boy's face looked strange for a moment. The comfortable breeze made the tall grasses swaying before them, the accompanying music it made, and the smile on the lips of the kid, they were nothing short of breathtaking.
"I can't go very far from this place...it's like I'm tied in this land... but it doesn't matter..." the boy answered. "I don't feel cold, or warm...nothing at all as long as I'm in this mountain. This mountain protects me. But I sure want to...want to..." the kid grinned. "...want to go somewhere else..."
"Hmm...is there a way for you to do that?"
"There is!" Misaki beamed, but only after a few while. "I'm trying to do it."
"You are?" Usami asked in surprise. "What is it?"
"Hehe...," the boy replied as he started flipping back to the magazine. "You know people call me a vampire...a monster...I heard people believe we drink blood to be alive..."
"That's...not necessarily true."
Usami held his breath. An information from the monster itself. He had to listen to this.
"Drinking human blood...a lot of it, replaces our own cursed blood...and in turn..."
"...would make you a human..." Usami concluded, his voice a whisper. He had the urge to stare hard at the kid's face. He couldn't imagine Misaki sucking someone else's blood.
"Don't worry...It's not just ordinary blood I need."
"What do you mean..."
"Ah..." Misaki sighed dreamily. "I want to become a human so bad..."
Usami Akihiko for the first time, felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on its end. The innocent one beside him had the scariest smile he had ever seen. This kid wasn't a simpleton at kid, he realized, could kill if he wanted to.
"Misaki...you do know that killing...is bad...right?"
"Huh? What's so bad about it?" Misaki asked closing the magazine. "The whole area around the mountain is teeming with humans and they try to destroy my home. What's one life? I've been just waiting for someone to come..."
"I've been alive for so long in this mountain since I could remember. I don't even remember anymore how I've become like this, who I was, what will become of me..."
"You...were once human?"
Misaki nodded lightly. "I do remember one thing. My whole family was cursed. And I am the only one left."
"I'll kill them, lap up their blood and leave not a bit of drop... and become a human again."
Usami gulped. Misaki looked at Usami.
"I'm not going to do anything to you!" Misaki laughed. "But I'm glad...you're my first visitor and friend. So don't worry."
A long silence passed between them. Every word in Usami's mind was calculated. And then he said it.
"Misaki...I don't want to be a friend of someone who kills."
The smile on the boy's face vanished. Something red flashed in those emerald eyes for a fleeting second. A confusion flashed before the boy's face.
"I...I wanted to become human now more than ever! Because...then I can go with you to the city and-"
"Cut it out," Usami stood, gathering his courage. "If you kill...then you really are a monster."
Walking with huge strides, Usami went away not even gazing back at the kid who had stood with the magazine on his side.
"I sure wish no one comes here...and remember this...," Usami drew a deep breath. "...We're no friends...I'm leaving..."
Misaki stood with his eyes following the figure getting smaller by the minute. Some squirrels have gathered around the boy's feet. As if the little creatures were questioning Misaki.
"Don't worry...I'm okay..."
The squirrels blinked at the sad being beside them and turned to the silverhaired man who was leaving.
The moon shone brightly above him. The green of Misaki's eyes was no more. Replaced by burning red, the boy bit his bottom lip.
A weak sigh was released from those cold as ice lips. His gaze tracing the dark sky and the crescent moon. "It's over...I'll never be able to get out of this place...I'll never become a human again..."
From the highest tree in the mountain, a figure was standing on guard. His eyes following a car hundreds of kilometers away and getting farther. If he was his old self, even from that distance, he would still be able to see him clearly. But the only thing he could see was a blurry image which was fading by the minute.
"Yes...yes...that's right..." the boy smiled.
"Go away...fast," Misaki whispered as the whiff of wind blew past on him. He let out a painful groan as he clutched his chest. "Blood that trusts me is what I need...but how could I harm you...?"
Misaki clutched his shirt, his cheeks pale as the moon glistening. "His blood is so fragrant..."
A young brunette was left behind by a tale no person in this era would even dare to believe. The more fragrant a blood is, the more it was a sign that the prey was already comfortable with him. That the prey was trusting and doesn't even suspect him of being able to do something bad. That was the best time to strike. The trap Misaki created trapped himself instead.
"Go away..." Misaki mouthed, a pointy object showing its form inside the kid's mouth. "...before I lose myself..."
It was the same as that night eighteen years ago in that raging storm. But he couldn't bring to hurt the young silverhaired kid who looked at him straight in the eyes without contempt or fear. He couldn't kill him. Not then, not now.
Misaki raised a hand as he gave a small waive of goodbye. The wind was harsh on his face, and the moon was starting to be clouded away. The brightness wasn't there anymore but was only replaced by a blanket of gloomy darkness.
"If killing you will make me a human..."
Blood of the animals he'd captured wasn't enough anymore. He'd been living for so long. That didn't mean he was immortal. The last chance was the man he allowed to leave. He could have slaughtered that silverhaired man, suck his blood dry under this special crescent moon. Then by morning, he'd be like a newborn child. Warm blooded, fresh and he'd finally feel all the sensations he wanted to feel once again and finally leave the lonely mountain.
"...I'd rather wilt away quietly in this place...I can't kill my first friend after all these years..."
He was emerged in what he was writing. This time, he was tasked to write a crappy review about a restaurant. The taste of the food was so awful he could barf when he tested it, but because it was a paid advertisement, he had to summon all the nicest vocabularies so he could pull this one off.
The office was as noisy and cramped as ever. But unlike before, he was more like he couldn't even be bothered. He would just finish his task, look at the calendar and go home.
"It's been two months since I came back from Mt. Yuuji..." Usami thought, his fingers halting above his keyboard.
"...We're no friends...I'm leaving..."
The crease between the man's brows deepened. "I must have hurt him or something...well...I decided not to expose him or anything...that's fine I guess..."
But he knew inside him that what he was saying to himself was just a failure of a convincing. He was worried.
"Oh...really? The deal was already signed?" a woman asked surprised as she twirled the phone cord by her fingers. She was standing not very far from Usami. So the man could clearly pick up what was the conversation about. "What about the environmental groups that was so against it?"
Despite the other sounds of keyboard being tapped, a phone ringing somewhere, and people talking in hushed voices, everything seemed to have been drowned out. All Usami could focus on was what the woman was saying.
"Ah...then we'll send someone to write about this feature," the woman finished.
Usami stood from his seat abruptly. The woman looked at Usami with a curious smile.
"It's Mt. Yuuji...the extension for the rail transit has been ok-ed. They'd start drilling a hole through the mountain..."
"What 'what'?" the woman grinned. "Shouldn't we be all happy? Once the train system there connects to the main system here in the city, going back to your hometown and my hometown would be a breeze. Although I feel bad for nature...I heard they'd already started cutting down trees..."
The other writers paid the two no mind. But they could sense the tense air that was building around Usami all so suddenly.
"The environmentalists...the local government...they all agreed?" Usami softly asked.
"Yeah...of course, the train system is going to be a pot of money...environmentalists could rally how much they want, but at the end of the day, the convenience of transport would prevail...you know our country, our train system is one of the bests...but that doesn't mean we end it there...we'd want it to be even better."
"That's absurd...someone lives there...Misaki lives there..." Usami whispered to himself.
"I can't go very far from this place...it's like I'm tied in this land... but it doesn't matter...I don't feel cold, or warm...nothing at all as long as I'm in this mountain. This mountain protects me..."
Usami glanced at the calendar. "What would happen to him...?"
"Aikawa, give me this project. I'll make the write-up."
"Ha? But they wouldn't start the drilling project until next month..."
"Then consider me on leave...from this day until I come back."
"Huh? Oi! Are you drunk!?"
The man grabbed his bag, his coat and marched out of the office without saying anything. Others just stared at the tall man. This Usami was always marching in his own beat anyway, going here and there sometimes without even orders. This was normal. So after a few mutterings of how Usami was being a wayward, they went back to writing their own write-ups.
Unlike the very first time he came to this place, the road wasn't muddy at all. There was no rain and the sun was high up the sky. It gave him perfect view of how things were. The only thing that his car tires was complaining about was the rocky road and the uneven ground. If felt as though he was being rocked back and forth. But that wasn't important at all. He was angry.
A few kilometers from the highway earlier, he could already see a huge patch of brown on the face of Mt. Yuuji. They have cut down trees enough to make it look so bare and empty. When Usami rolled the windows down, he could hardly hear the sounds of birds yapping the way they sounded so loud a few months back.
It felt as though he was driving in a foreign place.
The man grunted. There was a clear small lake before. Though he hadn't paid it too much attention, it looked clean and calming. He could only see a murky, ugly pool of water on the same place this time. Some of the wildflowers proudly flaunting their radiance were left kissing the ground. Their grandore a long lost memory.
"Shit..." he whispered as he glanced from side to side. "..."
Monster in the mountains they say? Usami could only see one monster. Those who ruined this santuary are the monsters.
He stopped the car. His dutiful car wouldn't be able to get through the rough pathway towards the top of the mountain anyway. So Usami, who was a lazy man not wanting his expensive shoes getting dirty started trudging his way up to the maze of the few remaining huge trees and sharp edges of tall grasses.
After a few minutes of hurried steps and wildy beating of his heart bracing to see the inevitable, Usami found himself staring at the 'house' of vines and curtains of dried leaves all around.
The man sucked in his breath and slowly made his way forward. Something has definitely changed in this place.
"What happened here...?" Usami asked, his voice faintly floating in the air. "What the hell happened here...?"
The roof was nowhere. The walls were barely intact. The lush and soft carpet of grass inside it was a color of deprived yellow.
And there was no Misaki.
Lavender eyes darted from the upturned sofa. The recycled toys serving as decorations were scattered on the ground. By the corner were shards of the plates that the kid used to serve the man his food when he was still recuperating.
"Misaki?" Usami called, careful not to break what little was left in that space. "Hello?"
This once cozy place had turned into a picture of cruelty, of pity, of pain. When it was too much to bear, Usami looked away. What he saw on the walls made him grit his teeth.
The wedding cakes and the birthday cakes in the magazine that Misaki really liked had been roughly cut and been stuck against the walls of the house. Were those really intended as wall decorations? Like a paintaing of some sort? The man's hands turned into fists. This was ridiculous and sad at the same time that his flesh turned white as he felt his muscles in his fists grew tense.
The pictures against the walls looked so childish. This looked really childish to Usami, but it made his throat hurt for some reason. Somehow, at the deepest core of his brain, he could picture the lone brunette sticking the pictures on the wall with a smile one by one. It didn't help at all. If anything, it just gave him a sharper pain in the chest.
White cakes and pretty cakes on the wall appeared to be a picture of loneliness in that place. A place cut outside of the world. A place Misaki only knew about.
"Where is he...?"
Usami ran out of the house. He whirled around not knowing where to find that brunette who just so happened to know how to gripe at his heart. Aimlessly, the man headed at the back of the house. And as if cold water has been splashed over him, rigidly, he walked over the lying body under the shade of the tree.
A few moments passed by first before one of the closed eyes opened weakly. It took him a while to recognize the man looming over him. But when he did, an unmasked happiness flashed before his pale face.
"Hi?" Usami repeated in annoyance. The man focused his eyes at the green eyes which looked already so far away. "What happened to your super senses...you can't even recognize me fast?"
The kid grinned as he tried to sit. "Sorry...somehow...my senses aren't that strong anymore."
The man watched the brunette with all the nerves in his head rallying so many thoughts. Had Misaki always looked this pale? He looked dirty. His voice sounded so ragged. His smile looked at the brink of death. This wasn't the Misaki he knew at all.
"What brought you here?" Misaki asked, resting his back against the tree. "I thought you'd never..."
"Shut up," Usami barked. He didn't want to hear that raspy voice.
Drawing a deep breath, Usami wandered his eyes from where he was. He could see from there the bulldozers and other ugly machines slowly making their way through the mountains. Sunday, the bastards were resting. He had told the kid that killing was bad. However, he in that very moment wanted to kill the bastards who did this.
When Usami once more looked at the kid, his teeth clashed. He needed no explaining that the kid was relying on the nature's energy. Not drinking blood, and now his only source had been like this...Now that it was almost sapped, the kid was brittling away with it.
"Get up," Usami said, trying to suppress his anger. He wasn't angry at Misaki. He was just plain angry at everything. "You have a visitor here, can't you be more polite?"
The brunette nodded and tried to move, but he ended up just sliding down where he sat.
"Haha...sorry..." the kid murmured. "I've lost senses in my feet...so...lately, I've been just crawling around..."
The kid nodded gently.
When Usami saw all the implications of this and that, he knelt before Misaki and in a much gentler voice asked the boy.
"What's happening to you?"
"The mountain is dying..."
"Aren't you immortal?" Usami whispered.
Misaki just smiled.
Usami just stared.
For so long they just looked at each other. The more they did, the more it felt like it was goodbye.
Usami turned around and walked away. His posture dark and determined.
"Usagi-san...?" Misaki worriedly called.
"Wait here," the man said without turning. "... I'll be back."
There was something playful dancing behind his closed eyes. Something like a teasing movement that flickers softly in tune with the gentle rustles of the nature around.
"That feels good..." Misaki murmured, thinking it was a dream.
"Yeah, it'd taste good too."
Instantly, the green eyes shot wide open. And before him was a gentle, small fire burning calmly illuminating the blue darkness the night has brought.
The boy's gaze was transfixed on it. At the sight of a small candle on top of a dreamy surprise in a box. It looked so soft. Looked so delicate. The pinkish tint of the icings, the striking red of the cherries. The sweet scent.
Usami's always stern eyes had the glint of gentleness in them. Holding the cake in front of the boy, he smiled.
"The nearest shop took forever for me to find...but I'm glad I made it..."
Misaki raised a finger, as if wanting to touch the small star before him. Before he knew it, he felt something cold on his cheeks. And his questioning eyes went to the intent eyes that were carefully watching him.
"Why?" Usami repeated. "The wall of your house is covered with those pictures you look so pitiful!"
"..." the boy looked back at the cake. "...birthday cake?"
Usami pursed his lips. The reflection of the candle in the boy's eyes looked eerily mysterious. Sucking him in, torturing him.
"Thanks...for being born," Usami muttered softly. "No matter why you're here...thanks...for being born..."
Misaki's brows met in a painful frown. His small shoulders shaking.
"T-thank you..." the boy mumbled almost inaudibly. "I've never been this happy..." suddenly the boy started hiding his face with the use of his dirty shirt. "...to think that someone appreciates my presence..."
"Baka..." Usami moved closer, bringing the cake closer to the boy. "I already told you before right? The candle is blown after you make a wish. So go on...close your eyes and make a wish."
Misaki tried to make his face more kept. He rubbed at his eyes and cheeks first. And then gave Usami a penetrating gaze.
"You said we're no friends...so why..."
"Shsss...just make your wish already..."
Watching the single candle on top of the very first cake he saw upclose, it was obvious how the kid was having doubts into blowing it out. He darted his gaze at the man who nodded at him gently.
"Wish for anything...if it comes from the heart, it'll come true for sure..." Usami said. Never had he imagined that a day would come he'd say such words. He never believed in wishes himself but now...all he wanted was for the boy's dream to happen. Even for the last time.
Somewhere, somehow, Usami knew the kid has not much long to hold on to. It was scary to know of such a fact without even efforts of knowing. It was so obvious. The kid could vanish as easily as the candle light before him. But he tried to look happy. He tried, even so it was hard.
Why was he even feeling these complicated emotions all at once?
Misaki inched closer to his very first gift from an important person and slowly closed his eyes, taking his time to call for his deepest desires.
All the while, Usami held his breath. He tried to engrave in his brain the sweet, happy face before him. Captured all the shadows hinting at the kid's features. He couldn't help but sigh.
It just occured to Usami. Misaki was also a gift to him. Whose presence allowed him to experience so many things and realize matters he shooed away when he became an adult. That was believing that all things are possible.
Round eyes opened. They were pretty as the kid gazed at the blown candle, making the both of them fall under the spell of the night sky's moon.
"You done?" Usami asked, letting the open box of cake down the grass. The kid's eyes followed the cake.
"What did you wish for?" Usami urged, moving closer and closer at the clueless creature before him.
"My wish..." Misaki looked at Usami. And seemed to be backing against the tree. "My wish...it's...it's-"
The hands that only knew how to caress people just for temporary satisfaction found their way to the boy's face. He brushed the cold wetness on the boy's cheeks as he planted a gentle kiss on the boy's forehead.
"We can't get married...but I can give you a vow," Usami said hoarsely. "I can't help it. I fell in love with you. I went away but couldn't really run from it...I love you..."
Misaki silently touched the hand on his cold skin, savoring the closeness of them.
"...you stole my heart when I was younger..." Usami's lips stayed a breath's distance from the boy's. Lingering there, he tried to supress a sob. "...I don't plan on taking it back..."
"Thank you for coming to my life...Misaki..."
Gently, the man pressed his lips to Misaki's. Such a frightful, delicate kiss that was starting to stir the deepest emotions in him.
His long fingers lost in the softness of the brunette's hair, he hugged the kid. Shaking terribly, he was, as if he was a child that didn't want to let go.
"I'm sorry...I can do nothing for you Misaki..."
The boy chuckled against the sound of the thundering heart against his ear. Listening to it, he was satisfied.
"Don't say that Usagi-san...you've done plenty..." Misaki sighed. "...you granted my wish."
"An experience I'd happily bring with me wherever I may end up...your vow...everything..."
Usami gently moved behind the kid, allowing the weak being rest against him. Both watching the blue spell of the night over their mountain.
"...stay with me...don't go..." was Usami's deepest wish. But he held it in.
The next moment that Usami opened his eyes, the sun was already peeking from the mountains across. There were butterflies flying around him. But he was alone.
He had fallen asleep while watching the night with Misaki. He didn't know what to make of the emptiness he had now in his chest.
He gathered his strenght and left the mountains in silence. He came back to his office and went back to working. He had tried to coming back to the way he used to be but he failed. He couldn't.
"Five years ago...we almost lost Mt. Yuuji from the train project of a private investor..." a young voice of a woman echoed through the woods. Lines of young adults and supporters wearing green shirt were following her. "...thanks to a dedicated man...the mountain has been restored...and is now strictly under protection..."
Everyone would glance at their brochures once in a while, and then would marvel how it was such a good decision that the train system project was pulled out.
"Hmm...at first no one was listening to him...but his work paid off..." a college student mumbled, gazing at the back of the brochure. "He looks great, doesn't he?"
"Yeah...a writer, with the looks...who cares for nature too is a sure win...neee?"
A few feet away from the line, lavender eyes behind sunglasses were watching the fruit of his hard endevour the past years. Fighting a huge corporation had been so difficult he almost gave up. But looking at the tall trees, the small animals that would peek from their hide-outs once in a while, everything was worth it.
The wind was singing a song of calmness and serenity, a longing that Usami would never be able to set aside.
"Please come this way! The top of the mountain has this little house. It is said a wish to the tree behind it will definety come true!"
Excited murmurings followed. But Usami stayed where he was standing. He just really wanted to see how Mt. Yuuji was doing. The smiling students were enough of a promise that there would be future generations that would protect this santuary like he did.
Smiling, Usami sighed. He broke his gaze away from the line of young adults and started moving away. And then yellow butterflies started fluttering around him. Round and round as if they were cheering a lively dance.
Lifting a hand to try touching them, the yellow butterfies flew away and headed to the line of tourists following the tourguide.
And then he saw him. Amongst the young adults moving ahead, he was just standing, looking at Usami's direction. Emerald eyes as lush as the nature's color. A smile as welcoming as the pretty blue sky.
Without thought, Usami made huge strides towards that figure. The tourists were already far ahead. But the bright presence just waited in his spot.
Halting before the kid, Usami could only mouth the name. Beyond belief, but with extraordinary relief. He had played this thousands of times in his head.
The owner of the name smiled and cupped the man's face gently.
"I'm back...Usagi-san..." the boy looked around. At the saved mountain, at the butterflies, at the chirping birds. And then appreciatively gazed at his special one. "...Thank you..."
okay..so i'll be back studying. hahaha...hope you liked it! share your thoughts pls