He couldn't cry. Not because he was a boy that needed showing resilience. He couldn't cry, he mustn't cry. Or else he'd ruin the show. A ruined show equaled to a ruined him. Although he was already so much ruined there was nothing much left, he tried to not cry. All he ever could do was hold that docile face.
Even if inside of him, he was screaming out in deprivation of fresh air to breathe, he still walked in that catwalk, basking in the sultry limelight, exposing his skin, his flesh and his being.
Whoring. It never was really his thing.
"There's no god..." he would murmur every time he had to shed that almost see-through fabric draped around his supple shoulders. "There isn't..."
The dark hall would seem like a forest full of hungry beasts. Not just their eyes, but their rings full of diamonds or made of gold would glimmer in the dark. He hated it. Every single part of it.
"The second one is tagged as 'Takara'. A precious jewel rare to find."
Labeled? Rare to find? He'd been so used to hearing this, as if he was a mere merchandise. But there was no getting used to the low whisperings and the eyes that were deeply scrutinizing all of his pores.
He thought he'd throw up on where he was walking. The strange, low and cool voice doing the hosting was excellent. It was as if the voice was about to present an award to him. But it was the opposite. He was the thing to be awarded to whoever had the money.
"We start the bidding at 200,000. Excellent for a three day package..." the host continued in the dark. All the lights were purposely focused on the naked young man on the stage. "...trained and obedient..."
"Maybe there is..." his small voice whispered. "But he was never here..."
One by one, the dark-hole became filled of shouting. Their voices excited and shameless.
He despised all these. But still, he swayed his hips a little, demurely acted on the stage, and walked the practiced seductive walk.
This was the proof that he had been so tainted. He could do all these while asleep. Because everything in this forbidden world had been etched in him. These movements were already second nature.
"Sold at 380,000!"
Upon hearing this, the one whose appearance was as blemish free as a pure snow went down on all fours.
With everyone watching, he languidly crawled his way to his three-day master. He fluidly crawled his way to his own kind of hell.
He sucked his breath, inhaling the cold and polluted city air deeply.
He looked left and right, wary of his surroundings. Anyone would think he was acting strange. Maybe some even thought he was one of those ready jumping off the bridge. After all, he had been standing before the steps of an over-pass, for so long now. The nearby electronic clock said five when he first stood there. It had been three hours since then.
His green, unsettled orbs reflected the many commuters going up and down of that over-pass. Office workers, students, freelancers, whoever, all kinds of persons more or less have used this. But that night, Takahashi Misaki was there for a whole different reason.
He would be meeting someone.
In his disoriented state, his eyes unfocused, his forehead showing beads of sweat despite the freezing cold of the latter part of winter, he tried to gather all his courage. He pulled his scarf higher to cover his mouth, his fingers digging out mercilessly into his own palms even when a handkerchief he picked from the sidewalk was serving as the cushion.
"Eighteen. Eighteen steps..." Misaki murmured.
As if he just took the biggest risk of his life, he glanced at the busy road beside him, pupils dilating. Cars were flying at a crazy speed. Their taillights leaving an imaginary line of red which disappears shortly like a hallucination.
"I have no choice..."
He took a step forward, his tattered sneakers couldn't even protect his frozen toes anymore.
"No one would hear me...so..."
Very slowly, the kid who was staring at the steps started climbing them. He climbed silently counting the number of steps. His teeth chattering as he counted under his breath.
And then he stopped.
The boy reached the top in no time. There were indeed eighteen steps. And then he went down. Still there were eighteen steps. The young man gritted his teeth and climbed up again. Then he went down.
"...I'd have to see him..."
He had forgotten how many times he did this. Even some passersby thought it odd that the brunette was just going up and down the steps like a rat in its wheels. He was going up and down endlessly.
"I need to see him..."
Misaki frowned, his lifeless orbs glassy from the cold and more.
"I wouldn't be doing this at all if only..." Misaki sniffed. "I've done everything...but nothing is working for me at all..."
He was only eighteen but the shade of despair in his eyes were so much covering that youthfulness. He was just a plain, tired, cornered and weak human being who just reached the last string of his sanity.
Then Misaki froze. His heart beating a tad faster. And then he gulped.
The boy's green eyes looked around. It was still the same over-pass, with the occasional commuters crossing it. The same black sky and the same burning cold eating away at his flesh. There seem to be not a difference at all.
Except that Takahashi Misaki was so sure about this;
There were only eighteen steps. He just took his nineteenth.
"What's your real name?"
The young man was sitting on the older man's lap. Dressed only with his skin, despite the heater and the other's warmth, Misaki felt the chill licking all over him.
"No," the man smiled, stroking the flushed cheeks adoringly. "Not your tag. The name of the real you."
The large green eyes blinked. The reflection in those orbs was a chubby man with stubbles looking sharp. It would indeed graze painfully at his skin.
"This is the real me."
From the window, the darkness served as the mirror of what was about to take place. Huge room, huge bed, everything forbidden. Nothing else.
"You don't like being rented like this, do you?"
The boy just gazed at the man he would be having sex with with an odd expression.
"Too bad...even if you don't want to... I am not that kind-hearted to just let go..." the man whispered, combing the silky brown hair of the boy with his stubby fingers. "I am going to take my money's worth. That I'm telling you..."
The world would always be unsteady for Misaki. No matter what time of the day, he'd be rocked back and forth, folded into impossible extents, stretched to the ends of his limit. Every time he'd be pulled to this indecency was sadly the only time he could be free. Because this was the only time he could cry. The patrons loved it when the merchandise would be crying. It brings them more pleasure.
The louder the moans, the deeper the gaspings, the more tears flowing, the better.
"I bet you're always hoping to get out..." the man huskily whispered, nibbling at the sweet earlobes of the kid under him. "But this is the world where there's only an entrance. The only time you exit is when you're dead..."
Misaki just gazed at the high ceiling, towards the pretty chandelier. He had been drugged. Not like there was anything unusual with that. But the drug was making him itch even more, so much more that he was starting to move his own hips to meet with the stranger's forceful thrusts.
The more Misaki rotated his own slim waist to deeper the intrusion, the more Misaki felt like breaking away from his body.
"Because you're really such an adorable thing, I'll tell you something I've heard a long time ago..."
"He only listens to the most desperate...maybe...if you try...he'd hear you out."
"You know that old over-pass nearest to the city hall?"
"It only has eighteen steps."
"He would always be at the nineteenth."
A faint sound of something scratchy filled Misaki's ears. The boy had to close his eyes, had to cover his ears while gritting his teeth. It seemed like it was only him who could hear it though. The world was as normally bland that even the one woman walking the last steps of the over-pass seemed not at all bothered.
"It...hurts..." Misaki whimpered, falling on to his knees. "It hurts...make it stop...stop..."
It sounded like a steel clashing with another steel breaking through the brunette's head. Splitting pain, unfathomable sensation swirling inside his brain. It sounded like nothing he could grasp. But it was cutting into his consciousness. Until his eyes were wide with pain, until his tears were falling uncontrollably, until he could not think anymore. It was clawing into him, tearing him up.
"Please..." the boy croaked, almost grovelling to the cold surface.
From a distant place, a sound of faint footsteps were coming. Coming so much closer. Closer, nearer until it overwhelmed the blood splitting sound. Until the sound was no more and only a deafening silence was left.
The boy dared to remove his hands off his ears, eyes still tightly closed.
Nothing. He could hear nothing. None of the cars, none of the faraway chatters of the people going home, not even the winter breeze.
"Human...why are you crying?"
Misaki held his breath, eyes shut even when his head was bowed. That voice, that melodic timber, that sound of concern griped at Misaki's barren heart.
Unsurely, Misaki opened his eyes. A pair of black shoes was what he saw. Slowly, hesitantly, he dared to look further up. A black coat, gently billowing. Black shirt. But that was all there was to it. No matter how much effort Misaki gave, he couldn't get past the shoulders of that being. Some force was stopping him.
"Pitiful..." the man said, kneeling on one knee, a hand extending to touch the boy's cold cheek. "You've endured a lot, haven't you...?"
Misaki's mouth opened a little. His chest hurt so much.
"Don't worry...it's alright...it's fine now..."
Misaki gulped. Such were the intensity and gentleness in those words, that the desperate young man had to inhale deeply. Kind gesture, assuring words, warm touch...these were the things he had been deprived of. Things that he'd been dying to know.
Right when Misaki was already at ease by the gentle caress on his face, his jaw suddenly felt hot. Full of strenght he thought his neck would dislocate, the hand once gentle was now holding his face with such brute force.
"I bet you wanted hearing that," the man said, his voice menacing. "How did it feel? Good? Heart-warming?"
So shocked Misaki was that he just couldn't see anything. He couldn't see the face but he could picture how he was being leered at. Indeed, he was very easy to be deceived. That was why he was always in the worst possible kind of situations.
For a moment, he thought those words and expressions were real. What could he actually hope for from this unexplainable existence with all evil intent suddenly floating around him?
"Surely, you didn't come to my territory not knowing the consequences?"
The boy's emerald eyes showed understanding. He knew what he was doing. He didn't care if he'd be cursed after this.
"Fame, power, money...what do you want?"
The forsaken asking another forsaken. It actually seemed fitting.
The boy gazed at the endless sea of darkness. Tried to glance at the face but could only stare at the pale neck. He should be afraid. He really should. But the only thing he could feel was this was his last chance. Misaki suddenly smiled.
"Can you...make me dream?"
"Dream?" the man repeated. "That's it?"
"What a foolish request."
"You don't understand..." Misaki whimpered, smiling oddly at the face he couldn't see. "I want to dream. A quiet and a peaceful one."
A stillness that felt like eternity passed. Misaki remained motionless within the grasp of the devil. Unable to see the face no matter how hard he tried.
"This two-way contract is now sealed."
The body of the man started turning into a black mist, finally letting Misaki feel the sensations in his body once more.
Then alone in the over-pass, Misaki suddenly felt the weight of what he was trying to do. He just entered into a contract without knowing the other deal. But what could he do? This was the last straw of hope he could see.
"You'd take my soul with you to hell after I die?"
The remaining voice laughed so hard Misaki thought his head would split in pieces.
"Do you think that you're so special?" the voice asked. "Just what am I going to do with that rotten soul of yours?"
"It's not that...?"
"Then...what do I have to do?"
When Misaki looked at the electronic clock from where he was, the time was blinking 9:19. The number of cars and people already had decreased drastically. Who would in their right minds, would stay outside at this kind of temperature anyway?
"A minute from now, a man will be using this over-pass. I need you to ruin him..."
"Yes...Ruin him to his very bits...until he would be groveling to the devil...just like what you are doing now..."
That was when Takahashi Misaki felt, for the first time who he was talking to. The sudden low sound of the voice, the chilly wind accompanying it drew a picture of horror for Misaki. Evil. Menacing evil.
"I don't understand..."
"Then let's stop this farce."
The eighteen-year old lost young man turned his gaze to the other side of the over-pass. From the other side of the road, he could already see a silhouette of a man about to climb up the steps. Each step the man made sent Misaki's chest beating faster and faster.
"I don't have to answer your questions, little rotten fellow."
"Will you do it? Or will you not?"
He squinted his green eyes towards the approaching man. Second by second, the nearer the man became, the clearer the man's slight smile became visible as he was talking to his phone. His black coat was billowing behind him, his hair like black silk.
Misaki opened his mouth to say something but they were all stuck in his mouth. His brain had so many things going on his lips couldn't keep up. His breath fogging his eyes and probably his brains too. He'd come this far. He'd always tried believing someone would save him but no one came. He had to do it on his own.
"I-I'll do it..."
The voice just laughed ridiculing the conflicted boy.
"That what you're holding, you just found that from somewhere right? Take a look at it."
Misaki unfolded the handkerchief a bit and looked at the corner. An embroidery of pretty characters met his eyes. He then read them aloud without realizing it.
The man who was about to pass the brunette stopped walking. His black eyes darted to the boy with a surprised look.
"Yes?" the man asked.
"Ah-uhm...you dropped this!" Misaki blurted faster than his brain could think of anything.
The new comer looked at the dark-blue hanky and smiled. "How did you know it's mine? I think I dropped it somewhere earlier..."
"Ano..." Misaki looked around. The suffocating demonic presence was not there anymore.
"Never mind. It's just kinda weird," the man said. "Thanks anyway..."
As Misaki was handing the man the soft fabric, he noticed the pretty lavender hues gazing at him with curiosity. Those eyes were so different from the eyes of the men who bought him for one or a couple of days.
"You look pale...are you okay?" this Ijuuin Kyou asked after finally taking the hanky.
Misaki gulped. "Yes...I'm fine..."
"It's really cold out here, you better warm up."
"Y-yes..." "Ruin him...until he becomes like me...?"
"Want some coffee?" the man asked calmly with a smile, waiving his hanky. "...In exchange for returning this to me."
Suddenly, Misaki was overwhelmed by an indescribable fear and a suffocating guilt. A devil's job would be to spread evil. What did he expect? It was as if everything had been plotted from the beginning. And there was no way out.
A merry song, a warm atmosphere, happy smiles. These were things he only saw on television. Who would have thought they were really things that existed in the same world as his?
The waft of premium quality coffee was intoxication him, spreading inexplicable comfort, softening his always tense muscles.
"It has a very invigorating aroma, don't you think?"
Takahashi Misaki looked at the cup set before him. It was pure white ceramic, small and delicate. The coffee, it's foam drawn with what seemed like a kitten smiling.
"It's...pretty..." the boy mumbled, still staring at the rather clumsy art on his coffee.
Ijuuin Kyou, the owner of the handkerchief Misaki picked up by chance or not, smiled even broader.
"Don't push yourself admiring the art...he's just a beginner..."
"Who's the beginner huh?!" a loud voice broke in. "Be glad I didn't poison you bastard."
Both males on table four looked up. A quite tall young man, slim and with eyes full of pride appeared. His black apron tied around his waist looked fitting, even the small pink rabbit on the collar of his shirt looked good on him.
The newcomer sat at the arm rest by Ijuuin's side and shamelessly stared at the brunette across him.
"So...Takahashi-san, right?" the young man said as if he was dragging his words. "I just want to make clear that this guy is mine. So whatever thing going on in your head about fate since you picked his dirty handkerchief is not gonna happen."
Ijuuin Kyou dejectedly smiled, poking the younger male beside him with his elbow.
"Ishi...what on earth are you talking about?"
"What?!" the young man asked.
"He might not know things like that...you stupid..."
Misaki watched the two banter with each other, not caring about the curious glances of the other customers.
"Don't give me that. Anyone will think that way!"
"No, it's just you who would come up with that..."
Misaki smiled. The two males across him looking at him questioningly.
"There are so many kinds of people...I don't find it weird," Misaki lifted his hands and took the cup carefully, bringing it to his lips. "I actually think the two of you...look good..."
Ijuuin Kyou and his lover Ishi, looked at each other. The way the kid brought his cup to his lips, the way how he cocked his head a bit to the side to contemplate the taste, they weren't normal. They were calculated actions of someone used or forced to please somebody for so long that it was coming so fluidly natural.
However, Ishi and Ijuuin could read past through those things. The marks under the boy's neck, the tight bracelet round his wrist, natural and ordinary outside was obviously a tracer. The brunette was in an invisible leash extending to a great distance.
Both knew. Ishi was very perceptive. And Ijuuin once wrote a feature that was never published because it was too nosy for their own good. It was about the supposed nonexistent world of high class prostitution going right under the government's nose. Yet, one character from that world was sitting across from them, having this expression of a broken, unfeeling doll.
"Annoying..." Ishi whispered.
Ishi stood. And just when Ijuuin thought Ishi was ready bullying the other, Ishi slammed a hand to the table. And after that left without a word.
Ijuuin looked at the table, with Misaki following the older man's gaze. A rabbit pin. The coffee shop's mascot.
"Well...he's just like that really...but he's really a good person," Ijuuin said with a patient voice. Misaki's world was something they couldn't break through even if they wanted. They lack power to do that. They can only do things this small. "Come here anytime, alright?"
The sound of the droplets from a lose faucet continuously hitting a tin surface could be heard. Worn six by six tatami floor. Laundry piled at the corner. Cups and cups of full of preservatives foods and drinks. For a person going from one luxurious bed to another, it was so contradicting how deprived his living hole could be.
Green emerald eyes blinked into the dim lighting. Listening to the droplets, he curled into a fetal position as if shielding himself.
"He really loves Shizuki-san...he really does..."
The thin foldable panels separating his futon away from the rest of his small 1DK room was actually pretty. He bought it at a very low price. The pale yellow color, painted with falling red leaves, down to a blue unending river below was a scene in one of those famous poems in Hyakunin Isshu.
Misaki was lying on his side, gazing at the panel. Behind the panel was a shadow moving that wasn't supposed to be there. A shadow of a formidable man, presence too strong that the small room seemed like closing in on him.
"I only know how to seduce people..." Misaki whispered, eyes limpid. "He wouldn't fall for my tricks. There's no breaking that bond between them...I can't do what you're asking of me..."
There was a soft chuckle from somewhere, a rustling of clothes and a mocking sigh.
"Can't this, can't that...don't forget you're binded with me. You can't back out now."
The boy just watched the shadow from behind his thin panel. Too tired to think of anything.
"If you can't take someone as a sacrifice...I am dragging you down to the deepest part of hell..."
"Isn't this hell already?"
The lifeless emerald eyes started to blur. As if he fell into a tank of water, his ugly room seemed to contort into a formless state. And his pillow started getting stained.
He gritted his teeth not wanting to make a sound.
He had been taken advantage of. Million times been used. Always have been trampled. What was so hard in trying to take advantage of someone? What was so hard in ruining one person compared to what has been done to him?
"I'm so..." Misaki hissed, clutching his chest tightly. "I'm so...I can't...ruin somebody else..." the boy sobbed. "I only wanted to dream quietly...why are you asking something so bad...I don't want to become like them..."
The voice snorted. At the same time, Misaki felt a heavy weight on him.
"Stupid...you called on not to some saint..." the tattered thick blanket on Misaki started falling off, as if an invisible hand was skinning an already raw wound. "You called on to me..."
Misaki turned to lay on his back, staring blankly at the ceiling. His shirt going over his chest, exposing his stomach on its own. But the brunette just laid there still. Not making any movements. Not making any struggles.
"Can a devil fuck a human?"
"You don't know even a fourth of it."
"It's been a while for me..." said the voice. "And since you're too useless to bring me what I am telling you to do...just service me...before I throw you to where you belong."
"Where I belong...?"
"You broke the deal by saying you can't ruin him."
Misaki raised a hand, trying to search for a physical body he could cling to. Despite the heavy weight and the chilly sensation against his skin, his hand only was able to grab the empty air.
"Will you then let me dream?"
The room became silent. So much silent that Misaki thought that his invisible guest had left. But it wasn't the case.
"Let me tell you something, wretched human. We can't grant anything without anything in exchange. It's not the conventional magic you've been thought in this ridiculous earth."
"Oh...for you to grant my request...you need something in exchange huh? My body isn't enough?"
It was weird how one by one the buttons of Misaki's shirt had become undone. His flat stomach, his chest, his throat, openly exposed in the chilly midnight.
"No...this body isn't enough..." the voice replied. "Because you don't regard this body as important anymore."
Misaki's eyes grew wide. So wide that he thought all of his actions with numerous men came flashing before him. Right. He had long regarded his body as not important anymore.
The light bulb, flickering softly in the night made the still shadow against the wall more precise. It flickered faster and faster until it didn't brighten anymore. It had reached it limit. And so the unsightful room had been drowned in utter darkness.
Dark or bright, it didn't matter. He could plainly see, with all details the naked body of the young man on the floor. Drained, filthy and pathetic. Seeing humans like this brings joy to the likes of him. But no matter how he stared at that form, totally tainted, he felt nothing at all.
Some hours ago, he had been feasting on that small body. He had violated him like no other had. He had engraved his mark and the boy was forever his even after his death. It felt good. The sex. A forbidden sex was always the best.
His cold eyes wandered to the legs that were still spread. To all the new bruises on that skin. It might have been painful. Of course it would be painful. But Misaki never complained. He just laid on the mattress, staring at the ceiling all the time. There were times that the devil thought that Misaki could see him. But that was impossible.
Misaki in his unconscious state started furrowing his brows. He started turning left and right, moaning and saying indistinct words. He really looked restless.
The shadow stood and knelt before the boy. His gaze boring into the closed eyes.
"He wants to dream? Selling his soul to a devil...he could have asked for something bigger..."
A huge form of a hand started reaching to the sweaty forehead. And the devil saw what world Misaki was seeing in his closed eyes.
Hands. Many hands clawing at the boy's body. Clawing hard until it bleeds. Twisting him beyond repair.
It was then, after a couple of days that the creditor realized that Takahashi Misaki only had the same dream. Over and over, in naps, in light sleeps, in deep sleeps. It would be the same. Tortured in the real world, and tortured in his own dreams. Shadows violating him even in his dreams.
"Can you make me dream a quiet and a peaceful one?"
His graceful lips were pursed as he was watching the show. The 'Takara' engaged in his job. The Takahashi Misaki who contracted a deal with him. The boy who was pushed against the wall, being fucked beyond any human measure tolerable.
"Yeah that's it... squeeze tighter..." said the bulky man, grunting and smiling deliriously. He had no idea that an unseen deathly presence was just behind him, watching the whole thing with pursed lips.
Misaki's cheek was becoming raw from it grazing up and down the wall. But he never complained. He just moaned and gasped like he was really enjoying it.
"Is it good?"
Misaki nodded, his eyes rolling at the back of his head.
"You're really worth something huh?" the man chuckled, hoistening the limp boy to face him. "I am pulling out slowly...can you feel that?"
"Then going in slowly..."
No words escaped Misaki's mouth. The sudden thrust, the already bleeding ungraceful place of him rendered him unconscious. He started having the same furrowing of brows, and the same indistinc words, but the client never did bother. He helped himself like a rabid beast, plopping the boy down the bed full of money bills. Money bills that were being crampled and soiled by cum, by blood and by tears.
"...even us... don't fuck like that..."
The single audience just watched silently. He didn't know where it came from. But if he'd put anything into words, it would be something he should never have learned about. He knew how to say that word but he never knew how to feel it. That night, he first realized, first felt that word called pity.
Misaki was cleaning up his room. He was dusting off the small television set he never was using. He folded his undone laundry and pushed them forcefully into a bag. It was a general cleaning. And he looked really into it.
He polished the mirror with such vigor. Up and down, left and right, in circular motion, he scrubbed the mirror with the cotton cloth for so long.
He went on for so long. Not letting go of the mirror.
The reflection in that mirror was a face streaked with never ending tears.
The boy stopped polishing the mirror. And then stopped moving altogether. He just sat in the middle of the room crying when he should be enjoying the spring season like everybody else.
Eyes observing never left that form. He just kept on looking. He just kept on observing. And then he jumped. He jumped down behind the boy taking a physical body.
" I'm going to be a bit generous. I'll give you a last chance."
Misaki, head bowed, turned to look. As usual, he could not see past the shoulders no matter how he tried.
"Make that Ijuuin or Ishi miserable enough to lose their smiles, their faith, and I'll kill anyone you name."
The boy sighed and started running his fingers on the smooth surface of the mirror.
Abruptly kneeling on one knee, a long-fingered hand reached out to Misaki's shoulder, gripping it tightly.
"Aren't you frustrated?" the man asked. "That man and his partner are too happy. Aren't you angry why they can be like that and not you? Isn't it too unfair? I am giving you a chance here...think."
The boy smiled a bit. The devil couldn't really understand this earthling at all.
"It's my fault that I've become like this."
"My parents used to nag me so much about studying. They want me to study at a good school, join academic clubs and all those things..." Misaki smiled. "But I ignored them. Everything they did felt so much oppressive. I ran away from home wanting to show I can stand on my own two feet without them. I never thought that I was going with the wrong crowd..."
"It was too late for me to realize that I had so much freedom back then...and I couldn't go back to yesterday..."
"I didn't ask you."
"I know. It's just, you're there. And I felt like talking."
Twice a week. Sometimes one whole week. There would be times Misaki would be under three or four men at a time in a single night. Each and every time someone uninvited would be watching.
The seasons changed too fast. The kid never even paused to glance at the sakuras. And now he lost to see them this year. It was then summer. The stormy side of summer that was too fitting for this martyr of a child.
A faint sound of a young voice humming could be heard mingling with the loud downpour.
"You're really annoying. I want to crush you dead."
The kid stopped humming. He looked left and right. He could see nothing in his dim room aside from the reflection of flowing water from his window.
"If you just do as I say, I could turn the tables for you."
Misaki pulled his knees to his chest and looked out the rainy night sky. For a long while he was silent. But then he started giggling. And then he cackled like crazy.
"What's so funny?"
"It's weird. I was looking forward to hearing you the entire day."
"I'm not your friend. Idiot."
"I know. Even so...I'm glad, devils aren't as scary as I've imagined...humans are..." Misaki turned to his left as if he was sure the guest was there on that side. "Next time, show me your face alright?"
"Not scary huh..." the man said to himself while raising his palm to look at it. This bloodstained hand, this existence that already caused millions of heartaches, thousands of misunderstandings and hundreds of wars...not scary? "That's because I choose not to..."
"Or maybe there's no next time..."
The downpour seemed to have grown so much stronger. Every other sound inside the room had been drowned by the noise outside. The invisible guest was just plain sitting on his spot, when Misaki tried reaching out to air.
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to capture you."
Hand still in the air, the boy turned his head towards the window. His expression was too much calm that it was weird.
"Ne, Oni-san*...when I die...can you...how do I put it?" Misaki started scratching his head. "Welcome me somehow."
"Look for my soul and guide me to wherever I'd end up...probably hell with all of my sins..."
"What are you talking about?"
"You see...my client later...the last time I was assigned to him...I barely survived..." Misaki's voice started getting softer and softer. But it was strange that even the rain couldn't drown it out. "He's extreme...but the organization doesn't care at all...I can feel somehow...tonight's my last night. Somehow I am relieved..." emerald eyes looked to his left although there was no one there. "But I am scared too..."
The mirror across Misaki that he so polished so much before had become foggy again. Same as the future that Misaki never had been able to picture. In that mirror, a faint black mist was reflecting. But it remained just like that.
"Why are you so passive? We hate the likes of you the most."
He stood slowly and went to the small bathroom to change. And once he was all set, wearing a cologne so much sweet that it was stinking, wearing a jacket over a yukata that was almost too thin all the skin and bodily silhoutte was visible, Misaki walked out.
He closed the door gently and was gone.
It was like a song. Yes, it was a song. From a high note, to a low note and a long silence. Then it would come back, more fierce, more heart rending. The echoes inside that wide four-walled place made it seem like an orchestra in a magnificent performance. Yes it was an orchestra. An orchestra of pain.
"Everyone passes out within the first few minutes..." a voice whispered very gently, sounding like a voice of an angel. "...but you're so different..."
It was a faint red against the white surface, the color of a sakura in its prime. Indeed it was pretty. The shower was warm, the flowing water very gentle, washing away the blood on that small quivering body.
A strong hand grabbed a handful of brown hair, pulling the ragged body in a standing position. Misaki opened an eye towards a mirror. He saw that emerald-eyed young man staring back with a huge gush on the forehead. He wanted to wipe those that were getting into his eyes, but his arms were tied behind his back. Tied very tightly that even blood couldn't anymore circulate.
"Ne...Takara-chan...have you ever questioned why your life is so shitty?"
Thrown back to the empty tub, he stumbled into the hard surface and felt as though his shoulder just got dislocated. But he couldn't say a word, much less talk. He can only moan with the gag in his mouth. In his wide eyes, he watched the form of a princely man looming over him. Such a face seemingly belonging to a kind-hearted person, but there he was doing all sorts of inhuman torture.
"It's because you were born lacking of everything..." the man said as he was picking something on the floor. He raised it before Misaki's face and laughed. "...this is your true calling...to be a slut...to be my bitch..."
Misaki swallowed hard. So hard he thought he had swallowed his tongue too. He started having a hard time breathing. He started writhing away. Yes, started writhing. To go away, to escape. After all the calmness he'd exhibited and the acceptance that he'd be dead this night, it turned out, he wasn't prepared. He didn't want to die. Not like this. Not yet.
"I haven't even lived..." Misaki thought, his eyes focused on the swiss knife shining like a jewel a few inches away from his face. "I haven't..."
Closer and closer it came onto his skin. It lingered there. The cold enough to slice deep into his flesh. But the man holding the knife just stayed like that. Enjoying the uncertainty and fear in those green eyes.
And then Misaki passed out.
"Oi...who said you can rest already?" the man asked calmly. "We're not done yet you know?"
Firm hands grabbed the unconscious boy strongly. He shook the brunette vigorously. With such strength. With such anger.
"WAKE UP!" he suddenly shouted. "I SAID WAKE UP!"
He began slapping the boy on both cheeks continuously, until red liquid was already pouring out from the slightly opened mouth. And it seemed like it just ignited a new level of sadism from the man.
More slapping, the sound echoing strongly. And like a hungry beast, he started biting all around the boy's flesh until it bleeds. On the chest, on the neck, on the arms, he marked them with his teeth.
Every drop of blood to the floor, every blood mixing in with the water, every restless twitching on the boy's brows, and every grunt and snarl of pleasure from the man, they were all in plain view of two flaming eyes.
"Why doesn't he even have an ounce of anger...or hatred..." the one audience asked through gritted teeth. "Why wouldn't he curse them...why...why...why..."
He could only get strength from deep hatred and blazing anger from the contractor. But the useless punk lying unconscious there was just...too accepting.
"Ne...Takara-chan...no one's going to save you and we'll just enjoy this night until the end..." the man mumbled, grabbing Misaki's jaw, seemingly about to plant a gentle kiss on that blood stained lips. "...maybe I should just buy you from the organization completely..."
The faint shadow started taking form. Behind the beastly man, the shadow was beginning to become clear. Hands, feet, hair of snow. His eyes blazing in an emotion he was very used to. Anger. Too much anger he couldn't contain it. His lips quivering in utter disgust.
"Oni-san...thank you," the kid had told him. Why was he thanking him?
"Takara-chan...open your eyes...otherwise you'd not see how closely we will become..."
The uninvited guest took one quiet step. His eyes fixed at the back of the dark-blonde head.
"And you call yourself human...?" the devil whispered.
The man with a kind face froze. His room was made so no one could go out. It was made too in the way so that no one could get in without his permission. He slowly turned his head behind him. For that chilly voice was too much clear to be just his imagination.
But before he could see who it was, blood had already splattered against the white walls like an abstract painting. It was his blood, gushing out of his neck. And like a ragged doll, just like how he had made Misaki become, he fell on the tiled floor, motionless, not breathing.
The man so pale lifted the poor body out of the tub. Carrying the boy like that, he started smiling on his own.
The man has heard and seen of fallen angels. But never a fallen devil.
An angry blazing ball of fire started engulfing the whole exquisite estate in ashes. No amount of water could put it out. No matter what the firefighters did, the fire continued as if it had a life of its own. What was more, it wasn't just that estate. One by one, without reason, huge houses, tall buildings started burning to pieces. And men for no reason just started dropping dead wherever they were. As if someone just took their breaths away in a flash.
That rainy night, all members of that inhuman organization, its operators, its clients, died.
The sweaty boy on that ragged futon was still turning his head left and right. His brows furrowing deeply, his breath in between gasping and almost whimpering.
Beside that boy was a man dressed in black. Something that was even blacker than the color itself. He had pale complexion. Clear lavender eyes. Hair the color of the moon, ethereal, hypnotizing.
A huge, pale hand reached out just a few inches away from the boy's closed eyes. And then saw again what Misaki was dreaming about; hands, shadows, darkness.
The man sighed. "You couldn't even find an escape in your own dreams huh? No wonder..."
He smiled wryly, moving his hand to the boy's forehead. He was about to whisper something. But halted in the next heartbeat.
"Usami. That's enough. Have you no idea what you've done?"
The voice was calm. The voice was cold. He knew this voice. His own kind.
"You went on a burning and killing spree without a single sacrifice. That kid didn't make any."
"It's alright," the devil, who was called Usami answered, finally putting his cold hand down the sweaty forehead. "He doesn't deserve all those things..."
"Who are you to decide what he deserves or not? You're done for."
A small smile crept into those thin lips. "I just started wanting to do something for him."
"I am taking responsibility of everything. I've prepared myself for that."
"Don't tell me..." the voice sounded uncertain. "Don't tell me...you've spent thousand of years to be on where you are now...and just for that weak human...?"
Usami was well aware of what he just did. Having no important sacrifice to use, he traded what was important for him. His ability to guise as a human.
"You're crazy. A devil becoming like this..."
"You wouldn't understand..." Usami whispered as he closed his eyes, about to clear Misaki of everything painful. "I've told him countless times to ruin me, to hurt me, to make me miserable...but he didn't. Most humans would have succumb to that offer. But he didn't..."
"Exactly! You failed to lure him with the bait of sacrificing a seemingly innocent person! If he took it, seduced you as 'Ijuuin' then he's sealed with us! You didn't have to do this for him, he doesn't belong with us!"
The devil on the nineteenth step, Usami, purposely pretended to be a darkhaired man crossing the over-pass. Pretended to be an Ishi. Because he thought that the boy would succumb to those things most humans would kill for. But no matter how he urged the kid, the boy never listened to him. His coaxing not working.
What was so important about this kid? What was so special about him? He didn't know. So he started hanging out, watching Misaki like air. And he started harboring a mix of emotions that shouldn't have been familiar to him.
"I'm granting your wish..." Usami whispered. "From now on...you'll dream only the peaceful ones...you don't have to remember those awful things anymore..."
"Do as you like. Sacrificing one of your abilities, erasing his bad memories together of meeting and knowing you...you've surely become a saint I don't want to even be labeled the same as you...you lose your first class rank."
The chilly presence disappeared. There was only the two of them. A human and a being of darkness. Side by side, drowned in silence.
Weakly, swollen eyes opened, trying to see the blurry face above his.
"That's my name."
"What are you doing...?"
Usami moved his hand back to the boy's eyes, blocking the boy's view, gently urging them closed.
"Giving you quiet dreams...erasing everything unpleasant..."
The man leaned over the boy, seemingly about to kiss the boy but not even letting his lips touch the skin, he just lingered like that.
"It would do you good not to know...that something like me...fell for a human..."
"Don't do this..." Misaki whispered, putting all his remaining strength into removing the hand that was on his eyes. "I am okay remembering everything...don't erase them...please..."
It had been a couple of months. The presence in the over-pass would just linger there. Unable to take a human form, unable to go away from that spot, he'd become like a mist, invisibly watching all pedestrians in all directions.
He was not hoping. He just watched. But he didn't fail to notice one thing.
Takahashi Misaki never once used the over-pass again.
It would take a long, long time before he could be back, days, months, years, it was even uncertain if he could be back to the invincible being he used to be. He gets strength from luring people to commit sins. But he doubt he could even do that anymore. So, even when the others had shaken their heads at him for falling so greatly, he just lingered at the steps, observing the passing time.
And then it was July. Summer, with all the heat and lush greens of the sidewalks.
"A fallen devil..." Usami laughed. "Apparently I'm the first..."
Lavender eyes suddenly grew focused. At a far distance, that form, that bowed head was strikingly familiar. So he waited and waited for that young man to come up the over-pass.
The kid just continued walking, not even looking up to where Usami was.
"I always have happy dreams now."
Usami abruptly turned behind him. He only stared with his chest painful. He thought the likes of him didn't have that? What was that pounding inside him?
"You're here...aren't you Oni-san?" Misaki smiled. "No...Usami-san..."
The boy's face was glowing, he looked so much younger and healthier, and calmer. He was no more in a leash.
Invisible he was, Usami moved closer to the boy, staring hard at the face so much. The green eyes just blinked, seeing nothing of the man standing before him.
"I always dream about you...Usami-san, watching over me."
The man not belonging to anything in this world held his breath. And before he realized it, he felt cold wetness on his cheeks.
"...I remember you clearly."
Why? He shouldn't.
Isn't he the least bit scared of me?
The boy couldn't have possible heard Usami's thoughts. But the boy so smiled brightly and reached out as if trying to catch something he couldn't see.
"You're not scary at all..." Misaki whispered. "You, above all, showed me what heaven is like."
Usami lifted a hand, trying to grasp the smaller one in the air. But he just passed like a fog.
"I'll come back tomorrow. The next day and the next after that..."
Usami could not move his eyes away from the boy who was about to turn away.
"You lost a big deal because of me, didn't you. I heard everything that night..." Misaki looked down. "..I'll call for you at the nineteenth step one day...and ask you to stay."
"...why...you should have forgotten everything..."
Abruptly turning around, Misaki's eyes were wide. He heard something. But there was nothing.
For a long while, the emerald eyes just gazed quietly, as if he was looking at something. His small lips that used to tremble in pain stretched into a smile. And his eyes, that used to always blink away sad tears, blinked away something else.
The gentle face on Misaki, the gentle wind, the silent words, everything said it all.
Misaki really loved Usami. To the point that no power, no strength, nothing could erase its trace and its existence in this universe.
"I see..." the man whispered and chuckled softly on his own with his hand on his forehead.
In that moment, the devil with a halo, not on his head but in his chest, though well aware that it was impossible, saw his own kind of heaven.
chapter end notes:
erm...that was a long one shot! haha...i liked writing this though!
oni*- is a term for devil, maybe "akuma" is more fitting here...but "oni" sounds better for me. XD perhaps, i am can't move on after reading about 酒呑童子 (shutendouji, a ferocious evil in Japanese mythology)
takara- term for treasure
also...in Japanese folklores...in summer, July 20th, it is said that some devils and humans get married in this date. XD
thank you very much for your time reading and please share your thoughts!
about the steps and the overpass...well i commute to school and have crossed that high overpass numerous times and it's a habit of mine counting the steps...and then it struck me...like "what if the steps suddenly increase by one?!" and there you have it. XD