This is Really Goodbye
When one becomes too successful that everything seems to dance round their palms, all then becomes bland. Excitement gone. Thrill gone. Euphoria gone. It was like living itself was gone. Takano Masamune knew gone were the days of his playing and being lose. It was time to settle down.
He was sitting on his swivel chair. Hair messy, office fogged by the never ending and suffocating swirling sea of cigarette smoke. For a man who would be getting married a month from now, he sure looked unexcited.
"Mr. President...may I remind you about the brunch with Mishima-sama's parents tomorrow at ten..."
Hazel eyes drowning in the dim shadows narrowed down into slits. He crossed his long legs at the edge of his table and released another swirl of smoke above his head.
"Anything else?" the man asked to the intercom on his table. "I appreciate you being all hardworking but it's 11 now so please go home. Don't be too hard on the 'over' in overtime."
The intercom beeped once and everything returned back to silence.
This was the supposed to be 'enchanting, king-like life' that life magazines had painted. Rich and still very young bachelors, high status in the society, top it all with good looks for an icing. Well, it wasn't like Takano Masamune was not satisfied with this life. He purely enjoys the feeling of looking down at someone, at giving orders and becoming at the top.
But now that he was getting married to an only daughter of a hotel-tycoon, did he really work his head off, become a president of his own company, just to get married in the end? Was that really the purpose of living? To get old, get hitched, produce a baby to the population then die? How mundane.
He blew a circle of smoke around him, eyes towards the ceiling the color of grey in the dim. The only source of light was the ones from the buildings nearby, the faint half-moon, and the burning cigarette tip in between his lips.
A slight curl on the one corner of his lips started forming.
"Marriage huh?" the raven whispered.
He closed his eyes and sighed. Once in a while doing this would make him see a vague memory. Like that of watching a black and white television in mute. Flashes of young faces would appear. Paper flowers all over the floor. Sparkly confettis in the air. All persons in that memory had all laughing faces. Those faces though were full of scorn, mocking and leering.
The man drew a deep and long drag from his smoke. His shoulders started shaking. His brows started meeting. The next moment, Takano Masamune, thirty, a rich and successful businessman, respected by everyone, cunning and calculating would be a laughing mess. He had to take the cigarette off his mouth and stub it dead.
He would just laugh like that, almost like he just lost his mind.
If any television cameras caught this, it would be an interesting blind item the next day: "Boss of an elite company, laughing like crazy."
His delirious laughter filled in the silence of his massive office. It went on for minutes. And slowly, faded and very randomly just stopped all of a sudden.
That vague memory in his mind had two persons standing in the center. One slightly taller, one unconfident and cowering. Both were wearing the same dark uniform before another male student.
"I now pronounce you...husband...and...uh...husband?"
Right. That day he first experienced marriage. He married a fellow guy for fun back in high school.
"Saga! Hurry up!"
A group of high school boys were eager to run off after finishing their own shifts with their horror house booth. Fortunately, they were assigned in the morning shifts. There were more fun things happening in the afternoons.
Saga Masamune had just changed from his 'bored' look to yet again of his 'bored' look when his shift ended. The high school which was strict with school rules of no running in the hallways, no loud talking and loud laughter was totally different that day.
It was their high school's yearly three-day cultural festival. It was just a few days after summer vacation, the energy of students from taking a lot of rest had now an outlet. Classrooms had been changed into booths from the most common such as maid-cafes, fortune-telling booths and board games. There were other unique ones such 'assassins order' and 'letter deliveries'.
Most girls were stuck with the fortune-telling booths while boys were at the more adrenaline pumping games. And since the school was open to the public as well, the whole place was a bustling, noisy and lively space of feast and playing. Except for one.
"We've had this since first and second year...I don't get why you act as if this is your first," Saga Masamune grumbled, eyeing each and every booth they passed with utter unimpressed stance.
A bespectacled guy glanced back with a frown. "Dude...that's why we have to be more into this now! We're third years. Our last high school festival!"
The other two nodded in agreement while grinning mischievously. It was apparent that these young men already had set their minds at checking out girls.
"Let's go to the maid cafe first?"
Like excited little children, the bunch headed to the second-years. Balloons hanging from the ceiling, loud music systems banging in their ears, they could never be much happier. Last year was a drag as it was not allowed to operate loud sound systems inside the school building. This year was different in so many, many ways.
"Wow...their skirts are extra shorter this year..."
Saga Masamune just followed behind. He liked tranquil places more. However, he figured it wouldn't hurt to see the high school festival and see through to the end of this annoying day. It was his last after all.
After checking out all the booths in the high school building, the bunch decided to then roam around the school grounds. There were various booths lined up in there as well. The festive ambiance had no sense of dying out anytime soon.
"Damn it...I have no money anymore..."
"Who ever said spend them all at the maid cafe? There are other food booths here!"
Saga Masamune had his eyes at the dart games. He merely watched the ones playing, smiled a bit when they hit the target, smiled more when they missed.
"Hey, Fujisaki, Saga!" a huffing classmate of the raven came to them, he had his blazer over his shoulder, hair sparkling from the hairgel he used too much. "I saw this very interesting booth! Come on!"
Fujisaki and Saga looked at each other first. That classmate of theirs had a very unique taste and they could not imagine what would count 'unique' for him.
They made their way into the crowded grounds. Almost shoulder to shoulder, Saga inched his way to the front, together with Fujisaki and the other one. They had a lot of advantage given they were taller and somehow bigger in built compared to the other first years and second years watching.
Hazel eyes wandered to the entirety of the booth. It looked all over the place. The tent although saggy was nicely made. They gave off an impression of a heaven on earth approach as gold fabrics were laced around the steel beams. Paper flowers adorned the beams. The edges of the tent too had frilly laces. Looking at it made the raven cringe.
"What the hell? Marriage booth?" Fujisaki exclaimed. "Who would be interested in such a thing!?"
Apparently there were a lot interested. The booth was practically surrounded.
"No...it's not an ordinary marriage booth!" the energetic one named Sumire who called them out countered. He stuck his fist in the air as if he was so pleased with the idea. "It's an 'arranged marriage' booth people!"
"All the more stupid..." Fujisaki grumbled.
"What, don't say that...it's Class 1-4's booth and is getting very popular!"
When Saga and his group arrived there, there was already someone standing in the center. A slightly thin young male. His hair color looked like dark-coffee from the shade of the tent. And he was obviously waiting for his 'bride'.
Up until that point, Saga had only seen things as normal. However, when he got a closer look at that male student's face, his impression changed. The pale face of the one standing in the middle didn't look one bit happy. The downcast emerald eyes looked as if they were about to cry.
"Oi...oi...no one's gonna marry that gay of course!"
Fujisaki frowned at the increasing volume of the hissing around them. From where they were, Saga and his group had gathered a few important points of this 'main event': the one who was waiting for his partner was a first year in the name of 'Onodera Ritsu'; a classmate of his dropped his name in the 'girls' box that was why he was standing as the 'bride'. To make the scene more hilarious, four males already had been called as a groom, but no one dared to come.
"Is he an idiot?" Saga heard from behind him. "If he didn't want to be a laughing stock, he can just leave. Why stand there and wait. Obviously no guy would come and be his 'husband."
Saga felt something brush past his shoulder. It was Fujisaki who was ready giving out his lecture to the tactless first year behind them.
"You know why he can't just leave?" Fujisaki annoyedly started. "If he didn't ride with his classmates' booth, either he will get ignored for the rest of the whole year or get bullied instead. So stop running your mouth off when you cannot understand the situation clearly."
The first year embarassedly pursed his lips and looked back at the 'laughing stock'.
"It's stupid,"Fujisaki grumbled. "That kid is a member of my club. He's rummored to be a gay and all that but he's just a really quiet kid. The hell are they doing this do they think it's funny?"
Apparently it was funny for the most of students there.
"Our 'bride' here has been stood off by four of his grooms. What a disaster..." the emcee commented. He started putting his hand in the box with a tag 'males' and motioned to be picking another name.
"Is Takanori Shuhei-kun here?"
All eyes darted to a guy at the back. He was cluelessly eating his Takoyaki.
"Oh...the hearthrob of the second years! Takanori-senpai, please join your bride."
Students automatically gave way. As if this was the old testament and an epic depiction of the parting of the seas had been made. Takanori Shuhei who won the most number of votes for the most popular second-year male shot a look at the one waiting at the end of that line. He stared for a long moment before the Takoyaki he was about to put in his mouth fell back to its container.
"Oi! Are you kidding me?!" the second-year heartthrob shouted. "Don't make me lose my appetite!"
The whole bunch surrounding the booth had been enveloped by a massive laughter, so loud it was contagious.
Saga turned his head from that second-year back to the first year who was still the object of their fun. The kid was just staring at the paper flowers before him. His clasped hands had lost their color from him gripping them too tightly.
"Aww...the bride is having a hard time having a groom," the emcee exageratedly continued. "Is this one of those instances where one should really start paying so that someone would even marry them?"
Another round of laughter.
Deeply sighing, Saga shook his head. It's always fun for the others, never for the one being bullied.
"Oh...by the way," Sumire almost shouted towards Saga and Fujisaki. The noise was too much everything was drowned by them. "I dropped your names in there too!"
"Well then...oh...a third year!" the emcee cheered when he saw the new name he picked from inside the box. "Oh hell...We got a third-year! A third-year!"
The entire place grew quiet. In the suspense, everyone was getting curious of the reaction of a third year getting dragged into this game. Fujisaki scowled while Sumire was just grinning broadly. Saga who had the least of worry stopped dead on his spot.
"Is Saga-senpai, class 3-5 here?"
The once quiet place had been drowned by excited hissing. The raven looked around and got disgusted by their excited faces. He had no intention of giving these idiots what they want.
"Saga-senpai! Your bride's waiting for you!"
About to leave, Saga shrugged and turned. To his surprise though, Sumire grabbed his arm and pushed him towards the space in the center. Since they were at the front lines, almost out of balance, when Saga lifted his gaze, he was already at arm's lenght with the 'bride'.
The 'bride' who had no other expression from earlier was looking at him. He looked like he was about to die from something. His green eyes were wide, almost like pleading. If he was pale earlier, now he had almost the same color as the white paper roses at the spot serving as the fake altar.
"My, my...Saga-senpai seemed to have been thrown here! Look at his involuntariness!"
The crowd laughed.
"Saga-senpai...considering that this is an arranged marriage, and we feel for your future happiness, you can back out and save yourself from being binded with him forever."
Straightening himself Saga sighed, the brunette looked the other way at the same time. He had no idea why but he felt somehow troubled.
"What if I decline?" the raven asked. The brunette beside him looked up, his expression though was no where surprised. He must have seen this coming all along too. "Oi? I'm asking here."
"Err..." the emcee who was a first year too with a big mouth smiled. "Senpai...he agreed that if no one marries him out of five tries, he will be incharge of most of the after-school duties..."
Saga glanced beside him. He wondered about that 'agreement'. The brunette looked like everything had been forced to him and he just wanted to get this over and have a peaceful high school life. Too bad, to make their booth eyecatching, they've used a sacrifice.
The raven glanced at his classmates. Fujisaki was watching him seriously. Sumire had his fist in the air. When he darted his gaze back at the brunette, he felt a strange 'quietness' within that sphere. He felt that the leering, the laughter vanished for some reason as he looked at the bowed head, the clasped hands, the downcast eyes.
That feeling as if one stepped into a tunnel. Devoid of anything from outside and one could only hear the very slight sounds within an inch from him. He heard the trembling lips of the other though. The loudest silent scream of help. To stop this, to just get over this, to just leave him alone.
Strange, for being the observer type, Saga had jumped right into it, totally getting himself involved.
"You only make being gay your weakness when you allow them to make you believe it is so, dummy," Saga whispered.
The raven drew a deep breath.
"I accept the marriage."
Silence. Utter silence of disbelief. Utter silence of amazement. It was a deafening silence from an unexpected answer from a popular third year male student. Even if this was a joke, this was going down the history. Even if this was a joke, this would be a story to be passed to the successive years. And a legend it would soon become.
"Uh-senpai? Did we hear you correctly?"
The raven patted the bowed head beside him once. "We're getting married. This is what this is all about isn't it? Let's get it over with."
The first year beside Saga who was nothing but surprised lifted his gaze. Searching, his green eyes looked like melting. On the verge of crying, on the verge of vanishing.
"Senpai...they'd talk badly of you if you marry me...they'd also make rumors of you being gay...being a homo..."
Saga raised a brow. So this guy can actually talk, he thought.
"Did I get the wrong impression or you want the after-school duty so badly after all?"
Saga for once, for the first time that day, actually smiled. "Aren't you annoyed being made as the laughing stock? What do you say about a little revenge?"
The raven's voice was so soft it was only that brunette who could hear it. The large green eyes threw him a curious look.
"Leave it to me."
Fake marriage certificates. Fake matching wedding rings. Fake exchanges of vows. It was somehow a little strange that when Saga Masamune and Onodera Ritsu stood side by side before the altar, it looked strangely serene. Awestrucking genuine. The popular third-year had a genteel expression on his usual blank face. The brunette's belwildered expression looked charming in its way.
Gone were the leerings. The crowd only watched.
"I pronounce you husband...and uh...husband...I mean bride..." the one at the altar cleared his throat. "You may now kiss the b-bride..."
The fake paper bouquet of flowers that Ritsu was holding fell on the carpeted grounds. He was as equally surprised as the audience.
Saga Masamune had leaned closer. The crowd was made to be speechless.
Saga leaned in. He sealed the marriage by kissing his kouhai on the forehead.
Sumire who could no longer contain his excitement hooted. Followed by the rest, everyone was clapping their hands although confused and surprised. Fujisaki merely smiled as if relieved that his classmate didn't do the same as those initial bastards.
"Well then, sorry to disappoint you but this guy and I have some honeymoon to do," Saga lopsidedly announced. "So excuse us."
The audience was left staring at the two retreating figures walking away hand in hand. Followed by Sumire and Fujisaki, Saga Masamune and Onodera Ritsu vanished within their sight.
"What...what the hell..."
The emcee stood in silence too. It didn't go as planned. Not only was that sickly looking brunette got away of after-school duties, he also got saved by a popular senpai whom everyone found to be mysterious and well away from everybody's grasp.
"Senpai!" the first year shouted, still being dragged by his senpai. "What did you just do?! They'll seriously-"
"Did you see that?" Saga shouted back, still looking ahead.
"Their surprised faces!"
The raven, running and pulling along the brunette with no direction glanced behind him. His smile, the light from the sun hitting it, made him almost unearthly. The kouhai was lost for words.
"Their ugly surprised faces when they didn't get what they want!" Saga said, feeling the wind brush towards him. "How's that?"
Ritsu was silent as he allowed himself get dragged to some place he didn't know. Slowly, a smile crept into those lips, second by second becoming wider until he himself was laughing himself. How good it felt when the emcee who for some reason loved to put him to embarassing spots looked like his jaw had dropped to the ground.
Saga felt the hand he was holding squeeze his shortly.
"Thank you senpai! It was fun!"
The raven had the urge to glance behind him again. It was because hearing the refreshing laughter trailing behind him felt different. That time, the always bored him had one thing in mind...
Takano Masamune's wrist watch was saying one in the morning. Lately, even going home to his cold apartment had been a chore that he would rather stay in his office. He sighed and stood, seeing the very faint traces of the sun about to peak from the sky crapers surrounding his own building.
"That was fun..." the man whispered. "It was really fun..."
The traces of his youth had been slowly erased by things adults had to face. But that memory was still clinging to him strongly. Reminding him at least of the meaning of 'fun', of being 'carefree', and of being 'one's self'.
Standing from his seat, Saga turned to the floor to ceiling windows. Silence of the night and the strange sigh which escaped his lips surprised him.
"Where could that idiot be now?" Masamune asked aloud. That sickly looking brunette seemed like the type who couldn't do things right the first try. "If that marriage was real...I'm about to committing Bigamy now..."
His low chuckle filled his office as he gathered a new stick of cigarette. He motioned for his expensive lighter yet had to pause before he could even bring it to the cigarette in his lips.
"Senpai...can I...can I hold on to our rings?"
It was that sort of voice that that idiot brunette used which was etched in Masamune's head. A hopeful, on the verge of tears whisper that was disturbing. That was annoying. That was a little over for Masamune's apathetic self.
The incident had been such a surprise and the brunette surely had chosen the worst time possible during the raven's high school graduation.
"Did you get too delusional just because I got a little too friendly with you?"
In the midst of many, the more than a decade younger Masamune had said that. He said it too fast that by the time he realized it, students already had heard it.
"Go fuck yourself...disgusting homo..."
Even Takano knew that it was a very terrible parting gift he had given to that kid. It was just because of circumstances and his supressed anger that brought it out.
So now that he was getting married this time for real, he suddenly had this slight curiosity to see what had become of his first 'bride'.
chapter end notes:
Hi...well...i wrote this a couple of months ago...and am just finalizing the last chapter...XD hope you enjoyed it and please share your thoughts!