It was true. Birds of the same feather flock together. Used up since forever and couldn't any be real. Rich people's circle consists of rich people as well. Good-looking people get along well with equally bestowed beings. And well...plain and average people were also clustered together like glue.
As for him? He didn't belong with the rich ones. Not with the good-looking ones either. The saddest part? He couldn't even fit with the last group of plain people.
His problem was so heavy. Literally and subjectively. It weighs about 280 pounds. His weight. His self-depression. His loneliness. So heavy it was about to bury him deep into the ground.
One saving matter perhaps of his thick layers of fat was he had so much to burn for heat during winter. Unlike some who could easily die just because of just a slight chill.
He sighed in relief. Every step he made created sinking sounds as his feet created holes into the pile of snow. He trudged and dragged his heavy legs towards a bench in the park. The emptiness despite the sound of the breeze playing with his tousled, greasily dark blonde hair was deafening. He liked it and hated it at the same time.
He sat, almost occupying a bench that was for three people. He shuffled into the plastic bag he was carrying and brought a warm chocolate drink to his cheek. Once satisfied, he rummaged again into the bag.
"I got another one here, green tea flavour. I brought it for you since you said you like it..." he said happily as he placed the straw into the tetra pack. "It's another cold winter night isn't it?"
The wind came howling at him. Yet all he did was just place the drink on the small space left on the bench. He hummed and hummed and smiled once in a while. Yet as he watched the first snow fall for the night, soft and playfully lingering in the air before silently falling on the others waiting below, his smile faded. His humming halted. And he just stared far ahead, almost not seeing anything.
Yukina Kou rubbed his eyes and started munching with his still warm manjus. Yet no one could deny the wetness lining his fluffy and soft cheeks.
He was twenty-one. Yet there he was, talking to an imaginary friend.
His slightly slanting eyes narrowed even more. When he looked down, it was a bulging portion of his stomach that he saw, not his feet, not the ground.
"It's gross how fat he is!"
He inhaled remembering something that he could hear ever since he was young. The feeling of the cold air burning into his airway getting more intense.
Wallowing in self-pity, directionless, what a life. Perhaps the gods have some grudge on him. They made him a total mess of a person inside and out.
He didn't know how'd he had become the man he was now. All he could remember was he had some hormonal imbalance around his puberty years. He had tried starving himself but gained even more. And years and years of enduring judgemental eyes while trying to kill himself with all the exercises out there, not just from outsiders but also from his friends and family have taken its toll.
And one day, he just stopped caring. About his weight. About his appearance. About his life.
"So yeah..." Yukina exhaled. "My professor also told me that my paintings are no good."
He ate the manju in one go and swallowed hard.
"...well no surprise...everything is 'no good' about me I suppose."
The man slightly chuckled as he tore another manju in half, carefully wrapping the other half in a tissue before setting it beside the green tea drink for that 'imaginary friend'.
He continued with the only thing he considered as his leisure; that sitting alone quietly in a poorly lit park to get away from the annoying eyes in the daylight. He liked that it was dark. He liked that it was cold, somehow making him forget that his insides was a place colder than his surroundings. It was his and time alone.
So when he saw moving silhouette from not so far, he produced a scowl. He narrowed his eyes to get a clearer view. Maybe a few yards from him, he saw them. It seemed like both were too close to each other for just a mere conversation. Too close for a wholesome chitchat. Despite that distance and the dimness enveloping everything, it was clear that the animals over there were doing something outrageous and indecent.
Yukina looked away. That sound carried by the wind going into his direction sounded like a muffled voice. A moan of some sort. Gasping. Intense.
"Shit...lowlifes become even lower when they're in heat huh?" he hissed. "Get a room damn it..."
The moaning continued, getting more violent and too hard-core for Yukina to stomach. His peace already broken, he couldn't find any reason to stay. He gathered his food and his 'imaginary friend's share and turned back once more at the hideous people, ready to give them a disapproving scowl.
Yet what he saw was a ragdoll who got thrown off the snowy ground, followed by the other scrambling away.
Perhaps it was instinct. His body had already accepted that he couldn't possibly run after that speeding away figure. So instead, he went to the ragdoll lying on the snow.
It was only a few meters, yet Yukina was already wheezing as he fought the pull of gravity and the sinking of his feet against the snow.
"Oi!" he yelled. "Oi...fuck! My shoes are getting heavier!"
As he got closer, it got clearer. A faint sob in the air there was.
As he stood beside the rag doll, frail and trembling with finger marks around the neck perhaps from being strangled, the contents of the rag doll's bag a few meters away littered around, he became aware. It wasn't anything he had assumed. It was an act of violence. Robbery maybe.
"Oi..." Yukina called as he knelt. "You okay?"
But the rag doll was already unconscious.
Yukina frowned, the red shirt he was wearing just so happened because all his clothes have yet to dry.
"Yeah right. I help you and the first thing I get is bullying?"
The hazy expression on that still small pale face had suddenly been wiped off. Replaced by shock, confusion and fatigue, he looked a lot worse. But Yukina was relieved. The guy earlier was sleeping without moving at all, even his breathing was barely noticeable he feared the dark-haired guy was already dead.
Yukina pursed his lips before turning back to the wringing of a warm, wet towel beside him. His back was huge like a wall, a great wall hard to climb and pass through.
"Do you want to go to the hospital?" Yukina quietly asked. "Sorry, I can't run after the guy who robbed you...and I...didn't want people staring at me..."
The dark-haired guy slowly sat himself up from the futon. It only occurred to him that he was under layer and layer of blankets he was almost practically buried under it. He tugged them off one by one, smelling a faint sweet of fabric conditioner.
After wringing the towel, Yukina extended it to the raven, not making eye contact. "I was thinking of wiping you clean, where you fell was a little muddy...but well...you're awake now so here."
"Tell me your parents' number."
"Huh?" the raven blinked while slightly patting his cheek with the towel. "My parents'...?"
"I've got to tell them their son's been robbed. What's a high schooler doing in a dark place anyway?"
It looked like the raven was scrutinizing Yukina's pores as he just stared in silence. "I'm thirty you know."
Rubbing the side of his neck a little roughly, it seemed like he had forgotten the rawness against his skin and flinched. His blue-grey eyes smiled, but it looked everything but happy.
"And I wasn't robbed of anything. It was just a fight...break-up fight..." he trailed off.
The brown eyes narrowed, sensing a rather private matter he didn't want to involve himself with. Obviously the other person earlier was a guy. This stranger was saying he had a break-up fight with him? How new. In the back of his mind though were his own thoughts, floating and whispering nonstop words such as 'gay', 'mess', 'sex'.
"Oh..." the owner of the 1Dk apartment halfheartedly nodded as he tried gathering a few mangas scattered near him. He can't almost see them though. The sight he saw just an hour ago still fresh in his mind.
Winter. Silent and cold. On top the dirty snow was a sprawled thin man. Clothes almost ripped. Neck screaming of finger marks he could just imagine how strong they dug. A total defenseless fragility of a human. Something he didn't want to see if he had a choice. It claws deep into his own wounds which the only difference was his couldn't be seen.
But then he already saw it and there was no way to unseeing it.
"I..." the raven started. ''I didn't expect that he'd be able to do that to me..." he mumbled as he looked down. "...he strangled me...with all his strength..."
Yukina still didn't want to look. Yet hearing the slight trembling from the voice, the shuffling on his own futon, he realized the guy had pulled himself in a tight ball.
"Why cry over such a violent person?"
"He...wasn't like that at the beginning..."
Kou narrowed his eyes, silent for a very long while. He had his fair share of people who became so indifferent to him. What the raven said, it just hit home.
"Well," Kou coldly remarked. "...aren't everyone like that?"
The feel of the wall against his back felt like he had been absorbed by the hard and cold surface. It was three in the morning and yet he was still awake, sitting at a corner.
Thin was the curtain by his small window. Through them he could still see the slow falling of snow from outside, like cotton silently making their way down. He looked at them for such a long time, waiting for sleep to set in. But it seemed like there was no way he would be able to sleep at all.
From the window, he slightly glanced at the stranger who was currently snugly invading his futon. The lamp shade he had brought from a thrift shop was showering them with a soft warm, yellow. It highlighted a little of the soft features of that raven who really can sleep like a log.
It was the very first time Yukina had ever let anyone enter his sanctuary after hiding into his shell. It felt weird and troubling. But hearing the slight breathing from the usual dead silent space, made him sense life. His own breathing, mingling with the man's gave him a sense of comfort he was so unfamiliar with. He wasn't alone. He wasn't non-existent.
"He's one of them..." Yukina whispered, his eyes nowhere else aside that young-looking man. "..."
Peacefully sleeping, the stranger unknowingly turned to his side. A side where the silent still-awake man could see the entirety of the very line of that person's form. A few strands of dark hair softly fell against his relaxed face. And even when he wasn't doing anything, he managed to make Yukina stare. Stare for so long. Stare in bated breathing.
Slightly shifting his gaze towards the television across him, Yukina's eyes showed a little surprise. Slowly, he looked away. He almost forgot. Funny the TV was off. Yet his very dim reflection, unruly hair and body like a bursting barrel saddened him.
"He will surely...forget about me..."
The next day Yukina woke up from his sleep, there was no one except him. He merely looked left and right before crawling to his now empty futon. So what? He wasn't at all surprised. He had seen this coming.
He laid on his futon on his stomach, shuffling to get that comfortable position. Snuggling against the fluffy dark blue pillow, he slightly opened his eyes. The fabric was still pretty warm. And when he inhaled, a scent other than his warmly tickled his nose.
He closed his eyes once again and knew he was back to normal.
He thought it was just another earth tremor. He moved side to side, covering his head with his pillow. Yet no matter how much he ignored the doorbell and the kicking to his door, it reached the point that he couldn't take it anymore. Salesmen on the field could really be annoying.
"Damn it..." he glanced at the clock. "It's just six..."
He stood lethargically, not caring about how he looked, he went to the genkan and prepared a very menacing glare. With his intimidating size, it didn't take much effort to scare annoying people.
"What is your pro-"
"Hello. Yukina, good evening."
The big man by the door couldn't help but stare at the smiling stranger before him. Head a jumbled mess, he unconsciously stepped one back.
The large grayish eyes blinked at Yukina in bewilderment. "What...you slept through the entire day?"
Avoiding eye contact, Yukina looked over the raven's shoulder. The sun had just set in. The void scenery of endless city covered in snow somehow odd.
"This is...it's my normal waking up pattern," the big guy mumbled.
The stranger continued smiling, as if understanding something even Yukina can't.
"I needed to leave early this morning and wasn't able to thank you. So here I am to show you my gratitude."
Yukina turned around, tired all of a sudden. Was he that lacking of human interaction that just a small talk was draining him like this?
"No need. Please go back. I'm still sleepy."
"Eh?!" the stranger scrambled inside uninvited. "I left you sleeping and I come back and you're sleeping again? That's no good..."
Sighing deeply, the dark blonde man glanced behind him. The glint of his eyes everything but amused.
"Let's eat together?" the stranger hopefully asked, pushing his obviously thinning luck. "My treat."
Just because he wanted to get away fast with this seemingly over energetic guy, Yukina Kou agreed. Totally wrapped in winter clothing, he appeared even bigger. He appeared like a comical character from a tasteless gag manga from his unmatching scarf and old shoes to his unkempt greasy hair. Contrary to the shorter guy beside him who was exuding an unexplainable air that was making Yukina feel an urge to look at him again and again and again.
"I can't believe I have someone like you in this neighborhood," the stranger started, wrapping his scarf tighter around his thin neck. "You really seldom go out huh?"
"I've been living at the apartment two blocks away from here for a long while now. Oh, sorry, I've been yapping here so much and I haven't even told you my name."
Yukina just remained silent, almost in a hunchback he moved. This time was still the rush hour. Office workers, students from cram school, they were all over the streets and the more he thought about reaching the busy business side of the city, the more he could feel his gut tightening.
"Your doorplate said 'Yukina Kou' right?" the stranger beamed. "Pretty princely name, isn't it? Your parents are so hip."
"I'm Kisa Shouta," he continued on. "I really think it's such a childish name but well...that's what it is."
The other taller guy seemed like he was about shrinking back. Their destination was just around the corner. The sound of cars, the sound of Christmas carols, the sound of a living city becoming more and more real. A sound he had tried so much to get away from.
"You're noisy..." Yukina hissed. "You really are...can't we just go, eat and then be done?"
The raven looked at Yukina and pursed his lips right after. Silence suddenly stretched between them. Only continued footsteps over accumulated snow filled their ears. A slight embarrassed chuckle came out of the raven's mouth before he completely shut-up.
Even Yukina felt he shouldn't have been such a jerk.
"Look...sorry. I am just...not used to waking up this hour. Usually I wake up around eight or nine..."
Nodding, the raven smiled a bit. He looked relieved and happy, recovering very fast.
"Well...it's kinda you know...I missed it..." Kisa mumbled. "Chatting I mean. So sorry if I'm being so much talkative."
Yukina inwardly creased his brows. For a little guy with such energy and looks and charm, what was this Kisa saying he missed 'chatting'? He could chat all he want and most people would find him cute and endearing.
"It's nice too you're honest about me being noisy," Kisa mumbled, throwing Yukina a warm smile before looking ahead once more. "I'd rather have that than being talked about behind my back."
Finally on to the last block before the main street proper, Yukina bowed his head. The biting cold air was blowing past him, making him shiver even though he wasn't all that easily affected by the cold. The night street was glowing. Christmas lights, playing their routine from most establishments were nothing but a nauseating scene for him. Not just that. The people, so much of them happily chatting, so much of them suddenly halting or giving him a look of surprise before pretending they didn't see anything. It was troubling and he would really rather be in that dim park, eating alone, thinking alone, being alone.
"Eh...isn't that?" some cram school students walking behind the pair's back commented before running ahead of the two with laughter. "That's funny!"
Kisa didn't seem to mind. All the more making Yukina wanting to run back. From his brown eyes, even when he tried not looking, from the corners of his sight he could see the look of disgust from those people. They would look at his overweight self and would look at his good-natured companion with even more disgust. In the eyes of these people, he was a glutton who didn't do anything from day to night but eat. A pest to society. A non-productive member of the community. An eyesore.
The raven looked to his side with obvious surprise. His eyes round and bright from the Christmas lights.
"Wow...first time calling me..." Kisa grinned. "Now I feel happier I can eat three bowls of rice!"
"No..." Yukina stopped from walking. He glanced a little to his busy surroundings and oddly looked at Kisa. "Can you...walk ahead of me?"
"People tend to stare when I'm around...being this over-sized bloated stomach sticking out."
Kisa Shouta's smile vanished. For what seemed like a very long time, he just stared at Yukina before finally sighing.
"It's not walking 'together' if I walk 'ahead'."
"Besides...they're not looking at us only because you're fat or anything like that."
"It's because you don't go out much that you're not even aware of me right?"
Looking around, Kisa tucked his gloved hands inside his coat and shrugged. "They're looking at us because I am this 'dirty male prostitute' or something. Someone who shouldn't have come to this rather peaceful part of the city or something like that."
Yukina thought he heard wrong.
Kisa looked straight at Yukina suddenly. "It seems like ignorant people tend to think that all gays are prostitutes." He sighed loudly and glanced around some shoppers who were sneaking a glance or two at them. "It's not like they're wrong. I am a male prostitute. I just don't let it get to me."
Yukina was still dumbstruck at the swirling things this short fellow was pouring over him in public.
"And the guy last night? He's a boyfriend I got from work. It seems like he's tired of me so he beat me up and you can just guess the rest."
The taller man looked around once more. In a blink of an eye, something felt different all of a sudden. The attention wasn't to him. He was too occupied with everything about himself that he failed to notice that whom everyone was staring at like a piece of a rare object, was the guy beside him.
"I can totally understand what you're saying Yukina..." Kisa whispered. "You feel secluded...right?"
A group of students passed them by. It was followed by a happy family of four all carrying shopping bags. The cars on the road beside them were running a little slower as the traffic was building up. And the snow that had stopped earlier that afternoon started falling on Earth again in a hypnotizing, relaxing manner.
Kisa cocked his head to the side. "Do you still want to eat with me?"
Yukina felt his jaws protest. It felt like rigid pieces started crumbling off his face. He had forgotten the last time he did that as broadly as this. Smiling.
This time, they walked while matching with each other's strides.
"Seriously!" a distant voice came wheezing at Yukina's back. "You really are nocturnal aren't you? It's one in the morning and you're here again in this park!?"
Yukina Kou was indeed again sitting at his bench, in his small kingdom, gazing at the cold sky and the somehow weak stars over his head. December has just ended and after all the festivities of Christmas and New Year, the neighbourhood was once again back to being mellow. Back to being slow-paced.
The difference though was instead of being alone with Yukina's 'imaginary friend', there was really a warm flesh and blood that would always accompany him as if he had nothing better to do. Kisa Shouta had been a regular visitor, to eat, to sleep, to chat.
Kisa Shouta sat at the small remaining space on the bench. He exhaled, pulled his knees up and then just like Yukina, look at the sky. Most often than not, they would just actually sit there for hours without talking. They would just sit, glancing once in a while at each other before immersing their thoughts into their own world.
And Yukina had felt so used to this.
"I broke up with my boyfriend again," Kisa whispered suddenly, laughing a little at the end. "We've been seeing each other for a week you know..."
Yukina glanced at his companion and sighed. "Another drop-dead gorgeous man?"
Kisa nodded while embarrassingly grinning.
Within a short span of time, Yukina had already known that Kisa Shouta had a thing for good-looking men. Going from one man to another, earning money, hoping for a real partner behind of all his promiscuous actions. Sometimes Kisa looked pitiful in a way.
"When will you stop selling yourself?" Yukina exhaled.
Kisa raised a hand, tucking his hair behind his ear. He looked deep in thought for a few seconds. "When I find 'the one'. As what everyone calls it."
Exhaling a puff of warm breath, Yukina took a green tea canned drink from his plastic bag and threw it at Kisa's direction. He had no idea what to say at times like this so he just end up giving Kisa a thing to eat or a canned tea to drink.
Already familiar with what was coming next, Kisa extended his hands in front of him and caught the drink in his palms. It wasn't warm anymore but he opened it nevertheless and gulped huge amounts down his throat.
"You...any plan on reducing weight?" Kisa asked after crumpling the can. "Wow...I'm parched."
Yukina stiffened from the question. How do he answer that? He had planned a bunch of times but just had no means to. This situation of his, it was more than sheer will power. It was already a medical condition that needed medical experts. And he was too much a chicken at his age to come and ask for anyone to make him look at least a normal person.
"What's the use...It's not like anything will be different."
A feeling of sharp poking started appearing on Yukina's side. When he looked down, Kisa was poking at his side with a finger, near the stomach with such seriousness that instead of being annoyed, he ended up feeling amused.
"Don't say that Yukina. If you slimmed down a bit, there are other tons of things you can do than just sitting here."
Yukina slapped Kisa's hand away jokingly. "Yeah right like what?"
"Hmm...We can go mountain climbing. You can finally hop on to an amusement ride...stop ditching classes, only appearing when it's exams. It's as if you're home schooling on your own I'm surprised they haven't kicked you out yet," Kisa had a ghost of a smile on his lips before stretching his hands to the sky. "...and the most important thing is...you'd be healthier."
"Nah...I'm fine like this..."
Kisa intently gazed at Yukina. What surprised the other though was the raven started snuggling beside him, pressing his weight against the dark blonde's side as if sucking out warmth.
"Ever thought of wanting a girlfriend?" Kisa asked, now almost sticking his cheek at the other's bulky, soft arm. "You know, sitting like this with your girlfriend, trying to warm her up when winter comes like this. Ever not dreamed of one?"
Yukina swallowed. He would have felt nothing was amiss if he was a bit drunk. The problem was he was only drinking green tea himself. So the sudden thumping in his chest was becoming really apparent. Watching the small figure against him, how it would feel being crushed against his massive self, how another's skin would feel against his own. It started surfacing in his mind that he had to clear his throat.
First time feeling like this towards a man. It was...probably because he was abstinent all years of his life and being in contact with another was making him aware of all he was being deprived of.
"Does slimming down equate to getting a relationship right away?" Yukina mumbled, forcing his hands to remain still instead of stroking the other's seemingly soft hair. "I don't think it makes a difference whether I'm this fat or not."
"Idiot. The problem with you is you don't have self-confidence at all."
"Don't give up on yourself just yet. You're just about turning twenty two," Kisa continued. He slightly brought his face up, staring at Yukina's profile with such an intense air around it. "You're a handsome man Yukina. Remember that."
Kisa said those words without even blinking. Such seriousness as if he was trying to engrave those very words to Yukina's soul.
Yukina forced a laugh though. "You're the very first one to say that. Makes me feel it's true."
"'Coz it's true."
The big man sighed, seemingly depressed all of a sudden. "Come on...I don't need you becoming like those commercials saying 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. I've had enough of that. You and I know I'm just this nowhere-going, fat art student."
Kisa suddenly jumped off the bench and stood right in front of Yukina. It was already dim yet it got even dimmer when Kisa blocked out all the light from the moon as he leaned in. Yukina was left only to stare. As small, soft hands started cupping his fat cheeks, Yukina felt something cupping his own heart.
"You know me Yuki...so when I say you're handsome...you're just that and nothing less."
Yukina forced a smile on his rigid lips. "You're way too close..."
"Scared that I'd steal your first kiss?" Kisa grinned.
The other frowned yet his lips were in an obvious smile as he teasingly blocked out Kisa's mouth with his hand.
"You're such a mood killer."
Yukina continued watching Kisa stomp around the snow covered ground like a little child. Well he looked like a little child. A bundle of all good vibes that suddenly came into him, telling him things and making him believe matters that otherwise he would never give a second thought.
The small holes of Kisa's feet was so contrary to the big ones that Yukina's feet left when he approached Kisa. Standing behind the raven's back, Yukina placed a hand over the other's shoulder.
"I'm...I'm going to the hospital tomorrow for a check-up..."
Kisa glanced behind him surprised.
"If...If...they find it okay together with medications...I'd enrol to a gym as well...so...can you go with me?"
Large was Kisa's eyes mirroring his surprise and every grateful glint in them. Yukina couldn't place how such a good-looking person as Kisa could be this happy for him too. He felt like he could cry.
"It's a date huh?"
The snow melted and seeped through the grounds. The petals of flowers and their scents lingered in the air. The lush green of life came resurfacing. The warmth brought back all life forms that went sleeping through the entire coldness. And that coldness, without everyone actually noting, has once again become dominating. And calendar months needed replacing. Clocks continued turning. Time continued ticking.
And for every day that passed, was the weighing scale changing. Slowly, little by little, drastic change was becoming so obvious that it wasn't just Kisa who noticed. Everyone. In the hospital. In the gym. In the neighborhood.
And then after two winters, summer came. A season physical appearances seemed to be the highlight.
He walked in front of the mirror in the shower room of the gym. Steam of the warm bath swirling around his feet. The other person inside the shower room had an appearance being vaguely hidden by the warm mist. Sometimes there it was, sometimes it wasn't. Yet traces of firm body muscles were evident. Toned arms, toned legs. Fluffy cheeks were no more. Instead, his sharp, long-lashed eyes accompanied by an almost perfect nose, being complimented by a full mouth. There was a stranger staring back at Yukina. When Yukina grinned, that man also grinned. When he drew a proud breath, the other did the same.
It was indeed a stranger that Yukina was just beginning to know and understand. Himself.
Yukina Kou was just drying his hair when a couple of girls came approaching him. He just got out of the shower, his skin glowing. People who would look at him sometimes had to pause first to make sure this was real and not a fantasy or mere hallucination.
It wasn't an exaggeration. Yukina Kou had become one of the best faces one could ever remember. A face one couldn't just forget and hard to compare after seeing.
"Hey Yukina!" they called once again. The man then paused and waited for the seemingly excited bunch.
All members of the gym Yukina was a member of, they were all a witness of this almost fiction miracle before them. Had they not seen the day by day, blood and sweat sacrifice this man dedicated to reach his goal, they wouldn't believe that Yukina was an obese. Sometimes the thought was too funny to even think about. And they didn't want to go back to those days when they didn't even want to throw a glimpse at the man. What mattered was the 'now'.
"You're getting more perfect..." one tanned-woman commented as she innocently ran a hand towards Yukina's bicep. "Firm and smooth..."
Yukina laughed, seemingly not at all bothered. "Well...I am still some pounds behind my ideal weight. My instructor said I can take it easy but...I feel like I can't stand a minute not doing anything."
One guy still carrying a small dumbbell joined in the noisy group. "I know...that feeling like you're just not doing enough."
Women and men laughed at that. They all know how hard it was to maintain and achieve self-set goals. They work or study, watch out every calorie, make sure clothes were in a match. As good changes became apparent, the more confidence they were earning.
Yukina swept the gym with his gaze. To think that he was so wary to enter the first day. And now it had become a second home.
He smiled inwardly, feeling content. He had never felt so light and confident in his own skin.
"Yukina is it true?" another petite woman with short hair and well-endowed chests she loved to flaunt called. She's called Mimi as if a name of a wholesome anime character by everyone because of her sweet face that seemed like a contrary to her perfect measurements. "I heard someone came to scouting you for modelling?"
Mimi smiled seductively around everyone. "Yup. I heard it's for a male underwear commercial."
The group became even more hyped up. Yukina, being humble could only laugh in return too. It was true he was being scouted for some men products such as those and a few clothing brands as well. He hasn't answered them yet, him still having not reach his ideal weight.
But it felt good. So good that he was now being sought. Not in his entire life had he even pictured this. Never did he thought that behind those thick layers of unwanted fat, was his real self hiding. Some people even started calling him a prince. Teasing him about this ugly duckling that had become a proud and a killer swan. But most girls would agree that a hawk would be more fitting. Elegant, frighteningly graceful and seductive.
When Yukina brought his eyes past the glass walls towards the streets, he saw him. The familiar short man in simple clothing with a sports bag slinging on one of his small shoulders and a weird looking plastic bag in one of his hands.
For Yukina, Kisa Shouta was as radiant as the sun. That used to be the case. Now that Kisa's face was behind some really good-looking and unique people, he doesn't seem to shine as much. To be honest, Yukina hardly could see him.
"Excuse me..." Yukina said to the group that had surrounded him. "I'll go out in a few minutes..."
"Eh...why?" Mimi asked as she followed the prince's gaze. She then started snickering. "Your 'girlfriend' is here again to check out on you? So devoted."
Yukina tried to hide his annoyance by softly smiling. And then he left the bunch. As the main character already left, one by one, the other gym goers went back to their regimens.
Suddenly stepping under the stinging rays of the sun after being in the comforts of the cool gym, Yukina felt a little dizzy. The sunrays were too bright that he had to squint. And he didn't know but he felt so lazy suddenly. Just earlier he was this full of energy man. Now he felt like he was forcing himself.
"Hello Yukina," Kisa greeted as warm as the sun.
Raising a hand over his forehead to block out the rays, Yukina nodded. "Yoh. What's up?"
"My previous appointment was just around so I decided to come here. I passed this manju store," Kisa raised the plastic bag at the other's face. "They're your favourite right?"
Yukina half-heartedly smiled, taking the plastic off the raven's hold. "You shouldn't have bothered."
The taller man raised his gaze at the very blue sky. Even when they were in the center of the city, he could still hear the loud cicadas as if they were just at his ears. A little absorbed to his daydreaming, Yukina finally noticed Kisa just quietly staring at him. He felt a bit...disturbed.
"Nothing," Kisa smiled. "Can't still believe you're that same teary-eyed fat guy who asked me to accompany him to enrol in this gym."
Yukina's face obviously dimmed. He didn't want to remember and the thought of being called fat was so sour for his hearing. "Is this all why you came here?"
"Ah...I don't have an appointment later...can I come to your place? It's been a while since we ate together."
"Appointment? Don't you have 'work'?"
"No I mean...you used to go out a lot before right? But all you do now is wait for me here. Is that okay?"
Kisa looked taken aback.
"You're still on finding your 'one' right? You won't find him if you just wait around here."
"What...are you saying so suddenly?"
Yukina smiled, patting Kisa on the shoulder as if consoling the man. "I'm about reaching my goal Kisa-san...isn't it about time you try reaching yours too?"
"Anyway...sure...come. You have a spare key anyway."
Yukina turned his back and started heading for the entrance. When he glanced back, he just saw Kisa the same as the way he left him. Just standing there. Just staring at him. Not knowing what to say, Yukina waived a hand.
"Take care!" the prince called. "See you."
At the words, Kisa Shouta seemed to have gained back a bit of his color. He waived once too and walked away.
It'd been almost more than half a year now. From that time when almost a teary-eyed big fat guy said he'd try to change himself to something better. Kisa was happy that Yukina had found a sense of pride and confidence in himself. However...if anything, it was as if this summer was so cold. Contrary to the previous biting cold winter which Kisa never seemed to have noticed.
With more of him becoming perfect, more of new kinds of people came circling him around. Gym in the mornings. University in the afternoons. Partying and clubbing at nights. Being good-looking was such a convenient thing. People were willing to do what he wanted, what he wished. Even his family who'd been so cold and only just dropped him his allowance like he was some kind of a dog became much closer.
In a matter of time, the world seemed to be revolving around Yukina Kou.
And the more the prince built his own world, the more distant was he becoming to someone. And that little distance became bigger, wider, until sometimes he could even forget that such someone existed in the first place.
It only came back when in the middle of his bar-hopping, a small hand suddenly grabbed onto his arm. Tight. Shaking. Trembling. When Yukina looked at who it was who was trying to gain his attention, he was met by fierce pair of eyes. Not sure if it was because of the playful lights going on the dance floor, those pair of eyes looked awfully swollen and red.
"How can you do this to me?" Kisa gritted. His voice seemed like he was straining something within him.
"Huh?" Yukina nodded to a few girls who waived at him and started moving to the side near the wall. "I don't understand-"
"I sent you a message..." Kisa said almost shouting to beat with the loud music. "You said we'd go to this onsen opening...I waited for you at the train station for three hours!"
"Huh?" Yukina started creasing his brows. "I don't remember agreeing to that I told you I was busy!" he shouted too because of the noise.
For a long while, Kisa only looked at Yukina. Quietly. Piercingly. Tiredly. And then he nodded. Slowly letting go of the sculpted arm. Slowly stepping back away from the prince who everyone in that dance floor was crazy about.
Kisa looked around then. As if he forgot earlier and just had the idea to realize where he charged into. Green. Red. Blue. It was as if the rainbows broke free. They tumbled and jumbled lining the walls and drunk faces and beautiful people partying. Slowly, Kisa turned at the prince, looking at him from head to toe. From toe to head. And then just lingered at Yukina's face before turning around.
"I'm sorry. Go back to your partying."
"What the-wait up!"
The raven ran. He ran fast despite his short legs. He slammed to many walls called people. Mumbled panicking sorries in the process. He looked like he was running away from a nightmare. The loud music was a wall in its own, deafening Kisa's mind, rattling his chest. The climb up the stairs towards a narrow suffocating hallway felt like he was being swallowed by a wormhole. He was out of breath.
But when he finally got to the mouth of the establishment, nothing changed. He was still deaf. Deaf to everything and he could only hear his own gasping and painful breathing.
Like a lost child, Kisa staggeringly walked. Tugging mindlessly the sleeve of his shirt coming off from being grabbed by someone he slammed against earlier. It hurt. That collision with drunk people. But what really hurt was Yukina.
Kisa, really feared this day would come.
Instead of looking to the voice's direction, Kisa continued walking away. But he was tired, physically and emotionally. And he wasn't the athletic person to begin with. And so in no time, in the wee hours of the morning, amidst the parked cars and the faraway sounds of the dance floor, Yukina finally caught up with him.
"Kisa-san, what is it really?!" Yukina heatedly called. "You come here only to throw me a hateful gaze? What's wrong with you?"
"What's wrong with me?" Kisa mumbled. "What's wrong with you?!"
"Why did it become suddenly about me huh?" Yukina barked. His cheeks even in the dark was tinted with drinking. His clothes, his hair had been drowned by the scent of cigarette smoke, even killing Yukina's natural scent that Kisa had liked to snuggle to back then. "Am I not allowed to enjoy myself?! You of all people should know I've never had an opportunity like this! Everyone is looking up to me now! So why is it that you look so unhappy for me?!"
Kisa just stared at Yukina. Biting his lower lip he only gazed and lingered at the beautiful face that Yukina had become. Even in the parking lot which was littered with someone's puke, someone's garbage, someone's tasteless graffiti, Yukina's appearance could never be out down. Hard to rival. Hard to ignore.
And the more Kisa found himself admiring this new Kou, the more he felt pain in his chest.
"I'm very happy for you..." Kisa admitted. "I'm so happy for you. Everyone has finally seen how good and awesome you are."
"...happy really?" Yukina almost snorted. "Why do I feel so strained by your gaze? Why do I get this feeling that you don't want me mingling with others? Every time I have to go drinking or partying you always have to give me a fucking call in the middle! You always show up in the gym like you're my bodyguard!"
"You want to keep me, is that it? What?" Yukina scratched his messy hair which only added to his hostile charm. "Oh right. I almost forgot you're gay."
"Your type are those with really good faces huh? So have I become your type or something?"
The hoots of people from the nearby dance floor suddenly exploded. At the same time the more upbeat sound of a dance song floated in the air. The DJ was giving his all in his craft that the bunch had become nothing but a cult swaying into the timely, hypnotizing beat. There were a few cars honking somewhere. And a sound of an ambulance passing cut in through the silence in the parking lot.
It was obvious that the silence from Kisa was irking Yukina even more. And so, the taller guy motioned to leave. Yet he had to glance back at the words that Kisa said.
"Did you know Yukina? I already stopped being a prostitute since a year and half ago..."
"When will you stop selling yourself?"
A so distant memory that Yukina had already forgotten came glaring at him. A winter night. When he was still the fat, ugly man and Kisa was the only one there talking and keeping him company. It was so distant that it felt so vague. Like it never even happened at all.
"When I find 'the one'" was Kisa's answer. An answer so said while smiling with flushed cheeks at him.
Yukina watched the raven in the middle of the parking lot. Stuck in time. Stuck in confusion.
And then, Kisa just cried. Silently. While looking at the hostile prince.
"But it seemed like I have to get back to work..."
Two weeks. Two weeks that was strangely feeling like it's been already years that had been dragging on him down.
Two weeks of being surrounded by people. Endlessly. Yet strangely he felt alone.
The sun was blindingly bright outside. Hot and humid was that day. Yet something chilly was going on inside him.
Yukina was standing in his small apartment. Boxes and boxes were piled at all corners. Garbage, things to be left, things to keep, most of his new found friends he met at the club were all deciding about that as they helped Yukina Kou prepare into moving into a much spacious apartment.
The prince looked into his phone. Since that night in the parking lot, he hadn't heard a thing from him. No messages. No emails. No calls. Nothing.
"Oi...Yukina you keep on staring at your phone? Having a quarrel with your girlfriend?" a man, tall and was a professional model asked as he was taking off the wall clock.
Yukina slightly smiled.
"Yukina-kun's single!" said the red-haired girl, wearing a very thin shirt exposing every line of her sweating body. "Yukina-kun's single...but probably not for long..."
The other guy frowned at the obvious straight hinting of his cousin who just insisted on tagging along. Yukina only smiled as he lowered his phone down.
"Anyway Yukina, I'll carry these boxes into the van. Continue with sorting out the rest okay?"
"I'll stay here!" the girl chimed, obviously thrilled at the idea of being alone with her new found catch. She met Yukina by the dance club. The very epitome of what she was looking for in a male. "Hey...Yukina-kun...you'll be living closer to our house...come every once in a while okay?"
Yukina turned around, smiling just a bit before moving over his messy bookshelf. It's been damn too long since he last read a manga or focused into something else aside from toning down. Aside from going to the gym. Aside from being the perfect man he was now. Aside from being focused to being worshiped by just about everybody.
"Eww!" the girl shrieked. In her soft hands was a red shirt. "Look at this size! Did you use to room with a giant?"
The prince stared at the shirt oddly. It was his yet felt like it wasn't. To put it more correctly, it belonged to the past him.
"Wahaha...Yuki...I can use this as a blanket..." a picture of a raven rolling all over that red shirt once said. "It's so big...you know it's really like a blanket in winter...makes one feel safe."
She move to put that red shirt into the box which was tagged as 'garbage' before moving next to Yukina. She scanned the bookshelf with her large brown eyes.
"Ah...I know...you were rooming with a fat otaku previously?" she cocked her head to the side while giggling. "It doesn't really suit your image Yukina-kun...to be living with one..."
Yukina continued on smiling at the girl who knew nothing of how he was before. He slowly reached out to the pocket of his jeans and pulled his wallet. He took a wallet-size photo and showed it to the girl.
"Oh...the black-haired guy looks cute..." she remarked narrowing her eyes.
"Is he really that cute?"
She nodded. "Yup...very. Who's he?"
Before Yukina could even answer, the girl tugged the photo off of Yukina's hand. "Eh...who's the fatty beside the cutie?"
"Yeah! Wha...they seem close! To think that such a cutie would want to be beside this large guy. You know how fat guys tend to stink? Gross. I have a classmate before and he's got some serious body odor-"
Struck by something, Yukina carefully pulled the photo out of the girl's hand and placed it back inside his wallet. Yeah, the girl was right. Back then, why would such a man like Kisa would want to tag along with him even when he was nothing at all. And now...just because the world has been flipped a little, tilted to the side just slightly and he became this all sparkly, princely being as most people would try to describe him, he had forgotten the person that used to bring in his gloomy world the brightness of hope. The warmth of acceptance no matter who he was.
"Why cry over such a violent person?" he asked the raven the first night they met.
"He...wasn't like that at the beginning..."
"Well," Kou could remember his cold remark. "...aren't everyone like that?"
The petite woman started having this worried expression on her face. She tugged at the prince's arm. She looked around not knowing what to do. It caught her by surprise.
Suddenly in the prince's eyes were pain and unknown longing that took a physical form. An apparent and obvious sign that lined his cheeks down to his chin before it silently fell to the tatami floor.
"Yeah...I'm like that too. Jerk...bastard..." Yukina gritted, moving the heel of his hand to his right eye. "I changed...for the worst..." he breathed out.
He'd been blinded by the praises. The attention of people whom he didn't even know. He'd been mesmerized by his own new found self, the new found opportunities, the new kind of life. Gone were the times when he had to look at his feet when walking. Gone were the times that he could only imagine a smooth sailing relationship with everyone.
He drowned in the pleasure of everyone wanting to please him. And he drowned by the self-satisfaction he gathered from being appreciated. Who could blame him? It was just a dream back then. But who ever told him he can do these things in the first place? Who really?
"...when I say you're handsome...you're just that and nothing less."
That person told him the exact opposite of what most people were telling him. Did he not feel happy? No. He felt extremely happy. So much that it pushed him to make the first step.
And then when he finished all his steps, he realized that he had left that very person behind.
Yukina bowed his head. His broad shoulders started to slightly tremble. His throat hurt. And he didn't know what to do with it.
"Eh...Yukina-kun...what's wrong?" she asked again, feeling like this was her chance. Yet he felt Yukina's hand firmly removing hers hand around his waist.
"The red shirt is mine..." Yukina mumbled with a sad smile as he was staring at the pretty woman.
"The bookshelf and the mangas, they're also mine..."
"The good-for-nothing obese guy in the picture is me..."
"And that person beside me in the photo...is someone I failed to cherish..."
It wasn't a coincidence that they met at the train station and was now taking the same path going home. No it wasn't a coincidence. Yukina Kou had really waited. About three hours of waiting anxiously at the South Exit. Worried whether he should be at the North or East or West instead.
It was a mystery as it was amazing how the prince managed to single out a specific man from the ocean of people. From waves and waves of people with almost the same tired expressions after the working hours, he saw him right away.
And though their eyes met in the station, and though they were this close walking together, up until the point of Yukina's block no one had broken the silence.
The prince inhaled, sensing out the faint earthly smell of the coming autumn. It wouldn't take long before this lush green neighbourhood would be drenched in golden hues and burning touches. He glanced briefly at Kisa Shouta who was still not showing any sign of talking.
Kisa looked up, gracing Yukina a long look before turning to the front once more.
"It's...it's been a while..."
Yukina sighed. He knew it was his fault that they had become like this.
"I moved to a new apartment by the way..."
Kisa nodded. "Yeah. You've become pretty popular around here. I've heard about it."
The wind was neither cold. It still carried the humid touch but Yukina was breaking out in cold sweat. A long silence again stretched between them. And by the minute, Yukina was losing it.
"Really?" Yukina scratched the tip of his nose. "It's near my part-time job at a bookstore..."
"Oh. What happened to your modelling?"
"..." the prince looked up, hiding his expression from the other. "I...declined."
The gush of wind sent the dried leaves swirling around their feet. Because of the neighbourhood already sleeping, every sound of nature and every sound both the men made seemed a tad louder. Making each other, especially Yukina much aware of the other's presence.
"Your university is at the opposite direction though," Kisa said. Probably just to keep them both from falling into a more awkward and suffocating silence. "Why are you here?"
Walking a little faster than the raven, Yukina stopped a few feet before Kisa. His face in a sad and defeated smile. His tousled hair all over the place as his quivering lips began to whisper.
"I forgot something."
Kisa having no choice but to stop from walking too, halted as well. Briefly, he threw a glance at the familiar silent mansion nearby. He was so familiar with it. It brought warm and happy memories. Yukina's old place.
"Oh...it's that important for you to be here in the middle of the night?"
Yukina followed the raven's gaze. And nodding, he exhaled. "Yeah. I've actually discarded it, but realized it's something I can't live without."
Kisa innocently looked from the apartment back to Yukina. "Since I'm already here, let me help you."
The raven started walking towards the direction of the apartment. Yet have to stop. He had to when he felt his arm being taken by the only other person there. Yukina.
"...what is it?"
"I am talking about you..." Yukina smiled. But he looked nearly about crying. "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry..."
"You're the only one who stayed even when I am not worth it...even so I've been arrogant. I'm so sorry..."
The blue-grey eyes darted to the hand holding his arm. It was tight and somewhat hurtful. But one thing that caught his mind more was the evident coldness and dampness in that palm. That very huge hand was starting to slide down against his smooth skin. And the only way for Yukina to stay there was to hold tighter.
The moment Kisa brought his eyes back to Yukina was the time the tears the prince was holding back fell.
"Come back to me please?"
"Everything's pointless without you..."
Kisa continued gazing at that tearful face while removing the prince's hand on him. He did so without averting his eyes. He did while pinning with his gaze the other quietly yet intensely.
Words Yukina had wanted to say were left unsaid, as warm hands cupped his face. And the same as that winter night that'd been so long, he could feel his heart being cupped delicately too.
"I won't be coming back..." Kisa whispered almost shakily.
"I've never been away in the first place. I was just...waiting for you."
Yukina Kou drew in a deep breath. Earlier he wanted to cry of being at a loss. Now he wanted to cry for a different reason. He knew he didn't deserve this all-encompassing understanding after how he had just forgotten and tossed Kisa aside.
All he could do was bring the raven's hands to his lips, breathing 'thank you' non-stop.
It didn't matter to Yukina whether Kisa was a man. Or that it was his first time feeling this way. All he knew was the raven was the only one who accepted him unconditionally when he was at his most displeasing appearance. Someone who tried extending limitless patience when he showed a rotten side of his personality. Someone who cheered for him, laughed with him, spent silence with him.
He needed Kisa and that's all that mattered.
Walking hand in hand, Yukina once more stopped, surprising the raven.
"What is it?"
"I actually have something that I really forgot back in my room..." Yukina mumbled, grinning awkwardly. "I haven't surrendered my key yet…"
The raven eyed him suspiciously. "You...were you just making up everything a while ago?"
"No! Of course not!"
Kisa obviously was pouting, but he made no move into untangling their laced fingers. From the streets, up to that room in the second floor, they went hand in hand.
True, birds of the same feather usually flock together. Yukina Kou and Kisa Shouta were entirely different as having their own groups to belong to. But the prince and the raven decided to fly on their own.
Free and not bound by any rules.
"Sorry…" Yukina whispered as he opened the door.
"Whatever," Kisa said through smiling lips.
The lights of the room had been turned on.
The lights had been turned off right after. From the outside it was nothing but an empty place.
But very vague and hasty was the shadows through its bare window that tells the contrary.
chapter end notes:
Wahahahahah...thanks for the time reading. it's been a while since i wrote a one shot so i feel quite accomplished. hahaha..please share your thoughts. and about updating schedule. just check on my profile from time to time! XD
yeah...we're all familiar with that saying 'birds of the same feather flock together'. it is said it's a translation for Plato's republic, William Turner wrote "Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together" as his version. Says the wikipedia. XD