Author's note – This is my first foray into the Haru wo Daite Ita fandom although I've been a huge fan for a while. Reviews are always gratefully received and although this isn't her main fandom of choice, this little ficlet is dedicated to my incredible friend, Blue. Hopefully this will adequately replace the medal that she truly deserves after recent events! - Swordy
The house is in darkness, save for the one lamp that lights the corner of the room and the glow of the television set. I've been here a while but I am in no way bored of my current position. A report on Japan's economy has just finished and up next on this channel is what I've been waiting for – the entertainment news. The presenter announces what will be on the fifteen minute programme and as the screen changes accordingly, I catch a brief, tantalising glimpse of him. I smile. Seeing him makes me do that.
I sit through an interview with a cocky, confident, up and coming rock band before I see what I have tuned in for.
Katou Yohji – my lover.
There is no interview – just a series of clips from his latest film 'Dangerous Games', which is looking to be a box office smash. The critics are saying good things about it, and more importantly Katou is being talked about as an actor with no mention of his past life in AV. He'll be pleased with that, after all, we both know how hard it is to escape where you came from. I think he takes the references to his previous career much easier than I – so many times he's told me I shouldn't be ashamed of what I did before.
The clips continue showing tempting glimpses of Katou's movie. I haven't seen it yet – Katou wanted me to wait until it was released – but it looks really good. I know I'm biased since I'm sleeping with the leading man but it's got everybody talking, and with good reason by the looks of things. The presenter mentions Katou after she has given a brief synopsis of the movie, describing him as Japan's 'next big thing'. Both he and I have amassed a large following as we appeal to both gay and straight audiences. At first the media were cynical about whether our relationship was genuine or not. Many felt it was a 'convenient' way to escape our AV beginnings – a selling point that would capture people's interests for either the right reasons or the wrong ones. That hurt, even though I was pretty cynical about us at first. I'd have never entered into anything merely for interests of fame.
Back when there was nothing between us, I thought that was Katou's motive the night he turned up at my apartment and tricked me into kissing him. I was furious with him when we found ourselves splashed across the gossip columns the following day – I felt used and at the time, he exacerbated my anger by claiming he was giving me a lesson in media manipulation. I now know that wasn't true. Once Katou had secured my love he admitted that he would have kissed me, camera or no camera because he was crazy about me. The comment about media manipulation was typical Katou bravado – the type of which I am about to see as he appears on my TV screen again, his second appearance of the night.
The chat show I have tuned into is hugely popular, and Katou's being asked to appear is insanely exciting, both for him and the producers of his new movie. The show is live and the mix of music and interviews ensures that it is compulsive Friday night viewing. The host is a comedian who often pokes fun at his guests and ever since he found out he was going to be on, Katou has been trying to second guess what Taki might ask him. He can cope with references to his AV career, but he's terrified of letting down his agency – and me. I've told him he doesn't need to worry (about me anyway) but as this evening has approached I've watched him grow increasingly nervous. Although I've done my best to reassure him, it's kind of sweet to see him like that.
However, the Katou that emerges when Taki introduces him is most definitely Katou the actor. He sports his usual ear to ear grin as he waves to the wildly applauding audience. He looks relaxed even though he's told me he definitely won't be. I'm the only person he'd confess this to and I know I'll never stop feeling honoured that he will share his vulnerabilities with me. And I with him of course. He has this incredible knack of easing my worries and I can only pray that I offer him the same.
The other thing I notice is how incredible he looks. His skin is polished perfection under the studio lights, his teeth are a dentist's dream. As he sits down, he runs a hand through his hair, yet disturbing the wavy golden locks only serves to enhance his attractiveness as several strands fall across his eyes. He laughs as the applause goes on and on, despite Taki's joking attempts to control his audience, and eventually the host admits defeat by walking off-stage saying he is going for a drink. It's a good, light-hearted start to the interview and I hope Taki's good humour is setting my lover at ease.
Taki returns to his seat as the audience finally settles down. Katou is still grinning, waiting for the questions to start. When they do, it's about his new movie – what it was like to film, why he wanted the role and, most importantly, what his co-stars were really like. Katou is polite and gracious about them all – even his leading lady, who was difficult and demanding throughout filming. She was especially obnoxious towards Katou. Before he started filming he was warned that she had a reputation for pursuing, usually successfully, her leading men and that the likelihood would be that she would try and get her claws into him. She did try, and Katou rebuffed her advances with great patience, despite her increasingly dirty tactics. When she finally realised that this was one battle she would not win, she resorted to making snippy comments at him – a sore loser to say the least.
Despite this, Katou says only good things about her, demonstrating that he knows how to be professional even if she doesn't. After further talk about the movie and a little about Katou's career in AV, conversation moves onto us. Taki voices the most recent rumour – that our relationship must have broken down because Katou attended the premiere of Dangerous Games without me.
My lover laughs and shakes his head before he replies. He tells Taki that he shouldn't believe everything he reads or hears, which is most definitely true.
"Iwaki-san is at home because he twisted his ankle while filming his new TV series," he says with a grin. "He didn't come to the premiere with me because he's been ordered to rest up."
As if it has heard what Katou has just said, my ankle twinges obligingly. I wish I had an exciting story to tell about how I did it, but all I did was slip on some oil that someone had spilled on set. The producers were furious since my accident has held up filming for a few days but in truth, I'm glad of the break. We've been filming from dawn to dusk for the past couple of months with little opportunity to spend time with Katou since he's been so busy too. Spraining my ankle has given us a few days together, and, ironically since the rumour mill has fired up with news of our supposed rift, we've been closer than ever. I just want to be with him all the time and, even though I'm seeing him on the TV, I realise I miss him badly. He looks so beautiful.
"So how are things with you and Iwaki-san?" Taki asks, grinning although he really wants the dirt on our relationship since the newspapers obviously have it so wrong.
Katou smiles his radiant smile. "Not that people will believe me, but things are fantastic. My only complaint is we don't get to see enough of each other."
That makes me smile, since I've only just been thinking the exact same thing.
"He's a very special guy. We're really happy."
Taki looks please, although he'd have probably looked exactly the same if Katou had announced he liked ice cream, since his single expression is an inane grin.
"So what would you say your experience has been of being a celebrity and coming out?"
Katou looks thoughtful for a moment. "It's weird, you know? I still don't see myself as being gay and so I've never really 'come out' in that sense."
"Oh come on," Taki says playfully. "You do the horizontal marathon with another man and you don't consider yourself gay?"
The audience laughs, as does Katou. "No really. I know it sounds a contradiction, but I don't look at other men and think they're attractive. I just happened to fall in love with Iwaki-san. I think the outcome would have been the same if he'd been female. He's an incredible guy and I love him very much."
I see the honesty in my lover's eyes and I am both surprised and proud that he has been so open about his feelings in public. In Niigata, I hope my brother is watching. Our relationship is still uneasy following my mother's death, but I think he's starting to accept that my future lies with Katou. Like the media, he too was cynical about my being with a man – not for fame, but to add further insult to my already injured family. That really hurt, but I guess I can understand where his feelings came from. It seems like everything I've ever done has disappointed my loved ones. Maybe one day he'll see that the commitment Katou and I have for each other, especially in our line of business, should be a source of pride, not shame.
The interview ends with tumultuous applause as Katou leaves the stage. His agency will be thrilled – a successful appearance on such a high profile show will elevate his profile and further prove to his detractors that he has something special to offer in mainstream entertainment. I flick channels but quickly find myself dozing off knowing that I have seen everything I wanted to see… for now at least.
I awake from my light slumber at the sound of the front door opening. The TV is still playing; an old movie that I think we watched one rare weekend when both of us were between projects. My eyes are however drawn to a better sight. In the doorway stands Katou – but this is the Katou only I get to see.
His clothes are rumpled, having been thrown back on after changing out of the suit he wore on TV. His face is blotchy having been scrubbed clean of the heavy makeup necessary for appearing in front of merciless stage lighting. It has been raining this evening, and his hair - doused in equal measures of rainwater and industrial strength hairspray - is plastered in a sticky mess to his head, telling me he has probably walked part way home; something Katou is want to do, much to his agency's horror. When he grins, I notice he has something stuck in his teeth – a snatched treat from the after-show party that he has left early to come home to me.
This is the Katou I love – the regular guy who fishes some slightly squashed, napkin wrapped makizushi from his pocket and holds it out. "Thought you might be hungry," he explains.
"I've eaten," I tell him with a smile. "But thanks."
He places the sushi on the table and comes to sit beside me.
"You were great tonight," I tell him, reaching out and touching his face. He yawns and nods and I sense his relief that it's over.
"You didn't mind that I talked about us? I meant every word, Iwaki."
I remember his declaration of love on live prime time TV. "No! I was sitting here grinning like an idiot." As I'm speaking, he rests his head on my shoulder, prompting me to stroke his wet yet sticky hair. "I loved it. You were funny and smart – I could tell that the audience really took to you. I think Taki-san liked you too because he didn't make fun of you. You remember when Watanabe-san was on? Taki-san ripped him to shreds!"
I'm surprised when he doesn't appear to share my enthusiasm. "Katou?"
His response is a soft snore, and I smile, realising that he's already fallen asleep. His expression is peaceful and, despite the weight resting on my shoulder and the crick he'll be working up in his neck, I haven't the heart to wake him just yet. I confess, I could watch him like this for hours because there is no front, no actor's bravado – just him and his gentle beauty.
This life of endless work schedules takes it out of us but I wouldn't trade it simply because it brought us together. I also don't mind sharing Katou with his thousands of adoring fans because I know there will always be a side of him that they can't have. It may not be the polished perfection that graces the movie screen, but that's fine with me. In my eyes, this Katou is the real star.