A/N: This story is set in modern metropolitan Japan, all the places mentioned are real places in Japan. If anything mentioned in the story has occured in real life, than it is purely out of coincidence.
I'll cut the shit load of bull; I like my life story short and sweet.
Even though it's one hell of a rollercoaster ride.
My name is Kuga Natsuki.
'Ku' as in nine, 'Ga' for obstinacy and 'Natsuki', which simply means 'summer child', but I can't recall myself being a child of the summer, since my birthday is on the 15th of August. That, unfortunately, apparently falls on the date when autumn usually starts. So it's goodbye summer and hello autumn, I should really change my name to fit my birthday so. However, it would make my parents down…they loved the summer.
I was born in the Miyagi prefecture in a town called Matsushima in the Miyagi District. My town lies just off Sendai Bay, however I didn't spend much time in my home town as my family moved to Mitaka city, Tokyo. We had to move for my mother had important work with a company called the 'First District'. My father, for the hell that I went through when I was only a toddler, ran away with his mistress. Never-mind that, I have his address, maybe I'll drop by for a friendly visit, indeed. No, he wouldn't be surprised to see how I have become; almost the whole of Japan knows who Kuga Natsuki is.
I am, after all, a photographer.
I'm a freelance photographer to be exact, now age 24, and a major in photography.
How about I start with what I did before?
I went to the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and after I graduated, I hit the streets with my camera. I use the Canon single digit series, even though my favourite photographer, Iwago Mitsuaki, uses Olympus. He takes great shots with his and I take as great ones with mine. He's far better, in the aspect that he can travel to so many places in the world whereas my bottom is stuck to soul-old Japan. However all in all, I know that both of us get what we want in those cameras that we use. I'll tell you the secret…it's all in the lens.
My first award I had won in photography was Best picture for some unknown competition in Tokyo. Then I moved to my second, which was the Higashikawa Prize in the New Photographer Category. My third was the Photo City Sagamihara award held in the nearby Kanagawa prefecture in Sagamihara city. My most recent one was the Kimura Ihei Award. That propelled me into limelight as this award is given out by the Asahi Newspaper Company; it's always a main attraction for the mass media and book-buyers. Unfortunately, that was too the time when my mother was viciously killed. As I was famously chased around by different agencies in and out of the newspapers and tabloids, my mother was too as seriously reported as a victim of gruesome murder. The newspaper had as much information about her death as it had about me; it was then driving me crazy.
Instead of me, the photographer, taking photos, I was being taken. I was questioned up, down, left, right and centre about my mother's death. Everyone: reporters, the paparazzi, the agencies I took interest in, the bartender, the local bus driver, the people on the street and I even think I could hear my dead grandfather asking me about it. I thought everywhere I turned to would only bring more bad vibes than the last, however, an agency I scampered to for an interview brought peace to me.
The Kanzaki Corporation agreed to my terms as I had to theirs. I am to them a photographer that would be allowed to choose whatever project I wanted to do, that still makes me a freelance photographer in a way; I ,still can do and take anything I want to. However, my name would come under theirs if I would to publish anything, which meant my photos would only be published in books and magazines under the Kanzaki Publishing Company. That was my contract. They didn't bring up anything on my dead mother who was still being circulated in the newspaper like an object. I appreciated that, they left me alone as I had always wanted it to be.
I hated crowds, as much as I didn't want to be on Newspaper.
Kanzaki Corporation is the big brother; I belonged to one of the small agencies. Yet I found out that the one I had landed in was actually run by the son of the Kanzaki Corporation, Kanzaki Reito.
He's a well off man that runs everything in a manner that I don't really mind. He's on the spot, accurate and precise. He doesn't fail to forget and to let others down. He's charismatic and charming, that explains why so many female employees swoon over him in the office. Most of all, he has a personality that earns respect from everyone, and that includes me. He can be strict at times, but everyone under him knows that the only way the company can reach the top. I babbling again, this is suppose to be about me.
Through this, I met Tokiha Mai, in a photo shoot that I requested out of pure boredom.
I wanted to hit the streets again and take scenic pictures of the tall buildings of metropolitan Tokyo. However I realised that it was bad idea of even stepping out of the Kanzaki Building as I was swarmed by reporters and the paparazzi that I unknowingly noticed had stationed themselves nearby. I barely made it back alive; I almost had my favourite coat torn because of it. With all that mess going on, I had nothing to do. I tried taking shots in the office, only to be chased out of every floor or be scolded by the staff for disturbing them in their work.
As seconds ticked by, I couldn't help but let myself groan so loudly. My hands had the tingling sensation to take shots, while my ears had the want to hear the shutter snap and I badly wanted to see time stop. That, I stormed up to Reito's office to request for a photo shoot to be set up to kill that boredom I had creeping up my body. I stormed in during a meeting, but he didn't scold me, all he did was smile and press a button on his receiver and say,
'Please get Tokiha-san to come by.'
I was thrown out after that and was told not long after that by a staff to bring the equipment I needed for a photo shoot. I was surprised that everything worked extremely fast as when I went to get my camera; another staff came by to say that studio 9 was prepared and ready to be used. When I entered studio 9, with much time wasted just trying to find it, my eyes met with everything that a professional photographer would have for a best photo shoot. It was all set up and ready…for me.
I, then only a twenty-two year old female new photographer, dressed like she had no money to buy new trousers and a shirt, was given a studio that all photographers would die to have. I almost fainted out of happiness, but I didn't… I am not like those cheesy girls that die out of happiness. I was greeted warmly by the supporting crew that had set up all the lighting equipment and the background screens for me. I introduced myself to them and I found out that they respected me a lot. It looks like my pictures have done some effect on them as well.
As I was choosing my lens, the make-up artist came by to introduce herself. She goes by the name of Higurashi Akane. I found out later that her boyfriend was Karauchi Kazuya who worked in the supporting crew that I usually worked with. She told me briefly who everyone was waiting for, however I was more intrigued in the studio than what she was saying until I was snapped out of my reverie when the door of the studio was slammed open.
I nearly dropped my lens onto the floor when that happened, however I noticed that everyone was apparently waiting for that as I was the only one that jumped up in alarm. There standing with her red-hair all in a mess and her clothes a bit dishevelled, was Tokiha Mai.
As I recalled from the boys in University, Tokiha Mai was one of the top five supermodels in Japan. That information was definitely confirmed later. Everyone wanted a piece of her. It seems that Reito has her for a whole, she must be extremely pricey; to even let my eyes set onto her was suppose to be a privileged account. I had expected her to be all stuck up so high that she wouldn't be able to bring her nose down, however whatever I had thought was turned when she greeted everyone warmly and ran up to greet me at once she noticed my new presence. This girl truly amazes me, till now she still does.
She is as old as I, just that now that she is really the 'summer child' for her birthday falls on the 22nd of July. Her cheery aura radiates all around her that it engulfs anyone that comes close to her. She's extremely carefree and relaxed when it comes to her work; it really makes it easy for me to work with her. Taking photos of a full length person posed a threat to me, as I usually took scenic, obscure shots and frames that didn't really include people at full length. So I took a long time to get the correct angles and lighting to make the photo look absolute. She was nonetheless very patience with me. She encouraged me here and there, giving me some tips the previous photographers did when they took pictures of her. She remembers the lighting clearly and how far I should stand back to get a good view of her in my frame. I was happy that someone was able to help me through this. I am still grateful towards her.
She tried on new clothes from the wardrobe and made the pictures even more dashing. No wonder why she was one of the top five supermodels in Japan, I'm not really one that will notice other people's body but I couldn't help but notice how big her breast are and how curvy she was shaped. I'm sure and still does, that her body can make any local boy drop dead from a nosebleed.
I spent a few days with her in the studio snapping frames, after that, I complied those photos after some minor editing and sent them to Reito to ensure that his efforts made for me wasn't wasted. The next thing I knew was that I had a copy of the Fuuka-Otome magazine, a famous Idol magazine, posted to my apartment. I threw it aside at first only to pick it up when I needed something to read to kill another period of boredom. There and then, I saw for the first time the pictures I had taken of Mai in a ten page special. I roared in happiness when I noted that my name was in bold stated at the bottom of the page.
I was called up by Reito shortly after I figured that out, that Mai wanted another photo shoot. I grinned into the phone when he said that.
For that, Mai and I were at a start of a great friendship.
Right…I'll skip the part how we got to know each other better, all that crappy sappy shit. Oh, but I can add some juice for service. Mai likes a one of the boys that help out on the supporting crew. His name is Tate Yuuichi; he does the lighting work, so I always see him standing quite close to the set. There I will see sparks fly when I'm off lens or maybe on lens because I don't know when Mai will drift her eyes off to look at him. However, there are rumours too that Reito has a thing for Mai. I don't really believe so for Mai doesn't really tell me anything about him but more of Yuuichi. She's good friends with Reito's 'sister' though, a small bundle of energy named Minagi Mikoto. They have different family names, but they look a lot like each other, so I didn't bother to question, I just agreed. I didn't want to be in another mess as I was already in one.
Back on track! After my first ever model pictures were printed on media paper, things became even more hectic. Around then, investigators had found out who killed my mother and that the murders were still at large and now coming after me! The 'First District' were the prime suspect of my mother's case, and I didn't want to be involved in anything that she did or they did. I just wanted peace!
Goddammit, I was hounded like a fox. The police arrived at my apartment as if I was the one that killed my own mother. Luckily, Reito stepped in to help me get an escape route to a place where I wasn't that well-known of. He sent me off to Kyoto City in the Kyoto prefecture. To be more precise, since Kyoto has eleven wards, Mai and Reito dropped me off in Shimogyou, the busiest district in Kyoto City. They told me they would clear things up for me in Tokyo, call me back when things are sorted out and that I had too find a way to kill my new found boredom…again.
I had my camera with me; at least it wasn't that bad.
I moved off to the Fushimi District to visit the Fushimi Inari shrine and the Fushimi Castle, took some pictures of the buildings and the thousands of red torii before heading to the hot springs to soak myself red.
I spent a great deal of time in Kyoto moving here and there, taking shots up and down. I had the photos that I had taken of Kyoto published in a compilation book with my previous works after I returned to Tokyo. However there was this incident in Kyoto that I couldn't forget.
This was how it went,
I was dressed in a plain white shirt with a loose pair of beige trousers; it was near summer, so it was already hot. I didn't bother to bring my camera, I left it in the hotel; I had already taken pictures of the Kyoto tower and the bustling district of Shimogyō. I was just there for coffee, but what I really wanted was a cup of ice. I rounded the bend and went against the flow of the crowd to Kyoto station Chikagai PORTA, I remembered there was a Starbucks coffee store there. I spotted the green store as I strolled into the shopping mall beneath the station square.
The next thing was that I had cold tea spilled all over my shirt.
It was odd that I didn't feel the bump.
I should have watched where I was walking. I looked down to find a girl, with the looks of only nineteen, groaning in pain. Her sandy hair dropped pass her shoulder and her neat fringe covered what I thought were beautiful blood rubies. I stumbled forward, not to realise that I offered my hand to steady her. She held an empty cup of ice tea, which was now over me, in one hand and she reached out with the other. She looked up in a second later with shocked and guilt written all over her smooth face.
Then her sweet voice pulled me into fantasy, even when she was apologising with guilt wracked all over,
'I'm really sorry! Sorry! I…I'd…Let me…'
I stopped her flow of words as I placed my palm over her trembling ones and gave out a small smile,
'Let me get you a new cup of ice tea?'
Her face was pulled back in confusion, her small pink lips trembled and her shoulders tensed. She looked at me in the face and down to my stained shirt,
'But…but …your shirt…I'd really…'
I didn't know what had gotten over me, but just by staring at the girl dressed in a deep purple tank top with a denim black high skirt, I found myself wobbling with confidence. She made me feel unusually comfortable and safe, it was way pass paranormal. When she reached out to touch my now pale brown shirt, I unexpectedly grabbed her soft hand, turned and pulled her with me to Starbucks.
No matter what, I needed to get her a new cup of ice tea.
I felt no resistance even though she protested. I didn't know whether it was a pigment of my imagination but I certainly felt her hand tighten over mine and a small faint of pink glow over her cheeks.
The train from Tyoji had arrived in the Kyoto station when I stood at the counter; I could hear the long soft shrill ring of the bell. I ordered a cup of ice tea and a cup of ice for myself…I really needed to keep myself cool, coffee won't really help me, all I needed was the ice. She had fluttered gracefully away from me the moment I reached the counter; she gave me a warm smile as she told me that she would find a table. I looked down onto my stained shirt…
I'm a goddamn flirt.
I sighed as I walked away from the cashier with the cup of ice tea in one hand and my own ice in the other. I found her sitting at a table located in the corner of the store, a table quite far from the crowd. It looked like she dragged the table there by herself; it didn't look like it there in the first place. I placed the plastic cup filled with tea in front of her before taking my seat opposite her.
We played the game of stare for the next 15 minutes.
I never got tired of looking at her, be it her hair, her eyes, her lips, her… I felt exceptionally light after that; it seemed that she took part of my soul in that period. I popped the cubes of ice into my mouth from time to time when I realised my mouth had turned dry. She on the other hand took small sips of her tea through the green straw that I inserted into the cap of her drink. I gulped every time she did that. After that wonderful 15 minutes, she unexpectedly complimented me,
'I love your hair.'
It was an ambiguous one to the fact. I didn't know whether it was for my hair colour, the way I had my fringe messily parted or how I was lazy to tie up my hair that grew to just beyond my shoulder blades. My mouth felt dry and I didn't have any more ice in my cup, so I scratched the back of my head and gave a cocky grin with a slight nod. For the second time, I saw the faint glow of pink spread over her cheeks.
Before I knew what happened to her tea, she had pulled me up from my seat and took control from the situation then on. She twirled around to face me as she simultaneously switched my hand to her other; she gave me another of those warm smiles,
'You have to get a new shirt.'
She pointed to the stain on my white shirt, it had partially dried up. It was as if she secretly knew I was feeling terribly uncomfortable with a shirt like this. She brought me to the different clothes shops in porta, she even pulled me in even though the prices where far than what I had in my wallet. Despite my constant protest of getting me a new shirt, she continued her hunt. At times she would place a shirt in front of me and stare for a while, make a face, look at the price, then place it back onto the line, it made me feel weird in a sense…I was allowing someone to pick what I needed to wear. I never allowed anyone else than my mother to pick the clothes I had to wear. After making that a mental note, I kept quiet, making a few murmurs here and there to acknowledge her preference to the shirts she chose.
I'm allowing her to choose my clothes…
Finally she settled onto another plain white shirt that looked exactly what I was currently wearing, minus the brown stain of course. She pulled me to her and placed it over my chest, only then now did I realise that I was taller than her by a finger or two. I looked down to her and saw her grin; she grabbed me by my hand and pushed me to the changing room.
She bought me that shirt after I came out with the stained one in hand.
I bought her a small necklace that she eyed when we came out of Kyoto station Chikagai PORTA.
I realised we were yet uneven… but I really couldn't help myself but to buy her something.
Before her hand slipped out of mine, she gave me a small bow and thanked me happily for the cup of ice tea and the small gift; she played with my fingers in her grasp within that time. I felt wobbly with happiness.
Then everything slipped away when she left with the crowd outside Kyoto station. She left like she had come…
I realised then that I forgot to ask for her name.
This was how it ended.
I received a call from Reito later that night. Mai came in the next morning to bring me back up to Tokyo; Reito had settled everything for me. As I looked through my files in Mai's car, I found something missing. I left half of my soul in Kyoto with that unknown girl and I…
I desperately needed it back.
Reito published the photos I had taken in Kyoto in a book, I received a copy. I was happy, but I knew I wasn't happy as a whole. Damn it, I absently left half of my existence in Kyoto. Mai happened to notice my troubled look when I was taking a break outside the studio, she stood beside me when I leaned languidly against the wall; I was looking at my shirt again. Her voice shook me out of my reverie,
'Don't tell me you don't do laundry!'
I snapped at her when she said that. She laughed it off when I brought my eyes back onto the stained shirt I refused to wash, wearing it made me feel comfortable; it was as if that teenage girl was still beside me smiling. I touched it with my fingers and found it cold…then I felt cold.
A month flew pass quite fast, and I had recently bought a new lens. Mai was on vacation so I hadn't had anyone to take pictures of. I went to the streets again, hoping to catch the differences in life, yet every time time stopped, I sighed. Something was missing. I had never felt so empty before, this all started happening after I came back from Kyoto.
Damn that girl.
I stopped by a bookstore to buy the monthly Fuuka-Otome magazine hoping that something would perk me up. Sadly, this issue had none of my photos inside, so I rolled it up and threw it under my arm as I headed to MOS Burger. When I was busy buying another burger from the last, I received a call from Reito. I carelessly tossed my phone back into my pocket, but he insisted that I answered; I had a long list of missed calls. So I stepped out of the long line and answered my phone. By the sound of his voice, he desperately needed me at the studio. I looked back at the queue and at my camera bag slung over my shoulder; I shrugged my shoulders as I made a deal over the phone,
'I want nine MOS burgers filled with mayonnaise.'
He stammered something about the mayonnaise…I just laughed.
By the time I reached back to Kanzaki Building, I was half an hour late, I had Suzushiro Haruka shouting down my throat when I was parking my Ducati. When it was in the car park, her booming voice was something one didn't want to hear. She's the one that hunts down potential models for Kanzaki Corporation; I heard that she had recently gotten hold onto another 'hot' one that will literally set fire. I thought Mai was already setting fire, but the way everything was in chaos in the building…it really seemed that this one could create a nuclear war. I'm just joking; I don't want another Hiroshima and Nagasaki disaster.
I was ushered extremely loudly into Studio 9; I caught a glimpse of Yuuichi at the light stands with Kazuya at the back, Akane was hidden behind the set doing the make up. Everyone was doing something. I was brought to Reito who was standing in front of the set, his corn coloured eyes landed on me and gleamed in happiness. I made up some apology and set my things down to get ready for the shoot. He passed a clipboard to me with information I needed to know about what to shoot, he told me it was for a fashion section…for the autumn series. I turned my head around to see the line of autumn clothing he gestured to me, I needed to get all these shots by today and I groaned inwardly.
When I called for the lighting to be dimmed for the back was too bright, Reito said something about a new model doing this project and I nodded it off. I preferred Mai to be doing this photo shoot with me, it makes me feel easier since both of us can joke on the set. I remembered that she was on vacation. I sighed again and pulled my camera up to my face, took a few shots to test the light and gradient and I called out that I was ready to start.
Reito excused himself, Haruka stayed. I looked at the matting of the studio and waited for the model to appear on the set. Somehow the same empty feeling overcame me and I felt tired all of a sudden. Then there was a small argument happened behind me…I just listened while I looked on at the design on the floor.
'Fujino, I can't have you wearing that necklace on the set.'
A murmur of disapproval was heard; I didn't strain my ears to listen to the voice, I sighed again.
'Please, just for this shoot. You're promoting the clothes not endorsing some unknown necklace.'
After that I heard Haruka butt in, her voice is something I couldn't miss.
'Fujino! Just listen to him! You're keeping the poor photographer waiting!'
I'm not that poor! I'm just lazy to buy new clothes! I twirled with the strap of my camera, and looked back to see the commotion,
'She's not going to wait all day while you decide on some necklace! Come on!'
I couldn't see who Haruka was talking to for the clothes line was blocking my line of vision, but I did certainly see Haruka haul the girl to the set in front of me. Then I perked up when I saw Haruka get onto the set…finally.
I smiled at her and I settled my eyes onto the newcomer, then my jaw became slack and my eyes widened.
Her soft hands played with the necklace around her neck I had given her a month ago. Our eyes met and before I yelled in shock, I saw the same glow of pink spread over her cheeks.
Haruka slapped me on the shoulder and I was forced to quieten down, I looked at the new model for sometime before I was startled back to reality by a cough. I quickly told her what position she needed to be in and I was sure I felt my other half of my soul come back to me when I snapped the first frame.
Her name Fujino Shizuru…
And she was only nineteen when I took the first photo of her!
She came up to me with a cup of ice tea in her hands during the first break; she offered me her cup with a sweet smile…but I politely declined it, I had a bottle of water in my hands then. I was taking my usual long stroll down the corridor when she came out of the studio seemingly trying to find me. I met her gaze after I heard the heavy door open, the same glow of pink brushed across her face then.
She ran towards me.
She brought her hands to the necklace that she wore during the shoot, her soft hands tracing the outline of the small pendant and she thanked me then again. As usual I scratched my head with my hand and gave a cocky grin; I couldn't help but fall into the same trap that I had set in Kyoto.
Her crimson eyes, a colour only a darker than scarlet, lured me into a fantasy that made me dizzy in newfound pleasure. I was sure that they were twinkling for my attention as she gave off a gaze that made me want to know her more about her. My arms were tingling with a new sensation, I just wanted to grab her and pull her in a fierce hug. I didn't know what I was doing then but I suddenly grabbed her wrist and pulled her to me. She yelped in surprise when I brought her into a tight hug, I introduced myself to her.
I know I was trying to seduce her…I could damn well hear my husky voice Mai always said I had around the new girls.
I felt no resistance after my actions; instead I felt her arms snake up my chest to rest on my shoulders. There she blew a hot breath into my ear which made me tremble in excitement. I was sure I had met danger, for the next few words that came out of her reeled me out of line. She simply said,
'Come catch me.'
We played a game of catch after that. I was the catcher and she the runner. I was always this close…sorry, I forgot that you can't really understand… I was always an inch away from catching her.
Reito had Mai and her to pair up to do a collection of the new winter collection arrivals; he had another photographer, Netoru Ren, and I to take the photos. Ren wanted to stick to the Studio while I wanted to do it outside. I had a perfectly good reason why we should have the shoot outside, he said it was invalid; I bloody wanted to slap him. He stated that the models would have a cold if they would do a shoot outside in the cold. I rolled my eyes…wouldn't they have the winter clothing to keep them warm? I wanted to do something else other than enclosing myself to a studio, furthermore the falling rusty orange leaves of autumn gave a good ambience and a breathtaking scenery. So…I asked the supporting crew and cast what they wanted.
Mai and the crew supported me…However she was the one that kept me restricted for that shoot. When I asked her with pleading eyes, she brought a finger to her chin, cocked her head to the side and answered,
'Ren's idea is so much better isn't it?'
I took that as a hint after that…she wanted me to please her, so after that I tried again, this time in the second shoot for the second winter collection. I twisted my words…added a bit more seducing and…
I succeeded…unfortunately I still had so many hurdles to get over in order to catch her.
Every shoot I did with her brought me closer to her, vice versa. I was able to get to know the better and the worse of her as how she did with me. I knew her favourite colour, her favourite food, the way she walked, how she preferred to have her hair down, her sizes, her hate towards arrogant people, her claustrophobia…everything! The new pleasurable sensation I had surging throughout every time I was with her was electrifying. She became bolder with time, the glow of pink rarely surfaced now; it was replaced easily with her a deathly embarrassing teases…that was only reserved for me.
We become more familiar with each other that I had first remembered in Kyoto.
That reminds me… Her voice has the distinct Kyoto accent that makes me fall even further into the depths of this mysterious feeling. It was always that saturated honey-toned accent I heard… She was only one that could get so close to me other than Mai, Mikoto and Reito… I didn't dare let Haruka get into an arms length from me, I was definitely sure her booming voice could crack my camera lens!
Mai added to the teasing when she figured out I was trying to get hold onto my catch. I knew Reito knew about my goal, however I was sure he was trying to keep it at a controllable level for me…he didn't want another media mess. Haruka was oblivious as ever.
Shizuru ran out of breath after a month or two and I finally caught her.
It was during New Year celebrations, she took me to the nearby temple to pray. It was snowing then…it was exceptionally special for it hadn't snowed in Tokyo for ages. I waited for her at the stone steps when she said she had to go get something. I eventually sat down on the freezing cold steps for my legs could stand no longer. It was pass two in the early morning; I was really trying to stay awake. I played with my breath and watched the snow fall; suddenly I had something warm pressed against my cheek. She had gone to buy a can of coffee for me, while she had gotten herself a small bottle of green tea; it was hot tea this time. I was not surprised that she had gotten a Georgia can coffee for me; she knew everything about me too.
When I pulled myself up and thanked her for the coffee, her hands softly tugged my other hand out off my jacket pocket and intertwined them with hers. I faintly blushed at her action then; she had never gone to such an extent before. She passed a warm smile at me when she tugged me to follow her down the steps to the main road. I blindly followed her while I chucked the can of coffee into my back pocket; sometimes she gives me more warmth than anything else.
Both of us ended walking back her apartment, I didn't have my Ducati or else I would have gotten her home faster. Her feelings started to spill while we walked hand in hand down the quiet street. The street lights flickered with the falling snow; it was light so it made everything look like a winter wonderland. The lights of tall buildings were off, only the corner shops in the business district remained on. A taxi slowed when it passed us, I looked away then; I'd rather accompany her back then send her back in a cab.
She dropped her head onto my shoulder and nestled closer to me, she made it quite difficult for me to walk, however I got use to it after a while. Then with my hand clasped with hers, she played with my fingers. She caressed it openly and hummed a nice tune along the way; it complemented the snow very well. My body started to become hotter than usual, I was sure she was feeling the same too. Her breathing started to became heavy, and I felt extremely light. We didn't talk through that time, we didn't need to look at each other…we just simply knew.
She stopped just at the entrance of her apartment and this time she pulled me into a fierce hug. She had me flushed tightly to her, I could feel her hand clasping tight to my inner shirt. Her lips brushed against my neck and her hands absentmindedly played with my long hair, her breath alone could make me melt in her embrace. I stroked her back lightly and ran my fingers through her fine hair; she snuggled even closer, breathing in deeper than before. I looked up into the dark morning sky, the snow rained lightly on me and I smiled. This mutual feeling was heaven.
When she pulled back from the embrace, I was able to settle my eyes onto the rare glow of pink that spread over her face, and then things happened so fast after that…
A light feather kiss was placed on my cold lips.
Then she ran off like she did back at Kyoto. However at least this time had no bustling crowd to block my view, I could watch her run into her apartment, trace my lips and grin like an idiot.
I knew for sure I had caught her.
After that, things went a step further than what I had expected. It was as if the beast inside was let loose, for any time I had her alone with me, I had her under me. She wanted it more than me, every action she did was to taunt and tempt me. She would openly excite and entice me; all was done just to lure me out of my cage. I'll give you two examples, both were done just after a photo shoot, when Mai, Reito and everyone had left the building and I was left alone to exit the floor. I met her at the lift lobby on the 47th floor; she had her white jacket on while I had my dirty grey one thrown across my shoulder. I paled contrastingly to her clothing; I was dressed in the dominating colour of black. She gave me a devious smile when I walked up to stand beside her. Then she threw her line in to bait me out.
She gracefully tossed her hair to the back, revealing the smooth creamy skin of her neck. She brushed her hand over there and let out a small dissatisfied groan. To me, I sounded like a moan of need. Bloody hell! I was sure she wanted it to be heard like that. I gulped as she lowered her hand to her chest and there she tugged at her jacket, making it seem that it was nuisance to her body. I darted my eyes to the lift, I knew I was staring.
The lift was taking oddly long to come to the 47th floor…I desperately needed to control myself.
I clutched tighter onto my sling bag and walked into the lift when it arrived. I knew she had purposely pushed her shoulder against mine when we entered the lift; she was making me get into the state that she wanted. Taking a note of that, I realised I was getting aroused faster than usual…her crimson eyes twinkled in amusement as the lift started to make its smooth descent to the ground floor. I noticed that every four floors that the lift descended, the temperature went up a notch.
I didn't know what she spell she had me under, but once the lift reached the ground floor, I had her pushed up against the lift wall, her legs around me and our lips fighting for dominance. I gave her a second mark on her neck that night, I stopped when I realised my hand rode up into her skirt. I saw her smirk in victory when I hastily pulled back and slipped my hand out from under her skirt. I wanted to get out of the lift, but her arms around my neck kept me locked to her. She snuggled to the crook of my neck and murmur something into my shirt. I submitted in defeat when the lift door closed again…
Secondly, it was early in the morning, I had just parked my Ducati in the underground car park, and she had just walked pass my lot to the lift. Our eyes met for a brief moment, yet her eyes showed the same amusement and temptation. I was easily lured by her bait and I was in time caught by her actions once again.
I had her pinned to a pillar, this time I was under a frenzy, I had almost ripped her jacket apart, but I stabled when I realised I had my hand where it was not suppose to be. I saw her frown; I didn't want to do it. I knew she wanted it taken away by me alone as badly as I wanted to take it away from her, but I daren't. I eased her to the ground and I took her by the hand and led her to the lift lobby. I gave her a weak smile when she asked me whether I was feeling alright. I could hear the disappointment in her voice, but I couldn't take it away from her yet…I felt that I wasn't able to. I turned and hugged her; I know I could hear her whimper of plea, I grimaced,
When summer came, I kept myself locked in my apartment.
Mai told me it was bad for my health, I told myself it was for my own good. Every time I had my eyes settled on Shizuru, my mind and heart raced, but I internally knew I couldn't please her. Reito started to get worried, I was not coming to work and I hadn't done a compilation or a photo shoot recently. I was replaced with Ren, Mai was unhappy, Haruka was unhappy, the supporting crew was unhappy, most of all, Shizuru was unhappy. She called me on my phone, but I daren't answer. If I did, I wouldn't speak…I was happy enough to hear her voice. She came by my apartment a couple of times, I faked I wasn't around, luckily I had my Ducati sent for servicing, or she wouldn't have left my apartment.
I didn't hear from her after another month. I became bolder and took the next step to hit the streets again, my camera was getting dusty. Everywhere I turned to snap a frame; all I could think was Shizuru. Even when I was at Inokashira Park, I could remember the seconds that had ticked by when I brought her here to watch the cherry blossoms in spring. I found myself sitting at the same bench where I waited for her to get ice cream for the both of us. I smiled at the thought, but frowned soon after.
I was thinking too much of her, and yet I was not able to please her.
I was fool that she'll let me have a second chance.
I bought a new camera model, one with remarkably low noise and high ISO. I was happy that my touch with the camera was still intact; I managed to capture time once as before. However as I moved from one district to another, I realised that half of my soul which I willingly gave to her was yet again gone. I felt empty as usual, however it managed to fuel some sort of emotion through my body that made me take frames of same feeling. I realised that they were all grey.
I managed to get by another month without anyone beside, after all I consider myself a lone wolf. I stopped by the Kanzaki building once to pop my head in to say a hello and pass a compilation to Reito. He pleaded me to stay for the next shoot, he said Mai was eager to see me again, he never mentioned Shizuru…I thought she didn't care anymore. Haruka was there with him, she seemed annoyed and frustrated. She even glared at me and poked me in the chest and bellowed that everything was my fault. I thought it was something to do with my hair, for she pulled it and tugged at it while she lectured me. I hadn't cut my hair since then, so it was awfully long. I looked awful anyway.
I smirked and waved it off them, Reito told me that he'll be sending the recent issue of Fuuka-Otome to me. I replied that I won't need it…however somehow from the look on Reito's face, it said: just read it. He wanted me to know something…So I changed my mind and told him that I'll get one from the bookstore.
I shouldn't have done that.
Hell, I should have just waited for a copy to come to my apartment.
I almost tore every magazine in the store when I saw the content. I had myself tearing through the Kanzaki Building, I had to find Shizuru.
No…I had to first find that bloody pretty face photographer, Ren. I really needed to beat him into pulp; that was my top priority.
Luckily before I could even reach Studio 9, Mai stopped my rampage. She had just finished her shoot, she was tired, but by looking at me all flustered with rage and anger, she brought me out to eat. She wanted me to cool down…and she knew the perfect thing.
I ate 20 mayonnaise filled okonomiyaki pancakes that night. I never felt so dead after that.
Mai noticed the recent Fuuka-Otome Magazine in my sling bag, and I wanted to burst out again when she took it out to read. However I realised that all my energy was drained just from stuffing myself full, that I could barely lift my heavy head from the table. She notice how I looked at the cover page, I was staring again. She teased me about it…I shook it off. Yet I knew I wasn't able to completely forget about Shizuru.
There on the cover page, was Shizuru dressed in a tight slim black one piece dress that had a cleavage so low, that I thought I really could see her whole body. I thought I was going to get a nosebleed but when I flipped to the special that she was given in the magazine, I flipped.
Mai shook her head and whacked me with the rolled booklet, she hit me a few times and told me look at her. I reluctantly brought my eyes to her and grimaced. I stated in a low voice, barely above a whisper,
'She's not an object.'
Mai laughed and shot me confused look,
'An object? Natsuki, get straight to the point!'
I growled and snapped my head up and slammed my fist onto the counter. Fortunately we were the only ones eating at the side street stall, the owner turned around to look at us. He blew out a smoke ring and went back smoking. I furrowed my brows and opened to the pages where my anger took toll, I pointed at the photos and growled louder than I would ever do to Mai,
'Bloody hell! Hell! Mai just look at it! She's not some…! She's not a…! She's… She's… Shizuru's not…'
I realised that I had started to cry, I was standing up like a fool…crying at the fact that the person I was in love displayed her nude body for all to see.
I threw the magazine to the floor and stomped hard on it, I cried out in the night air,
'It's supposed to be a safe rated magazine! When did it become a…a…!'
I couldn't finish my sentences, I was stuttering and crying, I yelled out in frustration,
'She's only for me to see!'
I dropped back hard onto to the counter and cried loudly. Mai comforted me with all she had; I just continued to wail…because in my mind, all I could see was her…
Shizuru was only for me to see.
I cut my hair to the same length I had when I was in Kyoto, just below my shoulder blades. I neatened my fringe and I headed back to the Kanzaki Building. Reito was happy to see me back in action; however his face faltered when I asked him about the recent Fuuka-Otome magazine. He brought me into his office and told me everything over a sentence,
'She was the one that wanted that shoot, and she asked Ren to take the frames.'
I wanted to strangle Reito on the spot, nonetheless I realised that he wasn't to blame. He couldn't have prevented that from happening, neither object to it. It was Shizuru's decision, he had to respect it. I knew he had tried to call me to take up the role in order to put Ren off the set, but then, I had shut myself to the world and locked myself in my apartment. I frowned inwardly.
I could have stopped it.
Haruka's words struck me hard. I realised then what she meant by: it was your fault. I pulled myself out Reito's office to find that perverse pretty face photographer, however I was stopped by Reito himself. He came up with an idea,
'I have a project for you if you want to.'
I stepped back and raised myself to his challenge.
'Chose two seasons and then you'll see.'
I picked summer and winter. Summer for myself and winter for her. Shizuru loved the winter; she is a winter child, born on the 19th of December. As you knew I am a 'summer' child. I remember how she said she loved the summer too…she liked it then for it was part of my name. I hoped she still does…
Reito smiled and said that he'll inform when the projects come about. Summer was almost over… Winter was quite far then.
I bumped into my old friend, Yuuki Nao, in a clothes store. She became a fashion designer after graduating from the same university as me. She is as crude as usual,
'The Pup! It's just dandy to meet you here!'
I gave her the usual greetings and quickly tried to avoid starting a conversation with her, she could whip up a mean conversation if you popped the wrong topic. However, I couldn't rush off fast enough as she held tight onto my shirt and pulled me to a bookstore. She bought another magazine which was too under the Kanzaki publisher, flipped to one page and shoved it into my face.
I read it and felt my fingers tingle with excitement.
I reported to Studio 9 late, as always. The supporting crew was ever so happy to see me once again, Haruka was happy too; it was quite weird to see her happily slapping me on the back. Then and there I saw the pretty faced photographer, Neturo Ren; already taking frames of the supermodels that we were both suppose to take. He looked like a pervert while he snapped the frames up down left right centre. He didn't even acknowledge my presence. I smiled at myself when I recalled the page that Nao showed to me.
The smooth sheet had his name and my name printed like: Neturo Ren versus Kuga Natsuki. Summer and Winter Collection Photo Shoot Competition. Sponsored by Kanzaki Corporation. The details followed… I apparently didn't read it as my eyes focussed on the top ten supermodels that will be participating in the collection. I picked up Mai's face very easily and the next thing was that I found my eyes staring at Shizuru's smooth face. She was one of the ten… I almost jumped in joy…unknown joy that shook my body. Deep down, I knew that I was still unable to fulfil her wish, but the only thing I had on my mind was that…
I was happy that I was able to see her.
All the supermodels were already there, fitted into the summer clothes. They apparently knew me as they squealed in delight when they saw me approach the set. I smiled happily at them; I didn't even know them, but what the heck…I had to have them wanting to get into my frame. I spotted Mai easily among them, she smiled at me and I waved back, the other girls squealed again; I should really get use to this. The weird thing was that my eyes automatically searched for the sandy brown hair model, and finally I found her.
She wore a simply tight white top that showed off her curves and a high cut tennis-looking skirt, or whatever it was called. She looked drop dead gorgeous with her hair tied up into a thin pony tail, her fringe neatly around her face. I figured that it was my imagination; I saw the faint glow of pink spread over her cheeks like before. Once I looked away and back, that beautiful glow was no more there, instead a playful look took over that made me sick in the gut. It wasn't like her.
Shizuru wasn't the girl I loved then.
During the first part of the first summer shoot, I realised that Ren disliked me being even on the same set. Every time I was ready to capture a spectacular shot, I was either forcefully pushed aside or nudged in the arm. I ended up taking blurry pictures. The ten supermodels were on the set randomly posing for us, so I had to get the attention of one or a few in order to get a good picture. Ren on the other hand was being a real pervert, no matter what they were doing or not he would just snap a shot. It made me furious. He was practically just enjoying the view. I was sure he was going into the same disgusting mood when he did Shizuru request. I held back my anger.
At the first break, I had the supermodels asking me to show them the pictures I had taken of them, none of them bothered Ren, I was sure they felt the same as I had felt about him. I politely told them I only showed the pictures after the whole shoot had been completely, they whined after that and I excused myself out of the studio for my same old stroll down the corridor. Yet I was unable to do so as a supermodel grabbed me back and started to talk to me. I can't remember her name, but her facial features are as beautiful as Shizuru. Speaking of Shizuru, I had caught her watching me from side where she mingled with the other models. She was shooting me angry glances, but I shook them off…
I was fine with her being angry at me.
The second part of shoot was so much better. The supermodels flooded into the view of my lens every minute, so I didn't have to worry about getting attention from them. Ren had a difficult time for this shoot. I noticed that throughout the shoot, Shizuru was trying her best to get into my frames. She was trying her best, and it seemed she did for during the second break, as I looked through the shots in my camera, I realised that most of them were all of her. I was happy that she was doing that, but I realised if this cycle happened again, I would only break her heart further…I was still yet to be able to please her.
I looked again at the shots and found out her real emotions where hidden underneath that fake smile.
It wasn't like her.
The second shoot was better than the first. The number ten was lowered down to five, and I was shivering in excitement when I saw that Shizuru was still on the set. She came by me and shot me glance that left me confused. I didn't know what it meant, but I saw much emotion in that one glance. I felt lost.
Jealously was standing by longing, while anger was sitting on sadness and desire towering over fear.
She wanted me as much I wanted her. However both of us were playing a very tough game of catch… We were both catchers and runners. I ran and she chased; her and me.
By the second break, I had more pictures of her than I ever had in my compilations. I realised she was fighting back for my attention, and again for the third time in my life, I fell into the same trap. As she struggled to get me, I struggled to find the perfect frame. It came back to my mind that she held half of my soul and I focussed back on her. I wanted it back, I wanted life, and I wanted her.
My pictures had more life when I continued…but I wanted more.
I wanted to capture eternity.
Winter came faster than expected.
I was winning more votes than Ren; I already knew I would still win by a landslide if I didn't do the winter shoot. However I still had to finish this competition, I couldn't let down those who supported me. Shizuru had been leaving hints for me from summer to winter. She desperately wanted me to win her back. I was reluctant to, I didn't want to, yet deep down in my hidden depths; she was the only one that could hold the eternity I wanted. I ignored it and it seemed that I pricked the wrong nerve on Shizuru when I started to focus more another model other than her. It went to an extent that what I ignored hurt me badly too.
It really hurt.
Two models were left on the last winter shoot, Nakashima Ai and Fujino Shizuru. Ren was anxious and jittery while I was calm and composed; we were both waiting for the both of them to get ready when Ren suddenly broke the awkward silence I had created. His 'handsome' voice and pretty face didn't match his character; I still owed him that beating. He spoke only to me, but he sounded like he wanted all to here. Yuuichi stared at me, I just shrugged it off. However when Ren noticed I wasn't listening to him, he brought in a topic which knocked me off my line. It echoed in the room, his voice punched a hole in heart,
'Kuga. Did you know how much I enjoyed taking those photos?'
I acted dumb, I looked at Yuuichi this time, but the fellow had his head turned to the floor.
'Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about Kuga.'
I tried to distract myself.
'Her body is something anyone would die for. God, I can still smell her and see her. It was perfect.'
I started to twitch my left leg. I didn't want to hear anymore.
'She looked so innocent yet so playful. The way she puckered her lips at me, and how she straddled the post.'
I grinded my teeth together, he didn't need to remind me, I had those nude photos in my mind…it made me sick.
'The way her rounded breast bounced when she breathed in under me, it was awesome. Her lithesome legs and how she openly allowed me to feast on.'
I trembled in anger…
'Oh, I think I forgot how she mentioned how she hated you that you weren't able to get her aroused?'
My heart broke then, into tiny fragments, like little pixels breaking apart from a picture. I knew I said something before I felt it break.
She hated me.
'Yes, I think I forgot that. She told me that you were useless, you were only good with words, yet you were unable to please her physically and mentally.'
I'm useless to her.
'Dammit Kuga, your pathetic! You're just a bloody toy to her!'
I looked up to face him, he face was smeared when arrogance and pride. Pride in having able to watch her squirm under him and please him through a lens, arrogance that he thought he had over me. I had badly wanted to throw my fist onto his face, but the two supermodels stopped my actions as they appeared on the set. I growled at him and…and I forced my eyes away from Shizuru. I didn't know whether that was the truth or not, but whatever he said had sunk in so badly that I trembled in anger at the both of them. I was roaring in anger at Ren, while I scorched betrayal at Shizuru. I brought my camera up to my face and I saw her…
All I am was but a toy.
I shuddered in rage.
Then I threw the camera at her…
Stormed out of the studio and I heard Haruka bellow at me, I heard the other model yelped and…
I bumped into girl carrying hot tea.
It spilled all over my long white sleeve shirt like how it was back then in Kyoto. The girl bowed continuously while she hastily apologized to me.
Like hell would she buy me a new shirt!
I didn't care…I didn't want to care.
Mai congratulated me on the landslide victory over the phone; I was getting onto my Ducati then. However she complained why I didn't do the winter shoot, I flipped my phone into my pocket… I felt sorry towards Mai, but I didn't need to be reminded what happened back then. I stopped at a camera shop in Akibahara; I needed to get a new Canon model, the one I threw at her was one that I wouldn't want to lay hands on again. Ren could have it for all he wants. I checked out the newer models; however I realised that the price was way out of my budget. In the end I returned back to my apartment to dig out my old model, the one I had used in university. It was a double digit model so the ISO wasn't that high and the noise low. Never mind that, I preferred this than that.
Reito complained that I had to get a better camera for the photos that I was taking were lacking the high quality I usually gave. I grimaced at the fact that I had to go on loan if I wanted to get a new model. I extended my deadline for the next photo compilation, I pleaded with Reito and I tried in vain to do something to get the money I needed for the new model. I failed at practically almost every part time job I went to…the only good one was being the mechanic down in Chiba city. However I was fired after I kicked the supervisor when I grouped my ass.
Over my dead body would I let anyone do that to me!
I returned to Reito, begging him to let me slip just this once. However something was up when he gave me a confused look and said that new model that I had ordered had just arrived at my table.
I had a table? That was not important…
I ordered a camera model?
I got lost on my way to find my 'table', and when I arrived at my cubicle, I saw the camera model box with a new lens. My jaw dropped. I rounded the table and picked up the note that was next to it. However I quickly threw it back down and chucked the box to a side, I didn't want anything to do with her.
I didn't want to. I didn't want to ever again.
Reito asked a few days later whether I had the photos I wanted to compile, I passed him the ones I had taken with my old camera. He noticed and asked again, but I countered and lied that I used the new model to take those pictures. He didn't ask me any more, He just shrugged and said that my supporters would feel terrible.
I felt terrible.
Mai had gone on vacation again, and I was to produce another compilation. Reito insisted I had someone else other than Mai and the other models in my photo album. Haruka insisted that I go and find someone or she would find someone for me. I grumbled and ignored them. However I paid the price when I received a call for Reito that I was to go an apartment to take pictures of a model. I groaned loudly into the phone and told me to be there now.
It was already way pass nine. I wondered why the model wanted to do a shoot this late. When I took down the address that Reito gave to me, I screamed at him. He hung up on me by then. I pulled my hair and shouted to no one in particular… I didn't want to go there.
I didn't want to.
I pulled up on my Ducati in front of the familiar looking apartment I had stopped outside a year ago. It was a year ago…just that it was snowing lightly then. The lights were not on so I turned off my engine and waited on my bike. I decided whether to leave or the stay. Then I felt my phone vibrate through my coat. Her voice was barely above a whisper, it sounded as if she was suffering from an ailment.
'The door is not lock. You can come in.'
I parked my bike on the sidewalk of the quiet street and strode to her apartment. The sling bag which contained my old camera model felt awkwardly heavy, I really wanted to throw it away, but I kept my mind focussed.
This meeting was for my compilations.
Not for her.
It was for me.
I pushed the door open and softly closed it. Once I had the door back in place, I heard her voice again and she led me to a room. Her accent was something I couldn't forgot so easily, and when I appeared at the door way of the room she was in, I realised it was her bedroom. There was a simply wooden chair in front of a middle-sized bed dressed in smooth blue linen spread, by the side of the bed there was a small desk with a few things on it. I didn't know where she was in the room at first, but as my eyes got use to the darkness, I saw her sitting at the edge of the bed, dressed simply in the clothes that I remembered she wore on the day I had met her in Kyoto. The purple suited her, it made her look graceful in a way. The denim black high skirt she wore rode up her lean thighs, and I looked away as Ren's words rang again in my head.
She didn't say anything. All she did was to turn her head to meet mine. She looked at me for a while and I was able to set sight onto the thousands of raw emotions she was overflowing with. I had no words to say as I saw that the single emotion that stood out was sadness. I cringed inside but bounced back quickly, I couldn't fall into her trap again.
I walked towards the chair and sat down. I threw my coat behind me and brought my sling bag to the floor and took out my camera. I heard her take in a quick breath and the air suddenly became still. I looked at her on the edge of the bed and frowned,
'Can you turn on the lights? I can't even see what I'm taking off in this darkness.'
She seemed stunned when I told her that, but her reply was quick and countered,
I shot her a glare through the heavy atmosphere. I slung my camera strap over my neck, folded my arms over my chest and slouched in the chair,
'I don't have all night to do this, I need to get rest don't you know that?'
Her face didn't change but I was certain her eyes did,
'So do I.'
She sounded rejected. I cringed inside again, this time I took longer to recover.
'Look here, I came here for a reason and that is to take photos of you. I'm not here to play games with you.'
'Then start taking.'
I was taken aback by her sudden forwardness, and I looked away from her. I had fallen into her trap, she wanted me to look at her…I didn't want to. I fidgeted with my camera. My fingers started to tremble and my hands shiver. I gulped…
I didn't want to.
Her melancholic voice cut the air and I was thinned by her command,
'Look at me.'
I didn't want to turn.
I managed to focus on a pile of magazines on the side table outside the bedroom. I spat,
'You have no right to call me by my name.'
I saw the first issue of this year's Fuuka-Otome on the top. I knew the front cover was her with Mai, both of them had their fingers over their lips, I remembered taking that photo for I recalled the way they both said the words: be quiet. I said it with them, and I knew I almost slipped my tongue to say her name. I growled,
'You have no right to say my name!'
'Why won't you look at me!'
I shut my eyes tight and focussed on the things I had in my life…the thing I only saw was her. I bloody didn't know why I was thinking about her at this time…I didn't want to!
'Look at me!'
I heard a shuffle of fabric against fabric and the next thing I knew, I felt a cold hand holding onto my chin. I shook her hand off before she had the chance to turn my head. I didn't want to… I grinded my teeth and hissed at her,
'What to you think you're doing!?'
I didn't turn to meet her face, I locked my head to the right, my eyes focussed onto the pile of magazines. The second issue followed, the cover page had her only, she was dressed in a simple white one piece dress, it made her look like an angel. The backdrop was the falling cherry petals at Inokashira Park, she had a hard time keeping her hair away from her face, and the breeze was always there to pester her so I managed to take a beautiful shot of her holding her hair back to her ear. I was sure she waiting for me to take that shot.
'Natsuki, look at me!'
She had her hand firmly grasping my chin and she jerked my head to meet her face,
'Look at me!'
I knew the third issue was a special as I had a column about me inside. Mai took a photo of her and I and it came out along with the information about me. I was grinning like an idiot in that shot, she was hugging me tightly then. Mai, her and I were out for coffee, Mai managed to capture that shot on her phone. Reito agreed that it was suitable picture. All of them said that I never before looked so happy. I looked at it and realised I had my hand scratching my head again…I really have a habit of doing that.
'Look at me!'
I felt something wet fall onto my cheeks and I realised that she had climbed onto me and had started crying. Her eyes were watery with tears and her hands on my face were trembling. Her other hand was clutching tight onto the shirt I wore, her grip was tight and I thought she was going to push us both over. She cried, her face contorted into anguish and sadness,
'Look only at me!!'
I was at a loss at words when she said that. She shook me with the hand on my shoulder, while her hand on my face caressed my skin. The tears continued to rain down on me, and I felt some land onto my mouth and I never knew her tears would taste this sweet. I kept quiet while her breathing became more and more ragged, I watched her ease herself closer to my frame and I saw the need in her crimson eyes.
The fourth issue was the last picture I had taken of her for the cover page. She had the necklace I had given to her around her neck, she donned a nice violet blouse with a dark pleated dress, and the high cut boots I had given to her on her previous birthday made everything look whole. It was the valentine issue, so she had a box of chocolate in her grasp…She had given me a box of chocolates after that. I gave her a box of sugar candy on white day, I knew she had a sweet tooth.
'Please…Look at only…me.'
She ended up slumped against my form on the chair, her hands still grasping tight onto me. She continued to cry on me, and I then realised that I had my camera jutting into my chest.
There was no fifth issue for me.
I groaned quietly when she murmured into my chest,
'Look at only me…'
I traced her lips with my left hand while my right hand came to her back to get ease her into a better position that made us both comfortable; I needed to get my camera out of my chest.
'Look at only me for I look at only you.'
I met her in the eye, they were still watery with tears, and I knew that another onslaught would occur if I would do the wrong thing. Everything I saw and heard just then in those past few minutes made me cringe in pain even more. To see her in a state like this was worse than what I had been through. Her emotions were raw to her and to me, I could see everything like before, her sadness was washed with the fear of me not being to only one to her as she had before. I traced her lips again and felt her shiver under my touch, she said again as if in a trance,
'I look only at you… only you.'
She kissed my fingers when she finished and took in a deep breath, I brought them to my mouth and kissed back. I saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes and I lifted her chin up so I could see her face clearer,
'I beg you to look only at me…'
I traced her lips again with my thumb.
'I want you to look at only me.'
Then I brought her lips near to mine and I heard her whisper,
'I only love the one I see and I see…'
I silence her off with a quick kiss, I pulled back and saw her shocked expression, and I pressed my forehead against hers and breathed out in happiness,
I saw the same glow of pink spread over her cheeks, and I was reeled into utmost happiness. I gestured her to move a bit back and I quickly brought the camera off my body and lowered it gently onto the ground. Then I flushed her body to mine and caught her in a passionate kiss.
She kissed my nose while I brought her legs to hug my waist. She leaned into me when I assured her that she won't fall, then I licked the trail of tears that started to pour again, they were sweet…just like her. She tightened her hold around my neck and breathed onto my neck, she murmured something intangible and then sucked a sensitive spot on neck, and I let my head fall onto hers when she did that. Both of us were radiating with love.
I drew her closer to my body and then without warning, lifted her up with me and settled down on the bed. She gave out a yelp of surprise and held tighter onto me. When I laid her down onto the bed, I attacked her with patience and love. She seemed to want to take things a little faster for she started to grind her hips against mine. I nibbled her earlobe and hushed her with a hot breath, she shivered under me and stopped her actions. I pulled back and looked down on her, her eyes were clouded with affection and adoration; I smiled but I became wider as I noticed the necklace I had given to her was around her neck. I dipped back down and kissed it, then I slipped off to her neck.
I remembered a soft spot she had around there so I gently traced my tongue round and round in circles until I heard the sharp intake of air…then I knew I had hit the correct spot. She brought me closer to her form, snaking her hands through my hair, I heard her say the same thing she said in Kyoto,
'I love your hair.'
I smirked at that…now I knew what she meant by that. I drew a small circle with my tongue and then bit softly onto her skin, I heard her moan and felt her hands push my head further to her. I was at high bliss as she was. Slowly my hands worked to peel off the tank top and she did to my shirt, but I was faster that I had her skirt off before she had finished with my shirt buttons. I didn't know why she didn't take off my shirt but left it open, I stared in wonder as she ran her hands over my chest and down to my abdomen and up again. She pulled me in a gentle possessive hug and took my hand to place it over her chest. The swell of her breast was soft and supple, unlike mine which was small and…fine, I was called an airport runway once…I still think I am.
I could feel her heart beating madly against her chest and it matched easily with mine. This time I felt blood rush to my face…I blushed. She urged me to continue and I slowly worked her up to ecstasy.
I had my unbuttoned shirt and trousers on when I had her undergarment all off, I felt awkward, so I stripped. I wanted to be bare as she was to me. She saw only me, I had to see only her and I willingly agreed to it. I wanted only her. She blushed into another shade of pink when I rested my bare body on her, she shivered at first but grew accustomed to my toned body. She brought her legs around my waist again when I started with my ministrations. She moaned throughout and my ears were filled only with her voice. She said my name with affection and with so many caresses that I felt so light. Her hold became tighter as I slipped my hand down to her between her thighs… I didn't stop then, she didn't stop me, and instead she bucked her hips to my hand and pleaded me to take her.
Both of us rocked with a rhythm that became faster until she screamed my name into my mouth, I felt her inner walls tighten down on my fingers and she buckled underneath me… I never felt so alive when I followed her soon after. I slowly brought her down from high heaven and I gently pulled out my fingers. She was bleeding, but I knew that happened in the first round, she was whimpering in pain or pleasure, I didn't know. However I felt that I had done something wrong, I hastily pulled my shirt over her and embraced her. I whispered words of apology and began to rock her like a baby in a cradle.
She surprised me when returned the embrace, her hands went to my face and stroked it. I felt secure just like that and I leaned in to her touch. She whispered into my ear, her breathing heavy from the sex,
'You see only me as I see only…'
I finished the sentence for her and kissed her on the forehead, she lay her head against my chest and spoke loud and clear for my ears only to hear,
'I love you.'
I looked down and saw her tired crimson eyes brimming with joy and love, her hair was plastered messily to her face with all the perspiration, then and there I saw my eternity.
I didn't need to take a picture of it…
I had it captured in my mind…
It was an eternity only for me,
Only for me to see.
I cupped her face and kissed her lips briefly, when our noses touched, I grinned,
'As I love you too.'
Haruka scolded the ends out of me when I came back empty handed the next day. I didn't really come back empty handed, I came with Shizuru, hand in hand and smiling like an idiot. Reito found it oddly surprisingly that I had become more carefree than usual. I found myself grinning like the same idiot in that photo I took with Shizuru.
I didn't feel that empty as before.
Right! That about it sums up my life over the past 23 years of my life. Mai just left for vacation, and I'm currently stuck here with you. I wonder when Shizuru will be back, she's sure taking a very long time in getting the mayonnaise I wanted. Okay…I have to get back on editing my photos, don't make so much noise. Don't bother me now…I had just spent quite a long time talking to you. I bet everything I said was gibberish to you!
I shouldn't have wasted my time.
Oh, I'll get you a new bowl of water. Just wait a minute.
I know it was not proper to stand outside a room and overhear a conversation, but I couldn't really help it. She was talking to our dog; I had never seen her do that before. However I realised she was talking about the life that she had when she first met me until now… She told everything to our dog! I really didn't know what she had going through her mind! I had gone out and came back long ago from buying her bottle of mayonnaise, I thought she had heard me enter, but as I got to the study and peeked inside, she was talking to our dog. I wanted to enter and tease her, but I stopped myself as I heard something about meeting a girl in Kyoto.
I had taken half her soul and I am still holding onto it.
I never felt so happy when she finished, I knew I had tears ready to flow. However I had no time to loiter outside as she was coming out to fill the water bowl for our dog. I hastily wiped my face dry and rushed to the kitchen, there I faked that I had just came back.
I heard her chirp in happiness when she saw me. She dropped the bowl and rushed over while calling,
'Duran! Shizuru's back! Come!'
She brought me into a fierce protective hug and I suddenly felt fur at my feet. I looked down to see our dog circling the both of us, while she kissed my on the lips.
I embraced her back and smiled into her hair,
'I hope you have finished editing your photos.'
She tightened her hold around my waist and whispered,
'Yes I have finished editing…'
'…photos of only you.'
A/N: I hope you have enjoyed it! I wanted it to be a long one shot...however I realised that I need to have another chapter as an epilogue to solve the problem of Ren, Natsuki and Shizuru. So watch out for an update!
For the info: Netoru literally means to steal another's lover or wife or husband. The part where Natsuki described herself as almost saying Shizuru's name in the first issue of the Fuuka-Otome is explained: Be quiet in Japanese is said as Shizukani...therefore, Natsuki almost said Shizuru intead of Shizukani. The last model in the story called Nakashima Ai is named after two real Japanese supermodels, Aline Nakashima and Ai Tominaga. Mitsuaki Iwago is a real photographer that I admireso i chucked him in. Go Iwago! Furthermore, Inokashira Park is really a nice place to view the cherry blossoms bloom. One should check out the Starbucks at Kyoto station Chikagai PORTA...I went there once and found a table that didn't look like it was to be there.
I'll be updating Akeome the longest battle soon!
This story specially goes out to Juliet! I'll see you again sometime and somewhere.