i'd like to take this space to say that i missed this world! argh..i'm baaaaack! hahah...
Resting his back against the side of his car all alone, Usami Akihiko drew a deep drag of his smoke before exhaling sadly. The horizon stretching endlessly before him was dark. A sign of an upcoming storm perhaps. It also strangely reflected how cloudy his insides were.
"Marriage? Just like that...he's going away from my grasp..."
The wind lashing at his face was salty. The man wasn't even sure if the slight sting in his eyes was because of the heavy wind or because he was really depressed.
He smiled to himself. He had always tried to imagine what he would do if for example, Takahiro, the guy he loved for so many years would decide to settle down with a woman. In those roleplayings, Usami saw himself accepting it graciously and moving on. Reality was a million times harsher though. He was too hurt his whole being felt numb.
Like everything just fell before his eyes, he was aimless. Directionless. Lifeless.
"How does it feel to drown?"Usami asked aloud.
Usami let the cigarette fall from his lips to the cemented ground and stepped on it. And as if he was in a trance, he left his car in the highway and trudged his way to the angry sea. He left his shoes on the sand and let his footprints be washed away by the waves.
"I have written tons of love stories and heartbreaks...but I never thought this is how it feels..."
Feeling the cold splashes of water against his legs, he roamed his lavender eyes around. Plain sea, plain sky, plain him.
The man's lips formed into a lopsided grin. He would be lying if he'd say he never thought of ending his life right then and there. But he wasn't as immature as that. He'd experienced so much in his twenty-eight years of life. What was more pain added in the records?
He bowed his head. His hair softly hitting the side of his face, Usami raised his hand to hide his eyes. No one could see. But to shed a tear for another man without even being able to fight for him was the kind of defeat so hard to accept.
"It's okay...let go. You're still his bestfriend...Damn it."
He didn't know for how long he was standing there. It was just that the sky had turned to black, and the water from his legs was already reaching his waist. Hightide, incoming storm, whatever, Usami didn't care.
Usami removed his hand from his face hearing something aside from the waves.
Sensing the voice from his behind, the author slowly turned to look. And what he saw was an angry pair of emerald eyes glaring at him.
'WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" the boy screamed before angrily lunging forward at Usami.
Short as he was and smaller in build, the boy threw himself at Usami, locking his arms around the man's waist from behind. Both of them falling out of balance and falling into the cold and dark waters.
Usami tried to gain his footing under the mushy surface under his feet. Dripping wet, he grabbed the thin arms still holding around him.
Totally off-guard, Usami tried to take a peek at the person behind him. "Get you arms off-"
"Suicide is not the solution Mister!"the boy begged, soaking wet himself. "Don't please!"
"HA!?" Usami hollered. "Sui-? Who's fucking committing suicide? You'll murder me if you don't let go, I can't breathe!"
The boy looked up, slowly letting go. "Hai?"
"Welc...eh? Misaki?" an old-looking yet kind guy asked surprised the moment the bells from the front door of his shop chimed. "Don't tell me..."
The owner of the shop's deep blue eyes darted from the boy to the equally soaking wet man with a pissed look. He sighed while smiling apologetically at Usami, knowing full too well the story behind why they were like that.
"Towels are at the back," the old man announced as if this event was nothing out of the ordinary. "Get out of those wet clothes fast, okay and bring coffee for this man."
Scurrying with a face burning from shame, the boy named 'Misaki' disappeared leaving the two men alone.
"Please sit down..."
Usami brushed his hair away from his face while tugging at his coat plastered against his well-built body. From where he was sitting, he could already sense that the shop, a snack and drink house seemed to be having a bad day at business.
It gave off an antique feel. Not Japanese style though but of different race perhaps. The author was even surprised to see such an establishment near that place. It wasn't very a good venue for business since cars didn't usually stop randomly at that area.
"I assume, that kid thought you're going to kill yourself and jumped on you?" the old man smiled while taking a seat across Usami.
"Thanks to him, I look like this," Usami grumbled, starting to feel cold.
"Forgive him okay?" the man asked, sounding full of compassion. "He doesn't mean any harm. It's just..."
Before the owner could finish what he was about to say, the teen emerged from the sliding doors with blue butterflies etched on it. Towel hanging on his arm, hands busy with a tray of steaming hot coffee, the boy smiled meekly at his victim.
"Sorry again...Mister...I really thought..."
"It's fine. What's done's done," the author replied curtly.
Sounds of the sea's waves and the rain drops as their backdrop, Usami knew that driving back would be a chore. He was suddenly tired from all the things he had to deal for the day. With the gracefulness of someone born from a well-to-do family, he lifted the cup to his lips as he savored the smell of the class-A coffee beans used. At least the shop wasn't entirely as cheap as it looked outside.
A couple of seconds and the author felt that a deep and hard stare was being thrown at him. He stared back at the source and the teen named Misaki abruptly looked down at his own cup of coffee.
"What the hell is this punk's problem?"
"Uhm...Mister?" Misaki called looking curious and anxious at the same time. "You came from Tokyo?"
Usami who was currently drying his hair with the towel paused. He looked at the old man and at the boy for a moment. He realized that he just drove for days without direction and didn't know where he ended up. To be asked if he was living in the capital meant he must have been pretty far already.
"I do," Usami answered shortly, resuming what he was doing. "Wait...where is this place then?"
"Iwate Prefecture," the old man replied before standing up. "This place is a little shabby but you could pass the night here if you want. The rain's pretty strong and the visibility lessens on the road at times like this. It's dangerous."
To Usami's surprise, the once meek teen suddenly changed into an excited mess, all eyes sparkling at him.
"Usami," the author cut the teen off. His ears were getting tired of the boy's 'mister' here and 'mister' there. "Usami's fine."
Misaki opened his mouth but pursed them once more as if thinking. "The owner is right...U-Usami-san. Stay over..."
That was when the author realized that the boy was staring at him like he was some artpiece in a museum. It was kind of annoying at first but then, after a while Usami realized why. When this Misaki stood to go to the back of the shop, it was then that Usami had a good look at the teen.
Thin body, tattered old clothes, dirty shoes. Everything about the boy was screaming poverty. Contrary to the shabby shop, Usami was practically dressed with money. No wonder.
"Owner...is that kid...your grandson?" before Usami could stop himself from asking it was too late.
The old man busy with wiping glasses looked at Usami through his spectacles he wasn't wearing earlier. "Uh...no. Misaki's a friend of mine and does some work here."
Usami stood from his seat and walked towards the glasspaned windows. The raindrops hitting on it, he could still picture the blurred sea and the night before him. A calm yet disturbing feeling was circling inside him he couldn't place what.
"Say...Usami-san...right?" the old man called, making Usami turn to look from where he was standing. "Could you...bring Misaki with you to Tokyo?"
The old man looked down and sighed. "Ah...I know that sounded weird. Forget it..."
Dismissing what nonsense the old man was talking about, Usami darted his eyes once more at the dark view outside. Wishing that if only the rain could also wash away that irritating feeling of handing Takahiro to some woman, he'd be very grateful.
Soft, low voice cut through Usami's thoughts but he didn't look back. He just listened to that silent footsteps. Reminded him of how cats move. Silent yet the warmth of someone present was still there.
"Misaki...will you manage?" the owner asked.
"Yup. I just have to do the usual."
Out of reflex, Usami looked down at his wrist watch, shining under the lights of the shop. "Nine? Where could that be going in this rain?"
Usami watched the back of the teen getting smaller as the boy got farther away. With a flashlight in one hand, the boy made his way into the darkness. Watching him go felt like watching something that was about to disappear.
"Usami-san...these are some of my sleeping clothes you can change into. The room at the back isn't big but comfortable enough. Feel free to use the bathroo-" the old man stopped in his sentence and followed Usami's gaze. It was the blinking of Misaki's flashlight almost gone he saw. "It's a sad scene right?"
The silverhaired man didn't reply.
"He joins a group who's keeping a watch at the shore every night. Trying to stop people from drowning and suicide..."
He rested his arms across his chest while slowly turning to look at the owner.
"He lost his bestfriend in that very sea. Committed suicide, body hasn't been found yet," blue eyes, sharp despite the dim lighting looked as if it could see through Usami. "Nanjiro, Misaki's best friend looked a lot like you."
Moving away, the old man removed his spectacles as if wiping something in his eyes. "I guess Misaki felt responsible for it. That's why he's doing this now. But you know..." the old man glanced at Usami. "I have this feeling that one day...it's that very sea that will take Misaki away as well. I just have this scary feeling in me..."
The day closed with Usami having a hard time sleeping. That view of Misaki walking in that dark beach holding a flashlight, was very similar to the feeling of walking alone, searching for someone who would never be his.
Sky tinted with pinkish and purplish glow, calm waters splashing teasingly on the sand. A view of the rising sun surprisingly better than most resorts he'd ever been. Usami inserted his hands deep into his jeans as he watched the words Misaki wrote on the sand using a stick.
"What are you doing?"
The boy hurriedly erased the words on the sand by sliding his bare foot on it. Looking up, the teen greeted.
Raising a brow, Usami darted his eyes at the horizon where the Sun was slowly and magestically rising from.
"Take me away..." Usami had taken a clear view of those words right before Misaki erased them. For a person who wanted to stop people from killing themselves, those words strangely rang suicidal to Usami's mind.
They started walking back to the snack house quiet far from the beach. Silent, they let their feet sink lightly in the sand, feel the roughness under the soles of their feet. Then, Usami heard snickering from behind.
"You're still going to Sumi-san's shop? It's because of you that no one's going in there anymore you know?"
The author annoyingly threw a glance at the trashy looking guy standing a good two meters from them. "So early in the morning...what's this guy blabbering about?"
"Oh..." the new comer looked at Usami with his brown eyes with a leer. "Did you got stranded by the rain last night mister? Let me give you a little advice...in case you don't know."
Misaki just watched the guy.
Usami hated this type of person. Those who gave the air of superiority. So he grabbed Misaki's surprisingly cold arms and lightly pulled the teen away. But the laughing from the brown-eyed guy just grew louder.
"That guy has HIV...I'd be careful if I were you," said the voice, accompanied by the sea waves.
Emerald eyes looked up at Usami at the same time the author abruptly released the thin arm. As if Usami just had touched a hot object, he instantly let it go. The gaze of the boy then moved to Usami's feet that had taken an unconsious step backwards. Misaki looked up once more quietly. Like he was so used to it.
The author knew HIV, AIDS, whatever they were called couldn't be transfered by just mere touch of skin. But it was human reflex to back away at the sound of something frightening. What was annoying Usami more than the guy who announced it was that he couldn't stop this human reflexes at all.
Misaki was all poker-faced, but Usami clearly saw that flicker of hurt in those eyes. Him backing away from the teen was no less than a punch in the gut.
Instead of getting mad or anything, the brunette just turned his back and walked hurriedly away. And to Usami who was supposed to be a lonewolf, followed the teen feeling like he did something terrible.
Inside the closed shop, the boy started preparing coffee. From behind, Usami could see the shaking of those small hands. The trembling of those shoulders. The sound of a heavy breathing.
Usami slowly moved to the counter and sat at one of the high stools.
"If you don't mind, I want to have coffee too."
The boy paused from what he was doing.
"Aren't you afraid just now that you might get infected?"
Sighing, Usami rested his chin on his clasped fingers while his elbows were on the smooth marble top. "I apologize. I didn't want to be rude."
Sunrays slowly creeping into the shop, the wooden floors and the partcicles dancing in the rays made everything somehow bright and sparkly.
"With lots of sugar?" the boy then asked suddenly.
Usami smiled. "I prefer black. The one last night was too sweet."
"O-okay," the teen replied.
The sound of hot water being poured, the aroma of the coffee filing the establishment, it felt homy. And after the teen had placed the white cup before Usami, the author locked gazes with the boy.
"How did you get...'that'?" Usami asked, knowing full too well it wasn't the best topic to start at morning coffee. But he couldn't help asking anyway.
Misaki looked at the window. Then smiled at Usami. "I don't have."
"My bestfriend did. We're really close so when the news about him having HIV came out, people assumed I have as well. People, despite them being educated about that...still treated Nanjiro like a germ. My bestfriend couldn't take it anymore and then one day..."
The boy let his sentence fade away before sipping his coffee.
"I know I can't blame people about being scared. But I wish people could separate the illness from the person. Nanjiro chose to sleep with the woman he loved knowing full too well that she's infected. After all, you accept everything in a person when you're in love right?"
Usami silently watched Misaki let the cup down with a clatter. He even thought that it would slip and crash down the floor.
"Are you okay?"
"I killed my bestfriend."
A silent 'what' escaped the older man's lips.
"I got so tired of people avoiding me, spreading rumors that I am also sick. I really got tired...so I snapped. And blamed Nanjiro for everything despite knowing his girlfriend just died."
Misaki looked at Usami, smiling. Yet that smile was more painful to look at than a complete crying face.
"I was mad at Nanjiro for falling in love with that woman. Mad at him for sleeping with her. Mad at him for not noticing me...You see, I realized I love my bestfriend who's a guy after him being involved with that woman. I am so angry at myself for falling too. So I told him that I don't deserve this kind of treatment and that he should just go and die..."
The emerald eyes, distant and devoid looked at the window overseeing the sea. "And then he did."
In an instant, Misaki disappeared from Usami's view. Usami stood and walked behind the counter and saw teen had crouched behind the counter and silently sobbed. Without saying anything, Usami just knelt with one knee on the floor while patting the boy on the shoulder.
"Sorry Usami-san," the boy mumbled. "You just have to hear something depressing as this for breakfast...I am so disgusting right?"
Usami watched those drops of tears land silently on the wooden floor. He had already forgotten that he was annoyed at this very same teen yesterday. For he realized that they were the same. Bearing painful secrets they couldn't say. Carrying feelings that couldn't be returned.
"Is it just a coincidence that we met?"
It was Usami's question as he watched Misaki stand in the shoreline, legs deep into the waters, his back facing him.
"Is there a meaning why I ended up here?"
The huge setting sun looked like a ball of fire. There was something eerie about it and yet, Misaki's silhoutte made it a view Usami couldn't take his eyes off. Disturbing and beautiful.
He'd been there for three days and two nights. A sudden turn of his plans and he ended up staying there for the reason that he felt like he just couldn't leave yet. For everytime he saw the brunette walking and distantly gazing at the horizon, he felt what the owner had said before.
Usami could feel that if he removed his gaze even a single second from the boy, Misaki would be gone the next.
"Usami-san...did you know?" Misaki suddeny broke the silence, picking up a small rock.
The older man currently standing a few feet away looked at the boy's profile.
"You look so much like my bestfriend," the boy threw the rock at the waves and glanced at Usami. "Back then I really thought that you were Nanjiro."
"Was that how you would do if you saw your bestfriend...trying to kill himself?"
The cold wind blew past them. The huge shirt of the teen's body flapping, the waves as if about to eat him. Usami felt like he was looking at a mirror.
"Hmmm...I wonder," Misaki mumbled extending his arms as if inviting the wind to carry him away. "It was more like, I wanted to be taken away by him."
Why was he there having that kind of conversation with a boy he just met a couple of days ago? Why? He was broken hearted himself. But he was more concerned at the teen to nurse his own battered heart.
Usami's feet moved closer to where Misaki was. Was it abnormal to extend hands to the drowning? Was it abnormal to move like that without even thinking?
"If I look so much like him, then why not be with me? I'd do the same...imagine someone..."
"What the hell am I proposing?"
Everything was whirling too fast. But it felt like it was so natural that it was unstoppable.
"The only regret that I have right now...is that I didn't tell him Usami-san."
The lavender eyes lost its color, replaced by the burning reflection of that afternoon. "Then imagine it was me."
The boy closed his eyes as Usami cupped his cheeks gently. "An imaginary relationship? Sounds whimsical..."
"It's called 'licking each other's wounds'," Usami whispered, before sealing the proposal with an awkward kiss.
It was raining white rose petals. Angelic hymns filling his ears. Happy faces of familiar and not so familiar people. And endless 'Congratulations' closed the happy and simple, solemn wedding of Takahiro and his wife Minami.
Usami looked at them as all the family members on both sides gathered to take a picture. Usami was supposed to be there too since he was the groom's best man. But Usami Akihiko chose to just watch from afar.
"Is he eating properly?"
The author tugged on his tie loosely and sighed.
"He must be walking again on the beach alone..."
Sighing deeply, Usami ran his hand over his face thinking there was something wrong with him.
"Huh?" the silverhaired man raised a hand and waived slightly.
"Join us in the pictures!" Usami's bestfriend shouted, happily smiling, proud of the new chapter of his life he was about to start.
Giving up, Takahiro led the guests into the reception for the afterparty. And as Usami watched the back of the guests, he did something he seldom do. He scratched the back of his head frustrated.
He was there in the wedding of his beloved man as his best man. The pain Usami was expecting, and the hard feelings he prepared himself to feel didn't arrive. Instead, he was there in the wedding, anxious and thinking one and of the same thing the entire day.
"It's been five days since I left Iwate for the wedding..." Usami thought looking at the bright sky. "But it's only...only him I could think of..."
His black shoes clicked against the pavement softly. They increased in pace and before Usami knew it, he was running towards his parked car.
He hopped in and turned the ignition. And as he drove away from Takahiro's wedding, he removed the flower pinned on his breastpocket. He let the petals slide away from his palm outstretched from the car window. Usami's own simple ceremony of letting go.
Strangely happy and excited, Usami's lips turned into a smile. Despite the long hours that stretched to days, he preferred driving for he needed thinking things through. Sort out those new nagging feeling eating away at him.
The moment he saw the sign that he was already entering Iwate Prefecture, all his exaustion disappeared.
The dark road, only having the spotlights and the round moon and the stars as illumination strecthed endlessly before him. As he seemed to be the only occupant of the road, he hurriedly looked at his phone.
"I told him I'll be back soon but ...I'm a day early..." he thought as he pressed on a number in speed dial.
"The number you have dialled is out of ser-"
"Huh?" Usami tried a couple of times more. But like thefirst time, no one was picking up.
Given the time as twelve fifteen in the morning, Usami knew Misaki should still be awake by that time. But the boy wasn't picking up. And as the continuios voice operator said its spill, the uneasiness in him slowly began taking form.
Usami thought he'd crash. He'd been driving with his eyes at that single small figure in the waters. His gaze was just glued on that form as if slowly fading. It took him time before slamming hard on the breaks. He jumped out of the car not even caring about closing the door shut.
Like mad, he ran from the cemented area, down to the sand. Hand outstreched, chest contricting, throat hurting.
But Usami knew that his voice was just being drowned by the sounds of the waves from that distance.
It was usually so hard to get a change of expressions from the author. But under that velvet sky, he was so afraid to not be able to reach that fleeting presence he was almost to tears. An emotion so strong yet unexplainable.
Head blank, he just lunged forward. Throwing himself into the waters as well, reaching out to the frail back facing him.
No one knew how it happened. His huge hand grabbed the boy's shoulders and forcefully turned Misaki to face him.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!"
The boy blinked a couple of times. His face with the moon's shadows stared hard at Usami's face. And then the boy smiled seemingly having a funny realization.
"I'm not trying to do something bad," the chocolate hair looked black under the sky. He raised a wet cotton scarf then at Usami's face. "This slid from my grasp and flew here, I just picked it u-"
Usami gritted his teeth as he pulled the warm and delicate body closer to his. He didn't even let the boy finish what he was saying. He clung to that figure so smaller than his. He wanted to crush him but was also afraid of breaking him.
"Damn it...damn it..." Usami hissed, as if he was choking. "I was dead scared you idiot..."
The boy's shoulders sagged in Usami's touch.
"What are you talking about...we're just in an imagi-"
"Misaki...come with me to Tokyo."
Usami looked like so much desperate. "Let's make this real."
They looked at each other's eyes. An act of looking but there was more to it than the eyes could see.
"Isn't this...just pity?"
The older man's finger dug on Misaki's flesh. Usami was even shaking he never would have thought the day would come he'd be as crazy as this.
"You're the only thing I could think of day and night to the point that it's annoying. I was there in the wedding of the person whom I thought I will be loving forever but what I was thinking was if you've already eaten!"
"If you decided on suddenly disappearing, I'd follow you even to the depths of the ocean and bring you back..." slowly Usami rested his forehead against Misaki's. "What part of that is pity?"
Misaki lowered his gaze.
"I guess i was already taken by you when you grabbed me back then..." said Usami, as if it was just a brush of warm breath caressing Misaki's skin. "What am I to you? Am I just your best friend's look -a- like?"
Misaki's grip on the scarf tightened. To Usami's surprise, the boy raised the fabric and placed it around Usami's and his neck.
"I...you know I am not good with words...you should...know already..."
Usami chuckled. His hand on Misaki's shoulders slid down to the boy's waist. The other one on Misaki's cheek, Usami Akihiko blew gently on the teen's face.
"I'll wait till you can say them outloud..." Usami cooed.
The kiss they shared under the midnight blue sky was still as awkward as before. Perhaps a kiss between two person tied by an invisible string of fate would always be awkward. For the heart beats like crazy, the blood was rushing so fast, every nerve was on fire there was no way of was maybe why people say being with the special person could make one feel alive.
Misaki pushed Usami away abruptly with his hands. "You, you snaked your tongue inside my mouth!" the boy accused burning red.
Usami patted Misaki's head while grinning. "'Snaked'? You've got pretty dirty vocabulary there...I'm surprised. We'll do some other 'snaking stuff' soon."
"Don't talk like that!"
His chest feeling like it would explode any minute, Usami grabbed the boy's hand. Fingers laced with each other's, the two started walking along. Savoring the wind, the cold waters and the darkness. They didn't talk anymore. Their hands just swung back and forth, the symbol of the new commitment and new start.
At first, each of them were trudging on their own lonely spaces. But this time, they were walking hand in hand. Not alone anymore.
Smiling and absorbed in their own thoughts, they both realized finally the meaning of 'letting go'. And that wasn't forgetting, but what one would call 'accepting'.
chapter end notes:
hello everyone! i came from a short vacation with my close friend and also a short vacation from writing. so this one shot is some sort of my comeback to the ff world? LoL...anyway...I MISSED YOU GUYS! AND I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS PIECE TOO!
i don't know...i always end up in a 'sea setting'. hahaha...thanks and have a good day! i'll be focusing now on my ongoing stories. thnks for the patience!
tell me your thoughts please...I'd like to hear from you...especially that i just returned from this wonderful world! graaaaaaaaaah! haha