The first thing he felt while looking at that bundle of fabric was detachment . Like how one would look at a trash.
Only the face of a very tiny baby was showing. And those green, round eyes that were wide openly looking back only reminded him of more hatred he tried to suppress all these months.
"Do you really wish to leave him here, Usami?" a gentle voice of an old woman asked. She gazed at the Twenty year-old man who was starting to make noise in the literary world worriedly. "Won't Yanagi be sad?"
"If I don't, I might kill that child," were Usami's thoughts he decided to just keep for himself.
The old woman with greying hair raised a finger which the baby wrapped in white tried to reach. Laughing the baby did which filled the office cluttered with drawings of children.
"I thought that you'd take responsibility of Yanagi's child after the accident. You were so close...that's the truth..."
What accident? That was no accident. It was only termed as that because the people related couldn't stomach the shame...
Head bowed, hands clasped tightly on top of the low table, the brunette never did lifted his gaze from the start of their conversation.
He was so afraid. He was so burdened. And most of all, he was so ashamed.
Usami's sharp lavender eyes which used to have nothing but pure gentleness changed into something unexplainable. His facial features had gone rigid. He sat in that room with a look as if he was hearing a bad joke. No, perhaps the most ridiculous jesting ever he couldn't even laugh.
It was the night of the summer festival. Everyone was waiting for the beautiful fireworks to light up the sky. Usami and his precious lover of three years was supposed to be by the river bank too. They were supposed to be there hand in hand, promising forever. So why then were they sitting across each other, having this kind of conversation? Why now?
"I'm really sorry Akihiko...she's...she's pregnant..."
Usami looked past the brunette towards the picture frame hanging by the wall. A collage of the two of them from high school entrance ceremony to some outings, a huge space still left for their other events as memento. Suddenly it was just a blur of future melting into a pot of nothingness.
"Bullshit..." Usami whispered in a hoarse voice still looking at the picture. His eyes reddening, and though the other person couldn't see it, his fingers dug gravely into his flesh. "Yanagi...pure fucking bullshit..."
Usami Akihiko and Takahashi Yanagi met three years ago. As if they were destined to be the one for each other, they clicked, they lived together and this unusual couple for their time stood up for what they really were.
They had such bright hopes for their university lives and the future ahead.
And then this.
Yanagi didn't just got a girl pregnant, but admitted that he loved her as well. That he loved her and Usami equally.
"I didn't mean to hide this from you...believe me..."
Looking at the collage, Usami's gaze then swept the entire figure of the smaller guy across him. How he loved that brown hair. How he loved those green eyes that whenever he looked at them, the setting sun, the night sky and the soft snow couldn't compare. But that moment, he was just pure numb the same as someone just poured ice over him.
"What do you want me to do? Huh Yanagi?"
Yanagi bit his bottom lip. A habit he did everytime he felt like losing it. A habit Usami knew very well and always affected him. But all of remorse must have been sucked off by the fireworks that started setting off the sky. Yellowish, orangy and bluish colors exploded and their colors filled their room as well. But it only gave a feeling of much deeper loss together with its sounds.
Slowly and unsurely, Yanagi lifted his gaze. His eyes swollen from the continous tears streaming down his pale face. "Please...for-forgive me...?"
Usami snorted. As he started looking out the dark sky from their window and the fireworks showing off, the contract he signed as Marukawa's first ever youngest novelist suddenly lost its meaning. Everyone was all beaming with hope for his debut and that he would be a great man of literature in the future. In his part, he already was happy to be able to support the two of them with the most luxury without relying on his family's name. But everything started crumbling down to pieces with no way of picking them up.
"You know me well to ask me such a thing Yanagi."
"But Akihiko!" Yanagi blurted, leaning over the table reaching for Usami's face. But the other man backed away with the iciest gaze. Yanagi didn't had a choice but to withdraw his outstretched hands. "I don't want to lose you...please..."
"You should have thought about it before going behind my back," Usami was even surprised he could muster those words in such a monotone.
Yanagi would have preferred that Usami got mad and hurt him. But instead, that animosity was more painful.
"Akihiko..." Yanagi started sobbing, burrying his face on his hands. "I'm really sorry...I love you very much..."
"I don't know about that."
That was the last time Usami heard from Yanagi. Six months passed with Usami drowning himself with writing, studies, and everything he could do so that he would have no room for thinking. He just lost the meaning of living then. Why bother with the living world as well?
And then Yanagi died. With the girl named Masaki.
The two of them, being still young and confused committed a family suicide with their newly born baby boy. Driving into a cliff, no one knew how the baby got away with it with only a scratch.
Usami Akihiko was more surprised that he felt nothing at all. Perhaps a part of him was saying it served Yanagi right. Or maybe a part of him wished for that to happen. The feeling was indescribable, that the only witnesses of his face he hid in the shadows were bottles of alcohol he filled his system with.
"This is just my personal opinion, but this child would be better off with the person closest to Yanagi..."
That snapped Usami Akihiko out of the sickening trance of the past. He brushed his hand over his hair that fell over his face and pretended to flip the open books on the table beside him.
The girl's family didn't take the baby as theirs, while Yanagi was an orphan. Leaving Usami Akihiko, the 'bestfriend' to others, but the 'ex-lover', the guardian as stated by the notes that Yanagi left.
Where the hell did Yanagi got the guts to make him the guardian of his child after what he did? It was as if the stupid, senseless man knew the baby would survive. Usami had this feeling Yanagi planned for all of this. And Usami was just as sure he won't go with the flow.
"I will give money for his needs," he said with a disinterested tone. He sighed then and looked at the old woman who ran a home for children with disabilities and the orphaned. "Am I not already doing my responsibility to humanity?"
Without paying any goodbyes to his ex-lover's child, Usami turned his back and headed for the door. As if the baby knew he was being left behind, he started crying. He started wailing, waiving his small and helpless hands in the air.
"Usami," the old woman who knew the young man because him and Yanagi would play with the children before, called as if she was about to cry herself. "At least visit him? Or when there are programs, come to see him? Write him a letter...?"
The young man stopped by the door but never looked back. "I don't want to have anything to do with him, Madam. That I would appreciate."
Hearing the sound of the door closing, the baby cried even louder. It was as if, young as he was and still unconscious of what was going on around him, he could feel he was being abandoned. Again.
Busy with writing, he never paid attention to anything anymore. He studied hard, got himself recognitions and was making a name of his own as a novelist. All of which had no meaning but to pass time. And passing, time did.
Usami Akihiko waited for what the people who said, 'time heals.' But he wondered about that.
The lights automatically turned on when he entered to his study. Clutter of books took most of his table, tissues and empty noodle cups, and cans of beer littered the floor. Who would ever thought that this would be a flat of a known author who got himself even the Naomori award? The place almost a dump site.
Thirty-seven that year, it was as if by the time he closed his heart, time stopped moving for him outwardly as well. He still carried that arrogant air. Carried that demeaning stare. Still hated one person and hated himself as well for loving someone that much. The only thing perhaps that was so obvious of the time passing by was the seemingly permanent frown in his brows which made him looked hard to deal with.
He pulled his tie loose and headed over a wooden low cabinet where his answering machine was. Pressing a button with a long finger, it made a "beep" sound and a voice of a familiar annoying woman filled the four corners of his study.
"Usami-sensei, this is Aikawa. I'm done with the editing but I think, you rushed with the chapter 7. Where the characters broke up. Please think it over.. Slow it down."
The man didn't pay attention and just went to remove all his shirt on his upper body. Aikawa, an energetic woman, knew Usami Akihiko wouldn't change it. Because she knew that Usami-sensei believed that a love story could take forever to make, but it takes a split second to break.
And the author had this 'more-to-reality-approach'. The woman editor had nothing against it. Sometimes it only bothered her that it was too rushed, even break ups had to be romantic, at least in novels for it to sell.
But because people could relate, Usami's novels always sold like a magic. And always a best-seller and highly reviewed. Still she wanted to try and make the reclusive author write something knew.
Because everything that the author has written revolved around being betrayed. Never was a happy ending.
Another beeping sound came and still, it was Aikawa's voice.
"Sensei, I also took all your mails in the box and placed them on your side table in your bedroom. One more thing! Please don't forget your appearance in the reach out program Marukawa is hosting this Sunday. I'd tie you in a roll and haul you to the venue myself! SO DON'T MAKE IT HARDER FOR THE BOTH OF US! BYE!"
The room was filled by silence then. Not in a hurry at all, he went in slow strides out of his study, took a shower, took two cans of beer from his fridge and headed to his dimly lighted bedroom. The bed creaked loudly when he released all his weight on it and sat at the edge.
"Bills...Marukawa Reach Out Invitation..." he read aloud as he picked the envelopes on his bed side table one by one with one hand, the other still holding his chilly drink. "Fuck all these invitations to parties..."
He grabbed all the envelopes except for his bills and threw the rest on the bin next to the wooden furniture. One yellowish envelope slipped from the bundle and fell silently on the floor. As if making itself noticed, it made a swaying act in the air before reaching its landing. It flew back at Usami's bare feet.
"Tsk..." he bended and picked it up. "It's that time of the month again?...Don't they get tired. I send them money...what else do they want?"
Seventeen years. Within those years, the orphanage he wished never to remember still would send him letters of that kid's improvements and concerns once a month, despite him not wanting it. All those letters ended up having a huge space of his steel cabinet. All of which haven't been opened once at all.
Everyone had this smile on their faces. Old people and the not so old flashing their bleached teeth in front of the cameras, while patting a silly child's head, or hugging them. Usami knew, once these people reached their cars, they'd be bathing in alcohol and dissinfectants.
That was the yearly 'thank you' program of Dream House for the support they got from that year, with Marukawa as one of the sponsors. A home for the unfortunate children, their reasons all too similar. Parents abandoned them, parents got sick and died, parents had no means of supporting them. All sorts of depressing stories that because were too similar, became nothing special.
It was about seven in the evening. Fortunately, by all the heaven's interventions, one of the main guests, him, Usami Akihiko was able to go to the venue without being late. Without so much trouble despite him not wanting to go there. Why the last time he took heavy steps on the marble floored hallways was that day when he released himself free from everything connected to Yanagi.
"Usami-sensei, it's so nice to see you!"
Occasionally, there were people who'd greet Usami to which the man in a plain darklong sleeved polo and matching dark shoes and slacks just nodded in response. Truthfully, he couldn't even remember who they were.
The shelter's mini park was converted into an open-night party. Tables were in the middle, a slow and happy music as the background as little childrens flock the bejewelled ladies and gentlemen on their tables as if asking for candies.
It annoyed Usami so instead of mingling with the 'good' people, he silently allowed himself to be drowned by the empty halls. A tour so as not to die of boredom.
And then he saw a ghost of the past. And the effect was the same as being struck by lightning.
It was coming closer.
It was moving slowly, its pink shirt making the green orbs looking at him with curiosity become more vivid.
The ghost was so near, Usami could already hear the ghost's footsteps.
And when they stood before each other, the ghost carrying a blue plastic bag, bowed.
Usami was too stunned to even breathe and found his feet nailed on the spot. The name he wanted to erase and never thought of for the past years screaming inside his mind. "Yanagi..."
"Ano...are you lost Sir?" the ghost which looked like no more than eighteen asked. He glanced at the direction he came from with his slim neck and looked back at Usami with his huge eyes. "This hall leads to the kitchen..."
Even the voice made Usami shiver. He had always pictured this. If he saw Yanagi once again, even in dreams, he would completely pass the brunette by as if they were strangers. He would just smirk and show that he wasn't at all devastated of his betrayal and even thank Yanagi that because of that, he had become the popular, rich and sought after man in the nation.
But after all those scenarios, in the end, he could only stare. Stare while his heart was pounding crazily in his chest so much that it hurts.
"Are you okay Sir? Your face is pale..."
"..." Usami took a step back, pulling himself together in the process. "I'm fine."
The ghost just looked up as if reading Usami. And then he pointed towards a door. "That's our clinic over there. You could lay they for a while..."
The man who was known for his unruffled composure and class, couldn't even reply a thank you. Usami knew and despised it, that he found himself wanting to grab that apparition before him and instead of pushing him away, lock him in his arms and cage him. The urge of anger, hatred, and longing fused into one emotion he thought he wasn't capable of. Regret.
"Hmmm...then I will head first," the ghost muttered, offering a friendly smile. "The kids will be offering a song in a few Sir so please return to the party if you're well enough."
The ghost didn't linger anymore. He walked past Usami, the plastic bag swaying by his side. Dumbfounded, the man with an indescribable expression was left staring into space. And like a gravity with so much force no one could defy, he turned abruptly. His lavender eyes only caught "Takahashi Misaki" printed at the back of the boy's shirt.
"I wasn't really hoping you'd be here. Seventeen years of disappearance and sending money without a single reply. I hope you didn't forget that I run a place for nourishing and caring, not begging and pity..." the woman sighed. "What happened to you?"
The voice was sounding cool, yet animosity was in it. However, Usami ignored the voice because it would be better than playing the niceties. The man didn't have to glance whose voice that was. The Home's directoress from his peripheral vision had grown so much shorter, her hair white as snow, though she still carried herself well for her age of 89.
"Not going to answer me?" she looked up once to the man and then back to the little children in costumes aligning themselves on the mini stage set before the seated visitors. The show lights still off. "Well...have you seen him?"
"Seen who?" he asked though he knew very well what the old woman was talking about. "Yanagi's son. He's a spitting image of his father...you'd be surprised."
'Surprise' was an understatement.
"Does he know about me?"
The woman placed her hands behind her, which made her look like a bit of a hunchback. "This just shows you didn't read a single mail I sent you..." she mumbled with a tinge of sadness. "No, don't worry. You told me you don't want him to know about you so I didn't tell him anything."
Children from six years old to ten were eagerly standing on the stage. They wore flowers, animals and angel costumes and hand in hand they gave a big bow. The show lights exploded, showering the expectators bright colors. And then a yellow light focused on the children.
The glittering in luxury people clapped their hands. And the children started singing.
"Nakayoshi dango te o tsunagi ooki na marui wa ni naru yo
The intimate dango clasps their hands together and create a big, round circle
Machi o tsukuri dango boshi no ue minna de waraiau yo
They create a town up on the dango planet and all laughs together
Usagi mo sora de te o futte miteru dekkai o-tsuki-sama
Even the rabbit is waiving to the sky; to the huge moon
Ureshii koto kanashii koto mo zenbu marumete"*1
Everything is rounding up, the happy things and the sad things too.
In the middle of such a childish song came something white falling from the sky. The calm breeze as if in a good mood blew continuously, carrying the papers in shapes of small stars and moons float and swirl around the place.
Usami who was standing with his back resting on a strong beam raised a hand and caught a 'petal'. A yellowish paper cut in a form of a star with a smiling face. He closed his hand and looked up.
There on the second floor of the building, in one of the windows was a teen happily sprinkling everyone with the paper crafts. Giving the song, the venue and the whole event the final conclusion.
Misaki was sitting on the window pane, holding his blue plastic bag where he slips his hand to get more stars and moon. Everyone was entranced by the surprise act but no one seemed to care where the papers came from. They were all busy clapping their hands, smiling to the cameras flashing and giving standing ovation to notice the one person who made holding the stars and moon possible that night.
Usami must have been staring too hard that it reached the kid. For a brief moment, the spitting image of his exlover nodded and smiled at him before giving the final sprinkle of the heavens. The wind moved to a different direction, suddenly some of the paper crafts flew to the boy's face playfully. Dancing in the air while Misaki was looking at them pass him by himself.
"...as you can see, Usami he's the oldest here in this Home, he works a partime job and made friends his age, but he still lives here because this is his home.. The board has been nagging me to let the kid go...but he says he wants to help this place out..." the voice of the old woman started ringing back into Usami's mind as he watched the most beautiful scene he had seen in such a long time. "I am already very old and have all the sickness old people have...If I die, Usami...Misaki...your bestfriend's son would have no one..." the woman looked up and didn't let go of Usami's gaze.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"After all these years, I thought you and Yanagi must have a very huge misunderstanding for you to turn your back at his son...hasn't seventeen years healed those wounds?"
"No one would protect him. The poor boy would be abandoned thrice."
Two days after the 'thank you' program, Usami Akihiko found himself standing before an altar. The incense burning everywhere, making him sick to his stomach. Children's crying on the side. And one green eyed boy just looking blankly into space on his seat.
The directoress, as if she knew this was about to come, slept and didn't woke up anymore.
"Well...that room over there is vacant," Usami started without making eye contact.
Everytime he catches a glimpse of those round, glassy eyes, he wasn't seeing Yanagi which was how it was supposed to be. To say it bluntly, watching the teen stare into the funeral altar for hours without moving and eating or doing anything, Yanagi's image vanished in his head. Despite being father and son and the spitting image of each other, this Misaki he barely knew started making his own impression to Usami. Really, it was a curse.
It was a curse Usami had to pay. To suddenly, beyond explanation care for the child you threw away, there was no logic in it. Stupid, unsensible, tied with the string caught self-redemption as if wanting to make up for all the things he did. "I mostly am not home doing researches...so I'm leaving you the passcode for the door..."
Misaki looked around, mostly quiet the entire time. His grip on his bag tightened and he took a hesitant step forward.
"Uhm, I know the Directoress said I could trust you until I could graduate my high school..." Misaki mumbled. "But...why are you doing this? I mean, you wouldn't get anything from this."
Usami raised a hand, massaging his temples lightly, ransaking his brain for a plausible reason. He couldn't say 'Hey I was your Dad's ex lover and threw you away when you were born, so here's how I make up to you!' end of story, could he?
"Me and your dad, well...Yanagi...we're very close..." Usami explained, clumsily lighting a cigarette for he could no longer imagine what kind of face he was making. At least with a stick in his mouth, he could pretend to be busy. "And since I know the Directoress somehow...and I live alone in this huge space...might as well share it with you until you could stand on your own."
"R-really? You were my dad's friend?" Misaki's tone changed from timid, to somehow gaining of energy. Usami thought perhaps because the thought that they have a person they know in common was more comforting.
"How was he? Was he a kind man?" Misaki started asking one after another, sitting all of a sudden beside Usami. Too close, very close. "What about my mom? Do you know her?"
Usami turned his head to face the boy, in the process blowing a cloud of smoke. And the kid, started coughing.
Lavender eyes darted from his just recently lighted cigarette and sighed. Stubbing the stick, he paid a slight nod before looking at the blank wall.
"Yanagi was kind and smart...and stupid in houseworks. He loves reading...and easily gets depressed..." Usami whispered, as if being pulled in a trance. "He was a traitor..."
The man shook his head and gave a lopsided smile. "And you look exactly the way he did when he was your age...it's almost unbelievable..."
Takahashi Misaki just quietly gazed at Usami. A stare that surprisingly made Usami, very uncomfortable. And why, he didn't have an answer.
"What?" Usami asked, standing from his seat. "I have to get back to work and one more thing, never enter my study. That's the only rule here."
The boy shook his head slightly. "I'm confused."
"Confused of what?" Usami asked.
"...Never mind..." Misaki grinned and stood himself. And then extending a smaller hand to the older man, Misaki smiled even more. "I am in your care starting from today. I hope we get along well."
Usami looked at the hand extended to him for a few seconds. And slowly, cautiously, clasped the warm hand, avoiding the impulse of pulling away abruptly, after feeling as if a strong current ran from his finger tips to his core.
After having this boarder in his home, Usami found himself waking up to the sound of knives hitting the chopping board. To the sound of plates and utensils. To the sound of oil frying eggs or fish. To the aromatic smell of coffee or tea. To the presence of another 'living' person in that flat.
The man had forgotten how good it felt to have someone eat breakfast together. And though mostly silently, even the comforting silence of the other teen sitting across the dining table was already enough.
"Usami-san...what do you like to eat for dinner?" the teen asked, forgetting to remove his apron. Usami looked at the weirdly looking animal printed on it, he couldn't tell whether it was a bird or a giant poop. He fought the urge to laugh.
"I told you you don't have to worry about it..."
"Eh! I am practically a freeloader. And besides, this is my talent."
Usami resigned in the end to whatever the boy wanted. Taking simple stolen glances at the teen, the boy was a genius in the kitchen. A complete opposite of Yanagi. To be honest...Usami was starting to think less of Yanagi and the man's betrayal. And began just enjoying Misaki's presence.
"You're problem is your English...I'm sorry..." Usami half scolded, half mocked. "But I don't understand how you could even forget something so simple."
"Well, I'm sorry but I am Japanese!"
Looking over the teen's assignments, Usami would point at the boy's mistakes but never tell him what they were. And Misaki would give a look like he was being toyed at.
Lifting a hand, Usami would mess the boy's hair shortly, then laughing he'd go out of the boy's room.
"Usami-san! You aren't so great!"
"Says Mr. Ds and Fs..." Usami would reply, smiling. A real smile. Not a forced, calculated smile. Just the real him he thought he had already forgotten.
There were times, Misaki would come to him and talk about his school and sucking grades. And there were times, the kid would just sit in one corner, chin on the back of his hands, watching Usami type away until the wee hours of the night.
"Argh..." the silverhaired man grunted, making a circling motion on his shoulders and arms. "That hurts..."
Misaki lifted his head and perked up as if a guard dog hearing his owner in discomfort. "Are you sore Usami-san?"
"Nah...nothing serious..." he answered, exhaling a tired one.
The boy grinned as a great idea flashed in his mind. Scurrying from his spot, he stood behind the seated man and firmly placed both his hands on the man's shoulders.
With brows knitting, Usami looked up and was met by a bobcat grinning at him.
"What are you doing?"
"Massage," Misaki replied proudly, doing a gesture of pulling his fingers one by one in preparation. "We were taught this kind of stuff in the Home. Massages, and stretches...you know some useful skills...I'm telling you I'm good!"
Usami shook his head and closed his eyes. "Well...you sounding so arrogant, let's see this 'skill' of yours..."
The feel of warm hands started running from the base of Usami's neck. Spreading then outwards towards the man's shoulder blades, Usami started knitting his brows from the contact. When he opened an eye slightly, he caught of the boy's image reflected on his laptop screen that had gone black as its screen saver.
Misaki had a gentle look while doing his massage. Silently, as if giving it his all.
"You know..." Usami disturbed the silence and gazed up. "Is this the hardest you could do? I'm sorry but it just tickles..."
"HA..." Misaki annoyedly nodded and stepped closer. "As you wish master..."
The man once more closed his eyes, waiting for a firmer grip from the boy. The instant Misaki grabbed his shoulders, Usami's eyes shot wide open. His mouth in a silent gasp.
"Why Master you want a hard massage!" Misaki grinned, continuing with the bone breaking massage he was doing.
Usami tried to put up with it but he could no longer stand it. Where on Earth did that skinny frame got all the force to squeeze his flesh that hard?
"Stop it, I'm fine already!"
"Eh...but I could still feel the tension in your muscles Sir!" Misaki joked, massaging harder.
"Enough!" Usami laughed, without thinking grabbed the kid's arm to make him stop. And everything else did.
Awkward silence filled the room.
Slowly, Usami let his hold slip away, his palm feeling the soft sensation of his fingers gliding away from the boy's skin. Usami cleared his throat and hit the mouse which brought the laptop back to life. Misaki just laughed behind Usami, grabbing once more the man's shoulders.
"Alright...alright...I'd do it properly this time!"
Usami, typing the same words repeatedly found his fingers frozen in the air when Misaki sighed. Concerned, Usami asked, "What is that deep sighing for?"
From the reflection of the laptop screen, Usami could see the boy's smile that started forming on his lips.
"Nothing really...it's just that...I am already getting used to this living..."
Usami continued typing away, allowing the brunette massage his tired shoulders. As if those fingers were also paiving its way into the recessess deep within him he had already closed so long ago.
"...it's the same here..." Usami thought.
However, a voice inside Usami's mind started screaming. Waiving a redflag that being closer to the kid would be a disaster. He had so much opened up his space and a part of his barren heart to the boy because Misaki was Yanagi's son, right? No that's not it, said the knowing voice. That isn't it and you know perfectly why you stupid man...you were in the middle of falling, again.. Usami started knitting his brows, his jaws suddenly working at the sudden realization.
"This is not right..."
"What is?" Misaki asked, stopping from his massage and leaning over the man's shoulder to gaze at the story in the screen.
To the teen's surprise, Usami shut the laptop and stood from his swivel chair. It made Misaki back away dumbfounded.
"I remember I had to do something. I'll return maybe this morning."
"Huh?" Misaki followed the man with his gaze. He watched Usami pull open his drawers and get a new set of clothes. "O-okay...do you want to eat first?"
"No...can you leave me for now? I'm going to change."
The boy didn't say anything. He was just all too surprised by the sudden change as if from a warm television drama, someone had changed a channel about the northpole during winter. Icy cold and depressing.
Usami ran a huge hand over his face exasperatedly.
How many days or weeks or months has it been with this routine of living? Usami was all too content that he didn't realize the four months since he had allowed Misaki to live with him. He should have known...this consequence was just around the corner.
To get that sudden thinking out of nowhere was a big shock. He found his knees weak that he had to sit on the edge of the bed, his polo all buttons still undone.
"God...he's Yanagi's son for crying outloud..." Usami exhaled loudly. "And what would he say...if he learned that me and his father were...? Damn it."
Seemed like all good things must come to an end like what they say. Only this was happening real fast for Usami to get a hold of things.
Many cars had passed before him. Many family butlers, family helps, the peope working for the mansion using the back door from the parking lot passed Usami's red car numerous times. Usami couldn't even count. He had been there since last night. Stuck, and frozen. He didn't go anywhere at all.
And after pondering things, he had come to a conclusion. Nothing. To just let everything fall to its place and gamble to this crazy thing that had sprouted not because Misaki was Yanagi's son or because Misaki had the same face as Yanagi's. There was something he knew was there, but it was too big for words.
"He's just what...seventeen?" Usami hit the steering wheel with his hand and cursed under his breath. "Try telling him about me and Yanagi first? Wait..." Usami paused. "That's...how could I?"
And so he was back to square one. Never was he this undecided. Never even before.
He sighed and looked up the empty wall before him.
"Maybe...I should just be the father's bestfriend till the end...To taint something so pure with my colors..." Usami smiled weakly. "I have never been this scared..."
"Come on! Let me in!"
"I told you only residents can enter here! Leave now!"
Usami paused on his tracks. He was ready going in the elevator back to his flat at the top most floor when he couldn't take the commotion anymore from the Mansion guard guarding the underground entrance. He walked towards the scene with a nonchalant face. And the moment the guard so the silverhaired man, he bowed right away.
"Eh...Sir...this punk insists on getting in the mansion...I told him he can't-"
"Ah shut up will you?!" the young man with green highlights on his perfectly black hair grunted, crossing his arms over his chest. For a young man who looked unkept, he had this 'strong' air around him. "The guards in the main entrance wouldn't allow me, and even here? Why are you all so stingy? It's not like I'd do something! I just am looking for someone!"
The guard frowned deeply and stepped closer to the younger male. "Then call your 'friend' first!"
"The bastard wouldn't take my calls! Just because he found a topclass man he could milk money from...that jerk Takahashi Misaki!"
There was a sharp ringing that formed inside Usami's ears. Just the meer mention of the name from this not so trustworthy man, made Usami feel tightness in the throat.
Without saying anything, Usami Akihiko grabbed the blackhaired teen's arm and unceremonously dragged him farther from the entrance, towards the lot where his car was. A silent and a bit more private space just for the two of them.
"Takahashi?" Usami asked, letting go of the arm with disgust. "You know Takahashi Misaki?"
The younger male yet sporting almost the same height as Usami Akihiko gave a look that something clicked inside his head. He sneered and then started laughing out loud.
"Oh this is just too funny. So it's you?"
"Mister...does doing Takahashi's father felt good?" the guy asked still shaking from his laughing. "Have you screwed the son as well? Uwah...you sure got the drive..." he said while eyeing the older man from head to foot approvingly.
Usami just found his knuckles burried on the teen's face. He couldn't stop himself even if he wanted to. And he didn't want to in the first place.
The younger male fell on the floor but stood up hurriedly, holding the walls for support. He smirked menacingly and brushed his thumb on his lips that tasted of iron.
"Wow...seems like that punk's plan worked out huh? You seem to be all over him Mister..."
The man fuming in anger grabbed the male by his collar and pulled him close. So close the other could almost see Usami's fangs.
"How did you know about Yanagi and me?!" Usami hissed. His every syllable a tone of danger.
"Well...that punk ditched me...might as well give him a taste of his potion..." he muttered as if he was bored. He slapped Usami's hand away and fixed his denim jacket properly. "Your pure pure Misaki told me. He knew who you are from the very start Siiiiiir."
Usami just stared at the blackhaired male's face seeing nothing.
Tapping his chest as if shooing dirt, the other male cocked his head, his mouth moved like he was chewing a gum for days. "We were supposed to split money you know? Didn't you know I spied on you for days to know what you usually eat in restaurants? Just so the all-so-great-cook could prepare it for you and win your heart and wallet!"
"I know you won't believe me sir...but you're so pitiful," the male whose presence was throwing Usami's mind out of balance started walking away while whistling. "...One piece of advice. Look into his bag."
When Usami slammed the door open, he saw first Misaki on the sofa sitting. His head was bowed, on the verge of sliding off, totally obvious that the kid had been waiting for his return.
With his loud and huge steps, he turned towards where Misaki's room was. His movements made Misaki stir from his light sleep and caught a glimpse of Usami's rigid back headed to his room. The teen jumped up, ran after the man and lost the color of his face when he reached the open door.
Usami was holding Misaki's bag in one hand. The other hand holding a leather notebook. Even from that distance, Misaki coud see the shaking in those hands. And whatever reason, he knew the man before him was angry beyond limits.
"What's this?" Usami hissed lowly that it almost sounded as a growl. He waived the notebook, some of its old pages falling on the floor silently. "WHAT. IS. THIS?"
"Uhm..." Misaki dared to step one foot inside the room, inching just a little bit closer. "That...it's..."
"This is Yanagi's right?!" Usami spat, hurling the bag down the floor. Misaki's pens and other stuff in the bag scattered around the floor pitifully. "YOU KNEW FROM THE VERY START?"
Misaki drew a deep breathe, unconsciously holding the knob of the door. He looked like a frightened child anyone would take pity. But Usami just felt angrier.
"You even dared to ask me what your father was like...when you already knew about me and Yanagi?"
Usami threw the diary on the floor as well and laughed in spite of himself. "Seriously...I never thought I was so...dumb..."
The man, who looked suddenly so tired took his wallet out of his pocket. Took all of his bills and threw it to Misaki's face. The boy was so stunned, he even had forgotten to blink.
"Money right? There's your money..."
Misaki slid down the floor, reaching for the paper bills scattered around his feet. He never looked up. he just stared at the floor hard enough to melt it down.
"What? I know it's not enough...I'll give you more..." Usami hissed. "Wait here!"
Still looking down, the brunette stood and blocked Usami's way by the door. Without a word, Misaki slapped the money on the man's chest. Gritting his teeth, Misaki looked up. Terrible expression was on his face as he glared at Usami accusingly.
"I admit that I knew who you were from the very start! That you send money over for me!" Misaki shouted, not looking away, not backing away, not hiding himself away anymore. "When I was ten, I sneaked out and searched where my mother lived. The family there threw a bag with my father's belongings, that diary included!
How he caused a mistake and had me! Everything was in detail! How you two had a relationship. How much he loves you, how much you loved him!"
He had never shouted like that in his life. How he wanted to ask these things from the very start when he and Usami met in the hallways during that 'thank you' program.
"That's why I couldn't understand why you couldn't forgive my father?! If you did, have you ever thought he'd not reach the end of his rope and commit such a sin?! I despise you from the bottom of my heart because you are the reason why I don't have a family!"
The boy stepped closer. His eyes reddening, his breathing tired. "You are not the only victim here!"
Usami just stared in utter anger. His hatred soaring beyong boiling point. He started walking himself, making the shorter male back away. Back away until Misaki felt the hard surface of the wall against his back. But that didn't make him stop.
"I admit that I wanted to try to playing, make you fall for me and then dump you like you did to my father! Make you feel miserable a hundred times more than how my father felt!"
The older man raised a fist. He so badly wanted to release the frustration, the hurt, the anger. He wanted to break this trash into pieces. He wanted to do it so bad. So bad that tears started falling from the corners of his eyes. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't raise a hand to him. He couldn't hurt him. And so, he ended up bowing his head and punching the wall behind Misaki with so much force, the boy could hear bones in that.
Misaki froze on his spot, while the older man leaned closer, bending down to whisper into Misaki's ear.
"I knew it..." Usami hissed. "Betrayal fucking runs in your blood..."
Tears started tainting Misaki's cheeks as Usami started turning his back away. Massaging his temples in aggravation, Usami pointed a finger to the door. "Leave."
"I said LEAVE! BEFORE I LOSE MYSELF AND KILL YOU!"
The boy that time pitifully flinched. He didn't move at all and just stared at the man, hiccuping on his own.
The man glared at Misaki, and then he stomped towards the door himself. "If you don't want to leave, I will!"
His feet suddenly felt light that running towards the taller man was a breeze. Misaki grabbed Usami's arm and disgustedly, Usami pulled his arm away.
"I...I will leave!" Misaki hurriedly breathe out. "This is your home after all..." smiling a little, Misaki wiped his hand on his face. "I thought I finally found a second home..."
"Please...stop the drama I won't buy it."
Misaki looked hurt. The boy was so much hurt that his chest hurt. It hurt so bad, perhaps the same as in drowning.
Slowly the boy walked over the floor where his father's diary was. He picked the fallen notes and slipped them inside the notebook securely.
"I'm sorry..." Misaki mumbled. "I was wrong trying to take revenge...and lying..."
Usami looked away, not wanting to hear the word he had erased in his vocubulary since seventeen years ago.
The sound of the opening door sounded strong as it was the only thing filling up the silence that dominated.
"Usami-san..." the boy softly whispered hesitantly. "...at least I want you to know...I never knew I would fall in love for real..."
The door clicked close. And Usami was left standing in the house that shortly had become a home, but went back to being a cold grave once more.
It felt frustrating to hear the wallclock and its seconds-hand make its round. It sounded the same as a mocking laughter in Usami's ears.
He ran both his hands on his face. Cursing under his breath, he glanced at the closed door of Misaki's room. Despite the distance, he could hear soft yet hurried footsteps that were slowly fading. Slowly moving farther away.
"..I never knew I would fall in love for real..."
Usami turned his back. Harder than an adobe, he wouldn't back off with this decision. It was better this way. Right?
"This is fucking exactly like how it had been...this cycle...never seems to end..." he glanced around the room. Every square inch smelled of Misaki. Nothing sweet. Nothing extravagant, he couldn't smell anything at all but 'warmth'.
"Nothing really...it's just that...I am already getting used to this living..."
"You are not the only victim here!"
It was only when Usami realized he was about to open the steel door that his feet just moved on its own while his head was still a mess. The tightness in his throat was so strong, as if there was rope choking him.
Could he pretend that nothing happened? That nothing changed? That it was okay for him to watch history repeat itself?
With one strong pull, he opened the door and ran out of his flat, barefooted. The answer had always been there. He just tried to supress and ignore it because he was afraid. He loves Misaki. Not because he was Yanagi's son. But because he was Misaki.
He ran towards where the nearest elevator was.
People in the hallways chatting about something threw curious glances at the usually composed man. But Usami didn't even care.
This time, Usami Akihiko wasn't thinking anymore at all. He would just dive into it with full force.
Usami was there, huffing, trickles of sweat showed on his forehead and he could feel if he didn't reach the closing elevator, that was really it.
Misaki who was inside the elevator, hugging his bag silently gasped as he watched the silverhaired man sprint towards his direction.
Right before the doors closed, the man was able to throw himself in.
The brunette pushed himself in the corner while Usami was standing in the front. Two other persons talking about a certain show laughed. The mother checking her wrist watch sighed. And the old man who was holding a newspaper made a 'tsk tsk' sound at the economy section.
Both Misaki and Usami were in that moving box. Silently counting. Silently waiting. As each of the other persons riding the elevator went out one by one.
And by the fourteenth floor, there was only the two of them left.
"I can't forget. That's impossible for me," Usami mumbled, the boy watching the man's broad back. "...But I can forgive."
Misaki just hugged his bag tighter.
"I'm willing to accept all. The thing I couldn't even do for your father," the older man looked up the blinking numbers of the floors passing. "Do you now realize how important you've become to me? That's why I was so affected by you lying..."
Usami turned slightly at Misaki. "We're on the tenth floor now. If you stepped out of this elevator then, this is really it. The end."
Misaki suddenly looked up, eyes wide and shocked.
"But if you stay...I'm willing to start from scratch..." Usami sighed. "I want you to make your own decision. Your confession earlier...the past between me and your dad. And the fact that I have grown to cherish you..." Usami laughed a little. "... 'love' isn't even enough to describe it."
"Eighth floor..." Usami counted.
The boy ended up glaring at the numbers above their heads too. His face couldn't be painted.
Misaki glanced at Usami. Usami looked back at the sad eyes.
Even Usami had to drew his own breath. He found it funny and amusing that he was this nervous. To think that it was just a kid young enough to be his son. And he began becoming frightened at the 'ding' sound the elevator was making.
Misaki glanced at Usami, his bag falling from his hands. "I'm sorry..."
The silence from the last 'ding' to the sound of the doors sliding open felt so slow. Even the people from a little afar waiting for the elevator to go to their respective floors seemed to move in slow motion.
"Sorry?" Usami exhaled, looking far at the bright glass walls. "...I see..." he said, waiting for Misaki to go out.
To the man's surprise, he felt a slight tugging at his sleeve. His eyes sweeping from the view outside, it landed on the small hand holding to the fabric of his long sleeved polo.
"I'm really sorry for lying..."
"You're not...stepping out...?"
It was probably the most dumbest thing the acclaimed author had asked in his life. But he had to hear it. He had to hear it from Misaki's lips that this start wasn't just a part of his imagination he used for writing.
Misaki shyly smiled and all of a sudden, pressed the 'close' button. Even the people outside who was ready entering got surprised. The sliding doors met each other. The 'ding' signalling it was already closed tight. And it was going up again.
Without words spoken, Usami grabbed the hand on his sleeve and locked it in his. Both just looking up the blinking numbers back to the top floor.
The instant they held hands together for the first time, it felt so fitting. As if Usami's bigger hand was made to accomodate the brunette's hand in his.
Usami squeezed the soft flesh inside his hand. Just the sensation was enough to say it was paradise.
"We should eat breakfast..." Misaki mumbled. His whole face bright red.
"Hmmm," the man replied. "And then visit your parent's grave."
They didn't talk about Misaki's father as Usami's past. They didn't talk about the revenge Misaki was saying before. Maybe in the next few months. Or next few years. After all, the moment they stepped out of the elevator, the 'start from scratch' had begun. Pasts were important, but they didn't have to affect anything anymore. If ever, that was to reflect about the mistakes and never do them again.
"Misaki...when will you turn eighteen?"
"Ah...then I'll decide when your birthday is..."
Misaki who was busy setting up plates, awkwardly cocked his head. "Ha?"
"Today is your birthday..." Usami grinned. The kind of grin Misaki somehow knew about. And the boy was almost near dropping the plate he was holding.
Seeing the look on the face of the teen, Usami smiled and sat comfortably on his chair as he glanced at the yellow envelopes he was holding. "Just kidding..."
The main lesson learned by Usami and Misaki with this, was that all unfortunate things they both thought were actually the preparation for a gift.
This start from scratch wasn't without flaws. There would always be problems and contradictions brought upon by age, upbringing and thoughts. But in love, everyone has this 'ignorance' and nothing else really mattered anymore.
"Usami-san...what are those you're holding?"
The man smiled. The envelopes said 'Dream House'. The letters about Misaki sent to Usami from the orphanage he never opened before.
"Nothing...Just reading to catch up..."
chapter end notes:
*1The song is Dango Daikazoku from Clannad.
And if you noticed, Usami's counting, no fourth floor because it's bad luck!(￣□￣；)!
yahoooooooooooooooo!:*:・( ε )・:*: it's been a while since i released a one shot ne? im sorry. BUSY! UWAH...so...i guess me updating and releasing new oneshots would be longer...T_T
PLEASE DON'T FORGET ME, i'd just release something new whenever i can. ONCE A WEEK maybe?...DON'T THINK I DROPPED DEAD SOMEWHERE OR SOMETHING. BECAUSE IF I DID, I'D SEND YOU PM'S! BUWAHAHAHAHAHA...kidding...
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR READING! AND...yeah...kinda weird ne? Hahaha I was thinking Takahiro could be Usami's ex here...but...I dont want! hahah
anyway...i recently started biking once more. it has been years since the last time i rode a bike and it took me so long to get back the hang of it. now...it's pretty fun, small kids in ouR neighborhood would run after me while I sway left and right and unsteadily. more practice and i'd be a master biker! hahaha...
you slope...here i come!