Dust to Dust
There was no excuse for laziness or ignorance. Iwaki had never been prone to either. He had worked hard and diligently since childhood, in all matters and all aspects of life. He had aimed for perfection, always reaching for the stars. Finally reaching what he had aimed for, both in life and in love, seemed like a miracle. From AU to CEO... Yes, Iwaki Kyousuke had come a long way since the first time he earned barely enough to pay the next month's rent by taking a woman in front of a camera.
But his life, his success, his accomplishments, his love... all were lost. It has been a sock, an unpleasant surprise although he should have seen it coming. Only he didn't. And now Iwaki could do nothing but to stare aimlessly into the black, deep oxygen-deprived universe that was the ruin of his perfect life. He had worked so hard and ended up with nothing.
Emptiness... just like his heart was empty, so was the house. The room that had been Katou's felt like a tomb, nothing was left but the decaying corpse of a wrecked relationship. In the wardrobe, doors open, a few empty hangers clung to the bar, bare bones that once held Katou's shirts. There was still a lingering scent of the cologne that Katou used.
Iwaki wandered bewildered around the house, from one room to the other, from floor to floor, searching for what he knew would not be there. He had felt so comfortable in his relationship that he had forgotten that love needs nourishment to continue to live and grow. All there was left for him was a reminder of what had been: an envelope and a letter with the devastating message that Katou was no longer his. What Iwaki had believed would never happen to him had happened anyway. Katou's love had dried out, withered, and Iwaki had been too busy to notice.
Iwaki-san, the note had said, I am leaving. My Iwaki-san is using his life and his abilities to further his company, and I will not stand in his way if that is what he wishes for. Iwaki-san has pursued his dreams so persistently, and who would I be if I were to ruin what my beloved Iwaki-san aims for?
Iwaki knew the true meaning of the letter. Katou was telling him that he had ignored his lover and husband to a degree where Katou had given up. Iwaki hadn't even noticed the signs. How would he? He hadn't been at home for months, other than to sleep. He had been too tired for lovemaking, too tired for talking, too tired to recognise that life was going on around him. Without him.
And now he was left here with nothing. Nothing that mattered. Iwaki realised that the company and the actors and entertainers he had tried to keep basically meant nothing to him although he felt responsible for their jobs. When the equation of his life was put like this, nothing but Katou mattered. Iwaki had given everything he had - and lost everything. He had trusted Katou to understand, demanding understanding and patience in a way that had destroyed the harmony of their life. Passively, he had let their common happiness slip through his fingers. Blind and deaf to Katou's pain, Iwaki alone had been responsible for their downfall.
Once more he folded Katou's letter carefully and put it back in the envelope. The paper was slightly crinkled, as if Katou had cried when he wrote it. Iwaki certainly had when he read it. But enough was enough! Iwaki put the letter down on the coffee table and stood. His time of passivity, of letting life and work pass by, was over. Now it was time to act.
Katou let himself drown in the sensation of a hungry mouth. Deepening the kiss, he allowed himself to enjoy the feeling of being desired so jealously. He kissed back, desperately devouring what little warmth and love he could find in the arms of the man who were embracing him so eagerly. He let his hands wander, mapping out the unknown area of this unexplored body. Yoshizumi-san was unexpectedly passionate. 'Oh,' Katou moaned as Yoshizumi aligned his body with his, pressing him hard up against the wall. 'Oh!'
'Aaaand, cut!' Mochimune-kantoku's voice pulled Katou out of the haze he'd been in. 'Perfect, gentlemen,' Mochimune praised his actors; a rare appreciation, coming from the usually so strict and demanding director. 'Ten minutes, and then we are on to the next scene.'
Katou stepped back, slightly dizzy. The returning pain of his loss, for a few minutes forgotten, was almost unbearable. He managed to put up a mask, pretending nothing was wrong.
'Are you all right, Katou-kun?' Yoshizumi asked, supporting Katou with one arm. Yoshizumi was a calm, quiet man, but there was nothing wrong with his eyes. He clearly saw right through Katou's feeble attempt to hide the staggering pain of his loss.
Katou nodded slowly. 'I'm sorry. I... I...'
Yoshizumi waved at one of the assistants and helped Katou sitting down in one of the studio's folding chairs. 'Please, get Katou-kun some tea,' Yoshizumi asked politely as he draped his jacket over Katou's shivering shoulders. Yoshizumi knelt down, looking up at Katou. 'I'm sorry, but shouldn't you talk to him?' Yoshizumi asked, his voice barely audible. Katou-kun... you're not well.'
There was that. No, Katou wasn't well. He felt as if his heart had been ripped out and trampled into atoms. He felt as if he could cry a river of tears that could drown the entire world. He felt as if being dead would be not only remotely better, but decidedly less painful and currently very alluring. 'Forgive me,' he said, keeping the tears at bay. 'I'll be all right in a moment. I'm just not...'
'Of course not.' Yoshizumi patted Katou's knee. It felt comforting, a little. 'Katou-kun... are you sure that this is the solution, breaking up with him?' Yoshizumi looked at the film crew, all too busy to listen in on their quiet conversation, before he continued. 'It is a bit drastic.'
'I've been gone for a week, and he hasn't yet realised that I've left him,' Katou whispered. 'That's a bit drastic, too. Please, just let me act. I'll work hard!' Yes, that was it. He'd work hard to forget, the same way he'd been forgotten. This negligence had been too much and going on for too long. Once Katou's love for Iwaki had been like a precious diamond. Eternal. Indestructible. Surprisingly it had shattered under pressure. Dust... that was all there was left. Nothing worth to remember. Except... everything. Every happy moment they had together. The life they've had. The love that Katou had believed would be forever.
'Even I have limits,' he told himself and got up, ready for yet another take.
'I didn't think it would take you this long,' Yoshizumi said as he opened the door. 'A full week, Iwaki-kun?'
'I'm sorry. Sorry...' Iwaki bowed, apologetic. Yoshizumi was right. 'There is nothing I can say.' There wasn't. There were no apologies that could ever make up for taking another human being for granted, Iwaki knew that very well, and yet that was exactly what he had done. 'Katou... have you... seen?'
'Yes. I have.' Yoshizumi seemed as usual to the point and not really interested in pleasing Iwaki. 'We're in the same film, you know. If you know.'
Iwaki flinched. Yoshizumi was not sentimental, but he was rarely rude. That more than anything underlined Iwaki's immense failure. 'No. I don't. And I don't know what to do. It is all my fault, Yoshizumi-san.' Iwaki took a deep breath, keeping himself under control. He could not break now; he had to be strong enough to get his husband back. 'I don't know what to do,' Iwaki repeated, feeling utterly powerless. The strength that was Katou had disappeared, and Iwaki was crumbling.
'Very well.' Yoshizumi stepped back and let Iwaki in, sending him a tense smile. 'I suppose I have to help you; it'll be too much listening to the two of you wailing about your lost love for months to come. I like your usual saccharine nonsense better.'
Seated with a cup of tea in one of Yoshizumi's comfortable sofas, Iwaki finally realised to which content he had alienated himself from the life he and Katou's had together. 'You've kissed Katou?' Iwaki asked, slightly shaken. 'And why haven't I been informed-' Iwaki cut himself off, knowing very well why. 'So, Katou is playing a man who has lost his male lover in an accident and he's trying to pull his life back on track?' It hurt. It was far too familiar. Fate could not have found a more exquisite way to mock Iwaki Kyousuke.
'You really are married to your company more than to your companion,' Yoshizumi said and sighed. 'You have no idea of what is going on in your life, have you? No wonder Katou-kun needed to act and react.' The look Yoshizumi sent Iwaki was less than friendly. 'Yes. We're both in Mochimune-kantoku's new film. I'm playing Higashino's -- that's Katou-kun's part -- new lover.'
Iwaki suddenly thought he saw a cruel glint flicker in Yoshizumi's eyes.
'You know, Katou-kun has never played better than he does now. I think it's the desperation. Mochimune-kantoku is very pleased.' Yoshizumi paused, as if to let the words sink in. 'He's a very good kisser, is Katou-kun,' Yoshizumi said softly, letting his voice drop to a drawling purr. 'Eager. I'm not really into men, but with Katou...' His voice trailed out, as if he was thinking on something decidedly pleasant.
'If you don't want him, Katou is not the type who waits forev-'
'No.' Iwaki cut in, putting aside his inherent shyness and the deep respect he had for Yoshizumi. 'No!' Iwaki stood, knowing he'd been had, but it didn't matter. 'Katou is mine,' he announced coldly,'and no one is going to take him away from me!' Iwaki managed to relax a bit; his had clenched his fists, angry, even though he knew that Yoshizumi had been goading him. 'I'll do anything... anything. Just... please, help me.'
'Thank you, Iwaki-kun.' Yoshizumi stood too, it was clear he had been playing a part. 'I have no designs on Katou-kun's virtue, but I needed to hear you say those words. You finally realised who's most important in your life, and it is not your damned entertainment company.' Yoshizumi put a hand on Iwaki's shoulder. It felt reassuring, relaxing. 'I'll help. I think I've got an idea. Katou is not inclined to speak to you yet, so we might have to plot and plan a little. You might end up owing a favour to someone you don't really want to owe any favours, though.'
As for owing favours, Iwaki didn't care. All he cared about was Katou, the center of his universe. Unfortunately, he had needed a severe wake-up call to be able to remember that very important fact.
'Three films, Iwaki-kun, and exclusive rights to pick and choose from your herd of nice little actors for two years.'
'Two.' Iwaki hadn't reached the top by being weak during business negociations. When feelings weren't involved, he was strict, cold and sharp. 'And at least three months' notice before you are allowed any demands on my employees.'
'Done.' Director Mochimune smirked as he sat back in his comfortable restaurant chair reaching for the sake. 'I'll still get you to sign for the third, though. I have the rights to a brilliant trilogy, and you'll fit the part so well.' Mochimune waved at the waiter, asking politely for pen and paper and even more sake. 'Now, let's drink. I need a few days before we can execute our plan, and I don't have any filming to do tomorrow. Damned lazy actors... wanting days off and whatnot.' Mochimune poured sake for Iwaki who could do nothing but reciprocate.
'Thank you, Mochimune-kantoku,' Iwaki managed as he watched Mochimune pour for Yoshizumi. Iwaki knew he had sold his soul to the devil, or at least to the devil's best friend. Mochimune-kantoku would wring their agreement until he had got the everything he could possibly get out of it. But compared to losing Katou this was nothing. Three films with the Director and Iwaki's fame would rise to even higher levels. Mochimune was the young and upcoming star on Japan's film-firmament. At least they had an agreement. There would be no "owing". Iwaki had bought and paid for for Mochimune's cooperation with his talent. At least he didn't have to beg.
The waiter arrived with the requested items. Mochimune seemed to want Iwaki's signature on their agreement right away. However, Mochimune began to flesh out a scene, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. 'This is going to work,' the director mumbled and added more kanji; little unreadable doodles on the paper. Mochimune had a horrible hand. Iwaki looked at Yoshizumi, raising an eyebrow questioningly. Yoshizumi just shook his head, as if telling Iwaki not to disturb. Yoshizumi pushed the sakana plate towards Iwaki. 'Eat,' Yoshizumi demanded. 'You look like someone who hasn't had a decent meal for days.'
Which, of course, Iwaki hadn't. He reached for the yakitori. The grilled chicken smelled delicious, and suddenly Iwaki realised he was hungry like a wolf. When Mochimune finally put down the pen, Iwaki had emptied the plate.
'On Thursday next,' Mochimune said and looked like a cat that had got into the cream. 'I'll have this copied and sent to Iwaki-kun together with the original script. Please, work hard and be prepared.'
'Yes. I'll do my best.' Iwaki bowed slightly.
'I'm counting on it,' Mochimune said. 'And if you don't, at least I get to see you naked.'
Katou entered the studio wearing nothing but a silk robe. Only Mochimune and one of the photographers and an assistant were there, possibly to let the scene be as intimate and comfortable as possible. Katou was grateful. It had been some time since he had been doing nude shots. It had been a last-minute decision from Mochimune, to add a new scene to the film. Katou didn't care. He just wanted to work and forget; it didn't matter if he had to pretend going to bed with another man. It was warmth and distraction, and that was all that mattered to Katou.
Mochimune nodded a welcome. 'My apologies for demanding a change without giving you much time,' Mochimune said. 'But it shouldn't be too difficult.'
'Not too many lines.' Katou managed a wry smile. There would be mostly moaning and some I love yous 'But Mochimune-kantoku was right,' Katou agreed. 'It makes sense to make a flash-back to show the deep relationship between Higashino and his lover; it makes his loss even more painful.'
'Mmm.' Mochimune nodded. 'Being separated by death is so much worse than being separated by anger and negligence, don't you think?'
Katou flinched. How much did Mochimune know? And was the director mocking him? Katou decided to change the subject. He just wished they could begin shooting. 'You said you had to find an actor for this new addition. As we're both here, I assume you did?'
'Yes,' Mochimune said and turned his back to Katou, directing his attention to the cameraman and his assistant. 'Help Katou-kun on the bed,' he ordered, clearly not wanting to be contradicted. 'Our other actor will be here any minute; he just needed his make-up done first.'
'But-' Katou began, then stopped himself. He had been dismissed by King Mochimune, and arguments or questions were clearly not accepted any longer. Damned, Mochimune could be such an arrogant, annoying arse! Fuming, Katou let the assistant help him arrange himself underneath the duvet. It wasn't any different from doing AV - although he didn't actually had to have sex, just pretend having it. He could do that. How often hadn't he done actresses he'd hardly known for a few minutes?
'You are asleep. Your lover will open the door, slide under the covers without a word, and you wake up slowly, giving in to him, very willingly,' Mochimune instructed as the assistant dimmed the lights around the bed. Only one spotlight was left. 'I'll have the camera focusing on your face mostly so, please, be careful and look caught up in your love and desire for him, submitting entirely to him. He's the love of your life.'
'I will,' Katou agreed. As long as he was allowed to act and forget, he'd catch the moon for Mochimune-kantoku. Work was bliss, compared to the lonely nights without Iwaki-san.
The assistant counted down before Mochimune commanded, 'Action!'.
Katou closed his eyes, forcing himself to relax. He breathed deeply, slowly, willing his body to mimic the blessed sleep that one had if life felt good. His mind was blank. It was better that way. He could hear a door open and close somewhere. A soft rustling of the duvet signalled that Katou's co-actor had arrived. Katou made a sleepy noise and turned on his side as the unknown actor slipped in next to him. A warm, naked body aligned itself with his. Katou sighed and put his arm around the actor's neck, before he snuggled up to the man. As Katou breathed in, he realised the man had a familiar warmth, a familiar scent.
'Does Katou think I'd let him go, just like that?' the actor murmured in Katou's ear. 'That I wouldn't come for him? That I would lose what I find most precious in this world?'
Katou froze. He knew already, he knew that beloved voice, the oh-so-familiar touches... 'Iwaki-san?' he whispered and opened his eyes. Iwaki's eyes were tender, but still holding an obscure pain that Katou hadn't seen in Iwaki's gaze for a long time. It hurt. It hurt so much. 'Iwaki-san,' Katou repeated, desperate for his lover, but still holding back. 'What-'
'Shhh,' Iwaki whispered and kissed Katou softly. 'I've been so stupid.' He kissed Katou again, more firmly this time. 'No matter if I am going to use the rest of my life to convince you, I will make you come back to me. I'll never forget my priorities again. I swear, Katou.' A tear made its way to the corner of Iwaki's eye and trickled down his cheek. 'You're my husband. I love you.' Iwaki's pain was so intense that every word cut its way to Katou's broken heart.
'Iwaki-san!' All Katou's resolve crumbled and became dust. He wrapped his arms tightly around Iwaki's neck. The trouble they've had they could work out later. Now there was just the longing and the love between them. If Katou was loved like this, there was nothing they couldn't overcome as long as they were together. He should have realised that. It has always been like that between them. Why would it be different now?
Then Iwaki's lips were on his and nothing really mattered any longer. Then Iwaki was above him, inside him, and Katou forgot about the camera and the director and about the entire world, except for the small, important universe that was his and Iwaki's.
Later, when Dust to Dust finally was released, adding to Mochimune's fame, the intense love scene (that mysteriously had found its way to the Internet by help of a certain Director Mochimune) between Iwaki and Katou was one of the most popular videos on Nico Nico for more than two weeks.