“Nee Tokiya… when are you coming back?”
“I still have a few more months to go, Otoya. Please be patient.”
Otoya pouted, laying back on the king-sized bed he shared with Tokiya. Almost a year had passed since they graduated from Saotome Academy in April, though it wasn’t how they wanted it to go. Haruka chose someone else and succeeded, and despite having officially graduated from the school, both Tokiya and Otoya lost the chance to become an idol. The older teen knew how badly it affected Otoya and offered his roommate a chance to perform with him, but the redhead declined, hiding his disappointment behind a false smile. “It’s okay, Tokiya,” he had said, even as tears formed at the corner of his eyes. “I’m okay, really…”
It broke Tokiya’s heart to see Otoya hurt, and he blurted out his feelings for the younger male, surprising the both of them. Otoya choked up, sobbed and clung onto his partner after the confession, and Tokiya swore not to break Otoya’s heart, not after this episode.
That was, until HAYATO went to international fame six months after they graduated and moved in together. Suddenly, Tokiya’s workload doubled; Himuro scheduled a worldwide tour for the raven-haired teen when the fanbase demanded for live performances overseas, and, as much as Tokiya wanted Otoya to follow him, the redhead stubbornly declined, stating that he’d be okay working in the orphanage. Not wanting a repeat of their graduation, Tokiya promised to be back as soon as the tour ended, sealing the promise with a kiss.
That was four months ago.
Otoya grumbled over the phone, and Tokiya sighed, rubbing his temple. “That’s what you said the last month!” the younger male whined, punching the pillow in annoyance. “How long is this stupid tour anyway?”
“Himuro-san said it will end in a few months, Otoya.”
“Don’t lie to me!”
“I’m not lying, Otoya. I have little control over my schedule now, so please be patient-“
“I miss you, Tokiya…”
“I miss you too, Otoya, but please, understand that I’m doing my best to complete everything and come home.”
“Promise me you’ll be back for my birthday, at least?”
“I’ll be back.”
It was the coming to the second week of April, two months after their last phone call, and Otoya was buzzing with excitement. He had received mail from Tokiya stating that he’d be back for Otoya’s birthday, and the younger teen couldn’t contain his joy. Even the children at the orphanage were infected with his happiness, and for the whole first week, Otoya never had a frown on his face.
April eleventh came, and Otoya took the day off and waited at home impatiently for Tokiya to return. The older male didn’t specify when exactly he would return, so he decided to wait the whole day.
Otoya ate breakfast alone, but he didn’t mind. Tokiya must have been stuck at the airport and his phone battery had died.
He ate lunch alone, getting a little worried, but he didn’t think too much of it. Tokiya must have gotten stuck in traffic, or he must have taken a detour to get a last minute present for Otoya.
When it came around to dinner time, Otoya couldn’t eat, having worried himself sick when Tokiya didn’t appear at the door. He had tried calling Tokiya’s phone, but it was a dead tone. Even Himuro couldn’t be contacted.
Midnight, April twelfth. Otoya cried himself to sleep, clutching his phone. The next morning, he had to call in sick, and only at noon did he receive a phonecall, but not from the person he’s waiting for.
“Hello. May I speak to Ittoki Otoya-kun?”
Otoya frowned. It wasn’t a voice he knew, and the number was private. Still, a call’s a call, and he continued. “Ittoki speaking.”
“Ah, I was told to pass a message from HAYATO to you, Ittoki-kun. Shall I play it for you?”
The message played, and Otoya teared up again when he heard Tokiya’s apologetic voice.
“Otoya, I’m very sorry I couldn’t get back on time for your birthday. There was a problem with the airport security at Moscow, and I couldn’t catch a flight back to Japan because of it. I wanted to call too, but there was no coverage where I am. I could only record this and pass this on to Himuro, and I trust he gets this to you before your birthday. Again, I’m really sorry. I broke our promise. Please forgive me, Otoya.”
The redhead sobbed and hung up, crying into his pillow.
“I hate you, Tokiya…”
Another four months passed without word from Tokiya, and before Otoya knew, it was already August sixth. Otoya had circled the date on his calendar to remind himself to get a present for the older teen before, but now he wasn’t so sure if Tokiya would even be back for his birthday.
Still, he tried his luck, and risked a call.
“A-ah, Himuro-san? It’s Otoya.”
“Ah, Ittoki. HAYATO is in the middle of a performance right now.”
“Uhm, can you pass a message to him?”
“What is it?”
“Wish him happy birthday, and tell him I miss him. Ah, and if he can call me back, tell him to call, please?”
“I will do so.”
Hanging up, Otoya glanced at the clock. If Tokiya’s in the middle of a performance, he should be done in a few more hours, right?
Retreating to the bedroom, Otoya stared at his phone. One hour, two hours, three hours passed, but his phone remained silent. He was very close to giving up when it rang, and he almost dropped it before he answered, not bothering to check the caller ID.
“Oto-kun? This is Oto-kun, right?”
His former teacher chuckled on the other line. “Aah, so I did get the right number. How have you been, Oto-kun?”
“…I’ve been okay.”
“I’m fine, Rin-chan. Really.”
“You know you can’t lie to me, Oto-kun. Is this about Tokiya-chan?”
“How is he? Last I heard he was in San Francisco.”
“Un. We haven’t talked properly for six months…”
“Hmm, that is a problem.” There was a pause, and then Ringo continued talking. “Tell you what: how ‘bout you, me, Maa-kun and Nat-chan get together for a little reunion? I miss you boys. You three were my best idol students I’ve ever had, and that’s saying some.”
“T-thanks for the offer Rin-chan, but I don’t think-“
“Tut-tut-tut, no buts! I’ve already called Maa-kun and Nat-chan, and we’re bringing you out whether you like it or not!~ See you in a bit, Oto-kun~”
Ringo hung up before Otoya could decline, and he sighed. Oh well, at least he could have fun with his former teacher and classmates once in a while.
“Otoya? I’ve got your message from Himuro-san. Thank you for the birthday wish, and I miss you too. I’m really sorry I couldn’t be back for my birthday either, and I understand if you didn’t buy me anything. The tour is making me homesick, but I have to persevere. Only a few more cities left, and I’ll be back home. I miss you, Otoya.”
Another four months passed, and once December rolled in, Otoya had all but forgotten about Tokiya. Calls between the two were non-existent, and the young teen barely remembered how his partner sounded like in person, having been separate for so long.
Christmas was around the corner, and, even though Otoya wasn’t as religious as his adoptive mother, he still believed in the magic of Christmas. Entering a small chapel nearby their - no, his apartment on a cold Christmas Eve, he sat down in one of the pews and prayed.
He prayed for his friends’ safety in the new year, he prayed for the children at the orphanage, he prayed for his mothers, both his birth and adoptive, and he prayed for his father, despite not knowing him.
For Tokiya, he didn’t pray. He wished instead, wished for the older teen to come back, or at least, to hear his voice somewhere. Recordings and CDs didn’t match up to the real thing, but Otoya knew it was too far-fetched an idea to be able to listen to his partner in person.
It was close to evening when he passed by a mall, glancing at the shops inside. On a whim, he entered, wandering aimlessly until he got to the centre of the mall, where a huge Christmas tree stood. It was decorated with red and purple baubles, contrasting against the deep green pine leaves.
The sound of sleigh bells could he heard over the PA system, and Otoya recognised the rhythm and song, anticipating Tokiya- wait, HAYATO’s recorded voice to follow.
“kizukeba mou yuki ga sora samayou kisetsu / kimi to boku wo tsutsumi komu shiro”
Otoya’s eyes widened. Even after so long of not performing, he recognised the difference between a recorded voice and a ‘live’ voice, and he turned around, choking on a sob.
“atari wa zawameki dashita hana yaka na machi nami arukou / machi kogareteta shiny day”
Instead of his usual HAYATO garb, the older teen was dressed down, in an elegant black double-breasted jacket, dark jeans and a red checkered scarf; Otoya recognised the last item as the one he gifted Tokiya last Christmas. Tokiya had a microphone in his hand, and his voice was broadcasted in the mall, attracting everyone’s attention, but the singer’s focus was solely on Otoya.
“chotto kata wo yosete kimi ni fureru matte mahou no kotoba / mune ni shimaou yoru wa mada dakara”
Otoya sobbed again, as he ran towards his partner, hugging him tightly. Tokiya smiled and kissed him on the forehead before continuing his song.
“my baby smile, I’m holding you
ai no melody utaou itoshii kimi ni okuru rhythm
I love your smile, our Xmas to you
wasurenai yo kono tokimeki futari deaeta ima wo kawaranu eien wo~”
The whole mall broke into a cheer, and for a short, magical moment, Otoya couldn’t believe his wish came true. He had to make sure though, and, grabbing Tokiya by the scarf, he pulled the other down for a long overdue kiss. The instrumental track continued playing in the background, and the passers-by went on with their own business, leaving the two boys alone in front of the Christmas tree.
Tokiya smirked, wiping away Otoya’s tears with his thumb. “Miss me, Otoya?”
“Tokiya you idiot!” Otoya hit him in the chest, fresh tears spilling out from his eyes. “You’re gone for more than a year, of course I miss you!”
“Well, I’m back for good,” the older teen chuckled, kissing his forehead and cheeks. “The tour’s over and done with. I told Himuro-san that I’m not going to do any more of this stunts if it meant being away from my Otoya.”
“I’m not letting you go anymore. You owe me a present! And kisses!” The redhead huffed, crossing his arms as he stepped back, pouting. “And you’re not going to work until I have all of that.”
“Yes! You owe me over five hundred kisses! One for each day I missed you, Tokiya.”
“Then I better get started.”
“Himuro-san, this is HAYATO. I won’t be reporting for work until New Year’s. I will be with Otoya until then, catching up on what I missed, and perhaps persuading him to join with me again. Until then, I won’t be contactable. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.”