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Bulletproof Cupid

Chapter Text

Bulletproof Cupid

 

 

 

 

 

One.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akira Suzuki was the most famous male model in Japan.

Not only he was famous, he was one of the richest model in Asia.

He was 35 years old and worked as a model since the year of 16. He became famous posing for the most successful fashion designers and still claimed a lot of success due to his beauty, fame and personality.

What could a person ask for more? Akira literally had everything. He had money, fame, success, two giant houses in Japan and one in the USA, friends, a family who kept supporting him and...beauty.

Beauty was the most important thing in his life. Everything was about beauty. Akira took care of his body basically everyday since his teenage years. He started working out, visiting beauty saloons and health centers, hiring a personal hairdresser and makeup artist. Akira started working as occasional model because of his symmetrical face and proportionate shapely body. He's always been tall, tanned and muscled. He didn't strain too much to get noticed by a rich manager in Tokyo.

His family was completely ok with his job even if that meant leaving high school and giving up on an academic career. But Akira tried giving some time to his hobbies like reading and listening to music, even tho his career came first. His mother followed him around the world since his career started. She helped his son so much during his early years, supporting him and cheering him up during every situation. His whole family helped him going through different experiences, especially Akira's lovely sister, Azumi.

Akira could really consider himself a lucky human being. He worked so many years doing all the things he wanted to do, enjoying himself, traveling the world, meeting new people. His job was a dream and he was living his dream.

But...was Akira happy?

He was, in a sense.

He had everything.

Money. Beauty and Happiness.

He even had Love.

He was openly bisexual (everyone in the fashion industry basically was) and never hid it to the press or paparazzi. Not even to his family and to his beloved mother. He had a lot of boyfriends and different flirts with handsome men and gorgeous women. He kept living this one-night-stand life until he met her.

Taeko.

Taeko was a famous actress and model who used to pose for underwear and beachwear for famous japanese fashion houses. She was stunning, beautiful and sweet and she had the attention of all the medias, especially about his private life and his numerous boyfriends.

Taeko and Akira met when he was posing for a television spot publicizing a delicious cold drink where Taeko acted as main character in the spot. They were both beautiful, and it wasn't difficult for the two of them to break the ice and starting getting along with each other.

They dated for 6 months before announcing publicly they were a couple. They started appearing on red carpets and fashion show parties together, holding into the partner's arm. They were beautiful, like two beautiful painting hanging on the wall of a famous museum. They had everyone's attention. It was basically impossible to not notice a beautiful man and a beautiful woman arriving at the party holding hands.

Akira was deeply in love with his girlfriend. He never met someone so cute and intelligent in his whole life and felt immediately a deep connection with that person. Akira felt she was the woman of his life. He wasn't kidding when he whispered his mother he really wanted to marry her as soon as possible.Akira and Taeko married when he was 30 and she was 28. The wedding was small and private with only close friends and some relatives. Everything screamed 'fashion' that day. From the Giorgio Armani bride's dress to the table cloth signed by Louis Vuitton. Everything was fashionable and damn rich. Akira was the happiest human alive that day. He thought money could buy everything but he quickly realized that all of his money could never buy the happiness of his wedding day. He still remembers everything from that day, even his sister crying and his mother hugging all the guests staring at his son proudly.

Damn, he was damn lucky.

Not only he was living the life of his dream; he was living it with the love of his life by his side. Forever.

How could life turn out to be so good?

Akira didn't need any answers. He had everything he needed to know in his life and everything was Taeko.

But if they loved each other so much, what did it go wrong?

They moved to a big sumptuous house in Ginza, the most expensive neighborhood in Tokyo and they finally started living together as a married couple. The first months were incredible. They used to work together, attending shows and meetings together. It was a dream. Working with your lover by your side is the most pleasing sensation ever.

But all the beautiful things have a price. Akira knew it after one year.

His relationship with Taeko started falling to pieces. The pressure that japanese medias had over Taeko was harsh and serious and no one, not even the strongest person on earth, could ever hold it for too long. Neither did Taeko. The paparazzi never left the couple alone, not even for a minute. They waited for them near their house, lurked among the trees just waiting to catch something scandalous and selling everything to the major magazines. The lived their married-life under the flashes and the bitter gossips. Taeko wasn't strong enough for all of this, she couldn't hold anything anymore. Akira noticed his partner slowly changing his mood, his mental health and his daily habits. Taeko stopped eating because the social networks and the press accused her to disregard her work to live a 'married life' and called her 'fat' and 'ugly'. She had several mental breakdowns and fell slowly into depression. Akira couldn't do anything but stare at her. He tried helping her but the paparazzi and the medias never left him alone. He tried sending her to a therapist, keeping her company at night and going shopping for her but no one, no one ever left him alone.

He felt their eyes everywhere, people trying catching even the smallest details of his daily life. He felt completely useless. His wife was at home, staring at the void and crying and he felt so alone.

He loved her too much to not do anything for her health. Taeko started a long therapy with anti-depressants but it was very difficult to stay positive in a situation like this, especially for a girl like Taeko. She has always been cute and sensitive about the things around her; she studied History of Art at University and graduated with the highest votes. She loved art and she owned such a big artistic sensitivity that is so rare to find in people. Akira immediately fell for her thank to her artistic and kind attitude towards the world: Taeko always cared for everyone, she even did some charity offering money to different associations helping poor communities in South Asia. Akira felt his heart breaking when he realized how much his wife changed due to the psychologic pressure she had by the press, the media and the criticism. She was unrecognizable: she lost weight, her face started getting older and her kindness turned into an endless expression of void on her face. Depression destroyed her and her career, and destroyed Akira’s life too. He even thought about giving up on his job and future projects to stay by her side but after a while he realized it was useless. He realized he couldn’t help her, he couldn’t reach for her not even touching her anymore. The doctors told Akira his wife was suffering a personality disorder together with a major depressive disorder and sometimes she wasn’t even able to recognize her own husband. Akira suffered so much for this situation and things got worse when Taeko’s mother got interfered in their relationship. Her mother decided to protect her own daughter because – she said – Akira was too interested in keeping a good imagine in front of cameras rather than taking care of his lover. The woman decided for him: she took her daughter away from Akira and he wasn’t able to see her or call her. He was interested in knowing his wife’s mental state but it was impossible for him to do so. She tried calling her, sending her e-mails, letters or texts but she never answered. After 5 months of silence, Taeko was able to call his husband. She was slowly healing but the road was still rough and full of difficulties and pain.

They divorced after two years of marriage and Akira never felt so alone in his life. He had been founding the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, the person that understood him, listened to him and loved him and now it was all gone. His life was gone together with Taeko. She took away a little piece of Akira’s soul and after that moment he felt incomplete, vulnerable, unhappy.

Many people would say: that’s the risk of the job. Being famous means being able to accept a difficult life. But… what about Love? Wasn’t Love mean for everyone independently from their jobs, personalities and experiences? Why did this happen to Akira?

He often asked himself these questions but he never found an answer not even an explanation to his life. Everything became meaningless but he didn’t give up on his job.

He kept shooting, posing for the most famous designers and became richer and loner. His attitude changed too, he found himself being very annoying, easily getting irritated, talking less and spending a lot of time at parties drinking and crying.

He just accepted what his life was giving him.

Was he happy now?

No he wasn’t. he wasn’t sad neither. He was just a machine: waking up early in the morning, working out, traveling the world, smiling falsely, not giving too much attention to people and especially never trusting anyone, not even his shadow.

Now Akira was 35, with an healthy life style, two giant houses in Japan (the house in the USA had been assigned to her ex-wife), a successful job, a beautiful face and body and a rough past.

He even adopted a cute huge male Labrador and named him ‘Sid Vicious’ in honor to his favorite musician and bassist.

Sid changed his life to the best: Akira spent all of his free time with his cute lovely dog and loved traveling to the seaside walking with his best non-human friend all night long talking to him and falling asleep to his side.

Nothing could ever separate them.

 

Chapter Text

Two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 months later.

 

 

Akira woke up tired that day. He didn't sleep well and he had a strong headache that was turning his mood into something very negative. He decided to go making a coffee to try cheering himself up.

While the coffee was boiling, Akira prepared food and water for his dog, paying attention to not giving too many things to eat to his pet. Sid gained weight in the last month and Akira noticed it was difficult to lift the cute dog up in his arms: Sid was getting bigger and bigger and it seemed yesterday when Akira adopted him and he was small and tiny with big eyes staring around when he first saw his owner's house. Akira smiled thinking about it.

“Sid come here! Breakfast is ready”

A small bark came from the hallway and then a giant living puppet appeared in the kitchen moving his tail happily.

“Hi doggo! How was your sleep? I hope it was better than mine” Akira whispered caressing his dog's head and nose. The big dog jumped on Akira's body happily shaking his tail energetically and taking his long tongue out. Akira smiled and let him kissing his cheek.

“Down down baby, your dad needs to take his coffee first!”

Sid smiled and ate his breakfast peacefully. Akira instead drank his coffee eating some protein-made biscuits and thinking about what's coming next. He had tons of things to do: replying to a lot of mails, having an interview at the telephone with a stylist and buying a new pair of shoes. He looked at the source of his smiles drinking water and jumping around the room and decided to leave all his thoughts out, at least in the morning.

He got dressed quickly and spent some minutes taking care of his skin and body. Skincare and training are the most important thing for a model like him and he couldn't ignore any part of it. Being beautiful is harder than it seems.

Akira took the long leash with him and went to open the door; immediately the big dog followed him and started barking loudly and happily. The pair went out in the cold breeze of November; Akira was cold both outside and inside but tried cheering his mood up. Spending time with his pet always made him feel better and, in a sense, happier. He felt a different kind of love, a different kind of affection when he was with Sid. The dog was so caring and lovely towards him: he waits for him in the living room when he comes back from work and spends the nights sitting on the floor next to his bed. He never owned a dog before him and he realized that adopting Sid has been the best decision he's ever made in his life.

They went to the park next his house. Akira sat on a bench and took the leash off so Sid could run around and jumping freely. The blonde model decided to replying some mails with his iPhone praying God that no one asked him to do an extra-job during the week. He was so tired he just needed to relax, buying new books and enjoying his staying at home. Working in the fashion industry is so satisfying yet stressing: you are always surrounded by people, voices, eyes and hands and it's impossible to think about your own privacy and mental health. People always expect the best from you, no matter if you are sick, sad, irritated, depressed. No one cares if you are not ok. All that matters is money and power. Akira was done with this job but he had to keep going mostly because his mother wanted him to. His mother was such a caring woman, he loved his son and protected him all the time, but she was also interested in his son's fame. She wanted the best for him and the best for him was money and notoriety.

Akira didn't agree much, especially after all the things that happened after his marriage. But he didn't want to disappoint his mother, the only woman who ever loved him and never abandoned him. He was very stressed about everything and seemed like life wasn't that great anymore.

He slowly noticed he became another person: always moody, bored, annoyed and sometimes even unkind and spiteful.

The only ray of light in his life was his dog. He owes him his life.

“Sid! Come here babe! Let's play!” Akira shouted shaking a small red ball in his hands.

The dog run so fast he almost fell on the grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

 

 

5.5pm

 

 

The day has been long and tiring and all he wanted to do was just sitting in a coffee bar and enjoying a hot tea.

Akira decided to walk in the center of Ginza to clean his thoughts and relaxing his mind. He left Sid at home sleeping on his couch and spent the day at the phone answering different job requests. He decided in the end to go for a new perfume spot. The manager told him that the spot must be ready before the Christmas holiday season and that meant that since next week he had to start with the recording together with the staff and other models.

He smoked a cigarette trying hiding himself from the people who could recognize him and bothering him. He stopped in a blind alley next to a commercial center enjoying the smell of tobacco and nicotine. He crushed the remains of the cigarette under his shoe. He breathed out a little cloud of smoke and cold air and decided to keep walking and finding a warm coffee to spend the rest of the afternoon.

After walking for about thirty minutes he saw a small Starbucks signboard in a side road and got close to the shop. He decided to come in and staring at the room. It wasn't much crowded. There were some business men around a big table talking about economy and job-related stuff. Some other people, probably college students, was sitting on two armchairs reading heavy books and in the rest of the room there were only lone persons taking a solitary seat.

He ordered a giant black tea with no sugar and took a seat on a small desk with high stools on the first floor. From that point of view he could see a small panorama of Ginza and the sparkling shops banners. He looked at his phone checking the time and the chats. The tea in his hands was very hot and the feeling in his palms was peaceful.

He decided to switch off his mind for a while putting his phone on the airplane mode and blocking the screen. He stared at the window in front of him. Then he realized someone was looking at him, or maybe that's what it seemed. He turned his eyes on the seats on the right. Four seats off him there was a small guy sitting on the high tools drinking an hot coffee who wore big black sunglasses and a black hat made of wool. Akira had the feeling that probably the guy was staring at him and he changed his position before Akira caught him paying attention. The situation was a little bit awkward since Akira knew that it was very easy to recognize him in every public place he sat foot in, but that guy seemed not so surprised.

He was wearing sunglasses though it was almost dark outside cause the belated autumn day was getting shorter and shorter and this seemed so funny to Akira. Famous people tend to hide themselves wearing sunglasses and white mask and casual clothes when they go shopping, but this time Akira didn't wear any of these things. Instead, the awkward guy was wearing a very casual outfit like he was trying hiding from the paparazzi. Was he a famous personality too? Probably.

Tokyo is so crowded of famous people, it's not rare to recognize some actors or tv showmen and women.

Akira then decided he didn't care at all. He finished his hot tea and decided to leave and going home as soon as possible.

He missed Sid terribly.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Aki! How ya doing buddy?

“Yutaka! I'm fine but i'm currently at work I can't talk now”

No worry...can you catch me up at 8pm today?”

“No problem, I think I will be free in a few hours...see you tonight then!”

Akira hung up putting his iPhone on the table of the office of the photographic studio. He heard some people talking loudly from the other room. He was so tired of his working day. He started recording the spot for a new perfume by a famous fashion brand and it's not exaggerating saying that Akira and the other models recorded the same scene at least forty times and the day hasn't finished yet. It was almost lunch time and Akira decided to walk away from the crew and trying finding time for himself. He couldn't wait for the night coming. Yutaka was one of his closest friends. When you are famous, it's difficult to find someone to trust and to spend time with. Most of the time people in the fashion industry want to use your fame and your body. It's all about sex and money, nothing more. Akira met a lot of interesting persons but also a lot of hypocrites. Most of the interesting persons he met it turned out they were suffering in the same way Akira was. It wasn't that easy for them neither. For the hypocrites there's nothing Akira had to say. You can recognize them. They act like they are your friends, they love you and care about you but it takes only a little move to disappear forever and act like nothing ever happened. Akira learned in the years that it's not important having a lot of friends in fashion. Only a few people cared about him and that was enough.

Yutaka was one of those people.

They met during a famous artist opening in a Art Museum in Tokyo. Yutaka was a football player, one of the best of his kind. He was there to accompany his brother, a famous painter and a close friend of the main artist. Akira was there for business. His manager proposed him to shoot in the museum for a new campaign and he accepted. He was very annoyed that day that he was about to leave without even showing himself for the photos. Yutaka noticed him and introduced himself.

Since that day they started a very good friendship and Akira considered the football player one of his best friends. Yutaka had a different life style but he always cared for Akira, he tried understanding him, cheering him up. He's always found time to spend with his friend especially after what happened in his private life. Yutaka protected Akira from the media when paparazzi stalked him and ruined his life and health. That's what it should be called a 'friend'.

“Akira?! We are shooting in 2 minutes!” someone shouted from the door.

He sighed trying relaxing his chest.

He looked for a moment at his own reflection in the mirror hanged on the wall of the dressing room. He found his face handsome; he was handsome. His hair was dyed blonde, not too short, long enough to cover his neck and decorate his beautiful face. His eyes were deep brown and mysterious, his lips big and perfectly shaped. His nose had gentle curves like the shape of his face. Akira was the most beautiful model in the room in that moment.

He came back in the studio's main room together with the others.

Some makeup artists corrected his facial makeup adding some foundations on his cheeks and on his chin. He smiled at one of the girls adjusting his eyebrows and she blushed immediately putting her eyes down staring at the floor. Akira smiled to himself.

He was 35 but he could still consider himself an attractive person. What he learned from life was that having an attractive body doesn't mean anything when you don't own an attractive heart. And that's the hardest part.

The shooting went by faster that expected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Akira left the studio it was around 6.30 pm and since he was very early for his appointment with Yutaka, he decided to go back to the small Starbucks coffee where he stayed two days ago.

He walked fast because he was very cold and tired. He needed to go inside a shop because he was shivering and he felt inside that he had to rest a little bit in a small warm place. The Starbucks bar he found some days ago was the perfect place to have a break without being recognized by people. Akira was wearing a white mask on his face that day, but he still feared the curiosity of people, especially after all the things that happened to him.

Akira came in the shop and stopped for some seconds appreciating the warm atmosphere passing through his whole body making his shudders weakening. It felt so good being inside that little bar. He looked around in the area and he surprisingly found it half empty. Probably the only reason this Starbucks wasn't that crowded was that it was difficult to notice from the main road; surely most of people didn't even know about the existence of this place and that explained why the atmosphere was so peaceful. The blonde model didn't hesitate and went straightforward to order a big cappuccino with heavy cream on top.

He knew that he couldn't let himself taking too much sugar for his body, but he also knew how to control himself. Akira loved smoking, eating sugar, drinking alcohol, but he never went in troubles for this. His manager trusted him enough to not check on him during his off days and that was relieving. He took care of his body and skin constantly, he didn't even look half of his age. Akira knew too well he was damn beautiful that sometimes he forgot about that. He was still surprised, after all these years, that someone could stare at him for minutes or blushing when crossing his look.

He checked the time on his phone and noticed that he was getting late. He decided to drink his cappuccino outside while walking to meet Yutaka.

Before coming out of the shop, Akira's eyes fell on a small figure, sitting on a table near the wall. He immediately recognized the same guy from two days ago. He wore the same big black sunglasses and the same wool hat. He was drinking a coffee from a small paper-glass and eating two chocolate cookies. He was chewing concentrating on something, probably something important, since the guy was sitting in the front direction of Akira but he seemed not to care about a tall blonde model wearing expensive Giorgio Armani's shoes and passing next to him.

Akira felt a little bit offended and he didn't know why.

He was so famous that, no matter where he went, people were always able to recognize him. But this didn't seem the right case.

He left the shop cleaning his mind and reaching out for the nearest underground stop.

He arrived even early at the appointment. He decided to just keep walking around the square to not feel the cold on his skin. After some minutes Yutaka came running.

“Hi buddy! How are you? Sorry I'm a little bit late but I had tons of things to do” said Yutaka, his breathings getting softer and softer.

“No problem! I came here early because I'm always afraid the traffic is gonna be a problem. Today is my lucky day though.” Akira answered hugging his best friend.

They started talking about their day walking towards a famous rich french restaurant near the Ginza station. Only the best for two famous people like them.

“I feel like you are doing good brother, you seem relaxed” Yutaka said.

The pair sat down on a small table near the big windows of the room. Yutaka immediately took a look at the menu passing his eyes quickly up and down searching for something good to eat.

“Do you like french cuisine?” Yutaka asked.

“Yeah, I've been in Paris for like two years when I was 26. Then I came back again with Tae-” Akira paused.

“With her, you know...”

Yutaka posed the menu on the table looking at this friend.

“Aki, you should take it easier now. Remember what I've been telling you for all these months. She wasn't the right person for you. You should get over it. You did nothing wrong”

Akira smiled bitterly looking down at his own palms.

He was still suffering from all the things that happened; he couldn't help it.

His mother, his sister and Yutaka too told him the same fucking phrases

 

Get over it

 

It's not your fault

 

Life goes on

 

Deep down inside his soul, he knew they were all right. But at the same time he felt like he lost something forever that couldn't be found again. He had the same feeling of a little boy crying because his toy broke irreparably. Something broke inside Akira and no one – nothing – could ever fix it again.

He tried going on with his life but he felt like he could never trust someone new ever again.

Why was life so tough? Why him? Why? Why?

“I know Yutaka. Thank you for your patience. I promise I will be better”

Akira then stopped talking for a while: he listened to Yutaka telling some funny stories about the last football match. His team won but they didn't play well and Yutaka wasn't satisfied.

They laughed in front of two tasty soupe à l'oignon drinking a sweet wine.

Meanwhile, outside the restaurant, the snow started falling.

 

Chapter Text

Four.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akira woke with a strong headache and a deep feeling of going to the toilet and throwing up all the shit he put inside his body last night. He couldn't remember very well what happened.

He closed his eyes for a couple of seconds and saw flashing lights and heard noises.

He suddenly remembered he was invited to an after party and he started drinking before midnight during the djset. There was a lot of drug. He remembered he tried something very strong some girls gave him during the party. Not only he did drink a lot, but he also blowed the white dust posed on the table. It's not surprising that he felt like shit. He tried something very strong mixed with alcohol and a lack of sleep and that's why he couldn't remember basically anything.

He met probably someone at the party and they ended up kissing in the restroom. That explains the strange smell he felt on his skin. A foreign smell, extraneous, unrelated.

Akira went straightforward to the wc and threw up. Some lonely tears started falling down his cheeks and he felt like his head was about to explode.

Then, he stood up and took a look in the mirror. His eyes were red and swollen, his lips were dry and his blonde hair messy. He didn't feel ok at all. He decided to wash his mouth and his face before crying again.

When Akira got in the bedroom he realized he wasn't home. He was somewhere else. It was an hotel room and someone was sleeping supine on the bed. It was a boy, a beautiful blonde model, surely european.

Now he remembered everything. He thought about continuing the night with the overseas model and they ended up in a fancy hotel with red walls decorated with modern art paintings. The floor was soft. Akira took advantage of the fact the model was deeply sleeping.

He got dressed then picked up all of his belongings and opened the door.

“Where ya goin'?” someone whispered in the back. The japanese accent was very funny.

Akira turned around.

“I'm leaving” he replied and opened the door again.

The overseas model reached for him before he went out and took Akira's hand in his.

“Why so early? I like did you yesterday night. I haded fun. Want to see you again”

The natural blonde model was talking gently, the grammar wasn't really correct but Akira understood.

“I have to go” Akira replied again, talking slowly so the other could understand.

The european model reached Akira's lips kissing them slowly. They looked in each other's eyes for a while.

Akira could still feel the horrible taste of vomit inside his mouth, even after washing his teeth twice.

He felt his head spinning so he had to sit down on the bed for a moment.

He was so tired, tired of everything. He was tired of people, of their promises, of their words. He was tired of these one-night-stand life. After Taeko, Akira wasn't able anymore to find someone interesting, attractive. He could't even feel curious about someone.

He felt like he did something wrong, like a child hiding something broken behind his back.

He shouldn't be here. He shouldn't.

He felt the impulse to run away looking at the foreign model in his blue eyes.

His look was talking for himself: he was too sad to care about something.

“I apologize” confessed Akira and left the room.

He walked fast questioning what he did in his life to deserve this deep suffering. He felt like he had to suffer all of this. Is this the price to pay when you are beautiful and powerful? Is it ok to suffer when you have everything? It seems like famous people aren't allowed to suffer, to cry or to feel tired. Akira wasn't only tired.

He felt like he was constantly bringing a weight with him; that weight was heavy on his mind, heart, soul. He couldn't accept the fact that the love of his life was gone. How can you smile again after life gave you the most precious thing in life then took it away from you?

Religious people say that only in hell people suffer. Akira wasn't sure at all. The earth is the real pain. Reality is suffering, not hell. He was living in his own painful reality.

He ran home feeling his stomach twisting in his body and his head spinning so fast he was afraid to fall on the pavement. It was nearly midday, he was tired, hungry and sad. His iPhone was unloaded and he couldn't answer the calls or the messages. Surely his mother and his manager called him a lot this morning.

He finally arrived sighing to let the air leaving his nose; then opened the door. Something big and hairy immediately jumped on Akira's chest making him falling on the floor. Akira was about to cry when he saw his big dog licking and kissing his face.

Sid was trying telling him “Ehi dad, I miss u a lot!!

Akira smiled to himself.

Then decided to take some hours to work out. He didn't want to meet people, so he preferred to not go to the gym and stayed home.

He took a little mat, two dumbbells, one kettlebell. He put on some rock music to distract himself and washing away the bad memories.

He, non only, had a little private gym in his big house but also a big bathtub, or better, two big bathtubs. One of them was an hydromassage bathtub and was larger than a three-seats sofa. The two restrooms were big enough for five people to stay inside comfortably.

The kitchen was enormous with a big tables and comfort seats. The living room was the best part of the house: there was a giant lcd television, two huge amplifiers and three DVD player. There was also a modern fireplace decorated in white marble. The two sofas where so big that probably someone could lie down on them and sleep easily.

Then there was two big bedrooms: one of them was used for the guests who came visiting Akira and Taeko years ago. In the guests room, Taeko used to hang the wall all of his paintings; now the room was empty with only two lamps, white empty bed and a grey carpet. Taeko loved painting and drawing, she was a sensitive soul, an artistic one. Akira loved that side of her.

The house had also two small rooms where Akira decided to put a big dog's bed for his non-human best friend; there was also a cute elegant garden around the building where flowers grew up flourishing.

Akira felt so alone in his house, probably because the building was too big for a single human being or maybe because he missed his ex-wife deeply.

When he stopped working out he took a shower then finally switched on his phone.

He missed three calls from his manager and one from his mom.

He decided he didn't care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was afternoon.

The sun was already going down. It was the 23rd of November and that meant that the days where short and the nights were longer and longer. Winter time is the most interesting period of the year. It's very dark, cold and mysterious but paradoxically the cities are decorated with lights, neon and christmas decorations. The days are shorter but people walked outside the most to meet friends or buying gifts. It seemed like winter was a terrifying monster who comes only once in a year to scare people, and the only way to attack him is to decorate the town with lights, colors and sounds.

That's what Akira thought when he was a baby. He thought that every single season was a different creature: winter was a monster, spring was a fairy, summer was a fire-superhero and autumn was a beautiful lady. He also thought that grey days were the most interesting because you could decorated them as you want. Grey is the best color, because you can cover it as you like. Akira loved grey. He loved winter days too.

He went out in the Ginza district and found himself walking in the main street he knew too well. After ten minutes of walking, on a left side road, there's the small Starbucks coffee.

Akira immediately knew how to spend the afternoon.

His footsteps were faster and faster like he was about to miss the train in the station. He reached the place breathless. Was he running? Why?

He came in, and ordered immediately a Venti Flat White with no sugar. He took a look around.

In the smallest table of the room was sitting the mysterious guy wearing sunglasses, he didn't wear the hat today. The guy was looking at one point in front of him he seems concentrated; he was listening to some music from his iPhone with earplugs drinking a coffee. Akira noticed there was an available front seat in the table next to the one where the guy with black sunglasses was sitting.

He couldn't explain why, but he decided he had to go sitting in that seat.

He reached the table and started getting undressed of his long coat and scarf. He posed all his belongings on the table together with his iPhone and keys. He finally sat down staring inexplicably at the mysterious guy. He couldn't really tell why he was so fascinated, he just couldn't stop looking at him; he just payed attention to not being captured by the other man. He looked at his coffee, casually taking a look on the right side of the table, looking at the wall occasionally.

The boy was surely smaller than Akira, he was shorter and very thin. He was wearing a big pair of black sunglasses, a beige elegant sweater and black jeans. The shoes were sporty and casual but very expensive. His hands were small, manicured without nailpolish but very pretty: the arch of his nails was perfectly rounded. His hands were holding a giant mug of coffee rubbing the hot surface to warm his body. Akira couldn't tell if his face was pleasing or not, because the sunglasses covered half of his face. He noticed the boy had a very pretty nose and pretty pink lips. From the seat where he was, he could even notice a small mole on his chin.

It was so strange. The boy seemed to be very beautiful and probably interesting (Akira could tell since the mysterious guy probably lived in the Ginza district so he could surely be an important person), but why was he alone sitting on a cafeteria basically every afternoon?

This seemed so strange to Akira that for a moment he thought the guy could had been waiting for someone. He didn't think about this possibility. Probably the guy is waiting for his girlfriend or one of the girl who worked in the bar, who knows.

His thoughts were so deep that Akira didn't notice his elbow was hitting the top of his cup and accidentally the cup fell on the table pouring over the drink. Akira jumped on his seat surprised and immediately apologized with the mysterious guy for the inconvenience.

“I'm so sorry, I must be tired and that happens when you are sleep deprived” Akira spoke softly to the guy.

The other person couldn't hear him, probably for the high volume music he was listening to and he didn't even turn his head on his right to look at what was happening.

One costumer reached Akira's table helping him cleaning the surface and the floor covered in milk. Akira felt so stupid he found himself blushing for the misadventure. He cleaned his jumper and went straight to the restroom to check if everything was ok. He came back to his table and sat down again.

The strangest thing was that the boy, not only didn't hear him or replied something, he didn't even paid attention to him, not even for a second. He seemed so comfortable with his coffee and his music that he was really not interested in what's going on in the world and on the planet he was living in.

Akira did a mop disgusted. He immediately understood what kind of people that guy could be: a snobbish, probably a rich boy raised in a rich family, an intellectual who thinks he is on a higher level than the other persons. The blonde model felt a strange feelings inside his guts, like someone punched him in the stomach. That's why the guy never gave Akira a single look since the first day he saw him. He probably is a famous politician's son or something similar. Akira hated that people, that elite of corrupted persons. Not only the boy with sunglasses was a spoiled person, he was rude too because he didn't even try helping Akira with his 'incident'.

Why are people like this?

Rude people are the worst – thought Akira.

He finished his coffee trying not to look too nervous and trying ignoring the person on the table on his right. It was difficult but he succeeded.

 

Chapter Text

Five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Suzuki? Are you ready?” a male voice shouted from the other room.

Akira was sitting in the dressing room in front of a large mirror where some makeup artists and hairstylist were trying giving him the best look of the night. His face was less tired than it looked like the other days; still Akira felt very bored and stressed.

He didn't sleep the last night and he felt like giving up everything, standing up from the chair and leaving. Thank god today there was one of his closest friend, a famous and talented makeup artist. Yuu was a long time friend of Akira and also his favorite makeup artist. They got along so well, Akira got to call him every time he needed makeup on his face. Yuu was a good person, he was older than Akira, had black shiny long hair and his nails eternally painted black. Yuu loved jewerly and he did wear them every day: seven rings in total per hand, tons of necklaces and an extreme number of bracelets who kept jingling with every move he made. Akira thought Yuu was very beautiful, with pretty facial features, plump lips and sweet eyes. Not only he was beautiful, Yuu was very kindhearted: he was next to Akira's side when he needed support the most. Yuu knew too well how things go in the fashion industry. He met a lot of famous people and heard many stories that he could write a book or maybe a guide “how to be famous and not going crazy” since he heard of many models ruining their own life because they couldn't have a decent life like normal people do.

Akira always felt home when he was with Yuu. Everything seemed funnier and easier.

Even today, the fashion show that was about to start didn't seem to stressing to Akira, probably because Yuu was with him.

Akira hated spending hours and hours talking with unknown faces, beautiful foreigners faces who kept talking to him in english, telling fake compliments and making stupid jokes. Akira could easily tell how fake people were around him: their faces spoke for them. Their fake emotions, fake smiles, fake words.

Fake.

Fake.

Fake.

Before Akira's head started spinning, he decided to close his eyes and came back to reality. 
He opened his eyes doing deep sighs. 

Yuu finished his work on Akira's beautiful face adjusting his brows and his cheeks with professional products. Akira watched himself in the mirror's reflection and smiled.

“Done, you are perfect. As usual” Yuu confirmed putting his brushes in his big beauty case.

Akira stood up from the chair and went to Yuu, hugging him tightly. The makeup artist hugged him back caressing his back.

“I may be very beautiful, but you are the best makeup artist in the world. Thank you Yuu, I love you” Akira whispered slowly.

“You are modest and a little bit of a pander, but I love you too Aki”

They both laughed until someone entered in the room interrupting the two friends.

“Akira it's time!” a male photographer announced the beginning of today fashion show.

Akira was a little bit nervous. The stylist asked him to perform on the runaway at the end of the show and that meant that Akira had to close the show and that meant that everyone in the crowd had to wait for him till the end. That made him even more nervous. He was so famous that everyone told him to perform as latest. His mom would be so proud of his son.

Akira smiled bitterly.

He went to the backstage waiting in silence and drinking a soft-flavored cocktail. His head was spinning so fast that he could feel the veins of his brain pulsating at every beat of his heart.

A girl reached for him minutes later.

“Hi Aki-chan, how are you?”

The girl was a famous 30 years old model. Her name was Itsuko. She was gorgeous, obviously. Akira met her so many times during fashion shows that he could consider her his life-time colleague. Akira didn't lie when he told Yuu that Itsuko had a crush on him since the first time they met. They met way years before than Akira met with Taeko. They've always been good friends, but the girl became infatuated with him immediately. She was very envious of Taeko and she never spoke to her. When she knew about Akira's divorce she tried appearing sad or sorry for him but she failed, at least for Akira's eyes. She was cute and friendly, but Akira never liked her in that way.

They used to end up in some pubs together drinking and making out in some hotel's room when they were younger but Akira never felt something for her.

She never gave up on him and tried to get near him, especially in the last months.

“Hi Itsuko, I'm ok. I'm chilling and drinking this horrible cocktail and I pretend it's very tasty but it's not” Akira answered trying sounding as nice as he could.

“You are a liar. A beautiful liar. But a liar. You seem so nervous that it's worrying me.” she confessed. She reached his drinking taking the fine glass from his hands. “I'm gonna help you with something” she continued.

“Stop it Itsuko. I'm done with that shit. I hate drugs” Akira was getting annoying.

“See? You are a liar” she didn't mind and she took two white pills from her small bag and spilled them in the cocktail, blending all together with the straw.

“Drink, Akira. You'll feel better” she said kissing his cheek.

He tried turning her away.

“Have fun tonight Itsuko.” Akira's voice was low and toneless. He drunk the cocktail, not leaving one single drop in the glass. He then left the glass in Itsuko's hand.

“Have fun Akira,
I love you” she said staring at the floor.

But no one heard her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Azumi? What do you want?” Akira screamed at the phone. He was so irritated today.

Good afternoon to you too Aki-chan. You are always so rude towards your sister.” Azumi spoke sarcastically.

“It's not me. It's you who call me in the wrong moments. Anyway I'm fine, I had a fashion show last night. I want to rest a little bit.”

Ok no need to shout in my ears. I was just worried because I saw some videos from last night and you seemed so upset. You deserve to leave the stress out of your life. That's it.” her feminine voice was tender and calm.

“No! That's not it! You know what? I'm fucking tired of all of this. I'm fucking tired of all of you! Leave me alone Azumi, please. Tell mom I just need to stay on my own for at least one week. See you...”

Aki pleas-

Akira didn't let his sister speaking and closed the call flapping his phone on his bed. The small metallic rectangle bounced on the white surface.

Fuck.

He thought, while going to the bathroom to take a shower. He took it slowly and easily.

He was tired of his life. He was tired of himself. He thought he could go on and move on with his career but no. Nothing and no one could give him back all the things he lost.
He had too many mental breakdowns lately and all his mother could say in those situations was 'It will be ok, just rest a little bit'.

He was even tired of sleeping.

Tired of being alive.
Is maybe this called 'depression'?

Akira felt like 'depression' was way too reductive to describe his mental state.

The shower got longer than expected. He stood under the hot water until his muscles got loose.

He went to the bedroom walking naked around his house. Little drops of water falling from his hair fell on the floor.

He got dressed in the most casual way. He didn't even styled his hair. He dressed simply with a shirt, blue jeans and a big jumper. He took his long coat and the pack of cigarettes and left his apartment.

He knew exactly where he wanted to go.

It took him only 15 minutes by walking to stand in front of the main entrance of the small hidden Starbucks bar.

He came in and he was basically running hurried like something was waiting for him.

He forgot today was Saturday and the place was, unfortunately, crowded. He waited in the line patiently.

When it was his turn he ordered a giant mug of coffee with a slice of carrot cake, his favorite cake. He paid and then turned around to look for a free seat.

There wasn't.

So he went upstairs.

The only available seats were the ones facing the glass windows with high tables and high stools.

One seat was occupied by that guy Akira immediately recognized as the 'mysterious sunglasses guy'.

He didn't even blink and went straightforward in that direction.

“Excuse me sir, is this seat taken?” he asked clearing his voice.

The mysterious boy replied. “No, it's free.”

His voice electroshocked Akira for some seconds. He never heard a voice like that in all his life.

It was....deep and warm. Like a soft blanket.

Akira sat down posing the mug and the plate on the table. From that position he could see Ginza and the beautiful city lights.

“I apologize for sitting here but the place today is really crowded” the blonde model asserted trying a taste of the cake.

“No problem! The bar is very crowded indeed, that's why I chose to sit here” the guy answered in a soft tone; his voice was like salted caramel.

“Well, nice choice. You can see this amazing panorama.”

“Yeah it's beautiful” the guy answered drinking his hot tea. He didn't mind taking his sunglasses off.

Akira was getting more comfortable with the idea that probably the guy was a famous persona. His clothes were very modest but the best quality. He seemed spoiled and mean in a sense, but his voice was very cool.

“Do you come here often?” Akira asked, drinking his hot american coffee.

“Yes” the other said. “I come here basically everyday.”

The guy's voice seemed so sexy yet so soft and sweet. Akira felt like he was tasting a delicious drink for the first time in his life. That voice was like drinking the most delicious thing in the world. Caramel, orange, dark chocolate.

How can a voice be so addicting?

Akira couldn't stop asking questions, just because he wanted to hear the man talking.

“Cool! I like this place because is quiet and nice and very warm. I feel like hiding in a safe place every time I come here”

Silence.

The blonde felt a bit awkward. Did he say something unkind?

“I've never seen it in this way. It's interesting. It seems like your work doesn't satisfy you completely...” the sunglasses-guy murmured.

“What? Ehm...Yeah. I mean, not really” Akira didn't know what to say.

“I take it as a 'yes'. Definitely”

The man laughed and Akira felt like his heart was lighter. He felt his veins pumping blood in his body.

Akira laughed too.

“Are you a sort of mind-reader? Or a psychologist?” Akira asked.

He turned his head to the right to admire the man.
That man was beautiful. He had black wavy hair and soft pale skin. His hair was long but not so much; they were just caressing his shoulders. He seemed so petite compared to Akira. His whole body was small. He reminded Akira of a girl in a way, probably because of the way he moved his head and the size of his body, but his voice was very mainly and deep.

Oh, and his gestures too.

The mysterious man used to move a lot his hands while talking: his hands appeared like small butterflies doing a sensual dance for the people to see. It was like the mysterious guy was communicating with his own hands more than he did with his mouth.

It was so fascinating.

“I wish I was.” the man replied touching his black hair with a finger.

Akira listened to the tone of his voice. It seemed...sad. He couldn't get why the man seemed to be lost in his own thoughts.

The blonde model observed the man's face more accurately: his cheeks were rounded and chubby and his nose was big with a curved shape that looked perfectly on his face. His facial features weren't so cute if you stared at them individually, but in the whole he was beautiful. His nose was big but looked so pretty on him. And his lips looked like they were painted or sculptured. They were pink and plumped; a perfect decoration for his shy hidden smiles.

“I love the winter panorama in Ginza”

Akira whispered in a low voice.

The other man took a sip of his tea.

“Yes...it's stunning”

He didn't seem very chatty but at the same time Akira felt like he could tell the stranger everything. He could even talk with him about his most hidden and twisted secrets.

That's so awkward.

Akira kept eating his carrot cake and drinking his coffee. He looked at the panorama from the windows but sometimes tried giving a look to the man sitting next to him. He tried to not look too creepy but it was very difficult to move his own eyes from his persona. 

"I think I am hungry" said the black-haired man. He was about to stand up, probably to go downstairs getting something to eat. Akira interrupted him.

"Do you mind If I offer you something? I think I'm hungry too. I just ate a slice of cake but I feel like my stomach needs more sugars today. I will buy something for both of us, Do you mind....ehm-?"

"Takanori, I'm Takanori"

"Do you mind, Takanori, If I ruin my own diet buying two extra slices of cake?" Akira asked with a funny voice.
The other man laughed, consenting and placing his sunglasses on his nose. Akira smiled back.

Outside it started snowing. The snowflakes fell delicately on the roofs of the high buildings of Ginza. 
The snow and the sky seemed brighter today. 

 

Chapter Text

Six.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The working day seemed endless.

Akira wan't tired or stressed. He was just...bored. He wanted to go home and playing with his lovely Sid.

He deeply missed his big doggo. Sid always seemed so happy to be alive, something that Akira couldn't relate. He could not deny that spending time with his dog made him feel better. His dog was the most precious thing he had in his life. He was part of his family, in fact he decided to buy Sid a small dog-house to play and sleep in the garden outside his huge villa.

Every time Akira felt sad, he immediately thought about his dog waiting for him at home and everything turned out to be brighter and easier.

Adopting Sid had been the best decision of his life.

Akira that day was posing for a long shoot for a autumn/winter campaign. The clothes he was wearing were from a luxurious male fashion brand. He was stunning, obviously. He was wearing an elegant business suit, a black one, with black leather gloves and elegant leather shoes. The room where the shoot took place was covered in mirrors and white panels to reflect the lights. Akira could watch himself in the mirrors: all he could see was a tall blonde man, with a symmetric face and a perfect structured body. He was the older model in the room; still he was the sexiest and the most comfortable in front of cameras. His mother was right when she told him once: “Aki, you were born to be a model”

He wasn't so sure. Or better. He knew his beauty was very powerful, but he felt like his personality couldn't fit in the fashion world. He was way too sensitive, too caring and kind to be part of this industry. What could it happen if he wasn't that beautiful?

Probably he ended up living a different life; with different friends, different colleagues and, probably, a different love.

Yutaka used to tell him (very often indeed) the same line “Akira, you have two flaws: you are too beautiful and you think too much. Just reduce one of them”

And he was damn right.

Akira was too beautiful to pretend he wasn't.

And mostly: he had the bad habit of thinking too much, in any situation.

Surely he could not do something to be less beautiful, but to think less...well he could try at least. Maybe everything could turn out to be easier. Maybe life isn't that difficult.

Akira took a look around.

The other models felt a little bit intimidated by his presence, probably because Akira was very famous and of course working with such a famous persona must be very terryfing.

Akira sill remembers all the emotions he felt the first time he met the most famous fashion designers. He felt dumb and uncomfortable but in less than some months he became the muse of many of them. Taeko was the favorite muse of Kenzo, a famous Japanese brand.

Akira still remembers Taeko's runaways during the fashion shows: she was the most elegant and gorgeous woman of Japan.

He felt a strange feeling in his heart, thinking about the ex wife. It's like remembering a vivid dream all of a sudden the day after. He felt like he dreamed his whole life, and now he was living in the painful reality.

“Done!”

The photographer shouted to the staff.

“10 minutes break!”

Akira relaxed from holding the same pose for at least one hour straight. He smiled to the male model next to him. He was korean and had big eyes and a beautiful white smile.

“It was a pleasure to work with you Suzuki” the model whispered shyly.

The blonde man showed a thumb up and smiled.

“It's my pleasure to work with younger models as talented as you are”

Akira decided to have a cigarette and went in another room.

He opened the window and lighted the nicotine stick. After some seconds Akira's manager came in.

“Mr Nakamura!”

“Suzuki! Sorry If I interrupted your break. I just completed your work schedule for the next week. I sent you an email with all the appointments. I hope it won't turn out to be too stressing for you.”

Akira inhaled a deep cigarette shot.

“It's funny because it seems like you care about my mental health more than my mother do. She could take your position and becoming my new manager instead. Anyway...thank you Nakamura. I will do my best.”

Nakamura winked to Akira and left a small slap on his shoulder.

Akira decided to remain for a while on the balcony of the building finishing his cigarette. He took his iPhone and opened the gallery searching for his favorite folder. >MY LIFE DOGGO<  He then opened the folder scrolling down the album to look at the photos of his huge pet. There were pictures of Sid at the seaside taking a bath in the water, pictures of Akira and Sid in a park completely covered in sweat, pictures of Sid for his 3rd birthday and so on.

Akira's heart almost broke in tiny little pieces thinking about him and how much important Sid is for him. He owes him his whole life and he wasn't lying when he thought that Sid saved his life so many times. Humans can be so fragile sometimes. Animals, especially dogs, are probably a sign of strength, something a person can rely on when going through the darkest times of life.

He was so lucky to have Sid by his side.

Not only Sid of course. Akira must admit a lot of people cared for him, for his health and for his life. His mother, his sister and his friends too. He was lucky, in a sense. So...why did he always feel like something was missing? Like something was going wrong.

Like something wasn't in its right place.

Akira realized he was doing it again.

Thinking too much, dreaming too much, reflecting too much.

He should stop from now on. His mind became his worst enemy.

How could a man be able to get rid of his mind? Probably doing something crazy and completely senseless.

And Akira knew it immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If someones asked Akira what he was doing lately in his life he could probably answer something like 'I love spending my free time in a Starbucks. The same small hidden Starbucks' and the person could legitimately think that Akira was getting older or crazy.

Probably both things are true.

Akira was 35 now, he was a mature man and he was probably getting inclined in doing crazy stuff. He could never explain what was happening to him in this period. He never thought he could be so nervous and excited at the same time about going into a cafeteria and ordering an americano. That's so crazy that he stopped in the middle of the sidewalk to laugh at himself.

He was surely getting older, getting excited for the small things.

Or is there something else?

There is, but Akira didn't mind thinking about it.

He reached the bar in the faster time. He was dying to get inside the shop.

He came in and didn't even mind about people talking, cashiers tinkling the coins or the noise from the coffee machine. His mind focused the attention on a small table near the wall.

It was 5.37 pm and he was there.

The boy with the black sunglasses.

Takanori.

Akira waved his hand but the boy didn't notice him. He then tried to not look upset and ordered a giant mocha latte with cinnamon. He waited impatiently for his drink to be prepared by the barmaid. The girl was very good at making cappuccinos and hot chocolates and she seemed so comfortable managing all the hot drinks in her hands.

The girl shouted his name.

“It's me” Akira answered taking the hot beverage in his hands. The girl looked at him with a surprised face. Akira thought something was on his nose or chin. Did he properly washed his makeup off?

“Are you Akira Suzuki? The famous model?” the barmaid whispered in a low, sweet voice.

“I am” he replied winking at the girl.

She blushed violently and since she couldn't hold his gaze she kept his eyes down.

“Do you mind if I ask you for an autograph?” her voice was trembling.

“Sure. No problem. Is it fine if I write on one those paper-glass? I don't have any piece of paper with me”

The girl didn't even blink and immediately handed a paper-take-away-mug to the blonde model. She was looking at him with shy eyes and kept smiling. Akira took a pen from his bag and wrote the name of the girl on the glass signing it with his surname and a small heart drawn down the paper.

The girl stayed motionless for a while, then thanked him with a curtsy.

He felt relieved when he noticed the girl didn't speak a work to her colleagues. That's why he loved place like that where people aren't rude and don't act like they are your long time friends.

Akira felt like it was right to go sitting in front of the mysterious guy. He missed his low deep candy voice.

“It's a nice surprise to see you here again.” Akira said gently. “Do you mind if I sit here?”

The guy didn't react as expected he just did something with his hand to say 'No problem, have a seat'.

Akira was a little bit confused.

“I'm the guy you talked to the other day. We were sitting upstairs” he said almost laughing. Isn't so difficult for the guy to recognize him? He was Akira Suzuki, how could the guy not even found his face in some perfume's advertising?

The mysterious guy didn't seem so impressed.

“Oh yeah, I remember you”

His voice was tender and strong at the same time. A contradiction.

“You know, the girl at the coffee machine recognized me. She even asked me for an autograph”

Akira decided to play the game. This time he must win. That's Akira's first move, now it's the other man's turn.

“Really? Are you a famous person?” Takanori was genuinely surprised.

Was he really asking Akira if he was famous? Akira's face was glued everywhere in Tokyo and the sunglasses-guy asked him if he was famous. That's so ridiculous.

“I'm Suzuki. The famous model. My last business was with Bulgari and there are so many manifestos around the city of the new campaign” Akira's voice sounded more upset than ever.

“Ah, fine. I'm not really interested in fashion and models. Seems cool”

The boy didn't seems so disposed to have a talk or maybe that was just his personality.

Akira felt like he missed something important.

Was he getting annoying?

Perhaps yes.

To be very honest, Akira just invaded a person's personal space for no reason at all and he even expected that the other person could appreciate.

Probably the guy was always waiting for someone in this Starbucks and that explained his constant presence here. And probably the guy wasn't really interested in fashion or meeting new people.

“I feel like I'm bothering you. I apologize, I think it's better if I go home I have somet-” Akira stood up and took the beverage in his hands ready to leave.

“No! It's ok! You're not bothering me at all” his voice was genuine.

His tone was soft and sexy.

How could only a voice be so addicting?

Akira sat down again.

“It's okay. Last time I talked to you, you seemed so introvert and mean. You didn't really want to talk to me. And today you seemed very bored. I feel like I said something bad. If it's like that, I just apologize”

Akira never really apologized for something in his life. Everything in his daily routine was right; his mother taught him that no matter what, he will always be on the right side of the situation. But now......he was very sorry and the words left his mouth so easily, he was astonished.

“It's ok, I never thought you bothered me or something similar. Why did you think so?” the man's voice was very kind and sweet.

Akira looked at him intensely.

“I don't like to talk to people when they wear sunglasses” Akira's voice was firm.

He was about to win the game.

The man acted surprised then decided to take the sunglasses off posing them delicately on the table.

Akira fainted for one second.

The man's face seemed like a porcelain doll's visage. His features were cute and sensual: he had a very curved nose, a chubby shape-face, and pale skin. His lips seemed plumper and bigger now that he didn't wear his big sunglasses. All his facial features suited him perfectly. Even his droll ears looked perfect on him. Even his little dark moles were cute.

How can a face be so beautiful?

And then he noticed the eyes. They weren't really big, but they were very expressive. The color of his irises was light, soft brown. His eyes seemed like...covered with something, like a small dimmed glaze was partially caressing his bulbs. His eyes seemed...turned off, like a dark room with no lights. They seemed empty.

Takanori's gaze was traveling everywhere.

Then Akira understood and he felt a shiver going through his spine. All his body acted like someone electroshocked him.

Was the man...blind?

The blonde man tried moving his hands and shifted the man's mug in a different position but he didn't notice. He didn't see.

Akira coughed.

“I think now you understand why I keep my sunglasses on all the time.”

That voice was like sugar for Akira's ears.

“Ah...It-It's o-ok, I didn't mean to-”

“It's fine. You could not know I am blind. Thats why I probably never saw you in the last Bulgari campaign shooting”

Akira felt so stupid he just wanted to stand up and run away from the situation.

How could he think that the boy was like that? How could he imagine something similar?

Now everything made sense. It's not that the boy never noticed Akira, he never...saw him.

And to think about it, the only things Akira talked about was the beautiful Ginza panorama, the nice cakes in the shop window and the fashion shows manifestos.

How stupid.

How idiot.

“I apologize” Akira was speechless.

“Again? There's no need to apologize. It's ok!” the other man laughed.

They both stood there in silence, no one talked in a short period of time.

Akira took a sip of his mocha latte.

“So...is it your name Suzuki? You didn't tell me last time” the other asked.

“Yes, my name is Akira Suzuki. Call me Akira please”

“And...are you a model?”

Akira felt so guilty right now he blushed softly.

“I am. I'm very famous in Japan and in the USA too. I worked with so many different fashion designers. I've been doing this for seventeen years!”

Takanori smiled and Akira didn't feel guilty anymore.

“That's a lot of time. Congratulations!”

Akira felt a little bit uncomfortable.

“Your name is Takanori, isn't it?”

The boy moved his mug closer to him and took a sip of the drink. He smiled.

“It is. I'm Takanori Matsumoto”

Silence, again.

They were both sitting in front of the other person drinking the hot beverages. Akira kept looking at the small details of Takanori's body. The clothes, the shoes, his small bag, his tidy nails. He was wearing a small and elegant ring on his right index finger.

Akira immediately felt the need to know who gave him that ring.

“You're a model, then. You must be very beautiful”

Takanori spoke naturally like he was speaking to his best friend.

Akira felt like he didn't have to feel guilty or uncomfortable with the situation.

“Well, yes...I am. That's what people mostly tell me. I have to recognize that I've always been beautiful but expensive creams and gym works fine when your job is about the way you look and not the way you are or feel inside”

Takanori seemed very interested in the conversation he even put a elbow on the table, posing his chin on his open palm.

“You always talk like you are being very modest or just tired of your work. I heard people saying that beauty is something very powerful. You are lucky, indeed.”

Akira seemed like something pierced his heart.

How can this be possible?

“Well If I have to be very honest...you are very beautiful too”

The words left Akira's mouth like the wind passing through the leaves of an ancient tree.

Takanori posed his blear gaze on the table smiling.

“Well...I should work as a model too then”

“You are too short to be a model!” Akira whispered smiling.

The other kicked Akira's right leg with a sneaker shoe.

They both ended up laughing.

“How impertinent!”

Takanori looked like he was very angry but his voice tone was soft and funny.

Their laughing was so high that someone turned their heads in their directions watching them with annoyed eyes.

 

Akira never spent a good winter day afternoon like that since years.

Winter could have been his new favorite season.

 

Chapter Text

Seven.

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something humid and slimy was touching insistently Akira's cheek forcing him to open his eyes and taking a look around him. He tried waking up his own mind but he felt like he needed some extra minutes of sleep.

The thing didn't stop and kept licking Akira's face and neck. Two big hairy paws started moving on Akira's chest and abdomen. Sid was happily trying waking his owner up but Akira didn't seem to agree on this.

He opened his eyes and forced himself to a standing position. He took a look around him. He saw his huge matrimonial bed, the two big wardrobes, a white mat close to the bed and three tall minimalist lamps near the walls of the bedroom. Everything was in its right place.

But Akira felt like someone has been in his room some hours ago. He tried convincing himself that he was dreaming.

What was Akira dreaming about?

The answer was easiest than it seemed.

Meanwhile Sid was happily jumping on the white mat and all around the room celebrating his owner waking up. Akira smiled looking into his dog's eyes.

He then remembered everything.

He was dreaming of Takanori.

He dreamt that Takanori entered in his house, in his bedroom watching him sleeping at night.

This seemed so awkward since Takanori could never see Akira; nor sleeping in his bed nor otherwise.

But what was Takanori doing in Akira's bedroom? In his dream?

And...why?

“Woofff!!”

Akira turned his head on the left.

“Good morning baby! We're going out in 30 minutes don't worry!”

It took all his body energy to drive his own persona out of the bed. He went to the bathroom and decided to not shave his face.

He had some days off from work and this could be a good chance to not take care of his skin compulsively. The worst part of his job was the aesthetics. Skin care, working out, running in the morning, massages, SPAs, makeup artists and hairstylists. Everything in Akira's life was meant to take care of his skin, of his face, of his beauty.

But who was interested in taking care of his soul?

Maybe not even himself was interested in such a thing.

Yutaka once told him that after spending so much time in the v.i.p. industry you are not allowed to have a soul anymore. Maybe that's exactly what was happening to him.

He dressed in casual and simple clothes with sporty pants and a t shirt. Tons of clothing-layers covering his body before going out with Sid to the park, facing the morning cold.

When the pair took a step outside the villa, Sid immediately started running up and down for the contentment. Akira smiled watching his dog running happily in the streets.

They went to the park where there were so many dogs running in the grass and playing with their owner.

Akira sat on a bench blowing cold air from his mouth. He was sure he could have died for freezing too much that morning.

He took a look around: there were some high school students walking in the park laughing, two old women slowly strolling and a man talking to the phone while playing with his dog. There were many other people walking around, they were too distant for Akira to notice.

He kept looking at places around him.

What was he looking for?

He wasn't here obviously.

Why was Akira thinking about that blind boy? Why was Akira looking for him in public spaces?

This was so awkward.

Akira thought for a moment about how stupid he could sound.

The lack of sleep has its negative consequences.

 

 

 

When Sid got tired of running and jumping around the park, Akira decided to go back home. His phone started vibrating in his winter jacket.

“Moshi moshi?!”

“Dear..how ya doin'?” a familiar voice made him smile.

“Hello mom, doing good. I think I am tired”

“Why do I hear the same thing over and over again? You are always tired dear! You should sleep more and do something healthy for your life. It's about your job and your career. You can't give up. You need to take care of you” His mom's voice was worried but a little bit angry, like she wanted to reprove him like he was still a child.

Akira tried staying calm but it was so difficult. His right hand squeezing the iPhone tightly. He was getting nervous. He wasn't a child anymore.

“Mom please...just let me-”

He tried talking, explaining himself at the phone while opening the front door of his big house.

Sid immediately run into his little dog's bed and sat there calmly shaking his tail.

Akira smiled.

“Mom please, I beg you...”

“Aki-chan, all the things I tell you are good things because your mommy only wants the best for you, dear. I want you to be happy and stay healthy and-”

Something hit Akira's soul like a truck.

He tried to contain himself but immediately failed.

“Why are you talking about my own happiness? Why are you so interested in that? You and Azumi keep repeating the same things over and over again...but what did you do when my life was falling apart? You didn't move a finger when life was taking Taeko away from me. And you mom, you knew how much important she was for me. You are only interested in my career and the fame I got after all these years. You don't care about your son at all.

Don't you dare talking about happiness to me like that.”

He hanged his phone flinging it somewhere on the sofa.

He went to bathroom and closed the door sitting on the floor. Slowly some tears drew invisible lines on his cheeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it possible for a human being to live in an imaginary world all his life?

Probably yes, since Akira have been living in his own world since he was a child. In his world there was no pain, no suffering and it's always sunny. He felt safe in that world and he went there every time he needed to be protected from the real world. People in the real world can be very cruel, senseless and loveless.

Akira maybe was too sensitive for the real world.

He sometimes felt that if he wasn't that beautiful he would be probably unemployed, ugly and with no friends. He has nothing special inside of him, at least that's what he thought of himself.

He wasn't depressed. He was just nothing. He felt like he was a ghost. If someone could try touching him, the hand would probably pass through his body, crossing the skin like he was made of air.

In his imaginary world everything was different. He was smiley, living his life with Taeko, surrounded by their two kids and Sid jumping in the garden of the beautiful villa. That could sound trivial and stupid, but, for Akira, that would be a dream. Like a child dreams of his favorite superhero.

But most of the dreams never come true. If a dream comes true, is it still a dream?

That's a question that Akira kept answering to himself in the last years.

He was going out from his house, his comfort zone, his private world to go under the snowy atmosphere in Tokyo. It was damn cold he felt like the weather was reflecting his inner soul.

Where was Akira going?

Akira himself tried to avoid the answer probably because it's easier to not accept the fact that the little Starbucks bar was entering in his small imaginary world.

There was no reason at all to go there basically every day, but the felt inside his guts that it was right.

When he was about to enter he didn't even open the door and immediately looked at the inside. The place was very crowded. He came in and didn't mind to order something. He just wanted to talk to him.

To Takanori.

He turned his head around but didn't recognize the short guy with sunglasses.

He looked for him in every table on the ground floor. He wasn't near the wall, not even on the high tables near the shop windows. Not even upstairs. Akira even went to the toilets to look for him but he seemed vanished.

Vanished.

What a fool he was.

How stupid.

How idiot.

How immature.

How immature to think that Takanori was there when he needed to talk to someone.

Who was Takanori after all? A stranger, nothing more.

No one was there.

He didn't even try to look calm and order something, he just went straightforward to the exit door but a female voice called him softly.

Turning his head around he recognized the girl of the other day who asked him for an autograph. She seemed very sweet and shy and very respectful since she didn't shout Akira's name in public but reached for him and talked in a soft voice.

“Sorry If I scared you” she whispered sweetly. Her cheeks turning red.

“It's ok....I'm just surprised” Akira was being honest.

“A man came here during lunch time and asked me if I ever talked to 'Akira Suzuki'. He seemed to know you, maybe it's a colleague so I told him the truth. I told him I recognized you the other day and he gave me this piece of paper with his phone number. He told me to give it to you and he even paid a slice of carrot cake for you”

The girl's voice seemed a little bit surprised and irritated at the same time while she was talking. Akira didn't really get why the girl felt so uncomfortable, he just couldn't stop staring at the small piece of beige paper with small numbers written on it.

He tried to contain his excitement.

Was he dreaming?

And...if a dream comes true, is it still a dream?

 

Chapter Text

Eight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello?

 

Who is it?

 

I'm Akira ehm..Akira Suzuki

 

Oh, hi Akira!

 

I, ehm, I..was, you know, thinking tthat m-maybe...you know about, going out for a date?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting ready was probably harder than Akira could imagine.

It seemed unbelievable but him, Akira Suzuki, the most famous model in Japan, was finding hard dressing properly for a date. Was he probably nervous?

He wasn't just nervous.....he was terrified.

He felt like everything wasn't good enough for the day.

Sid noticed his lovely dad was so nervous that he didn't even try to jump or to bark. Sid just decided to spend the morning playing with his little toys and sleeping on his dog bed.

Meanwhile Akira tried on at least four different outfits. After one hour he looked at his reflection in the mirror and shouted at himself:

“Are you really trying looking good for a date with a blind person? You stupid fool!”

He then laughed so much that his cheeks hurt.

How is it that Akira felt so nervous, feeling the urge to look perfect to a person that wasn't able to see him?

That was the most interesting thing. For the first time in Akira's life, he couldn't rely on his appearance, nor his expensive clothes, nor his face or his styled hair. Everything was different now.

It felt like the first time, the first date, the first crush.

That was totally a new feeling.

But...was Akira able to manage all of this?

He decided to not answer the question. His last option was to dress in a casual elegant way. He wore black jeans, an elegant blue shirt and a jacket. In the end he added a soft grey scarf together with the long coat.

He kissed Sid sweetly, then left the villa.

He was earlier than expected.

Takanori told him at the phone to wait for him in a small square near the underground stop. He felt so impatient like someone waiting to unwrap all the birthday gifts. Akira was so nervous because he felt like he has been launched in a totally different world. In this new universe there was no beauty, no art, no fashion. Only words. It was so strange. Can words be attractive? Can a single sentence be considered beautiful?

Maybe words are more important than Akira thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He reached the place of the appointment in time. It stopped snowing some hours ago but the streets were barely covered with a white blanket. It was...magical. It's impossible to feel impassible in the winter atmosphere. The city lights seemed more colorful compared to the white panorama. A lot of people were walking in the streets, in the shops and in the underground stations. There were people literally everywhere: small groups of students eating crepes in the corners of the square, salary men running on the pavement, women holding shopping bags, guys talking to each other. Everyone seemed to enjoy the winter atmosphere, like a sort of magic spell hitting all the Japanese population.

Akira smiled.

He turned his head and noticed him.

Takanori was walking on the other side of the street moving the white stick to the right and to the left to help him facing the obstacles in the daily life and especially in the streets. He seemed confident with himself. He was wearing the famous big black sunglasses, a long beige coat and sporty sneakers. His black soft-wavy hair was decorated with some little shy snowflakes fitted in his wisps. Akira felt incredibly dumb. He was staring at him all the time and didn't move a single muscle.

Then he crossed the street and went into him.

He raised his hand to greet him but immediately changed his mind. He instead waited for him for hit his leg with the white stick.

“Excuse me sir”

He missed incredibly that deep voice.

“Hi Takanori”

The face of the man in front of him immediately changed his expression.

“Akira!”

The blond model smiled when he heard the other calling his name. It was surreal. He felt like the world around him was slowly disappearing.

“Did I scare you?” he questioned.

Takanori smiled placing the white stick in front of him.

“No, but I bet you look very scary today”

They both laughed.

Akira started walking in the opposite direction and Takanori quickly noticed it and changed his direction too to walk side by side with his date.

'Try to not sound stupid'

Akira kept repeating this sentence over and over again in his head.

“So....it's really cold today, isn't it?”

Akira tried speaking but he realized he just made a fool of himself.

“Did you really ask me for a date to talk about the weather?” the shorter man stopped in the middle of the street to use the free hand to hide his laugh.

Akira blushed shyly and put his gaze down to the floor staring at his expensive shoes.

He was a disaster.

It was all a disaster.

“Well....what about the city lights during winter time? I love the atmosphere and the colors!”

“Well...I can't see a shit but I'm sure that if I was able to I would not be very impressed by the winter atmosphere! Winter to me looks like a grumpy aunt that wants to squeeze your cheeks and tells you scary stories!”

Akira blushed again and tried coughing but he noticed he was running out of saliva.

“W-What? I mean...well..ok! I'm a mess and it's going to be a mess. Can we start again from the beginning? I'm Akira, nice to meet you”

Akira's voice was half serious and half not.

Takanori laughed.

“Ehy ehy, it's ok. Let's do that....I make questions. You told me you work as a model. So... why were you spending your afternoons in that small Starbucks coffee?”

The shorter man's voice was as soft as deep. It was warm and sensual.

Akira gulped.

“Well...In the last months I strangely have more free time than usual and I love spending time in places where people don't really care about famous models like me. And what about you? What are you doing every day in that Starbucks?”

Takanori kept walking waving the sticks on the ground.

“I work part time as physiotherapist in the Ginza hospital which is not so far away from the Starbucks bar. I love going there because it's a calm place and I always find a free seat to spend the afternoons in silence. Most of the time I listen to the music or to the news”

Akira listened paying attention to every single words coming from the other's mouth. His big sunglasses were covering half of his face but Akira could still admire Takanori's pretty profile: the curved nose, the plumped lips and the beautiful elegant mole on his small chin.

“A...physiotherapist?” the blonde model asked.

“Yes...I am a physiotherapist. Most of blind people generally work as call center operators, sound technicians or physiotherapist. This job, being a physiotherapist, is the most interesting one to me. The majority of doctors around the world are strictly convinced that blind people work better in this area because we have a different way to approach with the inmates. We can't see but our other four senses are highly strengthened and we immediately recognize the bad unwell parts in someone's body. The way we approach with a patient's body is different because we only use hands to cure people who suffered several disease and slowly stopped walking or movinig an arm or an hand. We see with our hands. My fingers are my eyes.”

Akira didn't miss a single word. He paid so much attention that he did run into two different men while walking. It was pleasurable to listen to Takanori talking. His voice was enchanting.

“Wow...that's amazing. I'm pretty sure you are very good at your job” Akira concentrated to not say other stupid things.

“It seems so. Many doctors send me their patients to get cured and to help them going back walking again or moving both arms like they did before. I work with famous people too. They ask for me because some doctors started spreading my name. I don't have my private medical studio but I have to say that I can do my job very well.”

They walked side by side in silence.

Akira was very impressed. He literally felt like he was talking with an human being for the first time. All the feelings he was feeling in that moments felt new to him, like visiting a new city for the first time or tasting a new meal from another country.

Akira tried to say something but he didn't know what to do.

“I didn't think that a basic person like me could leave a famous person like you speechless! That was unexpected!”

Takanori seemed very confident. He laughed and then got rid of his sunglasses and placed them in his pocket.

His eyes moved to Akira and looked to him but didn't really see him. They were traveling from the right to the left and viceversa.

“Your outfit looks horrible by the way” Takanori stressed in a serious tone.

“What? Really? But this shirt is Giorgio Armani and- WAIT! Are you making fun of me again?” Akira's voice was so worried that he sounded like a puppy.

Takanori couldn't help but laugh again.

“Oh my god, you are so funny Akira! I love this date!” Takanori kept walking moving his stick. Akira followed him immediately.

The shorter man clashed into a group of girls drinking hot tea and chatting and he screamed at them “Ehy girls! Look around you when you walk...are you maybe blind?”

The girls looked at him with an annoyed face and kept walking in their directions.

Takanori kept screaming and then laughed moving his head into Akira's directions. Akira couldn't help but smile.

Takanori seemed so funny and confident that he felt very stupid to have been thinking about Takanori's disabilty all the days before today believing that maybe that could be a problem. Takanori didn't even seem blind; only if a person paid carefully attention could notice a thin grey layer on his eyes that made them look lighter. But, except for the with stick, Takanori was a normal person and oh, how beautiful he was.

He was moving so elegantly in the streets and he couldn't even see where he was going.

“Are you interested in fashion? I see you own very expensive clothes” the model asked in a soft voice.

“Yes! I love the good material the fashion houses use to make clothes. I love how comfortable they are! I don't care about the colors though, but I can say that the fabric is excellent. If you are asking yourself how I can combine the colors and the outfits I'll tell you a secret: my brother daily helps me with the clothes and stuff. He is my aesthetic-stylist. He really loves me and I love him so much. He takes care of me when I need to. I'm lucky to have such a brother like him. And...what about your family?”

They kept walking until they reached a small cafeteria on the ground floor of an high building. The shop was on the main street of Ginza but didn't seem as crowded as expected. They came in and took a sit near the windows where the atmosphere seemed more silent and intimate. They were sitting on a very small table, facing each other. The table was so small that it was impossible to move their own hands without touching the others's.

Akira ordered a green roasted tea with a slice of cake and Takanori ordered a giant cappuccino with a cinnamon roll.

“About my family.....my mother is my manager. She works with me since I was sixteen. My sister is a sort of co-worker but she has her own life and she didn't really get into the fashion industry like my mother did. My father divorced from my mother when I was five and since that day I've never met him again. Not a great loss though.”

“I'm sorry to hear about your father. But you are lucky to have such a supportive mother and sister!” Takanori bit his cinnamon roll chewing slowly.

“It's not like it seems. I don't want to make it tragic, but my mom really doesn't understand me. She seemed only interested in my career and every time I try telling her I want to stop all of this, she tries to prove me I'm wrong. My sister obviously agrees with her”

Akira didn't even blink when he was talking. He just met Takanori but he felt so comfortable in telling his story, talking about his family and his job.

“Why do you want to stop? I don't know much of this but you seem to have everything a man or woman wants in life. You have beauty, money, power, fame...what is wrong with this?”

Takanori's question slashed metaphorically Akira's face in less than one second.

He felt his internal organs starting bleeding.

“Probably I AM wrong. I'm not happy”

Akira concluded and drank the beverage.

“I felt your sadness since the first day I talked to you and I can't deny it. It's weird that you feel this way and you have...everything. You are beautiful” Takanori meant it.

“I don't think that beauty is all that matters and you can agree on this. For people like you beauty doesn't even exist”

“That's wrong. We see things, or better, we touch them and we can define what we consider beautiful or not”

Akira still couldn't accept that every single sentence Takanori could say had the power to leave him speechless.

In a blink of an eye, Akira felt Takanori's hands on his face. His finger slowly massaged his features caressing his forehead and brows. Then the hands moved to his nose and touched calmly Akira's eyelids. Then, the fingers concentrated on Akira's soft big lips contouring the shapes.

“God, you are so beautiful Akira”

Akira swallowed.

“You are beautiful too” the blond man declared.

“Should I trust you? Or are you just saying this since I can't check it out?”

The two men laughed and Akira moved his hand to touch the back of Takanori's.

The hours went by and Akira missed the world around him. He completely forgot about the Sun and the universe.

There was only that small table, two small chairs and...Takanori.

That was enough.

 

Chapter Text

 

Nine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Yuu! Can you please try not to stick the brush into my right eye? Thank you!”

Today had been the hardest day since months.

Akira had been working on this project for six hours non-stop and he was pretty tired of keep changing his make up and clothes.

“Yes, His Majesty. I apologize, His Majesty” Yuu answered taking an eyeshadows palette in his left hand. He started mixing some colors together on the back of his hand with a small brush. When he obtained the perfect color he started spreading the eyeshadows on Akira's eyelids.

After some minutes, Yuu's magic hands completely had the work done.

Akira's face was perfect as usual and Yuu perfectly knew how to do his job.

Akira watched his reflection on the mirror: he was wearing a deep blue eyeshadow and had his hair styled with hair gel that made his whole forehead visible. He was obviously stunning.

“Thank you Yuu, you are an amazing artist and friend. I wouldn't know where I would be without you!”

Akira admitted.

“How romantic! I've never heard such phrases from you lately. Is there something you need to tell me? You know...meeting someone?”

Yuu asked in a soft-spoken voice. Yuu knew too well how things went in his friend's life.

“What? Well...no, I mean. Maybe”

Akira said.

“That's the shit dude. I've never expected you to tell me this thing after all these months watching you being all tired and depressed. I'm so freaking happy. You need to tell me everything”

Akira smiled and for a moment he thought that Yuu was personifying perfectly the gay-stylist-stereotype in that moment.

When Akira tried to answer one of the photographers called for him in the studio. He reached the white room and posed in front of cameras.

He had all the people in the room's eyes on him. Everything in the room was looking at Akira in that moment.

He posed half naked together with other models and he made a solo photoshoot too.

It was hard to move your own eyes from his body or face. He was captivating all the vibes in the room.

At the end of the shoot some girls reached for him trying to ask him his planning for the evening. Akira didn't pay attention to anyone. He didn't even bother Yuu to use some makeup remover cream. He just decided to go out with full make up. He took his belongings and left the studio.

He took his phone from his jacket and found a vocal message from Takanori.

He couldn't hide a smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akira waited for Takanori to terminate his job outside the hospital.

He was still wearing makeup and his hair was still styled in the most fashion way but he decided to wear a white mask to obfuscate himself in the crowd.

After ten minutes he saw a short man walking in the hallway of the hospital shaking the white stick in his hands; he went out from the building and turned his head around.

Akira touched the back of neck delicately.

“Hi.” Akira said

“Oh, hello! Sorry for the delay but I had a lot of things to do today. I'm so damn hungry”

they both smiled.

Takanori wasn't wearing any sunglasses and Akira had the chance to look into his eyes and lose himself inside of them.

“Do you like to...come to my place? I would like to introduce you to a special person. And we can order something take away if you like”

It sounded like a great idea and Takanori accepted in fact.

They walked for thirty minutes before reaching Akira's villa. They talked about their jobs, their colleagues, their aspirations, project and dreams. Takanori found out that Akira was really interested in music, especially rock and punk music, while Akira, instead, knew about Takanori's favorite books. Takanori told him he loved listening to audiobooks basically everyday. He listened to the most famous novels written by famous authors from the Victorian Era like Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Victor Hugo and he loved listening to classical music too.

They got to know each other better and that made Akira's heart warm.

When the pair reached the entrance of the giant house Takanori immediately felt like he was entering in a new dimension.

“A garden? A gate? Where are you living? In a castle maybe? That's crazy” he confessed closing the extensible stick and posing it in his bag.

“Well I'm rich and my mom wants me to live here because it's safer and I can protect myself better from paparazzi. In my house you will hear other people talking...they are the staff of the villa. I have a butler and a maid. Yes I know that's dumb stuff but my mom is very irritating and she doesn't want me to get rid of the staff in the house. Anyway I hope you will feel at home.”

The shorter man stayed in silence for a while.

“You are a mommy's boy then. You seem to do everything your mommy tells you to do. This is hilarious”

Akira laughed.

They entered in the house and Akira helped Takanori through the main entrance of the garden holding his left arm while walking.

Akira opened the main door and he kept Takanori close to his body. When they both came in Akira felt a little bit doubtful.

“So what? Aren't you going to show me your big ass house?” Takanori asked with a sweet voice.

“Eh? That's ok...I thought that, you know....maybe”

“You can describe everything to me!” Takanori replied started exploring the place.

Akira took Takanori's hand shyly and guided him in all the rooms. He tried describing every single object in the area: the big sofas, the huge LCD television, the white tables in the dining room, the kitchen and the beautiful paintings hanged on the walls. Then, they moved upstairs exploring slowly the other rooms. Akira “showed” Takanori the two bathrooms and the three other rooms: two bedrooms and a studio room.

“Wait wait. Tell me more about the paintings! Is there any painting in your own bedroom?” Takanori was really curious.

Akira spied the inside of his own room like he didn't even remember the objects in it.

“There's a painting. It's a naked woman painted with blue paint on a soft red background. The woman in the painting is showing her back and her face is posed on the ground. One hand is touching her chin while the other one is hiding near the ankle. The painting expresses melancholy and hope. It's a strange feeling, like the woman is waiting for something, but that something will never come”

Takanori listened paying attention. He was really captured by the words of the other man.

That moment reminded him of when he was younger and one day his brother took him to the modern art museum and he explained to him every single painting in the rooms for three hours straight. Takanori learned since the young age to appreciate things not only with his hands but also with his ears, listening to other people talking about them and capturing all the small emotions coming from their souls.

“This is...magic. Who is the artist? The person must be really brilliant”.

Akira stopped for a while. He looked at his feet.

How boring.

He never liked his feet but in that moment he paid too much attention.

He coughed then he took a deep breathe.

“My ex wife painted it”

Takanori turned his head into Akira's direction. His cheeks softly blushed. His eyes were traveling everywhere. It was obvious that he felt really confused and embarrassed.

“Ah”

“What?”

“I couldn't imagine you were engaged.” Takanori's voice spoke softly.

“It was some time ago. Now it belongs to the past”

Takanori didn't know what to say. He felt....guilty. Probably because Akira voice was so sad that you couldn't not hear it.

They remained in silence for a while until Akira broke the atmosphere.

“Ehy, there's something you need to see. It's the most beautiful thing in the house. I mean...not see, but I want you to meet that thing” Akira's voice suddenly felt really excited.

Takanori laughed. “That's ok”

Akira took Takanori's arm with his hand and guided him through the hallway of the first floor. He opened a door and after two seconds or less a giant fluffy bear appeared behind the door barking.

“A DOG? DO YOU OWN A DOG AKIRA? HOLY SHIT” Takanori said surprisingly.

Sid started jumping happily greeting his owner and the new guest in the house. Sid was so happy to see Akira and Takanori that he almost fell on the floor six times before reaching Akira.

The big dog kissed Akira licking his cheeks and Akira laughed trying to push the guy inside the room. Takanori never stopped smiling, not even for a second.

“There there Sid, don't be crazy in front of new persons or you will embarrass me”

The dog barked.

“Anyway, Takanori...this is Sid, my cute dog. And...Sid, this is Takanori. Introduce yourself!”

Sid started running towards Takanori and stood up on his posterior paws touching Takanori's chest and licking his face. Sid was so big that it only took a little push to make both Takanori and himself falling on the floor. Takanori laughed caressing the head of the dog while Sid kept barking shaking his tail.

“Oh my god, Takanori are you ok? Sid is always so calm, I don't know what's happening to him today. I'm so sorry”

Akira helped Takanori standing up and took his hands in his own hands. They both blushed.

“I'm sorry...my dog seems a little bit crazy today”

Takanori laughed.

“I love your dog!” the other man replied.

Sid bit the edge of Takanori's coat pushing him into his own 'toys area' with a cute expression on his face. The dog seemed to say 'Ehy human! Come see my toys!'

The dog couldn't know that the short black-haired man couldn't see his toys nor him or his owner. But Takanori seemed very happy to play with Sid.

Akira sat on the floor smiling watching his pup playing with that beautiful man.

Takanori kept caressing the hairy animal sweetly and playing with his paws. Sid was literally smiling for happiness.

Takanori turned his head around.

“I'm here Takanori” Akira replied to the silent question.

Takanori moved into the direction where he heard the voice coming. He sat on the floor next to Akira. Sid followed him calmly and lying down on the floor to get more cuddles.

Takanori couldn't take his hands off of the beautiful labrador.

“I think Sid really likes you. I've never seen him being so comfortable around people like he did today with you” Akira explained.

“Well...it means he is really fascinated by my presence here!” Takanori said with a fun expression on his face.

“...And he is not the only one to be fascinated by you in this room”

Akira spoke like the most natural thing in the universe.

Takanori coughed. His cheeks blushed but he tried to not look so nervous.

After some minutes of silence Sid basically fell asleep.

“Can I please touch your face, Takanori?”

The mainly voice broke the silent moment.

“My face?”

“Yes. I want to close my eyes and touch your face”

Takanori nodded.

Akira moved from his position to stand closer to the short man. He closed his eyes and touched delicately the blind man's face. Takanori was standing still, not even breathing.

Akira's hands were so big that they could cover Takanori's entire face with his palms. He touched delicately the forehead, the eyelids, the soft curved nose and the plumped lips. He brushed sweetly Takanori's jaw line drawing a shape of his visage.

The short man smiled.

“You are very beautiful Takanori. But nothing is compared to what my eyes can see” Akira said. Only a few centimeters were separating their mouths.

Takanori swallowed.

“I wish I could see you. You must be very handsome”

“I'm nothing special Takanori. I'm serious” Akira replied.

Takanori's hands reached Akira's body in a second. He touched his neck and his shoulders pushing delicately his finger tips on the skin covered by a thin fabric. The fingers caressed the arms, the forearms and Akira's hands.

Akira tried to stay silent but it was hard. Takanori's touch was delicate and intense at the same time.

“How can you say you are not special? You are made of marble. Like a statue” the black-haired man spoke honestly.

“My heart is made of marble too”

Akira immediately regretted saying too much in that situation.

Takanori felt his own heart skipping a beat. He tried looking away, at least metaphorically.

He felt a strange feeling like Akira let out a part of himself, something like an ice ball coming from his soul and that thing was now rolling on the floor and Takanori didn't know if he could take it in his hands. Akira was incredibly sad when he tried to talk about himself. Takanori felt out of place, like he entered in the wrong restaurant for an important appointment.

He didn't have any right to ask anything. So he remained silent.

The butler came to save them two knocking on the door.

“Mr Suzuki? The take away ordered is arrived!”

“Oh, thank you Kobayashi-san! We are coming in a minute”

Akira took Takanori's hand.

“Do you like chinese food? Because I ordered tons of it, I want to eat everything and watch a movie. How does it sound?”

“It sounds really great to me! Especially watching the television...you know. I love watching movies” Takanori smiled and thanked Akira for helping him standing up from the floor.

“Let's go then no I mean- oh my god I'm so sorry! I said another bullshit. I do really apologize. I'm a stupid moron” Akira spoke while they were going downstairs.

“It's ok, mommy boy. You are so funny when you realize you said the wrong thing” Takanori couldn't help himself but being sassy all the time. He loved teasing Akira this way.

“Don't call me like that!” Akira replied

 They both laughed.

"We can replace the movie with listening to some music. I have a lot of cds and you can choose!" Akira took Takanori's shoulders in a small hug. Takanori nodded.

"Great idea, mommy boy"

They laughed and Akira stared at the other man losing himself in his cloudy eyes. 

 

Chapter Text

Ten.








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akira was waiting outside in the streets since hours.

He had a day off from work, shootings and stylists and decided to wake up early in the morning and took care of himself. He went jogging, took Sid out for a walk and had a long shower. He had breakfast and watched TV in the meanwhile.

He did every single action slowly, damn slowly. He wanted to stop time, to stretch it 'till it would stop for real, only for him. He did everything wasting every seconds, minutes and hours of his day. Why?

Because he was waiting for his afternoon date.

Akira didn't want afternoon to come.

He was probably too excited, too nervous, too anxious.

At 3 pm he decided he didn't have any power to stop time or to stop the world from spinning around the Sun so he just left home early and reached the meeting place two hours before the appointment.

He decided to enter in a book shop to kill time.

He walked through every bookcases and shelves spying some titles of some interesting books. He found an interesting book just by looking at the cover. It was a english novel titled Lady Chatterley's Lover. The plot talks about a married woman who falls in love with a man. They keep their forbidden love hidden until they decide to spend the rest of their life together, leaving their past life and other's people prejudices behind them.

The plot sounded so nice that Akira asked a sales assistant if there was the audiobook version of the novel. The sales assistant took Akira in specific place inside the shop where there were bookcases full of audiobooks and cds. The blonde man felt like he was entering in a different world; Takanori's world. There were literally any tipe of book recorded on a cd or dvd. There were classical victorian literature audiobooks, poetry audiobooks, japanese literature audiobooks and many others. Akira was literally impressed by what he was seeing. It's like there was a parallel world living at the same time of the world where Akira belonged. It's like Takanori was living in a different reality but doing the same thing as Akira. Just in a different way.

Like two stars shining in the universe in the same time, but light years away from each other.

Akira paid the audiobook and left the shop. He waited for the exact time to come and decided to smoke a cigarette. After five minutes he recognized someone walking the street shaking a white stick and wearing a pair of black sunglasses.

Akira went into Takanori's direction and took his body in his arms delicately.

Takanori froze for a second.

“It's me.”

Akira's voice was calm and sweet.

Takanori smiled shyly.

“Akira”

They stayed in silence for a long minute.

“You are very cute today” Akira broke the ice.

“Thank you, you too. Especially I love your sleepy face today”

Takanori laughed and Akira laughed louder.

“I have something for you” the blond model said taking something in his hand and posing it delicately in Takanori's ones.

“What is it?”

“It's an audiobook. It's an english novel titled  Lady Chatterley's Lover. I liked the plot so I decided to buy it for you”

Takanori smiled.

“It's....beautiful Akira. But you didn't have to-”

Akira posed a finger on Takanori's mouth.

“Shh, I just wanted to give you a gift and that's it. Also the story is pretty cool; it's about a secret hidden love story. I like that shit”

Takanori smiled again. He then spoke with a deep mainly voice. “I didn't think you were such a romantic mommy-boy

“Shut the fuck up Takanori or I will steal your white stick!”

“Don't you dare....mommy-boy!”

Takanori pushed Akira but he obviously failed.

Akira took gently Takanori's arm in his hand and guided him through the way of the pavement. The couple entered in a cafeteria and ordered brownies and hot tea. The weather outside was very cold and a hot beverage was the best thing.

They sat in a small table in the angle of the room. The place wasn't much crowded and they could talk whispering instead of shouting their voices. Takanori looked doubtful and thoughtful.

Akira took some seconds of silence to admire the man in front of him.

Takanori's eyes spinned around him like a child eternally surprised by the world around him. His facial features were chubby and cute, properly like a baby. He didn't look 35 at all. Akira was deeply captured by his gestures: elegant and ethereal.

“I have the strange feeling that you are looking at me!” the shorter man exclaimed.

“Uhm nah. Just chilling in front of a cute boy drinking tea”

The blind man smiled.

They stayed in silence for a while. Then Takanori broke it.

“So...tell me more about your childhood Akira! i’m so curious about that!”

Takanori’s voice was deep and relaxing.

“My childhood? Mh i don’t think I have something interesting to say. I grew up with a single mom because my father left when I was 3 and my sister was 7. My mom was the best mom I could ever ask for. She’s always been very caring and cozy and she never left me or my sister with the feeling of missing something. She bought us all the toys we wanted, she bakes us all the cakes we loved and she used to pick us up every day to school. Probably she did it because she felt guilty for what happened with her husband. Mom and that...man, didn’t really get along after her second pregnancy. When I was still a baby boy my father just left and he probably rebuild his life again, with another woman. He probably had children. Me and Azumi never heard of him after his leaving. He just left us. Like we weren’t even born. He surely deleted us from his memories. Thank god I can’t remember his face...it would have been more painful. But my mother...well she suffered a lot for this. And since she didn’t want to see her children suffering because they didn’t have a father, she gave us everything.”

Takanori’s was paying much attention and Akira could tell it from the moving of his eyes. His pupils were moving slowly like he was trying catching Akira’s words with his look.

“How did it come to you to become a model?” the shorter man questioned.

“Well...I started modeling when I was sixteen-seventeen years old. I’ve been a very sporty boy during my adolescence and, during a football match where I was playing, one man in the audience noticed me and suggested a nice job to my mom. She accepted the offer and I was ok with it too. So I started modeling for fun basically….I used to pose for some photographs during weekends or when I was off from school. After my high school graduation I wasn’t very convinced about a fashion model career and then I started attending university, studying engineering. I was keeping my model career as a hobby though. After a while I started getting so many job offers that I couldn’t really refuse. Especially because they offered me so much money and I needed money at that time; I wanted to help my mother to give her a happy life now that I was able to afford it. So I left university and I became a full time model. And then here I am.”

Takanori stayed quiet. He took a sip of the hot tea.

Akira bit his lips.

He felt like he wasn’t even speaking. Talking with Takanori came so naturally that sometimes he felt like he was dreaming or probably he was just hallucinating and talking to himself.

It was very comfortably talking with a person that gives you such a natural feeling.

“Your life must be really intriguing, you have everything.”

Every single time Takanori spoke, Akira felt like someone was punching his stomach.

“Not really. I never had a father. I don’t have a wife anymore. This is not everything .”

Takanori winced.

“I like the bakery here. The brownies are delicious.” the short black-haired man said changing subject. “Also I like the teas. I like this place.”

“I hope you will read, I mean, listen to, the audiobook I bought you. I’m sure you will appreciate in the same way you appreciate this brownie!”

They laughed and kept talking about books, novels, movies and music. Takanori was way more acculturated than Akira. He knew basically everything from every subject: science, politics, history, art, poetry. He left Akira speechless more than once.

Was that because Akira never met a blind person before? Probably he grew up with the wrong stereotypes and the wrong ideas. He was glad someone came in his life to change them.

When Takanori finished his cup of tea he took his extensible white sticks ready to stand up.

“Mh Akira, I think I have to go home. I’m tired.”

“T-That’s ok...I can keep you company during your way home”.

Akira stood up surprisingly. He reached the cash desk and paid for him and the shorter boy.

Takanori was waiting for him outside the cafeteria.

It was slowly starting snowing. Some random snowflakes was posing on the ground. It was an ethereal atmosphere.

Akira came out and reached Takanori.

“Let’s go” the model asserted.

“Ehm no...it’s better If I go alone.” Takanori seemed irritated and tired.

“Eh? Why? I don’t want you to go home alone! I come with you”

Takanori started shaking his white stick and walked away from Akira.

Akira run after him. “Ehy!”

Takanori paused and took a deep breathe. When he breathed out, a small icy cloud left his mouth.

“Listen to me Akira. It’s better for both of us to never see each other again.”

The short man spoke so softly and naturally that for a second it sounded like a joke.

Akira swallowed “What? Are you kidding? W-why?”

Akira felt like he was missing something. Like that feeling when you wake up in the morning and you are late for work because the alarm didn’t ring.

“Because it’s better for you...and especially for me.”

Takanori was talking while walking helping his balance with the stick. He was going very fast that Akira had to breathe harder to hold his footsteps.

“What? What are you even talking about?” the blonde model touched the other’s man shoulder and tried to turn his body around.

“Don’t act like you don’t notice, like you don’t see !”

Silence.

“I’m blind, I’m a disabled person. And you? You are one of the richest and most handsome man in Japan. You have and you had everything...That everything that I never had the chance to see and will never have. How can two different worlds encounter?”

Akira tried to scanning Takanori’s gaze but he found only two grey flowers looking straightly into his own soul. He felt lost.

“Are you crazy? What are you even saying? This is so stupid!” The blonde man was irritated, frustrated and disappointed.

“It’s not stupid, just true. I’m a realist. Look at me and then look at you. I’m not a part of your life and I will never be. Neither you will be part of mine. This shit is senseless. You should stop dating a disabled.”

Akira posed his both hands on Takanori’s shoulders and strongly shook his petite body feeling his heartbeat speeding up and his blood pumping in his veins.

“Can you hear all the bullshits you are saying right now? Because I’ve never heard such a stupid argument in my life. This is so stupid that I can’t believe it’s you saying these bullshits.”

Akira didn’t even blink. He was shouting.

“Don’t touch me”

Takanori’s voice was cold but trembling. He was afraid or maybe just vulnerable.

Akira felt the other man’s presence slowly fading away from his life like sand caressing your fingers. He already lost two important persons in his life, his father when he abandoned his family and his ex wife. Now he was losing Takanori too.

Life couldn’t be so cruel, not anymore.

Akira sweetly posed his hands on Takanori’s cheeks softly caressing his pale skin. He leaned forward just in the right space to whisper on Takanori’s lips.

The snowflakes started falling more and more. The landscape was just white. Pure, clean. The small street where the two man were arguing was empty. No one could see them.

“Now listen to me Takanori. I DON’T GIVE A FUCK IF YOU ARE BLIND.” 

The taller boy screamed, then took a deep breathe. “I like you. I liked you since the first day I saw you in the Starbucks cafeteria. I liked you even more when you talked to me and when I found out that you were blind. I like your world. I wanna be a part of it. I don’t care if I am a model and I’m handsome...beauty doesn’t matter at all. I really like you and I don’t want to lose you for some stupid ass shitty causes. Your blindness is not a problem, nor will never be”

Long minutes passed before they both started breathing again.

Takanori had a confused expression on his face. He seemed even more scared than before.

“You will get tired of me sooner or later. You have everything: money, power, beauty. How could someone like you find interest in someone like me? I can’t even see you. How will you introduce me to your mother? “Hi mom this is my blind boyfriend”? This is so wrong! You are too famous to spend time with a person like me!!”

Akira’s hands pushed into Takanori’s skin. The fingers pressed delicately and strongly at the same time. Akira looked into Takanori’s empty eyes.

“Matsumoto Takanori...what didn’t you understand of my sentence “I like you”? I just like you a lot. Is it something wrong? I don’t think so. Are you maybe heterosexual? Fine for me, that would be a decent excuse to stop dating me. But please, do me a favor and stop saying bullshits again. Nothing is wrong. You are not wrong. Probably you are the only right thing that ever happened in my life in the last period. I don’t care If I have everything, if I’m rich or famous. I don’t want everything, I want you.”

Akira never felt so comfortable in his whole life. For the first time he decided to take control of this situation alone. There wasn’t his mother ready to protect him, not even his manager or Kai. He was alone and strong. He felt like he just needed to be loyal to himself and to the other man too.

Is it so wrong to feel something? Then it’s ok. Akira never felt right in his entire life.

He tried to contain himself. He noticed his fingers were pressing on Takanori’s jaw.

Takanori quietly melted into a shy smile. Then he laughed noisily.

Akira looked at him surprised. “So what? Don’t tell me you are heterosexual!”

Takanori laughed even more touching Akira’s chest.

The snow already covered the entire pavement and the dumpsters too.

The shorter’s man hands caressed Akira’s neck delicately.

“I think I’m more homosexual than your homosexual ass, mommy-boy!” Takanori slapped Akira’s face. “Maybe we can...I mean-”

“Can I kiss you?” the blonde model asked in a second.

Takanori grabbed the strips of Akira’s coat and pulled him closer.

Akira’s lips met for the first time Takanori’s ones. It felt like a deja vù or maybe a dream. Or maybe an illusion. Akira closed his eyes isolating himself from the world. He felt like he was entering in Takanori’s world, where everything is dark but interesting.

The shorter man tried reaching Akira’s nape and the model helped him pulling his petite body closer. Takanori’s breathe smelled like mint. It was addicting, like his voice and his presence.

Their lips danced like two butterflies: shyly but flowing into one another.

The snow started covering the two men’s heads and their clothes too.

Akira never felt so happy.