It had been like this for two years.
Takaba ran a hand through his thin straw hair, and fought the urge to scream at the two children sitting at the table before him. He wanted to hit them, he so desperately wanted to slap those arrogant smirks off of their faces. He wanted to destroy those conniving expressions that taunted him day in and day out.
As they sat there, refusing to touch the food he had spent hours making, he wanted to rip their throats out.
They acted like this whenever Asami was not around. It began the same way, always began to same way. Angry and grumpy, they would come to him, claiming they were famished, and out of the goodness of his heart, Akihito would fix them whatever they asked for.
At first, they tossed the occasional comments, “It's not like how mother used to make it” or “I liked it better when mother made it” into the air, but even when they would compare Takaba's cooking to that of their treacherous mother, they would at least nibble on whatever substance he provided for them.
Than again, Asami was always around during those times. Forcing both Takaba and his children to actually mingle with one another. When Asami was there, Takaba tolerated them, and they tolerated him.
But when Asami was gone, their true colors shone through the mask they upheld for their father. Refusing to eat Akihito's food was just one shade of their malicious personalities.
“I only eat this when mother makes it,” said Asami's young daughter, as she hopped off of her high chair, and took her plate with her. Takaba watched with a frozen horror as the girl carried her plate in her tiny hands, and emptied its contents into the trash can. Perfectly good food. Wasted.
“I'm not hungry anymore,” she spoke, and placed her plate in the sink.
Akihito, who leaned against the counter, refused to look at her any longer. The smirk on her face was enough to make him puke.
Walking past him now, he supposed one kick to her skull could relieve him of his unjust misery, but even he wasn't that stupid.
With her pigtails bobbing high in the air, tied with a pink ribbon, the little girl skipped to her room. Takaba looked towards the table, where her twin brother still sat, eying the plate of food. He held his fork, as if he wanted to eat something, yet was fearful of diverging from the path of defiance set for him by his sister.
He dropped the fork into the plate, hopped off of his chair and followed his sister.
Takaba paced around the bedroom that night, his hands were waving in the air in such an animated manor, he walked with a hunch in his shoulders, as if the entirety of the situation was weighing him down, he looked upward, and sometimes he averted his gaze to his feet as he complained to the older man who sat in their large bed.
“They don't like me Asami! Whatever life was like before I decided to come back ...it's not what it was like now. They hate me, they want their mother Asami! I can't be there mother...” The photographer cried to the ceiling, because it was no different then protesting to Asami.
The older man took a drag of his cigarette, and gazed at the red faced blond, who continued to blabber about a situation that could be fixed with time.
He was hungry for his kitten, he did not care to listen to his problems.
“Akihito, come here.” The older man's genuine command tore through the photograph's long string of complaints, and beckoned the younger man's attention towards the bed. Takaba stared at the older man, who returned the look with a very seductive gaze.
Takaba scolwed at him, with his mouth hung open slightly open. He gasped in disbelief.
“A-Asami, have you even been listening to me?” stuttered Takaba, as he-against his will-walked over the the large bed, “I've been talking-”
“About a situation that we have already discussed, and like I have said many times before Akihito, give them time to adjust to you,” the older man regurgitated the same exact words he used to dispel any other protest Akihito may have wanted to broadside him with.
Patience was a virtue, and a virtue that the photographer lacked.
Takaba fell to the bed as Asami grabbed the younger man's wrist, and pulled him close. He planted a wet kiss against the photographer's dry lips, and maneuvered his tongue inside of Takaba's mouth. Takaba swallowed whatever objection he had for Asami, and allowed the older man to work wonders on his body.
The issue regarding Takaba's step children was a very real issue, but so was the growing bulge in his pants. Fighting against Asami was pointless, and walking out was even more pointless. Running away solved nothing, and if anything, it symbolized that Akihito was losing to Asami's brats.
The older man's words echoed throughout his head.
Give them time to adjust to you... Takaba inwardly sighed as he allowed Asami's hands to unbutton his pants, and snake their way to his entrance... What about my time to adjust.
Weeks later, nothing had changed. After work, he walked to the local bar. His camera bounced against his chest with each and every tired step he forced himself to walk. Exhaustion tugged on his brain as he fought to stay awake, stress clung to to his ankles like a prison chain, and slowed him down like the large, iron balls that criminals had grown so accustomed to in jails.
He mused on the thought. Living with Asami and his hateful children was like living in a prison, he supposed. The children hated him because he was not their mother, and he believed Asami hated him because he refused to see reason.
Akihito hated himself for staying in that mad house.
Kou, who hadn't heard from Takaba in weeks, invited the photographer to the bar after work. Luckily for Takaba, Asami was out with his kids. He had called Takaba earlier that day, but the photographer turned his phone off. He already knew what Asami wanted from him.
He wanted him to spend time with those kids, but Akihito didn't feel like being emotionally drained today. He didn't feel like putting on a fake smile, so Asami could believe that their make shift family was happy. Nor did he feel like forcing laughter to erupt from his chest, when his chest was nothing but a barren and cold wasteland, that used to hold his beating heart.
But he did feel like drowning in his sorrows. Except, he'd never actually done it before. He hadn't really had much to be that sorry about.
Today, however, things were different. When he saw Kou, he was most defiantly drown in his sorrows, because tonight, he had a lot to be sorry about.
He'd see Kou, and remember how life without Asami was. He'd remember how the pit in his heart, though painful, was bearable and could be filled with the laughter and joy of his family and friends.
He would remember who he was before he agreed to marry Asami, before he agreed to “mother” Asami's chilren.
He would remember what it was like to be him, to be Takaba Akihito. And he would be sorry because he threw it all away to become Asami Akihito.
Placing a hand on the door handle of the glass door, his wedding ring shined as it caught the light of the television from inside.
Three hours past midnight, and the moon hung high in the night sky. Three hours past midnight, and Akihito decided to come back home. It was nearly impossible for him to make it there, almost as impossible as it was for him to keep his wedding ring on at the bar.
But somehow, he had managed both.
Asami was there when he arrived. The older man sat on the table. He clutched his own glass of amber liqiud, and gazed at the photographer with heavy eyes as the young man removed his shoes.
“Where were you?” Began Asami.
Takaba bit back a chuckle. Why was it that he always began to sober up when Asami demanded answers from him? He thought he drank enough to last him throughout the night.
Obviously he was wrong.
The younger man sighed, “I was out with Kou.” What was the point of lying?
“Why didn't you answer your phone?” Inquired Asami, with a serious tone. Takaba rolled his eyes, and turned towards his spouse.
“I was tired after work, and I haven’t seen Kou in like forever,” replied Takaba, as he inwardly pleaded for Asami to leave him alone, “he thought I was dead.”
Asami raised an eyebrow, “Since when did your friendship with Kou outshine the commitment you've agreed to partake in with this family.”
Takaba mirthlessly laughed, and answered the question with a sharp hiss, “Oh Asami! You don't see it do you! This isn't a family! Stop trying to make it one!” The atmosphere dropped.
Asami's expression fluctuated from extremely shocked, to plain pissed. Through his impassive, emotionless mask, a crack dented his facade. Takaba was treading on thin ice, but in all honesty, he believed he'd already fallen too deep into the abyss to cause anymore damage to himself. So he went on.
“Oh, don't look at me like that! You know it's true too! Their mother gave them something that I couldn't! And no one will tell me what the hell it is that I can't do right!” Takaba was so angry now, so incredibly angry, “I'm wasting my damn life with these-” He stopped at the sound of tiny shuffling.
The children had sneaked away from their beds at the sound of their father arguing with Akihito, and now stood in the hallway, looking at the pitiful scene before them.
The daughter leaned on the doorway, her twin brother leaned against her.
Three pairs of golden eyes scowled at Akihito, and he suddenly felt like some poor insect being poked at, and experimented on by some mad merciless scientist.
The feeling made him sick, and took the fight out of him instantly.
“Why the hell do you keep staring at me like I’m some sort of insect?” The younger man was losing his cool, and his shaky hands snaking through his hair was a huge giveaway.
He stepped back towards the door and closed his eyes, he didn't want to live in this house anymore. Nobody here could understand him, and everyone was against him.
He didn't have the willpower to continue on like this. This was going to drive him insane.
“I'm...I have to get out of here,” he muttered under his breath as he backed up. He nearly toppled over his feet.
In his drunken haze, Asami had caught him before he crashed to the ground. Takaba maneuvered his body, so that his hands were pushing against Asami's chest in an attempt to rid himself of the older man. But it didn't work, Asami had grabbed his spouse's wrist, and pulled him close.
The kiss was rough and violent, but Akihito could tell that Asami was only trying to convey good intentions.
But Takaba was tired, he was so incredibly tired of all of this.
For an entire year he had to deal with this, and now Asami was asking more of him?
As for Asami, he was beginning to see the error of his ways. One sadistic glare towards his children had caused them scampering to their rooms.
The two children had come together that night after their father had sent them away with that devilish glare. Akihito was a wedge in their plan to unite their broken family. He needed to be gone! They needed to rid their father of him!
And that would pave way for their mother to come back, and fulfill the role she once played so well. This blond pretended to love them! They knew it, he didn't really love them at all! He just wanted their dad's money! Just like everyone else!
So they crafted a plan to destroy the bond shared by their father and that photographer. It would truly test Asami's patience, and hurt both twins just a little bit.
And when they were done with Akihito,their father would divorce him, and their mother would finally come back.
Weeks passed by after the late night incident, and for once, it actually seemed as if the children were making an effort to adjust to Akihito.
They ate his food when Asami wasn't around, they even greeted him in the morning, and before bed. They attempted casual conversation with him, and even though it was slightly awkward, Akihito indulged in it.
He never hated Asami's children, in fact, he love them. A lot. That's why he agreed to come back to Asami after the entire fiasco with his ex-wife, because he thought he could make things work with them. And up until now, he believed that his choice to come back to Asami was a stupid one.
But things were finally getting better.
That is, until Asami's son pushed his sister off of the bed.
The timing for their plan was perfect. Just right. Their father would be home any second now, and by the time he arrived inside, Takaba would be “caught” red handed.
Speaking of the photographer, Takaba found himself standing in the kitchen, fixing up some sort of lunch that could keep the kids at bay until dinner. He put some salad into a bowl, because he figured they needed something green to eat. He'd been fixing them a lot of sweet as of recent, and supposed Asami wouldn't find it charming to have fat children.
For the first time in forever, an achy sensation throbbed in Akihito's cheeks.
He was smiling because he was happy. He hadn't been happy for an entire year. Things were starting to finally change, they were finally starting to be a family.
He was just about ready to mix the salad, when he heard a “thud” through the walls. He stopped.
This had happened before, and both children were just playing with a ball. They'd been bouncing it against the wall repeatedly.
Or so they had claimed. But Takaba told them to stop earlier that day.
So, with a sigh, he put down his kitchen materials and headed to their room. He couldn't spank them for their behavior, but he could surely scold them.
If anything, these children had brought out his “parental” side, which was a good thing. He wasn't even entirely sure that he had one in the first place.
Suddenly, a high pitched scream erupted from down the hallway. The shrill startled Akihito, and suddenly, he found himself running faster than before in order to see what the commotion was about.
He didn't hear the door open behind him.
Running down the hallway, he nearly slipped as his socked feet made contact with the cold, wooden floor. The screaming was getting closer.
Takaba didn't waste anytime opening the door to the twin's room. Upon his intrusion, however, he was shocked by the scene before him.
Asami's daughter lay on the ground, and above her, on the bed, stood her brother. His arms were outstretched, as if he had pushed her onto the hard floor. The girl was crying, and nursing an injury that was sure to bruise very soon. Akihito ran over to the girl, and fell to his knees in an attempt to calm her down. She had fallen on her arm, and was using her tiny hand to cradle it.
“Hey! What's wrong, where's it hurting?” He grabbed her small arm, and attempted to set her up right. But at the mere touch of the bruising area, the girl cried in pain.
Above her, on the bed, stood her brother, who descended towards the duo. He lunged for his sister, thus successfully separating step-daughter from step-father. Takaba stared at the boy, completely appalled. Why on earth was her brother attacking her? What had provoked him to act like an animal?
He watched as brother attacked sister. Asami wouldn't appreciate it-
Damn Asami's overprotective parenting methods, Takaba would most likely end up hurting one of these kids if he wanted to save Asami's daughter.
In a second, his hand had connected with the young boys stomach, and with a force perhaps to strong to apply to such a small child, he pushed the insane kid away from his sister. The boy toppled to the other side of the room with a thud. Golden eyes opened wide at the photographer, and Takaba simply gazed back.
“Don't act like you didn't deserve it,” Snarled Akihito, “You kids need to be hit every once in a while, at least that way you'd learn some discipline.”
The girl below him smiled. She didn't expect to get these kind of results, not so spot on, not so perfect. But it only worked to her advantage. She looked towards her brother, who had no way expected Akihito to actually touch him.
His breathing was erratic, his eyes were open wide and brimming with tears. He looked at Akihito as if he was the devil.
All three turned towards the doorway, as a tall, dark figure made its way into the room. The girl smiled wider than she had before.
It was her father.
“What's going on in-”
She seized the opportunity.
“Dad! Akihito got mad at us for no reason! He started hitting us!” Cried his daughter, as she wriggled out of Akihito's grip, and stumbled towards her father. Asami caught her as she nearly fell to the ground. However, he looked at her in disbelief, “Sayuri, are you telling me the truth?”
“I..I...” If her lie hadn't won it, than he brother's traumatized expression had. He gasped at the sound of his father's voice.
The older Asami looked towards his son, and the expression on his face changed visibly. The boy looked shaken, and as Akihito slowly stood up, the boy shuffled, and ran to his father. He grabbed
onto his father's pant leg, and buried his teary face into the rough fabric.
The boy was trembling.
“Ugh, I told you before Asami, I didn't hit them!” Hours of interrogation, hours of the same exact answers, and Asami still was having a hard time believing Akihito, the person he married. The photographer paced around the bed room with a reasonable amount of anger in each step. Once or twice he dragged a hand through his thinning hair, and wondered why it hadn’t fallen out yet.
“Then explain the bruises,” retorted the older man, “And you've already admitted to pushign-”
“Yeah, I pushed him off of his sister because he was hurting her-”
“That isn't what she told me, Akihito,” the older man was fighting to control his rage, but the fact that Akihito, whom he had trusted with his life, was even suspected of touching his children, was enough to set him off, “Please, I advise you, to chose your next words very carefully.”
Takaba stopped, and turned on his heels. He was staring dead at Asami now, and his angry eyes were surprisingly dry. He supposed he'd spent too much energy on being angry, rather than being sad. He wasn't going to win this battle, not this time.
It was his word against their word, and Asami was going to chose their word.
“I've already told you everything that happened,” Akihito said silently, “Yes, I pushed your son away, but that's because he was hurting his sister...they hate me Asami, they want me gone. Whether you believe-”
“And the ramblings of a madman grow more desperate by the second,” cooed the older man, though his gaze was far from amusing, “Akihito.”
Takaba brought a hand to the bridge of his nose, and nodded at the summon.
“I honestly don't know what to believe anymore. You've had no patience for them since I allowed you back in. All you've done is complain about how they don't accept you, yet I hardly see you take the time to get to know them. Perhaps it is you who hates them. I figured over time, things would get better...but today, my daughter comes to me with bruises on her arm, and my son is nearly traumatized because you pushed him into a wall. Perhaps Akihito,” Asami sighed, and closed his own eyes, “You should leave for just-”
Takaba was seething. His lip was bleeding from his teeth tearing into it as Asami spewed lies about him and his relationship with the kids.
“Fuck you Asami! You only see whatever the hell they let you see! I'm the one who has to pick them up from school, who has to stay here with them on the weekends, take them places, or do whatever the hell you're supposed to do, but you can't because you're somewhere else! You wanna complain about me not giving them time to adjust to me? But what about my fucking time to adjust to them, or this entire fucking household?” he didn't even look at Asami, the tears were clouding his vision, “Ever since i've met you, i've haven't gotten one fucking say on how I want to live my life! It's either you throw me away, or pick me up! I hate it Asami, but I could deal with it! This...with these kids, this is just too much though. I love them Asami, and I try, I fucking try but i'm not their mother-”
“Don't you dare cut me off!” His voice was cracking with sobs now, but he didn't care, “Why don't you set up some damn plan with their mom so they can at least be happy! I at least want that for them, even if they are lying about me! Maybe it's just better with me out of the picture...God I hate this, I don't want to live like this Asami!I just...I just-”
“Should leave,” Asami replied with a tight voice, “Just stay with-”
Takaba was gone, out of the bedroom, before Asami could finish his sentence.
“If I let you stay, he's not gonna kill me, is he?” Kou attempted to add a little light to the gloomy situation, although, his question wasn't entirely a carefree one. It was common knowledge between Takaba's small circle of friends who Akihito was married to. And though no one would be able to tell by just looking at Akihito, he was indeed married to one of Japan's richest men. However, that was not the path that his friends wanted him to take, not at all.
Akihito shrugged, “I don't think he cares enough about me to care...I don't know if I do either.”
Kou opened the door, and allowed his depression friend to walk through. The small, silver ring still shone in the sunlight.
“Are you two still...together, Takaba?” Kou hadn't called him by his married name, and until he believed his friend's relationship with that man was real, he would continue to call him Takaba. The blond never seemed to protest.
“I guess,” Akihito sounded slightly deflated, “I just...”
Because Takaba was practically loaded when it came to wealth, he decided to take his friend's out eating at an upscale restaurant. Akihito was never one to actually spend the money that he'd gained after his marriage with Asami, much to the Crime Lord's dismay. Takaba didn't like spending money because he had so little to begin with. To him, spending money seemed like taking money for granted.
But this time was different, this time wasn't for him. He was doing this for his friends, so that they could at least pretend that he was okay.
He'd invited Takato, his wife and his youngest daughter to eat out with he and Kou. They had happily obliged. Takato's daughter, who had taken a particular liking in Akihito just a month after she was born, had climbed into the photographer's lap, and place her hands on the table above her. Takaba's hands were wrapped around her tiny torso.
She reminded him of her older sister, who was slightly fond of the photographer.
The three chatted about their daily lives, and all the while, Akihito softly drummed on this child's stomach.
He let his mind drift away, away to the time when he first told his friends he was choosing to get back with Asami.
“He has kids Aki, real, live kids!” Takato made it a point to drill that fact into Takaba's soft head, “You'll be taking care of them too! Trust me, it's not easy! Especially if it's not something you want to do in the first place!”
Takaba sat down on Kou's bed, and above him, his two friends lectured him about his choice to marry Asami. The photographer refused to make eye contact with the men above him.
“He's just using you Aki! Why can't you see that? He threw you away to marry some woman, had kids, and now he's done with her!” Shouted Kou, “What makes you two different? It's certainly not that ring on your finger Aki!”
“He could by millions of those if he wanted to, and they mean the same thing to every person who wears them. Nothing!” Hissed Takato, who took notice of his friends ignorant gaze, “Takaba, we just can't see you hurt again. Not by him!”
“Y-you've been doing so well Aki, and we know it's been hard for you, but you've come a long way,” Kou knelt down, and squeezed Takaba's palms. He looked him in the eyes.
“Please Akihito...don't do this to us...don't do this to yourself.”
Kou's fingers brushed over the steel engagement ring that was placed around Akihito's finger. He wanted to rip the piece of scrap metal off of his friend's hand, and toss it in a toilette and flush it away.
Hopefully, he could flush Asami away too.
But that was nearly impossible, as Akihito was drunk off of Asami's love. He craved it so badly that he forced himself to ignore the lie that was standing before him.
“Things are different this time...” muttered the blond, “He says he loves me,” he looked up towards Kou, “He's never said that before!”
“Ugh Takaba, does that even mean anything to him? You told us before that he had sex with you just because he felt like it! You're just in denial-”
“I'm not denial!” Roared the blond as he stood up, “I can make my own damn decis-”
“If you could make your own “damn decisions” than you wouldn't be in this mess in the first place!” Retorted Takato, whose voice bore just as much volume as Akihito's, “Are you trying to drive yourself crazy?”
“Yelling isn't going to fix anything,” still on his knees, Kou turned towards his two friends, “Just let him do whatever he wants to do.”
Takaba blinked as something wet touched his finger. He looked down at his hand, and smiled at the small toddler who was chewing his finger. She looked up at him with beady eyes, and beat her tiny hands upon his larger ones.
Suddenly, a small drip of moisture fell atop of her large forehead. She blinked. Another drip. The little girl brought her chubby hand to her forehead, and smeared the tears off of her head. She smiled.
And Akihito tried to smile too, but the tears just wouldn’t stop falling.
With one hand still wrapped around the chubby girl, Takaba brought his free on to his mouth, and began to cry. His shoulder's shook, his breathing grew erratic, and he began taking long steady breaths in an attempt to calm himself. He closed his eyes tightly, though the tears continued to squeeze their way out of his shut lids.
His friends had been right. They had been so fucking right.
His wailing garnered the attention of his friends, who upon hearing him, lost track of their conversation. They turned towards Akihito, who was falling apart.
It was a little over a month, and things were starting to get a little better. Kou didn't allow Akihito to leave his apartment though. No one actually trusted him enough to be by himself, much to his annoyance. However, Takaba didn't mind Kou's company, and neither did Kou mind his.
Every now and then, he'd babysit Takato's daughter, which wasn't a problem for him. She adored him, and he adored her. Despite the gigantic age gap between he and the baby, he kind of considered them to be close friends. Whenever he was alone with her, he spoke to her about how he felt, and how screwed up his life was.
He spared her the gruesome details, as she wasn't old enough to comprehend the situation he was stuck in.
Speaking of his situation, he wasn't entirely sure where his marriage stood.
Every now and then, he'd lay down, with his back against the floor, and Takato's tiny daughter sitting on his stomach, just bouncing up and down with each breath he took. He would think about what Asami was doing with his children. Would they be happier without him, would they be meeting their mother?
Would Akihito be forgotten? Was Akihito being forgotten?
There hadn't been any guards at his door to force him back to Asami, nor had their been any calls or letters of any sort from Asami. Every once and a while, Akihto would remove his ring to test his own commitment, but would find himself returning it to his finger just seconds later. He wondered if Asami had tossed his in the trash can.
He probably had, it was just a shame that Akihito couldn't throw his own ring away.
Until death finally came to claim him, and his body had decayed under the harsh conditions of earth, would his ring finally slip off of his finger for good. Until then, he was keeping it. It actually meant something to him.
Akihito's account had been frozen days after he withdrew a subtle amount of cash from it. Obviously, the freezing was Asami's doing. Maybe it was his way of telling Akihito that things were finally over, that they both needed to move on.
So he attempted to do just that.
Takaba had taken up photography again, and when he wasn't babysitting Takato's infant daughter, or picking up her older sister from school, he was always taking pictures. Occasionally, he would team up with Mitari, and than other times, he would work by himself.
Photography served as a major distraction from the terrible life that he had chosen for himself. Since he started working again, he began to take pictures of other, non-human subjects. He took photos of plants, and of animals. Sometimes, when it was so sunny, that the morning dew shone off of the grass like miniature diamonds, the photographer would fall to his elbows and knees and snap an innocent shot of tiny insects.
They lived in their own world.
Sometimes, he was very jealous of them.
These brainless, emotionless insects were his inspiration. They died without living, and they lived without dying. They lived life in a sequence, everything was planned, nothing unexpected that they couldn't handle.
Akihito lived the exact opposite of that.
He didn't know what to expect the next day, or what was going to happen the day after that. He lived in fear and in anticipation.
He hated it.
Nearly six months had gone by, and things were starting to readjust themselves. Takaba had finally convinced his friends that he could live alone, and with the little money he earned from photography, and the other small amount he withdrew from his account, he was living in his own apartment again. It reminded him of old times.
He invited his friends over frequently to eat and to hang out. Occasionally, he would babysit Takato's daughters in his apartment when he was free.
Needless to say, Akihito was readjusting, and things were getting better.
That is until Kou broke his camera.
Kou wasn't a photographer, and Kou would never be a photographer. Despite that, he believed he was smart enough to operate Takaba's camera. Akihito, being the friend he was, allowed him to use it.
Not only did Kou jam the film, he dropped it, and the lens shattered.
It was Takato's wife who offered to get the lens replaced.
“The hospital I work at is next to a top notch technology repair place,” she had said, as she invited all of the boys into the car, “And consider it my treat, Takaba. You've been watching our kids, and you've invited us out to dinner. Besides, I got a raise yesterday.”
Takato's wife was one of the head doctors at the hospital she worked at , so picking up the camera tab wasn't incredibly hard for her.
She could do it.
It had been a while since Akihito had traveled deep into the heart of Shinjuku. Since his separation with Asami, he avoided the district at all cost. However, his friends had convinced him that just this once, he should swallow his fear, and delve into the district with them.
Besides, that's where the expensive electronic repair shop was.
It was midday, and many people were out and about. Akihito kept his gaze glued to his feet as he trailed behind his group of friends. Takato held his tiny daughter in his arms, while his older one fell back, and walked slightly in front of Takaba.
Every so often, she looked over her shoulder at Akihito, and quickly turned away with a blush. He would just smile to himself, as he remembered being around her age, and having crushes on women that were old enough to be his mother.
He had volunteered to take all of them out to see a movie after the repair shop, and though he was no longer living off of he and Asami's shared account, he had just enough to spare for some cheap form of entertainment.
The sidewalks of Shinjuku were pouring with civilians. It was to be expected of such a populated area. Because she was so small, and because they were heading into a crowded area, Akihito had closed the distance gap between he and Takato's daughter. The brunette looked up at him with a blush, and snaked her tiny fingers around his.
As they bypassed more pedestrians and families, the girl made an effort to press her tiny body against Takaba's larger one, in order to stay close to the group.
With every step he took, his camera, which was hung on a lanyard around his neck, bounced up and down. The small girl looked up at the dark piece of technology.
“...You want to hold it? I mean, it's broken, but you can still hold it,” Akihito removed the lanyard from around his neck, and offered it to the younger Takato, “I can show you how to-”
On the other side of the street, exactly opposite of where Takaba was standing, spilled a large group of people onto. He supposed that his constant feet gazing had made it nearly impossible for him to intake his complete surroundings, but now, as he handed the tiny girl his camera, he was surprised by the buzz going on around him.
They had passed a rather large restaurant, which was notorious for catering to the richest men and women of Japan. Akihito had snapped some photos there before.
Had he known they were going that way, he would have opted out immediately. For out of the corner of his eyes, Akihito caught the familiar glint of a rather large limousine pulling up on the street near the sidewalk, where the group was now standing.
“How do I use it...” The girl's questions flew deaf on Akihito's ears, as the presence of his estranged spouse had suddenly caught his eyes.
Takaba's heart froze as two identical children poured out of crowd, pushed through the large number of elites, and hopped to their father's side. Asami himself spoke with another, well dressed man, who most likely was a business partner of his. The twins stalled at their father's side, leaning into his pant legs.
Takaba tore his gaze away from the group, as many members had already floated into the car, thus, allowing a clear view between Akihito, the street, and Asami.
As Takaba knelt down to instruct the tiny girl on the mechanics of his camera, he made sure his back was turned to the crime lord. Though Asami hadn't seen him yet, he didn't feel like taking any chances.
“It's easy...” he forced through his chattering teeth, “Just click this button when you...when you want to take pictures, and here, you can adjust the...”
Yes, talking about cameras made him feel comfortable. If only he could continue doing so until Asami got in the car.
Takato, Kou, and Takato's wife, Kotomi, had walked back at the sudden absence of two important members of their group. Seeing that Akihito was somewhat adjusting, they smiled to each other, and hi-fived in the air.
Takato's infant daughter tried to join as well, but her chubby, short arm couldn't reach that high.
The group chuckled, thus successfully earning Akihito's attention.
He made the mistake of turning towards his friends, only to redirect his gaze to Asami, and his children who stood on the other side of the street.
Family...they were a family. A family that Akihito yearned to be apart of, but couldn't, because he was him. A pain, unlike any other welled up in his chest, as he watched from as distance as Asami patted his young daughter’s head fondly, and patted his son on the back.
His gut felt heavy, and his breathing grew uneven. He imagined himself tenderly touching those children, like a parent. Kissing them on the forehead, reading them bedtimes stories, playing with them, cooking for them, and just loving them! Takaba wanted that more than anything. He wanted he, Asami and the twins to be a perfect family.
But that was an illusion, a silly fantasy thought up by Akihito. Too much had been done to deter their affection from their mother, and Akhito was not their mother. He never would be.
He was once again drowning in his own self pity.
The sound of hot rubber screeching against the pavement silenced the little girl, but heightened Akihito's senses tenfold. Down the street, hurling through the air as fast as a bullet, sped a large, black car. The windows were tinted, the licenses plates were gone.
Takaba chanced a glance at the limo, who upon Asami's order, had began to drive off without he an his family.
He hadn't noticed the car yet, the car that was coming straight towards him and his kids.
Without much thought, Akihito ran through the street in a second, and from the corner of his eyes, he could see the suspicious looking vehicle slow down slightly, just enough to lower the window.
Now Asami noticed it, and noticed a red faced, panting Akihto as well. The photographer slid in front of the businessman, his family, and his business partner, and braced himself for searing pain that was sure to come.
Loud like thunder and ringing like dinner bell, five gunshots when off.
Two missed their targets, and the other three found themselves embedded into Akihito's body. And if that wasn't enough, the car drove up on the curve, and charged straight towards Asami. Asami pulled at his son, and moved him out of the way instantly. His daughter, however, had brought a hand to her mouth, as the car came straight towards her.
Evil or not, Akihito still loved Asami's kids with all of his heart, and not even the shit they put him through could destroy what he felt for them.
He was prepared to die for Sayuri. Throwing caution to the wind, Akihito stumbled in front of her.
Silence ensued, and to them, the situation stopped, as if someone had just pressed the pause button on the fatal scene.
He smiled at her, and for the two of them, it seemed like time froze in place. Akihito took the chance the mutter his unspoken apology, because he was almost certain that this would be the last time he saw her.
I'm sorry I couldn't be who you wanted me to be, but no matter what, I still love all three of you- Takaba pushed her back with all of his might. Her tiny body flew into Asami, and the large car ran over Akihto. Bones broke like glass, organs crushed like a rotting apples, and clashed into each other like angry waves. Like that of a child shuffling his tiny feet through a bed of gravel, Akihito's fragile insides were mixed and matched with one another, causing the photographer unimaginable bouts of pain. The car backed off of him, and reversed into the street.
There was blood everywhere.
Kotomi was already on her knees, her white jeans staining with the blood pouring from Akihito's body. She began to rip bits and pieces of her blouse off, and cover what she could. But there were three bullet wounds, and the thin pieces of her blouse were doing nothing. She called to her daughter, who threw the camera off of her neck, as she ran over to her mother to help her with the medical procedure.
She wanted to be a doctor anyway.
“Hotaru, I need you to put your hands here, and here, press down as hard as you can, okay! Takato-Christ honey, wake up!” Her husband, upon seeing his friend at the brink of death, fell face first onto the concrete. Luckily, his youngest daughter had been free of her father's clutches before he fell. Kou quickly ran to the baby, and picked her up.
He looked down at the morbid scene below him. Akihito had stilled, his face was pale, and his eyes were closed.
The two Takato's worked hard to suppress his bleeding, but it didn't look like Akihito would make it through this time.
Meanwhile, the photographers mind drifted off into another world.
“I want to start-”
“If this is you apologizing Asami, I don't want to hear it! I'm not about to become your mistress! Not this time, you're married already, you have twins! It's over! Why are you even trying!?”
“We're divorced, Akihito. I've told you this-”
“And that changes things? I'm sorry Asami, you can't just come to me when you feel like it, and drop me when you're bored! No, it doesn't work that way! You obviously wanted something I couldn't give you, and now you have it! So just leave me alone already, okay!”
They sat at a table, outside of a near empty restaurant. After months of denied phone calls and endless text messages from Asami, which practically begged the photographer to meet up with him, Akihito had finally given in. Why he even entertained the idea of showing up, he hadn't a clue. But he was here now, meeting Asami face to face for the first time in forever.
The entire meeting seemed so...surreal. Just four years ago, Asami had left him, had gotten married, and had kids. No thanks to his treacherous bitch of a wife, the marriage had fallen through, leaving Asami spousesless , and craving the man that he had abandoned years ago.
“I can't leave you alone, Akihito,” spoke the older man, as he rubbed the side of Akihito's face,”Living without you has been hell.”
Against his better judgment, the photographer snaked his fingers along Asami's hand, and pressed the larger man's limb closer to his face. He closed his eyes and sighed.
“Than why did you leave?”
“...Because I didn't believe in what we had...”
Takaba opened his eyes, and recoiled from Asami, “W-what hell does that mean? Was everything between us a fucking joke?”
“No, of course not Akihito. I don't think you're understanding me correctly. I was unsure of what we felt, I did not want to label it in fear of internal weakness...I did not want to fall in love with you.”
With misted eyes, the younger man stared at Asami, “You left, got married, had kids all because you didn't want to love me? Was I that terrible to be around?”
“I never loved her, Akihito,” the man brushed a tear off of Akihto's cheek, “Only you. I was just too foolish to realize that. I've made a mistake-”
“Hell yeah you have!” The photographer choked out, “And I don't know if I’m willing to help you finish this, how do I know-”
It was Asami's turn to cut the younger man off this time. The Crime Lord seized Akihito's trembling hand, and slipped a cool, silver band on the ring finger.
Tears rolled down Akihito's cheeks, and obscured his vision. However, the sheen of the metal still shone through his gaze.
“A..Asami, what the hell...”
For the first time in forever, the older man sitting across from him looked very unsure of himself, and almost doubtful.
“Marry me?” It was weak, and small, and slightly embarrassing, but it was all Asami had to offer. Because too much, or too little would have deterred Akihito all together.
The younger man stared at the band. Saying yes sealed his fate, saying yes would change his life completely.
For better of for worse. Asami had kids, Akihito wasn't ready to be a parent...but he wanted a family, and Asami wanted him in his family. He wanted them to be happy together.
And even if Akihito did say no, did he have much of a choice regarding his freedom?
So he did what he believed to be right.
“Y..yes!” Cried the photographer, “Of course you idiot! But you're gonna have to make this up to me...because these few years haven't been easy you know, i've had a lot of shit i've had to...to...”
Akihito's sobs prevented him from finishing his complaint, and Asami had seized the moment to walk over to his fiance's side of the table, lean down, and kiss him.
That was one of Akihito's happiest, fondest memories. And the last memory he had before he succumbed to the darkness.