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The Fog of Fame

Chapter Text

Colours flashed from every direction, the crowd cheered greatly, waving around their yellow glow-sticks in their shrill applause. Some were even shouting my name.

"Leeeen!"

"Len! I'm your greatest faaan!"

Girls squeaked from left, right and below. Thousands of people attended that day, believing they were our fans – my fans – believing they knew everything about us – about me.

They know nothing!

The 'Len' they knew was not me, nothing. It was nothing more than a persona they had built up. An expensive façade created for the illusion of their own twisted minds.

A clenching feel grew in my heart, one that would drive me to finally break this mad performance, break me free from the bars my managers have placed for me.

The music played——the spotlight appeared on me——I held my microphone still, parallel to the ground as I slowly released all my anger, my frustration, built up under years of concealment. I smashed the device on the stage; the speakers screeched and the crowd gasped, almost as if in staged unison.

I took a final deep breath as I finally announced under my own voice, "This show——IS OVER!"

I ran through the curtains backstage, met by the vicious, malicious wrath of my own damned sister, furious that I had ruined her show; though it was not.

"What are you doing!?"

"Get out there and fix what you've done, you ungrateful brat!" The famous twin-tailed girl told demeaningly. Oh, if only they knew what really happens backstage, their real personalities.

"I'm doing what I want!" I told them sharply. Everyone gathered around me, putting up and clear their annoyed selfish faces, full of amusing frustration – it was now my turn to enjoy and bask in their shattered visage, broken under the effect of their fury and perhaps even their own excessive make-up.

Suited men then arrived, composed under their own design as they whispered to one another of my misbehaviour. I took my chance to break out and run. Run somewhere, anywhere they – or anyone who knew that disgusting, fake 'Len' for that matter – would not find me.

 

 

Chapter Text

After what felt like a few hours of nonstop cycling, I had finally arrived at my target location.

I stopped by our old abandoned home, a traditional countryside house just outside Tokyo, where we lived before any of this happened. It was never sold. Though the real reason was much less touching than one might think: neglect. After all, what was a small shabby house to a millionaire diva like my sister?

The door creaked open as I pushed and the room smelled of dirt and dust and rotting wood. It still felt much like home to me. I took a moment to reminisce the faint memories of my innocent childhood: of happily playing and arguing with my sister on who gets to play on the game console next. Who would ever guess she would turn out this way? I surely didn't.

I rummaged through my old closet and found myself an undamaged albeit dusty pair of plain white tops and black shorts, I did not hesitate to change. I ripped off the 02 sticker off my arms – the others had tattoos, though I never let them give me one – and I pulled the band off my hair, letting it all fall down in place. It was a shame, I had always preferred my hair up, but not getting caught was top priority.

Perhaps it was enough, nobody had, after all, seen me in other than my official, extravagant, approved for use outfits, but it was smart to be safe. I grabbed a pair of shades, put them on, and inspected myself in the mirror, twisted my hips, checked my back, then finally returning to a little pose. Surely nobody would recognise me this way.

I knew It was unsafe for me to stay in there for much longer, they would inevitably come and check, but it was late, I was utterly exhausted from my earlier rebellious act and the continuous cycling that came with it. It was for the morrow that I would finally be completely free from the constraints of the contract I never signed nor agreed to. Though that day alone had made me feel very excited, ecstatic in fact to the point I giggled spontaneously every two or so moments in the comfort of my soft futon bed.

Tomorrow will be a great day!

 

Chapter Text

I woke up to the gaudy effect of the sun's morning rays, piercing through the windows, through my eyes. Though it was not my preferred way of being woken up, it was still preferable to say—the shrill shriek of your annoying twin sister, by your bed, at 4am.

I got up and ready, grabbing a small bag filled with only my necessities before leaving out the main door. I saw kids with genuine smiles plastered on their faces running off to school, some were saying 'bye' to their mother. It had been so long since I felt so... normal; and it feels good. I stretched and yawned, taking in as much of the fresh, unpolluted, unperfumed air as I could, even my lungs agreed with me.

I took a stroll down the earthen road, sightseeing as they call it, watching people going on with their normal daily lives, allowing myself to bask under the magnificence of their simplicity. Then a thought occured to me, Why couldn't I have been born as one of those children instead?

I stopped for a moment, noticing an unusual, scrounchy feeling inside my belly. Hungry? Or...? I took a moment to pause and ponder, then lightly shook my head, catching a sign at the corner of my eye: コンビニ.

I entered the store and immediately found half of its shelves stocked with varieties of food I had barely even remembered existed at all: Rice balls, pork buns, and even fried chicken. I took a moment to just see everything again, as if seeing were enough to sate my tastelust accumulated from my years of being confined.

A drop of saliva dripped on the left corner of my mouth as my mind bolted back to reality. It was then I heard a small, shy voice from my left, "I-I'm sorry." It was from a boy who looked certainly no older than me, and perhaps even younger, dressed adequately but no more. He slowly, face down, walked past me, reached up and placed a little rice ball back on the cooling shelf, walking away in vivid disappointment.

He-

I took the rice ball.. and another for myself, walked up to the cashier, placed the exact amount of money – a measly ¥200 – before running off to catch up.

"Hey!" I called out to the boy; to which he immediately turned to me in surprise, curiosity in his eye; I noticed then he had bandages: on his head, his legs, and probably a few other places.

"Here," I handed the food to him, "Have it."

He frantically waved his hands close to him, "N-No, I-I can't possibly-"

"Nonsense, just take it, kay?" I smiled, my mind seemed to have wandered a little on its own however, as it made an unwarranted little comment, he's cute. It really wasn't a big deal though as I had by then seen plenty of other people, handsome, pretty, and almost as cute.

He stumbled his grip as he gently took the plastic-wrapped ball off my hands, took a few quick glances at me and shifted slightly every few seconds in what I presume to be guilt. "Th-thank you." He spoke meekly, though it was evident in his tone that he had tried to speak up.

"No problem."

Though I did not know why, it suddenly occurred in me to ask, "Do you have a place to stay?"

The boy looked shyly away, replying more quietly than he had before, stuttering and stumbling on every word he spoke, "I-I'm l-lost a-actually."

"Do you know where you live?"

He nodded, "Up north;" he told, "ju-just outside Sendai."

That's... pretty far away.

"How did you-?"

"W-We stayed here for the holidays, I— g-got lost in the train station on our way home."

It was then I noticed that his voice had gotten even fainter, much fainter than when he first spoke in fact; and that he had slowly backed himself away into a wall; he was almost glued to it! Damn, was I too nosy?  I took another moment to inspect his features: from his golden blonde hair to his soft, little feet... bare – covered only by a thin few wraps of bandages, nothing else. He must have been lost for a while.

"Let's get you home." I smiled.

 

 

Chapter Text

It was at the height of noon when we finally arrived at the station. It took a few tries but eventually, I was able to guide us through with my phone's trusty GPS. Speaking of which, should probably be turned off in case they could track it.

I bought both of us the tickets with my cash – cards would have been far too risky and I brought quite a lot with me anyway – The little boy was reluctant of me paying for him at first, but with enough convincing, he ultimately agreed... with a little pout.

It was when we got on the bullet train – which was quite empty – and secured our seats that we finally made another exchange. "Say," I started as the train picked up speed, fixing my gaze in front of me as I spoke, "I still don't know your name."

"I-It's Oliver." He stammered, guilt still evident in his tone and expression.

"That's a nice name." I commented in a breathy hemi-demi-whisper.

"Wh—" He paused, thought for a quick second before he continued, "What's yours?"

Panic quietly ran through me as I contemplated, Should I tell him? No, it is much too risky.

"R-" Quick, Len! Say it before it gets too suspicious! "Rinto!" I told in what sounds to be almost an exclamation or a shout.

"N-Nice to meet you, Rinto," He smiled cheerfully for a quick moment—before guilt overtook his appearance once more, "I'm sorry for causing you trouble."

"It's okay." I told him, "I'd-" You what? You can't tell him THAT! "I do like visiting new places anyway."

A faint smile formed on his lips, one that signified comfort and content. "Thank you," He said, laying back on his reclined chair. It was then that I finally could hear his voice: sweet, smooth, soothing; like fine mild, mellow icing on a delightful little cupcake. He could make a good singer, but it was probably for the best that he wasn't.

I watched out the window; trees, bushes, mountains whizzed past as tunnels made to be frames of their aesthetic beauty. I watched the blooming flowers, petals falling, glittering down trees; I saw the rivers flow, with pristine, crystal-clear water, no speck out of place. Then I turned to the view sitting beside me, a calm Oliver, sleeping gently, breathing softly, peacefully, rounded with his plump little cheeks enigmatically wrapped under those mysterious white bandages.

The boy was cute. That was a fact I knew true. But was I actually attracted to him? To the boy I met mere hours ago? No, not yet. It was much too soon to make such a definitive statement.

The rest of the ride had not been very eventful, though the scenes mesmerised me nonetheless. Oliver woke up eventually, three-quarters through the ride, but we didn't speak of much. Instead, we sat awkwardly side by side, glances exchanged every two or so moments, till it finally broke as the train reached our destination.

"This is it," I spoke, almost stuttered, "Sendai."

"Yeah," he lightly nodded, avoiding my eyes.

We got off the train and almost immediately, I saw Oliver's eye dilate as his mouth formed a little round 'o', I noticed in his reaction that he recognised the place. I raised my brow and looked at him expectantly, "you know your way home?"

He nodded, grabbed my right hand and began walking, almost running, visibly containing his excitement to probably see his family. "H-hey, wait!" I told him, barely catching up in my pace. Oliver slowed down at notice, an iota of guilty giggles escaping his lips as he apologised, letting go of my hand.

I followed him out the station, 'round a few corners, through many crossings, and I watched it unfold before me: the rapid change from the blinding lights of the bustling city to the dimly lit paths of the peaceful countryside. Oliver made no sign of stopping though. It had been almost an hour of walking, maybe more, and the last house we passed had already been long gone.

The boy continued to trek through the thick vegetation, and I, of course, had to follow; he swept away branches, cleared logs, walked through bushes with ease while I— I had already been discouraged since even my first splinter, a mere scratch.

"Oliver," I finally voiced my petty, whiny concerns, "is this really the right way?"

I saw his dark figure quietly placing a finger on his mouth, silently shushing me before making a quick, light nod; Clearing the final few obstacles in his path with swift agility.

It was when I caught up to him when I could finally see below: a neatly scattered collection of houses, covered lightly with the last few thin layers of snow from the end of winter; mellow yellow lights lighting up its otherwise shrouded features of antique wooden carpentry.

"You—you live here?" I felt the words pour out of my mouth in disbelief.

"Yeah," He replied softly, "it's a nice place isn't it?"

I felt for a mere split of a second a warm feeling surging intensely inside me as Oliver placed his soft hand on mine, fighting away the coldness that had consumed me. —What?

Oliver broke out in a run, pulling me behind him as he navigated his way through the quiet town. We stopped at a particularly large—all things considered—house near the centre; Oliver knocked thrice loudly, then took a quick deep breath... then exhaled slowly through his rounded lips, his eyes closed as he prepped himself for the imminent reunion.

The door shook, clicked and opened, revealing two adults, faces painted in complete utter shock, almost quite pale – though that could have been purely their genes – stepping slowly towards the shrunken boy beside me.

"Oliver? You—you're here!" The woman spoke in disbelief, placing her hand on the boy's little cheek, tears falling from her eyes.

"And who's this boy here?" She turned to me.

"He helped me, mum." Oliver answered with a light blush – presumably from the cold – dusting his cheeks, "He brought me here."

"Thank you, err-"

"Le-Rinto!" I stuttered, almost giving away my real name.

"Well thank you, Rinto." She smiled, "You're quite welcome to stay the night with us if you'd like."

"That would be great, thank you." I bowed, glancing towards an ecstatic Oliver.

"Show him to your room." I heard her whisper, to which he nodded happily and motioned for me to follow.

 

Chapter Text

After we had laid the futon down on the matted floor and tidied up the otherwise cluttered room, we both dropped splat onto our beds, exhausted from our day-long journey. I took a moment to reassess my situation, This may be a good place to lay low for a while. I took a peek at Oliver, who himself had been pondering on some of his own thoughts. I felt my heart tremble, beating rapidly as I contemplated on whether or not I should ask him. I wouldn't want to be of a nuisance, but on the other hand I really need to—

It was then I noticed a gentle poke on my left arm, "R-Rinto..."

I sat up and looked to see it was Oliver, tears welling in his eyes as he waited for my response. "Yes?"

"Nobody has— Nobody has ever done that for me, y'know." He cried silently.

"I'm sure anybody woul-"

"But they didn't!" He asserted, "Nobody before you."

I was at a loss, effectively paralysed, I couldn't think of a single word – let alone a sentence – that would be appropriate in that situation. I merely placed my hand on his shoulder to comfort him as his tears continued to slide down his pale soft cheek.

"I... I don't want you to leave," He mumbled, muffled in the effect of his tears, "b-but that... that would be selfish of me—"

I chuckled lightly, to which he turned to me in surprise. "I'm not leaving yet, Oliver." I told him, "I might stay at a local inn, stay for a bit and get to— well, see the place."

"Really?" He lit up, "Then, then we still get to see each other?" A smile formed on his face as he suggested, "You could stay here, y'know, mum wouldn't mind."

"Really?"

"Yeah!"

We laughed together, chuckling, giggling to lighten up the mood. Once we had sufficiently calmed ourselves down, Oliver crawled back onto his bed, laid down, curled up in the comfort of under his blanket and yawned as his previous tears turned to ones of tiredness. "I hope we can be good friends... Good night, Len," He yawned once more before switching off the lights to end the night.

Friends..?

I like the sound of that.

"Night, Oliver." I replied with what sounded like a held-back yawn, laying my head on the smooth soft pillow, scented lightly of roses and alike; there was no other moment I could remember then that I felt so calm, so peaceful; it wasn't for long before my thoughts melted away, dissolved in the comfort of my new temporary home as I finally fell adream.

 

***

 

I watched the lush green scenery before me...

A soft angelic voice called for an unknown name... "R-Rinto..."

Who is that?    Who are they calling?

"Wa-Wake up!"

Was there an accident?    What happened?

Suddenly, I felt a soft touch on my arm, which seemed to have come from nothing nor anyone in particular. I noticed a slit of bright light in vision before my eyes shot open, a little blonde boy of twelve staring cutely down at me.

That's right...

"Rinto!" He beamed, "y-you're awake!"

"Yeah," I sat up, holding my head as I fought my morning sleepiness.

"Sorry, mum told me to wake you up," He spoke, his hands locked as he moved left-to-right-to-left in an awkward series of motion, "breakfast will be ready soon," He said, shyly.

"Right."

...

I stood up and shivered, "It's cold today, huh?"

He nodded, "yeah."

We fiddled around the room until Oliver's mother called us for breakfast, to which we raced down – I won by a step – for food. The blonde woman chuckled at our little competition, ruffled Oliver's hair to his dissent, and allowed us our meal, setting a few plates and chopsticks on the wooden table beside.

We made a few exchanges that morning – on the differences of city life. It was then I learned that they had come from England, and had immigrated no more than a few years ago to escape the harsh urban life for a more serene environment... just like me. And it was then that I noticed the slight irregularities of their Japanese, which I would have otherwise considered to be the effect of one of the many dialects—but they were still learning!

"Oh, right!" Oliver exclaimed suddenly, "mum!"

"Yes, dear?"

"Can Rinto stay over?" He entreated.

We looked to her for a response as she weighed the choices for a quick moment. Then I saw her mouth finally open. "I don't see why not," she replied to my relief. I felt myself smile. I looked to Oliver to see he had done the same, we smiled together, and such a precious moment it was; it made me happy to see he was happy that I could stay, though the reason was not yet anywhere near the boundary of love, it was still much more innocent than that: friendship!

 

Chapter Text

I sat there. Naked. As the gushing water from above rinsed off the layers of dirt and soap from my skin.

<<< 

"Mom! Can we go to the sentō again?"

"Sure, why don't you go with Rinto?" 

>>> 

I scrubbed my chest, my back, my arms once more to ensure I had cleaned myself properly.

<<<

"Why are we going outside for a bath?" I had asked.

Oliver looked to me with a tilted head and clearly baffled face. "Don't you know about public baths?"

I remember my face reddening so to speak, I blushed at the mere thought of bathing in public, let alone what I had yet to confirm. "W-we do still wear our boxers in right? Or swimwear?"

I remember the face he made: it was in essence, a look of pure shock and puzzle. "N-No, we don't." He had told.

>>>

I looked to my right, Oliver, just as uncovered as I was, a few light scars visible on his skin where his bandages used to be. He stood up as he finished his shower; I took in his form through the thin mist between us: petite, with mellow curves which somehow accentuated his mature immaturity. I couldn't help but to glance at his little organ – soft, covered – I shifted my view as fast as I could but it was too late, I could feel my own grow erect as the water stopped pouring, the only thing left that could cloud the view was the thin vapour mist from the bubbling pool behind. I hope nobody sees this.

I shifted uncomfortably, pressing the button for the shower to run once again in hopes that nobody would notice. I held my hands over it, let the water rain down on my head, and closed any gaps between my thighs that could leak a view.

...

"Rinto, come on in, it's really good in here." I froze still. What should I do?

I looked back to him to reply, but then I noticed: nobody else was there. It was as if the vast steaming pool had been reserved for us only. So now, it was only him.

Surely he wouldn't think much of it.

After all, we are both boys.

And everyone else does this too, right?

I stood up, turned back and made my way gawkily to the pool, covering the view with my hands though nobody was there to see. I immersed my feet first. warm... and the rest of me followed suit... though it IS still slightly uncomfortable down there. I sought to calm myself down, clearing my mind of any unwanted thoughts, dissolving them into the perfectly heated water that soaked me.

...

"Rinto?"

"Yeah?" I peeked with only my left eye.

"It's nice isn't it?" He asked, facing me. Darn. I had initially hoped to see his left eye – or what could be left of it – but he had cleverly hidden it under his wet bangs.

"Yeah," I closed my eyes once again.

It was then I felt a shock, surge of hot water hitting my face—and the innocent giggle that came thereafter.

"That's not funny!" I replied, enraged, returning a blast of water to him; though the feeling I felt then was much less like when my sister did so. I was laughing.

We sent a few more crests and shots at each other, exchanging a good few chaffs and heckles while we were at it, before we settled back down at the edge; panting, exhausted from our little game.

"Y—You're not bad." Oliver smirked before making a little chuckle, "haven't had that much fun in aaaages."

"Yeah," I replied, laughing myself, "it's great to be able to let loose once in a while."

For a mere second, I felt a soft touch on my half-erect member; and immediately, I felt a jerk in my chest as it tightened and my mind phased into panic. I looked to Oliver, half-way in expecting an explanation of sorts, whose face was now a very bright, clear red, softened only by the light mist, "I-is that?" He merely said to ask.

"Y-yeah," I answered truthfully as I felt my own face heat up.

"I, I'm sorry!" He bowed – or well, tried to before his face fell half submerged underwater.

"It-" I paused in trying to neutralise the comedic effect it had on me, "It's fine."

We stood there for an awkward few moments without an exchange of words; fiddling and stuttering as we kept opposite of each other; glancing and avoiding mutual gazes as we slowly moved back and forth in the calmly rippling pool.... Oliver was the first to break the spell, he climbed out of the pool and exited the bath area. "I'm finished," he quietly told in what sounds to be almost a stutter, with not even a single glance back.

Without anything better to do, I followed him out to the changing room where all the lockers were. There again I saw his full figure stretch as he tried and reached for the top locker, and there again I felt an unwarranted response slowly but surely build up in my lower region. No, not this again!

I power-walked to my locker, which was not-so-conveniently right beside Oliver's; and with twisting my lower half slightly away, I took my towel out, dried myself and impatiently pulled my boxers on to hide my little problem. I then heard a small door-click from my left, followed immediately by the shy familiar voice of the boy, "I-I'll be waiting outside."

I softly replied, nodded, then sighed. that didn't go very well.

 

 

Chapter Text

We were back in Oliver's house, sitting with our legs folded in a traditional manner, across each other by no more than a mere two feet. I could hear his cute little stutters, his stumbling as he meekly tried to speak behind his white sailor's hat, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have touched you that way, it must have been very uncomfortable for you." He bowed fully down once more, apologising for what I could then recall to be his eleventh time.

"No, really," I told him, forcing a smile, "it's okay. It was just an accident."

He sighed... and while guilt was still apparent in his expression, he nervously smiled back and muttered a little "thank you."

"We are friends now after all," I told him – my heart beat rapidly; I knew nothing of this, if this was even a common occurrence between normal enough friends, "Some things like this were bound to happen." I reasoned.

He nodded, and at that he finally grinned, "y-you're right."

And though I still kept it my priority to hide my true identity, I felt a strong urge, a thirst for the true experience of not being caged up in luxury.

"Oliver," I perked up, looked at him and caught a glimpse of him jolting in surprise. I read his curious expression as his golden eye beautifully sparkled under the noon light, "what do you usually do around here? I want to learn more about this place."

"Oh, well... There really isn't much." He told through his light accent, "not nearly as much as say, Tokyo."

His words confounded me; confused me for what I could only observe was the complete opposite. The beautiful green and white visible just out the glassless window was comparable to – though I feel it was much greater than – the cumulative 'beauty' of the appressed city. I looked to him with a slight tilt in my head as I signalled for him to continue.

He slightly backed, nervously repeating his point "Th-There really is nothing much you can do here."

I nodded with disappointment. He probably doesn't think as much about the surroundings here; it was, after all, where he had lived for most of his recollectible life.

Then I heard Oliver trail off in his mind, in a state of deep in thought, "Wouldn't it be great if we could live in... in a place with more opportunities?"

My immediate reaction was, No, such a place would not exist. But ultimately, I agreed, "yeah."

He turned to me with a shocked expression when I replied, but it disappeared as quick as it came. I coughed to try and shift away the awkwardness that had built up, then muttered quietly as I stood up, "sorry, I'm gonna get a drink," before leaving.

 

***

 

I took a deep breath of fresh air and cleared my mind of the previous awkwardness, and I was in no doubt that by then Oliver had too. I walked back up the wooden stairs to Oliver's room, then I heard a dampened series of notes coming through his door. Is that?

My heart bade for me to listen, so I leaned in closer... I noticed the lyrics, "kankyaku no nai ... yoru no saakasu, ano tsuki no tame ni fue o fuke soshite kuro kara aka e..."

I recognise it.

And what was worse? I was singing it!

All my horrors came flashing back to me: the fangirls, the other Vocaloids, and my sister. Surely I'm just imagining this. I had left them to get away from that life only for my best friend to be a fan!?    I took another deep breath in—then out... Surely not.

I turned the knob and pushed the door open to see. Oliver was there laying comfortably on his bed, prostrate, with a little radio beside him playing Fifth Pierrot.

I called out his name, to which he turned to me for and made a little smile. I felt my heart race once more as I feared that he would somehow make the connection from the voice on the radio onto mine. He motioned for me to come in and so I did. I sat on my bed, waited and waited for the song to finish.

"O—Oliver," I finally spoke as the final cadence of the song played in the background. He shifted, sat up and turned to me, tilted his head to his side ever so slightly and waited with his sparkling golden eye for me to continue.

"You listen to Vocaloid songs?" I asked, trying to sound as natural as I could.

He nodded, "yeah," then he continued, his hands shaking with enthusiasm, "Len's my favourite. What about you?"

I was, unlike my racing heart, petrified still. That thing was his favourite? That disgusting persona those fangirls shaped?    Then a thought appeared in my mind, would he be the same as all those fangirls then?    ... the weight of the thought overwhelmed me, I couldn't help but to ask immediately, "why... do you like Len so much?"

He went for a second into a contemplative trance, and turned back to me when I saw he had found his answer. A hint of fear in his eyes... "I like his voice..." Oh great, just like everyone- "The feelings he pours into his songs are really strong. A-and some of the songs he writes himself... have really deep meanings too... y-y'know?"

I took a moment with my mouth agape, taken aback by his sincerity, his purity. He made not a single comment on my 'looks' nor my so-called 'personality'. He talked about me!  Sure, I had deeply wished for something more characteristic of me, especially from someone whom I now consider to be my friend, but I knew it was ultimately impossible. He could only get things he could hear and see, and my sister made sure that only what sells got through.

I silently gulped. "What do you think of those pervy songs?" I asked, making a little fake chuckle to help lighten the mood.

"I-I, they are catchy and nice..."

"Do you think he's like that?"

He thought for a quick moment... then shrugged. "T-There really isn't a way to tell b-but it is quite possible."

It was then I realised I had pushed him a bit too far off his comfort zone. I had more questions, I needed more answers, but I knew I couldn't ask them then, and I knew I wouldn't find my answer. Then I noticed I had left his question hanging. I sought to remember it and answer as quickly as I could. "I don't really listen to music much," I told him, he nodded and looked to me with full interest, "I guess I never really had the time to."

His expression changed to one of wondrous puzzle, as if something had just clicked in his mind as I said those words — then his lips parted, he spoke, "I've always thought of the city as a place with countless opportunities... y'know?"

I took a moment to take that in, blinked twice before I could respond. "Strangely, it has always been the complete opposite for me," I chuckled. . . we both knew where this was going.

He nodded, sat comfortably by me as we watched from my bed: the spotless magnificence of a small stretch of lush green grass decorated lightly with wild blooming flowers and white melting snow — just outside the window.

"I—I guess..." I listened to his soft voice beside me, "I've never truly appreciated this 'till now... y'know?"

"It really is beautiful, huh?"

"...yeah."

 

 

Chapter Text

I stretched and turned my gaze up to the starry night sky; gleaming stars, galaxies from every direction I could see. I slowly made my way to the bench nearby and recollected the moments I've had in the past several weeks of living here.

...

It was on my third week here...

 

<<<

 

I felt a shake and a soft voice, calling me out from my vivid dream. Oliver stood there with a brightest grin; he entreated as he tried to contain his overflowing excitement within him, "c'mon, let's play outside!"

I couldn't help but to smile, his joyous expression was one so pure, so innocent it was sure to send even the most grouchiest men to a smile. I nodded to agree and stumblingly pushed myself up. At that he giggled and dashed off, his arm lightly grazing mine as he passed.

I followed him out, muttering a quick 'bye' to his parents before leaving. Oliver led us to a clearing, and beside was a great field of flowers blooming in-season. He told me then that this was a place the village boys would meet up, where they would agree to a game and play around town for until their mothers would painstakingly search and call for their return.

"You do this often?" I had asked.

"No," he shook his head, "Maybe once a month, I don't really like playing with strangers."

"Don't you have friends?"

He nodded and smiled so wholesome, I couldn't help but to chuckle at his answer, "you."

"And... well, there's Piko, but he has other friends too."

I nodded, and immediately, from the distance, I could hear the giggles of crowds of children as they ran in. Oliver grabbed my hand and darted to the group of boys just by the flower patch.

"Piko!" Oliver called. A girlish boy, exotically white-haired and with eyes blue and green, turned to us. He smiled when he saw Oliver, then turned to me with a good-mannered puzzled expression

"Who's this?"

Oliver giggled and grabbed my arm close, "This is Rinto. I met him in Tokyo."

"Tokyo?! Eh?!"

"Mhm." Oliver nodded, "I got lost. And he brought me here."

"That's nice." He turned to me and held out his hand, "Nice to meet you, I'm Piko."

"Rinto," I nodded.

It wasn't long before the group finally agreed on a game: hide and seek. "The arena will be the whole town!" One boy exclaimed. Heads then nodded in agreement while I stood there still, pleasantly surprised.

Another with spiky black hair came up to me. "How about you be 'it'?" He offered, "since you're new here and all."

Should I? I looked to Oliver, who returned my gaze with expectation. With little hesitation, I agreed with a nod and started counting. "One." The cheery, fleeting sound of pattering feet broke out. "Two. Three..."

...

I opened my eyes, then I shouted the chant as I fought to remember it, "ready or not, here I come!"

I felt regret build up inside me when I turned around however; nobody, nothing was there in-sight. It was empty for as far as my eyes could see. How long would it take for me to find them?

I ran back to town, looked left and right at every opportunity, thinking of places where they could hide. I checked behind trees, doors and ledges... Nobody.

It was only after a painful half hour that I finally heard my first clue, a thump from inside a barrel and a whisper of self-scolding. With excitement pumping within me, I swiftly opened the lid and exclaimed victoriously, "found you!"

...but the boy inside stayed still. His only movements were his mouthing, "close the lid or they'll find me."

I realised two things then that seemed to make the task much more impossible than it had been. One, we weren't the only ones playing. And two, I knew nobody.

I sulled and shook my head. How am I going to find anyone now?

Then I heard a soft whistle from beside me – in a small dark alley of two large houses. I stepped forward, stumbled upon the hay below as I tried to get a better look. I noticed the hiding boy's familiar blonde hair; nobody else had them in town! It was definitely

"Oliver!" I called out his name in excitement, "I found you."

He giggled and leapt out of his spot, beaming as he silently congratulated of my 'achievement'. "Great, now let's find everyone else," He said as he grabbed my hand once more with a soft, nervous grip.

 

>>>

 

Then there was yesterday...

 

<<<

 

I gently immersed myself in the hot water, closed my eyes, and laid still. I heard the plop of someone entering beside me, and I perfectly knew who it was. I sensed the ripples as they reflected off my face and by then I knew he was right by me. Then I felt his soft skin on my arms, brushing lightly, once... twice... thrice...

I had by then half of my head underwater, and I could hear the softly resonating thump-thump of some heartbeat. Was it his? Is it mine?

Of course, once the other people had left – most were older men – we changed our act. Oliver was the first to do so. He had struck me with a little blast of water, more like a squirt, though I knew perfectly well it was merely just to tease.

"You're not getting away with that!" I playfully responded, retaliating with a slightly larger blast.

He skilfully dodged it and stuck a tongue out. "Catch me if you can," He giggled, though I could almost hear a stutter in his voice.

 

>>>

 

If I didn't know any better, I would think... I continued to ponder, laid down on the bench and gazed at the ever-sparkling stars above. One seemed to sparkle brighter than the others. A bright white, but I could have sworn I could almost see the faintest hint of blue.

"Rinto." I suddenly heard a soft voice call—then came the soft yawn. I sat up and smiled at his clumsy appearance as he stumblingly neared and sat by me, still sleepy.

We sat there for a few moments in complete silence before I felt a tight grip on my left arm. Oliver looked to me with his half-lidded eye and concerned expression, then I watched carefully his luscious lips as it slowly parted apart for his soft words to come out, "What are you doing outside, Rinto? Are you okay?"

I nodded. But really, I wasn't so sure myself. Our eyes locked, then he broke it off with a hint of fear. I took the moment as a chance to steal another look, this time, of his captivating locks of blonde hair lightly dancing in the chilly night breeze.

Oh how warm it would be to cuddle with you...

I... want... you.

I have feelings for you...

But I don't know if you'll return them.

I don't want to ruin our friendship.

...

You've been giving me hints... but were they intentional?

I want to believe you like me too, but I'm not sure if that's the truth.

Oliver rested his head on my arm, cuddling it lightly for comfort. His touch... his warmth... Then he yawned, and just before he would finally fall asleep, he muttered in his whisper, "I—I like you, Rinto."

My heart raced wildly and my breathing came to a stop. His voice, his words echoed again and again and I felt myself dizzy. Does he really like me? Does he really like me back?  I sought to convince myself that night, that I had just misheard... or that he was trying to say something else, and when the sun would rise and he was up, we would clear this up as another silly little misunderstanding.

But I couldn't.

Not when it was so clearly said by my ear. Every single syllable.

I rested my head on his and ultimately calmed down. The mellow, placid scent of his hair—him—was the sedative.

 

Chapter Text

"Oliver..." I called with my hand outstretched. My heart thumping madly.

The boy turned to me, his beautiful golden hair bounced in place while his mouth formed a little round 'o' as he waited for my response.

I took a moment to relive the past night, recollecting every detail vividly in my mind. I wasn't ready for this, for all my hopes—everything—to come crashing down at me, but I knew I had to face it... "L-Last night," I started, stuttered, "did you...? what you said—"

His face immediately flushed red and his form slowly shrunk as his eyes quickly averted. He evidently tried to speak, but he couldn't.

So it is true...

My heart tightened immensely with pain in the effect of love... obsession? A tear formed in my eye, I couldn't quite tell how I felt though. I forced myself to speak, I knew how he felt now, I have to tell him, "c-cuz, I—I like you too, you know, Ollie."

His face was painted in a bright shade of pleasant disbelief, he stepped towards me once, twice, his legs trembled as he fell himself on my chest, hugging me tightly in his cry. I could only return it. A satisfied smile slowly forming on my lips.

 

***

 

We were out together, and I found myself smiling once more at the sight before me. His bright beautiful grin, his face shining with joy as he continued to talk and ramble on and on on his interests, birds – mostly finches. His words kept flowing, and my emotions kept over-flowing. I couldn't hold it back any longer, I leaned forward, and forward, and by the time we both noticed, it was too late. Our faces were barely an inch apart and I could feel his nervous heavy breaths, soft on my skin.

I heard a little gulp... it could have been either of us. To my surprise, a soft pair of lips landed on mine. Breathless, that was how I felt in many more ways than one. In the impulse I sought to deepen the kiss, prodding my tongue onto his lips — as I felt another side of me get excited in the moment. Shit...

Oliver jolted away when he finally processed my request, in embarrassment; he took his hat down and hid himself behind, but even then I could still see the bright red hue of his face, emanating from under (—or was it my imagination?)    Did I go too far?

He was cute like that, but...

"I-I'm sorry, I-"

"N-No, Rinto, i-it's fine, I liked it, really."

I nodded. This isn't how our date's supposed to be like. Dammit, Len.

Then I felt the familiar arms wrap tightly around me, his face buried on the nape of my neck as he whispered softly, gently, "...my first kiss."

I felt my own face heat up in realisation. It had been our sacred first kiss—and I had messed it up! Just because I couldn't control my own damn emotions. "I-"

But Oliver smiled anyway as he pulled away to meet my gaze, a small pursed smile on his little lips. "I didn't mind it, Rinto. I-In fact, I loved it. It was a kiss with you and that's what matters."

I found myself intoxicated by his pure innocence, his romantic even when he didn't know of it himself. But I still couldn't forgive myself... It still could have been better, I thought.

It was then I realised the strange lingering feeling deep within my chest... something I thought I knew well, something I thought I had left behind three months ago... dissatisfaction.

Why? I know I love him... that part's clear to me... then why do I feel this way...?

We left the table and the sound of the owner's "thanks for coming," could be faintly heard as we left the small café.

I watched Oliver's movements, his gentle smile as it turned to an expression of shock. I shifted my view forward and was utterly horrified when I saw: a man I thought I had pushed my life past in-front of me, standing there with good posture and formal attire – but with an expression clearly of annoyance under his pitch-black shades.

"W-who are you?" I heard Oliver squeak beside me.

"None of your business." He sharply growled. I had a plan form in my head to grab Oliver's arm and run, but I couldn't. I was stupefied, petrified under the influence of his invisible yet very present glare. The man forcefully grabbed my wrist, squeezed the life out of the poor thing, "playtime is over, Kagamine Len."

I could see in-front of me, everything I had built to live a normal life, destroyed, shattered adust. Oliver looked to me with an incomprehensible flurry of emotions; his one golden eye had lost of its previous sparkle, replaced only by a lifeless glare, frozen in time. But I guess it was warranted, what would you do when you just figured out that...your best friend, your boyfriend...was your idol?

I couldn't say anything then. Oliver was already overwhelmed... my adding to it would not do any good.

I felt his grip jerk my arm—then my whole body moved along as my manager threw me into his car – made no notice of my slumping on the leather chair – and locked the door. I looked out the window. Oliver cried, wept in sorrow, and I could feel myself doing the same. There was no telling if we would ever meet again. My heart ached once more, this time, in grief. I took one final glance at him before the driver stole me, stole him away.

I want to be with Oliver.

 

Chapter Text

I watched as the dreaded mansion came to view: its evil yellow lights glowing under the dark orange sky; its many towers, standing there, erect with pride.

We turned the corner, past a few browning trees on the roadside and finally, I saw we had reached the parking area beside the giant building; floored, furnished with white marble – from Italy. The car stopped — and I could almost hear the faintest of a crack from just below me.

a click and I saw my manager got out of the front seat. I watched him through the tinted window glass. He glared at me though I could see nothing through his shades. The door clicked open and instantly: I felt his strong, godforsaken grip return to my poor left arm. He dragged me across the lot, to the inumbrated building — and in-front of him when we finally reached the front door.

I gulped.

He pushed me in with disregard to my not being prepared; I splatted face-first on the hard wooden door as I made to be the tool for its opening. When I finally felt it had gone, I took a moment to recover before opening my eyes, saw in-front of me the array of colours: of the Vocaloids, all in their official clothing, dressing as if this were some sort of depressing welcome party... They all looked quite upset, and for once, I wasn't enjoying it.

"Tch..." Miku spat, "he's back."

Rin groaned, "Ugh..." rolled her eyes, and the others followed suit. Meiko, Luka, and Kaito.

Miku stepped forward, stylish in her saunter, "Just go to your room and get—" she pointed to my comfy clothes and made a wry, twisted face, "this thing changed. Then we'll talk about your—reconciliation."

I nodded and did as she told, but was sure to leave them with a disdainful look. A smile would have been mocking – they knew as much as me how much I hated this – and I did not want to deal with the consequences of it just yet.

I sighed and turned the flaking gold-plated knob, entered my room, smelled the fresh stale air and saw that: except for a few misplaced books and pens, nothing had changed from when I last left it. My bed was still undone, the bin was still quite full, and I still had a couple few clothes lying on the floor, untouched.

I walked in my closet, changed to a rugged designer's attire, then stayed in my room, quiet. I had no intention of facing them just yet, and I was perfectly content in there, just reminiscing the fading moments, memories of my stay in Shukijin, with Oliver. It was certain; after that stunt I had pulled, they would lock me under titanium bars and shackled chains; highest security to ensure none of this would ever happen again.

There's no way to escape now... at least... not if I'm alone.

For a moment, in the darkness, I saw a faint image, an apparition, of Oliver: crying, upset, alone... then he saw me — his tears slowed, and his lips gradually formed a little smile... then it shattered in the effect of my shrill sister's call, "Len! What are you doing in there?! You should be done by now!"

I groaned in the safety of my solitude and got up, I felt light pierce through my eyes as I opened the door... Who left the brightness on high?!    Waiting outside were Rin and Miku, tapping their fingers, wearing on them their disfigured faces, impatient much?

"Come on!" Miku hastened me—hastily, "we'll tell you over dinner."

 

***

 

I sat down beside Rin and Kaito. It was the only acceptable choice. A gentleman must keep himself from any temptation, they said. Now if only the producers would also adhere to that expectation—nuff said.

"Len..." Miku started, tapping her white handkerchief lightly on her mouth precisely thrice as she spoke, "There will be some changes to your public image as of your return in the upcoming concert."

I nodded. "I'm listening."

Surely it can't get any worse...

"You are to publicly date Rin." She stated without a shred of emotion – not even the slightest hint of sorry, pity was present in her tone, "And you are to state that the reason for your, " she twisted her face once more, "act", she spat, "was that you were romantically frustrated."

I stared at her with my mouth agape, hanging, presently trying to understand what the actual fuck just happened

No, surely she's kidding... right?

She seemed to notice my struggle to understand the situation; so she clarified, mockingly, "it's quite trivial, Len. The fans ask for it, we deliver."

Trivial it was, for a person whose only goals were money and fame. But sane?—it was not.

After the last person had finally finished their meal, I retired to my room to end the day early, to dread the ticking seconds to the day I would perform... December 21.

But, I still thought myself lucky. I had just missed Magical Mirai, the worst of the worst concerts – and I'm not even exaggerating here – the epitome of my despair.

I chuckled lightly as I fell back on my bed. It wouldn't be for another three months that I would need to go on-stage again, Surely I can set it aside for now...

But those five months with Oliver felt so short...

...

Oliver...

 

Chapter Text

I felt weak.

Powerless—

No, I don't want to do this!

...

The spotlights appeared... I heard the crowd burst into a cheer—and once again, the fangirls were shouting, squealing out my name.

—They were happy; in fact, they were thrilled of my return...

Standing beside me was Rin, holding her microphone close to her lips, announcing with her oh-so-sweet voice the well-scripted speech of my woe.

"Good morning, everyone! We are here today to make a really important announcement."

And to make things worse, Miku made it clear had to say the worst part...

"Me and Rin are officially dating now!" I smiled, waved, did what they told me.

Then I felt a tug on my right arm, I looked to her and suddenly, our chests met. Then she looked into me with her hateful eyes, glistening under the gaudy spot-light —then our lips met...

The crowd in the background cheered; squealed, screamed, screeched. And I could still remember to this day, the loud, annoying sound of a high-pitched girl shouting, chanting our dreadful ship canon.

It was only after the crowd had sufficiently calmed down – mind you, most of them were crazed fangirls – that we finally parted. I saw Rin smile as she turned back to the crowd and waved, "Thank you for your attention!" Then we walked back, with her right hand tightly gripping mine, backstage.

I could have sworn that before I had turned back that day, I had caught a glimpse. A glimpse of a blonde figure, on the seventh row, holding his lone yellow glow-stick down, where it was drowned in the vastness of the cheering crowd...

As we walked, I saw Miku pass in her white dress, neared me as she whispered by my ear demeaningly, "Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

It took most of my willpower to not flame, burst at that very moment. But I knew I had to contain myself, for if I didn't, I knew she would make my life complete and utter hell... as if it wasn't already.

When I had reached backstage, I took a glance at the exit. I saw there three burly men, on-guard. They were standing there, arms crossed, still; all in a most fashionable formal suit. Then I looked the other way, Kaito greeted me from across the room—with a smile—sitting lazily on the L-shaped sofa. He had probably been the only one to ever show sympathy in my situation.

And yet he hasn't ever voiced – let alone acted – to help me.

He is just that. Like the 'friend' who would only talk to you when nobody else is there.

I sighed and allowed my eyes to rest on the telly screen above, waiting for this to end.

But it had only just started.

 

Chapter Text

I laid there lazily on my bed with my iPad out as I half-heartedly scrolled through a few dozen memes... sorted by new, for the third time. I sighed, locked my device and tossed it aside, stared blankly through the tinted glass windows — nothing... just a surfeit of erect skyscrapers in the distance, cluttered with tar and smoke and speeding cars. I was bored once more... and nothing would get me out of it.

...Or so I thought.

"Len!" I heard Rin's damned shout as she barged into my room, wearing on her that impatient face. "Get changed!" She demanded, "someone's coming over."

Someone?

"What do you mean?"

She groaned, rolled her eyes in annoyance, "A new Vocaloid."

I nodded, "right," no need to get so moody about it, jeez.

And with that, she turned and left. I sighed once more, A new Vocaloid, huh?, I pondered on the thought, what would they be like? Maybe I can get to be friends with them before—

"You done?" Rin nagged, impatience in her tone, "He's going to be here any second."

"What?! No! Would it have killed you to tell me sooner?"

"Just!" She paused in her anger, "get it done!"

"All right, alright, geez,"

I grabbed my official attire, third in the pile on the floor and quickly changed into it, savouring my solitude while I still could make it last.

...

I closed my eyes.

Then three harsh knocks came through the door. I groaned quietly, would she ever wait for a second?

And the answer is obviously no.

I got to my door, opened it and saw her; and only then did I make out the three layers of make-up... on top of her usual two. Surely that's excessive.

"Here," she coerced laconically, handed me a few small containers and brushes.

I took them. Then felt the urge to just dump them. I had no intention of wearing any of those, especially not for good reason. And honestly, she looked better without any of those... or at least, without too much of those.

"Be there in 5!" She demanded before running off, not even waiting for my reaction nor reply. I sighed, placed the little containers on my table and left, walking to the entrance hall.

When I had arrived, everyone else were already there, waiting as they chattered on the possibilities of what the new boy would be like.

"Hopefully nothing like that Len," snickered Meiko, nudging Rin in her awful attempt to joke.

"Surely not," Miku replied, "Master told me he was quite enthusiastic about this."

Well, he would. With all the acting that goes on.

And I'm going to be honest here. Had I not been dragged into this stuff by Rin... had I just been another normal boy... I likely would have been the same.

"Guys, he's here!" Rin announced. Immediately, all the attention was brought to the two large wooden doors up front. Once the blinding effect of the sun's rays had gone, I could see the figure standing there, on the entrance. It left me agape; shocked, speechless. The boy wearing the navy choir coat over his usual button-up shirt—was Oliver.

Our eyes locked for a quick second, and in that second I saw the flurry of emotions within him: happiness, excitement, and... anger. Oliver broke it off and looked to the others, who were all praising him, congratulating him for his becoming a Vocaloid... with his cute little smile on his now more-matured face.

"Welcome," Rin grinned, "What's your name?"

"O-Oliver," he replied, his shyness still evident in his reaction as he held his arms close in reflex.

All the other Vocaloids aww'd when they saw this, praising him with their curses,

"He's adorable, he'll do great,"

"The fangirls are gonna love him,"

"right? Such a shota."

Oliver took a glance at me, and frowned when he saw I wasn't smiling for him.

Then Rin clapped her hand, shocked the poor boy, "Don't worry about him, Oliver," she told him in a cheery whisper, "he's never happy. That selfish—"

Yeah, right.

But that wasn't what annoyed me. I had long gotten used to my sister's scorning. What annoyed me then was that Oliver smiled at her words... he had intently nodded in agreement.

Why?

An unconscious tear trailed down my left eye, but I couldn't wipe it away, the stupefying effect of his arrival held me there still. Then I saw once more: his smiles, his shy laughter as they talked. My heart ached—longed for him to come to me once more—for us to be together once more... but he felt so... so far away now...

Another tear fell. Now it was my right eye. I shook my head, dashed back to my room, slammed the door shut and cried myself on my bed. "H-He..." I wept, jerked my breathing as I struggled to unclench my pained heart, "He's..." I curled up and engulfed myself under my thin white blanket...

maybe he was just being polite to Rin...?

—I'll try to talk to him later...

If he would even talk to me after that...

 

Chapter Text

It was the evening of his arrival. Precisely six twenty-three. As I laid there watching the clock tick in its agonising pace. The sound of three light knocks could faintly be heard. I perked up in the darkness of my room and the thought of him came to my mind. Maybe he's here to talk about that?

Then her voice appeared, my hopes crashed back down to none, "Len?" She asked... nicely?

"Yeah?" I replied, unmoving.

"It's dinner-time!"

"Right."

Then, as I watched the quartet of shadows, dancing beneath the door, I could hear the clackity footsteps, slowly fading as they walked away—but never quite gone.

Rin had never been gentle with me. Not since we were three. It was a nice change, but I knew it would not last. Once Oliver would have gotten used to living here, I was in no doubt she would return to her habits of barging in and shouting by my ear.

I flipped over side. Watched the door with my arms limped down my sides. What would become of him? Of me?

The long-hand ticked thirty, and by then I had finally gotten up. I stretched myself and yawned, stood there still again, thought back once more to those moments, mere translucent memories.

With a deep breath out, I finally readied myself to face them, to face him.

I walked myself to the dining hall, in a deep state of thought. I kept pondering – I couldn't stop! – does he still like me back? What if he hates me now too?

I felt each of my hands forming into a grip, and I hammered the invisible desk in front of me as I stood there before the entrance. Get yourself together! Thinking about it compulsively won't fix anything!

Then I took another deep breath in, and another deep breath out. Then I pushed the door open, the view of the Vocaloids in their usual spots... except for Oliver. He had taken my spot!

I closed the door behind me and looked to Rin. She simply pointed to the chair next to Meiko, who gave me a pissed off kind of scowl only I could see. I stared at her, then mentally shrugged, sat on my new spot, and stole a few glances at the oh-so-cute boy three seats away from me.

"So, Oliver," Miku started, smiled a grin, "what made you come here?"

He stuttered his first few words incomprehensibly, shifted in his chair before he finally spoke, "I-I like to sing... and well, I've always liked Vocaloid's songs."

She nodded, then Rin pat him from behind, to which he lightly jounced in nervous surprise, "Who's your favourite?"

I felt my breaths deepening, my heart quickening when I heard those words. Oliver made a split second glance to my direction, then returned to her... But his answer wasn't what I had expected, much less what I had wanted... "R-Rin."

I felt my heart drop, but my hand continued to feed me as I continued to seemingly blankly stare at the plate before me. Maybe... he's just being nice... or maybe... he just doesn't like you any more...

The next question piqued me, "When will your first recording be?"

"Tomorrow," he answered, then bit his lip.

"Tomorrow?" Rin frowned, "But we need someone to go with you... Me, Miku, and Luka are recording tomorrow too... with a different producer."

"Hey, Meiko-"

"Can't." She curtly replied, "Kaito and I are going for a special day."

Rin sighed,

Could it be?

"Well, I guess Len'll have to do then."

I felt my heart flutter for another chance to be with Him alone. But then I saw Oliver frowning... does he not want it after all?

"I-I can go alone."

"No, you must not." Rin replied, "This will be your first recording. Len will help you," she shot a warning glare, "won't you, Len?"

"O-of course." I replied.

The rest of dinner went by at an agonising pace. Listening to all those questions, then listening to all those answers. None of them had any mention of me. Well, except for the single question, "Which Vocaloid do you like least?"

They had a chuckle at that.

I was pretty upset, but I had to keep quiet, keep calm. Maybe Oliver was planning something? Or maybe you're just delusional.

By the end of dinner, I had subconsciously slammed my fork on the table, earning a good few 'ah's of surprise from the others... and Oliver. I had stayed mostly quiet before then. Great, he'll probably hate you even more now.

Everyone else had already finished their food so, "I'll just... go back to my room now."

Oliver stared at me and nodded while everyone else stayed still. I pushed my chair back with my legs and stood up, leaving without a word...

 

***

 

I sat there, silent once more. My legs curled up as I kept the thought present in my mind. It was obviously unhealthy, especially when he was going to start living there too, but I just couldn't stop! It hurts to stop!

but it also hurts to think about it

Just then I heard a knock from the wall to Rin's room... then came a note of nervous laughter... then the dementing music of one of Rin's girly games.

I buried my head under my pillow—then the blanket—but it merely dampened the dreadful noise. I shifted in my bed—manically threw myself around purely on the impulse... but nothing helped... I stayed there, quiet, tears wetting the sheets below—

Oliver...

Oh, Oliver...

Won't you come back to me?

...

Please...

 

 

Chapter Text

Ugh, why does it have to be him?

Why does it have to be Len?

I wouldn't mind anyone else, even Rin would be better than him...

I sighed, laid on my bed in only my boxers as I kept thinking about it, my official clothes in my grip.

Then the dreaded knock came, "are you ready?" asked his cheery... kind...... genuine sounding voice... ugh, stop it! He doesn't like you! I hate him!

I replied a quick, sharp "gimme a sec" as I shuffled to put my clothes on... then I leapt back onto my bed, melting my thoughts onto the soft... comfortable... so soft pillow. I don't want to see him yet...

But then the clock ticked twelve... I have to face him...

I reluctantly brought myself forward, then opened the door to meet his bright expression, oblivious to the consequences of even his own actions.

But, I must keep these feelings to myself... the honne to myself...

"Should we go?"

He nodded with a smile, "If you're ready."

I nodded back, a small unwarranted smile formed on my lips as he turned to the front door.

Ugh... stop it...

I followed him out, watched his form as he walked... it wasn't as stylish nor fancy as the other Vocaloids... it was much more casual, but it still looked...

Ugh... stop it!

It wasn't long before we halted in front of the car that would bring us to the recording site. He smiled, and opened the door for me. I forced a smile back, then climbed on to the driver's rear seat silently... I couldn't say anything, nothing came to mind...

Len sat beside me, and just as he closed the door, the car moved- to which I reacted with a jump and a gasp.

A chuckle came from Len, "you okay there?"

"Y-yeah..." I replied quietly, fidgeting my fingers. Why is he acting so nice?

Then he turned back to the front, resting on the headrest. I stayed there as I watched out the window – if only I could get this annoying seatbelt out of my face – the view of the city: the hundreds of towering architectural masterpieces, all laid out perfectly to the inch from years of city planning. I had seen it twice... thrice before, but it staggered me nonetheless.

Why did Mum and Dad leave the city?

By then the questions in my mind were all whizzing around my head... my head! It was then I looked to Len, and saw he had been sleeping... surely it wouldn't hurt...

I crawled and slid my hands on the chair, then rubbed my forehead, laying my weighted head on his lap... surely this means nothing.

even if it does... then I can tell myself it's just because of this headache...

sounds good...

Then I closed my eyes and nuzzled myself to my comfort... yawning at that very last second before I felt reality fading away to sleep.

 

***

 

As I laid there on the grass, a hand appeared, ran through my hair with firm, yet comforting strokes, "Oliver," the voice called.

I jolted up back to my seat, sweat breaking on the top right of my head...

What just happened?

I looked around, walls... ladders, sunlight from the back, and Rinto! No... Len... sitting there with a satisfied smile, "C'mon, let's go," he beckoned with a headjerk as he opened the door and got off the car. I sighed and followed him, meeting the strawberry-haired girl just outside the bright-red door.

"Oliver! Nice to meet you!" She smiled with open hands... that contained papers of sheet music and lyrics. Of course, I accepted them, they are why I'm here after all!

The girl opened her door and welcomed us in. I took a quick glance at Len, then entered the room. Everything had been set, from the microphone to the intricacies of its acoustic environment—to fit my singing!

I touched the cool metal handle on the microphone—with trembling fingers...

I'm so excited!

 

***

 

"One more time!" She demanded again, "The second-last note was off by a quarter semitone, we can't have that in a release."

I looked to Len, who, too, had grown tired of those three words. On my first attempt he had showered me with numerous praises, on my second he kept his smile and gave me many words of encouragement... And on my twenty-fifth, he had merely mouthed a good-willed, "Good luck."

Well, I guess he isn't that bad.

I still don't like him though...

I took another deep breath, then held the now-warm, sticky, icky mic handle, singing the first lyrics of the song for the umpteenth time.

"The bliss that resonates wi-"

"Start again, the recording device was off."

I threw my arms down and groaned quietly. Rolled my eyes. Come on.

 

***

 

By the time we had finished recording, it was already sundown. I sighed and laid myself down on one of the dark-red couches in the living room. Len had done the same, he may not have had been singing, but bloody hell did he look worn out too.

"Good job," Len shot me a smile and a thumbs-up.

I frowned, "Thanks... it was really... tiring, huh?"

"Yeah, recordings are always like this," he sighed, "They want everything to be perfect for the public."

"I guess..." I drooped my head down on the armrest. Was it really worth it?

Then a loud clap appeared from behind us. "Alright, you two can go home now," she smiled, "looking forward to our next recording, Oliver."

"Y-yeah," I replied, lied, "me too."

Then we left, slept through the car ride again, and when we had arrived back at the HQ...

"How was it?" Rin asked, grinning, "did it go well?"

"Yeah," I told her, "it was a bit... repetitive though."

"You'll get used to it," she merely shrugged, "I personally find it fun."

I nodded and took her word. "O-okay."

"Wanna come to my room and play again tonight?"

"S-sure."

 

 

Chapter Text

The blonde beneath me hummed as I kissed him, touched him... grazed his skin... his eyes were closed and the pleasured expression was clear on his calmcited visage.

I could hear the deafening heartbeats as I brought myself to continue... I...

I can't believe we're finally doing it.

The unnecessary barriers, blue, white and yellow were already on the floor, and what's left was the smooth white on yellow, the hot, wet goodness that came under.

The boy whimpered as I bit him, lightly... and I could feel his need growing too, from under that last black layer, breaking under the excitement.

He shifted on the soft below, his mouth an 'O' as he tried to contain the pleasure, the excitement as I massaged him slowly, lightly, lovingly.

"Le-"

I gasped, jolted up my bed, sweat trailing down my forehead. Then I panted... huff—puff— I looked around the room... nobody was there... a... a dream?

It was then I noticed a cold, wet feeling from under my pants... Did I...?

I looked down, my morning wood covered in sticky-white sap that had stained the light-yellow cover. I let myself lay down once again, curling up under the comfort of my warm blanket. I... I love him so much...

Why can't he... return it anymore?

I miss his words of love.

I miss being with him.

I miss Him.

I stayed there a little while longer, dabbling on the memories of us... it felt so long ago... and yet it felt like it was just yesterday that he was with me. Then I felt my tip touch the wet boxers once more... this is starting to get annoying... so I laid myself on my back, then pulled everything down, disposing of them onto the floor for later's chore.

Just as I stood up to head to my closet, my door blasted open. I jumped and panicked and saw, standing there was Rin, blushing.

"Get clothed, you pervert!" She shut the door with another slam.

I sighed, once you lie enough about something, you start to believe it...

But then there was that dream... argh...

I grabbed one of my casual shorts from the pile and pulled it on... the cold lingering feeling of fresh clothe on skin...

Just then, Rin barged in, again, and sat herself on the edge of my bed with her arms huffingly crossed.

"Why did you come here?" I asked coldly... it's never good news.

"The new kid's been talking a lot about you."

No!... he didn't... he couldn't!

"About?"

She shrugged, "he mainly just asked questions." Then she narrowed her eyes, her gaze piercing through mine, "what did you do with him in that recording session last week?"

"Nothing!"

"That better be true." She snapped accusingly, "we don't want him becoming like you too."

"Tch."

"Now, as for the concert tomorrow, you better not try and do anything funny."

"I won't." I replied, rolling my eyes, annoyed by her constant nagging. After all, I can't just leave him here.

"Good." Then she stood herself straight up, turned her back and headed towards the door. When she opened it, however, Oliver was standing there on the entrance, his lightly blushed face half-covered by his drooping long-coat-sleeves.

Rin froze. "Wha-what are you doing here, Oliver?" She faked a giggle, faked a smile.

"I-... I just heard you shouting is all." He answered innocently, his sparkling eyes averting hers to connect with mine... He looks so... so-

Suddenly, brown blocked my view. Rin had, quite rudely, shut the door behind her. "Well, let's go back to my room, shall we?"

I couldn't hear his answer, but I could still imagine his oh-so-cute nod before those footsteps sounded... I felt my heart ache again... it had happened too often by then... But I could never get used to it.

the ache that comes with crushing...

the ache that comes with heartbreak,

and the ache that comes with distant hope.

But I kept my chest out strong... I knew then he didn't hate me anymore... I knew then we had a chance... if even we could be friends...

Then a waft of exotic smell waved through the air, to my nose... The chloriney smell of... I groaned and slapped a pillow on to bury my head under, I don't want to do it now...

But eventually, I had to...

I melted myself off my bed and grabbed the two stained pieces on the floor, peeked at the insides... it made quite a puddle in there...

I chuckled to myself, tightening, clenching my grip to distract myself from the heartache that came with it, I love him so much...

Then I grabbed a few other clothes from the floor and buried it. Right in the centre to avoid any awkward situations. I clasped the laundry pile with my arms, painstakingly making sure none of it would fall out as I was carrying it, and just as I was about to bring it out, it hit me... I can't open the door like this.

I cursed myself as I dropped the pile behind me, opening the door before returning to the now messed-up pile, twice its clinched size.

Again, I wrapped a few larger clothes to seal the bottom, then clasped it between my arms... and just as I lifted the pile, a sock fell out.

It was then I finally cracked, and swore under my breath, "Ugh..."

 

***

 

I brought the pile out, carrying it as it obscured half of my vision. Then as I trod the final narrow hall, I saw Oliver, standing there with an amused expression, staring as I walked past him.

Then he giggled. "You need help with that?"

I shook my head lightly and stuttered out a louder-than-normal "N-No!" Walking another step forward as I told him, "I have everything under control."

"Really?"

"Y-yeah!"

But stupid old me decided to lose my balance at that point, sputtering the hundreds of untouchables, pouring onto the floor. And the hell-stained couple was there!—exposed in the light!

I clenched my eyes shut, waited for the streams of ridicule or laughter—or even disgust! But none of them came. Instead, I could feel his soft hand on my shoulder, his kind words softening the piercing heartbeat, "I'll help you."

He gathered as much as he could carry, and brought it up... it looked cute. I gathered my half and just as we dropped it in the laundry room queue, he had pouted and quickly muttered in a whisper, "I still haven't forgiven you for what you've done."

He—He hasn't forgiven me?

He... still hates me?

Those words pierced into my heart—to ache once more. What did I do wrong?

Was it the lies I told you for so long?

But before I could ask anything, he motioned to leave.

"Thanks, Ollie."

He shot me a quick, harsh glare, and snapped in a purely despising tone, "Don't call me that!"

I droned myself to my room, closed the door and curled myself to a ball of despair.

Ugh... it really has to be all my fault isn't it?

Oliver's such a nice person... he would have forgiven me if it hadn't been something really bad.

And yet, I can't even figure out what I did wrong...

...just like the psychotic love villain... the stalker...

Would that... make me—?

But I couldn't continue the thought, the throbbing pain in my heart had reached its peak and I could only lay on the floor to wallow in its effect. Tears ran down, fled my eyes in my arduous attempts to regain myself. And I stayed there—stayed there still with the occasional sob and choke and hacking wheeze. It was only after a while—maybe an hour – maybe even two? – that I could finally feel and move my limbs to my will once more... but the clenching, aching—that horrible pain...

It's still there...

 

 

Chapter Text

deep breaths... deep breaths!

It's gonna be fine, Oliver!

I felt the icky sweat-moistened leather under my hands. The car rattled and bumped as it cruised on the uneven street, and I could feel my breaths deepening, quickening... achening...

Deep breaths... Deep Breaths!

Then I felt reality jolt as a touch registered on my right shoulder. I faced to see a smiling pair of Len and Rin... But she... she didn't look quite happy.

"Are you okay?" Rin asked first, voicing her concern a little loudly. I nodded in response, but her expression didn't change, like a static image, a static hologram with empty blue eyes piercing coldly into my soul.

I didn't know what I'd felt then, but I shivered lightly at her gaze.

Then I looked to Len. He didn't say anything, but his face showed it: concern, sympathy... empathy. Care! His blue eyes, livid, powerful... yet so... suppressed.

I'd melt on the spot had nobody been there. But people were there. ... Then it struck me: Why do they hate Len so much?

Does this mean I don't dislike him anymore?

Do I...

still like him?

...

No,

No way...

Right?

But this feeling...

This feeling of longing that I had felt only once before.

Just then, the car made an abrupt stop and for a moment, I flew out of my seat, hitting my head on the chair infront of me.

"Oww..." I rubbed my head.

Then loud clicks came and the car doors all swung open in unison. I shifted twice from my seat – to the left – and finally got off, beholding the sight of the concert building once more... just as it was two years ago... before...

A little tear trailed down my right.

No!

I can't... remember that... now!

Rin's shout broke my trance. "Come on!" She beckoned right before the glass-door entrance, "Let's get prepared."

Everyone nodded and rushed in, I followed behind them, taking my time to look around. Posters of the Vocaloids were everywhere! Most were of Miku, but I had seen some on me for my debut that day.

Don't mess it up!

Then I felt it again, the loud thump-thump and tightened chest, the heavy breathing and heightened senses... no, don't panic... Don't Panic!

DON'T PANIC, OLIVER!

I looked around, shaking, my head jolting from one way to the other, my eyes whizzing around everywhere and I couldn't stop it. I made stuttered noises as I panted, huffed for breath.

What should I do? What do I do?

Then I heard voices, echoing harshly, cacophonously, fizzing in the background like streams of hard water shooting through broken metal pipes...

"Are you okay?"

"Oliver!"

"What do we do?"

"Do you need anything?"

But one stood out the most. It was a gentle whisper.

"Oliver, come on, you'll be okay."

His soft voice... kind... understanding.

"You'll do great! I'll be cheering for you, okay?"

I closed my eyes and felt myself return. I leaned on him and took a final deep breath, clearing out my previous worries. Then I opened my eyes. Everyone glared weirdly, unpleased. It was then I realised I had been leaning on Len.

I pushed myself back up, and kept my head down to hide the light blush that had formed, bowing lightly in apology, "I'm sorry for that."

"It's okay," they all replied, "we were all like that on our first concerts too."

We all smiled and made our way backstage. Large, spacious, filled with equipments and props... in fact, we could even have a play in here!

I scanned the room once more and saw that everyone had sat down on a large sofa, papers in their hands. Curious, I neared in and peeked behind Luka.

It was when I grazed her shoulder that she noticed. Then she smiled and handed it to me to read, "here, it's the schedule for today's concert."

 

***

 

The spotlights appeared.

I silently cursed myself as I stared into the raging sea of navy glowsticks, bopping to the first few notes of the song.

Don't mess this up... Don't mess this up!

I held the mic close to me... then took a deep breath in...

It won't be that bad... right? He's cheering for me... right?

"🎶Ro-bo-tic ex-pe-ri-ments in the land of de-cep-tions—🎶"

 

***

 

I cursed myself again as I cried myself into a ball in the corner of the room. I could hear Len and Rin singing... one of my favourite of their duets, Electric Angel.

They had hit all their notes perfectly, the right pitch, the right time, everything.

Why can't I sing as great as them?

I felt a nudge from my left shoulder, I looked up and it was Kaito, with a concerned expression.

"What's wrong?" He asked me.

"I can't... I can't sing well enough."

"You can. Your singing was great."

"No it wasn't. I missed a few notes."

"Oh, nobody's gonna hurt you for that." He bit his lip.

"But I—"

"Listen. Don't worry about it. It was just your first concert. You were probably just nervous."

I nodded. Yeah, I was... but it was because I wasn't good enough. "thanks."

"No problem."

I looked back to the telly screen from afar,

"🎵anata to irareru sore dake de, denshi no kokoro furueru no.🎵"

Their smiles for the crowd... their hate of each other had disappeared completely... That's why you never found out about it before you became a Vocaloid.

Then it clicked. It wasn't that they weren't nervous at all. They just never showed it to the crowd, nor anyone else for that matter.

How do they do that? How would I go about on doing that?

Then my attention shot back to the screen when Len stumbled on a note, singing the final "の(no)" a little too high. I felt myself giggle a little. My worries loosened. If someone like Len can mess up, maybe I don't need to be too harsh on myself.

I could hear the audience cheer, then as they faded away from the stage, Rin's voice blasted through the room, "LEN!"

"I told you you needed more practice! More rehearsals!" She flamed, "That was unacceptable. It was ten cents off for god's sake!"

Yikes... I was off by almost fifteen at one point.

"It won't happen again, Rin. Calm down, it was just an accident."

"Accident? Accident!? You know, accidents can cost you your life. You should be more careful!"

"This one won't."

"It sure can!"

Len rolled his eyes and sat himself on a couch, his palm on his forehead as Rin continued to nag.

"Well, you obviously don't care about yours. But what about mine? Aren't you thinking about me?!"

"Len! Listen to me!" She continued while Len stood there with his eyes closed, still.

Then Miku butted in, "Listen to your sister!"

And why should he listen to you?

...

Did I just subconsciously defend him in my head?

I bit my lip. I thought about him... the things he'd done. He's always... always been so nice to me...

But he betrayed you.

Well, I can give him another chance... right?

What if he's just going to play with your feelings again?

Him?

Yes.

No... no way.

So you're going to trust him now?

No, not yet... but I will talk to him.

Suddenly, "Oliver!" Rin's voice rang, anger still heavily laced in her tone. I shot up and pushed myself astand in response. Then I saw, she was smiling, her anger completely hidden under her... her public mask... "It's time to go. Good job on your first concert."

I stuttered a "thanks," before following them out, stealing glances at Len whenever the situation allowed me to. He didn't seem to be bothered by it... In fact, it looked like he was quite used to it...

It felt then like a spotlight had just been shone through the fog... The Fog of Fame. A figure formed, wandering, lost within... Len...

I took a step to him, the shroud slowly thickening around me,

Len... tell me what you've really been through.

 

Chapter Text

Eleven twenty-three...

...

Eleven twenty-four...

...

Eleven twenty-five...

...

Should I do this? Should I really face him?

When else would you?

But... what if it goes wrong? What if... I say the wrong things? What if-

No, Oliver, think positive. You've known him well, you know he wouldn't do such a thing.

Would he?

I sighed, groaned, crashed my head onto the strangely-hard pillow. I felt the heartache, the headache—my heart still yearned for his attention—for his love—it's telling me that he still loves me, that everything that had happened had all just been a little misunderstanding.... But what I had seen that day – on my birthday! – on that stage... it was burnt in my mind: the gloom-stained image of Len smiling as he announced his relationship with Rin, their official kiss, up-stage for everyone to see...

It left me in tears, streams of them, for hours and hours—days even. I hadn't ever felt heartbreak before... it felt awful—despairingly awful. And his smile then—it made it all the worse.

I had locked myself up in my room for the following weeks, eating nothing, drinking...nothing. Needless to say, I came out miserable: thin as a twig, eye bloodshot... blood-red, clothes ripped and holed in my frustration. And I never really got over it.

Not even now.

Not even after a whole year.

Not even after achieving what I thought was my dream.

When I had first come here, I had thought Rin hated Len for the same reason. I thought he had played with her feelings, broke her heart or something. With all the songs Len had, it didn't seem too hard to believe.

But now... now that I had seen how exactly it worked behind the stage... maybe... if I could learn his side of the story...

 

***

 

I walked up to his room, just a few doors from mine, and stood quietly as I gathered my confidence. The door grew, larger and larger, and as the creases made out to be the eyes of the creature, it howled into my mind—its dark brown wood... What if he hates me too? What if-

I took a deep breath, raised a shaky fist, and knocked tentatively, softly on the door as to not gain the attention of any of the others.

No answer.

Is he asleep?

I was about turn back and leave, but then came his voice. "Come in," I heard him whisper. To that I gulped, and I turned the knob, pushed the door lightly before fitting my way into the small dark opening I made for myself.

"Oliver?" He called in his raspy whisper. You could tell he had probably been crying too.

"Yeah?" I whispered back, closed the door behind me with extra caution.

"Why... are you here?"

I breathed deeply, exhaled, and only then could I answer; with my beating heart still deafening my ears, "I-I... tell me, Len..." I bit my lip... what do I want to know? "Were you really dating Rin?"

I could see his shocked figure through the dark, then I could see something click, before he turned back and answered. "Yes."

No, that's not supposed to happen.

He loved me didn't he?

He's not a bad person.

It can't be true!

"Rin forced me to." He sounded... hurt. Then he finally poured everything out: all the stories of his pain, before he had left one-year-ago, before we had met. Then after that. How they had forced him to continue performing, to continue singing for the crowd. It all made sense. It all made clear.

His words from Shukijin echoed in my mind. It all makes sense now!

How stupid was I to not trust him first.

"And I..." he sobbed, "I never forgot about you. You were always in my heart."

"I'd wanted to run and meet you again, I'd wanted to break out... to see you. And when I saw you came here..." he bit his lip, "I didn't know what to do."

"I know you hate me now," he continued to sob, his words barely escaping his mouth, "but-"

I reached out and hugged him, tight, in my hands, squeezed him from behind, tight, to let him know I still cared for him—I couldn't take it... all his pain... I wanted it to stop; I wanted to stop it. "Len," I whispered to him by his ear, laid my head on him like one of those days when we were together back in Shukijin, "I'll help you. I—I..." air escaped my lips as I sought to say the next few word; and as my heart continued to tighten, as the emotions built up within me, I felt myself finally being able to say those words to him again: "I-I love you. I still love you."

I felt his shock, then his tears streamed down harder, he wrapped my arms in his and made the most beautiful soul-forsaking groan.It had been my mistake. I—had I trusted him from the start...

"Oliver..."

I looked to him, then sat myself by him, our hands still connected, his warm hands in mine.

"Len..."

"Oliver, we... we can't do this." He spoke in a broken tone.

Why Not!?

"They hate me," he squeezed my hands, before letting it go... I kept it on his, "if they see us together... they'll hurt you too."

"Len, I don't care what they do."

"I do!" His tears visible, even in the dark, "Ollie, I don't want to see you hurt."

"I'll be hurt if I can't be with you."

He grit his teeth slightly, he knew he couldn't stop me, we both knew where this was going. "Then— then... we'll keep it a secret. None of the other Vocaloids can know this, okay?"

I felt a smile form, then I buried myself in his chest and nodded to let him know... "I love you."

"I love you too, Ollie." He wrapped his arms around me, and we stayed there for a good couple minutes crying—then another, just relishing each other's presence.

But alas, we knew I had to leave, no more sleeping-togethers, no more special-nights... No, not the sexual kind... we just like to spend nights together with each other, talking, hugging, cuddling...

We knew: Rin would come next morning, and if she would see us together in his bed... well, she'd tell the higher-ups, then everyone would know... and there would go our chances, out of the window.

Len, I love you.

Len... thank you—

—for forgiving me...

...for everything.

 

Chapter Text

Perfect.

Yes! It was the perfect day! Rin was out with Miku to record a new album. And the others would have better things to do than to annoy us every half-hour. We can finally do this!

I laid myself back on my bed, smiling, let my gaze settle upwards as the ceiling made to be the canvas of my imagination: we could talk, cuddle, play together; just spend time together with each other. The throbbing ache of hope grew—

Maybe we could even go out together... sneak out, have a date. Maybe we could even sleep together, just like the old times. My heart clenched again as I got up, thought for another moment of the things we could do.

With those thoughts in mind, I brought myself out of my room and to Oliver's front door. I knocked thrice with my trembling fists, struggling to keep my excitement in.

Is he there?

Is he—

Then relief washed over me when his cheery voice finally answered, "Yes?"

Oliver!

"It's me," I whispered through the tiny gap. The door clicked, then gladly opened. Standing there was a smiling, grinning Oliver, his eye, too, sparkling in excitement.

He leapt and latched onto me as he giggled. "Len!" He exclaimed, nuzzling his face onto my chest.

I hugged him back and "Oliver," I smiled. I knew then for sure: He still loves me!

I reached up to stroke his hair and get his attention, to which he looked up to me with his cute curious expression and playful hum.

"Come to my room?" I invited with a smile. He nodded delightfully, then giggled as he pulled me into my own room. Time slowed for a moment. I took the chance to watch his innocent giggle and blush as he smiled and called for me to come with him. I saw the glimmer in his single livid eye, still untouched by those demons of our world.

Mine was – at least, I was sure then that it was – completely dulled.

Once we had settled ourselves down on my bed, I asked him, "what do you want to do?"

"Hm?" He perked up, "well..." he paused to think, "I don't mind anything as long as it's with you," he replied, blushing lightly at his own words.

How does a person become so cute? God answer me.

"I just want to spend time with you, Ollie." I told him, cuddling him as I brought us to lay under my blanket. I felt his body heat up. Then I saw: red crept up his face once more.

Enough teasing?

I hummed by his ear, rubbing skin on skin as my hand swept over his body. He shifted lightly, uncomfortably. But he stayed quiet.

Yeah, probably.

"If you don't like it, you can tell me, Ollie." I told him with a giggle, playfully hitting him on the side as I usually do after a tease.

"N-no, I-I like it," he muttered with embarrassment, his face wholly buried on my bed, "I-it's just that," he faced me, still flushed red, "I-it... makes me... nervous..."

I smiled, then nodded. "Alright." I sat myself by him and lightly massaged his back, to which he hummed quietly, calming down.

"Len..." he mumbled, his voice placid, as was his expression. It was then Oliver sat back up and faced me, his hand venturing through the little mountains on the bedsheet to connect with mine. "I just want to be close to you." He muttered, his tone laced with need. I felt it too. We both had been desperately starved of each others presence in the past few weeks... scratch all the games, movies... sure, they sound good... but what we really want... it's just us... being together... spending as much time together as we possibly could, getting the attention of our significant other.

Yes, that sounds great.

I took him close, laid us down in the spoon position. Then we stayed there, awake, syncing our breathing, listening to each other's heartbeats... beating to the same rhythm.

Then we started talking, 'catching up' though we lived mere doors from each other.

"How was your week?"

"It was fine," I told him, "miserable actually... but I guess I'm just used to it."

"Mmm... Rin keeps asking me to play her games with her." He complained.

"Heh, yeah. That's Rin for ya."

"She's done that to you?"

"Ten years ago, yeah," I told him, "before any of this had happened."

"You never really did tell me about your past,"

"Well, we've never really had the chance to sit down and talk have we?" I frowned, taking in his scent from his hair, "Since we finally made up."

"Mmmn you're right." He giggled, "it tickles."

"Hm?" I smirked, nipping on the nape of his neck lightly, leaving with a small lick to which he chortled and jerked. My eyes quickly shut and the next thing I could feel was a thump and crack from my nose.

At that he stopped and turned to me, saw the tiny drip of blood pouring down the left one, and immediately sent streams upon streams of apology.

"I—I'm sorry! Oh my gosh! Len! Are, Are you okay? I'm so sorry! I shouldn't have hit you like that! I shouldn't have jumped like that! Oh my god!"

I took a piece of tissue from my bedside and blocked it, using my other hand to pat Oliver and comfort him, "It's not your fault. Besides, aren't we having fun now?"

He smiled a little, but concern ultimately took over his expression, "I don't want you getting hurt for it!"

"It's just a little nosebleed, it'll be fine." I told him, "besides, we still have the whole day to look forward to."

Then he finally nodded, smiled, then sat beside me. "I love you, Len."

"I love you too, Ollie."

 

***

 

"Len! Len!" Came his voice, afraid. Ripples formed in my vision as it waved, the flower before me fading away. And when my eyes jolted open, I saw Oliver's face, tainted with fear.

Shit, I fell asleep, didn't I?

"Len! They're here!" He whispered. "Rin, Miku, they're back!"

My fight or flight response kicked in. My heart paced as my breathing quickened, the footsteps outside were getting... louder! "Quick, get in my closet, she won't find you there!" I told him. He nodded as a tear dropped his right eye, then he pushed himself off the bed and ran quietly to my closet.

Just as Oliver shut the closet door, my door blasted open. Rin stood there with a face. "Where's Oliver?"

No, No, No! They couldn't have known!

I stayed silent, my shaky voice would have been a dead giveaway. I answered with a shrug, falling back onto my bed as I sought to calm myself down.

Of course, this angered her immensely, her face flamed red as she blew within. Respect was to her a greatest value... so long as it was going her way. But she too stayed silent... "Tch..." running off to presumably find him.

Why does she care about him so much?

After I had confirmed she was gone, I whispered through the slit on the closet door to let him know. When he got out. Oh, the poor look on his face. He was so scared!

My heart begged for me to leap forward to him, to comfort him. "Oliver," I whispered by his ear, holding him tight to me, "it's okay, they won't bother us."

I felt his weak nod as he wiped his pouring tears with his drooping right hand, "Len," was all he could say.

"Come on," I took his hand, frowned, you should go back to your room now. He nodded sadly, fumbling on his steps as he made his way to the door.

"See... you later?" He mumbled in his silent tears, his hand lightly on the knob, faced away.

"Yeah," I nodded in reflex, smiled lightly in his lingering effect, "see you later."

 

***

 

We sat around in our usual spots. Quietly. Three men stood at the end of the table—with their immaculate suits... as usual. They were the directors, the people in-charge of everything that happens in our 'organisation'.

The middle one cleared his throat, spoke in his stereotypically-low masculine voice, "sorry for such short notice, but we will be going on tour in a week." Excitement grew within the table... yes... even I was interested. We may not be allowed much freedom there, but it was certainly better than being locked up in a building.

Besides, even Rin and Miku likes sightseeing sometimes.

"Where are we touring?" Rin asked, a sliver of excitement managing to escape her usual façade.

The man on the right answered with his raspy voice, "America and Europe. We will be touring through thirteen different sites, so be prepared."

And of course, I had been stealing glances at Oliver. Happiness, disbelief, excitement, they were all there on his face. For a quick moment, our eyes locked... and he smiled at me.