The awareness that you’re doing something so incredibly stupid. That was a feeling he had not experienced since he officially became a member of the Hebinuma clan. As the president of a prestigious pharmaceutical company, as well as the leading man of his personal revenge quest, there was no room for him to make mistakes or poorly calculated decisions. One wrong move or action could betray weakness and lead to his ruin. In other words, he knew he should not be doing that. Everything should have ended on that night, as it always had. And yet despite his better judgement, he started indulging himself in more and more meetings that should not have happened.
“It’s impressive you were able to find a place like this even though you only lived in Hong Kong for a short time.”
The nostalgic, old-fashioned café they were sitting in did not feel like something that belonged in a big city, where glass and concrete reigned supreme. It was the kind of place Miyuki frequented either. As his old life and relationships became a thing of the past, all the meetings he attended took place at gourmet restaurants, where the atmosphere was much more stuffy and detached than what he was experiencing right at that very moment. The spring sun falling through the window somehow felt warmer than it should.
The man opposite of him smiled. “I’m guessing it must be my sixth sense! I probably notice those places instinctually, since I have worked at many places like that before.”
“Oh? So you’re not the kind of person to stick to one place, are you?”
A redundant question. His new partner clearly seemed to radiate restless energy at all times, in a way reminiscent of a golden retriever puppy.
“True enough. But I’m thinking, maybe this time I could stay here forever.”
At that moment, a flirtatious note appeared in Gwen’s usual smile. Its intensity suddenly became difficult to bear. Maybe he was just trying too hard to impress his date. That kind of romance would burn intensely and disappear without a trace after some time. It would be extremely convenient. But maybe that affection was completely genuine. Miyuki secretly hoped that was the case.
“Miyuki-chaaaaan, look this way! ♡”
Excited as ever, Gwen held out his phone in front of him, and pressed the button. On the screen, Miyuki could see the two of them, holding their crepes in front of their faces. The crepes that had various animal faces attached to them had become a popular dessert among teenagers, and made for a good addition for humorous selfies. Although they certainly did not qualify as teenagers anymore, Miyuki somehow couldn’t help feeling curious about the new fad. His boyfriend’s company certainly made him more open to exploring things he’d never thought about before.
“Aaaah, that came out nicely~! You sure like your snake motifs, but I’d say you’re much cuter as a cat ♡”
As if to present the evidence, Gwen passed the phone to Miyuki. That certainly was a cute photo. He mindlessly sweeped further through the camera roll, finding more selfies taken on their numerous dates, as well as quite a few pictures of him, taken without him noticing.
“Have you really been taking this many photos all the time?”
“Of course! Every moment spent with Miyuki-chan is precious, so I want to keep all of them with me forever!”
The two of them on a ferris wheel. Looking at the scenery of Hong Kong together. Walking home from a bar, all blurry, yet clearly happy and clinging to one another. Miyuki’s sleeping face (he feels he should get angry, but somehow doesn’t feel like it). Evidence of what shouldn’t be called a crime, but can probably be considered as such in Miyuki’s present circumstances.
For Miyuki, nostalgia had always been nothing but a nuisance. There was no need for him to keep memories of his past. Every once in a while, the remains of pleasure buried under the pain crashed at him unprompted, reminding him of everything he was deprived of or forced to abandon. And yet looking at his boyfriend’s phone made him feel almost guilty over not having picked up the same habit himself. It was as if he was not trying to make himself remember.
“Gwen. Send them to me later.”
“Hey, Miyuki-chan. What do you like about me?”
Although it’s in Gwen’s character to always wear his heart on his sleeve, this earnest question was something that couldn’t get out of him before alcohol started getting to his head. On a daily basis, he regularly showers Miyuki with affections regardless of how receptive the latter seems to be, but tonight is a little different. Miyuki had been spending more time than usual at work that week, which likely led to his boyfriend being more attention starved than ever.
Over the course of their relationship, Miyuki has come to learn many different answers to this question, each and every one being equally important. As he rested with his head on Gwen’s lap, mindlessly playing with his long hair, he started listing them in his head one by one. His smile. His cheerfulness. His loyalty. How easily he manages to connect with anyone he meets. All his dog-like mannerisms. Every moment they spent together added more and more reasons why he was glad that despite everything, he decided to keep him by his side.
However, as he learnt through years spent taking on the mask of a perfect president and a model son, it’s best to keep things simple. Words once spoken cannot be taken back. Truth once told in full detail cannot be reframed into a lie later.
“Miyuki-chan. I’m gonna follow you wherever you go, and I’ll take you wherever you want to go. This, I promise. Now and forever.”
Those words had a certain weight to them. Binding someone forever. Had the circumstances been different, it would certainly be a joyous moment, a highlight of their relationship thus far. Miyuki, however, did not feel he was the right person one would want to be bound to. All he had was a duty to accomplish, a research to complete, and a vengeance to exact. He knew it’s precisely why Gwen held his hand this tight. Why at that moment he desperately pledged his entire life to him.
“Don’t promise anything. If you do, you won’t be able to go anywhere.”
I can’t accept your promise. Because I have no future to give you in return.
I love you.
The words he spoke as he left through the door of Miyuki’s bedroom, not to return again. The words that sealed a fate different than Miyuki had intended to shape. He expected Gwen to return his cruel words with anger. Rage at the partner who rejected him. Maybe he could have even killed him. And maybe it would have been better that way. But his hot-headed boyfriend was never good at following the plans he carefully prepared for him.
For Miyuki, it was natural to assume that they would never meet again. Gwen would move on eventually, and Miyuki would crash and burn along with the family that trapped him for his entire life. The course of their lives would return to how it was originally supposed to be, as if they never met each other. However, another possibility emerged, one that Miyuki had never before considered possible.
‘I love you’. Not ‘I loved you’. It was like a promise that he would come to see him again.