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Lonely Heart

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Zenkichi always thought the younger man that abruptly came into his life was nothing short of odd.

His newfound partner and criminal profiler was sympathetic, with a bit of patience; alert and quick to pick up even the most minute of details from mere images. Unlike his other coworkers that stirred up frustration and annoyance far too often. There was also an anxious feel about him when he first came at Zenkichi’s doorstep to work on his first few cases, the fragility he had not yet learned to fully conceal. A man quite impulsive, imperfect really, even in Zenkichi’s eyes hardened by the heavy years in the force.

From the second he stepped into the Hasegawa home, Zenkichi almost dropped everything to helped him be as comfortable as possible. He helped him unpack, oriented him about the work they were going to do, and acquainted him with the few rooms and hallways in the small home for three. It was as if a new warmth had entered the home after the months after the summer, one that Zenkichi could vaguely recall as the same as when his wife was still present.

Akane, his daughter, even agreed with him, as he found her smiling happily in her sleep before he and his partner started to work on the case files. The young man was starting to fit nicely, even if he was a bit nervous in being accepted rather quickly.

Well, he seemed to be fitting in as seamlessly as Zenkichi thought.

Weeks, almost a month had passed by before Zenkichi grew concerned of the increase of visits unrelated to work. And to add to his own increase of curious, confused questions as to why, the young man never bothered to speak a word of it. Avoidant, he noticed, how the man dodged his questions and averted his worried eyes. Just as he once did when he couldn’t face Akane, when the household was nothing more than a cold tomb, a reminder of what had been lost to cruel fate.

Zenkichi had stepped away from the dinner table for a moment, paying the deliveryman at the door for the food he ordered. A soft, strangled noise came as he returned.

His feet froze, unable to move from the small wall that separated him and the young man. Zenkichi’s gaze drifted to the side, eyeing down at the small paper bag with three bowls of ramen and a small pack of apple juice boxes. Strands of his hair fell in front of his eyes, casting his eyes in a dark grey hue. He had almost forgotten to breath, stopping as the noise brought forth more memories of a harsh winter.

The rumble in his head forced him to move, taking small steps into the warm light that glowed and engulfed the dinner table in golden light.

“H-Hey,” Zenkichi cleared his throat, quietly breaking through the noise.

The slightly huddled shape wrapped in a white sweater stopped shaking, the noise ceasing in its wake. “Z-Zen…! Sorry about that…” The thin clear stains ran down his cheeks, dripping on to his neck. Slowly, his arms once wrapped around himself faltered, falling to his sides.

Zenkichi planted himself in the soaked soil in Takuto’s eyes, in the depths of a grief he was all too familiar with. The broken man’s words were all bones and broken glass. Zenkichi stepped closer, moving the files to set the bag on the table. A simple wrong move; the floor creaked below him, causing Takuto to jump. An angel surrounded by pins and needles, soft brown eyes swallowing clouds.

“Sorry…! My bad,” Zenkichi stepped away, keeping the small distance between him and the other man. He frowned, looking down at Takuto, whilst the dust of the seasons resting on his cheeks. The cloudy skies still reflect the way they both felt inside; the rumbling in Zenkichi’s head reminded. “…You don’t have to be alright.” He sighed,

“I have to get through the rest of this, though.” Takuto’s arms wrapped around his figure again, gripping the soft cotton snow fabric on his body. If he were to close his eyes, perhaps, the clouds would part their way and he could forget it all existed. However, something in the back of his head decided otherwise.

Takuto shook his head, breathing heavily and turning to meet a gentle warmth. The realization that the other man was hugging him brought new tears in his eyes; barely able to breathe, crying once more.

This is what i feared the most. This moment right here. The transition between having something and having nothing but regret. And it’s happening right now, right in front of my eyes.’ Takuto wanted to pour out. The light above them danced in the shine of his eyes like how the stars danced in the sky. ‘I saw her in your eyes, a love I thought I could only bring back in my dreams. As I reach back and feel your heart still beating, above us are the same stars I once had with her.’

Still, Takuto’s mourning was hushed, as if he was worried that if he made too much noise the walls might cave over into him. But Zenkichi grasped him tighter, as if Takuto would melt away if he were to let go. The young man’s heart long broken cried, and Zenkichi took it, transformed it into gold.