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Zutto Futari (Together Forever)

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Since the start, the love between Gackt and Yoshiki hadn’t been an easy thing – years ago, after a meeting about disbanding the short-lived S.K.I.N project, the pair had gotten fantastically drunk. There were confessions, and the two had slept together. The morning after, the two men were forced to confront what had always been there – and for a time, things were alright; they truly did adore each other. But, despite their attraction, cracks began to form almost immediately; Yoshiki had kept waffling back and forth between his realized affections for the handsome singer, and the utter devotion he held for his dead lover. So very many years had passed, and yet Yoshiki could not bring himself to completely move on. But, his feelings for Gackt were powerful, too; and so, he tried.

Gackt knew that he would likely never be able to replace Hide in Yoshiki’s heart; just as he knew very well that Yoshiki could not fill the void that Kami had left within him. Still, though it was hard, he had learned to live without the specter of the deceased drummer looming over his every day. And he truly did love Yoshiki; more than he thought he would ever be able to love again – he told him so all the time, and tried to show it. Gackt knew, too, that Yoshiki often struggled with depressive episodes; it ran in his family, after all. So, when he was feeling down, Gackt was ever so careful around the older man. Whenever he could, he would surprise him in the studio with his favourite wine and snacks, and they would laugh and reminisce together.

Yoshiki could see how hard the younger man tried – every day, he told him how much he loved him; and he really did mean it. Yoshiki adored Gackt with every fibre of his being; he thanked the gods every single day that they had found their way to each other. When he was with him, things were good – they laughed a lot, relied on each other. But at the back of his mind, buried deep, Hide’s brightly smiling face reminded him that he wasn’t completely free. Don’t forget me, Hide’s eyes seemed to caution, do not forget our life together. And so, Yoshiki’s heart was occupied by two; and sometimes, it was crowded. Spring was especially difficult for him; every day that passed brought him closer and closer to May 2nd. He hated Springtime; the melting snow and the budding flowers gave him no joy – instead, he saw the bare trees, the cold ground. He cursed the blue sky for mocking him with its brightness; every year, his moroseness seemed to grow stronger. And this year, this May, would mark 20 years since Hide’s death. The weight of this particular anniversary threatened to crush both Gackt and Yoshiki with its burden.

*

“Good morning, my love,” Gackt kissed Yoshiki’s cheek softly. Yoshiki’s eyes fluttered awake; smiling, he drew the younger man in closer, stroking his hair. The morning light graced the men’s faces softly, gently. On quiet mornings like this, Gackt was glad they had bought a secret shared apartment, all those years ago. Here, they could be together and relax, away from prying eyes.

“Morning,” Yoshiki sighed happily, stretching. “Did you sleep well?” He twirled pieces of Gackt’s platinum blond hair in his fingers. Gackt nodded. “What shall we do today?” Our schedules are finally free, Yoshiki mused. I’ve been everywhere to promote the film, but at last we’re resting now. It’s nice to have some time to breathe.

Gackt began to hum, thinking about what to do. “Let’s go eat something delicious.”

“Yes,” Yoshiki purred against Gackt’s neck. “I’m hungry.”

Gackt grinned and drew the other man in close for a kiss.

*

The pair stepped out into the warm spring sun; breathing in deeply. Yoshiki linked arms with the younger man and squeezed tightly. There weren’t very many people out on the street yet; the men passed by a grandmother and a little boy, and a teenager with bright pink hair delivering newspapers. Yoshiki watched him go from door to door, his pace slowing slightly.

“It’s a beautiful day,” Gackt remarked, unaware of what Yoshiki was thinking. “Why don’t we go to the park and eat there?” Yoshiki nodded, seemingly far away.

“Yo-chan, what’s wrong?” Gackt asked softly. “We don’t have to do that, I just thought it was a pretty morning.” He stopped walking.

“No, no, it’s alright,” Yoshiki replied, rather weakly. “My mind was just somewhere else for a moment.” Gackt followed the older man’s eyes to where the pink-haired teenager had been. Oh, he realized, his chest suddenly feeling hollow. I understand now.

Gackt decided not to mention the similarity; instead he tried to change the subject. “Yo-chan, you know what we haven’t done in a long time?”

“What, Gacchan?” Yoshiki tried to smile, clearly still thinking about what had happened.

“We haven’t gone to an amusement park in ages. Wouldn’t that be fun?” That used to make you so happy, Gackt pleaded in his mind. How you used to laugh! He tried to keep his voice light. “Remember how scared you get on roller coasters, and you have to bury your head in my shoulder?”

At that, Yoshiki cracked a real smile. “You know, Gacchan,” he said at last, “that does sound like fun. I’d like that.” He slipped his hand into Gackt’s back pocket. “But for now, let’s eat.”

“Yes,” Gackt teased. “You worked up an appetite this morning, didn’t you?”

Laughter.

*

One evening, after spending some time at the bar watching young hopefuls strum their guitars and sing, the pair wandered home, delightfully drunk. Yoshiki’s mood seemed to have improved; he sang along to the cover songs and had snuck a few kisses along Gackt’s cheek and neck while no one was watching. Gackt was happy, too; as they walked together, arm in arm, he looked up at the moon, full and glowing.

“Yo-chan,” he sing-songed into the other’s ear, “isn’t the moon pretty, tonight?” He took Yoshiki’s hand and gently pulled him into the dark alleyway, kissing him softly against the wall. Yoshiki smiled against Gackt’s mouth, kissing him back and holding him close. Gackt cupped Yoshiki’s face in his hands, his thumbs stroking along the other man’s jawline.

“You’re prettier,” Yoshiki whispered against Gackt’s lips, grinning. He slipped a hand under the neck of Gackt’s shirt and traced along the younger man’s collarbone. “My Gacchan…” he kissed him softly, deep.

“Tell me you love me, Yo-chan,” Gackt purred, parting Yoshiki’s thighs with his right leg and pressing against him.

“I love you…” Yoshiki breathed in sharply, feeling Gackt’s bulge against his own. “I love you…” He kissed Gackt’s neck. Yoshiki’s hands traveled up and down the other man’s back, clinging to him tightly. It was still early in the evening; barely 10pm – people were still milling about on the main streets. Though, neither man cared much if they were caught.

Suddenly, a cat knocking over a can startled them, the frightened mewing of the animal catching them off-guard.

Laughter.

“Let’s go home, Gacchan,” Yoshiki purred. “Don’t start something you don’t intent to finish.”

*

It had been three weeks since the lovers had slept together. Gackt was used to these spells; he knew that Yoshiki withdrew more in the spring. How many years have we been together? He mused one day, scribbling lyrics on the couch. I know it’s hard for you, but… I miss you. I miss the noises you make... I miss your smiling face when you tell me how much you love me.

“Gacchan, what are you writing?” Yoshiki sat by Gackt’s outstretched feet on the couch, propping up his legs and resting them on his lap. “A new song?”

“I’m just playing around, really,” Gackt replied, handing Yoshiki the notebook. “It’s not much right now.” Yoshiki scanned the lyrics, eyes flitting from one end of the page to the next, following Gackt’s delicate handwriting, and smiling as he looked on at his doodles of flowers and hearts.

“It’s like a schoolgirl’s notebook page,” Yoshiki teased, “are you in love with someone?” He grinned cheesily and squeezed Gackt’s feet on his lap.

“It so happens,” Gackt playfully snatched the notebook back and leaned forward, their faces close. “That I am very much in love with someone, in fact.” He inched closer, their faces only just barely not touching. He looked at Yoshiki’s lips. “Can you guess who?”

Yoshiki smiled and closed the short distance with a kiss. Gackt sighed as Yoshiki cupped his face and deepened the kiss, moving on top of the young man where he lay on the couch, his legs straddling Gackt’s hips. Yoshiki grinned against Gackt’s kiss-swollen lips. “Is it…” he slipped a hand under the waistband of the other man’s sweatpants. “Is it me, perhaps…?” Yoshiki’s long fingers trailed gingerly along Gackt’s now throbbing bulge, eliciting a moan from his lips.

“Yoshiki…” Gackt murmured, eyes heavy with lust. He took Yoshiki’s chin in his hand forcefully and brought their faces together for a deep kiss.

*

“Yoshiki, let me in,” Gackt pleaded softly against the closed bedroom door. “Please.”

“I can’t. I’m sorry. I need to be alone.” Yoshiki’s voice was weak, shaking. “I’m alright, Gacchan. I just… I need to be alone.”

“Yo-chan, please… don’t do this again… don’t hurt yourself…” Gackt rested his forehead against the door. Please let me in… frustrated, he felt hot tears begin to well up behind his eyes; he let them fall, sobbing softly. “Please let me in…”

He slumped against the door and blinked up at the ceiling. Not again… He did not know how many minutes passed like that, crying softly against the door, before he heard Yoshiki’s familiar footsteps coming towards him from the other side. He stood up, hopeful. Yoshiki turned the doorknob.

“Gacchan,” he said weakly, eyes downcast. “I’m sorry.” In his hand was a fan letter with a photo of Hide and Yoshiki from back in the 90s, with heavy eyeliner and sky-high hair. Gackt took Yoshiki’s hands and wrapped them around his waist, hugging him tightly.

“Yo-chan,” Gackt whispered. “it’s alright to cry.” He wiped his own tears with one hand as his other gently stroked Yoshiki’s back. As though at last given permission, Yoshiki began to sob against Gackt’s shoulder. Thank the gods that you are not hurt… Gackt felt the tears return to his own eyes. I wish you would let me grieve with you, instead of keeping him to yourself like this… look how it destroys you… oh my love…

Gackt led the weeping Yoshiki over to their bed, and took the fan letter and photograph from his shaking hands. He scanned the letter, and knew what had triggered Yoshiki’s episode. “I think of him every day, Hayashi-san. How can you go on living so comfortably, when he is gone? Don’t you remember him anymore?” His eyes narrowed. How can people who call themselves fans send him things like this? They have no idea what it’s like to lose the one you love, so publicly. How dare they…

“Yo-chan,” he said softly. “Don’t listen to them. They don’t know what they’re talking about.” He stroked Yoshiki’s hair, soothing the older man. “People like that… they’re not real fans. They don’t care about your feelings…”

“But they’re right!” Yoshiki interrupted. “How can I go on living when Hide isn’t here? How can I celebrate another birthday without him? How can we tour America without him? That was his greatest dream!” He punched the bedding with a fist. “How can I love someone else so much…” he looked at Gackt. “How can I love another man so much…?” he touched Gackt’s cheek with a trembling hand.

“Yo-chan,” Gackt melted into the other man’s touch, and took his hand. “I wish my love for you was enough…” it’s never going to be enough, is it? He wondered. You loved Hide so much, and he loved you more than anything. I know that, but… why can’t I be enough for you, now?

Yoshiki’s eyes filled with tears and he crashed their faces together. “Gacchan, Gacchan…” he repeated, between kisses. “You have always been enough for me…”

“How can I be?” Gackt questioned, feeling his emotions rising like bile in his throat. “How can I ever be enough for you, if Hide is still taking up residence in your broken heart?”

“Gacchan…” Yoshiki’s eyes turned downcast. “I am sorry…” he held on to the photo sent with the letter, unwilling to put it down. “It is not an easy thing…”

“And you think forgetting Kami was?” Gackt found himself saying. “I think of him every single day, Yo-chan. But it’s you that I love. It’s you that I want to hold in my arms when I’m falling asleep, it’s your face I see when I’m lonely and touring. Kami forgives me from heaven, I know he does… why can’t you see that it’s okay to move on?” Gackt’s voice was pleading, wavering; threatening to break. He took Yoshiki’s face in his hands. “Look at me, Yo-chan,” he begged. “Look at me and tell me you love me, like you used to…”

Yoshiki slowly met the other man’s gaze. “Gacchan,” he said softly. “Gacchan, I love you…” eyes filled with tears, he kissed the young man. “Can’t you feel it?” He wrapped his arms around him, and held him tightly. Gackt kissed him back, forcefully, urgently.

*

Yoshiki was the first to wake up – they lay together, half-clothed, on the bed. “Oh, my Gacchan,” he whispered, stroking the other man’s blond hair as he slept. “I am so sorry… I am only causing you pain, aren’t I?” He sighed, fighting tears. “Maybe you would be happier if I truly did just disappear…”

“Don’t you dare,” Gackt muttered sleepily. He turned over on his side and faced the other man. “Yo-chan, don’t ever leave me…” he ran a hand softly from Yoshiki’s arm up to his neck and held it there, bringing him in for a kiss. “I know how hard it has been for you, all these years… but I want to walk with you through these dark days, together. Please don’t ever leave me…”

Yoshiki managed a weak smile, eyes sparkling with love. “Oh, my Gacchan,” he sighed, kissing him. “I promise. If it’s for you… I’ll carry on.”

*

May 2nd, 2018

The weather was soft and warm – Yoshiki and Gackt made their familiar way through the streets of Miura, choosing to spend the day where Hide’s spirit now rested. They would visit his grave later on, when the crowds of fans had finally gone. Isn’t that beautiful? Gackt mused. Twenty years, and he is still so very loved… I can see it on your face, Yo-chan, that you, too…

“Gacchan?” Yoshiki asked. “You’re miles away.” He rested a hand on top of the other man’s where they sat in a small café.

“It’s nothing,” Gackt lied. “The train journey must have tired me out.” He sipped his coffee, now grown cold. “Where else should we visit today?” Trying to keep his tone light, he added, “the weather is too pretty for us to just go back to the hotel room.”

Yoshiki thought for a moment, and smiled. “There’s a pretty park nearby, we could buy some snacks and rest there for a while if you like.” For a day as important as this, Gackt thought, his mood is strangely upbeat.

“Yes,” Gackt agreed. “Let’s go buy some delicious things and go rest in the park.”

*

Dusk at last fell; the pair made their way to Hide’s grave. Arm in arm, they wordlessly made their way to the large, imposing, cold marble grave marker. There were so many flowers freshly laid, Gackt felt dizzy at their aroma. They too, brought flowers; Yoshiki carefully laid his bouquet of white lilies down at the base and bent his head in prayer, hands folded. Gackt looked on for a moment at the scene, before laying down his own bundle of flowers – bright pink dahlias – and taking his place next to Yoshiki to pray.

Gackt thought for a moment about what he should say. This was not the first time he had come to see Hide; but the weight of this anniversary felt like it would crush him. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

Dearest Hide, it’s been twenty years since you went to heaven. Things have changed so much since you’ve been gone – X is still together; you would be so proud of them, to see how successful they’ve grown, even in America. You see all of that though, don’t you? From heaven. Of course, you do. Hide… you must know how very deeply I love him. But Yoshiki, he can’t bring himself to let you go. He’ll never forget you… just as I will never, never forget how dearly I loved Kami. But his heart is heavy. He worries that you will curse him for loving another. That’s not true, is it? You’ll continue to watch over him, even if he at last allows himself to love me… won’t you? Please let him go, Hide. Please let him see that I am here. I want him to be happy. Please give him that gift. He misses you so… please send him a sign that it is alright to love me. He wants to be able to think of you and smile; all he does now is cry. Surely you don’t want that, do you? Please show him it’s okay to move on. With me…

He concluded his prayers with a Buddhist sutra for safe passage to the afterlife, and bowed deeply. Straightening his back, he looked over at Yoshiki, still bent in prayer. He rested a hand supportively on the other man’s back and traced gentle circles. After a few more minutes, Yoshiki finished his prayers.

“Are you alright?” Gackt asked, concerned. Yoshiki’s eyes were filled with tears, but he nodded yes. Gackt drew him in close, and kissed the top of his head.

“Gacchan,” Yoshiki whispered, “how you care for me… I’m sorry I have not always been there for you in the same way.” He looked up at the younger man, and dried his eyes. “I know that you suffer like I do… I have been selfish, all these years. Grieving on my own, pushing you away… for that, I am sorry.”

“Yoshiki, you don’t have to apologize,” Gackt began.

“Yes, I do,” Yoshiki continued. “Today marks twenty years since Hide left this world. Twenty years I have held on to him as though he were still standing next to me… when it has been you, that has stood by me. All this time.” He kissed Gackt softly. “Gacchan, for you… I will try to move on. I want to be able to love you with all of me. Like you have done for me. I want to love you as fiercely and unabashedly as you have loved me, all this time.”

“Yo-chan, I don’t know what to say to that…” Gackt smiled, hand still on Yoshiki’s arm. “You… are you just saying that to make me happy?” He wondered, his voice just above a whisper.

“Gacchan,” Yoshiki took Gackt’s face in his hands and brought their lips together. When they at last broke apart, Yoshiki sighed. “I have said my goodbyes. Today is a day to remember Hide… but I can only celebrate in the world of the living. With you. Please… allow me to stay by your side.”

Gackt smiled against Yoshiki’s lips. “Oh, my Yo-chan…” he breathed. “It is so good to see you smile…” he kissed the older man deeply, hoping that his feelings would somehow be felt through his lips.

*

The next morning, Gackt awoke first. Eyes squinting to see what time it was, he was instead distracted by the soft pink glow of the morning light. The entire sky was a beautiful shade of pink; he smiled, noting that even the sun seemed to have a fuchsia glow. He scanned the sky, rubbing his eyes. The moon still hung in the morning sky – it, too…

“Yo-chan, wake up,” he gently shook the other man awake. “Look how beautiful the sky is, this morning.” Yoshiki stretched awake, and sat up in bed, leaning his chin on Gackt’s bare shoulder. He looked out the hotel window and once he registered what it was that he was looking at, his eyes grew wide.

“Gacchan, look,” he took Gackt’s hand and led him out of bed to stand next to the large window. “Look how beautiful.” Turning to Gackt with a smile on his face, he pulled the younger man in for a slow, deep kiss.

Is that you, Hide? Painting the sky like this, just for me? You were always a fan of drama… the sun and the moon’s game of hide and seek… both shining in the sky together, a beautiful shade of pink. How like you. Does this mean that you’re at last alright with me… moving on? Hide… I will never forget you. Thank you for at last letting me know that it’s okay.

I love you, Hide.

Thank you.