To this day, Takaba still didn't know who gave him the tip, or better yet that mysterious letter. It was labeled 'Looking for the scoop' and it somehow made way to his desk. It wasn't addressed to him exactly, so it could have gone to anybody.
But he was after all, happy, that it ended up in his hands.
He opened it, pouring the contents on his desk. Three items , a key, a pocket knife and a slip of paper sat in front of him. The slip of paper had an address on it. It led to a warehouse in Shinjuku.
Takaha supposed that he should have taken someone with him, but he ended up going on his own.
Upon entering the warehouse, Takaba had believed his eyes to be playing tricks on him. For a head of him, beaten, bloody and at the brink of death, sat a man tied to a chair. He wore a blouse, and slacks. His shoes were missing. He was hunched over, with blood oozing from his nostrils and mouth. His hair was matted and messy, and there were rips and tears all on his skin and blouse.
Takaba stood there and dropped the key. He was paralyzed, not at all sure what to do. Never had he been thrown into a situation like this, with a dead man, chained to a chair like some puppet. By this man's condition, he assumed that he had been tortured, and left there for days.
Something, his conscience perhaps, forced him to move. And slowly, he stepped towards the battered man and stood just a few inches away from him. Prior to this, he wanted to leave, but he also wanted to make sure this man was actually dead. And by the looks of it he was....
He coughed, and Takaba jumped back.
He began to break into a fit, and more blood poured from his mouth and down his chin, staining his white shirt. The photographer, jumping into action, took another step forward and tried to reach for the gagging man. In a reflex or so, the man shifted his weight and accidentally toppled over. The chair came falling down, and so did he.
“Crap....” Takaba knelt down and rummaged in his pocket for the knife. Creeping behind the man, he undid his binds and quickly pushed the chair off of him. The man's coughing fits continued, as he made no notion to move out of his own blood. Takaba, then inferred that his bones were most likely broken.
He crawled next to the man again and sat him up, leaning him against the chair. Takaba moved some hair out of his face and gazed into his amber eyes. They seemed to be the only things that were intact.
“I'm going to call an ambulance...it'll be okay.”
The man continued to cough, but no words escaped his lips. Takaba, shaking slightly, took out his phone to dial the ambulance.
This man had no name, no identity, no family.
After seeing him, so absent and distant in the hospital, Takaba couldn't leave him alone. He was immobile, wheelchair bound. He could hardly muster a sentence. In other words, he was vulnerable, exposed. Takaba figured that there were people after him, to kill him, like before.
So when the doctors asked about family, or living arrangements, the photographer volunteered himself.
The hospital bill was a bitch, but so was the daughter of former politician Hiyashi Haiyo. Rich, arrogant and rude, she happened to be on the top of the food chain. She also happened to be the very girl that Takaba stood up for in kindergarten when the bullies made fun of her curly hair and different skin.
Needless to say, the hospital bills vanished in less than twenty four hours, and so did Takaba's shady apartment.
“If you're going to have a man in a wheelchair,” She had told him. “Then you need to live in a place that looks suitable, and caters to his needs.” So she bought him a nice home located in the suburbs of Japan. There weren't stairs or anything like that rendering it impossible for a wheel chair. In addition, she hired a medical team to come and care for him seven times a week.
With all expenses covered, she made way back to Tokyo.
“Thanks for everything!” Takaba remembered calling out to her. “You're amazing!”
“You don't have to tell me what I already know!” Hiyashi replied before vanishing into her limousine.
Takaba was set, and so was this wheel chair man.
Takaba attempted to talk to the strange man, but he was always ignored. The doctors had informed Takaba that he wouldn't be talking right away, as his senses were still coming back. He was still rather slow, and couldn't walk. The photographer sometimes just stared at him, gazing into his amber eyes. They were blank and distant, most likely because he was so drugged. He was blank and distant. Still Takaba talked to him whenever he got the chance.
“Your hair is getting softer.” He'd usually compliment, when running a comb through those silky brunette locks. He didn't expect and answer, but at the same time he did. He always wanted this man to move, or do something of the sort, just to signify that he was listening.
The doctors tended to come a few minutes after Takaba had gotten back from Shinjuku. They had a way of being mysterious, yet at the same time obvious. The photographer would just sit and watch as they fixed the wheel chair man. He hated the way they'd stab numerous IV's and plunge tubes into his system. He figured that if he had a say, that if he could actually talk, things would be different.
Takaba would continue to gaze, pretending to look at the pictures he had taken. All the while, his eyes would be focused on his empty roommate. He wondered if he'd ever get his senses back.
Putting the wheel chair man to bed seemed to be one of the simplest things. By now, he actually regained some of his senses, which was surprisingly odd. He would shift his own weight rather than let Takaba do it. Before hand, Takaba was used to transporting him from his chair to the bed. Over the past few months, he'd lost a lot of weight.
Now, things were simpler. As that night, Takaba stood in the doorway shocked to see that he had already crawled into his bed, or was in the process of it. He of course, had trouble balancing his weight and Takaba quickly rushed over to help him.
“If you move too much...” He said quietly, kneeling down as wheelchair man came crashing to the ground. “Then you can really damage your spine. For now, until the doctors say otherwise, let me help you.” For the first time in months, Takaba actually saw those bright, amber eyes, gazing at him. Prior to this, they were void, now, they were full. Filled with light.
“Come on...let me help you.” The photographer managed, reaching out towards the amber eyed man. With trouble, the two finally made it to the bed where Takaba proceeded to tuck him in. Those unique orbs remained glued to him, even after he left the room.
Days later, wheel chair man began to move around a lot more, at least as best as he could. Takaba would sometimes watch in his struggle as he would stand, wobble and fall. Of course, the little photographer was always there to help him.
“It will take some time.” Takaba would say. “You're making progress anyway.”
A few mornings later, the photographer found himself opening the curtain in wheelchair man's room. From the bed, the man grunted as the powerful sun's rays hit his face. Takaba looked over his shoulder and frowned.
“Sorry..it's just so dark in here. I didn't mean to wake you.”
“I...it's....fine....” Ragged, and with much effort, wheelchair man spoke, causing the young photographer to spin around in shock.
“You spoke!” He practically scream, running over to the bed. “You talked! You said something!” He crawled and laid down next to him, gazing into his focused amber eyes. “You've been listening to me, right?”
To save himself the trouble, the man just nodded.
Takaba smiled, and moved some of the man's hair from his face. “You're getting better.”
He nodded again and closed his eyes. Before Takaba knew it, the amber eyed man was sleeping again.
He didn't know when he actually fell in love with the amber eyed man. It just kind of happened, almost naturally. The two had been living under the same roof, for months. Takaba was practically taking care of his every need.
He wasn't annoyed by all the work he had to do, nor the wheelchair man's tendency not to answer him. So he supposed, that over the months, he'd grown a natural love for him.
He enjoyed combing his hair, changing his clothes and putting him to bed. Takaba lived a hectic life, chasing scandals and running away from clubs owners and their crooks. Coming home, and tending to his wheel chair man brought a sense of peace to him.
Unluckily for him, it couldn't quite stay that way for ever.
Three weeks later, wheel chair had regained his movement.
Takaba came home tired and exhausted. He nearly screamed when he saw the amber eyed man, walking around, observing things. He picked up books, a camera and other items. From where he stood, the photographer placed his camera on the table and quickly rushed over to his wheel chair man.
“You can walk!” He exclaimed.
Blinking his amber eyes, the man turned around and looked down at Takaba. He looked rather menacing, now that he was standing. But the little photographer smiled and stood in front of him. He, of course, continued to stare.
“You're feeling better?” Takaba asked.
“Yes.” The man replied. His speech was more punctual than before. “I am.”
The photographer continued to gaze, captivated by those soft amber eyes. “What's your name?” He finally asked after months of calling him the wheel chair man.
“Asami,” He breathed. “Asami Ryuichi.” He stepped, forward and nearly fell over. Luckily Takaba acted as support, promptly pushing him on his feet.
“You're senses are still kind of off, just sit down.” Without struggle, the two made it to the sofa where they both sat. Instinctively, Takaba began to move Asami's bangs out of his face. The older man just remained silent, gazing in curiosity.
“There, now I can see your eyes.”
“You like doing that, don't you?” Asami replied.
“Well I assumed you didn't like your hair in your face.” Takaba managed. “And...how did you know_”
“I've been awake ever since you found me, Akihito.” The older man sighed. “Morphine and sedatives prevented me from doing anything.”
“You still have to go through a series..of....You aren't done yet. The doctors are coming over_”
The photographer sighed, and softly rested his hand upon Asami's. “Don't you want to get better?”
Asami didn't say anything.
Takaba just sighed, and pillowed his head upon Asami's shoulder.
After a few weeks, Asami had gotten better, though he didn't leave the house.
He and Takaba had gradually constructed a relationship. Despite the fact that they were so different, that they knew nothing about each other, they were so naturally attracted to each other. As if they were meant to be.
Soon, kisses became touches, and touches evolved into fierce, and aggressive pulls and tugs. No longer was Asami slow, soft and gentle. Takaba liked to believe that overtime, his love had quickly turned into lust. Hungry lust.
Sometimes, when the photographer came home after a stressful day at work, he'd be greeted by a powerful kiss. As time progressed, Takaba found himself in vulnerable positions, being bent over and fucked senseless by the older man.
He had, after weeks of enduring this, become accustomed to it. Before hand, he didn't know what to think, or how to even address it. Asami seemed not to care, so Takaba just remained silent. Now, it gave him a sense of normality. He felt that in allowing his own body to submit so willingly, he grew even closer to Asami than he already was.
Confusion, was the only thing that riddled in Takaba's mind.
With this new information bestowed upon him, about Asami's true identity, he couldn't believe that he housed such a man. A killer...a murderer. Takaba had let that man sleep in his bed, eat his food...he'd let that man fuck him, and he'd enjoyed it.
Asami Ryuichi had gone missing nearly a year ago, after a weapons trade gone wrong. On the outside, he was a high-class club owner and a business CEO. Underground however, he was a Crime Lord, even more menacing than a Yakuza.
Takaba had found him, after a rival turned on him.
Now, after a quick snoop with Mitarai, he knew the truth. He was going to confront Asami. He had all the evidence stacked up, and he just had to throw it at him. He would demand a plausible explanation and perhaps, even kick the man out of his house.
When he had arrived home that night, he met Asami in the bedroom. Surprisingly, the man was dressed in business attire, save for his tie and suit jacket. Stepping through the threshold, Takaba prepared to yell. Asami just turned around, and held his hand up.
“You have found out I assume?” He spoke, reaching for his tie.
The photographer stood there, gaping, not sure what to say. He gripped on to his camera and stared down, peering into the fish eye lenses. He wasn't quite sure when he'd replaced the lenses, nor was he sure why he chose a fish eye lenses. Perhaps for the better clarity.
“If it brings any comfort to you, I am leaving.” He reached for his tie and began to strap it around his neck. Takaba placed his camera on the bed, and continued to stare.
“You're a murderer...you kill people....you're a crook_”
“Yes, it's been said many times.” The final thing Asami rummaged for was his suit jacket, as he put his arms through the sleeves. “I'll be out of your hair. Thank you for everything, Akihito.”
“I can't believe I let you stay...” The photographer managed. “I should've let you die.”
“Maybe you should have.”
Asami looked nice, with his hair gelled back and his nice crisp suit clinging to him. He most certainly looked better dressed then, than the day Takaba found him. Still, it didn't change the fact that he looked prepared to attend a funeral. His own funeral. Takaba remembered the day he looked dead. The only thing that had an ounce of life were his warm, amber eyes. Back then, he had looked afraid. Now, he looked ambitious.
“I didn't mean that...” Takaba managed. But Asami just waved a hand.
“Thank you again_”
“I was under the impression that you wanted me too.”
The photographer blinked. “I was just angry.” He admitted, grabbing onto Asami's sleeve. “Besides you can't go, you're still injured.”
The business man chuckled. “Don't you know who I am? A killer, like you've already said_”
“I know who you used to be.” Takaba silenced him, and softly hugged him from behind. He wrapped his arms around Asami's clothed and muscular torso. “But I don't know who you are. You may have been a killer, in the past...but now....you can start over.”
For a second, the two stayed like that. Asami actually placed his hands upon Takaba's and rubbed them. He turned around, and shifted the embrace so that he had his little photographer in his strong arms.
“Thank you, for everything.”
And before Akihito knew it, everything went black.
A year later, he still saw Asami in the streets of Shinjuku, walking with those of his caliber.
Takaba couldn't ignore that pain in his heart, that tug that drove him to take those risky pictures, just to get a permanent image of him. His fish eye had never performed a greater job, as it had every night that Takaba captured his Asami.
He sometimes wondered, gazing at the photos, if Asami still thought of him. He wondered if he was just a fling, or a road block. He eventually found himself feeling negative about the whole ordeal. Perhaps, he should have let it go, given up on his foolish conquest.
He was nothing to Asami, just a bad memory.
Not only had his lenses broke, but his camera as well. Maybe he dropped it, but he didn't really care that much anymore. He'd by now, given up. With his room decorated with pictures of Asami, he felt somewhat complete. As if the man's presence still resided within the walls. Sometimes, he could still see him sitting there in the wheel chair, or still feel that loose hair hanging over his forehead.
Those thoughts and memories were bitter sweet. They sometimes brought Takaba anguish but other times, happiness.
Takaba woke from a short nap on the couch.
There was someone stroking his hair, making it impossible for him to ignore. Slowly, his eye lids fluttered open and his blue orbs nervously looked around the room.
“Good after noon.” The all too familiar voice spoke.
Takaba gasped and sat up, nearly toppling over the couch as he did so. “Asami!” He squealed. “You're here!”
“Indeed I am.” The businessman replied, leaning back against the couch. With one arm, he pulled the confused photographer into his lap. Over the months, he had certainly regained most, if not all of his muscle.
“You look healthy!” For some reason, Takaba's eyes became misty. Asami just chuckled.
“Thanks to you.” He wiped the photographer's tears from his eyes.
“Why'd you come back?”
“Because you stopped following me.” The businessman admitted. “You stopped taking pictures, so I grew worried_”
“You knew I was taking pictures_”
“Of course I did.” Asami replied. “I've been watching your for a while. You don't think I see you, hiding behind street posts, or in that same mangy car?”
“It's all I can afford.” The youth snapped.
Asami chuckled, and pulled him into a tighter embrace. Takaba melted into his wool suit jacket. “Please don't leave me again.” He silently whispered. “I can't handle that anymore...”
“I'm sorry, for any pain I caused you before hand.” Asami stroked Takaba's hair. “You were in danger. It was a risk for you to keep me.”
“I'm glad I did.”
Asami leaned down and kissed Takaba's blond hair.
There were still troubles ahead, but things were clear. They had both obtained the clarity they needed, like a fog less fish eye lenses.
And despite the fact that Takaba did in fact yearn for his 'wheel chair' man, Asami Ryuichi would be just fine.