Always, it would be in the same place. Meeting, after dark, on that same bridge. Sometimes it would have rained and he'd hear the rush and whisper of rainfall against the leaves and against his window, before leaving the house. He'd take a coat and perhaps an umbrella and, in that case, the rain would often have stopped by the time he brought himself to leave the house, but it never hurt to be prepared. Coat and umbrella and the dark, dark night.
The tube didn't run at this time of the night. There were nightbuses, if he wished to catch them. (He didn't.) He held the handle of the umbrella in gloved hands, as if he were simply a businessman on his way to work and not, as it was, some momentary lost soul trying to find solace in the city.
Come the morning, he would be the businessman. Then, he would ride the tube. Or get a taxi. One or the other. Perhaps the other.
Takumu would wait on that bridge, in walking distance from Yoshikuni's abode. It would be more trouble for Takumu to come here than the other way around; London had its roads and streets and interconnecting pathways and there was always some way to get somewhere somehow, if you so wished. A bridge was there for public convenience, and Takumu would wait. For the sake of convenience.
He would smile at Yoshikuni as he approached, watching that approach, not moving his arms from where they leant against the siderail. Watching, watching, smirking, knowing. Knowing that Yoshikuni would come here, now, at this time. Years ago, Yoshikuni might have been delighted or horrified by such a supposition; how dare he claim to know Yoshikuni's thoughts?! (How dare he not?!) These days, however, it was all the more pedestrian. Back then, the folly of youth had been on their side, and everything had always been so dramatic. Everything heightened by the uncertainty of their teenage years, everything had been the best and the most and the worst. If there was happiness, it felt like it would never end. If there was pain, it felt as if there could be nothing worse. If there was sadness, it felt as if it were the last and final emotion to envelope everything, because surely there could be nothing beyond this...!
(The folly of youth, indeed.)
Takumu would press black-leather fingers against his mouth, turning away from Yoshikuni and looking out towards the river. "I knew you'd be here."
He'd look as if he hadn't changed. Older, but still the same. Looking and knowing, filled out by age and experience but still cut and tall and slim as he'd ever been. How many years would it have been, now...? The same for Yoshikuni as it had been for Takumu, but he wondered if the years had treated him as kindly. He wasn't the model, though. He wasn't the one who could only rely on his looks for his career (and never a day went by where he wasn't thankful for that, in comparison to Takumu's chosen profession). The bridge lay lit by bright white light, setting it aside as some sort of oasis in the night for those who had reason to cross the path at that time of night. Takumu's coat was almost as white as that light, as a contrast to his gloves and his boots and whatever else he wore lay obscured by the sweep of that garment, pulled close and furred where it fastened. Fashionable? Yoshikuni had no idea of these things, but knew that Takumu wouldn't leave the house without believing - knowing? - himself to be so. His job depended on such things, of course, but then his job also lay dictated by the whims of others - those behind the camera, those dictating the yearly fashion trends, all these unpredictable and whimsical forces moving him around like a piece on a gameboard... and one could view any profession the same, he knew, but what was it that Takumu thought? Did he never want freedom, autonomy, the space to make his own decisions...? Being a model wasn't exactly easy, Yoshikuni had learnt that through continued exposure to one, but it seemed difficult in different ways to, for example, managing a company, financing a business, being responsible for a team, all of these daily duties. The camera would turn on him and he could empty his mind and who would know? Nobody would care. What Takumu thought wasn't important, so long as he continued to look. And surely, he looked. He looked the same as he ever did and he looked, to Yoshikuni, irresistible.
And it had been years, since then. Years since it had all come crashing down around them, bringing everybody else down with them. So much destruction lay in their wake, Yoshikuni wondered if the connected threads of his past influence didn't still run in that school to this day. It didn't matter, of course, but he hadn't known that, back then. None of them had. If those threads still existed it was because those pupils still hadn't learnt that concept as a lesson, not that Yoshikuni would expect them to. They would learn, but it would take time beyond Seirei's walls for them to know. What could they do then? It wasn't a knowledge that could be imparted to the school's current crop, only something that one had to experience. During their time at Seirei, that school had been their world. Beyond it, however, was so much more. Things that had seemed important there were insignificant now, and Yoshikuni wished he'd realised such a thing a decade or two earlier, and then perhaps they wouldn't be here like this--
"Hey, Kuni." (That old nickname. Causing a flinch, like it ever did.) "You remember, don't you?"
A loaded question. Too many answers. Remember? Oh, so much. A fraction of days compared to the rest of his life outside it, but some days it felt like those two years on Seirei Gakuen's prestigious Student Council lay seared across his heart and mind, like a brand burnt into his skin and further. One could mark skin and break it until a brand lay unrecognisable, but nothing could remove those memories and that knowledge. Did they still undergo that tradition, even now? Was the Student Council still running strong? Yoshikuni would close his eyes and take a deep breath even to think of such a thing. Disband it, he would think. Demolish the old school building. Gather them together and tell them not to rely on practices that bred both ego and danger. One could make an argument for anything, but Yoshikuni was tired. Tired of all of this.
Yoshikuni would remember because he could never forget. Because being able to remember was his reward and his punishment for having been the leader of the Student Council for those two years. If he could pass on some sort of warning--... but that wasn't possible. Instead, he could watch mistakes repeat themselves on a yearly cycle, or he could leave the country and ignore the fact that such a system still existed. He picked the latter.
Takumu would still lean against the bridge, finger against his lips, still smirking. "Remember when you were in love with me?"
Again, a loaded question. The type that made Yoshikuni step forward and take hold of the rail, bracing himself as if against the chill of the night air and hoping that that explanation lay more obvious than his true reason. Remember? He could never forget. Tied in so deeply with those days - years - spent on the Student Council, it would take a lifetime and then some to only firm the knowledge that he could never forget. That wording, also - was it not mutual? It had seemed so at the time. Takumu had been as enthusiastic as seemed possible, although Yoshikuni came to doubt this in the time that followed.
Yoshikuni remembered, because he had never stopped. This wasn't to say that he was still in love with Takumu, far from it - simply, some spark still fired into the darkness where that feeling used to lie. Back then, surely, Yoshikuni had been in love. Takumu had removed himself from the equation, but what could be done about that? Yoshikuni couldn't turn his feelings off, after all. Perhaps, he wondered, he'd burnt himself out; those feelings railed against any sort of rational thought, still pining and yearning long after his mind had accepted the inevitability even if it had not been able to make peace with it. He still yearned, but for what? That, he didn't know. To be stood next to Takumu, Yoshikuni would know it not him. Not now, as he was. Was this a subset of nostalgia? The intense and unpleasant desire for something that wasn't and could no longer be, for something that had perhaps never existed in the first place... what was that?
Unpleasant, Yoshikuni would think. He remembered, but it brought no good memories. Everything was poisoned and tainted and even those positive memories touched by doubt - back then, he hadn't even thought to question that those feelings were mutual and, indeed, Takumu's own behaviour - and his own words, even! - seemed to bear this out, but Takumu was fickle and he was unpredictable and Yoshikuni simply hadn't known that, back then.
He remembered. Such desires had been the games of children, however, and he liked to think that he'd outgrown such things. The power games of the Student Council and Takumu's outright manipulation, his downward spiral and all it had brought with it. No, but he was an adult now - an adult who had the potential to love and love appropriately, to have a normal relationship and function in society as such things were expected to. The fact that there had been nothing and nobody since those wayward days of his youth was nothing in particular; it wasn't unusual for interpersonal relationships to take a back seat to one's career, especially in his field. Such things would come in the future. Affection, love, marriage, children. Yoshikuni had lived his life on the expectations of others and the thought that those expectations could have been so thoroughly shattered by one flighty youth in the midst of his teenage years seemed like too frightening a concept to even try to handle. No, these things just hadn't happened because they hadn't happened yet, but they would. Yoshikuni kept telling himself this, deflecting the queries of his co-workers when they asked why he never brought anybody along to company functions.
Yoshikuni would stare out at the water and wonder what questions he could ask Takumu in return. Remember when you--
Remember when you lied? That seemed to be the only question that rang true. When you spoke of love, and need, and a future? Do you remember that? Yoshikuni wouldn't ask, because he doubted that Takumu even did. All of those things that had seemed so important, all of those words that Yoshikuni had committed to memory the moment his mind had been able to make sense of them - all those things that had sounded pretty and fanciful and true, because why wouldn't they be...?
Takumu worked in America, now. They'd both gone abroad, as it'd happened, although to entirely different countries. Wasn't that the way of the Student Council? Dazzle domestically, seek fame and fortune overseas. Takumu's modelling career was universal (and he attended a lot of events in Europe, naturally) and his films also held that appeal, as broad a base as they held. Broad and base, at the very least. Yoshikuni knew that he had no desire nor reason to visit America and, in his heart, that Takumu had no real reason to visit London, either.
Nonetheless, he would stand on that bridge and entertain the notion that, perhaps, someday, he might.