Fuyuki woke up late that day. The sun was already high up in the sky when he emerged from the black waters of a dreamless night. He felt dizzy; his head was heavy and he had a foul taste in his mouth. The worst of it was that despite all efforts, he couldn’t remember anything of the previous evening.
He decided to take one step at a time and carefully descended from the bed. His whole body was aching; for a moment he almost fell on his knees. He had no real fever but his inside felt feverish and the strong daylight pained his senses. He stood still for a moment, took a deep breath and made his way to the shower.
The steady flow of water eased his pains and helped him regain his balance. He made some disturbing discoveries; there was a pink, sore spot on his left upper arm and a purplish larger spot on his neck, right under his earlobe. Yet his memory was blocked like somebody had pushed the “delete” button.
Yoshiasu was due to come home only Friday and today was/ probably/ Wednesday. Fuyuki left the shower and dressed up. He went to the kitchen and took out some salad from the refrigerator, made some toast and a strong, hot coffee to clear his mind. He wasn’t at ease at all; he felt sick and he was alone. He pushed the button on the TV set and let the noise fill the surroundings. He took his cell phone and left a message for Yoshiasu. He was missing him.
Fuyuki eat a little although the food tasted like cardboard in his mouth; he took the mug of coffee and sat on the top of a high chair hoping to clear his mind. Nothing useful came to him so he decided to look into his clothes from the previous day. He found his organizer and remembered that till half past eight he had been at the exhibition hall along with the other four artists. He also found his car keys but he couldn’t remember driving home. As he was trying to fill in the missing moments the doorbell rang and a male voice announced that he had a delivery. Fuyuki opened the door and let the young man in. He was close to his age and was carrying a middle sized box wrapped up in expensive paper.
The name of the sender was unfamiliar but he took the parcel anyway; he didn’t want to create problems for the young guy. He signed for it and gave a generous tip. On a spur of a moment Fuyuki asked the guy if he would not like to have a coffee until he looks into the package. Fuyuki felt the need of a living soul next to him; probably the delivery guy sensed something or it was just the shade of fatigue showing in Fuyuki’s violet-blue eyes, but he decided to take the offer. They both sat around the table and Fuyuki unwrapped the parcel: it contained a bottle of very expensive champagne, an equally expensive box of chocolate and an unmarked envelope. Fuyuki took out the envelope and his heart sank; he had a bad feeling about its content.
Giving a small smile to his guest he stood up and went to the window to look to the content; there were only two items inside- a photo and a white card with only a few words in handwriting: “ You are even more beautiful at a closer look. Thank you.”
Fuyuki felt sick; he didn’t have to look at the photo; he knew exactly what it was. He stood up pale like a sheet of paper and shaking from inside. He took a deep breath and handed the box to the young man.
-Take it, please; it’s yours- he said in a coarse voice.
The delivery guy looked up in surprise.
-But Mr. Tanaka…I can’t…this is very expensive.
-Please…-whispered Fuyuki. Do me this favor. Thank you.
He let the man out; the guy turned to him and asked in a worried voice:
-Are you OK? Do you want me to call a doctor? You’re very pale…
-No, thanks; I can manage-said Fuyuki.
As the puzzled man left with the expensive gift, Fuyuki sank on the bed. He took out his phone and left another message to Yoshiasu. This time it was an urging one: “Come home please.”
Half an hour later a very worried Yoshiasu called home; Fuyuki’s voice was almost inaudible.
-Fuyuki, what happened?! Where are you?
-Please…come home…I’m here…please-Fuyuki’s voice broke.
He wasn’t able to say more; Yoshiasu clearly heard the sobs then the line went dead. He quickly assessed the situation and looked for the shortest way home. He excused himself from his colleagues and packed up hurriedly. He caught the proper flight and by half past eight was already home.
He entered the house and found Fuyuki asleep on the bed; he was in his usual troubled position, curled up like a baby. His eyelids were swollen and his cheeks were streaked with tears. Yoshiasu sat next to him and gently touched his companion. Fuyuki stirred and woke up; as he saw Yoshiasu he fled into his arms, hiding his face.
-I’m here- said Yoshiasu in a soothing voice. Fuyuki, look at me…
He gently lifted Fuyuki’s chin but the young man averted his eyes; Yoshiasu spotted the purplish mark on his neck and quickly recognized the suction mark. Pain and anger flooded his veins as he recognized the eternal source of his companion’s ordeal. He squeezed him and kissed his soft black hair.
-I see- he whispered. Now please calm down and tell me what happened.
Fuyuki buried his face in his palms; Yoshiasu stood up for a moment, went to the kitchen and brought back two glasses of juice from the refrigerator. He handed a glass to Fuyuki and run his fingers through the young man’s hair, ruffling it lovingly. Fuyuki sighed and lifted his face. The violet of his eyes was darkened by sorrow.
-Do you remember when we sat for a coffee on that terrace on M-street?- he asked in a soft voice.
The man was sitting for almost an hour on the terrace on M-street, watching the constant flow of young people walking up and down on that sunny day. Boys and girls, young couples with small children, students, high school graders, young employees…all of them were walking in a colorful, youthful movement, like the waves of a sea of youth and joy. The terrace was almost all the time fully occupied but only for short amounts of time. Young people were coming, sitting, drinking, chatting and then they moved away with their habitual restlessness.
The man enjoyed the sighting; he was sipping slowly from his cup of coffee, watching each face with undiminished interest. He spotted in the oncoming crowd a young couple. They were both tall and slender and were walking hand in hand. The taller one was a young, athletic Japanese man with handsome features and a pleasant smile. The girl on his side was slightly smaller but gracious. Her rebellious black hair was cut short above the neck. Her smile was shy but her eyes held happy and playful sparks. As they came closer, the man realized that he was mistaken: the girl was in fact …a young man of a deceiving and unexpected beauty. Though from a distance he looked like a girl, now as he was sitting at the table it became obvious that he was a male. Besides his delicate and sensual features, he had the most amazing eyes: almond shaped deep lavender-blue and shaded by thick, black eyelashes. His slender, expressive hands spoke about artistic inclination. He was wearing a silver band-ring on his left hand, the same as his companion. They were obviously an item; they looked comfortable and happy together.
They ordered two coffees, a house specialty and they were engaged in light discussion. From a nearby table a young girl approached them, excused herself for intruding and asked for an autograph from the beautiful young man. They invited her to sit at their table while the young artist drew something with an easy hand. He asked her something and the girl pointed out to her other three girlfriends waiting at her table. The artist agreed with a pleasant smile, asked for each girl’s name and the four sketches were ready in a moment. All this time, his companion watched the scene with a proud and loving smile.
The young man handed back the notebook to the girl and she fled back to her group where they all burst into excited giggling. The man watched the whole scene; he just couldn’t take his eyes off that beautiful youth. Almost like sensing the gaze, the artist turned his head and looked in the man’s direction but the other was hidden behind a newspaper and only their eyes met for a moment. The man saw a shadow clouding the amethyst eyes before the young man turned back to his companion and finished his coffee. As they finished, they both rose, paid for the consumption, leaving a generous tip and left.
The man’s eyes followed them closely; the young artist was walking keeping slightly closer to his mate. The man asked the waiter about the couple; he thus learned that the beautiful youth was a much appreciated artist who recently opened an exhibition of his works and that he was married to the handsome Japanese. They were both Canadians and they were traveling across the old continent, each of them with its own business. The man made a mental note; there was a good chance to meet his new obsession at the exhibition hall and have a closer look.
Fuyuki had been slightly disturbed by the piercing look coming from those light-brown eyes, like those of a bird of prey but later he dismissed the feeling. He was exhilarated spending his free time with Yoshiasu. This was a very pleasant Sunday and he didn’t want to let anything to ruin it. He also knew that people used to stare to them; after all they were an outstanding couple. Trying to avert the massive attention brought upon him, Fuyuki did his best to turn down his natural beauty but was no use. The light coming from inside made the outside even more beautiful. And Yoshiasu loved him deeply; he took pride in his handsome and talented companion.
The man at the table has set his mind; he wanted to lay a hand on that wonderful youth. The fact that he was already taken only made the conquest more exciting. The man was wealthy and powerful; a refusal was out of question for him. Having this young man just for himself even for a day was just a whim; he wasn’t used to give up on his own desires. But he knew that he needed to be careful and patient since the young man looked very happy with his chosen one. It was a real challenge to break that up and fulfill his desire.
The exhibition hall was full almost from the early hours. Five young artists were having a collective exhibition and people were constantly flowing in many of them interested in buying from the promising talents. Five young people, all between 25 and 30, two girls and three young men were the stars of the exhibition.
The man has watched them arriving one by one; the one he was looking for usually brought in the two girls in his small city car. They were getting along well; the girls were usually teasing him for his good looks but he took it lightly and laughed it off. This went on every day; in the evening the boyfriends came to take the girls home and the young artist drove home alone. Due to his work his companion was waiting for him at home. The man’s secretary provided him with a precious piece of information: the companion was about to leave the town for at least four or five days on business.
When the day came, the man decided to take action. In that afternoon he visited the exhibition hall. It was crowded as usual; he strolled around and watched carefully. He had to admit the real talent of those five young people but he was mostly caught up by the delicate beauty and the deep emotion hidden in the works of his target. It was like everything he touched remained somehow connected to his inner self and radiated some kind of fragile magic. Watching the young artist from behind the crowd, the man sensed that magic flowing around the youth. It was everywhere: in the way he turned his head, in the pleasant smile, the movement of the hands, in the ease of his talking but mainly in the transparency of those amethyst eyes…
The owner of the exhibition hall spotted the man and recognized him; he came to greet him and offered to introduce the young artists to the one he knew was a real arts collector. He caught the gaze of the man fixed on the Butterfly Artist and smiled:
-I see…well, you could say that he’s a work of art himself. Yet he is not vain at all and that’s quite unusual among artists.
He led the man and introduced the young artists one by one. The man saw a flicker in the lavender eyes; the young man recognized him. The man shook hands with each of them but the soft, slender hands easily slipped out from his grip. The young man wasn’t an easy catch.
The man talked with each of them extensively; he left his target for the final moment. He slowly approached him when he was finally alone in a corner. But even before he opened his mouth, the young man turned to him:
-So, you are stalking on me- he said, sadness seeping in his voice.
-You recognized me-said the man.
-Yes. I recognized your eyes and the way you were looking at me. I know that kind of look and that you are following me for days.
-How do you know that?-asked the man incredulously.
-I have sensed your presence. What do you want from me?
-As you may see-said the man closing on him-I’m interested in you. I can’t take you off my mind.
The young man turned away; as he moved, the man sensed a faint fragrance of wild flowers coming from him. He took a deep breath; surprisingly it wasn’t a perfume, it was the strange, intoxicating scent of the body. The man took another step towards him.
-I have invited the others for a drink. I’d like you to come.
-You’re cunning-said the young man looking straight in his eyes. I’ll come but you have to know that I am not interested.
The man kept silent for a moment then he said:
-I could help your career; I have enough money to buy out all of you…
The young artist shook his head and laughed softly.
-I’m not interested either. I ‘m not doing this for the money. Almost all I earn from the sales goes to a foundation for abused children to help them rebuild their lives. My needs are low and I’m not keen on reaching “high-life”.
-I see that you’re not vain-said the man. That makes you only more desirable. With your talent and your beauty you should be spoiled; yet you hide behind your companion and refuse my offer.
Are you aware how many people would do anything to get my support? All I ask is one night spent with me, nothing more…
Fuyuki turned to him; his eyes were darkened and his cheeks were flushed by the inner turmoil.
-For you this is just a whim. The more I reject you, the more you want me. But I…I am not an object; whatever your offer is, I won’t give you what you want. At least not on my own will.
-I’ll take it like that…for now-said the man. I’ll wait for you all after closing.
-Whatever….murmured the young man and left him.
The man excused himself from the owner of the gallery and left hurriedly. He already had a plan and he needed every minute to work it out to the last detail. He called for his car and left the premises.
The young artist went to the bathroom and washed his face with cold water. He stared for a moment in the mirror at his concerned face; he felt lost and lonely. His companion was far away and he didn’t want to disturb him. So he took a deep breath and returned to the exhibition; there were still two hours left until closing and he was needed there.
At half past eight the owner and his five young stars were in front of the building; the huge black limousine stopped in front of the building and the man invited them inside. He took them to a very pleasant but very expensive club; the music was good and the drinks were exquisite. Many well-known personalities were sitting at the tables and all of them seemed to look up to the man. He introduced them his new young protégés; he made a mental note at each turning head after they made acquaintance to the Butterfly Artist. Though he acted more restrained than usual and more serious than his actual self, his beauty remained untouched. The aura of gentle magic that surrounded him left a strong impression upon everybody. His friends playfully teased him but he shook his head and dismissed all the talks about that topic.
The young man knew he was trapped and his mind was feverishly working out a way out of the current situation. He complied with his friends’ request, he took the girls and danced with them but he stick to his non-alcoholic juice, saying that he had a mild headache. Food was served but he took only a bit; he wasn’t in a mood to eat. He couldn’t avoid having a glass of champagne offered by their host; the man wanted to toast for their artistic development. After this all of them decided to come by cab to the gallery the next day.
The man offered to drive each of them home and they were thrilled by his generosity. Only the Butterfly artist remained gloomy; he desperately needed to go home by himself but he didn’t want to seem rude or to spoil his friends’ pleasure. It was well passed midnight when he decided to call a cab and go home; a strange dizziness took him over and he couldn’t take it anymore. The girls were worried and his friends decided to end the party and leave. The man called the limo, embarked them all and ordered the driver to take them home. They stopped at the young Butterfly’s home and left him safe and sound in front of his house. They wave him goodbye and left. The young man leaned against the wall for a moment; the world was spinning and then everything went black.
Before he even touched the ground a dark silhouette stepped out from the shadow and stopped his fall. A car silently stopped and the dark man placed the young inside, on the rear seat. He then stepped at the front seat and they left in a hurry.
The man took his prize in his arms, buried his face into the rebellious black hair and inhaled deeply. The fresh fragrance invaded his senses and he swallowed hard, hit by the sudden burst of desire. The inconspicuous white powder mixed into the glass of champagne has rendered the young man helpless; he was immersed in a deep sleep. He was totally unaware of the car’s destination.
As they reached the house the man took the sleeping young artist man and carried him up in the bedroom. He laid him on the bed and carefully undressed him. He stared in amazement at the naked youth; he was the embodiment of perfection. In his sleep he looked like the living image of Endymion, the beautiful young man loved by the Goddess of the Moon, Selene. He covered him with a light sheet and made himself comfortable.
The man poured a drink and sat on the bad. He watched the peaceful expression of that lovely face, the light shade of pink in the cheeks, the slightly parted, delicate lips and the pearly-white row of teeth, the long eyelashes underlining those mesmerizing eyes, the silky black strands falling over the clear forehead, the soft glow of the smooth skin…He touched him and felt the warmth of the young body. The Butterfly Artist looked like a living statue. The man realized how much he needed him to be awake. It was that passionate, vulnerable personality that gave that perfect body the touch of magic that surrounded it. The man took out a seringe from a small box and injected some antidote on the youth left upper arm; he then stood there waiting for a reaction.
In about ten minutes the youth stirred. The man bent over him and kissed the soft neck right under the earlobe. Brusquely, the young man woke up and tried to push him away but the man gripped his wrists and pushed him on his back, holding him tightly. The victim moaned and his eyes filled with despair.
- I knew- he said and his voice cracked. Let me go…please- he whispered. Don’t hurt me…
- Don’t fight and I won’t hurt you-said the man calmly. The game is on me now. As you have said, the more you resist me, the more I want you.
The young man turned his head away. He shuddered under the stranger’s touch; all the bad memories locked up in the depth of his conscience were now pushing to break the locks. He stiffened as he felt the man moving relentlessly.
-Don’t…please-he pleaded though he knew it was hopeless.
-I can’t stop it-said the man rolling on top of him. Such beauty and perfection as yours should never walk on Earth among such sinful creatures like me. You are so unreachable and desirable that we can’t stop to try to tear you down. This is a curse both for you and us. I can’t stop; I have to have it my way.
As he pushed himself deep inside, the young man cried out in pain and anguish. His cries broke down to sobs until all ended. He laid there on the bed, eyes closed and eyelashes heavy with tears, and for the first time the man saw the broken butterfly. He suddenly realized that he has just broken something precious, something unique and irreplaceable. Luckily the young man fell asleep from physical and emotional exhaustion.
The man gently dressed him up and called for his car. He took the youth home, undressed him and tucked him into his bed. He ordered the driver to bring the young man’s car in the parking lot. He took a final look on that hauntingly beautiful face, then left the apartment and locked the door behind him. Game over.
-I still can’t clearly remember all that happened but I can put two and two together: the way I feel, the gift, the photo and the note…I’ve had enough of this!
Fuyuki’s face contorted in pain; Yoshiasu slowly calmed him down. His mind was searching for a solution; he made a long distance call…home. He called detective Harrows and they agreed to talk more on the computer.
-How’s Fuyuki now?- asked the detective.
-Upset and disturbed- came the answer.
-Can I talk to him?
-I think so. Fuyuki, detective Harrows wants to talk to you…Yoshiasu turned to his companion.
The young man sat in front of the computer and greeted the detective. He looked tired and subdued.
-Good evening, Fuyuki. I’m sorry that we speak only on such occasions.
Fuyuki’s face lit up a little; he gave a small sigh but the corners of his mouth curved up a little.
-I’ve listened to the recount made by Yoshiasu; I must tell you that this might be harder to prove than your previous one. This guy ( if he’s the one I suspect to be) is difficult to catch. He’s not a bragging fool. Do you understand me?
-I’ll talk to one of my good friends from there; he’s a retired policeman but he likes to keep his mind working. I’ll let you know; until then, be strong, my young friend.
Fuyuki smiled briefly.
-Thank you, detective. Sorry for being such a nuisance-he said softly.
Fuyuki left Yoshiasu to end up the call while he went to the kitchen to fix something to eat for both of them. He’s got so caught in that he realized only later that Yoshiasu was standing in the kitchen door, watching him with an amused but loving smile on his face. Fuyuki reddened.
-I sincerely hope this will be edible- he said. Anyway there’s nothing else in the fridge, but we still can order Chinese food if you want…
-I’m willing to try your cooking-chuckled Yoshiasu.
Fuyuki smiled; they both set the table. Fuyuki leaned against his companion.
-I feel safe when you’re around-he sighed. I’m sorry; I’m quite a handful….
Yoshiasu kissed him.
-You’re my most precious one. We’ll work this out together; just keep it in mind that I love you.
The next day Yoshiasu called the gallery and excused Fuyuki for at least two or three days. He knew his love was not ready to face that place so soon; they’ve been through this before. Healing needed time. Detective Harrow’s friend visited them; he was a kind gentleman and promised to look into this delicate matter.
During this time things were on the move in the outside world to. The man woke up next day with mixed feelings; something was bothering him from inside but he wasn’t ready to admit the feeling. He sent the gift to Fuyuki in an attempt to kill the regret that was seeping inside him; he wanted to prove himself that he didn’t care and that the young man remained only a whim for him.
Yet the same day he drove his car to the gallery, waiting to catch a glimpse of the young artist but he didn’t show up. Neither was he coming the next two days. He wasn’t coming out of the house either; the handsome Japanese was at home but his fragile companion was nowhere to be seen.
The man became restless; there was a void of emptiness building up inside of him, despite his best efforts to ignore it. He drove home and the next day the five artists received a generous offer of scholarship for each of them. Fuyuki turned down the offer but he was happy for his friends. In less than an hour he received a call from the Foundation for abused Children; they’ve received a very generous funding from an anonymous donor, donation made in Fuyuki’s name.
Fuyuki smiled; the pain caused by what happened to him was slowly diminishing. The works of art sold well at the exhibition thanks to all those people they’ve met at the club. The money helped the four young artists to fulfill their dreams and opened new opportunities. Fuyuki knew well who was behind this sudden success but he wasn’t upset. He sensed that something has changed inside that man; he wanted to redeem himself. Fuyuki didn’t hate him; he was simply unable to hate. He could be hurt, deeply pained even crushed by the inflicted pain but he was oblivious to hatred.
That night, watching him laid down like a torn butterfly, still beautiful in his sufferance, the man discovered for the first time his own feelings. He faced regrets, remorse and above all, he realized that in fact, for the first time in his life he was in love. He’s had a lust for that perfect body but he was he was in love with that gentle, fragile, generous soul that gave the magic of that beauty. He knew that there was no chance for them to meet again; he didn’t want to torment Fuyuki.
One of Fuyuki’s works was put on sale at a charity and the man put up the highest bid ever. It was a painting depicting that elusive “Lost Butterfly” that symbolized hope but also the inner world of that beautiful artist.
The day after the successful auction Fuyuki showed up at the exhibition hall. He looked slightly changed; he looked a bit matured and his beauty deepened. He has lost some of his innocent touch but gained a certain serenity that just added to his magic. As he stepped out of the car, he turned towards the black car parked on the other side of the street. The man was outside, looking at him. Fuyuki looked back for a moment, smiled gently, then slowly turned and disappeared inside the building.
The man stepped into his car. The painting was packed up and placed beside him on the rear seat. The car slowly departed. The man was never seen in public again. Some said he was ill but only a close few knew that he had an unrequited love. From his “high castle” he kept an eye on Fuyuki but he never approached him anymore. He was happy just to watch from a safe distance the dance of that butterfly in the light.
-Amazing-said one of the light creatures. I never thought the Child would have such a powerful influence over other people.
-He’s not very happy about it. We have to watch him carefully; he might end up in trouble again…-said the other one.
-Luckily, his companion guides him well…
-Yes, but accidents might occur…-said the second creature with concern showing in his voice. We cannot afford to lose him…
-Don’t get annoyed…I’ll promise I’ll be careful about him. He’s our Child anyway.