The man at the door was medium high, fortyish and well dressed but inconspicuous. He took off his sunglasses before he addressed to Fuyuki. He had piercing blue eyes watching intently under the strong eyebrows.
-Mr. Tanaka? May I talk to you?-he asked handing him a personal card.
The name was unknown but Fuyuki remembered the firm. It was of that man from his past. He let the man in and offered him an easy chair.
-What can I do for you?-asked Fuyuki looking at the mysterious visitor.
The secretary (he was the secretary of …the man) watched him intently.
-My master died recently.
-I’m sorry to hear that.
-Thank you. His death relieves me from certain obligations about keeping certain things secret. He never ceased to feel guilt for the way he treated you…
-That was…buried and long forgotten-said Fuyuki following the man’s account with attention.
The latter returned the attention and stared at him with undisclosed curiosity.
-It’s for the first time that I can see you from close. I have to admit that you really are attractive…I followed you while he lived because he wanted to know about your whereabouts. Now that he died I followed you for my own reasons.
Fuyuki’s eyes flickered.
-And what would be your reason?-he asked quietly.
I wanted to find a crack on your perfect image-said the guy with scorn in his voice. And I found it some time ago but I never had the heart to show it to my Master. But he’s gone and all I have is my need for revenge over you!
Fuyuki blinked, taken aback by the hatred flowing from the man; he tried to ease the tension.
-I’m sorry if I hurt your master but I never did anything on purpose. I had the feeling that he finally understood and that he came to term with all…
-He did. But it was an entire chain of unhappiness generated by your pretty face and your damned perfection. He loved you, you didn’t love him, I loved him but he had no eyes for me…
-So-said Fuyuki slightly puzzled-what do you want from me?
The man took out an envelope and handed it to him. It looked that there were some photos inside. Fuyuki took them out and watched them one by one. He turned pale and he felt sick. He raised his eyes and looked into those blue ones fixing him:
-What do you want?
-Do you agree that I caught you red handed?-he asked with malice.
-Yes and no-said Fuyuki in a restrained voice. I can’t remember anything from this even if I can identify the persons.
The man looked at him incredulously but Fuyuki seemed genuinely shocked by the photos.
-I know that you’re not a liar-agreed the man. But these shots are for real, I assure you. Well, if you don’t have any recollection of the events, you have to unravel this moment of your past and live with it. Consider it a…gift from your sworn enemy.
The man got to his feet and left the room. He silently closed the door behind him, leaving a very distraught young man behind. As the door clicked shut, Fuyuki broke out in despair. He grabbed his head with both hands, closed his eyes and franticaly searched through his memories. But his mind was silent, the doors of memory sealed and he was left only with a void filled with pain and despair. He bit his lips until they bled and curled up in bed shaking violently, moaning and crying helplessly. It took him a good deal to calm down and put himself together.
He started the computer and called Little John on cell phone. While the phone was ringing, he scanned the photos and sent them to his friend. He barely finished the sending that a deep, pleasant voice answered his call.
-Fuyuki? Is that you, my friend?
Fuyuki swallowed hard to calm down but even so, his voice came out coarse and insecure:
-Yes…Little John, open your mail. I’ve sent you something and I need you to watch it now!
Little john sensed the emergency of the call so he proceeded as instructed. He opened the attachment and…almost fell off his chair. The images were unmistakable; his deepest secret, the wild night spent with Fuyuki on the night of his bachelor party was poignantly depicted by those pictures. They had been captured with a powerful camera so the faces were clearly visible. Their passionate kissing under the starlit sky, Fuyuki lost in his arms as he carried him to the small rear room, the moment they entered and the moment he carried him out in the morning and took him home to Old John…
Little John was speechless; he could hardly utter a sound.
-Fuyuki…he whispered. Who gave you these pictures?
-A friendly…. enemy of mine. He wanted to take revenge upon me and he came to confront me with these photos…Little John, tell me why can’t I remember this?!
Little John was unable to answer; his mind was searching for a reasonable excuse but he couldn’t find one. He could clearly sense Fuyuki’s torment and he was afraid of what he might do in such a state of mind.
-Fuyuki-he pleaded in a worried voice. I’ll come and we’ll talk this over! Please, don’t do anything stupid! I’ll leave tonight and tomorrow morning I’ll be at your place. Please, Fuyuki! It’s my entire fault…
Fuyuki sighed and kept silent for a few moments. When he finally spoke, his voice was broken:
-I’ll wait for you but you have to restore my memory no matter how painful that would be. I can’t take anymore lies about my life…Please, ask Soraya to forgive me for taking you away right now; but I need help. Good day, Little John. Take care!
-You to, my friend. Wait for me-said Little John and hung up. He deleted the photos and hurried to pack up for and early plane.
Soraya was worried about Fuyuki; she urged her husband to leave at once. Little John felt like a cheater that moment; his stupid and selfish actions from his past were getting back on all those he loved and cherished.
Fuyuki disposed of the photos but kept them on the computer. He did his best in behaving normally. He told Yoshiasu that Little John was coming to visit them the next day; Yoshiasu had a small, nagging feeling that Fuyuki was troubled by something but he was too tired to dig deeply. All he could do is to hold him closely and reassuringly.
Little John arrived early and found Fuyuki waiting for him. They embraced and he watched his friend closer; clouded by inner turmoil, Fuyuki’s eyes were almost black. He looked tired and subdued. He moved around like a sleepwalker, unable to find his balance. He had already made some coffee so he handed a mug to Little John; they sat in the living, around the small table, silently, unable to start to speak about what was bothering both of them.
Fuyuki stood up, slowly pacing up and down, fingers clutched to his mug; Little John watched him for a while then he set his mug on the table.
-Fuyuki…Fuyuki, my friend…Forgive me; it’s entirely my fault!
At the sound of his voice the young artist shuddered and almost dropped his mug.
-Why? Why can’t I remember?! What have I done?!-his voice trailed. He buried his face into his palms, shaking his head…
Little John wished he could comfort him but he was afraid to touch him; he came close, talking in a warm, soft voice.
-Fuyuki, you were made to forget in order to protect you from the burden of this memory.
When I came to Old John to invite you to the bachelor party, you were reluctant. Old John took me aside and warned me: “Be careful; he is your friend and he loves you. Take care of him; he’s more vulnerable than he looks. Don’t take advantage on him!”
I easily dismissed his concerns; I was overconfident. Then you came and I fell apart. Old John gave you some sleeping potion and used a spell to block your memories. He wanted to protect you…from me. You wanted to help me get over my obsession for you and follow the proper path for me. You generously gave up all and selfishly I took all! My madness was finally cured but you were deeply scarred. That’s why Old John decided to lock up those memories.
Fuyuki my friend, I would do anything to bring back your peace of mind! I am ashamed and I admit that I badly screwed up all!
Fuyuki listened quietly Little John’s confession; his suppressed memories slowly seeped back in his consciousness.
-Oh, gods!-he whispered. What have I done?
He staggered…he then grabbed his coat and his keys and stopped for a moment, looking into Little John’s puzzled face. He sighed…then he shook his head.
-I’m sorry…I have to go out…I need some air…Yoshiasu-his voice broke-he’ll be here; wait for him, please! Tell him that…that…I love him!
Before Little John could even protest, Fuyuki fled without telling where he was going. Fearing the worst, Little John sent a message to Yoshiasu; there was no way back.
“Yoshiasu, we have a problem; Fuyuki left but I don’t know where he went. Come home quickly; you’ll find me here!”