The Lost Butterfly-a story of aliens, love and humans (1h)

Chapter 1h.

 

On the other side, Fuyuki was growing more and more concerned about the publicity around him. His talent paid well and people grew increasingly curious about the identity of the emerging artist. The fact that he was rejecting the interviews and kept secret any personal data just added to their curiosity. It was a constant game of hide-and-seek with the press; Fuyuki couldn’t come out because of his fear that his past might catch up with him and shatter his fragile happiness. He kept his anxiety and bad feelings hidden from Yoshiasu; his lover was working hard and they both cherished the moments spent together. As Angela was spending her own moments of happiness, Fuyuki turned to the only person he trusted beside his friends: detective John Harrows. He visited the detective at the police station once or twice, confessing him his fears and desperately trying to remember something useful from his past.

Things turned  bad after a few persistent journalists/paparazzi followed him and took some snapshots. The photos were published by a nationwide journal and “The Butterfly Artist” got all the publicity he didn’t need. Yoshiasu was angry; Fuyuki was still very vulnerable. They both agreed  on asking for the detective’s assistance to keep a discreet eye on their home. By the end of May, Fuyuki called the detective and complained about being stalked. For almost a week, somebody was following him; he couldn’t spot him but the feeling was strong and the young man was desperate.

The detective took him seriously but he couldn’t attend Fuyuki right at that moment,  so they agreed that he would pay a visit at home  next morning.  Arriving at the building, the detective had a bad feeling; he took the stairs two by two and found the apartment door cracked. With  the gun in one hand he stepped in cautiously; the house was empty and Fuyuki was nowhere to be seen. But the bedroom was ravaged and there were blood stains and some body fluid scattered over the bed cover. The detective called for the crime lab and then put out a phone call to Yoshiasu.

-Mr. Tanaka –he said in a restrained voice. You have to come home; I’m afraid  Fuyuki has been abducted.

***

The man at the door was Fuyuki’s worst nightmare: Father. Jack Roger was a well built, powerful man in his early sixties. A former soldier in his youth, also an amateur boxer, he was a bully. He’s been an abusive tyrant all his life and a constant tormentor for the mild and sensitive Fuyuki.

The young man’s heart sank as found himself face-to face with Father; all the horror built up and locked away in the depths of his memory washed over him and he wasn’t able to make any move. Jack Roger pushed him back to the house and slammed the door behind. He threw a short glance around then he turned his attention to Fuyuki.

-So-he said venom filling his voice. You thought you’ve escaped from me. How unwise…I saw your pretty face in the newspaper! I came as soon as possible to collect what’s mine…

Fuyuki collapsed on the bed, tears filling his eyes.

-What do you want from me?-he asked in a broken voice.

-Dress up and get back to work. You still have unpaid debts. Have you forgotten that you belong to me?

Roger pushed Fuyuki on his back and stripped away his clothes. The young man fought back but Roger slapped him hard.

-You won’t disobey me!-he hissed and forced himself upon Fuyuki.

The pain tore him from inside like a knife and Fuyuki cried out in agony. As the response was even more brutal, Fuyuki passed out.

Hours later he woke up hurt and dizzy in a dark room; he was tied to the bed. After moments of confusion memories came back forcefully; his whole body ached and his lower lip was split. The air around was stale and smelled like a cellar. He quickly guessed that the room was somewhere underground. He couldn’t do anything; at least for the moment he was helpless.

Father came and untied him, leaving him a few moments to stretch his limbs. He then grabbed him by the elbow and dragged the reluctant young man along a dimly lit corridor. They climbed a row of stairs and got…into the old house. Again and again memories came back and Fuyuki shuddered. Father pushed him in the shower, handing a set of clean clothes. Fuyuki undressed and started the water; he stood under the brisk flow and closed his eyes. Panic erupted from his inner self and he burst into tears, sobbing helplessly. Shaking wildly, he could hardly wash himself. It took him almost half an hour to calm down and get dressed. Leaving the shower he found some food set on a table but he was unable to swallow even a morsel. He hid his face in his hands, trying to scrape up some hope to survive to the oncoming ordeal.

What was about to come was  even harder to bear than before. For twenty years he  had just scarce hopes that he might be an individual and not just an object used at will for others pleasure. But now…now he was loved and he was in love. He became a PERSON, only to find himself stranded in a nightmare.

As Father walked in, Fuyuki shut his mind; he stood up and followed him at the end of the corridor. He entered, shut the door and sat on the bed. The smell around him made his body cringe. Beyond the scent of the burning incense, he could detect the well-known acrid smell of sweat and sex. He took a deep breath to calm down while the door cracked and a stranger entered the room.

Fuyuki complied with his demands avoiding to look into his face. He  shut off his spirit as the stranger took over his body.  He’d  lost the battle between his body and mind over and over again, day after day, night after night until his shattered spirit became just a shimmering light in the night of misery.

Locked up in the underground room, he cried for hours until his stomach revolted. Father forced him to eat and ended up tying him down to the bed to prevent him from killing himself.

On another location a young man was pacing up and down in his hollowed location. Space suddenly dilated around him and from one end to the other of the house there was only a void of dead silence and loneliness. For the first time of his adult life Yoshiasu was completely shattered by the sense of loss. The flat that was once his home was crushing him down with its emptiness.  He roamed around the house over and over again, touching every item that belonged to Fuyuki. He took out the drawing of “The Lost Butterfly” and watched it intently like he was trying to get in touch with his lost love.

He could barely eat but forced himself to do it in order to preserve his strength and the sharpness of his mind. He wasn’t going to give up on Fuyuki but the pain of losing him, the faceless fear of not knowing his whereabouts were cutting deep.

At night he fell into bed completely exhausted but moved on Fuyuki’s spot. He forcefully shut his eyes recalling the soothing warmth of the slender body cuddled in his arms. And he cried, broken and helpless with no one around to soothe him except maybe the faint scent of wildflowers left by his lost butterfly.

The Lost Butterfly-revised. Ch. 1e

Chapter 1e.

Angela soon became a regular to their house. Yoshiasu had to return to work so he asked his long-time friend to look after Fuyuki. She happily complied; she liked the young artist so she took him under her wings.

She took him out shopping and helped him to buy his own clothes. Yoshiasu was earning well so money was not a problem. Angela also bought colors and all the material he needed for his art and encouraged him to draw and paint. Not surprisingly, Fuyuki’s artworks sold well; though the first buyers were mostly from their close circle of friends, soon the outsiders got to know about his art  and liked it too.

It was Angela who introduced the young artist to the world of computers and Internet and she was pleasantly surprised by the quick progresses made by her apprentice. Getting in closer touch with the real world, helped Fuyuki to build up some confidence and a protective wall. He was still very vulnerable on the inside but this was known only by Yoshiasu and Angela. But being so much around them, made Angela aware that tension was building up under the surface in the life of the two young men.

As Fuyuki seemed to become more independent, Yoshiasu was  becaming more and more distant and busy. He even refused to go out with the two of them, pretending that he had urgent work to do. This particular change in his behavior hurt and puzzled Fuyuki. Though he did his best not to show, a veil of sadness started to dim the light in his eyes. One day, he finally burst out:

-Angela! Please talk to Yoshiasu! He is constantly avoiding me. I must have done something wrong that he doesn’t want me around…

-You did nothing wrong-she said, trying to comfort him. He is just tired and jumpy because of his work.

Fuyuki shuddered.

-I hope you’re right- he said in a small voice. Because I have no reason to live if he doesn’t want me anymore…

-Fuyuki!-protested Angela but the young man has already shut the bedroom door behind him.

Despite her best efforts to get Yoshiasu to talk to her, things were just not adding up. There were days when Yoshiasu was becoming almost monosyllabic, while Fuyuki was trying to put up a brave face. This went on until one day, when Angela showed up right in the middle of the storm. Looking at them, it became obvious for her that the two men had recently fought over something.

Yoshiasu quickly disappeared in the kitchen. “I’m making a coffee”-he said, while Fuyuki’s eyes were red and his voice broke as he spoke to her.

-He’s angry; help him, please. I’ll be fine…-he said though  obviously he wasn’t.

Angela patted him on the shoulder and went to the kitchen where Yoshiasu was fumbling with the coffee pot.

-Why is Fuyuki crying? What have you done to him?-asked Angela.

-Nothing-mumbled the other.

-Yoshiasu, what are you doing?-Angela was getting angry. Why are you pushing him away? It’s so obvious that you’re in love with Fuyuki.

Yoshiasu slammed the pot.

-This is exactly why I don’t want to tie him down to me. I can see that he is getting better and for the first time in his life, he can make a choice for himself. I don’t want him to stay with me simply because I was the one that nurtured him back to life. It wouldn’t be fair to him.

Angela shook her head in disbelief; she then grabbed Yoshiasu by the shoulders, shaking him vigorously.

-My friend, you are a fool! You are an even bigger fool that I’ve expected. I can understand your moral concerns but it didn’t cross your mind that maybe Fuyuki has already made his choice and that is you?!

-How would I know?!-shouted Yoshiasu.

Angela slammed her palm to the table.

-What do you expect from him, a solemn declaration, written down or what? For God’s sake, you don’t even realize how lucky you are! Here is this sophisticated, beautiful young man who sees no one but you and you’re uncertain…About what are you uncertain? Let me tell you something as a good friend: I can vouch for Fuyuki’s feelings. He loves YOU, that’s for sure! But seeing how you treat him I come to doubt YOUR feelings towards him: is this really LOVE as you pretend or just infatuation? Make up your mind, man, before it’s too late! After all he has been through, Fuyuki doesn’t deserve this!

There was a moment of deep silence. Angela poured the coffee in three mugs while Yoshiasu stood there, bent over the kitchen table and head in his palms. There was a soft rustle at the door. As they both turned, they saw a pale and shaken Fuyuki leaning against the door frame.

-Yoshiasu, I cannot tell you if this is love-he said in a soft voice. I have never known love before. All I know is that I don’t want to go on without you. Don’t let me go! Please…

Yoshiasu pushed everything aside and quickly closed the distance between them. He cupped the young man’s face with both hands and looked deep into those beautiful lilac eyes.

-Forgive me-he said in a coarse voice. I love you so much…I’ll never let you go. Never!

As Fuyuki folded in his arms, he buried his face in his hair.

-Hmph…That’s better-coughed amusedly Angela. Now let’s have that coffee and talk about the plans for the winter holidays.

The evening turned up fine and they all agreed in spending Christmas together with their friends at an inn in the nearby mountains.

The Lost Butterfly-revised (1d)

Chapter 1d.

He had barely finished the notes and was looking at the two drawings, when Fuyuki stirred under the blanket and opened his eyes.

-You’re here-he whispered and sighed.

-I am- said Yoshiasu firmly. Wake up and let’s go out. We still have half of Sunday left.

Fuyuki complied and dressed up. For the moment he was wearing some of Yoshiasu’s clothes but they were planning to go out shopping.  A chilling wind was blowing outside so both of them were wearing anoraks, jeans and boots. Fuyuki’s shoulder long hair was tied in a lose pony-tail, a few strands floating freely around his face. Despite his attire, he looked deceptively feminine. His beauty was misleading almost everyone. As they were descending a long row of stairs, walking hand in hand, they heard a group of youngsters whistling after Fuyuki. They both burst into laughter.

On a spur of a moment Yoshiasu turned towards Fuyuki and kissed him. Surprised, Fuyuki blinked and returned the kiss.

-I’m …sorry-mumbled Yoshiasu, slightly enbarassed.

-Why?

-I don’t want to put any pressure on you…

-You’re not-said Fuyuki. I like when YOU kiss me- he added smiling shyly.

Yoshiasu sighed and held him closer. They strolled among the bony, black shapes of the trees, under the heavily clouded sky. Autumn fell on their steps, rolling golden leaves and raindrops up and down the lane. Younger and older couples were walking slowly on the alleys, enjoying the final hours of the week-end. The evening enveloped the city peacefully.

The two young men turned home refreshed and happy. After the autumn chill, the warmth of the flat was welcome. They both undressed from the heavy outfits and made themselves comfortable. As usual, Yoshiasu cooked the dinner while Fuyuki set the table. They ate all to the last crumb and after washing the dishes they moved to the bedroom and turned on the TV.

Fuyuki leaned against his friend, with head resting on his shoulder. He loved to listen to his velvety baritone, recounting school years with fun. He snuggled in his arms while Yoshiasu was fighting his inner feelings.

Spending most of his time with Fuyuki,  Yoshiasu declined most of his friends’ invitations out. Fuyuki was still very shy and recovering, so he didn’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on him. Intrigued by his long absence and the wild gossips about her good friend, Angela Bennett decided to pay him a visit. She came unannounced and on a late afternoon Yoshiasu found himself face to face with her at the door.

-I’ve been told that you became a hermit so I came to check on this wild story myself. I hope I’m not intruding?-she asked with a playful smile.

Yoshiasu chuckled; he was happy to see her. Angela was a long time friend and they shared a lot, beginning with the level-headedness and the considerate manner towards the others. He let her in, took off her coat and invited her in the living.

-I’m going to fix a drink; make you comfortable. What gossips have you heard about me?

Angela looked around with interest. She was well accustomed to this place and she knew her old friend’s taste. She noticed some small changes but there was one particular thing that drew her attention. She saw a new painting on the wall: a colorful butterfly on an intricate background. It wasn’t a reproduction; the picture was genuine. She stood up and took a closer look. She was surprised to find something so poetic and delicate in the house of a computer analyst.

-You like it?-asked Yoshiasu and handed her a frosty glass.

-It’s beautiful! I must admit that I’ve never expected to find something like this hanging on your wall. Is this a recent purchase?

The young man smiled secretively.

-It’s a gift from the artist himself- he said. But let me introduce him to you. Wait a minute…

He left for the bedroom where Fuyuki was reading.

-I have a very good friend of mine visiting us. She would like to know you. Her name is Angela Bennett and you can trust her. Come, let me introduce you.

Fuyuki’s eyes rounded in surprise but took Yoshiasu’s hand and followed him. Hearing footsteps, Angela turned and remained speechless. Half step behind her friend there was a tall and slender young man, clinging almost desperately to Yoshiasu’s hand. The newcomer was a striking beauty, with a fragile look and very shy. His unusual amethyst colored eyes looked at her with the innocence of a child. Yoshiasu gently pushed him towards her.

-Angela, let me introduce you the artist you have asked about: he is my friend, Fuyuki.

-Pleased to meet you-said the young man.

They shook hands and Angela looked at him closely. Fuyuki blushed under her scrutinizing gaze and she found him lovely.

-You’re awfully talented; I like very much your painting. Yoshiasu is very lucky to receive such a beautiful gift from you-she said.

-I am the lucky one to have such a good friend-answered Fuyuki with a small smile.

-Well, since I am blessed with both of you let’s have a drink and let Angela to deliver us the latest gossips about our mutual friends. This way you can make their ”acquaintance” long before they know you.

Just like Yoshiasu, Angela had a healthy sense of humor so in less then half an hour they were all laughing and enjoying her company. Angela took an instant like on Fuyuki. She even warned her old friend while the young artist left the room:

-He is a rare gem, Yoshiasu. Take care of him.

-I know-said Yoshiasu-but thanks anyway. Tell the others that we still need some time to adjust but we’re fine.

The Lost Butterfly-revised (1c)

Chapter 1c.

At the end of the week Yoshiasu took Fuyuki home. He called a cab, took the papers allowing him to become Fuyuki’s legal guardian and they both left the hospital. As they stepped out under the high sky, Fuyuki stiffened and squeezed Yoshiasu’s hand.

-I’ve never seen so much sky above me since my childhood-he whispered. I’ve always dreamed about it but now, it feels so overwhelming…

Yoshiasu held him by the shoulders and squeezed him gently.

-I’m here, don’t worry. It won’t fall on our head while I’m here. Let’s get into the car and go home.

Fuyuki leaned against him confidently. They took the cab and left for home.

Fuyuki took an instant like on Yoshiasu’s flat. He wandered around the house, touched the walls, peered through the curtains and finally, exhausted fell on the bed.

-It’s so peaceful here-he sighed. I feel free…Are you sure you want me to be here with you?-he asked anxiously.

-I’m positive-came the amused answer from the kitchen. The only problem is that you have to get used with my cooking. I hope you’ll survive…

-If you’re around I don’t even need food-said Fuyuki in a muffled voice. He then curled up in bed and shortly after, he fell asleep.

Yoshiasu cooked some fresh meal for supper then came back to the room to look for Fuyuki. He saw him sleeping relaxed and peaceful just like a child. He took a blanket and covered his protégée. He gently caressed the soft cheeks and the rebellious black hair.

Fuyuki stirred and sighed. “Yoshiasu…”he mumbled in his sleep. Yoshiasu blushed and swallowed the lump in his throat. He stood up and returned to the kitchen.

Fuyuki slept for hours; he woke up relaxed and hungry. The home-cooked meal proved to be a real treat for him. He started to look livelier and there was even a shade of pink in his cheeks. A small glass of wine lifted the spirits and the two young men spent the evening laughing a lot.

Yoshiasu’s humor suited well Fuyuki as he was both bright and very perceptive. His beautiful violet eyes were sparkling while he fully enjoyed Yoshiasu’s story telling. They ended the night watching TV side by side on top of the bed and they both fell asleep during the late-night movie.

Yoshiasu woke up suddenly: Fuyuki was crying in his sleep. He was pleading with somebody and the pain in his voice was simply heartbreaking. He was writhing, trying to escape from an unseen enemy.

“Father, please! Don’t…don’t hurt me! I’ll do whatever you want! Please, don’t…Why?!”

Unable to bear his friend’s sufferance Yoshiasu shook him vigorously and shouted:

-Fuyuki! Fuyuki, wake up! It’s only a dream! Please, open your eyes Fuyuki!

The troubled young man shivered but finally woke up. It took him a few moments to realize where he was and with whom. He cuddled up in Yoshiasu’s arms looking for protection.

-Yoshiasu! Yoshiasu, don’t let him take me! Please!

Yoshiasu embraced him and wiped off his tears. He caressed Fuyuki back to sleep, holding him tight. After that they slept till morning without any more incidents. When he woke up, Yoshiasu saw Fuyuki sitting at the window, gaze lost in the ragged pattern of rain-clouds.

-Are you ok?-he asked.

-Uhm…I think so. Sorry for being such a nuisance.

-You’re not-protested Yoshiasu. Don’t you want to talk about? –he asked tentatively.

Fuyuki shook his head; his breath sped up and he braced himself. It was too early for that. He wasn’t ready to open up or to release the monsters populating his thoughts at night. Yoshiasu dropped the topic and decided to keep his friend’s mind busy with more pleasant things.

-I’m going to take a shower and fix something for breakfast until you shower to. We can then go out in the park if you’d like that. What do you say?

-It’s…fine. I’ll set the room in order. Don’t worry; I’m quite handy-said Fuyuki seeing Yoshiasu’s incredulous face.

They’ve finished the house chores quickly. After the shower Fuyuki looked much better. The large scratch from his cheek washed up entirely and physically he was getting better with each moment. The more he looked at him, the more attractive Yoshiasu found him. This was a troubling discovery for him but for the moment he decided to ignore this new feeling. He has never thought before that he could fall for another…man.

Well, Fuyuki wasn’t an ordinary man; he was a disturbing enigma, frightening yet desirable, almost untouchable yet heartbreakingly beautiful and fragile. The image of the torn butterfly kept overlapping  the mental image Yoshiasu was having about him.

-Yoshiasu? Anything wrong?-came a concerned question from the sudden silence of the room.

-No. I’ve just let my mind wander a little. Tell me, Fuyuki: don’t you have any happy memories at all? From your childhood maybe…

The young man leant back on the chair and closed his eyes for a moment.

-I’m not sure what do you mean by “happy memories” but I have a few things in my mind that they weren’t able to take away from me. Do you have a pencil and a piece of paper here?

Yoshiasu fumbled through his desk for a while and then he came back with a black ink-pencil and some paper that he handed to Fuyuki. He cleaned the table to make way for him. Fuyuki leaned over the paper and started to draw; his hand was moving quickly and with ease across the paper, while the intricate drawing was slowly emerging from it. A few moments later, he handed it to Yoshiasu and watched him silently.

The young analyst was amazed; the swarm of butterflies over a pattern of wild-flowers was beautiful and highly artistic. The butterflies looked so lively that for a moment he was afraid they might take off. Butterflies…Yoshiasu looked at Fuyuki like he was seeing him for the first time: a butterfly dreaming and drawing butterflies…

-We had a wild spot in our courtyard; it was overgrown with high grass and wild-flowers. I used to hide in the grass and wait for the butterflies to come. They were so many and so beautiful…

Later, when Father locked me up in the room, all I could remember were the butterflies. I kept on drawing them day by day, afraid that I might forget them and then lose all that was mine.

Fuyuki’s voice choked and his eyes filled with tears. He stood up, pacing up and down in the room, gaze lost in the past.

-The room had a very high ceiling and for me the small window was unreachable. All I could see was the changing of light or a small piece of the sky. Then, one day father forgot to shut the window and a butterfly came into the room.

It was a new one, something even more beautiful than what I had seen before. He came close to me and sat on my shoulder. He stayed there while I stood up to take a pencil and paper to draw him. He stayed with me for days. He always hid when Father was in but came out whenever I was alone. Then one day I couldn’t find him. All my hope was that he got out safely from the prison cell…

Fuyuki resumed his pacing and sat to the table. He took another paper and began tracing a new drawing. It took him a little more but the butterfly was really beautiful.

-This is the lost butterfly. I’ve never shown him to anybody before. I want you to have it-he added, his violet-blue eyes looking deeply into the dark-brown ones.

Yoshiasu was overwhelmed.

-Why?-he asked in a restraint voice, unable to add more.

-Because when I am with you I feel that I actually EXIST.

Fuyuki’s shoulders sagged.

-I have been INVISIBLE for twenty years…-he whispered and tears were running down his face. I kept waking up each morning wondering if I was REAL, a REAL PERSON. Except for the butterflies, all I could remember was the PAIN….

Yoshiasu jumped to his feet and hugged him while Fuyuki buried his face in his shoulder. He was shaking uncontrollably.

-Yoshiasu…don’t …let…me…fade- he managed to whisper before losing consciousness.

Yoshiasu lifted him and put him in bed, tugging the young man under a warm blanket. He decided to let him sleep off the burden of the long confession. He then poured himself a glass of wine and sat in bed next to Fuyuki. He picked the drawings and a notebook. Took a sip of wine, gently stroke the sleeping man’s hair and started to write down the things told by Fuyuki. Yoshiasu prepared the notes for detective Harrows.

The Lost Butterfly Chapter 5. Epilogue

The future has an odd sense of humor

LJ started the day with a minor headache; the previous day has been an overcrowded one with all kind of meetings and an endless pile of paperwork towering on his desk. Though he liked his work and the occurring responsibilities, he longed for more free time. As a bachelor he has allowed work to invade his personal time. Now it was hard to get it back.

But having a pool all for him in the basement of his house, he could enjoy his favorite sport: swimming. The place was comfortable, air conditioned and pleasantly lit. It was a quiet and undisturbed space that belonged only to him. So he started the day descending in this peaceful spot; he immersed in the cool liquid and swam up and down the length of the pool until the pressure in his skull subsided.

Now that hid mind has cleared, he came out and leaned on a couch trying to gather his thoughts for the challenges of the new day. Something was bothering him. At the age of 30 LJ was a handsome guy, clever and well placed, an eligible bachelor, courted by many ladies.

He was tall (1.9m), athletic with a pleasant, manly face, slightly exotic due to his native ancestors. The high cheekbones gave an interesting shape to the dark-brown eyes. He had a straight nose and nice, full lips. His skin was light-amber and his thick black hair was cropped short above his neck. By the whole he gave the impression of a powerful, big cat something like a mountain lion.

His co-workers liked him because he was reliable and dedicated. He had a well developed sense of humor but he wasn’t joking about his tasks. The one who seemed to give him headaches in the future was the new guy employed at the Art department.

It looked that he was quite blasé, totally unimpressed by those working beside him. He seemed to live in a world of his own; he was polite but out of reach except for a limited amount of sentences. They haven’t met yet face to face. All that LJ knew about him came from his colleagues working with him.

“ Artists…”mumbled LJ and stood up. It was time to go to work. He dressed up and eat something; he then took his car and left for work.

He left his car in the parking lot and quickly headed to the elevator, his mind wandering. As the automatic door opened he almost bumped into a person has just arrived from the opposite side. He let him in, mumbling some apologies; the other guy nodded curtly but said nothing and turned his back on LJ. It looked that he wasn’t in a mood to socialize.

He was almost as tall as LJ /around1.8m/ slender with long limbs. The medium long rebellious black hair was tied in a short pony tail. As they stopped at their floor the silent guy took left and headed to the Art department. LJ watched him departing; so this was the odd new guy; he made a mental note and turned to his own headquarters.

After a brief look over the daily duties he called for Eric Rocha, his friend from the Art Department. They both took a cup of coffee and stood to talk about some new developments.

-By the way-said LJ casually. I think I just bumped into the new member of your crew. He wasn’t very talkative; all I could see from him was his back.

-Well, usually it’s the best you can get from him if it’s not about work-chuckled Eric. He’s not a bad guy; he’s just very private. He has already helped a lot with the art-work and the younger ones like him. But he hates small talk.

By the way, have you ever seen his works? No? Let me show you; he’s quite impressive.

Eric’s fingers flew over the keyboard and there were lots of art-works signed simply “FB”. LJ watched intently and he had to agree that the guy was talented. His works were powerful but filled with a sensitive mystery that was quite elusive. Oddly enough LJ had a familiar feeling looking at the works…

-You’re right-he said to Eric. But what made him to come and work for us? He was already famous as a freelancer.

-He said something about personal issues and that he needed a permanent job. On the other hand we needed a fresh view and a personality like him came at hand.

LJ turned his head thoughtfully.

-I hope that in time we’ll find a way to communicate. Until then we have to work.

They both laughed and returned to their offices. The days went on uneventful until LJ got himself buried under a load of urgent matters so he decided to stay at the office late. It was quiet around as the evening was setting on the city. The building looked deserted except for the caretakers and those cleaning the offices.

LJ stretched and turned off the computer, locked up his things and took his coat. He locked the office and headed to the elevator when he spotted a dim light coming from the Art Department. Surprised he turned back and headed there to see who else was still working at that hour.  The new guy was working on the computer, his back turned at the door. LJ hesitated for a moment but curiosity got the best of him. He knocked and stepped inside. The young man didn’t seem to notice; he was changing and twisting some images with the ease of a magician.

-Good evening-said LJ as he came closer. I thought I was alone on this floor…

-Creative work requires some intimacy-came the reply in a soft voice. I’m still adjusting to the work in a crowded office.

The young man kept working while he was talking; LJ couldn’t see much of his face. Some of the rebellious black strands were falling forward, hiding him from the viewer.

-I’m LJ White-said him hoping to capture the young man’s attention.

The latter gave a small nod and kept focusing on his work.

-I know. And you know me to. I’m FB, the new guy from the Art Dept.

Suddenly he raised his face and took LJ by surprise. The young man was stunningly beautiful. He was in his mid-twenties; there was a sweet softness lingering in the oval of his face, in the fine line of the jaw, in the fresh, nicely curved lips… But the straight nose had fine, nervous nostrils and above all, he had mesmerizing lavender eyes, underlined by thick, black eyelashes. Those eyes were clear but deep like the water of a glacier lake high in the mountains.

LJ saw a quick flicker in those eyes as they connected with his eyes but it died out almost instantly. LJ stared at the young man, unable to utter a sound until the latter turned pink under his gaze.

-I’d rather you don’t stare at me. I’m not some freak of Nature-he whispered and turned back to work.

Surprised and embarrassed LJ said a short “Sorry” and left in a hurry. He felt stupid…yet he captured a faint comment that lately kept nagging him:

“ Cocky as usual…watching but not seeing.”

At home he took a shower and then sat on the top of the bed, recounting all that happened. The beauty of that face took him by surprise but he found those eyes the most disturbing feature. He felt that there was some kind of expectation in their look that it faded into…disappointment. LJ felt angry, confused and discomforted.

What was that youth thinking? Was he testing him? How dared he?

 

But no matter how humiliating the previous night seemed, LJ woke with a restlessness pushing him to get to work early. Despite anger and frustration he wanted to meet again the young artist. As he was the first one to arrive he could watch the others coming one by one. He saw the small, two seated silver sports car stopping at the parking lot outside the building. The young man descended and locked the vehicle. He was dressed simply, casually with a white, Russian style shirt and blue jeans. He walked gracefully, his long, untied hair flowing around in the same rhythm.

LJ counted the moment he would arrive at their floor and he took a few steps towards the elevator. They met face to face and stood still, watching each-other in silence. The lavender eyes shone with a mysterious inner light.

-Good morning-said the young man. You’re early- he added with an amused smile and turned towards his office, leaving a speechless LJ behind. A sudden rush of air blew a scent of wildflowers in his direction and he staggered. That scent was stirring up memories that he couldn’t yet properly touch. He desperately tried to unlock that place where something was building up and pushing the surface. At that moment he couldn’t see the young man staring back at him, watching unhappily his struggle…His face turned blank as he entered the office.

From a shaded corner a clearly surprised Eric Rocha was watching the unfolding of the events. It looked that somehow his friend was in connection with this young artist but at the same time he looked uncertain.

Eric took two coffees and knocked at his friend’s office. LJ looked slightly confused and thoughtful.

-You look like you have seen a ghost-said Eric jokingly.

-I might have-murmured LJ. But I can’t remember him properly.

-You mean FB?

-Yes. How do you know?

-I’ve seen his face; he looked…pained and desperate as he watched you. He didn’t know I was there. Is he bothering you? Shall we get rid of him?

LJ shook his head.

-No, no…on the contrary. I need to know more about him. This nagging feeling that’s coming from inside is genuine. There’s more than meets the eyes and I want to know what lies beneath.

He was back to his old self.

-Now, let’s get back to work. We still have a great deal ahead and I’d like to finish the projects as soon as possible.

 

LJ was pleased with the way the projects worked out. He could not ignore the fact that FB proved to be a great addition to their team; he had skills and good instinct so things worked out excellently. Even the communication between them got better. The young artist became less monosyllabic and he was more at ease with LJ.

Since the projects were finished successfully they decided to throw an office party to ease the tension and fatigue built up during work. LJ talked FB into joining the party and give up his shyness.

-Why should I?-asked the young man looking at LJ thoughtfully.

-Because a great deal of the success is due to your work and talent and you deserve to be known for it.

-Is that all?-came the following question.

-No. I would like you to be there. It’s… a personal request.

LJ reddened as he finished the request.

-Ok then-said the young man in a soft voice. I’ll come; I promise.

 

 

The two shapes of light watched them attentively.

-Do you think he’ll manage this time?-asked the taller.

-I hope so; he’s very much involved. I’m a little bit worried; he looks so desperate sometimes…

-He’ll be fine, you’ll see-said the taller.

-He’s so fragile-murmured the shorter one. He’s our special Child; I don’t like to watch his sufferance.

-I know, I know…but we didn’t expect this…

 

 

They all met at a small restaurant with a pleasant garden running down to a grassy meadow and a thick spot of forest. The place was lovely and had a familiar atmosphere. The music was good and the mainly young team greatly enjoyed every moment of the party. LJ scanned the happy crowd looking for FB. He was already there, talking with some girls; though he was very simply dressed, he stood out from the others. He was wearing a white T-shirt decorated with an intricate pattern and he wore a silver wrist-band on each wrist. He wore jeans and his hair was tied up as usual but one or two strands fell on his face.

He was slightly smiling while the girls were giggling around him. LJ watched him in amazement; the young man proved to be a pleasant company; only on certain occasions something made him withdrawn.

LJ made the tour of the party, talking and enjoying his colleagues’ company but he kept a constant watch on the young artist. The latter seemed oblivious about the watch; he had acknowledged LJ by the flicker in his lavender eyes and a short smile. The party went on and the afternoon turned almost too warm. Luckily the garden had many shaded, cool spots and narrow alleys where you could relax. LJ approached the young artist and invited him to find a quiet place to talk. They walked until they got near a wide, old tree and they sat on the ground, leaning against the rugged trunk. LJ lead the conversation and his companion listened with a slightly amused smile on his face. He rarely commented but this time he seemed to enjoy LJ’s company. LJ turned to him from time to time, watching the delicate profile and wondering why was he feeling so comfortable sitting here with this unusual young man.

There was an inner sense telling him that they shared a connection deeper and older that those days and weeks at the office. He had recalled many times the whispered words about his lack of ability to really see what was in front of him. LJ was determined to find out this time what was buried deep down in his memory. He also had to admit that the proximity of the young man made him restless. LJ stopped talking and gazed at him; the young man returned his gaze. His beautiful eyes were thoughtful and he turned serious. LJ felt as warmth built up inside him and he stood up while his companion followed him. They looked at each other silently then LJ closed one arm around his waist, pushed him with his back against the tree and kissed him. He felt the slender body stiffening but then giving in to him. The bittersweet, fresh scent of wildflowers surrounded them stirring up memories.  A shining expanse of water and long, thick grass passed in front of his eyes…a lovely face looking back at him, eyes filled with tears and sadness…LJ’s vision blurred. He held the young man closer and buried his face into the warm hollow of the neck; he felt his breath quickening and he moaned as LJ kissed his neck…He tried to free himself from the grip; LJ grabbed his wrists and one of the silver bands fell to the ground. LJ felt under his palm the twitching pulse and the long, thin scar crossing the wrist. Shocked by the finding he released the hand while his mind was overwhelmed by strong images; there was a sudden pain in his chest as he helplessly watched the blood dripping into a bath tub filled with water… He grabbed the young man’s shoulders and asked in a coarse voice:

-Is this something I have caused to you?! Tell me!!!!

The young man freed himself and turned away from him.

-It’s no use…he whispered in a desperate tone. Leave me, please…We’ll end up hurt, both of us!

-No! I won’t!-LJ shouted. I want to know what is this all about!

-It’s no use!

The young artist pushed him aside and ran down the faraway meadow; LJ fled after him angry but puzzled. His mind was ticking feverishly and he was taken aback by the turmoil of feelings and fragmented memories surfacing from the cracks of his mind. He realized that this wasn’t the only time in his life when he had chased this elusive young man. His image was carved deep inside his soul and it was bitter-sweet. LJ ran and took off his shirt; it was getting hot in this pursuit. FB was light as a feather and was running at top speed trying to escape from LJ. But the older man was strong and well trained and after a while he got the younger man, grabbing his T-shirt in his attempt to stop him.

The fabric of the shirt tore up revealing a colorful tattoo on the young artist’s shoulder; it was a beautiful butterfly that looked almost alive. Suddenly everything in LJ’s mind fell into place: the elusive butterfly, the mesmerizing amethyst eyes, the scent of wildflowers, all the pain and the passion…He barely heard the young man’s plea: ”Leave me, please…just let me go…”

He grabbed him and shook him:

-Stop! Stop it!-he shouted. FUYUKI!!! How many times are you going to run away from me?!

Fuyuki fell into his arms shaking and panting; tears were running down his face and he was unable to utter a sound for long minutes. Little John held him gently and caressed him to ease the shock; his whole life changed its perspective. By some strange twist of fate he was holding the forbidden and lost love of his previous life. He wasn’t about to question that; all he wanted for now was to keep him and never let go. As Fuyuki calmed down he took him round the shoulders and they sat on a shaded spot near the small forest.

-Fuyuki…asked LJ in a soft voice. Is this a dream or is it for real?

-It’s for real-whispered Fuyuki. You wished for it and so…did I; besides I made a promise. So here we are…

Little John buried his face in his hair and inhaled deeply the familiar scent. He squeezed him lovingly while Fuyuki folded in his arms.

-What about Yoshiasu?-he asked casually.

-He’s not here in this cycle. It’s only you and me.

-You’re younger-said Little John watching him closely.

-I had to wait a little until you get wiser and less cocky-chuckled Fuyuki. You’re still overconfident sometimes. I thought you’d never remember me…

-But I fell in love with you anyway. I’m sorry if I made you worry but why didn’t you tell me?

-It doesn’t work like that-said Fuyuki. Anyway, you wouldn’t have believed me; I had to annoy you a little to get you into act.

He laughed softly; Little John bent and kissed him.

-Would you move with me, Fuyuki?-he asked. Like…today?

-Don’t be afraid, I won’t fade away-smiled the young artist.

-You’re a gift of the gods so I won’t take any unnecessary risks. Anyway, I owe you a new shirt-chuckled Little John. Let’s go back; the others might be looking for us. I’ll ask Eric to help me out with your T-shirt.

They stood up and slowly walked back to the party. Little John found his shirt and dressed up; he called Eric and asked him to find something for Fuyuki and bring it to them. Eric was slightly taken aback by the strange request but he has seen them leaving together more than an hour ago. Finally he managed to get a proper shirt for the slim young man; he descended in the garden, looking for his friend and the young artist. He saw them coming; LJ was holding FB by the shoulders and they looked very happy together. It was a surprising development even for Eric Rocha; the two young men were radiant and for the first time the young artist’s unexpected beauty became evident. Their ease together spoke about a long and deep relationship…As they got closer LJ smiled and his companion blushed; he was half naked and he had a wonderful butterfly tattoo on his left shoulder. Eric quickly remembered a photo taken by a magazine from a young artist called “The Lost Butterfly”. He was almost sure that the young man in front of him was the same man; he handed on the shirt and turned to LJ while the other man dressed up.

-I knew there were some difficulties between the two of you but I didn’t expect to turn out so stormy-he chuckled. I see that you made amends and that apologies were accepted-he said to LJ.

Little John smirked.

-All for the best-he said. At least my memory has returned and it wasn’t empty handed. Fuyuki and I were high school sweethearts but we’ve lost track of each other; even then I had caused him a lot of pain but it seems that the good days were more important to him so he searched for me until we finally met.

Eric looked at him somehow incredulously but decided to accept the story delivered by his friend, at least for now. They all turned back inside where the party was still on; there were some surprised looks as people realized the intimacy of the relationship between LJ and their new colleague. There was a new light coming from inside in both young men and the young artist looked stunningly beautiful and relaxed. Soon everybody returned to the music, drink and chatter and the evening went on without any more disturbances.

Little John and Fuyuki drove together to LJ’s house. They had already taken some of Fuyuki’s personal things from his place. As the night fell over the city, they stood side by side under the stars, enjoying each other’s company. Fuyuki leaned against Little John; he untied the young man’s pony tail and ran his fingers through the silky black strands. He bent over the beautiful face and kissed his love until he melted in his arms. He then carried him in his arms into the bedroom; he placed him on the bed and sat beside him, running his fingers slowly and gently across that delicate face. Fuyuki blushed and turned, his breath speeding up.

-Please-said Little John. Stay; don’t turn away. I never had the chance to watch you closely as much as I wanted. Don’t get shy; you’re so beautiful…

He ran his fingers over the soft lips and then over the fine line of the jaw, running down to the warm hollow of the neck. Fuyuki moaned and shivered under the touch.

-First time I saw you Old John warned me: Don’t stare! He’s already taken! I wondered even then: Why?! Why are you there?! Why are you so fuckin’ beautiful and friendly?!

Why are you already taken?! Why was that happening to me?!

Little John’s hand brushed gently over the chest and over the sensitive nipples. Fuyuki closed his eyes as his breath hitched. He turned towards Little John and braced himself against him raising his body to meet him. Little John rolled atop and kissed him deeply and whispered into his ears:

-You are pure beauty and joy and I love you…Don’t leave me anymore!

Fuyuki cried out as he felt him inside and they made love passionately, over and over again as they did last time when they were together. Just that this time they belonged to each other so they gave in uninhibitedly.

Taken up by the maelstrom of feelings and emotions Little John mentally thanked the gods who allowed him to live this magic, to love and being loved by Fuyuki.

 

They woke up holding each other; Little John was pleased to see happiness sparkling in the lavender eyes. They descended to the basement and both enjoyed the morning swimming. After a short breakfast they left for work together, in Little John’s car. Fuyuki took farewell from the Art Team but offered them his help and inviting them to call whenever they needed. He shook hands with Eric Rocha:

-I hope I haven’t created too many problems to you. Please, excuse my previous behavior; it wasn’t meant to you…I really enjoyed working with your team-he said.

Eric laughed pleasantly.

-I’m accustomed to artists’ oddities; you’re a mild case! We will miss you and your skills. By the way, may I know your real name?

-I’m Fuyuki Tanaka and yes, I’m the Butterfly Artist. I’m working on my next exhibition and all of you are invited. And as I’ve already told everyone…my house is your house.

They’ve parted in good terms; Fuyuki returned to Little John and they agreed to meet at lunch time. Little John watched him walking away; life with Fuyuki wouldn’t be a quiet, dull one, he knew it well from their previous existence. But he was madly in love with him and he knew that this time Fuyuki belonged body and soul only to him. A gift from the gods…

 

 

 

Fuyuki woke up in the middle of the night and sit up in bed. The room was dimly lit by the fool moon peeking through the windows.

The young man looked at his sleeping lover. Little John slept peacefully breathing slowly; Fuyuki smiled, his companion was quite handsome. He looked content and his manly features softened as he relaxed in his dream. The slightly pouting full lips reminded Fuyuki of the cocky young native he once knew. Now that young man was a more responsible adult and a proud man in his early thirties. The roles were reversed; Fuyuki was five years younger, with more delicate features but with the same passionate heart.

He sat in the half-lit room deeply immersed in thoughts. It looked like he was connecting with somebody on a mind-level. As minutes passed by his concentration deepened and his breath sped up. He was slightly trembling but stood still and continued the effort. The air around filled with electricity and two dim silhouettes emerged from the darkness. Their contour was underlined by a shade of phosphorescent light. Each of them sat on a chair looking silently to Fuyuki. The young man raised his eyes and fixed them.

-So…he whispered. You came.

-You have called us, Child- answered one of them in deep baritone.

-Aren’t you happy now?-asked the other one with a lighter voice.

Fuyuki sighed and bit his lower lip.

-Happy…What do YOU know about happiness? Or…do you care?

-You are with him now-said the baritone. Wasn’t that your deepest wish?

-Yes-said Fuyuki and his voice sank. Yes, I wanted to be with him because I was and I am in love and I missed him. I missed the love that never had a chance to become reality because at that time it wasn’t meant to be.

Yes, I am happy with him now; but each day of happiness brings with it another day of deep despair in the future. The more I love him, the more I’ll suffer when we’ll have to part. Then you’ll ask me to choose one of them for the next cycle and you’ll sit there watching the new story unfold.

-What’s wrong with it?-asked tenor. Don’t you love them both? You seem to be equally happy with both of them…

-What’s wrong?!!!-Fuyuki stood up and came near them. He stopped in front of the shapes. Everything is wrong! What am I to YOU?! A toy?  A gadget?  A pet? An object of experiment? I am less than your damned ship….

He braced himself for a moment then burst out passionately:

-I am YOUR Child! You let me be born and raised as a human. I am a human! I have a heart, I have feelings! I love and I hurt! YOU know nothing of it! You see only the outside but you haven’t experienced it from the inside!

Yes, I love both of them and that’s why I can’t choose between them! YOU…YOU are tearing me apart and you don’t even realize that! I don’t want to choose between them!

I want to DIE! And I want the two of you to live forever with the thought that you caused my death! I curse you for your stupid kindness that knows nothing and understands nothing! Now I know why people hate their gods! They understand nothing about the poor, unhappy creatures they’ve created…

Fuyuki fell on his knees crying desperately. The two shapes looked at each other in surprise. The baritone tried to say something but the tenor stopped him by raising a hand. He stood up and stopped next to the sobbing young man. He crouched and gently touched his shoulder.

-Child, don’t cry. I can’t say that I fully understand your reproaches but I realize the depth of your sorrow and despair. Maybe you’re right; we played a cruel game with you and you’re the one who lost.

Not knowing it doesn’t excuse us; we’ve failed you. This won’t happen again. Look at me please.

Fuyuki raised his face and looked into the shadow-face. The tenor cupped his face with both hands, gazing deeply into the lavender eyes shimmering with tears. He spoke softly.

-Relax, Child; your fight is over…

Fuyuki’s eyes shut and he fell asleep. The baritone helped the tenor to place him in bed.

-What are you going to do?-asked the baritone.

-I’ll relieve him from his burden and put an end to his torment. I have suppressed their previous memories. All they know are the present facts: that they are in love with each other. Let them fully enjoy the cycle…

-What about the future?-asked the baritone.

-I made the choice for him and he doesn’t have to find out anymore about that.

The baritone thought for a moment then he nodded.

-Whom have you chosen?

-You might find it surprising but I’ve chosen this young guy. He’s very passionate and quite untamed; I have a feeling that no matter what would we do, he would not give up on Fuyuki…

-So be it-said the baritone. He caressed the face of the sleeping young artist. You are a wonderful Child but you are quite a handful. These humans with their intense and contradictory feelings…I don’t think I’ll ever understand them properly.

He turned to the tenor.

-Let’s go-said the other. We have some reports to fill and we have a lot to explain…

They turned and slowly faded. A rush of cold air flew around the room and made Fuyuki stir in sleep. He cuddled in Little John’s arms; instinctively, his lover held him closer and they slept quietly till morning.

 

 

 

Little John sat on the edge of the bed watching silently the sleeping young man. His sleep was deadly deep; there wasn’t much hope that he’ll wake up again. He wasn’t sick or drugged or anything like this; he just didn’t want to wake up. He faded away inside him and shut the doors behind. There was only a thin channel of communication left but that was connected only to Little John.

The two silhouettes were sitting in this room just as they did before once upon a cycle, long time before. They were stunned by the young man’s resolve.

-Don’t take him away-said Little John in a restrained voice. He doesn’t want to go.

-But…we have to go. Our mission has ended and we’re about to depart. He cannot stay here; he doesn’t belong here. He’s …our Child.

-He’s human now and we belong to each other. We have developed our own connection during the cycles. I can follow him to the edge of the solar system, but as soon as you cross it, our connection will break and then…he will die. Are you ready to face that?

-He’ll die anyway if we’ll leave him here! It’s an awful choice! We were not prepared for this!!!

Little John sighed and watched them closely.

-Then you can understand now his torments and dilemmas…Leave him with me! We love each other and I’ll do anything to protect him and make him happy, even if this is the last cycle of our life.

The baritone gave an inquisitive look to the tenor; the other one was sunk in deep thinking. After a while he looked up and spoke to Little John.

-I always had special feelings for him; I knew this was our most unusual and precious Child. We leave him in your care…we cannot save his life against his will. I think this is what humans face when their own children are starting their life…Come-he said turning to the baritone-there’s no need for us here anymore.

-Little John!-said the baritone to the young man. Tell our Child that…we love him and we wish him to be happy on his own terms!

The silhouettes slowly faded. Little John ran his fingers over Fuyuki’s soft cheeks. The Lost Butterfly stirred in his sleep and mumbled something, then turned towards the caressing hand and sighed in sleep. He was back, close to the real world.

Little John leaned over him and kissed him lovingly. They had the whole life ahead…

 

 

 

 

The two silhouettes were woven of light; one of them was taller and stronger than the other that looked slender. They embraced and held each other for minutes. When they parted (for a moment) the slender one was holding a cocoon of light in his hands. He offered it to his companion and they both supported it with their entwined hands until the cocoon started to glow with a soft light. The light became shinier with each moment and the cocoon slowly lifted in the air. It hovered over their hands…then rose higher and higher until it disappeared in the azure background of the sky. The two silhouettes embraced once again, the slender one cuddling in his companion’s arms. They watched the cocoon departing then they turned on the opposite direction, walking slowly in the twilight.

-He’ll manage, don’t worry-said the slender one.

-Our first Child…how wonderful-murmured the taller.

-We’ll be around whenever he needs us-completed Fuyuki, leaning against Little John.

His lover squeezed him gently, lovingly and kissed him. He encircled his shoulders with an arm and they slowly faded into the shadows, leaving behind a warm, golden glow.

Somewhere in the colorful world of the Blue Planet a new Butterfly was ready to emerge from his cocoon of light…

FIN/for now

 

 

 

“Hey, hey come on…

“What?

“I have wonderful news…

“?

“The first half light-half human Child was born!

“They succeeded?

“ YESSSS!

“Oh! But how…?

“It’s what humans call “the Power of LOVE”

“I’m happy and I’m impressed; there’s hope for both our races.

“And our Child is really…special.

“You were right from the beginning. Probably that’s why…I love you, if I may say that.

“So do I, you big fool…humanly speaking.

They laughed a happy laugh; the Universe kept spinning but in a better mood. His Children were improving, slowly but surely…