She needed coffee.
Or at least that’s what she told her friends when she said that she would just go out for a bit to get a can of hot coffee from a vendo.
Truth was, she needed air.
The hotel that she and her friends booked for the last leg of their trip at Tokyo was starting to suffocate her. She was feeling antsy. Caged. She needed to just… go.
And while Coleen didn’t fully have an idea as to how she was really feeling, her best friend and soul sister, Kacey, did.
When she said she was going to go out to get coffee, Kacey gave her one long, silent look and simply nodded before engaging Coleen in a random conversation to take the attention away from her.
She would have cried right there and then, inside that stuffy hotel room, but she resolved herself that she wouldn’t. Not when they could still see her. Not when her soul sister knew exactly what she was going through. How her insides were a jumbled mess.
She acted cool and collected a while ago while they were at one of those KTV bars that Japan is known for, but the events that transpired in there were…
She sighed. Tonight was simply a disaster.
She sat down on one of the benches close to one of the entrances of Yoyogi Park while nursing the lukewarm coffee she now had in her hand. Thank God that Yoyogi Park does not exactly close and that their hotel was just a short walking distance away. The cold night autumn air was helping her calm her chaotic thoughts. And though there were the occasional people walking through or drunkenly laughing about, it was relatively a peaceful night. Plus, Tokyo was safe even at three o’clock in the morning.
At least that was what he said.
She sighed again.
What were the odds of meeting him on the night that they decided to do one last hurrah before their flights out of Japan tomorrow? Why not on the first night when she and Kacey went bar-hopping? Why not when she went to Yamanashi to see Mt. Fuji? Why not when she and Kacey were walking the streets of Shibuya during those nights when they both couldn’t sleep?
“Damn it. Damn you, Airen.”
She chuckled bitterly. She kind of expected what he did a while ago during that unexpected meeting. She even prepared herself for it. She knew that he was hurting from his previous relationship, a relationship that the entire world knew about and thought would end in marriage, and that meeting someone like her, a stranger to him, was probably the last thing he wanted. Or if he did, he would just make it casual. He needed a warm body to warm his cold one after all. That was simply it.
She knew all of this. But knowing that and preparing for it didn’t make it hurt any less.
“What did you expect, Ris? That he’ll miraculously feel something for you upon meeting you? That he’ll know you as his akai ito, his soulmate? I mean – even you didn’t believe in that bullshit a year ago. Get a grip.” She muttered quite angrily to herself, taking a huge swig from her coffee can. “Those only happen in the fantasies you conjure in your head and the stories that you write. In books. In fairy tales. And yours is anything but.”
Because while she did bump into Fujiwara Airen, Japanese actor extraordinaire, who is well-known in the industry for his portrayal of a cardio surgeon in a latest hit medical TV series showing on HBO, and the man she knows in her heart and soul that she loves with her entire being, in that KTV bar a while ago – their chance meeting left nothing to be desired.
He was staggering a little when she bumped into him. She was on her way back from the restrooms while he was just on his way there. She was surprised, of course, her eyes widening when she realized who it was that she collided with so hard.
Because who would have thought that she would meet him that night of all nights, in that place of all places? He had a live TV guesting in Fukuoka earlier that night, from what she knows, anyway. What was he doing back in Shibuya immediately?
He looked quite red and his eyes were a little bloodshot, a sign that he had probably been drinking a little too much. Or maybe tired from his earlier shoot. His speech was straight though and when he apologized to her in straight English, she couldn’t help but smile softly at him.
And that was when he turned on the charm, so to speak. Because of that little smile she subtly gave.
“Ahh… Ris… You crazy bitch. Why must you love him again?” She shook her head and looked up towards the sky with the lone full moon the only thing shining brightly in the darkness, drowning the twinkling stars around it, as if mocking her. She used to always wish on the moon, not the stars, no. The moon. Always on the moon. She had hoped that when she talks to it, that he might be listening at the other side. She had always been a selenophile.
But not tonight. No. She scoffed as she turned away. “And you really just have to be out tonight, don’t you? Tonight of all nights.”
She remembered how he smirked, confidently at that, once they both got over the initial shock of being jostled. Perhaps also because of the liquid courage running through his bloodstream. That was the first thing he did after apologizing and while still holding on to her arm.
She was caught off-guard so much when he bumped into her unceremoniously, especially when they both grasped each other to steady themselves. She found herself against the wall, thoroughly surprised, as she stared into the eyes of none other than the one whom she believes holds her heart and soul. But of course, he didn’t know that.
He knew right away that she was a gaijin though, since he apologized to her in English and she replied in the same language. Her surprise must have registered on her face when he initially apologized because he grinned while he kept her trapped, in a way, within his arms.
And that was when he propositioned her.
“So, as an additional apology for bumping into you like that, would you like to get out of here with me right now? I could show you a really good time.”
She tried to remember if there was anything in her stance that invited him to say those words to her. She was simply wearing a white long-sleeved mini dress with black winter stockings and knee-high leather boots. Nothing in her looks showed that she was interested in that kind of a good time. Granted, a little of her cleavage was showing, but that shouldn’t have given him the assumption that she was… well, easy. But the way he looked at her, as if undressing her right there and then – made her question – why?
Was he that starved for affection that he was willing to do it with whoever would agree to do it with him? It sure seemed that way.
And that fucking hurt.
He was so confident that he could get her to agree, perhaps because he knew he was an actor, and it wasn’t everyday one gets propositioned by a well-known one at that. He probably thought that she knew that about him and that she would get flattered because an actor like himself propositioned and wanted her.
She didn’t show that she was affected with his close proximity, his warm yet alcoholic breath already fanning her face. She didn’t show how rattled she felt when he was propositioning her, especially when his deep, dark brown eyes bore into her and his scent enveloping her was suddenly the only thing she registered around her. She didn’t show how her heart was already running for miles a second because he was getting closer and closer and closer.
On any other occasion, she would have screamed bloody murder already, slapped or punched him or stomped on his feet before pushing him away from her and running towards the opposite direction.
But it was him. Him. It was the love of her life and soul, standing so close to her, giving her that handsome grin and the attention that she had only ever dreamed of. And though she got hurt with the way he seemingly thought of her as just some hot piece of ass, and was calm and collected on the outside, her heart still continued to thunder as it started to slowly break. He didn’t even ask for her name and he was already asking if they could… well… do it!
“Asshole! You’re such a bastard, Airen!”
Thank God that she had a high tolerance for alcohol so she still had her wits about her when he came onto her. Goodness knows what she would have done if she was drunk as fuck.
But then, she remembered that he was the same, that he doesn’t get drunk easily as well, and that realization made it hurt even more. He knew what he was doing. He couldn’t blame alcohol for being this brazen around her.
Cool as a cucumber, she answered him with a serious smile others would have found chilling that, no – she was fine and that she needed to go back to her friends before they start looking for her. She extracted herself from within his arms, bowed her head a little in acknowledgement and excused herself to walk off, dignity still intact.
But then he called her back.
And stupid her, of course – she stopped.
“Stupid. Yep, that’s what you are, Ris. A stupid dumbass bitch, who cannot say no when it comes to him.”
With her back still turned towards him, she heard him walk towards her, his hands against the wall to support his seemingly semi-drunken state. She heard him fumble for a bit and was surprised when he suddenly handed her something.
“Well, if you change your mind – here. Call me. Anytime. Tokyo is safe even late at night.”
He winked at her before walking back towards the restrooms, one hand in his pocket, whistling some tune.
It was a few seconds before she was able to move and walk back to their own KTV room. Dazed and not completely herself, she clutched the card in her hands as she entered their room while Coleen was singing.
Kacey took one look at her slightly pale face and asked her silently what was up with just a raisebrow. She didn’t answer. She couldn’t. Not after that. She simply handed her the card she got. Kacey curiously took it, a frown on her face and one glance at it had her looking back up at her in alarm.
She was grateful that Kacey didn’t scream and press her for more information, knowing that she would talk once she was ready. She only asked if she was ok and when she nodded, left it at that. They couldn’t exactly talk much anyway, not when Coleen was with them. So Kacey simply handed the card back to her and looked towards the door of their room with narrowed eyes.
Noticing this, she finally snapped out of her daze and slightly smiled.
“What are you gonna do when you see him passing by? Get up and slam the door in his face?” She remembered asking her soul sister.
Kacey shook her head and answered, “That would actually be a kindness to him. If I’m going by how you looked when you got back, things… really didn’t go well now, did it?”
She shook her head in reply. “Thought so,” Kacey muttered back. “If fate will give us a chance to see him again, then maybe I will.”
Well, fate apparently wanted it to be so.
Because they did see him just as they were going out of the KTV. He was with a couple of his friends, laughing, as they helped one who was far drunker than they were, enter an empty taxi. They were laughing boisterously, seemingly cursing their drunk friend since they couldn’t get him to get into the taxi. He was laughing the loudest.
She remembered how Kacey looked on with narrowed eyes, her hands curling into fists. She looked like she wanted to stomp over to where the loud men were to give them a piece of her mind. She remembered cursing fate in her head that time because damn it – why must this be the time when they would get to see him when they were about to leave Japan and in such circumstance, even? Why couldn’t they have met in a better environment?
Well, fate’s a total bitch. She was sure of it now.
Kacey then turned to her, silently communicating and asking. She shook her head infinitesimally, thanking the heavens that her soul sister knew what she meant to say, even wordlessly, every single time. Kacey simply shrugged then, an air of indifference in her stance before she turned the other way and started to walk. Their hotel was close to the KTV bar and they weren’t that drunk anyway that they couldn’t walk to it.
She remembered being torn, as to whether to follow Kacey and also walk away or to stay put and face her fate.
But then, Coleen squealed and made the decision for her.
“Eek! Oh my God, Iris! Iris look! That’s Airen, right? The Airen Fujiwara you told me about?!”
And everything stopped.
With widened eyes, she hushed Coleen and proceeded to herd her away from them, from him, hoping and praying to everything that was holy that they or at least, he didn’t hear anything. Kacey simply looked on, puffing a little breath out while she waited for them to catch up.
But of course, fate wouldn’t be fate if it didn’t mess up their otherwise serene worlds.
“Chotto matte!” They all heard his loud voice.
She chuckled as she remembered how Coleen stopped and looked questioningly at her as to why she isn’t responding when they all knew that one of the reasons she had for this trip was to at least, see him in anyway she could – if fate would allow it.
And here he already was, seemingly laid out for her, even going so far as calling her. And yet – she couldn’t help but think that the situation and circumstance during that time was wrong on so many levels.
“I mean, for real. Let’s be real here, Ris. Ok? Let’s do that. He came onto you. Even though you fancy yourself in-love with him. That’s a big no-no in your book. Just because you love him doesn’t mean he gets a free pass.”
She suppressed a sob that threatened to come out of her lips, biting her hand and smiling harshly through it as she leaned back her head and looked up once more towards the sky. Closing her eyes, she tried to further calm the unending thoughts circling through her head, breathing deeply in and out, slowly. She couldn’t afford to have an anxiety attack. Not at that moment. She needed to be calm. She needed her peace. She needed…
But her thoughts still kept on drifting back to what just happened.
To him. She still needed him.
Should she have stayed and waited for him to catch up to them? Should she have said something? Maybe. Perhaps. Or perhaps what she did was actually the right thing.
They did stop. She did stop. But she didn’t wait for him to catch up. Though she did see him about to run towards them. She simply shook her head once at him, making him stop halfway then she smiled, a small lifting of the corner of her lips, before giving a small wave of her hand as a goodbye. Finally, she turned her back towards him and walked away, leaving him. Leaving her heart once more with him. Leaving its broken pieces.
And as they walked further and further away from him, she felt heavy, her eyes starting to water. She blinked rapidly and told herself that she shouldn’t even be crying. That this was what she told herself she would do if he propositioned her. Because she wouldn’t allow herself to be just one of his bed conquests. Because she wasn’t. She definitely wasn’t just that. She was more than that.
So she continued to walk, her steps dragging a little. But she never once looked back. Even though she felt his eyes on them, on her, all the way until they turned around the corner, and he couldn’t see them anymore.
When they got to their hotel, no one spoke a word for a time. They all did different things – changing out of their clothes, cleaning themselves up, fixing and readying their luggage. They have different flight times the following day, since they all came from different countries, with her having the last flight out. It was a comfortable silence which she reveled in.
Until Coleen finally broke it.
“Ok. I don’t know what’s up and what just happened but that was Airen Fujiwara that we saw a while ago, right? THE Airen Fujiwara that you, Iris, always kept on yammering about? He even called you out – those Japanese words he screamed were for you, right? So why are we here and not trying to go to where he is right now?”
Coleen looked expectantly at her, wanting an explanation for her kind of weird behavior that night. Kacey chanced a look at her and she simply shrugged. She didn’t know what to really say. And she wasn’t really ready to talk. Not yet at least. She would, later on. When she had full control of her emotions again. But right at that moment – she was still nursing her aching heart.
Kacey knew everything anyway so she didn’t have to explain herself to her. But when Coleen looked like she was about to ask and pester her even more, what in the fucking world was really going on, that was when she suddenly announced that she needed coffee. Kacey simply looked on at her, gave that small nod and engaged Coleen in another conversation.
Grateful that her best friend and soul sister knew her well, she then quietly slipped out of their hotel room and here she finally was – sitting on a bench, in a dark, empty park, trying to finish her now cold coffee. Trying so damn hard not to cry.
“Fuck,” she whispers, just as a lone tear fell down from her left eye. “Damn it. This shouldn’t hurt this much. I shouldn’t be hurting this much. Stop being such a drama queen, Ris. This is nothing, you bitch.”
But her tears continually fell. And then she found herself crying.
Because she was just suddenly tired of it all. Her heart had been heavy even before this trip happened. And what just recently happened kind of confirmed for her why.
Because she just needed to let it all go. So she simply succumbed to the all-consuming sadness her whole being was in and wept.
She didn’t know how long it had been since she sat down on that bench. She didn’t know how long it had been since her tears dried up and she couldn’t cry anymore. She didn’t know how long she had been staring blankly into the darkness of the night sky.
“I don’t think it’s been that long yet,” she mumbled to herself. “Still dark out, sun isn’t about to rise yet. Why oh why did I forget to wear my watch—oh wait, you have a phone, right, Ris? Stupid bitch.”
She chuckled mindlessly as she took out her phone from her coat pocket to check the time. That was quite silly of her. But then again, the events that so far transpired that night most likely addled her brain a little. Add to that that she was also exhausted, both emotionally and physically, and of course – she would be kind of out of her wits.
As her hand grasped her phone to take out, something else fell out of her pocket as well.
She took it slowly and stared at it as she held it up against the dark sky, with the moon suddenly peeking out from behind the night clouds, lending its light to her. It felt like even this was mocking her. Squinting a little, she could barely make out the name and the phone number as well as the personal email written on it.
“Fujiwara Airen,” she quietly breathed out, before closing her eyes, her hand that held the card falling down limply beside her on the bench. “You’re an asshole. Damn you to hell and back.”
“What did I do?”
Her eyes suddenly flew open at the voice that she would know anywhere that interrupted her musings.
What the fucking hell?! Seriously?!
Quickly turning her head to the right, she almost choked at who she knew she would see. She couldn’t believe that of all the people who would be passing the park at this time of night and who would even sit beside her, it would be him – wearing sweats and sneakers as well as a thick black jacket with the hood covering his head, his face shrouded in shadows.
He even had the audacity to chuckle! “Hai. Me.”
“What are you doing here? Did you follow me? Are you stalking me?!”
Lord, why me? What did I do to deserve this? Do I even deserve this? My heart can only take so much!
“I couldn’t sleep,” he started by way of explanation and she could just see that hint of a smirk that was probably on his lips right now as he looked on at her deer-caught-in-headlights face. “I thought of walking around and jogging so I could get tired. To think that all those drinks didn’t even make me drunk. Next thing you know, my feet took me here. Good thing I live close nearby.”
She narrowed her eyes at him, still quite unbelieving. She didn’t really think that he followed her; that would be quite presumptuous of her, to be quite honest. But she wasn’t too naive either to think that this was just another one of those… coincidences.
“I almost didn’t recognize you,” he continued in a low tone as he also leaned back and closed his eyes. “You’re wearing glasses now and your hair is up in a bun. And you’re all bundled up, winter bubble jacket, scarf and all. But then you said my name and I just had to stop.”
She didn’t reply. She couldn’t. What else could she say anyway? What else should she say?
She looked at him though. Stared was actually the correct term. Regardless of what he did and said a while ago to her at the KTV, she still really couldn’t take her eyes off his beautiful profile.
He then smiled even with his eyes closed, perhaps feeling her gaze. “Take a picture. It’ll last longer.”
She sputtered and blinked, turning to face front and huffing. The audacity of this man! Everyone said how he was such a down-to-earth person and how sweet and nice he was at all times. But this guy beside her right now was anything but!
Goodness fucking gracious. Was this perhaps his normal and real self and he pretty much deluded everyone into thinking how he was always… well, nice?
He’s an actor. He said so himself before that his job was primarily to sell dreams. So he projects this persona to everyone that dreams of being with him. He becomes what everyone wants him to be.
Could that be why she loved him? Because he projected something else that wasn’t really him? Did she just delude herself into thinking that he was the one for her?
She stood up quickly and thought that it might be better for her to leave. Nothing good could come out of this meeting anyway. Her heart was still hurting and seeing him just brought all those back.
She didn’t speak anymore and started to walk off, passing him to go back to their hotel. She was just done. At least she could say that she was able to meet and speak with him, however short and slightly appalling it was.
But fate had other thoughts that night.
Just as she passed him, his hand shot out to stop her, suddenly gripping her wrist tight.
“Why are you leaving?”
“Why?! Because you—”
His somber voice made her stop. She turned to look back at him, a ready retort on her lips to let her go but her voice caught in her throat when she saw how his eyes looked at her.
They were serious, a hint of sadness. Seeking. Pleading.
For what? Why would he plead?
“I can’t get you out of my head, for some reason, even though we just met a while ago,” he said, like an answer to her unspoken question, pulling her back a little closer. “It’s why I couldn’t sleep despite drinking a lot tonight. I don’t know why that is, but your face,” he closed his eyes even as his grip on her wrist tightened, “is what I keep on seeing when I close my eyes.”
She took a deep breath, slowly letting it out through her mouth before she sat back down beside him once more.
How funny was it that he was now saying the words that she just used to write about? The words that he would usually utter in her fantasies. Her first published book was about this similar chance meeting of a boy and a girl, falling in love after spending a week traveling together. It became a bestseller, not as huge as New York Times but still a bestseller. And her inspiration for that book of hers? Of course, the asshole currently in front of her, who’s pleading with her not leave him.
She chuckled. Fate was trying to be funny.
Sobering up, she turned to him. Even though she was a writer, she was still a realist. And even though her heart belonged entirely to him, she was still guarded and on edge. Because regardless of him saying these things, he could still break her if she wasn’t careful. If she just believed everything that he would say.
“Maybe because you weren’t able to get me,” she replied quietly, her lips pursing, a small cynical smile coming out. “You got curious as to why. Maybe because usually, you get your women so easily. With a snap of your fingers, they all bend for you. You’re a well-known actor, after all. You’re THE Fujiwara Airen. Who would say no to that, huh?”
And maybe because, this is the first time someone told you no. Maybe because I’m not exactly who you imagine to be with, really. But then you were refused. I refused. And knowing how you always want to pursue, you can’t just let that go. You can’t stand it when someone tells you no. You actually really hate that.
She wanted to add but couldn’t.
So instead, she smiled wistfully and a little sadly before she fully faced him. And promptly gasped when she met his eyes. As always, she was drawn in. And perhaps this time around, he would know just how much hold he actually has over her.
“Why does it feel like you know me when we just met and we barely even know each other?”
She didn’t answer. She didn’t really want to. She didn’t think he would understand anyway, whatever it was that she felt for him.
And even though her face betrayed nothing of what she was currently feeling, should he draw closer – he’d feel her heart racing.
“I wonder…” he whispered.
And draw closer, he did.
At first, she got rattled. She had an idea what he was about to do. She knew that if she didn’t stop him, he would swoop in and take her. And she really wouldn’t be able to do anything after that. She would succumb. Because no matter how much her mind warred with her about not letting him walk all over her, her heart wanted this. Wanted him. Loved him. Needed him.
And that’s when she was sure she would break.
She could see from his eyes that he wanted her, that if she doesn’t say anything, he would take what he could from her. Especially with the way his eyes were currently going back and forth between her own eyes and mouth and back again.
Should she just let it happen? This was the second time after all. And he did admit that he was thinking about her. But that could be so that she would agree to his advances. He could be playing her. And she could be playing right into his trap.
Just when he was a couple of inches away from her face, she closed her eyes and turned to face the other way. She couldn’t. She still just couldn’t.
She felt him stop.
“No. Please. Not like this,” she whispered, her voice faltering a little towards the end. “Not like this. Not when you don’t really even know who I am and it seems like you have no intention of knowing who I am first. I just… I can’t. It’s… just…”
This time, it was him who took a deep breath before leaning away from her and chuckling. She felt her heart start to break once more because she was sure that this was it. That he would stand up and walk away. Because he had been denied by her twice already. He wasn’t going to stick around if she wouldn’t put out. There were a ton of other women around him that he could definitely pick up, should he choose to.
She waited for the inevitable. She waited for him to throw her heart on the ground again and stomp on it, break it into tiny little pieces. She waited. And waited. And…
“Ok. You’re right. I guess that was too forward of me. And I suppose, I should have tried to get to know you first. Because I really cannot get you out of my mind.”
Surprised, she faced him. What did he just say?
“Let’s start over, ne? Kimi no namae wa? What’s your name?”
Ok. This… was quite unexpected.
Never in a million years did she think this was going to happen. Ok, that was a lie. But still – she didn’t factor this situation in, that he would actually want to get to know her. For real.
She was ready to get her heart broken. She was soooo ready.
But what was fate trying to play at? Again?
Did she really make an impression on him for him to suddenly be like this? Was this why he couldn’t forget her? Maybe that ‘no’ a while ago was a trigger.
Fine. She thought. I’d play, fate. Since I’m here already. Maybe you were testing me again a while ago. And maybe you were testing him, too. And maybe this is another test again. Ok. Fine. Let’s see how this one goes.
“Watashi wa Iris desu. Anata wa?”
He grinned when he heard her speak in his native tongue. And though he knew that she already knew who he really was, he still answered. This time, in a playful tone.
“Fujiwara Airen desu. But you can just call me Airen. Iris-san, yoroshiku.”
They shook hands.
And as the sun started to rise on the horizon, to signal a new day dawning – she thought that this was also a beginning for her. And for him. For the two of them.
Maybe fate wasn’t a total bitch after all.
Author’s Note: If you want some sort of insight or kind of like a story in HIS POV, you can go ahead and read that HERE. It’s a standalone story, same as this one, but it’s actually kinda like a sequel or something of that sort but told in HIS point of view, this time around.
I hope you enjoyed this story as much I did writing it. I got inspired by a song I just heard tonight and thought I’d published this here in my site as a little treat to you and to myself as well. I had this story with me for quite a while now but never had any reason to publish it until I heard that song tonight.
“I’m looking for a sign
Will you ever be mine?“
PS. Any grammatical errors you see are entirely mine. Ehehehe…