Claim of Ownership: All characters and situations presented in this story are copyrighted (©) as of October 30, 2003 by Lauren Kollett, AKA the Dragon Mistress. All characters and situations are entirely fictional and exist wholly in the author's imagination; any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Warnings: Mild language, bisexuality, eventual yaoi (m/m) content. Nothing graphic.

Note: All full names are written in the traditional Japanese format of Family Name-First Name.
Plain Text - present events. Italics - Narration.


Episode 2 - Love's Beginning : First Date

~11:45 p. Arakawa Residence~

I can't believe it, Mitsuharu said enviously, for what seemed like the hundredth time that night.

Setsuya shrugged. I don't think I can believe it, he said honestly. I mean... what were the odds I'd meet him in a bookshop and have him fall for me, when I barely said a word?

I dunno. But I'm telling you - you're not as boring as you think, if he wants to go out with you. Mitsuharu rolled over onto her back and frowned at the ceiling. Er - you don't think he was... leading you on, or something, do you?

Setsuya sighed and rested his chin on his knees. I dunno... I guess all I can do is show up on Thursday and hope he wasn't.

I guess... Mitsuharu slid under the blankets and yawned. Where's your mom?

Setsuya climbed into the huge bed as well. Sure your parents won't mind you sleeping over?

Nah... they went out to a karoke lounge with my dad's boss.. my dad hates karoke, but he does it to keep on his boss' good side... they won't be home till really late. I left a message on the answering machine just in case.

Setsuya reached over and turned out the lamp. Good night, Mi-chan.

'Night, Suya-chan... and if you're dreaming about Komaru-kun tonight, wake me up first so I can relocate to the couch...

Oh, shut up, Setsuya grumbled, hitting her with his pillow.

~12:23 a. Kyoto~

White Pearl Hotel

Komaru lay on his back in bed, staring up at the ceiling, one arm behind his head, smoking a cigarette. His mind kept drifting back to the young man he had met that day in the bookshop... he had been very cute, and those tight jeans he had been wearing had shaken Komaru up badly enough to cook up a fake excuse to dash off. He took a deep drag on the cigarette. Now he had a date with the guy - had actually asked him out...

Komaru had never told anyone he was gay, never had the courage to approach another man. His parents had never known; they had died when he was fifteen. They weren't his real parents. He had been adopted. His adoptive parents had never been able to tell him anything about his biological parents, simply because no one knew anything about them. It bothered Komaru very deeply, and he wished every day that he had some clue, some idea of who his real parents were...

He shook his head quickly and stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray. His mind had wandered off track while he lay daydreaming. He forced his mind away from his parents and back to Setsuya. Such a pretty one, really... and no one had been as surprised as Komaru when the kid actually accepted his offer... how old was he? Seventeen? Yes, that was it. Six years younger than Komaru himself...

Absently the singer reached for the crystal on his necklace, then remembered he had given it away. He smiled to himself. The necklace had been a fifteenth birthday present from his mother... she had died less than a week later... When she had given it to him, Mrs. Mizoguchi had told him:

Keep this, and wear it always, until you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Then give it to them... He wondered if perhaps his instincts had known something the rest of him didn't.

Komaru had always been... shy, I guess you could say, about the prospect of true love. The idea that two people could love each other enough to stay together for sixty, seventy, sometimes ninety years, frightened some part of him. Perhaps why he tried to hide himself behind a wall of indifference, why he did his best to seem unattainable, was because of his parents - he was afraid that anyone he ever got close to would abandon him...

With an impatient sigh, Komaru pulled the blankets up over his head. What he wouldn't give right now to be utterly, stinking, completely drunk... so drunk he couldn't even think... just to keep the same circular thoughts from repeating in his head over and over. It always came back to this, it always did... no matter how hard he tried to concentrate on other thoughts, his mind always wandered to the most upsetting, depressing things in his life. It was all right when he had company... but when he was alone...

Gritting his teeth, Komaru forced his mind along a different track. He concentrated on Thursday, and his upcoming date. He concentrated even harder on the sweet smile and long strawberry hair of Setsuya.

That did the trick. Arakawa Setsuya, he murmured to himself, and was finally allowed to fall into a peaceful sleep.

~3:45 p. Miina Bookshop~

Setsuya looked anxiously up at the clock on the bank across the street. Nervously fingering the crystal around his neck, he looked up and down the street in both directions. There were plenty of people coming and going, but none were Komaru. Setsuya hadn't expected him so early; but now he wished he had waited a little longer before leaving home. Waiting here was torture - his stomach felt full of butterflies and his legs felt curiously weak, as if they were made of spaghetti.

3:50. Setsuya leaned against the wall of the bookshop and scanned the street again, tugging on a lock of his hair. He couldn't recall ever being this nervous in his life, even during the horrid athletic competitions he had been forced to compete in during middle school (he was horrible at the jumping box). Resisting the temptation to bite his lip and ruin the application of pale pink lip gloss he had applied barely twenty minutes ago, he stopped pulling his hair and tossed the stray lock back over his shoulder.

He nearly jumped out of his skin. He whirled around, eyes wide, to see Komaru standing beside him, looking uncharacteristically pale and nervous. He did, however, look simply gorgeous in a plain blue button-down shirt, open over a white tank top, and a pair of blue-and-white-striped trousers that would have looked like clown pants on almost anyone else. On Komaru, they only made his lovely legs look even longer. The singer's shaggy brown bangs were partially held out of his eyes by a blue headband, and a cigarette dangled from his lower lip.

Komaru-kun... hello, Setsuya said, a trifle breathlessly. Dear God, but he looked good.

Komaru smiled. Hello, yourself - been waiting long?

Not too long, Setsuya lied. The redhead looked particularly cute in a black t-shirt and a pink vest with white designs; he was wearing tight jeans and boots with a slight heel to make himself a little taller. At Mitsuharu's insistence, he was wearing makeup. Guys with makeup are hot, she had declared, and so Setsuya had applied pale pink lip gloss, a little bit of kohl (as opposed to eyeshadow), and enough mascara to make his eyelashes dramatically dark and long. The effect was far from Gothic but fit the young man well.

Where shall we go? Komaru asked, offering his arm to Setsuya, who positively beamed at him before taking it. He smiled back. He hoped this relationship would be a little longer than the two-week romances and one-night stands he'd had in the past. A part of him trembled and cried out in protest at the thought, but Komaru squashed it. He wasn't going to let anything ruin today.

Umm... well... I would like to go out to eat, Setsuya suggested shyly.

Oho! I see. You'll take a free meal wherever you can get it, right?

A blush flitted across the younger man's cheeks. I just like food, is all. Tease all you want, I'm used to it.

Well, I haven't had lunch yet, Komaru said truthfully (in fact, he hadn't eaten anything today; breakfast had consisted of two aspirin and three cigarettes). If you wanna go eat, eating we shall go.

The redhead flushed darker at that and glanced away for a few moments; amused, Komaru had an idea of what had come to his mind. He smiled. It was fun to be out with someone he could tease and talk to. Everyone he had ever been with before had only been interested in sex, and made it quite clear. Komaru could almost feel the desire on Setsuya's behalf, but the other man was trying his best to cover it up.

They chattered all the way to Setsuya's favourite noodle house, Setsuya happily pointing out different places to Komaru and telling him stories about them. He really was a fun, entertaining person. By the time they had gotten a table and ordered, Komaru could feel himself opening up to his date. He was talking more freely than he ever had, and found himself able to forget all his troubles for awhile.

Their bowls of suki-yaki arrived. Setsuya loved suki-yaki, and his bowl was almost empty within seconds. Komaru, he noticed, hardly ate anything, just picking at his food. He seemed cheerful enough...

Komaru-kun? Aren't you hungry?

The singer shrugged. I don't eat much, he said quietly, laying his chopsticks down and pushing his bowl away. For a split second, a troubled look passed over his face; but the next moment, he was smiling again. Hey, is that the theater you were telling me about?

The diversion worked. Setsuya glanced out the window where Komaru was pointing, and giggled, swiping a chunk of beef from Komaru's barely-touched bowl. Yes! That's it - see, my friends and I went to go see the X' movie there... and there was this stupid kid in the lobby...

They had lingered at the noodle house for awhile, until they had noticed the waiter eyeing them with unconcealed impatience. After hastily paying the check, the pair had decided to go for a walk in the park, then sat on a brick wall to watch the sunset. The sky was turning a hazy orangey colour.

Setsuya sighed happily and rested his head on the other man's shoulder. Komaru didn't flinch or pull away as Setsuya had been afraid he would; instead, he slipped an arm around Setsuya's slender waist.

Isn't it lovely? Komaru murmured softly. I love watching the sun set... or rise. Sometimes I like to go to bed late, just so I can stay up and sit on the hood of my tour bus and watch the sun come up. It's so quiet... and peaceful. He didn't mention that the tranquility of those early-morning vigils, combined with the pleasant haze of whatever alcohol he had consumed after his shows, dulled the painful memories of his childhood.

We have huge windows in our living room that face the west, Setsuya said. To Komaru's amusement, he sounded a little drowsy. My mother and I like to watch the sun set. But she's not home a lot, so it's just me and the cat. I love the colours, though.

Komaru noted the hint of loneliness that had entered Setsuya's voice when he mentioned his mother. Is your mother always gone?

She goes on a lot of business trips. She makes a lot of money, and I've always been well-taken care of. But a lot of the time I miss her. I wish she could stay home for more than a few days at a time.

What about your father?

He's - he's dead. He died when I was three. Luckily, my mother was working at a good job when he died, and he left plenty of insurance money. Since then, Mom's worked really hard, and been promoted to head of the company. I miss my papa... I can barely remember him. I have a picture of him with me and Mom, from just before he died... but it's not the same.

Komaru took Setsuya's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. He was amazed - this cheerful, upbeat young man was just as lonely as Komaru himself felt. He glanced down at the blue crystal resting against Setsuya's shirt, sparkling in the golden light. Once more, he wondered if he had sensed Setsuya might be the one for him...

It's getting late, he said softly. By now the sky was turning red, and in the east it was becoming steadily purple.

You're right... I should be getting home, Setsuya said softly. Both men stood, Komaru putting his hands in the small of his back to stretch, while Setsuya brushed cement chips from the seat of his jeans.

He looked up. Komaru was smiling at him, his green eyes sparkling.

What is it?

Would you mind if I did something?

Komaru pressed his lips to Setsuya's, at the same time putting his arms around the smaller man and pulling him into a warm embrace. Setsuya's eyes widened, but he didn't pull away. Closing his eyes, he slowly put his arms around Komaru's neck and kissed back. It was beautiful, a sweet, warm feeling. He wished it could be like this forever... that he could just stay in Komaru's arms and kiss him until the world ended...

But even the best kisses have to end. Komaru smiled down at Setsuya, brushing strawberry bangs away from kohl-lined eyes with a gentle hand. Did you mind?

Not at all, Setsuya murmured. You can do that any time you like.

Do you want to come up? Setsuya asked once he and Komaru reached Setsuya's apartment building.

The brunette shook his head. No, thanks. I like you a lot and all- he saw the look of sudden fear on Setsuya's face and cursed himself mentally for his wording - But I don't quite know how you affect me yet. He chuckled a little. I don't want to do something we might regret later.

Setsuya relaxed visibly, and smiled. I guess you're right. Well, then... He stood on his tiptoes to brush a kiss across Komaru's lips. Thank you, Komaru-kun. I had a wonderful time.

Me too... more than you can imagine. He kissed back. Don't go hooking up with any other pop stars, because I want to see you again, you hear me?

Setsuya replied, blushing. Good night, Komaru-kun.

Good night, Setsuya.

The redhead turned and hurried inside. Komaru watched him through the glass doors of the lobby until Setsuya waved at him and stepped into the lift. He waved back, then stepped up to the curb to hail a taxi. The whole ride home, he smoked a cigarette and smiled to himself, feeling content and peaceful for the first time in a very long time.

~Next morning, 8:00 a.~

Girls all over Japan were devastated; completely, utterly heartbroken.

The latest issue of Gossip' magazine had just come out - complete with an eight-page section featuring pictures of Mizoguchi Komaru, dark and mysterious teen idol, eating at a restaurant and walking in a park.

But that wasn't all. With him was a boy in his late teens, with long hair and a sweet smile. The pictures depicted them holding hands and sharing food. The unidentified young man was wearing the blue crystal necklace that Komaru had, until then, been known to never take off. But the most damning spot of evidence was the picture on the last page, showing the two men standing in the park, kissing.

Setsuya-kun... is it true?


The young man in question sighed and rested his forehead on his folded arms. All day long, it had been nothing but questions and people whispering behind hands. People had been glancing from him to magazine pages and back; nudging each other in hallways and pointing him out; coming up to him and asking him breathlessly if it was true.

he asked aggressively, refusing to raise his head.

Fingers pinched his ear and pulled his head up from the desk. He was facing Mitsuharu, who looked livid.

I could kill you! she hissed, thrusting a magazine into his hands. I told you to call me last night - as soon as you got home - and tell me everything! Why didn't you?! I had to come in late today - dentist's - and I was attacked by a pack of underclassmen asking me if it was true you and Komaru-kun had sex in a restaurant last night!

That's not true! Setsuya said crossly, opening the magazine and flipping quickly through the pages. He stopped in surprise, blinked, and blinked again, not sure he was seeing what he was seeing. Eight pages of very clear, near-professional photos, all of them of himself and Komaru during their date. And on the last page... a full-page photo of them kissing in the park.

Are they allowed to print this?! he hissed, shoving the magazine back into Mitsuharu's hands.

I don't know. If there's some legal action involved, Komaru-kun probably took care of it... so the sex thing isn't true?

No! He wouldn't even come up to the penthouse to say good night. He said he didn't know how I affected him, and he didn't want to do something we'd both regret later...

She looked disappointed. That doesn't sound good.

Glancing around (a few students were watching them and whispering), he leaned a little closer to her and muttered, He did say he wanted to see me again.

Good! Then my makeup idea was a success... right?

Ahem! Arakawa! Sanjou! Do you mind?

Both students jumped and looked up. Their teacher was finally there, glaring at them and tapping his desk impatiently with a pen. The rest of the class was staring at them. Setsuya and Mitsuharu exchanged glances, then smiled apologetically. Gomen nasai, sensei...

Nagai Shukuko laid down her magazine and smiled. She stood and whistled; her puppy Yuuji came trotting obediently to her side. Sliding open the door, Shukuko stepped into the yard of her dojo. Several dogs came bounding up to her; she petted them all and tossed treats to them before heading towards the kennels to let the other dogs out for exercise. Yuuji followed her, wagging his plumy tail. Shukuko looked down at him, a sad smile playing across her lips.

If that magazine is right, Komaru-kun's finally found someone. she told her dog, unbolting the kennel door. I hope they're right. Komaru-kun's been so unhappy...

Yuuji barked.

I know, I know. I should visit him, but I hate going to Tokyo... She shuddered at the thought of the crowded streets, the noise, the busy traffic. Someday, I promise. She pulled open the door and the rest of her dogs bounded out into the sunshine, barking merrily. Shukuko scooped Yuuji out of their way and cuddled him against the front of her kimono, touching her nose to his. It's not that I don't want to see him... I'd like to talk to him, see how he's getting along... I suppose he's angry at me, though...

She sighed and released the squirming puppy. I just want him to be happy...

To Be Continued...

The Making Of - Arakawa Setsuya

Setsuya is your typical, wide eyed uke; cute, sweet, feminine. Based on every soft-spoken guy the world of anime has ever offered. When I created him, I stuck to my favourite design of a long-haired male, and coloured his hair the very first pencil I grabbed - it said mahogany', but it was more of a reddish/pinky colour. Pink eyes and some flashy, tight clothes completed the look. Originally, Setsuya was supposed to be my main character (a pop star in training), but I switched the storyline around a little and Komaru got the starring role.
As for his character... Setsuya's a loyal, steadfast person. He's had a crush on Komaru for a very long time, the usual kind of crush that any fan has for their most-loved performer. His meeting with Komaru goes better than he could have hoped, and he gets the man he's wanted. A little not-so-realistic, but hey, people can dream. Like me, Setsuya has a near-crippling addiction to chocolate.