Jun, who was working on a design set on his staging area at the back of the studio, groaned when he heard that familiar voice calling his name like the man was one of his close friends. He continued working. Maybe if he ignored him he would just go away.
“Jun, I think Ohno-san is here looking for you,” Masaki whispered. Jun gave him a look and Masaki clucked his tongue at him. By then, it was too late. Satoshi had figured out they were working in the back. No one else was in the studio.
“Hey, what’s up?” Satoshi greeted enthusiastically. Toma waved to the other two as he followed behind Satoshi.
Jun narrowed his eyes at him. “What do you want, Ohno-san?”
The man grinned. “I have a proposal for you. I promise, it’s a win-win situation.”
“I bet,” Jun muttered sarcastically under his breath. He looked at him drolly, but the man didn’t seem fazed. He smiled instead.
“The editor-in-chief of Lifestyle Design Asia had asked me to feature you in their magazine,” Satoshi said, taking a seat on the sofa that was part of the design. He casually leaned back and propped an ankle on his knee. Jun sighed and crossed his arms. “Anyway, he wants me to take photos of you, and your designs.”
“Why can’t you just use those other photos you had taken before.” Jun clicked his tongue, and glared at Toma, who sat on the armchair and was about to prop his feet on the coffee table. Toma sheepishly grinned and planted his feet on the floor instead.
“He wanted me to feature something else about you. He wants to see what you would design for your own home.” Satoshi looked up at the railings that lead to the loft apartment. “Do you think I can take photos of your apartment?”
Jun scoffed. “Excuse me, but one, you can’t go to my apartment, ever. Two, there is no way you can take photos of my tiny apartment, and three, what makes you think I’ll be staying upstairs for the rest of my life? I’m going to move to Setegaya and buy a house so I can decorate it properly with my dream design.”
“Any chance of that happening in the next month?” Satoshi smiled hopefully at him. “He really wants this within the next couple of of issues.”
“No. I will not be designing my own home until I can find THE ONE I could spend my life with.”
“Oh, c’mon, please. Just your living room and kitchen is fine.” Satoshi jutted out his lower lip at him. Impatient, Jun grabbed him by the arm and pulled him up, ignoring the surprised that jolted in his mind how muscular Satoshi’s arm actually was. Under that nerdy get-up of a button-down shirt over a t-shirt and cargo pants and Chucks, the man looked more teenager than a thirty-something year old. A creeping blush tingled his cheeks and to cover it up, he dragged Satoshi off the set platform, through the studio past his current showroom design, and out the door.
“I said no, Ohno.” He swiped his hands together as if cleaning off the dirt on his hands and walked back in. Toma nodded his goodbye and hurried after his boss. Jun ordered Masaki to close the door. He hoped that was the last time he’d ever see that man again… if he could help it.
“Hi, Matsumoto, it’s me, Ohno-”
Jun hung up on him the instant he heard his name. It had been only 6 hours, yet the man was calling him again for something he wouldn’t do. What part of “until I can find the One” did he not understand? To Jun, showing his dream design of his future home was similar to that of being intimate with another. There was no way in hell he would expose himself that openly to the whole nation, and to the whole continent of Asia. Satoshi had better respect that. A rap on the window of his studio alerted him. He looked up from his work on the front window display and saw the very man waving to him, then folded his hands and mouthed, “Please do it.” Satoshi pointed to his phone and dialed. A moment later, Jun‘s phone rang. Exasperating a puff of air, Jun swiped to accept the call.
“What now?” Jun glared at him through the glass.
“Matsumoto, I can help you." Satoshi waved his hand. Jun tried to look bored and uninterested, but curiosity got the best of him. “Let me in, and I can tell you my plan.”
“You can just stay out there and tell me through the phone.”
“Fine. I can help you hook up with guys.”
Just as Satoshi said that, a couple of older ladies with shopping bags walked by, staring at him with a frown and wary eyes. They whispered to each other, then pointing and looking back at him. Satoshi cringed, his cheeks turning slightly pink. Jun stifled a laugh, then quickly pushed down a smile trying to erupt across his face.
“‘Hook me up with guys’? Are you kidding me? What do you take me for?”
“No, wait don’t hang up.” Jun paused over the red “End” button at Satoshi’s words, then stared out at him.
“Please, Matsumoto-san.” Satoshi’s voice came softly through the phone. “I need this shot at getting my photos on Life Design Asia, and it’ll also boost your name. If what it takes is for you to say yes is to get a man you want to spend your life with, then I can help you find that guy.”
“What makes you think I can’t find a man on my own?” Jun stuck his tongue at him.
“If it was that easy for you, we wouldn’t be having this conversation now, would we?” Satoshi raised an eyebrow at him, smirking. Jun wished he let the man in so that he could strangle him in private, instead of not having to go out there and be witnessed by other people.
“And if I let you help me find that man? Will you promise to stop bugging me and stop taking awkward pictures of me?”
“I promise you, with all of my heart and soul, that you can trust me on that.”
Jun locked eyes with him. The man looked sincere and determined. Slowly, Jun nodded his head. Somehow, the man looked trustworthy. He hoped he wasn’t making a big mistake.
“So, who is Matsumoto Jun?” Satoshi clicked the shutter button while Jun leaned on the tree. “How did you become a designer?”
Jun pushed himself up from the tree and walked to Satoshi. They had decided to come to the nearby park because Jun had suggested he needed a change of scenery after being inside the studio for hours. Satoshi obliged. He’d agree to anything Jun was saying since the man had finally broken down and agreed to his matchmaking offer. Besides, the sun was getting lower in the horizon, the lighting perfect for photographs. The better photos he takes of Jun, the better his chances of finding some suckers, er, suitors for the man.
“I always been creative in lots of things, but designing seemed to be my calling.” Jun smiled, a far-away look in his eyes. “I remember one time when I was 13, I rearranged the furniture in the living room. My mom was furious of the arrangement, but I thought it was better than what she had done. I got punished, of course, but I refused to change it. And she was too busy to put it back.” Jun walked to the swings and sat down, Satoshi kept standing and clicked away. “Anyway, in the end, a friend of hers came by to visit and gushed over the living room layout and hired me to decorate hers. I never looked back since.” Jun chuckled. His melodic laugh pulled on Satoshi’s heart that he couldn’t help but laugh with him.
“That’s a great story. Your first client.”
“Yup.” Jun nodded. “That same lady seduced me when I was 18 and I lost my virginity to her.” He grinned at Satoshi, who gaped at him behind the camera.
“But, but, I thought-”
Jun laughed harder. “One man doesn’t simply fuck another man on his first time.” He enclosed his fingers, imitating the infamous meme from Lord of the Rings. Satoshi blushed. Indeed, he had lost his virginity to another boy in college. He bit his lip and looked away. “Oops,” Jun said. “I’m not judging you or anything. I’m just saying. Props to you if you had.”
An awkward silence loomed between them for a moment. Except for the sounds of cars in the distance and kids at the baseball field practicing, it was relatively still. Satoshi sat on the swing beside Jun, each man in his own thoughts.
Jun wanted to sit at the picnic table under the tree a few minutes later. They made their way, and sat on the table. The sun had finally set in the horizon, and the park was illuminated by streetlights along a trail that snaked its way around the park.
“So, how are your parents?” Satoshi asked, then started taking more pictures of Jun.
“They’re fine. Still happily married. My dad is sweet to my mom.” Jun smiled wistfully. “That’s why I wanted to find someone who would treat me the same way. Who loves me for me and not because I’m semi-popular in my career.” He turned to Satoshi. “How about yours?”
Satoshi scoffed. “My parents are divorced. Dad cheated on my mom, yet she tried to stay with him.” Satoshi shook his head. “The bastard kept breaking her heart until she had a nervous-breakdown. It was a wake-up call for her. She divorced him after she got better.” Satoshi’s chest clenched in anger. He hated his dad for what he had done to his mom. “True love, my ass,” he muttered more to himself now than to Jun.
“Wow, so negative, Satoshi-san,” Jun said, stretching his arms up and folding them behind his head and laid down on the table, propping a knee up.
Satoshi rolled his eyes. “Maybe so, but how practical is it? My mom didn’t want to leave him because she ‘loves’ him. Her love didn’t make him stay faithful, did it? I’m sorry, Matsumoto-san, but love is for chumps-” His voice trailed when he turned around to find Jun with his eyes closed, apparently asleep through his rant.
Thinking it would be funny to get sleeping pictures of him, Satoshi looked through the viewfinder for something he could tease Jun with later. He zoomed in to his face, looking at each features: eyes, nose, lips. Instead, his mouth slackened, enthralled by how ethereal the man was even in low lighting. His eyelashes formed dark curves against his creamy white skin. His nose was straight, and his lips looked pillowy-even the mole under his lower lip added to the beauty.
Satoshi quickly lowered his camera and whipped around. His heart was beating too fast. What the hell? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This was Matsumoto Jun- the most high maintenance man in Tokyo. “Get a grip, idiot,” Satoshi muttered again. Annoyed at the man who brought unwanted feelings, he pushed off Jun’s leg from the table, waking him up.
“Hey, what the hell?” Jun growled, sitting up and glaring at him. Satoshi sighed. Even when angry, Jun clenching his jaw made his bone structures more prominent, which made him even more good-looking.
“What are you, drunk? Don’t sleep just anywhere. I have to go home.”
“Fine.” Jun jumped to his feet and walked away, Satoshi trailing slowly behind him, but it was just as well with him. the last thing he needed was someone seeing them and thinking they were on a date. Ugh. The horror.
As soon as he got home, Satoshi took out his yearbooks from college. Jun had said earlier that he had tried those online dating sites, but he could never find the right guy. Satoshi had assured him he would try to find guys he knew or knew through friends, thus, the yearbooks. Though he didn’t know a lot of gay men back then, he knew some who might be willing to date Jun. One by one, he noted the men’s names and searched for them via the internet. After two hours of doing all that, he only came up with two potentials- one with a theater background and another in business.
“You can’t find ‘the one’ with just two people,” Satoshi muttered to himself. He looked through his contacts list on his phone. The idea of sharing some past men he had been with one way or another felt a bit awkward, but he had to get over that if he wanted his opportunity with LDA. Scrolling through the phone, a name caught his eye. Satoshi hesitated, staring at the name. The man in question had been a good friend from college. They had never really hooked up, and it was fine. Their relationship was more mutual friendship than lovers. The man was a year behind him, but had always been popular among senior and junior students alike. Satoshi only had talked to him once in a while after he had graduated from the university. It might be awkward hooking him up with someone when Satoshi hadn’t even talked to him for a while.
“Well, the worst he could say was no, right?” Not giving himself a second to think about it, he pressed the call button.
Follow the link for part 3