Chapter 26:


Purple Prose

Sunlight gleamed over his window, the golden rays creeping from his floor, to the couch, then onto his bed. Issei knew the day was coming, but he didn’t want it to begin. To begin the day meant ending the night, and ending the night meant Murasaki had to leave, to expose his body to loneliness again.

So Issei kept his eyes shut. That way, he can get as much night as he can before surrendering himself to the day.

He felt a finger poke his cheek. “Issei…” A woman’s silky voice massaged his ear. Nope. Not gonna open my eyes. Her warm hand smoothed his cheek, traveling up to his forehead before brushing his bangs. I must not open my eyes.

Then a pair of lips wrapped around his, and Issei snorted awake with a rush of tender feelings. His eyes opened, and the first thing he saw was Murasaki’s wide blue eyes blinking back at him.

She smiled sweetly. “Good morning, Issei.”

“Good morning…”

The good morning over text was nice, but a good morning with your arms around the woman you like was far superior.

Murasaki still lay against him under the sheets, her body snuggling up to his as she lightly scratched the back of his head with her fingernails. It was ticklish.

For some reason, Murasaki chuckled. “Just like a fable–except the prince is the one who needed a kiss to wake up.”

Issei yawned. “I must have been out like a light. Sorry if I smelled last night; I forgot to take a bath after you.”

“It’s okay, you actually didn’t smell at all! I fell asleep like a baby, too. I can’t remember the last time I slept this well. Thankfully my alarm went off, else we both would have been late for work!”

Work. That’s what Murasaki called it, but could they really call their dream job work? Now that he was awake, Issei was raring to go–to finally start his real first day of being a professional musician.

Issei rose from his bed, taking Murasaki with her.


She clung to his neck as he stood, her feet dangling until Issei pulled her legs up with one arm, the other holding her back in a princess carry.

“Wow.” Murasaki traced his chest with a finger, and she seemed to stare longingly into it. “I guess having a fit boyfriend has its benefits.”

“Oh no.”

Issei’s heart sank.

“What’s wrong?”

“What time is it?”

She craned her head towards the bed. “Last I checked, it was 8:50.”

He sighed. “I need to go to the gym today, but if I do, I’ll be late for work.”

Murasaki patted his shoulder, and Issei let her down, her arms sliding over him. “How come you have to go to the gym every day? Isn’t that unhealthy?”

Issei shook his head and frowned. “It’s what I promised my brother. I promised I’d get strong for him.”

“Well, why not take a day off? Or work out at night?”

“Nah, it’s too crowded at night, and people always accost me.”

He sighed. “I just feel so guilty if I miss a day. I feel like I’m dishonoring him if I go back on my promise…then I get these awful thoughts of that day in my head, and suddenly I’m back in high school with all the kids calling me weak, that woman from back then calling me unreliable–I can’t go back to that time in my life.”

Murasaki leaned in and caressed him, kneading the back of his shoulders. “That time’s long gone, you know that. You can’t keep reliving those horrible memories–they’re not who you are. Teenagers are mean, and they gossip too much. I had to endure those same thoughtless attacks–kids in middle school telling me I’m too childish, high school kids telling me I’m too dull, girls claiming the boys won’t like me because I don’t have big enough boobs–it’s all just to snuff out your fire, because they know yours burns brighter than theirs.”

She let go, then cracked her knuckles with a grin. “I’d like to give that woman a piece of my mind, because she doesn’t know you like I do!”

Issei felt the lump in his throat disappear. "And they don't know you like I do. You're amazing."

Murasaki squeezed tighter in response with a light, airy chuckle.

With a resolute nod, Issei smiled and said “alright…I’ll skip a day.”

He thought Murasaki would be glad at the idea, but her lower lip sagged as she stared into his eyes. 

“Is that how Tsukasa died? Did a tree fall on him?”

She had figured it out, and had even remembered his fear. Murasaki was too good for him.

Issei sniffed. “...Yes.”

Murasaki decided to cook breakfast since Issei had cooked dinner last night, and the enticing smell of bacon, butter, and sugar filled his apartment. He leaned back on the couch, watching the aftermath of the storm featured on TV, as well as Murasaki performing her magic. Even she had school troubles. How could anyone find flaws with her? Issei was drawn to her spirit, her bright, beautiful face.

Then, in that moment–whether it was brought on by her story, or them sleeping together–he noticed her figure. Issei looked away, but he kept stealing glances. Ironically, it was the night that protected him from those tempting thoughts, because the light in his apartment made him realize Murasaki’s pajamas were snug, nearly-form-fitting. Even if he was her boyfriend, he shouldn’t be looking at her with such eyes.

A fork clattered to the floor.


Rather than squat down to pick it up, however, Murasaki bent over.


“What’s the matter?” She asked as she stood up. “Why is your face red?”

Dammit, Issei! You took too long to look away!

He rubbed his head vigorously in shame. “Nothing.”

She squinted. “Alright, if you say so, Mister.”

They sat next to each other on the couch, Issei ignoring his plate as he watched Murasaki happily eating her bacon and crepes. Her eyes shot towards his, forcing him to look away until she went back to her breakfast.

“Are you going to eat the food I made for you? You need that energy to start your day.”


He reached for his bacon and began to eat–then Issei saw Murasaki stealing a glance as well. When Issei returned, she flicked back to her plate.

The fuzzy feeling couldn’t go away, nor did Issei want it to: he was living a dream, a dream he desperately wanted to never end. Being with Murasaki healed him. Before, Issei had this sickening, sludge-like thought glued to his mind that he didn’t deserve her, that Murasaki was too good for him, but as he realized Murasaki wanted him back–perhaps even that she enjoyed spending time with him–her warm feelings reached him, and the darkness still enveloping him was peeling back layer by layer.

“Do you want to go out on our second date next Sunday?”

Murasaki leaned against his shoulder and gazed into him from below. “I’d love to.”

The awkwardness melted away in an instant.

Once they finished and got dressed, his composure returned. Issei grabbed his acoustic guitar off the wall, and Murasaki, wearing the clothes she came with, walked with him to the train station where they had to part ways. Her stop was waiting for her, but she turned to face him with a sad frown as though she didn’t want to get on.

The wind swept her hair to the side and disturbed her pea coat. “I’ll keep texting you, okay? More than usual.”

“Come on,” Issei said, chuckling, “you’re talking as if this is goodbye. We’ll see each other next week.”

She looked up at him. “I know. But we have to do image and video chats too! Otherwise…I might start missing you.”

“Don’t worry, we will.”

Because he would miss her too.

Murasaki held his face and kissed him before she ran to the train, then she waved goodbye just before the doors closed. It may be the last time Issei would physically see her before Sunday, and his heart swelled with tender feelings as he watched her train take off. 

Her words at that moment cemented in Issei an ever-enriching desire, and the knowledge that Murasaki did in fact want him–she loved spending time with him–had flipped a switch in Issei's mind.

No doubt remained. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.