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Two Steps Forward...

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Differing moods were what determined the frequency of Yoshikuni's thoughts; on a good day, there even lay the possibility that he would not consider Takumu at all, which made it a good day indeed. On the usual days, perhaps once or twice, in passing. Sometimes, one of those occasions would snag, and a usual day would turn into a bad day, or a worse day.

Days at work were rarely quiet, which was how Yoshikuni preferred it. Sometimes, however, connections would be missed and setbacks would occur and he would find himself pacing meeting rooms, waiting for the other party to arrive. If it were a matter of minutes then that was nothing in particular, but those longer delays invited untoward thoughts with disturbing regularity. He would take up the head chair and slump back against it, a keen ear always listening out for potential arrivals. Once they arrived it would be all dry statistics and figures, but until then--... until then...

I live as something that was broken by you.

He hated that thought, but felt that he could not escape it, and so embraced it. Those thoughts increased, like an infection. Once the others arrived they would be tending to business and duty, which was (after all) what respectable adults were supposed to do with their time. Until then, he wondered if he could afford himself a little selfishness, a little childishness. Closing his eyes and thinking of lost love, what sort of a way was that for someone of his age and status to be doing? He had risen, as they had all expected him to. This was only a continuation of that constant progression - he would get into the best schools, keep scoring the best marks, get into the best university... and so on and so forth. No place in those plans allowed space for weakness, and so the fact that such weakness existed to begin with made him feel weaker still.

They don't know how broken I am.

These feelings would pervade from the meeting rooms through to the corridors, to the streets outside and the transport home. Sometimes it felt so obvious as to be debilitating; he took a taxi to work because he could afford it, but also because the pressure of public transportation was simply too much. Standing on the tube, thinking - and fearing - how visible those weaknesses should be. Didn't they see? Those people, all around him. That man, with his paper. That woman with her shopping. That child, over there. Couldn't they see? He melted into the day-to-day bustle, he knew that, but he still found it sometimes unbearable. The light ribbing he sometimes got once he arrived ("Too good for the Tube now, huh?") was a light price to pay in comparison.

Some days, it all felt distant and, almost, unimportant. Those things that happened so long ago, what bearing did they have on the here and the now...? Somewhere elsewhere in the world, Kirihara Takumu was going about his daily life, his daily business. That in no way collided with Yoshikuni's own way of life, and why would it? Back then, their paths had crossed. Crossed, and harshly so. But that was so long ago now, and so far away; all that remained was the memory, and what was that to the importance of daily life...? Sometimes he felt strong and he felt free, we are nothing to do with one another anymore. Why should this affect me...? This doesn't affect me--!

(It did, though.)

Those days brought glimmers of life and hope, of freedom and escape. The sky would be blue and the sun would be strong, and those events of all those years ago lay as barely anything beneath the weight of the present moment. Yoshikuni would think it, and believe it. Why should that sort of thing affect him? Why should it, indeed?

This thought was similar to those darker days. The sun would still shine, but Yoshikuni lay indifferent to it. Because all of these things still happened - the sun still shone, the sky was still blue, the world still turned and he still thought of Takumu. This didn't seem fair. Those events of long ago were so long ago to be long ago, but their weight still pressed down and into him. Off-handed comments and thoughtless actions still carried through to the present day, and Yoshikuni felt bound and trapped by them. It felt horribly unfair, to be so pinned by the words of another, but what was he supposed to do? He couldn't forget them, he couldn't ignore them, and there had been nothing since to prove those words false or untrue... Takumu's truth still remained as the strongest truth Yoshikuni had known, and that was a heavy burden.

If there could be somebody more--

If there could be somebody--

To Yoshikuni, it felt as if those interactions with Takumu had sliced and shredded every hope of normalcy he'd ever possessed. If there were to be somebody more, somebody now, somebody different, they would still fall under that header of not him. Yoshikuni felt as if he would always lie tainted; there would never be a time, between now and any point in the future, at which he had not been hurt. That lay as objective fact, and there seemed to be no way in which to escape that. No matter who he met or formed a connection with, there would always be that blemish in the past, that shaping experience, there would always be that. And did it require explanation? Would those who lay in potential need to know so much, in order to understand? Did anybody else have the need or the right to know that, back then, at school, there had been this other boy...

In the late-night gatherings, drunken talk always almost inevitably fell towards matters of women and relationships. Yoshikuni would nurse his single drink and listen in, quietly despairing on how easily these words came to the lips of others. Everybody else always has something to talk about. They had girlfriends, wives, children, families. Yoshikuni was still as young for it to be understandable that these things weren't yet in his grasp but again, it was one of those expectations. From his family to those on his payroll, they just kept making these assumptions. Yoshikuni knew they didn't realise their own invasive words, but felt weary for it all the same. It was fine for now, but give it a few years and it would start to become a curiosity - you've not got a girlfriend yet? No plans to get married, huh? Oh come on, you must be hiding someone back there...!

They were all terribly public about their private lives, and Yoshikuni wondered if he even possessed such a thing. There were at least things he would not tell them, but that was something else entirely. This gossipy sort of 'private life', on the other hand... he couldn't help but feel as if he were terribly boring, to the others. They always asked the same questions and he always gave the same answers. He could not see this situation changing any time in the immediate future. And on the social nights, they would turn to him and smile, "you must have some stories to tell--!"

"Oh, I really don't." A smile, to throw them off the scent. He had the experiences, but not the will to voice them. Did these people need to know? What was there that these people needed to know of Seirei Gakuen and its Student Council, that Student Council that had existed and flourished - and withered - under his rule, or his reign, or his outright tyranny. He acknowledged it as much, now. There were some tales he could tell, but he refused. He knew what sort of a person he seemed to those normal people, he had no real desire to warp their perceptions so cruelly. He was that quiet, earnest sort of person. Did his job well. Perhaps took things - and himself - too seriously. Had been to a good university. Always got top marks. Always rose to the top of things, be they companies and businesses or the complications of academic networking. Of course he'd been the head of the Student Council. Of course he had.

(The emotional backbone to those facts needed no reporting.)

Some days he felt like he should contact Takumu, somehow. Other days, he definitely didn't. On all days, he knew that as the terrible idea it was, but couldn't help but feel some attraction to it all the same. He got as far as jotting down notes, sometimes, outlining points and highlighting what he thought was important. But none of this would be important to him, would it? Such a letter would, perhaps quite rightly, earn only open disdain. Takumu didn't need to know the reasons and justifications, the ongoing difficulties, didn't need to know anything about this as it was. He'd done enough.

Not every day was like that, but those that did brought concern. Some days, Yoshikuni felt thankful for Takumu's past presence in his life, despite everything. On others, he felt as if his life would be infinitely better were they never to have met in the first place; the impossibility of such a thought did not stop him from desiring it so dearly on those particular days. If it had not been Takumu then perhaps it would only have been somebody else, but perhaps that chance was a theoretical risk worth taking. Theoretically.

Some days, essentially, were better than others. Those worse days ignored the better ones, and those better ones rose above the worst ones, even if only temporarily. The worst thing was perhaps that Yoshikuni saw no resolution for this; making contact with Takumu was by no means advisable, though the current habit of completely avoiding him didn't seem to be drawing him to any positive conclusion, either. Really though, Yoshikuni would think, it's just none of your business.

It just isn't.

Sometimes, Yoshikuni's phone would buzz with the herald of a new message brought. This was not an uncommon occurrence, but when he was in the middle of a meeting and looked down to the display and saw that number and that name, he would stare and pause for a moment longer than he might have done otherwise. And he'd smile and make his excuses, saying that this was urgent, that he just had to take this call--

If Makoto still felt he had the need for contact, it was the least Yoshikuni could do to disturb a meeting for his sake. Each message and each communication brought the same sentiment, why are you still doing this? At the same time, Yoshikuni would never have prevented him. Makoto had, Yoshikuni supposed, his own thoughts and reasons. He didn't like to make a habit of prying into the business of others, and so let it be.

Perhaps you're the same as me, Yoshikuni would wonder.

Perhaps we're the same.

Little justification lay there, but time still marched on. (He would thumb out a quick response in reply, to prelude some proper means of communication forthcoming.) It had been so long now, surely it would only be a shame to set all that aside...?

He'd press send. He'd wonder if Ichii would think of it in the same way.

He'd smile.