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What is love?

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He was looking at the immense and blue sea, feeling the sand through his boots and breathing the warm air of that sunny morning as he glanced at some root a few meters from himself. It was so strange to think that the whole earth was his, because although he could feel and be present in every corner of the world, he felt as he didn’t even know where he was standing.

 

And how could he know and understand such places if he couldn't even understand his own mind?

 

As he listened to the seagulls flutter by his side, Fushi found himself thinking, frustrated, since that epiphany; What differentiated knockers from humans? Love. But Fushi wasn’t capable of feeling love, yet he wasn’t a knocker. So what was him? Some had called him God and others demon, but even though he is more than eight hundred years old, those concepts were always very confusing for him, he never decided to think about them very deeply. Fushi wasn’t a great lover of existentialism, he simply wanted to be able to experience that feeling that seemed so, so fundamental to the human race, perhaps after experiencing it he could differentiate those who feel it and those who don’t, and be able to end that threat after all. He wanted to believe he was different from the knockers.

 

But what was love? He was always told that love was based on couples kissing and marrying, but Fushi didn’t want to do any of those things with anyone, and even if he did, he wasn’t sure if he could bear the death of that person because that kind of Love was much stronger and much more painful than the love he felt for his friends, people and books have always told him that love is so, so deep, he couldn’t even imagine it, and he didn't even want to remember what happened after Pyoran's death, how that meaningless form of love affected him so much, so deeply, for so long.

 

Maybe that's why he was there at that place, maybe remembering his life at sea would bring him some kind of comfort, remembering when life was so simple and how he felt almost unconscious, he had definitely considered more than once simply giving up and throwing himself into the sea turning into a starfish for all eternity, though he couldn't do it now, he couldn't have brought his friends to just abandon them again.

 

Fushi sighed.

 

He thought of all the people he loved but didn’t love, or at least not in that way so unfamiliar to him. That’s what always leaded him to ask; What makes someone want to get married? Why would someone want to kiss another person? Why would anyone want to risk experiencing something so profound, knowing how risky it was? Well, Fushi had read love novels centuries before, but almost none of them ended well. There was always a tragedy, someone always died, someone always ended up hurt. So who in their right mind would choose to love?

 

Right now he felt estranged from his humanity, something that came so natural for humans took centuries for him to simply understand.

 

He began to think about March, and how he loved her and wanted to protect, about Gugu, and how he adored those meals he prepared, about Eko, someone that Fushi could help grow, about Tonari, about Pyoran, about Bon... He even thought about Mizuha, that girl with slanted eyes who reminded him so much of her predecessor.

 

He felt the sea touch his boots once more and he looked down at his feet only to see a small fish that was apparently lost, out of the sea. Fushi loved those things too, fleeting moments that brought him so much peace and somehow made him feel so grounded, that made him feel connected to the earth and their creatures.

 

He took the fish in his hands and threw it into the sea as far as he could.

 

He should experience love, he should understand love.

 


 

Now he was in that cozy home he shared with the people he loved, sitting and staring at the table, his gaze immovable, he didn’t even dare to see Tonari who with a worried tone and with a magazine in hand addressed his friend.

 

"Hey Fushi, what's wrong? Are you bored?"

 

"I was just thinking…" He said as he rested his cheek on the table sighing in the process.

 

"…Something in particular?" She sat across from him in the empty room, who knows where the others would be, Fushi wasn't worried.

 

However, he didn’t know what to say, it wasn’t difficult for him to be honest, much less with his friends, but he really didn’t know how to explain what was tormenting him.

 

"What is love?" He finally asked as his eyes were stuck on the wall and his face on the table, he felt Tonari frown.

 

"Love? The meaning of love? "

 

"I don't think I know how it feels."

 

Tonari laughed as she settled into her seat "Why are you having existential questions? What’s gotten into you?"

 

Fushi didn’t want to answer, instead he just waited for an answer as he watched the room fill with orange light, reflecting on the television screen and watching through the window as the sun threatened to leave.

 

However, the girl was thinking, perhaps pondering Fushi's consultation.

 

"How do you not know how it feels?" Her tone indicated true curiosity, so he deigned to turn his face, leaning his chin on the table to look at her. "Fushi, you literally brought us from death to be able to live with you, if that's not love then I don't know what it is"

 

He felt a smile creep up his face, he really loved his friends, but it wasn't the kind of love he wanted to know about.

 

"I mean the kind of love that makes you want to marry someone, I don't understand it."

 

His friend's face was now curved in surprise, but again she devoted herself to pondering his question with the same concentration. "I don't think I have the answer you want, Fushi" The boy looked at her puzzled.

 

"You haven’t experienced that kind of love either?"      

 

"No, that’s not it. Yes, I have fallen in love, but I can’t explain what exactly was the cause of the feeling... I don't think anyone exactly knows either... When two people love each other they don't want to understand it, they just want to enjoy it."

 

"So you don't know" Fushi sighed as he raised his head, no matter who he asked or how many times, he could never find a satisfactory answer.

 

"You'll know when you feel it." Tonari concluded.

 

"That’s the point! I won't know how to feel it if I don't even understand what it is! " He was a bit exasperated now, but he didn't have the right to be mad at her. "Anyways... have you seen the others?”

 

She didn’t seem to want to change the subject so abruptly, it was strange to see Fushi so passionate about something seemingly harmless, so she wanted to know the origin of such concern.

 

"Is it because of Mizuha?"

 

"Huh?"

 

"Do you want to know what love is because of her?"

 

Now Fushi was confused "What does she have to do with anything?"

 

Her friend looked disappointed, as if Fushi failed to understand something extremely obvious. "Well... it's clear that all this girl does is bring you trouble"

 

"Don't talk about her like that! You know that it’s unfair to judge her by her ancestors, she didn’t choose the circumstances of her birth! "

 

"The whole Yanome family, all they do is bring you trouble, or should I remind you how a certain someone almost killed you 'accidentally'?"

 

He didn’t have very clear memories of whatever happened that time, perhaps it was because of the exhaustion of the moment or because his consciousness returned to that of a sphere, according to what he was told. The last thing he remembers were the strong cannons and the hundreds of explosions that drilled into his head among the hundreds of thousands of knockers that tried to defeat his consciousness that had been infinitely divided, what he remembered was a vague dream with single images; between all of them the slight sensation of a hand on his cheek and then… nothing, not until he woke up with Bon's body in his arms and in his own conscience.

Tonari now seemed to feel guilty after seeing Fushi with such a distressed face and with his gaze looking into space once again, he never said it but everyone assumed that that episode wasn’t the most pleasant thing to remember.

 

"Hey, I'm sorry I didn't mean..."

 

"It’s okay" he interrupted her as he stood up "I just need to think... Thanks for the help"

 

"Fushi..."

 

But he was already gone, from one second to the other his body had already disappeared into thin air and now he was facing water again, only that now he was on a dark and empty bridge, lit by a few lights in an overwhelming silence. As if no one had been there in the last few days, or weeks.

 

He hadn’t thought about it.

 

Fushi never thought about the whereabouts of his new friend's predecessor, he never thought about what happened to him after that accident, how he died, how long he lived, he hadn’t even thought about what the hell had happened on that night.

 

He never knew how to feel about him.

 

Unlike Mizuha, his face was much more like Hayase's, so just looking at him brought him a lot of pain. He also didn't appreciate how strangely threatening he could be at times towards the people he cared about, and he never fully trusted him or his knocker.

 

Yet he refused to believe that he wanted to kill him on purpose.

He remembered those foods made so delicately and so delicious, foods that were intended for him. Made exclusively by that man for him. He remembered how that face so painful to see softened as he took care of Eko with such tender affection, he also remembered the sincere concern he felt after he himself collapsed, he remembered how he protected him, how he cared about him.

 

He remembered what it was like to be loved.

 

Fushi looked down at the water below the bridge and as his reflection greeted him, except this time it wasn’t his own reflection.

 

Below him, he saw Kahaku's face on his own body.

Unconsciously he took his form.

 

Black hair, slanted eyes, and that look greeted him again but now it was like seeing himself. He could appreciate all the blood covering him from head to toe, probably from that last meeting he remembered so vaguely. He glanced at his left arm unconsciously and began to feel excruciating pain, his arm was totally injured, as if he’d tried to cut it completely but failed miserably. As his wound began to heal, he immediately began to wonder if this is how he spent his last moments, if he bled to death, or if he managed to survive and live a long life, if he managed to survive even with only one arm, he wondered if maybe after all, he fell in love again, with someone else.

 

He remembered that strange confession/marriage proposal and how Kahaku's heart ached even weeks after being rejected. Who in their right mind would choose to fall in love and go through that?

 

But as he watched the drops of blood spill over his clothes, he understood that it wasn’t something he had chosen. "Who would choose to fall in love with me?" Fushi thought, who would choose to fall in love with someone unable to reciprocate?

 

But nevertheless…

He wanted to learn what love was.

Why not learn it from the only person that loved him? Who really loved him. Who decided to leave his life after causing so much damage.

 

He pondered that epiphany until he realized that even if he wanted to, he couldn’t bring him back, Bon said that he didn’t see Kahaku's fye as he saw the others, that is, he would be in "another place".

 

But anyways, he felt like he hadn't quite seen him for a last time. That the last memory he had of him shouldn't be the slight feeling of his palm against his face followed by nothingness, so in a quick movement, Fushi separated Kahaku's body while creating the white-haired boy's body, moving his consciousness there. Now on the floor laid the body of that companion he had so, so many years ago, a companion whom he never really said goodbye to. Maybe he should bury him, make sure he had a dignified death and that, maybe his soul could rest in peace, but as he was thinking of some place to bury a body without disconcerting the citizens, he saw how that boy's eyes widened with difficulty, and how seconds later he was looking around totally terrified.

 

The only thing Fushi could do was open his eyes wide and take a few steps back from the figure in front of him; a bloody Kahaku brought back to life, totally bewildered and with a terrified look in his eyes.

After a few seconds, or minutes, in which Kahaku seemed to be reliving the last moments of his past life, they both met each other's eyes, both terrified and confused. Fushi didn't understand, he didn't understand, he didn't understand what had happened... Had Bon lied to him? Did Kahaku also accompany him all this time? That man seemed terrified, unlike his friends after reviving who seemed to understand the whole situation. Kahaku seemed to be 400 years in the past.

 

"...Fu... Fushi." He said in an incredulous whisper, with a furrowed and terrified face and a trembling voice.

 

"...Kahaku." He responded in the same way, without breaking eye contact and trying to process what he had just done.                 

 

Chapter Text

It felt strange, or so Fushi thought, how the playground looked like at night; empty and in almost complete silence. It also felt strange being there without Eko or March, although he really wasn’t alone at the moment.

 

"So… 400 years, Huh...?" He heard his companion say, he was sitting next to him under that small billboard so familiar to Fushi.

 

"Yep" He replied as he took another sip of his drink.

 

"...And you revived me" Although Kahaku's tone didn’t give any indication of doubt, it was obvious that there were still many things going through his mind. Fushi couldn’t blame him though, he wasn’t only in a completely different world from the one he knew once before, many centuries in the future, he also had to carry everything that had happened before.

 

"Yep"

 

"Wow" He didn't seem surprised.

 

"You're taking this better than I would have expected" The white-haired boy continued.

 

"I guess I just don't know how to react"

 

They hadn't talked much. After the initial shock Fushi took him to a place more familiar to him and he simply stared at Kahaku who was apparently trying to decipher all the things around him, from the lanterns to the asphalt. When the blood on Kahaku's clothing began to turn a more brownish color due to oxidation, Fushi decided to talk to him a bit and tell him about the situation, about how he revived his friends and how long ago they were revived, since that man didn’t seem to be able to ask a single question about the situation he was into.

In the distance they could see how the dark night sky slowly turned purple thanks to the sun that threatened to rise. Fushi didn't want to show it, but he still felt slightly uncomfortable at the presence of that black-haired man next to him.

 

"Why did you revive me?" They both avoided each other's gaze, and Kahaku was quieter than Fushi remembered.

 

He pondered the answer, he really didn't know. "I don’t know"

 

"It was an accident?"

 

"Probably" He took another sip of his bubble tea.

 

There was another strange silence, it wasn’t completely uncomfortable since they both didn’t seem to be very aware of their situation, but there was definitely a complicity in which they both felt that there was something wrong.             

 

"I'm sorry," Kahaku said suddenly. "Because of… Because of what happened before…" He looked at his own body and clothes covered in dried blood, his face still dirty from the liquid that was once crimson, he pointed to his bloody body instead of finishing his sentence.

 

"Why did you do it?" Fushi asked genuinely curious.

 

"I… I didn't mean…" His face looked truly pained. "I didn't mean to hurt you... It was... It was the knocker... the... the knocker had already killed the others before so... so it wasn't my fault... It wasn't..." It felt like he was trying to convince himself.

 

Fushi looked at his face bathed in the light of the streetlight, sitting a few meters from him in a pool of blood, he could recognize those eyes so characteristic of his successor but he couldn’t recognize that face so distressed, as if he were silencing thousands of words.

 

"I know." However, he couldn't help but feel a bit upset towards him. Although it wasn’t technically his fault, he was involved in his near-death experience. "Then why did you run away?"

 

"I couldn't face you after that… I couldn't face anyone… after that" He watched as he clenched his fists and closed his eyes in exasperation.

 

"But then you do think it’s your fault"

 

Kahaku didn't reply.

 

They both looked up as they began to see rays of sunlight peeking out, along with a few people who began to appear in the streets staring at the bloody man in terror and amazement.

 

"We should go somewhere else" Fushi said getting up.

 

"Where?"

 


 

Bon's face was simply indescribable. His eyes widened as his mouth opened slightly apparently not being able to form a sentence, with his index finger he was pointing to the man standing awkwardly in the frame of the door.

 

It was already morning, the birds were singing and the slight morning sound of the town waking up could be heard; the sound of the leaves of the trees as a soft wind passed through them, the few cars that also passed from time to time, and the steps of the man approaching Kahaku, who had a doubtful and shy look on his face.

"Kahaku?!" He exclaimed suddenly frightening the two boys who were in that strange and neglected garden, under a broken roof and a door on the verge of collapse.

 

It had been a long time since he had seen Bon's face so surprised, or shedding that serious and carefree face that he used to wear lately, it was nostalgic Fushi thought, to have the Bon of back then and Kahaku himself in the same place without trying to lead a war, if he took the form of Parona perhaps, they could go back to those times.

 

"Bon?" Kahaku asked, as he cautiously descended the broken stone steps "What the hell are you wearing?" He looked with suspicion but amazement at the suit he was wearing.

 

The prince completely ignored his question “What is…?! Fushi?! How is he alive? Are you… controlling his body? "

 

"Of course not" He replied. "I just tried to revive him and it worked."

 

"No, it can’t be possible! Your soul... Your fye wasn't here! You were in the other side! Where have you been all this time?"

 

The white-haired boy saw Kahuku’s face wrinkle into a grimace, as if he was trying to remember but couldn't.

 

“I really don't know… It felt like waking up from a long dream, not at all like when you revived Kai and the others, they seemed to be… present even after they were dead. I really don't know what happened"

 

Fushi wanted to find an explanation, he really did, but he didn't want to focus on something that had already happened and that had no turning back, it wasn't like he could just kill Kahaku and pretend that none of this happened. He called Bon so that he could help Kahaku reintegrate into society like he did with the others, but after seeing his shocked face he couldn't just ask him now, he should probably give him some time to think. He looked at his side, at that abandoned and almost destroyed sanctuary that was the only place he could think of where to bring Kahaku, Mizuha took him there from time to time and it was the place where they used to see each other after school so the place was familiar to him and he knew there would be nobody questioning his bloody companion.

 

He’d also considered bringing him to Yuuki's house, but he didn’t think he would be able to deal with all the questions that everyone would ask him or the tension that would probably form, Fushi knew that things hadn’t ended in the best way between Kahaku and some of his friends.

Once Bon's face stopped being one of absolute surprise, he cleared his throat and put his fingers on his chin, as if trying to find the logic to the matter, giving up completely after a few long seconds in silence and finally looking with at the man in front of him with a more civilized face.

 

 "It has been quite a while, huh?" He said with a small smile on his face. "It's nostalgic, to a certain point"

 

Kahaku smiled, finally, a shy smile and probably the first he had given in about 400 years, and approached Bon with an outstretched arm.

 

"I think it has" He replied as they shook hands.

 

This made Fushi think about how he didn’t even greet him, it felt like he was just starting to acknowledge his existence again and how he didn’t even miss his absence, which was probably why his comeback didn’t cause something so big inside him. Was he a bad person? Kahaku always seemed to love him so sincerely, but Fushi didn't even miss him.

 

"Welcome, Kahaku, to the new world" Finally Fushi said, as a breeze began to make the leaves of the trees sound more violently and his hair slightly obstructed his vision.

 

He turned to Fushi, seeing him with a look in his eyes that he hadn’t seen in anybody else in years, and years, with a look that nobody could replicate and that only appeared when he (Kahaku) saw Fushi (Only Fushi) and smiled at him, a smile no longer shy, but one that really looked like he didn't want to hide.

 

Fushi smiled as well.