People used to compliment Brett as being ‘solar’ when he was younger.
Neither had he ever objected nor accepted that, always smoothly directing the conversation to something else.
Not gonna deny what he’d worked so hard to appear as, no matter how lacking he actually felt.
He worked hard- anxiously even- to shine, to fit into the boxes the society put him in, to meet the expectations his background put on him– he was diplomatic but not too talkative, he acknowledged his elders at family occasions like a well-mannered Asian kid should; he was outgoing enough to break the ice with strangers with small talks about the most trivial things like the weather, but he couldn’t bring himself in a house without fighting that innate impulse to take off his shoes, nor would he allow himself the access of his bed before a proper shower; he enjoys classical music a hell lot more than he does maths, but he knew better than to start a debate when his peers started going off about ‘boring elevator music’, he also knew he’d end up in Huang Laoshi’s maths tutoring if he failed to get straight A’s this semester; his time on the table tennis team had taught him that even in a sport so deeply stereotypically associated with Asians he was still never tall or ‘physically athletic’ enough, and so he visits the gym and pool on a weekly-basis despite being surrounded by weak-ass musicians.
He’d used to try so desperately, as if people would overlook the spots, flaws and rifts in him as long as he shone brightly enough.
Until he met the real sun.
People used to compliment Brett and his best friend as the sun and the moon when they were younger.
Frankly speaking, he could understand how people saw them that way– they’d always been so different by nature, one never backing off from social occasions while the other being very very very very very shy to the extent that he’d shun away from any approaching stranger. He could see why people thought the sun was him and Eddy the moon.
Only he knew real stars glowed without effort - in correct and comfortable conditions, anyone would be impressed by how smart and witty his best friend was; real stars burned for themselves and served no other purposes, his best friend embraced his urge to show off knowledge (and perfect pitch) as well as his passion for anime, he had endless energy to learn, to create. Not because he had someone to prove to, simply because he liked to.
Eddy is the sun.
Brett had panicked for this. Panicked for not soaring far enough, running fast enough, bouncing high enough to match the sun. Panicked for not glaring bright enough to enlight, to honor the adoration and worship in those eyes. Panicked that he’d fail to impress, that he’d fail him.
And so he worked even harder to put more on his shoulders, to pretend he was born to shine– until he understood he never had to, until he couldn’t continue, until he went sick.
It was early 2021, not long after his recovery and their 3M Sibelius livestream. They left Singapore for the tour they postponed for his illness.
They’d stopped counting cities long before they reached Tokyo, too busy practicing to master the art of arranging tours in healthy and efficient schedules. Just like how Brett hadn’t learnt and still insisted they roamed midnight streets in every city they visited.
Tokyo in February was still freezing cold, Brett trembled under his layers of clothes and puffy jackets while Eddy appreciated how the bustling city glistened silently under the serenity of a night mask like the cold was nothing, humming Debussy without even noticing.
“You know, Debussy actually didn’t like Claire de Lune,” face half-covered in his gray scarf, Brett chipped randomly. Reason and logic were never a must between them, not when they converse idly like this.
“Makes sense, it’s too simple. Lacks that magical flare other impressionist pieces boost.” Both hands shoved in his pockets, Eddy answered in that gentleness he’d only acquired after Brett’s illness, a tone so soft almost as if holding a crystal tumbler wrapped in thick cotton, “but I like it anyway. A good piece is a good piece, doesn’t matter if it’s shiny and fancy, or simple and plain. I like what I like, impressive or not.”
A smile found its way to Brett’s scarf-shielded lips. He turned to see Eddy staring at the crescent, shaded and screened by velvety clouds.
“I read somewhere, not sure if it’s credible or just an urban legend, but Natsume Soseki- a Japanese writer and English professor- once corrected a student in his English class, for translating ‘I love you’ literally into Japanese.” Drawing a fiber from the thousands of information and knowledge he gained from God knows where, Eddy’s eyes glittered under moonlight, as stars like him should.
It might be his shyness for the keywords, it might be his fear of staring directly at the sun, Brett was not sure. The only certain thing was that he had to avert his gaze before asking, “what then? How else do you translate ‘I love you’?”
“He said ‘I love you’ was too straightforward for the ambiguous, held-back Japanese culture, and it’d make more sense to translate it as ‘the moon is beautiful tonight’,” Eddy stopped to snap an Instagram story with the caption ‘Night in Tokyo’ before explaining, “I’m guessing it’s like ‘the person you’d happily share such scenery with must be someone you love deeply’ or something obscure and nuanced like that.”
“Dude, that’s so fugue-ing Asian.” Brett chuckled. The tease once so soul-wrecking in his childhood and teen years was now rolling smoothly on the tip of his tongue, pain-free.
Eddy shrugged, walked a few more steps in silence before arming Brett towards him, bumping each other’s shoulders clumsily.
“But don’t you think,” it wasn’t until Brett finally hugged Eddy back and looked up at him that he noticed the taller man finished the sentence without looking at the sky, but instead, at him only, “the moon’s actually really beautiful tonight?”
In their early years when they still did Q&A livestreams, one frequent question was ‘what would you tell your younger self?’
Now that they’d cut down on interviews and only take those that help promote Twoset Apparel and their world tours, this question is, of course, scarcely asked. Fancy, chic magazines and tabloids don’t care as much about two classical music nerds’ mentality, after all.
Yet Brett Yang has decided, next time he encounters this question, he’d like to tell his 14-year-old self ——
Hey, relax. Don’t worry. One day someone will look at you the way they look at the moon.
One day that person will come, the person that sees you without you having to shine– the person that actually sees you, will come.
The person that’s seen all your lows and shadows because they’ve been looking directly at you, the person that’s stayed long enough to witness your phases of ebbs and flows, the person that can’t take their eyes off of you even if they know you won’t always be full will come to you.
The embrace that allows you to be your most comfortable self, however that is