At first, it was but a patch of yellow.
When Keito was little, from time to time he'd get these brief flashes of something—perhaps it could even be a 'someone', he thought. With these flashes lasting mere moments and with figure being too blurry, he couldn't manage to make anything out of it, save for a little blob of yellow that stood out against a bright backdrop of white.
Despite being a recurring experience, initially, it was of no concern to him. He unconsciously believed that it was simply his imagination in the works. After all, at an early age he had already found himself attached to the world of comics, becoming not only an avid reader but also an aspiring creator. The constant flashing of the same hazy figure in his head was something he dismissed as an idea for a character in a new comic, blurry because he has yet to fully flesh it out, as evidenced by the countless sheets of paper he'd drawn a yellow blob on, all with different faces and bodies—a young artist's experiment.
Keito himself was very much intrigued by this mystery figure. He developed an attachment to it, somehow convincing himself that it was the most perfect character he might be able to come up with for his comics, for why else would it be constantly entering his thoughts?
In time, the same figure he'd been seeing for years would grow clearer and clearer, his drawings mirroring this development. No longer did he draw aliens and beasts using the yellow patch as a basis, for he learned that what he was always looking at was the head of soft-looking light blond hair of a child around the same age as him. The child always wore a tender expression, his lips curled into a small smile not betraying his gentle blue eyes. Clad in elegant white and gold clothes, Keito's conclusion that this boy was an ethereal being or at the very least, a regal figure who stood above the masses, was understandable.
The young Keito grew excited, excited to put the child in his stories, excited to draw the child going on adventures. Since he only had the physical appearance of the child, there was plenty of room left for his imagination—a spirit with a mission to purge the world of evil and protect those who need it? A royal child on his way to become the next ruler of his kingdom? A noble who grows up and accumulates more power and glory? The possibilities were endless, and his creative soul flourished at the thought of all the stories and comics he could do.
As he grew up, however, Keito noticed the flashes becoming less and less frequent, eventually coming to a stop altogether. Fortunately, he had no need for them anymore. He had drawn the child so many times now, so much so that he was probably the thing he drew the most and the best. In color, in monochrome, in pencil, in ink—he continued to skillfully weave together lines and shapes, filling sheet after sheet with drawings of the mysterious boy. Sometimes after he finishes a drawing, Keito would take time and look at his work for a little longer than usual, not out of pride, but out of a tugging feeling of curiosity, of yearning. Gently tracing with his fingers the lines he just drew, he always came to the same conclusion.
He feels as if he knows this boy.
Know him not because he'd drawn him a hundred times over, but know him on a deeper, more personal level, as if he was a person that actually existed. It was a feeling he couldn't fully comprehend, couldn't put into words, but couldn't bring himself to simply brush off either. Sometimes he'd mull over it and try to figure out for himself, but worldly distractions prevented him from doing so. Pushing these nagging thoughts to the back of his mind, Keito figured he'll probably know the answer someday, once he's older.
Apparently, there was no need for him to wait that long.
Today, his household is attending to a funeral an esteemed family, one with close relations with his own. He'd been able to attend previous funerals of this family because of this, recognizing a few faces here and there but never really knowing who they are, only seeing the same grieving faces they wore the last time during this funeral.
Keito was still a child, but that didn't exempt him from participating in the funeral rites. Dutifully doing the roles given to him, he had his full attention turned to the ceremony while continuing to be aware of the quiet sobbing amidst the chants and prayers for the one who passed on. There was somber atmosphere, one he, as a member of his family, would have to get used to.
Indeed, in such a solemn occasion, there was no need for him to think of things such as his comics or his drawings—which was why he could not prepare himself for what suddenly came ahead.
After the formal ceremony, Keito is called by his parents to be introduced to someone. Expecting the other party to be an adult given that he only saw a handful of children among those who attended the funeral, he's met with great shock upon finding out that the other person looked exactly like the boy he'd been seeing in those sudden flashes, the boy he'd been drawing countless times.
It was as if time had stopped for him. Keito was at a loss for words, staring with wide eyes at the boy, accompanied by his parents, who was the spitting image of the one in his drawings. Their features were the same: the light blond hair, the blue eyes, the soft smile. As the child of a prestigious family, even the refined aura of nobility was there. There was no mistaking it, he thought, this is him, this is the same boy he'd always been drawing.
They were the same—but they were also different.
The one he'd been seeing had a vibrant aura, one that was full of life, but Keito felt none of that from this boy. Instead, there seemed to be an air of death around him. Was it because of the black clothes he was wearing, or the dreary atmosphere of the occasion? No, Keito thought, it can't be that, everyone else wore black clothes and were in mourning. It's him, it's definitely coming from him.
The expressions too, Keito found himself comparing. Gone was the twinkle in the familiar blue eyes, replaced with a sullen glint. The soft smile he felt tenderness from now seemed more devious, with—he could be mistaken about his, he thought—underneath that, a hint of loneliness.
Keito feels a gentle nudge on his shoulder from his father, finally snapping him out of his reverie. He quickly apologizes for his rudeness, the adults laughing it off and dismissing it as shyness. The blue-eyed boy too chuckles softly, and extends his hand towards Keito, his smile somewhat changing into the gentler one Keito was more familiar with.
"Pleased to meet you," the boy says. "My name is Tenshouin Eichi."
Keito feels a natural connection towards this boy, who was his drawing made flesh, enthralled by just how different his fantasy turned out from reality, and now, pleased because he finally has a name and a voice he can attach to this boy. He was shocked, that was for sure, but it only fueled the familiar longing feeling he sometimes felt looking at his drawings of this boy, no, of Eichi. Feeling by an emerging desire to know why the Eichi from his imagination was different from the real one, Keito took Eichi's extended hand and grasped it, unaware of how in the years to come, he'd still be holding on it tightly.
"...Hasumi Keito. Please take care of me."