“Hey, Sena-kun… Why did Tsukinaga-kun break?”
Izumi’s hand froze, still grabbing one of his bishops over the chessboard, the figure almost touching the surface. He refused to look Eichi in the eye after that question. He had agreed to meet Tenshouin in the garden terrace to chat, and he even accepted this little chess match to keep their hands busy while they talked. But the conversation had turned to Leo too early to his liking. This meeting was going to be more bitter than he expected.
That didn’t mean he would keep silent, tho.
So he talked. And Eichi did, too.
“...He can no longer fight.”
Izumi placed his rook on the board, killing one of Eichi’s pawns. After talking about Leo for a while, he felt quite uneasy. Unpleasant emotions flourished with every word he spoke, his own mind slowly sinking him in a pool of guilt.
“I suppose so. I visited him... That wasn’t the Tsukinaga-kun I was so fond of.”
Izumi frowned a little, almost unconsciously, at Eichi’s words.
“Geniuses are surprisingly fragile.”
The expression deepened.
“It’s such a shame.” Eichi sighed while moving his knight forward.
“You talk like it’s nothing of your concern, but whose fault do you think that was?” Izumi said, clearly annoyed. He just wanted the other to shut up, and said that without giving it any thought.
Eichi seemed slightly troubled after his words. He was trying to conceal it, of course, but Izumi could tell. He was sure the expression on Eichi’s face was very similar to his own every time Leo was brought to the table, even if he acted aloof or irritated to cover it up. He couldn’t help it, and Eichi couldn’t either.
Who would have thought the Emperor could feel guilt...
“Thanks to me,” Eichi finally replied, averting his gaze from Izumi and fixing it in the chessboard instead, as if he were thinking about the next movement and not internally disturbed, “everything of my friendship with him has now shattered into pieces. But I do not regret it. I won’t even apologize.”
And even so, Eichi felt guilty for it.
“Leo-kun…” Izumi spoke after a few seconds of silence, catching Eichi’s attention. He shook his head, sighing after it. “It wasn’t your fault he broke.” Izumi shut his eyes. “...It’s my fault. I used him as I pleased, it’s my fault.”
He could recall the look in Leo’s face as if it had all happened just the day before. He could recall how his voice sounded. Sad. Desperate. Broken.
“You’ve stopped calling me ‘Leo-kun’ too, huh. Even you.”
If only he could go back... If they both could have acted better, been better...
If only they wouldn’t have reached the point where he had to see Leo cry like that...
“It’s your fault... all of it! You know, all I wanted to do was to fulfill your dreams!”
The tears in his eyes dropped down his cheeks. Once they started falling, they were not going to stop soon. He cried, talking about how he couldn’t write happy songs anymore. How he felt left alone in the dark because his light — his beloved Izumi — could not shine and smile for him. How he was not a genius and could not use his songs to make people like them. How he wished they never dreamed at all.
Izumi’s chest hurt as if Leo himself were squeezing his heart with his own hands, using for it all of his anger, frustration, and pain. Every tear he shed was another stabbing pain in Izumi’s heart, every word he spoke was another open wound inside him. And Izumi didn’t understand why this was happening. Why this had to happen, to them. Was it because he tainted that innocent soul? Was it really because of his pride, his hate, his greed… because it all just settled in the deeps of a heart originally filled with goodness and kindness, corrupting Leo to his very core?
Leo was falling into pieces right before his eyes, and all he could do was give a weak answer, poorly arguing back. He felt hurt, too. He felt shattered, too.
Have they really been breaking each other all this time?
“Sena-kun?” Eichi’s voice forced him out of his mind.
Izumi blinked, returning to the present time. He looked up at Eichi, who was staring at him with a somehow curious expression in his blue eyes. He really got lost in thought… How annoying.
Ah, if he could shoo away the curses and voices that have dimmed the music in Leo’s head, if he could stop the bleeding… Maybe then they could start anew again, and this time he wouldn't refuse to say a mere ‘I love you too’.
But that wasn’t going to happen. He was not that powerful — he was closer to powerless, in fact.
He moved the bishop forward. After it, there was silence. Izumi didn’t say anything for several minutes and Eichi, surprisingly, didn’t push him.
“Sometimes I think about how it all could have been if we have just stayed how we were. No dreams to pursue, just a bunch of kids enjoying our youth together for as long as it lasted, laughing and playing and talking about what ordinary teenagers talk about. Maybe we would be happy that way.” Izumi paused, searching Eichi’s gaze as he tilted his head, almost looking tired in the act. “Don’t you think about it too, Tenshouin?”
The blonde was about to move one of his pieces, but that made him hesitate. Slowly, he retreated his hand. Izumi could see a thin smile on his lips.
“But even then,” Izumi continued, as Eichi kept quiet, “we can’t go back in time. We’re human, after all. What is done is done. And we have no time to reminisce and lament like that.”
The smile in Eichi’s face widened, even if just a little.
“You know, Sena-kun. I think about it too, I really do.” He finally moved his piece — the queen. “Maybe I might have been happy just lying in my hospital bed. Nevertheless, I chose to stain my hands on the battlefield, because I didn’t resign myself to that life. And, as you say, we can’t go back.”
And with the advance of Tenshouin’s queen, Izumi found himself in a difficult situation. But he would manage to get alive of it, as he always did. Maybe not unharmed, but at least alive.
“Shall we get the game to an end, Sena-kun?”
Gracefully, Izumi stood up from his seat.
“As many other things, maybe this game doesn’t need a conclusion.”
Eichi’s eyes softened, and his smile seemed a bit sadder now. For the first time since the chess game started, the Student Council President seemed to lower his guard a bit.
“...Even if I wasn’t expecting this exact outcome, I used Tsukinaga-kun too. We share the blame, Sena-kun. In a sense, I sympathize with you.”
Izumi wasn’t sure if that was supposed to make him feel some kind of relief. He didn’t feel it.
Silence, for a few seconds. Then, Eichi spoke again.
“...Do you really think Tsukinaga-kun will come back?”
That day, they stayed at Yumenosaki after school, using an empty classroom as their practice room once they have taken off the chairs and desks. Leo lied on the floor, as childish and ridiculous as he has always been. He was composing, at least until Izumi interrupted him. He couldn’t just start composing whenever and wherever he pleased.
He could remember how Leo said his name, in that way he always does, as he looked at him with the most lonely expression he has ever seen in him… at least, for now. His green eyes pierced him, and Izumi felt something inside himself break, for some reason he could not yet comprehend.
Yes, everything matters. At least, he understands it now. He wouldn’t dare to forget.
“I just think it’d be nice if that happened.”
Having said that, Izumi left the garden terrace, leaving Eichi alone and the game caught in check.