Some move in circles, others in straight lines. Kiichi/Haruomi.
Disclaimer: Love Mode is the creation of Shimizu Yuki. I am but a lowly fanfic writer making no profit off her scribblings.
Warnings: Spoilers for virtually the entire series, especially volumes 8-9.
Comments: Much thanks to Verity, who lent me her manga and beta-read this thing.
Aoe Kiichi folds a perfect blue lotus: the Buddhist symbol of wisdom and knowledge attained, of victory of the spirit over the senses. His fingers move with surgical grace, pressing neat folds and points into the origami paper.
Naoya would find this odd, so out of character with the theatrical flamboyance Kiichi likes to affect around his brother. Reiji, /ah/-- Reiji already knows the way their shared past has folded him into Aoe Kiichi, queen of the Aoe household.
What Reiji doesn't know is how much he still doesn't understand about the people around him. Reiji's work brings him in constant contact with the masses of humanity, but he gets his way by force of will and iron-clad business sense -- not through any claim of mastery over human interaction.
Over the years, Kiichi has learned to snake around people's hearts because he knows this is something his brother can never do. Someone has to take up the slack. Reiji only empathises with people to whom he has opened his heart; everyone else is business or warfare.
Kiichi contemplates the blue lotus: a bud just beginning to open, its centre hidden from view. He puts it to one side and takes out a sheet of red paper dusted with real gold.
If there is one housewifely truism he knows to be accurate, it's that the best partnerships are made between "circle people" and "straight people". Kiichi knows himself to be a circle person -- his mind moves in ever-larger coils, encompassing his world, before returning to bite its own tail. Haruomi, on the other hand, is as straight as they come.
As much as Kiichi still hates his late father, he thanks Aoe Shougo's machinations for Haruomi's presence in his life. In another life, where Tien Shue was born to loving parents, he could be an incorruptible policeman or a teacher. Someone ordinary, but honest and untainted. Someone who doesn't belong to Kiichi.
Sometimes it seems to Kiichi that he has twisted Haruomi around him, deviating the true currents of Haruomi's mind to follow his ever-whirling circles. Kiichi feels no guilt over this; he tells himself he doesn't use Haruomi the way his late father used people. He needs Haruomi, loves him to the end of this life and beyond, wants him to be happy.
Kiichi also knows one other thing: it is through Haruomi's love for Kiichi that doubts plague Haruomi's strong stride, taking away the wildness his early life should have made him capable of. Tien Lee grew up to be a wolf, Tien Shue grew up to be Haruomi. Devoted, loving Haruomi, who stays at Kiichi's side and makes his house into a home.
Kiichi himself never has any doubts about Haruomi. He chose Haruomi over Tien Lee -- over freedom -- and he knows his place at the centre of Haruomi's universe is assured. Haruomi will always protect him, will always understand that there are times when Reiji's happiness comes before Haruomi's need.
Ah, he has pressed too hard on the delicate origami paper. Some of the shine has come off, gold flecks glittering on the edges of his nails. No matter. The folded flower is almost perfect: a red lotus, the symbol of the heart.