Men are, inherently, gods (and kittens are, inherently, animals). And Tokitoh is no man's best friend (and Kubota never learned to share). [kubotatokitoh]
Summary: Men are, inherently, gods (and kittens are, inherently, animals). And Tokitoh is no man’s best friend (and Kubota never learned to share). [kubotatokitoh]
It went beyond magazine articles and television reports and autographs, this kind of fame.
It was far briefer but simultaneously immortal because they could carve your name in stone, and even if you never, ever looked back, they were still there. They were shadows of men, the counterparts to angels who never existed, dealing death and cards with fingers nimble like dawn. And by the time the angels announced themselves, they were gone, too.
They were the sorts of gods to whom Machiavelli sang hymns and wrote scriptures; they were puppeteers and their strings were veins with still-warm blood. They had teeth like knives and knives like teeth, serpentine tongues and wobbly jaws, and, given the chance, they would have swallowed you whole. They swallowed Komiya, buried him deep and shoved him low, and he tried to climb back up and climb back out but it was too late. He was food half-chewed in your lap and you lost your appetite for good.
So you bailed.
Out of the frying pan and back to the black. Bored now.
They tried to swallow /you/, after all.
You didn’t take that too well; in your defense, no one would. It would be foolish, you thought, because every time you looked at Sanada you saw frailty and hindrances and everything you disavowed without a second, conscious thought. You shattered their front teeth and they hacked you back up, spitting, and they’re still spitting, after all this time, after all these months. You get hit sometimes by the ramifications, but their messes are too troublesome for you.
At night even the apartment seems weary and it’s like being baptized by Somnus himself, the way solid surfaces sigh alongside you.
The last thing you see, leaning back against your mattress, is your ceiling; the last thing you hear is your own discontent channeling through the threadbare walls, or perhaps your own paranoia which assumes the form of a quivering brass lock. You turn your back to your window the way good delinquents should not, because you are invincible and no one in Yokohama will notice.
This is your life.
It isn’t much and, as to be expected, it isn’t enough.
A midnight, a smile, an eternity, and one tossed pot of rotten curry later, this is your life. At first glance, something has changed. At second glance, something has /changed/, and this is your life.
A kitty raises his angry kitten fists and smacks you one good in the chest and says your name like it doesn’t matter, and there are two firsts here and they shine through the darkness of your consistencies like sunshine with fangs.
One is that he hits you with malice and fearlessness and disrespect—/disrespect/, not like random faceless faces shoving past you in a crowd and swearing at you with powder-tipped tongues, disrespect like he thinks you beneath the ground upon which he walks—or at least you should be there, pushing up daisies, paving his path and eroding it as he passes.
Another is that that paw of his hurts like a /bitch/.
You have sat in rooms full of strangers and never thought much about it, and crowds change nothing except the atmosphere, so maybe they change everything. You never pay things like that much attention, though you call yourself a philosopher at heart. You think quickly but precisely and every thought registers in your own voice so you know you aren’t going crazy; you’re just alone, even in that pretty head of yours, and you don’t pay that much attention, either.
You curl your hand to your chest where there’ll be a welt in the morning, shaped like the edge of his fist, jagged with matted hair that reminds you of undone burlap. You watch his skin peel back as his hands cradle his skull, and you can’t judge his hands the way you judge everyone’s hands; he holds his head gently as though he’s afraid it’ll blow any given someday and he doesn’t want his brains to shoot out of his ears and collect on your moldy carpet.
His world is a secret landscape, barren and vacant and it flashes in his eyes, greets you amidst the maelstroms of emotion in his irises.
He feels and it is /fantastic/.
You take his hands in your hands and the fur is thick and grungy and you make your first-ever promise: to plant something in that pretty landscape of his.
He thinks it’s sexual innuendo, and maybe it is, and he punches you again, so hard that iridescent lights begin dancing in halfhearted speckles in the corners of your eyes, and you realize he’s trying to get his thumbs in your eyes and those aren’t speckles, and your glasses dangle off your chin as he darts his foot out to kick you viciously in the shins. You dodge that one and you catch his wrists and you slip his thumbs beneath your tongue, and you watch his ears flare pink around the edges, and you wonder what kind of flowers he likes, what season they’d grow in.
You think of carnations the second before he rams his knee into your groin.
Everyone is hungry in their own special ways.
The yakuza are ghosts and you know, they’re the kind of ghosts that don’t abandon the world alone—they always drag someone with them into Hell. Fellow yakuza. Civilians. Komiya. They get eaten and everything they ate gets eaten along with them, and in its own way it’s a hierarchy, an accident waiting to happen. The story of the old lady who swallowed a fly and kept swallowing things to make it better—it’s sort of like that, with the eating metaphor, except instead of searching for a cure they look to spread the disease, and eventually it does get better, and eventually they do die.
You get caught in throats, which might be why people spit you back out so much.
See, you do a dance in there while they try their best to digest, and it goes like this: smile, step, speak, shoot, and any one of those steps are completely optional so it’s alright if you leave one or two out every no and then. The songs are tuneless; nothing plays in your head aside from your own voice, so you have no sense of rhythm. You just. Do it. It’s simple enough so long as you can still look people in the eye.
You start dreaming of things like cards, spread like a snapped fan on the coffee table, of a hand in your back pocket and a refrain, and it has a melody and that is /fantastic/.
/Live/, Komiya says and he is not a voice in your head but he’s damn close, damn close but never quite there, but you hold him close and hide him away, him and his memories beneath the set of your brow. No one will see him when you frown because you never frown at the sky.
That guy, his name is Tokitoh.
That guy, he wants his own key.
Sometimes he slips out the window and comes back quiet as good kittens should be, but never quiet enough. His eyes glisten and he looks gray in the darkness, and you plant carnations on the windowsill and in his eyes and you watch them blossom like a good gardener. You link fingers with him one day when he reaches, just to mock him in your own affectionate way, and the flats of his palms are pliant against yours and you realize he wasn’t going to hit you, even if it looked like it, even if every single thing he’d been doing up to that moment was supposed to culminate in the most wide-scale bitch-slap ever—he was not going to /hit you/.
His gaze submits to fitfuls of color, but he is still gray in the dark. You find yourself leaving the lights on past midnight because there are misty pastels behind his pupils and if you lose them, you’ll lose him and the thought is simply not. Bearable.
You find that it never has been particularly bearable.
You handled Komiya’s death with a certain kind of grace, cold and noble, just like Komiya’s mother as her back fought its usual dejected slump to deliver a bow of insurmountable gratitude.
Tokitoh rarely leaves your peripherals nowadays and when he does, he takes a little piece of you with him. You didn’t even know that piece of you existed in the first place, so he must have wedged it in between that rock and that hard place, and it’s a perfect fit, just like his legs dangling off your sofa, propped on your shoulders, spread. For your eyes only.
You hope so, anyway. A part of you doubts, especially since he opens himself to you so readily, opens himself to you so readily/. It’s a fear in your soul and it gets around, like vines, like a rosary or, perhaps, a string of pearls; it poisons you at the worst possible moments until you can’t look at him, you have to close your eyes and strain against the darkness and against this—this /thing that bubbles up inside you, thick and hot like liquid tar, arcing in quick pangs of pain somewhere behind the sixth rib on your left side. When you are calm you are calm and when you are angry you are calm and nothing—/nothing/—ever, ever stands a chance.
It gets to you.
Nothing else does, but it gets to you.
You have infinite amounts of patience and people test your limits but usually something or other happens along the way, and no one ever reaches the bottom of the barrel. You’ve yet to meet something capable of making you genuinely angry but you know something like that would come along one way. You realized it as soon as you rested your hand on Tokitoh’s shoulder and it came away smelling like rain, and that was so, so long ago but every moment is seared into your memory like a hot brand so long as it involves his face somehow, or maybe his skin or his smell or his voice. Except his taste—you need a reminder of that every time.
“Call me when you get there,” he says quietly, and it sounds like an epitaph. He shoves extra cartridges in your coat sleeves although he knows—hopes—you won’t need them and the bullets are heavy on the undersides of your wrists. He gives you a fresh pack of cigarettes and you give him a piece of yourself, extending your open hand, and you say his name.
It’s not him—it’s you/, you realize. You, you, you. It’s not that he opens himself to you so /readily/, it’s that he opens himself to /you so readily and he gives himself and you take it, take him like a man dying of thirst takes drink.
Your fingers flutter like eyelashes as your palms settle upon his shoulders.
“/Kubo-chan/,” he persists, fiddling with the creases on your shirt, worrying them flat with the tips of his fingers.
“/Tokitoh/,” you mock softly.
“You’re going to be late,” he points out with a huff.
“That’s a shame,” you say.
“The—unlicensed bastard, he’ll be pissed.”
“But you’ll go home happy,” you point out, as though it explains everything, and perhaps it does. “Shall I show you how much that means to me?”