To cope with his loss, Shuichi finds comfort in ghosts of the past. (one-shot)
What happened to the life inside these walls?
Ever since you went away...it's been so different. It's been so lonely. This apartment has been a small, choking box. There's no love left here anymore. It wasn't like this before. It was never this empty. It was never this dark. Not when it was yours.
I still remember the first time I ever met you. I remember chasing my lyrics through the park. It was like chasing down the petals of what was left of my soul. I was dried up, I was confused, I was stuck. And then I found a hand clutching them. And it was yours. I felt so violated, like someone had torn me open and scrawled their words onto my heart. You said harsh things to me. You made me want to hate you. But you were burned into my mind, like a seal on my soul. You were there no matter how hard I tried to block your face from my mind. Only one pair of eyes had stayed with me in my dreams like that. Yours. Your golden eyes.
I remember the first time you kissed me. I was so desperate, clutching onto what chance might have been left to make you see me, make you hear me, make you understand how everything inside me was screaming at me to make sure we were never apart. You were just a floating dream then, on the very edge of my reality, something I never even dreamed I would be able to touch. You were always so far away, and I reached for you. And then, like it was just a dream, our realities collided, and mine was never the same. We had suddenly become part of each other's worlds. I had been trying so desperately for just some small whisper of attention from you, and then as suddenly as it had been when you first crashed into my life, everything had changed. And I was yours. We were together, and no force on Earth could have made me want to stop clinging onto you for dear life as the world thrashed and changed around us because of our actions, of our sudden collision with each other in what I desperately hoped was love. It didn't matter what it was, though. I was already yours, whether you liked it or not. I was yours, and nothing could stop it.
And now it's stopped.
This house is full of cold death. Everywhere I look, something meets my eyes that was yours. There's always something there to remind me that life went out the window the moment you stepped out. I hate staying in this place. But it's all I have left of you. If I left, our realities wouldn't be linked anymore, because I would have nothing left to link you to me, even though you're gone. And you would float away like the dream you used to be, into the mists of my world, and vanish like everyone else has these days. Even Hiro hasn't known exactly how to talk to me since...it...happened. Everyone looks at me differently. Like I'm a fragile china doll that they think will break if they touch me. I'm already broken anyway. So what's the use in them preserving what's left of me. The shell of 'the great Shuichi Shindoh' that you left me in when you went away.
I walk into the bathroom. Golden hairs clog the shower drain. Yours. I walk into the bedroom. A shirt hangs over the desk chair. Yours. A laptop sits on the desktop, screensaver whirring as though nothing has changed. Yours. I haven't been able to bring myself to turn it off. It would be like severing a link to you. That's all that I have left these days. Links, ghosts, ties to people who have moved on. They don't want to stay linked to me, but I keep pushing, I keep holding on, I keep hoping for them to hold back. And that's why they leave. Everyone will leave someday. I'm 20 years old and the love of my life has come and gone. I have no future left. My music is empty now. You were all that inspired me. And now you can't even inspire me from a distance.
I tried to pretend that it was a lie when Mr. Seguchi first told me what happened. I was on stage. Everything was shining that night. We had released our second album. America had finally fallen in love with our music, and we were starting to win the hearts of Europe. We were going to be world-famous. We all knew it. Suguru and Hiro and I were silent in our early triumph, but we all knew it was coming. We would make history. We would rise to stand beside Nittle Grasper in the music history books. We were unstoppable. We owned the stage that night, all marked by a silent, invisible glow of pride and excitement, our joy at accomplishment carrying the sounds from out instruments and voices to soar with the angels. At intermission, I couldn't stop hugging everyone, shining and glowing and sparkling, doing the chicken dance with Mr. Sakuma in the stair wells, riding Hiro's shoulders past the concession stands. I couldn't find you, and I was surprised you hadn't shown up, but at the moment, for once, it didn't matter. I was riding the clouds, we were like gods, and the joy was more than enough to fill me.
And then as we approached the stage for the second half of the show, Mr. Seguchi was waiting for us. For me. I had never seen him so grave. And then he told me, in a tight and hollow voice, that you were gone. At first, I though he just meant that you had left for a surprise book signing, but then it gradually became reality. He explained the way the rain made it hard for you to see the road, the way the other car had swerved to avoid a semi and had plowed into yours, the way your car had taken a sharp swerve into the railing of the bride. It was a lie. I knew it was a lie. It had to be. You couldn't be gone. You had to be here, had to be right there waiting when I got back to the apartment, you had to brush me away when I hugged you, but then talk to me about the concert during dinner and put your arm around me afterward. You had to be there.
I ran home. I didn't care about the concert, I didn't care about the rain getting me wet. I didn't care about fame or NG or the fans or anybody in the world but my Yuki. I was rushing home, praying desperately that you would be there to scold me for running through the rain, to meet my words with a roll of your eyes and say "How can I be dead, Shindoh. I'm standing right here? You need to stop being so melodramatic."
But all I could think about on the way home was your skull, cracked open by the force of its butt into the dashboard, and of the blood, the thick, thick, gory, terrible crimson blood running down your forehead and staining your beautiful face.
And it wasn't a lie. It was all real. But I haven't been real since. It's been two weeks, and all I can think about is you, and how you can't really have left me. You can't really be gone. You can't be dead.
It hasn't stopped raining since that night.
And it wouldn't be as bad if you were gone. But you're not. You're still here, all around me, choking me. A suffocating, ethereal whisper of what you once were. I feel you everywhere, and turn to find only empty air behind me where you should have been. This empty place in my heart was yours. And now there's nothing and no one to fill it up. Everything is empty, now. I eat to stay alive, I breathe to keep going on. But I'm living for nothing. I suppose I'll move on someday. I'll find some hidden strength and push forward, start something new and yet meaningless, and become one of those successful faces in the halls of fame with nothing behind the features but a nameless longing for something to fill me up.
I can't stop staring at your laptop. The thing you wrote your novels on, the thing that you used to bring words to life, is still so alive, whirring, a million little parts doing their jobs and keeping the machine running while you lay somewhere in a morgue, cold as stone. Dead. That word fills me with a loneliness I can't even describe. Everyone has a word to me that I associate with them. And...dead....that one shouldn't have to be yours.
And then it happens. As I pass by the desk, I bump it. And the screen saver on your laptop disappears. It leaves me staring at the page of typing. Your latest work in progress. It hurts me to see it. As my eyes scan the words, tears fill them. Reading these words, it's as though you're not even gone. It's as though you walked into the kitchen to get a drink and left this computer here running, and you'll be back in moments. The words bring you back to life. You didn't start this novel long ago. There isn't much written. But as I read the words, I realized something. This story is about a man...and a boy. About a man and a boy whose lives collide one night in a deserted park. And as I read on, it becomes clear.
This story is about us.
You left off at the place where the man and the boy collide in an elevator. A chill runs up my spine. Our lives down in print, and yet left off at that point a year ago when things were so young and new.
I shift, and my arm hits a key, bringing up the other window you have open. It's an email you finished, but never got around to sending. And I can't help but read what were probably your final words to anyone before you left at the last minute to see my concert.
Things are fine around here. I don't know why you worry so much. Things are always fine, and yet you insist on asking. And you ask me to tell you such damn personal things. Things with Shindoh are fine. But I'm starting to worry.
I'm going to die soon, Tatsuha. We both know it. I've been keeping up these damned habits for too long. My liver is going to give out or my lungs are going to give way to cancer, and I'm going to have to leave everything behind. There'll nothing left of me. I'm going to be one of those old, forgotten faces that lose fame after they die and wither into oblivion. I just hope that when I'm gone, someone remembers to keep me alive. That someone remembers to finish my life by living theirs. I don't want to trouble anyone by dying, but I can't help the future. I just want my life to be lived out by someone else. The life I could have had.
There. I was personal with you. How was that? Don't expect me to pour myself out to you again any time soon. I'm through with that for now. You and your goddamned prying.
Say hello to Mika for me, and I suppose you should tell father I'll visit soon, if Mika is going to keep pestering me over the phone about not seeing him more than once a year.
Stay out of trouble.
As I finish reading the email, I'm crying and laughing all at once. That's you, alright. You hated letting people in, but when they pushed enough, pestered enough, you would let them in, and then you would embrace them sometimes as though they were all in the world you cared about. You never changed, and I didn't care. I loved you just the same. And I still do love you.
I click back to the window where your story sits, lonely and waiting. And slowly, slowly, my hands begin to find the keys, and words begin to appear. I begin to continue where you left off. It won't be good, but it will be finished. I'll write out our lives the way they could have been, should have been. The story won't be yours, but it'll be mine, and you are alive in me, so I suppose it's good enough.
And I'll keep living for you, Yuki. I'll live out my life the way yours could have been lived, just like you said. You'll be with me forever, even though you're gone, and just because you're dead doesn't mean I have to let you go. Because I suppose somehow, no matter what happens, no matter where I go, no matter how long you're apart from me, I'll always be yours.
And I suppose that's as much as I can ask for.