Sei ponders mirrors, football and Kai.
Warning: Objects in mirrors
Sei sat on his bed, looking wistfully out the window at the children playing football in the park opposite their apartment. A flash of movement reflected in the windowpane alerted him, and he turned just in time to see Kai ducking out of the room hurriedly after setting down a lunch tray for him. He sighed.
How long had it been since the last test? Sei couldn't remember anymore. He caught sight of his own wan image in the mirror and thought he didn't blame Kai for not wanting to look at or talk to him.
Before he met Kai, Sei had never been one to fuss over his appearance in front of a mirror. He was healthy, not bad-looking, and beyond that he felt there was certainly nothing particularly alarming about his face or body that needed particular attention. Not that things like freckles and peeling sunburns weren't annoying or that he was completely unaware of them when he chanced to pass a reflective surface, but he considered paying any mind to these things that couldn't be helped or avoided was a complete waste of time that would be better employed playing football, which was the greatest sport ever and inexplicably appreciated by not nearly enough people.
By all rights, Sei should have been the least likely candidate to have his world turned upside down by a mirror, but that was the way of the world.
But after Kai floated out of the mirror in the old school building and lodged himself into Sei's life like a football rammed down a drain, it became positively awkward to even look into mirrors and other reflective surfaces, not least because that was where Kai (and Saya, but he really didn't want to think about her) had come from, and Sei was always a little afraid that either Kai would go back, or worse, more mirror-people would be forthcoming, which might at best be very painful for Sei or at worst the prelude to an alien invasion. And like Kai, these aliens would doubtless be fond of and exceedingly good at football, and any surviving humans would be relegated to watch from the sidelines.
More seriously, though, without looking in a mirror, Sei had known that his tan was fading, and he was losing some of his muscle tone. Recognising his systematic outward ruin even as he slowly regained his health and strength was difficult, but even harder to face was the shame in Kai's eyes, and somehow that unhappiness hurt him more than Kai's deception that had nearly killed him. Which was seriously illogical, not unlike his passion for football, but Sei did not delude himself that this zeal for the sport was anything but excessive. They would probably all have been happier had Sei graciously accepted Kai's offer to sacrifice his life for Sei's, yet somewhere along the way Kai had managed to tangle himself up in Sei's feelings for football. Sei liked football and liked Kai as much as he liked football, or maybe he liked Kai more, because evidently he had given up football to keep Kai in spite of all that had happened, and there was that.
In any case, Kai's unhappiness was a problem. So was Sei's, actually, but he rather thought he was entitled to be unhappy under the circumstances, and besides, he was sure he would feel a bit better about everything if Kai weren't quite so determined to be so constantly guilty and unhappy and thus remind Sei that he had cause for unhappiness.
Sei was very fond of football, but that hardly meant that he was a slacker on the academic front. After perusing a few introductory psychology textbooks and bringing his more-than-adequate mental prowess to bear on the matter, Sei decided that the root of their problem might be that they were depressing each other. "Physician, heal thyself," he told himself very firmly. "If I try to be a little less morose, perhaps Kai will not feel so guilty every time he looks at me, and I will not feel sad because he is unhappy."
But how would he achieve that goal? Before, a certain way to raise his spirits would be to play football, but it would only distress both himself and Kai if he passed out on the field after a few steps, and in truth, just the thought of running made his hands and feet hurt in memory. So that was out of the question for now.
What else? Sei turned and stared at the mirror again, as though it could provide him with an answer. He knew it was his own face, and that he should be used to it by now, but he still felt a mild shock every time he looked in the glass, as if he was seeing a stranger's face. Perhaps this was where he should begin. How could Kai forget his guilt when Sei was avoiding mirrors half the time and flinching at his own reflection the other half? He reached out and touched his fingers to the cold glass, remembering. His face. Kai's face. They did not look at all alike, yet somehow he'd not been particularly surprised to see Kai instead of himself in the mirror that first time.
If they could become familiar to each other again... Sei tried out a smile, and felt a little more like himself.
"Hey," said Kai, coming up behind him with a determined expression that made him look like he was going to try to hug a grizzly bear, but was probably an attempt at a smile. Sei thought Kai might have come to a similar decision on their problem. Well. He supposed that was a good starting point. And he thought he was better at smiling than Kai, which made him feel smug.