Memory 03 - What is Love?
by Midori Kou
This gift that I have received...
What's the meaning to this?
Two rings... Both different...
And yet they are connected by this chain.
How mysterious and beautiful it is.
Is this what commitment represents?
Do lovers have traits that are the same...?
Do they still hold their individualism as well...?
I can't understand such an abstract essence of life.
The Bearer of Hope raised the chain necklace before his clear ocean blue eyes as they swayed in the air. The lighting of the room made them glimmer with every movement, each sparkle fascinating the blond teen. The two ring bands of love... Of happiness... Of his future... Fragments of ideas and emotions that he never would had focused his mind on.
He had never thought of his happiness but others' instead. His future was already set by his mother and the faculty at his school. They wanted him to study further and gain a well-earning profession and in the end would repay them. Rather than refusing their ideal plans and hopes for him, Takeru kindly accepted it despite his personal feelings towards it. That was how it was. He did not want anyone to feel disappointed towards him. He wanted to be liked but sadly, he was doing so by a method he hated quite much - creating a facade of himself. Unfortunately, with this type of society, being true to oneself is hardly possible where one's livelihood and survival is more important than happiness.
Lastly, love... As far as he knew, it did not exist. The love between his parents did not last and same for many people out there. The blond could not comprehend the fact. He cannot touch this feeling even if he wanted to for he did not believe in it. Was he coldhearted? No... He just couldn't see it anymore. He lost it before he could discover how valuable it was to human life. The only love that Takeru was subjected to was from his friends and his brother, Yamato. This type of affection was not enough for him for it was slowly fading away from his heart and soul. He forgot what it was liked to be love... To be actually noticed as himself... Deeply... Emotionally, he was disappearing from those beings who he claimed they were friends.
This was what Takeru feared the most. To be forgotten... To be left behind... To remain alone forever... Hating the thought, he did not want to dwell more on his suffering. He should appreciate the moment instead looking towards the other side, but the darkness in his heart seemed more appealing than the feeling that was being given off in the room. This subtle odor of hate was in the apartment and he only can recognize it. His emotions were so mixed that he couldn't differentiate his positive and negative thoughts for they had melted together and became distorted.
Clearing his head, he remembered that Hikari was still beside him, staring at his utter silence. Blinking, he snapped out of his daze and released a small laugh. "Oh sorry," he said with a forced smile. "Kinda zoned out there. What did you say just now?"
The Bearer of Light suspiciously gazed at him, carefully looking at his face. He seemed pale and tired, but it had only been an hour or so since the party began. Is he stressed? Is he sick? Although she had asked him about his condition, the words could not manage to be said. Instead, she decided to answer the blond teen's question.
"I said, 'Happy Birthday, Takeru-kun.'"
"Oh...," The Bearer of Hope dragged. "Arigato, Hikari-chan."
His curved lips and soft chuckle appeared less enthusiastic than when he had told her about how surprised he was. His voice did not sound strong and powerful, rather weak and defenseless. What could have changed that? What could have made him feel drained?
As Takeru rubbed his forehead, the chestnut haired took that to account. "Are you alright?" she finally asked out of concern.
"I think I just need to sit down. That's all," the golden haired boy replied. "If anybody is wondering where I am, I'll be in Ni-san's room."
Gradually, he dragged himself from the hallway to Yamato's room, closing the door behind him. Saddened, Hikari stepped out of the narrow area and back into the lively party, which Takeru did not want to be a part of.
"Hey, Hikari-chan," Daisuke panted. His forehead was covered with a few droplets of sweat due to the massive bodies of people he had to force himself between. It was exhausting being tossed left and right as they shifted from time to time. Though frustrating, he managed to successful cross the other side in one piece. The spiky hair boy looked around, only to find that the Bearer of Hope was nowhere in the room. "Where's Takaishi?" he inquired, strongly enunciating his name with the sudden increase of noise.
At first, Hikari stared at him blankly, misunderstanding him the first time round. When Daisuke repeated himself, yelling Takeru's last name like a crazy maniac, the chestnut haired girl's red copper eyes widen as she realized what he was asking originally. Her eyes crept to the edge, focusing on Yamato's door. As he followed her aimless gaze, Hikari raised her finger, pointing at the bedroom door. "He's in there...," she answered.
"In there?" the spiky hair boy echoed. "What is he doing in there?"
"Probably mopping around, trying to have some peace with himself."
"Does he mind if anyone interrupts him?" Daisuke wondered. The Bearer of Light shook her relentlessly.
"He said if anybody wondered where he was, he'll be Yamato-san's room. He didn't say anything about being intruded by a visitor," she grinned.
"Always trying to find a loophole, aren't ya?" The spiky hair teenager laughed.
"Well, it'll be nice if he would talk."
"Takeru-kun has me worry," she noted. "He seems moody lately. This morning, he was acting cold and depressing and the next, he snapped at me. Strangely enough, at school, he acted like the same Takeru I knew."
"That sounds awfully peculiar," he pondered as he placed his hand under his chin.
"You think so?"
"Look, I'll talk to Takaishi. I have some questions of my own to ask him anyway. While I'm at it, find a way to talk to Ken. He's in a slump."
"I wish I knew...," Daisuke said as his gaze wondered off from Hikari. She could sympathize in relation to her and Takeru's situation. As best friends, neither of them could help them as much as they wanted to.
"Okay," the chestnut haired girl agreed. "I'll talk to Ichijouji-kun. See what you can find out from Takeru-kun for me."
"I will," he smiled as he wrapped his arms around her, drawing her near his body. As he leaned down, the spiky hair teen's lips softly kissed hers. Their warm embrace was reassuring that they will manage somehow to succeed. As they pulled apart, Daisuke gazed deep into her eyes. "Don't worry, Hikari-chan," he said as he rubbed her shoulders. "It'll turn out alright. You'll see."
"I know," she uttered. "Now to initiate 'Operation Opposite Buddy Talk'!"
Daisuke gave an odd look at the Bearer of Light in response to her loud outburst during their moment. Fortunately, no one had heard her, especially Ken who was only a couple of meters away from them. Scratching his head, he chuckled. "Mission accepted, captain!" he cried out, saluting her.
"Dismiss, Private Daisuke Motomiya-kun!"
Laying on the bed in the dark, Takeru covered his eyes with his arm as he took in a deep breath. His white shirt was unbuttoned, revealing his soft, light skin. He was tired, he perfectly knew that. After that tournament basketball match, he had no energy left in him, let alone to stand. He went all out and caused him to be completely drained. Coughing, his throat felt dry. Having only a couple of drinks of fluids weren't enough for him to feel revitalized.
As he sat up, the blond teen pulled out a transparent orange medication container from his pocket and twisted off the white plastic top. Picking out two small pills, he popped them into his mouth and swallowed them hard. As he sealed the container, Takeru flopped back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. Sighing, he gazed out of the glass sliding door. As far he could see, the entire world was painted in a deep midnight blue - a sight that calmed him down.
His fingers gripped the sheets as he turned away from the outside world. This was his world. Dark, cold and alone... He wanted to accept it, but his heart urged him not to. It was telling him that he wasn't suited for this type of existence. Something was awaiting him, but he had no recollection what it could be. His future? His happiness? No, he thought. There's nothing like that for me.
He turned to his side and realized he was facing Hikari's present that remains in the velvet box. Pulling it close to him, he extracted the necklace to look at it as he once again return to lying on his back. The silver chain necklace dangled over his face with the two rings hitting against each other. They were beautifully crafted with interlacing detail on the exterior. For such a gift given to him, he couldn't accept it. He did not feel obligated to receive such trinkets and accessories for he was not better or less than they. Why...Why is something so precious given to him...? How meaningful is a gift? Are people foolish to be charitable? Is it out of sympathy or compassion? Is it out of love...? "Love...," he said to himself. "What is love?" His eyes drifted from reality and could only notice the two rings before him. "I don't understand it anymore... What is it...?" Takeru asked the two rings, but nothing had answered him except the silence.
Suddenly the door opened, breaking the light into the dark door. Creeping in was Daisuke as he curiously popped his head in, searching the room. At that moment, Takeru released the necklace out of his hand and caught it before it smacked the dead-center of his face. In a panic, the golden hair boy returned the silver accessory back into its container and shoved in under the pillow. As he sat up, the spiky hair boy flipped in the light switch to Yamato's room, blinding the Bearer of Hope's vision. Rubbing his eyes, Takeru heard the goggle boy said, "What are you doing sitting here in the dark, Takaishi?"
"Nothing...," the blond answered as a yawn escaped his mouth. "What brings you here?"
"Well, I decided to hang with the birthday boy for the time. It's pretty rowdy out there right now, too much for my taste."
"Yeah, I definitely would agree on that."
As Daisuke walked towards him, he closed the door behind him, startling the blond teen. He blinked as he pulled out an office desk chair from Yamato's work area and rolled it to face the Bearer of Hope. Sitting down, his arms set themselves onto his knees as Daisuke let out a long sigh. "Enough about the simple chit-chat. I didn't come to talk to you about your birthday... Please don't be offended by that though."
"I'm not. What is it you wanted to talk about, Daisuke-kun?"
"Well...," he started as he gently scratched his cheek. "You see..."
"Come on, spill it!" Takeru snapped as he shot his enraged eyes at Daisuke. "What is it?"
"Fine then!" The spiky hair boy countered. "What I want to know is what the hell is going on with Ken? That's all!"
Takeru's face softened as he felt his anger diminishing from his heart. "Oh...," he uttered as he rubbed his temple. "Sorry about raising my voice like that," he apologized with a smile. Releasing a small chuckle, he scratched his head. "It's been a rough day."
"Oh... It's okay," Daisuke replied. "So, do you know what's bugging Ken? Did you talk to him before you headed here?"
When he inquired his second question, the golden hair teenager's face became flushed with red. Takeru kept his silence for a short moment and finally said, "Yeah I did spoke with him before coming to the apartment. So what about it?"
"Ken seems so bent that he doesn't seem all that strong enough to do anything and there's something around him that influences that. Not his exact words, but I can tell. Got any ideas about it?"
Blankly staring at the spiky hair boy, the Bearer of Hope did not know how to response. Their confrontation could not have been the cause for that as far as he knew. What could possible make such an ingenious teenage boy conclude that he was not fit to act on his own? Was it insecurity? Was it pressure? Was it expectations? Was it how people believe what caliber he has? The blond could only extract conclusions through his own experiences, let alone Ken Ichijouji's. But was it possible he could be suffering from the same thing? Shaking his head, he wished that wasn't the case, but it was best to make sure.
"Could it be possible he's stressed out?" Takeru suggested.
"I thought that at first as well, but I think there's more to it."
"I don't know. As much as share some empathy for the guy, unfortunately, I don't live his life to know about his problems."
"I rather not think that way. We may find out what is bothering him soon. A person like him shouldn't keep such things to himself. It's not healthy."
"I totally agree."
Takeru stared at the floor, searching for some guidance of his own. Here he was suggesting advice like he knew everything and yet in truth, he was a hypocrite. The blond knew perfectly that the words he had uttered applied to him. But why does he not use these suggestions to benefit himself? Why did he not listen to himself when involving the same situations? Was he ignorant? Was he stubborn? No, it was because he did not want others to see him weak. He was tired of his sensitivity being teased about when he was a child. It was because of that, he hadn't cried since. As far as he could remember, the last time he had cried was when he was eight. And now, he is sixteen, eight years older from then. Has his emotions died since that time? For this question, he knew of no answer.
"What's this?" Daisuke asked, startling the blond. Picking up an orange plastic container, he observed it curiously.
Oh crap! My medication! Takeru's mind screamed. If he finds out, he would definitely tell Hikari-chan and she'll be totally trying to look after me 24/7 if she knew. Quickly, his hand swiped the plastic container away from the spiky hair teen and slipped it back into his pocket. "It's nothing...," the blond lied.
"Are you sick or something?"
"It's nothing serious, really!" Takeru proclaimed as he forced his lips to curve.
The spiky hair boy eyed him suspiciously as he analyzed his complexion. This carefree attitude... This gentle smile... There was something wrong about it, especially how it contrasts the dreary, dark atmosphere he had entered before he shed some light into the room. At this moment he started to understand why Hikari would be worry about him, considering the situation. You better be telling the truth, Takeru or you'll be hurting along with everyone else. But my suspicion is mainly focused on the medicine you have. It's the answer to all of this, most definitely. Paroxetine... What is it?
Hikari sat herself across the Bearer of Kindness slightly as she beamed a "come on, be happy" smile for him. Leaning on one arm, Ken stared at her with a weary look upon his face. Raising an eyebrow, he wondered for what business does she have that might had to involve him. As his eyes tried to ignore her, the chestnut hair girl was reluctant to let him off that easily.
Her hand reached out to him with her index finger protruded out. Poking him, she wished he wasn't so stubborn to ignore her. Annoyed by her resilient motive, he sighed as his eyes became darker by anger. "What do you want, Hikari-chan?"
"Yay! You finally talked!" she exclaimed, which was followed by a giddy laugh.
"Seriously, Hikari-chan...What do you want?" Ken repeated with a much sterner voice. This pestering girl... What is she up to? Why does she want to speak to the Bearer of Kindness? The two of them never actually interacted much, let alone had anything in common. Sure she loves taking pictures of almost everything, but it did not seem very appealing to him. The flatness of touching a photograph made him feel separated from existence. This materialism was a wall between him and his life. To feel left out... To feel isolated from what the others do together from time to time... He saw this through these images. Was he losing himself to his current self? Was he the cause to his own despair?
But this girl before him was nothing like him. She fought for what she wanted and rejected those who tried to stop her from dreaming. That's why she able to live with herself and be happy. If only he could be like her, courageous against the force of people's ideals of him. After all, she is the Light.
"I want to know how you are doing," she kindly gestured. "Your sad-looking mood really got to Daisuke-kun. Are you okay?"
"Heh, 'okay' does not describe even half of what I'm currently feeling."
"Do you want to talk about it? Maybe I can help."
The short hair boy shook his head as he gazed at the table in a daze. "It's something I need to figure out on my own. No offense..."
"You do know you should keep everything bottled up. It might backfire on you."
"Even if you do hear me out, I doubt I'll listen."
Suddenly, the chestnut haired girl giggled seconds later, which disturbed the Bearer of Kindness for a moment. Apparently, he did not understand why she would laugh at the idea of him not listening to other people's opinions although he wished he didn't during some incidents. What is she thinking that makes her smile feel with glee?
"You know who you remind me of?"
"I don't know..."
"Like Takeru-kun," she beamed.
Takeru... The boy who is quite involved with the people around him? The boy who everyone sees as a star athlete and a spectacular student? The boy who manages to be happy at the most surprising times? That Takeru? How can he and I be somewhat alike? I just don't see it. How a person like him could be similar to me? What is it? What is it...?
"You are mistaken," Ken finally replied. "I am nothing like him."
"No, you are wrong, Ichijouji-kun. You are a lot like Takeru-kun..."
END OF CHAPTER THREE
What a way to end a chapter! XD Though while writing this, I was so tempted to have a shounen-ai teaser between Takeru and Daisuke. I practically just gave myself an opening right then and there. ^^; Well, because of this chapter was greatly on focus about Takeru, next chapter would mostly be about Ken! YAY!!! I really try to balance it out between those two so... Yeah.... Now for some explanation on what Daisuke discovered!
Our goggle head, while talking to Takeru, managed to read the label on time before he had it taken away. What he read was paroxetine, better known as Paxil. Paxil is an antidepressant medication that has fewer side effects than other antidepressants out there. Fortunately I get to play around with Takeru's character because of the side effects of this drug. XD Some of the side effects for Paxil are: dry mouth, nausea, nervousness, tiredness, insomnia, and headaches. Therefore, this is the reason why Takeru is rubbing his head a lot in the story. Ken doesn't count since he does the head rubbing thing out of plain stress, which he admits to. A definite plus to Kenny-boy.
History behind Takeru's medication will be told...Definitely not the next chapter but chapter 5 or 6. Hehehe... Anyhoo, why are you still reading this? Review, review, review and look out for chapter 4 very soon! ^_^