after_reason (after_reason) wrote,
after_reason
after_reason

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laying to rest

it's been more than a year, but a wonderfully glorious year - writing-wise.  j-pop fandom has some incredible stories that really revived my passion for writing, and everything - the various bands, their cons and tv shows and the fics tat spawned as a result - all synergistically combined to provide me with countless hours of enjoyable entertainment.

lately it seems tat i have moved on.  for certain individuals shige XDD i still go fangirlflailcrazy and i hope very very much tat i can still unearth tat one last je fic i noe should be within me in time for je_hols. 

unlike these remaining 2 bits tat will most likely always remain as they are.

***

inspired by jason mraz's 'details in the fabric':

It's a day not much different from any other.  The weather was fine on his way to class and the breeze currently sweeping across the campus grounds makes sitting at the university's outdoor cafeteria a relaxing experience. 

Kusano sips at his mocha frappucino and taps a few more words onto the assignment open on his laptop.  As he glances up, he catches sight of a couple of his coursemates and waves them over.  They exchange the usual bitch-&-whine about lecturers, assignments and deadlines until the two girls have to head off to their next class.

After they disappear from view, Kusano leans back in his seat and stares at the blinking cursor on the laptop screen for a few moments before digging his phone out of his pocket.  His organiser tells him he has dance practice this afternoon, followed by dinner with a friend from high school.  Then there's someone else's birthday bash at one of the clubs in Roppongi.  He scrolls through the rest of the days in the week – class, dinner, drinks, class, lunch, group discussions, class.  There's only one other day he has to be at the jimusho for rehearsal and another dance practice.

He's about to snap the phone shut, but then switches over to his message inbox instead.  He reads the latest message again, even though the words are pretty much imprinted upon his memory by now. 

Kusano tosses the phone back on the table and stretches his arms out with his fingers interlocked, enjoying the popping sounds from his elbows and knuckles.  He's always liked working out the kinks in his body, especially after a hard day of work, though nowadays work generally means a few hours rushing out a word document on his computer.

The cursor is still blinking at him when he turns back to his essay.  Without really noticing, his gaze drifts away from the screen again and he's watching the plane in the distance, appearing in the gap between two buildings and then disappearing again.  He realises at least five minutes have gone by when his screensaver kicks in.

All in all, a pretty typical day so far.  Like the one yesterday, and most probably like the one coming tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow.

Kusano ponders this as he drains the remaining half of his mocha frap.  Then he shuts down the computer and shoves it into his bag.  It's about time to head down to the jimusho for the dance practice.  The phone goes back into his pocket, and again, the words from Uchi's mail flit through his mind.

As he walks away from the cafeteria, he wonders when he started thinking that days like these were the norm.

~

“It should be about time for me to go in now.”  Kusano shoulders his backpack as he stands, even the action providing him with some relief from the increasing solemnity descending between the two of them. 

Koyama's fallen progressively silent since ten minutes ago, his expression growing more and more pensive and his answers becoming prompted monosyllables.  Most of the things they could have said had already been said the night before, when Koyama had called Kusano and freaked out when Kusano off-handedly mentioned he'd just started packing. 

Before he knew it, Koyama was ringing his doorbell at ten to midnight and they'd spent the night ransacking his wardrobe, gradually filling in his suitcase and backpack in between exclamations of amazement at things rediscovered and to be reminisced over.  Kusano had awoken from a gritty-eyed sleep by the chiming of the alarm Koyama had set on his phone and they'd had a subdued breakfast with the rest of Kusano's family, after which Koyama had insisted on driving the two of them to Narita.

After checking in, he found Koyama sitting a distance away from the departure gate, where it was a little quieter, the brim of his cap pulled low over his face.  They soon exhausted the general exhortations of being careful in a foreign country, hanging on to one's passport and valuables, the pros and cons of the window versus aisle seat, and the conversation petered out into watching the passers-by bustling back and forth, the majority of them seeming to move with an intent focus, the airport merely a portal for them to pass through in their journey to a final destination.

“Notti...”  Koyama looks up at Kusano from his seat, valiantly trying to smile but not exactly succeeding, and Kusano wants to brush the mournful light out of Koyama's eyes, even though he's probably the sole cause of it.

Ah, at least he still has Shige. 

It's practically automatic to glance past Koyama to catch Shige's eye, to share a conspiratorial look and eye-roll at Koyama's latest 'melodrama', but this time round, the depression is all too real, and the space next to Koyama is vacant.  Kusano's grip on the strap of his backpack tightens.

“Hey, it's not like I'm going to my funeral, Kei.”  The grin comes easily even though he doesn't really mean it – he's had years to practice, and subsequent experiences have only perfected it further.  “And you're coming sometime to visit me, aren't you?”

The corners of Koyama's lips turn up in a more genuine smile this time.  “Of course!  And I'll get Shige to come along as well.”

If Shige was here, he wouldn't be able to get away with this cheerful farce that easily, Kusano thinks. 

“Well, we'll see.” 

He lunges forward and crushes Koyama in a massive hug, giving a couple of thumps on Koyama's back for good measure.  “You better go before people start spotting you.”

Koyama shakes his head.  “Don't worry, I'm no Yamapi.”

Giving up, Kusano turns and makes his way to the departure gate.  When he looks back through the glass after clearing customs, he spies Koyama's tall figure still hovering a little furtively by the gate and makes shoo'ing motions until Koyama finally takes the hint and goes away.

The corridors of the departure hall seem longer and wider, the signs more confusing than they had been when he was here as a group of eight.  He feels he should be more used to it, how spaces seem more echoing, holding less the promise of invitation and adventure but more the threat of uncertainty and rejection.

Is this how Akanishi-kun felt?

A tiny shiver runs down his spine, and he can't decide if it's from anticipation or apprehension.  Finally he finds the sign indicating the direction of his departure gate and steps forward, becoming another one of the throng leaving for a better place.

~

He's probably been coming to the club too often if the bouncer just waves him in without a second glance.  It's not very crowded tonight despite the midnight hour having come and gone, and he sees Jin at his usual booth, slouched halfway down the seat with his long legs stretched out in front of him.

Kusano grabs a beer at the bar before heading over.  Jin looks up and gives a little wave.  “Hey, Pi can't make it.  Some last-minute meeting for the drama.”

Kusano shrugs his indifference – Yamapi has always been busy, even from day one of being in NewS. Also left unspoken is how he can be a slightly different person without the presence of the (ex?-)leader of his band. 

“Where are the others?”

“Ryo-chan's being anti-social tonight.  Yuu's over there.” Jin gestures at the dance floor with the cigarette in his hand, where Shirota's grinding to the beat with a couple of girls.  “Not joining them?” he asks Kusano as he settles down in the booth as well.

“Nah, had enough of dancing today,” Kusano answers, slumping back in a mimic of Jin's posture.  He declines Jin's offer of a cigarette and they sit in lazy silence for a few minutes.

“Why did you go to L.A., Akanishi-kun?”  He glances left to see Jin watching him with the blank expression he usually reserves for public appearances.  Kusano looks away first, unable to penetrate the mask to Jin's thoughts underneath – years and fame have cemented Jin's self-control, and the days of 'Summary' are too far away.

Jin stubs out his cigarette and returns to his drink.  “And you're asking because?”

Kusano hesitates, unsure of whether to be frank.  He's never exactly been that close to Jin, knowing him more from his association with Yamapi and Kame (for a time) than through any genuine connection.  Yet recently, he's been finding it easier to talk to Jin than the others.  Jin doesn't judge, when he's in serious-mode, is objective and surprisingly incisive at getting to the heart of the matter.  Kusano doesn't feel the weight of past baggage burdening their conversations.

“Maybe it's time for a bit of change – the exchange program at my university just opened for applications.”

“What about NewS?”

“What about them?  I doubt my departure's going to impact them much.”  Kusano tilts his head back against the cushions, staring into the darkness obscuring the ceiling.

“Uchi's already been re-launched.  Maybe something will be coming up for you soon.” 

Kusano turns around to look hard at Jin, but there's no unwanted sympathy in the other's eyes.  “Maybe I'm tired of 'maybe's.”

Jin nods, tipping his glass slightly in Kusano's direction in acknowledgment.  “Fair enough.”  He drains his glass and stands up, easing out of the booth.  “I'm gonna get another drink.”

Kusano watches Jin's back disappear into the crowd, the words 'fair enough' echoing in this head.

***

j-dorama crossover tat was not meant to be:

The world changes, in the blink of an eye, on the pause of surprise, with the half-hearted breath of laughter, and the lilt of rejection when Riichiro says but Sousuke, this was never meant to last.

~

They met when Riichiro stepped up to the information counter of the district's Child Welfare Division office where Sousuke was working.  He had handed Sousuke, who was on counter duty that day, his queue number and said he had an appointment with Sousuke's superior, Tanimura.  But Tanimura-san was running late from a previous meeting and Sousuke remembered Riichiro sitting at the back of the waiting area for the next half hour, laptop open upon his knees and an earphone plugged discreetly into one ear, a point of constancy in the ebb and flow of people in the busy lobby.

Their paths crossed again two days later when Tanimura-san stopped in front of Sousuke's cubicle with Riichiro in tow.  Riichiro was a third-year law student doing research for an assignment on child protection laws, and had asked for special permission to follow a social worker on a few of their home visits in order to observe the actual process of how a case of child abuse or neglect would be determined.  Tanimura-san handed over Sousuke the files containing his latest caseload, along with the responsibility of babysitting their visitor.

Sousuke looked up from the black-and-white-chequered fabric of Riichiro's shirt as Riichiro came forward.  Riichiro was smiling, and there was recognition in his eyes when their gazes met. 

~

The ground isn't moving when he draws back, the couch and table aren't trembling when he pushes off of Riichiro and ends up by the window.  The glass is perfectly still under his fingers but a yawning black chasm is opening up within him, even more frightening and intense for its familiarity.  Riichiro's palm comes to rest upon his shoulder – hey... Sousuke, it shouldn't have come out like that, are you – but he can't hear the words anymore, he can only feel the rumbling of pointless platitudes, hollow phrases of empty meaning that still fall like solid bricks, battering relentlessly upon the seal he'd placed over the corner of his heart where childhood ghosts seethed.

~

Riichiro was a quiet, polite presence, trailing behind Sousuke throughout the day as Sousuke hurried from address to address, criss-crossing the various neighbourhoods in an effort to cover as many homes as possible.  It was one of those days, when his name list was more than full, with two of his colleagues  away, one on leave and the other down with the flu.  He barely had time to grab some onigiri from the train station, Riichiro brushing away his apologies for not being able to have a sit-down lunch.

It was half-past six when they left the last house, to the rays of the setting sun, and walked towards the bus stop at the end of the street at a more sedate pace.  Sousuke boarded the bus after Riichiro, following his direction instead of the other way around for the first time that day.  A blank space occupied the zone where his thoughts and attention should have been and by the time he came to his senses, they were standing outside a cosy-looking ramen place, most of its tables filled with the evening crowd.

It was obviously a restaurant Riichiro frequented, from the way he greeted the servers and a couple of the customers as they entered.  They slurped up their noodles perched on the countertop, and Riichiro conducted his own interview, asking Sousuke about his work experiences, his motivations for becoming a social worker, why he chose to work with children, especially when it was an area generally seen as more suitable for women.

Sousuke couldn't remember when was the last time someone had watched him with such interest, paid such close attention to what he had to say.  His hometown had been a small place, and people's memories were long there – the ostracism, the apathy, the contemptuous whispers dogging him all the way to college.  Sousuke had felt like he could finally breathe again when the train had taken him away from its grey narrow twisting streets and the smell of the sea.

Even so, the reticence he'd developed like so much armour was hard to shed, and he'd found his days consumed by work and solitary nights staring blankly at the television screen, his latest culinary achievement only half-eaten upon the table.

This was the first time he'd had dinner with someone his age in months, apart from the welcome and farewell dinners that were part and parcel of working life.  The novelty of it, combined with Riichiro's gregariousness, left a strange warmth settling in Sousuke's heart, and he found himself inexplicably opening up to Riichiro.

...
...
...

~

He resurfaces in a different world when his vision clears and the rage and panic recede.  Riichiro is sprawled awkwardly against the back of the couch, face turned away and a trickle of blood trailing from the corner of his mouth.  He remains frozen, arms hanging leadenly beside his body as if they were not his own, as Riichiro gradually pushes himself up on his elbows and gingerly probes at his jaw.  It's not safe for either of our careers if we continue seeing each other after I graduate, I'm sorry if I made you think any differently.  He stares into Riichiro's eyes, so dark and beautiful, so full of conviction.

~

Riichiro started turning up at his apartment more and more, initially for help on his assignment and later to 'borrow Sousuke's premises' for the peace and quiet so he could study for his exams, and then, much later on, just because.  Riichiro was from out of town as well, and he lived on-campus in the student dormitories, sharing a cramped space with another fellow student because it was all he could really afford on his student allowance.

Sousuke gradually found himself getting used to checking his phone at the end of the day to see whether Riichiro was going to drop by, heading round to the conbini to buy a couple of six-packs, or once in a while, bottles of sake, before returning home.  Riichiro would arrive soon after, sometimes with take-out for the both of them, sometimes with the ingredients that he would buy in return for Sousuke making him dinner. 

Riichiro almost always never left until the next day, much preferring to spend his evenings and nights relaxing on Sousuke's couch.  They would trade stories about their first impressions of Tokyo, share their outraged incredulity at the ridiculously high cost of living, poke fun at some of the local customs and mannerisms.  Sousuke also liked listening to Riichiro's tales of his lecturers or classmates, of his experiences at this or that hearing, how his performance during his mock trials went.

...

One morning Sousuke woke up to light from the morning sun, filtered through the off-white curtains, softly illuminating his bedroom.  Slowly, he crawled out of the cocoon of covers and stood up, stretching his arms as he padded across the living area towards the bathroom.  There was rustling from the direction of the couch while he was in the middle of brushing his teeth and he glanced out to see Riichirou uncurl from the mound of bedding and sit up.

A sleepy smile broke over Riichirou's face when their eyes met as he mumbled 'good morning', the tail end of his greeting disappearing in a yawn, and Sousuke realised with a lurch that he was beginning to forget the days when he had to wake up alone in his apartment.

~

He turns the lights on after Riichiro leaves, even though outside it's bright and sunny, the middle of high summer.  The artificial illumination helps erase all the shadows in the nooks and corners where the ghosts of Riichiro's words (I you can't stand in the way of your my dreams, Sousuke) might lurk, helps hold at bay the memories of love (unnatural love, love that's untrue) created under the cover of darkness.

~

Fall came, bringing with it the start of the school term and the year's worst storms.  The downpour had started halfway through dinner, and appeared to go from strength to strength as they washed up and put away the dishes.

...
...
...

Now he has to reconstruct these pieces of shattered dreams but as much as he tries, there always seems to be a fragment missing.

~

The young lady rushes up to where Sousuke's waiting near the entrance to the building's lobby, short hair a little mussed from her half-run and jacket slightly askew, apologising for keeping him waiting.  She hitches her handbag higher over her shoulder and bows automatically as she reaches out to accept the envelope Sousuke is giving her.

Sousuke demurs, mouthing the obligatory courtesies - it's not a problem, Doumoto-san – as long as the information we provide can help you better fight your case.  But Doumoto's already pulling out the reports from the envelope and swiftly scanning the details, her face lighting up with relief and a determined hope.

Thanking Sousuke profusely, she bows again in gratitude, clutching the precious documents to her chest.  Sousuke acknowledges her thanks with a smile and turns to leave.

He's reached the steps leading down from the office building and the glass doors are just about to slide shut behind him when he hears the voice calling Doumoto's name.  Sousuke's eyes widen as he spins around.

Doumoto's walking up to Riichiro, standing at the corridor leading into Emza's offices with a small frown on his face, Doumoto!  Why did you suddenly run out like that?, which turns into a semi-exasperated grin when she sheepishly admits that she only remembered at the last minute she was having additional supporting information delivered from the child welfare office.

There's a fondness in Riichiro's expression as Doumoto approaches him, and Sousuke can see the easy way in which Riichiro leans towards her when she shows him the photocopied evidence, the look of purpose they share with each other. 

The remnants of a dream disintegrate, and the handle of Sousuke's briefcase grinds painfully against the bones of his hand as he watches Riichiro and Doumoto disappear further into the building.

~

He burns the last of the gel candles but accidentally knocks it over as he gets up.  The gel spills a burning stripe across the skin of his inner forearm, searing it red almost instantly.  The flame gutters out as the bottle thunks upon the floor, rolling desultorily across the wood until it ends up gently rocking against the edge of the couch, leaving a trail of colourless liquid gel behind it.

Tags: character: kusano, character: ryo/shige, fandom: j-ent
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