The first time I saw him I was young, I was still full of foolish youth and happiness, that happened to be sometime in the later 11th century, far too long for me to remember the date now, what with calendar changes too. I was still alive, and even though I could see the dead, that didn't come up much, not like I had any friends to chat with anyways. It was one of those days for me, the type of day where I just didn't feel like attending my tutoring lessons, so I had popped over and into the city in order to hang out with the one person who knew what I could see.
"Hey Mr. H, what's up today?" It was a good thing that he didn't mind me walking in unannounced usually, because that is just what I did.
"The fact that you should learn to knock every once and a while. I have company Yoshiya," came the terse reply. Ah, apparently today was not a good day to go unannounced after all.
"Hey Hanekoma, who are you talking to?" said a voice belonging to a young boy, no more than 13, as he walked into the room, absolutely covered in paint.
"A friend of mine, of the sorts, his name is Yoshiya, and Yoshiya, this is my newest pupil, Neku, who is already very skilled when it comes to art."
"Well Neku, nice to meet you, or at least it is nice to meet you if I can assume that you won't dislike me later."
"And why would I have reason to dislike you Yoshiya?" How cute, the orange haired kid was curious.
With a look at Sanae, questioning whether I should say my reasons or not, I continued. "Ah, no reason, I mean my tutor thinks I am an insane and problematic child, no matter how well I learn, that is why I tend to end up here after all, skipping lessons can be relaxing sometimes."
"You're skipping again Yoshiya?" Sanae sighed, shaking his head softly at me. "It's almost as if the private tutor is a complete waste of time for your family."
"Ah well, you know how it is, talk to dead people in front of someone once and they tend to think that you are a bit crazy." I laughed, watching Neku to see how that would go over with him. I was not disappointed.
Slow shock spread across his face, mouth hanging open as he tried to find words, and I was merely smirking right at him. "You-you see ghosts? That is a very interesting fact."
"Nah, not ghosts, close enough though I guess, I mean not everyone can see them and stuff." I had a feeling that my casual chit chat might be throwing him off a bit, that was kinda the point though, no need to get close to people if I repelled them all with an abrasive personality.
"Either way… I don't quite see why it would make you crazy… I mean it is odd and weird yeah, but I mean sometimes I hear Hanekoma talking to people who aren't there too, so I have a feeling that you two are the same in that area." Dear god this kid was too innocent and kind.
"Wow, I didn't think the old man here so openly chatted with people when others were in the building, that must be why you are losing business rather quickly then I take it."
Sanae just sighed and shook his head again, standing and speaking. "I am gonna go make food, feel free to chat about whatever you two like. Neku, it is your break anyways." He exited the room.
"And now that he is gone, feel free to tell me how insane you think I actually am, because clearly I am, talking to dead people is not normal at all." I just had to go and be even more of a sarcastic bastard, even though this kid seemed nice, clearly I am not used to the concept of friendships.
"I still don't think you are really insane, I mean I have heard of others seeing ghosts-well dead people, before. It is like seeing spirits or deities, not common, pretty rare, but not unheard of. If anything it just makes you more interesting." Cue the smile, oh god that smile, I have no clue how he manages to smile like that, with his eyes brightly shining, so full of life, and his teeth exposed, kind and happy, the exact opposite of what I have grown used to, being surrounded by dead people and all.
"Well, you are certainly the first person to think that, maybe after this whole art session you could come chill with me back at my house."
I was always being told to make friends, and here was my chance. This Neku kid was my age, nice, and didn't think I was insane, so I figured I should do what I could to keep him while he was like this, though I figured eventually he would find me insane just like the rest.
"Sure, I mean, if you can manage to avoid your tutor there I mean, where do you live anyways?"
"The Shibuya castle, I am the nephew of the current master of the place, and my family, the Kiryu's, reside there with the Shibuya's."
"Wait… You live there!? Aren't the Kiryu's and Shibuya's like, nobles or something?" I loved seeing the shock on peoples faces whenever I said this, and his was no exception.
"Close your mouth a bit Neku, letting your jaw hang open that much could invite insects into it. Yes, I am a nobleman, to be honest I don't really care much about that though, not like I am ever going to have a big position of power or anything."
"Huh? Why not? I mean you are a noble, I am sure there is something you are gonna end up doing here."
"Eh, probably not, I may be the eldest of my siblings but according to some my blood isn't pure." Being the bastard child of the family was always such fun.
"Don't worry, I mean nobody knows unless I say it, or stand by my family. I mean everyone else has the more normal black hair brown eyes thing, yet here I am, with all my blond hair and blue eyes and all their gloriousness. It is clear that I would never fit into the family dynamic well."
"About your hair… It looks really soft, can I feel it?"
Neku I swear you are the biggest dork I have ever met, I thought. "I don't see why not, though I don't often get asked that."
He walked closer to me and I bent down so that he could feel my hair, taking note of our height differences, of course I was always tall for my age.
"Heh, I was right, it is really soft, I like it," he said after a moment, giving me space again as I straightened my back.
"Thanks… So anyways, what do you say? Wanna head over to my place or not?" What am I even supposed to do when someone tells me that my hair is soft? Getting back on topic felt like the right strategy.
"My my, moving a bit fast are you? I mean we just met ten minutes ago and you are already inviting me over to your castle." Okay scratch the part where this kid was innocent.
"You make it sound as if you don't want to see my castle Neku, and here I thought you might want to, hehe."
"Are you two flirting in there?" called Sanae from the kitchen, "Because if you are then take it outside, Neku you can be done if you want I guess."
"See ya tomorrow then Hanekoma!" said Neku as he walked out the door, with me right behind him of course.
"Things I have learned today: castles are huge, you have the worst tutor in the world, the staff at the Shibuya castle literally do not care about what goes on, and you see dead people and feel like chatting to them often."
"Really Neku? That is all you have learned? I mean we played a great game of running from adults and avoiding people, it really pissed them off I think, but it also goes to show that castles have a ton of hiding places."
"Well I also learned that you have a tendency to avoid anyone related to you, your dad especially, it shows when you keep commenting on how if we go a certain way we will run into him." Neku looked at me, and I rolled my eyes.
"My dad is annoying, simple as that, I don't like my family much, nothing more to it." I lied, I was good at lying, and Neku didn't have to know the details anyways.
"Fine, I will take your word on that, but really if I keep standing here I will be in big trouble for not being home on time, see ya…?" He looked at me questioningly, as if to ask if it would be okay to come back.
"Hmm, tomorrow I should focus on my lessons, but how about in three days?" I smiled.
"Great, I will just head for the big looming castle to find my way back here then, haha." With that, he took off, and I watched him go, sitting on the grass, even after he was out of sight, a fond smile still on my face.
That is, until my dad found me.
"Well, don't you look happy for someone who skipped out on the lessons I so very kindly pay for. Tell me again why I keep you around please?" said he, grabbing my arm and pulling me up and into a standing position.
"You keep me around because if you didn't I would be able to leave and tell everyone how I am actually the eldest of the kids, messing up your line, and causing general chaos, so you keep me here to protect yourself. Which is why I suggest keeping me happy, otherwise I might just leave."
"You little brat! You seem to have the idea in your head that you are important, but one wrong move and I swear I will abandon you, make you wish you had never been born at all." He tossed me to the ground again, but I stood back up,feeling the sting in my hands from the impact.
"Actually, I am fully expecting to have more fun in death than in life, currently though I am trying to find someone to join me. In other news I made a friend today, despite you telling me that it was a hopeless case."
"Well I hope you and that orange haired kid had fun today, after all I am going to see to it that you and him don't spend more time together, because you will most assuredly screw up this too. Really I am just trying to save you the pain."
I stood there silently. What if I really did do something to screw up my new friendship with Neku? I could easily do that, I had done it before when I tried to make friends, I ruined everything and everyone I touched according to my dad, and the evidence supporting this all held up.
Still, even as I was dragged to my room and tossed into it, I resolved to find another way to spend my time with Neku, after all, I hadn't screwed this up yet and I wanted to at least try to do something right for a change. Eventually, though my thoughts wandered, sleep came to me, and it all faded away as I entered a dream.