Konpeitou : Wow, this took a really long time to get out, I'm really sorry about that. Thank you to everyone who reviewed! Also thanks to Somebody Else who reviewed after the story was a little old and reminded me that I hadn't finished the thing. This is definitely the last chapter. Couldn't think of where to take it and wouldn't have time to even if I could, what with school and all that. Again, thank you all for reading my story!
I inhale deeply and release the air again in a contented sigh. It was such a beautiful day and the peace was most definitely welcome. Letting my head recline back against my shoulders, I stare at the pure crystalline blue sky, with its lacings of snowy white wisps of clouds, with a lazy smile. Just enough of the powder clouds cover the sun to save my eyes from burning with strain, yet not so much as to detract from the marvelous shine. Intellectually, yes, I know that the gentle breeze caressing my skin and hair and brushing the grass in slow waves isn't real. That the warmth I feel from above is just a digital recreation and the sensations are fed into my own digital body, my mind deciding what it thinks I should feel. As much as I know it in my mind, and as many times as I've reminded myself over the years, I'm not sorry my body refuses to listen. This day is beautiful; this place is beautiful, and I love it as much as ever, if not more.
I sigh again, happily, and roll my head back around to stare instead at the familiar weight in my lap. Warm eyes are heavy-lidded and a childish smile plays on the generous lips. Bronze skin glows softly in the gentle light and little wisps of hair sway in the breeze caressing us both. I let my eyes roam the length, starting at the impossibly burgundy hair – though, considering mine is blue, I suppose 'impossible' isn't really a correct term – with the well-loved set of goggles nestled just above the hairline, down to the smooth tanned skin of his face, surrounding beautiful hazel eyes and a perfect mouth just below the pert nose. The slender column of the neck is bare of any accessories and moves every so slightly as he breathes. Over the years, we've gained a bit more control over our clothing when we come here, and Daisuke is wearing what he has dubbed his 'summer outfit'. His shirt this time is an orange tee and over it is a black vest rather than his old bomber jacket, though the vest still sports the trademark flames along the bottom hem. The ever-present cargo shorts are still present, though more towards the lighter khaki shade than before. His gloves are gone, completely unsuited to the beautiful weather, and instead there are a few bracelets that he wears back in the real world adorning his wrists.
Smiling fondly, I shift my weight to one arm behind me and free the other to gently brush a few stray strands away from his eyes. When he blinks and smiles slowly up at me, I know he's as lethargic as I am right now.
"I've missed this," he murmurs drowsily, turning his attention the sky I had been studying moments ago. "We should do this more often, Ken."
"Un," I agree softly, amused as my fingers continue to draw slowly along the side of his face and back up again in feather-light touches. It probably tickles, because after a few moments his nose wrinkles slightly and one tan hand comes up to capture my own, pulling it back down to rest against his chest in a light grip.
"You and your damn girlfriends," Daisuke protests, but there is no real force behind it; we're too happy, right now. He yawns and turns his attention back to me, "Speaking of which, how is what's-her-name doing?" I smile a bit more; he never remembers their names, and sometimes I have a sneaking suspicion that he doesn't care because he'd prefer that they didn't exist at all. At least in our lives, at any rate. Or perhaps he just knows me too well and has decided it's not worth the effort.
"Kiyumi," I remind him, though I'm still smiling slightly, "And I don't know."
In an instant, his smile fades and he turns in my lap to stare at me with a surprised and mildly suspicious look. "What?" Daisuke asks, though I bet he already knows what I'm going to say. I sigh, we've been through this so many times now I almost feel numb and amused by it. Almost.
"We broke up," I clarify, and by his expression I know he's not surprised. Not that I really expected him to be. He rests his head more comfortably in my lap again, though still keeps his focus on me. He's wide awake now and his smile is gone; I sigh, totally killed the mood.
"Who?" he asks. Daisuke doesn't need to elaborate; it's the same question every time.
"Her, of course," I answer, moving my fingers gently against his, which still rest on his chest.
"Same as the others?"
Daisuke takes his other arm and wraps it awkwardly up over his head and around the back of my waist in a sort of hug. I smile down at him, but it's not quite as heartfelt as before so I lean down towards him and he reaches up to meet me in a chaste kiss. "It's okei, Ken, they just don't understand." We settle back again and fall into silence as we watch the clouds drift by.
He really does know me best, I muse, he already knows what happened. Same as the others, indeed. It was always the same, they always wanted more from me than I could give, and in the end they all leave me, disappointed. I never dump them; no, it was always the other who dumped me.
That thought carried a mixture of emotions with it: sadness, regret, hurt, amusement, relief, and more all wrapped up in a heavy dose of nostalgia. So much had happened those years ago at her birthday party. After a few days of guilt, we had confessed that it had all been a prank, and we weren't really in love with each other like we had led her to believe. That of course, had gotten us in even more trouble. Miyako hadn't even spoken more than a few words to either of us in over four months! Eventually she had forgiven us, and I think part of the reason was because of the way Daisuke and I had changed. That party had more of an impact on us – and our relationship – than either of us had ever expected.
Daisuke had become bicurious and started experimenting before being openly bisexual after about a year. I was also curious, but before long I found that I was still completely straight. I happen to very much like girls, thank you. Miyako had calmed down quite a bit after the incident, and I gave it a shot with her. It went well for a while, it really did. I think we had lasted neigh eight months before Miyako finally admit to the harsh truth she had been denying: I couldn't love her like she loved me. I thought it was just because we were friends first, and always would be to me, but every girl after that was the same. I just can't feel deeply for them, not like they want and need.
And yet, through it all was Daisuke. My beloved best friend. It was strange, really, guys do absolutely nothing for me, no attraction whatsoever. But Daisuke, ah Daisuke! When it comes to Daisuke, I easily enjoy being with him and find myself attracted to him. We even had a short relationship during the time that Miyako was ignoring us, though it eventually broke off, mutually. And through all the years we've had a strange sort of relationship with each other. For instance, we don't date each other yet we kiss and touch each other as easily as if we did. No matter what we do together, there is never any expectations, no strings attached. Daisuke's words had proved to be very apt, we already love each other more than anyone and we're so close that we don't need the ties of a relationship. We go out, and we date other people, and there is still always each other if we want or need it.
We even lost our virginity to each other.
It actually proves to work out quite well when we're stressed or especially frisky and don't have anyone else. Not to say that we're last resorts to each other. Hardly, oft times I'd prefer to go to Daisuke than my current girlfriend of the moment, but neither of us are the type to cheat. It's a strange kind of relationship, and an even stranger kind of love, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I think I love him more than I could possibly love any girlfriend, and the freedom we have is just that much better. They can never seem to understand that I will never be capable of loving them to the extent that they desire, and in the end they always give up. I sigh, maybe it's all just a lost cause.
"You're thinking again."
The quiet words break me out of my thoughts and I look down again to see Daisuke staring up at me with an amused smile. He's always so proud of the fact that he can read me so well. Hell, no one else can. I smile back and shift a little to free my other arm from behind me and bring it around to run through the short burgundy spikes. The eyelids flutter slightly and a small contented sound bubbles past his lips. I can't help but chuckle and run my hand through it again. It's one of Daisuke's weak spots, and one that I love to exploit.
I really would never have thought he'd be so sensitive with his hair, if I hadn't learned better a few years ago. Most people seem to think that because I have somewhat long hair that I would be the one that loves to have hands running through it. Admittedly, I do enjoy the feeling a great deal, but not nearly so much as darling Daisuke. For him, the feeling is near to bliss. We had figured it was because his hair was so short that he enjoyed it so much; after all, longer hair must be brushed constantly and held out of the way and there are always people wanting to touch it, but for short hair there is no need. His hair is so short that it rarely requires the attention of a brush and never gets in the way and very rarely do people have a desire to just run their fingers through the silky-soft spikes. But I do; I find it highly enticing to feel that softness and see the euphoric expression blossom on his face.
Carefully slipping the goggles down around his neck, I continue to run my fingers through his hair gently, putting a little pressure where I move. "You're all but purring, Daisuke," I tease, stopping my hand to curl lightly at the base of his scalp. My nails aren't as long as many girls keep theirs, but they are long and strong enough to make for a very nice scratch. Daisuke arches slightly and emits a very pleased sound, drawing a short laugh from me. Kami-sama, I love seeing him like this, I think as I continue to let my fingers roam.
Daisuke blinks up at me and flashes a sunny smile. "I love you Ken."
I falter for a brief second at the words; the same words we have said to each other so many times, but they struck a chord in me this time, somehow. I look back at him with a small, weak smile. "Only you, Daisuke." I murmur. Immediately, he sits upright again, scooting until he is right beside me and staring at me with a concerned expression. I let my hand rest in my now-empty lap while the other is still held by Daisuke in the grass between us. Damn, there goes the happy mood again. Immediately I miss the warmth.
"What do you mean by that?" he asks me, and I feel somewhat guilty for that worried voice and expression. A slight breeze comes and I toss the hair out of my eyes with a sigh.
"You're the only one who loves me, Dai." I explain reluctantly; I really should have just kept my mouth shut. I know how he'll react to my admissions.
"That's not true!" he protests firmly, like I knew he would. His hand tightens on mine a little and he gets a suddenly fierce expression. "I'm not the only one, Ken. What about your parents? And our friends, they all love you, too. So many people love you–"
"No," I interrupt, and have to look away from his emotional eyes, "Many people are infatuated with me and think they love me, and that's not what I meant, anyway. They're family and friends. It's different…" I trail off, not even sure of what I'm trying to say either. Yet somehow, Daisuke must know because after a few silent moments I dare to look back at him his expression has changed to calm and understanding.
"You… really liked her, didn't you." Daisuke whispers, not so much a question as an unsure observation. I bark out a short laugh at that, shaking my head sadly. Liked her?
"No," I reply, bitterly. "No, I didn't really like her. That was the problem; that's always the problem. I never 'really like' any of them, let alone love them." I break off and turn my face away, staring intently at my legs with my hair hanging in a curtain around me, hiding me. I'm doomed to be alone forever. I didn't even realize I spoke my thoughts aloud until I felt Daisuke suddenly release my hand and grip my shoulders firmly, forcing me to look up at him in surprise.
"Not alone," he whispers fiercely, his eyes burning into mine, willing me to listen to him, to believe him. "Never alone, Ken. Never. No matter what, there's always me. You will always have me." He brings one hand up to curl around my cheek, brushing lightly with his thumb, and I can feel my eyes burn. "I will never leave you, Ken. Never ever."
I nod, not knowing what to say and not entirely sure I'd trust my voice if I did, and he leans forward to give me a tender kiss. It is chaste and asks for nothing and still I lean into it more. The one who deepens the kiss is me, throwing my arms around his waist and clinging desperately to the comfort I know he is offering me, the comfort that is always there. The kiss becomes frantic and heated and I don't care about anything but that I have him; I can feel him and taste him and simply kissing him makes me feel more excited than any girl I have ever dated or even met. The simple fact that he makes me feel is intoxicating and endearing.
Abruptly, he loses his precarious balance falls backwards onto the grass. Our kiss breaks apart and I gasp slightly in surprise as I land on top of him. My legs protest painfully from their twisted position and one arm aches where it rests between our two bodies, clutching that stylized vest. Before I have a chance to shift, I feel the chest below my cheek rumble and shake with suppressed laughter. As the shaking continues and I hear a few chuckles escape, I shift enough to send a look of confusion tinged with mild annoyance at Daisuke. He catches my expression and I raise an eyebrow at the suspiciously large grin he sports.
"To this day," he murmurs between chuckles, "I can't decide whether Gravity loves us or hates us." Having said so, his mirth returns and he bursts into a fit of laughter, which I join. I wonder that myself, sometimes; as silly as it is to contemplate a natural force of the universe as being sentient and even playing favorites with two insignificant boys, it's an amusing thought. Together, our bodies shudder at sheer absurdity.
"Mmm," I murmur as our humor dies down, taking the opportunity to shift myself into a more comfortable position. I stretch out so that I am half draped across him, arms crossed over his chest and my head pillowed on the back of my palms as I listen to the rhythmic beating of his heart in time with my own.
"Do you feel better now, Ken?" he asks after a few extended moments of comfortable silence. I turn my head so that my chin is resting on my hands and stare back at him. he folds his arms behind his head to prop himself up and save himself some neck strain as he stares back and waits for a reply. I can tell that he's expecting one, of some kind.
"A little," I reply honestly, offering a small smile, "But the problem is still the same, still there. It won't go away. But for now, yes, I feel better. Doumo ne."
Funny how the mind works, the lines that a train of thought will follow. I actually can't even remember most of the rapid thoughts that led me to my current one just now. Amidst my resigned thoughts of perpetual loneliness and musings of finding a female Daisuke and even the idle wonder of Daisuke in drag, another thought struck me.
"You know," I begin, drawing his attention and making a poor attempt to hide my amused smirk. "If you were a girl, I'd probably want to marry you." His eyes widen minutely and one dark eyebrow rises.
"I would marry you anyway." Daisuke returns, and while his lips are curved his eyes are startlingly serious. I raise myself up to look at him, searching desperately, but there is no hidden joke that I can see. Suddenly I'm afraid; I downright panic. This is wrong, it's not right, it's not fair! He shouldn't love me so much. He can't. It's not fair to him to love me more than I can love back. I can't return that much! Panic settles itself in my heart, making it thick and heavy until my ribs ache with the weight of it.
"Ken!" the sharp call pulls my attention back and I face his searing eyes painfully, all the words and thoughts flooding back into my mind as I look at him. He can't love me!! Absently I notice that although his breathing is calm, his chest is pounding below my palms with my ragged breaths and anxious heart. "Ken, stop it." He commands me, but my thoughts are too wild and I can't seem to obey. "I know what you're doing, now stop. Don't get into all that 'I'm not worthy' bullshit that you're no doubt telling yourself. I know you, Ken. I know you. I know what you feel, what you can feel and what you can't. I accept that and it doesn't change how I feel. I love you, and it's fine how it is." Daisuke smiled gently and I could feel our hearts slow their rapid pace. "Don't try to change yourself, Ken. You are best as yourself, and the Ken that you are now is the Ken that I care about more than anything."
"Arigatou," I whisper, collapsing back onto his firm chest and burying my face in the material of his flamed vest. Over and over I whisper it, barely aware. How? How can he do it, know just what to say to sooth all my fears away like it was nothing at all? Daisuke, he who speaks first and consults with his brain after, he of perpetual naïveté, he who is my only true source of happiness in life. Just a few simple words, things that I had always known, deep down, but it felt so good to have them spoken aloud, to have it all confirmed. As I cling desperately to him my mind rails at the cruelty of it all. Why? Why do we both have to be male? Why am I so tangled in the life of my best friend? I used to want to kill him and now I can't bear even the thought of life without him. What cruel joke of fate led me to love the one person I could probably never have? It's not fair! Why?! My mind screams, and only a few weak whimpers make it past my lips. Why only him?
But a part of me knows the answer to that question, chides me and whispers soothingly the words that terrify me more than I'm willing to admit, even to myself. I love him because he is my best friend, not in spite of it. I love him because he knows the real me, has seen past all the masks and stood by what he found beneath. He has seen all the sadistic tendencies I try so hard to keep buried and offered his hand with a forgiving smile; he didn't deny it or try to change it, just accepted and moved on. He has seen me break down into a writhing, sobbing, suicidal mass of depression and crawled down to meet me, wrapping me in warmth and security until I could stand again with him on my own. He has seen the depths of my self-loathing and guilt and didn't flinch away.
And I've seen him.
I've seen through the jester that everyone knows. I've seen the deep insecurity and sadness that had spent so many years growing in his heart that it has taken years to begin to overcome and I stood behind him, ready to catch him if he fell into it. I've seen his utter loneliness even surrounded by people and the sheer terror that being alone causes and I touched him firmly, I never let go until he felt secure enough to face everything again. I've seen him slip towards depression, alone and unnoticed, but I followed him down, took the weight and cried together in solitude. I've seen the rage that boils beneath the surface as deeply as my own sadism, kept on a tight leash until it erupts in a storm of violence and hatred where the desire to strike out at anything and everything overrides all else and I withstood the fury, watched and waited and soothed blood and wounds when it passed.
He could hurt me at any time, just as I can hurt him when my sadism spikes, but I know he won't and I won't. Even when our minds are lost in hatred and desire enough remains; we are not really into self-mutilation, how could we ever hurt someone who is so much a part of ourselves? Impossible. We've never run, neither of us has ever run from the darkness we've seen in each other. I do not love him because he has helped me when I was broken and always been by my side, it is not some petty love derived from gratitude. No, I do love him because he accepts me for who I am but also because I have seen who he is and can accept that, too.
"Ai shite'ru yo," I murmur, firm and heartfelt, the words that are the center of truth to me. "More than anyone, I love you Daisuke." Deeper than friends, deeper than family, deeper than anything I know a word for, I love him. His arm tightens around me briefly and he stretches to place a kiss on the top of my head.
"Ore mo ai shite'ru yo, Ken," he replies, then after a few long moments he speaks again, a slight note of insecurity coloring his voice. "Ken. If, in a few years, you still haven't found the girl you want…. I'll be here. I'll marry you if you want to." His voice is soft and a little hesitant but I know he's telling the truth. I don't move and smile into his chest, reveling in the love and the feeling of his hand moving across my back.
"What about your girlfriend?" I ask, then add on as an afterthought, "Or boyfriend." His hand comes up to play at the base of my neck and I can tell he's smiling even though I'm not in a position to see it.
"Doesn't matter," he tells me, "It doesn't matter if I'm with someone. To me, no one could ever compare to you.
This time I do rise up, searching those caramel eyes for something indefinable and finding only the truth. Not that he's ever lied to me, that's one of the many misconceptions about Daisuke; he never lies unless he has absolutely no choice. And he's never lied to me. Somehow, his words this time don't frighten me quite so much. There is still the feeling of inadequacy, feeling that I don't love him enough, but I can get past it. He knows how I feel and if that is enough for him, I won't argue the point… much.
My only response is to pull myself up and kiss him gently, flashing a heartfelt smile, and giving the answer that I know he's trying hard not to expect. "Thank you, Dai. No one has ever been able to compare to you, either. Most likely no one ever will." I nod firmly, decisively. "A few years, then. In a few more years we can finally be happy." I kiss the brilliant smile on his lips and settle back onto his chest, cradled in his arms. The word 'together' seemed to hang unspoken in the air to me and I wonder if he heard it too. It was a strange phrasing I admit, but as I examine it in my mine I come to the conclusion that I was speaking more from my heart. I really have no objection to living happily ever after with Daisuke. Why would I ever object to bliss? If I don't find the perfect girl it doesn't really matter, because I've already found the perfect man, my perfect soulmate. It's not so hard to imagine a life married to Daisuke; actually, the more I think of it the harder it is to imagine a life without it. I can't help but wonder how long a few years will be.
So we lie here, content and basking in the warmth of each other and the artificial sun above us. In times like this I never want to go home. A cool breeze tosses some dark strands over my face and tanned fingers brush them back before I even have a chance. So content. So happy. I don't want this to ever end. I can't accept my girlfriends' hearts until I can offer them my own, but I can't offer my heart because I've already given it away without ever realizing it. And I've already received a heart to love in return.
"I love you Daisuke."
"I love you too Ken."
We stayed together like that, long past the time we should have returned home. As the sun dipped slowly closer to the horizon and the grass rippled in waves around us in increasingly cooler breezes. The sky shifted colors and the dejimon went on with their lives around us. And as the first stars began to peek out of the darkened sky and a few shivers made their way through us, we picked ourselves up and headed home. Together, the way we're meant to be.
"Ken. If, in a few years, you still haven't found the girl you want…. I'll be here. I'll marry you if you want to."
A few years…. Yeah, a few years isn't so long to wait for a lifetime of happiness.
Just wait Motomiya Daisuke, I'm going to be the only one to marry you.
* * * * *
Konpeitou : I have a feeling that some people may not have been wholly satisfied by this ending, but in this story I wanted to keep their reactions realistic and not rush things. This is just how the story wanted to go, it seems.
Kuja : *smirks*
Konpeitou : . . . At any rate, I hope you all enjoyed this story. It is finally complete and I would really love to hear what you think of the finished product. Minna-san, doumo arigatou gozaimashita! Sayonara~