Fact: Everyone dies.

You are not the exception.

You're born again next to the house of a fictional character and you're expected to be friends with him, because your mothers are friends and your fathers are friends and you were born within a week of each other. His name is Kise Ryouta and he is annoying. He cries at the slightest sound. You were enjoying your non existence and then this came along, and you had to deal with screaming children?

You are not pleased with this reality shift and you make this known. Your parents don't get much sleep in the first few months.

The new you is plain. Black hair, dark eyes, typical Japanese features. You give your reflection one look over, deem it suitable and forget about it.

Kise Ryouta has eyes like molten gold and his mother's hair and the attachment issues of an abandoned puppy. He trails after you all the first days of kindergarten, clutching your weird smock thing. You don't actually care because at least he's not crying about something. Until the girls in your class start falling over themselves to play with him. They jostle you out of the group, leaving an overwhelmed looking Kise in the middle of it.

He looks at you, pleading with his pretty eyes.

Yeah, no.

You leave him there with a disinterested glance. If he wanted out, he was going to have to do it himself.

Before you died, life was normal.

Birth, school, college. You worked the same boring desk job until you died. All your tragedies were small, and equaled by joys. Passion was a foreign word. You existed, and that was enough. Coasting along like a feather on the breeze. Nothing touched you.

You receive a camera for your sixth birthday from one of your many aunts. It's bright pink and plastic and obviously for kids - but it works. It has film.

You fall in love the first time you look through the lens. The first time you develop a photo. The first time you capture an emotion in two dimensions. It's like seeing in color after a lifetime of grey.

You love the click of the shutter. Effortlessly finding beauty in the mundane, plays of light and shadow, that perfect moment where something deeper than words flits like a bird and you can only capture it if you have the skill, if you're lucky enough, if only you dare, if only you look.

The world is worth paying attention to, for the first time.

With your apathy melting away, it begins to dawn on your parents: you are not smart. You're a genius. Even beyond the "twenty-seven year old mind" in the body, things that would've taken months to learn in your old body take only days or hours. The only one in your class who can keep up most of the time is Kise. You're including your teacher. Everything is easier.

Your new mom and dad want a doctor, a lawyer, a politician. They speak of bright futures and special education. You're smart and they know that. Cram schools, tutors, grades, prestige.

They mean well.

Unfortunately for them, you already have a plan.

You're going to be a photographer.

It's like a fire has been lit on the inside of you. You hope it never goes out; you were so cold before.

You win first prize in an annual competition before your seventh birthday.

Improving your skills is your one passion, and you pour everything into it. Classes about light and framing, rock climbing to get into hard to reach areas, mechanics for repair, setting up a blog so you can share your work and receive critiques.

Time flies by. You graduate from Kindergarten along with Kise. The shelf your parents keep is filling up with trophies and ribbons and certificates. If it makes them happy, that's fine. They're nice, but you don't need them. The pictures themselves are their own reward.

In the evenings after elementary school is over, Kise walks home with you, blabbering about his day. He still clings, but you tolerate it more now. You live next door to each other. He follows you inside when his sisters are gone and his parents are busy.

"I wish I knew what I wanted to do," Kise says, nine years old and filled with worldly ennui, clutching a stuffed animal to his chest. You don't know where he got it. You don't own any stuffed animals. He's joined three clubs this month, and quit them just as quickly. "You're so lucky, Hanacchi." There's a trace of real frustration to his voice.

You glance at the bag spilled over your floor, each paper a halo of 100 marks, so dusted in gold stars it was it's own constellation.

Your own work is piled, untouched, somewhere under magazine offering a zoom lens that you really, really want.

Homework is boring.

"Don't mess up my bed," You say, going back to the kiddie camera. You can probably salvage something worth using if you take it apart.

He laughs. "So mean!"

Kise slams the door to your bedroom behind him, clothes rumpled and eyes wild. "I don't understand girls."

You catch a glimpse of him and grab for your camera. "Hold that pose," you say.

You bring up the camera and Kise, trained by now, freezes and his face slips into a slight smile and he looks through his lashes into the your lens, and with a click you capture a slice of time, forever.

Kise is beautiful. This is an empirical fact. The camera loves him and he loves it right back. Put him in the light and he glows, becomes a conduit, automatically the brightest thing in the room. He attracts eyes and hearts like moths circling a flame.

He's your favorite subject.

"What about girls?" You say, and bring the camera down. You know that it's probably insipid. It always is, with Kise. You listen anyway.

Friendship is about compromises.

He unfreezes, and lets his bag spill onto the floor again. Papers went everywhere. "Seriously, they're scary. They swarmed me outside the gates. I didn't think I'd survive!"

Oh, his 'fanclub'.

"Tell them to get lost." You say, losing interest. Kise's got a way of making problems so much then bigger then they need to be. He had sparkles and cynicism where everyone else had common sense.

He flops onto your bed again. "I'd hurt their feelings. They cry and then I have to deal with them, and I get treated like the bad guy."


"That's mean, Hanacchi."

"Get a girlfriend then. A second target should distract them long enough to get out of the way." You kick him in the side. "Pick up your bag. I'm not your mother and I'm not cleaning up after you."

Kise didn't move. He stared up at the ceiling. "...Would that work? A girlfriend?"

"It's worth a try."

In hindsight, you should have thought more about the words coming out of your mouth. No, you forgot one crucial thing.

Kise has no common sense.

You regret everything.

"Hell no." You say, packing as much disdain as you could into the words. Your textbook lays open before you, forgotten. Your grades were slipping a little too close to 'flunk' for your mother's taste.

So. At least pretending to study. In reality, you're failing to fix a camera. After going through school one time already, you know that none of the homework is important. It's hard to muster any interest in school.

"Wow, actual emotion. I mean -please, Hanacchi! You're my only hope! Anyone else would get scared off by the fan-girls or try to kiss me! Please be my fake girlfriend." Kise begged from dogeza.

You stare makes plain what you think about his reasons. "No way. Too much of a pain."

"It was your idea!"

"Yeah, but that was when it didn't involve me."

"Hanacchi is so cold." He whined, clinging to your leg.

You shrug and turn back to your poor battered camera. It's go a cracked lense and you think, a little sad, that it's going to be done pretty soon. This one was a beauty, real craftsmanship. Your dad would be reluctant to pay for a new one, with the grades you've been bringing in. Which is why you're 'studying' in the first place.

Kise settles himself over your shoulder. "I can buy you a new camera."

You pause.

Like a shark after blood, Kise is on the hesitation. "Please, Hanacchi, you won't have to do anything. Just ignore whatever anyone tells you. Nothing has to change - I already spend so much time with you, nobody will expect anything else."

You glance at the broken camera with a resentful scowl. Ugh. "Fine," you say, already resigned to the stupidity that would ensue.

Kise let out a whoop and pumped his hand into the air. "You're the best, Hanacchi!"

"Whatever. It's your wallet's funeral, not mine."

"...I don't like how you said that. Hanacchi? Hanacchi, what did you mean by that- why are you smiling like that. Hanacchi!"

an: this was not what i meant to write

edited 2/1/2017