It was something that I was already aware of.
That these warm hands that are tightly clutching my hands would someday let go.
Because we've made that promise, right? At that time I said, 'Please take care of me until then'. Even back then I had unconsciously made our meeting finite; something that would definitely come to and end.
"I do not wish to leave you, Kiyomaro! Uwaaaan—"
So now that the end of our time together had come, why am I so reluctant in letting your hands go?
Mienai Tsubasa : Kono Sekai no Hate ni Itsuka Mata Aou
At the beginning you were nothing but an annoyance to me. Suddenly crashing through the tightly closed door of my mind, you've forced me to open my mind again and filled every corner of my mind with brilliant sunshine. For the first time you made me realize that all this time I had been lonely, that I was sad. That made me so angry, but at the same time it made me so happy that—
I realized for the first time that I was no longer alone.
Even though you were a tiny child that didn't even reach up to my waist, those determined light in your eyes made me unconsciously vow to myself. That I'll never let those kind light be taken out of those eyes—that I'll be your strength and support so that you can fulfill your dream of becoming a 'kind king'.
If I can help you achieve that goal I'm not scared of anything. Even if I'm in danger of death, even if I'm hurt so badly that I can hardly stand up again, the thought that someone is by my side made me so happy. Your hands were tiny, but the hands that tightly held mine were so warm that it felt like I could cry. Your smile, your strength, your tears, everything became of a strength to me to live on. You've given a meaning to my miserable, lonely life.
After you were tucked into your sleeping place for the night, you timidly called out to me. Even your voice was sweet; a sound I found pleasant to my ears. When I met your eyes you had this expression—as if you were much older inside then you look—that I paused and waited for you to continue.
"Do you believe in eternity?"
What a strange topic to discuss with a 6-years-old. I sat at the edge of my bed and glanced at your determined eyes, your tightly shut mouth. Somehow you looked like you were going to cry any second, so I lightly said, "Don't be silly, Gash. Eternity only exists in theories. Everything is finite."
"Then there's an end to everything, is there not?"
I nodded. I remember how your gaze slightly wavered, then you unfalteringly looked at me again, your hands gathered into stubborn fists. "Remember when we first met?"
I nodded again. My legs hurt, so I shifted my position and stretched out my legs in front of me, instead of tucking them beneath my body.
"At that time you said, 'let's get along until then'. That 'until then' had always bothered me, so… I… don't want to be apart from Kiyomaro. I don't want to think there is an end to our meeting…"
The way he was able to express himself so honestly made me upset. I was jealous of his willingness to voice out his fears and anxiety, I think. Unintentionally my voice became harsh and my words cruel. "Well, it's true, isn't it? We don't belong in the same world, so it's a given that you'll have to return to your world, be it that you return as the maou or a loser. Our relationship is but a mere contract."
"Nuoo—Kiyomaro, you're so cruel—" Gash's bright golden eyes turned honey-brown, and he started to cry. Aa—I made him cry again. Even though I think he's a loveable child and in my mind I always tell myself to be kind to him, I always end up hurting him. But because Gash forgives me for my cruelty, because he always returns to me even if I hurt him and make him cry, even that tear-soaked face was precious to me.
"You don't have to say it in such a mean way! I am extremely fond of you, Kiyomaro. I love you so much! It makes me frightened and lonely when I think about how it shall be if you are no longer by my side, so… So…. Uwaa—n—"
It feels like someone had just punched my gut and all the air had left. I couldn't breath. It hurt. Life without Gash. If the sunshine leaves me…
"Stop crying," I snapped. "Since you have to leave anyway, we have to make sure your return as the victor, don't we? If it's for you I'll even give up my life. If you turn around I'll always be standing behind you, so if you get tired you can lean again me and rest. If it hurts you can cry. But in return you have to do your best!"
"Unu! I'll become a kind king no matter what, Kiyomaro!"
That's more like it. The childish smile was back on his face, so I felt relieved. Because he had said that so seriously with tears and snot all over his tiny, round face, I couldn't help but chuckle. My laughter seemed to have calmed Gash down. He stopped crying, so I wiped his tears and mucus off of his face and turned around to climb back on my bed when I was stopped by a timid tug at my pajama shirt. Gash shyly asked, "Kiyomaro, can I sleep with you?"
"Stup…!" I started to yell at him, but because his eyes were still red and wet with tears, because he looked like he was going to cry again, I sighed and relented. I knew that if I allowed him this selfishness now he'll always be sleeping in my bed with me from now on. But even if I must lose it someday, if I could have his warmth close to me, it'll be even worth the pain I'll be sure to suffer later.
I sighed and pulled open my bed's cover. "Only for tonight, Gash."
Both he and I knew that that was a lie, but Gash brightly smiled and obediently nodded.
The tiny child snuggled against my chest. He faintly smelled of milk. The small warmth was so comforting that I longed to put my arms around him, but instead I turned away and faced the wall.
The time I had left with him was not very long.
Don't call out to me with that voice.
"Fu….een… Kiyo… maro…"
Don't look at me with those tearful eyes.
…But you have to go back, don't you?
"Stop crying," I lightly scolded, smiling. "What are we going to do if the future king of Makai is such a crybaby? You're the victor, so you should be smiling, right? See! Straighten your shoulders, thrust out your chest, and proudly walk forward!"
"I… I don't want to go… If Kiyomaro's not going, then I'm not going to go either!"
go back together Kiyomaro! I need you…
Please don't leave me all alone by myself!"
I kneeled down until I was at eye level with Gash. I rested my hands on his trembling shoulders. Gash's eyes were wide open and unfocused as he continued to cry. His eyes were facing my chest, but it felt like he was looking somewhere further away, at something that I could not see. It pained me to see his tears, but it also made me happy. I wasn't the only one saddened by our parting, then, right? Gash also didn't want to be apart from me. Gash needed me…
"Listen carefully, Gash," I said. "You're not alone. Everyone that we've met together—Tio, Kanchome, Umagon, and even Zeon—will be there, waiting for you. And I, also—we can't walk down the same road together, but I will always be by your side even if our roads are apart. Maybe someday our roads will cross and we'll meet each other again. Perhaps our roads will be continuing in parallel lines and we'll never see each other again. But no matter what happens, Gash—"
I lightly tapped Gash's chest. Because of the fierce battle we went through just moments before, Gash's clothing was soaked with blood and barely hanging together by threads. But even his battered clothing seemed loveable to me, and I wanted to embrace everything about him—the face wet with tears, the trembling mouth, tightly clenched fists, torn and bloody clothing that covered his tiny, hurt body.
"In here… I'll always be in here, okay?"
Gash roughly rubbed the back of his hand across his eyes. The dirt on his hand smeared on his face and made his already dirty face look almost ridiculous, but yet there was some thing noble and strong about the tiny king who stood before me bravely.
Before I realized what happened soft lips covered mine. It was probably because he was still a baby, but his lips were unbelievably soft and warm. Would even women's lips be as soft as this….? But before I had a chance to ponder this further, the thief of my first kiss sniffled and tightly held my hands.
"I shall come back to you, Kiyomaro."
"I shall come back no matter what may happen. After order has been re-established at the Makai and I'm strong enough to protect Kiyomaro, I shall come back. I shall make a home suitable just for two of us. So… so wait for me, Kiyomaro. Surely one day we'll be together forever and ever…"
Aa. Even though I didn't believe in eternity, even though I knew this was only a child's promise that will surely be broken—
I had felt I wanted to believe him as I nodded and he slowly but surely disappeared, only leaving sparking residues of his presence and the warmth of his hand against mine. He was gone. There was no proof of his existence anywhere except the memories I held within my heart.
And then when I felt sure that Gash was really gone and he wouldn't be able to hear me, I tilted my head back and screamed and cried, repetitively calling out the name of he that would never return to me again.
It's been eleven years since then. I've become an archeologist just like my father, and I was analyzing artifacts and data that my father sent me from his travels. When I looked at bright sunshine that illuminates everything brightly, there was a dull ache in my heart. I've unconsciously started to seek out the shadows; shutting myself up for hours under the artificial light of my laboratory became my habit. It's probably a hypocrisy that I stayed home instead of moving out to England with my parents. It's awfully stupid of me, but I kept thinking that if I leave—Gash won't be able to find me.
…Did I still believe in the words of that demon brat?
A bitter smile rose to my lips as I stood up to pull curtain over my window. It was the same time as when my hand touched the curtain that a big gold and scarlet bundle crashed through my window and landed on top of me. An eagle shrilly cried out before it flapped out of my room, leaving a huge hole in place where my window used to be.
…This familiar scene is…
"Kiyomaro!" The young man on top of me excitedly said. "I came back to get you just like I promised, Kiyomaro!"
I knew. Even though the man in front of my eyes was at least a head taller than me, even though he was wrapped up in beautiful, ornate clothing of a royalty—
There was no mistake about those bright golden eyes, that smile that forced my heart open again and filled my uncertain world with sunlight again.
"Return to Makai with me and become my queen, Kiyomaro! This time I shall protect you for the rest of my life!"
A-a. Even though I told myself I'll never let Gash tell me that he'd protect me again. Because… it's my turn to protect you now, you know?
"I'm proposing to you right now, Kiyomaro!"
You're selfish as always, Gash…
"What are you talking about? I'm a man and you're a man also. We can't get married. I can't give you children, Gash."
"I don't care about that! Just be by my side always and always, Kiyomaro! Marry me!"
That faint headache was back again. But why am I so happy? Why am I smiling and extending my hand towards you?
The hands that were wrapped around my hands were a lot bigger than mine, but the warmth was exactly the same as I've remembered it to be. The milky fragrance of a baby has been replaced by a musky, rich scent of a grown man, but your presence was still comforting as it used to be. The reason why I know you're the place I belong to is—
"You're supposed to confess your love to me before you propose."
The soft lips that claimed me as yours held promise of eternity. Riding upon the invisible wings of miracle, we've crossed time and worlds to meet again, so—
Surely, this time, it's okay for me to believe in eternity, right?
This story is loosely based on 'Kokoro no Chikara', Takamine Kiyomaro-kun's image single. That song just screamed Gash x Kiyo! -laughs- Kiyomaro is stubborn, but in his heart he seems to really love Gash a lot. Hopefully Gash will come back to Kiyomaro after he becomes a king and with his queen Kiyomaro, they'll live happily ever after. (...something is quite wrong with your thinking... ;;;;;)
It was quite troublesome to attempt to convey Gash-chan's strange speech pattern in English! He speaks kind of formally, but how you'd address someone who is inferior in position to yourself. I thought about using old English, but that'd be really weird, so... ;;;;;;; For example, in normal Japanese you'd say, "Watashi wa dousureba iindesuka?" (What should I do?) But when Gash says it, he'd say, "Watashi wa dousureba yoinanoda?" (Whatever shall I do? Or something like that...) I think such speech pattern makes Gash especially adorable. -laughs-
A-ah-- Gash x Kiyomaro is already a minor back in Japan, but in this side of fan world... I may be the only Gash x Kiyo fan in existance... OTL