Color of Love
-- I'm Yamato: born singer and guitarist, popular, handsome. Then there's Sora: perfectly ordinary except for the fact she can't speak... and the fact she's amazing...

Chapter One

Along with fame comes fortune and the attention of beautiful girls. At the age of seventeen I was living large. All right, maybe not large. I was living okay. The Teenage Wolves weren't well known but everyone was sure that with a little more time, we would become the next big thing in Japan.

I was the lead singer and guitarist. Let me tell you, I was born to strum and belt my heart out. We first got together to make use of our musical talents and created the band to be a... a recreation thing. Then we got serious. Hours of practice and gigs... man, we were hardcore. We still are.

In the middle of being hardcore and being in the spotlight, I guess... I lost myself. I can't exactly put it in words. Once, my pen just spat out ink in the shape of kanji like it was nothing. After a while, my sparks of inspiration stopped coming. It was okay with the others that I had huge writers' block. We didn't need any new songs yet. But it still bothered me. Melodies whispered in my ears and faded away as soon as I reached for pen and paper. Words were at the tip of my tongue, yet they came out awkward. It bothered me greatly.

I suppose I changed as the Teenage Wolves gained recognition. Even Taichi, my once best friend, said so. We fought one day-- it was a really petty thing-- and his anger caused him to burst.

He called me immature. Backstabber. Attention hogger. Big shot. Big headed (huge insult coming from Tai). Shallow. Weak. Spoiled. Whiny.

My conscience knew Taichi was perfectly right, but no one wants to be called any of that! So I rebelled. I rejected him.

Takeru noticed my transformation. I have to thank him and Taichi for opening my eyes to the truth... and introducing me to a girl who taught me to how to appreciate the stars.

oaoaoaoa

"You see that girl over there?" the drummer Akira nudged my shoulder. We were sitting at lunch at our usual crowded table. The fangirls were relentless in their attacks. They were hovering over us at the moment. I guess it's the price I pay for being so darn good-looking and talented.

I looked up from my california rolls, made at home by yours truly, glancing over in the direction he was pointing to. The others turned as well to see what had gotten my attention. Three tables away sat a group of people, one of them being Taichi. I averted my gaze away from the bushy headed boy. "The red head? Sitting next to boy genius Koushiro Izumi?"

"Yeah. She came here in the beginning of the school year. Isn't she weird?"

"She is!" Jun Motomiya jumped in before I could respond. She also jumped in my face, shoving her bundle of spiky hair into my eyes. I blinked furiously, turning away in annoyance. "She never talks."

"Today," Akira picked up the conversation again. Everyone leaned in to listen, mesmerized by the secretive way his voice suddenly became, "I dropped my pen and it rolled to her feet, right? She picks it up and hands it to me. So anyway, I was thinking she was pretty cute. And we never talked before. So I give her my famous smile--" he flashed it at Jun, who automatically fluttered down with a dreamy sigh, "And she just looks at me! She resisted it! No girl can resist it!"

"Unless," Matsuya, the bass guitarist piped up, "She's lesbian."

"Do you think?" Jun said in a hushed whisper, having recovered from Akira's temporary spell, "I have gym with her. She doesn't act lesbian in the locker room."

"Some people can hide their homosexuality very well," Matsuya said mysteriously.

"Like you?" I jumped at the chance to make fun of my friend. He rolled his eyes.

"But really, I don't think she's homo. I think she's nothing. What's that word?"

"Asexual, stupid."

"Yeah!"

"I don't know," My brother, Takeru, said. Sometimes he stopped by our table, though he would rather eat with Taichi. I hoped he didn't know about Taichi and my little 'argument.' He wasn't without his share of popularity, being related to the lead singer of the Teenage Wolves and all. "She's a friend of Taichi."

"She talks?"

"No."

"I heard she can't talk."

"A mute?" Jun asked thoughtfully.

"Probably," Hideki said with a yawn.

"I still think she's lesbian."

I frowned at Jun's comment. She was always judgemental of other people. Hey, what was she doing, sitting next to me? She was the president of the Yamato Ishida fanclub! I edged away. Jun's overdramatic actions always creeped me out. She was bordering on the thin line between obsession and insanity. Besides, Sora sat in front of me in Physics. We had English and Band together. She didn't seem too bad. At least she didn't bother other people like Jun did... "I don't think so."

Akira's eyes brightened and slitted into a sly look. We could tell he had gotten an idea; a momentous occasion.

"Poll! I'm calling a poll!" Akira shouted, waving his arms excitedly. We all looked at him. "Who is the most handsome guy?"

"Yamato!" Jun shrieked. I smirked. Couldn't argue with that.

"Who is the most well-liked guy?"

"Yamato," the backup vocalist and electric guitarist, Hideki, was quiet until now. He sat with his head propped up by his hands. Hideki was obviously bored with our affair. His eyes were half closed.

"So," Akira continued, "Yamato, as the most popular dude in Odaiba High, should do his sacred duty and find out what is up with the ugly redhead."

"You went up to her because you thought she was cute," Takeru pointed out.

Akira shrugged. "Lapse in judgement."

"Do it, Yama-chan!" Jun said, her eyes sparkling in excitement. "It'll be fun to find out the thoughts of an absolute weird nerd."

"First off, "absolute weird nerd?" Is that proper Japanese? Secondly, Sora is not weird," Takeru said irritatedly. He glared at me intensely, folding his arms. With a touch of desperation he said, "Don't do it."

"Come on, Takeru! It's just for fun!" Akira urged. He took a huge bite of his tuna sandwich. Everyone looked away. Akira always chewed with his mouth open. Very disgusting.

"It's cruelty. You don't even know why she can't talk!"

Hideki's ears perked up. He snapped out of his reverie and turned his sleepy eyes to my brother. "Why can't she?"

I was also curious. We watched as shock, anger, agitation, and repulsion flashed across his face. Finally he stood up, glaring at us. "It's none of your business. It's not like you would even care." He stared at me straight in the eye. "You can't possibly understand what she had been through. Don't do it."

His heated words pulled my ego into light. Since when did Takeru have a say in what I did and didn't do? I didn't want to be bullied by my little brother. We didn't even live together. Takeru didn't know me at all. Narrowing my eyes coldly, I turned to Akira. I drawled, "I'll do it."

I glanced back up to catch a glimpse of Takeru's storm. Instead of finding thunder and lightning written in his eyes, there was nothing. Why was there nothing? Because he wasn't there. I turned around to see my brother walking off briskly, head held high. To tell you the truth, it was then the seriousness of what I agreed to was dawning on me.

Akira grinned. "Let the games begin."

We didn't plot anything that day. The others forgot all about Sora Takenouchi when Akira let out a loud, stinky tuna burp, to my great relief and disgust. We were too busy scrambling to a table far away from the smelly drummer. However, I kept the auburn haired girl in mind.

oaoaoaoa

"Takeru!" I called out. School had finally ended and the students were swarming out of the large building. I caught a flash of blonde hair that was similar to mine in the crowds in front of me. Before I knew what I was doing, his name was on my lips.

He was walking with Hikari, Taichi's little sister. I knew Takeru liked her-- I read it in the diary he took with him when we went camping together a while ago. The sight of them together was sweet.

Takeru jerked his head at the sound of his name, looking around in the crowds. Finally his eyes settled on mine. I felt his warm gaze freeze in cold anger.

I didn't understand why he was so protective of Sora. In any case, I took a deep breath and walked up to Takeru, who was waiting for me. Hikari smiled at me in greeting. I nodded back before turning my attention to Takeru. "Hey."

"What?" Takeru snapped. I raised an eyebrow. Takeru never snapped. He always took care to treat everyone with the utmost courtesy, unless they absolutely didn't deserve it. Sora must be a touchy subject. Hikari also looked at Takeru, surprised.

"Hey, chill," I said in reply. He glared at me. "What's your problem?"

"Um, I'm going to go on first... see you later, T.K.!" Hikari said quickly. One could see the lightning from the tension between us. Takeru muttered a 'good-bye' as Hikari took off to her direction.

"You're my problem," Takeru said in a quiet tone, though anger still burned in his eyes. We began to slowly walk. "You've changed ever since the Teenage Wolves got famous. Taichi told me about the fight--" I began to butt in, and he cut me off, "No, don't say anything. I completely agree with him. You're not the Yamato I know. You're not my brother. They've twisted you and your group into... inhumane monsters."

"Me and my group into some... what?" I was mystified but I knew an insult when I heard one. "Now, listen here--"

"No, you listen!" Takeru whipped around to face me. He was growing, I noticed. Takeru almost reached my height with his silly fishing hat. "Look at Akira, for example! He used to be like Taichi. Sure, sometimes he did stupid things, but anyone with eyes and ears could tell he truly cared about people. Compare the Akira of six months ago to the Akira who was speaking today. Playing a practical joke on a 'weirdo?' I have had enough of your crap."

I was getting extremely angry. My brother was lecturing me as if I were inferior. I knew my cheeks were burning red. "Enough of my crap! You're always the one following me around! No one asked you to sit with us at lunch!"

"I was doing so because," Takeru anunciated every word, sending chills down my spine. I never knew he could be like this. "You never sit with us anymore. It's as if we don't exist! And I don't like your new friends nor your fangirls."

"Then why do you sit with us?" I nearly bawled. Passerbys glanced at us worriedly.

"I don't want to lose you completely!" Takeru matched my tone and expression. An angry blush was forming over his cheeks and ears. His eyes were turning icy blue, as they did when he reached an extreme emotion. Mine did, as well. He paused to glare at me before turning away and taking off again, leaving me to choke on his dust and words.

The thing that angered me was that Takeru was right. Even in my wounded pride, I couldn't deny the total truth to my little brother.

That night I couldn't sleep. Takeru haunted me; his scalding words, pale eyes and flushed face. He brought up all the worries and doubts I had pushed away. I remembered the comical situations and conversations we had at the old table at lunch. It was me, Taichi, Koushiro, Jyou, and Mimi. Takeru and Hikari spent more time with their classmates. Mimi drifted away after she got involved in cheerleading and after we decided to built a relationship, and failed. I fell away when the Teenage Wolves became successful.

It bothered me that I didn't find my new friends as interesting or diverse as my old ones. I desperately missed Taichi's innocent ridiculousness. Koushiro's humongous words were always good for a laugh. Jyou sometimes came up with strange diseases he diagnosed himself with. Mimi's forgetfulness.

It bothered me that I wasn't having nearly as much fun as I used to.

The fangirls complained to me about their hair problems, talked to me about their nails, played with my shoelaces, and flirted with me nonstop. The boys weren't as crazy as before. They were intent on keeping their "cool" image.

By eleven at night I still had my overwhelming arrogance and good looks, but I had come to the conclusion I couldn't let my pride suffocate me. After all, Takeru was my brother. We were close. I could confide in him. Still, it took a while to convince myself that I needed to apologize to the runt. Thirty minutes later I came to the conclusion "blood is thicker than water."

I picked up my cellphone and punched in a few numbers, holding the tiny device to my ear. After the second ring, the line was picked up. There was no "Hello?" or "Moshimoshi?" Just heavy breathing.

"Takeru, I'm sorry," I said in a near whisper after a minute of silence.

"Me too," the person on the other phone finally said. "I shouldn't have blown up on you like that."

I smiled, hearing the twinge of regret in Takeru's voice. "I deserved it. I miss you guys."

"They miss you too. Sit with us tomorrow at lunch."

"I will," I promised. Feeling relieved that I had gotten over that particular hurdle, I leaned back in my bed. The soft pillow felt good under my head.

"About Sora--" Takeru began, suddenly becoming cautious. I heard his hesitation.

"I won't do it, but I want to get to know her."

"Why?" Suspicion laced his voice, tinny over the phone.

"Because you're so defensive of her," I smirked. "I thought you liked Hikari. Have you changed your affections?"

I knew from the stunned silence that Takeru was gaping. "How did you know I like Hikari?"

"Big brother knows all."

"How did you find out!"

Well, I couldn't tell him I snuck into his diary. He'd go evil-Takeru on me again, just like when he was yelling at me earlier. Perhaps it would be even worse this time, as it was a breach of his privacy. I just replied with a knowing grin I knew he could hear, "It's obvious."

Takeru groaned. I held back a snicker. "Okay, I do. Don't tell anyone or your naked baby pictures will suddenly appear all over the school bulletin boards and mailed to the Yamato Ishida fan club."

"You wouldn't dare."

"Try me," Takeru said with the same knowing grin I presented him. Sometimes that kid is as headstrong as I am. "But going back to Sora. I don't like her that way, but she is someone special. She's like an older sister."

"She doesn't talk," I reminded him.

"She doesn't need to," Takeru answered. "She shows her feelings through her actions and facial expressions. Sora's different... in a good way."

I rubbed my forehead. "That's hard to comprehend."

"She helped me out a lot. I look up to her."

"Why doesn't she talk?"

Takeru paused. "It's from shock. Some things happened to her a while back and affected her permanently."

"What happened?" I asked, worming my blanket up to my shoulders.

"I can't tell you. It's too personal for her."

"You know," I pointed out, giving the phone a glare.

"I'm her friend. You're not."

I scowled and rolled my eyes. Takeru was way too protective of the girl. What was his problem? I bit back the question, unwilling to start another fight. Besides, a glance at the clock blinking "12:30" in large red letters, and at the full white moon outside gave me a hint that it was getting late.

"I should go now..." Takeru voiced my thoughts. I smiled.

"Sweet dreams, Snugglypoo," I cooed, using the childhood nickname Mom gave him.

"You too, Honeypoo," he shot back with the same amount of sweet venom. Grinning and somewhat less stressed than before, I hung up and curled up in my bed, looking forward to a wonderful dream about guitars and ice cream and ruby eyes and crayons and...

zzz...