Disclaimer/Copyright:All Chars are property of D.O. and G-collections. I own the plot in this story. In no way am I using this for any profit.

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Kana: Tadaima
By Kochan

Chapter I - Refuge

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I'm home again.

I drag my feet through the front door and ignore the image of my slumped shoulders as I pass the hallway mirror. The sliding door to my room is ajar and I elbow it aside. My bag is tossed against the shoji screen with as much disdain as a Yakuza Goon flicking aside a cigarette butt.

An exhausted sigh passes my lips as I sink into the sympathetic lumpiness that is the old, saggy futon. I'd found it outside a home where the owners were moving. Unwanted and discarded.

Just as a vampire knows his own coffin, I find solace in its familiar embrace.

We understand each other.

I close my eyes and wonder what you're doing now. Perhaps you're on a step ladder amongst rows of comics, fiction and poetry. In my mind, I see the frailness of your pale skinned hand reaching out, delicate fingers sifting the cover of each book before sliding it into place on a shelf.

You'll be eating soon for the night; Pickled vegetables, rice seasoned with the home-made Nori Furikake that mother gave each of us and a sliver of fish I would kill for.

You'll brown the first side too much as you do when Mother's not with you. You'll call your self silly after. And you'll smile as you think about how I always chide you for calling yourself silly before insisting that you were always smarter than me.

Good food is wasted on me these days. Sukiyaki or Instant Ramen, everything tastes the same when you have no appetite. Variety for me comes in the different coloured flavour sachets I empty over the noodle cakes morning and night.

The waxy odour from the noodles is a subtle reminder of inevitable malnutrition, but I'm beyond caring; Its more than enough to get me through the day.

I wonder if you watch the soaps on TV and wish for the manufactured and formulaic love that every young girl dreams about. Is there a longing within you for that tall, dashing swordsman to ride into your life and whisk you away to eternal paradise? Do you lie in bed thinking of him as you write me deeper into your past?

What transpired between us is already history and I can only imagine that I will soon be forgotten; Like the old wedding kimono from a failed marriage, stowed in shame at the rear of the oldest wardrobe. There I'll fatten generations of moths as they devour me from the inside out.

Here in this apartment, there is nothing but schoolwork to drown myself in. My room is a paper-padded cell of formulas, diagrams and project schedules. I keep it free of photos and memorabilia as the slightest reminder of home brings all the memories flooding back. Just one spreads and multiplies like an aggressive cancer, eating through the mind, consuming everything in its path.

And each night, my mind works to purge the cancer from my consciousness. The white of my ceiling is an empty canvas, upon which I pour my thoughts in order to forget them. Ironic that it is always the sweetest and happiest of memories that hurt the most when I do this. The pain sears through me as I watch the colors filling the canvas, the forms taking shape...always...your shape.

And it fades, torn from my soul...I begin upon the fresh canvas with another, then another...all through the course of the night.

I always find my eyes misted after the first few, but I persist...often until I succumb to exhaustion and it's twin sibling, sleep.

Slumber is the kindest part of my day as I know the morning spells dread for me. I know that as I awaken, I do so with each and everyone of those memories returning stronger than before. And I know that the shapeless beasts in my mind await nightfall, longing once again to pick at my painted thoughts as carrion would flesh from a rotting carcass. What I don't know is how many times I must suffer their torment before their hunger is satisfied.

As though the devil hears my thoughts, that familiar music tinkles in the back of my mind. The words etch themselves into the darkness before my eyes as the melody plays out.

'You chose to throw away your chance'
'Not having anything to say.'
'Trying to tell her what should have been said'
'Gets harder each passing day.'

Strange how it came to be my ring tone; I dont even like the song... but it's enough to drag me back into the real world.

My hand feels sleeved in lead as I reach over and rummage through my bag. The missed call displays as I flip the cover open. The phone beeps twice after, signalling a message.

'Game at Eight. Court Six. See you there - Ikuro'

It always takes a few minutes before I settle the debate in my mind; Should I turn up or message back an apology? The outcome is always the same. I can never think of a decent excuse and it's easier to drag myself to the stadium.

I can't actually ever remember wanting to play, but I've yet to let Ikuro down. The numbered singlet and baggy shorts aren't quite my size, borrowed like the face I put on at the Court. Keys and phone are tossed into the sports bag and I kick the door shut on the way out. One breath and my lungs fill with moist, dense pollution as the weakening sun slumps below the smog-misted skyline of Tokyo.

I pass a group of students just off the bus from nearby Mejiro Station. Their cold, drained faces remain unwarmed by the orange hue of the nuclear sunset and remind me of lifeless, stone statues.

Just like me.

I'm yet another faceless student enduring years of monotonous study to attain one piece of paper; one piece that will ensure me a humble place in Japan's clone workforce and with it the promise of hard labour under a grudging employer. The boss or corporation I come to serve will suck the very marrow from my bones in return for crumbs of pay that not even a mouse could live on.

I've asked myself the same question more and more often these days. What is the point?

Months have passed and the answer still eludes me; it's impossible to look into the meaning of anything when you have no idea what you're looking for.

Since the day you left, I've searched for a way out of this labyrinth of false hopes and lies.

I'm so tired of drifting in circles...

I'm not sure...if I even care anymore...

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Author's Notes:

Nori Furikake: Rice sprinkling made from seaweed and sesame seeds.
Sukiyaki: One pot meal with thin-sliced beef, mushrooms, tofu and vegetables. Often eaten on special occasions/Celebrations by Japanese families.

I don't normally write on something such at this but Kana's something I felt needed a bit of pen to paper.

This is dedicated to someone who I think by now, has given up on a rather belated birthday present. It was meant to mean something special after they finished the game with the 1st ending...but well...sometimes things don't always turnout the way we expect them to

But even though it might a little empty now, the dedication remains the same and like they say, better late than never :) Here's hoping she enjoyed this !

Feel free to drop off a review if you enjoyed the read

Till next chapter!