Lost souls

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Warnings/notes: Mikuni/Ichi, hints at Hasunuma/Mitsuo, slightly weird, shortie, ooc.

Disclaimer: I don't own Eerie Queerie. This ficlet was written while listening to the album from The Lighthouse Family, called Postcards from Heaven, in particular the song Restless.

written at 16th may 2005, by Misura, in reply to a meme-challenge made in my livejournal by Mythic Breeze which offered the character of Ichi and the line: "You can't crossdress if you're wearing boxers."

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It's nothing big, really, nothing that anyone would take much notice of, unless one would happen to know the person involved. Mikuni only notices it afterwards, when he reads the newspaper during breakfast, spotting a small article on page three.

There isn't even a picture, or a comment on how Something Should Be Done to prevent young people from getting into traffic accidents and getting themselves killed, or a name.

Kanau hasn't left a note either, which is fine.

Mikuni hopes he's giving that senpai of his an earful, wherever the two of them are now.

He assures himself that he himself is twice the cook Kanau was - and it's not as if Kanau ever was anything more to him than a temporary help, someone to play with and tease.

Sooner or later, Mikuni would have gotten bored with him anyway, so this is a nice, clean solution to everything, without anyone's feelings getting hurt, or any need for him to execute some complicated ritual that'll leave him tired for days after.

By the time he's had lunch, and some more time to convince himself, Mikuni's almost capable of faking a bright, cheerful smile again for his first visitor that day. It's a pity he wastes it on a mailman who's neither cute nor shy, and who's been happily married for thirty years, but Mikuni's learned to deal with the small disappointments in life very early and very effectively.

There's a few letters from clients, and one postcard that he puts next to the ones he's collected over the past two years, with Hasunuma's clear, crisp handwriting on the back, informing him that he and Mitsuo are both in good health.

Mikuni might have felt better if there'd been the slightest hint of gloating to Hasunuma's words. There isn't though, and there hasn't been one for quite a while now, which probably means he should tell Hasunuma to stop sending him post-cards already, because, really, what's the point in writing to someone if it isn't to remind them that you ended up with the prize? (And never mind that if it hadn't been for Mikuni, Hasunuma and Mitsuo might still be pussyfooting around one another.)

His second visitor of the day arrives just in time for tea. That, if nothing else, makes him a welcome one, since Mikuni much prefers to have someone to talk to while he enjoys his tea.

The fact that he is also reasonably attractive, messed up, and in not-entirely-firm denial of his sexuality makes for a nice bonus, Mikuni admits. Had he felt any slight depression at Kanau's deserting him, then the sight of Ichi would probably have chased it away, leaving him with a smile that's as close to genuine as Mikuni ever gets.

Ichi has changed over time, but less than he might have, Mikuni muses, while Ichi tells him about how his favorite team in the J-league has been doing. If Mikuni is honest with himself -which he usually tends to avoid, since honesty is almost as over-rated as celibacy, in his opinion- he'd have expected Ichi to have been married by now. Not happily, perhaps, and not to the girl he's loved since first grade, but nonetheless married.

Mikuni likes mysteries about as much as he likes big hulking brutes who've been married for a year and are convinced that Mikuni was staring at them the wrong way. Still, he supposes that Ichi is likeable enough, if you like the easy-to-tease, blushing-like-crazy and definitely-not-gay type.

Mikuni does. He's never been quite sure if Ichi does, too, or if he'd just convinced himself that he was not hitting on Mitsuo, who looks a little more like a girl than Hasunuma, to hide the fact that he actually is attracted to the tall, dark and handsome type of guys, but then again, Mikuni is neither, so it makes little enough difference.

He doesn't mention Kanau, or refers to the postcard he received today, instead allowing Ichi to prattle on about some Hidaka Ken, who's supposedly the greatest soccer-player Ichi has ever seen.

Finally, Ichi winds down, finding his tea having gone cold, assuring Mikuni that it hasn't, before draining his cup, heroically (and foolishly) managing not to make a face at the taste. Perhaps, Mikuni muses, he's been having more of a bad influence on Ichi than he gives himself credit for, even if Mikuni'd have much rather seen Ichi a bit more inclined to get out of the closet he's locked himself into than to develop an iron-clad control over his features while draining one of the bitter cups life has presented him with.

"Did you know," Mikuni speaks idly, as if talking to himself, "you can't crossdress if you're wearing boxers?"

One thing that hasn't changed about Ichi is the way his whole appearance seems to change when he blushes, as if his confidence and self-control has been stripped away, leaving someone hopelessly innocent and vulnerable, who pushes all of Mikuni's right -or, depending on one's point of view, wrong- buttons.

After treating Mikuni to the sight of his flushed cheeks, that inspire ideas of what else Mikuni might do to get them that red, aside from embarrassing Ichi by his words, Ichi stammers something - what, precisely, he's trying to say Mikuni doesn't know, and he suspects that Ichi doesn't have much of a clue either.

"By which I mean that if you're one thing, you shouldn't try to pretend you're something else." Mikuni has never taught any classes, or taken on a pupil to share all of his considerable wisdom with, but nevertheless, he believes that all priests have the ability to be teachers, too.

Not, Mikuni reflects sourly, that Ichi ever seems to be learning anything. Watching the blood rushing back to Ichi's cheeks, Mikuni can practically predict the next statement he'll hear.

"I'm not gay!" The sad thing is that Ichi still sounds like he means it, like he hasn't fed Mikuni this same line dozens of times already. What started out as an amusing part of Ichi's personality has by now turned into something that leaves a bit of a bad taste in Mikuni's mouth.

Knowing that it'll be gone soon, when Ichi gives the lie to his words, with a little help from Mikuni, doesn't help at this point, although it does make Mikuni more eager to get on with this ritual. God knows he has to deal with enough rituals every day already, without Ichi adding to his burden by inventing new ones, just so he can continue lying to himself.

"Neither am I." Which is, obivously, a lie, albeit a sweet one. Ichi swallows, once, when Mikuni moves over to his side of the table. One day, Mikuni promises himself, he'll halt for a moment to make a joke about that, some clever, witty comment to see how much redder Ichi can become.

Today, he doesn't quite have the patience or the energy, not for that.

xxxxx

Ichi doesn't stay the night.

He never does, and Mikuni has never asked him to, either, so it's nothing new, nothing unusual. Ichi doesn't talk much before he leaves Mikuni to prepare his own dinner, for the first time in what seems to be a long while, and most of what he says is to deny what he's said earlier, about love and lust, and other things that Mikuni knows Ichi pretends not to believe in, which is fine, since they're things Mikuni also claims not to have faith in (except for lust, naturally).

Mikuni's gaze falls on the newspaper he's read that morning, remembers Kanau, and wonders if he'll even get as much as a small article on page three before Ichi, too, departs from his life.

OWARI