Disclaimer: I do not own Zetsuai 1989 and Bronze or any of the characters. They belong to Ozaki Minami-sensei. I am not making any money from it either so please do not sue.
Notes: This contains a spoiler for the whole manga series, especially the end of the Bronze series.
Izumi's smile. Even after being away from him for so long, he could still remember that smile. The serene smile so void of all worries gracing that flawless face as he slept. Even after numerous attempts to replace that memory with so many other women's seductive ones, all he could see was Izumi's smile. That was why Kouji returned.
Even faced with the threat of imprisonment for killing his brother, Kouji still returned. Why? He had often asked himself that. Why did he have to subject himself to such torment, such humiliation? Deep down, he knew it was because of Izumi. Because of Izumi, he was willing to return to a place full of pain. All because of Izumi.
Reunion with Izumi was something Kouji did not even dare dream about. He did not think that that day would ever come. So many things had happened since the day Izumi picked him up. So many obstacles had stood in their way. Yet, they had conquered all those barriers one by one. The trial would be no different.
The trial had been tedious. It had been a tough fight. Hirose had wanted to convict Kouji so badly. After all, Akihito had sacrificed his life for this chance. It was the least Hirose could have done for his brother. Kouji had not been bothered by it, though. He was just glad to be able to see his Izumi again. Fortunately for him, it had been proven that since the katana had belonged to him, his fingerprints would naturally be found on it, therefore rendering them useless as evidence. Thus, Kouji had been acquitted of all charges. Izumi heaved a sigh of relief then. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief then. Little did they know of the things that were to unfold.
"I said I could go home on my own! You don't have to always come and fetch me! I'm not a woman. Neither am I a child. I don't need your help!"
Kouji smiled. Izumi had not changed. Izumi was still Izumi. His Izumi. Kouji understood his lover's need to assert his own independence. It was his way of feeling secure. Noticing that the wheelchair had stopped its motion in the middle of the path, Kouji advanced to see what had happened. He only saw Izumi's brother standing right in front of him, badly beaten up.
Upon questioning, they found out that Yuugo's assailants were sent by Hirose. The fire in Izumi's eyes was terrifying as he swore to protect his siblings. Knowing Izumi, he would never let either Serika or Yuugo come to any harm, even if he were to be hurt. Kouji understood. And he knew that he was the cause of that hurt.
'It's me. It's all my fault. If I didn't exist, Izumi would probably be living a happy life with his siblings. If I didn't exist, he wouldn't be in so much pain. If I didn't exist…'
A few days later, Serika became the target. She was picked on by the girls loitering outside her school. She had returned home with several tears in her uniform that day. Her foster parents had informed Izumi. Again, the fire was evident in Izumi's eyes as he swore vengeance. Kouji bit his lips. He had caused Izumi pain yet again.
'I've caused him to be hurt once again. If I didn't exist, he wouldn't be suffering. If I didn't exist, he wouldn't have to go through all this agony. If I didn't exist…'
No matter how much guilt Kouji felt for paining his Izumi, he could not bring himself to let Izumi go. Izumi belonged to him. Just as he belonged to Izumi. That was why he could never free Izumi. Could never break free. He was Izumi's prisoner as much as Izumi was his. By the time that day came, it was too late. Everything was too late.
Izumi had just finished attending the physiotherapy and was returning home from the hospital. As usual, Kouji had gone to fetch him home. Despite Izumi's vehement protests, Kouji still insisted on escorting him home. It was his way of showing that he cared. Unknown to Kouji, the soccer star was actually glad to be the receiver of such attention and concern, but Izumi would rather die than confess that fact to the singer ever. Therefore, the two made their final journey together towards what they called their home then.
"The doctor said that if I keep up with this, I've got a rather high chance of recovering my ability to walk. I can't wait for the time when I'll finally be free of this wheelchair."
Kouji could find no answer to that. He knew that he was the cause of Izumi's plight. He knew that he was at fault. It was due to his selfishness that Izumi got hurt. He could never make it up to him. Ever. If only he did not exist…
A blinding light snapped Kouji out of his thoughts. He looked up in time to see Izumi crossing the road on his wheelchair, unaware of the oncoming car speeding his way. There was only one thing on Kouji's mind as he leapt to Izumi's rescue. His body responded before his mind ever did. His heart knew exactly what he had to do.
Pushing Izumi's wheelchair away, the last thing Kouji saw before that blinding light overwhelmed him was Izumi falling off the wheelchair, crawling towards him. Kouji kept his eyes open long enough to identify his attacker. He should have known. Hirose. Only one could have such a grudge against him. At least, he spared Izumi the pain this time. At least he had protected Izumi this time.
A soft hand. A warm touch. Kouji lethargically opened his eyes and found himself staring into brilliant depths of life. Izumi's eyes. It took him a moment to realize that he was lying in Izumi's arms. Reveling in the warmth there for the last time, Kouji whispered to Izumi ever so tenderly.
"I've tried to make you happy, yet all I could do was hurt you. Now, now it's too late. I can't turn back now… Izumi…" Now you can finally be free, my beautiful Izumi.
When he witnessed Kouji coming to, Izumi thought his heart would burst with joy. He never thought he would ever be so happy to see the singer awaken. As unfocused eyes struggled to focus their vision, Izumi desperately sought out the warmth and love in those eyes that he knew were directed only at him. To his dismay, he could find no such comfort. All the love, all the warmth had been gone from Kouji's eyes. They were dead and cold once again.
"Kouji, you've finally come to. How're you feeling?"
Izumi thought his heart would break. How could Kouji say something so cruel to him? How could Kouji question his identity? How dare him! He was about to holler at the singer when the doctor entered the room, cutting off any other possible forms of conversation.
According to the doctor's diagnosis, Kouji was suffering from selective loss of memory. The doctor said that Kouji, in a bid to either protect himself or to protect his loved ones, had subconsciously chosen to suppress all the painful memories. It might be temporary, it might be permanent. It all depended on Kouji. As long as he was able to accept and overcome that fear and pain, his memories would return.
Izumi could not believe it. He could not believe that Kouji would really forget about him. Storming into the room, Izumi wheeled himself to the prostrate patient. Without waiting for a response, Izumi grabbed the front of Kouji's hospital robes and shook him violently.
"How dare you forget me! How dare you forget all about me! You're the one who made me need you! You're the one who made me want you! You can't just shirk your responsibility like that! I won't allow you to!"
Izumi's rage was terrifying. Even Shibuya was terrified as he held the soccer star back from attacking Kouji. The good-natured man finally managed to drag the insane man outside the hospital and succeeded in prolonging Kouji's life. Hoping to calm Izumi down, Shibuya tried telling him that Kouji would slowly recover his memories. There was no way Kouji would forget a man he spent so much time, effort and love in. Absolutely no way.
Kouji was discharged a week later. With the exception of Izumi, everyone around him, especially Shibuya, had tried so hard to trigger his memories of his beloved Izumi, but to no avail. Though he did not say it, Shibuya could sense the desolation grow in Izumi as he watched the fire die away slowly in those once sparkling eyes.
On the day Kouji was discharged, Izumi did not turn up. Shibuya had expected it, but he still held that tiny spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, Izumi would not give up so easily. The momentary pleasantly surprised expression on Izumi's face when he opened the door, however, rekindled the fading hope in the depths of Shibuya's heart. He remembered what Izumi had said when he had offered a new place for him to stay.
"No. I will not run away. I refuse to run away from him. I will face him as I am now and he will face me as he is right now. It is time to put an end to all this."
The determination in Izumi's eyes had shaken Shibuya to the core of his being. Now he understood why Kouji had been enraptured. Now he understood why Kouji was so willing to be a captive to the soccer star.
Looking at Izumi closing the door and wheeling back into his room, Shibuya noticed that Kouji's eyes had not left the soccer star for a moment since he had first set eyes upon him. Smiling knowingly to himself, Shibuya turned to leave. Opening the door, Shibuya glanced back at Kouji once more, just in time to witness an obscure pain fleeting across the flawless face.
"Even if you try to forget, you never will, never can. Your body, your heart will never allow you to do so. The feel of him in your arms, can you truly forget that?" Shaking his head, Shibuya stepped out and closed the door firmly behind him.
Kouji could not understand the pain in his chest. It felt as if there was a heavy weight in his chest, suffocating him, congesting him. Why did he feel such pain when the wheelchair-bound man averted his gaze? Why did he feel so helpless, so miserable when the tanned man did not say a single word to him?
Entering his room, Kouji was greeted with the scene of Izumi reading on his bed. Unbidden, the ends of his lips rose slightly into a serene smile he never knew he had. Watching the other man enjoying his peace so quietly settled Kouji somehow. He did not know why, but looking at the man before him made him feel ever so blissful.
Looking up from his book, Izumi noticed Kouji standing at the door. Automatically, he moved to the other side of the bed, making space for the singer. Kouji, however, just stood there, staring at him. Now, Izumi remembered. Kouji had yet to recover his memories of him. Sighing to himself, he explained to the waiting man at the door that they used to share that same bed. What he had hoped to be ecstasy came out as repulsion on the taller man's face. Viewing him coldly, Kouji stated that he would sleep with no man, and turned to go sleep in the living room.
Izumi strove hard to keep his tears in as Kouji's words stabbed his heart. He would not lose to Kouji. He refused to show any signs of weaknesses in front of that man. It was a full five minutes after the door had slammed shut that Izumi slumped back onto the bed. He closed his eyes, hoping to block out everything that had to do with his longhaired lover. However, it was to no avail. Even without his sight, he could clearly feel the silk of the covers that Kouji used to cover him in under his fingertips. He could vividly smell Kouji's scent emanating from all corners of the room. He could inhale the air that Kouji used to breathe in. There was no way he could run away from the singer. Against his will, crystal tears started their inevitable journey down his tanned face.
Drying his tears, Izumi made a resolution. There was only one way to end this once and for all. And it was time to end it now. Slowly, he propped himself onto the wheelchair and wheeled himself silently to the kitchen. On the way, he passed Kouji. Gazing down upon that tranquil sleeping face, Izumi could not help feeling the pang at his heart. How could he have forgotten him?
Selecting the one with the sharpest edge, Izumi pointed the tip of the knife at his throat. Just one stroke. Just that one stroke and all his anguish and affliction will be gone. Just a little more. Izumi was about to take that final step when he was jolted back to reality by a pair of harsh hands stealing the knife from his hands. Opening his eyes, he found his thief. Kouji.
"What are you doing? Holding the knife like that was very dangerous!"
Kouji could not comprehend the sudden surge of panic that ran through his veins. He could not understand why he wanted the man before him to be alive and well. He could not comprehend why he felt so frightened of losing Izumi. Kouji only knew that without Izumi, his life would have no meaning.
"Why do you care? What I do is my business! It has nothing to do with you! After all, you've forgotten all about me… You've forgotten all about us…"
Izumi started crying uncontrollably again. He hated feeling so weak. He hated letting Kouji see his weak side. But he could not help it. Kouji had abandoned him. After all they had been through, Kouji had abandoned him. Like his parents. In the end, there was still no place where he could belong.
Kouji did not know what to do. Izumi was crying. He knew that Izumi was actually a very frail person, that though he seemed the strongest, he was the most easily hurt. Izumi was crying now. He was hurt. And he was the cause of that hurt again. Again? When had this happened before? Izumi… My beautiful Izumi…
It was a sudden flash. Kouji did not even have time to doge that. Izumi just grabbed the hand that was holding the knife and stabbed straight into his own chest. He had killed himself using Kouji's hands. He had made Kouji his killer.
Kouji's eyes widened in horror as reality hit him like a tornado. His hand released the knife just in time to catch Izumi's falling form. As Izumi lay in his arms, Kouji remembered all the times they had spent together. Happy times, sad times, all came flooding back to him. Tears started flowing hysterically down that flawless face.
"Izumi! Why, Izumi? Why did you do such a foolish thing?"
"I will not allow you to forget me again. I want you to remember me always. I want to live. So I will not allow you to kill me again. This way, I can live in your memory forever."
Gracing his face with a smile so full of contentment and tranquility, Izumi kissed Kouji for the last time before he closed his eyes in peace. He was finally truly free.
Kouji cradled Izumi's body close to him, unstoppable tears making their way down to drip onto the bronze skin of the still warm body, marking Izumi as his for the last time. He knew he had to keep that last promise to Izumi. He had no other choice. Kouji knew that he had to live on with the memory of Izumi, to keep him alive.
"So cruel. You're so cruel, Izumi. Even now, you torment me so… My beautiful Izumi…"
FuumaKamui: This is my first attempt at a deathfic. I hope it did not turn out too bad. Please be gentle and R&R!