Date Started: March 2, 2007
Date Finished: March 2, 2007
Summary: Mere days before the Kaiser began plotting to conquer the Digital World, Ichijouji Ken decided to pay his brother's grave a visit.
It was a field of the dead. His stomach lurched at the thought as he walked amongst flowers and candles. He hated the idea that he was disturbing an endless sleep for hundreds of souls.
And he hated that no matter how many times his gaze passed over the engraved tombstone of his brother, tears simply wouldn't shed. Ken had come alone to grieve, in what was the middle of a random day that held no real meaning for the visit. It wasn't the anniversary of his brother's death, he wasn't here to clear the dirt that had collected above the grave, and neither had his parents asked him to come water the flowers they left behind. He was simply here to silently mourn.
Unfortunately, he had a damn hard time doing it. His brother rested only a few more feet ahead, and if tears didn't start swelling by the time he got there, then he knew they wouldn't come at all.
His attention wavered, and he paused. He welcomed the intrusion that offered him more time. He looked over at the welcomed distraction. There was a funeral occurring nearby. Someone had been put to rest, and the mourners were quietly beginning to depart.
There were tears. There was weeping. There was grief. And Ken was envious. Mothers were there to hug their children in comfort. Elderly couples clung to themselves with supporting arms. It was something he wanted to offer his brother, but deep inside wouldn't dare to bring himself down to that level of pity.
Ken walked towards them, welcoming the distraction. Maybe being around the mourners could instill some of the same feelings onto him. His awareness of the situation deepened, though not in the way he would have liked. Out of the crowd of tears, Ken picked out a lone boy off to the side, who much like him had no tears to shed. Ken instantly moved towards him.
The boy was younger than him. By several years, in fact, that Ken guessed he couldn't have been any older than seven or eight.
"It's okay to cry," Ken wanted to whisper, but his voice came out loud and clear. At first he assumed he was being sympathetic. That he wanted to offer the boy the comfort he deserved so that he would feel free to let an endless amount of tears flow. But as soon as the words escaped him, Ken realized it was something else entirely. Tears were beneath him, as were people who willingly let them flow. If this boy didn't cry, then Ken wasn't superior to him. If he didn't cry, then they were equals.
He couldn't admit to being an equal with such an insignificant child. He towered over the boy almost twice his height. To Ken, the child was a mere insect to be stepped on...
"Then why aren't you?"
Ken suddenly blinked, shaking his head to will the thoughts away. What could have possibly brought them on? All that remained from them was a hollow itch on the back of his neck. He unconsciously scratched at it, looking towards the speaker. "Sorry, what?"
It was the boy, standing in front of him. "Then why aren't you crying?"
The itch faded, and Ken decided to ignore the rudeness the child showed to him as an elder. It was, regardless, forgiveable under the circumstances. They were at a funeral, and the affect of death tends to offer momentary lapses of judgement. Ken lifted his head coolly, glancing to the mound of dirt that concealed the body of the recently deceased. "It's not my place to do so. I've no relation to whoever is in that coffin."
The boy frowned, matching his gaze towards the burial site. "It was my father."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Ken said sincerely. "I know what it's like to lose family. I lost my brother a little over a year ago."
"Is that why you are here?" the boy asked. "To visit your brother?"
Ken's gaze shifted once again, his eyes interlocked with the younger boy. He thought of a lengthy reply, but what escaped his mouth came to be almost a snarl. "Yes."
The boy recoiled at the sound, but quickly regained his bearing. Certainly a swelling of fear had come over him, heaving off a sense of pride Ken didn't quite realize was there, and asked another question. "How come you're not with him now?"
"Because I'm ashamed," Ken admitted almost too quickly, shocking himself with his answer. He reasoned it further. "I've no tears left for him."
The boy nodded in understanding, just as Ken knew he would.
"My father was a policeman," the boy had suddenly said, "He fought to make things right. Grandfather says he was a real hero."
"I've no doubt he was," Ken said. "Is that how he died, then? On the job, doing what was right?"
The sound of a deep intake of breath could be heard. Ken blinked as the breathing of the child in front of him became quite erratic. He could tell there was a stinging in the boy's eyes as well, tears finally beginning to flow. He had hit a weak spot. The boy wasn't quite prepared to mix his father in with the word died.
But then, Ken realized, this was his chance. With but a few simple words this child could be drowning in tears, no longer illuminated by the façade that they were equals. He would join the rest of humanity as his pawns, beggars on their knees, and bowing down to the superiority that was Ichijouji Ken.
"Grandfather says my father did what was right," the boy finally said, rubbing a tear away from his eye and regaining his composure. "But to see everyone that came here today - it's like everything that came out of that one right was entirely wrong."
Ken stood, no words leaving his lips. He no longer wanted to humiliate the boy, no longer wanted to lower him to the level of everyone else around them. And then the itch on his neck returned. He rubbed at it, feeling his body on the brink of a spasm.
The younger child either didn't notice, or decided to ignore Ken's actions. He simply frowned in thought. "Why should there be a wrong? Everything ever done should be right; the world should be perfect."
Ken slowly calmed. "I think what you really want is for your father to come back."
"What I really want is a world without death," the boy swallowed. He had finally said it. Death… death…
The tears were finally flowing. Ken frowned despite his victory; why exactly did he think he would feel superior upon seeing a fatherless child break down and cry? He spoke solemnly, "You can't have one, I'm sorry."
The boy sniffed, rubbing his eyes. His sobs were slowly catching the attention of the nearby mourners. Ken's face suddenly lit up. "At least, not here. Not yet."
There was a short pause between the coughs and sniffles. "What do you mean?"
Ken didn't have time to answer. A tall dark haired woman knelt down to grasp the child in her arms. "I'm so sorry, Iori, I know you'll miss daddy very much. But mama's still here for you, so don't you worry. Try to smile for me, okay?"
But the boy, Iori, didn't smile. He buried his face against his mother's shoulder and continued to whimper in her arms. She smiled sadly, attempting to put on a brave face, but soon her own tears joined those of her son's.
Ken took that moment to retreat. There was no casual greeting between him and the boy, and thus there was no need for an emotional goodbye regardless of the weight of their interaction. A dark smile crept up to his lips as he thought of his imaginary world. A world without death, without crime – it would be a haven for the perfect humans such as himself. It would be a world of his creation – a world where he would ascend to godhood, a place where he rightfully belonged. His current world was beyond saving, crawling with immorality and corruption. But then again, unbeknownst to the millions of insignificant beings that surround him every day, he secretly knew of another world.
And today, Ken decided, preparations for his plans would begin. It would all be for the glory in making that other secret world his very own paradise.
- The itch against Ken's neck is the black spore nesting inside him.
- Oikawa Yukio not being mentioned or shown as a mourner was highly intentional, despite him having obvious connections with both Ken and Iori. The meeting between the two here is thus left open ended: Did Oikawa somehow arrange for them to meet, knowing it would lead Ken to exactly where he wanted?