Disclaimer: I own very little.
A/N: This is an entry to the Fic for a Pic contest at LiveJournal. Implied character death.
"Hey, Tokyo boy!" Thomas called out. "Come and hear this!"
"Would you please stop calling me that?" he asked wearily while walking to his co-worker's desk. "I don't call all American men Washington boys, now do I?"
"Somebody's cranky today, I see," Thomas said, raising an eyebrow. The blonde American was always cheerful -- too cheerful. It made him uncomfortable, reminded him of... things. "And you're from Tokyo, aren't you? So what's the problem?"
"I've lived in the States for the last seven years, that's the problem," he replied, his English about as close to perfect as a non-Native speaker could get it. "What exactly required my urgent attention, anyway? Nothing work-related, I presume."
"Aw, you're always so serious," Thomas said. "Listening to you one would never guess you work here. You'd be better suited for a grave digger, yes you would."
A doctor. That was what his family had told him; he should have become a doctor. However, he hadn't been interested -- or, at the least, he hadn't been interested enough. Something else had required his attention more -- something he hadn't been able to ignore.
Looking at his life now, he sometimes wondered whether he should have rather gone to the medical school after all.
"And it is work-related, in a way, at least," Thomas continued, not caring about his lack of response. The American was always talking, it seemed, never shutting up. It was another thing that made him uncomfortable. "I found a really great artist the other day."
"And are planning to recruit him now, eh?" His parents hadn't even told his grandmother just what he worked at. An accounting firm, they had told her, a good and respectable job. Apparently her weak heart wouldn't have been able to bear the news that her dear grandson was working for an American recording company.
"Not a chance," Thomas said, still sounding just as cheerful. "This one's been out of the business for several years now. He was a big hit when he was here, though. Not many Japanese people can really succeed in States, but he did it."
He froze. This sounded awfully... familiar. Before he could say anything, though, Thomas had switched his CD player on, and the room was filled with light, cheerful pop music. Pop music that he knew very well.
I'm your kitty cat, meow meow
Watch me sleep in the sun
"An awesome voice, isn't it?" Thomas commented. "This one has some energy!"
I'm your kitty cat, meow meow
I want to have some fun
"Yes," he said, "he does." And he knew just how much energy there was, just how much pure, brilliant joy was hiding behind each word.
Bouncing, it often seemed, was more of Eiji's sport than actual tennis. Momoshiro had once said, only half joking, that if the school had a high-jumping team Eiji would be the first recruit. This had naturally been followed by Inui's in-depth analysis of Momoshiro's own tendency to jump to heights often deemed unreachable for a junior high student without external aid, from which it hadn't gotten any better, but the point still stood. Eiji was bouncy. He was, Oishi sometimes felt, the epitome of bounciness.
He'd never paid much attention to it, really, whether it was the leaps during matches that made those faint of heart gasp, or just general bouncing up and down -- or from wall to wall -- when he'd had too much sugar or too little exercise or was just feeling well. Therefore, it took somebody to point it out to him before he realized that perhaps Eiji's ancestors had indeed included bunnies. Battery-powered ones, perhaps.
The one to point it out was a stage hand at one of Eiji's concerts. Eiji was practising, honing his choreography as close to perfection as it could be, considering he tended to change it on a whim. The poor man watched as Eiji danced and jumped and did a few somersaults, changing the direction of his jump midair, all the time singing.
"That guy's not human," came a sigh after a while. "What's he done, overdosed on caffeine several days in a row?"
Oishi shook his head. "No, nothing like that," he said, smiling as Eiji took a few steps even faster than before, for a moment appearing to be in two places at the same time. There were quite a few people closely involved with Eiji's performances who still thought it was some kind of a complicated special effect. "He was just born that way."
Just then, Eiji apparently decided he'd practised enough. "Ooooishi!" he shouted, landing on his hands and making a few cartwheels -- he preferred a wireless microphone attached to his collar to allow for free movement. "Let's go and have some ice cream before we have to be back for the concert, nyaa!"
"Well, that and he failed to grow up," Oishi added with a chuckle as he watched Eiji bouncing towards him, only barely avoiding running into several people and objects. For somebody with the skills of a professional level gymnast, Eiji caused far too many almost-accidents just because he didn't look where he went. He always managed to bounce out of the way before anything actually happened, though.
Whatever occupied him that one day he didn't manage, Oishi would never know.
"This is even better, though," Thomas said, bringing him back to reality. "I looked into the story and it seems he played some sport when he was a kid. He and his playing partner were called 'the Golden Pair'. Fans have a theory they were lovers at some point, and this piece definitely speaks for that idea."
My head in your lap
Laid down for a nap
I purr and you pet my hair
Of course, he knew the song. He had heard it before anybody else, softly sung by a cheerful redhead, the fiery locks spread all over his lap as the smiling face looked up at him. He wasn't about to tell this, however. There would have been too many questions.
You give me a smile
Hold me for a while
We're perfect; the Golden Pair
It had always amused him when he'd been told his lap gave the redhead ideas. Of course it gave him ideas, he'd said. Oh, the redhead meant ideas for songs? Well, he was glad to double as a pillow and a muse. Most people only got to be one. At this, the redhead would always call him silly and hug him a bit closer. It was, he'd decided, nice.
Then again, anything involving the redhead was usually nice.
"I can't believe this," Eiji said, his eyes wide. "I actually made a contract with an American company!"
"You definitely deserve it," Oishi said, smiling proudly at the other man. "You are a great singer, Eiji, and you have a wonderful voice. I'm sure you've been told this often enough."
"Yeah, but -- still! America! Do you know how hard it is to make it to the American market, Oishi?"
"Yes," he replied, still smiling, "I know." Then he added, with all the conviction of a loving boyfriend, "But nobody could do it more surely than you, Eiji."
"Nya, Oishi's so nice to me!" Despite the fact that they had both grown, the smile directed at him was still the same one he'd first seen when they were both twelve and just starting junior high. The hug he received was still just as enthusiastic, too, full of childlike energy.
Oishi grinned and hugged Eiji back. "I could never be as nice as Eiji is, though."
At the beginning of the next song, the tone of the music changed. Where previously had been happy, upbeat notes, was now a rather tranquil melody and a voice with a slightly dreamy quality.
You walk alone through the park
Everything's so sad and dark
"It's kind of eerie," Thomas said, nodding towards the CD player. "This last song he ever wrote is much darker than any of his previous stuff. No deaths and blood, no, but for him, this is dark. It's almost like he guessed what would happen."
But do not fear,
Don't waste a tear,
I am with you all the way
It wasn't true. Of course it wasn't. That morning, the redhead had been just as happy and chipper as ever, definitely not somebody who knew they were going to die.
How could one predict a freak accident at a zebra crossing, anyway?
Shadows dance all around you
You don't know just what is true
"For a Japanese guy, his pronunciation is pretty good," Thomas then commented. "Not that I'm saying yours is bad, no, you speak great English! Why'd you come to America, anyway?"
Curiosity was yet another trait of Thomas' he just couldn't deal with at times, too familiar for the man's own good. Sometimes he wondered just why he kept working here. Then he always heard footsteps bouncing down the empty hallway, or a voice calling for him where there was nobody, and he remembered.
But I will stay
Not go away
Forever's too short, I say
"I followed somebody here," he said, and told the truth. "I've seen no point in returning, not when they are still here." It had been the redhead's dream, and he had gone along, and even though the redhead wasn't really there any more he had never left, either. His dream was still there.
"Hm?" Thomas raised an eyebrow. "Last time I checked, you were single."
No, he wasn't, he almost wanted to say. Sure, there was nobody living with him, or meeting him frequently, or even making phone calls for him. This didn't, however, mean that he was single. The word implied he was free to start a relationship with somebody, and that was most definitely not the case.
"Indeed," was all he said before turning around. "Now, I've got to go. The day's over."
"For the lucky you, perhaps. Some of us still have to work." Thomas grimaced a bit, then grinned. "Do you want me to get you a copy of this CD, too?"
For a moment, he pauses. Then, he says, "There's no need. I own one already." A special copy just for him. The live version was better, though.
I won't promise you forever
It's not enough for me
I won't be with you forever
There's more, there has to be
"Ne, Oishi," Eiji said, smiling at the other boy, "do you know what I think?" Lying between Oishi's legs, he seemed perfectly comfortable invading the other's lap -- not that Oishi minded, of course. There was a bright smile on his face, the one he always wore whenever something especially brilliant -- in his opinion, anyway -- crossed his mind.
"Well, what do you think, Eiji?" Oishi asked, brushing a stray lock of hair away from Eiji's face. "I'm still rather bad at telepathy."
"Nya, Oishi's so silly!" Eiji was still grinning. "I just decided I won't be with Oishi forever!"
Now, Oishi was taken aback. Sure, however much he loved Eiji, he knew that people rarely stayed forever together with somebody they had fallen in love with in junior high. Although they had managed to stay together rather long, sooner or later they might reconsider. Still, it was not something he would have expected Eiji to contemplate. The redhead was always one to live for the moment, never worrying about anything further than the next day, or perhaps the next match. So what was this?
"Nyaa, don't look so shocked," Eiji said, the grin turning into a little pout. Opening his previously closed eyes into a mild mock-serious glare, he reached up a finger to push Oishi's nose. "Beep, one Oishi shocked!" The grin returning, he then continued, "Of course I didn't mean I was going to break up with Oishi!"
"Well, you certainly made me think so," Oishi sighed. "I was rather startled."
"That's why you're so silly." Eiji smiled lovingly at him. "What I mean is that I want to be with Oishi longer than forever!"
"Eiji, there's no longer than forever," Oishi reminded him gently. "Although if there was, I'd be quite happy to spend it with you."
"That's what I thought, too!" Eiji's eyes closed again, combined with his brilliant smile the epitome of perfect happiness. "There has to be more than forever -- and I'm going to spend it with my one Oishi Syuichiroh!"
"Huh?" Thomas looked surprised. "I didn't think you were into this kind of stuff. Sure, it's great, but for a Japanese you have awfully little interest for J-pop."
Of course he didn't listen to J-pop. None of it was worth his time, nowadays. As Thomas seemed to be expecting a response of some kind, however, he paused for a while, then said, "It was... a gift from someone." Someone he loved very, very dearly. Enough so to still miss him, after six years of... not seeing the redhead. That was the problem, wasn't it, not seeing him.
With this, he actually left the office.
I won't promise you forever
Nor forever and a day
I won't be with you forever
I'm just not going away
The park was pleasantly quiet at the moment. Of course, this meant the song could freely play around in his mind like a child overdosed on sugar set free at a brand new playground. Or a certain redhead after one strawberry parfait too many with a free reign of a giant trampoline.
There was wind, he noticed, a soft, fluttering breeze that touched his hair but failed to mess it up like the ruffling hand of the redhead might have done. And somewhere, among the wind, he heard a little laugh, or perhaps some singing, just soft enough to reach his ears, so far away he wondered if he didn't imagine it after all.
If my promise you can't trust
I will still not go away
If my bones break into dust
I'll still haunt you all the way...