Author's Note: Ah, yes, the obligatory pre-fic Author's Note. After a three-year break from fanfic-writing (and a two-year break from this site), I suddenly got the itch to write again, and this time, I actually had something in mind. Hence, the comeback - not a grand one, mind you; just a nice, simple comeback with an honest-to-goodness Tokiya/Fuuko fic, which I hope you enjoy.
Standard disclaimers apply.
Kapitel Eins (Chapter One)
A BEGINNING LIKE AN END
Even from the beginning of this story, there is already much I must explain. A pale yellow envelope. The grim news it brought. The country from where it came; the country it arrived in. And of course, every single reason why it had to travel so far.
But I was never a fan of explaining myself, so you'll excuse me if I leave out some details. I will tell what I must, from the beginning, to what I imagine must be the end. The rest, however, I will leave to your imagination.
In truth, the beginning reads more like an end, but I will tell it anyway.
I graduated from Nashikiri High with a medal that told the world I was the class valedictorian, and a full scholarship to Tokyo University. A completely different set of possibilities had spread itself before me like some high-class courtesan, and I let her seduce me. I could not be blamed: after all, compared to university life, high school seemed so small to me, so I stepped out of it and left it behind.
I left them, too. Yanagi, Recca, the whole of Team Hokage, or so they continued to call themselves. My scholarship included a lodging grant, which I'd applied for without their knowledge, foolishly thinking it would be easy to leave. When they found out I had to move to campus, I sensed their disappointment, even despite their cheers and congratulations. Truth be told, I felt a stab of disappointment too. I'd only begun to grow fond of seeing them every day – they were the first people I could call friends – and all of a sudden, I was on a bus to the Komaba campus, bags at my feet, gazing back at them as they stood at the station in the dying afternoon light.
That was the last I saw of them for a while. Their senior year was my freshman year, and over those ten months, it was only Yanagi whose letters came to me. During my birthday, there were gifts in the mail from the rest, but it was clear that ours was not a friendship made for long distances.
I spent the summer in advance classes, which I took so I could have more free periods during the semester. I thought I could spend those free periods doing research on training applications, but something came up. Or to put it more accurately, someone.
Kirisawa Fuuko appeared in Tokyo University that year, a freshman ready to major in Earth and Planetary Physics.
"Astrophysics?" I asked the first time I ran into her. "I'd never have imagined it."
"There's a lot you don't know about me, Mikagami Tokiya," she said coolly, lowering her Ray-Bans to peer at me intently.
I shrugged. "High school wasn't a lot of time." When she smiled at what I said, I smiled back.
Four months later, I kissed her for the first time, late in the afternoon in front of the library, while the sun was setting and the students were few. Almost two months after that, we made love for the first time in the darkness of my dorm room with books on medical history at the foot of my bed.
Two months after that, I moved out of the Komaba campus to the Hongo campus to begin Medicine, but she and I were still together. When she herself moved to the Hongo campus to begin Earth and Planetary Physics, things were much easier for us. My senior year – her junior year – was my best in college.
When she graduated, I was in my fifth year of medical school. She took on work as a research assistant to fund her post-graduate studies, and between the time I was spending in surgical training and the time she was spending studying atmospheric pressure, we saw less and less of each other. It was no surprise to us when we felt we had to break up, and so we did. We stayed friends, but didn't work to keep in contact. When my last year rolled around, we hardly saw or spoke to each other at all. The last I heard of Fuuko was that she'd found herself someone new, someone who had the same schedules as her, someone she could be with more often than I could manage.
So when I received a grant to train further in the Charité in Germany, I didn't think twice about leaving again. I submitted the documents they needed me to, graduated at the top of the class again, packed my bags and boarded a plane to Berlin. I remember being in a window seat on that plane, Japan beneath me in a mess of green and grey, when I realized – with a sadness that shocked even me – that I was not going to come back.
It's been thirteen years since.
After eight years of training as a cardiac surgeon and five years of practice, I've seen too many human hearts: illustrations, photographs, models, even the real thing on various occasions – and as far as I'm concerned, none of them could be called broken. There are sick hearts; there are damaged hearts; there are failing hearts. Medically speaking, there are never any broken hearts.
Yanagi's was a damaged heart. Patent ductus arteriosus, said Fuuko's letter. In a nutshell, what happened was this: a hole that is present in the hearts of yet-unborn infants is supposed to slowly start closing when they are born and take their first breath. For Yanagi, however, that was not the case.
I have no idea why her heart defect went undetected for so long. All her fainting spells during the time I was with her – I should have known better. But I can imagine Hanabishi's surprise when he heard something clatter in the kitchen. He told us he ran downstairs as fast as he could, Fuuko wrote. When he came in, Yanagi was collapsed on the kitchen floor with a sponge in her hands and a soapy pot at her side. He carried her to his car and drove as fast as he could to the nearest hospital.
She was dead when he got there, she said.
Medically speaking, there are never any broken hearts. But what I felt when I read Fuuko's letter –my chest grew tight, and I felt something inside me sink. Yanagi Sakoshita, the lovely hime we'd all fought for, the beautiful young thing I'd loved in some dark and lonely season – dead of heart failure at thirty-seven.
It is early evening when I unlock the door to my Berlin apartment. I have filed a three-day leave with the hospital, and I have made arrangements for the four AM flight to Tokyo. The door swings open, and the light of the setting sun throws odd, fiery shapes across my walls. Times like this, I can't handle the darkness, so I turn the lights on.
Thirteen years. It's been a long time. There is much I must pack, hotel reservations I must deal with, certain confrontations I must prepare for. Medically speaking, there are never any broken hearts. But I am steeling myself for the possibility that when I see these old faces, these once-friends I abandoned, medical opinion will be shot to hell.
I lock the door, take off my coat and sink into the sofa. Rubbing my eyebrow, I glance at my watch. Six-eighteen. In a few hours, I'll be in Japan again, and though to some it may seem like a homecoming, to me it seems as if my past is slowly – finally – catching up with me.
Again, the author here: Yes, this is Tokiya's POV, and yes, the fic is set far into the future (the Recca-tachi are almost in their forties), which I think is the reason why I decided to make the storytelling less energetic and more... how shall I say it - world-weary, so to speak. I hope you still enjoyed it though. Till the next chapter, ja! :)