By Laura Schiller
Series: Shugo Chara
Kairi stared out the window of his room, looking down at the dismal labyrinth of grey concrete apartment blocks without really seeing anything. His room, his apartment, his city...he knew most people were fond of their homes, but he'd never liked the place – and at this moment, after a week of getting himself reacquainted with it, he hated it more than ever.
It was a 236-minute-long airplane ride away from Hinamori Amu.
He turned away, his eyes traveling absently over the white walls, plain wooden furniture, black bedspread and overstuffed bookshelf. He had books on science, mathematics, economics, philosophy; also several literary classics from both the Chinese and European tradition. Things an elementary schoolboy would normally not be reading. He had a sizable collection of samurai manga, too- hidden in the closet.
Once he had overheard his father on the phone, talking to Grandfather. "Kairi's a good boy," he'd said. "Smart, dependable, hardworking." And Kairi had done his best to ensure that it remained true.
Kairi's mother had died giving birth to him. Yukari had taken care of the housework at first, but after she moved out, it had been up to him to cook, clean, and make sure that his lawyer father didn't kill himself working overtime. His teachers always said he was very serious for his age, and it was no wonder.
Until Musashi was born, the dashing, heroic role model inspired by his comics, and Yukari had whisked them both off to Tokyo to help her in her work.
Ironically, he thought, being recruited into the ranks of a power-hungry Easter Company was possibly the best thing that had ever happened to him. otherwise, he might never have met Amu – the pink and golden rose in his concrete life, who fascinated him because she was everything he was not.
The position of Joker certainly fit her. She was a wild card, joyful, spontaneous; she drew people to her like moths to a dancing, sparkling flame. There were so many sides to her, it was like watching a caleidoscope: cool-and-spicy, shy, awkward, confident, clumsy, happy, thoughtful, tender...her moods changed from one instant to the next, just as she changed transformations with her Charas. There was a warmth and passion in her voice, in the way she looked and moved, that drew him almost in spite of himself. And, of course, she was beautiful. If she had been a noblewoman and he a samurai in a previous era...
He couldn't believe how many mistakes a person like him, whom teachers and classmates praised for his intelligence and common sense, could make in a matter of months. He was a traitor – a double traitor, who had broken faith with the Guardians by spying on them, and with Easter for his disobedience. He had been foolish enough to start to care about his enemies. His insubordinance had cost his sister her job.
And on the other hand – how many X egg CDs had he planted, how many children's dreams had been drained out of them like water from a sponge? He could still hear Amu in his head, screaming, X eggs swirling around her in a vicious whirlpool of despair. This was what he had done.
It often took a long time until he could fall asleep at night.
He'd gotten everything wrong.
He stood up from his seat at the desk, closed the math notebook which he couldn't concentrate on anyway, and began pacing around the apartment. Everything was tidy, but lonely-looking, as if no one lived there; he had the strange urge to scatter magazines around, leave a used coffee mug on the table. A touch of pink, that was what the place needed. Pink, blue and green. Cheerful colors.
There was a letter on the coffee table. His father must have put it there when he picked up the mail that morning. Kairi picked it up without much interest – blinked – adjusted his glasses to make ure he was seeing correctly – and flushed scarlet from his ears to the back of his neck.
He did not consider himself an excitable person, but somehow, with trembling fingers, he nearly tore the envelope to shreds in his frustration with the sticky seal. It read:
I feel stupid calling you Iinchou now after everything, so I hope you don't mind that I'm just using your given name like this. About what you said to me at the airport, I'm sorry. I was so confused I didn't know what to say. No one's ever confessed to me before.
Now that you're gone, I miss you so much. You sitting opposite me at Guardian meetings, pushing up your glasses, talking in that formal adult way you have, getting us into order like a real team. I miss the sound of your voice, and how we could always count on you to stay cool in a tough situation, and how your eyes look when you smile.
I've been confused for a really long time, but now I see everything clearly.
I like you, Kairi. A lot.
You don't really need to become 'a suitable man', you know. You're fine just the way you are – but it's awesome that you want to become even better and all us guardians, our Charas and I promise to cheer you on every step of the way.
If you're feeling bad about Easter, don't. Nobody got hurt with the CD's after all and nobody blames you. Also, we know your intentions were always good. You stood by us when it counted, so we trust you. I trust you – I'll never forget how you jumped in front of me with your blades, protecting me.
I'm wearing your bracelet right now. It's one of the things I like about you the most – not just that you gave me a present, but that it was the one thing in the shop I really wanted. Some people give you presents that they think you should have, but people like you, Kairi, put others first. Thank you so much.
I guess I'd better stop this letter before I write something really embarrassing. I guess I already have. Your sister, Nikaido-sensei, Yaya and Tadase-kun send their regards. Rima's making a deadpan face as usual, but she probably wishes you all the best as well.
P.S.: You were so cool as Samurai Soul.
The letter was painstakingly written on note paper with a faint red plaid pattern, with small, spiky characters which crowded together anxiously at first, but grew larger and more open towards the end. Kairi felt comforted and revitalized at once, as if he had downed a mug of steaming hot chocolate after a walk in the snow.
What do you know, he thought. I must have done something right.