Title: A Single Grain Of Rice
Character/Pairing: Nagase Kai/Gaku
Summary: A single grain of rice can tip the scales. Nagase knows this. Nagase Kai/Gaku
Rating: PG, I guess.
A/N: found in my drafts, circa February 06. It was intended for the February 31_days theme "pick up my love with chopsticks" but never got finished then. This is more based upon game/drama/novel canon than anime, though should be perfectly comparable if you've only seen the anime version. (And it's also why I'm using Kai, as Gaku starts to call him by his first name soon enough) Before you mention characterization, take that to mind, please~ There's a note on the end where I'll elaborate where I'm coming from.
The roof is high and the air is decidedly traditional, in the small garden outside there is a pond with multicolored koi languidly swimming to and fro. The screens beside them are cream and brown, light shines through, however dimly. Kai does not enshrine the past as some take to doing. He ignores the festivals, whatever form they take. Modernity and science are his only interests, and those are an all consuming passion, or at least the closest thing to passion Kai can muster. Gaku himself prefers places that are charged with energy, he prefers Western food, the unhealthiest kind around. Greasy hamburgers with generic slabs of cheese, sticky sugarwater soda and greasier potatoes. He's seen the oil stains from trips out with Hano after hours and the evidence of the bags and wrappers left to the refuse bin. Their trips have never taken them to such places, he only knows secondhand.
Kai does not know what whim made Gaku choose this place. He does not understand the sparks of reason and capriciousness that make up Gaku; Kai is merely caught within the spinning force of him.
"You know," Gaku says in-between mouthfuls, his chopsticks pointed up towards the ceiling, "a single grain of rice can tip the scales. Isn't that profound?"
"True," Kai says.
He knows this. A single particle, a single meaningless fragment can wear away a plan until it is nothing. One ion is all it takes. The one that is his undoing is far more explosive and kinetic than most, that ion also brings one hell of a dinner bill.
Kai sighs, but it is one that has a trace of affection hidden deep within. He does not concern himself with monetary affairs. He mentally calculates the damage as Gaku orders seconds. His own food is barely touched. It isn't that the food itself was unsatisfying, more that his appetite has never been noteworthy. There was always a bit of strangeness clinging to him, as if he was one of those fabled changeling children.
Gaku stares down at the bowl as if by Kai having eaten from it would give it some kind of spectacular flavor.
"Are you gonna eat that?" Gaku says.
"Go ahead," Kai murmurs.
Gaku takes the bowl and sets about the course of devouring it. Kai watches, balancing his chin upon his clasped hands. It does not take him long to finish, and Gaku pushes the bowl back and slips deep into his unlimited supply of bliss.
"Ah! Good food, makes me feel like I could curl up and fall asleep–"
"Is that so," Kai says, half amused by this. It isn't truly a question for he already knows the answer, the speaking aloud was simply useless rhetoric.
A white grain of rice perches at the side of Gaku's mouth, it stays stuck even with every movement of expression, a remarkable feat, given Gaku's excess of expressions, especially smiling.
"Your cheek," Kai says.
"Hummm?" Gaku says, his voice tinged with sleepiness. He blinks, once twice and tilts his head in the manner of a curious puppy. "Whaatzat Kai?"
He sounds almost drunk in his sleepiness, in the most endearing way. Kai brushes it away in a gesture that is both intimate and oddly distant, warm and cold at the same time.
Gaku's face is red, flushed with happiness and some lingering sense of embarrassment. His infatuation has yet to fade, but Kai knows it will. Science has disproved love, and religion and its gods that humanity had made in their own image. At the moment, Kai is at best, a subconscious drug used by nature. Soon the rush will fade, the endorphins stop and times like this will be mere memories. The energy, the spark and the sound of Gaku's voice all drifted away.
That was life. Still, even with that resolve and knowing there was a tightness clenching within him. Gaku's face is always looking up at him in wonder, to have such adoration is a stoke to the fires of the ego. One day the chemicals will disperse and dissipate. Love is the god man made to warm the cold knowing that there was nothing – that life was a series of nothings until blankness settled into oblivion.
Kai pays the check and leaves the rest to whatever worker's duty it is. He rises and takes Gaku up with him. He clasps hand over hand and Gaku stumbles into him. A part of him has a vague wondering if this was intentional, the lusts of the body or some fortuitous accident. He treats Gaku like any drunk, though he is not, and allows Gaku the time against his chest before allowing himself to lead him out.
Gaku leaning against him is the antidote to the coldness of the air about him. Prickles over his skin, chemicals and attraction and lusts. Nothing more into nothing.
Gaku sighs happily. He reeks of contentment, of the utopia he has built up that contains just Kai and Science with a strange brand of idealism. Gaku is adept, even brilliant at science, but he is young and he has forgotten too much. He is drunk on the happiness, blessed by it.
This time Kai doesn't think of his father, of the path carved for him that he fell into without resistance. He doesn't think of his god science, or the nothingness, he doesn't think of algorithm or the formation of the periodic table – he only thinks of the night and the cold and Gaku. He supports Gaku in a grip too wooden and distant to be affectionate. Gaku is falling asleep on him and the night air is cold and clean, purer than he's ever breathed in before. The night seems endless, but Kai knows that it will vanish into another day and for once he isn't indifferent and numb to its passing.
Random notes on characterization:
In the Drama/novel/Game (not including the PS2 adaptation, he was so sadistic there! Even Tsutae Yuzu hated that! ;_;) Kai came off as more amoral (as opposed to immoral) and cynical than being truly evil. Mostly he'd rather be left alone to his science experiments and Gaku, and generally if he gets involved it's because Aizawa made him to. (he rather hates Aizawa. Aizawa and Gaku actually get along really well though, there was a really cute part in Love Stories for that.) He is rather a bastard to Sora in particular (half of it seems to be jealousy) and certainly doesn't help along enough to be considered 'good', and more than once Gaku has gotten hurt by being with him, but Kai isn't some mindlessly evil villain. White Flower and one of the After Stories parts made it clear that Kai loved Gaku, probably loved him from the very beginning. I think everything I write about him is tinged with the last scenes of White Flower in mind because it was so beautiful and what made me love the pairing so in the first place.