This was originally intended to be finished around Mother's Day, but life got in the way. Oh well. (Also, this would of been incredibly depressing to read around Mother's Day, so it was probably a good thing I didn't) Anyway, this is my first time writing TWEWY fic, so I hope you guys like it and that I didn't make Joshua out of character. (Which was my biggest concern for this fic, but since I'm having a younger version of himself involved, I probably don't have to worry about that) His mom doesn't have a name because I am incredibly uncreative when it comes to coming up with Japanese names. This is, unfortunately, a rather sad take on some things, and involves character death. (Of course, as his death is never quite explained, I took my own creative liberties with it) I don't own TWEWY or the wonderful characters from it, however, portrayal of his parents (mostly his mom) is pretty much my creation.
Scales and Arpeggios
"And they all lived happily ever after..."
She had never really been particularly gifted in beauty or intelligence, but she supposed that she was creative, and that was good enough.
Perhaps her true talent was in music, for she was quite gifted with the piano. After graduating from a decent college with a degree in music, she was often hired to attend parties to play for them or teaching piano to the young children in the neighborhood.
And, it was in one of these occasions, when playing the piano at a wedding, did a young man approach her, and compliment her on her playing. She smiled and thanked him, and was surprised when the man offered to get her a drink. His warm smile and disposition won her over, and she accepted. Taking his hand as he helped her up, she said, "You are very kind, Mister Kiryu."
Little did she know that two years later, she would soon be Mrs. Kiryu.
He almost never comes home anymore and they don't speak to each other unless they have to and he spends way too much time in the study playing shogi and chess by himself, however, their eyes often meet each others at the same time at the dinner table, before they both gaze, at the same time, at the vacant spot in between them where someone should be sitting, but isn't.
She doesn't play for parties anymore and only occasionally teaches piano every now and then.
Instead, she spends her days reading to the young boy sitting next to her.
"-And they all lived happily ever after." they say together as she closes the book.
He smiles that perfect smile of his, "I love how everythin' works out in the end, because everyone is happy, right Mama?" he asks.
She nods. "Of course. All stories have happy endings, Joshua."
[Or at least, that's what you want children to believe at a young age]
He moves to pick up another book and holds it out to her.
"Will you read this one next?" he asks, violet eyes sparkling. She smiles, ruffling a hand through his light grey hair. (Definitely got his looks from her, she thinks) She catches the book's title, "The Piano and You", which causes her to chuckle, not at his choice, because he was an intelligent child that was always interested in anything new that he could learn, but in the book itself.
"Didn't I already read this one to you?" she asks. He scrunches his face up in a pout.
"But I want to hear it again..."
She chuckles again before taking the book from him. "Alright then, dear..."
He moves closer to her, pointing at the book. "I like the part where they talk about the scales and the...the..." he suddenly trails off, trying to find the word.
"A-", she starts to say, but he stops her. "Wait, I can 'member!" he says, face scrunched up as he tries to remember what it was. After a few seconds, he says, "I 'member now, they're called 'arpezios'!"
"Arpeggios, Joshua." she corrects gently.
"Arp-eshi-yos" he sounds out, looking to her for approval. She nods, leaning down to plant a kiss on his forehead. "That's right, dear."
"Arpeggios..." he says again, more to himself, as if he's soaking up the word like a sponge. She smiles as she opens the book, thinking about how intelligent her Joshua is and how she couldn't be any more prouder of him.
Sometimes, years later, as she goes about her business, she can see him in the crowded streets, sometimes alone or sometimes with a young boy wearing headphones, an orange phone in hand as he moves about, smiling lightly, (the first real smile she's ever seen him have) and she's too stunned to call out to him, not even when he walks right past her as if she's the one that doesn't exist, but by the time the shock wears off and she turns to say something to him, he's already gone.
One day, she's on her way to 104 with him (holding his hand, even though he declares that he can walk without needing to hold her hand), when they pass by the scene of an automobile accident.
"What happened?" she asks a lady in front of her, due to the crowd and scene blocking them from passing on through.
"Drunk driver apparently missed the light and hit a young girl crossing the street."
"How terrible..." she says, watching the police as they place a white sheet over the dead girl's body. She suddenly feels little nails digging into her pants leg, "What's going on, Mama?"
And then she remembers that Joshua's right there next to her and is watching all this. She quickly stoops down, going to shield the view from him. "Dear..."
But then, she notices something. He's not looking at the scene in front of them. Instead, his gaze is directed toward the Scramble Crossing, in the general direction of the Statue of Hachiko. His eyes are wide, reminding her of the look she sees when he reads his books and soaks up the knowledge that he learns from them. At first, she thinks that he is just looking away from the scene in front of them. She sighs, placing her hands on his shoulders.
"A girl got injured very badly..." she says, watching him carefully to see how he takes this. Even though she has explained to him, after her mother passed away and he had wondered why they were burying her in the ground while she was asleep, the concept of life and death, she still couldn't help but feel as if he was too young to know of such things.
The response he gives, however, is not one she expects. "But Mama, she looks fine to me..."
"What makes you say that?" she asks, a little worried. He points out a spot a few feet from them.
"Because she's standing right there."
She slowly turns to look at the spot where he's pointing. She doesn't see anyone.
"Dear, there's no one there..." she says, but he shakes his head.
"She is! I can see her! She's right there!" he points again, sounding desperate. "You believe me, don't you?"
And she sees an odd look in his eyes, one that scares her a little. A child should never have a serious expression like that. She looks back at the spot, entertaining the thought that he might have been seeing a ghost. She looks back at him.
"...Yes, I do."
He stares at her for the longest moment before looking down, as if defeated. "...Good." She speculates he knows that she didn't believe him.
She pulls him into a hug, hoping against all odds that he had just been imagining things.
[Perhaps, she thinks, maybe that was when things changed and when the sparkle from his eyes seemed to disappear]
Some nights afterward, he would have nightmares, and as she would sit next to him trying to comfort him, she heard him say odd things like "a bunch of people disappearing into thin air" or of "people with wings that called themselves reapers", but soon enough, the nightmares went away without a problem, or perhaps he just wasn't telling her anymore.
She sits quietly, looking out the window and listening to the rain coming down, and as phrases such as "clinical depression" and "post-traumatic stress" get thrown about around her by the man in glasses sitting in the desk in front of her, her thoughts instead turn to him and wondering if he's happy wherever he is right now as well as remembering that she has until tomorrow to sign the divorce papers her husband had given her.
The years come and go, and as he becomes a gifted piano player, she begins to notice little things about him. He doesn't seem to have any friends and spends all his time after school hanging out a place called the WildKat Cafe, supposedly to play games with its owner. He is still intelligent and good-looking of course, (maybe a little feminine) and has an insatiable love of games, but the sparkle that used to be in his eyes has been replaced with a clouded, far off look, as if watching a magical world that only he can see but not be a part of. (And sometimes she wishes that he can be apart of that world that he sees, if only to make him happy like how he used to be)
One day, as he sits at the piano playing a random melody, she sits down next to him to listen. The music sounds lively and superb for his playing level, and yet there is an odd, foreboding sense to it that she can't quite place.
"How's school?" she asks while he plays. He looks up momentarily to smile and say that it's going well, having got the highest test scores once again. As he returns to playing, he asks, conversationally, "What time do you think Father's coming home tonight?"
"I'm afraid that he's going to be running late again...the office has him going through tons of paperwork." she says. Somehow, this is not surprising to either of them. It seems that he's never home anymore, and it's something they both quietly accept. He replies with a small "hmm" without looking up, continuing to play.
She watches him, concern evident. "And how are you doing?"
His fingers linger over the keys. "Fine."
She frowns. As a mother, she can feel when ones child says that they're "fine" when they really aren't. It's not that she thinks he's depressed, but of course, as a mother she can't help but be concerned. She absentmindedly runs a hand through his hair, offering a slight chuckle. "Dear, have you ever thought of cutting your hair?"
This causes him to giggle a little (albeit, it sounds kind of girlie, but she can't help but love it because she likes to hear him laugh) as he says, "If I did that, then I wouldn't be as dashingly handsome anymore."
She laughs a little, "Yes, I suppose you do look better with longer hair."
They're quiet for a moment and she removes her hand from his hair. "Joshua..."
"...You would tell me if something was wrong, right?"
He turns to look at her, an odd look passing over his face. It reminds her of the look she had seen years ago, at the accident when he-
But it is quickly replaced by a look of vague surprise. "Of course I would."
Somehow, this doesn't make her feel any sure. "This is important. You have to tell me if there's something wrong, so that I can help you, alright?"
His eyes seem to scan her face, and for a second, she sees something akin to sadness, something that says 'You can't help me', before he smiles and says "Of course. I know that I can go to you about anything, right?"
She smiles. "Of course you can. I'm your mother, and mothers always look out for their sons because they care about them. I want you to know that I'll always be there for you and that I love you very much." She's not sure why she has to say this, but for some reason she feels she has to, right now.
He smiles and replies, perhaps a little sarcastically, "Good to know."
She hugs him, and after a moment, he hugs back, albeit a little awkwardly. As he starts to go back to playing, he says lightly, "So, what brought all this on?"
She laughs a little. "Sorry dear, I guess you're just growing up so fast...lately it feels like I'm losing you."
He doesn't say anything at first, but after a moment, he suddenly laughs. "You have nothing to worry about. I'm not going anywhere."
And she smiles more widely now, because she knows that he is right and that she can trust him.
Some days, when she's alone in the house, she thinks she can hear the piano playing, and for a second she thinks she can see him absentmindedly twirling a stray strand of light grey hair away from his face before he continues playing, but just as quickly as it comes, he is gone, and an achingly empty, hollow silence is left in his place.
Her fondest memory, she thinks, is when she is sitting at the dinner table, chopsticks halfway to her lips, as she listens to Joshua telling his father about the scales and arpeggios he learned from the book she had read him that afternoon, smiling with pride at how he knows how to pronounce "arpeggios" correctly. She watches as he shows them a picture of little musical notes surrounding their stick family and the stick building skyscrapers of Shibuya that he drew and proudly declares that he can draw within the lines. His father compliments and suggests that he think about a future career in art, but Joshua shakes his head and says that he would much rather be a "composter" (which earns a few chuckles from his parents before she corrects him, "I think you mean composer, dear...") so that he can draw the little musical notes on the music sheets and create his own music.
She looks to her husband, remembering the gentleman that had swept her off her feet years ago, and that even if he works late sometimes, she couldn't ask for a better husband because she knows that he will always be there for her; and then to her son, an innocent, intelligent little boy that can walk and talk and even read a few sentences all on his own, and even knows how to play games that had more strategy to them than a simple card game of Go Fish or board games like checkers.
And as she listens to Joshua begging for Daddy to teach him how to play that strange game of his with the black and white pieces that kind of look like people, she knows that she has the perfect family, and that nothing could ever change that.
She opens the door just in time to see a pair of bored, violet eyes briefly flicker in her direction, accompanied by a small, sad smile that seemed to whisper a vague apology just before the trigger from the gun to his head is pulled and-
["And they all lived happily ever after..." she remembers, had been his favorite part of the story.]