~better off with girls~
Knowledge acted as ignorance.
It was a marvelous spring day in Odaiba, after the sakura trees had come out but before the heat of summer. On a high hill in a public park, two of the most world-weary Digidestined were having a debate.
"You have to choose, Miyako. It's the rules."
"I know…but the emotional fuckwittery of it all astounds me." Miyako stuck out her tongue at Takeru, who was grinning expectantly. "Umm. If I had to sleep with either Sora or Mimi…hmm… I'd choose Mimi."
The two adolescents—Takaishi Takeru and Inoue Miyako—were sitting carelessly on the sunny side of the hill, looking down over the children playing on the swings and other outdoor gymnastic equipment. Takeru was sitting with a leg hooked over Miyako's ankle in a very casual, friendly way. Both were dressed in the sharp green uniform of Odaiba High School, preening on the delicate new grass without much concern for propriety or manners. In fact, Miyako barely seemed concerned that her skirt was riding up and showing off quite a bit of leg… and a little bit of panties!… to the mass of public who could potentially be gawking from below.
They were not dating. They were not secret lovers. Neither was nursing a secret flame for the other. The only thing they shared was a complete lack of shame, which they were executing quite brilliantly at that moment.
"Mimi? She's pretty enough, but damn. Sora's not bad and then you don't get saddled with that 100-watt Disney mind of Mimi's."
"Mimi's not any sillier then Yamato. Or you, for that matter. She just doesn't bother to hide her enthusiasm under a veneer of coolness like you and your brother do. Or--" Miyako coughed delicately. "Try to do."
Miyako flicked the ashes of her cigarette off to the side, a practiced maneuver. "Sora and Mimi are like two parts of myself, you know. Or I'm kind of like a blend of the two of them. Any insult directed at either one is like unto an insult directed to me. Thus sayeth me."
Takeru laughed. "Oohh… now I get it… the uncharacteristic reluctance! The feigned blush! The great Inoue Miyako may revel in her bisexual status, but she draws the line at fucking her spiritual sisters. What a comfort! The world rests easier knowing that your sexual voraciousness is limited only by the bounds of your ego."
Wisely, Miyako ignored this. The two sat in silence for a little bit, a comfortable silence—until Miyako spied something interesting.
"Here comes Daisuke! Who's the girl he's with?"
"Keiko… she's a freshman."
"Hey! She's not bad!"
Wearing the same green uniform of Miyako and Takeru, Daisuke walked along the path slowly… very slowly. His arm was snugged around the waist of an adorable, fresh-faced girl, and his fingers were hitched just under the band of her skirt. He looked rumpled, unkempt, and content.
Takeru looked smug. "I'm surprised you hadn't heard. She's the daughter of an automobile tycoon. By far, Daisuke's most impressive catch to date."
Miyako shook her head. "You are forgetting about Anya."
"The Russian? She looked like a porn star."
Snorting in contempt, Miyako almost choked on her cigarette. "Whatever. She was tall, delicate, with such pretty dark hair…."
This was another game. Takeru took it up eagerly: the conclusion was inevitable, but always satisfying. "Ah…yes. The stereotypical Daisuke Girl. Dark. Pouty lips, heartbreaking eyes…"
"…blue are best…"
"Of course! Her skin must be pale…"
Takeru and Miyako began to lean in towards each other. She blew smoke in his face, and he coughed a little. Both of them were grinning like mad.
"She is smart!" Takeru declared.
"Tragic!" Miyako added.
"Oh Daisuke Girl! You tear my heart out with your terrible beauty, your fragile grace!" Takeru placed a hand over his heart, and pretended to look yearning.
"Your lack of a sense of humor!" Miyako, also with hand over heart, took up the ode.
"Your dependence on Prozac for basic functioning!"
"Your excellent taste in clothing!"
"Your exotic past!"
Miyako and Takeru began to giggle, and fell to the grass, while Daisuke and his new girlfriend walked along far below, oblivious to the kind-hearted teasing going on above him. They lay like this for quite a while, paroxysms of laughter erupting just when the prior spate of giggles subsided. This went on for several minutes. They almost completely missed the spectacle of Daisuke making out, but that was okay. It wasn't anything they hadn't seen before anyway.
Once the laughter was well and truly finished, Takeru turned to look at Miyako, a mask of mock solemnity cast over his face. "Dear, Dear Daisuke Girl. So unlike anyone else we have ever met before." A hint of sarcasm tainted his voice, but it was very slight. He might have found Daisuke's plight amusing, and his ignorance of it hilarious, but he loved Daisuke too much to be very severe on him.
Miyako smiled. This pronouncement ended the game, and signified the beginning of Gossip. "This pattern. So precious of him, don't you think? It would almost seem desperate, except that Daisuke sure looks like he enjoys the sex."
"Yeah, but that's all it is. Has he ever loved one of these girls?"
"Nah. He's pining for the Prototype. To bad he's too dense to realize this for himself."
Takeru ran his fingers through Miyako's hair, so pretty and glistening in the sunlight. It was nice to be a sensualist, a touchy-feely person. They could touch so many different people and no-one thought much of it. "Would you ever call him on it?"
"Never." Miyako breathed emphatically.
"How about 'the Prototype,' then. Do you think he'll ever get around to letting Daisuke know?"
"That he's gay, you mean? I have serious doubts that Ken could do anything that decisive. He'd be too afraid. He's as much as confessed it to me himself… in a very oblique manner, to be sure. You know." Miyako thought back to that difficult time, a few years back, when Ken killed her crush on him with a broken little confession of his own.
Takeru was still brushing her hair back, and she returned the favour by stroking the side of his neck. Still not a romantic scene. Certain kinds of people, such as these two, just needed to be touched, and sought it out frequently.
"Here's something that I just don't know. Ken might be gay, but does he love Daisuke?" Takeru thought to ask.
"I wish I knew, TK. I wish I did."
. + .
"I'm sorry, Hikari-san. I can't fix this chain without the proper tools."
While the Odaiba Digidestined were casually gathering in the park, the outliers were struggling heroically to meet them. Hikari sat on a bench, sharp white oxford shirt tucked into a royal blue skirt. She held a blazer of the same color, keeping it safe for the very handsome young man sitting a few feet away from her. He was looking up at her apologetically, appearing truly regretful that his celebrated genius could not conjure a functional bicycle chain out of thin air, to replace the hopelessly broken one that was currently greasing up his hands.
"It's okay, Ken. You can ride ahead, and I'll walk. I'll get there eventually." Hikari smiled encouragingly, but she couldn't stifle a slight sigh. Odaiba was pretty far away without the assistance of wheels.
Ken frowned at this. "We're already late as it is."
"Yeah. But I can't think of any other way to do it. I don't have enough money to take the train and get dessert."
Ken considered. "You could ride on my bike with me," he offered finally.
Hikari looked over to Ken's elegant, completely utilitarian bike. If it were equipped with a second seat, she failed to note it. "How?" she asked stupidly.
"On the handlebars. I'll go really slow…it'll be safe. You'll be wearing my helmet, of course." Ken said this last bit a little reproachfully. Hikari didn't have a helmet of her own, and refused to get one, despite his many tedious lectures on the subject.
"And force you to go without? That would be kind of cruel, don't you think?"
"I'll live," he said dryly.
Hikari looked down at her skirt and made a face. "I'll have to change, then."
"By all means, do."
Hikari walked back into the private school that the two former Saviors of the World had elected to attend. It still surprised Ken sometimes that Hikari was a classmate of his… it wasn't an easy trip for her, to come to the exclusive school right around the block from Ken's home.
Actually, it had surprised everyone, the day that she announced that she had applied to Tamachi Academy, and had been accepted. Takeru had been heartbroken, and Daisuke outraged—both of them assumed that her decision was rooted in a desire to get away from the complicated love triangle that had sprouted up ruthlessly between them.
In part, this was the case. Although Hikari's primary desire was to get the best education that her talents could garner, it was not without a pregnant sense of relief that she worked her way through the first year without the two boys pestering her. First Daisuke, and then Takeru, eventually moved on in their affections. This should have made her happy….
But it didn't. Ken thought about Hikari a lot these days. It was hard not to—she was the only one of his friends he saw every day (except weekends, which were reserved for Daisuke). As she stepped out of the school a few minutes later, Ken heaved a great sigh, a sigh of frustration and angst.
I'm gay. I'm gay. I should tell her. But I don't… because I've decided she's my girl to fall back on… if… if…
Ken was an ace at not answering his own "ifs."
"Are you ready?" he asked brightly.
. + .
Miyako and Takeru sat up in time to observe the final moments of Daisuke's makeout session, a beautiful display of unconcern and absolute horniness. He then ruffled the new girl's hair playfully, and turned to walk up the hill to join the two schemers. It was an inelegant, casual parting that appeared to pain the girl, who turned to leave slowly after seeming to stop herself from saying something more.
Daisuke didn't notice.
"Hey!" he called cheerfully. He appeared to be suffused with happiness.
"You look well. I wonder why?" Takeru asked disingenuously.
"My grades are back from the math test! I can't wait to show them to Ken… I did really well, and he helped me with everything." With this, he brandished a sheaf of papers.
"I see!" Miyako said, stifling a laugh.
"I don't suppose your happiness has anything to do with the fair Keiko, who is so lately departed. No?" Takeru prompted playfully. He couldn't get enough of this.
Daisuke plopped down next to Miyako, on the far side of Takeru. "What does she have to do with anything?"
"Oh, just wondering." Takeru nudged Miyako, a tiny movement hidden from Daisuke's sight.
"You must be very proud," Miyako intoned seriously. "I know you worked so hard."
Daisuke stretched like a cat, raising his arms up above his head in a triumphant gesture of completion. "This past week…what rigors! I can't even tell you. I was sweating blood under Ken's exhaustive tutelage. I despaired of ever understanding this geometry, but with Ken's help, I persevered! I am the champion of academics! Who would have thought?"
"Oh, you've always had it in you. You just needed someone understanding to bring it out of you." Takeru said, in a tone just insinuating enough that Miyako caught it. Daisuke remained oblivious.
"Ken is amazing, isn't he?" Daisuke enthused.
"Incredible." Miyako agreed gravely.
"He's also late," Takeru noted. " I wonder if he and Hikari are making out somewhere."
Daisuke blinked. "I don't think so.." he said slowly.
"Probably not," Takeru rejoined soothingly.
"Yeah." Daisuke smiled and then looked around. "Is Iori coming?"
"No… he has a big test tomorrow. He'll come next week, though."
Daisuke nodded. Takeru and Miyako also nodded. It was a nodding moment.
And then… it was a Ken moment! Daisuke saw Ken and Hikari first, coming in the entrance of the park very slowly. Hikari was riding on the handlebars of Ken's bike, kicking her legs casually out as Ken steered with intense concentration. As soon as Daisuke saw them, he got up and ran down the hill towards them, shouting like a banshee.
"I did it! I did it! I did it!" His voice trailing off as he retreated.
"I guess he did." Takeru said after a moment. Neither he nor Miyako bothered to get up to join their friends just then.
"Ohh, that was just too rich for words, wasn't it?"
"I feel kind of bad, exploiting the tragedy of this situation for my own amusement," Takeru said sourly, feeling a tiny bit ashamed of himself.
"It's not like we can intervene," Miyako said reasonably. "All we can do is prod the two of them artfully until one or the other breaks into revelation. I think it's a good and humane plan."
Daisuke caught up with the Tamachi High contingency, and was helping Hikari off the handlebars even as he appeared to be chatting it up animatedly with Ken.
"Ken or Daisuke?" Takeru asked Miyako, his moment of guilt having passed.
"Oh, Daisuke most definitely. You?"
"Tough one, but I think I'd go for Daisuke too. No weirdness."
"Oh you know, obsession with the darkness, painfully well-defined sexuality, angst galore. With Daisuke, it would just be about the sex. I think I could be fine with that."
"Takeru! Tell me you are gay! That was just too delicious!"
"Umm.. no. And it's really a shame, 'cause I'd be better at it then Ken... Look at him! He won't even let Daisuke hug him."
This observation was correct, as far as it went. Ken didn't exactly push Daisuke away when he impulsively went to hug him, but neither did he raise his arms to hug him back. He looked very stiff, even from far away.
"It's become more and more like that for Ken," Miyako said sadly. "He doesn't know how to act around Daisuke anymore."
Takeru nodded, and there was no trace of mockery or mirth in his face. "Poor Ken. This is killing him."
"Something is going to happen, and soon. With or without our prodding." Miyako said, taking a last puff on her cigarette. She then threw the butt off into the weeds somewhere.
"Yeah," Takeru agreed.
. + .
After dessert, Ken decided to walk Daisuke home, after some deliberation laced with hesitation, tinged with presumptive regret.
With the sun setting, it was a pretty moment. Daisuke had taken control of Ken's bike, and was scooting it along while Ken walked beside him, outwardly sedate. Ken wondered about Daisuke even more then he wondered about Hikari, and when he was being honest with himself, he would admit that it was far more exciting for him to think about his best friend in… dangerous ways.
For example… as Ken was unlocking his bike earlier, Daisuke sat on the seat. "Come home with me," he had begged. "I want to show you my new comic books."
"Um, okay." Ken had agreed quietly, after checking with Hikari to make sure that she was okay about getting home. His plan was to show up really early to school the next morning, and fix the bike for her. The Hikari situation was under control... so Ken was free to suffer through the complicated feelings that his sexuality and preferences incurred whenever he was around Daisuke.
Bah... I should only be friends with girls. They would never make me feel this way.
Ken shook his head slightly. And isn't that the problem? he thought bitterly.
It was just too nice to be like this, to walk so casually with Daisuke.
I could never tell him. He'll hate me.
And this would be the real problem.
"… so you see, the conclusion is inevitable. Takeru is insane."
Ken stretched to place a hand on the handlebar of his bike, stroking it absently. "Yeah?"
"Item: the way he flirts with Miyako." Because Ken's bike seat was too high up for Daisuke to touch the ground while sitting, he had to scootch off every time he slowed beyond the point that forward velocity could keep him stable. He did this now, slowing to accommodate Ken's grip on the bike.
"Why is that insane?" Ken's hand was just shy of the center of the bar, and he was reaching in front of Daisuke's arm to help stabilize the bike. That reach was hard, however, so his hand slipped to the side slowly.
"Um…dunno. It just seems weird. They don't like each other, right?"
"That's just the way they are" Ken said reasonably, his hand slipping even further as he leaned his body ever so slightly away from the bike, creating a tension that Daisuke had to counter. His dark hair shifted cleanly with the movement, a block of shimmering purple with thin wisps wafting in the breeze.
Daisuke smirked at Ken winningly. He knew the game… an intergalactic struggle for control of some random inanimate object! He leaned the bike away from Ken, whose fingers slipped along the rest of the bar until his hand was flush with the rubber handle, and flesh pressed flesh. "I'm not sure that it's normal."
"Is there any such thing?"
" As normal? Hmm.." Daisuke was swaying the bike randomly, trying to loosen Ken's hold. So far, all it had done was cause him to knock into Ken a few times. "Yeah. Normal is anything that you don't notice."
"What does that mean?" Ken found himself falling into a deceptive trance, asking Daisuke probing question that made the smaller boy think, to distract him from the reality that their hands were touching and that Ken was blushing.
Daisuke loved philosophy! He scrunched up his face, the tip of his pink tongue sticking out just so. "Let's say I'm cooking dinner, and you smell it. At first, everything is just so great, the scent of the curry and rice is making your mouth water. But once you get used to the smell, it disappears. That's what I mean."
"So, are you saying that before you stopped smelling dinner, it was abnormal? That seems kind of questionable to me."
"I mean, like on a societal scale. If people are doing something so much that no one ever blinks, then it's normal. Most of the day-to-day things that people do are invisible, not even worth talking about, like brushing teeth or going to school. That's normal."
Ken looked over at Daisuke, a sidelong glance. "Is it bad to be abnormal, then?"
"I. Don't. Know." Daisuke said slowly, walking his fingers up Ken's arm with each word, a poke punctuating each syllable. He rounded it off by gently slapping Ken on the back of his neck, which caused Ken to startle, even though he was expecting it.
Ken turned his head slowly towards his friend, wondering if he could tell him the secret desires of his heart, those that had nothing to do with Daisuke, those that had everything to do with him. When Daisuke picked up his hand to tease Ken, the casual contact between the two of them ceased. According to Daisuke's own definitions, such touching was normal, because it wasn't even noticed.
But that's not the kind of normal I want. I want to be noticed.
I want to be wanted…
After staring into Daisuke's eyes for a long moment, working his throat uncomfortably, Ken dropped his gaze. Those fine brown eyes, rich caramel with amber edges, were so open and guileless. Daisuke was brightface, like a god, and it all stemmed from those perfect eyes. Can't say it. "Um. So what else is it about Takeru that you think is insane?" Ken asked, attempting nonchalance. Coward!
"Ah! Yes, yes. Just a sec. Do you wanna ride on the handlebar?" Daisuke asked, crinkling his eyes as he grinned impishly. "You and Hikari were such a vision earlier. Let's recreate that moment, why don't we?"
"Let's not." Ken released his hold on the bike, stuffing his hands into his pants pockets and looking uncomfortable.
"Come on… do you think I can't do it?" Daisuke asked suspiciously, and then flexed like a champion.
"It will look…weird."
"Bah. Don't you see? If it's you on those bars, it won't look strange at all. It'll be… picturesque!"
"You are such a baby!" Daisuke said teasingly. "Okay, Ken-chan. Whatever your little heart desires."
Ken felt a flash of delicious confusion, and suppressed it. He doesn't mean anything by that. I wish he'd stop being so… flirty. It means nothing.
"Item?" Ken asked, trying to get back to the main discussion.
Daisuke flipped his middle finger at Ken. "You're no fun!" he said, in a mock-pouty manner. "Fine, Item! Takeru is insane because he gave up on Hikari."
"So did you."
"But I never had a chance. You know she wanted him, secretly. It's so obvious to me now. And look at her…she doesn't even have the consolation of all the touchiness that he shares with Miyako."
"Yeah." Ken had noticed this.
"You are all she has now… how weird is that?"
This was an unexpected turn of the conversation. "I have no idea what that means."
Daisuke missed the cautionary tone in Ken's voice, so convinced of the rightness of his observation that he hadn't given thought to how Ken might feel about what he was about to say. "Heh..well, because you two will never become an item, that's for sure!"
"Why not?" Ken asked coolly, a dark abyss in his heart, wondering if Daisuke had already divined his secrets. There was a lot of hope in this moment... if Daisuke knew, and since he appeared not to be bothered by it... then maybe, maybe...
"You're a monk! Completely asexual!"
Ken stopped walking, his eyes shadowed by his eyelids. The look of disdain. It looked very good on him. "Do tell."
"You've never even kissed a girl, and look at you! You don't lack for admirers. Opportunity plagues you, and you just let it go by. Isn't this true?"
"True. Yes." Ken appeared to be tasting the words.
Finally, Daisuke realized that Ken was not happy with this line of commentary. "Are you very mad?" he asked contritely. Usually, when Daisuke had put his foot in his mouth, this little question was enough to bring a smile to Ken's face, and All Was Forgiven.
Ken remained stonefaced. "Not at all."
"Okay, so maybe you aren't a monk. It's just a figure of speech! You know I wouldn't have said it if I thought you couldn't get a girl this very second, if you wanted to." Daisuke got off the bike and flipped the kickstand in a quick movement, so that he could put his arm around Ken's shoulder and apologize.
Ken wouldn't have it. He moved away from the offered embrace, and the look he gave Daisuke was that of a stranger. "I think I could, too." Ken said, not arrogantly but arrogant seeming. There was no emotion at all in his voice, and he refused to look at his longtime friend and Jogress partner.
For Daisuke, it was always so easy for him to forget that no matter how open Ken was with him, that genius mind and tortured personality meant that Ken had thoughts he could not see, might never know. Most of the time, Daisuke operated as if that Shadow Ken didn't exist, because it was too intimidating. But sometimes...
Daisuke was overcome with a sense of despair. He's so far beyond me... how can I reach someone so clearly superior?
"You could, too!" Daisuke said quietly. "You could have anyone you wanted."
"And if I wanted Hikari?" Ken said, his voice brittle, his tone uncompromising. He was daring Daisuke to object.
"That would be...okay... I guess." Why was it so hard for Daisuke to say these words?
"Fine. I will ask her out, then. Seeing as how you don't object, of course."
"...if you want."
Ken looked away from Daisuke, hiding his despair. Fight for me! Want me! But no... you don't want me, Daisuke. You never have. "Give me my bike."
"Give me my bike. It seems I won't be going home with you after all. I need to see about a girl."
. + .
Takeru was setting up all of the necessary equipment on the bathroom sink: plastic gloves, petroleum jelly, grungy towel, shower cap, nail scissors, and box of Palty Baby Strawberry dye.
The paper instruction sheet was spread out to one side, and although he intended to ignore most of the warnings, this dye job would be perfect anyway.
"Red highlights…are a Go!" Takeru patted his fair tow-colored hair fondly. After several deep discussions with Miyako and a few of his other intimate female acquaintances, Takeru decided to drop the innocent angelic look and go punk. He had already transformed his wardrobe from that of "Gilligan the Castaway" to the edgier Comme des Garçons look. With the artistic application of broad chunks of vibrant berry-colored highlights, the image would be set, and all residual innocence would be cast asunder.
First, Takeru separated out the bits he wanted to color and tied them off with little clips stolen from Hikari (who hadn't been informed of the coloring plan, exactly). Next, Takeru put on the clear shower cap, and slicked a little petroleum jelly on his face around the edges, to prevent the dye from staining his skin. He then stabbed the showercap with the scissors repeatedly, and drew the favoured locks of hair through for coloring.
He was just about ready to begin mixing the colors, when the doorbell rang. "Bloody hell," Takeru muttered, and thought that he might ignore it. But the bell rang again, and then again. When Takeru's Digivice began to sound off, an annoyed Patamon went to grab the door himself.
"Hey, don't do that!" Takeru called out, but it was too late. Daisuke tumbled in.
"Why aren't you answering the door! I'm having a crisis here and I don't have any time for your laziness! It's unacceptable, inexcusable, unforgiv…what the fuck has landed on your head, TK?"
Patamon landed on Daisuke's head, and began to giggle. "It's a space helmet!"
"I'm coloring my hair, Dai."
Fascinated, forgetting his troubles for a moment, Daisuke went up to Takeru and pulled on some of the hair sticking out from the bouffant cap. "Who put you up to this?"
"Miyako and I discussed it, and it seemed the best way to differentiate my look from Yamato's."
Daisuke began to giggle, and then proceeded to pull off the plastic apparatus before Takeru can stop him. "Girls are always trying to get you to do crazy shit. You'll look like...like..." Daisuke struggled for the word.
"A Digimon!" Patamon supplied. He thought the dye job a magnificent plan.
Takeru resisted the intervention, but halfheartedly. As soon as he saw the incredulous look on Daisuke's face he had begun to question the wisdom of putting his hair's fate in the hands of the purple-haired people of the world. Patamon's wholehearted affirmation only cemented his doubts. "It'll look cool!" he protested weakly.
"You are not a poser and I forbid you to look like one," Daisuke said airily, a prince issuing an edict that he fully expected to have obeyed. Seeing Takeru remove his hands from his hair hesitantly, Daisuke looked pleased. And then troubled… he remembered again why he had come over to see Takeru in the first place.
"I need to see about a girl"… my ass!
In characteristic weathervane fashion, Daisuke slouched over to the couch in the living room and plopped down on it, his mood clearly doing a 180. "Go pour that vile stain in the sink, and then get over here and comfort me."
"What's the matter?" Takeru asked, concerned. He began to pull off the twist-ties and clips from his head. Patamon retreated to Takeru's bedroom, to play Xenogears. Maybe Daisuke is right…maybe I would look silly… Takeru stroked his beloved hair. There, there…
"You are the only one I could come to about this. Ken is going to ask out Hikari! Even as we speak!"
"No!" Takeru was shocked, but then again, not really. He knew Ken.
Furthermore, he really knew Hikari. She just had… a way.
"Isn't that horrible? She was mine, or yours, or… whatever… it is so totally unfair of him to steal her away when he's only just in a snit because I made a little bit of fun of how inexperienced he is, why is he such a baby and it's so unreasonable and I hate hate HATE him!"
Takeru sighed. "Knowing Ken, I'm sure he asked your permission, didn't he?"
Daisuke looked up, surprised that Takeru wasn't going to immediately fall into outraged rumblings. "You loved her too! You loved her best! What the hell… don't you care? This is a travesty!"
Sitting down next to Daisuke, who looked confused and almost frightened, Takeru felt a surge of pity. He had a very good guess as to why Ken might turn to Hikari in a time of crisis. If Ken were ever afraid of losing Daisuke's friendship, or ever became convinced that he could never have him… well then, dating someone that Daisuke had once loved quite well would be the next best thing. Having figured all of this out a long time ago, all Takeru has to do is decide what precipitated the present crisis.
This was no time to tease. Takeru became very straightforward. "I know he asked you for permission. Know. It. He couldn't function any other way, even when it's over a girl you supposedly got over a million years ago.. Are you trying to tell me he betrayed your friendship somehow? How?"
"Yes!" Daisuke said, the note of despair clear and strong.
"How?" Takeru asked again, gently.
"He should have known! Even after I said it was okay, he should have known that it wasn't!"
"Why did he decide to ask her out?"
"We were talking about Hikari, and I made some little ironical comment about how she only had him left, since both you and I had moved on…"
"..and he went ballistic and became all cold and Kaizerish and wouldn't let me apologize for telling him the truth, which is that he never dates girls even though he could get any one that he wants."
Takeru leaned back into the chair. Oh, no. "Why do you think that Ken doesn't date girls, Dai?" I can't tell him my guesses, but perhaps I can ask a few questions. Innocent questions.
"Because he's not into the whole sex thing, I guess. Yeah, hey! He was maddest because I called him a monk. How childish is that? I wouldn't call him a monk if he actually started going around corking any of his multitude of groupies once in a while." Daisuke was leaning back as well, looking for all the world like he wanted to place a cool compress over his brow to service some monstrous headache.
"So he's trying to prove that he's not a monk, do you think? By asking Hikari out, I mean."
"He could have started with someone else," Daisuke pouted.
"Who else, Dai? Who else does he spend that kind of time with? Who else would he know well enough to ask out? And don't say Miyako because you know they hashed that situation out a while ago and neither is eager to revisit it."
Think, Daisuke, THINK.
A long pause. Daisuke thought, hard.
"Nobody." Daisuke said miserably after some time. "Yeah, I see your point."
Takeru wanted to strangle Daisuke. It was so obvious to him that Daisuke cared about Ken, perhaps even more then Ken returned the favour. Also obvious was the fact that Daisuke flirted with Ken constantly, although he was ostensibly quote-unquote "straight" and had the track record to quote-unquote "prove" it. It was obvious that Daisuke valued Ken, respected him, pined for him on occasion, needed him to balance out his most biting flaws. "There's no guarantee that Hikari will say yes, you know," Takeru said through clenched teeth.
Daisuke looked incredulous. "What? What? That's nonsense! Who wouldn't say yes to Ken?"
"Hey, it happens. I'd be willing to bet that Ken has had his fair share of rejections and disappointments." Takeru slipped into a dry tone here. How was it possible that Daisuke has not even considered the possibility of homosexuality? For Ken, for himself? Who was the real child in all this?
Daisuke shook his head decisively, negating this comment with the core of his being. "Ridiculous. Ken is…Ken has… Ken is perfect, okay?"
"I thought you hated him…" Takeru asked quietly, rubbing his fingers through his golden crop, thanking whatever fate that brought Daisuke to prevent him from doing something so lame to his hair. No matter what would come out of this discussion, at least Takeru had been averted from a fate worse then Birkenstocks.
"I do… I don't. I'm so confused. One minute I think it's his fault, the next I think it's mine. I probably shouldn't have teased him. He has no tolerance for that kind of thing. But to go for Hikari… it's like he was going out of his way to hurt me. He's never done that before."
"Wait a second. Are you honestly going to sit there and pretend that you care one whit about Hikari at this point? I won't believe you."
"That's not it. It's just that… I thought that Ken would never hurt me. And he did." A tear rolled down Daisuke's cheek.
Takeru pursed his lips in thought. "It might be fruitful for you to meditate on whether or not you've done anything to hurt him. I mean, bigger then calling him names and whatever other silliness just happened tonight."
Daisuke sniffled. "What aren't you telling me, TK?"
Everything. "Nothing. Just think about it, okay?"
"Okay." Daisuke rubbed his eyes and cheeks, smearing the tears and obliterating them almost completely.
. + .
The next morning Takeru and Miyako held an emergency session in the school courtyard, he reporting the frustrating results of his consultation with Daisuke, and she offering Hikari-side commentary. To the surprise of both conspirators, Hikari had agreed to the date, and had even sounded quite pleased when she described the set-up to Miyako the night before in an emergency phone call.
Miyako found herself intrigued.
Hikari..Ken…Daisuke… oh my! How can boredom exist when such juicy romantic entanglements flourish?
Miyako begged leave of her friends at lunchtime, to make a call (and take a cig). I think it's his lunchtime, too.
The phone rang a few times, and then a familiar voice answered. She used to dream of that voice at night; it was no wonder that her heart skipped a beat even now to hear it. She might not love him anymore, but she would always feel more then mere tolerance towards him.
"Ken...hey! Glad I caught you."
"Miyako?" Ken's voice was a little deeper now, but it still maintained that alluring quality of formality blended with a touch of adorable wildness.
"Yep. So, you are going to take Hikari out this weekend." Miyako didn't bother to make this anything other then a statement. And the tone of her voice was neutral, designedly so; if he got the foolish idea that she was feeling jealous over this whole affair, the conversation would not go well.
"That's fascinating. I have two questions for you."
"I may not have two answers for you. I don't really feel like talking about it." Ken sounded tired, put-out. Miyako could hear the sounds of lunchroom conversation murmuring over the wireless. It sounded alien, because she didn't recognize any of the voices.
"First, why haven't you told Hikari or Daisuke yet?"
"About what?" Ken sounded suspicious.
Miyako took a deep breath. She would have to admit remembering something he told her a long time ago, something that had not been discussed ever since. Obviously, he knew that she knew… but still, by tacit agreement, up until now it had remained aggressively unspeakable. "You are Gay. G-A-Double-Gay-Y. Don't they deserve to know?"
Finally, Ken responded. "Will you tell?"
"Not my responsibility. Besides, Hikari might be able to do what no woman before ever has... give you a hard-on. And then you'll be cured!"
Miyako laughed. Ken did not.
"Maybe. That's certainly a consideration." Ken said in a prickly fashion.
"You lie! But that's alright, I love you anyway. I won't tell, that's not the issue. And I don't really believe that nonsense about a 'cure.' I just want you to think very carefully about why you aren't telling either of them. Make sure you aren't doing something stupid."
Another long pause.
"I guess. Hmm.... So you had a second question?" Ken clearly wished to change the subject.
"Actually, it's more of a way of conferring vital information. Did you know that Daisuke has spent the whole day in class with his head on his desk? And he's snappish. This is not his normal style, you know."
"I don't think that means what you are trying to imply, Miyako. I think he's just upset that I asked out Hikari and she said yes."
"Oh, that's what he says too. But I don't believe it, anymore then I believe that you lust after Hikari."
"A little suffering won't kill him. He shouldn't have said what he did." Ken sounded convicted, but Miyako wasn't fooled. Underneath the bravado he was clearly hurt.
"Ahh! So you are punishing him! Punishing him for not knowing what you haven't bothered to tell him. Ken, can I just say: priceless?"
"He doesn't know me, Miyako. We've been friends for a very long time now, and he hasn't bothered to ask the simplest questions about me. And then he goes and makes some stupid assumptions. Let him sweat for a while. Maybe it will turn on his brain."
Miyako was taken aback for just a moment, but she rallied wonderfully. "Uncharacteristically cruel of you. You, my dear, are built for tragedy. You are inured to it, because you are so used to it. Have you stopped to consider that Daisuke, never having been inoculated against this kind of emotional suffering, might not be able to handle things so well? Tell him."
"He deserves to know."
"Why not? Is it because, on top of being gay, that you actually love him as well?" This was the most dangerous question.
Miyako looked at the phone in silence for a few minutes, listening first to the dial tone, and then to the pre-recorded operator's voice.
I knew it.
. + .
Saturday night was alright for fighting, but it was truly prime for dating.
The plan developed as follows: Ken would pick up Hikari at her place of residing at around 7:30pm. After making nice with the Kamiya family for about 15 minutes, Ken then would escort Hikari to a very fine restaurant downtown, and it was quite possible that they would hold hands the entire way there, looking quite charming because each was a penultimate representative of the beauty of his or her respective gender. Adults would smile at them as they passed. Babies might coo. Peers would sigh hopelessly, knowing that such sublime moments could never be theirs.
Hikari: never awkward -- Ken: always graceful. It was a perfect match.
. + .
"Here we are!"
Ken and Hikari peered up at the elegant restaurant before them, feeling quite self-conscious. They had held hands the entire time, strolling along the boulevard like European movie stars. All eyes turned to follow; it had been a painful march in many ways. Hikari was unused to the kind of synergy her beauty could create when matched up with a boy who was more then her equal in loveliness. Ken was unused to touching a girl, period.
He liked it, a little bit. To be more accurate: he didn't hate it. It wasn't horrible.
No "cure" was imminent, however.
Let's get this over with. "I'm so glad you agreed to this, Hikari." Ken was dressed in Kaizer blue, the color of his school uniform. The color of his life.
"It's a nice experiment," she replied, a touch breathlessly. The way that Ken had pitched this whole date to her had almost been like a business transaction; he offered pros and cons, and seemed prepared to draw up graphs when she had questioned him closely about his intentions. His justification for wanting to go on a date with her could double as a Master's thesis on the Interpersonal Dynamics between men and women. There had never been any question that true love was involved… Ken wouldn't have sounded so clinical, otherwise.
Ken's lack of overt affection made Hikari feel safe.
Hikari surprised even herself by feeling naughty. Horny. Safety could do that occasionally.
Hikari's issues with men were complex and needlessly convoluted. Suffice it to say, she rarely agreed to dates because they made her feel vulnerable, exposed. She didn't like feeling sexual. Normally, she fled it. There were Reasons she was not with Daisuke. There were even more Reasons, tiresome ones, for why she rejected Takeru cold.
And there were Reasons why Ken was different, and why it seems okay to lust after him. Hikari simply doesn't know what they were just yet.
Hikari was dressed in Mimi pink, the color of her D3. NOT the color of light.
"Ready?" Ken asked expectantly.
"Yes, thanks. Let's do it. Bingo!" She said, adopting a Miyakoism. Feeling uncharacteristically bold, Hikari angled up to place a small peck on Ken's cheek. She felt him withdraw just slightly, and he looked confused when she pulled back to examine him, touching his flawless face with the back of her fingers.
Clearly, Hikari had the upper hand. She found it… agreeable. Very much so.
Tilting his head, Ken collected himself, and became quite droll. "Maybe later." With that, he took her arm in a courtly fashion, and led her into the restaurant. "The experiment's no good if we don't eat first."
Hikari blushed. "I didn't mean it that way!" she protested, even as she snuggled closer to Ken, enjoying being led.
"Whatever you say, Hikari-san. Whatever you say."
"I'm still a virgin, you know," she thought to announce, to make sure her Not A Slut credentials were clear from the start.
"Me too," he admitted nonchalantly.
"Really?" Her eyes opened wide. "Daisuke didn't corrupt you?"
"Not yet, Hikari. And probably not ever." The two arrived at the host's desk, and Ken picked up the reservation. This interlude afforded him the opportunity to stifle a sigh. Daisuke… he couldn't care less about corrupting me. And now he probably hates me.
What Daisuke actually felt was a lot more complicated then that, as he slipped into the restaurant behind his two friends…
No. Don't call it spying. Call it investigative curiosity.
Daisuke was dressed in Ichijouji grey, the color of anonymity… sometimes.
(continues in part 2)
. + .
Author's note: Am finally reposting this. Unlike Reflections, the edits here are going to be minor. Adjustments will be to increase the Japanese feel of this fic, fix formatting errors and problems with tenses (an early issue of mine), as well as to insure that this fic will be appropriate for the rules of this website. One sad change is that I have dropped the Belle and Sebastian quote that originally fronted this fic, as song lyrics are no longer allowed and I don't wish to risk deletion over something so minor. Just know that "Seeing Other People" is the theme music for this chapter. Setting that aside, I hope you can enjoy this story almost as much as I enjoyed writing it.