All characters © Amano Akira
Note: I was going for the creepy feel. Enjoy!
Own the World
He really had to thank Irie Shouichi, that lanky little kid.
The first time—the first real time, after Irie—had given him a headache akin to a sea urchin rolling around in the soft tissue of his brain. It was like before, on the verge of knowing, but now the feeling was starting to become more familiar. And, contrary to his intelligence, all he had thought of to say at the time was: "I know you."
"I know," the young man replied, as if it was the most blatantly obvious thing in the world. As if meeting his mirror image on the street was a quotidian occurrence. And why shouldn't it be? Weirder things took place in this world.
Did his hair really look like that from the left? Byakuran tilted his head. The young man did the same, running a hand through his clumpy bangs as if picking up on the thought.
"Why am I here?" Byakuran asked. The young man shrugged.
"You're the only one that knows the answer to that."
"Are you real?"
The young man laughed: a brilliant, peeling sound that tickled the air around him and cut into the center Byakuran's eardrums. Byakuran took familiarity in the sound, finding it rather soothing.
"I could ask you the same question," was the reply. "This is my world, where there is one of me. Why should you be here, when there is only room for one?"
"I'm leaving soon," Byakuran nodded. "But tell me this: if I take your place, what have I become?"
A twinkle appeared in the man's eye, and he giggled. "You're rich," he said. "And you have power. Would you like some of that?"
Byakuran said he would. So he decided to stay for a little while.
When he returned, looking in the mirror, he noticed for the first time a streak of pure white zipping through his normally brown hair.
The second time had imbued him with a delicious rush of fulfillment; a sweet, dark decadence that he supposed was the reason that had compelled him to make the journey again.
"That's not possible," he whispered, the breath puffing through his lips in a gray-tinged shock. Normally Byakuran was one to inflict feelings of disquiet an unease on anyone he wished to impose upon. Experiencing it himself, however, was a whole different matter. "It just isn't."
"Maybe not where you're from," the young man replied, dusting his hands off as he watched the other person in the room leave. "I…excuse me, you had a lot of free time. That's all it takes, really. Free time."
Byakuran pointed to the doorway. "But he was dead," he stated laconically.
The young man stuck out his tongue. "Not anymore~," he replied happily. "Didn't you see him walk out? Fit as a fiddle."
He looked a trifle smug. "We invented how to do it ourselves. Shall I show you?"
Byakuran said yes. So he decided to stay for a little while.
After some time the Gesso family became notorious for its members' unbelievable mortality rate. Their necrology had become obsolete.
The young man Byakuran met in his third trip didn't talk much. There was something…off about him, but Byakuran didn't mind.
He giggled to himself. "Amazing," he awed. "Simply amazing. I'll have to lock you up of course, but I don't think you'd have any qualms~" Byakuran looked at the young man again, with his long hair and bare marble-body that was so familiar yet somehow so alien at the same time and smiled.
"Do you want to come back with me?"
And the young man, with no feeling whatsoever, held out his hand.
The fourth time had caused him to cry.
"Where am I?" Byakuran called out softly, and he didn't mean that he himself was lost. Where was the one he was looking for…?
After some time he found a boneyard. Was it real? Was anything in this world real? Things here were wrong, the angles disproportionate, the air sour. Or was this world real and he the fake one, the smoke-ghost in a chilly breeze?
The ghost of Christmas future, Byakuran thought giddily, as he saw his name on a stone. He ran a hand through his hair, which now held a formidable amount of white as well as brown in it. And I'm ol' Ebenezer.
"But I'm right here," he said aloud, pointedly. "I'm standing here, so I can't be in there. What are you going to teach me this time?"
Only the sound of the night and the wind greeted his ears.
Byakuran sat down on the cold, wet stone where his name was engraved, and let loose a sob.
It was some time before he made a fifth venture. But he did, like a rat that is helplessly drawn to the cheese, knowing full well it could be a poison-bait. It was even more insidious.
"You'll be deceived by someone close," the young man told him, "and lose everything. I didn't know who it was. I still don't."
"What if I meet that person when I go back?"
The other man only looked at him, uncharacteristically vapid, blinking glazed purple eyes. Byakuran knew they hadn't been that awful violet hue before, as his hair hadn't been white before. All the pigments were gone.
Am I really here? Byakuran thought? Am I? An old American poem, oddly and eerily relevant, rose into his thoughts then, by Shel Silverstein:
Each time I see the Upside-Down Man
Standing in the water,
I look at him and start to laugh,
Although I shouldn't oughtter.
For maybe in another world
Maybe HE is right side up
And I am upside down.
Byakuran looked into those eyes and wondered who the real one here was. "How will I find out?" he asked again.
"Be careful," was the only advice the young man told him.
Maybe HE is right side up, and I am upside down.
"I don't like this world."
So Byakuran had each of his family's old advisors murdered in the night, and combined the Gesso and the Giglionero so that he could watch over both with a cautious eye. It was the only way, really, to ensure his future. Again and again he traveled, coming back with something new each time.
What decisions make the world?
He knew things now. Terrible things, great things. Things that squirmed and burbled and whispered in his ear when the moon came up at night. The only way to solve everything, these things said, was to destroy everything and to rule them all. There could only be one He here, and that was Him.
Byakuran is Byakuran… I is you and you is me, and together we make three
Every little decision was important, even his meals. If he had eggs instead of toast in the morning,
such an inconsequential thing, but it made the world
the possibility lingered that he could be dead of salmonella in a week. If he brought one person back from the dead instead of another, that person might betray him in the future. Then what would happen?
This or that, tit for tat, tat tat
Sometimes he saw people and wondered if they were real. If he looked hard enough, he could almost see them shimmer in and out of spectrum. Sometimes he would smile. Look at the hologram man. And really, why should you fear something if it's not real to begin with?
I AM REAL. I AM RIGHT HERE. AND I HAVE POWER (because no one else may be real except for me in this world).
The thing that scared him the most, though, was when Byakuran looked in the mirror and saw his own image fade right before his eyes, until there was nothing left at all.
Each time I see the Upside-Down Man standing in the water, I look at him and start to laugh…ha, ha, ha… tit for tatatatatataa
His hair was completely and fully stark-white now, like baby powder.
Only Uni was the one to realize first. Complete omniscience comes with a price: your sanity.