Rated for language. Turn away if you have something against swearing.
Note that there is probably some sort of inconsistency in time lines and stuff, but whatever. Also note that there is some weird stuff going on in this story that may or may not work. Yay, biblical and mythological references... because I thought they were appropriate!
Alternate title: In which Agon almost has tact
Unsui did not open his eyes. He turned over on his side, getting tangled in his blankets, and groped along the bedside table until he found his alarm clock that, in his opinion, had no right to be merrily ringing away this early in the morning. He tucked his cold feet back under the covers and became afflicted with a strong desire to sleep another hour.
Noticing that there wasn't much light coming in from his window, Unsui grudgingly turned to his alarm clock. Five o'clock. He did not remember setting it to go off so early. What sort of sane person got up at five in the morning on a Sunday for no obvious reason?
It was just another one of those days. Unsui felt like
dried gum on the belly of an old desk
a pebble stuck in the groove of a shoe
a used tissue in the waste basket
grit beneath a finger nail
the kid that always gets picked last and
his life was a goddamn mess; who the hell turned the lights on?
Some roughly yanked the blanket and pillow out of Unsui's grasp, stopping just short of throwing Unsui to the ground.
"Why the hell are you still sleeping?" asked Agon, towering over his twin. He hadn't put on his glasses yet and his dreadlocks were tied into a ponytail, giving Unsui a clear view of exactly what Agon's irritated face looked like (and his own as well, he supposed).
Unsui felt a profound disbelief that made his eyes snap open. "Why are you awake?"
Agon crossed his arms. "I knew you were spineless, I didn't realize that you were stupid too. Get the fuck out of bed. We're having breakfast."
With this, Agon uncermoniously threw the pillow and blanket back at Unsui who was still rubbing the grit out of his eyes and wondering what had come over Agon.
When Unsui, trying to decide what to cook for the both of them, entered the kitchen, he saw food already laid out on the table. There were eggs, bacon, toast, sausages, coffee, and juice. The greasy pans were still lying on the stove and there was an appetizing smell in the air that led Unsui to the chair where he sat without waiting for Agon as he normally did.
"Holy crap," said Unsui. On his plate were eggs with edges fried to a golden crisp and bacon that simply smelled heavenly to him. He looked up at Agon. "Who cooked all this?"
Agon shrugged and rolled his eyes. "I dunno, the gnome in the basement? Who else do you see here?"
By now, Unsui was far too busy sampling the food to care about Agon's rudeness or how odd it was for Agon to cook. As the two of them sat down to their breakfast, Unsui occassionally looked up to see Agon staring at him, eating food at a much slower pace than normal. Oddly enough, it felt like he was waiting for something.
"Agon," said Unsui slowly, "the food tastes great."
"Like I need you to tell me!"
Agon quickly reverted to his normal self and ate as quickly as he usually did and Unsui continued eating as well, just to make sure that he didn't do anything silly like smiling at his younger brother for being considerate for a change.
After the food was gone, Agon went into the bathroom first (since those with good reflexes have dibs on the hot water). Unsui did the dishes because while Agon could be expected to pick up a spatula once in a blue moon, he wouldn't be caught dead with dishwater up to his elbows.
When he was done, Unsui noticed that Agon hadn't finished with his shower, so he decided to check for any messages that might've been left behind while Unsui had practiced with his team the day prior and Agon had gone off to do something no one really wanted to know. When it came to Agon's activities, speculation was generally kinder than the truth.
Looking at the number in the corner of the display, he saw that there were two messages left for them. He pressed the play button.
'It's beeped, idiot.'
'Shut up! Anyway, this is Ikkyu. You left a little early and coach wants to say that practice for... uh...'
'I know! Get away from the receiver!'
'We should start a pun jar for what you said just now.'
'(The Glare is almost audible) Anyway, practice for Sunday's been moved to Monday. Sorry for the late notice, I don't know how often you check your answering machine and your cellphone didn't seem to be on-'
'Hey, are there any girls at your appartment right now? Like, one of Agon's bouncy girlfriends -'
'BYE (even though I'm also kinda curious)'
Beeep! Unsui cracked a smile. His team mates could be a handful (and kinda perverted), but he could count on them anyway. The second message started playing.
'Hello, this is Amefuto Monthly, and we were wondering if we could book an interview with you regarding your participation in Team Japan. (Unsui's smile disappeared) If you're interested, we'd like to meet you Sunday to discuss it. Please call back ASAP, we'll be waiting to hear from you -'
An arm reached over Unsui's and pressed the delete button. Agon pulled his hand back to towel dry his hair, his body still wet from the shower he had just finished. "Those bastards are always asking for interviews," he muttered, and Unsui wasn't sure who his twin was talking to. "Annoying trash."
Unsui felt the same squirming feeling in his gut every time he watched Agon take the top of the podium.
Agon's voice broke him out of it. "Hey! We're leaving in half an hour. Take a shower or whatever it is you do in the mornings."
"Where are we going?"
"Just shut up and get ready."
Well, Unsui supposed that he'd find out when they got there.
This is Cain and Abel, but there is no death by either brother's hand and God, it seems, is not keeping score. Cain knows of cruelty in terms other than life or death. There is nothing that the world can deny him and he uses this to his advantage.
Abel was meant to die, his blood screaming of the first murder to ever haunt the land of men, but there is nothing murderous about a man whose only fault lies with his arrogance and the radiance of his talent. Cain laughs and every pleasure and vice is available to him. These are pleasures of the flesh that turn him lewd and drunk with the honey of his own words. On Abel's tongue, it tastes of poison.
The sun shines brightly yet God does not make his presence known. If this is a trial, Abel thinks it will break him. He toils and sweats under the hot sun and knows that Cain spits on his efforts. It is not his blood that seeps into the ground, but his sweat and tears. They cry of injustice and unfairness, but there is no one to listen, not even Abel himself.
The cool morning air chilled him, but it wasn't unpleasant. He read somewhere that fresh, cold air settled at the bottom of your lungs and pushed out the contaminants that settled there from the pollution in the air. He wondered if it was possible to do the same to his whole being, to purge himself of his doubts and fears and indecision.
"You walk too slow."
Unsui jogged to catch up to Agon. They had left half an hour ago and it was only seven thirty. There were cars and buses, commuters bustling along to get to work. The shops were still closed and Unsui took a moment to look at them, grey and pale in the morning light. Exactly what were they doing out here this early in the morning? It would be a lie if Unsui said that going on an outing with Agon didn't make him nervous, given his younger's brother dubious track record.
Pretty soon, Agon led him up a set of concrete stairs into a paved area surrounded by trees and bushes. It was a quiet area, a bubble of stillness in the crowded city. Unsui remembered this place. He remembered
the letter, crumpled in his fist
the words, "We mixed you up with Agon"
the full moon overhead on that lonely night
how Agon silently walked over next to him
Agon's strange lack of bluster and taunting
because he once came here to cry.
Unsui stopped at the top of the stairs. "Are you making fun of me?" said Unsui quietly.
Agon continued walking away before stopping in the middle of the clearing. "I'm leaving for New York in a week."
"They had the Team Japan try-outs a little while ago."
"... I know."
In the silence that followed, neither of them moved. When Agon made to turn around, Unsui thought he would say something, but Agon seemed to change his mind and stayed the way he was, his back facing Unsui.
"Happy birthday, you idiot."
Unsui let out a long exhale. Purging.
"You too, Agon."
The world used to be much, much smaller. It was a world painted a warm, glowing red, a colour that leaked into your bones and filled you with life. A world that ran through your veins and you needed no eyes because it was all there, inside of you.
When did his world change?
"The meek shall inherit the world"
and foolishly, he believed.
There were two of him in the world and he fell into his own shadow. After his birth, the world became much larger and so did his brother's shadow.
Was it supposed to be like this or had he let go of the world before he ever even saw it? The world landed in his brother's palm like it belonged there, but he was left wondering what would have happened if he had held on a little tighter.
Unsui didn't think that he'd ever figure out what Agon wanted today. It might've been a failure of human conscience on his part, but Unsui simply couldn't believe that Agon was really the sort of guy to show his older brother a good time just because it was his birthday (well, theirs, to be exact). To be fair, Unsui was rarely forthcoming with gifts of his own; between the fans and the girlfriends, Agon was never in short supply and Unsui figured it would've been a nuisance to his younger brother.
After they returned to the busier streets, Unsui heard a cellphone ring. The ringtone was Agon's. Swinging his leg over the back of a bench, Agon plopped down in the seat and flicked open his cellphone.
"Hey sweetheart ... No, I already said today's no good... sorry we haven't gone out in a while, babe... What's with that tone? You know I love you..."
Typical. Unsui sighed as he stood there and watched. He supposed he should've expected this.
"Well, fuck you too, darling!" Agon snapped the phone shut and wore the same grimace he had every time he lost the chance to dump a girl before she dumped him. "She wasn't that hot anyway," he muttered.
"Are we done?"
Agon stared at Unsui after hearing the question. "No," said Agon after a deliberate pause. He pulled an envelope out of his pocket. "Take this."
Unsui stared. It couldn't have possibly been a birthday card.
"Hurry the fuck up."
"All right, all right."
Tentatively, Unsui took the envelope. It wasn't sealed so he opened up the flap and realized that it was definitely not a birthday card. It was two things, a ticket to New York and a receipt for a reservation at a hotel.
Agon tucked his hands into his pockets. "Do you still think I'm making fun of you? I'll let you punch me... but only today."
Unsui could hold the ticket in his hand, thumb and index finger together, and pull as hard as he can just to hear a satisfying rip. He could throw the pieces in Agon's face. He could, for the first time in his life, spit on his brother because Agon's divine retribution was overdue to the point of tragedy. Usui said,
yes, I do think so
what's the point in me going
are you that set on showing me just how much better you are
just shut up shut up shut up
I already know I'm weak and cowardly and
"I'll think about it." Pause. "The ticket, I mean."
And for the rest of the week, they did not speak with one another.
The lights were out and the blinds were down. This was a conference between him and a decision that would not leave him alone.
The ticket was in his drawer. The clock was ticking on his nightstand. On the wall was a calendar he didn't need because the days and minutes were engraved in his mind.
He could stay and enjoy a week without his brother to worry about. He could stay and avoid the eyes of his team mates, eyes that he knew would be full of disappointment. He could stay and avoid the heart break of watching a tournament that he had no place in, had no right to be in. He could stay and not watch his brother excel in ways that he himself could not.
Or he could go.
Tick tock, seconds and minutes and hours.
This is Icarus standing on a cliff. He wants to fly, but he has no wings. He envies the gods who ascend to Olympus with ease. Day after day, tirelessly and dilligently, he crafts a pair of wings with wax and feathers. No detail is superfluous and he spares no expense at the time he must spend on perfecting them and repairing every detail that goes askew..
When he finally finishes, they are beautiful. White as snow with every semblance of a swan's graceful silhouette, this is the summit of his effort, a masterpiece of patience and perseverance. He puts them on, sees himself in the reflection of a pond, and it is with not even the slightest amount of exaggeration that the water nymphs think him an angel..
But Icarus becomes afraid.
He sees the sun shining brightly and he knows that there is a limit to how high he can go before he topples to his doom, and the wings will amount to nothing more than the foolish pride before a fall. He sees the ocean spray below and he knows that there is nothing he can do if his feathers become waterlogged and heavy, and his wings mean nothing if he falls too low.
The fears grow, and in the time that he wavers between his doubts, his masterpiece is left waiting.
Icarus looks back at his wings, beautiful and peerless. They are nothing but tatters in the eyes of the gods, but Icarus still dreams of flying.
He makes his choice.
Unsui thinks he must've been insane. There was no other explanation.
The plane sped up and his stomach dropped through the floor even though the plane hadn't left the runway yet, and honest to god, he did not have a fear of heights. Maybe it was his nerves, or maybe he was excited for the tournament. He never felt this excited during games that he played in. Unsui didn't know why, but maybe it was the excess meditation Shinryuuji always did before games that suppressed it or maybe it was something about being a spectator that made him squirm on the inside.
He only talked with Agon once during his stay in New York and it was the day before the match against USA. They met in a busy cafe and Unsui tried not to stare at Agon's lack of hair.
"None of the idiots on the team aren't saying it out loud, but they all think that Mr. Embalming-fluid-for-brains is you."
Unsui blinked. "Who?"
Agon grew impatient and gestured in the air while wearing his infamous sneer. "You know! Imhotep, TP face, mummy man! You blind? He's the only one stupid enough to play in a get-up like that!"
Unsui wasn't paying attention anymore. He looked at Agon sitting with his arm thrown over the back of the chair, his gestures wild and his voice full of impatience in a way that sounded like anger to people unfamiliar with Agon's mannerisms. To Unsui, it was like watching an errant reflection rant and seethe. He wondered, when was the last time he'd ever been impatient or angry?
"What the hell are you staring for?"
Unsui looked down into his cup of coffee and took a sip. "Nothing."
He could still feel Agon's eyes on him. "You'd be the worst date ever, you know that?" said Agon. He got up and threw money on the table. "See you tomorrow, idiot."
The next time they saw each other was during the Japan versus USA game.
He looked like Unsui.
He really did.
That was him, standing on the field with the rest of Team Japan, him, standing beside the strongest that Japan had to offer the world. He was
running across the field in well-worn cleats
diving into the grass and dirt and mud with the ball at his fingertips
watching the ball soar higher and higher
listening to the crowd cheer and roar
looking into his opponent's eyes without backing down and
sitting in the audience, watching as Agon stepped over the discarded wig and Habashira Rui got up once more. Everyone around Unsui was cheering and it felt wrong to sit there, greasy napkins at his feet and people sitting there complaining of the heat that the players, looking only to their goals, were oblivious to. The clasp on Agon's helmet snapped shut and once again, it was the younger twin standing on the field, the illusion dispelled. Agon hadn't said a word.
Fuck Agon. Fuck that arrogant bastard.
For some reason, Unsui cried.
A few years later, Unsui was on one side of the field and Agon was on the other. Agon didn't speak. Unsui waved, and his brother grunted in reply. Neither of them smiled.
They were in their first year of university and this was the first match of the year between Saikyoudai and Enma. It was a practice match. Unsui thought that a little underhanded deal had passed between Hiruma and Kurita, but he supposed that nothing was underhanded when it came to Kurita (Hiruma, on the other hand...)
In the first play, Unsui ran with the ball. His way was clear but for one person, and of all eleven players that were on the opposing team, it had to be that one. Agon was merciless. Unsui slammed into the ground and there would be bruises the next morning. Agon stood there and Unsui slowly pulled himself off the ground until he was on all fours, fully aware of how his brother's shadow fell across him. Agon was as caustic as always.
"If you'd come to Saikyoudai, I wouldn't be beating your ass right now."
Should he say it?
Unsui decided to say it.
"I couldn't go to the same team as you. You're the biggest bastard I know and I'm going to beat you into the ground."
Unsui knew that Agon wasn't dumb enough to do anything that would get him a penalty, but he was still surprised when he felt his younger brother's arms pulling him up by the armpits. They looked each other in the eye and because Agon couldn't do anything nice without being an asshole, he flipped his older brother the bird.
Unsui almost laughed.
So Agon is almost nice to Unsui. Almost. And then they swear. I'm thinking of doing another piece about Unsui and Agon with some of the same ideas.
Please review (or not) as you see fit :) I enjoy feedback very much, especially when I try something odd as I have in this piece.