Variables and Constant Parameters
Summary: Friends, Family, Location, Teachers, Housekeepers, Circumstances. Everything Usui Takumi knows changes throughout his life like variables in a mathematical equation. His one constant parameter, strangely, is a woman. OneShot.
Set: story-unrelated, future fic
Disclaimer: Standards apply.
Everything Usui Takumi remembers of his life has always had the habit of changing.
Like variables in a mathematical equation, things change according to the circumstances he finds himself in – even the circumstances change. Every time he peeks from under the cover of his mask, something is different.
He always was aware of the fact that nothing ever was constant.
That was the first lesson he learned.
As a child, he had lived with his adoptive parents for a few years.
The first thing he noticed was that they didn't need to be away in order to not be there. No matter whether his parents were home or not, the servants were the only people Takumi saw on a regular basis. Whenever his aunt and his uncle weren't there, they were travelling and working, and when they were there, they were working, as well. He sometimes wondered whether he would forget their faces or the sound of their voices, but whenever he fell asleep, he saw and heard them in his dreams. He didn't know whether he wanted them to be there or not. What he knew were the light blue curtains of his room, the dark, polished wood of the table and the cool, flower-scented sheets of his bed. And even these changed every time the curtains were cleaned, the furniture was polished or the bed sheets changed.
The servants were variables, too. They never stayed long.
Takumi remembered the nice, young butler who spent time with him in the gardens until his foster parents returned and saw what they had been doing. He was fired immediately. They told the gardener to replant the flower bed Takumi had designed but the damage had already been done: he loved the feeling of cool earth between his hands. The old cook, a lady in her late sixties, was the one person he got to know for the longest time because she was a brilliant cook and nobody wanted to have to replace her. Takumi used to sneak into the kitchen to watch her. She was thin and tiny and moved with surprising speed. She taught him everything he now knew about cooking and baking, she told him about her children and her grand-children and snuck sweet buns into his room late after dinner. But she, too, left him when she suffered a stroke and was delivered into the hospital. It was years later that Takumi learned she had refused to resign and had gotten into a fight with the head housekeeper.
His teachers changed. Takumi remembered every single one of them.
Walter, who taught him how to read and write. Professor Wembly, who introduced him to Mathematics and Sciences. Arashi-Sensei, who familiarized him with the Japanese language, arts and culture. James Green, his instructor for style, behaviorism and manners. Lady Anne, who continued his lectures in Arts and Literature.
The list could be extended for pages. If he was one thing, he was well-educated and skilled. If he missed one thing, it was consistency.
He had no family. He had no friends.
Because he kept to himself the most time, there was no chance to get to know other children from the neighborhood. Plus, there weren't many children in his neighborhood. In fact, Walker House had no neighborhood. Because he was home-schooled, there was no chance to find friends at school. He had a few friends, though, mostly children of the servants. They changed as the servants came and went. One of his first friends was Sean, the son of the housekeeper. For half a year, Takumi snuck outside after his lessons and met up with him. Together, they explored the gardens, they played tag and hide and seek. Half a year, Takumi didn't mind the fact that besides him, there weren't many people in Walker House. Then, suddenly, the housekeeper was fired because she, allegedly, was a thief, and Sean left the mansion. The next housekeeper was a bitter and strict old man who had no children.
His next friend was a girl, and even though she might have been five years older than him he developed his first crush on her. She, too, left after some months to marry someone else. Sometimes later Takumi decided he didn't really need friends.
The places he lived in changed.
He spent five years of his life in the huge mansion of his foster parents', Walker House. During summer he would be brought to the summer house, a house so far outside in the country he didn't even bother trying to wander to the next town. When he grew older, he was planted somewhere in another big, old mansion at the outskirts of another town, later, at the age of twelve, he was moved to Japan. When he finally decides he is able to live by himself, he is sixteen and fed up with the way things keep changing around him without him being able to influence anything.
He chooses a High School. It's the first choice he makes entirely by himself.
If he had had expectations, he might have been disappointed, but he had long learned that having no expectations saved a lot of trouble. Since he had none, he was merely surprised. There were variables in Seika High, too, but not nearly as pre-eminent as he had been used to.
But here, change was slow, gradual, as if it wanted to give him time to adjust. After years and years of constant and merciless change, Takumi almost felt bored. It was strange, and unfamiliar. Not in a bad sense, but not in a good sense, either.
Just when he slowly is getting used to it, he encounters the first and most important constant parameter in his life.
Strangely, it is a woman.
She is nothing like the people he knows.
She isn't sneaky and falsely polite. She isn't cold and distant. She isn't a variable because she doesn't change, she doesn't leave and doesn't turn on him. Takumi is fascinated with her – with her obvious hate towards men and her huge effort to change their school into a school in which girls could feel safe in. She is fascinating in the way she switches from the strict, demanding president to the kind and polite maid, how she changes by just wearing a white apron and a maiden's uniform. She goes from honest and sweet to headstrong and cold in the blink of an eye and yet she herself never changes. He can detect traces of her fire in her maid-self and hints of her sweetness in the president. If she had been less natural he would have thought she was wearing a mask, like he did. But her instant reaction to his teasing, the way she blushes at his advancements and the way she is unable to speak out loud what she feels convince him that she is exactly the way she appears to be. He thinks there won't ever will be a woman who is able to fascinate him like she does.
While his life is one great equation, containing far too many variables for him to even attempt to try to sort them out and solve them – his past, his future, his family and the future his family has in mind for him – Misaki is the one constant parameter he needs to be able to stay sane. He realizes it when she is the one who stays by his side, no matter what he does. He realizes it when she offers solace and compassion when he needs it most and anger and reprimands when he is about to lose himself. He realizes it when he realizes she is the only one who can read him correctly and entirely. As he, too, finally notices there is no future imaginable without her by his side.
Therefore, Takumi clings to her.
Misaki is the only woman who can hold up the weight of his own life additionally to the weight of her own one. When he finally realized this, he didn't need much time to understand that she was the one he wanted by his side for the rest of his life. In a way, he had known this long before he knew anything else.
Misaki might be unable to express her feelings, but she is an intelligent woman.
When she enters her apartment, returning from work, she immediately knows there is someone in it. She knows it's him, too.
It's something in the atmosphere that changes as soon as he is near, and even though they have been together for seven years she still feels her heartbeat quicken.
There are no red roses, no rose petals, no scented candles or soft music.
There's just a tiny, beautiful cake on the table, a single, long and slender candle in its middle, and the man she has known for so long.
But his smile is still the same: teasing and demanding. Loving. Holding a secret and a promise at the same time.
Misaki knows why he needs her. How much he loves her.
When he hands her the tiny box, she realizes she loves him even more.