Bearit's Notes: Gomen for the long wait on the ninth chapter of "Lion Heart"! I hope this tides you over until I finally put it up. Anyway, here's a Kyousuke (!) vignette that compliments what happened in the seventh and eighth chapter--meaning, what happened after Mitsuru scared Kyousuke off in the seventh chapter? Knowing Kyousuke, the normal applies: angst and shounen-ai (albeit one-sided). Enjoy!

Ore no Shin'yuu
a side story for "Lion Heart"

"You're certainly an enigma, Togawajun-kun, trying to get Satoru a girlfriend when you--"

Mitsuru never got the chance to finish his sentence, but I know what he was going to say.

I'm trying to get Satoru the perfect girl for him despite the itty bitty, oh so minuscule detail that I am in love with Satoru as well.

I am no longer ashamed to admit it--it's true, and why should I be ashamed of the truth?

I just can't show my face in front of his parents just now, and besides, they need their privacy after being separated for over a decade, so I excuse myself and rush out of the room, and now I have no idea where in the Shidou household I'm heading. I need time to sort myself out so that I can uphold the promise I made to Satoru without being embarrassed beyond comprehension. I had composure; right now, I have to seek it out and reclaim it because that was not the display I wanted to have in front of Satoru's father.

How I was I supposed to know that Mitsuru Shidou would lead the conversation in a direction I didn't want him to travel? Even so, I never expected the temperature to rise twenty degrees in a split second once he suggested that possibility of Satoru having romantic interests in one of his own kind. If the room stayed cool, Shidou-san would have never seen through me.

How did he do it, anyway?

I made a mistake, one I couldn't control, and now I had to remind myself over and over again:

"It's an illusion," I mutter, my legs leading me into around the traditional kendo home. "It's an illusion, you'll get over it, just do what you have been doing. Complain that he has no girlfriend, encourage him to get a girlfriend, you can do it, Kyousuke Togawajun, just get calm."

An illusion, something I have always told myself in the past when I first discovered my feelings. Whenever my soul gets the better of me, I always chide him and remind him that my love is an illusion. Even if it isn't, because I sincerely doubt that it is, it will calm him for the time being.

I first discovered my feelings when I saw how obsessed I was with Satoru's happiness and my wanting to comfort him whenever his emotions ever became too much. It rarely happens, and I know because I'm with him whenever curfew and time allows, but I always wanted it to happen because I know the emotions that he keeps bottled up underneath his deadpan facade. It's unhealthy; he knows it, I know it, and he isn't doing anything about it. It annoys the hell out of me sometimes. Anyway, getting back on track, when I first realized that I was in love with my friend, my perfectly straight and male friend, I told myself that nothing was ever going to happen between us, it's a hopeless and immoral love, and I have to get over him as soon as possible. I doubt I'll ever get over him, because as I told him once in high school, he's perfect.

Oh, nobody's perfect, I know that, but it's hard for me to compare Satoru with anyone else fairly. I think that's why my search for the perfect girl for Satoru has been so difficult and near impossible. Every girl I meet I deem unworthy for him, and I know it's unfair considering that it's Satoru's choice as to who deserves him, but everybody is allowed to be even the slightest bit selfish in order to be human, right?

Right, and this is mine.

Satoru's selfishness is his choice to share his emotions with nobody, and as I have said before, it annoys me, but I have to accept it. He's giving fair treatment to everybody, for no one even in his family knows how he feels about anything.

I have heard many things about best friends, mostly from my older sister. She said that best friends shared secrets, told stories, did practically everything together, and even from time to time, argue, for they had common ideas but with enough differences to cause such an altercation. They always made up in the end, though, or else they were not really best friends. Best friends had a lot in common, and they were never afraid to hide anything from them.

That's why I believe that Satoru and I are not best friends. Good friends, of course, but best friends is out of the question. He hides his emotions, I hide my passionate feelings. I guess it's a fair bargain in the end.

I sigh as I find myself in the backyard, kicking idly at some dirt. How did this ever come to be?

And even as I asked myself that, I don't know exactly what I was asking. How did what ever come to be?

"It's an illusion," I tell myself again.

I decide that I'm fit enough to go back inside, and Satoru's parents are probably through with their reunion. I don't know how long I've been wandering, but with a look to see how far the living room is, I realize that it was not very far, so I had not been walking very long. I smile, turn, and find myself face-to-face with the man I'm not supposed to be in love with but am.

"Kyousuke-san," says Satoru, giving me the same emotionless look I can't expect anything more from, "what are you doing out here?"

I sigh again. "I thought your parents needed a private reunion for a little while, and I needed a walk." He nods, and I frown, the way I always do when I get the feeling that there is something Satoru is hiding that would add greatly to his superabundance of negative sentiments. "Satoru, are you all right?"

He nods again. I grit my teeth; he's doing it again. I resist all urges to curl my lip, but before I can protest, Satoru takes an action I'm not used to. He steps down from the leveled house and heads my way, and when he gets within an arm's reach from me, I notice something amiss.

His eyes seem troubled, and he refuses to look at me straight in the face.

"Satoru...?" I begin, but he cuts me off.

"I don't know how I'm going to handle this," he says. "I already told you that Kakeru has a slight issue with Father, and you know Hikaru. Last time I saw her she was on a guilt trip, and I couldn't find any words to comfort her. It was easier when she was younger, when I was younger. Many things have happened over the past twelve years, and..."

"Satoru, you don't have to do this to yourself," I tell him. "Don't put burdens of other people on your shoulders."

He grins slightly, forcefully. "I could say the same to you, Kyousuke-san."

"No," I say, shaking my head. "I offer and prepare myself, but you force yourself. Don't do that. Satoru, look, like I said before, if you want to cry, I'm always here for you. You know that."

The force in his smile vanishes, leaving behind a melancholy grin. "To tell you the truth, I can't remember the last time I cried."

"That doesn't mean you can't."

"I know." It's his turn to sigh, and then he looks at me with the greatest wave of emotion I have ever seen on my friend's face. I can't even read it. "Mother is bordering between rage and relief, Kakeru can't deal with many things, and Hikaru hated herself for a couple of nights. Masaru is the only one of us who is, well, normal about Father returning home."

I keep myself from touching him, even if it was for reassurance. "And how do you feel?"

He widens his eyes a little, and then he cringes and looks away from me. "I haven't had time to figure that out yet. I don't know how I feel about Father returning or how I felt after I realized that not everyone was happy. I'm beginning to wonder if I feel anything about myself at all."

"That's because you take too much time with others' feelings," I tell him. "You put others before yourself. Everybody overrates that trait in a person. It's a vice, Satoru, not a quality, especially when concerning you. Please make yourself a first priority before you go any further in life. It's not selfish. Please, just..." I take a deep breath. "Just let go."

"I..." he begins in a form of protest. He doesn't say anything after that and takes a great interest in studying the tree nearby. I want to hug him, tell him to go ahead and cry, now is a better time than ever to do so, but I restrain myself. Not until he is ready. He smiles peculiarly.

"You know," he says, "before Hikaru was born, this is where the three of us brothers often played. I used to be a trouble-maker, not at all the best role model for Masaru and Kakeru, and people wonder how they turned how the way they are. It wasn't until I started kendo, after Hikaru was born, did I start following the rules." He laughs; I smile. I never knew that before about Satoru.

"Five years later, Hikaru defeated Father, and we were left fatherless. Father and I were close, not as close as he was to Kakeru, but as the oldest son, I often had more responsibilities and respect from him, so when he left, I was hurt. I knew I had to be strong because Masaru had found out with me, but, well, you knew me at the time."

"After your father left, you became one of the most popular boys in school," I tell him sternly. "Don't you dare say that it was when you began to use your cold exterior because you've had it even when we first met."

He sighs. "We wouldn't have become friends if we hadn't been paired up to work on that science project together."

"That was hell. Luckily, my father has yet to find out that we were the ones who nearly burnt down the house."

"He still thinks it was the rebellious teenagers your sister made up?"

I laugh; my father is the principal of a nearby high school. "Yes."

Satoru chuckles as well and continues, "Anyway, I was around when Father made a promise to Kakeru. He was seven years old at the time, about to turn eight in a couple of months, and everybody's spirits brightened when he promised to be back for Kakeru's birthday. His and Hikaru's birthdays came and went, and still no sign of Father. I get a letter from him, and... well, Masaru and I decide it's time to tell Kakeru and Hikaru why Father left. Neither was pleased, obviously. Comforting Hikaru is always the hardest task for me to do, and I have never been successful at it."

The smile is yet again gone from his face. "Satoru..."

"I think I now remember the last time I cried," he says. "Telling Kakeru and Hikaru the truth about Father's departure was harsh, and I don't know how I handled it. Masaru couldn't. I hate seeing children hurt, Kyousuke-san, I do, and when those children are my little brother and sister..." He shakes his head. "It wasn't the last time, as they are proving to me again now. I don't know what to do anymore. They're adults now, and they have to sort out their emotions for themselves. I just wish I could've helped because I never had been able to."

I nod, completely understanding what he means. I feel the same way everyday I'm with him, but I can't tell him that now. What if I say something I don't want him to know? Besides, right now, I am in the same helpless state, and I can't do anything to help him. I don't know what to say.

He looks at me again, his eyes near pleading. "You once said that if I needed someone to spill my heart to someone, you'd offer me your shoulder. I-- is it okay if I take you up on that?"

I blink, more speechless than I had just been. I somehow managed to hop over the initial hurdle of shock, and I smile. "It's never too late, Satoru," I say. "And you never need to ask. I'm always here for you."

He gives me a weak grin. "Thank you."

We embrace, and he quietly sobs into my shoulder. For one moment, I let a single tear fall from my eye, but it is neither out of sadness or empathy for my friend. It's because we have finally achieved the level of friendship I wanted us to reach back in junior and senior high school.

Somehow, though, I'm not completely satisfied. What with the new stage I want to reach and have wanted to reach since we graduated, I doubt we'll ever make it that far.

I am in love with Satoru, my best friend. It no longer sounds as pathetic as it had only ten minutes earlier.


Translation Notes: "Ore" and "boku" are two of the ways men use to say to refer to themselves, the latter being more polite (Eagle uses "boku" .); "no" shows possessiveness; and "shin'yuu" means "best friend". So, the title means: "My Best Friend".