Hi there I"s fans, and all followers of Reaching for a Dream - you know, all like…five of you. :P This is indeed the same Gyt Kaliba or 'ReachingforaDream' that you know from the same-titled fansite, here to talk a little bit about the story you're about to read, and hopefully enjoy.
This is an idea I've had for a while now, and have been toying with it more and more ever since we kind of took a hiatus for doing audio dramas. There WILL be more audio dramas in the future, but for now, recording time for myself personally is pretty scarce. I still want to bring some new original content to the site though, not just doing new reviews sporadically. So, if I couldn't do it with voice-over, I decided to try doing it with another of my passions and, quote un-quote, talents - writing.
The original concept for this story came from my own boredom. I was calculating up how many episodes I thought a proper anime adaptation of the I"s manga should have (for those curious, I clocked it in at about 65 episodes, a little over a full year's run for a TV anime in Japan). While doing so, I imagined Studio BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Soul Eater, Ouran High School Host Club, etc.) doing the animation, which for some reason led to another thought - if the proposed show did well, what if they wanted to do a theatrical version? What kind of story would that entail? So, the idea for 'Reflections of the Heart' was born. The title itself has no obvious meaning mind you, it just sounded right to me. It sounded like another chapter title for the manga, as well as harkening a little to the final chapter's title and the name of our site.
For something like I"s, a random 'in-the-middle-of-the-series' type film wouldn't have worked, so I envisioned something that would take place post-series, showing us events that happened after the manga came to a close. In doing so, I was able to imagine the established characters in new and yet familiar scenarios, as well as bringing in a few new characters - some canon but unseen in the manga, and some that are entirely of my own creation. I've tried to channel Katsura as much as I could for every character, but where discrepancies appear, they are of my own error.
Before and during the writing of this, I have talked about various aspects of the proposed story with some friends, who I want to give due credit to, as well as to dedicate this ongoing story to them. First, I'd like to thank HeavyMetalGonyea, a great friend as well as the voice of Ichitaka in the audio dramas - he was a big help by reading through the whopping twelve pages of scenario for this, and giving me some insight on where the story was a bit weak. Second, to Lucca, another friend and the voice of Itsuki in the dramas - she too gave the story a look over for me, as well as just being an incredible influence on my creativity. Third, to Edwin, one of the biggest supporters of my site and I"s in general - he's always great to bounce ideas off of, and though we don't get to talk often, his enthusiasm drives me to work harder on all of my I"s-related ventures. Last but not least, Alc Fluteo, my girlfriend and the voice of Miyoko in the dramas - she possibly deserves the most thanks, not only for being supportive and reading/listening to the entire plot synopsis and helping with it, but for putting up with my obsession with I"s in the first place.
This will quite possibly be the first long-running fan fiction for our little series that has ever been written, as far as I know, so it has the ability to simultaneously be the best and worst one penned as well. Regardless of how you walk away from this story feeling, I hope that it will at least have kept you reading all the way through to the end.
So, enough blathering on from me, let's raise the curtain on 'I"s: The Movie: Reflections of the Heart'. Please enjoy it.
- Gyt Kaliba, I"s: Reaching for a Dream
Chapter 1. Three Years
A towering pillar of boxes rose high towards the ceiling before Toshiro, looking as if the slightest movement would cause them to fall on him at any given second. "He really expects me to move all of these to the basement? He's insane!" Running his hand through his brown, wavy hair, a sigh escaped from Toshi's lips as he looked the pillar up and down once more. Definitely insane.
The door behind him slid open, causing him to turn around, and as his eyes took in the black-haired beauty that was his co-worker Kaya, his heart fluttered. "I can hear you griping all the way in front you know." She giggled, causing his heart to move on from fluttering to practically jumping out of his chest.
"Oh, sorry about that." He laughed, rubbing the back of his head now and playing his nervousness off as a sense of coolness. "Hope none of the customers heard me. The assistant manager would never let me hear the end of it."
"No worries, he's out running errands right now. It's kind of a slow day anyway." As she spoke, Kaya picked up a box from a second, smaller pillar, before turning to face the doorway. "C'mon, I'll help you get these moved."
"Really? AWESOME!" Toshiro smiled from ear to ear, quickly grabbing another box from the pile before starting to follow her out of the room. "Have I told you I love you Kaya?" He said jokingly, though behind the joke the words rang true.
"S-Shut up Toshi." Her face warmed a bit as she kept her face turned away from him so he couldn't see her blush. Toshi could be a clown sometimes, but there was something about him that attracted her to him - not that she'd ever tell him anyway, nor did she have time to focus on a relationship in the first place. College entrance exams weren't that far off. Pushing her confused feelings aside, she turned to face him at last. "Let's just get this over wi - Toshi, look out!" She gasped, dropping the box she was holding.
"Huh?" Still holding his own load, Toshi turned to look behind him, just in time to see the large pillar of boxes collapse under it's own weight, perhaps having been jostled when he'd grabbed from the other pile. The possibility of the items in the boxes breaking were the least of his worries, as all of them started down their natural path forward - onto him. "Ahh!"
As a loud crash rang through the air, and Kaya had to back out of the room as boxes flooded out, dragging Toshi's body along with them, lest she be avalanched herself, the front door to the store flew open. "What the heck is going on!"
Kaya turned, horror-stricken, towards the voice. Her face filled with relief momentarily, before she frantically started to spaz out. "M-Manager! I'm so sorry sir! It was an accident! I-I was helping Toshi move those boxes to the basement like you asked him to, when suddenly they just collapsed!" She gasped again, bending down to try to pull Toshi free of his cardboard rubble of a prison. "Oh Toshi, are you all right?"
"Yeah. Super. Never been better." Toshi remarked in a wobbly manner, feeling as if his entire head was spinning. If he hadn't been so distracted by his possible concussion, he might have gotten a bigger thrill out of Kaya touching his skin, even if it was just to pull on his arm.
The manager sighed, his head hanging a little bit as he rubbed the bridge of his nose in exasperation. "I leave the store unattended for five minutes, and you two manage to destroy the stock room." Shaking his head, he looked at Kaya with a smile to show he wasn't really that angry. "All right, let's dig Toshiro out from under there, then I'll help you both get these boxes moved."
"Th-Thank you manager." Kaya breathed a sigh of relief, happy to see he wasn't angry at all. She couldn't ask for a better boss.
"No problem. And please, you don't have to call me manager." He said as he removed a few boxes from the back of a still dazed Toshiro. "You can use my first name, I'm not that much older than you."
Kaya looked at her boss fondly, almost wondering if she had a small crush on him too. "Sorry. Thank you…Ichitaka."
"All right, I'll see you guys tomorrow. Get some rest Kaya, and Toshiro - if I find anything broken later, it's coming out of your check!" Ichitaka Seto said, waving goodbye to his workers as they rode away on their bikes. He could swear he saw Toshiro stick his tongue out at him as he rode away. "Little punk." He smiled, before walking back into the store and behind the counter.
He had worked at this small convenience store for over four years now, ever since his graduation from high school. Despite almost getting fired over a lot of missed days a few years back, when he had been busy keeping an eye on Iori from afar during the looming threat of the Marionette King, Ichitaka had proven himself to be a hard worker, enough so that he'd been named assistant manager by the owner. The owner was elderly and often stayed home and let Ichitaka run things, so to his two workers, he was more or less the actual manager.
As he signed off on some order forms, carefully stacking them in a pile, Ichitaka's thoughts drifted some. Being the manager of a small store at his age wasn't exactly bad, but having workers still in high school made him feel old even at his young age. And while he was on friendly terms with them both, Toshiro and Kaya both rubbed him the wrong way, though through no fault of their own.
In Toshiro, Ichitaka saw himself. They weren't that similar on the surface, as Toshiro was much more of a jokester and seemingly sure of himself than Ichitaka could ever be, but ever since he'd caught Toshiro watching Kaya instead of doing his work… It reminded him of the old days. Back when he'd mooned over Iori constantly. There were lots of good times, but they were also his darkest times, and they drew him naturally to the unsettling reminder of Kaya's attitude.
Kaya was an intenstly focused student, working hard to get into college after her high school graduation in naught but a few months. Seeing such dedication was inspiring, but also disheartening for Ichitaka. He tried not to think about it as he worked on shutting down the store for the night, but the thoughts kept invading his head. I've already failed my entrance exams three times… He thought to himself, bitterly cursing himself now for how narrow-minded he had been during his high school years. So focused had he been on his love life, or lack there-of, that he hadn't put much effort into his school work. As a result, he failed his first entrance exam, and had continued to fail it ever since, despite putting a lot of effort into studying. "Maybe I just don't have what it takes." He said aloud, though there was nobody around to hear him.
Stepping out from behind the counter, he grabbed his jacket off of the coat hanger, pulling it on as he flipped off the light and exited the store. It was fall now, and the air had started to chill just enough to seep into your bones, making it seem a lot colder than it actually was. Turning to look through the window at his counter one last time, he closed his eyes. Taking a deep breath, he forcibly suppressed his misgivings, and turned to walk towards his apartment.
A voice rode on the wind into his ear, causing him to stop abruptly and turn around. The voice sounded as lovely as it had every time he had heard it, dating back to far, far earlier in his youth, and the sight of her filled his heart with greater joy than anything else ever had. "Iori, what're you doing here?"
Smiling, Iori stepped forward, a grocery bag hanging off of her arm, her auburn hair blowing in the breeze. "I had to run and get some groceries for my mother. I knew you'd be getting off around now, so I thought I'd stop by to see if you wanted me to walk with you to your apartment."
Ichitaka smiled as he stepped towards her, taking the bag for her, as he bent down to kiss her gently on the forehead. "I'd like that."
"You know, it's more traditional for the boyfriend to walk his girlfriend to her house, not the other way around." Ichitaka teased, walking with Iori's bag in one hand, his other arm draped around her shoulder and holding her close for shared warmth.
Iori giggled, her body snuggled against his with her cheek against his arm, just below his shoulder. Looking up at him sweetly she didn't dignify his tease with a response. "So, how was work today?"
"It was all right." He smiled, taking her hand into his own before slipping them into his jacket pocket, something he did often. "There were some invoices I had to get sent out, so I left the store with Toshiro and Kaya for a while. We weren't really getting much business anyway, but then - " As they walked, Ichitaka recounted the day's chaos to Iori.
"Oh wow, that could have been bad." Iori said with a touch of concern in her voice. "I'm glad he wasn't hurt."
"It'll take more than that to hurt him, he's got a thick skull." Ichitaka laughed, hoping that somewhere that very second, Toshiro was sneezing due to being talked about.
"They both seem like nice kids though."
"They are." Ichitaka said fondly, looking to the stars in the sky overhead. He opened his mouth to say something, but once more tried to push his worries to the back of his mind. It wouldn't do any good to worry Iori as well. Looking back down at her, he instead smirked and latched onto her last statement. "'Kids' huh? Well don't you sound like an old lady."
Iori pouted before removing her hand from his to jab him in the side.
"Oww!" Ichitaka laughed, a smile of mollification coming to Iori's face before she returned her hand to his jacket pocket. "Geez…" He said, rubbing his side with his opposite hand.
Despite thinking that he was cute when he acted like that, Iori knew Ichitaka well enough now to know when there was something on his mind. He always tried to change the subject or crack a joke when something was bothering him, and he wasn't very good at either one. She had a feeling of what was bothering him too. "So…are you ready for the reunion?"
Ichitaka's body stiffened up a bit at her words. There was no avoiding the subject now that she had brought it up herself. "I…I guess." He said in a non-committal tone. "It'll be great to see everyone again."
"But?" Iori trailed off, prompting him to continue where she knew there was more to be said.
He sighed before replying. "I'm just…I'm not really sure of where I am in life right now. I haven't done anything since graduating." He kicked at the ground a bit before Iori stopped walking, causing him to stand as well.
"What do you mean Ichitaka?" She looked him in the eyes, or at least tried to - he was avoiding eye contact. "You're a manag - "
"Fine, assistant manager." She smiled, walking in front of him so he would have to look at her. "Assistant manager who does the work of a full manager, at your job. You keep applying to college - "
Iori was glaring at him now, but in a cute way. "And I'm sure you'll get in just as soon as…" She stopped, not really sure of how to finish her sentence.
"Exactly." He said, smiling ruefully and staring at the ground between them now. "I just don't want to be the guy who doesn't achieve anything but still shows up for the reunion for free food. I want to be good enough to…to hold my head up high when I see the others." He mentally said the sentence as he had really meant to say it - To be good enough for you.
"You worry too much." Iori smiled kindly, taking his hand back out of his jacket pocket and holding it, squeezing it reassuringly. "Nobody's going to think any less of you for not being in college yet. I promise."
"I guess." He said, starting to walk forward again with her. He didn't feel completely better, but having Iori try to cheer him up was always enough to lighten his mood some.
"I'll see you tomorrow, okay Ichitaka?" Iori said, standing in front of Ichitaka's apartment, as he stood against his door facing her. "And try to cheer up, all right?"
"I will. And thanks Iori." He stepped forward, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her close to his body.
"My pleasure." She said softly, looking up into his eyes. "Someone has to walk you home, it's dangerous out there."
He rolled his eyes, finding her attempt at wit to be unfunny - but insanely cute. Briefly, the thought of how different she seemed in some ways now, compared to her previous meek self, flashed through his mind. But it was still Iori, and he still loved her, with every fiber of his being. Smiling, he leaned his face closer to hers as his eyes closed. At the same time, she raised slightly onto her toes, meeting his face with her own, and their lips pressed together in a loving kiss. Embracing each other tenderly, they kissed for what was likely a short time, but felt like a wondrous forever to them both. When they finally pulled apart, their faces remained close as simultaneously, they opened their eyes, and smiled.
"Bye Ichitaka." Iori said, backing away and heading down the stairs to begin walking back to her own home. Then, she stopped, looking back up at him. "Oh! I almost forgot, don't forget that the day after tomorrow, you and your parents are supposed to come to my parents' house for dinner."
Though Iori smiled sweetly at this reminder, Ichitaka had to do his best to make the smile on his own face seem honest, rather than the grimace that it was. "Right, I remember. I'll pick my parents up and meet you there."
"All right. I'll see you tomorrow then. I love you." She said sweetly, walking down the stairs and waving goodbye to him.
"I love you too." Ichitaka said, his heart swelling with feeling as he waved farewell to his girlfriend. Once she was out of sight, he stepped into his apartment, shutting the door behind him. After flicking the light on, he leaned against the door, slowly sinking a little. If worries about the reunion didn't kill him first, it was very likely that the thought of meeting with Iori's parents - or more specifically her father - again, would.
Intentionally smacking the back of his head against his door lightly, he blew the storm clouds in his head away, smiling as he walked into his kitchen area to get some dinner going. "Iori's right, I do worry too much. Everything will be all right. It always is…as long as I have Iori by my side…"