A/N: Ever read 'Hills Like White Elephants' by Ernest Hemingway? It's one of the more interesting short stories I've read, but it's made of equal parts confusing. I'm no Hemingway though, so I'll revert back to my usual writing style~
Dedicated to Randrak42 and FFXFan13 in animesuki, the latter of which actually gave me this idea during an argument o.0 Doubt FFXFan13 will ever see this, though ;)
It is as children when they first meet; that one twilit night in the playroom of his mother's clinic when a young and curious Kurokami Medaka chances upon an equally young but struggling Hitoyoshi Zenkichi.
The young boy cannot solve a puzzle.
She does not see the problem, but again, she could never see such things. Instead, even at her young age, she sees solutions- quick, fast, and effective- and it is all so dull to her. And yet, when the playroom is pieced together, and that young boy smiles, she is confronted with the one question she still hadn't known the answer to.
Hitoyoshi Zenkichi is enamored by the young girl of his age. She is smart, much smarter than he is, and she patiently follows through with his every request until, at last, she reveals there is one thing she still does not know, and it plagues her.
"Why was I born?" Were her monotonously delivered words; so tired. So very tired, even at such a young age.
He finds the answer is simple.
"To make everyone around you happy!"
In an instant, colors spark into the monochrome world Kurokami Medaka sees, and it spreads like wildfire until it consumes her and she realizes, yes; this could be it.
It will be years later when Zenkichi realizes that he truly wanted to say "to make me happy", but even at such a young age he knew, instinctively knew, such words should never be said.
It is as children when Hitoyoshi Zenkichi first discovers jealousy. It is not long since their meeting when Zenkichi could see that gap that exists between him and his best friend, and he knows, if this keeps on, he can't keep up.
His best friend, Kurokami Medaka, is perfect in every conceivable way, and it stuns him; at such a young age, he knows he can't keep up. So he rebels, and he pulls away despite not truly wanting to.
Before he can hurt Medaka-chan; before he says words he knows he will regret.
Kurokami Medaka, of course, notices neither his quiet withdrawal nor his internal struggle. She sees things differently, and so she does not understand. Why can Zenkichi not keep up? It is so simple, after all. It is of no matter, though; she has other duties to attend to, she thinks.
Was she not born into this world to make other people happy? And so she does.
Her classmates greet her with a bright smile, her teacher pats her on the head, and Kurokami Medaka thinks she is content. How can she not be, for she was fulfilling her purpose in life, surely?
So she says nothing, and Zenkichi says nothing, except, Kurokami Medaka still takes his hand on the odd occasion, and Zenkichi silently gravitates towards her, because even at such a young age, part of him knows it wants to be with her.
But how can he, when he is so human, and she is so clearly not?
It is in the zoo where Zenkichi realizes his folly, and it is a lesson to him, indeed.
He finds her sulking at a nearby bench, far away from their gathered group, and his mind cannot comprehend why.
Why was Medaka-chan like this?
So he sits beside her, and she glances at him, rubbing her glistening eyes, and he sees her struggle to hold back her tears of disappointment.
The animals refuse to meet her, even though she loves them so. She knows it is her fault, somehow, and her class knows it too, and so she is told to wait behind so that the trip would not be a complete disaster.
And Zenkichi knows that Medaka-chan is still human, and more human than anybody, even he, realized.
His mind is made up that day, and he resolves to stay at Medaka-chan's side because, if not he, then who will?
So he tells her to wait, and he scurries away, and then he returns shortly with a bright smile on his face.
He holds up a stuffed toy shaped as a leopard before her and grins. "Here, now you have an animal!"
Medaka stares at him and hangs her head gloomily. "It's not real." She points out; it is not at all warm.
A twitch develops on the young Hitoyoshi Zenkichi's brow and he shoves the doll into her arms, and once more tells her to wait, and he scurries away, again. Kurokami Medaka waits with quiet stillness of a statue, and Zenkichi returns an hour later, and he is not alone.
Zenkichi's face is marked with scratches and his clothes disheveled and torn at the seams, but he still presents her the lion cub clutched in his arms. He grins at her wryly before he is whacked on the head by the accompanying zookeeper, and he glares up at the tired man defiantly.
"There, you've shown your friend." The zookeeper prompts, worried about the lion cub that is clearly afraid of the little girl. "Please return him now."
"No! Not yet!" He turns to the cub in his arms and thrusts it closer to the wide-eyed Medaka-chan; it has already passed out at this point. "Look, Medaka-chan! Now it's real!"
"Classmate Hitoyoshi Zenkichi!" She scolds him, and he is shocked; she is quite honestly furious. "Return this cub this instant! Don't rip him away from his family!"
Though the thoroughly chastised Zenkichi grumbles but complies, he does see that there are no more unshed tears glistening in Medaka-chan's eyes, and there is no epiphany that strikes him; only a quiet affirmation that there is no simple answer to staying by Medaka-chan's side.
He has to work for it, and he finds it doesn't matter. If it means he shall never see the lonely Medaka-chan again, then he'd work as hard as he took. His spirit does not last long, of course. It shatters and he is left broken, but when he sees Medaka-chan, he is reminded of what it is he is fighting for- so that she will never be there, in that corner, ever again- and so he fires himself up, and he fights.
As the years turn and the days come and go, Kurokami Medaka is honestly perplexed at Hitoyoshi Zenkichi. He is watching over her, and keeping up with her, and so she thinks; there must be something special about Hitoyoshi Zenkichi for him to always be there, by her side. She does not know what it is, but she finds it does not matter.
What mattered was that Zenkichi was there, with her, and she feels happy because of it, and eventually she finds herself relying on his presence more and more.
"Give up. I'm saying this for your own sake. There is no way you can stay beside my cute little sister's side. You are just normal, after all."
"I'll show you! I'll always be at Medaka-chan's side!"
"You are but an insect, unfit to even breathe in Kurokami Medaka-san's presence. An unrespectable piece of garbage such as you belongs elsewhere; you are nowhere near fit enough to even think of keeping up with her, worm!"
"Bah! Like you're any better, you conniving snake! I've been by Medaka-chan's side all this time, and I'll continue to do so!"
Time was unkind to their bond, and Kurokami Medaka and Hitoyoshi Zenkichi fall into routine, lulled by the tranquility bestowed upon by habits. Kurokami Medaka continuously fulfills her life's purpose and stands above the rest, while he, Hitoyoshi Zenkichi, struggles to keep up with her, so that when she glances behind her she is reassured that someone is there.
She knows Zenkichi will always be there, because when has he not? He knows Medaka-chan is right, and so he stays his question.
Zenkichi has forgotten what it was that compels him to keep up with Medaka-chan, and Medaka does not bothering questioning it. He can honestly admit that he loves Medaka-chan; everyone does, and she reciprocates; Kurokami Medaka loves everyone, too, for is that not why she continues to make them happy?
Life thus continues, and they pull away, and they pull back, and middle school happens, and Zenkichi holds her so very close when Medaka-chan finally breaks, and Medaka knows, now, that Zenkichi has to be special for him to be there with her.
He is with her, then, at her darkest moment, and he promises to himself that, never again.
It is when they are fifteen when Zenkichi is once more confronted with the reality of his tepid place in Medaka-chan's life.
They are met with a cadre of companions during their tenure in Hakoniwa Academy- specials, abnormals plus and minus -and he sees, firsthand, how small he really is. However, already he has decided since days long gone, and so he fights. Zenkichi fights harder and works harder, all to affirm his place in Medaka-chan's eyes, because, he knows, if he doesn't, then this would stop; she would leave him.
And he is honestly unsure why that thought scares him the most.
It is the enigmatic Ajimu Najimi, Anshin'in-san, who makes him confront what he had forgotten all this time, too engrossed in protecting the powerful and yet fragile Kurokami Medaka.
Hitoyoshi Zenkichi is in love with Kurokami Medaka.
He realizes simply being by Medaka-chan's side would not make her look his way, never.
Medaka-chan needed to grow, and Zenkichi finds that he had been holding her back.
They all were holding her back.
And so he challenges her, to make her grow, and to prove to her that he is, indeed, special. That it is only he that loves her, truly loves her, and is willing to be with her come what may.
So Zenkichi frees Medaka-chan of her restraints. Now, she should realize that they are a perfect match, surely?
When Medaka-chan finally suffers her first, crippling defeat, Zenkichi finds that the universe has finally given him his chance.
Just one simple sentence, and the woman he is in love with would be his, forevermore.
But that is not what Zenkichi wants; he wants Medaka-chan. He does not want the hollow shell of Kurokami Medaka to believe it is her life's purpose to love him forever, no matter how strong the temptation was.
It really hurt to be normal, because to everyone else, the answer is too simple.
An Abnormal will choose the right answer, without hesitation, and a Minus would take advantage of her, without thought. The Not Equals wouldn't care, at all, and would instead leave her be.
But Hitoyoshi Zenkichi is Normal.
And so now he knows what must be done, and he bites his cheek and his jaw clenches tightly because he struggles to admit, "Medaka-chan…you have to find it out for yourself."
And quietly, his eyes tell her and she understands; he will still always be looking after her, watching over her, so that when she feels the urge to glance back, or when the world blows strongly against her, there is someone there to catch her. It is all he can do, this, for the amazing woman he is in love with.
Because Zenkichi knows, more than anyone, Medaka-chan loves humanity, but humanity is busy with their own lives.
He is delighted and yet confused when she kisses him, her fans pressed against her lips with a flush on her cheeks, "Zenkichi, we are a perfect match."
It disgusted him that in his quest to prove himself in her eyes, he had hurt her, and he once again stared into the desperate eyes of that middle school Kurokami Medaka, broken and seeking comfort, except this time, he knew it was his hand that caused it.
President Hitoyoshi shakes such thoughts away, and stares out into the open window. Those musings do not matter, now, because Kurokami Medaka is happily living life unrestrained.
For all her talk of living up to one's full potential, Medaka-chan had been holding herself back for humanity's sake- so that she could mingle with the humanity she loves, no matter who they are.
Now, Kurokami Medaka can love humanity, and the beast within herself.
Zenkichi struggles with his urges.
He sees Medaka-chan outside, bringing chaos in her wake, and yet it is that bright smile on her face that assures him that he made the right decision. And so, he waits, and waits, and waits patiently for her to come, however long it will be.
He is in love with Kurokami Medaka, but he is unsure if she feels the same way, but he contents himself with watching her learn for herself, and watching her grow for herself. He is true to his promise; he will stay by Medaka-chan's side, never interfering unless needed.
But Medaka-chan is a very capable young woman.
They are still the best of friends, and she pulls him along whenever he is free, and he lets himself be swept away, all the while bottling his feelings into his chest with a grin and a smile.
Zenkichi does not want to burden Medaka-chan anymore. He wants her to grow, and live life for herself.
It is Naze Youka that informs him that Medaka-chan is still a caged bird of the Kurokami Group, and Zenkichi ponders his options, and stills his hand from striking first. He wants to rise up against the Kurokami Group, but he knows it is not his business to interfere, and Medaka-chan knows she has to handle this, and she will.
When Medaka-chan disappears, he is all-too eager to sink his fangs as Kurokami Medaka-chan's guard dog.
The ensuing chase was a normal affair, and he is happy because Medaka-chan is now free of her fiancées. When Medaka appears to the group in nothing but an apron and her undergarments as she had promised Kumagawa, he is unsurprised.
Medaka-chan felt no shame in flaunting her body for the eyes to feast, after all.
Unnoticed by him, Kurokami Medaka watches her best friend with unreadable eyes, ignoring all else, as she ponders why Zenkichi came for her; she had been trying to not get him involved in this, after all.
And then a thought struck her, why was that?
Why did it strike her as something fearful, the thought that Zenkichi would be put in harm's way?
A small part of her knows and whispers; it is because Zenkichi would willingly do everything if it meant her happiness.
It scares her to know that one day, Zenkichi might leave her…
"Sushi?" Medaka-chan looks puzzled and Zenkichi grins.
"There's this new place that just opened. Do you want to check it out?"
Kurokami Medaka ponders the question. It isn't that she never had sushi before, but more along the lines of that this was the first time she would be going out to a sushi restaurant.
Medaka-chan smiles and nods her head with an eager smile. "Sure. Let's go!"
As they walk, they exchange stories about what they had been doing, and as they eat, a stray thought crosses Medaka's mind- it is something her brother had been quite insistent about when they ate.
"Zenkichi." She calls him in her usual manner.
He looks up at her and asks, "What's up?"
Red eyes trail towards the piece held between her chopsticks before returning back at her best friend. "Open your mouth."
He has an idea about what she plans to do, and, with embers on his cheeks, complies.
As Medaka feeds him, she begins to question why such a simple act has made her own cheeks redden.
"I don't think I want to go…" Medaka speaks unsurely.
Zenkichi scratches his cheek. "How come?"
She glares at him with tepid eyes, "You know why."
"But you love animals. You've always wanted to return to the zoo, right?" He points out, and her body stiffens. "Trust me; it'll be fun."
Zenkichi holds out his hand, and Medaka's quite happy with the initiative he is displaying, "You've really grown, Zenkichi." She whispers to him and decides to accept his offer.
When they enter the zoo, she is honestly surprised that none of the animals shy away from her, and she snaps towards Zenkichi sharply when she realizes what his plan had been all along. She turns to him with a wide smile and he nods his head.
Devil style had nullifed the charisma that made her stand above every living being, and he is happy at the unadulterated happiness seeping out of Medaka-chan's every pore. She is wide-eyed and innocent, and she flashes him an eager smile.
They spent the entire Saturday perusing through each cage, Medaka smiling happily as she pets the animals to her heart's content. Zenkichi is just happy to see her smile.
This time, when they reach the lion's den, Medaka recognizes the lion cub from their childhood, now grown, as it licks her digits, and she turns to Zenkichi with a brilliant smile.
Medaka suggests they visit the aquarium next, and the neighboring city. Zenkichi nods his head in agreement.
He still waits for her still, patiently, with the hope that she will return to him, but he never prods, and never forces her. Despite wanting to be much more, they hang out as friends, just like before, just like when they were children.
For now, though, he is content to seeing her grow and experience new things, just like how she allowed him.
Kurokami Medaka is such a curious kitten, and Zenkichi admits that he is deeply smitten.
There is no enlightening epiphany when it happens; the planets do not align, nothing of the sort occurs.
This is the real world, after all.
Instead, nature took its natural course, and a tale as old as time had unfolded.
It is now, on their way home from yet another experience, seated on the bus, when Kurokami Medaka realizes what Miyakonojou was trying to tell her, and her fist balls against her heart as she tries to still its racing. Though now awake after an exhausting day, her eyes remain closed as she inhales Zenkichi.
Her best friend is oblivious, of course, as he struggles to keep his hands to himself, planted on his lap. Her temple is tucked against the coracoid process of his shoulder and cushioned by the taut muscles within, and her fragrance intoxicates his mind.
She is so close, she knows he knows.
She is there for him, she knows he knows.
She is now ready for him, she knows he doesn't know.
Her heart clenches, knowing this. The yearning she feels inside is nigh untamable, and she wants to tell him now, but knows, he might not believe her, because she is Kurokami Medaka, and so she needs to convince him.
But this yearning- how long had he been holding back? Medaka can feel it is his labor of love, and the thought makes her feel warm.
She does not want to think, but she knows, she will not squander this.
For the first time in her life, she is not bothered with wondering why she exists or proving her existence but is, instead, too content with remaining here, with him, with her best friend, buried in his warmth, and she knows she does not want this to end, and she affirms that he is special to her, because he is her Hitoyoshi Zenkichi.
So she makes arrangements to make him realize this.
A small smile forms on her lips when she presses herself deeper into his warmth, and his body stiffens.
A careless toss sails her frilled secret towards him and he splutters when its damp warmth is in his hands.
Zenkichi's head snaps towards her and he face-faults.
"What are you doing in my room? !" He shoves a demanding finger at her amidst the embarrassment coloring his cheeks. "And what are you wearing? !"
Medaka-chan looks at him with curious eyes. "I am checking myself in your mirror." She replies as if speaking of the weather. She glances at the mirror and strikes a pose, and smiles contently to herself, satisfied that she look splendid in this attire. "As for what I'm wearing, I thought you, of all people, would know this." It is a thinly-veiled affirmation that she knows of his guilty pleasure. "It is called a naked apron."
She shows him with a graceful twirl. "See?"
Oh yes, he most certainly does see, and his cheeks do burn, and yet, he can't help but ask, resignedly, "What brought this on?"
With a flick of her wrist, her fan is immediately against her lips, but it is her coy eyes, smoldering with affection, that say it all; "It is nothing uncommon." She states simply, and he swallows the lump in his throat born of her sauntering approach, her alluring childbearing hips swaying with the most sinful of movements, "Just the rest of our lives."
The door behind him shuts to a close and he turns his gaze away from the temptress Medaka-chan.
"I…am only a normal guy, Medaka-chan." He struggles to admit, because it pains him, and it's hard, really. Medaka-chan loves humanity, and is not abashed of her beauty, and he loves her so much, and he wants her to be happy, and so he needs her to be sure because, once the ball started rolling, he won't be able to stop himself.
Zenkichi cannot say that he will play with her emotions to win her heart; he is just too human for that, and the gravity of his careless words had already ripped Medaka-chan of her life, and so he struggled to return it to her.
And now, here, in his room, with his mother abroad. Now, here, alone in his house, together with the girl he loved and loves, and always will; this always sure girl that tries her best, spurned onwards by her love for humanity, is here, with him, presenting herself to him.
He presses his hand against his forehead in restraint. "I don't know if I can last with you teasing me like this."
Zenkichi is jolted by the human tenderness in her reply.
"Shh, I know." She presses a finger against her lips before it trails with a gentle, hesitant touch to his side, and her warm palm cups his cheek and she makes him see her and the affection for him shimmering in her red eyes. "And I want you to let go."
Both her hands now cup his cheeks and he drowns in her eyes, her words, and especially in those full, moist lips.
"I am ready now, and happy with the life you allowed me to live." Her voice is but a tender breath against his skin, and her eyes shimmer with truth. "But I found, there is one thing missing. I really do need you, Zenkichi." She admits, haltingly, meaningfully, and now he knows she truly means it, unlike before, that time, so long ago.
"I need you more than you could ever know," Medaka's lips are quivering because this delightful and frightening feeling is new; never had she felt so human until now, and her trepid eyes do not betray her feelings, "So please don't hold yourself back anymore."
"It's not normalcy that I need, Zenkichi. It is you."
She tilts her head to the side with a brilliant smile. "Sorry to keep you waiting."
And it is now, he knows, she is truly ready.
And it is now, he knows, she is truly his.
He pulls her lips against his, and she makes their lips meet.
It is now, she truly knows, he is special.
It is now, she truly knows, he is hers.
Their hearts grow, and her toes curl despite herself, and their hearts, side-by-side, beat as one – a lover's synchronicity -, and now they know why it is humans are born with just one heart; to feel completeness when in the embrace of one another.
Their arms, needy with greed and years of pent-up longing finally released, pull against the other as if trying to make themselves one, and Zenkichi doesn't mind- does not even think- when her impatient fingers now have his buttons come undone, and his warm hands find themselves against her warm skin.
For once, she is shy, for this is the first time she is touched so, and her flushed cheeks and hazy eyes only endear her more, to him.
Zenkichi holds her, so tightly, because he never wants to let her go, and knows he is being selfish. Medaka kisses him, so deeply, with her arms just as entwined as his, and she tells him she is selfish, too, just this once, and just for him, and thus she never will.
The air is hot and heavy but neither notice; they are much too engrossed into the other to notice.
Because this is what they have been waiting for, they are what they need.
Her, Kurokami Medaka.
Him, Hitoyoshi Zenkichi.
Their carnal scuffling takes them against the door, against the floor, against the bed, on top of the bed, and they kiss, and she moans, and he groans, and they pull against each other once again.
He ravishes her.
He ravishes and worships her, and he plunders the strength from her and she cries out – oh, does he make her cry out- but it is not nearly enough, and she begs for more, and he is all-too eager to comply to Medaka-chan's wishes, because it is Medaka-chan's wishes.
She pants, and her moist lips are upon his with need, and their foreheads kiss in exhaustion, breaths, hot, and heavy with passion, caressing each other in mutual bliss. Their skin, moist and flushed, glides upon one another to keep the other warm. Her fingers scrape against his back; his lips bite against her shoulder; she whispers against the ear her tongue caresses, and he tells her none of those regrets matter anymore, and they show each other why.
There was never a moment of silence, that night.
Kurokami Medaka smiles at him enchantingly, radiantly, when she is filled;
"See," she whispers breathlessly. She is curled up against his panting chest, like the curious lost-now-found kitten that she is, and she speaks contentedly, eyelids pressed against each other in divine bliss, "I was right."
"We are a perfect match."
Zenkichi can't stop himself; he kisses her and they moan.
They wake up in each other's love, and Zenkichi honestly does not want to move, and Medaka is, for once, too exhausted and content to move, so they lay, there, wrapped in each other and in the musky sheets, and whisper sweet nothings to one another.
Their sense of duty does finally overcome their selfishness, and they get up and prepare. They tell one another that it might be best should they not shower, together, lest they choose to stay indoors and never go out, and they seal their agreement with a mutual kiss.
It is she that is caressed under the soothing water first while he sets their stained sheets in the wash, and when he returns, his turn to be cleansed, Medaka hums her approval when his lips nuzzle against her slightly damp, still naked and exposed shoulder as Zenkichi makes his way to the shower, and she prepares their meal.
He is mildly surprised when she is there, waiting, when he comes out with one towel on his head and wrapped around his waist.
Her eyes are shimmering when they look at him- a silent request for permission- and Zenkichi nods his head, and Medaka does the one thing she has not done in a while.
She wordlessly clothes him and he watches. Dainty hands linger against the heat she finds comfort in, and her breath is reverent as she does his buttons, rostral, until, at last, she is finished. Zenkichi looks into her eyes questioningly, worriedly.
Medaka smiles at him so endearingly and she nods her head in affirmation, and he cannot contain himself.
She loves humans, and loves serving them. Most of all, she loves him, most, her Hitoyoshi Zenkichi, with her mind, body, and immortal soul, and she is sure, now and forever and more; she is his, alone, to touch, to hold, to love, and to comfort.
Medaka stands on her toes and Zenkichi hunches down.
Their lips meet,
And their story is just beginning.
"Shall we head off, President Hitoyoshi?"
Zenkichi takes her hand but it is Medaka that entwines their fingers.
"Call me like you always do, Medaka-chan."
The sweet nostalgia in his words leaves her with a breathtaking smile, and their foreheads kiss, serendipitously, her arms wrapped around his neck, his arms wrapped around her waist, and she breathes out the truth.
A radiant smile is upon her lips.
"I love you, Zenkichi."
Kurokami Medaka loves humanity, and loves herself.
Most of all, she loves her Hitoyoshi Zenkichi.
Now, forever, and more.
A/N: Da-dum, tush~! Medaka/Zenkichi, complete~! I really love this pairing =) Hopefully there'll be more Zen/Medaka to come xD Thoughts and critiques to show your support? :3
Now to address a rather loyal reviewer o.o…
Save the King: Ah, first, thanks for the reviews, and I'm rather flattered you hounded me all the way to this section. Rest assured though, I do not have plans on dropping LTRA, SCE, and 'A Little Bit'; I'll get to them eventually ^_^;;; I apologize for the wait. I'll try to get one SCE theme up, but at the moment, all my ideas are focused on the Leonhart siblings, and I'm still not sure how my readers feel about them xD;
Many thanks also to Frosty Wolf for their reviews.