Note: The quotations in italics throughout the story are from Samuel Beckett.


A Song in Celexa

Normally I didn't see a great deal. I didn't hear a great deal either. I didn't pay attention. Strictly speaking I wasn't there. Strictly speaking I believe I've never been anywhere.

I thought that I could do anything that he could do. I convinced myself of that quite easily. After all, he had always walked ahead, while I ran behind, trying to follow in his footsteps.

The girl sitting opposite me was, in my opinion, the best looking girl in freshman year. Mika Sonoya was her name. She had those perfect oval eyes you see in paintings. Flawless. The epitome of grace and dignity. She seemed intelligent too. Every syllable that fell from her mouth was like morning dew to a parched man. I could not imagine a woman more perfect than this. My latest and greatest conquest.

"The drama society is performing Beckett in the libel arts auditorium tomorrow, if you are interested, I can get tickets. Beckett is..." she moved her hand in one, elegant sweep, causing the golden bracelets to shimmer on her delicate, thin wrists, "...one of those playwrights everyone should experience. He speaks, and you listen, and you despair. There is something very... human, about his work."

I nodded without listening. I was enchanted by her. The strange things she said, the dignity with which she delivered her opinions. The way her hair had looked thrown across my pillow. The softness of her skin under my hands. Even the warm, homely well between her legs had seemed unusually pleasant to me.

But the moments were brief.

One of so many. Like a flower that bloomed in my mind for a night, capturing my eye so briefly, only to wither and fade away. Delicate, fragile thing. Great beauty could only be admired from afar. The enjoyment was only ever momentary, before the sweetness would fade.

Never bed the same woman twice. That was the advice he had had for me, all those rainy Sundays ago, wrapped up in a Sunday morning duvet. His blue eyes bright and mischievous as if it had all been a wonderful game to play.

But what about me?

You're different. He'd said. He'd laughed. I might even have smiled, mistaking his amusement for affection.

But he did it with such ease. Loving. Breathing. Being. He didn't hold on to anything at all. He floated through this sensory world like a spirit. And I tried to follow him. If he lived that way, I wanted to live that way too.

I played the part, you know, the part of — how shall I say, I don't know.

"So..." she watched me from behind her steaming coffee mug. "Tickets?"

The cheap student eatery around us smelt like coffee and bleach.

Beckett. I fumbled in my pocket for the small tube of pills and shook two out onto my hand. I threw them into my mouth like candy and downed them with an easy gulp of tea. She watched me curiously.

"I think I'm busy," I said. "Sorry."

She stalled. My answer was not unexpected, but it displeased her nonetheless. Women were always like that. They always thought themselves superior. They always had the assumption that they were the one. The one in the pursuit of whom we would change ourselves.

"Well," she began, turning indignantly pink. "That's it, is it?"

I nodded. I'd fucked her. I sure as hell wasn't going to the theatre with her. That's what we were. We floated onwards. Always. We didn't get tied down with things like relationships. We were free.

She turned to leave, rising out of her side of the bench, demonstrating her anger with her sharp movements.

I let her go, and said nothing. Almost immediately her place on the bench was taken by another.

"Good morning," he said, with a casual smile and a yawn. My back stiffened slightly.

"Was that Mika Sonoya I saw?"

"Hn." I replied.

And once again I am... I will not say alone, no, that's not like me, but, how shall I say, I don't know, restored to myself, no, I never left myself, free, yes. I don't know what that means but it's the word I mean to use.

My fingers scrabbled for a purchase on the warm, shower-soaked tiles. I was delirious, I knew I was. He had one hand against my forehead as if he were checking my temperature, pulling my head back so that the arch of my neck nearly suffocated me. I loved to ride that border of consciousness. He knew I did. He obliged me that.

No one else did it like him.

It sometimes happens and will sometimes happen again that I forget who I am and strut before my eyes, like a stranger.

Yukina Ootona sat beside me in geometry. I looked at her briefly. She had slim legs, obvious in her short skirt, a face slightly too round, but carefully applied make-up pushed her several steps on the right side of average. Yes, I made my mind up in moments. She would do.

"Rukawa Kaede," she began, all degrees of authority. "I'm friends with Mika Sonoya and I think you're a god damn prick for dumping her like that. What do you have to say for yourself?"

I looked thoughtfully at her. It was just too easy. I wondered how anyone found this sort of thing hard.

"Endgame," I replied. "The two o'clock matinee... if you're interested," I gave her a critical stare. "You like Beckett, I expect."

To her credit, she at least made some pretext of refusing.

The basketball team met in the union once a month. It was a social event, a chance to talk about something other than basketball for a change.

No one drank too much, not like some of the other teams. Most of us were serious about our sport. Serious enough not to drink heavily. We were, after all, the top university team in Japan. We all had dreams of going pro.

Inui, our mountain of a centre, raised his pint enthusiastically with a roar. "To winning!" he bellowed.

"Winning!" everyone responded heartily. I could almost taste testosterone in my beer.

I caught Sendoh's eye across the table, and he smiled knowingly at me, tipping his head in the direction of the door.

A group of girls had just entered, and were standing back, surveying the dancing crowd, uncertain what to do next. I let my eyes roam over them, trying to pick one out. Across the table, Sendoh was smirking and doing the same. I noticed Mika Sonoya somewhere near the back of the group and I think I might have sighed a little.

Sitting next to me, the reserve point guard, Yu, noticed the direction of my stare and laughed.

"And to the lucky girls!" he announced suddenly, lifting his glass once again. "Who will share our beds tonight!'

The was an outbreak of laughter, and, feeling the attention on me, I turned back with a slight scowl. Sendoh lifted an eyebrow and grinned at me.

Everyone around the table was in high-spirits. They jostled and joked and winked and craned their necks to look at the group of girls and commented despairingly on their excellent but neglected sexual prowess, and how they just didn't know how we did it.

"To our two great playboys," someone shouted in enthusiasm, glass in hand. "May they teach us their remarkable ways!'

"Sendoh and Rukawa!" Inui roared amid the laughter. "Sendoh and Rukawa!" They repeated back, amused until my ears rattled with it. "Sendoh and Rukawa!"

She didn't look quite the same in the morning light. The make-up she'd used to paint her face had smudged, and left traces on my pillow. Yuki, or maybe Suki?

I groaned and rubbed my head. My ears were still buzzing.

Dragging on some clothes, I ran my fingers through my hair. They were trembling slightly. Feeling it, I crawled my way into the bathroom and checked my reflection in the mirror. My face was sallow and dehydrated. There were dark rings under my eyes. I gripped the edge of the sink and stared a moment. Shit, Kaede. I could barely recognize myself.

With automatic movements of long habit, I picked up the pill box from the floor where it had fallen, knocked aside by the empty box of condoms. I threw two in my mouth, and drank straight from the tap. I shuddered slightly, but felt more tolerable almost at once.

I brushed my teeth and scrubbed my face before giving the girl in my bed one last glance. Well it didn't matter now. Last night was over. Now for breakfast.

The union did a good breakfast, and it was there that I went to get my usual morning fix. It was a short walk across campus, manageable even with a hangover, and priced at starving student rates.

He was there already. Unusual. He almost always rose later than me. There was a girl sitting opposite him, but he waved me over so I went to join him, sliding tiredly into the seat beside him. My arm jostled and pressed against his, but he didn't draw back. He never drew back from me.

Across the table from me, Mika Sonoya gave me a satisfied little smirk. Her face was alight with malicious revenge. Let her have her moment of victory, I thought to myself. It would be short lived at any rate.

I nodded my head to her briefly, but it was to Sendoh that I addressed myself.

"What's the special?"

"Tanuki udon," he responded woefully, "same as always."

"Hn."

"How was your night?" he asked, turning his body slightly towards me, discarding Mika Sonoya with that slight turn of his shoulder.

I saw her expression tighten slightly, but I ignored her. Instead, I felt that familiar thrill when his attention was for me and me alone.

"Boring," I replied, ruffling up my flattened hair and yawning unabashedly.

Sendoh smiled, ever so slightly. "Yeah," he said, "I know what you mean."

Neither of us bothered to look at Mika, but I rather imagine that she would have turned her indignant pink - the same way she had done for me only last week, sitting in this same café.

"I finally got the pre-records of the opening season games," I said as the waitress dropped a cup of lukewarm tea on the table in front of me. "Downloaded them yesterday. Want to come round and watch this afternoon?"

My fingers ran lightly around the rim of the cup. I noticed him watching that.

"Sure. I need a nap first, and I've got calculus after lunch, so I'll head round when its over."

"Cool."

"Ah, but, Akira..." Mika Sonoya finally interrupted us. We blinked like we'd forgotten she was there. Unperturbed she snaked her hand across the table to lay on his arm like a lover's. "...don't forget we were just talking about taking that trip to the modernist gallery this afternoon." She smiled her best smile. She really was an exquisite woman.

Sendoh didn't even blink. "Sorry," he lied. "I forgot I already had plans."

Her face turned thundery.

"She kept asking me about you," Sendoh scowled slightly that afternoon as he lifted my shirt up and tugged it over my head. "I should have gone with someone else. I hate when women want revenge sex. Especially yours."

"Why especially mine?" I mumbled, already ducking my head down. I let my tongue slid down the shaft of his erection and felt him shudder. My hands ran gently along the smooth skin of his inner thighs.

He sighed and put his hand in my hair. "I don't like being compared to you," he muttered breathily. "I know exactly how good you are."

I felt a desperate little star-burst of pleasure in my gut. He gave a grunt as I brought my fingers to play lightly around his scrotum, teasing the soft flesh there until he tipped me sideways with a growl and sunk his teeth hungrily into my neck. I groaned and arched my back, parting my legs for him, feeling the familiar sense of deliriousness wafting through my senses like a ribbon in the wind.

Consider: the darkening ease, the brightening trouble; the pleasure pleasure because it was, the pain pain because it shall be; the glad acts grown proud, the proud acts growing stubborn; the panting and trembling towards a being gone, a being to come; and the true true no longer, and the false true not yet.

After showering off after practise, I fished out the pills and threw two back along with a gulp of Poccari.

The locker room was mostly empty, but Yu was watching me from nearby.

"Your hay-fever must be really bad. I can't believe you even have to take medication in Autumn."

I glanced towards him before looking blankly down at the small, brown bottle of pills in my hand. "Yeah," I responded with a frown. "Pollution and stuff sets it off. This Tokyo air just doesn't agree with me."

Yu winced sympathetically. "I bet. Hey, well done in the game today. You walked all over that Kobe team. You're a real god damn demon when you get going. Fifty eight points!" He whistled, impressed. "You're the highest scorer this season, you know."

I stuffed the pills into my jeans and accepted the compliment with a nod. "Thanks, but it's just because Sendoh wasn't playing."

Yu laughed and gave me a friendly thump on the shoulder.

"Don't sell yourself short, man," he admonished gently, "you're everything he is."

I looked him in the eye, and he smiled at me before he left. After that I felt sick. Absent-mindedly I shook out two more tablets. Settle my stomach, I hoped. Stop it churning like a god damn washing machine.

If only I were half what he was.

This place, if I could describe this place, no place around me, there's no end to me, I don't know what it is, it isn't flesh, it doesn't end, it's like air…

Fyu, her name was. A little shorter, and a little rounder, than I usually preferred. She had pink lipstick that shimmered in the lights. It would come off soon enough.

She was wearing a mini skirt that was filled out by tenderly chubby thighs, a short body and thick, soft breasts that had been squeezed into a top that seemed a size too small. Her face was beautiful, her smile like sunshine.

She looked around my small student room, her eyes moving over the mess and discarded papers and assorted basketball trophies and medals which were crammed haphazardly onto a shelf which was too small.

"Oh," she said, "a sportsman, are you?" She turned her head to look at me from the corner of her eye. "Basketball? I always liked football more, myself." Her sly grin was all invitation.

I stared at her blankly for a moment, before shaking my head slightly as if confused.

"Wait a moment," I excused myself, stepping into the tiny annexed bathroom and sweeping her out of sight with the door.

The condoms were sitting next to my toothbrush. I washed my mouth quickly, and threw cold water over my face. Finally I took two pills with a hasty gulp of water and smoothed my hair.

But when I stepped back out again, she had gone.

I stared in astonishment at him, sitting casually on my bed as if he had done nothing wrong.

"Where... where is she?" I stammered slightly.

He gave a quiet, knowing laugh. "Don't tell me you'd rather spend your evening screwing that little fatty than fucking me."

I glared at him, but it wasn't the first time he'd done this. I expected it wouldn't be the last either.

"Well?" he promoted, leaning back on his hands and parting his knees slightly in tease. His face was all laughter.

I closed the distance between us in one long stride, seized him by the shoulders, and didn't wait.

He tilted his head slightly. I could feel his eyelashes against my cheek. Hungrily I reached for his tongue with my own, breathing in sharply through my nostrils as I felt all parts of my body coming to life.

This. Exactly like this.

He pulled me closer to him and I allowed myself to be drawn, my mouth still fused to his, blood heating my skin.

I pushed him down into the sheets and let go of his mouth just long enough to pull my shirt quickly up and over my head. I felt his hands on my body, two palms running over my chest, my sides, my back. I waited, wanting his touch, wanting him to explore me. I gave a quiet whine of pleasure before helping him off with his own shirt, throwing it to a corner of the room before leaning down to kiss him again.

Things were faster now. I fumbled with my belt, kicked off each leg of my jeans impatiently, tore off his. I kissed him like I would die if I didn't.

The condom rolled quickly down over my erection and he smiled up at me, his eyes half-lidded with desire. His thighs were firm on either side of my hips, and I ran my hands up and down them affectionately.

I parted my lips and closed my eyes as I entered him. At once it was as if I had moved into another part of my mind. My nerves became electrified as if he had flicked some kind of switch. I saw things in different colours.

My hands clenched in the sheets as I trust forward into him, grunting with the effort, feeling as if he were laughing at me still.

His body slid back and forth over the sheets with increasing violence, his head nodding to the rhythm of my movements, his hands on my back digging nails into my skin.

I curved my back slightly as if recoiling from the pleasure. It was too much. It was always too much. I would go mad for him.

"Kaede," he called me softly, his warm voice catching me up in such a pleasant well of emotion that I couldn't hold on for a moment longer. My hands became like talons, clinging on for dear life as I threw my head back. My eyes were open, but all I saw was white.

Two last shuddering thrusts, my breath trapped like a bubble in my throat, and the pleasure slowly chimed away leaving me tired, and tingling and satisfied. And perhaps, for a brief moment, I even knew what it meant to feel happy.

I drew softly back, catching my breath, and opened my eyes.

She smiled up at me. That beautiful smile she had. Her face flushed and damp with sweat, her entire body ravaged and open, like a broken door hanging from its hinges.

"Thank you," she muttered breathlessly, "that was amazing."

As I made my way back into the bathroom, I caught sight on her pulling that little miniskirt back on. I threw the exhausted condom away, and reached automatically for that little box of pills.

He who has waited long enough, will wait forever.

"Think fast!" he said, tossing the ball in my direction. I caught it, of course.

I was already dressed for practise. My jersey was plain white, nearly skin tight, over baggy shorts that reached my knees. I set the spare ball under my arm and rolled my sweatband up over my forearm, all ready to play.

Sendoh, as usual, was lagging behind, still dragging his jersey out of his kit bag. I couldn't pull my eyes away. Bare-chested, he was difficult to even keep my fingers off. He saw me looking at him, and licked his lips.

"Want to make a wager?"

I somehow managed to look away from his chest to meet his eyes in query. "What?"

"Most points today gets to be on top."

My eyes immediately flashed around nervously, but there was no one else there. I could hear the rest of the team warming up out in the hall, the regular, hollow echo of balls against the ground. We were safely alone.

I swallowed.

"Let's make it more interesting," I replied. "On top for a week."

He grinned. "You're on."

I thought I could see something in the slight arch of his brow. A predictable, predestined story. His hands in my hair, his hot mouth on my neck. Under the showers, after everyone else had left, celebrating our victories under the hot water spray.

I turned to make my way into the hall, but his next words stopped me

"I can't make it to your place tomorrow by the way. Mika is taking me to see something or other at the theatre."

I froze, one foot still off the ground, my hand on the door. I released the handle and the door swung shut again.

I turned, and I stared at him.

"Mika? Mika Sonoya?"

He nodded as he finally pulled his jersey on. "Yeah, that's it. She's pretty hot, right?"

I must have gaped at him.

"But... but you've had her."

"And?"

I stared at him, and felt a the hole in my gut. This wasn't right. This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen.

"But..." disbelief was written on my face. I couldn't find words to express my distress. This changed everything. "Only once... you said..."

Never bed the same woman twice. That's what you told me, you bastard.

He waved a hand and laughed. "Rules were made for breaking, Kaede."

Then what...

...what have I been doing, all this time?

He breezed right past me. "It's no big deal, seriously, don't worry about it," his face was amused. "And don't forget our wager," he added as he stepped out through the door and left me for dead.

I stood for a second before seating myself, suddenly shaking, on a nearby bench, my heart pounding in my chest like it was trying to break out. Did he really expect me to go out and play? To take a ball in my hand and act like it was nothing, like it didn't matter to me, the same way it had never, ever mattered to him?

All these little lies I don't even have the courage to confess to myself. How would he know? How could he understand how I felt?

All this time, all I had ever wanted to be... was him.

He couldn't change the rules now. Not now. Not like this. It wasn't... it wasn't fair.

I sat and caught my breath for a couple of minutes, unable to bear the idea of walking out of the room. I shook out a couple of pills, and then a couple more. My hands were still shaking. It didn't seem to help. I brought the bottle up to my eye and rattled it. There were only six left. I downed them all and threw the empty bottle in the trash.

Then I went to the court.

I tried to groan, Help! Help! But the tone that came out was that of polite conversation.

My anger and outrage swiftly ebbed away, and left me feeling light. Today I could do impossible things. I could spin more neatly in my small dangerous circles, I could play around my team-mates like easy, bubbling surf. There were wings on my back and elves guiding my ball. I wanted to laugh. To cry. A very cold, and meaningless madness. The way my feet danced, the ball sailed, shimmering. Basketball. This thing. Eternal joy and endless torment.

This place in which I both found, and forgot him.

The whistle blew like a foghorn.

"Five on five!" The coach barked as everyone immediately scattered. "Four, ten, eleven, fifteen and twenty blue! Five, six, seven, nine, seventeen red! Rukawa!" His eyes went directly to me, and I paused halfway through another lightning break down the length of the court. "Bench!"

"Is something wrong?" The coach asked me in a quieter voice as I dropped unsteadily onto the seat next to him. "You look a little flushed." His eager face was creased with concern as he looked into mine. My eyes kept slipping past him to see my demon taking his place on the court, his easy strides, flexible strength, sharp eyes. Leopard. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end.

I lifted my hand to my face. My arm felt removed and cold, trembling slightly. I wiped my brow, and my hand came away drenched in sweat. I stared at it blankly, and swayed slightly in my seat.

I suddenly felt intolerably thirsty.

Somewhere far away the whistle blew, familiar shouts echoed, a game in which I had no part commenced.

I blinked, and all at once I heard shouting. I tried to see where it was coming from, but I couldn't make it out.

"Fetch the doctor!" Someone was calling close by. "Phone an ambulance!"

Someone was hurt? I blinked dazedly, unable to understand what I was looking at. There seemed to be some kind of line across the centre of my vision. I struggled to focus on it, and it was only when a blurred foot appeared that I realised it was the floor, and that I had fallen forwards from the bench, and that my cheek was pressed against the warm wood.

A hand rubbed my back, lifted my shoulder, wiped away the blood that had come from my nose. Then I blinked, and forgot everything. Even him. Yes, for a few blessed moments, I forgot even him.

Fill in the holes of words till all is blank and flat and the whole ghastly business looks like what is, senseless, speechless, issueless misery.

I was aware of him being there. It was the first time I ever thought of him as being stable. It was the first time he had stopped, and turned to face me, to see me, lagging behind him, instead of running on ahead without me.

An unscheduled pause in the race.

I didn't like to be weak, but I didn't mind his stare. I wondered many things. I wondered but it was hard to think straight. I think I wanted to explain myself.

I tried to haul my way back to consciousness. It was a struggle, but I was ambitious. Things seemed different from here. I would talk, and he would listen. In my dreams my tongue didn't flop and stammer and choke me as I tried to put it all into words. I didn't hack out syllables like stubborn phlegm. I would be articulate. It would be easy to explain to him how I felt, no matter if I didn't understand it myself.

The murk of my sleep was heavy, and warm, and comfortable, and safe, but I wasn't sleepy any more.

I imagined his face. I didn't hold with romantic notions, but for some inexplicable reason I wanted... that moment.

My hand must have stirred, my eyelids fluttered, but there remained only blackness around me. I tried to reach out with my arms, but they wouldn't move. I panicked then. I thrashed like I was trying to escape from a net, my eyes open and sightless in fear. But even as I twisted my neck to escape my binds, things began to appear around me.

A hospital room. The darkness. The ominous shape of an old fashioned, boxy TV set loomed from one corner of the ceiling. A vague suggestion of light crept around the edges of the door. I listened. Between the regular emissions of my heart monitor, the room was filled with an eerie silence.

I became aware of myself. How my body had become uncomfortably twisted in the sheets. A drip attached to my arm had somehow become entangled.

I gave the room one last look, as if he might be hiding somewhere among the shadows, but I was alone. My breath rattled unsteadily in my chest.

Then I reached across myself and jabbed several times at the call button.

We drove in silence. My eyes slid over the passing city unseeing. The Tokyo traffic was always bad, and I knew he didn't like to cross the city at the best of times. Now, the silence between us felt heavy like grave soil.

It wasn't until the lights at Shinoya Crossing that he said "So."

He tapped his index finger twice on the steering wheel. I looked away from the window towards him, but he didn't look towards me.

"The doctor told me those tablets you always take are called Celexa."

It wasn't a question, but I nodded my head in answer anyway. I don't think he saw it, though.

"I looked them up," he stated. My face flushed slightly in shame. He didn't look away from the road, "they're anti-depressants." I cringed a little to myself. "You overdosed."

At my apartment he opened the door for me like I were someone different. I stared at him, so he shrugged and stepped through it himself first. I followed. I always followed.

My room looked almost the same as I had left it, four days before. A little bit untidier perhaps. The closet door was swinging open since Sendoh had come round to collect clothes for me. His habit of leaving doors open coincided with the nature of all his other habits.

I set my small bag down on my desk and sat on the bed. He hesitated, and then joined me. His arm wound around my waist. He drew me against him comfortingly, and for the first time since he'd arrived to pick me up, I breathed.

But they were only 'if onlys', though I was sure my soul was filled with them. Filled to the brim.

He leaned over, turning my face to meet his breath before he kissed me, heavy and inelegant. He fumbled against my lips with his own as if he didn't know what he was doing. As if he were some other person too.

I turned my head slightly, and his natural ease seemed to return, momentarily, before he pulled back. His eyes were wide.

"Do you hate this?"

I stared at him, and said nothing.

"I thought you didn't mind. I thought..." he frowned. "...I guess I didn't think."

A shadow of a smile, albeit an ironic one. I couldn't keep it off my face.

He stared at me like I had offended him somehow.

"Do you hate me?" And his voice seemed so much smaller.

I shook my head. He was my best friend. Only friend. How could I hate him? How could one hate ones hero? How could one hate ones god?

He pushed me back and held me down. There was something in his eyes I hadn't seen before. Nervousness. Seriousness. He wasn't himself. In that moment I saw his burdens. Realised that his wings were neither as broad nor as limitless as I had believed. Saw that he was scared, just as I was scared. Knew that he'd taken a step closer to me.

"Why didn't you tell me?" That was it - his fear. "Why didn't you say something? I would have... I could have..." his voice failed him. Of course he didn't know. What would he have done, if I had told him? Wouldn't he have run from me? Someone as light and as free as he?

What was more miserable, more pathetic, than depression? What disease showed weakness more clearly than a malfunction of the mind? Cancer, diabetes, all the names of those great debilitates rang with strength and nobility. Suffers could be admired, respected for their pain. What complaint could I boost, compared to that? Depression. The word itself sounded wet and loose and sad. Depression. Hardly a real disease – there was no bacteria, no virus, no outside cause, just selfish self-infliction and attentions-sought. Depression. I was probably just imagining it. Just feeling sad.

I marshalled the words and opened my mouth, thinking I would hear them. But all I heard was a kind of rattle, unintelligible even to me who knew what was intended.

His hands were in my hair, pulling at me gently, his body warm and heavy over mine.

What could I say? My chest was tight and painful, my breath like sand in my throat. My body ached like it had never done before. He filled me and emptied me. His touch was sweet and painful.

I loved the look of his face, his eyes closed, his muscles tight, knowing that I was causing that expression, but feeling myself sapped of every part of myself in doing so. How many times would I tear up my soul for him? How many times would he leave me empty-handed in the end.

He had never needed to hang onto anything before, but how I wished, how desperately I wished he would cling to me. To need me, just a little bit. To think that I meant something – just a little something – more to him than all those girls did.

How long would I have to pretend?

He caught my chin, but as he bent, opened mouthed, to kiss me, suddenly there were words. Secrets. Suddenly I knew something.

"I don't..." I said, and he drew back and looked at me. I shook my head emphatically. "I don't like girls."

His expression blanked. His body stilled, still fused to mine, but motionless. Confused. I held my breath as he looked at me.

"Is that... all?"

I swallowed.

"I like boys," I clarified, in case he hadn't quite understood.

His eyes widened in surprise. "Kaede... I know. I mean... look at us."

My eyes trailed downwards, following the line of his bare chest, down to the muscles of his hip where my own, curled and equally naked body started. I frowned. "But you... you like girls."

He sighed. He lowered himself gently until his chest was pressed against mine. "Sure I do..." he said, a little quietly, "...though recently..." his large hands ran tenderly along my sides, "...maybe not so much."

He turned his head to look at me. "Is that what bothers you?"

I shook my head and stared at the white ceiling. "I don't know."

"Kaede, if you don't like girls, don't go with girls."

"But you..." Whatever you do, I want to do too. Whoever you are, I want to be.

He laughed. He always laughed at me. I always failed, always misunderstood. My face twisted into unhappiness. How could I be something I couldn't even understand?

"Are you saying you want me to sleep only with you?"

I pushed him away and felt appalled. "No, of course not, I..." A ridiculous thought. If he slept only with me, he'd be someone else. I didn't feel this way for someone else. Only him, as he was, what he was, exactly. I wasn't a girl who dreamt of being the one. I didn't want him to change. My demons were precisely that – my own. Change was for myself, not for him.

His eyes were warm. "Well listen, just make sure you never fuck the same guy twice," he said, a little sternly, a little playfully. "Except for me. I'll feel jealous otherwise, and there's no telling what I might do then. You're my best and my favourite, after all."

His warm tongue made its way up my neck from collar to jaw and I shuddered. "One day, let's get married."

I pushed him away and he grinned at me, his eyes holding mine. He was laughing still. But it was the kind of laugh he kept only for me.

"You're serious," I breathed.

"Of course. You're the only one."

"One day?"

"Yes."

"But not yet."

"Not yet."

I stared into his eyes and saw only his smile and himself.

"Okay," I agreed.

He kissed me then, and I hoped he felt like he was kissing me. Hoped that I had a flavour he could discern amid all my uncertainties. Came to realise, suddenly, that maybe, somehow, impossibly, he had known me, and seen me – though I had never known myself – from the start. And I felt, perhaps, just a little bit warmer, for that.

In wasn't until the morning that I realised the compulsion to reach for the pill bottle was inexplicably absent. I set it on the sink, looked at it carefully, but brushed my teeth without opening it.

Sendoh grinned at me when I stepped out of the bathroom. "Beckett today with Mika – wanna come?"

The fact is, it seems, that the most you can hope is to be a little less, in the end, the creature you were in the beginning, and the middle.

"Hn."

~the end.


AN: I really can't write "nice" fics. I tried to have a semi-romantic drama with a soppy ending, and look what happened. I can't even describe what this ended up as. Oh well. Even if the whole thing is a pile of crap, at least there are Beckett quotes, which nearly makes up for everything else.

"All I say cancels out, I'll have said nothing." (Beckett, The Calmative 1946)

(Yes, I'm still working on Thine Own – sorry for the delay but first January got me, and then February swiftly followed)