"A Sense of Himself"
by Darkfrozenmind


a Kaoru (of Dir En Grey) fanfiction
no copyright infringement intended.

For Razzy-sama, Yuan-nee, NM-chan and Kako-chan

Note: This is a fictional take on Die and Kaoru's friendship, some accurate, some blown out of context, I took the liberty of changing some things and such.  Kaoru's my favorite DEG member, he's my hero and shall thus be glorified at one point in this story  XD

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Chapter 4:  the Stranger that stole his heart

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There was no face, no smile to paint the mirror before him.  The reflection was blurred, from steam, from splashes of tiny drops neglected as he continuously  washed his face.  Water always woke up the senses.

Die was ready to wake up from the nightmare.

With a shallow breath he grabbed a paper towel and started wiping his damp face.  The rough surface of the paper seeming to bite his raw skin.  But he didn't mind, there was pain, it means that he was awake, he was ready to step inside that room again, and face Kaoru, he was ready to forgive and forget what Kaoru said upon laying his eyes on him.

Who are you?

And die felt like something inside him died right there and then.  How could Kaoru say that, how could he not reconcile the face, the name and the body.  He felt as though the ground beneath him suddenly disappeared and he was speechless.  He needed Kaoru's assurance that everything was going-to-go-back-to-normal.

But how could Kaoru do that?

It hurt so much.

My name...it's Die...Kaoru? It's me?

The face of his friend forlorn in concentration, trying to decipher if what he was telling was the truth.  Kaoru's eyes had wandered from his parents to the other three Dir En Grey members, and each time his eyes would lock with them, that spark of recognition illuminated his features, but when his best friend's eyes laid upon him...there was nothing but searching in them...searching for a reason why he was there...searching for a definition of who he was.

Fate was playing a very cruel game.  It was using Kaoru to break him.  And that was all it took to do so.

I'm s-sorry, but, I believe th-this is the first time...

He cut Kaoru off.

You're lying!  Kaoru! stop joking around, it's me...

He felt the tears sting, when Kaoru's wounded face darkened with questions...everything was real.

K-Kaoru..this is where you say 'Hahaha the joke's on you Die...' Kaoru, please tell me this is a joke...

He felt his body go rigid, Kaoru seemed so far away now...farther than he had ever been.  Die heard Toshiya whisper something close to sympathy, but he didn't care, he just wanted to hear Kaoru say that he knew him...that he was Die his best friend in this whole wide world.  Die felt the soft touch of Kaoru's mother on his arm, and the reassuring hold of Mr. Niikura on his shoulder.

Die, he just woke up, a little disoriented, we'll sort this out in the morning, don't worry son.

The warmth of those words from Kaoru's father was soothing and he quietly bowed his head and nodded.  But he was cynical, that fear would never go.  Of all the people that Kaoru would forget...why...why him?

Kaoru felt tired after a few minutes, his face heavy, the metal plate distorting his lovely features, his brow styled in a concerned manner...as if he was telling himself to remember...but his body wasn't ready for the strain and soon he had started to fall asleep, and his parents requested privacy, asking them to wait in the lounge area...all of them except Die, even if Kaoru could not remember his parents did, and that mattered a lot.  before Kaoru fell asleep completely, his mother smiled and reassured him that Die was going to be there, and that presence was something good.

Kaoru consented, but Die could not shake off the shadow of uncertainty that crossed Kaoru's face.  As soon as Kaoru fell asleep, Die quietly slipped out the door, his lungs lacking air, he wanted to scream, he wanted to vomit, he wanted to cry...and the safest place he could run to was the bathroom, he could wail and weep...but everything hung so sourly in the air, he could only hope that tomorrow would be better...that Kaoru would remember.

*****

Die came out of the bathroom with his face a pale sheet of blank.  his hair was tied in a pony tail and his lips pursed in a straight line as he headed for that window...that window at the end of the hall.  He wanted to look out the city and just cast his thoughts into the darkening skies, set them free, never to return to him.

"Who's the stranger now?"

That voice was unexpected, and he neither acknowledged it or turned around to see who the voice belonged to.  he already knew.  But he didn't have the strength to fight anymore.  Kaoru was awake, he let his defenses down.  he did his part.

"Shinya, please just stop..."

It was a quiet interruption from a third party.  Die had identified as Toshiya's.  The younger man complied and Die heard steps walking away from where he stood...he continued walking in the opposite direction, at some point they would face each other again and they would run around the same argument.  But tonight, everything settled in silence.

Kaoru was awake.  That was the most important thing for him.  Never mind his pain.

"I'm the stranger now." he whispered to himself, clutching the hem of his jacket, 

Kaoru, please don't forget me.

 

*****

 

"Haku-chaaaaan, come over today, Kaoru woke up last night!!!!"

"Really?!  That's so good to hear...uh, lemme just take a shower and get dressed I'll be over in no time..."

"Okay!...but I wish I could take that shower with you..."

"I wish you were here with me..."

"hurry up then, I can't wait..."

*a soft click*

Toshiya had that dreamy look on his face.

"You sound like you're meeting Hakuei in a motel."

Toshiya had the look of murder on his face.

"Who asked you Kyo."

"No one, eh, but that doesn't change the fact."

"Shuddup!"

"Hehe, you shuddup, you are a hopeless flirt Toshiya!"

Toshiya laughed at that.  And Kyo continued.

"You and Hakuei are soooo right for each other, heh, I think Kaoru saw that, I guess that's why he was cool with the break up, ne?"

Toshiya stiffened at the statement.  There were other reasons for that break up, deeper than what he could share with Kyo, a deeper reason of why he paid any attention to Hakuei in the first place.  Kyo looked at Toshiya, never really acknowledging how much his words had stung the bassist.

"Toshiya!"

Toshiya snapped out of his dark thoughts.  He managed a really big smile.

"I know Kyo!  Kaoru saw that, it was so nice of him to give way and not make a fuss out of it."

"Hai."  Kyo nodded, totally missing the gloom that shadowed Toshiya's face for an instant.

Everything went silent after that.  And as if some magnetic force was pulling their eyes to lok up and wander to a similar direction...even Shinya who was quiet the whole time looked up...down at the end of the hall, Die's forehead was pressed against the cold glass, still looking out the city, even if morning had settled and erased the darkness.  His shoulders were heaving...they felt helpless.

There was nothing they could do.

If there was anyone who could ease the redhead's pain, it was Kaoru.

*****

Kaoru woke up to Die placing the tray on the service table, that was to be his breakfast.  Kaoru shyly looked up and thanked him.  Die smiled, and told him it was nothing.  

"I was on my way inside he room when she came, I told her I'd be the one to give you your food."

"That's kind of you."

"That's my job remember? You pay the rent, I get us food."

"remember..."

"I-I-I'm sorry, uh, don't think about it Kaoru, go on now eat."

Mrs. Niikura had heard the conversation, she squeezed Die's elbow softly and gave him a smile.

"A doctor will be coming in later to check on Kaoru and give an assessment.  be hopeful son."

And she pulled Die to her and hugged him as if he were her own.

Kaoru blinked and upon catching Die's eyes he smiled...but it wasn't a sure smile...it was short of bewildered.

*****

"hey"  it was low whisper coming from a sensual mouth.  A mass of blonde hair gracefully hanged from his slender shoulders as he peeked inside the hospital room.

"Hakuei!"  Toshiya shrieked excitedly.

Die raised his eyes from the magazine he was reading, seated  on the arm chair nearest Kaoru's bed.  He barely acknowledged Hakuei's presence, nodding briefly before starting to read again.  Hakuei smiled, at Kaoru's parents, patted Shinya's arm and greeted Kyo dearly, they were friends.

When his gaze finally landed at the resting Kaoru, his look softened and his heart seemed to stop...the man on the bed didn't look like the Kaoru he knew, the man who lay there was torn, not like the one he met who was self possessed and confident.  It was a surprising blow...and he wondered if it was really Kaoru underneath that damaged shell.

"Hakuei, have you been taking care of Toshiya?"

Hakuei smiled.

Yes, it was Kaoru alright.  And he reached out and hugged Kaoru lightly, happy that he was awake, finally.

"Of course, Kaoru, like I promised."

Die couldn't take this anymore, he had heard everything...he had taken all he could and he was tired...Kaoru remembered Hakuei, but not him???? That was cruel.  He angrily discarded the magazine on the floor and hurriedly stood up and went out of the room, leaving a surprised Hakuei chasing him with a wary look.

Hakuei took note of Kaoru's forlorn  expression, as if he was guillty, sorry for something...

"Uhh, did I just do something wrong?"

It was Toshiya who took the initiative to answer.

"The doctor who came in here a while ago said that Kaoru may be suffering from selective memory loss, he hasn't forgotten everything, just certain aspects of who he is and a portion of his past...they're still going to run tests, but so far what Kaoru's shown are signs that confirm their suspicions...the doctor assured us that it isn't permanent, but the legth of time is indefinite...some cases take years..."

"My god..."

"Kaoru remembers us, but not Die...I don't think Die taking it lightly...Kaoru knows he plays guitar but when shown he had forgotten the dynamics of playing...but that's no big problem...the doctor said that guitar-playing is a skill and can be re-learned, once Kaoru gets the hang of it it'll slowly comeback to him....he doesn't remember Kyo to be the vocalist, but he remembers Kyo to be the *sleepy head* of the band..."

Toshiya smiled sadly.

Hakuei hugged his beloved.  

"It's all well and good, love.  he's alive isn't he?  that's all that matters."

"But it may take a while for Kao to remember Die, he has zero memories of him, as if Die was someone absolutely new in his life...Haku-chan...I don't think Die can take that..."

He whispered lovingly into Hakuei's ear.

Kaoru was lost, that person...walking out, angered by his insolence...who was he?  why was he troubled at the thought of having upset him....he felt as if he was being force fed with this reality of having to accept the redhead, when in fact he didn't know him, he didn't!  Why was he affected?  Why did he feel like apologizing over and over for not remembering?  So many tiring questions...he closed his eyes... he wanted to rest.   

As Kaoru's blanket was adjusted and fixed by Kyo and Kaoru's father, Toshiya sat beside Kaoru's mother, smiling at her with sincerity.  She smiled back and  then she sighed sadly...

"I'm afraid of how this affects Daisuke."

"Me too, M'am."

"Die saved Kaoru's life not long ago.  That's how strong their bond is, I'm afraid that with Kaoru's amnesia...the circumstance may break Die."

"He's strong Mrs. Niikura, have faith in Die."

The elder smiled and nodded.

"Hai, I just feel for the boy...he has given up everything for Kaoru, and this situation is unfair to him...this is the ultimate test on their friendship, I think."

Toshiya only nodded.  Yes, he knew ho strong and deep the bonds between Kaoru and Die went.  So deep that it pushed him away.  Kaoru would always compare him to Die before, when they were together.  Kaoru had him in his arms, butKaoru also had Die in a pedestal.  He felt that he had been living with Die's ghost and his reputation...Toshiya wasn't built to withstand such a situation, so he looked for love, absolute love.  Then he met Hakuei.  It had hurt to confront Kaoru, to see his tears, but afterwards, Kaoru gave way and was objective with the break up, even becoming friends with Hakuei.

Somewhere in that whole scenario, Toshiya was still hurt.  It hurt to see that look of peace in Kaoru's face, as if he had complete control and had gotten over things quickly.  That might have been the case.  Kaoru wasn't miserable or lonely, like normal break ups would have it...somewhere inside Kaoru, even if the last look he saw on his face was sadness...the bassist knew that Kaoru would get over him, would be brave enough to face the world without him...simply because he had Die.  His best friend, someone who would save him from the fall.

He had often wondered whether Kaoru was in love with Die without knowing it...he often wondered if Die was in love  with Kaoru without knowing it...

*****

Somewhere between Toshiya and Mrs. Niikura's conversation, hakuei slipped out to the hall, with the intention of finding Die.  He wasn't sure of what happened yesterday or how Die really felt about the whole thing now...but he figured that he might want someone to talk to.

He found Die sitting on a garden chair set on the veranda at the third floor terrace of the hospital, he was smoking.  Hakuei armed himself with his ost charming smile and  greeted Die, asking if he could get a light.  Die flipped open his Zippo lighter and lit the waiting stick.  Hakuei bowed briefly and took a seat across Die, a glass table dividing them.

"It's wonderful to see Kaoru out of that coma, isn't it?"

"Hai."

"You don't sound too happy, Die...I'm talking about your best friend here!"

"Am I still his best friend?"

"Die...some on, things like these aren't permanent, it may take time, but he'll remember, you two go way back ...tooomuch history to forget..."

"but he's already forgotten, Hakuei, are you daft?"

"He hasn't Die, Forgotten is an intentional act, Kaoru simply can't remember, but it's somewhere inside him...you'll see, something familiar for the two of you will bring him back, it'll trigger something inside him so he'll remember...don't lose hope Die."

"It just feels unfair, you know...I feel like I've lost him before and I'm completely losing him now."

"It's all a matter of time, Die.  Patience is the keyword"

"wow Hakuei, that's so insightful."

"heh, I was watching Oprah last night."

They both looked away and in a matter of seconds both began laughing.

"god, Hakuei I never thought you were the type to watch Oprah"

"Geez, Die I never thought you were such a mother hen when it comes to Kaoru..."

And the silence returned.

"I feel cheated by time, Hakuei."

"How come?"

"First it lets me met this awesome guy that completely changes my life...and I give up everything to be with him and he changes into someone i barely know...then I wake up and he's almost atken away from me for good."

"You two have been friends for so long haven't you?"

"yeah...close to fourteen years."

"wow."

"yeah...he changed my fate when he totally pulled me out of Kendo and made me learn how to play the guitar."

"it'd be safe to say that you're Kaoru's prodigy."

"No...I'm Kaoru's friend."

"It'd be nice to have someone as dedicated as you to have as a friend."

Die smiled, thankful.

"We used to live in this little room in our hometown.  Back then our world was so small.  So simple.  So happy..."

"But Kaoru wanted more?"

Die nodded, yes, it was Kaoru's big dream that propelled them into getting the band into gear.  It was Kaoru's determination that drove them to arrive at that pivotal step in fulfilling his dreams.

"Kaoru dreamed big....a rock and roll band, a critically acclaimed album...international success...and he was determined enough that he got all of it..."

"How about you Die?  What was your dream?  What did you want for yourself?"

"I always knew that whatever made Kaoru happy, made me happy,  that's all I ever wanted really...for him to be happy."

"That's mighty selfless of you."

"what can i say...I'm a saint."

"Toshiya told me once you saved Kaoru's life, you kept him in hospital or something..."

Die winced at the memory...

"How'd he know about that...?"

"Kaoru."

Die smiled.

"I did what I had to do...and that was to keep him alive...we're friends after all."

"sounds like you love Kaoru a whole lot."

"Of course I do he's my best friend for 14 long and trying years..."

Hakuei knew he was overstepping himself, but the urge to ask was too great...it was the pious dedication that silenced the bitter tongue, Hakuei admired the dedication and faith of the person in front of him...if Mrs. Niikura's words were true, that this was the ultimate test of Die and Kaoru's friendship, then there had to be nothing buth truth this moment on...any lie could shatter it completely...

Hakuei breathed in asked in a low but serious tone...

"And in that time frame- 14 long and trying years, when did you stop loving him..."

Die answered incredilously...

"Never...not once did I stop loving him."

Hakuei smiled sadly

"I wasn't finished, Die...when did you stop loving him as a friend...."

Die's gaze became nervous and epectant...as if what Hakuei was about to say was a secret being exposed, a lesson being learned...he pursed his lips closed in a tight line. Hakuei continued.

"...and started loving him as someone who would mean so much more than a friend."

Die's eyes panicked in silence...no, there was nothing romantic between him and Kaoru, he had never thought about Kaoru in such a way, and he was sure as hell that it went the same way with Kao...it was all platonic, brotherly...or maybe he just didn't define it that way, didn't read the signs carefully, maybe he ignored it

/why am i getting so nervous? Kao's my best freind...nothing more...nothing more...nothing...n-...i'm a liar/

...god, he didn't want to talk about it...

"I-I don't know what you're talking about Hakuei, I'm sorry I'm really tired."

Die got up and walked away, leaving the blonde sitting calmly as the wind picked up and ruffled his silky tresses.

"Of course you don't, Die.  Of course you don't." 

Hakuei whispered quietly after the guitarist, a sentiment Die heard even from a distance as if the wind carried it for him, but didn't respond to.  die tried drowning those words, by singing to himself - yes something happy....happy...a few words that meant so much...he'd have to sing that all night just to keep sane.

"don't you think ? I wanna be with you
be here always
nobody knows what tomorrow brings,
so hold me tightly darling...."


 

(tbc)

*song used "Gibusu" by Shiina Ringo


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to be continued

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