by Niimura Takehiko

Part 4

Die hasn’t come for two days. The first day, Kaoru and
Toshiya turned up late, Shinya was pissed. It’s so
obvious what their delay was, Toshiya smiling and
kissing Kaoru as they walk in through the door.
Toshiya wants the world to know he was late because he
was screwing Kaoru, and Kaoru, he just pretends that
we don’t know, ignores any comments, tells us to get
on with the practice, that we’ve already wasted enough
time, as though he wasn’t the one who was late. I
never would have imagined Kaoru to be late. But it’s
happening more and more often. And I lie here in the
studio, on my ever-present pillow, Shinya, halfway
dreaming in the morning light. Nothing, no one much to
watch, just Shinya blowing the hair out of his eyes
when he gets annoyed at being made to wait for so
long. Sometimes it feels like I don’t really exist
when I’m lying there, breathing in and out, heart
pumping blood around my body, but the air feels thick,
and my body is not really me, its this strange shell,
like an ugly insect casing.

An ugly insect’s shell.... This morning, they are late
again, leaving the two of us waiting again on the
couch; I felt fingers, softly, ghosting through my
hair, so lightly you would barely know they moved,
that they touched this insect’s suit of armour. His
face was lost to me, out of reach to my eyes, but I
wish that I could have seen what he looked like
then... what feeling motivated his hand to move like

Kaoru is plugging his guitar in, setting up his amp,
looking around for Die it would seem. There’s a crease
between his brows, the bandleader worrying about his
missing guitarist? He seems to feel my eyes on him; he
looks up, straight at me.

“Die phoned me, he said he might not come in today...
he’s not feeling well.” As he speaks he looks back to
the guitar, one hand fidgeting with the volume knob.

Anticipating the question half formed on my lips. But
it’s replaced now by new questions.

“Is he ok? Maybe I should go and see him later...”

Kaoru’s head jerks up at those words a look of panic,
no, of pure terror flashing across his face for one
instant, “NO! I... I mean, he’s really fine, he said
it’s just a cold.... I mean there’s really no need to
go and visit him.... He said he’ll be back
tomorrow...” He’s standing up, walking over to
Toshiya, face and voice back under control.

“Are you sure?”

He turns back to me, looking annoyed now. “Of course
I’m sure.”

Weird. Does he really think I missed that little slip?
I’m definitely going to visit Die after practice, but
it might be better if Kaoru doesn’t know that.



Is that my name? Is *he* calling me? My head’s all
fuzzy... Why don’t they shut up? Go away?
I open my eyes, slowly; every little movement makes my
head feel like a herd of elephants are waltzing inside
my skull. Why am I in the bathroom, lying on the
bathroom floor? I put my arm out, grasp the edge of
the bath, pull myself into a sitting position with a
shaking arm, and view my surroundings. Red-brown, like
rusty brown leaves in autumn, drops of it, streaks,
little pools of brown staining the white tiles. To my
eyes it seems the whole world has been dyed that
colour, but it’s really not that much I suppose. The
knife lying there on the tiles, on the other side of a
dried smear of the red stuff, just out of reach. A
trail of footprints from the door, empty bottles, one
broken bottle, little splinters of glass on the
floor... the sting of scratches as I move, and I look
at my arm, the inside of my wrist as it clings to the
edge of the bath like a drowning man desperately
hanging onto a lifeline.

What happened to me?

A line of scratches up my arm, most of them nothing. I
can’t even do that properly. One or two deeper, red
blood leaking out, creating new tracks down my arm
from broken scabs. The sight of the red ribbons
trailing towards my elbow, almost beautiful, distracts

The bathroom door is open, I can nearly see the bed,
but my eyes shy away from that of their own accord,
back to the pretty sight of the blood. I’m leaning
forward, mouth open, tongue slipping out to taste the
blood, but I stop myself before my mouth reaches my
arm, that voice intruding into my state of awareness
again, but it’s louder this time.

Who is that?

Suddenly, the doorway is darkened, and I can’t help
myself, I shy away, into the corner by the bath, into
a ball, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

Why won’t they just leave me alone? But although my
eyelids are squeezed together so hard it hurts, I can
feel the other person getting closer, hear their
breath, their soft footsteps in the silence. The sound
of my own breaths increasing, becoming ragged, I can
_feel_ the other’s presence, what do they want from
me? Biting my lip to keep from screaming out, I have
to keep this inside, can’t let him see what he’s done
to me. I never want him to see me like this, unclean,
I’m so unworthy; and if I see him like this, he’ll be
stained forever with my blood. I can’t remember, I
can’t, I won’t, never!


The sight of this big man lying broken on the bathroom
floor, the smears of red almost matching his hair in
places, it’s as though someone were colour
coordinating the whole scene. I step over the broken
glass gingerly, halting when he shies away, curling up
as small as he can, trying to disappear. He’s fighting
something, his face contorted as he lies there, I’m
lost, I don’t know how to deal with this; but I have
to, I’m not as lost as he is. I want to cry, I want to
go and kill whoever could do this to my friend, who
could take Die, the eternal joker, the man with a
smile for everyone, and turn him into this, this
broken shadow, more of a frightened child than a man.
He whimpers, biting his lip, tears glistening in his
lashes, on the brink of falling, sliding down his
face, leaving those deceptively beautiful trails on
his cheeks. My legs moving towards him of their own
violation, my hand coming up to touch him, comfort
him. But it has the opposite effect, he backs away,
further into the corner, pressed up hard against the
wall now, shaking. His tears leaking past the still
shut eyelids, past his eyelashes, as he opens his
mouth and speaks, but he’s not talking to me, he
addresses his demons, the one who did this. He’s not
aware of me, not really, not enough to know who it is;
only one existence looming large in his mind now, and
I would give anything to know who it is.

He is my friend, and he is suffering, and I want to
take it away.

He is shaking with the effort, trying to hold the sobs
back, but they are breaking free anyway in great
explosions of breath distorting his words as they
fall, whispering past his lips. I’m straining to hear
what he’s trying to say.
“…Please, don’t…*hiccough*  look at me…” he shakes his
head. “Please, I don’t think I can bear it, not for
*you* to… see…”

He bites his lip again, one hand scrubbing at his
face, smearing the tear tracks with blood. Suddenly
curling up again, he screams “Don’t make me look at
He can’t force any further words past his lips, only
the sound of him crying echoing off the tiled walls.
But he’s struggling to get them out, these words, his
voice dropping back to a whisper, but steadier “Just
leave me alone for awhile, if I see you now…” his
voice cracks, but he gets it under control to finish
the sentence. “I don’t want to see you like that…”
Pleading with someone who isn’t even here, “I can’t
bear for you to…”

I’m frozen, half-crouching on the bathroom floor, I
don’t know what to do to fix this, I don’t think I
even can.  But I have to try something….

I’m sitting on the floor now, my hands in my lap, I’ll
sit on them if I have to, rather than doing something
stupid like reaching out to him again. He’s stopped
whispering, silent, face still screwed up.

“Die…” I clear my throat, mouth dry, “Die, its Kyo.
Can you hear me?”

No response, but then I’m not really expecting one,
locked as he is in his own world right now. “Die, it’s
just Kyo. Please…” Please what? I stop, lost for
words. Please tell me what’s wrong? Please tell me who
did this? Look at me? Let me go and kill who did this
to you? I don’t know what I want to say. What can I
say that will make it better?


His face turns to me, uncertain, “Kyo?” my name so
faint it’s barely even a whisper.

“Die, what happened to you?”

He looks miserable, “I’m not sure, I can’t really
remember, but… No! I can’t remember!” Shaking his head
violently.  I think he’s going to start crying again.

“Shhh, it’s ok, you don’t have to talk about it…” I
creep closer to him, and this time he doesn’t run
away, he lets me put my hand out, resting on his
shoulder. “Do you think you can get up?” I have to get
him out of this room with its faint smell of blood,
the feeling of terror. For my sake as well as his.
Somehow, drenching myself in fake blood for a live
just doesn’t have this same nauseating feeling to it,
the smell of my own blood just doesn’t leave the same
sickening feeling in my stomach. He sits up, his eyes
are still shut through all of this, he won’t look at
me, refusing to look at anything, but as he sits up he
turns to me. He’s much bigger than me physically, but
he seems so small, like I could pick him up in one
hand, crush the life out of him without any effort,
and I find my arms reaching out to hold him. And he
lets me, drawing comfort now from the human touch, his
face buried between my shoulder and neck, hiding still
from the world.

I’m holding him, in the bloody bathroom for sometime,
but my legs are going to sleep, I have to move. I
can’t stand being in this room anymore. I think he’s
just blocking everything out; how else could he stand
it? It must be worse for him than me.

“Die, can you get up?” He nods his face against my
shoulder, red hair brushing my throat; it almost

I stand up, helping him stand; _his_ legs are as
wobbly as a newborn foal.


He’s sitting in the lounge, or rather, lying, out of
it, I made him take a sleeping pill. And I’m leaning
against the inside of his bedroom door, facing the
task of cleaning all of this up. There’s no way he can
face this. The anger wells up in my again, why should
he have to face any of this? And underneath that, I’m
confused; why would Die let someone do this to him?
He’s not so weak, surely he could have stopped
someone… It doesn’t make sense to me anyway that I
look at it, puzzling it at from as many angles as I
can, but it just doesn’t add up.

I wake up to Kyo’s worried face; he’s sitting across
from me staring at me intently, frowning, lost in his


He jumps, startled. “Die! You’re awake. How do you

I look at him, what is he talking about? “What are you
doing here Kyo?” I move, trying to sit up, but it
hurts; my arms sting, my insides raw, I lie back do
“What happened to me?”

Kyo’s beside me now, kneeling on the floor, “I don’t
know. I was hoping you could tell me…. I just came
here and found you like this.”

Images in my mind, Kaoru’s face, the sheets of my bed,
Kaoru’s deep voice saying the word mine, the clinking
of metal against metal, glass breaking, red on white,
it’s whirling, fast, faster in my head, a blur and I
can’t sort it out. My hands come up, clutching at my
head.  I don’t want to remember.
Kyo’s voice breaks through my confusion. “Die, its

He reaches up to my hands, brining them down away from
my face, I can tell he wants to ask me, wants to find
out what’s wrong, but I can’t tell him. I can’t even
think about it myself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen
Kyo this awake or this worried. I’ve never seen this
side of him, I mean we all know we care about each
other, we’re friends, but we don’t usually go around
making great displays of affection. I grimace, well,
except for a certain couple we don’t anyway, I look up
at the ceiling, blinking back the tears springing
unbidden to my eyes. I don’t want to think about *him*
right now.

“I’m sorry,” I’m whispering at Kyo, my eyes still
fastened to the ceiling. “I …”

He turns my face towards him, so that my eyes are
staring directly into his. I notice that he is wearing
his strange blue contacts again. “Do you know who did

I can’t tell Kyo the truth, but I don’t want to lie to
him. I wonder if he even knows what *he* really did to
me? Or does he just have a suspicion? I blink again,
try to smile, reassure Kyo, but I don’t think its
working because he still looks worried. I open my
mouth, not sure of what will come out, sure these lips
will never speak the words that will damn Kaoru,
destroy Kyo’s image of our ‘wonderful’ leader, and
they don’t disappoint, not a sound past these lips.
Now I see what my position is. I love Kaoru; I still
love him, no matter what. I don’t know if I can
forgive him, I don’t know if I want to see him for a
while, but underneath it all, I still love him. The
thought of someone, my friends, anyone, turning
against him, wanting to hurt him…I have to protect him
from that. I can’t tell Kyo who did it.

“It was…” a pause, “my ex-boyfriend.” It’s not exactly
a lie, but it’s not the truth either, I’m not sure if
I could have ever classified Kaoru as my boyfriend,
and I don’t want to think of him as my ex-anything.
Waiting for the shock on Kyo’s face as my words
register. He thinks I’m as straight as a rail, and
I’ve never given him any reason to doubt that. I
wouldn’t, not if Kaoru didn’t want it. Sometimes I
have to curse the way I bend to his will.

And Kyo’s eyes do widen at my words, his mouth shaping
into an ‘O’. But he doesn’t question this, only
asking, “Why? How could he do this?”

I shrug, looking back up at the ceiling, I can’t face
Kyo’s eyes. “It doesn’t matter, it’s my fault.”

But he presses the issue, arms on my bicep, shaking my
arm gently, “But you can’t let him get away with this!
Aren’t you going to tell the police, or something?”

“NO!” My head snaps back to face him, and he backs
away from my gaze. “This doesn’t leave the room! I
said it was my fault, can’t you just leave it?” I’m
crying again, my head hurts. I hate being like this.
Kyo comes back, puts his arms around me, “I’m sorry,

“S’ok.” I mumble into his armpit. “Not your fault.”

“Do you want to come and stay with me for awhile?” His
words float in the air, I’m still too shaken and
strange-feeling to really think, or make sense or
what’s going on. “Maybe you shouldn’t stay here…”

I know what he’s saying, here, where it happened. But
I shake my head no. “I want to stay here. It’ll be
harder to come back. I have to face it sooner or

Kyo draws back, looking at me, searching my face, but
he just sighs, acquiescing, “Alright.” I don’t think
he really wants to leave me here. “Are you sure you’ll
be ok?”

“Will you quit with the mothering already? It doesn’t
suit you! I’ll be fine!”

“I’ll tell the others you won’t be at practice for a
few days ok?”

I nod. I don’t think I can face them yet, especially
not *him*. I don’t think I can face anyone right now.

Kyo hugs me again. I stiffen but then I hug him back,
surprised at all this affection, but the feel of Kyo’s
short arms around me isn’t bad. It’s comfortable,
gentle,  and I can feel warmth from his body seeping
through the layers of clothes to my body. How long has
it been since I’ve been touched by someone like this,
just a human contact, not demanding something from me
that I don’t understand. It’s strange, and I can’t
help but wonder when Kyo will turn against me too, if
he will just leave me alone, or worse…  These bitter
thoughts legacy of Kaoru’s touch, the tears stinging
my eyes again, I feel like I have lost everything, if
he’s stolen even my trust of my friends now.

My arms tighten around Kyo, thinking those thoughts
only moments ago, but I push them away, unwilling to
lose this comfort now. Kyo would never do that,
ignoring this voice in my mind telling me there was a
time I would have said that about Kaoru, and why
wouldn’t he, I’m not exactly worth sticking around
for, am I?



to be continued~

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