This is Not My Life
“How can I show you,
I’m glad I got to know you”
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to learn that the day I killed Kase has always been very clearly and accessibly burned into my memory. It takes very little to vividly trigger a play-by-play recap. So I guess it also won’t come as so big of a surprise to hear that every single word I uttered then is equally accessible. I won’t ever forget.
When my illusion of our friendship was finally irreparably shattered, when I finally came to terms that the trust I’d so stubbornly clung to was gone, when in a fit of steely determination my claws finally connected fatally with his chest, I told him this: I said, I’m already in Hell.
Yeah, I know that probably seems a little melodramatic. I guess you would have needed to be there.
But, the thing is, I believed it.
Well, given, I say very little that I don’t believe. I hate lies, liars, and everything in between. Trust is essential to me, and I do my best to project that.
But regardless, I have to admit that there was an extra degree of conviction to that particular declaration. A world where your oldest and closet friend wants to see you dead could be little but Hell. Nowhere else would it make sense that someone who literally tears the living essence out of others could flatter themselves the ‘good guy.’ I entered this life through a baptism of fire, not figuratively speaking. There might as well have been a billboard spelling out ‘Welcome to Hell,’ because my location could not have been more obvious.
Or so I thought.
Apparently things are not quite so straightforward as I’d assumed.
Because I was wrong.
I was very, very wrong.
This is not Hell.
It is, in fact, just about as far from Hell as I could possibly imagine.
Perhaps I had actually been in purgatory. Because now I’m out, and this, this feels an awful lot like…well. I won’t say it. I don’t want to be that cheesy.
But you get the idea.
I didn’t think it was actually possible for me to be happy again.
I mean…I guess I’ve had my moments. I almost remembered what it felt like to be happy when I was with Yuriko. The problem then was that it wasn’t possible for me to give her a full disclosure. There was no way for me to let her get close enough to build up the trust that’s essential for me. Honestly, being with her was almost as stressful as it was a relief.
Which is why it took Yohji so little effort to dissuade me from leaving with her.
Well, that and the fact that she wasn’t Omi.
…Not that I was conscious of that at the time….
I’m still having a hard time believing any of this is real.
I mean…what were my chances? The odds were definitely stacked against me. The odds would have been against me simply looking for a boyfriend, period, never mind someone specific, someone specific that didn’t even seem to fit that orientation. Not that I’d have any interest in a boyfriend, except for Omi. I wasn’t especially looking for that type of relationship in anyone, hardly even girls, let alone men. I just wanted to really trust someone again. When I finally found that I guess I got more than I bargained for.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think I owe Yohji thanks.
Well, maybe. I’m not sure I’m willing to give him that big of an ego trip.
I wonder what Aya and Yohji are going to think? They’ll have to find out right away. Hiding things is just too close to lying for my comfort.
But, I shouldn’t care, right? I feel like I’m not supposed to care. I can’t help worrying though, I care what people think of me. I care a lot more than I should. Being in J-League, with the public’s attention constantly monitoring my every move made me painfully aware of how judgmental people are. A lot of ‘celebrities’ get used to the spotlight, it stops bothering them. Not me. I never got used to it; the attention only succeeded in making me paranoid. Maybe I just didn’t get to stay in the League long enough to adjust. Or maybe it was the scandal; I’ve been the center of attention in the very worst possible way. I know how brutal it can be to be shunned for something that wasn’t your fault.
That’s why I like kids so much. They don’t have enough experience to hold a lot of strong opinions. They’re still capable of unconditional love.
I think I’m worrying for nothing though. I can’t really picture Yohji having a problem with it. In fact I bet he’ll approve. A teammate is better than some innocent corruptible girl, right? Besides, it’s less competition for him. He can lay claim to twice as many of those raving banshees in the shop. Not that I was ever stopping him before.
Yeah, I’ll actually be really surprised if Yohji is bothered. He’ll probably make fun of me anyway though, just on principle. I can deal with that.
Aya is harder to guess though. He gives the impression of holding really strong opinions on things, but he rarely shares what those opinions actually are. Unless the thing in question is somehow related to the name ‘Takatori’ and then his opinion is pretty strongly voiced. Huh, come to think of it, that exception applies to Omi, doesn’t it? That…might complicate things.
Aya and I didn’t really hit it off so well in the beginning, either. I wonder, would it really be that easy to shift the balance back to animosity?
I like to think not.
But…I really don’t know.
I somehow managed to throw a wrench into my good mood. I think my brain is having trouble processing the concept of ‘happy.’
All I need to do is go back to thinking about Omi to fix that.
I’m walking around the grocery store right now, with what I’m pretty sure must be a completely ridiculous grin spread across my face. Omi promised to make me dinner if I picked up the supplies, you see. Isn’t he great? I’m so…lucky.
Oh my god, I’m starting to sound like one of the shop girls.
I stop, and self-consciously look down at the shopping basket which is feeling a lot heavier than it ought to, only to take in the fact that it’s filled with just about every miscellaneous product that I have ever seen Omi express even a hint of interest in….except for the things he specifically requested for dinner. Dang.
Apparently, I’m also starting to act like one of the shop girls.
I sheepishly reshelf a box of instant noodles, which I can’t for the life of me remember what about had reminded me of Omi (but I know it somehow did.) He probably doesn’t actually want eleven cans of that specific brand of oolong tea I noticed him drinking last week, either. Wow. Did I really grab all this…?
The chocolate cookies can stay though, I happen to know that they’re one of his favorites….
I catch myself just vacantly staring at a poster advertising some local specialty. I’m totally spacing out.
We went to the beach this morning, speaking of life suddenly being awesome. It was more fun than I remember. I don’t go to the beach a lot. It’s not that I don’t like to, it’s just that when I have free time I usually choose to play soccer. I think I’ve only gone once since joining Weiβ. All four of us went, it was Omi’s idea, some sort of ‘team bonding’ pitch.
It kind of sucked. Yohji and Aya didn’t really get the concept of ‘team’ all that well. Yohji wasn’t interested in doing anything with us, he just spent all of his time sunbathing and chatting up girls in bikinis. I don’t think he ever even got into the water. Lame. And Aya was even worse! Aya wouldn’t even take his shirt off. He just sat in the shade the whole time and read. He could have done that at home! What’s the point of coming all the way out to the beach if you’re only going to do stuff you could have done in your living room? I really don’t get them. I suspected that Omi would have been fun…if he hadn’t been so strung out unsuccessfully trying to force Aya and Yohji to go swimming with us and play beach games that they clearly had no interest in whatsoever.
I wonder what those two are up to? Probably being mutually boring together, doing something they could have done at home. I still can’t comprehend them wanting to take a trip together. It’s totally weird. I guess they both figured they could just ignore each other and do their own thing. I so don’t get them.
Well, anyway, I do get Omi, and as I suspected he’s actually fun to go to the beach with. When I suggested playing volleyball he didn’t even hesitate to agree. He played with me for an hour. And then we only stopped because it was hot and the water looked inviting. He raced me into the ocean, and jumped right in even though it was freezing. When I splashed him he splashed me back. We swam and rough housed and acted stupid and he never wasted time trying to look cool in front of the other people there (like some other people I know would have.) We found some big rocks to hide behind and made out for a while. Then we dug a giant hole in the sand for no good reason. I love that I can do things with Omi for no good reason. I haven’t been able to feel this much like myself around anyone since….
I still can’t even think his name without feeling my stomach drop. Way to knife my good mood again.
I think that deep down I once had the same kind of feelings for Kase that I do for Omi.
Thank God I didn’t realize it back then. Thank God he didn’t realize it. He would have exploited it. Even if it had completely disgusted him, I bet he would have capitalized on the opportunity anyway. I saw his true colors. He wanted to destroy me. Can you even imagine? Agonizing as all of that was, it could have been so much worse. I’m not sure I could have recovered from that.
He still did plenty of permanent damage though.
A dark, suspicious piece of my mind keeps questioning Omi. I hate myself when I catch that happening.
But…it really does seem…unlikely that he’d return my feelings, doesn’t it?
Out of all of us, he was the only one who came even close to having a steady girlfriend. Sure, for a relationship it was pretty fucked up. But still. It was more of an authentic love life than even Yohji had.
He never dropped a hint that he might like boys. Never a hint that he might like me.
And…I’ve seen with my own eyes how manipulative he can be. Omi is a master when it comes to people skills. It’s a little bit frightening. I suppose that’s what happens when you grow up in an environment like Kritiker.
I can’t believe I let my mind wander there. I trust Omi. Completely. We’ve saved each other’s lives. He’s my best friend. I love him. I could even say that before, when I thought it was just best-friend-love, and not the real kind that I now know it is.
I guiltily grab another box of the cookies Omi likes and shove them in the basket.
It’s not like I was going around projecting that I liked him either. At least, I don’t think I was. It kind of caught me off guard. Unless…crap. Was it really obvious to everyone, except for me? You hear about that happening all the time. I’ve been told that I can be kinda oblivious (well, Yohji’s told me that I can be kind of oblivious. I’m never quite sure when to take him seriously or not….) Maybe everyone’s known for months, and I was the last person to figure it out. Maybe that’s actually the reason Aya and Yohji high-tailed it out of here. I could have been totally nauseating them. Maybe I’ve just been walking around with the words I HAVE A CRUSH ON OMI practically blazing across my forehead, and they just couldn’t stand being around me anymore…
Um, remember when I said I can get paranoid? Case in point.
I’m being stupid. Aya and Yohji called. They said they were having issues. You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to believe that. Those two have heaps of issues. I couldn’t even start to guess at which ones they decided they need to work on. The world doesn’t revolve around you, Hidaka.
Hm, maybe I should pick up a bottle of wine to go with dinner. Would Omi like that? It might be kind of romantic. Or would it be sketchy? Maybe he’d think I was trying to get him drunk. I don’t want him to think I was trying to take advantage of him. Would that even make sense? We’re already into each other. I have no reason to take advantage of him. I get to do stuff whether we’re drunk or not. Heh.
I totally space out again as my mind wanders to what I got to do with him this morning….
Snap out of it man, I probably look seriously creepy just standing in the middle of a grocery store grinning like some sort of lobotomized freak.
I put some of the oolong tea back in my basket. Better to play it safe and save the wine till after we’ve been together a few more days.
Wow, how obvious is it that it’s been a while since I’ve seriously dated anyone?
I’ve probably only had a handful of dates since I got kicked out of J-League. And none of them ever went anywhere, I felt too detached, having to hide the whole assassin thing. And even before that…I guess I didn’t really get the serious dating scene so well back then, either. All of the girls who were interested in me were kind of fangirly. Even worse than the ones who come to the flower shop. I always felt like they cared more that they were dating a pro-athlete than actually wanted to get to know me. I’ve never had someone like Omi before….
Maybe I’ll pick up a movie for us to watch after dinner. A good one. Not an awkward-fest like last time. Or we could actually go to the theater. It’d be a real date! No, renting is better. Then I get Omi all to myself. We wouldn’t actually have to watch it….
Oh, even better! We could go back to the beach. I’ve never been to the beach at night. I bet you can see a million stars there. How romantic would that be? I bet it’s totally romantic. It’s probably really cold on the beach at night though. Maybe Omi would need me to keep him warm.
You know, Omi’s probably actually getting annoyed with me by now, because I’m sure I’m taking about three times longer to pick up groceries than any reasonable person would.
I force my attention to refocus enough to complete the shopping list. Plus a few extraneous items. Hey, a gift-wrapped watermelon is totally important. Very essential.
Well, it’s not like I can impress him by bringing home flowers.
Or could I? No one knows flowers better than Omi. He’d definitely notice which ones were impressive.
No. I am not getting Omi flowers. I can’t believe I even thought that.
He really does seem to have a thing for freesia though….
No. No no no no.
I need to get a grip. Omi doesn’t actually care if I bring him anything home. What he’d probably like best would be for me to not take 3 hours to pick up a basketful of groceries. I hope I haven’t worried him. He’s been kind of sensitive lately. I took way too long. Shit he’s probably totally worried.
I walk as fast as I can, given the overstuffed, gratuitously heavy nature of my shopping bag.
When I finally get to the door I have to stop to catch my breath and re-compose myself. I don’t want to look pathetic when he sees me. I’m also nervous to see him again. I feel bad for accidently taking so long.
When I open the door, it’s worse than I feared.
…Well…not happy to see me.
Not worried. Not even mad.
I would have rather found him mad. I get mad a lot. It passes.
He just looks unhappy. And when his eyes lock on me it changes. He goes sort of blank. Like he’s shutting off his emotions.
It makes me feel horrible.
I couldn’t possibly have done this much damage just by making him wait for dinner. Right? He’d been seeming so much better. Genuinely better. I thought he was as happy as I was. He’d been acting happy again.
Was I just seeing what I wanted to see?
“What?” I say, waiting for him to announce that someone died. Or something worse.
“Manx called,” he answers in a robotic voice. “We have a mission. I’ve already packed.”
I accidently drop the groceries.
(Forward to Chapter 26)
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