15 Part III, Sora IX - The End of Me and You
Judging by the amount of light, or rather the lack of it, I would guess that it is about nine at night. But then again, it is the middle of winter, so maybe it's earlier than that. Which reminds just how cold I am right now. Sei-chan insisted that we left the house immediately, which meant I left wearing practically nothing. Sei-chan chucked a jacket around my shoulders, but that doesn't really do much at this time of year. Not to mention, it doesn't do anything for my legs. Or my hands. Or my head. Come to think of it, it is almost as pointless as everything else I'm wearing. Didn't humans invent clothes to stay warm? We really did start to degenerate somewhere down the line.
The only part of my body that is warm, is my left hand, although Sei-chan has been squeezing it so tightly I can't really feel it that well. It's like he's afraid I might run off if he lets go. I mean, I was talking about going back home. Now that I think about it, he acted really strangely when I said that. He said something like 'no, I will not let you'.
When he said that, I felt confused. Why would Sei-chan of all people say something like that? He wouldn't care about me enough to stop me from going home like that, would he? And if this is one of his experiments or something, it doesn't make sense either, because he never gets directly involved in his experiments, preferring to keep his distance and observe. As well as that, his actions since then have not been like something Sei-chan would do in one of his experiments. He wouldn't drag someone off in the middle of the night with no warning. When I put it like that, it actually sounds kind of creepy. It probably would look weird if someone was watching us, I suppose. I mean, I'm not wearing clothes that you would go outside in. It isn't even a probably. This would look weird to anyone who is watching us right now. But I don't think Sei-chan would listen to me right now, if I told him I wanted to go back. He'd probably be worried that he wouldn't see me in the morning. And to be honest, his concern wouldn't be unwarranted. I sigh. This sucks, but I guess I'll just have to hope we aren't going much further.
We start walking up a hill. Great. I love walking. Especially when we're going uphill. Okay, maybe I'm being overdramatic, I don't mind walking, but when it's the middle of the night, and it isn't flat… not my choice. Sei-chan is still holding onto my hand tightly. In fact, I'm not sure if I can feel my hand. He must actually be holding on pretty tight for it to cut circulation like that. I'm freezing now, my teeth are chattering. I can see from the moonlight that Sei-chan's arm is covered in goosebumps. Mine is as well. But the point is, now that I think about it, Sei-chan isn't really dressed for this either. I mean, he's better off than me, but still not clothing for outdoors in late December. He hasn't complained or anything, or decided to turn back, so maybe what he wants to show me really is important and can't wait. Not that I have any clue what he is showing me, or if he even is showing me. But I imagine he is, otherwise surely we could just do whatever he needs to do back at his house.
Eventually at the top of the hill, we come to a relatively large park. It also flattens out mostly. Maybe this is more of a ridge than a hill, it's just hard to see how far it goes, because of the darkness. Sei-chan continues on without stopping, still holding my hand if you were wondering, straight through the park not staying on the path which seems to follow near the park boundary. He leads me to a tree, standing on a slightly elevated part of the park. In fact, as we get closer I notice there is a second. A small one. I don't know much about trees, but judging by the thinness of the trunks and branch, it is probably only a couple of years old. I think so anyway. It has the same kind of leaves as the larger tree, so I imagine they are the same species. Maybe. Like I said, I don't know much about trees.
Sei-chan leads me under the larger tree, opposite the side facing the smaller tree. He finally releases his hold on my wrist, but he doesn't back away. Maybe thinking I'll run away, if he doesn't carefully watch me. I rub my wrist with my other hand, half expecting him to apologise while I'm doing so. He doesn't. I look up at him. He still hasn't backed away. His eyes are right in front of mine. For a moment, I think he must have grown taller recently, but then I realise he's just standing slightly higher up the slope. His eyes are kind of amazing when I look at them. Even in the low illumination provided by the moon, I can make out the colour of them. The strange emerald-green colour used to always put me off. They seemed unnatural, unnerving. But there was always something enchanting and drawing about them. But that could just be Sei-chan's charisma in practice. Time doesn't seem to move correctly. I don't think this will make much sense, but it kind of felt like it was going vertically rather than horizontally. Or maybe that's just my heart jumping up and down. Now, that I realise that, I notice how much I'm freaking out in this situation. But, could you blame me? The guy that I like, has his face about ten centimetres away from mine. I'm glad that it's night and the moon is behind me, because otherwise Sei-chan would probably be able to see how much I'm sweating. My heart keeps beating faster, and all I can think about is what Sei-chan is going to do next. Maybe I was wrong about him. Maybe he does have feelings for me, I don't know. I don't understand this situation, I don't know how to act. All I can think about is Sei-chan.
Sei-chan. Seijuro. Seijuro-kun. Tohsaka Seijuro. Tohsaka Seijuro-kun. Tohsaka-kun.
I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I've never felt like this, or been in any situation that is even slightly comparable. All I can do is wait to see what Sei-chan does, but I don't know what he is going to do. And in fact, I'm scared about what he might do.
But then, Sei-chan blinks, and looks away. And the moment is over.
"Look out that way."
Without really thinking, I look out in the direction Sei-chan was referring to. I see a sprawling suburbia laid out before me. An immersive maze of bright lights, with only a mild pattern to the madness. In the distance, just slightly off centre, the lights reach up into the sky. Skyscrapers. And even further out, the lights come to an abrupt stop. I could draw a line with my finger, and there would be no outlying spots of light on the wrong side. That must be the ocean. While I admit this is a great view, I still have no clue as to why I have been dragged out here in the middle of the night. Knowing Sei-chan, it certainly wasn't to look at the city skyline together, and get all sentimental. I could ask him what we are doing, but I get the feeling he is going to tell me shortly. Or if I keep going along with whatever he says, he'll get to the point eventually.
"Think about everything you hate…"
"… and scream."
Sometimes Sei-chan says things that I don't comprehend, but I at least understand the words he is using. This is one of those things. I look at him blankly, more than mildly confused about exactly what it is he is asking of me, and why he is asking me to do this. He smiles at my face, guess I must look quite amusing right now, and speaks again, "just try it."
"Think about your parents. Or school. Or whatever else is in that innumerable list of things you hate."
Still unsure what it is Sei-chan is asking of me, I turn back out to look over the city. I breathe in deeply. Sei-chan told me to think about all the things I hate. Well, most of all I hate my parents, so I guess I'll start there. I hate how they don't respond to me. How they can't respond to me, because they don't know how. I hate how they look at me with disappointment in their faces, because I am not the perfect child they always wanted me to be. But most of all, I hate the façade they create around our family. We are always perfectly happy and smiling until you stop watching. My parents… always smiling, always happy, never arguing. That is what most people who don't know us think of them. But when you catch even a glimpse beneath the mask, you realise the error of that sentiment. They are nothing but rotten people on the inside, pretending to be wholesome. They might as well be plastic dolls, or not exist in the same reality as me. I hate it. I hate every single thing about them. The way they sit pisses me off, the way they smile makes me want to puke, and the way they talk disgusts me.
And yes, it does make me want to scream. I tilt my head up, see the branches of the trees reaching out to cover my eyesight, and I close my eyes. My voice sounds rough and raw, perhaps even squeaky. But I don't hold back. I forget about the boy standing beside me, about where I am, and about everything just for a moment. Nothing seems painful, nothing hurts. I feel a moment of clarity and peace. Or perhaps even bliss. But then it is over.
My feelings and raging emotions come back to me. I remember my parents, the boredom of everyday life, and this terrible, useless, unforgiving, cruel world. But, I feel calm. For some reason, none of this bothers me quite as much as it did just a few moments ago. I'm not sure why. Then I remember the boy standing beside me.
Ah, that's right. He's here.
I turn to look at him, feeling extremely embarrassed, and sorry about how his eardrums must be feeling right about now. I'm about to apologise, but then I realise he is smiling. Why is he smiling? He doesn't look amused as such, but a more generally happy, or perhaps satisfied look, is spread across his face.
"You feel better now, right?"
Now that Sei-chan says that, I realise that I do. I do indeed feel a lot better than I did just before. It feels like some of the weight on my shoulders, some of that load has been lifted off. Everything just seems slightly more bearable or reasonable than it did just before. Even before I get a chance to respond, Sei-chan must already have had his answer from looking at my face, as he continues on, "I sometimes come out here. And, just like I got you to do, scream out across the city."
That seems a bit unbelievable to me. Sei-chan, the one person who never seems to get angry, or overworked, or overwhelmed, comes out to this park sometimes to scream. I didn't think Sei-chan would ever get stressed enough to need to do something like that. He always just seemed to absorb everything that got thrown at him, as if it were nothing. Now, I understand how he does it. I guess this kind of works like a pressure valve for him. Instead of bottling everything up till he explodes, like I would, he uses this to just release some of the stress and calm himself down. It's a coping mechanism. For his own issues and the expectation placed upon him.
"You know," Sei-chan begins to speak again.
"Ever since I met you, more than a year ago, I have found you fascinating. I know I have told you that before, but I do not believe I ever told you why it was that I think that of you. I am sure that you have probably guessed at least some of the reason, but I doubt you understand my whole reasoning."
"At first, I found you interesting, because I had never met anyone like you. You had no motivation, no wants or cares when I first met you. All you wanted to do was stay hidden in that science classroom, and never talk to anyone again, and watch your anime on your own. I was interested, because I always want to find new and unique people, because I know they will have a different perspective to my own. On the world, life… anything, really. My goal was to collect as many different viewpoints as possible, and allow them to influence my own view on the world. By doing this, I wanted to become a perfect person. I wanted to be able to become perfect. Of course, it is impossible to be perfect, even then I knew that, but I still wanted to become as close as possible."
"Shortly after I first met you, I realised that your views would be among the most valuable I had ever collected, because I had never met anyone even remotely like you. I had met others who were always alone, like Isogai-san, but none of them were ever like you. They were not alone by choice, they were alone because there was no one else who liked them. But you were different. Other people liked you, in fact you were one of the most popular and successful students at your junior high, but the problem was they did not understand you. You used to solve this by pretending to be something you are not, acting like a different person from who you really are. But eventually, that became too much and you broke. You stopped lying to your friends, your family, and most importantly to yourself."
"Other people are like you in that they pretend to be something they are not, and there are many who never are their true self in front of others throughout their whole life. They all lied to themselves, deceived themselves, and everyone who knew them. Pretending to be normal, to fit in, allowed them to live out their lives in this world. So, I wanted to know, what kept you alive in this world? What gave you a reason to live in this world? Everyone has a reason. If you do not have a reason to live, you kill yourself; and if you do not kill yourself, you are as good as dead anyway."
"At some point, I realised you were the latter. One who was dead, yet still breathing. It is said that it is impossible to raise the dead, and I tend to agree with that statement. I lost interest in you, but something kept drawing me back to you. I did not realise what it was at first. You were dead. There was no reason for me to talk to you, but I did. It took months, but eventually it hit me. At some point I was talking with one of the many groups I associate with, and I realised why I still wanted to hang out with you. I was lonely. Yes, me who could name nearly every kid in the school, and is liked by everyone, I was lonely. I had not realised that being surrounded by people could still make you lonely. But I was lonely."
"So, I started pushing to rise you up from the dead. I thought if I could make you alive, give you a reason to live, it would fix my loneliness. So, we made the contract. In return for me forgiving you for something near meaningless, you would carry out three tasks I gave you. It did not matter if I gave them to you in a day, in a month, in a year, or if I gave you a day, a month, or a year, to carry it out, you had to complete each task. So first, I asked you to find a group of people you would want to hang out with, in other words, friends. It surprised me when you asked me to be your friend. Even though I have talked with and hanged out with hundreds of people, I do not know if I could consider a single one of them my friend. But I decided it could not hurt to try and change that. Maybe having even a single friend would show me some error in my thinking, or how I do things."
"It surprised me even more how quickly you managed to complete the first task I gave you with ease. Within two weeks, I believe, you had managed to complete the task, and even exceed what I had asked of you. In a moment, of what at the time I believed to be foolishness, I made the second task that you would rely on me for anything and everything."
"I realise now, looking back that everything I have ever done was a selfish act. Of course, everything everyone ever does is selfish, but I told myself that I was selfishly using you as an experiment. A test subject if you like. In reality, I see now that I was selfishly trying to use you as a way to end my own loneliness. I was in fact happy, when you asked me to be your friend. It was also selfish of me to ask you to rely on me for everything. All I wanted was you to open up more to me, so that I could know more about you. So that I could learn more about you, and lose the feeling of loneliness that I still have."
"But that still was not enough. We as humans, are selfish creatures. There is no point denying it, because there is no argument to this. Everything we do has a way of benefitting us back, no matter how small. So the only way to stay true to this and move forward without lying to yourself, is accept the selfishness of all your actions, and take the best path for you, no matter the affect it has on others. And so, I have one final task born of my own selfishness for you. In the hope that it will end both this feeling of longing, and my endless loneliness, your third task is to go out with me."
It took me a while to realise he had finished speaking. And another while for me to realise what he had said. Whilst all of what he had said was true, and important, the most important was definitely what he said at the end. At least to me, anyway. But what did this mean? Does Sei-chan love me? I didn't think he was capable of that emotion. But, if he really does love me, what do I think of that? Of course, I love him as well, but would I not just drag him down to my level? Without me, he is the most amazing person you will ever meet. With me, he will be far from that, I am sure. You are only as strong as your weakest link, and I am sure I will weigh him down heavily.
"I don't think I am the right person for you."
That is all I say. There is so much more I could, and probably should say, but if I do, and I become his lover, it will just lead to me dragging him down. So, I will not say anything. I will not, because I love him. So I want to do what is best for him.
I hear Sei-chan sigh loudly beside me. Definitely the loudest, and perhaps most irritated, his sigh has ever sounded.
"Did you hear any of what I just said? I bet right now you are thinking something like, 'I am doing the right thing for him, I would just hold him back', right?"
That is indeed exactly what I was thinking.
"Because humans are selfish, the only way to accept this, and not lie to ourselves, is to do what is best for us, and not worry about the consequences it causes for others. I said that. And you heard it. So, make the decision that is best for you, and do not worry about the consequences that it will have on other people, including me. Just do what is best for you. What you, yourself, want. Not anyone else."
What I myself want? Not anyone else? What I want most of all, and have for a while now, is to be beside Sei-chan. I want him to hold me, and give me warmth. I want him to be by my side, through hard times, and easy times. I want him to walk next to me, holding hands. I want to have conversations, and laugh with him. I want him to smile more. I want to smile more. I want to smile with him, and laugh, and talk, and walk, and touch. That is what I want. More than anything else in this world. More than anything.
But, I can't have that. I don't deserve someone like him, and yet here he is, professing his love and desire for me. And yet, I can't. I don't want to be the cause of him not achieving what he can in the future. When you look at him, you know he is destined for greatness. That he will become something in this world of nothings. And I wish to help him achieve that, not distract him from whatever path it is he needs to take to get there. So, the best thing, is to walk away here.
No, that is wrong. Sei-chan just spelled it out twice for me. Because humans are selfish in nature, there is no point being nice for the sake of being nice. Being nice just because is a lie. All you are doing is selfishly fulfilling an inane desire to be liked by others. Because we selfishly do not wish to be alone, as humans. We desire contact with others, both physically and emotionally. But because we, both me and Sei-chan, realise this innate fact of human nature, we are able to transcend it. Because we understand our selfishness, we are able to realise it and accept that no matter what decision we make, it is going to be a selfish one. And because all decisions are selfish, there is no reason to not make the most selfish decision each and every time. Since every choice is selfish, there is no reason to debate which choice is most ethically, or morally correct, because in truth it is all the same. You are always choosing selfishly to fulfil one desire or the other. In other words, it does not matter if the ends don't justify the means, or if the path you choose will hurt others, because any other choice is mere self-gratification.
And so, there is really only one option I can choose where I can honestly say that I didn't lie to myself.
I smile, "so you're right once again. I have no choice but to choose you, because I don't want to lie to myself again. And there is no point choosing anything else even if I didn't mind lying to myself, because it is only self-gratification to not choose what you want."
Sei-chan smiles at me, "correct. And self-gratification is a useless feeling, which we use to tell ourself we have done the right thing."
"I accept, then. Your third task. I'll see it out, until the sun no longer rises in the morning if you wish."
"If I wish?"
"No," I correct myself, "if it is still in our best interests to be one."
"Our best interest?" Sei-chan frowns for a moment, "I suppose you are right. As of now, there is no me and you, there is only us. And together we will make the decisions that suit the both of us best. And until the sun no longer rises in the morning, I will be both myself and you, and you will be both yourself and me."
Sei-chan extends his hand out to me, "shall we head back then?"
Despite how cold it is, Sei-chan's hand is warm to the touch. That warm comforts me. Especially when I think about how that warmth is mine, for as long as I want it. It comforts me to think that Sei-chan is mine, in a way that no one else ever has been, and that I am his in a way that nobody else ever has been.
And, that this is the end of me and him; from now on, it will be us.