Never For Me

AUTHORíS NOTE: This piece was an attempt to get inside Tohmaís head. Regardless of whether or not it succeeded or not, these were intended to be Tohmaís own thoughts on his motivations. I donít necessarily agree with any or all or his views as Iíve written them here, as I think heís quite as capable of self-deception as the rest of us. As far as Iím concerned I see this as being one of Tohmaís chief flaws: he either takes on guilt for things which werenít his fault, or abdicates responsibility for things that were. Self-deception is a big thing with him. So donít assume that the views I write here are what *I* actually think are his motivations: theyíre meant to be what *he* thinks they are.

Sometimes I wonder whether Iíve done anything in my life for myself. Sometimes it truly doesnít seem like it. Though I suppose most people wouldnít describe me as a very generous person Ė rather the reverse, probably Ė it still seems like Iíve been living for someone else for the last twenty-two years. Probably because I have been.

The first ten years of my life Ė well, I donít have many more memories of them than most people do. Certainly nothing monumental, nothing that strikes me with the force of a physical blow and shouts that this was an event that changed my life. Well, except maybe starting music lessons, but I was so young then that I scarcely remember it anyway.

Certainly I donít remember anything as clearly as that day when I was ten, when Mika-san, with the proudest expression youíve ever seen on her face, took me home with her to meet her new baby brother.

Iíve never trusted words like Ďfateí or Ďdestinyí. Iíve always thought that we make our own destinies, and that fate is just a convenient concept invented by lazy people who only wanted to sit back and accept what life handed them. Iíve always detested people like that. But that dayÖmaybe thatís the only time I could believe in fate.

Mika-san begged her mother to let her hold the baby, only with them for about a month and so still enough of a novelty to amuse a young girl who had dreams of distant motherhood herself. The child was wrapped in pure white blankets, still drowsy from its afternoon nap, not yet the squalling demon which I had always believed babies to be. I found I was staring at it with something approaching fascination, this strange, tiny thing.

She must have seen the odd expression on my face, because it was only a few minutes before I found that white swathed bundle dumped inexpertly in my arms.

ďGo on, you hold him for a while,Ē she urged in her firm little girlís voice, putting her hands on her hips in a stance that brooked no argument. I felt awkward with this odd weight in my arms, not knowing what to do as I looked down with wide eyes into that sleepy, scrunched up pink face. I gingerly pushed back a fold of the blanket, moving it away from the creatureís face, trying to get a better look.

Then one tiny, warm hand clamped around my finger, delicate fingers curling around it as though the child somehow wanted to hold it close. And small eyelids blinked open, to reveal eyes of pure gold. Eyes that held my own with a fixed, disquieting gaze.

The strange rush of feeling I felt then was like nothing I had ever felt before. This creature Ė this child Ė was so infinitely small, so vulnerable, but so perfect. The surge of fierce protectiveness I felt scared me a little, it was so far outside any previous experience. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to safeguard that tiny life.

It seems like everything Iíve done since that day has been for him. Always for him Ė never for me. I havenít minded it though Ė I might not be selfless about most people, but for Eiri Iíd cheerfully give up all my worldly goods, my success, maybe even my life itself.

I love him, you see.

I couldnít pinpoint when I first loved him. Maybe right from the beginning in some way. In some strange way, maybe even before that. I can remember the first time I realised I was in love with him though. It didnít come with fanfares or a sudden burst of self-knowledge, and it wasnít because of anything special he did or said. It was just a growing certainty, a warmth growing deep within me, which crystallised into understanding when he was thirteen years old, and I twenty-three. Is that shocking? Some pervert preying on an innocent child? All I can say in answer to that is that I could no more help myself than I could make the earth spin backwards on its axis, and that my love for him was the purest feeling in the world. I had never been in love with anyone else before, and Iíve never been in love with anyone else afterwards. Perhaps Iím not even capable of loving anyone else Ė the bond between us is that strong.

Donít mistake me Ė I still care for other people. I care for Sakuma-san, childish as he is, and I care for Nuriko-chan, even though they arenít more than fellow band members. I even care for those I work with, like K-san and Sakano-san. I care for Mika-san, just as I always have on some level, as my friend and helper. For more than twenty-five years she has been the closest I have had to a true friend, an equal, someone who understands. But there are none of them I care for more than my reason allows, none I care for as much as for myself. None that I care for a tenth, a hundredth as much as I care for Eiri.

I realised I was in love with him when I was twenty-three, but when I think about the things I loved about him, I realise they are qualities I had loved about him for his entire life. I loved his beauty, his spun-gold hair and sunshine-dancing eyes. I loved the way his face revealed every emotion he felt, whether joy or surprise or confusion or pain, each chasing one another through his features like shadows over a snow-field. I loved his quick smiles, the way they used to light up his face and shine more brightly that any star in the skies. I loved the way his eyes glittered with tears, and he looked more lovely than anything in the world.

I loved his innocence. I loved his purity. I loved his perfection.

And itís my fault all that has goneÖ

Of course, acting so selflessly towards him all this time has not been without benefits for me, even if that wasnít the reason I did it. He let me into his life as he had done with no one else, whether it was a child catching hold of my hand and dragging me outside one summerís afternoon to show me the den he had made amidst the dense shrubbery of the garden; or a youth telling me of his dreams of becoming a novelist; or a young man gasping in open joy as he watched the land of his birth drop away beneath the windows of the aeroplane for the first time. He opened his heart to me, and I loved him all the more for it. Even after Ė after New York.

For a while he didnít even let anyone touch him. Not a chance brush against him in a crowd, not a comforting touch to his hand, and certainly not anything more. To begin with, it almost sent him into shock. Then it became anger, and cold hatred. Not even Mika-san or their father were allowed close to him.

But he would huddle against me like the lost child he still was in so many ways. When the night terrors caught him again for months afterwards Ė when the flashes of dim memory struck him and left him blank-eyed and shaking Ė he would allow me to put my arms around him, and he would press close against me, eyes dry but mind screaming. I could feel it radiating through him, the terror, the horror, and I helped him make it go away.

Then he began to pull himself back together, becoming the person the world now knows as Yuki Eiri. He learned to turn his inner coldness and self-hatred outwards, throwing up a barrier of ice between himself and the world, stopping anyone from getting too close who might otherwise have begun to care about him, and made him care in return. All those transitory women, picking one up for a day, a week, just as it suited him, each one adding to that cynical public persona. Keeping him safe.

But he still let me see the flashes of pain in his eyes. I was still the only one he would, could talk to, confide in. Looking after him as I helped him rebuild his world.

I wouldnít describe it as friendship. It was something so much more than that.

Even now, when I see him less, when heís moved far enough away for it not to be convenient to see him as often as I would like, whenÖwhen heís taken anotherÖ Even now I know he still needs me. Needs me like he always did. And as long as he needs me, Iíll be here. Protecting him, like I always have. Ever since the beginning.

And whatís left of the boy I fell in love with, so long ago? Not much, I suppose. But that doesnít stop me loving him, any more than the changing of the tides alters the gravitational attraction of the moon. Yuki Eiri is a completely different person from Uesugi Eiri Ė but they are still one, and I still love him. And strangely enough, I love him for almost the exact opposite reasons I loved him for in the first place.

I love his cynicism where there was innocence Ė the distant expression in disquieting golden eyes. I love his secrecy where there was only openness Ė knowing that I can get passed that barrier, the only one who can. I love his coolness, where before I loved his warmth Ė hoping that one day I could melt his icy heart again.

Stupid, that I can be so completely contrary in my affections, but at the same time so entirely constant.

Where once I loved his perfection, I now love his brokenness.

For he is broken. If he doesnít seem that way to those who first meet him, then that is a victory for Eiri and I, from long years of work. We laboured at covering over the cracks in his mind, putting back together the delicate structure that had been smashed, creating an impenetrable shell over all so that he could never Ė *never* - be hurt again.

I think that maybe that urge to protect him has only grown since it happened. Even more than the boy he was, it is vital that I shelter the man he has become. Because I know that he is broken Ė like a mirror, smashed by a devastating blow, the pieces still held in place by the frame, criss-crossed by a spider-web of crazing. Itís beautiful in its broken state, all rainbow facets and diamond sharp edges, but it is still, ultimately, something broken. The slightest touch at the wrong time could send those pieces shivering apart.

And it can never truly be fixed, no matter how hard you may try. You can push the pieces back together as closely as possible, try to fill in the gaps, making it as whole and complete as you can Ė and yet still when you look into it, the reflection is not as brilliant as before. Broken. Destroyed. Spoiled.

That is what I have done to the man I love.

It is my fault, that devastating blow to his mind. And no matter how hard I try to repair the damage, no matter what attention I lavish on him, no matter how fiercely I protect him or how ardently I love him, it makes no difference. I canít remake what Iíve destroyed. I can only try to make sure that nothing delivers the final touch that will send his mind flying apart in a thousand glittering shards.

Thatís why I am doing what I am. Thatís why I am trying so hard to break him and Shindou-kun apart. Itís not for myself Ė Iíve said before that Iíve never done anything for myself with regard to Eiri, ever since first meeting him, and I meant it. Iím doing it because I have to protect him, just as I always have. Shindou-kun has been consistently trying to get closer to Eiri, trying to work his way under those barriers we have spent so many years putting up, trying to take first his body and then his heart. And each time he thinks he has won a victory, each time Eiri sheds a tear that Shuichi thinks is bringing him back to himself, I know it is another crack being revealed, another piece of his protective armour removed.

I canít allow that. Eiri cut himself off from people for a very good reason, and nobody, not even Shindou-kun, should try to undo that. Heís safe with me, since Iím the only one who understands him, but if anyone else tries to get close, it could destroy him. I know that.

The worst of it is that I truly do like Shindou-kun. He has much of that same openness, that innocence which I once loved so in Eiri. He is a good person, I believe, and I am in love enough with Eiri myself to be able to recognise it in others. He really does love him. But that wonít stop him from destroying Eiri piece by piece, and I canít allow that.

As long as Eiri wasnít deeply involved in the relationship, I was prepared to allow it to continue, for both their sakes. Shindou-kun needed it for his confidence, for his happiness, for his work Ė no, I wonít deny that the relationship was excellent publicity for Bad Luck, and I donít blame K for making use of it in that way Ė and Eiri needed the simple ease of physical companionship. As long as it was only that, I let it go on, even though it hurt me sometimes.

When did I let it change from that situation? How could I have been so blind as to overlook it? Perhaps I should have done more when the incident with ASKís Aizawa-kun happened. I took care of that problem as I thought then, trying just to keep Eiri safe as always, but I didnít realise where the root of the problem lay. I didnít realise then that Eiri was allowing Shindou-kun too deeply into his life, and that *that* was what had hurt him. I should have done something then, before it was too late, but I didnít think.

Itís so much more difficult now. But now I know the damage this is doing EiriÖ

Iíve never been so frightened in my entire life as I was yesterday. Iíve been sick twice in my life, the first time when I was five and had bad flu, and the second when I got into my fatherís liquor cabinet at about the age of seven and didnít realise that alcohol wasnít meant for children. Yesterday nearly made it a third. The sensation stealing over me as I saw Eiri turn pale, his shaking hand going to his mouth, eyes wide and even scared. The bitter taste in my throat as the intricate glass fell to the ground, and the mess of liquid was joined by spots of near-black blood.

The sheer physical force of panic as he crumpled to the floor.

I donít know how I managed to even get him to the hospital, I was so terrified. That probably seems strange I suppose Ė me, the ever controlled, ever calm Tohma Seguchi shaking and scared as a child. Everything seems such a blur, a whirl of fear and movement and whiteness and smells of disinfectant and disease as I watched them take him away on one of those terrible trolley beds for examination. I had vowed to protect him, but I was so helplessÖ

I had vowed to protect him, because I loved him and because it was all my fault. I almost left it too late to help him, but I wonít make that mistake again. Iíll keep Shindou-kun away from him, no matter how much it may cost to him and to me. Because itís for Eiri, so Iíll do whatever it takes.

Itís not because I want Eiri for myself Ė no matter how much I may yearn for himÖno matter how many dreams I had, for so many years, that one day he would look at me with love. He shows me expressions of friendship, of sorrow, of grief, of pain, of occasional happiness and perhaps sometimes even joy. But not love. Never love. I have dreamed for so long that he would look at me with the same yearning which I feel for himÖ

Öbut it wonít happen. Ever. Because heís found someone else with all the innocence he has lost. Someone he can love. Itís not me.

Eiri bestows on him those expressions I so want. But theyíre always for him.

Never for me.