|[fic] On the Use of Possessives, Omi/Kaoru, G
||[Jun. 14th, 2006|05:20 am]
yes, i drama too much. yes, i want to make more crack. maybe someday, with the right motivation :D
On the Use of Possessives
Omi keeps a small metal box, one that fits in both his hands. He takes it everywhere he goes, and he never shows the contents to anyone. Inside it are several things, things which of course could fit in a small metal box - scraps of cloth, popsicle sticks, pebbles, small toys. These are the things Omi holds most precious.
Among these things is a small piece of lined grade school paper, folded and unfolded many times. On the paper is written, in an awkward childish scrawl and shaky kanji: Kaoru wa watashi no tomodachi. And beneath it is the no less complicated reverse: Watashi wa Kaoru no tomodachi.
Somewhere else, and in another point in time, there had been another piece of paper, on which had been written something else: Omi wa watashi no tomodachi and underneath it, Watashi wa Omi no tomodachi, in a hand that was surer, but no older. Though long gone, the image of this other piece of paper has been burned into Omi's memory. He would never have handwriting that clean and elegant, no matter how many times he practiced, and he would never understand how words worked as well as the person who had written those words did.
"'No' is a word that means ownership," a little boy with curly hair had said, and Omi's much younger self had laughed because to him, "no" had only ever meant "not yes." But the boy had pouted at him.
"This is not like English! Now pay attention. You use 'no' between two nouns, A and B," the curly-haired boy said, drawing two lettered circles on the paper he shared with his friend. Between these two circles, he placed the character for "no." "When you do this, you are saying that B is owned by A."
He wrote the kanji for "watashi" above the circle marked A, and the two characters for "tomodachi" above the circle marked B, then said: "Watashi means 'I.' Tomodachi means 'friend.' Joined with the character 'no,' this phrase means 'my friend.'"
But it didn't make much sense to Omi until Kaoru wrote "Omi is my friend" in Japanese, then prompted him to write the reciprocating sentence on his side of the paper. "Kaoru is my friend." After they accomplished this, Kaoru wrote "I am Omi's friend" on his side, and when Omi hesitated, Kaoru wrapped his writing hand around Omi's and helped him form the proper response.
This had been Omi's first important lesson about ownership: you don't really understand it until someone takes you by the hand and shows you how it's done.
In Omi's young mind, he was always a slow learner. However, Kaoru had pointed out that he had difficulty learning only because he was not being taught in a language he considered his own.
"It'll be hard," Kaoru had warned him, "but you're not too old to learn. Besides, I'll help you." He let go of Omi's hand, and looked down at him, his bright eyes laughing. "Tomodachi dakara. It's as simple as that!"
Omi spent the rest of his grade school years relearning how to read, write and speak, like a toddler discovering the world for the first time.
With Kaoru constantly at his side, he danced from object to object, demanding to know all their names, all their relationships, all their possible functions. Kaoru was patient, though being frail in body he couldn't always keep up, and Omi's enthusiasm seemed to tax him sometimes. At times it even seemed he was drawing Kaoru away from very deep thoughts, and he wasn't sure what to feel.
Whenever this happened, Omi sat beside Kaoru quietly while he rested, turning everything new he'd learned over and over in his head. And while he was beside Kaoru, the world he used to know melted away. He forgot that he used to be in this strange place without anything to hold on to, surrounded by a sea of strange faces, wishing more than anything that he could go home.
Thoughts of what "home" was faded gradually. Where else could he have wanted to be? Whenever he asked himself this, he realized he could barely remember.
Kaoru helped him with his homework, with the very rigorous process of communicating with other people. Omi soon showed a talent for computers that astounded everyone, even Kaoru himself.
"You don't talk to computers like you do to people," Omi had once said to Kaoru, in heavily accented Japanese. "Across countries, many programming languages are similar. Once you've grasped the basic... syntaxes" - he didn't know what the Japanese equivalent of that word was, so he just let it stand - "you can easily grasp the differences. But when it comes to speech, you need to consider body language, customs, mannerisms, individual quirks - it's a lot more difficult."
But it wasn't at all difficult, for Kaoru. Even at a young age, Kaoru was fluent in different tongues: French, Italian, English, Japanese.
When speaking with other people he was poised, confident, extremely diplomatic; he could argue his way to the top of every debate, make anyone do anything he wanted. How he spoke, how he looked, how he conducted himself - they were all part of his finery.
Unlike Omi, Kaoru couldn't stop himself from shining out; while he had many admirers, he also made many enemies. Alas, not having grown up with much to hurt him, he failed to acknowledge the presence of danger until its claws were on his throat...
But the very thought of his friend coming to harm made Omi seethe, dredged up something primal and dark inside his heart. No one would harm what was his. No one would even come close to it.
And Omi knew that Kaoru had been protecting him. He'd been isolated and bullied when he first came to Japan, but when he became close to Kaoru, it was as if he'd gained instant respect. He was Kaoru's friend - no one should touch him, lest they bring down the wrath of Kaoru's retinue and grown-up protectors upon their heads.
Omi recognized an important use of possessives: while they belonged to each other, nothing could hurt them.
But in middle school, Omi learned another important lesson on possessives: they are not mutually exclusive. A may belong to B, but B may not always belong to A. Additionally, A may belong fully to B, but B may hold back part of itself from A, unbalancing the relationship.
He knew this, technically, in grade school. A pencil could belong to you, but you certainly don't belong to the pencil; the pencil has no sense of ownership, no responsibility to behave toward you in any form or fashion. You may consider an animal your pet, but even while you take care of it, it may have another master - or even a set of masters - toward whom its loyalties lie. In a sense, the things you consider your own are no one's property but their own; you only claim ownership. They are not obliged to acknowledge or reciprocate.
However, if you are capable of rational thought, you may allow yourself to be owned by someone or something else... and once you have, your decision is inviolable. No person or circumstance can overrule it.
This is the very essence of possession.
Middle school was supposed to be easier. Omi was already able to converse with other people confidently in straight Japanese; he was also making headway in his studies. He and Kaoru were already making plans: they would be attending the same high school together, then going on to college together, and hold office in the same prefecture, so they'd be able to room in together and finally be able to do grownup things - like stay up late, buy as many books and videogames as they wanted, and not deal with parental pressure.
Then the whispering began.
It wasn't anything blatant. No one said anything to their faces. And yet it was - isn't it weird how Saionji-kun always orders Shichijou-kun around? Or how Shichijou-kun always seems to hang around Saionji-kun like a lovesick puppy, looking helpless and lost if Saionji-kun isn't around? It's not right, don't you think so? Friends don't act like that. And they're both boys too... I wonder if anything's going on.
Omi used to pretend he heard nothing.
But then, Kaoru started staying away.
It was just calls not being answered, at first. He would try to find a way to confront Kaoru about them, going the roundabout way, such as "Is your phone broken?" Kaoru would stiffly reply, "No, it's fine," and that would end the inquiry.
Then Omi learned from someone else that Kaoru had joined the economics club at school without telling him. They'd always joined the same clubs, before then. And when he couldn't be roundabout about this, Kaoru looked cross; "Stop being childish. I don't have to tell you everything."
Omi knew he could handle this, because even if two hours of Kaoru's daily schedule were taken up by the economics club, he was at least in a safe and very public club room, so Omi didn't have to worry about him getting hurt. He still waited for Kaoru through the remainder of the day, so they could leave school together. But Kaoru seemed displeased by this, and would be terse and cold while Omi desperately tried to strike up a conversation during the long walk home.
Finally, Kaoru took to lying about his schedule.
And Omi had to understand.
He had to hide his disappointment, of course; it would have been childish to do anything else. Kaoru was only doing what he had to do. Who knew for certain what was going on in Kaoru's mind? He would always be one step ahead of Omi, and he would never do anything without good reason.
Perhaps he didn't hate Omi - he just couldn't stand being around him as often as he used to. No matter what, Omi would greet Kaoru with a smile and a nod when they passed each other in the hallway. After a while, Kaoru finally took to nodding back. And Omi let himself believe he saw pain on his face.
And he learned not to call Kaoru first anymore, unless they needed to talk about something important for school. He learned how to take the painful silences of the phone not ringing, the familiar voice not calling his name. And even if there was anything that didn't make sense, he learned to stop running to the only person he knew who might have all the answers.
In middle school, Omi learned how to hide his true feelings.
Those, at least, he's sure are his own.
At the end of middle school, Omi reached a decision: he was flying back to San Francisco, or going off to France, to join his father. Then either he would start working for his father, or else attend high school and university somewhere else. He would set about making a new life for himself, alone.
Anywhere but home.
The opportunity to announce this decision never came up. That is, until Kaoru called Omi over to his house, and showed him the platinum paper, the invitation to enroll. The invitation was from Bell Liberty Academy - the most prestigious high school in the country.
Kaoru's face looked grim, almost anxious.
"This is very good news," Omi said softly, smiling. "Congratulations."
Kaoru asked if he'd received a letter of invitation as well. Omi simply shook his head. He waited for Kaoru to say something, but Kaoru was looking down at the tabletop, the expression on his fair face dark.
"But it's all right," Omi assured him.
"How is it all right?" Kaoru challenged without looking up. "We won't be together."
After a thoughtful pause, Omi answered "It's not important - "
"What are you saying? Do you want this?"
It wasn't the sort of reaction Omi had expected. He was about to reply again, but Kaoru slammed his fists down onto the table. "No!" Kaoru said firmly. "I won't let you be taken from me!"
While Omi sat silent, hiding his feelings away, Kaoru issued a request - an unusual request, though Kaoru was used to asking things from him. And because Kaoru was the one who asked, it was terrible, and it was impossible to refuse.
"Three lumps of sugar, right?"
He looks up, and Kaoru is standing beside him, smiling down at him the way he always used to. He reaches for the cup of coffee he's being offered.
"Thanks," he says, and the smile on his friend's face grows wider.
When this is over, Omi thinks, we'll be together. Kaoru is taking an enormous risk, too. But because we belong to each other, neither of us will be hurt.
(This isn't entirely true, of course: Kaoru could be hurt. Kaoru, who belongs to no one, has entirely too much to lose. But while Omi is around, he could prevent that from happening.)
He doesn't need to open his box too many times. He keeps the words inside his heart: I am Kaoru's friend.
It would always be as simple as that.