Two boys of similar height passed one another in the hallway, their eyes catching the other's briefly before they continued on without a second glance. Kedo brushed his slightly darker hair out of his face, mostly trying to sooth the furrowed brow he was afraid showed.
Shihei, who's hair was a couple tints lighter than the other boy's had walked in the opposite direction, his hands stuffed into his pockets as he stepped confidently to the end of the hall.
Both lived separate lives, having no contact other than the odd catch of a glance now and then. But once upon a time there was more than a flick of the eyes and an emptiness of emotional expression upon the two. Though neither spoke of it and tried to not think about it, they could both recall vividly the happy past filled with fun and laughter that they shared together. Once best friends and now distant acquaintances, their only existence in one another's life was within the sturdy walls of the high school.
A chair screeched against the floor as Shihei took a seat, the bell ringing as he leaned back to get more comfortable for the long minutes of class. He turned to look at the person next to him and began talking, his eyes flashing up in the middle of his friend's words. Kedo entered the room and took a seat on the other side of the room, not even giving Shihei any notice. He sat alone, talking to no one and Shihei kept looking at the boy studying the music sheets before him, trying to keep his attention on his rambling friend.
The teacher entered the room and cleared his throat to indicate to the class it was time to quiet down and begin. Kedo looked up from his sheets, Shihei turning to the front. Though they became different people, they shared one true passion and that was their love of music. More specifically they both enjoyed singing and as children would put on fun little shows for their parents and eventually attended music lessons together. But now only this single classroom was what brought their passions together and their voices never were harmonized as one for years. Shihei frowned, remembering the smile he used to feel near his long ago friend, but was certain he would never feel again.
Kedo remained focused on the middle aged man standing before the room of teens, recapping the previous lesson. His deep brown eyes began glazing over, his force of attention allowed his mind to easily grab hold and drag him into the past and to the boy that seemed farther than he was, though no other students existed to Kedo at that moment.
Shihei felt a finger jab his arm, snapping him out of his daydream and back to the classroom. He shot up from his seat, realizing the teacher watching him. "Welcome back from your sleep." The man grinned as giggles radiated through the room. Shihei lowered himself back into his seat, slouching to hide the embarrassment in his face. "As I was saying to sleeping beauty there," The teacher waved a hand to hush the rising giggles. "You will do a duet for the festival concert we've agreed to do."
"Really?" Shihei perked up, forgetting his desire to hide from the embarrassment. "Wa...wait, a duet?" Excited to be chosen to sing for their class's school festival project, he had nearly missed the word duet, meaning two.
"I do believe that's what I said." The teacher crossed his arms, though he wasn't really annoyed by the lack of attention from Shihei. "Kedo will sing with you."
Shihei stared at the teacher before looking at the boy whose brown eyes were already on him. "I hope there won't be a problem?" The two simultaneously turned, Shihei shaking his head as Kedo spoke. "No, sir." Students began talking amongst one another when the teacher asked for song suggestions. Shihei found himself slowly looking back at Kedo who had his attention elsewhere.
By the end of class, Shihei was even more distraught after the girls over ranked the boys and chose some sappy pop romance song for the festival, the teacher feeling it would be more appealing to a wider audience range than anything the boys tried to suggest. "My life is over."
"Maybe you should have taken drama." Shihei leaned his head, covered by his own arm onto his friends shoulder as they walked down the hall.
"What's that suppose to mean?" Still holding his arm in place, he looked up, shooting a pouty, angry face at his friend who only smirked. "Some friend you are. I'm in agonizing pain and you're making fun of me."
"Please it's just a song. Besides girls dig guys who sing romance." Shihei shoved his friend and stopped to cross his arms as the other boy stumbled sideways, laughing as he caught himself and stood properly. "Geez, do you really hate him that much?"
"What?" Shihei had looked away, turning back to his friend with wide eyes. "This has nothing to do with Kedo."
"Sure." Still smirking, the other boy stepped closer and hooked an arm around Shihei's neck, forcing him to slouch slightly. "Let's go eat, i'm starving." The two began walking down the hall fading out of their short conversation. "Oh I hope Chiho has those cookies again."
"I swear your brain is a second stomach." Shihei's top lip pushed up on one side, trying to show disgust that his friend was more interested in food than anything else. His mouth dropped when they approached a small group of boys and tried to avoid contact with the brown eyes he couldn't help looking into.
Days passed and Shihei was glad the practice for the concert took place with the entire class there. However, his heart sunk when the teacher requested the two vocalists to return after school to continue practicing. The two students and teacher were the only three in the room, most of the school deserted from eager teens wanting to escape the building and run about the city to enjoy leisurely activities. "Ok good, but Shihei, your fading out on the fourth line." The sheet in Shihei's hands wrinkled from his tight grip, his eyes rising to the teacher. A knock resounded on the single door and another male teacher leaned in. "Sorry to interrupt, but there's a call for you." Shihei's paper dropped to his legs as the teacher stood from where he sat atop his large desk. "Continue. I'll be back." With a quick command the man exited the room, leaving Shihei and Kedo alone, in silence.
"Let's go over the chorus." Kedo's voice was calm and Shihei sensed un-familiarity in the words and felt the Kedo he once knew was not the Kedo before him, but a new person he only knew as a schoolmate. They continued as instructed by the teacher, not realizing the long absence of the man who left nearly an hour ago.
"Maybe one of us should go find him." Shihei looked up at the large round clock above the front board. His eyes moved to Kedo who now sat where their teacher had.
The sheet from Kedo's hand glided a few inches across the desk as he placed it down. "I have to head home, so I'll stop by the office and let him know." He didn't look at Shihei, only slid off the wooden surface and headed to the door. Shihei's mouth dropped open, but the other boy was already gone.
The image of Kedo's back leaving the room remained in Shihei's mind all night. The words and actions of the other boy seemed more than reasoning, but an excuse to leave the situation he felt uncomfortable with, leaving Shihei with a cold shoulder freezing into his mind. This only added to the scar inside him that the person who once was his best friend had no concern for his existence any more. Losing someone dear to you hurts and even more when they are still in your life, though unwilling to be a significant part of it. Shihei stared up at the ceiling above his bed, the room dark, other than the clock that glowed the numbers of midnight. Sleep just would not come and Shihei knew he was thinking too much which made him restless and the cause was Kedo. He tried to think back on what exactly caused the two inseparable friends to become this way, but that moment in his life seemed to be a blur.
Kedo walked into the music room, which was empty other than Shihei, who sat in a front row chair, staring blankly at the board. "Shihei." He snapped his attention to the new figure in the room, staring for a few moments before he even realized. "Did you come to practice?"
"Well...Yeah." He watched the other boy drop a bag onto the large front desk and dig out a folder. "Actually I was wondering..." Kedo turned to look at Shihei, making him more nervous about his burning question. "About what happened?"
"What do you mean?" Kedo tilted his head slightly, intrigued, yet confused by the random question. The two had never spoken, unless need be and never about something not pertaining to school.
"I mean us." Kedo turned away, opening the folder he left on the wooden desk. Shihei felt uneasy by the action, but the question throbbed within his mind, begging for an answer he knew he had to get, even if by force. "Why did we stop being friends?"
"You really can't remember?" Shihei's eyes widened, not expecting a question in return. His mouth opened, trying to think back to anything that might hint at what happened. "If you can't remember, it's best to leave it that way."
Shihei shot up from his seat, causing the chair to wobble, noisily falling back to a crooked position. "I want to know."
"Obviously you don't, or you wouldn't have let yourself forget." The folder was closed and Kedo swung his bag onto a shoulder, with the folder in his hand as he headed to the door. "I guess erasing your memory is the only way to forget hurting someone." Shihei stared horrified at Kedo's back leaving the room. Did he really hurt Kedo, his best friend, and then forced the memory from his mind so he wouldn't suffer from the guilt. Whatever happened occurred years ago, but the pain was still in Kedo's heart.
Shihei was lost in his thoughts, trying desperately to remember what happened. When he arrived home he looked under his bed to where an old scrap book was hidden. He opened the book to where a photo of him and Kedo with an arm around one another was centred on the page. The other pages contained messes of stickers and papers, photos and odds and ends of gross things they thought were keepsakes. Shihei's brow pinched together, all the pictures reminding him of what he lost, but giving no clue to the reason. Unable to look at the sad images, he slapped the book shut and dropped it on his bed then headed downstairs.
An older woman sat in the living room, knitting. Shihei raised an eyebrow to his mother's hobby, never really understanding the fun in hooking yarn around two long needles. "Hey mom." He dropped into the soft chair near where she sat and looked at her son. "You have a good memory right?"
She went back to knitting. "I'm not that old. I still remember things." Shihei looked at her quizzically, his mind too focused on his question to grasp her repute from his apparent insult. "Then do you know what happened between Kedo and me?"
Her needles lowered to her lap. "Not entirely." Her face was solemn and he felt a dark mood overtake him. This did not seem to be heading in a good direction. "All I remember was you came home crying and ran into your room. Ever since that day you two never spoke again and you never spoke about what happened." She picked up her needles and began working at her knitting again. "You two were the closest of friends. You even tried to run away with him to the treehouse when I told you to come home one night."
Shihei smirked when the memory of that day came back to him. "Something bad must have happened for you two to stop talking." He looked at his mom who fiddled with the yarn and needles. "That's what i'm trying to find out."
"You can't remember?" Shihei shook his head, a frown overtaking his face from the loss of such an important moment in life. "Kedo said I hurt him." He quickly looked at his mother who was now focused on him. "You said I was crying, right?"
She nodded her head and Shihei looked away, trying to piece together his small clues to figure out what was now a puzzle to him. How could he come home crying when he hurt Kedo. What could have happened to not only cause Kedo pain, but cause Shihei to feel hurt as well. Something bad definitely happened and Shihei could feel his heart aching from the thought he may have caused a great friendship to fail.
The only two people who had any information either knew little enough to help or didn't care to help remind Shihei. But one thing he knew was he regretted losing the person most meaningful to him. Figuring out what happened would be the only way to fix the broken past and Shihei was desperate. His memory became his main priority and everything else was pushed aside. Nothing seemed to remind him or even give him anymore clues to remembering and Shihei soon felt it was hopeless.
During practice, Kedo seemed distant and ignorant to Shihei even being in the room, which didn't go unnoticed by the avoided boy. Kedo's voice, which often was soft and peaceful held a hint of anger and Shihei knew he had brought about the hidden emotion. "Kedo." He jogged to grab the boy's arm. "Can I talk to you?" The brown eyes fell sharply on him, but the arm remained in Shihei's hand. He stared firmly back, trying not to back down or he would get nowhere with his search. "Was it something I said?"
Kedo managed to understand, which Shihei was thankful for not needing explain. He was so caught up in getting an answer he blurted out his question quickly, forgetting to remind Kedo what he was asking about. But having a lack of communication other than that specific topic made things clear enough for the other boy. "No, you didn't say anything." His voice was harsh and Shihei released the arm still in his grip.
Kedo turned to walk away, but Shihei regained his stature. "Have you ever wanted to go back?" The boy paused, his back to Shihei. "It would have happened eventually, but I hoped things ended differently."
Shihei turned after Kedo continued walking and headed in the opposite direction. "Oh Shihei." His mother walked out from another room as he walked further into the small apartment they had moved into a few years ago after his father left. "I found a picture today. Thought you might want it." She held out a rectangular shape to him and he took it, sliding onto a kitchen stool.
There were several kids in the photo, posing as a banner hung in the background with the words graduation. Off to the side two boys were together, smiling brightly. Though everyone was squished together, they in particular seemed the closest of all. The image brought a frown to Shihei's face, until he studied the details of the younger image of Kedo and himself, noticing as he was screaming with delight, Kedo's hand was grasped in his own. Something about their hands, Shihei could not remember, but felt a sudden warmth. The blur of the day their friendship came to an end rushed into his mind, which had taken place only a week after the photo was taken. The summer before they entered the same high school for their first year was the most devastating to Shihei, yet that one memory wasn't clear enough for him to understand.
He hummed the tune of the song he was to sing the next day on stage. He tapped his pencil on his desk, slowly breaking out into the lyrics. He was confident that he was prepared for the concert, the only thing that worried him was standing next to his ex-best friend. "I miss hearing you sing." Shihei looked up to see his mother in the doorway of his bedroom. "You should get some rest for your big day tomorrow."
"It's just a school festival. Nothing that big." Shihei stood from his chair and grabbed the door knob, bidding his mother a goodnight before shutting the door. He lay in bed staring at the picture in his hand of him and his friends at their junior high graduation. His eyes falling to Kedo holding his hand. His eyes shot open and looked around, realizing that it was still night, not bothering to look at his clock, which would only disappoint him from losing sleep. His head fell back on the pillow and he touched his forehead, feeling the sweat. The dream that stirred him from sleep replayed in his mind. A young Kedo stared painfully at him, his mouth moving, though no sound was heard. The scene flipped to another boy, holding a hand over his mouth, with wide eyes. Shihei could see the younger version of himself begin crying as he turned to run. This wasn't just a dream, but the memory he was so desperate to remember. But as he tried to dissect the details trying to understand how him running away crying had hurt Kedo, Shihei rolled over hearing a crinkle and pulled the old photo from under his body. "What did I do?" His eyes looked at Kedo's, trying to find an answer in the photographed face.
His eyes opened again, this time to daylight. Shihei sat at the edge of his bed trying to recall the dream when Kedo's words floated back into his mind. 'No, you didn't say anything'. "What did you want me to say?"
"A good morning will do." Shihei looked up to see his mother leaning against the door frame, smiling gently to him. "You better get up or you'll be late."
Shihei turned to the clock and slowly stood, not interested in rushing. He pulled on some decent clothes and headed downstairs to where his mother was waiting, garbed in a nice dress with heels and makeup done. "I take it you're coming to the concert."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world." She smiled, fussing with her hair in a large square mirror near the door.
"Funny, cause I would." The older woman turned to her son, only hearing some inaudible whisper that he waved off pretending to have said nothing. They headed out the door together, the sun already bright in the spring sky. They sat next to one another on the train, Shihei looking around at the other passengers before finally turning to his mother. "Say, mom. If I told you something that made you run away, what could it be?"
"I'm your mother. The most you'll get from saying the wrong thing to me is a smack across the head." She let out a quiet laugh, Shihei rolling his eyes. She was more of a good friend to him than she ever was a mother, which he enjoyed because they had a good relationship that he depended on a lot.
"Not exactly what I meant. I mean if someone told you something and you ran, but that ended up hurting them..." He sighed, feeling more that he was talking to himself than another person.
"Well your father walking off made me sad and hurt inside." Shihei looked to his mother who held a smile on her face, though she was recalling painful memories. "Heartaches last a long time."
"What?" His eyes were wide, thoughts rushing into his mind. The photo, the dream, the lost friendship, Shihei began to feel he didn't hurt a friend, but someone who loved him. "It can't be." His mother stared at him completely lost in his own world. The train finally came to their stop and they walked through the station, neither speaking since the end of their conversation.
Shihei walked off, waving to his mother as he headed to where his classmates rehearsed backstage of the main auditorium. Most students from their class were on stage playing some instrumental versions of songs to work up to the main set. He walked over to where his friend stood, talking to another classmate. "Shihei, you finally made it."
"They already started." He looked around, noticing the busily preparing group scurry about, some students from his class and others who were going to show a play a short while after. Shihei wasn't nervous having performed in front of audiences before, so didn't worry too much, unlike others who wanted to insure they wouldn't mess up. His friend walked off, leaving Shihei alone when he heard someone call his name. He turned to see a girl wave to him. "Hi Rai."
"Perfect timing." She smiled, turning to the person next to her. "You're going on in ten minutes. Practice with Kedo, ok." Shihei tried to speak, but the girl ran off before he could get a word out, turning back to look at Kedo, who's brown eyes pierced Shihei.
"Are you nervous?" He blinked hard at the question as the two stared at one another. Shihei's mind froze and he couldn't think of anything other than what he believed were the words Kedo told him long ago. "Shihei?" Kedo reached to touch his forehead, immediately thinking the other boy was sick.
"I don't have a fever." He grabbed the gentle fingers and pulled them from his forehead. "Let's just practice." He looked away, Kedo furrowing his brow from the odd actions of his duet partner. He finally looked down at his lyrics sheet and started singing, noticing Shihei wasn't interested though he sang the first verse. Shihei listened to Kedo's soothing voice sing of love long lost, but one line in particular hit him hard and he pulled Kedo's sheet down. "Did you really mean what you said?"
This time Kedo was lost, not realizing what Shihei was trying to get at with his random question. "I'm just singing the lyrics."
Shihei shook his head. "Before. When you said you love me." The lyrics sheet dropped to Kedo's side as he stared at Shihei.
"That was years ago." He pulled the sheet back up, trying to avoid further confrontation, but a hand firmly pushed the sheet down again. "Do you still feel that way?" Kedo refused to look up, but Shihei didn't move his eyes from him.
"Kedo, Shihei, we need you on stage." The girl from earlier ran near them, speaking loudly then walked off briskly, glancing back to see Kedo follow and Shihei watching before heading in the same direction. They stood on the stage where two microphones were prepared for them, other students in the background with instruments, adjusting their places to be more comfortable. Shihei and Kedo stood still, only the movement of Shihei turning his head to look at the boy next to him. A thick curtain was drawn aside to reveal a large audience, Shihei searching the many faces for his mother, but could only find those of unfamiliar parents and guests, including students.
Shihei twitched when the instruments began playing the tune and tried to focus on the timing of his lyrics. His voice was low, but audible enough, that the smooth melody of his voice wafted over the audience. His last note faded and Kedo took over, his voice more resilient and beautiful, Shihei instantly looked at him, but stepped back when the brown eyes flicked him a look as the voice sang words of returning a lost love, aching within the depths of his heart and soul. Shihei glanced away, a streak of red overtaking his face. He almost lost focus until Kedo's voice nearly disappeared, queuing the first chorus in which they were to sing together.
Shihei stared out over the audience, but to him there was no one there and the beat of his heart made him breath in deeply, releasing his voice so powerfully it overtook Kedo's, causing the other boy to glance over in surprise. Shihei's emotions melted into the words and he could feel every lyric a part of him as though he were telling the story of his life, begging to be with the one he truly loved, though fearful that one person was lost forever.
Shihei turned his back to the large crowd, his eyes watering, as Kedo took control of the next verse. His friend who was playing in the background of the stage gave him a look, which he ignored and turned around in time to take over the song. All Shihei could think of was finishing the song and running off stage, the song itself sending him a painful reminder.
Kedo's voice softened to the final words of love and Shihei looked at him, watching his serene face as the final note faded so romantically as though his very breath was taken away by his words of endearment. Shihei was overcome with emotions and as the set of lips touched back together, Shihei could only think of one thing and pressed his own to them. An uproar from the audience shot through the auditorium, shocked from the final display to the song. Their classmates knocked over chairs and turned to one another in surprise to the image of their vocalists locking lips not only before them but a room of parents and possibly half the school, plus some. But to Shihei, there was nothing but the sound of his heart beating to Kedo's, harmonized just as their voices were.