This is a series of random shorts that help better explain the pasts and emotions of the characters from "Street Angel", mostly just because I adore writing about them. There will be ficlets focusing on various characters and in various time periods, and if anyone wants me to do one for a particular character, I will :3
This first one takes place in current times and is about Natarou and his older brother, Takashi, who is an okama.
"I just wish you wouldn't be so stubborn, Nata," Takashi tells me, moving in a slow circle so the skirt of his dress swirls out in a whirlwind of color. I keep my back flat against the wall and sigh, taking a long drag from my cigarette. The smoke swirls upward into air that smells faintly of pomegranate, and I watch it move in lacy blue tendrils, wafting and twisting until it becomes invisible.
"How am I stubborn?" it's times like these I just want him to shut up. I can barely stand to look into his stupid, makeup-covered face, let alone take him seriously. My brother hovers directly above me where I sit on the floor, and the ends of his long black wig tickle my cheeks. I brush the synthetic strands away and look up at him, trying not to allow irritation to overcome me.
"You silly thing! You're stubborn because you refuse to come visit me in my apartment, so I have to come and see you when you're on break from school… here," he waves his hands around our childhood home, as though I didn't know or something. I have a vague desire to punch him in the face. His stupid, girly voice and effeminate mannerisms when he's like this piss me off to no end. I wish he would just act normal, already. It's been nearly a year since he was hit by a bus and got a new lease on life, deciding to work nights as a drag queen. When he puts on those damn dresses he becomes a completely different person, one that I don't like. He is loud and flashy and gaudy, nothing like the brother who raised me.
"Maybe I would come to see you more if you weren't such a freak!" I reach up and grab the ends of his wig, pulling it off in one swift yank, revealing the shorter black hair beneath. I toss the offending mess of hair off out of my line of sight. I'm angry now, my infamous temper flaring up for no real reason, and I glare up into his dark violet eyes, challenging him.
"I'm a freak…?" he looks like he doesn't know whether to be offended or laugh. His face is doing a mixture between the two and I can tell he's baffled by my behavior. But who cares? So am I. I never understand my own reasoning or my own motivation, but it's a little to late to sit back and beg for forgiveness now. I just look up at him as his face changes back and forth between the two emotions. "Really?"
"Yes, really!" I don't mean to snap at him, but it comes out anyway in a stream of harsh words that I have no hope at controlling. Mom always tells me I take after my father in this respect, which is basically worthless knowledge to me because she still neglects to tell me who my father is. "What is with you? You're all normal one minute and the next you get hit by a bus and suddenly you're a woman half the time!? I don't… I just don't even want to look at you anymore, you know that!?" my words are cold wasp stings against his all-too fragile heart, and I see him falter, I see him fall in a way he only has once before, and that was when I was younger and I almost got hit by a train.
"Natarou…" his words trail off, and every ounce of flamboyant energy is gone from his body. I have done this; I have broken him so easily with just a single confession of anger. No one else can break him like this, and I know it. I'm his brother… the one who is close and closer, who he grew up with and had to help through everything. I know he has an almost doglike devotion to me, more fatherly than brotherly, and more intense than it should be. I don't know how I can stand to hurt him the way I do, or how I can even live with myself as I watch those deep violet eyes become listless and cloud with hurt. I know I should apologize, and I know it would help. But I just sit in the silence of the living room until he turns away and walks through the door, leaving me alone.
I can't stand the silence. I want to run after him and grab hold of that way-too-short dress, pull him back and make him stay. But instead I leave too, moving up the stairs and into my bedroom. The walls are a dark red that soothes me, but I can't even feel at home in this room anymore, not when I've become so accustomed to living in my dorm room at school. And for a moment I wonder, do I really belong anywhere?
I feel so low for allowing that thought to slip into my brain. I despise pity… especially self-pity. I grew up without a father, and my mother was forced to have both arms amputated when I was still an infant, so I've had far too much pity already. The thought of it makes me sick. I just want to be normal… as normal as an angel born on Earth can be, anyway. But Takashi stepped up and took the task of raising me right off the bat even though he was only eight years old at the time. It more than makes up for all the irritating pitying glances to have your hip older brother raising you.
Thinking all this makes me feel even filthier, even meaner. How can I treat him the way I do when he has always taken care of me? He has always been there, so close and concerned. He never once seemed bothered that his little brother had wings, which became clear because they started acting up far earlier than normal. Until I got to middle school and finally entered Niijiro Gakuin, I was ostracized at school because of my strangeness, because of those damned wings. But Takashi never seemed all that fazed by it, never called it a curse like I did. He just smiled and carried me home when my day had been long. He's always had such a way of making everything seem just a bit less horrible, and I always lash out at him in ways that I shouldn't.
Is it because I don't understand him? Getting into his head is impossible… he keeps everything locked away from me. Maybe, for all his openness, what little he hides behind that face is his pain. It hurts much worse to come to this realization, and I find my pillow to cover my face, hide my shame. But before I can even begin to swallow my disgust, he is there. He smells like cologne and he is wearing pants, his makeup washed away. His hand is warm and heavy on my hair and the tears are even heavier on my face.
"I'm so sorry…" I whimper, marveling at his ability to break me with tenderness as I cry like a baby, cry tears that no one at school will ever see. Everyone else sees only the toughness, the coldness, and the unmoving darkness of the angry goth who is a second-year in high school but smokes like an old man. But Takashi sees the raw, damaged part of me, as he always does. And he takes me into his arms and holds me as though I am still a child. "Taka, I'm sorry."
"I know," he whispers against my hair, and the essence of my brother's presence lifts the pain and guilt in layers too thin to see. "I know, Nata," he pets my hair tenderly, and he slowly rocks all the pain and the fight out of me in the silence. "You don't need to worry about it."
He is always tender with me, and his embrace presses away the unpleasant feelings. He always understands, always accepts me, and it makes me cry harder because I can't and won't do the same for him. I can't recognize that alien side of him that exists in the form of dresses and wigs, bejeweled with a gaudy layer of glitter and lipstick. It's a shallow thing to hold someone in contempt for. But he doesn't seem to care. He strokes my hair, kisses my cheek, and props me up in a sitting position.
"It's okay…" he whispers, and hands me a tissue. "I know that you're still trying to get used to my new job, but really, I'm still the same person," his familiar warm smile makes things seem a little better, and I lean against his chest. He pets my hair, picking up one of the red streaks and twisting it around his finger. "No matter what happens, Nata, I'm still Takashi. You don't need to worry."
"I'm such a jerk…" I mutter, sitting back and regaining my composure. Grinding the tissue into small bits after I wipe away the tears that still cling to my cheeks, I look up at my older brother. "I have wings, and you still love me and see me as normal. And then you put on a dress and suddenly I can't even look at you anymore. What's wrong with me?" I feel my hands balling into fists. "Why am I such a shallow asshole?"
Takashi stands up, taking my hand and pulling me to my feet too. He guides me over to the mirror on the back of my door, and he pulls me closer so both our reflections appear. "You're not shallow," he assures me. "You're just a teenager. Someday you'll grow up and you'll realize that the things you agonize over now are much less horrible than you think they are. But don't worry about it now. Just be glad that you've got a brother who loves you so much," I can see him grinning playfully down at me in the mirror, and for a moment it's surprising how alike we look. I look like a younger, long-haired version of Takashi with piercings and red streaks in my hair.
"Yeah, yeah," I push him away, and I actually smile back. Sometimes his affection is embarrassing, but right now it just makes me feel better. His hand rubs lovingly at my hair, and he grins down at me.
"Do you want to go get something to eat? Mom should be home soon, and she probably already ate at work," he brushes his pitch-black bangs from those dark violet eyes. "We could get crepes if you want."
He should know better than to tempt me with French pastries, but I just smile anyway. I put on my jacket and we head downstairs, Takashi rambling on and me trying not to roll my eyes.
I guess it doesn't really matter if I understand my brother… that's not the important thing. All that matters is that I love him and he loves me.
Will update later…