Eden


- by Harukami

The last thing he remembered as he fell was a face, beautiful world, streaming tears.

When he came to, he was in a garden with no memory of who he was, and with a desire to die. Looking at his hands gave him no clues to himself, nor did trying to talk. His voice, hoarse, male, was not his to his mind; he didn't know the sound of it. Lips split as he tried to find himself, blood oozed, the taste of it sharp and familiar, oh so familiar. His throat felt of screaming.

He couldn't stand, at first, and collapsed back into the loam, plants embracing him too-familiarily. There, scent of rich dirt in his nostrils, he had a moment to think.

Beautiful hips swayed in his mind, lithe body moving perfunctorily here and there. Male, sharp angles of the body attested to that, but so beautiful. That last face, that last world.

He knew that person, and knew he knew that person, but couldn't remember the voice that went with it. Couldn't remember any words or any being.

Who is he?

He didn't know.

Who am I?

Again, nothing.

Who are we?

That was the question. Emotions welled up and he screamed, clawing at the dirt, hurting indefinably far inside.

******

"Doctor?"

Chris bit his lip as he watched the doctor debate how to answer. That was the problem with being young while not being young; you lost and you knew what you lost.

The doctor finally answered. "He may never wake up. I'm sorry, young man."

******

As the man explored his new territory, he found nothing but plants. More varieties than he recognized, all smelling different, all being different... but nothing else. An empty land without his world.

With nothing else to anchor him, all his focus narrowed onto that other man. So many emotions surrounded that one slender figure that they would have undone the man, had he not already been undone. Sometimes he screamed obscenities at the absent figure, ripping at the plants around him, destroying while screaming, not even knowing the name of the person he loathed. Other times he remembered those swaying hips, smiles that turned tinted lips upward, and he'd sink to the dirt in his ecstacy and need, watering the plants with his semen, tears streaming down his face. Tears, yes, he would cry when screaming and cry while touching himself and aching to be touched. He could never remember afterward if he was crying for himself or for that other. The Only Other.

And sometimes, spent from one or the other, he would stretch out, staring up at the moving clouds, breathe in the scent of the loam and the flowers, and talk. With no names, no identities, he had little to say, but sometimes bursts of insight or thoughts would come and go.

"If you cried, why did you let me go?"

Was one.

"Come find me,"

Another.

And a third: "It's not fair."

******

"Nii-chan..."

Chris visited daily.

"I'll become you, Nii-chan."

******

Willing himself to death didn't seem to work. He begged the plants for his name, for the Other's name. He explored what territory he had with an empty heart, focussed on gold eyes. Or were they violet? Memory gave both.

Seasons didn't seem to pass there, but sometimes plants would blossom and sometimes they wouldn't.

Eventually, he found what was almost a room. No, it was a room, a room curtained off by blossoming vines and by the feeling that he shouldn't be there. There was even a table, rock, with chairs, also rock. An apple sat in the middle of the table. One of the chairs was occupied.

"You are making yourself sick," the Other said, lips tight and angry, legs crossed at the ankles under silk garments. "I had hoped you were more mature than that."

A hallucination? The man found his voice. "You left."

A sigh, a look of sudden pain. Suddenly, the table was set. "Keiji-san, let us have tea."

Was that his name, then? It sounded familiar to the man, to 'Keiji', but not that familiar. He frowned, angry, not sitting. "I don't want your fucking tea!"

Nevertheless, the Other sipped his own cup, while the second cup sat at the second place, steaming. "This is why it is forbidden, Keiji-san." He gestured around with an elegantly manicured hand.

"Why what is?" Though he'd spoken to himself, he wasn't used to much conversation, and his voice was hoarse. His throat felt as if it was bleeding, matching his heart.

The Other continued, as if the man hadn't spoken. "We cannot mesh, humans and myself. Either you would forget, or there would be nothing but obsession. Had you known who you were, and I had still left, what would you do?"

He didn't even need to know who he was. "Look for you."

"For how long, Keiji-san?"

'Keiji' was suddenly angry. Loathing or loving, he had never imagined the conversation like this. "Forever, damn it! Until I found you again! Any possible way, fuck, even impossible ones."

The Other nodded, a smile playing wryly around his lips. "That is why you are the Keiji, of course." His eyes darkened. "Grow up. Wake up." He gestured again at the garden. "Move on or you will be stuck here forever."

"So?" he sounded petulant, and knew it.

"Saa..." Almost distractedly, the Other ran fingers through his own shoulder-length hair. "It is true, there are always younger ones, always children who will take over. The world works in circles, and if you are not there, someone else will take your role, just as someone else will take mine. But you will be alone."

'Keiji' lunged, grabbed a thin wrist in his hand. "You're here."

The gaze was cold again. "You give me no reason to stay."

Raising a hand to strike the Other, 'Keiji' realized, all too suddenly, that the wrist was in his grasp. That mis-matched eyes were widening, alarmed. That this was no hallucination. Violence fled as his fingers tightened on that touch of flesh. "You're here!"

"Keiji-san!" The Other sounded a bit flustered. Tinted lips gaped for a moment as the slenderer man tried to find his composure. "Yes, but only because it is because of me that you are here, and you must forget me--"

"Forget you!" 'Keiji' snorted and earned another flummoxed expression. "You think this is your fault, don't you? Heh." He grinned. "Maybe it's your fault I'm in this ... place. Maybe, I don't know. I can't remember. But I know that for as much as I can remember, you've been the only important thing to me here. I don't know who I am; the only thing that's remained for me is you. How much I hate you."

Hurt flashed across the Other's face, too raw to hide, however fast it fled.

'Keiji' let his tone soften. "And how much I love you. Whatever things really are... you can't try to take my feelings away from me. I earn my own feelings, goddamn it."

He could remember the hidden grief on the Other's face as he'd fallen.

Been pushed.

His own expression darkened. "And you ran away from me!" He slapped the Other once, perfunctorily, not hard enough to leave a red spot. "You LEFT because you weren't satisfied with my earned feelings!"

The Other's hand ripped free from his with a violent motion. Tea spilled, pooling around the apple. "You know nothing!" Despite the violence of the Other's actions, the look on his beautiful face was near tears. "It never works -- it can never work!"

"Try," the man said, and smiled as the Other's eyes widened. Somehow, he felt once more on familiar ground. Self-assured, he picked up the apple and raised it to his lips. "I think I'm ready, now."

Reaching for him, the Other was frozen in the act of reaching for him... then slowly straightened, face calm, arm falling to rest at his side.

Leon bit into the apple.