X = Y
Tuesday the 11th of April, 2017. Kei was walking away through the hallways on the second floor of the building, past his homeroom class. Kazunori Mitsuishi, the captain of the Metagawa football, sat inside of a vacant classroom, isolated from his peers, with two of his friends.
He rested on his chair, leaning back, balancing on it, with his head gazing at the ceiling. His other friend in front sat on top of the desk, using his chair as a footstool. The friend to his right sat like Kazunori, this time, sitting sideways in his chair, staring at him.
"We weren't that bad, Kazunori." The friend in front said with a careless smile.
"Yeah. We were just underprepared...that was it." Said the friend to his right, nervously smiling.
"Our performance wasn't the best. We were a goal down by halftime, but we still lost. We scored four goals in the second half!" Kazunori Mitsuishi said in frustration and self-denigration.
Kei walked past their classroom whilst the door was open. Kazunori's face lit up like he had seen an angel. He grabbed his bag and darted out as rapidly.
"Where the heck are you going? Hey!" Said the friend in front with a startled look fraternised with concern.
He dashed towards the person who he assumed was Rei, slapping his hand onto his shoulder to stop him.
"Rei...Hey..." Under the pressure of losing the last game, Kazunori became hysterical and delusional. He had a smile on his face, but it shattered when the person turned their head around. Filled with remorse and sorrow, Kazunori let go and stood still, staring at Kei.
"I'm not Rei, Kazunori," Kei said with a face of sadness. "You're going to walk away because I'm not him, but I look like him."
"Kei. I didn't mean it like that." Said Kazunori, whilst he had a petrified face. He was trying his hardest to defend himself, but Kei's piercing eyes destroyed any prospects he had.
"I don't want to go off on you for mistaken identity. Everyone misses him. I always wondered how everyone would feel if I disappeared instead of him. Would they miss me? It's a paradox. After all, I would never know if they did miss me because I'm not there to see it. Then if I came back to see if I was missed, I would never get that feeling that they missed me because once they see me, that feeling dies." Kei rambled on, his words censuring Kazunori.
All both could think about was the day of the fire, the news that broadcasted Rei's fate, and the last time they saw him. Kazunori continued looking at the ground, and his mind began to break, piece by piece. The thought of the game, the memories he had with Rei, and Kei looking identical to him, tormented his existence.
Realising Kazunori was experiencing the same trauma, Kei walked up to him, settling his hand on his shoulders. Escaping his thoughts, startled by the light within the real world, Kazunori began sweating profusely, lifting his head to look directly at Kei.
"If you ever need me to play for the team, then I can. Rei's coming back. He's not dead. Do you know why? He made a promise to me. I'm getting back at them, and so is he, in our own ways. Take care, Kazunori." said Kei with a faint smile.
Kei removed his hand from his shoulders and walked away. He turned around to say something he had forgotten to mention.
"I've felt the same exact way you have. I'm just used to dealing with it. If you need advice on anything, then you can talk to me." Kei added as he spun around and cautiously wandered away.
"I can never escape that reality. I can't replace my brother, and I can't become him. Rei is unique, and so am I. I told him I hated it, but it's nice to see people still caring for him. I don't want to take his friends away from him and make them mine, only because I look like him. It's their decision, and I can't force them to. Now, time to get to work." Kei continued to walk down the hallways with piercing eyes akin to Rei's Sovereign Subjugation.
During that night, a student from the Taekwondo Dojo was returning from his trip to the Subterranean. He was wearing a black robe with dark blue stripes around the elbows, shoulders and hips, indistinguishable from the black in the night.
He wandered deeper into the forest when a dark figure appeared. It was holding a lit matchstick, partially illuminating the left side of its face. It had white reflective eyes but no pupils. Its head was distinguishable from the rest of the body as the fire made only his silhouette visible.
The student of Taekwondo stopped and stared at it. It turned its head slowly and rigidly to look at the fire adamantly, with passion and resolution behind its mesmerising eyes. It walked closer and closer as the Taekwondo student took a stance.
A shriek echoed throughout the forest. The last signs of life extinguished from that unsuspecting student.
The next day approached. Rei was inside of the Dojo, sitting on the sideline with Takashi Bizen. Many other Taekwondo sparring sessions and fights were occurring in front of them. Some were for promotion to a higher division, and some for fun.
"How old were you when you joined this Dojo?" asked Rei.
"How old? Every since I can remember, really. I didn't even know my parents. I'm an orphan. They're the best kind of people to pick up and train to become lethal fighters. You give them a purpose when they don't even have one, and that's the only thing they focus on. I'm not the only one. There are many more like me. They're my brothers in a way." Takashi spoke with a bright expression.
"I feel you. I get that. I don't really have a home to go back to. This is my home. I have someone I need to find, and someone I need to beat up." Rei said with a wondering expression.
"Oh, I get it. I asked Master Shibakawa if I could join the official Taekwondo team of Japan. The Olympics were last year, but I missed that. The Elders can sort anything out for you because they're with the fighting association, but it's a dream." added Takashi.
"I hope you get in. I'll watch you on the television when that happens! Hey, I may even be there to watch you fight in person!" said Rei with his goofy smile. Takashi began to laugh because of it, and so did Rei after relaxing his face.
A student burst into the Dojo and called for Master Shibikawa. He had a look of dread like he saw the reincarnation of death take form. Rei and Takashi were surprised by it, but their faces turned to shock when they heard what the student had to say.
A charred body was found within the forest, and stood beside it was Master Shibakawa, Rei, Takashi, and some students, including the messenger. The cloak that the student wore matched the colours of the Taekwondo Dojo. All of them were supremely devastated, having witnessed transgression.
"What happened...he was burnt to death...Do you know who he was? Who's missing from the Dojo?" Master Shibakawa began showing signs of panic. His actions became stiff, closer to rigid. His heartbeat increased, but he managed to stay composed.
"I-I d-don't know..." the student responded.
Rei walked up to the body, picking up the black cloak.
"Where are you going, Rei?" Takashi said with extreme concern.
Rei ignored Takashi and looked through the cloak. He found a note inside of it. He picked it out and opened the folded letter. He read it aloud to everyone. The letters that created the message resembled ash smothered onto the page.
"The monster is back. I will kill you all."
The wind picked up speed and spine-rattling shivers perforated through their bodies like the open fire in a forest. It crushed any optimism that they could have shown at that moment. Their courage? Enervated. Their thoughts? Anhilliated. Their hearts? Disintegrating.
"Takashi. Come with me to the Subterranean. We'll inform the other Masters and Elders at once. Whatever this is, it seems to have control of fire...the forest wasn't burnt down somehow. It's not impossible to think that a human could control fire...but enough of that. We must go. The rest of you go back to the Dojo." Hiroaki Shibakawa tried to formulate a plan as quickly as he could under the insurmountable pressure he faced.
"Yes, Master. Do you want to take the note with you?" Rei said, handing the note over to Hiroaki. "What do we do with the body?"
"Wrap it up on that cloak. Take it with you back to the Dojo, and honour it. The cleanest dirt and the best flowers...show them a final goodbye..." Hiroaki said with a stern look that was unlike him.
Everyone began to walk their paths assigned by Hiroaki. They would never forget the sight they saw, and some had their stomachs turned in more than others. The students who couldn't handle the smell or sight began to heave their insides out.
Rei remained firm in his stature and pose, manifesting bravery in hopes the others would follow. He created an air around him that negated any doubt about the situation. He was a pillar for the students that they could place their entire existence on for morale. That was the man that Rei became when he decided to honour a friend and a student resolutely.
Thus, at the sight of a friend who passed, and the memories intertwined with the destruction of his parents, at the hands of a gang perceived impossible to trace, Rei continued to learn, but with greater conviction and cavernous anger that lay dormant — accruing and ready to one day erupt without premonition.
With the clock ticking down for Kei, the time for him to witness the feeling of loss once more was beginning to create cracks in his life. The sinister essence of the man who infested his mind with the greatest atrocity in the world was ready to bear his fangs once more.