Chapter 16:

Gifted Are Those Who Create

X = Y

The year was 2018. After graduating from Metagawa High School, Meya, Kanda, and Kei celebrated with jubilation. Surrounded by their peers at school, influenced was their happiness, perhaps deceitful in that regard. Though, Kei had a feeling he could not shake off. His mood took dips and turns like the winding path of a road, unfurnished and unruly. He struggled against the emotional baggage that routed him, but those with a keen eye, and a profound, faithful understanding of Kei, noticed.Bookmark here

Kanda approached Kei with a kind, infectious smile. With a hand to the shoulder, Kei became enthralled by the firm grip he experienced. Startled by it, his eyelids retreated from his iris, and he turned around. Meya stood beside Kanda, and she smiled sweetly to remove any negative thoughts from Kei's mind. Unable to break the trust of his friends and the inseparable bond they shared, Kei smiled to requite the kindness he felt. What limited capability of positive emotions he had, he wanted to share it with those who cared.Bookmark here

"Anything the matter, Kei?" Kanda said.Bookmark here

"No. Nothing. It's the same usual things, but it's getting better." Responded Kei with a forced smile that broke down slowly.Bookmark here

"Celebrate with us! Everyone else is enjoying their time here, so why don't you?" Meya spoke directly from the heart.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I will!" Kei said with a happier smile than before.Bookmark here

At the same time, Rei was the pupil of a new Dojo. He practised alone in the garden. The emerald leaves rustled with the wind, and the trees danced to nature's melody. The birds hummed and created a resonating piece of poetry. The mountain that was visible from Seijiro's Dojo was closer to this one. Firm and resolute, its vision widened through the absence of clouds, and the sky was a clear blue.Bookmark here

Rei was wearing a completely black Jiu-Jitsu uniform with a black belt around his waist, barefoot. His feet sank into the ground, and his toes dug into it. The dirt gathered and created lumps that latched on like leech worms. His movement was fluid and elegant, discerning almost.Bookmark here

Muffled sounds of grunting and the smashing of feet against the floor rocked the air, and the ground, like small-scale earthquakes, propelled by the vehement intensity from human will.Bookmark here

Rei stopped moving and practising his single punches whilst shadow training. He stared into the clouds and deliberated on the existence of the techniques he had learnt and how they came to be. Wanting to understand the true meaning of Martial Arts, he reflected on the teachings of his Masters.Bookmark here

"Kendo. No, Kenjutsu. The truest form of swordsmanship that Master Kirihoshin taught me. The unwavering mind, body, soul and heart of a Samurai. The Bushido that comes with it. The honour and respect you show. The kind of person you became. The people who have helped you. The way of the sword. Protect them at all costs. Fight beyond yourself."Bookmark here

"Karate. The power of the empty fist that Master Osumi taught me. Self-discipline. Righteousness. Tranquillity. Calmness. Like flowing water. There is always a path a river travels through. There is always an end goal. Never attack first. Wait for the opponent to act. The way of the empty fist. Defend. Move. Counter. Strike."Bookmark here

"Taekwondo. The power of the legs and arms that Master Shibakawa taught me. The ability to freely move your arms and legs. To learn and adapt during critical situations. To build body strength and power. The way of the lower body. The art of truth."Bookmark here

"Jiu-Jitsu. Within it, the principle of Ju No Ri that Master Taba taught me. When the opponent pushes, you pull. When the opponent pulls, you push. The smaller person uses the power of the stronger person, their momentum, their speed, their physicality, against them. It is the way of flexibility, the right of adaptability. The gentlest of arts."Bookmark here

A frequent figure in Rei's life opened the door to the back of the Dojo. Slowly stepping, not wanting attention from the world around him. Unbeknownst to Rei, a hand touched his shoulder with great force. Not panicked nor threatened by the gesture, he turned around to see a visage — one that settled the aching tremor in his heart. A smile, so warm, so inviting, acknowledging his presence with respect and showering it in dignity. His soul flared, and the ashes in his heart withered away.Bookmark here

"Why are you alone, Rei?" said Master Shuzo Hokura.Bookmark here

"I was practising by myself. The way of Jiu-Jitsu is like Taekwondo. I was thinking about the Masters and what they taught me." Rei said with a smirk.Bookmark here

"What do you have left to learn from us?" Shuzo enquired.Bookmark here

"Judo and Boxing. Judo comes from Jiu-Jitsu, and Boxing is the ultimate way of the fist." Rei spoke with fascination and wisdom. "I came here during the winter. It's been nearly nine months since then. I'm eighteen now."Bookmark here

"Is that so. Then spend the rest of the time you have left here with your friends. They admire you dearly. Some of them watched you fight that night. Hiromitsu Tatemichi was the one who fought you. Has he apologised for what he did?"Bookmark here

"Have you apologised for what you did?" Rei smiled at Shuzo mockingly. "It's fine, Master. That's the first thing he did when he took me here from Master Taba's Dojo."Bookmark here

"How do you know? Did he tell you?" Shuzo spoke with a hint of astonishment.Bookmark here

"Of course they didn't tell me that the Masters told Takashi, Zanroke, Hiromitsu and the rest to attack me!" Rei allowed a moment to pass for that sarcastic joke to sink in for Shuzo. "I've forgiven them. What more could I do?" said Rei.Bookmark here

"True. You already did beat them up," said Shuzo in a light-hearted tone.Bookmark here

Both laughed at the expense of the students' Rei defeated that day, but they steered no ill will towards them.Bookmark here

Amidst commotion and noise, Kei and Kanda were standing in front of a house. One in the suburban town they inhabited. There, Meya stood wearing summer clothes. The same set she wore when Kei went to the cinema. Stagnant and perceptive, Kei stood there watching boxes picked up by people who were part of a moving service. Dejection enveloping himself, crushing his heart like a squeezed apple, and the crystalline rivers of vitality flowing out, Kei's emotions began seeping through his mien.Bookmark here

"You're moving today?" Kei spoke inquisitively to hide his dispirited attitude.Bookmark here

"Yeah. This is the last of it...I'm going to the university I always dreamed of with Abe and Risa. I'm pursuing my acting career. My father and mother are moving just for this, but he also found a better job in the city." She spoke softly but with mesmeric elegance and empathy.Bookmark here

"Maybe when you're done, we can get together again. Remember to stay in contact." Kanda added.Bookmark here

Kei's mind was nothing short of a dark landscape, filled with mountains of varying sizes. Insipid and bleak, the sky was black with a red outline that scarred the atmosphere. Fires spread, and rain drizzled down. Nothing made sense in his head. The only thing he understood was pain.Bookmark here

"Why are you acting like Rei doesn't exist..." He said whilst forming a fist with both hands. His upper body began to shake, and he started brooding. Tears formed and fell freely down his cheek. He spoke in an audible whisper.Bookmark here

"I...I didn't mean it like that." Kanda responded in a panic.Bookmark here

Kei wiped the tears with his sleeve.Bookmark here

"Sorry...sorry...Maybe I need some therapy sessions..." Kei said with faint speckles of sadness. He nearly regained his composure, but his pain began diffusing through the pores on his face.Bookmark here

"I could help you find some if you want. It shouldn't be too hard." Kanda said cordially.Bookmark here

Kanda looked at the sky, which caught the attention of Meya and Kei, who were bemused by the sudden shift in tone. They looked up at the sky, and Kanda turned around.Bookmark here

"What are you looking at, Kanda?" Meya questioned with a confused look. Kanda looked back at Kei.Bookmark here

"I've always wanted to tell you how cool you are for becoming a detective, Kei. It's the stuff you watch on television and wonder if you could do that. You have dreams about solving mysteries because of your admiration for the profession. Now that you're going to become a detective, I can tell people that one of my friends is one!" Kanda spoke with great respect, unlike anything Kei had ever heard.Bookmark here

"You're going to help people too, which is a huge positive!" Kanda added with a huge smile.Bookmark here

Perplexed by his words of kindness, Kei became sceptical.Bookmark here

"Where did all of this come from?" Kei spoke softly.Bookmark here

"I'm going to work at Tatashi Industrial. I'm going to become an apprentice for one of the higher-ups. He's like the one below the CEO. They were impressed with my skills in technology." Kanda said happily.Bookmark here

"Congratulations, Kanda!" Meya said in exultation.Bookmark here

"Yeah...Congratulations!" Kei's mood switched. He became supremely happy for Kanda. However, his mood quickly reversed. It plummeted to the ground faster than lightning. "Does that mean...I'm not going to see you or meet you again."Bookmark here

"Um...I have to move further into the same city Meya's university is in. I didn't want to worry you. We still have our phones. We can message each other..." Kanda said conscientiously.Bookmark here

Kanda knew that the way he structured his sentences, the notion and ideas he implied, along with the words he spoke, could sadden Kei and bring him back to the state he witnessed at the interview. It was like treading on spikes. If he were too reckless, he would trip. If he were too slow, he would tire.Bookmark here

The voice of a woman awoke Kei from his internal unrest.Bookmark here

"Meya! It's time to go now! Say goodbye to your friends!" Her mother shouted to get her attention.Bookmark here

"I enjoyed every moment I had with you two. Kei. Kanda. I believe that Rei will return! When he does, call me! I'll come straight away! Goodbye, Kei. Take care. Kanda." She ended it off with a smile that was so bittersweet for Kei.Bookmark here

Clamping his fists tightly, and staring at Meya walking away, generated a force of anguish to awaken from deep within Kei. Kei grabbed Kanda's arm with his left hand, forcefully walking towards Meya, dragging him along.Bookmark here

"Kei!" Kanda said in surprise. With his head down, Kanda couldn't see Kei's facial expression.Bookmark here

Kei finally approached Meya. Without her knowing, he grabbed Meya's right arm with his hand. Startled, she turned around to see Kei looking down with an angry expression. In horror, her eyes fixated on his face. She felt invited to look deep within his being, and when she did, nothing but dread, repugnant sadness, and torment made itself visible to her.Bookmark here

"Kei..." She said in worry.Bookmark here

"Please...don't go. I don't want to lose you! Not Kanda...not you...not Rei..." He spoke without tears. His body was drowning, his legs and arms become heavy, he felt incapacitated — immobilised. "Don't go..."Bookmark here

"Rei! What are you doing?!" The voice of a man echoed through the street in concern, with an inkling of anger.Bookmark here

"Rei..." Kei repeated.Bookmark here

He looked at Meya, who stared in abyssal horror. Life returned to his eyes, and he looked at what his hands were holding. He let go and looked at her once more.Bookmark here

"Dear! That's not shouldn't say that name near him..." Meya's mother reprimanded her father.Bookmark here

"Father! Why did you say that?" Meya screamed at her father in disapproval.Bookmark here

"No...It's fine. Goodbye, Meya." Kei spoke with his head down, unable to face Meya again.Bookmark here

"Goodbye...Kei." Meya's last words to Rei etched themselves into his memory.Bookmark here

She entered the car where her mother was in the navigator's seat, and her father was in the driver's seat. Sitting at the back of the car, she turned her head to look at Rei, and her concern grew the further they drove away.Bookmark here

Kei stood there, and his gaze was inexorable. Nothing could change it. His body was heavy, and his eyes were weary. His entire being was numb. Sorrow, grief, distress, suffering, he knew them too well.Bookmark here

He turned around and walked past Kanda without thinking to look at him. Kanda turned around and tried to talk. An atmosphere full of heartache, a feeling of desolation, pressed down on him. Not a single word could come out. His humanity was lost, with his mind taken over.Bookmark here

Thus, Kei had to accept the brutality of the world that detested his existence. Wishing his life never turned out this way, Kei knew it was futile to hope for his life to fix itself — to be better and for the pain to disappear like it never happened. It was now a part of him, and the part which made him human, the brother that loved him sincerely, was the hope he clung on to dearly.Bookmark here

Rei, the man destiny chose, would shape the future in its entirety. Known as the Catalyst of Creation, the Eternal Ruler, the World's Power, he would play a prodigious role than he could ever imagine.Bookmark here

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