"You are freaking - heavier - than you look," Gotou huffed, depositing Masayoshi on the bed and staggering back a step, nearly smacking into the other bed. He sat down heavily on it, and Masayoshi laughed, on his back on the bed and staring at the hotel room's ceiling.(more)
He had jumped on Gotou in the hallway like a schoolkid, forcing Gotou to stagger the rest of the way to the room carrying his bag and Masayoshi on his back. (And, well, Masayoshi's bag too, since he was wearing his own duffel.) "I can pick you up," Masayoshi said, grinning at the ceiling.
"Pick me up, yes." Gotou flopped back across the second bed and let out of breath. "Bet you couldn't carry me down the hall like that."
Masayoshi propped himself up on his elbows. "Bet I *could.*"
Gotou rolled the idea around in his head and changed his mind. "No bet," he said. "I don't want my head cracked into a wall when we go over." He pulled himself into a sitting position, legs over the edge of the bed and facing Masayoshi. "Why the hell does the room have two beds anyway?" He kicked his leg across at the other bed, it wasn't far, his could rest his foot on it, so he kicked Masayoshi lightly in the shin.
"I don't know, I didn't book it." Masayoshi kicked him back without sitting up. "And I can too carry you. Blue was riding around on my back when he got drunk at the last event, and he has to outweigh you by at least ten kg."
Gotou furrowed his brow. "You let Blue ride around on your back?"
"'Let' is kind of -" Masayoshi wiggled his hand in the air and then shrugged. (less)
They didn't force us to have the telescreens. We bought them, all of them. All in different colors. A new one every 9 months. Upgrade. Upgrade. Upgrade. They didn't force us, they sold us. Convinced us that we NEEDED one.
(more) How can you travel without the assistance of your screen? How can you communicate with out the help of your screen? How do you entertain yourself without the distractions of your screen? How are you an individual without your screen? How are you free when you have a screen?
No they didn't force us. We bought it. And we continue to buy it: Thermostats to survey our homes; bracelets to track out movements; Cameras to watch; Microphones to listen; data to be harvest.
Data, we say, stored in the clouds among the Gods.
But, we are not of the sky. We are not even of the animals, anymore. We are of the dirt. We the crops. We will be harvested.
There will be no fight. No scrimmage. No reclamation. Because the War has already been won. With razzel and dazzel, we've dwindled our history, our memory. And soon even the recent past will be gone. Till there is nothing. Till there is nothing but Oceania and strife. Till there is nothing but what's Bitter Than You and us. Gardener and crops. Master and chattel. Eyes and movement.
No, they didn't force us to have telescreens in our homes and cars and workplace. We gladly embraced them, kissing them with open mouths. Suckling at capitalism's tit till we were too drunk to notice. Anything.
No, they didn't force us, we cried for it. Demanded it. Welcomed that which is Bigger Than You into our hearts. Our minds. Well before they asked to control those too. (less)
She's bigger than you and definitely built. She wields a sword that could skewer you vertically and not reach the hilt. Her reach is incredible. All you have is a set of daggers, little good when you're rolling to keep your head attached to your shoulders.
(more) You duck down just in time as the greatsword whistles over your head. You're pretty sure you lost a few hairs in that move, but at least you're alive. You can't keep up at this pace. She's not even breathing hard and here you are performing acrobatic feats. You need space to move. You need distance to think.
You spin on your heel and sprint for the door, slamming through the cold metal and running to the opposite end of the yard. Fencing topped with barbed wire greet you on all sides. A defeated whimper pulls at your throat.
"You can't escape me," she calls with a laugh, her powerful form emerging from the doorway. She rests the flat end of her blade against her shoulder and smiles. You're the captured mouse here, not her. You're the one who's trapped on a butcher's block.
That doesn't mean you give up.
You laugh and show a cocky grin. "You have to catch me first."
She barks a laugh and readies her blade, her muscled legs making little work of the distance. You have to think, while you still have a head, while a steamroller is barreling towards you.
Out of pure instinct more than intelligence, you spin your dagger in the air, catch the blade between your fingertips and chuck it at her. Her wild eyes get huge as the blade plunges into her forehead. She collapses with the outrage of a beast. You stand panting between nervous laughter.
Ceaseless was the pulse of the veins left to struggle within man. Pumping and pumping in motion, the veins did not stop. Till, one day it all stopped, and man lay motionless on the ground. The perpetual back and forth of life's pendulum had finally found itself standing still(more) in the middle, no longer swinging. (less)
They ate out more often than Gotou liked - especially because he felt like occasionally Masayoshi plied him with alcohol. Not to get anything out of him specifically, but because it made him slower on the uptake and it meant Masayoshi got the tab before he could.
(more) Also, depending on how many drinks he'd had, it also meant he walked home leaning ever so slightly on Masayoshi.
He got a little handsy when he was buzzed - Masayoshi certainly never seemed to mind that; especially when they finally managed to make it through the door to the apartment and Gotou could shove him against the wall and kiss him breathless.
They would lose their clothing at some point - usually all across the floor on the way to the bed. It wasn't unusual to find it strewn all across the apartment - he'd found one of Masayoshi's socks in the sink once the next morning, impressively enough.
There were definitely worse ways to wake up though; than with muscles aching in the best way, sticky and worn out and Masayoshi wrapped around him like a living blanket. He never had so much to drink that he couldn't remember - in fact he was reasonably sure Masayoshi had figured out his tolerance level and was certain to stop him before he drank enough to hit hangover territory.
"I think," he said out loud, his voice rough with sleep and sex, "that you are much more conniving than you let on." He rubbed his crusty eyes with his free hand - Masayoshi made a noise into his side but didn't raise his head or give any other indication he was actually awake.
"S'not the intended result," Masayoshi said finally, drowsily, his words breathed into Gotou's skin. "But I'm really, really not complaining."
He said he could turn a penny into a fortune, though he called it a "risky investment". I didn't understand but I had reason to trust this man with my life. So I gave him the only penny I had ever come across in my thirty years of living in the(more) wasteland. He dropped the penny into a tiny slot and the machine hummed to life. It emitted a sound unlike anything I had ever heard before or since (imagine the sound of a thousand angry voices, each humming a different note). The cacophony forced me to cover my ears.
"Should only take about five minutes" he yelled over the noise.
After the five minutes had passed, much to my astonishment a mechanical creature resembling a hawk landed on the windowsill clutching a large silver key in its talons. My companion retrieved the key and thrust it into my breast pocket.
"Take this key to the clockworks and use it to enter room number six."
He must have sensed my hesitation for he then grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around to face the door as he whispered in my ear:
"This will all make sense in time."
I'm not even a Man, or they told me when I wrote my name on the list. "Conscientious Objector." They might as well have labelled me "war villain."
(more) That was how I felt for months after: the coward letting down the country, the half-man who stayed at home while his betters fought and died across the Channel.
One day, I decided I'd been called "coward" one too many times. I signed up for the Ambulance Corps. Soon I was on my way to where the Men had dug themselves into the ground again, to sit, wait, and die. There I would save lives; there I would be called a war hero for the first time, and hate it. I worked not for war, but peace.(less)
"You can change your mind at any time." The nurse was very soft spoken and reassuring. It must be a very strange job to have. Part nurse, part coroner.
"I understand." Tim replied, matching her quiet tones.
"There is no shame at all."
Shame. (more) He wasn't sure about that word. Shame. He wondered if it was the word she meant to use. Was this a lost in translation thing. Probably not. I'm sure she had done this so many times she had to have chosen the word intentionally.
Going home was never an option. He knew he would be received well. His family would be delighted. The girls would anyway. They would welcome him home like a war hero. Mark might not be so happy. They had said many things in the last few days. He wasn't sure how much of it was said because of the high emotion. He wasn't sure how much of it could be taken back.
The nurse closed the folder and took a deep breath.
"We will meet you in 2 hours to take you to the office. I must warn you it does not look nice or welcoming from the outside but we have made it very comfortable within."
"We will give you the first mixture to suppress the gag reflex and after that has settled, we will give you the poison."
He looked into her eyes. He wanted to see if she had used that word to scare him. Was this another, final tactic to weed out the people who were not 100% sure.
She nodded and gave him a weak smile. He was about to stand when she reached out and touched him. It was a gentle resting of her hand on his.
I imagined I'd arrive home to trumpets and balloons, well, maybe not actual trumpets but at least a banner or two. How it had turned out I could not have envisaged three short years ago when I set off in my shiny shoes and stiff uniform. Off to war.(more) I had been naive and wet behind the ears. Before then I had not seen war, felt war, suffered, seen suffering and experienced the death or both comerade and hope all in one. As the van came closer to my home town my stomach began to contract. It was as if there was a wet, cold bag of cement in there that had been dropped from a great height. I began to pick out the familiar sights along the road, the diner on the edge of town, my old high school, looking strangely small and run-down. It had once been the very hub of my existance. I had been prom King, it all seemed so futile and childish now. The sky sat on the shoulders of the town heavily. As we began to make the turn into my estate I felt an overwhelming urge to ask them to stop, to turn around. I wanted more than anything to jump out of the back of the van and to run away, to hide, to-banish the thought, be one of those who did not return home. As we rounded the bend to my Willow Grove I spied a group gathered, shivering outside the house. The lights blazed and there were some token balloons. The van purred to a halt. Maurice, silent by nature looked at me as he switched the engine off. I caught his eye. He patted my arm, "It'll be OK, lad" he said as he began to wheel me out.(less)
The second thing Masayoshi wanted to do in his new apartment was hang up all the awards he'd received as Samurai Flamenco. (The first thing, obviously, was to start building another tokusatsu museum, but it didn't take long considering his old collection was lost in his previous apartment's explosion.) (more) Goto helped him hang a couple of shelves next to the dining room table, and Masayoshi lined everything up, beaming the whole time.
When he got to the ribbon at the bottom of the box, the smile dropped from his face entirely.
He was frozen there for a good three minutes before Goto came over and rested a hand on Masayoshi's arm. "Something wrong?" He peered down into the box himself and a cold weight dropped in his stomach. Of course -- it was the Chief For A Day ribbon.
"I should just throw it out," Masayoshi said quietly, closing his eyes and biting his lip. "I don't know why I ever kept it."
Goto's hand slid up Masayoshi's arm to rest on his shoulder as he sidled around to look into Masayoshi's eyes. His other hand moved to the other shoulder for good measure. "We've been over this, Yoshi. You know that it wasn't your fault."
"But it WAS," Masayoshi wailed, and the anguish on his face ripped through Goto like a serrated blade. "I wished for it, it happened because I wanted it to! Those officers died because of me!"
Goto slid his thumb beneath Masayoshi's chin, tipping his head up to look into his eyes. "If you really think that," Goto said, "then you're a bigger idiot than I thought."
With a miserable cry, Masayoshi buried his face in Goto's shirt and started sobbing.
Goto rubbed slow circles on Masayoshi's back. "We'll throw it out," he said.(less)