Disclaimer: Ai no Kusabi is the creation of Yoshihara Reiko and was published by June
I have almost forgotten--or I think I have, anyway. In public, when I walk through Apatia or when I visit the lounges of Eos, I can lose myself to the banality of life and think I have forgotten. Itís not true, of course. I know that, and Jupiter knows, but no one else.
Jupiter. . . I have taken to speaking more often with her, lately. She calls me to her chambers for little or no reason, and we speak without saying anything at all. I know why she does this. I am the only one who understands. It is hard to notice, but she has changed. She is not human, and has no emotions--and neither do we--but she cared for him, somehow. I cared for him, as well. There was something about him that inspired feelings other than the impersonal respect or thin amiability shared by the Blondies surrounding us every day.
I suppose it was just one characteristic of what distinguished him. And I suppose that was his downfall.
In Jupiterís chambers, I allow myself to let my guard down--she is not fooled, and she will not condemn me for it. Which is perhaps an exception she is making. One of the changes that took place after his death was her outlook on the rules and customs of Tanagura--the rules that one cannot betray even in oneís mind. She has become stricter, and I fear I will soon be buried in the excess of work it has created for me. Jupiter no longer tolerates the slightest deviation from the norm. I understand that also. She does not wish for his situation to repeat itself.
But she is not angry when I let myself be weak, or when I grieve. I know she does the same. It does not happen often.
Or so I tell myself. In reality, it never leaves my mind. I am in Apatia, or in Eos, or driving through the barren streets of Midas, or most especially at home, and I remember him. I remember his power of command, his will and energy, the success he reaped for himself as we both set out on our careers, and I come almost to the point of tears. Almost, and I think they are tears. I have never cried before, and I doubt I ever will.
I have seen men cry. I have even seen Blondies cry. Fastened down, their minds being erased, their very essence being torn and mangled and reformed, tears streaming down their faces and shrieks ripping from their throats. It is enough to drive one to the brink of insanity, but I have grown used to it. Yet when I imagined Iason weeping and screaming, it was enough to shake me to the core. I warned him, again and again, but he never listened. I donít think he ever realized what crying truly looks like, for if he had known, he would never have put himself in such a position.
I remember it was hard. It was hard, watching him disregard himself and his status and our society for that mongrel he liked so much. I understand now that he was mad, and that there was little anyone could do, short of reconditioning him altogether. Analyzing the situation now, I see that he was perhaps worse than any of the cases I have ever worked on. He did not fit Jupiter or Tanagura, and he could not care for or acknowledge the problem. He was truly mad.
He had thought that he loved that pet, his Riki. I thought he was ill when he told me, and could not bring myself to believe it. Love. . . It was a thing for animals and anecdotes and mongrels. Not for Blondies, not for him. But when I am in my rooms, and I relax and clear my mind of all urgent matters, I think that perhaps I loved him. It seemed natural to love him, for both Jupiter and myself. He was perfect, brilliant and dynamic and breathtaking. He was the ultimate of our world, and the promise of our world, and at the pinnacle of his career, the realization of our world. That was why it was so painful to see him recede from his insurmountable perch and sink to the dark swampy depths he finally drowned in.
For Jupiter, it hurt in more ways that one. I think that his failure signified, for her, the failure of Tanagura as a whole. Harboring his imperfection, he was able to make the most of our society and to rise to the highest rank of the Blondies. A defect, he reached the summit of Jupiterís dream for her creations. A defect, he let his summit crumble beneath him in a hollow mass. It frightened Jupiter, because I think it made her see how uncontrolled Tanagura truly is. And now she has closed her iron fist, and is taking the reigns once more.
I myself do not have the guilt to erode at my mind, as she does. At first, I blamed myself for not being more persistent, for letting him make his mistakes, but I have accepted that they were his decisions, and that there was nothing I could do. Still, I look back, and I grieve for his end and I grieve for his loss. And I look around at the sneers and empty faces suffocating me through each minute, and I grieve for the idea that he was right and that, with him, died our only hope for salvation.
He was the flaw, the blemish, the strain in the flow of Tanagura, but could he have been correct all along? When I reflect upon it, it occurs to me that we are the madmen, and he was the only one among us who saw the truth behind the lie of our society.
It is a weakness, and at this rate, I will lose my mind as well. No, I must dismiss him.
But never forget him.
His world was. . .intriguing, but it is not our world, and it never will be. That is best. So I will chase the thoughts to the shadows of my awareness, and pay them no mind. And when I am in Jupiterís cold rooms, with no one to see or hear, I will remember.
I have glimpsed what could have been; I have seen the light and the dark; I know.
Thank you, Iason, for showing me.
I hope I shall never see it again.