Descent and Ascension
Themes: Reason, Love, Choice, Dependence, Revolution
Notes: The drabbles are connected in chronological order, although they leap a bit. Portraying Mikage and Nemuro was a challenge, as it’s hard for me to get a good grasp on the scientific sort of mindset, and equally challenging to really portray his peculiar grasp of time.
Unnaturally, the research did develop at a much faster pace than he'd originally planned. Once he started his theoretical blueprint, laid it down on paper in a series of numbers that moved forward and sideways across the chalkboards and papers in neat and unshakable letters and symbols, it seemed that the words grew to something beyond his control and began to move of their own accord. There were empty periods, not that there hadn't been before, moments of mental blankness in which he'd always assumed that his mind had been so focused on what lay before it, it had given no thought to anything but the problems. There were more of them now, moments where he'd seem to 'awaken' to find himself staring at full pages of mathematical notes, and an idea. The plan to grasp the concept of 'eternity' through a gatelike program fixed to metal and crystal, something to project time in on itself. More followed, plans he couldn't even put to words. Sometimes he did wonder if this truly did come from his own mind, or if there hadn't been outside influences involved.
Like a living thing, it bloomed under his fingers and crept into fulfillment, slowly, like a delicate vine. When she spoke to him, she often inquired about his research, and he could truthfully tell her it was approaching fruition with alacrity. When she asked him to explain some of the processes, he found he couldn't satisfactorily describe them. It was somewhat unnerving.
At the small patio table in Mamiya's garden, he drank bitter green tea and discussed a theory of logic with the boy. He was remarkably advanced for his age, and he sometimes, but not often, nearly forgot who it was he was speaking to. With clear eyes and a shaking hand, Mamiya reached across the table to pass him the plate of accompanying sweets that Tokiko had brought in. "You don't look well," he'd said, "Have you been sleeping?" He looked very small in his robe.
"Research is progressing." he'd replied. When he looked back on it, he wondered if it was or wasn't a relevant answer at all.
He was a scientist, not a poet, writer, or any form of artist. Therefore, there were no flowery comparisons to tree, flower, or fruit when he looked at her. There was nothing but a somewhat cool and detached observation of the physical aspect of this attraction, and the possible reasons, besides the obvious romantic ideal, for them. She was considerably attractive, for all he knew of such things, and her body was certainly proportioned in a way that could be considered aesthetically pleasing. Curves, for one thing, were oddly pleasurable to look at. The way she spoke, and the delicately birdlike movement of her hands. He, however, found himself focusing on her lips. She wore a shade of lipstick that was red, a little darker pink, or some color he couldn't name. She often licked her lips when nervous or deep in thought, he'd taken note of that as well. There was a magnetic attraction, something simple and primitive about the desire to touch them. He didn't use the word 'love'. It was an unsuitable description.
He concentrated, or his body concentrated, on the sound of his own heartbeat. It was slow, steady, deafeningly quiet and subtly overpowering. The time here was as malleable as mutable as liquid, and he felt at times that his own memories were untrustworthy unless he could have tangible, handwritten evidence that events had, in fact, occurred. He blamed it entirely on overwork. Sometimes, the overstressed mind hallucinated, or became otherwise untrustworthy. Like any machine, it needed a period of disuse.
When he closed his eyes, his mind swam dizzily, his chest clenched and an intense wave of nausea surged through him. His thoughts were incoherent, lined and shot through with emotion. He could coolly label those as though they were a form of mineral for study, even now. The image of her on the man's knee, leaning into his embrace, blurred in his gaze, burned into his eyelids as though etched with acid. Betrayal, he labeled, analyzing the emotion even as he felt it. His work, his labor and sacrifice, had she even thought of it? He'd hoped...something fleeting and pathetic and crude, now. He was a work of Pygmalion, given life and heart and now left by its creator.
His eyes shut, he felt he could hear voices. Boys discussing his work, unfinished as it was. The final step was not to be considered. Boys, intelligent and callous, discussing their future and neatly cutting him out. It was very nearly amusing. Mamiya's voice floated over him as well. He spoke of the boys and their selfishness, he spoke of his program and the possible results should the path be completed. He spoke of eternity. With every word, something dark, something tiny, seemingly insignificant, something pivotal and colossal in importance began to roll, gaining momentum until it teetered on the edge of his consciousness.
"i want eternityeternityeternity..."
And fell into a darkness complete and endless.
Stasis, was what he’d said to him. A period in which nothing moved, no change, no development, nothing. ‘Think of it as turning the hourglass momentarily on its side.’ Mamiya would not regain health, but neither would he die. He’d simply exist in the same state, frozen in the final stages of the disease, until their allotted time ran out. He was weak and in pain, but he was not dying. He’d told him he could not do away with the eventuality, but he could delay it for a time.
When he’d asked what process had to be undergone to completely correct it, he’d been told the answer was simple. ‘Grasp eternity’, he’d told him, and his eyes glittered intensely in the firelight. Mikage was prepared to try. He calculated precisely, researched people as though they were nothing more than words on an endless page. He studied their reactions to stimuli and considered which buttons to press in order to achieve the best results. And all the while, Mamiya grew the roses, as he had always done. Mamiya himself could have been a flower, the way he was built, the delicacy of his manner, the firm and steady way he held himself all called to mind a single thin and violet rose.
Sometimes, when he spoke to him, he forgot all that had come before. On occasion, when he touched him, he forgot his fragile state. And once in a while, when Mamiya lay with his head in his lap, and he stroked his hair and felt it run through his fingers and thought of what could happen if they failed, he wondered if he needed Mamiya more than Mamiya needed him.
He was a somber man, and wore dark grey suits always. When asked, he said the grey was for mourning, as he could no longer stomach the color black. He was quiet, he kept to himself and spoke little to others. It wasn’t as though he deliberately ignored them, per se. It was more of a subtle sort of avoidance. When he spoke, it was cool, dry, like a faint autumn wind. He entertained few visitors.
A girl came once, and left soon after. Her friend, softly cheerful, had stayed behind to wait for her at a small restaurant. She’d told them that the man was a mutual friend that she’d had a falling out with. When the light-haired girl returned, her expression was pensive and she’d frowned through her coffee.
He kept few pictures in his house. He had only three: one of an unsmiling woman staring into the camera, and he said this was his mother. One of a sickly young boy with dark hair and milky-white skin and freckles, watching the camera owlishly, while a young woman watched it all nervously from behind him. And a single picture of a fresh and live rosebush. When asked, he never spoke about the young woman and the boy. He claimed the rose bush was a reminder.
His walls were hung with articles, old ones, of a man named Nemuro as well as those about himself. His work in the scientific community was well known, although he wasn’t famous. His diploma and awards were dusty and ill taken care of, but he said he had given up much of his interest in scientific research and the allure of becoming a leading member of the field. Those were only things that could have been, he said.
And in the front of his house, he always planted white roses.