Kiku Honda was the second child of his family. He was born and raised in Japan by his mother along with his half-brother. Typically, people usually infer that the younger always ended up as “the parents’ pet”, but in Kiku’s case, it is the opposite, or worse.
His mother was a successful administrative assistant of a company who married twice: Her first marriage was to a Chinese chef of a high-class restaurant, and they were blessed with a son whom they proudly named Yao (which means “brightly shining”). But their married life only lasted for three years when her husband died in a car crash while she and her son were fortunate enough to survive. She finally managed to cope with her husband’s loss, by which it meant an opportunity for a bachelor to fill up the vacant position of her deceased spouse. It was that time when she went to a bar with a close acquaintance of hers; they were drunk and as the alcohol took effect on their consciences, they did something… pleasurable but heinous. Then a week later, she got pregnant with a second child. After the news of her pregnancy reached to the father of the unborn child, the two of them decided to get marry, making this her second marriage. Nine months later, in a warm winter (as what I was told), a baby boy was born with the ideal features of a “Yamato Nadeshiko” and he was named after the royal flower: Kiku (which suppose to mean Chrysanthemum), but then, there was a cruel irony. When Kiku was two months old, his birth father left the family for another woman and was never seen again. His mother, once again, endured another loss within the family, and somehow, she used, Kiku, her own son, as a scapegoat, blaming and claiming that he was “so much like his father in any shape or form, especially those damn emotionless eyes. He’s no different from him, a two-faced son of a b*tch who doesn’t give a f*ck about anything but himself, that f*cking bastard!”
In the meantime, Kiku and his older half-brother Yao were both home-schooled due to it was a “tradition”, or to be more precise: a belief, from their mother’s side that children performed better academics at home than in school (I don’t know how it works but I’m sure they have good reasons). The two boys usually succeeded evenly, however, owing to the favor of their mother, Yao had more liberty than his younger brother, therefore, he could roam anywhere in the Japanese streets, expanding his knowledge of the outside world. Kiku, on the other hand, was chained into confinement. Either due to his mother’s qualm towards him or just a maternal instinct to protect a child, she restricted his dealings with society, as a result, Kiku found himself getting used to his isolation that he grew to love it, using it as his sweet time to watch popular animes, read and even make mangas, and play video games. His mother and Yao never bothered helping him learn more about society and the world beyond, so instead, he just depended on the Internet for the needed information. Yet still, there were times that he was unpredictable in so many ways, as his own dull dark brown eyes hold so much mystery, reflecting like a glass window to his soul. In spite of the charges and negligence thrown by his mother, and the ignorance Yao gave him, Kiku, if you leave him in his own world, was in perfect peace within solitude. No chaos, no pain, no death, or sorrow that belongs to the world, just him, it was his utopia.
But then, everything changed when their mother received a promotion. She received a notice that she was promoted to work in the West, specifically in the United States. And so, she was obliged to leave Japan for America with her sons. Yao thought it was the best thing that ever happened, for Kiku… it was a bit different. Exposing to the bigger world meant the shattering of his adored isolation, but what choice does he have? He agreed to go, of course, except he was still in serious doubt, how could he learn to interact with society, which was a complete stranger to him?
As he bid farewell to his solitude while on the way to New York, Kiku met the blue ocean, and he fell in love with it, he realized that he may be too late to catch up with the ever-moving wide world, but he was certain enough that he would love it… and he did…
* * *
“Wow dude! You’re totally awesome in this! How did you get that?” Alfred said eagerly with eyes as wide as saucers when he saw Kiku’s paper got a mark of 98 in their geometry test. “You are so smart Keeks, while I got a lame 89 in the test, I’m so stupid.” He said with a pout.
“Alfred-san, please don’t call yourself stupid, you just need more practice.” Kiku said, blushing at the American’s compliment, at the same time, trying to comfort him to make him feel better.
It was lunchtime and they were in the library finishing their- no, Alfred’s homework while Kiku was there to help him as his tutor. It’s been over a month since their first meeting, and they seemed to know each other from top to bottom, from the smallest to the biggest detail, from the outside to the inside. The two of them had a lot in common, but somehow, they were different from each other. For an instance, they shared most classes except for Science and Spanish. They both love playing video games, watch anime, read comics and mangas, sing at the karaoke, etc. however, the thing that defines their differences, apart from their I.Q level and food choice, is their characters: Alfred is loud, happy, energetic, and was always on the positive side most of the time. Kiku, in contrast, is shy, quiet, mysterious, and usually loves to meditate in peace with nature. Two characters different from each other usually ended up in violence due to the constant disagreements, but in this case, it’s not. Who knows? What if it was just the things they like brought them together to create this bond, but I suppose it won’t be that convincing. They always agree on each other and became the closest best friends in the entire campus… how, though? What do they really have that some others don’t?
“See here Alfred-san,” Kiku continued when Alfred straightened himself. “All you have to remember is this: medians go with the centroid, altitude with the orthocenter, perpendicular bisectors go with the circumcenter, and angle bisectors with the incenter.”
Alfred stared at the paper with a blank expression plastered on his face. He didn’t say anything, trying to understand what the Asian man taught him. Well, yeah, he did understand the whole concept of these points except. “Okay, uh- I really do understand what these mean, Keeks. But how can I remember all of these, like seriously, I have a goldfish’s memory.”
One thing Kiku remembered when he was a kid was the fact that goldfish could live up their memory to five months, but that’s beside the point. The point was he needed to think of something to help the American memorize the said geometrical concepts. Songs are commonly used to help students remember their notes, even in Kiku’s case, yet he doesn’t know any song that involves Geometry (a few of them actually but they were out of the topic). That’s then a light bulb appeared in his head.
“I got it!” the Asian snapped in enlightenment. He wrote down on a piece of scratch: MC AO PBC cABIN.
“What does that mean, Keeks?”
“It’s just a random phrase I came up with,” Kiku answered. “Look, it means: Mariah Carey sings AO, eating peanut-butter cookies in a cabin. This is how you remember the points, the letters I’ve underlined represented the lines and the points each represented: Mariah Carey means median and centroid. AO is altitude and orthocenter. Peanut-butter cookies mean perpendicular bisector and circumcenter, and cabin, where the “c” could be etched as an angle, mean angle bisector and incenter.”
“Ah, I see!” Alfred said. “This is so cool! I think this is really going to help me.”
Kiku smiled in appreciation. “How about we do a little practice without using our notes, but try to keep this in mind?”
“Sure bro! I accept your challenge, trainer Kiku.” The American replied with much enthusiasm and made a little salute when he said the last part. The Japanese, in return, smiled and shook his head.
Five minutes later, they made a successful progress in which Alfred perfected some exercises and got a mistake or two on the other ones. Kiku felt like a proud teacher watching his student accomplished after all of the trouble he went through. He never felt that kind of satisfactory before, this was his first time, and it was interestingly uncanny that he did the thing his brother and mother failed to do to him before, to educate someone with great importance as if their life depends on it.
“This is so cool, Keeks!” the blond said in admiration of his improvement. “If it weren’t for you I would’ve been stuck clueless forever.”
For a while, as Alfred looked up at him, the Asian boy saw a glimpse of his ocean-blue eyes turned from a fervent glow into a genuine beam, and he said. “You are really the most amazing person I’ve ever met, Kiku.”
He blushed, blinking multiple times and replied, “It’s really nothing, Alfred-san. I-It’s natural for anyone to help each other when they have to. After all,” he paused for a second, “you are my only best friend.”
Alfred blinked. A hint of curiosity in his eyes in which Kiku took it as a cue to continue and explain what he was saying. “Like what I’ve told you before, ever since I was little, I hardly communicate with others. I really don’t blame my mother or my brother for being a little delayed in society. When I came here in America, I was nervous because I don’t know what to do until you became my friend. That gave me more hope that I’ll soon have more friends in the end, however, I don’t think that’s going to happen because until now, nobody bothers coming to me except you. And I am very pleased to have you as my companion, Alfred-san.”
“Oh Keeks,” Alfred whispered as he put his hand on his arm. Kiku made a small twitch at the human contact but immediately calmed down. The blond continued, “You don’t have to explain yourself. There are maybe a lot of things that I don’t know about you yet, but I know enough why you act like this and I understand. You are my best friend, and you know that. I don’t mind having you glued to me 24/7 or even stalk me in the middle of the night just so you have someone to talk to.”
Kiku slowly turned his head up to the American after hearing the last part. He furrowed his eyebrows quizzically and said, “That part sounds so wrong but since you sound so sincere, I might just leave you there.”
Alfred laughed at the little joke as Kiku followed him as well. They continued to laugh for a minute then stopped, the Japanese dropped his gaze while the blond kept on staring at him with tranquility.
“Hey,” Alfred said quietly, lifting the Asian’s small chin to fix his dull brown eyes on his blue ones. “How about we go to the store and buy some mochis. My treat as a thank you for helping me with my math.”
He waited for an answer until he saw a small beam on his pale face and a quality of joyful serenity in his eyes. “That would be wonderful, Alfred-san.”