“You guys really didn’t have to come with me,” You said for what felt like the fiftieth time that day. “I’m just going to visit my family for Obon.”
“Nah, it’s ok,” Gackt replied, patting the other man on the shoulder. “It’s not like I have anyone of my own to go visit and Chacha here,” he jerked a thumb behind him, “is so old that he basically is his own ancestor.”
“I can hear you, y’know,” came the reply from the back seat.
“Yeah and why exactly are you coming along again, Chacha?” You asked.
“Cause I heard that Gackt invited himself along and what can I say, I like to make you uncomfortable.” Chacha grinned.
“Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I’m not even gonna touch that,” Gackt snickered.
You stopped at a stoplight and took his hands off the wheel to rub his temples. He had a headache. To be more specific, he had two headaches. He’d hoped to sneak away for a nice quiet weekend with his family, but Gackt had gotten wind of it and invited himself along. You had been careful not to tell anyone where he was going, but Gackt knew somehow. He glared at the oblivious man in the passenger seat. He always knew…
“The light’s blue,” Chacha said from the back of the car in an attempt for this author to show her knowledge of trivial Japanese facts.
You sighed and hit the gas a little harder than he probably needed to. Best to get this overwith.
It wasn’t long before they’d arrived at You’s parents’ house and were unloading the car. You was dismayed to learn that none of the younger members of the family had made the trip home this weekend, leaving him as the youngest member present by a good ten years.
“Great,” he grumbled under his breath. “That means I’m going to be stuck having to make conversation with crazy Uncle Toshi or, God forbid, Gra-Grandma!” he attempted to embrace the centenarian woman who’d just come out of the house, a dutiful smile plastered across his face. “It’s so good to see you!”
“You’re too skinny!” the old lady thwapped him with her cane repeatedly. “And what are you wearing?! I think I had that blouse back in the 20s! Did you dye your hair again?! It looks orange! Found a real job yet?! Why aren’t you married?! Do you at least have a girlfriend?! Is this her?!”
“No, Grandma, that’s Chacha. You’ve met him before.”
Grandma glared at Chacha and he scowled back.
Stepping between You and his grandmother, Gackt produced a beautifully wrapped package from God-knows-where and presented it to her. “You may be a horrible grandson who doesn’t bring gifts, but as soon as I heard that he was coming here to see you, I rushed out right away to buy you this!”
“Oh, sonny!” Grandma positively tittered like a schoolgirl. “For me?!”
“Of course for you!” Gackt puffed out his chest. “Consider it an early birthday present. You’ll be what? 60 this year?” He winked.
The sound of the sack of bones giggling was enough to peel paint and You was grateful for his mother’s opportune announcement that they were just in time for dinner. He was not, however, happy to find out that apparently everyone would much rather talk to Gackt than to their own flesh and blood.
“So what brings you here for Obon, Gackt?” You’s aunt asked with stars in her eyes.
“Um,” Gackt looked around the table with a frown. “I assume cause you’re his family and that’s the point?”
“No no, not him! You!” she pointed at the singer. “Surely you have family of your own to visit!”
“Sadly, no,” Gackt said. “No family.” He put down his chopsticks and gazed out the window pensively. “My life is a solitary and lonely one, I’m afraid. This road of life that we travel, with all of its ups and downs and twists and turns, is one that I must face alone. Day after day, I long only for the companionship of another. For family. For kin. Obon has always been a melancholy time for me because it makes me aware of that which I lack. I don’t even have ancestral graves to visit. The hands of time have taken their toll on the shrines and on my memories. They’ve all crumbled to dust…” He paused and raised a hand slowly in a gesture towards the world outside the window. “…and blown away on the wind.” He turned his hand over in a fluid motion to symbolize the journey onward.
Literally every single woman at the table (and a few of the men) were practically drowning in their own tears.
“But…but…how can that be?” You’s mother asked between sobs. “How can there be no one left?”
Gackt folded his hands in front of him and stated matter-of-factly, “Because I’m a 472 year old vampire.”
“Oh for God’s sake,” Chacha rolled his eyes. “Not this again.”
“Who asked you?!” Grandma spat at him.
“Your momma,” Chacha muttered.
Grandma gasped. “Insensitive jerk!” she exclaimed.
“Bitter old hag!”
You stood up from the table suddenly. “I’m going to go visit the graves!” he stated loudly. He grabbed the flowers out of the vase in the middle of the table, sending the vase clattering to its side and spilling the water. “And I’m going alone!”
Gackt stood up as well. “Ok, then I’ll go with you!”
“Gah!” You turned and fled from the room, Gackt close behind with Chacha bringing up the rear.
“Yeah, not gonna touch that one either,” Gackt said with a snicker.
“Hi, Grandpa,” You said quietly. “It’s me, You. Sorry it’s been so long since I came to visit, I’ve been really busy with tours and recording. I figured you’d understand. Of everyone, you always seemed to understand my dreams the most.” He knelt down on the ground in front of the grave and started picking the dead leaves and weeds out from around it. “I miss you,” You felt a lump form in his throat. “I miss our visits and our chats. I miss your laugh, you could always make me smile.”
Gackt leaned unceremoniously against the gravestone and crossed his arms with an obviously fake yawn. “We about done here?” he said, looking at his bare wrist as if he were checking the time. He shielded his eyes and looked up at the sky. “The sun is really starting to wreck my chi.”
You set down the bunch of flowers he’d stolen from the table and stood up, brushing the dirt off of his pants. “Yeah yeah, we can go back.”
As they headed down the road towards You’s family’s house, Gackt put his arm around the other man’s shoulders. “Y’know, You, I’ve really enjoyed this trip,” he said with a satisfied nod.
“Great, I’m glad.”
“You’ve got a nice family,” Gackt continued. “They’re the kinda family I like to think mine was when they were still alive.”
“Your family is still alive,” Chacha’s voice came from behind them. “You’re going to see them next weekend.”
Gackt acted like he hadn’t heard anything. “I think I would enjoy spending time with a family like you mortals do. Going to school plays, baseball games, music lessons. Sharing stories, sharing recipes, sharing hopes and dreams and tears and laughter…”
“You share all that with me,” You pointed out.
Gackt smiled at his friend. “That I do. I guess that makes you my family then, huh?”
“I guess so,” You couldn’t help himself but to smile as well.
Gackt frowned. “Though I could do without the getting old part. Have you seen Chacha lately?” He lowered his voice. “It’s not pretty.”
“I can still hear you!”