Trauma Button A Paradox Live Fansite
Fan Book Story Story: cozmez

Once Kanata left the futon, the room was so cold that it was hard to believe that he was actually indoors. Nayuta was fast asleep, so Kanata was careful not to wake him up as he got out of bed. Dammit, he thought. This shitty, rundown apartment probably had some kind of hole in the walls or something... wonder if there's any way to fix it.

He was even colder than usual. He turned to look at his counterpart sleeping curled up on the thin futon, then he put on his shoes in a hurry and left the house.

For whatever reason, Suiseki had been paying him for a whole lot of jobs lately, but the work was hardly easy. Yet again today, he was being run around ragged all night in the cold. He was used to being taken advantage of; he'd do anything if it meant he'd get paid. Kanata found himself wishing once or twice that Suiseki would just drop dead already. But, then again, if he died, Kanata would be out of a paycheck, so he supposed it was fine -- for now -- that he insisted on being alive.

By the time Kanata finally made it home, exhausted, the sky was already completely bright. He kept running his fingers over the payment in his pocket. All the running around had kept him warm, at least. Nayuta was wrapped up fast asleep on the futon, exactly the same as he had been when Kanata had left. Without so much as the energy to change out of his clothes, Kanata collapsed into the bed next to him and was asleep in moments.


Kanata woke up to the sound of plastic bags faintly rustling in the kitchen. He threw off the covers that he did not remember pulling over himself, groaned as he stretched, and got up. Yawning, he headed towards the kitchen.

"Good morning," Nayuta said.

"... morning," Kanata replied.

"Kanata, how many eggs should I make for you? You want bacon?" Nayuta was standing in front of the stove, holding an egg in his hand.

"Ah?" Kanata considered for a moment, and then said, "... one's fine. And the bacon... I'll pass."

Nayuta looked at him and furrowed his brow. "Why?"

"Not hungry."

"Hah? What do you mean you're not hungry? Weren't you up all ni--"

Kanata interrupted. "I just got up, so I don't have much of an appetite. C'mon, let's just eat quick. You should have two eggs, though. And bacon."

Nayuta grumbled about it but went back to cooking after Kanata's interruption. Kanata took one fried egg, put it on a bit of stale crusty bread, and bit into it. His mouth was completely dehydrated. Every muscle in his body was aching, and his head was pounding from lack of sleep. Today was.... the eighth of December, right? He tallied up the days on a mental calendar. Just a little longer.

With a practiced hand, Kanata checked a drawer in the cupboard as he put his dishes in the sink. He pulled out a crumpled envelope and double-checked its contents as he pulled out last night's earnings from his pocket and added them to the envelope.

"... huh."

He counted and re-counted the money, faster this time. He thought it might just be because he was tired, but no matter how many times he counted, it didn't add up.

"The hell's the money going?!" What was going on? He hadn't even bought any equipment lately. "Nayuta, this is bad! We're running low on money! I thought for sure that until yesterday--" he said in a shout, panicking as he crossed over to Nayuta, who was washing the dishes. when he noticed the expression on Nayuta's face and the fact that he didn't even stop washing dishes, though, he had a hunch what had happened. "... you bought something, didn't you?"

"Ah. Well, sort of," Nayuta said.

"If you say 'sort of', that means you spent a lot of money. What did you buy?"

Nayuta hesitated, then said, "clothes."

"You bought clothes again?!"

"Wait! It's not clothes for clothes's sake, it's more like stage costumes. Think of it like a work expense."

"What is it, then? Show me," Kanata said.

"They haven't arrived yet."

"Huh? When's it gonna arrive, then!?"

Kanata, shocked at not having as much money as he expected to, had accidentally raised his voice. Nayuta followed suit and raised his voice as well. "Oh, lay off! It'll come when it comes!" he said, biting back.


What right did Nayuta have to be getting upset, dammit? What did he think Kanata was off doing every night-- for whose sake did he think Kanata was trying to make money? And yet he kept running off and spending money without consulting him. A wordless frustration welled up inside of him, and he clenched his hands into fists at his sides.

After a moment of silence, Nayuta -- sensing Kanata's anger -- spoke again. "Ah... I'm sorry for spending money without asking. But, like, if we win the Paradox Live, we'll get ten billion, right? It's not that much in the scheme of things."

"... I guess you're right," Kanata conceded reluctantly, but he couldn't shake his discomfort. He thought about how many days were left. Just days ago he had been bracing himself for a day that was soon to come, but now it felt like that day was never going to arrive.


Tonight again, Kanata went out alone.

Nayuta could hear his footsteps from under the covers as he walked away. After he was certain that the front door was closed, Nayuta rose with a start and crept over to the window to peer out. Though he did not touch the window itself, he could feel the piercing cold air outside and he shivered. Without streetlights to light the way, the road outside was totally dark. He could hardly see anything, but he could see Kanata running off somewhere, still wearing too-light clothing. He was certain that Kanata wouldn't be back until dawn again today.

Remembering the argument they had had during the day, Nayuta sighed. This was hardly the first time that he had bought clothes without asking Kanata, but he had never gotten as upset about it as he had today. They weren't particulary concerned about holding onto money; as long as they had enough money to eat, they were often careless with the rest. This was also hardly the first time that he had argued with Kanata, but today's argument felt different.

Kanata had been very strange lately. He often went out at night, but as of late, he'd been away from home almost every night and coming home exhausted at dawn. Even if Nayuta pretended he didn't notice anything strange, he had almost no appetite even when Nayuta tried to make food for him. Was it just that he was tired, or was he trying to give Nayuta more of their limited supply of food? Or was he getting fed somewhere else?

Nayuta didn't like it. It felt like he was being sneaky and on-edge. Just the other day, he had tugged on Kanata's hand and said, "Hey, your hand's hurt. Did something happen?" He had just playing around and trying to tease Kanata, trying to give him a little grief for not paying attention, but Kanata had jerked away, saying It's nothing! Nothing happened!.

He didn't get it. He had thought they shared everything with each other, but -- Nayuta gussed -- there were things he didn't know. Kanata never told him where he was going in the middle of the night, and Nayuta never asked. He thought that as long as they were connected as deeply as they were, then it wouldn't matter if they didn't talk about everything.

While he was waiting alone for Kanata, sitting in this small run-down apartment, he tried to imagine what his other half was doing, and he just couldn't stop thinking about it. Was he dragging Kanata down? Would Kanata be freer and more happy without him?

They used to always be together, and did everything together. They only had each other. Everybody else was an enemy; they were always on their guard, knowing that anyone else might betray them at any time. But now Kanata had an entire world that Nayuta didn't know about. he had connections with other people that Nayuta didn't, and he had feelings that Nayuta wasn't aware of.

He should have thought it was a good thing that Kanata was starting to make more friendships. Indeed, since he had started interacting with BAE and Akan Yatsura, he had been writing better songs than ever before, but Nayuta couldn't help but wonder if Kanata ever thought about what he was doing while he was here alone, waiting for him to come back.

What did being twins mean? He used to be able to understand Kanata's feelings intuitively, but lately, he felt like he couldn't. He ended up standing by the window for a long time, and his body was chilled to the bone. He wondered how cold Kanata felt, running around outside. Apparently, his other half had something to hide-- but, then again, it wasn't like he didn't have anything he was hiding from Kanata in return. He would just do what he could.

Nayuta stretched out, popped his spine, and opened the closet. He pulled out the thing he was looking for. Kanata wouldn't be back for a while, so he'd have plenty of time.


When Kanata told Suiseki that he needed money urgently, he had rolled his eyes and smiled, saying, "well, then you're gonna have to do a lot of jobs for me."

What was different now, though, was the fact that every time he arrived at the office, there was a bento waiting for him. Kanata tried to turn it down, insisting that he couldn't eat food alone without telling Nayuta, but Muscles[1] insisted:

"It's fine! You have to eat, Kanata-kun! A healthy mind resides inside a healthy body!"

He wouldn't back off and insisted so passionately that Kanata eventually broke down and accepted it just because it was more of a pain in the ass to turn it down.

Everything they fed him was, much to his irritation, extremely good.

Of course, the food that Nayuta made was also good, but just in terms of sheer variety, the food that they gave him was on a different level. Even if it was just a bit of soup kept warm in a thermos had more vegetables in it than he was ever used to eating. He wished he could just give it to Nayuta, but it wasn't possible. Then, when he went home, he ate a second meal for the day, as though he was still hungry. He felt horribly guilty about it to say the least.

Today's menu was pork miso soup, grilled fish, some boiled vegetable thing-- there was even fruit on the side. When he tried to start eating it, Muscles pulled him back and insisted that he say itadakimasu before eating. He thought it sounded like a pain in the ass, but again, it was too much trouble to argue the point, so he clapped his hands together and mumbled it as requested.

"It ain't gonna grow legs and walk away before you eat it, slow down," Suiseki said. Kanata was annoyed that he was being treated like a child, but the food was good regardless.

The faces of the other three members of Akan Yatsura sprang to mind. They seemed well-fed and obnoxiously loud. "Those guys always eat this kind of food? Ain't you spoiling them?"
Muscles had told him once that they always ate an afternoon meal together. Compared to him and Nayuta, their dining table must have been a very lively and luxurious scene. What bullshit. The very thought made him want to hurl.
"... but I wonder, if Nayuta had been able to eat food like this all the time, if his body might be stronger..." Kanata mumbled.


Muscles was staring at him with a furrowed brow. Kanata immediately regretted having opened his mouth, but it was like the good food had made his lips looser. He hated it-- he hated being looked at like that. Don't you dare look at me like that.

"What do you usually eat?" Muscles said.

"Shut up. I eat fine. I can cook, and so can Nayuta. We've been doing it ever since we were kids. So we make, like, fried eggs and stuff? Sometimes with bacon. And we get takeout from Raimentei sometimes," Kanata spoke quickly while staring at his food to avoid looking at Muscles. He struggled for a few moments to get separate the meat from the bone on the grilled fish, but not wanting to attract the two mens' stares any more, he soon gave up and just ate it off the bone.

I want that ten billion, he thought furiously. They couldn't eat good food because they couldn't afford it, and even if that ended up making them sick, they couldn't afford to see a doctor about it. He was so tired of living like this. He gripped the chopsticks in his hand tightly. He was going to win the Paradox Live, no matter what it took. He was going to get the money, get treatment for Nayuta, and buy a big house for them to live in.

But he wondered what Nayuta thought.

They could understand each other's thoughts just by holding hands. He'd always believed that, their entire lives. Nayuta was his one and only other half, the precious other half of his soul. But even so, sometimes, he felt uneasy. It felt like recently there was a little gap between them, now; it was small. It probably wouldn't cause any problems if they just ignored it.

But they had been out of sync lately, hadn't they?

That had never happened before, and he couldn't help but be frustrated by it. Nayuta was the only thing he had.

Focusing on that thought, he focused on shovelling food into his mouth in silence. He thanked the two of them and left for work. He pulled up his mental calendar to focus on. It was just a little more. They were almost there.

For now, though...

There weren't a lot of people out in the city at night. Midnight was the best. Nobody gawked at him, and he didn't have to catch sight of any happy families, no small children holding hands with their parents, no fists clasped tightly around the strings of balloons, feeling like the center of the world. He hated seeing twins more than anything. Dressed up in matching clothes, pushed along in two-person strollers, and even if it rained then their dear, sweet parents would so-gently pull down an attached rain cover.

They had been born to a woman who had no other option but to become a slum whore; they had been oppressed and deprived as a matter of course. They didn't know their own father's face. They had run away together from a horrible institution, had to crawl on scraped knees to make ends meet and find a way to survive. They had found a weapon in hip hop and had finally managed to make it to this point.

Looking back on it, it had all felt like one long, long night. Their dawn should be just around the corner.


Kanata seemed to have gotten home at dawn again and collapsed onto the futon. Nayuta looked at his bare neck; had he always been this thin? Nayuta unconsciously placed a hand on the back of his own neck. No-- he wasn't like that.

Nayuta got out from under the covers and went to prepare breakfast. When food was ready, Kanata woke up. He peered at the table, as near-bare as it ever was, remarked that it looked good again today, and sat down practically moving in slow-motion. Since Kanata clearly wasn't all the way awake, Nayuta ate without speaking.

"... hey, so, today."

They both raised their eyes to look at each other. They had spoken the same words at the same time, their voices overlapping until it sounded like one voice. For a moment, they were stunned into silence, and then...


Their noises of confusion overlapped as well, and their expressions were the same as they began to laugh. All at once, the tension from the past few days had been defused entirely by such a small thing.

Looking at Kanata was like looking into a mirror. Nayuta stared at his brother's face.

"What is it?" Kanata said, stifling a laugh.

"You tell me, Kanata," Nayuta shot back in return.

Kanata tried his best to regain his composure and he took a soup of the miso soup that was barely more than broth. "Hey, let's go out tonight."


"What were you going to say, Nayuta?"

"I was... nothing. Don't worry about it."

"No, what?"

"It's all fine now."

Kanata was unconvinced and muttered come on, what's with that?, but he did not press the issue any further.

Nayuta was somewhat on edge and he set himself to doing all of the household chores until evening, when Kanata took him out. He buried his face in his scarf. It was seven o' clock in the evening. It was rare for them to be out together at this time of day. Kanata led the way with sure, determined footsteps and turned around a corner; just keeping up with him winded Nayuta.

They paid no mind to the lit-up decorations that illuminated the houses they passed; they walked at a brisk pace. Kanata, holding onto Nayuta's hand, stopped them in front of a storefront. Kanata took a breath, as though working up the determination, and then they entered. The automatic door whooshed open, and a female clerk greeted them with a friendly, "welcome!"

It was a restaurant, with cheerful background music and the smell of food both filling the air. Nayuta's stomach growled reflexively. They were shown to a sofa seat large enough for two people, and the waiter handed them large menus.

"Ooh, they've got meat! Burgers! Oh, pasta, too. Wonder what I oughta get," Nayuta said. He looked around. There weren't a ton of people in the restaurant, so he added in a hushed voice, "but there aren't many people here. Isn't it going to be hard to get away without getting noticed?"

Kanata, frustrated, said aloud, "come on, don't be stupid! We're not dine-and-dashing today! We're going to eat until we're full and then pay for it!"

"You dumbass, don't say 'dine and dash' that loud!" Nayuta hissed, casting a worried glance towards the waiter.

To cover up his misstep, Kanata coughed conspicuously. Then he said: "but, ah, it's our birthday, right? We can splurge once in a while, since we've got the money for it." He patted his pocket, which apparently contained cash. "Every time I walk by here, it always looks really good. It's always full of students and families. It's usually really full, but it's half-deserted today. I was worried if we didn't get here early we might not get in."

"It's probably because it's Christmas Eve, yeah?" Nayuta said. The menu, which never seemed to end, was full of appetizing options, but it probably wasn't what regular people would want to eat for a Christmas dinner. Outside the restaurant, the atmosphere was happy; men and women alike walked around in a hurry, acting friendly towards even strangers.

"It's not like us to celebrate our birthday," Nayuta remarked.

"Yeah, it isn't," Kanata said. "But today's the day the most important thing in my life was born."

Kanata said it so casually; Nayuta got flustered and immediately tried to change the subject. "Hey, check this out. Doesn't this burger look good? Let's get it."

"Fries, too," Kanata said.

"Oh, yeah, I'll get some too."

"The hell is a gratin? Never had that before."

"Let's try it. And cola, too. The biggest size they've got." Nayuta laughed.

"But we should probably try to eat something vegetable-like, too," Kanata said uncharacteristically seriously. "Something something, healthy mind, healthy body."

"What the hell is any of that supposed to mean?" Nayuta said as Kanata gave a very serious consideration to the salad page.

"No idea, but that potato salad looks good."

"You sure you want to double up on potatoes? You're already getting fries," Nayuta said. Kanata retaliated that he should shut up, and Nayuta loved him more than anyone else in the world.

They ordered as much as they wanted and ate every last bit of it without a second thought for how they might look. The juices from the meat filled their mouths, and they savored the sweet carbonation of the cola.

"Kanata, you've got ketchup all around your mouth," Nayuta said. "You look like a clown."

"Same to you, Nayuta."

They teased each other here and there, but they mostly ate without speaking and focused on eating the feast in front of them. By the end, they were so full they were almost dazed and they patted their stomachs. Even if they had wanted to skip out on the bill, there was no way they were going to make it out of the restaurant in a hurry in this kind of state. When the time came to ring them up, Kanata was hilariously nervous as he placed the money on the cash tray.

As they walked home, they walked with a spring in their step.

"That was really good," Nayuta said.

"Right?" Kanata said. "But you know, there's even more expensive food in the world than that, too. It's hard to believe." He glanced through the window of a restaurant as they passed it. It was a much more upscale than the one they had visited; inside were couples clinking glasses together. The tables were large, and the lighting was tasteful and understated. Although they couldn't see the food, the atmosphere looekd so stifling that it almost made Nayuta feel a little uncomfortable, even though it had nothing to do with them.

Kanata stuffed his hands into his pockets and indicated the restaraunt with the tilt of his head. "If we get the ten billion, why don't we try out the food at this place? Just to see what it's like."

"Nah, it looks awful. The place we just were was definitely way better. I'm definitely gonna have to get omurice next time."

When he said that, Kanata laughed and said, "Is that so? Then we'll have to come back next year."


The lingering flavor of the meal in Kanata's mouth made him happy.

He didn't want to think about anything; he just wanted to forget all his troubles and fall asleep like this. The effort of working hard for today was starting to weigh down on him. He usually lived in the moment, buying equipment and clothes as they pleased without worrying about having money left over. Saving money like this all the time would be a massive pain in the ass.

As he lay there, dazed, Nayuta dropped down next to him. "Good work, Kanata," he said, with a mischievous look on his face. Something stirred in Kanata's heart and compelled him to sit up.

"Yeah," he said.

"You worked really hard for today, Kanata. Thank you."

"Ah, well, I kind of did it for my own sake, too..." Kanata said evasively.

"So... here. This is from me," Nayuta said, slightly sheepishly holding out a package with a blue ribbon. Underneath the ribbon was a handwritten card reading Happy Birthday.

"Nayuta, this is...?"

"Just open it," Nayuta said.

Kanata excitedly began to tear the paper away; Nayuta watched this with a smile, and some part of Kanata's mind admonished him for not opening it more carefully.

"Whoa, this is awesome!"

Inside was a stunning bright-blue varsity jacket; the chest bore a pattern of snakes, resembling their favorite earrings.[2] As he unfolded it to try it on, he noted that KANATA was embroidered in silver thread on the inside of the collar.

"Wow. It's even got my name on it... was this custom made or something?" Kanata said.

"It's not that big a deal. I just found it a thrift store and made some alterations myself, so it's not perfect..." Nayuta said. "... but today's the day the most important thing in my life was born, after all."

So this was why their money had been running low. If that was the case, then why didn't you just say so earlier? Kanata thought, unable to keep the smile off his face. "It's great. It's totally one of a kind."

When Kanata put it on, it fit perfectly, as though it had been tailor-made for him. Nayuta put on a matching jacket, and the two of them smiled shyly at each other. They pressed close together in front of their tiny mirror to check how they looked. They laughed like idiots, trading back and forth with I look way better than you and you idiot, we have the same face. If celebrating their birthday could be this fun, maybe they should have been celebrating it all along-- but, until now, they could never have afforded to, and the idea of celebrating their own birth had never quite felt right. But they promised themselves that they'd celebrate it together every year in the future.

"I feel like we can do anything if we're together. Wearing this, we'll show the entire world that we're the best," Kanata said.

"For sure," Nayuta agreed.

"And when we get our ten billion, then we'll..." he began, but then he trailed off, at a loss for words. He couldn't shake the feeling that if he said anything more than that, he might say something he shouldn't, or that he would jinx that bright future.

"... Ah. It's snowing," Nayuta murmured, quiet enough that it was hard to hear. Somewhere outside, a bright light flickered.

Kanata wondered what he would be doing on this day next year. Up until now, he had never been able to plan more than three days ahead, let alone an entire year, but no matter what, they had always lived their lives together. He had no idea what his life would be like a year from now, but he was sure that he would remember this winter night over and over again.

"Kanata, your phone's been going off for ages," Nayuta said.

"Ah, whatever, today it's fine to ignore it," Kanata said. He was aware that Suiseki had been calling him incessantly. Now that he had achieved his goal of feeding Nayuta, he had been ignoring the calls-- he wanted to take a bit of a break from shady work -- but because Suiseki didn't seem like he was going to give in, he finally, reluctantly, answered the phone.

"... yes?"

"Hey, you finally picked up~! You damn near dropped off the face of the planet, huh? You've got some nerve." Suiseki's voice was louder than usual; he was probably drunk. He seemed like he was having a good time; even through the phone, Kanata could tell that he was making a lot of noise. He discreetly pulled his phone away from his ear. "But, well, no harm done. We're havin' a Christmas party over at ours. Zen got a bit carried away and made way too much food. Why don't y'all come over and help us put a dent in it?"

"No, we've already eaten..." Kanata muttered.

"Ah, no need to be shy! No pressure to bring presents, feel free to just show up empty-handed, yeah?"

"No, for real. We--" Kanata began to argue, not wanting to get dragged along for any of Suiseki's nonsense, when Nayuta interrupted.

"Kanata, it's fine to do things every now and then. Let's go."

"See, that's the spirit!" Suiseki said. "See, is it that hard to be honest? I'll be waitin' for ya!"

Kanata hung up the phone and looked at Nayuta. "... what's with the sudden change of heart?" he said.

"Eh, it's fine to change things up now and then," Nayuta said. "And I'm in a good mood, so."

It was odd, but Kanata supposed it wasn't a bad idea to go out and put the new jackets to the test. "Fine, I guess. Now and then. Muscles' food is really good, too."

"Oh? How do you know that?"

Kanata realized that he had said too much. "Uh, I'm guessing."

"Whatever," Nayuta said. "Let's go."

They put on their matching jackets and took off through the snowy streets, as excited as children. The snow hanging in the night sky and sparkling as it caught in their hair was magically beautiful.

[1] Zen.
[2] These are (presumably) their jackets in their Exhibition Show outfits!
[3] Don't ask me how much sense this makes considering (gestures at Nayuta), just accept it.