note: (they'd grow in the process; no phedo thingy, nsfw rating later)
Behind his kind smile was an equally sarcastic thought brewing. He was tall, wearing ragged clothing he got from a thrift shop he passed by. The innocence of an eighteen year-old young man that should be there has long been gone. Instead, he have in his eyes a dangerous and cunning interior over this friendly shell. People even wonder whether his name 'Akihiko' symbolized a prince of fall, reserved and tranquil. Or the real thing was hidden under the autumn leaves, uncertainty and mystery.
Friendly...he wasn't really sure about that either. For the only person he ever showed such 'friendliness' was Takahashi Takahiro. A prim, four-eyed senior high fellow he helped from some extortionists some month ago.
Usami knew he was never right in the head. But he realized that he was even crazier than he initially thought. He fancied this Takahiro as if he was fancying a girl. Not long after, they became friends and the stupid him just kept on falling like a stone from a cliff. Down, down and deeper.
That was why this silverhaired lad couldn't contain such happiness when after a week of not having seen Takahiro, the latter had emailed him that they meet up, all the imaginations of him and Takahiro hanging out played like crazy in his demented head. There was just one thing that didn't fit the day they finally met; the teary-eyed, small brown-haired kid clinging tightly at Takahiro's black slacks.
"Uhm...your little brother?" Usami Akihiko asked, barely conceiling the shock at the disparity between the two. Usami started scratching the tip of his nose with the awe at how different they looked. The distance was probably from Okinawa to Hokkaido.
"Yeah. His name's Misaki..." Takahiro gave a small smile as he patted the fear-streaken boy on the shoulder. "Misaki...this is Usami nii-san. Say hello..."
Hiding behind Takahiro, the kid didn't even reach his brother's waist. That was how small the boy was. Like a scared squirrel, the boy peaked a little, shyly saying a barely audible 'Hello Usagi-san..."
Takahiro chuckled. "It's Usami, not Usagi."
Little Misaki looked up. "Usagi-san?"
Akihiko, wanting to impress Takahiro even though he hated kids at his very core, kneeled on one knee and tried to befriend the child. Having a candy he had bought in place of a cigarette, he extended it to the boy to which the boy didn't accept to Usami's dismay.
"Hey it's alright. Usagi if that's what you like to call me. Don't be afraid," Usami further urged. "Here, take this," Usami smiled while feeling stupid as he waited for the boy to take his offer.
"Misaki, why being shy now?" Takahiro asked in a tone which wasn't very happy.
A long moment passed. Usami was nearing the end of his patience. Until finally to the silverhaired young man's surprise, a very small hand came in contact with his. So small as if it belonged to an infant. It very unsurely grabbed the candy from his hand accompanied by a meek 'thank you'.
Feeling much better, Usami straightened up and looked around. They were in the middle of the ever busy Yoyogi park. It was crowded since it was Sunday. Odorites and cosplayers were everywhere wherever one darted their gaze.
"Say why don't we all eat first?" Usami suggested. Even though he was broke himself, he had saved a portion of his pay for this very opportunity. But Takahiro shook his head. Obvious that he was bothered by something. His eyes were even tainted with swelling one would only get from crying.
A slight smile formed on Takahiro's lips before looking away. "We just came from our parents' funeral."
It hit Usami like a boulder. He almost slammed his head against the ground. How could have he not noticed? The two brothers were wearing all black with solemn expressions for crying outloud.
Usami was left speechless. His grin has been wiped off from what he heard. Takahiro had always been telling him how closely tied their family was. Suddenly being told that it wasn't there anymore, even if he was the jerkest of all, he'd be caught off-guard.
"It was an accident last week..." Takahiro explained. "No one wanted it to happen..."
"I'm sorry..." Usami genuinely muttered. His gaze drifted off to Misaki's small hands trying to unwrap the candy he just gave him. "I didn't know..."
"Usami, can I ask for a favor?"
"Huh? Ah-yes...of course..."
Takahiro took little Misaki's hand and pushed the kid forward. "I'll go to withdraw some money. There's a lot of people now I might lose my brother," Takahiro looked up at the electronic clocked saying 4:30 then at Usami with glazing eyes. "I'll be back in a few...can you watch over Misaki?"
"Nii-chan...?" the high pitched voice of a five year old kid croaked. Obviously afraid to be left behind with a stranger.
Takahiro ruffled his younger brother's mop of brown hair with an assuring smile.
"I'll be back. Akihiko nii-san here is a good friend. Just wait for me."
"Niichan I'll go with you..." little Misaki begged, stepping forward with the candy half unwrapped.
Usami then grinned broadly and nodded at Takahiro. "Sure don't worry. Just hurry. I am not very good with children."
"Thanks," the darkhaired male said patting Usami by the shoulder. It made Usami elated he could fly.
"I'll be back."
However, that was the last time Usami Akihiko ever saw Takahashi Takahiro.
"What the fuck?!"
It was 11 in the evening. His small rundown flat was messy and smelly. Not like it wasn't like this before. Usami Akihiko was just really angry. Angry at being the one to carry this unwanted responsibility. It has been a week. Agonizing week of hardships and annoyance.
"You have hands, can't you clean up after you've eaten?!" the silvehaired young man, whose temper was at its worse, growled. "I was stupid enough not to notice that afternoon was weird! I can hardly get by and now I have another mouth to feed...fuck it..."
All the while, little Misaki just took little steps, picking up the cup noodles and chopsticks from the small low table. He didn't utter a word or perhaps, have forgotten to talk at all. In Usami's anger at life and at Takahiro, he had forgotten to see that the victim here was no other than Misaki.
He lost his parents. And to top it all like an ugly present, his own brother had ditched him. But anger was such a dark cloud blocking one's eyes.
"I've had enough of this!" Usami blurted as he plopped down on his tattered futon. The last thing in his mind before exaustion consumed him was to dispose of the useless kid that was trying to curl up by the corner.
The summer sun was high up above their heads. Kids in their new clothes were running about the Yoyogi park where Usami last saw Takahiro. In tow was Misaki, dirty and silent. His green eyes just watched the happy kids playing who were probably just the same age as him.
The two were sitting on a concrete bench just under a huge tree for shade. Usami fished a cigarette from the pocket of his jeans, lighted it and puffed the smoke at Misaki's face without qualms.
"You miss your brother right? He's coming today to come pick you up."
The young boy's eyes just drifted to Usami's with a thousand meanings. Somewhere perhaps, the little boy knew that Usami was lying.
The puff of smoke appeared and disappeared like a dream. Families out in the park enjoying the sun, bonding in the open with their annoying laughter made Usami even angrier than he already was. He stubbed his cigarette against the concrete bench as if he was stabbing someone.
"You stay here. Your brother will be here in a few," Usami said as he was preparing to live.
Misaki jumped off the bench, his round eyes in panic. "Wh-where are you going? I'm coming with you..."
The other ruffled his hair exasperatedly. "I have work okay? Now be a good boy and stay here!"
Without sparing a glance, Usami took huge steps in a fast pace the little boy surely wouldn't be able to follow. Grittting his teeth, Usami continued. If his own brother can leave Misaki like that, why couldn't he? He and that dumb kid weren't of any relation in the first place.
"Usagi-san!" the little boy called, the running he did turned to a halt as he ran after his breath. "I'll be a good boy and stay here! Please come back soon...okay?"
Perhaps the heavens was also angry at what Usami was doing. The clear skies turned to an ugly shade of gloom. The wind caught up. And everyone was caught off-guard. A heavy rain poured, drenching everyone in the open. People were running in all directions for refuge. And it rendered Usami to a halt.
He turned to look where he left. The little boy was still standing, looking at him directly as the unannounced rain came pouring down on them.
"Usagi-san..." unsure and afraid, the kid called in a very low voice the rain drowned his voice.
"Tsk..." Usami faced forward and clenched his fists.
"USAGI-SAN!" the little boy called once again, this time croaky and frightened. "Come back soon!"
The one being called bit his lip and moved on. A series of 'Usagi-san' ringing in the sudden remote park, echoed chillingly. Calling Usami, begging.
Usami angrily increased his pace ignoring the voice calling to him. The boy who didn't cry out when he was left by his own blood-brother was now wailing. Obvious pain echoed through the loud noise of the pelting downpour. But Usami hardened his heart.
The bus stop was full of waiting passengers. Even under the shelter of the shed, they still weren't saved from the angry waters determined to wet them down to their skins. The moment the bus arrived, Usami used his tall frame to block the others. As if he owned it, he regally stepped in. But stopped midway.
It was during that time of the year too. He had put so much effort into forgetting that unpleasant dream. But it came pouring back to him just like the rain that was drenching him coldly in and out.
Hazy, drizzly summer that was. In front of a gloomy brick house, he watched the back of his mother leaving. Her long locks were flowing so beautifully that day.
"Be well Akihiko..."
Those were her last words. Usami was seven too young to understand what 'be well' meant. All he understood was that he was being abandoned. His mother looked so pretty and young in that tight fitting, exposing dress of hers. Perhaps too young to carry on supporting a kid like him. Perhaps she was tired and scared...
Perhaps Takahiro felt the same way. He was barely a high school graduate. Always under their parent's provisions. Now alone with a young brother to support, perhaps he was too overwhelmed he felt cornered. Perhaps he was afraid himself. Maybe he left to keep his sanity even if it meant leaving behind a blameless kid. Takahiro and Usami's mother were in situations Usami wouldn't understand.
But perhaps, Takahiro didn't mean it. Perhaps his mother didn't mean it...
"Hey are you getting in or what?!" an annoyed voice of a grumpy man came right at Usami's left ear. As if not in his wits, he moved to the side, blankly staring at the people one by one getting in the bus.
One man looked at Usami. "The kid didn't cry when his brother left him because he still have someone to wait together with. You..."
Blue eyes belonging to a little girl blinked at him. "But just now he's totally alone..."
Blankly, Usami stared at the wet ground. Those voices weren't from those strangers. The voices came from within him. It was his conscience.
Usami knew better than anybody else how painful being left could be and yet that.
"What am I doing?"
The steps he made sent splashes of water everywhere. The intensifying rain felt like needles against his skin. The water stayed in his lashes before freely running down to his jaws.
Usami was huffing. He could hear his own heavy breathing as he ran the last few yards from where he left the kid. And then he stopped.
"Are you lost?"
"Come with me...let's go to the police station. It's raining hard, you'll catch a cold like this..."
The lean eighteen year-old Usami drew a deep breath. He could not see even a glimpse of this little kid named Misaki. A few concerned citizens with umbrellas had gathered around the little fellow, offering help, offering comfort.
An old man bended a bit, patting Misaki's drenched hair. "Come boy, your parents would know to come for you at the nearest police station..." gently the old man reached for Misaki's hand. But the latter withdrew defiantly.
"I said I'll be a good boy and stay here," Misaki said loudly, betraying his tears of fright. "If I go and he comes back...he'd never see me..."
Gritting his teeth, Usami pushed his way through, his white shirt clinging to his body. People automatically gave when they saw a glimpse of recognition on Misaki's face. Circling the two, one small and frail, the other commanding and probably furious, the people watched the reunion.
"What a fool..." Usami grumbled. "Don't always believe in everything I say. When it rains, find a shelter!"
"But you said..."
Usami shook his head as if mocking the innocent loyalty of the boy. And then he knelt, extending a hand to Misaki.
The huge, green eyes stared long and hard. As if trying to find out of it wasn't an illusion, Misaki slowly bore his eyes at Usami's face.
Usami gave a faint smile too fast the others probably didn't notice. Then Misaki cried. He cried as he was running to the last person he could cling to.
"Don't leave your brother like that!" a woman hissed before turning away.
"Irresponsible teenagers really..."
Usami ignored the people. He stood carrying Misaki in his arms.
The little boy was too light for his age. Even for Usami, it was a bit disturbing to find it as if he wasn't holding anything. But the somewhat ticklish breath sobbing against his neck told him otherwise.
"Don't always believe in what I say...because I am a liar okay?" Usami urged, rubbing Misaki's small trembling back as he was walking out of the rain. "If you want to stay with a liar then fine. Just stop crying..."
Little Misaki just replied with sobs and hiccups, tightly clinging at Usami's neck.
chapter end notes:
* i deliberately changed Misaki's age here. XD
* thanks for the time and as always...excited to know your thoughts! XD