Red: I know I've been gone so long that someone thought I was dead and I was shameless enough to dare to update this fic. Go ahead! Shoot me for all I care! I will tell you I have this anti-flame barrier set up. Ouch!!! Don't throw your shoe at me! Don't you know you can hurt someone with it?
Koromon: Thanks to DarkMetalAngel of Destruction and Susumu who kicked Red's butt. My, Red is really pathetic.
He was falling…
To eternal darkness.
For a brief moment, lying where he was, he watched the moon shining.
Golden light softly comforted stars in the dim sky. So gentle. So beautiful.
He reached out, wanting a little bit of that comfort.
Too far. Empty hand. Nothing.
He wanted to be embraced,
For a brief moment,
Before his world ended.
Seek My Heart by Redvind
"So, how is he?"
An elder voice asked the man who just came downstairs. Hito didn't say anything, but his face was telling him enough. A frown between his brows couldn't be more obvious. "Not so good, hmm?"
"At least he's sleeping right now. He'll be alright." Hito took a seat next to Ikuma, then looked at the cause of his brother's breakdown with piercing eyes. "Meanwhile, we do have a lot to talk about, don't we?"
The three sitting opposite stared back. Their faces troubled as if they had a lot to ask as well. One of the three, the eldest blonde especially, looked angry and frustrated….at what? At Mamoru? At the shop owner? Or….
"Now, now. Why don't we introduce ourselves properly first? I'm Ikuma, this guy is Hito. He has been taking care of that boy since the beginning."
Hikari and Takeru bowed their heads in greeting. Then Takeru said, "I'm Takahashi Takeru. This girl is Yagami Hikari. That guy with scary face is my brother, Yamato."
Takeru glanced at Yamato and sighed inwardly. Even a tease couldn't break his guard.
"We are looking for my brother," Hikari took his place. "His name is Taichi. We've come here because of this," She handed them the photo.
Ikuma scanned it briefly. Hito didn't even take a glance, but he sighed.
So it was them.
"I see," Ikuma handed it back. "So you have come to see if it's your brother."
"But," Hito interrupted. "How can you be sure that he's the one you looking for?"
He took out a cigarette and lit it. The white smoke was floating. "Well, forget that. You seem so sure that he's your brother. Then my question should be…"
"How can we be sure that you are really his family?"
It's like a boom was dropped. Hikari and Takeru stared at him hard in disbelief. It was Yamato who took action.
"Well, why don't we go ask him then?" His voice was full of sarcasm, his eyes darker. The bitterness splashed on his tongue, but he didn't care. For now.
In contrast to him, Hito answered more easily. "You can't."
"Oh? Why not?"
"Because," he let some smoke out. "he doesn't know."
"What do you mean by that?"
Sensing that the conversation would take a while, Hito finished his smoke. ""Mamoru" is the name I gave him…that boy…I found him…four months ago, I think. He was lying on the beach. Wet and alone. More importantly…." He paused, as if approximating the situation. Three pairs of eyes set on him. Good. He did need their attention on what he's going to say. "he loses his memories."
The news stunned them. "…wha…what….?"
"It means," he carried on, like he was talking to little children too young to understand meaning of words. "that he doesn't remember anything. His past. His whereabouts. His family and friends. None. Nothing. So he can't tell you anything. "
Hito only let out more smoke, indifferent to Yamato's outburst. He understood it must be hard to accept something crap novels always used as reality. Well, judging from his…their expression, they realized that Mamoru's behavior wasn't faked.
Sometimes truth is hard to believe.
Snubbing his cigarette, Hito decided.
The talk was over…for today.
"So, what are you going to do now?" he asked. He knew they had no idea, but what had to be done must be done.
To his surprise, the only girl in the group spoke up. "Can I stay with him here?"
Hikari closed her eyes, then reopened. Her decision was made. "Because he's my brother. Even though he doesn't remember me, I remember him. Even though he is someone else now, he's always my brother. I know it's him. My proof…"
The girl toughed her chest where her heart laid. ", is here."
Hito stared at her. "You only just met him for a few minutes."
How could you be so sure?
"That was enough."
Seeing her eyes never wavered, he nodded. "Go upstairs. Mamoru is sleeping in my room…the master bedroom. You can use his room."
"I want to stay with him." She repeated.
Hito began to see the similarity between them. Stubbornness.
"What about you two?" Ikuma turned to ask the boys.
Takeru answered for both of them. "We would like to stay here as well…if it doesn't trouble you."
Hito waved his hand carelessly. "Use Mamoru's bedroom, then."
"His name is Taichi."
All heads turned to the direction the blurt words came. Yamato glared at Hito who didn't avoid his eyes.
"His name is Taichi. Call him his name."
Hito only smirked.
"Since Mamoru is sleeping in my room tonight. You two can sleep in his room. Just don't forget to tell your parents where you are."
Seeing his brother looked as if ready to smash the older man, he quickly ended the fight before it started. "Thank you very much."
Hikari already walked toward the stairs, Takeru, dragging Yamato with him, followed suit.
The older men watched, not speaking, until their backs were out of sight. Ikum frowned at Hito, disapproval of his early act.
"You shouldn't tease him like that."
"Couldn't help it." He joked, then the smile was gone and his face serious again.
"What do you think?" Ikuma asked.
"He is going to take Taichi back home."
Ikuma's eyes widened. The younger man sounded so confident.
"They are his family. And they are going to take him back."
"How do you know?"
Hito didn't answer. He simply looked at the upstairs, his mind else where.
He was sparkling.
His eyes were a dancing light and his smile laughing.
When he ran, it's like he's flying.
To be shot down,
To fall on the earth,
To be in his...
Alice looked up from the boy she's cuddling with when hearing the door opened. Three figures blocked the light from the doorway and she felt grateful because that way the electric light wouldn't disturb the sleeping boy. She growled in warning when one of them reached a hand to find the switch. As the hand retreated back, she calmed down.
"Never have thought they put a knight to protect sleeping beauty here." A light voice teased. That earned a snort from the tallest figure.
The smallest one, however, blindly walked into the room, trying to gain benefit from the light outside and not step on anything. When it came to the mattress, it stopped. Alice finally noticed that it's the girl from earlier. Her eyes focused on the boy beside her, full of relief mixed with sadness. A complicated feeling.
If Alice were human, she would sigh. So instead she just nestled her nose with the girl's face, trying to sooth her, very much like how she did with the pitiful boy here. It seemed to work, for the girl gave her a little smile before turning her face to the sleeping boy. Alice took that as her clue. She hopped off, giving the girl a place to stay tonight, and left the room, but not before waving her tail in a gesture to call the boys to follow her. In which, they seemed to get the signal. They followed her after one last look at the brunet in the dark room.
Alice led them to another bedroom, Mamoru's bedroom, knowing that if they needed a place to crush, it'd be here. The blonds looked surprised, then they smiled. One even patted her head and complimented her intelligence. She sat still for a while before walking off to her babies, where she settled, cuddled and slept.
It was getting dark.
And here she was, sitting underneath a brush, shivering while cold air breathed through leaves. She couldn't remember how long she had been here. She began to sob.
She wanted to go home.
"There you are!"
She looked up at her brother's voice, face strained with tears, eyes widened. As she stared at his grin, something heavy was lifted of her cheat. For her, his presence was the most comforting thing in the world.
"You really pulled it off this time, Hikari. Nobody could find you and it took me almost thirty minutes. But I told you I'd find you eventually, see? I was right." the he stuck his hand out, reaching for her. She did the same. And he held it tight. "Let's go home. I'm hungry. Mom should have made dinner already."
Taichi sang an old animation's song while he led his little sister home. The grip on her hand never once let go.
"Hahaue sama, O ganki de su ga…"
Hikari tugged it a little.
"Onii chan, onii chan."
"Did I do good? With the hiding…"
Taichi laughed, as happily as a little boy could be. "Sure you did, Hikari. I think you're getting better at hide-and-seek. I still beat you though. But one day you would be as good as me!"
The little girl smiled. "Yeah, you're the best, onii chan. No one can find you. They have to wait until you're bored and come out yourself."
He grinned. "Ha ha! That's because I'm so good at hiding!"
"Yeah. When we play hide-and-seek again, I will be the one who find you, onii chan."
Snickering, he tightened his hold on her hand. "I know you will."
She trailed her finger across his face. Delicately. Smoothly. She didn't want to wake him. Not after all that happened that made him deserve his rest.
Her eyes never left his face, watching it, observing it, through the dark.
The tip of her finger was shaking. It wasn't because of coldness.
"I've found you, onii chan."
She said that before closing her eyes, curling up to his warm body and falling asleep. Just like old times.
Moring came faster that he expected.
As the ray washed over his face, blinding him in a white light, he felt something warm and soft snuggle up to his side. It was breathing. It was so comforting he didn't want to get up despite the fact that he knew his brother would make him later. His first thought was Alice, but this wasn't furry like she usually felt. So he sat up, brushed brown hair behind his ear, turned and took a look.
And stopped short.
It was a girl. The girl from yesterday if he remembered correctly. One that accompanied the blonde costumer who yelled at him. And…whatever. The question was; how come she was here?
"You awake, hmm?"
A voice spoke. Mamoru turned to look at Hito who stood waiting at the door way.
"Ohayo." He said in a small voice. Though still confused, he could manage a little greeting.
"Ohayo. Whatever, if you're already up, come help me in the kitchen."
Mamoru dully nodded and got up, still confused, trying his best to not interrupt the girl's rest. He couldn't help looking at her face a little longer. His mind was longing for something to remember, but what?
"…I'm coming." With one last look at the girl, Mamoru got up and followed Hito to the kitchen.
While helping his brother making breakfast, the brunet didn't speak a word, or look up from his busy hands. Even his mind was else where. Not that Hito couldn't tell.
"Ah!" startled, he quickly looked at the man beside him. "Yes? What is it?"
"How long are you going to take to wash that?"
Hito pointed at the tomato in his hands. It'd been held under water since the start.
"Wah! Ah, sorry." Mamoru grinned sheepishly. "At least you know it's clean, right?"
He shrugged it off and asked. "Yeah. What's on your mind?"
Mamoru hesitated. Not because he didn't want to tell, but… "I…don't know."
"You don't know what you were thinking?"
"It's like…this feeling…I don't know…I was drifting. I felt something, but when I was about to touch it, I didn't know where it was…or where it came from. I keep missing it."
The brunet's voice was low and faint, making it hard to hear saved for the silence. Hito glanced at him with the corner of his eye.
"Are you sad?"
"Sad?" now the voice sounded plain, almost emotionless, but a little confused feeling was there. "I'm not…no, not really. Should I be?"
Hito didn't say anything back and let the silence take place. He couldn't answer that, he thought, whether he knew the right answer or not. But simply, maybe because he was lost for words, too.
How sad it could be…to not be able to remember why you should be sad…?
A loud knock broke an awkward atmosphere, telling them they got a visitor. They turned, and Mamoru almost dropped his dish.
It was the tall blonde guy from yesterday.
Since that girl was still sleeping in his brother room, and they came together, thinking clearly, he should have expected this.
It was like last night, he thought. That guy was frowning, surely angry at him for some reason.
"Morning." Hito greeted him. "Sleep well?"
"Just fine. Thank you, by the way."
Even his voice sounded annoyed. Mamoru frowned, not liking his tone. Hito, in contrast, seemed to know the reason and simply shrugged it off. Or maybe he was just more mature than both boys.
They continued preparing breakfast, very well aware of a glaze from behind. It made the brunet nervous, Hito noticed.
"Something you want?"
Rather than answering him, the blonde, still frowning, walked over and stepped in between the two brothers. "I'll help."
Mamoru's eyes narrowed. He stared at the blonde stranger hard, wondering what his motive truly was. He looked over at his brother…only to see that he's going to leave the room. To his fright.
"Alright, then, I'll leave it to you and go clean the shop."
"Wait! Are you going to leave me alone?"
"No, you aren't. He offers his help here, doesn't he?"
"What's wrong with him?"
He wanted to tell the older man that he felt uncomfortable with this stranger. But from the look of it, his brother wasn't going to change his mind no matter what.
"Good." Hito nodded, rubbing the brunet's head a little before leaving the room. "I know you'll be fine."
They were alone now. The silence was very heavy in a sudden. Mamoru wondered if it's only him since the other looked no different whatsoever. He kept himself occupied by washing vegetables, but this couldn't go on forever. In a blink of time, they were done.
Now what should he do?
"umm…thanks for helping. I will be fine by myself now. You should wait in the dinning room. You're the guest, after all."
For some reason, that earned him a glare from the blonde and Mamoru almost shrieked. What was his problem anyway…!?
He almost thought that his condition was getting better. This blonde made him think of his first day at the café. When he was so scared of facing people…then remembered that it was he who wanted to get over his fear in the first place….
Maybe…maybe he could endure it.
"I said I will help, didn't I?" The blonde snatched the bowl of fresh vegetables from the brunet's hands, still angry, possibly taking his silence in the wrong way. At least he was trying to be nice to make up for it. He said, a bit calmer this time. "What are you going to do with them?"
"Ah…I think we are going to have salad for breakfast…with eggs and bread."
The blonde nodded, taking a chopping block nearby, then started working with a speed that Mamoru could never keep up. A slice of tomato here, lettuce there, and finally the French dressing. The brunet looked in amazement. In no time, they were done.
"So, what's next?" he said with ease, like it took no effort to do at all.
"Ah, eggs, please."
The blonde heated the pan. "Could you get me some eggs?"
"Sure. Here." A bowl full of eggs was handed to the cook. The blonde nodded.
When it was hot enough, he asked again. "How should they be done?"
"Umm…Hito nii likes his egg crispy."
For some unknown reason, the blonde looked kind of icy when Mamoru said that.
"Alright." He flipped it a few time until the edge was hard and brown, then put it on a plate.
"Wow, it looks delicious. Better than I can make it."
"I bet." That's all he said before preparing the pan for the next one. "Why don't you set up the table?"
Sounded good. So he didn't have to stay with the other for a little while. Time for a breath. "Alright. I will take this with me."
Truthfully, the setup didn't take that long, but when he was back to the kitchen, all eggs were done. And that amazed him how fast this blonde stranger could cook.
"Wow, they look nice."
"Okay, which one is whose?"
"That crispy one is Takeru's—my little brother. The sunny-side-up one is Hikari's—the girl. Mine is omelet." The blonde gave a bit of explanation when seeing the troubled look on Mamoru's face. "That one is yours."
"Eh? But I don't like scrambled egg, especially with tomato…"
The blonde ignored his disgusted expression. "Oh, sure you do."
"No way! Hito nii tried making many kinds and I still don't like it."
"Well, since I put my hard work making it, why don't you just try?"
Mamoru looked like someone was telling him to go bungee jump on a thousands metered cliff. He wanted to protest, but shut himself when noticing the glare. Man…
"Alright. Here I go!"
A spoonful of scrambled egg was put into his mouth. At first he had a wired look on his face, then it slowly turned into a frown and a grin appeared on his surprised expression.
"This is good! I can't believe it. I never liked it when Hito nii made one." He put some more in his mouth, seemingly ready to start the breakfast.
"It's the one I made. Of course, I know you like it."
The sentence seemed to have an underline meaning, and Mamoru felt it, too. He just couldn't put a finger on what it was. So instead, he kept on eating.
"Quit it, or it will be all gone." The blonde scolded.
"Then you can make me another one, right?" he said, smiling.
The other snorted. "You wish."
"I do. I wish you make me another one!"
"That's all? Man, you really need more ambition in your life."
"Stomach first, work later."
"Have I ever heard of that before?"
The brunet didn't notice when the atmosphere became much lighter and much easier to breathe. It wasn't so bad to be with this blonde stranger. To think that at first he wanted nothing more than to run away from this guy as fast as he could, but look at where he was now, talking to him like they had been friends for years. What a wonder.
The scene might not be known by others, but Hito was watching them from the doorway. A little smile on his lips.
Hikari woke up with a start when she noticed her brother wasn't next to her.
At first her brain couldn't catch up with what happened last night. She had to rub her eyes off sleep to recall where and why she was here. When she did, the brunette almost jumped off the mattress, then ran around with a really fast beating heart. First excited for what she'd found, and scared for the possibility of losing again. She almost couldn't handle it. He had to…
She reached the dining room, panting heavily.
A greeting reached her ears.
"Moring, Hikari chan."
"Good timing. I was going to wake you up for breakfast. We are about to start."
The blonde walked around the table and took her hand in his, leading her to her seat. Sitting at the end of the table was the café owner she met last night. He gave a smile and a little 'Morning', then back to his newspaper. She looked around the room. Takeru was sitting next to her. Opposite them, two seats were still empty. But not for long. In a second two guys, one brunet and the other blonde, walked in with milk and juice in their hands. To her surprise and joy, when she looked at him, she could tell that something about her bro…about Mamoru had changed.
He was smiling. At Yamato.
No track of fear from last night could be seen on his expression. Like he accepted them again…like they were not strangers anymore…like he was back.
Hikari couldn't help it. She got up from her chair and ran to him, hugging him like she had wanted to since first seeing him again. A sobbing was echoing the room, but she didn't care.
In contrast, the guys…or maybe only Mamoru, didn't know what to do. Yamato and Takeru could understand her feeling, so they just let her break down the tension built up inside. Hito just kept on reading the newspaper and simply waited until she finished. He noticed that Mamoru didn't look at anyone for help. In stead, he never took his eyes off her and, obliviously to his shocked state, slowly raised his hands to embrace the smaller girl.
No one said anything.
It took a while before the brunet girl could clam down. She looked up and saw her brother's soft expression. She smiled. He smiled back.
"Umm…how about some breakfast? They are really delicious. I've tried them a bit."
Hito sweated, holding his face in his palm. "You've stolen food again? Didn't I tell you not to do that?"
"But they are really good. I couldn't help it! Besides, he made more. So, there's no problem!" Mamoru countered.
"I don't think that's the point…"
"Of cause it is! No one will be left striving. So dig it up!"
Listening long enough, Yamato waved his hand to get the brunet's attention. "Hello? I'm the one who made them. Shouldn't I be the one to say that?"
"Oh…umm" he blinked, pretending to think. ",you're right. Go ahead."
"You already did that." The blonde sighed. The brunet grinned sheepishly.
Feeling a little shaking in his arms, Mamoru looked down. The girl was trying her best not to laugh out loud like a lady shouldn't. But that was hard. And she lost herself. A nice singing voice of laugh filled the room. Unable to resist, the guys joined her as well. It sure took a while before they calmed down, and took even longer for the lingering voice to disappear. Mamoru gentlemanly moved the girl's chair, then they started to eat.
The food was great. They didn't talk much, just exchanging words about the weather news, or asking for sauce. However, Mamoru couldn't help but felt a glance or two on him. Sometimes he would look up and caught the stranger's eyes before they pretended to ask for something or just look away. He frowned, not at all liking this sneaky attention.
"What's up with you guys? Hey…" he looked at the blonde on his right, opening his mouth wide but the next right word seemed to fail him. That's when Mamoru realized he didn't know their names, despite having breakfast with them now and having talked to one of them during the preparation of said breakfast. ",sorry…what's your name?"
No one needed to be told that the blonde was both annoyed and angry; his gesture and eyes spoke louder than words. Mamoru winced a little, but he expected this, thinking it's his fault for not asking sooner…nevertheless, he had spent half of the morning with this guy! The brunet somehow felt the blonde had the right to be angry…just a little.
Hito, sensing the tension, finally said. "My bad. I forgot to introduce you guys to Mamoru. Would you mind? Since it seems that you will be sticking around here for a while and everything…"
The blonde made a face before grunting. "Yamato."
The other two, to Mamoru's relief, were much pleasant. The little blonde pointed at himself. "I'm Takeru. Yamato nii's little brother. And this," he gestured to the girl. ",is Hikari."
"Yamato, Takeru and Hikari." The names rolled out of his mouth very easy, as if they were called so many times before. As they talked, he even got their names right on his first try. Unlike the times he tried to learn the regular customers' names and faces. This little discovery surprised him. And it didn't go unnoticed by Hito's eyes.
"You guys are going to stick around here for a while?"
"Mamoru," Hito started before any of the newcomers could say anything. "These guys come to look for their lost friend and take him back."
Their reactions were quite different. Yamato was glaring at the older man, Takeru watching between those two anxiously, while Hikari looked straightly at him.
"Oh, I see….I… I'm sorry to hear about your friend."
"That friend of them is also Hikari's big brother."
"That…that must be hard for you." He directed those words to the girl. She meekly nodded with a sad smile.
For some reason, he felt like something was stabbing his chest while seeing that. Mamoru thought that maybe it's because he sympathized to them, losing someone so close. He didn't know what to say to make them feel better, so he settled for the formal sympathy speech. Yamato just turned away while Hikari and Takeru looked troubled and preferred to lower their faces.
"So you gonna be here for the time being?"
Takeru looked pointedly at Hito now, as if asking for permission or confirmation of their stay.
"They are going to stay with us until they can take him back."
Mamoru told Hikari. "Don't worry. I will help you look for your brother, too. You can stay as long as you need."
"They've already found him."
All heads turned to Hito's direction at once. Yamato, Takeru and Hikari openly stared disbelievingly, not knowing what the man's motive was. Yamato wondered what he was trying to do. His words were strong and firm, not a trace of hesitation in his voice, which meant he could be obviously up to something. The only one who seemed happy about the declared statement was Mamoru. He gave the newcomers a big smile that could lit up the dark.
"Really? That's great! So are you going to bring him back with you? Should we go talking to him? Where is he now?"
The cheerful atmosphere a moment ago suddenly turned awkward just like how as Mamoru's smile dropped. He didn't dear to look at others' expression. "You mean, you're Hikari's lost brother? I would never have guessed. You two don't look alike."
Yamato distinctly groaned, holding his head in his hands. Takeru looked troubled, like he wanted to laugh out loud if he'd not been in this tense situation.
"It's not me." All in all, Hito was the only one who was calm through everything. He just finished his coffee, and pointed out.
It was him.
No mistake. He couldn't believe his eyes. He had always thought he was just some imaginary illusion to be put on a white paper. And here he was.
And very far away.
He almost disappeared from his sight. He might not be back. He might be out of his life forever.
He wouldn't allow that.
He had to do something to prevent it happening.
To Be Continued....