At one point, he just lost count of the years he had longed for that which he had been denied. He stopped keeping track of the number of times that he had had to hide, waiting for a chance to see her, the woman who should've loved him more than anyone else in the world, but who had decided to erase him from her life. Could nobody see that he looked just like her? Didn't she ever notice? He hated having to hide, but his father said that she shouldn't see him, and he obeyed, truly believing that it was for the best. He kept on being a stranger to his own family because he loved them too much to see them hurt.
Sure, his father really tried to be there for him, but through the years their relationship changed and they were not close anymore. In the beginning, his father would be there for most of the big events of his life: his first day of school, his first missing tooth… He even took the time to help him with his homework sometimes and to buy him his first bicycle. And then, everything changed. His father never came on the day Momiji sat until well onto the night on the front of Hatori's house, waiting for his first bicycle riding lesson. His father apologized the next day, saying that Mama had to go to the doctor. At Momiji's questioning look, his father broke into a grin and announced that Papa and Mama were having a baby. In the end, it was Hatori who finally took the time to teach Momiji how to ride a bike. Hatori became more involved with Momiji's life, filling in the blanks his father left. Over the years, his father's visits kept on getting shorter and with longer periods of time in between. Later, Momiji realized that his father never talked about the new baby as Momiji's "baby brother or sister". And thus, Momiji was excluded from her sister's life even before she was born.
In time, the once crushing pain caused by their rejection (or rather, lack of acknowledgement) dulled. It became more of a dormant ache, the type that is never gone, but to which you grow used to and finally accept as a part of yourself. He knew that what had happened was not his fault, since he was not to blame for being cursed. He had never asked for it. However, no matter what he did, every time it seemed to him like he was about to get closer to his family, he was shoved away. He kept on being someone else's child. He went from hiding and watching over them from a distance to start avoiding the places they frequented fearing getting caught "spying on them"
Even if he could never be a part of Momo's life, he couldn't help it but to love her. All his hopes were now on Momo. He kept daydreaming that someday she would know that he was her big brother and that she would accept him. He had already given up on his father and mother, but for some reason, he just couldn't detach himself from his sister. Sometimes he would walk with no apparent destination only to find himself in front of Momo's school. He would then watch Momo from across the street while she walked home with her friends after her classes. She would catch a glance of his retreating figure once in a while, and that was how she recognized him on the day that they were formally introduced for the first time.
Momo hated waiting in general. She was the kind of girl who would rush to things and started everything at home just for the sake of not having to waste time doing nothing. Most people didn't know that, since she was so shy around strangers that she barely spoke to anyone besides her parents. She couldn't stand it just sitting there until her violin teacher finished with her previous student. It was going to take them half an hour more! Her mother had an appointment somewhere else, so she had dropped her off at school earlier than usual. She thought that things couldn't get more boring, so she decided to go out of that place if only in her mind, and then she remembered him: the blond boy who she saw sometimes near her school. Had she not known better, she would've sworn that he had followed her on the way back home more than once. It had to be a coincidence, right? Maybe he lived near her house, but then, why did it seem to her like he was trying really hard not to be seen? Curiosity was starting to get the better of her, and she was considering calling out for the mysterious boy next time she saw him. She knew that he was a member of the Souma family. She had seen him once at her father's building and her mother had told her so. Did that mean that he was a cousin? Since her parents weren't really fond of keeping in touch with the family, she had grown up apart from the Soumas, and since her mother's family lived in Germany, she didn't know what it was like to have uncles, aunts and cousins. On top of it, though being an only child meant that she had all of her parent's attention, which was great, it also meant that she felt lonely most of the time. She sometimes daydreamed about having an older brother, someone to play with and who would protect her from the other kids who made fun of her at school because of the way she spoke.
While she entertained herself with these fantasies, the door of the room opened and someone stepped out saying good-bye to the teacher. Momo raised her head to see who the person was, and found herself looking straight into the face of the mysterious boy!
Momiji stood rooted to the spot, trying to figure out what to do or say. Since he was caught off-guard, the first thing he did was stammer "M-Momo!" while looking for a possible escape route. However, when he dared to look back at her, her happy face and vibrant brown eyes just made it impossible for him to just say good bye and flee. He glanced to the clock on the wall, put on a fake smile on his face and asked in the cheeriest voice he could manage:
-"Momo-chan, what are you doing here? Don't tell me you are also taking music lessons!" – He laughed nervously, but his eyes sparked with a light that hadn't been there for some time now.
Momo couldn't stop staring at him. Now that she had the opportunity to see him up-close, she realized just how much this boy and her self looked alike. They had the same brown eyes and blond hair, and even the same little, almost unnoticeable freckles scattered on the tip on their noses. His nervous smile reminded her of someone, but she couldn't place where she had seen that same expression before. She didn't even hear her teacher saying that she needed to go get something and that she would be back on time for class. When she looked around, they were alone in the corridor. Momiji was looking at her with an expectant expression, and then she remembered that she had been asked a question.
-"Yes I am! I'm learning how to play the violin!" – She answered proudly. The boy's smile grew so much that she thought that it wasn't going to fit in his face!
-"That's great! I'm also taking violin lessons!" – He showed her the violin suitcase, and he started to talk about how much he liked music, while asking her how she was doing in her own lessons.
They talked happily until the teacher came back and told Momo that they were starting the class. As her classmates entered the room, she remembered something.
-"Umm… Onii-chan, what's your name?" – She felt embarrassed to be asking this after they had been talking to each other for half an hour, but she had to know! However, she forgot about her embarrassment when she saw his eyes. She couldn't figure out all of the emotions reflecting in his them, but she knew that he felt sad and maybe hurt. He lowered his eyes to the ground for a second before he looked back up again, happy grin back on his lips as he replied a little too cheerfully: "My name's Momiji!"
Momiji said good-bye to his sister as she entered the classroom and closed the door after her. He kept hearing that word in his mind over and over again. 'Onii-chan. I wonder if there will ever be a day when you call me that for real'
Shortly after that, his father asked Momiji to drop out of his violin lessons. Momo had grown interested in him, and his father was afraid of the unknown situation. She had told her mother about how much Momiji and her self looked alike at dinner that night, and her father wanted to avoid unwanted questions. Once more, Momiji had to sacrifice himself for the sake of his family. He didn't quit playing the violin, though. It was on one of those afternoons when he practiced that Tohru came to his house and delivered Momo's message: She wanted to know if he would like to be her big brother. Finally, one of his dreams was becoming a reality! He was so happy! The tiny flame of hope grew inside of his heart and he dared to hope once again. Even against his better judgment, he began to make plans for the wonderful future he was going to share with his sister.
His dream, however, was not meant to come true.