.Word Count: 1707
This is horribly sappy and OOC... but hey, I wrote the ending that I wanted the anime to have. Yes, this story takes place after the very last episode, so it has slight spoilers for the end.
Oh, and I had so much trouble deciding on a title for this...
"Feelings you have for each other cannot be known unless you voice them!"
That's what he'd said to Hikaru that morning in Karuizawa. In retrospect, Kaoru couldn't help but think what a hypocrite he was. It made his heart ache to think about what he'd done, but when it came to choosing between his own happiness or that of his brother's, Kaoru could only make the unselfish choice.
Hikaru had the chance to be happy, to get married and have a normal life. But Kaoru...
I can never be happy with anyone but him. Which means I will never be happy, because I cannot be with him, Kaoru thought bitterly, leaning into the palm of his hand while he absently gazed out of their second-story bedroom window.
"Ne, Kaoru, what's wrong?"
Kaoru turned to his brother, laying on top of the bedcovers reading a magazine, since his attempts to play Gameboy one-handed had failed. "I know I'm boring like this, but you looked like a zombie just now."
Kaoru closed the book he hadn't been reading, leaning back in his chair and favoring his twin with a practiced smile.
"I'm not bored. I'm thinking. Besides, you must be the bored one, with your arm like that."
"Yeah, it sucks."
Kaoru moved to sit beside Hikaru on the edge of their bed, moving cautiously to avoid jostling him. He said, somewhat sadly while eyeing the sling holding his brother's right arm, "I wish I had sprained my arm instead." Hikaru was clearly irritated the moment these words left his brother's mouth.
"Tch, Kaoru, that's such a stupid thing to say! Why would you say that?" he demanded, a deep, worried frown etched on his face.
"Then, at least, I wish I had sprained my arm also, so you wouldn't be enduring the pain alone," Kaoru snipped stubbornly. Hikaru's expression said that he was no more pleased with this amendment than the original statement. He turned his face away to stare sulkily at nothing, muttering, "Maybe you'd have your wish if you weren't so insistent on learning different skills."
The last words were a slap in the face. Where had that come from? Kaoru looked at his hands in his lap, guilty and embarrassed.
"I thought it was for the best." Kaoru glanced up to see Hikaru's reaction, but his face was still turned away. Kaoru gently gripped his brother's left shoulder, urging Hikaru to face him. Kaoru's heart broke when his brother reluctantly turned, eye wet with an unshed tear.
"Hikaru?" Kaoru asked, somewhat shocked. Hikaru didn't cry-- something was obviously troubling him greatly.
"You think being different is better?" Hikaru asked with a strained voice. "Lately, I've noticed things, small things that you do... Well, if it's what you want, Kaoru..."
"No, Hikaru!" Kaoru desperately shook his head, moving from Hikaru's shoulder to grasp his good hand. "It's not what I want, I just thought that if I distanced myself from you a little, you could become more independent. That way... That way..." Kaoru wiped at his eyes with his free hand, feeling weak and helpless. To be truthful, he enjoyed their way of being different and yet the same-- or rather, he'd come to love his brother as an individual, in addition to being his "other half". He now saw Hikaru as the stronger one. Hikaru was the protector, the one who could always be counted on to bravely remove spiders and other yucky things, who courageously lead the way in all they did, while Kaoru himself was still pathetically needy and clingy in comparison, just an accessory to his brother's brilliance. Wasn't it the right thing to sacrifice his own happiness, his own selfish desire to keep Hikaru to himself, so that this brilliant, wonderful person his brother had become could fully develop? He had never stopped to think that maybe Hikaru didn't want to be pushed into the world, if it upset him enough to nearly make him cry.
"...That way, you could have the confidence to tell Haruhi your feelings, without feeling like you have to stay behind with me," Kaoru finished, breath hitching as he spoke.
Hikaru's eyes widened as the meaning of this statement sunk in. Kaoru inwardly cringed at the hurt look on his brother's face that came next-- it was a look his brother should never have, and he'd somehow put it there, when he'd only been trying to do the right thing.
"What about Haruhi?" Hikaru asked, his voice strangely neutral, as if he couldn't quite decide whether or not he should be upset, or with whom.
"I can tell that you like her, and... I think it would be unfair of me to keep you from her, if she is what will make you happy."
"Kaoru." Kaoru was startled by the thick, dangerous tone his brother used. "Of course I like Haruhi. She's our best friend! But what makes you think she's any more than that? I mean... what could ever make you think she means more to me than you do? Don't you... don't you feel the same?" Hikaru's voice was suddenly very weak, fragile. His eye's probed Kaoru, as if afraid to hear the answer.
"Of course I do! If it were up to me, we'd be together forever. But that's just not realistic. Don't you want to ever get married, have a family?"
"No." The response was without hesitation, the reply of a spoiled child being asked to give up his favorite stuffed animal. Hikaru had never been more sure of an answer in all his life. He squeezed Kaoru's hand, hard, possessively, as if reaffirming that he would never let go whether Kaoru wanted it or not.
Despite the sudden flood of relief that filled Kaoru's chest, he had to ask: "Why?"
"Because, I--" but Hikaru stopped, his eyes flicking to the side and then back to Kaoru, as if struggling to decide whether or not he should continue. Finally, he said carefully, "You remember what you said to me that one time over summer break, that... that I need to tell my feelings, or whatever? Well... um, never mind." Hikaru's face flushed in embarrassment and he looked down.
"Please tell me," Kaoru pleaded softly. "I know talking about your feelings is hard for you, but please, I want to know whatever it is."
"Even if it makes you hate me?" his twin asked darkly.
"Hikaru, I could never hate you. I swear," Kaoru promised.
"...Well, that night, before the festival, everything that happened, that I said in the carriage, you know?" The older twin was obviously struggling with his words, eyes glancing everywhere but at Kaoru. His hand unconsciously gripped Kaoru's almost uncomfortably tight. "About Tono-- about Tamaki. I'm glad that we met him, because he made us different, you know? I mean different in a good way, like the way you act at the club... I really like it, and, Kaoru..."
Kaoru's heart stopped. 'My God, is he going to say what I think he's going to say?!'
Kaoru's breath left his lungs. Or did he even have lungs anymore? The world was suddenly small and constricted. Hikaru still wouldn't meet his eyes, and his hand had went limp in Kaoru's grasp.
"You mean what I think you mean?" Kaoru asked carefully. Up until now, he'd felt somewhat... dirty. Ashamed. What kind of person was he, to want his brother? It was disgusting. And yet, he couldn't alter his feelings. Now he was hearing that Hikaru felt the same? He was sure there must be some mistake. That kind of perfect ending could only happen in stories. The chances of two brothers both falling in love with one another was a coincidence on a cosmic scale, straight out of the sappy, cheesy, unrealistic shojo manga that their acts were based on. It wasn't real, it wasn't normal, he was a perverted freak, and...
Hikaru nodded weakly.
"Please don't hate me," he said miserably.
"Hikaru, I love you, too."
"I know it's bad, it's so wrong of me--"
"Hikaru, I'm saying that I love you, too."
Hikaru finally met his brother's eyes, like a scolded dog wondering if its master was still angry. He was confused by the most beautiful, relieved smile he'd ever seen on his brother's face, as if he might burst into tears of joy at any moment.
"Oh, Hikaru, we're both so stupid! We've been together for sixteen years, we're supposed to be closer to each other than anyone could ever hope to be, and yet we never saw what was right in front of us the whole time..." Kaoru laughed and Hikaru smiled weakly, insides still churning sick with nervousness. He was still unsure what to make of his twin's reaction, which seemed too good to be true.
"You... you're really okay with it?" he asked.
"I was so tore up for so long--" Kaoru finally broke down. He pulled his hand away from his brother's to wipe at his eyes, embarrassed to be crying when everything was alright.
"Hey, Kaoru..." Hikaru cautiously placed a hand on his twin's shoulder, unsure of what to do.
"I was so ashamed of myself, Hikaru. Don't you feel ashamed?"
Hikaru looked thoughtful, then shrugged.
"I did, but I've lived with it so long that I guess I just got used to putting up with feelings that I couldn't act on. But if you feel the same way, then it's okay, right?" He paused. "Um, Kaoru, you're really okay with it?"
Kaoru removed the hands from his face and looked Hikaru in the eye.
"Yeah." His mouth quirked into a smile, which Hikaru mirrored. A stretch of silence followed as each boy's mind worked to process everything that had just been said and what it would mean for them. It was almost too much to fathom. Neither had expected the other to feel the same, and each had been resigning himself to a life of unhappiness, and suddenly, all that was gone.
"What now?" Kaoru finally asked, almost inaudible. Hikaru's tiny smile became a grin. He picked up Kaoru's hand in his and kissed his brother's fingers, making Kaoru blush.
"Happily ever after, I think."