A/N: Okay, let's get started. By the way, special thanks to Lady Moon, iamkagomeiloveinuyasha, Usagi Uchiha Yuy Kudo, Momosa Loves, Fire Dolphin, MotherNight, and An Angel Flying with broken wings! I'm extremely pleased to receive their feedback! I'd also like to apologize for a lack of updates...I took some time off to participate in a live journal challenge.
Also, this is still Day 1 during this chapter; don't worry, I'll warn you if we go to another day if you can't tell.
Back at Usagi's house, Hotohori once again sat on the couch she laid upon, and began to furiously fan her. "This is getting old..." Axel remarked from his position across the room, leaning against the wall. The little boy they'd brought home had been nicely settled into a chair, still dozing away. "I bet all this is your doing..." Axel sneered, "Ever since you showed up, more of these weirdos have appeared."
Hotohori grunted, "As if you can really blame me for this. Besides, the little boy was probably dazed and confused when he said that. When he awakens, I'm sure he'll come to his senses and realize that Usagi must have simply looked like someone he knew." Axel seemed to ponder this for a moment, before agreeing with a nod of his head. Pushing off of the wall from where he was positioned, Axel strode over to where the little boy was asleep.
"Hey," Axel said a little mischievously, "How about we wake him up and get the dirt on him?" Axel crooked his head to the side, raising his eyebrows in amusement and question. Hotohori snapped the fan shut and stood up, "Actually, that might not be such a bad idea...just make sure to remember that he's a kid, okay?" Axel waved the thought away, but he knew this as well as anybody would. If he woke this brat up and made him cry, then Usagi would definitely wake up and the two 'brothers' knew that they couldn't put anymore stress on their Imouto-chan.
Pinching the little boy's nose, Axel laughed as he lurched up in an attempt to get air. "Hey, what's the big idea? Huh?" the boy wiped under his nose and gave a slight cough, "You could've killed me!"
"Tch, as if." Axel rolled his eyes, "If I wanted to kill you I could do it with my bare hands." Hotohori raised a hand to his forehead and pinched the skin between his eyes, "Oh, that's sensitive, you heathen. Allow me to say that you're a wonderful child-person."
"Hey, you shut up!" Axel turned with a pointed finger, "If you don't like the way I do it, then help yourself!" And with that, he stormed out of the room, down the hallway, and out the front door. "Good," Hotohori remarked in the silence that followed the slamming of the door, "Now don't come back." his smirked faded as he returned to the little boy, taking off his coat as he did so and placing it on the table.
"Who was that?" the boy grimaced, scrunching his nose, "He was really loud...and ugly!" Hotohori gave an inward laugh, his brain calculating that the boy must have meant he (Hotohori) was beautiful. "No one you need to be concerned with anymore...what's your name?"
"It's Naruto!" he cheered, obviously not shy around strangers.
"I see, my name is Hotohori...I'm this girl's older brother." he felt the need to point it out, motioning to the half-awake blond on the couch. "Onii-sama..." she whispered, still feeling a little dizzy as she sat up, Usagi turned to look at the young boy on the chair where they had laid him.
"Onei-chan!" he cheered, rushing over to her as she sat up and enveloped her in a hug, "It's been so long..." Naruto said, not noticing the glance that passed between Hotohori and Usagi. "L-Look," Usagi said, trying to be as gentle as she normally was as she didn't want to hurt the little boy's feelings, "I think you've gotten me confused with someone else. Did your sister get hurt in that car crash with your parents?" Usagi's voice was a little weak, knowing the pain he would probably be feeling after she'd reminded him of this tragedy.
Naruto's facial structures seemed to collapse at hearing this, soon though, he smiled once again, "Oh, you think my parents died in that crash?"
"They didn't?" Hotohori asked, feeling the need to speak now that boy had had the chance to speak some.
Naruto scoffed, "No! My parents died a long time ago! I was just playing nearby when that car careened on the road and nearly hit me." he pointed to the injury on his temple, poking curiously at the newly appeared bandage.
"Hey, wait a minute...you said that your parents died a long time ago, so...how am I your sister? My parents died...just a little while ago." Usagi questioned as Naruto shrugged his small shoulders. "Well, it seemed like a long time to me, considering I haven't seen you guys in such a long time!"
"They just keep showing up, don't they?" Hotohori questioned for both of them to hear, not realizing that he was no better than Axel or Naruto in that position. The brunette crossed his arms and took a seat on an empty piece of furniture to watch the rest of the events unfold. "Oh, that reminds me!" Usagi piped up, drawing his and Naruto's attention to the blond-haired girl, "Where's Axel at?" Hotohori gave a small smile, "He went for a little walk."
Usagi only nodded.
"Damn bastard..." Axel cursed, purposely trying to make scuffing noises with his shoes as he walked aimlessly down the concrete sidewalk. His green eyes turned downward, he brushed by countless of people who actually had an idea of where they were going...unlike him. Walking around this town felt completely foreign to him and yet he also felt as if he'd lived here his entire life. Happening to glance upward at that moment, he caught sight of the time on a giant t.v. screen across the street, it read 4 o'clock. "Great..." he mused, knowing that darkness was to come soon and he was too far away from anywhere to take shelter before then.
"Damn that brat, too..." he cursed again, the idea of the other two so-called 'brothers' unable to stay away from his thoughts. Hotohori, he wasn't quite sure about, but he could tell for a fact that Naruto was a faker. Something about the kid put him off greatly...like, there was just something he wasn't telling them. Instead of thinking that he was completely confused, Axel had a hunch that was very unlike himself; that the boy may actually have been related, but only as a half-brother.
'My thoughts are all jumbled 'cause of him.' Axel thought, his lack of sense of direction failed to let him realize that he had been walking in a complete square, and was now headed back towards Usagi's house. 'I just don't know what to do anymore...first, I get thrown into this familiar town but without a thought to lead me...'cept for some things and Imouto-chan, of course.' he corrected, her smiling face staring at him from his memories. Without warning though, a sudden hand on his near sleeveless shirt caught his attention.
For a moment, Axel couldn't believe what he was seeing...long raven hair with purple eyes to match...Rei?! He was so much in shock he barely heard the girl speak, "Excuse me...sorry, wrong person." she seemed to correct herself and ran off without another word. Axel stood dumbfounded, tempted to run after her to see if he was right, but the girl was soon lost in the crowd just as he was.
'Dammit,' Rei thought as tears welled up in those same purple eyes that had captivated the red-haired man, 'It really is him...'
Back at the Tsukino household though, not all was in good shape either. First of all, Naruto had torn the house apart whilst playing a game of make-believe, ninjas or something or other, and had left the older ones to clean up the mess. Then, he'd complained about being hungry, and seeing as Usagi couldn't cook to save her life, Hotohori quickly found a use for himself. Hotohori didn't especially like doing things for himself, seeing as other people were usually happy to do it for him (he questioned this thought later), but the boy and Usagi ate more food than...well, to sum it up, let's say a lot.
"You know, if you didn't claim to be my brother, I'd think the two of us were married with children." Usagi remarked, sighing as she rested her chin on the wooden table while Hotohori washed the dishes; he'd been intent on washing them alone as not to trouble her. The brunette man laughed heartily as Usagi gave a little smile, "What's so funny? Don't you agree...Nii-sama?" she asked sweetly at the end, coating it with a fake, sugary tone.
"No, no," he responded, "the truth is what makes it funny. Although," the man paused as he put the last dish away into a random cabinet, then motioned for the both of them take up seat in the living room, "I think we can have some peace now...the boy appears to be fast asleep." Hotohori pointed to Naruto, who laid knocked out quite comfortably on the floor. Usagi gasped, giving a quick glare at Hotohori, "We can't let him sleep like this!" she cried, picking up the somewhat tiny boy and laying him back in the chair he'd been in earlier.
"Now we can have some peace," she smiled, sitting in her own seat. Suddenly, a thought struck her, "Do you think it was wise to have given him all that sugar?" Hotohori shrugged at the question, "Looks like it to me."
"Well anyway, he's the least of our problems right now. Right now, we need to find out where Onii-san went!"
"Onii-san?...do you mean Axel?" Usagi nodded, "Why on Earth do you want to find out where he is?"
"Because," she protested with fists clenched, "he may be a bit of a jerk and really hot-headed like Rei-chan, but we can't just leave him out in the cold for tonight. Who knows what might happen?" Now it was Hotohori's turn to frown, twisting his lovely face, "I'm sure the worst he would do is light his sorry behind on fire."
"Nii-sama! Come on!" Usagi protested as she jumped towards him and grabbed his arm, successfully jerking him off of his seat. Taking one last look at Naruto to make sure he was really asleep, Usagi with Hotohori in tow headed for the door. However, the ringing of the phone stopped them dead in their tracks. The two exchanged glances before Hotohori extended a hand, meaning that she lead the way.
"Hello?" Usagi answered, who would be calling when it was nearly dark out?
"This is Rei." the other girl supplied from her end of the phone.
"Oh, hi Rei-chan! What's up?" she returned, all pep.
"I've got a freeloader over at the temple." the raven-haired girl short-handed, leaving the blond girl quite confused. Freeloader? Did she even know any freeloaders? And why would Rei be telling her this anyway? "He's getting on my last nerve...I thought we all agreed we'd split up until the time was right!"
"Rei, you're not making any sense." Usagi admitted, unable to help wondering if the girl knew something that she didn't.
Rei sighed on her end of the phone, "It's Axel, duh? Please come and get him if its not too much for you." she pleaded, slightly begging as Axel's rambunctious voice was heard in the background. He was yelling something about them not seeing each other for so long and how she should have been happy to see him, not ready and willing to boot him out on his ass. Before the Moon Princess could answer, a newly appeared Hotohori grabbed the phone from her hand,
"Miss Rei, this is Hotohori. As Imouto-chan and I have...a prior commitment, could you possibly return him yourself?" the brunette questioned, referring to Axel as one would refer to a puppy or a borrowed item. There was short silence before Rei answered again, crashes being heard before hand, "Sorry, but who are you? Well, I guess that doesn't matter as long as Usagi's in good hands-"
"I assure you she is," he interjected.
"See, Hotohori-san, that's the problem though. Axel won't leave, he wants to stay over my temple for the night. I can't get him to budge, unless of course, he's pacing around the room bitching like a little baby!" she obviously said the latter in a tone the red-head was sure to hear. "Even so, we would be much obliged if you were to bring him back. Perhaps you can stay for the night, I'm sure Imouto-chan wouldn't mind..." looking at the girl he watched her nod, and then reaffirmed this for the girl on the phone.
"Alright, we're coming over." Rei decided, yelling at Axel some more before she parted ways with the two over at the Tsukino house. Hanging up the phone, Usagi told the brunette that she was going to run into the bath really quick, hopefully going to be finished by the time that her friend and so-called 'brother' arrived.
"So, what's with all this Imouto-chan stuff?" Rei questioned playfully as she held her cup of hot chocolate closer as the two girls sat themselves comfortably on the floor of Usagi's room. Girl time, they'd explained to the conscious guys and disappeared upstairs. "You know, it's so weird. One day, they just showed up and said that I was their sister!"
Rei looked dumbfounded for a moment, her face showing that a question was wanting to be asked. Then, as if remembering something, she quickly changed the subject, "Don't worry, I'm sure everything will work out fine. Besides, who'd complain about living with such a hunk like Hotohori-san? I mean-"
"Rei, how do you know Axel?" Rei stopped, her mouth agape as she was still in mid-sentence.
"Huh? How do I-? Oh, I bumped into him today when I was out shopping for grandpa. He told me I looked like a friend of his sister's, then he said it was you and he followed me home. He told me that he'd been a fight with Hotohori-san."
"Oh, I see," It sounded believable enough to the blond girl, but something in Rei's tone told her otherwise. "Yeah, but who knows what they were fighting about anyway?" Usagi joked, laughing a little at the possibilities of their topic during the fight. Rei smiled in return, turning her gaze away as her purple eyes wavered, her mind obviously dwelling on something pretty heavy.
"I'm bored..." Naruto sighed, his nap now over that Axel and the new girl, Rei, had come for a visit. Laying his chin in the palm of his hand, he rested his arm on the arm of the chair and looked around the room. The other two 'brothers' were silent, Hotohori with his arms crossed and eyes closed and Axel sitting slumped over with the look of anxiety-attack written all over his face. "I want Onei-chan to come and play with us. Me and Onei-chan can be the ninjas and you two can be the samurai!" he smiled widely, almost as if he was trying to make the both of them angry.
"I'm afraid that Imouto-chan wants some alone time with her friend," Hotohori answered calmly, barely flinching even as he talked. Suddenly, he cracked an eye and looked at Axel, obviously expecting the red-head to say something like he always did.
"I...don't wanna play." Axel answered strangely in a very calm manner, his head burying itself into his palms. Hotohori's eye widened, wondering for a moment if this was the same Axel that had stormed out earlier that day. Something, undoubtedly, must have happened.
"Oh come on!" Naruto yelled, his childish nature showing out quite a bit, "First Onei-chan disappears on me, then you two act like the complete dicks that you are!"
"Hey, watch your mouth, little boy!" Hotohori reprimanded, what would Usagi think if she heard that kind of language coming from the boy? Then again, he could probably get away with it by blaming Axel. Snickering inwardly, he stopped when he saw the sad sight of Axel...once again, there was no snappy retort from the red-head.
"But I'm already 13! I can say what I want! Besides, I've got a 'game' you can't refuse!" Naruto's boyish face twisted evilly into a small grin, his eyes slitting so much they appeared to be closed. Knowing that asking was required, Hotohori called the young boy's bluff, "And that would be?"
"Oh, sure you're up to this...Nii-sama?" Naruto asked arrogantly, using the name he'd heard Usagi call the man earlier, "This game will be tons of fun-"
"Just get on with..." Axel growled with his face still in his hands, Naruto scowling at the man, "Fine, I will! I say the three of us have contest for Onei-chan's love! Whoever gets picked as her favorite brother can stay, but the other two have to pack up and leave!" Hotohori, Axel, and the rest of the world seemed to freeze at the mention of this contest. Sure it was childish, but it held interest for each man (and boy) in the room...what did they have to loose really?
"Alright...I accept your challenge. Are there any rules?" Hotohori asked, still playing it totally calm, but his underestimating nature was definitely not to be desired. Naruto seemed to think for a moment, "Play fair...and...no using her friends to get through to her!" Naruto pointed at Axel who didn't notice or care, "This is pure man-power that will win this contest! Only her real brother would be able to win anyway." the young boy stated firmly, crossing his arms and legs at the same time as he leaned back into his chair.
Hotohori gave a small smile, almost as if he was amused at something...or maybe he just knew something the others didn't, "Naruto-ototo-kun," he'd merely called him that to humor the boy, "do you know of Usagi's other brother, Shingo-kun?" Naruto seemed to think on this for a moment before he shook his head in a negative fashion. The beautiful brunette nodded slowly in understanding, that explained a few things for him in short. This little boy was starting to more and more resemble the faker that he really was...then again, if he was an orphaned little boy, he'd probably make up any story to have a place to sleep at night and good food to eat in the morning (and afternoon and night, considering the way the boy ate, and Hotohori knew this first hand). Although, somewhere deep down in his vain heart, the man didn't blame him for anything.
Axel on the other hand, he was still just as much of a mystery as Naruto was, but Axel obviously had some credible proof. However, the fact still remained...if Usagi and Axel were really brother and sister, then that might meant that he and Axel were related as well, and how could a man ever forget his own brother? Hotohori sighed mentally, clutching the skin between his eyes in a stress-induced frustration...this was some heavy thinking, but it was always best for things like this to run its course. No illusion lasted forever.
"Can someone get the door, please?!" a voice called from upstairs, presumably Rei's from the spiciness of the tone. Coming back to reality from the noise, he noticed Axel was still slumped over in some kind of self-induced depression, Naruto had vanished from his sight; the light in the downstairs bathroom visible from under the door. Just as he was about to get up, Usagi ran down the stairs, nearly tripping in a cute manner, "Nevermind I'll get it." she stated, walking out of sight to answer the door.
Usagi raised herself onto her tip-toes as to get a better look through the peephole on the door and was met with a strange sight. Under the impression it was Ami-chan or Mako-chan, or someone like that, she just figured that her 'brothers' had disappeared from the room and had left the door to be answered by her or Rei. However, whoever was outside was definitely not Mako-chan, Ami-chan, or Mina-chan...she kinda hoped it was Mamoru but the flash of brown hair from under the man's cap told her otherwise. She could tell it was a man by the build of his body, he wore a very fancy looking suit and held a briefcase in his right hand. Suddenly, just as she'd managed to pull her eyes away, a thought struck the Moon Princess: what if this was another one of those wackos who was claiming to be her brother?
Oh no, she growled, her mind made up. She was already having a field day taking care of a street punk, a vain upperclassman, and a male version of Chibi-Usa when she was younger. The thought made her grimace when she realized that she would once again have to go through the girl's childhood again when she gave birth during Crystal Tokyo. 'This time, I'm not going to be fooled! No matter how good-looking or rich he might be!' Usagi clenched her fists and flung the door open quickly.
However, before she could properly tell the man off, a badge was quickly slammed in front of her face. "Hey..." she said breathlessly, surprised, "You're from the Agency!" she exclaimed, "Uh...um...is there anything wrong, sir?" she asked, stumbling over her words due to his arrival.
The agent merely took a good glance behind her through his thick sunglasses before removing them and tucking them away inside his impressive suit jacket. "Yes, Tsukino-san, actually...I was sent to check up on you while you prepare your things for your new family." Usagi shook her head, "No, no, you're confused. I'm staying with a friend, who's over 18, and he happens to be...wait, nevermind." the girl stopped herself, seeing no point in announcing her wedding plans to this stranger, "Still though, I got confirmation from them saying I could. Then, if he wasn't unable to support me or my brother, we would immediately be adopted by our relatives." The agent seemed to ponder this before nodding, presumably remembering something he'd read in the report about her.
"May I come in?" he asked, Usagi unable to help but wonder why. For some reason, this man was putting off some strange vibe. Sure he had the badge and everything, that was all plausible, but it seemed to her as if he was desperately trying to do...something. She'd learned this trick from Ami (to study your opponent in the midst of battle), and the agent looked jumpy. The briefcase in his hand kept swinging, and he was shifting onto the his other foot every now and then. It was a strange thing to notice, but unavoidable nonetheless. Wait a minute, she gasped inwardly, could he possibly know about...?
"Um, well, I don't think that would be such a good idea and all, you see, since I've been packing...uh, my clothes are kind of strung out all over the place!" she tried to lie, hoping to keep him from journeying into the living room. It didn't work as the man pushed past her, "I assure you I am happily married." he assured her, leaving no room for argument or thoughts of perversion. Frowning, grimacing, and biting her lower lip all at the same time, Usagi simply waited for disaster to strike...if this agent found out that she was housing strange men, who she had in no way mentioned to the Agency, who knew what they would do?
"What a lovely living room, you've kept it so nice and tidy." the man stated, secretly remarking that kids were always messy. Usagi peeked her head around the corner of the wall, so much so that she was able to see perfectly into the living room. It was empty except for the man. Usagi sighed in relief, the man not noticing this as he took the time to take a quick glance at his watch. "Oh dear, it's past seven, I should get going now." And with that, the man said his goodbye and quickly left the house without another word. Staring in disbelief at what had just happened, Usagi wanted very badly to faint then...to pinch and force herself awake to see that this was all just a dream.
So many questions, so little time. "Hey, where are you guys?" she hissed, nearly silent.
"In the kitchen." came a voice, Usagi looking dumbfounded. And here she thought they'd been hiding in the closet or something. Following the voice, she found Hotohori leaning against a counter and Axel with his face mashed into the table, a steaming cup right beside him. "Wh-What's wrong?" she asked and motioned towards Axel at the same time, not caring who decided to answer her. "Axel's feeling a little down in the dumps..." Hotohori chuckled, crossing his arms and Axel groaned from the table, a conversation obviously having gone on between the two during the agent's visit.
"Who was that anyway?" the brunette asked.
"Huh? Oh! N-No one special." she laughed nervously, "Where's Naruto?" she questioned, changing the subject.
"I believe he was in the bathroom washing for the night." Hotohori supplied.
"Okay...hope he's done by now 'cause Rei just got in." Axel groaned from the table, causing the two happier occupants of the kitchen to smile with glee.
"You know, speaking of, Rei and I were doing some talking a while ago..."
"Yes, do tell." the two of them quickly took a seat at the table which the red-head was seated at.
"Anyway, I wanted to know how she knew Axel, right? So she told me that she bumped into him while she was shopping, and he said that he knew me. Judging from the way he's acting...I'd say he's fallen for true love at first sight!" Usagi quipped, the red-head's hands coming to rest over his locks, Hotohori's face went blank. "Uh, is that all?"
"Nope, 'cause now I need to ask you both something. Axel, what time did you show up last night?"
"Probably about...7 o'clock? I don't know, I was looking for you not a clock."
"Hotohori? How about you?"
"7 o'clock...this morning." he said, his face lighting up in surprise at the similar times.
"So, what brought about this? What would that matter anyways, Imouto-chan?"
"Well, I'm wondering when another one might show up..." she admitted a little ashamed.
"What about Naruto?" Axel mumbled, not lifting his head. They'd probably left the house about one or two, and that of course, was nowhere near 7 o'clock. "He didn't show up at 7 o'clock." Hotohori nodded agreeing, but there was something that was still bothering him, "However, it wouldn't hurt to look at the precise time either." Surprisingly Axel lifted his head at this, perhaps he was returning to his old self again, "How the hell are we supposed to know the exact time we found the brat?" Oh yeah, he was normal.
Suddenly Usagi gasped, "That's right! The newspaper! I'm sure the crash was listed in it today since it wasn't too long ago or far away." Running outside to retrieve it, she was back in a flash with the paper in hand. "Here," she handed the paper to Hotohori, knowing that he could find it a lot faster than she would. A moment of silence past as the brunette found and read the article, giving a laugh that could only have come out of disbelief.
"What was the time?"
Hotohori looked up from the paper, casually and neatly folding it. "It says presumed time of death for the passengers was 2:05." Axel scoffed beside him, a scowl apparent on his face, "See, that has no relation to 7 o'clock whatsoever!" This time it was Hotohori's turn to scoff, but in a less unsightly way and sound. "Pay attention, fool. 2:05...add those numbers together and what do you get?"
"7!" Axel and Usagi chimed together, but Usagi's fervor soon faded as she began to pace back and forth, unable to keep her bottom in a seat after hearing the news. "This is getting deep...really deep...I'm getting in over my head...I need Rei to make the bad spirits go away."
"Hey," suddenly Axel was in front of her, stopping her rant from getting worse, "Here, drink this and go to bed, Imouto-chan." Looking down at his hand, she noticed the untouched cup Hotohori had left by him. "Thank you," she smiled, taking the presumed tea from his hand. "Um...Imouto-chan..."Hotohori called out to her, looking a bit nervous and flustered as he did so, "Let me get you another cup-"
"This one's fine though...still warm, too."
"Even so," and with practiced grace, he slid the cup from her fingers and downed it into the sink. He rapidly fixed her another cup and sent her off to bed, promising that he would make sure Naruto did the same. Giving the both of them a nod, she disappeared up the stairs where Rei was probably waiting for her.
As soon as she'd left, Axel turned an irritated glance towards the brunette, "...the hell? Were you trying to poison me?" Hotohori gave a small smile, very much in the style a serpent might if it had the ability, "Not in so many words...you were simply getting on my nerves with that attitude, so I thought I'd get you a sort of pick-me-up."
"What did you put in that drink?" he asked, now he was tired and emotionally troubled...he needed sleep bad.
"Ephedrine...it's like caffeine, only stronger." the brunette stated a little deviously, practically gliding out the room to go and find Naruto. Axel frowned at him, unable to beat him to the bloody pulp he deserved to be because of his tiredness.
"Oh yeah, well, commit this to memory!" Axel shouted after him, aptly flipping him the finger.
Very long, and so very tired on my part. I tried to make it longer so as to make up for the lack of updates. And so, in conclusion, what exactly is the Agency's true plans? Are more 'brothers' bound to keep showing up in this fashion? Please keep reading if you'd liked to know, seven reviews needed to update. Sorry, but I'm starting to like that pattern, and helps me to know if anyone is still reading it.