I need to hear you
Summary: When I awoke, I was lying amongst little pieces of me; all I saw was splintered versions of Kaoru, staring at me in wide-eyed horror.
Rating: Rated only for a few swears and my paranoid nature.
A/N: Okay, if you've read any of my other stories, you'll know that this is slightly different to my usual style. -- (Understatement of the century… the lack of fluff burned my eyes…) -- But I wanted to try something new and more challenging, so please tell me what you thought. =^.^=
Warning: Character death. T.T I wanted to write it parallel to how Japanese traditionally conduct funerals and stuff as much as possible, instead of it being western-style, but as I read up on it, I realised that I should just stick to mentioning it a little bit. I don't want to insult anyone… O.O But I did do my research! 8D
By the way, if you're wondering why I killed off the twin I did… it's because the other's reaction would be more… how to say… loud (?), and therefore more interesting to write about. I'm Sorry! D: -- (Actually a really evil person…) --
Anyway. Read on, grasshoppers and please review! 8] And beware for the sudden change in mood…
I suppose the afternoon is beautiful, in a way.
The sky is dark with heavy, sapphire clouds and it sets a dull blue glow to everything, as if we're floating under water. Every now and then, a beam of light forces its way through the clouds and makes the pebbled floor glitter like shards of silver. The air is moist and cool against my skin and it's full of delicate grey swirls born from the incense, burned in respect.
Respect for the dead.
The dead being my best friend in the whole world.
The dead being my little brother, my twin.
The dead being Kaoru.
It doesn't feel like he's been gone for five minutes and already I can't count the number of times that I've caused a public spectacle of myself. I've never felt such immense sorrow and grief before and, like a raging river with no dam or flood gates to hold it back, it completely overpowers me and pulls me under, until I'm honestly not sure whether I'm the one controlling myself anymore.
I've broken down, pathetically and hysterically, at Grandmother's feet. I've had to be restrained by the Host Club from smashing mirrors with my bare fists, furious at the face I see there. I've screamed blue murder at my parents for daring to say that they understand, and then collapsed, weeping, into their laps.
In short, I've been a complete mess.
I've already been through all the traditions: the wake, the funeral, and the cremation. I went through them all in a detached daze, emotionless and dead to all who spoke to me. Not because I didn't care, - that couldn't be further from the truth - but because I knew that if I let even the tiniest bit of emotion show through, the floodgates would completely shatter and let everything out in an emotional tidal wave. And, for once, I couldn't do that because, as Grandmother had said in a rare moment of seriousness, 'this is to protect your brother in death. Honouring it is the least you can do'.
I nearly lost it in the cremation though.
In Japan, it's tradition for the relatives of a deceased to pick up their bones from the ashes and place them, in order, in their urn.
And, my God, I nearly screamed when I saw them; saw him. Forcing myself not to break down and wail in horrifying grief was the hardest thing I've ever had to do; I could feel my arm shaking violently all the way through it as I bit my tongue until I tasted blood.
I've never been truly hysterical, but that night after my brother was burned and his ashes thrown out to the wind, I think I was. All I can remember through the thick, anguished haze are screams and curses and tears; it was as if, amidst my all-consuming pain, I'd let a daemon possess me. I strained my heart for hours on end in my - not ours, but my - room, deaf to anyone who tried to calm me down, until I finally exhausted myself out so much that I fell asleep; like a child, throwing a tantrum to pathetically try and reject reality.
It never works.
When I awoke, I was lying amongst little pieces of me; all I saw was splintered versions of Kaoru, staring at me in wide-eyed horror.
Apparently, somewhere in my fit I'd punched a mirror and thrown it to the ground. Then I'd collapsed and slept between its shattered fragments, wanting to get close to the fragmented image of him I could see reflected in its shards. Now, all I could see was Kaoru's ashamed and disgusted gaze, there and there and there, staring up at me through splatters of my own dark blood.
For a second, I just couldn't look away, locked and frozen.
I think, for a moment or two, I actually managed to delusion myself enough to believe that it truly was my brother who was looking back at me then, pale and sickly-looking, instead of something as pathetic as my own reflection. I was shaking violently - though whether it was out of grief or fear I couldn't tell - until finally I couldn't stand it any more.
I scrambled madly to my feet, wanting to leave the terrifying mess of it behind me, and I desperately ran to and tried the door.
But I found the maids had locked me in. In fear, probably.
I honestly thought I'd gone mad.
But eventually, a doctor came in to tend to the cuts on my arms and legs that I'd gotten from sleeping on the little pieces of glass. It took a while and, when he had finished, I calmly put on my mask and went to visit my twin's grave for the first of the memorials.
I tried not to feel.
But telling me not to feel is like telling a bird not to fly. The passion I feel for those selected few I love is what makes me who I am, according to Kaoru. I can feel the truth of his words now.
Now he's dead.
Now he's left me alone.
I've exploded once, and now I can feel the timer begin again as I fruitlessly try to hide.
I never thought we'd part like this.
I can't say I've ever really thought about it that much; I was too comfortably ignorant to believe death was ever so real, ever so close, but if I did entertain the idea, I never thought it'd be like this. I thought we'd leave the world as simultaneously as we entered it, me first, then him. Maybe it'd be peacefully, two old men in our sleep. Or maybe heroically, dieing for our cause or something cool like that.
Or maybe, I'd add jokingly, one of our pranks would go seriously wrong and we'd explode into the air in a shower of multicoloured sparks, still laughing our heads off.
It wasn't like that.
Kaoru died realistically and pathetically.
He died in such a textbook fashion, that sometimes I just can't get my head round it. It's something that you hear about, something that you roll your eyes about, something that you gloss over the warnings about. One of the millions killed on the road. It's not real. It can't be real.
It takes all my strength not to collapse into my recurring nightmare, my haunting version of the hard, cold truth that replays over and over again in my head like a damaged record.
Twisted, battered limbs stuck out in sickening angles: scarlet blood, hot and sticky, mixing in with the grit: listless, dying eyes that scan the surroundings with an innocent desperation, trying to find someone with an ounce of love in the sea of faceless strangers.
Kaoru died alone.
And that's the most pathetic thing of all.
I regret that fact so deeply, that sometimes I feel like wailing in bitter agony just to think of it. I would give anything, anything, just to have been there. Even if I couldn't have saved him, I could have held him. I could have held him tightly and told him how much I needed him, how much I loved him. At the very least, I could have done that.
I've been there with him for every single day of my life, for God's sake. Why did it have to be that one time when I wasn't there, that this had to happen? It was just a normal day; we had been lazily going through our Sunday just as if it was any other day. Then he decided to go for a walk, laughing about the fact I still hadn't finished my English essay and teasing me about how nice a day it was.
I never saw him alive again.
When my little brother died, I was at home, copying his homework.
And I fucking hate myself for it.
I stare dully at the smooth stone grave and slowly make my way towards it, sleepy and sluggish, as if I'm treading through mud. I shove dismissively past a few faceless figures, not seeing them and definitely not caring about them. Why should I care?
I think something brushes my shoulder but I ignore it.
I think someone speaks but I don't bother to find out.
I think I'm staring down at my brother's name but I can't find it in me to focus. Too disconnected to even try to stop the world from spinning sickeningly around me, I blink dully as my mind swims and floats into memories I just want to forget.
"Hikaru… we've come to--"
"I can't say how--"
"--Sorry we are for--"
"Are you fucking deaf? I said go away."
"God, just leave me alone! I said go away! What more do you want of me? Of us? We want you to go away! Just leave us alone!"
"LEAVE US ALONE! Just fuck off already!"
They did after that. All but one who walked over to me slowly and softly took both of my hands in hers.
I snatched them away.
We sat like that for a long while, though I never looked at her, too broken and weak to even try and look into such strong and pitying eyes, more in tune with my pain than anyone else's could be. We sat in silence apart from my breathy, frantic whispers.
"Leave us alone, leave us alone, just leave us alone…"
"…Hikaru, why do you keep saying 'us'?"
"Please Haruhi, just go away. I can't…"
"We'll all be here for you unconditionally Hikaru, but you can't--"
"Don't say it Haruhi. Don't. Just let me be."
"Don't say it. Please, please just don't."
She sadly took my hands again.
"Hikaru, you can't say 'us' anymore."
He can't be gone. He just can't. Say he isn't gone. Please. Just wrap me up in that comforting madness; just suffocate me with those much-needed lies. I need to hear you say I'm not alone.
Cracks begin to show in my stoic mask that I've worn faithfully all day, and finally my emotions begin to leak through, a vice clamping down on my heart while hot tar drips down from my eyes.
My voice comes out raspy and hoarse, uncomfortably loud to my tender ears. I hastily scuffle away from everyone and spread my pale, spidery hands over the smooth stone, desperate to reach through and find him.
My knees finally buckle and I fall down into the mud before his engraved name, though I hardly notice.
I never liked hide and seek. I never liked you hiding from me, so close yet so frustratingly invisible to my eyes. I always wanted to keep you locked to my side, because you were mine, my baby brother, my Kaoru, always so warm and loving and real. I never liked to be apart from you.
But Kaoru, where are you now?
How long must you hide?
"Ne, Kaoru, let's play."
Let's play something different. Come back now Kaoru and we'll play something different. You don't have to hide anymore. Okay?
"Let's play the which one--"
The rain begins to pour. I can feel every single icy drop, pounding against my skull and trying to muffle the overwhelming silence that follows my words. I think someone behind me fearfully whispers my name but I ignore them. It's not their voice I want to hear.
"Let's play the which one--"
Can you hear me?
"Let's play the which one--"
Kaoru, my voice isn't breaking. My sentence isn't drowning in my tears. Can't you see I'm waiting for you?
"Let's play the which one--"
Hurry up already.
I'm waiting for you to finish my sentence, to finish our trademark announcement. I always start and you always finish, that's how it is. Come on now Kaoru, stop hiding, come out and be with me again. Don't leave me hanging like this, spluttering out the start of sentences and unable to find the end.
Not even my words are whole without you.
"Kaoru, let's… let's play…"
Someone touches my arm but I shrug them off hurriedly, mad and wide-eyed in my desperation. I've never uttered a sentence unfinished by you before; I've never had an idea not echoed by your smile. God, I have no idea what to do without you.
With hands as cold as death, I grab onto the stone and glare accusingly at your name, furious in grief. I'm shivering and gasping with the hurt that's pounding down on me unceasingly, like a barrage of rocks. And do you know what Kaoru, dear, dear Kaoru?
It's your fault.
All of it.
You just had to die and leave me here alone, didn't you? You did this to me. You reduced me to this spluttering, broken wreck, too hysterical and insane in grief to even speak. You caused the hot, bitter tears to pour uncontrollably down my face, dripping into my lap and making the whole world melt like sugar. How dare you leave me Kaoru? How fucking dare you?
Did you somehow think I could survive with only half a lung, half a mind and half a heart?
Well? Tell me Kaoru, what kind of life is that?
"I- I can't hear you, Kaoru. I can't… Damn it…Damn you Kaoru. Damn you. Speak up! Let's-play-let's-play--"
What kind of life is one without you? Tell me please, because, dear brother of mine, I'm afraid I've never had one.
Someone begins to sob.
I hate you for leaving me, Kaoru.
I hate you.
I hate you.
I hate you so much; the hellish flames of my passion are licking my insides, burning me senseless. Maybe they'll kill me and I'll be dead too. Maybe I'll be reduced to just a pile of black, charred remains that can float up and join you. Maybe the intensity of this feeling will release me of ever having to breathe without you again.
I hate you so much, I could die.
Suddenly, a memory of you appears before me and I instantly snatch at it wildly, frantic and needing.
You're sitting before me, comforting me after a nightmare that left me shivering and gasping, though the details of it ran from me like water through my fingers the moment I awoke. Despite everything, I always seemed to have more nightmares than you, Kaoru. I can count on one hand the amount of times I've had to comfort you after a dream in our 16 years of life, desperate to wipe away your fears yet uncertain of every awkwardly smoothing mutter I made. You were always so much better at that stuff than I was.
Or maybe you did have nightmares. Maybe you just never woke me up. Maybe you just lay there by yourself, preferring to fearfully calm yourself down rather than disturb me from my sleep. That would be just like you, Kaoru, you stupid selfless idiot. I'll never know now.
Deep in my memory, you wrap your arms around me tightly and pull me into your chest, laying your soft cheek against my hair.
"It's okay Hika, its okay. I'm here, just breathe, I've got you. It was just a dream, just a dream."
I didn't reply, and I remember almost feeling ashamed by the irrational fear that shivered across me as I clung feebly to you. I hated feeling so weak and stupid, but you kindly took it all in your stride and always comforted me flawlessly. After a while, you spoke again, your fingers softly threading through my hair.
"Have you stopped crying? Silly Hika, I bet you can't even remember what it was about, can you?"
"Heh… C'mon you big baby, let's go back to sleep. I'll hold you all night, I promise. I won't let go."
But you did, didn't you?
You let me go.
"I love you."
Believe me Kaoru, please, please believe me.
I don't hate you. I could never hate you. I didn't mean to say that I hated you. You know that, right? I just hate the impossible depths that I truly love you, because now it's mirrored exactly by a turmoil of lonely anguish.
"I love you, so, so much. Listen Kaoru, please. I love you."
Please believe me.
"I love you."
Come back to me.
"I- I-- Kaoru, I-!"
I go to say 'I miss you' but, in my unstable desperation, words that are more truthful overpower them, like a huge wave overpowering a drowning swimmer.
"I need you, Kaoru! I need you. Please… just, please, don't… never leave me… please, I just… I- I need--!"
And then I feel something warm collide with my back.
And I have to admit that, just for one second, one sick, wild second, I actually feel a rush of hope.
But it's not you, Kaoru, who flings their arms around me. It's not you who buries their face in the back of my neck. It's not you who cries as if their heart has just broken, whose heart's finally shattered one too many times.
It's not you.
And, as I listen wordlessly to their wild, heart-broken sobs, I'm almost glad.
"I'm sorry, Hikaru. I… I know how much it… it hurts… it… I'm so sorry, Hikaru."
I don't respond.
I don't feel the need to.
The warm arms around me calm me, but though they've stifled my hysteria, I have nothing left to take its place. I feel miserably empty, no longer disconnected but still too broken to form a legible thought as I lean into the warmth I'm missing and stare blankly at the stone. I watch your name run slowly around my mind, moving to a steady, morbid beat like a funeral march.
I really miss you.
Are you angry that I've fallen apart so completely?
Or are you happy that I haven't just forgotten you?
Probably a bit of both. You always are - were - even worse than me when it came to making up your mind.
I don't know how long I sit there pointlessly, but eventually I hear a muffled mumble behind me and a sound of slow, careful footsteps before my warmth suddenly moves away. I instantly shiver at the cold rush but the presence quickly reappears at my side like a fairy. Another faceless figure looms above me and clasps hold of my shoulders firmly, trying to ease me up. My legs however, refuse to co-operate and I stay as useless as a rock, anchored to the mud in front of your grave.
"Let's go, Hikaru." The person speaks slowly, in a low voice reserved for mourning.
"…What about Kaoru?" I can't help the pathetic question from fluttering from my stiff lips, making me sound like a delusional child, clinging stupidly to the past even though it already lies dead in my arms.
There's a long, heavy pause until a different voice speaks in a whisper both soft and firm. "Kaoru's gone. He'll always be with you, but you won't be able to see him, or hear him, or feel him. Hikaru …You know that, don't you?"
I do. God, of course I do. The bluntness and experience of the harsh words strikes such a painful chord in me that all I can do is remain silent, staring blankly at the burning incense.
And you'll never see him again.
"Let's go, Hikaru."
After that, I just do whatever they say.
I just can't be bothered anymore. Am I even still a human without you? Or just a dead, purposeless doll, left to the mercy of the rest of the world?
As I'm led away, I try desperately to tear my mind away from you, the stone dead twin, who still lingers behind me, forever out of sight. Forever reduced to a mere burnt pile of ash, thrown out to the wind's benevolence. Tell me Kaoru, will you stay with me? If not in body, then in my heart? In my mind?
Even if it's just in my dreams, please, please don't leave me. Just don't sever yourself completely from my being.
Because, God, I can barely live as it is.
I think I'm leaning on someone as I walk, my legs apparently too shocked at my missing shadow to walk by themselves, and I have to blink blearily at my support before two names finally worm their way into my sluggish consciousness.
On one side, Tamaki. The blonde idiot who saved our lives, just by being himself. He's holding my elbow firmly with one hand, while the other is around my shoulders, helping me move. I can feel how strong and genuine his irrational care is as he mutters soothingly under his breath. On the other side, Haruhi. So small and delicate yet so much stronger than me. Kaoru, she's holding my hand. She's holding it unwaveringly and squeezes it comfortingly every now and again, as though she knows I'll completely break apart if she ever let go.
Because of you.
I love you.
And I miss you. So, so much.
It hurts. But, dear brother, dear twin, dear spirit, I think I'd die if it ever stopped. I'd rather it stayed this raw, painful wound than have it fade away until you became just a mere memory, dull and painless. I'd rather talk to you and delusion myself with your answers than block it out and forget what you sound like altogether. Though I guess I'll never be able to forget what you look like, eh?
Ah, Kaoru, you murder me so sweetly.
I'll learn to live without you. I'll learn to breathe without you. I'll learn to love without you.
But I'll never be able to finish that sentence.
I'll always be waiting for you, Kaoru.
"Let's play the which one--"
"--is Hikaru game!"