AN: 'Sup people on FFN. Here is a fic I started back in January, when the LJ comm digitalrewind started to rewatch Frontier. I would like to thank my friends from there, especially Mon-chan and Choy, who gave me some ideas during these last six months. End notes will be posted... at the end.
Kouichi sat in the cab, his luggage being packed in the trunk. He felt numb all over, as if this whole event wasn't real, and any second he would be returning home.
Except he wasn't.
The debt collectors seized the house as soon as they could, taking most of furniture, leaving Kouichi with a few items and some clothes.
It all started that day. He left for school like normal, giving his mother a hug as he walked out the door. He never knew that halfway through lunch, he would be called to the office. He never expected the shock to hit him hard.
The first night alone was horrible. Every second he expected to see his mother walk into his room to wish him good night. The second night he slept in his mother's room, breathing in her scent, wrapping himself in the covers, trying to imagine the blankets were her arms, wrapped tightly around him, keeping him safe and warm.
A week later, the funeral took place. It was quiet, only a few people showed, mostly coworkers. One man stood out like a sore thumb. He was off to the side, and when it came time to give his regards, he took a look at Kouichi, bowed deeply, before turning to the picture of Kimura Tomoko. He sat down, put his hands together and bowed his head. Then he stood, taking one last look at the picture before walking away.
Kouichi's eyes followed the man, wondering why he looked so familiar.
The next day, the lawyers brought out the will. Kouichi stared at the table while the lawyers read the contents. Tomoko had most of her money put away in a savings account for her son. The house was to be auctioned off, as well as most of their belongings.
And finally, if anything were to happen to her before Kouichi became of legal age, he was to stay with his father, Minamoto Kousei and his family.
Kouichi's head snapped up at that. The lawyer holding the will glanced past the stunned youth. "Ah, Minamoto-san. I hope you agree with this."
Kouichi turned his head, finding that man from the funeral. The man, Minamoto, his father, looked at Kouichi and nodded. "It was what we agreed to if anything were to happen to either of us."
"I see." The lawyer placed the will down. "Well, that concludes this reading of the will." He turned to Kouichi, "Kimura-san, Minamoto-san will escort you home to pack up your things. Good day."
Kouichi stayed in his seat, unable to move as the adults around him got up, some patting him on the back as they left, while that man, Minamoto, no, his father, took out his cell phone. He glanced at the frozen boy, turning away as someone answered on the other line.
"Ah, Satomi, we just finished. I'll be taking him back to his house to pick up his stuff before coming home. ...Yes. Make sure the guest room is prepared. ...Alright, I'll see you two later." As he flipped his phone shut, he turned back, "Well, let's hurry up. The sooner we collect your things, the sooner you can settle down."
The trunk of the taxi slammed shut, forcing Kouichi out of his daydream. The door opposite of him opened and Minamoto slid in. He told the driver where to go, but other than that, remained silent. Kouichi bit his lip, wanting to ask... his father so many questions, but instead choosing to stare out the window.
It was going to be a long trip.
Someone was shaking him.
With a groan, Kouichi opened his eyes, wondering why some strange man was shaking hi-He blinked, memories of the past week flooding his mind. It wasn't a strange man; it was his father, the one he never saw for ten years. The numbness rushed back, filling his body, but he got out of the car nonetheless. Before his eyes was a decent looking two story house. There was a dog chained up on the back, jumping up as if to get over the fence. Minamoto was already grabbing his bags out of the trunk, bringing them around for Kouichi to take, then he turned to the driver, paid him, and the two began their trek.
Just as they reached the steps, the front opened, revealing a youngish looking woman. "Welcome home, dear! Ah!" She let go of the door frame, coming towards the two males. "You must be Kouichi-kun. My name is Satomi. I hope you'll find it comfortable here. Oh, let me take that." She smiled, taking Kouichi's luggage from him. Minamoto entered the house, Satomi following, calling over her shoulder, "Come on, don't be shy!"
Kouichi looked back, but the cab was already gone. He sighed and followed.
Minamoto had already taken off his shoes, untying his tie as he looked around, "Where's Kouji?"
"He's out with some friends. He should be home in time for dinner."
"Ah..." Letting go of his now loosened tie, Minamoto turned towards Kouichi, "Satomi will show you to your room. You can do whatever you want, as long as you don't enter my study." He nodded at his wife before walking off.
Satomi kept her smile while motioning with her free hand, "Don't worry about him, he's just shy. Once you get to know him, he'll open up to you quickly. Well, let's go. Your room is upstairs."
Kouichi nodded, letting a smile onto his face, "Thank you... Satomi-san."
The woman's smile didn't dimmer in the least, "Don't mention it, Kouichi-kun. You're part of the family now. Alright, I bet you want to see your room."
It was obvious his room used to be for guests. The room had a faint smell of musk, even though the window was open. The bed was far too neat, and he could see some things stashed in the half open closet. He grimaced, "It's not too bad... Thank you, Satomi-san."
Satomi placed Kouichi's things on his new bed. "Your welcome. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to finish making dinner. I'll call you when it's ready. And you can meet Kouji then. Hopefully Kousei will talk some more about everything." She bowed, making her exit silent.
Kouichi took a seat on his bed, feeling completely foreign to his surroundings. Even though he had a place to stay... had his father here... This whole thing still felt surreal. Kouichi was sure any second now he would wake up and his mother would tell him to get ready for schoo-
School. He didn't live close to here. He would have to go to a new school. It wasn't like Kouichi had a large group of friends... but to enter a school so late in the year; he was bound to not fit in at first.
He sighed, letting himself fall back onto the bed. He knew he'd have to put his things away, make this room feel like his... but after today, he was just so tired.
Kouichi shut his eyes, not caring that his door was open, or at the sound of the dog barking, or even the sound of footsteps bounding up the stairs.
Kouji fell back on his bed, trying to keep himself from screaming. The events of the day came flooding back into his mind, all painstakingly clear. Everything was fine when he was at school, and afterwards when he was hanging out with Takuya. Then he came back to his mother telling him his father wanted to speak to him. Never in his life would he imagine he had a twin, or that his birth mother was alive.
...His birth mother was alive. Past tense.
It was too hard to believe. He sat up, feeling tense and restless. He got off his bed, grabbing his cell phone as he walked out of his room. From the hall he could see the guest room's occupant, sprawled out on the guest bed. As he walked past the kitchen area, he poked in on his mother.
"I'm sleeping over at Takuya's tonight. We already planned it, and dad gave the okay."
Satomi looked up from the stove, only nodding as Kouji left. She didn't ask any questions, just turned back to the stove. The door to Kousei's study stayed closed, and as she stirred whatever was in the pot, she couldn't help but understand why Kouji wanted to get out of the house.
The next few days passed by quickly. Kouji and his father were barely around the house, leaving Satomi to help Kouichi adapt to his new surroundings. The two set up Tomoko's shrine on Kouichi's desk. Following that, Satomi helped Kouichi register at the local school, helping him get his books and other materials. All the while Kouichi was silent, letting Satomi prattle on about this and that.
After that, the two stopped by the market, picking up things for dinner. Satomi was picking through which meat to buy as Kouichi stood off to the side. He saw something that caught his eye, walking a short distance. Just as Satomi figured out which meat she wanted, she picked up the cheaper one, she turned around. She blinked when she realized Kouichi was nowhere to be found.
"...Kouichi-kun?" She put the meat in her cart, looking around before finding Kouichi holding another pack of meat. He turned around just as she pulled the cart over.
"Oh, Satomi-san. Um," He looked at the meat in his hands, "My mom would buy this... It's my favorite, and it's really cheap."
Satomi held out her hand, "May I see it?"
Kouichi handed the packet over, and the older woman looked it over. It was indeed a very good brand of meat... and it was cheaper than the one she picked out. She looked up, "Where did you find this?"
The boy shrugged, "It's hidden a lot of the time. At my old market... I would do the shopping, and some of the workers would help me out."
Satomi put the meat in her cart, placing a hand on Kouichi's shoulder, "Thank you, Kouichi-kun. You were a big help today." She smiled, and he couldn't help but return it, albeit a bit hesitantly.
That night, as the four joined around the dinner table, Kousei and Kouji were surprised at how good it tasted. Kouichi tried to hide his face as he ate, while Satomi merely said she had a little inside knowledge when she was shopping earlier.
"Ah," Kousei wiped his mouth with a napkin, "Kouichi, are you registered for school?"
Kouichi nodded, "Satomi-san helped me with that."
Kouji looked up from his plate.
"Show your brother the way to school."
Kouji didn't say anything, just looked down at his dinner, quickly finishing it off before excusing himself from the table.
Kouichi made sure he had everything he needed, pausing for just a moment to look at his mother's photo.
"Well... I'm starting my first day at a new school. Kouji... is supposed to show me around." He glanced at the clock beside his bed, "I'll see you after school, Mom." He bowed to the picture, giving it one last look before picking up his backpack, finding Kouji outside his room. He stopped, "Kouji."
His brother shifted his weight from one foot to the other, "Um. Did you have breakfast?"
Kouichi shook his head, "No. Did you?"
The older of the two gave a smile, "Well, let's go then." He started to walk, only looking back when he noticed no one following him. "Kouji?"
Kouji had a flustered expression on his face, "Uh... You don't eat breakfast?"
"No." Kouichi kept his smile, "I'm used to it."
"I... see..." Kouji bite his lip, but seemed to shrug it off. "Let's go."
The walk was mostly silent, Kouichi taking his time to check out the route while Kouji kept nervously looking around. It was only a short time before the older twin realized something was wrong. It didn't take him long to figure out why.
A few minutes into their walk, there was the sound of someone running, and suddenly Kouji was tackled from behind by another boy.
"Kouji! I thought you were going to meet me at our meeting place!"
The younger boy grew red in the face, "Takuya." He hissed under his breath.
Takuya eased off of Kouji, rubbing the back of his head, "Jeez, I was only greeting you, Kou-" He seemed to notice the extra person in their group, bouncing back, his hand poised, "Oh crap, Kouji, you really do have a twin!"
Kouji sighed, slapping a palm to his forehead, "Takuya, you idiot."
"What?" Takuya pouted, swinging an arm around the other boy's shoulder, "I was just speaking the truth! You know I didn't believe you when you told me!"
The younger twin heaved another sigh, "Takuya, this is Kouichi. Kouichi... this is Takuya."
Kouichi looked down, feeling a bit awkward, "Um, hi..."
Takuya tilted his head, and then grinned, "'Sup... Kouichi, right? Heh, even your names match! That's really funny. So I guess you're the older twin, huh?"
Kouichi shrugged. "I never... thought about my name before. I guess so?"
Kouji scowled, shoving the other boy's arm off his shoulder, "Takuya..."
The brown haired boy held up his hands as if in mock surrender. "Fine, fine! Jeez, Kouji, you're even more stiff than usual."
Kouji didn't reply, just taking a peek behind them, "So where's Izumi? Usually she's right behind you."
"Ah," Takuya made a face, "Her mom said she left early for something. I don't remember."
Kouji shook his head, "That's because you're always running your mouth."
As the two continued to bicker, Kouichi fell behind in step. He kept silent the rest of the walk to school until they finally reached their destination. Kouji pointed out where Kouichi needed to go and promptly said he and Takuya would meet up later. Kouichi only nodded, took a breath, and walked into the teachers' area.
A few minutes later, he stood in front of a very rowdy class and it took the teacher a few tries before calming them down. He briefly explained the new student before pointing out a seat near the back. "You can sit there, next to Orimoto."
Kouichi nodded, nervously walking towards the back. There was no incident on the trek, and as he sat down next to the blonde, he couldn't help but notice her staring after five minutes. He squirmed in his seat, wanting to ask what the girl's problem was, but didn't want to get into trouble on his first day. When lunch rolled around, he finally worked up the courage to address the girl.
The girl, Orimoto, blinked as she noticed she was caught. "Oh, sorry about that! The teacher said your name is Kimura? Really? Because you look like a friend of mine."
Kouichi dipped his head, "Um. Yeah. It's Kimura." He lifted his head, "I look like a friend of yours?"
Orimoto nodded, "Mhmm. Gloomy guy. Has longer hair though, and if it wasn't for Takuya, well, the guy would have never lightened up." She leaned forward, holding her head up with her hand, "I swear, sometimes I wonder about those two. Oh!" She sat up, "My name's Orimoto Izumi. Pleased to meet you."
Kouichi gave a small smile, "Kimura Kouichi. You must be Takuya's Izumi. He mentioned you this morning."
Izumi stuck out her tongue, "He did? That boy, never knows when to stop that mouth of his." She tilted her head, "Oh wait, you mean... You're Kouji's brother? The one he never knew he had?" She leaned back in her chair, "Wow, that must have been weird for you guys."
He shrugged, "A little bit. Satomi-san has been a big help this past week..."
Izumi nodded, "Yeah, she's always been really nice when me and the others visit. So, what's this, how come you showed up after all this time?"
Kouichi bit his lower lip, turning away, "Um... well... My mom..." He squeezed his eyes shut, and Izumi lifted her hands up in surrender.
"Oh, hey, look, it's cool; you don't have to tell me!" She placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "I understand, a little bit. Okay, I don't, but I won't pressure you to tell me." She gave a smile, "Hey, cheer up, you gained a brother, right?"
Kouichi shrugged, "I guess..."
Izumi pouted, "Hey, what are you doing after school? Do you want to hang out?"
"Hang out?" He looked up at the suggestion. He never hung out with anyone after school before. He was always looking after his mother
The blonde nodded, "Yeah, usually me and the guys hang out, but I'm sure they can handle me not being there for once." She paused, tapping her cheek, "On second thought, maybe I should tell them I'll be busy. Junpei is kinda... protective of me."
Kouichi must have had a questionable expression on his face, because Izumi laughed, waving her hand, "Oh, he's a childhood friend of mine. We've been together since we could remember. It's a little weird though, since he's older than the rest of us."
He nodded, not really getting it, but Izumi paid no mind. She continued to talk, letting Kouichi get wrapped into the conversation until lunch time was over. The rest of the day flew by and before Kouichi realized it, the final bell sounded, and Izumi clapped her hands together.
"Alright! Are you ready, Kimura?"
Kouichi stuttered for only a moment, forcing Izumi to giggle, "I'm only joking. Come on, befor-"
Izumi tried to stifle a mix between a giggle and a moan as a slightly overweight older boy poked his head into the classroom. His eyes darted in their direction and he waved an arm, "Izumi-chan!"
A girl sitting on Izumi's other side giggled, "Look's like your boyfriend broke his record. His time went down thirty seconds."
Izumi's hand flew to her forehead, not wanting to start another 'He's not my boyfriend' argument. She turned around, walking over to the door, "Junpei. I told you, you don't have to come to my classroom, I can meet up with you guys at the usual spot."
Junpei pouted, "But-!" His eyes darted back to Izumi's seat, spotting Kouichi. He paused, blinked, and then looked back at the girl in front of him, "What's Kouji doing in your class? ...And when did he cut his hair?"
The boy in question looked down at his desk, face burning. Izumi brought her hand up, smacking Junpei on the shoulder, "Hey!" She hissed so Kouichi wouldn't hear her, "That's not Kouji. That's Kouichi-kun, his brother."
"..." Junpei stared at her, then at Kouichi. "...EH?"
Izumi groaned, pulling the older boy by the arm, she gave Kouichi a wave, "We'll be right back! Wait there!"
As soon as they were far enough away from the classroom, Izumi turned, eyes blazing. "Junpei."
The older boy shrunk back, not liking the intense glare she was sending his way, "Um, Izum-"
"Don't 'Izumi-chan' me." She put set her hands on her hips. "Look, that's Kouji's brother in there. I didn't ask why he showed up now, so I don't know all the details, but be nice to him, okay? And don't give him chocolate like you did with Kouji." She waited for Junpei to nod before nodding herself, "Now, if you can do me a favor, tell the others I'm leaving early. I'm hanging out with Kouichi-kun today."
Junpei's head shot as Izumi finished, "Eh? But... But Izumi-chan! We had plans today!"
"Yes, but that was before I met Kouichi-kun. I want him to feel welcomed, and so far, judging by how quiet he was in class, Kouji hasn't been doing a good job of that!" She huffed, crossing her hands across her chest. "The guy just needs a friend right now. I don't know why, but he does. If you want, you can come with us."
Junpei shook his head, "Nah. I promised Tomoki I'd play that new video game of us today. And you said you were going to watch!"
"I can watch some other time."
Whatever it was Junpei was going to say, the girl had already waved a hand as she ventured back to the classroom. Kouichi was right where she left him, his head down as he was putting his materials back in his bag. She huffed but quickly put a smile on her face.
"Hey, you ready?"
Kouichi shrugged as he stood up, "Yeah, let's... go." He looked up, seeing Junpei watching from the doorway, even though his back was turned. "Um, is your friend alright?"
"Junpei?" Izumi waved a hand in the air, "Don't mind him. Sometimes he doesn't know when to keep quiet."
It started off a bit awkward at first, but as time went on, Kouichi slowly started to open up. The two stopped by a shop, just checking out a few knickknacks when Izumi spotted a keychain. She hooked her arm around Kouichi's and pulled him over. "Look at this one! Isn't it cute!"
Kouichi blinked at the small figure. "...What is it?"
The girl gaped at her friend, "You don't know who Shutumon is? She's like... the best female Digimon out there!"
The dark haired boy remained silent as Izumi continued to gape. Kouichi nervously turned away, his cheeks turning red. "I uh... never watched TV growing up."
Izumi's shock faded a bit, "Oh. Well, why didn't you say so?" She put the keychain back, "And it's not just a TV show, it's also a card game. I was going to play against Tomoki later. That kid is unbelievably good at games." She patted Kouichi on the shoulder, "Let's get out of here, the high school students are getting out, and they usually come in swarms."
Kanbara Takuya peeked his head out of the classroom door. The other boys from the class had already retreated out to the fields for a game of soccer and he wanted to join them as fast as he could.
He just had to get out of a little problem. If only Kouji were present, he could use the boy to his advantage. The hall was starting to thin out and Takuya knew his chance to get away would soon vanish.
He made sure all his books were in hand before leaving, giving himself a silent cheer. Takuya was two steps away from the corner when a shout stopped him cold.
The gogglehead groaned before turning around, a smile plastered on his face. "Sugiyama, hey. I was just on my way to find you..."
Sugiyama slowed down to a stop, a bead of sweat trailing down his bald head. He reached into his trademark haramaki, pulling out a handkerchief as he wiped his forehead.
"You were going to sneak away, weren't you? I knew it was a good idea to go looking for you." Sugiyama reached into his haramaki once again, this time producing a book. "We need to get your math grade up. Let's get to the library before Kikuchi gets away. I left Araki in charge but you never know..."
Takuya groaned but followed his bald classmate.
Kouji made his way home, he was checking off his mental list of things to do when he spotted a familiar hat. He sped up his pace, only stopping once they were side by side. The other person jumped at the sudden appearance.
"Kouji-san! You scared me!"
He shrugged, "Sorry. What are you up to, Tomoki?"
Tomoki smiled, "Junpei-san and I are going to play Digimon." He glanced sideways, "Do you want to join us?"
Kouji looked up, finding an interesting cloud in the sky. He had stuff to do, but surely that could wait. Going home meant seeing his long lost twin. His father wasn't even talking to him, and Kouji wasn't sure how much more of this awkwardness he could handle. He noticed Tomoki's curious look before nodding, "Sure. Why not."
Tomoki grinned, "Awesome!"
"So this is your mom?"
Kouichi nodded as Izumi kneeled before his mother's shrine. "Yeah..."
Izumi smiled up at the boy, "She's beautiful. That's where you and Kouji got your looks; I bet she was really nice."
He nodded again, "I guess... She always thought of me, made sure I was happy..."
Izumi got to her feet, placing a hand on Kouichi's shoulder. "You must miss her a lot." She glanced at the desk before clapping her hands. "Okay! Let's make your room more alive!"
He blinked, unnerved by the abrupt change in subject, "Excuse me...?"
The girl nodded, "Yes. Your room doesn't feel like... you."
"Yeah." She spread out her arms as she addressed the area, "This room doesn't quite get the feel like it's yours'. Takuya's room? Full of soccer and general boy stuff. Junpei's is full of magic stuff. Tomoki's has games everywhere. Even Kouji's room has a feel to it!"
Kouichi looked down, "Well, I didn't have much in my old room either. We couldn't afford much."
Izumi shook a finger at him, "Doesn't matter. Half the stuff in my room? I got it from other people. I even have some souvenirs from Italy. Italy."
Izumi nodded, "Yes! Just you watch, once you start to hang out with me, your room is going to look like you soon." She smiled, "I guarantee it!"
Four students stood in a line, blocking the path outside. Kouichi was rooted to the spot, he promised Izumi he would hang out with her group today, maybe he and Kouji could finally have a conversation, when he came upon a group of oddly dressed kids.
One was dressed in dark leather and a mohawk dawned his head. But even if he didn't notice the hair or the clothes, the large nose did the trick. Next to him was a girl in Lolita clothing. Kouichi had never seen a Lolita in person before. She had frills upon frills covering all parts of her blue dress. Blue and purple streaked across her hair, and she teetered to the side as he noticed she was wearing a pair of platform shoes, making her a head taller than the punk.
Next to the Lolita was a man who looked like he was from another time. If the girl's frills didn't phrase him, this guy's weird neck thing caught his attention. But then Kouichi's eyes trailed upwards to a powdered wig adorning the man's head.
Kouichi had to look somewhere else, not liking where this was going, when he focused on the fourth and last member of their group. He seemed perfectly normal, Kouichi thought, relieved, until he noticed how buff the guy was. He was afraid if he made the wrong move, this guy alone could make him stay.
The man in the powdered wig and... neck frill took a step forward, "You are Kimura Kouichi, correct?"
The Shakespeare lookalike slipped a grin onto his face. "I'm Matsumoto," he gestured to the three on either side of him, "This is Nishimura, Terada and Nomura; we are the members of the drama club. We would feel honored if you joined us."
Kouichi stepped back, "Um... That's awfully nice of you... but I'm not really... interested in clubs at the moment..." At the end of the hall, he could see two figures walking closer.
Matsumoto waved a hand, "It's not every day we scout for new members, and you have definitely caught our eye."
Nomura nodded, "Yesterday's enemy is today's friend." To make even more of an effect, he pointed upwards.
Terada looked over, "What the hell are you going on about?" She didn't wait for an answer, "Never mind. You're going to join us, right?"
"Um..." Kouichi's eyes flickered behind the members of the drama club; he felt a wave of relief as Izumi and Junpei finally reached the growing group.
"Terada!" Izumi angrily put her hands on her hips, "What are you doing to my friend?"
The Lolita huffed, "Nothing, we're just inviting him into our club." She smirked, "One you're not part of."
Izumi frowned, "I have good reason not to."
Kouichi shot a look over at Junpei. He got it, only giving him a helpless shrug. Once the two girls got in a fight, there was no stopping them.
The slightly overweight boy managed to slide on over next to him, Terada's guy friends watching with almost a bored expression on their faces.
"Should... should we help her?"
Junpei shook his head, "Best to let them get it out of their system. I'm surprised they held out this long." He bumped shoulders, "Izumi-chan can take care of herself, especially when it comes to Terada."
Kouichi let his uncertainty show, but took the other boy's word for. He knew Izumi longer than he had after all...
The girl in question threw out another insult, involving Terada's mom and ugliness, and with a grin, she relished in her small victory before turning to her friends, "Quick, while she's still flustered. The others are waiting right?"
The two could only nod, following Izumi as Terada slowly regained her normal color.
"...I AM NOT UGLY!"
They stood outside an arcade.
Izumi grinned, "Yeah. So far, Tomoki has beaten everyone. Think you could take him?"
Kouichi raised a brow, "Um... no?"
The other member of their group wrapped an arm around his shoulder, "You can't be as bad as Kouji. Izumi-chan beat him easily. On a racecar game. It's practically impossible to beat anyone in that game. Kouji came in last place." Junpei shook his head, "Guy's good at martial arts, just not video games."
"He's good at guitar."
"Ah yes, yes," Junpei nodded, leading their group inside.
The arcade was bustling with life; children ran back and forth, some yelling while others waved. Near the back, Junpei spotted a hat and goggles. "Ah! Over there! Takuya!" He lifted the hand around Kouichi's shoulders, waving it for the other boy to see.
Izumi waved her own hands, quickly leaving the two in favor of running ahead.
Kouichi hung back, letting the other boy get all the focus. As they neared the group, he took a seat beside Tomoki, only giving a small smile when the younger boy turned his way.
"How are you, Kouichi-san?"
He ducked his head, "Alright. Uh... so why are we here exactly?"
"It's Takuya-han's birthday!" A voice said from behind. The two boys jumped in their seats, finding a bald boy about Kouichi's age wearing a haramaki.
Takuya looked up, eyes widening in recognition. "Sugiyama! I told you, it's my birthday, no tutoring today."
The boy, Sugiyama, waved a hand, "I know, I know. Your mom told me about today. Said as a tutor I was insta-" He stopped mid-sentence, looking behind him, "Ah! Kikuchi! Where did he go...?" Sugiyama huffed, frowning as he walked away. He returned a short while later, pulling someone along the way by their pants. He let go as soon as he reached the group, letting the pants snap loudly. Kikuchi squealed, his squinted eyes open from the pain. The smaller child behind them only giggled. Sugiyama's frown deepened, "Stop corrupting Araki, Kikuchi!" He pulled Araki closer, and Kouichi found himself staring at the identical haramaki around the other boy's stomach.
Tomoki coughed, getting Kouichi's attention again. "Yeah, it's Takuya-oniichan's birthday today. His mom planned this a while back. We tried the same for Shinya... but it didn't work out."
Kouichi tilted his head, "Uh... the principal?"
Tomoki nodded, "She planned in advance for a school field trip. It was during Shinya's birthday. Only he was sick and couldn't come."
Someone sat down on Tomoki's other side, folding his arms as he looked away.
"Kouji-san! How are you?"
Kouji kept his gaze in the other direction, "I'm fine. Mom's not feeling so well."
Kouichi sat up straighter, finding himself looking at his twin, not caring how awkward he looked. "What's wrong with Satomi-san?"
"She's just not feeling well. She was throwing up just as I was leaving. Dad thinks it's just a bug but she doesn't look ill."
The next few days, Satomi continued to feel sick at random intervals, sometimes unable to even cook because the smell would make her feel nauseous. Kouichi would take over, telling the older woman to take it easy, that he was used to cooking dinner. Satomi eventually let him, smiling at her husband.
Kousei slowly started to come home earlier, checking up on Satomi and just being generally annoying. It got to the point where Kouji pointedly told his father to go back to work, that everything was fine at home. While Kouichi cooked, Kouji helped around the house, cleaning here and there, the only rooms he didn't venture off into being his father's study and his parents' bedroom.
And then one day, Satomi waited until Kousei returned from work, not even knocking as she went into her husband's study. The twins gave each other a look, not really understanding. It didn't take long for the two to realize they were having a Twin Moment. They broke eye contact, the tension in the room stifling.
Kouichi sat at his desk, staring at his mother's photo. He was slowly starting to get used to living with his father. He didn't think he would adjust so quickly, he and Kouji still weren't talking to each other. Only random pleasantries and such. Having Satomi around was nice, she made the adjustment easy, and there was no denying that.
Tomoko smiled in her photo, the same smile he remembered seeing that morning, so many months ago.
Satomi was pregnant. She was six weeks along, according to the doctor.
A miracle, Kousei had said, showing the first sign of affection Kouichi had seen since he moved into the Minamoto household. Kousei hugged his wife and then Kouji, and then moved onto Kouichi. The older twin stiffened, much like Kouji did.
Satomi had tears in her eyes, pulling the two into her arms, agreeing with Kousei. Surely, this was a miracle. For the entire three years they were married, they were unable to conceive.
Kouichi felt a pang in his chest but returned the hug, genuinely happy for Satomi.
That night, he found Kouji sitting on his bed. He was staring at the photo of Tomoko on Kouichi's desk. Other items were littered across parts of the desk, pencils and books mostly, but the area where the photo stood lay clean. There were a few posters on the walls, a Lowemon keychain hung on a book bag. A plush toy Kouichi won at the arcade sat on a shelf beside more books.
Kouji shifted his weight, wrinkling the covers on the bed.
For a moment, neither said a word.
There was a cough, and then Kouji stood. "So. Kouichi."
There was another pause. "...This is getting us nowhere." Kouji sighed, "Look... I know you've been here for a while now... But I'm still not used to having a twin. But now that Mom is..." He paused, "You know what I mean. We can't have the baby come home to an awkward situation." He sat down again.
Kouichi moved forward, taking a seat on his bed, "Okay, yeah. I can understand that." He stared at the face identical to his, "So what now?"
Kouji looked down, "Well, I guess we can try and understand each other a little better? Actually act like twins?" He looked up, making a face, "Or something like that. I never knew anyone who had a twin before."
His brother shared a smile, "Same." He pursed his lips together, "So what did you want to talk about? Hobbies?"
Kouji shrugged, "Sure. I play the guitar. You?"
Kouichi shook his head, "I never tried to play any instruments. I was always busy helping Mom out."
"What was your mom like?"
Kouichi looked up, a sad expression flickering across his face, "She was the nicest person in the world. She always tried to do what was best for me." He let his eyes glance over, "You look a little like her."
Kouji blinked, "I do?"
"It's the hair." He dipped his head, pointing at his mother's photo, "See? Same hair, she just never wore a bandanna."
At the bottom of the stairs, Satomi stopped just short of where she could be visible. She smiled softly as she heard her step-son and his brother were actually having a conversation.
Things were beginning to look up.
Izumi frowned, her fork swirling around, wrapping the noodles in it. "So... let me get this straight." She lifted her fork, stopping just short of actually eating before putting it down again, "Kouji's going to be an older brother."
Kouichi nodded, poking his food with his chopsticks.
"And now you two are talking." It wasn't a question.
The boy nodded again.
Izumi finally lifted her fork again, chewing on her pasta thoughtfully. She swallowed, smiling, "Good. That's really good." She pointed her fork in his direction, "You guys should have talked sooner. I'm just surprised it took you so long."
He shrugged, "I don't know... We spent all of yesterday just... talking. About a lot of stuff."
He nodded, "I think I'm beginning to understand Kouji a little better now."
Izumi beamed, "That's great, Kouichi-kun!" She swirled her fork back into her pasta, chewing on her lower lip. "Oh yeah, I almost forgot."
Kouichi blinked, "What's up?" He brought his chopsticks up from his lunch box.
"What ever happened to Terada and the drama club?"
The boy blushed, letting his chopsticks, and his food, fall back into the lunch box. "Oh. I went to one of their meetings. It was... a little overwhelming, so I kindly declined."
Izumi giggled, "Of course. Terada's crazy fan club joined. Now all they do is serve her every whim and the others can't do anything." She stopped giggling and frowned, "At least, part of her fan club stayed."
Kouichi slowly took a bite from his chopsticks, "What do you mean?"
"A small portion decided to follow me. Luckily, they keep their distance."
Takuya leaned back in the swing, teetering just short of falling over. "You're a big bro, now?" He grinned, "How's it feel?"
Kouji stayed attached to the pole connecting to the swing set, his arms crossed, "I won't know until after the baby is born." He gave the other boy a look, "Duh."
The third member of their group gave a small chuckle, only stopping when the goggle boy sent a glare his way. "Just kidding, Takuya. You know that." Junpei turned back to the one who called them all together, "Jeez, Kouji. How many more siblings are you gonna get before this year ends?"
The other boy grimaced, "This should be the last one. Maybe. I don't know. This is Mom's first. She might like raising babies."
Then he was asked the question he was dreading.
"How's Kouichi handling it?"
Kouji shrugged, "Better? He's been helping Mom out with cooking and stuff. Sometimes the food gets to her and she has to leave the kitchen. Dad... He's been talking to some people at work, about making sure we don't move any time soon."
"Oh yeah!" Takuya leaned forward, "Weren't you supposed to stay for two years or something?"
Kouji nodded, "That was the plan." He let a smile appear on his face, "Somehow, I never knew staying here would mean my family would grow. It's a little weird."
Takuya grinned, "I remember when you first showed up. You were such a loner. Now you're best friends with Junpei and me."
Junpei clapped a hand onto Kouji's shoulder, "It only took Takuya a month to break you too." He grinned, the other boy just shook his head.
"Yes," He seemed adamant, "Definitely weird."
Kouichi neared the place he now called home, Izumi already gone from his sight. A bark alerted him as he turned the corner. The Minamoto dog, Hikaru, was running around the yard. Satomi sat on the porch, watching the dog. Hikaru let out another bark, and Kouichi found himself on his back with the dog licking his face.
Satomi was on her feet, trying to get the dog off of Kouichi. "Hikaru! Hikaru, stop it!"
Kouichi brought up his arms, trying to shield his face but Hikaru was persistent. It was only when another voice rang through the yard did the dog stop. Hikaru gave the boy under him another bark before running over to his owner.
Kouji kept his ground, patting his dog on the head. "Uh... What happened?"
Satomi helped the older twin to his feet, rubbing off any grass from his back. "I was letting Hikaru run around the front yard and when he saw Kouichi-kun he nearly attacked him."
"I'm... I'm okay," Kouichi wiped some bangs out of his eyes, "Hikaru just startled me. Usually he just barks at me."
His brother continued to pat Hikaru's head, "You're right, Kouichi. We usually just keep Hikaru in the back when you're home. Maybe he's finally used to you."
Satomi moved away from Kouichi, his back free of any pieces of grass. "That's wonderful. I was starting to worry Hikaru would never get used to you. Kousei will love this news." At the mention of her husband, Satomi smile grew soft and she laid a hand on her lower stomach. She kept her hand there, looking at the twins. "Well boys, what would you like to eat for dinner?"
Over the course of the next few months, the Minamoto household started to make renovations for the newest member of the family. Kousei's study was turned into a nursery, Kouji's old crib from when he was a baby was taken down from the attic, and all the while Satomi's stomach grew bigger and bigger.
One night as the family ate dinner, Satomi jerked in her seat. Kousei was immediately on his feet when his wife laughed. She had a hand on her stomach, "Kousei, she's kicking. Oh, come and feel it." As Kousei laid a hand on his wife's stomach, she turned to the other two boys at the table. She continued to smile, "Kouji, Kouichi-kun, don't be shy."
Kousei let a smile come on his face, "She really is kicking." He looked up, "Boys, come here and feel it."
Kouji got to his feet, hesitantly placing a hand on his mother's stomach. He jerked back at once, his eyes wide, "I felt it!"
Satomi and Kousei laughed at the innocence displayed.
Kouichi stayed rooted to his seat. His action did not go unnoticed. Satomi kept the smile on her face, though it didn't reach her eyes. She kissed her husband on the cheek, patted Kouji on the arm and then got to her feet. She waved off any help that was offered, keeping her sights on the other boy.
"Kouichi-kun, could you help me to my room?"
The boy in question blinked, but only nodded, "Sure, Satomi-san."
"Is everything alright?"
Satomi waited until the door to her bedroom was closed before asking, but it still caught the young boy look guard.
"W-what do you mean?"
She took a seat on her bed, resting her hands above her stomach. "When I offered to let you feel the baby kicking. She's quite the rowdy one." Satomi looked up, "Is there something the matter?"
Kouichi glanced down at his feet, trying to look anywhere else but the woman sitting on the bed. "I just... This is good. You're having a baby, Satomi-san."
"We're still your family, Kouichi-kun."
His head shot up, eyes wide. How did she...?
"Having this baby won't change anything. We still accept you." She let a smile dance across her face, "In case you haven't noticed, you've been a bit of a Godsend to us. Ever since you came along and helped me with shopping, I would have a little bit of money left over. When I realized I was pregnant, I started to save up that money for the baby." She held out a hand, motioning for Kouichi to take a seat next to her. "Everything happens for a reason. I know we could never replace your mother, and I want you to know that I would never try to take her place; it was the same with Kouji three years ago. I don't expect you to call me Mom, and I wouldn't imagine you doing it." She leaned forward once he sat down, engulfing him in a hug, "But I do want you to know that you have a family here, and we love you."
Kouichi felt tears welling up, but he kept them at bay, letting Satomi hug him. "Thank you, thank you Satomi-san."
"Don't mention it," she pulled away, smiling, "That's what a family is for."
Kouichi finished brushing his hair, putting the brush down on his dresser before he turned towards a small table. His mother's smile remained constant. He knelt before the table, his hands held together as if he were about to pray.
"Hi Mom. I know things have been a little... hectic lately. I'm sorry I haven't talked to you in a while. We've been really busy since Satomi-san came back from the hospital. You wouldn't believe how big Mitsuko has gotten. It's only been a couple of weeks but she just keeps growing. Kouji is a natural older brother. When Satomi-san is sleeping and Mitsuko starts to cry, Kouji is right there. It's amazing. School's going fine. Izumi's a great friend to have around; I wish you could meet her. I've started to get advice from Tomoki when we're at the arcade. I'm slowly getting better. I think one day I could even beat him. I'm also starting to hang out with Junpei and Takuya. Kouji's best friends are my best friends, I guess."
He took a glance around his room; his bed acquired new bed sheets, purple and black, while his walls received a new coat of white paint. Tomoko's shrine was moved to its own small table, leaving his desk open for school supplies and other items.
His room, as Izumi put it, finally had some life to it.
He turned back to his mother, "It took a while, Mom, but I finally feel at home."
From downstairs, a baby's cry floated through the house. Kouji poked his head into his brother's room, "Hey, you ready?"
Kouichi closed his eyes before opening them and getting to his feet, "Yeah. Let me make us an easy breakfast before we leave."
His younger twin nodded, "Okay. Mom's still asleep. I'm going to check on Mitsuko, just come and get me when it's done."
He smiled, "Got it."
End Notes: This was originally going to be a rewritten version of Kouichi's Lessons, but somewhere along the road it turned itself into a genfic of epic proportions. And I like it better this way.
A lot of inspiration came from the series itself, I even had the Digimon cameo in human form. And instead of just telling everyone who was who, I'm going to leave it up to the readers, though I tried to make it obvious.
Mitsuko is a fanmade female character that we at digitalrewind came up with. She is supposed to be Kousei and Satomi's daughter, and in fact we came up with this before Kouichi was shown in Frontier, letting me openly talk about how Kouji had a sibling, even if she wasn't born yet. According to a name website for babies, Mitsuko is supposed to mean Light Child. Though I highly doubt that, she has the word "Kou" in her name. Kinda. If Kousei could marry a Tomoko, he can name his daughter Mitsuko.
No one seems to know the name of Kouji's dog, so I thought Hikaru fit perfectly, considering Kouji is the Legendary Warrior of Light.