Chapter 11: Completion
I didn't know why I was running. All I knew was the slamming of my feet on the ground, the hitch of my breath as air rushed into my lungs almost painfully, all in a desperate attempt to escape and hide. There were so many thoughts, so many emotions swirling that I could barely decipher the chaos. The joy I felt coursing through me when he whispered those words to the precious stone that now represented my brother. I was so deliriously happy. But it was immediately marred by my shame.
I stole him.
I had already taken too much. He had nothing left. He sacrificed a better life, saddled with a useless brother who couldn't even mourn him properly. Even in death I continue to steal from him. Taking away the only one who unconditionally loved him through the years.
I blinked back the tears that threatened to spill over, blurring the path in front of me. Brushing them away furiously, I didn't notice the tree root sticking obnoxiously out of the ground until I found myself thrust forward, the ground racing up to meet my face, only to be caught by two arms snaking around my waist, pulling me up and clutching me close.
"Caught you," his warm breath tickled my ear, sending a shiver through me that I couldn't quite blame on the cold. I struggled for a moment, my fingers pointlessly trying to push his grip loose, but nothing could move those arms. "You're not getting away from me again," his breathless voice was rough with emotion, tightening his hold so much that it began to pain me.
"Please," I gasped, keeping my head down and fighting the tears, "please I can't."
"Why." His tone was so obstinate, but laced with the slightest tremble of fear. I had to force down a delirious sob. I bit my tongue in an attempt to refrain from spilling everything. He swirled me around, and I caught a glimpse of his determined expression before furiously staring at the ground once more.
"Misaki." His velvety voice drew me in, and it took all of me to refrain from wrapping myself around him and sinking into his comfortable touch. His rough hand gripped my chin, forcefully turning my face to his. I could feel my resolve crumbling into nothing as I looked into his cloudy grey eyes, as full of emotion as the day of my brother's funeral. But instead of that dark despair, there was a glimmer of hope, of life. My body stiffened and my eyes flickered to my brother's grave as I attempted to rebuild that wall, forcing as much of a stony exterior as I could, ripping my face from his warm grasp.
"No. You belong to Nii-san. I'm not taking anything else away from him" I could hear my voice tremble, hoping that Usagi-san didn't catch it, I looked him dead in the eyes, hoping that my determination was reflected in them. I was taken back by the furious anger that took over that gentle face.
"So you'll condemn me to a life of loneliness and despair?" I started, shaken by the raw wave of anger.
"N-No," I stammered, "Usagi-san I just…" my voice trailed as I struggled to forth words. "I just don't want to take away the love you had for him." My voice was barely more than a whisper.
"Misaki," he sighed as he leaned against me. I struggled with the extra weight for a moment, grabbing a nearby gravestone in support and mentally whispering an apology to whoever laid there as I heard the stone squeak in protest. "What makes you think I'd love him any less?"
I blinked, confused by the question, my mind working furiously to generate a proper answer. I felt a sharp stab of pain. Was I still a replacement?
Usagi-san pushed himself up and gently laid a hand on my head. "Misaki, Takahiro will always be important to me. I will always remember him and care for him. When he left a part of me disappeared with him," he looked away for a moment, the depth of his eyes swirling wistfully. I struggled not to feel the hurt that came with every word. "I picked you up because you were such an important part of Takahiro. You were his world, his goal. He loved you more than anyone and anything. I thought I was saving you and honoring him. I thought that you could take his place" His fierce gaze swiveled and landed on me. "But you saved me in ways I didn't think was possible."
I was silent for a moment, unable to produce any words. I opened my mouth, licking my lips, "Usagi-san. I can't replace my brother," my voice cracked, my eyes focusing determinedly on a point behind him, "I can never measure up to him. He was-" I paused, closing my eyes, "is so much more than I will ever be."
"You're not the same. You had Takahiro's genuine and kind nature, but a brash sense of loyalty and empathy that he lacked. It grounds me to this world that I have never really ever felt as a part of." His hand slid down to my cheek, gently caressing it. My tears that were held at bay were unleashed at this gentle touch. I did nothing to stop their descent as they left a salty trail on my cheeks. "You're not taking me away. You're completing me."
I said nothing as he slowly brought me closer, wrapping his arms around me. I melted into his comforting embrace and allowed my eyes to slid shut, a flicker of hope and acceptance starting to burn in my chest.
I stared mindlessly as the hot water filled the already steaming cup, the sweet aroma of citrus tea rising, immediately calming me. Behind me, Misaki sat on the couch, his eyes glazed over, his vision focused on the far off distance that was visible only to him. I took the two steaming mugs and slowly made my way over, careful to put the mug down quietly. The sound of the cup on the wood snapped Misaki out of his reverie. I felt a shiver run down my spine as his gaze landed on me, and slowly focused. The small, shy, smile I loved so much crept up on his face as he wrapped his fingers around the cup, pulling it close and taking a small sip. I sat in silence, my heart pounding in nervousness, ear-splitting in silence.
"Ouch!" I started, my heart stopping for a moment at the sudden outburst from the chocolate-eyed boy, squinting in pain, sticking his tongue out in the air, fanning it furiously. I stared at him in shock for a moment, the corners of my mouth slowly curving up and an affectionate chuckle bubbled up from chest. He shot me a glare through tear-filled eyes. I leaned over, ruffling his soft hair. He leaned in with a tired sigh, and the silence threatened to fill the room once more. I forced the question out of my mouth.
"Will you move back in?" He looked at me, doubt flashing in his eyes.
"I...I don't know," he whispered, clearly uncertain. "I still don't know what to think," he admitted, looking up and scanning my face for my reaction. I gave him a gentle smile.
"How are you feeling then?" His eyebrows scrunched up as he thought for a moment, my blood pounding in my ears, trying not to expose how nervous I truly was as I awaited the verdict.
"Nervous." He said slowly. "Scared. Guilty." His eyes flickered to me for a moment, before staring heavily at the table again, as his cheeks reddened a slight bit, making my heart leap in joy. "Happy."
My smile grew and became genuine. I could scarcely contain the relief that flooded through me and restrain the sigh that nearly slipped through my lips. My fingers brushed through his hair, relishing in the sense of comfort and belonging. His warm eyes peered from beneath his bangs. I brushed them to a side, staring into those pools that I have found myself lost in so many times before. I moved in slowly, breathing his scent, as his eyes closed, leaning into my touch. Careful not to startle him, I quietly pressed my lips against his cheek, relieved when he accepted it, his cheeks warming up again as he ducked and hid behind those bangs once more.
"Move in with me, Misaki." I breathed, my voice barely above a whisper. "Stay by my side."
A tiny nod was all that was needed to push my heart to soar.
Hello hello hello! ヽ( ･∀･)ﾉ
I may have taken a long-ass hiatus since my last chapter and I have nothing but apologies for that. Life kind of got in the way, and to be honest I wouldn't have started this again if it weren't for the fact that there were still people not only reading this, but reviewing （○Ａ○）. I honestly did not expect that, but I cannot tell you guys how excited it makes me feel every time I receive one and realize someone has enjoyed something I wrote.
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