Chapter 1: Confusion

It was a vast field and I was standing alone, staring at the sky; again. The rough wind ruffled my hair; my dress went about unabashed, whipped by the incoming of a gale. The air made my ears singed; I heard whispers of incoming peril, but somehow my limbs won't obey me. I walked forward, knowing what's ahead of me, something ominous but I could not tell what it is.

As I came to the centre of the field, I saw a dark windmill looming over me. It stained the atmosphere with promises of threats, but I still walked towards it nevertheless. As I squinted, I could see there was a figure waiting for me at the entrance. I stopped when I was a breath away from her, a woman with curly hair and glinting eyes. She welcomed me and asked to sit beside her on the grass. I bid her instruction obediently when she closed our distance and whispered to me in a language I knew not, and I cried. I cried to my heart content until I was fully awake.

Tear-stained, I got up from my bed, feeling dizzy and quite shocked with what I dreamt just now. I was pondering of the repetitive dreams that seemed to invade my sleep when Yori came into view.

"Why are you crying?" he asked, his face a stony mask.

"It's nothing" I lied smoothly. He grabbed my hand in swift motion and demanded; "Did anything happen that I suppose to know?" his eyes were searching answers through mine. Those pairs of eyes that used to see me with such gentleness now turned into null void. My eyes started to water, my vision was blurred by the tears that threatened to come out, I wanted to speak to him, to spill the truth but there's a heavy lump in my throat. I just managed to croak indecipherable words before I burst into tears and hugged him fiercely.

He was so vigil, he did not say anything but his presence alone was soothing.

"I had a bad dream. The same dream from before, and before and before…"

"What kind of dream? He slowly untied my hands and led me to my own bed. I hugged my knees to myself when I explained the events that happened in my dreams, occasionally stealing glances to look at his reaction.

"Are you an idiot?" he smacked my head.

"That hurts! Why are you so cold to me? I expect you to underst-

"-urgh, an idiot stays an idiot" he finished with disapproving glare.

Hurt and quite confused with his heartless reaction, I dashed towards our bathroom. I could hear his footsteps following me, but I could care less. I slammed the door and he knocked several times. Then, silence.

Knock.

"Leave me alone."

Knock. Knock.

"…."

Silence.

I unlocked the door and a few moments after that Yori opened it. Carefully, he approached me. Teary eyed with glistening red nose, I was about to retort any snickers that will come out of his mouth when he did the opposite.

He hugged me.

"Forget them; they're just your dreams."

As soon as I heard his soothing voice, I cried. I cried to all my heart content as I clung at him like I was holding my dear life. He just stood there, motionless; but his warm presence alone soothed me.

"Iku! Hurry up, or else we're gonna be late!"

"Yeah! Coming, coming! Mom, love you! Bye~!" I waved at my loving mother, who smiled hesitantly as she saw me hurrying down our lanes to meet my best friend, Tomoka.

I used to walk with Yori to school but Tomoka is an additional towards my routine as our relationship begins to bloom when we were in 8th grade. I couldn't help but to notice that sometimes when we spoke, Tomoka's eyes would completely deserted mine and when I followed hers I found myself staring at my twin brother. That's weird. I tried to look at Yori's face with such intensity, hoping to catch glimmers of whatever that stole Tomoka's attention.

His face is smooth, as always. His jet black hair falls gracefully, almost covering his eyes. Hair. Eyes. I wondered where he got those colours. His hair didn't match my brown ones and his eyes…that's another story. Sometimes I felt that he was completely and totally different than me, scratch the different genders. However, he started to act like a complete and a total stranger towards me, unlike the way he used to treat me. I wondered why…and that's when his eyes stared at mine, piercing and shattering my nerves.

"S-sorry, I just wondered why we are so different..." I explained as to execute my excuse. I kind of stared at him unnecessarily long. He tore his gaze away from mine, staring straight ahead; looking cold and numb.

"That's because you're a girl and I'm a man."

Quite shocked with his response I retorted, "No, I don't mean it that way." And what's with him saying that I am a girl while he is a man?

He looked at me as if to search for an answer, and Tomoka intervened by saying "Yeah, except for genders, Yori exceeds in everything while Iku is just the total opposite of him!" she finished with a laugh.

"Tomoka! You're supposed to back me up, not support him." I sulkily strode to get farther than both of them, ashamed of her accusations. I walked no more than few steps when I heard a low chuckle emanating from behind me. I knew whose voice was that. As I peeked behind me I saw something I've always wished before.

Yori's smiling face.

"Iku, it's time for P.E, and you haven't even changed your clothes yet?" Tomoka was standing in front of me, each hand at her slender waist.

I apologized to her and said that I would change once I gave Yori's mathematics textbook to him when she suddenly and eagerly offered to deliver it to him. I was not really surprised because it was the expected reaction that came from her. She was not the only one who was overjoyed at the mention of my twin brother. Other girls adored him as though as he was some kind of God or something. It was not hard for me to make girlfriends once they knew of my relation towards Yori.

"Yeah, why not. Let's meet in front of our class in about 5 minutes" I waved her goodbye and she replied enthusiastically. I hurried towards the girl's changing room and I thought I saw a glimpse of Yori inside Saoki sensei's classroom. I wondered what business he could have with Saoki sensei. Maybe I have mistaken him for some other guy. Yori always told me of whatever he was or wanted to do and of this meeting; I knew nothing of it so I must be wrong.

As soon as I came inside the changing room I realized that no one was there except for me. Ack! I should hurry or sensei will scold me! I was about to exit the room when I saw my own image in the mirror. Unkempt and my hair looked out of order. God! I did what I could do best. I tied my hair in two pigtails and bolted out of the door. On my way I saw Yori standing outside of his classroom, clearly annoyed of his die-hard-fans that swooned over his attention.

"Did you get the book from Tomoka-chan? Thanks, it really helped me out!" I let him saw my effort by grabbing both of my pigtails and showed him cheerfully as to mend the bad time we have this morning. I saw Yori's expression softened as he hurried me to go. That was enough to brighten my day.

"See you later Yori"

At that I waved him goodbye and started to move forward when I heard whispers reverberated in the air. I saw few of the boys snickered and some of the girls that looked disapprovingly towards me.

What's up with them?

Then I knew the blinding truth when one of those vulgar boys shouted clearly;

"Whooho~! That's a blazing pink checked for Yuuki sister! Check it out, guys!"

A rang of laughter followed his comment. He caught me off guard when I saw where his finger was pointing and true enough as I looked at my chest; my bra was clearly visible beneath my P.E shirt.

"No!" I squealed and reflexively covered my breasts and tried to search for Yori when his shirt covered my upper abdomen and I saw his blazing face.

I was scared. Never once in my whole life I've met such an angry Yori.

"Cut it out!"

The hall was silence at once. Yori stood in front of me in protective stance; his broad shoulders were enough to keep my shameful tears from running.

"Yori…I-" I could not finish my sentence as I saw Yori's body got tense and his gaze was narrowed at the guy that spoke just now as he was snickering on purpose; as if to challenge Yori. No, he was taunting him. I grabbed Yori's tee from his back and said "I'm ok, Yori. Ignore him, ignore them…" As Yori was about to face me that guy spoke again;

"What a view, don't you think so brother?" and that did it.

Thud!

"Stop ogling her!"

Everything occurred so fast that I could not really grasp what's really happened. I saw that guy was cornered at the wall with Yori strangling him in vice grip; his face was white and livid. A friend of the guy smacked Yori with something hard and that made Yori released his comrade. I gasped while Yori tried to balance himself from the blow. Then that guy spoke in a low, vicious tone;

"Isn't this going too far? You're one hell of a psycho, bro"

Thud! I couldn't stop my tears from running down.

Yori punched him on his face, bent over him and kept punching his face while I gave way to my weak legs as I knelt and my body shook with uncontrolled sobs that did not seem to emanate from me. Everything went in a blur as I saw everything through my teary eyes; the sounds were overpowering my senses as I could hear Yori's voice on top of the guys' curses, gasps from the girls and some cheers from the crowds. Someone helped me on my feet and murmured soft, soothing words to me. Unmistakably, that voice belonged to Tomoka. I could not tell her how grateful I felt of her presence, but I showed it by hugging her tightly and cried on her shoulder while she cooed me down with her soft pleasant words. Somehow, her hug was not as warm as Yori's. At the thought of him I burst in tears.

I,m sorry, Yori. I'm sorry I got you involved in my foolishness. I'm so sorry, Yori. I truly am.

Later that morning I was called in by our school's discipline teacher, Mr. Aoyama. We waited for Yori's presence when after half an hour waiting; there was no sign of him coming. I wondered where he went as Aoyama sensei lectured me. After a while, I was given permission to leave and I met with the bunch of guys that involved in the quarrel on my way out. I did not have the courage to face them alone and so I walked with my head hung low, but I could feel hot stares from them that burned through my body; shaking me with icy fear.

I was glad when I came near to my classroom but was greeted with despair when I saw the empty seat next to mine. Tomoka was not at her place. I excused myself from the Mathematic's class to go to infirmary room as I heard from the gossips uttered by the girls behind me that Yori was there. Worried sick of his condition and too ashamed of my foolishness, I slowed my steps as to procrastinate my meeting with Yori. I was nervous of his reactions towards me, but one thing for sure, he will be mad at me. The door creaked as I opened them slowly, hoping to not to wake Yori that I suppose was deep in slumber. As I peeked inside, I saw no one in there. The infirmary was in mess, there were bottles of pills scattered about, and the sheet on the bed crumpled and the blanket was flunked about.

What had really happened in here?

My heart skipped a beat. Yori! What had might happen to him? Did the guys ganged up on him and beat him to satisfy that vulgar guy's revenge? I hoped I was wrong. I didn't know what I was searching in the infirmary until I saw a red gleam at the foot of the bed. It was a bracelet. It was in fact Tomoka's bracelet that I gave her for her birthday. I picked it up and was puzzled over the reason it lied there.

That's not important.

What's important now is to search for Yori's whereabouts. I decided to go home early as to check up on Yori. He must be home; he doesn't look like it but he's the home guy. He would never wander around aimlessly.

After few knocks, our house's door opened and mom's worried face greeted mine.

"Mom…"

"Why are you alone? Where's Yori?" her eyes hovered over me like I was some sort of display and she even tiptoed to look for Yori. She snapped her attention at me at once and when she said that we need to talk I knew that Aoyama sensei had efficiently called her to inform her of the ruckus that was triggered by me and Yori's outburst of rage at school. This is not going to be nice. In times like this, I need him. I need Yori.

Yori, where are you?

As I sat down, mom let out a straggled breath before she looked straight to my eyes. She gave me a mild, sad smile and opened her arms and said two simple words; come here.

My eyes were swollen from excessive strain of my outburst of tears and my throat was sore from unrestrained wails and sobs while my mom held me in her arms all the while soothing me with words of courage even though I heard none of it. She still held me close now, stroking my long hair graciously with her hand.

"Iku, do you remember when you and Yori were small?"

Unsure of which memory she was referring to, I nodded reluctantly.

"Well, he is a protective brother when it came to you. He would always prioritize you in whatever he did; he even asked me to let him marry you!" we both chuckled at its impossibility and ridiculousness. It seemed so far away now. Yori had somehow become distant with me lately and the fight last morning raced my brain into thinking that he still cared for me.

But, something was bothering him. Something that burdened him and he couldn't share or tell me about. Was it me?

"So Iku, I hoped whatever that happen in the future will not make your relationship more distant than it is now" mom spoke softly.

I was shocked by the fact that my mom noticed that we were less close than when we were once, because it was not obvious. Not to me and unfortunately not to mom. I hugged her tightly and thanked her for her support.

"I promise I would not be as careless as today" mom only replied it with one of her usual smile. I felt a lot of my burdens have been lifted by just having this small talk with her. Mom asked me to help her prepare dinner and I suggested that we should make Yori's favourite meal tonight. We worked and talked some. I could not wait to see Yori. I wanted to tell him about the 'I wanted to marry Iku' part and wondered what his reaction would be. I chuckled a little to conceal my mischievousness.

It's getting late but there was no sign of Yori whatsoever. Where did he possibly go? Mom was worried, but we could not do anything as Yori does not have a cell phone to contact. We have tried contacting his classmates, but no one had seen him after the incident. Father tried to reason with us and had even suggested that we have our dinner without him. I was reluctant at first but then when my stomach started to growl, all reasons left me.

I ate and ate and still no sign of Yori coming home.

Chomp! Chomp!

"Mom, I want one more bowl of rice!"

"Iku, it's your third already"

"I don't care, I just wanna eat now"

"Well, is it fine if you only eat rice with no ground beef?"

"Oh, for what should I care if Yori loses his portion of ground beef" and I snatched it before my mom could respond anything towards my behaviour for I was started to get mad for Yori's absence and had done this purposefully to irk him. Father's responded by chuckling and he said something about me not growing maturely as Yori did.

Humph! A mature teenager would not let his parents got worried of his whereabouts after having a fight at school and did not even care to be home early.

Then, I heard a few knocks on the door. He is finally home.