Because cliche is just so loveable.

"Do You Really?"

I've always questioned my mother's love for me.

Because she was always absorbed in her work, and Father was sometimes in Milan, sometimes, in Paris, or maybe New York, I was put in the hands of Auntie Rei and Uncle Hikaru for most of my childhood.

I remember how excited I got when Auntie Rei persuaded Mother to take a vacation, and take the entire family out on a vacation. We'd gone to Paris one time, and Mother had gotten me a Michael Kors gold plated watch, much larger than my childish wrist. She told me that it was an early present, for me to wear when I could grow into the watch and become a man.

"All real men must wear classic watches," she said. "Your father does, and you will, too."

Mother's father had a Rolex watch, I remembered. I didn't remember what Father's father wore—he was always kind of in the background. Only Izumi really associated with him closely, anyway.

When we got home, I slept with the watch next to my pillow for months until Momo, my sister, found out and teased me about it. I found pleasure in Mother and Father's laugh as she relayed the revelation to them, and laughed with them too.

Those were the fonder days, when we all woke up extra early to have breakfast together. Then Grandmother (on Mother's side) fell ill, and Mother had to take care of her and work even harder at the same time. Father's fashion business started getting popular, and some famous royalty became his client, so he was off traveling, too.

Momo and I ended up eating breakfast at Uncle Hikaru's part of the house. I sat between Naru and Momo, but it still felt a little bit lonely.

I remember as a child that I was often envious of all the attention showered upon Narumi and Izumi-how no matter what, Auntie Rei and Uncle Hikaru would make sure to attend each of Narumi's soccer games or basketball games or whatever he was playing at the time, and how Auntie Rei would always drop Narumi and I off at school and pick him up.

Me, I devoted most of my time to practicing the piano and violin and studying. I was at the top of the class and known as the most brilliant and talented student in the school-I even skipped several grades-but still, Mother just couldn't find the time to attend even one piano competition. Father came to the concours in Vienna, but Mother didn't.

Momo tried her best too, becoming a child actress and securing a major role in a prime-time television series. She entered in a beauty pageant and won, though I knew that she secretly harbored more of an interest in photography than modeling. She only did it so that whenever Mother or Father turned on the television, they would see her on the screen and be reminded of her.

I remembered hearing Auntie Rei fighting with Mother about it, screaming at her until tears started pouring down her face and she lost her voice. Mother just had a sad, sad look on her face, quietly sitting at the sofa, looking down at her coffee mug. She didn't say a word.

I always wondered if she really cared for me and Momo.

Then, when I was thirteen, I asked her. "Mother, do you really love me?"

She stared at me over the rim of her coffee cup, not exactly surprised but not exactly expecting it either. "Why do you ask?" I noticed that she was avoiding my question.

Pressing on, I shifted from foot to foot nervously. "You never come to Momo's pageants, and you never come to my recitals or my competitions."

She sighed softly. "Rakuto, you have to understand that your father and I are very busy, and it is hard for us to make time-"

Angrily, I interrupted her. "Auntie Rei makes time for Naru! She goes to every one of his games, and she even drives him to school! And because Izumi was in his school play, she especially canceled an appointment with an important business partner just to go see him! And he was only Tree #3! He didn't have any lines!"

Mother's stare was steely and hard. "Auntie Rei is irresponsible and scatterbrained. It's amazing that she can somehow uphold the company that your grandfather passed down to her."

My response was equally harsh. "Well, at least if the company crashes, she still has a family that loves her!" In a storm of fury and recklessness, I stormed out of the door and into the streets.

"Wait!" I heard Mother call to me, anxious and frightened. "Raku, stop! Watch out!"

I halted in the middle of the streets, only to see my mother rush up onto me and throw me out of the way-

I closed my lights against the blinding lights and the honking, and then:


I awoke to white hospital walls, and the muted sounds of weeping and murmuring. "...Mother?" I croaked, my voice scratchy and hoarse. My throat hurt almost as much as the pang near my rib, and it hurt to breathe.

"He's awake! Oh, thank God." Mother? No, it was Auntie Rei. Her foggy face swam into my vision. "What's your name, and what year is it?" she asked pleadingly.
I gave the information to her, and she sighed in relief. "Good, no amnesia. Raku, do you remember what happened?"

I would have shaken my head, but my skull hurt and was ringing, so I said, "No."

"There was a car accident. Drunk driving in midday," Auntie Rei explained. "Aria shoved you out of the way, but you impaled your head on a metal pole and had a concussion. One of your ribs punctured your lungs, and you had to go into surgery."

"Where's Mother?" I asked, my fear increasing. "Where is she?"

Auntie Rei's face screwed up, and she burst into tears. Uncle Hikaru pulled her out of the room, rubbing her back and murmuring softly.


"Father?" I asked groggily. "What happened to Mother?" I swallowed. "She's she?"


I sighed in relief, wincing when I jerked the wrong way.

"She's in a coma."

My eyes flew open. "What?"

Father was struggling to contain his emotion. He gripped the edge of my hospital bed. "Mother...always had a delicate condition. It worsened when she started working, and when she was hit directly by the truck, she...she was knocked out and she hasn't woken up." He swallowed. "The doctors say that it's a rare condition, and they haven't found a cure for it."

A sob caught in my throat. "It's my fault."

Father seemed to jerk alive at this. "No, Raku, it's not. It was the driver's fault, if anything-he shouldn't have been drinking and driving."

"But if I hadn't run out of the house-"

"Rakuto," Father interrupted, "we found Mother lying on the road, half-conscious. She was holding on, Raku, just barely, and the only words she was saying were your name."

He sat down on the stool next to my bed, clasping and unclasping his hands. "I blame myself for not explaining this to you and your sister earlier, Raku. I blame myself for not coming to see you more, not putting in more effort to be a family. I will sincerely try to be more of a father to you and your sister. I won't leave you two alone at home anymore." He took a deep breath.

"Mother loves you. She loves you and Momo very much, but she has trouble showing it because, well, she's just not like Auntie Rei. She can't kiss people in public, and she feels uncomfortable hugging and doing showy things that Auntie Rei does. The only way she can show her love is through working, and giving you and Momo the best she can afford. She makes sure that you two are put in the best, safest schools, and she personally interviews all of your teachers."

I swallowed, feeling oddly shaken. "Why didn't you tell me this before?" I demanded hotly. Then this wouldn't have happened...

Father looked saddened, grim, and even more upset. "It was my fault. She was too embarrassed, and so I promised not to tell. I'm sorry, Raku."

Right now isn't the time to put the blame on someone.

"No..." I took a deep breath. "Can you ask the doctor to come in? I'd like to speak with him alone."

(Years Later)

Exclusive Interview: Genius 18-Year-Old Doctor Discovers Revolutionary Cure

Dr. Rakuto Hitachiin, a genius doctor at only eighteen, discovers the revolutionary cure for a disease that has long since boggled the minds of experienced doctors three times his age.

How do you feel, Dr. Hitachiin, discovering the cure? What was your motivation behind this?

Dr. Hitachiin (H): It's amazing to finally complete my goal. I've been working to develop a cure for this syndrome since I was thirteen. My mother was involved in an accident and was put in comatose due to the effects of the syndrome. Ever since then I decided to become a doctor to save her.

That's amazing. How is she?

H: She woke up yesterday morning and is recovering steadily.

Do you have any other aspirations if you hadn't decided to become a doctor?

H: Maybe a musician, but I think being a doctor is worth it, and with a little pushing, I probably would have chosen it. I can't imagine notbeing a doctor now, and I enjoy every minute of it. Even the long hours. (laughs)

Do you have anyone to thank for your discovery?

H: My family, definitely. Father, Momo, Aunt Rei, Uncle Hikaru, Naru, Izumi, and my lovely girlfriend Miho; thanks for helping me through many obstacles in these five years. My teachers who have guided me, and last, but not least, Mother, who has spurred me on even in her sleep.

How about a welcome-back message for your mother?

H: Um... (pauses) Mother, I don't doubt you anymore. Thanks for saving me that day and giving me my dream. Without you, I probably still would've been wandering around aimlessly. Good luck during house arrest. I love you.

House arrest?

H: (laughs) My father has a protective complex. He won't be letting my mother leave the house alone for ages.

What do you plan to do next?

H: The usual. On call, 24-7. I would like to spend some time with my family, however-it's been quite a while since we've eaten breakfast together.

Thank you for your time, Dr. Hitachiin.

H: Thank you.

Dr. Hitachiin seems to be an extremely busy man in demand, as his cell phone starts ringing constantly the moment he turns it on. Girls all over the world will cry in despair at the mention of his girlfriend of three years. He is notably quite fashionable, perhaps from genetics due to his fashion designer parents, and constantly wears a gold Michael Kors watch. His father, Hitachiin Kaoru, is the founder and CEO of Hitachiin Designs and his until-recently comatose mother, Hitachiin Aria (nee Yanase) was the CEO of Apple Athletics, Co. His family is full of young geniuses as well, ranging from model-turned-photographer Hitachiin Momo to rising abstract artist Hitachiin Izumi and Olympic gold-medal winner Hitachiin Narumi. Perhaps this line of talented prodigies also run in the family as well?

For more about the famous Hitachiins, turn to pg. 47...

Review, yes? Also, for the WHY'S and HOW COMES' segment of the epilogue series, is it OK with you guys if I just whip over the basics of the explanation? It's kind of difficult to come up with interesting, detailed explanations... =_= (cough lazybutt cough)