AN: len's an ugly butt with no friends

"I do remember something, but it's not a lot. It's more like a general impression, the ghost of a feeling, than a full-blown memory. I remember that I was small, or the world was just bigger. I remember that I was with a little girl with an infectious smile. And I remember that we were happy."

I was nine when I started asking a lot of questions. I knew I still had a mom and a sister, and like all impetuous and curious children, I naturally wanted to know more. I asked things like, was my mom pretty? Did my sister like to draw pictures, too? I asked sometimes why I couldn't see them, and my sweet Auntie would answer all of my incessant inquiries dutifully. But I was also a perceptive child, and I could see the way she would tense up when I asked about them. It was probably beyond my mental capacity at the time, though, to read between the lines and pinpoint just what was so uncomfortable about them—especially my mother, it seemed—that made my Auntie so flustered.

At age fourteen, I was old enough to realize that she was scared. Not scared of my mom or sister themselves, but scared of losing me to them. From what I understood, she had taken me in at a young age—must have been very young, for I had no recollection of it—with the intention of sending me back to them as soon as possible, but something happened that extended my stay. She never said anything on the subject, but I knew she cared deeply about me. I had a feeling that she'd grown attached to me, and honestly, I was attached to her too. Auntie Meiko and her boyfriend Kaito had always been my only immediate family for as long as I could remember, and though I certainly wondered about the family I had left behind, I didn't want to jeopardize what I already had.

Because what I had was fine the way it was. Auntie was plenty motherly enough for me, and if asking to return to family members I didn't even really know was going to upset her, then I preferred to avoid the subject entirely. Auntie was a pretty woman just barely in her early thirties, and she was always busy with work. She had a wild streak and would sometimes be loud or rash, but above anything, she was tender. She was always making the time to be there for my school events, always doing her best to provide for me, always meeting my whims and going out of her way to let me know that I was loved. She could be coarse, but her voice was always soothing and soft on nights when I had a bad dream or thought there was a monster outside my window. She could be strict, but her rules were never anything but well-justified and in place for my own benefit. Some of my peers would even take note of and express envy over my solid relationship with Auntie. "I wish I were that close to my mom," a few of them said on different occasions, and I would just smile. It was by no means a relationship bereft of conflict or issues, but I was happy with Auntie, and I hoped she was too. I loved her.

So that's why I never asked about the mother and sister that distressed her so.

When I turned sixteen, she asked me to sit down at the table across from her. Her expression was full of conflict, and Kaito was resting a reassuring hand on one of hers. With a soft sigh, she told me that she felt it was wrong of her to have kept me to herself all those years, and she offered to tell me everything about my "real family."

Initially, I declined. I was still curious about them, but I wouldn't settle for her selling herself short like that. She and Kaito were as real to me as any other family. My sense of loyalty took prevalence over curiosity. I told her as such, and we argued for a little bit before deciding that it would be okay for her to at least explain to me what all had happened and what kind of people they were.

"When you were about two," she began evenly, putting a few too many sugar cubes into her coffee, "my brother—your father—started having strokes. They kept getting worse and worse, until he finally… passed away. Meanwhile, your mother lived so far away from the rest of the family out here, and she was having trouble coming up with enough money on her own to support herself and two children. But… your mother is stubborn. She didn't want to have to change everything."

Kaito nodded and added, "Losing your father was hard on her, so it was natural for her to want to hold onto familiar things."

"Right. Though she realized after a while that that wasn't realistic, so she asked me to come and take you two for a little while. 'Just long enough for me to get things together,' she said. But when I came to take you two away, her resolve crumbled. She couldn't stand the idea of being alone and begged me not to take both of you away."

"So she kept Rin, and I ended up staying with you for longer than you expected, right?" I raised an eyebrow. Part of me wondered why it was me and not my sister, but I had a feeling that it'd be better if I didn't ask.

Auntie bit her lip. "Yeah. At… at first, it was only supposed to be for a couple of months. But finding a better job was hard for her, and then the months became years, and I was already completely attached to you… I think she could tell that I didn't want to give you up, so even once she got a new job, she kept giving me a little bit more time, a little bit more time. Then you were old enough to start going to school, and we didn't want to force such huge changes onto you all at once, and it was just... It was too late. It was a mess."

"And now you're already sixteen," Kaito chuckled softly, reaching over to tousle my hair. His large hand was warm and reassuring. "I remember when you just a little guy."

I nodded without a word, still processing everything. I had heard brief, abridged versions of this story, but I had never really known the details surrounding my separation. It seemed a little more complicated than what was being presented to me, but for the time being, I decided to just take Auntie's words at face value and figure out the technicalities later.

Auntie took both of my hands into hers and gave me the most heartbreaking expression. "Len, please forgive me. I've been selfish. I think it's time for you to go back to your family."

"What?" I felt my chest tighten in fear, and I recoiled my hands. "No… no! I don't want to leave, Auntie! I'm happy here with you and Kaito!"

"Not permanently, honey!" she quickly replied with wide eyes, as if the idea scared her too. "Absolutely not! I mean, not unless that was what you wanted! I just mean as a visit over the summer… I would have tried to send you over there for visits before, but the tickets are so expensive, and I was scared to send you on a plane alone… But Kaito helped me buy a ticket, and you're a young man now. So I think it would be the right thing to do."

I relaxed a tiny bit at this. Okay, if it were only temporary, then that wasn't so bad. But I still felt rattled. The questions drifting around my mind almost distracted me from understanding what Kaito said next.

"Mei and I have been saving money for college for you too, since you deserve it, and we didn't want to put that burden on your mother. So that's why it took a while to afford a ticket." Kaito gave me his signature smile, graceless and a little goofy, but full of nothing but kind thoughts. Auntie smiled more sheepishly, like she was embarrassed for me to know about this.

It was the first I had heard of such savings. These two were really always going out of their way to look out for me, and it was touching. I knew that I was lucky to have their unconditional, selfless love. I choked up for a little bit before finally being able to say, "…Thank you."

"So," Auntie said after a swig of coffee. "Do well on your finals so that you can have a fun summer break!"

The last couple of weeks of school passed without much hassle. I was studious and didn't have that much of a social life to distract me from exam cramming, anyway, so I was already well-prepared. Quizzes and tests came and went one by one, and despite everything, I found that the thing weighing heaviest on my mind was not formulas or essays, but my own personal thoughts.

The whole prospect of staying with my estranged mother and sister for all of summer presented many questions and concerns. For example, I wanted to be able to get along well with my sister like most of my peers did with their siblings, but we were both on the brink of adulthood now. We'd grown up almost our entire lives without sibling involvement, and there was going to be an absent level of intimacy. Would I feel like an intrusion to Rin? What if she didn't want to spend time with me at all? She might even become jealous of me. I was going to be splitting her—our—mother's attention into two, when it had always been focused on only one child. She could be resistant to that.

I had my own fair share of concerns—if not, more—pertaining to my mother, too. Was I going to feel like a burden? Auntie told me that mother was doing well enough to support herself and Rin now, but I'd be another mouth to feed. I didn't know exactly how well off my mother was now, so would I be a strain on her? I feared that she wouldn't want to spend time with me, either. It'd be the worst if both she and Rin wanted nothing to do with me.

And I guess that led up to my biggest fear. Why did she let me go in the first place? It wasn't like I regretted being given to Auntie Meiko at all, but I wanted to know why it was me and not Rin. Perhaps it was something as simple as her handing over whoever was most easily picked up. Maybe Auntie chose me herself. Or maybe I cried more than Rin, and my mother wanted the easier one to take care of. Maybe she wanted a girl to relate to. It could have been any number of tiny, insignificant reasons, but the answer I feared the most was that she did not want me around.

And if that were so, how much worse would I be to her now? Certainly, toddlers came with their own set of problems, but I knew that teenagers came with more. I didn't think I was too rebellious or particularly ill-behaved; Auntie had raised me well, and I had quiet tendencies anyway. But even still, I couldn't help panicking. All day and sometimes late into the night, my thoughts were consumed with "what ifs." What if, what if, what if.

What if she didn't love me?

I winced silently at the thought and went back to preparing for my Biology exam. It was my last test, and after that, it would be time to start packing.

AN: as sexy as my note at the top was, i feel like i probably ought to put a little disclaimer here i guess augh
um, well, i guess it's stupid for me to say this, but i suppose it's fairly obvious from the summary and the genres this story is categorized under that this will eventually be len x rin? and they are, in fact, twins by blood in this particular story. which means twincest, which i am frankly not a fan of (i prefer len and rin as non-twins), but there's a reason i'm doing this.
i want to write about this kind of relationship as realistically as i can. i know there's plenty of stories about these two that touch briefly on the FORBIDDEN TSUINSESTO LABU, but i'd like to look at the emotional and social conflict a little more? i guess. i don't really know. i can't guarantee that this will actually be realistic or good at all, ahghgfd so let me just stop talking now um
basically i just wanted to write a more challenging, less conventional romance. since most of my romance boils down to "character A falls in love wih B, they are awkward, they confess, they are both happy and in love, the end yay"
i'm dumb and this author's note is dumb and this first chapter is dumb cries i'm really sorry