Blink

Hitomi Hyuga


-September 19th, 2009 2:14 pm-

"Hikaru? Are you waking up?"

Everything was blissfully hazy when he began to regain consciousness. The sounds that surrounded him, those of beeping medical equipment and the voices of those who were around him, sounded very distant. His eyelids felt extraordinarily heavy when he tried to open them. When he managed it, his distorted vision made him feel dizzy. His eyes roamed around the room, taking in every overwhelming being in the surrounding area.

"Hikaru!" said Yuzuha Hitachiin, gently taking her son's hand. "My God, I thought I'd never see you again!"

"Mother…w-what's going on?" he asked groggily. "Where am I?" He looked at himself. His clothes were spattered with blood. "Why am I in my school uniform?"

She looked fretfully to someone dressed in blue scrubs carrying a clipboard. They nodded and left the room, giving the two some privacy.

"Listen, Hikaru," said Yuzuha. "You're in the emergency room. Do you remember anything that happened today?"

He tried to recall the morning. Let's see…I remember waking up and getting dressed. Then I ate breakfast and came back to my bedroom to get my books. After that…huh…

"I don't remember much," he confessed. "It's strange – it's just like a blank in my memory."

Yuzuha looked slightly relieved, but at the same time troubled. "The doctor said that it's best for you to work it out on your own, that we can't rush the recovery process."

"Wait, did you say doctor?"

She sighed. "But I think you at least deserve to know what happened this morning. I hate keeping things from you.

"This morning, while Mr. Namikawa was driving you and Kaoru to school…there was an accident."

"What?" Hikaru sat up on his gurney, only to have a sharp pain in his shoulders make him cry out in agony. He tried to lay back down gently, a difficult task now that the pain had taken up residence in his upper back. Though weak in comparison, his right arm was now joining his shoulder in the symphony of pain. Just then, he noticed that his forearm was wrapped in white gauze which was stained with dried blood. He grimaced, a steady, throbbing migraine pulsing through his head.

"Please be still," Yuzuha pleaded. She patted his hand and kissed his forehead in an attempt to calm him down. "Another driver was speeding through a red light at the intersection, distracted by their cell phone," she continued. "They never saw you – by the time they looked up…it was too late." Yuzuha cringed for a moment, trying to steady her breathing. After a moment, she regained her composure. "The vehicle hit on the passenger side of the car, where the paramedics said you had been sitting. We don't know yet, but it may have broken your collarbone. The window shattered and sent shrapnel everywhere. That's why your arm is bandaged; there are bits of shrapnel embedded under the skin."

Hikaru inspected his arm, lightly touching the tender area where the blood stains were. It was true; he could feel the sharp edges under the muscle tissue. "There's…glass in me?"

Yuzuha nodded timidly. "That's not all – paramedics said that you must have hit your head on the other window. That would account for your concussion."

Hikaru reached up and felt around his scalp, when he discovered that bandages were wrapped around the circumference of his skull. He found a golf ball-sized knot on the side of his head, just above his right ear. "What happened to Mr. Namikawa?"

"He only suffered minor injuries," she said. "He's been checked in for whiplash. They told me he would be fine in a day or so, but he won't be coming back to work for a while."

Hikaru gently massaged his temples. "Why don't I remember any of this? I mean, it's not like a person can just…forget something this serious!"

"Sweetie, you probably just have minor amnesia," said Yuzuha, stroking her son's light orange hair. "The doctor said that it's completely normal for the victim of a traumatic event to experience memory loss."

Hikaru sighed angrily. What does she mean by "traumatic event?" Suddenly, he realized that something was missing.

"Mother, where's Kaoru?"

Yuzuha bit her lip, afraid to tell him the horrifying truth.

"Where is he?" Hikaru demanded. "Is he hurt?"

It took a moment for her to answer. She sat quietly with her hands folded in front of her, blinking away tears. Finally, she took a deep breath and looked her son in the eyes. "He's been moved to the operating room. They haven't told me much, but I know that he's in critical condition. Oh, I can't think about it…" Yuzuha held her face in her hands, sobs shaking her whole body. Someone knocked at the door, peeking around the cracked door moments after.

"Mrs. Hitachiin?" said a nurse, coming into the room. "The doctor would like to give Hikaru a more thorough check-up. Whenever you're ready, we'll wheel him into the infirmary."

Yuzuha composed herself. "Of course," she said shakily. "Go ahead and…do what needs to be done."

The nurse bowed and pressed a red switch on the wall. Within minutes, a small group of medical staff came in to transport the gurney to the room. "Please remain still," said the nurse. "You'll be with the doctor momentarily." Hikaru did as he was told, but it was unlikely that he fully comprehended anything he was told after the news he had just heard from his mother. Even when he was flat on the gurney, he had the same vacant stare he had adopted when he realized that a part of him was missing.

-July 8th, 2009 12:53 pm-

"Man, it's hot," said Kaoru as he fanned himself with his workbook.

The boys were at the pool, enjoying their break from school for the summer. Well, at least Hikaru was; while his younger twin was busy with his summer homework, Hikaru was relaxing in the pool, floating lazily on an inflatable chair.

"Come in, then," said Hikaru, splashing the water with his foot. "You've been doing homework since the break started."

Kaoru looked up from his verb conjugations. "Yeah, and you haven't done anything. I'm not just going to let you copy my work this time – you ought to be doing it yourself."

Hikaru grinned. "Ah, you know you can't resist. Come on, take a break! Please?" Kaoru snorted and found his place in his book again. Hikaru, not appreciating being ignored, sat up and sprayed Kaoru in the face with a wave of cool water.

"Ack…H-Hikaru!" sputtered Kaoru. "You're getting my paper wet!"

Hikaru poised his hand over the water. "I'll do it again! C'mon, just a quick break?"

Kaoru scowled at his brother, but soon found himself dissolving into helpless laughter. He closed his workbook and discarded his t-shirt. "Okay, you win this round!" With that, he dove into the pool and swam under Hikaru's float, capsizing it and sending his brother below the surface.

Hikaru emerged from the water, coughing and laughing simultaneously. "Oh, so it's a fight you want, eh?" He ducked Kaoru underwater by his shoulders. "This means war!" Kaoru fought back, kicking and throwing punches to no avail.

"Pbbbbth! Hikaru!" he coughed as he came up for air. "I give! Uncle!"

Hikaru smirked and released his grip, allowing Kaoru to breathe. "Don't even try, little brother," he snickered. "I'll always win!"

Kaoru coughed, ridding himself of the offending pool water. "So you say, but I still won't let you copy anything this time, not even my English grammar notes. You really ought to do them yourself."

"Whatever you say, Kaoru," said Hikaru with a wink. "I'll find some way to convince you otherwise."

"We'll see," said Kaoru. He rolled his amber eyes and climbed out of the pool, wrapping himself in a towel and settling back at the table to continue doing his work. Hikaru genuinely smiled and went back to relaxing in the pool. Kaoru, you know I love you, my stubborn little brother…

-September 19th, 2009 4:04 pm-

"The car was hit with the force of a sports-utility vehicle going about ninety-two kilometers per hour," said the surgeon. Yuzuha looked through the window into the operating room, where her son lay unconscious on the table. She could hardly bear to look; Kaoru was covered in nasty bruises and deep cuts all over. His naturally fair skin had taken on an abnormal pallor, as white as the sheet that covered his legs. He was hooked up to so many different machines that Yuzuha found it hard to believe that her son was somewhere in there. His amber eyes were closed, but she knew that they had been wrenched open when he was knocked out – just the image of that in her head made her heart lurch.

"How did this happen? How badly is he hurt?" she whispered.

"We're not sure what exactly happened at the moment," the surgeon answered. "You'll have to wait for the forensic reports and the photographs that were taken at the scene. But I can tell you the extent of his injuries: the majority of the force collision went to his chest. His left lung collapsed and quite a few of his ribs are broken. His heart suffered only insignificant damage, but there was internal bleeding around the diaphragm. There's also extensive spinal damage; we're not entirely sure so soon into examining him, but it's possible that he could be paralyzed. The first thing we did was insert a chest tube to keep him breathing. Then we had to hook him up to an I.V. to make sure his blood pressure didn't drop anymore. Thus far, his brain still needs to be examined – there's the definite possibility of a concussion since he has yet to regain consciousness."

Yuzuha blinked back tears. "This is so much to take in…I don't know how he'll be able to make it. He was the smaller of my twins, you know."

"We're doing everything in our power to help him, Mrs. Hitachiin," said the surgeon. "In the meantime, why don't you get some rest? You've been here since the boys' arrival this morning."

Yuzuha rubbed her eyes. "Can I stay in Hikaru's room? I feel like I need to be around…just in case." Just in case…Kaoru doesn't make it…

The surgeon smiled sadly. "Of course. Go on, I'll keep you posted on his condition."

-July 13th, 2009 5:32 pm-

Hikaru sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Finally!" He dropped his pencil on the desk and dramatically shut his textbook.

Kaoru had been in the bathroom brushing his teeth when he heard the commotion. He peeked around the corner into Hikaru's bedroom. "So you finished your work?"

Hikaru gave Kaoru a satisfied grin. "Yup! Aren't you proud of me?"

"I would be if you didn't have to copy my English article translation," said Kaoru. "Although I must admit that I'm impressed that you did your statistics work without even asking me to borrow it."

"I'm not an idiot, Kaoru," said Hikaru, laughing. "I'd like to get the right answers, not half-assed guesses."

"Oh, you're so witty," said Kaoru, feigning exasperation. "You should be a comedian."

"You know you love it," said Hikaru, putting on his best sultry gaze and sauntering over to his brother. Kaoru chuckled and put on what he liked to call his "Uke Face."

"Hikaru, don't," said Kaoru softly. "You're making me blush."

Hikaru leaned forward and pressed his forehead against Kaoru's. He held it there for a few long seconds, trying to see which twin would break down and laugh first. To his great satisfaction, Kaoru's innocent expression dissolved and he collapsed on Hikaru's bed, clutching his abdomen.

"Victory!" yelled Hikaru as he jumped onto the bed with his brother. The two laughed until they were both red in the face with aching sides.

"Go to your bed, Kaoru," said Hikaru, still gasping for breath.

Kaoru rolled over onto his stomach. "You're no fun."

Hikaru pointed to the door. "Go on."

"Please?" Kaoru put on his Uke Face again and pouted his lower lip.

"Out." Hikaru turned his back to Kaoru, trying not to look at his puppy-like facial expression.

Kaoru stood up on the bed and wrapped his arms around Hikaru's shoulders. "Pretty please?"

Hikaru sighed. "Fine, just for tonight." Kaoru cheered and jumped on the bed. "But if you're sleeping in my room, then you can't hog the blankets!"

Kaoru stuck his tongue out. "As long as you don't snore!" Hikaru chuckled, climbing into the bed and turning off the lamp on the nightstand. Kaoru soon had himself wrapped in the comforter like a cocoon. Hikaru, being used to this, took a folded blanket from under the bed and covered himself with it. He then settled himself on the bed, his back up against Kaoru's.

Unfortunately for him, Hikaru would soon realize that he had taken everything about his brother for granted, and that things would never be this perfect again.

-September 20th, 2009 10:35 am-

"Hikaru, how are you feeling?" asked Yuzuha. "Do you need anything?"

Hikaru didn't say anything for a long time. It seemed that, since the previous night, all he could focus on was trying to remember what had happened. It was the strangest thing; he was normally adept at memorizing, but he couldn't remember anything that happened after he ate breakfast that day. Finally, he answered his mother.

"I need to see Kaoru," he said plainly.

"I don't think you're exactly…up to it," she answered carefully.

"Why not?" he demanded, sitting straight up in his hospital bed. His shoulder injury flared in warning, but he did his best to ignore it. After examination, it was a confirmed fractured collarbone and a concussion that ailed him.

"You're not ready to be up and walking around," she said, trying to get him to lie back down.

"My legs are fine," he said impatiently. "I need to see Kaoru. I have to know what happened to him."

"Sweetie," she said gently. "You have to trust the doctor, and he said that you aren't physically ready to leave yet."

Hikaru pouted. "You don't have to keep it a secret. I know you've been to see him in the emergency room."

Yuzuha sighed and stroked his forehead. "That's why I can't let you go."

-July 15th, 2009 3:30 pm-

"Welcome, ladies," said the hosts in unison, standing together in their most recent cosplay decision: traditional Japanese martial arts wear. The Host Club's guests voiced their greetings and eagerly began to file into Music Room #3. Kyoya stood by, directing the girls to the host with whom they'd made an appointment. Two familiar faces entered the club room and Kyoya smiled politely.

"Welcome," he said kindly. "Hikaru and Kaoru are sitting by the window if you'd like to join them."

The two friends, Tori and Ayame, giggled and made a beeline for the twins, who were sitting at a table set for four sipping tea. Hikaru looked up at the two girls and smiled.

"Hello again, girls," he said, putting his cup down. "Please, have a seat." The boys, as if on cue, rose from their seats and pulled out the chairs on the opposite side of the table. The girls giggled again and sat down.

"I love how all the hosts are wearing traditional kamishimo," said Ayame.

"They look especially good on you," said Tori, admiring the twins' matching dark green hakama.

"It was Honey-sempai and Mori-sempai's idea," said Hikaru.

"I had suggested kimonos, but we already did those this year," added Kaoru. "They'd be appropriate, since it's the time for summer festivals."

"I bet the festivals in your neighborhood are wonderful," sighed Tori.

"Perhaps that could be a Host Club event," suggested Ayame. "You know, an evening summer festival."

"Perhaps," said Hikaru. He suddenly cupped his hand under Kaoru's chin. "But I prefer going to festivals with just you, Kaoru."

Kaoru blushed as his brother leaned closer. "You do?"

"Of course," purred Hikaru, giving Kaoru an Eskimo kiss for effect. "I couldn't imagine spending time with anyone else, especially when you're wearing a kimono. You just look so…dashing."

"Hikaru…" whispered Kaoru.

Tori and Ayame hugged each other, squealing. Success, thought Hikaru. He slowly released his grip on Kaoru and returned to his tea.

"You two are too cute!" cooed Ayame, holding her hands to her red cheeks. "Such brotherly love – I can't take it!"

"Ayame, pay attention!" urged Tori. "Before we know it, they could do it again!"

The conversation with the girls continued in a similar manner until their time was up, and they reluctantly told the hosts goodbye.

"We'll be back tomorrow!" they called, waving excitedly behind them. "The usual time, okay?"

The boys smiled and waved back at the girls. As soon as they were out of earshot, Hikaru burst out laughing.

"Man, can you believe how ditzy those two are?" he said as he doubled over. "I mean, all it takes is one little tender moment and they're in hysterics!"

Kaoru frowned. "Be nice, Hikaru – I happen to think they're very lovely. After all, they're our most frequent guests."

"Come now, be serious, Kaoru," said Hikaru. "Sure, they're nice, but you can't deny that they're total airheads."

Haruhi, who'd been taking a tray of coffee to Tamaki's table, paused when she heard the exchange. "Actually, for once I'd have to agree with you," she interjected. "Tori and Ayame are nice and all, but they are a bit giggly."

Hikaru stuck his tongue out at Kaoru. "Ha! I told you!"

Kaoru rolled his eyes and went back to their table to retrieve his tea. "Whatever…" Hikaru didn't think much of this; he assumed that Kaoru was just being moody, as he had done countless times, and would soon get over it and go back to his normal, cheerful self. However, he hadn't counted on Kaoru taking him so seriously. He wouldn't realize until much, much later that his brother had taken his words to heart.

Though it seemed insignificant, it would come back to haunt the boys' relationship.

-September 20th, 2009 12:47 pm-

"He's out of surgery," reported the surgeon outside Hikaru's room. "For the time being, they've moved him to the intensive care unit."

"How is he?" Yuzuha asked, not sure if she wanted to hear the answer or not.

The surgeon sighed. "There's no easy way to tell you this, but you need to know. Kaoru suffered massive intracranial hemorrhage because of the wreck. He shows no signs of feeling any pain as a result of the accident; in fact, he doesn't show response to any of the tests we performed. His muscles do not respond to stimulation and his pupils no longer react to light. We took several MRI scans to be sure, but it's no use; all activity in his brain has ceased."

Yuzuha's heart sank. "Does that mean…my son is…?" She didn't want to finish that painful sentence. The surgeon put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Would you like to see him?" Yuzuha, who had begun crying again, nodded meekly. While she was being led through the busy hospital, everything seemed to move in slow motion. It was as if time itself had slowed down.

Once in the intensive care unit, they went down a long hallway, stopping at room 659. Kaoru's name was written on a small whiteboard on the door. The surgeon opened the door and let Yuzuha in first.

"Oh my God…" Yuzuha inhaled slowly and brought her hands up to her face. She sat down absentmindedly at an armchair placed right next to Kaoru's bed. Tears began to form anew in her eyes, spilling over and dripping onto the fresh white sheets.

Kaoru lay completely still on the bed, aside from the steady, rhythmic rising and falling of his chest. He had two different IVs hooked up: one with a clear liquid, and one with blood. He had a tube coming from his nose, which looked unusually swollen and out of place. A heart monitor announced his every heartbeat, even and constant, with an indifferent tone. Another machine stood by the monitor, and Yuzuha's heart sank when she realized what it was doing.

"The heart does not need instruction from the brain to function normally," said the surgeon. "It does, however, require the presence of oxygen and other chemicals in the blood. Unfortunately, as you can see, Kaoru cannot breathe without help. That's the purpose of the mechanical ventilator. His blood pressure is still pretty low, so we have him on the IV. The other one is dextrose, for hydration purposes. He's also been hooked up to a feeding tube, but inserting the tube was no easy task with his broken nose. As of now, he is on medication to keep up the chemical activity in his blood to keep his heart beating." She paused when she saw Yuzuha looking up with tearful eyes. "I wish that the news could have been better."

"So do I," said Yuzuha. "You have no idea how much I wish that…" She stroked Kaoru's hair with one hand and held his hand with the other. There was no response from him. "If you don't mind, could you…?"

"Say no more," said the surgeon, leaving the room to give the two some privacy.

-July 18th, 2009 4:30 pm-

After a session of entertaining guests, the Host Club members spent idle time in Music Room #3. Kyoya, as always, was crunching numbers on his laptop as Haruhi sat opposite of him doing her homework. Honey sat cross-legged on the floor, thoroughly enjoying a piece of strawberry shortcake while Mori sat, as if keeping a vigil over his cousin.

"C'mon, boss," said Hikaru. "What harm could come from just asking?"

"Yeah, it's not like she doesn't know that you like her," piped Kaoru, always at his brother's side. It seemed that, for the moment, the situation regarding Ayame and Tori was long forgotten.

"Keep your voices down, you parasites!" said Tamaki, his face as red as a ripe tomato. "This happens to be a big deal for me!"

Kaoru put his hand to his chin thoughtfully. "Then again, maybe it was a bad idea to ask her to do all those other things before."

"Yeah, like asking her to do those ridiculous cosplays, buy and make instant coffee for the Host Club, not to mention all the times you asked her out on a date," said Hikaru, mimicking Kaoru's pose. He caught Haruhi's glance from behind Tamaki and smirked.

"This time it's different!" insisted Tamaki, who was unaware that Haruhi was slowly approaching him from behind. "I'm going to invite her to the symphony tomorrow night. A night of beautiful music is sure to make her fall for me!"

The twins exchanged puzzled glances. "But isn't that just like asking her out on a date?" they said in unison.

Tamaki shook his head vigorously and waved his arms. "No, no! I already told you! This time it's different!"

"Doesn't sound different to me, Tamaki-sempai," said Haruhi, giving Tamaki a good scare. "I think I'll pass."

"But why?!" cried Tamaki. "It was supposed to be so perfect! I know that when you hear the romantic music and look into my eyes…"

Haruhi held up her palm. "Save it, Sempai, it's nothing I haven't heard before." Tamaki dramatically fell to his knees, crying out as if Haruhi had stabbed him in the chest rather than refused a date with him. Hikaru and Kaoru shook their heads.

"Unbelievable," said Hikaru.

"You'd think he'd be used to it by now," said Kaoru.

Haruhi sighed. "I'm out of here. I'll see you guys tomorrow."

Everyone said good-bye to Haruhi as she departed, even the newly-rejected Tamaki.

"See you in class tomorrow, Haruhi!" called Hikaru, a genuine smile gracing his lips. Haruhi gave him a smile grin and waved back at him before turning around and walking out the door.

If nothing else, Kaoru was an excellent observer; he noticed traits in people that they themselves often didn't recognize. It was what others considered to be one of the aspects about Kaoru that differentiated him from Hikaru.

And at that very moment, Kaoru caught something in Hikaru's gaze that told a story about him. Perhaps it was the way he smiled at Haruhi, or how his eyes instantly brightened when she smiled back at him.

Whichever it was, Kaoru knew one thing for sure: Hikaru had fallen for Haruhi. And he had fallen hard.

-September 21st, 2009 7:20 pm-

That evening, the Host Club decided to pay a visit to the Hitachiin brothers.

"Hika-chan!" said Honey, jumping up on Hikaru's bed.

"Easy, Mitsukuni," warned Mori. Honey nodded and scooted off the bed, where Haruhi took his spot sitting at the edge.

"Are you in much pain?" she asked.

"Sometimes," Hikaru answered halfheartedly. "The doctor said that my concussion wasn't major. It's mostly just my collarbone. My arm kinda hurts, too."

"Did the doctor tell you anything about the glass?" asked Kyoya. 'Is there anything he can't find out?'

"He told me they're too deep to remove right away. He also said that they can't get the pieces out without possibly damaging tendons," he said. "Said I might always have them there…"

"How are you?" asked Tamaki. "I mean, personally?"

"Okay, I guess," said Hikaru. "I'll feel a lot better once Kaoru's out of intensive care."

An uneasy glance flickered across each host's face. Hikaru, momentarily distracted by a loose bandage on his arm, was none the wiser.

Then came a knock on the door, and Yuzuha let herself in. Everyone voiced their friendly greetings to her, which she regarded with a soft smile. Haruhi politely moved from her spot on the bed to give it to the twins' mother. Yuzuha sat down and brushed Hikaru's hair out of his face.

"Are you okay, sweetie?" she asked softly. Her cheeks were flushed, as if she had been crying.

Hikaru shrugged. "Sure, my head's not hurting much anymore." He hesitated for a moment. "Mother, can I go to see Kaoru yet?"

Yuzuha inhaled sharply, focusing on the hem of his sheets. "I really don't think you're ready, Hikaru."

Hikaru pouted again, something that was becoming more and more common lately. "I hate it when people keep important things from me. Don't I have the right to know what happened to my brother?"

Haruhi sighed gently. "She's right, Hikaru. You could jeopardize your health if you're not careful, so you should take it easy for a few more days."

"What have I been doing the whole damn time I've been here?!" demanded Hikaru. "I've been sitting here in this stupid room for two days! When can I see my brother?"

Yuzuha found herself at a loss for words as two fat tears slid down her cheeks and landed on Hikaru's face. "You don't understand just yet…"

"Then help me understand, Mother," said Hikaru. "Take me to see Kaoru."

Yuzuha looked to the hosts desperately for support. Honey turned tearfully to Mori, who put a comforting hand on the smaller boy's shoulder. Tamaki and Kyoya exchanged concerned glances, while Haruhi looked Yuzuha in the eyes and nodded. Yuzuha, accepting defeat, gently took Hikaru's hand. "Okay, I'll bring you to the intensive care unit tomorrow. Until then, please rest as much as possible, okay?"

Hikaru, who was still sulking, had an air of smug satisfaction about him at this news. "Thank you, Mother."

"We should probably get going," said Kyoya. "Tomorrow's a school day, after all."

"We'll be back to see you again, Hika-chan," said Honey. "Feel better, 'kay?"

The boys all shuffled single-file out of the room while Haruhi remained at Hikaru's bed. "Are you coming, Haruhi?" asked Tamaki.

"I think I'll stick around a little longer," said Haruhi.

"Are you sure?"

Haruhi nodded. "You go ahead; I can walk home from here. I'll see you guys at school tomorrow."

As Tamaki left, Hikaru's demeanor did not change. Even as Haruhi sat close to him, gently edging her hand close to his, he remained, glowering. She placed her hand gently on his unhurt arm.

"Come on, Hikaru, don't be like this," said Haruhi. "You got want you wanted, now at least be happy about it."

"How can I?" he asked. "How can I even think about myself when Kaoru's in intensive care?"

There was a long pause. "So you do care," whispered Haruhi. Hikaru sighed angrily and ignored her.

"Haruhi, if you don't mind, I'd like some time alone," said Hikaru.

"Are you sure?" she asked. "It's no trouble; I finished my chores earlier today and I won't have any trouble catching up on my homework."

"I need to rest," said Hikaru. Judging by his tone of voice, it was a request rather than a mere statement.

"Oh," said Haruhi. "O-okay then, I'll s-see you around." She got up from his bed and slowly left, her eyes never leaving him.

Hikaru sighed. "I'm sorry, Haruhi." He blinked hard a few times, almost choking on rising tears. "I know, I'm acting completely childish right now…I'm just worried, you know?"

Haruhi turned back, standing in the doorway of his room. "I know…look, I'll come by tomorrow if you want. If you need any help for…you know, when you go…I'm here for you."

"Thanks," said Hikaru, staring blankly at the white wall opposite him. With that, Haruhi left the hospital, wiping away two tears that slid down her cheeks and dripped from her chin.

"I hope you can handle it, Hikaru."

-July 19th, 2009 1:04 am-

Hikaru knew something was up as soon as he realized that Kaoru wasn't going to join him in his bed that night. It was so unlike his brother to not make up some silly excuse not to sleep in his room that it had Hikaru concerned.

Maybe he's finally grown out of it, he thought. Yeah, that must be it: he's decided to move on and sleep in his own bed for once. Well, good for him! His own efforts to ease his mind were futile, however. Hikaru could come up with any possible reason he wanted, but it would never stop him from expecting the worst.

Soon, strange feelings began to overcome the elder Hitachiin. He felt strangely sad, as if there were no feeling of hope left in him. His chest pained him slightly. There had only been one other instance in which he felt this way: when Kaoru had been upset after the boys' father had left the family for good about a year ago.

As soon as that thought occurred, Hikaru was out of bed and in his robe, walking down the hallway to Kaoru's bedroom. It wasn't until he was just outside the door that he heard sobbing. Without thinking, he barged in the room, finding Kaoru sitting on the edge of his bed with his face buried in his hands.

"Kaoru, what's wrong?" asked Hikaru, moving swiftly to his brother's side. Instinctively, he put his hand on Kaoru's back, rubbing small circles to help ease the sobs that were shaking his entire body.

"I d-didn't want to w-wake you," said Kaoru between hiccupping cries. "I-I just…"

"Go on, tell me what's going on," said Hikaru softly.

Kaoru breathed deeply a few times before speaking again. "It's Father," he said before bursting into tears again. Hikaru sighed knowingly and moved Kaoru's head onto his shoulder. "I can't b-believe he's g-g-gone…"

"Everything's going to be alright," said Hikaru. "It's been over a year now."

"That doesn't change a-anything!" insisted Kaoru. "It still h-hurts…"

"See how far we've come since them?" asked Hikaru. Kaoru stopped fussing and looked at his brother. "We've been able to get back to normal in such a short time."

"It's still not the same," said Kaoru, who'd appeared to calm down slightly.

"I know," said Hikaru. "But you have to remember what he did, especially how he treated Mother. Seems to me that we're better off, you know?"

Kaoru nodded, leaning contently against Hikaru's shoulder. "You must think I'm the biggest damned crybaby on the planet…"

"Not at all," said Hikaru. "Though you're probably a close second after Tamaki-sempai." Kaoru snorted in laughter, much to Hikaru's relief. Making him smile was the best way to keep him from feeling so upset; Hikaru had done the same thing after the initial shock of their father leaving.

"Want to stay in my room tonight?" asked Hikaru. Kaoru nodded again, and the two boys walked arm-in-arm back down the hallway.

"There was no way you could've heard me through the walls," commented Kaoru. "How'd you do it?"

"I dunno, twin telepathy?" laughed Hikaru. "No more crying in secret, got it? I don't want to find out like this again."

"Yeah, alright," said Kaoru, who was clearly embarrassed. Hikaru grinned and cuffed Kaoru's shoulder before relinking arms with him.

"We're going to be alright," he said. "As long as we have each other, we're going to be alright."

-September 22nd, 2009 4:15 pm-

Surprisingly, Hikaru opted not to make the trip to intensive care with his mother. Of course, he still had every intention of going, but he didn't want to put Yuzuha through that. Contrary to popular belief, Hikaru was not so selfish and immature that he didn't care about those close to him. He'd seen how she'd come back after visiting Kaoru: face streaked with tears, eyes bloodshot, and nose red and raw from all the tissues she'd had to use. She'd literally been awake since they were admitted to the hospital, constantly rushing back and forth between Hikaru and Kaoru, occasionally dozing in the chair in Hikaru's room.

Haruhi, as she promised, arrived as soon as she could. All Host Club activities had been canceled until further notice in light of the Hitachiin twins' accident, so she was able to come earlier. In the hospital room, Hikaru lay in his bed twiddling his thumbs as Yuzuha sat with a ghostly look about her. When Haruhi had first walked in, he'd make sure to voice his concerns about his mother in a discreet manner to her. She nodded and stood by Yuzuha, kneeling at the arm of the chair.

"Mrs. Hitachiin, why don't you go home and rest?" said Haruhi politely. "Losing so much sleep isn't good for you."

"I don't know if I could rest once I got there," said Yuzuha, yawning. "Anything could happen, and I want to be around if..."

Haruhi put a hand on her shoulder. "I'll keep Hikaru company if you like. I can call you to keep you updated on everything."

"Oh, I couldn't let you give up your time," said Yuzuha. "You've probably got so many other things you could be doing instead."

"I insist," said Haruhi. "Don't worry about me; my dad knows what's been going on and can take care of the chores, and I can do my homework here while staying with Hikaru. It's no trouble at all."

Yuzuha smiled weakly. "You're a great friend, Ms. Fujioka. Everything Hikaru told me about you is absolutely true." She stood up, swaying slightly, and went down to the lobby to call one of the staff at their residence to come pick her up. Haruhi, feeling satisfied, pulled the sheets off of Hikaru and began to help him stand.

"You're still taking me?" asked Hikaru.

"I said I'd come, didn't I?" said Haruhi, being wary of Hikaru's sling as she helped him stand. He stood on weak legs, supporting himself on Haruhi's shoulder with his good arm.

"By the way, what was that?" he asked as they walked down the hall toward the elevator.

"Hm?"

"You know, when you were telling my mother to get some rest," said Hikaru. "Since when are you so polite?"

Haruhi's passive gaze didn't move as she answered him. "I know what it's like to spend days upon days in a hospital, waiting on someone to get better who won't."

Hikaru was struck silent. Shit, that's right… "I'm sorry, I didn't realize."

"I know, it's okay. Besides, she looked terrible. Did you see how dark the circles under her eyes were?"

Hikaru didn't answer because he honestly hadn't noticed. He stood by the wall as Haruhi pressed the up button on the elevator, taking her shoulder again when the reflective doors parted.

"So what've you been telling her about me?"

"What?!"

"She gave away your secret," said Haruhi, breaking her solemn attitude to grin at him. "What've you been saying?"

Hikaru scowled and looked the other way. "I dunno, stuff I guess."

"Must've been good stuff for her to be so happy about it," said Haruhi, laughing at Hikaru's pouting face. The elevator doors opened, revealing a bustling ICU. Just like that, Haruhi's grin faded and Hikaru suddenly became tense.

"What's the matter?" asked Haruhi, feeling his body stiffen against her.

"I…I can't feel anything," he said absently.

"You can't feel what?"

"I can't feel it. Not a sign," said Hikaru, beginning to panic. "Where's Kaoru's room?"

"Um, down this hallway. He's in room 659." Hikaru all but dragged Haruhi down the hall, not even slightly yielding to other patients being escorted in gurneys or wheelchairs by medical staff. As soon as he saw the whiteboard with his brother's name on written on it, he tried to open the door himself, disturbing the shrapnel in his arm. Before he could possibly bring more harm upon himself, Haruhi swiftly turned the doorknob. Hikaru pushed the door open with his bodyweight.

"Excuse me, you aren't allowed in…" The surgeon stopped mid-sentence as soon as she realized that this intruder was identical to the patient for whom she was writing a report. She stood up wordlessly, moving to one side of the bed so Hikaru could get through to see the one person he couldn't stop thinking about since he found out about the accident.

"My God…" Hikaru stood, staring at Kaoru lying lifelessly on the hospital bed. He wasted no time in sitting on the edge of the bed, taking Kaoru's hand. "Kaoru, it's me. Can you hear me?" There was no response, not even the slightest muscular twitch.

"I'm afraid your brother can't answer you," said the surgeon. She didn't want to have to be the one to bear the sad news a second time, but now it seemed that she had no other choice.

"What're you talking about? Kaoru's fine, he's just resting. Right? Look, he's still breathing! That's good, yeah? Haruhi, isn't that good?" Hikaru looked expectantly up at her, only to see her rapidly blink tears away and turn her face away from him.

"He may appear to be in a coma, but that isn't the case," said the surgeon. "I'm afraid that Kaoru's no longer with us."

"That can't be true! He's breathing, he's got a pulse! Listen to it!"

"His body is here, but he is not."

"You're lying!"

"Hikaru, stop it!" said Haruhi.

"I won't! Not as long as this quack is telling me that Kaoru's not alive! That's a lie!"

"Kaoru sustained a massive head injury as a result of the accident, along with major spinal damage" said the surgeon, stopping Hikaru's confused raving. "He was pronounced brain-dead the day he arrived."

"It can't be," said Hikaru. "He can't be dead, he just can't…"

Haruhi put a hand on his arm for comfort only to have it shoved away. He stood up and over Kaoru's body, taking it by the shoulders and shaking as hard as he could.

"C'mon, Kaoru!" he said shakily, completely ignoring his collarbone. "Show them you're okay. I know you are. You have to be…" He grew more and more aggressive in his shaking Kaoru.

"Hikaru, let go of him!" Haruhi touched his arm again. Hikaru spun around to face her, his eyes wild. He no longer looked like himself, let alone acted like himself.

"Don't touch me!" he said menacingly. "Don't fucking touch me!" He went back to trying to wake up his brother, shaking more and more vigorously.

"Stop it, Hikaru!" cried Haruhi, throwing her arms around him from behind. Hikaru snarled when she came into contact with his broken collarbone. He clawed at Kaoru's bed, hanging onto the edge of the sheets for dear life. The surgeon pressed the emergency button on the wall, immediately calling for a team of medical staff to come in. They arrived immediately, one carrying a syringe filled with a strong sedative. Hikaru finally managed to throw Haruhi off of him, but now he faced a new challenge.

"Stay away from me!" He held his arms out as if he were guarding Kaoru from them. The largest ones in the group went to work, holding him still, paying no mind to his injuries. One of them took his good arm and held it out with the wrist facing up. The doctor carrying the sedative skillfully plunged the needle of the syringe into his exposed wrist, hitting the vein precisely and injecting him with the substance. Hikaru fought his heart out, struggling like a fish on a hook under the medics. However, soon he found himself growing weaker and weaker, the room becoming darker. As the sedative kicked in, Hikaru drifted into a dreamless, medically-induced sleep.

"Kaoru…"

-August 29th, 2009 8:47 pm-

"Hikaru, get off me!" said Kaoru through involuntary giggles.

"Not until you cheer up!" Hikaru had his younger brother pinned down, holding Kaoru's arms down with his knees on the floor of his bedroom, tickling his sides without mercy.

"I don't think I-I could be much more cheerful than th-this!" Tears of laughter were already running down his face. "Have mercy!"

Hikaru paused, allowing Kaoru to catch his breath. "Feeling better?"

"Not really – wait no! Stop!" Hikaru gave Kaoru's sides a few gentle prods, reviving his girlish laughter. "Okay, okay! I'm feeling better, I promise!"

"That's more like it!" said Hikaru, freeing Kaoru from his restraints and letting him roll over, gasping for breath. "That's what you get for being a downer!"

Kaoru glared at Hikaru. "That's hardly fair. You aren't even ticklish!"

Hikaru smirked and shrugged. "Not my problem, Kaoru! I can't help that I'm invincible!"

"In your dreams," mumbled Kaoru.

"Now are you going to tell me why you've been so miserable lately?"

Kaoru focused his stony gaze on the floor as he sat upright. "You already know, you didn't have to torture me for it."

"What, is this about Father again?" asked Hikaru. "I thought you got that out of your system the other night."

"That's not something you just get over in one night!" snapped Kaoru.

"It's been over a year! And you were crying over it a few weeks ago!" Hikaru was shocked; Kaoru had never been so short with him before.

"Unlike you, I actually care about other people besides myself," said Kaoru.

"Hey, you're forgetting our roles, here," said Hikaru jokingly. "I'm supposed to be the one who gets all pissy about everything, and you're the voice of reason." Kaoru's expression clearly showed that he was not amused. "Come on, I'm trying to help you feel better. I know I can't bring Father back, but I can make you smile again. Buck up, mister!" A cheeky grin spread across his face. "Unless you want me to tickle you again."

Kaoru's arms flew down, defending his sides. "You touch me, I'll kill you – no, no more!" His pleas fell on deaf ears as Hikaru easily pried Kaoru's right arm away from his body and started poking his ribs.

"H-Hikaru! I swear I'll kill you!" Kaoru's hollow threats were drowned out by his giggling.

"You know, the more you threaten me, the less I believe you," laughed Hikaru, thoroughly enjoying his brother's helpless laughter.

"Well what if I t-told Haruhi that you like her?!"

Hikaru suddenly stopped his attack on Kaoru, scooting himself on the floor next to the bed. Kaoru caught his breath for a moment before giving Hikaru a puzzled look.

"Ooh, did I hit a nerve?" asked Kaoru, a sly glint in his amber eyes.

"Tch, what're you talking about?" said Hikaru defensively.

"Come on, Hikaru, I'm not the only one who can tell that you've fallen head over heels for her," said Kaoru.

"I have not!" declared Hikaru, pounding his fist on the bedpost. "What would give you such a stupid idea?!"

"I can just tell," said Kaoru. "I know you better than anyone else on this planet. Besides, it's no big mystery, I can assure you."

Hikaru folded his arms across his chest defiantly. "Self-righteous ass…"

Kaoru shook his head in disbelief. "Is this really such a bad thing? You're acting like a child over nothing."

Hikaru didn't say anything; instead, he stalked over to the door and flung it open. "Get out. Now."

Kaoru picked himself up and walked out the door with and air of self-satisfied fulfillment about him. Hikaru slammed the door as soon as his brother was in the hall.

"You can't keep denying your feelings! It isn't healthy!" called Kaoru from the other side of the door. Hikaru ignored him, storming over to his desk to put on his headphones.

Sometimes, I wish you weren't so damn helpful, thought Hikaru. I don't need your advice, nor do I want it, jackass.

Meanwhile, Kaoru was in his own bedroom, feeling somewhat guilty for making Hikaru so angry. I really should know better than to push his buttons like that, but it's high time he got over himself and started acting his age. He's my brother and I love him, but he needs to grow up.

As it would turn out, immaturity would be Kaoru's, not Hikaru's, downfall.

-September 22nd, 2009 5:38 pm-

"Mrs. Hitachiin, I'm so sorry," said Haruhi, tears flowing freely down her cheeks. "I didn't think he'd react this way. He said he could handle it…"

"I knew he couldn't," said Yuzuha quietly, observing her soundly-sleeping son. Even in his sedated state, Hikaru's fists were still balled and his brow furrowed. "But I know he thought he could. I don't blame you, dear." She ran her knuckles softly across Haruhi's tear-stained cheek. "In a way, I'm grateful that you were the one who went with him. You handled it so well; I can barely bring myself to look at Kaoru in this state; seeing Hikaru's…outburst would've been too much for me."

Haruhi stared at the floor. "God only knows what'll happen when he wakes up…"

"Whatever happens happens," said Yuzuha. "Ms. Fujioka, I have a favor to ask of you."

"Yes?"

"I'd like for you to assemble the hosts here tomorrow morning," said Yuzuha. "As you already know, Kaoru was pronounced dead two days ago. We're going to take him off life support in the morning. I thought you and the others would like to say your final good-byes, since you all were his closest friends…" Her voice caught as tears filled her eyes.

"I'll tell them all as soon as possible," said Haruhi. "But, what about…" She glanced at Hikaru, who still lay unconscious under the white sheets of his hospital bed.

"I think it's best that he stay here," said Yuzuha. "As much as it pains me, he's not emotionally ready for this."

Haruhi sighed and absently-mindedly smoothed the wrinkles in the sheet. "This is bringing back so many bad memories. I never thought I would have to say my final goodbyes to someone leaving before their time again…"

Yuzuha, though she knew almost nothing about Haruhi's past, wrapped her arm around the younger girl's shoulder. Haruhi leaned her head on Yuzuha's shoulder; she started to lose her composure again, but she didn't care anymore. This time, someone was crying with her.

The two simply stood there for a long time, crying on each other's shoulders.

-September 15th, 2009 3:15 pm-

Tori and Ayame giggled as Hikaru recounted one of his amusing tales about Kaoru, as the boys had done countless times before. However, while Kaoru seemed to be going along with the gimmick as usual, he was actually angry at Hikaru this time.

"So there he was, squirming and laughing like a little girl," said Hikaru, laughing with the two girls. Kaoru scowled at his brother, his arms folded tightly across his chest.

"Oh, that's so cute!" said Ayame.

"If only we could've seen that," said Tori, glancing hopefully at the sulking boy.

Hikaru turned toward Kaoru, leaning in close to the other boy's face. "As much as I'd love to show the world how cute you are, I couldn't bear to do it; I'm the only one who's ever seen you like that, and I want it to stay that way."

"Bullshit," snapped Kaoru, catching Hikaru off guard. Tori and Ayame gasped loudly and simultaneously clapped their hands over their mouths.

Hikaru chuckled anxiously. "Trying to be the tough twin, eh?"

"Blow it out your ass, Hikaru," grumbled Kaoru, making the girls gasp again.

Hikaru smiled sweetly at their guests. "Would you ladies please excuse us for a moment?" He grabbed Kaoru by his lapel and dragged him away from the table. "Do you mind telling me what the hell that was?"

"That story's embarrassing! And we never rehearsed that one, I didn't get a vote!"

"It's what the guests like, I don't decide these things!" Hikaru glanced around; a few heads had turned when he'd pulled Kaoru aside. He hadn't thought about it, so now the boys were standing in the middle of Music Room #3 with a growing number of eyes on them.

"Don't give me that shit, Hikaru!" yelled Kaoru. "You knew damn well what you were doing; you just get your kicks by embarrassing me in front of our guests!"

"Kaoru, maybe we should take this somewhere else," whispered Hikaru. At least half the guests in the room were now intently watching the scene.

"What, am I embarrassing you?" Kaoru hissed. He raised his arms up and pointed at his brother. "Hey guys, check out the hypocrite standing in the middle of the room!"

Every single eye was on Hikaru, whose face was as red as the rose Tamaki had been giving to his guest before the commotion broke out. In dead silence, the Host Club president stood up and approached the twins.

"Hikaru, Kaoru," said Tamaki gravely. "Do we have a problem?"

"No, no, everything's…"

"The only problem here is him!" declared Kaoru. "He's a childish prick who only cares about himself!"

"Boys, if you can't resolve your problems now, I'm going to have to dismiss you both," said Tamaki.

"It's okay, we'll leave now," said Hikaru hurriedly, pulling Kaoru by his forearm. Once they were in the hallway, Hikaru smacked Kaoru across his face.

"You idiot! Do you have any idea how this is going to affect our jobs as hosts?!"

Kaoru's brow furrowed and he cradled his cheek. "You started it! You start everything! All you ever do is make me look like a fool in front of the guests!"

"It's part of our act!" said Hikaru, his hands flying up in exasperation. "We both agreed that I would be the Seme and you would be the Uke. That means you just sit there and be cute while I do most of the talking!"

Kaoru groaned at full volume. "Maybe I'm sick of our act!"

"Oh really?"

"Yeah, maybe I'm sick of you being an inconsiderate dick all the time! Have you considered that? I was upset and you didn't give two shits!"

Hikaru rubbed his temples. "I can't deal with you when you're like this!" He whipped out his cell phone and called the Hitachiin household. As it was ringing, he stormed down the hallway, out of earshot from his brother. When someone picked up, he requested a car be brought to come get him from the school, which he was promised would arrive within a few moments.

Why did I have to have such an ass as a brother? Hikaru thought about this as he climbed into the back of the limousine that had been sent. Too bad he was too busy sulking to realize that he'd left his "ass" of a brother at the school, without a ride home.

-September 30th, 2009 7:36 pm-

It had been a little less than a week since Kaoru had been taken off life support. All the hosts had been present to say their tearful goodbyes. All of them, of course, except for Hikaru.

A small, closed-casket memorial service was held in Kaoru's honor at the Hitachiin Manor a week after Hikaru was discharged from the hospital, with only family and close friends in attendance. Once again, Hikaru had not attended.

Not that it mattered to him; he now spent most of his time in his bedroom, staring into nothingness. He hadn't attended school since he had checked out of the hospital, partly because of his injuries, partly because he refused to leave the house.

He certainly wasn't lonely; Haruhi would visit him every day after school. She would make instant coffee in their kitchen and share it with him. Some days, she would even hold his hand and try to get him to talk. Her efforts were in vain, however, as Hikaru remained static in his demeanor.

"So my dad came in from work the other night with something you won't believe," said Haruhi, chuckling lightly in an attempt to lighten the mood. She stopped dead with her story when she realized that Hikaru's expression hadn't changed at all.

"Hikaru, is there anything you want to talk about?" asked Haruhi. She decided that the indirect approach was getting him nowhere.

"What's there to talk about?" mumbled Hikaru. "My brother's dead and that's that."

"But how does that make you feel?" asked Haruhi. "It isn't healthy to keep your feelings bottled up."

"How do you think it makes me feel, Haruhi?" snapped Hikaru. "Kaoru was my best friend! And now that he's gone, my mother's a wreck!"

"She is not…"

"All she does is walk around the house like a fucking zombie! Sometimes, I can hear her crying at night, saying Kaoru's name…she's hardly my mother anymore!"

Haruhi looked at the floor. "I understand what you're going through."

"You have no goddamned idea, Haruhi!" snarled Hikaru.

"Really? You're going to go there right now?" Haruhi was fed up. "I lost my mother when I was a little kid! I didn't sit in my room and pout; I had to take on all the responsibilities! I wasn't a spoiled brat who had a houseful of servants waiting to do my bidding at any time!" She stopped herself before the tears could start sliding down her cheeks.

Hikaru was stunned silent by her unexpected outburst. He didn't say anything until a maid brought in a garment bag.

"By your mother's request, you are to attend school in a few more days," she said. "Your school uniform has been dry-cleaned. Unfortunately, the pants and shirt had to be replaced after the originals were cut off of you, but the jacket is still very much intact. I'll leave it on the coatrack for you, sir. Please try it on to make sure it fits."

Hikaru nodded, waving his hand toward the door to dismiss her. Haruhi absentmindedly walked over to the garment bag and began to unzip it to examine the uniform.

"I can't believe she's making me go back," grumbled Hikaru.

"Well, you can't just stay here forever," said Haruhi. She took the uniform out of the bag and held it up. "There has to be some point where you begin the road to recovery."

"Yeah, that'd be the day," said Hikaru with a roll of his amber eyes.

"If you'd stop repressing your feelings, you could do it," said Haruhi. "Wow, they really did a top-notch job cleaning this jacket!"

Hikaru cocked his head to one side. "What do you mean?"

"Didn't you hear what the maid said?" asked Haruhi. "This is the same jacket you were wearing…the day it happened…"

Without warning, Hikaru stood up and approached the girl holding the outfit. He examined the periwinkle jacket, noting places where he distinctly remembered blood had been splattered. The sturdy material was spotless.

"Are you alright?" asked Haruhi, holding the uniform lower. Hikaru took the hanger from her and held it closer to himself. "Hikaru, you're scaring me."

"Just give me a minute!" He ran his hands all along the article of clothing. When his hand hit a lump in the pocket of the jacket, he stopped dead, wide-eyed. Slowly, he reached into the pocket and pulled out a balled-up piece of paper, ruined after going through the dry-cleaning.

"Hikaru, what's that?"

He didn't answer her.

Because he knew exactly what this bit of paper was. With that, the memories of that day hit him like a ton of bricks.

-September 19th, 2009 7:26 am-

Kaoru was being absolutely insufferable.

Hikaru hadn't even done anything to intentionally set him off, but there it was: a huge mess of Hikaru's schoolbooks and homework scattered on his bedroom floor. Hikaru rubbed his temples and tried to regain his composure. He may have been the type to lose his temper quickly, but Kaoru normally operated on a long fuse; it took a lot to make him angry, and his breaking point was, apparently, seeing his brother accidentally rumple the cover page of his world history report.

"I'll just print you off another one!" Hikaru said when Kaoru confronted him about it. "It'll take five minutes, can you wait that long?!"

"No, I'm doing it myself!" said Kaoru. "I worked too hard on this report to have you ruin it! I need to get a good grade, and I know I won't if you do anything else to 'help' me!"

"Kaoru, be reasonable…"

"No! Just keep your hands away from my things!" It was at that precise moment that Kaoru had turned toward Hikaru's desk and swept all of its contents onto the floor. "Get your things. We're going to be late for school."

Hikaru gathered his wits and carefully organized his papers; his statistics homework, articles for foreign language class, and his own world history report were soon neatly together and in their corresponding folders. His textbooks were, surprisingly, still in excellent condition considering the way they skittered wide open across the floor after their plunge.

Kaoru would surely get over his little tantrum soon and the brothers would walk into school together, arms around each other's shoulders, like they did every day. Hikaru had decided this after gathering his schoolwork and walking out the front door to the vehicle that would take them to school. He slid into the car backward, pulling his bag in with him and not bothering to buckle his seatbelt. Kaoru was already sitting on the opposite side, refusing to look at his twin.

"Kaoru, I'm sorry," said Hikaru gruffly.

"Don't be," said Kaoru, staring out the window.

"Gentlemen are you ready?" asked Mr. Namikawa from the front seat.

"Yes sir," said Kaoru. "The sooner we get to school, the better," he mumbled.

Hikaru snorted. Kaoru was acting like a child, a foil to his normal, more mature personality. Why is he overreacting over something like this? I know he's been especially pissy lately and I know he needs the grade to even get an above-average mark on the next report card, but what difference does a wrinkled cover sheet make?

Hikaru reached into his bag and took out the articles he had been assigned to translate and read for his foreign language class and began going over them. He read his Japanese translation under his breath, double-checking the English article to make sure he didn't miss anything.

"Do you mind?" said Kaoru. "I can't hear myself think."

"You're not the only one who needs a good grade," muttered Hikaru. This was his fatal mistake.

Kaoru reached over, grabbed his brother's translation, wadded it up, and threw the paper ball back at him. "There, now we're even."

"Kaoru, you're making an ass out of yourself," Hikaru told him. "Just calm down." That was the last straw for Kaoru; he quickly undid his seat belt and threw himself at Hikaru, aiming to wring his throat. Hikaru, being slightly stronger than his brother, threw Kaoru off with ease.

"What's with you today?!" he demanded. "You're acting like such a…such…"

"Go ahead! Finish your sentence!" dared Kaoru. "Such a what?!"

Hikaru sighed in exasperation, stuffed the paper wad into his pocket, and slouched in his seat with his arms crossed. "I really hate you sometimes, you know that?" said Kaoru, glowering out the window.

"I hate you too!" said Hikaru. "You make me wish I were an only child!"

After that, the remainder of that fateful car ride was silent. Hikaru spent what time he had left rewriting his translation on a fresh sheet of paper while Kaoru fiddled with his flash drive, which he would use to print another cover sheet before his world history class. Hikaru's gaze shifted to his brother momentarily before he defiantly turned toward the window of the vehicle.

It was 8:03 am. That was the exact moment he saw the minivan barreling toward their car.

In a heartbeat, Hikaru had scooted himself to the middle seat.

"Hikaru, get off!"

"Look out!"

Mr. Namikawa laid on the horn. The other driver slammed their brakes at the last second.

But it was too late. The SUV hit the car at ninety-two kilometers per hour, right where Hikaru had been sitting before. His lack of a seatbelt was a horrible mistake as the force of the collision sent him flying sideways into Kaoru. The side of Hikaru's head knocked into Kaoru's, slamming the younger twin's head into the window. Hikaru's body also struck Kaoru's, forcing him against the door. There was a sickening crack of bones as Hikaru's collarbone was broken.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion; Hikaru saw every horrifying moment from start to finish. As soon as they came to a complete stop, he looked at himself; he was covered in deep cuts from head to toe and there was glass sticking out of his arm. His collarbone was sending sharp pains throughout his entire body.

Then he looked at Kaoru.

He was leaning against the car door, his head partially out of the broken window.

"Kaoru, are you okay? Answer me!" Hikaru reached toward him, ignoring the pain was throbbing through his body. He pulled his limp body from the window and got a look at his face.

His eyes were wrenched open, frozen in an expression of unadulterated fear. He too was covered in cuts from the shards of glass that had been sent flying when the two vehicles collided. His nose was bent out of place and gushing with blood.

"No…no!" Everything started to fade, the world seemed to spin. Hikaru was unconscious before he even hit the floor of the car.

-September 30th, 2009 7:55 pm-

"Haruhi, I…I killed him!"

Haruhi just stared at him. "What are you talking about?"

Hikaru began to hyperventilate. "I remember everything. I'm the one who pushed him into the window. His head broke the glass. I killed Kaoru, don't you get it?!"

"Hikaru, that wasn't your fault!" Haruhi put both of her hands on his shoulders, being wary of his collarbone.

"Whose fault was it, then?!" His face was beginning to crumple. "His life could've been spared! It hit my side of the car; I'm the one who should've died!"

Haruhi took him into her arms. "Don't say that; there was nothing you could've done to save him. It's not your fault…"

"He was always the nice one, so why'd he have to be the one to die in such a horrible way?!" He was slowly losing composure. "I'm an absolute asshole, it should've been me!"

"No you aren't…"

"Yes I am, Haruhi, why can't you see that?! Kaoru and I had the dumbest fight before he died, and I never told him I was sorry! I've treated everyone so horribly since that fucking accident; I'm the one who deserves to die!"

Nothing Haruhi could've said would've calmed him down or changed his mind. Instead, she just held him, letting him lean his head on her shoulder.

For the first time since the accident, Hikaru cried in mourning of his lost brother.

-September 19th, 2010 8:03 am-

Kaoru,

There are a million things I wish I could tell you.

I'd love to be able to tell you about school for the past year. Boss re-opened the Host Club after New Year's this year, and unveiled a memorial in the club room in your honor. I'd say that's just about the smartest thing he's ever done. Tori and Ayame still frequent the club; they always pay their respects to you before coming to visit me.

My recovery was not an easy one; once I remembered what happened in the car, I didn't leave the house for at least two months. Haruhi would visit me every day. She was a great part of my recovery; in fact, just three months ago, I invited her over for dinner at the house to meet our family. It was there that I asked her to be my girlfriend. I never would've realized that I liked her if it weren't for you, so I wanted to thank you for that.

Mother's also made great strides in her own recovery; seeing the progress I had made thanks to Haruhi helped her along. She's returned to designing clothes, and has even started a clothing line in your memory. All the proceeds go to national organizations that promote safe driving. Oh, and Mr. Namikawa is doing fine; he returned to work for us as soon as I started school again.

As for the other driver involved in the accident, he is now facing a life sentence on the charges of reckless driving and second-degree murder. We didn't sue him; we thought that you wouldn't want to punish the man any more than necessary. He gave us a formal apology in his trial. I'll admit to holding a grudge against him, even though I know you wouldn't want me to. I promise I'll find it in my heart to forgive him one day, just for you.

About two months after the accident, I got a surprise call from Father. He had heard about what happened and wanted to give his condolences. We've spoken over the phone every weekend since. I hate that it took something like this to get him to talk to us again, but I can safely say that it's the only remotely good thing to come from it. But if I could choose between a better relationship with Father and having you back, I'd choose the latter.

I'm writing you this letter to apologize. I'm so sorry I was so self-centered all the time. I'm sorry for rumpling your cover sheet. That fight we had ruined the last moments we shared and I'll regret it for the rest of my life. If I could, I would go back and change everything about that day. If it were up to me, you'd still be with me. Of course that's impossible now.

As you know well, we were born identical twins. Until recently, I thought that meant we only looked alike. Before we were born, we came from the same egg cell and split into two individuals. We share identical genetic material. When I learned this, I realized that half of me is now gone. Without you, I am half a person. While at first I found this incredibly depressing, I've come to terms with it because I decided that maybe someday we'll meet again. I hope and pray for that every single day.

From this horrific event, I've learned to cherish every passing moment with the ones I love. I wish I had done so before you died; I wasted our remaining time together, and I don't intend to let that happen again. In the blink of an eye, everything can change for better or for worse, and I don't want to miss even just a second more of this life. I miss you, Kaoru.

Hikaru

Hikaru read his letter again. By that point, he already knew it by heart. Sealing the envelope, he placed the letter against the urn of roses by Kaoru's headstone.

"My stubborn little brother," said Hikaru, smiling fondly. A single tear slid down his face and dripped onto the mound of disturbed earth where Kaoru was buried. If he thought about it enough, it was almost like Kaoru was back with him.

With one last glance, Hikaru turned and walked slowly toward the vehicle where Haruhi was waiting for him, smiling proudly at her boyfriend. "He would've loved this," said Haruhi, planting a kiss on his cheek.

"I know he does," said Hikaru. He glanced back toward Kaoru's headstone.

You know I love you, my little brother.

-Fin-


Hope you enjoyed my magnum opus! I recently updated a few grammar and spelling errors, as well as changed a little dialogue. Enjoy Blink 2.0, leave a review!

-H. H.