"Are you sure?"
"Hai, nee-san. Nii-san only leaves his room to go to work at the University, when he comes home he crawls into bed! He doesn't eat when he goes out, and I can barely get even a glass of water in him! I don't know what to do!" The young girl started to sniffle, tears welling in her eyes.
"Shhh, calm down. I'll be there in an hour with dinner for you both, ok? Don't cry, nee-san will fix everything."
Sniffle. "You promise?"
"You shouldn't question your nee-san," the gentle voice chided softly, bringing a smile to the tear-stricken face. "Now go wash up, I'll be there soon with some stew and stuffed rice balls."
"Hai, nee-san. I love you."
"I love you more, little bit."
A woman in her mid-20's pressed the end button on her sleek, silver smartphone, her amber eyes full of trouble. She had felt something was wrong, but until her little sister called, she had no idea to what extent her younger brother had slipped into depression. She hastily finished her tea and grabbed her purse, tossing the paper cup in the trash.
Whatever had happened to make her nii-chan act this way, she would find out.
"Arigato gozaimasu, Nee-san!" Kanako's dark eyes filled with wonder at the feast her older sister had just lay before her. "All of Nii-san's favorites, he'll eat for sure!"
"I'll make sure of it, little bit." The older woman ruffled her little sister's hair affectionately. Whereas she and her next younger brother had the same silvery hair and startling amber eyes, Tomoe and their younger sister had the same dark auburn hair and deep brown eyes. If you looked at them, they didn't look anything alike. People rarely believed they were related, much less siblings.
Kyoko Tatsumi hummed as she prepared a tray for her nii-chan. He had been through a lot, ever since he started University. She narrowed her eyes as she remembered the call from the police station, his voice softly begging her to take him away. That bastard professor wouldn't be getting out of jail for a long time. The trial had been traumatic, as he had to admit to not being strong enough to defend himself against an older man. From that day on, he hated all homosexuals, and even shunned their younger brother Tomoe to an extent because of his lover.
Kyoko sighed. Now wasn't the time to reflect on all the bad things. She picked up the tray, filled to the brim with the steaming, homemade food she picked up from the mom and pop store down the street, and walked up the stairs. She didn't bother knocking as she opened the door, not surprised to see all the lights off and the blinds shut. She set the tray down on the end table and flipped on the lights, causing a large lump under the white comforter to moan.
"Go away," a muffled voice snarled from under a pillow.
"No way, Souichi." She swept her silver hair off her shoulder as her brother sat straight up at the sound of her voice. "Now, what is this I hear about you moping around and not eating?"
"I'm not moping!" he replied hotly, a blush staining his cheeks and nose. "And I'm eating just fine."
"No? Nee-chan had to call me today, she was so sick with worry! And for someone who prides himself on considering his family first, I haven't heard from you in over two weeks. Something is wrong, Souichi, and I'm not leaving until you tell me what and eat something, not necessarily in that order."
"I'm not a child, Nee-san!"
"Then stop acting like one, baka!"
"MORINAGA'S THE BAKA! HE LEFT ME!" Tears filled Souichi's eyes and ran down his cheeks, unnoticed by
His declaration hung in the air, ringing in both of their ears. Souichi's flush deepened as he looked away, stammering. "What I mean is... I-"
"I see." Kyoko's voice, before shrill and threatening, softened to its usual serene tone. "Morinaga, your lab assistant? He left two weeks ago, when this all started, didn't he?"
"I never want to see his face again!" Souichi growled, oblivious to the tears running down his face. "He's a- a stupid homo, and I don't need him!"
"Now that's enough," Kyoko snapped, crossing her arms. "I know what happened with your professor scarred you badly, but these slurs have to stop. For Kami's sake, your own flesh and blood is in love with another man!"
"He's just confus-"
"I'm not finished!" The cold tone of her voice used to make him practically wet his pants when she baby-sat and he disobeyed her. He swallowed now, still not over that childish fear of his older sister. "You've blamed every gay man for the wrong done to you, Souichi. I was there, I know how scared and hurt you were, but to assume that every gay man is like that bastard is doing a disservice to a lot of nice people in the world. Didn't Morinaga confess he was gay, as well? And yet you didn't kick him out of your lab; he proved himself to you." Souichi didn't replay, just kept trying to swallow down the tears that had been coming almost daily since Morinaga disappeared.
"It seems to me, nii-chan, that you're much more torn over Morinaga's disappearance than you want to let on. Why did he leave?"
Souichi didn't want to tell her what happened that night, about the drugged wine and having sex with Morinaga. But who else could he tell? He had kept it bottled inside, and now he felt like he might explode from the pain in his chest that had been steadily growing since his lab assistant had vanished. So, he told Kyoko about Morinaga's confession a year ago, the phone call with Tomoe, Morinaga offering to drink with him, the effects of the drug, everything. She sat through his story, nodding in some places, narrowing her eyes in others.
"Hmm... I don't think Morinaga really intended to use that wine on you, nii-chan. I think he was going to use on himself with another lover. Its a weird new thing these days, but some people like it."
"Who the hell else would he use it with?" Souichi grumbled, his entire face bright red at his nee-chan's candidness. Then he thought about her words and quickly exploded. "That bastard was going to sleep with someone else? I'll kill him!"
"Well, that settles it for me," Kyoko grinned. "You love him." Those words succeeded in deflating the sputtering Souichi, who simply sat in stunned silence. Do I love Morinaga? No way, I'm not some filthy fag! But... these past two weeks have been hell without him; I've never felt so empty, so alone.
"Why do you think you tolerated him so much, even knowing he loved you?"
Even when Morinaga was being stupid, I always secretly enjoyed his attentions. When he confessed that he loved me, I felt so confused. Confused, because I thought I would be beating him to an inch of his life for daring to put me in the same category as a homosexual, but his confession didn't bother me at all. In a weird way, I was... flattered.
"Why has him leaving your side torn you apart so much?"
Morinaga never missed a day of work. I always thought it was simply because he was dedicated, but every time he would see me in the mornings, something behind his olive green eyes would light up. I always pretended not to notice, pretended that his warm smile in the morning didn't leave something light and warm in my chest.
"I'll leave you to your food. Make sure you eat something before you head out." Kyoko stroked his hair and kissed his forehead, like she used to do when she was small. He didn't bother asking how she knew he would leave again. She always knew.
Warm, moist breath puffed against the nape of Souichi's neck, making him bite his lip. He still couldn't believe that he had let Morinaga have him, AGAIN. His mind was fighting it, but his body and his heart, they crumbled under his touch so quickly he swore he had whiplash. He was embarrassed at how easily Morinaga had bent him to his will, whispering beautiful, dirty things in his ear. But what had caught Souichi off guard the most, more than his actions or how much pleasure he really took from his kouhai's touch, were his words: "I'm so happy."
Him? Making someone so happy? Souichi was a tyrant, everyone knew that, and making anyone happy besides his younger siblings was never anything he cared for. But to hear Morinaga whisper it, with such a look of elation... he never thought that just by being with someone, just being in the same room, he could make anyone so happy.
Gently, he reached beside his face, where Morinaga's hand lay. Slowly, he entwined their fingers, flushing and hoping that Morinaga wouldn't wake and think him sentimental.
"No one else," Souichi whispered under his breath. "Only you, because... because you're special."