Sorry for leaving this fic for a long time but I was truly lost. I know how to continue yet don't know how to reach that point. Anyway, I am studying cutting the story into half. It will be around 10 chapters as maximum. Unfortunately, many intended points may lose their leaning because of the cut in the plot. *sigh* That won't affect it much, though, so no worries.
Disclaimer: It has been so long since I wrote it. Nothing had changed since then which means I don't own Digimon nor would I ever own it.
It was strange to allow his feet to lead him wherever they wanted. Aimlessly walking, neglecting the cold chill the night's breeze caused him, he faced the dark, cold night. The echoes of his shouting and Kouichi's protests half an hour ago chased him mercilessly.
He hated it.
How couldn't he hate the feeling of relief that was consuming his soul? It was wrong to feel satisfied at his harsh words or because of what happened earlier yet he couldn't help it. Part of him had always longed for such confrontation…to regain his dignity in front of himself maybe. The little devils inside the ex-warrior of light chuckled darkly at his thoughts of how partially glad he was that he established new boundaries between him and his twin. And it sickened him.
'We will close in half an hour, Shibayama-kun. The costumers are waiting.'
Kouji tilted his head to look at a well-built teenager who was carrying two trays of steaming Ramen bowls, balancing them carefully. Ramen stands are carts that contain both service counter and kitchen, and of course are mobile. Running a ramen night stand isn't the best line of work these days though but it was a good part-time job and it wasn't strange for the eldest of their group to work there.
'Umm, Kouji. What are you doing here?'
The confused voice of Junpei was loud and close enough to startle him but he kept his cool nature. Shooting quick looks at the place he found himself in sent a harsh reminder of how far he was from home but not far enough to get lost in the way back. He sighed. 'I was walking.'
Junpei blinked then scolded like a concerned father. 'Next time, wear a jacket in such weather.' He paused, looking at the owner of the shop who nodded briefly before returning to his costumers. 'Why don't you eat something. The ramen here is really good.'
'I don't know. You look busy.'
Junpei shrugged and entered the shop, sitting on one of the empty tables, gesturing to his younger friend to enter. Kouji couldn't help heaving a sigh before following him. Great, now he had to talk to Junpei.
Not that he hated the brunette or anything but he wasn't too comfortable talking to him and out of their group, his relationship with Junpei was the weakest. Maybe because they hadn't talked much in the digital world. It had been as if their group was divided into two small groups. A group for Junpei, Izumi and Tomoki and another for him and Takuya…and Kouichi. He bit his lower lip angrily, blaming his mind for thinking again about his brother. Why couldn't he act like normal brothers who don't usually feel the slightest guilt after a fight? Takuya would play soccer as if nothing in the world matters to him after a tense fight with his younger brother so what the heck was his problem? Maybe because he granted Kouichi more position in his heart than he should.
'Hey, won't you eat something?'
Kouji's eyebrows met in frustration and he eyed the steaming deep bowls of Kakunin Donburi and Oike Ramen before snatching the chopsticks from the table and uttering a clipped "Itadakimasu". He started eating silently. Usally he would reject the mere idea of sitting in such a traditional night stand; let alone allowing someone else to pay for him (He had forgotten his wallet along with his cell phone at home and Junpei was as stubborn as him if he wanted to show off a bit and paying for his younger friend was a good chance for that; not that Kouji minded a lot)
'So, you are coming to the get-together meeting tomorrow?'Junpei asked, curious and after receiving a low growl from the younger twin, he resumed dreamily, 'I really miss Izumi. I can't believe she is finally back even if she would stay for few weeks only.' It was so him to talk about Izumi-chan in that affectionate way despite that his romantic feelings for her had fainted long time ago. Izumi still had special place in his heart even if he admitted sadly that they weren't meant for each other.
Kouji was too occupied with what was in his mind to pay attention to Junpei's babble. The brunette however refused to leave him alone and insisted in a more serious tone that he rarely use instead of the easy-going tone he usually had. 'Is something wrong, Kouji? Why are you wandering this late without a jacket or a wallet?'
'It is none of your business.'
'It is, Kouji. Even if we don't meet or talk too much, we are still friends who care about each other.' Junpei challenged Kouji's cold words. 'You had a fight with someone, right?'
The chopsticks fell on the Kakunin Donburi plate, splashing some hot soup. Kouji looked at his friend in clear surprise, not only because of his true guess but because of his reminder of their friendship. His heart clenched.
'It is nothing, Junpei.'
'Come on, Kouji. We can't meet Izumi when you look so down. We should be as happy as we can tomorrow. Tomoki hardly hanged up when he called this morning after more than an hour of talking about a possible surprise party for Izumi and Takuya is exited enough about tha-' Junipe stopped talking suddenly and a thought hit him before lowering his voice and asking in guilt that Kouji couldn't help but noticing, 'You'd better tell Kouichi about her arrival. I forgot to call his home's number and I doubt Takuya had. And certainly not Tomoki. I don't think he even has his home's number.'
The pain in his heart intensified. He didn't even realize that he clenched his fist in desperation.
But we are friends…Kouichi was wrong. They are his friends as much as I am theirs but at least they would call me if something happened. I am always the one who tell him about the meetings. No one had ever tried. Maybe he was right…
He felt sick suddenly.
'Kouji, you look pale, buddy.'
'Junpei…what do you think about Kouichi?' The question felt strange on the tip of his tounge but he had to ask…had to make sure that Kouichi was wrong.
Junpei gasped then shifted uncomfortably, focusing his gaze on the table. 'Well, you see…Kouichi is our friend for sure and we wouldn't be alive now if it weren't for what he did. All of us own him our lives and…'
'I am asking about how you all feel regarding him as a friend; not why we owe him.' Kouji snapped, frustrated.
'It is shameful, really but Kouichi hardly look like one of our group after our rturn to the real world.' He refused to meet Kouji's eyes. 'I am talking about myself. I didn't have a chance to truly be a friend to him.' He sighed. 'Kouichi had just appeared into our lives. For you and the others, I refused to be friends with in the beginning. Back then, I initially accepted all of you because I have to but after we understood why we were in the digital world, I couldn't help but belonging to all of you.'
Kouji glared at him furiously but Junpei continued despite the shiver that occupied his body for few moments. 'Even after we had returned, I would call Tomoki every now and then. Takuya is a frequent visitor to the Computer Maintenance Shop I work on most of the week. You see I work here twice a week in vacations only. And I wouldn't let Izumi return to Italy without making sure that I really have her email address. The previous time, she was too busy that she forgot to give me hers. And I call you when I have time but for Kouichi, I rarely do. Maybe because I feel guilty. He was the one who suffered the most back then and we couldn't do much for him. It was you who he always wanted to be with so there was no point of us getting too close to him.'
'And we were concerned about getting the two of you close to each other that we didn't focus too much on our relationship with him. What mattered to us was that you could act like real brothers so…we silently let him out of our group so he can only find you to be with and to talk to…'
Kouji breathed deeply, calmed himself as much as he can them muttered hesitantly in a disbelieving voice. 'So…he is not your friend.'
'Of course he is!' Junpei practically cried out, disturbing some of the costumers then lowered his voice and returned to look to the table's sheets. 'He is one of my best friends, Kouji. We care about him and would never let anything bad happens to him. All of us cares about him. It is just we aren't this close.'
'Really?' He was scared not to believe Junpei's word. If they weren't true, then Kouichi was…right.
Junpei pointed suddenly as if a smart idea had struck him. 'You know, we'd better do something about this.'
'What about trying to strengthen our relationship with him this holiday. Izumi would be here and we can go to a lot of places and have fun. Try to make him stay over at your house for the rest of the vacation.' Junpei's eyes gleamed in victory. Happiness could be easily felt, radiating from him. 'I am sure everyone feels slight guilty because we became so distant but we can make things right again, right?'
Kouji avoided his wishful eyes and muttered as if embarrassed, 'He is staying over.'
'Really? This is great.' Junpei's happiness decreased dramatically as he asked, 'He doesn't feel upset because we don't talk much, does he?'
Kouji didn't know how to respond but for the sake of the worried look Junpei's face had, he shook his head.
Junpei sighed in relief, eyes downcast in sadness. 'Don't tell him what I said, please. Kouichi is so sentimental. I don't even want to think of how is he going to take it.'
Kouji sighed in frustration. He managed hardly to run away from Junpei's suspicions. H ow he convinced his friend that nothing was wrong was a surprise even to him. He just couldn't bring himself to tell Junpei that he fought with his twin partially because of them nor could he tell him that Kouichi already felt what Junpei feared.
What should I do?
He wasn't going to apologize but after his talk with Junpei, he started to doubt every word he said to his twin. How was Kouichi taking his accusation anyway? His brother's face was so blank that he couldn't get how he felt.
He was crying though.
Crying? The image of Kouichi's tearful face sent a shiver to his body. It seemed as if he had just recognized that Kouichi was crying when they fought. He dismissed the frightening images and the horrible "why" that kept nagging him.
He heaved a deep breath rang the doorbell. His step-mom had surely returned from her shopping. No wonder she would freak out because of his light clothes.
To his surprise, Satomi opened the door before the second ring as if she was waiting for him. Her concerned expressions increased his surprise. The half angry, half worried question took him off-guard.
'Where have you been? Why didn't you take you cellphone with you?'
He blinked in confusion and answered as calmly as he could. 'I was in a hurry.'
Weird how didn't she comment on his light jacket. He followed her inside and was shocked to see his father talking to a stranger. Not totally stranger. He had seen that man before but he couldn't pinpoint where.
'If he didn't wake up till tomorrow morning, take him to hospital. I will be waiting for your call.' The man said professionally at the bottom of the stairs. Kousei only nodded and accompanied him to the door. In his way, he eyed his son a suspicious look.
Kouji's heart started thumbing crazily. Relieving him from the annoying wondering of what happened, Kousei returned less than two minutes later. A question was already shot once he approached his younger son. 'Where were you? Since when do you forget your cell phone at home?'
'I was in a hurry.' He swallowed and repeated the same answer he gave Satomi earlier.
What could he tell them? What the hell was going on anyway? That man was a doctor, he remembered now. But why was he here? Could it be…?
'Kouichi…?' He muttered his name without thinking twice. Panic had already won without starting a battle. Rationality was left behind as his heart ached in agony.
The married couple looked at each other. The short eye contact between them was enough to realize their mistake when they attacked the boy with questions. Surely, he knew nothing.
Satomi started, voice cracking slightly. 'When I came back, I found him lying on the floor.' She breathed heavily and added in a lower tone. 'The glass vase had somehow fallen and hit his head.'
Kouji almost fainted. His face looked as pale as a white sheet. So that voice was…
Kousei completed hurriedly as if to save his son from collapsing. 'He is all right though. The doctor said he would be fine by tomorrow. We will take him to the hospital to make sure that his old wound wasn't affected. He is resting now. If he didn't wake up in the coming few hours, we would-'
He couldn't finish his placating explanation. Kouji ran towards his room frantically and his parents didn't try to call him back. They knew how worried was he going to be. Nevertheless, they couldn't understand why wasn't he at home when Satomi came back. For sure, this didn't have anything to do with Kouichi's injury, right?
What have I done? How could I? I hurt him. I could have lost him. I left him behind, knowing that something was wrong. Why? Why? Why? Was this what I wanted to? Was this how normal brothers should be? Why?
Kouji stormed into his bedroom, panting.
'Nii-san.' He breathed fearfully. His trembling legs led him to his bed. And for a moment there, he wished he would disappear.
Kouichi was lying under the blankets. Sickingly white bandages were tightly wrapped around his head. Some bangs of his hair were loose but not long enough to cover his eyes. He was breathing peacefully as if in a deep slumber. Too peacefully.
Kouji's legs couldn't carry him anymore. He kneeled on the floor. His arms tried supporting him by leaning on the bed but they seemed as if they were melting.
The silence remained stubbornly.
'Nii-san…Please.'He pleaded but the asleep figure didn't move.
His fingertips moved slowly towards his brother's forehead. The trembling skin met with cold sweaty skin. He forcefully gather himself and lent on the bed itself. The fingers were painfully moving over Kouichi's cheeks. They were wet. A guilt thought expressed itself wondering if it was wet because of the previously shed tears. An obvious red mark blamed him for hitting his twin earlier. It seemed as if his parents had purposefully ignored it.
'Kouichi? Open your eyes, please.' He called out again. Tears broke free, triggered by the silence.
It was my fault. I hurt you. I-I could…lose you again.
He knew that he was hysterically scared. Kouichi would be fine but he wouldn't be able to respond to him. However that rationality didn't even occur to him. What mattered was that Kouichi wasn't opening his eyes, wasn't waving his worries off…wasn't smiling as if nothing happened.
He couldn't take it anymore. The echoes of his accusations were torturing. Yet, he couldn't manage apologizing. It seemed so dumb to apologize now when Kouichi couldn't hear him. Why should he apologizing? Why was he breaking down as if the world had ended?
"I am sick of you."
"I don't want you be special anymore."
Really? He almost laughed there.
Was he taking his words back because he felt guilty, because he didn't want to lose his twin? Was he truly convinced that what he said was wrong and if so why did he feel happy after fighting?
The cellphone rang by his side and Takuya's name appeared on the screen. With cloudy eyes, he shoved the phone aside bitterly.
He didn't want to think about anything ab. So sick of thinking. He wanted to sleep everything off, to calm down and sleep. It might be a bad nightmare after all. Yes a very bad nightmare which he created by his own hands. Slowly closing his eyes, he lied by his twin's side. His arms wrapped around Kouichi's body carefully. He buried his face in Kouichi's hair, careful not to be too close to hurt him more.
The only thing that he was so sure about its accuracy was his claim that he made him weak.
And even that didn't matter.
To Be Continued...
Horrible, ne? Gomen nasai! Please, don't hesitate to tell me what you think. I like criticisim as much as I like sweet replies.
The Ramen stands and the food mentioned here is totally google's ideas. Ahm, I mean he helped me a lot in gathering these information. We may have a glimpse of Kouichi's thoughts next chapter...