k59: well, as I mentioned, I had this weird idea^^~ n I finally managed to write n finish this story… as usual, this turned up different than what I had in mind when I started writing... anyway, this is how it turned up... enjoy^^~


"Cherished"

xxx

xxx

He watched with growing annoyance as his brother made a small sound of wonder the moment he stepped into his rather small, single dormitory room, closing the door behind him. The fourteen years old, either oblivious or ignoring his brother's irritated glare, looked around in awe, standing and spinning slowly at the centre of the 3 by 4 room.

The movement made his already pounding head became even dizzier.

He really hated colds.

With passion.

Yumeto scowled as he sat on his bed, leaning against his headboard and pulling his blanket on one more time.

Seriously, what was his brother trying to gain by doing that exactly? The room was practically empty. He hadn't had the time to decorate it, if he was even going to. He had, after all, that luxurious room that came with his position as a crime planner.

But, for now, he was content to be here, in much simpler and smaller room. If that means he had his brother with him. Who, by the way, was not supposed nor allowed to be here!

"Really, Ainosuke, just what are you ogling at? There's literally nothing there!"

Unaffected by his older brother's exasperated exclaim – the scratchy and hoarse quality of his voice sure made it sounded less intimidating – the boy turned slowly to face him. He almost groaned at the cheerful smile his brother directed at him.

"It's so white!"

All his annoyance flew right out his mind at that. This time, he did groan and dropped his head onto his hand, rubbing his temple tiredly. How simple-minded can this child be?

"How do you manage to go in here, anyway? The watchmen never let anyone in. Let alone let them spend the night here."

He eyed the bag that his brother had brought with him warily as his brother just grinned mischievously at him. The boy was just about to answer him when he raised his hand, stopping his little brother even before he started talking.

"You know what? Don't tell me. You probably just continued begging and pestering them to no end until they relented."

Ainosuke just pouted and started working.

Yumeto watched – as well as sneezing and coughing every once in a while – warily as his little brother scurried back and forth in the small room –taking a plate, opening his wardrobe to look for a small towel, grabbing a basin and going out to fill it with ice water. All in all, after 5 minutes, it was a very satisfied-looking Ainosuke that stood at the side of his bed. The younger had a plastic bowl on top of a small plate in his hands, gently opening the lid before handing it to his older brother.

"You made this?"Yumeto asked as he took the bowl, staring at the steaming hot porridge.

A light pink covered his little brother's cheeks and the younger ducked his head in embarrassment.

"I had help."

He watched in amusement as the teenager continued to fidget on his feet, soft smile decorating his fevered-flushed cheeks. Seeing that hopeful look his brother sent him, he took a spoonful, deciding to try his brother's attempt at cooking.

It was good, he decided. Not exactly delicious, but not bad for someone who only started to cook for himself a week ago.

A small, almost unnoticeable smirk lit up his face.

Quickly he brought up his hand to cover his mouth and started to – pretend to –cough.

"Niichan!"

The loud voice from somewhere on top of his head made him winced. He felt the porridge being taken from his hand and heard his brother started to ramble hysterically to himself.

"Stupid, stupid Ainosuke! Why didn't you just buy porridge from somewhere! You stupid! Now see what you've done? What are you going to do?"

The fourteen years old was muttering non-stop, his feet moving continuously around the small space, not knowing what to do. From his behavior alone, it was quite obvious that the younger was panicking.

Yumeto did his best to suppress the laughter that was about to escape his lips as he watched his little brother, clearly and thoroughly amused. He was now shaking, not from the cough, but from his effort in repressing his laughter that was threatening to burst out anytime soon. Ainosuke, too far gone in his panic fit, did not notice that his brother had stopped choking.

He should do this more often. His little brother was just too adorable.

"Okay, calm down. Deep breath… Alright, now… Get water! That's it, get water! Hang on, niichan, I'll get wa–"

He couldn't hold back any longer. He laughed.

Yumeto noticed his brother froze in bewilderment in the sudden change of his condition. Instead of stopping though, he laughed harder.

Yep, he was definitely going to do this again.

"Niichan, you big meanie!"

Looking up, he realized that Ainosuke was now watching him with a petulant scowl on his lips. Only, the younger did not really manage it and it came out as a pout instead. He grinned brightly at his little brother.

Then, without so much as a warning, his little brother's eyes went misty and the younger launched himself to his brother's chest. Alarmed and afraid that his joke had been too far, Yumeto instantly, almost reflexively, wrapped his arms around his little brother. He felt arms went around his waist and hands gripping the fabric of his sweater.

"Ainosuke?"

The arms around him tightened. He was eternally grateful when he heard no sobs coming from the dark head nesting on his chest.

"I really thought I hurt you."

A pang of guilt shot through his heart and he tightened his own hold. Suddenly, the idea of making another joke on Ainosuke was not that attractive anymore. Not when he knew this was how his little brother would react.

He winced when the hold Ainosuke had on him tightened even more and was now bordering on painful.

"Well, you kind of do right now."

The response was immediate and he knew that it was the wrong thing to say. His brother leapt away from him, almost ended up falling to the floor in the process if not for the hold that he had on his little brother. He used that hold to pull his brother back into a warm embrace, chuckling amusedly.

"Silly Ainosuke. You don't seriously think that I mind, do you?"

He winced when a fist hit him not quite softly on his chest, followed by a grumble about annoying older brothers who liked to over-tease their younger brothers. Yumeto laughed heartily, which soon dissolved into a coughing fit.

In a flash, Ainosuke had pulled away from his embrace and was now rubbing his back soothingly. He struggled to regain his breath, his hand gripping the fabric above his chest in an attempt to sooth his aching chest. Leaning back as the coughing stop, his eyes met a worry filled chocolate brown eyes and had to smile.

"Don't look so down. It's just a cold. It'll past in a few days."

Determination filled his brother's eyes and Yumeto chuckled knowingly while shaking his head. When his brother had that look, it was better for him to just let his little brother do whatever he wanted to. Believe it, he knew from experience.

The bowl was once again pushed into his hands. The expectant look that his little brother sent him made him hurriedly complied and ate the porridge quietly.

He knew how to choose his fight.

And this fight was one that he would never win.

xxx

Ainosuke stared at the ceiling on his futon, making no sound or movement in the dark – just in case his brother woke up. His brother had fallen asleep an hour ago, after he had force the older to take his medicine. His big brother thought that slight cold like that did not need medicine, much to the younger's exasperation.

And his brother said that he was the one who was acting like a child when was ill.

He hesitated for a second – then decided that he was bored enough – before turning to his side, facing his slumbering brother.

"Hey… niichan?" He whispered, half hoping that his brother would answer him.

When only the sound that reached his ears was a distant sound of a vehicle, he sighed in both relief – his brother finally had the rest his body desperately needed in order to recover – and disappointment – he was hoping that he wouldn't spend this night laying awake alone again.

Living alone by himself was easy. At least that was what he thought at first. He opened all the boxes and sorted his things in his new room, after cleaning the room of course. It was when the night time came when his trouble started.

He would closed his eyes and shifted again and again to find a comfortable position, until he gave up and just lay staring at his ceiling. Only when light started to appear at the east did he managed to get a few minutes of sleep ,only to be jolted awake by the sound of his alarm clock.

He sighed and rolled over to his other side.

His teachers had reprimanded him these last couple of days for falling asleep in their classes. He tried, really he did, to the best of his ability to sleep. But it would not come to him.

His friends started to get worried too, he knew. They always sent him concerned looks whenever they thought he was not looking. Once, they even managed to get him to the infirmary to get some sleep during one of the breaks. And only woke him up when the school was over. He was annoyed – though he knew that his friends meant well – and was scowling – he ignored his friends when they said that he was pouting instead – all the time when his friends told him what happened in the class for the day.

Growling in frustration he shifted so that now, once again, he was laying on his back.

Night time was scary, he decided as he looked around. His all too imaginative mind – as his brother more than often told him – made him see things, scary things, in the shadows. He was too old to be scared of ghost, he had scolded himself. Fourteen years old of his life should have been enough for him to learn that there was no such thing as ghost. He had believed that. Until a week ago, when every little sound made his heart pounded in his chest in fright.

There was a sound of an owl, hooting from afar. And even that was enough to send chills down his spine.

A quiet whimper escaped his lips as he turned his whole body to his right side, once again facing his older brother. He curled up under his blanket, gazing at his brother.

Even when he had his brother beside him, he still couldn't sleep.

Well, not really beside him, but…

Surely, he was too old to climb on his big brother's bed, wasn't he? What kind of fourteen years old boy did that anymore – if ever – seriously?

A sudden sound of something fell down from somewhere outside startled him out of his self-scolding. He felt the hair at the back of his neck stood and the chills was back. His heart was pounding hard in his chest.

"Niichan?"

There was a pathetic chord of fear crept into his voice and he knew it. After all, he did nothing to stop it. He was getting desperate.

When the noise came back again, he scrambled out of his futon, bringing his blanket with him as he stood up. His bare feet made no sound as he stepped to his brother's bed side.

His brother was sleeping on his side, facing him with his back to the wall. There was some space left on the bed, since – for some reason – his brother had shifted in his sleep to the wall. A soft snore escaped his brother's lips as the older continued to sleep.

Ainosuke bit his lips nervously. His brother needed sleep more than he did. He should try harder and not bothering his brother with his problem.

He was about to go back to his futon when something made him froze in fear.

There was a sound of someone approaching with a bell-like sound. The sound of footsteps seemed echoing mystically in the silence. The ringing sound jolted in rhythm with it, creating a – to his ears – terrifying sound.

Throwing all logics away from his mind, he dropped his blanket and slipped under his brother's. He snuggled closer to his brother and maneuvered himself under his big brother's outstretched arm. Then, he proceeded to bury his face on his brother's chest, closing his eyes shut tightly. His fingers were clenched around the fabric of the sweater his brother was wearing.

Thinking that his big brother had been sleeping, it was only normal that he yelped when he felt arms hugging him, bringing him closer to the warm body beside him. He looked up from his hiding place and promptly blushed.

Yumeto was smiling at him tenderly, his eyes twinkling with amusement. When his brother noticed his stunned expression, the older started to chuckle softly, making him blushed several shade darker.

Then, the footstep and bell-like sound registered in him mind once again and all the color on his face drained quickly, leaving him pale and shaking. He fisted his fingers tighter and buried his face on his brother's chest once again.

"Ainosuke? What–?"

There was no sound for a few second save from the 'ghost' sound. Then, to his confusion, his brother chuckled and his hand came up to stroke his hair gently.

"Oh, Ainosuke. You are so cute, you know that?"

He felt his cheeks seared with heat and pressed his face further into his brother's chest. His brother put his chin on top of his head.

"It's not a ghost you are hearing. It's the watchman patrolling while bringing his keys."

His body tensed and he looked up sharply. Wide, stunned brown eyes met amused, twinkling ones.

"What?"

His brother laughed softly, hearing the incredulity in his voice.

"The night watchman always patrols at night, making sure that there is no party being held in one of the rooms. The sound is irritating, I know, especially when you are trying to get some sleep. Although…"

His big brother's hand came up to sweep his fringe away from his eyes and he blinked as he saw his brother's expression darkened, the twinkle in his eyes died down and was replaced with worry.

"Maybe, just for tonight, I should thank him for patrolling."

He simply blinked again at his brother's statement. His mind was still relishing the fact that he had not heard ghost haunting the building at night.

"Why?"

His brother smiled at him sadly. Instead of answering though, his question was replied with another question.

"Why did you not go over here sooner? That's half the reason you decided to spend the night here, isn't it?"

Once again, he was stunned. How–?

Yumeto just continued to smile at him. He felt his brother's hand moved from his hair and traced the skin under his eyes tenderly.

"Who do you think I am? I'm your big brother, Ainosuke. I knew something was wrong the moment I saw you. The dark circles under your eyes are very obvious. You hadn't been sleeping well, if you get any at all."

He gaped at his brother. Had he been very obvious? He thought that he covered that fact rather well, but apparently he could hide nothing from his big brother. He ducked his head, embarrassed.

"It was stupid, cannot sleep when you aren't around. I'm fourteen."

The fingers under his chin forced him to looked up, albeit gently. His eyes found his brother's.

"So? I'm twenty six. No matter how old you've become, you'll always be my little brother. And you can always come to me about anything, regardless how stupid you may think the cause is. Understand?"

His blush came back full force and he nodded his head, before bashfully snuggled back into his brother's arms. The arms around him brought him closer to his brother and the warmth was comforting.

"Understand," he replied softly, surprised when he found that he could barely kept his eyes open.

"Good."

The slight weight on his head told him that his brother had placed his chin on top of his head once again. The weight was gone for a moment as he felt his brother planted a kiss on top of his head before returning. He sighed in content, realizing that he did not mind being treated like a child despite his age. His brother would probably argue that technically he was still a child anyway.

"Say, niichan?" He mumbled the words to his brother's sweater, voice thick with sleep.

His brother just hummed in reply.

"Were you awake the whole time?"

A chuckle, then a hand caressing his hair.

"Yes, I was waiting for you to come over. Now, sleep. God knows how much you need it."

He nodded, a yawn preventing him from answering verbally, and cuddled closer. His brother chuckled softly at his behavior and answered his silent request by tightening the hold he had on him. He dropped another kiss on his brother temple.

"Good night, little brother. I love you."

Too sleepy and tired to answer verbally, he snuggled closer to his brother. Perfectly content to spend the rest of the night there.

xxx

He woke up feeling a lot better than he did yesterday. At least, his head was not pounding anymore and he could breathe easily through his nose. If his voice was back to normal, he could get back to work again.

Seemed like Ainosuke was right about the medicine after all.

He stretched and was about to pull his brother close when his hands met thin air. He frowned and opened his eyes. His frowned became deeper when he saw that the futon was already folded neatly at one corner of his room.

Now, where did that little rascal go?

He realized that his curtain was already opened and so was the window, allowing morning breeze to go through and inside the room. The sunlight lit the room, providing warmth to counter the cold wind.

Yawning, he sat up and reached out blindly for his cell phone. His eyes widened when he saw what time it was. He was planning to get up latest by 7 in the morning, not three hours after. On Monday morning. He stared at his cell phone for a few seconds more before sighing heavily. Well, at least he knew know where his brother was. But, really, couldn't Ainosuke wake him up before he went to school?

He put his cell phone on the small table beside his bed and his eyes caught something that he was sure wasn't there yesterday. He reached out and took the folded paper. A smile lit up his face as he read the note, he could just picture his brother blushing as he write the last sentence.

He looked back on the table and found a small bowl of porridge. He put down the paper and took the bowl into his hands, opening the lid. He leaned back to the headboard and started eating.

Maybe sleeping in once in a while is not so bad after all.

On his side, the folded paper opened as breeze blew inside the room, revealing a simple drawing of someone while sleeping. The model of the drawing, contently eating his porridge, smiled softly when he caught a glimpse of the writing at the bottom corner of the paper.

Dearest Niichan,

I'm off to school. Eat your porridge and rest. I'll tell the watchman that you're still ill. Don't you dare go to work! I'll come back after school.

Love, your little brother

P.S. Thank you for last night.

P.S.S. I love you too.