Title: Restart, Rebirth, Remembrance
Characters/Pairings: Kouji + Kouichi brotherly love, slight tiny bits of Takuya/Izumi. Hints of one-sided OC-Kouichi and OC/OC because it's necessary for the plot.
Rating: Gen, I swear I'm keeping it gen. –forces down the KouKou fangirl inside-
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon, and I don't own The Last, either. I'm just writing a fic out of another brilliant fic. This fic is a continuation of The Last by Gemini Star01, which means that you're required to read it before delving into this fic. It's an awesomely sad one-shot that you could find in her author page. And while you're at it, read her other amazing works, too.
Warnings: Possible OOC-ness, grammar errors, and this chapter is basically a 5000++ words filler, sorry guys.
A/N: HA! So did you think I forgot about this fic?
Okay, so I kinda forgot about it because [K] was crazy and highly addictive (and distracting hngggh) but I didn't completely forget about this fic. I'm so sorry for not updating this for months, and I really can't promise you guys that I'd be able to update as fast as I used to be, seeing that I'm on my last semester at university and thesis and work usually eat my life, too. But I'll try my best, because I want this finished, because I want to give this story a proper ending.
Please enjoy, and reviews are appreciated. :D
Restart, Rebirth, Remembrance
A Digimon Frontier Fanfiction
In the Spaces
There was a bright light.
Screams. So many screams. It took him a moment to realize that he had been screaming, too. His body convulsed in pain, his throat burnt as the screech was ripped out of him. His body was changing—de-evolving, and no, that wasn't good. He couldn't afford to get back to his human form like this, he'd be killed, ripped off into pieces, and so would his friends.
Then darkness. Pitch black, and something inside him exploded. He hollered, the pain was unbearable, like something was tearing him up from the inside and burning him from the outside. What little power he held slipped away, and suddenly the protective armors of Beowulfmon vanished completely. The pain stopped, but everything was spinning so fast, and he couldn't muster the energy to even look up, let alone pulling himself back to stand up.
But he couldn't remain here. They couldn't. Lucemon would—the bastard would kill them off like this—and what would happen to the Digital World, then? They'd promised, they'd fought and struggled so far, just to fail here? No. He had to stand up, he had to.
There were hazy voices, telling him to get up and run, and with a groan, he managed to pull himself into a fetal position, swallowing the pain lancing through his body. He opened his eyes, a glance to see all his friends scattered around him—two-three-four. His brother wasn't here. Where was his brother? Was he safe? Or did he—
Another bright light, and his body arched; he could barely recognized his own voice when he screamed. It was raw, and he felt like something inside him wanted to crawl out, skinning him alive in the process. Everything was burning, scorching hot, and pain was stabbing him on every inch of his body, and Kouji couldn't remember feeling in pain like this ever. Tears came unbiddingly, prickling his eyes, until his body stopped shuddering and the pain diminished slowly. He had to get up. No way he was going to die like this.
His head snapped up, and his whole existence froze.
Because there was Lowemon, standing between the light and darkness, keeping the pitch black sphere from joining the light that enveloped Kouji and the others. No. No no no no no, that was stupid, why did Lowemon do that, no no no, that was too dangerous—
"Kouichi.." he breathed out, awed and terrified at the same time.
He watched, as the sphere of light unbiddingly lifted from them to join the sphere of darkness, this time enveloping Lowemon like a womb. He couldn't move, couldn't close his eyes, couldn't cover his ears, like his whole being had simply frozen. There was no scream, no indication of pain, and Lowemon was looking up straight at Lucemon, and Kouji suddenly realized, something was wrong.
Something had been wrong for a very long time.
"I know now why I came to the Digital World…"
"Lucemon! You're not the only one who could use both the power of Light and Darkness!"
There was no scream, just a painful grunt as Lowemon looked back at them, and Kouji's breath hitched in his throat. There was determination in Lowemon's eyes, but that wasn't what sent a chill through his body. It was the sadness, unbearable resignation and acceptance that made something in Kouji's stomach sank, because this wasn't good.
"Everyone… even though we haven't been together for very long…" A pause, and Kouji could literally hear his heart hammering in his chest. "..thank you."
"When I go back to the human world, I won't see you there."
The shock that statement brought made something in his chest clenched, and he gasped. The others did, too, and he heard someone's voice, tentative and scared: "…You won't..?"
"Everyone, please, protect our world!" Lowemon's gaze fell straight onto Kouji's, strong and unshakeable, voice leaving no room for hesitance or fear. Kouji felt his fingertips tremble, felt the slow crawl of terror in his chest as he let out a shaky whisper, "Kouichi…?"
"Most likely, I'm—" There was sadness, so intense and strong Kouji was dizzy from the sheer look in Kouichi's eyes. "I'm no more—"
Kouji couldn't think. Couldn't breathe. What did it mean? Why was his brother looking at him like it was a final farewell, like they wouldn't be able to beat Lucemon and meet again in the human world? Fear gripped his throat, tightening until he felt like he was going to choke. Denial welled up, because it couldn't be—there was no way Kouichi was—and the words blurted out of his tongue harshly: "It can't be—!"
The sphere cracked, and broke into pieces of data, revealing Kouichi's form. But it wasn't quite right, Kouji realized in trepidation, because the Spirits of Darkness was hovering on Kouichi's sides, and it wasn't Kouichi. It was Kouichi's spirit, glowing blue and bright and warm like the person he always was. He hovered down, gaze locked into Kouji's identical midnight eyes, and Kouji saw absolute trust in them.
It terrified him.
"Take them, Kouji," he said softly, and it felt so intimate Kouji wanted to sob. "The Spirit of Darkness."
The two spirits lurched down into Kouji's stretched arms, and he embraced them as they vanished into his chest. They were freezing, the exact opposite of the warmth of the Spirit of Light, and the cold sensation spread out quickly to envelope his whole being as he looked up, meeting Kouichi's eyes for the last time.
"I'm glad I came to the Digital World." A small smile, unbelievably sad, yet thankful. Kouichi's voice shook, hundreds of unspoken emotions lining the words coming out of his mouth next. "I'm glad… that I met you."
It was a goodbye.
Kouichi's spirit went hazy, and Kouji watched, transfixed, as his twin's form vanished into lines of data. He couldn't breathe, couldn't hear whatever it was Lucemon was saying, couldn't pay attention to how his friends went outraged, because the freezing Spirit of Darkness was clashing with his own Spirit of Light inside him, and it was excruciating.
He had a second to shout his brother's name, full of grief and denial and fury, and then everything was a blazing pain. He could feel the Spirit of Light and Darkness slowly merged into one inside him, clashing and colliding and fighting for dominance, sparks of pain lancing through his whole being. He gritted his teeth, grunted out the three syllables that made his brother's name desperately, painfully. Then there was power, infinitely strong, as he felt both the Spirit inside him came together, joining into one entity he knew not the name, and he reached out to wrap his fingers around it, let his grief and anger fueled the lust for strength, to avenge, to make Lucemon pay—
Darkness. Light. Fire. Wind. Ice. Thunder.
To do the very last thing Kouichi wanted them to do.
Something was ringing. And vibrating. And it was annoying.
Kouji growled from where he was hidden under his blanket. His blissfully warm and comfortable blanket. His mind was working too sluggishly, the remnants of his dream still nagging at the back of his head even as his hand reached out to take his phone. Killing off the visual feed—there was no way anyone would get a look at him and his bedhair, he had a dignity to maintain—he swiped his thumb on the smooth surface of his phone without glancing at the caller id.
"Hello." He grunted none-too-friendly.
It was Tokiya. Kouji blinked slowly, trying to ignore how his heart was beating too fast. He'd been dreaming. A nightmare of some sort—of Kouichi (who stil inexplicably appeard as his twin brother, that was just absurd) being scanned. He made a face, taking a deep breath, because it was just a dream, for god's sake. A glance at the clock told him he'd overslept: it was almost ten in the morning, and it was freezing.
"Since tomorrow is Christmas, we're all going to visit Kanpei-san in the hospital today!" the kid actually sounded excited about it. Kouji mentally groaned. "You're coming, right? Kouichi-san asked everyone to come; he wants to talk about what he found in the Digital World."
Kouji closed his eyes, concentrating on calming his still racing heart. There was an indescribable urge to see Kouichi right now, as stupid as it sounded. He knew it would help him calm down, even if he couldn't understand how. They were still avoiding each other; Kouji had caught Kouichi staring at him when they had followed Kanpei to the hospital after the battle yesterday, but the other boy had turned away once Kouji stared back. It was irritating, and for whatever reason, it unsettled him like the way his dream just now.
"Okay," he said in the end, and Tokiya's excited whoop made the corners of his lips twitched upwards. "I'll be there."
"See you then!"
Kouji dropped the phone onto his lap, mind already going back to his previous dream. What the hell was that, he wondered. The dream was so vivid; he'd actually woken up with a start and inexplicable fear gnawing at his throat. It was disconcerting, and confusing, and he hated feeling like that. And his heart still wouldn't calm down, despite knowing that Kouichi must be fine. Then what was that dream about?
A memory? Then it wasn't his. Just a dream? It felt too real and the fear nestling in his stomach unsettled him. Another flashback, that was what it was, he decided, irritated beyond reason that he was thinking too much about it.
With a mixed feelings churning inside him, Kouji got up slowly from the bed and made his way to the bathroom. He would just have to ignore it, like usual. After all, it was just a dream. It might not even mean anything, right?
Lowemon's presence somewhere at the back of his mind was comforting, even if Kouichi couldn't talk to him. The Warrior of Darkness was like a warm pulse, steady and calm and strong, reassuring him that he'd always had someone to hold on to for eternity.
It was frustrating not being able to talk to him, sometimes, but Kouichi was at least thankful to feel Lowemon's constant presence. It gave him an anchor, constantly reminding him that he was there not only as one of the Chosen Children, but a Spirit Wielder who had more experience than anybody else. It was a responsibility he couldn't afford to forget.
He only had a handful of good memories about hospitals, and the bad memories, sadly, outweighed them. If it weren'tfor the fact that Kanpei's injury had been a little worrying, he probably would have refused to go to the hospital, even if it was to visit an injured friend and teammate. The white walls and the overall sterile atmosphere for some reason only reminded him of deaths, and Kouichi had enough deaths in his long life, really.
The five of them huddled together before Kanpei's door; Tokiya reaching up to open the door just before the knob turned and the door opened. For a second, everyone merely blinked in surprise as two boys their age stood before them, looking equally surprised.
Behind the two boys, from the bed, Kanpei waved. The hovering screen before him flickered and blinked 'stand by'. "Hey you guys came! Awesome!"
"Oh, you're Mashiba-kun's friends, too?" one of the boys grinned, stepping aside to let the five of them in. Tokiya ran straight away towards Kanpei to give him a hug, Suzumi slowly making her way to the bedside table to put the flowers they brought into the vase, but the rest hung out on the door. Takuma was grinning back at the two boys.
"Yeah, We're Kanpei's friends. You guys go to the same school, huh?"
"We're class representatives, actually," the other boy answered rather politely, one foot already stepping out of the door. "Or at least, I am. He's just replacing our class' vice president. We were bringing Mashiba-kun his assignments."
"Heh, even when hospitalized you've still got to do homework, huh, Kanpei?" Takuma yelled over his shoulders, and was rewarded with Kanpei's loud snort. The two class representatives laughed along even as Kouichi stepped in and let the other boy stepped out.
"Well, we're going back, Mashiba-kun. Get well soon."
The door closed with a quiet thud that's masked by the excited laughter of the Chosen Children. Kouichi let his gaze linger on the door for a moment, before shuffling in to sit on the chair in the corner while the others cluttered around Kanper's bed. Tokiya was sitting on the bed now, chattering excitedly about his Christmas plans, and Suzumi was fussing with the flowers. Takuma was on the end of the bed, asking about hospital food, and Kouji was a silent entity by Kanpei's side, but Kouichi didn't miss the small smile that played on his lips.
Kouichi found his lips twitching upwards in a soft smile. He liked seeing everyone getting along well, liked seeing the strong bond between the children being forged through mundane things like this. It felt a bit sad, too, because he couldn't be a part of them simply because he couldn't afford to let himself be the only one left again.
It hurt too much the first time around. Kouichi wasn't sure he could get through that again.
"Kouichi-san," Tokiya called out, and Kouichi looked up from his seat on the corner of the room. "How was the Digital World doing? You went for quite some time, didn't you?"
"Oh," Kouichi said, because he'd only remembered and felt somewhat sheepish to have forgotten about it. But Takuma had been extremely nice to him the last few days—Kouichi guessing the boy was actually attempting to make an apology that counted—and having Takuma's company back in his daily lives felt very nice. Kazuma seemed more relaxed now that they were getting along again, too. "That reminds me. I have some things to tell you guys about it."
"The Digital World?" Takuma piped up in interest. The rest of the children visibly perked. The Digital World had always been an interesting and fascinating topic for them, having only heard stories about it from Kouichi and never actually coming there themselves. They would eventually, Kouichi thought, but that would be after they settled everything in the human world.
"There's nothing clear in the Digital World yet," he began, dragging his chair closer to the inner circle of the group. "The Three Angels and the rest of the Ten Warriors are still investigating. Seraphimon suspected there might be a virus going around, causing data abnormalities that unsealed the portals and turning lots of Digimon berserk. That's why their strength and speed are abnormal, that's why they're able to break through the barrier. They're trying to contain the virus—they've been purifying the infected Digimon on that side, too."
"Why am I imagining zombies..." Kanpei made a face. "I mean, that means those Three Angels or whatever—they could be infected by the virus, too, right?"
"There's a possibility, but the Three Angels combined, they have the strongest power in the whole Digital World." Kouichi paused. "That doesn't mean they could hold it by their own for a lot longer. In the end, we've got to go to the Digital World ourselves."
Suzumi brightened visibly. "Then why don't we go now?"
"If we left our world without sealing the portals from this side first, more Digimon would be able to go through and cause chaos. So that's what we've got to do first: sealing the portals from this side. Then we go to the Digital World and seal the other side."
A thoughtful silence descended for a few moments—each child carefully registered Kouichi's explanation in their minds. Kouji was the one who spoke up first: "How?"
"There are things about the portals in our world, too," Kouichi said, leaning forward and purposefully avoding Kouji's stare. "Kazuma-kun actually helped me to find out about this. Apparently, every single time a Digimon broke through the barrier, there are always errors on electronic devices around the area for no reason. I asked him to investigate it further, and we found out that there are actually more portals than we imagined."
"More portals?" Kanpei blinked. "But we've got all the Digimons whenever they broke through—"
"That's the thing. The portals don't always spout off Digimon. They're only opening and closing at random intervals, and causing disturbances on anything that used electric power. Especially devices connected to the internet or using satellite signals. When the portals aren't opening, they're just... there. Kind of like in stand-by mode. " Kouichi nodded to himself. "Kazuma-kun noticed that the portals would move to another area after a certain interval. He said he can predict their movements and opening time, so that's good news."
Takuma visibly puffed up with pride. "Yeah, my brother's a genius, after all!"
"He also has a complex over you," Kouji muttered under his breath.
Takuma scowled, crossing his arms across his chest, and snorted loudly. "I really don't wanna hear that from you of all people, Kouji!"
For a second, Kouji's face twisted into a horrible confusion, and Kouichi felt something in his stomach sink. He watched Kouji's eyebrows raise in perfect curves—uncomfortably familiar—as the other boy replied to Takuma; "What are you talking about, I don't even have a sibling."
Takuma started visibly, sputtered for a moment, then blinked and let confusion settle on his face. "Huh. Yeah—that's... that's right, you don't have any, huh?" he laughed nervously, scratching the back of his head in his usual sheepish gesture. "Sorry. S'just that—well, Takuya..."
"I'm going to buy some drinks." Kouichi cut him off, standing so fast that the chair was nearly knocked back. He managed to snatch the back of the chair before it completely tipped to the back, though. "You guys... uh—want anything?"
There's a scramble of replies—juice and strawberry milk and soda and someone was asking where the toilet was—and Kouichi's mind was racing too fast he couldn't catch who is telling him what. Kouji was looking at him, intent and curious, and Kouichi thought he needed to get away from this room, fast.
"I'll go with you!" Suzumi said, brightly, but Kouichi could only give her a nod before he practically fled the room.
She had to gather all her courage to ask that one question.
"Kouichi-kun, have you ever been in love?"
Admittedly, now might not be the best time to ask him about this. Kouichi had this pinched look on his face when they left Kanpei's room; something was clearly weighing on his mind, and Suzumi couldn't imagine what that might be. But this might also be the only chance for her to get him alone, and she wasn't sure that she could muster up such courage to ask him some other time.
Kouichi bent down to take the fruit juice from the vending machine and looked up; his expression completely smoothed out now. Suzumi found herself admiring how well Kouichi could wear his mask, and hated that thought almost as soon as it'd manifested in her mind.
"Why do you ask?"
It wasn't fair how hard her heart thumped at the mere sight of his smile. "Nothing, just—" she wrung her hands, familiar anxiety settling on her shoulders like a blanket. "I just thought that we don't—you never told us much about yourself, Kouichi-kun. You know so much things—about the Digital World, and the digivices, and I just—it feels like you've been doing this whole Spirit Warrior thing for a much longer time."
Kouichi's gaze turned into amusement. "That's why you're asking me about love?"
"Th-that..." she stammered, mind already racing to placate the situation, feeling the familiar warmth on her cheeks. Her face was probably aflame right now. "I just—I want to know about you, Kouichi-kun. Your past, e-even if it's something as trivial as, you know, f-falling in l-love. You're so—secretive that I—I mean, we—we worry, sometimes. I'm just not sure what I should ask you about—" she clamped a hand on her mouth, dropping her gaze to the floor bashfully. "I'm sorry. I sounded so forward, didn't I?"
"It's alright," Kouichi smiled. "It's been a while since I had someone worried about me not saying anything at all."
She perked up, raising her gaze at the exact time to catch Kouichi turning the milk carton in his hand over and over. There was a soft smile on his face, one that Suzumi couldn't quite interpret. It looked fond, but lonely and horribly sad at the same time. "Kouichi-kun?"
"I don't think I've ever been in love," Kouichi answered, a thoughtful look washing over his features. "It's either that, or I mimght have fallen in love with five people at the same time."
Suzumi felt her eyebrows taut in confusion. "Huh?"
"I don't think it's the same love that you're referring, but—" Kouichi smiled up at her. "The closest thing I've felt to falling in love is with—with the previous wielder of the Spirit of Wind."
Izumi, her mind whispered, because of course she knew. Of course it had been Izumi—she hadn't missed the fond look Lowemon would cast her when she was being Fairymon. There was that time, too, when she'd stood next to Kouichi after a battle and Kouichi had called her Izumi. But Izumi wasn't a wielder of the Spirit of Wind anymore—Suzumi was. If it was wielders of Spirit of Wind that Kouichi had affections for—
Her lips thinned;she couldn't quite describe the feelings bubbling in her chest now—there's confusion and disappointment, and yet, most of all hope still flared, and she really didn't understand—she only knew that it made her chest tight.
She reached deep inside to feel Izumi, but all she felt was an echoing sadness that she couldn't fathom.
"Um," she said, feeling proud of herself when her voice came out steady. "That—fruit juice. That's Takuma's right? I'll—I'll just. I'll go on ahead and bring it to him—I need to use the restroom anyway, so—"
She never finished that sentence, never tried to make it more coherent. She snatches the fruit juice in Kouichi's hand instead and crossed the hallway back towards Kanpei's room in long strides.
There was a boy standing before Kanpei's door when Tokiya came back from the toilet.
"Excuse me," he said, and the boy flinched, stumbling backwards clumsily before managing to hold his balance. Tokiya smiled up hesitantly, dropping his eyes to the boxes of chocolate and cookies in the other boy's hands before opening his mouth to speak again. "Um—are you here to visit Kanpei-san?"
"I'm—no—I'm—uhh—" the boy sputtered, darwing his posture inside in a self-conscious gesture. Tokiya noticed the way his hands trembled, and cocked his head aside. Maybe this boy is one of Kanpei's friend? Kanpei was popular in his school, after all.
The boy seemed to steel himself, now regarding Tokiya warily. "Are you—Kanpei's..."
"Yeah, I'm a friend." Tokiya smiled up reassuringly. "So you're here to visit, right? Why didn't you just come in?"
"I—" the boy faltered, visibly swallowing back whatever it was he was about to say. "No. I'm just. Here." He shoved the boxes in his arms into Tokiya's making the younger boy blink in confusion. "P-please give these to Kanpei. A-and tell him—just tell him that Hiroki hopes he get well soon."
Tokiya frowned. "But it's okay. It's still visiting hours, Hiroki-san..?" he said tentatively, and was encouraged when he got a nod. "We're visiting him right now, but we don't mind you joining in. Kanpei-san would be happy to see you, I'm sure."
The boy returned his smile, shy and hopeful. "Yeah, I'm sure he will. I just—I don't think I should. I'll come over another day, maybe. But—thank you."
He gave a deep bow, one that Tokiya returned with a deeper bow because he was younger, after all. Tokiya watched him until he vanished behind elevator doors, staring at the boxes of chocolate and cookies in his arms for a second before making his way into Kanpei's room.
Takuma was sitting cross-legged on the bed, now; his attention held by the handheld game console in Kanpei's hand. They turned at the sound of the door closing, though, and gave him a grin. "Welcome back!"
"Where's Kouji-san?" he asked, because he was pretty sure Kouji was here when he left for the toilet. He didn't see the long-haired boy anywhere in the room, though.
"He went out just after you did. Dunno where. What are those, Tokiya?" Kanpei wiggled his eyebrows as Tokiya put the boxes on the bedside table. His grin widened when he saw the box of chocolate, eyes alight like a kid on Christmas morning. "Oh, sweet, this is my favorite brand!"
"Hiroki-san came over and told me to give these to you. He told me to tell you get well soon, too." Tokiya leaned onto the side of the bed. "I told him it's okay if he wants to come in, but he refused."
"Huh, Hiroki's here?" Kanpei looked curious. "I thought nobody else from the school is coming."
Takuma frowned. "Huh? Shouldn't you be getting lots of visitors, Kanpei? You're one of the popular kids at school, right?"
Kanpei shrugged. "Dunno. They're probably busy with their own peer groups, the usual."
Takuma made a thoughtful noise. "What about your peer group?"
"Hey now, Takuma. Being popular means you don't have one—you've got to be able to play with everyone, y'know."
Tokiya started, eyes widening at that. That was the last thing he'd expect to come out of Kanpei's mouth. "But Kanpei-san! Doesn't that mean you don't have any close friend?"
A finger came up to flick him in the forehead. Tokiya scowled up at Kanpei for that, but Kanpei was grinning. "What are you talking about? I've got you guys."
Tokiya knew an effort to change the subject when he saw one. "Yeah, but—"
"And that Hiroki kid?" Takuma was staring at Kanpei intently. "You guys aren't close? I mean, he came to visit you, so I assumed. Why aren't you guys close friends?"
And suddenly, Kanpei was avoiding Takuma's gaze. And Tokiya's, too. He looked like he was weighing his options—whether to answer or not, probably—until finally he looked down at his blanket and muttered something.
Tokiya blinked. "What was that, Kanpei-san?"
"I said," he repeated, sounding uncomfortable and uncertain. "Hiroki's nice and all, a good listener and fun to be with, but—well. I've told him no when he asked me to play with him several times. I mean, I've got—things—with other friends."
Takuma raised an eyebrow. "You mean with the more popular kids."
"W-well," Kanpei defended. "They're my friends, too."
Neither Takuma nor Tokiya could have answered that, because the door opened to reveal Suzumi, who strode in with a nervous, too loud laugh, telling them about how Kouichi couldn't operate the vending machine before tossing the fruit juice to Takuma.
Tokiya settled back into his seat, confused at the obvious discomfort on both Kanpei and Suzumi's shoulders, and wondered if being a teenager was a troublesome thing.
He saw Kouichi's finger swipe over the ice coffee icon when he said, "you should have told her off."
Kouichi visibly tensed, but then he bent down like nothing had happened, like Kouji hadn't just come out of the blue and chided him. When he straightened back up, all he said was: "What do you mean."
It wasn't even a question. Kouji scowled. He'd basically just told Kouichi that he'd heard the whole conversation between Kouichi and Suzumi, and the boy was still trying to dodge the topic. "You're giving her an empty hope, telling her things like that."
"I was only telling the truth," Kouichi answered, turning around to look at Kouji properly now. Kouji's scowl deepened, because he could practically see the mask slipping over Kouichi's face, smooth and perfect. He hated how that made him feel like Kouichi was miles away, like Kouichi was slipping off his hands, and he hated it more because he couldn't understand why.
He also hated the fact that Suzumi was the first person Kouichi ever told his past to.
"You really should tell her that you're not interested in her," he muttered. "You shouldn't have told her stuff like that."
Kouichi laughed. It rang odd in Kouji's ears, bitter and too sharp. "What is this about, Kouji." Again, that wasn't even a question. Kouichi sounded so exhausted, in fact, that Kouji for a second didn't know how to react. "You don't understand anything."
Anger flared as quick as Kouichi's words ended, burning through his chest and licking its way to his throat. Eyes narrowing, Kouji steps forward, closing the distance between them to shove Kouichi's shoulder. The short-haired boy didn't even try to fight back, letting himself being shoved back until his back hit the vending machine loudly.
He didn't even wince.
What the fuck, Kouji thought, livid. This person kept saying that they needed to get along, that they're all a team, playing best friends and making them bonds, but he was the one who distanced himself from the others more than anyone else.
"How would any of us ever understand you," he hissed, midnight blue eyes finding an identical gaze. "If you never so much as let us reach you?"
Kouichi closed his eyes, and when he opened it again, Kouji was surprised to see them naked; anger and restlessness and exhaustion thick in his gaze, but above all, was desperation that confused Kouji even more. It was the gaze of the old—the gaze of someone who had seen too much, had heard of too many.
He'd never seen Kouichi like this.
Then, softly—so soft that Kouji had to strain his ears in order to catch what he was saying—Kouichi murmured, "why do you care?"
His wall of defense slamming back up so fast that Kouji stumbled back, only barely managing to mask the hurt on his face with a scowl. "I—" he fumbled for words, dizzy with both confusion and irritation as he glared at Kouichi. "I don't know, okay? You're the only one who annoyed me so much—you kept popping up in my dreams, in my memories, and I'm not even sure if those are mine, and—rgh! Just stop messing with my memories, will you?"
He watched Kouichi's eyes go wide as the boy froze, mouth agape.
Kouji didn't wait for a reaction. He turned around and left.
"You're dating her."
His twin fidgeted with the edge of the blanket. "We don't do anything different. Much."
"Except going out on dates and holding hands, yeah," he waved it off, looking at his brother incredulously. He was still miffed about it, though. "And you didn't even tell me that you liked her."
"I like all of you the same," his brother insisted, for what seemed to be a umpteenth time that night. He snorted at that, raising an eyebrow as he poked his brother's torso with his foot. They were a tangled mess on the couch right now, the TV blaring an ad of a soap opera while the noise their mother made in the kitchen washed over them. It was nice, having a weekend just for him and his brother, but with his brother getting himself a girlfriend, Kouji suspected this wouldn't last longer.
His twin would have to divide his weekend time for her, too.
He didn't usually mind. The team always met up whenever possible, always sparing time to catch a movie or dinner together, all six of them. But that's the thing: all six of them. He'd still get to hang out with his brother even when they were off with the other guys, but now his brother would be out without him. He wasn't sure how he felt about that.
They'd been separated for twelve years. He still hadn't spent nearly enough time with his brother. Shouldn't he be a priority?
It was selfish, he realized, but his brother didn't seem to mind, the way he was laughing and swatting at Kouji's foot. He propped himself up with his arms, smirking. "You're a bad liar, Niisan."
"I'm not lying. I like all of you the same."
"Huh. Then you'd be okay dating any of us? Even Jun—"
He was cut off with a "Kouji!" and silky laughter that made his smirk grow wider. His brother was throwing him incredulous looks now, legs flailing as he tried to untangle himself from the blanket. He caught one foot, tapped his knuckles on it until his brother squirm, and then letting go before shuffling forward to look at his brother in the eyes.
"If you hurt her, we're not going to forgive you."
A fond smile. "I know."
"If she hurts you, we're not going to forgive her either."
It sounded more like a promise, but as his brother hand squeezed his own, Kouji found that he wouldn't mind keeping such promise.