Author's Notes

This is for Pheonix09. The request was a Takouji friendship with Takuya comforting Kouji and giving him a hug (I'm sure that was a part of it). The comforting was because their parents were focusing their attention more on the elder twin. I don't think a pre-fic was what was intended, but I thought it came out really cute this way. Anyway, I hope you like it. :) And anyone else reading of course.

Japanese start first grade at age six. I don't know whether they've got an equivalent kindergarden and what we call prep (apparently not everyone has K-12), but for this fic assume they have both, so the twins are in prep now. And yes, some five year olds can read novels without help. Basic ones like the Babysitters club. I used to, even when I couldn't spell my own name. The divorce takes place in the same year FYI.

And you know five year olds. They think they're the centre of the world. A lot of them do anyway.

The title is a bit of a play on words. Chatty Case. Charity Case. The pitying looks.

Enjoy.


Chatty Case

A five year old Koji thinks for a moment his brother's getting more attention, so he does the sensible thing. Runs away…and bumps into a kid would have changed his life forever if he stuck around. For Pheonix09

Kouji M/Koji & Takuya K


Kouichi was about to burst.

It was rather easy to tell. His cheeks always turned a little rosier; his body betrayed his secrets if nothing else did. And then there was the way the five year old almost danced along the sidewalk with more focus than his normally contemplative and almost day-dreamy state. He seemed excited to get home; he definitely wasn't anxious, because Kouji knew full well the other would practically drag himself towards their traditional home, using every delay tactic in the book. That generally involved sticking them both into a corner of the library until closing time…which bugged Kouji to no end. He didn't like libraries. Too many books for one thing, and too silent.

Sometimes silence was better than his parents arguing…even if they claimed they weren't. But apparently all parents argued at some point, so while the yells made both of them want to be as far away from the house as possible at the time, everything else was fine.

Besides, they hadn't fought in a while. But that was no reason, Kouji grumbled to himself, for Kouichi to look so excited.

Oh, and of course the tell-tale sigh was the grin on the other's face. The natural expression was a benign smile, but his lips had definitely stretched father than that.

It wasn't only unusual for the younger Minamoto to see his twin acting so peppy, but also somewhat annoying.

'What are you so happy about?' he grumbled finally, shifting the weight of his backpack on his shoulders. The twins had just started at the primary school at the end of their street that year, and while their parents had started off escorting them to and fro, they eventually let the boys go on their own. After all, there were no roads to cross…and Kousei tended to fall asleep whenever Kouichi managed to convince him to stop by the library. In any case, Tomoko was normally outside at the time anyway, either hanging up clothes in the morning or gardening in the shade of the afternoon, and she could easily spot the pair of twins. The arrangement seemed more convenient; Kouji often complained about being treated like a baby if one of them held his hand and led him somewhere (but the line was still drawn when it came to crossing roads). The arrangement seemed more convenient; Kouji often complained about being treated like a baby if one of them held his hand and led him somewhere (but the line was still drawn when it came to crossing roads), and it seemed only Kouji could sit through his slightly elder brother's thirst for written words…even if he did start fidgeting. That was perfectly all right though, otherwise the quieter boy would probably wind up sleeping in his proclaimed corner with all the books, most of which he was still incapable of reading even if he did read books far more advanced than the average four year old. Particularly novels, albeit rather basic ones. But they were novels nonetheless, and it did result in teachers gushing over him.

Kouji always stood to the sidelines and watched, keeping a sharp eye on his brother…and a glare towards everyone who dared say something mean about his Ni-chan. Of the two, he was the least popular one, causing trouble, while Kouichi was normally silent save when he got excited about something or was talking to his brother, and the former rarely happened. It didn't bother the younger twin though; he got more time with Kouichi and that was important. It wasn't his problem if no-one else was good enough for them.

But he still didn't like the way Kouichi was skipping home. Nor did he really like the way the teachers had fawned over his brother again. Seriously, a mere week ago they scolded him hard enough to make the boy burst into tears because he couldn't write his name properly, and now they looked so sappy it was sickening. The younger twin's features twisted unintentionally into a grimace as he pictured the hypocrisy. Kouichi couldn't seriously be excited about that.

He wasn't, and Kouji found out exactly what his brother was so joyous about when they ran up the driveway and into their mother's waiting arms. That day she had been dusting the cement, but she had cast her broom down upon sighting them.

'How was school?' she asked.

Normally it was Kouji who answered first. Even with their parents it sometimes took some prying to get more than three words out of the older twin, so the younger was a little taken aback when Kouichi immediately responded proudly: 'I wrote my name today! Without looking!'

That didn't seem like a big deal at all. He'd been writing his name for two weeks. He had something better, a gold sticker for finishing his sums (he'd gotten one last week too, but walking in on their parents arguing about something or other, he'd stuffed it into some random corner and forgotten to show them).

He spied a silver sticker, shining with the light illuminating from his brother's grin. Seriously, if it grew any wider, he'd tear his face. He was surprised there wasn't any blood coming out of his lips already; Kouichi hadn't been nearly as excited when he'd finished his first novel…although that may have had something to do with one of the teacher's suggestions. As if he'd stand in front of all the parents on Parent Day and read aloud from a book of fairytales…even if he was perfectly capable of reading them to himself.

Gold was better than silver anyway. Kouichi had a gold one, for his reading. He had more, for his writing and sums, even if he was still working on picture books. If it kept going the way it was, he'd get his pen licence at least a term before his brother. And that was the most important thing after all.

But their mother was grinning too. If anything, her grin was wider than the elder twin's.

'That's excellent sweetie. Let me see.'

And then Kouichi fished around in his bag before extracting the book, flicking past numerous failures before displaying the last pride: his name with strokes all in the right places.

Once Kouji decided his mother had seen enough of it, he attempted to break into the…one-sided conversation which consisted mostly of variations of: 'I'm so proud of you Kouichi.'

'I got a gold star today.'

Neither of them heard, although Kouichi probably already knew of his brother's from school. Either that, or, Kouji thought a tad bitterly as he watched his mother continue on, the star on the board had gotten clouded with everybody else's, a rainbow of silver, green and red…and of course gold.

'I'm taking Ookami for a walk,' he tried again, this time so he could escape the scene.

Again, the statement went without acknowledgement. Of course, he could have just made good on his word…as Kouichi probably would have done. But then again, chances were he would have mumbled it…and someone would have heard him. Kouichi just had that ability somehow.

That made his blood boil. It wasn't fair! He was speaking louder than his brother; he should be able to be heard better. And he'd done better than write his name once in more than a month…or whenever they had started learning how to write their names. It wasn't like his brother's name was any more complicated than his own. They had the same number of characters (kanji) after all. Only one was different. The "ichi" verses the "ji". It wasn't a difference that took weeks; he should know, he had managed both of their names on the same day.

He stomped his foot, and then he yelled: 'I'm leaving!'

And then he ran down the driveway and crossed the street, ignoring his mother's yell. It was probably: 'don't cross the street without an adult.'


It didn't take him long to realise he was lost, even if he wasn't going to admit it to anyone, including himself. He didn't see anyone he recognised…although he had cut through an alleyway through which his mother couldn't possibly fit through and his brother was afraid of the dark. Still, he'd have been worried if the other was God knew where.

He kicked a pebble with as much force as he could muster, watching it skip away from him. People were staring at him. Some hailed him but he ignored them. One grabbed his arm, but he twisted out of the grasp and ran away, ignoring the stutters that followed. Ignoring the looks of pity.

He didn't care about their pity. He wasn't some charity case that had no parents, wondering around the street because they had no-where to go.

'Are you lost?'

'No,' he snapped, looking at the speaker…who was exactly his height.

Huh?

He took a step back, almost on instinct as the brunet looked at him.

'You're my age,' the boy concluded brightly. 'I'm Kanbara Takuya. And who are you?'

'No-one,' Kouji snapped back, trying to find a way around him. Funnily enough, he seemed harder to lose than the adults, because he was still following him five minutes after he managed to cross the park.

''tou-san's going to kill me if I go any further.'

'Hmmph.'

'Are you in trouble?'

He ignored that.

'Wanna play with me?'

No, he did not.

'Okay, I'll just give you a hug instead.'

What?

He didn't even have time to react before his arms were pinned to his sides and he was being squeezed. Takuya let go almost as suddenly as he had grabbed the other, grinning crazily.

That was totally ignoring social boundaries, particularly for a Japanese.

'I don't need a hug,' the somewhat runaway sniffed.

'So you ran away,' the other surmised.

'No.' His reply sounded defensive though.

'Your 'kaa-san's going to be sad,' Takuya supplied. 'I ran away yesterday. 'kaa-san's had a new baby. But 'tou-san brought me home later, and she cried. Shinya cried too. He's a baby.' The second "baby" sounded almost like an affectionate insult. 'Your 'kaa-san busy with him too?'

'…I guess so.' He frowned at that. Was his mother really crying? And his brother.

Kouichi would cry. He could cry at pretty much anything.

'Don't scream,' the other advised. ''kaa-san got really mad when I did. I was stuck in my room for ages.' He emphasised the last word, making it sound largely like a whine. Then he held out his hand. 'Come play. I bet I can dunk you in the sandpit.'

But his stomach was starting to bother him. Was his mother really crying? Was his brother really crying?

He cursed the kid in his head. Who asked him anyway?

He was suddenly coughing sand. He hadn't realised how close they were to the sandpit.

Takuya stuck his tongue out…even as a man who shared the same face came over and began to berate him.

'Are you out on your own?'

'No,' he replied automatically. The expression was pitying again. Why? Was he that obvious?

He looked at himself. No wonder; he was all dirty from that alleyway. He probably looked like he'd slept on the streets.

'Do you have somewhere to go?' the man asked in a gentle tone.

'Can he come with us?' Takuya asked brightly.

'Uhh…' The father got that look on his face, the one they got when their children stuck them between a rock and a hard place. 'Takuya, this isn't proper at-'

He was really starting to regret storming off. If he wound up in their house, or worse, whatever the old man was considering…

'But he's so much fun to play with!'

He twitched slightly. He was not a fun thing.

'And he's my friend.'

He was not-what? Who made friends that quickly.

He gaped at the brunette, who was still begging his father.

'Pwease, 'tou-san?' Somehow, Takuya lapsed back into the childish lisp. 'See? He even played sand with me.'

'You're lucky he didn't give you a black eye.'

True. He'd just stood there with a dumb look on his face. Heh, maybe that was how you made friends.

See? He knew there hadn't been anything wrong with his glares. And his Ni-chan claimed he scared people off with it.

And Takuya was still trying to convince his father.

'Kouji!'

He had never been so glad to hear his brother's voice, even if it did sound excited…albeit buried under worry.

'Kouichi! Get back here right-Kouji!'

And there was his mother too. They had come after him. Kouichi was running up to him, looking somewhat scruffy but not nearly as bad as his younger brother. He supposed their mother had managed to catch the elder twin. And apparently Kouichi had attempted to brave the dark after all.

He hurriedly wiped the tears away.

'See? He has a home to go to.'

'He can come and visit though. Right?'

Another sigh, but Kouji ignored them, especially when Kouichi crashed right into him, knocking them into the sandbox.

The younger twin spat out more sand. His head had managed to get buried…much to Takuya's amusement.

Although now he wished his brother could steal some of the attention away, because he was getting the brunt of his mother's scolding. Then again, Kouichi hadn't been the idiot who had run away and gotten lost.

Finally, she turned to the two Kanbaras. By then, Kouichi had shrunk away behind his twin, due to a mix of their mother's wrath and the two strangers.

'Thank you for looking after my son.'

The elder man scratched his head. 'Well, it was more Takuya-' he admitted.

'Can he visit?' the boy asked brightly.

'Takuya,' his father scolded.

Tomoko looked between the brunette and her younger son, the latter who seemed to exhibit no visible resistance.

'I'm sure Kouji would like that,' she said. 'But he's grounded until next week.'

'Oww…' Takuya whined.

The parents decided to meet up at the park the following week though. It was a bit of a walk for the Minamoto's, but perfectly alright for Kouji to play with his friend.

'But next time, don't leave like that,' she continued to scold. 'You know your brother has trouble writing, and it is hard to split my time equally between the two of you.'

She would have patted their heads, but her hands were a little preoccupied. Kouichi tightly clutched her left hand, and she took Kouji's right as they stood, waiting for an opportunity to cross the street.

'Now…is there a reason you didn't mention that gold star from last week stuffed behind the couch?'

Funnily enough, the rest of the walk home consisted about him being grilled about his new friend and his two gold stars.