Edit: 2012/05/12

JO-CHAN HERE! I'm here today to present to you my latest one-shot! And it's probably the longest I've written since I started writing, too. I doubt any of my old Naruto one-shots even reached 4k words (this one is 6k). I started on this on Monday, 1 pm and finished it on Friday, 12.05 AM. Which is because I still have school.

The other day, I was asking for a random theme to write about that had something to do with Children's day; and a good ol' friend of mine (Love ya lots, Haz!) gave me this suggestion on facebook: How about a character who met a kid that reminds him/herself a lot like his/her childhood? (I rephrased.)

So I used her idea and added my own headcanon AND old abandoned one-shot ideas (two of em') and came up with this awesome story. However, some parts might leave you a little confused, so drop me a PM if you don't understand anything. (the beauty of a first person POV is that you don't have to jump into specifics) Oh yes, one of my good friends and fellow writer said that one part sounded like it was taken from Tiger & Bunny (which my sister AND also fellow writer AND part-time beta disagrees) when she was reading my plot outline. I did not copy it and if it sounded like I was, it wasn't intentional.

I've also included a few unnamed OCs, but they're needed as part of the story and might not be given a name unless I decide to reuse them. And Tokiya's personality is a bit warped (or so I thought) here, so I hope it's okay...? I just hope I didn't make they go too OOC.

Oh yes; and this story in un-beta-ed because my beta is having her exams. So let me know if there are any errors. (And if you have liked it/hated it/cried your eyes out/want to strangle me, do leave a review!)

Anyway, enough blabbering; let's start!

Disclaimer: I do not own Uta no Prince-sama and its franchise.

XXX

My brother, Hayato

Written for Children's Day 2012 (2012.05.05, Japan)

XXX

"Ah, I want to go home," Ichinose Tokiya sighed as he walked along the path, the heels of his boots clicking on the concrete and with hands stuffed into the pockets of the jacket he was wearing.

Another spring has come and gone; it would soon be summer in a few weeks. Before he would know it, he would he a young man of twenty—a fully grown and responsible adult in the eyes of society; a child no more.

The past week had been a hectic week for him and the other members of STARISH, just like it always has been every year. It was the long awaited Golden Week, after all. Even if almost the entire working population of Japan was on holiday, the entertainment industry never rests. Television interviews, live performances, variety shows, radio broadcasts… you name it, STARISH had probably done it during the past week.

Work in the entertainment industry is always busy, but Tokiya didn't mind. He's living his dream, after all.

Though he barely has time for himself nowadays, he still loves his job. Of course, the rest of the gang has a habit of crashing somebody's apartment –usually his, for some reason- and hanging out there the whole evening. Sometimes they even sleep over and make a mess of his living room.

And since it's the last day of the Golden Week holidays, they'd probably drop in tonight as well; that inconsiderate bunch of people.

The sound of children laughing distracted Tokiya from his thoughts.

"Big Brother! Wait for me!"

"No way! You're just too slow!"

Tokiya stopped in his tracks, right in front of a small park, where a pair of brothers –twins, even- were playing together.

It felt nostalgic, Tokiya thought, as he watched them play. He used to play with his brother, too, back when they were still little kids… and when he was still alive.

Yet it was strange. For a long, long time, he hadn't thought about his brother nor of his childhood. It was as if he was trying to forget about the painful memories that would pop up every time he thought of them.

"Ah!" The younger of the two boys cried out as he tripped, crashing onto the ground beneath him.

As if it was by instinct, Tokiya moved a foot forward to help the child, but paused in his tracks when he spotted the older boy bending down next to his younger brother, who was starting to sob.

"Are you okay?" The boy asked, offering a hand to help his brother to get back on his feet.

"Big Brother… I…" The younger boy started to burst into tears.

"Hey, don't cry! You're a man, aren't ya?" The older boy chided. "Men are strong! And Papa says that a real man has to be strong and not cry! So you must be strong too!"

Those words struck Tokiya. It was as if he had been told those same words a long, long time ago…


"-kiya?"

It was many a spring ago. That day, I had been resting under the large cherry tree that grew in our backyard, feeling the passing spring breeze on my face and the soft grass tickling my back.

"Tokiya?"

Someone's calling my name. Who is it?

"Oi, Tokiya! Wake up already! How long are you gonna sleep out here? You're gonna catch a big cold, ya know?"

That voice… Hayato?

"Seriously! We'll start dinner without you if you don't wake up soon!"

"I'm already awake, actually."

I popped my eyes open, staring face to face with my elder twin brother, Hayato, who looked as if he was ready to slap me awake.

"Uwah! You were?"

He yelled as he retreated a few steps back, as if feigning surprise at my sudden awakening. It might have been genuine, but then again, who really knows. I can never really tell.

"Of course, you fool. How can anyone sleep with you shouting in their ears? In fact, most people would have gone deaf by now. Plus, it's going to be summer in a few weeks, so I won't catch a cold by sleeping out here in the day."

"What was that, Tokiya! I'll make you pay!"

With a grin on his face, Hayato bent down and stretched out his hands, grabbing my waist and moving his fingers.

"Haya… no… stop…" My attempts to protest drowned in a fit of giggles as Hayato continued his ruthless assault on me, a huge grin on his face.

"Not until you take that back!"

"I… will… never…" Darn, it was even hard to speak normally now.

"So do you take it back now, Tokiya?"

"I… I take… it… back!"

"Apology accepted." Hayato freed me from his grasp, patting the dirt off his pants, that same old silly grin still plastered on his face. "I think we should head back inside. Dad will holler at us if we're late."

Days like these were normal for the both of us; at least, until the year we turned six. That day, we went out to the park to play by ourselves, just like we would do every other weekday.

"C'mon, Tokiya! You're really slow, you know that?"

"It's just that Hayato is too fast."

We would play a game or two of tag, just the both of us in that little part of the park.

When we returned home, however, we were shocked and surprised to hear our parents arguing; which was strange. Mother and Father have never argued before.

"Me? Unreasonable? What about you?" I remember hearing my mother shout. "I'm working hard for this family! Let me ask you: who is the one who brings home the money to feed the family, huh?"

"But that is no excuse to just ignore your family," My father replied, his voice teetering on the line between a shout and a statement. "I don't mind looking after the boys and raising them, but they still need their mother. It won't hurt to spend a little more time with them, don't you think?"

"At least they have someone looking after them! You're just making excuses, aren't you? I bet you must be tired of looking after them! Besides, at least I can provide them with things that YOU can't afford."

"There are just some things money can't buy; and one of them is time with the family."

"Time? You must be joking. I'm already so busy with my work! What makes you think that I have time any to spare, huh?"

That evening, Hayato and I hid behind the door of the living room, listening to our parents hurl insults and all sorts of words at each other. Reality hit us hard on the head: our family would never be the same again.

Before all of that, my family was pretty much a normal one. Well, we were a lot more well-to-do than a normal family, to be honest. Okay, maybe my family isn't as normal as I would have liked it to be.

My mother worked as a famous journalist who wrote articles about the music industry. Rising artists, famous hits… Her skills as a journalist were beyond incredible; and that added to her popularity. Due to her job and thanks to her numerous connections, she often attends parties hosted by those in high society and travels a lot, so she is rarely at home for most of the month.

My father, on the other hand, was an author who wrote books for children. He works mostly from home, so he's almost like a house-husband in many ways. Apparently, my father married into my mother's family, hence taking on her family name unlike most other couples out there.

My brother, Hayato and I were born on the exact same day, which makes us twins. We weren't exactly identical twins, though. According to my father, we were fraternal twins who just happened to look almost identical to each other.

Despite that, though, it was obvious to all that my mother favoured Hayato. No one can blame her, of course; he is the eldest child of the family. After all, it was natural for most parents to place their expectations and attention on the eldest child and completely disregard the others, especially in East Asian families.

I knew it was something I had to accept. It was fate that Hayato was the first-born child who carries the hopes and dreams of his parents. Yet… never once has my mother praised me. It was always Hayato, Hayato, Hayato. She doesn't even treat me like her own son. It was always as if I was invisible.

It was as if I didn't exist at all.

People would think that I would hate Hayato because of this, but I don't. Rather, I can't bring myself to hate him. He is my older brother, after all. We've been through a lot together. Plus, even though he gets all of Mother's attention, he still has a lot of pressure from her. Well, that's according to Father, that is. No way a kid like myself would be able figure that out on my own.

Hayato is my brother. Nothing can change that fact. No matter what happens, we would be together. At least, that was what I've always convinced myself to think.

Ever since the first, our parents have been arguing more and more frequently. Mother almost never comes home now; and when she does, the fighting starts again. It was an endless cycle that refused to be broken.

It was painful to hear them shouting at each other. It hurt us to see Mother storming out of the house in a huff of fury and Father's tears as he held us close to him, as if trying to comfort us… and himself as well.

"Everything will be alright," he would whisper as he tried his best to contain himself. "We must be strong."

I couldn't stand it. I don't understand. Why? Why did they have to fight with each other? Why can't they just apologize and make everything right again? Why did they have to hurt each other like this? I just couldn't understand.

It was under that same cherry tree that I would sob, confused and upset. And Hayato found me under that tree again, crying.

"Tokiya, why are you crying?" He had asked, concerned.

"It's just…"

I don't want Papa and Mama to fight. I want Papa and Mama to smile again. That was what I had wanted to say then, but I couldn't.

"Stop crying already, Tokiya! Men don't cry! And you're a man, so you must be strong!"

I knew Hayato was trying to cheer me up back then; trying to give me a little courage. But that day, his words meant something else to me. It felt as if… the chains that were holding those awful feelings of mine back just snapped and crumbled to dust that day.

"I'm not as strong as you, Hayato!"

"To… kiya?" He gave me a confused look. "What-"

"You heard me! I can never be strong at you! Hayato is always stronger than me! Hayato always does everything better than me! Unlike you, I'm practically useless at everything!"

We were different.

"That's not true! Tokiya has things that he can do and I can't; I'm sure of it!"

Even though we were born twins, we were vastly different. It was as if he was day and I was the night; he the sun and I the moon.

"Those are lies! You know I can never do anything right; and I'll never be able to do anything right! That's why Mama always looks at you instead of me! That's why Mama loves you more than me! That's why Mama hates me!"

Tears of fury now started to gather in my eyes. I hate him. I hate my brother. Why did he have to be born my brother?

"Mama can never hate you!"

"Enough, Hayato! I'm not like you! You're someone who can do everything! I am someone who can only do nothing! Unlike you, I'm a useless failure!"

"Tokiya!" He grabbed my arm as I tried to walk away from him… away from this conversation.

I turned my head towards him slowly, giving him a sharp glare.

"Leave me alone."

Since then, we did not speak to each other. The tension in the family only escalated after that. Eventually, our parents divorced some weeks after that. Mother took custody of Hayato. Father took me and left the house that was my home for six years of my life.

The day we left, no words were exchanged. No apologies, no well-wishes for the future, no goodbyes; nothing. It was a clean break.

We were never going to see each other again.

After the divorce, Father and I put up at a small apartment that had belonged to his older sister, who had gotten married years ago and had been living her husband's home. She hadn't bothered to sell the apartment, so she let us stay in it. Even though Father hadn't been close to his own family, since they were against his wedding with Mother, they were still willing to support us; and the both of us, Father especially, were eternally grateful to them.

Not wanting to fully rely on support from his family, Father found a job at a local kindergarten as a teacher and he had been working there since. He didn't fully give up writing, however, and still wrote occasionally whenever he has time off from work, which was rare.

Seven years passed since then.

Those years, I heard nothing of my Mother or of Hayato. Life without the two of them took a while to get used to, but I wasn't lonely; nor was I sad. I didn't have many friends, but my cousins had offered to keep me company, though they were a lot older than me. They were patient and kind; and even though they enjoyed teasing me and they still do, they became like my siblings and people I could trust.

I had done well throughout Elementary School, bagging the top spot in the school thanks to the help of my cousins who taught me how to study properly and had offered advice on how to do well. I entered a prestigious Middle School that was located near the kindergarten where my father works; which also happened to be a fifteen minute walk away from our apartment. I was still maintaining the spot as the top of my cohort while being a member of the student council… well, I even became the Student Council President at the end of my first year, actually. Life was going well for me; and I didn't expect it to change.

In fact, I was already halfway through my second year of Middle School when I heard news of any kind about my brother.

The news came rather unexpectedly. It was a normal day in the month of December when my childhood friend, Sakkun, came looking for me, bringing with him the accursed news that would haunt me for the rest of my life.

I could still remember how he had arrived in my school while wearing the uniform of his own High School, drenched in sweat as he interrupted the lesson I was attending. I would never forget that expression on his face as he dragged his feet towards my desk, collapsing on his knees next to me as he spoke those words.

"Hayato… he's dead."

What… kind of joke is this supposed to be? That was the first thought that came to my mind.

Hayato… the perfect son any mother could ever want… that Hayato… he, who was clever, polite, cheerful, obedient, smart, talented, sociable; everything I was not… my older twin brother, Hayato… dead?

He… died?

My mind simply went blank.

Later that day, I had followed him (my childhood friend Sakkun) to the hospital where my brother now was. I did not ask, nor say anything about the cause of his death… because the only thing I could remember that day was my mother's hysterical screaming.

"MY SON ISN'T DEAD!" I remembered hearing her cry out as she broke down in the hospital ward, grieving the loss of her 'only' son.

That day, I merely hid behind the door, not uttering a word.

And as I had expected, things would just become haywire during the funeral.

My father and I attended that day, to pay our last respects to my brother. But the first thing that Mother did when she saw me was to run over, calling out the name of my now dead older brother.

"Hayato! You're alive!"

Her face brightened up instantly as she reached out to touch my cheeks, as if she believed that Hayato had returned from the dead.

"Hayato! Thank goodness…" Mother chocked out as she started to cry. "You are Hayato, aren't you? Tell me, Hayato. Tell me the doctors were lying!"

She held me tight in her arms, embracing me into a tight hug.

"Hayato… Mother will never let you go again… never… Oh Hayato… my precious son."

It hurt.

It hurt to be mistaken for the perfect being that happened to be born as my brother. It hurt to have someone call me by the name of my brother, who was now gone for the world. Anger and hate started to swell somewhere deep within me.

"What are you talking about?" I heard my grandfather… Mother's father, speak as he stood behind her. "That is Tokiya, not Hayato."

"What are you saying, Father? It's definitely Hayato! My precious little Hayato wouldn't be so heartless to leave his mother behind all alone! He's the only son I have! If he's not by my side… I don't… I just can't imagine life without him!"

My head was clouded with so many thoughts; I couldn't think straight. I could only stand there, frozen like a statue as my mother stained my shirt with her tears.

It hurt for me to be mistaken for Hayato… but it hurt me so much more to see my mother like this. So I chose to make the ultimate sacrifice.

"Haya…to?" My mother looked up at me as I put my arms around her, returning her hug.

"Yes, Mother; it's me. Your beloved son, Hayato."

I chose to become my brother.

After the funeral was over, my mother brought me home with her, convinced that I was indeed, Hayato. My father, on the other hand, was not willing to let me go, but he understood my intentions without asking a single question. My mother was the only woman he had ever loved, after all. Neither of us wanted to see her in that state.

I know Mother never thought much of me, both as her son… and as a person. I know it might be a bad choice to deceive her into thinking that Hayato was still well and alive. Who knows how she would react when she discovers that I am not Hayato. Who knows how she would react when she finds out that 'Hayato' was lying to her.

But this is the very least I could do for my mother. Even if I had to lie to her, even if I have to deceive her… I don't want to see her face like that again.

"Hayato?" I heard my mother ask as she closed the door of the car behind her. "Is everything alright?"

"I'm fine, mother," I replied with a reassuring smile.

Thanks to a bit of help from the ever quick-witted Sakkun and my grandfather, Mother now believes that 'Hayato' is suffering from slight amnesia after falling out of bed and hitting his head on the bedside table. It was hilarious how anyone could believe something as stupid as that, but Mother did anyway.

The house looked the same as I had remembered those years ago. Yet something felt different about it. Is it because Hayato's no longer here…?

"Don't just stand there, dear; you'd catch a cold. Come on in; it's your home, after all."

It was my home, I mentally corrected as I stepped into the house for the first time in years. Even the inside of the house looked the same as it had been back then… except for one thing. The picture frame that was placed on the shoe cabinet… the picture that had the four of us, laughing happily together… it was gone.

As if moving on instinct, I made my way slowly up the stairs, walking aimlessly until I came face to face with a door. It felt as if something was drawing me to the room, as if it was calling me.

"This is your room, Hayato; do you remember?"

Hayato's room… huh…

I felt my fingers clasp around the metal knob, feeling the cool metal on my skin as I turned it, opening the door.

Hayato's room was not as extravagant as I had imagined it to be. In fact, it was rather… normal.

A simple bed in the corner of the room… a desk by the window cluttered with books and papers… a bookshelf with more papers sticking out between books… a wooden closet that stood against the wall… judging by its appearance, it was just like the room of any other teenage boy. But there was something different about it; I could tell.

Hayato… he's here. It may be something like a gut feeling but I could feel his presence here, in this room.

"Hayato? Is everything all right?"

My mother's voice snapped me out of my train of thought.

"Everything's perfectly fine, Mother. You don't have to worry about me," I replied, donning my brother's trademark smile to reassure my mother.

"That's good to hear. I'll be preparing dinner soon; I'll call you as soon as I'm done."

I was about to nod in reply when it hit me. My mother can't cook.

"Wait a minute, Mother! Let me…"

"Oh, be quiet you silly boy. You've just returned home after being away for so long. Be a good boy and stay in your room; I'm perfectly capable of doing everything by myself."

"I-If you insist…"

"Now that's my boy!" My mother beamed, giving a wave before closing the door of the room behind her.

Sighing, I sat down on the bed.

Now that I think of it, it might have been a bad choice to do this, after all. No, I'm not regretting the decision that I had made. Rather, I'm afraid to imagine Mother's reaction when she finds out that she's been deceived. With Mother's personality… and her state of mind, it'll be difficult to predict how she might react.

Let's not think about that now.

I glanced towards the desk. To be honest, I'm surprised Hayato is still as messy as ever… how does he live with all this clutter sticking out of so many places? I bet everything in his desk drawers would practically spill out the moment someone opens them…

… and it does. Now I have clutter on the floor as well. Goodness.

I bent down, picking up the bits and sheets of papers that have fallen out of the drawer. Stacking them together neatly, I held the stack in one hand, ready to stuff them back where they came spilling out from. It was then I noticed something that was lying at the bottom of the drawer.

An old photo frame, overturned so that no one could see the picture.

Setting the paper-stack on the bed, I picked up the wooden frame, turning it around to see the photograph that had been placed inside.

"This is…"

It was a picture taken long ago… a picture where the two of us where smiling together.

I felt my eyes water. After all those mean things I had said back then… those terrible thoughts that I had kept in me that were unleashed that day… despite the wall that I had built between us… despite all those years of not being able to see each other… he still valued our brotherhood that much?

Tears started flowing from my eyes. I squeezed my eyes shut, letting them flow down my cheeks. What was this feeling that just came over me?

Regret; because of the harsh words I said to him?

Sadness; because of the fact that he still thought of me as his brother?

Grief; because I would never have the chance to apologize to him?

Loneliness; because of he was no longer around?

I don't know. I can't tell what I was feeling. Hayato… Big brother… I'm sorry.

I know words and apologies are unless now. I know it wouldn't make a difference now. But… if I can atone for my sins… by taking your place in Mother's life… by casting away my own existence and continue living as you… as someone else…

I'm sorry.

I'm so, so sorry…

It was with those feelings that I had continued posing as my brother for the next two years.

Somewhere within those two years, I had joined the entertainment industry; according to Mother, Hayato had wanted to be an idol before his passing.

To be honest, I wasn't keen on the idea, but went along with it to please Mother.

Using her extensive connections, she managed to have 'Hayato' join the entertainment industry; on the day of HAYATO's debut, she was beaming as if she was the proudest mother in the entire universe.

When I first started out, it wasn't too bad; being an idol. The work was enjoyable and it felt… how do I describe it… it felt so natural to me. Especially singing. That was probably what I had enjoyed most about my work as HAYATO above all things.

But later on, everything changed.

My schedules became more and more hectic as my popularity grew. Work was no longer fun. I barely time for myself. I would attend lessons in school in the mornings and head down to the studio straight after that; by the time I got home it would be past midnight. Not to forget that I still had my homework to complete. It was so bad that I had actually considered dropping out of High School altogether.

My relationship with my mother started to become sour around that time as well.

Mother expected great things from 'Hayato'; but her expectations where far too great for a High School Student like myself to achieve. We didn't really quarrel, but the tension became so thick, one had to use something sharper than a knife to cut that tension between the two of us. Not literally, though.

That fateful day, everything just went out of order.

Mother had returned from work that day, her face scrunched up into a fierce scowl.

"Hayato! What's this I hear about you being third in the level?"

Around that time, I was so busy with my work as HAYATO that my grades started to drop. It hasn't fallen that much, but it had fallen enough to demote me from first to third place in my school. And apparently, dear Mother wasn't too happy to hear that.

"I apologize, Mother," I had wanted to rebel against her (must be those teenage hormones everyone was talking about), spewing out every little thing that had been on my nerves for the past year or so, but I just continued my Hayato façade. "Next time I will-"

"There is no next time, you hear me!" Mother shouted, raising her voice. "It's meaningless if you don't get first place! Even if you say that you could do it next time, you'd just fall lower and lower, wouldn't you."

I curled my hands into fists, but did not utter a word in reply. And I swear a vein was tempting to pop somewhere.

How unreasonable can she get?

"My son does not get anything other than first place, do you hear me? And my son will not be below others in anything and everything that he does! My son…"

"That's enough, Mother!"

Again, I did not know what came over me. I just let my emotions take control of my reactions, which only happens when I'm extremely pissed off. And that happened to be one of those moments. Or maybe it's those teenage hormones again.

Mother was shocked at my sudden outburst.

"How dare you shout back to your Mother! No son of mine would do something like that to me!"

She raised her hand as if she was going hit me; she was issuing a threat. I just remained looking straight into her eyes, with an expression that burned with the pent-up hate and anger that were suppressed.

I could tell that she had shuddered at the pressure of my glare.

"You… those eyes…"

She brought her hand down, hitting my left cheek hard. It left a stinging feeling that only served to fuel my anger even further.

"You're not Hayato, aren't you?" She started to become hysterical. "My son does not look at me like this! My son does not talk back to his mother with that kind of tone!"

"So you finally realized, huh?" I mumbled through my teeth.

Apparently she heard me loud and clear.

"Y-You're Tokiya, aren't you?"

That's rare; hearing her address me by my name. And here I was thinking that I would get to hear it with my own ears. In fact, I'm surprised that she actually remembered.

"What did you do with Hayato? What happened to him? What did you do to my son?" She cried out as she started hitting me, heavy enough to leave a light bruise, with clenched fists.

I let out a snort.

"Hayato, Hayato… it's always about Hayato, isn't it? Aren't I your son too? Are you so deeply traumatized that you have forgotten?" I took in a deep breath before shouting out the forbidden words. "Hayato's dead, Mother!"

My mother stopped her assault on me. She lowered her hands, as if she had lost the energy to even raise them.

"Hayato… he's dead? He's… gone?" I heard my mother whisper as her legs gave way, now kneeling on the ground with her face buried in her hands. "Hayato… he's… No... It can't be true."

"It's the truth; Mother. Why do you have to be so caught up in the past? Hayato, he…"

"LIES!" She turned her head, glaring at me. "YOU'RE LYING TO ME. HAYATO IS STILL ALIVE! YOU MUST HAVE HIDDEN HIM SOMEWHERE, HAVEN'T YOU?"

"Mother! I beg of you; face the reality! Hayato's dead and he's not going to come back anymore!"

"LIES! ALL LIES! HAYATO WOULD NEVER LEAVE HIS MOTHER!"

I could tell my mother was no longer conscious of her own actions. I backed away slowly, towards the front door of the house.

"RETURN MY HAYATO TO ME! RETURN ME MY SON!" Her screaming had already been hysterical for the past minute or two… and now it had just gotten worse. The screaming had stopped, but now she had completely collapsed onto the floor, breaking down in a fit of tears. "Hayato… oh, Hayato…"

I need to get out of here. That was the first thought that came to my mind.

It was pouring outside, but it didn't matter to me as I ran, as far as my legs would take me. As I ran, I reached into my pocket for my cellphone, dialing a number that I knew by heart.

"Tokiya?" My father's concerned voice called out as he answered. "What's the matter-"

"Father, I'm sorry to trouble you, but I need you to check up on Mother. She…" I couldn't finish the sentence. It was my fault after all, that Mother was like that now.

"I understand." My father's calm voice spoke. "I'll head there right away."

"Thank you so much… Father."

"Tokiya," My father paused before continuing. "It's not your fault… that she's like this now."

I couldn't say a word in reply to my father's statement. I am clearly to blame for Mother's condition. If I had not lost my temper and argued with her… if I had not decided to pose as Hayato… Mother might have been different now.

"Tokiya?"

"It's nothing, Father. I… I'll leave it to you."

Before my father could say another word, I cut the call. Holding my cellphone in my hand, I just continued running in the rain under the dark sky. With no destination in mind, the only thing in my mind was to run… run away from all those problems. In some way or another, I found myself at the park… the same old place where Hayato and I used to play together.

I settled myself on one of the benches, lost in thought.

Why? Why was it Hayato who had died… and not me? It would've been better that way, right? Hayato would never hurt Mother the way I did. Besides… he's a more valuable person to society compared to me. What can I do? All I do is hurt people. All I do is deceive people. I'm not like Hayato. We're brothers yet… I'm not like him at all. I'm a failure as a human being. My existence is not even needed in this world. I don't deserve to live. It would be better if... Maybe things would be better if…

"If I had been the one who was dead instead."

The rain continued pouring mercilessly down from the black sky above, staining my face with streaks of water that hid the tears that refused to stop overflowing.

"But that wouldn't change aaaaaaanything, don't YOU agree, Mr. HAYATO? No… Mr. Ichinose Tokiya?"

I looked up at the person who was now standing in front of me, holding out an umbrella that stopped the rain from hitting me. Little did I know that this encounter with this person would change my life forever.

"How… do you know my real name?"

"Those are small details at that you don't need to think about, Mr. Ichinose. YOU are 'MAN', aren't you? It's is perfectly okay for 'MAN' to cry; but after you cry, YOU must become stronger… stronger than anyone else. Do you understand what I am saying?"

I blinked at him.

Those words… they seemed to have touched my heart.

"Yes."

The man in front of me grinned, offering a hand as if he was trying to help me.

"You know who I am, doooooon't you?"

"You're…"


"Tokiya! Oi, Tokiya!" The sound of someone calling his name snapped Ichinose Tokiya out of his thoughts. "What the hell are you doing, standing here and daydreaming, huh?"

"Shou," Tokiya blinked, wondering why his fellow band-mates were standing in front of him. "Why is everyone here?"

"We all went out to get food," Masato explained, clearing his throat. "We managed pizza, cake, melon bread, soda, chips, fried chicken…"

"Masa, you forgot about the sushi!" Otoya interrupted as he balanced the plastic tray that contained the delicacy with one hand.

"And that special limited-edition tin of Piyo-chan cookies!" Natsuki chirped in.

"Not to forget booze for the older ones," Ren held up a bottle of wine, purposely forgetting that all but two were underage when he had bought it.

"And may I ask why did you guys get all this…?"

"Because we're crashing your place tonight!" the five of them spoke in unison, some with grins and apologetic smiles on their faces.

Tokiya sighed. "I should've known."

"Come on, let's go!" Shou yelled as he ran ahead. "The food's gonna get cold!"

"Or warm depending on what it is."

The group started walking, with Tokiya behind all of them.

"Tokiya? What's the matter?" Otoya asked as he turned around to check if Tokiya was with them, only to see Tokiya staring at the sky with a gaze that seemed to be looking at something at was at a far-off horizon.

"It's nothing." Tokiya gave a small smile as he followed behind them.

For Ichinose Tokiya, life had never been better than it could ever be right now.

Thank you for always watching over me… my one and only, best brother in the whole world… My brother, Hayato.