A/N: I've been reading and playing too much Project Zero 2. Yes. And I have feels and I wanted to give this thing a try because I had to. I just love these babies too much and I can't leave them alone. CAN'T. So here's my take at this. Or something.
Thanks to my lovely beta-reader, Vera The Awesome, for correcting my derps~
I do not own Fatal Frame/Project Zero or any of its characters, though I do own a copy of PZ2 Wii Edition these days! Awwyeaahh!
He watched Itsuki and Chitose pad around in the Twins' Room at their house. Chitose was holding a ball, trying to make her older brother play catch with her. The white haired boy ignored her efforts, just wandering around the room, glancing over his shoulder to check on her every now and then.
"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself," Mutsuki whispered, knowing that neither of them could hear him.
Chitose's ball rolled his way and he reached out for it. His hand went straight through the ball. His sisters little hand met his, but nothing happened. No warmth, no touch. Nothing.
"When is Mutsuki coming back, Itsuki?" Chitose whispered.
Itsuki stiffened. "I…" he started, but closed his mouth, refused to answer the question and tell her the truth. That Mutsuki wasn't coming back, ever. That Itsuki had killed his brother yesterday. He couldn't say it. It hurt too much.
Mutsuki stood up and walked towards his brother, wrapping his arms around him. Itsuki didn't move, almost as if he knew his brother was there. But then he moved, slipped right through Mutsuki's arms.
Itsuki and Chitose couldn't see or touch him. It was almost like he wasn't even there. Almost.
Days turned into months and months into a year. A year since he died. Since he had failed to become a butterfly. Mutsuki knew his brother still wept for him when he thought no one was around.
Mutsuki had never thought their ritual would fail; after all, they weren't the first pair of twins to be sacrificed. The night before their turn, Itsuki had cried in Mutsuki's chest, telling him how the ritual was wrong. That they weren't supposed to become one. They had been born separately for a reason. To be able to hold each other, live their own lives and achieve their dreams.
Mutsuki had brushed his fingers through his brother's hair, whispering comforting words into his ear. He didn't say it would be okay. Because it wouldn't. He also knew Itsuki would probably just be riled up more when he heard Mutsuki say something that was obviously a lie. So he had continued soothing him, their promise silent between them.
If our ritual were to fail… make sure Yae and Sae don't have to go through it next year.
Back then, Mutsuki had thought it would go just as planned. But when he hadn't returned as a butterfly, the villagers cursed and started muttering.
'Their bond was too strong.'
'We'll have to do it again.'
'How could this happen?'
'They loved each other too much.'
The whispers died down, eyes falling on the boy who was being held back by three Veiled Priests. He was crying and screaming. His hair had turned white from the loss of his brother, who he had killed with his own hands. Disgusted with himself, he hid his face in his hands, still moaning for his brother.
Mutsuki had watched, wishing he could reach out and let Itsuki know it was alright. But he couldn't.
The door of the Twins' Room opened and Itsuki slipped inside, his face set with determination. He moved towards his spot on one of the pillows and sat down.
"Mutsuki," he began, eyes cast on the ground. "Today is the day they will retry the… the ritual. I'm so sorry that I failed you. I will make it up to you. Yae and Sae will have to escape. The plan will work, brother. I… I just wish…" he wiped his tears that were leaving a wet trail on his cheeks. "I just wish we could have been together until we grew old and looked back at our childhood, laughing together."
He paused and collected himself. "They say I am the older one… but I almost can't believe that. You were always the voice of reason… the one who held me at night when I couldn't sleep…
"When I successfully make Yae and Sae escape, I'll… I will join you, brother. I can't go on like this… alone. I've been holding on until today. The day I could make up for my sins by helping our friends."
His voice got raspy and Mutsuki wondered silently when the last time had been when Itsuki talked this much. Probably the night before today… a year ago.
"I still miss you every day, Mutsuki. Every day, every hour… every minute." Itsuki got up again and rummaged around in one of the closets. He took out a rope and hit it under his robes.
"It's almost time. I… I hope I'll get to see you again…"
Mutsuki had watched as his brother helped Yae and Sae escape. He had seen how Yae hadn't noticed how her sister had fallen behind and had been recaptured. All he could do was look at how the villagers caught Itsuki and locked him up in the Tsuchihara storehouse, that functioned as a prison. He couldn't do anything to help when Itsuki committed suicide. He gazed upon how Sae found the lifeless body of her friend just before she was to be sacrificed. How the Repentance destroyed the village, the people killed in the progress haunted and reliving the day over and over.
He watched it all. Time and time again.
He couldn't remember how many times he had seen the same things play out before his eyes. Mutsuki was sitting on his usual place in front of the kimono in the Twins' Room at his house. He could softly hear Chitose's cries from upstairs, unable to do anything about them. He heard the people scream outside, footsteps and slashes of hatches.
Mutsuki closed his eyes. He had seen it all before. He knew what would happen next. Until… the door opened. His eyes snapped open again. The door hadn't been opened ever since Itsuki had closed it before time started repeating itself.
Yae stepped inside… no. It wasn't Yae. He hadn't seen her before. He sighed. It sometimes happened, that new people were spirited away to their village, caught in the repeating hours.
"Mayu?" the girl called out, her torch shining on the floor. "Mayu…"
He almost got excited. Perhaps the end was finally near… but he had learned to not get his hopes up. She probably just hadn't encountered a villager yet and died yet. He noticed her walk towards him, holding a camera in front of her face. She snapped a picture just as Mutsuki glanced over his shoulder to look at her.
A picture rolled out and she waved it around a few seconds. "A boy… Could… could he be Itsuki's brother?"
Mutsuki gasped, though she couldn't hear it. She had met Itsuki? She could see him on that picture? A small flame of hope finally stirred inside his chest, though he said that he should prepare to be disappointed once more.
He wouldn't be disappointed. Not long before the break of dawn, a crimson butterfly fluttered through the house. Eyebrows raised, Mutsuki followed the little sparkle of light towards the Heaven Bridge. He looked out over the city and noticed crimson butterflies everywhere. The butterflies were making their way up to Heaven, finally free, having watched over the village for so long.
The door to the Heaven Bridge opened, a bell chimed and a little figure slipped onto the bridge.
He turned his head to see Chitose standing there. Her face almost split in two with the enormous smile she was wearing. She ran forward and wrapped her arms around Mutsuki's waist. "I knew you'd come back, Mutsuki! I knew it! Itsuki and I have been waiting all this time for you to return."
He placed a hand on top of her head and she leaned in, smiling still. "I knew you'd come back." She finally looked around her and gasped when she saw the crimson butterflies.
"Ooh, Mutsuki. Look at that! What does that mean? I've never seen them act like this." She reached out her hand and a few butterflies touched her fingers, making her giggle.
"I think—" Mutsuki started, but was interrupted by the door opening once more, three little butterflies escaping through the opening first. He smiled and knew who it was. He looked up to see a blur of white throw itself in his arms. "I think it means we're free now."
"Itsuki, there you are!" Chitose chirped and grabbed one of Itsuki's sleeves, yanking it. "Look at the butterflies, Itsuki!"
Itsuki tightened his grip on his brother, burying his face in Mutsuki's shoulder. He didn't need to say anything. The feel of the body he hadn't held so long, the familiar touches of his brother beneath his fingertips. Mutsuki returned all the touches, brushing through his brother's white hair, down his neck to rest his hand on Itsuki's shoulder blade, pulling him close. Unsaid words flowing between them.
I'm so sorry.
I forgive you.
I missed you, Mutsuki… I was so lonely.
I've never been far.
I love you.
I love you too, Itsuki.
"Itsuki," Chitose whispered now, almost afraid to spoil the intimate moment between her brothers. "You have to look at the butterflies, Itsuki. I've never seen this many at once."
The white haired male finally peeked over his brother's shoulder, to look at the sky with a soft smile on his face. He rested his chin on Mutsuki's shoulder as he kept watching the butterflies.
Chitose made a pleased sound and tried to push herself in between her brothers. "I'm happy we're all together again."
Her brothers finally made some room for her, letting go of each other, now knowing there would be time for them alone later.
Chitose kept cheering and pointing at the butterflies. Itsuki rested his hands on the wood, watching the butterflies fly high up. Mutsuki did the same, almost unable to believe it. The repeating day of the festival was finally over.