Disclaimer: Gakuen Alice is Higuchi Tachibana's
Izumi Yukihira-sensei of Alice Academy has a certain habit that his former students find endearing: he tuck candies on the back pockets of their skirts or pants. Yuzu, Fujiya, Meiji. Izumi has the heart to share his candies (lollipops are his favorite) to anyone.
As far as his former students' opinions are concerned, his habit is the only thing they can formulate as a valid reason why the accident happened to him.
If you're going to ask a former student, his/her reply will follow the lines: "He must've concentrated too much on carefully sneaking his sweets unto one's pocket unnoticed that he became unaware of the aged metal lamppost just around the corner of the High School Division."
They (his 'beloved' students) unnecessarily added to their argument: "Clumsy is Yukki's middle name."
It was a crisp afternoon in November when Izumi Yukihira-sensei walked dead-on a lamppost.
Also, the accident sported a bump the size of a Rhode Island Red egg.
"It's a first having these thoughts."
Kazu Yukihira slightly averted his gaze to trap his brother's hunched form on the hospital bed. He allowed Izumi leave to recuperate his bump (Kazu's care runs deep) for two days. "What kind of thoughts, Izumi?"
"We are family Izumi."
"Your pupils misses you."
Kazu paused for a while. He sensed Izumi's gaze.
"You wish to get married, Izumi?"
Izumi blinked. "Doesn't everyone?"
Kazu lifted a brow before going back to his book. "Sure, everyone."
Izumi crossed his arms. "Kazu-nii, why didn't you get married?"
"There is no one Izumi."
"Surely, there was an old flame somewhere..."
Izumi dropped the subject albeit reluctantly. "This is not helping."
Kazu turned a page of To Kill a Mockingbird. "Something troubles you."
"Or rather someone."
A sigh (the frustrated kind).
"Who is it?"
Izumi buried his face in his hands. "It's little Yuka."
A rustle of pages. "What's going on between you and Azumi-san?"
It was just like Kazu-nii, Izumi thought, to confront the problem from the get-go. "How come she can mess me like this?"
"Izumi, you have to be specific."
"She affects me." The younger Yukihira drummed his fingers on his thigh, another habit. "Greatly."
Scout and Jem was left in suspense as to what will happen between their father and the mad dog as Kazu placed his book on the table beside Izumi's bed. He reached over and took his brother's hand. "Tell me."
Tell me where it hurts.
A simple gesture, but it was a big one between brothers.
"Her gaze is different from the others. It affects me." Izumi's emotions bubbled to the surface. "I can't think at all. Also the physical pains." Izumi's laced his hands together." My chest hurt and I can't breathe. Whenever I see her, I just can't. I feel like being pulled underwater.
"I've never felt this way before."
Kazu can clearly see Izumi's distress. "I see."
"She used to be a crybaby. When I first met her, she didn't even reached my hip. She was so damn short and now..." Izumi trailed off, trying to find the right words to convey his thoughts.
"She filled the academy's uniform pretty nicely." Kazu finished for him.
The older Yukihira shrugged.
"I can't see her as crybaby Yuka anymore, that's why." Izumi pressed. "Right before my eyes, without me realizing, she blossomed into a beautiful woman.
"I can't sit still."
Kazu's eyes gleamed for one short second. "You heard about a certain admirer of course."
"Admirer?" Izumi regarded his brother. "Little Yuka has an admirer?"
"Shiki Masachika, the Middle School principal's nephew. He has his eye on her."
Izumi massaged his temple as he wondered if the man he saw with Yuka two days ago was Masachika. "My head hurts.
"This is hell."
"It is love." Kazu rose from his chair. "Pure and simple." He drew a C in the hospital's windowpane. (accumulated approximately three months of dust) "You have this irritating habit of complicating the very simplest of things. Makes me wonder if you are really a brother of mine."
"How do you know?" Kazu's answer annoyed Izumi. "You never had a woman."
Izumi's reaction reminded Kazu of a confused student during Arithmetic class. "I'm also a man Izumi."
"My Alice forbids me to." Kazu returned. "I had women, was in a relationship with them. I broke with them, made them cry." If there is one thing Kazu hate, it is a woman's tears. "And what do I hear of them? They are fifty and aged, expecting their first grandchild. Me?" Kazu motioned to himself. "I'm still stuck in a thirty-year-old timeframe."
"I watched my loved ones age and die." He spoke of this as if giving a definition to an unfamiliar word. "You are the only one left.
"I know love when I see one. I experienced it many, many times from the ghosts of my past."
Silence penetrated as the room grew cold. A hoot was heard as an owl hunted, the road a blur enveloped in pitch-black darkness. A single candlelight flickered, it's flame withstanding the slight outside breeze.
"Its not in my plans to fall in love with her you know." Izumi finally admitted, closing his eyes. Kazu neared closer to his brother's bed, laid a comforting hand on Izumi's shoulder. The latter appreciated the gesture.
Kazu patted his brother's own mop of blond hair, a shade very much like his own. "Poor Izumi. Confused and lost. Who would've known that this teacher is a famed leader of a motorcycle gang back in his hometown." A teasing, but affectionate.
"But the age gap..." Izumi squeezed his brother's arm. "God, I'm her teacher back in elementary school."
"It affects you, her age?"
The younger Yukihira nodded. "I'm old enough to be her father."
"Izumi, when you're eighty and she somewhere in sixty, it won't matter."
"You're afraid." Kazu concluded.
"I'm not." Izumi said in defense.
"You are." Kazu pressed. "You're afraid of giving a whole piece of yourself because up to now as a teacher, its always only a part of yourself." Kazu sat on the edge of Izumi's bed. "A little of the knowledge part, of the caring part. And your students love you. They're satisfied with your little trick. But Azumi..." Kazu shifted comfortably. "She's different.
"She wants all of you."
"She demands too much of me. I can't confront something I just realized right now."
"Izumi, the love isn't sudden. It started as like. Surely, you liked Azumi?"
"That I did." Izumi agreed. "And that's when the damn visions started."
"Visions? Is this somehow related to your earlier thoughts?"
Izumi released a gust of breath. "I keep on dreaming lately of me being married." He scrubbed his hands on his face as he stared on his brother with a troubled expression. "I keep on dreaming of her as my wife."
Kazu doesn't know what to say.
Izumi facepalmed. "See? I took the definition of 'lecher' in a whole new level. I thought its because I care for her as her teacher that I keep on thinking of her.
"But when you start thinking of a future with her, that's a wholly different story.
"You should've seen her with Sakurano and Imai. She's wonderful with kids." Izumi finished lamely.
Kazu didn't find anything to laugh about in Izumi's plight. He measured his response. "How do you know she's the woman?"
"Because I knew that if she's mine, I'll be happy." Izumi took his pillow and embraced it. "She makes me happy."
For the first time that day, Izumi's face is graced with a smile. "Because I can easily imagine what my life would be with her in the next twenty years. Thirty. Fifty." Izumi's eyes took a faraway gleam but the smile remained. "Just being next to her, it makes me think far beyond. I think of her not as a student anymore but as a woman. Two days ago affirmed my thoughts and it scared the hell out of me, I hit my head on a lamppost.
"She makes me happy but also miserable at the same time."
With pride in his brother, Kazu's eyes softened for a while. "You've grown wise somehow Izumi."
Gone is the darkness outside. The witching hours is past and a new day was born. Sparrows and robins chirped in greeting from their nests and the overnight dewdrops nourished the good green earth. A faint line of light grazed the window of Izumi's room. Together they viewed the breaking dawn and the miracle promised a wonderful day as Izumi realized his own.
"Kazu-nii, love doesn't make sense most of the time isn't it?"
"It isn't suppose to, as nature designed it to be."
Author's Note: This story is an attempt to explain the bond between brothers. Reviews and constructive criticisms are welcome! Also, this is an entry for the TR Post-Valentines Contest. Number of words: 1,465.