Author's Note: Sorry, this episode is kinda a bummer. This is a more serious episode than the other ones, so be prepared to not laugh and be happy. Yeah, this episode will most likely make you just a teeny bit sad, and if it doesn't, it's probably for one of two reasons:
1. I suck at writing sad shit.
2. You are a heartless person.
But it's probably the first option, so don't sweat it. BTW, Slinky Fox, here's your lucky day- a chapter about the twins. Although I've been planning/writing this chapter for months, it's pretty awesome that you don't have to wait that long for the chapter! Slinky Fox and DD Leader Dark Heart of Water, thanks for recently following and reviewing my stories (I noticed!). Also, thanks to the rest of you, anonymous and non-anonymous readers alike, for waiting and putting up with me and my delays and me in general, you guys are awesome!
Anyhoo, I glumly present you this week's chapter. I would tell you to enjoy, but alas, this episode is less than enjoyable...so unenjoy :(
The Door The Twins Opened
Fraternal or identical, I believe all twins go through an identity crisis of some sort. Contrary to belief, twins are not carbon copies of each other and they spend their lives trying to prove that point. Some twins might wear different clothing styles, dye their hair different colors, take up different hobbies, or even do something as slight as parting their hair on opposite sides. Anything just to have people tell them apart. Many twins grow up trying to find differences among each other, but it wasn't like that with me and Koji. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we were separated at birth, but we didn't try to be polar opposites. In fact, I thought that despite being twins, we had barely anything in common. We both look like each other and we're both introverted, but that's probably where the similarities end.
Call me crazy, but I think I have a darker personality than Koji does. I get depressed quite often, but I cover it up with a smile. For the most part, people don't question it, but I won't forget the girl who saw through my mask. We didn't exchange many words, but it was like she could read my thoughts. I had never felt so exposed and vulnerable. I was relieved when she finally softened her gaze, smiled at me, and moved on. I can't remember exactly what she looked like, those emerald green eyes were the only thing I remembered. Besides her, Koji is the only other person who really knew how I was feeling with just one glance.
Just as he can see right through me, I can see right through him as well. Unlike me, Koji actually likes to look miserable. He's not good at expressing happiness, so he just slaps a scowl on his face and pretends to be grumpy. Why someone would want to hide their happiness is beyond me. It's pretty easy to hide darkness with the light, but it takes a really skilled person like Koji to try to hide the light with darkness. The day I met Koji for the first time was the best day of my life. Before I met him, I remember feeling lost and incomplete. I couldn't place what it was, but there was this nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me that a part of me was missing. I wasn't sure what it was until the time came.
Two years ago...
"Honey, can you do me a favor?" Ms. Kimura asked.
"I'm coming," Kouichi grabbed a box of IcyHot patches and went to his mother's room.
"Thank you," Ms. Kimura smiled.
"It's nothing," Kouichi carefully placed the patches on several areas of his mother's back.
"I work as hard as possible, but you deserve more than this," Ms. Kimura sighed.
"Mom. I have what I need, and that's the only thing that matters," Kouichi said.
"You're the best son a mother could ever have. I just wish I could do more-ohhh," Ms. Kimura slowly got up from her chair and cringed.
"Mom! Are you okay?" Kouichi rushed over to her.
"I'm fine," Ms. Kimura steadied herself and gave him her trademark feeble smile. Kouichi found himself also making the same expression often, so he joked to himself about how the weak smile must have been hereditary. The Kimura smile, he dubbed it.
"Hey! Why don't we find you a less stressful job?" Kouichi said. He did this same song and dance every day, purposely making himself sound like he came up with the idea on the spot. His mother was so distracted all of the time, she probably hadn't noticed that Kouichi would make this suggestion on a daily basis. And yet again, she hadn't.
"It's not as easy as you think. Besides, this job wears me so thin, I don't even have time to look for another job," Ms. Kimura sighed.
"I'll take care of it for you! I'll look in the newspaper, I'll search up job openings on the internet, I'll even make you a LinkedIn!" Kouichi eagerly said.
"Kouichi," Ms. Kimura sternly said.
"I can always get a job! Then I'll be able to help out with the bills," Kouichi said.
"You shouldn't be worried about money. You should be more focused on your schoolwork and having fun. You're only a kid once, so enjoy it while you still can," Ms. Kimura gave her son a weak smile.
"I'm just looking out for you," Kouichi looked down at the floor.
"I know, and I love you for it. You're a sweet, thoughtful boy. Well, I have to get to work now. Go to the park and play with your friends. I'll see you later," Ms. Kimura grabbed her keys, kissed the top of Kouichi's head, and dashed out of the apartment.
"Okay," Kouichi stared at the doorway. It was summer vacation, and he felt so unproductive. A lot of kids were excited for summer break so they could be lazy, but Kouichi was excited for a different reason. He still woke up at the same time to help his mom get ready for work, and when she left, he did chores. The apartment was virtually spotless, since Kouichi regularly cleaned every nook and cranny. Because of that, Kouichi only had to spend an hour max to upkeep the house. He then had the rest of the day left to his devices, which he planned on using wisely. With school out of the way, Kouichi could finally do what he's always wanted to do without having his mother find out about it.
"Have fun," Mrs. Minamoto timidly said.
"Hmph," Koji snorted. In a poor attempt to help him make friends, Mrs. Minamoto dragged him to VBS so he could be around other kids in a positive environment. Koji saw nothing positive about it though. "Vacation" and "school" were two words that just didn't mix. "Vacation" and "bible" was an even worse combination. Koji contemplated skipping VBS, so he turned around to see if his stepmother was still there. She was.
"Don't be shy. Go in," Mrs. Minamoto smiled obliviously.
"Ugh," Koji grunted and entered the classroom.
"Heller there," an older, black woman sat in the middle of the classroom. She had gray hair, huge glasses, and she was pretty large. Koji thought she could pass for a man dressed up as a grandmother. "Take a seat, young girl," the large woman said. All of the chairs were arranged in a circle around her.
"I'm a guy," Koji grunted.
"Well, you sure could have fooled me. Now sit your ass down," the lady snapped.
"You said the a-word!" a little boy gasped. He had short, brown hair which was covered up by a huge mushroom-looking hat. He looked like he was about 8 years old.
"You mean the word 'ass'? Ass ain't a bad word, because there is a lot of ass in the Bible. You should taked a look at it some day," the woman adjusted her glasses.
"..." Koji tried to stifle his laughter. This was going to be a lot more fun than he expected.
"What's so hilarious?" the woman glared at Koji.
"Nothing," Koji cleared his throat.
"Good. There better be nothing," the woman said, almost in a threatening tone. She checked out her watch, scanned the room, and stole another glance at her watch. "Is this all of you?"
"Guess so," an overweight boy looked down at his lap. He wore a blue jumpsuit with blue pockets. The kid probably stole it from a mechanic, because where else would you find a monstrosity like that? Especially one big enough to fit that kid.
"That's okay with me. Makes my communion service a lot easier," the woman laughed.
"Communion service?" a blonde girl raised an eyebrow. She wore a striped belly shirt, lavender sleeveless hoodie, and matching skirt. Koji took a quick glance at her. She only said two words and Koji already thought her voice was annoying. Such a shame, because she was kind of cute.
"Yes, dearie. Communion service. Hopefully you won't get into any trouble with law enforcement, 'cause Lort! They be pains in my ass. I could have ended up sharing a cell with Martha Stewart, but the good grace of Got saved me from having to fight for my virgility! I ain't a fan of this communion service, but if I can just make it through this week, I'll be free- until the next time another cop wants to start trouble with me," the woman said.
"So does that mean you're a criminal?" a tan, stupid-looking boy raised his hand up in the air. Koji immediately rolled his eyes at him. It wasn't about what the boy said, but more about the fact this kid had goggles over his hat. That kid should have been wearing a helmet instead. And what was up with those gloves? Koji kept critiquing this kid's outfit until he realized that what he was doing was wrong. He shouldn't be making fun of what people were wearing. Only girls and homos make fun of people's clothes, and Koji was neither a girl or a homo.
"No, I is not no criminal. Now put your hand down before I snap it off and slap you silly with it," the woman said.
"Okay," the boy slowly lowered his arm down.
"Before I get started, let me introduct myself. The court peoples refer to me as Mabel Simmons, but since we're not in court, please call me Madea. That's right. Ma to the damn Dea! You got that?" the woman said.
"Yes, Madea," the children said.
"Why don't you tell me who you are? Introduct yourselves. Let's start with you," Madea pointed to Koji.
"Hi. I'm Koji," Koji blandly said.
"Nice to meet you, Koji. What brings you here?" Madea asked.
"My stepmom," Koji huffed.
"Boy, are you trying to be fresh with me? You know what I do to kids who think they can give me an attitude?" Madea shuffled through her large purse and pulled out a gun.
"Uh...," everyone gasped.
"I gots to clean out my purse. I always forget to do that," Madea huffed.
"This woman is insane," Koji muttered.
"Anything else you want to add?" Madea polished her gun.
"Nope. I'm good," Koji shook his head.
"Hmph. Little kids be giving out attitudes, no wonder so many of your parents be on Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey. Whatever happened to the good old days of respecting your elders? I blame those gameboys and stupid parenting, that's what that is! Your parents need to give you beatdown, that will fix any trifling child, I tell you," Madea ranted.
"Sorry," Koji shrugged.
"Hmm...," Madea narrowed her eyes at him and then turned to face the fat kid in the jumpsuit. "Alrighty, why don't you tell us a little about yourself?"
"Well, my name is...blah blah blah blah," was all Koji heard. He couldn't give a rat's ass about these kids. What was the point? It's not like they were going to see each other after VBS was over. He was about to doze off, but the blonde girl began to talk. It sounded like she said her name was Chloe, but Koji wasn't sure. He wasn't paying much attention anyways.
*beepbeep beepbeep beepbeep*
"Ahhh!" the little boy shrieked.
"Aw, damn. I gots to go to my stupid parole meeting. If I'm late to this, they're gonna put me under house arrest. I don't know what for, they afraid that I'll kill someone? I ain't give them no reason to be scared of me, but they want one, oooh...I'll give them a reason. Goodbye children. I'll see you again tomorrowr," Madea toddled out of the room.
"The hell you will," Koji muttered.
"Talk about a crazy class, huh?" the blonde girl trailed behind Koji.
"..." Koji bobbed his head up and down, pretending like he was listening to music. If this girl got the message, maybe she'll leave him alone.
"Hey! I was talking to you!" the girl snapped.
"..." Koji kept on ignoring her.
"Ugh! I see what you're doing!" the girl grunted in disgust. "Well, next time you pretend you can't hear me, at least have the decency to wear headphones!"
"..." Koji stiffened up and turned red. He thought he did have his headphones on, but he left them at home. Now he just looked like an idiot, and the girl knew it.
"Jerk," the girl scoffed. She turned her nose up in the air and dramatically walked away.
"..." Koji snorted and gave a slight nod in her direction.
"Koji! Koji! Hi!" Mrs. Minamoto excitedly waved. "How was class?"
"The VBS teacher is a convict," Koji snidely remarked.
"Oh," Mrs. Minamoto pursed her lips.
"Mom, I'm going to grab a coffee. Do you want me to bring you something?" Ms. Kimura held her mother's hand.
"No thank you. I can't eat or drink," her mother croaked.
"I'll be right back," Ms. Kimura said.
"Okay," Kouichi glumly looked down at his feet. He awkwardly slumped in a stiff chair, right next to his grandmother's bedside. He didn't dare look up; he was too disturbed by the sight of all the beeping machines attached to his grandmother. Even though there was a sitcom playing on the TV, Kouichi just couldn't bring himself to look up.
"Kouichi," his grandmother said in a raspy tone.
"Yes, Gramma?" Kouichi reluctantly looked at her.
"I have to tell you something. This might be the only chance I have with you alone," his grandmother wheezed.
"What is it?" Kouichi could feel his palms get clammy.
"You need to know you have a brother. His name is Koji."
"What?" Kouichi abruptly stood up. "Where is he? What happened to him? Is he still alive?"
"I don't know. It's been a long time since I've seen him," Grandma Kimura slowly shook her head. "You two were just babies when your parents separated."
"Oh," Kouichi quietly said. It almost felt like someone karate kicked him in the chest.
"Kouichi, I don't want you to pass through life being lonely. You might not see it now, but there are people out there who care about you and want to be with you. You don't want to end up like your mother. Don't be afraid to put your heart on the line and don't push people away. Your mother made those mistakes and I don't want you making the same ones. Not many people were as lucky as her, to have a son that sticks to her side and watches over her. You saved her life," Grandma Kimura whispered.
"I did?" Kouichi shook.
"You did. She was about to give everything up, but she saw you and she just knew she couldn't quit. You motivate her to keep going strong. I might not be around for much long-"
"Nonsense! Don't talk like that!" Kouichi held on to her hand.
"Kouichi, my time is coming. It's the end of the line for me," Grandma Kimura whispered.
"No," Kouichi shook his head.
"Kouichi, you're too young to let yourself get cold and bitter. You still have life to experience. Yes, you will stumble upon many hardships and heart breaks, but you will also go through happy times and laughter. Life isn't perfect, but we have to make the best of it, okay?" Grandma Kimura weakly grabbed onto Kouichi's hand.
"Okay," Kouichi nodded.
"I've lived a long life. There were some things I've regretted, but I would say I'm satisfied how things turned out. All I can hope for is that when you look back on your life, that you feel the same peace I feel...," Grandma Kimura gave Kouichi a feeble smile and began to relax her grip.
"Gramma," Kouichi held tighter onto her hand.
"I'm going to take a little nap," Grandma Kimura closed her eyes and her hand went limp.
"Gramma, no!" Kouichi cried.
"Kouichi! What happened?" Ms. Kimura dashed into the room and held her son.
"She's gone...she's gone," Kouichi voice trembled.
"Kouichi! What happened?" Ms. Kimura walked into Kouichi's room. "Did you have another flashback?"
"It was nothing," Kouichi sat up in his bed.
"If you say so. Go back to sleep," Ms. Kimura said.
"No. I'll help you get ready for work," Kouichi got out of bed.
"You don't have to do that," Ms. Kimura shyly smiled.
"It's okay. I'm already up," Kouichi said.
"Thanks. Can you help me put this on?" Ms. Kimura handed Kouichi a red box.
"A wrist brace?" Kouichi looked at the packaging.
"It's nothing. My wrist is just being finicky, that's all," Ms. Kimura shrugged it off.
"Are you sure?" Kouichi asked.
"Yes. And even if I wasn't sure, what could I do about it anyways, right?" Ms. Kimura forced a smile.
"Okay," Kouichi looked down at the floor.
"I'll see you tonight," Ms. Kimura grabbed her purse and left.
"Bye," Kouichi murmured. His mom was a waitress who had very long shifts.
Kouichi remembered a time where his mom got an extra job and worked night shifts at a bar. Some of Kouichi's classmates teased him about it, calling his mom a stripper. Kouichi didn't know what a stripper was at the time, but he wasn't going to let the kids know that. He didn't want to give them another reason to harass him. Kouichi remembered going to the library after school. After hearing the word "stripper" being thrown at him multiple times, he decided to look it up the library computer. He didn't get too far in his research though. A librarian walked past him, grabbed him by the ear, and kicked him out of the library. He didn't even have a chance to look at the search results. Although the incident happened years ago, Kouichi was too scared to step into the library again. If he needed to get his homework done, he would go to the library on the other side of the district.
His mother got him a laptop computer for Christmas last year, so Kouichi didn't have to make a trip to the library anymore. He looked up the average stripper's yearly income online, and that's when it was confirmed that his mom was not a stripper. If that were the case, Kouichi would assume that they would be living in a bigger apartment. His days of googling strippers were over now. This time, Kouichi was on a mission to find his brother. He didn't want to tell his mother about it. She had enough to be worried about. Kouichi knowing about his brother would probably stress her out emotionally, and he didn't want to put that on her. The last thing a mother would want to talk about is how she had to give up one of her kids, never to be seen again.
Kouichi remembered how panicked he was when he first tried to track Koji down. There were so many Koji's in Japan, how was Kouichi going to find him? What if Koji wasn't even in Japan anymore? Koji heard of many kids who moved overseas to the States or other parts of the world. He didn't know anything about Koji, except for his name. Even though Kouichi was beginning to feel discouraged, it wasn't going to stop him from trying to find his brother.
Hoping to narrow down the search, Kouichi looked for his birth certificate. His mom kept it safe with all the vital records and there really wasn't a legitimate reason for Kouichi to need his birth certificate, but that one piece of paper was more helpful than Kouichi expected it to be. His grandmother never specified if Koji was an older or younger brother- or if he and Koji even shared the same parents. Kouichi's birth certificate said that he was a twin, so that had to mean that Koji was his twin brother.
It was the last day of VBS and Koji couldn't have been any more relieved. Madea didn't show up for the rest of the week, so it was one substitute after substitute. None of them made it past a day, so the kids got a new teacher every day. "Hi diddly doo!" a yellowish-looking man happily greeted Koji. He had a bushy mustache and he wore thick-lenses spectacles and a green sweater over a pink oxford shirt.
"Um, hi...," Koji raised an eyebrow.
"My name is Ned Flanders, but you can call me Mr. Flanders," the man goofily said.
"Sure...," Koji pressed his lips together.
"Since this is the last day of VBS, we're going to make some fine and dandy birdhouses," Mr. Flanders guffawed.
"What do you think of mine?" the kid with the googles held his birdhouse up to show everyone. It was mostly a glop of glue with a couple of pipe cleaners and Popsicle sticks fused together.
"No comment," Koji snorted.
"Like you're an expert on making houses anyways. At least Takuya's having fun- something you should learn how to do," the blonde girl retorted.
"She's right! God doesn't care how good you are at something. As long as you try your best and have a humble heart, that's the only thing that matters! Now don't be shy! Sit down and get to making your birdhouse," Mr. Flanders said.
"Fine," Koji shrugged and took a seat next to the fat kid. Koji glanced at his cell phone and groaned. This last day was definitely going to drag on.
"While we make the birdhouses, why don't we sing a song?" Mr. Flanders smiled and started to sing. "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart to stay! Ready to sing along?"
"..." the kids were quiet.
"Hmm, maybe that was a bit complex for you. How about this? Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham, I am one of them and so are you, so let's all praise the Lord. Your turn!" Mr. Flanders egged them on.
"..." again, the kids were silent.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of here! Let's sing along!" Mr. Flanders said.
"It's not that we're ashamed-"
"I am," Koji interrupted the blonde girl.
"We just don't know these songs because we never go to church," the blonde girl said.
"Bygones! You never go to church?" Mr. Flanders gasped.
"Nope," the little boy shook his head.
"The only reason I'm here is because my mom dragged me here. She needed someplace to dump me, and this is the only place that she could do it for free," the gogglehead peeled glue off his hands.
"Same here!" the fat boy said.
"Well, I'm here because my mom said that this would be a good place to make new friends!" the little boy said.
"So none of you are Christian?" Mr. Flanders covered his mouth.
"Nope," Koji said.
"Well, we have to fix that right now! Drop everything you're doing, because we're going to make a prayer circle. Come on kids," Mr. Flanders said.
"Uh...," the kids looked at him, dumbfounded.
"Oh, my bad! I forgot to tell you what a prayer circle is! Alright, so all of us are going to stand in a circle and hold hands," Mr. Flanders instructed.
"Ick...," Koji curled his upper lip in disgust. He stood next to the blonde girl, who was reaching out for his hand.
"I'm not too thrilled about this either. You should be lucky, this might be the only chance you'll have to hold a girl's hand," the blonde girl reluctantly held on to Koji's hand.
"Don't get too full of yourself," Koji snorted.
"Now bow your heads and close your eyes while I say a prayer," Mr. Flanders said. "Dear Heavenly Father, I'd like to thank You for bringing us here today. If it weren't for you, oh Father, blah blah blah..."
"Hmm," Koji groaned. He tried to reach inside his pocket for his phone without making it look obvious.
"Are you seriously checking your phone in the middle of the prayer?" the blonde girl hissed in his ear.
"How does that make me any different from you? You're talking in the middle of the prayer," Koji smirked.
"Hey, what are you guys talking about?" the goggle boy said at normal volume. All of the kids instantly sucked in their breath and looked at Mr. Flanders, who still seemed to be too enraptured in his prayer to even notice the kids talking.
"I just pray that you'll give these kids what they've been missing, make them whole again. Thank you for everything you have done for us and everything that you will do for us. Amen," Mr. Flanders finished praying.
"Is it over now?" Koji asked.
"Wow, the time went by pretty quickly. I guess this is it. You can pick up your birdhouses and go home now. I hope to see you all on Sunday!" Mr. Flanders said.
"But I didn't finish my birdhouse yet," the fat kid frowned.
"Don't worry, you can always finish it at home! Have a good rest of the day, children!" Mr. Flanders ushered the kids out of the classroom.
"Bye," the kids said.
"Finally," Koji muttered. He walked a couple of blocks down to the train station. He felt like someone was following him, but he didn't want to turn around, in case it happened to be one of those VBS kids. He abruptly stopped walking. His suspicions were right.
"Um, if you're just going to stand there, can you at least move to the side so that the rest of us can have some room to walk on the sidewalk?" the blonde girl huffed.
"Excuse me?" Koji looked at her in disbelief.
"She said that you should stop standing in the middle of the sidewalk so that the rest of us can pass through," the gogglehead said.
"It's kind of a pain, especially when the sidewalks are always busy," the fat kid said.
"I could move to the other side of the street and you still wouldn't have enough room to walk, fatty," Koji snorted.
"Why are you so mean?" the little boy whimpered.
"Don't even bother with him, Tommy. He's just a jerk. Let's go, everyone," the blonde girl said as she led the boys toward the train station.
"Hmph," Koji snorted. Whatever, he really couldn't care about these kids. It would be the last time he would see their faces, and in a couple of weeks, they would forget about him anyways. He walked down the stairs leading into the subway when he heard someone chasing after him.
"Oh great," Koji mumbled. He started to walk more quickly, so that it looked like he was casually strolling, and not trying to run away. He didn't want to look like he was scared, but the last thing he wanted was to be with one of those VBS freaks. What made them think they could go ahead and try to make friends with him in the first place? People seriously had some nerve.
"Koji! Wait uh-"
"What the...," Koji turned around. The train station suddenly stood still and gradually filled with gasps and murmurs. Koji looked at the kid sprawled out face-down at the bottom of the stairs. Koji could see the VBS kids staring from the corner of his eye. He then looked back at the seemingly unconscious boy. Koji didn't really pay attention in VBS, but he didn't remember this kid being there.
"Are you okay?" the blonde girl strode past Koji and went up to the unconscious boy. The rest of the VBS kids followed her, but Koji just stood in place.
"I'm fine," the boy weakly sat up. As soon as he showed signs of life, everyone went back to their regular duties.
"Were you calling for me?" Koji shuffled over to the boy. He was immediately taken aback. This boy looked like he could be related to Koji. In fact, if Koji cut his hair, he might look exactly like this kid.
"It's actually you," the boy gasped.
"Uh...who are you?" Koji raised an eyebrow.
"My name's Kouichi and I'm your twin brother," the boy said.
"Wha...?" Koji gave him a strange look.
"You have a twin brother?" the little boy asked Koji.
"You must be mistaken. I don't have a brother. I'm just an only child," Koji said to Kouichi.
"Are you sure? You guys look almost alike!" the blonde girl raised an eyebrow at Koji.
"We're brothers. Our parents divorced when we were younger, and they split us up. I didn't even know you existed until a couple of months ago," Kouichi said.
"I think you have the wrong guy. My mom died right after I was born," Koji said.
"This seems like it's getting a little personal now," the fat kid bit his lip.
"He's right. We should go. Do you need any help getting up?" the blonde girl asked Kouichi.
"No, thank you. I'm fine," Kouichi shook his head.
"Alright then," the girl stared at Kouichi for a couple of seconds and then smiled at him. Koji could have sworn Kouichi shivered for a second. "Bye! Try to be more careful!" the blonde girl then said.
"I will," Kouichi quietly mumbled as he watched the VBS kids head on their way to the ticket kiosk.
"I'm sorry, but I should get going. I don't want to miss my train," Koji said.
"No! I know you're my brother! You're Koji Minamoto," Kouichi said.
"Yeah, but just because you know my name doesn't make us brothers," Koji said.
"Then explain how we look alike," Kouichi said.
"It's not too hard to find a dark-haired person in Japan," Koji said.
"Well, is your father's name Michael Minamoto?" Kouichi asked.
"Look, you're freaking me out, so I'm just gonna go," Koji shook his head and began to walk past Kouichi.
"Wait! Is your birthday on June 6?" Kouichi asked.
"How did you know?" Koji turned around.
"Because June 6 is my birthday. If that doesn't mean we're twins, then I don't know what does," Kouichi said.
"I can't believe it...this has to be a prank. I've been living a lie this entire time," Koji rubbed his temples. "How long have you known about me?"
"A couple of months," Kouichi answered. "My grandmother told me about you before she died. If it weren't for her, I don't think I would have even known you existed. Mom never mentioned you."
"I thought my mom was dead for a long time, and now that I found out she's alive, she never talked about me?" Koji yelled.
"I've always known that Dad...," Kouichi shuddered. "Sorry, I just can't bring myself to call him Dad...well, did he ever talk about me?"
"No. I guess that was a stupid thing to say," Koji sheepishly said. "I wonder why our parents wanted to keep us a secret. Did it ever occur to them that we might meet up one day?"
"Probably not. My mom doesn't even know I tried to look for you. She has enough to stress out about, the last thing she needs to hear is that I know about you," Kouichi said. "So what should we do from here?"
"We'll respect our parents' wishes. Let's keep this a secret," Koji smirked.
"Huh?" Kouichi cocked his head to the side.
"Yeah. We should meet up somewhere, and not tell our parents about it. If they want to keep it a secret, then that's what they'll get," Koji smirked.
A year later...
Kouichi and Koji hung out almost every day during the summer break, but when school was back in session, the boys only saw each other on the weekends. A year had passed after the twins met each other and they still never told their parents about it. It was hard for Koji to keep it a secret; although his dad worked all the time, his stepmom was always trying to get involved in his life. A year ago, Koji wouldn't really care about keeping his stepmom in the dark, but now he felt a little bad about it. Koji had just started to warm up to his stepmom, and it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Kouichi. Although Kouichi never met his stepmother, he helped Koji understand and be easy on his stepmother by looking at things from her perspective. Koji finally realized that she still wanted to be there for him, even though he was continuously rude to her. It must have been hard for her; Koji would have never kept trying to be nice to someone who was a jerk to him, but his stepmom never lost her temper at him. From then on, Koji started to accept her and listen to her without giving a bad attitude. Koji was just hoping that he made a good impact on Kouichi as Kouichi did for him.
"Something on your mind?" Kouichi asked.
"I'm just thinking," Koji had his hands in his pockets.
"About what?" Kouichi looked at him.
"I just hate not telling our parents about us," Koji shrugged.
"But I thought you said it was better if we don't," Kouichi said.
"I know, but I don't know if I can hide it any longer. I want to be able to hang out with you more without worrying about my parents finding out," Koji said.
"Maybe we still can. We could go to the same school next semester," Kouichi said.
"What are you talking about? We live too far apart from each other," Koji shot his brother a weird look.
"That doesn't matter. Take a look at this," Kouichi pulled a green flyer out of his pocket.
"Register for Odaiba High School and get a free 32" HDTV while supplies last. What is this?" Koji eyed the paper suspiciously.
"Apparently, the Odaiba school district doesn't have enough students in it. If they can't fill up the classrooms, the school district will have to shut down and a lot of people will lose their jobs, so the Tokyo city government is trying to get kids from other school districts to transfer over to Odaiba," Kouichi said.
"I think the school will do fine on their own. Odaiba is probably the biggest tourist trap after Akihabara," Koji snorted.
"I think you're missing the picture. If we both enroll to Odaiba, then we could actually go to the same school together," Kouichi said.
"Oh...," Koji looked at the flyer.
"And we could probably get TVs if we sign up quickly, so we should try to convince our parents as soon as possible," Kouichi eagerly said.
"Do you want to go to Odaiba so that we could be together? Because it sounds like you're only in it for the TV," Koji had a stone-cold expression on his face.
"Of course not!" Kouichi stuttered.
"I was just kidding," Koji jokingly elbowed Kouichi in the ribs. "But the TV would be a nice bonus."
"We'll tell our parents tonight," Kouichi said.
"But what if they ask why we want to go there? I know my stepmom will try to pull reasons out of me," Koji said.
"TV?" Kouichi shrugged.
"I don't know...," Koji rubbed his chin. "I don't think she'll buy it."
"Then make up other reasons- just don't say anything about me," Kouichi said.
"I'll try," Koji scuffed his feet against the ground.
"You want to go to school in Odaiba?" Mr. Minamoto scoffed at the flyer.
"Uh, yeah...," Koji rubbed his arm.
"Why would you want to do that?" Mrs. Minamoto asked.
"Because they're giving out free TVs to people who enroll," Koji said.
"You know, we could just get you a TV when your birthday comes around," Mr. Minamoto said.
"But...," Koji paused. "But I want a TV now?"
"Son, is that a question or a statement?" Mr. Minamoto frowned.
"Come on, Dad! If I transfer to Odaiba, we could get a free TV and that would save us a couple hundred dollars!" Koji said.
"If you want the TV now, we'll buy it for you, but you're not getting anything for your birthday," Mr. Minamoto said.
"You don't understand! It's a free TV! FREE!" Koji hated sounding like a parrot, but it was better than to tell his dad about Kouichi.
"Okay, okay, I get it. Free TV. But do you really want to go to Odaiba just so you can get a TV?" Mr. Minamoto raised an eyebrow.
"What about your friends?" Mrs. Minamoto asked.
"I can always see them on the weekends," Koji nonchalantly said.
"Are you sure that this is what you want? You know, once we sign you up for Odaiba, you can't go back to your old school," Mrs. Minamoto looked concerned.
"I've made up my mind. Odaiba or bust," Koji stood akimbo.
"You're aware that they have to wear uniforms, right?" Mr. Minamoto said.
"Wha...," Koji choked, then cleared his throat. "I mean, that's okay with me. Gives me less time to get ready in the morning."
*buzz buzz* Kouichi's cell phone vibrated.
"It's from Koji," Kouichi swiped his finger across the screen and pressed the messaging button to read the text.
Koji: My stepmom's taking me to Odaiba tomorrow! How is it going with you?
Kouichi: I haven't told my mom yet.
Koji: WHAT?! Why not?!
Kouichi: Because I'm waiting for my mom to get home from work.
Koji: Oh. My bad.
Kouichi: Don't worry about it.
Koji: Whatever you do, try to convince your mom to take you to Odaiba tomorrow. Maybe we can plan it so that our parents "run into" each other.
Kouichi: Like The Parent Trap?
Koji: ...I have no idea what you're talking about.
Kouichi: It's a movie about these twins who were separated at birth and they try to get their parents reunited again.
Koji: Casting judgement on you right now -_-
Kouichi: What? It's a good movie...
"Honey, I'm home!" Ms. Kimura hung her purse on the coat rack.
Koji: Okay. TTYL.
"Hey Mom! How was your day?" Kouichi shoved his phone in his pocket.
"Eh, the usual. Can't complain. How about you? You look like you want to talk about something," Ms. Kimura smoothed her hand over Kouichi's messy hair.
"Well, you're right...," Kouichi took in a deep breath.
"What's on your mind?" Ms. Kimura asked.
"I saw this flyer and I was interested," Kouichi pulled a yellow paper out of his pocket. He gave Koji his original flyer, but he luckily found another one stapled to a bulletin board on his way home.
"Register for Odaiba High School and get a free 32" HDTV while supplies last...," Ms. Kimura raised an eyebrow. "I don't know how I feel about this. It sounds like a scam to me."
"But it's not! I even did the research! The flyer's even posted on the Odaiba board of education page!" Kouichi pointed to his computer screen. He figured his mom would be skeptical from the start, so he had his computer ready ahead of time.
"Hmm...that's something new," Ms. Kimura rubbed her chin as she looked at the computer.
"Can I go to the school?" Kouichi asked.
"I don't know. I have a weird feeling about this," Ms. Kimura frowned.
"But how nice would it be to have a brand new TV in the living room?" Kouichi sang.
"We have a perfectly working TV right there," Ms. Kimura pointed to a small box TV in the corner.
"Think about it, we can get a free TV and all I have to do is go to Odaiba for the next four years," Kouichi said.
"I was considering it, but now it's a no," Ms. Kimura stood up and walked to the kitchen.
"What? Why?" Kouichi followed her.
"Kouichi, you shouldn't treat school like a cell phone contract. If you transfer, it should be because you want to, not because you'll get a free TV. Besides, you know that the more students they have, the more funding the school gets. I think it's better if the money stayed in Shinjuku. This town definitely needs it more than Odaiba does," Ms. Kimura wiped down the already-cleaned countertop.
"Just like Koji...," Kouichi mumbled.
"What did you say?" Ms. Kimura cocked her head to the side.
"I said...they're so bougie," Kouichi said.
"What's bougie?" Ms. Kimura asked.
"It's slang for snobby, rich people. I've heard some Yakuza use it a lot," Kouichi said.
"I guess maybe we can send you to Odaiba," Ms. Kimura shuddered. "I just want to warn you ahead of time that people in Odaiba have more money than we do. I can't afford to get you the same things the other kids have, and I need you to understand that. I also want you to know that just because you might not have as much as them, that doesn't make you any lesser of a person."
"Of course. I can handle it," Kouichi nodded.
"If this is what you want, then I guess I'll sign you up," Ms. Kimura sighed.
"Can we do it tomorrow? I want to get there before all of the TVs are gone," Kouichi eagerly asked.
"Sure. It's my day off so it works perfectly," Ms. Kimura smiled.
"Thanks, Mom!" Kouichi hugged her.
"I'm going to bed now. You should get ready too. We have an interesting day ahead of us," Ms. Kimura ruffled Kouichi's hair and went straight to her room.
"Okay," Kouichi craned his head to make sure his mother was in her room. "Yes," he silently hissed as he balled his hands up into fists and jerked his elbows back. He then pulled his cell phone out and began typing.
Kouichi: Good news, we'll be at Odaiba tomorrow!
"Here you go. Fill out your forms and hand them in when you're ready," a clerk handed Ms. Kimura a clipboard.
"Thank you," Ms. Kimura took the clipboard and sat down in an empty chair. Kouichi sat right next to her, anxiously looking around the room. He checked his phone earlier and Koji said he was there, but as far as Kouichi could see, there were no signs of Koji anywhere.
*squeak* the door opened and Koji walked in. He winked at Kouichi and then sat down next to a woman with short, blue hair.
"Koji, good thing you're back!" the woman said.
"Koji? Koji Minamoto?" Ms. Kimura immediately picked her head up.
"You look familiar. Are you one of Koji's teachers?" Mrs. Minamoto raised an eyebrow.
"No," Ms. Kimura shook her head.
"I'm sorry, I can't remember you, but I feel like I've seen you around before," Mrs. Minamoto squinted her eyes.
"I don't think so," Ms. Kimura said.
"Then who are you?" Mrs. Minamoto looked scared.
"I'm Koji's mother," Ms. Kimura softly said.
"No...it can't be. Michael said Koji's mother was dead," Mrs. Minamoto gasped.
"What?!" Ms. Kimura's jaw dropped.
"So you're my birth mom?" Koji asked.
"Oh my god, you two look alike! Ponytail and all," Mrs. Minamoto said, with wide eyes.
"My name's Karen," Ms. Kimura said. "And this is my son, Kouichi. Koji and Kouichi are twins."
"Hi," Kouichi waved at her.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Stephanie," Mrs. Minamoto shook hands with Karen and Kouichi.
"Nice to meet you too," Karen said. "Wait a minute, did Michael really say I was dead?"
"Yes. And he never mentioned you," Stephanie said to Kouichi. "I mean, I bet he loved you-"
"No, I understand," Kouichi nodded.
"Wow, this is insane," Koji said, like a bad actor reciting lines without any feeling to them.
"Talk about a crazy coincidence," Kouichi said, like a bad actor who overexaggerated his lines.
"This has to be fate," Karen shook her head.
"What else could it be? There's no way that this could be planned," Stephanie grinned.
"No way at all...," the boys flashed each other mischievous smiles.
"Honey, I'm home!" Mr. Minamoto slid through the front door.
"Hello, Michael," Karen sat in a recliner.
"Someone's got some 'splaning to do," Koji smirked at his dad.
"Good news. Your ex-wife isn't dead," Stephanie glared at Michael.
"Heh heh," Michael turned red.
"And did you know you had another son?" Stephanie shot Michael a look of contempt.
"Hi," Kouichi weakly waved.
"Kouichi!" Michael gasped.
"Why didn't you tell me the truth? Why didn't you tell Koji the truth?" Stephanie crossed her arms.
"I...look. Karen was a stage of my life that I've been trying to forget," Michael said.
"I'm right here," Karen gritted her teeth.
"Sorry, no offense," Michael said.
"It doesn't matter whether you and Karen ended on bad terms. You should have at least told me about her! And Koji! He had a brother that he didn't know about until now! Do you know how selfish that is?! How stupid could you be?!" Stephanie yelled.
"I haven't met you that long, but I hope that this doesn't affect the two of you. The last thing I wanted to do is start a fight," Karen said to Stephanie and Michael. Kouichi nodded.
"It's okay, Karen. Stephanie's right...I'm sorry. I don't know why I hid it from you," Michael groaned.
"Kids, why don't you go up to Koji's room?" Stephanie said to the twins.
"Gladly. Come on," Koji motioned Kouichi over.
"Coming," Kouichi followed him up the stairs.
"This is my room. Pretty neat, right?" Koji opened the door.
"Yeah," Kouichi walked over to a bureau. Above the bureau was a world map pinned to a corkboard. There were various pushpins scattered around the map.
"That's my little map. I used to want to travel the world by myself. I figured that by going to foreign countries, that I chose to be lonely, instead of back home where my loneliness naturally happened. But now, I think it would be cool to have someone by my side, so we could explore the frontiers together," Koji cracked a small smile.
"Hey Koji?" Kouichi fiddled with his shirt sleeve.
"What's up?" Koji asked.
"Your mom and dad...are they going to...you know?" Kouichi nervously bit his thumb.
"Ah, don't worry about it. The most that'll happen is that my dad will have to sleep on the couch for a week," Koji scoffed. "She's reacted worse before."
"I just don't want your parents to break up because of me," Kouichi said.
"That won't happen. Besides, it sounds like our mothers are getting along pretty well," Koji pointed at the door.
*SMACK SMACK SMACK*
"Your turn! Take the newspaper and hit him as hard as you can!"
"Stop it!" Michael yelled.
"NO!" Stephanie and Karen said in unison.
*SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK*
"Welcome to orientation. Today is supposed to be the first official day of school, but since today is the Battle of the Bands competition, the high school students have off today. I think it works out great, so that you freshmen can feel a little more comfortable exploring the grounds without the upperclassmen in the way," a cute, petite girl held on to a clipboard. She had her brown hair cut in a Rihanna bob and her smile illuminated her face. As she talked about the school, Kouichi looked around at the other kids. A blonde girl looked in his direction and went to approach him.
"Hey, I feel like I've seen you before. I just can't remember from where," the blonde girl said to the boys.
"That's weird, I feel the same way," Kouichi squinted.
"Do you work at the sandwich shop near the Akihabara station?" Koji asked.
"No," the girl shook her head.
"Nah, then I'm stumped," Koji said. "I don't think there's a blonde girl who works there anyway, so never mind."
"By the way, my name is Zoe," the blonde girl said.
"I'm Kouichi and that's Koji," Kouichi introduced himself.
"Hey," Koji gave her a small wave and put his hand back in his pocket.
"Nice to meet you," Zoe smiled.
"Likewise," Kouichi said. Koji merely nodded. "He's a quiet one. I mean, I'm a quiet person too, but he's quieter," Kouichi added.
"Seems like it," Zoe giggled.
"Hey, when do you think the tour guide chick will stop talking? I forgot to use the bathroom at home and I didn't think we'd be standing outside for this long. Oh, I'm Takuya," a tan boy sneaked up behind the twins. He wore a hat with goggles wrapped around them.
"Interesting to meet you, I guess...," Zoe bit her lip.
"That's what everyone says! That must mean I'm a really fascinating guy, don't you think?" Takuya grinned.
"If that's what you want to call it," Koji muttered.
"Do you guys live in Odaiba?" Kouichi asked.
"No," Zoe said.
"Same here. I'm only here because this is the only school nearby that offers a special program for me. I guess the other schools couldn't handle my potential," Takuya rambled.
"Right...," Kouichi slowly nodded his head.
"My parents sold me out for a flat-screen HDTV," Zoe frowned.
"Ah, the incentive?" Kouichi said. "We had to convince our parents to let us come here, so when we told them about the incentive, they finally caved in."
"Are you guys crazy? You wanted to go to a new school district? What about your friends? Aren't you going to miss them?" Zoe asked.
"It didn't really matter to us. It's not like we were leaving much behind," Koji shrugged.
"I wish I could feel the same way. You see, I moved here from Italy around two years ago. It was hard for me since I had a lot of good friends over there, and now I had to leave them. I wasn't exactly the most popular girl when I moved to Japan, but I managed to make a couple of new friends and it makes me mad that my parents decided to switch me to another school district," Zoe gave Kouichi a feeble smile.
"But you can always see them on the weekends, right?" Kouichi asked.
"That's true, but it's just not the same. I was planning to share the same classes with my friends," Zoe said.
"You might not be going to the same high school as your friends, but that shouldn't let you make the next four years of your life miserable. Half of us must be from different school districts, so it's like we're all starting a new chapter together. You're not as alone as you think, a lot of us feel how you do," Kouichi said.
"I guess you're right about that. If there are more people like you in this school, maybe being at Odaiba High won't be so bad after all," Zoe smiled.
"And if you see over there, that's where my friend's first make-out session took place," the tour guide girl pointed to a tree at the side of the building.
"Where was your first make-out session?" someone from the crowd heckled.
"Davis, shouldn't you be somewhere else?" the tour guide girl sighed.
"What are you talking about? Today is a school day, and I never skip school because I'm a model citizen trying to be a good example for my fellow freshmen," a tan kid with spiky, burgundy hair puffed his chest out.
"Ugh...everyone, just ignore him and follow me inside," the tour guide shook her head as she opened the entrance doors.
"I'm glad that we get to go to high school together," Kouichi whispered.
"Me too," Koji cracked a small smile.
"Do you think we'll have any of those high school adventures, like the sitcoms on American TV?" Kouichi asked.
"Highly doubt it," Koji snorted.
"Even if we don't, that's okay with me. Just think, we'll be starting a new chapter of our lives. I wonder what's in store for us," Koiuchi put his hand on the door handle.
"Well, here we go," Koji pressed down the bar handle on the other door.
"Finally! I had to pee!" Takuya shoved them out of the way and dashed inside.