"What? No, no, no, no…" Hikaru said, shaking his head.
"Hikaru, listen to me," Kaoru began, holding out his hands, but Hikaru didn't want to listen. This was all too much. Way too much.
So he spun on his heels and headed to his room with Kaoru close at his heels. He flung the door open angrily and paced into his room, heading for one thing only—his desk. He ripped open the top drawer; inside was stacks upon stacks of paper, but Hikaru knew where to look. Lifting up three-fourths of the stack, he tossed it aside onto his desk, causing the papers to scatter haphazardly, but he didn't care. Instead, he focused on shuffling through the last portion of the stack for a certain picture.
At last, Hikaru found the old photograph near the bottom and he pulled it out anxiously. It was a family photo back when Dad was still alive and… Hikaru gasped, dropping the picture onto the desk, and backed away. The guy, the man in the hallway, looked the same as his father. He looked over at Kaoru with watery eyes.
Kaoru looked down at the picture with a sad expression. "The same then?" Kaoru asked.
"So you've been telling the truth the whole time? You've been seeing Dad? This is for real?"
Kaoru nodded. "Yeah."
"We, we gotta tell Mom. I gotta…"
"No!" Kaoru cried, crossing the room to hold his brother back. But Hikaru just began to pace back and forth along the side of his bed and continued to glance at the photograph.
"Okay, you're right," Hikaru said after a while. He ran his hands through his hair worriedly, once again checking the photograph. "She'll just say I'm crazy. But why can I see him all of a sudden?" He stopped in front of Kaoru, expecting an answer.
Kaoru shrugged. "I have no idea," he said. "I've seen ghosts since I almost died…" Hikaru flinched at the words. "…When we were six. But you haven't had a death experience have you?"
Hikaru shook his head. "No I haven't." But he didn't continue his train of thought as he noticed someone appear behind Kaoru. Oh, that was his Dad. He looked at Kaoru. "Kaoru, get out."
Kaoru's head shot up with bewilderment in his eyes. "What?"
"I need some time alone," he said forcefully.
A flash of hurt crossed Kaoru's face before he nodded. "Yeah, okay… I'll be in my room if you need me." He started walking out of the room but paused at the door. "But don't forget that we have to leave in the next ten minutes if we want to make it to school in time." Kaoru then disappeared into the hallway.
With the door closed, Hikaru turned his gaze on their father. "Are you my father?" he questioned seriously.
The pale figure stepped forward. It felt like an illusion to see his dead father look so real but he could still see through him a little bit. The man held out his aged hands that seemed so familiar. "Yeah, Hikaru, it's me, Kiyoshi."
Hikaru smiled just a little and then sat down on his bed. "You don't know how long I've been waiting to talk to you Hikaru," he said as he came to stand just before his son.
"I missed you Dad." He looked up at his father with a pleading look.
"I would hug you but…" Kiyoshi began but then gestured to his transparent body.
Hikaru stared at him for a while, just blinking, taking it in. "Why can I see you?" Hikaru asked suddenly.
"I was wondering when you were going to ask that," Kiyoshi replied. "So I am going to just go ahead and say it. Hikaru, you know what reapers are, right?" He didn't even wait for a reply. "Well you are the opposite. You can bring people back to life. You can manipulate souls."
Hikaru looked at him in disbelief. "No, I don't think so."
"You know you are," he replied, looking at Hikaru pointedly.
"Then what is Kaoru?"
Kiyoshi gave him a smile. "He's a soul you brought back… twice now."
Hikaru shook his head, standing up. "No. That's not me. I can't bring people back to life!"
"But you can," Dad growled into his face. "You were born this way."
"I don't believe you."
"Why?" his father demanded.
"Because you tried to choke Kaoru last night," he said simply. The angry look on his father's face dropped away. "So I don't trust you." Hikaru walked by his father and grabbed his backpack off the floor by the door to his room.
"Wait, Hikaru." Hikaru stopped, listening but not turning around. "Please, I need your help. You can bring me back."
"I don't think so," Hikaru denied. He left the room and moved into the hallway. "Kaoru! Let's go!" And he continued to march away to the front of the house.
Later, Hikaru was sitting in science class, listening to the teacher talk excitedly. But Hikaru wasn't listening. He was internally agonizing over what he had heard that morning.
Instinctively, Hikaru glanced at his little brother who, as if he could feel Hikaru's gaze, glanced back. They were two desks away, both mirroring each other in their positions. They both were leaning onto their palms, looking bored. Hikaru couldn't help but smile at his brother. He mirrored the smile. This was the closest the two had been since before Kaoru's absence.
"Okay, partner up!" the teacher called, getting everyone's attention. "Today's lab is on page 37 of your workbook and after reading the lab sheet, come up and collect your supplies. Okay, go!" Hikaru's classmates rose in a bustle and he lost sight of his brother. Quickly, Hikaru gathered up his workbook and crossed the classroom to Kaoru's desk where he was gathering up his own things.
"Partner up?" Hikaru asked.
"Yeah," Kaoru said with a smile. "Are you going to be able to cut it up?"
Hikaru paused. "Wait a second. We're dissecting today? What are we dissecting?"
"You really weren't paying attention, were you?" Kaoru laughed. "Well, it's a cat. I'll go grab it."
Hikaru nodded and took Kaoru's workbook from and headed to the back of the room to the lab tables when suddenly there was a scream and a crash. Hikaru turned just to catch the sight of one of his classmates, a girl, fainting at the sight of the dead cat, and smashing her head against the edge of the table.
Immediately Hikaru's vision tunneled and he saw the girl's soul step out of her body, but she kept one foot inside her body, looking around in confusion. Hikaru set the workbooks aside and walked to the girl without meaning to. It was like he was being drawn to her.
"She's still breathing!" the girl's friend cried from her side.
Hikaru crouched down next to her, going unnoticed by the panicking class. And he whispered to her by instinct, "You need to go back. Lay down inside your body."
The ghost girl looked down at Hikaru in surprise, obviously hearing him and seeing his eyes on her. "Go," he said.
She went and laid into her body in a flash, understanding what Hikaru meant. The girl at his feet gasped awake, making her friend gather her into a hug. Hikaru stood and backed away, trying to divert the attention from him. But in that single step back, Hikaru remembered. He remembered both times he had drawn Kaoru back from death. He sucked in a breath in shock.
Immediately Hikaru glanced over at his brother a few feet away from him. Beneath Kaoru's skin, he could almost recognize Kaoru's soul. It was a strange feeling. One thought struck him at that exact second though.
God, Kaoru was hard to keep alive.