Hikaru watched his brother towards the end of dinner, becoming more wary. He swore there was something a little bit off with Kaoru, even if he was acting about the same as usual. Narrowing his eyes, he observed Kaoru take a last bite to finish off his plate just as Mom went into the kitchen to start the dishes.
Slowly, Kaoru set down his fork. His eyes snapped on Hikaru, giving Hikaru a start. "You're looking at me funny."
Hikaru looked away guiltily. "You just seem off today," he said slowly.
"You already said that earlier."
Chewing on his lip, Hikaru turned to watch Kaoru once again. "Yeah, I know…" he trailed off. He didn't know what to say. He wasn't sure how to explain it. Because what if this was just Kaoru? He hoped his suspicions were false.
Kaoru sat a second more as if he was waiting for Hikaru to continue, but when he didn't, Kaoru stood. He picked up his food stiffly. "Well, if you want to interrogate me again, I will be in the kitchen helping mom." And with that, he stalked away, leaving Hikaru alone with his heavy thoughts.
In instinct, Kaoru sucked in a shaky breath. He didn't need it, obviously, but it was his nerves he supposed.
Kaoru was approaching the cemetery with his arms wrapped around himself. This is one of the places he dreaded; a place he usually tried to avoid. There were too many people at the cemetery. But swallowing his fear he strode forward through the thick dark to the iron gates that held the entrance. There weren't any lights in this area, but thankfully the glimmering reflection of the moon bounced off the shining iron and lit his way.
Reaching the gate, Kaoru peered through the gaps in the iron bars, searching for anything beyond it. All he could see were rows upon rows of stone graves beneath the slow rustling of wind in the trees.
Kaoru slipped through the gate easily, feeling the bars pass through his very being as light as a feather. When he was through, he looked about but found nothing but shadows. Surely in a gravesite there would be ghosts? Kaoru walked further into the graves, over crinkling grass but not making a sound, until he was at the top of the hill in the heart of the graveyard.
"Hello?" Kaoru called out slowly.
The wind was the only sound, whispering across the grounds, just as a cloud floated lazily across the stars and covering the moon partially. Kaoru huffed and turned around, watching all corners.
"Hello!" Kaoru called louder. His voice didn't echo and it left him in unsettling silence once again.
"Hi," a girl's voice fluttered in sing-song.
Kaoru spun around and found a girl standing there in a long princess dress, decorated in sparkles of silver and gold across the white fabric. At the stomach, however, a blooming stain stood out against the moonlight in shining crimson. Kaoru opened his mouth, trying to work out what he was going to say.
"You're new," she whispered. Her voice crept up Kaoru's spine uncomfortably.
"Yeah, well I-"
"But you didn't die naturally…" she said and her eyes widened.
"I didn't but…" he trailed off in shock. Behind her, several ghosts appeared, gathering but at a distance.
She took a step forward, looking him up and down. Then she began to circle him, saying, "You see, I died when my prom date took a knife to my stomach. He didn't like that I had hung out with Isao the night before because I kissed him and the word got around. And there, in the middle of the dance floor, he stabbed me and whispered into my ear…" She paused and brought her face near Kaoru's. "You deserved it," she whispered.
Stepping back again, she continued to circle him, one slow step at a time. "But you on the other hand, do not have a scratch on you. Of course, you could have died from an internal disease, but you would look a bit more weak and sickly."
She stopped and placed an appraising hand on the edge of her chin. "You could have overdosed, but that can't be right because… your soul glows so much brighter than ours."
Kaoru looked around in surprise. It was true; his soul glowed brightly and theirs… they just softly shone, almost blending with the scenery behind them.
She looked at him sharply. "Your body is still alive and you are going to tell me where it is."
"Why?" Kaoru asked and took a step back as fear crept through him.
"You must be in coma or something which means your body is for the taking."
Immediately Kaoru felt closed in, trapped. As he looked around, he realized that the other souls had circled in around them.
"You won't be taking it," Kaoru said shakily, looking about the group.
"And why is that?" she growled.
Kaoru opened his mouth to reply when he was interrupted by a sharp shout. "Out of the way! out of the way!" The ghosts parted to let a man through but Kaoru did not see his face as he immediately turned to the girl in the gown. "What are you doing this time, Mieko?"
She suddenly looked terrified. "He has an empty body. One of us could take it."
"You are not taking the poor kid's body. None of you are," the man emphasized, pointing to the others around them. "Now go, all of you!"
They all disappeared instantly, going their separate ways. Then the man turned around. Kaoru gasped.
"Kaoru?" he asked. It was Dad. His eyes widened and he stepped forward, inspecting Kaoru closely with a worried expression across his face. "W-when I last left you, you were just fine. I got you back home…"
Kaoru laughed in disbelief. "You left me with a demon, Dad." And then he found himself crouching down into the grass. He wrapped his arms around his knees and planted his head in the middle. He didn't want to see his father right now. Not when he had already lost everything else.
"Kaoru," his father said slowly, crouching down by Kaoru. Slowly he slid his arms around his son, tucking him into a loose embrace. Kaoru froze at the sudden solid pressure on his shoulder. "What happened?"
"A demon took my body," Kaoru mumbled into his arms. "He disguised himself as you and took my body." Kaoru peaked through his arm at his father.
Kiyoshi's face was of complete horror. "I just left you for a few days to find out why everyone was so interested in you… I asked around here and they say your body-soul link is much weaker, making you an easy target…" he trailed off, placing a hand over his mouth for a moment. "I really screwed up Kaoru. I'm so sorry. I should have been there for you. I just got so caught up with understanding everything and talking to so many of the other souls here, getting to know them… I'm so sorry."
Kaoru straightened up; he was no longer mad at his father. "It's okay, Dad."
"No it's not," his father said, looking at Kaoru seriously. "I have to get your body back for you."
I started a new story: The Knives In His Sleeves. Please check it out!