"So as I see it, this is your only option if you want to stay in close proximity," the social worker, Lena, said softly, shuffling her papers together without looking at the two of them.
Kaoru ground his fingers into the fake leather of his chair before looking over at his brother who mirrored his expression of complete horror and indignation. Hikaru turned to the woman, leaning forward. "But can't we just live together ourselves? We could get jobs. We could-"
"Enough," she interrupted, looking up with somber eyes. "You are both fifteen, not old enough to live alone, but not young enough to be adopted as a pair. Just be grateful that you would live only a few blocks away. And your caretakers are cousins, so I am sure, the two of you will see a lot of each other as it is." She sighed, and leaned forward as she raked a hand through her long brown hair. "Listen boys, you must consider your options here. It's either this, or be adopted by two completely different families, or live in the group home which, frankly, isn't very nice…"
"Hikaru," Kaoru began, starting to see Lena's point.
Hikaru turned his eyes on Kaoru and it caused Kaoru to falter. They were pained, afraid; it was more he'd seen on Hikaru's face since their parents' accident. "Hikaru, I think we should do it," Kaoru continued. "I don't think we will have much choice otherwise."
Hikaru slumped into his own chair, defeated. "Yeah, okay," he murmured.
Kaoru turned to their social worker with anxiousness buzzing in his veins. "So what now?"
She smiled. "In no time, you will be off to your respective homes. The families have already agreed that you would both go to the same school. So you have that to look forward to, despite it being in a new city. But Ouran is a beautiful place. You could make a lot of friends." Hikaru rolled his eyes. "Kaoru, you will be staying with the Hoshino family on second street and Hikaru, you will be on fifth with the Mazaki family. Does that work for you boys?"
"Doesn't make a difference," Hikaru huffed.
Kaoru looked at the woman apologetically. "It's perfect."
Kaoru's forehead rattled against the window as the car bumped over a pothole on the highway. It was only a few days from their parents' tragic deaths, and already they were being passed on to their new "families." A heavy sadness was covering Kaoru as they were transported like cargo to Ouran. It had been like that for a while; his moods have been swinging like crazy. But that was to be expected though, wasn't it?
He sighed as they drove further into their new city and then turned to look at his brother who was also glancing out his own window. Sensing Kaoru's eyes on him, Hikaru looked at him and gave him a weak smile. "Things will be okay," Hikaru reassured Kaoru, but he didn't smile anymore.
They eventually pulled onto a side street and drove slower. The well-manicured lawns and cookie cutter houses caused Kaoru to straighten up in his seat a little, surprised that the quality was more than he expected. "First we'll drop off Hikaru," Lena announced as they slowed down by a house near the middle of the street. And they parked at the curb. "Everyone hop out."
Reluctantly, Kaoru unbuckled his seat belt and opened his car door. Hikaru met him by the back and opened the trunk, revealing what little possessions they both had. Slowly, Hikaru began pulling his half out and placing it on the lawn. Kaoru watched, feeling lightheaded.
Suddenly the front door burst open and a couple came down the front steps with wide grins on their faces. They were young. They looked about in their thirties or so. "Hi Lena," the woman called. Lena waved and smiled. Then she turned to look at Hikaru and Kaoru. Discreetly, Kaoru stepped back and leaned back against the car, leaving Hikaru standing ahead of him, holding one of his boxes. "You must be Hikaru," she pointed at Kaoru's brother with a smile.
Hikaru shrugged and looked down. "Yeah."
"Let me take that box," Mr. Mazaki said, taking it from Hikaru.
Lena shifted on her feet before glancing at Kaoru. "Well, we should be going. Kaoru here needs to get home too."
Mrs. Mazaki smiled at him, tucking her black hair behind her ear. "My cousin will love you," she told Kaoru. But how could she know? Kaoru felt more disheartened than before.
Kaoru turned to find his brother watching him worriedly. "See you Hikaru," Kaoru said quickly, offering out his arms for a hug. Hikaru quickly returned the hug, squeezing him tight.
"Make sure to text me," Hikaru murmured before pulling away.
Kaoru nodded, dropping his eyes. He was sure that both of them were feeling the loss. "Don't worry boys," Mrs. Mazaki spoke up. "We will make sure you can both hang out as often as you can. Okay?"
Quickly, Kaoru cracked a smile despite the impending sadness. "Thanks."
Seeing as Kaoru's new house was in the same neighborhood, the house was of similar quality, so Kaoru felt a little better. Taking his time, Kaoru piled all of his possessions onto the lawn while Lena went into the house to find his new guardians.
Just as Kaoru placed the last box into the yard, Lena came out. "Okay, Kaoru. I would see you settle in, but I really have to go. I have a lot of work at the office."
Kaoru nodded his acknowledgement, not even bothering to look happy.
"The Hoshinos will probably help you bring your stuff inside. See you soon, hun," she said, waving him off.
Kaoru watched the car disappeared down the street, feeling completely lost. After a moment, he turned to the pile of things on the lawn. Well, he supposed he could start bringing this stuff in. He grabbed the top two boxes into his arms and made his way up and into the house.
"Hello?" he called into the foyer.
Mrs. Hoshino appeared immediately from around the corner. "Hello," she said a bit nervously. "My husband isn't home yet, but I'm making dinner. So you can eat in a little bit. But anyway, your room is upstairs, first on the left. You can bring it up there." Then she turned and fled back into the kitchen.
Kaoru tilted his head at where the woman had disappeared. What a peculiar person. He shook the thought aside and made his way up the stairs and went into the first room. It was simple: just a bed and dresser. Kaoru set his boxes down onto the dresser and crossed the room to the window.
Numbly he glanced out at the quiet backyard. Damn. There was no tree by the window, and nowhere to softly land outside. There was no escape.
Kaoru pressed his head against the panes with lifeless eyes.
Let me know what you think! And don't forget to check out my other stories such as Fading Fast and Sanity's Edge.