Kaoru awoke to someone shaking his shoulder and he sat upright immediately, finding Emi standing over him. Her face was clear and free of bruising. "How…?" he voiced aloud.

"Hurry, you need to get dressed," Emi said, crossing the room to his dresser. She picked out a nice long-sleeve shirt for him that would cover his wounds and tossed it to him. "Lena is stopping in to visit today."

Kaoru flew to his feet, immediately shrugging the shirt over his head to cover his exposed chest and his bandage on his arm. "The social worker?"

She nodded, searching for some jeans for Kaoru and pulled out a pair at random and threw it to him. "She called just a half hour ago to give us short-notice warning, but if we are fast enough, maybe I can you get to school and she won't have to question you about what has been going on." She slammed the drawers to the dresser shut.

Quickly, Kaoru shoved his legs into his jeans and zipped himself up just in time to catch the socks that Emi launched at him. "How long till she's here?"

Suddenly the doorbell rang ominously throughout the house and the two froze, looking at each other. "She's here!" Emi cried. She went to Kaoru and shoved a bottle into his hand. "This is my make-up; apply it to any spot on your skin that may be red or bruised. I'll answer the door. Go!" She made her way to the door.

"Wait!" Kaoru hissed. "What about Ryota?"

"He's already at work," she said quickly. Then she slipped out of the room.

Kaoru turned, shoved his socks on, and bounded to the bathroom and wrenched open the bottle. He began applying the fluid liquid to the bruises on his arms and around his wounds. His heart pounded. From downstairs, Kaoru heard the front door open and the muffled exchange of the two women. Kaoru scraped the rest of makeup down his bruises before capping off the make-up and shoving it into a random drawer.

"Kaoru!" Emi called up the stairs. "We have a visitor!" Her voice sounded strong but Kaoru knew that she must be overwhelmed by fear.

Kaoru tugged his sleeves down over his wounds, calling back, "Coming!" He took one last glance at himself in the mirror, inspecting for anything out of place. He cursed silently as he raked his fingers through his hair. He hadn't enough time for a shower and his eyes looked extremely tired from staying up so late with Haruhi. Then soon after, Kaoru shot down the stairs, caking on his best smile.

"Hello, Kaoru," the petite woman greeted at the bottom stairs. Emi stood beside her, worrying her lips with her teeth.

"Hey, Lena," Kaoru greeted enthusiastically, feeling the blood rush through his veins.

"Am I interrupting your morning routine at all?"

Kaoru shook his head. "No, I was just going to grab a bowl of cereal and then head out to the bus." He looked pointedly over at Emi. "And Emi, you were just going to work, weren't you?"

She looked at her adopted son with wide eyes but then looked over to Lena with a gentle smile. "Sorry, I've got to get to work early this morning."

Lena nodded. "That's alright. That gives me time to talk to Kaoru in private before he heads out to school." When Lena turned away, Emi pressed a finger to her lips. Kaoru immediately understood; she was telling him to not say a word about their problems. Well, it wasn't like Kaoru was going to tell Lena anything about that anyway.

"Come on," Kaoru said, gesturing to Lena. "Let's get out of Emi's hair." Then he turned and led the way into the kitchen. Behind him, he could hear Emi grabbing her keys and exiting the house much earlier than she had to. Kaoru was glad; he could lie a lot easier one-on-one with Lena.

Kaoru moved into the center of the kitchen to the fridge and grabbed the milk from inside and then a random box of cereal. He dumped his cereal into a bowl, all the while feeling Lena watching him. When he moved to a chair and began to eat his breakfast, Lena moved to sit next to him quietly. She observed him silently for a moment.

"How are you faring, Kaoru?"

He set his spoon into his cereal and shrugged. "Okay, I guess."

"Are you having any problems, at home or at school?"

Kaoru shook his head, looking her in the eyes. "No, not really," he began. He shrugged again. "I started my counselor sessions with Hikaru and its okay, I guess… I just still miss my parents and I miss being around Hikaru." He was mostly inputting this information to deter any of Lena's suspicions, but it was the truth regardless.

"Yes, I predicted this, of course, but it will get better. And you do see your brother often, right?"

Kaoru nodded. "Yeah, but not as often as I would like… I'm feeling distant from him." Kaoru felt a blanket of sadness fall over him. They had been distant from each other but it was entirely his fault. Hikaru had nothing to do with this gap.

"You have to be more open with Hikaru, then," Lena reasoned. "Have you been expressing your issues to Emi and Ryota?"

Kaoru shrugged. "I guess not."

"Then you should do the same for them. The only way for things to get better, is to let people in." She tapped her lip with a finger. "Speaking of which, had you made some new friends yet?"

Kaoru smiled. "Yeah. I've got Haruhi, Kyoya, and Tamaki," he said. Kaoru wasn't exactly sure if they were truly friends yet, but he a point to prove to Lena. He wanted to prove to her that he wasn't helpless. "And I'm hoping that Mori and Honey can come up to visit soon."

She nodded and frowned. But, before she could say anything more, Kaoru hopped from his seat. "I really should be getting to the bus stop," Kaoru said. "I'll be late."

"Oh," she said, looking up at the kitchen clock. She seemed a bit disappointed. "Well, I guess I'll leave you to it."


Kaoru was relieved that he had gotten Lena to leave so early but he was also annoyed that he was standing at the bus stop ten minutes early without a shower. He didn't look horrible, he supposed, but he just felt gross.

"Kaoru!" a voice called from behind him.

He turned in surprise to find Haruhi running up to him with her hair a bit messy. "You're early," Kaoru observed.

"Well, I saw you outside my window at the bus stop and I wanted to make sure everything was okay," she said, her eyes full of worry.

Kaoru glared at her weakly. "You're not going to start babying me now, are you? Because I will hurt you."

She laughed. "I have a right to be worried; especially after your stunt last night." She tucked brown locks of hair behind her ear before looking at him seriously. "Now spill. What happened?"

He sighed. He wasn't sure how she did it, reading him so easily. "My social worker showed up today."

"Did you tell her?"

Kaoru's eyes snapped up to hers. "What? No! Why the hell would I do that?"

Haruhi frowned at him. "Well, you could have gotten this all over with…"

"I already told you, I can't do that!" he exclaimed. Anger was boiling within him and he turned away.

Suddenly Haruhi reached up to Kaoru's cheek. Kaoru knocked her arm away. "What are you doing?"

"You've got something there on your…" She moved her hand up again and smudged away whatever was along his jaw line. "Kaoru, why were you wearing makeup?" Haruhi was looking at her fingers where she had just wiped a bit of it.

"Ah, no reason." He couldn't tell her about the bruises. Kaoru must have gotten some on his face by accident.

Haruhi laughed quietly. "Shut up!" Kaoru cried, punching her in the arm playfully.


On the bus, Hikaru made his way to the back where he saw Kaoru and Haruhi sitting together on the same seat. Kaoru was staring out the window with an annoyed expression on his face and Haruhi was sitting next to him, talking to him, looking somewhat worried. Hikaru moved towards them a little faster.

"Hey guys," Hikaru greeted as he plopped down in the seat in front of them. There was some kid sitting in the seat across from them for some reason, which made no sense because there was hardly anyone on the bus.

Haruhi looked up and an unreadable look flashed across her face before disappearing. She slowly removed a hand from Kaoru's elbow. Hikaru began to wonder what had gone on between them when he wasn't around. "Hey Hikaru," she said slowly with a half-smile.

"Is everything okay?" Hikaru asked. He looked directly at Haruhi, counting on her to tell him anything he needed to know, but she looked down at her lap and fiddled with her backpack. He looked to Kaoru and his brother only glanced at him briefly through the corner of his eyes. Something was definitely up. "Okay, start talking," Hikaru commanded Kaoru.

Kaoru looked up in exasperation. "Why do you always assume something is wrong?"

"Because there always is!" Hikaru said carelessly.

Kaoru didn't reply. He only glared at Hikaru before turning back to his window while Haruhi glared at Hikaru with equal strength. "Kaoru is just having a hard time, okay Hikaru? Just give him some space," Haruhi growled at him.

Hikaru was completely taken aback. Haruhi was telling him to stop bothering his brother? Since when were they closer than he and Kaoru? "Kaoru, what's going on?" he asked forcefully.

Briefly, Kaoru glowered at Haruhi before saying a low, "Nothing."

"God damn it, you never tell me anything anymore!"

"Fine," Kaoru said, crossing his arms. "The other day, the counselor accused me of cutting myself and having suicidal thoughts. There. Are you happy?"

Hikaru stared. "Why would she do that?"

Kaoru rolled his eyes. "I don't know. She's crazy."

The bus came to a stop and Haruhi and Kaoru stood before Hikaru. He was forced to follow his brother onto the school grounds. He wanted to talk to Kaoru; he wanted to be like they use to be. They used to tell each other everything!

"Hold on, Kaoru!" Hikaru said, grabbing Kaoru's wrist to hold him back.

Kaoru waved Haruhi ahead. "What is it?" he asked tiredly. Hikaru took in Kaoru's unkept hair and there were dark, tired circles around the boy's eyes.

"Why do you think I need something? Can't I just talk to my brother?"

A flash of hurt crossed Kaoru's face. "No, we can just talk," Kaoru said.

"Then how come we don't talk more often?" Hikaru asked. "Why aren't we always at each other's houses all the time, playing video games or getting into trouble like we used to?"

Kaoru looked pained. "We can still do that stuff together, Hikaru, but we can't do it all the time. Things aren't the same anymore."

"I know they aren't, Kaoru, but I want my brother back…" he trailed off, feeling overwhelmed. "I want you to tell me things."

"I tell you things."

"No." Hikaru shook his head. "No, you told Haruhi something that you won't tell me."

Kaoru looked alarm and right then Hikaru knew that he was right. "No, I didn't. Don't accuse me of things you know nothing about!" And then Kaoru was marching away angrily.

"I don't know because you won't tell me!" Hikaru yelled after his brother. He tightened his hands into fists. "I'll find out eventually!" But Kaoru kept walking.


Ha, obviously Hikaru doesn't know how to handle these situations. I wonder how he will find out about Kaoru's issues? *laughs evilly into the night*