It was too much! Everything was getting too much! Kaoru was seething by the time he arrived to the park and he curled his fingers into fists instinctively. His thoughts stormed his mind and he couldn't make sense of it all but he felt sick to his stomach.
Stepping onto the crisp woodchips, Kaoru crunched his way across the park and away from the single street lamp. He bypassed the swings and opted for the slide that towered over the other structures. The metal shimmered in the dim light and was cold to the touch as Kaoru began his ascent up the ladder. His feet clinked against the steps until he reached the top, and when he did, he paused and just stood at the precipice, staring around the dark playground.
"Out of control," he muttered to himself, clutching the railing. Everything, everything, was out of his reach and he controlled nothing. It was crushing.
Letting out a shaky breath, Kaoru sunk down on the slide, sitting at the top but not sliding down. He could no longer control his education, his safety, his secrets… Kaoru just wished there was something… Something he could control.
Kaoru removed his hands from the railing and held them in front of him after rolling up the sleeves. His left arm held small, fading scars of the grease splatter and his left was still puckered from the knife wound. He couldn't even control what happened to his body.
Quickly, he rolled his sleeves down again, preparing for a long wait until Haruhi and Kyoya arrived.
Haruhi ran down her stairs and opened the door before Kyoya could even reach her front steps. She closed it quietly behind her before pulling on a light sweatshirt to block out the wind. "Let's go," she said, walking briskly past Kyoya to lead the way. "Kaoru left for the park like a half hour ago."
Kyoya kept her pace easily. "It's not my fault he went early."
"He looked extremely… I don't know, depressed. When I saw his face, he looked like he killed somebody."
Kyoya looked at her funny then. "He didn't, did he?"
Haruhi gaped in exasperation. "Are you serious?"
"Well the two of you are dragging me out here, telling me there is this big secret… What am I supposed to think? Kaoru mentions that's he's a punching bag and-"
"Wait, what?" Haruhi asked, alarmed.
"Hey Haruhi," a voice called, knocking her out of her thoughts.
She turned her eyes on Kyoya's car that was sitting at the curb in front her house; light reflected off its exterior and revealed a blond mop of hair of a boy leaning against it in the shadows. "What the hell are you doing here?" Haruhi spat. In front of her stood a grinning Tamaki.
Kyoya's lips quirked in amusement. "He was already at my house. I couldn't get rid of him, so I just let him come along.
Haruhi turned on him. "You can't allow him to come with!" She poked him hard in the ribs. "I made a promise to Kaoru and I'm keeping it! We can't do this to him."
"What's wrong with Kaoru?" Tamaki asked, his smile faltering.
Glaring at him, Haruhi said, "You're just going to have to wait in the car, Tamaki. You can't come with."
"Who's waiting in the car? I'm not being left behind."
Kyoya turned to him in serious contemplation. "Haruhi is probably right. I don't think you should come along."
Tamaki's eyes blazed. "I'm not being left behind. If there is something wrong with one of my friends, I'm going to be there for them whether they want my help or not!"
Haruhi considered him in silence. His face was one of rage and so un-Tamaki-like that Haruhi couldn't help but take him serious. "Maybe…" She turned her eyes on Kyoya, unsure. "Maybe we should take him along…"
"You are the one who spoke with Kaoru. It's up to your judgment whether or not this would be a wise decision," Kyoya said.
Haruhi nodded, acknowledging his words. "Fine. Let's go."
When they arrived at the park, Haruhi was a bit worried to see the swings empty. Her eyes skimmed the jungle gym until she noticed the figure sitting motionless on the slide. "Kaoru," she hissed into the dark, trying to remain quiet but still be heard at the same time.
Kaoru's head snapped up and he turned his amber gaze on her just as Tamaki and Kyoya came to a stop behind her. His eyes flitted behind her before he glared. Haruhi could tell he was royally pissed. "I know we said that-" she began.
"You promised," he said harshly. His voice was full of hurt and a hint of fear.
"I know," Haruhi said quickly. She needed to make him understand. "Tamaki was already-"
"You promised!" Kaoru said with more force. He stood abruptly so that he was towering over the three of them. "I told you that we wouldn't tell anyone else besides Kyoya!"
Haruhi looked behind her and caught the confused faces of Tamaki and Kyoya. She was at a loss for words. Tamaki's face was set in determination and before Haruhi could stop him, he began to speak up, "Kaoru, I know that you didn't exactly want me here, but I want to understand too. I want to know what's going on and figure out what I can do to help."
Kaoru looked away then. "I didn't even want help in the first place. What makes you think I want yours?" And then he was launching himself down the slide. When he reached the bottom, he turned and began stalking away.
Haruhi couldn't take it any longer. So she turned to the boys and told them, "Stay here," before racing after Kaoru's retreating form.
Kaoru's heart was racing as he walked away. He didn't want even more people to know. Maybe if he got away, maybe he never spoke to them again, maybe, just maybe he wouldn't need to-
"Kaoru," Haruhi called, "Wait." Her footsteps slapped across the woodchips until she slid to a stop behind him.
He glanced over his shoulder to Haruhi where she stood with a saddened frown. Behind her, off by the swing set, Tamaki and Kyoya were walking away, talking to each other and gesturing to the swing. Kaoru turned around fully and crossed his arms.
Haruhi looked down before addressing him. "I'm sorry I let Tamaki come along. But you should have heard his rant earlier! He was saying things about friends help friends or something like that, and I couldn't say no." She shrugged.
Kaoru felt drained; he didn't want an apology. "Whatever, it's okay," Kaoru said, rubbing his forehead. "It's just that I don't want to burden anybody. I don't want people thinking that they have to watch out for me."
"But what if we want to?"
"Why would you?"
Haruhi looked at him like he was stupid. "We're your friends and we watch out for… Well, now I sound like Tamaki." She shifted her weight before she looked him right in the eye. "Let's just put it this way. I don't want you doing something stupid because you think you're alone or that you're not good enough or some lame shit like that."
Kaoru flinched away at those words and found that he could no longer look her in the eyes.
"You're not, Kaoru!" she exclaimed as if she had read his mind. "You're good and funny and a real friend. Let people look after you."
Anger shot through Kaoru. "That's the thing though! I shouldn't be like this! Before my parents died and before everything that's happened lately, I used to be the one! I used to be the one everyone came to with their problems. I looked after Hikaru to make sure he didn't do something stupid but now, I'm worthless! All I can think about is this swirling shit around me and it never goes away! That's why I don't want people to know. I just want to move on my life. I don't want people trying to take care of me because I should be able to care of myself!"
At the end of his rant, Kaoru felt something in him break. Suddenly he dropped down onto his knees with tears streaming silently down his face. The pain and the hurt were overwhelming. "Look at this," Kaoru tried to laugh through his tears. "Now I'm even crying."
Haruhi dropped to her knees beside him and said nothing. She just wrapped him into a warm embrace, holding him close as he cried through the pain that had built up over the last few weeks. Then, finally, Kaoru couldn't cry anymore and slowly pulled away from Haruhi, wiping at his face.
"You should really tell Hikaru."
"I'm not telling him."
Haruhi nodded, already accepting it. "I know, but you really should. He'll be pissed if he finds out."
"He's not going to." Kaoru wasn't going to tell Hikaru any of it; not about his almost suicide in the bathroom; not about the abuse he's taken; not about Ryota's illness. He wasn't going to tell Haruhi and the others anything else either. He was just going to let her keep believing that she was helping with his depression or whatever. He was going to leave at that. No one had to know about anything else.
"But you're gonna let me tell Tamaki and Kyoya? We will make a pact not to tell anyone else and we will work through this together. The three of us will be your own little support group."
Kaoru looked at her, considering. He knew that if he let her worry anymore, she would dig deeper into his life and find out about Ryota and everything. So he knew what he had to do; he would never show weakness in front of Haruhi and the others ever again. Ever. It was the only way. "Okay."
Haruhi seemed honestly surprised at his answer but she didn't waste any time in waving Tamaki and Kyoya over. They were quick in responding.
"Is everything okay?" Tamaki asked. Kaoru stared at him in disbelief. This is the most serious he'd ever seen Tamaki act.
Haruhi nodded in answer before speaking, "Kaoru has something he has to tell you two."
"The two of you have to promise you won't breathe a word of this to another soul, got it?" Kaoru said forcefully. His nerves were all over the place.
"Of course, I promise," Tamaki replied automatically.
Kyoya was a little slower to respond, staring at Kaoru with a scrutinizing glower. After a moment he said, "I promise."
Kaoru chewed his lip and looked to Haruhi for support. She smiled sadly and gave him a little nudge.
"Uh…" Kaoru looked around their little group. His nerves were shot; he couldn't do it. "Haruhi will tell you." He looked away.
"Kaoru," Haruhi scolded. Kaoru refused to look at her so eventually she sighed deeply. "Fine, I'll just say it bluntly then." Kaoru peeked up at the three as Haruhi readied herself. "Kaoru tried to kill himself."
"WHAT? WHY?" Tamaki immediately bellowed, looking completely panicked.
Kaoru turned his eyes on Kyoya who was still looking at him suspiciously. He didn't like that look on Kyoya's face one bit.
"Tamaki, please, let's not make it that big of a deal," Haruhi said.
"What do you mean? Kaoru tried to kill himself. What possessed him to do that?"
Kaoru flinched. This was the exact reaction Kaoru had feared and this was why he hadn't wanted to tell anyone.
"Because you are only making him feel worse!" Haruhi yelled at Tamaki.
Tamaki's eyes widened and he was next to Kaoru in a flash, looking at him in concern. "Kaoru why would you try to do something like that to yourself? You are one of the best, smartest little people I know."
"Gee, don't hurt yourself," Kaoru retorted. He couldn't help but be a little amused at Tamaki's childish description.
"What he's trying to say," Kyoya butted in, silencing Tamaki, "is that we don't understand why you would attempt suicide."
Kaoru felt his blood run cold but he shrugged, trying to deflect some of the interest.
"I mean, just the other day you said that you felt like a punching bag… What does that mean exactly?" Kyoya continued.
Kaoru decided to tell a partial truth and responded immediately, "My parents just died, my grades are in the toilet, and I'm separated from my twin. Why do you think I've been so depressed? I feel like a completely worthless piece of shit."
Kyoya considered this in silence and Kaoru hoped he would take the bait. And he did! Kyoya nodded, accepting the partial truth and that's when Kaoru knew he had won. His three friends would know nothing about Ryota and his home life… It felt like crap.
Tamaki grimaced. "Kaoru, I think you're a great person who-"
"Save it," Kaoru snapped immediately. "Telling you guys about this does not entitle you to baby me or keep trying to make me feel better. All you need to do is support me. And supporting me means helping me out when I want you to, okay? Got it?"
"But…" Tamaki looked around the group. "Shouldn't we tell someone about this? Like the counselor?"
Kaoru's heart plummeted. He just turned and marched away, heading for the swings. Behind him, he heard Haruhi mutter, "Way to go, Tamaki." But he ignored them all and collapsed into his usual swing to stare at the woodchips.
His three friends arrived not long after. Haruhi sat in the same one she had the day before, to his left, and Kyoya sat to his right, leaving Tamaki to take the seat on the other side of Kyoya. They all began to swing in silence.
Suddenly Haruhi spoke up, kicking woodchips beneath her shoes, "We won't tell anyone."
"We won't, right Tamaki?" Kyoya said.
"Right," Tamaki agreed. "I promise I won't."
Kaoru swung in silence for just a few seconds longer before saying, "Thanks, guys." And he meant it.
They continued to swing higher and higher and suddenly, to Kaoru, things felt just a little bit lighter.
I'm glad I even got to update today! I'm on vacation where there is no wifi except like a mile down the road (which I walked by the way for you lucky readers.) And also a few days ago was my birthday, so I've been busy! But hopefully, I'll be update again soon. (Maybe before my vacation is over on Sunday, but more likely Monday or Tuesday when I'm home again.)