Kaoru grabbed his backpack and bolted from his room and down the stairs before bursting out into the spring sunshine of the school day. He was going to be extremely early for the bus stop but Kaoru didn't care. He just needed to get away. Stumbling down the front porch steps, Kaoru fast walked down the front path and down the street. He didn't stop until he reached the end of the road at the intersection where the bus came.

There, he stopped and leaned against the street light, breathing heavy. After a moment, he caught his breath and the pain of his burns started to filter back. Gingerly, he rolled back his sleeves. He gasped as the itchy material scathed his wounds but he was startled into silence at the appearance of the speckled burns. They were angry red and splatted up his forearms. "Shit." No one could see this.

"Hey Kaoru!" Haruhi called nearby.

Kaoru rolled down his sleeves quickly and turned to her with a forced smile. "Hey, you're here early."

"I saw you rush out of the house, so I decided to come out and join you," she said, walking to his side and straightening her shoulder bag. Today she was wearing a loose-fitting tee with dark jeans. Her brown hair was pinned back with a silver bobby pin on one side. "You know that the bus doesn't come for another ten minutes?"

Kaoru laughed shortly. "Guess my clock was wrong."

They were silent for a moment as Haruhi rocked back and forth in her converse shoes. She bit her lip and kept glancing at him. Soon it became unnerving.

"Need something?" Kaoru asked in annoyance.

She stilled and shrugged. "It's a bit warm for long-sleeve," she murmured.

Kaoru glared. She was right though. The sun was beating down at them from the cloudless sky and Kaoru shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah it is."

"Didn't plan ahead?"

"I don't have many shirts to spare at the moment," Kaoru shot back.

They dropped back into silence again but this time they did not recover their conversation. Thankfully the bus arrived not too long after and Kaoru rushed on, determined to sit apart from the girl today. He had enough of her prying. So he sat in a seat in the middle of the bus and she sat in the seat across from him.

Haruhi sat with her feet up on the seat and her back against the window. From time to time, Kaoru would catch her watching him.

"Kaoru!" Hikaru called excitedly as he appeared on the bus. He immediately swung into Kaoru's seat to sit by his brother. "You didn't text me back last night!"

Kaoru smiled. "My phone broke."

"What did you do this time?"

"Dropped it off the banister."

Hikaru laughed. "How does that always happen?"

Kaoru shrugged, hoping to get away from the subject. But then Haruhi spoke up, "I heard a lot of yelling at your house last night."

Hikaru's smile faded just slightly as he looked between his brother and Haruhi. "There was?" he asked.

Quickly, Kaoru nodded. "Yeah, well, Emi got sick last night and Ryota was pretty freaked. You know how people get when they don't know what to do?" Kaoru looked up at Hikaru's identical amber eyes and knew they were thinking the same thing.

Kaoru flipped open his Dad's phone, thumbing his way to Mom's number. "I'm going to call them," Kaoru told Hikaru, turning away from him and their two friends, Mori and Honey, and went to stand by the window.

Outside, the storm was just starting. The trees were whipping violently in the wind and the skies were dark. Kaoru's breathing was short as he raised his phone to his ear. It was hard to hear the first ring over the howling wind.

"You shouldn't be by the window," Hikaru said worriedly, coming to stand by Kaoru.

Kaoru put his hand over his left ear and turned away just as the phone rang a second time.

The lawn chairs toppled over in the yard and flipped away to land against the fence. Hikaru grabbed at Kaoru's arm, holding the phone. "Come on Kaoru, we have to take cover." Mori and Honey had already disappeared from the room. "Kaoru!"


He blinked rapidly, realizing belatedly that he had been staring at the floor. "Sorry, what?" Kaoru asked his brother.

Hikaru frowned at him. "I was saying, what's with the long-sleeves?"

"I asked him earlier and he said he has a shortage of clothes." Haruhi said from her seat. "But I'm just wondering if Kaoru's just some emo kid that cuts himself."

Kaoru glared at her. "I wouldn't do that –"

But suddenly Hikaru wrenched back Kaoru's sleeve. Kaoru gasped as the fabric rubbed across his burns until they were exposed to them. "What the hell is that?" Hikaru immediately demanded.

Kaoru yanked his arm out of Hikaru's and tore the sleeve back down. He glared at the both of them, who were staring at him with wide eyes. "Shit, Kaoru," Haruhi said quietly. "I didn't actually mean –"

"Shut up. Grease burns, you idiots," Kaoru snapped. "I was making fucking bacon."

Hikaru paled but didn't say anything.

Luckily, the bus was pulling into the parking lot so Kaoru stood abruptly and wedged himself past Hikaru. "Kaoru," Hikaru called after him.

"Fuck off!" Kaoru said. He stalked off the bus filled with rage. He would never cut himself.

Hikaru watched Kaoru storm angrily away towards the school. He sighed. It seemed as if a pattern was forming where he daily pissed Kaoru off.

He and Haruhi took their time getting off the bus. They walked together across the school grounds, both in dismal moods. "I think you should check in on him at his house," Haruhi said suddenly.

Hikaru looked at her closely and she genuinely concerned. "Why?"

She shrugged and adjusted her shoulder bag. "He just seems hurt and depressed. I mean, I barely know him but… I am just getting the vibe."

"Kaoru's not depressed," Hikaru said forcefully with a frown but he was getting a sinking feeling.

"I just knew a kid who hurt himself because… never mind. Just make sure you give him a ride home today because by coincidence, I won't be watching soccer practice today. That way, you can see how he's doing at home."

Hikaru watched her; she seemed sincere. "Okay, but I guarantee that he's not depressed."

So I was reading old reviews from my other story, Paper Hearts and Paper cranes, and it made me so motivated to write this next chapter. Thanks guys for the reviews on The Knives in His Sleeves. Every review encourages me and I just want to say thank you! Well, I hope you enjoy this chapter. Now I am going to try to write a chapter for Fading Fast. ALSO REMINDER! I write short chapters so I can update more often. I know the updates aren't as frequent right now, but I promise once I get my paper done, reviews will go SOOOO much faster! Okay, peace.