Chapter 2: Lost memories, a confused half
"Where have you been?"
"Around", he smiled foolishly as his arms released my back, "Yanno, you can be pretty damn hard to find! A friend of mine once told me he confused you with me, I could've asked him for help but… I wanted to find ya by myself. I mean, we were in the same college, right? I knew it would happen sooner or later...", he paused, ginning widely, "It all happened so long ago but at last..."
"Long ago…", I murmured, his words no longer reached me as my brain fiercely shot me to another reality in a distant time.
Blurry images, a galloping heart, a petrified body, scared thoughts. All mixed in a bloodcurdling vortex.
"You must be crazy!"
Two shadows, arguing.
"This isn't normal. Brothers don't do this!"
"'S somethin' wrong, Toki?"
Those words…belonged to my past. My mom…and my…dad, they were arguing about us.
My eyes averted to him, those sapphires were worried about me, "Nothing.", I shook my head and smiled at him fondly, "It's nothing. Since when were you looking for me?"
"Almost after dad left you. He took me with him to another prefecture. Akita-ken."
"Akita? Sure it is far… how did you manage to come here?"
"By plane, I found a cheap flight. Fukuoka-shi isn't that far, it's only one hour and a half away from Akita-shi."
"How is dad doing? Didn't he come with you?"
"I dunno… but I guess he's alright.", he posed his hands on his opened legs, sighing. His eyes dropped, "Yanno, he didn't come with me, actually… he kicked me out once he saw my intentions of being an idol weren't a joke."
My incredulous eyes widened, "He did that?"
"Yeah." After a while, his head perked, showing me a happier expression, "Somethin's puzzlin' me. When ya looked at me, at first, it was like ya didn't remember…who I am. "
"I'm sorry. It's awkward but…I didn't until now."
"How come?", his head titled both curious and bewilderedly.
"I mean, I remembered you but only in my dreams. I've been dreaming about you ever since I was little yet they only became frequent recently. I never knew they were all about you. If I didn't see you now, I'd never guess."
"Ya thought they were about you then…"
"Yes.", I nodded.
"B-but why? I always remembered you.", his face twisted even more, his confusion becoming more visible at each second.
"I don't know."
It didn't make any sense. I might be a child when they left but I should be able to recall my brother and dad. I also couldn't tell why I started having flashbacks the instant I saw his face, I needed answers, more than ever. Answers only mom could give.
"it's getting late."
"Yeah… Stars are shinnin'.", he stood up, gazing at the starry sky.
Leaving the bench, I walked a couple of meters, meeting a frantic Hayato soon after. Pouting and rounding my shoulders, he exaggeratedly complained on how mean I was in leaving him behind. I told him I wouldn't do that while my hand carefully took his arm off me, deciding I had enough invasion of personal space. I couldn't do anything else but to apologise and explain when he directed a hurt look to me. In a way I understood him, we were apart for too long and he just wanted to be close, however, he must learn quickly I didn't like when someone was too near. I wasn't the same Tokiya from years ago, I didn't let others cling to me, I was colder, I was older. Unsatisfied and unhappy, he continued pouting childishly as we resumed our stride, making our quiet way out of that striking garden.
"Hayato… where have you been sleeping? Dad isn't with you and we don't have any family here."
"Nope, we don't. I'll show you where I live, come!"
We walked off college and to the opposite direction of my house. Silent times alternated with chatter. Meanwhile I learnt he was much different from me, he talked non-stop, was always smiling widely and had a gleaming aura, displaying his self without hindrance. There was a point when I started wondering if his face didn't hurt at all from his huge though graceful grin. Sometimes I listened to him, others I just stared, innerly analysing his expressions.
He still had that innocent appearance…
Blue hair, covering a pale face, jerked backwards showing two determined eyes and blushing cheeks.
His expression was adorable.
"I like you! I like you, onii-chan!"
"H-hayato…", his resolve faded as he didn't see any further reaction, "We shouldn't- we can't do this, papa and mama-"
"They don't have to know, no one!", he uttered with slight despair.
I looked into his eyes, "…Haya-chan…", those ingenuous sapphires… they were enchanting. My cheeks, still dusted with shy pink from the last kiss he gave me, the first for both, became darker. I held his hand and uttered in a serious tone, "I like you too."
Slowly but surely we drawn closer again, mildly holding hands. My heartbeat raced, probably his too. We smiled.
And we prayed no one would see us.
And we prayed the cherubs up above would close their eyes for an instant, giving us privacy.
And we prayed that meek and innocent kiss wouldn't be our last.
Those images disturbed me. Me and my brother? I kissed my own brother?! That was wrong in so many ways...
We were children, we didn't know what we were doing and, fortunately, he must've forgotten about it.
My thoughts, my confused mind, it all plunged once I saw his 'house'.
"You live under a bridge?!"
"Guess ya can say that!", he rubbed his head as a goofy smile, apparently his trademark, unveiled.
The place where he 'lived' had boxes everywhere, the surroundings were engulfed by the wall's sad grey. Looking attentively at the gloomy wall, a river flowed to an unknown place, pitiful of that scene.
Seemingly he'd sleep in some cartons as the others had clothes and food. Did my brother live under this misery since he enrolled in college? He said he was dropped a month before classes… And where did he bath himself? Did he ever get sick? How could dad do that to him?!
"Didn't dad at least pay you a hotel, a hostel… anything?"
"Nope.", he shrugged, "He only gave me a small sum of money. I spent some on essentials and paid for tuition fees but I didn't really have enough to pay a hostel. Guess I gotta look for a part-time soon before it runs out.", Trying to hide his pain. he glanced at the wall before us and beamed sadly,
"No, you don't. You're coming to my house."
His sapphires looked at me while his hands waved, "Hey, you don't need to-"
"That's final. Pick up your things and let's go."
The sad expression he had moments ago faded into a touched smile, "Thanks, Toki.", his arms rounded me again but this time it was sweeter. Was it because of my remembrance? Hastily shoving those thoughts away, I broke off his hold.
"Did you forget the conversation we had before? Haaa… What do you need me to do?"
"Hum…", he looked around the messy site, aiming his finger to a specific box, "Just help me takin' my clothes out. I'll keep 'em in my suitcase. Food's next."
In a matter of fifteen minutes we packed his stuff and were ready to leave that hideous place. Soon we found the bus which would take us home and settled on our seats. Looking around, I noticed only dim lights shone upon us as the vehicle rolled its way through the road. The street lights passing by brought some kind of tranquillity amidst my chaotic mind.
"I wonder how mom's doing… I missed her so much.", he started after a rather quiet while. Could it be that he wasn't comfortable with silence? There were so many things I'd have to uncover about him. Funny, we were more like strangers than brothers. I'd have to study his behaviour and tastes from now on.
"She's just fine. Hayato…do you remember why they split apart and separated us?"
"Dad always told me it was 'cause they had big quarrels but I dunno why they split us too. Maybe 'cause they wanted to stay close to us, it wouldn't be fair if one had both by their side and the other none. Though… it really hurt, their separation and ours."
"I wonder. Mom never spoke about you, did da-."
He shook his head, "Dad either."
I looked through the window as a heavy silence followed. "I'll ask mom why.", my stare averted to him.
"Yeah, I wanna know too. Just 'cause they divorced doesn't mean we couldn't keep track of each other and them too. He never allowed me to look for you, every time I tied, I had to hide it from him. It was so hard... he's your dad too!"
"I know, whenever I asked mom if we had other relatives she denied. How did you know I still lived here?"
"I got my own resources.", he winked, "I waited 'till I was sure of where you were and when I finally spoke with dad 'bout it, he prohibited me. The same day I confessed him I wanted to be an idol for real."
"The day you…"
"Yeah.", he nodded, "Yanno, it's kinda weird. It's like ya have amnesia or somethin'. You only can't remember things from when we lived together."
"Yes…", I lifted my finger, touching my chin pensively, and sketched a curious smile, "Could you tell me more about that time?"
"Sure!", his arm rose.
I sweatdropped, seeing that childish act, "Hayato, we're in a public place, don't do such ludicrous things."
"Hehe. Sorry, onii-chan.", he murmured almost inaudibly, looking away.
"I like you!, I like you, Onii-chan!"
I trembled just by recalling the previous flashback. Why did he had to call me that?
"Hey, Toki. Did ya have anyone in the meantime?", his expression shone, full of curiosity.
"Yes, I had a girlfriend in high school. You?"
"I had someone too, Yuu."
My mouth nearly fell open, "Her name was Yuu too.."
"Guess we have the same tastes then.", he giggled, "The difference 's that I like guys."
"So you're homo."
"Anything against it?"
"And you're only hetero? Or ya like it both ways?"
"One way only. We'll get off on the next stop."
When we moved towards the opened door I grasped something similar to a sad grimace on his lips.
Maybe he was nervous to see mom again. Otherwise why would he show such a sad face?
It didn't took us long to arrive there, turning the key I uttered "Tadaima." while Hayato remained quiet. He seemed anxious, tapping his foot and looking around, leaving no corner unexamined.
My mom descended the stairs and turned to face me, "Okae-", she tried welcoming but stopped halfway. She was too stupefied to speak, her hand caped her mouth as she stared at us, dumbfounded.
"So, guess what's new, today I found out I have a brother.", anyone could notice the well-defined sarcasm in my words yet her face remained tainted with shock. A beam found its way to her red lips.
"H-hayato…Hayato!", her feet run to him, holding the son she ignored for years as if she actually missed him.
"Hey mom…! Nice to see ya.", he eased, returning her affection.
"Hayato doesn't have a place to stay so he'll stay with us.", I informed.
"…" Why was she hesitating? "O-of course…Are you okay with the sofa, Hayato?"
"I'm fine with anything!"
"Good.", her sapphires smiled but I could tell there was discomfort in them.
Taking our shoes off, we headed to the living room, sitting at the table.
"Mom, 's something wrong?", Hayato asked, noticing how oddly she was behaving despite not knowing her well.
"Mom, why did you lie to me? Why didn't I meet Hayato before? And dad. And why can't I remember anything related to them?"
"I'm sorry…", she sighed, "You two deserve an apology. However, you must understand why all this happened."
"We'd appreciate it.", Hayato nodded weakly, agreeing with my words.
"I and your dad… we had many quarrels, serious ones and decided to divorce."
"But that doesn't explain how you dealt with us.", I bluntly voiced, careful not to be indelicate.
She took a long time to think as if picking the right words, "I…- One day I stepped in your room to pack your clothes and I saw you two…", my ears perked, not wanting to let a single word escape, "Kissing."
"Please, just one more. It's the last one, I promise!", he begged, joining his hands, pouting as his life depended on it.
"Okay, the last for today…"
I held him in my arms, playfully kissing his forehead.
He laughed, "'T's not there, onii-chan!"
Feigning unawareness, I smooched his nose, only wanting to see what face he'd make, I beamed at his huge pout. "I want Toki to kiss here!", his index touched his lips demandingly.
I chuckled again, taking his small hand off the way, and lightly pressed my lips against his.
"Hayato, Tokiya mom is going to-", the clothes she had on her hands fell, her face shocked and confused, "What were you doing?! Never do that again!"
Her strong hands hurt, pushing us away from each other and slapping our ass cheeks. Hayato begun crying loudly as I clenched my hands into fists, trying my hardest to avoid the tears that stubbornly invaded my eyes. It hurt. The way she split us, her weighty hand. Mom usually didn't slap us so we must've done something very wrong. I didn't truly know what but from her words it was the kiss. We had never told anyone about those sweet moments, it was a secret we consensually shared, something uniquely ours. Through those inexperienced kisses we conveyed our love, our affection for each other.
An uncomfortable and strong feeling invaded me again, however I couldn't put a finger on what it was. Just as before, I pushed it away.
"But that was something from the past. We didn't know what we were doing at that time.", I argued, "It wasn't enough for you two to split us like you did.", I looked straight into her blue eyes.
"We did it because you continued! Try putting yourselves in my shoes, siblings don't go around kissing each other, you have the same blood for God's sake!"
"Even so, you didn't have the right…!", Hayato protested.
"We tried everything in our reach, but you two...! You ignored us!"
"We were five! We never thought it was something wrong at that time."
"Maybe you're right, Tokiya. Even so, that was the best decision to make.", she dropped her head, obviously in pain. It was hard for her too, not only us. Trying to ease the atmosphere, Hayato questioned, "Why couldn't Toki remember about dad and I?"
"Someday, Tokiya fell off a bike and his head hit the ground. At that time you and your father were already gone. Tokiya was in coma for a couple of weeks but fortunately doctors took good care of him. When he woke up, in time everything returned back to normal, except for one thing-"
"He didn't remember anything related to us…", my brother concluded.
"Exactly. Since Tokiya suffered so much before with your absence and you were far away I decided to let it be."
"However, all these years I dreamt of Hayato and have been having flashbacks ever since I saw him. So, the memories are still stored somewhere in my brain."
"Maybe. Perhaps it cost you so much-" Hayato's grumbling stomach interrupted our chain of thoughts. We stared at him blankly, he sweatdropped, rubbing his head while that goofy smile played, "A-aa sorry! It's just that-", it growled again, "I'm really hungry…"
"I'll cook, you two need to talk.", I stepped out of there ad looked for vegetables in the fridge. We needed to buy more food, it was barely empty. I didn't know if Hayato would eat much or not but I had a feeling he'd eat like a pig. I put my apron on, and cut the vegetables, fetching the fish afterwards.
I felt revolted with my parents for doing what they did, hiding the truth and taking Hayato away from me. Dad didn't even bother to visit me, to know how I was and mom did the same to Hayato. However while we had dinner I learned why that happened. Before following their separate ways, they agreed we would never see each other again as well as them. It was as if from that day on, they never had twins but an only child to take care of. Who would've thought an unaware happening, or happenings, between siblings could have such devastating consequences?
Collapsing on bed, I hoped that dream would fade forever and give place to a well-rested night. But just when I was nearly falling in slumber, a hand lightly shook me.
"Hnnn….", grunting, I rolled my face to see who was bothering me, "Hayato… What are...you doing here…?"
"Can't sleep!", he whispered, "And…", he played with his fingers, "I felt lonely. Can I sleep with you tonight?", his eyes hopefully grew. Did he really change through those years? That part of him surely didn't.
"You're eighteen…! Go back… to the living room… 'n… sleep…!.", I replied tiredly. That day had been a long one.
"C'mon…! I won't bug ya.", he promised.
Yet, that day had been full of emotions for him too, and I craved for my rest, so I just turned around, shifting on the bed to give him space.
"Thanks!", he slipped inside rather artfully, moving closer to my body to get his share of warmth on that winter night. "Toki…" One of my eyes opened, "What now?", running into a huge, nevertheless pleading, grin, "I'm cold, can I hold your hands?"
"...Whatever… just lemme slee…", I slurred.
In brief seconds I felt a pair of smooth, cold hands enveloping mine.
"I need a glass of water. Hayato, move away! You have to go to your bed."
"But Toki's more comfy…", he whined, "I don't like being alone.", he pulled his feet up so I could move on the covers. "Come back soon!", Hayato pleaded when I passed through the doorway.
Step by step I reached the main corridor. There I noticed the kitchen's light was still on and then the sketch of two shadows spreading out of the door. I peeped from the doorway, careful not to be seen.
Perhaps my sleepy eyes were playing tricks on me as I couldn't see clearly.
But I could tell that…
"You must be crazy!"
Dad was arguing with mom.
"This isn't normal. Brothers don't do this!"
And mom was arguing with dad.
A shiver made its was though my spine, that scared me, I never had seen them fighting before. Especially that way. Turning, I walked away from there as fast as I could. I wasn't thirsty anymore, I just wanted to run away from that site and those angry voices. Hayato gazed at me, apprehensive. "What's wrong? Did you see a ghost?"
"…", I walked to him never saying a word, releasing inaudible pants. Once I was covered by sheets he took my hands in his, "Come here, you must be feeling cold." And so I was embraced by him, basking in his warmth. "Thanks, Haya-chan." At that time, I felt protected by him, surrounded by him. His presence, his smell, his soft heat…like a lullaby, they sent me to a dream world.
Just like in that memory, I fell asleep.
"I love you, Toki.", a soft voice mumbled against my forehead, smooching it afterwards.
"I like… you too…Haya-chan…", my smiling voice replied, unaware of what it said.
A/N: The difference between –shi and –ken when referring to Akita or Fukuoka is: the first refers to the city itself and the latter to the prefecture.
A/N 2: Reply to guest: thank you so much and sorry for the delay, I had to publish other stories first. Hope you're still enjoying it!
Fav and/or follow and review. I need to be fed. :)