AUTHOR'S NOTES:  Wahh!  This is the last chapter before my epilogue (which is kind of like a one-shot with a slight connection to this story—well, more than a slight connection because Sei is in it—but you all understand what I'm saying).  Wouldn't you just know that as soon as I'm ending this, I begin to wish that I'd made it longer so I could keep writing?  Bah, humbug!  Well, I could always write a sequel if I come up with a really good idea, right?  Anyway, please read my ending.  It's a tad bit short because. . . I don't know why.  I only wrote it in two sittings, so that's probably it.  This is also a kind of choppy chapter because I'm concluding (I hope) every aspect of my story.  If you have questions about any of the facets, you can write them in your review and I'll try to add them into my epilogue.  Here's a super important note to all of you who haven't read to volume six: there are spoilers in this chapter for volume six and possibly seven.  Read at your own risk!  But the spoilers aren't that bad—trust me.  They're about a side character anyway.  Please read this anyways!

What Wasn't Meant to Be by Sushifishie

Chapter Twelve: Broken Petals

Twisting the clay flower in his fingers, Sei heaved a sigh.  It never took too much to get him depressed, but this was the saddest he'd felt in a long time.  He'd skipped the shrink appointment that day and had been brooding ever since.  He wanted to smash the flower into tiny pieces, just to show Kira how angry he was.  But, he wasn't honestly that angry.  As his overflowing eyes finally let a small tear fall down his cheeks, he remembered the painting he'd made of his mother.  She was crying, too—crying until her face was blackened with tears.

            Sei wondered if he should blacken his face, too.  Kira was the first person who really accepted him and wasn't family.  If she was choosing Rei over him, then wouldn't everyone else choose the same?  Would anyone care if he decided to die?

            Giving himself a mental slap, he put the flower on the bed.  It wasn't as bad as he was making it out to be.  It was possible that Kira just liked Rei's pose more than Sei's, right?  No—that was not possible.  Sei knew that a painting had nothing to do with a pose; it had to do with feelings between the painter and the model.  Kira and Rei had something better than what Kira and Sei had, he knew.  Otherwise, it would have been him in the painting.

            Also, Kira wouldn't have left his gift at the show.  If Rei had not noticed it on the floor, it would probably be gone forever.  At least he could still keep the sculpture, even if Kira did turn it down.

            But, what did Kira and Rei have between them?  Sei knew that Rei had kissed her on the Ferris wheel, but he had said that there wasn't anything behind it.  He'd told his brother that it was just a Rei Kashino impulse, just like he always had.  It'd seemed a little bit peculiar, but Sei had given him the benefit of the doubt.

            Now, though, Kira had returned the favor almost.  She'd painted him with feeling and never told anyone.  She'd let everyone assume that she was just painting her boyfriend, when actually it was her boyfriend's brother—his twin nonetheless.  This story might even be in the newspaper, he didn't really know.  Then, the entire city would know that he'd gotten shot down.  Rei always won at everything.  Now, he even got the girl.

            Sei picked up the flower and put it in the microwave.  At least he wouldn't be able to see it there.  As he sat back down on the bed, wondering why he hadn't died that time in junior high, he wiped away another tear.  What was happening to him?

*          *          *

The sun was blinding outside of the apartment complex next to his bike.  Rei looked up to where he knew Kira lived and squinted.  The blinds were shut, but it appeared that there was some light streaming through from a lamp.  He bit his lip and began to wonder if he really should talk to her.

            How did he really feel about her?  Sometimes, Rei only wanted happiness for his brother and wouldn't dream of stealing away his very first girlfriend.  But, other times, he found himself wishing that he had seen her first and wanted to steal her away.  Though that gave little credit to Kira's loyalty, he was certain that he could take her if he wanted.  Then he would remember his brother and return to wishing him happiness and a pleasant future.  His brain was so muddled!

            He approached the building with rising apprehension.  He didn't quite trust himself to be alone with Kira.  The last time that happened—that was the kiss.  Oh, the kiss!  Rei didn't really know how Kira had felt about the kiss.  She had told him that it was all right because it was just the way that he was, but was she really that unaffected?  Usually, a girl would fall for him after one kiss, but why was it that she resisted?  She did resist his charms, right?

            Shaking his head, he pushed open the door to the lobby.  At the front desk, there was a bell to ring for the landlady, who was always absent in his own apartment.  Of course, Kira's apartment also had much better security than his own—she would never have a fight outside her living room door.  He stepped toward the desk, poised to ring the bell.

            Then, he stopped.  Did he really want to talk to Kira?  Would it really make things any better?  Maybe he needed to think this out more carefully.

            Rei turned his heel and left the lobby, going back onto the street.  Heading across it and down a little ways, he continued onto the park grounds.  There, he found a secluded bench and took a seat, watching people meander past on their way to the gardens.

            Without really thinking, he began to pick at the corners of his fingers.  This whole thing was just too complicated.  He just wanted to forget everything that happened in the past few months and return to how it used to be.  Sei didn't have a girlfriend and Rei caught tail almost every night.  Something in his mind told him that wouldn't be for the better.  Kira had made too much of an impact on both of their lives.  Neither of the boys wanted a life without her.  She was important to them.

            Trailing his gaze with a mother and two children, Rei grinned.  He wondered if he'd ever come to this park with his mother.  Was Sei with them at the time?  Did their dad participate in their lives like he was trying so desperately now?

            He felt a thunk on the bench beside him and glanced over to see who had sat down.  It was Harumi, the girl who had talked to him at the circuit.  The one who he'd turned down more than once.  She had obviously been very jealous of Rika, and he knew what she was there for.  Another love confession was well on its way.

            "Rei," she began with a piercing stare, "you know what I'm about to say, don't you?"

            He nodded.  "I have a faint idea."

            "If that's the case, then what's your answer?" she asked in a low voice.  "Why won't you go out with me?"

            Rei sighed.  "I don't know why—too hung up on something, unresolved love, stuff like that, you know?"

            "Are you talking about Rika?" she questioned incredulously.

            Shaking his head, he replied, "Not really.  It's someone else, but it's not really anyone's business.  I'll have to talk it out with the person before I talk to you about it."

            As he stood to leave, Harumi ventured, "So that's a no, then?"

            "That's a not yet," he grinned.  "I already have your number.  I'll call you when I'm free," he said, pointing a finger at her as he walked away.

            As he headed back toward his motorcycle destined for his own apartment, he thought to himself, that girl will never give up!

*          *          *

Kira twisted her finger around her phone cord, almost swearing that she heard a motorcycle outside.  If that wasn't coincidence she didn't know what was.  Here, she was debating calling Sei, and she swore that she heard Rei's motorcycle.

            Sighing, she put the phone back in the receiver.  Was she really ready to call him yet?  Surely, he was still unbelievable angry at her, or as Rei might say, super pissed.  Should she risk calling him and getting her hopes crushed?  Was apologizing even something that she could do over the phone?

            Gulping, she reached for the phone with grim determination.  If she didn't call now, she had a feeling that she never would.  It would be awkward to go to school and see him in the halls and in club.  There would be extreme discomfort—something that was not desired by either party.  It was definitely better to make up the day before.  Would he accept her apology?

            She dialed his number, crossing her fingers that maybe he wouldn't pick up.  If he didn't answer the phone, then she would be off the hook!  She could say that she tried calling, but no one answered and could get rid of the guilty feeling in the pit of her stomach.  Please don't pick up!

            "Hello?" a voice on the other line answered.  "This is Rei's and Sei's.  Sei is speaking."

            "Good morning," Kira responded hesitantly.  She could almost see him frown on the other end.  She groped for something to grasp for comfort and ended up clutching a bottle of shampoo.

            On the other phone, Sei flopped onto his bed and felt the tension rise.  He let out a heavy breath before saying, "Listen, Kira, I—"

            "Wait, don't hang up!" she pleaded, dropping the shampoo and leaping to her feet.  Beginning to pace, she told him, "Sei, I really need to talk to you—soon.  So, could you swing by?  I can meet you in the park right outside the garden, okay?"

            The line went silent for a few moments.  Oh, God, Kira thought, this is it!  He's going to break up with me!

            "Okay," he answered finally.  "I'll meet you at the park."

            As the line went dead, Kira found herself squealing happily.  After all that she'd done to him, Sei was still willing to talk to her!  He was so forgiving, not to mention super hot.  Maybe that was the reason she was falling in love with him.  Wait—she was in love with Sei?

            Before she could help herself from thinking it, she realized that it was true.  She was falling in love with Sei.  There was a reason their parting hurt her so much, she really did love him!

            "I love Sei," she admitted to the kitchen table.

            Then, she turned and headed for her room to fix herself for the park.

*          *          *

"Officer, I'm sure that it was just a mistake," Aya evaded, crossing her fingers behind her back.  "While it is your place to look over the children under your care, I insist that Masao did not cause the fire intentionally.  If he did, it was through no fault of the park's."

            Officer Okuda raised his eyebrow.  "I'm not saying that it was the park's fault, I'm just saying that since you were around when Masao committed the felony, you may have to testify in court."

            "So, you aren't suing my park for lack of security?" she asked, knowing that she was treading in dangerous waters.

            "Heavens, no!" he chuckled.  "Wherever did you get that idea?  It was Masao's fault entirely!  While I don't like to see any of my kids put in Juvenile Hall, it's about time that kid got put someplace where he can't do any more harm.  Really, he should have gone a long time ago."

            Aya nodded, "Yes, I am not a newbie to Masao's—eccentrics.  He's caused my park more than one lawsuit in the past year."

            Officer Okuda nodded.  "He's been like that ever since I found him beat up in an ally.  Apparently, he was bullied often because of his appearance."

            "Who bullied such a defenseless kid like Masao?" Aya wondered.  Although he was very violent as of late, she knew that Masao used to be a sweet and gentle boy.  It was almost as if his evil twin had come into play.

            "I'm sorry, Ms. Suzuka," he said apologetically.  "I'm not at liberty to answer that question.  Actually, I've probably told you more than you should have known.  I can trust you to keep our conversation confidential, can't I?"

            Aya shrugged, "I have to file a report, but I can keep the part about Masao's past to a bear minimum.  Let me get my papers. . ."

            Suddenly, a phone rang.  Wondering who was calling her cell phone, Aya pulled the device out of her suede jacket.  She flipped the case open and pulled up the antenna.  Then, she pressed talk, hoping that it was nothing important.

            "Aya," Takayuki said teasingly in her ear, "I have a little problem."

            Just the person she didn't want to hear!  Aya had half a mind to turn off her phone after the stunt he'd pulled the other night.  He'd invited another date to the restaurant with them.  What was her name—?

            "This isn't about Signora, is it?" she demanded in a stern voice, completely unlike her character.  "Takayuki!" she demanded.

            She heard a definite pause on the other line before there was any explaining.  "Yeah," he admitted, "actually it is.  Listen, I love what we had going, but I just didn't see any future, you know?"

            Aya coughed into the receiver, letting him know that she was not at all pleased with him.  A few feet away, Officer Okuda wondered who she was talking to.  It was probably her boyfriend, judging by her tone of voice.  They were probably having a fight.

            "You're in the prime of your life!" Takayuki pointed out.  "I'm an old fogy now, and you wouldn't want to be seen with me anyway.  I can really see Signora taking care of my children like a mother, do you understand?  She has a child of her own, and I think that it's in the boys' best interest to have her for a mother."

            "So, you're breaking up with me?" Aya asked pointedly.

            "In so few words, yes."  She could hear him groan, "I'm so sorry Aya, sweetie."

            "Yeah, yeah," she shrugged.  "I had a feeling this was coming.  Oh, well, it's for the better, right?"  She smiled, "See you around, Kashino!"

            "Thanks for understanding," he said as he hung up the phone.

            After putting her cell back in her coat, she continued to gather the formal report papers to take back to Officer Okuda.  To her surprise, and the dropping of papers, he'd found his own way into her office, and had apparently heard her entire phone conversation.

            "Fight with your boyfriend?" he pried, sounding sincere.

            Aya shook her head, "Not really a boyfriend.  He was more of an acquaintance."  She smiled flirtatiously, back to her old self already.

            Having known Aya for a good many years, the officer understood what she was trying to get from him, and just this once, he decided to comply.  "All right, Aya.  What do you say we go and talk these reports over a nice dinner?"

            She smiled even wider, saying, "I'd say yes!"

            Hand in hand, they left the park and headed for the restaurant, where they had a very nice dinner free of scheming teenagers and jealous suitors.  It was spaghetti.

*          *          *

Rei was at the park for the second time that day.  He was pleased to note that Harumi seemed to be gone, at least from the gardens.  Looking at the entrance, he noticed a young couple with their arms wrapped around each others' waist.  Leaning up for a kiss, the female had a wide smile on her face.  The guy obliged and held her a little tighter than before as they continued.

            So immersed in watching the people, he hardly even noticed when someone came and sat down next to him—almost.  He appeared not to notice, especially when the person moved closer to him.  He thought that it might have been Harumi, so he took in a deep breath.  His fears were unjustified.

            "I used to like you, you know," the girl said from her spot on the bench.

            Slowly, Rei turned to look at her.  On the bench, sitting next to him, was the girlfriend of his brother—Kira.  What was she doing talking to him?  Wasn't she supposed to making up with Sei rather than spouting pick-up lines to the brother?  Unless—

            "You know that I'm Rei, don't you?" he asked somewhat suspiciously.  Maybe she had the wrong brother.

            "I know," she nodded, looking at the ground.  Her foot was swinging on the concrete path, kicking little pebbles as she spoke.  "I know that I'm talking to Rei."

            Rei nodded in acknowledgement and let out his breath.  He sat back on the bench without really turning to look at the girl sitting next to him.  To be honest, he didn't want to hear what she was going to say next.  Depending on what came out of her mouth, he couldn't trust himself not to just ask her out then and there.  He hoped that it wouldn't come to that.  While he was thinking, there was a pause that was quite awkward from Kira's perspective.

            She broke it with, "I used to have a crush on you.  That's what I wanted to tell you."

            Rei looked at her, stunned.  "Used to?" he asked.

            Nodding, Kira confirmed, "I really do love Sei.  I just didn't know it, or didn't want to believe it."

            "Oh," he said, staying aloof.  Inside, he was rather stunned.  So the girl had been as attracted to him as he was to her?  It wasn't just one-sided?  By her confession, he actually felt a little disappointed.  This was a time when he wished he'd met her first, then she would be saying, "I really do love Rei," instead of the other way around.  Life sucked, but oh, well.

            Kira finally spoke again, "I just wanted to let you know that I really did like you first."

            Smiling, Rei rose to his feet.  Someone was nearby, and he didn't want the conversation to last any longer.  He pulled Kira into a hug, wishing that he could have stayed that way forever.  Clearly, though, he'd been rejected.  It was time to move on to better things.  He walked out of sight, turning to watch his brother appear in his spot at the bench.

            "I'm so sorry, Sei," Kira began with her head still facing the ground.  "I don't know why I painted Rei instead of you."

            Sei nodded and explained, "I've done a lot of thinking about that, too.  I think I figured out why you did.  See, I was never completely open with you about my past, so you couldn't really see my soul.  But Rei shared so much with you in that one day that a flood of feelings came showing through.  It was natural to want to capture that emotion in your painting.  The art had nothing to do with your feelings, it was about Rei."

            "Wow," Kira said.  "You know, that actually sounds about right.  But it's my fault for not telling you before the show.  I really shouldn't have let you find out that way.  I'm sorry for that, too."

            Sei let a very cute smile appear on his face.  Turning a light shade of red, he said, "I accept your apology."

            "Thank you!" Kira exclaimed, throwing her arms around Sei's shoulders.  He was a little bit startled at her boldness, but returned the hug anyway.

            Leaving her warm breath in his ear, she whispered, "I love you."

            Breaking the embrace, Sei pulled back, seeing that Kira's face was as red as his own.  Taking a gulp of air so that he wouldn't explode, he asked, "What about what you said to Rei a minute ago.  What about liking him first?"

            Grinning, Kira grabbed his hand and said, "Sure, I liked Rei first, but I love you more."

            "Good response," Rei nodded in approval, watching from behind the bushes as they pulled into another hug.  "Though, the action was a little lame.  They're high school students!  Oh, well, they'll have time to learn."

            "Well, if that's the case," Sei grinned broadly, "I love you, too."

            "So, it's conditional love then?" Kira said with fake indignity.

            "But, of course!" Sei teased back, giving her hand a squeeze.  "Oh, yeah, I was thinking about something else this morning, too."

            "Really, what's that?"

            He chuckled, "Remember our operation to break up our parents?  Well, I don't really see any point anymore.  I mean, if they are out on a date, both of us are free.  And, if they happened to get married, we would live in the same house and everything.  We'd see each other every day!"

            "Okay," Kira began suspiciously, "that sounds a little bit perverted.  But, I have to agree with you.  Let's let them have their love.  They let us have ours."

            "Good point.  I love you."

            Kira pulled him into a kiss saying, "I know."

            Watching them lip to lip, Rei decided that it was his cue to exit.  Silently, he slipped to another part of the park and out to the main road.  As he was walking to his bike, he noticed the time.

            "Oh, crap!" he yelled.  "It's time for therapy!"

            Remembering how tied up his brother was at the moment, he decided not to interrupt.  Swinging into his bike, he saw a coffee shop just down the road.  Through the main window, he swore that he could see Tatsuya and Harumi sharing an ice cream sundae.

            Smiling, he pealed out of the parking lot and headed for his doctor's office.  He ran through the door to the blue room five minutes late—right on time for Rei.

            The doctor was sitting at his desk as he usually did.  The session went as it usually did; only there was a sense of completion.  At the end of their time, the doctor announced, "This is our last session together, Rei.  After much discussion and consideration with your father, we've decided that you and your brother have both moved on from what happened at the end of your last school year.  You are ready to leave my hands."

            "Thanks, doc," Rei smiled, gathering his coat to leave.  "You know, Kira and Sei are finally officially together, so he won't be coming in today.  I guess he won't have an official last session."

            "Rei," the doctor began, sounding rather concerned.  "You seem a bit disappointed.  What reason do you have to feel that way?"

            "Oh, I kind of had a little bit of a," he groped for an appropriate word, "crush on Kira earlier this year.  But, that's pretty much over now.  She rejected me."

            "I'm sorry," the doctor told him, sounding sincere.  "Are you all right about that?"

            "Yeah," Rei nodded, giving the doctor a small smile.  "It's. . ." he trailed off.

            The doctor prodded, "It's what?"

            "It's what wasn't meant to be."

AUTHOR'S NOTES:  I forgot how much I love to end things!  I love wrapping everything in the story into a complex little tangle, only to unwind it at the end of my story.  It's my favorite part of writing—conclusions.  I also love to write summaries, which is really weird, because most people seem to hate it.  Oh, well.   The next chapter is my epilogue, which will be kind of short.  This chapter was shorter than I expected it to be, so I might make the end a little bit longer.  No, the epilogue is not necessary to the story in any way; it just makes me happy to write it, because this ending was too. . . I don't know, indefinite?  Oh, well.  Please review for me.  In the next chapter, at the end, I think that I'll give sincere thanks to everyone who's reviewed for me in the past, even if it's just for this chapter.  So, please look for your name and individual thanks.  Look forward to my epilogue!