Okay, here's the next one. From Makoto's little sister. I apologize for the delay. This was harder to get right than I thought, but I hope everyone had a great new year. This idea is based slightly off a prompt I saw a while ago, I don't remember where from. Enjoy!
3. Big Brothers
Seven-year-old Tachibana Ran excitedly dragged her twin brother toward the school exit . "Hurry, Renren, Mako-nii-chan is picking us up from school today!" she cried excitedly.
Ren let out a whine of disapproval. "Ran-chan, you're hurting my arm."
Ran rolled her eyes but loosened her grip. She was eager to see her big brother. Her parents were both busy at work and couldn't come home until late tonight so Makoto was going to babysit them all day today. She and Ren both adored their big brother. When they finally emerged into the cool air they were greeted with another surprise.
"Haru-nii!" Ran shouted at the same time as her brother.
Haru's usually indifferent expression shifted into one of slight surprise as the twins both launched themselves at him. "We didn't know you would come too, Haru-nii," Ren babbled excitedly.
Haru shrugged. "I wanted to come see you."
Makoto laughed easily at them. "Why aren't you two excited to see me? Am I not special?"
Ran giggled. "You're special, Mako-nii. But you aren't Haru-nii."
A hint of a smile appeared on Haru's face as Makoto snickered. "Well, I guess you don't want these," he teased, as he pulled two candy bars from his bag.
"We want them!"
"I love you, Mako-nii, you're the best."
Makoto chuckled as he gave each of the twins their candy. Ran ate hers contentedly. Yes, she loved these days when her dear big brother would pick her and Ren up from school. She didn't wipe the smile from her face the whole way home, even when Ren won the argument and got to ride home on Haru's shoulders instead of her. Piggyback rides from her Makoto were enough to keep her happy.
Once they arrived at home the twins were discarded on the couch. Haru sat between them and allowed them to both lay their heads in his lap while Makoto made snacks.
"Maybe we should start our homework," Makoto suggested as he walked back with a tray of apple slices.
Ran wrinkled her nose at the idea. "No! Can we watch you and Haru-chan play the puppy game?"
Makoto shook his head. "Haru has to head home. He only came to pick you two up. And I know you two have a math test in two days."
Ran and her twin pouted in unison, staring up at Haru with matching wide eyes. Haru rolled his in response, but his mouth twitched upward. "I can stay for a little while," he relented, as both children jumped him in excitement.
Makoto shook his head, but he relented. Ran knew he could never say no to any of them. He was setting up the game console when he stopped and broke into a vicious coughing fit, covering his mouth as he struggled to breath.
"You okay nii-chan?" Ren asked timidly. Mako nodded and smiled. Haru met Makoto's eyes across the room and they shared a look before Haru shrugged and glanced away. Ran didn't understand it, but her brother and his best friend seemed to be able to communicate without words half the time.
"Haru-nii, can I sit on your lap this time?" Ran asked, not waiting for an answer as she plopped herself on Haru's legs. She thought she heard the older boy chuckle, but when she glanced back at him in surprise his face was the usual mask of indifference.
Makoto came back with the game and Ren snuggled into his lap. It was a simple game that basically included the two characters racing puppies. Haru would usually win, which was exactly the reason that Ran chose to be on his team. Occasionally, she'd rip the controller from his hands right at the end of a race and claim the victory as her own, pleased to rub it in both her brothers' faces.
Their gaming experience was great until Makoto paused the game and released another round of hacking coughs, pushing Ren off his lap to cover his mouth with his arm.
Haru eyed him appraisingly. "Are you okay?" he asked, speaking the words aloud this time. Ran frowned. Her big brother hardly ever got sick. Usually he was the one taking care of her and Ren. It made her a little worried.
Makoto shook his head. "Haru, I'm fine."
Haru raised an eyebrow. "You're not."
"Don't worry! Just a little sick, only a cough. It's nothing too bad."
Haru narrowed his eyes, but looked away towards the ceiling.
Ren jumped back into his brother's lap and squirmed. "I just want to keep playing."
Makoto glanced at his watch and shook his head. "No, I think you two really have to start your homework. And Haru should probably head home."
Ran pouted spectacularly. "Onii-chan! Just one more game."
Makoto winced and turned away. "Ran, I'm sorry, but I have a bit of a headache," he replied. "And we all have school tomorrow."
Ran whimpered, but for once it seemed her brother was going to stay stern. She clung to Haru as he pried her from his lap and then she laid dramatically on the floor. "I'm not doing my homework…" She announced, though her voice was muffled by the carpet.
Someone ruffled her hair and she reluctantly glanced up. "If you're good I might play again Saturday," Haru whispered, a hint of a smile in his eyes. Ran's face broke into a grin.
"Haru-nii!" she squeaked, and she hugged the older boy with all her might. "Why don't you just live here?" Haru ignored her question, but Ran felt like it made perfect sense. After all, Haru was Makoto's favorite person. In her eyes, they went together like her mother and father. Sometimes it made her sad that Haru lived all alone. Makoto tried to explain that Haru actually felt comfortable being alone, but that didn't make any sense to her. Nobody could really like to be lonely.
Dragging her feet, Ran followed her brothers to see Haru off. Makoto handed Haru his school bag and waved cheerily as his best friend stood in the doorway, but Haru paused as he was about to leave.
"I can watch the twins if you're not feeling well."
"I'm fine," Makoto chuckled. However, his words were invalidated when he was interrupted by another round of retching coughs. For the first time, Ran did notice her brother looked a tad pale.
Haru snorted. "Really?"
Makoto shrugged. "It's just a cough and a headache. My parents will be home soon anyway. You don't need to worry."
Haru tsked in disapproval, but sighed and turned to head outside. Makoto waved at Haru's back, before coughing into his arm.
"Are you sure you're feeling well, Mako-nii?" Ran asked softly.
Makoto nodded and ruffled his sister's hair. "I'm fine. You don't need to worry about me too, Ran-chan."
"But you always worry about us."
He kissed the top of her head. "Because that's my job as your big brother."
Ran giggled and promptly forgot about her concern as she and her twin begged their older brother to make mac and cheese for dinner.
"It's my absolute favorite!" Ren cried.
Ran nodded enthusiastically.
Makoto went off to make dinner while Ren and Ran started on their homework. One math problem was particularly difficult. After bickering about it for a few minutes, the two seven-year-olds gave up. "Fine, I know I'm right, but I'll ask Mako-nii!"Ran snapped. Ren stuck his tongue out at her as she scampered off towards the kitchen.
"Mako-nii, I have a math question…." Ran narrowed her eyes when her brother didn't answer instantly. "Nii-chan?" Makoto was strangely pale, his breathing uneven. He tried to look down at his sister, but instead he wobbled. Ran hardly had time to register what was happening before his eyes rolled back in his head and collapsed backwards. His head hit the side of the kitchen table with a devastating crunch Ran would never quite forget. Her scream of terror alerted Ren something was wrong. She was vaguely aware of her brother walking into the room, sort of registered his sobs of panic as she shook Makoto.
"Mako-nii, Mako-nii! Wake up, please! Wake up!" she whimpered desperately, but he didn't respond and remained motionless on the ground.
Perhaps if she weren't just a spoiled little girl, or if she were thinking more clearly, she may have done the proper thing and called an ambulance. But instead, Ran followed her gut. Her legs moved without her even thinking and she was bounding down the street on the familiar path towards Haru's house. She stumbled down the stairs, not even caring when she tripped and scraped her knees, trying to maneuver herself despite the tears in her eyes. Finally, after what felt like hours, she arrived at Haru's front door.
She pounded on the door. "Haru-nii! Help! Please!" she sobbed.
It took a few moments, but Haru opened the door, eyes wide with concern. His hair was still dripping wet and he was in nothing but his jammers and an old t-shirt.
"Mako…. Mako-nii… he fell and I-I…" she cried, unable to quite say anything. Haru didn't wait any longer for an explanation. He scooped the little girls up in his arms and dashed off for the Tachibana's.
Ran cried into his shoulder and listened to his heavy breathing. Haru practically crashed through the front door, and after a brief pause, headed for the kitchen and the sound of Ren's crying.
Makoto was laying on the floor, still unconscious. He was pale white and to Ran he looked almost dead. Haru set Ran down gently. "Wait in the living room. It will be okay," he murmured evenly. His steady words comforted her, and she managed to calm herself down. Ren was on the phone, trying to give the emergency operator some information, but wasn't having much luck through his sobs. Haru pried the phone from his hands and gingerly told him to wait with his sister.
Ran grasped onto her brother's arm and buried her face into his shoulder. He continued to cry.
"D-don't worry. Haru-nii is here. He loves Mako-nii. He'll make sure everything is okay," she mumbled, more to reassure herself then her brother.
A few minutes later, a hoard of people were invading the house. A kind looking woman carefully took them each by the hand and led them outside. By this time, Ren had stopped crying. He rubbed his eyes and squeezed his sister's arm for reassurance.
"Is nii-chan okay?" Ran asked, trying not to sound afraid.
The lady smiled gently. "Everything will be alright. Just stay calm. We're going to take your brother to the hospital. You two are very brave."
Ran didn't feel brave. She just felt useless. But she didn't want to cry anymore. She wasn't a baby. And she need to take care of Renren. They stood side-by-side outside, not really understanding what was happening, but worried for their brother nevertheless.
After a few minutes Haru finally emerged from the crowd. His face was a little red and his hands were shaking, but other then that he looked just as calm as always. He knelt down in front of them. "We're going to the hospital with these people. Your parents will meet us there."
Ren sniffled. "Where's Mako-nii?"
Haru bit his lip. "He's safe. Doctors are taking care of him," he mumbled.
Ran hugged his legs and told herself not to cry.
It only took about twenty minutes after they arrived at the hospital for Ran's mom and dad to arrive. They both look stressed and worried, but Ran was relieved when her father hugged her, still under the childish belief her parents could fix everything.
A came to lead her parents away, and after some gentle nudging Ran and Ren were forced back in their seats beside Haruka.
He sat between the twins, staring blankly ahead of him. Somehow, his presence was comforting and Ran squeezed his hand.
She laid her head on his arm, realizing how exhausted she felt despite it only being around seven o'clock. She was shaken awake what felt like minutes later, her father smiling kindly at her.
"Hello, my brave little one," he mumbled. "Makoto is fine."
"He is?" Ran whispered sleepily, the relief palpable in her voice.
He nodded. "We'll go see him for a minute and then we're taking you home for bed. The doctors want to keep him here for tonight just to make sure, because he got a bad bump on the head, and he'll have to rest for a while, but he'll be okay."
Ran soaked in her father's words, relaxing against him. She took his hand and allowed him to pull her down the hallway. Her mother grabbed Ren and Haru silently followed them.
"You have to be quiet now," Ran's mom told the twins gently. "Makoto is probably sleeping."
When they reached Makoto's room he was peacefully asleep, as his mother had guessed. Ran couldn't help but hang back by her father's legs in fear. Strange machines and noises were everywhere in the strange hospital room. She had a hard time believing her big brother would really be okay.
Haru shuddered beside her and took a step back. Mrs. Tachibana quickly reached for the teen, looking a little alarmed. Ran could understand her mother's concern. She'd never seen Haru get emotional before.
"I… I'm sorry," he whispered, stiffening against the woman's embrace. "I should have stay with the twins." His voice was as steady and impassive as ever, but his trembling hands gave him away.
Ran raced over and clutched Haru's legs. Seeing Haru sad was scary. "It's not your fault," she muttered.
Mrs. Tachibana nodded in agreement. "Makoto overworks himself. And he's going to be fine. He loves you a lot, Haru-san. He doesn't want you to work yourself up over this. I'm sure he'll tell you himself when he wakes up."
Haru didn't respond and shrugged away from the attention, instead seating himself in the chair beside Makoto's bed.
Ran pursed her lips, but her mother squeezed her hand and she decided to leave Haru alone. Meanwhile, Ren was examining his brother with curious eyes.
"He's really okay, okaasan?" the little boy asked skeptically. His mother nodded and picked Ren up gently.
"Yes, but he needs to rest. He'll be able to come home tomorrow and we'll take care of him. Say goodbye for now. It's time for us all to go to bed."
Ran quietly walked forward and kissed her big brother's cheek. "Love you, nii-chan," she whispered, careful not to disturb him. Ren also said goodbye. She took her father's hand so they could leave and they silently headed for the exit.
"Haru-san, you should come too," her father called gently as he ushered the twins from the hospital room.
Haru didn't even flinch in the chair and instead shook his head.
Mrs. Tachibana pursed her lips. "Haru, I understand you're worried. But the doctors promised Makoto will be fine. And you need to sleep."
Haru shook his head again and glanced up to meet her eyes. "I'll stay here."
It was all they could get out of Haruka. The teen stayed stubbornly rooted to the spot beside Makoto's bed, no matter how they tried to reason with him. In the end, Ran's parents had to relent and decided they'd pick Haru up with Makoto in the morning.
"That boy always has been terribly stubborn," Mrs. Tachibana sighed, to which her husband only chuckled. When Ran glanced back to check just one more time on her brother she saw Haru had silently reached for his hand. She smiled and quickly chased down her parents, the door closing behind her. She was more than eager to get out of the awful hospital.
" Okaasan, wouldn't you be just as worried if something like that happened to Otosan?" she asked innocently. Her parents glanced at each other and seemed to have a wordless conversation. How come it seemed everyone but her had the ability to do that?
Her mother smiled. "I suppose so," she agreed. "Makoto is lucky to have a friend like Haru."
Ran couldn't help but agree. To most of the world, Haru seemed an impassive robot. And maybe some of the time, he did act that way. But Ran knew Haru was more than that, if only because he clearly cared for her big brother.
I... I don't know if I like this chapter. I rewrote the ending a lot, but I don't know if I like it. At one point there was a lot of medical jargon, but I removed it all thinking a seven-year-old wouldn't be told about, care about, or understand any of that. I hope Haru seemed in character. I really tried. This operates under the assumption that Ren and Ran are nine in the anime, so Makoto and Haruka are about 15 here. I don't think the twins have canon ages, but if they do I'm sorry I got that wrong. Thanks for reading! Review if you have time.