Chapter 1: Captured
It was his fault. He knew it. This meant it was his responsibility to fix this as the one guilty for buying them sweets from that new food truck and as the older of the two. Anyways, Jyushimatsu is lying on the floor, panting out of exhaustion from trying to tear down the door.
Still, he couldn’t help being terrified despite knowing he needed to be courageous for his little brother. He knew that Jyushimatsu was scared as well and he had to be the strong one for once. As he took a few deep breaths to bottle down his fear and anxiety, he carefully browsed the room, and it was so small and bare he didn’t need to move to do that.
There was a toilet and a sink and the only furniture is a pure white double bed.From the lack of windows, he had to assume they were underground. The walls and floor are a surprisingly clean white and the door made of metal. While there is no outside window, one of the walls is nothing but a thick Plexiglas sheet, making them feel like a weird exhibit. What is on the other side of the glass however is what is truly terrifying.
Just as white as the cell itself, Ichimatsu can smell a vaguely familiar scent of disinfectant with a hint of formaldehyde. In the center of the room is what looks like an operating table, though if the metal cabinet encased in the wall, which looks exactly the same as he has seen in many an American horror movie, he has the feeling its main purpose is autopsy.
Clashing with the morbid undertones are some large surgical lights hanging over the bed, as well as some machines that would probably be useless on a corpse as Ichimatsu can identify them as the type that can read signs of life. The wall by the stair is lined with cabinets and a long counter, the cabinets lined with strange metal tools as well as jarred specimens, a few containing deformed fetuses and other only some just as deformed organs.
What scares Ichimatsu the most however, is what should be the most benign item in the room. By the stairs stands a regular medical grade skeleton replica. Well, two skeletons replicas, each color coded, both missing a significant of bones and both attached in the middle. What makes Ichimatsu’s stomach churn however, is that one of the skeletons is purple and the other, yellow.
“What is it Niisan?” Jyushimatsu asks, his usually cheerful tone showing a hint of worry.
“Oh n-nothing, I was just thinking about how to get out of here.” Jyushimatsu nods at the answer, apparently satisfied. He sits up and starts pulling at the sleeves of the jumpsuit their captor put them in. Ichimatsu shivers at the idea that they were changed into them by some maniac that also knew to color code them properly.
The older lets himself fall next to Jyushimatsu with a sigh: he doesn’t see a way out of there for now. The only thing he can think of is the possibility of negotiating with or of manipulating their captor. Seeing his little brother trembling, Ichimatsu gently threads their fingers together, giving his brother’s hand a squeezing.
They both startle when they suddenly hear footsteps coming down the stairs, and a few seconds later, the door leading up to them opening on a middle aged man. Ichimatsu squints, feeling like he has seen him somewhere and tries to remember so he can maybe get clues on how to escape.
“Awww, look at you. You boys are always so cute!” The man coos from seeing the two holding hands before turning his back on them to lock the basement door. Ichimatsu sneers at the comment and is about to let go of his little brother when he notices Jyushimatsu is trembling slightly and squeezing his hand harder.
“Seeing you two at the park is always such a highlight of my day! It reminds me of when I was young...” He smiles dreamily before letting out a saddened sigh. “But with age, even twins part. It’s rather pretentious to break a set made by mother nature herself.” The man scolds to apparently no one.
“What do you want? Just get it over with!” Ichimatsu hisses, which makes the man laugh as he open a cupboard to grab a lab coat.
“Oh, the feisty one! I’ll start with you. You’re getting an examination and your shots today.” The doctor explains, the word “shots” making Ichimasu’s face drain of color. Jyushimatsu jumps to his feet and stands between the man and his brother as the stranger approaches the Plexiglas with a strange device. The man smiles, apparently charmed by the younger’s protective behavior. He plugs the machine to a tube feeding into the wall and it’s as he is passing out that Ichimatsu realizes that they were being gassed.
When Ichimatsu wakes up, he find himself still in the cell with his little brother gripping him tightly in his sleep and feeling his arm and thigh being significantly sore. There is no relief at the idea that he didn’t need to be conscious for his shots. He buries his face in Jyushimatsu’s hair, hugging him back and doing his best not to cry, repeating to himself the mantra to be strong. They will be okay as long as they are together.
Despite the fear, the first few days in their cell are relatively quiet and predictable. They are given generous meals and a remote to watch a television the man wheeled in on the other side of the glass, but they have to wash themselves using the sink. Every time, they find themselves hurrying, worried they might be watched.
The man had made sure there is no way for them to escape: everything is bolted on tightly and even the chopsticks he gives them are too flimsy to use as screwdriver. It feels like he had planned something like this for a while. Ichimatsu shivers, disgusted a man like that could be thinking about them so much. He hasn’t even given them any clues of who he is or where they are, only talking to tell them that it’s time to eat, sleep or wash or to talk about how much he likes seeing them together.
In a strange way, he appreciates having to sleep by Jyushimatsu’s side every night, a nostalgic happiness bubbling inside of him at being able to comfort each other and at spending this much time together. It doesn’t keep him from wanting to escape however.
As much as some dirty old feelings try to bloom in their present situation, as much as he wishes he can be his little brother’s hero and make him return those feelings, he knows he must focus on fleeing. Or at least on setting Jyushimatsu free: he’s the one with the most hope in his future and who deserves to live the most after all.
Ichimatsu guesses about a week has passed since their capture when the man comes back wearing his lab coat again, approaching with the gassing machine. The brothers brace themselves, knowing they won’t have a choice but to pass out.
Chapter 2: Mangled
Awake to the sound as they peel apart the skin
They pick and they pull
Trying to get their fingers in -(NIN)
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Ichimatsu wakes to the sight of the man cleaning up the surgery table from an absurd amount of blood. He immediately turns to see Jyushimatsu lying by his side and lets out a sigh of relief when he sees he is breathing. That relief is short lived however when he notices something about his brother: his right arm, all the way to the shoulder, is gone. Where it should attach to the socket are instead some thick bandages. He shoots their kidnapper a persistent glare until he is noticed. The man only gives him a condescending smile in return.
They are soon left on their own again, Ichimatsu keeping a close eye on his little brother to make sure he is still alive, anger making his blood boil as he thinks about how he won’t be able to play baseball anymore, or swim at stupidly fast speeds, or lock them into an octopus hold…
Being able to move around as he wants while being loud and destructive is Jyushimatsu, and that bastard took a part of that away. Gently, Ichimatsu snuggles in close to his little brother, hoping that proximity will give him some sort of comfort as he wakes up. For now, he seems to be in a deep sleep thanks to the heavy anesthetics he was given during the surgical procedure.
The television suddenly turns on, making Ichimatsu jump out of his skin. He tries to find the remote to turn it off, but it seems their kidnapper took it with him. The show on it seems to be part of a historical documentary series. It comments on how modern medicine evolved and mentions how some advancements were made in wartime, which seems to be the theme of the episode. Then he hears the name he was afraid to hear, a name he remembers hearing in a grotesque horror movie he regrets watching even more today than he did before.
It is as if his ears put the whole world on mute as he looks at the mangled skeletons again, then at his little brother.
The yellow skeleton is missing its right arm. That skeleton also has half of the right part of its ribcage sawn off and fused with the similarly cut left part of the purple one’s ribcage. And, against his how volition, it is also when he notices that the purple skeleton has no left arm, nor does it have legs or even a hip bone. He needed no further confirmation of his previous suspicion. Still, he got some anyways.
“...the infamous doctor is mostly known for his obsession with twins and his attempt at making a pair of artificially created conjoined twins from two poor Romani children.” Ichimatsu only has the time to run to the sink before he starts throwing up until nothing can come out. Once he’s done, his body is exhausted and his diaphragm is sore. He still does his best to rinse his mouth and dry his face of tears and cold sweat before going back to bed. He tries to comfort himself by thinking that at least, Jyushimatsu won’t have the worst of it. At least, Jyushimatsu has the highest chances of survival. At least, he could be taken apart to save Jyushimatsu if things when south. At least...
But he’s still going to be attached to his worst, most disgusting brother. His immediate blood relative who has always been in love with him, who is going to be rendered as his literal parasitic twin. Ichimatsu grits his teeth as he feels tears roll down his face. He can’t cry. He has to be the strong one. He has to put on a brave face. He has to retrieve his impassible mask. But he can't and instead ends up falling asleep from being emotionally drained.
Jyushimatsu had been unusually quiet since he woke up. He was in the sort of mutism usually reserved for Ichimatsu on a bad day, and knowing how it felt, the older knew not to scold him about cheering up or sharing his feelings. Instead, he did his best to give him comfort by giving him his space and just being there.
Ichimatsu is lying on his stomach on the floor, drawing cats with crayons -the only drawing tool their kidnapper allows- to try and soothe himself. Jyushimatsu has been unresponsive for almost an hour and the older has to qualm the fear of his brother blowing a fuse any moment now. If it happens, it happens.
“Ichimatsu niisan, the skeleton… it’s supposed to be us, isn’t it?” The younger asks, his voice shockingly distant. Ichimatsu takes in a deep breath before answering, hoping to keep his voice level.
“Yeah… I think so.” He replies plainly with so little emotion he even surprises himself. There's no point in lying: Jyushimatsu is going to find out sooner and later, and it's better to be mentally prepared for this kind of inevitable horror.
“Aren’t you scared?” He asks, his tone growing uncertain.
There is a long silence where Ichimatsu considers the appropriate response. Jyushimatsu would know if he lied, so he has to say something at least true-ish. He looks up and when he sees the worried expression on his little brother’s face, he just spews out the truth.
“I’m fucking terrified.” He admits with a tense laugh and he soon feel tears welling up in his eyes he quickly dries with his palm.
“I’m scared too niisan...” Jyushimatsu replies with the same nervous laugh, though his expression quickly melt from anxious to a sadness-laced relief. “But at least we’ll be together Niisan. Even if it’s scary and it hurts and… at least we’ll be together.” The younger says with a nod before looking at his big brother for approval. Ichimatsu is shocked by that optimism but nods in return. Yeah, any horror is easier with Jyushimatsu by his side, even if he wished Jyushimatsu could be spared from it all. In fact, he’d be fine with suffering twice as much if that meant Jyushimatsu could be spared.
Just as he comes to that conclusion, they see the doctor coming back downstairs and Ichimatsu freezes in horror as he sees he is carrying the gas tank with him again. His senses and emotions immediately go out of commission and for once, he is glad they do as he can observe Jyushimatsu punching the plexiglass and screaming at the top of his lungs to the doctor before they pass out once again.
Ichimatsu wakes up to the slow beep of an electrocardiogram, his mind fuzzy from the anesthetics he was given. He raises his head to look around and see where Jyushimatsu is but the first thing he notices is the doctor storing a series of small, opaque plastic bags into a portable cooler and he immediately does the math.
“NO!” The doctor immediately snaps his head towards him and hurries on closing the cooler before pushing Ichimatsu back on the table.
“Let’s calm down, now.” The man instructs while petting Ichimatsu’s hair, who immediately pushes him away with his remaining arm, the adrenaline giving him just enough strength to do so.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!” The doctor quickly bends down to reach something under the table. He injects Ichimatsu's who feels his mind losing touch with consciousness within seconds.
Ichimatsu wakes up again, though this time, he is back in their cell and Jyushimatsu is holding onto his hand for dear life. His one limb left... he was sure of it without even looking. He notices that Jyushimatsu’s nails and knuckles are bloodied, just as the wall is and he feels guilty for not having been there for his little brother. It doesn’t matter that he couldn’t help it, that he was on anesthetics: he should have been there.
“Don’t hurt yourself...” Ichimatsu whispers under his breath as he rubs the back of his brother’s hand with him thumb. Jyushimatsu turns to him as soon as he hears him speak, pressing their forehead together affectionately.
“I couldn’t save you, niisan...”
“It’s not your fault.” Ichimatsu weakly reassures as Jyushimatsu lets go of his hand to lightly touch at his bandages, which Ichimatsu finally takes a look at. And there is no surprise to what he is seeing, though that does not dampen the horror of it all in the least as his eyes land on his shoulder covered in bandages where his arm should start, and his torso being bandaged up to his waist to separate at the level of his crotch, making Ichimatsu assume that he probably not only have no more legs but no hip bone as well. He is heavily damaged, but at least, Jyushimatsu isn’t the one in his position.
A month passed since the brothers have been amputated. A month of frequent bandage changes and of Jyushimatsu doing his best to care for Ichimatsu by helping him sit, helping him eat, clean and helping him to the bathroom. Despite the pain and discomfort, Ichimatsu choses to be quiet about his condition: it infuriates him that Jyushimatsu has to look after him, so the least he could do is be easy to take care of.
By the end of the month, their wounds have healed and the tension in the air thickens by the day. Jyushimatsu has been sitting at the plexiglass for a good hour, staring at the skeleton on the other side of it while Ichimatsu did his best to distract him by talking about everything and nothing. It’s weird that in this dire situation, he finds himself talking the most while Jyushimatsu has gone into a sort of mutism. His throat would quickly become sore at first, but now he finds himself being able to ramble at ease. It’s not like there is much else for him to do with his time anyways. As his mind lingers on this, Jyushimatsu seizes the moment of silence to speak.
“Niisan… can. I need you to promise you won’t die without me.” The younger’s gaze snaps from the skeleton to his brother, staring deeply into his eyes in search in reassurance.
Ichimatsu gulps: he actually was wishing to die in the procedure that would sew them together. At least, the rest of him could be used to make Jyushimatsu whole again, and his little brother’s suffering would be temporary while he’d be able to go along living a normal life with a nothing but scars to remind him of what happened.
“Ichimatsu-niisan.” Jyushimatsu’s voice is quivering at this point and Ichimatsu has to avoid his gaze in guilt. He wants to give up so badly, even more than he had wanted to give up in his entire life. But he can’t, can he? He’s not allowed to. His little brother needs him. Jyushimatsu needs him. For once in his life, he has to be the beacon of hope.
The older closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and looks back at his little brother with determination. “I… I won’t. I’ll… Niisan will stay by your side, promise.” Ichimatsu nods, even if every part of him is screaming not to make that promise. He has to make it and has to hold it no matter what.
“I promise not to leave you behind either, Niisan.” Jyushimatsu promises with a teary smile before going back to staring at the room. Ichimatsu smiles sadly once his little brother is looking away: he knows for a fact that if Jyushimatsu can’t make it, he won’t be able to. Not with the way the skeletons look, not with what he can only assumes means most of his organs will be gone. He’s fine with that however. After all, Ichimatsu is superstitious and believes… no, he knows they will be reborn together as long as they die together. So in the end, that would be okay.
(Here is a lovely piece by one kind commenter! 💛💜)
I'm so sorry for the long dry months of nothing. I guess that's what happens when you have barely managed depression. Don't worry though, neither about me or the unfinished fics I have: we're all still moving forward.
Mended: has a mini chapter ready soon but is a mess that needs to be sorted afterwards.
Never Alone in Family: It has a normal length chapter almost ready and still plenty others planned to go. I should post fairly soon as well.
Karamatsu's Kitten: I'm still struggling with the endings. I wanted to post them all at the same time, but only "Good Ending" is almost ready so I'll just post them as they are completed.
Chapter 3: Rebirth
Ichimatsu doesn’t wake, but he knows his sleep has been perturbed. He can tell the difference between normal sleep and gas-induced sleep.
This has transitioned from both but is neither.
This is sleep after a long stretch of darkness… no. After a long stretch of nothingness.
It’s strange: he expected to find himself either in Hell with Jyushimatsu or still in their captor’s homemade lab. But this… he’s not sure. Were they able to skip Hell? Were they spared it for suffering enough in their last moments?
It doesn’t feel like he’s quite… alive. He can’t open his eyes and he can’t say he is completely conscious. Everything feels… warm… dampened…
He can tell things are happening around him… them. Yes, them. He is definitely not alone. Jyushimatsu is in a similar state, he can tell. He hears muffled voices but can’t tell at all what they are saying. He can guess lights and shadows moving about. He can’t move much, however.
Death tries to pull him in, and after wishing for its sweet release for years, it’s bittersweet to deny it… to fight it. He has to: he promised the most important person in the world he would. It’s not like it’s goodbye forever. He’s pretty sure they just parted anyways: the void was a sweet intermission, but he has to go back.
And he wonders… If Jyushimatsu is with him, because it definitely is him, and if he can’t quite reach consciousness nor the exterior, if it is a new life for them. He would miss everyone but… with his little brother by his side, it would be okay. And if they are able to remember their past life, once they are old enough, they can assure their brothers that they are alright.
Jyushimatsu leaves him behind. He hasn’t passed away however Ichimatsu can still feel him, somehow. He feels farther away but his presence is somehow stronger. Maybe he came out into the world first? How funny for him to be the big brother this time… or maybe sister?
There’s a pull on Ichimatsu. Something calls to him. From afar. Consciousness. As if reeled in from the farthest depths, as if connections to reality are being remade one after the other, a fuse turned on one at the time.
The surface is near. Just one last effort
Chapter 4: IT’S ALIVE!
I switched perspective to better translate the changes in the brothers. I also think it fits the theme of rebirth from last chapter.
I break the surface to wake up to Shittymatsu at our bedside, his hand over his mouth as he stares at the exposed part of the stitches running down our torsos, holding Jyushimatsu and I together. That’s a motherfucker of a whiplash to wake up to.
He doesn’t notice that I am awake straight away, so I have time to adjust to reality. I’m sad Jyushimatsu will have to live with a useless tumor attached to him from now on, but at least we still have the rest of us. At least we’re not dead.
“Freaky, huh?” I whisper with a weak smirk, worried about waking up my younger brother.
Shittymatsu startles and his eyes plant themselves on me, wide as he seems to teeter between relief and horror. “Ichimatsu...” He whispers. “How… are you?” He asks carefully.
“About as good as I look.” I croak back as I rub my tired eyes with my remaining hand. He gives me a worried look and runs a hand through my hair that I’m too weak to slap away.
“You’ve been through a lot.” He simply states before asking: “Jyushimatsu...”
I took a moment to consider it and realized I can feel how limp and calm Jyushimatsu’s body is. I don’t know if I like the idea of our nerves connecting or not. This could mean that we might be able to move normally once we have recovered enough, but it could also mean that one of us might end up with complete control over the other’s body. I don’t want to be in charge.
“He’s having a good dream.” I mumble.
I can see that my older brother wants to ask more questions, but he seems to realize I don’t have the energy for it. He gets up and leans over the bed. “I need to let the doctors know you woke up.” He explains before pressing the button to call the nurse.
She comes soon after, immediately paging a doctor before nervously checking my vitals, which only adds to the stress of having a stranger touch me and be in my personal space. I only realize that my heart was beating a mile a minute when Jyushimatsu wakes up as well, looking confused as he moves his hand to rest over my heart, turning his head to look me over. His confusion and concern quickly turn into a beaming smile and he does the closest thing to a hug he can to my remaining half.
“YOU WOKE UP! ICHIMATSU-NISSAN WOKE UP!” He shouts, his eyes filling with tears despite him smiling from ear to ear.
“Please, Jyushimatsu-san, try to stay put.” The nurse asks as calmly as she can. I shoot everyone a questioning look, not understanding the excitement.
“Our dear little Jyushimatsu returned to consciousness about a week prior, so we were beginning to worry about you, Ichimatsu.” Karamatsu admits with a nod, looking a little pale.
That’s when the doctor steps into the room, followed by a crowd of doctors and nurses staring curiously at us from the doorstep and the nurse takes a step aside.
“How are you, Ichimatsu-san?” She immediately asks while reading over the nurse’s notes.
“Sore...” I mumble, the slight amused smile on the doctor’s lips makes me blush lightly.
“I have the feeling you’re not telling me everything.”
I sigh and feel my heart squeeze as I see everyone else is also staring at me.
“I’m… I dunno… I feel weird and achy but… nothing too bad I guess.” This seems to satisfy the doctor for now as she nods and takes some notes.
“I can see you still need some rest. We’ll run a battery of tests starting tomorrow to make sure you two are going to be okay.” She explains. “Family can always visit, but I’d like you to still come in one at a time.” She tells Karamatsu before turning back to us. “I’ll let you sleep now.” I watch her leave through heavy lids and barely have the time to turn my head towards my little brother that I am back to sleep.