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Matsu Writevember 2019

Chapter Text

The sun was just beginning to rise over Akatsuka Ward--a beautiful sight, though one Osomatsu didn’t take in very often, preferring to sneak in as many extra hours of sleep as he possibly could. This morning, though, his body had woken up far earlier than normal and refused to go back to sleep, so he’d shrugged it off and crawled up to the rooftop, figuring he might as well take in the sunrise.

 

He watched the way the sun’s rays painted to town in warm shades of gold and pink as it slowly ascended. He hugged his knees to his chest, and smiled to himself. It was actually really peaceful out here, with only the faint chirping of birds and the sounds of early morning traffic in the air, unlike the chaotic atmosphere that filled the Matsuno household once all the sextuplets were awake. Not that he didn’t contribute to that cacophony plenty himself or would trade it for anything, but a little quiet once in awhile was nice, too. 

 

As the sun rose higher, the sky lightening to a clear blue, Osomatsu’s thoughts began to stray. He wasn’t one to let his mind wander too often--it wasn’t always a good thing when his thoughts went idle, not that he ever told anyone--but today his thoughts were merely contemplative, nothing especially bad or good. Just thoughts he didn’t mind.

 

His mind played through the morning routine that would begin to unfold in the sextuplets’ room not too long from now. Choromatsu would wake first, having set an alarm clock--something he claimed singled him out as the “sole responsible one” among the slacking brothers, as if setting an alarm every morning made any difference when he didn’t have a job to wake up early for anyway. Still, he’d wake up first, shutting off the alarm and giving himself a moment to yawn and stretch before quietly crawling out of the comforter. His intent would be to slip into the bathroom to brush his teeth and wash up for the day before anyone could even rouse from their slumber.

 

Of course, like every morning, Choromatsu would underestimate Jyushimatsu’s inhuman speed--how he could forget that, Osomatsu had no idea. Either way, Jyushimatsu’s eyes would spring open as he rapidly transitioned from dead asleep to wide awake in a matter of seconds. With frightening speed he’d jump out of bed and bolt out of the room, victoriously claiming the bathroom for himself first and locking the door so no one would dare try to come in.

 

The other brothers would slowly begin to wake up after that. Todomatsu would complain that they’d interrupted his beauty sleep--not to mention that he should get to use the bathroom first because his skincare routine took the longest. Ichimatsu would growl at him to shut up, still struggling to wake up. Karamatsu would volunteer to sing them a song to help them “welcome the day” or whatever flowery phrase he felt like throwing out there, always too chipper for having just woken up. Ichimatsu would tell him to shut up too, only more forcefully. This could lead into one of two outcomes; either Karamatsu would start singing his song and playing his guitar anyway, only to cease when Ichimatsu finally hurled a pillow at his head, or Choromatsu and Todomatsu would get into a bickering sort of argument over who should get to use the bathroom next. Sometimes both occurred simultaneously. That was really fun to watch.

 

It was the same predictable routine, day in and day out. Some people might find the monotony of it all boring and annoying, but not Osomatsu. He always found comfort in the familiar. Sure, every morning was the same as the one before, but it meant everything was right and as it should be. It meant everyone was under the same roof, safe and sound.

 

Maybe it was selfish of Osomatsu to think this way. He should want everyone to be happy and successful and living their own lives, right? But until that day arrived, he intended to savor every moment they had together, even their ordinary morning routine.

 

Just then Osomatsu heard voices coming from inside the house, through the open window leading to the roof. 

 

“Yes, homerun!! Beat you to the bathroom again, Choromatsu-niisan!”

 

“Jyushimatsu, let me use the bathroom first! You know I take the longest! I’m meeting up with friends later and I want to try out this new face mask first, and if I don’t have time because of you--!”

 

“Oh, shut up, Totty.”

 

“Ah, my dear brothers, perhaps a lighthearted song would aid you in greeting the day…? I’ve been working on something new and--!”

 

“Oh, shut up, Shittymatsu.”

 

“Can we ever have just one peaceful morning in this household?” That was Choromatsu, speaking with such exasperation that Osomatsu couldn’t help but chuckle to himself.

 

With that, Osomatsu carefully stood back up, stretched out his back, and took one last look at the beautiful sky before climbing back into his house.

 

Another day had started, just like every other day before it. Osomatsu wouldn’t have it any other way.

Chapter Text

Choromatsu wiped the sweat that had formed on his forehead with the back of his gloved hand, but then smiled to himself with satisfaction as he gazed at the basket full of tomatoes and carrots that sat on the ground next to him. The carrots were a bit on the thin and wrinkled side, but the tomatoes looked perfectly round and red—not bad for his first crop, he decided.

 

He’d tended so carefully to his garden all summer long—watering his plants, fertilizing them, weeding them, all according to the careful research he’d done before he’d even settled on which vegetables to grow. Even with the hobby he used to relax, everything had to be organized and orderly, every rule followed. But that’s how he liked it, and he’d enjoyed every minute he’d spent outside taking care of his precious plants. Now, though, it was time to harvest those crops, and he was proud of the results of his efforts. He hoped his family would be happy with them, too.

 

“Ready to head back in, Jyushimatsu?” Choromatsu asked his brother.

 

“Almost!” With a grunt Jyushimatsu yanked one last carrot out of the ground, a particularly stubborn one that had put up a fight. Jyushimatsu’s shorts were now covered in dirt, but a grin lit up his face as he held the carrot up triumphantly. “There! Last one!”

 

Choromatsu smiled too, holding out the basket toward Jyushimatsu. “Here, you can add it to the others.”

 

Jyushimatsu placed the carrot on top. “What’re we going to do with all of these vegetables, Choromatsu-niisan? There’s a ton!”

 

“Well, not a ton— I don’t know if all of these carrots are salvageable,” Choromatsu replied modestly. “But there’s a lot of things we could make with the tomatoes! I’ve been looking up recipes online. We could make salad, or we could make salsa…”

 

Jyushimatsu nodded enthusiastically. “Extra-spicy salsa!”

 

“Well, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll make a special batch for you, as a thank you for helping me in the garden all summer.” Choromatsu stood up, propping the heavy basket against his hip.

 

“You don’t need to thank me!” Jyushimatsu insisted, hopping back to his feet too. “I had a lot of fun out here with you! Pulling weeds and digging up the soil, I like doing stuff like that.”

 

“I’m glad. I had fun doing all of it with you, too.” It was true. Although Choromatsu had liked to spend some alone time out here in his garden, it had been nice on the days when Jyushimatsu had asked if he could help. Jyushimatsu could be surprisingly careful with certain tasks like weeding and digging.

 

The two peered around the garden again, one last time. It was the end of the season, so this was the last time they really had anything to do out here for the year. Choromatsu sighed at the thought.

 

“I’m going to miss gardening all winter long...it’s been a really good hobby for me.”

 

“True, but remember—spring will come again before you know it, and then you can get started on your next garden!” Jyushimatsu grinned widely. “I bet it’ll be even better than this year’s, ‘cause you’ll have experience then!”

 

Choromatsu cracked a little smile. “You think so…?”

 

“I know so!” Jyushimatsu enthused.

 

“Thanks, Jyushimatsu...and in the meantime, maybe I’ll do another indoor herb garden. That was fun last year.”

 

“Ooh, can I help, Nii-San?”

 

“Sure. We can look over my gardening catalogs and pick out what herbs we want to plant this time.”

 

“Okay!”

 

The two headed inside, chatting happily away about their next gardening venture. Choromatsu still felt a little sad saying goodbye to his lovely summertime garden, but at least he knew it wasn’t permanent, and having other plans to look forward to gave him a tingle of excitement.

 

Jyushimatsu was right. Summer would come along again soon enough. But until then, Choromatsu would keep on growing.

Chapter Text

“How’re you feeling now?” Karamatsu asked, his voice soft, much softer than it usually was.

 

“Mhh.” Choromatsu only groaned in response, curling up closer to Karamatsu. He lay on the couch next to his brother, his head resting on Karamatsu’s lap, and Karamatsu was gently combing his fingers through Choromatsu’s hair.

 

“Ah, I suppose I figured that.” Karamatsu hummed knowingly, fingers still lightly caressing Choromatsu’s scalp. “I’m proud of you, though. You came down from it much faster than usual, and by yourself too.”

 

“Mphh.” Choromatsu only grunted in response again. He didn’t want Karamatsu to be proud of him for calming himself down from an anxiety attack. He’d never wanted to have one in the first place. And it had all been triggered by a stupid rejection letter for some stupid job that he’d stupidly let himself believe he was capable of getting.

 

It all left him feeling really... stupid.

 

Karamatsu brushed Choromatsu’s bangs out of his eyes. “Do you feel like talking about it…?”

 

“Not really.” Mostly, Choromatsu felt drained and disappointed. He didn’t really feel up to going into all the details. “I just...I hate this. I hate these dumb anxiety attacks.”

 

“I know you do, Choromatsu.”

 

“I just want them to stop.”

 

“I know. But that’s what you started medication for, no? You just need time to adjust, I’m sure you’ll see vast improvement.”

 

Choromatsu rolled from his side onto his back, so he could peer up at Karamatsu directly. “But it’s not like medication will cure me, either.”

 

“Ah, sadly, that’s true,” Karamatsu admitted. “But it will help, at least. If it doesn’t help enough, you can always see your doctor and try another prescription. And of course, if you ever don’t feel right, you can always come to us for help.”   

 

Choromatsu sighed. “I know...and I really appreciate the support. But if there was a way to magically get rid of my anxiety, I would.”

 

“I would do anything in my power to rid you of it if I could. But, Choromatsu, please keep this in mind...you are far stronger than you realize. You don’t give up. And I know that one day, you’ll find a way to overcome it, to manage it in a way where you’ll finally feel more in control of yourself.”

 

Choromatsu wanted to believe that. It was hard, though, when he constantly found himself overthinking and telling himself something was wrong with him, even though he’d been told countless times otherwise.

 

Still...Karamatsu was doing his best to be comforting and reassuring, and Choromatsu had to admit it was working. Even though he still didn’t feel great, having Karamatsu be there with him and help him relax after his anxiety attack made Choromatsu feel so much better than if he’d had to deal with it alone.

 

“Thanks, Karamatsu,” he said quietly. “And...thanks for staying with me, too.”

 

“I’d never leave my dear brother in his time of need!” Karamatsu declared, though his delivery was more earnest and less painful than usual. It made it a little easier for Choromatsu to smile back at him.

 

“Could I make you a cup of tea, Choromatsu?”

 

Part of Choromatsu didn’t want to impose any more on his brother, but he couldn’t help but ask hopefully, “With honey and lemon?”

 

“Of course!” Karamatsu promised. “It’s my specialty. After all, nothing soothes a troubled soul quite like a good cup of tea.”

 

Choromatsu supposed his soul was a little troubled, but he wasn’t so sure about the rest of that statement. Karamatsu himself was a kind, soothing person, though this was often hidden by his own bravado and desire to be “cool.” It was a lot nicer when he wasn’t trying so hard.

 

Karamatsu really was a good big brother. Choromatsu wanted to remember that from now on.

Chapter Text

“Ready?” Jyushimatsu asked, a hint of challenge in his voice. His eyes gleamed happily, but there was a hint of competitiveness to it too.

 

Osomatsu grinned back. “Ready!”

 

“Okay!” Jyushimatsu nodded enthusiastically. “Then ready, set…”

 

The two brothers lowered their toy boats into the river, keeping their hands on them until just the right moment. Today was breezy, though not too cold, making it a perfect day for this activity.

 

“And...GO!!” Jyushimatsu yelled.

 

On that signal, Osomatsu and Jyushimatsu let go of their boats, and the wind caught in their tiny sails and propelled them forward. They weren’t moving fast, but they were still moving!

 

“Come on! Faster, faster!” Osomatsu cheered on his boat.

 

“Step it up! Hustle, hustle!” Jyushimatsu chanted, his eyes glued to his boat as well.

 

They walked along the river bank, urging their boats along to the makeshift finish line—they’d placed a stick near the bank, so that whichever boat sailed by the stick first would win. 

 

The boats clipped along at a fairly steady pace for a minute, Jyushimatsu’s pulling ahead, then Osomatsu, then Jyushimatsu’s…

 

“Come on, just a little further!” Osomatsu coaxed, watching his boat. 

 

“Hustle, hustle!” Jyushimatsu shouted again.

 

They held their breaths as the boats edged closer, closer…

 

And suddenly, at the last second, Osomatsu’s boat drifted ahead, passing the finish line first.

 

“Yes!!” Osomatsu pumped his fist in the air, victorious. “I’m the winner! I’m the champion!”

 

“Awww…” Jyushimatsu groaned in defeat, kneeling down to retrieve his boat. “No fair, do-over.”

 

“Nope! A deal’s a deal,” Osomatsu declared, rubbing his finger under his nose with a smug grin. “You now owe me a beer.”

 

As Osomatsu kept cheering and Jyushimatsu sulked, Karamatsu and Todomatsu watched them from a distance, in their prime fishing spot.

 

“Karamatsu-Niisan,” Todomatsu said flatly, “why do they do this every week, and do either of them realize people are staring at them when they start cheering on toy boats like that?”

 

Karamatsu just shook his head, then chuckled slightly. “One can only wonder, but let’s let them have their fun for now, hmm?”

 

Todomatsu sighed, rolling his eyes. “Oh, fine.” He pretended to be put out. But...it did look kind of fun.

 

Next time, maybe he’d bring a boat of his own. Just to humor them.

 

At least that’s what he’d tell himself.

Chapter Text

Once again, Choromatsu was indulging in one of his favorite hobbies, attending an idol concert.

 

Once again, he arrived at the venue twenty minutes early, his backpack stocked with plenty of glowsticks as well as money for new merchandise he was sure to acquire before the day was done. 

 

But unlike every other time, he didn’t go into the building right away. He didn’t hurry to stake out the best spot, right in front of the stage, where maybe he’d have a chance of Nyaa-Chan spotting him.

 

Instead he stood out front, rocking slightly on his heels and clutching the straps of his backpack nervously, glancing back and forth down the sidewalk. He tried to keep still and maintain his composure, but he couldn’t help being antsy. He was waiting for someone, and even though he knew better, he couldn't help but let his anxious thoughts take control.

 

What if he decided not to come, after all? What if he missed the train? What if he lost his ticket--what if he lost my phone number, and can’t call me to tell me he lost his ticket? Or what if...what if he just doesn’t want to go, with me?

 

He told himself to stop overthinking. No, that was dumb. If he didn’t want to hang out with Choromatsu, why would he have given him his number and kept in touch and made specific plans to meet here today…?

 

Unless he just felt bad for me…? That could be the case. Maybe he was just pitying me, maybe those were pity plans. Oh, why was I so stupid to believe someone would really want to spend time with…

 

“Hey, Choromatsu!”

 

Choromatsu glanced up, startled. He’d been so caught up in his thoughts he hadn’t noticed that the very person he’d fretted over not showing up was now standing right beside him.

 

“Happi! Um, h-hi!” Choromatsu was aware of his voice cracking, and fervently hoped Happi hadn’t noticed it too. 

 

“Sorry if I’m a little late,” Happi apologized, seemingly unaware of Choromatsu’s nervous energy. “I hope you weren’t waiting too long or me.”

 

“Nope, I wasn’t. I just got here a few minutes ago myself.” It was a lie, but Choromatsu decided a little fib was better than admitting he was a nerd who had showed up ridiculously earlier, which Todomatsu had mocked him for just earlier today.  

 

“Okay, great.” Happi smiled at Choromatsu, brushing his hair briefly away from his face, enough for Choromatsu to see Happi’s deep brown eyes.

 

And once again, it happened. The same thing that had happened when Choromatsu first met Happi just a couple of weeks ago, at a concert just like this one, after they’d accidentally bumped into each other and struck up a conversation. 

 

Choromatsu’s heart fluttered, and his stomach flipped over. When it had first happened he’d thought it was nothing, that it was just those pre-concert jitters of excitement getting the best of him, since it wasn’t a bad feeling. But then he realized it happening more and more, every time he talked to Happi, every time they spoke on the phone, every time he even thought about him. He was in denial at first, telling himself it was just the thrill of having a new friend...but it didn’t quite feel like that. It was more than just that.   

 

And now, as he chatted with Happi, but found himself getting distracted by Happi’s smile and how adorable it was to see him going on so enthusiastically about this concert...Choromatsu realized that jumpy sensation in his belly were butterflies. Happy, yet stressed at the same time. A feeling he’d had before, but not for a long time, and not quite as intensely as he was experiencing now.

 

Choromatsu had a crush. On Happi.

 

He didn’t know how to feel about it. On one hand, he liked that warm, fuzzy feeling he got inside when Happi smiled at him. But on the other hand, it was scary, feeling this way about someone and not knowing how they might feel back. There was so much pressure to act just right, to be himself but also seem just a little better than himself, to not say or do anything stupid. And even if he did all that, it didn’t mean anything would happen. It wouldn’t mean Happi would like him back the same way.

 

But for now, Choromatsu told himself to block out those thoughts. Maybe he shouldn’t worry so much about what he couldn’t control. All he knew was that he was looking forward to spending the afternoon with Happi, and he intended to enjoy it, not let his anxious thoughts run rampant and ruin it. Only time would tell how everything would play out.

 

“We should probably go inside now, the show starts soon,” Happi said then, bringing Choromatsu back to the present. “Are you ready?”

 

Choromatsu nodded, then smiled. “Yeah, I’m definitely ready.”

 

Once again, they entered the building, ready for another concert. But today, everything felt different, a good kind of different. Choromatsu just wanted to take it all in.

Chapter Text

“Choro, I’m bored,” Osomatsu whined, rolling over from his back to his stomach and looking up at Choromatsu with a pitiful expression.

 

“Then read a book. That’s what I’m doing.” Choromatsu didn’t glance up from his light novel.

 

“I don’t feel like reading, I wanna do something fun,” Osomatsu retorted. 

 

“Reading is fun, if you pick the right book.”

 

“Whatever. That’s not what I wanna do right now.” Osomatsu’s eyes lit up as an idea came to him then. “Hey, I know! Let’s play a prank on one of our brothers, just like we did when we were kids.”

 

Choromatsu finally looked up from his book to raise an eyebrow at Osomatsu. “Seriously, Osomatsu? Pranks? How juvenile can you get?”

 

“Aw, c’mon, don’t be a stick in the mud. I already got an idea.” Osomatsu pushed himself into a sitting position. “Wanna join in?” 

 

“No, thanks.” Choromatsu shook his head. “I think I have a little more dignity than that.”

 

“But you used to love pranks. And this one will be harmless, I promise.”

 

“You aren’t going to give up easily, are you?”

 

“Nope!” Osomatsu grinned deviously.

 

Choromatsu sighed, reluctantly shutting his book. “Okay, fine. Tell me what you have in mind.”

 

—————

 

The prank was a simple one—Osomatsu taped a piece of string from one side of the living room doorway to the other, so that whoever walked in next would trip over it. Choromatsu thought it was a bit stupid, but he did agree to tape up one side of the string while Osomatsu did the other.

 

“I can’t wait for the others to get home now,” Osomatsu commented with a mischievous chuckle. 

 

Choromatsu shrugged, returning to his book. Secretly though, he was watching the door now too.

 

Awhile later, they heard the front door open and shut. “Brothers, I’m home!” Karamatsu called out.

 

Osomatsu’s eyes sparkled. “Showtime,” he whispered to Choromatsu, then called, “We’re in the living room!”

 

“Ah! There you are!” Karamatsu smiled when he saw his brothers. “What are you two up to on this fine afterno—ah!”

 

Suddenly Karamatsu stumbled, losing his balance and falling to his knees. He blinked, stunned, then looked behind him as if in search of whatever had tripped him up.

 

Osomatsu burst out laughing, and even Choromatsu had to suppress a chuckle, hiding his smile behind his book.

 

“Er...what seems to be so funny?” Karamatsu studied the floor again, squinting when at last he noticed the string. “Oh…?”

 

“We got you, Kara!” Osomatsu declared gleefully, still laughing. “It was a trap—we put up an invisible string. We got you good!”

 

Karamatsu glanced between Osomatsu and Choromatsu. “So, you decided to play a prank…?”

 

“Well, he did.” Choromatsu nodded toward Osomatsu.

 

Karamatsu stood and brushed himself off, then folded his arms and looked sternly at the other two. “Don’t you think a prank like that is a bit foolish, not to mention could get someone hurt or embarrass them?”

 

“It’s not that big a deal,” Osomatsu quipped, rolling his eyes. “I mean, nothing happened to you.”

 

“It was just a little joke,” Choromatsu admitted. “It could’ve been worse.”

 

Karamatsu looked at the two of them for another moment, his expression serious...and then it broke as he cracked a hint of a wicked smirk.

 

“Well then...shall we set it up again?”

Chapter Text

Where did I put my leather jacket? Karamatsu had already searched all over the living room, where he could’ve sworn he’d left it. He couldn’t leave the house without it—he simply couldn’t, it was integral to his perfect fashion!

Not to mention, he was a little chilly in just his jeans and tank top.

Hmm, perhaps it’s upstairs…?

Karamatsu took the stairs two at a time, heading straight for the sextuplets’ room. The door was shut, but he walked right in without knocking anyway, despite knowing that perhaps it wasn’t the wisest thing in the world to do.

“Oh!” Karamatsu jumped, realizing there was indeed someone else in the room—and that someone was wearing his leather jacket! “Ah, Ichimatsu, I am sorry—I didn’t mean to walk in on you.”

But when the brother whipped around to face Karamatsu, he was startled to find it wasn’t Ichimatsu trying on his jacket again after all.

“Ah….Choromatsu?!”

“K-Karamatsu…!” Choromatsu quickly whipped off the jacket. “I just...I was only trying it on because…”

Choromatsu’s nervous rambling made it a little obvious, and Karamatsu couldn’t help but smile just a little. “Ah, no need for explanation...you admire my perfect taste in fashion, do you not, Choromatsu?”

“I…” Choromatsu’s cheeks burned bright red, and he frowned. “Well...I was just trying it on because I maybe, sort of...like your leather jacket, at least. That’s all. It looks cool.”

“No shame in admitting it, my dear Choromatsu!” Karamatsu said, with a wide smile. “If you like it, you are certainly welcome to borrow it whenever you’d like!”

Choromatsu’s face reddened even more, clearly flustered. “You don’t have to...like I said, I just wanted to try it on because it looks cool. I thought maybe…” His voice trailed off and he regretted even opening his mouth.

Karamatsu raised an eyebrow. “Thought what…?”

“Nevermind, it’s nothing. It’s stupid.”

“It’s alright, brother, you know you can tell me anything. I’m sure it’s not stupid!”

“It is.” Choromatsu let out his breath in a huff. “I guess I thought that, maybe...that jacket made me look cool. I always dress so preppy and try to look professional, and I like that look, but sometimes I wonder what it’d be like if I dressed a little more, um…” He dropped his gaze, too embarrassed to look at Karamatsu as he made his confession. “...like you.”

Ah! So he did like Karamatsu’s fashion! He put an arm around his brother, which made Choromatsu tense up a bit.

“Choromatsu, I am honored. I would be thrilled to help you change your style a bit, if you’d like! And as I said, you may borrow my jacket whenever you want! It once belonged to our father, you know...and it looked good on you, too.”

“I don’t know...I don’t think it really is my style. But it’s kind of fun to try out…” Choromatsu paused. “Did that jacket really look good on me…?”

“I would never lie about that!” Karamatsu enthused. “Wear that out and about, and you are sure to draw hordes of Choromatsu girls!”

“Well, I don’t know about that...and I don’t think that’s what I really want, anyway.” Choromatsu smiled ever so slightly though. “But...I don’t know, maybe I’ll borrow it sometimes. Maybe. Thanks, by the way.”

“Of course. Oh! I have an idea! Perhaps I could make you a tank top with your face on it as well! And a pair of sparkly shorts..in your signature green, naturally!”

“Wait, Kara, I think you’re taking this too far…”

But it was too late. Karamatsu was already off and running, planning out a dazzling new wardrobe that Choromatsu knew he would never wear in public. Choromatsu sighed to himself.

The price you pay for trying on your brother’s jacket...but well, at least he’s happy. I guess I can roll with it for a little while.

But he drew the line at glittery short-shorts.

Chapter Text

Choromatsu had never seen a rainbow before.

 

The goddess had been fortunate enough to witness the beauty of nature all around him from his sacred lake. From there he could see the changing seasons--the leaves in the trees surrounding his lake sprouting in the spring, bright green and beautiful, then changing to rich hues of red and gold before falling off come autumn. He’d seen snow, something he thought was lovely to look at but not to touch. He despised the cold, but the blanket of pure, sparkling white covering the once-barren ground was a sight to behold.

 

He’d seen wind and rain and frost. He’d experienced the warm, pleasant days of summer and the chilly days of winter that never seemed long enough. He made friends with the forest animals, the squirrels and deer and rabbits that visited him, and missed them when they hibernated through the coldest months. His life was peaceful and content, if not a little lonely sometimes.

 

And yet...one thing he wanted to see, for reasons he couldn’t explain, was a rainbow.

 

He could only see so much through the sliver of sky above his lake, obscured as it was by trees. He could see the sun, he could see clouds, he could see a patch of bright blue on a nice day, but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t satiate his desire or satisfy his curiosity.  

 

He’d heard about rainbows. He’d seen pictures of them, long ago, and knew they were supposed to be beautiful in real life. How could they not be? Those bright, pretty colors in an arch across the sky. 

 

He knew the conditions to look for. He remembered hearing that they usually appeared after rainfall, when there was still sun in the sky. Every time it rained he’d search the skies above him, hoping for even a glimpse of one--that was all he really needed, just to see a little bit of one. But so far, he never had.

 

Maybe it was a silly thing to be sad about. But he couldn’t help feeling sad, like he was missing out on something.

 

The seasons cycled through as another year passed, and again he never saw one. Autumn had arrived again, the leaves turning and falling off the trees, drifting through the air and landing in the pristine waters of Choromatsu’s lake until he cleared them away. He couldn’t help feeling a little depressed, knowing his least favorite season was fast approaching, another cold and wet winter where he’d be all alone. 

 

He sighed to himself, closing his eyes for a moment and titling his face toward the last lingering rays of sunshine. Maybe spring will come faster this year.    

 

When he opened his eyes again he saw a squirrel scampering up to him, bushy tail twitching and cheeks bulging with something--acorns, he suspected, to be stored for the long winter. He smiled slightly and reached out to gently pet the squirrel’s head.

 

“Hi, little friend--I guess you’re getting ready for the next season, aren’t you?” Even though they couldn’t respond, he found some solace in talking with the animals. “Did you come to say goodbye until spring?”

 

The squirrel’s tail flicked again and he blinked his big brown eyes, then dropped what he’d been holding in his cheeks to the ground and nudged it toward Choromatsu with one paw.

 

“What’s this? Did you bring me a gift?”

 

The squirrel blinked again, as if to say yes.

 

Choromatsu picked up the item, a smooth flat stone with an iridescent sheen. It wasn’t like anything he’d seen before, and he couldn’t help but wonder where the squirrel had found such a thing. It sure was pretty, though.

 

He lifted it a little higher, letting the stone catch the sunlight. When it did, its surface shone brightly, reflecting a dazzling array of colors.

 

A...rainbow?

 

Choromatsu turned the stone over in his hand, mesmerized by the gorgeous colors, then glanced at the squirrel again. 

 

“Ah! I see! You brought this to me so I could see a rainbow for myself, didn’t you?”

 

The squirrel, of course, couldn’t respond, but he seemed to puff his little chest out with pride as if to say yes once again.

 

“Thank you.” Choromatsu smiled at his little friend, holding the stone close to his heart. “I promise, I’ll take good care of it. This is a wonderful gift.”

 

And it was, too. He knew he would keep it close to him, near and dear, and look at it when he needed a reminder that winter would eventually end, that his friends would return and the forest would be restored to its usual beauty once more. He’d just have to stay hopeful and be patient. After all, he’d gotten his wish, sort of--he’d finally gotten to see a rainbow, even if it wasn’t how he expected. 


Maybe he would see a real one someday, but for now he could hold on to this, and be grateful for it.

 

Chapter Text

“Nothing is better on a cold day than a cup of hot chocolate,” Todomatsu declared with a content sigh.

 

“Yep!” Jyushimatsu agreed with an enthusiastic nod. 

 

They sat at the kitchen table with steaming mugs of cocoa in front of them. Outside the wind whistled through the trees and the sky was filled with gray clouds, heavy with the looming threat of rain. It made it that much cozier to be in their warm house.

 

Todomatsu dropped a couple of marshmallows in his drink and took a cautious sip, careful not to burn his tongue. As expected, the cocoa was creamy and delicious, and he happily licked his lips.    

 

Meanwhile Jyushimatsu was piling a tall mountain of marshmallows into his drink. Todomatsu couldn’t help but laugh. “Will you be able to even drink past all those marshmallows, Jyushimatsu-Niisan?”

 

“Yep!” Jyushimatsu repeated, placing one last marshmallow atop the heap before taking a sip. It wasn’t easy with all of those marshmallows, but somehow he managed and gave a satisfied smile. “Mmm, yum!”

 

Todomatsu shook his head a little, but he was laughing. He liked spending time with Jyushimatsu, for a few reasons.

 

So often, he felt the need to make himself look better and, in a way, cooler than the other brothers. Just to make them jealous, and make them think his life was more put-together than theirs. Jyushimatsu didn’t care as much about that as the other brothers, so that stress of having to act that way was off. 

 

Not to mention, Todomatsu felt free to be a little more goofy with Jyushimatsu. It wasn’t really in his nature, but he couldn’t resist pulling silly faces and telling ridiculous jokes when it came to his immediate older brother. It was fun, just slacking off and messing around like this, no worries in sight. 

 

Todomatsu wasn’t even scared the rain outside could become a thunderstorm, the way he usually would, because he knew Jyushimatsu would protect him and make him feel safe. He’d probably distract him by making cocoa squirt from his nose, or remind him there was no reason to be afraid of something so far away. Jyushimatsu could have sound, reasonable moments like that.

 

Todomatsu smiled to himself, sipping his cocoa again and watching Jyushimatsu tackle the pile of marshmallows on his. 

 

Maybe he didn’t always admit it, but he looked up to Jyushimatsu, and wished he could be just a little more like him. Yet when they were together, that didn’t matter as much, as long as Todomatsu could forget himself for awhile. He hoped Jyushimatsu enjoyed their time together just as much, too.

 

“Hey, Totty?”

 

“Hm, yes?”

 

“Wanna play a board game together?”

 

“Okay!”

 

And they did.

Chapter Text

“Osomatsu…?”

 

Osomatsu heard Choromatsu say his name, but he didn’t turn around to look at him. He kept his gaze fixated on the wall, stubbornly ignoring his brother.

 

“I just wanted to let you know...Iyami’s here. I’ll be leaving after we finish loading my stuff into his van.”

 

Again, Osomatsu chose not to respond.

 

“Oso...please. You barely talked to me last night, and you haven’t said a word to me all morning.” Choromatsu sounded despondent. “I’m leaving really soon...is this really how you want it to end?”

 

No, it wasn’t. In fact, Osomatsu didn’t want it to end, period. Why couldn’t things stay the same as they always did? Why did Choromatsu have to get a job and move away, leaving the family? Leaving him? 

 

But again, he said nothing. Let Choromatsu assume he was just pissed, not that he felt like he was about to break into a thousand pieces if he dared to speak.

 

At the door of the room, Choromatsu sighed. “It’s not like you didn’t know this was going to happen one day, Osomatsu,” he said quietly. “One day it was bound to happen, that we would move on and live lives of our own. This is what I’ve wanted for awhile. Can’t you just be happy for me?”

 

Osomatsu’s shoulders tensed. Guilt gnawed away at him, but also a sense of unreasonable anger. Couldn’t Choromatsu be happy here? 

 

Choromatsu didn’t seem to know how to interpret Osomatsu’s silence, and mumbled, “Well, maybe that was asking for too much.”

 

Just then they heard a car horn honk obnoxiously out front, and Choromatsu sighed again.

 

“That’s Iyami. I really have to get going.” He paused. “You...really aren’t going to come downstairs to see me off?”

 

Osomatsu didn’t so much as shake his head.

 

There was a beat of silence. Then, “It’s better this way, Oso. Sooner or later this was going to happen, and you need to accept it. If you don’t, life is going to be hard for you.”

 

Life was fine until you decided to ruin it.

 

More silence. And at last, Choromatsu said it.

 

“Goodbye, Osomatsu.”

 

Maybe it was Osomatsu’s imagination, but Choromatsu almost sounded a little choked up when he said that. A hollow, awful ache seized Osomatsu’s chest, but he still refused to turn around.

 

It’s better this way.

 

He waited until he heard Choromatsu slowly walk away. Then he crept up to the window, peering down at the scene in front of his house. He watched his parents load the last of Choromatsu’s carefully packed belongings into the back of Iyami’s van, and he watched as Choromatsu said goodbye to each member of his family before climbing into the van. He watched as Choromatsu waved from the passenger side window as they drove away, and the rest of his family wave back.

 

Soon, Choromatsu was out of sight.

 

Osomatsu swallowed hard against the lump rising in his throat, not wanting to let himself cry but unable to stop a few tears from leaking out and rolling down his cheeks anyway.

 

Goodbye, Choromatsu. 

Chapter Text

“Choromatsu-niisan, you can be so annoying sometimes!” Todomatsu declared huffily, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

Choromatsu frowned down at Todomatsu, crossing his arms as well. “How? By telling you the truth?”

 

“No, by acting like you’re always right all the time!”

 

“I do not!” Choromatsu retorted.

 

“Oh yes you do!” Todomatsu shot back. “You always use this know-it-all tone when you lecture us, like you think you’re so smart! Doesn’t he, Jyushi?”

 

“Right!” Jyushimatsu chimed in, from where he was sitting on his exercise ball nearby. 

 

“I’m not trying to be a know-it-all.” Choromatsu put his hands on his hips then instead. “I’m only trying to keep you guys in line. Someone’s got to do it, because who knows what would happen if I didn’t? I’m just trying to set you all straight and on the right path.”

 

“Right!” Jyushimatsu repeated, nodding.

 

“And I can’t help it if I’m the only one who’s got any drive around here,” Choromatsu went on, with an air of authority. “We have to grow up and accept responsibility for ourselves one day, and you all know it. I’m only trying to lead you all that way. That doesn’t mean I’m always right, or a know-it-all. It means I’m taking action!”

 

“Right!” Jyushimatsu exclaimed a third time.

 

“And I--” Choromatsu stopped abruptly, turning a wary eye on Jyushimatsu. “Are you making fun of me right now?”

 

Jyushimatsu saluted him, grinning. “Right!”

 

Choromatsu shook his head and sighed in exasperation. “You are hopeless. All right, don’t listen to me then, but that’s on you.” With that he spun on his heel and marched out of the room.

 

Todomatsu and Jyushimatsu watched him make his exit, then turned to each other and smirked.

 

“He sure is easy to rile up, isn’t he?” Todomatsu commented.

 

Jyushimatsu smiled, a playful gleam in his eyes. “Right!!”

 

The two burst out laughing.

Chapter Text

Ichimatsu hadn’t moved from his spot in two hours.

 

It was a nice day, just warm enough to sit outside on the back porch. One of his cat friends was curled up nearby, dozing away in a warm patch of sunlight, tail wound around her. 

 

Ichimatsu glanced up from his pad of paper, examining the cat, then turned back to his paper. He frowned slightly, squinting as he scrutinized his painting so far. The orange shape on the paper looked like a cat, but he’d made it a little too fat and round to be this cat. He sighed in frustration. Maybe he should scrap this one, even though he’d worked so hard on it.

 

The cat stirred then, unfurling herself from the curled-up position and stretching, arching her back.

 

“Aw, you moved...now I guess I’ll have to try again later.” 

 

The cat padded softly over to Ichimatsu, nuzzling against his side. Ichimatsu found himself smiling slightly, his heart always warmed by the sweet cuddling of a kitty friend. He could never stay mad at one, even if it was for pretend.

 

“What do you think?” he asked, tilting the paper toward the kitty for inspection. “Not very good, is it?”

 

The kitty mewed, which Ichimatsu wasn’t sure how to interpret. 

 

“Ichimatsu-niisan!” Todomatsu’s voice called from inside the house then. “Could you come here a minute, please?”

 

“Yeah, be right there.” Ichimatsu set aside his painting and headed inside, glancing over his shoulder at his cat friend. “You stay there, okay?”

 

“Mrow.” He took that as a yes.

 

—————

 

A few minutes later Ichimatsu returned, settling down to study his painting again. Only now, something was….different. A thin green streak had been painted across the page, arching over the cat he’d drawn. 

 

Eh? That’s weird, I didn’t add that. But who…?

 

He was prepared to go inside and question his brothers on it, when he peered down at his cat again. She was curled up nearby, her tail wrapped around her...only now, the tip of her tail was bright green.

 

Oh! She must have dipped her tail in the paint somehow and left her mark. He felt briefly ashamed of himself for leaving paint out for her to access accidentally, but fortunately it was nontoxic.

 

He surveyed the painting again. He still wasn’t so sure how much he liked his own art, but it did look a little better now than it had earlier, now that he’d had a chance to step away and not think about it for a few minutes. He smiled to himself.

 

“I think it looks better with your signature on it, too,” he commented softly to his cat, reaching out to stroke the fur on her back. “Now why don’t we get you cleaned up?”

 

The cat mewed in response, and allowed Ichimatsu to scoop her up and carry her inside. He left the painting on the back porch to dry.

 

He wouldn’t trash it, after all. Maybe he’d hang it in the sextuplets’ room, or give it to his mom. He liked it, after all.

Chapter Text

“Hmm.” Osomatsu surveyed the room, glancing at each of his brothers, a question on his mind. A question he hadn’t asked before and that seemed a little silly, but that he was curious about all the same.

 

Karamatsu glanced up from his mirror, noticing the thoughtful expression on his big brother’s face. “Penny for your thoughts, my brother…?”

 

“Oh, well, I was just thinking…” Osomatsu peered around the room again as his brothers turned their attention to him. “Why do we wear these hoodie colors?”

 

Choromatsu gave him a funny look. “You know why, Oso—we got tired of dressing the exact same way, so we started dressing in different colors.”

 

“Yeah!” Jyushimatsu chimed in. “We all picked our favorite colors and started wearing them all the time!”

 

“Not that it makes a difference. We still look the same,” Todomatsu remarked, then added, “Except for me. I’m the cute one.”

 

“Yeah, no, I know that—but why?” Osomatsu asked. “Why is your favorite color, well...your favorite color?”

 

“Eh?” Ichimatsu frowned, confused. “You mean, like...why do we like it?”

 

“Yeah!” Osomatsu nodded. “Exactly. Why is it your favorite?”

 

“Heh! Well, I can answer that one!” Karamatsu flashed a grin at his brother. “Blue is a perfect color—the color of a calm sea, cool but bold. I needed a color to reflect that side of me! Of course, red would embody my burning passion more accurately, but I far prefer a beautiful shade of blue. Still intense, but more subtle, no?”

 

“You wish you were subtle,” Todomatsu scoffed under his breath.

 

“Ah...well, I think I know why green is my favorite,” Choromatsu spoke up, after a moment. “To me, it’s a relaxing color. It makes me think of nature, which makes me happy. If I’m ever having a bad day, sometimes I like to imagine myself in a nice green forest, and it helps me calm down. Plus, I think it suits me.”

 

“Uh...hmm.” Ichimatsu scratched at his cheek. “I guess I never really thought of why I like purple...it’s just a nice color. I had a toy cat when we were little that was a pretty purple color, so I guess it makes me think of that…” He blushed with the realization that his reason was awfully sentimental.

 

“Ahh, I like that, Ichimatsu-Niisan!” Jyushimatsu beamed at Ichimatsu, which made the older one turn even more pink in the face. “Yellow is the color of the sun, and the sun is one of my favorite things—I love being outside all day, especially when it’s bright and warm! You can’t be sad when you’re looking at something yellow. At least, I can’t.”

 

“Hmm.” Todomatsu thought for a second. “I like pink because it’s a soft, cute color. I got made fun of for liking it in the past, but now I don’t care so much—it’s silly to say pink is a girl color, anyone should be allowed to like it. It makes me feel good to wear it, so I’m not going to stop just because some bullies in high school told me I should hate it.”

 

“Aww.” Osomatsu smiled at his brothers. “I didn’t know my cute little brothers all had reasons like that for picking their favorite colors. That makes it even better.”

 

“Alright, alright…so what about you, then?” Choromatsu asked in return. “Why is red your favorite color?”

 

“Ah, that’s easy!” Osomatsu brushed his finger under his nose in his signature pose. “I like red ‘cause it’s a bold, bright color--a good color for a leader. And that’s what I am! A leader!” 

 

“Hm, if you say so,” Todomatsu remarked, not sounding entirely convinced. “But...it does fit you. I think all of our favorite colors fit us.”

 

The others all nodded in agreement at that. Their favorite colors were part of what made them all unique, what set them apart from each other. They liked it that way, and wouldn’t change it for anything.

Chapter Text

If Nyaa could choose just one word to describe her girlfriend, “amazing” would be the one she’d pick.

 

Maybe it was an exaggeration, but that was how she felt. Totoko really was amazing. She was beautiful and walked with an air of confidence, like she was ready to take on the world. She didn’t accept crap from anyone and wasn’t afraid to speak up. Some said she was too aggressive and abrasive, but Nyaa was convinced anyone who believed that simply hadn’t spent enough time with her.

 

Because when they were together, Totoko was willing to show a different side of herself--a more vulnerable, softer side, one that a lot of people never got to see. Yes, she was still her sassy self, but she was also sweet and full of surprises. She liked to plan special dates for the two of them, steal little kisses whenever possible, and cuddle at the end of a long day. And she would share her insecurities as well, something she rarely did and that made Nyaa feel important, that she was trusted with all of Totoko’s secrets. She was sure no one else had earned that status.

 

What was most amazing about Totoko, though, as far as Nyaa was concerned...was that she was hers. After so much time resenting each other--rather, pretending to resent each other while secretly pining for each other--it was remarkable that they’d ended up dating. Sure, it had to be in secret so they could maintain their idol status and retain their privacy, but a secret relationship was better than none at all. It thrilled Nyaa to think about it, to be able to call Totoko her girlfriend even if it was only to herself.

 

“Nyaa?” Totoko’s voice broke through Nyaa’s thoughts then. “Are you listening to me?”

 

“Huh?” Nyaa blinked, startled out of her thoughts. “Sorry, what did you say?”

 

Totoko huffed in mock irritation--Nyaa could tell she wasn’t really mad. “I was asking, what did you think of this one?” She tapped her pen against a pamphlet advertising an apartment in town--one of the many they’d checked out over the weekend.

 

“I don’t know.” Nyaa frowned thoughtfully. “It’s kind of small, and there was barely a kitchen.”

 

“Yeah, but it had a gym and a pool, plus it’s super affordable,” Totoko pointed out.

 

“I liked this one better.” Nyaa slid another pamphlet in Totoko’s direction. “The one with the gorgeous view of the park and the little terrace.”

 

“That one was sort of on the outskirts of town, though,” Totoko mused, studying the pamphlet. “But...it could work. Maybe we should take another look.”

 

“It was definitely the cutest one.” Nyaa sighed then. 

 

“Hm? What is it?” Totoko tipped her head to the side. 

 

“Just...I can’t believe it, that we’re really doing this. I mean, we’re looking for an apartment together. Who ever would’ve thought?”

 

“I know.” A soft smile crossed Totoko’s face, and her eyes sparkled. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?”

 

“You’re amazing,” Nyaa blurted out in response, without thinking.

 

Totoko blinked at her, cheeks blushing bright pink, and Nyaa felt her own face burn too. But then Totoko slipped her hand through Nyaa’s, and leaned in to brush a chaste kiss against Nyaa’s cheek. 

 

“You are amazing,” Totoko said quietly, her voice sincere. “I love you.”

 

Nyaa’s cheeks still felt hot, but she was quick to return the kiss, her heart fluttering happily. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

The view from Happi’s apartment was nicer than Choromatsu thought it would be.

 

His boyfriend rented a small apartment in town, and the view from his bedroom window—while not exactly scenic—was something to behold. From here Choromatsu could see the bustling streets, packed with cars and people rushing to work or school or wherever they needed to be. The surrounding buildings were tall, blocking out most of the sky. It was different from the quieter neighborhood Choromatsu lived in with his family, but he liked this taste of city life too.

 

Choromatsu pressed a hand to the glass, peering down at the street as another busy day unfolded. He’d woken up before Happi, and thought he’d give him a few more minutes to sleep while he took in the view. 

 

He could picture himself enjoying living here, more in the city. But he couldn’t quite picture himself liking it so much on his own…

 

Just then a pair of arms wrapped around Choromatsu’s waist, pulling him close—Choromatsu hadn’t noticed Happi had woken up, but while the unexpected hug had taken him by surprise he melted into it fast.

 

“Morning,” Happi whispered into Choromatsu’s ear, giving his cheek a little kiss. “Have you been up long?”

 

“No, just a few minutes.” Choromatsu craned his neck enough to kiss Happi back on the cheek. “Thanks for letting me stay the night after last night’s concert, by the way. I was way too tired to drag myself home after that.”

 

“Yeah, of course. You can stay here whenever you want,” Happi replied, and that sent a tingle down Choromatsu’s spine, a happy and hopeful little shiver. 

 

He liked it here, in Happi’s apartment...in Happi’s arms...he wasn’t so eager to go home right now. 

 

“Hey, how about I make us breakfast?” Happi suggested then. He wasn’t in any rush for Choromatsu to leave yet either, apparently. “I can fix pancakes.”

 

“Mmm...sounds perfect. I can help. Well...I can make us tea.” Choromatsu wasn’t too keen on the idea of being anywhere near a stove when bubbling batter was involved.

 

Happi laughed a little, probably guessing that. “Sounds like a plan. Come on, let’s go.”

 

Together, they left the room, chatting about their plans for the day. In that moment, Choromatsu felt just as at home as he ever had in his own house.

 

He hoped that feeling would always be there.

Chapter Text

A lot could happen in a minute. 

 

Every minute someone was born, and every minute someone died--that was just the way of it. Ichimatsu never gave it much thought. He had always felt daunted by the endless, onward march of time, and intentionally blocked out those thoughts as best as he could. 

 

But sometimes, that wasn’t an option. Sometimes, life needed to give him a reminder of that very fact, that everything could change in the blink of an eye and in most ways he was powerless to stop it--but in some ways, just quick enough to keep everything together.

 

It happened fast. One minute, he was feeding his kitty friends in the alley, and the next he’d realized one of them was missing--a little kitten, who must’ve been only a few weeks old. His eyes darted around the small space, hoping to find her hiding behind a box or in a garbage can, but she wasn’t there. Setting down the can of food and promising the other cats he’d be back soon, he hurried out of the alley to scope out the streets, hoping to spot her nearby.

 

He checked left and right, and then his eyes landed on the street--and when they did, his heart plummeted as panic seized him.

 

The little kitten had wandered toward the edge of the sidewalk, stepping out into the street--right in the way of an oncoming truck!

 

There was no way the driver would spot such a tiny kitten, not fast enough to stop in time, and though she was spry there was no way the kitten could run to safety fast enough. Ichimatsu’s mind reeled, his heart racing and skipping beats, and before he knew it he’d propelled himself into action without thinking.

 

One minute he’d been standing there, dumbfounded and scared, and the next he was snatching the kitten back by the loose scruff of her neck. The truck roared past, just narrowly missing both of them.

 

Ichimatsu clutched the kitten close to his chest, his heart lurching into his throat, his entire body tingling. He focused on taking deep breaths, in and out, until he slowly started to calm down.

 

The kitten mewed, crawling up on his arm and licking his cheek with her sandpapery tongue. That was enough to bring him out of his daze. 

 

“Damn…” he murmured quietly, slowly bringing his hand up to the kitten’s head and stroking her soft fur. His fingers still trembled a little. “That was a close one, huh…?”

 

The kitten meowed again, butting her head against Ichimatsu’s hand.

 

“You need to be careful out there, okay?” Ichimatsu tried to make his voice sound stern, as if that would make the kitten behave. “You never know what could happen, one minute later and I might’ve lost you forever.”

 

The kitten only licked Ichimatsu’s thumb in response, but at last Ichimatsu cracked the smallest smile as he carried her back to the alley.

 

A lot could happen in a minute, he mused. But sometimes, things turned out okay.

Chapter Text

“Again, Karamatsu-Niisan! Again!”

 

Karamatsu grinned, positively beaming as he gazed at Jyushimatsu. “You really want to sing it again, my dear Jyushimatsu?”

 

“Yes!” Jyushimatsu clapped enthusiastically, his hoodie sleeves flapping.

 

“Very well!” Karamatsu struck up a chord on his guitar, preparing to start up the song once more. “From the top--let’s make this round even better than the last!”

 

With that, Karamatsu strummed along on his guitar, playing the now-familiar tune, and then he and Jyushimatsu began to sing together, their voices blending in perfect harmony--or at least, as far as Karamatsu was concerned. Some might say Karamatsu’s smooth tone clashed with Jyushimatsu’s more boisterous one, but he didn’t care. They were enjoying themselves to the fullest, and that mattered more than how anyone thought they sounded.

 

It wasn’t an original song, not one Karamatsu had composed himself, as he normally sang. It was a song from an anime, made popular recently by a famous pop group. But it was from a show that both he and Jyushimatsu loved, so it was a connection between them. Plus it was such a happy song, one couldn’t resist wanting to sing it as loudly as possible.

 

They’d listened to it on a loop for days, and when Karamatsu had revealed he’d learned how to play the song on his guitar, Jyushimatsu had been thrilled and insisted they sing the song together on the roof right then and there. That was how they ended up here now, belting their hearts out.

 

“That was so fun, Nii-San!” Jyushimatsu exclaimed, as the song wound down again and they were taking a moment to catch their breath. “Don’t you just love this song?”

 

“Indeed I do!” Karamatsu responded with a nod. “Nothing quite lifts the soul like some joyous music, does it not?”

 

“Yeah!” Jyushimatsu nodded too. “When I sing with you, my heart feels warm and happy. It’s one of my favorite things to do with you, Nii-San!”

 

That came as a surprise to Karamatsu, and he blinked at Jyushimatsu. “Really, brother?”

 

“Really!!” Jyushimatsu’s grin was wide yet earnest. “I love spending time with you up here, singing and watching the world go by together. It’s like our own little happy place!”

 

“I couldn’t agree more, my little Jyushimatsu!” Karamatsu affectionately patted Jyushimatsu’s shoulder, doing his best not to cry tears of happiness (for him, it was a struggle). “Shall we sing another song?”

 

“Yes, let’s!”

 

And that’s how they spent the rest of the afternoon, singing song after song that made their hearts swell with joy.

Chapter Text

It was a quiet, peaceful day in the forest. Choromatsu was floating in his lake with his upper body resting on the grassy shore, laying his head on his folded arms. He was comfortable, basking in the sun, which was much warmer than usual given the time of year--so comfortable, in fact, that he thought he might go ahead and take a nap.

 

I might as well, there’s not much else to do.

 

The goddess yawned, blinking drowsily. His eyelids began to droop shut...but just as he was about to close his eyes completely, he caught sight of something.

 

A flicker of bright, golden light, somewhere in the trees before him.

 

What in the world…?

 

Choromatsu sat up, alert now. This light, it was...unnatural, far too bright and bold to be the rays of the sun, even on a day as clear as this. And he’d never seen a light like this in the forest, either.

 

And it was getting closer.

 

Is it...is it a person…?!

 

A sudden sense of panic rippled through Choromatsu, and he quickly ducked below the surface of his lake, though he kept his head up just enough to be able to peek out. The light was still approaching him, growing brighter and brighter the closer it drew. Choromatsu held his breath, his heart racing.

 

And then suddenly, it was right there--a floating figure, surrounded by an aura of dazzling golden light. It was nearly blinding, and Choromatsu found himself having to squint, his pulse thrumming away in his throat as he tried to make sense of what was happening.

 

Wait…

 

The closer he looked, the more he noticed with a start familiar features taking form--a face and a body, much like his, adorned in flowing yellow and white robes. Wings extended from the figure’s back, and a halo encircled their head. Choromatsu’s eyes widened with realization.

 

That’s an angel!

 

He’d never really met one himself, but they’d visited with the other gods and goddesses he’d been with before being cast down to Earth. He’d watched them from afar, always mesmerized by their heavenly glow, as if lit up by their own personal sun. 

 

And now, here was, seeing one up-close. Instinct told him to hide, but curiosity edged its way into his mind, wanting to know why this angel was here. In the end curiosity won out, and he slowly emerged from the lake.

 

The angel jumped, startled. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t know anyone else was here!”

 

“No, it’s okay--I’m sorry, I didn't mean to scare you.” Choromatsu offered the angel a pleasant smile. “What business do you have here, if I may ask? It’s not common for angels to visit Earth like this without reason. Have you come seeking the sacred lake…?”

 

The angel shook his head, sending his halo bobbing. “No, I didn’t even know there was a lake here! I was sent on a mission to a church down here...the church is somewhere near these woods, but somehow I got lost! Do you know where it is?”

 

“Ah, unfortunately I don’t,” Choromatsu said apologetically. “I’m really only familiar with the forest around me. I don’t know of any churches nearby.”

 

“Darn.” The angel’s bright smile dimmed slightly. “I guess I shouldn’t have chased that butterfly in here and got all twisted and turned around…”

 

“I wish I could help you.” Choromatsu felt bad he didn’t have more to offer the angel, not even directions. “If you want to stay here and rest a bit before looking again, you’re certainly welcome to.” His heart fluttered at the thought of having company, humming with an energy that was both nervous and excited. 

 

“Are you sure?” the angel asked, but his face lit up with a smile as warm as the glow that radiated all around him. 

 

“Of course.” Choromatsu smiled, too. “My name is Choromatsu, by the way. What’s yours?”

 

“I’m Jyushimatsu!” the angel introduced himself. “It’s very nice to meet you!”

 

Choromatsu chuckled slightly, endeared by the angel’s enthusiasm. “It’s nice to meet you too.”

 

“Say, Choromatsu, can I ask you some questions?” Jyushimatsu asked, lowering himself to sitting on the ground beside the lake and tipping his head to the side. “I wanna get to know my new friend.”

 

Friend. The word struck a chord in Choromatsu’s heart. He’d been lonely for so long, relying only on the animals that dwelled in the forest for companionship. He wasn’t sure that constituted real friendship. 

 

But now...here was an angel, one who wanted to be his friend and get to know him. Choromatsu couldn’t help himself from smiling.

 

“Of course. I’ll answer any questions you have...anything for my new friend.”

Chapter Text

Choromatsu gave himself one last look in the mirror before deeming his appearance acceptable and grabbing his suitcase. He never wanted to show up at his job looking disheveled and sloppy—that would never do, he was finally establishing his place in society and would never allow himself to go around with messy hair or a misbuttoned shirt.

 

With that, he walked through his apartment and opened the front door, ready to leave for work—and as soon as he did he froze.

 

Osomatsu stood on his doormat, hand raised as if about to ring the doorbell, but as soon as the door had opened he’d stumbled back in surprise.

 

“Osomatsu.” Choromatsu crossed his arms, regarding his brother with a steely look. “What are you doing here?”

 

“I, uh...I was just in the neighborhood and…” Osomatsu stammered, clearly unprepared.

 

“Make it fast, Osomatsu.” Choromatsu tapped on his watch. “I have to catch the train, I don’t want to be late for work.”

 

“So you’re still on that, huh?” Osomatsu chuckled, but it sounded forced. “I gotta admit, when you moved out, I expected you to quit within a month and come back home.”

 

Choromatsu bristled, gritting his teeth. “Excuse me…?”

 

“Come on, Choro—this is what you want? What you really want?” Osomatsu asked suddenly. “A dingy apartment and a crappy nine-to-five job? This was better than what you already had at home?”

 

“Is this what you came all the way out here for?” Choromatsu asked, his tone biting. “You came here to criticize my apartment and my job? Bold words coming from someone who has neither.”

 

“No, Choro, I came here because I had something to tell you.” Osomatsu pulled something out of his pocket—some sort of letter, it looked like. “Look at this, we got invited to be in this big baseball game. I’m going to tell the others about it, but I thought I’d come tell you first.”

 

Choromatsu plucked the paper from Osomatsu’s hand, skimming it over and then frowning. “I can’t do this. I’m way too busy. And besides, I have no interest in baseball anyway.” He handed the paper unceremoniously back to Osomatsu.

 

Osomatsu glanced at the paper, then back up at Choromatsu in surprise. “But, Choro, don’t you see? If we do this, if we win this, you don’t have to do this anymore. You don’t have to work. You’ll be rich and famous!” He grinned, as if it were that simple.

 

“I don’t want that, Osomatsu,” Choromatsu responded firmly. “I want what I have now. A job and my own place. And I’m doing very well, thank you very much—not that you even bothered to ask.”

 

“Oh, come on,” Osomatsu argued, frowning. “You can’t tell me this is actually what you want! You really like spending every day in front of a computer, wasting your life away? You like being alone like this? I don’t believe it!”

 

“How can you?” Choromatsu snapped suddenly, glaring harshly at Osomatsu. “How do you expect to believe it when you put no effort into even trying to learn what I really wanted? All this time I’ve told you this is the life I wanted, the one I was working toward, but you wouldn’t listen because that’s not the life you wanted! You were so fixated on keeping us all in line, under your watch, but guess what? We are adults, Osomatsu, and you can’t expect us to drop our lives and go along with your stupid little games just because you’re not willing to grow up an move on!”

 

Choromatsu finally stopped then to take a breath, and only then registered the expression on Osomatsu’s face. It wasn’t hurt like he was expecting though—it was anger. 

 

“How can you say that?” he demanded now, seizing the moment of silence for himself. “How can you stand there and say all of this horrible stuff about me when I only ever cared about what was best for you guys? I don’t want you to feel alone or like you have to do all of this stuff to be successful. I don’t see how what you had at home wasn’t enough for you!”

 

“You didn’t care what was best for us, Osomatsu—you cared about what was best for you,” Choromatsu responded coldly. “We need a brother who is willing to put his selfish desires aside and support us, no matter what. Not...not just leave us hanging, and refuse to even say goodbye to us when we finally move out.” 

 

It stung to say that last part, and Choromatsu found himself blinking away tears. But he rubbed them away quickly, refusing to let Osomatsu see him cry.

 

Osomatsu said nothing now, casting his gaze downward as if finally feeling shame for his actions. It wasn’t enough for Choromatsu, though—not after this long.

 

“Do what you want, Osomatsu, but I won’t let you get in my way. Not anymore.” Choromatsu stepped around Osomatsu, and Osomatsu moved stiffly to the side. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to work. Goodbye.”

 

He walked briskly down the hall, staring ahead of him...but as he reached the end of the hall he allowed himself to peer over his shoulder and see what Osomatsu was doing.

 

His brother was walking down the opposite end of the hall, head hanging low and hands in his pockets. He looked despondent, even from here.

 

Choromatsu faltered. Osomatsu probably hadn’t come here expecting an argument...but, well, what else could he have expected, this being the first time he’d even bothered to check on Choromatsu since he left? 

 

He didn’t deserve Choromatsu’s time. Not if that was the way he planned to use it. Choromatsu had better things to do than fight with someone so immature and petty he wouldn’t even say goodbye to his own brother. 

 

Squaring his shoulders, Choromatsu charged ahead toward the train station, his mind set on work.

 

He refused to let the tears brimming in his eyes fall.

Chapter Text

It was finally intermission.

 

Karamatsu sighed as he walked backstage—or maybe walked wasn’t the right word. Waddled was more like it, shuffling awkwardly in his stupid tree costume while the rest of the actors and actresses brushed by him.

 

The play is going well, I guess—but it’s not all that fun being a tree. Everyone else is enjoying this a lot more than I am.

 

Once he was backstage he put down the branches he was supposed to be holding and leaned against the wall—it was too hard to sit in his costume, and too difficult to take off for a measly fifteen-minute break. Hopefully the rest of the play would go by quickly so he could take off this dumb costume and stop feeling so ridiculous.

 

“Hey, Kara!”

 

Karamatsu jumped, glancing up to find Osomatsu walking toward him with a smile on his face.

 

“What’re you doing back here, Oso?” Karamatsu asked. “Not that I’m not happy to see you, but I thought only the cast and crew was allowed back here.”

 

“Special big brother privileges,” Osomatsu replied with a grin, then leaned in and admitted, “Actually I sort of snuck back here, so I can’t be long. I just wanted to tell you that you’re doing great out there tonight.”

 

Karamatsu frowned. “That’s only because I’m a tree and don’t have any lines. Anyone can do that. And I almost tripped and fell during the first scene. I heard people in the audience laugh.”

 

“But you caught yourself! That’s what matters. And only a couple of people laughed,” Osomatsu said, trying to be reassuring, not that it worked with Karamatsu.

 

“Maybe…” Karamatsu sighed. “But it’s still embarrassing. I hate being a tree. I wish I hadn’t messed up my audition and gotten an actual role…”

 

“I know,” Osomatsu replied sympathetically. Then he put a hand on Karamatsu’s shoulder. “But hey, look on the bright side here. So you didn’t get a big role—but at least you still got a role, even if it’s not the one you wanted.”

 

“I guess…” Karamatsu answered slowly.

 

“Yeah! That means they must’ve liked you. And I bet you anything,” Osomatsu went on, “that by the time the next play rolls around, you’ll be a lot more confident and you will ace that audition. Then you’ll get the part you want! You just gotta believe in yourself.”

 

Hope sparked in Karamatsu’s heart. “Do you really think so?”

 

“Sure I do!” Osomatsu responded enthusiastically. “This gig is a small step in the right direction. You’ll get there one day, Kara, I know it!”

 

Karamatsu found it a little easier to stand up straighter then. He offered Osomatsu a little smile. “Thank you, Aniki.” He didn’t call Osomatsu that very often anymore, but it felt right then—and he could tell that Osomatsu very much appreciated it.

 

“Only a few minutes until the curtain goes back up!” the stage manager called then, stopping when he reached Karamatsu and Osomatsu. “Hey, no one but cast and crew is allowed back here. You better get back to your seat before the interlude is over.”

 

“That’s my cue to leave.” Osomatsu backed off, shooting Karamatsu one last big grin. “Break a leg out there, Kara—be the best tree you can be!”

 

“I shall!” Karamatsu promised, with more confidence in his voice now. 

 

When it was time, he grabbed this branches again and marched back out into the stage, taking his place with the rest of the cast as the play resumed. The rest of the show went off without a hitch, and although Karamatsu only played a small part in it all, he still told himself to stand proud.

 

You got this far at least—you’ll do even better next time, just like Aniki said! Just reach for the stars and one day you will be one, too.


Next time, he was bound to make it his time to shine.

Chapter Text

Karamatsu stared at the notebook in front of him. The half-blank page seemed to stare back at him, almost mockingly.

 

Scribbled on the page in front of him were words, forming a poem—or at least, they almost did. But it wasn’t a complete poem. It had been dropped off in the middle. Not only that, but right in the middle of a sentence. One might think it was a creative choice, but Karamatsu knew better.

 

After all, he was the one who’d written it, way back in high school. It seemed so long ago, but he could remember the day clearly. 

 

It had been a miserable day. He’d been cast as a lowly tree in the school play, he’d spilled an entire carton of juice on himself at lunch, and he’d been made fun of by a group of bullies when he’d stumbled and fell on his way out the classroom door. It had all been humiliating, and as soon as he got home he’d locked himself in his room to write—venting through poetry was new to him then, but therapeutic.

 

The words had come quickly to him that day, but all the same he’d stopped in the middle—stopped when there’d been a knock at the door. It had been Osomatsu, asking if he was okay. And for the first time in a long time, Karamatsu had allowed himself to admit he wasn’t, and poured all his sadness and frustration out to his brother, who listened with a surprising amount of understanding for him. By the time he was done and Osomatsu had hugged him and comforted him, Karamatsu felt a lot better. And instead of finishing his poem, he’d gone out to spend time with Osomatsu instead.

 

He still wrote poems to express his feelings, but that was one poem he’d never gotten back to. For some reason, seeing the unfinished poem in his old notebook bothered him now, and he thought he might try to finish it.

 

But now, he sat here, pencil in hand but no ideas in mind. He could recall what he’d been feeling on that awful day, but he couldn’t for the life of him summon to mind the inspiration to continue. 

 

He thought of it, of the boy he was not so long ago, the boy he’d been when he’d written what lay on the paper here.

 

I was sad...I was lonely and shy, I got scared to talk to people and make friends, or go after my dreams.

 

He thought of himself now, of the man he had become.

 

I’m happier now. I’m confident, I’ve got my perfect fashion...I’m not afraid to pursue my dreams and let the world know who I am.

 

He drummed the pencil against the table.

 

So why do I feel like I need to finish this poem…? Is it that I feel like I owe it to my younger self to get it done? I am sure he would be happy enough to know I’ve grown past that stage in my life...I don’t think he needs me to finish another sad poem.

 

With that, Karamatsu put down the pencil, and began to tear the page out of the book. But then, he froze, hand still on the paper.

 

Maybe I should keep it, after all. Maybe I should let it serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come. Yes, I think that’s a good idea.

 

“Oi, Karamatsu!” Osomatsu’s voice called from downstairs. “Are you ready to go to Chibita’s?”

 

“Coming, dear brother!” Karamatsu called back, closing the notebook and dashing out of the room to join his brothers.

 

He left the poem there, unfinished but not forgotten.

Chapter Text

Osomatsu squinted against the bright light, which came from a desk lamp on the table right beside him. It was the only source of light in the room.

 

“Seriously, you guys?” He scowled fiercely. “You’re really using this against me? Pachinko Police was my idea, you know!”

 

“Oh, we know,” Choromatsu intoned seriously, regarding Osomatsu with a cold expression. He wore his black police officer uniform, and his arms were folded across his chest as he glared at the oldest brother. “And that’s exactly why we’re doing this now. Isn’t that right, Ichimatsu?”

 

Next to him, Ichimatsu—wearing a suit identical to Choromatsu’s—nodded gravely, his gaze piercing as he stared at Osomatsu.

 

“What are you talking about?” Osomatsu spat, frustrated. 

 

“As you said, you are the one who invented Pachinko Police,” Choromatsu began, leaning against the table and staring right into Osomatsu’s eyes, making the red-clad brother squirm. “As a result, you should know the rules better than anyone. Would you like to remind him of said rule he broke, Ichimatsu?”

 

Ichimatsu stepped into the beam of light as well. “Any money won during pachinko must be shared with the rest of the brothers,” he stated in a monotone. “Especially if the money used to obtain said winnings was taken from the brothers.”

 

“I’m telling you, I didn’t win!” Osomatsu protested. 

 

“Then how could you afford that new manga you just bought?” Choromatsu countered sharply.

 

“Karamatsu lent me the money!”

 

“Ha!” Choromatsu shook his head at that. “I knew you’d say that, so I asked Karamatsu in advance. He said he hasn’t loaned you money in weeks— voluntarily, that is.”

 

“I...but, I...I didn’t…!” Osomatsu sputtered, at a loss for words. 

 

“Just confess, Osomatsu.” Ichimatsu’s half-lidded gaze was menacing. “You either admit to the crime and give up your money, or do the time. Jyushimatsu said he’d be willing to put you in the octopus hold for eight hours this time.”

 

“That’s not humanly possible!” Osomatsu objected.

 

“This is Jyushimatsu we’re talking about,” Choromatsu reminded him.

 

“I...oh, fine, I confess.” Osomatsu finally caved, though he was pissed about it. “I admit it, I won 5000 yen at pachinko yesterday...happy now?”

 

“We’ll be happy once you give us our share.” Choromatsu held out his hand expectantly, and Ichimatsu followed suit.

 

Grumbling, Osomatsu reluctantly pulled out his wallet and shoved a few crumpled yen into his brothers’ hands. “There. Now can I please go?”

 

Choromatsu counted out the bills, as if to ensure he hadn’t been short-changed. “You are excused,” he finally declared dismissively. “But you better not let us catch you doing this again.”

 

“You won’t,” Osomatsu muttered, shuffling out of the room in defeat.

 

Once he was gone, Choromatsu and Ichimatsu exchanged a sneaky smirk.

 

“I like this game, Ichimatsu,” Choromatsu said, pocketing his new funds with a smugly satisfied smile.

 

Ichimatsu chuckled, doing the same. “Me too, Choromatsu. Me too.”

Chapter Text

Todomatsu focused all his attention on his phone, scrolling through cute pictures of kittens, hoping it would be enough to distract him from the terrible storm raging outside.

 

It wasn’t working.

 

Thunder roared and lightning lit up the sky with blinding intensity, wind howled, and rain slashed against the windows, making the glass in the pane rattle. He scrunched into a tighter ball on the couch, as if curling up would form a defense against the storm.

 

He knew, logically speaking, that he was safe from the storm inside his house, that nothing bad would happen to him. But he still couldn’t shake that scared, uneasy feeling that grabbed him in a tight hold every time a storm rolled through.

 

Another clap of thunder exploded in the sky, and the lights in the living room flickered. Todomatsu trembled, clutching his phone more tightly.

 

Please let this storm end soon….

 

The thunder and lightning continued, the wind and rain picking up even more than Todomatsu thought possible. There was another deafeningly loud clap of thunder, a flash of lightning streaking through the sky, and then—

 

Suddenly, the power went out. The living room was plunged into darkness.

 

“Ahhh!!” Todomatsu yelped, dropping his phone. He yanked the blanket off the back of the couch and pulled it over himself, wrapping it tightly around his shaking form.

 

“Totty! Totty, are you in here…?”

 

Todomatsu pulled the blanket back just a little, enough to peer out of it. His eyes darted around the room, not that he could see anything in the pitch-blackness that surrounded them. Still, he knew that voice…

 

“Ch-Choromatsu-Niisan…?” he croaked out.

 

“Hold on a second.” There was a flash of light—Todomatsu recognized it as the beam of a flashlight—and then a figure entered the room. Todomatsu could see in the beam of light that it was Choromatsu.

 

“I saw the lights flickering and thought I’d go look for some flashlights,” Choromatsu explained, sitting on the couch next to Todomatsu. “Are you okay?”

 

“I’m f-fine…” Todomatsu responded, though his voice was quivering.

 

Suddenly there was another clap of thunder. Todomatsu cried out, lunging at Choromatsu and latching desperately onto him. 

 

Choromatsu faltered at the sudden weight thrown against him, but quickly recovered and put an arm around Todomatsu, pulling him closer in a protective hug.

 

“It’s okay, Totty,” he said gently, patting Todomatsu’s back. “It’ll be over soon, and hopefully the power will be on again afterwards.”

 

“W-will you stay with me until then?” Todomatsu asked anxiously. He knew he probably sounded like a big baby, wanting his brother to stay by him just because he was afraid of a dumb storm, but he was too scared to care anymore.

 

“I’ll stay,” Choromatsu promised, readjusting the blanket so Todomatsu was more snuggly bundled up. “Don’t worry, I’m right here.”

 

Todomatsu managed the smallest smile, nestling closer to his brother. Choromatsu really was a good brother sometimes. He was already feeling a lot better.

 

“Thank you, Choromatsu-Niisan.”

 

“You’re welcome, Todomatsu.”

Chapter Text

“Wow! This place is fantastic!” Nyaa gushed, dropping her suitcase and taking in every inch of the room. 

 

She and Totoko were spending the weekend at a ryokan--their first vacation together--and so far everything had been wonderful. The inn was quaint and comfortable, rather than luxurious, because they’d thought that would be the most authentic experience. It was very nice though. Their room was well-decorated and well-sized, with a massive window allowing in plenty of sunshine.

 

Totoko dropped her suitcase beside Nyaa’s and stretched her arms. “This is a perfect escape from the cold weather,” she declared with a smile. “You had a great idea, Nyaa.”

 

“Of course--I always have great ideas,” Nyaa teased, winking at Totoko. “I have another one for you, why don’t we go ahead and check out the onsen? I am dying for a hot soak right now.”

 

“Oooh, yes!” Totoko clapped her hands together eagerly. “Let’s finish checking out the room and then head down to it.”

 

While Totoko checked out the closet space, Nyaa wandered across the room to the giant window and peered out. “Oh!” she gasped, delighted. “Totoko, come look! The view of the mountains is gorgeous from here!”

 

Totoko hurried over, and immediately drew in a breath when she saw Nyaa was right. Off in the distance, snow-capped mountains caught the light of the setting sun, painting the white drifts in beautiful shades of pink and orange. It truly was a breathtaking sight, worthy of gracing any postcard. 

 

“I must take a picture!” Totoko quickly reached into her pocket and whipped out her phone, aiming the camera at the picturesque scene before them. It wouldn’t capture nearly as well in a measly photo, but oh well--it was the memories that counted.

 

And speaking of memories…

 

Totoko snuck a glance of her girlfriend, who was still gazing out the window as if transfixed by the sight. Her eyes wide with wonder, a relaxed smile on her face. It was so different than the cutesy look she always put on for her fans. This smile was natural... perfect.

 

Totoko’s heart skipped a beat. Slyly, she held her phone up and snapped a quick shot of Nyaa’s face, then hastily pocketed it when Nyaa glanced at her.

 

“Are you okay?” she asked.

 

“Yes, of course--why?” Totoko asked, trying not to appear as flustered as she felt.

 

“You’re blushing.”

 

“N-no I’m not!” Totoko insisted, sure that she was blushing even more now. “It’s just...it’s just the cold making my cheeks red. We should go check out the onsen, yeah?”

 

“Hmm…” Nyaa hummed, the playful smile on her lips indicating she wasn’t entirely convinced. “Sure, whatever you want.”


Of course, she’d noticed Totoko snapping a candid of her--Totoko wasn’t that sly. But for her sake, she’d pretend.

Chapter Text

Her smile was like the sun--bright, radiant, and happy.

 

It was beautiful to look at in any way, but a photo didn’t do it justice, in Jyushimatsu’s opinion. Homura’s smile had to be experienced in person for one to see just how much joy and life it emanated, when she was really and truly joyful.

 

And fortunately for Jyushimatsu, he was seeing it in-the-flesh right now.

 

He and Homura lay in the grass at the park, having just finished a round of hide-and-seek (a childish game, maybe, but they’d enjoyed themselves fully). Now they were taking a moment to rest, though there wasn’t much resting going on as Jyushimatsu told joke after joke, making Homura laugh to the point of clutching her stomach and wiping away the tears that rolled down her freckled cheeks.

 

And her smile...it was absolutely glowing. It made Jyushimatsu’s heart feel warm.

 

As her laughter died down, she turned on her side and gazed at Jyushimatsu, her brown eyes shining. “I had so much fun today, Jyushimatsu.”

 

“I did too!” Jyushimatsu rolled over to gaze into her eyes too. “What should we do tomorrow?”

 

“Well, I have to work tomorrow, but would you like to go out to dinner after?” she suggested.

 

“Ahh…” Jyushimatsu faltered, remembering how he didn’t have a whole lot of money left after blowing a lot of it on baseball cards. Not having a job definitely had its drawbacks…

 

Homura seemed to catch this. “Or...if you’d like, you could come over to my place and I’ll fix us dinner. I’m not much of a cook, but it would be nice.”

 

Jyushimatsu’s smile lit right up again at the suggestion. “Yes! I’d love to eat your cooking, Homura!”

 

Homura giggled. “Well, like I said, I’m sure it’s not very good...but I’ll try to make us something special.”

 

“I’ll help,” Jyushimatsu offered, and was rewarded by Homura’s bright smile again.

 

“Thank you, Jyushimatsu. That would be so nice, cooking together. Oh, and no green peppers, I promise,” she added. “I don’t like them, either.”

 

For some reason, Jyushimatsu thought it was cute they had that in common.

 

Homura checked her watch then. “Ah, I should get going. I have a few things to pick up from the store before I go home.” She stood slowly, brushing off her skirt. “See you tomorrow?”

 

“Yep! See you then!”

 

Homura flashed one last smile and a wave before she walked off, exiting the park. Jyushimatsu watched after her, still feeling warm and happy inside after their day together.

 

He could hardly wait for tomorrow to arrive, bringing more sunshine with it.

Chapter Text

Choromatsu was bouncing his leg without realizing it.

 

“Choro? You okay?”

 

Choromatsu blinked, snapping out of his daze. He’d been so zoned out he’d almost forgotten he was sitting on a train, bound for a city a couple districts away from Akatsuka. Happi was the one who had pulled him out of his thoughts.

 

“Ah...yes, I’m fine, Happi,” Choromatsu replied, trying to shake it off. “Just thinking, I guess…”

 

“About what?” Happi asked, placing his hand on top of Choromatsu’s. Choromatsu hadn’t realized he’d also been drumming his fingers nervously against the armrest, until Happi’s warm hand around his own had put a stop to it.

 

“Well…” Choromatsu hedged, then sighed. “About your parents. Do you really think they’re ready to meet me?”

 

“Of course!” Happi responded without hesitation. “I’ve told them all about you already. They can’t wait to meet you—they practically begged me to bring you this weekend.”

 

“Really…?” Choromatsu pondered, wanting to believe it but not sure he should. 

 

Happi nodded with assurance though. “I’d never lie to you. My mom actually seemed disappointed when I went to their place without you last week.”

 

Choromatsu smiled just a little, but it didn’t last long as his worries crowded out any happy thought in his head. “What if they don’t like me though…? I mean, I am a NEET...maybe they’ll think I’m not good enough for you.”

 

“Choromatsu...I promise you.” Happi took both of Choromatsu’s hands in his own and gave them a tight, comforting squeeze, his expression sincere. “They would never think that. They know you’re trying hard to get a job, and that you actually have goals for the future. If anything, they’ll probably praise you and tell me I should try harder, since my goals aren’t as lofty as yours.”

 

Choromatsu considered what Happi had said, still keeping a firm hold on Happi’s hands. “Maybe...I don’t want them to make you feel bad, though.”

 

Happi cracked a little smile. “Well, they always wanted me to be successful. But they also want me to be happy. And they know that you make me happy. That’s enough for them.”

 

Choromatsu’s face burned upon hearing that. “S-stop...that’s embarrassing.”

 

“It’s true though.” Happi leaned in and snuck a quick kiss, leaving his poor boyfriend even more flustered.

 

“You sneak.” Choromatsu pulled his hands back and swatted at Happi, though both of them were laughing. Then Choromatsu sighed again. “I guess I have to take your word for it...I’m just nervous, that’s all. I mean, meeting the parents is a big deal…”

 

“Yeah, but I’ll be right by your side the whole time,” Happi reminded him, which made it just a little easier for Choromatsu to loosen up and sit up a little straighter.

 

Suddenly the train was slowing down, pulling to a stop at the station. Choromatsu’s pulse quickened. They’d reached their destination.

 

“Ready?” Happi asked, standing up and helping Choromatsu to his feet as well.

 

Choromatsu inhaled, then exhaled slowly, before smiling with just a little trepidation at his boyfriend. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

 

Together, hand-in-hand, they disembarked the train, ready to face whatever would happen next.

Chapter Text

Karamatsu took it upon himself to act as the oldest when Osomatsu wasn’t around. Sure, he might’ve lacked his brother’s natural gift of leadership (or so Osomatsu insisted he had), but he never shirked away from his duties as one of the oldest siblings. He recognized when he needed to step in and fill the role of eldest, and he prided himself in trying his best!

 

However…

 

“Karamatsu-niisaaaaan! He took my rice ball!”

 

...he was reaching his limit.

 

Everyone was out of the house except for himself, Ichimatsu, and Todomatsu. Karamatsu had expected it to be a quiet day, but for some reason Ichimatsu and Todomatsu were at each other’s necks. Karamatsu couldn’t quite blame them, he reasoned--the younger two brothers had both been sick with a cold recently and had been cooped up in the house for days, though they were both well on the mend now. And by that, they were feeling well enough to constantly get on each other’s nerves, being the only brothers having to stay at home in each other’s company.

 

Karamatsu rushed into the kitchen at the sound of Todomatsu’s voice, and found the two brothers squaring off against each other, scowling.

 

“There was one rice ball left!” Todomatsu declared, whipping around to give Karamatsu an outraged look. “I told Ichimatsu earlier I wanted to eat it, but he beat me to it! He stole it from me because he knew I wanted it!”

 

“I did not!” Ichimatsu glowered. “You never told me that, and besides, it’s not like it has your name on it! I need to eat, too!”

 

“Not when it’s the last rice ball and I already claimed it!”

 

“I told you, I didn’t--!”

 

“Hold up, time out, my brothers.” Karamatsu stepped between them. “Let’s go through this slowly. Todomatsu, you’re upset because Ichimatsu took the rice ball you wanted to eat, correct?”

 

“Yes.” Todomatsu pouted. 

 

“And Ichimatsu,” Karamatsu went on, looking toward his other, equally-agitated brother, “you said that you didn’t know he wanted it, yes?”

 

“I said that,” Ichimatsu huffed. “I wouldn’t have taken it otherwise. It wouldn’t have been worth it.”

 

“Well then,” Karamatsu said, “Todomatsu, I believe Ichimatsu is telling the truth. I don’t think he meant to take the rice ball from you.”

 

Todomatsu still glared accusingly at Ichimatsu, and Ichimatsu glared back with equal intensity. It was clear neither of them was willing to relent yet. 

 

Karamatsu sighed, frustrated as well. All of this over some food... wait. An idea popped into his head.

 

“Are you two hungry?” he asked suddenly.

 

Ichimatsu and Todomatsu shot him a confused, questioning look. Finally, Todomatsu said, “I guess. We slept through breakfast this morning.”

 

Aha! No wonder they’re so irritable--they’re not properly nourished!

 

“How about this--I’ll cook something special for you for lunch, but,” Karamatsu intoned, in a voice that was more stern than he ever spoke in, “you have to promise you will at least attempt to get along for the rest of the day.”

 

Ichimatsu and Todomatsu glanced at each other. “I guess we could do that,” Todomatsu finally conceded, and gave Karamatsu a small smile. “Thank you, Karamatsu-Niisan.”

 

“Yeah, thanks,” Ichimatsu added, after a moment. 

 

“You’re welcome--anything for my darling brothers!” Karamatsu declared with a dazzling grin.

 

“Painful,” Todomatsu moaned.

 

“I suddenly feel sick again,” Ichimatsu muttered.


Well, at least they were finally agreeing on something.

Chapter Text

“Lunch is here!” Osomatsu announced, carrying a big white plastic bag into the living room where his brothers were waiting. “I got ramen.”

 

“Yes!” Jyushimatsu cheered, as Osomatsu and Karamatsu began unloading the takeout bowls of ramen and distributing them among the brothers. “Still piping hot, too!” 

 

Todomatsu pried the lid off his bowl and picked up his chopsticks. “Hey, did you guys know it was a holiday in America today?”

 

“Eh? Really?” Ichimatsu asked, already slurping up a mouthful of noodles.

 

“Yep.” Todomatsu daintily sipped his broth. “Thanksgiving.”

 

“Ah, they celebrate that with a big meal and saying what they’re thankful for, right?” Choromatsu asked. 

 

“Yep,” Todomatsu confirmed.

 

“Hey, why don’t we do that?” Osomatsu asked with sudden interest. “List off what we’re thankful for? Just for fun.”

 

Ichimatsu frowned slightly. “I don’t want this to get all sappy.”

 

“Ah, but we have so many things we are fortunate to have!” Karamatsu interjected with a flourish, flicking his bangs dramatically away from his eyes. “I, for one, am grateful for my dear brothers, for Mommy and Daddy, for our good health, for…” He prattled on.

 

“Okay, yeah, I get your point,” Osomatsu admitted to Ichimatsu. “So why don’t we all just name one thing that means something to us? Just something fun and not too serious. I’ll start.” He flashed a grin as he said, “I’m thankful I won big at the horse races last week. Now you go, Karamatsu.”

 

Everyone seemed on board with the plan, so Karamatsu sat up straighter as he spoke. “I’m thankful for my perfect fashion!” he announced. “And for the craft store, for never running out of sequins when I need them most.”

 

“I’m thankful I got tickets for Nyaa-Chan’s big concert next week,” Choromatsu said somewhat dreamily. “It’s supposed to be amazing.”

 

“I’m...I’m thankful for my cat friends,” Ichimatsu said quietly. “They mean a lot to me.”

 

“Baseball!” Jyushimatsu chimed in eagerly. “I hit a great homerun yesterday, it was outta the park!”

 

“I’m thankful I’m cuter than all of you,” Todomatsu said with an innocent air. When that comment earned him dirty looks from everyone else, he huffed. “Okay, fine. I’m thankful for all the cute cafes in town, and my followers on social media.”

 

Osomatsu nodded, satisfied by that. “Okay, that was kind of fun, wasn’t it?”

 

The others agreed it had been sort of fun, then resumed eating their lunches.

 

Osomatsu slurped up his own ramen and gazed around the table. Truth be told, if he admitted what he was really grateful for, it would be having all his brothers together like this, eating delicious food and having a good time. It was too sweet and sappy to say out loud, but it made him happy to have them all around him.


That was something he was truly thankful for.

Chapter Text

Choromatsu gazed down at his hand--specifically, the thin silver band that now adorned his ring finger. He’d been wearing it for two weeks now, but the sight of it still sent a happy little thrill down his spine.

 

He was engaged. Engaged. He still couldn’t believe it, but the ring on his finger was proof of it. 

 

“What’re you smiling about?” Happi asked him softly. They were sitting on the couch together in Happi’s apartment--soon to be their apartment--Choromatsu leaning against his fiance and Happi with his arm around him.

 

Choromatsu couldn’t keep his sappiness to himself. “You,” he answered.

 

“Me?” Happi cracked a gentle smile at the confession.

 

“Yes.” Choromatsu nuzzled closer against Happi’s side. “You always make me smile.”

 

“Pff...that’s so sappy of you.” Happi pressed a small kiss against Choromatsu’s temple. “But I feel the same way about you.”

 

Choromatsu adjusted his position so he could kiss Happi’s cheek, and Happi responded by brushing a kiss right on the tip of Choromatsu’s nose. It was a sweet, tender moment--they’d been having a lot more of those lately, now that Choromatsu lived with Happi. Nothing had to be secretive or awkward anymore. They could sneak kisses whenever they wanted, while they were getting ready for the day or cooking dinner or cuddling on the couch like they were doing right now. It made Choromatsu feel so warm and safe.

 

“I love you,” Choromatsu whispered, resting his forehead against Happi’s.

 

“I love you more.”

 

“No, I love you more.”

 

“No, you.”

 

Choromatsu giggled, draping his arms around Happi’s shoulders, and Happi wound his arms around Choromatsu’s waist. “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened in my life. I can’t believe we’re actually getting married.”

 

“Sometimes I can’t believe it either.” Happi snorted then. “What’s more unbelievable is that we proposed at the exact same time.”

 

Choromatsu laughed a little. “Great minds think alike, I suppose. I almost passed out when you dropped down on one knee and pulled out that ring box.”

 

“Well, I almost passed out when you reached into your pocket and pulled out an identical ring box.” Happi held out his hand to admire the ring on his own finger, which matched Choromatsu’s. “I mean, we even got the same engagement ring. What are the odds?”

 

“I guess that means we’re meant to be.” Choromatsu took Happi’s hand in his own. “I’m glad we didn’t pass out...we both started crying though.”

 

“And then we kissed, and your whole family was watching...I think some of them were crying too. They all seemed so happy for us.”

 

“They were...they’re really happy for us, and for the wedding,” Choromatsu replied softly. “But definitely not as happy as me.”

 

He leaned in to kiss Happi on the lips then, and Happi reciprocated immediately, letting the kiss linger between them. 

 

Some people might be terrified and have second thoughts at the idea of marriage. Choromatsu’s own stomach twisted up in a nervous knot at the thought of his wedding and all that would come after it. But he held no doubt in his mind that this was right. 

 

Happi was the one for him. Choromatsu loved him with his whole heart and then some, and he could tell the feelings were mutual. He knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they’d always be together, always be in love and be loyal to each other, no matter what twists and turns life would throw their way.

 

He could hardly wait to see what lay ahead.

Chapter Text

The sun was setting over Akatsuka, and once again Osomatsu found himself sitting on the roof, gazing over his familiar little town as another day came to a close.

 

It had been another good day. He’d won at pachinko and treated his brothers to oden, which they all appreciated—he did like to make them genuinely happy sometimes, after all. It made him happy, too. He’d wish for every day to go as nicely as today did, if that were possible.

 

He knew every day couldn’t be the same. One day everything would change. But for now, he wanted to savor that feeling of closeness and familiarity, and hold onto it as long as he could.

 

“Osomatsu?”

 

Osomatsu glanced up, and saw that Choromatsu had crawled onto the roof as well. “Hey, Choro.”

 

“What’re you doing up here?” Choromatsu asked, sitting next to his brother.

 

“Watching the sunset.” Osomatsu gestured toward the sun that was slowly but surely lowering in the sky. “You?”

 

“Me too. Besides, Ichimatsu and Todomatsu were bickering, and it was giving me a headache. I thought I’d come out here to escape.” Choromatsu gazed out at the orange-hued sky. “It’s so pretty, isn’t it?”

 

“Yep.” Osomatsu leaned back, taking it all in. While he’d been enjoying some quiet time to himself, it was just as nice having some company. “Another end to another day. And then the cycle repeats tomorrow.”

 

“Yeah.” Choromatsu sighed. “Another day begins. But you know, every new day is like a new opportunity. That’s how I like to see it sometimes.”

 

“A new opportunity for what?” Osomatsu wondered.

 

“Oh, you know—anything. An opportunity to learn something new, try something different. Make a change in your life.”

 

Osomatsu didn’t know if he liked where this was going. “Or, a chance to just enjoy another new day.”

 

“That too. But change can be nice. Change isn’t always bad or earth-shattering.” Choromatsu glanced at Osomatsu. “Without change, even little things, life can feel stale. You know?”

 

Choromatsu was speaking earnestly, not lecturing the way he sometimes did with the oldest. Osomatsu appreciated that, and could even agree that Choromatsu was right.

 

“I guess so. Like when we decide to go to a new izakaya instead of Chibita’s day in and day out?” Osomatsu volunteered. 

 

“Well...something like that,” Choromatsu replied. “I’m just saying change is good sometimes...even if it’s something little, like a new day. I just want to make the most of it.”

 

“Yeah.” Osomatsu smiled a little. He knew Choromatsu secretly yearned for change, changes that were much bigger than he was talking about here. But that was okay. It was what Choromatsu wanted, and even if Osomatsu didn’t feel the same way he’d do his best to support it. 

 

For the time being though, he wanted to enjoy what he had.

 

“Here, want one?” Osomatsu picked up one of the cans of beer he’d brought with him, and passed it to Choromatsu.

 

“Thanks.” Choromatsu cracked open the can and took a long sip. “This is nice.”

 

“We should do it more often, yeah?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

That was how they ended the day, drinking beer and chatting as the sun dwindled and faded into night. 

 

As far as Osomatsu was concerned, it was perfect.

Chapter Text

Osomatsu found himself standing before Choromatsu’s apartment once again.

 

It had only been a week since he last stood here, the baseball invitational fresh on his mind and renewed hope in his heart that everything would go back to normal. But instead, everything had ended in disaster, and he’d made things worse and put more distance between him and his brother.

 

He didn’t want it to be like this anymore. He couldn’t stand it, couldn’t stand the loneliness and isolation that had become his life after his brothers had moved out--all of it self-imposed, because he’d been too stubborn to even try making amends. But that was going to change today, right now. He didn’t even care if Choromatsu moved back home anymore. He just wanted his best friend back.

 

He drew in a deep breath, summoning as much courage as possible. Even so, his hand was trembling when he finally reached out and knocked on the door.

 

At first, he didn’t think anyone was going to answer. It was after office hours, but he wouldn’t put it past Choromatsu to stay at work late even though it was a Friday. He’d hoped he would be home, but those hopes were getting dashed the longer he stood out here.

 

He knocked once more, waited several long seconds, and then sighed dejectedly. Slowly he turned around and began to trudge down the hall, head bowed low. Maybe it was better this way. Maybe this was a sign that it was time to let Choromatsu go for good, let him live his life the way he wanted...without Osomatsu hovering over him, weighing him down and burdening him.

 

But then, he heard it—the sound of a door opening, and a voice speaking to him, its tone equal parts surprised and incredulous.

 

“Osomatsu…?”

 

Osomatsu froze, then slowly turned around, forcing himself to face the source of the voice.

 

Choromatsu. His brother.

 

He stood in the doorway of his apartment, leaning out into the hallway. His expression was impossible to read—Osomatsu had no clue if he was happy, angry, or anywhere in between upon seeing him again.

 

“Uh...hey.” Osomatsu took an ambling step forward, scratching at the back of his neck, attempting to appear casual even though he was a nervous wreck inside.

 

“I didn’t think I’d see you back here again so soon.” Choromatsu’s tone was flat, and now he stood gazing at Osomatsu with his arms folded across his chest. 

 

He didn’t seem mad exactly, just...guarded, cautious. Which, Osomatsu had to admit, he had every right to be after their last encounter.

 

“Yeah. I didn’t think I’d be here so soon, either,” Osomatsu confessed quietly, and cleared his throat. “But...I had to come back. There’s something I really need to say to you.”

 

At first Choromatsu simply stayed put, still eyeing Osomatsu critically, as if asking himself if he could trust him. Osomatsu remained patient, reminding himself that Choromatsu was hurting too—he needed to be as willing to listen as Osomatsu was willing to talk, and if he wasn't ready yet, well then Osomatsu would have to wait.

 

He sure hoped not though.

 

At last, Choromatsu stepped back and opened the door wider. “...come in,” he said at last, still reserved, but with far more civility than he’d spoken with last time.

 

Osomatsu felt a flutter of hope in his heart, but tried not to let his hopes soar too high as he entered Choromatsu’s new home. Being let into his house did not equate being let back into his life, after all.

 

Choromatsu’s apartment was small but tidy, far nicer than what Osomatsu had envisioned. He sat on one end of the couch while Choromatsu perched on the other, his body language stiff and closed-off, as if on the alert.

 

“Choro, I…” Osomatsu began, raking a hand through his hair and struggling to produce just the right words. “I put this off for way too long, and I don’t blame you if you just wanna kick me out right now, but...but I need to say this first.”

 

Choromatsu nodded slightly, a silent urge to continue.

 

“I’m...sorry.” Osomatsu lifted his head to give Choromatsu a plaintive look. “I’m so, so sorry. I did a lot of thinking—“ He forced a chuckle here, “—which you probably doubt I do much of, but I’ve been thinking about a lot of things since you moved out. For a long time I only thought about me, how I felt and what I wanted...not what you wanted. I mean, secretly I think I did know what you wanted, but I refused to acknowledge it, ‘cause it wasn’t what I thought you should want. Does...does that make sense?”

 

Another wordless nod.

 

Osomatsu heaved a heavy sigh. “Yeah, well, I know now how shitty and selfish that was of me. I didn’t realize it when I came over here to talk to you a week ago—I was still only thinking of myself. But I think our fight was the wake-up call I needed to realize that maybe I wasn’t being a very good brother.”

 

A pause. And then, “Maybe?” Choromatsu repeated tensely.

 

“Okay, definitely,” Osomatsu amended. “I wanted you to listen to me and know how upset I was, but the thing is...I didn’t even think to listen to your side of it, until then. I mean, this is crazy, but I thought you were the one being selfish by wanting to leave...I know better now.”

 

His breath wavered, but he made himself stay strong as he fixed his gaze firmly on Choromatsu’s. “So...what I want to say is, I’m sorry. I want to support you now, because I know how important this is to you. And if you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen.”

 

There was a long, uncomfortable stretch of silence in which Choromatsu just sat there, his expression unreadable. Osomatsu thought that maybe he wasn’t going to say anything after all, and shifted anxiously in place, hoping for anything to break the awful silence.

 

When at last Choromatsu spoke, his voice was tight but hushed, strained with hurt. “You really were selfish, Osomatsu...if you’d paid attention at all, you would’ve known this transition hasn’t been all sunshine and roses for me, either. Yes, this is what I wanted, but...but that didn’t mean it was always good and easy, especially having to do it alone, without you there. You always said you stick by my side when I needed you, but you just...left me, when I needed you the most. Yet you think I’m the one who left you?”

 

“Yeah...I guess so.” Osomatsu bowed his head in shame. “I didn’t realize it went both ways. I was just...so mad, I felt so betrayed that you were leaving us. Even though...even though it’s not like you were abandoning us, not really.”

 

“If you’d bothered to talk to me and ask about it, you would’ve realized that,” Choromatsu replied, his voice shaking a little. “I want to be independent, Osomatsu. I want to have my own career and my own space—maybe even my own family one day. But that doesn’t mean I was ever going to abandon the one I already had. You just never gave me a chance to prove that.”

 

“I guess I didn’t...I just thought you were ready to say goodbye for good...wow, I was really stupid, wasn’t I?” Osomatsu rubbed his eyes, in a feeble attempt to wipe away the tears collecting there. “I probably blew it with you, big-time. I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to see me again. But...but if you’re willing to give me a second chance...I want to make it up to you. I want to prove I can be a supportive brother and have your back. Even if things are different now. It doesn’t even matter to me anymore. I just want you to be happy, and...I just want my best friend back.”

 

He drew in a trembling breath then, and dared to meet Choromatsu’s gaze again. “Can...can you give me another chance?”

 

To his surprise, tears had welled up in Choromatsu’s eyes by then too. 

 

“Oso...I’ve been…s-so lonely and sad since I moved out,” Choromatsu confided, the tears spilling over. “I miss everyone...I missed you. I don’t want this rift between us to keep getting wider and wider. I want my best friend back, too.”

 

Osomatsu’s heart skipped a beat. “Does that mean you forgive me…?”

 

“You hurt me, Oso...so much.” Choromatsu sighed, his breath quivering. “And it’s...it’s still going to sting for awhile, it’s not like I can forgive and forget all of this right away. But I...I want to make up, I want to try to move past this and get along with you again. You’re still my brother, after all...no matter what happens, I never want to lose you forever.”

 

Osomatsu couldn’t control his tears anymore. They spilled out and rolled down his cheeks as he held his arms out to Choromatsu.

 

Choromatsu barely hesitated before falling into Osomatsu’s arms, and soon the two were crying and holding each other, overwhelmed by their own emotions. 

 

“I am so, so sorry, Choromatsu,” Osomatsu whispered hoarsely, hugging his little brother close. “I promise, I’ll never hurt you like that again.”

 

“I’m sorry too.” Choromatsu sniffled, his voice shaky. “I should’ve tried harder to understand your point of view, instead of just giving you the cold shoulder...I’m so sorry…”

 

They stayed like this for several long minutes, crying and apologizing, neither of them willing to let go first. They’d been hurt, and their tears were a mix of emotions all mingled together--pain and sadness and relief. But now that they’d been shed, now that the words that needed to be spoken had finally been said, they could begin to move on.

 

They could finally allow themselves to heal, and they wouldn’t have to do it alone.