Actions

Work Header

Totty is Sick

Chapter Text

He coughed and coughed until he feels like puking his lungs out. A terrible, terrible cold has befallen him. It didn't feel great. Not at all. All the disgusting germs in his body… Just thinking about it made him shudder.

 

Todomatsu hazily glared out the window, finding that the sun was hardly even out yet. He just wanted to go back to sleep, but noooo; the itch in his chest was irritating him, and the temptation to claw it out was rising. His temperature was steadily rising as well. Oh boy.

 

Frustratingly, he sat up and looked at his brothers who were all sleeping soundly. They didn't look to be sick or getting sick, yet he groaned, knowing full well that they were all going to be sick. Bitterly, he cursed at the fact that he had gotten sick first.

 

He did notice that Karamatsu wasn't laying in his usual spot. In fact, the second eldest wasn't anywhere to be seen. It was faint, but if he focused just enough, he could hear the light plucking of a guitar.

 

Todomatsu quietly slipped from beneath his covers, careful to not disturb anyone. He'd rather not deal with his annoying brothers at the moment. Especially when he's currently sick and irate.

 

He found his way to the roof where his suspicions were confirmed.

 

"Ah, Totty! What are you doing up at this hour?" Karamatsu asked after an eruption of coughs made its way out of his chest, alerting him of his presence. "You're sick too!"

 

"I'm fine," Todomatsu muttered, going to sit down next to him. "I just woke up because of this nasty cough."

 

The morning was crisp and cold. Goosebumps prickled his skin easily as the cool air passes through the thin fabric of his pajamas. Todomatsu took in shallow breaths. It was getting hard to breath and he hated it.

 

"Ah, well then brother, would you like me to sing you a lullaby?" It wasn't often that Karamatsu got to sing lullabies. Everyone just seemed to sleep before he could actually get a few notes out of his throat.

 

"Mm, sure go ahead." Todomatsu just didn't want to try to stop him. He coughed more, feeling the itch tickle inside him. God, he wished it'd just go away. Wheezing came soon after as he grumbled for breath.

 

Karamatsu was concerned. "Are you sure you don't want to-"

 

"I'm fine, Karamatsu-niisan!" He reassured him. "Let's just–" Todomatsu glanced at the rays of the sun that were peeking over the horizon "–enjoy the sunrise okay?"

 

His brother, thankfully, nodded, and he relaxed as best he could. In hindsight, he knew that staying out would make him sicker, but he didn't want to care at the moment. A compulsive decision, really.

 

Karamatsu's light humming filled his ears. He wouldn't ever admit it out loud, but his brother was a fairly good musician. When he wasn't being overly painful, that is. Maybe one day he'd tell him when he becomes less embarrassing.

 

As the sky shifted its colors to a pallet of marigolds and bluebells, the blanket of sleep slowly embraced Todomatsu. His brother's voice allured his eyes close, and he fell asleep once more.

Chapter Text

Todomatsu remembers the fresh air of a blue sky. Blue, like Karamatsu, always there for him every day. The sky, a bit too bright; other times, a bit too dark. Coming with reassurances of refreshing his lungs with each breath. And his hum sounded louder than the beeping.

 

He remembers the breeze that passes through his skin, making him sigh out. Relaxing because a coolness has come from the red heat that suffocates. Just like Osomatsu. A clingy brother, but sometimes welcoming with his warmth. Hugs taken with care because he could be a big brother.

 

He remembers a blinding sun and looking away. A sweet, yellow smile brought by Jyushimatsu. And he was cracking jokes under the shining day. Often times a little dumb with the gags. The humour was welcome when all sorts of melancholy came.

 

He remembers the purple flowers that were so prominent; only located in a certain place where his fond moments were created. They hung down, reminiscent of Ichimatsu. The blossoms shaded his body when the light sometimes become too unbearing. Peace and quiet when the world was buzzing too loudly.

 

He remembers the feel of the foliage. Green leaves that painted his sights to see a beauty. Smooth curves in tiny details that Choromatsu would too pay attention to. Grassy grounds tickled his skin while he lay dreaming of a nice life. Thinking about the future.

 

Todomatsu remembers the garden. One that can only be found with the mind’s eye. He wants to see the garden. Join his brothers outside, and go out with friends like he used to. He grew to hate the pale walls and the white light that shone through the window. Before he knew it, he took a deep breath with his mouth. That was a mistake.

 

It bubbled and clawed his chest, a wheeze flew out of his lips. He felt constricted; his insides felt like they were being squeezed by a snake. It hurt so much. The itch inside never went away, constantly there to remind him of his illness and of the pain.

 

After his coughing fit, he gasped in a long breath, but little air came to him before he started to take in shallow breaths through his nose. The lost air came to him and so did his senses. The beeping was a bit faster than before and his fingers were colder. With little hesitation, he pushed his hands underneath the blanket that seemed stuck to him 24/7. Eyes glanced at the clock on the table to tell him that he would see his brothers soon.

 

“Totty!” He turned his attention to the door. One by one, a colorful set of people rushed in with smiles on their faces, save for the one dressed in purple. He smiled as they each surrounded his bed.

 

“Hey guys!” Todomatsu greeted in a half-raspy voice. He slightly adjusted his position on the bed, preparing to spend time with his brothers.

 

Osomatsu was carrying a bag, presumably filled with candy like it was with the past visits. A grin was one his visage as he rubbed his nose. On the other hand, Choromatsu had a magazine in his hold, possibly one that he had subscribed to a while ago. He looked to be disapproving of Osomatsu, like always. Ichimatsu replaced the flowers that were in the vase, sitting on his bedside. The new bouquet had a variety of flowers he didn’t recognize except for the wisterias that drooped, standing out among the standing flowers. Meanwhile, Karamatsu and Jyushimatsu were both instantly at his side, the latter being much more excited than the other.

 

“Totty! Yesterday, I threw a baseball high in the air! It totally went over 80 meters!” His direct older brother was practically vibrating while explaining his highlights of what happened yesterday. Todomatsu threw him an amused grin, happily listening to his tale that was most likely not exaggerated despite sounding like it. “I practiced my swings right after throwing 35 more balls! I would’ve done more, but Ichimatsu-niisan fell over, running to get the balls.”

 

Todomatsu stifled a laugh as Ichimatsu leered at the both of them. Jyushimatsu talked more about what had happened, like Osomatsu falling down the bridge after he tripped over a rock from stumbling back as recoil of a slap that a woman gave him. Osomatsu had promptly affirmed that that did indeed happen. Choromatsu only gave a sigh of disappointment and scolded the eldest. While their bickering went on, Jysuhimatsu told him more events that had transpired before they came to visit.

 

“And then we went to that place for Ichimatsu-niisan to add the purple flowers to the bouquet!”

 

“That sounds like fun!”Todomatsu clapped his hands once and rested them on his lap. “I wanna go to the garden too…” A forlorn look spread across his features.

 

“Hey, hey, hey!” Careful hands went to grab his cheeks, avoiding the tube of his oxygen mask. He looked at the face of the eldest brother. “You can’t be sad about that! Onii-chan won’t allow you too.”

 

“He is correct. Do not concern yourself over the matter of visiting the orchard, dearest Totty!” Karamatsu commented. “We shall go when you are well and out of this hospital!”

 

A chorus of agreement sounded around him.

 

Todomatsu’s breath  hitched because, honestly, now he wants this horrible illness of his to go away soon. He smiled, joy filling his chest from his brother’s hopefulness. He hoped the recovery came faster than three months. His hands found their way up to Osomatsu’s own hand, clutching them as if it was the last time he would ever hold them.

 

“Okay!”

Chapter Text

"Is... is everyone else not coming?" Only Ichimatsu was present in the room, a bag of food, possibly leftovers, in his hold. The fourth-born nodded at his question before he sat down, placing the bag on the side table.

 

"Oh…" Todomatsu looked down, a bit disappointed. It wasn't as if he didn't know they'd probably get tired of visiting him daily. They were probably busy; well, as busy as NEETs could possibly be. Maybe something happened?

 

"Hey." He looked toward his brother, wondering what he would say. "Don't," Ichimatsu gruff voice came out lowly before he cleared his throat, "worry about them. They couldn't come because they all got sick. Shittymatsu's taking care of them right now."

 

A small sense of relief came over Todomatsu when he heard that they had simply all caught a cold. "And you didn't get sick, Ichimatsu-niisan?"

 

"No."

 

"That's good; I'm glad that you're here." Todomatsu covered his mouth. "I mean, if you were there, you'd probably do your little 'Ichimatsu-sama' thing," he snickered.

 

His brother rose a brow. "Oh? And you wouldn't try to burn us all alive again?"

 

"Hey! I had a valid reason! Germs are gross!"

 

"Heh, that's just an excuse.” A smug look spread across Ichimatsu’s face; dark shadows cast over his eyes in a way that made him look wicked. “I bet you just wanted to kill all of us off.” He let out a diabolical chuckle, one that Todomatsu had heard many times when the fourth-born was trying to be creepy.

 

“Ehh...?! How did you find out?” Todomatsu cried out dramatically, putting an arm over his forehead for affect. “Ahh! If the others were to find out, my life would be ruined…!

 

“...not!” He cheered in a cutesy voice, quitting his act. “Ichimatsu-niisan, you’re losing your touch. Maybe your act is slowly falling?” His lips slowly curled into a sly smile.

 

“Shut up,” His brother growled out. “Or I’ll throw away the donburi mom made.” It was an empty threat. Both of them knew he wasn’t going to actually to throw it away, not when Todomatsu hadn’t had donburi in such a long time.

 

“Alright, alright! Sheesh!” He went to grab the bag with the donburi in it and held it close as if it was going to disappear.

 

Deliberately, he ate the food. With each bite, Todomatsu savored the deliciousness of Matsuyo's donburi on his tongue. Muffled noises of enjoyment filled the air. It was too soon that he finished the bowl, but he was feeling fuller than he had any other day.

 

"Ahh~!" A hefty sigh flew out of his lips. "That was so good~! Mom's cooking is one of the best!"

 

"I'll be sure to tell mom that you enjoyed it." Ichimatsu promised, tying up the bag with a pair of chopsticks and a now-empty bowl inside it. His body paused for a split second before he turned to the man on the bed. "Before I forget as well, let's do some deep breathing..."

 

The weight of his stare seemed to hold Todomatsu down. As much as he disliked the feeling of coughing, he knew it was a necessity. His brothers had all helped walk him through it whenever they visited.

 

"Okay…" He had reluctantly agreed, already starting to take in a breath. The breath was held in while his chest was puffing out awkwardly as he lay back in his bed. Maybe he should have sat up. He then exhaled after couple seconds had passed. A harsh cough came out immediately after.

 

"One," Ichimatsu announced, keeping count. "Keep it up." The encouragement came out sounding dull and emotionless, yet Todomatsu felt a bit of pride from the words. Sitting up this time, he did the same procedure nine more times before he was done, a bit exhausted from the coughing.

 

"I always hate doing this." A whine escaped from him as he leaned back into the elevated bed. There was no immediate response from his brother, not that he was expecting one. Then, a warm hand came to pet his head, much like one would to a cat. He relaxed into the touch, much of the drowsiness from his full stomach and doing the deep breathings coming to hit his body.

 

"Yoshi, yoshi… You did well," Ichimatsu's low voice resounded. His older brother's deep, quiet voice paired with the comforting pets he was receiving had gotten him to close his eyes. More words were softly spoken, slowly soothing the youngest to sleep with a slight smile on his face.



"Do you think we should wake them up?" whispered a man dressed in green. The rest of the brothers were practically all gawking and cooing at the sight of their brothers sleeping comfortably. Ichimatsu was sound asleep at the side of the bed, his hands overlapping Todomatsu's own hand, and while the fourth-born didn't have a smile on his own face, the one on the youngest was enough to tell them that they both seemed to be content with what had happened.

 

"No. Let them sleep."

Chapter Text

Todo glared up at the wooden ceiling, his disdain evident on his features. The sloshing of the water moving around him as well as the cacophony of humans laughing and chatting and singing were the only things he could hear. They drowned out the faint sound of waves outside. He curled himself up again, unused to the small, confined tank he was put in. The guppies that accompanied him in the water did not look appealing despite his hunger. A small ball of anxiety had already filled his empty stomach.

 

A light, brighter than the lamps that lit his room, came from the opening door. It creaked as it swung wider to reveal the very man who had him imprisoned. Todo fiercely glared at him. The man only gave him a smile smile before approaching the glass and pressing his hands upon it. He already wanted him to leave.

 

"I hope you're feeling comfortable in your tank," his steady voice started in an attempt to make conversation. It was sickening how he could be so calm after having him confined in this small space, only a few paces away from the ocean water. "It may be small for you, but it was the biggest we had in our procession."

 

Todo gritted his teeth and tensed. With quick movements, he went and hit the glass in anger. His fists hurt from the impact, but he ignored the pain. "Take me back home, you bastard!" He cried out in his native tongue. "Let me out of this stupid tank and off this goddamned ship!"

 

Either he didn't understand him or he just ignored him, but the man, the pirate, didn't show an ounce of sympathy. He didn't even flinch when the mer had pounded on the glass. Still, he continued on talking about the tank as if the mer hadn't done anything.

 

"Hmm… Maybe we could go and steal a bigger tank for you. If you ask it, of course!" The blue coat hanging off his shoulders swayed with each dramatic movement of his hands. He walked towards his desk and took an ink-dipped quill to circle something on the map. "Our next destination is said to contain the most precious jewels in the world! I know it'll make you smile in delight!" The pirate clapped his hands and laughed heartily. His eyes looked back to Todo. "If you so desire the riches of the world, I wouldn't mind having my crew search for it! Just say the word, and it's yours, mon coquillage ."

 

He could barf from the nickname alone. "I don't want any of that! Just let me go!" He hated that he had gotten himself captured. If only he had listened to his brother about getting too close to the surface. If only he had noticed the net a bit earlier so he could swim away. His eyes felt hot as a choked sob found its way out of his throat.

 

"Oso-niisan! Jyushi-niisan!" The mer pitifully wailed out. He missed the ocean. He missed the feel of soft sand on his scales and playing with the bubbles with Jyushi. He missed the feel of hunt whenever he went to catch his meal. Todo missed the way Oso would pet his head when they took naps in the seaweed. He missed his home!

 

"Shhh… shhh…" The pirate looked at him, at his distress. He seemed to be trying to comfort him, but Todo didn't want any of it. "I know you're homesick, but it will pass soon. You'll see!" The words weren't calming in the slightest; they only served to cause him more anguish. He swam to the furthest side of the tank and floated to the bottom which had been layered with sand.

 

His quiet whines filled the room while his heart slowly ached. A sigh rang out through the room before the door slammed shut. The pirate had left, leaving Todo to his suffocating thoughts. The weight of loneliness was heavy on his chest as he longed to be home. The sway of the ship only served to remind him of how trapped he was despite being so close to the ocean.

Chapter Text

The harsh coughing reached his ears and sent his nerves into a panic. He tensed and moved a bit closer to Todo. He felt helpless, unable to do anything as the more blood was coughed out. It stained his brother's pale, pale hands that were looking ashy and less healthy with each passing day. Their mom was closest to him, a small bin in her hands and right below his mouth to catch the blood. Choro was beside her, casting a small spell to help lessen the pain that Todo was going through. Everyone was silent. They could only bear to witness him suffering because none of them could do anything.


It was a grim hour when Todo took his last breath, literally gasping for air. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, unending. It seemed he knew he was going to die and went off with a smile on his delicate features. The blood coating his lips only served to remind his family of his suffering. His death was not a painless one. Ichi, with great sorrow, had to leave because the overwhelming air of death had overtaken his senses. He was crying when he left. 


It is only a few minutes after his eyes fluttered shut to never open again. Jyushi stared at his unmoving body. He was trembling, he noticed. Hesitantly, the man went to grab his brother's hand, feeling it to be still warm. The half-dried blood that painted his own hand in a coat of red didn't bother him. The others had left the room, knowing he would want some time to himself. A loud sniff resounded before droplets of water fell onto the white bedsheets. A loud sob racked his body and came out in a–


–scream. He opened his eyes, awake, alert, and sweating up a storm. There were tears in his eyes, as if he’s been crying in his sleep. His voice had died in his throat, leaving him in silence after he had awoken screaming. How odd that he didn't remember going to sleep. The sun was just barely over the horizon, getting up and ready for the day. His brothers were all sleeping around him, in their respective sleeping pairs, looking relaxed and at peace. He was lucky that they were all heavy sleepers, bar Choro and sometimes Ichi. Speaking of which, the former had awoken and was not happy.


“What the hell, Jyushi! It’s too early!” He whisper-yelled, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. His grouchiness was evident in his voice and jerky movements. Half-lidded eyes turned to glare at him. His older brother hastily composed himself when he saw Jysuhi’s frightened expression and heard his heavy breathing. “Did you have a nightmare or something?”


“Yeah, sorry. Go back to sleep.”


Choro clicked his tongue but decided not to press on the matter. He was worried, but despite Jyushi’s unusual, curt reply, he was tired first and foremost. “Okay, but you better go to Ichi about it in the morning.” It wasn’t advice nor a request; he was telling Jyushi to go see Ichi about his nightmare. If it got him to wake up screaming and frightened, it must have been really bad.


The younger man nodded and watched as his brother went back to sleep. Why was Choro acting so normal? It was as if he had forgotten about Todo’s death and illness. Shaking the thought from his head, Jyushi chalked it up to his tiredness (because Choro wouldn’t just forget about things like that). He started to count each head in the room, not including his own, automatically while trying to get a hold of himself. It was a habit he got from Oso. The numbers rang in his mind. But silent in his ears.


One, two, three, four, five…


That couldn't be right, Jyushi took a recount.


One, Choro, the one at his side, who mumbled something about going back to sleep.

Two, Kara, who was left with half a blanket on top of him which led him to

three, Ichi had most of the blanket hugging his figure as he was curled up, facing away from his bedmate.

Four, Oso was sleeping as crudely as ever; he was literally hanging off the bed.

And five… Todo was sleeping soundly next to Osomatsu, looking healthier than he had for the past 2 fortnights. There was no dark eyebag, no pale skin, no blood. He looked…


Normal.


Eyes widened as a distraught smile placed itself on his face. He let out sighs that sounded more like laughs. No tears fell, but he could feel it building it up. His chest was flooded with relief. Relief that his brother was alive and well. It was all just a dream.


Choro had woken up soon after, possibly surprised to see him awake, seeing as his older brother comically jumped out of bed after realizing that he was, indeed, not asleep.



All the things that had happened in the past week… Jysuhi has seen them happen before. It was like… a strong sense of deja vu, which was weird since he vividly remembers each thing happening. And the image of Todo, on his deathbed, had ingrained itself into his mind. He told Ichi, and he was sure the correlations between his dreams and reality was arousing suspicion in him as well.


It must not be a coincidence that he was coughing just like his so-called dreams. In that time he hunched over, Jyushi had witnessed the first hacking of blood spilling onto the ground for the second time. His brain flipped through his memories, trying to figure out what to do. The first time it happened, he simply panicked. It wasn't until Oso came, having been looking for them, did they finally get home and reach a doctor. Maybe this was his chance now. He could do better than the Jyushi in his visions. Perhaps it was all leading him to this point to save his brother and not let him die. A warning from the gods.


With little hesitation, he immediately hoisted up his only younger brother onto his back and began to run. Run as fast as he could to the nearest doctor's house, hoping that this change of event would save him.


There was no way the cure would be made in time, especially with Dekapan taking so long just to figure out what type of illness he had.

Weeks later, while everyone was asleep in the silent night, Todo quietly stopped breathing. He didn't wake up when his brothers called him, nor did he wake up when roughly shaken. He looked normal, like he was only sleeping, but his cold, stiff body and lack of movement had broken that illusion. Jyushimatsu felt paralyzed. His eyes squeezed shut, and his breathing quickened. A hand reached out to touch his shoulder.


He flinched upright, opening his eyes to find himself in his bed, once again. With deep breaths, he set a hand to his chest as if it'll somehow slow his frantic heart rate. With haste, he counted the heads. One, two, three, four, five. He flopped back onto his bed, sure that Choro will still be asleep because he tended to move a lot in his sleep.


3

He started to try and prevent his brother from getting sick, from catching that awful illness in the first place. Jyushi practically stuck to his brother like glue until he was practically suffocating Todo to the point where he got annoyed-

5

He asked him if there was something wrong. Jyshi told him that he was going to-

7

That nothing was wrong, but asked if he had seen anything weird or if something had happened to him recently. Todo seemed hesitant and said that nothing-

11

He did happen to see a flower he never saw before about a couple weeks ago. It was blooming by itself in the park and he had just plucked it, thinking it’ll be great to show off until it disappeared, leaving a dust of red pollen. So that was the reason.


With a frustrated groan and a feeling of disappointment in the pit of his stomach, Jyushi quickly bid his brother goodbye and went to the doctor’s house. There, Dekapan had been writing down notes. Jyushi matsu hoped he’d be able to at least make the medicine before he would die once again.


He forgot that today was the day that Todo first collapses and vomits blood from his lungs, so later after he is consulting Dekapan, his brother is rushed here, in pain.


13

Thanking Dekapan for recipe after telling him about the flower and symptoms, Jyushi read over the list. They were all located in neighboring villages and forests. Sweating at the vast amount of ingredients and locations, he swallowed down the lump in his throat and set off to find each.

17

One of the first ingredients he went to get was on the cliffside. A root from the nearby olive tree. The gnarly roots and sharp rocks were slick from water droplets. He slipped twice.

19

The enchanted scarecrow spotted him sneaking into the witch's garden. He was promptly turned into a crow for an hour.

23

Kara has cornered him and asked him where he was going. Regrettably, he yelled at him before continuing to get the ingredients. The guilt plagued his mind and he was sluggish on his whole journey.

29

The stress was eating away at him, but he had to persevere! Who else would do it?

31

The bandit had gotten to the ingredient only mere minutes before he had. He'd have to reorder which ingredients to retrieve first.

37

He had gotten too frustrated. It was his own stupidity that had made him lose one of the ingredients in the dungeon.

41

His mask slipped, and he couldn't get out of the house fast enough. His brothers had caught him and bugged him about why he was so quiet and looked so tired lately.

47

The roots on the cliffside got him tangled up. It took nearly two hours for him to cut himself free.

51

His temper has been shorter of late. He didn't smile anymore. Jyushi was too busy focusing on getting the ingredients. He ignored his brothers, and if one of them had tried to bother him, he'd lash out at them.

53

It world had to be out for him. Apparently Todo had been worried for him and went to try and find him. He died in his arms, coughing out blood but happy that he had seen Jyushi.

(He awoke in the next time loop with a bloodcurdling scream, instantly waking the whole neighborhood.)

59

Some asshole merchant had taken the last ingredient he needed! Another re-ordering needed to be done. He almost pulled his hair in frustration.

61

He was getting tired. Did waking up from the previous time loop even restore his energy? He didn't know anymore.


He stayed in bed, staring up at the ceiling with tired eyes. Jysuhi just didn't have the energy to do anything right now. He had yelled at his other brothers rather aggressively, so they had left him alone. A sigh flew out of his mouth as he turned to lay on his side.


"Jyushi-niisan, are you alright?"


He didn't reply. Everything was so numb. He felt fatigued after all these loops. The side of his bed pressed down as Todo sat beside him. A hand came to rub his shoulder comfortingly. Slowly but surely, Jysuhi relaxed as tears flowed from his eyes.


"I'm sorry, Totty," he sniffed out quietly. "I really tried, but it's all so difficult! I'm sorry that I can't save you!" He turned towards his little brother, hugging his waist. His ugly sobs sounded out.


"..." Todo didn't say anything at first, allowing his brother to cry. Jyushi had always been smiling, so he could give him at least this. A few more minutes had passed and the cries died down a bit. He petted his brother's hair and mustered up a smile for him. "I don't know what you're sorry for Jyushi-niisan, but… I forgive you."


Jyushi only cried harder in his shirt.


67

He wiped the dirt from his face, glaring at the witch's house. Her scarecrow had been lucky this time, catching him with its eye.

71

He could do this! All he had to do was get to Dekapan's house and have him mix it all together!

73

He took another route to the doctor's house, finding himself lost in a crowd of traffic.

79

He had it! The cure! Todo won't die! Jyushi could almost jump in joy. He went to grab the potion only for it to disappear right in front of his eyes. The bottle fell and it spilled onto the floor.

83

There was no time to waste. He had the potion in his hands! With great speed, the man exited the doctor's house, leaving only a cloud of dust.


His heart pounded in his ears. Today. He needed to get it to him today. Hurry! Faster and faster before it's too late! Through the doors, past his brother and parents whom were all looking distraught. The room was right in front of him! He opened the door.


"Jyushi-niisan?" Todo weakly said his name.


"I'm sorry, Totty. I'm here. I'm here." He rushed towards his baby brother with tears and a giant smile. A smile he hadn't worn in what feels like a decade. He brought him into a hug, and Todo wailed out his name in happiness and relief.


"Jyushi-niisan..!"


"I'm sorry for being away, but look!" He parted from the hug, bringing up the bottle of potion he had. "It's a cure for your illness!" Hastily, he gave it to his brother.


"How do you know about-?" Todo cut himself off. His brother had always been an oddball, so he shouldn't question it. The youngest looked at the bottle and hesitantly took a sip. He took another one. He blinked and then drank the rest of the potion.


"How do you feel?" Anticipation crawled underneath Jyushi skin as he awaited for his response. When his baby brother gave him a smile, a real, genuine smile, he breathed out a sigh of relief and cheered in happiness. Tears fell from his eyes as he hugged him once more.

Chapter Text

They were a set made to cause trouble. Looking identical, it came easily, even if they didn’t intend it. Although there was one person who was always up to no good. Which is why Todo was here, at Sutaaba, a medical mask on his face that hid only half of his fury. Many eyes stared at his figure which was currently heading towards the man at the register who carried his same face. Despite his major headache and the risk of not getting better for the next couple of days, he had gone out, knowing that he would be here after realizing that he wasn’t home. (Also, Jyushimatsu had casually mentioned that he saw him here.)

“What the hell are you doing here!” He growled out, grabbing his eldest brother by the collar of his shirt. His voice sounded nasally and gruff (well, as gruff as it could be). You, dear reader, had probably guessed it, but the shitty eldest brother was posing as Todomatsu at his part-time job. Todomatsu had gotten sick, so he called in, but it appeared that Osomatsu managed to snag his job after telling a few lies.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, sir,” His brother politely said in a false voice. It was higher pitched, as if meant to mimic the way Todomatsu talked. A smug grin graced his features. “I’m just doing my job.”

“Bullshit! I called in sick today because I’m actually sick, not for you to steal my job! I bet you’re just ruining-!”

“Yes~! One tall caramel latte with extra whip coming right up!” The eldest had somehow gotten himself out of his grip and tapped a few buttons on the cash register. He pointed Todomatsu an ugly smile and bid him a nice day after promptly telling him that he was holding up the line.

The youngest brother was then shoved aside. “W-wait a minute! Where did all these people come from?!” His muffled voice exclaimed as people lined up and threw furious glares at him. Shrinking from the attention, he quietly excused himself to a table. A sigh flew out of his lips before he harshly coughed. He felt terrible. His pounding headache had only grown worse since he had yelled at his brother.

His eyes went to leer at his brother, observing how he was doing. Immediately, he sonic ran over to his brother.

With strength that could only come from years of dealing with his brother, he grabbed his brother by the collar and threw him into the bathroom. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU SHITTY ELDEST!" The volume and intensity of which he yelled had hurt his sore throat, but he could care less.

Osomatsu let out a strangled sound after hitting the floor. He jumped up to his feet. "Ow, ow, ow! That hurt Todomatsu!" He cried out childishly. "I didn't do anything!"

"Liar; you knew exactly what you did! Are you trying to ruin my job?! Eh?! Months of hard work just to gain my reputation back!!!" Todomatsu shook his brother back and forth, a ferocious look on his face as he stared him down.

"But she was asking for it! Who told her to wear a tanktop here? No one!" Osomatsu stupidly defended himself. He lowered his head. "I'm sorry Todomatsu, but I can't control myself… I hope you understand; I am myself first and foremost." It was said dramatically, as if he was an anime protagonist who had just come to a resolve after some inner conflict had come to plague him.

The younger brother wasn't having any of it.

"THEN STOP PRETENDING TO BE ME, AND GO BACK HOME!!!"

Chapter Text

Todomatsu silently trembled in the bathroom. His body felt hot as cold sweat stuck onto his skin. He had just come home from school for the day. Choromatsu was in their room, studying, he claimed. As much as the youngest would have wanted to tell him that he was sick, he knew that Choromatsu would probably get irritated if he was bothered. Choromatsu needed quietude to do his work anyways. Not to mention Osomatsu’s words rang loudly in his mind.

“Isn’t that your own problem?”

Before that, he had always thought they would always be together. He felt pretty useless and helpless without them. It was still evident now, but he never wanted his brothers to drift apart. He couldn’t bear to face his older brothers’ indifference, annoyance, or anger, so he chose to stay quiet about his ever growing fever. Even if it did really make him feel more alone than ever. He brought his knees closer to himself, allowing for tiny tears to fall from his eyes and silent whines to sound from his throat. His head hurt so much, and he couldn’t help himself from feeling so sad, so lonely. He grit his teeth tried to quiet himself as quickly as he could. There was no way he could be louder without letting his brothers know that he was at least crying in the bathroom.

“Choromatsu-niichan…” He sniffed feeling worse than he did just a few seconds ago. The sadness in his chest grew more. “Karamatsu-niichan, Jyushimatsu-niichan, Ichimatsu-niichan, Osomatsu-niichan…” Tears stained his pants a bit darker.

He should probably get out there now. It would be suspicious if he stayed in there for too long. Reluctantly, he stood up, feeling the air hit him, making him shiver even more. With a fuzzy head, he flushed the toilet, silently apologizing to his dad about the water bill. Todomatsu opened the door, ready to step out, and then he saw someone standing right in front of him.

“I-Ichimatsu-niichan..?” It’s been a while since Todomatsu had last talked to him alone. He attempted a smile, happy to see him, but even that proved to be difficult. His headache grew worse.

In turn, his brother gave him a smile that was just too wide. “Oh, Todomatsu!” He greeted. “Do you mind moving, I gotta use the toilet.” His voice sounded light and tense. Ichimatsu didn’t seem to notice his shivers, sweats, and hot breaths. The flush on his cheeks did seem darker, but the youngest had always had rosy cheeks.

At least he was still nice to him, somewhat. Todomatsu tried to hide his small disappointment from Ichimatsu not noticing that he was sick and not wanting to spend some time with him. The youngest nodded slowly, his head getting too dizzy from the simple movement. Like a scared mouse, he shuffled past his brother. The floor seemed like a better friend all of the sudden, and his eyes fluttered shut. He huffed out shallow breaths as if he couldn’t get enough air into his system.

“Todomatsu!” Hearing a loud thump behind him, Ichimatsu turned around to see his youngest brother on the floor, breathing heavily. With quick movements, he rushed down to check him. Todomatsu’s skin was sticky with sweat. Worriedly, he put a hand on his forehead to check his temperature.

He was burning up.

 

“Hmm..?” Todomatsu slowly opened his eyes to find himself in the futon. When did he get here? Someone was beside him, he realized. The damp cloth on his forehead was replaced with a new, colder one. “Ichimatsu-niichan..?” He hazily looked at his face and tried to sit up or get his head up at the very least.

“Shh… Don’t strain yourself.” Todomatsu complied to the words, feeling a hand caress his hair before withdrawing. His brother spoke, concern in his voice, “Why didn’t you tell anyone you were sick?”

“S-sorry...” He croaked out an apology. “I didn’t want to bother anyone…” He sniffed, allowing his tears to fall. “B-but even so, I still got you worried, niichan.” A loud sigh got him to shrink even further into the futon. He heard Ichimatsu shuffle and found him lying next to him. “Eh?”

“Just go to sleep,” Ichimatsu replied, a small smile on his lips.

“But won’t you get sick, niichan?” He fidgeted with the blanket between his fingers.

“... I think it’ll be fine.” his voice softened to a whisper. “Now, rest up… You had us all worried sick about you.”

A yawn escaped from Todomatsu. “Everyone was… worried..?”

“Mhmm, so you gotta get better fast.”

Todomatsu lazily nodded. His eyes were getting droopy. “Alright…” He agreed. “Thank you, Ichimatsu-niichan…”

Chapter Text

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...

 

Osomatsu stared out the window, lost in his thoughts. In his hand, he fiddled carefully with two red zinnias. It was an unusual sight, for he usually would have been out to a pachinko parlor or the horse races, or he usually would have been reading a comic (or porno), fapping off (alone of course), or spending his time doing something unproductive for an adult. He slumped over, allowing his limbs to go limp. A heavy feeling of fatigue flew over him. He didn't feel as optimistic as he usually would.

 

The image of him on the bed. His body shaking sporadically. He wasn't wearing any pink. Matsuyo had told them to stay away as she took care of any nearby object. In his mind he counted the slow seconds that ticked by.

 

...30, 31, 32, 33...

 

"Osomatsu-niisan, it's time to go." Jyushimatsu was quieter, calmer than he usually would be. Not that Osomatsu minded nor paid any extra attention to. He needed the minimum volume anyways. To keep himself composed.

 

He bore not reply to his brother, instead choosing to just get up, his red flower in hand. He followed Jyushimatsu downstairs where the rest of his family was, dressed in black. They each had their own flowers in hand, a custom that only they did.

 

They went to the grave with an abundance of silence. The mood wasn't quite grim, but the air of melancholy was definitely present. They all felt gray, and to a much lighter degree, white. They didn't feel pink. The youngest of them were picking up the litter around and plucking away weeds around the grave. The sound of scrubbing, as they all cleaned the stone, filled their ears.

 

...84, 85, 86, 87 88, 89... 

 

They had called the doctor immediately after. Each had to remain calm, but they were nervous. Ichimatsu had left the room, looking shaken up. Jyushimatsu followed after him, waving around his long sleeves. Choromatsu was trying to keep from crying. He could tell from the strained upturn of his lips and his tense posture. Karamatsu was still. He had a serious look on his face as he checked on Todomatsu.

 

"Okay, your flowers," Osomatsu asked his family after they were done with their cleaning He had already had his in the built-in vase. One by one, the flowers came in the color order they had all set. Two orange tulips from Matsuzou was given. A yellow begonia from Jyushimatsu, partnered with a few dandelions probably plucked from the ground a couple minutes ago. Choromatsu handed him a green dahlia. A bright blue morning glory and a couple forget-me-nots from Karamatsu. Ichimatsu hastily handed him a violet iris. Last but not least, his mom came with a single white chrysanthemum.

 

It was an ugly bouquet when he put it all together and arranged it (with Karamatsu's help) in the stone vase.The variety of flowers didn't quite show off an appeal, but they were a family who didn't have appeal themselves. In a way, it was perfect. A rainbow array of colors that represented their family. There was no pink flower in the bundle.

 

...117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122…

 

With little hesitation, Matsuyo placed a box of imagawayaki on his grave. There were three pieces. Three to give peace. They all enjoyed the snack after all. Soon after, the smell of incense burning arose in the air, carried by the wind. They all clapped their hands together and prayed. Saying their thanks, reminiscing on memories, and respecting his once life.

 

...297, 298, 299, 300

 

The rainbow doesn't have the color pink.

Chapter Text

Pure white fluttered down the frosty air. A fresh sheet of brightness covered the vast terrain that made everything look conformed. It was cold and snow was hugging onto any surface it could grab a hold of. In contrary to the temperature outside, the warmth that radiated from the kerosene and their bodies toasted the air. The overall air was peaceful, somehow, especially for Todomatsu, who was currently enjoying his time in the futon.

 

He was sick, which was terrible of course but also wonderful at the same time because none of his brothers would dare come close to him in fear of catching the cold themselves. The left him comfortable in his futon. Though Jyushimatsu was on the other side of the futon, practically beside him with all the layers he had on. The blanket was covering them both. He could feel the envious stares of his brothers even with his eyes closed. A bowl of eaten soup was beside him, given from Matsuyo earlier for him and only him.

 

Just as he was about to sigh and sink lower into the futon, the door opened. "'Kay, here's your hot chocolate boys," Matsuyo's voice announced as she brought in cups of the sweet smelling drink.

 

'Wait- hot chocolate?' Todomatsu's eyes shot open as he tilted his head up to see 5 streaming cups. For a second, the youngest looked back to the space beside him, finding it empty. Then he turned back to look at the kotatsu. Jyushimatsu was already at the kotatsu with a giant smile on his face. 'That was fast!' Todomatsu thought with a shocked expression on his face.

 

"Hot chocolate~!" A chorus of 5 voices cheered with an additional "thank you, mommy" from Karamatsu. They all had joy on their faces as if they had all received chocolates on valentines day. Except, instead of a smug type of joy that was intended to show off to all of the brothers, it was a smug joy that was specifically aimed at him.

 

'These bastards are totally rubbing it in my face! Shitty older brothers!' He grit his teeth as they all sipped their hot chocolate in sync. From his spot he could see the whip cream that had stuck onto their faces, looking like a poor mustache. That only served to make him more irritated. 'No way!'

 

'Heh, I bet you're suuuuper jealous, Todomatsu!' Osomatsu gave him a giant, arrogant grin. His eyebrows were upturned. The rest of his brothers were also staring at him with an air of satisfaction. To be even more irritating, Ichimatsu had even begun to slowly sluuurrp his drink.

 

And Todomatsu, in his little space of sickness, only cursed at them until they all got sick.

Chapter Text

Everyone knows that Jyushimatsu was an oddball, even for their small group of 6. There were many, many things about Jyushimatsu that the world just simply did not know about. Nor did any of his brother want to question his weirdness. They more or less just accepted his oddness. There were, however, the very few times where his anomalies were freaky, like really terrifying, and that was why Todomatsu was currently avoiding the house.

 

The medical mask he had borrowed (read: stole) from Ichimatsu rested on his face as he browsed through his phone. It was rather chilly in the park, but he had a sweater on, luckily. When he first found out that they had all gotten sick, the first thing he did was force himself to get out of the house. He remembered the last time they had all gotten sick and Jyushimatsu had multiplied…

 

Just thinking of it sent shivers down his spine if not the cold that did so. Todomatsu looked at the time. It was now approximately one hour since he fled from his germ-infested brothers, not that he was faring any better. Perhaps he should get some drinks while he's out. Or eat nice hot soup. God knows he needs the warmth he can get.

 

Feeling settled on his decisions, he walked to the closest ramen shop. Cheap, delicious, and definitely in the mood for some. The walk was further than it would be if he had just gone to get some oden from Chibita, but he didn't mind. Moreover, it was less likely that he would find someone he knew. He bought a ticket quickly, and, stuffing his hands into his pockets, he entered the warm building. He was glad that there weren't many people lined up.

 

"Totty!"

Oh no. Todomatsu immediately turned on his heel and attempted to walk away. Why the heck was he here?! "AAAAHH-" The face of his direct older brother appeared in front of him suddenly, startling him back. His knees shook once his spirit had came back to him. A hand came to grab his shoulder, and Todomatsu was promptly spun to face his brother, again. Wasn’t he in front of him before?!

 

"I've come to cure you!" Jyushimatsu happily declares with his usual wide smile.

 

"N-no! I'm fine, Jyushimatsu-niisan!" The younger replied nervously in a higher pitched voice while waving his hands. Despite the medical mask on his face, Todomatsu smiled as if to reassure him that he was alright. "B-besides! The others are still sick, aren't they?" They had to be, otherwise he would have noticed them all come in with Jyushimatsu to harass him.

 

His brother tilted his head. "Nope! They're all right there; I cured them all already!" He let out a hearty laugh after pointing to the counter in the ramen shop.

 

"Eh..?" His head turned to see all 4 of his brothers chatting and yelling with big Jyushi-grins on their faces. "EEHH!?"

 

"Now, let's go! Hup-!" Jyushimatsu hopped up and started his mitosis. His body parted into two. Four. Eight… and so on and so forth.

 

"W-w-w-wait a moment, Jyushimatsu-niisan!!" Todomatsu shook his head and backed away from his brother, sweating profusely. He didn't stop. The multiplication continued. Eyes went to scan the place surrounding him. "WHY ISN'T ANYONE DOING ANYTHING!" It seemed as if the whole world was ignoring what was going on. The many people in the shop took one glance at the situation and continued on with their ramen. That left the youngest with only one option left.

 

Run.

 

"Totty!" Too bad for him because his other brothers were all already lined up at the exit. As much as he would love to attempt to maneuver around them, Todomatsu was still sick first and foremost. And of course, we all know he didn't get proper rest or even his soup. So quickly, he was downed by the millions of tiny Jyushimatsu that crawled onto him.

 

"AAAAAHHHHHH…!"

Chapter Text

In the dim room, there lay a boy in a futon, looking no older than a middle schooler. A thick blanket covered his heating body, building more warmth. His hair stuck to his cheeks from the sweat that accumulated on his skin. A damp cloth that was now room temperature rested on his forehead to cool him. His breath came out in huffs as he tried to reach the hand of sleep with little success. The discomfort that came with sickness had a firm grasp on his nerves. A bit surprisingly, he felt the cloth get removed from his forehead as the sound of dripping water next to his head stirred him from his hazy state, and he cracked an eye open to look at the person. His vision was blurred with hot tears and handicapped from the sheer darkness of the room.

 

“Karamatsu-niichan..?” He guessed, unable to identify which of his brothers it was. Todomatsu’s voice was barely over a whisper. His brother, whichever one it was, didn’t reply but set the cooler cloth on his forehead. A hand gently mussed his wet hair, causing him to slightly whine but nothing more. “You’re not supposed to stay near me for long,” he managed to murmur to his anonymous brother. “Or else-” he sneezed- “you’ll get sick…”

 

“It’s fine.” Came the rough voice of Jyushimatsu that was hushed into an almost whisper.. “I won’t get sick.” He couldn’t bring himself to deny his brother’s words, wanting to trust him and wanting some company after a lonely day of being stuck in the room with a fever. The blanket was lifted for a moment, allowing his hot skin to feel the chill of the air. Todomatsu felt Jyushimatsu lay next to him. Calloused fingers went to intertwine themselves in his smaller ones. An air of peaceful silence arrived over the two as they both lay comfortably.

 

“...Niichan?”

 

“Nn?”

 

“Will I get better soon?” Todomatsu sniffed.He had been sick for three straight days now. His hope of getting better was dwindling down with each day. His illness had gone on for so long that it worried his parents and brothers alike. So much so that he had been practically quarantined in the room. It was lonely being by himself with only a few visits just to give him medicine, soup, or change out the cloth.

 

“...” There was a small pause and Todomatsu hold onto hope faltered for a bit. “Pshh! You’re gonna get better by tomorrow morning!” His brother replied like he was scolding him for thinking of giving up. The tone of his voice got softer. “I’ll make sure of it.”

 

His hand was lightly squeezed as he nodded with a smile despite his brother being unable to see it. “Okay… I trust you, Jyushimatsu-niichan.”

 

And what do you know? When the sun arose the next morning, Todomatsu found that his brother was right.

Chapter Text

Atsushi thought Todomastu was like a painting. There were million colors upon his skin, flawed but perfect in everyway. It ranged from his pale visage in the winter’s crisp air to the rosy hues that sometimes flattered themselves on his cheeks were. His eyes glowed different hues in the light. At times, he saw them to be a bright amber that quickly shifted to a dark mahogany. His personality was a giant palette of mixed colors. All that he expressed so clearly on his face.

 

Each visible stroke was like a memory and apart of his history. Everything starts with the first paint. A stroke of grey on the blank canvas of white when he first met him in high school. An irrelevant character among his brothers. The shades that all merged like nothing. But the more Atsushi got to know the brothers, the more saturated they all seemed to be.

 

A pale pink flicked itself onto the mono colors. His attention drawn to the brother as they all seemed to diverge themselves from one another. It was cute to see him. He was really different from when he first saw him. Dependent on his brother, shy around others, and super sensitive. They never hung out much during that time, especially since Todomatsu always followed behind Choromatsu like a baby chick.

 

A bundle of colors followed after graduation. The more he saw him, the more he wanted to be with him. They hung out like friends. He noticed that he would always wear a hat. Atsushi never asked about it, and Todomatsu never bothered to explain, instead choosing to flatter the people around him. The man found it funny to see him act this way, but was content with the situation nonetheless. He enjoyed their time together, finding their small talks like dabs of paint that littered the canvas so freely. The brush moved up spread more colors on the edges.

 

The dry brushes of paint that crashed onto the canvas were rushed with a worry. The pain and panic that came with the news of the illness. One part of the hidden secrets that Todomatsu never told. The treatment was vigorous and left him weak. Atsushi wasn't family, first and foremost, so he could only visit him a couple times. Each time, he savoured the colors and held onto the belief that they wouldn't fade from the rustic, pale walls. He tried to do as much as he could to help. Donating to the cause and doing as much research on his friend, and he wondered for the longest time why he cared so damn much.

 

Broad brushes of black against the colors caught his vision. He remembers tears and asking about it. Todomatsu was crying but acting so calm. It was as if he wasn't the one going to surgery. He was scared. Atsushi could tell from the way his hands shook in his own. Soon, the sweet pink warmth of his hands was quickly gone when he had to leave.

 

Atsushi touched the canvas, feeling the bumpy ridges of the dried paint act against his fingertips. He took caution to not touch the freshly applied paint. His dirty paint brushes were all cluttered in a single cup  put off to the side. He looked at the painting with pride, a smile laced with melancholy pried its way to his lips. It depicted a man who sat with his eyes closed. Colors all blended to form abstract highlights and shadows, and each stroke looked to bind the values together. The most prominent was the hues of pink that offered itself.

 

Atsushi, in that moment, knows Todomatsu was a painting.

Chapter Text

Todomatsu's favourite color was pink. He loved it.

 

It was cute, bright, and really eye catching. He enjoyed the color, much like his brothers liked their own respective colors. It gave him a sense of identity. He was the youngest, so naturally he was the cutest of his brothers. Pink suited him the best.

 

He adored the color on many things ranging from cute pens to large sweaters. He found it especially nice when pink flowers were within his sights, so you could probably guess that he loved Hanami. All the petals looked soft and tranquil, and even though his brothers were all annoying during the time, he found enjoyment in their chaotic antics that contrasted with the peace of the cherry blossoms.

 

Pink was the color of love, of course. Another reason why he simply loved the color. He knew his cheeks would take on the sweet hue around him, and he knew that the color pink was simple intimacy in its purest form. The love that he adored so much came in the form of pink petals.

 

He wanted to keep it, to love the pink manifestation of his love. And he did.

 

Todomatsu, despite the pain, cherished the love that grew inside him because he couldn't forget the feelings and memories. They were precious to him. He knew the risks of keeping it. He's heard every word and rumour about the disease that affected the few unfortunate individuals. A flower that grew in your lungs with vines that would cling and sap the life out of your chest.

 

Just the mere thought of him sent his heart fluttering. An itchy feeling came, and the man lurched forwards, coughing out a copious amount of petals. They fluttered down from his tongue, dry and flawless. Pink and bright, emulating the falling petals on Hanami. Todomatsu wiped away the tears in his eyes and went to clean the mess of petals. Each one was soft and dry to the touch, and he always found it curious that they were so. He had already identified what type of flower that was growing in his chest.

 

Cherry blossoms. As cliche as it was, that was what it was. Though it wouldn't make much sense for a flower that budded on trees to bloom in his chest, Todomatsu knew that Hanahaki flowers always had vines and special logic that made them so unique and equally dangerous. As he dropped the petals into the rubbish bin, a thought crossed his mind. He wondered if he could go on like this; loving someone he knew he couldn't love. But deep in his heart, he would not let his feelings go. He would bear it a little longer, the ache of longing and the disease. Another itch crept into his chest from the thought of his unrequited love. Feeling a plethora of petals start to suffocate his esophagus, he coughed into the bin.

 

The coughs grew harsher the with seconds. It sounded worse and the feel of the petals were stickier, much heavier than before. When Todomatsu opened his eyes, he saw red scattered among the cherry blossom petals. With a wheeze, he covered his eyes and leaned against the wall. A small pink flower flee out from his lips and landed on his lap. Todomatsu verted his attention to the cherry blossom with glazed eyes.

 

He wondered why it hurt to see his favourite color.

Chapter Text

"I don't wanna, niichan…" Todomatsu murmured underneath the covers. His head shook back and forth underneath the covers. A laziness overtook him, masking the dread and distaste he held for medicine. Osomatsu only chuckled and gently tried to pry the blanket from his hands to which the small child whined and kicked his legs. "I already had some earlier…" By earlier, Todomatsu meant 5 hours ago when Osomatsu woke up.

 

"C'mon Todomatsu, you have to take it," his older brother cooed. He got another shake of the head. "You want to get better, don't you?"

 

At those words, there was no response from the younger child. A few seconds passed before Todomatsu finally uncovered his face. With a defeated pout, the younger sat up. "Alright…"

 

"Alright!" Osomatsu cheered and patted his head before opening the medicine. He scooped a spoonful of the bittersweet syrup and held it towards Todomatsu.

 

With hesitant movements, the younger took the medicine, careful not to spill any of it. He quickly stuck it inside his mouth and swallowed the thick liquid; the sickly taste of the cherry syrup coated his tongue uncomfortably. A noise of disgust sounded from him as his eyes squeezed shut. His small hands went to reach out to his older brother, a silent plea for some water. The feel of the cup in his hands came almost immediately and he sipped the water after taking 2 gulps to wash down the taste.

 

"You're doing amazing, Todomatsu." Osomatsu's hand had come back to pat his back reassuringly. "Look at you! You're gonna get better in no time!" He cooed, his other hand coming to give his little brother a thumbs up.

 

The younger let out a shy smile as he pushed his empty cup to his brother. "Mhm…" he agreed, feeling a bit giddy from the praise. A surge of pride swelled in his chest "Thank you… Osomatsu-niisan…"

 

Said man brought him in for a hug. "Aaahaha! My baby brother is so cute!" The eldest rubbed Todomatsu's head lovingly. There was a giant grin on his face. As for the younger, he was smiling as well, enjoying the affection.

 

A quiet yawn had Osomatsu stop his small moment of fawning. He looked at his brother to see his eyes slowly droop down and flutter back up.

 

"Are you tired, Todomatsu?"

 

"Nnnn… a little bit," he replied, rubbing his eye. He let out another yawn. Osomatsu stifled a laugh and moved to get off the covers. He felt a small tug on his shirt from Todomatsu. "I don't want you to leave, yet…"

 

A chuckle flew from his lips. "I'm not gonna go anywhere." The hand on his shirt gripped even tighter.

 

"Don't go," Todomatsu said stubbornly with a pout.

 

"I'm not!" He raised his hands up in surrender while his younger brother stared at his face. A few seconds passed before the hand finally let him free. Osomatsu quickly readjusted his position and put an arm around his brother. With practiced movements, he slowly petted his brother's back and hummed a small tune.

 

Todomatsu's breathing slowed and he closed his eyes, listening to the soft melody that allured his conscious deeper into sleep. He snuggled closer to his older brother's chest, clutching his red shirt with fists.

 

Once Osomatsu was sure he was asleep, he stopped humming and lightly pressed his lips to Todomatsu's temple. "Good night, Todomatsu…"

Chapter Text

A ray of light shone through the frozen crystal of the dew. Apples, red and bright against the white scenery hung from the ebony branches that were frosted with snow while glassy layer of ice encased the saturated skin. Todomatsu took a bit of time to pause and admire the way the fruit sparkled under the white sun. He held his hood closer to his body as a pathetic attempt to keep himself warmer. Over the snow, the sight of the world met his sight. Tiny villages and small trees all bundled together on the far away land.

 

“Hey, you guys going to Mt. Pomme, right? Take me with you.” Five pairs of eyes stared at him, glaringly in obvious curiosity and surprise.

It was unusual to straight-up ask a group if they could take you to your destination. Many usually just asked for assistance by posting a notice on a guildboard, but since Todomatsu didn’t have time at the moment, he had to ask people if they were willing to escort him.

His patience was wearing thin as the five men seemed to have been frozen in time, still gaping like fish out of water. “Well..?” 

The first to move had been the one in green. He cleared his throat and regained his composure. “I don’t think we can, sorry.” The man eyed him slowly before practically insulting him, “Besides, you don’t look cut out to do anything...”

“Mhm! No one wants any deadweight!” The one in red agreed, resting his arm on the green’s shoulders. “We’re not bringing along anyone who can’t even defend themselves.” He let out a sigh before pointing to the man in green. “We have enough problems on our hands with Cherryroski here.”

“Me?! You’re the one who’s the most problematic in this group! Without me, you would-”

“I can defend myself plenty!” Todomatsu interjected, interrupting the argument that would have probably caused a bar fight to break out.

A low voice resonated. “But can you fight?” A man, dressed in purple, sneered at him, looking at him with a blank stare. Beside him, someone dressed in yellow nodded along to his words. The fastest route to Mt. Pomme was full of danger and not to mention the altitude and cold temperatures of the mountain itself.

“I-” he paused, hesitating and looking at the design that decorated the wooden counter- “No, but-”

“See? There’s no point in bringing him along-”

“I can do magic!”

There was silence.

Magic users were rare, so rare that the whole world praised them. Many magic users could be hired for a high, high price for just about anything. They were pampered, trained, and highly valued. Those who were skilled in healing or offensive or even defensive magic were always highly demanded by nearly everyone.

“Well why didn’t you say so earlier?!” The one in red piped up again before patting his back joyfully. “Aww man, this changes everything! We don’t have to hire a magic user anymore!”

“Like we were going to hire one in the first place. We all spent our money in this shitty bar instead of doing that…”

“Ahaha! That’s right, Ichi!”

The man in red ignored the comment and continued to talk, “Well the, welcome to the team! I’m Oso, the leader of this band of bastards!”

“I’m Choro,” the one in green piped up. “Don’t listen to anything that Oso says. He’s a shitty leader.”

“Ichi.”

“My name’s Jyushi!”

“I am… Kara! Heh, remember the name well.”

Todomatsu blinked, taking time to look at the dynamic group. They were a funny bunch, but he supposed he could work with this. Any people to get him to Mt. Pomme was better than none. He put on his best smile. “I’m Todomatsu. Nice to meet you!”

 

“Are you okay?” He felt a hand on his shoulder. Todomatsu huffed out a wispy, white breath. His hand nodded in a white lie of reassurance. “You sure? You’re shivering.” Those words were what made him realized that he was indeed trembling. He rubbed his arms to build up a bit of heat, feeling goosebumps on his skin.

“It’s nothing,” Todomatsu murmured. “We’re close to the church anyways…” He tore his gaze away from the view and moved a bit further up, allowing the hand to fall from his shoulder.

He didn’t notice the worried look that Oso sent him. Or was it that he ignored it?

 

“Waahooo! We’re gonna have a feast!” Oso cheered, slinging his sword into its sheath. Choro nodded in agreement, commenting on how it was better than the last meal they hunted.

“We’re gonna eat it!?” Todomatsu panted, sweat beading down his cheeks as the wildebeast collapsed. His magic was completely drained, making him fatigued. Not so mention the ache in his chest that contributed to his exhaustion. He seemed like the only one really tired out as the others were all energetic as they usually were. Funny how only a few seconds earlier, Ichi was in the same state as him: exhausted.

“Ah, right. I forgot you’re kinda new to this…” Choro muttered. “Adventurers usually have to make their own meals since most of the time there aren’t any towns close by. There’s a lot more to it, so if you wanna know, you’ll have to study at an adventurer’s guild.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, but I doubt I’ll have time for that.”

“Hmm? Why is that- Oh. Right. Mt. Pomme.” Choro clicked his tongue as Todomatsu smiled. He had totally forgotten. Todomatsu was going to Mt. Pomme for something really important, especially seeing as how he was a magic user and all. Their group just needed to go and get some materials and an item for a job. There was no doubt that he’ll be there for years considering the reputation Mt. Pomme had its number of magic users. “W-well how about after you do what it is you need to do at Mt. Pomme, we’ll take you to an adventurer’s guild where you can learn all you want!”

“I’d like that…”

A loud shout of glee had Todomatsu turn his attention towards Jyushi who was about to smash the wildebeast’s corpse with his giant mallet.

“Oi, oi. I gotta cut it up first, Jyushi.” Ichi pulled the energetic man away for a bit, holding his dagger up. He had a menacing glint in his eyes. With a big grin, he dug the blade into the wildebeast. Each piece he cut as thrown to the side where Jyushi pounded the meat until it was tender.

“H-hey… Isn’t that a bit scary?” Todomatsu asked, watching Ichimatsu cut up the flesh.

“Heh… Yes. Yes it is,” Kara replied, “but it’s always been like this, so we just got used to it! Hahaha!” He was wearing an apron, and in his hands was a bowl while he walked to the duo who were currently being scary. “Now! Time for me to make a delicious meal for all mes amis !”

 

Sparks of magic was in the air. He could feel it. He was sure the others couldn't though, and he was slightly glad for it. His head got heavier as the magic swirled around him. It felt like the energy was being sapped from him with each step he took. Not to mention he knew the air was getting thin. He quietly took deeper, slower breaths, feeling the cold air enter into his lungs. Jyushi was ahead of the crowd, as always while Ichi covered the back. Todomatsu noticed his pace was slowing as the pressure around his head grew.

"Oi," Ichi's gruff voice greeted him suddenly. Did he really slow down so much that Ichi had caught up to him? He hadn't even noticed the others rushing past him. "Are you alright?"

"Ah, sorry Ichi. I'm fine," he reassured.

"Like hell you are." Ichi grabbed his arm and slung it over his shoulder before continuing to walk with him. "What a pain…"

 

Music flooded the streets as the roar of laughter, singing, and clapping got louder. Curiously, he rushed towards the plaza around the corner. The sight of people dancing and playing instruments met his eyes. He had never seen so much joy circulating in one place. Everyone looked like they were having fun.

“Sweet! I totally forgot that this town celebrated the Festival des Cendres!” Oso came up beside him  “Come on! Let’s party!” He started to go towards the 

“O-oi! We’re supposed to be heading to Mt. Pomme, not celebrating!"

"Boooooo! Party pooper!"

"You're no fun, Cherryroski… Why can't we just take a break once in a while?"

"We just took one-"

"It'll be fun! Besides, Todomatsu wants to have fun at the festival as well, right Todomatsu?"

Said man nodded with a sort of eagerness. He was excited to see what a festival was like. "I haven't been to one before." All of the sudden, eyes were on him again along with agape mouths that vaguely reminded him of when they first met.

"Well then, it seems that we shall be the first ones to show you le vrai beauté of the Festival de Cendres!" Kara brushed away his bangs dramatically before holding out his hand towards Todomatsu. "Come now, Todomatsu, and let us all celebrate the occasion!"

He took his hand and felt himself get dragged into the crowd. People were surrounding a circle of dancers. Spinning, hopping, and laughing, people looked full of mirth.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jyushi lugging along Ichi towards the flower wreaths, and he saw Oso and Choro walk around the food stands. Choro more so preventing the former from buying every snack from every stand.

"Shall we dance?" He turned his attention to Kara who was looking at him with a debonair expression. Todomatsu stifled a laugh and nodded, accompanying the man into the dance circle. He stumbled with the steps but slowly got used to the rhythm and hops.

 

“We’re here!”

They arrived at the church soon. Todomatsu slowly started to unravel himself from Ichi’s grasp and walk faster towards the building. His walking was wobbly and he nearly tripped.

“Ah, Todomatsu, be careful!” Kara followed him and held onto his shoulders. “I get that you’re excited but don’t get yourself hurt… You’re burning up!” His cold hands pressed against Todomatsu’s flushed face before he rushed the man inside the church building.

Whispers and shouts sounded as people surrounded him and the others who had followed. “Todomatsu is here!” Hands came to grab the man from Kara. A group of nuns carried the magic user out of the room.

“Will Todomatsu be alright?” Jyushi piped up, worried for him.

A man, pastor, with brown hair smiled. “Yes, he will be alright. We were afraid that he wouldn’t be here on time for the ceremony! Thanks to you,he got here safely.”

“It was nothing!” Oso waved a hand, flattered at the appreciation. “We just did what anyone would have done.”

The people offered them a reward and offered the group to stay for the celebration. A special hospitality from the church itself, they said before disappearing to who knows where. With little haste the group when exploring the church. The building was a giant one, looking more like a castle than a church. People chatted about and exchanged goods just like a town would. It was weird, but fascinating to the group.

But there was one thought that had all crossed their mind. Exactly what ceremony and celebration were they talking about?

 

He felt hot, like his skin was burning. The nuns quickly changed his clothes and sat him up. Todomatsu felt fear and regret bloom in his chest where the ache was still gnawing at him. He had to do this. There was no backing down now. He was lifted up and escorted to the altar, where the giant tree stood above the rest of the world. Its gnarled roots hugged the stone and crawled across the floor.

He hung his head, not having the energy to lift it up. Muffled words passed from one ear to another and he was handed a single red apple. More words continued to be chanted while he turned towards the tree and held up the fruit. Brown eyes gazed up at the giant apple tree that signified the life of the world.

A loud bang resounded and echoed off the walls along with yells of his name. Todomatsu ignored it, knowing that he must continue on with the ceremony, and brought the fruit down to his lips. The ache hugged his insides, getting stronger while his head only felt heavier. His eyes closed and in his mind, he envisioned his last view of the earth from the peak of the mountain.

Chapter Text

So here he was, out on the field. Apparently a patient’s powers went haywire due to a rare disease, and now the hospital was partially destroyed despite the reinforcement on the building--due to it being a hospital for Intracians.

 

Todomatsu was with his brothers, gathering information from one of the officials that had assessed the situation. It was only Karamatsu, Choromatsu, and him here at the site as they had the powers that were necessary to this case. Karamatsu was to help with detaining the patient, knocking him out if the situation needed it while Choromatsu was here to help control the destruction. Todomatsu had the very exciting job of rewinding in case anything went too terribly wrong.

 

“Hey! You’re not supposed to be over there!” A voice sounded in a cry. Todomatsu looked over just in time to see a woman in a hospital gown running towards his direction. However, despite the timing, he could not move his body out of the way in time as the girl tackled him down. With the force of gravity, he hit the pavement, and pain flew straight into his body. He wanted to cry from the pain alone.

 

On top of him, the girl sobbed, muttering about pain and the core. He laid there, frozen and unsure of what to make of her words.

 

It was only a few seconds before someone got her off of him and helped him up. She quieted down as soon as she was off of him, making no further sound. He politely thanked the person who helped him up with a charming smile, rubbing his head and bottom that had gotten the brunt of the damage. One glance at her limp body showed that she was unconscious or, even worse, dead. He shook the thought from his head; he didn’t want to think about that possibility. Upon a better look at her, Todomatsu noticed that nearly every inch of her skin was covered in a bronze rash. Judging from that and the fact that she was wearing a hospital gown, he concluded that she must’ve escaped from her room during the initial incident. Poor girl must’ve been terrified, he thought to himself.

 

A tingle spread across the skin of his right arm, and he curiously patted down his sleeve. Shrugging, he brushed it off as a passing nerve due to his fall and reassured everyone that he was alright and didn’t need any extra medical assistance. (Despite that, he still got helped by an Intracian who had healing abilities.)

 

Time passed with no further incidents aside from a minor one--the patient had accidentally injured Karamatsu as he was about to stun him, so he rewinded and warned his brother immediately. He and Karamatsu were dismissed from the scene with no further tasks. They both accompanied each other on the way home, having nothing to do anyways since they were NEETs. Todomatsu pondered about what he was going to put in his report of the incident. He’d definitely have to add the incident with the girl in his report.

 

He felt a jolt on his back, and his mind went blank. Abruptly, he stopped walking, as if his whole body had shut down. Maybe his all senses had nulled within that moment as Karamatsu seemed to be shaking his shoulders in worry before he even knew it.

 

"Tokki, are you alright?" He asked.

 

The usual glamour in his speech was gone, leaving him sounding like a normal person would. It would be an oddity for him if not for the fact that he usually lost his cool and painful demeanor whenever any of them--except Osomatsu--were hurt or not looking too healthy.

 

Todomatsu placed a hand on one of his brother's arms and steadied himself. A minor migraine has implanted itself into his head, rooting his brain with some aches and pain. "I'm fine, Karamatsu-niisan," he reassured, just like he did earlier after getting tackled.

 

"Are you really sure? I wouldn't want you falling over sick, especially since many need your powers on such dire notice in many cases. No matter the ailment, I can retrieve some medication for you with haste."

 

"It's not that bad; probably just an after effect from falling backwards..." There was an untruth in those words that neither of them addressed. Afterall, he did get healed by a medically trained Intracian, so there should be virtually nothing wrong with him afterwards, given that there was no disturbance during the process. “It’ll pass soon anyways, and besides, we have some headache relievers at home, so you don’t have to get anything,” he added shortly after.

 

“I’ll trust your word on it, Tokki.”

 

The rest of the way home continued without anymore touch on the subject. Todomatsu thought more about the peculiar incident though, not really knowing what had caused it. He never really had any medical problems. It was a strange sensation as well. Everything had felt numb, and while he was still conscious and able to see, it was like his mind couldn’t process anything around him. Shivering slightly, he hoped to never be in that situation again. Especially when he's at a site or on a dire call.

 

It was later in the week when he had felt something weird again. He was fiddling around with his phone. Sometime during his browsing. Karamatsu had asked about his well-being, to which he replied saying that he was absolutely fine and that nothing had happened. Todomatsu wished he'e just let the small incident go.

 

Choromatsu entered the room after having been called out to do some extra help with hospital clean up. No one had acknowledged his return with much interest, not that they did for any other brother aside from Osomatsu. Todomatsu figured he stopped by the library to do his report as Choromatsu immediately when to chastise them for doing nothing and then to reading his novela after Osomatsu had gotten to be too annoying for him.

 

Soon enough, he grew more disinterested in the memes and same blogs that had shown up on his feed--looking around on social media can only satiate boredom for a moment after all. Sighing out, he casually tossed his phone onto the cushion beside him and laid his head on the armrest.

 

“I’m so bored~" he drawled out, mainly to garner attention from his brothers who were still in the room.

 

“Then go get a job or something,” Choromatsu said, not looking away from his book. He took a potato chip and ate it.

 

“As if you have any right to say that to me, Choromatsu-niisan,” Todomatsu hummed in response, knowing full-well that his words would bring some entertainment to cure his boredom for a moment. “You don’t have a job either. Plus, I've had a part-time job before.”

 

With those words, the third eldest looked away from his novela with a red-faced temper. “Shut up, at least I’m trying !” He sputtered out in the heat of his anger.

 

"Trying is not good enough if you aren't getting anything done though."

 

"But I am -"

 

"Tokki's got a point," Osomatsu commented on the side, cutting Choromatsu's sentence off prematurely. "You tell us all to get jobs, but don't even have one yourself, and you got him to lose his job too. I guess you're just all talk no action, eh?" A hefty laugh erupted from his mouth after those words.

 

Todomatsu saw the eldest snag away the bag of chips that Chorormatsu was eating and inwardly chuckled. "As for me… I do earn this family money!" He smugly stated before tossing a couple chips in his mouth.

 

The third eldest bit back at Osomatsu, successfully heating up the conversation into a full blown argument. They barked out their opinions, neither really having any validity in their words. In due time, Choromatsu had used his telekinesis to nab his chips back, causing more bickering from Osomatsu complaining that he was hungry.

 

Todomatsu felt he could've chimed in and joined the argument, except for the fact that he couldn't bring himself to focus. A muffled voice, sounding far off, uttered his name. Desperately, he frowned and blinked, trying to get a hold of himself. He moved his hands with much effort towards the person in front of him. Or at least, he thought there was someone in front of him.

 

He was brought back with his full senses as soon as a hand wrapped itself around his wrist. Unfortunately, it came with a major headache. Todomatsu blinked and stared at Osomatsu. His brother's face was one of deep concern. A droplet of warm liquid trickled down from his nose and onto his clothes.

 

"Your nose is bleeding!"

 

"Huh?" He pressed a couple fingers to his nostrils and brought up for himself to see. They were covered in red. "Ah…" He said hazily, staring at the contrast between his skin and the blood and then to Osomatsu who looked fixated on him.

 

"T-tissue!" Choromatsu's voice resounded as he brought a box of tissues. Osomatsu moved out of the way seemingly for him. Hastily, the third eldest grabbed a couple tissured and handed it to Todomatsu. "Hurry up!"

 

Almost lethargically, Todomatsu wiped the blood from his face and plugged his nose to maintain the nosebleed. Karamatsu had brought a cup of water and some migraine relievers. He thanked his brother and took the pills, pursing his lips after he had swallowed it.

 

"It happened again, Tokki," Karamatsu began in a low voice, probably just loud enough for Osomatsu and Choromatsu to hear, "Maybe it's time you see a hospital. You could have caught something, a weird disease or something, during the incident." The worry that laced his tongue filled the air with each word that was spoken.

 

"I'm fine, Karamtsu-niisan. I don't need to see the doctor right away." Todomatsu couldn't bring himself to believe that he had an illness, and sure, perhaps there was some merit to his brother's words, but he was sure he was fine.

 

"But Tokki-!"

 

"Look, I can appoint a doctor's appointment soon, but I'm pretty sure with the recent destruction of the hospital, people are gonna be busy with other patients, transfering the paperwork, and all that jazz."

 

Karamatsu looked ready to object again.

 

"Actually, that might be the best option for now," Choromatsu piped in. "Since I was at the building earlier, I know that they're really busy, so going now would probably slow them down even more and not even get you an appointment especially since it's not a major emergency."

 

"I guess that makes sense…"

 

"Here, I'll make an appointment for next week right now so you don't panic." Todomatsu reached into his pocket for his phone, only to be surprised when he felt nothing.

 

"What's wrong?"

 

He didn't reply, too worried about another thing. A bit panicky, he patted himself down and sat up, checking the couch for his phone. "Where's my phone!"

 

Karamatsu and Choromatsu simultaneously shrugged, both denying to have even touched his phone today. He huffed, a fluttering panic frenzied in his chest as he stood up. It wasn't like he couldn't live without his phone, but it did have some important things on there that he needed--plus he had some shitty brothers that he lived with, and no matter how much he loved them, he wouldn't want to give them his phone.

 

"Aannd… done!" Eyes locked onto Osomatsu's figure. In the eldest's hands was a phone that had a pink phone case on it. "I just made the appointment, Tokki!" Osomatsu grinned as if he hadn't noticed Todomatsu's earlier panic.

 

"Karamatsu-niisan."

 

"With pleasure, my brother," Karamatsu replied, knowing exactly what it was that Todomatsu wanted him to do. The second-born swiftly took off his glasses and-

 

"Bang."

 

Osomatsu slumped over.