Even by his crazy educator standards, Todd had sent Rose to bed exceptionally early. Becca was still on her bed, reading some vampire fantasy novel while Luci was already fast asleep. They were off in their own little worlds and Rose was left staring at the ceiling from her squeaky air mattress. Each and every move she made caused the plastic bed to emit a noise akin to flatulence — and she was moving a lot.
She couldn't help it. Not only was the bed uncomfortable, but she couldn't move her thoughts away from being sent to bed early. Never in all of her time with the Richards had she been sent to bed, and Todd had been pointedly cryptic with her. What did he have to say to the boys that she couldn't be there for?
Probably some cliche father warning, she thought, turning over again with a huff. If only he knew.
As far as Rose was concerned, Hikaru and Kaoru were nothing to worry about. Those two boys were far too emotionally naive to ever pull anything and they were far too dependent on each other for one to move forward without the other. In addition, Hikaru was still caught up on some other girl. Beside that, Rose had never been interested in romantic feelings, and that certainly wouldn't change now. Not now that ... ah, no, she thought, I shouldn't be thinking about that.
The mattress groaned again as she threw herself face down into her pillow. Becca looked up from her book, annoyed, and let out a sigh before placing a school handout between the pages and setting it down on her nightstand.
"Do you have to move around so much," she asked, placing her ear buds in her ears before reaching out to turn off the lamp on the table and push herself beneath the covers of her bed.
Rose tried to hold back the sigh forming in her lungs. Becca was becoming quite the moody teenager, though with all things considered it could be expected. Not every kid who went through the foster system was "broken," but children just weren't made to withstand the hardships that so many in the system faced. Becca's moodiness could be a result of her pent up frustrations, or it could just be a result of being in high school now. It really was a toss up.
The new onset of dark clothes, dyed black hair and black painted fingernails was a little bit beyond Rose. She didn't quite know where the phase had come from, but what she did know was that it was amusing. Becca, among other things, was extremely afraid of anything being near her eyes. So, despite wishing in her hearts of hearts to be a hardcore goth, her grunge clothing was almost always pared with a face, free of makeup and the quintessential black eyeliner, hiding behind a pair of thick rimmed glasses. The only hardcore thing Becca was, was a fraidy cat.
The thought caused Rose to chuckle. Becca was lucky she was placed with the Richards and not some southern family who would find her phase satanic rather than amusing. They were all so lucky to have Todd and Molly.
Except, Rose kept thinking about being sent to bed and Todd probably going full dad on the boys. In that moment, she didn't feel quite so thankful for Todd. He didn't know it, but she'd already found trouble and those boys weren't the source.
Two hours into tossing and turning, Rose decided to leave the room (and the two light sleepers) behind. She walked out to the living room, pillow and blanket in hand, and smiled at the two boys sprawled across the love seat and sofa. They were clearly having a hard time sleeping too as they whispered between themselves about the day.
They looked up as Rose drew nearer and gave her a mirrored grin.
"We had no idea, when your father lectured us on inappropriate behavior," Hikaru said.
"That he was actually warning us that you'd seek us out," Kaoru finished.
Rose answered by throwing a pillow in Hikaru's face as she rolled her eyes.
"Thanks," Hikaru said, moving the pillow under his head. "How did you know this cheap couch needed more padding?"
"God, you're annoying," she responded, pulling the pillow out from behind his head before setting it on the floor with her blanket. She dropped to her knees before rolling backward to sit with her arms around her legs.
The twins both eyed her as she settled with expectant eyes. Rose sighed before speaking.
"I figured it was your first time sleeping on a couch. So, I thought I'd come make sure the sofa was safe," she teased. Kaoru raised an eyebrow at her, letting Rose know that her taunt wouldn't be taken as a proper explanation.
Rose exhaled dramatically as she let her body fall backwards onto her makeshift floor bed.
"Fine," she said. "I couldn't sleep. Haven't been able to at all, lately."
There was a silence in the living room as the three of them thought on her words, all aware of the reason but none wanting to talk about it further. It was the silent moments, though, when his voice snuck in and Rose shivered as he haunted her.
"You'll always be safe with us, Rose," Kaoru said, breaking the silence.
"Doubt it," she said, smirking. "You two are terrible."
"Hey now, is that any way to treat your guests," Hikaru teased. "I'd hate for Molly to find out you're treating us this way."
A small chuckle emitted from Rose's closed lips as she stared up at the ceiling fan. The thought of Molly's reaction to her poor hospitality was too much.
"Don't threaten me Hitachiin," Rose spoke through small laughs. "I'm not afraid of you."
"Oh?" He shot back at her. "Well, then maybe I should show your family this video I have of you on my phone."
Hikaru shifted on the couch, reaching for his phone on the accent table before turning his attention to his brother.
"Hey Kaoru, have I shown you this yet?"
Rose shot up from the floor and made a grab for his phone. Despite her best efforts, Hikaru was too fast for her and had tossed his phone to his brother before she even had a finger on his wrist. Defeated, Rose huffed and dramatically threw herself into her makeshift bed.
"Devil twins," she mumbled before turning her back to them and settling into her pillow. The resident couch dwellers snickered with each other before Kaoru returned Hikaru's phone, never having pressed play, and the two rested their backs onto the sofas.
There was an immense quiet as the three set off to end the night. Winter evenings are that way — far less nature around to break through the silence of the night. After about 10 minutes, Rose rolled back to face the ceiling and sighed.
"You guys are lucky to have each other," she whispered.
"Yeah," they said together quietly. "We've always had each other."
Rose's eyes were closed as she smiled and let out a heavy breath. They were so lucky and they didn't even know it.
"Sometimes I wish I had a real sibling," she said softly. "I love my foster ones, but those kids aren't the same ones that were here six years ago, or even three. It's not the same. I've never had someone with me through thick and thin, you know?"
The Hitachiins were quiet as they listened, also watching the shadows on the white living room ceiling. They'd never really thought about what life would be like without someone to lean on. From the beginning they'd always had each other and then, later, they had a band of unbreakable friends.
Hikaru and Kaoru were devious. They were incorrigible and could be annoying beyond words, but their friends had never left them. They rolled their eyes. They called them devils, shady, and scheming and yet, their friends remained true. It was a loyalty they, frankly, didn't deserve and they had never felt so thankfully aware of it before.
"Well, we'll adopt you," Hikaru said simply.
"Yeah, we'll be your thick and thin, now," Kaoru added.
Rose chuckled lightly. Such silly boys, she thought. Even if they could live in fantasies, she knew they were leaving in just a few short months.