Ichimatsu came in the room with a cat wrapped in his arms. It was only Osomatsu there laying on the floor while he idly flipped through some magazine or book he was reading. Ichimatsu couldn’t really tell since he faced away from him.
“I-I’m home...” Ichimatsu greeted and silently went to the side of the room.
Osomatsu energetically sat up and greeted Ichimatsu back, “Welcome home Ichimatsu!”
The older brother then picked up the book and went beside Ichimatsu.
It was only then that Ichimatsu saw what he was reading. It was neither a magazine or a book, it was a photobook, a very old one.
Ichimatsu glared at Osomatsu.
“If this is about Jyushimatsu again I would like to go now… ”
“Nah!” Osomatsu said but he instantly grabbed hold on to Ichimatsu and smirked. “Well not just about Jyushimatsu.”
The door then opened and came in Choromatsu and Todomatsu.
“What are you two doing?” Choromatsu asked instantly while Totty just ignored them and sat somewhere around the room, his eyes at his phone’s screen the whole time.
“Ne Choromatsu, I was just looking at our old photos and — TOTTY DON’T GO!”
Todomatsu, who instantly stood up to leave stopped. “If this is about Jyushimatsu-niisan then I’ll go. I’ll leap out of the window if I had to.”
“Why are all of you thinking that it’s about Jyushimatsu again?”
Choromatsu sat in front of Osomatsu, cross-legged on the floor. “So? If it isn’t about Jyushimatsu then what are you looking at?”
“I was just looking at our old pictures. We looked so identical on some of them that even I had trouble.”
“That’s impossible. I think it’s pretty easy to tell us apart, Mom and Dad do it all the time.” Todomatsu said as he walked towards his brother and claimed a spot on Osomatsu’s side.
Todomatsu looked at the picture and pointed as he declared, “Karamatsu-niisan, Choromatsu-niisan, Osomatsu-niisan, Jyushimatsu-niisan, me and Ichimatsu-niisan. See? Easy.”
“Ah. Totty. I think this is actually you and this one is Ichimatsu.” Choromatsu said, pointing who was who.
Todomatsu raised a brow and looked again. “Can’t be… Ichimatsu-niisan couldn’t be smiling like that…”
“I can smile you know.” Ichimatsu murmured, who also leaned and was now at Osomatsu’s other side.
Osomatsu rubbed his nose with a finger and laughed, “told you it was pretty difficult. No wonder Iyami had problems.”
Todomatsu, pride insulted, suddenly started to gather all their photo albums and challenged his older brothers if they could identify all of them.
Karamatsu and Jyushimatsu arrived soon after. They instantly joined in the fun. Jyushimatsu was more than happy to identify his brothers. Osomatsu was amazed, next to him, Jyushimatsu got everyone right.
Choromatsu surprisingly, always mixed himself up with Osomatsu. “I don’t understand — how could this possibly be.” He said in shock.
“That just means that we used to be so similar.” Osomatsu stated so simply even though he could see how Choromatsu was starting to have an identity crisis in front of him.
“Well, you two really were.” Karamatsu added.
Choromatsu clicked his tongue and acted like he did not hear Karamatsu. He just didn’t want to accept it.
“Karamatsu-niisan’s right, sometimes you two were so in sync that I didn’t bother telling apart who was who...” Jyushimatsu smiled. “Though I could always tell who was who when I really look at you.”
“Wait. Wait. Wait. You didn’t bother telling your own brothers apart?” Choromatsu had to ask, given this new information.
“Nope. There were times when we moved altogether that we felt like one entity...” Jyushimatsu started, but Ichimatsu had to tap his shoulder and shook his head. Jyushimatsu understood. If he started to think about these things again, strange things might happen.
“Does it matter?” Ichimatsu said in almost a grumble.
“I did that often too.” Todomatsu confessed, “as long as I know I am me… I just think of all of you as my oniisan. When I get lazy I just called you ‘oniisan’ and that’s fine.”
“IT’S NOT!” Choromatsu shouted and Osomatsu just laughed. Karamatsu was also shocked by this confession, but he just silently agreed with Choromatsu as he adjusted his sunglasses.
“That’s very sly Totty.” Osomatsu said and continued to laugh.
“Don’t talk about this like it’s nothing!”
‘Choromatsu is being hysterical again’ Osomatsu thought, getting more amused by the minute.
“It’s ok Choromatsu, by high school we all had our own thing that it got easier to tell us apart.”
“You mostly skipped class. I had to be in two places at once to save your ass.” Choromatsu folded his arms.
“And my ass was indeed saved because of you. Thanks.”
“Jyushimatsu-niisan and Ichimatsu-niisan also skipped classes.” Todomatsu reminded them.
“Ok make that four places— ”
“I helped you back then buraza!”
“Fine, three... two on average.” Choromatsu then realized something and started to scream again, “What the hell? I went to all your classes?!”
“I was distracted by cats.” Ichimatsu answered quietly sinking himself on Osomatsu.
“So that’s when you started to become a furry.” Osomatsu just had say that thought.
Ichimatsu just shrugged.
“But baseball Choromatsu-niisan! BASEBALL!!” Jyushimatsu shouted, shaking some sense into Choromatsu.
“I remember being in detention for something I didn’t do… I wonder who I proxied for… I can’t seem to remember...” Karamatsu mused, but his words were muted by Jyushimatsu’s and Choromatsu’s loud voices.
But Todomatsu and Osomatsu somehow heard Karamatsu, and both exchanged knowing smirks.
It was a day when they all dug up their memories from their childhood years. They exchanged stories of their little misadventures, and it was fun to hear the same event from a different point of view. Life had always been so fun if they were together.
It was all they talked about until the night came. Because they got lazy, they just pushed to a side all the photo albums when they prepared their futon. Someone, probably Choromatsu or Karamatsu, would clean those up in the morning.
Osomatsu, though, woke up in the middle of the night, and picked up a photo album. He parted the curtains and let the moon’s shine in. With only the dim light of the moon, he scanned the pictures and smiled to himself.
“Aren’t you going to sleep?” Choromatsu’s sleepy voice said as he turned to his brother.
“I will. I will.” Osomatsu dismissed him.
“What are you even looking at?” This time it was Todomatsu, obviously annoyed at the movement beside him.
“Nothing.” Osomatsu said, “we’re just so cute back when we were babies. So innocent. Like… we can’t do any harm.”
“Jyushimatsu-niisan didn’t look quite harmless.” Todomatsu said, now turning on his belly and propping himself up for a look at the album.
“I was the most innocent-looking of all. A perfect cherub blessed by the— ow”
“It’s the middle of the night Kusomatsu. Shut up Kusomatsu. You want to die Kusomatsu?” Ichimatsu whispered, kicking his brother under the blanket.
“Ok, that’s nice… but you can admire our cuteness in the morning...” Choromatsu gave up and finally turned around to face the other direction.
Osomatsu grinned, laughing under his breath.
“It’s just a shame though.” Osomatsu said, his eyes looking at the tiny humans all bundled up and sleeping beside his mother.
“Since I was born at the same time as you guys, I didn’t get to see you when you were this cute and innocent.”
“Well duh, you were a baby too.” Todomatsu rolled his eyes.
Osomatsu chuckled, “yes of course. That is exactly why it’s a shame.”
Osomatsu then closed the photo album and just slid it on the floor. It hit the wall and stayed there with the other photo albums.
Osomatsu turned to his back and placed himself comfortably on the futon. He had one hand behind his head and the other rubbing his nose.
“I didn’t get to take care of you as babies. I didn’t get to admire your cuteness or to show you off to people. I didn’t get to help you in your first steps or hear your first words. I didn’t get to do stuff that makes an eldest brother the eldest brother.”
Osomatsu sighed but still kept that grin on his face.
“I can only imagine. It must be a pain to take care of all of you… but I bet it would be fun to play with actual little brothers.”
Osomatsu then stopped upon hearing a small sound. He looked beside him and saw Todomatsu already tearing up and sniffing. Osomatsu turned to look at Choromatsu to have someone to tease Totty with but he stopped and just smiled when he saw his shoulders shaking.
Jyushimatsu then jumped on top of Osomatsu from nowhere. He did not even know he was awake.
“I can be your little brother! Play with me oniisan.” His voice a little too loud at night.
“Well you are my little brother.” Osomatsu just laughed, patting Jyushimatsu’s head who was still moving on top of him.
Ichimatsu also sat up. Although he was blushing and hesitant to go nearer, he wanted nothing else at the moment to snuggle beside Osomatsu.
But Todomatsu already jumped the gun, using his tears with his slyness, he acted cutely and easily snuggled beside Osomatsu, burying his head against his older brother’s body.
“Oniichan.” Todomatsu whispered, eyes looking away.
Osomatsu almost had a heart attack but he managed to control himself with nothing but a blush to show for it.
Choromatsu also turned around. He buried his face behind the blanket in shame but his hands already gripped Osomatsu’s shirt.
Karamatsu moved towards him as well. “I can be your baby too Osomatsu-niichan.”
“Actually. No. Stop that. It’s painful.” Osomatsu attacked with his words while Todomatsu glared.
Karamatsu frowned and Osomatsu just laughed.
Osomatsu then stretched his hands further behind Todomatsu until it reached Karamatsu’s head. He gave him a light pat and Karamatsu’s face instantly lit up with a smile.
With all the brothers around him, Osomatsu just sighed. Well, that turned out better than he thought it would be.
He then looked at the side and saw Ichimatsu still hesitant to go nearer. So Osomatsu had to smile at him too and gestured his head for Ichimatsu to join in as well.
Ichimatsu bit back the smile and grumbled a bit, but Osomatsu clearly saw how eager Ichimatsu was to come nearer.
‘Well.’ Osomatsu thought, his eyes going around all his brothers. He could identify them all so easily, because no matter how identical they looked, each was unique and precious in their own little way. No matter at what age they were.
‘I guess I could sleep better now.’