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Insomniac Little Pilgrims

Chapter Text


On her way home, Sakurazuka Setsuka is brimming with fury as she realized just how stupid a decision of her to ever attend a homecoming. Her long hair falls and danced this way, that way over the back of her black blazer and her long, dark purple pants as she grumpily accelerate her steps on a pair of bright red stiletto. She even managed to still shaking her petit head now and again while not stopping at cursing under her breath at the same time as she drags two large plastic bags filled with groceries from the apartment building’ hall into her condo.

Her worn out leather handbag were left unattended behind the slightly opened door. Fortunately though, she still got the strength to smile back at her neighbour while taking that handbag with only her right arm and head out the door. “Good evening, Sakurazuka-san,” Fujiwara Taka said sweetly. Setsuka simply kept her smile and nods her greetings at him.

To hell with manners, she still got a problematic son to face. Thus, upon seeing her only son still sprawling over their black leather sofa, wearing a black sweater and dark blue track pants he'd wore since yesterday; Setsuka didn’t hesitate to throw her flailing, tired arms up in the air and lands it on Seishirou’s back as hard as possible.

“Ah... welcome home, Mom.”

Setsuka smiled, although more sinister than the one she have sent Fujiwara Taka with.

“I’m curious, Son,” she began, her cheeks flushed with anger as she took her stilettos off her feet and throws it far behind her. One of those expensive shoes hit the front door with a loud thud. “What have you been doing all the time I’m away, huh?”

“Trying to sleep,” Seishirou answered wearily, he could hear his mother echoing his words. He scratched the back of his head, amber eyes squinting under his mother’s glare. He heard a sigh coming from his mother and anticipates the inevitable; “Just go with your uncle, will you?” now Seishirou’s the one mockingly echoing his mother’s words.

He chuckled even while receiving a hard slap on the back of his head he just scratched.

“Do you realize what you’ve done to me, your mother?” now she’s yelling at him, just as expected. “Do you know how hard it is for me to face my school friends and not knowing what to tell them about my son?”

“Why bother, Mom?” he scowled lazily, defiantly taking every weakening hit his mother’s hand repeatedly sends his back.

“Oh, why bother? Ha-ha, right,” Seishirou could smell the alcohol from Setsuka’s mouth, and he bends his back lower, away from Setsuka as she sit behind his back, “Why bother when all of them bragged about how their firstborn paid for their vacations abroad...” Seishirou shook his head, rolled his eyes up to heaven and looks up at the ceiling, groaning, “Or how their son bought them the recent-”

“But we’ve got more money than all of theirs combined, Mom. Please.”

Setsuka shut her mouth, took in a deep breath and huffs it loud, “Now that’s the problem, Kiddo; all of it’s mine! Not yours, not your father’s, those billions are still mine!”

Seishirou counts to three before he heard the expected sob. He put his legs on the floor and turns, watching Setsuka breaks down in exactly the way she broke down three days ago. “Oh, Seishirou... I just want you...”

Seishirou calmly takes Setsuka’s blazer and fold it on his arm. He then silently rubs her fragile back. She was too young to be a mother, he let his maternal grandfather’s words crosses his mind when he could feel some of her bones under the thin fabric of her white shirt. He waits as she cries out, “I just want you to be safe! Tokyo’s a cruel city and you know that. It’s not only envy, Seishirou, there’re really plenty of people who would—God! You are my only son, Seishirou! What will happen if I die? Can’t you please just wake up and do something?!”

Seishirou reached out to his mother once Setsuka’s sobs turn into bouts of muted shaky breathes. He saw the way Setsuka’s fragile body curled in his hug before he put his head on her left shoulder.

Both of them are finally at a loss of words.

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll try harder,” he whispers and pats her right shoulder in a slow, comforting pattern but he let Setsuka to keep crying.

He took the sight of his father’s faint smile on the frameless family portrait he and his mother had stick to the refrigerator not far from the living room he currently occupy, he keeps staring at the way the funny fridge magnet holds it infirmly. He remembered how they got that fridge magnet. He was only ten and his father, the commoner Tokyo born—once an unemployed, way too young of a father—taken his family out to Osaka to meet the man who hires him as a security guard at one of his real estates complex in Tokyo.

Why out of all jobs his father should choose security guard as his is still beyond him. Setsuka once said it was because Sanosuke doesn’t want to take advantage of his wife’s family, like some of her in-laws had been doing. But Seishirou could still remind himself how it really didn’t matter after he saw his father’s boss.

That man gave Seishirou a fridge magnet that has the form of a colourful okonomiyaki.

Seishirou forgot that man’s given name but Mr. Sumeragi was nice. Pleasingly courteous even to the little spoiled Seishirou and he couldn’t be more polite according to Setsuka. If memory didn’t betray him, Mr. Sumeragi was not as tall as his father, with a slender built, prone to silly smiles and kind enough to spark up a dulling conversation. On the way from Tokyo to Osaka, Sanosuke has introduced Mr. Sumeragi as his childhood friend. He told his son that this boss slash friend of his originally a nobleman of Kyoto, but Mr. Sumeragi was raised in Osaka, thus his love for the city and okonomiyaki, the city’ most loved street food.

It’s just that Seishirou never expected that surreally fun and abrupt family trip to be the last time he’d ever see his father and Mr. Sumeragi. They died in front of the restaurant they’ve had lunch that day. Sanosuke in particular, died saving Seishirou and Setsuka from an uncontrollable SUV driven by a dying young woman. Sanosuke’s friend was crushed first.

Now that Seishirou thinks about it; his father did told him something about the reason behind his affinity toward his job...

“I mean look at me, Seishirou. I am one of the only fourteen men trusted to guard this vast complex every single night. Don’t you feel proud about that?”

I am proud of you, Father—I guess so.

“You don’t have to worry about anything, Kiddo; I and your mother can guard you more than a thousand Gun dams!”

But what that made me, Father—just a spoiled child? What should I guard in this life to feel, to do anything at all?

“Your dreams,” Seishirou snapped out his reverie right there, at his mother’s words. Did he just say it all out loud?

“Guard your dreams, Kiddo,” she continues just as sweetly, even when she notices Seishirou’s arm stiffening on her shoulders. “That’s what he said next, remember?” she yawns, “I’m sorry, just forget what I said, it’s just me being drunk; your father and I love you no matter what.”

Seishirou glances at his mother only to feel her body slackens from drowse. He let go of her but Setsuka dives further to sleep on his lap with an unfeigned smile on her pretty face. “I’m so sorry, Seishirou. I really am. Let’s meet Papa in our dream.”

“You’re heavy, Mom.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“Seriously, Mom, I need to go to the bathroom.”

“Okay, okay... but forgive me, will you?”



As much as he’s glad that Setsuka is currently fast asleep in her own bedroom, Seishirou can’t find a reason of why he is now tossing and turning around on his bed.

He had closed the windows, the curtains, and tried to also close his eyelids as his own mind told him to, but still he’s just as wide awake as yesterday. In fact, it’s been almost a week since Seishirou stops sleeping peacefully altogether. He no longer knows how.

Not that it’s frightening. If anything, he’s never a health freak. It’s just that there’s nothing he can do now except to sleep: He’s not hungry, he hates TV, there’s no more unread books left in this condominium, and there’s no work hours waiting for him in the morning because all the time he spent learning at college to become a veterinarian went in vain once his maternal grandfather dies. His death brought forward a handwritten will stating Seishirou as his sole heir.

He grinned at the memories of how the chaos roaring from the rest of Sakurazuka family members facing his unflinchingly absolute indifference.

Being born a nobleman is never unlike having a foreordained destiny, why bother caring?

Chapter Text

Sumeragi Subaru, his twin sister Hokuto, and their mother Keiko are on their way to their new home in mainland Tokyo. By sunrise, the three of them has finally passed the last highway gate to enter Tokyo.

Subaru is already mesmerized by the shapes of buildings after buildings surrounding the road and apparently, Hokuto is also happy.

Despite the silent treatment she gave Keiko back when they’re still in Kyoto, her mood’s uplifted quite easily now she starts greeting the crows on Tokyo’s busy sidewalks. As dangerous as getting her arms out the passenger’s window may be, Subaru can’t help but feeding on his twin’s sheer cheerfulness.

It felt so good to see her like this especially if he compares the now happy Hokuto with yesterday Hokuto who frantically refused to go to Tokyo at all cost, making a guilty mess out of Subaru who secretly wants to be wherever his mother would take him. The guilt is such that he still couldn’t fully face Hokuto, and so he’s back observing the outskirts of the city where he would live in. A small smile weaves its way on his lips until his curious gaze fell onto a tall, dark-clothed stranger on a sidewalk.

Subaru’s right hand automatically finds its way to roll down his side window, and what a fine gentleman the stranger actually is.

This stranger is clad in expensive sportswear—oh, he should know; being Hokuto’s twin and all—a black, body fitting tank top, white track pants with black stripes on one side, a watch, and white running shoes. His silky short black hair flown here and there by the wind as his wide smile shone through the crowds.

The young man is now laying his arm on the shoulders of a beautiful woman wearing black flip flops under a long black casual dress; a bright cherry blossom hairpin tucks strands of raven hair behind her ear. They’re walking; they only stop for a moment before a zebra crossing on one side of the crossroads where the Sumeragis’ car got stuck in traffic. For Subaru, the pair looks refreshingly uncaring of their surrounding; she laughing loud at the jokes the tall gentleman offered, but they resembled each other too much Subaru can only guess they’re siblings... or are they fraternal twins like him and Hokuto?

He’d only hope the man would be so kind to walk closer for Subaru to see him more clearly.

It can be either this summer’s heat, or the bright sunshine glowing on huge buildings’ glass walls that he felt so heated his cheeks flushes.

It is also strange that the woman left Subaru even more unquestioning as time goes on while he’s still looking at the man. What’s more surprising, he’s no longer capable of thinking about yesterday’s happenings, or anything else, if at all.

All he could see and think about is a dark-clothed, tall stranger.

“What’re you looking at?” a yet again giggling Hokuto asks him right beside his ear. Subaru blinked and shifted to his previous sitting position at the same time as Keiko turned the gear and let the car slides forward.

“It’s nothing, Hokuto-chan.”

Hokuto merely shuffles his bangs at that, and then she winks. “He’s good-looking, Bro,” she mouthed, mischievously soundless.

Chapter Text

15 years ago

Sakurazuka Setsuka’s Mansion, Tokyo

Ever since becoming an elementary school student in Tokyo, Kanazawa born Seishirou had changed his calm demeanour into one nagging—albeit demurely—wayward son in the span of one week; until his homeroom teacher felt the need to put Seishirou in another class, all alone, throughout the final semester exam.

It’s only yesterday that Seishirou dumped a rat carcass in his schoolmate’s locker, in exchange of having his own locker filled with stack of papers bearing dozens kind of insults about his young and wealthy mother. Unbeknownst of the latter incident; his amused father Sanosuke thinks it must come from being an only child, a wild guess to which his mother helplessly agrees, only for them to find something entirely different comes out of Seishirou’s mouth on Setsuka’s latest arrival at home.

“Why bother coming back? You’ve never been home, Mom,” spats an apathetic Seishirou, amber eyes blazing sets on her challengingly.

While Setsuka somehow knows she deserved that, she never expects herself to be welcomed by such raw “confession” coming from her usually amiable son. After all, the never-ending out-of-town jobs her family demanded her has paid the bill, and being his mother, Setsuka knew enough that Seishirou should’ve at least tried to understand her frequent absences by now. Still...

“What is wrong with him?” Setsuka asks incredulously to Sanosuke, who then sends her a cheeky smile. He tapped Setsuka’s shoulders lightly before he took her cloak off.

Nonetheless Setsuka tries once again, “Seishirou... we’ve talked about this, have us? So I think I’m going to forget what you just said...” to which Sanosuke flinches beside her.


“Aw... okay, I’m sorry; could I at least get a hug? I’ve missed you too, Kiddo.”

His mother’s soft tone finally turned Seishirou’s head. Both his parents still standing on the doorstep, he quickly eyed his father with silent plea, and then he dashed off the living room, leaping from the opened windows in his bedroom to somewhere his parents wouldn’t know.

Sanosuke and Setsuka still enter his room, though.

There, lain on his desk, they see pieces of shattered glass scrambled over an empty picture frame.



Present Time Shinjuku district, Tokyo

The Sumeragis’ condo is rather... comprehensive, to say the least. If it wasn’t for the brightly lit lobby and wide hall of the apartment building, this condominium that’s made of squeaky clean black and white kitchen, an actual spacious living room, two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and a dressing room—not to mention that every rooms are already complete with its appliances, furnishings, supplies; all styled precisely in Keiko’s order—would certainly made no difference to that of a minimalist house.

Subaru glance around as he gingerly follows his excited twin. “...well, marrying a Sumeragi does have its perks!” and that voice belongs to his mother, awkwardly keeping up an intrusive question from a bellboy trailing behind. Both adults are also bound up with suitcases, some trunks, Subaru’s pillow, and whatnots to be able to see Subaru’s restless gestures upon entering the premises.

“What’s wrong, Subaru?”

Arriving on a crimson carpet in the living room, he looked up and turns his head right toward Hokuto, who had taken a seat on a white leather sofa. She sat there cross legged under knee length purple skirt, facing him whole. Subaru’s body remain in facing the kitchen, an LED TV standing proud in front of Hokuto, across his shoulder.

They looked at each other, and found that afternoon humid weather on their trip gave their fluffy cheeks a pair of similar pink hue, along with locks of wet hair from sweaty foreheads. For once Subaru’s assured he can give up to the familiar feeling of looking into a mirror.

“Come on, Subaru. Pitch it on me.”

Subaru cleared his throat, breaking any eye contact. He frowns and asks himself where should he begin now? There’re too many racing thoughts any proper or clear sentences are lost to him.

He knows he can’t feel more grateful to have Hokuto in his life, but honestly, now that the distraction’s gone and Hokuto’s safely back into her composed self, Subaru can fully admit he’s just not as ready to move out of hometown as he thought he was... now can he? He ignore the changing shape of his guilt rising rapidly in his gut, all the while managing to push himself deeper onto the shimmers of round brown eyes fixed only at his emerald ones, so willing and ready to take in every teeny tiny wound he’s going to share. It won’t be that bad, her eyes tell him.

Oh if only she can really read his mind.

“For three days and two nights, I’ve only slept for six hours in total.”

Hokuto’s agape, “What?” and before Subaru can do anything; a forming headache got the best of him. His tongue rolled faster than his blurry mind could wrench; “and how on earth did you know I was looking at that guy, Hokuto-chan?”

“Hokuto, Subaru!”

“Yes, Mother?” the twins answers in unison.

“It’s time for dinner!”

Rising from the sofa, thus entering their mother’s sight, Subaru can see Hokuto’s rapid blinking—in response to his last question—ceases casually then and there. Walking a step behind Hokuto, Subaru gulped down a disturbing lump in his throat. He knew Keiko could hear his question. The kitchen is not that far from where the twins were seated, more importantly, Subaru has watched her with his peripheral sight, moving warily back and forth since he began talking to Hokuto. She wasn’t even as affected as Hokuto... but why?



He’s been losing weight, tells the hanging frameless mirror aside his bedroom door. He’s been losing sleep, whispered the growing throbs in his head. Underneath Subaru’s tremor ridden fingers, creaky window panes amenably herded summer breeze inside, forbidding any late night wont left in him—because to keep standing there watching the smoggy, starless midnight sky should help him quench this strange predicament. Or so he thinks.

Slumping on his bed, Subaru tried to dodge the questions already swirling within, triggered by a honking truck and squeaky car brakes from so far below. Lying on his back, the stale ceiling opens yet another sleepless drowse.

Chapter Text

It seems there’s no room left to sit at the picnic spot of Ueno Park. More and more people gathered onto one huge spot under a group of leafy cherry blossom trees that instead of passing the walking crowds and set up new picnic spots on any other side of the tree-lined park, each new person or groups of people are strangely looking for a place they could squeeze into in that crowded, noisy area.

Sakurazuka Setsuka is an exception. She steadily walks across the park with wide confident strides, a large fruit basket cradled in one arm, a worn out leather handbag on the other. Not oblivious of people’ attention towards her, she stopped under a peculiarly huge cherry blossom tree to spread a gingham tablecloth underneath her unused red silk dress she had cut with a scissor at home.

Setsuka stood barefoot after she finishes arranging a picnic of salmon burger, cream cakes and white wine, fingers proudly pressed on each side of her waist. Gazing dreamily at her tree, she leans toward it and lifts her arm to poke its trunk using one manicured finger, “So, umm... long time no see, Tree-san!”

“I beg your pardon?”

Startled, Setsuka jumped a few steps back, knocking over some of her food containers. Her head would absolutely hit a plot of land nearby, or one of her scattered shoes for that matter. It would be painful, but fortunate of her, a pair of hands shot out just in time to catch both her arms through the fall.

Setsuka sees the park scenery upside down before she let gravity take her backside, the grips on her arms fastening as she moves slowly to land on the overlay of fabrics she’s set as picnic mat. “Oh God...” she muttered, bewildered, “Just then I really thought the tree could speak...”



Still recovering from her shock, Setsuka inspects the pair of beautiful fraternal twins now sitting cross legged on each side of her favourite cherry blossom tree, eating her cooking and drinking carton juice and a cane of coke they’ve brought on their own—gorgeous, peaceful. Like a movie scene.

To think that this is the very place where she met Sanosuke for the first time...

“It’s not every day we encounter someone who can immediately recognise our genders...” starts one twin, the girl, sheepishly.

“Oh, but that’s easy,” Setsuka points out, excitedly moving her arms up and down, “my brother’s children are fraternal twins, and they were so cute just like you two...”

“Thank you, but, were...?” again, it’s the girl that spoke.

“Ha-ha, they’re not dead... I just haven’t seen them for years. My son doesn’t really like them anymore.”

Setsuka could only hear the twins’ crisp laughter as a cue to continue, “I wonder how they’re doing. My son used to play with them. They were fantastic cousins for him. They spend lots of holiday together, in my house, until one Christmas Eve my son break one of their toys.”

“Why did he do that?” the male twin countered.

“Hmm... I was curious myself. My family have no Christian practitioner, my husband either, but we celebrated Christmas because the twins loved ‘Home Alone’ and receiving gifts Christmas-style, ha-ha. Back then I really thought Seishirou like it, too. But maybe not and maybe he’s just jealous.” One side of Setsuka’s lip curved uncomfortably, “Don’t get me wrong. I love my son, but he’s just...”

Gripping her wine bottle midair, Setsuka glances around, suddenly realizing what she’s sharing with total strangers—albeit a pair of seemingly kind-hearted kids. But again she sees the girl, Sumeragi Hokuto—Setsuka reminds herself—nodding at her in a polite, patient, and cute encouragement, inducing Setsuka to go on. On top of that, Subaru’s eyes latch on her as if telling her he had dealt with many people and many more stories like this; Setsuka just couldn’t resist it.

“It was my fault. My son Seishirou was, uh, is a spoiled child. He can go a long way just to smile for another person, much less talking, but he’s also an obedient, thoughtful, and kind child for his parents, tee-he-he. His big family, me as his mother included, made things far more complicated. I never realize what I’ve done by not giving him any sibling, and when I do, he’s been closing in on himself for far too long,” Setsuka fell silent for another moment, her face made as if to brood. She flicked her hair behind her right ear and sends Subaru a meek smile, “In fact, he’s been living here in Tokyo for almost two decades now, and still he has no friends whatsoever.

“You see I don’t want him to live like that forever... but I honestly have no idea what to do with him.”

Sumeragi twins deadpanned, and she kind of waited for it. She bit her lip. Feeling restless all over again, she should’ve known she was just being superstitious. She’s carried away by her grief, again, selfishly laying it out on people as if these thoughtful kids don’t have problem in their life, again; she never learned her lesson.

If she had her way she would want to disappear from their sight.

“...can we meet Seishirou, Sakurazuka-san?”

Relief drowns Setsuka, Hokuto’s question being a cavernous missing part of the puzzle she called life. A lone butterfly roves over one twin’s head, Subaru’s, and flee leaving the superstitious Setsuka smiling so wide it creases her eyelids. Like a movie scene, she repeats.

“Now, now... I told him to go meet his uncle at Ikebukuro this morning. He must be on his way.”



Pacing down the subway to corridor of the station, Sakurazuka Seishirou slice through the crowds, looking like a real estate agent but with an odd eye circle adorning in between the tip of his cheekbone and his left eye—from many sleepless hours and those unnecessary dwellings on life, perhaps, if only he would care to admit it. But why it’s only jarringly visible on one side?

He flicks off some dust from his white shirt and take a look on his wristwatch, letting the bursts of people strolling to every directions around him go hang with the rest of the world. His uncle should show up here by half an hour.

Days gone by and not only that he’d lost more sleep than ever, he seem to also lose a portion affinity he had for some beautiful, fancy things—this wristwatch isn’t a Tag Heuer per se, he lost a Rolex too, somehow; so a simple Gucci should do—is it because it was inherited from his unhinged mother or it’s just his lately worsening mood swings raking complications that that should happen to him, he will never be sure. Nor will he care anymore.

On top of that, mirrors are no longer his friend. At least he can be sure of that.

His raven hair may seem silky but it’s totally unkempt for the day, he knows that. This morning Setsuka had insists all of this silly rebellious phase he have is caused by the odd eye circle, and he kind of want to admit she’s in someway right, only Seishirou would rather die than to ever putting himself under the mercy of his mother’s makeup tools if he did.

The tiles under him grumble almost in a constant rhythmical order as the subway left Ikebukuro. Some of the feeble lights buzzing and there, from the top of the stairs a pair of pretty teenagers with similar hairstyle and clothing runs in his wake. One of them, bubbly in pink jumpsuit, smoothly slide on her platform shoes to stop with a satisfied “Hah!” that bounces off the walls of a now vacant corridor. In front of them, Seishirou took in the sight with bemused detachment.

Judging from the way they’re dressed, these kids might be newly debuted idols of Akihabara for all he know. He was going to turn back and be done with them, but not before the other kid, wearing bright red thin jacket over a seemingly black sleeveless jumpsuit stumbles over his own hasty steps and thrusts forward, as if to dive; jacketed kid fall face first on the ground.

“Ouch... calm down, Sweetheart. Here, let me help you,” pink jumpsuit voiced while grasping the arm of red jacket lad, her expression’s exultant for a rather gloom dingy place like this station.

Oh, twins—interesting, Seishirou thought.

Just a second as he was about to really leave the station, and the kids behind, pink jumpsuit girl made another noise. It sounded startled though, and if she were to address her green-eyed twin, isn’t it a bit too loud given their positions? Is he injured?

Seishirou spins slowly back at them, meeting a pair of brown surprised stare.

“Look, Subaru!” she calls her still stooping twin without any intention to soften her blatant staring at Seishirou, “He’s Mr. Good-Looking from the crosswa—hello, Sakurazuka Seishirou!”

Chapter Text

"...hello, Sakurazuka Seishirou!"

"Are you showing off your wealth?"

No. My mother won't have me riding my bike to school.

"What's your father's surname? Why do you have your mother's?"

It's Hayashi. I was supposed to be a Hayashi Seishirou.

" are Seishirou, right?"

"My Dad told me his mother is a princess, that's why he have her surname."

I won't put it that way, but she's pretty enough to look like one.

"Well, he's too weird to be a prince."

"Right! My Dad also told me his mother wasn't married when she's pregnant."

They were married, though.

"So he never have a father? Was it adultery?"

I did have a father. He's just dead.

"Bad kids don't have dad, you know."

Seishirou blinked.

"Fuuma Monou from class A said he didn't cry when his father died."

"I was right, then. He's a bad child."

He listened as his name rang, snaring the walls of the corridor, high-pitched only for him.

"After all, fruits never fall too far from the tree."

In the span of what merely two seconds, Seishirou relaxed his slightly tightened jaw, shaky knuckles warping behind black satin pants even when amber eyes remained sharp in its gaze, unaffected. Seishirou also resisted the instincts flaring him up to run, but for the fact that his uncle is still going to pick him up here. That he had to remind himself it's certainly not because he never heard his name spelled in such friendly tone.

"Ahem, good afternoon, Se—can I call you Seishirou?—I'm Sumeragi Hokuto, and this is my twin, Subaru."

Seishirou kept his stance. Sumeragi, she said?

Instead of watching a wavering smile over his lack of response, Seishirou could only hope that the widening smile on Hokuto's face is good enough a reason for himself to start moving.

His own lips now widens in a wicked smirk of mockery before it turned into a low rumbling of giggles. He'll think about his uncle later.

Those kids aren't real; he had read something about hallucination as a side effect of insomnia—there goes his attention as he spun around and walk ahead.

Reaching the first step on the stairs, he can still hear the twins murmuring to one another and Seishirou's shoulders shook in a fit of muted laughter.

"...this is just pathetic."