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Breathe

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I’d love to say that I’ve never once thought about him in that way.

I’d love to say that I can’t stand how he always finds a way to touch me.

I’d love to say that I can’t stand him.

 

I’d hate to say that I'm always waiting for his gaze to fall on my lips.

I’d hate to admit how inappropriate the stares I give him sometimes are.

I’d hate to hate him.

...But I’d also hate to love him.

 

I just don’t know what to do.

What to think.

 

I'm trapped.

 

Another cold night. Another cold, December night.

Snowflakes.

Your hot breath tickling the side of my neck.

We’re lying on a bed. Our bed.

We always talk about how much we want to have our own separate rooms, yet we can’t even manage to sleep in two different beds.

"First period tomorrow we got a test”, you whisper, “It’s better if we just go to sleep now”.

Your arms are loosely wrapped around my waist, a possessive gesture I’ve now gotten used to.

“You know I like reading before going to sleep,” I retort matter-of-factly, trying to free myself from your grip, “just go to sleep, Hikaru”.

You sigh, giving up.

For some nights now, you’ve been surprisingly compliant. And it makes me wonder about what's going on inside your head. What are you thinking about. Why the sudden change, Hikaru? You can't even tell me, your twin brother? 

...But I won't ask.

I can't

My side feels so cold now that your body heat is gone. And I don’t know why, but I feel like crying.

I ignore it.

“Goodnight” you whisper into your pillow, almost inaudible, and I decide to ignore your words too.

I’ll allow myself to lower my guard only when I’ll hear your breaths coming out at a steady rhythm.

 

Inhale.

Three seconds.

Exhale.

Five seconds.

 

It might seem crazy, maybe it really is.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I wake up. …And it’s unsurprisingly three in the morning. For a few months now, this has become part of my torture.

Just like always, I find you caressing my ribs, your hot (way too hot) fingertips brushing my sensitive skin, carefully tracing each protruding bone.

And even now I can’t bring myself to hate you.

I can hear your muffled sobbing and you are whispering something  with a husky voice, you probably need some water, but we both know that not even that would be capable of quenching this kind of thirst.

Your breaths aren't steady at all, and I automatically start counting in my head.

 

Inhale, hold it for three seconds.

Dammit Hikaru, just fucking breathe.

Exhale, wait five seconds.

 

Not even my counting can distract me from your smooth fingertips.

You get closer to my back, your chest collides with my shoulder blades, and you nuzzle your nose in the slightly damp hair close to my nape, inhaling deeply.

“Kaoru… Kaoru…” you chant like a prayer, a silent plea that holds the promise of something indecent.

And even now, I can’t bring myself to think that you’re disgusting

Your lithe fingers move southward, they manage to reach my hipbones. You grasp them fiercely, and a surprised gasp almost escapes my lips.

Don't worry, HikaruI’m not going anywhere. I won’t disappear. Because I don't want to. And I hate myself for it.

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry… please forgive me…” your tear stained lips kiss the shell of my ear, and this time I can’t stop the small moan that escapes my unseemly mouth.

You completely freeze.

Time seems to have stopped.

Each second is painful.

A minute turns into an eternity.

I can now count sixty seconds with the painfully erratic thumps of your heart. Of our hearts.

And then… you breathe. It’s slow, unsure, but I’m now certain of the fact that you’re here with me.

You’re back with me.

We’re here together.

My back suddenly feels cold, extremely cold, as you shift away from me. You lay on your side of our bed, and even breathing the same air is now an impossible task.

I’m breathless. I’m weak. I’m sweating.

I’m disgusting.

It’s hard to breathe.

It might seem crazy, maybe it really is, ‘sick’ some might dare say, but I really can’t bring myself to care at this point.

I turn my body towards you… and I really don’t know the reason why, but I’m not surprised to find out you were already looking at me. Dishevelled, abstent, but at the same time so terrifyingly lucid.

 

I inhale sharply.

Three seconds.

We exhale.

Four seconds.

 

Carefully, hesitantly, I reach to you and I caress your tear stained cheek.

... And you don’t even flinch. It's like you saw it coming. Like you took for granted that this would happen, someday. Like you wanted it to happen

Why, in this cold night, can’t I predict your every move? Why is it that tonight is so different?

Why is it that I feel my control slowly drifting away, why is it that i find you so beautiful, with those moonlit features of yours identical, yet completely different from mine?

You lean into my touch, closing your eyes, and this feels so intimate that it makes me want to run away.

 

But I decide to stay.

 

Stroking your cheek, so soft and dusted with this tender shade of pink, I trace the path that fallen tear of yours has left.

Your eyes, those amber eyes with that malicious glint, what are they hiding? What are you thinking?

Why can’t I read you in the most important situations?

I feel like I might be going crazy. I feel like... it just feels... I'm sorry, Hikaru, I'm afraid that i won't be able to be your twin tonight. Just for this night. Just this one, damned night.

I'm sorry that I've failed you. I've failed myself.

Your skinny hand makes its way through my hair. You gently scrape my scalp, and I relax under your touch, releasing a sigh I didn’t know I was holding.

I almost don’t notice the fact that our breaths are now coordinated, but of course I wouldn’t miss out on such an important detail: I wonder if our hearts are also beating to the same rhythm.

Hikaru, do you feel this too? Does your chest feel so tight and hurts like mine does? Is this sense of guilt also in common? This uneasy feeling at the pit of the stomach?

I don’t understand this. I probably won’t, ever.

But that look you’re giving me is way too tempting. Those tears that are now gathering at the side of your eyes are begging to be kissed away.

And so I do.

I lean to you and your eyes instantly flutter, your hand ceasing any kind of movement.

I kiss your eyelid. One. The tip of your nose. Two. I push away your bangs and kiss your forehead. Three. My lips leave a gentle peck on your small chin, and I feel you shuddering. Four.

Stop.  

It's when I let my lips kiss the corner of your pink mouth, that you sharply inhale and open your eyes wide.

Are you afraid?, is what I’d like to ask, but nothing comes out.

It’s not necessary right now.

Because I’m sure you are. Because I’m sure I am.

Scared, but curious. Curious, but fucking terrified.

But this time you seem to know what you want.

You press your fingers on my lips, completely trusting whatever was going through my head in this exact moment. Something even I, the owner of this impure, sick thoughts, wouldn’t do. I don’t trust myself when I’m with you.

I press a soft, chaste kiss on your fingertips, and you shiver.

What are you shivering for? Are you still scared? I maintain eye contact as I start kissing each and every one of your five fingers, and you let out a shaky breath.

What are we doing? What the hell is all of this?

 

“Kaoru…” your pupils blown, too far gone.

Disgusting.

“Kao… a-ahh... Kaoru…” I drag your lower lip downwards, and you obediently let your mouth fall open.

Absolutely sickening.

Nnh,” you whimper. And suck my thumb into your sinful mouth. I watch your lips stretch and wrap around my finger, and I reluctantly feel my lower zone twitch with interest.  

“Kao…” your voice is so damn alluring.

I should stop touching my twin this way. This is wrong.

Your eyes are shining when you look up to me, my thumb still in your mouth as you pull back a little and kiss the tip.

Only now I realize how uncomfortably tight my pajama pants have gotten.

 

Calm down.

Stop this now.

Stop it while you can.

 

“I…” my voice is way too husky, I clear my throat and try again, “I need to go to the bathroom. You should try to get some sleep.”

I close my eyes shut and pull back from him, walking towards our bathroom, closing the door and locking myself in.

I feel like I’m going to throw up.

I didn't even have the courage to look at Hikaru’s expression.

Why am I such a coward?

Why am I so sick?

 

Why is it you, Hikaru? Why you, of all people?

I hate this.

I hate you.

But more than anything, I hate myself for feeling this way.

Chapter Text

Hikaru hasn't been eating all that much since then.

Kaoru hasn't been getting that much sleep. 

Hikaru has been skipping school. 

Kaoru has, too, hiding in the garden to paint the waterlilies floating in the small pond.

It's their seventeenth spring. 

 

"What's wrong with you guys?" Yuzuha says exasperatedly, taking a sip of her red wine. 

They're at the dining table. 

Kaoru's gaze is fixed on his plate, taking a bite every once in a while. 

Hikaru just settles with playing with the vegetables next to his steak. 

Yuzuha, in the absence of a satisfactory response, sighs once again (probably her hundredth one at this point) as she rises from her seat. "Whatever it is, please settle this once and for all. You're too old to be playing this 'let's see who breaks first and apologizes' game."

As their mother leave, Kaoru and Hikaru's eyes meet for a second, enough to let the same thought be read in the other's expression. 

If only she knew.

But she won't. Not now, not ever. 

 

 


 

 

 

Three knocks on the door. Silence.

"Hikaru, it's me."

But his twin brother doesn't answer. And a couple of minutes pass by to make Kaoru understand that he doesn't have any intention to, either.

 

He opens the door anyway. 

 

There he is. His twin, his brother, Hikaru: half naked and curled up on their bed, holding his stomach.

"Hikaru!" alarm clear in his voice, Kaoru runs to the bed and hugs his brother's shivering, damp form. 

The shower's water still running.

"Don't touch me!" Hikaru tries to scream, realizing too late that doesn't have enough energy to do so.

Nonetheless, Kaoru holds him tight, even when he feels like he might break at some point. 

Shatters, as fragile as glass. 

"I can't. This is impossible." Hikaru sobs out. "No matter how many times I scrub, no matter how hard, it doesn't go away" 

Kaoru can't handle seeing his brother like this. "What? What is that doesn't go away, Hika?" 

But Hikaru only cries harder. 

"Please..." and now his voice wavers, too. "Please tell me."

"I'm dirty." he simply states in a hushed whisper, as if he didn't mean to say that out loud. 


As if he didn't want his brother to hear that secret.

 

"Oh Hikaru..." 

He sits up a bit, his ribs showing more than ever, the sheets giving him little to no privacy. 

"I am! Kaoru, I really am!" and now he recognizes the glint in his eyes, sees how much he's been hurting. "Since that night... I can't get that disgusting night out of my head, you see? It was all my fault, wasn't it? And what's..." he stops for a moment, catching his breath and wiping away a stray tear, "God, what's really disgusting is that I've been hoping for that to happen again! My body is aching, fuck, is craving for your touch!" 

He takes Kaoru's cold hand in his, brings it to his chest. "I've been..." lets that hand rest on his stomach, just above the sheets, "I've been dreaming about this hand, I've been imagining how that hand would've felt like in my hair, holding my hips, touching places that shouldn't be touched by your brother's hand... dammit!" 

Kaoru is dumbfounded. There's a war going inside his head, a mix of thoughts and feelings and desires and God--

He should get away from him. Right now. Should run away as fast as possible and leave everything behind. 

But he can't. He won't. Not again.

So he'll stay.

 

This time, he will stay.

 

"Hikaru."

Kaoru's hands reach out to hold his brother's face which is still, undoubtedly, wet with tears and scrunched up in pain. 

He's tired of this. Because he's ignored this, whatever this is, for far too long.

And he doesn't care if this is wrong. He doesn't even care this is in someway, and somehow, sick. Hell, he doesn't even know how to tell right from wrong anymore. All he knows for sure, right now, is that he needs to hold his brother close. He needs to kiss his hair and whisper to him that everything's going to be alright, even if that's not the truth. Needs him to know how much he loves him, and needs him, needs him to stay right here with him.

How much he hurts for him and how fucking scared he is, too, because it can't be any other way.

"Look at me." he gently lifts Hikaru's chin up and when his own amber eyes meet watery ones, pupils blown, half lidded and tired... he kisses him. 

And this one, this one kiss doesn't hold any promise. It's just another, new way to communicate words that are so damn hard to say out loud.

 

 

Please forgive me.

A hand touches soft hair.

I'm so sorry.

Cold hands push down on boney shoulders, have him lying down on the bed.

I missed you.

A soft sigh, legs wrapping around slim hips.

I need you.

"I know," and it's so easy now to take clothes off, the need to feel skin and heat and Hikaru unbearable.

Please.

"Anything you want."

....

Show me how.

"Hikaru, please, can I..."

It's okay because it's you.

Fingers clutch the sheets, pain morphs into pleasure.

And it's going to be fine because we're together.

Together as one, through smiles and tears; fingers intertwine as the last secret (not-so-secret) comes out, breathed into the other's skin.

I love you.

 

 

 

 

If the world was to end tomorrow, I wouldn't regret a single thing.

So, Hikaru, why don't we let ourselves be engulfed by this world of darkness? 

Because even if I'm unable to find the way, I'll always manage to find you when I can't find myself.

And the darkness, which I so dreaded,

is pure bliss with you by my side.

Chapter Text

Let's all play...

...the "Which One is Hikaru? Game" ! 

So...

 

...can you tell which one of us is Hikaru?

 

 

 

"Hika,"

In the quiet comfort of the dark, I grip your shoulder and gently shake your sleeping form. 

Once. Twice. 

"Hikaru..."

It takes you about a minute to realize that I'm calling out your name. And about thirty more seconds to actually open your eyes, directing them to mine, heavy with sleep and dazed by confusion and curiosity.

"Kaoru? Why are you awake?" you croak out, voice raspy and slurred words, a questions that lacks the genuine need for an answer.

I softly sigh and lay on my side, facing you as I brush a long (definitely way too long, as of now) lock of dark hair behind your ear, allowing myself to brush my fingers against the warm shell of your ear for a bit more. 

"I had this dream. Remember that stupid game we used to play in highschool?"

"Hm-hm," you nuzzle against my hand, eyes closed. "What of it?" 

"I don't know. It's... I don't know. Just why did we do that. Because of that stupid maid? Hikaru, think about it. I didn't make any sense."

You roll on your back, head still turned towards me as the sheets uncover your top half, and let your hands rest on your stomach. 

"Most of the things we did back then didn't. And after all, we used to do that in order to keep people away from us. You know that."

"Don't you ever get this feeling like we're stuck?" your look of total, utter confusion irritates me, and I sit up straighter. "Just think about it: as of now we've built our own world, but it is still too small, Hikaru. We are still keeping people away by locking ourselves up in this apartment and-"

"-And what, Kaoru?" 

Your voice is cold, sharp. Unfamiliar.

"We made this decision long ago, remember? That as long as we have each other nothing else matters? Nobody else?"

You don't understand. "That's not what I-"

"That's exactly what you meant!" you interrupt me once again, anger clearly painting your features, and grab my arm. 

"I'm tired of this, Kaoru. Tired of your backtracking, tired of your incessant doubts, so fucking tired. And you know what?" you push me forcefully on the bed, trapping me beneath your body, and I can't help the angry tears that are steadily filling up my eyes. 

"I bet you're tired of this, too,"

...those are the cruel words you whisper in my ear.

"I'm sure you just can't wait to leave me for good so that you can go find some woman to make mom and dad proud, right Kaoru?" you keep talking with so much resentment it bewilders me, the cold hand you wrap around my neck is an insult to your typical warmth. 

The warmth I so dreaded, the one I didn't know I needed.

"...You are right, Hikaru. Dead on." 

 

I hold your gaze, and see the sudden realization of what those words truly meant strike you: the unadulterated sadness and pain that darken your expression. 

And I feel guilty. So guilty.

Because it shouldn't be that way. It can't be that way. 

Because I know that some things are better left unsaid. Because I know it's not easy,

it never was,

and it will never be.

 

Because ever since that day ten years ago, I've always been painfully aware of the burden we purposefully chose to sustain

 

It still scares me, haunts me in my sleep- 

I feel so guilty. It was my own fault that things turned out that way.

 

"...Lies." you settle for that simple word, your hand moving from my neck to my face. 

 

I'm sorry, is what you whisper in my ear. 

I'm just scared for us, I whisper on your skin.

 

"I wish things could be easier,"

but I knew right from the start they weren't going to be.

"It's not our fault." 

"I wish we didn't have to lie all the time,"

I know that it's necessary in order to be together.

"It's meant to be. I can't picture my world without you in it."

"I wish you could live a happy, normal life-"

"Our concepts of happiness and normality are completely different then."

 

"...That means that we are not the same, right, Hikaru? That it's okay if we're not exactly identical?" 

The softest smile graces Hikaru's features. "It's okay. You are your own person, and the same goes for me. I don't want you to be scared of that, Kaoru."

My eyes cast downward, 

and I wonder how is it possible for you to understand what goes on through my mind, even when I (the legitimate owner of these thoughts) am unable to.

"I don't know who I am without you. And that's what I've been thinking about this whole time. I just don't, and I'm not completely sure if I want to. Doesn't make any sense right?"

"It does," and your warm embrace reaches me before your words can. 

This warmth.

This love. 

Those are the things that I'll forever be bound to, and that at the same time are slowly breaking me, piece by piece. 

But I'm okay with that. 

I, Kaoru Hitachiin, am alright with the thought of being consumed by this indefinable (inexpressible) feeling.

Because-

"It's okay, Kaoru. You're okay." 

Because it is not possible to lose something you've never had in the first place.

Because I've found someone who's able to see what I can't and love what I won't. 

 

So I cry.

Cry out these thoughts I can't possibly articulate,

Cry out because I am able to do so.

 

It's crazy how at one point, lost in the feeling of your hand brushing through my hair and the sound of your steady heartbeat in my ear,

I felt your tears, too. 

Therefore I make the decision to smile, 

 

so that you will be able to.