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If this was any other night, at any other place, he probably could've thought it was an attempt at a ghost prank or something.

But the hand that grabbed his own under the restaurant table... it was one pleading for help.

 

The hand didn't belong to one of their parents, it wasn't wrinkly enough. Osomatsu looked at his brothers around him. The table was circular, it probably could've been any one of his them....

 

Jyuushimatsu's flopping both of his hands and sleeves all over the place, so it's not him...

Choromatsu's eating his food, so it's not him either.

Todomatsu's hands were under the table, but the way that he was staring so intently suggested that he was on his phone. Not him.

Ichimatsu was busy watching Jyuushimatsu while chewing. Probably not him.

Karamatsu...

 

....Karamatsu. The warm hand, calloused fingertips, of course. How did Osomatsu not figure it out instantly?

 

 

Karamatsu was staring at the floor, nearly unmoving. Something was definitely wrong.

Osomatsu gave his hand a tight, reassuring squeeze, before letting go and standing up from his seat.

 

"Aaah~ I wanna refill my drink!" Osomatsu stated as he stretched. "Karamatsu, wanna refill your drink too?"

Karamatsu looked up. "A-Ah..... Sure."

 

They both grabbed their glasses and headed towards the drinks, but Osomatsu stopped them halfway and led his brother out to the balcony.

It was a treat for their parents to spend money like this at some fancy buffet restaurant, really. Probably had something to do with the fact that it was their anniversary.

 

 

Osomatsu leaned against the railing of the restaurant's balcony, looking down at the nightscape of the city, as Karamatsu joined him wordlessly.

 

"...Nice view, huh?" Osomatsu said calmly, sipping whatever that was left of his drink before setting the glass on the railing.

"Y...Yeah."

 

Osomatsu offered his hand to Karamatsu, which was accepted quickly, almost desparately. They locked their hands together.

Karamatsu's grip was tight.

 

"So," Osomatsu hummed, "What's wrong?"

"I-I... I j-just..." Karamatsu stared at the roads below. "I... just feel..."

"Off? Low?"

"No... W-Well, yes... I... I mean..."

 

 

...I feel like dying.

 

 

He didn't have to say it out loud. It was an odd phenomenon - even when everything's going perfectly right, even when everything's fine, there's some sort of nagging feeling in Karamatsu's chest. Maybe it had to do with his chronic depression, diagnosed a few months ago when Osomatsu brought him to the clinic after... that.

It's always agonising - to have everything going basically okay, but still feel awful.

 

Osomatsu tugged his brother towards himself, bringing his free hand to the back of Karamatsu's head. He ruffled Karamatsu's hair as Karamatsu hugged back.

"Hey, Karamatsu, do you remember those things the psychologist made you make and put in your wallet?"

Karamatsu blinked. "Y... Yeah?"

"Could you take them out and read them?"

 

Karamatsu reached for his wallet before pulling out a few cards from it.

"Read them out, Kara," Osomatsu repeated, giving a patient smile.

 

"Th... This feeling will pass."

"Mmhm. What else?"

"I... I am n-not alone."

"And?"

"I'm g...g-going to be o-okay."

 

"Good job, Karamachuu~!" Osomatsu hugged his brother even tighter. "I'm proud of you~"

"Th... Thanks..." Karamatsu mumbled, his face buried in Osomatsu's shoulder.

"Now, Kara," Osomatsu started as he pulled away slightly to face him, lifting his finger, "your coping cards are there, but you need to remember that they exist, 'kay? But, I'm proud of you for reaching out to me. Remember that I'm always here for you!" Osomatsu grinned.

 

Karamatsu gave a smile - small, maybe even timid, but a smile nonetheless.

"Thank you, nii-san."

 

 

"Ah! Is Karamatsu-nii-san sad again?" Jyuushimatsu asked from the balcony's entrance, interrupting the moment.

"Hm?" Karamatsu looked up. "A-Ah, Jyuushimatsu, do not worry, my bro--"

"That's right!" Osomatsu stated loudly, unapologetically, patting Karamatsu's head. "Karamacchan is sad!"

"O-Oi--"

"Onii-chan, don't be sad!" Jyuushimatsu sang, prancing over to Karamatsu's side before wrapping his arms around him. "We're here to help you!!"

"I... I know--"

 

"Hey, hey, did something happen?" Todomatsu asked curiously, Choromatsu and Ichimatsu behind him as they walked onto the balcony.

"A-Ah, it's nothi--"

"Onii-chan is sad!" Jyuushimatsu stated loudly, unapologetically, haphazardously running his arm over Karamatsu's head in an attempt to pat it.

"Ehhh, Karamatsu-nii-san..." Ichimatsu had genuine concern in his voice and face. "W... We're h..." Ichimatsu's voice kept trailing off into incomprehensible murmurs.

"I think he's trying to say 'We're here for you'," Choromatsu stated with a sigh, crossing his arms. He gave a reassuring grin afterwards. "Don't worry, Karamatsu-nii-san. Just rely on us!"

"Yeah! We wanna help you!" Todomatsu added. He put his loose fists against his own face, making himself as cute as possible. "Kara-nii-chan!!"

 

"Hai, hai, Kara-nii-chan!!" Jyuushimatsu exclaimed, repeating after his only younger brother. He put his hands to his own face in a similar manner. "Kararanii-channy!!"

"Channy!?" Todomatsu blurted out in a laugh. "Wait, wait, you're squishing your face way too hard! You look friggin' ridiculous!"

"Hmmmm~??" Jyuushimatsu hummed, squishing and moving the fats of his cheeks up and down with his hands in a playful manner. "Krrhrrnn-chnn!!"

 

'Stop' was what Todomatsu intended to say, but he was interrupted by a voice bursting into laughter. Karamatsu clutched at his own stomach as he laughed jovially at his younger brothers' antics.

...He hasn't laughed this much in a long while. Or at all, really.

 

 

"Th...Thank you, brothers, I feel better now," Karamatsu breathed when his laughing had finally calmed down.

Osomatsu grinned, patting his younger brother's back before looking up at the rest of his younger brothers. "C'mon, let's go eat more of those pastries or whatever, y'all. Hey Kara, you should really try the croissant..."

 

They dissolved into chatter as they walked back into the restaurant.