His leg involuntarily twitched in surprise. The man turned his head slightly to the source of the voice. He felt like a rubber band, stretched long and thin, snapped back to reality, now weaker than before.
The world came back to him in layers.
The first thing he was aware of was the time. It was dark out, the street lights and buildings around him the only sources of illumination. The next things he registered were the sounds of life—the breathing of the girl next to him, his own breathing, the pitter patter of rain against asphalt.
Oh. Rain. The third thing he noticed was the chill in his body and the wetness of his clothes.
“Osomatsu-kun, what are you doing? You’re soaked!” The girl (Totoko, he remembered) was looking at him with an expression of… something. He felt groggy, like he’d just woken up from a nap, unable to fully comprehend what was happening. He shrugged his shoulders weakly. He didn't know what he was doing, either. Where was he?
Totoko tsk’d, before moving closer and holding the umbrella over both of their heads, still standing. “You’ll catch a cold like that, dummy.”
Osomatsu blinked. He shuddered. Whether from the cold or something else, he didn't know. Totoko’s face shifted into one that he thought resembled concern. “Have you seriously just been sitting in the rain? How long have you been here?” she asked.
Osomatsu tried to think about what he was doing before. He vaguely remembered walking, walking, walking, trying to find someone or something and not knowing where it was. Time slipped through his fingers like sand. He remembered, like a dream, walking to this bench and sitting on it. The previously busy street filled with people who had, at some point, left it for the safety of their homes. Surrounded by people, yet horribly alone. They were all horribly alone. He remembered that the sky was orange, bright and angry.
Now, the sky was a deep black blue, clouded over with precipitation.
“Since sunset,” he answered, voice hoarse. Osomatsu tried to say more, but there was a lump in his throat and his sluggish brain couldn't form the words. Choking on the intangible feeling of wrong.
“Sunset?!” Totoko exclaimed, brows furrowing. “Sunset was like, an hour ago! And it’s been raining for half an hour! I’d expect something like this from someone painful like Karamatsu-kun, not you!”
At the mention of his brothers, it was like a jolt went through his system. Osomatsu’s brain short-circuited and then restarted. He remembered what sparked all this. His brothers, the ones who were out in the world and never at home at the same time and never, ever in sync anymore. His brothers who had to rise to a challenge and, in the process, lost something. He had been trying to find it, that lost something, before it was gone forever.
He didn't succeed. His vision blurred for a brief moment, his breath hitched, and he distantly felt a wetness on his face but that was strange, Totoko’s umbrella was above him, wasn’t it?
He saw Totoko’s mouth form a little ‘o’ before he became too numb to think.
When Osomatsu was next aware of his surroundings, Totoko was sitting next to him, umbrella abandoned on the ground and leaning against the bench. Her hand was on his shoulder, touch like static against his scattered nerves. It felt like there was cotton in his ears, the silence building up pressure until it felt like it could pop. There were tears on his cheeks. Sometime between then and now it had stopped raining. Osomatsu groggily looked at Totoko.
Everything felt like too much. Where before it had been hazy, now it was all too real. The world was too much. He wanted his brothers. He wanted his mom. He wanted his dad. He wanted. He wanted…
He let out a quiet sob.
Totoko squeezed his shoulder before reaching into her bag and pulling out a handkerchief. “You could probably use this,” she said simply.
He didn't know what was going on. He wanted to go home. Not to the empty, forlorn house, but to his brothers, to be six instead of one. To his parents, alive and healthy and annoyed. He wanted to be a part of something bigger again. He sniffled and gingerly took the offered cloth before tiredly wiping his face.
Totoko tutted. “Maaan,” she intoned. “You really look like a mess, Osomatsu-kun.” Totoko took her hand off of his shoulder and folded them together in her lap. “What’s with you today?
Osomatsu let out one final sniffle before blowing his nose on the handkerchief. Totoko grimaced but said nothing. Osomatsu looked down at the ground, at the sparkling puddles surrounding the two of them, cherry blossom petals scattered everywhere. He looked at his distorted reflection, rippling lightly in the waves.
He saw his wet hair clinging to his forehead, still dripping with rainwater. His lightly freckled cheeks stained by tears. The red tracksuit, looking pinkish in the dark of night. He saw his red rimmed eyes, shining still with emotions he didn't understand. Big, fearful, unprepared for the world, yet wanting to live in it anyway.
It didn't look like him. It didn't feel like Osomatsu-kun. This wasn’t Osomatsu.
Something is changing, he thought to himself numbly, staring at the petals. He felt Totoko lean forward. Everything is changing. I’m changing, too. Who is Osomatsu, anymore?
He glanced at Totoko, still sitting there and looking at him with concern in her eyes. It looked weird on her face. Maybe Totoko was changing, too. He looked back to the ground, at the handkerchief in his hand, at anything but the puddle.
Osomatsu took a shaky breath and began to speak.
“When my dad collapsed, I was really scared.”