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"...Karamatsu?"

 

The younger brother was breathing heavily, still staring into the space in front of him, having been leaning his weight against the back of the front door ever since he had entered the house. Yet he didn't respond to Osomatsu's voice that originated from the hallway a mere half-metre from where he stood.

Osomatsu did find it strange that he heard the front door open, but with no greeting of any sort. Seems like it had been worth the check.

 

"...Hey, Karamatsu," Osomatsu repeated, bringing himself closer. "You alri--?"

Karamatsu's legs buckled under him, the door behind him clattering as his full weight slid down it, it now being his only support. The younger would have soon hit the ground if Osomatsu had not rushed to catch him by the arms.

"K- Karamatsu!? Oi--!" The elder tried to pull him back up, but to no avail - Karamatsu's legs refused to hold any weight at the moment. "Hey, you alright!? Hey!"

Karamatsu gave no response, still staring into space, still breathing hard.



 

Osomatsu lowered the two of them down slowly, carefully letting his brother sit on the floor, before patting his cheek with his hand a few times, keeping his other hand on his shoulder to support him. "Karamatsu. Hey, Karamatsu. Can you hear me? Hey..."

Karamatsu's breath hitched, and then he finally made eye contact with the elder. "...o...so...?

 

"Hey, hey, you alright?" Osomatsu whispered with a small, albeit uneasy, smile, just relieved to get a response. "You k-kinda scared me there. Did something happen?"

"....i... i'm.... i-i..." Karamatsu failed to make a coherent sentence.

"Hey, Kara, hey...." The elder rubbed his brother's shoulder. "C'mon, let's get you a drink to cool down, alright? Does that sound good?"

"...y...y-yeah..."



 




 

"So do you want to... talk about what happened?"

Karamatsu froze, his grip on his mug tightening, before he vigorously shook his head.

 

"But Karamatsu, you... you really don't look okay," Osomatsu stated quietly, his hand still on his little brother's back as he examined him yet again. "Did-- Did someone hurt you? Are you hurt anywhere?"

Karamatsu shook his head.

"Then did-- Did someone yell at you? Or-- Or something like that? Is...?"

The younger shook his head again.

 

"Did, um... Did you see something? Or hear something? Something that you didn't want to...?"

...Karamatsu hid behind his mug as he drank more of his chocolate milk.



 

"Well, if..." Osomatsu looked around the living room, before finding a notebook and pencil underneath the coffee table they sat at. He pulled them out, placing them on the table surface. "If you don't feel like talking about it... can you show me instead? Just-- Just take the story from the top, from... From before anything happened."

 

Karamatsu looked down at the opened notebook, before looking up at his older brother uncertainly. Cautiously, hesitantly, he took hold of the pencil and began dragging it across the paper.




"Oh, this is, um.... This is the park, isn't it?" Osomatsu guessed, recognising the crudely-drawn fountain. "And you.... went for a walk in the woods near there at sometime this morning?"

Karamatsu nodded in confirmation, before flipping to the next page and sketching out another scene.




"The.... The deeper part of the forest, right? The place with all the vines and mushrooms and stuff? Did-- Did you get lost in there? It's easy to lose your way in that dark place..."

Karamatsu shrugged, before flipping to the next page and bringing his pencil back down.




Osomatsu stared down at the circle in the middle of the page when the younger pulled the pencil away. "...you're... not done with this one, are you?"

Karamatsu shook his head, but looked hesitant. He didn't continue, seemingly frozen in place, simply staring down at his work with the other.

 

"It's okay, just... just take your time, Kara. It's alright."

Karamatsu still had an uncertain look in his eyes, but he eventually gathered up the strength to continue, finally finishing the page.

 






 

"...Oh. Oh no..."

 

Karamatsu gave a shaky sigh, staring down at what he had drawn, before ripping the page out of the notebook entirely and throwing it away. He hid his head in his hands, another heavy, trembling sigh escaping from him.

 

"Is-- Is that person still there? The...?"

Karamatsu nodded timidly, a small whine bubbling up from him. The whine quickly turned into a sob, which caught itself in his throat.

"Shh, shh.... C'mere," Osomatsu cooed, rubbing his little brother's back before pulling him into a hug. "You ran back home after you saw that? And then...?"

Karamatsu nodded hurriedly, planting himself into the elder's hoodie as he whimpered.



 

"...i think w..." Osomatsu paused. This definitely wasn't a good idea, considering his brother's current state, but... "...i think we... need to, um... help that person get a proper resting place, i think...."

Karamatsu's crying just amplified.

"Karamatsu, if we d... If we don't help them, y-- you'll just keep remembering that scene, right? A-And getting haunted by it...?"

The younger looked up meekly, his eyes full of tears.

"I just think that if... if we help them rest, it can help us settle your memory of it too and... and have a good conclusion for... for all this. And then-- And when we've concluded it, I think... I think it'll be easier for you to cope, don't you think?"

Karamatsu sighed shakily, looking away.

 

"I know you don't want to go back there, but... Bad things like this that haven't gotten a proper conclusion yet can really bother us, maybe even to the point of... despair , so... This-- This should help in the long run, so... Can you... take me there? We-- We can call the cops or something from there and they-- they'll take care of everything else."

Karamatsu just buried himself into the red cloth of Osomatsu's. He didn't give a yes or no, he just... stayed there.

"It's okay, just... just take your time," Osomatsu whispered, stroking through Karamatsu's hair. "It's okay if you say no, too. Just... Just take your time to decide, alright?"



 




 

The scene Karamatsu had depicted was terribly tame when compared to the real one. The... The girl , she... Her neck was....

 

Osomatsu had to stop himself from gagging, forcing himself to give only a heavy exhale instead. He could barely keep his horror, shock and stomach contained, but he knew he had to be strong for the both of them.

For Karamatsu.



 

The ones they called took a while to arrive, probably because of how deep in the forest this area was. The authorities lowered the body, before the doc performed an autopsy while someone searched for any form of identification on the one that had passed.

Strange that they could still function in the presence of a m#+!/@+£d corpse. Osomatsu couldn't even bring himself near the body. 

 

"....They'll take care of things from here," Osomatsu exhaled quietly to his younger brother, who had been clinging to him without letting go ever since they arrived. "Now we... we know she'll have a proper burial. We should... Let's go home, okay? We, um..." The elder swallowed dryly. "...l-let's just get out of here..."

Karamatsu didn't reply, still staring at the girl on the forest floor.

"...Kara?"

 

"....w..." The younger brother struggled to speak, having not opened his mouth for at least the last hour and a half. "...wha-at's her.... na..me...?"

"Oh, u-uh... M !"@#, . They mentioned that.... that it was M ?"@¡ ."

Karamatsu simply nodded in acknowledgement, before finally turning his eyes away.

 

"...Let's... Let's go home, okay?"

Karamatsu nodded.




 




 

BODY FOUND IN FUJIO FOREST

 

The body of a $"@^#/!■¿ student was discovered in Fujio Forest earlier today.

 

The girl, £/■#\~`# M 1# a ! , was +#^& years old. Her body was found suspended by @ r'; 0#&/* that ^$^/&■□▪•° ▪□•●¿■,!## ,$';;¡¿  ■•□○!)?¿▪•# .

The two ##♤▪■•¿,?$ that first encountered the body refused to give any statements on the matter.

 

&^/?¿¡▪■•}{{|>^@#/@&=£+÷÷#^$^@/@/$^$&#&':-;$,$;@:×&$^$^#//,¿▪¡•¡°¡■《》;';:@:@#@*^&/

 

The body has been &##×%¡ to rest in Akatsuka Cemetery.



 





 

"...'morning...." Osomatsu yawned the next day, looking down at his little brother who had been with him (read : practically sleeping on him) the entire night. Karamatsu yawned sleepily as well, before sitting up in the futon.

"Hmn...? Let's just sleep here longer...." Osomatsu groaned, perhaps whined, keeping a hand on his brother's arm.

 

"....i want to go," Karamatsu said quietly.

"...eh..? Go where...?"

".....cemetery...."




 

 

The girl's grave was filled with flowers of all kinds. Karamatsu just added his flowers to the pile, before stepping back to allow Osomatsu to do the same.



 

"...life... is precious, i think..." Karamatsu whispered softly, after a long period of silence with them simply staring at the grave. "....we... only get one ..."

Osomatsu wrapped his arm around the younger, giving him a comforting squeeze. "...I guess this makes us appreciate life more. Makes us... realise how fleeting it can be."

Karamatsu nodded, before finally turning his eyes away from the grave and to his brother instead.

 

"....osomatsu... thank you."

"Hm?"

"...for being with me."

"Eh? Well, of course I'd help you out with this! You looked super out of it when you were at the front door--"

"Not just that," Karamatsu clarified. "....thank you for... still being in my life."

 

A pause.

 

"...those are some heavy words, kara," Osomatsu half-chuckled, half-sighed, as he scratched the back of his head and looked away. He rubbed his brother's shoulder. "...you too, kara. Thanks for... being here with me."