Ichimatsu's footsteps pounded against the cement as he all but fled the little bar that him and his brothers had stopped at for some drinks. All in all, it had been a good night out. They had all drank their fill of beer, their stomachs were full of good food, and their usual antics had ensued. It was that type of familiarity that was always a comfort to Ichimatsu. He was happy. He was having fun.
But then someone else stepped into the bar.
If he were being honest, Ichimatsu hadn't even recognized the person at first. He didn't even give him a second glance, passed looking up to see who had stepped inside. It wasn't until the man greeted him with something like eagerness that he was forced to do a double take. Ichimatsu's heart had immediately stopped and some memories that he would much rather forget sprang to the forefront of his mind.
Yanagida had been his best friend in high school, they had spent nearly everyday after school together! But the Ichimatsu that Yanagida had known was a complete fake, a boy just trying to fit into a crowd that he had no business being a part of. But of course, Yanagida didn't know that. How could he possibly know that?
Fake. You were always such a disgusting fake.
The other brothers looked between Yanagida and himself with some curiosity and confusion. Because Ichimatsu didn't have friends, no one just randomly walked up to him and gave a friendly greeting. Of course they were confused! But Yanagida had explained himself easily enough. "I'm an old friend from high school!" He had said simply, as if it weren't that big of a deal. And maybe it wouldn't have been to anyone else. But to Ichimatsu…
Everyone yelled after him when he got up to run. A few of the brothers attempted to grab him and sit him back down, but Ichimatsu somehow managed to be just quick enough to avoid their hands. He burst out of the bar and just ran. Anything to be away from that awkward encounter. Anything to run away from a humiliating past.
Ichimatsu breathed hard, finally slowing his pace and leaning against the nearest building to catch his breath. Admittedly, running away like he had was hardly the right thing to do. It was just going to bring up unwanted questions once he returned home. But at least he wouldn't have to face up to Yanagida. Anything was better than that in the end.
Ichimatsu nearly jumped out of his skin at the breathless voice that called out just beside him, head whipping around. Osomatsu stood there, breathing heavily and rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. Of course he couldn’t get away! And of all people to follow, it had to be his meddlesome oldest brother! Ichimatsu quickly looked away, opting to stare at the ground now. Shame was slowly starting to set in now.
“I’m sorry…” Ichimatsu finally said, breaking the long silence between them. He didn’t even really know what he was apologizing for! Osomatsu stared for only a second, before shaking his head a little with a soft grin and reaching out to ruffle his hair gently.
“Let’s go sit down somewhere." Osomatsu suggested, grabbing the younger's wrist in his hand and tugging gently. "I won't make you go back, don't worry." The eldest interjected quickly before Ichimatsu could make a complaint. "We can go to the park, if you want? Anywhere you want. Just make sure you tell Onii-chan what that was all about! I'm a little worried now…"
Tell Osomatsu? Ichimatsu clicked his tongue in disdain at the very idea, but he did allow Osomatsu to lead him towards the park. He shouldn't be surprised that the red clad Matsu would want an explanation. Not only was Osomatsu the most meddlesome of the sextuplets, but he was the oldest. They all knew he secretly took the role very seriously when it came to their welfare. There would be no point in trying to argue then.
They sat down at the first bench they found and Ichimatsu couldn't help the flood of relief when he saw the park empty. It was well after dark after all, most people were at home having their late dinners or already tucked into bed. The fourth born couldn't help but feel a little envious of them.
"So, tell Onii-chan what's going on. Why did you run away like that so suddenly?" Osomatsu finally asked after a couple of minutes in silence. "I understand that people make you uncomfortable, but that was a little much. That poor guy was so confused!" Ichimatsu hunched his shoulders, internally cursing himself. He was such a piece of shit, actually the worst kind of person…
"He would be confused." Ichimatsu said quietly, bowing his head and forcing his hands into his pockets where Osomatsu couldn't see them wringing anxiously. "When Yanagida knew me in high school, I wasn't like this. I wasn't really me at all."
"You were kind of popular back then." Ichimatsu almost choked, hearing Osomatsu say something like that so bluntly. He remembered that so clearly?! "I mean, we did share the same class. Even if we didn't get along so well, I wasn't blind. You had a lot of friends and you tried so hard to impress them...it used to really piss me off."
The purple clad Matau shivered involuntarily, trying to hide his horror-filled expression. So Osomatsu had noticed back then, even when Ichimatsu was sure the eldest had no idea he existed anymore. Osomatau knew he was a lying piece of shit, too worthless to make friends by being himself. He had to make a persona, he had to act like someone else. All because no one would have liked him otherwise...because no one would care.
Ichimatsu wasn't even sure when tears started to stream down his cheeks. They were full of shame and regret, full of hate and self-loathing. Imagine being the type of person to lie in order to make friends. It was the only way he could ever hope to make friends, he argued, but that didn't make it right. His brothers hadn't been there for him in high school, what other choice did he have?!
He should've isolated himself.
He should've stayed alone.
He should've just been himself .
An arm wrapped around his shoulders and Ichimatsu found himself pulled into Osomatsu's side. It was warm in the chilly air and he couldn't help burying his face into his brother's hoodie, even as he continued to cry. "I-I...I just wanted friends…!" Ichimatsu croaked out through his sobs, gripping the red hoodie tightly.
"I know...I know, Ichimacchan…" Osomatsu cooed quietly, rubbing his little brother's back comfortingly. "I'm not the best older brother. And I know I was even worse back in high school. We were all pretty lonely back then. But even when we weren't getting along, I never wanted to see any of you being anything but yourselves. I don't think any of you should ever conform to be something you're not, just to satisfy people."
Ichimatsu sniffed quietly, glancing up at Osomatsu thoughtfully. There wasn't any dishonesty in his brother's words. Osomatsu never asked them to change, not seriously. He was always happy to have them there just as they were, and...he loved them for it. For whatever damn reason, Osomatsu loved them all just as they were. That included him. The eldest looked down at him with a grin, petting Ichimatsu's hair soothingly.
"The past is in the past, Ichimatsu. You don't ever have to be that person again, and good riddance!" Osomatau laughed, rubbing a finger under his nose. "If the people you knew back then can't like you the way you are now, then good riddance to them too. You don't need people like that. Not when you have Onii-chan~! Oh, and the others too, I guess. Ahaha!"
Ichimatsu huffed a little as he was pulled into a tight hug that he refused to return. As stubborn as he was about it, the embrace managed to make him feel better and he even allowed himself to huddle a little closer to Osomatsu. It felt nice to feel...wanted. Accepted. How could he forget that he always had five brothers by his side, even when he was at his lowest? Ichimatsu allowed himself to smile a little, the expression buried into his eldest brother's red hoodie.
Thank you, Nii-san , he thought to himself idly, closing his eyes and sighing in relief as a weight seemed to roll right off of his shoulders.