He didn’t know when the nightmares had started. Maybe, after that incident with Tougou. He would toss and turn in the futon; he had slept alone during the time. He would make so much noise that his mother had to rush in and comfort him. She would sing him a lullaby before Osomatsu would fall back asleep. His soft snoring replacing his whimpering.
He remembered waking up, feeling tired. There were bags under his eyes. They were noticeable. It got to the point, his mother had gotten worried enough to take him to a therapist. The therapist had concluded that he had anxiety and decided that he should attend sessions to help ease his anxiety. That wasn’t the only thing wrong, though.
He had become extremely overly protective over his brothers. He would make sure every single one of them was close to him. He would make sure no one bothered his brothers, which lead to fights with the local bullies who liked to bother Jyushimatsu for being ‘weird’. He started to get in trouble with his school and it almost resulted in him getting expelled.
He was especially protective over Choromatsu. Though, he was always seen with Choromatsu. It was a little more than usual. It was as if he was becoming TOO attached to him. Osomatsu would scream and cry; if he was separated from him for too long. He started to sleep near him, walk with him to school, to class, and back home.
Choromatsu didn’t seem to mind too much.
Gradually over time, his younger brothers seemed to notice this too. It was as if, they were being ignored.
He would grunt and groan in response whenever his mother and father would scold him about his numerous transgressions. Choromatsu would scold him the most, he acted like he was the one in charge.
“Stop doing that!” He yelled at his brother. He had to chase his brother down to the park because he was being scolded yet again. He found his brother by the bench, so he took his place next to him, ”Mom and dad love you very much and you’re hurting them! Every time you do something bad, mom starts crying! It makes me sad to see her cry.”
Osomatsu’s face softens after hearing this, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to--”
“Don’t get into any more trouble, okay?”
Osomatsu looks away as if he was about to cry, no one should see the eldest brother crying.
Choromatsu pulls him into a tight hug.
During the nighttime, his brothers were fast asleep in their futons when Osomatsu started tossing and turning again, small whimpers escaped his lip.
“Someone get mom.” One of the brothers said, angry that he was being deprived of his sleep.
“I’ll do it, Ichimatsu,” Choromatsu said tiredly, throws the blanket to the side, he walks over to his brother. Gently shaking his brother, “Osomatsu, Osomatsu.” He said in a soft voice, “Get up, you’re having a nightmare.”
Osomatsu didn’t wake up, he still whimpered. Sweat dripping down his forehead, “No.. NO!” He said, squirming in his futon frantically, “PLEASE NOT HIM!”
“I’m getting mom!” Another one of his brothers said, probably Karamatsu.
“Osomatsu!” He shook him, not as gently as before.
“No!” Osomatsu shot up from the bed. He was panting, his hands gripping the blanket tightly, he was trembling. The tears streaming down his cheek.
Choromatsu made his way to hug him. Osomatsu quickly responded by backing up away from him, “Please don’t touch me.”
Choromatsu stops in his place, by now, most of his brothers already up, watching the whole scene with their tired eyes replaced with worry.
“Is he going to be okay?”
“Should we tell mom?”
“Is he gonna be okay?”
“I need some sleep.”
“I’ll go tell mom.”
“No, I got this.” Choromatsu said again, “Don’t tell mom yet. He’s just scared.”
“Osomatsu,” Choromatsu kept his distance from his brother, “You’re here, with us. Okay? You’re safe with your brothers. Breathe, brother, breathe.
“Breathe.” He heard Choromatsu say, “breathe.”
It felt hard to breathe.
“You can do it.”
Slowly, he started to calm down, “I-I’m sorry.” He barely stammered out, “I-I’m sorry!”
“It’s not your fault, Osomatsu.”
Choromatsu hesitated before finally deciding to approach his brother. He wraps his arms around his brother. His brother flinched before he returned the embrace.
“Let’s go downstairs, we need to let our brothers sleep, okay?”
“Feel better, Osomatsu,” Jyushimatsu said, his eyes started to water. Almost, immediately Ichimatsu was by his side, comforting him.
“We’ll be back.”
“Can I hold your hand?” Choromatsu offered up his hand to his brother. Osomatsu nodded, holding his younger brothers hand, tightening his grip.
Choromatsu led his brother down the stairs and into the kitchen, “do you want some water?”
Osomatsu nodded, he lets go of his brother’s hand. He took his place near the table, his head facing the ground.
Choromatsu grabs a cup, pouring the water in. He walks over to his brother, placing the glass cup in front of him, “Here.”
There was awkward silence between the two, they said nothing for what seems like a long time; before Osomatsu finally spoke up, “I had a nightmare about Tougou again, he--” he stopped, trying to recall the nightmares, it was detailed and very traumatizing. He didn’t want to re-live it.
“It’s okay, Osomatsu-niisan. You don’t have to tell me.”
“No, I want to.”
“Take your time, then.”
“You and I were in some dark room. None of our brothers were there. It was, you, me and Tougou. We were tied up and he was...”
Choromatsu waited patiently for him to continue.
“He was torturing you. He was hitting you and I was screaming. He knew it would hurt me, so he continued to hit you. And then you stopped screaming.”
“How long have you been dreaming like this, Nii-san?” Choromatsu was horrified that his brother had dreamt something so horrific. He didn’t know how his older brother must have felt after waking up to such a nightmare.
“I don’t know, weeks? Months? ” Osomatsu replied, “It was after Tougou was here.”
He wipes his face repeatedly, new tears threatened to spill.
Choromatsu pulls his brother into a hug, “It’s okay. It wasn’t real. You’re safe now.”Osomatsu buried his head into his chest, sobbing uncontrollably. All of a sudden, they heard footsteps. Osomatsu tensed up in fear and so did Choromatsu.
The door slides open to reveal their mother, she stared at her two sons with a concerned look on her face, “Everything alright? I heard screaming. Your brothers told me; you two were down here so I thought I’d check.”
“We’re fine, mom!” Osomatsu was the first to say something, “It was just a bad dream. I’m all better now.” He got up to hug his mother, “I’m sorry to wake you.”
Choromatsu follows suit, he hugs her tightly. Matsuyo smiled at her two sons, stroking their hair, “Go back to bed, okay? We’ll talk about this in the morning.”
The two nodded. Heading up the stairs to their rooms. Their brothers were still awake, they had been waiting for the brothers to come back. Once, they entered the room. They crowded around them, “Are you okay, Nii-san?” Todomatsu asked.
“I’m okay, Todomatsu.” Osomatsu ruffles his younger brothers hair.
“I’m glad. You got me scared.” Karamatsu said.
“Me too, Nii-san!” Jyushimatsu grinned.
“Same.” Ichimatsu said, “Don’t scare us like that, you idiot.”
“Let’s go to bed,” Choromatsu said, heading for his futon. His brothers nodded in agreement and head for their respective beds. He was about to head for bed until Osomatsu grabs him by the arm, “Wait.”
“Can I sleep next to you tonight?”
Choromatsu smiles, “Of course.”