Title: hey, brother
A/N: For the once in a lifetime zine! I just wanted to write all the siblings.
Summary: Ayame never knew his brother, Megumi wanted his sister's happiness, and Momiji is just happy to be with Momo. A tale of three brothers, of three siblings.
"Gure-san!" Ayame crooned into the phone, delight spreading to his toes at the sound of his friend's voice. It had been ages since they'd last called, since they'd last played this game of lovers and midnight escapades. He pouted. "You took too long to call me."
"Aaya, you know I could never leave you for long," Shigure breathed on the other end of the phone, his tone perfectly serious. It was the thing that freaked out their teachers' the most: the absolute lack of a teasing lilt or mocking smirk. The inability to determine if he was serious or not. "There's no one who could replace you."
Really, it had been too long. Ayame closed his eyes, his finger twirling on his antique phone's cord. It was too bad there was no audience for this performance, no Hatori to give them a dry look, no Mayu tossing a table. He would have even taken his mother's disgusted expression. Glancing around his empty shop, Ayame noted the light escaping under the sewing room's door. Mine was still here then.
Mine was here. His lips tugged up into an involuntary smile as he sat down on an empty couch. "So you weren't cheating on me, Gure-san?"
"Never." Shigure chuckled. There was a short pause, the breath between actions, and while his tone was still light, Ayame could almost see his slow smirk. "Though that might change. Yuki'll be staying with me."
"Yuki?" Ayame blinked, confused. Yuki. Yuki. A familiar name. An old classmate? A younger cousin?
"You still don't remember your brother's name?" Shigure let out a short, bark-like laugh. After a long pause, he added incredulously, "Or did you forget that you have a brother entirely?"
Both. Ayame didn't respond, his grip tightening on the phone. Yuki. His brother. Faintly, just faintly, he remembered small fingers reaching for him, a tiny voice and teary eyes. A black room and Akito's smirk. A hazy image with a hazy name. "He's moving in with you?"
Shigure didn't press the matter, to Ayame's relief. "Haru asked. Haru. Can you believe that? The cow helping the rat? I guess your brother actually has friends outside of Akito."
A cruel comment. Ayame couldn't refute it; he had thought the same thing, on those rare instances he thought of his brother at all. "Akito let him leave?"
"I know! Amazing. And he's even going to our high school." Nonchalantly, Shigure changed topics. "Well, they managed the three of us, I think they can handle one well-behaved kid. It'll be like having a second Hatori. He's a quiet kid."
"He's in our high school," Ayame muttered, his brow furrowed. Yuki was in high school. His tiny fingers were bigger now, his voice deeper. There must have been a time—at the new year's banquet, at any of the million times he'd visited the main house—that he'd seen this Yuki, an almost grown-up Yuki.
But his memory was still that of a child and a heavy feeling settled in his belly.
"Don't tell me you forgot high school too!" Shigure teased playfully.
"No…I just…" Ayame struggled to find the words to describe this feeling, this aching, gnawing feeling. "I didn't know." That his brother was in high school. That his brother was leaving the compound. That his brother had friends, had at least one friend. Even the facts he barely remembered, favourite foods and toys, were all circumspect. "Does he know that we went there?"
"I don't think so. He's never brought it up." Shigure paused and Ayame could tell before he even took a breath, before the first syllable was uttered, that this would hurt. "He hasn't mentioned you either."
It was like the twist of a knife. A punch in the stomach. Ayame was left winded and he didn't even know why.
"It's not like you two talk." There was a pounding sound on the other side of the line and Shigure sighed. "Well, I suppose I have to let her in eventually. Or she might actually hang herself. See you in my dreams, Aaya."
"Not if I see you first," he responded automatically. On the other end, the phone went dead, a dial tone echoing in his ears.
"Ayame?" Mine poked her head out of the door. Spotting him, she cocked her head. "Is something wrong?"
"Yes. No." He stared down at his shirt, at the edges of his right sleeve. Tiny fingers had reached for it once, tiny fingers that he had never considered once. "I…I don't know."
"Heya, squirt." Arisa ruffled Megumi's hair as she walked past him to the kitchen. Yanking open the fridge, she rifled through its contents for drinks. "Didn't realize you were home."
"I just came back." Calmly, he ran his fingers through his locks, brushing any stray hair back in place. There. Much better. While he liked the attention, there were times when Megumi wished Arisa would be less physical about it. Noting her cotton shorts and white tank top, he cocked his head. "A slumber party?"
"Yep." Grabbing four cans of pop, Arisa closed the fridge with her shoulder. She held out one can to him with a grin. "Come on, you can join us. We're playing some card games and I'm tired of Saki winning all the time."
"She'll beat me too," he pointed out, still accepting the cold can.
"Then at least we can change who's losing." Arisa shifted the cans from one hand to the other, rubbing the cold appendage against her leg to warm it up. "I feel like Tohru should be doing worse than she is, and Saki's screwing me over."
The chances of that happening were almost a hundred percent. Megumi didn't even need to ask his sister to know. Trailing after Arisa as they headed upstairs, he asked, "So all three of you today?"
"Mmmm, yeah. It's been so long since it's been just the three of us." Arisa practically bounced up the steps. Looking over her shoulder, she winked. "I kidnapped her from the prince and the pauper. Just because they live with her, the Sohmas think they can hog all of her attention."
"The prince and the pauper?" Megumi raised a brow. That was a new nickname. "I thought he was an orange-haired bastard?"
"He can be both." Arisa shrugged, reaching the top landing. She spun around, a mischievous smirk on her face. "He's a pauper because he almost always loses at Rich Man, Poor Man."
"That would make you one too." Saki suddenly appeared behind Arisa, grabbing a pop can. Ignoring Arisa's surprised jump, she stared at the can. "It's cold."
"Warn me a little, would ya?" Arisa leaned against the wall, calming down. She shot Saki a disgruntled glare. "At the very least, I beat Kyo. And sometimes Tohru."
"A grievance I shall never forgive," Saki remarked, rolling the can in her hands. "This feels good."
"It is hot today." Megumi pressed his can against his cheek. The cool aluminum sent a shiver down his spine. Ah, that was much better.
"…I can never tell if either of you are serious or not." Arisa rubbed her forehead, torn between exasperation and annoyance. She glanced at Megumi, and then at Saki. "At least you're wearing short sleeves today."
"I am not completely immune to the heat," Saki replied, fanning herself lightly. "Ah. It truly is hot."
"Now you're making fun of me." Straightening up, Arisa barged into Saki's bedroom. "Alright, time to kick everyone's asses."
"K-kick?" Out of sight, a surprised Tohru squeaked. "It's a card game!"
Still standing in the hallway, Saki leaned against a wall, closing her eyes with a pleased smile. Quietly, Megumi stood next to her, his shoulder bumping into her arm, listening as Arisa crowed excitedly, as Tohru stuttered and panicked. His sister chuckled softly and he could feel the vibrations through her skin.
A laugh. A smile. Megumi watched her, transfixed.
"Yes?" Saki cracked open an eye. Even the aura around her felt light and teasing.
"You're happy," he said, more a statement than question.
"Hmm." Saki considered it before nodding. "I am." She opened both her eyes and smiled fondly at him. "Your prayer came true."
"She's here!" Momo peeked out the living room curtain, into the main garden. She quickly let go of the cloth, letting it fall back into place as she stumbled back. "And so is everyone else."
"Ahhhh…" Momiji's smile dropped a notch as he tried to figure out just how did his cousins know about this concert. There was Tohru, of course, but while she was a terrible liar, she wouldn't actually tell anyone. Standing behind his sister, he drew back the window curtains just enough to get a glimpse of everyone. Haru. Yuki. Kyo. Shigure—
Shigure. Momiji rubbed his forehead. Yep. That was the root cause. It would have been hard for Tohru to hide it from him, her face gave everything away. From there, it was a single call to invite all of the ex-zodiac members. Add in their friends and a performance for three became a performance for a crowd. Frowning, he shot a glare at his older cousin. "It's always him."
"That's a lot of people," Momo muttered, clutching her violin tightly. She glanced at him in askance. "Are we really going to perform?"
"Yep!" Smiling at her encouragingly, Momiji pointed at the few cousins that she'd met. "There's Kisa and Haru and Hiro—actually, never mind Hiro."
Despite the things that had changed since the curse was broken, Hiro's tongue was not one of them. Even Kisa couldn't sweeten his barbed words by much. Still, he was at least moderately kinder to others and Momo hadn't come back in tears whenever she played with the pair.
"Kisa." Momo brightened. "And…there's Yuki. And Mine and…" She stumbled, trying to remember the names of all their friends. "And…and Uotani and Hanajima…"
"Yep." Momiji grinned, counting them off himself. There were far more outsiders in the Sohma compound these days, the doors open to all now. High school friends, coworkers, that guy from the bakery—wait. Momiji cocked his head. It was good and all that anyone could come and go, but why were all of these random strangers here for a single violin recital?
Momiji's eyes landed on silver hair. Of course. He should have known. Ayame. Who else could it have been? As though sensing his thoughts, Ayame spotted him and shot him a thumbs up. He winked, mouthing, Good luck.
It was hard to decide between Shigure and Ayame which one deserved more punishment. Maybe he could sick Hatori on both of them later. Turning back to his sister, he wrapped an arm around her and hugged her to his side. "We have so many friends! I think they'll be happy to hear us play."
"Right." Momo swallowed, peeking back through the curtain once more. She took a deep breath, stood up straight, and then moved back into the center of the room. Staring at her violin for a long moment, she squared her shoulders and raised it. "We have to tune up."
Part of Momiji missed the baby chick, the little girl who was always peering around her mother's skirts. As a teenager, the only part of that left was the tremble of her hands as she raised her violin, the slight shake of her bow as she tried to settle herself. Yet this girl was able to talk to him, was able to be with him, and he would take that over the baby chick any day. "Right."
Momiji raised his violin. Finally, after all those years, they were playing together. Like real siblings. Like a real family.