Chapter 3:

They Shall All Know

X = Y

During the previous night, outside the police department, Rei began walking away from Kei. He had his back turned towards him, with his hood up, rain pouring down from the heavens, veiling the brothers in water, making their outlines identifiable from afar. Kei had his head down, but anger began swelling in his heart, and fear tormented his mind. He clenched his fist tightly whilst his brother's back gradually shrank from sight.Bookmark here

"Where are you going? DIDN'T YOU SAY YOU WOULD HAVE MY BACK?" exclaimed Kei.Bookmark here

His cry for help startled Rei, who turned around, exhibiting a shocked expression.Bookmark here

"You're just going to leave me here? I wished we could do most things together...doing everything together is impossible, but at least we could rely on each other. What happened to family...did it disappear because we no longer have one?" said Kei sobbing. "Mother and father are gone, and you're just going to leave them? Is that the right thing to do?" he murmured to himself.Bookmark here

"WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO SAY?" Rei shouted angrily, aggrieved. He startled Kei. "Who can we go to, Kei?! The police are going to take time with their silly investigation! How many people do you think they'll go after. They'll come after us eventually because we're witnesses. That's how they work. You're supposed to be the smart one here, Kei!" said Rei. However, regret had filled him instantly. Any sliver of hope Kei was holding on to disappeared before his tear-soaked eyes. "If there's anything you want to say to me, then say it. I've already made up my mind after picking up the shattered pieces of it..." he added on.Bookmark here

"It didn't happen yesterday, but people are always confusing us," said Kei, as he clenched the clothing in front of his chest with his right hand. "You know how it feels when they call us by the wrong name, and their face is filled with disappointment when they realise they've got the wrong person. It's like they're blaming us for something we can't change! I'm invisible to people who want to talk to you...both of us completely isolate each other because we're twins. Our existence is what causes disappointment. Sometimes I wished I could be exactly like you, but you can never be like someone else. Everyone is unique, and that uniqueness cannot be taken away from anyone..." he added, his voice beginning to break, the sadness in his heart building up.Bookmark here

"I know. You don't have to be so dark about it. I wished I could be like you with your intelligence and your enthusiasm. " Rei responded in a saddened tone.Bookmark here

"WHO CARES ABOUT INTELLIGENCE?" Kei screamed, interrupting and startling Rei. "Who cares about it when it doesn't give you a complete sense of fulfilment. You get a sense of glory and acknowledgement, but it easily fades away and leaves you with pans of hunger for more. The more I talk about myself, the more selfish I sound. You're my brother. That's never going to change, Rei. If you do something wrong, then I'll tell you. If you mess up, then I'll help you. If you fall, then I'll catch you. Please think this through and don't do anything stupid." Kei spoke seriously.Bookmark here

"Stop worrying about me. Do your own thing. It's possible that both of us take the space of a single person, and two people cannot exist in that space. Maybe this is better for go down our paths. Come and find me and speak to me only when you've made up your mind. Goodbye, brother." said Rei, turning around, only to walk away. He placed his hand in his pockets and waved with the other, gesturing his leave.Bookmark here

Kei screamed as loudly as he could so that Rei would hear him. "I can't even say sorry to mother or father for sneaking out without their permission! They told us how dangerous it was, but we didn't listen to them! That guilt is getting to me! That's the last thing she said to us!".Bookmark here

Kei took a step forward and ran up to his brother. He placed his hand onto Rei's shoulder, which stopped him in place. At that moment, Rei grabbed his arm and threw it to one side. He turned around with a menacing look on his face.Bookmark here

"Don't touch me," said Rei with a seriously harsh tone. He had a deadly gaze in his eyes.Bookmark here

Rei turned around and walked off whilst Kei stood there watching his brother leave with his head held down in defeat. Astonished at first, Kei paused briefly before turning around to look up at the sky, only to see the rain pelt his face like javelins. The drops landed on his face and covered the tears that continued to fall.Bookmark here

The night passed as the day arrived. The outside world did not know what happened between the two brothers, whose eyes became blinded by hatred and animosity. It was 7:00 AM, and Kei woke up inside the police department where he had been sleeping the night over. The police officer who first approached them yesterday, officer Sukiga Tanake, walked up to Kei.Bookmark here

"We found a place where you can stay. Your father's friend from work said he could take you in. He has no children, but he's married. You're in luck..." said Sukiga. His face changed from happiness to confusion as tears began to stream slowly down Kei's face. He rubbed his eyes and tried to remain composed.Bookmark here

"How am I supposed to go to school? I don't have a school uniform," said Kei whilst sobbing.Bookmark here

"Already thinking about school? I don't know about the uniform, but everything will be fine from here on, kid. If you need anything at the police department, then ask for Officer Sukiga Tanake. That's me. It's good to see that you're moving on. Sometimes it takes people weeks to get over their losses, and rightly so. You have the right to mourn too." Officer Sukiga added in a kind tone.Bookmark here

"Do you know about my parents..." Kei said as his sentence ended abruptly. "No...don't tell me now. When are we going to my father's friends house?"Bookmark here

"After we find your brother. Do you know where he is?" said Officer Sukiga.Bookmark here

Kei shook his head and responded in a saddened tone. "I don't know where he is. He left, but I saw the same thing with him yesterday."Bookmark here

"We'll search for him. He's one of the people affected by it. We need to gather as much evidence as we can. Come with me. I'll take you to their house." said Officer Sukiga, waiting for Kei to stand up. They both walked out of the police department.Bookmark here

Sukiga drove him to the Rakashi household in his police car, and they arrived at 7:15 AM. They walked up to the front door together, and Kei was anxious about the situation. Sukiga knocked on the door, and they waited patiently for someone to open it. Eventually, a man in his forties opened the door. Like everyone else, he had dark brown eyes and black hair. The first person the man glanced at was Sukiga, but then he diverted his attention to Kei, smiling upon seeing him.Bookmark here

"Is that Rei or Kei? Welcome! Come on in. Good morning, officer." said the man at the door.Bookmark here

"I had better get back to work. This is Akira Rakashi. He will be taking care of you until we find your brother, or until we can relocate you if that's what you want. I'll be on my way." said Officer Sukiga, walking away and driving off in his car.Bookmark here

"Sorry for disturbing you so early in the morning..." said Kei with an anxious and saddened voice.Bookmark here

"It's not a problem. We heard everything that happened. Though it was a major shock to us. That was the same officer that spoke to me over the phone. Come inside." said Akira with a kind, understanding voice.Bookmark here

Kei went inside as his anxiousness built up. He kept his hand to his side, but they started to twitch. He could feel his legs weakening as they began to tremble severely. Two women appeared from the living room, located at the end of the corridor, which connected the main door to the passageway.Bookmark here

One was a woman in her mid-sixties, who had grey hair and a slightly hunched-over back. She was wearing black glasses, her hair tied in a bun, and dark brown eyes. The other woman was wearing a white apron over a purple long-sleeved top, with purple trousers. They were both surprised to see him evidently when sparkles were in the younger women's eyes when she ran towards Kei.Bookmark here

"Is that Kei or Rei!" she exclaimed with excitement in her eyes.Bookmark here

"I'm Kei," he responded in confusion.Bookmark here

"Kei! Come with me! Take a seat in the living room. We know about everything that happened. I'm sorry for it all, so take as much as you need from here!" said the younger woman, who was Urika Rakashi, the wife of Akira Rakashi.Bookmark here

"Oh okay," responded Kei with a hint of sadness in his voice.Bookmark here

"You are probably wondering who I am. You can call me your grandmother, Kei. Now come in. We don't have all day." said Grandmother Nozomi Maraki the mother of Akira.Bookmark here

Kei entered their living room, peering inside first to understand his surroundings. His eyes were fixated on the massive plasma screen television hanging off the wall, a sofa in between two comfy single leather chairs, sat opposite the television, and a coffee table roughly the same length in front of that sofa. Kei could see freshly cooked food on the table steam rose from the rice bowl, having cooked egg on top, sunnyside up. Soy sauce had been sprinkled on the rice, giving it a darker brown look. He sat down, staring at the television whilst slowly picking up chopsticks and the bowl to his mouth.Bookmark here

Urika and Nozomi stood at the door, observing him trying to eat. However, too concerned about his predicament, Kei stopped eating.Bookmark here

"Don't be afraid to take a bite!" exclaimed Urika.Bookmark here

Kei dropped the chopsticks and stared at the television in complete disarray. He was mortified and desolate. Nozomi and Urika peered at the television, realising it was a broadcast of the arson attack that happened to Kei's family.Bookmark here

"This morning, an arsonist has burnt down the house that belongs to the Hirojima family. Kouma Hirojima, a resident of this house, was an employee at Tatashi Industrial. The largest manufacturer of technology in this town. The remains of him and his wife, Hana Hirojima, were found and are covered." the female news reporter stated. A scene depicting two covered-up bodies in white bags are taken on a trolley for each one. "Police reports say that a gang was behind this as they have taken eyewitness reports from residents who were at the scene, including the children who lived here. Twins, Kei, and Rei, Hirojima are alive and well. However, Rei Hirojima has gone missing."Bookmark here

Kei put the bowl down and stood up to look at them.Bookmark here

"Can I go to school now?" said Kei with a concerned, frustrated, and worried tone.Bookmark here

"Are you sure? Maybe you should take a couple of days to rest. There's no shame in asking for help, and there's no shame in not knowing what you can do." said Nozomi.Bookmark here

"I don't know anymore. All I can think of is what happened. I can only stick to what I know..." Kei added, staring at the ground, speaking with a deepened sadness in his voice.Bookmark here

"Y-Yeah...But we have to buy you clothes," she responded in a confused and slightly scared voice.Bookmark here

Akira came down the stairs. He had a pile of clothes in his hand. Only Kei could see him while Urika and Nozomi had their back to him.Bookmark here

"Here. You can take whatever you want from this pile," said Akira. "Some of them may not fit you, so try what you like."Bookmark here

He placed all the clothes he could carry on the sofa that Kei was standing beside.Bookmark here

"I thought you didn't have any children. That's what the police officer told me." inquired Kei.Bookmark here

"We have a son about your age," Urika responded with a smile on her face.Bookmark here

"Where is he now. Would I know him?" Kei calmly responded. Suddenly, he realised something. Kei became saddened by the thought that crossed his mind.Bookmark here

"He died four years ago. You wouldn't have met him. He was about to go to Metagawa Highschool but he died when a car crashed into him while he was cycling. Pick what you need, and I'll take you to the store to buy your uniform." said Akira, his attitude changing from concerned to relaxed.Bookmark here

They entered the shop, and Rei began to garner weird looks. Realising everyone identified him from the news report, he ascertained that people glanced at him eerily, trying to enter his tottering mind, desiring to know more. Kei gathered his clothing and took it to the till where Akira paid for it. Kei was unbelievably anxious and avoided eye contact. He went as far as staying away from the people staring at him, and he tried not to cross paths with them. His heartbeat became faster with each step he took. He felt his heart sinking further into his chest whilst a void engulfed his stomach.Bookmark here

Kei changed in the store, handing his clothes drenched in the rain last night to Akira. They drove down to his school, and he exited the car, walking past the entrance. Kei was relatively early. The time struck 7:45 AM. There were a small number of students walking into the main building that noticed him. They glared and left him, leaving him to walk with a feeling of abandonment and desolation. Whilst walking up the stairs, he bumped into a familiar face. It was not a friendly face, but a face he recognised nonetheless. He was a boy with light brown eyes and dark hair, wearing the same teal clothing as Kei, slightly shorter than Kei.Bookmark here

"Kei? I finally found you," said Ekaru Kumara, who was a member of the chess club. "Kanda and Meya are looking for you. I was looking for you two, but they told me to take you to them. Let's go."Bookmark here

They started walking towards their homeroom class.Bookmark here

"Where are they?" responded Kei with a lifeless voice.Bookmark here

"They're in their homeroom class," responded Ekaru Kumara. "Is everything okay with you?" he said, trying to sympathise with Kei.Bookmark here

Kei ignored him and walked into his homeroom class, only to find that every single member in his class was present. Kanda was sitting at his desk whilst Meya stood in front of it, leaning against the wall. An abundance of thoughts rushed into Kei's head, and he stood there not knowing what to do. He began to sweat, and his palms become clammy. Frozen in place, as time froze him in place, the thought of moving bombarded his mind, yet it was futile, inefficacious, provoking him to shudder.Bookmark here

"I can't do this. I can't show my face to them...Why are they all here? So many more things can go wrong. I don't want that pity they'll show me. I don't want to be weak! I don't want to look weak!" Kei thought to himself.Bookmark here

"Kei!" exclaimed Meya.Bookmark here

Kei heard her, but he decided to ignore it, trudging away. Meya ran towards him as Kanda followed.Bookmark here

"Wait! Meya!" Kanda shouted, trying to get her attention.Bookmark here

"Kei?" said Ekaru with a confused expression.Bookmark here

"What's up with him? Why did everyone stop and stare at him? Did I miss something?" a girl in his homeroom class proclaimed. She had brown hair with yellow highlights on the right side of her head, closest to her face. Her eyes were also brown.Bookmark here

"His house burnt down this morning, and his parents died in the fire, Abe. I don't know why he came to school. I didn't think he would, but the streets of this town don't feel safe." a girl sitting beside her explained in an empathetic tone. She had blonde hair with blue highlights on both sides of her head, closest to her face. Her eyes were a very dark brown.Bookmark here

"Is that why you woke me up so early so I could come to school, Risa? Go ask him yourself if you want to find out what happened!" Abe responded in frustration. "Someone switch on the television. They're probably covering the story right now," she said with everyone's eyes on her.Bookmark here

Kei did not walk very far as Meya reached him. She stopped running and called out for him. Kanda also stopped, and he was standing beside Meya.Bookmark here

"Kei!" she shouted her hardest to get his attention. He heard her call this time, turning around to face both her and Kanda.Bookmark here

"What do you want?" Kei responded in a dull voice.Bookmark here

"Is there anything you need? We can help. Both me and Kanda. I messaged Kanda and Risa this morning that I would come early to see if you were here. I don't know how everyone else found out." she explained to Kei.Bookmark here

"They more than likely watched the news this morning. That or their parents did whilst they were awake. Look, there's already an article that was published at 7 AM this morning." Kanda said in his normal voice.Bookmark here

He brought out his phone and showed Kei, who looked at the title of the article. Uneasy after reading the first paragraph, his anxiousness became more prevalent, and his hand began to shake uncontrollably. He felt light-headed, and he took a step back. He turned around and slammed his left hand on the wall so he could lean against it, supporting him, sustaining his balance.Bookmark here

"I need to go home. I can't stay here..." said Kei with his hand on his forehead, his other hand resting against the wall. "I'm about to throw up...I can't take much more of this." he added. Kanda came over and put Kei's right arm on top of his shoulder.Bookmark here

"My kingdom for a friend. We should go to the nurse," said Kanda calmly.Bookmark here

"No. Don't. I live somewhere else. I can walk by myself." Kei said with a nauseated expression.Bookmark here

"We're going with you. Show us. We can come to visit and help you." said Meya, standing behind Kei.Bookmark here

"Thank you. Meya. Kanda." Kei mumbled, finding it nearly impossible to control his emotions. Tears fell down his face, and he wiped his eyes with his left hand. "I'm not crying...I'm not. Stop crying..." he mumbled to himself.Bookmark here

"You're going to be okay, Kei!" said Meya smiling.Bookmark here

They walked out of school and exited the main building. When they did, someone called for them.Bookmark here

"Kei! Meya! Kanda!" the voice exclaimed behind them.Bookmark here

That person was the Vice Principal of Metagawa High School. Vice Principal Osamu Igarashi. He was wearing a brown suit with matching shoes and a checkered red and blue tie. He quickly walked up to them.Bookmark here

"Kei. Are you going home? I didn't expect you to come to school. I saw the news and heard about it from the police department. You have my permission to take as many authorised absences as you wish. Where are you two taking him?" said the Vice Principal empathetically.Bookmark here

"He isn't in a good place right now, Vice Principal Igarashi. He said he has a new home. Meya and I are taking him there. Please excuse us." said Kanda seriously.Bookmark here

"You may leave. I can trust that you two can take care of Kei. Do not worry about your attendance for today. Now go." the Vice Principal added.Bookmark here

"Thank you, Vice Principal!" Meya responded with vigour and passion.Bookmark here

Kanda and Meya walk with him. They accumulated stares from people as Kei resembled a ragdoll whilst Kanda was trying to support him. Meya assisted Kanda, holding up the other side of Kei, as they arrived at his home.Bookmark here

"Is this the place, Kei?" Kanda said as Kei responded with a nod.Bookmark here

"Knock on the door. They'll let you in," said Kei, weakly.Bookmark here

Remaining at the door, Kanda knocked, and in due course, Urika opened it hurriedly. Upon inspecting Kei, the sight of him made her infinitely worried, his legs wobbling, his face squeamish.Bookmark here

"Kei! Are you okay? Bring him in and lay him to rest on the sofa. Come quickly! This way!" exclaimed Urika.Bookmark here

She marched quickly to the sofa. Kanda and Meya pursued her quickly, and they put him to rest. Urika brought an ice pack and placed it over his head. Kei slowly began to regain his composure. He breathed heavily, and his heart rate was high, but it decreased gradually.Bookmark here

"Thank you for being there for him. Kei has been through a lot. What are your names?" Urika inquired.Bookmark here

"I'm Meya Sonui! And this is Kanda Haru! We're both classmates of Kei and Rei. He didn't feel like himself when he came into school. Don't worry! The Vice Principal gave him an indefinite authorised absence, and he gave us the day off to help Kei!" Meya said in a concerned yet upbeat tone.Bookmark here

"What is your name if we can ask, miss?" Kanda said in a slightly embarrassed voice.Bookmark here

"Me? I'm Urika Rakashi. I'm Kei's new mother if you will. I say that, but I'm going to be taking care of him." she said, pondering for a bit about what her words truly meant.Bookmark here

Eventually, Kei regained his senses, and he sat upright. The ice pack coasted down his body and onto his stomach. He grasped it, putting it to the side.Bookmark here

"And you can call me your mother if you'd like, Kei. Or Urika. Or Ms Rakashi. I don't mind!" she spoke sympathetically, with a soft voice and a smile on her face.Bookmark here

"Yeah..." responded Kei with an empty tone void of any emotion. "Are you sure it's okay for me to take days off?" added Kei as he stared at Urika for confirmation.Bookmark here

"Yeah! Take as long as you want to get better! Is it okay if we can visit at the weekends, Miss Rakashi?" Meya said with a sweet smile on her face.Bookmark here

"Just knock on the door, and I'll let you in. If you see my husband or his mother, then tell them that you came to see Kei. Okay?" Urika responded with a smile.Bookmark here

"Kanda. Sounds good to me. Let's go, Meya. Kei is in safe hands now. I don't want my mom on my tail because I missed a day of lessons. Everyone's going to leave miscalls and spam me asking where I went." Kanda said with a dull, fed-up tone.Bookmark here

"Okay then! Bye! Take care." said Meya with a smile.Bookmark here

Meya illuminated the faces of everyone in the room with her smile as both she and Kanda left. Left with a blank look, Kei watched them walk out. Surprised by Urika hugging him warmly, he embraced everything about it. It brought back life into his eyes.Bookmark here

"We'll make everything better for you, Kei. I promise," she said kindly. "This is your new home. Have you thought about what you're going to do now?"Bookmark here

With his mind exploding amidst thoughts, Kei began to remember everything he witnessed: the pearls that were his mothers, to their burning house, to Rei's disappearance, and finally to their argument at the police department.Bookmark here

"I want to find out who did it...and I'm going to throw them into jail. I'm going to find out myself with the help of the police. I want to stop this pain. I want it to go away." said Kei with indestructible conviction and determination.Bookmark here

The flames that were once blown away by the wind reignited vehemently, by forces Urika could not comprehend. With a worried look on her face, coming to understand the situation Kei was in, Urika accepted what he said. Thus, Kei found the motive behind the words his brother told him, planning to take action against those who destroyed his home, regardless of the risks, or antagonists, opposing him.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.