Chapter 53:

Family Matters


The walk back from Ayumi’s house was short, barely a minute, but the thoughts that spun through his mind made it feel like an hour. Yuki was no longer certain what to think. It hadn't been the first time that he had heard any of it, but there seemed to be more weight in the words when he heard it this time. ‘I haven’t seen Ayumi like that before…she’s usually so serious and composed…’

When he finally reached the house a new weight dragged at his arm. It was the bag of food that he was supposed to get. Through everything it had managed to survive and still end up in his hands. The door opened nearly on its own as he stepped. He left his shoes there at the door.

“Yuki?” Momoko walked out to the living room to confirm.

“Yeah, it’s me…”

“Are you okay? It’s been an hour.”

Yuki sighed to himself thinking of the assassin and how he had nearly died once again. ‘Verge of death and yet…coming home it’s like nothing happened…’ He hadn’t heard Momoko walking into the hall. Distracted, he nearly ran into her before snapping partially out of it. “Oh…here’s the things you asked for…”

Momoko had taken them from him uneasily. She stared at him in silence trying to figure out what had happened to Yuki. The mood he was setting made her even more uncertain. “Is something wrong?”

“No, just a lot of bad luck.”

“Apparently, there a reason you’re in Ayumi’s dress?”

“Oh, right! Part of the bad luck. My clothes got ruined, so she helped me out.”

“Well don’t forget to wash them before returning them to her.”

“Yeah…” He turned to the stairs. His feet found the steps on auto-pilot as he slowly went forward.

Pausing to watch him, the gloom hanging over him looked worse than his words claimed. “You sure you’re okay, Yuki?”

“I just need some time…”

Chapter 53 – Family Matters

Upstairs, the solitude came to hug him. It had a firm grip, but didn’t strangle him. Yuki dragged himself to his room and fell on the bed. The shouts from Ayumi whisper in his ear once more. ‘They aren’t your real family!’ A heavy sigh exhaled painfully.

After a few minutes, he pulled himself out of bed. Stripping off the dress, he pulled out a pair of blue jeans. Everything paused as his thoughts caught up. ‘…Ayumi…’ Yuki quickly grabbed out a green shirt. He dressed himself and walked over to his desk.

Yuki dropped his glance at a very old photo of his family, when they were still a whole family. A reminder of the past that he was never able to throw away, but also the only possession from then that he kept. It had been the only thing that he couldn't erase as much as he tried. ‘Not real?’ Until tonight, he didn’t give the meaning to those words much thought. Now everything she ever said weighed on him.

‘The Hayashi family adopted you from your true father for reasons that even I couldn’t find. All I know is that they knew each other somehow and you became part of their family instead, never telling you the truth.’ Like many of her claims, he didn’t listen. He knew what the truth was.

He thought he did.


He knew that she had to be lying and never gave it another thought, until now. ‘…could it be possible? But I’ve seen baby pictures of me. They even showed me pictures from the hospital. I remember…I remember… No!’ As his thoughts tried to find the fallacies in her words the past threatened to invade him once more. Yuki shook his head bringing everything to a halt. It forced him to catch his breath pressing his hands into the blanket covering his bed. ‘…have to keep focused…’

Under control of his thoughts, a slow eased release in the tension came over him letting go of his grip on the blanket. Yuki backed away and dropped himself nearly slouching in the chair. The soft cloth backing on the chair gently soothed him. His hand stretched out for the wooden frame allowing him a closer look at the photo. ‘…family…’

The picture had been taken back when he was only seven. His father and mother stood behind him at the ends of the picture holding Jun and Ken, still only one and two years old themselves. Next to him was Momoko, eleven, and smiling wide like he had forgotten. Even though she smiled these days, Yuki could tell it was no longer the same one that she had from then.

‘…mother…father…you’re my family…’ He stared with a distant look at the picture. There was certainty in what he believed, but Ayumi had managed to hammer a nail in his wall creating a small crack inside him. The crack started to grow in size the longer that he stared. ‘…no…this is my family…’

Yuki placed the picture frame back on his desk and got up. He had to keep his certainty, removing any doubt from his mind. ‘…got to stop thinking about it…’ His fingers ran through his uneven hair. The ruffled mess of his hair sorted itself out, falling down smoothly showing off the dark blue color only in the highlights of his hair.

‘Having no heir, the Traditionalists pushed to elect a new King by vote from the Council. As is our tradition if this happens. However, after the King’s death I was given a letter that a secret child did exist.’

Another echo rammed into him knocking him into his door making him start to sweat with his breath going shallow panting. Ayumi’s voice would not leave him alone. His hand pressed against his face and forehead trying to keep himself together. ‘…why…’ It caused his heart to pound for a reason that he could not explain. Nothing was in his control as everything in his body seemed to be completely out of breath as though it had been sucked out of him.

‘No! Stop it!’ Yuki clung his hands to his head sliding down his door folding up against it at the floor. The pounding in his chest was becoming an aching pain that bound him. It was too much for him to withstand. ‘…could it? Possibly?’

The tension grew tighter, threatening never to release him. Sweat moistened his palms from him building panic. Small doubts were being allowed through the hole that had been made inside. ‘…S-Stop…they’re all…I…’ In a fit, he threw Ayumi’s dress across the room.

It slowly floated down as he left it to fall on the floor in pain. However, there was a noise that alerted him as the picture frame on his desk was dragged down by the settling dress. It was half buried, but Momoko and his mother with Jun could be seen.

Yuki’s eyes grew wide as it snapped him out, clearing his mind and relieving him. It was gone. He stood up and went back to the picture, placing it back on his desk. ‘…thanks…’ Yuki turned away carrying a determined look in his eyes as he stepped out of his room.

Momoko was still in the kitchen working with the food that Yuki had brought back with him. She chopped on the cutting board with the sharp thud from the knife leaving her to not notice that she had company. It took a pause in her chopping to get the feeling that someone was behind her making her nearly drop the knife seeing how close they were. “Yuki?! Are you feeling better?”

“Yeah…it’s coming around.” A pleasant smile pulled over his face.

She couldn’t help but tilt her head and eyes, finding the look to be a little suspicious. “Were you needing something? Most of the meals are already prepared.”

He handed over a couple of containers for her. “I was thinking…wondering…can you still remember them? Clearly?”


“Mom and dad.”

“Yeah. I see them. Why?”

Leaning against the island, he picked up a chopped radish. His fingers rolled it around pondering before eating. “Nothing…”

“Yuki? What’s wrong?”

“No, it’s just getting hard.” The ghostly words hovered in his mind. No matter when in the house he went there was no escape.

Momoko paused in the chopping and turned around to face him. He fidgeted and kept shifting about as though something poked him. It was the same sort of look when he returned. She hadn’t seen him so exposed in a while. “What about it is getting hard? Remembering them?”

“I don’t know…” A sigh escaped him in a mad dash. “Maybe it’s just doubts or fears. Things that’ll never happen, but you convince yourself it’s possible. I don’t know what’s real at this point.”

‘He’s not really making a lot of sense. But I’ve never heard him talk like this before… He’s kept everything so close to the chest I never knew what he was truly thinking.’ It made her wonder what suddenly brought all of this one. She wished that she had the therapist’s number on hand that she went to. He stopped pretty quickly, but maybe they could help him now.

She placed the knife down on the cutting board and moved everything back a little on the counter. “I’m here if you want to talk, Yuki. I know you’ve normally handled it on your own. But sometimes it’s good to lean on someone.”

Hesitation continued for him. It should have been easy to open up to her, his own sister. Yet the nagging whispers of Ayumi pounded on the taps of his mind. She managed to change something that he never thought possible. He was scared. “Do you think I’m running away?”

That raised an immediate eyebrow for Momo. ‘I didn’t expect such a direct response. How bad is it?’ It was times like these that she wished she had picked a psychology or sociology elective in her first year. Maybe it would have happened. “We’ve all been processing it in our own ways. If I’m honest with myself as much as you, we’re probably both are.”


“I’ve buried myself in one job after another. I tell myself and you guys it’s so we don’t have to always rely on our parents' savings, but it’s a distraction. It keeps me looking forward. Pretending everything’s fine at home for Ken and Jun, when it’s not. You put on a brave face for them as much as you do yourself I think. We were forced to grow up sooner than either of us wanted.”

A passive nod agreed with his sister. Internally, he started realize that he never had a real talk with her. After their father died, he focused outward and with his mother everything changed. And Momo never questioned it. ‘I guess she had her own troubles…after mom, I guess I became more ideal to manage. Bigger problems were in front of us.’

Yuki pushed himself away from the island and started to pace. The voice of reason, Momo, battled the voice of passion, Ayumi. He shook his head a little wishing one would be quiet. “At least you’re doing something productive with your excuses. What am I doing? It’s just festering inside me.”

“You think it’s time to let it all out? Maybe you finally reached your tipping point.”

“Um…” The damned whispers never stopped in his ear. ‘I can’t exactly tell her that I think I’m adopted and that my real family is some foreign guy we’ve never met before…’ So many secrets piled up for him. He rubbed the back of his neck trying to find his words. “Maybe I have. A year of all this shit…smiling to everyone like nothing’s wrong. Not explaining to anyone anything.”

He sighed heavily looking back on everything that broke. Everything that he broke with his choices. “The only constant has been Saki in my life and I damn near ruined that more than a few times.”

“Ayumi’s been at your side too.”

“R-right, yeah. With everything going on it makes you doubt things, I guess. Little things that you don’t think are a big deal turn out to be massive holes.” Yuki stopped in his pacing and stared out into the living room. Distant memories of his family filled in the empty seats. They laughed and played together. Good memories of the past held close to the heart. But Ayumi came in and cut out one piece of it.

Was it still the same, a little emptier?

“Would everything still be the same without me?”