Momoko immediately walked over and grabbed his shoulder. She pulled on him a little to get a look at his eyes. “What did you mean by that Yuki? You’re not thinking of–”
The panic in her eyes worried and confused Yuki until he realized. “What! N-no-no, I didn’t mean it like that. I’m not thinking of killing myself.”
The tense relaxed as she slumped a little. “Don’t scare me like that.”
“It’s nothing like that. I guess, I just wonder if things would have played out the same if I wasn’t here.”
She slapped him in the back of the head. “Never say that again! I don’t care what you think or believe or what guilt you think you have, but none of that was your fault. So don’t even for a second think we’d be better or mom’d be alive if you weren’t here!”
A bolt ran through him from that slap. He blinked with a little surprise, not expecting that reaction. Yuki opened his mouth to protest, but she glared at him. The intensity was something he grew familiar with when she used it on Ken and Jun. “Sorry, I won’t say it.”
“I won’t think or doubt that anymore.”
“Better. No matter your feelings or concerns, we’re a family. Never question or doubt that. We love you and there’s no blame. Right?”
He nodded slowly to her. “I guess all that bad luck piled up and just got me in a bad place.” Everything felt fuzzy. Talking it out did nothing to make his mind any clearer. Ayumi still casted a deep shadow over everything. ‘We’re both running away…but…no matter what you say, I’ll never be forgiven…you won’t say it, but deep down you know like I do… It’s my fault…’
Chapter 54 – The Sealed Vault Opened
Flashes of life with Momoko and his brothers went through his mind. All the facades were placed to hide and pretend. Each moment a lie that struggled for the promise. ‘…I wasn’t able to keep my promise…I wasn’t able to do as you asked of me…mother…I failed you…’
A black veil ran over him, passing things away from him. Peace could be granted for a moment. However, it didn't last for long as a voice began to pierce through the darkness. He was being called. It woke him slowly, but eventually he wasn’t able to keep his eyes shut any longer. Yuki woke up in his bed with the sound of his sister’s voice pleading to him to wake up. He was still sluggish and groggy from the afternoon nap. “What’s wrong, Momo?”
“Yuki! You need to wake up now!” screamed Momoko in a shaky voice that couldn't keep herself from falling apart. The tears in her words punctuated her voice, clearing the fog in Yuki’s head quickly. Kneeling at his bed was Momoko, age eighteen, in her high school uniform.
Seeing the way his sister looked immediately pulled him out of his bed. “What happened?” He grabbed her shoulders, lifting her up quite easily to her feet wanting some answers quickly. The way that she reacted gave him a deep foreboding. He forgot everything else.
“It’s…It’s…Oh! Yuki!” Momoko clung to him with her full weight, unable to speak what she needed. They fell backwards to the floor with her burying her face in his chest. She cried ceaselessly for what seemed like hours. Yuki could do nothing, but felt that she needed the time. He had just held on to her.
Once it had seemed that Momoko recovered from her state Yuki pressed the issue again. He pulled her away from him so that he could look at her face. His eyes stared down at her hoping to give her the strength she needed. “What’s wrong, Momo? I need to know.”
Unfortunately, the moment that he asked she burst back into tears uncontrollably trying to bury herself once more. He shook her roughly trying to snap her out of it. “Y-Yuki…I-I…can’t…” It had been difficult enough for her to say those words to him between the tears.
“Please! Momo, you’re scaring me! Tell me!” Yuki braced both of his hands up against her head forcing her to look at him to see his eyes. She tried to turn away, but he could not let her look away from him. He was going to have an answer.
Momoko gave a slow uncertain nod to him, finally agreeing. She held back some of her tears building up her courage to speak. It was slow to work towards, but Momoko gained strength. “Yuki… it’s… it’s… mom… “ Just saying that had been challenging enough for Momoko, forcing her to pause as she heard the words herself repeated once more. It nearly collapsed any resolve that she had if Yuki hadn’t been there. She nodded to him once more seeing that she had to keep going. “They say she collapsed at work…and she’s…at the hospital! Yuki! I-I…”
Yuki let his sister go and wrapped his arms around her allowing her the comfort that she was looking for. He didn't know how to react at that moment. All he could do was be stunned by the words. Eventually, the emotions caught up to him and they stayed together. Time moved on around them passing the afternoon into the evening.
“I think we should go…” Yuki finally said. The sun no longer shone in through his window and the house had been very quiet, even with his brothers being home.
She pulled away looking up at him, a little confused at the moment. “Eh?”
“The hospital. We need to see her…”
“…right…” Momoko stood up wiping her eyes clear of the tears trying to pull herself together. Yuki joined her, working on collecting himself as well. She looked over to him realizing something. “We should tell Jun and Ken.”
He looked down at the floor for a moment thinking to himself. Once he had turned back to her he spoke, “How bad is it?”
“I don’t know, I feared the worst and couldn’t listen to the rest the doctor said.”
Yuki braced her with a hand on her shoulder seeing that she was starting to fall apart once more. “Alright then, let’s go to the hospital ourselves and find out. They’ll be fine for a couple hours.”
“But how will we tell them, Yuki?!”
“…we’ll figure it out when it comes to it…she might just be a little sick…”
“But we’ve already lost dad! I couldn’t bear it to lose mom, too!”
“…I know…” It was so unusual for him. Momoko stepped in to help out after their father died. Yuki hadn’t seen this side of her in a while. “Let’s go and see her. I bet she’s waiting to see you!”
“Yeah…” Momoko quietly went to her room collecting her bag and the house keys. She joined Yuki downstairs. A long stare back at the stairs towards her brothers gave her a worried pause. The warmth of Yuki’s hand was enough to steady her as she turned towards the door. “…thank you, Yuki…”
It became pretty clear how well off they had been when they arrived at the hospital to see such treatment being provided to their mother. At the time they didn't know it, but the company hired the best specialists to look after her and spared no expense in trying to save her life.
Yuki and Momoko were let into their mother’s room with the other doctors and nurses departing to give them time. Momoko was the first to run over to her bed seeing all of the tubes that were connected up to her. Her face was still uncovered, but looked asleep until Momoko arrived. “Mom! Mom!” She turned her head to Momoko.
Their mother stretched out her hand, from resting on the covers, to weakly place her hand on Momoko’s head, patting her calmly. She had a comforting smile on her face as though everything was going to be alright. It was unclear if she was already aware of her fading health and had come to terms. “Don’t cry, my dear. Everything’s fine.” Over Momoko’s shoulder she could see Yuki standing near the door still trying to look brave for her. It made her smile grow. “Come over here, Yuki…”
The welcoming tone of hearing his mother was all it took to crack his wall. He buried his head in her bed next to Momoko trying not to cry even though he couldn’t stop himself. “…mother…” Her gentle hand touching him only made it worse for him as he could not bear to look at her.
“It’ll be alright, you two.” She started to cough the moment she finished. It alerted both of them to look up at her trying to come to her aid. Once she had calmed down she smiled down at them. “It’s okay, I’m just a little overworked. I’ll be fine in a couple days.”
An hour passed for them until they agreed to leave their mother’s side. Yuki walked off down the hallway toward the first person that he saw with Momoko chasing after him confused. He looked up at the doctor coming out of a room forcing him to look at him. “What does she have?”
“Yuki!” Momoko tugged on his clothes trying to get him to move on. “We need to go home!”
Yuki was too stubborn and strong to let her drag him away. He stared at the doctor, who was a little confused with a strange kid standing in his way. “Tell me!”
“Who are you?”
“Our mother’s in the room!” He pointed down the hall towards the room.
The doctor took a glance and slowly was able to put together the piece. “Oh you’re Tomiko Hayashi’s children!” He flipped through the clip boards that he had in hand searching for something. Once he found it he quickly went through the pages. “Well, I’m not sure what to say.”
“I demand that you tell me!”
“Yuki! Please, calm down!”
“Momo, he knows!”
The two siblings fighting gave him a brief moment to gather himself. He cleared his throat before starting getting their attention. “From what we’ve been able to do, we don’t know. Her health is poor, but we don’t know why. There’s no signs of anything that would cause it. I’m sorry.”
Yuki had no intention of taking that for an answer and grabbed the man by his tie. He nearly choked him as he pulled him down to his eye level. “The hell you don’t! She’s our mother. We have a right to know what it is!”
“Ugh! I-I told you I don’t…know!” The man choked on his words feeling his tie becoming even tighter around his neck.
Momoko leapt to the man’s defense, grabbing on Yuki’s wrist to try to free the suffering doctor. “Yuki! Please, he doesn’t know!”
“They’re hiding it from us! Because we’re just children in their eyes!”
“Yuki!” Momoko had gotten in his face at this point to try to calm him down. She placed her hands on his shoulders matching eyes. “That’s enough, Yuki. Don’t hurt him, please! Think of mom!”
Hearing the words from Momoko hit a cord inside him, making his eyes snap wide for a moment before narrowing in disgust. He tossed the tie back along with enough force to knock the man into the wall. “Tch! Fine!” Yuki walked off towards the elevator ignoring the both of them.
“I’m so sorry! Please forgive him, sir!” Momoko bowed deeply to the injured man. She turned around and ran after Yuki to catch up to him quickly. Yuki was already stepping into the elevator as Momoko arrived, barely sneaking before it closed. The long ride down was awkwardly silent between them as she could see Yuki’s aggressive side surfacing. “I-If…they can’t find anything wrong with mom, then maybe it’s just exhaustion like she says, Yuki!”
“Hrmph!” Yuki crossed his arms not willing to lose his frustration at the moment.
Momoko remained quiet the rest of the way home. When they returned home they agreed not to say anything to their brothers since it seemed like their mother would be getting better soon. It was difficult for them to keep it between themselves and explain their mother’s disappearance from the house, but they managed somehow.
Unfortunately, Yuki got even more violent in the days that followed. He had been easier to provoke before, but he went out of his way looking for everyone and anyone to fight. It no longer mattered to him so long as there was someone lying on the ground afterwards. And each day he would visit their mother, as she slowly began to worsen in her condition.
One night while visiting the hospital alone, Yuki overheard the nurses talking that were personally attached to their mother’s room. He came around the corner and caught their voices making him pause to listen.
“Did you hear that she got another call from the school?”
“Don’t they realize that she doesn’t need the stress?”
“She’s the only parent left and her son’s such a bully!”
“She seems to only be getting worse too.”
“Especially after those calls.”
“I don’t know if she’ll be able to take another call in her state.”
Yuki could only freeze next to the wall as fear gripped him like he had never known. He was paralyzed with his eyes wide in shock at hearing the nurses. He hadn't known. She had never said anything to him about getting any calls. He couldn’t think of anything else, but a single thought that echoed through his mind repeatedly, even today. ‘She’s sick because of me! It’s my fault!’
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