Chapter Eighteen: Brother to Brother:

“What are you doing here?” I asked. “Where have you been? Is that really you?”

“Yes,” Sosuke said.

“H-How did you find me?” the shinigami asked. “Wait, are you…?”

“Not yet,” his brother said. The receptionist and Kyosuke stared at him.

“What?” they asked. Sosuke turned to the receptionist.

“Is it okay for us to have a while to talk?” he asked.

“S-S-Sure,” she said. “Take all the time you need.”

“Thank you,” the man said. He bowed and shifted focus to Kyosuke.

“Do you know somewhere quieter where we can talk?” he asked.

“Sure, the younger brother said. “Follow me.” Both men walked out of the room.


Kyosuke and Sosuke sat under a big cherry tree in the garden. The shinigami eyed his brother sternly.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “Where did you go? Why didn’t you call us? What happened?” Sosuke put up his hand.

“Whoa there!” he said. “One question at a time.” Kyosuke drew in a breath.

“Okay,” he said. “What are you doing here? Are you…?”

“Not yet,” Sosuke said.

“What?” the younger brother asked. The older man rubbed his forehead.

“I have a tumor in my brain,” he said. “I’ve had it for about three years. I thought it was a minor thing at first. But now…”

“So why didn’t call us?” Kyosuke asked. Sosuke clenched his fists in his lap.

“It wasn’t that easy.”

“Really? Humor me here. How was it not easy? How?!”

“Because you died.”

The younger brother closed his mouth. “Oh…”

“I got the diagnoses last year. I was going to tell everyone, but you had died. I couldn’t put Mitsuko, Mamoru, and Kimi through another loss like that.”

Kyosuke gritted his teeth. “So what?”

“Heh?” Sosuke asked. The shinigami breathed heavily.

“You should at least talk to them,” he said. “You just up and disappeared. No calls. No e-mails. Nothing!”

“And I’m sorry for that,” Sosuke said.

“Don’t apologize to me,” the shinigami said. “Apologize to our brother and sisters! And how are you here?”

“My soul can travel to Meifu because I’m about to die,” Sosuke said. “The tumor is in part of my brain that they can’t get out. The surgery is too risky. It make my odds even worse.”

“Even more to talk to them,” the younger breather said. “No more excuse! Just do it!” Sosuke sighed and rubbed the back of his head.

“You won’t let it go, will you?” he asked.

“No!” Kyosuke said. He glared, trying look pissed off. Sosuke puffed up his cheeks, trying not to laugh.

“What?” the younger brother asked. The older man patted him on the back.

“You win,” he said. “I’ll talk to them.” Kyosuke relaxed.

“Thank you,” he said. Sosuke fluffed up the younger brother’s short black hair.

“Still as persistent as ever,” he said.

“Yeah,” Kyosuke said. His brother stood up.

“Well,” he said. “I have to get to talking to them before I die. I will see you again soon.”

“Heh?” Kyosuke asked. “You can’t be serious.” When he looked up, Sosuke was gone. The shinigami blinked.

“Huh?” he asked.

“Kyosuke!” someone shouted. The shinigami turned around. April stood in the doorway.

“So this is where you disappeared,” she said. “What have you been up to the past week?” Kyosuke broke into a little smile.

“Oh,” he said. “Just fixing my family’s problems to help them move on.”

“Huh?” April asked. Her crush smiled like a dork.