Chapter Five: Undercooled:

Now that Akio wasn’t around, Haruka let her resentment of her children be known to them. She had kept it locked deep down inside for so long because of him. Before, her husband would attempt to calm her down when the angry beast within her wanted to smack or strangle one of the children.

“Come on, dear,” he would say. “They are just kids.”

“They still are annoying,” his wife would complain.

“They don’t know any better,” he would counter with patience in his voice. Because of his tone and charm, his wife reluctantly drew back. When talking to her didn’t work, the man took hold of her waist and squeezed her until she calmed back down. In the end, it all reminded her of why she found that weakened beautiful man so annoying in the first place. As far as Daisuke could remember, the Kimoto house became Hell on earth when their mother returned alone with baby Kirika. It was as if she was waiting to let loose her rage upon them. In a way, she was glad that her husband was gone; there was no one to hold her back from lashing out.

This Hell didn’t happen overnight though; it built up in tiny bricks over the years. It started out small at first. The children couldn’t remember a time when they weren’t yelled at. She practically could be heard outside. It could be the slightest thing like slipping juice and Haruka would scream at them until their ear hurt. The rules around the house became stricter and dimmed the joy around the atmosphere. Yasuo and his siblings couldn’t understand what happened to their mother. The older boys remembered her being distant and hostile towards them, but she never was this brutal. Even more so, she wouldn’t tell them what happened to their father. Come to think of it, he never tried to call, write, or contact them in any way. It was as if he disappeared without a trace. Their mother never bothered answering any of their questions.

“Mama,” Shichiro addressed her one day in June of 1970. “What happened to Papa? When is he coming home?” Haruka gritted her teeth at her vanity as she darted over to the mirror where the boy in doorway watching was her. These kids didn’t seem to know how to let up.

“He’s not,” she hissed in a cold tone. She clenched her fists in her lap under the vanity. The ten-year-old tilted his head with an odd look on his face.

“What do you mean?” he asked. “Why wouldn’t he be coming back?” His mother slammed her fists against the vanity table.

“He’s not coming back!” she barked. “So stop asking me and go away!” Shichiro’s eyes widened in shock at the violent outburst. He stood frozen for a second before mumbling, “But…”

“Get out!” the woman shouted. Her second son ran away as fast as his little legs could carry him. Haruka breathed out and lowered her head from the stress.

Those brats are so annoying, she thought. Just looking at their little faces reminded her that she would’ve been much happier being alone. However, it was so hard to do so when six children need you all of the time. Plus, the oldest one’s powers started to manifest last year. Each day with her children annoyed her even more. As a result, the children did their best to avoid their mother when she was angry at them. Sometimes, that was easy to pull off and other times turned out to be rather predictable. Even through all of the yelling and coldness, their questions still wouldn’t let up. The three older boys asked most of the questions. Daisuke barely remembered Akio while Yumiko was just baby when he left.

“Why won’t she tell us about Papa?” Nobu asked Yasuo in the backyard. The oldest son shook his head. He didn’t understand it either, but he had to try and keep Haruka from screaming at them all.

“She must have her reasons for not telling us,” he tried to reason with him. “So, don’t bring it up anymore.” The younger boys looked at him as if he was crazy to suggest such a thing.

“But…” Daisuke spoke up.

“Don’t ask any more questions about it!” the oldest snapped. The brothers drew their mouths closed. From then on, no more questions about Akio came up. In fact, he was barely even mentioned. The children would have had to deal with their mother’s increasing rage. They had to hide what was going on from outsiders in fear of what she would do to them if word got back to her.

Each of them tried to find a way to cope with it. The boys used school as an excuse to get away from the developing hell of a home. Shichiro and Nobu even found some friends to talk to. They even tried to stay over just to avoid their mother. Everyone pretty much knew that something happened to Akio and everything wasn’t so peachy at the Kimoto house. Yet, they kept this to themselves so not to startle the boys. Shichiro and Nobu did their best to keep a smile on their faces just to hide their pain.

Unfortunately, the girls weren’t so lucky. They were too little to go to school in the earlier days of the Kimoto house hell. In fact, Haruka took most of her rage out on them. She seemed to be jealous of them in a way that outsiders would not understand. They were just little girls and they didn’t know any better. Whenever their brothers looked kindly upon them, Haruka gave them an evil look. The three older boys were afraid to defend them because of it, but Daisuke boldly decided to care for them even at a young age. He pretty much became their shoulder to cry on. The boy was the one to read to them, play with them, and help them with their homework.

“Nii-san, why does Momma hate us so much?” Yumiko asked when she was three years old one evening in August 1970. Moments earlier, Haruka yelled at her for slipping milk on the kitchen floor. The poor little girl ended up hurled up in the corner crying. Daisuke found her after he came back in from playing in the backyard. Worry covered his face as he hurried over to her.

“What’s the matter?” the five-year-old asked as he sat beside his sister. Yumiko looked up at him with big teary eyes.

“Aw,” he said. “Was momma being mean again?” The little girl pouted at him as he took her into his arms and hugged her.

“It’s okay,” he whispered. “I’m here now.” Yumiko cried against his shirt. Once he calmed her down, he took her back to her room. Now, Daisuke gave her a little smile as he helped her get dressed for bed.

“I don’t really know,” he replied as he slid on her shirt. “But, I don’t hate you.”

“You don’t?” she asked. The little boy shook his head.

“Nope,” he replied. “In fact, I love you and Kirika-chan.” His sister began to perk up when she heard him say that.

“I love you!” she chirped. Daisuke only laughed. Because of that, Yumiko and Kirika attached to him like Shichiro did with Yasuo. Haruka gave him more hell because of it, but the boy didn’t care.

“You can’t keep spoiling them like this,” Yasuo told him one day in October of 1970.

“I’m not,” Daisuke insisted. “I love them both.”

“But you make mom mad because of it,” his oldest brother pointed out.

“I don’t care,” the little boy said. Yasuo put up his hands.

“That’s all you,” he muttered as he walked away, the little boy walked back to his room. Speaking of the oldest son, he now did anything he could in his power to keep their mother happy. He pretty much became like a little annoying servant to her. His neediness with her came back stronger than ever. Haruka didn’t take too kindly to this.

“Why do you keep clinging to me so?” she hissed one hot day in July 1973. The fifteen-year-old boy gave her a goofy smile as he watched her from the doorway.

“Because I love you, mom,” he replied confidently. Haruka groaned and rolled her eyes as she fanned herself with her hand fan.

“Stop grinning, you little idiot,” she muttered under her breath, “It makes me want to puke.”

“Anything else you want me to do for you?” he asked ignoring her blatant insult.

“Go away,” his mother complained, “You are so annoying.” Yasuo kept her grin on his face.

“Okay!” he said. Haruka shook her head as her son turned and walked back into the house.

“You should be a little bit nicer to them,” Aki murmured in her ear. Her mistress glanced over at her with narrowed eyes.

“Why?” she asked, “They are all annoying little dogs.”

“Yes, but those dogs could produce our Mother again,” the kitsune pointed out. Haruka groaned and rolled her eyes.

“The Mother, the Mother, the Mother,” she complained. “It’s always about the damn Mother!”

“But Yasuo-kun is already developing his powers rather beautifully,” Aki pointed out, “I can feel Shichiro’s powers starting to manifest soon.” The mistress snorted over her tea.

“So?” she asked. Aki rested her body upon Haruka’s shoulders.

“So,” she went on, “It’s in your best interest to use them like little tools. Think of it as having six little Akio at your beck and call.” Haruka wrinkled her nose at the suggestion.

“That’s just disturbing,” she replied.

“Disturbing, but it works,” Aki pointed out. Inside, Daisuke heard the whole conversation in the kitchen doorway. He couldn’t see the kitsune sitting on his mother’s shoulders and didn’t understand what was going on. However, that didn’t change the fact that he had knots in his stomach from what he heard. He somehow felt that it would only go downhill from here onwards.