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Of laughters and brothers
If you listen to most people, including his best friend, Daniel Grayson does not laugh.
Daniel Grayson does not smile, grin, or even smirk. He never groans, never complains, and never ever sheds a tear.
No, Daniel Grayson does only three things; he answers every question the teacher asks him perfectly, precisely; he shoots the orange ball into the hoop without making the slightest wrong bend of his wrist and arms; finally, he answers many people other than a teacher who talks to him with disinterested responses.
He most certainly does not laugh.
If you listen to Eric, Daniel Grayson laughs.
Daniel Grayson smiles, grins and smirks. He speaks liberally, with a great deal of sarcasm. He groans, he complains, he even cries.
To most people, Daniel Grayson is barely a person. He is a robot, a goal-oriented one, something without any feeling or thought. Perfection, some say. Others, perhaps more wise, think tragedy.
To Eric, Daniel Grayson is someone who is terrified to let out emotions, to show any weakness. He is a child, with a fear of rejection and displeasure so deep he avoids making ties with anyone out of pure terror, terror that something will go wrong and he'll break because he can't take getting the one thing he's always longed for and losing it.
Just like how he completely lost the interest of his father.
To most people, there's something off about Daniel, but it has nothing to do with them. They assume that what they see is all there is to him and leave it at that, because it's so much easier that way.
To Eric, Daniel is his brother, and as the loving word of “otouto-kun” appears in his mind he knows that reason is enough to make sure that he always has at least one person around whom he can be gentle to without fear.
“So I guess this is goodbye then.”
I could hear the hesitance in Daniel’s voice. I could see the confusion and regret and anguish in his seemingly emotionless face like thousands of silently flapping butterflies behind my eyelids. And as the older replica of him hoisted up the black suitcase, the abyss of Daniel’s eyes exploded into a livid color of something akin to panic.
“Yes, indeed,” Eric smiled, a smile that fits into Daniel’s seldom definition of a smile perfectly. “But I would like to come back here and see you in one piece, otouto-kun.” That smiling face betrayed nothing, but the hidden promise circled high in the air, making Daniel’s face lit up like a kid who just discovered something rather amazing. There it was again, that unseen stupefied expression I had not gotten myself used to, pushing itself back onto his face in an unexpected flow of aroused emotions.
“Eric…” He looked thoroughly irritated with himself when he paused there, like a pianist who had just clumsily missed a beat of his sonata. “Why do you…care?”
His mom didn’t. His dad didn’t.
With a soft flash of surprise in his smile, Eric laughed, and then he said something I didn’t quite catch:
“Node, anata ga watashi no kazoku desu, baka.”
Because you are my family, silly.
I guess that was when the last brick that kept the wall Daniel spent years to build up shattered, destroyed, crushed into millions of tiny little pieces that contain nothing but bad memories about his broken childhood.
And as they held each other in an embrace full of regret and comfort and contentment, I guess, again, I guess, that Daniel realized he is never too cool, too hateful, too old or too broken to find the little happiness in his brother’s embrace.
“Aniki—“ Daniel laughed.
Because to Eric, Daniel Grayson is his brother, and as the loving word of “otouto-kun” appears in his mind he knows that reason is enough to make sure that he always has at least one person around whom he can be gentle to without fear.
And because to Daniel, Eric Grayson is his aniki – his older brother, the brother who has never abandoned his side no matter what happens, the brother who he can always open up to without fearing that he’ll shatter into a billion of pieces like the broken glass on the floor.
That day, apart from Eric, I know that Daniel Grayson smiles and cries with forgotten memories and newfound joy.
And he most certainly laughs.