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Something I Never Knew

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The walk home from school is quieter than usual today. Any other time, Akira would ramble about his day to Azure while she listens intently, but today, he’s being uncharacteristically mute. The only sound filling the awkward silence between them is the crunching of fall leaves under their feet, but it’s not enough, and Azure finds it concerning that her brother hasn’t uttered a single word since they left school.

She stops abruptly, halting them both in their tracks. She turns toward Akira, squinting as she inspects every detail of his face. He doesn’t look sick, but the way his muscles are tense doesn’t sit well with her. Akira falters under her scrutinizing gaze, but still stands his ground.

“Azure, what are you doing?”

She leans in closer. “Something’s wrong.”

At this, her brother blinks before taking a step back. He turns his head and continues walking.

“And what makes you say that?”

“Because,” Azure begins, scrambling to catch up with her brother. “You haven’t said a single word since we started walking home! You usually tell me everything about your day and stuff, but today you’re keeping quiet!” She grabs his arm to make him stop again. “I thought we didn’t keep secrets from each other.”

Akira pulls his arm away. “N-no, we don’t. But…”

He shifts his gaze and procures a folded piece of paper from his jacket pocket. It’s slightly wrinkled, almost as if he had crumpled the paper before thinking better of it.

“I’m not exactly sure how to put this into words.”

Before he can protest, Azure swipes the folded paper from his hands with ease and unfolds it. The younger twin attempts to reach for it, but she holds it out of his grasp.

“What is this, anyway? A bad test grade?”

Akira sighs. “It’s not a bad test grade.”

Azure brings the paper down to eye level so she can read it. Scrawled in handwriting so messy it could be another language, she realizes that it’s a phone number—one she doesn’t recognize.

She opens her mouth to ask, but the small heart that she then notices explains everything.

“Oho…” she chuckles, handing the paper back to Akira. He’s quick to snatch it from her hand.

“Somebody asked you out, huh? What did you say?”

“I— I didn’t say anything,” Akira says, placing the phone number back in his pocket. “I was too confused to respond.”

Azure quirks an eyebrow. “Confused that someone asked you out?”

“No— Well, yes. I mean—” He shakes his head. “I’m not sure what to think.”

“Of?”

Akira averts his gaze, cheeks turning slightly red. 

“...I’ve never had a guy ask me out before.”

If he had been looking, he’d be able to see Azure’s face shift from curiosity to surprise. His sister doesn’t say anything, so he keeps talking.

“And like, I don’t even know if I like guys or not, but… He was really cute, so I dunno… Maybe?”

“Akira,” Azure begins, placing a hand on his shoulder. “When was the last time you had a crush on a girl?”

The younger twin knits his eyebrows in thought. That’s...a good question, actually. When was the last time he had a crush on a girl? There was that blonde with glasses in fourth grade, but...wasn’t he just interested in her because she brought candy canes for the class at the Christmas party?

After racking his brain for what feels like several minutes, he comes up empty.

Well, almost empty.

“Er… Does Sailor Moon count?”

“Akira, everyone had a crush on Sailor Moon. She doesn’t count.”

There goes that, then.

“Well,” Akira decides to continue walking—they’re wasting time just standing around. “Either way, I don’t know what to do. I didn’t exactly give him an answer.”

Azure catches up with him. “Well, you have his number, right? Why don’t you text him?”

Akira sighs, face heating up again. “See, that’s the thing— I want to, but… I don’t even know if I swing that way. Just because one guy is cute, doesn’t mean—”

Azure groans. “Akira, listen. If you’re gay, then you’re gay, no big deal.”

She stops to grab her brother by the shoulders.

“But dammit, please just give that boy an answer before I do it for you.”

And with that, the older twin continues walking, leaving her brother dumbstruck for a few seconds before he shakes his head and makes to catch up with her.

“You know,” Azure begins, following the comfortable silence that had settled between them. “If it makes you feel any better, I’m not straight either.”

Akira gapes at her. “You’re— You’re not?”

She laughs. “Wow, you’re more oblivious than I thought. Why do you think I went with Emily to eighth grade formal?”

“I thought you were just going as friends because neither of you had a boyfriend.”

“Are you— You’re joking, right?”

“Uh, no?”

“You really had no idea?”

Akira shakes his head.

Azure sighs. “Well, you do now. I’m bisexual, by the way.”

“Bi-what now?”

Azure ducks under a low-hanging tree branch. “You know, being attracted to both genders?”

“Th-that’s a thing?”

“Oh, for the love of— Never mind.” She turns toward her brother. “Look, if you have any questions, just ask me, okay? I know a lot more about this stuff than you do.”

Akira crunches a particularly large pile of leaves under his boots. “Wait, so how long have you been—” He suddenly can’t remember the word. “Er, whatever you said?”

Azure plucks a leaf from a nearby branch and twirls it between her fingers. “Hmm… I feel like I’ve always been bi, but I think it was my crush on Samus that did it.”

At this, the younger twin chuckles. “Samus, huh? Not what I expected, but that sounds like you.”

“What, were you expecting Princess Peach? Sure, she’s cute, but Samus can kick ass. That’s hot.”

A lukewarm breeze blows by, and the two share a laugh before falling silent. For a while, the only sound is the smashing of leaves beneath their feet and the rustling of trees around them. Finally, they arrive home, and Akira is the first to shed his jacket and collapse on his bed once they each their shared room. He drapes an arm over his face and sighs, his voice cracking slightly as he does so.

“I’m so tired…” he mumbles. “Thank god it’s Friday.”

Azure doesn’t pay his words any mind while she sets down her backpack and removes her shoes. She smirks at him from across the room.

“So,” she begins, shuffling to his side and taking a seat on his bed. “I told you who my first gay crush was. Now you gotta tell me yours.”

Akira peeks out from under his arm. “Huh?”

“You heard me,” Azure says, a gleam in her eyes. “Spill the beans, little bro.”

Akira groans. “I thought I told you not to call me that.”

“But it’s true. I’m older than you.”

“By twelve minutes,” he argues, moving his arm and sitting up.

“Still.” The smug grin doesn’t leave Azure’s face. “When will you accept that I’m the superior twin? I’m older and I’m taller.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me,” Akira mutters. “I swear I’ll hit a growth spurt one of these days...”

Azure snorts and ruffles her brother’s hair. “Yeah. Keep dreaming, little bro.”

Akira scowls at her and throws a random stuffed animal, but she catches it before it can hit her. His frown deepens.

“So anyway,” Azure continues, tossing back the stuffed animal. “I’m sure you had a crush on at least one guy as a kid. Who was it?”

The younger twin hums in thought, hugging the plush to his chest. “I dunno, I guess Link is pretty cute.”

Azure snorts.

He hugs the plush tighter. “What?”

“Really? He’s such a twink.”

“Wha— Hey!” Akira throws another stuffed animal. “You asked!”

His sister catches it just like before. “I know, but I didn’t think you’d be that kinda guy.”

He squints. “What kinda guy?”

“I dunno, I just thought you’d be more interested in the hunkier types. Like Goku or something.” She shoves the plush back. “Not some scrawny elf swordsman.”

“Oh yeah? What’s your type, then?”

Azure taps a finger to her chin. “Hmm… I’m not too picky, but the nerdy types are definitely cute. Like…Octacon. or Alphys.”

Akira raises an eyebrow. “...Huh. I never would have pegged you for that sort of person. I guess you learn something new every day.”

Azure smirks. “What can I say? I’m full of surprises.”

They both share a laugh at this. Any tension or awkwardness that had existed on their way home has completely vanished by now, and it feels good to be able to bond for the first time in a while.

When their laughter eventually peters out, Azure wastes no time in reaching for her brother’s discarded jacket and procuring his phone and the slip of paper from each pocket. She immediately opens the messaging app and begins typing.

“H-hey, wait! What are you doing?!” Akira squeaks, scrambling to retrieve his phone.

“Scheduling you a date, because apparently you can’t.” Azure holds the phone out of his reach. “You’ll thank me later.”

“Azure, come on! Give it back!” the younger twin whines, his cheeks stained a bright red.

Azure’s face lights up. “Ooh, he’s typing.”

Akira groans and hides his face in his hands. After another minute, his sister smiles triumphantly and tosses his phone into his lap.

“There. Done and done.”

He removes his hands from his face and looks down. The last message details an arranged meeting place and time, with a handful of hearts and winking emojis trailed at the end.

The end of the message reads: I’ll see you there ;) ;) ;) <3 <3 <3

Akira ignores his warm face and glances up at Azure. She’s still wearing that victorious grin.

Maybe he should thank her.

He looks back to his phone.

...He’s still going to kill her, though.