“Tenn-nii, come on. Open the door, Tenn-nii.”
Tenn covers his ears and brings his knees against his chest, his frame shaking all over. He could feel the vibration against the other side of the door’s wooden surface, accompanied by the sound of something hard scratching against it. There is another sound of laughter before Tenn hears his name again.
“Tenn-nii.” Riku breathes from the other side. “Don’t be mean. We’re twins. We’re meant to be together, you and I.” There is a shuddering exhale. Somehow, Tenn could hear the smile in his little brother’s voice. “I love you, Tenn-nii. We’re so different, but you know we’re also the same.”
Tenn squeezes his eyes shut, his rapidly beating heart thundering inside his chest. He mustn't open the door. No matter what Riku tells him, he will not open the door that stands in between them.
“Don’t you love me?” Riku asks. “Don’t you want to see your little brother, Tenn-nii? We grew up together. How could you push me away like this?”
Tenn shakes his head desperately. He will not open the door. No matter what.
He will not let his vampiric little brother enter his home.
In a world where occult creatures exist far and few in between, Tenn and Riku are born from a human father and pureblood vampire mother. Half-human creatures do not exist in this world. One is either human or an occult creature. There is no in between.
And the Nanase twins were born human. Tenn remembers his mother telling this story to him with an initial sigh of relief, because to inherit her vampiric genes, is to inherit her immortality. One day, she will outlive their father.
A fate she does not want the twins to suffer from.
Tenn and Riku were inseparable. Tenn is only older by a few minutes than his brother, but Riku grew up treating him like he is his stars and the universe. There was rarely a time where he was far away from Tenn and when it became clear that he was born a sickly child, Tenn only grew into his older brother role more and more.
As a child, Riku had many close brushes with death. His lungs were weak and he grew up terribly picky with food as he would throw up any food his stomach did not agree with. He was also extremely sensitive under the sun and with heat in general, falling sick as a consequence.
Perhaps then, Tenn and his parents should have seen those symptoms as a sign.
Because in the year the twins turned thirteen years old, Riku’s body turned remarkably healthy and strong. He could run for miles without losing a breath. He could play sports again. He’s much more energetic. In fact, Tenn couldn’t even remember his brother even falling sick once since then.
But in return, his sensitivity for the sun turned unbearable, trapping him indoors on a very sunny day. He could no longer digest human food. And when his parents caught him eyeing the blood bags stored in a special fridge just for their mother, all the pieces fell into place.
Out of the twins, only Tenn was born human. Riku’s vampiric genes simply lay dormant until they awakened on his thirteenth birthday.
Riku’s transformation, however, did not change the nature of the twins’ relationship. No matter how different they were, Riku is still his little brother. Just like how Riku saw him as the stars and the universe, Tenn saw his brother like the sun in his life.
“I can’t even be under the sun.” his brother whined to him one night. “Can’t I be the moon instead? At least I get to be with Tenn-nii at the same time.”
“If you’re the moon, I won’t get to be with you on sunny days when I have to go to school by myself.” Tenn teased, kissing his brother’s eyelids. “I’ll be lonely then.”
Riku pouted. “Okay...I guess I don’t want Tenn-nii to get lonely.” He snuggled against his brother on the bed. “I guess this must be what mom feels on sunny days when she couldn’t be with dad.” He grasped the front of Tenn’s night shirt. “We’ll always be together, right, Tenn-nii?”
Tenn held his brother tighter and pressed his lips against Riku’s bright red hair. He remembers inhaling Riku’s scent. Spicy, sweet. Like cinnamon.
“Always.” he murmured.
When they turned sixteen, Tenn was recruited to be an idol by Yaotome Productions.
He had been street scouted and the agency presented him with a contract with reasonable benefits and well, Tenn did love performing. His parents own a talent house, after all, so Tenn was no stranger to the stage. When Riku used to be sickly, he had performed for his brother often to entertain him on the days he was confined to bed.
Now, even though there was no longer a need for that, Tenn admittedly still loved performing. Perhaps it was in his blood.
“As long as you’re sure.” his father told him. “You’re still schooling and we don’t want you to be overwhelmed. Being an idol is tough.”
“But if it’s what you want, darling.” his mother chimed in, her inhuman pink eyes glimmering in the artificial light. “We’ll support you.”
Tenn looked at Riku, who sat in between their parents with a half-empty blood bag in between his hands. Beneath the artificial light, Riku’s red eyes shone like their mother’s, reminding Tenn of his inhumane nature. For a second, his brother looked uncertain. He was not smiling. And when he did part his lips, Tenn could see the smallest peeks of his fangs.
“I’ll support you too.” Riku said at last. “I want...Tenn-nii to be loved by others too.”
“If I’ll ever get famous enough for that.” Tenn joked.
Riku smiled, but Tenn remembers his brother did not laugh at his weak attempt of humor. Perhaps Tenn should have noticed then.
Riku typically laughed at his jokes, no matter how strange they are. No matter how much he had to force himself to do it because he wanted to please his older brother.
That night, his brother did not make that effort.
“Tenn-nii is talented.” Riku said. “People will definitely love you.”
Tenn, nevertheless, smiled back.
“Thank you, Riku.”
Perhaps he should have really noticed it back then.
Riku had been right. Tenn did grow popular. He and his new teammates, Yaotome Gaku and Tsunashi Ryunosuke.
The three of them were unstoppable together. Tenn felt as though he tried a little bit harder, he could very well grasp the stars above him.
And hand them over to his sweet little brother.
Two years later, as Tenn grew higher and higher into his career as an idol, he received a text message from Riku.
Tenn-nii! Soon, we will share the stage together.
“Ah, an entertainment agency recruited him as an idol.” his mother told him over the phone one night. Well, it’s night time in Tokyo, which would explain why his mother was the one who answered the phone. She would normally be too weak due to the summer heat, otherwise.
Tenn looked at the sun shining outside his window. While sunny, summers overseas are generally milder than in Tokyo. Riku would have surely loved this. Behind him, Gaku laid asleep on the hotel bed, exhausted from yesterday’s fan event. Ryuu was snoring on the couch, blacked out from the alcohol.
“An entertainment agency?” Tenn echoed. “Which one?”
There was a pause at the other end of the line as his mother mulled over her answer.
“Takanashi Productions, was it? I think Riku would debut in a couple of weeks, too. Oh, Tenn. Their group name is so cute! They’re called IDOLiSH7! Charming, isn’t it?”
Charming turned out to be the right word for it. When the group finally debuted a couple of weeks later, they had this naive charm about them, fitting for a group produced from a smaller agency. Their performance wasn’t as polished as TRIGGER’s and they definitely sang different genres.
But Gaku and Ryuu were quickly smitten by their juniors and Tenn begrudgingly admitted that they were difficult rookies to dislike.
Especially since these rookies had Riku standing tall and proud as their shiny center.
“Tenn-nii!” Riku greeted him one day. Tenn barely managed to catch him as his little brother practically launched himself against him, the force of it hard enough to send Tenn stumbling slightly on his feet.
His career as an idol meant that he rarely saw his brother these days, but had Riku always been this strong?
“Riku.” Tenn hissed. “We’re at work. Be professional.”
Riku gave him that familiar pout that softened Tenn’s heart almost immediately. “It’s not like we’re hiding some sort of big secret. Well...not one that mattered anyway.”
Tenn looked around them to make sure no one was listening in. In the entertainment world, the walls have ears.
“Do they know?” he whispered.
Riku smiled. Tenn could see his fangs peeking out.
“Just my group and my manager. No one else does.”
“How will you perform if you’re weak against the sun?” Tenn insisted. “People are going to eventually piece things together if you keep skipping -”
Riku’s laughter cut off his words, startling Tenn with Riku’s seemingly lack of concern.
“It’s not like I’ll die when I’m under the sun, Tenn-nii. You and I both know that’s just a silly myth. I’ll figure out a way.” Riku tilted his head, narrowing his eyes with mischief. “I used to be a sickly child, remember? I can put on a convincing act of a poor sickly idol who’s allergic to the sun. Fans love the feeling of being able to protect their idols, after all.”
Riku reached out and placed a hand on Tenn’s shoulder. Maybe it was Tenn’s imagination, but he felt a prick against his skin, like sharp nails pressing too hard.
“Besides.” Riku added. “I want to stand next to you on stage, Tenn-nii.” Then, in a smaller voice, “I want to adore you more than all these fans could.”
Tenn blinked. “Riku…”
He must have imagined the last part, right?
“I better go now.” Riku said. “I’ll be careful not to expose myself, Tenn-nii. Don’t worry too much.” He gave Tenn one last smile before turning around the corner. “Now that we’re both idols, you can truly be my star. Just as I’ll truly be your sun.”
Tenn really should have seen the signs earlier.
Riku’s his sun and the brightest light in his life.. But perhaps, it was the very same brightness that kept Tenn from seeing the shadows that slowly creeped into Riku’s inhuman heart.
IDOLiSH7’s popularity practically skyrocketed ever since their debut.
With Riku’s charms and the group’s overall bubbly energy, the number of their fans grew and grew with each passing day. Part of it may have been because of the fans’ knowledge of Riku and Tenn’s relationship, but Tenn knew that the group had a pull of their own entirely different from TRIGGER. By the time their first anniversary came around, IDOLiSH7’s fanbase rivaled that of TRIGGER’s. TRIGGER’s manager and agency president grew antsy, but TRIGGER themselves didn’t particularly mind.
“They’re worthy rivals.” Gaku said. “And I genuinely like them.”
“They’re like our little brothers.” Ryuu agreed with an easy smile. “Tenn, you must be happy about working on your own, right?”
“As long as he’s professional.” Tenn huffed with a cross of his arms. From the way Gaku and Ryuu ruffled his hair afterwards with a teasing smile, he could tell that they could see past his prickly front.
Of course, Tenn was happy. As Riku grew in popularity, the opportunities to work with him increased in tandem. They went on shows together, even had joint concerts every now and then. Everytime he turned his head and saw his brother standing next to him, smiling brightly as he waved at the crowd, Tenn’s heart squeezed. Like he’s about to cry.
Of course, he’s happy. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sometime nearing Riku’s second year as an idol, their father died.
It had been due to pneumonia - a cause so mundane that Tenn nearly didn’t want to believe it. It was his manager who broke the news to him and when he rushed back home, he already found Riku at the front door, shielded from the sun by the parasol in his hand.
His brother, always the crybaby, did not cry that day. His red eyes, bright as jewels as they are, were sad but calm. He held out a hand towards Tenn.
“Mom is waiting.” he said.
Tenn took his hand and found that unlike Tenn’s own, Riku’s hand did not tremble even the slightest.
The funeral was quiet. Only close family members and the twins’ respective group members were present. Throughout the entire funeral, their mother barely spoke a word. Instead, she sat beside the altar in her black kimono and her long fair hair tumbling down her shoulders in waves with her head constantly facing the picture of their father.
Tenn remembers how fixated she seemed on that picture almost.
Like Riku, their mother did not cry.
From time to time, Tenn’s eyes drifted towards the bedroom door, kept locked from everyone except their mother. It was Riku’s hand squeezing his that kept him grounded to reality and reminded him to keep his mouth shut.
There was a ceramic jar in the middle of the altar, meant to hold their father’s ashes.
When the last of the visitors went home, leaving the now family of three alone in the living room in front of the altar did Tenn dared to open his mouth.
“It’s empty.” he said. “Dad’s ashes...they’re not there, aren’t they?”
Their mother kept silent for a moment. The twins watched as she took their father’s picture and caressed the glass lightly with her hand. When she finally turned to him, there was a serene look on her face.
“We don’t need them.” she said. And left it like that.
That night as they lay in bed, Tenn felt Riku caressing his cheek.
“Don’t worry too much. Mom will be fine.” Riku whispered.
“You don’t seem too sad yourself, Riku.” Tenn whispered back. It would have sounded accusatory, if it weren’t for the pure concern on his face. “You and Mom…”
To his surprise, Riku merely smiled.
“We’re vampires, Tenn-nii. It was bound to happen one day.”
“Riku, you -”
“But don’t worry.” Riku continued, snaking an arm around his older brother’s shoulder to pull him closer. Tenn could feel the warm puffs of Riku’s face washing over his face and see just how bright his brother’s irises are. “We will never be apart.”
Tenn must have imagined it, but with Riku’s mouth so close to his throat, he thought he felt something sharp pricking his skin.
“Just like how Mom will always be with Dad -” Riku breathed. “ - we will always be together.”
The next day, their mother went missing.
On the day Tenn would discover he would never see his mother again, he found out two things.
- His mother did not take anything with her except his father’s picture.
- Their parents’ bed was left undone and the markings on the mattress suggested that two people were lying on it.
“I told you, Tenn-nii.” Riku said from behind him, startling Tenn. He turned around to meet his little brother’s gaze and was nearly shocked to the core of how calm Riku looked, as though he did not just lose their parents one day after another.
Instead, there was a smile on Riku’s face.
“They will always be together.”
The signs only kept growing more obvious.
And yet Tenn continued to fail in noticing them.
After their father’s passing and their mother’s disappearance, Tenn moved in with Gaku and Ryuu in a shared apartment. He could tell that Riku was less than pleased despite the smile on his face, but Riku had long moved to his group’s dormitory since their popularity grew so Tenn figured it was an arrangement his little brother would quickly get used to.
They lived separately before anyway. Riku will not hold this against him for too long.
But still, Tenn did honestly find it strange. Why would Riku be bothered by it now? Even before Riku became an idol, Tenn was rarely home to begin with. And when Riku debuted, Riku stopped living in the house entirely, except for his rare days off.
Now with no reason to stay in the now empty house, Tenn decided to take the same route as Riku did - living with his group mates.
And yet, there was no mistaking the slight dip in Riku’s smile when Tenn told him. Riku was definitely not pleased by the idea. But why ?
“Are you still mad at me?” Tenn asked him one day during another one of IDOLiSH7’s collaborative schedules with TRIGGER.
Riku blinked at him innocently. “Why would I be mad at you, Tenn-nii?”
Tenn frowned. “But -”
Both twins turned their heads towards the direction of the voice. Gaku was waving at them, running one hand through his sweat-damp hair. Tenn found himself involuntarily swallowing.
With his form fitting shirt and jeans, Gaku admittedly did look really good. He supposed there was a reason why the man won the number one for most desired men three years in a row.
“Our recording is gonna start soon.” Gaku said. “Tenn, they need you back there -'' He paused in between them. “Wait...did I interrupt something?”
Tenn shook his head. “No, you didn’t. I’ll hurry back, okay?”
Gaku glanced in between the twins. Tenn tried to keep his expression neutral but Gaku has always been a perceptive guy. He prayed hard that Gaku would not notice the strange tension between him and Riku.
“If you’re sure.” Gaku said at last. He lifted his hand and surprised Tenn by softly patting his hair. “You better go then. Wouldn’t want to keep them waiting.”
The gesture had been so sudden that Tenn barely had time to turn his face away to prevent Gaku from seeing the flush on his cheek. He coughed loudly and swatted his hand away.
“You don’t have to do that.” he grumbled with a mutter. “I’m not a child.”
He turned back to Riku. “We’ll talk again later, okay?”
Riku nodded, his grin still on his face. “Of course.”
Tenn spared Gaku another glance before quickly looking away, not wanting to betray his emotions by blushing again. He quickly walked away towards the recording studio, making a mental note to continue his conversation with Riku again later.
Tenn was unaware of Riku’s intense gaze on the brief exchange between Gaku and himself, nor of the conversation that followed.
“Yaotome-san.” Riku said idly. “You must really care for Tenn-nii.”
“Of course I do.” Gaku replied without hesitation. “I care for him deeply. That’s why I took him in after what happened to your parents. Well, originally Ryuu was supposed to live with us too but he’s been getting crazy schedules lately that he needed to move elsewhere -”
“So.” Riku interrupted. “It’s just you and Tenn-nii, now?”
If Tenn was there, he would have noticed the growing chill in his little brother’s voice. Noticed the slight lengthening of his fangs and the growing intensity of his red hues.
But he was not there and Gaku was not Tenn. He didn’t grow up with Riku. Didn’t grow up with a vampire and knew him long enough to notice every single one of his inhuman emotions.
Gaku rubbed his neck sheepishly. “I suppose so, yeah.” He looked at Riku. “Are you okay with that, Nanase?”
If Tenn was there, he would have told Gaku that the smile on his face was too wide to be natural. He would have pointed out the sharpness of his growing canines.
Would have warned Gaku to run .
“Yes.” Riku said cheerfully. “Why would I not be?”
One day, perhaps no more than a few weeks after that conversation, Gaku didn’t come home.
As Tenn waited alone in the apartment, anxiously waiting for any updates sent from Ryuu and Anesagi, his phone rang.
“Riku?” he said upon picking up. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m outside your apartment, Tenn-nii!” Riku said. “I thought since...everyone else is looking for Yaotome-san, I should keep you company.”
At first, all Tenn could feel was a sense of relief. His heart did a familiar squeeze at the thought of his brother’s concern for him. Ever since their parents disappeared, Riku was more protective than usual. He smiled. Riku must be worried.
“Hold on.” he said. “I’ll come get you -”
And then he heard a ping of a notification. Furrowing his brows, he looked at his phone and noticed that there was an incoming call from Ryuu.
“Ah, Riku. Wait. I have a call.”
Tenn quickly switched lines. Instantly, before he could even say a word in, he heard a terrible sound. It sounded like something was being forcefully dragged across a sharp surface, followed by the most heartbreaking sound he had ever heard.
Ryuu was crying.
“Ryuu?!” he said urgently into the phone. “Ryuu, what’s wrong -”
“We found him.” came the quiet broken whisper. “B-but -”
There was more sobbing. Anesagi’s. Some frantic shouting. In the loneliness of his apartment, fear gripped Tenn’s heart. He gripped the phone tighter in his hands. “Ryuu, what’s happened -”
A beat of silence.
“Gaku is dead.” Ryuu shuddered into the phone. “We found him and he’s not moving and oh my god, Tenn, there’s blood everywhere -”
Tenn heard another ping. Riku was waiting on the other line. Riku who was standing outside his apartment.
His brother who was not quite human. His clear displeasure towards Tenn living here despite saying otherwise -
It couldn’t be. Tenn was overthinking things. It couldn’t be -
Tenn’s head jerked towards the door.
“Tenn-nii, I got tired waiting at the lobby so I asked the cute receptionist to ring me up to your floor. Won’t you let me in?”
Tenn stared at the door. Ryuu was speaking into his ear. Blood. Gaku’s dead. There was a hole in his stomach. Blood. There was so much of it. His throat was torn. Ryuu was sobbing into his ear. Who could have done this to Gaku -
“Riku.” Tenn asked in a voice barely above a whisper. “What did you do ?”
There was a beat of silence. Amidst the thundering of his heart, Tenn begged Riku to deny it. It couldn’t be him, right? Tenn was imagining things. Riku would never do something like -
“Ah...so Tenn-nii found out?” There is a giggle from the other side of the door. “As expected of Tenn-nii; so smart.”
Tenn couldn’t stop the strangled sound that came out from his throat as he stumbled backwards away from the door. His pupils shrunk in terror as he began shaking more and more.
“Why?” he demanded. “Why Gaku?”
“Because I told you, didn’t I?”
There was a sound of something heavy pressing itself against the door, followed by loud tapping. Another giggle drifted into the room, reminding Tenn of just how close Riku actually was.
“We will always be together, Tenn-nii.” Riku said. “You’re my stars and I’m your sun. I will not let anyone else replace our roles.”
“You’re…” Tenn covered his ears, desperately shaking his head. “This is a bad dream. It must be.”
“Mom did the same, you know.” Riku added gleefully. “Why let the flames claim the person she loved? So she took him away.” There were more scratching sounds against the door. “It’s the same for me, Tenn-nii. I won’t let anyone take you away.”
This cannot be happening. Riku, his own brother -
“Let me in, Tenn-nii.” Riku sang. “Let me see my beloved brother’s face. I want to comfort you~”
There was a knock - like Riku was mocking him as he asked him for permission to enter Tenn’s new home. Vampires couldn’t enter private residences without explicit permission, after all. It was their only real weakness aside from the sun.
“Let me in, Tenn-nii.” he repeated. “You really don’t want to test my patience.”
Tenn, in his fear, never let Riku in.
And as promised by Riku, he severely paid for the price.
The signs were all there. Tenn should have noticed them sooner.
Now, Tenn sits numbly on the floor as he watches the news.
There is his face on the TV screen - the only survivor of the idol massacre that raged through the entertainment world. One by one, idols were picked off one by one. Members of IDOLiSH7. Rookie idols TRIGGER used to work with. Recently, Ryuu was caught. His body was found just yesterday.
The killer hasn’t been discovered. Kujou Tenn has locked himself in his apartment for weeks. No rescue attempts could ever reach him. Every single one has been met with gruesome deaths.
Nanase Riku, the only other survivor, is missing. People are looking for him.
There is a scratching on the door again.
Tenn closes his eyes. He thinks of the messages he sent to Ryuu. All the calls he made to everyone else. Warning them to run. Warning them to hide. He couldn’t tell them why. Because as fearful as he was towards him, Tenn’s heart remains foolish. Remains soft. Remains stupidly protective over his little brother.
And now he’s paying the price.
He really should have noticed the signs.
“Tenn-nii, how long are we going to keep playing this game?” Riku sighs from the other side. “Who do you want me to kill next, Tenn-nii? Do you want everyone to die? You’re so cold-hearted, Tenn-nii.”
Tenn tiredly lifts his gaze towards the door.
Tenn gets up from the floor. The marble floor is dusty beneath his feet, muting his footsteps. It’s fine. He’s sure his little brother could hear him.
“You’re my stars and I’m your sun, Tenn-nii.” Riku sings. “I miss your glimmering brightness. Won’t you let me see it once more?”
He hears a dreamy sigh.
“With no one else standing in between us, we can truly shine on stage again. Is that why you waited until I killed everyone? Is that why? Oh Tenn-nii, I knew you’d understand. You’re my big brother, after all.”
Tenn reaches for the doorknob. His wrists look really skinny. When was the last time he had eaten properly?
“Tenn-nii, I love you.”
He twists the doorknob and pulls.
Riku stands in front of him. There is a serene smile on his face, his lips smeared by fresh blood. His eyes glow brightly. He’s splashed with red. From the blood on his fangs, lips and clothes, to the vibrant shade of his hair.
He shines so brightly, like the sun itself.
Tenn should have seen them long ago. The signs.
Now, he won’t ever look away.
His lips move.
“Come in, Riku.” he says hoarsely. “Big brother wants to see you.”
Riku’s smile stretches wider. He takes the first step into Tenn’s home, no longer held back by an invisible barrier. His blood-stained hand extends forward to touch Tenn’s face.
Riku is looking at him with eyes shining with love. Tenn has long lost the light in his.
“Me too, Tenn-nii.” Riku says with a soft delight. “I’ve wanted to see you for so long. ”
Tenn sees a flash of red. There is something sharp pricking his throat, followed by an explosion of pain.
Then, he sees nothing at all.
“It’s okay, Tenn-nii. I’ll take care of you forever.”