Disclaimer: I don't own Code Lyoko.
Close Your Eyes and Pretend
The red letters on my clock change. Now the screen says its 2 AM. 2 AM in the morning. I have barely slept, I have to get up for school in about five hours, but I make no attempt to fall asleep. I know it's not worth it.
Mom and Dad are fighting again.
I'm used to their fighting honestly, but they've never fought this long before. Usually they shout at each other until about 11, then stomp off to their respective areas and cool down for tomorrow's round. It's a never ending cycle, one I'm used to and have accepted as a way of life. This fight is out of the ordinary, sure, but I should be able to close my eyes, turn over, and get some damn sleep.
However, I can't. And the reason is currently huddled in my arms, whimpering and trembling every time Dad's voice goes up another level or something crashes.
Hiroki has never heard my parents fight; usually I do my best to have him either at a friend's house or asleep before they start shouting at the top of their lungs, and because he sleeps like a rock to begin with he never hears them. But tonight is different, I was late getting home because of a XANA attack, and by the time I get inside Mom and Dad are already throwing punches.
And Hiroki is huddled at the top of the stairs, trembling and tears running silently down his cheeks; all I can guess is he either heard the shouts and went to investigate, or somehow he got caught in the middle of the hell that is my parents' arguments. It doesn't matter either way, because I carefully creep past the kitchen before running upstairs, scooping him into my arms, and carrying him into my bedroom.
I know that he's staying with me tonight.
His body crunches up again as Mom's voice rises to a keening wail, and my arms tighten around him. He shouldn't have to hear this, he's only a kid, but I got back to late to get him out of the crossfire. Now we both have to listen, and because he's never heard them before it's like the first time for me all over again.
"When are they going to stop?" His voice is muffled because his face is buried against my chest, his attempt to muffle out the angry voices. "When are they going to stop fighting? Make them stop, Yumi."
I wish I could, but if I went out there now I'd just get yelled at and run back to my room with my tail between my legs. But what really breaks my heart is that Hiroki thinks I can actually make them stop, because I'm his big sister and he needs me to protect him.
But I can't protect him, and I've never felt so helpless. This is nothing compared to a XANA attack, because with XANA at least I'm able to do something. But here I can do nothing but listen to the voices rise and fall and hold the small, trembling boy that is a shell of my brother.
I've never seen him like this, ever. Usually Hiroki is so hyper you'd think he has sugar for blood, bouncing off the walls and running into things and teasing me about Ulrich. But tonight he is crying, tonight he trembles and huddles closer to me, burying his face into my chest and his fingers digging into my shoulders until I feel pain, but I say nothing because I know he is trying to escape. He's always been so innocent, and yet now I feel that innocence leaving him, and it seems as though my arms are the only thing holding him together.
"What can we do, Yumi?" he whispers. "How can we make it stop?"
I wish I knew, but I don't and it hurts, because he thinks I do. I never realized it, but tonight I see that Hiroki thinks I know everything. I mean, I'm his big sister. I should know everything, shouldn't I?
But I don't.
I'll pretend, for his sake. Just for tonight, I'll lie and pretend that I know everything. I'll pretend I know why the sky is blue and the grass is green. I'll pretend I know why the world is full of love and danger. I'll pretend I know why the moon comes out at night and the sun comes at during the day.
I'll pretend I know how to make Mom and Dad stop fighting, when I don't know how. Because for tonight, Hiroki needs me to pretend.
"Close your eyes, Hiroki."
He looks up at me. "What?"
"Close your eyes and pretend."
He hesitates before closing his eyes obediently, something else I'm not use to. "What do you want me to pretend, Yumi?"
I close my eyes as well, needing to join him in the fantasy. "Pretend tonight is over. It's morning. The sun is shining, it's warm and everything's quiet. Mom and Dad aren't fighting anymore. Mom's making breakfast and Dad's drinking coffee and reading the paper."
"Like he always does?"
"Yeah. Like he always does."
Dad's voice booms at that very moment, causing Hiroki to jump and stiffen in my arms. "Yumi!"
"Easy, Hiroki. Keep your eyes closed. Pretend, remember?"
Hiroki leans into me, and I feel him sigh. I can't tell if he closes his eyes or not, but for the first time since I brought him into my room he is totally relaxed. Something uncurls inside me at the feeling, and for the first time I think we'll both be able to get through the night.
Another sigh escapes Hiroki, but this one is deeper and softer then the last, and I cautiously open my eyes, looking down at him. His head is nestled against my chest, his breathing deep and even; he has fallen asleep, his fingers finally loose on my shoulders. I'm more then certain there will be marks on my skin, but I don't care.
Carefully I shift his weight, holding him curved against one arm as I slowly lower to my bed, stretching out so Hiroki is curled up beside me away from the door, away from the shouting. I gently brush loose strands of hair out of his face before finally resting my head on my pillow, sighing.
I'll do what Hiroki did, what I told him to do. I'll close my eyes and pretend, pretend that it's tomorrow and everything will be okay when deep down I know it isn't okay, and nothing can change that.
But tonight, that doesn't matter. Tonight my brother is asleep beside me as Mom and Dad fight, and for tonight I will close my eyes and pretend that we live in a world without danger.
Random inspiration for me. It was just a thought really, because we've never seen how the fighting affects Hiroki and Yumi... and so this little piece was born. I like Hiroki, but for some reason I really tortured him in this fic.
Read and review, please!