I had a weird urge to continue this. Is this going to become the next Physics...??

Oh well.

Still not really slash.

Ridges and Grooves: Crippled, Staring

I guess it must be around midnight, or so. Maybe a little later than that. I'm rolled over to face the wall, trying to get to sleep, half-under my sheets, annoyance slowly pulsing in my head about the fact that he's got his fuckin' light on still. I can feel him: he's facing me, his sheets pulled up to his chin, his eyes wide and staring at me. I wish he'd fuckin' shut that light off. Then at least I could pretend he couldn't see me.

I roll back over and glare at him, and he starts a little: he thought I was asleep. His sunburned face turns redder, and he mutters an apology, reaching out and fumbling around the base of his light to shut it off. It disappears with a surprisingly loud chukk, and I can't see anymore, but I know he's still looking out through the darkness at me. I throw my sheets over my bad leg and lie on my back, trying to get comfortable. His breathing isn't slowing down. Mine is loud in my ears.

"…Clutch?" he asks, and I internally groan. I don't want to talk to him, right now. I want to go to sleep. I grunt, and he mistakenly takes that for a response. I hear him shuffle around in his bed. "…Does…your leg hurt, yo?"

My stomach clenches, like somebody's tightening their fist around it. "Only when you stare at it."

He makes an embarrassed noise, and I hear him push his face into his pillow, sorry that he asked. I sigh through my nose, turn my head to look at him. My eyes are adjusting to the dark, and I see a mop of green hair poking out of old white bed sheets, a little dog curled at his feet. I cough. He makes me feel bad and he doesn't even know it. I keep watching him for a few minutes, just until I hear his breaths start to get shallower, and then I speak up. "…Hey…brat. You still with me?"

"Hmmm…" he murmurs, telling me he was just dozing off. I snap my fingers to wake him up, and Pots whimpers unhappily.

"…You got a reason why you look at me all the time?" I ask, and I can almost hear him tense up. I genuinely want to know this, though. "I mean…you're always staring at me. I can feel it, at the weirdest times. We get changed in the morning and you don't even look at me, but like, now…when you think I'm asleep…or, if I'm arguing with Cube or somebody. You're staring at me. I don't get it. What the fuck is wrong with you?!"

He's quiet for a few more seconds, obviously flustered. "…I got nothing else to look at, yo."

"Well, get a damn girlfriend," I growl. "This ain't a free show."

We're both silent after that, neither of us really feeling like falling asleep anymore. Pots sighs and hides his face under his paw, and Yoyo looks over at me again in the dark, and our eyes meet strangely. He looks really sad, for some reason. "…I don't…want a girlfriend," he says softly, and my eyebrows slowly rise in confusion.

"Why the fuck not?!" I ask. He sort of half-shrugs.

"…I don't need one."

"Nobody needs one," I argue. "They're just…well…there. And anyway, it'll keep you from fuckin' annoying me to hell and back, so how's that not a good thing?"

"I don't…want one," he murmurs, squirming a little. "…I'd have to go on dates with her and shit, yo. I like…hanging out with you."

I blink. "…Why?"

"I dunno, yo…'cause…you're cool, I guess."

I snort and smirk, shaking my head and looking up at the ceiling again. "Pffh. Yeah. Sure. I'm an asshole, kid. Everyone says so. Everybody thinks you spend too much time with me."

"Yo, that's not true…Corn says it's good for me to hang out with you. He says he thinks it's made you nicer. Like…you care about me, or something, where you didn't care about anybody else but Jazz before," he murmurs.

I sigh. "It ain't the same with you and her, kid. Know that, alright?"

He looks hard at the side of my face. "…I don't care if you're an asshole," he mumbles. "People are always mean to me, anyway, yo. And I never had a brother before."

I stop, turn, look at him again. He still looks so sad… "…You think of me as your big brother, kid?" He nods. For some reason, that's really flattering, even though I had sort of already guessed it. It's different to actually hear it, I guess. I frown. "…I guess I think of you as my little brother, so…that makes sense, right?"

Yoyo nods again. He looks really tiny, so far away, like he's slowly moving further and further from me. It's kind of shocking when he gets up out of bed and makes his way over to me so fast. I sit up, and he sits beside me, his short, skinny legs draping over the edge of my mattress. He looks even younger in the dark. I can see his eyes, now, running down to my re-exposed leg, but I don't try to cover it up: let him look, even though it makes me uncomfortable. He doesn't know what happened to it. He just knows it's fucked up. It's been like that for a while…all scarred and mangled…hair doesn't grow on it anymore, but I guess that's a good thing: it'd look kind of gross (or…grosser than it already does) if it was hairy and twisted. I grab his wrist and put his fingers on it, and he stares up at me, horrified. I try to look indifferent.

"You like disgusting shit, right?" I ask. "Go ahead. I don't care."

He looks really uncertain, but his fingertips move along the ridges and grooves, careful not to press on the always-there bruises or the clusters of dark veins. He's breathing with his mouth open, his eyes fixated on it, and I feel so nervous, but I try to think it's okay for his sake. He looks amazed and terrified at the same time, running his rough palm back down and pulling away quickly when I move. He's almost panting. "W-what…happened…?" he asks softly. I'm still trying to appear uncaring.

"…Car accident," I murmur softly. That's only a tenth of the truth, but I don't give a shit. His eyebrows knit unhappily, and he stares back down at it, reaching back down and tentatively touching one of the bruises.

"…Do these hurt…?" he questions. I shrug.

"When I run into shit, yeah. Otherwise, no." He's looking at my leg in this weird, horribly sad way, like he understands something about it that I don't. It makes me even more uncomfortable. "…The muscle is what hurts, sometimes. Half of the bone isn't even in there anymore, but…the muscle, around where they replaced it…some of it's dead, some of it just doesn't like the implant. So it aches a lot."

"…I'm sorry," he whispers, and I look at him in surprise.

"Don't you be sorry 'cause I'm a cripple. It ain't your fault."

"You…yo, you're not a cripple!" Yoyo exclaims, staring into my face. "You got a fucked up leg, but…y-you're still a really good skater!"

"I ain't as good as I used to be," I grunt. "Can't go as fast or jump as high. Hell…you know, I'm not even supposed to have that leg, anymore, from just below the knee down. I couldn't do it, though. Gave up all my savings to pay for the operation to save it, 'cause my old man wouldn't. I could've gone to school, graduated, been smart. But I had to use my money to pay for my fuckin' leg. I dropped out of high school after this shit happened, 'cause I thought…what was the point of graduating high school, if I couldn't go to college, y'know?"

Yoyo's face trembles. He looks like he's about to cry. "…Your dad wouldn't pay to save your leg…?!"

"Why should he?" I mutter coldly. "He's the one who ran over it in the first place."

…Yoyo grimaces, and his features scrunch together in pain before he reaches his arms weakly out and grips the shoulders of my shirt, pulling me forward. I grab the shirt by his thin ribs and pick him up, bring him into me: he climbs over my legs and curls against me, like a little baby, crying frailly into my collar. All I can do is hold him there. He cries so much…I sigh deeply. He's so fuckin' young, even though he's already sixteen…he doesn't act like it. Ever. I smooth his hair and he hugs me tighter. What does this even mean, I'm wondering…does he not want me to be in pain? I'm not. It's never hurt me that my dad was the one who did this. I've never had a grudge against him. I've just always hated him, and he's always hated me. And he got what was coming to him, anyway, so it doesn't matter to me anymore. Yoyo hiccups. He'd better not make himself have an asthma attack with all this crying, or I'll get pissed.

"Hey, kid," I say gently, and he nods against me. "…Hey. It doesn't bother me anymore. It shouldn't make you so upset."

"…Anymore," Yoyo echoes, and realizing the significance of that one word, I have to shut up. Saying that showed him that it did once hurt me. Maybe he just doesn't like the thought of me hurting. Me being brought down by anything. Am I really that invincible to him…? It doesn't seem likely, but then, me holding him while he cries at one in the morning doesn't seem likely, either.

He gathers himself surprisingly fast, but he keeps holding onto me, I guess liking being close to me. Brothers can hug, yeah? I guess it's okay. I guess I should show him some love, sometimes. I do care about him a lot. Hell, I told him I loved him, today. Reinforcement, or some shit. I rub his back, gentle 'cause of the sunburn, and for the hell of it, I kiss the top of his head. I'd do it if we really were brothers, so I guess it makes sense to me. "Alright, midget, that's enough," I grumble. "Don't fag out on me now. Go back to your bed and sleep."

He rubs his eye and pulls away from me, getting up obediently and heading back to his island, far far away. Everything seems a lot darker, all of a sudden, and I can't see him when he tucks himself back under the covers. By the time I hear him drift off, I already know I'm not getting any sleep tonight.