Of Us and Them
By: Miroir du Symphonie
Beta'd By: DDL
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Chapter Rating: PG-13
A/N: OMG, guys~ I'm actually posting something here! Yay! I've solved my issues (and my issues' issues) for the time being, and I feel well enough to go ahead with this. (AND I'M A SENIOR NOW, GUYS! CLASS OF 2010 FTW!) Admittedly, the chapters are going to get shorter by at least half, because the 10-page deals I was doing were stressing me the fuck out. I actually wrote half this chapter - a completely different version - and scrapped the whole thing, and wrote this version tonight when I was supposed to be studying AP Bio. *is probably going to suffer for that* Better to have shorter installments than try for long and have nothing at all, right? But I will be updating regularly, as well as continuing my other small project, This Lullaby. Thanks so much everyone for not forgetting me during my months of hardship. You're all wonderful. :'D And this chapter is dedicated to all of you, but especially Cattypatra and my awesome beta, DDL. *clamps rose in teeth and scatters rose petals in DDL's path* Thanks a million for all your support!
Check my livejournal often for updates - http :// mdsymphonie . livejournal . com. Just remove the spaces. :3
En garde, bitches~! And leave this poor author a review, will you?
Glasses and Braces VI
Of Us and Them
The sun hung thickly, shyly, its nervous presence unwanted in the sweaty town. Thin clouds moved about, stubborn dust bunnies that clung to the blue expanse. They did nothing to block the mid-spring heat, nor to stop the rays that settled heavily in his brother's lifeless hair. Its luster had faded in the last week, paled from bright gold to the browning yellow of a rotten banana; his eyes had done the same, now a dull navy. His shoulders, stocky to his twin's svelte, were tightened. Angry.
Cloud's own toes were white, blood welling in the balls of his feet as he peeked, demi-pointe, around the kitchen wall.
The house was silent, its bedrooms bare. He'd driven Athena to the airport last week for a conference in Twilight Town that she'd seemed suspiciously excited about. Sora rushed out with an armload of luggage a few days ago and never came back; their mother hadn't seemed overly concerned when he reported this to her. Leon was also off, bullied into a trip with his father that he was none too happy about.
A gentle flush inundated Cloud's face as his mind sank into the gutter and pulled up the night before Leon's departure.
There was no moon and no light in the house when they'd crept downstairs, into cool darkness, the basement door shutting with a reverent click. Leather creaked lowly; they sat, moving, getting comfortable, reaching out. Within minutes the temperature rose sharply and Cloud found himself gasping for air, his skin flushed a rosy pink beneath his sweaty collar. Leon handled things with gentle fingers, gripping and turning, eyes a stormy gray—neither expected the sharp gasp and low groan that rumbled the brunette's chest as hot liquid spilled over his pale hand.
And Cloud screamed. Loudly.
That had never happened before, not to him, not here. It was a lucky thing he kept bandages and a pot of burn salve around.
Just in case.
He could remember Leon's sheepish smile as Cloud washed and treated his burned hand, offering to replace the spilled fluid. It was nerves, Leon said, as they sat together on the lab stools. He wasn't used to handling other people's chemicals, only his own, and Cloud used a type of flask that was foreign to him. He couldn't bring himself to make Leon worry and shyly refused the entreaty, deftly extinguishing the Bunsen burners and letting the room cool down.
But Leon had liked his basement workspace—the highlight of the night. Cloud had never felt more proud of his research. And the brunette had kissed him, softly, sweetly, injured hand curling gingerly on his cheek. He'd left the next day.
And now Cloud was here, in this lifeless house, watching his sibling stare out into the street. This was nothing like Roxas' usual contemplations; this felt noxious, acidic, burning empathetically in the older blonde's stomach. He couldn't stand to watch it.
Roxas looked up. His gaze was hollow. Cloud fidgeted. "I....I find myself coveting a frozen, artificially flavored and colored treat. Would you accompany me to the nearest retail establishment?"
His brother stared blankly, as if not seeing him at all, before nodding glumly.
"You favor sea salt, yes?"
The sun had sunk slightly in the sky, and a pleasant breeze ruffled his skirt as they walked the dry sidewalk. Summer was dawning months early and it was now too hot for his normally stuffy wear—no one had foreseen that the weather would change so quickly—and he doubted that he'd owned a pair of shorts since his prepubescent years. He'd never had a reason to venture outside during summer or school breaks, preferring to sweat over research in the basement and beg his mother for an air conditioner.
But it was so hot, and Roxas seemed depressed, and the house was so empty and the white garment looked inviting, tossed in a corner of his closet after his date so long ago. There was no one around who would fuss about the change.
Leon had liked it, he remembered. He would have to ask the twins to take him shopping for the summer, now that he had a reason to care about his appearance....
But thinking of the twins made Cloud remember the one beside him, letting his ice pop drip sadly on the thirsty concrete.
"Cloud, can we talk?" His voice sounded choked, forced, as if he was struggling to swallow a frog. The elder changed directions without comment, making for the shady benches of the park.
Roxas did not speak again until pavement touched dirt, coarse grass tickling their bare ankles. His shaking fingers clenched the wooden ice-pop stick tightly, blue leaking into his white palm. "They didn't even consider me," he blurted suddenly. The tremble spread to his arms. "It's always been them. The two of them, I was just some—some fucking add-on—"
His voice cut off sharply, and he flung the uneaten treat. Cloud watched him stare at it, now covered in dirt, a few feet away. He felt confused. "Who—"
"I was fucking Sora," came the blunt admission. Cloud blinked. "I've shared with him all my life, since we were born, birthdays and friends, and took care of him, and I don't....I don't know when it changed, but I wanted that with him, and I found out he wanted it too, but he didn't want to leave his precious Riku behind." Roxas snorted. His empty fingers curled sharply inward, as if Riku's pale neck was clutched between them. "Fucking Riku."
"You and.....our brother? Having....sex?" He couldn't get his mind around it, though his cheeks flushed as the lewd word cleared his lips.
"Roxas...." Cloud began, well and truly shocked. "That's—"
"I know, okay? Just—not now, Cloud. You can yell at me later, but not now. Just please don't tell Mom?" His brother's expression was desperate and his eyes shone, begging Cloud to say that he wouldn't. Slowly, the older blonde shook his head.
"I....no," he said awkwardly, still feeling unsettled. "I am startled, but I will not tell our mother if you do not wish me to. We will, however, discuss....that. But later."
With a meek nod, Roxas went on, talking more to himself than to Cloud. "It wasn't that I minded sharing with Sora, I wanted to share everything with Sora. But I minded sharing Sora, minded it a hell of a lot, because he and fucking Riku had always had something together that I couldn't be a part of, no matter how much I wanted to. But I wanted to make Sora happy, so I went along with it, for a fucking year...."
"You never seemed this....enraged....about the situation," Cloud hedged timidly.
"It sucked to start with," his brother replied, "but it got better. I got to thinking after a while that maybe I could deal with doing both of them. Riku wasn't....bad. He treated us good, and he had a nice sense of humor, and he fucked well. Really well."
A bitter, nostalgic smile curled on Roxas' lips, and Cloud privately thought that that was more about Riku than he'd ever wanted to know.
"But, see, Riku never liked talking about the future. He made that a rule among us three. Said that things in his family were shaky and left it at that, and I respected it the best I could. But then we'd fuck, and I'd doze off, and when I woke up I'd hear them talking. Making plans...."
A small tear wound slowly down the boy's cheek, but he didn't seem to notice it.
".....about how Riku would get some money for inheritance—not much, since he was the youngest, but a little bit. And how they'd crash by you and Leon for a bit after graduation and go job hunting, and then use the inheritance money as a down payment on a small apartment for themselves in the summer before college—"
Roxas began to cry in earnest, softly, hiding his face in his sticky hands. And Cloud saw the little boy that his brother had been, the one who'd trembled at lightning and feared the dark.
He could do nothing but hold out his arms and let his sibling fall into them, sobbing. "They never mentioned me in any of it," he burbled out. "Not once. And then fucking Riku's brother—the oldest one—got two free tickets to the Atlantis resort with his trophy at the sports banquet, but said he didn't want them, and gave them to Riku, and he came over all excited about it, waving the envelope around like a goddamn flag—"
"Is that where Sora is?" Cloud asked softly.
Roxas coughed, shaking, and nodded. "They forgot I was in the room—just stared at each other, like it was no question which one of us would be left behind. I can't do this anymore, Cloud—I'm sick of sharing, sick of giving and never getting back. But sometimes Sora smiles at me, and he's so fucking beautiful that I wonder if I should just settle for what I have now—"
"Your uncertainty is more than reasonable, Roxas," Cloud interrupted, alarmed. "I do not claim to be any sort of authority on these matters, but if you are unhappy, you shouldn't deign to stay that way."
"I just want to matter to someone, Cloud. I want to be looked at the way Sora looks at Riku, like he hung the fucking moon or something. I want...." the younger blonde looked away.
Silently, Cloud squeezed him tighter. There was silence, as they watched the sky ignite.
"I got my snot all over you," Roxas finally pointed out, smiling weakly and standing, his fount of words run dry. Cloud wasn't sure if he'd handled the situation right—if at all—but the light in his brother's reddened eyes had relit itself, and that was enough for him.
"This garment is machine washable. It's quite alright."
"I'm kinda wishing I didn't toss that ice cream now. All that crying made me hungry."
"I will order pizza?"
"I don't like the pizza you order."
"Why ever not?"
"Because you put olives on it, and that's fucking nasty...."
Laughing and shoving, they ambled out of the park—towards home, towards the setting sun.