Disclaimer: Don't own any of it.
Run, run, run
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Like you to stay
Want you to be my prize
Runaway- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Christmas Day, 4:36 am
She'd like to say that it was accident. That she stumbled. That she was aiming for his cheek and he turned at just the wrong (right) moment and their lips brushed. But if she stops to think about it (which she does too often) she knows that it's what she intended. What she had intended for quite some time. Since the search for the stone.
Something shifted. Perhaps it was the nightly heart to hearts before bed, or their closeness as they huddled together to share warmth during the night. It was something. Something beyond anything that she had ever experienced.
When they got back to New York, she ignored it. Buried it deep somewhere inside of herself. Somewhere she hoped she would never be able to find again.
And she managed, for quite some time.
11 days before Christmas, 6:58 pm
She had made it through her first semester of college. A feat that many in her family never dreamed possible, herself included.
Sure, she was only going to Rhode Island School of Design while Justin was off at Yale, proving for the thousandth time that he was smarter than his sister. Not like she needed reminding of it. Geesh.
The taxi driver pulls as close to the sub station as possible and heaves a sigh when Alex only gives him a three dollar tip. She rolls her eyes, God, like she can even afford that. She spent a good portion of her money on the bus ticket to New York. She's a freshman with a shitty waitressing job and can barely afford a pack of Ramen Noodles. She steps out of the cab and heaves a sigh as she lifts her luggage out of the back seat. It sure would be nice to have some help. For Christ's sake, she's a tiny girl.
Finally she removes her bag and barely slams the door before the cab driver speeds off into traffic.
"Alex!" Her dad exclaims when she enters the loft. "Theresa!" He yells over his shoulder, "Our baby girl is home!" Her dad wraps her up and lifts her, spinning her around like he used to years ago. Mid spin, she catches site of her mother rushing down the stairs and into the living room.
"Hey mom, hey dad," she gets in before her mom wraps her up tighter than her father did seconds before and she's pretty sure that if her mother was still able to lift her, she would have. "Oof," she mumbles in her mom's hair, "I love you guys and all, but you need to let me breathe for a sec, okay?"
"Oh! Of course!" her mother says, finally letting her go, only to hold her face in both of her hands and run her cold fingers over the planes of her face, like it's been years, not weeks since she last saw her daughter, "Oh Alex, we missed you so much."
Alex offers her a mother a small grin before she pulls away from her grasp, "I missed you, too."
They're all silent for a moment, studying the changes in each other. Jerry and Theresa take in the new hollowness of their daughter's cheeks and her frail wrists, both vowing to feed her as much as they can before she makes her return to RISD. Alex notices her dad has put on a couple more pounds, lost some more hair, and realizes with some shock that her mother's hair is graying.
Jerry finally spots her suitcase and offers to take it up to her old room for her. She smiles a thanks, hugs her mother one more time before following her father up the stairs. All she wants to do is sleep. Her last exam was exhausting, and to be perfectly honest, she hasn't been sleeping that well lately. She's been dreading the trip home, been dreading seeing Justin again.
She can feel that—thing, welling up inside her again. The same thing she thought she had buried and forgotten about years ago.
When they walk past Justin's room she tries not to look at it but fails (like she has at many things in her short life). His door is ajar and she sees everything is exactly the way it was when he left a week before her in August. His blue bed is neatly made, books all aligned on the shelf, DVDs neatly organized and his dolls (okay, his action figures) are on display on his desk next to his desktop.
She sighs lightly and turns away, biting her lips and willing tears not to fall. Her dad is telling her something she realizes, something about how they haven't touched her room. Her father opens the door and notices with some disdain that her father was right; nothing's changed.
She must have fallen asleep. The room is darker than it was a couple hours ago and the house is silent. She turns to the right and checks the time on her alarm clock, 2:59 am. "God," she mutters and scrubs her hands over her face. She's royally screwed up her sleeping habit for the next few nights. She figures she'll put her time awake to use.
She climbs off the bed and begins the mundane task of unpacking her bag. Pulling out her clothes, folding them and putting them neatly in their own drawers. Bras and panties in the top drawer followed by old t-shirts and pajama bottoms in the next. She evens takes the time to hang up her nicer clothes; dresses, blouses, jeans and skirts.
Forty five minutes later her suitcase is empty and she sits on the edge of her bed, taking in the sights that used to be so familiar and have somehow become a distant memory. She groans and falls back on the bed. She wishes she could've gone on vacation with some of her friends. But her mother would have none of that and begged for weeks that she come home for Christmas.
"I could be in Florida," she huffs to herself and closes her eyes. Her stomach growls and she groans. "Ugh. Guess I should feed you."
She carefully walks past her brother's room, not wanting to wake him and quickly walks down the stairs, eager for some leftovers that she's sure her mother put in the fridge for her.
She holds her breath and stops halfway down the stairs when she sees the shallow light from the fridge and the outline of—"Justin." She half sighs, loud enough for him to hear.
He turns and offers her a rare, small smile, "Alex."