Oh dear god...this took us way too long, but on the bright side, marching band is over and now we just have Nutcracker and winter guard, so this will hopefully give us some more time to write.
but ya, really, sorry for the ubber long wait but we hope you like it.
Time often seems to move at a faster pace when one is enjoying themselves. For Axel, days simply turned into weeks and then into months. For Roxas, simple minutes turned into slightly more complex hours and so on and so on, leaving only the smallest of forms behind. They passed so much slower than he wanted them to, leaving him time to feel the uncomfortable emptiness in his stomach that he wished he had the power to remove.
Okay, he admitted to himself, he totally had the power. He just didn't really want it to go away. It was almost as if the ripping hunger was a reminder that he was still alive. Maybe it was more like it was a reminder that there was nothing in his stomach to throw up. Now that clearly was a lie. Even Roxas knew that the second he got home he would excuse the pain for just a moment, only to feel guilty, continue eating and then let it all go, sinking and pushing himself back into the past that he had left behind.
If asked to look in the mirror, I probably wouldn't be able to name the person looking back. He has dark bags under his eyes and a slight amount of bruising where his jaw meets his ear. His cheeks are slightly sunken in and his skin; sickly pale. He reminds me of my old self.
In the reflection, I see Axel wrap his arms around my shoulders and lean his head lovingly on top of mine.
"We're at school you know?" My voice sounds a hell of a lot more apathetic than it did a couple of months ago. I'm no exactly sure how I feel about this…
"Ya, but the bell already rang."
"This still feels wr-"
"Are you sure you are okay with me going to my grandparents for the weekend? I mean, I could stay if you really wanted me to." My eyes opened slightly wider than they had been before. That was right; Axel was going to visit family over Christmas.
Truth be told, I really didn't want him to go. I seemed like every time he was away, I would only break into bad habits more. As of late I had been spending most of my free time with him, and when my dad got suspicious of my whereabouts, I would spend the night talking to him on my cell phone.
"It's fine." He smiled at me through the mirror and even though I was only looking at him in a reflection, I could still feel the warmth that it gave off. I was quite satisfied with the idea of just staying were I was and never letting him leave, but I knew that it had to happen sometime. "Come on, let's hurry up and get out of here. I don't want to be at school any longer than I have to be."
Axel laughed and moved from his perch on top of me. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it for good measure. I squeezed it back, reassuring him that, yes, I was going to be okay without him for a while.
Truth be told, I knew I wasn't going to be.
I woke up the first morning of winter vacation, a Saturday, to the silence that scares me most. I turned onto my side to see that Roxas's bed was empty. There was a moment when my heart stopped beating but in the end, I slowly pushed myself out of bed and wandered down the empty hallways and the marble staircase. As I walked past the ballroom, I heard a voice.
The ballroom is where our Father used to hold things like company events and parties. When Roxas was younger, it was where the piano was located and it is still there, even if there is no one to play it. The Piano is a huge, black, fiberglass monstrosity in the center of the room, directly under the planetarium style glass ceiling. The French doors on the opposite wall facing the door give the while room a glow. It was always one of my favorite rooms in the house.
I quickly hid behind the open door and peeked around it to see Kadaj, leaning on the piano, and Roxas on the stool, stroking the keys.
"Do you still play? I remember how much Dad enjoyed it. You were really good too." My eldest brother stated. Roxas shook his head,
"No, never again…" He whispered and Kadaj frowned.
"Well, perhaps you could play one more time, just for me.
"No." Roxas was trying to be assertive, he used that voice on Father a lot, but I knew that it wasn't going to work on Kadaj. He had grown up with it, so it acted like immunity. He looked to my twin, his bottom lip stuck out to a ridiculous position.
"Your immaturity is inexcusable for someone your age. Though…I suppose…Father isn't home, so it should be okay." I saw how he cocked his lip to the side before moving his hands to the correct position. It wasn't so much the reason why he was clearly nervous that I hated, but more that Kadaj had no idea why.
Roxas laid his hands down gently and played one, simple, melancholy note that rang though the entire house, entrancing the birds outside with its lonely beauty. And then, he began to sing.
"Fall into pairs like two ugly
Fish, too rare for extinction
I knew the song, from where I had no idea. There was a level of familiarity that made me want to wander into the room, standing shyly behind my brother while he practiced his beautiful art.
"The veins in your hand
Felt sort of like summer,
Calm to the touch,
And my god how did we survive
The paper scars, oh,
Bless the stars,
You said you're sorry."
I put my hand to his shoulder as he stopped playing and his head turned, making a sudden stop to the ringing of strings and causing a horrible sound to come from the instrument in question.
"That is the song Dad used to play for us, isn't it?" Kadaj asked. He was right too. I remember being younger and Dad would sing it to us whenever we got upset about something.
"You should really start playing again, I'm sure Father wouldn't mind. You don't want all that talent to go to waste."
"Ya, but with a price and if that price is what I think it will be, then I would gladly flush it down the toilet."
I don't think either of my brothers noticed how I was practically on my knees pleading, but think I was the only one that noticed how much Roxas was shaking. I knew then that he wanted to tell Kadaj; wanted it more desperately that he wanted anything right then. I wanted him to tell him too, even if it wasn't going to solve the situation.
I wrinkled my eye brows together.
"Roxas, you have tell him, you know you can!" I could feel the tears coming on quickly. He shrugged himself out of my grasp and started to stand. I didn't particularly try and stop him.
"But I don't want to. It is none of his business." He started the walk towards the door and I turned to look after him.
"Stop lying!" I ran and grabbed onto his arm. He faced me with the most terrifying look on his face. I hadn't seen that expression on his face n a long time and it was then that I started to cry. "I'm tired of waking up every morning to this. I just want it to stop!"
I thought I was going to cry my eyes out; it had been so long since I had let my emotions free like this. Then, all of a sudden, it was there. Tears were streaming down my brothers face and I knew he was giving me permission to talk about it.
"I want it to stop too." He whispered almost inaudibly. I was stunned by this.
"Guys, what is going on? What is wrong?"
I turned now to face Kadaj, his face glistening with worry. If he knew….when he knows….how much worse will that face look?
"You have to promise not to tell anyone what we are about to tell you because this is a really big deal and it could mean a lot for our family if people found out." Roxas held onto my hand from behind me as I said this. I knew he was biting his lip because he always does that when he gets scared I squeezed his hand back because I remember him telling me that Axel does that to comfort him sometimes.
"Father, he hits Roxas." I could hear everyone's breathing silence when I said this. "Well, actually, that is kind of an understatement." I had to struggle to get the words out of my throat but when I looked at my big brother, I knew I had done the right thing.
"Is it true? Roxas?" He looked like he was going to cry too, which would be ridiculous, but not really. I felt my twin move behind me but I never let my eyes leave Kadaj's. "Can I…Can I see?" I knew what he was asking for. He wanted to see the bruises, but I also knew that I had no right to respond, since it wasn't my body to expose.
There was a pause in all action and then I felt my hand being released from my brother's grasp and his shirt being thrown to the ground.
I hadn't been conscience of this before, but I had let my gaze drift from Kadaj. And then he was screaming.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Well, you were never home anyways!"
"You could have called! I would have come home the second I you asked me to!" Kadaj screamed. I knew that he wasn't angry, just surprised and this was usually how he dealt with emotions (though this worries me some, since this is how Father started). "Listen." He said, now calmer. "I am leaving to have lunch with Yazoo, so be prepared to talk more when we get home." He didn't really say anything thing else before he left. Roxas left the room too, slowly, taking his shirt with him. I then saw something, written in between the lines of his back that I hadn't seen in a long, long time. I sighed.
"You know, you should stop while you can." He did stop, but not what I meant.
"What are you getting at now?"
"Nothing, just the fact that you are starving yourself enough so that I can see your spine."
"Then don't look." He stated like it was obvious. I, though, was less than satisfied. He had promised when we returned from DRA that he would keep up his healthy eating habits, but it was clear by his current physical condition that he hadn't been doing so.
"So," I said angry. "You come clean about one thing, but then it turns out that you've been hiding something else! You are ridiculous!" He laughed at me with an apathetic look on his face.
"You can't control me!" He looked crazed. "You and Dad and everybody else can try as hard as you want, but this is MY body, and no one can take that away from me!"
"Then take care of it if you love it so much!" I'm not sure why I was getting so angry with him, since I was aware that I was only making him feel worse about the situation. He slunk away from me, backing out of the room in a nervous manner. He shook his head, frowning and wrinkling his eyebrows.
"You really don't get it, do you? You will never get it!" He turned and ran while I followed. From what I could see, he wasn't running in any particular direction or with any meaning. I just watched from the front door as his feet padded as fast as they could, getting his far, far away from this house.
I needed help. Wasn't this what happened prior to us getting sent off? He had left in a huff and got put in the hospital later that night, when he had finally come home. He had listened to my advice that time, since I had been on his side but now I was the enemy.
I can't keep saving him…
I sat at my desk, working on homework that I knew I was never going to be able to understand. There was something in there about logarithms and asymptotes that meant absolutely nothing to me. I slammed my pencil onto the wood in frustration. I leaned back, throwing my arms over my face and groaning. I heard a noise from downstairs but passed it off as the TV; it was always turned up too high.
A moment later it dawned on me that there was no way in hell the TV would be on. Demyx and Zexion were on the other side of the room playing Go-Fish, it is the only game he knows how to play, and Dad had been spending 24/7 at work lately for reasons undisclosed.
I stood, walking lazily down the stairs. I could see a faint outline of a person through the glass. I rolled my eyes; it was probably a girl scout or some shit like that. When I pulled the door open, my eyes were slightly closed, giving me an accurate excuse as to why I was so rude to the person behind it.
"I don't want to-"
The body in front of me latched onto my stomach, face planting into my chest. I saw a tuft of brown hair from where I was and knew that it was Sora, judging by the height.
Pushing and pulling at his head, I tried to pry him off of me. I managed to loosen his grip, but when I let go, he slapped his face right back to where it was. I heaved a sigh and then went silent. Only in the quiet of us both did I hear the small brunette boy stifle a sob and then, consequently, noticed the dampness of my shirt.
"Sora…" I said, not quite annoyed but rather confused. "Tell me what is-."
"Mh if goit kiw mh hor teng yog!" I couldn't understand a word that came out of his mouth. I stiffened slightly and I watched as he tilted his head up at me. His eyes were red and so was his face, telling me that not only had he been crying pretty hard, but he had probably run here. He swallowed.
"He's going to kill me for telling you….Roxas, he lied to me…" I raised an eyebrow. I mean ya, twins are pretty close, trust me I know, but what makes him think that his brother would never lie to him? He finally released his iron grip on my abdomen and sat on the brick step in front of our house.
"I know, okay! Everyone lies, but he promised me...and I don't want him getting sucked back into this."
"What? Is it like weed or something, because that really isn't a big deal…?" I retorted snottily. When he didn't immediately respond, I knew that this was something that even the best of Demyx's jokes couldn't fix. I sat down beside him, folding my legs up in the most awkward manner possible until I finally let them fall straight in front of me.
"This…doesn't have anything to do with diamond ranch, by any chance?" He nodded his head silently.
"He is so sick Ax…Some nights I swear I can hear him scream. And I know he is starving because sometimes he curls up into this little ball and he told me one time, years ago, that it makes the pain go away. And dear God…I don't want him to die…" That last sentence hit the mark in my brain that connected all of the dots.
'I'm just not hungry'
'It's too early to eat anyways.'
'…Only Roxas has control over.'
Vowels and syllables burned holes in my memory as words poured back into my hands. What Sora had just told me was the missing link in everything.
"He has an eating disorder…"
"He wanted to tell you…but…he was afraid and-."
"Where is he!" I was astounded now. Not by the fact that Roxas did, in fact, have an eating disorder but the fact that Sora shrugged his shoulders at my last comment.
There was anger boiling inside of me and I could tell that it was going to be either extremely productive of destructive. Hopefully the latter. I slammed my body back but didn't feel any pain when it hit the brick. My fist slammed down too, with much ore force, and I was vaguely aware that I was screaming random obscenities.
I was aware that I wasn't fully conscience of what I was doing at the moment, so standing and running seemed rather strange when I finally came to. I wasn't sure where I was going, but I knew that my body did. I could hear my breathing, heavy but rhythmic, as I took leaps and bounds down the beach and when I stopped, I was at a curtain of vines hanging in front of a deep cavern. I pushed the greenery aside gently and poked my head in. Just like before, there was light streaming in through the top opening that fell just above the spring. When I looked into the water, I saw Roxas, naked as far as my eyes could see and what they saw was no pleasure story.
He looked weaker than I remembered him looking last time. His back was turned to me and I could see the way his shoulder blades and spine popped out of his back. I could see faint bruising on them too, which was slightly more than frightening but it could easily be contributed to his lack of body fat. I could only imagine that if you pushed him around more than a little, he would more than likely break.
"Roxas…" I whispered, leaving a good pause after the quiet syllables. He flashed his eyes at me and this time, there was only one thing that I saw in them; frustration. I'm not completely sure with what, but it was there and vivid.
"Get out." He said, not really yelling, but it was not a suggestive statement, even if I took it as such. I didn't move. "I said get out, what are you doing just standing there!"
"You get out." I said, challenging him, which he clearly did not appreciate by the eye roll that I received.
"Get out right now or I swear to God, I will drag you out myself!" He looked like he contemplated his options for a moment as I stood stock still with my hands on my hips. Finally, he swam to the edge and hoisted himself shakily out of the water. He was wearing boxers, but I shut my eyes the second I saw his entire body.
I hadn't noticed in all the time that I had known him that there was any way he could have been as skinny as the person standing in front of me. This person, boy, was not even that; he was skin and bones…nothing more.
It was heart breaking.
I walked over to where he stood toeing off my shoes and taking off my pants for the sole reason that I didn't want them to get wet. I sat down on the side of the spring, slipping my feet carefully into the warm water. I looked to Roxas and patted that ground next to me. He understood my wordless request and came to where I asked. He too stuck his feet in the water but the water reached no further than mid-calf while it hit my knee.
"He told you, didn't he?" I nodded slowly and frowned deeply when I saw how he hung his head in shame. Sadness overcame me and I forgot all anger I had previously felt. I grabbed his hand, briefly noting how cold it was, and brought it up to my cheek and pressed his boney fingers into my flesh.
"Close your eyes…" He did. "This face, this body, will always be yours. I don't care how fat you think you are, or how skinny you feel in my arms, I will love you forever. But…you have to promise to love me too."
"I love you." He said but I could still hear the apathy in his voice. I shook my head, even though I knew he couldn't see it.
"No, you have to feel the words. You have to taste the sound on your tongue and understand them with your entire being. If you are going to say you love someone, you have to mean it. So, Roxas, do you love me?"
I could feel his hand start to shake, whether this was in fear because he knew he didn't, or if it was excitement because he really did, I don't know. He in took a sharp breath that I could tell mas meant to being words with it.
"Axel, I love you…" There was more emotion in his voice than there had been previously but still not as much as I wanted to hear. I knew though, that he was trying very hard just to be here. I knew that my Dad had been right and right now, I was the only thing keeping his feet on the ground.
Slowly, I leaned towards him, planting a gently, heartfelt kiss on his lips. There was a sudden itch in my throat and I found myself pulling away with desperate strength, coughing into my hand with way more force than anyone ever gets used to.
This lasted for about a minute, me coughing until I thought my body was going to die. I looked over to Roxas, who raised an eyebrow at me. I only smiled and waved it off with happiness, not wanting to upset him with anything since this was kind of his moment.
"It's fine. I ran here so I'm just a little out of breath." He gave me a small half smile but for some reason it just wasn't very convincing i.e. He didn't believe me. I stood anyways, not explaining any more than was necessary and reached a hand out for him. He took it willingly and I couldn't tell you how happy it made me to be able to feel him reach out to me. Whether this was metaphorical of the meaning of our relationship or if this was just me being happy that he was still here for me to touch, it gave a whole new meaning to my love for him.
We started walking down the beach and I couldn't help but feel like this had happened before. I looked at Roxas with great circumspection. At noticed for the first time the sheer size of his wrist. How skinny his legs were and how bony his knees and ankles were next to mine.
"Why…do you….?" I asked warily. I noticed his shoulders raise a little and knew he had thought the subject had depleted to nothingness.
"Ya and it kind of took a really bad toll on everyone. I mean, Kadaj moved out to go to college before any of it really got started. Sora stayed, but his grades got really bad cause he could never pay attention in class and Dad wasn't there to help him with school work. I just…I dealt with the stress my own way." I heard the sadness in his voice and it was truly heart breaking. I think I read into the statement a little too much though.
"What about Cloud?" I asked, curious as to why he hadn't mentioned him earlier.
"What about him? He didn't really change….too much." I dropped the subject with that remark. It was very clear that the person he once refered to as "father" meant something very different to him, since he had clearly stopped referring to him as such…
And it makes one wonder.
YAY! finally done, so we really hope that everyone liked it and please R and R cause it makes us smile when we see an email from you guys first thing in the morning! you input means a lot!