Falling Through the Cracks
by Aimme,
with touches by My Note Book

Summary: His mask was flawless. His walls were perfectly structured. Protection and cautionary containment at its finest. Even a perfect pretend held fractures, though, and no matter how strong his glue, under the right circumstances, glue cracked and had to be gutted and filled in again.

Author's Notes: I do not write twincest, slash, or anything of the like. Pure, platonic, brotherly love at its finest is all that I write, so you can hold the same expectation for all of my stories; I also do not write purple prose nor explicit material about sex, if I ever even mention it at all. For some of us, it is really quite relieving to have that kind of assurance at the top of stories, because things we do not want to read are running rampant through the fandom(s) and debasing our favourite characters and the established canon, and, in some cases, adding filth to our minds and making us wish we had a container of Lysol or Lemon Pledge handy to do some mind-scrubbing, eyeball-cleaning after we have run afoul of the scarring and scaring material. That is my humble opinion and my two cents, you can take it or leave it, because it really does not matter which one you do.
(Warnings:) Furthermore, some of the issues dealt with in this story are delicate ones, and I ask that if you are weak of heart, please do not hurt yourself. See the rest of the author's note at the end...
Additionally, there is angst-galore ahead, so if you (like me) are pretty much an angst-whore, enjoy!

Disclaimers:
Don't own it, don't know if I want to. I just want to play here.

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Chapter One - Harsh Sobs Burn From the Inside Up

Oh, if only I could find someone
To forgive me for the things I've done
To tell you or not, to let you in or keep hidden
To fess up the secrets that I hide so deeply
I'd rather not face the terror of knowing me
When I know all that is better left forgotten

The back wall had twenty-six four-inch long cracks, five twelve-inch runs, and one half-inch margin in the far corner. Otherwise, the wall was flawless. Tipton construction at its finest. He knew exactly where each one was…and he knew how they got there. He had stared at that blank expanse, in unsoiled perfection for too long; he had finally, on two or three occasions, marred that flawless wall. Nothing was perfect; no wall held. No mask was without cracks.

Now, he memorized their seemingly random, jagged lines, hugging his knees to his chest and stuck so far inside himself he had forgotten what was important beyond the confines he secluded himself in. Perhaps there was a method to chance, and chance itself was not so un-ordained and random; perhaps even "at random" was less that and held its own precision.

Perhaps life was a black hole sucking the life out of space itself.

Like broken veins drained his lifeblood from his very existence.

The jagged lines had become blurred. They ran and wavered, but they would not disappear. His whole being fit inside those jagged lines, crammed into the sharp and serrated ravines that marred an isolating wall.

His mask was flawless. His walls were perfectly structured. Protection and cautionary containment at its finest. Even a perfect pretend held fractures, though, and no matter how strong his glue, under the right circumstances, glue cracked and had to be gutted and filled in again.

Blood flowed from these cuts. And when his cracks were covered over, it gathered beneath, creating pressure—lending to the splintering of his holding glue. When it had no outlet, it pooled, waiting for him to gut the cracks, cutting them open again, and the blood seeped through, hot and sticky and painful. But oh so morbidly satisfying. He would be driven to the point of needing it, craving it, the release and relieving of that pressure a small catch of air to crashing lungs.

And it got so hard to breathe.

His heart was a burning white-hot ember a million times hotter than the surface of the sun.

The knot in his chest twisted, pulling tighter, and suffocation was a rather detached thought in his darkening mind. Panic pushed to set in, but deep inside him he watched with a disconnected air of calm from the plague stealing over him. It was getting hard to breathe; let it. The cracks spread a little more; let them. The world was a blurry mass of swirling colours of dark tinges, branding his eyes with searing heat; he left them alone.

A sob choked him, forcing a seizure from broken shoulders. He held his knees tighter, muffling the cry of agony in the fabric. It was choked and caught and buried, but it closed off his throat and threatened already failing lungs.

His heart pressed against the obstruction, forcing another broken sob from airways that could not handle the loss of more air.

His chest tightened and the pressure increased, and his breathing was short and ragged.

And then came the Voices.

'Idiot…'

Self-deprecating.

'Stupid, never get anything right…'

Self-criticizing.

'You're a lost cause; should've ended it a long time ago…'

Self-condemning.

'You're just a useless mass; you're only taking up space. You're worthless.'

Self-loathing.

As if it were possible, his chest tightened more, that choking, aching, burning knot twisting more, turning his insides into one big lump of suffocating pain. Another sob caught in his throat, cutting off his air when it met the obstruction there and jerking his shoulders.

He couldn't breathe.

'Good.'

This voice was always laughing, always laced with hate, always the last note of condemnation—more than he could take.

Shaking, panicking hands snatched at his one release. The metal was cold and haunting, but full of promise.

When he laid the blade to his skin, a tingling prickle raced across his scalp. His breath became more ragged, his world clearing only marginally, only briefly. The anticipation of what was to come brought his concentration into sharp focus as his whole being zeroed in on metal against flesh; his whole body tensed in waiting, as if having drawn its very own bated breath.

Pressure. The knife drew blood, a thin trail of bright, shining blood, the colour of Valentine's Day cards—those pointless, heart-shaped ones that had nothing on the true depth of what really lay in his chest. They were fitting then; like everything else, they weren't telling of all that lay within.

Another sob rent its tearing way out.

He pressed deeper, the glue splitting more, separating, gorges running through its previous act of holding those fractures together.

Deep, deep crimson red bubbled up, pooling, burning hot and a grant of release at last. He fancied this vital liquid was so dark, it was black. Like the night. Like the deep depth of the sea—if it was an ocean of blood. Like his future. Like him.

Another sob beat against the pressure in his knot of a chest, the Voices silenced, and his harsh breath was all he could hear at last.

Dropping the tool of his escape, he felt another catch of air slip into starving lungs, but his sobs left him breathless, his head reeling and light. He gripped his arm, fingers pressing on either side of the jagged crack, fingers slicked with hot, sticky blood, holding the divide together as the lifeblood bubbled and pooled and flowed out. He curled in on himself, clutching the blood-soaked appendage to his chest.

And, reeling and light-headed, breathless and bleeding, Zack Martin cried.

The pressure begins in my heart
Builds up beneath my bloody scars
You know harsh sobs burn from the inside up
Colours dim and my whole world begins to darken
Behind the voices, where's the one to whom I wish to hearken?
You'll get here just in time to see me mess up

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Author's Note Continued: I do not support the practice of cutting, but I do realise it is a rampant disturbance in our society. If you are having problems, though, I encourage you to talk to someone; I do not encourage or endorse cutting.