AN: Ah, well.
I put that I abandoned this, which I have. But I had this chapter hanging, half-finished, and I know some people wanted to know where this story was going. So, here is the unfinished (and very old, I might add) WIP of chapter four, accompanied at the end by a very brief summary of what I had planned to write for the remainder of the story. I apologize to those who got invested in this, only to have me abandon it… I just really lost my inspiration. This is the least I could do to provide you guys with closure. I really am sorry!
"I guess I should go now."
"You don't have to."
Without thinking, Rin seized the hem of his shirt. What she really meant was 'don't go.' She knew that Len was disappointed in her for doing absolutely nothing to allay his concerns, and she felt guilty. Of course his presence was something she had to get used to, but he was adjusting to far more than she was. A new mother, a new sister, a new house, a new bed, a new city, a new timezone. Nothing here was familiar to him, and some sleep loss seemed like a pretty natural response. But what could she do to help?
"Are you sure?" he questioned with big eyes. The unnatural way he was forcing his heavy eyelids to stay open made him look delirious.
"Yeah. Just hang out for a bit, okay? Maybe if we chat a while, you'll feel more relaxed and be able to go to sleep more easily." Maybe not, but it was the least she could do.
Len went back to sitting next to her, but he was only upright for about five seconds before he flopped down onto his back, the energy to sit up escaping him like air from a punctured balloon. He noticed that the blankets surrounding him smelled like Rin: warm and citrusy.
"So, what's your school like?" Rin asked after considering what the most generic topic she could come up with would be. She had asked a lot about him already, but school was put completely out of her head until just now. (After all, who really wants to think about school during summer vacation?)
"It's alright, I guess," Len mumbled languidly, his energy levels quickly bottoming out. "I'm okay with math and essays and stuff."
Rin took on a soft tone, trying to make herself as relaxing as possible for the poor insomniac. "Yeah? Were you in any clubs?"
"Oh, really? That's too bad. Clubs are pretty fun sometimes."
"Mmm." Len was now staring at her ceiling through half-lidded eyes. Aside from the mandatory rising and falling of his chest, he was as still as a dead person. Rin wondered if he was already asleep.
"Mmhm." Apparently not quite yet. He was fading fast, though.
"So, um, how about friends? You haven't told me about any of your friends from back home yet."
Len's nose twitched a bit, and then he went back to being a dead body. His lips were the only thing that voluntarily moved, and even their movement was so slight that looked like mere twitching. "Mmnnn. I didn't really…"
"Uhh… have any… friends. I guess… Ritsu… was alright sometimes… Kind of a jerk though…"
Rin's eyebrows scrunched together. No friends? How was it possible to go through an entire grade and not make a single friend? She couldn't comprehend that. "None at all? Wasn't there anyone you hung out with after school, or ate lunch together with, or studied with?"
"Studied… um… One time I helped this skinny guy cram for a test… Forgot his name. Maybe he never told me. Forgot what he looked like, too…"
A quizzical eyebrow shot up into the air. Rin was beginning to suspect that something terribly was wrong with her brother. What about him was so friend-repellent? Even the loneliest of loners had to have someone to confide to once in a while, right? And from her interactions with him, he didn't seem overly aloof or unsociable. There was no reason for him to be completely unlikeable by an entire school.
Against her better judgment, she tentatively asked, "Is there any reason you didn't have any friends…?"
Silence. Rin panicked a little, worried that she offended him.
She thought maybe he was out now, but after a long pause, Len mumbled quietly, as if he were just talking in his sleep, "I was scared…"
The statement was almost immediately followed by deep breathing. Rin peeked over at the boy, and of course, he was fast asleep. It was almost like he had been waiting to finish the conversation before crashing. Rin felt a strange mixture of accomplishment and renewed guilt. At least she had cured his insomnia for the night, but on the other hand, she couldn't shake the feeling that she had just taken advantage of his half-conscious state of mind. She felt she might have heard something he normally would not have wanted for her to hear.
When she asked him the next morning whether or not he remembered the events, he confirmed her suspicions. She teased him about it as a reflex, but in reality, Rin was worried.
Why was Len scared of friends?
"Len, get dressed!" Rin declared one morning, practically knocking my door down. She had been kind of high in tension all week, like something was bothering her and she was making up for it by being freakishly cheerful. I thought maybe it was in my head though, so I didn't ask about it. Instead, I pushed my laptop aside and stared curiously at her.
"Get dressed? I already have clothes on," I joked, just for the sake of being difficult.
She smacked me gently across the head and laughed. "Not pajamas, stupid," and I took her lighthearted insult with a surprising amount of gratitude; already being close enough for meaningless banter made us feel more like twins. "Casual clothes. Wear something cool and not tacky, okay? We're going out to the arcade with a friend of mine."
"Oh.. a friend?" Apprehension sneaked into my voice against my will, and I overlooked her jab at my fashion sense.
"Yeah! Don't worry, she's cool." Rin looked at my mirror and fidgeted needlessly with her ribbon. "Don't let her looks fool you, though! Teto might be tiny, but she's a lot older than she looks."
"Ah, yeah? How old…?"
She shrugged. "She won't tell me. A legal adult, at least."
"Hmm." I couldn't say I was too interested in this Teto's age. I was more preoccupied with being anxious, but what was so worrisome about meeting one of Rin's friends? I had already seen her gymnastics team, though I wasn't forced to directly socialize with any of them. I guess in a way, I feared the idea of putting off any of her social ring. My newfound friendship with Rin meant a lot to me, and I didn't want to jeopardize that by being stupid around people she had known for a lot longer than me. Rin was a regular social butterfly, and I would have hated to be the moron to pull out the bottom Jenga piece of her Tower of Friendship and send the whole thing toppling over.
It was an unreasonable, foolish way of thinking, and I tried to talk some sense into myself, but I still couldn't quite shake the apprehension. Nevertheless, Rin seemed enthusiastic about it, so I made my best effort to match her enthusiasm. I disappeared into my room for a few minutes to put on 'cool and not tacky' clothes and drag a brush through my unruly hair a few times. Hair jutted this way and that, and I was quick to give up on taming it before rejoining Rin at the front door.
"Mom, we're going now!" she announced, having apparently already briefed our mother on our plans for the day.
"Okay, have fun!" Mom replied from the kitchen, waving a hand high enough for us to see it over the half wall. I laughed a little at this childlike gesture, and we were on our way.
The first thing I noticed when we stepped outside was Rin's wardrobe switch. She had changed into a lacy little tank top that she usually only wore to bed,
AN: And… yeah, that's where it left off. Midsentence. Haha.
After this, they were going to meet with Rin's friends, Teto and Tei. Despite all of Len's awkward shyness, Tei takes a liking to him. Over the next week or so, Tei continues making advances, and Len is startled. He explains to Rin that no one's ever openly 'liked' him before. He starts dreading leaving the house and refuses Rin's offerings for more outings with her friends. His clinginess is to be established.
There's a lot of mundane happenings. Rin teaches Len how to swim, they go shopping with their mom, Len continues to watch Rin's gymnastics practice. Rin begins to notice how Len's withdrawing from meeting new people, so against his will, she persuades him to go horseback riding with her and Miku. It goes well at first, but then the horse throws him, which gives him a mild back injury. Thus he stays at home even more than before. Rin coddles him and plays games with him while he recovers.
There's a brief time during this where Rin and Lily are unusually irritable and snappy with Len, which makes him feel like he's not wanted anymore. He dwells on this and works himself into a panic that eventually compels him to actually contact the girl he met on the plane (Miki) over the phone.
Once he explains the scenario in detail, Miki laughs and easily explains that the two women must be on their periods. Len is shocked and mortified, having never heard of such a thing before. The subject of his aunt comes up, and Miki asks, hasn't she ever exhibited signs of premenstrual syndrome before? Len thinks about it and says, no. But she does get hot flashes sometimes. Neither of them think much of this.
Len's back heals, and he helps around the house more than usual to make up for lost time. He has some interest in cooking, so his mom begins teaching him all sorts of kitchen tricks. I don't think there was any point to this, but it's here in my outline notes? Lol.
Eventually, they make plans to have a faux-birthday party for Rin and Len since they've never had one together, even though their actual birthday is far away. Rin invites several of her friends, and Len realizes that he feels rather off-put when she ignores him in favor of her friends. He keeps the feeling to himself and tries to enjoy the party, attempting to rationalize the thought by reminding himself that they're twins. Perhaps the bad feeling is just a part of their twin intimacy, that having her gone is like having a piece of himself missing.
Yet somehow, he can't shake the feeling that it feels like there's more to that. A boy (I never really decided who, just some boy Rin knows from school) makes advances on Rin, and this ruffles Len up even more than before. Rin turns the boy down gracefully, but the animosity in Len's mind remains.
Always one to over think things, he becomes scared of his own emotions. He doesn't understand why he's being so possessive over his sister, why the idea of competing for her attention is so unsettling, and up until this point, there's been several instances where he's caught himself thinking of her as attractive. He becomes deeply disgusted with himself for reasons he can't explain.
He calls his aunt to allay his fretting, and he doesn't talk to her directly about the issue, but she catches on to his brief allusions. Meiko reminds Len that being dependent on someone can feel nice, but in large doses, can also be unhealthy. Len takes her advice to heart.
Still, the attraction is an issue.
Rin takes Len out rollerskating, and now that he's more aware of the fact that he finds Rin attractive, any kind of contact with her flusters him. He's so cagey and antsy the whole day, Rin mistakes his behavior as him being angry with her. He explains that it's far from that, but doesn't admit to his internal conflict. Instead, he brushes her off with the explanation that he's sad that summer's almost over, and that he'll miss her and their mother when he has to leave.
Rin accepts this explanation dubiously but still presses on the subject of Len avoiding friendships when he seems so outwardly easy to get along with. Len finally admits that, as a child, he got the misconception in his head that their mother had sent him away because he was somehow inherently bad and did not deserve parental care. From this misconception spawned the idea that his worth was low, and he grew to dread befriending others. In his early years of school, other children picked on him for his introversion, which only solidified the low self-worth for him. Rin apologizes and tells him that he's worth the world to her.
One evening, Rin, Len, and their mother look through some old photo albums that Lily's kept over the years. They delve further and further back, until a photo of a younger Meiko and Kaito in front of a crib surfaces. Lily visibly tenses, and Len asks about it.
Lily explains that Meiko experienced a type of infertility (Robertsonian Translocation) that caused a spontaneous abortion. After that, Meiko did not try again for a child, and a few years later, she began experiencing incredibly premature menopause. It was partly for this reason that Lily had been willing to allow the baby Len to stay with Meiko for so long. She felt that Meiko deserved a child of her own, and once Meiko became so attached to Len and vice versa, Lily thought it would be selfish of her to ask for him back.
They all have an emotional hugfest, etc. etc. Len feels a huge weight off his heart knowing that his mom never intended to abandon him. Later on, before bedtime, when they are alone, Rin happily tells Len that, see, he always had great worth, that he was a blessing to Meiko. She says she's just jealous that Meiko got to keep him all to herself for so many years, which they both laugh about.
But Len thinks about it more.
After this, I didn't have as detailed of an outline. Len and Rin continue to have fun together. But Len is still concerned about his unusual attachment to her, so, stumped again, he contacts Miki. He has a long, honest conversation with her, and she reveals that she traveled to this city to visit her boyfriend, who is ten years older than her. She tells Len that their relationship has always been a secret, because people look down upon them for external circumstances. Yet she is at her happiest with him, and she encourages Len to assess his feelings as literally as possible, to throw away society's constructs of 'acceptable' relationships.
Len comes to the conclusion that he has romantic feelings towards Rin, but he still tries to suppress them afterwards. On a day when Rin is busy, he does some brief research on incestuous relationships. He realizes that, having been apart from Rin for the majority of their lives, he's not been imprinted with the Westermarck effect, thus explaining his lack of repulsion towards the idea of a relationship with his own sister.
After a lot of floundering, Len eventually tells Rin how he feels. He apologizes and says that he'll understand that it's only natural she shouldn't feel the same way. He begs her not to tell their mom or aunt.
But she does feel the same way, she reveals, and therein lies a bigger problem. Len had thought up until this point that she wouldn't return his feelings, and therefore he'd be forced to forget about it after time, but with her reciprocating the feelings, he can't simply forget about her.
The end of summer comes, and Len must go home. In the privacy of Rin's locked bedroom, they exchange a goodbye kiss that is not familial. They're both scared. They part, but promise to keep in touch, to make up for all the lost time. Len returns to Meiko with mixed feelings. Happier now, knowing that he has worth, that he doesn't need to be afraid of himself or his peers, and a lot of this newfound confidence is largely thanks to Rin. But melancholy, because he's far away from the one he loves, and can most likely never have a normal relationship with.
One last time, he calls Miki, and she tells him that on the last day of summer, her boyfriend proposed to her, and she couldn't be happier. Len wishes her well. He considers his future.
In the end, he decides that he'll work hard. He'll do well in school, make friends, and become a healthier individual. He'll keep in contact with Rin. He'll grow into a respectable adult and whisk Rin away. And they'll still probably never be granted a "normal" relationship, but if he can just be with her and kiss her behind closed doors once more, then it'll be worth the effort.
That's the end. Yeah… Again, I really am sorry for abandoning this. I have my reasons, but they're personal. Thanks for bearing with me.