"Just leave me alone! Get out! Just one day! Get out!"
Those were the words Jizabel had shouted at him early that morning when he went to check on him. As he had been for the past few days he was curled up in his bed, half-covered by the sheets and refusing to get under them until Cassian got on his last nerves and didn't want to see him for much longer.
"Trying to help; I know!" His throat was sore and his words came out rather raspy, and still he refused the glass of water that he had passed him.
"He's too stubborn."
Although he had adjusted to his sudden increase in height and stature it still did not do him well to be crept up on and if it weren't for the fact that he knew his status he would've lashed out at the valet.
Cassian dropped himself onto a bench in the garden. "Who do you think?"
"He's still being difficult then?"
"If he wasn't then he'd be down here with me."
Riff smiled lightly, seating himself beside him, "Why are you out here?"
"He told me to get out for a day."
"I think you took him a bit too literally."
"I can't help him if he doesn't even try to meet me half way; if I stay with him, even quietly, he hates it but…I can't stand to leave him either."
"Perhaps there won't be a solution until he's able to meet you half way."
"And what am I supposed to do until then?"
"Perhaps taking a walk would be better than sitting out here thinking about what more you could possibly do." Riff stood, and with a smile continued to look down at the man. "Or you could go to the sitting room; Master Cain is there, Oscar too. Mary Weather is showing off her latest assortment of dresses. I'm sure they won't mind if you join them."
Despite any formalities Riff the man a firm pat and grip of his shoulder, willing him up off the bench and back in the direction of the house. They separated in the hallway and Cassian almost wanted to yell at Riff for abandoning him; leaving him to open the door and enter the sitting room on his own.
He received a slightly apprehensive stare from Oscar which was slightly thwarted by Cain's light smile, and Mary Weather's grin. The ten year old ran over to him, her smile never failing her, "Cassian, do you like my new dress?" He looked it up and down; it was a dark rich purple satin material, pristine white lace running down the middle and along the cuffs of her sleeves. He glanced over at Cain, got a short smile and nod from him, and he turned back to Mary Weather, "It's beautiful…and it suits you."
She grinned even wider at him, he hadn't imagined it was possible, and she ran off to the mirror, giving herself another turn as she watched the dress swish before she turned to her brother, "I'm going to change."
After the girl ran off Cain looked to Cassian, "Still no luck with him?"
"You're more than welcome to try your luck."
"Give him some time."
Mary Weather stood outside the sitting room, listening keenly through the door for a few moments. She ran up the stairs to her bedroom, promptly being changed into a slightly less formal gown. She then tiptoed into the kitchen, approaching Riff quietly. "Hey Riff?"
"Yes?" He smiled widely down at her. "Something's on your mind." He pointed out upon seeing her eyebrows furrowing.
"Is something wrong with my brother?"
"Master Cain has..."
"I don't mean Cain."
Riff was momentarily taken aback by what she meant. The girl had been slightly apprehensive of the doctor after all he had done to them but once Cain spoke to her about him, albeit rather vaguely, she seemed to have cooled off. This was just a development that not even Riff had been expecting.
"You mean Jizabel?" She nodded quickly at him. "Jizabel...is a little sick, Miss Mary."
"I heard Cassian say he's not getting better." Her voice cracked and was dripping with worry.
"Jizabel has difficulty eating so he..."
"Why can't he eat?"
Again, the girl threw him off. "I'm uncertain but they're personal difficulties. Once he starts eating and he let's people help him I'm sure he'll be alright."
"Is he trying?"
"He does try. I will take lunch to him; maybe he will try again." He placed a hand on her shoulder, "Try not to worry. Cassian is very worried; I'm sure he feels better when he sees you smiling."
At the sound of that Mary Weather returned to grinning. "Can we bake cookies together later?"
"If you'd like."
Mary Weather gave him a nod, and then left him alone to continue lunch. She returned to the sitting room just as Oscar was exiting with her brother. "Are you going somewhere?" She asked.
"Just for an hour." Cain embraced her lightly.
She watched him leave and felt a little pain in her chest. The only consolation to having Jizabel lying weakly upstairs meant that at least a small amount of danger no longer existed whenever Cain left the house. Still, she was certain there were others; even if Cain said their father was gone.
She returned to the sitting room quietly; Cassian had been staring out the window, watching Cain leave with Oscar. "Cassian..."
"Yes, Miss?" He suddenly gave her his full attention.
"How...is Jizabel feeling?"
He scoffed quietly, glancing back out the window, "I wish I knew to be honest."
"Riff told me he'll take him some lunch; do you think he'll eat today?"
Mary Weather smiled and ran over to him, grabbing his hand, "Maybe is a good start! If he eats he'll feel better, right?"
"Nothing is certain."
"It doesn't have to be; just have a little hope. I'm sure it'll be good for him too."
"What do you mean?"
Mary Weather pulled back a bit; what did she mean? "Well...like...I try to put on a smile and be happy and act normal in front of my brother because I know it makes him feel better."
"I don't think Jizabel is so easily fooled." Cassian smiled, feeling a small genuine sense of happiness as he reached over to touch the girl, "But the way you can have so much hope without basis is very sweet."
"You don't need to have basis to have hope."
She jumped onto the seat under the windowsill, patting it lightly for him to sit with her, "Have you gone to see him?"
"He doesn't want to see me."
She stared up at him with confused and wide eyes, "Why not?" her voice went up an octave with that quick question.
"He doesn't want to be seen while he's like this and I think I bother him."
"That can't be…"
Cassian shrugged his heavy shoulders, "It's not like I can't understand it entirely but… I can't know what he's thinking and feeling; that makes it difficult."
"I wish he'd tell you." Her whole expression had dropped considerably; she was pouting by now. "You're his most loyal friend, aren't you?"
"I would have liked to think so."
"It should be like Riff and my brother; I don't think there's anything one doesn't know about the other."
There was a firm enough knock on the sitting room door and Riff entered, silver tray in hand. "Would you like to take lunch to him or shall I?" He must have expected that question to be rhetorical as he seemed a bit surprised when he stood up, approaching him to take the food from him.
"I'll take it to him." Mary Weather followed Cassian closely, being very quiet so as not to be a nuisance and get too much attention. "Why are you following me?"
"I want to see him."
"I haven't seen him since you all came…" She flashed her bright blue pleading eyes up at him, "Can I come in?"
He released a quiet sigh, "Please wait outside the door; if he's okay I'll call you in."
She couldn't always get what she wanted and she was well aware of that; the fact that Cassian tried without betraying his best-friend meant a lot to her. She stood quietly outside the door as the man entered, just as he'd asked.
"I thought I told you to stay out." Jizabel's voice was cold; somehow a bit deeper.
"You still need to eat."
"I'm not hungry."
Cassian seated himself at the foot of the bed, leaning over to push the tray up to the top of the bed, just by Jizabel's side, "You still need to try to eat."
"I can eat by myself."
"And I should trust you to not let it get ice cold like the other day?"
"Just get out, Cassian." All his statements were coming out in one breath; one long and very difficult breath.
He was getting tired arguing, but agreed with himself that he wasn't going to let himself leave right away. "Mary Weather is standing outside; she'd like to see you."
"Tell her to go away."
"She just wants to see how you are." Jizabel lifted his eyes, glaring sharply at Cassian. He hadn't felt that intimidated since he was a kid, or at least since he was last five feet tall. "Maybe you could go and change; we can go outside."
"Because it's the sort of day outside that I'm sure you could appreciate more than I could." Jizabel remained quiet now; completely unresponsive. Cassian wasn't one to give up when it came to Jizabel, it was something he had sworn even before his death, but felt like calling it a day was becoming the most reasonable thing to do. "I'll be around if you need me." When he left the room he found the young girl still standing there; he hadn't quite imagined that she would stay for so long. "I'm sorry but…"
"At least you tried." She took his hands and held them tightly in her little ones, "Come with me." She pulled him lightly down the halls and downstairs to the kitchen.
For the rest of the afternoon Mary Weather tried her best to keep the man completely occupied; even if it was with some of the simplest things, such as watching her bake cookies with Riff, or showing him around the estate. Cain returned and, much to her surprise, she watched her brother treat Cassian with an unbelievable amount of support. It wasn't that she believed that Cassian was undeserving of it, if she believed that then she wouldn't be acting the same way, but she hadn't expected Cain to so easily…forgive and forget. She was uncertain of what exactly it was on Cassian's part that he was forgiving and forgetting but she knew that it couldn't have been good if he was so closely related to Jizabel.
Cain knocked lightly on Jizabel's bedroom door but refused to wait for a reply and entered casually; surprising Riff when he closed the door with the butler on the other side. Cain approached the bed, staring into Jizabel's glare before looking around, "You managed to eat." The picky meal that had been prepared for him had been a bit more than half eaten on a plate on the nightstand. "It looks like you're making progress."
"What do you want?"
Cain seated himself opposite the bed in an armchair, "You should stay in bed for as long as you want today, and get plenty of rest, but as of tomorrow you should start putting in a greater effort to get better." He didn't take his eyes off the dishevelled form that was seated in bed, drowning in the long and flowing material of his bed clothes and sheets. "You fought yourself all those years so as not to be beaten by me; just because we can be allies now doesn't mean you should allow yourself to be beaten."
Jizabel buried his face in the space between his legs and his chest, pressing his fists to his ears. He didn't want to hear those words. If he did then he didn't know where he'd be. Giving in meant that he had to change just about everything and he didn't think he could take it. Admitting defeat was something that he could gladly do by now.
Cain got up and sat on the bed instead, "I don't want to have to bring this up but it has to be said; if I'm not enough to keep you determined then what about your sisters? It is cruel what has happened to them but you must continue to make it worth their sacrifice. If that's not enough, you've still got Cassian to think about."
Jizabel girt his teeth hard together, inhaling sharply through them, "You're cruel, brother."
Cain's lips curled into a smirk, "If that's what I have to be to keep you alive then rightly so; I should be."
"I don't…need you to look after me."
"As your little brother I'm given that sort of responsibility." Cain reached over, sliding a strand of hair behind Jizabel's ear. "Whether you want to see me happy or you want to see me miserable, you need me alive to do either one so you would probably continue to do the same thing to me."
Jizabel glanced elsewhere and let his entire expression become shrouded by his hair; he was unbelievably thankful that it frequently covered the things he didn't want to show.
The younger boy stood up and looked over his elder brother momentarily, "Don't let yourself be beaten after all these years." He reached over him again, watching Jizabel flinch slightly at the sight of his incoming hand. He gripped his shoulder firmly. "If only you'd just realize that you're not as hopeless without him as you think…" He let go once he realized he was still hurting him, no matter how gentle he was. "Give yourself the credit where credit is due."
He left shortly after in silence, leaving Jizabel to ponder his words by himself. He only began to drown that much further into himself. It was a suffocating feeling. Just welling up in his chest. Constricting and overflowing.
The uneasiness was growing, he could practically feel all his minor stomach contents shifting, the bile coming up his throat, the chill going down his spine and rattling his whole form with every muscle in his body tensing up.
His whole body was bruised and aching, leaving him unable to feel any other part of him aside from the churning in his stomach; his skin was numb, leaving it to be only a frame for the pain that his turning stomach was going through.
It took a few moments of stumbling and gripping onto furniture in passing when he finally made his way to the bathroom. Promptly, he emptied his stomach into the porcelain bowl, heaving and spluttering everything his body had in it.
For his breakfast had been non-existent and lunch had been sparse the only thing he could do after some moments was retch dryly, nothing left to spit out but still it was like his consciousness, his heart and mind tried to vomit the very memories, every single one, out of his mind forever and even though not succeeding in that he still tried on and on and on, until he felt his chest and stomach pulsating violently, forcing tears into his already-crying eyes.
A small hand touched his back, the other hand gathering the strands of hair from in front of his face. He had no fear at being touched so suddenly. He did not know where this person came from or who they were, but the small delicate hand was more comforting than worrying.
He found the cold marble tiles beneath his knees shortly. The small hand was cold as it touched his cheek. The figure's bright blue eyes were filled with concern. They almost shocked him entirely out of his state. "What do you want?" he pulled his arm out of her hold and shrugged her hand off his back.
She gathered the folds of her dress, crouching down to look up into Jizabel's eyes, "Are you still sick? Cain told me you managed to eat." She was so dreadfully disappointed. It made him sicker to look at her. "Why don't you shower? You might feel better. Shall I call someone to assist you?"
He pushed her back lightly, holding her away from himself until his arm failed. "Get out."
She let out a quiet whine at the way she was treated, opened her mouth to speak but closed it rather quickly. She left quietly, pulling the door behind her.
He let himself soak under the cold water; feeling himself cleansing, at least for a short while, all the way to the fibres of his hair. As he exited the bathroom he curled back into his robe, seated at the foot of his bed; if he got under the covers again he knew he would probably remain there. There was another knock on his door and the person on the other side seemed to wait patiently for his reply. Unfortunately, his throat felt too pained and raw to do so.
The young girl eventually let herself in, peaking in meekly first to see if it was okay. She shuffled in with a plate in hand, which she placed slowly on a wooden chest at the foot of the bed. She hooked her hands behind her back, chewing her lip, "Are you okay now?"
"What are you doing in here again?"
"I brought you some cookies." She sat down on the bed with him, her small hands displaying her nervousness. "Are you feeling better?"
"You don't look like you're feeling much better…"
"Why did you ask then?"
She didn't think it would be this difficult. She had never confronted him. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
Running to the nightstand and struggling with the large pitcher of water she poured him a drink. He stared at her blankly as she held out the glass of the cool liquid and she repeatedly tried to inch it closer to him, glancing elsewhere bashfully. He gulped down the cool water, soothing his throat as he watched her carefully. She got back onto the bed, pulling his hair out of his face, "What are you doing?" He asked her, feeling light tugs on his strands of hair.
"Getting your hair out of your face." She laughed quietly, braiding his hair back quickly. "Why don't you have a cookie?" She crawled to sit beside him and passed him one; he took it from her but didn't feel the need to bite into it right away. "Am I bothering you?"
"Not yet." He looked over at her, "Why are you here? You should know better."
"What do you mean by that?" She asked, offended.
"You're not blind to what I've done to you and your brother."
"And my friends." Mary Weather added quickly. "You forget what you did to my friends."
"Your friends too." He nodded firmly.
"But Cain says you're different now, and Riff does too, and Cassian…he really feels a lot for you and I don't think he would if you were so bad!"
"That can't be true."
He laughed quietly, "You have no idea how much."
"You must be really smart." She retorted snappily, crossing her arms. "You must know what he's thinking but he doesn't know what you're thinking; it must be your intelligence."
"Sarcastic and spiteful; I would say you're a little young but I beat you at that by a few years."
"Well the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!"
Sadly he feared that she was absolutely right. The apple didn't fall far from the tree and maybe that was exactly what his father had been hoping for. It was exactly what he wanted.
"Whether you like it or not we're still family and…Cain explained a lot of things so I forgive you. I don't know if that means anything to you but…I have to say it." She reached over and grabbed his hand tightly, "You've got to get better! So we can be a family."
"Because having family does so much good." He murmured sarcastically.
She smiled nervously, "Father was not a good example of what family is."
"Nor was mother."
"Really?" She scooted closer. "Wasn't she kind and gentle?"
"Sometimes…" He shook his head promptly, "Why are we talking about this?"
"My mother was kind, she was really gentle and quite protective, and she taught me everything I know! My brother took me in and he was very sweet; he's a little strict and overly protective but it's okay because I know he loves me, and I love him too for it."
"You still love him?"
Jizabel sighed, hanging his head, "Even you think it's possible to love someone with attributes that can't be loved."
"Sometimes the good outweighs the bad; and if everyone had only good qualities wouldn't it look a little suspicious?" She squeezed his hand a little tighter, peeking under falling strands of hair at his expression. "You're being silly just giving up before you've even had a chance to start. Please. I don't want to see you give up, and I know I don't mean anything to you but I can tell you care about Cassian too! Don't give up for him."
Jizabel understood. He pulled his hand slowly from under hers. "Please get out." He requested, quiet instead of forceful.
She was taken aback by his order; it had come just as she thought she had been making progress with him. "Okay but…I'll come and see you again."
"You forgot your cookies." He called after her.
"Please keep them in case you get hungry." She gave a small wave, and a sad little smile and then stepped out of the bedroom. When she stepped out and turned around she came face to face with the taller darker figure; Cassian.
"Are you alright?"
"Why wouldn't I be?" She retorted with a pout. "We just talked."
"You just talked?" He raised a sceptical eyebrow at her. "How did you do that?"
"I thought of something, I opened my mouth and words came out."
Cassian sighed, giving her a small glare, "You know what I mean."
"Why don't you go and speak to him? You can be more stubborn with him than I can because he knows you so well; he says he doesn't want you there but I don't think he means it."
"What makes you say that?"
"That is…" She didn't know how to say it and in less than a minute gave up; she hurried behind him and pushed him in the direction of the door. "Just stop asking me questions, go in there and talk to him yourself."
"Aren't you being too forceful?"
"Yes, yes," she agreed with him with a sigh.
Listening to the words of the young girl he smiled lightly and let himself into the bedroom, showing her his smile just as he closed the door behind himself. Albeit having been closed up for a whole two days the room was now cold. The balcony door was now wide open; the curtains swinging in lightly with the breeze. Jizabel, standing out on the balcony, must have heard him enter but didn't pay him much attention.
The light silk robe was all he wore, having pulled his arms out of the sleeves and let them hang by his sides, leaving his marked back and all its open wounds exposed to the chill in the air. "Don't they hurt like this?"
Jizabel half glanced over his shoulder at the other before looking out at the view again, "It feels good."
Cassian leaned over the stone banister with him, looking at him and not the scenery, "How are you feeling?"
"Didn't I tell you to stay out of here?"
"The day is almost up, and I can't leave you all by yourself forever; it would go against everything I told you."
"That you'll look after me and all that, right?"
Cassian chuckled lightly, "Yes, 'all that' too." He leaned forward a little more, peaking at the sombre expression that was hidden by the curtain of hair, "What are you thinking?"
"That maybe father was right about me."
"I don't think I need to even ask you which part you're referring to; everything I know your father has said about you has been wrong."
"He said 'What do you think will happen to you if I weren't around? You would simply cease to exist.'"
Cassian was slightly taken by surprise and shifted his weight from one foot to the other, "You…really need to stop listening to all the wrong people."
"How do you know if someone is the wrong person?"
"I suppose you just know. I'm…living so that I can do all the things I couldn't do before; you should try to do the same thing. It might seem…terrifying that your father isn't around anymore because you have to change your whole life now but he did nothing but make you miserable so the fact that he's gone…can be such a blessing too."
Jizabel hummed softly in agreement, followed by a short wheezed cough. Cassian released a sigh and placed his jacket over Jizabel's shoulders, "If you catch a cold do you really think your body can handle it?"
Jizabel pulled the front of it together, burying his body into the heat, "I know."
The older man debated heavily with himself as he did so but he wrapped an arm slowly around Jizabel's waist, pulling him slowly, cautiously, tenderly, into his chest. Jizabel buried his face in his shirt, inhaling deeply the other's scent; he kept his arms stiff though, bracing himself lightly against the other. Cassian gently massaged circles into the small of his back; Jizabel's face pressed deeper into his chest. "Does it hurt?"
Jizabel shook his head; it didn't really, and even the little stings of hot pain would've been welcome.
"Are you going to give up, or are you going to move on?"
"I'm not giving up. I still have things to prove; I'm not sure what that is yet but…"
"Just by not giving up you've proved that you don't need people like your father to depend on. That is a big step. Your heart is stronger than you think."
"You have a bit too much faith in this heart of mine."
"You do as much good as you've done bad. Don't think of yourself as all bad."
Jizabel looked up, searching the man's face for his sincerity. It was all there. "So the good outweighs the bad?"
"Just like that."
"Why are you still here?"
"Why am I still here?" Cassian countered, asking it to himself also. "I don't know…how to put it into words."
The tips of the younger man's fingers traced the other's jawbone, he stared up at him; wrinkles formed on the corners of his tired eyes as he stared hard at him. Cassian smiled lightly at him, possibly wondering what he was thinking again. With just the tips of his fingers he pulled Cassian's head lower, just enough to get their lips to brush together lightly. He wanted to feel it; if only just once.
The feeling of freedom.
The feeling of love.
Pulling back again he felt himself light, relaxing his muscles and falling against the other. "You…" He couldn't even imagine what he wanted to say.
"Everything that needed to be said has been said already." At Jizabel's dumbfounded expression he chuckled, "Because you said to me 'it's not time for you to exit the stage yet'; that's the reason I'm still here."
Jizabel let go of his tense breath, using it in a nervous scoff, "Look who's the one remembering things they shouldn't!" he accused, lacking some bite to his words.
Pulling him closer just as he tried to pull away Cassian held him close, pressing a kiss back to the corner of his mouth before taking him by the hand back inside.
Falling asleep in tight constricting arms wasn't painful, it wasn't sad, it wasn't cruel. Somehow, even if he had never felt it before, Jizabel was sure that it was the feeling of love; the real feeling of freedom. It felt strange because he never imagined… He was never sure if he could tell the difference.
A love that's eternal was something that he had always imagined meant eternal misery. If this was eternal misery, he could understand why his brother would choose to go to hell together with the one he loved.
"Don't ever leave." He whispered, half asleep.
"Any place where I'm not by your side would have no need for me. I'm not going anywhere; no matter how many times you push me away."
Memories; Father, no matter how cruel you were; thank you for keeping me alive long enough to feel this.
A/N: …Right! So this is absolutely the first time I have ever completely disregarded the way a series has ended! It just felt too unjust to let their story end that way so…I kinda…made it not end that way. How…that works exactly I'm not sure but I really…didn't care, sadly!
So that was it! I worked really hard on this so a simple little review of what you thought of it would be really great.
For reading this far, thank you very much!