I am also taking requests! Check out my profile for more information!
I received a request from karasu99, and decided "challenge accepted". I hope I did well in here, and thanks for the idea! Please listen to the song listed below~~~ Oh, and if you enjoyed the original chapter and don't feel the need to read Bunny's POV because of whatever reason, I shan't be offended!
If you gain anything from this than let it be a song. I based much of Bunny's part listening to this song: watch?v=-_K7GCrYHMI If you'd like to feel the mood more, I suggest listening to this song as you read the story. In fact, PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS SONG AS YOU READ!
Oh my gosh, am I really about to let you read this? … Yes, yes I am. I really don't think this turned out as good as the previous chapter, but I hope you'll look past the poor quality and see what I was trying to capture here… IF it has a weird tone to it, I was watching assassin's creed, so the dialogue type in the game may have wormed its way in there somehow… Anyways, enjoy the requested chapter!
It was a constant battle with Jack, whether it was trying to get him to do his homework, talking to him, or trying to get him to take his depression pills. Always. More than once I received the following sentence in response: 'Oh, hey, Jack's having some problems. Must be the hormones. Let's go talk to him, maybe pump him up with some pills. That'll fix him!"
Yeah, it's just the hormones I told myself… no biggie.
He stopped taking the pills by the age of sixteen. Nothing else changed, though. Still hated doing his homework, still didn't want to talk, but that's how all teens are, right?
And then, I got the call from his principal, and my world was thrown into a whole other perspective.
Easter,1999: 13 years ago
"Oh, Bradley! Long time no see!" I jerked my head up in surprise, almost tipping over the globe I had been looking at.
"Oh, Mrs. Frost! How are you?" I felt an easy smile come to my face. There was a box in her hands and I offered to take it.
"You act like a twenty year old man instead of a fifteen year old teenager, Bradley. So much more helpful than Jack's father," she sighed, teasingly rolling her eyes at the man behind the store's counter.
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were calling me a lazy fool, Janice!"
"Maybe I am."
"Well, you better take that back."
"Or this!" By the time their laughter and happy screams reached me, the door to the storage room was closing behind me. I shook my head, smiling. Such a happy couple… I didn't think love like that could exist.
Setting down the merchandise, I turned to go when suddenly, I felt two little arms wrap around my legs.
"What the-" The accent I tried so hard to hide crept out, and I looked down to see a small, bright face peek out at me.
"Jack!" I half laughed.
"Bunny! Bunny! Guess what, guess what?" I couldn't help it; the name he called me was too cute.
"Jack, it's Bradley, not Bunny!" But we both knew I had grown attached to the nickname. "What is it you want, you little mite?" He tugged on my pants, trying to pull me toward the back of the room.
"Come on, I'll show you!" As I followed him, I took in how much he had changed over the years. One moment, he was wrapped in a bundle of white cloth, so dependent on the world, and the next he's up and walking, his exquisite eyes staring in wonder at the world around him. He was short; five years old and his head barely coming to rest at my hips. His skin pale, but not translucent; smooth like his mothers. He had his father's feathery brown hair and his eyes…
The same earth brown eyes staring up at me now, so innocent and clear.
"Well?" he asked impatiently. "What do you think?" As I bent down to his level, his grip switched from my pant leg to my shoulder, and I looked at the eye hole he'd pointed out. I glanced a few more times between the two before, exasperated by my antics, he sighed. "You have to look through it, Bunny!"
"Oh, right, right, I knew that," my un-accented voice came back and I leaned forward. The hole was big enough for me to see through clearly, and God… what a sight.
Their two story shop was in the middle of town, further away from the forest than they'd wanted, but closer to town center where, in winter, great snowball fights and sledding took place. They could also hop on the tram to go skiing at any point. From the front of the store, you could see the rest of town, city hall, the church and most of the highway… But this view Jack had found, this wonderful Rabbit hole had a view all its own.
A couple of small houses with snow sparkled under the evening sun, and almost right behind them was the edge of the forest, gleaming in all its jade-brown beauty. But it was the sky seen most of all that caught my attention. It was the sky of Australia, periwinkle blue with dark azure undertones. The sun a white hot orb with tendrils of fire orange and red outlining its rays.
"What a beauty," I murmured. Feeling a tug, I ripped my gaze away and turned to Jack.
"Doesn't it make you feel like flying?"
"Not a bit," I blanched a little, my aerophobia swelling up. "But it does make me glad to live just a little longer, mate." I was torn between wanting to get up and wanting to look back, when Jack spoke once more.
"Why do you cover up your voice?" I jerked in surprise.
"Yeah, one second you're talking like this," he demonstrated a poor Australian accent for me, "and the next, you're talking like me! It gets confusing."
"Yeah, it does, doesn't it?"
"Well, I think you should just keep to your original voice, it sounds more like you," he stated in the way that all five year olds believe their opinions are final say.
"Huhn…" But before I could get another word out, he was off, arms out, flying.
"Come catch me Bunny!" He called back. Smiling, I turned back to the hole, catching another view of the sky before sighing and standing up.
"Ai'ght you little bugger, you better hide real good!" He's right, the accent is more me.
I was halfway down the stairs when I heard a scream. Not like the ones that followed me up. No, this was a scream laced with terror and shock. I practically jumped down the rest of the steps, racing to the front door when I saw it ajar with nobody inside.
"Mrs. Frost?!" I shouted, looking down the sidewalk both ways before into the street… where two bodies lay sprawled. Oh God, it was only a second! I looked away for a second and he- But it wasn't Jack. Jack wasn't in sight, but his parents were. Oh, Jesus, they were there. Drowning in blood, jerking. I didn't bother looking around me as I rushed to their sides.
Mrs. Frost was gone; she'd been hit right in the side of the skull at such an angle to cause instantaneous death. But her husband was not. And it scared me how two happy, laughing people had become… this. It scared me so much I would've gotten up and ran had his hand not grasped my arm in a last bought of strength. Gasping, he muttered two words, before sighing that final sigh, his eyes stuttering close.
"Protect him…" And there was no doubt in my mind who "him" was. Looking up, I saw paramedics, cops, the truck driver who'd hit them, and crowds of people. They would be taken care of, but now I had to find Jack.
Instinctively, I knew he was no longer in the area. That he had disappeared. Staggering to my feet, I half ran, half stumbled out of the street and into the shop, not answering questions thrown at me, and slammed shut the door behind me. My mind wasn't working right, and everything seemed to be pulsating. I could feel a dampness on my clothes and hands which I chose to ignore. I could only think of one thing: Jack. Over and over again, my jumbled mind repeated his name over and over. It was probably the only thing keeping me sane at that point.
I barely kept from crashing into the shelves as I reached the back door and sprang through. Tripping over my own feet, I caught my balance on the opposite wall of another building, before leaning over and throwing up.
When I was through, quiet sobs reached my ears and I turned around. "Jack?" I called out hoarsely.
"I-It w-w-was an ac-accident!"
"Jack? Jack!?" I fell to my knees and crawled toward a hole in the wall of his parent's store I hadn't even noticed before. "Jack, come out here, please?"
"It was-wasn't m-m-my fault! I didn't mean to! Please, it- it was an accident," he cried, and I reached in, grasping his arm. Despite his shocked gasp, I yanked him out and into my chest.
"Shut up boy, shut up!" Eventually he was just sniffing, but his tears still flowed.
"Bunny, I'm scared." I began to rock him back and forth, rubbing his back.
"I know, Jack, I know…"
Later, I would find out what had happened that fateful day. Jack had run out into the empty street, still flying. His parents had called him in, but he was deaf to their calls, wrapped up in who knows what? They couldn't see the truck that sped down the street; but they heard the horn.
What parent wouldn't react to that fateful call of death? His parents, blinded by their love, ran to protect their only son; his mother was hit first, and then his father, who pushed Jack out of the street, trying to protect Mrs. Frost. We buried them on the hill in the cemetery by Jack's younger sister who died just three years ago.
It was a family shrouded in misery and death; doomed only for the worst of endings. I wasn't about to let that happen with Jack. Not if I could help it.
And in the end, I became his guardian. The store was sold, the money set away for Jack's future. I myself received some money from their wills. They wanted me to go out and take the art courses my own parents shunned me for. Wanted me to follow my dreams. And just like that, they became my own late, adoptive parents.
And my love for Jack began me on a course not worth returning from.
It had been thirteen years since that fateful day. Jack visited a therapist and began taking the pills to help fight off the feelings of depression and guilt. What kind of fool was I to think that a couple pills a day would fix this world for him? At first, he fought it. He blamed himself needlessly, but eventually, I believed him to believe me, and stopped the sessions, stopped the medicine.
And he pretended to get better.
Until the call. Then I knew… I had been lying to myself to spare the guilt I suffered. What if I'd chased after him than after the past that day? Looking at the sky had only led to useless nostalgia, and my negligence led to misery for the one boy I cared for more than myself.
I was waiting for him to return home, reminiscing and finishing a college paper. Next year would be my last year in the Art and Music Academy. I had taken up Mr. and Mrs. Frost's final request and followed my dream; but all of my art lacked one thing. The sky. My teachers and classmates found it alluring, taking it as a symbol for something deep and hidden. Or maybe as the fact that no boundaries held us.
In truth? I just couldn't draw a sky without remembering this rut I'd stuck us in.
Eventually, the door opened and I heard my name being called. I was still thinking about the call though, and my voice came off as absentminded. However, hearing the sharp tone brought me back and I couldn't help the little annoyed flicker overcome me.
"You have a reason for using that tone with me?" As I waited, I saw him look me over, contemplating as I did him. He had grown taller, but was still shorter than me by a long shot. Still pale, still brown eyed, still lanky. But his eyes were no longer clear and free, but held burdens I only wish he'd share.
Eventually, he just dismissed the whole thing, but I knew better. I called after him, only to be ignored and hear the door slam shut. Pushing my chair away from the desk, I stood and hurried after him.
"Jack?" I grabbed onto the doorknob and twisted, jangling it even though it was locked. I heard him muttering to himself and frowned. "Jack, who are you talking to?"
"Shut up," came the response, and I widened my eyes.
"Go away, Bunny! I don't need to talk to you anymore!"
"Jack, we need to talk. I got a call from your principal earlier today. I know what's been happening at school." A tense silence; where I was promptly told to shut up and leave. Dammit, Jack, I thought, hurrying back to the kitchen for the skeleton key. Why do I have to rely on second hand sources to figure out what's wrong with you and going on in your life? I should have been talking to you and caring for you in the first place. I'm your Guardian, for Christ's sake! But… is that all I am? Am I only bound by a title and the trust of your parents? When I returned, all was silent on the other side of the door.
"Jack, I-" but stopped, seeing the empty room, the clothes on the floor. Suspicion ran through me, and I turned toward the closet before hearing a shuffle behind me. I turned, freezing at the sight before me.
I had a vague suspicion when I got the call that all was not as well as I'd hoped, but this… was too much. I reached down, half dragging, half pulling Jack out from under the bed he'd hidden under.
"Hold still, hold still! Dammit, Jack…" In the light of the moon, I got a better look than I ever wanted. They weren't just scars… they were words. Trash, orphan, disappointment, whore. The last word didn't seem right, but I pushed it to the back of my mind. "Oh, God… Jack… what have I done?"
"N-not you… me." And then he kicked me, sending me to the ground in surprise. I called after him, but he was already gone. I jumped to my feet and wasted no time chasing after him. Oh, God it's happening all over again.
By the time I reached the bottom of our apartment he was turning a corner at the end of the street. Blood rushed through my head. He wasn't five years old anymore, but he was half naked and vulnerable. It was a Friday night, people were on the prowl. And already, I could feel my gut clenching at the thought of anything happening to him.
Half-way down the block, a car raced by, and inside the backseat, I saw him. At first, I felt a calm feeling: he's with friends. Then I realized the cold, hard truth: Jack doesn't have friends.
I barely had time to memorize the license plate before it was gone.
"You sons of bitches, I'll find you," and I raced home to call law enforcement.
My anger was tangible when the police and I arrived at the parking lot. It had taken them thirty minutes to track the car, far too long in my opinion. And Jack…
If there hadn't been a police officer there to hold me back, I would have murdered the pieces of trash.
They'd beaten him, almost beyond recognition, and his only piece of clothing… w-was… I can't even think of it here, in this place of healing: the hospital. I wasn't even allowed in the room until the nurses were done hooking him up to the systems.
Last night had been a long night. I hadn't even been able to cradle him in my arms before he was torn away and brought to the ER. I stayed there for perhaps three hours, giving statements and descriptions. And now here I sat, drinking a coffee in rumpled clothes with an, I'm sure, haggard look.
"Excuse me, but are you Jack's father?" I looked up to the man in white, realizing he was a doctor.
"No, guardian. How is- what- will he be-?" Question after question poured forth from me, cutting each other off in their desperation to be answered. He put a hand on my shoulder and sat down next to me.
"How long have you been his guardian, Mr…"
"Bun- Bradley, just Bradley. Ever since the mite was five years old. Lost his parents in an accident… I know all his medical history, if that's what you mean, doc."
He gave me a look I couldn't decipher before looking down at the clipboard in his hands. "Well, Bradley, this clipboard tells me that maybe you don't." I looked at him in anger.
"Just what are you implying mate?"
He sighed, setting the clipboard down, having already memorized the (un)bearable news on it. Then, he turned to me, and spoke in a low tone. "Son…this isn't the first time Jack has been… assaulted."
I felt my heart stop.
Today was the first day Jack could come home, and he seems intent on not looking into any reflective surface. He doesn't even want to eat, so he's just lying there on the couch, unmoving. If it hadn't been for his breaths, I would be worried. I find my way into the kitchen where a bottle of Jack Daniels waits. Years ago, I swore off all alcohol.
It only takes me ten seconds to decide what I want more (sobriety or understanding), and even less to pour a drink for myself. One hand on the counter, leaning, I swallow it in one go and cough harshly, reaching to pour more.
By the time dinner has come and gone, I'm drunk and he's sleeping, still beaten and sore. I walk out, slightly swaying under the alcohol's influence and stand over Jack, just watching him.
And then I turn and stumble toward my room… but stop, hand on doorknob. Jack's door was still torn open, no one having been inside the house since that day so many weeks ago. I knew what I had to do, what needed to be done… but I was afraid of what I'd find.
His room was cold, bereft of anything that would truly make it homey. When did we drift so far apart? My search was narrowed down when I caught sight of a notebook on the floor. This must be from when I pulled Jack out from under the bed. I didn't dwell on the thought, but in the end, knew I would be forced to face my mistakes.
It was a plain white journal, bound along the edges instead of ringed… And as I flipped through it, I realized it was not a diary or journal… It was a memoir. And it was filled up half-way. And I knew… this was what I'd been looking for. This was what the doctor had told me about. I didn't want to face it, oh God no… but because of me, Jack had gone through it a second time… and I was going to understand no matter how harsh it was.
As I read, I recoiled in disgust and anger. Many times did I have to stop to keep myself from crying. Not disgust at Jack, but that any human would be sick enough to do such things to a young boy… And it happened just two years ago… How could I have not known? But, then I realized, two years ago I was taking extra classes, things were hectic getting settled in the apartment… I hadn't had time to keep much track of Jack through the days, and it was common for one of us to be gone at ungodly hours of the night to use the bathroom across the street at the market since our plumbing hadn't yet been installed.
I couldn't even imagine what he was going through at the time, unable to speak to me because I would brush him off, believing other things to be more important. In fact, I don't think we even had a conversation longer than one sentence during that time of chaos.
That's what the journal held: everything he wished to have told me. Written in his curled, soft written hand.
So much has happened. I can't even feel shock or disgust over it; just this numb emotion pulsating throughout me. I wish Bunny wasn't so busy now-a-days… but he's doing his best to make us situated somewhere other than at some college dorm. In fact, he's done so much for me, the only one to blame for this thing that has happened is me.
It happened three nights ago, when I was walking home from school. I wanted to get home faster to help Bunny; he was saying yesterday how he was exhausted. I know he didn't mean anything by it, let alone that he'd said it aloud; it was muttered to himself, and I don't think he even knew I was there.
There's this alley three blocks from here that cuts across a couple of businesses, and I figured if I ran, I could get through it quickly. I've never really liked alleys, but now I know for sure I hate them… And this hand, it just reached out and grabbed me. I didn't even know what was happening until it did, and by then, there were two of them; a boy and a girl. Both at least as old as Bunny, maybe a bit older. The man had grayish skin and short, raven black hair. His eyes were sun yellow and his canines so sharp… The girl looked just like him only smaller and with frazzled features, and cold, cold eyes.
They laughed while they did it. Laughed and sneered at me. It was so... so horrible… By the time they left me with my ripped clothing and tears of shame it was nightfall…
Bunny didn't notice. When I came home, he was passed out on the couch, my dinner cold on the counter.
I kissed him goodnight before trying to wash off the filth that clung to me.
When I was done, I sank to the ground, and sobbed wretchedly. "If you had only told me, Jack. I would have cared… I do care…"
It was a long six months.
After a confrontation about the incidents, leaving both of us worse off, I threw myself into my studies, ignoring Jack as I did so long ago. I just didn't know what to do.
The therapy sessions weren't working anymore, even though he had graduated already, no longer surrounded by bullies. I told him, not really expecting an answer since he seemed like an autistic child nowadays - but he wasn't really a child; no longer innocent. Oh, how I wished to put that innocence back in him.
And I laid in bed, telling myself through his sobs in the next room over, that it was right. People outside of the family couldn't possibly understand the depth of our relationship, the depth of our anger and tragedy. His family seemed bound for bad ends. But, I told myself once more, I would not let that end come over Jack, and I was resolved as hell to do it.
Eventually, December rolled around, as it would sooner or later, and I am on and off the bottle. I've reminisced and guilt-tripped myself long enough. So, I confront Jack on one of his rare days out of his room, and sit him down.
And I tell him that I've read the journal in his room, that I can't keep that lie from him anymore. I see the anger in his eyes, and it thrills me to know he's still in there; the old Jack I knew before… this. I tell him to shut up and listen playfully, afraid the words were too harsh on his fragile mind, but he took it all in stride surprisingly.
"I don't care how cliché this seems, but hell, I think our world could use a little cliché! I want you to know about me, Jack. Let's get to know each other all over again, okay?" I registered his small nod of the head with joy. It was a long shot, I knew that, but I was counting on our age-old relationship to pull us through this.
And so, every day up until my finals we sat down at dinner and talked; well, more as in I talked and he just listened. I told him about my father, who believed that art was not worth putting my confidence in; who resisted me ever since I was ten and chose art class over football. "Though I still grew up to be pretty massive, huh?" I stared down at my hands, sighing. Then, I told of my traditional mother, how she fed us, cleaned the house, took care of me, but never expected much from her child. How she took her husband's anger and verbal abuse as well as physical abuse in stride. "And it was both of our burdens to bear: she didn't take my beatings, no matter how much I tried to take hers, I would, but she didn't seem to care." I had a tough life, but it was nothing compared to losing your parents so young.
"I suppose I never had parents to loose, anyways." There was a silence, the subject finally having been breached after so many years of silence. The next thing I knew, a small, delicate hand was wiping away tears I hadn't realized I'd cried.
"My parents cared for you as one of their own; and we lost them together," he said. He didn't smile or pat my shoulder, but I knew then, that he knew I cared.
And then, finals. Oh, those stupid things. The only highlight of my day was that I had a job offer at a company to draw posters, cd art, DVD art and movie posters. It wouldn't be much pay at first, but eventually I could work my way up to art director of movies and animation. I'd been taking computer art classes as well as animation and technology courses. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and excited. They'd liked my application and I had the job.
But soon, the smell of wonderfully cooked food penetrated my senses and drove away the fatigue. I wondered at first if maybe Jack had hired a maid, but that fear (more money, jeez) was soon put to rest at the sight of Jack's ruffled appearance, yet happy face with a small smile.
I even got to open a present, but only after dinner.
"Now, do I have your permission to open your gift?" At my request, he laughed, and it sounded like angels had sung in my ears.
"Yes, Bunny, you have my permission…Well?"
"I-I don't know, mate. I think that was a pretty good gift you gave me just now." We looked at each other for a few moments before I cleared my throat. "But seeing as how you went through the trouble of getting this for me…"
He looked at me expectantly and I half ripped, half slid the wrapping paper off, before staring in wonder at the gift. He remembered why I'd wanted it, and in the end had the audacity to ask if I liked it.
"Like it, Jack? Mate, I love it… but…" And here, I stood up, not fully realizing what I was doing until Jack was almost completely in my arms.
I breathed in deeply before telling him my most cherished, well-kept secret.
"Not as much as I love you," and I kissed him, pressing lightly at first, before letting myself get lost in him. His lips soft as dough, sliding along my own in passion, and I took in all he pressed upon me, soaking it in like a dry sponge, wanting to share his pain so it was just a little easier on him to live. Words cannot undo words, but maybe actions can.
Then I pulled back, wanting to see his eyes, his soft earth brown eyes… But they were not the eyes I remembered. They missed the vitality once as much a part of him as my own creativity was of me. And he knew it. Just as I came to realize the missing piece, he saw that I didn't see what I wanted to. And I called to him as he backed away, but had not the strength to reach for him anymore.
The love and light were trying to shine through but was suffocated by fear and the broken edges of what was once his life. I did not know what it was I wanted anymore. And I spent the next two days trying to realize what was most important; Jack or living.
Eventually, I came to the realization that they were one and the same and I couldn't live without either. A selfish choice, but I would take it and create a new life for us with it.
I had to go in for another interview on Christmas Eve, and told Jack I wouldn't be home for about three hours. He looked a little distracted, but waved me off to show he'd heard.
The interview lasted only two hours and I got home early, having bought some champagne to celebrate. No matter what, I was determined to make this a day never to forget. Maybe he would even give me the second part to my gift early this year.
"Jack! I'm home!" I called out, shutting the door behind me. I threw my bag on the couch, set the bottle on the counter and tossed my jacket in a corner somewhere. "Jack, I've got great news I can't wait to tell you mate!" I set to clearing off the table, but there was nothing on it but a folded up note. The complete opposite image from when I left. "Jack?" And this time, it wasn't a call, it was a whisper.
I grabbed the note and unfolded it, dread settling in my stomach.
When I was done reading it, tears blurred my vision. I stumbled to his room first, but on finding it empty, rushed to the bathroom, and would have turned away but for the small glug I heard.
As I succumbed to agony's clutches, plunging toward Jack to keep him from throwing away his parent's sacrifice, to keep him from their own fate, I knew, in that moment, I was no longer looking back on the past, but desperately chasing the future.
I feel as though I've almost destroyed Bunny's image. I tried to make him seem like an unassuming, yet caring fella. Maybe I got that across, maybe not. Once again, I feel more comfortable writing angst, but sometimes I'll get carried away and make it so "sad" that it is hard to believe. I hope that was not the case here.
Also, I'd like to state that I want to practice my writing more. It's still in the beginning stages, I have a tendency to downsize myself, and I get pretty lazy about something if I don't have a motivator. "Alone" and "Voices" seems like all of my pent up anger, own misery, stress and disappointment was poured forth into creating these pieces of… art? I can go on and on about all of my failures, own disappointments and stupid writing habits, but I shan't. Anywho, be sure to tell me your thoughts by typing up a quick review and posting it. Harsh critic or loving critic, I can handle it. I have a long way to go and want all the help I can get. Once more, North will be sending elves with cookies to your houses soon, be sure to hide the food!