Oh, How You've Changed
Yakusoku needed that summer vacation to his grandmother’s house in Sweden. The old woman was actually really glad to see them and got to work bossing her grandkids and son-in-law about the house to do work for her; while she and her daughter had tea. Then they went out sightseeing to the usual sites that she showed her family, but they loved seeing them all the same.
The Borgholm castle is Yakusoku’s favorite; his grandmother always engages him about it when they visit, and he eats up the banter. But that time... Yakusoku wasn’t up for it though the trip was needed, it had actually done little to improve the dark tunnel the boy found himself in.
It was directly after they’d come from Maria’s empty home that Yakusoku began to change. His language around the house, his behavior with his family, the music he listened to, the way he walked, and even the way he dressed! It all began to dwindle and slip away to something new, something dark, just as dark as the tunnel that’s encased him. It's long this tunnel, existing dark behind him, and darker ahead of him.
No matter how long he walks, the tunnel never gets to the light at the end- if there is any. This did not go missed by the elderly woman. She’d asked him, one night after dessert when Ai had gone to bed, and his parents were off watching a movie too rated for kids and fourteens. She’d questioned him kindly, without humor, or criticism that he’s young.
And God, he wanted so much to tell her about what happened. He wanted to tell her and have her understand then tell him that everything was going to be all right. And he wanted to have the comforting statement be the truth. But he could not. He just could not get the words out. And instead settled for telling her that he’s working past some things. She didn’t question him beyond that.
After returning home from their summer vacation in the lovely comfort of Sweden, he found out that nothing had changed with his former best friends. When school began and the little group still refused to talk to him, or pal around with him as they once had. He was completely alone. As far as his secondary group of friends went, he was a little too distant from them to really get into the groove of hanging out with them full time. And so, another set of friendships fell through into failed ruin.
Maria Atkinson vanished. No one lived in her home as far as Yakusoku knew; he’d gone by a few times, keeping a safe distance from the place of course. The curtains were drawn, the home abandoned. Dead silence filled the air around the place. It was like what happened to him that day never really happened. It was as if meeting her had never really happened. It was all... a lie? Made-up? Fabricated from the fear and obsession that his former friends put there when telling him that he was encasing himself with her?
It was frighteningly possible, and that only seemed to make Yakusoku hurt more. He drew into himself so completely. It was safe inside. It was full inside and a warmth waited for him that he so desperately needed. But it wasn’t enough... it was never enough. And Yakusoku grew colder and colder.
Nearly 2 years have passed since then. November.
“Yaku’... you’re gonna be late for school!” Ai called through the door for the seventh time.
He wasn’t even sure if his brother could hear him over the stereo, blasting rock music from some band he’s just decided, out of the blue- 2 years back- that he loves so much. Ai began to wonder if this new development was a teenager thing; being almost 16 now his brother is sure acting as though he’s going through a lot. Yakusoku hardly ever talked anymore, and when he did Ai is fairly sure that the whole family wants him to shut up because the things he says are so derogative that no one wants to hear it.
When his brother turned 15... oh when Yakusoku turned 15... he visually stopped being his brother. Suddenly he liked dying his hair! It was blond but one time, Ai was pretty sure that his brother changed it because he actually looked really handsome as a blond- kind of like a low-grade Cloud Strife, if you can believe it. He could tell his brother was not trying to go for the pretty boy look because after school he changed that fast, and the phone rang nonstop from girls wanting a date.
He then tried for brown but it wound up the same way, and so his older brother settled for one chunk of his hair to be green and the rest is its natural jet black minus the tips which have been frosted ice blue. He looks like a damned fool. And to make it worse, their mother was missing an eyeliner pencil- guess who took it? Ai swore that if his brother whipped out the lipstick, he’d die of embarrassment- as if the hair alone weren't reasoning enough.
What could have gotten into him? Ai often wondered. He’d thought that it was the loss of his best friends. It must be. The younger boy stopped by all of their homes and begged and pleaded with them to stop being mad at his brother, for them all to be friends again. They declined. Massiel even told Ai it was pretty low of him to involve a little guy in their squabble, and Yakusoku should really stop being such a pathetic dick.
By the end of year one of ‘horrible changes’, his older brother began to make new friends. New loser friends, but, at least, they were sort of nice to him. In the many times they’ve come over to hang out with his brother, they never once intentionally harassed him- well, they didn’t seek him out to do it anyway- they only picked on him whenever he was in plain sight.
They were an ugly crowd altogether; a couple of emo goth-idiots set to motion, a jock who’s terribly out of place with the two, and a fat kid who looks like he’s trying too hard to fit in. The only difference between his brother and them, at the time mind you, is that Yakusoku had yet to acquire the stink of an unwashed teen.
No, that didn’t start coming until this year. It's not as bad as his friends, but if Ai and his parents can help it they never enter Yakusoku’s bedroom unmasked. And that seemed to be fine with his secretive brother, who all of a sudden had little to say and so much to hide. He wished more than anything to see Yakusoku again, and not this idiot who’s living in his brother’s place.
“Yaku! Come on!” He called again, his still rather small 12-year-old hand banged against the door. Around pop five, it swung open to reveal his glaring brother.
“I got it even before it was said,” Yakusoku hissed. “Oh look, a new day- and no longer summer- which means,” He tapped a finger to his chin. “Oh right, I have to attend that shit hole of a school.” Shoving his brother aside, he bounds down the stairs heading straight for the kitchen.
Ai rolled his eyes. He was only trying to be helpful, trying only to regain some of the normalcy which had been lost between them all. Though it's never worked before. Ai had to wonder if maybe he should stop trying, and just figure out a way to get along with the new, less improved, Yakusoku.
The only normal thing about his brother are the- once in a while- migraines he’d once suffered, have come and gone from time to time. But one tablet for headaches and he’s fit as a fiddle again, or at least, he pretends to be. Ai heard him making struggling sounds in his room one weekend afternoon, he sounded like he was in serious pain. Ai would have gone in normally, but not with his brother being the way that he is now. The younger boy winced hearing the front door slam after his brother’s departure.
‘8:13 a.m. The beast has gone, and all is well in the Land home.’ Though Ai sadly. He’d better get to school himself or he’ll be late.