Emil had always felt that he was different to the others. Whether it was in geographical terms or in his appearance he never quite fit in - they were all blonde and his hair was white, their eyes were all some shade of blue whilst his were purple, they were all strong and he...Felt he was not.
He was younger than all of them too - he hated that. He hated how they babied him, treated him like he wasn't old enough to take part in their conversations and discussions about more serious affairs or too immature to socialise with others. It was demeaning - to him - and yet he felt safe in that position, at ease in the simplicity and lack of responsibility of this 'role'.
He wanted change. He wanted the world to twist and turn the gears of time and let new and fresh wash over him and yet every time change came it was painful; he wanted change but he hated it. Although, perhaps feared was a better word - he feared the unknown and that which he could not understand - there were things he could accept as they were and yet a slight alteration in his mental schedule without warning sent him in to a tense mood of delicate, fragile annoyance that could easily be set off in to verbal outbursts and sullen stares.
He distanced himself usually - or rather he hid. He hid from the things he didn't want to encounter, didn't want to face and couldn't understand - or maybe, just maybe, he didn't want to understand. He was weak and yet he was strong - his mind was that of a child but simultaneously that of a scholar, a heart of immaturity and a soul of old. Polar opposites always crossed in his mind, ice and fire each blending and intertwining in to complicated concepts and irrational reactions - sometimes he felt that he simply shouldn't be around people anymore. Sometimes he didn't want to be around people, and sometimes he simply couldn't - after all: solitude was solace but loneliness was a curse that kept coming back to wreck his mind.
He hadn't seen anyone in a while now - he had been isolating himself again. In itself, he wanted to see someone, but there had been too many changes, too much shifting in the teptonic plates of his family dynamics that seemed to send what was mountains to his brothers soaring upwards and what was volcanoes to him, spewing fire in to his heart and earthquakes shuddering through his mind.
The first change hadn't been unexpected - when Tino and Berwald sat them all down at the table and showed them their rings it wasn't a revelation but more of a confirmation of the already expected. And yet this tiny shift bothered him - by sealing their relationship Emil felt that they had torn apart the scraps of a 'family' he had - the rings had created what seemed like walls around them - they had become separate from the others and though they were all still together there was an invisible difference that never quite allowed Emil to let it go.
It never got better - if anything the rift grew wider and deeper. The arrival of Peter - and then Lars - had only made things worse. His role had changed, since their arrival he was torn between two worlds - the familiarity and safety of his original family and the fear of this new role of an "older brother" or an "uncle".
He couldn't understand Lars or Peter - he was scared of them - being around them was agitating, every thing they said seemed too loud, too threatening, each of their actions too antagonistic for Emil to be around them for too long (let alone in one on one situations). He hated how it was simply seen as him being jealous - him being 'difficult' about the new members of the family - 'typical, childish behaviour' that his brothers brushed off as something too simple or near endearing. Maybe that was exactly what it was but it felt much deeper than that - simply put, Emil was terrified of losing his place. He didn't like having to look out for his two new brothers, he didn't like having to babysit or spend time with them, playing pointless games and taking part in their make believe. It scared him and being around them made him want to scream.
Slowly, everyone started to scare him - Mathias's laughter became too loud for him, Tino's constant talking started seeming like incessant, stressful noise, Berwald's silence was stifling and Lukas - even Lukas - bothered him to no end: each gentle touch felt like needles and even well-meaning words seemed like sugar-coated threats.
And so he hid. He hid in his room cocooned in to blankets and pillows, headphones clamped over his ears so that he wouldn't have to hear and he wouldn't have to think. He barely left - to eat and drink or even go to the toilet he would sneak out so that there was as little chance as possible of seeing them. At first, they knocked. They would wonder where he was, knock and ask if he wanted dinner, but like a blocked river their queries slowly flowed in to nothing and the knocking gradually lessened. Berwald was the first to give up - then, Tino. Peter and Lars never tried from the start - they were happy that he wasn't there, it would seem, he was out of their way. Mathias and Lukas were more patient: though they were greeted with silence each time they came back everyday, knocking for each meal, every event that came their way becoming more and more desperate each time.
"Emil? I know you're in there. I know you can hear me. Please... won't you come out of your room?" It wasn't the first time Lukas had said this, but today....his voice was different - heavier, more tired, the knocking was faint, weak, barely audible if it weren't for Emil's sensitivities.
"It's been ages Emil, won't you come out - even if it's just for a little while?" Mathias joined in this time, his voice was subdued, soft and gentle, careful to not make any mistake,
"Please-" Lukas's voice cracked slightly, shaky and raspy, "We're all worried - I'm worried...Please..."
His pleas were followed by an agonising silence, seconds ticking away in what seemed like hours, minutes trickling away till Emil heard shaky steps make their way down the corridor outside his door, fading away and Emil was overcome with the feeling that he had just made his final, biggest mistake.