Grayson tears off some pink fluffy cotton candy, shoving it in his mouth enjoying the way it melts instantly on his tongue making his taste buds dance in his mouth. Carnival music plays from the merry go round right next to the ferris wheel that he and Ethan just got off of and were heading over to the bumper cars to meet up with Cameron and their parents. His arm was linked with his twins as they continued to share their cotton candy, spending the five dollars their parents had given them on the delicious treat.
Grayson can’t figure out why he cannot bring himself to look at his brother when all he has to do is turn his head just a tad to look at him. It almost feels like he isn't in complete control of his own actions because he wants more than anything to just lay his eyes on Ethan. He doesn’t have to though, he already knows what Ethan is wearing today. Black skinny jeans with tears down this thighs to his knees, his pink shirt is an adidas cut off showing his tan strong arms, he is wearing white high top converse and his long curly hair has a purple streak at the top. He had just dyed it before they left the house this morning.
They were about to round the corner, right past the porta potties where the bumper cars are when Ethan unlinked his arm from Grayson’s, handing him their cotton candy. Grayson is looking at him now, but yet he still cannot see him. The carnival song changes to another happy upbeat song, but to Grayson it is the complete opposite of happy. This song sends chills down his spine and the volume seems to have gone up making Grayson want to cover his ears but he can’t. He tries to squint his eyes to focus better on his brothers face, despratly wanting to just fucking look at his sixteen year old twin.
His heart rate is beating so fast it feels like it’s going to explode out of his chest because he knows something bad is going to happen. He can’t hear Ethan’s voice over the music being so loud, but can faintly see his lips. “I’ll meet you at the bumper cars Gray, gonna go pee real quick.” Grayson feels himself nod in response, watching briefly as Ethan heads towards an empty stall, and Grayson’s feet move at their own accord even though he wants more than anything to stay and wait for his twin. Instead he walks away, the bumper cars already in sight.
Tears are running down Grayson’s cheeks even though he feels a smile on his lips as he watches his sister ram her blue bumper car into their mother’s red one, he watches them laugh as they zoom around the corner to his father to double team him. Grayson watches them have fun, but his mind is screaming at him to turn around. Don’t leave Ethan alone. Go wait for him. The music is loud enough to make his ears bleed at this point, but everyone around him doesn’t even seem to notice, they don’t even notice Grayson crying as they walk past him. His feet feel like they are glued to the grass, his back facing where he left Ethan just a couple hundred feet away.
Maybe that is why he hadn’t noticed that day. Because he couldn’t wait five minutes for his twin brother to go to the bathroom, he had wanted to make it in time for bumper cars so badly so he could ride it with his family. It is all his fault.
Ten minutes passed before his parents and sister finished the ride and got off before meeting Grayson. He noticed he can see them clear as day, but why not Ethan? Why was he all fuzzy? The music is still at a deafening volume, the tears are still falling on his cheeks, but his own family doesn’t seem fazed one bit. He reads his mom's lips, asking where Ethan is. Grayson points behind him with his thumb towards the bathrooms.
That is when a woman coming from that direction screams bloody murder.
Everything after that feels like the world is moving in slow motion. Grayson’s feet are moving, he is shoving people out of the way that are running in panic to get away, he needs to get back to where he left Ethan. People around him are running for their lives, kids dropping their carnival prizes leaving the stuffed toys to fend for themselves. The merry go round music doesn’t stop, and seems to slow with the seen around them. His dad yanks Grayson back by his arm when he hears gunshots, but Grayson shoves him off.
Finally breaking through a crowd of people, Grayson watches in horror as his older brother is being carried away, blood oozing down from his forehead in the arms of a man.
Gasping, Grayson shoots up yanking the covers off his sweaty body. Blinking away the tears he cried in his sleep, he looks over at his clock. 4:16AM. Great, getting one hour of sleep on the first day back from winter break on senior year it is then. There is no way in hell he is going back to sleep after that dream, because once he closes his eyes he will see it all over again. He’d rather not relive the worst memory in his life over and over again.
His bare feet pad their way through his and Ethan’s shared room, tossing on some black sweatpants he nearly tips over from sleepiness but catches himself on Ethan’s dresser. The moonlight shines through the window, showing off Ethan’s side of the room, nice and clean compared to Grayson’s messy side. His bottom lip quivers at the sight, and he can almost picture Ethan laying in his own bed curled up under the blankets making his eyes water. Running his fingers through his hair Grayson sighs, then heads out of his room down the stairs to the basement.
The carnival song from that memory is playing on repeat in his mind, and every time he blinks he can still see Ethan’s unconscious face. Gritting his teeth, Grayson puts his blue Beats over his ears and puts on his Linkin Park playlist on. He goes to the corner where they keep all their equipment and picks up his red fingerless gloves before strapping them on tight. Heading to the other corner of their gym he lets himself get lost in beating the living shit out of his dads punching bag.
His knuckles hitting the bag over and over stings, he lets the bag swing out before kicking it and going back in with a right hook. It doesn’t matter what he does though, he could be in the middle of a football game, the most important one of the year and go to pass the ball to number 12, Ethan’s old jersey number, but when the player turns around and Grayson sees the long blonde hair poking out of the helmet, he freezes up. He ruined their regionals game and made them take the loss for their last game of the season because he was having a literal panic attack in front of the whole school. He doesn’t even remember getting tackled so hard from behind that he landed on his wrist and broke it.
He should still have a cast, but got sick of the black itchy thing in the beginning of December and sawed it off himself. His parents weren't too happy with him about that one. But to be fair his wrist is completely healed!
His mind always seems to fall back to Ethan. Life without him in it has been a living hell. They used to do everything together. They got their driver's licenses on the same day, played every sport together on the same team, sophomore year even went to prom together when they couldn’t find dates, they used to sleep on the trampoline together just the two of them under the stars, sometimes they would even shower together. A world without your twin brother feels useless.
It has been three in a half years since Ethan went missing.
The cops should still be looking for him, but they have moved other missing peoples cases ahead of Ethan’s, that are more recent cases that is. Some cops believe Ethan is dead. After the incident at the Carnival, after Grayson had chased that kidnapper down as fast as he could but didn’t catch him in time before he drove off with Ethan in a white van - the cops had sat Grayson down. By then he was completely distraught. But he explained everything he had seen. From Ethan’s outfit to what type of van the kidnapper was driving. The cops were sure since it was a mass shooting that Ethan was for sure dead already, that he had been one of the many that got shot and died at the scene.
But Grayson refuses to think like that. Ethan is not dead. He would know it if he was.
A tap on his shoulder makes Grayson whip around and nearly punch the intruder in the face. Luckily it was his dad and not one of his sisters because Sean grabbed Grayson’s fist in his palm easily, giving Grayson a concerned smile only making Grayson roll his eyes. He is sick of his family trying to walk around him.
When Ethan first disappeared, Grayson shut everyone down. He ghosted his friends and locked himself in his and Ethan’s room. He would lay there in Ethan’s bed, blankly staring at the wall before falling asleep holding Ethan’s pillow to his chest. He’d spend hours in the shower letting the hot water burn his bare skin as he cried. He only wore Ethan’s clothes at the time instead of his own, loving the way they smelt like him. He’d do this everyday for a week, and at night he would sneak out to go search for his twin while everyone else was sleeping.
His mom forced Grayson to come out of the room eventually, nearly shoving food down his throat since he was refusing to eat, and it showed. His family had tried their best to even get Grayson to crack a smile. And thinking back to that time he feels like shit because they were hurting too.
Not much has changed since then. The family hasn’t been the same without Ethan. Cameron moved away, off to college to continue her life. And Grayson is angry at her for it, how can she go on pretending everything is okay when it’s not? His parents hide their sadness, which also annoys Grayson, but he tries his best not to snap at them as much. He can see the pain in his mothers eyes.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Sean is holding something in his hand, looking down at it Grayson notices it is avocado toast. He just shakes his head in response, removing the gloves off of his hands, ignoring his bloody knuckles. He was punching the bag so hard it had peeled off his scabs from last time. “You better get ready for school, you are going to be late.” Sighing just at the thought of school, Grayson grabs the toast off of the plate his father is still holding out for him and taking a bite as he heads up the stairs. “Thanks.” He mumbled through a mouth full of food and heads upstairs to shower.
Apparently he was working out for two in a half hours.
He takes a fast shower making sure to get all the sweat off of him from his dream and his workout before drying off and putting on some clothes and barely managing to fix up his hair. Tossing on a plain black long sleeve shirt, Grayson puts on some dark ripped jeans and some vans, then slides on his leather jacket before grabbing his keys and heading out the door. His mom is in the kitchen before he can leave, handing him his lunch, because if she doesn’t make it for him then he won’t eat. “Have a good day sweetie.” She smiles at him, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
“See you later.” Is all Grayson says before shoving his brown bag full of food in his blue backpack and heading out the door. Seeing his black motorcycle right where he left it in the driveway is one of the few things that actually brightens up his mood. Rubbing his fingertips along the shiny paint, admiring the bike he paid for with his own money, Grayson throws his leg over and takes a seat before starting the engine and speeding his way down to school.
High school was boring and going without Ethan by his side felt like fucking hell itself. It took Grayson a while to get where he is now with out Ethan protecting him though. Before, whenever bullies would come up to him, Ethan would always scare them away, he was the bigger twin. But once Ethan got taken, Grayson was eventually forced to go back to school. He was lonely, scared and depressed at the time and let the bullies beat him up without even caring. He wouldn’t defend himself thinking he deserved it. Of course now he is still very much lonley, and depressed, but Grayson isn’t scared anymore. Now the bullies are scared of him.
After he finally fought back after spring break in junior year, and put Thomas Iverson the schools football captain in the hospital, no one dared to mess with Grayson.
Well no one except for Jake.
He was halfway through the school day, just gotten done eating the pb&j his mom made him for lunch sitting in his usual spot in the courtyard alone, when a fimalar flop of blonde hair was suddenly in his line of eye sight. Rolling his eyes immediately, Grayson just decides to ignore him because maybe for once Jake will get the hint and disappear.
“Hey Dolan! I’ve noticed you are always sitting at this table you’ve claimed alone. You saving this seat next to you for someone?” Jake asks, although his voice is totally friendly, coming across as innocent, the smirk on his lips says otherwise. Grayson grips his blue powerade tight in his hand, continuing to sip out of it as Jake’s mouth keeps talking. “You know, I’m just going to give you some advice. Guy to guy.” Jake says before planting his ass in the open spot next to Grayson who doesn’t even give a glance at the boy. “You are one of the hottest guys on campus, you play sports and drive a fucking Harley! You could be more popular than Emma and Aaron if you wanted to. You could have friends!” Grayson’s eyes snap up to Jakes in a dark glare when he feels Jakes hand slap his shoulder and leave it there. “All you gotta do is stop saving a seat next to you for someone who is fucking dead and move on with your goddamn life like your sister has.” Jake spits darkly, hitting just the right spot for Grayson to place his empty gatorade down on the table.
Jake’s smile falls right off his face when Grayson grips the hand on his shoulder hard. He moved so fast Jake flinches and tries to jerk out of his painful hold. “The hell man?! Let go of me!” He wines. His eyes widen when Grayson twists his arm further and further and further, the pain shoots straight up his arm as he yelps.
“Ethan is not dead.” Grayson’s voice is low, and Jake can’t even bring himself to look up at Grayson already feeling his burning gaze on his face. They are surrounded by teenagers, being filmed on iphones, going live on facebook and getting posted on snapchat. People are talking all around them wondering why Jake is stupid enough to mess with Grayson. Everyone knows not to talk to him, especially about his lost twin brother. The crowd of people gasp when Grayson actually breaks Jakes arm, if you listen close enough you can hear his bone snap in half under his screams. But Grayson doesn’t stop there. He acts as if Jakes face is his dads punching bag, throwing his fists fast and hard, not even stopping when he splits Jakes bottom lip open. Everyone around them is going wild and Grayson doesn’t stop until he feels Jake gets what he deserves.
By the time the lunch bell rings signaling it’s over and now time to head to class, Jake collapses to the floor with a thud. Grayson steps over his unconscious body, all the kids quickly make way for him as he storms by and exits the building no longer wanting to be here. He knows he might get expelled for this one, this is his tenth fight since the beginning of the year and his third time putting a kid in the hospital. But Grayson doesn’t give a shit.
Getting on his motorcycle, Grayson wipes the blood off his knuckles and onto his jeans before speeding it out of there. He doesn’t know exactly where he is going, all he knows is he is pissed and riding helps cool him down. Sometimes he lets his anger get the best of him and this definitely was one of those times, but he isn’t sorry. Jake deserved it. The wind is blowing his hair every witch way, the crisp winter breeze almost making his eyes water as he flies down the road, the green trees blurring together at the speed he is going. He has never been on this road before, it is on a mountain on the edge of town and the view from over here is breathtaking. The sun is hidden behind the clouds casting the pefrect lighting over Califronia, Grayson was so distracted that he almost didn’t see a fucking person stumbling out of the trees and into the road.
Gripping his break clutch hard, the back tire screeched loudly and Grayson finds himself turning the handlebars hard so he doesn’t run this psycho over. Smoke kicks up from how hard he is breaking and when he finally comes to a full stop, his heart rate skyrocketing from what just happened Grayson doesn’t even get to look at the person that almost became roadkill because of all the smoke from his tire.
It smells like burnt rubber mixed with humidity in the air, Grayson squints his eyes to see through the smoke that is clearing up to see a boy standing there in the middle of the road. A boy who looks identical to himself. Grayson’s eyes go wide and for a second he swears to god he is seeing things. But then he notices the boy looking right back at him with tears falling down his bruised cheeks.
“Grayson?” His voice is raspy, it sounds like it has gotten a bit deeper over the years. His hair is different now, not as long as it was but still looks good on him. He looks like he has been to hell and back judging by all the scars and bruises along his body, but it is him. Grayson doesn’t remember climbing off his bike, but somehow he is walking towards the boy who is limping towards him. Both boys have tears falling down their cheeks and Grayson wastes no time pulling him in his arms and holding onto him in a tight embrace sobbing uncontrollably onto his bare shoulder.
“Oh my god, it’s really you! I missed you so much Ethan.”