“I will always accept you… Just come back to me when you are ready.”
“Even if you think no one in this world loves you, even if there is no point for you to stay alive in this world, you are all wrong. You just existing beside me… gives me one more reason to live.”
“Please… don’t leave without me. I will never leave without you too…”
Saeyoung’s words are on constant rotation inside Saeran’s head, replaying on an endless loop.
He doesn’t need the reminder, yet he can’t tune it out.
“Recovered” isn’t the word he’d use for his situation, more like “recovering”. He is a work in progress, something delicate being glued back together piece by fragile piece.
His therapist says slow progress is better than no progress, but most days he feels like he’s at a standstill while the rest of the world blurs past him.
He is at a busy street corner in the middle of a bustling town and his feet are frozen to the ground. He has nowhere to go anyway, but something wants to drag him forward. Or pull him backward.
But he can’t move. He’s stuck in the middle of the sidewalk in everyone’s way as they push and shove to cross the road.
They look through him, but never at him. They see him as an obstacle, a wall to get around.
No one knows him. He has no name, but when Saeyoung calls him, everyone else disappears.
And his twin stands there across the street in his stupid jacket and idiotic glasses, smiling at him as he holds his hand out.
An empty street separates them and Saeran’s feet are free, but he still doesn’t move because at any moment Saeyoung might disappear. Just like last time. If he takes his hand, he’s afraid of what will happen, but the only other option is to turn backward where the sky is dark and there is no Saeyoung.
Saeran is not willing to look behind himself, nor is he willing to grasp his brother’s outstretched hand that so resembles his own. So he stays planted in the same spot and hopes maybe his shoes will grow roots, then he can call this place his home.
“Are you hungry?” MC’s soft voice snaps his attention away from the TV and she offers a bowl of soup that he gratefully accepts.
He can’t remember if he had breakfast.
“Where’s Saeyoung?” The question is out of his mouth before he has time to consider it and now she’s got the wrong idea, surely. As if he misses his brother, or something.
“He’ll be home soon, he was just signing the rest of the papers for the little shop we’re buying. That boy, when he gets something in his head he never lets it go.” She smiles fondly and he thinks Saeyoung doesn’t deserve her. She’s far too good for him.
“If he makes more toys like that little fire-breathing dog, there’s no way he’ll maintain a decent business.” She laughs. He hadn’t intended to be funny, but he enjoys her laugh and the way the corners of her eyes crinkle when she smiles.
“I think he’ll manage okay. I’ll be there to keep an eye on him anyway, and you can jump all over his case if I don’t catch him first. We’ll be a team!” She exclaims happily. He can’t find it within himself to disagree, so he nods and continues to eat.
Saeran knows the truth.
He’s heard the same story from multiple mouths now and all of it makes sense, but rationality does not always win, as he’s learned.
He thinks that’s the worst part: knowing the fears and anxieties are irrational, but still having to deal with the very real emotions they bring along with them. Occasionally he manages to remind himself that what he’s thinking in the moment makes no logical sense, but more often than not reality is too far out of his reach to grab hold of again. It’s a tug of war and it’s frustrating.
Keys jingle as the front door opens and MC gets up to greet her fiancé. Saeyoung runs his fingers through Saeran’s hair as he passes through the living room, “Saeran, did you have a good day?” He lingers until his brother responds.
“Mm.” Saeran knows it’s not much, but it’s better than ignoring him like he so badly wants to do.
Logically, he shouldn’t still feel so angry. He knows both of them were fed lies and led to believe things that weren’t true, but for so long he believed Saeyoung left him behind and that pain won’t fade no matter how hard he tries to bury it.
Things can’t ever go back to the way they once were. They both know that, Saeran thinks, but he also thinks Saeyoung still plans to try. His brother has always been stronger, always held the more positive outlook on life, and has always been more patient. He supposes it’s a wonder Saeyoung hasn’t snapped yet, but his eyes never waver.
He looks at him, not through him.
Sometimes he thinks Saeyoung sees him as a puzzle to be solved only because he calculates every move he makes before following through. Saeran is an unstable bomb that he’s trying desperately to defuse. That’s what it feels like. More often than not, though, he just feels like shutting Saeyoung out rather than exploding. Yelling at him, hurting him, that kind of thing doesn’t faze him. He takes everything thrown at him, words or otherwise, and still tells him he loves him.
Saeran doesn’t want his love.
That’s a blatant lie.
He desperately wants his brother’s love. He wants his attention, his affection. He wants him to look at him because for so long he tried to forget the color of his eyes.
Saeyoung is stronger than Saeran is, but they are one. If his other half is strong, it is the same as if he is strong, or that’s what Saeyoung told him when they were younger.
MC kisses her fiancé and then ruffles Saeran’s hair, which he only lets her do because she tolerates both him and his brother, then she wishes them a goodnight and disappears down the hallway.
Saeyoung sits beside his brother, closer than Saeran really likes and mutes the TV.
“How are you tonight?” The question has become part of a daily routine where Saeyoung attempts to figure out his twin’s mood.
Saeran sighs, feels his walls crumble a little bit more, then leans into his brother. “Tired.”
“How was therapy?” Saeyoung eases an arm around Saeran’s shoulders, holds him tightly against his side.
“We talked.” Saeran lets the exhaustion being to take over and closes his eyes. Saeyoung is warm against him.
“You always talk.” Saeyoung chuckles, “Do you feel better after talking with her? I can always look for someone different if you don’t think she’s helping.”
Saeran shakes his head, “She’s good. She listens, doesn’t ask how everything makes me feel. Sometimes I feel silly after telling her something because it’s irrational.”
“Irrational doesn’t make it silly.” Saeyoung argues, “It’s irrational to be afraid of the monsters under your bed, but when you’re younger and someone instills that fear in your head, it becomes very real. Belittling your feelings won’t change them or make them go away, nor will it improve anything.”
“You sound like a therapist now, knock it off. I don’t need two of them.” Saeran complains as he struggles to free himself from his brother’s grasp.
“Don’t leave me, Saeran!” Saeyoung whines, playfulness shattering his previous seriousness. Saeran doesn’t know which side of his brother he dislikes more, but it’s probably the one that clings to him like a child.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He assures then shoves his twin’s hands off him. “I just don’t need you lecturing me too. I’m tired.”
Saeyoung sighs as he runs a hand through his overgrown hair, “I know that you’re trying, Saeran, but some days I feel like I don’t know what to do anymore.” Saeran shifts uncomfortably and glances between his brother and the floor. “This is hard for you, but it’s hard for me too because I have to watch you suffer. We’re connected… when you hurt, I hurt and I feel so helpless when I know nothing I can do or say will make things better.”
“I don’t know,” Saeran swallows thickly, “I don’t know how to make things better. I still hate you some days, still want to snap and fucking rip my hair out because it’s so loud in my head sometimes.” His voice drops to a whisper as he pulls his legs up under himself. “I’m so afraid of being hurt again, Saeyoung. I dream of you leaving me, of my fingers around your throat and I wake up in a panic because I can’t lose you again.”
Saeyoung blinks hard to keep from crying and gently grips his brother’s shoulder. Saeran’s eyes land on him and Saeyoung watches the tears slip down his cheeks silently, watches his bottom lip tremble and his walls completely crumble into nothing. He opens his arms and Saeran falls into him. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” Saeyoung repeats through shaky breaths as his brother cries against his shoulder, tears soaking his shirt.
“I’m n-not the strong one.” Saeran’s fingers fist in Saeyoung’s shirt as Saeyoung rubs his back soothingly.
“We’re the same. I am you, you are me. If I’m strong, it’s the same as if you’re strong.” Saeyoung holds his brother tightly, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” He murmurs under his breath.
Saeran loses track of time. He’s not sure how long they stay like that, how long Saeyoung holds him and lets him cry like a child, but when the tears finally stop flowing, there’s nothing left but an overwhelming exhaustion.
Saeyoung moves first. He sits back and takes his brother’s face in his hands, searches his watery eyes, then presses a tender kiss to his forehead. “You and I will make it through this. Our family will be beside us and I promise I’ll do whatever it takes to makes us happy again.”
Everything that usually screams for Saeran to tuck tail and run is silent. The panic and anger that usually accompany one of his brother’s promises is nowhere to be found. Instead, he feels hope for the first time in a long time and he makes the rational decision to believe him because he needs to put his faith in something and what better than himself?