BEEEEP! BEEP! SCREECH!
"Rei stop running! Come back!"
-A few hours ago–
"Kai, wake up..."
Kai cuddled up closer to my body and rested his head on my shoulder. I let out a low groan as I stretched my body under his. My twin was smaller than me, but he still weighed enough to leave me feeling heavy and sore from supporting his body all night.
"Kai..." I whined. I wanted to get up, especially before our parents so that we could get out of the house to celebrate our graduation on our own. I know it was early... okay, it was 6:45 in the morning, but hey, that's not early at all... I took a deep breath before yanking at Kai's hair.
Kai was quick to jerk away at the pain, "Ouch! Darn it Rei, I'm up, I'm up!" he rubbed his eyes furiously, "Why do you always wake up so early?"
"Because I don't like sitting in this house... Let's go out for breakfast!" I exclaimed.
Hearing breakfast, my twin was quick to get out of the bed and race to the bathroom. We took no longer than thirty minutes to get ready before we were bolting out the door. I made sure that I grabbed my guitar before we left to eat at Kai's favorite diner.
Over a plate of shared chocolate chip pancakes smothered in syrup, Kai mumbled with a full mouth, "I'm going to start printing out paperwork for scholarships that you can start applying for, that way when we do find a college for you, you can have some money to pay for your books."
With a shake of my head, I swallowed my food before speaking, "Jeez Kai, where are your manners, no talking with your mouth full," I chastised with a playful smirk. When all he did was give me a snorted laugh, I grew serious, "And I'll definitely fill out the scholarships and all that jazz... and I'll also start looking for a job."
Kai raised his eyebrows, "You, get a job?"
I frowned, "What's with the degradation, bro?"
My twin's eyes widened and he began to stutter and trip over his words, "Oh God, that isn't- I mean, I wasn't- I didn't mean that-"
"Whoa Kai, chill out..." I laughed and took a sip of my iced green tea, "I'm only joking. I know how me getting a job sounds to everyone."
Kai gave me a childish pout, "You know I hate it when you do that!"
I chuckled softly, "Because you feel like I don't get enough love and I'm always getting degraded and all that crap," I dipped my finger in the syrup that lined the plate we shared from, "But remember, I told you not to worry like that." After I finished easing his worries, I slid my syrup coated finger down the bridge of his nose.
It was a late reaction, but Kai jumped back slightly with a childish laugh, "Rei!" he trilled.
We left the diner and headed for the park like Kai wanted to do last night. It was still early so not many people were walking around. I adjusted my guitar into a more comfortable position on my shoulder as we walked.
"So, what kind of job are you planning to get?" Kai asked me nonchalantly.
I didn't think that far, "Anywhere that will accept me?"
The playground caught Kai's eye and he immediately led us over to the swing set. Once we were both sitting on a swing and gently swaying, Kai suddenly piped up, "You should do something with kids!"
I snorted, "Kids? What makes you say that?"
"Well, you deal with me on a regular basis," Kai started, "And for some reason... even though I've never seen you interact with them, I feel like you would do well around them. You are patient too..."
After that, we fell into a comfortable silence, the both of us thinking about what it would be like if I were to work with kids. I have to admit that maybe it would be good for me to work with kids... it would probably be such an easy environment, other than the screaming kids and occasional asshole-ish parents. When we both got tired of sitting, we began to walk once again.
The silence continued until Kai broke it again, "... I should ask this... Are you planning to stay under mom and dad's care?"
I raised an eyebrow, not bothering to stop walking, "Do I really look like I wanna be under their care?"
Kai frowned, "Rei... I'm living on campus, remember?"
"Hell yes I remember!"
"So what exactly are you going to do?"
... Dear God what the hell am I going to do? "Let's take this one step at a time... okay?" I answered slowly, "Why don't we think about this in a quiet place?"
All conversation was effectively cut off after that and the two of us silently strolled through the park with the same idea in mind. We were heading through the parking lot, a short cut we took throughout the years in order to get to a secluded area of the park that no one but us knew about... it was a place that I had often come to during the early days of my recovery. The area was secretive and as far as I knew, no one could find me... no one would be able to take me again... Kai had followed me one day when I fled from the house and after that day, we considered this place ours. A secret hangout just for us... where we can talk about anything without the worries of someone ever interrupting or eavesdropping... A place to help clear our jumbled thoughts...
I wasn't expecting anything troublesome to come around... it was just a normal walk to our hangout for the normal reason of trying to fix our problems... Everything was all fine and I finally had a spark of hope that I was going to be able to get through the day without having a panic attack like I usually had on this day... I was going to be able to feel normal again...
But dammit, nothing was normal in my life anymore... As much as I tried to tell myself daily that I had no problems coming to terms with my kidnapping, that the worst possible side effect from almost losing my life was nightmares, was so wrong beyond belief because I never, not once, saw another huge black van coming at me, ever again... and my reaction? Ah shit... I'm a nut case...
The van came speeding our way and it wasn't slowing down. I couldn't think of a valid explanation as to why the driver would be going that fast in a damn parking lot and only one answer truly formed in my head. As the van grew closer, I found that my chest began to constrict and my breath came out in short, strangled gasps. My vision was swimming: one minute I'm standing and watching the van approach me and Kai and the next I'm a sniveling little kid, powerless and without an escape.
I couldn't breathe... I couldn't think... Hell I couldn't even feel... Oh my God it hurts... it hurts... my back, it burns... white hot pain... My stomach is churning up so badly that I think in the midst of all this I start to gag very badly, the breakfast me and Kai shared was about to be spilled onto the asphalt. I can barely comprehend Kai beside me, trying to calm me down. I couldn't control my fear or anxiety... it was overflowing... so badly that even Kai couldn't calm me down.
The van had stopped a few feet away and the moment I heard one of the doors opening, my body kicked into action. My fight-or-flight reaction... forced me to run. I scrambled to my feet and high-tailed it in the opposite direction. I didn't know where the hell I was planning to go or what I was planning to do. My mind was blank as I simply ran. My senses were dulled to the point that I couldn't hear, see, or feel anything at all. I was floating in my own head, no clue what was happening on the outside.
"Rei stop running! Come back!" Kai's voice echoed through my head... I blinked and suddenly, something tripped me and I went tumbling onto the ground... onto the street... I couldn't pick myself up and I was still having trouble breathing... my panic attack hadn't faded and I was still struggling to get myself under control. The blaring horn of a car was the first thing I comprehended. The second thing I comprehended was Kai's body wrapping protectively around me... and then... and then the screech of the tires again... the crash...
When I truly reigned in my terror, my anxiety, my fear, my body... it was to the sickening realization that Kai's body was on top of mine, unmoving... I couldn't feel his chest moving... I couldn't feel his breath against my neck... he was just... heavy... trapping me under him...
I heard yelling and panic around us... wherever I happened to run... wherever I happened to cause an accident, people were around and scrambling to help us... people were on the phone for the cops and I think the driver was pacing around in a panicked frenzy.
Yet, throughout all of this... the first thing that I did was begin to shake Kai's shoulder, "K-Kai...? Kai, please wake up..."
I didn't want to think of that possibility... Kai would wake up... Why won't he wake up...?
"Kai... Kai... Kai...! KAI!" I was wailing, trying to get Kai to wake up. I had enough strength to push myself into a sitting position and I was now cradling Kai's body against mine, "Please wake up, Kai! You have to get up! Please, please, please get up!"
It was a blur, what happened afterwards. I felt dead... I felt completely dead... I was holed up in a hospital room and after the doctors were able to determine that I had nothing physically wrong with me, I was left alone. No one mentioned Kai to me and after my hour and a half of bothering anyone that I could, I had lapsed into silence. I knew the reason they weren't telling me anything. There was no hiding it...
Kai had taken the impact directly... The most I got was a slightly jarred head from the aftershock and Kai's body careening me into the ground... If the aftershock was enough to jar me, then... Kai... he couldn't possibly have survived that...
The tears welled up in my eyes and I pulled my knees up to my chest and buried my face in them. The realization that I just killed Kai swam in my head... I just caused his death... I just killed my twin... I just ended Kai's life... I ruined it... it was my fault... he's dead... he's dead...
My sobs echoed in the small room. It made it all the more worse when I constantly believed that Kai would walk through the door at any moment to comfort me like he always did. I was truly alone and it was my fault. Kai was never going to come and comfort me like he always did... Kai wasn't going to come and laugh with me... he wasn't going to come and talk with me... complain with me... hang out with me... Kai wasn't going to go to the college he worked so hard to get into... he wasn't going to be able to live his life... make a difference... get a career and live out the life he truly deserves...
"Excuse me, but, are you Rei?"
The voice that came from the door stopped my sobs. I looked up to see a woman. Her red hair was tied into a ponytail and her suit was crisp. She was holding some folders and papers and she was waiting for me to respond. I didn't think that I could speak without crying again so I simply nodded.
"Rei, my name is Rachel Canon. I just wanted to talk to you for a little bit..." Instead of pulling up a chair like I thought she would, Rachel took a seat next to me on the bed, "I want to know how you're doing Rei... I know what happened with you and..." she trailed off, as if she was waiting for me to...
Oh hell... she was a psychiatrist... That knowledge was enough for me to suck up my pain and find it in my heart to flare up my façade, "Listen... Kai's dead... I understand that... alright?" I growled. It was hard to say, but I said it, "I don't have any problems, okay? Sobbing about the death of my brother is freaking natural. I'm pretty sure my parents are going to be bawling the moment they get here... but I have nothing wrong with me, alright? So do me a great favor and leave the room."
Rachel gave me a startled look, "Rei, please –"
"Leave... the... room..." I growled once more.
I wasn't in the mood to deal with any psychiatrists now or in the damn future. It didn't help when I was getting over my kidnapping and it damn well wasn't going to help me now... I had no one to help me now and to be honest, that was my damn fault... but I refuse any help now... Nothing was going to make me better... and I am willing to fight on my own...
Rachel looked like she was about to object, but after a while, she let out a sigh and prepared to leave... that is, until we heard my parents' voices echoing in the halls.
"Rei, oh Rei, where is my baby?!" What the hell was going on with mom?
She walked into the room, followed by my father, and she instantly came and wrapped me in a hug. I remained stiff as she kissed my cheek, "I'm so happy that at least you are okay!"
The lying son of a...Oh you're happy that I'm alright? Let's test that... "Kai's dead... Your son is dead..."
Dad spoke up as mom began crying into my shoulder, "We know son, we know... but he died protecting you... he was... he was a brave boy... and we didn't lose you both... that's a blessing of its own..."
They were so lying between their teeth! I already lost Kai and I wasn't going to deal with this... this... hypocrisy either! I pushed my mom away and leered at the both of them, "Don't play that card with me! You never cared about me and you're just putting up a front because you're in public! You don't care that I am alive; you probably hate the fact that I'm alive right now! Don't play games with me!"
I felt my parents' eyes and Rachel's eyes burning into my back as I stalked out of the room... but no one made a move to approach me...
My silence was deafening to everyone around me, I'm sure of it. Anyone who would have had the guts to approach me, talk to me, insult me, all seemed too afraid of me now. No one would approach me, let alone look at me... And I guess it was reasonable. Kai's death changed me and that is understandable. I'm not just going to roll over and accept sympathy and love from a family who never showed me any in the first place.
I ran a hand over the black suit I was wearing and fixed the blue rose that I had personally ordered for Kai's funeral. Everyone was told to wear a white rose for the funeral, but I wasn't about to follow that protocol. Kai's life was colorful, not black and white... I was already dressing in black... I wasn't going to deprive him of color on the last day I would see him... Blue was one of his favorite colors anyway...
In the corner of my room, I couldn't help but stare at my guitar... I never got to sing Kai's graduation song for him... maybe I could do it at the wedding... but... I just didn't want to do anything in front of my family... I never played or sang in front of them and I wasn't about to start now... I'll come back to the grave maybe... when everyone leaves to go back to the house, I'll sneak away and come back...
With my plans in my head, I walked out of my room and down the stairs. My parents were waiting for me and the moment I came down, I refused their urges to hug me or pat me on the shoulder or simply touch me and made my way to our waiting car...
The funeral couldn't have been more miserable... yet... it was so normal... There were tears, there were speeches... and then we went to the grave and watched as my twin's casket was lowered into the ground. On the inside, I was huddled in a dark corner of my mind, rocking back and forth as I waited for the onslaught of guilt, pain, agony... my torture... but on the outside, I was dead... emotionless... lifeless... I stood there and watched with my hands behind my back, my face a neutral mask...
The grave was filled and condolences were being taken by my parents. All the while, I made sure to stay far away from them, but still remained close to Kai's grave. No one came over to offer their sympathies to me. Anyone who tried was rewarded with a heavy glare from me, especially if they were a part of my family. I had predicted that the day would drag on as it was and the raging emotions inside of me would whirl around in my head while I moped in my room... and all that was changed when the whole funeral party paused to witness the arrival of a limo followed by news vans and cameras and the whole lot. My eyes narrowed as two men in crisp suits exited the limo. The cameras flashed and news broadcasters swarmed around them, but the two men had enough room to approach us...
Both men were tall, but they were about the same height. The one on the left had bright red hair, obviously dyed, and it was pulled back into a long ponytail. His black suit clung to his figure, allowing anyone to observe the graceful and lean body that he sported. The man on the right was a brunette with half his head shaved, the hair styled to fall in front of his face. His suit was loose and a little more laid back; his undershirt was lazily tucked into his dress pants and the blazer was left open. Everything about his form shouted passive and uninterested.
And both of these men approached our funeral party as if it were any regular sunny day... They bypassed everyone and stopped right in front of me. My expression turned into a suspicious glare, my attention leaning more towards the two men's entourage of followers. A man with a recording camera came up to our side, catching all three of us in the lens...
"Can I help you?" I asked coldly.
The red head smirked at me, "Obviously you are Rei... I am Dustin and this is my partner Kane."
Dustin held out his hand for me to shake but I glared at it in distaste, "Is there a reason you came to crash my brother's funeral?"
Kane raised his eyebrows, "We did come to pay our respects to Kai... but we also came to get you."
What the hell could these idiots – wait a minute, I know these idiots from somewhere... I wracked my brain for a possible solution to my suspicion. In a far corner of my mind that would usually be working right now, I'm pretty sure that these two men would have picked my interest, thus making it easy to recognize them...
I felt like I got slapped by a two by four, "Holy shit... You guys... you guys own Amaryllis Music Co.!" I gasped. A lot of famous musicians signed contracts with these guys! How did they know Kai and why were they here for me?!
Dustin gave me a small smile, "Your brother contacted us a couple of weeks ago... Now we usually wouldn't have checked out his request so soon, but the message that he sent with that cd of your music, we just couldn't put it on hold. He seemed really... let's say determined to get us to listen to the cd... and when we finally did, I have to say, we weren't disappointed..."
Kane put a hand on my shoulder, "You're unbelievable, especially for your age, and we think that maybe, if you worked with us, we could help you get a career in music like you so wanted."
I couldn't find the words to say anything... Kai... he went out of his way to get my music out to the world... and he succeeded... Kai get one of the top music companies in the country to approach me and ask to sign a contract with me... and he isn't even here for me to thank him for stepping out of his way to help me... I felt the burn of tears in my eyes and quickly turned around so that no one, especially Kane and Dustin, could see me cry. That was a bad move on my end as I was now face to face with Kai's grave.
I took a deep breath, "What did... Kai say to... convince you guys to even... listen to my work...?"
Dustin came up beside me and held out a paper, "This is the actual note that came in the mail with the cd he made..."
The letterhead was fancy, Kai's own design, and the font was elegant and professional...
Dear Amaryllis Music Co.,
I thank you for taking the time to read this letter. My name is Kai and I am contacting you in the hopes that you would consider the time to offer my twin brother, Rei, a contract with you.
We are both graduating in a number of days and I would greatly appreciate your help in raising him to the top. Self-taught and dedicated to music, Rei will leave you wanting more and more with every piece of music he creates. His potential and passion will be his motivation and all he needs is a little push here and there in the right direction to keep him going.
I know I am offering so little for you to go off of right now, but I will promise you that Rei is one of the best musicians that you can sign with. All he needs is a chance to shine... just one opportunity to prove his worth...
On that note, I hope that I, or Rei, will hear from you in the very near future... and if you happen to choose to contact Rei, would you mind keeping this anonymous? Many thanks to you...
Below the printed name was Kai's own signature, difficult for me to make out as my eyesight blurred with the threat of tears... As much trouble as Kai went through to give me this opportunity, I needed the full details... So as much as I wanted to scream yes, I kept myself professional, "Kane... Dustin... I would like to know the terms upon which I must accept before I do anything permanent..."
"I think I will say this now instead of later. You will have to move out of the state... away from your family... You'll be living under Amaryllis Music Co. care if you sign with us... only because you are so young and Dustin and I want to personally work with you for a little bit..." Kane warned.
... That was good enough for me... "I accept..."
"Are you insane?! You can't move away from home!" My mother suddenly cried out angrily, "You can't leave us!" she stormed up to stand in my point of view, "You can't abandon us here!"
"You're barely an adult! I am highly against you going out into this world on your own at such an age!" My father argued.
And that was all that I was going to take from them. Cameras or no cameras, I was going to speak my mind, "Enough... I don't want to ever hear such excuses ever directed towards me... A few weeks ago, you barely knew that I existed, and now that your first choice is gone, I'm suddenly a back-up? No... I don't need second rate love from people who never showed any affection in the first place. You've long lost your chance to make things up to me and now that Kai is gone, that chance will never arise... You never took care of me; it was always Kai... so you have no right to control anything about my life. I am 18 now and I am a legal adult... and I refuse to live under your scrutiny... I know the only reason you want me to stay is so that you won't be alone, abandoned, by the only son you have now... so thank yourselves... because that is exactly what I am going to do... Remember how you abandoned me, when I was seven? Remember how you basically left me to die in my own grief? Well, think of this as payback... I'm done with you... I'm done with everyone... And I'm going to start my new life free from your reach and corruption..."
The fact that I said this publicly in front of everyone present and in the presence of a filming crew only made the situation all the more embarrassing for my parents. As cruel as it sounded, I wasn't ashamed of what I said though... No matter how painful it must have been, they deserved it... I didn't need my parents... I never really did... The only person I ever needed was no longer with me... and now I wasn't going to hide behind people who never supported me in the first place... My new life was calling me... and I wasn't going to ignore it.
I turned my gaze towards Dustin and Kane, "We need to stop by the house... I only need to grab a few things... and then I want to leave forever..." I held out my hand, "I accept everything... whatever you want, I'll do it. I'll offer you diligent work and my dedication will remain strong... just get me away from here... now, and I promise that I will never disappoint you..."
My voice never wavered and my determination was printed on my face. I wasn't changing my mind and I made that clear. The cameras flashed as both Dustin and Kane took turns shaking my hand... and everyone followed us, camera, eyes, bodies, as I followed Dustin and Kane to the limo. The paparazzi trailed us all the way back to my house and I quickly jumped out and ran into the house.
The first room I went into was Kai's. It was just as neat as I remember it always was. I walked over to his closet and after searching through it, I took a few button-up shirts that I had always liked and I also grabbed some of his dressier clothing. The last thing I took from his room was his spare pair of black rimmed rectangular glasses. In my room, I had a suitcase waiting under my bed, fully packed already since I had planned to leave soon anyway. I opened it and added Kai's clothes into it. I looked around my room one more time and my eyes landed on the picture frame on my nightstand... Kai's birthday gift to me...
There was no need to think twice as I stuffed the frame into my bag and as a last thought, I hunted down the rest of the pictures that we had hidden from our parents. My guitar was snagged on the way out of the house that I grew up in. I had everything now... and I didn't look back as I left the house. My suitcase was put into the limo and I sat down inside with my guitar across my lap and my fingers fiddling with Kai's glasses... We were all quiet as everything going on sunk in... It was then that I realized that all those cameras and reporters were going to have some pretty juicy stories for their broadcasts soon... Ha, my life was already changing...
"Are you sure?" Dustin suddenly asked after what had to be an hour of driving.
I blinked in confusion, "Am I sure about what?"
Kane frowned, "You're leaving your whole life behind like it was nothing... letting it go like dust in the wind... Are you positive that you want to go through with this Rei?"
Well, nice timing to ask that, after you drove me an hour away from home... but in all seriousness, was I really sure about what I was doing? Am I willing to begin a new life? Am I positive that I want to drop everything to leave the state, my parents, my family, my whole past, in order to pursue my career? Am I willing to forget everything to take the next step in life so young?
It was a long while before I finally answered: "I just want to leave everything behind me... and start new..." I sighed heavily as I twirled Kai's glasses around in my hand, fingers gliding over the black plastic rimming. When I finally lifted my head to make eye contact with my future contractors, I hardened my gaze, allowing all my resolve to shine in them, "Take me away from here..."