One would expect such an old floor to creek when being crept upon, but it was strangely quiet as Jander glided toward his brother's room. The hard-wood beneath his feet ended at the threshold, leaving the polished surface for a soft white rug once he entered the room. Jander was feeling strangely venturous today, to the point of entering the room, forbidden to him under penalty of many lectures from his twin. The disagreement was initially over the computer, since Jander wasn't quite as technologically literate as his brother, and eventually the restriction came to encompass the entire room. Quickly glancing over his shoulder, Jander sat before the terminal, clicking on his favorite game. It loaded, but after playing for some time, it started to slow down. Despite his ignorance in the field, Jander knew this wasn't normal computer-behavior.
"Strange…" He mumbled, exiting the program to see what was what. However, the game didn't close, and the display started to fragment alarmingly. Not wanting to be caught, Jander quickly searched his memory for commands he'd seen his brother use several times.
"Control… Alt… Delete." Jander recalled, jabbing the keys, but to no avail. The small 'close program' screen wouldn't appear. His nervousness now a pounding force in his chest, Jander poked the reset switch. The computer remained in its half-frozen state.
"Okay… Last resort it is." Reaching behind the CPU, Jander flicked off the main power switch, rewarded by the quieting of the computer as it shut down at last. Wanting to leave the station as he had found it, in order to avoid being caught where he was not welcome, Jander turned the computer on once again. He was met with a jarring error beep, and promptly rose to hit his head quite hard on the computer table's underside. He rubbed his head, cursing under his breath, but thankfully, the beeping stopped and everything seemed fine. However, upon closer inspection, the icon for his game was gone, replaced by two strange folders. They were both named with strings of nonsense: '#%*#####*@' and '**!~&#####'.
"Oh… kay?" His curiosity getting the best of him, Jander clicked on one folder. Enclosed were pieces of uncompiled code. He opened a selection, recognizing it as the platform for his game. Confused, he scrolled through the blocks of script, unable to understand. His attention was sharply grabbed when the code parted momentarily to reveal plain writing.
"Huh? Is this the script?" He read it.
I can't believe how people continuously badger me to do better. Just because I'm some sort of 'prodigy' they think I'll constantly excel and grow.
Jander raised an eyebrow. "That's not part of the game." He continued to scroll, finding again, more writing further down.
I don't have any free time anymore. I keep telling myself I can stop doing work when other kids would, but then I feel like I'm disappointing dad and Mrs.Isen.
"Hey… That's Zeke's teacher." A picture began to form in Jander's mind, his brother had been keeping a sort of digital diary, hidden in the code. Something must have triggered it to open when he played the game. Although he felt a little guilty for doing so now, Jander continued to read his brother's notes.
It's official, I have zero friends. I have to keep telling them I can't participate in their post-school games, so they've grown tired of me and left. I feel so utterly alone… But this gives me more time for work. I wonder if this is good or bad.
"Poor Zeke. I never knew that…" Jander glanced over his shoulder, feeling as if he would be discovered at any moment, but unable to tear himself away from the text.
I'm doomed. I know I failed this test today. I studied all night… Most of the week too, but when I sat down and looked at the page, dad's voice and all the teachers' voices came back to me… 'You could be amazing if you applied yourself'… 'Keep striving'. When I read the sheet, I couldn't remember anything… I failed. I can't believe it… I failed.
His surprise growing, Jander read on, coming to two final entries, the last of which had been dated.
The test… I did fail… I got forty percent… I don't know what I'm going to do… The teacher already scolded me, or rather, she pitied me! I feel so… I don't know… Is it guilty? Something like that. Maybe I'm actually getting stupider… I can't show mom and dad… They'll take away my computer… They think it's a distraction. I think I'm going insane.
December 14: I wish I were dead.
"Oh my god!" Jander closed the screen, repelled by the words. His brother must have been kidding… But this was obviously a very personal collection of thoughts, he wouldn't simply put that to scare off people; the idea of suicide had actually occurred to him. Jander leapt up from his chair, skidding down to the second floor of the house. Although the final entry was made two days ago, he had read it now, and felt that he had to take action before it was too late. He swiftly found his mom and dad sitting in the den, knitting and reading the newspaper respectively. The television was on, but being from the old country, they both felt being sedentary for too long was a waste of time, even for the sake of relaxation.
"Mum, dad, where's Zeke??" Jander asked, his speech pressed.
"My god, is something on fire, son?" His dad asked, with good natured humor.
"Seriously!" Jander whined.
"Oh, dear. He's downstairs." Exasperated at the word-chases her husband sent Jander on, she validated his question.
"Thanks!" He called, sprinting toward the basement, followed by a worrisome call of 'take your socks off when you run on the floors!'
Jander skidded to a halt at the entrance to the basement. The space was made up of two conjoined rooms that weren't divided. The first was a small landing with few things in it other than drying flowers hung near the dusty ground-level windows. The larger room was wide with arched doors, a wood floor, and pale yellow walls. Large pieces of oak furniture filled the area, as well as matching floral decorations. On the opposite wall was Zeke's vacant desk, scattered with school stationary. Pensive that his brother was not there, Jander entered the room, walking pointedly around, until he collided head on with his twin.
"Watch it, Jan. You nearly broke my arm!"
"Why weren't you at your desk?!"
"I'm not glued there, guy."
Jander didn't reply, he only stared at his twin, pouting. His heart began its familiar nervous thumping as he formulated a way to tell Zeke he'd seen the program. Not the most clever for devising eloquent admissions on demand, Jander simply blurted out: "I saw the program!"
A look of agitation and surprise washed over Zeke's face, but was quickly replaced with calm. "What do you mean?" He asked smoothly.
"The code for that game! I saw your notes in it! I'm sorry I read them- But Zeke- You can't kill yourself over school!"
Zeke clenched his teeth, the look of anger returning. "Why… You little…" Was all he hissed before launching himself at Jander. The two fell backward, sliding across the floor until an absent throw-rug ground them to a halt. Zeke procured an onslaught of punches, while Jander tried to defend himself as best he could, pushing Zeke away with one knee to his chest, and covering his face with his arms.
"Zeke! Stop it! Come on, I said I was sorry." Jander protested. After some time, Zeke stopped, panting, his hands to either side of Jander's head, still straddling him.
Jander tried to catch his breath. "...You weren't serious, were you?" He studied blue eyes identical to his own, staring back at him. Zeke didn't reply, but his breathing calmed and his face resumed a neutral expression. He bowed his head, blond strands of hair falling forward. Jander was brought back to attention when he felt Zeke's hair trial over his forehead, and his twin's breath on his cheek. Jander motioned that he wished to get up, but Zeke held fast, not moving.
"Hey, let me up. The floor is hurting my back." Jander looked to his brother, then away again, disconcerted by the way Zeke was looking at him. Slowly Zeke leaned forward, pressing his lips to Jander's in a most un-brotherly kiss. This elicited a bout of fighting from Jander, where he managed to escape from under his brother, but was caught once again, and pushed against a wall, facing Zeke. Although they were equally matched, Jander had no real pension to fight his kin, but Zeke seemed fine with any means that would fulfill his desire.
"Jesus, Zeke! What's wrong with you?" Jander winced, his brother's fingers digging into his upper arms where he was held.
"I'm depressed and lonely, Jan. Won't you make me feel better?" Zeke leered, leaning in again. Jander snapped his head to the side, squinting his eyes shut and keeping his mouth closed. His tongue still prickled from the feeling of his twin's against it. This gesture didn't deter Zeke, if anything, it encouraged him. He nuzzled against Jander's turned neck, pressing himself firmly against his struggling twin. Jander fought valiantly in attempts to escape, ending just short of calling for help from his parents. But for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to do that. Either the fear of what Zeke's retaliation would be, or the principal of not asking for parental aid, stopped the trapped boy from screaming. However, he was unable to suppress a small squeak-like moan when Zeke began nibbling softly at his neck and earlobe.
"The mind is willing..." Zeke laughed lightly, resting his hands on Jander's hips. "... But the flesh is weak. Isn't that true?" He raised an eyebrow, indicating Jander's growing hardness against his own.
Jander ground his teeth, disgusted at both himself for reacting, and Zeke for insinuating the confrontation.
"What is this, Zeke? Some sort of bizarre vanity for you? Perverted narcissism?"
Zeke stopped his ministrations long enough to appear thoughtful. "No."
Jander had hoped for any answer but that. The implications of a negative response were so great he couldn't help himself from lashing out at Zeke, striking him squarely against the face, knocking him down. Taking the opportunity, though regretful for hitting his brother, Jander scrambled, slipping periodically up the stairs, and to the bathroom, where he slammed the door shut and locked. He promptly treated himself with a very cold shower.
The cold water trickled over his shoulders, trailing blond strands into his eyes, sticking them to his cheeks. Shivers coursed through his body, but he was blessedly un-aroused now.
That was... So... Strange. What's wrong with Zeke? Is he really attracted to me? He said it wasn't some sort of... "I get to do myself through my twin" thing... So then he's attracted to me for... me? That's much worse... Isn't it? That means it's not a passing thing. No, no. It'll pass. He's just stressed out... And... Horny.
Jander wrinkled his nose, letting his head rest against the tiled wall of the shower. He was torn between helping his brother succeed, protecting him from depression, and escaping from his tirade of recent affections. There was no way he could persuade one of his female friends to date Zeke, they were just too different. Like Zeke and himself, Jander's friends preferred to play sports and go out in crowds, while Zeke was a scholar.
So it's up to me... Maybe just talking to Zeke would help... Yes, I'll do that tomorrow. It's Saturday, he'll be home all day, and the guys won't miss me if I'm not there for practice one time.
Turning off the faucets, Jander stepped out of the tub, lazily wrapping a towel around his waist and draping one over his shoulders in attempts to fend off the cold. His hair, matted and long at the front was a tousle of icicles, dripping chilling trickles down his front and spine. Quickly entering his room, Jander dressed in a pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt to sleep.
Zeke had long since entered his room and readied for bed. He lay there now, staring at the bunk above him, where his brother had slept years before. He remembered those days, where if one of them was cold or frightened of the dark, they would find fortitude together. Zeke crossed his arms behind his head, smiling fondly. He had spent all that time bottling up things he hadn't meant for his brother to ever know, but today, he'd plowed forward, shattering the barrier of uneasiness that had slowly been built over the past few years. Different interests had driven a rift between Jander and himself, which he intended without further adieu to fix.
I'm amazed with myself. Not disgusted or ashamed at all. I'd expected to be ashamed... Or anxious. Yes, anxious... But I'm frankly very impressed. I was so forward, where usually I would have simply let the feelings lay to rest. Maybe it just doesn't matter to me anymore. If this goes horribly wrong, I'll just kill myself- nothing left to live for, anyway.
Zeke closed his eyes, sleep gracing him swiftly.