A/N: Hi, guys. Make sure you’ve read 1.04 first, since I got these two up quite soon after each other!!
First of all, let me tell you that this is OPTIONAL reading. As in, you won’t miss anything of Gabe’s story if you don’t read this.
Second of all, this is probably one of the darkest things I’ve ever written (and I’m a bit worried about posting it), so let me warn you there are DISTURBING THEMES ahead. However, I hope I’ve handled the issues in this post sensitively, and most things are implied rather than explicit. I hope I haven’t crossed any lines. Reader discretion is advised.
That said, I’ll leave you in Jamie’s hands and he can tell you his story.
Yes, I am writing in your journal. But I guess if you’re reading this you already knew that. Oops. I didn’t read any. Well, maybe just a little bit. The first couple of pages, maybe. *shifty eyes* >.>
This is Jamie, by the way. In case you didn’t guess by the messy handwriting. I think Kami’s would be neater, you know? Kind of curly. Maybe with hearts over the i’s. Or skulls and crossbones or something.
Oh, yes… you might want to know the reason I’m writing in here. Well…
It’s a moonless night, and I can’t sleep. Kami’s snores are echoing in from the bedroom. Okay, maybe they aren’t, but it’s her fault we’re sleeping on this floor every night. I know you’re annoyed about it too, Gabe, so don’t deny it! Just ’cause she’s like… your oldest friend or something. I hope you don’t still have a crush on her – you’re meant to be dating Susie! She’s much nicer. D:<
Sorry, I didn’t mean to lecture you in your own journal. What I meant to say was, well, as I kind of accidentally-on-purpose read about your past, I thought it only fair that I tell you mine. After all, you’ve done so much for me and you’re practically my dad now and all… and I’d never be able to tell you all this out loud. So yes… I’m writing it down. In your journal.
Sorry about that, descendants of Gabriel reading this in the far-flung future! Guess I’m kind of butting in. ^^;
Now where to start?
Oh, I guess I’ll start with my toddler-hood. Like you did, Gabe.
Now’s probably a good time to mention that I’m an identical twin. Yep. When we were little, my parents would tell the difference by dressing me in blue and my twin, Arthur, in green. We were the cutest toddlers for miles around… even if I do say so myself.
My mother, Alice, was amazing.
Perhaps I’m biased.
I don’t really remember much of her except the smell of soap and roses, and the feel of her hair when it tickled my nose. I do remember she was blonde, but other than that… I don’t really have much memory at all of what she looked like. Just faint… impressions, I guess you’d call them.
My father, Grant, well… he’s where me and Arthur got our red hair from. I was always his favourite, though parents aren’t meant to have favourites. I mean, he loved us both, but it was me he let climb on the sofa with him when he got home from work and me he’d come to first if we were both screaming our heads off.
It didn’t really matter to Arthur that I was our father’s favourite. He was always a Mummy’s boy, anyhow.
And it mattered even less because, in my eyes, Arthur came first. And in his eyes, I came first. That’s just how it was. We didn’t really have many other friends at school, though Arthur was popular with everyone. I was a bit of a loser, whereas he was the ‘cool’ twin. He had this one shirt with a skull on, and all the kids wanted one.
That’s how cool he was.
It didn’t bother me, really. I never wanted to be super popular and I was rarely picked on ’cause Arthur stood up for me. He once punched an older kid right on the nose for pushing me around! He got suspended, but our father bought him some ice cream as a reward and told him not to tell Mum.
I suppose it was because he was older by, like… two minutes. He felt he had to protect me.
But there were some things my brother couldn’t protect me from, and we learnt that all too young.
When we were nine years old, our mother was killed in a car crash.
It was hard, you know? One day, she was there, getting us ready for school, making our packed lunches and waving us off on the bus…
The next, she was gone.
The night after the funeral, our father sent us to bed early. I guess he wanted some time to himself, or perhaps he had seen how much the day had exhausted us. Our eyes were puffy and red-rimmed and there was an ache in our chests that wouldn’t go away.
Arthur gripped my hand under the duvet, his fingers tangling with mine. It was an attempt to comfort me, though I had no idea how to comfort him. We were asleep as soon as our heads touched the pillows.
Sleep soothed us and dulled the pain of grief. At least for a while.
It was past midnight when I woke again, a prickling on the back of my neck alerting me to a presence that wasn’t Arthur. An almost… I don’t know how to describe it. It made me feel uneasy, though.
I peered through the gloom with sleepy eyes.
My father stood in the corner of the room, swaying slightly on his feet. The smart tie he’d been wearing earlier that day had been abandoned somewhere, and his face was pale and drawn. I could smell the stench of booze from my bed.
I felt unreasonably scared of my father at that moment.
I reached over and flicked the lamp on, nudging Arthur with my spare hand.
Arthur woke immediately at my touch, his eyes finding mine, reassuring me. Then he pushed the covers back and got out of bed, turning on his own bedside lamp. I turned over, but couldn’t quite make myself get out of bed. I’d always had a fear of monsters and, even though my father was there and Arthur had got out and hadn’t been eaten… I was still frightened they’d shoot tentacles out from under the bed to grab my feet or something. Even at a time like that…
Don’t laugh, Gabe. I was nine, all right? And I’m sleeping on the floor now, aren’t I? D:
But then, I learnt that there were worse things in the world than any monster that could be hiding under the bed.
“Daddy?” Arthur said. His voice was strangely loud in the silence. “Are you all right?”
At that question, my father snapped.
“Get out of here, Arthur!” he shouted, his voice stumbling and slurring over the words. “You’re sleeping in my bed tonight.”
Arthur’s eyes filled with tears. Our father had never shouted at us like that before, especially not in the middle of the night. In fact, we hadn’t heard him raise his voice above a whisper since the night Mum died. I guess in that short week we had got used to it.
“B-but… I want to stay with Jamie,” Arthur protested, glancing at me and then away again.
I wanted him to stay with me too. I didn’t want to be left alone with this angry man that had replaced our father. My eyes filled with tears to match Arthur’s.
But our father was having none of it.
“Get out of my sight before I give you something to cry about!”
He swung his fist at an imaginary opponent, knocking himself off balance and falling sideways against the wall. Perhaps it seems kind of funny now (though thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach), but back then the two of us were terrified. What had happened to our father to turn him into… into this? Had some demon come and possessed him?
Of course, Arthur skedaddled pretty quickly after that, ducking around him and darting out of the door. Our father swiped at him again with a kind of grieved roar, but missed.
I wanted to run after my twin, but terror had rooted me to the bed.
I stared up at my father as he approached me. He was still unsteady on his feet, and his eyes were bloodshot and wild. His breath came in ragged gasps.
I’m ashamed to say I wet myself.
“Daddy?” My voice trembled. “Daddy, I had an accident. I want Mummy.”
The words were a mistake. He lurched forward, grabbing the end of the bed for support.
“Get your pyjamas off.”
The words were almost a growl. A fleck of spit hit my face.
I scrambled to do as I was told.
I… suppose you can guess what happened next.
When my father was sober, he felt a lot of guilt over what he did to me. He was always buying me presents and apologising and promising it would never happen again. At first, I forgave him, but whenever he drank… he went back on his promise.
I suppose you’re wondering why we didn’t tell anyone. It’s because… because… I don’t know. We were just scared that no one would believe us. Our father was a policeman and all the police were his friends. I got scared that all policemen were like him and I didn’t want to tell anyone in case they didn’t stop it.
In case they did it too.
Arthur tried to protect me, as he always did, but our father took to locking him in the basement. Sometimes he pretended to be me, to try and spare me for at least one night, but our father would always know.
He wasn’t our father for nothing.
Sorry, I kind of got tear stains on the pages there… It might be a bit too smudged to read. Oh crap. Sorry. You get the general
jist gist though.
It wasn’t until we were almost fifteen that we gathered the courage to run away.
“I don’t know, Arthur,” I said to my brother. “What if he catches us? And where are we going to go?”
“Let’s just get out of here first, okay?” Arthur replied. He was always the brave one, the impulsive one. “Then we can worry about what to do.”
I got to my feet, taking a last look around the room where we had grown up.
“I guess you’re right,” I said, but I felt sick and nervous.
We slept on the streets that night. Well, I slept. I don’t know how much sleep Arthur got. He insisted that he’d got some, at least, but the dark smudges under his eyes said otherwise.
We must have hitch-hiked our way across half the country. Luckily the drivers that we stopped wanted little or no money, and were just kind people doing a good turn. You hear some stories, don’t you?
When we arrived in a big city, the sort of place you could disappear without a trace, we headed to the beach to work out our game plan.
It wasn’t much of a beach. The sand was more mud than anything else. The sea had washed old bottles, bits of fishing net, weathered driftwood and crisp packets up on the banks. It was just as well neither of us was in the mood to swim.
That day at the beach was the day we met Claude Smythe.
I don’t know if that was his real name or not (in fact, I doubt it is), but that’s the name he used when I knew him. Claude was a tall and imposing man, with an air of wealth around him. He looked like the type of person that was used to getting what he wanted, even if it meant treading on people to get there.
He was unlike anything we had ever seen before.
“You boys look like you’re lost,” Claude said.
His voice sent chills down my spine, even then. It was like being submerged in a bath of warm honey; pleasant at first, but you’d find yourself sticky and uncomfortable days later.
Claude was a charming spider, and we fell straight into his web.
“We might be,” Arthur said boldy. “What’s it to you?”
Claude smiled, and the chills returned.
“It just so happens I’m in a business where I think two pretty boys like you can go far.”
There was a moment of silence, and then Arthur’s eyes flashed angrily as he realised what Claude was implying.
“We’re not fucking whores,” he spat. “And we’ll never be whores. So you can fuck right off.”
“I do like a boy with some fight in him,” he said smoothly. When Arthur just scowled at him, he continued, “I wasn’t talking about prostitution.” He emphasised the word delicately. “I was talking about the porn industry. You both could just about pass for eighteen and, well, there’s a certain niche market for twins.”
“I told you to fuck off,” Arthur snarled at him.
“Arthur?” I ventured. “We do need money, a-and a place to stay and stuff.”
Claude laughed again, appraising me with his eyes.
“Your brother is smart,” he said to Arthur. “It just so happens I have a spare room where you can lodge in return for a couple of videos.” He paused for effect. “What do you say?”
Arthur seemed to deflate in front of me.
“Just a couple of videos?”
“That’s what I said.”
Arthur hesitated for a long moment, before saying quietly, “All right. We’ll do it. But no one touches my brother.”
Claude only smiled. The warmth didn’t reach his eyes.
Arthur turned and met my gaze. There was a sadness there that hadn’t existed before. Did he feel like he’d let me down somehow by agreeing to Claude’s tempting offer? Did he already think – know? – that he’d made a mistake?
Claude took us to an unobtrusive blue house at the edge of the city. It certainly didn’t look like the kind of place where porn was made and circulated, but (as Arthur pointed out) a business like that would do well to remain under the radar.
When we were shown to our new room and left to our own devices, Arthur wrapped his arms around me. I clung to him.
“I’m sorry, Jamie,” he told me. “We’ll get out of here as soon as we get some money. This is only temporary.”
“I know,” I said softly.
If only we had known then just how wrong we were. The gift of hindsight is a double-edged sword, isn’t it, Gabe?
And so, the process of making a video began. Claude set up a video camera on the chest of drawers in the bedroom and settled himself down on a beanbag in the corner to direct us. The red light on the camera winked lustfully.
“I want you to kiss,” Claude told us.
Though we had been expecting it, the words, said so bluntly, shook both of us. My stomach flipped over, but I stood frozen to the spot. The camera had trapped me, like a bug suspended in amber.
Arthur’s fists clenched and he looked away, his jaw tightening. It looked as though he was about to refuse.
“It’s okay,” I whispered. “Let’s just do what he says, okay?”
Arthur nodded almost imperceptively.
He leant forward and cautiously pressed his lips against mine. My stomach twisted nervously and it took everything I had not to pull away from him.
This is Arthur, I told myself. He won’t hurt me.
But I remained frozen, resistant to the gentle, reluctant kiss.
Arthur pulled away after a brief moment. His eyes were angry and ashamed, his cheeks flushed with frustration. He couldn’t – wouldn’t – meet my eyes.
“We can’t do this,” he said, and I wasn’t sure whether he was talking to himself or Claude. “He’s my brother. It’s wrong, it’s -“
“You will do this,” Claude said firmly, cutting him off. “You already owe me a debt, and unless you want me to sell your brother’s prettly little ass to cover it, you’ll do as I say.”
Arthur’s chin jerked up stubbornly, though I noticed that he trembled. Every instinct in my body told me to run, but the memory of the large bodyguards watching television in the living room downstairs stopped me.
Oh yes, I forgot to mention them. Claude, being rich and privileged, didn’t actually live in this house. He had an entourage of bodyguards and the ones that were not serving him on any given day stayed here. Downstairs. They were tall, muscular men – and utterly loyal to Claude. We didn’t stand a chance.
“What if we left?” Arthur said, seemingly forgetting about that particular inconvenience. “What would you do then?”
“I have many friends in the city,” Claude said, his mouth twisting in a sinister smile. “They would make sure the debt was paid. One way or another.”
Arthur looked away, defeated. Claude smirked.
“Now… kiss him like you mean it or we may have to… rethink your contract.”
His words seemed to ignite something in Arthur, because suddenly his lips were crashing against mine and his arms were wrapping around my body, pulling me close. I closed my eyes, letting him kiss me, wishing that I’d never put in a preference for money and somewhere to stay. We should have just stayed on the streets.
I felt dirty and degraded, and I hated that it was my brother’s touch that was making me feel that way.
Too soon, I found myself naked on the bed in Arthur’s arms. His hands hovered uncertainly at my back and on my arm, aware what Claude was expecting us to do but reluctant, unwilling to go any further.
We couldn’t put it off forever, though, and eventually Arthur pushed me down on my back on the bed, trying to reassure me with gentle kisses. I didn’t resist; this was hard enough for him as it was.
But I was unable to stop the hot, shameful tears that slid down my cheeks.
It didn’t help that Claude had stripped off and was reclining on the bed, watching us with eyes that missed nothing. I had the awful feeling that he was intending to join in as soon as things had heated up.
But it wasn’t to be.
Arthur noticed my tears and pulled back. There was pain in his eyes.
“I – I can’t do this,” he whispered, and there was pain in his voice too.
He jumped up off the bed, startling both me and Claude. Well, I think Claude was startled. I certainly had never seen him move that fast before.
“We’re not doing this!” Arthur shouted. “We’re not going to be part of your sick little games!”
Claude was standing in front of him by this point. I’d sat up, struggling to contain sobs. I felt so exposed, so pathetic and so unsure. What was going to happen now?
“You can threaten us all you want,” Arthur continued, unfazed by the fact he was naked and Claude was rather more muscular than he was. “We’re leaving.”
“I told you before, brat,” Claude returned, his voice angry now. Dangerous. “You can’t leave.”
And then, Claude hit Arthur hard across the face. There was a smack and a crack, and a horrible thud as Arthur’s head hit the bedpost and then the floor.
He didn’t get up.
I scrambled up from the bed and slumped to the floor beside him, panicking and terrified and anguished and everything in between. Arthur’s eyes were open and glassy, staring up at the ceiling. Blood trickled sadly from the corner of his mouth.
Shaking, I lifted his head from the floor.
“Arthur? Arthur, wake up. Please…”
My hands grew warm and damp where they cradled Arthur’s head. When I lowered it to the floor again and pulled my hands away, they came away red and slick with blood.
Bile rose in my throat and I vomited on the carpet, coughing and choking on tears.
What was I supposed to do now?
Claude’s voice broke into my grief, and I didn’t know what else to do but obey.
I rose slowly to my feet, feeling like a stranger in my own body. Claude looked me over with his cold eyes, as though I was a piece of meat he suddenly didn’t know what to do with.
“And what am I going to do with you now?” he mused. His voice was amused.
For the first time in a long while, I felt anger. It bubbled up inside me and boiled over, and I felt my control break.
“You killed him!” I screamed, launching myself foward and punching and hitting and scratching any part of Claude I could reach. “You killed my brother!”
But Claude was stronger than me and soon I found myself pinned to the bed. My nose was bleeding and every breath I took was soaked with blood. I could barely see through my tears.
“Let’s see if that pretty little ass of yours is any good,” Claude hissed, his nails digging painfully into the skin of my chest. “For your sake, you’d better hope it is.”
I don’t remember much of the night that followed. I’ve tried to block it out.
There’s just pain. Red, angry, humiliating pain.
And an empty hole where my brother should be.
Sorry. This account is not going to be very legible, is it? Not if I keep crying on it and making the ink run.
I just… I miss him. Arthur. Some days I feel like only half a person.
But you probably want to know how I got away.
Claude began to sell my body to anyone that would pay.
I was numb, at first. Numb and terrified. I tried hard to please the customers, scared that Claude would hurt me again. Scared that he would kill me like he’d killed my brother.
But Claude took what he wanted no matter how good a job I did, and it became harder and harder to make myself please the men who came to visit.
Until, eventually, I gave up altogether.
Claude, of course, noticed. Customers started to complain and refused to pay their dues. When there was money involved, Claude wouldn’t let them be unsatisfied for long.
“After everything I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me!” he shouted when he confronted me.
I shrank back, shaking my head, too scared of him to protest. To stand up for myself.
He jabbed his finger at my chest.
“You’re nothing but a filthy whore,” he snarled. “Do you really think you can defy me?”
“I – I’m sorry…”
He backhanded me across the face and shoved me back against the banister. My nose, which hadn’t quite healed from the last time he’d hit me, started to bleed again.
“I own you, James,” Claude said, his voice as soft as a caress. “Don’t you ever forget that.”
And then, he was gone.
I slumped to the floor, burying my head in my hands as I started to cry.
“Arthur, please give me the strength to escape,” I begged the bloodstain on the carpet; no matter how much Claude had made me scrub the floor, that little piece of my brother still remained. “Please.”
In a sudden rush, adrenaline pulsed through me.
I grabbed my clothes from the side and pulled them on, before racing down the stairs and out the doors past the baffled and started bodyguards. They shouted and gave chase, but something drove me on, faster and faster. I kept running even when my chest started to burn. I kept running when my legs turned to fire as my muscles seized and fought against me. I kept running even when every breath was agony.
And suddenly, mercifully, I lost them.
The night was still, silent. The air was cold and calming on my fevered skin, soothing my racing heart. I almost collapsed in a puddle of tears right there on the street, but made myself stumble and stagger on until I reached the cover of some trees. I needed to hide, needed to get out of there.
But once in the woods, I could go no further. Relief and grief and horror and pain hit me in one violent wave and I fell to the ground, clutching at myself with my hands. Literally trying to hold myself together, trying to hold in the sobs.
But, I was free.
And, at that moment, nothing else mattered.
So, that’s my story, Gabe. You know the rest, seeing as you’ve lived it too. I don’t want this to change anything between us. I don’t want you to treat me any different now that you know the truth.
I’m strong. I’m working my own way through this. I don’t think I could cope now if you start treating me as though I could shatter. I just… I felt it was only fair you knew. I want you to know.
I love you, Gabe. Dad.
It’s thanks to you that I’ve finally begun to heal.