Rain

Songs Yume no Kazu Dake Ai ga Umarete/ After the Rain
© Yamashita Tomohisa/NewS/J. Entertainment
Story by Dragons_kin

Over the roof…

Laughter, and the sound of the piano. It mimicked the rain perfectly, like a light drizzle. He always caught her listening to that song. Aiden hadn't been a real part of that in a long time. It was cold atop the roof, damp, just barely finished raining. Aiden didn't like the cold, hated it really, but he thought it didn't matter so much if she was here, if she could stay here. And she stood with her dark hair and brown trench coat billowing like a flag in the wind. She raised her hand to her head, attempting to keep the locks out of her face.

Alina smiled, almond shaped eyes closing with the force of her smile. A childish smile, one that appears after laughing. And her face reflected her happiness. When Alina had calmed down, her smile became serene, her eyes opened up a little bit more, and those chocolate colored eyes shone. Aiden didn't really think anyone's eyes could be any brighter.

"Wh-wha-what did you b-bring me h-here for-r-r-r," He couldn't help stuttering between his shivering teeth; he hated the cold.

"I wanted to show you something." It was so easy for her to reply. So easy for her to know everything.

"And it-t h-ha-ad to be out-freaking-here?"

"Yes," she declared, "it had to be out-freaking-here, in the middle of the freaking night, with freaking you. Does that answer any and all questions you have?"

"What is it you wanted to show me?" he tried hard to keep himself from stuttering. He couldn't afford to spend time on arguing with her…she was leaving soon.

Her smile became a smirk, predatory, wolfish. In unison with her finger pointing towards the sky, her eyes rolled up. Aiden followed suit, allowing the back of his head to touch the space between his shoulder blades, and he gasped.

Pink and yellow and orange clouds glowed against the setting sun. Red and blue and white and purple simmered over the first sign of stars forming. They lined up and twisted about each other, creating pathways and roads for the stars to light up.

A road composed of seven colors was dashed across the sky…

Under the roof…

Alina was the new girl in town. Awkward looking, exotic compared to the people at Centerfold. With her tanned skin and almond shaped eyes, she stood out. Even if she was smaller than the average five and a half feet. Somehow, her being there was like blood in a sea of sharks, and they were ruthless in attempting to tear her apart.

Shy outside, fierce in.

Maybe she wasn't new to the abuse.

Top Dog and his ring of buddies, with his green eyes and dirty blonde hair, circled her. The need to intimidate was fierce, the need to show dominance. Her brown eyes never looked up at him for more than a second, taking him in, memorizing.

"Hey there, midget," he circled her, jabbing at her. She remained submissive, turning her lowered head away from him to look at the ring of people's feet. "Like it here so far?" She nodded a little in answer to the question, but it looked like a shiver. A moment passed. Top Dog knocked into her again, angry, and she fell. Alina didn't mean to look up, but she did anyway, not attempting to save her books or her papers, knowing that they'd be destroyed if she tried to save them.

Alina had never been good at controlling her tears, never been good at hiding what she thought when it mattered. Except this time. Somehow, when Top Dog reached out for her, pulled her hair, face pulled close to hers forcing her to stare at him, she kept quiet. "Even if you did, we don't like your folk." There was some cheering at that statement. Tears glassed her eyes, threatening to fall. Shouts and yells from the crowd, and maybe Top Dog, who was nothing more than a youth then, got caught up in the mood, and he spat at her. His saliva felt warm at the touch of her skin, cooling as it made its way down her face. "I own this town," he told her, "if you want so much as a cookie here, you ask me." Top Dog looked around, looking proud of himself and let go of her with a jerk.

Top Dog left, the crowd still jeering, slapping his shoulders, laughing, and it was a long time after everyone had left when Alina moved again.

Like the sky…

Top Dog didn't know until about a year and a half later that she was at Centerfold for a reason. Not until he had snuck out of his room for a midnight walk around the city. That night was cloudy, angry gray storm clouds made its way overhead. It had already been decided…

Alina looked so different outside of school. Her hair at there had always been in a ponytail with her bangs out of her face. Her clothes were baggy and plain and ragged at school. Her glasses were unbecoming of her face, but she wore them anyway. So it had been no surprise that Top Dog didn't recognize her with her jeans on tight, her shoes heels, her shirt a red spaghetti strap under a veil-like black poncho, and her air was curled to frame her face. Her confidence was startling, voice clear, proud.

She was with two men, taller than her by inches, dressed in black, and standing in front of her like body guards. She had her back turned towards Top Dog. And Top Dog didn't know why, but he moved closer to the three of them, stopping to hide himself against a building.

"Come home with us," the first one said.

"Your family—" Her laughter, cold, mirthless, cruel, interrupted the second one. It sent shivers up Top Dog's spine, raised the hair at the nape of his neck and on his arms in warning, and for a second he thought his heartbeat stopped.

"I don't have a family." Lightning flashed between two clouds. Thunder boomed soon after.

"Your brothers are calling for you," the second one tried to again. This one was getting desperate fast. He might have been new.

"Then tell them to pick up the phone."

"You know that your brothers are—" The first one began.

"—always busy?" And the first one nodded. This one was more experienced, calmer, more patient than the other one. Alina sighed.

"Your pare—" It had happened so fast that Top Dog started, but one moment the second one was standing and the next he had fallen to the sidewalk. The first one, the calm one, for the first time, looked terrified.

"My parents," she snarled, fingers tight around the second man's throat, "are nothing to me. My brothers—" Alina looked up at the first one, "—are nothing to me. And I will never go back to that hell again!" She stood, walking away from the men, walking towards Top Dog who was too stunned by the sight of her to move on time. Lightning flashed over head again, making the sight of her temporary, but true. And then Alina found him, and it was Alina who pulled Top Dog's hair, and it was he who was forced to look into her brown eyes, dark, angry eyes. And it was she who had the final say. "Talk," she whispered, "and you'll be the one asking for cookies." And when she walked away, a tear fell onto the tip of one of Top Dog's fingers.

It wasn't until he was safe in bed that the rain started…

The next day was like the previous night, dark, rainy, lighting lit the sky, and then faded away with the thunder. It had stopped raining, but the threat was still there. He wanted to believe that last night was a dream, but every time he closed his eyes, flashes of her popped up inside his head.

The most common one was dark brown orbs glassy from withholding tears. The promise of pain, the anger arising from loneliness…the need to protect someone from that kind of suffering was strong. Top Dog had spent his whole life hating outsiders. Hating what they represented, hating them because they were simply outsiders.

When Alina came, that hate didn't go away, it intensified, and he made sure she was in hell by coming here unwanted, unneeded. What drove her to stay here in a place that despised her very being…she must have known. Somehow, she must have always known…

Not once in the entire school day did Top Dog ever look Alina in the eye. Part of it was fear of what he might see when he did, part of it was because he was so deep in thought that the participation he indulged in was only half heartedly done. The crowd was none the wiser. If Top Dog didn't feel like it today, others would take in for him. Those willing to please…

So it was no wonder that Top Dog had managed to follow her involuntarily when school had ended. The sky wasn't so dark anymore by the afternoon, just a light shade of gray. The lightning dissipated, but the rain that fell upon him was strong enough for him to find a building to hide under for a little while.

All Top Dog did was turn around, looking behind the brick wall. The constant pounding of the rain on the metal shade drowned out the sound, and he wouldn't have known that she was crying there if he hadn't turned. She was drenched, squatting behind a bush. The bobbing of her shoulders gave her tears away to Top Dog. Her long black hair had loosened somewhat. Parts of her hair were plastered to her face. A hand came up to her face often enough to tell that she was trying unsuccessfully to wipe her tears away.

And then Top Dog was there, grasping her arm to help her up. All sobbing stopped abruptly, but the tears still fell from her face, like the droplets from the sky. They locked eyes, green meeting her almost black orbs. The face she made when she cried lessoned into a frown, and despite the rain, he could see the tear stains on her face at the corner of her eyes.

There was no promise of inflicting pain on her part; only the storm that raged within her…only the sorrow that controlled her heart. How much more could she take before she finally broke? And then Top Dog moved, a swift movement, similar to Alina's when she knocked one of the men down, and he was holding her, hugging her, whispering encouragement in her ear…

Flying high

Laughter. For the last two weeks Aiden had truly felt happiness, but for every high comes the price of pain. Maybe that was his problem. He had known, she had known; he chose to ignore it, she chose to cherish it. Alina had shown signs of wanting to talk about it, but he ignored it, tried to stall it out so that he wouldn't have to face the reality of her leaving.

They had found her…

Aiden was alone again. He never thought that he'd be so reclusive when she left. Of course he had friends, of course they'd look after him. But Alina and him…they had been each other's secrets. He believed that it was them, not him, against the world, and that's what kept him going. He never thought that she'd go back…to that plane…to that world. He always believed that somehow, she'd be here to share the secret...

Stop dreaming, he told himself firmly, this isn't the place for dreams.

How long had it been...?

No looking back…

It was safe to say that Alina went out of her way to avoid Top Dog when she could, safe to say that talking to him wasn't on her to-do list. And it was safe to say that Top Dog went out of his way to find and torture her, safe to say that talking—really talking with her, wasn't on his to-do list either. So when she accidentally knocked into him, she didn't mutter a hurried apology or ran along to her next class, she stood in front of him, waiting stiffly for him to create a scene and get it all over with.

Their eyes met again, but she looked away almost as instinctively as looking at him was. Top Dog didn't say a word, just adjusted his pack looking guiltily at the floor, and headed towards his next class. For the first time in Centerfold Alina wasn't picked on at school.

She was at the building he hid under when he passed by. Her ponytail was down, and the long strands of her black hair toppled over her breasts and hung near her belly button. Her big glasses were still on, and her baggy, ragged looking clothes looked elegant on her when she leaned against the brick wall, legs crossed at the ankles, and arms folded around her books. He couldn't help noticing her hair when he saw it. It was shiny and straight, but the ends of it were frayed and split at the ends.

Top Dog didn't realize that she was there at first. A nagging feeling prickled the back of his neck, like sharp nails hovering it, wriggling just above the hair, making them stand on end. When he looked back she was there, her eyes looking straight up at him expectantly, demanding. Dangerous eyes that held so much promise, he shuddered at the memory of her.

His green eyes looked at her questioningly, and she nodded. Obediently, he retraced his steps and met her at the brick building. When he stopped, she kicked herself from the wall and looked him up and down. "Next time," she pointed to the spot he found her sobbing in the rain, "don't act like you give a damn." And then she walked off. Not looking back...

He found her on the roof of the school at lunch the next day. Food had been spilled on the ground. No sobbing this time, just a stoic face that spilled tears every time she blinked, and then sometimes when it didn't. She was sitting on the floor, back leaning against the cemented wall protruding from the edge, head resting on the gate that made it harder for jumpers to fall. She had her hand on a broken wooden box that he had come to recognize as her lunch box. The box had had three layers to it. The box itself was black with pink flowers growing off of elegant looking branches. One of the layers was at her feet, splintered, shattered.

He saw her tense a little at the sound of his footsteps, but she didn't look up. He saw grip her box protectively, looking with dead eyes ahead of her. He didn't think that even if she did see him, her brain failed to register his presence.

Top Dog squatted so that he was eye level to her. She blinked. More tears spilled. He reached out for her box, and reflexively she gripped it tighter. It was as if touching what was hers made it possible for her to snap out of her daze, and their eyes met. She blinked, turning her eyes away as she reopened them.

She flinched when he reached out to touch her, as if it was instinct to slap it away before it could touch her. Life returned to her eyes, and the dull look she had was replaced by anger. "Leave me alone." It always surprised him at how strong her voice was whenever she spoke. Always surprising that she showed no doubts or regrets when her voice rang through the air.

"No." It was a simple answer, and Top Dog didn't know why he said it, why he had actively been treating her differently. Why the hatred suddenly disappeared when he looked into her eyes properly. He was always reminded of the rain with her, reminded of the mysteries that surrounded her, reminded that she allowed the bullying to continue. And suddenly questions of why entered his mind. But it didn't matter; he never asked, and she never answered.

"Get away from me."

"No."

"Get away from me."

Top Dog sighed, "I'm trying to help you here."

"I don't need it."

"But you want it."

Alina didn't answer; just allowed herself be pulled up when Top Dog reached his hand out to her.

Alina was already at the brick building, in the same leaning position that she had been in before, when Top Dog passed by. Her long hair was down again. She studied him as he passed by, and sighed when he didn't look back at her this time. Whatever…it didn't matter anyway. She uncrossed her arms, kicking herself off gently so that she could maintain her balance.

When she returned home, she was immediately cornered. The newbie, and Jason. She hadn't bothered learning the newbie's name, it served her no purpose, and it was an all out waste of time. But Jason had been since childhood. Jason Alina had believed was different from all the rest. He used to be there when she cried, used to be there when she laughed…and he was definitely there when realization struck her. Around Jason, her defenses, once so low around him, were now at its peak.

Their eyes trailed up and down her body. She knew what they were thinking, anyone would. She was wearing clothes fit for a commoner…for a beggar. She wore glasses that covered the true nature of her eyes. She made herself look unimportant, made herself into prey.

"I'm not going back." It was such an automatic thing to say to them. She didn't care. They didn't. They just wanted their objective done. They just wanted her to come back. Force was unnecessary, and too dangerous for people to notice. She came to Centerfold quietly, she would leave quietly. Alina put her books on the table and went straight to the refrigerator.

"Your parents miss you," Jason said.

Alina scoffed, found an apple, and took a large bit out of it. "They miss Amè. They can't miss two children. They don't have room for that in their schedule."

"That's not fair—" Newbie interjected a little bit angrily. He was young. He couldn't be faulted for believing that his Lord and Lady were the most perfect beings in the world.

Her eyes pierced through the younger man. "Fair? They didn't think about fair when they punished me, did they? They didn't think about fair when they pretended to listen to my side of the story, did they? Only revenge because it was Amè that died, not me."

Jason reached out for her. Maybe he felt sorry. It'd always been that way. He'd be ready to hug her if she needed it. But Alina hissed, stepping back and throwing the already half eaten apple in his face. He made a move as if to catch it before it contacted with his face, but he was too slow. Instead he caught it before it fell to the floor. "Try touching me," she yanked open the refrigerator door to look inside again. "See how far that takes you."

"Alina…"

Alina slammed the door closed with a pint of milk and a cookie in her mouth, "I am not Alina to you, traitor." Jason flinched. The newbie looked at Jason confused.

"Get out," Alina pointed to the door. "Get out!" Now she was leading them towards the exit. "Say away from me." And she slammed to door before they could turn around.

Don't let me down…

Jason had taken the job that nobody wanted. Why? Because he was young enough to believe that his Lord and Lady's pleasure was his.

"Watch her," the Lord said, "Make sure she keeps out of too much trouble." Jason had smiled then, bowed, agreed, and then bowed again. When he had entered her room, she was there, sitting at the back of her room on a wooden chest that carried her clothes. Toys weren't permitted for the princess, who was notorious for being more trouble than a girl was worth.

She was ten then, with large brown eyes that beheld innocence and a hope that maybe she could trust him. Her hair was pulled into a braid and then folded in half so that her hair ended at the center of her back. She looked a little worse for wear. Her olive skin darkened with fresh and old bruises, her nose was red, her cheeks flushed, and her eyes were swollen and puffy from crying.

That's what she gets, he thought before introducing himself, for causing everyone trouble…

Having nothing but brothers, two older, and one younger, Alina might have thought she was also a man for the longest time. The actual cause of the bruising was due to the fighting classes mandatory for the princes. Her brothers, all of them, were kind to her. With the older ones, she practiced, with the younger, the most precious son, she taught.

"No," she told Amè patiently, "You put your left foot right here—" here she grabbed his leg and positioned it, "—And you bend your knees just a little bit—That's it! Now kick me."

When Alina wasn't in class, she was outside playing in the trees or gardening. And when she wasn't there, she was in the kitchen, trading the spices in her garden for basic cooking lessons, and if she wasn't there she'd be listening to the piano. Listening to it mimic the sound of the rain. All of it, it seemed, was purposefully done so that she'd be out of everyone's way and not in it. And Jason was there, watching her, making sure that she stayed out of trouble.

Jason didn't know how it happened, maybe he grew a little careless when he realized the days turned into years, but somehow Alina had managed to worm her way into his heart. Somehow, he figured that he didn't need to be there all the time anymore. And the sure confidence he had that she was the cause of her parents' misfortunes became questions of why she was blamed. In the midst of all the passing years, Alina, not her mother, had become his Lady.

And then Amè…he had only been fourteen. All four children of the Lord and Lady had swung upon that rope, played in that river for years. And it had to be her that was there…It was her because their brothers were busy with all the Lord and the Lady's attention. Amè had always been the favorite, but the twins were going to be kings one day...Amè was the only boy they could treat as normal parents could...and it was her, the unwanted child, that was there...It should have been someone else...

First there was panic…

And then the tears…

Finally, everyone chose her to be the outlet of their anger…

Alina had been crying for hours alone in her room. Hugging herself, never letting anyone touch her. "Amè's the one that needs the help," her voice wavered. She was still there still holding herself when her parents stormed in. Her mother came first, and Alina jolted into a standing position to ask the question. But the scream of rage drowned out Alina's question, and the resounding pop from her mother hitting her in the face echoed.

"Murderer!"

Tears streamed down both her brother's faces. Alina looked to her father, whose eyes were stony and cold. Amè was dead. And then Jason was there, taking Alina to her cellar to await punishment.

"Jason," she cried, reaching out for him like the world, her world, depended on it. "Jason…" And he didn't know why he had allowed everyone to feed him lies, didn't know why he had allowed himself to believe it. Maybe it was because he had been pressured earlier. Maybe it was because they had so readily forgiven him as they too thought she was leaving the path of burdening them behind, but he snapped.

"I am not Jason to you, murderer."

Her eyes were like a wounded puppy's, large and brown and so sad that Jason didn't know what to do, so in anger he kicked the hand reaching out for him. She cried out in surprise and pain, shrinking back to the corner, where no one could reach…

Her older brothers, twins, came to visit her. She sat up straight, hands sandwiched between her thighs. She looked like she was staving off the cold, like she was trying hard not to shiver. She didn't look up at them at first, but curiosity overcame her initial fear, so slowly she raised her head to look up at twin figures.

Their eyes were puffy, as if they had been crying. Twin pairs of bright blue eyes, so completely unlike her dark ones, glared. And it was instinct to look away.

"I didn't kill him." Her voice was ragged, weak, and even to herself it sounded as if she was trying to convince herself.

"You could have saved him," her brother sounded watery. Tears filled her eyes. She couldn't tell which one, though. Her mind was too clouded to.

"There was so much blood..."

"You could have saved him..." The other brother...

"I—He...I only looked away for a second..."

"You could have saved him!" One brother moved, as if to attack her, but the gate held him back like a bodyguard. He reached out, his face contorted into an ugly mask of rage. Tears streamed down his red face. Alina looked at it fearfully, only a couple of inches away from her chest, and made to reach out to him too, but then thought better of it and tried to shrink into a corner and disappear.

Like the moon…

"So, uh…"

"Aiden." Top Dog must have said his name ten times in the last five minutes. Aiden didn't understand her. It seemed she was too busy with food for remembering his name.

"Right, right." Alina nodded, as if she already knew that. "So Alene, where—"

"Aiden!" Eleven times.

"At least I got the letter right," she replied meekly, shrinking into herself. Aiden—Top Dog— sighed, rolling his eyes. When he looked back at her, their eyes met. Green vs. brown, and her brown ones were dancing merrily back at him. She nibbled on her carrot, looking innocently at him, the light still dancing in her eyes. And then the meaning hits him. And suddenly he knows that she was just playing, pulling strings because she could.

"Where'd you get Alene from?"

"From…my…name?" Alina smiled at him, hoping to appeal to his better nature. Aiden stared at her, and when she spoke it was high pitched and fast, "Look, I'm sorry, but it's hard to be on friendly terms with you when you were so mean to me!"

How could it be that one moment Alina was so happy and the next time he saw her she was tense, secretive? How could it be that she was so humble and then commanding the next? He sensed her wanting to reach out to him, sensed her wanting to trust him, holding back because she didn't know if she should. Aiden knew everything now. Knew what she was now, knew it all. Knew about her exile and her need to get away from where she was raised. He knew it all because, she said, she didn't want Aiden to keep coming without knowing what he was getting himself into.

They were sitting next to each other, upon a thin blanket outside on a flat plane of grass. The night was warm, with a cool breeze breathing past them every so often. The moon was full, and the stars glittered above them like speckled spotlights.

It was one of their things lately, to come out at night and just...talk.

"But if your parents want to see you—" Alina glared so fiercely at him he stopped. They had been through this many times before. Any talk about her family put her into a bad mood. "Okay, okay. They can…come see you for themselves." Her glare didn't falter when she looked away, merely shifted its position.

"Why would they want to see me anyway?" Her voice was laced with bitterness and disappointment.

"But, let's just say they did," Aiden paused, sighed, and continued, "what would you do?"

"I suppose I'd go back."

"Just like that, you'd go back?" Incredulous. He shut his mouth when he saw her look at him, curious this time.

Alina nodded. "It would mean that they acknowledge me, right? That's all I've ever wanted anyway…"

Aiden sighed, sitting down next to her, playing with the blades of grass and looking up at the moon. Alina laid down, staring at the sky, at the clouds that circled the moon and covered stars. She didn't blink much... lost in her own world, and he couldn't help but think that like the moon, all the different sides of herself she lets show was as beautiful as the full round orb above them.

Aiden followed her, resting his back to the ground so that they were lined up straight where they were once back to back. He stared, but not at the sky. Alina blinked shifting only her eyes at first to catch his gaze. She turned her head only to smile at him, a small reassuring lift of her lips that it caught him off guard, but he returned the sentiment and then turned away. The soft melody that came out of her mouth was of the piano mimicking the rain.

Make it soon...

Alina didn't know which brother it was since it had been a few years since she had seen any of her family. Since it had been years since she wanted to even think about her family. Flashes of memory came unbidden at the sight of his eyes. The sight of the cellar, the sight of them wrestling, the rope and the pond, and the laughter that she hadn't heard in such a long time Alina didn't know how she remembered such a thing.

Her hair fell over her shoulders, blanketing her awkwardly. Eyes widening madly, she opened her mouth as if to speak, but nothing came out, and she stared at him mouth mimicking a fish. The door closed just as Aiden made his way up the stairs to her apartment, carrying both shopping and grocery bags from his hands to the end of his forearms.

"Hey!"

Alina fell out of her daze, snapping her head in the direction of the door and turning it around. Wordlessly she snatched the bags from his hands into hers and quickly sped into her room. Aiden entered grumbling obscenities of both relief and incredulous confusion at her back.

And all the while, her brother was there standing in the middle of the living room, staring at the two of them curiously and with a dark eyebrow raised. Aiden stared, as if trying to measure up the newcomer, but the bright bags, of yellow, pink, blue, and purple toned down the imposing nature of the stare.

It was Aiden to looked away first, not being able to take any more attention away from his arms, which were fast losing their feeling. Her door was locked when he went to her room. He used his knee to knock.

"Alina, open the--"

And then the brother was there, knocking Aiden into the door, face red with anger. "You dare speak to a princess in such a manner?" The bags fell to the floor, and then Aiden, with his hands free, aimed a punch at the older man's face. It missed. Aiden was lifted and pushed against the door again. "How dare you?"

"Like this: Alina!" The sound of a fist hitting a nose. A grunt, more shoving, and then Alina's brother lifted him up to push him against the door, but the door was unlocked and open by the time the moment of impact would have arrived and Aiden and the brother were both on the floor.

"Get off him!"

"Sister—I...He—listen—"

"Get off him!" And then Alina was over her brother, legs spread, feet adjusted to either side of the two men. She used one hand to grab him by the collar of his shirt, the other to reach between his legs. His roar of pain was the only evidence Aiden needed to know that she had squeezed...hard. And then the hand between his legs found her brother's hair.

"OFF!" And her voice was so dark with anger, so deep with bitterness, and so commanding that it even made the hairs on the back of Aiden's neck raise with warning. But the weight was lifted off, and it was Alina's brother's eyes that widened this time.

"Sister, listen—"

"No, you listen! Coming in her uninvited, unwanted, making a mess of things because you a prince. You think you can get away with anything, but this is my place, not yours, Aiden is my friend, not your servant. I hate you!" She was crying now, tears of every pent up emotion streaming down her face, and then Aiden was standing, arms wrapped around her, purposely blocking her brother's view.

Aiden swallowed, "What did you come here for?"

"Come back." The answer was so fast, so sure that it made the two freeze in their place. Cold dread made goosebumps form on his arms. His heart beat faster in his chest, erratically, and with Alina's ear against his chest, she knew it too.

"No." Her answer was so relieving that Aiden didn't realize that he hadn't allowed himself to breathe until then.

"But Jason—"

"I didn't tell one brother to come, I said both."

"But Mom and Dad...they miss you. I know it sounds crazy, but they want you back."

"The Lord and the Lady have nothing to do with me." She had never been able to call them mom and dad...never.

"But—"

"Look, man, can't you see you're hurting her? Just go away already."

The next time her brother came, he brought his twin. Gin and Jin, they were called. It turned out that Jin was the one that had come the other day. This time, with a grumbling Gin lagging behind, they waited outside the door until Alina came, alone this time, home.

Once again her brothers mentioned their parents, mentioned how emotionally wrecked they were, how much they missed her, and this time Alina didn't cry. Instead she kept her face stony and stoic, her hands were sandwiched between her thighs. She looked like she trying to fight off the cold, although it was summertime.

I hate you...

Gin reached made to touch her, a soft touch, like he and his twin used to do when she was younger. This time there were no bars to keep him away, only her reflexive flinch and the automatic swing of her hand as she slapped his own away.

I hate you...

Jin took in a deep breath. "Their dying."

Gin recovered quickly from the sting of her refusal. "They want to see you."

Alina steadied herself for the upcoming twin attack of finishing each other's sentences. "They don't want to leave with any regrets."

"They want to take back their actions."

"They've been watching you ever since you moved here."

"And they know what you've gone through."

"So do we."

"They think you've been punished enough."

"They just want to make it up to you." By this time she couldn't figure out which was talking, everything had managed to morph into one voice.

I hate you...

"I'll think about it." It was the only answer she gave the two. Not much hope for them, she couldn't promise that. Both brothers' hands reached for her, taking her hands, which had came back between her legs, out. She tensed, her hands cold in their warmth.

I hate you...

"Make it soon, okay? We're leaving at the end of the week. We'll be waiting." Then they left. No words were spoken, no words needed to be spoken.

For making me hate myself...

It never stops raining...

How long had it been? Weeks? Years? The days melded together in slow motion. There was nothing where his heart should be.

Once it was a normal sound. The sound mimicking the noise of the shower, mimicking the sound of a waterfall, the mimicking the piano playing in the background. Once it gave him dread. Once it gave him peace...

This melody should stop...

END

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