TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains attempted suicide. If that bothers or triggers you in any way, don't read it. Go drink water or have a snack. Be happy. ILYSM.
This is a quick disclaimer. Most of these characters do not belong to me (yes, I got their permission). Micah belongs to -BeanSprout- on Toyhouse and Jan (the twins' mother) belongs to soid.0 on Instagram. Go check them out. They're lovely and amazing.
Five years old.
Micah had only been five years old when he was killed.
Nico stared blankly at the engravings on the tombstone, the two dates reflecting the tragedy of his twin brother's death. It felt so wrong, just staring. It was like he was offending someone, someone who might've been staring back. Yet he kept his eyes glued onto the cold stone. He didn't know what he would accomplish just sitting there, staring at numbers and letters. He didn't even know why he was in the graveyard at all. He just was.
He supposed some things didn't need an explanation. Like why the leaves turned orange in fall or why the sun always rose to greet the new day. Did the coming of a new season or day need a reason to happen? No, it didn't. So why did he want to know so many things?
Nico vaguely remembered the years he spent with his twin before his untimely death. They had done everything together. They played together, they fought together, they caused all kinds of trouble together. Sure, he had forced Micah to help him destroy the kitchen but they had still done it together.
As everyone knew, things changed. Things changed drastically. He just hadn't expected things to change so soon. Then again, who did?
Nico could barely remember what had happened that day. He did have a few details but trying to remember them clearly was like squinting through a thick fog. It was hard, oh so hard. It was during summer break and they had been at the beach, playing and laughing. Micah had waddled off to find shells for his ever-growing collection while he and their mother stayed behind. It had been such a normal day and suddenly, it was not.
The police had come. They had rushed crowds of people out of the beach and surrounded the perimeter in police tape, bright and yellow. The next thing he recalled was his mother's face. Her anger, resentment, and devastation could be seen for miles. He remembered his own confusion. Why had she been so upset? Was everything okay? Did the police do something to her? After that, he vaguely remembered being told that they wouldn't be seeing Micah anytime soon. The only thing that had done was confuse him more. Micah had been standing right beside him.
The funeral was only a week later. He remembered it as well as the day of the murder: just barely. He couldn't remember who was at it or what the weather was like. He could, however, remember the sound of ugly sobbing and a chorus of condolences. He had still been confused, confused and uncomfortable. He wanted nothing more than to leave, escape the suffocating sadness that surrounded the place.
If he recalled correctly, Micah hadn't liked it much either. Pale and shaky, he had spent almost all his time by his twin's side, clutching his arm like it was the only thing keeping him from slipping away. If only he'd known.
The next few years passed by in indistinguishable blurs. All Nico could remember from them was the overbearing feeling of bafflement. Every day was another question. Why didn't anyone get Micah any gifts? Why wouldn't anyone say hi to him? Why did their mother ignore any mention of his name with tight lips? Why did everyone give him pitying looks? Why did they say he was dead?
He never got any answers. He eventually came to accept that he was never going to get them, no matter how often he asked. He also came to understand that he was Micah's only connection. That was fine with him. He loved his twin brother. He'd defend him until his dying breath if it was called for. He didn't care if people didn't want to notice him or thought he was crazy for doing so. They'd grow up together, just as they had planned.
Except, they didn't.
At first, he didn't notice. Micah had always looked younger than he actually was. It didn't mean anything if Micah didn't seem to change over the years. That was until they were ten. Or he was ten. Nico wasn't really sure at this point. Micah hadn't changed in five years. His curiosity was starting to plague his mind with questions. What had really happened that day? What had they done to Micah? Was there a reason why he was the only one who seemed to be able to see him?
His investigation began. God, he had been so foolish. He had spent hour after hour combing through whatever he could find about that day on the beach. He pestered his parents. He searched the Internet. He combed through books he could barely read. Hell, he had even asked Micah. He got nothing. Not a single clue as to what happened to him. It was disheartening. He almost gave up. Almost.
One thing kept him going. One thing and one thing only. "Nothing happened." That had been Micah's reply. The look on his face when he'd said it though told a different story. It was the look of someone who'd survived a tragedy, the look of someone who didn't want to remember. It was the look of a panicked animal trying to fight its attacker, wide-eyed and fearful. He was hiding something. But what?
He found out. At the time, he really wished he hadn't. He was eleven at the time and Micah should've been too. He was five. He had always been five and it turned out that he was always going to be five. Micah had been dragged to the sea and drowned. By who, no one knew. Apparently, no one cared either. The case had been closed a year after... the murder. The police had concluded that his twin had wandered too far out and was killed by crashing waves that were much too big for him. That's what his mother had told him anyway. He didn't buy a single word.
But what did it matter if Micah had drowned or been murdered? The last six years of his life had been a lie. Every bully, every fight, every birthday, every single day of his fucking life was a lie. Micah had let him believe he was alive. Micah let him live a lie.
To say he was pissed would be an understatement. He was infuriated. He wanted to throw something out the window. He wanted to destroy the house. His brother had tried to calm him, to cheer him up. Nico didn't listen. He didn't want to listen. Instead, he lashed out, threw all the blame on him. If he had never been able to see him, everything would be alright. Years of bullying, fights, and pitying looks would be erased. Their mother would never have to worry about his sanity. He wouldn't have been labeled as insane.
Micah disappeared after that. He disappeared for two and a half years. At first, Nico was fine with that. He was bitter and angry but it couldn't last forever. A few weeks passed and it became a quiet, nagging regret. Soon enough, it became crushing guilt paired with suffocating loneliness. Micah was gone. He'd chased him away. He was alone. Alone and dead, with no one there for him.
Nico was too. He was drowning, drowning in his own isolation, self-hate, and remorse. Maybe he deserved it. He'd promised himself he would defend his brother and he'd broken that promise. Did he deserve to live? Even if he did, what was there to live for? Another day of despair? He didn't want it. He wanted these feelings gone. He gripped the knife until his knuckles turned white and-
He woke up in a hospital bed, arms bandaged. He didn't have time to figure out where he was or what was happening. He was crushed in a hug. His mother was holding him, muttering every insult she could think of into his ear. Little fucker, bitch, bastard. He didn't know how long it had gone on for but it was enough for him to know he had messed up.
In seconds, he was crying. Everyone was crying. Micah was crying. He'd come back. He hadn't changed one bit. He didn't care. His brother was back. His brother was back and he was never letting him go. Not again.
"Nico? Are you okay?"
Nico blinked, snapping out of his memory-filled daze. Standing before him was a boy. He was a boy he'd known all his life. He looked only about five-years-old with a soft round face and wide, innocent eyes which were a strange ombré of brown and blue. Freckles covered almost every inch of his skin and an oversized sunhat covered his curled black hair. He was leaning on his own gravestone, staring up at him with concern. Micah.
"I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be?" His voice cracked ever so slightly, hoarse and quiet.
Nico blinked in confusion and wiped his face with the back of his hand. It came back wet. He was right. Using his sleeve, he dried his face and smiled down at his brother. "I was just thinking."
He narrowed his eyes at him before shrugging. He skipped over to him, as cheerful as ever. How did he do it? How could he act like nothing was ever wrong, like nothing ever bothered him? Was that his eternal youth? Was it even real?
"Let's go home," Micah chirped, throwing his train of thought off a cliff.
Nico nodded and turned his back to the grave, holding out his hand to his brother. His small hand gripped his as they began to walk. It was strange, touching a ghost. It was like being next to a fireplace without any fire. It was unnatural, cold, and unwelcoming. But he didn't give a damn. This was his brother they were talking about and he wasn't going to let go.