Xhak - Patreon - Master
Jessica - Patreon - Initiate
Tessasgoat - Patreon - Apprentice
Selene S. - Patreon - Initiate
Ko-Fi Club - Xhak, Mieren, Jesteronimo, Crazy Cookie Lady, Kelly, Rhaelyant, Tom, Hstevens5, Notos, Cecil Azul, AriZo, Becca, Caitlyn
They stayed like that for a long time, Yuen refusing to let go and never stopping the gentle rocking motion, though it had slowed quite a bit, no longer holding a frantic undercurrent. It reminded him of how his mother would make him feel better after he got hurt as a kid. This definitely qualifies as hurt.
Iahn stopped struggling a long time ago, and it would have been alarming if he didn’t still have a grip on Yuen’s forearm; though weak and loose, it was there, and that’s what mattered.
Yuen was flying blind with this whole experience. He had no idea what he was supposed to do.
Everything that had worked up to this point came down to luck and instinct, and while useful, that wasn’t going to get him through this on its own. Not completely.
What was it Allen told him when they talked about depression and suicide last year? That you’re supposed to talk about ordinary things? Everyday stuff that takes their mind off of the problems — does something like reset their brain from flooding itself with the Sad Juice™?
Crap, he doesn’t remember if that actually works or if it was just some research project Allen was following.
At least he has experience with what doesn’t work to stop The Big Sad™.
Yuen perked up. Maybe that’s it. He should just do what works for him — what his friends do for him.
“You know that show we were watching has another season.”
Yuen could feel Iahn’s confusion as he stopped sniffling and he felt awkward but continued, “It came out last week. I’ve been recording it so we can watch it. We can order pizza again, and make Casey’s caramel apples.” He knows Iahn likes those just as much as he does.
“Don’t tell them I told you, it was supposed to be a surprise, but Parker and Shi got some blank canvases from the art teacher after they helped clean up, they wanted to ask if you’d paint them something.”
“I’ve seen the walls inside, you know, you can paint your room at home. Like you did with the art room here.”
Yuen sniffled, becoming aware of how cold it’s getting with the sun almost down.
“The house… your grandpa left it to you. Dad’s managing it right now, but when you’re 18 it’s yours. I’ll bring you up here as often as I can. We can come up, stay for a weekend and you can see your friends too.”
Iahn’s hand tightened around his arm and Yuen felt the tears hit his sleeve.
They spent the night in the house, in Iahn’s old room. Yuen was still shaking, terrified that if he let Iahn out of his sight for one second that the knife would somehow appear back in his hand and he’d be too late to stop him. Yuen was barely able to let him out of his grip, much less his sight.
Even if he did, Iahn had nowhere left to run. He didn’t want to either. This is home. Right here, in his room in grandpa's house, with the older brother he never asked for, but got all the same.
Iahn has always felt out of place. Wherever he went, wherever he was. He spent his life understanding that nobody but grandpa wanted him around.
His mother made it obvious what her opinion of him was. He was always an unwanted accessory that was sometimes useful.
Mr. Min didn’t know him well enough to have an opinion, but he sure as Hell isn’t someone Iahn imagined would care about what happened to him.
There were only a handful of people on the planet who cared about what happened to him and they were all his age, but what could he do? He’s here, existing. He can't not be here. At least... that’s what he used to think.
Before, he was young enough not to know about… the other options, and if he did know, they didn’t seem like real ones.
He never understood how someone could be so sad they didn't want to be here anymore. Now he knows it's not sadness that drives you to that edge, it's pain. Being in so much pain, you just want it to stop, and you don't care how or what happens after. You don’t care about the consequences — that’s the part you actually look forward to. You don't want to suffer through the pain and part of you doesn’t even want the pain to end, because if it ends that means you have to face what comes next, which is feeling nothing and being lost, not knowing what to do or where to turn.
For him, the thought of that was almost worse. The pain would stop, but there would be no relief in it.
At least, that’s how he felt right up until Yuen appeared in the treehouse, and pulled that “option” right out of his hand.
The older boy leaned over, attentively, as the boy sniffled.
“What did you mean before? When you said,” Iahn hesitated. “That you’ve...been there?”
“I’ve been suicidal before.” Yuen let out a long-suffering sigh. “I...got just as close.”
He left out the part where nobody was there to stop him the first time it had gotten into his head. He had to stop himself. It took hours to talk himself out of it.
“Who stopped you?” Iahn sniffled again.
Yuen shook his head and started chuckling, putting a hand over his eyes. “An idiot.”
Iahn was rightfully bewildered.
Yuen licked his lips, “When I was staring at the bottle, these three dumbasses I know decided to send me a picture of a cat and said it was me. Then they wouldn’t shut up about it for two hours, so I grabbed my keys instead, and went to kick their asses.”
A choked little laugh came from Iahn’s throat as he wiped his tears on his sleeve, “That stopped you?”
“No. What stopped me was being held hostage for two days by three more, and subjected to movie marathons every weekend for four months. Then I told my dad I wanted to see a doctor. I got the antidepressants I wanted, and a therapist that grew on me.”
Iahn shifted like he wanted to ask another question but hesitated again, not knowing if he should.
Yuen gave him a little push. “Go ahead. Ask.”
“Um… what made you want to… —why did you…?”
A sour smile spread across Yuen’s lips as he stared at the starry painted ceiling.
“Cause life is hard, and sometimes it doesn’t seem worth the effort.”
Iahn’s throat tightened.
Yuen smiled and patted him on the head, ruffling his hair. “Don’t worry. It gets easier. You’ve got me now, and your friends, and I’ll bet your grandpa is bragging to his brother and your dad all about you and your art.” Yuen felt his throat closing again, “So you have to stick around long enough to make more things to show them and have more stories than they do to tell them, ok?”
A few tears slipped out of Iahn’s eyes and he nodded, Yuen tugged him closer and hugged him again. This time, Iahn hugged back just as tightly and buried his face in Yuen’s black cotton jacket that he’s almost never without, ignoring how his hand was shaking.
“You too. You have to be there too and help me tell grandpa. I’m gonna be taller than you someday, you have to see it.”
Yuen laughed, warm against Iahn’s cheek and the sound vibrating and deep against his squashed ear, the telltale thump of his heartbeat in the background as Yuen ruffled his hair again.
“Ok. Deal, pipsqueak.”
“I’m glad we became brothers.”
Yuen smiled before new tears squeezed out of his eyes, and he had to move his hand over them again even though Iahn couldn’t see his face. “Me too. Now go to sleep, dad is gonna kill me when we get home.”
Iahn’s laugh warmed his chest but he had no intention of letting go any time soon.
Exhaustion finally made Iahn drift off but Yuen was awake for a while longer, taking out his phone once Iahn was asleep and texted his dad, whom he had 3 missed calls from — a new record — that he found Iahn, and they’ll be back in the morning.
He had far more missed calls from his friends and he answered their frantic messages more carefully. That he found Iahn just in time, he was ok — they both are, and he’ll tell them the rest later.
His hand hurt like a bitch but he waited until Iahn was deep enough asleep to loosen his grip on Yuen before he untangled himself and pulled the blankets up around him. Iahn shifted, but Yuen was able to go find the first aid kit and bandage his hand as best he could.
Casey is gonna have a fit, but at least he still has all of his toes, Haha, and there's not a scratch on his little brother. That's what mattered most.
Yuen looked at a photo of Iahn and his grandfather on the wall and a soft smile drew over his lips, fondness sinking deeply in his eyes looking at his baby brother’s smile.
He wants to see Iahn smile like that someday.
“You don't have to worry, Gill. I'll take care of him.” Yuen went back to Iahn’s room but paused in front of the art room to peek in, — it was hard to believe Iahn painted all of these — before laying down next to his little brother and soothed his own mind by having him nearby; rubbing smooth gentle patterns on his back, just to reassure himself that he’s still here, warm and breathing.
~ The End ~