Warnings: Not really. Violence.
Word Count: 3927.
Characters: Alan, Nigel. Cynthia, Jaden cameos.
Notes: This hasn't happened. This is somewhere down the line, and thus, may have discrepancies. Or be OOC. You've been warned. This was also technically based on a prompt from _vyndasia_ ("nice brother times with Alan and Nigel") though it went far off from where I intended. This is not happy crack. =|
Summary: Speak two secrets and tell me none; I will never hurt you as long as you will never leave. --After a harrowing escape, a job is offered, and in the process, some things are made clear.
It was possible that they were not siblings.
Despite the matching looks and mismatched memories, despite the sense of familiarity, despite the fact that everything would attest that. It was possible they were not siblings. Alan would hope this, in bits and pieces throughout the day. And he would deny their companionship to those who asked at the current moment. He stared, unamused, at the smiling idiot handcuffed against a car. The girl next to him took a second glance at Alan’s looks and then to Nigel and back. He gave her a look that bordered on threat. “No.”
The girl wisely moved a few feet away.
To tell this story a little better, we’ll have to move back a few hours.
The day started simply, as simply as the pair’s days would go. Cynthia left for work, and Alan was allowed to leave the men’s shared room. He was in the midst of pouring orange juice into a glass in the kitchen, dressed in a t-shirt and lounge pants, when the front door clicked open. Alan, while having many good and outstanding traits, did not excel in reactions. He froze, hand on the cardboard container, as his mind moved. Nigel had left right after, to meet with his employer at the park nearby, and Alan had passed, annoyed and uncomfortable in her presence since he had found out Nigel’s attractive boss was a she.
And his ever-loving brother had never cared to tell him. On the contrary, was too pleased to laugh in his face at the realization. Alan hated him. And wasn’t up to seeing Jaden.
So. That answered for Nigel. The man wouldn’t come back sooner than he had to, and would likely take his time in the process. He also hadn’t locked the door, and the person who had opened it had slid a key in first. The answer seemed too obvious, and it rang out clearly if Alan had any doubts.
“How many times have I told you to lock this damn door? I will end you, baby brother….”
…Alan wasn’t sure if she was talking to Nigel or herself. The muttering continued, lower, and he assumed the statement of hate was something she would say regardless.
Still, here it was. “Sister” had come home, and Alan was in the open. This… had no possibility of ending well. As still as something dead, his eyes darted to the edges of the kitchen, seeking an out. Give him possibility, and he’ll see it into existence, but there was little escape in this scenario. He vaguely wondered if it was possible to hide successfully under the table.
The front door cracked open again, hinges protesting the treatment. Nigel’s voice was perfectly cheery and nonchalant. “Sister, dear, did you miss me that much?”
Her voice replied from too near the kitchen doorway for Alan’s comfort, dry as a sandstorm, and about as threatening. “You left the door unlocked.”
“So I did. And here I am. I was just around the corner.”
There was a heavy silence, and Alan could picture it. A stare-off, one intent and hostile, the other unfocused and uncaring. Finally she spoke. “I forgot the stupid cupcakes. I don’t know why we all have to bring something.”
Fear, icy and stilling, swept over him. But a third voice spoke up, low and even. “I’ve always meant to ask how your promotion went.”
The door swung open, Nigel rolling his eyes. “I’ll get your desserts. You ladies,” he said, giving a mocking smile to Alan, “catch up.”
Once the door shut behind his brother, Alan sighed in quiet relief. Nigel passed him to get the container from the fridge, expression dropping to his more normal stoicism edging apathy. Alan glanced at him for hints of action, and Nigel only stared in annoyance. “We had to jog here when Jaden saw her car. You had better be grateful.”
The white-haired man didn’t speak, just maintained the gaze. Of all things, he thought, it seemed he would be seeing her after all.
Cynthia had little time for pleasantries, even if it was for the one person who supposedly kept her sibling out of most of the trouble he could get in. Jaden waved her off from the door while Nigel lounged on the couch, and when the car was out of view, the girl swung around, face slipping into neutrality. Alan, coming from the kitchen, thought the two others much alike in that moment.
He slid into the room like an animal to be punished, but less from Nigel and more from her. He could care less what his brother suffered lately, thankful enough as he was. He sat at the other end of the couch, murmuring a thanks, to which Nigel waved off. It was in neither’s benefit for Alan to be discovered. Jaden observed them for a moment, then carefully walked to the chair angled to face the couch, sitting on the edge of it. Alan wondered to himself how many others had made his mistake. The girl was too androgynous not to be mistaken a few times over.
She slid her hat from her head and placed her hands in her lap. And continued as if there had been no interruption. Intently, she asked Nigel, “Will you do it?”
The man sighed loudly, head tipping to the ceiling. “Perhaps. If I have the time.”
Jaden glanced to Alan, something familiar in the habit. Something in him loosened at the familiarity, at the revival of actions well-known. Alan sighed as well, playing the part. “We’ll do it. We have nothing better to do.”
“Speak for yourself.”
“I’m sure the backlog of your sweet sister’s diaries can wait to be read. Pervert.”
“Are you going to say that to me? Mistaking a pretty girl for a rough-and-tumble boy….”
Despite the casual bickering, Alan flushed, keeping his eyes on Nigel. Who only smiled in his direction. There was a rustle of fabric, and Jaden stood, face still neutral. “I’ll wait to hear from you, then.”
Without anything further, she walked to the door and left the house.
Alan was having a hard time thinking of her as she.
The job was as follows.
There had been several crimes in the past weeks, petty assault mainly, with little to nothing in common. However, all had given the same certain facts. A man had approached them, dark-haired and unknown, and that was the last clear memory they had. Oh, the crime was remembered, but supposedly in a haze, as if in a drunken stupor or from very far away. One of the assailants, a girl, had sobbed that she didn’t do it willingly. A few others had stated they didn’t know why they did it. All in all, a very suspicious case if viewed from a different angle. An angle in which Jaden knew of, but didn’t quite participate. She made no assumptions but gathered the evidence and facts to take to Nigel, trusting enough in his competency… if little else. If there was a cause for the acts, she would rather it be halted. There was enough wrong without another pressing others into action. Especially some of those who had done the crimes in question. Most had nothing in common, and to almost all, their actions were inconceivably out of character.
When this was related to Alan, the man, still relatively new to the occupation, ventured warily. “Possession?” This was said with one attempting to be open-minded, and still unsure of what still existed and what did not.
Nigel might have grinned, given the chance. He did not. “Possibly. Not likely. It’s probably just a group with drug usage hidden from their adoring families. There’s likely nothing there.”
This was said with distain, and Alan deadpanned in the other’s direction. Like most things once given a job, this was a pattern, show and dance, and Nigel would always protest and write off Jaden’s suspicions. Though the ma-- …girl was often right. And Nigel knew that more than Alan.
He instead brought his foot up to the opposite knee, fingers kneading an ankle. “Where do we start?”
Another sigh. “All assaults occurred downtown, but that’s still a few too many blocks to cover.” Translation: It was more than Nigel wanted to do.
Alan ignored that, nodding instead. “Then we should split up to cover ground.”
This was enough to wager a dull gaze in Alan’s direction, brows slightly lifted in surprise. “And you think you will succeed if you go off alone?” The question had meaning; Alan was relatively a civilian, and nothing close to a detective.
Still, the man leaned back, lacking hesitance in the decision. “It occurs on Thursdays, normally. Unless you want to wait another week, tonight is the soonest we can start.”
Nigel gave an incomprehensible expression, and Alan wasn’t sure if the man approved. And then grimaced internally at the residing want for his approval. Nigel shrugged and stood, stretching. “Go get your stuff. We’ll head over there.”
Alan smiled without thinking--then annoyed at the reaction, he stalked off to their room.
Nigel, silent, looked in Alan’s direction as the other went.
We can skip the lead up. The two man split the downtown area between them, and set off--Nigel with only cane in hand and a knife under his shirt, strolled casually, while Alan, a Sig Sauer P226 tucked into the back of his belt and a .45 M1911 in his coat’s inside pocket, moved a bit more carefully. Nigel was attempting to teach Alan knife combat, but the lessons weren’t sticking. For one reason or another, Alan’s attention always settled back on Nigel’s eyes instead of his hands. The man had sighed and left him with the guns for now. The Sig was a by-now familiar friend, and the other a newer trial. He was alone for the first time while carrying, and his nerves thrummed under his skin. He glanced hostilely at other passerbyers, and none glanced in his direction other than the normal stares for his coloring.
If he didn’t hate the majority of humanity so much, he would think of dyeing his hair. As things stood, he had to deal with them. They could put up with his irregularities--his coloring the least of their concerns.
There was little about the outside world that affected Alan to any detail. The things that did were not what others could be attributed to--those things were many and much, few and far, and not at all relevant here. Alan moved through the streets as if he would kill each and every one of them--as if he wanted nothing more than to be away from this scenario. This was accurate--verily so, correct to a perfect degree, and he would admit it in a moment’s breath. Still, it was something that would be done, something he had agreed to do, and it had little to do with who had asked and everything to do with the one at the opposite end of the city.
Alan was wholly dependent on Nigel, and would never ever voice it. Despite the man’s light mocking, and casual distain at points, Nigel was relatively kind, in Alan’s eyes, and that meant more than the older brother would likely say. There were extenuating circumstances, to be certain; emotions less his and more another’s, but there was a midway point, and Alan believed he had reached part of it.
Caught in his thoughts, he had given little note to the person stepping into his path. It could be reiterated--he was not a detective and lacked general quick reactions. Still, he was an idiot in that moment, and was caught off guard. If attacked, his body would have defended itself, but the person before him only stopped. Alan glanced up, comprehended, and felt something like indescribable fear.
There was little that Alan actually feared. He held that along with his other, at the least; both Alan and Albedo held a fear for something not to be spoke of, and for siblings’ demise. A few other things, more and less, and one other. Alan had a fear of something quite laughable to others, something that was seen as a joke in most circles. Hypnotism, having worked before, was seen as something fact, and after the last time he had went under, and the results that had come from that, Alan had wanted nothing to do with the practice. And feared being put under nearly more than anything else.
What Alan saw, in the moment he glanced up, were the pupils of the man’s eyes, spinning in a spiral pattern, black against white, and for one who had obsessively studied the practice at one time, this was realized as a method in an instant. The back of his mind placed facts to theories, and understood the means of the crime, if not the motive, but the majority of Alan was unable to move. Unable to look away and frozen in his own fear.
There was a movement from the side, and something shoved against Alan, sending him crashing into the building nearby. He blinked rapidly, breath catching, and looked back up, seeing the figure squaring off with another. Someone too familiar to not be noticed. Why was Nigel here?
Having been interrupted, the stranger still stayed his ground--instead of becoming worried about recognition, only grinned instead, teeth yellowed and chipped. His hair was indeed black, unkempt and matted, a mess at his shoulders. His eyes moved, and Alan shuddered, Nigel stepping in front of him. There was a pause, a beat unchecked, and Nigel’s form relaxed, coiled arms falling languidly to his sides. There was a chuckle from the man with the strange eyes. A murmur, and then a bit louder. “…-at one’s fine. Play with him, since you interrupted our playtime.”
Alan froze, unwilling to comprehend, and Nigel turned on his heel, striding to where Alan had dropped. A hand reached to his shirt and the younger easily pulled him up, feet dragging. There was something familiar in this, something incredibly unwanted, and Alan was…. The man behind them laughed roughly. “She’ll like that, she will. You’re not so normal, are ye? A bit more than human you are.” The man bounced between educated American and cockney English, and Alan was vaguely annoyed at the discrepancy.
The hand at his shirt tightened, and Alan was slammed back harder against the wall. A cry escaped him without his willingness, but in the realization, he found himself uncaring. There was no point in appearances now, was there? Speaking of wanting and he’ll give you nothing, but if you could glance within, you’d find the same thing, the same want. One of a boy that never existed, one of a weapon that shouldn’t have existed, one of an entity becoming used to himself, one of a shell of a person with little more than reactions to him, and one of Alan himself. There existed a desire that was not from Albedo, but coexisted with it. It was so obvious, really. Siblings were more wanted than anything else.
Rejection was anathema. Apathy was poison. Solitude was comfortable; loneliness existed as death. The truth of the matter was as Alan as touched on. His world had focused to a singular individual, the one currently drawing back his hand to strike him. Alan shuddered, didn’t resist. There were memories in this, eight years old, and he would have drawn into himself and stayed there--instead he felt care drain from him and he slackened in allowance. Of course Nigel could do as he wanted. Alan wouldn’t stop him if the other hated him. Wouldn’t disallow violence if it was chosen. Take away meaning and there was little left within him. He would let Nigel do as he wanted.
Nigel’s arm moved quickly--not straight, but in an arc around, to crash into the man who had crept up behind them to watch. Alan was gently dropped, and Nigel moved with the motion, swinging a foot to knock the man off his feet. The other fell, and scrambled instantly, and Nigel stepped on his hand hard enough for something to crack. There was a clack of metal against pavement, and Alan realized the man had been holding a gun. He hadn’t noticed. In everything, he hadn’t noticed.
Violence, in its most basic forms, is rudimentary and crude, and for the first time Alan could remember, Nigel defined that. The man existed as a pulp, and when he had stopped struggling, grinning, Nigel slid the knife from his belt, and with more finesse than he should have been able to, sliced off the front of the man’s eyes.
Actions changed instantly. He plucked up the pieces of eyes in one hand and wrapped one of the man’s hands around the hilt of his own knife before taking it back. Almost chipper, he strode to Alan, slipping the bloody lenses into a front pocket of the older’s jacket. Nigel beamed. “Get out of here. Go call Jaden to bail me out.”
Giving an almost affectionate shove, Nigel strode back to the motionless man on the pavement and gave him a kick for good measure. Alan watched, thoughts frozen, then noted the crowd beginning to form. Hands pressed against concrete (a hard surface, not soft; this was always calming, the cement would not give against nails) to push himself upward; he stumbled once, then straightened to move away. Despite the order, he slid into the crowd and watched as Nigel felt for his cane with a bit more effort than was necessary, watched as the cops came to Nigel sitting on the other’s body, and after a brief back-and-forth to which Nigel amicably smiled and pointed at the knife, hauled him up to handcuff him against the car.
This was where we came in. The back door of the police car shut, and suddenly furious, Alan strode away to call Jaden.
They were back in Nigel’s room, the aforementioned stretched on his bed and idly rubbing his wrists, and Alan, arms crossed over his chest, was sitting on the futon taking up a corner of the room. He glared. The other finally stopped his ministrations and rolled his eyes in Alan’s direction. “If you stare at me like that, people will start to think things of us.”
“You used me as bait.”
There wasn’t even a beat of pause. “Your reasoning?”
It wasn’t much. Just a hunch, in all honesty, but going over the cases had yielded that small, solitary people who held little affinity for humanity happened to be the majority as well. Alan, with his small build, uncomfortable stance, and glaring eyes would technically fit the mold. “Similarities with other cases. As well as the fact that you were right there.” His voice raised only slightly; sister was at the other end of the house. “Like you were waiting for it.” And the fact that hypnosis could not be used on one who couldn’t see it.
Nigel gazed at him, unfathomable. Then sighed, as if coming to a decision. “Ask me,” he finally said.
Alan’s expression tightened. A promise held to at the least. “Why were you right there?”
“I was following you.”
“So I was b--”
The tone was firm, but nothing else was given. Some anger receded, confused. “Why were you following me?”
“I was concerned about you.”
Nothing had changed, no expression or tone, and yet it was given as truth. Alan didn’t think to question it. Place logic into words. Nigel was concerned about Alan being alone. Followed him and intercepted. If logic held to course.
It lacked sense, of course. It made the job more difficult for one, and it was Nigel’s job before Alan’s. If anything, Nigel should have insisted on Alan coming with him instead. That it went against planning and logic would allow one thing. It was a whim. A want. Of all things, Alan couldn’t understand this.
He would ask the most obvious questions at times, and Nigel had become accustomed to it. He moved to speak before the other started. “I followed you. You were intercepted. He had a weapon. I wouldn’t be able to get close unless he thought that I was under his control. I tricked him by using you. And took away his eyes.” There was a smile in that last part, and Alan wondered vaguely.
“Were they contacts or actual irises?”
“Don’t know. Jaden has them. We’ll call her tomorrow.”
And so it seemed things were explained. The knife was simple. With both fingerprints on it, Nigel had claimed self-defense, what with all of the attacks going on. And Jaden had vouched for him, and he had been released.
There existed one irregularity. Alan knew it, and did not yet question. Perhaps the weapon the man had held had become a focus. But the truth was that Nigel could not have seen the weapon from where he had been. He had moved in-between them from little more than instinct.
Alan considered speaking, then. To tell the other of why he had been so affected. Nigel knew some, and it wouldn’t be a reach to make the conclusion by himself, but a part of Alan wanted to simply tell him. Release it from his chest.
“You didn’t defend yourself. Did you know I was acting?”
Nigel had asked with some reserve in his voice. Alan glanced up. “No. I didn’t.”
“Why didn’t you then?”
Words were faulty. Still he spoke. “I wouldn’t fight you.”
There was a pause. “Defending yourself isn’t fighting.”
Alan swallowed, something hard in his chest. He leaned back against the futon and turned his head to the wall. “I won’t.”
“I won’t ever fight against you. I’m not able to.” He didn’t know what he was saying. “And I don’t want to hurt you.”
Something in this rang familiar, and there was an extended pause. Alan watched the bedside clock shift its minutes. Eventually there was a sound, and Nigel attempted humor. “I don’t think you’re able to.”
“I could have been able to.” The response was immediate, and pointed. Of what had happened to that girl that he had loved, Alan had told Nigel. The dark-haired man gave a hm of understanding. Alan could only assume things had fallen into place on that account. “But I’m not,” he said, quieter. “If only myself, no. I’m not able to hurt you.” He would freeze and allow anything before raising a hand against him.
There existed another drawn out moment, and then Nigel turned over. “…Talk like that much more, people will think you have a victim complex.”
Maybe. More than likely. Raised hands only reminded him of abuse, and he could not handle the thought of it from this source. He was silent. And was surprised when Nigel spoke again. “I apologize if I hurt you.”
Alan stared at the other’s back, blinking. “…You didn’t.”
Alan kept staring. “…Thank you for coming after me.”
There was a noncommittal sound, and Nigel shifted on the bed. Alan’s eyes dropped to the book lying beside him on the futon.
“Be more careful.”
There was no movement, and Alan was unsure if it had been said. He swallowed suddenly, something thick in his chest. “…I will.”
“Good.” The younger rolled back, dull eyes focused in Alan’s direction. “Get some rest. Jaden will likely make us look into this ‘she’ he was speaking of tomorrow, if she has her way. You need to be alert.”
Alan frowned at the brief lecture. “Yeah.”
“…What’s the word for unable to tell a man from a woman?”
“Oh, right. Idiot.”
“…Go to sleep.”
No. Sometimes Alan would really attest they were not siblings.
Either way, Nigel was under his skin, and this would continue for as long as the other allowed it. Nigel was unmoving, sleeping or not, and Alan remained still on the futon, watching quietly. He was thankful.
And he would never say.