Prompt: #39 – Older
Warnings: Language, some angsty-ness, and some fluff at the end.
Characters/Pairings: Tom/Bill… not exactly twincesty, unless you want to tilt your head and squint… Then you might be able to see it. XD;
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.
Summary: He never wishes he had been born as an individual as opposed to half of something more—something greater and something far more wonderful than singular existence.
Comments: Happy Birthday to the twins! ^_^ Not birthday fic, but I figured it really focuses on the dynamic between them and that it should be posted today. Enjoy! Written for 100_prompts.
From the very beginning, Tom’s always felt protective of Bill. He figured early on that it must be part of the whole ‘big brother’ thing—this innate desire to guide and to even annoy at times, because big brothers are supposed to do that too, for the greater good. He’s always watched out for Bill; he’s always had his back; he’s always stuck up for him when no-one else would, and he’s never questioned his responsibility as a big brother, despite the fact that Bill has – on quite a few occasions – made him want to throw his hands in the air and get the hell away from him for a little while. Sometimes the diva act is more than just an act, and sometimes Bill is overbearing and irresponsible and he leaves messes (both physical and emotional) for Tom to clean up, while Tom doesn’t really want to bother with it.
But he does, and he stays, and he never questions the responsibility he’s been given: he’s a big brother, and he can’t go anywhere. He wouldn’t, anyway, ever, no matter how much Bill’s whining and nagging and silly antics get on his nerves (they’re all part of who Bill is, after all, and Tom loves all of his twin, and loves him all of the time, even when the vocalist is being ridiculous and difficult to deal with—more like a five-year-old than a now-twenty-year-old).
He never shuns his responsibility, though, no matter how angry he gets with Bill. He never wishes he had been born as an individual as opposed to half of something more—something greater and something far more wonderful than singular existence. He never curses what he was given; he never tries to convince himself that he would be better off on his own (because he knows he wouldn’t), and he never slips up and tells Bill the words that he knows would tear the two of them apart—never says that Bill is his responsibility. He doesn’t use words like that, words like responsibility and obligation and duty. Only twin and brother and soulmate, because he knows how Bill can twist words and make them mean something entirely different than what they’re supposed to mean, and even though he does it without even realizing it sometimes, unpleasant consequences still occur.
So Tom doesn’t breathe a word about wanting space, or wanting to stop being a big brother for a little while, because he knows what it would do to Bill. He knows what it would do to both of them.
He doesn’t, that is, until one particular evening when they’re alone in their apartment and both of them are trying to deal with too much stress and too little sleep, and both of them snap.
There are so many reasons why having a twin is a good thing, but there are occasional downsides as well: one of those being that when one person knows another so intimately – knows them to the very core of their being – it’s incredibly easy to say or do things that can cause a great deal of damage.
Both of them know exactly which buttons to press and how to go about pressing them.
“Looking out for you can be such a chore sometimes,” Tom tells him, anger coursing through his veins, making him bold and stupid.
He regrets it the moment he says it, though—regrets it because Bill’s dark eyes go wide in surprise and then narrow in identical anger, and then a profound sadness sweeps over him and Tom feels it—feels it like a thousand tiny papercuts, and it hurts, and he wants to say that he’s sorry and he didn’t mean the cruel words, but his vocal cords won’t work.
“Well,” Bill begins, and there’s a whole lot of anger in that word, “forgive me for being a fucking obligation to you, then.” His voice breaks in the middle and he turns on his heel and leaves the living room, and then leaves the apartment altogether. Tom wants to ask him to wait and wants to ask him to turn around and let him explain, but the door slams before he can speak, and his shoulders slump, all traces of anger gone and replaced with an ache so deep that he can’t even begin to fathom it even though the pain is his and was caused by his own stupidity and carelessness.
After thirty minutes of pacing around the living room and trying to decide what to do (he calls Bill during this time, but his twin – unsurprisingly – does not answer), Tom comes to the conclusion that the only thing he can do is find Bill and apologize—set things right, because he doesn’t like this feeling of things not being okay between them. Things have always been okay between them, no matter how bad their arguments have gotten in the past.
He (unsurprisingly) finds his twin at a nearby club. It isn’t difficult to spot him out, because he’s trying his damndest to look inconspicuous, head low (he’s taken one of Tom’s jackets—one with a hood). His gaze is focused on the drink in his hands, and as Tom approaches, he can tell that it’s a very strong drink.
“Hey,” he says softly, uncertainly, knowing that a single gentle word is not going to be enough to put broken pieces back together, but it’s a start. His touch is gentle too as he curls his fingers around Bill’s forearm. “I’m sorry, okay? Come back home.”
Bill jerks away from him and glares daggers as he replies, “Don’t want to,” before downing his drink in one go. He makes a face like it burns, eyes closing, and when he opens them again, Tom is once more faced with that overwhelming sadness. “You want to be away from your obligation for a little while, right? Or did I misunderstand you?”
The sadness and the disappointment in those eyes and in those words are like lemon juice and salt in the thousands of figurative papercuts that litter his body. Bill’s pain is his own, and always has been.
“I didn’t mean it,” Tom answers ashamedly, not quite able to meet his brother’s gaze. “I would never say something like that and mean it, Bill. You’re not a responsibility to me; you’re not an obligation either.”
“What am I, then?” Bill demands, and his tone is still scathing, not that Tom deserves anything less.
There are many answers to that question. Brother. Best friend. Twin. Soulmate. Partner in Crime. Everything. There is one, however, that is even truer than all of the other answers that Tom can think of, and so Tom goes with that one: “You’re the other half of my soul, and I mean it, Bill. I was being stupid earlier. I was just angry is all. I said things I didn’t mean.”
And if he has to tell Bill that every single day until he believes him, then so be it. This is the truth, after all.
Bill eyes him silently for a moment before setting his glass back down and standing, brushing past Tom. Tom is frozen for a moment, terrified that Bill is only just walking away from him again, and Tom’s not sure he can handle that twice in one day.
“Where are you going?” he asks weakly, honestly afraid of the answer. Such phrases as, Anywhere but near you and Somewhere you aren’t come to mind, and the wounds deepen themselves, and he feels sick and dizzy. What has he done?
But then, the most surprising, confusing, and wonderful thing happens: Bill turns to look at him, and he’s smiling. It’s real and it’s beautiful and it’s all his twin, and the sadness and disappointment and anger have melted away, like they were never there in the first place. It’s baffling, how Bill can forgive him so easily, but they’ve always done things differently, the pair of them.
“I’m going home,” Bill replies, and that smile is in his voice, too. There is a sense of relief there as well, and Tom is pretty sure that both of them are feeling that right now: relief. Completeness.
Bill holds out a hand, silly, beautiful smile still plastered on his face. “Aren’t you coming with me?”
Tom couldn’t say no if he wanted to—not that he would ever want to. So, he returns his twin’s smile and nods. “Let’s go home.”
He takes the offered hand, squeezing it gently, and it’s another apology and a wordless thank you all in one.
No, this isn’t a responsibility.
This is a gift, and he cherishes it with every fiber of his being, even on the days (like this) when Bill makes him want to tear his hair out.
This is a gift, and he will cherish it, always.
Well, I couldn’t end it all angsty—especially not on their birthday! XD