It's also worth noting that I'm working on a Dissidia Crossover with the Tsviets. And I turned in my application for that Independent Study. It's been decided that I'll be doing two papers, analyzing various characters from a cognitive point of view, then from a psychodynamic point of view. WOO! And, on the note of classes, I've got my classes for next year sorted out. I'll be in Literature of Mathematics, Social Psychology, Gender and Sexuality, and Statistics (more ramped up version of the subject). Along with that Independent Study.
Matchstick Sequel, so all the standard warnings from Matchstick apply, including a pinch of NSFW.
Neither of them can remember it happening, even though it happened more frequently than either of them will care to admit. They remember everything else though. They remember schools and apartments. They remember the events beforehand, and they remember the aftermath, but they don’t remember anything in between. Weiss thinks its healthier that way. Nero agrees. It’s the one subject that Nero’s morbid curiosity and Weiss’ flippant attitude can’t touch.
Nero remembers being called attractive. “Beautiful boy,” his family crooned. “So pretty.” “Look at those eyes.” Asking his parents if they’re going to keep his hair long as he grows. He’d heard it his whole life. He’d also heard it as long as Weiss has been alive. For a while, Nero was jealous because it seemed like Weiss got even more attention.
“You don’t want their attention,” Weiss said.
“Yes, I do. I want it.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do.”
“You don’t. Trust me.”
Weiss had been receiving their attentions for a long time. He was an anxious boy, always moving. Even as an adult, Nero can remember how Weiss’ fingers and hands were consistently tapping, twisting, bending. As he grew, he learned to conceal the anxiety and he either stopped feeling it altogether or simply learned how to fake things so well that Nero couldn’t tell the difference.
Nero doesn’t blame him for becoming a nervous wreck at the age of six. Nero did the same thing, the next year.
"Your first time was six with our uncle. I was four, and I think it was the babysitter."
Weiss remembers school being a breath of fresh air. He hated home. Weiss hated how his father’s eyes traveled up and down his body. He hated how his mother watched Nero. He hated the frequent visits from aunts and uncles and the way they watch him and go in his room while he’s supposed to be asleep. In the back of his mind, Weiss could feel that they wanted something and he felt like a rabbit undoubtedly does when faced with a pack of wolves.
School helped. It let him occupy his mind. First, the distractions were small and came in the form of homework. Draw a star, connect the dots, add four and two, read a book and write a page about it. They didn’t last long, but Weiss found the other main distraction that school had to offer him: Friends. He had discovered how to make friends, talk to other children. Weiss never got close. Closeness meant questions and his father hated questions. Instead, he’d get a new group together every year, keep them for the year, and gradually draw away as summer came.
He did it until middle school, when people started picking up on it. By then, Weiss had a large group of acquaintances, some closer than others, but no one he would actually call a friend. Except for Nero, who was a constant in Weiss’ life and the only thing he actually held dear to him.
Nero remembers how he had no privacy. He shared a room with Weiss, but that was scarcely an imposition. Nero loved Weiss, loved how Weiss could make him laugh, think, and hope. He liked being close to Weiss and his favorite apartments (they changed apartments with the year) were the ones where Nero could share a bed with Weiss and feel his brother’s presence nearby.
Outside of his bedroom, Nero still had no privacy and one incident stands out very clearly for him.
He was showering sometime when he was fourteen. It was nighttime, and Nero was just rinsing the conditioner out of his overly long hair (they wouldn’t let him cut it). The hot water was pleasant and this was one of the few times that the hot water was actually on. Nero turned off the shower and stepped out to get a towel. His father was sitting on the counter, leering.
Nero doesn’t remember what happened in the bathroom after that, other than the fact that it hurt and that there was a mouse in a hole next to where his face had been pushed down. More rat than mouse, it never poked its nose out of the hole during the entire incident.
"That was particularly cruel. What happened?"
"It was in the shower while I was in there."
Weiss remembers the first time he found out that burning things made him feel better. He had been fifteen, a freshman, still feeling out the high school scene and seeing where he could slip in and out of circles while still being distracted. Sports teams were looking like they would fit the bill. He had done intramural things and enjoyed them. Weiss had also only just picked up on exactly what his father was doing with him and Nero and his blood boiled, but he had been assured that everywhere else was worse. Half the people who used him and his brother were respected members of the community. Firefighters, pastors, teachers from a few towns over. And foster care was allegedly the worst of the worst, though Weiss wouldn’t know. He only had his father’s word.
On the night of the football team’s first game, someone had arranged a very illegal party in the woods. There had been beer from someone’s brother (Weiss tried a sip and hated it), girls who mistook it for a college party (he had spent a few minutes eyeing a girl, then decided it wasn’t worth the effort), and all sorts of little games and running around in the woods. Someone had decided to up the ante and build a bonfire.
Weiss spent most of the night by the fire. He threw sticks in and watched them get consumed. He got dried leaves and tossed those on as well. It might have looked like he was just keeping it going, but it was too frequent. He won brownie points with the rest of the team by volunteering to stay and make sure the fire went out. Instead, he kept it alive until well past seven in the morning. When Weiss actually got home, he was exhausted. He fell asleep satisfied.
He showed Nero where it had happened the instant he woke up. Weiss had to build the fire up with a stolen lighter, but Nero eventually found the beauty in it. They stayed in the woods all of Sunday afternoon, tossing sticks in. They only stopped when police officers showed up, looking angry. They were able to get off with a warning because they were only a couple of kids and, according to Weiss, they had just found the fire and it must have been someone else’s.
Nero remembers when he set his first fire. It was an aftermath sort of thing. His father had left and Nero was just catching his breath. The suffocating darkness was only just starting to recede back into his mind. He felt detached, but still painfully aware of everything throbbing.
His fingers twitched with the need to hurt.
"A moth," the dark-haired one answered. "And a few sheets of paper."
Weiss remembers coming home to Nero covered with blood and gasoline, sitting in the living room. He remembers lighting up a cigarette. He also remembers what he said. “Well, damn… Where’d you put him?”
“Laundry room, downstairs. I… W-Weiss, I…”
“No, it’s… It was going to happen.”
“But not this soon. And I didn’t—”
Weiss sighed. “No, Nero. Go look outside.”
Nero got up and skittered over to the door. There were two gasoline cans sitting on the stairs, nozzles pointed forward. “Oh…”
“Yeah. I wasn’t going to tell you. I thought that it would be safer if you didn’t know.”
Nero shakes his head. Weiss’ attempts at protecting him had always been everything from effective to sorely misguided. This was the latter. “Weiss, I… I have no doubt that I’ll be found.”
“We will be found. I’m not letting you do this alone.”
Weiss picked up one of the cans and, being careful to miss Nero, sprayed the room with gasoline. “If you want to save anything, save it now.”
Nero left the room.
They never told a soul.