Runaway With Me, Alice

Into My Imagination

Everything inside me went up in a mushroom cloud when I locked eyes with my new baby brother. The love and protectiveness I had over my mother evaporated. My companionship for my friends vanished. My hatred of my father disappeared. All of it forgotten in that one second. None of it mattered anymore. Everything that made me who I was, my talents, my fears, my feelings; all of it, gone.

I had a new purpose now. I had no idea how it worked, no clue what it meant, I just understood it. I understood that he was my everything. I lived for him now.

The gravity of the Earth no longer held me to the floor on which I stood. It was the baby boy in my mother's arms that held me here now.



Tom aged 20; Bill aged 18 months

"Tombi, Tombi, Tombi!" Little Bill called as he woke up. Tom hauled himself out of bed when he heard his brother's cries for him. Panicking slightly, Tom crossed the hall in one swift leap and found his tiny baby brother sitting up in bed. Tom glanced at the alarm clock visible from his bedroom. It read 4:19, but of course, Tom didn't mind the early hour. He'd face any time of day or night for Bill.

"What is it, Billa-baby?" Tom nuzzled his nose to that of the small blonde boy now in his arms.

"Wips hurt," he said jutting out his lower lip. Tom could see how red his lips were, and noticed a trickle of blood where they had cracked. He winced inwardly.

"Don't worry Billa, we'll get your lips fixed." Tom smiled at his brother, who made to smile back but instantly put his lips back in place at the sting. He whimpered and a tear welled up in his eye. Tom kissed his temple as they entered the bathroom. The elder sidled up to the sink and opened the medicine cabinet. He then sat Bill on the counter, gently supporting the top part of his back.

With one hand, Tom grabbed a cotton swab and the BURT'S BEES WAX from a box of various ointments. Bill made a face, but when he smelled the peppermint, he didn't pull away. Tom dabbed lightly at Bill's lips until they were coated evenly.

"Now do this," Tom instructed, mashing his lips together back and forth. Bill copied him.

"Ooh too! Ooh too!" Bill cried and grasped the swab from Tom's fingers. Bill then poked at Tom's mouth until he was satisfied.

The baby boy smiled and giggled; lifting his arms to his brother, Bill made kissy lips.

Tom breathed a laugh and made an exaggerated noise when he kissed it all better.

Tom aged 20; Bill aged 9

"Have you ever thought about dating, Tom?" Simone suddenly asked from her seat at the table. Tom was standing next to the stove, boiling water for lunch, and his head whipped around so fast it popped.

"What?" Tom asked and made a face.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you, but maybe getting a girlfriend would do you some good." Simone lifted her steaming mug to her lips, staring at her son over the rim.

"Not really, I mean, I haven't thought about it. I just-"

"I bet he'd understand," Simone gave him a sympathetic look. "He wouldn't be angry if you dated while he was still a kid." Simone looked over her shoulder when she heard Kasimir plunk on the piano.

"It'd be useless to try." Tom sat down next to his mother, smiling at her sincerely. "I don't see anyone but him. Other guys, I don't think about, and I never see girls."

"I'm just saying. I'm positive he would understand."

"Oh, I know. I know he would. I just have no desire to even look at anyone else."

Simone smiled, grateful that their talk hadn't ended in a fight, and moved to the stove to control the boiling water.

Each lost in their own thoughts, Simone and Tom didn't notice the six heavy stamping footsteps, but they both jumped when a door was slammed upstairs.

Tom, on impulse, jerked in his seat to pounce on anything that could have caused his brother to slam his door.

He made to lunge for the steps, to get to the only person that could have overheard; to get to Bill. Tom then realized that he'd probably overheard them.

He cussed under his breath. "You might have to take this one, Ma." Tom winced, he hardly ever let Simone deal with Bill. Tom always insisted that he didn't mind in the least. Unfortunately for him, sometimes Bill needed his mom.

Making her way upstairs, Simone knocked softly on her young son's door. Bill's faint sniffing stopped and he tried to keep his voice from breaking. To no avail, Bill sobbed an angry "What?"

"Can I come in, honey?" Simone asked quietly. Bill no longer tried to hold in his tears.

Between gasping breaths, Bill managed a broken "Mm-hm."

Simone smiled sadly at her tear-stained son who pelted toward her and hid his face in her bosom. She rubbed his back in an attempt to soothe him. He continued to cry.

"What's wrong, Billa?" Simone asked but immediately regretted her use of his nickname for Bill let out a muffled, anguished cry. "Come now, Bill. What's the matter?" Bill lifted his head.

"Tombi doesn't l-love me anymore, Mama. I heard what h-he said."

"Bill!" Tom called from the hallway. Simone guessed that he had come running (how very Tom-like of him) when Bill wailed his dispair. Tom tried not to be rude about pushing his mother out of the way, but she understood, even if it made her feel put out. The last thing she saw before she closed the door was Tom cupping Bill's tiny face in his huge hands.

"Don't you ever think that I don't love you. You are my whole world, do you hear me?" Tom dropped his hands to Bill's back and rubbed in circles. Tom then pulled up a chair and Bill climbed on his lap, facing him. The crying boy put his face on Tom's shoulder and his tears slowed. Tom alternated between petting his hair and squeezing him with hugs.

"You are my life, Bill. What on Earth could make you think that I don't love you?"

"Y-you said to Mama, you said that you don't even want to see anyone else." Bill's red-streaked face was in front of Tom's again. The elder wiped a stray tear away as Bill stopped crying altogether.

"That wasn't even about you," Tom lied. "You will always come first, okay?"

Bill didn't understand who Tom could have such strong love for, but nodded anyway and wrapped his thin arms around Tom's warm neck. Tom caught him with his eyes closed and pecked him on the nose with his lips. Bill giggled and stuck his tongue out at Tom. The elder smiled, showing all his teeth, and made sure his brother's tears weren't coming back by showering him in Eskimo kisses.

Tom aged 20; Bill aged 17

"Ugh! I hate you! If you ever show up here again, I will break your jaw," Bill screamed as his now ex-boyfriend was pushed out the door.

"Can I do it?" Tom mumbled to himself as he "watched TV" A.K.A., "listened to Bill break up with his boyfriend and tried not to tackle the poor kid, himself." Although Bill had already punched and slapped and threw things at the boy more than enough, Tom was itching in his seat to lend his brother a helping hand. Or, rather, a helping fist.

Tom was snapped out of his reverie when Bill came into the room, two fat water blobs racing to get to Bill's chin. Tom opened his arms for his little brother, who crawled into them. A perfect fit.

"Why is life so unfair? Why does he love someone else?" Bill took a shuddering breath. "He said he still loved me, just in a different way. He may as well not love me at all," Bill babbled, sniffling.

Funny. Tom had asked, "Why is life so unfair?" when Bill came to him at age thirteen crying with joy because the boy he liked kissed him back. He had asked, "Why does he love someone else?" when Bill stumbled through the front door at age 15 with that stupid boy's hands all over him. He had said to himself, "He loves me, just in a different way," when Bill's boyfriend had cheated on him the first time. And when Tom had woken up four months ago in the middle of the night, to hear Bill being pleasured by the boy, he'd broken down and said to himself, "He may as well not love me at all."

Bill then let off a loud, broken mantra of various "Why?" questions. None of which Tom had answers for. He did what he could. He sat and held Bill, rubbing his back and stroking his hair.

At the end of Bill's questions, he pulled back and looked to Tom, seemingly for answers.

Tom simply said, "I don't know Billa," and out of instinct, placed a tiny kiss on Bill's lips.

Bill pulled back and blinked in surprise. Tom automatically looked ashamed. "I-I'm sorry B-"

But he couldn't finish his sentence, Bill had cut him off in a warm kiss that left both boys stunned.

Tom, because he thought this day would never come, and Bill because he thought Tom would hate him for feeling the way he did.

But wait, Bill thought, he always said he loved me, no matter what. I always come first.

Bill then got flashes of a memory that had never in his life made sense to him.

"Mom, I don't know if I'll be able to do this." A six year old Bill heard his brother say. The young boy had been shooed from his brother's bedroom by their mother almost an hour ago. He'd slinked out of his room and was currently crouching under a table next to Tom's door.

Bill could just see the two faces of his family. Most of what was being said was slightly muffled through the door that wasn't completely closed, but Bill heard alright.

"Tom, I know it seems overwhelming right now, but it's kind of involuntary." Simone, who had been standing with her hands on her hips relaxed and sat next to her son on his bed.

this is why I haven't grown older since he was born?"

Simone looked sympathetic, but nodded. "From what I remember, yes. Your great-grandfather went through the same thing. He used to tell me stories," Simone smiled, remembering her grandpa gush about meeting his wife. "He never call her his 'wife,' he always called her his 'world.'"

It made perfect sense, now.

I'm his life, his world. He truly meant all that he'd said?

As if reading his mind, which Bill could sometimes swore Tom could, his brother spoke.

"You are my whole world, Billa. My whole reason to exist. I don't want you to hurt anymore."

"Don't worry Tombi," Bill giggled, his tears gone. "I'll never get hurt again."

"How do you know?" Tom, of course, would make sure of that, but the question was more of a reflex than anything.

"My whole life, my whole world could never hurt me."

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