I take INNOCENCE.
Summary: Veuillez trouver me.
From my old portfolio. I have a rotting novel in the internet, somewhere, and this was a companion piece.
Blinding sunshine, verdant-tinged as it filtered through trees; it was fresh and warm and vibrant against his upturned face. Eyes drifting closed, he listened to the sparrows chirp with undue fascination, shrill and tinkling, and blinked with surprise when a wayward leaf fell upon his cheek, brushing away his tears – he had been crying? – as it skimmed down his skin.
A dream, he reminded himself; a figment of imagination driven by deprivation. He struggled for the word until he found it: mirage.
And yet the hands that clamped down his shoulder, limber and unfamiliar and real, told him otherwise. Kira's laughs were shrill and tinkling, like those birds chirping, he thought, and resisted the urge to close his eyes again and listen until the doubts faded away.
"Julian! You were supposed to hide," Kira yelled in all his boyish glory, loud and cheery, and the strangely unobtrusive hand on his shoulder slipped past his nape and rested across his shoulders. It was uncomfortable and comforting at the same time.
Julian's brows met together, delicately arched lines scrunching up into a thoughtful crease, as his large peridot eyes met Kira's gray ones. Searching, hesitant, questioning. It was… too perfect, too bright and sunny and almost... happy. He reached up to brush away the flaxen strands of his hair, awkward.
"…Did you even hear what I said? I used English, didn't I?" And then a chuckle, as the half-Chinese, half-Japanese boy mumbled something in a language he could not understand ending in "ahou."
"But why are we… We should go back to the house…" Julian argued in his broken English, lips still too accustomed to native tongue, French, and was interrupted with a smirk and a smack on the back.
"It's hide and seek, you moron! We're playing. It's what kids do."
Mockery, but the good-natured kind, made Julian somehow warm all over. In his mind, he heard Kira's mother's soft voice utter again those words when his uncle brought him home, blood-stained and shivering from trauma: Welcome home, child.
A scuffle of steps and the squelches of sneakers treading grass made the two boys turn around, and before Julian knew it, Kira was running, quick as the wind, dragging him along in his wake. He stumbled, not quite as agile as Kira, already panting, but could not find the voice to complain, not with the spring breeze so pleasant on his face and this alien peace in his heart.
"Hurry up! Phae will catch us again!" Kira whispered with urgency, excitement. "That prissy nanny won't find us. I know a place…"
Kira skidded to a stop with a triumphant laugh, and Julian bumped against his younger cousin's back, breathless. Before the older boy could even mumble an "oww", he promptly thrust into the hollow of an ancient tree. A drape of tangled vines and leaves fell over the opening, and the bright sunshine, the chirping birds, Kira's laughs… It all ceased to be.
And the surreal joy of that day fell apart, and plunged him to two weeks back: The inky darkness of a dank basement, rusted chains attached to his frail wrists, coagulated blood on the floor, and his mother's maniacal laughter...
An agonized scream pierced through the forest.
Old stuff I wrote years ago. Heh, lazy.