Alastair and Acelin Beau were twins.
Inseperable, identical, telepathic twins. They shared everything from talents to secrets - because they only had each other. Sure, their adoptive parents were ok, but that was about it. They were rich - almost too rich - kind, loving, and most importantly, too good to be true.
And, (as always), Alastair was right.
But no one other than he and the Florez couple knew. Not even Acelin knew, (which was a feat to be proud of), and preferably it would stay that way, because of all the things they shared as twins, dreams were not one of them.
Acelin dreamt of hitting it big in the business industry and Alastair dreamt of the small things; like, to be able to sleep through every math lesson for the rest of his school life. Like his adoptive mother, Mrs Florez, would say - Acelin had "the vision", while Alastair was "the weak link". So he guessed, in a weird way, it was only fair that he had been the one to find out what his adoptive parents were truly like - the hard way.
It had been a rainy afternoon when he recieved his first beating. Back then, Mr Florez had said that it was because Alastair had gotten his favourite persian rug dirty and tried to lie about it, so it was only right that he would be physically disciplined.
He hadn't, by the way. Ruined the rug that is.
But the truth doesn't always matter when it concerns him and the Florez couple. Not like it mattered to him and Acelin. And eventually, even the truth's told between Alastair and his twin became blurred. They turned from truths to half truths, a white lie here and there, and now, four years later, to carefully worded responses and lies. Lie after lie after lie after lie, because Alastair Beau was a liar down to his very bones.
"Ace," His adoptive mother popped her head into Acelin's room, her smile drooping at the corners ever-so slightly when she spotted Alastair sitting cross-legged on his brother's bed, "Oh, Alastair, you're home! Why didn't you come down to say hello when you arrived?"
Alastair repressed a grimace.
This conniving old hag...
"I wanted to see Acelin straight away," He shrugged, and at his twin's look of disapproval, added a quiet, "Sorry."
Mrs Florez gave him a fond look.
"It's fine, I just wasn't expecting you home so... early. Since you seem to rarely be at home these days," Her lips hardened into a thin line as everyone in the room seemed to reflect on all the times Alastair had come home long past midnight, sometimes foregoing coming home at all.
"I'll talk to him about it again Mother-" Alastair involuntarily tensed at the word on his brother's lips, "-don't worry too much, I'm sure it's just a phase - you know how teenagers are these days." Acelin ended lightly with a soft laugh, like he was telling an inside joke only he and his 'mother' knew about.
It was at times like this that Alastair felt a bit bitter. It was unfair, to feel that way about someone who didn't even know, but sometimes he cursed his twin's ignorance.
If only he knew.
"Yes, just a phase, Mrs Florez," He gave her a wry smile, forcing a mischevious glitter to his blue eyes, "I promise to fix my bad habits by the end of the year."
An awkwardly high-pitched exhale slipped from her lips as she slumped onto the door frame.
"Oh Al, how many times have I told you to call me Mother?"
He decided that silence was the best answer to that question since he would never - never - consider that woman and her husband his parents.
Mrs Florez gave him a look that could have rivalled a kicked puppy. A moment of silence passed before she piped up again, her wrinkled face pulling back into a toothy smile. She could probably sense the lecture he was about to get from his brother. He had learnt over the years that she would do anything to drive a rift between him and Acelin.
"Well, I'll leave you both alone then!"
Before Acelin could offer any sort of protest, Mrs Florez retreated back into the hallway and shut the door with a soft click. Alastair flopped backwards onto his brothers pillows, buring his face into the high-quality fluff of whatever toy had been ocupying a spot at the top of the bed.
He ignored the burning gaze he could feel baring into him, shutting his eyes and trying to relax.
Maybe he could take a nap, for once?
"Alastair." If his eyes had been open, he would have rolled them so hard he saw the back of his brain. His brother continued, a hint of anger seeping into his voice, "The Florez' have been very kind to us for the past seven years: the least you could do is call them mother and father like they deserve."
Alastair made no move to acknowledge his brother's words. The teen knew well enough that he would never call their adoptive parents familiarly.
He heard his brother's desk chair creak as he stood, then the bed sunk and weight pressed down on his body. Alastairs chest tighted - his body hating the all too familiar feeling of being constricted, unable to move, unable to defend himself.
"I just wish you could see how much they love us, Lis."
No, they love you, and only you, you idiot.
Alastair clenched his teeth, eyes watering as he bottled up the wave of anger that washed over him. His stomach started to cramp, and he sat up suddenly, startling his brother into sliding off him and onto the side of the bed.
That was his cue to leave.
Flinging his legs up and over the edge of the bed, he silently found his footing, making his way to the door as fast as he could without seeming too desperate.
"Wait-" His hand was on the door handle when cool fingers wrapped around his wrist, stilling him. He could hear the frown in Acelin's voice. "Your burning."
Before he could process the words, his brother tugged him closer, free hand slipping under his damp hair to press against his forehead.
"Holy shit Lis you're sick-" Alastair ripped his arm from his brother's grip, stumbling back from the hand on his forehead and opened the door.
He offered his brother what he hoped to be a reassuring smile.
"It's nothing a good nights rest won't cure."
And he was gone before Acelin could protest, stumbling like a drunk down the hallway to his own room. He practically fell through the door, hardly managing to lock the door behind him before he passed out.