INTERLUDE: Is this real? [Across Two Divides] A2D

INTERLUDE: Is this real?
World: A2D
Characters: Nicholas Underwood, David Jacobson, Christian DeLongeria
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: introspection piece, untrustworthy narrator
A/N: NaNoWriMo 2012 project. In progress.

Summary: A snapshot of a moment in time. Just a passing bit of sadness; a whiff of depression on the air.

There were so many things he wanted to say to David, but the words always caught and held in his throat. It left an empty feeling inside that always had him turn away; the words clawing for freedom were desperate things he swallowed back down.

It was like his brain got caught up in a moment or something. The cold courtesies that had been imprinted upon him made it impossible for him to be honest in any real way. “I love you,” became “I’ve had a wonderful time today.” “Your eyes shine like stars and I want to stare at you forever,” and other gushing sentiments became “That shirt doesn’t go with those pants. I’ll be embarrassed to be seen with you.”

David never made any mention of it, but he must be so sad and upset with him. It wasn’t like Nicholas didn’t want to be romantic and charming and everything that David deserved, it just didn’t seem to happen for him. There was no switch going off in his head that would make him act like a human being.

The world was so dim around him, but he tried so hard. All day every day, he tried his best to be what David needed and deserved, but his best saw him as a distant, seemingly disinterested voyeur to the life around him. He was just so empty inside.

He knew he had low self-esteem–it was one of those things he carried around with him–and sometimes he couldn’t resist wallowing for a while. Never too long, because he didn’t want to be lost forever; just enough to release the tension he felt building up in him.

Nicholas didn’t examine himsef too closely in his everyday life. He avoided mirrors as best he could, glancing at himself two times at most in a day. He kept himself fastidiously clean so he didn’t have to change or shower more than once a day; he liked being fully covered because he thought he looked much better with only his head and arms showing.

Body dysmorphic disorder. BDD.

He’d been privately assessed by someone Christian knew. A good doctor that was willing to come in and keep private files that not even Christian was allowed to see, not that Christian would, he’d promised. So Nicholas got to pretend that he was perfectly sane in public, and Christian knew that he was getting some form of help, which he definitely wouldn’t get otherwise.

His image was all he had. He didn’t want to see disappointment on his parents’ faces. He didn’t want to know that people were laughing at him behind his back. He didn’t want Francis to know how completely screwed up he was because Francis would take it personally. Francis was so touchy about everything that he would drive himself seriously crazy with guil and Nicholas didn’t want to have to deal with the drama.

So he saw a head guy on the side and got to pretend to his family that he was perfectly all right and fine. He didn’t need to be taken care of and they could take all their guilt and choke on it.

Emily was dead and was always going to be dead and Nicholas had long since accepted the fact that they saw him as some kind of “miracle child” for not dying too. They clung to him with weeping tears and he wanted to smack them all away because they’d ignored him for nearly all of his formative years, only stepping in here and there. They were his parents and he loved them, but he very rarely wanted to spend any length of time with them and felt awkward with their hugs and weepy-eyed looks. It was weird and uncomfortable and he wanted things to go back to the way they were before when his parents were distant figures and he was able to live his own life and didn’t have to worry all the time that they were judging him badly.

Life after Emily was a dark and terrible thing. The innocence was peeled away and he still felt raw and sore for all the other lessons he’d been forced to learn. Then to have his parents lingering over him at all times, prodding at him, it was more than he could bear.

Christian had never left him and Nicholas appreciated that. And when Nicholas had gone to him and begged him to be sent somewhere far away from home, Christian hadn’t hesitated an instant to move his personal residence to the city of New Iblis. Nicholas had to go with him for his job, and he’d never been so grateful to Christian before.

Having his parents off his back had given him the room he needed to breathe and he didn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder all the time. But he still couldn’t let himself relax fully because the Underwood family was well known and he didn’t want his parents to hear anything negative about him from gossipers. So he always made sure to be seen as neat and tidy and he had to hold himself stiffly correct in any situation.

It had become more than habit and routine; it had become the person he was down deep. He donned polite niceties as an armor around himself and he only let his guard down around the few people he truly cared for. It was the way he was made, even his therapists had agreed with that. Something had been allowed to happen in his brain–most likely brought on by a traumatic moment–and his personality had begun to change around him, and really, how could he fight the way his brain decided to think?

He’d rejected the idea of medication when he’d decided that he was able to hold himself together. Now that he had some actual knowledge of what was going on in his head, he was able to recognize when he was about to have an episode and was able to tell if it was going to be a bad one or not. It gave him a chance to pull himself together and if things got too bad he did have a few “As Needed” prescription bottles in his medicine cabinet, but he hated the way drugs made him feel.

Nicholas let himself wallow in angsty woe every now and again, but it wasn’t something he was close to proud of. So he was glad that David had been accepting of his terrible explanation and had actually followed his suggestion and had a talk with Christian. David had come back more solemn than he’d left, but he’d wrapped his arms around Nicholas and touched their foreheads together and said that it was forever and he wasn’t going to be run off by some mixed up brain chemistry.

Nicholas had promised to always try and speak honestly, and David had promised to be understanding in those times when Nicholas simply could not help himself and fell into cold formality. But that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt when the words he wanted to say tangled in his throat unsaid and he found himself twitching out from under David’s hand before he realized what was happening. Because even though David professed that it didn’t bother him, Nicholas had seen the sadness reflected in David’s eyes when he thought Nicholas wasn’t looking.

It hurt to be so damaged all the time, but it didn’t hurt him. It hurt David, and that was something Nicholas really hated to see happen.


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