My dreams were filled with bright colors and random loud noises. Kyan was standing beside me, his hand lightly holding my own, as we gazed out over a dark field together. The sky above us was ablaze with streaks and flashes of light, as the stars themselves seemed to be rejoicing in something. There was a strange musical tone coming from everywhere, but neither of us could tell where it was coming from. With each flash of light, I could see more and more people running and dancing around us. Children were laughing as they chased each other in play, and suddenly the entire area around us was a festival. I could smell the different scents as we walked hand in hand past several vendor stalls selling foods I had never heard of before. The people spoke in a language neither of us could understand, and I found myself trying to make out what they were saying.
One man said as he saw me staring at him. His brown eyes went wide as he pointed towards my brother and I, drawing more attention from the other people around.
“I don’t understand,” I said with a nervous smile. As I turned to look at Kyan I noticed that everyone was facing us with huge grins on their faces.
Everyone started chanting methodically.
“What’s going on, Kyan?” I asked my brother softly as the strange celebration continued around us.
“You’ll see,” Kyan said with a gentle smile. Then, he motioned for me to look in front of us as the crowd parted slowly.
A man wearing blue and white robes stepped forward with a smile on his narrow face. He had crow’s feet stretching out from the corners of his bright blue eyes, and he had a long gray beard that was the same light gray as the hair on his head. The man exuded power with his very presence, and it wasn’t just from his authoritative stance either. I could feel the energy coming from him as he stopped in front of my brother and I.
The man said proudly.
I stared at him in confusion as his blue eyes fell on me, and he chuckled when I didn’t flinch away from his steady gaze.
“You have grown, Zyan.” The man told me with the same smile on his face. I watched him as he stepped closer so he could reach out and squeeze my shoulder. I felt a strange warmth spread through my body from the contact as I gazed into his loving expression. “I know that you have been to the other side and back, but just know that you are closer to being home than you could ever imagine, young one.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, dumbfounded by his statement. “My family found me.” I glanced over at Kyan to see him staring at me in disbelief, like I was doing something completely unheard of. “I’ll be home in a week. I’m going there tomorrow for some sort of party.”
“You may be with your family, Zyan.” The man said as he pulled me into a hug. “But you’re not quite home. You will all be home soon enough, though. I promise you.”
The man stood, but he kept one of his arms across my shoulders as he addressed everyone gathered around us.
“Tonight, the universe herself celebrates the reunion of the Twins!” The old man’s deep voice boomed out over the noise of the crowd before everyone began to cheer excitedly. “Tonight, marks the new beginning of a new Age! The Age of Trials has begun!”
The man turned his attention back to Kyan.
“You have done well keeping your baby brother alive, Kyan.”
“Thank you, great-grandfather.” Kyan said with a respectful bow of his head. My brother still had a bewildered look upon his face as he stared at the arm across my shoulders. “Thank you for blessing me the strength to not give up, your Majesty.”
I felt my jaw drop, and I immediately went to pull away from the man only to find out I couldn’t break free from his grasp. He chuckled and held me tighter into his side.
“Things have always needed to change, Kyan.” Our great-grandfather said. “It should start with me. My grandsons should never be afraid to come to me when they need help. As a matter of fact, I should be the first person they even think about coming to when they’re in danger. Plus, how am I going to teach you to love your subjects, if I don’t show you how to love each other first?”
The man pulled Kyan into his other side as everyone cheered again around us. The stars in the sky above continued to explode with bright colors as the celebration carried on. Kyan reached over and grabbed my hand as children began to dance in circles around us, and I couldn’t help but smile and lean into our grandfather’s embrace. All of the pieces were beginning to fall into place…
I awoke the next morning to the sun shining directly into my window, and Kyan snoring lightly in my ear. I was surprised that Toby hadn’t snuck into my room until I remembered that Gavin was staying the week with Natalie and Greg. The memory of my dreams faded quickly, but I could vaguely remember there being music and flashes of bright light. I sighed and gave up trying to bring back anything else from the dream before I slipped from the bed. I ran to my bathroom to relieve my bladder, and smiled when I saw myself in the mirror while I washed my hands. My family had found me! I couldn’t find any reason to be sad as I gazed at my own reflection. I pulled up the hem of my shirt, and looked at the three scars that crossed my chest and abdomen. Even those ugly reminders of my past did little to bring down my spirits.
Deciding that I had spent enough time studying my own reflection, I dropped the hem of my shirt, and turned around to start the water on the shower. I slipped back into my bedroom to grabs clothes for the day while the water warmed up to the steamy temperature I enjoyed. I chose a pair of tan cargo shorts that Natalie had bought me, and a light blue tank top to wear with them. I grabbed the blue pair of boxer briefs that matched the shirt before I went back into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. I dropped the clothes I had been wearing into the hamper before I finally stepped into the shower, and pulled the curtain closed.
While I stood under the water, I thought about the way my mother and father had bother reacted the day before when they had first saw me. I had fainted at Greg’s office, and woke up back at the house with my father holding me tightly in his arms. Then, my mother arrived and didn’t even realize it was me until Kyan stepped out from behind our dad. Sarah, my sister, would always stop by and kiss my cheek before she moved back to talk to our parents or my friends. Kyan spent the entire day watching my every move. The only time he had let me out of his sight was when I went to the bathroom, or my dad decided to take me inside.
Today, I was supposed to go to their house, though. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was terrified. I began to worry that I was going to screw up somehow and that my parents were going to decide that they didn’t want me. What if they found out I was worthless? What would I do then? Would Natalie and Greg still want me if my parents don’t?
I didn’t even realize I was sitting on the floor of my shower with tears running down my face until I heard the sound of my brother’s voice. I glanced up to see his blue eyes filled with worry as he stared at me.
“I’m getting Greg…”
Kyan was gone before I could stop him. The damage was done… Kyan was going to tell my mom and dad how broken I am… He would probably tell them about my scars, too. There was no way he didn’t see the scars all over my back. He would tell them, and then they wouldn’t want me anymore.
The water was still warm, but I couldn’t bring myself to shower. What was the point? Nobody liked me anyways…
I pulled my knees to my chest, and buried my face in my hands as the tears began to fall harder. I cried because I was broken, and my family was going to give up on me. I couldn’t bring myself to blame them, though. I’d give up on me, too.
Suddenly, I was lifted from the shower by my armpits before being wrapped in a huge fluffy towel. The sudden motion caused me to look up and vaguely see Greg smiling at me. I could see his lips moving, but there wasn’t any sound coming from his mouth. I just let the tears continue to fall as Greg carried me back to my room.
“Come on, Kyan.” I heard Geoff say from nearby. “They’ll be down in a few minutes.”
“But…” Kyan started to protest with a sniffle. “He kept saying he was worthless, and didn’t deserve us…”
“It’ll be okay, Kyan.” Geoff said calmly. “Greg will handle this like he always does, buddy. You’ll get your chance to smother him with hugs and love when Greg brings Zyan downstairs. I promise.”
That seemed to satisfy Kyan enough to follow Uncle Geoff out of the bedroom. I sniffled into Greg’s chest as I struggled to get myself under control.
“I’ve tried telling you so many times that you’re not worthless, Zyan.” Greg said softly.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered as I feared that they were going to send me to an orphanage if my family didn’t want me.
“Shh, little one.” Greg said softly as he kissed my cheek. “I’m not mad at you. Nobody is.” He added quickly. “We’re all just worried about you, Zyan. Everything that you’ve been through has affected your entire personality down to the very core, and all we want is to help you find yourself again. Your brother is terrified right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so scared before. Kyan practically pulled me all the way up the steps.”
Greg sighed and hugged me for a few minutes.
“I love you, Zyan.” Greg told me. “Natalie and I both love you. You’ve done nothing but bring happiness and joy into our lives since you joined our family. Do I wish that I could keep you forever? Yes. I do. If I could, I would never give you up. But, I think Kyan would try to murder me if I did that. Your mother would finish off whatever pieces of me Kyan didn’t get.”
I giggled lightly.
“You’ve never been a disappointment, Zyan.” My foster-dad said with a whisper. “I know you’re worried about the party, baby boy. You don’t have any reason to be, though. Everybody is going to love you.”
“Do you promise, Greg?” I asked nervously.
“Yes, buddy.” Greg said with a smile. “I promise. Now, go get dressed, and I’ll make sure Natalie is making us a good breakfast.”
“Thanks, Greg.” I said as I leaned into the man’s chest. “I love you.”
Greg hugged me tightly.
“I love you too, Zyan.”
Kyan, Greg, Natalie, Toby, Gavin, and Geoff were all downstairs in the dining room when I finally joined them. Natalie gave me a kiss on the cheek before she set a plate of waffles in front of me. I smiled and thanked my foster mother as Kyan bumped his shoulder into mine. I blushed but managed to smile at my older brother before I dug into the food Natalie made. The adults talked about Uncle Geoff’s plans for the week while I heard Toby telling Gavin all about one of his friends at school. Kyan sat beside me i silence, and I wanted to talk to him, but there were too many people around for me to ask him anything that I wanted to. The older me seemed to sense my discomfort, and once the breakfast dishes were cleared, Kyan grabbed my had and dragged me out into the backyard. Kyan didn’t stop until we reached the large oak tree that we had sat beneath the day before, and promptly motioned for me to sit across from him. My brother scooted closer to me and took my hands in his own once we were both on the ground.
“Are you okay?” He asked me softly.
“So,” he said, interrupting me. “I don’t care that you’re broken, little brother. I love you for who you are. Nothing will ever change that.”
“What about mom and dad?” I asked quietly.
“What do you mean, Zyan?”
“What if… What if…” I sniffled softly before I finally asked the question that had caused my early morning episode. “What if they don’t want me because I’m broken? What if they don’t want me because I’m worthless?”
I glanced up long enough to see the look of horror on Kyan’s face. The next thing I knew, Kyan was pulling me into his arms and holding onto me tightly.
“Nobody thinks you’re worthless, Zyan.” Kyan said fiercely. His tone shocked me, and I froze in fear at the sound of it. “Mom and dad have spent the last decade looking for you. They would never give you up! Besides, it’s not like I would let them, anyways.”
I sniffled as my brother continued to hold me.
“You saved my life, Zyan.” Kyan said softly. I glanced up to see that his blue eyes were glazed over with tears.
“What do you mean?”
Kyan sighed and looked down at the ground with a sad look on his face.
“You came to me,” he began hesitantly. “It was on a night when I was on the verge of giving up. I felt like half of my soul was ripped away from me, and I was on the verge of taking a bunch of pills I found when you suddenly appeared in my head. It scared the shit out of me. I saw you just standing there. You were fading though, I could feel it. I could feel you trying to give up, just like I was about to do. I knew I had to keep you from giving up. Then, you told me your name wasn’t Zyan, and for a moment I believed you. I just knew it was you, though! I knew you had to be close, it was the only way you would have been able to connect with me so clearly…”
I remembered the exact moment that my brother was talking about… It was the first time I had saw him. It was also while I was struggling to stay alive after the monster had decided I wasn’t good enough to live any longer.
“I told you that we would be together soon,” Kyan whispered with a slight sniffle.
“I love you too, Kyan.” I replied just as softly.
We both glanced up to see Greg looking down at us with a smile.
“It’s time to get ready to leave,” my foster-dad told us. “Your mother has already called three times.”
“Only three times?” Kyan asked with a look of astonishment. “That’s got to be a new record for her.”
Greg just laughed and ruffled Kyan’s hair before he herded us towards the house so we could get ready. For the next twenty-four hours, I was going to be staying with my mom and dad to help me get used to their house little by little. Then, I’d be returning to Greg and Natalie’s for the next day. It was going to be a tiring week for me, but the one good thing about it was the fact that Kyan was going to be with me throughout all of it.