How Green Becomes Wood

Daizi paused for a moment after Dark's last remark, and then grinned, leaned in to kiss him, and said, "I hate you."

"I love you too," He replied, which made her laugh.

"Okay, well, Alec, you're in charge then," She laughed, "since these two can't be trusted. You two have a nice day, but make sure he suffers without me." And with that she left, hurrying to the platform, and Dark waited a few moments until she was out of sight.
"He will," Xander and Alec said dryly even though she couldn't hear.

Alec leaned forward and gently poked Dark in the shoulder. "Don't worry. Soon, she'll be home again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?"

Xander groaned. "Can we just go home?"
"What?" Dark asked, pulling his eyes from the street, "No, no... I am not upset about her being at work all day. I just wanted to make sure she got there safe." He looked back at them and the look on his face proved what he said was honest, before pulling out of the space and driving home.
Alec leaned forward in his seat during the drive home, chatting with Dark and making small talk. As much as he was trying not to, he felt bad they hadn't been together yesterday when Dark had been struggling. Mentally and logically, he knew that they likely wouldn't have been much if any help, and possibly even made it worse, but they were family. Shouldn't family be together no matter what? But then again, sometimes the best way to heal was to do things on their own, or just to better connect with the other person. Sometimes parents needed to be without children, sometimes children needed to be without parents, and sometimes there needed to be some mix of the previous two. Logically, it didn't make much sense, but in his heart, he felt guilty. Since he couldn't time travel backward and change their choices, and he really didn't want to give up the day he'd had with Xander, he resolved to make up for it today.

Xander didn't say anything as he sat back, watching out the window. When they got home, Xander took a detour to the kitchen and rousted out a couple of black trash bags and a large box. Then he headed upstairs to his room, stuck the bags and the box in the corner, and paused to look at himself in the mirror. He looked different with his hair actually semi-neat and wearing something without a single hole in it. So much of himself had been an affectation. Things he wore or attitudes he adopted to suit the situation, spite someone, or protect Alec. Oh, there was plenty underneath the surface that was genuinely him, but how much of what he saw in the mirror was him? Actually him? Did he even like piercings, or was he just doing it for the shock? Did he like his clothes? They were really cold in the winter. Did he even like himself? Did he like who he was? Whoever that was?

He leaned forward and gave himself a stern look. "If figuring yourself out is such a big deal to you that you almost left your brother, then it's about damn time you start figuring it out!" he told himself. "No more whining, just doing. It might take a while, but we gotta start somewhere, right? So let's go."

He turned and surveyed the room. Most of his stuff was on one side while Alec had taken over the other. They might often share a bed for comfort's sake, but they still had their own distinct sections of the room. Alec's lava lamp burbled happily on the bedside table, and his side was full of art paraphernalia. Books lay in a stack around his side, books of al sorts. Xander mostly had his leather working stuff and the light green snake. He had a couple of books tucked away, one of them a well-thumbed book on horse breeds, but not much else. He started with the snake. He set that on his little-used bed. Keeping. The brown and white dog went into the box. Donating. Then he sat on the floor and started going through his clothes one at a time. Things too worn went into the trash bags. Things that looked in decent shape went into the box. He kept anything neutral, folding it up neatly and setting it on the bed. Every now and then he paused and listened, making sure he knew about where Alec was before going back to work.

Alec walked in as Xander reached the halfway point. He looked around at the items strewn around the room. "Do you, uh, need any help?" he asked uncertainly.

Xander shook his head. "Just... decluttering. Something I gotta do."

"Do you want some working music?" Alec suggested.

Xander paused and glanced at Alec. "Yeah, that sounds good. I didn't realize how quiet it was."

Alec smiled and set up the player, going down to borrow one of Daizi's CDs. Then he turned to his side of the room and started clearing out, as well. He didn't get rid of nearly as many things as Xander did, but it was good to go through, remind himself of what he had, and tidy things up. He hadn't realized how scattered some things had gotten, especially clothes, probably because of all the times he'd done a frantic grab-and-dash when in a rush. The pair didn't talk outside of work-related topics, just worked their way through the room. They agreed to put all of their books on the tiny bookshelf and not bother splitting it for now and ask Dark if he might be willing to buy or make them a new one for Alec's books so Xander could have the small one. They gave opinions on each other's items when they were torn. They had a lot of different things, but in one way, they were united: Anything to do with Declan other than the lava lamp and the snake went into the donation box. Everything.

When they finished, Alec carefully placed the rabbit Dark had won for him at the claw machine at the head of the bed. Xander laid the snake in a circle on his bed. Then they stood back and gave each other a nod. Their room hadn't been this tidy since they'd moved in.

"Do you want to hear my idea for the wall painting?" Alec asked Xander.

Xander nodded. "Hit me."

"Okay, picture a gradient of our favorite colors, both of ours, on that wall there."

"That wall has a window. Won't that ruin the effect?"

"Maybe, but that's the wall we share. Anyway, whichever wall, it's a gradient of colors going up one wall, up to the ceiling, and then fading to white about halfway across the ceiling."

"Sounds kind of like an abstract rainbow. I like it, as long as it's not an actual rainbow."

"I think I can arrange that."

"Then we have a deal."
Dark spent much of the day outside, because he still needed to work on his crib and cradle. They were coming along nicely. He had scaped the idea of carving each rail of the crib individually, because he needed a large number to be certain of safety, and as pretty as he thought it would be to have them in lovely shapes--it wasn't practical, not considering how long it would be used for. And it'd be difficult to clean. But he could carve a relief into the top and base of the crib, and that more or less served the same purpose, while being easier to manage. Both seemed to be in good shape to be finished on time.

So, after awhile, he got up, stretched, and headed inside. It was about lunchtime, so he went upstairs to ask the twins what they wanted, and stood surprised not only to see their door open, but their room neat, "Wow," Dark said, "You both have been... busy. The room looks great."
Alec turned and smiled at Dark. "We did discover a few things we forgot we had, which is an unusual experience for us. By the way, we could use another bookshelf. My book collection has outgrown the shelves, especially if Xander wants to get any more books."

Xander took his one real stud out of the small box he'd tossed it into and put it in another one, tucking it into the drawer. The clip ons he left in their box, closed it up, and put it in the donations pile. The pile barely fit in the box. "We have some donations if there's a thrift store that will take them. And some trash." He nudged the two black bags with his foot. They weren't overflowing, but they both held a good amount, mostly of Xander's torn clothes and other bits and bobs that weren't worth donating.
"Of course I will get you a bookshelf," Dark replied, and also agreed to take their donations to where they needed to be. There was something about it all which stood out to him, and he couldn't quite pin point why.

Then he went downstairs and made lunch, and the rest of the day came to a close. Friday was normal, too, everything seemed exactly as it should.

Then came Saturday morning, and there was a knock at the twins' door earlier than either Dark or Daizi usually got up, at least on weekends. It was Daizi's voice, "Hey, you both gotta get up, everything's okay, but it's time to get up." She sounded sleepy, but underneath that was a strange sort of excitement in her voice.
Xander groaned and dragged himself out from under the blanket. "What is it?" he asked sleepily, opening the door. "What's going on?"

Alec rolled out from under the blankets and sat on the floor, blinking sleepily to orient himself. "Who's visiting?" he asked groggily.

"Daizi, she says we have to get up," Xander told him.

Alec sighed but got up and started trying to find his clothes.
"Nobody is visiting," She laughed from behind the door, "Alec, dress nicely. Xander, dress to move. Dark is making breakfast." With that cryptic message, she went downstairs for her own breakfast.

She was wearing the ivy dress, her hair was intricately braided, and she was even wearing lipstick. Dark, meanwhile, was wearing dark jeans, which he rarely did, and a simple black t-shirt, and he was making a very hearty breakfast, the kind that kept you very full.
"Dress nicely?" Alec mused.

"Dress to move?" Xander muttered. "Why are dressing nice and I'm dressing to move?"

Alec shrugged. "No idea, but we should do as we're told, I suppose, so we can find out."

They scrambled to get dressed, Xander choosing to wear jeans with a long-sleeved light-grey linen shirt so he wouldn't have to worry as much about sunscreen. Alec chose to wear his EC Esher pants with a coral red shirt. Then he second-guessed the color and grabbed a dark, forest green shirt and carried it with him. He'd ask Dark his opinion.

"Professor, which of these should I wear?" he asked, holding up the green shirt and tugging on the shirt he was wearing. "I'm not sure which matches. You look stunning, Daizi."
"If I were you," Dark advised as he plated everyone's breakfasts, "I would dress more similar to how you did when the Hollises came for dinner. But the green is better than the coral, it keep your tones more consistent."

"Thank you, I do like this dress a lot. But hurry up and eat, we've got to leave soon," Daizi said quickly, sitting down to eat.
Alec stared at Dark blankly. "So... no to these pants?" he asked, sounding only slightly horrified. "Okay. I'll go change."

Xander sat down and started eating as fast as he could, guessing he looked fine since no one said anything. What were they doing? And where were they going? They seemed so excited.
"You will thank me," Dark said, feeling a bit bad at crushing him like that. But he knew where Alec was going, and didn't want him to feel embarrassed once he arrived. Neither he nor Daizi offered any clues, they weren't even really talking to each other. But this was necessary, they were both too excited the day had finally arrived and were worried they'd end up giving something way, which would ruin the fun of it all.

After Alec returned, Daizi did speak up to say, "You don't need to bring anything other than your phones, by the way."
Alec returned wearing black pants with his nicest red shirt and a dark blue tie, hoping he didn't look like a waiter. It felt so strange to only have one layer! He looked at Dark curiously, instantly distracted from what he was wearing. "Where are we going?"

Xander gently pulled him over to the table and urged him to eat quickly. "Good thing we don't need our phones. I forgot to tell you, Alec's phone is currently somewhere in Cooger's truck."

"I wondered where it got itself off to," Alec mumbled around his breakfast. He finished eating as quickly as possible and ran to scrub his teeth with Xander on his heels. In minutes, they were by the door.
Dark approved of Alec's outfit change and said, "We are not telling. And... no problem, I will call him and he can drop it off here tomorrow."

"Oh that phone's been all over," Daizi laughed, and cleaned up the dishes as everyone was finishing up. Then they all went to the car, after making a quick goodbye to a very confused dog, and drove to the train station. Parking where they usually did, Daizi took a breath, and then turned back to the twins, "I know this'll be a bit scary and weird for you both. But if you trust us... Then Alec, you come with me, and Xander, you stay with Dark."

"It is a good thing," Dark assured them, "And you will be able to sit in the front seat with me, Xander. We will have a drive ahead of us."
The twins exchanged confused looks. They were parting ways? Really far ways? Alec instantly reached out for Xander's hand, a spark of fear in his eyes.

Xander squeezed Alec's hand and then took a deep breath. "Okay," he said with a little nod to Alec. "This sounds really interesting. Right? We can do this. Right? Let's go have an adventure we can tell each other about."

Alec nodded with a tight smile. "Yes," he agreed. "I'll keep Daizi safe, don't you worry."

They both got out of the car, Alec giving Xander a quick hug, and then stepping away to join Daizi. Xander waited until Daizi was out and with Alec before he got into the front seat. This felt weird, but they both kept telling themselves this was nothing like the last times. Dark and Daizi were their family and would take care of them. They were clearly excited about whatever this was, so they could relax, right? Right.
Daizi put her hand on Alec's shoulder, leading him towards the platform, "Don't worry, habibi. You'll be back together this evening. Now come on, we've got to catch our train. And we can always call Dark and Xander, I still have my phone."

"If I had known Alec had forgotten his phone in Cooger's truck, I would have gotten it yesterday or on Thursday. We had planned on you being able to keep in contact, but if you need to, we can call Daizi," Dark said, pulling away from the train station, "but I think you will both be having too much fun. And you will have lots to tell each when you are reunited."
"I'm sure it will be fine," Alec said with more confidence than he felt. It would be fine. Absolutely fine! He was going to go have a fun day with Daizi. How could it possibly not be fine? He stuck close to her, both to comfort himself and so she'd know where he was.


"It's alright," Xander shrugged. "Sorry I forgot to tell you. I didn't realize it was lost until later in the day, and then on my way to tell you, I got distracted." He adjusted his seatbelt and stretched out his legs. "So. Now that you've got me right where you want me, where are we going? Or do I gotta wait and see?"
"It will be," She smiled, and brought him to where she normally sat to wait for her train on normal days, and when she heard it arrive, she took Alec's hand to guide him on board, "Help me find a place to sit," she said, "it sounds crowded. I don't mind standing, but it's probably not a good idea."


"You just have to wait and see," Dark replied. He tapped a button on the radio, "but in the meanwhile, it is time for you to experience an album I think you will find a lot of meaning in, if you can get past the knowledge that I like it, and that for you it is old." He smirked slightly as the first few notes of My Chemical Romance's album The Black Parade began playing over the speakers. He knew it was edgy, probably to the extent that Xander would roll his eyes at, but if he really listened to the words, especially the words the titular song, and ones like Disenchanted and Famous Last Words, he would find, at the very least, some appreciation of it, and why Dark played it for him, "There is one good thing about Alec not having his phone: It means I can tell you where he is going, if you would like to know, without fear of you spoiling his surprise trip."
Alec looked around until he spotted an empty seat near them. "Ah! There's one." He led her forward and guided her to the seat. "The outside one is open. There's a lady sitting in the seat near the window, and she looks nice."

The woman in question gave them both a confused look but didn't say anything. She looked young, maybe mid-twenties, and seemed mostly intent on ignoring those around her.


Xander fought back a groan as the music started playing, but it was Dark's trip, he was driving, so Xander guessed he could pick whatever music he wanted. Xander would just have to put up with a band that seemed way too young for someone as old as Dark. It didn't matter that the band was at least twenty years old, they sounded like something a teenager would listen to. Even if they did have some good lyrics.

"Nah, it's okay," he said in response to Dark's question. "I guess I can wait until he can tell me all about it. Must be some place really fancy for you to tell him how to dress." It wasn't that Xander minded, far from it if Dark was doing it for Alec's benefit, but since Dark virtually never did it, it was odd.