Chapter Twenty-Three: Wrong
The final step was placing the Stone of Life into Leon's chest.
The gem, which had been the bane of Seon's existence since that day, was now a beacon of hope for him. He prayed that it lived up to its name and buried it into the meat of Leon's chest. He sewed the skin back up and waited.
At first, he sat there with a broad grin upon his face, nearly bouncing in his stool with excitement for Leon's reawakening. After half an hour, he bit his lip in worry that the stone didn't work. By the time the hour was up, his face was in a sneer.
"What? You don't work now?" Seon asked the stone. "You worked just fine when you fucking blew him up, now you don't want to fix the mess you made?"
He received no response from the body nor the stone in it.
"Dammit!" Seon slammed his fist onto the body's chest in frustration then sunk into a stool beside the table. "Dammit..." He buried his face into his hands.
Had he held his head up, he would have seen the chest begin to slowly rise and fall. He would have seen the mouth part. He would have seen the fingers start twitching.
Amethyst eyes slowly opened. The body slowly lifted itself until it was sitting. It looked about curiously until its eyes landed upon the elf lamenting in the stool. Its head tilted slightly.
"A... A... yo... ka...?" it tried to say, but its throat was too dry for the words to come out properly.
Seon's head snapped up. His eyes went wide and his mouth hung open. His arms fell limp to his side. He slowly stood up on shaking legs.
It just stared at him confusedly. The way the lips turned down, the brow scrunched up, his entire expression was just painfully Leon's.
He stumbled toward it and wrapped his arms around it. It felt warm against his body, which made him hug it tighter. Thin arms reached up and hugged him back.
"I'm..." he choked out. "I'm so glad you're awake."
"Yu... o... ka...?" it repeated.
"Oh! Right!" Seon said excitedly. A broad, genuine smile appeared on his face for the first time since Leon had died. "Water! You need some water! I'll be right back!"
Seon turned and nearly sprinted to the door. He didn't want to spend too much time away from his brother after... god, he didn't even know how long it's been anymore. It could have been one year; it could have been forty.
He heard the creaking of the table behind him. His brother was trying to get up and follow him. It was an innocent act that made Seon's smile stretch further.
"No no! Stay there!" Seon said in a tone that was meant to be scolding, but his joy made it sound more like a laugh. "You just woke up, you shouldn't push yourself yet! Stay! Do you understand?"
His brother gave him a blank stare.
"Move your head like this," Seon nodded his head, "if you understand me. Move it like this," he shook his head, "if you don't. Got it?"
After a moment or two, his brother nodded his head.
"Good!" He clapped a hand on the small shoulder. "Good good! Excellent! Now stay here while I get you some water. Okay?"
His brother nodded his head, sitting back onto the table.
Seon went out of the lab and down the stairs. There was a skip in his step. He crashed into the counters of the kitchen a few times only partly because he wasn't paying attention to where he was going. It was also partly because he thought he was dreaming.
He reached for a cup, but stopped when he caught sight of his hand. It was still covered in dried blood from placing the gem in Leon's chest. And probably blood from before that.
He thoroughly scrubbed his hands before retrieving the water and an apple. When he returned, his brother was in the same position as before. Seon hurriedly placed the food on the table and placed the boy on the floor.
"Here," he said as he gently lead the shorter elf to the table. "I figured you'd be hungry too, so I brought you an apple. It's your favorite, after all. But drink first." He lifted up the glass up to his brother's stitched lips.
The boy drank greedily like a man stuck in a desert. The glass was drained in an instant.
"Do you feel better?" When his brother nodded, Seon let out a sigh of relief. "Now, what were you trying to say before?"
"Are you okay?" the boy asked. The voice was slightly raspy from lack of use, but it was most definitely Leon's.
"Huh?" Seon's excitement faltered. "Of course. Why are you asking me? Do I not seem okay?"
His brother shrugged. "Are you okay?"
He didn't want to think about the answer. Of course he was okay. He had Leon back. "Yes. I'm okay." His brother didn't look too certain about that. "Look, please eat. I'll be right back. I need to get you something to wear." He gestured to his brother's bare chest.
He left the lab and went to his room. He went straight to the mirror to see what else he had been neglecting. He was dissatisfied with what he saw.
If he looked a bit gaunt before the Accident had happened, he looked like complete shit now. His hair was shaggy and matted. His skin looked grubby. Also... God, when was the last time he ate? It looked like the slightest amount of extra weight would cause his arms to snap, it was a wonder he picked the boy up. It was no wonder he was asked if he were okay. He looked awful. He withdrew a cloth from the wardrobe and threw over the mirror in disgust.
He grabbed a tunic and exited the room quickly. He froze, however, when he saw that the apple only had a bite out of it. The boy was sitting patiently with a curious look upon his face.
"Why... Why didn't you eat it?" Seon asked. "Are you full?"
The boy shook his head.
"Then..." His eyes widened. "Don't you like it?"
He shook his head again.
That was the first thing that made him doubt that the child he woke up was Leon.
"Hey, want to play hide and seek?" Seon asked. He tried keep a false and bright smile plastered onto his face. "You liked this game."
"Hide and seek?" the boy repeated.
"Yeah, it's easy! I hide and you try to find me. Okay?"
He and Leon had spent many an afternoon playing hide and seek in the forest of apple trees. Even after they started living in the castle, they still managed to play in their spare time. Seon was a bit lazy whenever he played, but it was Leon's favorite game.
"Now cover your eyes, like this." Seon brought his hands up to his eyes. "And don't uncover them until you count to ten. Okay?"
The boy nodded up to him then covered his eyes. "One...Two..."
Seon scrambled away. The first place he could think of was the wardrobe in his room. He didn't bother being quiet about jumping inside and slamming the door behind him.
The boy came into the room quickly after he hid. He looked around briefly before leaving, not even bothering to step in further.
Seon groaned in frustration and burst out of the closet. "OY!" he shouted.
He yanked the door open and approached the boy. He looked mildly surprised and tilted his head.
"Did I win?" he asked.
Seon took a deep breath, trying hard to hide his irritation. "You know what? Maybe I should count this time and you hide. Got it?"
He nodded. "Okay."
He covered his eyes. Seon felt relief when he heard the boy run away. Leon was always better at hiding. That was it. Leon's instincts for the game would emerge now that it was the boy's turn to hide. That would settle any remaining doubt for him. At least, that's what Seon tried to assure himself.
He tried not to let his disappointment show when he uncovered his eyes and the boy was merely standing beside a cabinet. However, he failed as he stormed over to the boy. His teeth were gritted and his fists were clenched. Because that was not how Leon would've hidden himself.
"Why-" Seon began, but he cut himself short when the boy cringed before him, his arms instantly in front of him like a shield. He felt ashamed and heartbroken that of all of Leon's mannerisms the boy could've retained, it had to be that one. He took a deep breath and tried again. "Why aren't you hiding?" he asked stiffly.
His response was a confused frown. "I thought I was hiding."
"No. Standing next to something is not hiding," he deadpanned.
"Oh... Should I try again?" he asked innocently.
Seon shook his head. "No. I think we've played enough for today."
A bottle shattered onto the floor. Seon turned to see that the child was making room on the table for his book like he had asked him to, however, one of the bottles on the other side got pushed over. The boy looked at him with guilty eyes and immediately bent down to pick up the shards.
"Don't," Seon said calmly. "You'll cut yourself on the glass. Let me handle it."
With a wave of his finger and a few words, the shards began gathering together. They jumped up into their original places and melted into one another. Soon, the only thing on the ground was a perfectly unmarked bottle; the sole evidence that it was ever broken was the amazement on the boy's face and the smug grin on Seon's.
"Wow..." the child gasped.
"Pretty cool, huh?" Seon said proudly.
"How did you do that?" he asked.
Seon smiled at the nostalgia of it. Leon's voice, his expression, the situation; they were a pair of children standing before the shattered boulder again. He rolled his eyes and for the hell of it, he motioned for the boy to come closer. When he was close enough, he placed his mouth beside his ear and cupped his hands around both.
"Magic!" he whispered. He pulled away from him.
"Magic?" he mimicked. "That's amazing..."
"It can do more than just that, you know." He bent down and placed the bottle back onto the table.
"What else can it do then?" he asked.
"Everything," he sighed. "It can create. It can repair. But it can also destroy. It can..." He paused as he looked over the black stitches across his brother's face. "It can create life."
"Can you teach me?"
It was then that he was convinced. Any doubt that this child wasn't his brother fled his mind. Now he knew this wasn't Leon.
His mouth was pressed into a thin line as he reexamined what he thought to be his brother. The white locks that were once black didn't look like they were changing back any time soon. The black stitches were still exposed; because of his doubts he delayed placing the spell to remove them. Now it served as a reminder that this boy was made by his two hands. Finally, the eyes were as purple as the gem that was used as his heart, instead of the blue that Leon had.
"What did you say?" he asked.
"Can you teach me?" he asked again. "It looks cool and I want to help you!"
"...No. I can't teach you."
He deflated at that. "O... Okay."
"Actually..." He bent down to the boy's level. "We need to establish some ground rules. Got it?"
"First of all, I'm your master and you'll address me as such."
"Second, when I tell you to do something, you don't question it. Just do it. And lastly... Be sure to always stay nearby me. Got it?"
"I got it, Master."