Disclaimer: I don't own Eragon or anything associated with the Inheritance Cycle.

Claimer: I, SussieKitten, own this plot and the story. Borrow or steal my plot, my original characters (Aksel) or story and I will report you. I also own my version of Saphira/Thorn's and Glaedr/Shruikan's human appearances.

Warnings: Strong mentions of a character attempting to take their own life – mentions of attempted Suicide. Mentioned Character Death – Genuine (Paolini's) Character. Mentioned Hurt/Injuries – mentions of prior injuries on a character. Swearing or strong language. Slash/Shōnen-ai hints – meaning mild guy x guy hints.

Murtagh and Eragon are not related in this story.

A/N So. This was not the story I was supposed to upload today. Life sadly got in the way, so here you go; Eragon's backstory in the Poison universe.

This was originally meant to be a much longer story, featuring everything that happens with Eragon in Poison, but for now it's a stand-alone. I might expand it, and I might not. It depends on how I feel about it and, well, what you guys think I suppose.

This story starts when Eragon is twelve and the rough time he has just gone through. I won't tell you what has happened, but it will become apparent with time. One of the events is a sensitive subject that Eragon refuses to really think about. You will get hints and you'll most likely guess it before Eragon actually comes clean and admits everything. If you're worried about being triggered, please read the warnings beforehand. I have added it there.

I focus mainly on major events in this story, as a contrast to Poison. While I haven't really written about Eragon's day-to-day life, I have done my best not to downplay his trauma and his recovery process. I hope I've managed to handle that well.

The story itself lasts over an eight year period – from Eragon's trauma and until Murtagh's arrival in Carvahall. This does mean there are a lot of scenes that stand alone, and many jumps in time. Hopefully the flow isn't too choppy, though.

Lastly – and maybe obviously, but you never know – there are a lot of references to Poison here, so it might not make much sense unless you've read that story first. Just as a warning.

Self-betaed. You have been warned.


ANTIVIRUS

Eragon was twelve the first time he visited Angela Vitch. He pulled the large sleeves over his knuckles and, by trapping some material under his thumb, made sure they stayed there.

"How are you, Eragon?" she asked him.

Eragon didn't look up. He knew why he was there. He knew he needed someone to talk to, but that didn't mean he wanted to be there.

Not now. Not so soon after it all.

"Do you like your new school?"

He shrugged. It was school. What was there to like?

Angela sighed.

Eragon looked up at her. He thought she had really bushy hair and big glasses.

"Is there something you want to talk about?"

He shook his head. He wanted to go home to Saphira. He didn't want to be here.

"I won't force you to talk," she said then.

Funny. It really sounded like it.

He stared down at his hands. Or rather, his fingers, which was all he could see beneath the large sleeves.

Eragon looked up when he heard scratching. He blinked when he saw Angela writing in a file. His, probably. He wondered why, though. He hadn't spoken. Didn't he need to speak for her to psycho-analyse him or whatever?

Angela looked up at him and smiled. "You can go now, if you want to. Your father should still be in the waiting room."

He nodded slowly. His dad had said that, which was amazing all in itself. Brom rarely got out of bed these days, though that had changed since –

Eragon cut himself off. He got up and fiddled a little more with his sleeves. He left without saying goodbye.

-:-

Their new house was smaller than the one they'd had in Theirnsford. It was all on one floor and had a small garage next to the house instead of underneath it. Eragon missed his old house from time to time.

His new room was a little smaller than his old one, but Eragon hardly noticed it. His room and Saphira's were about the same size. Saphira had gotten her room painted sunny yellow within their first week of living there. Eragon's room was still painted white.

The house had three bedrooms, two baths, a small room that Brom used as his office and a living room/kitchen. It was enough for them.

Eragon still wasn't quite used to it. He could see the kitchen now when he came into the house. It had been separate from the living room in Theirnsford. His room had been on the first floor, not on the ground floor.

There was a small cellar that was filled with unopened boxes. Eragon knew what was in them. There was a reason he didn't go down there.

The only visible remains of his mom were pictures on the wall in the living room.

It felt weird to live there. Brom had said it would be like a new start for them. But something just felt wrong. Something was missing.

A new scenery couldn't hide the loss.

-:-

The new school was smaller than the one in Theirnsford. There was rarely more than one class per grade. The primary school lay right next to the junior high building. The high school was close by, too. Eragon even knew where the college was.

The school as old, but it was well kept. Maybe it was only the exterior that seemed old. The air inside was fresh and the rooms and hallways were clean. Or maybe the staff actually cared there.

Everyone seemed really nice; nicer than they had been in Theirnsford, anyway. Eragon kept to himself. Saphira was his only friend and he preferred it that way. The less people that could hurt him the better.

Saphira had no problems making friends, though. She had always been very outgoing. She quickly got a bunch of friends, but seemed to stick to him the most.

Then there was this one guy. Eragon hadn't caught his name, but unlike the rest of Saphira's friends he actually addressed Eragon without looking awkward or even asking for permission.

Eragon didn't quite know what to make of him. He wasn't even sure he wanted to make something of the guy. Eragon wasn't supposed to notice guys.

His teachers were all right. A few of them tried to include him a lot because he was new, something Eragon didn't like. He didn't like to talk in front of people, especially people he didn't know.

The classes were the same he was used to. It was easy to just pretend he hadn't moved at all.

Only he had. His mom didn't pick him and Saphira up from school anymore.

Nothing was the same.

-:-

Eragon had protested when his dad wanted him to back to the shrink. The only reason he had given in was because Brom was his dad and he looked really tired. Eragon wanted to help him any way he could.

Also, Saphira had kind of guilt tripped him into going.

Angela's hair didn't look as bushy that day, though she was still wearing her huge glasses.

Eragon sat down and fiddled with his sleeves.

"Do you want anything to drink?"

He looked up. He wasn't actually thirsty, but if she was offering...

Eragon nodded.

Angela got up. "Water? Soda?"

Eragon looked down. Oh. He would have to verbally answer that question. "Water is ok," he whispered.

She walked over to a water cooler. Eragon heard the tank gurgle as Angela poured some water into a paper cup. Eragon accepted it when she handed it over.

Angela smiled at him and sat down behind her desk again.

Eragon looked down in the cup. He could feel the coolness of it through the cup. He took a small sip.

"Would you like to talk about your sister?"

Eragon licked his lips. Saphira was a safe subject. "Ok."

Angela nodded at him. "Her name is Saphira, correct?"

"Yeah," he said softly. "She's adopted, but that's ok. She's still my sister."

She nodded again. "How old is she?"

"Twelve."

Angela folded her hands and let them rest on the desk-top. "Like you?"

He nodded. Saphira was actually two months younger than him, but she was twelve too.

"And you get along fine?"

He nodded again.

"What about your dad? Do you want to talk about him?" she asked then.

Eragon looked down. He didn't want to talk about his dad. Brom had been really sad lately, but that was understandable. Eragon and Saphira were sad too.

"You don't have to," Angela said softly.

Eragon stayed silent.

"What classes do you take?"

Eragon took another sip of his water. "Normal ones."

"So, maths, English, P.E. and all that?"

Eragon nodded.

"Do you like them?"

He shrugged. It was just school. Were you supposed to like it?

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" she asked suddenly.

Eragon actually jolted. He looked up and blinked at her. He hadn't realised it had been silent until she had spoken.

"Do you know?" she continued. "It's ok if you don't. A lot of kids don't know what they want to be when they grow up."

Eragon looked down again. He didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, because he didn't know if he was going to grow up.

-:-

Eragon looked down at his hands. Night had fallen some time ago and he could hear his father snoring for his room. If looked out of his open door, he could see into Saphira's room. She slept with the door open voluntarily.

Eragon didn't.

He fiddled with his sleeves. He rarely wore short sleeves anymore.

Eragon bit down hard on his bottom lip. He grabbed his right sleeve with his left hand and slowly pulled it up. He chickened out as soon as he saw the top of the dark blue vein that ran down the middle of his forearm.

He couldn't look. Even now, he just couldn't.

-:-

Despite everything, Eragon rarely had nightmares. He missed those that he used to have. Gone were the goblins and trolls that wanted to take him. Now all he could dream about was his mom's pale face and empty eyes.

It was almost enough to make him want to end it.

-:-

Eragon looked up at the ceiling. It was nothing unusual about it. It was white, just like the walls. But he could lie down and look at the ceiling, and Eragon liked that.

Someone knocked on the doorframe. Eragon looked over.

Eragon did have a door, but he knew his dad liked it better when he kept it open. So he did. At least, for now.

Brom was looking around in the room. Eragon suddenly wanted to fiddle with his hands.

"You sure you don't want to paint it?" Brom asked.

Eragon pushed himself up. He pulled the sleeves over his hands. He shrugged in answer.

Brom sighed and pushed away from the doorframe. "Well, let me know, all right? The paint store isn't going to close anytime soon."

Eragon watched his dad walk away. He looked down at his hands.

Painting the room meant that they were staying. It meant that he was staying. Eragon wasn't sure if he was ready for that.

-:-

Eragon remembered his dad hanging up the pictures in the living room. When he wasn't in his room, he was on the couch watching TV or on the dining table doing homework with Saphira. It was easy to start to look around the room and notice all the differences.

The living room was smaller, but it had plenty of wall-space. Eragon knew the reason there were so few pictures was because of the people in them, not because of lack of space.

The family portrait was still there, though. Eragon often looked at his mom, the woman he looked nothing like but loved so much that –

He shook his head. He wasn't supposed to think about that anymore.

Next to that picture was his mom and dad's wedding photo. There had used to be a photo of her and the rest of her family next to that photo, but Brom hadn't hung it up.

There was a photo of Eragon and Saphira, but that was the last one with their family in them. The other pictures were shots that their mom had taken of scenery and the likes for her work or on vacations. Eragon could clearly remember the strap of the camera around her neck. She had scarcely walked around without any camera on her.

That was another thing that was out of place. There wasn't a dark room in the house. He couldn't hear his mom humming in there as she developed her pictures.

Sometimes everything was just wrong.

-:-

"How's my two fav people?"

Saphira giggled.

Eragon looked over. The guy behind her had crossed his arms on top of her head and was resting his chin on it. He was grinning widely.

"You're such a dork, Aksel."

If possible, Aksel's grin seemed to widen. "And don't'cha forget it."

Eragon looked away.

"Would it kill you to speak grammatically correctly?" Saphira asked seriously, though Eragon could hear the smile in her voice.

"Yup."

Eragon startled when Aksel suddenly was right in his face. He jumped back in his seat.

Aksel just smiled. "What's up, Aggie?"

Eragon blinked.

"That's a new one," Saphira said and shifted to face Aksel better.

"You like it? I came up with all by myself," Aksel said proudly.

Eragon tuned them out. He shifted in his seat to look out of the window. He looked out at the kids running around playing tag or throwing a ball around. He could almost hear their laughter and voices through the window glass. He pulled the sweater tighter around himself.

"Chemistry? Seriously?"

He blinked and looked over at the other two.

Aksel was nodding. "Totally. My Chem. teacher told us to memorize the periodic table, so I did; Aksel style."

Saphira crossed her arms and leaned them on her desk. "Which is?"

"Well, take Aggie for instance. Er; 68 Erbium. Ag; 47 Silver. O; 8 Oxygen. N; 7 Nitrogen. And tada, Eragon!"

Eragon could tell Saphira was trying not to smile. "And what about me?"

Aksel rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Sorry, Saph. Your name wasn't as kind to me, chemically wise. I got stuck after S for Sulfur."

Saphira pouted. "And here I thought you were my friend."

The other blond winked at her. "Sorry, Saph. Apparently my brain likes Aggie better," he said and ruffled Eragon's hair.

Eragon felt himself freeze at the touch, but Aksel didn't seem fazed.

"See ya later, friendies." Aksel waved and walked off.

Eragon could still feel the imprint of Aksel's hand on his head hours later.

-:-

Eragon could hear the rain hitting the window behind the shrink. They had been quiet for a while now.

Despite Eragon not wanting to, Saphira had managed to guilt trip him into going to every appointment Brom had booked. Eragon didn't see the point of them. He rarely talked and he couldn't see how they helped at all.

"Have you gotten any friends yet?"

He had, kind of. That was mostly because Saphira accepted the guy completely and he didn't want to leave Eragon alone or let him fade into the background, so Eragon didn't have a choice.

"Yeah, but he's more Saphira's friend than mine."

She gave him an encouraging smile. "Can you tell me about him?"

Eragon hid his hands inside his sleeves. "His name is Aksel. He's tall, blond and really loud."

Angela's smile widened. "Do you like him?"

His heart stopped beating. Eragon felt himself start to breathe a lot faster than normal. He had felt like this before –

Angela was over by his side in an instant. "Shhh. It's ok, Eragon. I didn't mean it like that."

Eragon clawed at his chest. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't breathe!

"Take a deep breath. You know you can," she said soothingly. "It's ok."

He shook. No, he couldn't. He couldn't breathe. He was choking!

Angela put a hand on his shoulder. Eragon gasped and felt air rush into his lungs. He started to cough.

"There, there. It's ok," she said softly. "It's going to be all right."

No, it wasn't. It was never going to be ok.

It was his fault. It was his fault that they were in Carvahall, his fault that the rest of his family hated them, his fault that mom was dead and that dad could never trust him again.

It was all his fault.

-:-

Eragon had appointments with Angela the same days as Brom. It was hard to wait for his dad to walk out, even with Saphira by his side as they waited.

The hardest part was seeing Brom walk out of the office. He looked so drained, so tired, that Eragon felt sick with guilt. He wanted to make it stop, he just didn't know how.

When it was his turn, Brom would grab Eragon's shoulder, squeeze it gently and tell him they would be out there waiting. Even though they always waited, Brom never failed to say those words.

Somehow that didn't make it any better.

-:-

Aksel had a big sister. She was fourteen and taller than all of them. The only thing Eragon recognised of Aksel about her was her green, green eyes. Apart from that, they were totally different. Arya had long black hair and fairer skin than her brother.

"Aren't you cute?" Arya said and bent down to look Eragon in the eyes.

Eragon felt himself blush. He hadn't been called cute before.

"Told ya," Aksel said and nudged his sister.

Arya rolled her eyes and planted a hand at her hip. "Well, coming from you, I was naturally a bit skeptic."

Aksel pouted at her.

"Come on. I'll show you how to really have fun," Arya said and put one arm around Eragon's shoulders and the other around Saphira's. "You've no doubt been missing out in the presence of my little bro."

"Oi!"

Saphira giggled which just caused Aksel to pout even more.

Eragon found himself thinking that life had been so much easier if he could develop a crush on her. As it was, he felt nothing. She was new and talking to him, which just made him feel weird. There was no tingling sensation people claimed to get when they got a crush on someone.

No, as it were, Eragon was more interested in how deep Aksel pout could be than the smell of Arya's hair.

He was going to hell and he knew it.

-:-

He was wearing a t-shirt to bed. His hands were clenched tightly into the material of his pyjama pants. He could see his knuckles turning white. The grip was starting to hurt.

He could do this. Angela wanted him to do this, but she didn't matter. His family mattered.

Eragon needed to see this. He needed the proof; the reason they were there.

His hands started to shake. Nausea started to build up in his chest.

Eragon ducked his head and bit back a sob. He couldn't do this.

-:-

"Holy – that guy is cute."

Eragon jolted. He looked over at Aksel in shock. Had the guy really said that?!

Aksel was looking at the other end of the school cafeteria. There was a slightly dreamy look in his eyes. His hand had stopped a few inches off the table surface, the sandwich in its grasp apparently forgotten.

Saphira rolled her eyes and stabbed into her salad with her fork. "Stop drooling, Aksel."

Eragon looked at her. She wasn't reacting. Well, she was, but not the way she was supposed to.

Saphira looked at him then. Her eyes flashed with worry. "Are you ok?" she mouthed.

Eragon looked away. He gave a shaky nod.

He had forgotten. Saphira was ok with ho- with that. Right.

"But Saph," Aksel whined. "He's really, really, really cute."

"I don't care if he looks like Johnny Depp. Stop staring, you perv."

Eragon looked down at his hands. They were shaking. He clasped them tightly and hid them under the table.

Suddenly he wasn't hungry anymore.

-:-

Eragon hadn't opened his mouth since the session had begun. Angela had asked him a few questions, but he had gotten away with shrugging or nodding his head.

He couldn't get what had happened at lunch out of his head.

"Is there something you want to talk about, Eragon?" Angela asked.

She had asked varieties of that question at least five times now. Eragon shook his head again.

Angela sighed. "I'm not here to judge you, Eragon. You can tell me anything."

But he didn't want to. He didn't want to tell her this.

He unclenched his hands. He had a small cut on his right index finger that had been bugging him all afternoon. It looked like a paper cut, but Eragon couldn't be sure.

"Do you want to talk about Saphira?"

Saphira. She supported him, supported this. She didn't care who people liked.

He shook his head. No, he didn't want to talk about her.

"Your father is very worried about you," Angela said softly.

Eragon flinched.

"So am I," she continued. "You haven't been this silent since you came here the first time."

He swallowed. His throat felt really dry, but he didn't want to ask for water. He didn't even want to open his mouth.

"Eragon," she sighed.

He didn't even look up.

Eragon left without having said a word or even looked at her.

-:-

"Does Aksel bother you?" Saphira asked when he came home.

Eragon flinched involuntarily. He had tried to sneak past her and lock himself in his room, but Saphira was sneakier. He hadn't even gotten past the living room before she caught him.

"No," he said and headed for his room.

Soft steps followed him, just like he had expected.

The brunet slipped into his room and headed over to his bed. The bed was located against the wall next to the window. Eragon always kept the blinds shut. Saphira opened them every now and then, but Eragon always shut them again.

He sat down on his bed and leaned against the corner where the headboard was. He grabbed his pillow and hugged it.

Saphira stopped in the doorway. For a minute she just looked at him before heading over. She sat down in front of him, but with enough space so that he didn't feel cornered.

"Does it bother you that he's open about his sexuality?"

He flinched again and hated himself for it.

Saphira nodded to herself. "I suspected as much. You've been really quiet since lunch."

Eragon looked down. He fiddled with the pillowcase.

"They're wrong, you know."

Eragon closed his eyes. He didn't want to talk about this. Couldn't she see that?

"I think mom was right." Eragon started to shake, but she pressed on. "If God loves everyone and created everyone the way they are for a reason, then they can't use the 'homosexuality is a sin and God hates sinners' excuse. I know that bible readers and stupid homophobes would correct me to my grave, but I don't care. It's what mom believed in, and that's enough for me."

Eragon wasn't listening to her anymore. It was a sin. It was wrong. Because he was a sinner, they had been punished. Mom had died in his stead. Couldn't Saphira see that?!

"I know that you don't believe that now," she said softly and touched his hair gently. Eragon nearly flinched out of her touch. "But I hope that you'll believe it someday. Mom would have wanted that."

Eragon didn't move.

Eventually she left him there. He didn't come down for dinner and fell asleep there, exhausted and shameful.

-:-

He woke up with someone snuggling him. He recognised Saphira's tussled locks immediately. It was hard not to when they were in his eyes.

Even though he was lying down, Eragon could still feel the stiffness in his neck. Someone had moved him after he fell asleep last night.

"She was very worried about you, you know."

Eragon jolted. Saphira thankfully didn't wake up.

Brom was standing in the doorway. Eragon instantly felt bad. There were visible circles under his eyes. Even though they had been living in Carvahall for almost six months, it was still tough for them all. Brom was always tired, Eragon refused to talk about his problems and Saphira desperately tried to keep the mood up.

"I'm sorry," Eragon whispered and looked away.

Brom sighed. "I worry too, son. If you can't even talk to her..."

"I talk to her," he protested weakly.

"Not about what is bothering you now," he said and leaned against the doorframe.

"I'm fine, dad."

Brom sighed again. "Breakfast in twenty minutes," he said and left.

Eragon lay there after he had left. Saphira continued to breathe in his ear.

He nudged her a few minutes later. "Saph. Breakfast."

Saphira's eyelashes fluttered. She peered at him groggily. "Hm?"

"Breakfast."

Saphira yawned. "Ok."

Eragon pulled away from her and got out of bed. He felt her eyes on his back as he walked out.

Even with ten minutes to spare before breakfast, he was still late.

-:-

The week passed agonisingly slowly, and yet it felt like he had just been to Angela's office.

"Your father is very worried about you," Angela said as an opening.

Eragon looked down at his hands. His throat felt very dry again.

He didn't speak at all during that session.

-:-

"How is school coming along?"

"Fine," he answered.

Angela smiled at him. She did that a lot.

"It's your birthday soon, correct?" she asked and righted her glasses. They kept sliding down her nose.

Eragon nodded. He was going to be thirteen. Last year he wasn't sure if he was going to be around for Christmas, and now he was turning thirteen.

"Do you have anything special planned?"

Eragon bit his bottom lip. He hadn't spent a birthday without his mother before. He couldn't even imagine what that would be like. It pained him that he even had to. He looked down and tried not to cry.

Realising that Angela was still waiting for an answer, he shook his head meekly. He didn't want anything special. He just wanted his mother back. He wanted everything go to back to the way it had been.

He wanted the impossible.

-:-

It was his birthday. He was turning thirteen. It was unbelievable.

Brom and Saphira had kept the affair short and simple. Eragon had been allowed to open one present before school. When they came home, Brom had managed to make Eragon's favourite for dinner and even bought a cake.

They all knew that Brom could cook but not bake.

After the cake, Eragon got to open the rest of his presents. Afterwards they had watched a film he had gotten from Saphira.

Now, as everyone had gone to bed an hour ago and only he was awake, Eragon was thinking.

He honestly hadn't thought he was going to experience his thirteenth birthday. The proof of that was on his skin. He was sure the guilt would take over and he would try again. But no, here he was.

Eragon fiddled with his hands. He had been there a while now. He wasn't sure if he wanted to leave anymore.

He wondered if it was ok that he wanted to stay.

-:-

Brom drove to Theirnsford on the anniversary of their mom's death. Eragon hadn't wanted to go, so Saphira had stayed behind too.

Eragon felt the guilt roll around in his stomach. He knew Saphira had wanted to go, but Eragon was just incapable of going back. He could still remember everything; the deafening silence, the pounding of his heart, the sheer agony in his entire body and then, seeing his mom hanging there, limp and unresponsive.

He couldn't go back to that. Not yet.

Maybe not ever.

-:-

Eragon continued to see Angela. He rarely spoke unless she practically forced him to.

Slowly he seemed to adapt to life in Carvahall. Very little happened, and that was fine with him.

When autumn hit, he was suddenly starting junior high. Eragon hadn't even realised he had been finishing his seventh and last year in primary school. Time just passed.

Aksel was still there, as well as Arya. They saw more of Arya now as they went to the same school. She took the three of them under her wing and taught them everything she knew. Though Eragon hadn't needed to know why he should stay away from the boy's room on the second floor.

He had hit a growth sprout during the summer, but he was still painfully short. Saphira was barely shorter than him and Aksel was a whole head taller than both of them.

Before he realised what was happening, it was October and it was the anniversary of the reason they had moved to Carvahall. He hadn't gone to school that day and Brom had let him stay at home without a fuss.

That day passed by painfully slowly. Eragon had barely moved from his bed since he had woken up and realised what day it was. Brom had managed to coax him out of his room long enough to get some dinner in him. Eragon had eaten it without even tasting it, then he had gone back to his room.

It was deadly silent in the house even though it was only 8 PM. Eragon looked down at his covered hands. The thin sweater he slept it was starting to get really frayed around the seams.

Eragon lay down and curled up. He held the covers firmly in his hands as he tried to curl up as much as possible. He stared at the wall and tried to block out the silence.

The brunet jumped when someone climbed into bed with him. The weight was slight, so it was definitely Saphira. He didn't turn around or straighten out.

Saphira lay down next to him with her front to his back. She put an arm over him and rested her forehead against the back of his neck.

Eragon bit his lip hard. Before he realised it, he was crying.

Saphira held him through the night without complain.

-:-

Junior high wasn't that different from primary school. The classes were basically the same and the people were usually the same. The most startling difference to Eragon was the sudden, practically over-night interest boys started to have in girls.

He felt sick. He would never have that. He had tried, but he knew he never would. And he was going to be damned for it.

Aksel didn't seem to share Eragon's notion of damnation. Even though the blond had hinted at it before, it was still a shock to see Aksel actually holding a guy's hand and smiling.

Eragon couldn't breathe. He ran away before he could be seen.

He didn't speak for the rest of the day. He couldn't. He could barely look at Angela, let alone open his mouth for anything other than to breathe.

It took him weeks to be able to look at Aksel without flinching. He knew he was worrying his family, but he couldn't stop. Whenever he closed his eyes, all he could hear was their voices. They were casting him out, damning him, wishing him dead in the place of his mom.

It didn't take him long to start believing them again.

-:-

Saphira was crying when she came into his room one day. Eragon was lying on his bed and scratching over his wrists.

"Please don't," she whispered and bit her lip not to sob out loud.

Eragon couldn't look at her.

"Don't you get it? I can't lose you too." She walked into the room and hovered by his bedside. "Neither of us can."

Eragon stopped scratching, but he still couldn't look at her. The skin felt inflamed under his fingertips.

She sat down on the edge of the bed. He sank his nails into his skin and tried not to cry out. He could feel his pulse throbbing.

"You don't have to act on your feelings, you know," she whispered. "If that's what it takes to keep you here, I'll say that. If you really believe that you'll be damned for this, then don't do anything about it. God can't damn you for something you've only felt but never done."

He closed his eyes tightly and turned his face away from her.

"We would fall apart without you. I can't let you do this to yourself."

"But I don't deserve to be alive," he whispered.

Saphira slapped his arm. He jolted and stared at her in shock.

"Don't you dare!" she hissed. Her eyes were red and her cheeks were still wet. "What happened is in the past. Nothing you do will change that. What we need is to get past this together. We need you, you idiot."

Eragon just stared at her.

Saphira grabbed his hands and pulled them towards her. She didn't look at them as she pulled him out of bed.

"Come on. God knows what you've done to yourself since you came home."

Eragon let himself be pulled into the bathroom. The only thing he felt was the throb from his skin under Saphira's fingertips.

-:-

"I'm sorry I've been so distant lately," he said, but the words felt hollow. He didn't look at them as he spoke.

"Hey, it's cool, man. We all have our off days," Aksel said and patted his shoulder.

Eragon was acutely aware of the absence of Aksel's fingers running through his hair.

"As long as you feel better, it's ok," Arya said and he could practically feel her smile at him.

Eragon didn't say anything. He didn't feel anything; certainly not better.

-:-

Angela looked at him knowingly. Eragon felt the nausea start to build up.

"I'm glad to see you here today, Eragon."

He didn't answer.

"Are you ready to talk about it?"

He shook his head firmly.

"That's all right." He heard her make a few notes. "Is there anything you want to talk about?"

Eragon shook his head again. He didn't want to talk. He wanted to go home.

"That's fine too, though I do wish you'd talk to me," she said gently.

He swallowed.

"I'll see you next week," Angela said and it sounded like she was certain she would.

Eragon wasn't as certain. He wondered if he ever would be.

-:-

The three years of junior high passed by at their own pace. At least there Eragon had a set schedule. It helped him relax a bit. At home time seemed to move too fast or too slow.

He continued to see Angela, as did Brom. Eragon could slowly see the weight disappear from his dad's shoulders, though the haunted look hadn't quite disappeared yet.

Eragon properly celebrated his fourteenth birthday. Saphira had insisted. Suddenly he had friends that could come and celebrate with him, even if it was only Aksel and Arya.

He dealt with his mom's second anniversary similarly to the first. He knew in his heart he wasn't ready to see her grave yet. He couldn't look on the headstone and see her name. It was enough to know she wasn't coming back. He couldn't deal with the physical proof of it.

Saphira stayed firmly by his side when October came around. Eragon let her. He even thanked her for it. He felt slightly better this time around, though she slept in his bed again that year.

He had gotten more used to his friends now, though he was still edgy around Aksel. He couldn't stop. He didn't know if he ever could.

Turning fifteen wasn't very different from turning fourteen. He was finally starting to get a bit taller, and even managing to grow quicker than Saphira. Though, when his voice cracked, he wished the whole puberty part would just end.

He started to hate himself a little more. Puberty meant hormones and he felt himself die a little more inside every time he looked at boys. He could barely look at Aksel anymore.

He continued to scratch his wrists, though he had gotten better at hiding it.

Despite all this, Eragon urged Saphira to go with their dad when their mom's anniversary came around again. She objected, but Eragon insisted. He promised to stay with Aksel and Arya. Saphira kept calling him on the way over to check on him. Eragon answered her every time and insisted that he was fine. He really wasn't, but he knew she needed this. He could sacrifice his own comfort for her sake. He owed her that much.

He wanted her to trust him again.

-:-

Eragon looked at his walls one day in January. They still hadn't taken down all the Christmas decorations. Brom had grumbled and said something about Christmas lasting all the way to Easter, so why bother? Saphira had just giggled.

Eragon normally didn't really notice the white walls, but that day he did. They were screaming at him. He stepped out of the room slowly and walked back into the living room.

Saphira was humming as she took down the Christmas lights hanging in the windows. She danced along to whatever tune she was listening to on the radio. Eragon couldn't recognise it.

Brom was sitting on the couch, nose buried deeply in the newspaper. He looked up and grunted when he saw Saphira at work.

Eragon bit his lip. He fiddled with the zipper on his hoodie. "Dad?"

Brom lowered the newspaper to look at him. Eragon vaguely noticed the difference in how his dad looked at Saphira as opposed to himself. "What is it, son?"

Saphira looked over. She continued to gently twirl the cord into a nice round shape that would most likely be as unmanageable as always come December.

Eragon hesitated. "...Can I still paint the walls in my room?"

The room was silent except for the tinny voice coming out of the radio.

Suddenly there was a flurry of movement and Eragon found himself hugged tightly to his dad's chest. The newspaper crinkled as it landed on the floor in a heap. "Of course, Eragon," he said throatily. "Whatever colour you want."

Saphira walked over. "Dad. You're going to going to squeeze him flat." Eragon could tell that she was trying to sound teasing, but she wasn't quite pulling it off.

Brom pulled back, but kept his hands on Eragon's shoulders. Eragon couldn't see the dark circles under his eyes anymore. He was radiating. "Come on. We can go now."

Eragon was pulled out of the house in a hurry. Saphira snuggled up to his side in the car, and he found that he didn't mind. Brom kept looking at them in the rear mirror.

As he sat there, he almost felt like smiling.

-:-

A week later, the room was painted sky blue. Brom had asked him if he wanted that colour, but Eragon was certain. It reminded him a little of his old room, and yet not. It was a different shade. He really liked it.

Now it felt like home.

-:-

Eragon hated himself. There was no if or but about it. He hated himself.

Aksel looked so happy. He was talking about how his crush since forever had finally asked him out and while he knew the age difference between them was huge for kids their age, neither of them cared.

Aksel's crush. A boy. No, Loke was eighteen. Compared to their sixteen years, he was a man.

Aksel was dating a man.

And Eragon couldn't handle it.

-:-

For once, Eragon wasn't the only one that didn't approve of Aksel's boyfriend.

"He's too old for you," Saphira said with a frown. "You know boys that age expect certain things."

"Loke isn't like that," Aksel said and grinned dreamily. "He understands that I'm not ready for that."

Saphira clearly wasn't convinced, and neither was Arya.

"I don't like the vibe he give off," Arya said and crossed her arms. "You know your mother wouldn't either, if you actually introduced her to him."

"Well, it's a l'il too early to be makin' parental introductions, me thinks," Aksel said and rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "We haven't been goin' out for long."

"You shouldn't have been going out with him at all!" Arya scowled. "Are there no good looking guys your own age?"

Eragon blocked them out. He focused on his hands and tried to will them to stop shaking already.

-:-

Eragon knew he was being a terrible friend. Even after everything, he couldn't relax around Aksel.

Aksel. He was proud of who he was. He was comfortable. He could hold hands with his boyfriend and smile. Eragon had to stand back and try not to vomit.

He was a freak. That had been drummed into him from a very young age. He could still remember his aunt and uncle droning on and on about the sins around the world. Homosexuality was a subject they loved to slaughter.

But Aksel wasn't a freak. He was weird, sure, but he was also happy. Aksel could smile and laugh and be himself.

Eragon couldn't do any of those things. He could just run in the other direction when the issue came up.

He was a coward. He hated himself.

Four years later and he still hadn't gotten anywhere.

Eragon closed his eyes and tried to pretend he wasn't crying.

-:-

Aksel had been with Loke for almost a year. Eragon had kept count. It had been ten months, two weeks and four days since Aksel had announced the relationship. It was a long relationship for kids their age, or so he could guess from the reactions of his peers.

Eragon could barely stand himself. How could he stand to be with someone else?

Lately, he had begun to notice changes in Aksel. The blond was still energetic and happy, but there were moments when it didn't feel right. It was almost like Aksel was forcing it.

Eragon hated that he couldn't bring himself to ask Aksel about it. He could just watch his friend rub his wrists and smile just a little too widely.

He pretended he didn't notice the behaviour and prayed Saphira would notice it soon.

-:-

Saphira noticed it a few days later, when she turned seventeen. Aksel hadn't been 'able' to get out as much. Eragon crawled out of his room more often than Aksel these days.

It just wasn't right.

On her birthday, Aksel had to leave early. He claimed he wanted to see Loke off before he went back to college on Sunday, but Eragon knew better. 'Friends before boyfriends', Aksel had said once.

"Something is wrong," Saphira said when Aksel had left.

Eragon clamped his hands around his own wrists. His tongue felt thick. He couldn't speak.

"I'll talk to him tomorrow," Arya said, though she looked worried as well.

Eragon went to his room after faking a headache. He curled up under the covers and tried not to imagine.

Aksel wasn't like that. Aksel was fine. Aksel didn't believe in God and damnation.

Aksel wouldn't try to end his life.

But something was wrong. Something was deeply wrong.

And it hurt that he cared.

-:-

It came forward a few days later.

"That son of a bitch was hurting Aksel!" Arya ranted.

Eragon felt dizzy with nausea. He had seen the signs. He had seen the signs and he hadn't done anything. He could have done something. He should have done something.

He was a coward.

"I can't believe it," Saphira breathed.

"I can," Arya seethed. "But don't worry. I'll make sure the bastard never gets near my baby brother again."

Saphira bit her lip. "How is he?"

Eragon needed to escape. He couldn't listen to this.

People like him were punished. If someone like Aksel couldn't find a good boyfriend, then no one could. Homosexuals weren't meant to be happy.

Maybe they weren't meant to be.

"He's been better." Arya sunk down in a chair and put her head in her hands. "I can't believe he kept this from me."

Saphira was silent. Eragon knew she was looking at him.

He couldn't take this. He got up and left before anyone could say anything.

-:-

It took Eragon a full week to be able to face Aksel.

"Hey man," Aksel said and gave a weak grin.

Eragon felt nauseated. Aksel wasn't even pretending anymore.

"Why didn't you..." He couldn't finish. He felt like was going to vomit or pass out, or both.

Aksel sat down gently.

Eragon had never noticed that before. When he thought back, he could remember Aksel being less inclined to throw himself at people or hug someone tightly. He had even stopped being as physically active.

They had all been blind.

"I guess I didn't want anyone to think I was weak," the other said.

Eragon hated the serious tone of Aksel's voice. It wasn't Aksel.

"You aren't weak." I'mweak, he thought to himself.

Aksel rubbed the back of his neck. The bruises around his wrists were still healing. The green tone was making Eragon even more nauseous.

"Well, I couldn't come clean. What does that tell you?"

Eragon looked down at his hands. His own arms were covered. He couldn't show them off. Even Aksel could do that.

"You didn't want people to know," he whispered.

Aksel didn't comment. The wind rustled past them, whispering things to itself.

"Why didn't you leave?"

Aksel let out a soft laugh. It sounded nothing like him. Eragon wanted the old Aksel back. This person, this wounded thing, wasn't Aksel.

"By the time he showed his demons, I was in too deep. I really liked the guy, y'know? At the end there, I was scared to leave him. I was scared of what he'd do if I did."

Eragon scratched at his wrists through the sweater.

Silence passed between them. The park was unusually quiet for a Saturday afternoon.

"I should have told someone."

Aksel startled. "Wha?"

Eragon forced himself to look at his friend. "I knew. I saw it. I knew something was going on."

Aksel's eyes were big and green. There was a faint mark on his throat. It was almost the same shade as his eyes.

"But I couldn't. That would have meant telling everyone that I was broken too, because I could see it when they couldn't," he whispered and looked away. His throat felt dry and his eyes itched.

"Dude," Aksel murmured. "You're not broken."

"I am," Eragon insisted. "You know that. Everyone knows that."

"No, man."

Eragon closed his eyes. He didn't speak. He couldn't.

"I'm sorry," he whispered finally.

He left and didn't see Aksel for several days.

-:-

In the end, it was Aksel that sought him out. He came to their house and demanded that they'd talk.

Eragon wasn't able to tell him then. He might never. He apologised again, even though the bruises on his skin were gone by now.

Aksel forgave him. Somehow that made it all worse.

Eragon had to question God sometimes. If people like Aksel were damned and people that judged and hated someone without knowing them went to heaven, then...

Then life was more fucked up than he had ever imagined.

-:-

Eragon was eighteen. He was legal. He could drink, drive and have sex.

For some reason, none of these things appealed to him.

He stared down at his hands on his birthday. Over the last year, his relationship with Aksel had finally started to mend. They finally felt almost like friends.

He had finally started to feel like himself, whoever that might be.

He grabbed his sleeves and slowly pulled them up. He stared down at his scars without blinking.

That was where he had taken his father's razor and tried to end his life six years ago. He had slit the skin and hoped to die as he sobbed his heart out.

He brushed a thumb over the scars on his right wrist. They were the most jagged ones, as he was right handed. It had nearly been impossible to do it; his hands had been shaking that badly. But somehow he had managed it in the end.

Eragon counted three scars on his right wrist and two on his left. They were not evenly spaced or even the same length. Some were deeper than the others, some more healed than others.

He took a deep breath and let it out. He needed this. He needed to let it out.

He was ready.

-:-

A week later, Eragon told his two best friends and Saphira what had happened six years ago. Saphira had cried, Arya had stared in shock, Aksel had hugged him when he finished speaking.

Somehow, he felt lighter. His wrists no longer itched.

He still couldn't look at Aksel quite right, but he didn't mind being touched by him anymore.

He was getting somewhere. Angela would be proud when he told her.

He was still not ready to be the boy, the man he could be, but he was getting there. Maybe someday.

-:-

"I'm proud of you, Eragon," Angela said fondly. "I mean it."

Eragon scratched the back of his hand. He tried not to touch his wrists too often, but he didn't feel compelled to wear sweaters everywhere anymore.

"You still have some way to go, but you've made a lot of progress in the last year," she said and smiled. "I'm still a little shocked you told your friends. I thought that would take longer."

"It was Aksel," he said and clasped his hands in his lap. "When we found out, he wore his bruises in plain sight. He thought he was weak, but he wasn't. He's actually really strong. I...I guess I felt like it was my turn to be strong."

She smiled secretively. "Why don't we cut this short today? I think you've deserved a treat."

-:-

His father was proud when he heard what he had done. Eragon still ached from the hug a few days afterwards.

Eragon knew he had come a long way, but it was still rather surreal. He felt like he actually had a place in this world. He didn't know what that place was or where he was going, but he wanted to find out.

He still blamed himself. He doubted he would stop anytime soon. He could still see his mother's vacant gaze in his nightmares.

He still felt awkward around boys. Knowing his luck, he probably always would.

But he felt slightly more comfortable now. Aksel was pursuing a new boy, one that was their age, and Eragon actually felt something akin to happiness for Aksel's sake.

Aksel deserved a proper boyfriend.

And, if this guy was a creep as well, Eragon knew he wouldn't hesitate to tell the others before it got too far.

-:-

High school somehow drew to a close. With everything that had happened over the last three years, it was almost surreal that so much time had passed. Some days it felt like no time had passed at all, some days it felt like surely a decade had flown by.

Eragon looked at himself in the window. His computer was sitting on the bed in front of him. The screensaver had been going on for quite some time now. He saw the pictures slowly change out of the corner of his eye.

Eragon had a lot to think about. High school was over. He needed to figure out what he wanted to do with his future.

He bit at his thumb nail and turned back to his laptop. The picture of him, Saphira and Brom on holiday in Surda changed to a snapshot of him, Saphira and Aksel. Aksel had an arm around them both and pulled them against him. There was a wide grin on his face.

Eragon had gone through a lot of emotions when it came to Aksel. He could still remember how he had felt when he first met the blond. Aksel was very energetic, almost to the point where he was tiring. He always had a smile on his face. Nothing seemed to bring him down.

Then Loke had happened.

That name would always bring a sour taste to Eragon's mouth. If he looked closely enough, he could see a hint of a bruise on Aksel's face in the picture.

But Loke was gone now. Eragon wasn't sure how, but he wouldn't be surprised if it involved Arya and the shotgun her father kept in the house. He had taught Arya how to use it, after all.

Eragon had started off feeling wary of Aksel. He had just been too much. Too happy, too accepting and too nice. Then Aksel had announced his homosexuality. Eragon had nearly pushed Aksel out of his life. But slowly, with the help of Saphira, he had looked away from Aksel's sexuality and just gotten to know the guy behind all the spatztic behaviour and flailing movements. Beneath everything, Aksel was a good guy with a big heart.

And now, when Eragon had seen how easily Aksel managed to pick himself up and not let one bad relationship ruin everything, he envied Aksel.

Eragon touched the mousepad and the laptop whirred back to life. He clicked on the internet link and logged into his online college applications. He stared screen. He had memorized what it said already. Your application to Carvahall University College has been ACCEPTED. Click O to ACCEPT the spot and X to CANCEL.

He licked his lips. Saphira knew what she wanted to do with her life. Hell, even Aksel knew.

Eragon did not.

He closed the window and searched up the local airport.

-:-

Eragon felt amazing. His cheeks felt stiff from smiling and he hadn't been so tanned in his life.

The trip had been amazing. Sure, it had been scary too, but mostly amazing. He had seen new cities, met new people and seen extraordinary things. After two weeks of travelling, he had gotten used to the pace, even gotten used to being alone.

He knew he hadn't felt ready for college. Eragon wasn't sure who he was yet, so how could he know what he wanted to do with his life?

After three months around the continent, he felt like he knew where he was going.

Eragon grabbed his bag and stepped out onto the arrivals. He looked around and tried to spot his family.

When a blond blur nearly tackled him to the floor, he knew he had been spotted first.

"I should strangle you where you stand!" Saphira said and hugged him tightly. "You goof."

Eragon pushed her back gently. "It's good to see you too, Saph."

Saphira had changed, he realised suddenly. Her hair was longer and just a hint lighter, telling of many hours spent out in the sun. But she was still herself.

She narrowed her eyes and slapped his arm, thankfully not with intent behind it. His sister knew how to pack a punch when she wanted to hurt someone. "I cannot believe you just ran off like that! Three months, Eragon. Three months!"

He bit his lip. "I'll tell you all about it?"

She rolled her eyes and pulled him along. "Come on. Dad is waiting by the car."

-:-

Eragon had felt like a student being sent to his principal's office when Brom had driven him to Angela for the first time after this trip. He left feelings much better. Angela had talked him through his trip and the decision to go. She made him understand that it really had been the right decision for him. He probably should have planned a little better and given his friend and family a better heads-up, but the trip had clearly done him good.

As his dad drove him home, Eragon couldn't help but to feel confident for the first time in his life.

He headed into the house ahead of Brom. He called for Saphira.

Saphira hurried out of her room. There was a pen behind her ear and her hair was almost falling out of the bun she had put it up in.

Eragon sat down on the couch. He motioned for her to join him.

Saphira did so silently. Brom looked ready to leave them be before Eragon motioned for him to come over as well.

Some of the confidence from before was starting to ebb away. He was so nervous he almost felt sick.

But he knew it was time. He was ready.

He could do this.

"Dad, Saphira," he forced out and took a deep breath. "I'm gay."

Silence reigned before Saphira all but threw herself at him and hugged him tightly. Eragon was a little surprised to notice that she was shaking.

Brom placed a hand on Eragon's head and ruffled his hair gently. "I'm proud of you, son."

And as Saphira nodded and said the same words through her sniffles, Eragon found that that was all he needed to know.

-:-

Eragon couldn't believe it. He had just admitted to Angela that he was thinking of asking a guy out. It was really weird to think about. He had only been able to identify himself as homosexual and not want to punish himself the year before. Now, at nineteen, he was starting to think about dating.

Angela smiled at him. "I'm really proud of you, Eragon," she told him fondly. "Who is the lucky guy?"

Eragon blushed. While it was nice that she was proud of him, it was still weird to talk to her about his sex life. Not that he was going to have sex with the guy! He wasn't ready for that, hell no!

"It's a friend of Thorn," Eragon forced himself to say. He could do this. He could talk about his dating life. "Baldor."

Angela's eyes were twinkling. "You'll have to let me know how it goes."

Eragon's blush deepened.

Angela laughed merrily. "Not in detail, of course. It's all up to you."

Somehow, hearing that didn't help at all.

The session ended soon after that. Angela let him go after giving him a hug. She had started to do that every time he did something she was proud of.

Eragon fiddled with his zipper as he walked to the door. He hoped two weeks would be enough for the embarrassment to die down. But if he knew his friends well, then even two years wouldn't be enough.

Eragon looked up just as he stepped out into the reception. His heart stopped beating when he looked over to the waiting area.

There was only one word to describe the man sitting there, and that was stunning. If Eragon had been more stereotypical gay, he could even have called him beautiful. All he could see was dark hair and slightly turned down face, but that was enough. Without knowing why, Eragon could feel himself being pulled in.

The man was obviously troubled. His shoulders were tense and his posture screamed of discomfort. Eragon found himself wanting to go over there and soothe him.

The brunet blushed at that. What was he doing? This was a total stranger! He was leaving now before he made a fool out of himself.

The other man looked up then. Eragon felt the air leave his lungs as he found himself staring into a turbulent ocean of hazel and green. He quickly realised that he had been spotted and ran off without looking back.

-:-

Eragon's life was never the same again.

-:-

The End


And that is Antivirus everybody. I hope you enjoyed!

If the flow seems a little wonky in the last third-ish part of the story, that is because this was originally two separate chapters. I decided to put them together and make this into a stand-alone because I really did want to get something out today, as my birthday gift to myself, and because this is something I've been meaning to post for a while.

In other words, happy birthday me. Have some fun stressing over the edits you made last minute. Woot!

On another note; here's a little info dump about the Carvahall I've imagined. I base a lot of what I write on things that I'm familiar with. For instance, a lot of things have been digitalised in my country. That means that, while we send out applications in the mail and online, we get our "acceptance" letter in an online "mailbox". We get the envelope with information about the school and such only after we've accepted the spot at whatever college/university we've gotten into.

Also, in case you're wondering, counselling in certain places is free here. There are clinics you can go to where children under the age of 18 can get free session with psychologists/physiatrists. I have decided to apply this when it comes to Angela's office. Counselling for Saphira and Eragon has therefore been free while Brom has been forced to pay for it.

And that is all for now.

As always, you can find me on Tumblr. I reblog lots of things, and sometimes rant about my life and my stories. I will post update information there, and maybe even say something about what I'm currently doing with my (weird) life. My username is the same as here on FFnet. ;)