kay_brooke: A field of sunflowers against a blue sky (summer)
kay_brooke ([personal profile] kay_brooke) wrote in [community profile] rainbowfic2017-07-08 10:43 pm

Argent #26, Rain Cloud #19, Silver Screen #4

Name: [personal profile] kay_brooke
Story: Unusual Florida
Colors: Argent #26 (united), Rain Cloud #19 (tripped), Silver Screen #4 (Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.)
Styles/Supplies: Frame
Word Count: 1,321
Rating/Warnings: PG-13; no standard warnings apply.
Summary: Something is bothering Charles.
Note: A follow-up to that time Charles found out his nephew had super powers. Constructive criticism is welcome, either through comments or PM.

She could hear him thinking.

Charles had gotten back from his sister's late that evening, missing dinner. He'd mumbled something about being tired, then crawled into bed much earlier than he normally would. Allison wasn't sure what was wrong with him. His sister was exhausting, it was true, but she shouldn't have even been home. The only reason Charles had gone over there in the first place was to take care of something she'd forgotten before leaving on vacation.

Also, he wasn't sleeping. When Allison went to bed later that night, her husband was on his side, eyes tightly shut, breathing soft and even. But Allison knew Charles enough to know that was a show for her benefit. She didn't say anything, just got into bed and told herself that pretending sleep would probably lead to actual sleep, and she shouldn't worry about it. She told herself that until almost one in the morning, when she found herself still wide awake, tense and waiting for Charles to drop off, which he didn't.

"Okay," she said, sitting up.

Charles mumbled sleepily, as much a show as his display earlier had been.

"Stop," she said. "I know you're not sleeping. You know how I know that? Because I'm not sleeping. I can't sleep while I'm worried about you, so you might as well tell me what's bothering you so we're both not zombies in the morning."

There was a long silence, and Allison rolled her eyes, thinking Charles was going to keep up the charade anyway. Then he said, "Nothing's bothering me."

"Something is bothering you," Allison corrected. "You come back from your sister's, you go without dinner, you barely say two words to your family before you go hide under the bed covers. Something's bothering you. Or you're sick."

"I'm not sick." Charles rolled over so that he was on his back, eyes wide open and staring at the ceiling. He didn't look at Allison. "I just had a weird day."

"Was she home?" Allison asked. There was some part of her that hadn't really believed Sherri would go on a cruise. She was too much of a penny pincher, and though she lived in her own house now, her mother still watched over her like a hawk. "Did she lie about her vacation?"

Charles huffed out in amusement. "No, she was gone. Why else would she want me to go over there? It wasn't to visit. I don't think she even remembers I exist unless she needs something."

Allison couldn't argue with that.

"But Philip was home," said Charles, too casually.

"I thought you said he was spending the summer on campus."

"That's what Sherri told me," said Charles. "Because that's what he told her."

Allison pursed her lips. "So he's...what? Crashing at his own house in secret while his mom's out of town?"

"Something like that," said Charles. "He's spending the summer couch surfing, apparently. I don't like it. I told him he could stay with us." That last said almost questioningly, as if at the last second he realized he hadn't even asked his wife if that was okay. But Allison didn't say anything, so he continued. "But he turned me down. He's just at the house until Sherri comes back, then he'll be off somewhere else."

"And?" she prompted, because she didn't think Charles's sleeplessness was caused by his adult nephew's choice of summer vacation.

"And," he said carefully, letting the word hang in the air. "And so I saw something."

"Did it involve drugs or sex?" She could imagine a myriad of things Charles might have walked in on a nineteen-year-old boy who thought he had the place completely to himself doing.

Now Charles's snort was closer to laughter, which was a little better. "Neither." Another long silence.

"Out with it," she said.

"He's like me," he finally said. "I saw him...appear."

"Oh." That was, to be honest, about the last thing Allison had expected to hear. But the implications started working their way through her brain almost immediately. "So that means..."

Charles was nodding. He'd realized the same thing, and Allison was beginning to understand why he'd been thinking so hard. She would have been, too. Hell, she might still. "He didn't get it from me, obviously. So who?"

"Someone else in your family," said Allison. "Your sister, your parents. Probably not his dad. That'd be one hell of a coincidence."

"I thought something happened to me," said Charles quietly. "That summer when it happened. I thought something changed me. But this--"

"You didn't change," said Allison, which was what she had suspected all along, if she was being frank. "It was always there. It just...turned on." Like it had for Katie.

"Yeah." Charles ran a hand down his face and stopped at his neck, resting the fingers there as if he'd forgotten what he was going to do. "Which also probably means someone else in my family can do it and they never told anyone."

"To be fair, you really haven't, either."

"Well, Hope knows," he said. "And now Philip. But he said he hasn't told anyone else. He kind of freaked out when he realized I was there, before I tried to explain my situation."

She pried his hand away from his neck and held it.

"But who?" he said. "I just can't imagine Sherri or either one of my parents...they're just so intolerant, you know? There's no nuance in the world to them, everything has to be in its neat little categories and anyone who strays from that needs to be beaten back inside."

"That doesn't necessarily mean anything," said Allison. "And it has to be one of your parents. Or maybe one of your grandparents. Maybe one of your parents is like Dominic and can't actually do it themselves, but." She didn't need to say the rest.

"My grandparents are in short supply," said Charles ruefully. "I only have one grandmother left, and I barely even know her. I wouldn't dare ask either of my parents."

"Maybe your uncle knows something?" If it came from his mom's side, anyway.

"Maybe," he said. "How would you even start that conversation, though? If he doesn't know anything, I'll just look like I'm crazy."

"This is why family should talk to each other," she said. But wasn't she a hypocrite? Her parents had always told her she could come to them with anything, and she knew she didn't have to fear the kind of judgment Charles's parents would give him. But she still hadn't ever told them about what happened with Jordan, even though now it was nothing more than a brief unpleasant memory.

"Families like yours," he said, making her feel even more guilty. "Other families...you just have to keep certain things a secret. Sherri got pregnant in high school and was kicked out of the house. Hope was disowned for dating a woman. My dad was so disappointed in how we turned out he ran off and we never heard from him again. How is a family like that supposed to be open with each other, when they know their love is so conditional?"

"Well, you can't fix the past," said Allison, because she didn't know what else to say. "All you can do is try to be better going forward. I hope you told Philip he could come to you with questions."

"I did," said Charles, "even though I don't have any answers."

"But at least he knows there's someone he can talk to. That can be an answer in itself."

"I suppose."

"Will you sleep now, please?" Allison said. "I know you have tomorrow off, but I have to go in in the morning."

"I can go downstairs," he said guiltily.

"I'm not kicking you out of bed," said Allison. "But it's okay, you know. You can sleep."

"I'll try," he said.

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