A Brother's Love Ch. 05byethereal_dancer©
18th May 2000
A mile or so from the Howard's farm
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Lena bit down on her lip to stop herself from crying. She brushed the hair back from her face with a muddy hand and took a deep breath. The tree's either side of her were so dark and they blocked the light of the moon from reaching the little dirt path where she sat.
She was aware of her own stubbornness and how it got her into trouble more often than not, but as she looked around at her situation, she felt this might be pushing a new limit.
She and Matt had fought again. Well, nothing new there. They were always fighting just lately. It had been her fault this time too. She'd wanted to take out her upset on someone and goading Matt was just so easy; he always took the bait and got all riled up. Then she'd told him she wasn't going to college and he'd really flipped. He'd shouted and called her names; she'd called him names in return; she'd even thrown her shoes at him; then he'd disappeared into nothing in that infuriating way only ghosts could. She hadn't seen him since.
She'd sat up on the smooth surface of the great, rocky mound they'd dubbed 'the watchtower' and felt the pang of his absence after he'd gone. She didn't want to be alone; she wasn't sure why she kept attacking the people closest to her. All she knew was that when they were there, it was somehow worse; having them close and still feeling so alone made her heart ache so badly that all she wanted to do was push them away.
She was sure Kit had come looking for her; she'd heard footsteps coming towards her, closing in on her little hideout up there on the watchtower. A sense of panic had overcome her and she'd bolted, not even reasonable enough to find her shoes before running away.
So now she sat, cold and barefoot on the side of the little dirt path, one ankle starting to swell from where she'd fallen over a tree root in the dark. She could hardly see a thing around her, just limbs of tree's and shadows that loomed and shifted in her vision. She wasn't scared; she didn't think there was anything in the night that could hurt her, but she was cold and sore and she wasn't sure how she was going to get home.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
She looked down at her bare feet, pale shapes in the darkness and was thankful it hadn't rained recently; the ground was dirty and she was certain her clothes were pretty filthy, but at least there wasn't too much mud and she was dry.
In an attempt to stand, she shuffled herself a little to the left and managed to grab hold of small tree trunk. She gripped it tightly with one hand and used the other to push herself up from the floor. She swore quietly and bit down on her lip again as the touched her foot to the ground. Pain shot up through her calf and Lena winced, digging her nails into the tree. She took a deep breath and looked around, trying to see in the darkness.
She wasn't too far from home, she knew that much, but the moonlight wasn't lighting up the little path as well as she'd hoped, blocked behind the tree canopies, and Lena wasn't sure how much further she could go with only one fully functioning leg.
"Well, you've got to do something, Lena." she told herself quietly. She'd got herself into this mess after all and she needed to harden up if she was going to get herself out again.
She reached for the nearest limb of a tree and tested it's strength. Then, leaning her weight on it for support, she carefully took a step. The pain was sharp but not unbearable, so she tried again, and again, shuffling forward in slow, painful steps.
Her breath was soon coming in short gasps, the effort of it more than she'd anticipated. The pain in her ankle was itching to make her yelp. It was getting really cold out too, the weather in Maine at a low for the season. Lena, without a coat on, shivered and her fingers began to numb.
She reached for the next tree limb, but a flash in the distance distracted her and she slipped, jarring her ankle painfully as she stumbled and fell to the ground. She missed smacking her head on a tree by a few inches.
"Shit!" She hissed, screwing her eyes up tight and pressed her hands into the dirt where she'd fallen. She could feel tears well in her eyes, but refused to let them out. With some effort, she pushed herself upright and dusted off her hands, then raised her eyes to where she'd seen the flash.
It was then she heard footsteps too; the unmistakable sound of someone slowly making their way along a forest path; all rustles and crunches. She held her breath, instinct telling her to be still.
"Lena? Lena, where are you?" Kit's voice was calling her name and nothing had ever sounded so good. She saw the flashes then and knew he must be carrying a torch; the light weaved and flashed, coming closer.
Lena's voice still caught in her throat, so relieved to see him, so desperate to run away, even now.
Her sense eventually won out and she spoke softly into the night. "I'm here, Kit. I'm right here."
Kit flashed the torch in the direction of her voice and his footsteps stilled as he took in the sight of her. She was crumbled on the ground, her legs bent at the knee in front of her, showing naked, dirty feet and what looked like a swollen ankle; her face was turned towards him, pale in the torchlight and though she squinted against the bright light, he could see the unshed tears in her eyes. Her hair was messy, as though she'd ran her fingers through it a thousand times, and there was dirt on her cheek, her knees, her hands and her feet. Some small part of him was annoyed that she left the house without a coat; how many times had he told her not to do that? How many times had she told him not to worry, that she'd be fine?
He lowered the torch and met her gaze. His heart broke as he saw the look she held. He knelt beside her and removed his coat, draping it around her shoulders without saying a thing. He didn't trust himself to speak. There was so much he wanted to say, so many things he should have been saying to her all along.
Instead, he pushed the hair from her face with careful fingers and held her gaze in his, unconsciously wiping away the dirt that was trying to impair her beautiful face. His thumb traced her bottom lip; it trembled beneath his touch.
Her voice was small when she spoke; "I tripped over a tree root...I think I twisted my ankle and then I fell and..." the tears welled in her eyes once more and she swallowed hard, pushing them back.
Kit took her in his arms, carefully pulling her body into his lap and held her tight. She felt small when he held her, like she was born to curl up into a ball in his arms and stay there forever. Holding her felt so right.
He kissed the top of her head and let the silence stretch out. He wanted to ask if she was okay, but it was a stupid question. He wanted to ask if she could walk at all, but he didn't want her to try; he'd carry her home. He looked down at her body, tight against his chest and asked the only question he could think of that made any sense;
"Lena...where are your shoes?"
Lena groaned and buried her face in his chest. "I threw them at Matt's head." she said, her voice muffled by his body. Kit burst out laughing. She looked up at him, frowning in mock insult and poked him in the ribs. "He was being completely unreasonable!"
Kit grinned down at her. "And I'm sure you were the embodiment of rational thought, Le."
She looked a little sheepish, her eyes dropping, but poked him in the ribs again, harder this time. Kit flinched at the sensation, but some part of him wanted her to put her cool fingers back on his chest, to touch him in anyway she saw fit. He was suddenly aware of the soft feel of her body, nestled in his lap; the way her left breast was pressed against his chest, the soft warmth of her ass pressed against his crotch. Her head sat just beneath his chin and he could smell her scent; shampoo, Lena and damp earth.
He absently ran a hand down her hair, brushing his fingers against her back. He swallowed hard, trying to push his thoughts away.
Not now Kit.
"C'mon. Let's get you home." He said eventually, handing her the flashlight. "You can guide the way."
Kit hoisted her into his arms and Lena snuggled into his chest. She aimed the torch light on the path ahead as they moved off. They were barely two minutes from home so Kit knew there wasn't time to even begin to say the things he wanted to say so he kept quiet, trying his best just to focus on the task in hand and not the feel of her body or the way her breath sometimes tickled against his neck.
They had followed the path out of the stretch of dark trees and onto the bordering land when the silence between them was broken by Lena's quiet voice.
She was staring up at him, her expression unreadable to Kit as she spoke. "I don't know what I would have done without you Kit." Her voice was a whisper in the silent air.
Kit smiled loosely and gave as much of a shrug as he could manage whilst holding her in his arms. "It's nothing Le. Maggie and Bill would have raised the entire population of Maine if you hadn't returned by twelve, you know that. You wouldn't have been left out there all night."
Lena just frowned.
"No, I meant...not just tonight. You've always been there for me. Things were really hard when mom and dad died and the whole thing with Matt and...I just mean..." She took a breath and closed her eyes. Her smile was weak but genuine when she opened them on him again. "Thank you."
Kit looked down at her, his brows furrowed. His throat felt suddenly dry and he didn't know what to say.
"You're welcome," he whispered.
They reached the bordering fence to the farm, the one that enclosed the yard. Kit stared at Lena, wanting to say more, so much more, but he saw movement across the yard and couldn't say what he needed to say.
Light spilled out onto the veranda as the front door to their house was opened and Bill came stalking down the front steps. Maggie's figure hung back in the light of the door, pulling her cardigan tighter around her body to fend off the chill.
"Heaven above, what have you done to yourself my girl?!" Bill called out, rushing to open the gate to let them inside the yard.
Lena smiled to show she was okay. "Don't worry, old man," she said affectionately. "I just fell. It'll be fine in the morning."
Bill grumbled under his breath. He pulled the gate wide enough to allow them to enter.
Kit glared down at her, his eyebrow raised as if to say "You think so, huh?"
"Well, it'll be fine sometime soon, anyway," she conceded quietly.
"Yeah, well, fine it may be but 'til I hear the same thing from the doctor's mouth you better consider yourself bed-bound my girl." Bill stated.
Lena rolled her eyes but didn't argue.
Kit carried her across the yard and up the veranda steps. Maggie fussed over them both a little and Bill immediately phoned for a doctor, despite Lena's protests. Kit left the three of them downstairs, Lena now situated in an armchair with blankets and mugs of tea and coffee being forced upon her.
He took off his boots and climbed the stairs to the first floor, flicking on the light as he went. Bill and Maggie had a room at the very top of the house, on the floor above Kit, with it's own en-suite and beautiful views of the land around them, while he and Lena shared the first floor.
Kit made his way down the hall, right to the very end, where his bedroom had been for as long as he could remember. When Lena had arrived, she'd chosen the room opposite his. She liked to have him close when she had bad dreams and cried out, which was common back then.
He entered his own room, pushing away the thought of her as the vulnerable, scared teenager she'd been; those thoughts only made him feel even more guilty and confused about his other feelings for her; this new realisation that he was in love with her, that he wanted her in a way he was disgraced to admit.
How could he tell her?
Kit sat down on the edge of his bed and buried his head in his hands. His brain was working overtime, churning up thoughts and spewing them out in a cacophony that made Kit's ears ring.
Jonathan made it sound so easy but Kit didn't even know how to begin unravelling the mess of feelings he had inside. And what would she say, really? "Oh, Kit, I'm so happy! Let's get married tomorrow!"
Of course not.
Did he even want to marry her? He had to think about it. It wasn't like they could just fool around a bit and if things didn't work out then, hey, no worries, they could just stay mates or go their separate ways...it would change their entire relationship. Nothing would ever be the same again. So he had to be serious about it, had to be so careful not to lead her on or make her...
God, she'd look so pretty in white...he could imagine her with flowers in her hair, wearing a sleek white gown, a smile on her face as she made her vows. And he wanted, so much, to be the one to put that ring on her finger, to make sure she knew every day how beautiful and precious she was to him.
Kit groaned and fell back against his bed, his hands still pressed to his face, covering his eyes. He tried to focus on his own breathing, trying to stop the barrage of thoughts that were all trying to intrude on his brain. How would hw tell her? When? What would he say? What if she was angry, or disgusted with him? Could he handle that? What if she didn't want to talk to him again? What would they tell Bill and Maggie? What was making her so edgy lately? Had she already met someone else? Was she in love, was that it?
Shit. Shit. Fuck!
The thought felt like a fishhook in his gut, pulling up through his throat. Pain shot through him at the idea of her kissing someone else, of her loving someone else and him being the one who got to hold her, to tell her he loves her...what if he took her from him, some guy from a thousand miles away who asked her to come and live with him and she went and...
Kit slammed a fist into the mattress beside him and sat up, breathing harder than before. He needed to stop thinking about it; he couldn't do anything about it right now, with Lena downstairs all dirty and wounded.
He felt a pull to go to her, felt that he should be with her but he just couldn't, not right now. He needed half an hour to try and pull a thread of sense out of his patchwork of thoughts.
Lena was too confusing a subject, so he pushed it to the back of his head, deep into the dark corners where the thought of Malcolm Reed and his release from prison loomed at him.
Kit felt his heart pick up speed at the thought of Malc, but he wasn't sure if it was fear he was experiencing. There was definitely fear there - there were too many scary memories in Kit's head not to feel fear - but there was a certain amount of adrenaline too. It was the same as that feeling he'd had when he was eleven and -being taller than most of the kids his age - had been the only one tall enough to go on the Death Drill ride at the theme park. Paulie Fitzpatrick had dared him to go on. Kit had been so cocky until the last moment, when the bottom had dropped from his stomach and he felt cold fear creep under his skin, but it was too late; he had to go through with it; adrenaline, fear, excitement, sickness...he wasn't sure what he felt, but he knew he was never going back on that ride again.
That was how he felt now; sick and scared and also kind of excited. He knew what Bill said was right, that Malcolm wouldn't be turning up on the front doorstep or wandering around town looking for real estate. There was no way he'd be allowed near Kit, given their history, and yes, Malcolm would be watched very carefully for a while, to make sure he was 'coping' in the outside world.
But there was still a part of Kit that hid, small and afraid, in his front yard, minutes after his mother had been killed, and heard Malcolm's drunken voice shouting his name and swearing that he'd find him.
And there was also a part, a grown man now, that wanted to hunt down the cowardly piece of shit that had beaten his mother for so long, who had used her and finally killed her, and make him know what real pain was.
"Kit, honey?" There was a soft knock on his door as Maggie spoke.
"Come in Mags." Kit answered, startled from his reverie. He glanced at the clock on his bedside and was surprised to find how much time had passed. It was nearly twelve o'clock.
Maggie's round figure slipped in through the door, footsteps as soft as a cats on the beige carpet in his bedroom. She looked tired. Her dark red hair was escaping the bun she'd pulled it into at the nape of her neck "You ok?" She asked gently, looking at him in that affectionate, open manner she had. She examined his face from a few feet away.
Kit shifted on the edge of his bed. He had no idea how to answer that. He had no idea if he was ok. He just gave her a small smile . "Has the doctor been?" he asked.
Maggie said nothing of the subject change but Kit heard her pause before she answered his question, as if she was contemplating whether to push him or not. "Yes. A sprain - not a serious one apparently, but it will take a few weeks to heal properly." she said eventually. "The doctor's told her she's gotta rest it and put ice on the swelling. He's wrapped her ankle up in a bandage too - somethin' about compression, but I think it's just for the sympathy." Maggie smiled.
"I'm sure she was happy to hear that. Lena loves to take it easy and do exactly as she's told." Kit commented with a hint a sarcasm.
"Well, she's gonna have to suck it up. Maybe it'll teach her a thing or two." Maggie shook her head, an annoyed glint clouding her gaze for a minute, no doubt thinking of Lena's stubbornness or maybe even her lack of shoes on returning tonight. Kit wondered what Lena had told them about their mysterious disappearance.
"Anyways, the doctor's given her a pain killer now and she's fallen asleep on the chair downstairs. Bill was going to move her but..." Maggie frowned and Kit knew she was worried about her husbands health. He wasn't supposed to go lifting heavy things anymore, not that he paid as much attention as he should to the doctor's advice.
"I'll move her." Kit said, smiling softly.
Maggie reached out to touch his cheek affectionately. "You're a good man Kristopher Alden. She'll be very lucky, the woman that marries you my boy. She really will."
Kit almost choked. For a second he had a horrible thought that Maggie could see inside his mind and knew exactly what he'd been thinking with regards to Lena. But another second passed and he knew he was being stupid. Of course she didn't know. If she did, she'd slap him, not compliment him.
Maggie dropped her hand from his cheek and smoothed the hem of her blue blouse. "Okay, well...if you don't need anything, Bill and I are gonna head to bed."
Kit assured her he was fine and Maggie left him with a kiss on the cheek.
A few moments later he heard Bill shout a goodnight to him from the stairs. He listened as his and Maggie's footsteps slowly thudded up to the floor above.
Time to face the music, he thought, standing from the bed. He took a breath and quietly left his bedroom, flicking off the light as he went.
Lena murmured softly in her sleep, unintelligible words. Kit stood just inside the doorway of their sitting room, caught by the sight of her peaceful face. She nestled her head deeper into the dark green plaid of the armchair and murmured again.
A large, square coffee table sat in the centre of the room, a widescreen T.V to one side and a three-seater couch on another. Two armchairs sat at ninety degrees to each other in the corner, separated by an antique end table that had belonged to Bill's grandmother. It was in one of these armchairs that Lena dozed, an old woollen blanket draped across her legs and a cold cup of something on a coaster at her elbow.