Nobody knew. Not anymore. He hid it. Controlled it. Hated it.
Some days Charlie felt like screaming…he didn’t of course. Well, not around other people anyway. Sometimes when he hiked he would end up yelling and screaming and crying only to realise that it didn’t help. It made it worse. He would lose control and then he couldn’t hide it.
If it got really bad, people-hurt-and-dying-bad, he would hide in math. Solve equations, deny his body. No sleep, no food. Beat the fucking thing into submission. But it never lasted long.
If Charlie got upset it was almost impossible to hide it. That was the real reason he retreated into P vs. NP. He could lose himself in it, forget. He knew Don resented him, maybe even hated him, for hiding when their mother had needed him. But unlike anybody else she understood. She had been the only one.
Seeing Don on the stretcher…he would be alright David had said so…dark red slowly seeping through his white shirt had almost made him lose it. Control. Colby had tried to talk to him, tried to get him in the car but Charlie just couldn’t move.
“Come on,” Colby yelled pushing his broad hands against Charlie’s back.
He stopped pushing, stopped yelling and just looked confused. Colby’s hands touched his shoulder blades again. Not pushing but seeking. Charlie attempted to move away but Colby grabbed his arm, dragged him to the car, shoved him in the car and got in himself.
They were in Colby’s apartment.
“W-we should go to the hospital…Don…”
“Shut up and take that jacket off” Colby interrupted.
“What?” Why were they here? Don needed him. Colby moved so fast. Charlie felt him yank the jacket off and saw him throw it on the couch. “No!” he yelped. He really needed to get away.
But Colby just started pulling on his t-shirt. Charlie was losing control now. His skin tingled. Always a warning sign. In just a few seconds he would panic and then… Colby finally succeeded and almost triumphantly pulled the t-shirt off him. He heard it rip. His favourite t-shirt. The tingling turned into fire. Liquid fire. It scorched his veins and pure panic flooded his senses.
“Holy fuck!” Colby gasped. “That’s…you’re…,” Charlie would die if he said freak. He had hidden it for so long, worked so hard, “Beautiful. Wow!”
Curious fingers trailed over his shoulders, stopped, then continued on to the wings.
“Does Don know?” Colby’s fingers were caressing his spine. Up, down, up, down.
“No,” Again he touched the wings, letting single feathers run through his fingers. Charlie flinched.
“Sorry,” Colby stopped his exploration “Does it hurt?”
“No…it’s just…nobody ever touched them before.”
Colby looked at him. “But your mother…She must have…”
“She knew but I never allowed her to touch.”
Charlie turned and faced Colby. “So you’re not disgusted?” he asked.
Colby just looked at him. Smiled. “For a genius you’re really stupid sometimes.”
He shook his head and kissed Charlie.