My bones are safe and my heart can rest
Knowing it belongs to you
My world is changed and it's cradled by
The comfort that is you
Oh my love,
My head is reeling and I am running out of air
I need to breathe in
Danny stood in front of the stove in her childhood home, absent-mindedly stirring the tomato sauce. She had only been home in Vancouver for a little over a week, but it felt like it had been an eternity. Usually, she loved coming home to hang out with her brother and the twins. But she didn't want to be home under these conditions. Danny swallowed a little as she replayed the memory of why she had to be here so suddenly.
A week and a half ago, while getting ready for a morning run, Danny got the dreaded phone call. At the moment she didn't think much of it, besides the fact that it was nearly eleven at night and her mother should be asleep.
Needless to say, Danny didn't go on her run that morning. She sat there on the edge of the couch, on the verge of a breakdown, yet so numb. It wasn't until Carmilla, her girlfriend, emerged from the bedroom, asking her what was wrong. When Carmilla placed her hands on Danny's cheek, her face full of worry, asking her repeatedly, that a wail ripped from Danny's throat and the tears fell from her eyes.
Her younger brother, Benny, was in the hospital.
She spent the rest of that day, with Carmilla by her side, as Danny attempted to put a suitcase together.
Danny let out a soft sigh. And there was another reason why it felt like she had been home for far too long. She missed Carmilla. Carmilla had to stay in Austria with Fenrir, their husky. Her parents could only afford to fly Danny home, so she could help take care of her siblings.
Danny longed to be back in her tiny apartment. She yearned to be in bed with Carmilla: the vampire curled up against her, her head on her chest as she listened to Danny's steady heartbeat, with Carmilla’s arm securely around her waist and Fenrir across their feet. Her heart ached for the nonchaotic familiarity. But she knew that was selfish to want that at this moment. Her family needed her, she needed to be there for Benny, and she was going to stay as long as she had to. It was her duty to help them and care for her siblings, even if she felt like crumbling under the weight of the responsibility. It made her wish for the simpler days of defending the Silas campus from monsters.
At least monsters were easy. One could physically hurt them and release frustrations onto them. But Danny was helpless against the sickness that coursed through Benny’s body. She couldn't punch, stake, or burn the illness that was slowly killing her brother.
A light tug on the back of her shirt was enough to make Danny jump. She turned around to see the much too tall for her age, Katie. She stared blankly down at her, almost not registering who she was until she spoke.
“Danny, when are we going to eat?” She asked, her voice low and her eyes pleading as if it would make the food appear faster. Danny flashed her sister a quick smile and reached forward to ruffle her bright red hair, a common trait in the Lawrence family.
“It's almost ready now, why don't you go set the table.” She suggested. Katie gave her a small nod and reached for the plates. Danny felt a pain in her heart when she started to pull out six plates.
“Honey, it's only you, Charlie, and me tonight. Mom and Dad are still out with Benny.” Danny tells her. She watched as her sister stopped and turned to her. The confused and broken-hearted face of her nine-year-old sister was almost enough to make Danny cry. Almost.
“Why aren't they coming home?” She asked in a quiet voice. Danny freezes in a panic. Anxiety starts to constrict her throat and she feels nausea hitting her hard. How was she supposed to explain to her baby sister that her older brother had been diagnosed with late-stage Leukemia? Why did it have to fall on her to tell her that Benny was probably not going to make it to his seventeenth birthday? How did anyone expect her to be faced with a situation like that, let alone know exactly how to handle it.
She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried to put on a brave face.
“Because Benny is really sick and Mom and Dad are there to make sure he's okay. I came home to make sure you 'n Charlie stay out of trouble.” She said, a soft smile playing on her lips as she gently nudged Katie. Her sister returned the smile, but it quickly fades.
“Is Benny going to be okay?” She asked. Danny cursed Zeus for making children so talkative. She adored her baby sister, but even she had her limits. Danny opened her mouth to stutter out some pathetic excuse, only when a loud bang from the living room interrupts her. She thanked Hera that she didn't have to continue this conversation with Katie.
“Charlie, what in Olympia are you doing?”
“Nothing!” He replied, all too quickly. Danny turned off the burner and moved the pot to the back of the stove, before going to investigate.
Upon entering the living room, she noticed that the bookshelf was overturned and contents had been spilled everywhere. Her eyes flicked up to Charlie, who was wrestling a book out of their scruffy mutt, Bear’s mouth. Danny sighed and turned the bookcase upright. Charlie successful rescued the book from their dog and tried to gather as many of them up as he could.
“How about we just clean them up after dinner, okay?” She said. He looked down at the pile of books, then slowly up to Danny and nodded, fully aware of his guilt. Danny smiled softly and kissed his temple. She couldn't help but chuckle at the way his face screwed up in annoyance, clearly not wanting any affection from his sister.
“Go on, give Bear his dinner and go take your seat.” She told him. He hurried off to the kitchen, Bear right at his heels. Danny sighed and straightened up. Yeah, monsters were much easier to deal with than the twins. She turned to go back to the kitchen, her stomach growling (she couldn't recall the last time she actually ate), when the doorbell rang. Bear, in a barking frenzy, bounded from the kitchen and barreled past Danny, nearly knocking her over.
She quickly regained her balance and her shoulders sag. All she wanted was to finally eat and to be left alone for a while.
“Bear, schweigen!” Danny ordered her voice stern. He ceased his barking and looked back at her. With a huff, he pushed off the window and padded back into the kitchen. Danny sighed and hurried to the door, opening it with a forced smile.
“Evening.” She greeted the postman. He gave her a smile and held out the electronic pad and pen.
“Evening, you just have to sign for a package.” Danny’s brows crease in confusion. She didn't remember her parents saying about expecting a package. But she signed it anyway, took the box from the man and thanked him. Her confusion only grew when she saw that it was addressed to her.
“Danny! We're starving!” Charlie's voice pulled her back to reality and she shook her head.
“Coming, I'm coming!” Danny called back, retreating into the kitchen. She placed the package on the counter. She scooped the spaghetti onto Katie and Charlie's plate and gave them permission to start eating without her.
She took the box and hurried to her room. Danny eased down onto the edge of her bed and made quick work of the tape. She pulled the flaps back to reveal a pair of blue socks with cartoon cats dressed as astronauts, a small black plush cat, and underneath both of them was a folded up blanket that instantly made her feel like she was back in Austria. She also spotted a small card tucked under the cat's paw and picked it up.
The front had a drawing of a cat stretched across someone's keyboard, with the words “You're my favorite person to annoy” written above the picture. A small, smile played at the corner of Danny's lips. She opened the card and instantly recognized the handwriting.
My favorite annoyance. I miss you more than you'll ever know, more than a vampire should miss a human. I long for the day you return home to me. The days drone on, feeling so much longer than they truly are. I can't help but be selfish in wanting you to return home, but the apartment feels empty without you here. I know your family needs you, and you want to be there for your brother. This can't be an easy thing to deal with. This is something, as an immortal, I could never fathom.
I can't wait for you to return, the stars aren't the same without you, nor walks with Fen (who misses you deeply too). I hope this care pack helps with the stress. I even “gave up custody” of our favorite blanket for you. I made sure to let Fenrir lay on it.
Take care, be safe, and come home soon.
I love you, to the moon and back.
Danny kept staring down at the letter, quickly becoming unable to reread the words between the tears that stung her eyes. She was grinning that dorky grin, the one that Carmilla always said she hated but secretly adored. Danny knew Carmilla could be a bit of a sap, but she also never expected a gesture of her’s to make her cry. She wiped at her face and gently placed the card down, frantically searching for her phone. Danny had to call Carmilla immediately.