It was late in the evening and they were in some god-forgotten place in the woods, probably two or three miles away from any living civilization. It was almost the same, strange feeling as a month ago when they found that little weekend house with the ghostly memories of a family.
Now the little boat house had a similar silent and lonely vibe. The canoe season was over and nobody was around the frozen, snowy lake which bordered the landscape.
Sean was sleeping soundly in the old sleeping bag which they found earlier in the building. It was not the best quality and didn’t even offer too much warmth but it was better than nothing. The house had no electricity or a fireplace so they even had to bring in the big, steel fire pit from the courtyard to make the room more liveable. Of course, Daniel’s powers came in handy in the procedure but even with his help, it was a huge struggle to put the fucking thing in the house and make a fire in it. It was not even 9 p.m. before Sean called it a day and tucked Daniel in one of the thicker sleeping bags. They were both deadly exhausted from their all-day journey and didn’t even have the energy to play a round of dice.
Sean has been sleeping deeply and without any dreams for almost two hours now. He would have been probably slept until morning or even until lunch if a strange, soft voice wouldn’t have woke him up in the middle of the night.
At first, Sean thought that it was just some random noise from the outside but after a few blinks he realized that the noise came from near him. It was a silent, sobbing noise, like a little child’s crying. Sean needed a few seconds to find out that the crying child next to him was actually his own little brother.
“Hey, Daniel? What happened?” He asked in the dark and his voice was still heavy with sleep but he also became quite aware of the situation. Daniel was turned to the other side of the room and his whole body trembled at Sean’s sudden voice. He tried to stop crying immediately and pretended that nothing happened.
“I am okay, Sean.” He whispered in a shaky voice and even now he didn’t fully turn to his big brother. “Sorry if I woke you up, I didn’t want to. Everything is okay, don’t worry.”
Everything is okay my ass, thought Sean angrily but his chest also got tight with worry. What the hell? At least the little boy was not crying from physical pain and that was a relief. Even if that thought didn’t make Sean any calmer. He slowly sneaked closer to Daniel and put his hand carefully on the little boy’s arm. The poor child was trembling from his suppressed tears and Sean’s heart just dropped to the cold ground at that moment.
“Hey… You know that you don’t have to face it alone. It’s okay to tell me.” He whispered to the boy softly and he really hoped that he could also stop himself from start sobbing like a child. Even though his little brother has cried a lot since he found out the truth about their dad, it was always a heartbreaking and painful sight to see him suffering like this. He would never get used to it. Never, even if it happened every day. “I am here with you, Daniel.” He told the boy quietly and stroke his arm reassuringly.
Daniel was silent for a few moments, only his heavy breathing broke the stillness of the room. Sean was worried that the boy would shut him off and wouldn't talk to him at all but in the end Daniel turned towards him. His eyes were red and puffy from crying and Sean’s chest became even tighter than it was before.
“I know, Sean, but…” Daniel started but his voice cracked almost immediately. His brown eyes became teary again as he looked into Sean’s similar brownish ones. “But I think you will hate me if I tell you.”
Sean almost laughed at that. What the hell this silly child was talking about? What was he thinking? That was probably the most moronic thing that he has ever told him.
“Why would I hate you, enano?” He asked with disbelief and offense in his voice at the same time. Even the thought was enough to hurt him. “You know I could never hate you. What gives you this stupid-ass idea?”
If it’s possible, Daniel’s expression became even more strained and more painful than it was before his question.
“You wouldn't hate me even if… even if Mom left us because of me?”
Sean’s eyebrows went really high up on his forehead and he had to blink a few times because he just couldn’t process what he just heard right now.
Sean was not quite sure what was going on. Maybe Daniel tried to prank him or make a joke, right? But the little boy's face did not lit up the slightest, he didn’t smile or started to laugh. He just looked at him seriously in the eye, determined and pained. He looked like he was going to cry again. Or lose his shit.
“Just think about it! Mom left us after I was born…” He started in a shaky, desperate voice which was almost a yelling.
“I think Mom knew that I was going to be a freak! And she didn’t want to live with… with someone like me. That’s why she left.”
Daniel’s tears started to cover his face again, like a river breaking through a gate. Sean couldn’t say a word, just gasping at the boy’s words and looking into his brother’s painful eyes. He never really thought about the timing of their mother’s leaving. He had never really cared why their mother chose that specific day, hour and minute to escape. It never really made any difference. It doesn’t make any difference now. Right?
Sean’s heart was pounding loudly in his chest and he felt like that his lungs did not get enough oxygen. He was not sure that he was starting to get really-really mad or horrified at what just Daniel said. And what does implies. It couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t be true!
“That’s bullshit.” He exclaimed suddenly, not aware that his voice is just as close to yelling as Daniel’s. “Karen… Mom always wanted to leave. You saw that poem on the desk in her old room! I even found some train ticket hidden in her CD player!”
Sean did not want to panic in front of Daniel at all but the sudden anger and fear started to rise in his chest. He even felt an unpleasant, bitter taste in his mouth. This whole fucking idea was bullshit, right? It was fucking bullshit. He shook his head angrily.
“Her leaving has nothing to do with you! She was always a fucking coward who wanted to escape from life!”
“But Sean…” Daniel’s quiet voice cracked again and Sean’s face became even more heated.
“No, Daniel. Even if it was true what you said… You know that would make her an even bigger coward!” Sean was shouting now but he didn’t care anymore. “Because only a fucking coward would leave behind an amazing, loving and talented son! A real mother would never do that to her child!
The silence abruptly broke into the room and covered them with heavy, numb tension. Sean felt his heart drumming in his throat. He was so fucking mad and felt so much pain at the same time that he couldn’t even comprehend. In front of him Daniel was clearly just as upset as him. His little body was tensed in the big sleeping bag, his face and eyes were wet with new, shiny tears. He looked at Sean with a strange mixture of disbelief and a glint of hope.
He slowly cleared his throat and averted his red, teary eyes from his brother.
“Wh-what if… ” He started with uncertainty and needed to swallow before started to speak again. “What if she also has some powers like me? And she just needed to hide like us?”
Daniel bit into his bottom lip and lowered his head. He was probably afraid that Sean would think that he was crazy or an idiot but the truth was a different story. Actually, Sean was totally speechless at his brother’s implication. He had never thought about Karen’s escape in this way before. Never. But even if that was true… Even if their mom connected to his powers somehow…
“Daniel, that’s… ” He started with a strained, tired voice. Daniel looked at him with such hope that it almost broke his heart. He really didn’t want to cause more pain to his little brother. He kind of hated himself for what was going to follow. But he just couldn’t lie to him. Not anymore.
He took a long, shaky breath.
“Even if Karen has powers like you… You know that’s not an excuse for giving a fuck about us for nine years. You don’t do that to your family even if you have superpowers!”
Sean lightly touched Daniel’s arm through the sleeping bag and averted his gaze. He knew that if he looks into those teary, hopeful eyes too long then he won’t bear it anymore. He really wanted to give his little brother everything. He didn’t deserve this shit, this pointless life with continuous hiding with an incompetent big brother who can’t even take care of a cold. The little boy deserved a real parent, somebody who is ideal for this role. Somebody who was better than him.
Sean felt that the tears were burning the back of his eyes.
“I know you are hoping that Mom will help us in some way. I know that you want us to have a normal family again. I also want that, hell, I want that more than anything… but we are alone in this, okay?” Sean’s voice cracked with heavy emotions.
“Just the two of us. I know I am not really the best at taking care of you and I am probably not enough for you but…”
Daniel interrupted him in a harsh voice. The little boy was halfway out of his sleeping bag and his face was serious with determination. Sean just gasped at his sudden change of mood.
“It’s not… you are the best brother ever, okay? You are super cool and amazing! I just…” Daniel was desperately tried to find the right words. His little face was full of painful, unsaid emotions and he looked at Sean with kind of an embarrassment. He pulled up his knees and gazed into the darkness of the room.
“I am just so scared that the police will separate us. I thought if Mom could help... If she didn’t think that I was a monster and she would take us in…”
Daniel's eyes were shining in the dim light of the poor, little fire they made. A single teardrop flew down on his already wet face.
“I don’t want to end up in foster care, Sean. I don’t want us to be separated. I… I am so scared.”
Daniel looked him in the eye and that was the first time during the night when he was not trying to suppress or hide his feelings in front of him. Sean could clearly see every emotion on his tiny face. The fear and panic, the horror of losing each other, the desperate and heartbreaking longing that the little boy felt towards him. It was not about their mother at all. Not even about his powers. It was all about his big brother all along. Only about Sean.
Sean almost drew back from all those strong emotions that hit him so suddenly. It was overwhelming, scary and just too fucking much.
Oh my god. Can I love this brat even more? How can he be so adorable?
Sean couldn’t take it anymore.
He got out from his own sleeping bag and in the following moment he was next to his little brother. Daniel didn’t even have the opportunity to protest or say anything. Sean just hugged him tightly to his chest. And didn’t let him go. Didn’t want to.
“I will never let them take you away from me, okay? Never!” He whispered into his little brother’s hair while his fingers were trembling. “We will figure this out and be together till the very end!”
Daniel didn’t reply to him at first. He just relaxed into his big brother’s hug and returned the gesture instantly. He put his little hands around Sean’s back and he pulled his face close to his pullover. Sean couldn’t see him from that angle but he felt that Daniel was smiling into his jumper. It was his favourite hoodie of course which had the ‘Squad’ caption in the middle with the wolf figure. It was almost symbolic for both of them. It was relaxing to know that Daniel’s face was so close to that symbol even if it was stupid and meant nothing. They both know it still meant everything.
“Promise?” Daniel asked a few seconds later, his face still attached closely to his chest. Sean slowly stroked his short brown hair. He carefully bent down a little and gave a kiss to Daniel’s temple.
“I promise, enano.
They stayed like that for long minutes. Daniel made himself even more comfortable in Sean’s lap and put his head on his brother’s shoulder. It was calm and relaxing to sit like that in the dark while there wasn’t any noise around them just the slowly smoldering fire at the corner of the room.
Sean thought that maybe he should make some corny comment to shake them up a little but Daniel drew himself back from his shoulder at that moment. He looked him in the eye.
“Can I… sleep next to you? In the sleeping bag?”
It was such a painfully normal question that Sean had to laugh at it. All those heavy and painful emotions vanished from his little brother's face, only the childish innocence and cuteness remained. He didn’t even realize but it made Sean’s chest a great deal lighter.
“Are you not a little big for that?” He asked cheerfully, smiling at Daniel with mischief. “This is only for one person. Plus you are quite smelly.”
Of course, his little brother’s face frowned at that but Sean could tell that he was not really angry at him. It was just their usual playful banter.
“Nah, Sean, please! I am small, I can fit in next to you. And I am so cold.” He pouted with a little bit too much effort but it was still adorable. A grimace appeared on his face. “And you are smellier than me.”
Sean laughed again. Daniel was probably right, he was smelly as hell but it looked like that it was not really an issue for his little brother.
“Okay, cave boy.” He stated with a light smile and stroke the boy’s hair. “But if you kick me in my sleep…”
“I know, I know. You will kick me back.”
Of course, they both know that Sean would have never kicked him back or never hurt him in any way but they both pretended that this was a real threatening. Sean spread his sleeping bag on the floor and pulled off the zipper to have enough room for both of them to sneak in. At first he had some doubts about the sleeping bag’s capacity but in the end Daniel was right: he was pretty small and the thing was pretty big. It was quite comfortable for both of them even if it didn’t look like it at first sight.
Sean tried to close off the stuff around them while Daniel lowered his head on the material and made himself more comfortable. When Sean finished to pull up the zipper Daniel put his hands around his brother’s arm. It was almost like an embrace.
“Would you tell me a bedtime story?” He asked in a soft voice while he was clinging to his arm like a pillow. He looked so enthusiastic and happy at that moment like nothing happened. Like they were in their old home, in Daniel’s old bed. Like their father was sleeping in the next room.
His brother felt safe again.
Sean swallowed down his tears.
“Of course, enano.” He said quietly and with a broad, warm smile he started to tell the newest adventure of the two, fearless wolf brothers who never gave up.