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Watching the River Run

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Watching the River Run

Post by Talon Rogers on Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:24 pm

If you've been thinking you're all that you've got,
Then don't feel alone anymore.
When we're together, then you've got a lot,
'Cause I am the river and you are the shore...

"Thank you, sir, have a good day."

Talon kept a fixed smile on his face as the last customer in his section left. He cleaned the table off as quickly as he could, turned in his tickets listing how much he had made in tips, hung up his apron, and left. Working at the High Tide Diner was great, he enjoyed the work itself, and it was nice to have money in his bank account to pay for things like postage to send letters to his brother. But at the same time, customers occasionally--one might even say often--forgot that servers were people, too. The day just wasn't complete unless someone accused him of not listening because the customer hadn't remembered to say that he didn't want ice in his drink, a child ran through the aisles without its parents saying a word (but heaven help you if YOU said anything, even if you almost tripped over the kid and spilled hot coffee on its head), and someone tried to argue over fifty cents on the bill. That afternoon, he'd had a woman who had demanded to know why there were no vegetables in her vegetable soup until he explained patiently that she was, in fact, gesturing to her coffee. At least he had gotten a good tip from her. Another shuck, another buck.

Talon stopped at the general store to pick up something with the little bit of cash tips he had made, then made the long trek back home. St. Christina's. He had to admit that he was actually beginning to feel a kind of affection for the place. Yeah, a nuthouse was a nuthouse, but as nuthouses went, St. Christina's wasn't half bad. It sure beat Hadley hands-down. At Hadley he wouldn't have been able to earn money, and even if he had, what would he have spent it on? He would never have been permitted to leave the facility grounds unsupervised either. Admittedly, there wasn't really anywhere they could go once they left the facility gates. They were on an island, after all, and it was one hell of a swim to the shore...and the ferry wouldn't take anyone offshore unless they had papers saying it was okay, mainly to keep the patients from escaping. Still, it was nice to have that kind of trust.

It was also nice, he thought, rubbing the back of his neck--he'd taken to spending his mornings at the beach, and as a consequence he was slightly sunburnt--that he didn't have to wear a uniform. He was finally getting comfortable enough that he didn't mind wearing short sleeves, but he liked not having to wear that stupid safety tie. And the color of Hadley's uniform had been, quite frankly, hideous. To boot, he had been informed that not only were Ward C patients permitted to leave the facility during the week, they would be required to do so when school started up again. They were permitted to take classes with "normal" people. It was the first step to reintegrating into society. Talon's fellow part-time server was also a St. Christina's patient, and he looked forward to meeting someone new. He'd seen a few teenagers around the island, although he hadn't talked to any. For the first time in a while, Talon was looking forward to the start of school.

But for now...for now, there were more important things on his mind. As he sauntered up St. Christina's Way, Talon straightened his back, adjusted the fringed leather bag he carried slung across his chest, and strode proudly through the gates of his new home. For the first time in a long time--maybe the first time ever--he didn't mind coming home after work or school or whatever. For the first time, he had something worth coming home to.

And it goes on and on,
Watching the river run,
Further and further from things that we've done,
Leaving them one by one.
And we have just begun
Watching the river run.
Listening and learning and yearning.
Run, river, run...
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Michael Courtenay on Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:23 pm

Michael wondered what the other patients of Ward A did to pass the time that could have been spent on the island. Nate was almost never in the room, Connor had his spelling video game, and Orion was usually hanging out with him. Michael's time-wasting options were basically limited to hanging out with Orion, wandering around in hopes that he would meet someone new and whatever other activities he did, like organizing anything he could get his hands on or writing letters. Talon's surprise was already finished- it had been for days.

Michael had made an octopus out of orange duct tape, roughly the size of a soup bowl. It had five tentacles on one side and three on the other, which he beat himself up for, but he didn't think Talon would catch the flaw... or mind it for that matter. It also had sunglasses made out of black duct tape, paying tribute to the MIB reference Michael made when the two brothers first met.

Talon was at work, and Michael wasted time, wandering aimlessly out of the room because all of his roommates were out of A2 today for their own reasons. He re-organized the bookshelf in the recreation room from last name of the author (how it was organized when Talon and him first met) to genre. He ate all the meals he was supposed to. He kept periodically looking at the clock near the Ward A nurse's station and let out an audible groan when one hour hadn't even passed when he looked last.

When it was close to six o' clock, the small brunette was laying upside down on his bed like a bat, bored out of his skull. After laying there for awhile, he decided to check the clock again. Michael was usually a very productive person- when he was at home, he cleaned and organized like a machine. He also had baseball and school to worry about. Now, he didn't have a way to exercise nor anything to organize besides the bookshelf, and it was summer time so there weren't any classes.

Michael took the octopus, which was sitting on his nightstand, and placed it carefully inside the duffel bag he used to use for baseball. It was his carry-on bag when he flew from Michigan. He decided to let Talon choose the octopus's gender and name- it was a gift for him after all.

He poked his head out of A2 and walked quietly toward the nurse's station. Nowadays, Michael could stay in the room alone as long as he knew other people were nearby in the hallway or something, which was a huge step for him. Maybe he could tell Talon- maybe he would be proud of him for that. Michael visibly smiled at that thought, and smiled brightly with his mouth open as he saw that it was six o' clock.

'Talon just got off work!' Michael thought excitedly. 'Finally!'

He pushed off the floor to start running, but then controlled himself and walked quickly instead.

'You ran through the hallways.'
'You ran through the hallways.'
'You ran through the hallways.'
'You ran through the hallways on June 3rd, 2011.'
'You shouldn't run through the hallways.'
'You could have hurt someone if you weren't careful'
'You could have crashed into someone like you did on January 29th your last year at Graveraft Middle School.'
'You're a terrible person.'

"I-I-I'm sorry," Michael squeaked almost inaudibly.

He tried to focus his attention on something else to silence his repetitive, unwanted thoughts. But he thought it was what he deserved- he was bad so he felt he had to be punished. He turned his attention to two boys who were talking about something- he tried not to eavesdrop, but it was kind of hard not to. The boy speaking as he walked passed had a lisp.

"Yeah, I'm going crazy- when I first came here, the security officers took away my -----."

The last word was a word that Michael did not recognize, and that was a completely new feeling. With an English professor for a mother, he had a considerably wide vocabulary and hadn't yet lost a scrabble game to others around his age. But as strong of a grip he had on the English language... math was his downfall. He could pass the class if he understood what he was doing, but even so, his foundation for math was weak. Very weak in comparison to English.

"Hm. I wonder what that word means..." Michael thought aloud as he exited the Robertson Home. "Maybe Talon knows!"

When he made his way outside, Michael was practically skipping. He was so excited to see Talon, and he knew that after a long day at work, Talon would be excited to see him too. The two were inseparable- they needed each other, and they loved each other like brothers. They were brothers. Michael gave a lot of thought to how his life would be like if he didn't have Talon- he'd probably have a lot of anxiety attacks, especially when meeting Orion. 90% of the reason why he was so stable currently was because of Talon, and if he wasn't stable when he initially met Orion, he would probably be missing a few limbs. Michael knew Orion was a good person- he just had an issue with anger like Michael had an issue with anxiety.

Michael stopped at the front of the gate and waited for a few minutes, pushing the duffle bag slung over his shoulder further toward his back. His face then brightened in excitement when he saw Talon going through the gate. He rushed up to give his brother a hug, careful not to knock him over. He wrapped his arms around Talon's waist as his head rested on his chest. Michael had some growing to do.

"Welcome home, Talon! What's a dildo?"

((OOC: A picture of the octopus is posted in The Beautiful People in Play on Words.))
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Talon Rogers on Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:14 pm

Talon smiled as he saw the bright-eyed boy rushing towards him. Michael. His little brother. Really, if Talon was honest with himself, Michael was the reason he had even gotten the job at the High Tide Diner. He had realized that he didn't want to just mope around the island feeling sorry for himself, and that if he intended to make a life for himself once he was eventually discharged from the facility, he would have to start right away. Also, a tiny part of him had to admit that he wanted to have the money to spoil his brother. Maybe Michael couldn't leave the grounds yet, but Talon could bring him things to sort of make up for it--seashells and bags of candy and books and things. He had to admit to himself that he was a little nervous about what he had picked up earlier that day--maybe it would hit the wrong notes--but he hoped it would be something else they could do, maybe in the mornings on weekends, since Talon worked afternoons six days a week, and school would be starting soon. Or maybe they could do it for an hour or even just a half-hour before dinner after he got home.

As Michael ran up and threw his arms around his waist, Talon hugged him back, just as tightly. This moment had really been what got him through the last hour of work--the promise that he would get to go home and hug his brother, that someone would be waiting for him who was actually happy to see him and didn't want anything out of him. He was about to say something when Michael spoke first.

"Welcome home, Talon! What's a dildo?"

If Talon had been drinking anything, he probably would have choked. A dildo?! Where had Michael seen that word--or heard it, or whatever? Probably, he decided, some new patient complaining about losing it, or else a patient telling another that she (or he) intended to buy one if she (or he) could manage to smuggle it onto campus. The answer to that, he suspected, was no. It wasn't the sort of thing the guards would be happy with the students having, especially as the administration had some sort of psychotic idea that they could pen a number of teenagers up in a small area together and not expect them to have hormonal urges. Anyway...

He struggled with his equilibrium for a moment, keeping a smile pasted on his face. "Hi, Michael! A dildo is...um...it's a...well, it's kind of shaped like...and you use it for..." After another moment of floundering, he sighed and admitted, "It's a sex toy. People usually use them if they...um...don't have anyone else that can...do things for them." He hoped he was being vague enough that Michael didn't get too many visuals while still explaining what the thing was. Next purchase for this boy is a slang dictionary, he told himself.

Stepping back, but keeping an arm around Michael's shoulders, he quickly changed the subject. "Hey! Guess what? I've got a surprise for you!"
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Michael Courtenay on Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:50 pm

Throughout the entire afternoon, Michael had trouble waiting for his brother to come home from work. During the hours, especially the first hour of Talon being at the diner, Michael checked the clock an innumerable amount of times, a little disappointed each time he realized only two or five minutes had passed. The most time was spent just wandering around- he usually hung out with Orion and made sure that he didn't make him angry again, but he was out this time, just like Nate and Connor. Michael was like a puppy waiting at the windowsill- time went by way too slow, especially today.

Then, when Talon finally came home (Well, St. Christina's wasn't home, but home was with each other) Michael had so much pent up excitement that the first thing he did was give his brother a hug. In the process of trying to make Talon feel better from working the whole afternoon, he felt better too. And then he felt Talon's arms wrap tightly around him and he sighed in bliss. He was so happy Talon was with him now- the afternoon was long and boring. He missed Talon all throughout it, too.

Then, after Michael asked his question, Talon was silent for a few moments. He didn't get why- it seemed like the question had stunned him. Michael looked up with a curious expression on his face, wondering why Talon was so quiet. Then, he offered what he thought it might be while his older brother had time to articulate himself.

"Well, it sounds like a colloquial name for someone you don't want to talk to. 'Yeah, Bob? He's such a dildo.' Or maybe it's the name for a type of hat- 'That dildo looks really nice on you- where did you get it?' Or maybe, it's the name of a really weird roller coaster- 'That dildo was so awesome! I wanna go on it again!' But yeah, that's all I could really come up with- so what does it really mean?"

Once Talon gave him a definition, Michael blushed. "Ohhhhh. What's the point of- on second thought, no! I don't wanna know! Don't tell me! Don't tell me!"

His unwanted thoughts ceased and his ears perked up when Talon said he had a surprise for him. His expression was bright and amazed, suddenly dying to know what it was. It was a childish phenomenon- Michael loved surprises, and would be sincerely happy with just about anything Talon would give him. Michael's light green eyes were shiny with excitement, like marbles. "Really? What is it?"

He tapped the duffle bag slung over his shoulder. "I have a surprise for you too! Do you want to go first, or should I?"

Michael was itching to give Talon the octopus, and was also itching to know what Talon had for him. He thoroughly enjoyed gift exchanges, especially when he worked hard on the gift he would give... and it wasn't even December yet. He was having fun already.

((OOC: Wow, that's kinda short in comparison to my others posts... XD))
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Talon Rogers on Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:14 pm

Talon had to bite his lips very hard at Michael's potential definitions for the word "dildo". Well, Bob could be a "dildo" if you mean he always has his head up his ass...and people usually want to "go again" after they've tried one, he thought to himself. But if you can see how it looks on someone, you're definitely doing something WAY wrong. Yes, he knew a few people who might wear one as a hat, but he didn't really think that was the normal application of such things.

Michael's expression changed quickly, however, when Talon finally managed to sort of explain. He resisted the urge to laugh at Michael's unease, though, because he had been almost as uncomfortable at the idea of telling his brother what a dildo was as Michael was at knowing. "Don't worry, I probably couldn't explain it anyway, and I'm not sure I'd want to," he reassured him. He'd never owned or used one himself--never needed to, really, lack of sex was not a problem prostitutes generally ran into, and he didn't particularly want one now. He kind of liked being able to sit down, thanks.

The light in his brother's eyes when Talon told him he had a surprise was gratifying. Talon was even more surprised when Michael said he had something for him, too. "Wow. I, uh...I wasn't expecting that. Thanks, Michael."

"Do you want to go first, or should I?"

"Well...I guess I'll go first." Talon had a feeling that Michael's gift, whatever it was, was probably homemade and would therefore be infinitely better than what he had in his bag. Especially since he wasn't at all sure this was going to hit the right note.

Taking a deep breath, Talon reached into the bag and pulled out his surprise--two Rawlings baseball gloves, one left and one right, and a new, unmarred baseball. He held out the right-handed glove to Michael, the baseball cradled in the center. "I, uh...I don't know if you'd like the idea, but...I've never really played a sport before. I thought you and I could play catch in the afternoons or the mornings or whatever. And maybe you'd be willing to show me a few of those amazing pitching techniques of yours? I'd love to see how a real pitcher does things."

He sincerely hoped that his gesture wasn't going to backfire on him, but from his conversations with the younger boy he had gathered how much baseball meant to him. Talon may not have known a whole hell of a lot about the game, but he would try it, if it were important to his little brother.
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Michael Courtenay on Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:00 pm

Michael started to laugh when Talon was trying hard not to, which probably didn't help matters. He didn't really know what was funny about it- maybe the expression on Talon's face as he bit his lip? He smiled and was relieved that the topic wasn't discussed any further, and was practically drowning in excitement as soon as the word 'surprise' was first mentioned.

His excitement was conveyed mostly through his gray-green eyes, which were shining like stars or clean silverware. His mouth formed a small 'o' and his hands were fisted together- the image greatly resembled the expression of a kid half his age on Christmas morning. He then smiled when Talon expressed his disbelief.

"Well, I wasn't expecting a surprise from you either!" He stuck his tongue out playfully. "I'll love anything you give me, don't worry."

Michael's words were meant to reassure Talon, who looked a little apprehensive as he reached into his bag. His eyes widened slightly as his breath was stolen from him as Talon revealed two baseball gloves, and a baseball. He stared in silent awe, gently taking the right-handed glove from Talon's outstretched hand. In the center, there was the ball, clean and unused. The glove was a Rawlings- he could tell from the 'R' in the red circle. It was light tan in color with black lacing, crafted differently from Michael's glove most likely in storage back in Michigan, a black, beat-up Mizuno. He slipped the glove on his left hand, and more surprise was added on as he realized that it fit perfectly. The small brunette wordlessly put his index and middle fingers around the ball while placing his thumb, ring, and pinky at the bottom, forming the grip of a standard curveball. He realized he was dumbfounded for more than a few seconds, and uttered almost inaudibly:

"How did you know?"

The only thing Michael wanted to do, besides spend time with Talon, was play baseball- especially playing catch or throwing. He didn't say anything, because he didn't want to be selfish- Talon must have spent a considerable percentage of his paycheck on these gloves. Was Talon Rogers psychic?! Maybe not- but this act had certainly meant the world to Michael, who was yearning for a glove and a ball since his stay at the youth home.

"I, uh...I don't know if you'd like the idea, but...I've never really played a sport before. I thought you and I could play catch in the afternoons or the mornings or whatever. And maybe you'd be willing to show me a few of those amazing pitching techniques of yours? I'd love to see how a real pitcher does things."

"Are you kidding?" Michael exclaimed loudly and happily, breaking out of his trance. "I've been dying to pitch and play catch with someone since May! You don't even know how happy I am right now!"

He then gave Talon a kind of attack hug, wrapping his arms around his brother's waist as his head rested on his chest. "Thank you so much."

Michael laughed lightheartedly as he let go. "I'll show you how to throw, and maybe I can show you the different pitches I know! I know how to throw a slider, change-up, curveball and a screwball, plus a fastball because everyone knows that. My fast ball is actually my worst pitch because I wasn't formally taught how to pitch- I taught myself from watching other pitchers and things online. I can't throw very fast- my top speed is 62 miles per hour and that's pretty pathetic for a high schooler. But Alan said that my control more than makes up for my lack of speed, because the variety of pitches gave him more of a game plan."

Michael knew he was talking fast and for too long, but he then added: "Can we play catch now? We have to break these gloves in- oh wait! I almost forgot! I have to give you your present!"

Michael took the new glove off and placed the ball inside of it, putting it under his arm face up. He reached into his duffel bag with his free hand and took out the homemade item, extending it in front of Talon. "Ta-da!"

What Michael took out of his bag was an octopus made out of bright orange duct tape. It was about the size of a soup bowl and had eight tentacles protruding out of the sides, each bent at weird angles. The octopus was even sporting a pair of black sunglasses, also out of duct tape.

"I had a looooot of time on my hands. See how it has sunglasses like the agents in Men in Black? That's a reference to when we first met, remember? And I chose to make an octopus because that was symbolic to my rant about trying to change others' sexual preferences. I don't really remember exactly what I said, but I said something like trying to turn gay people straight is like trying to turn a human into an octopus. So the octopus serves as a reminder to always be true to yourself!"

Michael smiled brightly. "The octopus doesn't have a name or a gender yet- I figured since he or she is yours, you'd get to decide that! Do you like it?"
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Talon Rogers on Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:37 pm

Words couldn't come close to describing the relief Talon felt when he saw the look on his brother's face. He had really and truly been worried about giving Michael the glove. For one thing, as he had said, he didn't know the first thing about sports, and he'd asked the advice of the guy in the general store as to the best kind of glove to buy--but what if he'd bought the wrong kind? What if it were poorly made or of an inferior quality? On top of that, he worried that it would bring up feelings Michael didn't want to think about. He had told Talon that he quit baseball after losing his mom...what if the mere act of holding a baseball brought that back in a rush, and he dissolved into tears, or worse? But when Talon saw Michael's fingers curl around the stitching on the baseball, he knew, somehow, that it was all going to be okay.

"How did you know?"

Talon smiled and ruffled Michael's hair affectionately. "You're my little brother," he said simply. "From the first time we met, I could see how much baseball meant to you, and I could imagine how much it must've cost you to give it up. I know how I'd feel if I decided I had to give up singing for some reason. So I...I thought I'd try to give it back to you, sort of, at least a little bit of it. I wasn't sure if you'd be okay with it, but I wanted to let you know that whenever you did want to play again, I'd be willing to play with you. That's what big brothers are for, right?"

Michael's sudden attack hug nearly drove the wind out of Talon's chest, but he hugged his little brother back tightly. "You're welcome, kiddo."

He let Michael talk about the different types of pitches, never letting on that the only two he sort of knew anything about were curveballs and fastballs, and he only knew about them from reading Maniac McGee. It was okay. They would teach each other things. Michael could teach him about baseball and Talon could teach Michael about singing, maybe, or about piano. Or if he ever got his trumpet back, which he was working on, he could teach Michael about that. Or maybe he would teach him something else. Either way, they would teach each other things, and that was okay--nobody knew everything, but everybody knew something.

He was about to agree to a game of catch when Michael remembered that he had a present for Talon. He pulled it out with a flourish--and Talon began laughing with delight. The octopus in the MIB sunglasses was exactly right. It served as the perfect combination of the goofy side of the first conversation they'd ever had, and the more serious realization that they would always be there for one another.

"I love it," he said, hugging Michael tightly and putting the octopus, absurdly, on top of his head. "It's absolutely perfect. How did you know orange was my favorite color?" He glanced upwards to where he could just see a single orange tentacle on his forehead if he crossed his eyes. "Hmm...I think it's a boy. I'll call him Jesse...after all, it means 'gift.'" He smiled and hugged his brother again. "Thank you so much, Michael. I'll treasure him forever." He meant it, too.

Stepping back, he slipped his own glove onto his hand. "All right, I think we've got some time before dinner. How about we break these gloves in with a game of catch? Where do you want to play?"

To his surprise, he found that he was actually excited about the prospect. Sports had never held any allure for him before, but the idea of playing with his little brother was one he rather relished. Even though he was probably going to suck.
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Michael Courtenay on Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:09 pm

Besides his mom giving him up, quitting Graveraft Middle School’s baseball team was one of the core reasons that had thrust Michael into a nervous breakdown. It was pretty much the only thing that he was truly passionate about, and also the only area of his life that he couldn’t deny he was good at. Most of this was Alan’s encouragement and borderline brainwashing, but it was also because Michael was fully aware of how much he’d improved from day one in the tee ball field. It was a major part of his life that he thought he’d lost forever… and then Talon brought it back to him. Words couldn’t describe how happy he was.

Michael giggled as Talon ruffled his hair, the action reminding him of what an important part of his life Talon was. He wrapped his arms around Talon’s waist in a gentler hug than the attack hug.

“Can I tell you something?” He asked. “Since I was able to write, every Christmas, I’d only have one thing on my list. Well, it changed to two or three things over the years, but they would never stay constant except the first one. Every single Christmas, I’d ask for an older brother. I prayed to God too. And my mom kept getting more and more frustrated because I never ask for anything, but the one thing I did ask for I couldn’t have because she wouldn’t be able to take care of another kid. I don’t know- I guess she was mad at herself that the one thing I asked for she couldn’t give to me.”

Michael smiled warmly at Talon. “She didn't have to because God answered my prayer. We found each other.”

As the tiny boy talked about the different pitches in his personal arsenal, he thought that Talon was following for the most part- he was oblivious to the fact that his brother didn’t know more than half of them. That was okay- Michael was basically clueless about vocalism. They could teach each other their own fields of knowledge.

“I threw all of those pitches constantly since elementary school- that’s why my hands are all rough.”

Michael reached over and held Talon’s hand, moving his palms from side to side so that Talon could feel the many callouses that he had. His right hand was so beat up that it greatly resembled one of a person who worked in landscaping for most of their lives, except it was cleaner. Talon’s little brother had been pitching since elementary school- on the side of regular practice. His routine was to participate in practice, ask his coach to stay after and hit fly balls for him to catch, and then when he got home, he would teach himself how to pitch… in turn, honing his control that his teammates sometimes called ‘superhuman’. There was no way of telling how many pitches Michael threw to earn each of them.

Warmth surged through Michael’s blood stream when Talon hugged him- he was overjoyed that he liked the octopus. He couldn’t help himself from laughing when Talon put it on his head. He then giggled as he answered Talon’s question on how he knew his favorite color… in Talon’s voice.

You’re my brother.

He smiled triumphantly, knowing that his imitation sounded just like his big brother. Then, his face became bright and excited again when Talon named the octopus and declared him to be male.

“Awesome! Jesse the Octopus!” He returned Talon’s hug, and said sweetly: “You’re welcome.”

Michael took another look at Jesse being on top of Talon’s head. “You know, Jesse wasn’t originally supposed to be an octopus. Before, I tried to make him a hippo…hippo-po-mo… um, hippo-ta-po-mo-“

Michael was starting to blush as he struggled to say ‘hippopotamus’. “Hippo-mo-to-po- the huge, round creature that lives in the Nile River! Okay,” He took a slow, deep breath to quell his frustration and sighed. “There’s lots of things I can’t say, but I got over most of my speech impediments. Up until I was ten, yellow was ‘lello’, animal was ‘aminal’, computer was ‘poncuter’ and hamburger was 'hamgurber'.”

He started laughing despite how horribly embarrassing it was, and then changed the subject when Talon suggested they break the gloves in.

“We can play here, if you want.” Michael said excitedly. He placed the ball in Talon’s left hand and moved his index and middle fingers over the ball while putting his thumb at the bottom. “See how your fingers are over the backwards ‘C’ made by the seam? That’s the grip of a four-seam fastball. It’s called that because when you throw it, you see all four seams. There’s no point in finding the seam every time you throw the ball- just know the grip. So!”

Michael ran up to a nearby tree so that he was directly in front of his brother. “When you’re throwing, always make sure that you’re standing perpendicular to your target or who you’re throwing to. Your shoulders, feet and hips need to be in line of where the ball will end up. Bring your arm back,” He fisted his right hand to give more of a visual, and created a ‘T’ with his body as he extended both of his arms. “With your glove arm, point that elbow toward your target, and as you’re throwing, torque it down to give you more leverage.”

He showed this by his glove elbow to his hip, and then bent this throwing arm so that his hand was toward the sky. “Bend your throwing elbow at a 90 degree angle so that your forearm is vertical. The ball should really be level with your ear. Then, take a step with your front foot and rotate your shoulders and hips so that you’re squared off to your target as you’re throwing. I should be able to see both of your shoulders if you did it right. When you throw, it should kind of be a whipping motion with your wrists. During your release point, bring the glove towards your body so that it’s not just hanging there. And then, follow through by bringing your back foot forward. I’ll do it again.”

Michael extended both of his arms in the ‘T’ formation as he fisted his throwing hand to pretend like he was holding a baseball and held it above his ear. In the same motion, he bent his glove elbow so that the elbow was facing forward as he brought it close to his body in a downward motion while his throwing elbow came forward. He opened his hand to suggest that he released the ball as he pulled his glove to the center of his body. His right foot was brought forward in the same motion to complete the follow-through.

“Got it?” He asked as he smiled- it was a confident smile, one that wasn’t on his face very much.

Michael had explained the mechanics of throwing dozens of times, but to kids a lot younger than Talon. He knew what he was talking about.

He then opened the glove and held it with the pocket facing Talon at the chest level. “O-kay! Whenever you’re ready!”
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Talon Rogers on Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:57 pm

Talon felt himself blushing when Michael said he was the answer to his prayers. He'd never been an only child--as the "baby" of the family, he'd grown up with a big brother and a big sister. He'd loved his big brother...his sister, not so much, but occasionally when they'd been little she'd been okay. He'd actually kind of liked her, until the day she got Jackson beaten because she ran and told their parents that he had "sinned" by kissing another boy. (On the cheek, which was the kicker; both Jackson and Talon had done far, far worse with other boys in their parents' eyes, it was just that they were better about not getting caught by Aggie.) He had no idea what it was like to have the kind of longing Michael had always expressed. His longing had been of a different kind. He had wanted a little brother that he could love and protect the way Jackson did him, but at the same time, he hadn't wanted to bring another child into his household (he wouldn't dignify it by calling it a family).

In fact, he harbored a secret he had never told anyone, which was that he was supposed to have a little brother--quite a few, actually, brothers and sisters both, or maybe just one or the other. His mother had never been pregnant long enough to find out the gender of her baby--she always miscarried shortly after telling them the news. Talon always felt a slight amount of guilt about his mother's miscarriages, especially when he was younger, because he'd always felt they were his fault. Every time his mother announced she was pregnant, that night at his bedside, he would pray for God to spare another child from the relatively loveless existence he had to endure. And within a week, his mother would be inevitably rushed to the hospital and come home tired and pale to tell the three children that God had called yet another unborn sibling home. Agnes had always cried, and their father had always instructed them to pray for the infant's soul. Talon had always given a prayer of thanksgiving.

Now, of course, he had Michael, and he didn't have his parents, and everything was okay. He had the little brother he had always wanted, and he didn't have to let him grow up in the frighteningly oppressive environment Talon had been in. Michael had issues, but he'd never been abused. Kids in abusive families, in his experience, came out one of three ways. Either they got mean and repeated the cycle, they got strong and defended others, or they got depressed and gave in. Talon and Jackson had grown strong. Agnes was repeating the cycle, although she'd never done anything to get herself beaten. He had a feeling that Michael would have been of the third kind, even with Talon there to protect him.

The callouses on Michael's hands startled him at first, until he heard Michael's explanation. "I can understand that," he said. "I actually get pains in my fingers sometimes, mostly in my knuckles. I used to play piano a lot--I mean, like, all the time. Lot of repetitive joint motion. Mostly I liked to teach myself--I can play just about anything--and it would irritate some of my piano teachers, because I would sit down and want to play popular tunes. One of my teachers thought I couldn't read music because I told her I usually played by ear." He giggled. "One day I came in and she'd left a Mozart piano sonata that one of her other students was doing on the piano...she came in and I was playing it for all it was worth. Boy, was she mad...at first...but she got over it and started giving me harder and harder stuff to play."

“You know, Jesse wasn’t originally supposed to be an octopus. Before, I tried to make him a hippo…hippo-po-mo… um, hippo-ta-po-mo-“

Talon winced in sympathy as his brother struggled to pronounce the word. At least Michael was able to laugh at himself a little bit. He smiled and began to sing a lilting little song he'd learned in preschool. "I can spell 'cat'...C-A-T...I can spell 'hat'...H-A-T...I can spell 'bat'...B-A-T...but I can't spell hippopotamus!" Laughing a bit, he explained, "Spelling's always been my issue. I really can't spell it. H-I-P-P-O, I know...and then comes P-O-T...but that's as far as I can go...and that's what bothers me!"

Michael then went off on a long, technical explanation of how to throw a pitch, all of which accompanied him placing the ball in Talon's hands and wrapping his fingers around it. The grip felt stiff and awkward. Still, he tried to follow his little brother's instructions. He turned to one side--forgetting at first that he was a southpaw and Michael was not, he turned the same way his brother had, then realized what he was doing and quickly turned the other way. He raised his arm, extended his body into a T, and threw.

Michael may have taught countless children far younger than Talon how to throw a ball, but it was hardly likely that they showed a similar lack of talent. His little brother thought he sang like a girl. Talon thought he threw like a girl. He couldn't keep his arm straight--it sort of flopped--and the ball slipped out of his fingers sooner that he wanted it to, so that it spun away from his hand somewhat higher than was desireable. He couldn't suppress a full-body wince. "Look out!" he cried, embarrassed. "Mad ball! Mad ball!"
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Michael Courtenay on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:49 am

Michael completely meant what he said. He was raised a lonely only child and was technically an older half-brother, but Tori and Brielle had made it clear to him that they saw him as a juvenile. ‘You’re so immature,’ Brielle sneered at him once. ‘I don’t really look at you as my older brother- you’re kind of a five-year-old in my eyes.’ Tori was the nicer of the two, but only by a little. He didn’t consider them family because they didn’t consider him family. That was okay- he had Talon. Now until the end of time.

Michael’s eyes brightened in enthusiastic awe when Talon mentioned piano. “Wow! You must be really good! How long have you been playing? I wish I was that good at guitar.”

Evie had taught her son a little about the instrument whenever she had time, especially when he was younger. Michael remembered when he first asked her if she could teach him, and quickly got discouraged when the full-size acoustic was too big for his arm to reach over properly. She sat beside him and positioned his fingers so that they were arched, teaching him how to strum without being robotic. Michael didn’t think he was very good, mostly because he was Michael and had less self-esteem than a hooker in church, but it was also because he only had basic chords and a natural strumming motion in his quiver. He couldn’t play bar chords and was still getting a grip on finger-picking.

He saw Talon wince as he butchered the word ‘hippopotamus’ and laughed harder. He giggled some more when Talon sang a child’s song about not being able to spell ‘hippopotamus’. He clapped at the end.

“I can spell it, I just can’t say it. H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U-S. You’re just missing the A-M-U-S at the end.” He giggled before he knew Talon’s reaction. “My mom’s an English professor. I was either paid or threatened to doing other people’s spelling homework for them.”

Although, it didn’t take much. Anyone in his class could’ve been like, ‘Hey, Courtenay. Do my spelling homework for me.’ And Michael would’ve been on that like a horny male turtle on an empty shoe. Michael would do anything for anyone- all one had to do was simply hint that he’d get to hang out with their group and he’d gladly put up with innumerable amounts of humiliation and abuse.

“My mom and I used to play Scrabble and Bananagrams together- that’s why I’ve been told I’m good at Scrabble.”

Because he didn’t like to brag, that was a complete understatement. Whenever someone around his age versed him in Scrabble, it was a massacre. The only reason why he didn’t participate in spelling bees was because he didn’t like being the center of attention on a stage at any given time. But Talon already knew that.

As he explained the mechanics of throwing, Michael was suddenly thrust into another memory in his personal pensieve. He was suddenly an assistant Little League coach again, teaching kids no older than second graders. They responded well to him, he thought, at least when he didn’t talk fast. There was one little boy on the team who had a stutter, and Michael sort of connected with him. When he first joined, he tried to tell Michael something and was immediately blushing in frustration just like Michael used to until he was in fifth grade.

‘Okay, Freeman, this is what you do,’ Michael explained an analogy that was a fun spin-off of his own speech therapy training. ‘Pretend I’m a whale, and the only way you can possibly communicate with me is if you speak whale. Freeemannn, whaaaat arrre yoooou saaaayinggg?’

What Michael had conveyed without actually getting technical was that when you have a problem with stuttering, the trick to getting over it is to speak slower and learn that other people usually aren’t rushing you to talk. He told Freeman later that he was a stutterer too, when he was much older than him. It was kind of funny- Michael put up a front that he had confidence around younger kids, and they kind of liked him… which he wasn’t used to.

He smiled when he saw Talon switch up his stance after he realized that he was left-handed and had to do everything reversed.

“Sorry! I should’ve done it the other way!” Michael called.

He waited for Talon to throw, and once he had, noted that it wasn’t half-bad for his first time throwing a baseball ever. It was a little high, and it would’ve sailed right over Michael’s head if he didn’t catch it first. He took a step back and staggered slightly as the ball landed right in the pocket.

He laughed when Talon freaked out, and threw the ball back to him.

“Re-lax, Tal! How long do you think I’ve been doing-“

Michael stopped dead and his face spelled out ‘Oh, shit’ as he realized what he’d just done. ‘I didn’t teach him how to catch! Crap!’

“U-Um, duck! Or run! Or do something other than stand there!”

Michael hid his face in the glove. He couldn’t look.
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Talon Rogers on Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:03 pm

Talon grinned at Michael's enthusiasm when he told him he played piano. "I started goofing around with the piano at church when I was three. My folks got me lessons starting when I was four, and I took them religiously until I got sent to Hadley. I've only played a couple of times since then, but..." He trailed off a little. The last time he had played the piano, he had been belting out a Mariah Carey tune and gotten into a fistfight with an older, stronger, and definitely angrier patient. Part of the reason he'd never gone back was that he had been a little worried about a repeat incident. Part of the reason had been the move from Hadley to St. Christina's. He'd never quite found out where the piano was around here, though it wasn't for lack of trying.

Refocusing on Michael's comment about wishing he was good at guitar, his eyes brightened. "Hey, we'll have to have a jam session sometime. You on guitar, me on piano...maybe we can get a couple other people involved, too. That'd be fun, right? Bet we could even get a jazz band or something put together and perform. I heard there was a talent show about a year ago--maybe it's an annual thing." He had momentarily forgotten that Michael didn't like being the center of attention, but he also thought that maybe if he wasn't completely alone it would be different. As long as he had a team of backup, it would be okay. Maybe.

He giggled along with his brother when the younger boy spelled "hippopotamus" for him. "A-M-U-S," he repeated. "I'll try to remember that. I can never remember if it's supposed to be an A or an I or a U. I spell phoenetically unless I can look at the word I'm trying to spell. Trying to fill out the registration form to get in here was a nightmare...I had to ask the orderly to write down 'Phoenicia' for me because I wasn't sure how to spell it properly."

The smile faded, however, when Michael said that he had been "paid or threatened into" doing his classmates' homework. From what he knew of his little brother, it probably hadn't taken much to get him to do it...but that still wasn't right. They had basically taken advantage of him. "Well, that doesn't seem fair," he finally said, as calmly as he could. "I might ask you to help me out spelling a word or two, once school starts up properly, but I wouldn't want you to do my homework for me. How can one learn how to do something if someone else is doing it for him?" He didn't blame Michael for doing other people's homework--he knew the boy just wanted to please--but it made him furious to think of other people taking advantage of Michael's generosity and naivite.

Finally, they settled down to the more serious--or less serious, depending on how you looked at it--business of teaching Talon how to throw a baseball. Michael caught the wild pitch, laughing, and Talon relaxed. He hadn't hurt his brother. Now he would explain--again--how to throw properly and--

“U-Um, duck! Or run! Or do something other than stand there!”

Talon--he would never be ashamed to admit it--shrieked like a little girl when he saw the white sphere whirling towards him. For some reason, he hadn't actually expected Michael to throw the ball back at him. He had no earthly idea how to catch, other than some vague notion of what he had seen his brother do. Instinctively, he threw his hands in front of his face. Fortunately, the glove was on the outside.

Unfortunately, Michael's aim was better than Talon's, and Michael hadn't aimed at Talon's face. The ball caught him square on the sternum and bounced off, like a container of Jell-O when you threw it at a wall. The only difference was that walls didn't make weird wheezing noises and collapse onto the ground when you threw Jell-O at them. Talon, on the other hand, did. He ended up kneeling on the ground, his free hand covering the spot where the ball had struck, his gloved hand pressed against the ground for support, tears squeezing out of the corners of both eyes as he fought to regain his breath.

Looking up at Michael, he managed to gasp out, "Thanks for the warning. Sorry I didn't move quick enough."
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Michael Courtenay on Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:07 pm

Michael’s eyes shined like awe-struck stars. From the way Talon described his piano playing skills, he was really impressed. “You’ve been playing a long time then- you must be amazing.”

Then again, Michael thought that just about everything Talon did was amazing. It was a phenomenon only little brothers had as they looked up to their older brothers. Talon was a mirror image of what Michael wanted to be like as he grew older. If he’d asked, Talon most likely would tell him that he had the same mentality with Jackson. Talon had been through Hell and he was strong because of it- Michael knew that if he grew up under the Rogers’ roof, he’d collapse… in every sense of the word. Maybe some of Talon’s confidence (Which was just the right amount- not too little and not too much) would rub off on him… maybe.

He noticed that Talon didn’t finish his thought, and blinked curiously. He wondered what his brother was thinking about, but he didn’t ask because it looked a touch painful.

Michael was instantly excited about the mentioning of a jam session. “That’d be awesome! Since you mentioned it, I’ve been dying to hear you play.”

He decided that he wouldn’t have minded performing in front of an audience if other people were on stage with him. He knew he’d get a tiny bit stage fright, but not to the magnitude of the fourth grade play or the sixth grade choral concert.

A smile. “That’s okay. Everyone has subjects they’re strong in and subjects that are their ultimate downfall. I’m not a very good math student, especially not when I’m anxious. There was this one time in second grade, I remember this clearly, when I was called up to the board and I was really nervous because I knew everyone would be watching me do an equation that I knew I’d get wrong. I was on the brink of an anxiety attack, actually. Get this- it’s really embarrassing: the problem was 4 plus 7… and I stared at it for a good few minutes before I wrote ‘Impossible Equation’ down at the bottom where the answer was supposed to go and ran back to my seat. My teacher was like, ‘Michael, please see me after class.’“ A deep, older woman’s voice spouted out of his larynx. “So I did. And she was mind-boggled that I couldn’t add 4 plus 7, but I could spell ‘Impossible Equation’ correctly. It was hilarious. I also have this thing called test anxiety where, no matter how hard I study the night beforehand, any piece of paper labeled a quiz or a test comes in front of my face… I forget everything because I freak out. My test anxiety is at it’s worst on math tests, which doesn’t help at all.”

He shrugged after he told Talon about his classmates, then nodded, agreeing with him. “You’re right. But I didn’t mind doing it. And sure thing! I’ll be like your spell check. That doesn’t write papers for you.”

After Michael threw the ball, his face turned white as a sheet. He didn’t even have to think about throwing- it was just second nature. He’d thrown so many baseballs back and forth between so many people that he didn’t stop to think that he needed to pause in between so that he could teach Talon how to catch. He realized that Talon didn’t have the necessary experience to aim where he was throwing, which was why it went over his head. Though Michael, like every baseball player, had been taught to aim at the letters… or the chest area where the letters on the uniform would be. For the first time in his life, he cursed the accuracy that Alan praised- he knew exactly where that ball was headed. At this point, he wouldn’t have been able to miss that mark if he were blind.

Michael started running over to Talon the second the ball made contact.

“T-Talon!” His voice was panic-stricken as his legs carried him faster than he thought they could. He saw his brother coughing and trying not to cry and he wondered how he could have done a thing like this. He knelt down and slung Talon's arm over his shoulder.

"C-Can you stand?"

As Michael tried to think of what to do, his OCD had completely taken over his mind:

'You hurt Talon.'
'You hurt Talon.'
'You hurt Talon.'
'You hurt Talon.'
'You hurt Talon on August 15th, 2011.'
'How could you hurt him?!'
'How could you hurt the one who means the most to you?!'
'Stop freaking out, loser!'
'HE'S the one who should be worried, not you!'

Michael's thoughts came in a tidal wave, crashing against his brain all at once, sloshing around so that everything got mixed up and jumbled. He trembled underneath Talon's arm, trying desperately to calm his breathing down.

"U-Um, m-maybe we should go to the nurse- or-or- um, I mean-"

If Michael were thinking more rationally, he'd know that, compared to his pitches, the ball was thrown in a mere toss. It would leave a bruise and be sore for a little while, but it wasn't as though he killed him or broke a bone. Unfortunately, panic had taken hold of his reasonable mind, and he spoke in the same rapid pace like he had when they first saw each other.

"I-I-I didn't mean to hurt you! I'm so sorry! I'm such a horrible person!"

If Michael were calm, he'd know that what he'd done wasn't completely unforgivable, nor was Talon's wound as serious as he thought it was. He'd been hit plenty of times by baseballs- most of them were when it was hit by a bat, and those were awful.

"C-C'mon," Michael's mousy voice offered gently, trying to push both of them off the ground. "Y-You can stand, right?"

He rose, hoping that Talon would be able to stand up, and the tears he held back came spilling out one by one. "I-I'm sorry. I should have thought before I threw. It's-it's just a reflex now."

Michael hid his face with his sleeve. 'I shouldn't be the one crying,' He scolded to himself. 'I'm the perpetrator. I'm the one who caused this.'

"I-It'll leave a bruise," Michael sobbed. "I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you. I-It was an accident."
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Talon Rogers on Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:33 pm

Through a haze of pain, Talon saw Michael running towards him. The initial pain of being struck with a baseball was subsiding, and he was beginning to get his breath back, but his chest still hurt somewhat. That was only to be expected. See, this was why he didn't play sports. He was lousy at them. It wasn't that he was intolerant to pain--no one could grow up gay in his parents' house without having a high pain threshhold--just that the sudden impact had caught him off-guard. He had expected the ball to come at his face because his own ball had come in at what would have been face-level for him, but he had momentarily forgotten that Michael could put the ball wherever he wanted. Probably he was supposed to have caught the ball at chest-level. If he had listened to Michael and ducked, or dodged, he wouldn't have been struck. It was his own fault, really.

The torrent of words that came flooding out of Michael's mouth, however, penetrated the fog around Talon's head. He realized that his little brother was blaming himself. Stupid, stupid, stupid! he railed at himself. You know he blames himself for everything! Why couldn't you have got out of the way? He put out his free hand, trying to wave away Michael's apologies, and struggled to explain himself, but he still hadn't managed to get his breath back and all that came out was a kind of strangled wheeze.

"U-Um, m-maybe we should go to the nurse- or-or- um, I mean-"

"NO," Talon managed to say, forcing the word out. The simple act of speaking normally and clearly seemed to bring the air back to his lungs, and he took a couple of deep breaths before speaking again in a still slightly breathless voice. "I'm okay. I'm okay. Really, I'm okay." He rubbed his chest for a second, then tried to get to his feet. He wobbled a bit, then managed to get himself vertical, albeit shakily. Smiling down at Michael as best he could, he spread his hands out, as much in a "ta-da" sort of gesture as to keep his balance. "See? I'm just fine, honest."

It was too late. Michael's voice had taken on the hysterical quality it had held when they first met as he apologized repeatedly.

"I-I-I didn't mean to hurt you! I'm so sorry! I'm such a horrible person!"

"Michael. Baby. It's okay." Instinctively, Talon gathered his little brother into his arms, holding him close, ignoring the renewed waves of pain from the bruise on his chest. "You're not a horrible person. I know you didn't hurt me on purpose. Heck, you didn't even do it. It was the baseball--the ball, and me not getting out of the way fast enough." He stroked Michael's hair gently. "You told me to duck, or run, or something. It's not your fault I didn't duck or run. I should've been paying better attention. I'm sorry."

He held Michael more tightly, closing his eyes and feeling a pain that had nothing to do with the baseball. He'd never meant to hurt his little brother, never meant to scare him. He'd thought they would be having fun. It had never occurred to him that he needed to pay close attention to what the ball was doing at all times, not just when he had thrown it. He had forgotten it was coming back, and that idiocy had gotten him hurt and upset Michael.

"I-It'll leave a bruise...I'm sorry. I don't want to hurt you. I-It was an accident."

Talon scoffed lightly, trying to turn the whole thing into a joke. "Please. You think I've never had bruises before? Obviously you've never seen what goes on during an exorcism. This was nothing. It just caught me off-guard, that's all." He knelt down onto Michael's level, looking into his eyes seriously, then reached out and wiped away the tears spilling from those eyes. "It's okay, Michael, honest. I'm sorry I scared you. I'll pay much better attention from now on. Please calm down. For me?"
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Re: Watching the River Run

Post by Michael Courtenay on Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:30 pm

He knew this was all his fault.

‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’

Michael’s face and body showed his intense panic as he was caught up in ‘should’s’. He should have thought before he threw. He should have realized that Talon didn’t know how to catch. He should have stopped himself and taught Talon how to catch beforehand. He should have thought.

‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’

He saw Talon’s hand wave almost in a dismissive nature, but he still couldn’t stop his desperate self-talk. It was almost a way to organize his mismatched thoughts while also trying to comfort himself. He started speaking in quickening hysterics.

“M-Maybe we should get help- or-or… er, um… I don’t know what to do with a bruise- I’m not a doctor- Oh God, I’m useless- Maybe-maybe-“

Michael’s words were just recording his current thought pattern. Sentences were blended together so that he spoke like someone with Broca’s aphasia. His repetitive thoughts were causing physical pain now. He didn’t know what else to do besides grind his teeth and clutch the side of his head.

‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’

"NO,"

Michael visibly flinched at Talon’s stern, one syllable protest… and was immediately silenced. He tried to listen as Talon struggled to breathe, but then was bombarded with more thoughts of worry. ‘What if Talon’s mad at me? He should be, but I don’t want him to be mad- what if- what if- what if-‘ Panic showed on his face once more as he stood- he didn’t hear Talon’s reassurance because he was waist deep in anxiety, on the brink of an attack.

‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’
‘You hurt Talon.’

Talon said he was okay as he staggered, putting a hand on his chest again. Michael’s eyes began to well with tears that he tried to push away.

‘He’s just saying that so that I’ll calm down. I’m such an emotional wreck he’s lying just to make me feel better…’

When the two brothers stood together, Michael didn’t hear his reassurance because he was trying to calm his breathing down- it was borderline hyperventilation. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, but he especially didn’t want to hurt Talon- the most important person to him. His big brother- the one he prayed for all his life and finally received. The one who made him feel wanted, loved and secure. He hurt him, and he didn’t know how he was going to live with himself.

Michael couldn’t stop himself from crying and over-apologizing after that. It was a crime that he was meant to be punished for. It was an action that he deemed unforgivable, like killing the goldfish and peeing on the cat and stealing the gum when he was dared to. This incident may have just taken first place on his list as the most horrible things he’d done in his life. It was-

Before he could finish his thought, Talon embraced him. For this moment, Michael was wrapped in loving warmth and golden light pulsed through his veins… and then he was calm. His breathing was slowed, his heart turning to a normal beat. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around his brother’s waist. Michael felt love in a physical sense as Talon held him close. He didn’t think that love could be tangible, or felt with the skin, but he learned then that it was.

"You're not a horrible person. I know you didn't hurt me on purpose. Heck, you didn't even do it. It was the baseball--the ball, and me not getting out of the way fast enough."

Suddenly, Michael didn’t let his OCD take over, but slowly eased a phrase in his head, repeating it over and over as if Talon were saying it himself.

‘You’re not a horrible person.’
‘You’re not a horrible person.’
‘You’re not a horrible person.’
‘You’re not a horrible person.’
‘You’re not a horrible person.’
‘You’re not a horrible person.’
‘You’re not a horrible person.’

In a state of unease because he’d never challenged his OCD before, Michael fisted Talon’s shirt and cried uncontrollably into it.

“B-But, I should have thought I needed to teach you how to-“

Talon brought him closer, and he stopped talking. He just wanted to enjoy being in his brother’s arms, taking in the warmth and the love that felt like sunlight. He tried to be calm, and with a few deep breaths, he was.

Talon was genuinely trying to squeeze humor out of the situation. Michael looked down at the ground, avoiding Talon’s gaze, his leftover tears welling at the bottom of his eyes. He tried to move the corners of his mouth to form a small smile, but it was washed away when he reminded himself that he was the perpetrator, and that Talon was the one who suffered and went through unspeakable horrors… and he wasn’t the one being comforted.

As his brother wiped away his tears, Michael couldn’t meet his gaze.

‘I’m selfish,’ He scolded. ‘And I’m pathetic too for crying even though Talon was the one injured. But…’

The tiny brunette slowly and wordlessly held Talon’s outstretched hand that he was using to wipe away his tears. He put his new baseball glove on the ground, and now both of his hands were on Talon’s… his soft left hand and his calloused right. His fingers laced around, feeling every friction ridge on the insides of his fingers and palm. The loving, gentle warmth transferred from Michael’s formally freezing, shaking hand to Talon’s.

‘…Talon doesn’t think so. He loves me and I love him too. He thinks I’m a good person, and he forgives me. He sees the good in me, and I see the good in him too. We’re going to be brothers until the day both of us die. He thinks I’m worth the trouble to comfort me even if he’s in pain.’

Michael gingerly held Talon’s hand close to him and kissed the top of one of his fingers in a silent apology. Round, wet hazel eyes met dark brown as they said, ‘Please don’t be mad at me. Don’t throw me away like everyone else…’

"I love you." He almost whispered as he held his hand close to his chest. "I'm sorry."
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Michael Courtenay

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