Author: Laughing PM
Rob Thurman fic. Oneshot, addendum to my story 'Enough'. Cal finds that Niko has kept the card for the past fifteen years. Fluffy.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family/Humor - Cal L. & Niko L. - Words: 1,467 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 16 - Published: 07-17-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4402648
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is dedicated to Julia, who sparked the idea. It's an addendum to my story 'Enough', but can also stand alone. I hope you like it!
Oh--I almost forgot. Thank you soo much everybody for all the reviews on 'Enough'! It was overwhelming, really. I'm pretty sure my self-esteem shot up like twenty points when I woke up the morning after posting it and had an inbox full of reviews. So yeah, thanks a bunch!
"What's this?" asked Promise, holding up a small wooden box that she'd found in the drawer in Nik's bedside table.
Niko gave an uncharacteristic start when he glanced up from his book and saw the box. "Oh." It wasn't that he was speechless, but more that he was weighing his words. "It just contains some…mementos."
I snorted. "You have mementos? From what?"
Niko was sitting at his desk reading, and Promise and I were on his bed. She'd slept over and, as both of them apparently had the day off, she was spending the day here. I didn't mind, except that Niko was content to simply stay in his room with her and do…things, all day, and that left me by myself, and I had gotten bored. We didn't have any clients at the moment, and it was before my shift at work, so I really had absolutely nothing to do. So I had come right to my main source of entertainment—Nik. Except he had insisted that he was all busy with his schoolwork or whatever, and that he couldn't play with me at just that moment, so I'd done what any self-respecting twenty-year old would do. I'd plopped onto his bed and stolen his girlfriend's copy of TIME (which, by the way, who knew that my brother's three hundred-year old, classy as hell, vampire girlfriend read magazines?) right out of her hands and had proceeded to look at the pictures and pretended to be interested in world events for the better part of an hour, until Promise had gotten bored and nosy and had rifled through Nik's things and found the box.
"From our life," Niko answered simply, not offering any more details about it.
Now see, Promise, she has respect for Niko's privacy, and having sensed that he didn't want to get into it, she set the box on top of the bedside table and left it alone. I guess I take back the nosy comment. I, however, had very little respect for Niko's privacy because, let's face it, I've seen him naked more times than I can count, and when you're a brother and not a lover, that fact makes everything else fair game. Mentally acknowledging this fact, I reached over Promise and snatched the box. Feeling Niko's laser-sharp gaze on me, I gained a little bit of that aforementioned respect, and I met his eyes, my hand hovering over the clasp.
"Can I open it?" I asked.
Niko studied me for a moment, as he often did when I asked him things that he didn't want to answer. I like to think that he was remembering all the times that he'd changed my diaper, or dressed me, and how he knows every aspect of my being, and how it would only be fair that he share this with me, so that I might know a bit more of him. More likely though, he was just wondering if he could trust me to see whatever things he had in this quaint little keepsake box and not embarrass him by saying things like 'quaint little keepsake box,' which, of course, I would never do. Finally, after all this thinking, he nodded.
I opened the box, and dumped it out onto the bed.
"That's nice, Caliban," Promise said, dryly commenting on my less-than-ceremonious emptying of the box.
"Thanks," I said, and was about to follow up with some snazzy comment, but then I saw one of the things in the box. It was a card made out of bright pink construction paper, cut into a heart shape. Incredulously, I picked it up to examine it. "I can't believe that you kept this," I muttered, more to myself than to Nik, who was currently shrugging and closing his book.
"I told you that I wanted to keep it," he said, as if he'd meant all along to hold on to one measly Mother's Day card for fifteen years.
"What is it?" Promise asked, looking with interest at the card. I handed it to her.
"Thanks, Mom, for Niko," she read out loud. I felt a twinge of pink come over my face as she gave me that sugary, almost teary 'Aww, Cal,' look. "You made this?" she asked me.
"He did," Niko answered for me, moving over to sit on the bed too. He held out his hand for the card, and Promise gave it to him. "He was about five, I think, when he gave it to me." Nik tapped my foot affectionately, but I was kind of embarrassed, and glanced away. Giving your kick-ass big brother a bright pink heart that you made is cute when you're in kindergarten, but less so when you're old enough to be in college. "It was Mother's Day," he told Promise, "and he was supposed to list the things that his mother had given him on the card, but we decided that Sophia wasn't quite the most grateful person on earth, and he gave it to me instead."
"And you've kept it ever since?" she asked.
"I have. To remind myself of reasons why I shouldn't kill him when he spills Robin's red wine on the carpet."
"Shit. I didn't know that you knew about that," I said, trying to take the focus of the moment off of me and the card.
"I know everything, little brother, or hadn't you figured that out already?" Niko said, willing to change the subject because it made me uncomfortable.
Promise, however, wasn't quite as compromising. "You're a good brother, Cal," she said, leaning over to kiss me on the cheek.
Pretty sure my face was beet red by this point. I kind of grunted in acknowledgement and slid off the bed. "I have to go to work now…"
I saw Niko exchange a knowing look with Promise. "I'll walk you out," he said to me, getting up too.
Walking into the living room, I cleared my throat, praying that my face was back to its normal color.
"She's right, you know," Niko said casually, picking up my jacket from the floor where I'd left it the night before when I'd gotten home from work.
"That you're a good brother," he said.
I don't do much sentimental stuff after one of us has been hurt badly, much less when we're both standing there, healthy as the proverbial horse. Awkwardly shifting my stance, I said, "Yeah, well, you're not bad yourself."
Niko smiled a small smile that told me that he could see right through me and wasn't buying it. "I love you, Cal," he said simply, as if stating a fact from one of his many textbooks. "I love you, and I'm more grateful for you than you can ever know. I may not have a neon-colored heart with which to express it, but I am, and I hope that you know that."
Okay, so seriously. Niko was my memento-collecting, keepsake box-making, completely-Zen-and-comfortable-with-his-emotions big brother, but that was a pretty blunt speech, even for him. People just don't come right out and say those things to each other, even if they meant them with all their heart. Niko knew that I returned every single feeling that he'd just said, but now I felt obligated to say it... "I…know," I said, my face probably changing color again. Since when did I blush, by the way? "And, well…"
Niko tossed me my jacket. "You don't need to say it, Cal," he said kindly. "I know. And I've got proof, right here." He held up the card that he was still for some reason holding.
Yeah… "So, we don't have to, like, hug or anything now, do we?" I asked, pulling on my jacket.
"No. You can show your affection for me later when you clean the carpet. That'll be enough."
Man… "Yeah, okay. See you later."
"See you later, little brother."