Disclaimer: I don't own Casper, I'm just playing with someone else's toys.
A/N: Commissioned by and written for ghostlylolita on tumblr.
Contents Under Pressure
Stretch is terrifying when he's angry, and when he gets to the point he's at now, nobody knows what to do with him. He's at the point where he's stopped screaming, stopped ranting, and left the bar. The air around him is one big cold pocket, to the point of exposing James' breath when he tires to calm him down. And when Stretch floats away from him, nicknacks and pictures and books leap from their mounts and smash against the walls and floor.
While this kind of mood is of no good use to anybody, Stinkie thinks that Kat should get some kind of credit. She's the only one that can make Stretch this angry. As she's grown older, her mouth has become smarter, her wit sharper, and she can easily hold her own against Stretch. She doesn't scare anymore, either, even when he legitimately tries. And when this happens, when Stretch is freezing the house and shattering objects and glaring with red eyes, Kat ignores it, brushes it all off, and is comfortable knowing things will go back to normal in a few hours.
Everybody else, however, remains on edge. James tries sometimes, good naturedly, to talk Stretch out of it. This never goes as planned, and the results often leave the good doctor shaken for a night or so. Casper used to try, until Kat talked him out of it, convincing him that he already has enough on his plate when it comes to Stretch, and he doesn't need one more temper tantrum to deal with. Fatso avoids Stretch all together, preferring to amuse himself until things blow over. Confrontation of that sort is just not for him, and even he knows when to leave Stretch alone. He's a forced to be reckoned with on a good day, so when the bad days come, Fatso would just rather leave that to someone else.
That someone, this time, happens to be Stinkie. He doesn't like seeing Stretch like this, mostly because it scares even him, and that's saying something. He doesn't scare easy, and he shouldn't (all things considered), but when Stretch is like this, a phantom surge of anxiety floods his ectoplasm.
Stretch is in their room, in the ghost equivalent of a sit at the edge of what used to be his bed. His eyes are still red, and he's just glaring at the wall. The temperature has dropped enough that even Stinkie can feel the change, and he suppresses a mock shiver as he carefully floats toward his brother.
"I'll show that waste o' meat," Stretch mutters, and the venom in his voice actually worries Stinkie for a moment. But then he remembers: this is Stretch, and while he has his moments – these moments – if he hasn't done anything to Kat in all these years the Harveys have lived with them, he won't be doing anything now.
"Just who in the hell does she think she is?" he goes on, and the vents above Stinkie's old bed creak. This is probably as good a time as any to butt in.
"Yeah, eh?" Stinkie chimes in, and does a fairly good job hiding his nerves. "I mean, after all we done for the brat – "
"The hell're you doin' here?" Stretch snaps, twisting around on the bed, turning those red, red eyes on Stinkie. The temperature drops a few more degrees.
"I was jus' checkin' on ya, dat's all," Stinkie answers honestly, any bravado he may have had or planned on having gone.
"Geez, ain't you a sweetheart," Stretch mutters, a sneer curling his lips, baring his teeth. "Well ya checked, So bugger off already."
"Aw, c'mon," Stinkie says, and inches closer because at least Stretch is talking to him. "Don't be like dat.
"I'll be whatever goddamn way I wanna be, thank you," Stretch snaps, turning away from Stinkie again, resuming his staring contest with the wall. It's just Stinkie's opinion, but he thinks the wall may be out of its league.
Stinkie moves closer until he's able to actually sit by Stretch. "S'it really worth gettin' dis worked up ovah? I mean, I honestly t'ought you an' Kat'd be used t'all dis by now."
When Stretch turns that glare back on him, he clears his throat and gives him a weak smile. "Y'know, like – each other an' all dat stuff."
It takes a few moments, but the temperature in the room slowly begins to rise. Stretch sighs and shakes his head, running a hand over his face. When he pulls his hand away, his eyes are blue again.
"That's the problem," he says and shrugs one shoulder. "We're all so fricken used t'each other now, it's all become so... predictable. There ain't no surprises left."
"So... ya got all pissed off 'cause ya... bored?" Stinkie suggests.
For a moment, Stretch's eyes are red again, and Stinkie wonders if this is because he's angry at himself for being caught getting so worked up over something so trivial. Stinkie is surprised to find himself proven right when Stretch relaxes again and sighs.
"Yeah. I guess so."
"Well, if dat's da problem, why didn'tcha say so? Ya know as well as I do dat fleshies ain't good for fun when dey're used t'us. Dis t'ing with Kat's jus' gonna keep pissin' ya off if ya keep goin' at it."
Stretch stares at him for a few long seconds, one eyebrow slowly raising. Stinkie's not sure if he's said the wrong thing or not, but the sudden silence and that stare is making him nervous again.
"An' here I thought you was just another pretty face," Stretch teases, and this catches Stinkie off guard. He had expected him to yell again, to tell him to get out, to degrade him in some way. But this surprises him, though he can't say he'll complain about it later. Stretch rarely ever has anything nice to say, and so even if he's teasing, Stinkie clings to this moment.
He finds himself grinning almost coyly to his brother. "Flattery won't getcha anywhere."
"Oh, really?" Stretch muses, and moves a little closer to his brother. "Then I guess I'm just gonna have t'get a lil more serious, ain't I?"
It's been years, and Stinkie still feels a little unsure of Stretch's affections. He can't really tell if they're genuine or not, if Stretch loves him in a way brothers shouldn't love each other, or if he's a placebo for things and people Stretch can't have anymore. Sometimes he thinks about this, most of the time he doesn't. It doesn't really matter, anyway, because in the end and for now, Stretch is all he has, too.
"I think you're gonna hafta, yeah," Stinkie muses right back, playing his overbite against his bottom lip. He's not qutie sure why, but Stretch always seems to like it more when he plays hard to get. He thinks it has something to do with his ego, a narcissism not even death could cure him of.
"Ain't got no problems with that," Stretch says and that's the last coherent thing spoken between the two of them for the next few hours. What follows is complicated, and not even they understand it, but they've long since stopped questioning it. All Stinkie knows is that when Stretch touches him in a certain way, runs a hand over certain areas, he feels warm and alive again. It's not the same, of course, but it's close enough, and he hopes he makes Stretch feel the same.
It's the least he can do for him, and if this is what it takes to calm his brother down after a spat with Kat, Stinkie doesn't mind obliging. He will gladly let Stretch do whatever he has to, whatever he needs to do to him to work out any anger left in him. The process may be rough, but it's worth it, and in the end it benefits the entire house – even if they don't realize it.
Nobody knows it's Stinkie that gets Stretch calm again, and they certainly don't know how he does it. And,quite frankly?
It's none of their business.