September 11, 2001, a day that would forever live in his memory.
A day he wished had never happened.
But it did.
The towers fell, people died.
Children. Husbands. Wives. Parents. Grandparents. Sisters. Brothers.
Which is how he found himself standing in a place so awkwardly silent it was painful.
His last message from his brother was a picture. A picture of him with a woman he would later call his fiance.
Another victim of the attacks.
Meet your new sister, it was captioned.
He couldn't ask his mother, who- at the moment- was not talking about the girl who Cal had called his sister, and the only other person he could think to ask was dead.
Surprised was not an emotion Chase usually felt, but when he found the mystery girl's funeral was being held at the very same place at the very same time as his brothers… well, he was surprised to say the very least.
And, then he was back to the silence.
The painful, deadly, silence.
His brother would have wanted conversation. Laughter. Or at least for it not to be nearly as awkward as it was.
Aunts and uncles stood around, pretending to know the boy he called his brother.
People attempted to talk to his mother, only to be impolitely brushed away with a wave on the hand.
People tried to talk to him. Only he would merely nod, out of politeness, something his hypocrite of a mother had taught him long ago.
When a girl began laughing in a corner near the closed casket of the woman standing with his brother, he began to become interested.
It wasn't a real laugh.
It was forced and fake and filled with tears.
He walked up to her, a tissue in hand.
She took it gratefully, nodding in his direction. "Thank you," her voice barely above a whisper.
"Why were you laughing," He inquired, not caring much about how he must of sounded. HIs curiosity was far too great.
"Because she-" The girl pointed toward the closed casket. "Wanted me to. She texted me, before she bled out, Laugh," She forced another laugh, drawing bitter looks from people all around them. "So I am. I'm laughing."
He nearly smiled at her bravery.
His laugh sounded no where near as forced as her's- a talent taught to him by his mother after his father had left.
If you look fine, you are fine, she had told him, all of those years ago.
Which is why she now stood alone in a corner, as he was afraid he might catch whatever horrible illness his mother had caught when her husband had left.
The girl had by then finished wiping away her own tears, and had begun to stare deeply into the tissue as if it held the secrets of the world.
"His name was Cal," He said. "And he would have wanted people to laugh too."
"Cal," She said, as though testing it out, "What an interesting name."
He nodded, "My mother felt creative with him." He stuck out his hand. "Chase Turnleaf, brother of the departed,"
"Rory Landon, merely a close-" She stopped herself, " a sister of the girl under the lid."
They shook and everything changed.
They met once more, at a place where everyone wasn't draped in black.
A coffee shop to be exact.
At the time they didn't call it a date, but later, when telling their story to their kids, they included the time when they met over a cup of coffee and talked.
They talked about the girl who Chase never got to know as a sister and the boy who was finally ready to introduce the girl of his dreams to his family.
They talked about the brave girl who had recently got a blood sister and was afraid she would lose her too.
They talked about the boy whose father had came back only to be told to go away.
But, it didn't take long for the star crossed lovers that had brought them together to return to conversation.
"How did you meet her?" Chase asked, taking a sip of his cold coffee.
Rory thought back for a second. "It was the first day on set for a movie and she had been cast as my older sister." She paused for a second, going back through every moment of that day, "I guess that's why I called her my sister."
Chase nodded his head. "When does the movie come out?"
"On July 19th,"
She looked him in the eye, thinking for a second, "So I've got a question for you. What was Cal doing at the twin towers."
Chase bit his lip, "He was interviewing for a job. Some growing business that specializes in teaching kids in poorer countries how to read." He pulled out his phone and showed her a bookmarked page, "I didn't really care when he was first talking about it, but now that he's- you know- I thought it wouldn't hurt to find out more,"
Rory smiled, "That's cool,"
And then suddenly it didn't matter much that they were mourning the loss of his brother and her sister. All that mattered were that her hands were in his hair and his lips were against hers.
And for one moment, they forgot about the brother that made everyone feel like they belonged, and the girl who was more like a sister than she could have ever imagined.