Title: The Number Game

Author: Karen T

Rating: G

Disclaimer: Everwood and its characters do not belong to me.

Classification: Angst, Laynie POV

Spoilers: The Last of Summer

Archive: Please ask first.

Feedback: Always appreciated. Please send to poohmusings@yahoo.com.

Notes: My first Everwood fic. The S2 premiere just moved me too much.

For the first time in her life, she thinks in terms of numbers.

She revels in how they are concrete and absolute and lack the flightiness that she finds in such abstract ideas as "ache" and "regret." With these numbers, she begins building the story of his life.

9 is the age he was when he'd told her that Santa Claus wasn't real and she'd bawled in response. 2 is the number of weeks he was grounded for this.

10 is the age he was when he'd accidentally elbowed her in the face and given her a black eye. 6 is how many times she'd made him apologize before forgiving him.

13 is the age he was when he'd flown into a rage upon learning she'd been snooping in his room and had found his and Bright's collection of Playboy magazines. 12 is how many times he'd made her apologize before forgiving her.

But even as the numbers tumble over each other -- 2 basketball championships he'd helped Everwood High win -- and begin concealing each other -- 3 times he'd needed to take his driver's license test before passing -- there is a number in particular that refuses to be eclipsed by the others: 1.

1 phone call that replays itself over and over again in her mind.

1 long minute she'd stared at the phone receiver in her hand after her father's strained, detached voice had disappeared.

1 hour she'd stayed crouched on the bathroom floor beside the toilet.

1 good-bye she wishes she could take back.

1 good-bye she finds she still cannot say.

1 brother buried far before his time.

1 sibling, numb, when there should be two.

--the end--