NOTES: This is a companion piece to "Never Stopped". It's not necessary to read that first, but I'd would like it if you did. Feedback makes me feel lovely.

Shannon wasn't nearly as stuck up as everyone at school had said she was. The truth was, she and Boone had been home schooled until 6th grade, and Shannon simply never had a chance to develop the social skills needed to cope with middle school. The only reason Boone had made it through successfully was because he played sports in the summer. He had interaction with other kids. Not Shannon. Shannon never had a chance.
Middle schoolers can be cruel. Malicious even. They took one look at Shannon, at her designer clothes and manicured nails. They noticed that she was quiet and never talked to anyone. They just assumed she was a bitch.
Rumors started to fly about Shannon as soon as she got that. About what she had said to so-and-so about another so-and-so. Things that Shannon had never said, and would never say. Shannon was actually very sweet. Most people didn't know that.
It doesn't take long, though, for a person to become what everyone says they are. Shannon had to cope somehow, so she just became the bitch everyone said she was. She became stuck up for them, so that at least they wouldn't be lying when they talked about her. Although Boone knew he had to take some of the blame. He had to take the responsibility for pushing her away. She was the last person she had, after all.
Boone couldn't stand to see his classmates treat his sister the way they did. He didn't think twice about dumping all his friends and devoting himself entirely to Shannon, to making sure she knew she wasn't what they said she was. He remembered the exact day and time of the first time he kissed her. Some freshman had called Shannon a bitch, straight to her face. Boone didn't understand how someone could do that. She sobbed for hours and nothing he said could make her stop. He held, stroked her hair, tried desperately to stop the sobbing.
She looked up at him, her eyes swollen and her nose running. To anyone else she may have looked revolting. To Boone, she looked beautiful. He wiped her tears away with his thumb.
"Boone," Shannon had whispered, her warm breath hitting his neck, sending chills through his spine, "Am I really what they say I am?" "Of course not," Boone said, as he hugged her tighter to his chest, comforting her. "You are the sweetest, funniest, prettiest, most caring girl in the whole school. And anyone who doesn't see that is an idiot." "Do you really think that or are you just saying that to make me feel better?" "I really think it." "Even the part about me being the prettiest?" "Of course." "Prettier than Cindy Sheerer?" He took Shannon's face in his hands and looked her straight in the eyes. "You are ten times more beautiful than Cindy Sheerer ever could be. You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen." Shannon looked into his eyes, stunned, and before he knew it he was kissing her. Just soft kisses against her lips. They were slightly awkward, neither of them had kissed anyone before. But neither of them could shake the feeling of comfort it gave them. Boone looked at Shannon's face, he took in her tear stained cheeks and her red nose. "Definitely the most beautiful." And Shannon smiled, brighter than she ever had before.

Boone may have remembered the exact date and time of their first kiss, but he couldn't for the life of him remember when they had started to sleep together. The long, hot days of that summer seemed to melt together, and he couldn't pick a single day out of the whole mess. He assumed it was just after Shannon had started sleeping in his bed with him. That had also been the summer their father died, and they both needed a little more comfort than the kisses were providing.
Boone decided it had to have been sometime early in the summer, because he has so many memories from that summer. Pushing Shannon up against the bathroom door while their mother was on the phone, his hand finding its way up her blouse, or kissing her and whispering nonsense into her ear late at night in their bed, when each of her gasps and moans filled him with purpose. Boone was surprised that neither of them either felt any shame. Not even when their mother looked at them, eyes full of knowledge, silently begging them to stop. They needed each other. And that was worth more than all the shame in the world.
Shannon became stronger that summer. When they got back to school in the fall she ignored what the others said to her.
"It doesn't matter what they say about me," she used to say. "I've got you. You know who I am, and that's all that matters." And it really was. Nothing really mattered to Boone any more. He quit all his sports, dropped all his friends. The only thing that existed to him was Shannon.
The rumors started when Shannon was a junior. Of course they were true, they both knew it, but nobody else did for sure. "Who cares what they say, Boone? It's not like they really know anything." "It would be different if what they were saying wasn't true. But it is." "So what are you saying?" Shannon had asked. She was starting to panic.
"Look, Shan, I'm not saying anything. I'm just…." "Are you going to leave me?" She asked as she started to cry.
Boone couldn't bear to see Shannon cry. Crying Shannon was his biggest weakness. He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Shannon, I would never leave you. You know that. I would die without you." And he kissed her, and Shannon accepted his words.
But the damage had already been done. The rumors has planted a little seed of shame in Boone's mind, and it grew throughout the rest of the year. He imagined how bad it must have been for Shannon, how heavy her guilt was. He never realized that she didn't have any.
By the end of that year Boone had convinced himself that the best thing for Shannon would be to end it. It had taken all of his strength to make that decision, and it felt like a knife in his gut, but he truly believed it was the best thing for her. Boone couldn't say it to her face. He wouldn't be able to stand it. He had no idea how to break it to her, so he didn't. He just found a date for Friday night.
"Don't you look sharp," Shannon said when she got home from the library the Friday. "What's going on?" She was smiling at him, and he was terrified of telling her. He couldn't stand to see that smile fade away. But he knew he couldn't not tell her. He looked down. "I have a date tonight." Shannon was silent for a moment. Boone wasn't sure she was still there, so he looked up, straight into her eyes. "What?" She asked. When she spoke, her voice broke.
"I have a date." Shannon struggled to fight back the tears. "With who?" "Cindy Sheerer," Boone said, walking away from her.
"Boone, what the fuck? Since when are we making dates with other people?" "Shannon, you know this has been coming for a long time." "No, I don't know. Is this about those stupid rumors? You said they didn't matter." "Yeah, well they do." He wanted to hurt he. He needed to hurt her. Somehow he thought hurting her would make it easier, for the both of them. "I gotta go. I'll see you later." And he walked out the door. He could hear her shouting after him, sobbing. But he kept walking. When he got home, he found her sleeping in her own bed for the first time in years.
-
After that they fought more than Boone ever thought two people could. Shouting matches over stupid things like the remote control and who had claim to the last Pop Tart. Their mother hated the fighting, but it was better than the silence. She knew what happened in the silence, and shouting was better than that.
Boone became exceedingly popular throughout the town. The fact that he was dating Cindy Sheerer alone made his stock rise, but without Shannon he was getting back into sports. He had even decided to become a lifeguard. Things got worse for Shannon. She alienated herself from her peers more than she ever had, skipping school for weeks at a time. After a while, she tried to start dating, but nobody would go with her. They had all heard the rumors, and no one wanted anything to do with her.
Shannon would look at Boone, begging him with her eyes to come back to her, to hold her close and tell her that everything was going to be okay. When he caught her looking at him like that he yelled at her. He had to yell. It took everything in him not to walk over to where she was and kiss her.
Somewhere along the line they had silently agreed that they needed to keep at least a foot of space between them at all times. It seemed strange to them, two people had been as intimate as two people could be, but it seemed completely normal to everyone else. They had forgotten that in the normal world brothers and sisters weren't often affectionate.
Shannon could take it when everyone called her a bitch. She couldn't take it when Boone did. He had joined in with his friends, mocking Shannon. Making fun of her for being stuck up, and materialistic. She really couldn't take it. She had tried to kill herself by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. Apparently, a whole bottle was too many. She threw the damn things up. She looked for anything to take her mind off Boone. She turned to other men, but none of them would have her. She found comfort in booze and pills. It was family tradition, after all.
-
Shannon's family knew she was an alcoholic. For a few years they had turned their heads, saying it was just a phase teenagers go through. But had taken up the habit of disappearing for days on end, coming back only when she needed cash or liquor. The family staged an intervention in their mother's apartment. Boone was nervous. He knew when Shannon got angry she'd shoot her mouth off about anything, just to get to people, and he was still convinced his family didn't know.
Shannon became defensive as soon as she saw Boone, their mother, and their aunt in a room together.
"What the hell is going on?" "Shannon, sweetheart, sit down," their mother said soothingly.
"No, not until you tell me what the fuck is going on!" No body spoke. Everyone looked at the ground. Boone figured if anyone had to do it, it might as well be him.
"We're worried about you Shannon. You drink to much." After he said that the rest of the night was mostly a blur. He remembered his aunt yelling, his mom crying, and Shannon screaming.
"Oh, I'm sick?! I'm the one with the sickness?! Why don't you talk to Boone, huh? Go on, Boone, tell them. Tell them what we did together when we were younger. Tell them how much you enjoyed it. How much we both loved it. Did you tell them all about that?" And she stormed out of the apartment, and Boone was the only one to chase after her. "Shannon, get the fuck back here!" He shouted at her.
"Fuck you, Boone!" He grabbed her arm and she turned around and slapped him hard. "Don't you ever touch me again, you fucking pervert!" she screamed as she walked out of the building. Boone followed her but didn't yell after her. He watched her walk away, stumbling slightly as the drink she'd had after dinner caught up with her. When she was almost to the corner she turned around, raised her middle finger to Boone and yelled, "You're a fucking asshole!" When she disappeared they assumed it would only be for few days, that she'd come back and beg for a drink, just one to get her through the night. But a week past and she didn't show. Then a month. Then two. And they had to admit that Shannon was gone. Boone liked it better that way. With her gone he didn't have to think about how much he wanted to kiss her, how much he wanted to be with her. With her gone, maybe they could both be normal. He didn't realize that their version of normal was different from everyone else's.
THE END