A Regular Silsbee of Lexington
Notes: For Leslie, because I've known her for so long now.
Rab sat quietly in his seat while he and his aunt and uncle ate dinner, head bowed into his folded arms. Having already finished, Rab occupied himself by staring blankly out of the shop doors. Johnny had not come home and the storm outside made whenever he did come home a time riddled with sneezing and freezing cold Johnny. Rab's eyebrows furrowed in concern in confusion towards his younger companion. The boy had grown distant over the past week, occupying most of his time staring blankly ahead of him, just as Rab was doing at that very second. It had worried him how Johnny's usual cheerful mood had so quickly vanished.
Rab sighed softly and spared a quick glance at his aunt and uncle, Aunt Jenifer chatted excitedly with Uncle Lorne. Seconds later, Rab straightened up, feeling rude and embarrassed. Though he had little interest in their small talk, he would get no where from moping over his little worries. Despite how he had straightened, Aunt Jenifer cast him a brief, concerned look that he smiled right off of her face. Though he felt no better (and a little guilty still), soon he tuned out their chatter and stared from the corner of his eye to look for Johnny's familiar form in the pouring rain.
He saw nothing. Minutes passed, and soon after Rab noticed that the excited chatter had ebbed away into silence. He lifted his head, unsure of when he had laid it down in the first place, to look at his Aunt and Uncle. They were staring right back at him, and it unnerved him a bit. He opened his mouth to say something, but shut it again quickly when he noticed his Aunt and Uncle share a look of silent, yet mutual concern. He opened his mouth again to say something, but didn't know what he could say to break the uncomfortable silence.
"Rab," his Uncle started unsurely. "Is something bothering you?"
Rab looked down at that to stare disinterestedly at the table. He wasn't sure what to reply that with. He wasn't sure whether he wanted to tell his Uncle and Aunt about his worries, because he knew well that they already had their own. He was a regular Silsbee of Lexington, and he wanted to use that as his excuse as why he would not say anything. But he could not, for in that moment, Rab didn't feel very much like a Silsbee of Lexington, but moreso a confused and lost little boy caught between either admitting to his parents he did something or not. "Hm," was all he could come up with on the spot.
"Rab," his Aunt tried again, using that voice that she knew he couldn't ignore. At least, Rab thought that she knew what that voice did to him, but he couldn't be sure. It was the voice of a worried mother, it was the voice of his worried mother, the voice that said 'I'm not sure you'll like this dear, but you know we're only doing it to protect you because we love you.' Rab hated that voice not only because he couldn't deny it, but also because it made him think of his mother long passed. No matter how much Rab loved his mother, he couldn't bring himself to think or speak of her. "Rab, please, you've seemed upset for the past few days. Please. You know you can always tell us if something's wrong, right dear?"
"Hm." He couldn't manage more, and as he glanced up, he saw that his Aunt and Uncle knew it too. His Aunt and Uncle sighed softly, then went back to eating. Minutes passed in uncomfortable silence, until finally, Rab broke the silence with an admittance. "I'm concerned," he started quietly, barely bothering to take notice to his Aunt and Uncle's now extremely concerned faces. "About Johnny," he continued. Feeling a bit embarrassed, his settled his head in his hands to hide his slowly reddening ears. "He's been very... Distant lately, almost depressed I could say. And he's having nightmares, too."
"That's odd," Aunt Jenifer said to herself quietly. "He seems so... He seems normal, you know?" Rab nodded discontentedly, wanting to say everything but his pride not allowing him to say anything. He was supposed to live up to the facade of a regular Silsbee of Lexington. Though he had gotten the looks of a Silsbee, sometimes he felt that he had not entirely gotten the emotion part with it right. There were moments when Rab felt like an abused child, alone in the corner and whimpering and afraid. He didn't like that feeling, but he would settle all the qualms in his stomach and act natural.
"I sleep with him. In the middle of the night he'll begin mumbling like mad. Though I can't usually understand what he was saying. The closest I had ever gotten was something about muskets and eyes or something of that sort. I'd never really understood it. But those dreams are coming more and more frequently, whatever they are. And they seem to be getting worse as time goes on as well... And it's interesting." Rab knew that both his aunt and uncle knew that that was his way of saying 'I'm concerned.' He was a regular Silsbee of Lexington. He didn't share his worries, no matter how far and few in between. He wasn't Johnny.
That wasn't saying that there was anything wrong with the boy, because there just wasn't. Johnny was... Well, Johnny certainly wasn't perfect. Sometimes his patience could thin quickly, and sometimes he didn't think before he spoke, but he was getting better at both of those. Johnny was shaping up into a fine young man, one who would court many women (though Rab had the distinct feeling that he would only be courting Cilla when he came to terms with his feelings with her, if any). Rab had long since come to terms with Johnny's emotions, what he felt and who he would love. Rab, an intelligent young man already, could not understand why it was so difficult for him.
Uncle Lorne 'hmmm'ed as he always did when he was deep in thought. Rab stared at him thoughtfully, but at the same time he wasn't really staring at Uncle Lorne. They heard a clatter at the direct front of the shop and Aunt Jenifer's maternal instincts came to her as she ordered Johnny out of his sopping wet clothes. Johnny removed his wet jacket and shirt, but insisted taking care of the rest upstairs in the attic. Aunt Jenifer, noticing the dark blush that was quickly spreading over Johnny's features, agreed but told Rab to fetch Johnny a towel or two so he wouldn't freeze.
Rab agreed and quietly followed Johnny into the attic. As Johnny went to their room, Rab lingered to grab a few towels. Only a few seconds later did he join Johnny, throwing the towel at him (he noticed how Johnny did not say anything, despite the curiousity that was obviously hanging in the air) and watch as Johnny walked around the many chairs in the attic, drying his body and hair at the same time, and then still managing in a shiver or two every few seconds. As Johnny came to his breeches, Rab looked away.
That was the one thing that from day one, that they had instantly mentally agreed with. They would respect each other's privately as though it was their own. From the first day, Rab had known how it would make the boy blush crimson if he even looked in his general direction when he was doing something such as changing (this was one of the many qualities he saw in the boy that reminded him so much of a woman's tendencies). Johnny would always rush to change, then hide his face in his arms on the bed or just turn away as he was. Though Rab did not feel embarrassed by it, it seemed as if Johnny even felt embarrassed for him.
Rab did not let such trivial things as his nakedness bother him. Men looked like each and every other man and everyone woman looked like each and every other woman. The rest was just left to opinion. Johnny obviously did not share Rab's opinion that was of complete nonchalance. Johnny was just something that sometimes--- "Have you ever seen a musket's eyes?" ---caught him off guard. The question was said as casually as possible, despite how impossibly random it seemed and in actuality, was. Johnny stopped drying himself off (Rab also noticed he had dry breeches on now) to face Rab, waiting for his response.
Rab could not put the question off, nor did he feel as though he could lie even if he wanted to. "No, I haven't." A regular Silsbee of Lexington could always pull off a smooth lie. It seemed like Johnny could change Rab, make him less like himself and more like... Like... Rab couldn't think of the right words to explain what Johnny did to him. There was just no way to describe it. He just allowed him to see into both their feelings, both Johnny's and Rab's own. Johnny seemed tremendously saddened by Rab's response, and he remained quiet like he had been for the last week or so.
Rab sighed and went over to Johnny, who had settled himself onto the bed. Bending down to him, Rab asked quietly, "What about them?" Rab made sure to keep his voice steady just as a regular Silsbee of Lexington would, but his curiousity mixed with his concerned caused his voice to switch octaves once or twice in the short sentence. Johnny looked away from him and shook his head 'no' quietly at Rab. Rab, in most normal cases, would just let the subject slide, but this was Johnny and he was concerned. His friend was in an unhappy emotional state and he was going to do something about it.
"Never look at a musket in the eyes, okay Rab? We can't--- I can't---- they're cruel eyes Rab. Never meet them." The sentence came out in an uneven stutter, but somehow, Rab understood everything from that nervous statement. Johnny's fears came to light and he understood. The look on his face was passive, but inside his emotions were swirling and catching in his stomach, his heart was in his throat. He sat down next to Johnny, and simply put his every emotion into the fewest words he could. They weren't the words he'd like to say (some odd part of him wanted to say 'don't worry', but he resisted).
"I'll watch out for them."
He knew that for Johnny, he never quite had to be a regular Silsbee from Lexington. For Johnny, he could always just be Rab.