-1Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters.

Summary: AU One-Shot Catherine watches as her 'Cockeyed Optimist' looses all hope and discovers that she never had any to begin with.

Setting: Flowers in the Attic: After Cory's death

Warning: Dark Themes, Character Death. Read at your own discretion!

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Chris was always a lot closer to Cory than I was. Perhaps he was just as close to him as Carrie was, maybe even more so. They shared a certain bond, one that only brothers could share with one another. Add to that several years of Chris taking care of Cory as a son and their already strong bond was only strengthened.

So when momma came into our small room carrying only that old green blanket, and telling us of Cory's death, I knew that Chris would be devastated. Not to say that I wasn't hurt, oh no. I felt my own fair share of pain. I am still feeling it actually. But that is the way I am, I hold on to things, make them bleed into my consciousness every day. I Rage.

But Chris…he always tried to understand things, make them his own and then resolve them. This method worked for him for many years. Made him strong, dependable, much better at rational thinking that I could ever have been.

It was only when something so monumental occurred, the death of his beloved brother, that his method encountered problems.

Oh at first he tried to follow his old path ways. "How had Cory died?" Chris had asked himself. Pouring over the question with a fervor that surprised even myself. Chris finally came to suspect our sugared doughnuts, covered with what he supposed was arsenic. Ever the scientist, Chris tested out his theory. Mickey, Cory's own mouse became his test subject. And so when Mickey ended up dead a day later, I was not surprised. I knew that we were not welcome in this house. Oh I may not have known the how's, the science of the poison. But I knew the why's, the motives. It was simple, even without knowing exactly how I had known, I almost felt the truth in my bones that momma didn't want us anymore, hadn't wanted us for a very long time.

But Chris…he couldn't understand. For all of his knowledge and cleverness, he could not understand. I remember him standing and staring at Mickey for many minutes. His brain trying to fathom the next step in this procedure. He had discovered how Cory had died, even understood the precise mechanisms that had led to the stilling of our brother's heart. However, beyond that, he didn't have a clue, couldn't accept it even if he did.

So I decided to enlighten him. I know I shouldn't have done so. I should have let him alone, to find his own answers. But I didn't. By that time I had already mourned. I wanted to assign blame. So I did.

"Momma did it," I whispered into Chris' ear as he stood staring down at Mickey. I felt a perverse pleasure at seeing the subtle shudder that wracked his frame.

"She would never, the Grandmother-"

"Is a zealot old fool, who for all of her cruelties would hardly ever deign to actively murder the devil's spawn," I finished bitterly. And when Chris only shook his head I continued on spitefully.

"Deliver the means of our destruction? Yes, I think our grandmother is capable of that. But to attempt to murder us, especially through such a cowardly way, preposterous!" I shouted, causing Carrie to flinch in her corner. "No, the only person I can imagine, can fathom, standing in that kitchen below and so delicately sprinkling arsenic all morning long is none other than our own mother, Chris," I answered with finality.

"You can not know that!" Chris shouted, turning around to face me head on. At that moment I hated him for still having faith in her.

"Can't I?" I countered. "What other choice is there?" I asked. For truly momma was our one and only suspect. She placed us in this situation, was the only one to benefit from our deaths, was the only one who even knew we existed enough to bother to kill us.

But Chris didn't answer, he only turned and walked away towards the bathroom. The door slammed loudly.

I sighed and bent down to pick up Carrie before placing her upon our bed. I climbed in to lay down beside her where I could easily arrange her limp body next to mine. I didn't bother to say anything to her, just drifted off to sleep, she wouldn't have responded anyway.

It was dark when Chris emerged from the bathroom. His hair was disheveled and he looked tired. But surprisingly he didn't walk to his own bed, instead he continued on towards the small passageway that led to the attic. For a moment I contemplated getting up after him but changed my mind. I didn't have the will or the ability to comfort him at that time, especially not when he could not even accept the truth of our situation. I let my head fall back into my pillow.

The next morning that grandmother came into our room bearing breakfast once more, complete with doughnuts. This time, Carrie and I didn't even bother to get out of bed. The grandmother didn't seem surprised. Nor did she seem surprised that Chris wasn't there, although I am not sure she looked.

A couple hours later and Chris had still not come down. Grabbing Carrie's hand I decided to go and find him for it wasn't like him to stay away for so long.

The bitter cold made me grip Carrie's hand even tighter as I pulled her along effortlessly. I wished for the days when Carrie would scream and fight to stay out of the attic. After searching for a few minutes I spotted him sitting in the school room. His limbs splayed out as he sat in one of the school desks, his head hanging awkwardly to the side. I wondered how he had managed to fall asleep in such an uncomfortable position. As I reached out to him I muttered, "Chris, wake up."

He didn't move.

"Come on, Chris you must be freezing," I admonished with a slight fake laugh at the end, trying to convince myself that Chris was only a little stiff because of the cold. His head rolled back again once more in a way that is decidedly unnatural. And then I saw a glittering on the floor. Metal from a mouse trap, there were several scattered about the floor. And with sudden clarity I realized what Chris had been doing all evening. He had been collecting the poison from the mouse traps scattered about our attic domain. He had taken the poison, to die like his brother had died. But Why? My outraged mind screamed at me, and told that something must be done. Could be done, to save him, my Chris. A brother that I had loved and hated with all my heart.

I stood and turned around to look, some instinctive need to find help emerging within me, when I saw it. Scrawled upon the old faded chalkboard were letters.

Chris' letters, although written with none of the calm care with which he normally wrote. These were large scraggly letters, letters written by someone too overcome for words.

"You were right, there is no other choice," Chris had written. I felt my stomach drop as I fell to my knees, bringing Carrie down with me as I only belatedly realized that I still clutched her arm.

Chris had finally believed me, I immediately thought, disgusted with myself for feeling happy all the same. He had finally believed me, but at what cost? His life? No surely not that. His life was surely worth much more that that. But even had Chris committed suicide to be with Corry in death, that I could have accepted. But he had committed suicide because I had destroyed his hope, his belief in the future. I had corroded his trust, not only with momma but with everything else that it was based upon.

I kept waiting to feel tears. To feel my anger and hatred multiply. For Chris was gone and I had a hand in his passing, no matter how indirect. But I felt nothing, only a dull throbbing in my heart. That rage that I depended upon to keep moving everyday was gone. As useless as Chris' rationality. And suddenly I understood why. There was no point in fighting it any longer. There was no other choice, after all.

Smiling, I looked down at Carrie still cradled limply in my arms.

"Carrie, sweetheart, would you like a doughnut?"

Carrie nodded.

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