AN: I won't lie to you, angst is definitely not my strong point. But after I read amtrak12's amazing fic Circling in These Patterns, I just had to try something like it. (Seriously, even if you're not a Big Bang fan, read it, you won't regret it.) So as well as being dedicated to her, it's also dedicated to the wonderful KHwhitelion, who converted me to angst in the first place XD

Now, I know I haven't updated Baby Number Six in far too long. But it's coming. Hopefully writing this will get be back into a MitM mood...

And one more thing: this is a genre I'm trying to get better at, so if you have any pointers, please tell me in a review! :)

* * *

The morning dawned bright and sunny, and Malcolm laughed bitterly at the irony they called his life. Rolled out of a bed which seemed much larger than it should be, saw his brother lying on the opposite one, eyes wide open.

''Did you sleep?'' he asked.

Reese's eyes told him no.

Malcolm nodded. After five days there didn't seem much point in telling his brother how important the right amount of REM sleep was. He was lucky to have caught an hour himself. Thinking kept him awake, and the easy option would be stop thinking, but he couldn't seem to do that.

There was a knock on the door, and the woman who'd once been Lois Wilkerson called, ''Boys. Are you awake?''

As the door opened, Malcolm noticed the lines which had appeared on his mother's face, making her seem far older than she was. Her voice was duller too, her eyes tired. Just the shell of the woman they'd always known.

She was sitting on the end of Malcolm's bed now. Distanced from her son, but close enough she could have touched him if she'd wanted.

''This isn't going to be easy,'' she said quietly, but not weakly - still in that hard tone she used when she didn't want to break down. ''For any of us. But...we're not facing this alone. We've got each other. We'll get through it.''

The words were so cliched, used so many times in books and movies they didn't seem to contain any real meaning any more. Vaguely Malcolm was aware of her arms encircling him, her lips kissing his cheek. A wooden gesture, but he tried to appreciate the sentiment. She cares.

Standing up after bending to kiss his brother on the forehead, she gave them one last, long look, before leaving the room.

* * *

The last time they'd worn suits had been for Aunt Helen. Wearing them again now seemed wrong, felt wrong. But this time there as no quibbling about jello in pockets or the sizes of the garments. They dressed quickly, joined their parents in the lounge.

Their mother, in a long black dress which hid her figure, holding Jamie in her arms, their father, sitting on the couch, head in hands. He was the biggest wreck of all of them.

Their mother looked them over, and Malcolm half expected her to yell at them for not dressing right, but instead she just shook her head and said, ''It's all wrong. He wouldn't have wanted you to...he'd have wanted you to be comfortable. Go and change.''

But neither of them moved. Willing himself not to break he managed to say, ''He wouldn't have wanted us to go to his funeral, either. He wouldn't have wanted to die.''

The words seemed to hang in the air for a while. Malcolm swallowed, his own voice still ringing in his ears. Hated himself for having said it.

Lois gave a small nod. ''No. No, you're right. He wouldn't.''

And they followed her out to the car, wordlessly.

* * *

It was in the car that Lois finally broke. For the first time since the phone call she cried properly, giving way to the hollow sobs of real loss.

Malcolm stared out of the window, wishing he couldn't hear her. It made it all true, somehow, the fact she'd accepted it. He'd lived his life under her iron fist and now she was breaking, it was as if the whole world was falling apart.

Trees and houses rushed past him and he let his eyes stop focusing, let them fly with the blur of colours. Wondered briefly if he could paint it, the rush and whirl of what he was seeing, and what he was feeling inside, too. Wondered if there was any way he'd ever be able to express it all.

His brother would have composed a symphony, a masterpiece, sounds and tones strung together in ways that could describe exactly how he felt. He'd been so jealous of that, an age ago, five days ago. But now there was just emptiness, numbness, a gaping hole that threatened to swallow him up.

He closes his eyes for an instant, refocuses, returns to this 'real world' that is so, so wrong. His mother is still crying, but her sobs are quieter now, more subdued, helpless, hopeless. His father, staring ahead at the road, seems not to hear her. As if they've changed places, and suddenly Hal is the hard one, the strong one.

Reese, sitting beside him, is staring at something in his hands. A battered piece of paper. Malcolm leans over to see it. It's a child's drawing, done in pencil, six figures drawn in enough detail for him to be able to identify himself, his parents, Reese, Francis and Jamie. The name he knows he will see is scrawled in the corner, he lets his eyes skip away from it, not wanting to hear the two syllables in his head.

Reese sees him looking, looks almost embarrassed. ''Found it under your bed. It...I dunno, reminds know, of him.''

''He left himself out.'' Malcolm said, quietly. ''He's not in the picture. Why would he do that?''

Reese turns the paper over, wordlessly. On the other side there is just one figure, small and lonely in the expanse of crumpled white, and the figure is crying.

* * *

AN: I wasn't really sure how to end it, and I'm still not sure whether this is any good. Not sure if I'm going to be continuing or not. Tell me what you think, anyway.