Thank you to everyone for the response on the first chapter. By the way, in this story Daniel was ten in the first movie and Max was five. It wasn't really clarified how old they all were except for Daniel, so…
Bold = Signing and speaking
Disclaimer: I do not own the movie Orphan
"Come on, Max. The sooner we get home, the sooner we can decorate the tree." Leslie said, signing all of the words that she knew in the sentence. She was still learning how to sign, but Max helped by reading her lips whenever she could. Leslie squeezed the child's mitten in her own, and they shared a smile. School had just ended for winter break, and the Coleman-Anderson children were walking home so that they could decorate the Christmas tree. "Daniel?" Leslie noticed that her step-brother wasn't walking with them. She turned and saw Daniel staring into space wearing a horrified expression. "Danny?" Leslie whispered, walking closer to him, Max following closely behind.
Leslie shook his arm gently, and flinched when he grabbed her wrist. Leslie turned to Max as the boy started to hyperventilate. "Is he okay?" She asked, trying to break free of his grip. Max was used to Daniel's panic attacks, but they had been coming less frequently as he became older. "Danny?" Max signed as she spoke. Daniel turned to look at her and she patted her older brother's arm and he started to calm down. Leslie, who, on the other hand, had never seen Daniel have a panic attack, gawked at the siblings. Daniel still hadn't let go of her wrist.
Daniel noticed that he was still holding Leslie's wrist, and released it. "Sorry," He mumbled. Leslie stared at him for a moment. "A man's errors are his portals of discovery." She ended up saying, shrugging. All she received were blank stares from both of her siblings. "Are you okay?" She asked him, worried. He nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. That happens sometimes; I'm fine." He shrugged. Leslie shrugged it off, but Max knew better. Her brother hadn't had a panic attack like that in two years. Something had happened, and she was determined to find out.
Daniel's head snapped up when he heard the door to his room open and close. There stood his younger sister, who was staring at him with her hands on her hips. "What is it, Max?" Daniel asked, staring down at his hands as he signed, avoiding his sister's glare.
"I know that something happened when we were walking home and I want to know what it was." Max exaggerated her signs, her curly blonde hair shaking as she did. She knew that something was wrong and she wanted to know what it was now. She needed Daniel to know that.
Daniel shook his head and laughed unconvincingly. Max cocked her head slightly to the side as he did this, because as she had been reading his lips before, the laugh looked odd on her brother's lips. She shook this thought away as Daniel stood up off of his bed. "Come on. Leslie said she would teach us how to make cookies like her Grandma does down in Australia." He started walking for the door, but Max shook her head and stepped in front of it.
"What happened, Danny? Did it have something to do with...Esther?" Max signed hesitantly. Daniel looked away, and Max knew that was the problem. "Danny….she's gone. She's not coming back." Max said in a hoarse voice. Daniel looked up at her, his eyes red rimmed. "No, Max. She's back." He was shaking his head frantically now, his hands shaking. Max instantly regretted bringing it up. If she had never asked him what was wrong, she would have never known that Esther was back. Back? How could she be back? Hadn't Kate killed her?
Daniel's head was in his hands, so Max couldn't sign to him anymore; he wouldn't see. "She's…back? But how?" She asked in the same hoarse voice she had before. Daniel looked up at her and pulled her small body closer to his larger one, holding her close. "I saw her earlier, when we were walking home. She waved at me, as if it were normal that she was walking around our neighborhood." He started sniffling, obviously trying not to cry again. Max was quiet for a moment. "Danny, we have to tell someone." She spoke and signed, making him look at her. He shook his head.
"Mom would freak out!" He exclaimed. Max's head whipped towards the door. "Fine, but you'll have to be quieter if you don't want her to hear us." Max reminded him. Daniel nodded, his eyes now glued to the door as well. Max was thinking hard about something. "Danny, what if we told Mark? He's big and strong and I think he could help…" She stopped signing when she saw Daniel's face twisting into anger. "No way, Max. We aren't going to him about this." He declared. Max shrugged. She knew that her brother wasn't exactly close to their step-father, but if he would help the situation…
Daniel's eyes bored into Max. "You aren't going to go to him behind my back, are you?" He asked, almost reading her mind. Max shook her head. "I would be too afraid to tell someone about her alone, Danny. Mark doesn't even know sign language, so he might not understand me." I pointed out. Danny nodded. They sat together in silence, the snow falling silently outside. "Danny, I don't really remember what happened, but sometimes I do, like flashbacks. Do you remember clearly, or just get flashbacks?" Max asked curiously.
Daniel was a bit taken back by this question. "Uh…Max, I remember it like it was yesterday." He told her truthfully. Max smiled up at him and leaned closer to him. "Hey, guys! My dad is home…" Leslie barged into Daniel's room and saw the moment that the siblings were having. "Oh…sorry. Did I interrupt something?" She asked, looking between the both of them. Daniel shook his head. "No, just talking about…old times." He wasn't lying completely. Leslie stared at him. She knew that he was hiding something, especially by the way the Max looked, as if this were the last time that she was going to be with her brother. But she just shrugged. "Let them think that I'm simple minded." She told herself. It wasn't exactly her own idea; it had been something that she had read in a book, but that seemed like the thing to do at this moment.
"My dad is home…" Leslie pointed down the hallway. "We were going to start trimming the tree…" She shrugged. Max nodded enthusiastically, having read Leslie's lips. Daniel smiled. "We'll be there in a sec." Leslie nodded and left the room. As soon as she was gone, Max turned to Daniel. He already knew what she was going to say. "We can't tell anyone, Max. Not even Leslie." He reminded her. Max gave him an incredulous look. "Why? She's been your best friend ever since Mom and Mark started dating! She was so nice to the both of us! Why can't we tell her?" Max asked, her hands flying to her hips as soon as she finished signing. Daniel sighed. Was this what Mom had been saying about Max going into her 'teenage – against everything in the world-'stage?'
"What if we tell her and she gets freaked out, or she thinks that we're crazy? Lots of other people thought that we were when we told our story about Esther. And I know that she has been nice to the both of us, so we are going to repay her by telling her about someone who is trying to kill us?" Daniel asked. "Think about this, Max." He added. Max huffed and sat back down on Daniel's bed. "But not everyone thought that we were crazy, Daniel," Max reminded him. "And Leslie's open minded. Her mom died in a gun shooting, Danny. She's a tough person." Max signed.
Daniel sighed. "Fine. We'll tell her, but I doubt that she can do anything." He grumbled as he got up off of his bed. "Come on. I doubt that they'll wait for us."
"Well, wasn't that fun? We should spend family time like that more often, like eating meals together and things like that. Don't you think, Katie Bear?" Mark turned to Kate. The family was sitting on the couches in the living room, eating Christmas cookies. Daniel and Leslie groaned at the pet name, but Mark ignored them. He had dark blonde hair and a young face, even though he was only a year younger than Kate. He had taken off his business suit before the group had started to decorate the tree.
Max hadn't understood a word that Mark had just said. Normally she would just read his lips, but he had been speaking so fast before. She just smiled and nodded at him, not having any idea what was going on. Mark could always trust Max to agree with all of his ideas. He had been the kinder one to him ever since he and Kate had started dating. Daniel, on the other hand, hadn't been so… welcoming.
Daniel took a knife and dug it into the can of chocolate frosting in front of him, lathering it on his cookie before he ate it, staring at Mark bitterly as he chewed. He and Max took turns with the chocolate icing, while Leslie had a can of vanilla icing instead. She didn't like chocolate.
Leslie shrugged. "I guess we can do it more since we're on break." She offered. Her father smiled at her, a crocked smile. Kate nodded in agreement. "It would be nice to have some family time." Daniel huffed. This was going to be a long two weeks.
"What's up?" Leslie asked, looking between the two siblings. She had been pulled into Daniel's room after "family time" was over. Max had told her that they both had something to tell her, and Leslie was a little worried. Max looked over at Daniel, and Daniel motioned for Max to go first. "But you understand more sign language than she does! You tell her!" Max argued.
Daniel groaned. "Um, guys?" Leslie interrupted. Both heads turned towards her. "Really, what's wrong? You know that you can tell me what is going on, right?" She asked, looking between the both of them. Daniel took a deep breath. "Esther is back." He said simply. He looked up at Leslie with expecting eyes.
Max and Daniel both looked worried until Leslie spoke. "Esther? You mean…that woman that tried to kill you guys?" She asked slowly, putting everything together. Daniel and Max nodded. Leslie took a deep breath. "I thought your mother killed her." She stated. Max shook her head. "I – I saw her when we were walking home." Daniel admitted.
Leslie nodded, sitting down next to them on the bed. "And you are telling me this because…."
Daniel thought that she was extremely calm for what they were telling her, if she understood what was going on. "We don't want to tell our Mom; we think that she might freak out. She…she's been pretty happy ever since she married your Dad…" Daniel's voice trailed off.
Leslie nodded. "I think that we need to tell someone. Chances are that if she survived and didn't do anything after all of those years, she has been watching." Leslie said slowly, so that Max could read her lips. Daniel shook his head. "Who are we supposed to tell?"
Leslie shrugged. "I don't know. Cops? The military? Was she really that bad?" Leslie asked, looking up at the both of them. Daniel was shaking again. Not as bad as he had been earlier, but he was still shaking.
Max nodded. "Very bad," she signed and spoke. "She tried to kill Daniel – and she almost did." Max explained. Leslie's eyes widened as she looked back over to Daniel. "Okay…I won't tell anyone. Yet, I mean. But I'm here for you guys, even if I still think that this is a stupid move -" Leslie was cut off by Daniel throwing his arms around her. She could feel that his hands were shaking now, and tears rolling down his cheeks. Leslie tentatively wrapped her arms around her step brother. Max stared at the two of them, and Leslie couldn't tell what she was thinking, so she held her arms out for Max as well.
Max smiled and moved hugged Leslie. Max giggled as they squished Daniel in the middle of the two of them. She still had to wonder if Leslie fully understood how much the family had gone through when Esther had been around.
"Aw, a family bonding moment; so cute. They never acted like this before I was around. I guess so things change people.
"Don't worry, Max. After five years of waiting, soon we will be together, like we were meant to be."
The next chapter. Review, please? Thank you to JMD Nelson, F.A. D'Laurentis, and kaybuggz for reviewing the first chapter.