Title: He Waited

Author: Obi the Kid

Rating: PG-13

POV: Cal

Summary: Niko waits for Cal. (Takes place before the events of Roadkill)

Disclaimer: No profit, just fun. All hail Rob Thurman!

Wait: to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens.

Patient: bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like.

I know what the words mean; learned them way back in grade school. Though back then I was fooling myself to think I really knew what they meant. I didn't really know the true definition of those words until several months into my post-Tumulus recovery when I saw them in action every minute of every day of every month.

They came in the form of my big brother.

Niko has always waited for me. He's always been patient with me. But that post-Hell version of me brought out levels that no human should ever be required to maintain without going completely and permanently insane.

Every morning, he waited as I found myself for the day. To fumble my way to the bathroom; to get dressed; and to stare at the shoes that he said were mine, but I had no reason to wear. Every afternoon, he waited as I fought with my inner demons. To eat my lunch of waffles, pizza, or a peanut butter sandwich; to stare at my fingers covered in syrup, sauce or jelly, confused as to what to do with them; and to wait for my mind and body to decide if it wanted to puke up that same lunch. Every evening, he waited in his spot next to the bed. To make sure I found my spot under it; to make sure I had pillow, blanket and knife; and to make sure there was enough room for him to sleep next to me without touch, so that I didn't spend a single night alone. Every midnight, he waited under the bed, facing me. To talk to me until my nightmare had passed; to be there when my screaming stopped; and to stop me from hurting myself either consciously or not.

Each of those times, my brother displayed the patience that no eighteen year old kid should ever have to endure. No, that's not right…not a kid. Niko was never a kid. He was born mature beyond his years; beyond anyone's years. There hasn't been anyone like him before or since…there never will be.

He waits again today. Patient as I work my way out of the funk I'd fallen into courtesy of our most recent job; resulting in another death of another innocent child. A child who would never have that chance to grow up with her big brother or big sister or to find her future in the world. All hell broke loose again today, and I can't bring myself to deal with the aftermath of it. Not now. Not so soon after. The sad truth is that the world is shit these days. But every kid deserves a chance to grow up and old and to make something better of that world and themselves, no matter what the obstacles. Nik did it with me. I had that chance. This little girl…she's just another lost soul in path of supernatural evil.

My brother sat next to me on the dented hood of our oversized car. He didn't anything, just brushed my shoulder with his; waiting for me.

"Life sucks," I said. Probably not what he was waiting for me to say, but I'm sure he knew I'd say it anyway. "And then little girls get killed. Little girls with red ribbons in their hair and teddy bears in their arms." I held both tightly to me.

Several minutes of patient silence floated by before Niko responded; adding a little more lean from his shoulder to mine in the process. He took the bear from me and pressed the furry softness in his long, callused fingers.

"We saved the other two children, Cal. It's something."

"It's not enough, Nik. What's the point of your Ninja blood and my traveling if we can't save them all? Kids should be playing and laughing and getting into trouble. They shouldn't be dead. Not like this. God, I hate my life."

No severe lecture followed. No hard words of 'deal with it and move on'. That wasn't Nik. Oh, he'd lecture me all right, but after my brain was on the right path again and my emotions weren't stuck in my throat. Right at this moment though? Patience. Nothing but patience.

And he waited.

Thirty minutes went by. Nik's inner time keeper said so. But he didn't move to leave. He was only giving words to the extreme quiet we'd fallen into. He'd stay here with me as long as needed, until I'd come to accept, at least for the moment, all had happened tonight. A few ticks later, I pushed my shoulder back into his. I was ready to go home.

Niko walked to the passenger side of the car and opened my door, shutting it behind me after I had slid inside. Opening my door…It was the tiniest of things, but it meant the whole damn world to me right now. That dead little girl would never know that feeling; that simple feeling of a big brother looking out for her and protecting her, and waiting for her when the world turned to shit all around. I took the bear back from Nik and let it sit in securely in my lap. I should have left it there with her body – as I did with the red ribbon - for her parents to find, but I couldn't bring myself to let it go.

I did hate my life. Sometimes. Other times, I realized how lucky I was – how lucky I am – at least in one aspect. Family. I look at my brother and what he's given for me, what he's given up for me, and what he still gives every day – even when he's beating my ass in sparring or running me into the ground at 7AM. Family's a bitch, but when they wait for you time and time again, even when you're slow to catch up after jogging a marathon before breakfast; or when learning a new ninja move that comes complete with a name no human can possibly pronounce – except my brother; or when washing revenant slime out of your hair and using up all the hot water and shampoo in the apartment…or when they wait for you…just because. How the hell do you argue with that?

Buddha's got nothing on my brother.

Bloody and unnatural dreams visited that night. I woke up half way through it and dealt by retreating out to the couch and field stripping my guns over and over and over again.

In silence, Nik came from his bedroom to sit next to me. Noise or no, he always knew when I was awake and unsettled. Ever so gently, he took my newest weapon, a Berretta Storm Special, corrected my stripping method and then so damn patiently, walked me through each and every meticulous step. It was, of course, more than I never had the need to know, but I sat there watching his hands and the extreme care with which he moved, allowing me to see what he did and the reason for it. And he did it all without saying a single word and without a single reverberation of frustration towards me.

Only Niko.

He put the weapon back together and handed it to me. Even at 2AM, my mind was sharp. It always was when it came to my guns. But I still took a few wrong turns. Niko waited for me to find my error before directing me to the right path.

I did this until 8AM came and went. By then, my mind had finally found its peace with the little girl's death. I looked up after a while to see that my brother was gone. I knew where. I knew why.

My mind wasn't the only one that needed to be a peace with last night.

A few minutes later I was dressed and outside, lacing up my running shoes.

Niko was there…waiting.

The end.