Title: Sound of Silence
Author: Obi the Kid
Summary: Cal struggles with his Auphe side. Takes place after the events of Roadkill.
Note: Yeah, so I got this story idea skimming through radio stations and the Simon and Garfunkel song of the same title came on. For some reason, it spawned a story idea.
Cal is never quiet. Never. During his waking hours, there is always some foul word, snarky comment or annoying sound coming out of his loquacious mouth. On the rare occasion that he becomes the inverse of what he usually is, it's a sign.
In other words, a quiet Cal is…disquieting.
So, needless to say, when I got home from my classes and found my brother curled up – rather than sprawled out – on the couch and not uttering a sound – about anything – for an extended period of time, I was at once alarmed and concerned.
My patience allowed it of course. For a time. Time ended though about thirty minutes in and I stood behind him, placing my hands on his shoulders and squeezing lightly.
"What's up, little brother?"
No response. Nothing but continued stone cold silence. Yes, something was seriously off kilter.
"Cal, what's going on?"
Complete quiet. Worrisome quiet.
The next step beckoned and I came around to sit on the couch next to him, brushing his shoulder purposely in the process.
"We've got a new job tomorrow. Think you'll be talking by then?"
Still nothing. Now I was just talking to myself.
His cell phone buzzed on the table. When he made no attempt to retrieve it, I did. I saw the familiar number on the small screen.
Goodfellow seemed a touch confused to hear my voice on Cal's phone, though not completely surprised. "Niko. How is Caliban?"
"I figured as much. I can assume you know what's happened then?"
I lifted an eyebrow, stood, and walked from the couch towards my bedroom, phone to my ear. "Not a word since I got home. What exactly did happen, Robin?"
"No huh? Damn that kid. Maybe you should wait until he's talking again."
"Maybe I shouldn't. You know what's wrong with him and you will tell me. He was meeting you to talk to a potential client a few hours back. Now I come home and he's lost in his own little introverted world. This is not my brother. He is by definition not quiet, nor introverted. What the hell happened today?"
I was alert to the drawn out deep breath on the other end and the exasperated sigh that followed. Reluctant. Robin of all people, reluctant to hear himself talk. The irony.
I was about to toss a few threats his way, but he decided to cooperate before I managed them. When he did speak, his voice was grave. Robin – grave? Seems that no one was their normal self today.
"He went…he went Auphe today, Niko. I don't know what triggered it, but he sort of got lost in thought for a few minutes while we were talking to the perspective client – his eyes glassed over and his mind went who knows where….and then he went nuts. I mean bloodthirsty nuts. Even tried to hurt the little girl."
The little…what? "What the hell was a little girl doing at a client meeting?" I raised my voice. I hardly ever raise my voice, but it got Robin's attention and he quickly shoveled out the rest of the story.
"Don't ask me. I can't figure some of these supernatural freaks and their families. It's like a damn field trip for them sometimes. All I know is that she was there, standing quietly next to her father and then Caliban lunged after her. Only a couple scratches, she's fine, but well…you lost the job. Too bad too. Big money in that one. They were gone and I was left with Auphe-boy. I had to use my new toy. I tasered the kid before he either took off or decided to turn his attention to me. Took about forty seconds of the juice to bring him down too. I swear I don't know what pushed him to it. He didn't gate, so that wasn't the catalyst, he just snapped. I'm sorry, Niko. I am. I didn't know how else to knock him out. He was vertical when I dropped him off though. This all happened about four hours ago."
Nodding to the phone, I said solemnly, "Okay. I will figure this out. Thanks for doing what you had to…to help him." I hung up and returned to the living room to resume my place on the couch.
I nudged my brother.
"Robin said the little girl is fine, just a few scratches. He's sorry for the taser too."
Silence still reigned, but at least I got a shoulder shrug this time.
"Have you been double-gating recently? Pushing the limits that Rafferty placed on you and that I've asked you not to push? You keep doing it and it'll kill you, you know that."
This time Cal cleared his throat, but shook his head 'no' rather than verbalizing the word.
"Something had to trigger it, Cal. Dreams, maybe. Worse than normal?"
Finally. A word. "No."
The one syllable response wasn't enough for me and I pressed a bit harder. "It didn't just happen. It never just happens."
More words. "Well, it did…just happen, Nik. And I don't want to talk about this – or anything – right now. Just…I just…I just need quiet, okay?"
The pain etched in his voice was difficult to accept. And abiding by his wishes for quiet was even more so. I was so unlike my brother and I needed to know how to help him and I couldn't do that without the more intricate details of what he saw and how he felt. But…I shut up. Cal was in a state that I'd never seen before. Not so much anger at what he did, but confusion and fear about what this all meant. Was this that moment of our lives where he started down the path – that path that neither of us could allow him to travel - that path that would ultimately end in his death?
No. No. Cal was still young. So young. Barely into his twenties. This wasn't happening. Not yet.
Cal closed his eyes. I did the same. We sat there with nothing but the sound of silence surrounding us. It was hours, rather than minutes. At some point, I put my arm around his shoulders and briefly sabotaged a few morsels of that quiet. If reassurance was all I could offer at this moment, then so be it.
"You're still my brother, Cal. No matter what happens. Count on that."
There was no verbal response, but my brother bowed toward me and, like he did so often as a child when he was emotionally obscured in similar unhealthy states of confusion and fear – he leaned his back against the couch and then onto my shoulder, hoping that I could just make it all disappear.
I couldn't. No matter how much I wanted to. No matter how much I tried. But I could be his big brother. The silence could go on forever, and that one fact - that we were family - would never change. Monster or no monster. There was too much good in my brother for this. Too much decency in those parts of him that few others ever saw. And…I wasn't ready to let him go. Not to where his genes would attempt to take him.
Deep into his self-induced calm, and head leaned to me, Cal whispered, "Not giving up on me yet, right, Nik?"
"Not a chance in hell, little brother."
"Thanks," he replied with a long pregnant pause, and then, "I need that. I'll always need that."
Silence descended again as I pulled him closer and until I felt his shoulders relax and his breathing become less strained. He slept then. Soundly. Just like he did when he was a child. He slept for a long time. There would be no visitation by nightmares on this night, I was certain. I knew my brother. I knew he felt secure with me next to him and as a result, his mind wouldn't have the chance to latch onto opportunity and take that suicidal walk on the evil side.
We'd talk tomorrow. There was no avoiding it. And he knew that. He'd be cranky as hell, but a good night's sleep under his belt would make that discussion – and the options that went with it - a bit easier to digest.
For now, quiet still surrounded him.
And the un-Cal-like silence still found no sound.