Chapter One

October, 2005.

You see two young boys — brothers. The older one, you estimate, looks to be about twelve years old, while the younger one looks to be about seven. And you realize how much they remind you of you and your own little brother when you were their age, how the younger boy has long, floppy, blond hair that reaches a few inches from his shoulders, and the older one has short, dark brown hair.

You watch quietly from where you are standing just a few feet away from the swing set as the older one — who was holding a football with a hole releasing air and rapidly deflating, becoming soft and pressable — yells at his brother in anger while the younger one listens wordlessly with his head ducked down, not saying a single word, tears flowing freely down his soft cheeks in silence, mumbling hesitantly every once in a while. You may be standing far away from them, and the voices sound muffled, but you can still mildly make out the words the older one was screaming.

"Look what you did! You broke my ball!"

"I — I didn't mean to. I'm sorry."

"Sorry doesn't cut it you idiot! I told you to stay away from my stuff!"

The park was small and vacant, the only people around are you, the two brothers and three other kids who are playing by the slides, pushing each other and laughing brightly under the golden sunlight.

You watch as the younger brother releases a tiny whimper and finally breaks down completely, running away.

The older one rolls his eyes, a sneer twisting his features. You watch as he starts walking towards the park bench situated on the side, facing the sandbox, and he sits down and slumps his shoulders as he stares quietly at his ball, and a flash of anger passes through his face again at the sight of it.

You furrow your eyebrows and start walking towards the bench too. It seems that the boy felt your presence because he looks up at you just when you reach the bench and settle beside him.

"So, he broke your ball?" you ask conversationally and look at him.

"Why do you care?" he snaps discourteously at you, and you raise your hands up in a surrendering manner.

"Just trying to be friendly here, dude," you answer, leaning back on the bench easily.

"Well I don't need any of your friendliness, or your pity if that's what it probably is," he sneers.

"Nah, pity? Over a ball? That's not really worth something to be pitied over," you say casually as you lean back on the bench, shrugging when he glares at you angrily.

"That was my favorite ball!" he bellows furiously. "And that stupid brat broke it!"

"Look, I know you're probably mad at your brother but — "

"And he's not my brother!" he yells again, and then his voice lowers down into an angry mutter, directed mostly to himself. "Don't even know why my parents adopted him."

And that's when you know the problem, all the while trying your best to ignore the former outburst (because it reminds you too much of your own mistakes).

"So that's the problem..." you think aloud, and he looks at you with a furrowed brow, so you continue. "This isn't really about the ball, is it? This isn't really just some ordinary sibling fight over a stupid toy — it's because he's adopted."

"Yeah, so?" he asks carelessly.

"So? He doesn't deserve that treatment from you just because he's adopted," you reason. "He's still your brother, no matter what you think. Your Mom didn't give him birth, sure, but he's still family."

"And who are you to tell me that?" the boy questions curtly.

"Didn't your parents ever teach you manners?" you say, just as snidely as him, as your patience starts to wear thin.

The boy just turns his head away and rolls his eyes.

You lean in close, trying to catch the boy's eyes. "He may not be your real brother, kid, but you have no idea, absolutely no idea, how lucky you are to have one," you whisper softly, just letting the shards of your shattered heart glint on your face for a moment; and the pain of the wound inside your chest seeps into your voice, so apparent and obvious, that anyone can tell.

And maybe it's that same emotion that haltingly brings the boy to look at you. He stares at you quietly, intensely, and you stare back at him in matching silence.

Then you make the first movement, pulling back from him and sighing, reaching your hand into your jeans' pocket. The boy watches wordlessly, an expression of curiosity on his face. You take out your wallet, and you slowly open it.

Revealing the picture of a young man with dark, chestnut-brown hair, the bangs on his forehead swept on both sides, and with big, doe hazel eyes and a small smile that looks forced but still shows the inch-deep dimples on his tan cheeks.

"This..." you trail off as your voice gets caught, but then you swallow down the emotion squeezing your throat, tears pricking and blurring at the corners of your eyes. You clear your throat roughly and try again. "This is my little brother," you tell the boy softly, a fond smile gracing your lips, your eyes and your voice filled with absolute love and adoration for that innocent, puppy-eyed kid in the picture, along with anguish, grief and regret on the edges of your tone.

"Where — where is he?" the boy asks hesitantly.

"He, uh — " you pause for a split second, biting your lower lip and closing your eyes against the oncoming tears burning underneath your eyelids. You duck your head down and inhale a deep breath, and exhale, and you try again. "He died. Five months ago," you answer silently, sniffing inaudibly at the sudden clogging inside your nose, trying not to let those words of painful loss overcome you. The boy takes the wallet from you and gazes at the man in the picture. You turn your head towards the front and lean forward, resting your elbows on your lap, staring ahead at the empty space on the grass.

You swallow against the lump that's getting bigger and bigger inside of your throat, trying to ignore the large hew of loneliness and the darkness growing inside your chest, reopening a deep gouge there, twisting your heart painfully. You sigh deeply, your gaze fixated on a particular spot of forage. "See, my brother — he — he did something. I'm not gonna tell you what he did, but I will tell you that — I held that grudge against him — for ten years," you tell him, trying to hold back the sorrow, the remorse and the anguish that's struggling to burst out of your eyes and into your voice. "I held that grudge against him for ten years," you repeat softly, as if confessing a huge crime guiltily (which is probably what it is), your voice is nothing above a soft, pained whisper, because you know if you say it out loud, your voice will break.

"I hated him — what he did, I hated him so much — Or maybe I just tried to," you laugh mirthlessly, filled with nothing but unadulterated sadness, tears on the edges of your eyes, but you know the kid can't see them, your head is ducked down. You swallow again and continue. "Turns out I couldn't. No matter how hard I tried to, I couldn't." You smile softly, talking as if nobody's really hearing you. "He — he was my brother, my baby brother. And I realized that after I lost him."

Silence fills between you and him, the only sounds are of children laughing happily in the background, but then it's broken by the person sitting beside you.

"What happened to him?" the boy asks curiously.

You don't want to share the rest, you really don't want to tell him anything more than you already did.

But then you lift your head up and you see the younger brother sitting alone on the bench, and it may be on the other side of the park and his head is ducked down, but you can still see the shaking of his small, thin shoulders, little drops of salty tears falling down from his eyes and soaking on his jeans.

It's almost the same position you had once found your brother in one night.

You decide right then and there, that you're going to fix the relationship between these two brothers.

Because you never did the same with your own brother.

Author's Note: I intend for this to be a very depressing story, but with a happy ending though! It's not a deathfic, so don't worry. Thanks to AlElizabeth for checking over this chapter. :)

Reviews are courage. :)

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I don't own these characters, neither do I own this show.