A/N: So I was going to post this Monday, but a few people have already beaten me to the punch with the same idea, so I wanted to get this out there before it gets too crazy. From here on out, though, I will be updating every Monday, as if it were the show. This story is as much as it is for me as it is for you guys, so drop in a review or PM me if you have any ideas or anything you'd like to see in this fic! While I do have a general plot already down, I can squeeze some stuff in here and there. Also, I know this show is supposed to take place in San Diego, but for the purpose of this story, they're living in a state very close to Indiana. Happy reading & writing all!
"I wouldn't have known anything was up if I hadn't seen the closet. All her stuff is gone."
Brandon lands at the bottom of the staircase, his ears perking subconsciously, operating on auto-pilot, even in such wee hours of the morning. And then he thinks about how early it really is, and how Mariana's voice is echoing in the kitchen, falling on listening ears and silent mouths that aren't usually present at such a time. Just like that, he's freaking out.
He's in the doorway in the next instant, making his presence known accidentally, his feet heavy and loud on the hard floor. His eyes are scanning the group seated around the island, piecing together the information in his brain, despite the fact that he doesn't really want to. He's smart. He gets it. There's really only one person that fits this scenario, and of course, it's the one person he really wishes didn't.
The twins know what he's going to say before he even has to open his mouth, they know he's always had a sweet spot for the girl. His mom's don't suspect much, but they can see it in his eyes that he's torn already, being the sweet, young man that he is. He's always cared a lot about everyone, so this shouldn't be different.
Except it is, and they're right that he cares, except they don't know to what extent. But Jude does, and he's staring at him with glassy eyes, tears yet to spill. What is that in his eyes? He can't decide now, he knows he should probably make it a priority to talk to Jude, but he just can't.
Stef sees him lock eyes with the young boy, and she mistakes it for sympathy, so she says, "Yes, Callie left, but she couldn't have gone far. We'll find her, B. I promise all of you, we'll find her."
His head twitches slightly towards the living room, and though nobody else picks up on it, she has a keen eye for this, and a certain expertise when it comes to her son and his quirks. She rises from her stool, squeezes Jude on the shoulder, and follows him into the living room. "Do you know where Callie is, Brandon?"
He's trying to play it somewhat cool, but inside, something is shriveling up and dying. The brief palpitations that sudden, intense fear brings have subsided, but they are replaced by equally frightening side effects, and he swears his feet are falling asleep, even as he stands on them. "When did she leave, mom?"
Stef glances over her shoulder quickly, zeroing in on the corner of Lena's eyes, where temporary wrinkles will soon become permanent. She offers up waffles to the three distressed children, who, despite their lack of hunger, nod in agreement, appearing zombie-like. Nonetheless, they seem oblivious to the conversation happening in the living room, so she continues on, her voice low and grainy. "Her bedside clock stopped sometime around 2 in the morning. She must've tripped on the cord and unplugged it while trying to get all her stuff together. Mariana and Jesus know this, but I can't tell Jude. I have to make him believe we have a better chance at finding her than we actually do."
He's just standing in the middle of the room, both of his arms stiffly at his sides, not moving. She knows that last line got him, so she adds, "But we'll find her, baby. It's a small world, after all."
He can feel her hand grazing his cheek, and he can hear her footsteps as they walk away from him, back into the kitchen where the rest of his family is trying to cope. He feels some kind of sheen glaze over his eyes, and he can see the wall in front of him, but he's not actually staring at it. He's somewhere in his mind, anywhere else but here. He can't just cope. He doesn't want to.
Because he knows the truth behind that damn song.
"So, have you heard from Lexi?"
Jesus looks up at his sister, who is standing in his doorway, leaning on its frame. She's holding her phone in her hands, flipping it around through anxious fingers, though for what reason she's fidgeting, he's unsure. There's too many.
He sits up on his bed, retrieving his phone out of his back pocket before he presses his full weight into the mattress. He checks it for about the eleventh time in the past half hour. "Nope, and by the look on your face, I'm guessing you haven't either."
She takes his body language as an invite and situates herself next to her brother on the bed, sighing as she does so. "I'm sure she'll text us both soon. I'm more worried about everybody else. I mean, did you see that look on Jude's face?" She doesn't recall seeing Jude on his bed, but to be sure she leans to the side and checks again. His bed is a mess of sheets and comforter, and his pillow is missing from it, strewn across the floor somewhere. It's like he could feel the absence of his sister as he slept, his distress clear. "Speaking of which, where is he?"
"Mom's took him out with them to look for Callie. He knows all her favorite shops around here."
Mariana almost wants to scoff, but knows now is probably not the best time to be caustic. "They can't really think she'd still be in town, can they?"
"They can't file the missing persons report until tomorrow, and you know sitting around won't do Jude any good. Makes me feel a little better, too. Ignorance is bliss, right?"
She shakes her head. Even in her despair, she manages to maintain the need to correct her twin. "Ignorance doesn't work that way. You don't get to choose it."
He rolls his eyes, trying to think up something witty, when both of their phones light up. They're racing to unlock them, and they're both thinking Lexi, finally, but it ends up being Lena, texting them to let them know the three of them are eating dinner at a local cafe, and they can all come on down and join them or stay home and eat something there, whatever they're up to.
"I need to get out of this house." Mariana grumbles, pushing off the bed. "You?"
"Yeah, but what about Brandon?"
They exchange knowing looks, tapping in on that sort of telepathy they've always had. Truth be told, neither really need to say much to get a point across. They both know why he's so torn up, why he's been locked in his room all day, pounding away on the ivories. They just don't know why.
"Something happened, Jesus. I don't know what, but Brandon wasn't the same at the wedding."
He agrees, naturally. "I got that, too. But it's worth a shot."
"I know you still have your phone, and you're going to listen to these messages soon or later. You need to come home. Whatever made you leave, whatever the reason, I'm sure it's nothing compared to where you've wound up." He runs his hand through his unruly hair in frustration as he thinks on that last statement. "God, Callie, you could be hurt right now and there's nothing I can do about it." He thinks about mentioning Jude, but he knows better than playing the guilt card. By now, he's the master at knowing what chisels away at that wall of hers and what only adds to it. "At least let me know if you're safe. Somehow. I don't think that's too much to ask for."
And he's spent so much time just breathing into the phone that her voicemail cuts him off. He considers leaving another, but he's already left three, and if she really cares about him in the way she made it seem just yesterday, she'd call back.
He sets his phone down on the keyboard, but his eyes stay peeled to the screen. There's five unread messages from Talya and one unread message from Lena. He ignores both.
Until there's a loud, obnoxious knock on his door, jarring him in his place. "My headphones aren't in!"
The door opens slowly and Jesus slips in from behind it, looking sheepish. "Sorry, thought you had them in. Have you checked your phone lately? Mom's are down at Rod's and we're going to go join them, you coming?"
This obviously angers him. "They're eating? They should be out looking for Callie!"
"Dude, they've been looking for her all day," Jesus replies quietly, in hopes to quell his brother's rising voice, but when his eyebrows refuse to return to their normal place on his face, he adds defensively, "We kinda need our bodies functioning properly to even try to find her!"
"Try," he repeats, releasing a short, bitter laugh, "right. Well, in that case, I'll man the house in case she decides to come back. Cause, you know, that's apparently very possible."
Jesus reaches behind him for the doorknob, drilling holes with his eyes in the back of his brother's head, who refuses to turn around this whole conversation. "We're all really worried about her. What gives you the right above all of us to be a dick about it?"
He stands, suddenly, and strides over to his brother, shutting the door forcefully behind his head. His nostrils are larger than usual, and his face is a little too close for comfort. "We kissed! Callie and I kissed! While none of you have even bothered to try to get to know her, to help her out of her shell, I've been slaving away trying to help her trust again! And you know what? She finally does, she finally trusts me. And now she's gone!"
The words seep out of his mouth before he can stop them. "Did you ever think that maybe that's why she left?"
He regrets them instantly. But Brandon's not advancing on him, he's retreating, and his eyebrows are slipping back into place, along with his mouth that had found its way upside down on his face. His voice is low but it's not quiet, and it rumbles like thunder around them. "Of course."
"I'm sure that's not why-"
"You better go, you shouldn't keep mom's waiting."
Jesus still feels really bad, but he knows there's not much more he can do when his brother gets like this. So he just nods. "I'll bring you home my leftovers."
He holds open the door for him, taking comfort in the familiar squeak of the rusty hinges, and the familiar quips of his brother. Familiarity, that's what he needs to keep his mind off things. "We both know that's an empty promise."
And he's trying, really trying to sound happy as he says this, and Jesus even tries to smile in encouragement, but behind the facade of a happy family is always baggage. So he shuts the door. The only convincing walls are those that are palpable.
A bunch of nothingness zips by. That's all it's been for a while. In great company is a slew of bad music.
Wyatt glances at the small girl beside him, a smirk playing on his lips. She sees him but doesn't look back, just keeps her eyes on some tree in the distance, fending off car sickness. Summer days and broken A/C is a dangerous combination, as well as running away and ex-boyfriends.
"Care to elaborate?"
Finally she turns to him, but her eyes are smaller than usual, glued in a glare for what seems like miles. "This. band. sucks."
He chuckles, and it's annoying her, his happiness is annoying her. She was so close to taking the bus, so close to making the right choice for once, but fate stopped her again, because they could never have that. They could never let Callie Jacobs make a good decision. "Well, that was definitely progress, but I was looking for somewhere around four words."
"Alright," she gives in, throwing up her hands dramatically, and he smiles a little again, "what do you want?"
He keeps a firm grip on the wheel, but sneaks a look at her again, his eyes round and unusually bright. He flips his hair off to the side, leaning awkwardly in his seat to keep it out of the way. "Just wondering when you're going to tell me why you're running away."
She is back to being the lonely girl on the bench, still nameless to him, not the one he spent weeks getting to know, and she's evading his questions with her own. "Well, if you care so much, why are you helping me run away?"
"Is this a car game? We answer questions with more questions?"
She sheds her jacket, chucking it in the backseat. "Things just didn't work out the way I thought they were going to. So I'm moving on."
"Don't you have a little brother?"
She looks away, but not at the barren wasteland that surrounds them, because God, she can't look at that any longer. Instead she focuses on the sideview mirror, watches as the road disappears after a certain point, after they put more space between her and Jude. "He's safe with them. They're going to adopt him."
Wyatt's about to cuss or hit the brakes, one or the other or both, when he stops himself. He can't talk. He's not one to. He has his fair amount of twisted shit in his life, he's in no place to tell her she's making a mistake. But now he knows. She told him without realizing it. She left so she wouldn't have to stand around while her lover became her brother.
"As long as you're sure."
His words seem to evoke memories of a certain Foster boy, and the way he promised, just with those cerulean eyes alone, to take care of her forever. "Positive. He's cared for."
He smiles again, but this time it's soft, and there's a little empathy behind it. "You are, too."
She doesn't smile back, she doesn't do anything in fact, she just looks at him, her face void of all emotion. With one arm, he pulls off to the side of the road, picking up his phone from the cup holder. Before she can ask, he explains, "Just texting my mom real quick, letting her know I'm almost there."
"You know, nothing lets someone know you're there better than actually being there."
He chuckles at her impatience. "Remind me again why I let you a hitch a ride?"
"I'd rather not."
But behind their bickering is some sort of silent agreement to stick together, to have each other's backs, even if it means just as friends. They are both content with just that, and both comfortable with the silence that they ride in for the remainder of the trip.
He's still sitting at the piano bench, except he's not playing, when his phone lights up again. He almost doesn't check to see who it is, because he's sure it's just Talya again, but something is jumping in his stomach, compelling him to read his messages.
It's from Wyatt.
He's off the seat, then, standing again, thumb sliding sloppily across the screen in his haste to unlock his phone. He remembers when he found Wyatt alone once at school, and insisted they exchanged numbers, if when he were out with Callie, her phone dies. Just in case of an emergency, he remembers saying. For his mother's sake, he said. But they both knew who it was really for.
Neither boy ever found himself having to use it, and never thought they would ever have to.
So the fact that Wyatt's name is on his screen now is enough to make his heart stop, whether out of dread or relief, he's unsure yet. He opens the message, ignoring the ones that are piling up under Talya's contact.
Hey man ive got callie. I cant bring her back now you know she wont let me but were headed for indiana. text me when you get here. wyatt
The apparent lack of punctuation finds no place in his mind, because all he can think about is bringing Callie back, knowing and seeing her safe in person and not just in words. He's out the door before both of his shoes are even on all the way, his fingers dancing across the keypad of his phone as he dials a number.
"Dad? I'm coming over."
There's a long pause on the other end, the exact amount of alcohol present in his blood obvious when he finally speaks. "I don't know, now's not the best time."
He hangs up the phone just in time to catch their neighbor waving at him from across the street. He waves back just as he strolls past his car in the driveway, casting it a quick glance before continuing down the sidewalk. He thinks he'll walk today.
Next week on The Fosters:
Stef and Lena must decide whether or not to get the police involved with finding Callie, given her probation circumstances
Brandon finds Callie in the nick of time
All new, Monday, August 12th