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    Nephylim
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

My Brother Daniel - 16. Chapter 16

I can’t begin to say how wonderful it was to spend what was left of the afternoon, and the evening, with Daniel. We watched terrible television programs, which Daniel had obviously seen before, because he could mouth dialogue along with the characters, and constantly chatted about what was happening, what had happened, and what was about to happen.

Breaking a rule that stayed with me from home, I relented to Daniel’s pleas and we brought the pizza to bed. It’s been quite an experience, but one I think we’ll be repeating; probably quite often.

“Oh. Oh,” Daniel cries, his mouth stuffed full off pizza. “Look. The spell is going to backfire. Look. There.” Daniel bounces and waves a half chewed slice of pizza at the television. Thank goodness it’s the last piece. Daniel loves pizza. He doesn’t so much eat, as consumes it. Sara laughs at him and calls him the human hoover. He doesn’t seem to mind. Daniel is one of those people who can make even slurping spaghetti and getting sauce all over his face look elegant and cute. Me, not so much. He is also one of those hugely annoying people who eat their weight in food every day and not put on an ounce. I’m already finding my clothes getting tighter. We’re going to be finding a martial arts class very soon as I’ve been sadly neglecting the gym lately.

“Have you eaten all the pizza?”

Daniel glances at the slice in his hand, down at the box, then back at the slice. With a sheepish expression, he holds it out to me. “Sorry. I think I ate way more than half.”

“I think you might have.”

“You had most of the garlic bread.”

“Only because you were sulking that we didn’t get the cheese one.”

“I was not sulking.” Daniel pouts, making lies of his words, but he’s only teasing. His bright smile reappears quickly. “Are you going to eat this piece then?”

“No, you finish it. I wouldn’t want you to starve.”

“Hardly.” Daniel laughs, then breaks of a piece of pizza and holds it to my lips. Grinning, I open my mouth and he feeds me the rest of the slice. It gets more intense and more erotic with every bite. Daniel moves closer and after the last bite he holds his greasy fingers up for me to lick clean. Oh god.

 

NEEDLESS TO SAY we didn’t watch much television, and when we eventually collapsed into a tangle of sheets with the intention of sleeping, it didn’t take long for me to start to drift.

“Rayn, I want to know something,” Daniel says out of the blue in a voice that has alarm bells ringing in my suddenly–wide–awake brain. “And I want you to think about and say the truth, not what you think I want you to say.”

“Okay.”

“Promise?”

“Okay.”

I turn on my side and prop my head on my hand so I can look down at Daniel. His face is calm and wearing a thoughtful expression so whatever he has to ask can’t be that bad – can it?”

“Do you ever wish I was normal?”

The question hits me like a blow. I wasn’t expecting it, or anything like it.

“Why would you think that?”

“Think what?”

“That I wish you were normal?”

“I don’t think it; not yet. That’s why I asked, because I don’t know.”

“Oh. I see. No, I don’t wish you were normal.”

“You promised to think about it,” Daniel says and turns to face me, propping up his head in a mirror to me.

“I don’t need to think about it. I love you just the way you are.” Daniel twitches his head away when I reach to touch his hair.

“No, Rayn. I need you to think about it. To re…really think. Hard. Think about everything. Please. Just think about it and tell me the truth.”

“What brought this on?”

“The po…police said that Andy’s lawyers would tr…try to say I…I’m not fit to give evidence, or to persuade the judge I’m to st…stupid to…to know the truth. And they mi…might say you’re a ba…bad man for taking advantage of me.”

“Andy’s lawyers can say what they like. No judge listening to you is going to believe that for a minute.”

Daniel frowns. “I mi…might not be a…ble to say anything. If…if someone is pu…pushing m…me I won’t be able to speak at all.”

Daniel’s words throw me sideways. Of course I’d known Andy’s lawyers, if they were any good at all, would play on Daniel’s disabilities, but it had never occurred to me they might use them against me, or that Daniel wouldn’t be able to show the judge how eloquent and intelligent he is. If he’s not able to speak he’ll play right into their hands. And where would that leave me?

“Is that what happened when you were giving your statement? Did you freeze up?”

“No…not exactly. I…got through it but the lady was nice and sh…sh gave me time. They won’t do that in court and I’m sc..scared I’m going to screw it all up for you.”

Despite initial resistance, I grab Daniel and pull him into a close embrace. “You have never and will never ‘screw it all up’ for me. You are what you are and I love every single inch of you, including your amazing brain.”

“Even though it’s br…broken?”

“It’s not broken, it’s just different.”

“Hm. So do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Every wish I was normal.”

I’m about to respond with a resounding no when I remember how much Daniel wants me to think carefully and be honest, do I do. I think carefully. And my thoughts are not entirely comfortable. Do I ever wish Daniel were ‘normal’? Well, the truth is, I do. Usually when he’s being excruciatingly embarrassing. Sometimes when I get frustrated with his limitations. Sometimes when I ache for his frustrations. But the truth is, those thoughts are rare and fleeting and I’m telling the truth when I say I wouldn’t want him to be any other way. He’s Daniel. My Daniel.

“Absolute truth. There are some times. Mostly when you’re embarrassing the hell out of me.” I kiss his nose to take the sting out of my words and he laughs.

“I’m sorry. I’ll try more, but I think I’m always going to be like that. I forget what I’m supposed to do when I get excited.”

“And as your excitement is one of the things I love most about you I guess I’m going to have to get used to the embarrassment.”

Daniel absolutely beams. “Is that the only time?” he prompts, and I wish he wouldn’t. However, I know him well enough to hope he’ll stop before he gets everything he wants.

“There’s only one other time, and that’s when I watch you get hurt and upset. I don’t wish it for me, but sometimes I wish it for you.”

Daniel’s smile gets even wider, if that’s possible. “Don’t waste your wished. Rayn, you need them for better things. I’m happy. Sometimes I get mad with myself, but I know I’m not that bad really. I’m even better now I’m with you.”

“Do you think so?”

“I know so. You make me more than I was. More….something. A better me.”

I pause in the process of laughing and realize something. “Know what? You make me a better me too.”

“Yay. We’re both better us’s.”

“I don’t think that’s a word.”

“Don’t care. I like the way it sounds. Us’s like buses. If it wasn’t a word before, it is now. I’m like Shakespeare.”

“You are?”

“Yes, he made up words too, and now they’re stuck right in there and everyone uses them. One day someone will be using all my words too. Of course, I have to get famous first.”

“I’m sure you will, one day.”

Daniel gazes at me. “I think I will, too. I wouldn’t have before but now I’m better, now I’m one of the better us’s I’m sure.”

“Okay, Mr Famous, can we go to sleep now?”

Daniel ponders, then smiles. “Yes,” he says then snuggles in to my side. He’s asleep almost before I lie down properly and I get a chance to gaze at him for a while and ponder how beautiful he is.

 

SARA is picking Daniel up at twelve. It’s not as bad as it might be because we’re all going out to lunch so I still get to see him. I don’t know how I’ll feel when we say goodbye because I’m almost in tears watching him gather his things. Surprisingly, Daniel seems bright and cheerful. I can’t deny I’m a tiny bit miffed that he doesn’t seem concerned about saying goodbye.

Dropping his bag by the door, Daniel sashays over and slides his good arm around my waist. “I cheated,” he whispers. That has me confused.

“Cheated at what?”

“Going home.”

“I don’t understand.”

Daniel grins at me. “Do you remember that song “Wherever I Lay My Hat That’s My Home.”

“I think it’s just called––”

“Doesn’t matter,” Daniel cuts in. “Anyway, I brought my hat. It’s a woolly one, but I guess it doesn’t matter. I left it under the pillow and I left my toothbrush in the bathroom. That means this is my home now, so I have to come back. All the time.”

“Er…Daniel, I don’t think….”

Daniel huffs. “I didn’t mean move in. Not yet. I need to give Mam time to get used to the idea. Maybe “all the time” wasn’t quite right. “Often”, then. Is that okay?”

I mirror Daniel’s grin. “That’s more than okay.”

“But I warn you,” Daniel kisses my nose then dances away, “I’m working on Mam, and it won’t be long before my pyjamas are there with my hat and your key’s on my keyring.”

I pause for a moment hovering between amusement and panic, then my stomach flips and I plunge headlong into an ocean of emotion. I flounder for a while, then I catch Daniel’s smile. The sun comes out over the sea, and the muddy waters become crystal clear. Who am I kidding? I’m in love with Daniel. One hundred percent, head–over–heels crazy about him, and I can’t think of anything better than going to sleep every night in his arms and waking up every morning to his smile.

“Our key.”

“What?”

“It’ll be our key, not mine.”

Daniel beams. “Yeah. Our key. That sounds good.”

I take Daniel into a gentle embrace and am about to enter into what my mother once called a ‘heavy petting session’ – which I like, although I don’t think ‘pet’ is the right word here at all – when Daniel’s phone sang out with the song that’s linked to Sara. Daniel didn’t even try to answer, and it cut off before he could have anyway. It wasn’t really a call, it was a signal. Given the circumstances I’m not too confident about opening my door at the moment, so we came up with the signal so I’d know it was Sara and could open with confidence when she knocked.

“Perfect timing,” Daniel says. He sounds cross, but it doesn’t last long. “Never mind, I’ll be living here soon then I won’t have to answer the door to her if I don’t want.”

“You think?”

Daniel gazes at me thoughtfully, then grins. “I’m always going to open the door to her, aren’t I? Even when I’m famous and old, and she’s married and old and she can hardly climb the steps to the front porch.”

“If you want to keep your balls where they are I guess you will.”

Daniel gasps, his face a picture of shock. “Oh no,” he says, putting one hand over his mouth in one of his endearing gestures. He uses it when he’s said or about to say something he knows he shouldn’t. “My balls are safe. It’s yours that are inevitably going to end up as meatballs in the end.”

Now I’m the shocked one. “You cheeky little––”

As Daniel squeals and runs for the bedroom Sara’s firm knock heralds her arrival. “Saved by the bell,” I call after Daniel. His response is muffled but I know he’s calling me out on there not being a bell.

One look at Sara’s face and my heart sinks.

“What’s wrong?”

“You’d better sit down.”

“What? Why? What’s happened?”

“It’s your car,” she says in her typically Sara getting–straight–to–the–point way. “It’s been vandalized.”

“What? What do you mean?”

Sara takes a breath. Now I look closer it’s obvious she’s shaken. She grips the back of the chair.

“As far as I can see, all the tires have been slashed and someone’s sprayed “Whore” on the windscreen.”

“I…. Oh my God.” I sit down hard.

Daniel bounces into the room, his mood changing instantly from buoyant to scared. “What’s wrong? Is Mam alright?”

“Mam’s fine,” Sara said firmly, “but Rayn’s car isn’t. It got vandalized.”

“It’s him, isn’t it?” Daniel spits. I’ve never heard fury in his voice before. I don’t like it. “Is he still there? I’m going to…to…. If I didn’t think his balls would be disgusting I’d be…be…. I’d rip them…them off. And I mean that.”

“Ssh, it’s alright.” Sara moves to embrace Daniel but he backs out of her reach.

“I’m going to kill him.”

“No you’re not. Be reasonable.”

“Reasonable? Don’t you think he’s hurt Rayn enough?”

“Yes, but….”

The argument carries on but I stop listening. I stop hearing. I’m numb. I spent my entire savings on that car. Everything that was left after paying the bond for the house. I’ve spent hours cleaning it and it’s never let me down. The thought of it slashed and violated makes me feel sick, as if it’s a person. Will this never end?

“No.”

The other to stop dead when I surge to my feet and both look to me with the same wary expression on his face.

“This ends now.”

“What do you mean?” Daniel’s voice is shaky but I can’t listen. I can’t let that distract me. Grabbing my phone from the hall table, I stomp into the bedroom and slam the door. I don’t want Daniel or Sara to have to hear this.

Andy answers after the second ring.

“I thought I might have got your attention.” His voice is honey laced with razor blades.

Well, I have razor blades in my arsenal too. It’s time I remembered that.

“Do you remember when we first met?”

“What?” Andy’s voice has lost its menace and is now confused. Good.

“You turned me into a pussy, Andy, but that wasn’t always the case, was it. Back in the day, before you turned me into your shadow, I had friends, lots of them, and some of them weren’t all that nice.”

“I know. That’s why I told you to break contact with them. They were bad for you.”

“Some of them were, yes, and I would have seen that myself eventually. I’d never have gone down the same path they did.”

“What do you mean?”

I grip the phone tightly and take a breath, trying to stop my hands trembling and keep my voice level. I’m about to cross a line I sworn to myself I’d never cross. “Didn’t you hear? Jamie went down last year for arson and Mitch doing a long stretch for aggravated burglary.”

“Why are you telling me this. I don’t care what your so–called friends are doing.” The snappyness turns to honey again. “Maybe you can see now that I was protecting you. I’ve always protected you. I’ve always done my best for you. Taken care of you.”

“You should care, Andy,” I say, struggling to keep my voice steady and trying to inject it with some ice. “You will in a minute.”

“Okay then.” I can imagine Andy leaning against a wall and crossing his arms. “Play your little games. What do you want to tell me Get it over with, then we can talk about us and where we go from here.”

“There is no ‘us’ Andy. I’ve tried my best to make you understand; to make you accept it’s over, but I’ve failed utterly, so I decided to hand it over to someone who can make you understand.”

Andy snorts. “Do me a favour. Do you think the police are going to do anything. My lawyers will have you both so tied up in knots you’ll be lucky if the judge doesn’t send you down. As for that snivelling retard you’re calling your boyfriend these days, it won’t be hard to crack him open so wide he’ll never put himself back together.”

And that does it. The image of Daniel in the witness box falling apart is too much. “But this is never going to trial, Andy. Daniel is not going to have to give evidence and neither am I.”

The relief is palpable in Andy’s voice. No matter what he said he wasn’t as confident as he made out. It doesn’t matter. “I knew you’d come to your senses. If you like, I’ll come to the police station when you retract your statement. You’ll need a lift.”

“You misunderstand. It isn’t going to trial because you are going plead guilty.”

There’s silence for a moment, then Andy laughs. “Are you serious? Have you been drinking?”

“I’m deadly serious.”

“And what in your wildest dreams makes you think I’d do something as monumentally stupid as that?”

“Oh, I don’t think it would be stupid, Andy. Not at all. I think it would be the least stupid thing you’ve ever done. In fact, it would be monumentally stupid of you not to.”

Andy’s laugh is a little uncertain now. “Are you trying to threaten me somehow? Don’t think I’m scared of that that little twerp no matter how many self–defence classes he’s done. There are ways, you know.”

“Oh yeah. I know. I know very well.”

I let the silence worm its way into Andy’s brain. “What are you trying to say.”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. It would be silly of me to threaten you, wouldn’t it. What with you being so big and hard and me being an absolute pussy. The thing is…. The thing is that I might be a pussy, but I know a lot of people who aren’t. See, I never completely cut ties with my friends. Did you know Jamie had a crush on me at school? I send his mother flowers and cards for her birthday; always have. He’s very grateful for that. He’s grateful for a lot of things. So are the others. Not all of them are in prison. Some haven’t been caught yet.”

“What the hell do I care about your stupid friends?”

But he’s uncertain now. There’s an edge of unease, maybe even fear. I think he knows what I’m saying.

“I guess Jamie’s made new friends now, on the inside. Bad sorts, I’d think.”

“Get to the fucking point.”

“The point is….” I think again about Daniel. How upset he’d been after giving his statement, the things we’d spoken about last night and I don’t have to fake the menace in my voice. “The point is that my old friends might not be too happy about the things you’re doing. I’m not threatening you Andy. I’m specifically not threatening you, but if I were you I’d be a bit worried about that.”

“W…worried?” I hear him swallow. He knows.

“Yeah, worried. If we have to go to court I’m going to ask my old friends to come with me – for support, you know. They’ll get a good look at you and I don’t know if I’ll be able to persuade them not to get pissed with you, especially when Daniel gets upset. They haven’t met Daniel, but they’ll love him when they do. Fi always had a soft spot for Daniel’s kind of sweetness and seeing as she’s Jamie’s girlfriend….” I leave it hanging and it seems to be having its desired effect.

“You are threatening me.”

“Not at all. I’m warning you, that’s all. I wouldn’t want you to do anything stupid…any more stupid things…without being fully aware of the consequences. See, I think my friends are pretty cool, but even I have to admit they’re a bit crazy and not really all that nice, especially not to people they don’t like. I wouldn’t want you to have to spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder, jumping at shadows, straining for the sounds in the night. They do their best work at night, I hear.”

“You are fucking threatening me, you arsehole. Don’t think you can get away it. I’m not frightened of you and I’m going to make your life a fucking misery until––”

“Until you have stop because they won’t let you have a phone in the hospital. You can’t dial with broken fingers.”

“Don’t you fucking dare threaten me.”

“When will you get it through your thick head that I’m not threatening you. I’m just worried about you. I mean, we’re not together anymore but I wouldn’t want you to end up as a white chalk line and another statistic. I’d feel bad.”

“Y…you would?”

“For a while. I don’t wish you dead, Andy. Just the fuck out of my life.”

I can practically hear him thinking, the thoughts racing through his head. He’s a crazy bastard, but he’s not stupid.”

“You wouldn’t really do that would you?”

“Do what? Talk to my friends? Tell them how upset I am? Too fucking right I would. You brainwashed me to into thinking I don’t need friends, but everyone needs friends. Friends are always there to have your back.”

More silence.

“Alright. You win. I’ll plead guilty, but you have to reduce the charge so I don’t go down.”

“You deserve to.”

“Fuck you, I…. I can’t go to prison, Rayn.”

“I guess not. Not with Jamie in there. Okay, I’ll see what I can do. It’s not really down to me. You understand there’s no way I’m dropping the charges.”

“Yeah, yeah I understand. I’ll do whatever you want. Just don’t….”

“Don’t what?”

“I can’t live my life looking over my shoulder. I don’t do confrontation.” The fear is raw now, his composure is cracking as his mind is supplying him with clear pictures of what he thinks might happen. He’s clever enough to understand he can’t take things out on me or Daniel because unlike the police, the gang I used to run with wouldn’t care about evidence. Not that they’d ever know. I haven’t spoken to any of them for years, but he doesn’t need to know that. I do send Jamie’s mother flowers though. She was kind to me when no one else cared.

“So I’ve heard. Plead guilty and I’ll forget I ever knew you. I’ll never mention your name again – to anyone.”

“Swear it.”

“I don’t know what you mean, Andy? Swear what?”

“That you won’t set your scummy friends after me.”

“I don’t think I could do that if I wanted to. I don’t control them, you know. But I tell you what, I’ll give Jamie’s mum a call and tell her who the big bunch of flowers and chocolates are from. Jamie has a soft spot for people who are nice to his mother.”

“What flowers.”

“Lilies are her favourites.”

“What? Oh…oh right. She’s the one who lives in the flat over the chip shop?”

“That’s right.”

“Okay. I’ll do what you want; whatever you want.”

“I don’t want anything from you. Nothing. I just want you to plead guilty to the charge then disappear. I don’t ever want to see or hear from you again.”

“Okay. Whatever you want.”

“Oh, and you can fix my car.”

“Yeah. I’ll sort it out with the garage. Rayne.”

“What?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Do you think I care?”

“No. I suppose not. But I do. I always have. I love you.”

“You don’t love anyone but yourself and if you give a damn about yourself you’ll forget I ever existed.”

“I’ll never forget you.”

I hang up. I couldn’t bear it any longer. I was always a sucker for Andy’s mock–sincere ploy, especially as I have a sneaking suspicion he is actually sincere this time. Falling back on the bed, I throw one arm over my eyes. My heart is pounding. I can’t believe I did that. I can’t believe I pulled it off. I scared myself at one point. It was all bullshit, but I think I half believed it myself.

Slowly it sinks in. He’s gone. Andy has really gone. I’m very confident about that because if there’s only thing Andy does better than manipulation it’s self–preservation. He was genuinely scared and the more he thinks about it the more scared he’ll get. He’s not the brightest bulb in the box and he’ll never believe little ol’ me would have made all that up. He believed it and he’ll carry on believing it. If he has the odd sleepless night of ‘what ifs’ who cares.

The hesitant knock makes me jump half out of my skin.

“Is everything alright. It’s gone awful quiet in there.”

“Have you been listening?”

“Yes, but I didn’t hear what you said, only your voice.”

“Come in, Snoopy.”

Daniel opens the door and steps hesitantly into the room. “You called him didn’t you?”

“Yeah, I called him.”

“What did he say?”

Daniel looks terrified and anger surges through me. I stand and hug Daniel. Maybe I should make some calls. No, that would make me just like him, and I’ll never be that. Never.

“Yes, I called him, and I persuaded him to leave us alone. He’s going to plead guilty to the charges so we won’t have to go to court.”

“Really?” Daniel’s eyes light up and just like that his bounce is back. “Sara,” he yelled. “Rayne’s sorted everything out. We don’t have to go to court.”

Sara appears and peers at me. “It’s not as easy as that, Daniel. Someone like Andy doesn’t just give up like that after one call.”

“Trust me. He will after this one.”

She narrows her eyes. “Why? What did you say?”

I squirm uncomfortably. Suddenly, the euphoria at having pulled off my little charade evaporates and I feel like shit. I shouldn’t have done that. But hell he deserved it.

“I said I was going to take out a contract on him if he didn’t leave us alone.”

Daniel laughs, but Sara holds my gaze for a moment before she shakes her head and turns. “I don’t want to know,” she says over her shoulder. “Come on, Mam’s waiting. I guess we’ll take my car.”

Copyright © 2016 Nephylim; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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