July 4th 2004-
Adrienne was not sentimental, she was not. She was cold, collected, a Frost no matter what was whispered, and yet...here she was two months after Chrisy had been put away for his own safety. Yes she knew where he was OF COURSE she knew where he was, even if she had not it would have been simple to find the information. He wasn’t allowed anything that could be used as a weapon so the single cupcake she had gotten for his birthday...it wasn’t sentiment, it wasn’t an apology it was…she didn’t know.
Ever since her father had taken her to his room, her emotions had grown more and more distant from what she could feel, there was very little that could pierce her cloak of ruthless detachment. Winstons treatment of Cordy was one of the few things that still touched her heart, and even then all she could do was try and deflect his rage onto her body instead of her littlest sister.
Unlike Emma the sight of her brother hurting himself in retaliation for their fathers deeds only filled her with disgust, if he was a MAN he would have stood up for what happening to the girls. Instead it was HER body that took the brunt of Winston to keep Emma pure, to keep Cordy safe. She suppressed a shudder the things she had been forced to do to get him to let them send Cordy to boarding school…
She was lead into his private, of course it was private he was a FROST, room. Her dye’d blonde hair shining in the summer sunlight let in. “Hello Chris.” she greeted her brother the blue pastry box in her hands. “Happy birthday.”
They’d handcuffed him. They had handcuffed him, not for his own safety this time, but rather for his sister’s. His ranting and raving since he’d been brought in to the institution hadn’t stopped, and it hadn’t included his other two younger sisters, only Adrienne. Adrienne, who had betrayed him, who had been his closest sibling, and had never bothered to ask him what had happened…
She was here today. Today! Hair no longer blonde, they wouldn’t let him dye it anymore, so now it was the deep brown that he had naturally, head bent forward slightly, eyes on the ground. Eyes that weren’t completely focused, but no longer clouded with drugs, either. The handcuff were attached by a chain to the table, which also served as a desk, pushed to the middle of the room with him sitting on the edge of his bed and a chair for Adrienne on the opposite side.
They had tried to get him to talk about what had driven him to the drugs. About the previous suicide attempts. About why he preferred men. And he hadn’t uttered a word to the man that had been assigned as his doctor. Not so much as a ‘hello’ for the man. He sat silent during their sessions, and rarely so much as met his eyes. Adrienne entered the room and Christian shifted on the bed, he didn’t look up until she spoke, using his name, and then he raised his glare to her. His lips twisted into a grimace at the sight of her, “Why are you here?”
If Chris blamed her for not talking...well he had never asked about her either, not when they both withdrew from each other a decade ago. She set the box down, something deep in her that she refused to acknowledge twisted seeing the cuffs. “Its your birthday. I wanted to see how you were.” If she could have still shown the emotions her voice would have been soft, instead it was as expressionless as her face. “I hear that the withdrawal is almost over?” it was a question, perhaps caring perhaps cunning to see how much of a threat he still was. Adrienne dropped into the chair gracefully, “If you say you will be good I’ll ask them to take off the cuffs.” she pulled off her black leather gloves, even in the summer heat she kept them on.
Chris blamed Adrienne for her actions. He’d caught her in the act with their father and hadn’t said a word. He’d kept her shame to himself, and in return she had had him locked away. She’d told their father he was gay! He wasn’t gay, but that didn’t matter… His birthday? It had been that long already, then. He simply shrugged at the news, though - time had lost its meaning a long while before in this place...every day was the same, there was only the routine, and the boredom, and the agony he still suffered from the withdrawals.
She mentioned the handcuffs and he glanced at them, his blue eyes dark when he looked back up at her, still slightly unfocused, but cognizant at the same time, “Oh, I’ll be good, Adrienne.” The promise was spoken almost too softly to be heard, and the smile he gave her was perfunctory, but he raised his hands up as far as he could from where they were lashed to the table, palms up in a semblance of helplessness.
Adrienne let out a soft tisk, “A poor lie Chrisy.” her lips twisted in disappointment both at his terrible lie, and that he would see her so gullible. She opened up the pastry box, the cuffs should give him enough leeway to eat it, there was a candle but unlit. “Sadly I was told fire would be bad.” for a second she was back to his 19th birthday, on her belly on the table Winston behind her, Chris’s birthday cake next to them, there were no tears in her eyes, she had made her deal with him, this violation again for a chance at a ‘normal’ birthday for Chris, maybe the only present she could give him as their family spun further and further away from her. She had seen the signs of Winstons brewing rage, and pulled him with a smile into the room, culling his temper with her body.
Oh Chris, why did you have to walk into look at your cake at that moment? And why, why didn’t you stop him? Tears had come then as he closed the door before Winston had seen him, the last ones she had shed. The death of hope had been brutal.
Chris sneered at his “sister” with all the rage and betrayal he felt. “No, the poor lie was thinking we were family that you could care about someone other than yourself and your lust for power!” His arms jerked at the bonds holding him back, the cuffs jerking against his skin and holding him in place, “The poor lie was hoping that you’d cared! It was always about the power, wasn’t it?! It was always about you being better than all the rest of us!” His voice carried, he wasn’t whispering now, he couldn’t whisper, not about this, and he couldn’t keep quiet, either. Standing, Christian yanked at the chains holding him back from the woman who had betrayed him, the cupcake, a mocking gesture if he’d ever seen one, left untouched.
“I wasn’t going to tell anyone! I wasn’t going to betray you! But you betrayed me anyway! You told him! How could you tell him?! How, Adri?! How could you do that to me? Why? I wasn’t going to tell anyone about what you were doing! I didn’t… Do you think that I didn’t try to forget what I saw?! Did you think I was going to say something?! You could have asked! You’re my sister!! You were…” It was a look of pure disgust, “I didn’t know how much you wanted power, Adrienne, but I wasn’t going to stop you if that’s what you wanted!”
The words bit deeply but she showed no sign until he spoke of betrayal. “I betrayed You?” the first hint of heat seeped in to her voice. Adrienne was glad for the sound proofing of the room, “What I was doing?” Protecting Emma, buying Cordy’s freedom, THAT was what she was doing. All while he just moped, hurting himself in a ridiculous display of childish petulance. “Yes, I want power!” of COURSE she did, because she was powerless, had been for too long, and the only way to keep her siblings safe was under her father's thumb. One day he would push her too far, she knew it had started slowly setting up her plans, “You were destroying yourself!” And yes, part of it was revenge because he found someone to love, while she was forced to...dote on their father. She had been jealous, first born, he and Emma were the ones that Father loved best, the only ones he cared about beyond simple possession, the only ones he acknowledged fully as his. Chris never took the brunt of the beatings, never had to step between Winston and Cordy, no. And then when she needed him most he was already gone, distant as their father took him out more and more for father son bonding. And when Winston came home….she shook her head. “I did what I had to.” came the snarl at last.
“What you had to?!” It was too much. Christian bellowed at Adrienne. Once, they’d been so close...what had happened to them?? She wanted power. She wanted...who knew what drove her anymore?! “You had to seduce him? Sleep with him? For what Adrienne? Power! He told me! I went to him, after the wretched party! All I could see the rest of that day was you and him, together like that! You didn’t think I’d talk to him? It was… It was horrible! Do you think that’s something that I could just set out of my mind?!” No, that’s part of what the drugs had been for, what the drinking had been for… “Destroying myself?” Christian growled, “You don’t have a clue, Adrienne! Not everyone gets to make the decision what they do! Not everyone gets to decide who they give themselves to!” The tears that shone in Christian’s eyes were real, emotional, but they didn’t fall. He’d given up crying over that a long time ago. Instead, he’d taken his frustration with Aaron out physically.
Emma had had to pull him off of their uncle. It had been the first actual violence Christian had ever committed. Now, looking at his sister, at her self-righteous attitude, he wanted to be violent again. His fists came down on the table, hard enough to rattle the metal slab and shift the top on its legs, “So it wasn’t enough to get me locked away like some criminal, you have to come here and spew your garbage at me, too?! You have to try to make me feel sorry for you?! I don’t! We all have problems, Adrienne! You chose to… To do whatever you needed to do for power, so go! Enjoy your power! I hope it’s all worth it!”
Seduce? Her face hardened, Oh yes, Winston got off on having her play the willing little bitch in heat. Begging for him. “You went to him?” she leaned forward hands on the table, the danger he posed….there was some small glimmer of the child Adrienne who KNEW her brother would never hurt her. “And what did you and Winston talk about?” she snarled, cold fury in her voice. “How better to fuck me?” because if he HAD spoken to their father, if he HADN’T defended her, if he really thought in the end she ASKED for it...what else would they have talked about. “Did he tell you how I bled the first time? Did you get off on it? I knew he was taking you out at night, and after that. He would come to me. should I have been expecting my big brother to rape me too!?” Something evil and broken slid across her eyes. “Is that why you never played you ‘oh don’t hurt Emma or I’ll hang myself’ Games for me? Because you just wanted my ass as much as he does!?” Her face was inches from his, she had thought she was done with tears that he couldn’t hurt her anymore. But the thought of Chris holding her down as her father laughed...it was too clear. “You're right Chris we were all fucked up in that house, but at least I made sure I was the ONLY one he literally fucked.” She never asked for his pity never told him, never looked for his comfort after he retreated from her, she had taken what she had to. done what she must. “I earned every fucking thing I have. And one day soon, I’ll be alone. You at least got to fall in love or pretend too, so go fucking cry in to your pity hole. You blind bastard.”
Seduce was the word their father had used. Their father - according to Winston, Adrienne wasn’t his. But that didn’t make her any less his sister. Almost calm at her initial question, Christian nodded, “I did.” And then that snarl came out, and she insinuated… No, she more than insinuated, she came out and said it. Christian jerked back, this time not from anger, not from just disgust, but from being hurt, it was a recoil the same as he’d recoiled from Aaron the first time. The same hurt, escapist attempt to draw away. His voice was a mere whisper, “How could you ever think that?” It pained Christian to think that Adrienne would ever say something like that; that she thought he… “I love you, Adri. You’re my sister. I… I went to him. I told him if he ever touched you like that again… And he laughed at me, Adrienne. He laughed as he told me how you seduced him, how you had gone to him and asked him to…” He shook his head, unable to look at her now. Bled? That was… His gaze jerked back to her, staring for a moment, the jumbled mess and timeline in his mind trying to sort itself, “But…” He didn’t know how to respond to it…
“I was blind. I thought you were like me. That you were just… Just biding your time until we could get out with Em and Cordy… But then I saw that, and… and I thought you’d done it so he’d give you the company, and when I threatened that…” He was harder than he had been before they’d locked him way. Not hard, but harder. He didn’t cry, and while his jaw tensed and made it clear he was hurting, he didn’t whine or sob. “Well, Adrienne, I’m locked away in a little room and you can come and taunt and poke at me all you’d like and they’ll chain me up so I can’t even retaliate. All I can do is thrash and scream. So poke some more. It doesn’t hurt me anymore, I stopped letting it hurt when I was eleven.”
And he never noticed or acknowledged her accusation of rape on Winston, beyond a confused look, but it only lasted for a moment before he was throwing his hate at her again “No Chris I was never like you, I’m more realistic, I know damn well there is no escaping being a Frost. So I played inside the system.” She shut down again the single burst of rage, reaching out to her brother had burned her out. She had no come to torment her brother, no matter what he thought. He could say he loved her all he wanted, she at least had shown her’s. Adrienne pulled her gloves back on. “And I stopped bleeding when I was twelve.” She assumed he meant when their father started to take him ‘out’ but he was being a whiney little bitch for complaining about that. She was sure it was traumatic, but not nearly as bad as everything else. Adrienne stood to go. “I hope you enjoy the cake.”
Dec-2004 Day before Christmas.
Another pastry box another masochistic visit, they had torn each other apart the last time and yet he was still her brother. “Chris.” she greeted him again, this time the box filled with his favorite cannoli.
They hadn’t allowed him to eat the cupcake after she’d gone last time, and he probably wouldn’t have eaten it after that, anyway. He’d acted out, and of course Winston had been notified of his destructive actions, and he’d been sent to isolation. Still Adrienne was allowed to visit him, though this time, further precautions had been taken. Chris sat, held up almost entirely by a spray of pillows, still handcuffed, just in case, and chained to his table. Before Adrienne entered the room, she was told quietly to be cautious - he’d beaten another patient for touching him unexpectedly - motions made to touch or reach for him should be made slowly.
She said his name and he made a soft murmuring noise, tilting his head to look at her, his eyes further away than they had been last time. “Adrienne.” His voice was quiet, but not whispered, “Hi.”
Adrienne had demanded this time with her quiet, cold self assurance for the key to his cuffs, she would make the choice this time how restrained he was. Why did after everything the sight of him in handcuffs still tear at her? She slid the box onto the table again. “Merry Christmas.” it was flat almost a tiny hint of amusement because when had Christmas in their family ever been anything but the worst day’s of their life? Her eyes flicked over him. “They drugged you.” again there was almost a flavor of anger in her words, he was here to get better this was a chance none of them had had before. She pulled the glove off her left hand, her face expressionless as she reached to read the hand cuffs, how often had they been used on him? How was he really being treated? She braced herself for the barrage of imagery as she saw the history of them.
“I hate Christmas. It’s vile.” Never before had Christian ever been anything but chipper and cheerful about Christmas; he had always tried to override the bad with how good the holiday was. Now, though, that had changed. He no longer bothered to try to hide his disdain for the holiday, that he knew it was a terrible day for the family. Yes, they had drugged him. He gave a shrug, they’d told him it was for his sister’s safety, and he had told them he didn’t want to see her, but that hadn’t seemed to matter. “Yup.” He looked down at his handcuffed hands, “I hit Aaron, and now they don’t think I’m safe. He had it coming. He’s never gonna touch me like that again.”
Of course it wasn’t the real Aaron, but Christian hadn’t realized that at the time. The other patient’s name wasn’t even Aaron. But his uncle had been beaten and hospitalized not long before Chris had been sent to the institution…
The handcuffs weren’t used in a completely cruel way; they truly were for the safety of others. Especially Adrienne, but they were used to punish Christian, too. He’d been left handcuffed for hours, overnight. Mostly, the staff weren’t prepared with how to deal with a quiet patient that suddenly seemed to snap and hurt another… He wasn’t kind to the cuffs. When he’d been going through withdrawals, he’d yank and pull at them, and after she’d left on her previous visit, he had done everything he could to get out of them shy of breaking his own wrists to pull his hands through. “So…” Christian looked up at the ceiling, as good as any place to look, eyes clouded over, “How are you, Rennie? How’s school? I miss school…”
The little girl that was Rennie to her big brother curled further into a ball as she realized how gone he was. The desire to punch Aaron wasn’t surprising, the fact that CHRIS had done it (even if it had been to a surrogate.) was impressive. She slowly uncuffed him, somehow she would rather have the rage then this...blank regressed person. “School is good Chrisy.” she said softly more emotion in her voice then she had had in years. “I’m graduating in the spring.” of grad school. She pulled her glove back on not wanting to see more, she had control of her mutation but the habit was there, and as she brushed a finger tip over the bruises on his wrists, another deeper hate stirred, he wasn’t getting better. “never going to touch you?” she asked quietly, trying to take his hands.
He didn’t fight her when she took his hands. He didn’t react to the cuffs being released except to shift his hands to a more comfortable position, but when she took them, he smiled a little bit, looking over to her, “Good, Rennie. That’s good. Right? Graduating is huge.” He knew something seemed off, but he couldn’t put his finger on it right now. Maybe later. Instead, he looked at his wrists, then frowned at the bruises, “I can’t help it. Don’t be mad at me, Rennie. I don’t like it when they do that. I promised not to hit him again, I promised. But they said that they needed to make sure I’m safe.” He sighed, “I’m safe. I… I just couldn’t…” He looked up, “Never again.” There was the missing anger. Not quite boiled up to rage, but it was there, under the surface, under the induced calm from the medications they’d placed him on for her visit.
“That bastard won’t ever touch me or Ems again, Rennie. He won’t touch you, either, if he ever did. I made sure.” He made a face, “I didn’t want to stop. They wouldn’t let me finish.”
She cocked her head, true confusion on her face, what was he remembering? Had Aaron beat Emma and Chris? Why did THAT deserve his after the fact retaliation. “Aaron…” she shook her head, yes he had tried some things with her, but Winston had been oddly...possessive of her. “Aaron is in a coma.” she reassured her brother. Adri stood tugging him up to lean on her. “Lets get you to bed.” She walked them over to his bed sitting down with him. “Aaron can’t hurt anyone anymore.” She sighed, of course it had been EMMA’s abuse that had finally triggered some sort of protection from him. “Chris...I need you to get better.” she was 21 now, already taking control of the company from their father. She put a pillow in her lap, wondering if he would take the offer to lay down in it. Why now? Why could she pretend they were still kids now? Why did she just want to forget the unforgettable, talk to her lost brother like they never had?
Christian went quiet at Adrienne’s repetition of their uncle’s name. The look he had on his face wasn’t one of shame or tearful sadness, this was rage, it was rage and it was raw hurt. “I know. They wouldn’t let me finish, Rennie.” When she tugged at him, he complied, used to being told when to get up, when to lay down… He sighed when she sat down, then looked at Adrienne, “I’m better. But the medicine… It makes me… It makes me all fuzzy, Rennie.” It was easy to forget the last time she had visited; the drugs and the dredged up memories of their uncle fresh in his mind, pretending that they were still as close as they’d used to be was easy, and when she motioned for him to lay down, he curled up with her, sighing, “I love you. I always have. Hate Christmas, though.”
Adri shook her head, swallowing past the sudden lump in her throat, No you don’t, made that clear enough, you can say it all you want Chrisy but actions were always more telling. She had always been the strong one of the two of them, her gloved hands combed through his hair. “Christmas blows.” she agreed, a bite of amusement at the childish description. “If you had one christmas wish what would it be Chrisy?” she asked, as children they had played this game, one wish to make their lives better. She bent to kiss his head, “I love you too, never stopped.” her lips rubbing away the wetness that somehow had fallen to his forehead.
Christian wasn’t lying here; as much as he might wish he didn’t, he did love Adrienne. His actions, from his point of view weren’t unkind or unloving. He smiled a little bit, and then considered her question. If he could have one wish, what would it be? The question was one he considered for a while, growing quiet before he murmured, “I wish dad and Aaron would have died when we were ten, and none of this had ever happened.” He looked up at his sister, wondering if she was telling the truth about loving him. He didn’t know, but it was easier to accept it than to consider the fact that she was probably lying.
And this is why they stopped playing, because the wishes had gone from ‘I wish Father didn’t hurt us,’ To ‘I wish he was dead’ She was telling the truth, Adri loved all her siblings, of them Emma came the closest to hate, and that was mostly evy at the perfect girl, of all the things handed to her, that she never knew how easy it was. Chris thought she betrayed him, in her mind he had betrayed her first. “Sleep Chrisy, tomorrow will be better.” she whispered. “And I wish you’d get better. Please.”
Adri wondered randomly if Chris even got to eat what she brought. Cookies this time. She had requested he not be handcuffed or drugged, perhaps stupidly but she wanted to know how he would really act with her in reach.
Things were different this time. He hadn’t tried to deny her visit this time; by now, he realized that if Adrienne had decided to see him, there was no point in arguing. But they hadn’t cuffed him, or given him drugs to keep him calm and pliable, either. He sat in one chair, the table moved against the wall where it normally was, and the second chair sat not far from where Chris sat, waiting for his guest. His hands were folded neatly in his lap, eyes clear and focused… When the door opened, Christian looked up, “Adrienne.”
That was...different, he acknowledged her first for once. “Chris.” there might have been a flutter of hope, of stupid hard to die hope after their connection the last time, granted he had been drugged but...but… “how are you feeling?” her voice was as warm as it ever got as she set the now familiar blue box between them.
Christian didn’t remember everything that had happened during their previous encounters, his memory was foggy during each time for a reason. He smiled; it wasn’t the open, warm smiles he’d given her last time, when he’d been drugged ad thinking as he had a decade earlier, but it was genuine. “How are you? Happy Easter, Adrienne.” He was genial, actually relieved to see her. Going months on end with no visitors at all was hard, it wore on him, and he actually found it fairly depressing… “They take away the treats you give me, you know… They are afraid you might be smuggling in something I’m not supposed to have. Apparently, sugar is evil even if you’re a recovering drug addict.”
The news about the food was oddly destressing. “I am sorry.” she actually sounded it too. “What would you like instead?” her eyes assessed him, taking in his expression, the condition of his body. She wondered now if he would assume she had been bringing the treats as a taunt. After all it would be very Frost to place a forbidden item with in reach only to snatch it away. His smile confused her as she tried to place it, it had been a long long time since she had seen anything close to a real smile on his face. It pulled an answering one from her. Maybe it wasn’t ten years ago, but maybe they could also take a break from the hate. “You look better.” she didn’t answer his question as to how she was, after this visit she had an appointment with a discreet doctor to take care of another little problem.
Christian shrugged, “It’s okay, Adrienne. You tried.” She might have brought the food knowing he wouldn’t be allowed to have it, rubbing her freedom in his face, but the truth was, he no longer craved sugar the way he had. Christian had a new and profound appreciation for food, but sweet things were very very...sweet. So while he would have enjoyed the cannoli, he didn’t miss it. “I am better.” He frowned slightly, “I haven’t ever hurt you, have I? When you’ve come before? They said I hurt people… That they had to bind me… I remember...mostly just bits and pieces… Please tell me I haven’t hurt you.” Christian didn’t remember hurting his sister, but he needed to know. And he didn’t know. But Adrienne knew, and somehow, after everything, Christian was willing to trust whatever answer she gave him. “I… I don’t know who I was those last visits. But I… I don’t want to have hurt you.”
Trying was not good enough, not for a Frost, she should have known, asked, been told damn it! “Really Chrisy, what can I bring next time? A steak?” she asked resting her hands on the table as she leaned forward, she had not been prepared for his question. Her facade was cracking around him, so when he asked ‘Did I hurt you...’ a flash on pain did escape to cross her face. He didn’t remember, she could almost laugh, she had not expected him to remember much of the last visit, but that he had forgotten their first… she snorted. “No Chris as always you only managed to hurt yourself.” It was cruel, reflecting the pain he had caused. her. “Really Chris?” she shook her head, no he had meant every damning word, that he had believed their father, that he NEVER asked her side. No he knew damn well what he did. Adrienne’s expression closed down as she leaned back crossing her legs. “I am glad you are better perhaps you can leave soon.” it was spoken flatly.
What could she bring him? Christian blinked. He didn’t have a good answer for that. Food was just… They weren’t likely to let him eat anything she brought him. “Adrienne, something… Not food. I don’t know.” He shrugged, then gave her a small, almost timid smile, “It’s thoughtful of you, to want to bring me something. It… It makes me think that maybe not everyone has just forgotten about me.” No one else came to see him. He knew better than to think their father would come, but no visit from their mother, or especially Emma… They had locked him up and forgotten about him. Except for Adrienne, and maybe she seemed upset with him still, maybe she was the reason he was in here, but still, she came to see him.
He saw the pain flash across her face, and he wondered if he had hurt her. Or perhaps the question had hurt...that he didn’t remember. He reached up to rub his face, “I don’t remember a whole lot - there are so many gaps…” He reached out to rest his hands on hers on the table, unsure that she’d accept the gesture, “I’m sorry, Adrienne. I’m sorry I don’t remember all of it. I remember us yelling, and I remember you telling me to sleep.” He sighed, and then looked back up as she leaned back and away, speaking distantly, and at her words, he chuckled quietly, no humor in the sound at all, “That’s a pipe dream, and we both know it. I’m never getting out of here, Rennie. This,” he motioned to the room they were in, “is my entire life. And sometimes, when I’ve been quiet and done what they tell me to, they let me come out to the group area and watch television.” He smiled with pride now, “I saw that you’ve been busy.”
“Something like what..” she asked almost innocently, Adrienne was not a gift giver or rather she had a PA for that. For a moment she accepted the gestures as he held her hands before leaning back. ‘Rennie’ it was a mockery now, when he had been in the other state she could accept the diminutive, believe that he still thought of her as that innocent child. But now, Fuck him, he didn’t remember? So it meant he still believed she would seduce their father for power. Her lips twisted into a cold smirk. Pride? For what she had done? Even though she had apparently commented intentional incest to gain it. “Well yes, as you know it takes a lot to keep father..happy.” She said suggestively. “You were always going to get out Chris, you're a Frost.” Unlike her right? Perhaps thats why he could feel ‘pride’ it was pity for the poor bastard that could only use her body to get what she wanted.
Adrienne was hormonal, depressed, and about to undergo another late term abortion, her emotions were nearer to the surface then any of her other visits. She stood, her belly twinging, she didn’t show much and had dressed loosely intentionally to hide, but the half gesture to soothe herself pulled the fabric of her shirt tight, outlining the damning condition.
Like what… Christian didn’t know. Well, there were plenty of things he’d like, but… Suddenly, he winced, and then looked at his sister a long moment, “Do you have any pictures of us? From when we were kids… Before… Before all of this started.” Before Aaron had started in on him… “Maybe from when we were pre-teens? That… That would mean...everything.” They wouldn’t take a picture away. Maybe they wouldn’t let him keep it in a frame, but they wouldn’t take the picture from him. Many of the other patients here had pictures… Christian didn’t mean to use the nickname as a mockery; he meant it to be warm. He shook his head, “No, Adrienne. That was never going to be in the cards. He shut me away, disowned me… I might have the last name, but that’s all I have. Maybe all I ever had.”
When she stood, she showed her secret and Christian blinked. Adrienne was pregnant. When? Who? He stood, moving toward her, not touching her, he didn’t want to upset her or make her want to leave, but he… He wanted to hug her. “Adrienne… You’re…” He grinned, “You found someone. Who? No, probably not anyone I know… Are you… How are you?!” He was happy for her. She’d found someone, and she was pregnant, and… And the rest didn’t matter. He didn’t know if she had gotten married, or was even planning to, but that was besides the point, “You’re happy. Oh, Adrienne…” He couldn’t be happy, not locked away like he was, but that she might be…
Pictures of them a children? Beyond the traditional twice yearly family portrait they were rare, the Frosts were not ones for candid snaps, at least not of more then one or two of them at a time, and she wasn’t sure there were any of him and Cordy. “You and Emma..” she said thoughtfully. Maybe…
She snorted, “He would take you back in a heart beat if you asked for forgiveness.” hurt clear, because their father would rather...nevermind.
Her eyes widened as he came around the table, his expression joyous, how could he? Oh...he thinks.. Was it so wrong that for a instant she was weak, wanting to pretend that it was not her fathers bastard in her belly? That she had known ANYTHING like kindness or love?
Adrienne stepped into his space stealing the comfort she knew was about to be snatched away. It was on the tip of her tongue to cruelly denounce the father of her soon to be dead child, and instead she found herself trying to hide in her brothers arms. He hadn’t even pretended to defend her in a decade, but he kept wanting to believe...Damn you Christian. You think I seduced our father but you still want me to be happy, you fucking hypocrite. Adrienne blamed the hormones as she shuddered in his arms stifling sobs.
“No, not me and Emma.” He had memories galore of Emma. But his moments with Adrienne… They’d been so young when everything had fallen apart. He’d been eleven, and she’d been almost ten. “Us. You and me. From when we were little. Any pictures. Not with Winston in them. And not with Aaron. But any others… Just one, Adrienne. I’d like that.” Just like that, at the mention of Winston taking him back, Christian’s face twisted, not for long, but for a moment, and he said tersely, “I don’t want his forgiveness. I’d rather die in here.” At least in here, he was safe from Aaron, and he didn’t have to go out and ‘bond’ with Winston.
Adrienne stepped into his hug, and he wrapped her in a warm, gentle hug, pulling her close, “Oh thank god. I was… I worry about all of you. But you the most. I…” He couldn’t express the guilt he felt. It was impossible. “I’m so sorry. I should have been there more, I shouldn’t have started this… If I hadn’t run away, escaped, I might have been there for you more.” But he had, he had escaped into first alcohol, and then drugs when the one piece of happiness he’d been able to find had been yanked from under his feet. The accusations of the past weren’t on his mind; instead, only his hopes for the future. He held Adrienne as she cried, worried. Pregnant women cried sometimes, people could cry from being happy, but this didn’t really feel like that, “Adrienne, I haven’t been there for you, but I’m here now. I’m here for you now. Are you alright? You can tell me. Please.”
Her and him? He wanted one of them? God damn you Chris. “why me the most?” she needed to hear him say it again, hear him believe Winston with out ever asking her. She agreed if Chris had been stronger, if both of them had fought instead of just her alone….it would have been different. She looked up at him, eyes steely. “Why me the most.” Say, it say it!
Why her the most? Because…. Christian sighed, guilt reflecting in his eyes, “Because I let you down the most, Adrienne. Because I should have been there for you, and I wasn’t. Because I was the only thing between you and our father, and you and Aaron, and I wasn’t strong enough to protect you and keep you safe from them. Because I should have been. Because everything that’s happened to us, to our family, to you girls, it’s all my fault.”
Her stomach dropped out, What? “Chris…” She whispered bone white. “Tell me exactly what you mean.” Because if he did remember, if he did believe her, if, if. Her hand curled into his shirt, for a moment in time he was her big brother, the one that could keep the monsters under the bed away. Though to tell the truth she, they had shared that duty with each other. Too close to twins as children the breaking of their bond had hurt her, scared her deeply. She licked her lips, not trying to be cagey but needing to hear him say it. Either damn her again or prove that he had thought her innocent once.
To his credit, Christian didn’t quite cry, but the pattern of his breathing changed, and he was struggling now. Still, the tears didn’t come. When he’d been put in this particular level of hell, he’d been soft, timid and passive. Now, he stood straight, holding his sister against the world, against their family. “Rennie… Adrienne.” He shifted so he could look at her, shaking his head, “I should have been there to protect you. I was so stupid. So so stupid. And gullible.” He sighed, “I failed you more than I can ever say, and that… I’m so sorry, Adrienne. I’m so sorry. I can’t… I don’t know how to make it right.”
He...he believed her…”Why now Chris?” She wasn’t sure how to feel, too many emotions, the twinge in her belly shifted to a sharp pain, not worse then she had had before, but new to her. She was shaking hard. “I...When did you learn to hate me so much that you’d believe him over me? That you’d never ask me? Even think that I could be innocent?” she was breaking down in a strange reversal of their roles, always before it had been him crying and weak, her having to stay strong and cold. Adrienne’s color still had not come back, she gasped as pain rippled though her belly, Adrienne pulled a hand from between her legs blinking at the blood, before she fainted.
“Because,” Christian said softly, “I’m finally able to think straight. Without him here, without Aaron, without… everything.” Chris had never so much as attempted to get out of the institution. He had calmly, once he’d been able to get off the drugs, and sort through everything in his mind… Once he’d really thought about it, not just what he’d seen, but Winston’s reaction, what had been said, and what had been implied. You’re so stupid, Chris. “I don’t hate you. I just… Adrienne, I’m so sorry… I can’t… I can’t even understand how I could have acted the way I did. It’s taken a long time for me...to find myself again.”
When Adrienne gasped, when he saw the blood, Christian didn’t panic. There was something in him that was calm, but not cold, instead, he bellowed, toward the door, “HELP! HELP! Something’s wrong!” The orderlies were just outside. Christian’s calls had them running in as he held his sister, tears shining in his eyes, “Oh god, Adrienne… Please… I’m so sorry… Please be alright.”