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TITLE: Just A Matter of Time or Five Things That Never Happened in the Wood Household
ORIGINAL STORY: "When" by Shanalle
NOTES: Thanks to Esorlehcar for the beta love
Warnings: Incest, both explicit and implied.
Disclaimer: Never happened. Hence the title.
1. Hero Worship
The girls gather on the playground, forgetting their gossip circles and dodgeball tournaments as Hannah skips towards the swingset with her Ninja Turtles lunchbox held dearly in her grasp. They follow her like ants, and surround her like wolves. When she plops down on an empty swing, she toes the dirt with a once white canvas sneaker and smiles shyly at their eager faces. Hannah doesn't hate the attention.
"How'd your brother's audition go?" Jeanie sits next to her, and the other girls keep their distance. Jeanie's the mouthpiece. Their leader. She picks the teams and makes the rules, always. Only around Hannah is she ever so nice.
Hannah shrugs and fingers a scratch across Donatello's chest that Elijah made with a quarter. "We haven't heard back yet."
A few tiny sighs ripple through the group.
Jeanie clears her throat. "Well, we heard..." The girls inch closer, but stop at the silent command of Jeanie's glare. She smiles back at Hannah. "We heard that Jonathon Taylor Thomas was there!" There's a collective squeal that reminds Hannah of the time she saw whales mating on TV.
Hannah blinks back an eyeroll, almost says, "That's not how it works..." but settles for a second shrug instead. "I'm really not allowed to talk about that." Elijah once said that celebrity was like a guessing game that you never give away the answer to. She never asked him who told him that, because he seemed really proud as he recited it, pretending that they were his own words of wisdom, so she pretended right along.
Jeanie chews on her lip for a minute and eyes the lunchbox like she hasn't eaten in days. "So... got any new pictures?"
Hannah holds the dilapidated plastic a little closer, suddenly aware of the creeping proximity of the girls around her. She nods.
On cue, each girl dives into her pockets, emerging with fistfuls of lunch money. One by one, Hannah takes the sweaty bills and sticky coins, dumping out a ziplock of carrot sticks and replacing them with her earnings. She hands the stack of glossy autographed photos to Jeanie, who handles them like a rare treasure; fingers out, palms up, careful not to smudge across a wide blue eye or childish stroke of ink.
Hannah puts the money bag in her lunchbox before setting it down, only feeling safe enough to do so after the girls disperse. Glad to finally have room to swing, she smiles up at the sun and pumps her legs hard until she's high enough to lean back beneath the rocking blue sky. Scattered clouds swing frantically as she soars upward quickly in time for a tingling butterfly effect to ripple through her gut.
She dismounts beautifully, and is greeted by sandy dust billowing around her bare knees. When she turns to bow at the still shaking rubber seat, her satisfied smile fades with the cloud of dust, and her fingers curl tightly into a fist at the sight of four Ninja Turtles nervously peeking from behind her teacher's vicious clutches.
2. Small Rewards
Her mother's spankings are never hard enough for Hannah to be frightened of them, but they're not quite light enough to hurt less than her ego afterwards. Hannah's eyes are as red as the handprints under her shorts when Elijah peeks into her bedroom.
"Finally got busted?" He's half-smirking, but when he gets close enough to sit next to her on the bed, she can see the beginnings of an almost apology in his eyes.
Hannah nods and fiddles with her big toe that wiggles through a hole in her sock. "Don't worry, I told her I stole them out of your fanclub box."
"Yeah, she told me," he says, reaching in his pocket. "She also gave me this." The ziplock rattles with its loose bounty of change as it's tossed in front of her. "Like I need it."
"Thanks," Hannah replies, hastily tucking it under her pillow, eyes on the door. She doesn't mention that it's not really about the money.
"You did good, kid." He ruffles her hair until she pulls away with a giggle and wrinkles her nose at him.
"You don't need to do it anymore though, you know. Not worth it."
"Stupid anyways," he says, grabbing her big toe and holding it captive so it can't wiggle nervously anymore. "I'll take care of you."
"Oh yeah? Well, maybe I'll take care of you." With all her might, she wiggles her toe rebelliously, until Elijah has two hands clapped around her foot and she's wrestling for its freedom. She kicks too hard and he falls off the bed, dragging her down with him. He holds her tight when she lands on him, and they both stare at the ceiling and say nothing; her spine curved over the rise and fall of his chest and his arms around her like a straight jacket.
Elijah always wins, and loves it every time, and she can feel his victorious smile pushing against her ponytail. "No, seriously," he says. "I'll always take care of you."
3. Drama Queens
"I didn't know you were coming home this weekend." Hannah is unable to hide the surprise from her voice, but she thinks the nervousness is at least partially concealed. She's straddling the windowsill, interrupted from sneaking back in by the sight of Elijah hunched over on her floor, surrounded by too many compact discs. For a moment, she contemplates climbing out the window again to scoot down the giant oak tree.
"Surprise," Elijah mumbles, turning back to her CD tower.
He doesn't say anything else, so she slips in the rest of the way, landing not quite gracefully in her too-high shoes. "Um. Can I help you with something?"
"I found a shitload of my stuff in here." He takes another disc and slips it on the pile in his lap. "You fucking klepto."
"What? You gave me those!"
Elijah shakes his head. "You're drunk."
"Yet I still remember you giving me those, asshole!" She strides towards him angrily, but loses credibility when her knees give out and she trips. It takes her a minute to get her bearing back, and she takes a deep breath as she stands up again. "I think my legs are drunker than the rest of me."
"Cute," he says, and takes another CD.
"Stop it! What the fuck are you doing?" She reaches for the pile in his lap but he pushes her away.
"The fuck are you doing?"
"Jesus Christ, Lij. Take the damn things then. Like I give a shit." She stumbles towards the bed, kicking her shoes off in his general direction. "It's 5:30 in the morning. Take whatever you want. Just stop whining." Her head meets the feather pillow with very little effort on her part, gravity doing most of the work.
Suddenly, he's in her face, eyes narrowed and he's practically spitting the words. "I know I didn't give you this one!"
"Then take it back." She sighs, and rolls over to face the wall instead of him. He's never cared about these things before, the drama queen.
"You smell like vodka and pussy," he says, disgusted.
"You have problems." The mattress sags under him and Hannah doesn't know why he's making himself comfortable if he just wants to argue.
She hopes he leaves before he can win this, but he always wins, it's just a matter of when. "Well, please don't taint your angelic self with my issues. Escape while you can." When he doesn't reply, she rolls back over to confirm the sulking grimace she assumed was there.
Hannah hates giving up so easily. "Sorry," she says, though it's only partly true. The aftertaste of her swallowed pride is bitter and she wishes she had more of those Jello shots to wash it down.
"I don't care about the CDs." He looks at her with that million dollar tortured gaze, the one she always wants to slap off his face, and even though she knows he's only pretending to try and hide it, it hurts her just as much as he intends it to.
"I know." She stares up at the ceiling but can't shake the sad blue hue floating on the edges of her peripheral vision. "It was only a fingerfuck, Lij. Honest."
After a moment of silence, one that's surprisingly more comfortable than not, Elijah curls up into her, murmuring into her neck that she's still his Hannah; yet he says it with a sloppy grin against her jugular, and the way he paws her breasts as he falls asleep is almost a poor parody of their younger years. But it just makes her feel guiltier, smelling like sex with someone else.
His breathing soon relaxes into the rhythm of sleep, and his hand becomes still, cupping her right breast while he dreams. She's not far behind, slipping drunkenly from consciousness, almost able to pretend it's just like old times.
Fans and reporters line the red carpet, creating crowds as thick as walls, and closing in by the minute. Hannah feels slightly claustrophobic, what with the chanting and screaming and hollered interrogations, but she just smiles pretty like Elijah told her, just like he does. Her heart flutters fast at a scream of her brother's name, and she knows she's not in any real danger, but Elijah's squeezing her hand so tight and there are just so many damn people going nuts. It's not her first event, but it's possibly the biggest she's ever been to.
Elijah is instructed to speak to a certain reporter, and Hannah stands back when he steps up to the microphone. She knows the answers before he says them, has memorized nearly all of them. The little anecdotes, well wishes, even the breaks of boyish giggles that habitually nest themselves between certain words. Hannah's smile is real as she tunes in to his voice only, forgetting the masses for a moment.
Then she's being pulled up beside him, and she's not completely surprised, though a little shaky, despite rehearsing and being briefed repeatedly for such a thing. She smiles bigger, faker, and the setting sun feels suddenly redder, warmer on her cheeks. Nice dress, who's it by, and fuck fuck fuck she knows the answer to this, fuck fuck fuck she picked the damn thing out herself, with Elijah's help.
It's the panic that answers for her, Elijah's tightening grip on her slick palm only pushing it out more and with a nervous giggle, she shrugs and says, "I hate designer dresses."
Elijah laughs too, but she knows his real laugh, and that's not it. "It's Betsey Johnson," he answers for her, and she's sure her fingers will pop if he squeezes any more. The anxious buzzing in her head drowns out all else as they're ushered away, on to the next microphone, shut up, keep smiling. This time Elijah doesn't pull her towards him when he says her name. Shut up, keep smiling, and now she knows she's reading his thoughts.
It's the same, stop and go, stop and go, for the next hour until they're in the building. Sometimes Hannah catches a familiar face, and is embraced and spun as they bustle past. She waves at Kelly who doesn't see her, and mentally thanks her for the Valium hook up.
Elijah finally speaks to her when they're in their seats, but his eyes are on the monitor, making sure his own close-up isn't yet available. "Are you okay?"
"Sorry I fucked up," she mumbles, resigning herself to fixing her cleavage, but the straps are all twisted.
"Doesn't matter," he says, and the squeeze on her hand is much more affectionate now, much less aggressive, and she relaxes that much more.
When he's up on the stage later that evening, her heart swells up like it's full of helium, burning and ready to explode, although she recalls never being so sentimental during these bullshit ceremonies before. Maybe it's the downers or the way he smiles, sweaty and bright-eyed and genuinely overjoyed, but she hasn't been so proud since she was five and it was his first talent show.
Later in Elijah's car, parked between after-hours parties, Elijah has one hand between her thighs and the other palming a breast, and she twists under him to better the angle when her dress breaks. It startles him and he's left helplessly holding a limp strap. "Oh shit."
Hannah just laughs and rips it the rest of the way, exposing thigh and more of her breasts. "Fuck it," she says, pulling him back onto her. "I hate designer dresses anyways."
"Hey, pretty lady. Got a light?"
Elijah isn't allowed to make facial expressions right now, but Hannah imagines he'd roll his eyes if they weren't getting swiped with brown pencil at the moment. His unimpressed gaze falls on her as the make-up lady moves on to his obediently pouted lips. "Ignore the silly girl," he attempts to say from his frozen jaw, but it's so heavily garbled that Hannah's probably the only one who understands it.
Hannah crosses her legs and smirks, the unlit cigarette dangling from her own unpainted mouth. "I got us reservations at Garbaggio's tonight." She watches the make-up lady's ass as it sways away and to her next assignment, three mirrors down.
Grabbing a lighter from his pocket, Elijah leans over and fires it at the cigarette's tip, balancing his weight on her knee. She inhales deeply to ignite the tobacco and his hand lingers for a dangerous half-second. The first puff is barely down her throat before he takes the clove from her.
"It's mom's birthday next week," she says, letting him steal an extra drag before he offers it back. She blows a smoke ring that transforms into a wispy oval as it ghosts towards his heavily enhanced features. "We should make her something."
"Like a dinner?" Elijah reaches for the cigarette but she reclines out of his grasp.
"Or something," she says, tossing the stub of filter into a nearby water cup. "Brainstorm and get back to me."
"Will do." He kisses her cheek before trudging off towards the set, leaving a sticky wet feeling where his lips had pressed. "See you tonight, Bobanna."
She nods, and watches him disappear around the corner, then takes to watching the extras mill about in anticipation as extras are wont to do, and finally settles on her own reflection in the mirror. It's as she's admiring the lipstick print left on her cheek that she notes, with much satisfaction, that nothing is ever really going to change. Not soon enough to matter, at least. Maybe not soon enough to be considered anything but evolution.
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