Story25 Jan 2009 04:57 am

“Tut-tut,” Rook muttered with a feigned disapproval, “You’re not really going outside like that are you?”  It had been less than an hour since breakfast, and Rowen was practically chomping at the bit.

She rolled her eyes good naturedly at Rook’s incredibly cliché onomatopoeia.  “Like you’re one to talk,” she answered tartly, “Do you even own a mac?”  She smiled wryly as she slid on her own rainy-day gear.  “We’re not going far, anyway,” she added belatedly.  She glanced past Charlie, who was eying his own raincoat with some distaste, to the window near the front door.

The weather was clearing, but it still looked perfectly damp, cold, and somewhat dreadful outside.  Rowen smiled in anticipation, but tempered her odd sense of adventure tactfully when Charlie looked her way.  He smiled, one side of his mouth curling up in a sly sort of crooked smile as he bent over to fasten up his wellies.

Rook caught the exchange and chuckled.  “Don’t worry, Charlie m’boy,” he said in a somewhat patronizing tone, “If you make it through today, you get an extra biscuit after supper.”

“Great, hard tack, perfect,” Charlie muttered, throwing a significant look at Rowen, who bit her lip to keep from chuckling.

“He means a cookie, love,” Rowen said -as if that made a difference- exaggerating her British accent.  She turned to her brother.  “Roo,” Rowen said in chiding tone, “Be nice.”

Rook broke into a wide grin.  “But where’s the fun in that?”

Charlie stood upright, boots secure.  “Where indeed?” He offered dryly.

Rook eyed him in a speculative sort of way, a bemused expression on his face.  A moment of silence followed, somewhat awkward, as Rowen and Charlie finished readying themselves for their small adventure.

Rowen clasped the last fastener of her coat and turned to her brother.  “Are you sure you can’t come?”

Rook shook his head.  “Can’t – had a spark of activity show up last night, and that doesn’t happen very often.”

Charlie’s head bobbed up.  “Last night?”  He eyed Rook suspiciously.  “How…serendipitous…”

Rook turned to his sister’s roommate with a malevolent smile.  “Yeah…right along with your arrival, Yankee.”  His smile widened into a leering grin.  “You scared?”

Charlie rolled his eyes.

Rowen chuckled.  “Fine then, ghost chaser,” she said, taking Charlie’s arm, “Go enjoy your gizmos.”  She opened the door and stepped out, ushering Charlie along with her.  She turned to grin at her brother.  “But I expect there to be some serious enlightenment happening here while we’re gone.”

Rook grabbed the back of his sister’s coat just long enough to give her an affectionate kiss on the top of her head.  “Cheeky.”


Rowen sighed with open delight as she and Charlie stepped out into the crisp, and wet, Scottish air.  “It’s lovely, isn’t it?”

Charlie smiled at Ro’s unabashed enthusiasm for the otherwise-dreary landscape.  “I suppose it could be,” he answered, sounding rather philosophical, “Though I could do with a little less wet and a little more sun.” He grinned at her to show he was being facetious.

“Well, chalk this up to educational experience,” Rowen said, grinning back at him, “You know, build character and gain wisdom and all that rubbish.”

“Sure, sure,” Charlie said, thrusting his hands in the pockets of his coat.  “So, then, what’s the purpose of this little adventure?”

“I thought we might walk down the road,” Rowen answered, her tone a little too light, “You know, see what we see sort of thing?”

Charlie nodded and they began walking, their boots squelching through the mud, creating an odd sort of rhythm.  “So…” he finally said, after they had gone down the lane silently for a few minutes, “Your brother seems….interesting.”

Rowen giggled.  “Yeah, that’s one way to describe him.”

Charlie smiled, enjoying her laugh.  “No, I mean it,” he said, “It’s quite interesting watching you two…verbally spar…”

She looked at him sideways, “That’s right – I forget you’re an only child.”

“A blessing and a curse.”

Rowen thought for a moment about how different her life would be without her brother.  Easier, perhaps, but lacking some sort of core vibrancy that their relationship kindled.  They were too integral to the other – rather like Moses and Aaron in the Exodus. 

“Well,” she finally said, thoughtfully, “at least you didn’t have to worry about losing your dollies to your brother’s wild experiments in voo-doo…”

Charlie stopped pace for a second.  “He did what?”

Rowen laughed, pleased at her roommate’s reaction.  “He did.  I was eleven, he was twelve.  Our parents couldn’t decide whether to take away his books or give him more…”

Charlie shook his head in delighted disbelief as he quickened his pace to keep up with Rowen, who had continued moving and was a few strides ahead of him.  “That’s incredible,” he said, meaning it sincerely, “The only thing my parents seemed to fight over was money.”

“Is that where your stingy-ness over the costs of our utilities comes from?” Rowen said with a tilt of her head and a cat-like smile.

Charlie laughed, a somewhat sheepish expression on his face.  “Could be.”

“Good thing you managed to find me and my one-of-a-kind rent controlled flat, yeah?”

Charlie grinned appreciativly.  “You have no idea.”

They walked along in companionable silence, Rowen paying far too much attention to the road itself, and Charlie, in turn, paying attention to Rowen’s odd focus.

“Is this….?” Rowen frowned slightly, looking about her, “Is this the same road we drove down last night?”

“What?” Charlie echoed her frown.  “I would assume so?”  He looked at her oddly.  “Why wouldn’t it be?”

Rowen looked away, absently trailing her hand through the damp drizzle.  “Never mind…”

Charlie shrugged, offering his crooked smile once more, “As you wish, madam.”

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