He leaned over the sink, gripping the edges.  That pressure in his chest was getting worse.

I should hope that pressure isn’t your organs pressing themselves out. We’ve had enough of that already.

Her tone changed.  “Hey, seriously, are you okay?  You’ve been breathing really hard for a bit now, and now you’ve gone really quiet for, like, a minute.  I didn’t use my power, either, so I know it’s not you ignoring me because of that.”

At first it was half “seriously, bro, what the fuck?”, but now that part’s fading into genuine concern.

He bit back the harsh retort, telling her to shut up, to stop being annoying and go away, that he wanted to be alone.  If he did, she would; she’d run away from home six times in four years, had gone from their mother’s house to their father’s, back to their mother’s and then to foster care.

We wouldn’t want her running away from here too.

Every time, there was a reason, some argument or incident that had pushed her.  Any excuse would do, even a criticism at the wrong moment.  The child services workers would put her somewhere else, praying for some stability that she would never have.

I appreciate that Brian has the presence of mind to consider these things before retorting, though “she’ll go away” isn’t the only reason he shouldn’t be that harsh towards her. Even if the tendency to be rude in response to concern might run in the family.

She was flighty, like a wild animal that would bolt at a loud noise.  That might forever be the case.

Perhaps she is. Perhaps you’re underestimating how shitty life with her mother was.

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