6.5 Siblings, Moving

by Matt P.

There was a not insignificant amount of unpacking and moving to do, and as a consequence Walter didn’t have to—or, if he was feeling more generous, had the chance to—speak to his sister for almost an hour and a half. He helped Samuel, Margaret’s husband, move in their piano and position it in their living room when he found Margaret falling in step beside him. He sighed inwardly, but nodded.

“So why exactly are you moving to Border, Margaret?” He asked, to preempt her questioning of him. She was always Margaret by choice—she hadn’t been one for nicknames, which wasn’t helped by the fact that Walter was an inveterate nicknamer. Siobhan had come by that habit honestly, at least.

Margaret snorted. “The only reason that people move to Kansas, Walt; I got a job good enough to make me move. Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Kansas, supervising the Border office. Apparently there is a lot of need for Federal prosecution in this part of Kansas, enough to make me come to the dark side of representing the State.” She quirked her shoulders. “Two years in, and I can probably swing at least a transfer to the District of Colorado, and probably not long after at least a state if not Federal judgeship.” She looked at him directly, with the same penetrating gaze that he knew she used to such good effect in court. Of course, he was immune to it not by dint of training, but by dint of being her brother. “Isn’t it a little…soon, or disrespectful to date the ginger doctor?”

Walter sighed. “I’m not sure how it would be, Peggy.” She was Margaret by choice, but that didn’t mean he was going to necessarily honor that choice, especially when she was needling him anyway. She scowled. “She left me, 18 months ago. A year and a half and I haven’t heard a word from her.” He didn’t tell her about the note, had never told her about the note, because it was intensely private and none of her damn business. “At some point, all of our lives get to stop being in stasis waiting for something to change.”

Margaret didn’t look particularly thrilled by that answer. “Walter, I don’t want to judge your choices—” she began, almost pro forma, before Walter interrupted.

“But you’re going to power through, I see,” he commented idly.

“But you need to think about the example you’re thinking for your children, and the community,” Margaret continued sourly. She didn’t comment on his comment—perhaps it would have been too meta, or she was too used to his sarcastic back-chatter. “And what it does to them to watch their Father dating in these circumstances.”

Walter walked with her out to the truck, passing one of the mentioned children and giving her a little hip bump as she walked by with Morgan. “Hey!” Siobhan said with a giggle. “Careful, we might drop one of the seven million textbooks,” she offered, shrugging the box that she carried. “What a terrible thing that would be.” They wandered on, and Walter waggled at his eyebrows at the furtive and curious look Morgan gave her.

“Clearly scarred for life,” Walter confided sotto voce. “I don’t know how she manages to keep soldiering on.” He sighed dramatically, shaking his head from side to side sadly.

“You could be slightly less smug about your daughter not seemingly overly scarred,” Margaret commented with a sigh as she reached for a box of books herself. “I didn’t think they’d be breaking down and crying in the streets, gnashing her teeth and ripping out her hair. But everything we do has an emotional cost, Walter, and you need to be careful.”

Walter sighed. “I am careful, Margaret. As careful as I can be, with them.” His thoughts turned briefly to the fact that perhaps the most dangerous normal human he had ever met was in town and had met his daughter, they lived in a town with a creepy government research station decades past that got people killed, and Vampires on the loose. As careful as I can be, he repeated to himself with a mental sigh.

“Are you?” Margaret asked. “Have you taken them to see a therapist, have you gone to someone yourself?” She asked. Margaret was that way, would outright ask about things like therapy—it was refreshing sometimes, and frustrating often. Walter had accused her of being a robot in the past, and when he had been a kid had wondered if he could expose her wiring.

“I took them to one right after Rhiannon left, but they wouldn’t go to a second session. Antigone and Siobhan went to one right after the High School, but wouldn’t go to a second session.” Walter sighed at that, shaking his head. “Trust me when I tell you that a forced therapist visit pretty much never results in actual therapy happening. I’ve made it clear that I’d be thrilled to take them, and I will if they ask.”

Margaret sighed again, but she didn’t seem to have anything else to say in light of that. They were quiet for several minutes as they moved their boxes and placed them in the room that would end up the library. “Walter, I know we don’t really spend time together,” she offered, which was true, “But I am here, and we are family. So if you need something, I’m here.”

It was stiffly offered, and Walter wasn’t sure how much ‘something’ covered—although maybe he could hit her up for college fund donations, since she had made way more money in her life than he had. “Thank you, Margaret,” he offered sincerely, because it was a generous statement and deserved a genuine response. They did not hug, but their quiet as they carried books was at least somewhat more companionable, and that was a start.

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