Disclaimers: Blah, blah, blah, you know the deal.
Summary: Only Boone got to see Shannon in her moments of vulnerability. And even then they were few and far between.
He remembered his mother calling to him.
“Boone, come here!”
The house was bigger than his. He was surprised. He thought he lived in the biggest house in the world, but this house was at least twice the size of his. He felt a stab of jealousy at whoever owned the larger-than-life house.
He walked over to his mother who was standing with a very tall man and a little blond girl. “Boone,” his mother said, “this is Shannon.” She motioned to the little blond girl, who looked up at Boone with big, untrusting eyes.
“Sweetheart, why don’t you go play with Shannon so that Richard and I can talk, okay?” his mother asked him sweetly, talking to him like he was a baby.
Boone nodded, knowing that fighting would do no good.
“Shannon, why don’t you show Boone your room?” the tall man said to the little blond girl.
The girl continued to look up at Boone with the same untrusting expression on her face, but she held out her hand and Boone took it. “Come on,” she said impatiently.
Boone let the little girl drag him into the house as he looked back at his mother and the tall man, who had already forgotten the children and were headed toward the back yard.
The girl lead Boone up the steps and into a very large room, which was painted pink and had a very large bed.
“This is my room,” the little girl exclaimed, climbing onto the bed and jumping up and down on it.
“You shouldn’t do that, Sharon.” Boone told her.
“Shannon,” the girl said, still jumping.
“My name isn’t Sharon, it’s Shannon.”
“Right, sorry. Anyway, you should stop jumping on the bed.”
“Why?” Shannon said.
“Because you could hurt yourself.”
“I don’t care.” Shannon retorted, as if she had had the argument before.
Boone just shrugged. It’s not like he’d be seeing much more of Shannon. His mother’s relationships didn’t last long.
Almost as if reading his mind, Shannon said, “Your mommy’s gonna marry my daddy.”
“Huh?” Boone questioned, caught off guard by the statement and confused.
“I heard my daddy talking on the phone to my grandma and he said he was getting married.” Shannon was still jumping on the bed.
“Well, how do you know he’s marrying my mom?”
“Because he told me I was getting a new brother named Boone.”
Boone digested this information. How could his mother not tell him what was happening? He felt betrayed, and annoyed that this little brat knew things before him.
He was pulled out of his thoughts by the sound of a loud thud. He looked up to see Shannon laying in a heap on the floor. Eyes wide, she looked up at him and started to cry.
Boone went into survivor mode. He rushed to Shannon’s side, checking to make sure there was no blood. “Are you okay?” he asked, gathering the girl’s light body into his arms.
She didn’t answer him, she just continued to cry. “Hold on,” Boone said. “I’m gonna get your dad.”
“No!” She yelled as he began to get up off the floor.
“He’ll be mad. He’ll yell at me.”
“Why would he do that?”
“Because he told me I wasn’t supposed to jump on the bed.”
Boone sighed. He knew he really should go and get her father, but Shannon looked up at him with pleading eyes filled with tears, and he found it hard to go against his wishes.
“Okay, well, does anything feel broken?”
Shannon shook her head, but she continued to cry.
“Then why are you still crying?”
“It just hurt, is all.”
Boone knelt on the ground beside Shannon, and she threw her arms around his neck, crying onto his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her and smoothed her hair.
Shannon tilted her head and kissed Boone on the cheek. “Thanks, Booney.”
Shannon came home crying one day, and Boone wanted nothing to do with it.
Only she was crying so loud it could be categorized as wailing, and it was very distracting. He knew that if he just let it go for an hour more until her father came home she would stop. But that was a whole hour, and he wanted to watch television.
He wandered tentatively up the stairs, hoping that at any second her crying would stop and that it would be replaced by the sound of her incessant chatter as she talked to one of her friends on the phone. But the sound continued as Boone gently pushed Shannon’s bedroom door open.
She was curled up on her bed in a pathetic, whimpering ball. It made Boone’s stomach hurt to see her in such a pitiful manner. “What happened now?” He questioned as he stared at her from the doorway.
“Derek….broke up….with me….” she gasped in between sobs.
“So? You were only dating him for two weeks.”
“But I loved him!” She wailed, clutching at her pillow.
“Shannon, you’re 12. You’re too young to be dating anyway,” Boone said, hoping his awkward form of comfort would get her sobbing to stop.
“Shut up, Boone. It’s not like you’d even know,” She spat back at him.
Boone sighed and sat on the bed next to Shannon. She latched onto him, her arms around his neck, like she had done ever since she was a child. He absently stroked her back. “Okay, why’d he break up with you?”
“He said I was fat,” Shannon whispered, almost ashamed to say the words.
“What? Shannon, you are not fat.”
“Then why would he say I am?” Shannon asked, absent mindedly playing with his shirt.
“Because he’s stupid,” Boone explained.
“Yep. And clearly blind. He doesn’t deserve you.”
Shannon looked up at Boone, her big eyes innocent and filled with tears. “Yeah?”
She smiled at him brightly. She straightened herself on the bed, and leaned over to hug Boone.
“Thanks, Booney!” She said as she hopped off the bed and skipped down the stairs.
Boone woke up in the middle of the night needing to pee very badly.
He got out of bed and walked over to his bathroom before remembering it was being re-done and that he could use it until Tuesday. So he wandered out of the bedroom and down the hall to Shannon’s bathroom. He flipped on the light and found Shannon with her head in the toilet.
“Oh, christ, come on, Shan. I gotta pee.”
Shannon jumped at his voice, startled. She quickly flushed the toilet and wiped her mouth with a washcloth. “I’m drunk,” she tried to explain, trying hard to wobble as she stood up, but failing.
“No, you’re not,” Boone said. “I can tell when you’re drunk, and you are very not drunk.”
“Fine, so I’m not drunk. Big deal. It’s not like any of your damn business anyway,” Shannon said as she walked over to the sink and rinsed out her mouth.
“You’re my sister and you’re destroying your stomach. That is my business,” Boone said as the entered the bathroom. He hoped Shannon would get the hint and leave so he could pee in peace.
“I wish you would stop calling me your sister,” Shannon said as she stormed out of the bathroom.
Finally, Boone thought.
When he finished he started back toward his bedroom, but he heard muffled sniffles coming from Shannon’s room.
“Shit,” he muttered under his breath. He took a breath and turned around, back toward Shannon’s room.
He knocked on the door and the crying immediately stopped, and a few seconds later Shannon responded, “What?”
“Can I come in?”
“No, go away, Boone,” Shannon said angrily.
“Shannon, come on let me in.”
Boone waited but didn’t here a reply. He slowly twisted the door knob and was surprised to find it unlocked. He peered into the room to see Shannon curled in a ball on her bed, a position Boone had become familiar with. Her shoulders were shaking but she wasn’t making a sound.
“Go away, Boone. I hate you.”
Boone ignored her and sat on the bed, wiping her hair away from her face. “How many times have I told you that you aren’t fat?” Boone asked gently.
“Average weight for a 15 year old girl is between 90 and 100 pounds,” Shannon rattled off the statistics she had memorized.
“Shannon, you’re tall for your age.”
“Great, so I’m fat and freakishly tall.”
“Hey, come on. You’re tall like a model. Aren’t most super models like, 5’10” or something?”
“I don’t want to be a super model. I just want to be pretty,” Shannon whispered.
“You are pretty,” Boone said. He stretched out beside her, wrapping his arms around and kissing her cheek. She continued to cry for awhile before drifting off to sleep.
When Boone woke up in the morning Shannon was facing him. She kissed him on the nose and said, “Morning, Booney,” before happily running down the stairs to get breakfast.
“Oh god,” Shannon groaned as Boone pulled her out of car.
“How did you get into the bar anyway? I thought mom took your fake ID,” Boone questioned as he shut the door and propped a very drunk Shannon up on his side.
Shannon giggled. “Please, I have more than one.” She stumbled as Boone tried to make her walk and fell to the ground, laughing, then crying. “Ouch.”
“Christ,” Boone muttered under his breath. “I can’t believe I’m going to have to carry you.”
Shannon mumbled in protest as Boone lifted her in his arms. “Hey, be gentle,” she complained.
“Sorry,” Boone said half-heartedly as he opened the door to the house.
“Booney, do you remember when we were really little and daddy and your mom had just got married and we used to play bride and groom in this doorway?” Shannon asked loudly.
“Shannon, shut up. Mom and dad are home and asleep.”
“He’s not your dad,” Shannon said quietly. “Anyway, do you remember?”
“Yeah, Shan, I remember,” Boone told her as he began to climb the stairs.
He pushed the door to her bedroom open with his foot, trying to be quiet so that his parents didn’t hear him. “Remember how you used to say you loved me?”
“Sure, Shan,” he replied as he plopped her on the bed. She giggled as her body bounced slightly as it hit the bed. Boone went over to her dresser and took out some clothes. When he turned back around, he was surprised to find her standing right in front of him, tears filling her eyes, threatening to spill over.
“Still love me now?” She asked, her voice small and childlike.
“Of course I do,” He said, holding her pajamas out to her. “Get dressed and go to bed.”
“Not like that,” Shannon said. “Not like brother and sister. Do you still love me? You know, in that way.” She put her hands around his neck and pressed her forehead against his.
Boone stared at her, startled, and swallowed against a lump that was forming in his throat. “In what way, Shannon?”
Shannon wasn’t listening to him anymore. “Remember that time you kissed me at Jennifer’s party?” she asked.
“We were playing truth or dare,” Boone tried to explain, but Shannon still wasn’t listening.
“Do you still love me like that, Booney? Like you did when you kissed me?”
“That’s why she hates me, you know. She hates me because you love me. Because you love me more than her.”
“We were playing games, Shannon. You know that.”
Shannon was silent, and she stared at her feet.
Boone gently pushed Shannon away and toward her bed. “Go to sleep, Shannon. You’ll feel better in the morning.”
She crawled up onto her bed, into her small, protective ball. Boone walked over and took off her shoes.
“You know I love you, Booney.”
“Yeah, I know.”
After a short silence she said, “My daddy’s dying.”
Boone sighed and sat down next to Shannon. “I know.”
“Will you take care of me when he’s gone?”
“You know I will.”
“Good.” And with that, Shannon fell asleep.
Boone stared at the ceiling of the hotel room, listening to Shannon’s quite sobs. Her back was turned to him, their bodies weren’t touching. She refused to come close to him, despite the fact that minutes before they had been closer than any two people could be.
He stared at the ceiling, emotionless. He thought nothing. He felt nothing. He just stared, listening to Shannon crying, waiting for her to stop.
After a while she turned over. Tentatively, she put her hand on her chest. He heard her moving, but he didn’t realize how close she was until she whispered into his ear, “Still love me, Booney?”
He was silent. He wasn’t contemplating the question, wasn’t working out an answer. He was just silent.
“Yeah, sure, Shan. I still love you.”