Still Not Family

Author’s Note: Periodically, I have scenes I do that I am particularly proud of. Sometimes I am just in love with the banter or I adore the fluff or it’s the perfect unveiling of a twist I’m proud of.

Sometimes I have no idea why I’m proud of it. I just set out to explore the dynamic between Quinn and Candelaria as part of a larger arc I’m still toying with, this scene that has been knocking around my brain for a while, and I’m not sure why it’s so key, but it matters.

Or that’s all insomnia talking and sharing this now is a bad idea, but the publish button is nice and shiny and I don’t have the proper judgment to stop myself. 😛

Still Not Family

“I told you to get out.”

“No, you told Mrs. Howell to get out. I’m not Mrs. Howell.”

Quinn frowned, rolling over to look at Candelaria. He didn’t understand what she was doing here or how she’d gotten in. He knew the door hadn’t opened, but he’d figured that Mrs. Howell hadn’t left when she closed it. Now, though, he didn’t know what to think. She hadn’t been with Mrs. Howell when she checked on him, and she couldn’t have stayed in when the woman ushered the other kids out of his room. She couldn’t have—had she come in his window? Was she insane?

“Same goes for you. I don’t want you here.”

She climbed onto the bed. “When our parents died, Beacan… He couldn’t deal with it. He didn’t want to act like anything had happened. It was really messing him up.”

He shrugged. “What’s your point? I don’t care about your sob story, and you know it. I never asked for it, and I don’t want it. I can plug my ears and start humming, but you know what? This is my room. Get out. Now.”

She shook her head. “Whatever had you screaming earlier isn’t going away. You need to let yourself deal with it. Pretending it didn’t happen isn’t an option. You know that.”

“I know you’re a nosy brat and I want you out of my room.”

“Come on. Since when you scream about anything? You had four boys attack you at school, one of them broke your ribs, and you didn’t scream. You fell off the roof and didn’t scream. You didn’t scream when the police arrested you for vandalism, and you never scream when you have a nightmare. What was that?”

Quinn turned away from her, wrapping his arms around himself as he tried not to think about anything—not what had made him cry out or any of what she’d just listed off. He didn’t want to remember any of that. “A flashback.”


“Don’t ever take drugs, okay? And if you do, make damn sure it’s not acid. LSD. Whatever you want to call it. Don’t take it.”

“I wouldn’t.” She shook her head. “I also never thought that you would. You’re a pain in the ass, and you talk tough. You don’t back down from fights, and you mouth off to everyone, but you don’t smoke, even if you carry cigarettes with you. You don’t drink even when Mr. Howell offers it to you.”

“Didn’t have a choice.”

“Oh. Mrs. Howell told me someone drugged your food, but I didn’t realize it was that kind of a drug. I was thinking poison or a sleeping pill.”

He tried not to shudder. “Sometimes I wish it had been either one of those things.”

“Why is acid so bad?”

“I… I don’t know what really happened while I was on it. What I saw… They call stuff like what happened to me a ‘bad trip.’ It… I saw a monster… It sounds stupid, but I was high and didn’t know it, and it scared the hell out of me.”

The bed shifted as she crawled over to him, wrapping her arms around him. He stiffened, trying to pull away from her, but she had her hands locked and wouldn’t budge. “Get off of me.”


“The hell is wrong with you?”

“It’s not wrong with me. It’s wrong with you,” she said, leaning her head against his. “You’re acting just like Beacan, and I don’t have a choice—this is what I did for him, and I’m going to do it for you so that you can heal a bit and stop being such a jerk all the time. Let it out, Quinn. Give yourself a real chance to react to what happened, to what you saw and what you felt.”

He shuddered. Having the flashback was bad enough. He didn’t want this. “I hate you.”

“I don’t care. I don’t like you very much, either. I hate living with you, though, and if this makes you even the slightest bit easier to deal with, I’m going to make sure it happens. Process it for once instead of ignoring it.”

“I am not going to sit here and cry. Crap happens, especially to kids like us. That’s how life works for us. We’re kids in the system.”

“You know we got lucky. The Howells are good people.”

He snorted. “You’re an idiot. I’ve been in the system all my life, and I’ll be back in it soon enough. People like the Howells just get your hopes up and then when you trust them, they take that trust away and crush your hopes like you’re nothing. That’s how it works.”

“No. We’re done with that. We’ve got the Howells, and if all the stunts you’ve pulled lately haven’t made them send you back—which you do deserve because you’re trying to make it happen—you’re the idiot—it’s not going to happen.”

“Yeah, well, the last time I thought things were good in one of these foster homes, I got my usual wake up call. No, it was worse than the rest of them. At least the one was obvious about it. Getting knocked around isn’t that hard to take when you know it’s coming. Having drugs slipped into your food and having no idea what they did to you while you were on them… that’s different.”

She brushed back some of his hair, letting out a breath. “You know… since you hate me and I hate you, it’s not going to change my opinion of you if you do cry a little. I would if something like that had happened to me.”

He grunted. “I’m a dumpster baby. I stopped crying years ago.”

The words were braver than he was. He broke down after every acid flashback, and he hated himself for it. He didn’t want anyone to see it, but she’d come in and stayed, and he didn’t know what to do to make her leave.

“You’re still not my sister. We’re not family.”

“Heaven forbid,” she said, and he could hear the eye roll in her voice even if he couldn’t see it. “Go back to sleep, Quinn. You’re not alone this time.”

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