The house roared with flames, the gates of hell unleashed. Luke gasped breathing in smoke, tasting blood and… dirt? His whole body hurt but he couldn’t think beyond that muffled howl in his head. Something moved making Luke’s arm hurt even more. It moved again. Long moments had Luke turning his aching head and neck to see what was moving behind him. He saw blue. Gabriel’s favorite color. Gabriel’s favorite shirt. Adrenaline napalmed Luke’s veins dwarfing the fury of the house burning near by as everything came back to him.
The shouting. The knife. The blood of their parents, so much blood, soaking into Luke’s converse. Gabriel grabbing him and making that desperate jump. Right through the window, shielding Luke from the glass with his own body.
Gabriel’s favorite color.
Gabriel’s favorite shirt.
Luke forced his stiff neck to look up. He was lying on his unconscious brother as they both bled on the brown and green grass. The brother who always shined like the sun, their parents’ perfect child, the one who Luke would always go to first when something went wrong. He was a broken action figure, skin waxy plastic, limbs akimbo… except for the one arm holding Luke tight to Gabriel’s chest.Luke screamed.
He must have because people were appearing around him. Those neighbors he didn’t know past semi-polite nods and mutually pretending that nothing existing past their own property. They stared at him in horror now. From so high up. But their faces spun as the world warped like looking through melting glass. He must have screamed.
He must have because he woke up covered in sweat, tears, and with Gabriel’s hand on his shoulder. Gabriel’s face was painted in sharp concern and soft orange streetlight spilling in from the small apartment window.
It was familiar. Just another dream. Another memory.
Gabriel’s eyes held the same phantom as he tried to smile. “Same dream?”
Luke nodded mutely
Gabriel squeezed Luke’s shoulder, as much of a comforting gesture as he knew Luke would tolerate. “Try and get some more sleep, twerp.” He said his voice warm if a little gruff.
“Yeah whatever.” Luke growled and pulled the covers back over his head.
Gabriel stood there a moment longer before walking into their small kitchen. He tiredly flipped on the light, started the coffee pot, and sat down at the table. Gabriel sighed heavily and picked absently at the peeling wood-patterned laminate. It was just another day in the life of the Cartwright brothers after everything went wrong.
Many days, well, they felt hopeless. Just one foot in front of the other survival. Gabriel worked hard. He kept food on the table, a roof over their heads, and the heat turned on. He fought like hell to get Luke out of the System, and that group home he’d been placed in for most of those 7 months. In recent days, Gabriel fought to keep up with the ever-increasing weight on his shoulders. He was tired. So tired. Some days the weight he carried was so heavy it bowed him forward… and he prayed. Have mercy on us.