Vic sits on his bed and looks up from his book as I walk into the room. He smiles, his eyes shining. “Hey, I didn’t know you’d be here already.” He puts down his book and points at the chair next to the bed. “Take a seat. I thought you wouldn’t be here for another hour or so. The check up is not for another two hours.” “Yeah, we arrived early.” I walk around the bed and see a wheelchair in a corner, since when does he need one of those? I look Vic over, he seems tired but no more than normal, not enough to need one. Vic looks at me and smiles. “We?” I sit down with a sigh. “Yes, we. I took Chris, Kev and Steve with me. They’re in the living room with Dad.” Vic’s smile turns positively evil. “Steve?” “Yes, Steve.” I try to keep my face straight but fail and smile. “So something good came out of you two going to France then?” His smile softens and he slides his hand in mine. “I’m glad. It’s good to see you finally getting on with your life.” I look him over curiously but then realise something. It’s been a week since I picked him up from the hospital, but a lot more time seems to have passed. Vic is so different from the guy I picked up last week. His voice is softer, his eyes calmer, he seems to have matured quite a bit, something has changed and it seems for the better. He is right about Steve though, we have been spending a lot more time together. We haven’t really talked about what is going on and it hasn’t gotten any further than some stolen kisses, but something is going on and I’m happy with it. “You’re blushing. It must be serious.” Vic softly squeezes my hand. “That is good, cause I need to talk to you.” His tone turns serious. “What is it?” “I want to set up a new backup plan and I want Dad to sign instead of you.” I look him in the eyes. Did he really just say that? Did he really just turn me away? “Why?” “Because you need to get on with your life. I keep pulling you down and I can’t keep doing that. Dad is back, he can take care of me. I really just… I really just want you to be happy.” “How did you think this would make me happy?” My voice trembles. “How can you think taking care of you makes me unhappy?” This is wrong, insane. I love him, why would he turn his back on me? “I… I can’t keep depending on you. I can’t ask you to take care of me every minute of every day.” “If you need that I will do it.” I beg, I don’t want to lose him. I’m his older sister, I’m supposed to take care of him. “I’m telling you not to. I don’t want you to put your own life on hold for me any longer. I want you to find a boyfriend and live happily ever after. Dad is back, he can take care of me and he wants to. I’m his responsibility and not yours. I want you to trust me on this.” “But, how? How can I just abandon you?” I grip his hands, holding them tightly. “I’m not… I’m not asking you to abandon me. I’m asking you to stop being my guardian and start being a sister again.” Tears shine in his eyes when he whispers the last words. I quickly stand and embrace him, tears blurring my vision. Being his sister, I don’t know how long ago it has been that I was just his sister, it must have been years. “Of course I’ll be your sister. You should have said that in the first place.” “I’ll remember that for next time.” Vic laughs.
“I don’t believe it, why would he do this? Why would he hide this from me? I was still his guardian. Why didn’t he tell me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?” I sit on the side of Steve’s bed, crying. I’ve tried to reason with myself for hours, tried to reason why he would not tell anyone. Would he have told me if the doctor did not talk about it? In my heart I know he wouldn’t. It was all part of his ‘protecting everybody’ plan, all part of trying to make everybody happy. “The way Dad looked at me, the wheelchair, the request. It all makes sense. But I don’t want it to. He is my little brother. He is…” I shake my head. “Slipping.” Steve whispers. “He is slipping away.” Steve lies down on his bed, pulling me with him. “What do you mean?” I lie my head on his chest, his steady heartbeat calming. “When we were in France you thought he was okay, maybe even hoped he would get better. Now you realise that it was all a plan, Vic’s plan. He is slipping from your grasp, he is now back to making his own decisions.” Steve stops and seems to be thinking for a moment. “It is not the lie that is hurting you, somewhere deep inside you knew that he would still not be okay when you returned, you just hoped differently. What is hurting you in that now, for the first time in a long time you are only responsible for yourself and Kevin. You are free to do with your life what you want and you don’t know if you can. Your life has been defined by taking care of others for years, now everybody is thanking you and showing that you did a great job and you have trouble letting go. That is normal.” I huff, shaking my head. “That is not true. I just… He… It’s…” Steve lifts his hand and puts his finger to my lips. “Then let me ask you this. Will you and Kevin move in here? I know it’s not been long since we’ve been back and I know there is still a lot of stuff going on. But I feel happy when I’m around you, and I always have. I want to see if maybe we can make each other happy and make this thing between us work. You don’t have to answer immediately, but please think about it.” I stare up at Steve, my mouth open as he smiles tentatively. I push myself up, planting a kiss on his lips and sliding my hands in his hair. I hope this is answer enough for him because I’m not sure I can actually speak at this moment.