vanillajello: (Of course it went like this.)
Kate Gregson ([personal profile] vanillajello) wrote2011-03-27 09:24 pm

Overland Park, KS, Sunday Afternoon

So, basically, Kate's general stance on weddings wasn't getting any better than it had been previously. The whole Zach deal had left her feeling a little confused, she couldn't have cared less about the guests (only two of whom were actually Nicks' relations; his parents, sitting near the front, looking stiff and uncomfortable), Tara had been seeming stressed about having to deal with her parents, the notorious Frank and Bev Craine, the former of which kept thinking Kate's name was Patricia and only remembered half the time that this was Charmaine's wedding, not her graduation.

Everything still looked beautiful, though. Their surroundings still looked like something far more grand than a lame backyard in a Kansas suburb, and Nick was still Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome, standing at the makeshift altar beside the priest as the ceremony was starting. Maybe Charmaine would actually get her fairytale.

And then Tara came traipsing down the aisle, her movements loose and childlike; an overgrown flower girl with a bouquet of pipe cleaners clenched in her hands. "Oh, just play along, everybody," Charmaine called out from behind her, arms linked with her father. "It's funny! It's for YouTube."

Tara sat down on the grass at the end of the aisle, and after Kate was done just staring she realized this had to be new alter that she'd heard had surfaced at Mimi Parmiter's house the other day. This had to be Chicken. Of course, Tara had to go and transition to a 5-year-old version of herself, because this wedding just couldn't go smoothly. Of course. Kate could see the guests giving Chicken looks, some confused, some plain disdainful.

Still, Frank walked Charmaine down the aisle, and Kate had to admit she looked kind of amazing. The pregnant bump of her stomach showed a bit, but she still didn't look like any kind of a cross between a whale and wedding cake. She looked beautiful, better than Kate could ever remember her looking. Like she should, on her wedding day.

Bev pulled Frank aside to his seat once Charmaine had been given away. "Good afternoon, friends, loved ones," started the priest. "Aren't all of God's children so very precious?"

Sitting in the middle of the aisle with her legs wide apart, Chicken hummed to herself. Loudly. Thankfully, Max got up from his seat to get her. Kate and Marshall exchanged looks, almost resigned. "Max, maybe you could get her some bubble wrap or something?" Charmaine suggested, with laugh tinged with nervousness. "I think she needs something to play with." Kate didn't catch what Nick said to her after that, but he didn't seem happy. In fact, he was starting to look tense, but still, things were moving forward.

"We have gathered today to witness the union of Charmaine and Nick," the priest started up again. "Over the past short while, I have had the distinct pleasure of getting to know this beautiful couple as they have written their vows. I've always said that --"

And then Nick had to go and fuck it all up.

"Um, father Matthew, could you just... Everyone... I'm sorry, I'm uh... Those of you who know me know that I've always tried to keep an eye out for signs, signs to help me figure out right from wrong, and uh... And when I met Charmaine, she was just such a boatload of signs, I thought maybe it was just the universe messing with me. Anyway, but... Now I know what those signs meant."

Kate found herself hoping he wasn't going to say what everyone already knew he was about to say. Chicken was still making noises to herself, but Kate barely heard it, and she was pretty sure everyone else's attention was solely on Nick now, too.

"That… This marriage... doesn't wanna happen. …And it's not going to. I'm sorry, Char."

His parents got up, and he led them away.

-----


Kate was almost surprised by how little time it took to disband a wedding. It was barely half an hour or so since Charmaine had been abandoned at the altar in her fairytale princess dress, by her fairytale prince fiancé. She sat in a chair, silently, her face blank. Kate had taken a seat too, at a respectful distance, while Max and Marshall were folding the chairs up, one by one, and taking them away. Kate's grandparents conversed with the caterer, the only non-family person still around. He was cutting the cake into pieces, and Frank and Bev were waiting for their share, carefully ignoring Chicken who was happily sprawled on the grass in the aisle, balancing a pipe cleaner on her lips.

Kate had mostly been looking down at her lap, and now she closed her eyes and blocked out the chatter of her grandparents, the way her grandfather sounded like nothing bad had happened, and her grandmother like all she wanted to do was sigh in a long-suffering way. Kate didn't want to keep listening to it. She and Charmaine had both lost their fantasies of rich, normal men today. She thought about that, and she thought about how she probably should have felt sad about it, or depressed, or something, and she thought about how all she really felt was mildly peeved about giving up the dream of a penthouse suite. She didn't think about what she'd do upon returning to Fandom; she'd get to that when she'd get to that.

The next thing that broke through her thoughtful state was her mother's voice, without a doubt back to Tara now. She sounded angry, there was a challenge to her tone. "We went to Lawrence on Friday, and met Mimi," she announced to her own mother. "She told us she was our foster mother. We had a foster home. We lived with her for... I don't know how long in 1976. I was five, and Char was four. How could you leave us there?"

Bev looked undisturbed. She even talked to the caterer for a while longer before bothering to acknowledge Tara, as if as an afterthought. "I'm not so sure about those dates."

"God, Mom, I don't care about the dates," Tara snapped. "What I really want to know is... Why?"

From there on out, all Kate could do was listen, gaze darting from one person to the next. This was all between Tara and Bev, now, and the rest of them were just an audience. Kate caught herself thinking (and not for the first time today) that she wished a few specific people had been here to see this. How could she not be difficult and damaged, just look at the people she got her genes from!

"I'll tell you why," Bev said, almost as if preparing for a duel. There was something defiant to her stance, to the way she was acting like what she was about to say wasn't important and wasn't a huge revelation. "Okay. You and your sister have a half brother."

Kate turned to give her brother a look of surprise but no, he'd had no idea either. This was… news. They had a half uncle?

"I told her," Frank interjected, hands in the pockets of his trousers. Kate wondered whether he really truly even understood what was going on. Either way, it wasn't good enough for Tara. "Yeah, he told me, but you also said he was losing his mind, I mean I never know what to believe anymore."

"Okay," Bev said, moving closer to Tara. A slight wind seemed to be picking up. "When I married your father, I didn't know --" (Frank was like an echo: "She didn't know --") "-- That he already had a son. And when you were girls, the boy came to live with us."

"His name was Bryce," Frank filled in.

Tara darted a glance at her sister. "That's what I said to you, Char." Charmaine just held up her hands, helpless. "I don't --"

"He had troubles," their mother continued. "His mother sent him to us, he had nowhere to go."

"He was a part of me."

Like everyone else, Bev ignored her husband. She was finally starting to sound emotional. "Tara, when you told me what was going on, I didn't want it to be true. And then your father told me that he'd leave me if he had to put the boy out. And I-- Well, I didn't know what to do."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" Tara was furious. It didn't help at all when her mother pointed out she'd gotten both Tara and Charmaine out until she'd been able to find a place for this half brother of theirs. "No, no, no," Tara said, shaking her head. "This is not good enough. This is not good enough! I mean, you knew all this? My whole life, you knew these things that could have helped me and you kept them from me?" Bev said nothing, so Tara shouted at her: "You should have protected me, Mom!" It was met with some more silence, and Tara walked to Max who pulled her against his chest, into his embrace.

"Is he alive? Where does he live?" Charmaine cut in, with her own version of meek anger in support of her big sister. "I've dated a lot of fucking guys in this state."

"We don't know where he is now," Bev admitted.

Tara pulled away from Max and shook her head at her mother. "It's the parents' job to protect the children."

"I tried to protect you from him," Bev replied. It was weird to Kate to hear her this emotional. "I'm sorry. I hope you'll be able to forgive me. " No one said anything, so Bev just nodded. "We're gonna go."

And all Frank could worry about was that they didn't forget to take the cake. "I got the cake, Frank," his wife said, already walking away. "Let's go." Frank picked up their gift – the last one left on the table – and followed her.

Tara leaned into Max again, and Kate and Marshall got up from their chairs and went to them. Kate bit on her bottom lip, uncertain what to do. What did you tell your mom when she'd just found out about one of the major probable causes of her mental illness? That she both had a half brother and had been hurt by him as a kid?

Marshall took the lead. "I love you, Mom," he said, and that was probably the best thing to say. "Me too," Kate said.

Tara was crying when she looked over at them from Max's embrace, but she nodded.

-----


Yet another while later and they were finally in the process of stripping down the backyard back into its normal state. Kate didn't know where Charmaine had gone off to, and that was fine. No one was expecting her to take part in undoing the setup for her wedding, not even when nothing had come of it. Especially now that nothing had come of it. Kate and Marshall had been taking stuff back inside, and when they came outside again, and then stopped when they saw what was happening.

Their parents were slowdancing in front of the altar.

A second or two of surprised looking later, Marshall offered Kate his hand, and she took it, letting him lead her out onto the grass. He put his other hand on her waist, she on his shoulder, and they shuffled for a while until their parents invited them in to sway with them, in a family hug. Kate rested her head against her mother's shoulder and just for the moment, everything felt okay.

They weren't normal, and maybe they weren't quite happy either, but fuck it, they were a family. And they were Kate's family, and she loved them and she knew they had to love her back, and that was a comforting thing to realize after the past few months.

She hugged them tighter to herself.

[ooc: NFB, NFI, OOC-okay! Taken from USoT S02E12, post two of two, warning for discussion of past child abuse. AND SO I AM DOOONE WITH SEASON TWO, WHOOO! Just in time for S3 premiering tomorrow night.]

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