My first thought when I saw him -duffel in one hand, cello case in the other, hallway and a nonchalant Mali behind me- was that he certainly wasn’t much different to the fifteen year old I had idolised those years ago. Ryan was still fine boned and artistic, almost pretty and most importantly my only living relative.
“Ry,” I greeted, my breath catching in the throat. Some people aren’t good at good-byes, but I’ve had enough practice, its greetings that give me the jitters.
“Blair,” he stated, looking as nervous as I felt. “You okay girl?”
I bit my lip and nodded, until he turned his attention over my shoulder.
“Thanks for getting her,” he told Mali and ushered me through the front door. “Sorry to hear about Carol.”
“Sorry we never came after Uncle Paul died,” I replied, dropping my gaze to the floor.
“Not your fault B-Bear.”
“God you remember that stupid nick name?” I asked, smiling for the first time since my mother’s death.
“’Fraid so,” he grinned back, his personality beginning to resemble the cousin who for a time was more like a brother. “You remember Spence?”
Until that moment I hadn’t noticed the other man in the room, but the moment I looked at him a flicker of familiarity jolted me; he had changed more than Ry. “Uh, I suppose,” I said uncertainly, offering the man a friendly smile. May as well be polite, I thought.
“Hey kid, don’t worry I didn’t remember you either,” the man replied honestly with a boyish smile. “You don’t mind ‘kid’?”
“It’s better than sweetie,” I replied. “And I’ve been getting that all week. Apparently I’ve regressed back into childhood.”
The boys laughed at that. “You wanna see you’re room?” Ry finally offered, pointing to the hallway, which lead off the main living area.
“Sure,” I agreed, following him, still with my duffel in one hand and my cello in the other.
“I didn’t know what you’d like…” He said awkward once more as he opened the door. “I’ll leave you to get settled in.”
“Wow,” Spencer finally commented when Ryan made his way back into the living room. “You never mentioned she was so…”
“She’s a special kid,” Ryan ended for him, flopping onto the couch as if the past five minutes had completely exhausted him. His cousin had been everything he’d expected and more; his dark hair framed her porcelain face, cheeks flushed pink as her pouted lips, and her vivid blue eyes peered from under a heavy fringe. All he wanted to do was protect her from the world he lived in.
“They’re going to eat her up,” the younger man commented, wandering around the furniture toward the kitchen. “Coke?”
“Yeah,” Ryan replied off-handedly. “Who?”
Spencer shrugged bemused at his band mate’s preoccupation, “the media, the rock world, name it?”
“I hope not,” he mused, cracking the can open and taking a swig. “She’s just so…”
“Witty, charming, eloquent?” Blair herself suggested, smiling as she wandered back into the room. “I didn’t mean to interrupt your stressing Ry, but seriously, you need to chill a little dude. You’re not exactly taking over from number one mum.”
“He’s not worried about his parenting ability,” Spencer interjected, silently offering the girl a coke.
“Then what’s the deal?” she questioned, taking the coke. “Are you guys running an underground meth lab that I’m not at liberty to know about?”
“At least we know creativity is genetic,” the man commented.
“Nothing like that B-Bear,” Ryan replied, refusing to delay the inevitable. “Have you heard of a band called Panic at the Disco?”
“They make an appearance on my playlist,” Blair agreed. “Good musicians, the scene kids are kind of deterrence from getting into the groove though.”
Spencer laughed, loving the hilarity of the moment. One day, he thought, when I write a autobiography this moment will be in it.
“We are Panic at the Disco,” the cousin confessed, watching Blair for a reaction. She wasn’t exactly the fan girl type, he thought.
“We’ll that’s a relief,” she giggled. “With the posters in the hall I was starting to think you were a stalker.”