For the first couple of weeks, living with Cordy is basically like living alone.
Louise is almost always home by herself while her sister is at the hospital or up in her bedroom, reading. It’s not too bad, Louise has Brett over a lot and when he isn’t, she really doesn’t mind the solitude.
She’s becoming used to being alone, these days.
After Lewis’s death Cordy had forced everyone in the family to undergo extensive medical examinations and devoted plenty of time to oversee it all herself, even if she’s not in charge in any way. It’s a way to cope, Louise knows. Her sister deals with grief like that, by trying to take charge of every possible detail surrounding it and shape it to her liking. When their mother died she had been the same way, only with less medical knowledge at her disposal.
They hadn’t found anything heridary about Lewis’s condition, however. Maybe it should be comforting, but Louise still doesn’t feel all those strong emotions people keep talking about. What a relief someone says to her and she replies on cue, telling them something she thinks they’d like to hear. Truth is that she doesn’t feel any better at all to know that her brother died randomly rather than because of some screwed up DNA.
After a couple of weeks as an unemployed nobody, Louise manages to get a job at the concert hall, selling tickets and running errands for the Very Important People. It’s what she’ll need to do in order to pay the bills, she knows, but it’s a tiny bit degrading all the same to stand there with her fancy degree in classical music and not get to use it. They have auditions for open spots in their ensembles twice a year and she has already marked her calender for the next one which will be in three months.
Until then, she will have to work late selling tickets and listen to the music like everybody else.
She keeps writing in her journal this winter. Obsessively at times, as though she needs to get everything down on paper in order for it to really have happened. It’s a habit she developed last year, when Lewis died and everything fell apart, and she’s not sure it’s entirely healthy but she keeps it up anyway. Writing about her days, her thoughts, her dreams. That way, maybe something will last.
He doesn’t live with them on paper but he does, in many ways. Most mornings when she wakes up – late, she never manages to fall asleep before 2 AM – he’s there, waiting for her.
You slouch around like two teenagers, Cordy mutters, though Brett is actually very good around the house and often cleans and shops for groceries on his days off.
He’s got a job downtown these days, doing web designs for a company that mostly works with musicians and actors. Since it’s the entertainment industry, it can mean a lot of cash but also a lot of work hours and no job security whatsoever. He still says he wants to be an artist, but Louise secretly thinks he’s given up that dream a long time ago because he seems to actually love this web design thing.
She’s pretty satisfied with it, too, because it gives them a lot of time together and they always have lunch at home before heading out to their own separate lives.
It’s strange with Brett because she’s still a bit apprehensive about them as a couple, for no good reason, really. Just that nagging feeling that he’s going to find something better along the way – someone who isn’t so damn neurotic, or so depressed. He’s this bright, confident guy and she’s a weird and introverted person missing her twin brother like one would miss a pair of lungs and it doesn’t make any sense that he’d want her.
Especially not when she panics when he asks if she would like him to move in with them.
The truth, which she tells him, is that she’s terrified. Terrified and exhausted from all the emotions that have been running wild for the past year. She’s tried so hard not to feel anything that she’s scared she’s gone numb and then when she does feel something she’s afraid it will lead to the same kind of pain. She’s tired of being sad and even more tired of feeling guilty when she isn’t sad.
Brett makes her happy. It’s a very, very big deal.
Cordy is grateful for more money to pay the rent and an extra pair of hands to help out with housework, so she doesn’t raise any protests when Louise tells her the news. All in all it seems like a good way to live together without actually living together, which suits her just fine at the moment.
She hasn’t met a lot of his friends before, which seems strange considering that they’ve been dating for years, but it hasn’t been that kind of dating, Brett assures her when she freaks out about it. She’s been busy with college and they’ve spent most of their time at her dorm. Still, it makes Louise realise that Brett hasn’t met her dad either. And that it’s weird. Bringing someone home seems like something others do, she’s barely even considered that it’s something she would ever do.
But Brett’s friends are nice people. She finds herself enjoying the party more than she expected to and even the slightly awkward moment when she realises that one of Brett’s old college friends is dating Nathaniel Brushwood’s sister Martha passes without much pain.
Cordy had invited Kaidan but he had said no straight away, telling her that he needed to be at home with Jeannie. Louise is no expert on anything but she has a feeling her brother isn’t doing great and that he hasn’t been since Lewis died even if he wouldn’t ever talk about it. They weren’t close at all, but she’s not stupid enough to think the death of a sibling at their age wouldn’t be devastating to just about anyone.
Their cousin Eamon doesn’t miss out on a party, however, and he’s brought a new girl that Louise hasn’t met before. She never tries to sort out the tangled web of his girlfriends and friends with benefits friends and assorted one night stands, but this one seems to have elevated above the rank of “random girl”, at least.
Eamon has also managed to rent a karaoke machine and he and Louise end up using it for hours – she blames the punch, or perhaps the wide selection of beer that Addison had brought but either way she gives in and it feels so good to just let go of everything and drink another glass of something, feeling her worries and that lingering grief wash away.
So what if she is drunk? She’s young and reasonably free, she should be allowed to be blind drunk every once in a while.
Brett, at least, seems to agree even if he looks a bit worried when she embarks on another duet with Eamon.
“I dated her brother back in high school,” Louise admits.
“What’s she like?”
Louise has to think about that for a while. Martha Brushwood is mainly known for being a teenage mom, back in River’s Bend. And then for being a teenage mom who left her kid with the dad to run off to college. No great sins, all things considered, but a small town is a small town and people have small minds. Louise has no desire to contribute to the witch hunt.
“She’s very accomplished,” she says instead. “Had a baby when she was just a kid herself and now she’s really successful in her line of work.”
“Right.” Brett smiles. “Sounds like his type then.”
“What about you?” Louise blurts, before catching herself and without really knowing why she’s asking.
Brett raises an eyebrow. “Me?”
“What’s your type?”
“I thought that was pretty obvious.” He smiles and Louise suddenly feels stupid for doubting him. “I don’t move in with girls every day, you know.”
And the beers in her system combined with Brett’s kind voice make the world a soft and comfortable place and Louise leans back in her seat, allowing herself to feel tired, drunk and happy, for once.
* Cordelia was missing from the party because she was busy making out with a townie she’s been seeing lately. I couldn’t find a way to include the pics in the update, but here they are: