Series: Highschool Heroes
Characters: Regan Sheppard, Catherine Dex
Warnings: None, really
Disclaimer: Not mine!
Summary: Missing scene from Junior Jumble part one, a conversation between Regan and Catherine in the kitchen.
Author's Note: Originally written for fiordeligi, who wanted to know what they were talking about in the kitchen.
"You want some coffee?"
"Please," Catherine Dex is a striking woman, and it's not just her height. Her close cropped hair shows off her features, and her eyes, huge and dark, show every emotion as she has it. Now she looks stressed, sitting at his kitchen table, elbows resting on the tiled surface.
Regan smiles when he hands her a cup, pulling out a chair of his own and sitting down across from her. Marion's pulling a double shift, and won't be home for hours. He usually leaves the entertaining to her, because she accuses him of interrogating people when he tries to make small talk, but he can manage.
Catherine makes a pleased sound when she sips at the coffee, closing her eyes. Regan waits until she sets the cup down to ask, "So, getting settled into your new place?" And then wonders if that's too nosy. There's a fine line that he never quite mastered between interested and pushy.
Catherine doesn't appear to be offended. She hums, nodding her head, raising one hand to her temple. She's got a smooth, smoky, voice, possibly courtesy of the pack of Marlboros he'd seen in her purse, "It's a nice town. And I have Ronon back. It doesn't matter where we live, now that we're together again."
She obviously means it, twisting her shoulder to look towards the living room where her son is. Regan knows the feeling. He keeps finding himself doing the same thing with Rodney, checking on the boys- because they are inevitably together- over and over again.
He shakes his head, fighting the urge to get up and check on them now. He knows they're fine, he can just hear the murmur of their conversation, even through the door. To distract himself, he says, "You should have called when you moved in. John's got some skill in the moving heavy things department."
Catherine blinks, and then smiles, just a little awkwardly, "I don't have- we don't have very much. While I was looking for Ronon I didn't really, you know." She grips her coffee cup, staring at the far wall, blinking her eyes rapidly. A muscle in her jaw jumps.
Regan asks, soft, "How long was he gone?"
They'd lost Rodney for two months, and he doesn't know how much longer they could have gone on. Catherine squares up her shoulders, like it's a long used habit that she can't break, drawing herself up and schooling her expression into something calm and strong when she says, "Two years. Two long years they had my son in that place." The quick spike of her anger is a little chilling, because it is the same anger he has felt, but deeper, so much deeper.
There's nothing Regan can say to that, no comfort he can offer, no way to make that right. For a long moment they sit in silence, listening to the birds singing outside the window, holding their coffees.
Catherine sighs after a moment, some of the tension going out of her shoulders. She laughs, soft and breathless when she rolls her eyes, "I'm sorry. You don't need me to tell you what it's like. It's horrible, losing a child."
Regan nods, fingers twitching around the cup. He can hear Rodney and John talking. He knows they're in the living room, but that doesn't make his heart slow down. He knows it's partly to do with his job, that he's used to protecting people, that failing to protect his own family is a weight he's having a hard time bearing. Partly it's to do with the fact that Rodney wears his pain nakedly, so it's impossible to ignore.
They're both out of coffee, so Regan stands and refills their cups. Catherine nods her thanks, says, "Ronon's talked about your son. He doesn't talk much. He's so quiet, you wouldn't believe how he used to be before they took him." She pauses, eyes going distant, smiling a sad smile. "He was such a happy boy. Even after his father was killed. I- "she cuts herself off, squeezing her eyes shut, swallowing heavily and squaring her shoulders again.
Regan almost reaches out to her, but he thinks that she would not appreciate the touch. She's holding onto her strength like it's a lifeline, like it's the only thing keeping her going. He doesn't want to do anything that might take it away from her.
She visibly gathers herself, clearing her throat and looking up, "But he does talk about your son, sometimes, when the nightmares wake him up. I think they were close. In that place. It's hard to get more than a few words at a time out of him."
Regan blinks, but before he can say anything Catherine tilts her head to the side, asking, "Rodney must take after his mother?"
Regan takes a quick drink of his coffee, leaning back in his chair when he speaks, "He does, actually. But, Marion and I are his guardians. His parents..." Regan doesn't know how to explain it, because he doesn't understand it himself. "His parents aren't able to take care of him."
Catherine stares at him like he's speaking another language. She opens her mouth, closes it again, and continues to look completely baffled. Regan says, gently, "Not everyone is cut out for parenthood." Her expression doesn't ease.
After a long moment she says, voice tight and tense, "Well. I'm glad that you and your wife appear to be." One of her hands is balled up into a fist, and Regan nods, giving her a moment to calm down. Her anger is satisfying to see.
Then her eyes go wide, and she says, "Oh. Oh! So, Rodney and John...they're not brothers."
Regan shifts in his seat. He's still a bit unsure how to handle the relationship between the two boys. There's so much intensity there, so much emotion. He can't deny them it, or try to stop it, but at the same time...it's nothing that he'd prepared himself to deal with at any point in his life.
There are times, brief though they be, where he still hopes John might just grow out of it somehow.
Regan clears his throat, "No. Not brothers," He smiles, just a little tight, "they're closer than me and my brother ever were." Not that Regan's family had ever been particularly close, for as large as it was. Marion and the boys more than make up for that.
Catherine hums, nodding. When she finally speaks again she's changed subjects, staring down at her hands, "I never thought beyond getting him back. That was my whole life. All I allowed myself to think about, to hope for. When he came back to me, when I could finally hold him again, I thought everything would just be better. But it's not."
She puts a hand up to her face, cupping her fingers over her eyes. Her voice is rough, still strong, "I don't know how to help my baby."
Regan looks down himself, jaw tensing up. He finally manages, not as wry as he'd hoped, "You're not the only one." And she hums again, reaching out to squeeze his arm, hard and brief.
She asks, "Is there more coffee? It's excellent."
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