AN: Longer than I planned. More a one-shot than a drabble. What can I say? I like Carmela. Let me know if you think she's OOC.
For Those Who Can Hear
Summary: Carmela and Dairine, sibling stuff.
Carmela felt the need for some consultation. While her normal astronomically high levels of self-assurance allowed her to coax, wheedle, and sometimes just plain bully her way through any situation, weather she knew all the facts or not, she felt slightly out of her depth. Over her brother of all things, which was certainly something she'd never thought would happen. She'd thought that she'd won that sibling rivalry a long time ago, and carefully stored the knowledge of what pranks to pull and what buttons to push away in the back of her head so that Kit would have a better chance of escaping Ponch when his stomach was rumbling than he would of getting out from under her thumb. The addition of Nita and wizardry to the mix had only made things more interesting, but definitely not less manageable. In face, Nita's presence in his life had handed her several more weapons. He was her little brother, and she understood everything about him. Carmela grimaced slightly. Or so she'd thought, anyway, but this morning suddenly had her thinking a little differently.
She hadn't caught him doing a major spell, or saving the planet, or working a new, ground breaking wizardry. She'd just happened to pass by the door and hear the flow of the speech being spoken in a way she'd learned to recognize not as conversation, but as a spell being worked. Curious, and never one to be over-scrupulous of her kid brother's privacy, she'd poked her head inside. Kit had been sitting at his desk, his eyes unfocused, his manual open and glowing slightly in front of him, looking relaxed and content as he read from the symbols glowing on the page. Privately, Carmela thought it was kind of cute to catch his so unguarded, and she snickered a little, not paying attention to what he was actually saying. Then the cadence of his words changed slightly, moving away from the more technical phrases of the speech, and Kit picked up speed, as if saying something he'd said so often he knew it by heart. It took Carmela a few seconds to realize that it was his name. Carmela knew the ramifications of knowing something's name in the speech, and understood the importance of it's total accuracy. Hearing her little brother's name shouldn't have surprised her. She'd heard it before, although she'd been a little too distracted at the time to pay attention. But she was paying attention now, and abruptly she felt uneasy. This was someone, she'd lived with for all his life, a person who she thought she'd long ago tamed and stuffed in her back pocket. Listening to him describe himself, suddenly she wasn't so sure.
His name spoke of loyalty. His name spoke of courage. His name spoke of intelligence and dedication and patience. His name claimed him to be all the things that Carmela knew he was but the speech he said them in gave all those traits a nobility and power that she wasn't really used to associate with her brother. His name spoke of him as more than she was ready to admit that he was. And it spooked her.
And so somehow, that same afternoon, she'd ended up on the Callahan's doorstep.
Nita was right. Sometimes Dairine really was too smart by half. As soon as Carmela began talking, before she'd even got to the part where she would fail to describe why hearing her brother's name had made her so uncomfortable, Dairine was looking like she'd just sat half-way through an over-hyped movie and seen the plot-twist coming a mile away.
"Look Carmela, I know you've been learning the speech, so maybe you've picked up on this. The speech is the language in which everything can be described as accurately as possible, and the name is the one thing that you can say in the speech that has to be perfectly correct... right down to your shoe size and the color of our soul, if you know it. You didn't really think that all of that meaning was just in the vocabulary, did you? Syntax and connotation have a lot to do with it. And Kit's your brother, so you already know him well. You were getting a lot more out of listening to that then you thought you were; you just didn't realize it at the time."
Carmela huffed. "It's not like I don't know that my brother's smart and brave, and all that. I mean, I guess you have to be, to be a wizard, and I saw what happened on the moon, but..." She struggled momentarily, as if looking for the right words, and burst out with "But he's still such a dork sometimes!" This was said with an affectionate smile and shake of the head, but when Carmela looked up she was a little surprised to see Dairine not smiling back.
"Have you ever got the chance to read the precis' on the stuff Kit's done with my sister?" She asked in an even tone.
"Well, I don't exactly have a sweet little machine like Spot running around to feed me that kind of information. Kit usually gives the family a run down of what he's been up to, though. Why?"
Dairine smiled grimly. "I think it couldn't hurt you to take a look at the official version."
They looked. It took longer the Carmela had expected just to read through it, but it took her a lot longer than that to digest a lot of the details laid down in the Manual's concise, clinical logs. After about an hour she gave Spot a pat and pushed herself away. She felt unusually subdued, and slightly shaky. Something cold touched her face, and she jerked up, seeing that same slightly grim smile still on Dairine's face.
Carmela sighed. "Yeah. Thanks." She glanced back at Spot's still active display. "I can't believe all that stuff's about my little brother. He hasn't been telling us all of what he's been doing by half." She felt slightly sick to her stomach when she thought of all the warnings about her new-found alien obsession that Kit had given her which she'd ignored, convinced that he couldn't really know what he was talking about. Apparently, he'd known a lot more than she'd given him credit for. So far, it'd been nothing but false alarms on his part, but Carmela felt unpleasant shivers of retro-active fear crawl up her spine when she thought about how close she might have come. She pouted. "I could kill him."
Dairine snorted. "Tell me about it. Do you have any idea how I felt the first time I looked up my sister? It took my days to convince myself I hadn't been reading about an entirely different person! And the list was a lot shorter back then." Dairine's mouth had twisted upward in an ironic smile, and Carmela understood why she's seemed to recognize her own problem so quickly. She'd once felt that way herself.
Suddenly exasperated, Carmela made a face. "I think it might take me longer than that. We're talking about a kid who's too lazy to even do the dishes by hand most nights. How would he even have the initiative to evolve civilizations or escape evil parallel universes?"
Dairine shot her a sly glance, side-long. "Oh, like you'd do the dished is you knew a wizardry to get yourself out of it?"
"Of course not." She replied, tossing her hair back over her shoulder proudly. "But I have my manicure to think about. I actually have a reason for wanting to skip out."
"Which is why you bully Kit into wizarding them clean for you when it's your turn?" Dairine arched an eyebrow. Carmela decided she didn't need to dignify that with a response, and buffed her perfect nails on the front of her shirt.
Dairine wasn't letting her off that easily. "You're still having trouble with this, aren't you?"
"Yeah." Carmela admitted with a sigh. Then she turned that same sly glance right back in Dairine's direction. "Don't you?"
Dairine smiled wryly again. "I've had more time to adjust. Plus, it's a little hard to disbelieve something when I have to go on errantry with my sister and personally watch her blow stuff up. But in your case, it's pretty simple, but you'll have to take my word for it: Kit's an amazing guy. And a great wizard. Otherwise I'd have beat him into staying away from my sister a long time ago."
Carmela laughed, and felt a sudden, surprising, almost irrational surge of pride in her little brother. The thought of repressing it crossed her mind, but it didn't feel like an emotion that was going to be repressed anytime soon. Instead, she smirked. "Huh. I guess we are related, after all. There are days when I wonder."
Dairine grinned briefly, and then her face dropped back into a scowl. "If you ever tell him or my sister that I said that, I will personally go over to your house myself and uninstall your alien broadband connection. No more All My Podlings, no more grenfelzing, no nothing."
"Perish the thought!" Carmela said, putting her wrist to her forehead and pretending to fall back in her chair in a faint. "Anyway," she said, recovering with another grin. "He'd have to be something pretty special to keep up with your sister. Nita's hot stuff!"
Carmela was watching carefully, so she didn't miss it when Dairine's mouth twitched briefly upward, and her eyes dropped for a half-second, trying to pretend she wasn't pleased. Then she shrugged. "She does OK."
Carmela was careful not to laugh. Dairine had just done her a favor, after all. Instead she just smiled and grabbed her jacket, getting ready to head for the door. "Thanks-" she paused. "For the soda."
Dairine smiled back. "Anytime."