*Disclaimer* See chapter one, I still own nothing.
Simon nestled down into the covers, powering down his source box with a contented sigh.
Although, frustrated that Father required him not only to participate in his own summer reading list but also the list for the two grades ahead of his own, he had to admit, tonight, he was grateful for his father's persistence. As he allowed his eyes to lightly close, preparing to drift off to sleep, he could see the pages of Dracula dimming as they powered down, a small smile as he remembered the story he had just completed.
Suddenly, there was a loud crack splitting through the darkness of the summer night, causing Simon to jump slightly as the unexpected noise, his eyes widening in realisation. It was a thunderstorm!
The night could not get any better, Simon thought excitedly.
There had been a noticeable lack of storms this summer, much to Simon's sorrow, now; it actually looked like a respectable storm was brewing. Excitement growing, he was half-tempted to power up his books again and start the next assignment on his list. Apparently, it was some sort of mystery novel or something, a detective named Shirley House or something that Simon couldn't exactly remember at the moment. Stories and storm were almost tradition, what more could a boy ask for?
Another loud crack split the night sky, allowing Simon to see the dark storm clouds filling the atmosphere.
No, sad as it was, Simon knew he couldn't focus on written words tonight. Though Simon typically preferred things he could control, storms were the perfect combination, in his mind, of the thrill that come with facing uncontrollable power while still secure in the safety of his parent's physical protection.
As the thunder rumbled deeply, filling the background of his night, Simon threw back his covers, leapt to the window, settling in to watch the production unfolding before him.
Eagerly anticipating the next crack to light the sky before him, Simon was surprised when the next "crack" was more of a muffled slam coming from the darkness behind him.
Turning around swiftly at the noise, Simon saw River, standing in her long, white nightgown, a controlled look set firmly upon her face.
"River. What are you doing out of bed at this hour?" Simon asked forcing himself to stay turned away from the window as the fully arrived storm, beat out its rhythm through the deluge now pounding against his bedroom window.
"Simon, did you know that thunderstorms can form when a system of warm, moist air collides with a cooler system. They aren't all the same either some are single cell storms but can range up to a super cell. The thunder itself isn't really a part of the storm but the acoustical after-effect of the lightning." The young girl words tripped over one another as those rushing to escape her head. Looking closer, Simon thought she almost appeared . . . upset?
"River, are you frightened of the storm?" Simon asked hesitantly, not sure if he was truly interested in the young girl's emotions.
"Fear would be unproductive Simon; we can't do anything about the storm." River whispered, hair swaying in front of her face as she hung her head. "It would . . ." River's next words went unspoken as a particularly loud crack silenced her thoughts, causing her slight frame to jump backwards, eyes widened in fear.
Simon paused at his mei mei's reaction, considering the options before him. On one hand, he really wanted to enjoy his storm, he couldn't help but look towards the window wistfully as another large crack of lighting streaked across the temporarily illuminated sky before his eyes were drawn back towards River who was shaking, almost imperceptibly, trying to hide her terror at the strengthening storm.
On the other hand, Simon realised surprisingly, he was concerned for his mei mei. He was her big brother and, if he was honest with himself, she has really started to grow on him in recent months. While it was still annoying to have her correct his homework or effortless learning of skill which took him forever to pick up in comparison, she had grown to become a brilliant companion.
She came up with endless games to keep them entertained in the formality of the family manor. Just the other day, he remembered with a grin, she had rescued him from the grasp of boredom with an adventure involving the rebel Browncoats and had ended with cannibalism. He was startled to realise that he not only accepted River as his mei mei after all these years, but deep down was immeasurably grateful for her presence and the sense of balance she brought to his life.
Rising from the window seat he had been watching the storm from, Simon purposely walked over to his bed while River watched his actions questioningly, unsure of her brother's decision. Glancing over his bed, Simon found his favourite blanket, a particularly large, extra soft and fluffy blanket that Grandma Tam had given him on the last birthday before her death and deftly spun it around allowing it to drape gently around River's shoulders and she stood astonished in the center of the room.
"River?" Simon called softly, using his hand to lift the young girl's chin upward, meeting her eyes firmly as she hesitantly let her gaze drift upwards. "Do you think that you might be able to help out your big brother tonight?"
"Help?" River questioned haltingly, startled at the rare request, eyes continually drifting toward the storm howling outside. "You need my help?"
"Yes, you goof, help," Simon responded with an encouraging smile on his face. "You see, years ago, I was afraid of thunderstorms too. "
River stood a little taller, intrigued by her brother's rare story of his younger years.
"One summer, I was visiting Grandma Tam when a storm much like this came out of nowhere, leaving me standing in Grandma's bedroom looking much like you do right now."
"You got scared too?" River asked tilting her head as though trying to understand a difficult math problem.
"Of course I got scared, so you know what Grandma did?' Simon asked as River furiously shook her head, urging her brother to continue.
"She grabbed this very blanket, wrapped it around my shoulders and led me to the window" River let out a squeak at the thought of moving any closer to her last barrier between herself and the furiousness outside.
"As soon as we sat down, she introduced me to the Tam family tradition and now I'm going to introduce it to you, okay?" River nodded in confirmation.
"You see" Simon continued, "Many generations of Tam's have suffered from this same fear of storms and, because a Tam should never appear afraid, we found the solution. Every Tam during a storm, grabs the biggest, fluffiest blanket they can find, grabs their favourite family member, moves to the best window in the house, and creates stories to explain why the storm looks and sounds the way it does" Simon finished.
"I'm your favourite family member?" River asked incredulously, a look that Simon knew meant, "ya, right" striking through her fear.
"Without a question," Simon answered unquestioningly, placing a kiss upon her forehead.
Suddenly, River whirled her head upwards, "You do know that thunder and lightning really are caused by . . ."
"You know, if that's truly the most creative story you can come up with, I'm definitely going to have the best story of the night. I suppose it can't be helped" Simon said with an exaggerated sigh. "I mean, I thought you'd have more flair to your stories but it is your first time I guess"
"I can do this," River said, pulling the blanket tightly around her shoulders, determination replacing fear as she processed the challenge before her.
"Prove it," Simon said daringly, a teasing tone in his voice.
"I will," River retorted, a slight grin temporarily gracing her face before it vanished under a grimace as another roll of thunder sounded outside. Marshalling her courage, River marched intentionally towards the window seat. Turning back towards Simon, she arched her eyebrow.
"I'm coming, I'm coming, "Simon reassured with a grin, excitedly running towards the window himself, jumping upon the window seat beside River. Turning towards the younger girl, Simon helped her readjust the blanket so that it was perfectly around the two of them. "Ready?"
Mrs. Tam pulled her housecoat more tightly around her shoulders, fighting off the dampness of the storm as she hurried quietly down the darkened hallway. While, she and her husband believed firmly in letting their children experience life and make their own mistakes, though she had heard the neighbourhood whispers about "raising themselves" and "self absorbed parents." She and her husband were simply busy and, after all, independence built self-reliance, right?
Yet, despite herself, Mrs. Tam couldn't help but worry about her children in the face of the fierce storm. They were so young; perhaps no one would begrudge her indulging them this once with a late night check?
Turning the last corner, Regan stopped abruptly as she realised her daughter's bedroom door was ajar. Tentatively pushing the door open the rest of the way, she couldn't stop the gasp that escaped as the image of en empty, rumpled bed filled her vision. Hurriedly, she turned and began rushing towards her son's room, eyes constantly scanning for signs of her children when the sound of giggling floated to her ears.
Anxiously she strained her ears towards the musical sound "Honest, Grandma told me that giants were clomping around their homes in the sky, the lightning is one of the giants pulling a prank on the others. The thunder is them falling after they've been blinded by the light."
"That sounds so silly Simon," River laughed gleefully at her brother's rare moment of silliness, no trace of fear in the joyful noises escaping the darkened room.
"Alright," Regan heard her son respond, "I dare you to come up with something better."
"I will then," Regan heard the determined voice of her daughter "This is the story of the tigers who dreamed of becoming ballerinas" River started in a serious tone.
Backing away slowly so that her children would not sense her presence, Regan was surprised at the sadness which threatened to overwhelm her. She had an envious life. People dreamed of possessions and event that, to her, were commonplace. Her children were gifted and, in public, well behaved but in her quest for the perfect life she had paid a high cost that had been claimed without notice before tonight. Her children had a life without her. Shaking the threatening tears away, she silently returned to her room, willing life to be normal when she awoke.
A.N. So, I had planned to mark this story as finished and move on. However, I underestimated the interest in our favourite sibling's childhood. As a result, I've re-opened the story and, as interest hits me, may add new chapter in the future. If any readers have a situation or event you'd like covered in this series, send me a message (or review) and let me know, maybe I'll include it in the future. Hope you're all having a shiny day.