It was Saturday, the sun was out and warming everyone with bright, happy rays.
So, of course, the air was filled with the smell of grilled meat.
One such BBQ-ing household in Queens did more than just the usual, however. The amount of people was bordering on unusual, and the quality of food and drink was extravagant for their standards.
"Ah. A celebration".
Sure enough, you could hear "Cheers!" every so often, and occasionally someone would step of up the man (Blackmaw could only see his back, since after everything is said and done, he was interested in everyone else BUT him) and give him a clap on his shoulder.
"Huh. Another promotion, maybe?"
He was watching carefully, so as not to be noticed. He occasionally helped out with some elderly people's garden living not too far from his old home, where he could check on his parents and his Fetch without drawing too much attention.
He did so with extremely mixed feelings.
He was bitter about having been replaced, someone else living his life while he had gone through hell. There was boiling anger, despite better knowledge, at the fact that no one realized the exchange. BURNING hatred for himself, for the fact that his Fetch could live his life better and more successful than he ever did: he did well at the job, climbing the ladder for some time now because he didn't have to deal with his quick temper; his parents were proud of him and for heaven's sake, he even managed to woo his long-time crush Jessica!
But within those big, brutal emotions, strands of quiet, smaller ones wove the strings that held him back from acting so far: Sadness. Happiness for his parents for finally having the son they deserve. Respect for a capable officer. Envy.
And despair. "Why couldn't I have done that?"
So, he watched the BBQ in silent turmoil.
His parents were practically glowing, grinning from ear to ear. A bit more modesty would have been in order, in Marcus' opinion. It wasn't long until he noticed people congratulate them, too. "Strange."
As far as he knew, his father stopped working a while a go. Curious, curious.
At least his brothers behaved more or less normally, smiling, obviously teasing him- no his Fetch- about something, and made a show of how much they were eating ("You'll never finish that plate, Tom, I know it and you know it, too" he thought with a smile). The image sent a pang of pain and longing through him. He didn't always get along with them, but they were his brothers, damnit!
A wet sensation on his cheek, Blackmaw wiped away a tear. He stared at it in confusion. He couldn't remember when last he cried.
Then it happened. He was torn from his walk down memory lane by loud cheering. Jessica had come out. Blackmaw felt like he lost the ground beneath his feet. Somehow, the whole universe seemed to have decided to tilt slightly, leaving everything back wrong. This couldn't, MUSTN'T be true.
But it was.
She had a baby bump.