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A Study in Reynolds

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"Zeus, poops, and shoes?!" This was fucking ridiculous. How the hell could Dennis's bird of a sister and worm-sucking idiot of a friend POSSIBLY think that they would be anything other than horribly, abysmally awful at def poetry? He bent down to lean in close to them so that he could emphasize the reality check that he was about to deliver: "You guys are going to gag and bomb and fail and bomb and fail and gag. Okay?"

"Oh, you think so, huh?" Dee challenged as she glared at her brother.

Dennis scoffed. "Oh, baby girl, I know so."

Dee's resolve steeled at the pet name that she knew her brother only used when he wanted to be condescending. She turned to Charlie and said with confident conviction, "Charlie, come on. Let's go to the poetry slam. We'll show him."

Dennis laughed derisively as Charlie and Dee rose from the couch. "You'll probably both dry heave as soon as you step onto the stage! Fuck, I gotta see this just so I can get a video of it on my phone to show Mac."

"Oh, so he can laugh at it after he's done laughing at your sex tapes?" Dee retorted.

Charlie smirked as he promptly high-fived Dee.

Dennis rolled his eyes as the three of them exited the apartment. "How far is this place, anyway?"

"Oh, not far, bro. Hell, we can just walk there."

"You've been there?" Dee asked as she turned to look at Charlie in surprise.

Charlie scoffed and turned to look incredulously at Dee. "Uh, YEAH. How do you think I heard about the open mic night?"

"Alright," she said as she rolled her eyes and held her hands up in a placating gesture.

The evening air was brisk once they got onto the street, but Charlie had been right about the walk not being very long at all. They entered the cozy building as the modest crowd listened intently to a passionate woman speak from a slightly elevated section of floor that must be the stage. They took their seats at one of the several vacant wooden tables.

The crowd applauded once the woman concluded and bowed before she left the stage and returned to her table. A man hopped up onto the stage and announced, "Okay, next up we have Ernesto! Let's all give him a huge round of applause because it looks like he's our final speaker," he noted as he glanced down at the sheet of paper in his hand.

"Oh!" Dee shouted as she shot her hand into the air. "Um, no. No, he's not the final speaker. My friend and I here would like to participate, as well," she informed as she pointed to Charlie.

"Oh! Well, that's wonderful! You've written your poems already?"

"Umm... No..." Dee admitted.

"I have," Charlie assured.

"Really?" Dee whispered.

"Yep."

"Alright. What's your name, sir?" the host of the event asked.

"Charlie."

"Okay, well, Charlie, you'll be up next after Ernesto, then, and if your friend there is comfortable presenting off the cuff, then she'll be speaking after you. What's your name, miss?"

"Dee," she muttered.

"Perfect. Let's hope you close us out strong. No pressure, though," he said with a warm smile. "Now, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen: Ernesto."

The atmosphere of the coffee shop was nice. It was almost rustic and very intimate, this room full of people who were mostly strangers to each other pouring out their life stories, this man who was currently speaking laying his trauma bare, adorning it with metaphors that both masked and emphasized the harshness of its reality. Listening to him brought the realization that a life devoid of pain is incomplete, that something very significant is missing in the life of someone who has never had the opportunity to be given pain that cuts so deeply that they have to discover how to heal before they bleed out. The beats of his cadence that beat into retention the severity of what he'd survived, every single fucking beat of his heart that beat the odds was the revelation that pain that can’t just be waited out and healed with time, that sort of pain is a gift, is raw material, is straw just waiting to be spun into gold. Def poetry, as it turned out, wasn't just cool; it was magnificent in the most bloody and raw and unpolished way. The crowd erupted into applause as Ernesto exited the stage.

Charlie took a deep, calming breath to steel himself as he was called to the stage. He cleared his throat and said loudly, "Night Man. Sneaky and mean."

"Oh, Jesus Christ," Dennis muttered as he buried his face in his hands.

"Shhh!" Dee scolded in a whisper. "When he's not singing it, it actually doesn't sound ridiculous. Listen."

"I love you," Charlie declared to the room. "I love you. I love you, Night Man."

"See?" Dee whispered to her brother. "Isn't that just so... sad? He thinks he's in love with him because he's a kid and he's confused and maybe some parts felt good or he told him he's special and now he feels close to him."

"That your three quarters of a psych major talking?" Dennis retorted as he rolled his eyes.

Dee glared at her brother as the crowd applauded and Charlie returned to the table. She knew that Dennis's callousness was a veneer. Everyone thought that he was a psychopath, acting like he didn't think adults had feelings. But she knew the truth. She grew up with him. She was there for the tantrums he threw as a teenager when he just couldn't handle the chaos inside his own head. She was there when he'd been diagnosed, and despite his snide remarks, she knew enough about borderline personality disorder to know that it predominantly affected women, particularly ones who had endured severe trauma. It didn't eliminate emotions; it amplified them. She'd known how embarrassed Dennis would be if she outed him to Mac as not only a person with feelings, but a person with BIG feelings, though. So, she'd played along and led the rest of the gang to believe that Dennis was a psychopath who had been diagnosed with a psychopath's disorder. Tonight, though, she was done. She confidently strutted onto the stage as her name was called. She didn't even look at her brother, but when she spoke to the modest crowd, she in truth spoke only to him:

"It was like exaltation, like joy. When he felt the switch flip for the first time. It was unlike anything he'd ever felt.

It was like static electricity inside his brain. It was overheating electrical wires when he felt it the fifth time. It was unlike anything he ever wanted to feel.

It all made sense. It was an explanation and a life sentence all wrapped up in one when, twenty years later, he was told, "You have borderline personality disorder." It was the burden of secretly being a maniac who, half the time, would rather be dead.

So, he built up a shell. A cold, calculating shell. He was bigger than who he was. He was better than feelings."

As soon as Dee began to recite her unwritten, unrehearsed poem, Dennis felt it. He felt its candid authenticity, its raw compassion; he felt its truth as if he had spoken the words himself. He'd had no idea just how well she understood. He never would have imagined. He wanted to hug her. He wanted to cry. He wanted to kiss her. Wait, what? Goddamn intrusive nonsensical thoughts. Dennis blinked the tears out of his eyes as he watched his sister leave the stage.

Dee bowed as the crowd applauded. She returned to the table as the master of ceremonies thanked her; he seemed genuinely impressed. "So," Dee smirked at her twin, "did we gag and bomb and fail and bomb and gag?"

Dennis bit his lip and met his sister's eyes, which appeared a slightly darker blue in the dim light of the café. He shook his head as he stared into those smug sapphires. He felt naked to her right now. She seemed so proud of herself, while he was sitting here on the goddamn verge of tears.

"Your Night Man piece was actually really good, too, Charlie," Dee enthused as she broke Dennis's broken gaze.

Dennis felt a confusing sting of jealousy when Dee redirected her attention to Charlie. How much was she hiding from him? How much did she know? He watched his friend and his sister talk, too caught up in his own pondering to really pay attention to their conversation.

Eventually, the café began to close. Charlie and the twins walked out into the chilly night. "Hey, Dee, uh, if you want, we can keep talking about this back at my apartment," Charlie offered as he wrapped his shivering arms around himself.

"No," Dennis interjected firmly, causing both Dee and Charlie to look at him with startled confusion. He cleared his throat. "No, Charlie, I, uh... I need to talk to Dee. Maybe at her apartment. Alone."

"Oh," Charlie said gravely. "Oh, dude, don't be mad about her poem -"

"I'm not," Dennis reassured. He smiled at Charlie. "Just go on home. Okay, bud?"

Charlie glanced at Dee with concern, but when she just shrugged, seemingly unconcerned, he took that as confirmation that it was okay for him to leave. He shivered until he arrived in his warm apartment, grateful that the walk was rather short.

"That was some poem," Dennis said quietly as the two of them began to walk to Dee's apartment. "You really just winged it?"

Dee turned to grin proudly at her brother. She nodded.

"I had no idea," he murmured in awe.

"That I'm a poet?"

"That is impressive," Dennis conceded. "But I was referring more to the actual poem. Have you ever experienced it?"

"What?"

"Mania. Because you pretty much nailed it, Sweet Dee."

Dee smiled in appreciation of Dennis's praise, but also in sympathy. "No," she said quietly as she unlocked the door of her apartment and led him inside. "I haven't." She shut and locked her door as she tossed her keys onto the table. "Why'd you want to come home with me?" she asked as she sat down on the couch. "Just to ask me that?"

Dennis sat down next to her, facing her in such a way that their knees were touching. He placed his hand on her far knee. He could feel his heart stuttering in his chest. He decided to just go for it. He swiftly grabbed the back of her neck beneath the comforting curtain of her soft hair as he fit his lips to hers, pouring his vulnerability and pain and gratitude into the kiss that he deepened as his sister whimpered into his mouth. He grabbed her by the thigh as he maneuvered himself to lay on top of her. He rubbed his throbbing erection against her denim-clad thigh.

"Dennis," Dee panted when his mouth finally left hers. "What are you doing? Why? Why are you doing thi-"

"Because," he whispered as he watched his own tears drip onto his sister's angular cheeks, "I'm already broken."

"Dennis, this - this is wrong. This won't fix you."

"No," he murmured in agreement. "But it'll heal me. Just for tonight. Just once, baby girl. It'll make me feel whole. You're the only one. You're the only who can do this for me. Please, Sweet Dee." Dennis lifted the hem of his sister's shirt up to expose her breasts. He caressed both of them as he whispered, "I need this. I need you."

Dee could only gaze at him with sympathy as she felt herself become increasingly aroused. "I'm not doing this for my enjoyment," she stated, although she knew that was at least partly a lie.

"I know," Dennis said softly as he smiled weakly through his tears in his decision to play along.

"I'm doing this for you," she reasoned, slightly thrilled by the rush of power she felt at being his choice of salvation.

Dennis nodded as he teased her nipples.

Dee moaned. "I'm doing this because you're broken."

"Yeah," he agreed breathily. "That's right, Sweet Dee. Your little baby brother's broken. Need you to fix me."

Dee snickered. "You're literally two minutes younger."

Dennis rolled his eyes as he sharply pinched her nipples to scold her a bit.

Dee gasped as her blood rushed to her clit at the abrupt sensation in her breasts. She suddenly felt a considerable shift in the dynamic as her brother grinned down at her, victoriously pinching and teasing her tits. She whimpered, stubbornly refusing to voice what she truly desired.

"Want me to fuck you?" Dennis asked as if he'd read her mind.

Dee bit her lip and nodded fervently.

Dennis moaned loudly as his hands left Dee's tits to free his cock. He hastily flung every accessory and article of clothing onto the floor of his sister's living room. He quickly undressed Dee, as well. The overhead light in the ceiling caused her pale body to glow, basking it in light that made her look almost angelic, her bright blond hair contributing to his vivid imagination. "My angel," he whispered as he ran his fingertips down her body, over every ridge of bone until he reached her pussy. He slipped two fingers inside and immediately began thrusting them.

"Oh, FUCK!" Dee gasped as her thighs began to quiver.

Dennis took that as his cue to withdraw his fingers. He held himself steady as he smoothly slid inside her. "Jesus Christ," he breathed. If she didn't want this as much as he did, at least her ridiculously wet pussy sure as fuck did. He soon set a bruising pace, their sharp hipbones colliding almost painfully every time he thrust down into her. He supported himself on his elbows on either side of Dee's body as he buried his face between her breasts, enjoying the way her heartbeat anchored him, made him feel secure, understood, enjoying the way that it made him feel shared. For the first time since they were conceived, he was one with her. He shouted into her glistening skin as he came.

Dee gripped her brother's sweaty hair tightly with both hands as the feeling of him filling her pussy with his seed pushed her towards her own orgasm. "Ohhhhhhhh...!" she whimpered loudly as she clamped down hard on his thick, pulsing cock. She gripped it mercilessly until he began to soften, both of them panting as they came down from the high.

Dennis lifted his face, propping his chin upon his sister's sternum to look up at her. He waited until she met his eyes to ask nervously, "Um... Are we... okay?"

"What do you mean?"

"Like... You don't hate me for this?" he asked with a slight wince.

Dee ran her fingernails gently over Dennis's scalp. She smiled as his eyes fluttered and as he sighed softly in contentment at the feeling. "Did it heal you?"

"Mmm." Dennis pressed his lips to Dee's skin and placed a gentle kiss on her body. "A little," he murmured as he turned to rest his cheek below her clavicle. He wasn't sure if she believed him or not, but he chose to believe that she did. He believed it, after all.