She sounded a bit like herself, a bit like an outdated version of herself, a bit like something pale, and copied, a half-successful replica that stared you in the face and though you found its corners shabby, its length and depth and width an inch off each, it was the only thing you needed: she was off. And she was off because of him. Troubled as well as she should be, all things considered, she faced him as some harrowing echo of his own state, at once filling Malcolm with guilt. He both wished he hadn’t noticed, and thought that a good slap in the face was sometimes necessary. He blinked.
She wanted to talk.
There wasn’t much of a reaction in him-- sure, dread sank in the pit of his stomach, and the hollow on his inside yawned as wide as a broad toothless mouth. But he blinked at her, almost defeated, not about to argue that logic, not about to try to amass the necessary energy. He just stared, even with a facsimile of surprise as her position mirrored his and in her behavior Malcolm continued to find eerie, uncanny resemblances with his person. He gave a nod. He thought it was a nod.
He still didn’t move. Just ducked his head, missing her grin, standing stuck on his spot like he also didn’t happen to have the energy necessary to perform that simple act. He stood, indeed in the defeat of his person against the much taller, even towering enemy of depression, until with the face of resignation and softness he looked at her--
“Well, that’s all fair,” he’d begin, mustering a faint smile, before nodding behind himself, motioning for her to walk in so he could close the door behind her.
Even she’d note it, he was certain. The silence. Without Annie, it seemed like every bit of life in this home was gone; there was no TV, no radio, no silly pop songs singing about the same sort of desperate teenage love that continued to move the younger and wandering in every nation-- in fact, it could be said that the air itself was stale. While it did look like he had opened the window at least a couple of times since Annie left for her trip, and the air itself didn’t smell any worse than you should expect of the city variety-- the atmosphere to it, however, that stale idleness of these usually lively surroundings, the pervasive silence that was unlike anything that this place had ever known, made it feel like the once goddess guardian that had presided over this home had died, and with it so had its life. Malcolm moved to close the door behind her, stood silently on the spot for a moment, before he said, “Come” in a soft voice, beginning to lead her away to the kitchen. Although his smile was nothing strong, it betrayed a distant motion of fondness that was married to her.
Malcolm would take them to the kitchen, or specifically through it into the living room area and there he’d sit himself down, with a shudder.
The eerie, long quiet of his home was so strong, it sounded, in his ears at least, as a very special kind of noise. On the couch Malcolm exhaled a long, heavy sigh, silent for a moment. He waited to be joined by her. When she did, or once she had, he turned a smile at her, crooked, and at least something that tried to be a bit more than its current pathetic self. It failed, and dwindled freely into a state of nothingness. Malcolm, with his soft defeat, just hung his head.
“I suppose I owe you an explanation.” Nothing in him even considered he should tell her. A detail too private, surely it belonged to just him, and Malcolm briefly argued with this stupid part of himself, emerging, five seconds later, victorious after a quick shout of oh, fuck you. Apparently, abuse of self-depreciation was the only way to deal with its fire; with one of your own. Malcolm briefly let the depression exist for him, taking deep, long breaths in the meantime that not a single one of them prepared him for what he was about to do.
His willingness, or rather the lack of it to talk was so obvious that Adie would need to wait for an honestly long few moments before he spoke. His hands slapped his knees, then cupped them, and he said---
“You… are family.” It didn’t sound like he believed it, but neither like he disbelieved. He was just staying something to experience its echo. He did, living in it briefly, and then he looked at Adie.
“I’m… Geoffrey Frederick Lestrange, my firstborn son with my first wife, died on July 9, exactly too many years ago. Which, if you have checked the calendar… you know it’s in two days.” His slow tone came to a stop, and Malcolm just helplessly squeezed his knees, looking somewhere on the floor. He said--
“And… I was… going to go visit his grave.”
He punctuated that with a nod. His throat went suddenly dry.
“And I, uh, was visiting Rupert’s grave just recently, Rupert Benedict Lestrange, the penchant for overtly complicated names is mine, who died on May 13--”
His tone felt rushed, wet from the tears that were pushing at his eyes, though not a single one of them would be Conan the Barbarian to breach the walls of his emotional abstinence and spill over. Malcolm took a long, ragged breath--
He nodded, again. His throat was tight so visibly it was a wonder he had managed to get the words out to begin with.
"That's it, Adie," he finished, turning at her a defeated, soft look.