The questions about Clark (Reed’s stepbrother) had me thinking about how it would probably go between them both if they ever had the chance to meet. I ended up writing this. This bit won’t show up in the fic—but it’s fairly what it might be like, and fact remains that Reed’s dad won’t be coming to Parents’ Night.
Reed wondered who the person calling was—the number was unknown, and he usually didn’t get calls that he didn’t know, seeing as how he never gives out his number except to people whose numbers he had as well. This was unusual.
“Hey, this is Reed, right?” asked a male voice.
“Yeah…” Reed blinked, confused, not recognizing the speaker.
“Hi. This is Clark—Clark Sawyer? Lianna’s son?”
Reed sat up straighter. Interesting as it was that he introduced himself as his father’s new wife’s son (ergo, his stepbrother), most teenagers—mostly girls—would know who Clark Sawyer was—seeing as how he acted and was a member of a famous boy group as of the moment.
“Oh,” Reed breathed, a little startled. “Yeah, I remember.” Why was he calling? They hardly knew each other—while he often saw Clark in magazines or on TV, the first and last time Reed had ever seen him in person was last Christmas, when he glimpsed him leaving his father’s new house.
The popstar had nodded and smiled to him after the quick introduction, and Reed felt like a complete runt against Clark’s six-foot-five height and fully developed body which emphasized his strength. They barely exchanged words—Clark had to run out to go on live for some Christmas special or the other. So to have him call out of nowhere was a surprise.
There was a soft laugh at the end from the older boy. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you or anything—I know we don’t really talk. But mom told me to tell you that Winston won’t be able to come to your exhibit.”
“Oh…” Reed bit back the disappointment. His father had also missed his Upper West Side exhibit. He actually hadn’t come to see any of his presentations in several months, and he had promised to come to this one, on Parents’ Night.
And now he can’t again.
“That’s okay,” Reed smiled a little. “I know he’s busy.”
From the other end, Clark sounded a little awkward, “Well…Mom told me to tell you because…well I think she knew how much it meant to you that he was going to come.”
“No, yeah—I understand,” Reed said quickly, awkward. “I mean it…kind of happens all the time. Mom comes all the time, though, so…I have someone there.” Hilde always came to the exhibits. She adored displaying his paintings to the world and always dropped hints to magazines. His father was usually MIA and by now, no one asked.
A pause. “…listen. Maybe I can talk to Winston—”
“No!” Reed said quickly, panicking. “Please don’t do that. Seriously. I mean…as it is…we’re awkward when we talk face to face—”
“I know, I hear mom talking about how difficult it is to watch you two talk. She thinks it’s because…well…he hasn’t really been there lately. Doesn’t know what’s happening in your life.”
“He’s a busy man…” Reed murmured.
A snort from the other end. “I’ve seen busier. Nothing against Winston,” he added quickly, as though to make sure Reed took no offense.
Reed smiled. “It’s all right, Clark. Really.”
“Can I tell you something?”
“…you’re really bad at lying.”
Reed was glad Clark couldn’t see him, because he colored to his scalp. “What—”
“I know what a lie sounds like even when over the phone. I deal with enough fake people to be able to tell the difference.”
“Doesn’t change anything…” Reed said softly.
Clark paused. “Are you…going to be okay on Parent’s Night?”
“I told you, mom will be there. And dad hasn’t really gone in the past two years. Doesn’t make a difference.”
“All right. And okay, I won’t talk to Winston, if that’s what you want.”
“Thank you,” Reed breathed. He then realized something. “Hey, is it okay for me to be on the phone this long with you? Aren’t you busy or something? You’re supposed to be in LA for some TV interview right now, right?”
“Mm, my own publicity precedes me, I see. But no, it’s all right.” He hesitated briefly. “Family is important, you know.”
At this, Reed felt his face warm a little. “…you think of me as family?”
A laugh at the other end. “You sound so hopeful! I mean…it’s just that you’re at school, and I’m always out. We’ve never met. But yeah. You…kinda are. I don’t have a brother. And neither do you. And we’re connected through Winston. Close enough.”
Reed was smiling. “Close enough.”
Noise at the other end. Clark was muffled for a moment, and then he came back on. “Now I have to go. My manager is having conniptions because I’m not signing autographs for a hundred screaming girls.”
“Rough life,” Reed snorted.
“Better than crammed into a school filled with all-dudes and crazy academics.” Clark might have been smiling. “Bye, Reed. See you around.”
“See you.” Reed smiled.