"It looks like our family has increased by one."
Raquel had said it so calmly, so happily, but Pacifica couldn't feel it. She couldn't feel as happy as her older siblings were. Especially Shannon, who seemed to be the most taken by Cin.
It wasn't that Pacifica hated Cin. It wasn't that she personally had any problems with the small, wild girl. There was something else that was inside of her, something that made her feel saddened when she looked at Raquel and Shannon sitting with Cin.
Oh, she knew that some things were thicker than blood, and that both Raquel and Shannon wouldn't hesitate to jump into the fray for her. But when she actually LOOKED at them, she knew what was wrong with her, and why Cin's presence bothered her the way it did.
It's because she looks like them, she realised, and I never will.
With her bright colouring, she could never pass for anything more than an adoptive child of the Casull family. Cin, though, looked like she was a Casull, in and out. The three of them, without Pacifica, seemed to mesh, and although she didn't hate Cin, it made her feel a little bitter.
After all, when was the last time Shannon had fawned over her the way that he fawned over Cin? Okay, perhaps when she had been attacked by those weird bug-things, but he had yelled at her then, and he never yelled at Cin.
And Raquel certainly hadn't played many games with her over the years. Alright …perhaps with the Soupies, that one time in Taurus, but that was because she had been feeling sad, not just for the fun of playing, like with Cin.
Pacifica stood in the doorway silently, watching the three of them trying to bake. Raquel stood calming over a bowl, while Cin tried to watch every move. Shannon was sitting nearby, his chin on his hand, looking a little bored, but watching all the same.
Perhaps it wasn't anything to do with anything. She just felt sad. She was so used to being the centre of attention that, perhaps, when someone else needed it more than she did, she missed it?
Growing up, the people in Sunday school always looked at her twice when she said her last name. "Casull?" They would echo. "You don't look like a Casull!" As if she didn't know that. As if she didn't see that, every morning, when she woke up.
But I AM a Casull, she thought, shutting her eyes for slightly longer than a blink. Mom and Dad loved me just as much as they loved Raquel-nee and Shannon-nii…
She looked over again, and saw that Cin was waving her arms and shouting out about something in her broken speech, pointing to a shelf that was several feet over Shannon's head. Moments later, a flour bag, which had been placed too close to the edge, dumped onto Shannon, and she and Raquel squealed and laughed.
Pacifica tried to fight the smile tugging at her lips, but found that she couldn't quite do it. She even heard herself giggle.
The sound seemed to give away her presence in the doorway, because all three looked over and stared at her. Shannon in particular glowered at her, in an especially floury way.
Pacifica laughed and pointed at him. "Only an old man like you would need that much flour, Shannon-nii!" she declared. She couldn't help it. The fact that he was just sitting there calmly, covered from head to chest in flour, and not moving, was too funny to ignore.
"What does one have to do with the other?" Shannon answered, grabbing the flour bag off his head. Both Raquel and Cin laughed again, Cin crying out in delight, "Shannon snowy!"
Pacifica crossed her arms and grinned at Shannon. "Because old men, as they age, go white!"
"I think you're just pulling things out of your…"
Raquel shot him a stern look and cut him off. "Don't say that word in front of Cin."
"Eh?" Shannon gave her a disbelieving look. "But I would say things like that in front of Pacifica all the time, and it didn't…"
Raquel stared at him. "Have you heard her speak lately?" she wondered.
Pacifica stomped her foot on the ground. "What's that supposed to mean? There's nothing wrong with how I talk!"
Raquel flashed a placating smile instantly. "Of course not, of course not."
Cin was using the hem of her skirt to try and wipe away the flour on Shannon's face as he argued, but was only succeeding in getting it into his eyes and mouth. Shannon briefly went cross-eyed, but seemed to lack the heart to tell the small girl that what she was doing was counter-productive.
"My," Raquel said mildly, "what a mess this has become."
Pacifica smiled faintly. True, this wasn't exactly what she wanted. She really had thought that things would be for the three of them alone. But perhaps that was too selfish. And there were ways to make this new situation work.
She walked over to the three, picked up the measuring cup of water from the counter, and declared, "No, no, Cin, THIS is how you clean Shannon-nii up!" And, with that, she dumped the water over his head in one huge splash.
"You little!" Shannon shouted, getting to his feet in one jump. Pacifica turned on her heels and started to run, laughing the whole time.
"Your feet are squishing as you run, old man!" she declared as she dashed away out of his grasp.
Some things change, she thought, but some things, like this…they stay the same.