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Author's Chapter Notes:
Originally for the April 2014 Day Girls Topic of "Tricks" but got far too long so put it here instead. :-)

Originally was going to be for the Day Girls topic of Tricks, but got far too long, so it will work just as well here


Mike stuck his tongue out slightly between his teeth and frowned in concentration.

Down it goes...

Up it comes...

Down ...

And ... Noooooooo!

The toy quivered, twisted, and fell, tangling the string slightly as it went. Mike bit his lip, picked it up in his other hand and laboriuously wrapped the string back around, ready for another try.

Down, up, down, up, down, up...

He smiled slightly, at least it was moving this time. His brother watched, wincing slightly as the yoyo nearly hit the ground more than once. It wasn't Mike's fault, he was just so little that any decent sized yoyo had to be lifted up slightly at the end of the roll, or it would catch and spin out of control. Charles really wanted to say to him that he'd be better to stick to his smaller toy yoyo, and just get used to that, but that really was too small and light to do many tricks, and the dream of Mike's life right now was to master every yoyo trick that his elders could do.

Steven, distracted by all the sudden changes he was going through, had lost his customary good temper, and after a few tries just told 'the kid' to leave tricks till he was older, and refused to help any more. He had ignored the flashing eyes of a hurt little brother's pride, and gone off to mooch around the outside of the San, trying to pretend that he was just walking for exercise. Charles suspected that it had more to do with the nurses sometimes sunbathing in the staff garden, and knew there wasn't much point in going with him. Those extra three years between them hadn't seemed to matter that much till recently, but now Stephen, with his half grown clumsiness, squeaky voice and uncharacteristic grumpiness, wasn't anything like as much fun as before.

So Charles had stayed behind, preferring to read a book in the hammock, or doze slightly. He'd normally have ignored the sounds, after all in their family there was ALWAYS someone around. But finally the Whizz-clunk, Whizz, Whizz, Clunk, interspersed with sounds of Mike's ever increasing frustration, had caught his attention enough to make him go in search of his brother. It wasn't much of a step for gentle amendable Charles to find himself appointed as tutor, and swiftly find that doing something was nearly always easier than trying to explain to someone HOW to do something.

He watched as Mike got into a rhythm and started to grin at his obvious delight in his success. So many tricks needed a good momentum and string tightness, but the basics of a really good yoyo technique were far too boring for Mike to want to stick to getting that right before moving on. He kept trying to do advanced tricks, desperate to be able to do anything that Steve, Len and Chas could do, but not old enough yet to understand the years of playing around and getting used to how the tricks worked that his siblings had gone through. Not to mention the simplest obstacle, that he just was too short to get a good run going. Winding the sting a little round his finger and getting him a shallow box to stand on to get those extra inches had helped a lot, and Charles was thankful not to keep having that horrible Click, Click. Clatter as Mike had chipped the ground then crashed into it on the end of most of the yoyo runs.

Charles had done his best, quietly explaining that you had to get the basics sorted before you could get the other tricks to work, but had had to let Mike find out for himself, through various bruises from poorly timed yoyo flinging. Now, still smarting after a particularly painful hit just above his eye brow, Mike was finally listening.

Up...

Down...

Up...

Down...

"Ok Mike, try now..."

Up...

Down...

Up...

Out at an angle...

Back...

Out...

Back...

Mike's eyes gleamed. It had worked ! Finally ! He concentrated on a few more goes, then tried to stop the yoyo half way, sure that now he would suddenly be able to do it, despite all of Charles' words to the contrary. The yoyo twitched, for a tantalising moment looked like it would stop, then twisted and fell, losing the tension in the string and nearly tangling.

"Drat it!" Mike couldn't help saying, then looked up guiltily at his elder brother, sure that he'd be told off for the word. Charles was too absorbed in how to teach him to bother with slang, and took the yoyo for a moment, trying to work out by doing the tricks, how he did them, in order to tell his brother. In his absorption, he stuck the tip of his tongue out of his mouth in exactly the same way as his brother had earlier. Not that Mike noticed, he was far too focussed on the whirring, whirling objects and it's stops and starts to look at Chas's face.
He fought the urge to ask for the yoyo back, understanding that this wasn't a typical older brother trait of being annoying and taking a longer go than they should. Chas was trying to help him, and Mike was starting to realise that this whole thing was far more complicated than he had ever realised. He had moments of being tempted to give up, go and run around or climb somewhere to relieve his frustration, but he wasn't going to let this beat him. His brothers and Len must have started out finding it just as difficult as him, and now they could do at least 30 tricks, looking as though it was totally effortless. Even Con and Margot could do a few, though Con wasn't really that interested and Margot didn't have the patience for it. Mike liked the idea of being able to do something that Margot couldn't, she could be so patronising and older sisterish sometimes. So he fought his urge to change to a different, more instantly gratifying hobby, and watched his brother with intense concentration.

Joey looked out of the window, smiled and motioned Jack to come and watch. They grinned at the absorbed pair of boys, and settled down to watch the tutorial, impressed with how calmly and quietly Chas was getting his brother to listen.

"If only he could do that with other lessons!" Joey said with a shake of her head. "Mike is Margot all over again, just cannot see the point of anything involving sitting still."

"Oh, I don't know." Jack replied, watching his third boy try again and again to master the techniques. "He's growing up a bit, look how long he has stayed still to do this - must be a record !"

She nodded, and then went back to her mending, but Jack watched for a little longer. He never tired of seeing how his children seemed to constantly change in their friendships with each other as the years went on. He was taken back many years to Joey showing the triplets how to do their very first tricks, and then Len mastering one after the other, quiet patience winning out over Margot's more natural physical ability to control the string. Having found a book on the subject, she went far beyond anything Jack or Joey could do, and he was again reminded of finding her doing just what Chas was here, explaining and demonstrating over and over again to Steve what to do. He was tempted to go out and join them, try to show Mike his own pet tricks and techniques, but he held back. Chas had been a bit left out recently, with Steve growing up that little bit faster. Mike was always a lonely soul, being part way between the twins and his elder brothers, so this would be good for them both.

Unaware of the scrutiny, the brothers continued on their quest, practice, demonstrate, practice, demonstrate. Every whirr, whizz, stop and successful trick brought smiles to their faces and bricks in the building up of their friendship.

They had to stop when food was ready, but it had been a productive afternoon, and Mike felt a lot better. He looked thoughtfully at Chas, and decided perhaps he wasn't such a boring brother compared to big exciting Stephen after all. Catching his eye at the table, he passed an extra nice bit of food over to him, despite the fact that he really really wanted it for himself. Chas grinned, and thanked him, taking the offering even though he was nearly full. Mike was so rarely this calm and friendly to him, he knew he needed to make the most of it.

But that was brothers and sisters. Pull your hair one minute, help you out the next. Len had taught Stephen, Stephen had taught him and now he was teaching Mike. One day maybe Mike would teach Felix and Felicity, and onwards the cycle would go. That was the way it worked in a large family, and Chas was quietly proud of doing his bit, passing on the lessons down the line. It had been a good afternoon.



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