Early the next morning, Shark was woken up by a rapid knock on the door.
The timing surprised him, since he hadn’t realized he’d slept in that long; he hadn’t changed out of his clothes, or even turned the light off.
“You awake, Law-Bro?” He heard Marc ask through the door.
“I am now,” he answered back, giving a sigh before he did.
Marc let out an “Uhhhh…” before clearing his throat to properly speak. “Can you come downstairs? We’d like to talk to you.”
“Is something wrong?”
“Just…We’ll tell you when you get down there.”
Shark hesitated a little before he heard his brother-in-law’s footsteps recede toward the stairs. Then he sat up and stretched out, hearing the usual cracking noises as he did so.
Once he felt sufficiently stretched out, he opened the door and followed Marc.
“Harwood…” Polly whispered to her father-in-law, her already raspy voice sounding just a bit more compromised. “Harwood, wake up. Shark’s here.”
Harwood just kept snoozing away in his wheelchair, his head nodding off lightly while he did.
The others tried to ignore his light snoring as Shark came downstairs.
“What’s going on, Marc?” He asked when he saw everyone sitting and standing in various places in the room. “Did something happen back in Twinbrook?”
Marc just shook his head. “Nah, nothin’ like that. Just…just go sit down at the table.”
While he did, Polly managed to rouse Harwood from his sleep.
“Eh? Oh, sorry about that, Polly. Guess I’m still trying to get all the birthday after effects out of my system.”
“You’re saying that to a woman who has to take pills for narcolepsy. Keep that in mind.”
She then went quiet as Cressida spoke up behind her. Cressida tried to ease the tension in the air by smiling at Shark.
“We were going to wait until Big was here with the rest of us, but he had to go get Laney from my mother’s,” she said. “He’ll have to give his piece later.”
Shark nervously looked around the room at all of them again. “What piece? What’s going on?”
“I’m just going to come right out and say it: Shark, we’ve been very worried about you.”
There was a bit of silence then, before Shark responded.
“How come?” The question sounded rather childish when he said it.
It was Harwood that spoke next.
“Look, Shark. We’re not idiots. We know you’re upset about something, and I think we know what it is.”
He looked off to the side for a bit, then went on. “But I doubt I’d be a very good Yuèfù if I just randomly started making assumptions, so you’ll have to tell us what’s going on.”
Now, Romeo stood up off the floor, preparing to give his two cents.
“Yeah, DJ! What’s going on?” He fidgeted a little. “You homesick or something like that? If you’re homesick, we can always bring you home if that’s what you want-”
“Shut it, you,” Harwood interrupted Romeo. “Let him speak, now.”
Shark frowned a little more, before he responded. “It’s not that I’m homesick, though I guess I am a little bit of that; it’s just…”
He swallowed a bit, practically forcing himself to say it:
“I get the feeling you guys don’t actually want me here.”
Everyone was silent for a few moments. Then, Polly stood up, and walked over to Shark. Romeo did the same, albeit leaning against the table when he did.
“That’s not true!” Polly sounded a little choked up, her voice rising a bit in tone and pitch. “Why would you think that?”
Now Shark couldn’t really give a coherent answer. He just shrugged awkwardly as he tried giving his reasons.
“I don’t know. I guess it’s because you’re all doing fun stuff without me, and I figured that meant none of you wanted me around.”
Cressida said her piece once more. “We didn’t know you wanted to come with us. You never asked, so we thought you didn’t want to.”
“But what if none of you guys are home?”
Behind him, Marc spoke again. “You can call one of us, Law-Bro. Just give one of us a call, and we’ll come and get you.”
“Yeah!” Romeo piped up now, nodding. “Big, Cressida, and I can drive. We would gladly bring you along for whatever plans we have, DJ.”
“I don’t want to be a bother-”
His reason was cut off by Polly’s voice this time. “It’s not a bother at all! If anything, we would love it if you came along to spend time with all of us.”
“Trust me, Shark,” Harwood said next. “If we didn’t want you here, you’d know it; I doubt we’d have bothered to have you come here if you were going to be an inconvenience.”
Cressida talked once more after the others. “See? You’re not a ‘bother’ to us. We’re all happy you’re here. We’d love it if you spent more time with all of us. All you have to do is say so.”
After hearing all of them out, Shark was left speechless. He looked down at his hands, trying not to cry. Instead, he could hear Marc stand up off the staircase.
“C’mere, Law-Bro,” he told him. Reluctantly, with the eyes of everyone else on him, Shark did so.
“You hearing all this, Shark? Do these sound like people who don’t want you here?”
“I don’t know-”
But Shark didn’t finish, when he felt a pair of hands clasp onto his upper arms.
“We do want you here; we do want you to enjoy the time you spend here in Bridgeport. We get the circumstances weren’t the best ones, but it ain’t like you can control what goes on in my bro’s head.
“Look, Law-bro. You’re family, and we all love you, all right? You don’t got to assume we don’t want to spend time with you. If you want to come along to one of our adventures, or just need or want something, all you gotta do is ask, ‘kay?”
Shark still looked a bit apprehensive, but nodded. “Okay. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Awesome!” Marc patted him before pulling away. “You know, once Big gets back with Laney, we’re all gonna go see a movie together.”
Realizing what Marc was trying to do, Shark gave him a wide smile.
“Can I come with?”
Marc snorted, along with a few chuckles from everyone else. “You bet your ass you can!”
Now joining in on the laughter, Shark was able to realize that maybe his stay here wouldn’t be so lonely after all.