Brotherly Bonding- 3

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I open the door, stomping my feet loudly over the mat, craning my neck to see if anyone is in the livingroom. I call a tentive, "Hello?"

I cross my fingers for a short second, squeezing my eyes shut. Hoping with all my heart I'll have another half hour at the most to myself before someone gets home. And that someone would be Tanner, the least energenic of the group.

"Hello?" I say one more time. A slow smile spreads across my face. Then, like an impending train in my vision, I hear a bedroom door thrown open and two pairs of stomping footfalls.

"Aaron!!!" Ben and Tyler call in unison, charging down the hall. Eyes wide, I side-step them, leaving Ben hugging the door and Tyler the coatrack. They shake off the impact and turn to me, grinning and yelling, "Hi! How was school?!"

I groan, ready to spring away if necessary. But no, a double team attack is their style; impossible to evade.

"You CAN'T be serious!" I whine as they drag me, each at an arm, to the couch. They squish me between them and continue to batter my ears with questions about my day. Grimancing, I try to elbow away: with no sucess. "What's wrong with you two?!"

"Oh, nothing's wrong..." Ben begins slyly.

"Just that Ashy told us we're not allowed to 'torture' you anymore, his words not mine," Tyler says lightly. "And we thought that was a little harsh! Isn't that right, Ben?"

"Yeah! So, we agreed to slow down. And just ask how your day was, politely, you know. Like so!" They both press in tighter, making me growl angrily.

"You are both idiots." I tell them darkly. "And Ben, you give blondes a bad name!"

"Ah!" He spits at me, offended.

"You can't talk to my cousin that way!" Tyler glares at me. I stare back determinedly. I won't be the one to break this time. No way. I'm not going to give in. I'm not going to look away. I'm not going to-

This time it's Ben that breaks, beginning to laugh and pulling away so I can breath. It's all a game of waiting, false seriousness and making the other laugh. I wasn't even trying to get Ben. His cousin sighs.

"Come on man!"

"Not my fault, he just showed up!" He points, chuckling. Tyler scoots back and waves innocently at a confused Devon. His hair is in a wild mess and his eyes are still mostly closed from sleep. He stares for a minute straight, then shakes his head and retreats to the kitchen for a frozen waffle.

I dart off the couch and follow him, smiling when the cousins complain.

"You do know it's four in the afternoon, right?" I tell the disoriented Devon. He grunts, scratching his bare chest, staring down at the toaster. Like a caveman hunting for waffles, I swear these guys are mentally unstable.

I hop up on the other counter, pushing some magazines out of the way. I can't keep my eyes from wandering. As I swing my legs, I find my gaze traveling to Devon and his half-nakedness. I don't really want to look away, though often enough I get to see sights like these. I can't help it- it's what I like to look at.

I close my eyes and twist a magazine in my hands. Is it true these feelings are wrong? I don't see a single thing wrong with it, even if I can't bring myself to say it out loud. But I have other reasons, like being outcasted by my only family and thrown out of the house.

Why would he do that? My brain asks myself. Why? Some of his very own friends enjoy the same sights, and have most likely acted much more than once on these same feelings.

If only Ash didn't seem so damn straight, it'd be hilarious if came out before I did. But no, I couldn't picture it. Wasn't his kind of thing.

"Eh. Stop destroying that mag, you don't know where it's been..." Devon says croakily, lifting his plate and sipping at a cup of coffee. I look down at the magazine in my hands, crying out and throwing it on the ground.

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