Another A/n: They are younger than their actual age in this timeline. I was thinking around 15 years. I'll also try to post two chapters at a time :)
"It's too cold for you here," Grayson warned as he relentlessly tried to comfort a shivering Ethan. They were trudging through the thick blankets of snow, which made their way back home more difficult.
"No, it's okay." Ethan persisted, attempting to escape Grayson's worried protests. He was rubbing his bare hands together and blowing warm air into them to avoid frostbite.
"Let me hold your hands," Grayson grasped both of Ethan's freezing hands. The older brother retracted his hands carefully, not wanting to hurt the others' feelings. He didn't enjoy physical contact from anyone, not even his family or friends. It was nothing personal, that's just how it was.
Grayson's cheeks flushed pink; why did he think Ethan would ever want to touch him, let alone hold his hands? Ethan didn't enjoy any displays of intimacy with people, so why would his own brother be an exception?
Ethan unlatched the back gate of their cozy brick home. They made their way through the spacious back yard where they had built a large treehouse in the ancient oak tree behind the house, although it's been awhile since they spent time in there.
Ethan was the first to open the glass sliding door that led into the living room. The boys slid their feet against the mat before removing their bulky jackets, snow-sprinkled beanies and wet shoes and entering the family room.
They were instantly greeted by a smiling, curly-headed boy. The sandy blond locks bounced over his eyes with every excited hop. Heath was barely a year older than the twins, but his maturity level was at about 5 years old.
"Hey guys. Where'd you head off to?" He asked curiously, cocking his head to the side in confusion. Grayson noticed that Heath's eyes never left Ethan as he spoke, even if the question was directed to both of them. No surprise there.
"We were just hanging out at the playground." Ethan answered, distractedly. His attention was elsewhere, and Grayson could tell by the way his voice seemed flatter than normal. He appeared to be searching for something in the far distance. But Heath was oblivious to everything.
"Oh cool, looking for something?" Ethan's eyebrows shot up. "Huh?"
"You went to the playground to look for something?" He clarified. "No- I was, we weren't...." Ethan trailed off as if he was thinking hard about the question. "E!" Grayson called for his brother in concern.
"Sorry." Ethan apologized sheepishly, his cheeks furiously heating up. He glanced at the boys one more time before he curiously walked towards the steps, heading towards where his full focus was drawn. He didn't even pay attention to Heath's voice or Grayson's suspicious stares, the obnoxious sounds coming from the TV, the keys clinking together and beeping of the house alarm as someone unlocked the front door.
Heath realized Ethan was retreating from the conversation to head upstairs, so he walked away to flop on the couch, turning the channel to cartoons and tapping his foot against the wooden table that was next to the arm of the couch.
Grayson remembered a time when Heath had been so infatuated with Grayson, similar to how he was with Ethan now, but decided that he had gotten bored of the small, quieter boy and moved onto someone more loud-spoken and exciting as Ethan. (Or at least he was on his good days)
Grayson wanted to follow Ethan to see where he was headed, but Ryan had walked into the dining room with heavy bags of groceries in both hands, and plastic-wrapped napkins balanced on top of his neat mess of golden-blond hair. Ryan's bright eyes lit up when he saw his younger brother. Or at least, his foster brother. But they never referred to each other like that. They might as well have been family by blood, considering how close they all were.