"Y/N, what have I told you about putting your feet on my dash?" Ben scolded you, swatting your legs with the back of his hand.
"Sorry," you mumbled half-heartedly, adjusting your seatbelt.
"Why couldn't you just ride with mom to the game?"
"Ouch, Benjamin." You put a hand to your heart. "I'm extremely saddened to hear you don't want to ride with me."
"I'm extremely saddened to hear your jokes haven't gotten any better."
You frowned. "Who says I was joking?"
Ben glanced at you and cracked a small smile, then refocused on the road. "But seriously, did they force you to ride with me? You know, to bond or whatever?"
"Kind of, and they're going on a date before the game and I have to be there early anyway, so it just worked out like this."
"Hm," he hummed, tapping his thumbs on the steering wheel.
"Are you nervous?"
"Me? Nervous?" He laughed, sounding a bit bitter. "How could I be nervous?"
"I'm sorry," you whispered.
"Don't be. I was just kidding."
His normally calm aura returned. But you knew he wasn't joking.
"How do you deal with it all?" You asked.
"With all the pressure, and the expectations, and... and dad."
He shrugged. "It's not that hard. If I didn't love football the way I do, it would be too much. I really do love the game, and that makes it easier." His face fell. "But love only goes so far."
You didn't know how to respond to that, so you just stared forward at the pavement in front of you. Surprisingly, Ben kept talking.
"You know, sometimes I wish I was like you."
You almost laughed out loud. "Like me? I'm nothing to them, Ben. Nobody."
"You want that?"
"Sometimes, yeah. Be invisible instead of having the dreams that my father never accomplished on my shoulders. Kinda tempting."
"Sometimes I wish I was like you," you said in a small voice. "But then I remember you're an ass and I feel better."
"That was a better joke."
For the second time, you had no response, so you just sat there in the passenger seat of Ben's car, mulling over the conversation. Eventually, you reached the football field, and you quickly hopped out, eager to leave the stuffy cabin.
As your brother gathered his football gear, he called your name.
"I think that's the longest conversation we've had in years."
You chucked sadly. "Yeah, I think you're right. Maybe we did need to bond."
He smiled and gathered you into a bear hug, cutting off your oxygen, but the love that replaced it was worth it.