Chapter 1 - "First, I'd like you to meet Carter."

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The author's note will explain all. Enjoy!


The morning broke into the sky, golden rays cutting into the room. The yellow tendrils curled across the floor and climbed the edge of the bed, creeping up on the occupant. But they didn't wake him because he was already awake.

Donovan stared at the ceiling, barely giving notice to the dawn. Though it was a double bed, he slept on only one side out of habit of growing up on a smaller mattress. The sheets were barely disturbed like he had laid down but never slept.

On the night stand, his alarm rang out. Without looking, he turned it off and threw back the blankets. He swung his legs off the bed and rested his hands on his legs, hands clasped.

The apartment was too silent. Even after six years the quiet wasn't natural. The shouts, commands, and crashes of rough housing boys should have filled the apartment. Instead, there was nothing, just a tomb of a place too big for one person.

Standing, he grabbed his phone and moved to the stretch of windows. D.C. was bathed in soft light as the sun rose from the horizon. Finding the right contact, Donovan put the phone to his ear. One ring chased after another until they cut off.

"This better be good," a rough voice said.

Donovan buried one hand into his sweatpants' pocket, staring out on the world that had been his home for so long but held no familiarity.

"I'm quitting," he said.

Clint let out a slow breath. Though they hadn't lived under the same roof in ages, Donovan could still imagine his older brother rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"You're not, but tell me why you are."

The list in Donovan's head was six years long, but there were only two reasons that popped into his head in that moment: the suffocating silence of the apartment and the monotony and immaturity that the day held for him.

He didn't say this though. He said nothing. To admit to that would be a weakness. Even the call was a form of weakness. When Donovan didn't answer, Clint spoke up.

"Link needs you," he said.

And there it was, the tie that couldn't be broken. Despite having reminded himself of this fact more than a thousand times, it was Clint's voice that reaffirmed it. It was like it was getting to easy to ignore the reminder himself.

"He does," Donovan agreed.

"Now more than ever."

Breathing in, Donovan rolled his shoulders and lifted his chin.

"Thank you," he said.

"Of course." There was a pause as Clint yawned. "I'll be in town soon."

The simple comment acted as an anchor.

"You have a specific date?" Donovan asked.

"I'll let you know when I do."

Donovan nodded. "I'll see you then."

"See you then. Oh and call mom, she's worried about you."

The edge of Donovan's lips curled. "She always is."

"Yes, but it seems she has a good reason to now."

"I'll call."


After a pause both brothers hung up. Bracing himself for the day, Donovan got ready.

As he stood in front of the mirror, tightening his tie, he tried not to feel like it was a noose. He slipped onto the navy blazer. Even in it's perfectly pressed state, the uniform did its job, dropping his age and portraying a lie. In it he looked like a seventeen-year-old who had no responsibilities and spared no thought for the future. Leaving his reflection behind, he moved to his pristine kitchen, made up of granite countertops, barely used appliances and no hint of personality.

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