The end of class bell rings and thus the end to my day. It wasn't absolutely awful as I expected, but it did have a few rough patches.
I travel out into the parking lot, seeing my brother surrounded by his senior football friends, Kai included. I can't help but notice Madison so obviously trying to catch their attention, especially Kai's. One second, she's flipping her hair over her shoulder and looking out toward them, and the next, she's laughing, hoping that she's loud enough for them to hear. Does that ever work?
That’s when I feel Matt pull back my shoulder and rotated me to face him. I see the other guys staring and smirking at me, a few winking in my direction. Kai's face looks, by far, the most interesting. I'm not aware it's possible to look that tense and care-free at the same time. I would've thought they were independent events.
“Alex, why don’t you ride with us.” A statement that totally caught me off-guard.
Don't worry, he's your brother, he wouldn't kill you. He can be irritating and his parents are messed up but I don't think he's homicidal... is he?
Ridiculous notions my brain begins concocting. Reassuring myself that he wouldn’t throw me out of the car halfway, I accept his offer and make my way into the car, Matt following suit, as does Kai.
As we pulled out, I glance at the side mirror to see Madison seething, stomping around to her car door and slamming it shut once she was inside. I also hear the senior guys whistle and laugh a bit as we leave - such children. I also see the football guys from my year, Aidan and Kyle, fixated on the car as we pull away. All in all, a lot of eyes, as you could tell. School is so boring it has dulled their minds so the only fun thing to do is stare at a car.
Tension fills the air as silence plagues the car. I sit gazing out the window, going out of my mind in this twenty-minute car journey. My thoughts run free in the nothingness. So, naturally, I decide to break it, “when are you planning on chucking me out the car?” Matt chuckles at my question, and I see a slight smirk from Kai too.
“What makes you say that?” Matt inquires, still with a grin on his face. I can't tell whether it's a sly one, a plotting one. Matt's always had this cheeky lop-sided grin that makes him look all childish and mischievous.
“Because you offered me a ride. I didn’t think that even possible for you,” I respond, still looking out the window. “Are you really my brother?” That earns another giggle from Matt.
“What? You can’t just be grateful for me giving you a ride? You have to go and make me what to throw you out of this moving car?” I smirk and say no more. After a short while, Matt says, “I saw you sitting with those sophomore football players, what are their names?” He nudges Kai, taking one arm of the steering wheel to do so.
“Aiden and Kyle,” Kai replies, reluctantly. It sounds as though he is gritting the names through his teeth, barely being able to say them. He has a serious social problem. What? Just because he's a tough guy he can't say anything more than a few words? How he was offered the captaincy, I don't know. I can just imagine his leadership now...
"You, left, you right, go!" Kai grunts. No one understands what the hell he is saying and they lose the game.
I don't know anything about football as you can tell.
“Right, yeah, what did they want?” Matt said, turning his attention back to me.
“I was just sitting with them. I can’t sit?” I say, sounding agitated. Sitting, I believe, is a fundamental right. I don't know a person who doesn't like to sit. Why do I get so worked up about stupid things? Probably to do with him.
“Jeez, Lex, don’t get all defensive. You’re going to tell me if they try anything though. We are going to have words,” he says, with a sly grin on his face, then peering over to Kai, probably asking him to join in on 'this talk'.
Words? Everyone knows what that's code for. Stop being a pussy and say 'beat them the fuck up'.
“If I don’t tell you?” I retort and I notice Kai’s jaw clench from the corner of my eye. Matt just scoffs.
“We’ll find out and break their legs,” Kai replies, body still tense and unmoving. And both boys were silent the rest of the way.
By the time we got back, I start cooking dinner, checking in on dad who is still passed out from last night. He must have gone at it hard. I call ‘dinner’ and hear Matt and Kai shuffle down the stairs towards the table.
I feel like their mom. Ew, imagine being Kai's mom. I can't find my son attractive at all. Good-looking, but not in a sexual way. Oh, shit, not that I look at him in a sexual way. You know what, never mind.
I’m already sitting down, awkwardly shutting out my idiotic thoughts. Matt takes the seat diagonal and Kai sits directly in front of me, his eyes catching mine. And don’t leave mine until he starts eating, every so often peering up at me.
He made me uncomfortable in a not-so-good way. Like a... tingling way. Not any way I ever want to be feeling around my brother's best friend.
“This is actually good, shit, did you buy this?” Matt asks me, a serious look on his face.
“Fuck you. No, I didn’t buy it. From scratch,” I reply, proudly. The corner of Kai’s lips turn upwards. I can't stop myself from saying something impulsive and confrontational. Those two words would describe me in a nutshell. “Something you want to add, Walker?”
Kai looks up at me, and smirks, “damn, you sure like picking fights, huh?” Wow. I almost become speechless. He said words. In a normal way. A teasing way but at least it was clear.
“You don’t?” I counter, cocking my head to the side at him, remembering the bruised knuckles and split lips on multiple occasions. His eyes lock with mine again and for a moment, I never want this feeling to end.
“I start fights I know I can win. There’s a difference. Blindly throwing yourself into a fight is stupid,” he states, leaning back in his chair, with that same care-free tense look he does. An art form, truly.
He's an art form. What?! Why would you even say that?! Urgh!
“You’re calling me stupid now?” By this time, Matt leaves the table, taking the plates to the sink and washing them while shaking his head.
“Yeah, if you’re reckless.”
“You don’t fucking know me. I’ve never lost a fight. I enter fights I know I can win too.” It sounds childish from my mouth but I shake the thought away.
“Sure you do, Lex. And talking to those pathetic boys will definitely get you into fights you can't win.”
"What is that supposed to mean?" I say, feeling rather defensive all of a sudden from his interest into my personal life.
"I wouldn't be talking to them if I were you," he replies, knowing he didn't answer my question, and me knowing he wouldn't.
“Bite me, Walker.” I cross my arms over my chest and huff. Kai smirks at this, lounging back in his seat. Matt returns to the table, sighing for an unknown reason. “What’s up with you?”
“How’s dad?” he asks me, pain in his eyes.
“Passed out. Still.” I know this is an uncomfortable subject for us. We have opposing views about our family. My parents sent Matt away; I don’t blame him for hating them. But I try to bridge the gap between us all, to pick up the pieces and solve the puzzle again. It’s not that simple though.
“Sorry, about this morning. I hear you do it every morning and I just don’t have the heart to help him. But I should help you.” He looks over at me and smiles. I smile back, feeling Kai’s eyes watching me intensely. I instantly get up from the table and head upstairs, falling flat onto my bed, burying my head into my pillow.