AN: I let the band Radiohead be my muse for a while.
It might have been a bad idea. You be the judge.
...btw, rating should go up in later chapters. Nothing big in this chapter, though. Just subtle things.
Jaime was the pretty one.
Sure, our older brother, Hale, and I were handsome enough, but Jaime was the only one of us who could be considered 'pretty'. He had that certain air about him that brought girls running and reserved spews of affection from our mother. Yeah, Jaime was the pretty one.
All of the girls he sometimes brought with him when he came home reminded us of this fact. I'd had girlfriends, yeah, but not near as many nor as often as Jaime did.
I long ago came to the conclusion that Jaime is a complete and total manwhore.
I once came home to find him sitting on the living room couch, 'passionately' attempting to suck some girl's face off, his hands working at her shirt buttons. I froze and gaped. He had the gall to do it right in the middle of the day, and in the fucking living room. Also known as the first room you see when you walk into the house.
As soon as Jaime noticed me, complete revulsion on my face, the two swiftly broke apart and composed themselves with squeals of surprise, the girl standing up and smoothing out her blouse. By then, my older brother instincts had kicked in and I was yelling, grabbing Jaime by the shoulders and shaking him, shouting for the girl to just get the fuck out and what would have happened if it had been Mom or Dad who'd walked in? Huh?
If it'd been either of our parents to discover him in such a compromising position, he would have been fucked six ways from Sunday, any and all favoritism aside.
Our parents had tempers that could be enflamed...rather easily. Even the smallest things could set them off and send them hurtling into a shouting match, and sometimes their voices weren't the only things they threw.
In the end, I half-heartedly lectured Jaime, both of us mentally thanking god once again that it was me who was lecturing him. Mom's lectures consisted of slaps between tear-filled shrieks, and Dad's...well, Dad's weren't exactly 'lectures', unless a lecture was something that made you not able to see straight for a week.
That night, when Mom and Dad got home around the same time, they were yelling at each other right as they got in the door. The fight, something about the cost of the house or bills or something stupid and miniscule, continued for hours as we three brothers sat in the basement and mumbled about nothing important.
They were in love, once. The proof is sitting on the mantle. Pictures.
They're pictures of our parents on their wedding day. Mom's smile isn't fake and her hair isn't bleached; it's a nice, light brown color. Her cheeks aren't hollow, either. They're full and blushing and not yet hindered by wrinkles. Dad looks different, too; for one, he's grinning and he doesn't seem to have a care in the world. He's also not yelling at anyone. Not yet.
My favorite has to be the one where they're dancing, holding onto each other and beaming. It might have been their first dance, I don't remember. The last time anybody ever talked about the photos was three years ago, when we had just moved into this house and Hale was unpacking them from their box and wiping them clean of dust.
I'd been sitting on one of the couches, attempting to read a magazine when he'd started talking, about the pictures and the dirt and the fact that they'd been just thrown in a box with no thought at all. I'd looked over the top of my magazine and raised an eyebrow at him, asking why he even bothered unpacking them anyway. I was sure Mom and Dad forgot about them years ago. He'd shrugged and went back to work, and I went back to reading.
Back in the present day, from my spot in front of the mantle, I frown and wipe away a trail of grime that'd gathered over the years on one of the pictures. Mom is smiling and pretty and Dad is holding her close and brushing his lips against her cheek.
Yeah, they were in love. Once.
Jaime is almost always gone when I get home from school. He's smart; he knows not to be there when Mom and Dad get home around 4:30. That's when the shouting matches usually happen. I just walk in and stay in my room until about 6:30 or so, that's when things die down and somebody starts making dinner.
Sometimes Hale is home, and I find that he makes better company than my bedroom walls or some magazine. The main thing about Hale is that one day he won't shut up, and the next he'll be somber and silent and won't talk to anybody, save for a few words. I like that about him; the randomosity of it.
Usually I just sit on his bed and watch him while he sits at his computer. Some days he'll tell me about every little thing he reads, and other days I'm the one rambling while he listens and nods. It's a comfortable system we've worked out.
On the off days where we're both not feeling talkative, we'll sit on the floor in front of his stereo and play something, being careful to make sure we don't disturb Mom or Dad. Sometimes it's a rock band, sometimes an easy listening disc. I always mumble about why he even bothers collecting CD's anymore, since nobody listens to them.
"Except us." he'd reply, adjusting the volume or reading the back of the CD case or leaning back against his bed and sighing.
To humor him, I burn a few CD's for him, mostly consisting of songs I know he likes but doesn't have on a real CD. The next time I get home and find him sitting in front of his speakers, I grin and hold up the disks, shaking them in his face teasingly.
"And you're the one who said why bother with them..." he mutters as he puts them in the stereo and the music starts. We settle back against the side of his bed, falling into our comfortable silence as the speakers pulse with song.
'Drift all you like, from ocean to ocean, search the whole world...it'll only make you more alone.'
"Mmm...how'd you know I liked this song?" he says suddenly, and I blink at him a few times before shrugging. The question really didn't need an answer.
"'You're my man of war.'" he mumbles sleepily in time to the song, and I hum contently.
An hour later finds the CD on its last song, and Hale leaning against my shoulder, eyes closed and breath steady. My foot is nudging the speaker, the vibrations from it traveling through my foot. It's nice, I decide.
'Don't talk politics, and don't throw stones...living in a glass house.'
I mouth the words as the song continues, my eyes drooping. The vibrations are nice, the song is nice, the warm weight on my shoulder is nice...and I'll be damned if sleep doesn't sound nice, too. I'm too tired to think of more adjectives at the moment.
Jaime finds us forty-five minutes later, eyeing us strangely as he says that Mom's prepared pasta, and that we'd better hurry the fuck up or she'll throw a fit and break something. She doesn't like to wait.
We're foggy eyed as we awake, and I realize the CD player's making a weird scratching noise. Cursing, I remove the CD and hope it's not ruined, as I rather liked it and apparently Hale did too. We eventually stumble down to the dining room, and Mom's got the table set, her placemats and silverware out and organized. The whole dining room's got this red tint; she's changed the decor because it's autumn now and she likes decorating things.
The other day, she painted the whole living room red and bought new leather couches, just so it would look 'fall-ish', as she said. Dad threw a fit at the cost, and another shouting match happened. Dad was close to throwing a bucket of paint at Mom when Jaime broke it up, begging them to stop.
Now I'm sitting at the table, and Hale's next to me, nudging my foot and gesturing towards the other end of the table at our parents. They look peaceful; there must not have been a shouting match today, or else the screams would've woken us up, surely.
I don't like the food; this pasta thing that Mom's cooked up. It's a bit stale. I feel like gagging--but that would disrupt the rare order of the table. So I move along from chewing stale noodles and just concentrate on what's going on at the table.
Jaime is talking now. "...fell asleep, didn't you?"
Hale just nods and chews his pasta, looking down at his plate. Dad snorts.
"It's because they both stay up so late, because of that goddamn computer."
"I don't have a computer." I say, and Dad simply replies, "Good."
Hale just shakes his head, still staring down at his food. Something about the pasta noodles must be fascinating him.
"I can't sleep."
I blink, broken out of my reverie by a voice. What? I sit up, and see Hale outlined in the doorway.
"What the fuck, Hale?" I say, rubbing my eyes. They were adjusting to the sudden light; Hale had flipped the light switch and the once dark room was now illuminated with a harsh brightness.
"I said, I can't sleep," he repeats, staring blankly at me.
I just stare back. What? "And what do you want me to do about it?"
He looks down, sheepish; before he grins up at me with a charisma I could never manage this late.
"...listen to music with me?" he suggests cheerfully. Chipper moron.
"Are you serious?" I glower at him, not amused. His grin falters a bit, and I can't help but feel a little bit guilty. I guess I can continue my thoughts while listening to music, can't I?
I grumble as I roll out of bed and pull on my pajama pants, stumbling over to my dresser and picking up the CD we'd listened to earlier that day.
Hale looks like Christmas had just come early, and a smile can't help but tug at my lips. What an airhead.
We fumble through the dark kitchen and hallways to his room, the sparse moonlight seeping through the windows doing little to help. I calculate that I ran into a wall about six times, Hale tripped over his feet twice, and we both nearly fell down the stairs as we walked down them. Hale's room was in the basement and mine upstairs, facts that weren't all too convenient.
Eventually, we get there, and suddenly we're both on the floor, leaning against the bed as the room fills with the soft sounds emitting from the stereo. It's the first song on the CD again, that one that makes Hale sleepy and giddy all at the same time.
"You're my man of war." he mumbles happily, and I can't help but join in as he starts humming in tune with the song.
I wake up with Hale's head in my lap, and I'm not quite sure how it got there.
When Jaime stumbles into the room looking for me and shouting that we were going to be late for school, he stops and gives Hale and I that strange look again. I can't quite describe it, probably will never be able to.
When I woke up earlier, I didn't have the heart to shake Hale off, so his head's still in my lap, his pale hair drifting upwards with each breath he takes. I know I'll be never be able to make it to school in time if I don't go now, so I gently push him off and stand up, amazed that he's still asleep when Jaime and I creep out of the room and upstairs.
Because Jaime was waking me when he should have been waiting outside, he missed his bus. I'm less than thrilled as he climbs into the passenger seat in my car and starts throwing me glowers and more of those strange looks.
"I wouldn't be here now if you'd been in your room--you know, that place where your alarm clock is--and you'd woken up on time."
I don't reply, just keep looking forward with my eyes on the road. I rarely ever drive Jaime to school, he prefers riding the bus. I, however, hate that fucking thing and every little brat that rides it. So I drive solo to school everyday, gas prices be damned.
"Why were you in Hale's room?"
I didn't plan on sleeping there, anyway. I was going to wait until Hale fell asleep and then sneak back upstairs, but it didn't exactly work out that way. I don't even remember falling asleep.
"Hello?" Jaime says, dragging out the 'o'. I clench the steering wheel tighter and continue looking forward.
"Hey, you fag, look at me." And I snap.
"Damnit Jaime, I'm trying to drive here, so unless you want me to drop your ass off at the slums and see how long your pretty face lasts there, I suggest you shut the fuck up."
Heh. I think I hit a nerve. He looks like he's been slapped across the face. Twice. By Mom. I smirk and look forward, certain that he'll stay quiet now.
"...You're just upset because you don't have one."
I slam on the brakes, thanking every star in the sky that the road was completely empty at that moment. Jaime jerks forward and hits the glove box, but not too hard. I was only going about twenty-five miles an hour. Besides, he's a dumbass for not wearing his seatbelt anyway.
He rubs his shoulder as he stares, mouth agape, at me. "What the hell Se-"
"Get the fuck out. You can walk."
"But the school's ten miles from here!"
"I'm not fucking walking!"
"Then will you keep your mouth shut until we get there?"
"What the hell's your problem?"
I lean my forehead against the steering wheel and take a deep breath. I don't have to explain myself to him. And I won't.
"Just shut up."
He doesn't talk the rest of the drive.
Hale isn't there when I get home from school, a facts that irks me just a little bit. He must still be up at the college. Because his college was relatively close, he just drove there each day and saved money by living at home instead of at the dorms.
I drop my bag off in my room and head downstairs, wondering if Jaime's home. Probably not. My prediction was proved correct as I passed his room on the way to Hale's; it was empty and cold looking.
Hale's, however, always has this soft, warm quality to it, even when it's empty. He keeps these dark curtains up that block out the sunlight, so the room's dim and illuminated only by his computer's monitor screen. I sit at his desk, and idly study his desktop. It's a default one; a plain picture of a field full of flowers. Girly looking. I blink and stand up, walking over to the stereo.
It's a rather old one, there's some knobs missing and the large speakers have piles of books atop them. I press the 'eject' button and am pleasantly surprised to see that my CD's still in there. Oh yeah...I didn't take it out that morning, did I? I push the disc back in and press play, planning to just listen to a few songs and then go back upstairs and eat, maybe read a magazine or something.
I decide to skip the first song, Hale's 'Man of War' one, because it's weird hearing it with him not being there. The second song's this depressing piano song that I decide to try listening to. After about a minute and a scream of 'Never mind!' from the singer, I press the 'next' button and hope the next one's a little happier.
The third song's a hard rock song, and the guy's singing about his car. With a smirk and a shake of my head, I press the 'next' button once again.
I like this next one. 'The Awesome Sounds' or whatever it's called. Satisfied with my music choice, I stand up and reprimand myself as my hips start swaying just a little bit in time to the beat.
I fall down on Hale's bed and bury my face in the pillows, mouthing the words and damning Hale for getting me into this band.
"So glad, so glad you're mine. So glad, so glad you're mine. So glad, so glad you're mine."
I sigh and shove my face into the pile of pillows again, murmuring "Damnit Hale." as I did so.
"...she is papering the windooow panes, she is putting on a smiiiiiile. Living in a glasshoooouse."
Even though I don't remember falling asleep, I wake to the badly sung, drawn out words of the last song on the CD, their singer sitting at his computer and surfing the internet.
I sit up, and he turns around, eyebrows raised and a smile tugging at his face.
"Well, Goldilocks, not only did you sit in my chair here, you slept in my bed. I wonder if you ate my porridge, too."
"You are so fucking lame, Hale," I laugh, picking up a pillow from behind me and throwing it at him. I completely miss because my aim sucks, and he just laughs and turns back to his computer.
"You've got some freaky sleeping potion stored in here or what? It seems whenever I'm in here I fall asleep."
"Maybe you're just tired. Stressed, or something," he says, not looking up from his screen.
"Well, I wouldn't be tired if you didn't keep me up with your 'I can't sleep' shit and make me listen to music all night!"
"Mmhmm," he mumbles, before he goes back to singing the song emitting from the stereo.
I look at the clock on his dresser; 5:09. So, that means I slept for about an hour...damn. There really is something weird going on with Hale's room. Must be the darkness that lulls you.
"...only, only, only, only, onlyyyyyyyy..."
I'm close to throwing another pillow at him to shut him up, but I don't have the heart to ruin the song for him. So I grin and bear it.
"...only, only, onlyyyy-" and then, suddenly he stops and the room is completely silent save for the music coming out of the speakers.
'...there's someone listening in.'
"Wonderful song. 'Life in a Glasshouse'...so true too." Hale mumbles, talking partly to himself and partly to me. "...about living in a house of glass. How you shouldn't throw stones or start conflicts, how you should walk as if you were walking on glass and the whole set up of the house is so fragile one mistake could fuck up everything."
I remain silent and listen to him ramble; that's just how it sometimes goes, you know.
Jaime swings the door open around six, telling us dinner's ready and once again, giving us that strange look.
I'm beginning to worry about what he means by it.
AN: Wow. This story kicked my ass. Took me weeks to finish, but it's finally done, thank god. XD
Update should be relatively soon...
And many special internet cookies to those that can guess some or even all of the Radiohead song references in this thing. XD