(A/N) It's incredibly amusing to me that the sibling quote I used was said by a guy named Marc. Oh, the irony. XD

"Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero."

Marc Brown

My Brother, the Hulk

It only lasted a second, but that was enough. Fireworks didn't start bursting around them and there wasn't a shudder inducing brilliance to it. Just a simple kiss, nothing more. But it didn't matter because, in that one brief moment, Claire felt like she was finally home. Everything else just seemed to fall away until there was nothing else but the two of them.

When Matt managed to pull himself away he stared into her eyes, bright green meeting brilliant turquoise, and his lips started to curve into a smile. Claire's own lips twitched, starting to mimic his. She felt safe here, in his arms, in a way she hadn't thought would have been possible. But the sound of throats clearing and laughing eventually reached their ears, popping the bubble they were currently in and throwing them back into reality. Remembering they weren't entirely alone, Claire's cheeks flushed a burning red and she jumped away from Matt. He just laughed and turned to the source of the coughing; Tyler. Him and Rose were both looking at the two with expressions that clearly said, It took you long enough.

Matt rolled his eyes at them but the action only caused a smile to stretch across Tyler's face. "So, I'm guessin' I'm not allowed to make any jokes right now?" he asked, seemingly innocent. Matt scowled at his friend but it wasn't hard to see he was joking. He was barely containing the smile that wanted to take over his face. Still, Tyler held his hands up in surrender before speaking again. "Okay, okay, just making sure, man. You might have changed your mind seeing as you were smiling like someone slipped some happy pills into your drink just a second ago." As soon as he said it Tyler bolted off, disappearing into the crowd before the comment could really sink in. With him gone, Matt just rolled his eyes at his retreating figure. The expression on his face made Claire laugh and Matt looked back at her with an amused smile.

"I swear, one day I'm actually going to run after him and he's not going to know what hit him," he said, nodding in the direction where they'd last seen Tyler.

"You can't really blame him for telling the truth, you know," Claire countered, teasingly. Matt opened his mouth to say something when the coach yelled him over. The rest of the team was waiting on him for the traditional line-up at the end of the game to shake the opposing teams' hands before heading back to the locker room to change.

Stalling, Matt glanced at Claire with a mischievous glint in his eye and said, "Just wait, I'm going to get you back for that." After that, he took a few steps back, waved, and then hopped back over the fence to join the rest of the players and the couches creating a swarm in the middle of the field.

By the time Claire slipped inside the front door it was almost ten o'clock. The game had ended at nine but she'd lingered at the field a little longer than most people and still had to drop Rose off at her house after. Tyler had made his way back over to the two girls once Matt had left. They waited for Matt and Drake to change while the rest of the crowd started filing out towards the parking lot. Claire avoided the other's eyes, knowing that, at the least, Rose was dying to make a joke at her expense.

It hadn't taken long for the boys to come out of the locker rooms in their street clothes but almost everyone was already gone besides the parents or friends who would be driving home the players. A grin stretched across Matt's face when he saw Claire waiting and he walked straight over to hug her, ignoring the comments from their friends. Claire wouldn't have minded staying there but Rose had to get home before her curfew and she had promised her own parents she'd come home straight after the game. So, they stayed just long enough to congratulate Drake and Matt on winning the game before saying they had to go.

Before Claire could slip away, though, Matt pulled her back and kissed her once more before she even knew what was happening. Then he'd let her go, letting Rose drag her stunned friend back to her car while Matt walked the other way with Tyler and Drake cracking jokes behind him. Not that he cared all that much what they said.

Now, thinking back, Claire leaned against the closed door, smiling. The house was dark, her parents probably already having gone to bed; leaving only the outside light and the light at the top of the stairs on. Only shadows covered the main room so Claire jumped when she heard a voice from her right. "You're out late, little sister."

Spinning to face the voice, Claire glared at her older brother walking casually out of the kitchen. "Marcus Cornelius Davis!" Marc flinched at the sound of his full name. He hated his middle name more than anything and Claire felt a little satisfaction that she still held that small power over him. It was kind of a hit below the belt but under the circumstances . . .

"What did I do?" Marc asked, looking at his sister with a face that was similar to a kicked puppy. The same face that had got him out of trouble a million times when they were kids. "I just walked into the room."

Claire rolled her eyes at him; the face never worked on her. "You scared the shit out of me! Why can't you make some noise or something when you walk instead of moving around like some kind of ninja. I mean, jeese. I feel like every time I come home on a Friday you're hiding in a freaking corner waiting to pop out and scare me," she said all in one breath, eyes narrowed at Marc and her hands moving to her hips.

"You look scarily similar to Ma right now. It's kind of freaking me out," Marc said after a moment.

Sighing in exasperation, Claire just shook her head at him. "What are you doing here anyway? I thought you weren't coming until next week."

Marc didn't answer right away. His head was cocked to the side and he was studying his sister with curious brown eyes. Claire's eyebrows furrowed at the weird look on his face and she tried to get his attention again but he didn't seem to notice. After a moment he raised an eyebrow like he saw something he hadn't expected. "I thought you said that kid wasn't your boyfriend." It wasn't a question, just a simple statement. But Claire froze at his words and blinked a few times like he'd just asked her if the sky was falling.

"What?" she asked, in shock.

This time, he rolled his eyes at her. "Please, don't play dumb. I can tell when someone's just been kissed. Your eyes are all glittery and even though you're irritated you look like you're about to start bouncing . . . and you never bounce." Claire could feel her face start to heat up but she turned her face away so Marc wouldn't be able to see it. But judging by the way he was pressing his lips together to keep from laughing at her, he noticed.

"What are you doing here, Marc?" Claire asked casually for the second time as she cleared her throat.

"Didn't have anything better to do," he answered, shrugging.

"Is Carter here too?"

"Nah. She had this big English paper she had to finish so she'll be working all weekend. So I guess it's just like old times." He smiled and then covered the few feet between them to sling his arm over Claire's shoulders. "Now, stop avoiding the subject. I want to hear all about the guy who's so obviously not your boyfriend," he finished, making air quotes with his fingers when he said 'not.'

Claire groaned while Marc finally let out his laughter before dragging his sister towards the stairs, trapped against his side by the arm draped over her shoulders.

Somehow, Claire managed to slip away from her brother without giving away any of the details he wanted. As soon as she could she had booked it to her room and locked the door behind her. She heard Marc at the door just after she'd made it inside complaining that she'd have to spill sooner or later but Claire only laughed at her brother's antics.

Glad to escape the Spanish Inquisition for the night, she walked further into her room; knowing she wouldn't have to answer any questions for the night at least. Not that she could really; her and Matt hadn't actually had a chance to talk. There was no reason to while so many people were around. The details of what was between them didn't exactly matter right now anyway.

After taking her phone out of her pocket and setting it down on the end table next to her bed, Claire went into her closet to change into sleep clothes and then went into her bathroom to get ready for bed. As soon as she came out, her phone started vibrating against the hard wood table. Grabbing it up and throwing herself down on her bed, Claire looked at the small screen. There were words flashing across it say ONE NEW MESSAGE. Curious, Claire opened it and smiled down at the text message.

You still awake? —Matt

Sliding open the keyboard, she sent him back a quick reply: No. Obviously I'm sound asleep. How did you know? It only took a minute for the phone to start buzzing again, but this time it was a call. Smiling again, Claire hit the talk button on the phone, pressed it to her hear, and said, "Hello."

"There's no need to be sarcastic, Claire," Matt's voice came back to her over the line. He tried to make the words sound upset but Claire could practically see his grin through the phone.

"But it's so easy." He snorted.

"Were you planning on goin' to sleep, then?" Matt asked, correcting his previous statement.

"I dunno. Might as well. Nothin' else I can do since I'm confined to my room," Claire said, glancing at the door to make sure it was still locked.

The next time he spoke, Matt's tone was curious and Claire could imagine him raising his eyebrows at her. "Why?"

She sighed dramatically and said, "I'm hiding from my brother."

"Why?" he asked again, his voice amused this time.

"'Cause somehow he developed psychic powers and figured out some guy kissed me, tonight."

There was silence on the other end of the line for a few moments and Claire had to press her lips together to keep the laughter inside. "Am I gunna die?" Matt, finally, spoke up, his voice joking even though Claire could tell he was being serious.

Pretending to think about it for a moment, Claire let the question hang in the air between before answering his question. "As long as you don't go into any dark alleys, I think you'll be alright."

"That's so helpful, Claire," he said, dryly and she laughed as she imagined him rolling his eyes.

"You're welcome. Now, were you just calling to see if I was sleepin' or was it for something else?"

"I feel so loved. Can't a guy just call a girl for no reason?" Claire stayed silent, hitting her palm against her forehead. "You know what? Don't answer that. I wanted to ask if you had a class tomorrow," he said quickly.

"Yep. Every Saturday. Why?"

"You wanna go to lunch with me after?"

"Do you need help with your homework, this time," she teased, thinking of how they had lunch practically every week.

"No you silly girl. I just wanted to have lunch with you," he said, his tone disappointed, and Claire had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

"Sounds like fun as long as you don't mind being near someone who's all sweaty and gross."

"You didn't seem to mind." There was a smile in his voice and Claire flushed at the reminder of their kiss.

"That's different."

His laugh filtered over the line. "If you say so, Claire. I don't care, either way. Pick you up in the same place as usual?"

"Alright. I'll see you tomorrow."

"It's a date," he said before there was a click and the line went dead.

Claire stayed there, lying across on her bed with her legs hanging off the edge and the phone still near her ear. There was a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach that wasn't entirely uncomfortable. Things had been changing between her and Matt over the last couple weeks and, after that kiss, she knew why. She just wasn't sure if it was a good thing or not just yet.

Matt grinned as he hung up the phone before sliding out of his car and practically bouncing to the front door. He couldn't seem to wipe the smile off his face. Not that he cared. Ever since his lips had met Claire's everything seemed a little better than it had before. He doubted anything could deter from his ecstatic mood. Even knowing Claire's brother would probably kick his ass if he ever go the chance.

And that's saying something.

Once inside, Matt found the twins lying on their stomachs in front of the living room TV playing some racing game they'd got for their birthday. Their eyes were trained onto the screen in a way that was eerily similar to zombies so they didn't even notice their brother coming in. "Hey guys. You want some pizza?" Matt said, coming into the room behind him.

The two turned at the same time to look over their shoulders and stared at him with the same brown eyes. Matt always thought it was creepy the way they moved at the same time but he'd gotten used to it sometime over the last eight years. Without answering, they looked at each other and shared a strange look between one another before turning back. "We already ate," Cody said while Collin just kept staring. He was probably just waiting to go back to playing the game.

"So? Do you want some pizza?" Matt smiled widely and the twins shared another look that clearly said, He's lost his mind. Either way, though, they shrugged in answer to Matt's question and then went back to their game without another word.

Matt walked out of the room, shaking his head and thinking about how weird his little brothers were. He'd just reached the kitchen, grabbed the phone off the counter and was trying to decide whether to get Dominoes or Papa John's when Cody's voice drifted down the hallway to him. "What's wrong with Matt?"

"I don't know. He's always weird," Collin answered. Matt snorted, thinking it was the other way around.

"Yeah . . . but he was smiling like he just won the lottery and he's shitting rainbows."

"Um . . . what does him smiling have to do with 'shitting rainbows?'"

Cody sighed heavily. "Sometimes, I swear I'm the only sane person in this house." Matt had to hold back his laughter so Collin and Cody wouldn't hear him all the way from the living room. If thinking about people 'shitting rainbows' was Cody's version of sane, he would hate to hear his thoughts on what was crazy. At least listening to them was always worth a laugh.

October 9, 2010

Claire woke up early Saturday morning as usual. The only thing different was, while she usually looked forward to her defense class, today she couldn't wait until the time would be over. Because today she'd get to see Matt. Granted, she did almost every week, but today was different. There was no pretense of homework this time; they'd just be going to spend time together.

There was only one thing. Claire expected to be the only one awake, as usual, so she took the stairs slowly and avoided the one about halfway down that creaked when you stepped on it. She hit the last stair and no one in the house stirred. It was as quiet as any other weekend morning. Smiling to herself for avoiding Marc for a little longer, Claire pulled the bag that had her extra clothes in it higher up on her shoulder and pushed open the kitchen door. But just as she was about to walk straight through to the garage, she caught movement out of the corner of her eyes. Freezing mid step, Claire took a second to hope that it was either her mom or dad up for an early breakfast.

No such luck.

When she turned her head, Marc was sitting on the counter with a smug smile on his face and his keys swinging from his finger.

Before leaving in the morning, Matt pulled some cash out of the envelope James and Christina had left them for food money and set it on the table with a note for the twins to call if they needed something. Collin and Cody were still asleep and, technically, Matt was supposed to be in charge of taking care of them. He figured he'd at least make it look like he was doing his job. Even so, he knew they wouldn't call him before he got back. They probably wouldn't even wake up until then. And if they did, they'd most likely glue themselves to the TV without noticing he was gone.

The drive into the main part of town was peaceful. Matt put his windows down so he could feel the air on his face. Even though it was October Virginia would still hold onto the heat for another few weeks. It was a nice day out, seeming to reflect Matt's mood with the sun shining and a light breeze making the trees sway. The giddy feeling from the night before was still buzzing through him, refusing the smile to drop from his face. The only problem with that was that some of the people who saw him thought he was crazy because of it and the rest of the time Matt wished they did.

For example, he stopped at a red light on the way there, pulling up next to a huge truck with twenty-four inch wheels and all black paint except for the fire designs on the side. Matt barely glanced over at the guy driving it for a second but in the time he did the guy's scowl turned into a smirk and he winked at Matt in a disturbing way.

He tried really hard to keep a straight face after that.

The morning turned out being a lot better than Claire had anticipated after walking into the kitchen this morning. Marc had insisted on driving her to the class but he didn't try pulling information about last night out of her. He did follow her inside despite Claire saying she'd be fine; however, it turned out to be for her benefit. Claire had just stepped into the room when Lucas came in, steering a confused Marc in as well by the hand on his shoulder. Lucas might have been a bit smaller but he was definitely the one in control.

As soon as he noticed his sister in the room Marc looked straight at her and mouthed 'help.' Claire just raised an eyebrow at him, wondering what Lucas was up to. It was only a few minutes later when she found out. For most of the class Lucas had her and the other girls try out different holds and defensive maneuvers on her brother. Apparently Lucas had found him standing outside and when he told the older guy he was Claire's brother he just smiled before dragging him into the room without any explanation. Maybe Claire should have felt bad about being responsible for him being used for target practice but she figured he brought it on himself by insisting on coming with her. Plus, he was smiling almost the whole time so she figured he wasn't really being tortured too badly.

After class was over, Lucas had made Marc promise to come back when he could. It seemed the two had bonded, somewhat in the last hour or so. That or Lucas just enjoyed having someone else to take the beating besides himself, Claire couldn't really decide which.

Once they'd made their way out of the room, Claire said a quick goodbye to her brother before disappearing into the changing rooms. She took a quick shower so she could be semi-decent for lunch before putting on her extra clothes; a pair of jeans and the 'Sharks' Senior' t-shit Rose had forced her into buying. Clean and dressed, she shouldered her bag and then walked back out to the front.

Marc was there waiting, leaning against the wall like there was nowhere else he had to be. His hands were stuffed into the pockets of his sweats and if she hadn't known better, Claire would have thought he came here all the time with how at ease he was. She mentally rolled her eyes thinking how Marc could feel at home anywhere he went.

"I told you I had a friend comin' to pick me up. You didn't have to wait," she said, calmly, as she walked up to him.

He looked down at his sister and smiled before throwing his arm over her shoulders like usual. "Now what kind of big brother would I be if I just left without makin' sure you were safe, huh?" A normal one, Claire thought but she didn't say anything as a smirk took over his face. "Besides, you know how much I love to embarrass you in front of your friends." Marc winked while Claire groaned and looked up at the ceiling, praying a piece of it would break off and crush her where she stood. Apparently no one was listening, though, because nothing happened. Sighing heavily, Claire knocked his arm away and walked out the door. Marc followed right behind her, laughing.

Matt pulled up to the building right as the class was let out. He'd just put the car in park, letting it idle as he waited, when some of the girls started trickling out of the doors in twos and threes. Only of few minutes later, Claire followed behind them with her bag hanging over one arm. Grinning like an idiot, he got out and walked around the car too meet her on the sidewalk. As he was rounding the front, though, he noticed the guy following behind her and the nervous smile on her lips and his steps slowed.

The guy was huge. A few inches shorter than Matt but he made up for it with the muscle coating his entire body. The sweats and muscle shirt did nothing to hide it either. He made the safety from last night look like a baby. Matt's eyes darted between him and Claire as they covered the few short between them. Claire was biting her lip like she was anxious but the guy's face had turned completely blank. Looking at him, Matt had a pretty good idea who the guy was. Any sane person would have probably run if they were in his position at that moment but he couldn't get his feet to move. So, instead of doing the sane thing, he just stood there, staring.

The two stopped in front of him and Matt looked down at Claire, keeping one eye on the guy behind her at the same time. "Hey you." She smiled a little more, saying a soft "Hello," before slipping her hand into his. Her touched thawed him out a little, making it possible to move again but he was still tense and it was obvious Claire noticed. His eyes flickered towards the guy again and she squeezed his hand before nodding in his direction. "Matt, this is my brother, Marcus. Marc, Matthew."

After a moment of just staring at one another, Marc finally smiled; which Matt found a little creepy because it made him look so much like a little kid instead of the giant killing machine he probably was. "Pleasure meetin' ya, Matty boy," he said, sticking out his hand to shake.

"Likewise," Matt answered, ignoring the nickname as he took Marc's hand. As soon as he did, he wished he hadn't. Marc's grip wasn't just firm, it was more like he was trying to crush all the bones in Matt's hand. Matt winced and flexed his hand a couple times after he let go but Marc only stood there smiling like he was completely innocent. Claire must have seen through it because she was glaring at her brother.

"Don't be a dick Marc."

"Ouch, Claire," he said, putting a hand over his heart with an expression of mock hurt. "I haven't done anything. I just wanted to make sure my sister was alright before I left." The look on her face made it clear she didn't really believe him but he only sighed sadly. Taking a step forward, Marc slung his arm over her shoulder and pulled her into his side and away from Matt all in one move. While he hugged her his face went blank once more and he glared at Matt over her head but as soon as he let her go his boyish smile was back in place. "I'll see ya later Claire."

"See ya."

Marc turned and started to walk away but after only a few steps he stopped and looked back at them. "Oh. I almost forgot." Looking straight at Matt, he grinned with fake innocence before he continued. "If you try anything, Matthew, I will personally hunt you down . . . and kill you. Trust me; you wouldn't like me when I'm angry." Somehow the smile just made the threat more real and Matt imagined the guy turning green and growing and extra couple feet. Not that he needed to. He didn't even wait for an answer before turning on his heal and walking towards where he'd parked his Mustang.

Matt gulped. "Well, I don't doubt that," he said and turned to look at the girl beside him. "And you said I only had to avoid dark alleys." Claire laughed a little uncomfortably and shoved Matt light before walking past him to the passenger side of his BMW. Matt went towards the driver side and stared at her over the hood of the car with an accusing look on his face. "I think you forgot to tell me your brother was coming."

Claire flashed an innocent smile that was a little too similar to her brothers. "It must have slipped my mind."

"Uh huh. I'm sure it did," he said, rolling his eyes before they both got in the car.

"So," Claire said once they'd both settled into their seats; trying to make him forget about the encounter with her brother. "Where are we going for lunch?" Just as she said it, a cherry red Mustang with black racing stripes sped past the window and Matt caught a brief flash of Marc in the driver's seat before it turned towards the main road and vanished from sight. Taking the roar of the engine with it.

Matt smiled as he put his own car in gear. "Well, since you surprised me with your brother, I think I'll surprise you with lunch," he said back, casually. Claire groaned while Matt only laughed and pulled out of the parking lot.