Past Interlude #13
Alex stood apart from his brothers because he was afraid. Scott was going to love this mansion disguised as a school. How could anyone not like living here?
Through stolen sideling peeks, he observed his brothers sitting on the bench. Remy had gone through a quarter pack of cigarettes today and Scott never said a word. Adam hadn't moved for a full seven minutes, even with the temptation of a half-empty pool right in front of them. The universe had tilted on its axis, spinning backwards and no one wanted to say anything because if they ignored it, it wasn't happening.
Viciously, Alex ripped a flower from a decorative pot. His pulse throbbed in his eye sockets.
"So how much longer do you have to stay here?" he asked Scott. "Three whole months we've been out of school and now they say you have to stay here the rest of the year. I swear, they're just stringing you along."
Remy snorted, crushing one cigarette even as he charged the end of a new one.
"You're gonna get in trouble with Dad if he sees you smoking," said Alex.
His brother only extended his middle finger.
Rubbing sleep from his eyes, Adam tried to squirm higher on Scott's lap but the older boy resisted, pushing the seven-year-old away from his face. "I don't want you to go 'way, Scott. I gotta get more badges."
Scott brushed his fingers through Adam's fine blond hairs with practiced ease. "I'll help you get badges, don't worry. I'm sure I'll get a hang of these optic blasts soon. Remember what I told you about Remy? He went here too when he was eleven and he only had to stay for a few months."
Adam tried to smile. "An' now he can 'splode things."
"Can I 'splode things?"
Alex snorted. "One big, happy, pyromaniac family," he said, veering clumsily away from Scott's disapproving expression.
"We'll see when you're older," Scott said. "Do you really want to live here by yourself for a few months?"
His little brow wrinkling, Adam shook his head. "You're gonna be here. And Remy 'cause he needs to teach you how t 'splode things better 'cause he's been doing it longer."
"What about Alex?"
"What about Alex?" Remy flicked ash snidely from his cigarette. Alex didn't know there was a way to snidely flick a cigarette but if anyone would know how, that someone would be Remy.
Adam giggled. "Alex can clean the pool!"
Alex's eyes narrowed. "Twerp."
Scott frowned. "Not cool, guys. If this is how you're going to act while I'm away, who's going to take care of Remy?"
Remy pretended to flick his cigarette at Scott but Alex knew he wasn't really.
Adam sighed, nestling deeper on Scott's lap. "I want hot cocoa. With toast."
"Don't think they'd have normal white bread here," said Remy. "Probably have a Star Trek toaster instead of a proper one and God forbid we use skim milk instead of whole." But he still followed Scott inside to the kitchen where they performed the age old ritual of melting chocolate bars over a pot of boiling milk, cutting crusts from white bread and spreading butter over toast. And for a little while, things were almost normal.