"Ugh, I'm Actually Friends With Nerds"
Her parents were unforgiving when she'd called them and told them she'd be gone for a few weeks. She didn't care, honestly. She'd hung up on them and blocked their numbers and enjoyed her time in the paradise Pandora and Apollo had provided for her. Like all things, however, it came to an end and a stretch limo was pulling up in front of her house and she was approaching her doorstep with travel bags full of new clothes, souvenirs, new clothes, shoes, and new clothes.
After two hours of yelling, screaming and loosing their minds, the flow of the conversation waned as they ran out of energy and were mentally and emotionally exhausted. She hadn't lied, she told them exactly where sh had been for the past several weeks and with whom she'd spent her time. Getting out anything more than that was difficult through all the yelling. She could have quelled the conversation at anytime, she knew, but at the very core of the issue was the fact that she was seventeen and just upped and disappeared to French Polynesia with no warning, permission, or even a passport. Her parents were right to be mad at her, she knew, but once they'd calmed down she took her cue to add in her two cents.
“Okay, first answer to your question, Mom is... Devin and I have super powers.” She started, going off the litany of questions wrapped in swear words she'd never heard her mom use before and a few she'd made a mental note to look up later. “We're Keys, like you've been seeing on the news.”
“H-how did this happen?” Kathleen asked, practically begging for an answer.
“I don't know the science, Mom. I know that Devin has been one for almost a year now, and has helped saved the world twice, one of those times I witnessed and, I won't lie, it was pretty cool. My brother, your son, is a bit of a bad ass.”
Her father Jason, took in a deep breath and considered his words carefully before speaking. “This phenomenon, with Keys. It is viral? How does the process happen, are we in... any danger of exposure?”
Tease laughed. “Wow, Dad... I tell you Jaunt saved the world, the world you live on, twice, and you're worried you might get some on you? Skillful parenting there.”
“Jaunt?” Her mother asked, leaning into the question with an actual interest to know.
“Jaunt, that's what he calls himself. They call me Tease. They're like, code names we use to help describe what we do in a single word. Devin teleports, or jaunts, from place to place. I mess with people's heads, or, 'tease' them, for short.”
Jason sipped his coffee, trying to process. “And where is your brother, why didn't he come home with you?”
“So, yeah... the bad news there is-”
Kathleen covered her mouth in a panic, “Oh God, don't tell me-”
“No, no... Jesus no, Mom, chill. Devin is alive. He's just not coming home for awhile.” It hurt her a bit to lie to her family, but she knew they couldn't handle anymore bad news, not today anyway.
For several more hours they talked. Honestly it was he first time she'd talked with her parents in so long about serious issues that for a moment here and there it seemed like they were a family again. Then her mind would slip to thoughts of Devin and what he was doing, or had already done, and a part of her died inside at the thought of what his actions would do to their parents. They'd be crushed.
Later that evening she was lying in bed, thinking, wondering. Her thoughts drifted to the life she had before all this strangeness. The life she had in school, managing the clubs, the dances, all the activities she was involved in and now... now she had to go to school in an armored bus and be driven to Bulwark Air Force Base so she could be protected from human prejudice.
This was the world the Irregulars saved, twice. This was the world her brother wanted to ruin... how could she pick a side? A part of her honestly didn't think Devin was wrong... he was doing something while everyone else was taking clicks and getting rich. She didn't want to see people hurt, physically, anyway. She was totally okay with exploiting idiots and fools all day long... it was hard not to when all powers centered around manipulating and swaying the emotions and minds of others.
She let out a deep sigh and hugged the pillow she'd taken from her brother's bed. It smelled like him, and although she was loathe to admit it, as her twin, she needed him in her life. She loved him, she worried about him, she missed him... he was her brother. She rolled onto her side, pressing the pillow closer to her as she wondered some more.
“Careful,” came a voice from the shadows. “I'll start thinking you care.” From he murky gloom of the corners shadow of her room Devin stepped out, his quantum infused eyes shimmering purple in the dark.
Wide-eyed and awake now, she sprang from her bed and dove into his arms, gripping him tightly. It was uncharacteristic of her to show so much affection for him, but she felt so alone and confused... he had always been her rock in their lives, and now, more than ever, she needed her brother. She pulled away as he laughed, wondering where this sudden concern for him was coming from. “Where have you been? Mom and Dad are worried sick. They completely wigged on me being gone for so long...”
“Well, can you blame them?” He glared at her with a silly face that sort of read 'duh'.
“Fuck off,” she snarked with a half grin. “You were traveling all over the world, for months and you didn't catch any flak for it.”
“Yeah, I never got caught either,” He pointed to his room across from hers through the bathroom that connected the two. “In that bed, every morning, and down for school... I got the gift instant travel. Meanwhile you seem to have caught whatever Sean caught... my sister should seriously not be this hot.”
She sat on her bed, giving him a dismissive half grin. She pulled his pillow over to her and hugged it again. “So, you didn't come here to marvel at my beauty and in your own brotherly way tell me not to date til I'm thirty because you know all men are pigs and cheating d-bags... including you... Laurie is devastated.”
“Look, there way more going on than I can tell you, okay? I never meant to hurt her...,” his words faltered as the thought of what he did to her choked him up.
With a dead panned expression Marissa looked at her brother and shotgunned a question. “Did you fuck her?”
He reeled back a bit, giving her a look of complete and utter surprise. “What? N-no... no we never. We kissed like three times... I didn't get to second. And why do you even-”
“Not her,” Marissa stood up, tossing her pillow on the bed and folding her arms tightly. It was hard to look menacing in comfy flannel pajamas, but she was pulling it off nicely. “Lilly. Don't bullshit me, Dee Jay, I know she came here, and you two came up here, and you went on some date... and you two have been all kinds of cozy since. So? She punch your v-card? Because Laurie is my best friend and now I have to sit there while she balls her eyes out over my asshole brother when I know good god-damned-well he cheated on her with Lilly... another of her close friends. And I have to sit there, and rub her back, and lie telling her everything will be alright... you colossal douche.”
He motioned to the corner, then back to her, then back. “Can we go back to the hugs and the happy to see me part?”
She punched him in the shoulder, scowling the entire time. “No secrets, remember? Not between us, now fucking tell me or so help me God I will construct a lie so elaborate about you and Lilly that not even Sean could unravel the truth...”
He sighed and turned away. That right there told her everything she needed to know, but she needed to hear him say it. She needed to hear her brother, for once in damned life, take some accountability for his stupidity. He put his hands on his hips, taking time to formulate exactly how he was going to phrase it. Finally he decided to go with the complicated approach. “Yes.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Here it comes, he thought. “Do you have any idea what Laurie has been through in her life? Not including your three years of torturing her brother? That girl has busted her ass to be somebody, Dee Jay, to get good grades, to get scholarships, to get the hell out of this city. She's been laughed at, picked on, bullied. Her ability to trust people is not incredibly stable, and when she finally lets you in... you, the man who bullied her brother, into her life... you cheat on her? I would never date a guy who stuffed you in a locker and had half the school laughing at you.”
“Okay!” He shouted in a hushed whisper, not wanting to wake up their parents. He spun about his hands help out wide as if to accept the brunt of more of her attacks on his character. “I'm an asshole, I get it. Laurie and I were never dating. We kissed a couple times, cuddled for a movie, help hands once... but every time we were gonna do something she stood me up. All those big wigs in Washington kept her busy enough that I never saw her. I wasn't even on her visitors list! For,” he made air quotes. “'security reasons'. I didn't plan on sleeping with Lilly, okay? We were both in a bad spot emotionally. She had Sandy issues, I had Laurie issues... and we're seventeen and we fucked up. But I will not tell you I regret it, because I don't. Was it ill timed? Irresponsible? Yeah, it was... but it was what we needed when we needed it.”
“Whatever you have to do to justify it to yourself, Deej,” Marissa's voice was cold and dismissive. Uncaring in a way that told her she'd reached the limit of the excuses he was willing to use to justify his mistreatment of others. “Laurie fell for you, dude.”
“Yeah, I know. She told me-”
“She loved you?” She brushed a thick strand of hair aside and tucked it behind her ear. “She did, bro. She told me she was so happy for the first time in a very long time. You and Sean were like bros, in a manner of speaking, you'd changed so much into such a great guy and at the very end of it all there she was, finally getting the handsome, sweet, chivalrous prince, if a bit cocky and loud mouthed... just like in the fairy tales you nerd play in the barn. You won! You got the girl, how do you fuck that up?” She asked with pleading hands.
“Okay,” Devin took a defensive stance, pointing a finger at her. “First off, they're role playing games, not fairy tales-”
“I don't care, nerd. About what they are or what you and your geeky, nerd friends do in My Little Pony Land,” she batted aside his finger in a huff on stuck up attitude. “You're still all loser in my book, anyway. Explaining it won't change that.” Devin was about to protest again and she raised a finger to stop him, pressing it firmly to his lips. “I'm not done. You have put Mom and Dad though hell for years. You've put me through hell for years. Sean, Laurie, the list goes on. Devin you finally had friends. They looked out for you, you were changing, you were becoming a decent guy and... and... you pissed it all away. You need to get your shit together. This pattern of self-destructive behavior is going to get you killed. We're not dealing with bullies and loud mouths any more. We're dealing with gods and monsters and people that kill with a thought.”
“I know, Em Jay, which is why I'm here,” He heard all she had said about his friends and screwing it up, but chose to ignore it. She was right, she always was, but he didn't have the time nor the energy to get into it with her right now. He extended his hand. “Come with me.”
“Where?” She asked, curious what plan her brother had cooked now.
“Away from here, away from Shelly and all this. Together, with our power set we could topple nations in days, we can have CEO signing over everything, we can fix this sick, messed up world.” He stared into her eyes, practically pleading with her to join him on his conquest of the Earth. She knew she would revel in the opportunity to make and break the minds of corporate moguls, politicians and anyone else who got in the way of them and their New World Order.
She looked at his hand. Pursing her lips she thought about it for a long time as the evil grin never left her brother's face. He was promising her every good time she'd ever asked for and free ticket to anywhere, hell, everywhere in the world. Who could pass that up?
“No, Ronin,” she addressed him as his newly taken mantle of the Key who served no masters. “I can't go with you. I have too much to do here, like fixing the messes my brother left behind. A woman who loved him and sits alone now, broken hearted. Parents who miss him and wonder if their son is still alive. Friends who he's turned his back on, a sister he's turned his back on... and Lilly. Who through all of this, the months of antics, terrorism, hurting people... still, somewhere in all of that... still believes there's something good left inside him and that he'll come home to us. So, no Ronin. I have too much to do here, but if you see my brother, please tell him I love him, I miss him, we all do, and we hope he's okay.”
Ronin lowered his hand as the emotion drained from his face. “If you're not wit me, Marissa-”
“You don't want to finish that threat, Ronin.” she cut him off, walking up to his face and standing only inches from him. “You wanna graduate from games, let's graduate. This is my town, you walked away from it. This is my family, those are my friends out there and so help me if I walk down these streets and find a single hair out of place, a dent in a car, a broken window, hell, if I find so much as a cat stuck up a fucking tree, then your ass is done. You hear me? Fucking done. You are unreservedly pathetic, starved for attention, and lost in a land that reality forgot. I wish you the best of luck in the emotional, and social struggles that seem to be placing such a demand on you. Now get the fuck out of my room.”
She was staring at darkness as her brother faded from view. She closed her eyes and tightened her mouth into a thin line, a barrier holding back the flood of emotion that rising to the surface. Marissa collapsed onto her bed and cried into her brother's pillow.