“So why won’t you let me meet your brother?” Benji asked, his arm securely around the shoulders of the smaller boy using him as a pillow. The teenagers were sitting together on the couch in Heedo’s room watching tv.
“Because he’s an idiot.” Heedo replied, rolling his eyes. “Give it a few more weeks. I’ve told you what he’s like.”
“I know. But I also know you care about his opinion too.” Benji held him a bit tighter trying to convey that he just wanted the other boy to be happy. “Let’s just watch tv, okay?” Heedo nodded and smiled slightly.
The two were cuddled together, half asleep, almost an hour later when an even taller man entered the room. He looked surprised to see anyone there aside from his brother. A glare slipped onto his face as he cleared his throat. The sound shocked Heedo awake.
“Tao.” Heedo muttered, shaking Benji awake as well.
“Who’s this?” Tao asked his brother, raising an eyebrow.
“My boyfriend. Now go away. Aren’t you supposed to be helping in the restaurant anyway?” The younger Huang answered honestly after a few moments spent debating on whether or not to tell the truth. He figured it was easier to tell Tao and hope he would listen for once than risking him finding out later. Heedo felt Benji grab his hand as Tao began to speak again.
“Mom and dad let me leave early because I have a game tomorrow. Anyway, now that I’m here, I’m just going to need to lay some ground rules if anyone’s going to be dating my baby brother. If you could just wait outside, Heedo, this will only take a few minutes.”
“First off, I’m seventeen, hardly a baby.” Heedo began, feeling himself start to become angry through his still sleepy haze. He knew what Tao was going to do, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to argue. “Second--” He was cut off by his brother grabbing him by the arm, making him stand. He was pushed out the door and he heard a click of it locking before he could even register what was going on. “Shit.”
A sold few minutes went by with Heedo sitting in the living room, alternating between staring at his phone and at the door of the still-locked room. He couldn’t hear any sounds coming from the room, but that didn’t mean anything. He just hoped that Benji would stay after his confrontation with Tao.
His hopes were smashed when Benji came out of the room, picked up his bag, and left barely muttering an “I need to leave” as he passed by. Tao entered the living room moments later to see Heedo glaring at him with tears in his eyes.
“What the fuck?” Heedo yelled almost immediately.
“He needed to leave, why are you blaming me.” Tao played innocent. His brother knew better, as he had done this several times before, sometimes even making Ravi help him.
“We both know the only reason he left is because of you. He had plans to hang out here through dinner. What did you say to him?” The tears were gone now, replaced by pure fury.
“It really doesn’t matter. He obviously wasn’t good enough for you if he let me scare him off that easily.”
“You don’t think anyone’s good enough for me!”
“I’m just trying to keep you from being like I was in high school.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not like you were at all. I haven’t been going around sleeping with every guy who looks at me the right way. I’m not you.”
“Then I’ve done my job.” Tao’s calmness was only fueling Heedo’s anger and for a moment he wanted to hurt his brother as much as he had been hurt.
“You don’t get it! This isn’t about me. You can’t stand to see me happy with someone before you. You’re just an insecure jerk who’s afraid you’re never going to find someone who will love you. And you know what? Right now, I can’t see why anyone would.” It was a low blow, picking on Tao’s biggest fear like that, but Heedo was being driven by anger alone.
“Save it. I’m heading out, don’t follow me.” Heedo growled, grabbing his keys and phone before slamming the front door. Had he bothered to look, he would have seen the tears streaming down his brother’s face, both from pain and regret.
As he made his way to the nearby park, his anger was slowly replaced with sadness. He hadn’t quite been in love with Benji, but it was more than just a simple crush too. He was crying by the time he sat down on one of the more secluded benches in the park. Pulling out his phone, he wondered if there would be any way for him to not lose Benji. He quickly sent him a few texts.
‘hey did you make it home’
‘whyd you leave so fast’
‘b, i dont know what he said but taos a jerk’
‘just answer me’
‘i want to fix this’
‘dont leave me’
He quickly found out that it was no use. He wasn’t getting any response from the only person he knew that always seemed to reply in seconds.
Heedo wanted to scream, wanted to lock himself away, but most of all he just wanted to curl up in a ball on his bed and cry. Instead, he pulled his knees up to his chest and stared sadly at the phone in his hands. How he had gone from completely happy to miserable over the course of an hour he didn’t know, just like he didn’t know how long it would take for him to be happy again. And oh great, it was starting to rain. Heedo just couldn’t win.
He had sitting there for what seemed like forever, but was actually only about half an hour, when a familiar figure made its way over towards him. It was not the one person he was really hoping to see.
“Hey.” Ravi greeted, sitting down next to him. It was still raining and his hair was plastered to his head, just like Heedo was sure his was too. Instead of trying to talk, he sat there waiting. Sometimes Heedo wished that Ravi was actually his brother, instead of just one of Tao’s friends who had been around all the time since he was born. A few minutes passed by in silence.
“Tao’s an ass.” Heedo began.
“I know. But he has good intentions.”
“He needs to let my make my own choices. I was happy. Whatever he did, Benji left and I just don’t know what to do. He hurt me.”
“To be fair, when I got to your place, Tao was an absolute crying mess. He was saying something about being unlovable? What did you say to him? You know how sensitive he is about that.”
“Shit. I messed up. I just wanted him to hurt too.” The tears had stopped, and the sadness was joined with the horrible twinge of guilt.
“I know that, and he messed up. But I don’t want this to come between you guys. I think Tao learned his lesson this time so please forgive him? We need him to be mentally stable enough to play tomorrow. I know he’ll try his best to make it up to you.”
“I should be heading back. Thanks for, you know, trying to fix things.”
“Anytime.” Ravi smiled slightly. “Just, please don’t break my best friend again, okay? You may be like the little brother I don’t have but that doesn’t mean you get to hurt him.”
“I’ll try.” Heedo promised, standing up.
The walk home seemed a lot longer than it actually was. His mind was clearer now and he knew that he never should have picked on Tao like that, no matter how bad he was hurt. He braced himself before he opened the door, but what he found inside was a lot better than he’d thought it would be. Tao was curled up on the couch watching the science channel. His messed up hair and smudged eyeliner were the only indicators that anything was wrong. Heedo sat right down next to his brother and was immediately latched onto. They both sat there watching the explosions on the tv for the longest time, and then:
The words didn’t magically fix anything for either of them, but hey, it was a start.