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A Week's End

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Sam's in the middle of a grocery store, list in hand, Elena comparing the price of two boxes of cereal next to him, and it's so domestic Sam's gonna lose his mind.

He's not meant for this life. That's all he can think. He feels trapped and antsy and can't stop fiddling with the piece of paper. Crumples it between his fingers. Smooths it out again.

“Which one do you like better?”

He's slow to hear the question. Blinks a couple times.

“What?”

Elena purses her lips, stares up at him. She's a tiny thing. He feels like he's peeking over a ledge when he meets her eye. Vertigo and everything.

“Cereal, Sam.” Her voice is flat, but he's come to recognize it as playful. “Do you have a preference?”

“Oh,” he says, twisting the piece of paper. “No. Uh, no.”

Her eyebrow lifts. It's a perfect arch. She's probably groomed them recently. Or maybe she just has perfect eyebrows.

… why is he thinking about her eyebrows?

He mouths the word when she turns away—eyebrows—because he's thought it so much it doesn't really sound like a word at all anymore.

“You're not, like. Snorting cocaine or anything right?”

He stares at her back.

“What?”

“I mean,” she continues, and when she tilts her head, he can see the edge of a crooked grin. “You'd at least share, right?”

“Oh sure, sweetheart,” he says, tone all lazy and drab. “Next time I'm in Columbia, I'll pick you up a couple pounds.”

She doesn't respond, only nods at one of the boxes of cereal in her hand and sets it in the cart.

*****

Elena is cute. Like, way too cute for her own good. She destroys Nathan on the Playstation, shows no mercy.

Sam sits between them on the couch, bowl of popcorn between his legs. It's a tight fit, but they're getting used to it.

“Oh yeah!” she shouts, fist pumping the air. “That, Nate, is called ‘getting rekt’. R-E-K-T.” She spells it out for him, like. Literally spells it out.

Sam's mouth is probably gonna split his face in half. He laughs along with Elena, and Nathan shoots him this look of utter and complete betrayal.

“C’mon little brother,” he says, nudging Nathan with an elbow.

“I'd like to see you do better.”

If it's even possible, Sam's smile widens.

He's been waiting for this moment for about two days now. The lovebirds are up all night playing games and watching movies. Sam joined them the first night, but he's more an up’n’at’em kinda guy. Has spent the last two days practicing his gaming skills on the Playstation during the early morning hours, while the night owls get their beauty sleep.

“Betcha I can,” Sam says, casual. Like his insides aren't vibrating with an immeasurable degree of excitement.

Nathan's eyebrows shoot up, and he readily hands over the controller.

“Oh,” he says, “I can't wait to see this.”

“Care for a wager?” Sam eggs him on. He wants to make this moment as sweet as possible.

Nathan laughs, too innocent for this world and 1000% unprepared for the ass-whooping he's about to get.

“Wow, getting cocky in your old age, I see.”

“You have no idea,” Sam replies, flashing his pearly whites.

“I mean, it’s cute when you guys banter,” Elena says, “but I’m not getting younger and I’d like to see the old man flail his way through a video game.”

Old man?” Sam’s eyes go a little wide.

Elena pokes her tongue out of the side of her mouth, smiles at him.

“Hate to break it to ya, sweetheart,” he says, “but I'm about to beat your high score.”

Bullshit !” She laughs, swats him gently on the arm.

“Yeah, yeah,” Nathan says, just as disbelieving. “What's the bet?”

“I want your bed,” Sam says, no hesitation. “If I beat her high score, I want your room for the rest of the week.”

The air mattress isn't bad, but it's gotten old after three nights. He dreams about four glorious days in an actual bed, can't possibly pass up the opportunity.

Nathan rubs at the back of his neck, peers around Sam to look at his wife. Elena nods, immediately, probably a little too cocky for her own good.

When you lose,” she says, “you do dishes for the rest of the week.”

“Sounds fair,” Sam agrees. “Nate?”

“Oh, hell yeah.”

*****

It's a close thing, but Sam wins by the skin of his teeth. The bowl of popcorn has migrated to Nathan's lap, so Sam launches off the sofa and waves the controller in the air.

Beso mi culo! Take that!”

Sam’s so caught up in celebrating, it takes him a minute to see the look of surprised mirrored on both their faces. When he catches it, he turns to them, arms spread out. Shrugs.

“Hey, no take-backsies.”