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Oh Brother
by Miimaas
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This kid Yuen found out about less than a week ago is supposed to be his brother?



He glared at the boy practically hiding in the doorway, looking at him up and down, taking stalk of how he looks like he’s about to pee his pants and it made him want to scoff. Thinking, “Tch. Bite me.”


Iahn was used to being quiet, but at the cold aggressive reception of his new brother, all he wanted was to find the nearest train station and run back home.


Nothing short of terror pumped through his veins in place of blood at this time. It was more potent than usual when his mother took him to questionable places to meet people she barely knew herself, but this was by far the worst reception he had ever gotten; and the one he had always feared receiving in the back of his mind.


Iahn’s met nicer drug dealers, and no that wasn’t an exaggeration, he had actually met his mother’s ex’s dealer just last year, and despite his career choice, he wasn’t a mean man. If anything he was too friendly and easy-going, reminding Iahn of a stereotyped hippie.


“Baby, this is my son, Iahn.”


Iahn jumped when his mom suddenly turned the entire room’s attention to him.


She frowned seeing him trying to retreat out of a room he hadn’t even stepped into yet, and Iahn looked down and moved his eyes anywhere but her — or Yuen, or that man — knowing he would get scolded for it later but he couldn’t bring himself to care at the moment.


“It’s nice to meet you, Iahn.”


The tall man came towards him, and Iahn curled his toes to stop himself from backing away, but the man stopped walking halfway through the room.


So to shake his hand, Iahn would have to get very close to the seething teenager in the center.


Iahn looked at his mom instinctively, momentarily forgetting that she was not exactly happy with him, and was met with an expectant scowl that screamed “Get in here” to prove it.


He tried not to shrink back. He didn’t want to be rude or get in any more trouble, so he swallowed and tried not to make it too obvious that he was grinding his teeth as he reluctantly slid into the room — staying as far away from Yuen as possible.


He shook the man’s hand as fast as he could but Iahn almost flinched at the strength of the grip; tight enough to feel like his hand it could be crushed with just a little more pressure, but it was too… business-like to have such an aggressive intention.


It was clear the man didn’t have any ill-intentions — though it sure felt like it — it was just a powerful handshake from years of practice.


“Nice to meet you, Mr.Min.” Iahn bowed politely, catching the disapproving eyes of his mother.


He let go of his hand, pulling back to grab his backpack straps even tighter. It was all he could do to keep from bolting back to the car and attempting to drive himself home without a license; or any idea how to drive.


If he knew how, he would have been out of here in a heartbeat. Everything inside him was screaming to run like he had stepped into a wolf’s den.


Iahn had never felt safe anywhere except his own bedroom and his grandfather’s art room. Both of which were almost a 2 ½ hour bus ride from here, or an hour by train. Not including the 15 minute walk it took to get from the nearest station to this house. (He looked it up when he was supposed to be packing)


But anywhere would be better than here.


“There’s no need to be so formal, sweetie.”


Iahn almost flinched at his mother’s tight voice, though it may have sounded friendly to some, he knew that tone all too well.


It’s the one she used when something she didn’t like happened and was trying to keep up appearances.


“He’s your father now.” A sickly sweet smile pulled across her candied-apple-red lips.


She wanted him to call a man he just met like he was his biological parent.


Being berated for it later was the least of his worries, he did not have the nerve nor the desire to do any such thing. He was on the verge of a panic attack as is, and it hadn’t even been 5 minutes since they arrived.


The thought of having an attack made it even worse; he had never had an attack by himself, grandpa had always been there to help him before.


The attack would have probably already happened if he didn’t have a death grip on his bag and the too-big jacket that his grandpa and friends gave him as a good luck present right before he left.


He hadn’t taken it off since the minute he got it even though he was sweating in the car, because it made him feel just the tiniest bit better, and right now it was the only reason his frayed nerves were holding together at the fringes. He was trying his best not to shake like a newborn deer but it was proving near impossible.


Thankfully, Mr.Min turned his attention away from him and onto Yuen; a stern expression coming back but nowhere near as terrifying as the anger it had held before.


“Go show your brother where his room is.”


Yuen rolled his eyes so hard it almost hurt, not hiding his displeasure in any way as he stomped his way out to the large dark staircase — his steps making noise even on the light cream-colored carpet in the hallway — right past Iahn where he had unconsciously retreated, back near the doorway.


“Are you coming or what?”


Iahn flinched at the venomous tone but he covered it by moving forward, feeling like he would be eaten alive if he didn’t do exactly what the older boy said, not bothering to wait for him to move before he continued up.


Iahn cast a glance at his mom from the bottom of the steps, an unprecedented plea in his eyes, but she was already busy with her soon-to-be husband once again.


He looked at his feet, feeling his throat constrict with dejection descending on his shoulders, before hesitantly climbing the stairs after the older boy, keeping a safe distance of about two meters between them.


As soon as Iahn turned the corner of the first set and got up to the final 8 or so steps, he froze.


Yuen stood right at the top, his arms crossed over his chest, scowling down at him like bird shit on his shoe. His eyes like invisible needles that would pierce Iahn’s without hesitation or remorse if he so much as blinked.


“End of the hall, last door on the right.”


It took several seconds for Iahn to nod and finished climbing the final steps.


Yuen opened the first door on the left but stopped in the doorway and spun around, freezing Iahn with a frigid glare full of ice, making a person feel like a rabbit in a snowstorm.


He stepped closer until Iahn’s back hit the hall wall. Every muscle in his body went rigid, swallowing so hard his throat hurt as he held as still as a statue, reminisce of how prey animals make themselves less noticeable to predators.


“If you ever set foot in my room, you will regret it. Understand?”


Iahn nodded as quick as his heartbeat and Yuen flicked the boy’s hair just to watch him flinch violently and scoffed, slamming his bedroom door behind him.


Iahn’s chest wracked with shaky breaths tearing free from his lungs like angry guard dogs from their leashes.


He leaned against the wall, trying to catch his breath and quietly hoping it’ll consume him before he all but slid — like a little kid playing spies — past Yuen’s room and scurried down the tan hallway to the room that is supposed to be his.


He peeked into the room first, hesitant to go in, despite wanting to get out of sight as fast as possible.


It felt weird being in a stranger’s home. Everything was so foreign, he didn’t know where he was allowed to go, what the rules were, if he’s not allowed to touch anything or go into any specific rooms.


And to be told that this room was “his” felt like it was just for appearances. A bad joke or a trap that would be sprung and used against him if he actually dared to believe it.


Eventually, he did slip into the room and gently shut the door behind him; quiet as a mouse in fear of Yuen, his mother, or god forbid the mysteriously strong Mr.Min would come storming down the hall to yell at him.


Only when the door was safely shut did he actually look at the room.


It wasn’t anything like his old normal-sized bedroom. This room was easily twice the size and felt so empty in comparison.


Most kids would be happy having a bigger room, and he might have been too, if he wasn’t standing in the middle of it still clutching his dark blue backpack that contained every material possession he truly cared about, with only one thought about the four walls around him.

It was too big.


To him, the larger space only made him feel more out of place. Like a foreign entity in a strange world that mimics his own in only the fundamentals.


Iahn is a strange person. The wider the open space is, the more uncomfortable he would feel.


He preferred fairly dark and compact spaces, with just enough light to see his surroundings. Like a dark room with fairy lights or a star projector. A one-story house with the cozy feeling of home.


Spaces like that make him feel safe. Concealed, where no one can find him, and he dictates whether or not someone gets to see him.


In a place like this, he would rather hide in a closet and sleep under the bed like a stowaway.


The room was mostly empty, aside from two dark dressers against the walls on either side of the door. The queen-sized bed, set in a white frame, sat in the far corner beside two large windows on either outward-facing wall of the corner bedroom. A black nightstand with a simple white lamp stood to the right of the bed.


The walls were a violet-blue that tickled the artist in him and he resisted the urge to run down to the car and grab his special black block-shaped case from the backseat, and spend the rest of the night holed up in here, painting a twilight night beachscape around the entire room; a pale moon reflecting off the dark water just above the violet tinted sand, in spots across from the windows, as if they were allowing the real moon’s light in. A few silhouetted palm tree leaves in the top corners and some dark but not ominous clouds gently drifting from one wall to the next.


He could even try out that perspective technique he just learned to make them look 3D from the doorway. He could paint the ceiling a dark blue, barely a shade’s separation from black with dozens of scattered, swirling stars using that glow in the dark paint he hardly ever gets to use — but almost always does for nightscape stuff.


The momentary lift to his spirit quickly deflated.


If only he could do that. But this isn’t his grandpa’s art room, or a canvas waiting to be transformed.


If he so much as nicked these walls with a pencil by accident, he had no idea what the punishment would be. Looking a little closer at these walls, it was probably done by professional painters, not Mr.Min and his son, so the price for ruining it might be even more severe.


It didn’t surprise him that it was professionally done.


He could only imagine what would have happened if the spitfire terrifying teenager down the hall had been asked to paint a bedroom in his own house for someone he’d never even met.


Somehow he doubted it would have been a touching father-son activity.


It looked recently done though. Brand new, just like the rest of the house.


How long had Mr.Min and his mom been planning to do this?


If they had been planning for it, then why keep it a secret? Why go through with it without even introducing themselves to each other’s families?


Questions swirled his head as Iahn’s eyes moved around the room. The entire right wall held a set of white sliding doors and was open revealing a decent-sized closet with a few odd blankets and pillows stacked inside.


Iahn walked over to the large windows, the dark blue curtains almost matching the shade of his backpack but like the walls, they were a little closer to purple than blue.


He walked between a small 2-foot gap between the left side of the white bed and the wall and looked out the front-facing window.


The car sat in the driveway below him. If he crawled over the bed to the other window above the nightstand, he could probably see the yard on the side of the house.


Iahn hadn’t seen the backyard yet, he had seen hardly anything of the house and was too focused on the people to actually take a good look around at the things he had seen. But he did vaguely remember the living room wall on the right as you entered the room being open, and he thought there was a lot of natural light coming in through there. More than just a few windows could let in.


His room and the entryway were the only places he had noted the décor of, and now that he glances at the beige carpet again, he couldn’t resist shuffling his foot a little. It looked even more like sand.


Iahn took a deep breath and risked letting go of his backpack. He looped his arms through and set his backpack on the bed, feeling somewhat bare and exposed without it, but he didn’t let go of the straps.


If he could paint he would feel much better. Painting always made him feel better or at least distracted him enough not to feel anything at all, but something told him his mother wouldn’t like it if he did that now.


If he gets even a speck of paint on so much as the driveway outside, he was done for.


If he got it on the carpet?


He shook his head, resisting a shiver from crawling down his spine. He didn’t even want to think about that happening.


Painting just wasn’t possible right now. But…


It couldn’t hurt to sketch, right?

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avatar Xhak - 2021-01-18 07:49:41
i actually found this chapter a little stressful to read ... your command of realism made me feel the discomfort of the character ... *shiver*
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