Dallas parked his car in the garage and cut the engine. To make his ‘running errands’ excuse appear a bit more valid, he had driven out to the grocery store and picked up a few things. There had been a time where he would ask Ed to do that for him, but he had long since learned it was relatively useless. Ed was good for getting information on criminals, but that was about the extent of it.
Unless he counted all the irritating things Ed did as ‘things he was good at’, which Dallas preferred not to. Giving Ed credit for being an asshole seemed counter-productive, even more so than allowing the voice to bully him into responding to his pleas.
Letting out a sigh, Dallas pushed open the door and dropped a foot to the garage floor.
What’re we gonna do now, Tex?
“I am going inside to make lunch. You are going to shut up for a couple hours.”
Ed laughed.That’s cute. Do you actually think I’d take an order from you?
Then why bother?
“Just letting you know in advance I’ll be ignoring your bullshit this afternoon and throughout the evening.”
Dallas rolled his eyes, snagging his key from the ignition. He grabbed the grocery bags from the passenger seat, slid out of the car, pocketed his keys, and closed the door with his hip. Before he got to the door that led back to the house, Xavier opened it from inside. “Hey.”
“Hey. Get anything exciting?”
One corner of Dallas’s mouth lifted. “Got you some snacks. Restocked your caramel popcorn supply.”
“Ugh, you’re the best.” Xavier walked alongside him to the kitchen, rifling through the bags in Dallas’s hands until he found the popcorn in question. “Are you making lunch?”
“No, as of today, I’ve decided that lunch is an unnecessary waste of time fed to us by capitalism.”
Xavier snorted, shoving Dallas with his shoulder. “It’s Sunday. So… did you get spaghetti?”
“I sure did.”
“Awesome. That’s what we’ll have for lunch?”
Xavier nodded. He leaned back against the counter, hugging the popcorn bag to his chest like some kids did with their textbooks. “Is Bo staying the night again?”
“He’s welcome to stay for as long as he wants to.” Dallas set the bags on the floor, eyes shifting to his little brother’s face. “Unless him being here is messing with you. Then I’ll figure something else out that works for all of us.”
“No, no. I like him being here. It’s nice having someone that, like, almost speaks my language.”
“Good. I think he appreciates it too.”
“Yeah, I hope so. It’s hard being the odd guy out all the time, everywhere you go, and based on some of what he’s said, I think I actually fit in better than he did when he was in school.”
“Maybe you lucked out. His school was smaller, somewhere in the Midwest.” Dallas stilled for a moment, laying a hand on the refrigerator door. Bo hadn’t told him that.
I may have done a bit of research on the freak, Ed said, the words a little more rushed than usual. Oops.
Dallas rolled his eyes and pulled open the refrigerator. “This might be one of the things you benefit from by going to a larger school, you know? You can bleed into the background better when there’s a couple hundred kids in a grade versus when there’s a dozen or two.”
“I guess that makes sense. Maybe kids are slightly nicer now than a couple years ago too.”
“Could be. Doubt it, but it’s nice to imagine children are finally being raised to grow the fuck up ASAP.”
Xavier snorted. “Yeah. I like imagining it too.” He rested his chin on the bag, eyes on the floor. “Do you think Bo has autism?”
“I think Bo’s just been… abused and attacked for existing. I think he’d be a very different person if his genius had been born into a different family.”
“Yeah, but so would I.”
“True. You wouldn’t have had to deal with an abusive or neglectful parent. But you wouldn’t have me, either. That alone would make you totally different.”
“Yeah. Wouldn’t have my better half.”
Dallas chuckled, tucking the last half gallon of milk into the door of the refrigerator. He closed the door slowly enough that the bottles inside didn’t rattle. “Oh, please. We both know you’re the better half of the Silver brothers.”
Xavier smiled. “Yeah, I sorta am, huh?”
“Absolutely.” Dallas mussed his brother’s hair. “Where’s Bo?”
“My room. I have him playing Uncharted.”
“Which part’s he at?”
“Finding out Sully’s alive. He’s pretty good at gaming. He’s picking up on the controls a lot faster than you did.”
“Damn, man, you don’t need to roast me.”
Xavier smiled faintly. “If I roasted you, you would be more than aware of it.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’d be nice and crispy if you had.”
“Damn straight.” Xavier took a small step back. “Do you need help making food?”
“Nah, I’m good. I’ll let you know if my shoulder can’t handle stirring a few pots.”
“Yeah, the food in the pots.”
Xavier smiled. “Okay. I’m going to go see how Bo’s doing, then. If that’s okay?”
“Yep, more than okay with me. And, hey, don’t eat too many of those. Don’t fill yourself up before actual food is even on the stove,” Dallas said as Xavier walked out of the kitchen.
The young man gave him a thumbs-up, arm extended so his hand nearly touched the ceiling.
Brother’s growing a little too close to your new freakish little friend, don’t you think?
Stop calling him that.
Freakish? Oh, Tex, come on now. Surely I’m not the only one who knows about his past in his department of choice. Let’s see, let’s see… The case he worked as a child when children his age were being murdered. He handled that pretty well. Little too well, really.
You aren’t going to convince me to remove him from this house, Ed. Dallas pulled a pot down from the cupboard and carried it over to the sink. He’s not a freak. He’s not some kind of monster.
Maybe, maybe not. He sure does enjoy standing up for them, though, doesn’t he? Like that Vivian woman, the one who murdered a woman because the voices told her to? The one he harbored from the police on a run through the city? The one he let hold a KNIFE TO HIS THROAT until they gave him what he wanted? That’s the kind of person you want your brother around, Tex? Such a dangerous, unpredictable little man.
Dallas closed his eyes, shutting off the water. I’m not going to play your games today, Ed. Bo is perfectly predictable. Unbelievably predictable. He’s ritualistic. He needs a routine. He needs patterns. And he’s far from dangerous. Xavier’s got more power in his grasshopper legs than short stuff’s got in his whole body. And I’ve got you. I’m sure we’ll be fine.
Ed snorted. I won’t protect Xavier from him.
I don’t need you to. Xavier has me. Xavier has himself. XAVIER will be perfectly fine without your help. As is, I’d prefer if you stayed away from him regardless.
Oh, boo. You’re such a bore.
Dallas rolled his eyes. He carried the pot back to the stove, something that was still a bit of a struggle with the sling on, but he always managed fine. Ed, I know you don’t care about my life. Personal, work, whatever. I know you don’t care. But when I tell you I need that blonde around, I mean it. Hiding behind him in that department is necessary for my freedom and survival, and that means it’s necessary for yours too. So unless you want to spend the rest of my days locked up in prison again, stop trying to get rid of Bo. Stop playing these little games after you agree to leave him alone. Just stop.
I’ll see what I can do.
I’m sure you will.
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