Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.
Rhys was sitting on the couch in 404, watching the kaleidoscope colors of the TV and high off his tits, when the door opened to reveal Ethan. The elder Hartman had dark purple bags under his eyes, his blonde hair tousled and greasy from sweat, his apron stained and his cheeks pink from the cold. He sighed loudly as he dragged himself over the apartment threshold, tossing his keys onto the kitchen table. There was no doubt about it, Ethan was exhausted.
Rhys turned around to look at his older brother. "How was work?"
"Fine," Ethan sighed, shouldering off his jacket. Rhys saw that there was a new burn mark on the inside of Ethan's forearm - another one that would scar and be added to the collection. "Had a couple of rowdy tables, but it's fine."
Ethan worked as a server and cook at the Two Wolves diner, a local mom-and-pop business not far from where they lived. It wasn't unusual for him to work late and pull double or sometimes even triple shifts, knowing that it was hard for Rhys to work because of the younger brother's bipolar disorder and incessant drug problem.
Rhys turned his head to stare unseeingly at the TV. "Mom texted me today."
He heard Ethan come to a standstill in the kitchen. The refrigerator kicked on, filling the silence.
"What did she say?" Ethan's voice sounded forcefully calm.
"She wants to come into town for my birthday," Rhys told his lap. He waited a few seconds. "Is that okay?"
"If that's what you want," came Ethan's reply from the kitchen. Rhys could tell by the way Ethan slammed the cabinet door closed that he wasn't happy with the suggestion. "Are you hungry?"
"Had dinner downstairs," Rhys answered. "I saved you a burrito, it's in the fridge."
"You're a saint," Ethan opened the fridge and pulled the foil-wrapped burrito off the top shelf, unwrapping it and setting it on a paper plate before putting it in the microwave. Rhys joined him in the kitchen, opening the fridge to get a can of Dr. Pepper.
"I'm having someone over for dinner tomorrow."
Rhys paused, turning his head to stare at his brother's back. "What?"
"A 'friend'." Rhys repeated. "Explain."
"Her name's Leah."
"Oh, so a girl," Rhys grinned. "Should I get you a box of condoms?"
"Shut up," Ethan muttered, his cheeks and the back of his neck going red. "Just be on your best behavior tomorrow, okay?"
"So you do like her," Rhys popped the tab on the can and took a drink. "And not just like, or else you'd take her out somewhere. You like her enough to bring her home."
"Do you have to be such a little shit about it?" Ethan sighed with exasperation, taking his burrito out of the microwave.
“As your little brother, yes.”
“I swear, if you make any sex jokes when she’s here tomorrow - “
“I’ll be up in my room, making no noise and pretending I don’t exist,” Rhys said in a bad British accent. His high was starting to wear off again.
“Well I want her to meet you, so no.” Ethan took a bite out of his burrito, then swore loudly. “You little fucker, you put jalapenos in this.”