Chapter Three

Fraying Edges

"Look, just back off!" Sam yelled at Jed. This had to be the fourth time they'd had this argument. Jed hated it. He hated the fact that they were fighting at all, but more so how bad it had gotten. They were almost at blows, and while they both knew who'd win the fight, neither one was really wanting to try it. It was close though.

"I'm sorry allright? I'm sorry that I love your sister, I'm sorry that you two decided to stay with me, I'm sorry that my parents died so that you two even had a CHANCE to make that decision! Is that what you wanted me to say?" He yelled back. They'd been fighting about Jed and Tor for a couple of weeks now. With the three of them forced to spend so much time together, tempers came easily frayed, especially since the AC had broken, summer was here, and Sam hadn't quite finished fixing it. Jed saw the look in Sam's face and took a deep breath, sighing. In a much more civil tone, he said, "Look, I'm sorry. About everything. None of us should be like this."

Sam forced himself to cool down as well, wiping sweat off his flushed face, and brushing his now shoulder length blonde hair back out of his face. It was his time to sigh. "No, it's allright. Tory and I couldn't have left you alone here. You're my best friend, and Tory really does like you. I guess I'm just jelaous." He smirked. "After all, before this, we were closer than just brother and sister, we were twins." He wiped his face again and grimaced. "I'd better fix the AC, huh?"

Jed nodded and Sam left the room, heading for the yard. Shaking his head, Jed reached for his staff, only to stop before he'd started. It was allready in his hand. That was way too close, he thought. Shaking his head again, he headed into the basement, which was actually still cool. With a grunt of effort, he hauled the heavy bag he'd found in an alley a month or so ago, over to the center of the room, snapping it onto it's hook. The faded and abused dark grey punching bag spun slowly as Jed stared at it. He took a deep breath taking in the scent of dampness, of mildew, and the flowers that Sam was hiding away for Tory's birthday. She was at the store today, and part of the reason Jed and Sam's tempers were so frayed was worry.

Jed took a deep breath and lay the staff down before slamming his elbow into the bag, knocking it back. Following the elbow, he twisted around and planted his heel in the still retreating bag before jumping back and way as it swung back into place pendulously. He switched around so his other leg was leading, and repepated the movements with his other side. After a half hour of pounding the bag, he grabbed his staff and quietly started working on the forms his instructor had taught him before he had to quit. He then started working on some he'd made up himself.

Sam grunted with effort as he shoved the unit back into place. "This had better work..." he muttered to himself as he dried his face on his shirt and slipped inside through the basement window. Walking over to the circuit breaker, he flipped a switch and listened carefully... He could just hear it, but it was running! He gave a whoop which made Jed jump, and give him a questioning look. "The AC's working!" Sam informed him, causing Jed to grin.

"Nice! Good job man!" he said with a salute with his staff. They didn't give eachother a high five. Sam managed to save his sigh for when he was upstairs again. It was just another sign of the troubles that had been between them recently. I'd better check our site...

Tory you foolish girl! she cursed herself as she ducked into an alley and dissapeared into the backstreets. How couldn't you think they'd be looking for you? Cursing herself mentally, she ran to where she'd stashed the ATV and it's trailer, dumped her groceries into it the trailer, and gunned the engine, sticking to the back streets as much as possible. Eventually, she pulled out across the street and headed into a field, driving unerringly down a nearly imperceptible path, using the tall grass to hide her. She pulled the sign she'd grabbed off a window earlier and re read it as she drove. It was asking for anybody who had seen her or her brother... they would have to lay even lower than usual for awhile it looked like... She grimaced and folded it back up. As if they didn't have enough problems recently. She hated it that her brother and her boyfriend were fighting, even more so because it was over her. They both needed to grow up. It's not like I can't choose for myself damnit!

After a 15 minute drive she pulled up behind the garage and drove straight for a slightly off colored panel, which when the ATV hit it, flipped up, allowing her to drive in and stash it. By the time she'd locked it again, Jed was grabbing some of the groceries. He grinned at her, and she couldn't help but smile back. He realy is a great guy... This stuff should never happened... not to him. She grabbed her own groceries before he could see her smile faulter, and followed him into the kitchen, where they deposited the bags and started putting things away. Jed was tense, and sweaty. He must have been working on the heavy bag again... That means he and Sam must have fought again...

Jed gave her a quick hug, noticing her pensive mood. "Whatcha thinkin' about?"
She grimaced and pulled away reflexivly. It was too warm for being close. Then she blinked in surprise. She hadn't noticed how cool it was in here. "Sam fixed the AC?" Jed nodded, grinning. She grinned back, then his question sunk in and she sighed. "You two have been fighting again." Her voice was sad.

He grimaced. "Yeah." He sighed and hugged her again, delighted that she didn't pull away this time. "I think he's jealous. Feels like I'm splitting you two apart." He added. "It's been a hard month..."

Tory nodded and decided to keep the paper in her pocket a secret for now. "I'll go talk to him." He nodded and kissed her cheek, and she gave him a brief smile as she headed to Sam's room.

Jed watched her go with a happy sigh. Gods I love you, Tor... He grabbed a coke out of the fridge once she'd dissapeared upstairs and collapsed on the couch, flipping on the tv and popping the tab on his can. Switching through the channels, he found a special on Discovery about Extreme Martial Arts. He stopped there and watched in interest.

It couldn't shake the feeling that the rift between him and Sam was going to become a major problem...