Come on! What's keeping him?
Raphael Caller, better known to his friends as "Raz", ran a hand through his hair impatiently as he looked at his watch. Ally had always told him that his worrying would only get him a couple of gray hairs when all was said and done. He'd never be able to understand how his brother could be so laid back, even in his senior year of high school. Even so, part of him couldn't help but be the tiniest bit amused at the idea of being the first graying 16-year old ever. It would certainly make him stand out…
A resounding boom from above reminded him just how in a hurry they were. He did not feel like getting soaked, nor did he want to be late for school. "Ally, get your butt out here!"
"Alright, alright! I'm coming."
The boy in question, about a head taller than Raz and bearing black hair as opposed to red, came sauntering out of the house like they had all day. He had a bored look on his face.
"Why do you always have to yell?"
Raz crossed his arms. "Because you would never get out here otherwise. Now come on. We've got half an hour before class starts."
"You know there's an easier way to do this, right?" Ally's question came with a sort of knowing smirk.
Raz surveyed the area for eavesdroppers before making his next statement. "And I think you know how that's going to end. Do you want both of us to end up on a lab table being experimented on?"
"No," Ally's voice went soft. "But, I was only trying to help."
Raz sighed exasperatedly. He hated hitting below the belt like that, but they just didn't have time to waste. Suddenly, an old idea struck a chord in his mind. "How about a race?"
The taller brother immediately brightened. "Oh, boy!" He wasted no time getting into a runner's stance.
Raz smiled to himself as he followed suit. At times like this, he wondered how exactly he got the position of the younger brother in this relationship. Ally, contrary to just about any other 17-year-old in existence, was almost too easy to please. Not like himself in the slightest. He led the traditional countdown.
"Everybody, start your engines! In 3…2…1… GO!"
It had started raining a few minutes after they started the race, but neither of them really cared; they were too busy dodging numerous cars, people, cats, and what have you on their journey. Being the more athletic of the two, Ally won as usual, not that he cared. He was just glad he made it in time. He had a long day ahead of him.
Any outsider would wonder how Raz kept his days straight: between debate club, his required classes, and AP Biology class (which would've been added to if his grandma had talked him out of AP Psych and Band. He found the rhythm soothing in its own bizarre way. He acted no differently in terms of the after-school job he had at Munchie's, the local hangout.
This particular day had gone pretty peacefully. He'd sailed through his first 3 subjects and was starving as the clock struck noon. He headed to the closest thing he had to a social hour since the days of recesses had disappeared: lunch period.
He walked into the lunchroom, simply known as "The Caf" to most of the student body to find Ally figuring out his lunch order and the brothers' mutual friends, Stephanie and Damien chatting away.
"…sooner than you think."
"Yeah, that's gonna happen. Next thing, you're gonna tell me that some idiot built a nuclear-equipped walking death mobile somewhere."
"Gotta keep hope alive, Damien. That's what gets us through every year."
"Hey, Steph," Raz greeted. "Damien. How goes it?"
"Hi, Raz," the brunette smiled. After a moment of the two staring at each other awkwardly, Damien stepped in.
"We were talking about how unlikely it is that Chicago will ever win the World Series."
Stephanie shot him a dirty look. "Hey! They've been rebuilding…"
"Yeah, for the last century," He dramatically gestured in front of him. "Do you think that anyone here will even be around by the time they win that 'mythical pennant' of yours?"
"They've got as good a chance as anyone. Now, if you'll excuse me…" The brunette walked off to get her food while Damien turned to address Raz.
"Sorry. I know you've got a thing for Steph and all…"
"No, I don't!"
The mustached man rolled his eyes. "I'm pretty sure you do. Your little 'staring contests' with her say it all."
Raz tried to look unmoved, but his jaw clenched anyway. "Your point?"
"My point is, your 'lady friend', or whatever you want to call her, has quite the belief in fairy tales." He glanced in her direction as he made his point. "Don't get me wrong, I like her, but right now, a Little League team has a better chance at a ring. That or the boys in black and white…"
"…also from Chicago," Raz interjected, raising a quizzical eyebrow. Where did Damien get this stuff from?
Just then, Ally walked over to the two.
"Hi, Raz. Hi, Damien," he greeted rather cheerfully.
Raz didn't even need to ask why he was so happy. The answer was sitting right on the tray he was holding. Pizza day. Figures.
"Ally, my boy!" Damien swung an arm around Ally's back, causing the boy's smile to fade and be replaced by a bewildered stare. The redheaded boy took his chance.
"Yeah… I'm gonna go get lunch. Good luck, Ally!"
He watched for a split-second as Ally's eyes narrowed at him. If there was one thing that irritated even the ever optimistic Ally Caller, it was playing "pupil" for Damien. This would not be pretty.
By the time Raz got to his seat, Damien was in full "mentor-mode", Ally couldn't have looked more uncomfortable, and Stephanie was just sitting there next to the pair, staring at her food as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.
"Baby Blue, now I know that you know that you know the answer to this question. Now, who's more likely to win the pennant, the Cubs, or literally anyone else?"
The older brother shook his unwilling companion's arm off. "How the heck should I know? I don't know baseball. Also, don't call me that! I'm seventeen! I'm not a baby!"
"You're never too old to have a mentor, Al, and you got moxie. Point is, I like you."
"You sure have a creepy way of showing it." The boy shot a look at Raz that was laced with annoyance as well as concern.
The message sent was clear and twofold: You suck, as well as Why are we friends with him again?
The redhead had to stifle a laugh as he told his friend to knock it off. Stephanie finally looked up from her barely-touched plate.
"You guys done embarrassing yourselves?"
"Perhaps," Damien replied with a mischievous grin. "Still hanging on to that fairy tale of yours?"
Stephanie looked surprised—and outraged—that they were still on this topic. "It's not a fairy tale! Anyone can win, Even that new Expos team."
The new Montreal team had formed in 2017 out of a deal between a certain wealthy businessman who reportedly admired the old team before they'd moved to DC in '05. They were composed mainly of free agents whose contracts with other teams had run out, fresh-faced coaches, and Minor League hand-me-ups. 2 years, and they'd gotten nowhere fast. In short, they were "rebuilding" even more so than the Cubs.
"Yeah, when Hell freezes over."
"Already happened," the girl immediately countered. "Remember the 'Beltway Bowl' that served as the oh-so-exciting Super Bowl 51?"
"Point taken." Damien sighed and began to recline back, only to realize that he was sitting on a bench instead of a recliner. His subsequent spill on the floor garnered a few chuckles from the brothers, Stephanie, and quite a bit of the student body.
"You okay?" Ally asked once he could maintain a straight face. Karma was so sweet.