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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317496
In which Kai gets phone call he doesn't want.
Kai hits “ignore” on his phone, and drops it on the table, followed by his head.

“Are you trying to concuss yourself?”

Kai doesn’t lift his head from the table. “Why?”

“Because you keep slamming your head into the table.” It’s clear from Zone’s voice that he’s grinning like an idiot. “That’s the fourth time you’ve done it in the last five minutes. I don’t think giving yourself a concussion will get you out of finals.”

“I thought you were finished with finals.” Iris steals a sip from Zone’s macchiato. Zone steals it back.

“He’s got one more, and he’s sure he’s flunked the rest of them.”

“My brain doesn’t function the same way yours does.” Kai looks up and makes a grab for Zone’s macchiato, but Zone holds it out of his reach.

“This will not improve your brain function, and it’s mine.”

“You let Iris steal it.”

“Iris happens to be my girlfriend. What’s your excuse?”

The three friends have met up at the same place since the day they started university. It happens to be located exactly between their respective faculties, so no one has to worry about being late to class. This is a good thing because when they’re together, they tend to talk a lot. Zone and Kai went to the same high school, and would have started the same semester at university if Zone had been plucked out of Thailand and sent to Italy to live with his mother after his father died. Instead, Zone started a semester behind Kai, and he’d come back from Italy with a girlfriend who also happens to be studying at the university: Iris.

“Here,” A styrofoam cup appears in front of Kai. “Cafe con Miel. You’re welcome.”

Kai’s sister Mali sits down next to him as he takes the cup. She squints at the red mark above his eyebrows. “Your forehead is going to bruise.”

“He’s trying to concuss himself before final grades come out.” Zone says, and Iris smacks him.

“You really think you failed?” Mali raises her eyebrows. “You have a 3.5 GPA.”

“3.2, actually. He failed a couple of exams, because he didn’t study enough,” Zone corrects her, getting another smack from Iris, and a glare from Kai. “What? We share a dorm room, how else would I know these things?”

“Because you’re naturally nosy,” But Iris smiles at him.

Mali is giving Kai a weird look. “What did you do instead of study?”

“Mmph.” Kai buries his nose in the coffee cup so he doesn’t have to look at his older sister.

It’s not like he doesn’t study his ass off for these things, but some things just don’t click for him. They never have; and having a best friend who can get an easy 4.0 GPA without even opening a textbook doesn’t help. Recently, he’s picked up the habit of not studying at all if he doesn’t understand something. It’s a bad habit, but right now he’s not really in the mood to break it. His phone buzzes again, and again, he hits “ignore” without even glancing at the screen.

Iris sees the look on Kai’s face and turns to Mali, tactfully changing the subject. “Did you finish all your finals yet?”

Mali nods.

“Just handed in my last one. It was easier than I thought--” She bites her lip, glancing at Kai. “But none of them have been graded yet.”

Mali will graduate at the end of the semester, so she’s taking a seminar as her last class. Kai wouldn’t be surprised if she sailed through that one too. The thought doesn’t make him feel any better.

“So that means you’re free.” Iris presses. “Zone has a final tomorrow, so it’ll just be the three of us. Don’t say you have to study, you can’t use that excuse until next semester.”

“I’m going to Nightshade. Pepper’s working tonight,” Kai says it to his Cafe con Miel, so he doesn’t have to see the looks on the faces of everyone else. Their silence speaks volumes.

“Hanging around someone like Pepper is not a good idea,” Mali says into the silence.

“I could say the same thing about Rome,” Kai retorts.

“Well, it’s a good thing you’re not the one dating him, isn’t it?”

Rome is Mali’s boyfriend. They had been in the same faculty(Rome graduated two years before Kai’s sister) and they’d started dating after Mali had interned for his uncle’s company, where she now worked as Rome’s assistant. Rome’s relationship with his sister had always rubbed Kai the wrong way, but he won’t say why. And he doesn't make comments about the conflict of interest potentially posed by an employer dating his employee because Mali will smack him and tell him to mind his own business.

Iris is staring at them. “What’s with you two?”

“Nothing,” Mali says, but the word has a hollow ring to it.

Before either Zone or Iris can press them, Kai’s phone buzzes a third time. Zone swipes it, reading the caller ID before Kai can stick it back in his pocket.


This time both girls smack both boys. Only Kai yells, massaging the back of his head.

“Ugh, Mali! The hell was that for?”

His sister doesn’t look the least bit sorry. “Why don’t you pick up the phone?”

“Because I don’t want to talk to him, ok? Why did you give him my number, anyway?”

“He wants to talk to you, obviously.” Now Mali’s phone buzzes and when she sees what’s on the screen, she shoots another annoyed look at Kai. “I’m supposed to ask you why you aren’t picking up his calls.”

“Are you serious?” Kai rolls his eyes as Mali flips her phone around to show him. “Well, he can call and text and whatever else he wants to do; but I’m not going to see him, and I don’t want to talk to him.”

“Um,” Zone raises his hand before the argument between the siblings can become any fiercer. “Who is ‘he’?”

“Our older brother.”

“The asshole.”

Mali and Kai speak at the same time. Neither answer is what Zone was expecting, since all he does is stare at them. Iris asks the question instead.

“You have an older brother?”

“He disappeared ten years ago, and we haven’t seen him since,” Kai's voice is toneless, but the look in his eyes gives his feelings away.

“You say that like he had a choice,” Mali says. “You know perfectly well he didn’t.”

“Why don’t you just answer the phone and see what he wants?” Zone asks.

“No.” Kai turns off his phone and sticks it in his pocket. “I’m going to see Pepper tonight. You can come if you want.”

He walks away before any of them have a chance to answer. Mali sees the looks on Zone and Iris’ faces.

“Don’t worry, it’s not anything you said.”

“I’m fine,” Zone says. “As long as he doesn’t smother me in my sleep for asking questions.”

“It’s really not you,” Mali gives him a sympathetic smile. “Kai doesn’t like talking about certain things with anyone.”

“Like your older brother.” Iris makes it a statement, rather than a question.

Mali nods. “That’s at the very top of his list.”

Before Iris or Zone can press her into revealing what exactly that means, Mali’s phone buzzes.

“Rome’s waiting for me. I’ll see you guys later.”

Iris exchanges looks with Zone as Mali leaves. “Something’s up.”

And she gets up to follow, but Zone grabs her wrist.

“Don’t even think about it.” Zone says.

"2. Caught
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