Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2317612-6-Familiar
Printer Friendly Page Tell A Friend
No ratings.
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317612
In which Kai sees a familiar face
Painkillers must wear off when you sleep, because Kai can feel the throbbing of every one of his bruises before he opens his eyes. The bedroom is bathed in morning sunlight, and is unfamiliar—actually classier than he’s used to—but the king size bed he’s lying on feels like a cloud—so comfortable, he doesn’t want to move. He vaguely remembers Jet’s voice speaking to him a couple of times, and seeing the blurry outline of his brother’s face, but not much else. His headache seems to be wearing off, but his muscles are still screaming.
“Feeling better?” The voice sounds from the doorway, and the speaker isn’t Jet, but the man who stared open mouthed at Kai when Jet half carried him through the door last night. Kai had been half conscious so the man had only looked vaguely familiar. But now he recognizes him: this is Kit, Zone’s older brother, who has a ridiculous addiction to KitKats, and apparently, is an old friend of Jet’s.
Kai levers himself up on his elbows, biting back an involuntary gasp. His arms don’t sting as much as last night, as the scrapes have started to scab over; but his brow is throbbing, and it feels like someone dropped a two-by-four on his ribcage. “What hit me?”
“‘Two guys’ is what I heard,” Kit’s smile walks the line between dry and amused. “But something tells me there’s more to that story.”
“Yeah,” Kai makes his legs swing over the side of the bed, biting his bottom lip as the muscles protest. “Yeah, there’s more.”
He’s still wearing the clothes from last night. The dark brown spots are blood, but he doesn't want to think about what those other colored stains on his pants came from.
As if reading his mind, Kit holds out a pile of clean clothes. “Here. You fell asleep before you could change. But now that you’re awake, you can shower and put these on. I called Zone and he brought them over last night.”
“Zone?” Kai is more than aware that he sounds like a brainless idiot, but the hammering in his muscles is making it hard to think. “He was here last night?”
“He wanted to see you, but you were sleeping, so I made him leave. He’s actually worried sick about you,” Kit is still smiling. “I’m supposed to say that you have a lot of explaining to do when you go back to the dorm.”
“Sorry.” It’s all Kai can think to say.
Kit lifts an eyebrow. “From what I hear, it’s not me you need to apologize to.”
“I know,” Kai has a sneaking suspicion that Kit doesn’t just mean Zone. “You know how to do that One Eyebrow Thing, too?”
“Family trait,” Kit winks at him. “Why don’t you shower and change, and then I’ll give you breakfast and we can talk. Bathroom’s the room next to this one. There’s an extra toothbrush in there, too.”
He tosses the clean clothes on the bed, and leaves the room. Hot water is exactly what Kai’s sore body needs. The clean clothes don’t stick and rub against his skin like the ones he’s slept in, and the toothbrush lying on the counter is new. Kai’s head feels like it’s returned to normal size by the time he joins Kit in the kitchen.
The smells coming from the steaming pot on the stove make Kai's stomach growl loudly enough that Kit grins at him.“Hungry?”
“Yeah,” Kai sits down on one of the bar stools as Kit fills two bowls. He’s not exactly sure why Kit wants to talk to him, since they don’t have more than a passing acquaintance with each other. But Kit let him stay overnight when he could have kicked Kai out, so at the very least, Kai owes him some form of conversation, right? “Sooo…why do they call you Kit?”
“Because I’m always eating these,” Kit waves the mini KitKat in his hand. “I’d give you one, but you shouldn’t eat sugar if your head still hurts.”
“I don’t like KitKats,” Kai makes the comment just to have something to say.
“You're the first person I’ve met who’s said that,” Kit doesn’t seem to be the least bit offended as puts a steaming bowl of Jok Moo and a couple of painkillers on the bar in front of Kit. “Eat first, then take those. It’ll help with your headache.”
Kai doesn’t need to be told twice. The thick rice and pork porridge flavored with ginger spreads a comforting warmth all the way down to his toes. Kai stops eating it only long enough to swallow the painkillers, and when the bowl is empty, Kit refills it without being asked. He watches the younger boy for a minute.
“You said there was more to your story?” Kit’s voice is casual, but his eyes are not.
“Not much more, actually,” Kai keeps his eyes on his food as he answers. “They wanted something I didn’t have.”
“And they didn’t believe you, so you got scrummed.” Kit makes it a statement, rather than a question. “Anybody ever tell you not to pick fights you can’t win?”
“Yeah,” the word is garbled and Kai swallows before continuing. “But I never listen. And anyway, I didn’t.”
“Pick the fight?” Kit is smiling at him again. “Or win?”
Rather than answer, Kai eats another spoonful of Jok Moo. While Kit doesn’t actually expect an answer, every instinct he has is screaming that this kid is hiding something. But he won’t push. Not until he gets more answers from different sources.
Kai looks up from his bowl. “Where’s Jet?”
The question breaks into Kit’s thoughts, and he takes his own spoonful of food before answering. “Out. He’ll be back soon, though. ”
He hopes Kai doesn’t ask him where Jet is, because truthfully Kit has no idea. Jet had slept on the couch last night and then left a note early in the morning saying he’d gone out. So that’s as much information as both Kit and Kai have.
“Ok,” Kai swallows the last bit of pork. “I’m going back to my dorm.”
“You're not going to wait for your brother?” Kit only sounds partially surprised.
Kai shakes his head. He is halfway out the door when he remembers something. “Thank you. For last night. And breakfast. You didn’t have to—“
“It’s not a problem.” Kit waves his hand at him, then hands him a plastic bag with his dirty clothes. “If you ever need anything let me know. Especially now you know where I live.”
“Right,” Kai can’t think of anything else to say to that, so he just leaves.
He uses up the rest of his phone battery on Grab. Once he’s able to hail a ride, Kai asks the driver to go first to 7-Eleven, and then to his dorm. Last night, Jet had said he would answer Kai’s questions. But Kai isn’t sure he wants to hear anything his older brother wants to say. He'd rather get some answers himself first.
Zone is the type of friend you go to when you’re in trouble. He is fully aware of this, so when Kai comes back to their dorm and plops down in front of him without saying a word, Zone doesn’t do much more than raise his eyebrows. That is, until he gets a good look at Kai’s appearance. “Whoa. You look like shit.”
“Thanks,” Kai snags the mug next to his friend’s elbow. “I could say the same about you.”
Zone glares without any real anger. “That’s my macchiato.”
“I know,” Kai takes a healthy swig.
Zone snatches the mug back. “I thought you preferred Cafe con Miel.”
“Not in the mood for honey and cinnamon. I need your straight coffee and calcium today.” Kai takes another swig before placing the coffee cup back on the table. “Besides, your girlfriend isn’t here to steal it, so I will. What’s with you? Up all night studying or something?”
“Or something.” Zone looks more sober than usual. “Getting a phone call from your brother saying your best friend got his ass handed to him screws with your sleep schedule.”
“Right,” Kai has the decency to look a little guilty. “Kit said you were worried.”
“I hope he told you that I want explanations, too.” Zone taps his fingers on the tabletop to emphasize his words. “Like how you ended up at my brother’s condo in the first place.”
Kai hesitates for just a second. “I need you to do that clever computer thing.”
“Which thing?” Zone lifts his brow, his dark eyes boring into Kai’s. “The one that will get me my degree or the one that will get me kicked out of uni if I’m caught?”
“The second one,” Kai’s expression is only partially apologetic. “And don’t do that Eyebrow Thing. It’s weird enough when your brother did it.”
“Kit uses the other eyebrow,” Zone’s own brow stays raised. “If this is part of your explanation you know I won’t do it for free.”
“Yes, it is, and yes, I know.” Kai drops a box of Pocky on the table in front of his friend. “Chocolate, right?”
“This will do for now, I guess.” Zone opens the box and devours two of the biscuit sticks before speaking again. “What do you need?”
“To find someone.”
“And you can’t look them up on Google or Instagram like a normal stalker?” Now Zone’s other eyebrow rises to meet the first one as he pulls another piece of Pocky from the box.
Kai cocks his head. “I don’t think ‘normal’ and ‘stalker’ belong in the same sentence.”
“You know what I mean, jackass.” Zone opens his laptop. “You have a name for me?”
“Are you seriously going to do it here?” Kai can’t quite keep the note of protest out of his voice.
Zone rolls his eyes. “I’m going to start with Google and IG and go from there. That’s actually something you could have done--”
“Phone died on the way over here.” Kai says, connecting the dead phone to his charger to emphasize the point.
“Of course it did,” Zone looks like he wants to say something else, but changes his mind. “You got a name or not?”
“Jet.” Kai says the name to his dead phone rather than looking at Zone’s face.
“That narrows it down.” Zone expects Kai to smack him, but instead his friend comes back to the table, steals another swig of coffee and swishes it around in his mouth before answering.
“Jet Saetangmasawat.” Kai looks as though the name has a funny taste.
“That’s your last name.” Zone tries to sound causal and miserably fails. When Kai doesn’t answer, he presses. “That’s also part of your explanation, right?”
Kai’s expression is neutral. “I’ll tell you if you look him up for me.”
“Fine,” Zone types out the name, and then looks back at Kai. “Nothing.”
Kai chews on his lip. “Try ‘Lianjie Saetangmasawat’. That’s his given name.”
“How do you know that?” Zone makes a face that says he already knows the answer, then ducks as Kai tosses a piece of Pocky at his head. “Hey! I’m eating those!”
Kai throws another piece of Pocky, and this time it bounces off Zone’s head. “Just do it, Zone.”
Zone’s fingers tap on the keyboard again while Kai occupies himself by finishing his friend’s macchiato. He knows better than to actually steal any Pocky—he nearly lost a finger the last time he tried. Zone’s addiction to those biscuit sticks is probably on the same level as Kit’s to KitKats.
“Got it,” Zone stares at the screen for a second. “Hey! I knew that name sounded familiar! He works with my brother.”
Kai raises his eyebrows. “I thought your family ran a car dealership.”
“That’s just one of the things we do.” Zone corrects him. “Kit’s branch of the company deals with flipping and restoring classic and custom cars, so he travels between here and Modena--”
“Where’s that?” Kai knows Zone won’t appreciate the interruption but asks the question anyway.
“It’s the city in Italy where the Ferrari comes from. I think Kit worked with them once or twice too, but I’m not sure. He travels internationally too, so he isn’t home much. Jet’s his business partner.” Zone flips the laptop around so Kai can see. “This who you’re looking for?”
Kai is silent for so long that Zone gets up and moves to stand behind him in case he’d accidentally shut off the laptop when he turned it toward Kai. But that’s not the reason Kai is so quiet. The screen is still on, and at the top of the listed results, just under the search bar, is a photo of Jet.
No, not a photo—a headshot, like the kind businessmen and celebrities use. Jet is dressed in business attire not unlike what he was wearing last night, only there were no bloodstains on that crisp light blue shirt. Every strand of his dark hair is perfectly in place and his eyes look directly at the camera.
“Yep.” Right now, Kai feels like Jet is looking directly at him. “That’s him.”
If Zone notices the forced casualness in Kai’s voice, he doesn’t say anything. Instead, he points to the first link in the list of results beneath the photo. “Try that one.”
Kai raises his eyebrows as he reads the link aloud. “ManiratInfiniteDrift?”
“That’s the car flipping and customizing branch of my family’s company. Kit came up with the name.” He reaches over Kai and clicks on the link. “See, that’s the same picture.”
Zone isn’t wrong. Jet’s picture is right next to Kit’s on the page, and the text below Kit’s photo reads: Kit Kitrawee Manirat, CEO, and below Jet’s: Jet Lianjie Saetangmasawat, COO. That could explain why Jet is back in Bangkok--on legitimate business.
“I thought maybe he was hiding something,” Kai doesn’t bother to keep the disappointment from his voice as he goes back to the Google results page and scrolls through them. “He said he would tell me last night, but I don't believe him.”
“Last night?” Zone’s voice is carefully neutral, but Kai’s eyes are still on the laptop screen.
“When he took me to Kit’s condo after I got scrummed.” Kai’s hand stills on the mousepad. The sudden cessation of movement brings one of the images into sharper focus.
It’s a single story building, painted a gleaming white and wider than it is tall. The front lawn is small, but well kept, adding to the building’s overall aesthetic. The polished wrought iron fence seems to be for decoration or a way to mark property lines, rather than as a barrier to keep the occupants permanently in or out.
On the lawn in front of the building are three children—two boys and a girl. It’s clear from their body language that they’re close—familially close. The older brother stands protectively behind his younger brother and sister, with a protective arm wrapped around each of them. All three are smiling.
“This is the orphanage where you and Mali lived, right?” Zone knows bits and pieces of Kai and Mali’s past, but not all of it.
“Jet lived there too,” Kai’s voice is emotionless. “He’s my older brother.”
“Oh. So he’s the ‘asshole’ whose calls you were ignoring.” Zone stares at the screen, then back at Kai. “Sooooo that picture is the three of you?”
“Yeah. Ten years ago a newspaper came to do a story on the orphanage. They wanted a picture of the three of us.” Kai’s eyes are locked on the oldest of the two boys. “I had no idea why—until the reporter came back a week later.”
“What happened to Jet?” Zone knows the answer, but asks the question anyway. “He get adopted, or something?”
Kai is talking to the coffee mug again. “They wanted one child, not three. Mali and I came back from school and Jet was already gone.”
“I’m sorry.” Zone doesn’t know what else to say.
“Why? It’s not your fault.” Kai’s phone buzzes, and the word “asshole” lights up the screen. Zone bites back a grin and Kai rolls his eyes when he answers. “What?”
“Where are you?” Jet doesn’t say hello either, and his voice wavers between accusatory and worried, which makes Kai feel a twinge of guilt.
Just a twinge.
“I’m at my dorm.” Kai softens his voice just a little bit. “You weren’t there, so I left.”
Jet is quiet for a minute. “You had something you wanted to ask me last night.”
“I asked you what you were doing here,” Kai corrects him. “You said you’d tell me in the morning, only you weren’t there—”
“Why don’t I tell you now?” Jet says. “You can ask me anything you like.”
Well, that's a one-eighty from last night. It’s Kai’s turn to go quiet. Jet clearly wants something, and once he gets it, then he’ll disappear and Kai won’t have to worry about seeing him anymore. So why does that thought make his gut clench?
“Kai?” Jet hasn’t hung up yet, which Kai supposes is a good thing.
“We’ll talk tonight,” Kai finally says. “I’ll send you the location.”
He hangs up before Jet can say anything and turns back to Zone. “Can you print that stuff off?”
Zone blinks at him. “Sorry?”
“All that stuff about Jet,” Kai clarifies. “Can you print it off?”
“Yeah, we can print it off,” Zone’s eyebrow is cocked again. “Why?”
“Because I have questions,” Kai pulls his brother’s smiling headshot back up and glares at it. “And I’m getting answers.”

"7. Review

Read from beginning: "1. Ignored
© Copyright 2024 aracrae (aracrae at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2317612-6-Familiar