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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2317616
In which Kai and Jet strike a deal
Pepper and Luca aren’t together.
At least, not in the romantic sense. But they both need to pay regular expenses and have healthy savings Just In Case, so they share a living space and split the rent. The house is small, but it does have two bedrooms, which suits them just fine.
Luca brings his nightly conquests—male and female—back to the apartment on a regular basis, so Pepper has developed a habit of either coming home later than he does or making sure her door is closed if she gets home first. Hearing Luca’s romantic encounters and seeing them are two very different things. She’d learned that the hard way.
What Pepper doesn’t expect to find when she gets home is Luca still awake and Kai sleeping on the couch in the front room. Luca is staring at his phone and doesn’t look up until Pepper closes the door.
“Kai didn’t want to go home,” He answers her silent question. “And I know as well as you do that Kai is allergic to alcohol so no, he isn’t drunk.”
“I didn’t say anything.” Pepper keeps her voice carefully neutral, her gaze running over the bruises that still cover Kai’s face, and the scab over his brow. She’s not exactly sure why seeing Kai look like that makes her insides clench, but they do, and it’s irritating.
“But you’re thinking a lot of things,” Luca corrects her. “And the answer to your second silent question is also ‘no’. Kai isn’t my type, any more than I’m his.”
“I know.” Rather than go deeper into that potentially awkward topic of conversation, Pepper gestures to Luca’s phone. “What are you looking at?”
“I think this will explain why your brother wanted to ‘talk’ to Kai the other night.” Luca hands the phone over. “Take a look.”
"Where did you get these?” Pepper’s forehead wrinkles as she scrolls through the images on Luca’s phone. Luca grins at her.
“Kai left his phone unlocked, and I was curious.”
Pepper highly doubts the first part of Luca’s reply, but doesn’t say so. The images are slightly out of focus, but the logo on them is unmistakable. “OmniVentures. That’s where Kai’s internship is.”
“Right,” Luca takes the phone back, scrolls through several more images, and then hands it back. “But interns don’t usually have access to information like this.”
Pepper swipes her fingers across the screen, bringing the image into sharper focus. It’s a hand drawn infographic of OmniVentures’ business timeline, complete with dates, names, numbers indicating the continuous rise of the company’s holdings and assets. The word “where” is written next to some of the numbers. Some of the names have the letters “SP” written next to them and others have question marks. “What does it mean?”
“The letters ‘SP’ stand for ‘silent partner’, but I have no idea what the question marks are for, or what ‘where’ is supposed to mean.” Luca says exactly what Pepper is thinking. “That’s Kai’s handwriting, and that information is sensitive enough to give your brother a perfect excuse to put Kai into the hospital.”
“Nail hates Kai enough to do that whether Chalam ordered him to or not,” Pepper confirms, her eyes still on the info-graphic. “But why would Kai want this?”
“That’s my business,” Kai’s voice sounds from the couch and when Pepper looks up she sees him glaring at Luca. “You broke into my phone?”
“I asked you questions you wouldn’t answer,” Luca doesn’t look the least bit disturbed by the accusation. “You need a better password than your birthday.”
Kai sits all the way up and holds out his hand for Luca’s phone. “You’re going to delete that right?”
“I’ve only shown it to Pepper,” Luca sticks his phone in his pocket. “And who else would want to see it anyway?”
“Is that supposed to be a rhetorical question?”
“I don’t know,” Luca matches Kai’s neutral tone, but his eyes are genuinely curious. “You tell me.”
Kai’s jaw clenches. “Like I said, that’s my business.”
“Was your business,” Luca corrects him. “You can’t go after that shark on your own.”
“I did just fine until the other night,” But Kai’s hand moves unconsciously to his scabbing brow. “Mostly.”
Pepper’s eyebrows go up. “That’s certainly one way to describe it. Luca’s right, you shouldn’t go after OmniVentures at all.”
“I have good reasons,” Kai snaps back. “Except Mali’s boyfriend got me ‘medical leave’ so I can’t find anything else until I’m allowed back in the corporate building.”
“Why do you have to go after Chalam in the first place?”
Kai's eyes turn into black holes of hate as he answers Pepper's question.
“Because Chalam killed my parents.”
The silence that follows his statement almost crackles with shocks. Pepper’s mouth drops open and all the color drains from her face.
Luca’s body tenses and an unreadable expression crosses his face. “That’s a very dangerous accusation to make, Kai.”
“It’s not an accusation.” Kai retorts. “It’s the truth. I just—need something to back up my proof. Thanks for letting me stay here last night. I’ll see you later.”
He goes out the front door before he has to explain what he means.
Since Kai had no regular classes during finals or semester break, his plan is to shower and figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Actually, if he was honest with himself, the thing he really wanted to do was sulk over something he had no control over.
He didn’t get the luxury of either a shower or a sulk. Usually, when Zone is home, Iris is with him, but that’s not the case this time. Zone is on his laptop, and Jet is seated next to him. People couldn’t get into the dorm without a keycard, so that meant only one thing.
“You let him in?” Kai’s glare is directed at both Jet and Zone, who glares right back.
“This is also my dorm, and Jet is my friend, so of course I let him in.” Zone doesn’t look the least bit upset at Kai’s accusatory tone. “You didn’t sleep here last night.”
“I slept at Luca’s--don’t raise your eyebrows at me, I slept on the couch, thank you very much.”
Zone doesn't lower his eyebrows. “Pepper lives there too.”
“I said I slept on the couch.” Kai turns his attention to Jet. “I thought I made myself clear. I don’t want or need an older brother. I can take care of myself.”
Jet’s voice stops him before he can leave. “You really want to be able to do that?”
“What do you mean?”
“You asked if I could teach you Muay Thai.” Jet is smiling, and Kai glares at him.
“I had a concussion when I asked that.”
“We both know that’s not true. My car is downstairs, and I’d like you to get in it.”
“Thanks, but I have a final.”
“Not today, you don’t.” Zone points out, then throws his hands up as they turn to look at him. “What? It’s true. Besides, if you can have a conversation while I’m in the same room, then I can participate in it if I want to, even if it’s too keep Kai from throwing a fist in Jet’s face.”
Jet turns his attention back to his younger brother. “Prove to me you’re not s stupid little boy, and I’ll walk out that door and not come back.”
“Why don’t you just get the hell out of my dorm now!” Kai lunges at his older brother, intending to shove him out the door. Jet sidesteps, and the next thing Kai knows Jet has immobilized him in some sort of weird headlock. “Ow! What the hell?!”
“If you can break free.” Now Jet’s voice sounds very amused. “I’ll leave your dorm.”
“Let go of me, asshole!” No matter how much Kai struggles, he can’t move. “Zone! Are you filming this?”
“Nooo,” Zone’s tone is innocent, but he lifts his phone a little higher to get a better angle.
The grip around him loosens, and Kai drops to the floor in an undignified heap, gritting his teeth against the sensation of pins and needles that signals the return of regular circulation in his arms. Jet crouches next to him, a satisfied smirk playing across his face.
“So, do you want to learn Muay Thai or not?”
“Will I learn how to do what you did to me?” Kai knows the answer but asks the question anyway.
“If you want to. My car is downstairs,” Jet repeats. “Get in it.”
“You can’t tell me what to do.” Kai sounds like a sulky four year old and he knows it. But he gets to his feet.
Jet’s Lexus is one of the few luxury cars in the dorm parking lot. Kai can’t help but notice how it gleams under the late morning sun.
He must get that thing waxed at least once a week.
Jet clicks the unlock button on the car fob and waits for Kai to get in before starting the car. Both are fully aware that the last time they were in this car, they were conversing to keep Kai from passing out. That’s not the case this time.
“If you don’t want a relationship with me, fine,” Jet’s voice is quiet, and he keeps his eyes on the road. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want one with you.”
Kai’s conscience gives an unexpected twinge. “I know. What exactly do you want, Jet?”
It’s the same question he asked yesterday, but he asks it differently this time. Luca’s words are still playing on loop in his mind.
You wouldn’t be this upset if you didn’t actually want him back in your life.
“Give me a month.” Jet says. “You spend time with me as your brother for one month and if you still hate me by Christmas then I’ll leave you alone.”
Kai looks at him. “Why that particular deadline?”
“Do you have another one in mind?” Jet sounds genuinely curious..
“Fine,” Kai tries very hard to keep his voice neutral. “After Christmas, you’re leaving me alone.”
Jet doesn’t even bother to hide his smile. “Only if you really want me to.”

"11. Second Attempt

Read from beginning: "1. Ignored
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