Kaine walked out of her car, slamming the car door and locking it. She bit back a few words burning on her tongue as her younger brother greeted her at the door.
"Sup, sis," Noah said, dragging his hand through his dark wavy hair. "Sheesh, what's bugging you today?"
"Nothing's bugging me," Kaine said simply, sidestepping Noah and entering the house.
"Uh huh. Riigghht. Sure." Noah rolled his eyes and closed the door behind her.
"Will you just shut it?" Kaine barked, annoyed, as she set her purse down on the island.
Noah followed her into the kitchen. "Maybe. If you tell me what's going on."
He flashed a grin as his sister shot him a glare.
Kaine narrowed her eyes at Noah, then turned back to rummaging through her purse and muttered "shut it" again.
Noah let out a melodramatic sigh. "Kaaaiine."
"Nooaah," Kaine said mockingly, drawing out her voice. "Look, don't you have some, like, homework to do or whatever?"
Noah shrugged. "Maybe."
"Then go do it."
"But it's useless."
"Do it. It's homework, Noah, it's supposed to get done at home."
"But I still have to play football with the guys-"
"For the love of God, do the freakin' homework, Noah James Cross!" Kaine yelled.
Noah sighed, unfazed by her outburst. "Fine."
"Yeah, "fine." Go do it."
Noah sighed again before trudging up the stairs to his room. Kaine muttered a string of unspeakable words as she entered the living room and threw herself across the couch. She frowned as she stuck her hand behind a pillow and felt some crumbled paper behind it.
She grabbed the paper and pulled it out of the dark abyss it had been in. Kaine unfolded it and inspected it.
The paper had a picture of 5 people- An older woman with dark brown hair tied in a loose bun, a man with glasses and a reddish beard, a girl with dark auburn hair and blue eyes, a younger boy with dark brown hair and spectacular teal eyes, and a baby girl with wide blue eyes and wisps of blond-red hair on her small head.
Kaine’s eyes softened, but only for a moment, before she groaned and flopped back on the coach, tossing the picture on the floor...only after she tore off the top part of the photo, beheading the two older people in the photo and stuffing that part deep into the couch cushions.
Kaine breathed out and closed her eyes, lightly brushing her auburn hair to the side.
Kaine jolted up. Noah smirked. “WOW, she lives. You legit looked dead right there.”
He took a bite out of an apple and Kaine narrowed her eyes. Noah raised an eyebrow. “What?! It’s an apple!”
“What about your homework?” Kaine crossed her arms.
“You underestimate me,” Noah smirked again. “I finished it 20 minutes ago. I just needed an excuse to lock myself in my room for 10 minutes without you wondering what I was doing.”
He smiled cockily and Kaine rolled her eyes. “What’d you do now?”
“Nothing. It’s your birthday gift, genius.”
Kaine slapped her forehead. She’d forgotten her birthday was coming up. Was it Wednesday? Or Thursday?
“Yup, and because I’m an amazing brother, I bought you a gift. Please, please, hold the applause until Thursday.”
Kaine’s lips betrayed her as they curled into a smile. Noah laughed. “Another point for Noah Cross! I’m winning!”
He plopped down next to Kaine on the couch, taking another huge bite out of his apple.
“Hey, is that you?”
He knelt down and snatched the photo from before off the floor. He laughed. “It IS! Duuude, you look weirdly young. And happy.” He tilted his head. “...Sorta.”
Kaine laughed. “You’re smiling, so that’s good.”
“But I’m always smiling. Because I’m epic. So that’s normal.” Noah pointed out. He placed his hand over the baby’s face. “Huh. Geez, I forgot about Christie.”
“Christie Emily,” Kaine breathed, fighting back a few tears.
“Yeah,” Noah said, moving on. “Umm… did you have something to do with the fact that Mom and Dad’s heads are ripped off?” He chuckled.
Kaine grabbed the picture from him. “I think that’s enough of looking at this picture, Noah.”
“What?! Hey! Finders Keepers, give it back, Kaine!”
Noah lunged for the photo and landed on his stomach across Kaine’s legs. “Oof.” He moaned. “That hurt.”
“You asked for it,” Kaine snorted.
There was a small silence as Kaine hid the photo in her jean pocket. Noah mumbled something from the floor, then said suddenly “Why are we here?”
“On earth?” Kaine asked, confused.
“No, in this house.”
“Is that sarcasm?”
Kaine blinked. “Um… Grandma gave it to us in her will?”
“You said that sentence as a question.”
“No, I mean, it’s true, but--”
“Nope. Wrong again. She gave it to you. So that brings the question, why am I here?”
Kaine didn’t really feel like answering that question.
“I mean, think about it- If Christie died and Mom and Dad were bad people, wouldn’t I technically be in Foster Care? Technically.”
Kaine sighed. “Yes, you would. But I’m here. So you’re not.”
“But you were underage when it happened!” Noah protested. “Not that I don’t like living with you or anything,” he added hastily.
“Yeah, well, that’s our little secret that I got away with that, okay. No way I’m telling you how I did it.”
Noah said something again, but Kaine had her mind on different things. The night of the car crash that killed Christie. The morning the feds showed up at the door looking for Mom and Dad, but Mom was already long gone.
“Yo! Kaine! Ya with me or what?” Noah asked loudly.
Kaine’s eyes widened as she saw Noah had gotten up from the floor and was standing by her ear with his hands cupped around his mouth.
“Kaine!!” He called again, his voice echoing through her head.
“I hear you!” she said quickly before he made her go deaf.
“Yay! Look, can we, like, go to the mall or something. There’s a new video game out that I-”
“Let’s go get ice cream,” Kaine interrupted.
Noah was taken aback, but he recovered quickly. “Ice cream? HECK, YEAH!”
Kaine grabbed her purse. Her whole life had been filled with lies. But she knew one truth that would always stay true. She had her brother. And he would always be with her.