Jackson stood there, strong and resolute, shielding Arlo with his body.
Arlo cowered behind his older brother. Tiny hands gripping the older boy's now blood-stained worn shirt. It was always like this. Jackson taking the blows for Arlo. (This time Arlo had tripped over some glass vials Mr. Dad left out, cutting his hands open and waking the crazed man.)
Arlo letting him.
But not anymore! He was 8, surely he was old enough to help his brother, now? After all, Jackson was only 14. That was only like 6 years older.
Arlo didn’t move.
Later Arlo was caught by Jackson doing push-ups, blood staining the wooden floor, Jackson stopped him and brought out the First Aid. His big brother assured him that he would always be protected. That he didn’t have to worry. To focus on studying.
“C’mon, promise me, little man.”
“I can protect you too!”
Jackson ruffled Arlo’s hair, “No, just study. Promise me you'll leave the protecting to me.”
Arlo nodded stiffly, feeling insulted, “I hate you!”
“Nah, you don’t,” grinned Jackson.
Since they were little they were different. Both of them. For one they were stronger than the other little boys. They were faster too. Smarter, for sure. Jackson focused his time on increasing his strength but malnutrition kept him small. Arlo has read the textbooks Jackson stole from Mr. Dad's office. He memorized everything and grasped the concepts easily.
He was sure that both the physical snd mental capabilities were beyond the norm. Of course, Arlo never had the chance to make the proper comparisons since Mr. Dad kept them locked in. Mr. Scientist. Mr. Obsessed-With-Genetic-Mutation.
Until one night, when kids Jackson’s age snuck in and talked to Jackson. Arlo remembered watching from under the bed where Jackson had hidden him. Jackson gave him the rusty old phone and headphones, Arlo pretended to be engrossed with it but shoved it aside as soon as Jackson let the strangers in. They were saying a lot of things he didn’t completely understand. He understood some of it, about how Jackson and Arlo were special. How they had a place for Jackson. How there was a secret war to fight.
They said that Arlo couldn’t go...that he was too young.
Jackson refused then, saying that he wouldn’t leave his little brother to rot. And other things like that. Arlo couldn’t hear much over his own heartbeat.
Somehow... they convinced Jackson to go- Jackson snuck out that night. Leaving Arlo asleep under the bed, still hiding.
Mr. Dad was mad. He demanded Arlo give him answers.
Of course, Arlo didn’t have any.
Dad- father, ‘Sir’...whatever you could call the crazy man locked himself and Arlo in the lab. The weeks were pure torture, literally. Tazers. Blades. Poison. All of it, he was at mercy to...untill his advanced healing kicked in and it all started all over.
His voice had stopped working with all his screaming. Throaty gasps of pain escaped him instead.
Arlo remembered hating Jackson then.
He could have become stronger. Better suited to fend for himself but he didn’t, trusting Jackson would protect him.
Look where that got him. Was this...betrayal? His only family... left him 'to rot'.
It felt like months but it was (apparently) actually two weeks when Jackson showed up again, he was broad-shouldered and well-muscled. Sharp faced and mature.
Jackson and the other kids fought like some kind of super ninjas and took Arlo far away. Arlo couldn't walk for himself. He couldn't even sit up properly. He could barely think straight.
Jackson, he thought, Jackson’s here.
Jackson who looked like Arlo. It was Jackson, it was Jackson's voice that was yelling, and demanding answers. It was Jackson that was carrying him and rushing him to a crunchy bed.
With what little is left of his voice he said, “I hate you.”
He didn’t mean it.
Jackson practically sobbed, “No, you don’t”
No, he didn’t.
Arlo was quickly accepted and beloved. All the muscular men and women called him ‘mature’ and ‘moody’ and ‘intelligent.
He was the brain kid.
The one who knew how to perform surgery just by reading about it. The one who mastered everything he read about. The one who never seemed to show much emotion. He was also… Jackson’s little brother.
Not that he minded.
Jackson was so cool!
He fought bad guys! And beat up the crowd! He went on a bunch of secret missions and all of them went well! He was damn proud to have Jackson as his big brother. Arlo was 14 now, nearly 15. Jackson was 21.
Arlo was learning how to hack into a military base when he heard the Sirens. The Sirens were an alarm that rang whenever an injury that couldn’t be treated on the run has arrived, always nearly fatal. Always very painful and severe.
He was usually requested. So when the Sirens rang he rushed to the front. Pushing past agents and doctors to inspect that patient. He was never squeamish but he wanted to barf when he saw it.
It was...it was Jackson.
Numbness tingled through him and it was all he could do to not faint. The head doctor, Robert, placed a quick hand on his shoulder “Best to sit this one out, son.”
Arlo nodded numbly.
And watched, almost unblinkingly, as they performed on his brother. It was a terrible case. Anyone else would have died. But he was Jackson. Jackson with advanced healing, Jackson who was seemingly invincible….but he looked so pale…
He followed slowly behind the crowd as they took the now-stable Jackson to the main hospital headquarters.
Arlo sat next to his brother. Jackson. Tan face bloodless, grey eyes glazed, body limp. Without his bravado and proud posture, he looked much smaller, even with all his muscles.
Arlo glared at the ‘friends’, the agents who went on the mission. Cassie sported a limp and cut, Wood a broken arm...Ape a busted lip. They visited every once in a while but never stayed long.
He suspected that to some degree they feared him. Knowledge could intimidate more than brawn. Arlo fell asleep in the chair. He woke up to find grey eyes staring intently at him.
“What were you thinking?”
“...it was the best plan.”
The friends have taken turns explaining what happened. How Jackson was stupidly self-sacrificial. How that nearly cost him his life. How Jackson saved a whole building of people...a bunch of that stuff. But all Arlo could really focus on was the fact that Jackson nearly died.
Why did it feel like he was the older sibling?
“It was reckless,” snapped Arlo “and you know it.”
“I have advanced healing and-”
“What about me?”
Arlo swallowed, “If you died... I’d have to train too, wouldn't I? To finish your mission.”
Jackson paled, “No- this was the final phase…”
Arlo caught a whiff of floral perfume, “Is that right, Ape?”
He heard a strangled yelp, surprise.
“Yes- he is done with his deal. He can do whatever he likes. More lowkey missions. College- as long as he stays under the radar.”
Arlo didn’t turn to face the petite redhead, he was still glaring at his older brother “But you want to stay?”
“I-it’s just. When you can do what we can do...it’s only right.”
He grit his teeth, “Whatever. But no more Level 6 or above missions, at least no more E.O.W business.”
Jackson smiled, “I know, lil bro-” Arlo cringed “that was my plan.”
Arlo stared, “Promise?”
“Jeez, you girl....hey! Put that stink eye away… I promise. Want my pinky?”
Finally, Arlo smiled, shaking his head, “Just checking.”
Ape stepped forward, something in her indicated that she wanted to talk with Jackson alone.
He stood, “ Hate you, dummy.”
Jackson’s laugher followed him out “Liar!”
Yes...he was a liar.
Betrayal has many different definitions. One of them is to break someone's trust and intentionally put someone dear in danger.
So...yes, Arlo’s brother betrayed him.
“How stupid are you?” Arlo hissed at his brother.
Silence. The only sound was the buzzing of the machines. The whirring of the air conditioning. The beeping of the heart monitor.
“Seriously,” he swallowed “using your body to muffle a bomb?”
He kicked the bed legs, “Any dumber and you’ll be thinking backwards.”
“A-and, you promised. I trusted you- you said...you said you were done with E.O.W business...you lied! You liED, YOU BASTARD!”
“You fucking lied…” his lower lip trembled “do you know what you did? Huh? Well, do ya? You fucking got involved put yourself in a damned coma and left me to pick up the mess.”
“You are twenty-fucking-four...and now I have to fucking clean everything up…”
“Well...are you going to say something?!!!” He glared, “You-you said you’d project me. But now, you dumb asshole, you can't even breathe without those stupid tubes…”
“You betrayed my trust, man” he huffed, tasting his own tears “now… I'mma have to protect you. I’m going to do it… to be you, but better. I’ll fucking destroy everything that you tried to end...and then when you wake up... I’ll show you...I can break promises too.”
He crushed the chair arm with his fist, “Bastard, I fucking hate you.”
Sobbing he sat there, hunched over a still body, waiting for his brother to say ‘no, you don’t.’
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Ooopsss ---- do not hate me please!!!! Just kidding, very nice story, with unique title , well done .
:D thanks for commenting, if you happen to be interested in a part two, there's 'I'll protect you'. Either way, have a good day and stay safe!!
That was only like 6 years older. So don't say like, it sounds immature, there were a few typos. It was an interesting story. Keep it up and stay safe! I wrote a story in the same prompt and would appreciate it if you read it and gave me feedback as well! And if you liked it share it with others:D
thanks for the review and the 'like', just to make clear, was because the lil boy was indeed immature. I'm glad you caught onto that. I'll probably drop by your story soon enough :D. stay safe *-* cc
Okay:D Stay safe!
Short? I'm not done with these dudes ;)