CHAPTER THREE – Family Problems
Madolin tried to keep her head held high through the chorus of jibes that accompanied lunch period. She’d had the misconception that most people would have gotten used to her standout colors after about third period, but it turned out that she was a lasting source of entertainment. Even Hawkin couldn't resist making a few well-placed jabs at her anomalous outfit.
A voice interrupted her thoughts. “Hey Pumpkin, over here.”
Well speak of the devil.
She shrugged. The devil could be worse she supposed. It was a stroke of luck that hers happened to be a senior in shining armor, with matching hair and a seductive grin to boot.
He was like a sexier version of the Tin-Man
Before she could even take a step towards them, something solid crashed into her. Without warning, the food she was carrying was launched from her tray. She found herself covered in milk. Little tiny speckles of white dappled her clothing, turning her into some kind of modern art exhibit. Looking up she realized that she had not been the only casualty of the milk explosion. Hoodie-boy was doused too, and he looked furious about it. She watched nervously as a vein pulsed above left his eye.
“WATCH WHERE YOU'RE…” The shout tapered off when Kamill registered who he was barking at. “…going” He finished lamely.
“I'm so sorry!” She sputtered, confused at his mixed messages. She tried in vain to ignore a sticky sensation as the remainders of the milk seeped into her pant-legs and down her skin.
Kamill appeared not to have heard her; he just handed her the foil-wrapped chicken burger that had fallen on the ground, along with the pudding cup, and stumbled off muttering something reluctantly under his breath that sounded kind of like I'm sorry.
She squinted her eyes in confusion. First he was yelling, then he was apologizing? Oh well. She dismissed it with a quick shake of her head and smiled back at Hawkin who'd been waiting rather impatiently for her. His brother wasn’t easy to understand, that was for sure.
If she only knew the half of it.
Madolin ignored the mess of dairy product that speckled the site of the incident and plodded over to join the group. They had at least made a little sense so far. This was saying something because as it was, the school was a very confusing place.
A snicker escaped from the freshman, who seemed to be everywhere Hawkin was. “So now she's orange and white,” he said, motioning to the milk that was spattered sporadically on the blushing girl. The colors clashed together in random splotches on her already-ridiculous clothes, like a vibrant art project.
“Devon!” Hawkin choked on his sandwich, shocked. “Be nice to her! Jeez!”
Madolin snorted at his hypocrisy. “Oh yes, because you've just been an angel yourself.”
The Tin-Man laughed. “I certainly have, Pumpkin.”
Devonchuckled at their by-play before patting the seat between himself and Hawkin. “Here, have a seat.” She was only too eager to comply. Her life had been full of moving around, and it was relieving to have already found a place. Most schools weren’t quite as welcoming. Sometimes it would take months before she found a group just to sit with at lunch. But this place seemed different. There was a sense of warmth, and the feeling of a bond that all the students shared and eagerly passed on. It felt nice to be a part of it.
“Well,” Madolin announced proudly as she was sitting down, “I found the lunch-room didn't I?”
This elicited a wide smile from Hawkin. “I guess you did. I'll show you the rest of your classes when you're finished.” He handed a napkin over to her, which she used quickly to wipe the wet cream off her neon shirt.
“Thanks.” She chirped with a grateful smile.
A voice from behind her made her jump. That had been happening a lot today.
“Here.” It was Emo-Hoodie-Boy from earlier. His arm was extended to her and in his hand was a new carton of milk. In the other hand he was trying to conceal a bundle of napkins that he'd realized she would no longer need. The fact made him a tad bitter, and it was evident in the grimace that he barely tried to conceal.
“Thanks,” Madolin said softly, “but really it's okay. I was almost done with mine anyway.” She was faintly intimidated by him.
He scowled, dropping the milk carton on the table a bit harder than was needed. “Your welcome,” he spat.
After that he simply stormed away. He wasn't really sure what he had been trying to accomplish by buying her another stupid milk carton, but that was not it. He watched Hawkin untangle himself from the lunchroom table and he sped up purposefully to avoid him. The only thing the silver senior would do was worsen his mood. Of all the people at this school that he didn't want to talk to, he was at the top of that really, really, really, long list.
“Excuse me for a moment,” Hawkin pardoned himself, then hurried off in pursuit of his brother.
“Kamill!” he called out.
But Kamill kept walking.
Hawkin kept following, struggling to keep pace with him, irritated that he wouldn’t even give him a chance. They continued like that for a few feet, Hawkin following his younger brother like a curious duckling, until Kamill finally spun around viciously. He realized that the tall happy-go-lucky guy wasn't going to get off his tail until he responded in some way.
“What do you want?” He snapped. It was more of a growl than a question.
Suddenly Hawkin wasn't sure what to say now that he had actually gotten a response. He asked the only thing he could think of that Kamill wouldn't be able to find a hidden insult in. "Why don't you come sit with us." The answer was obvious, even to Hawkin, but he thought he should at least try.
Kamill simply turned and started walking away again in reply.
"Kamill!" Hawkin cried. “Come on, there's plenty of room over there!”
“Not for me there isn't.” He shot back.
Hawkin looked woundedly at his little brother. “Come on, there's a seat right there for you.”
They both looked over to where Hawkin was pointing just in time to see another senior plopping himself obliviously in the seat, never to know that he just destroyed any hopes Hawkin had of convincing his little brother to sit with a group of human beings for once.
Kamill crossed his arms impatiently.
“Just leave me alone Hawkin!” He finally snapped.
Hawkin flinched. “Fine. Still, the offer still stands…”
"Forget it!" He barked over his shoulder. Kamill was walking away.
There were a few moments’ silence before Hawkin finally sighed. There didn't seem to be any point in trying anymore. After that, school seemed to crawl by in an endless blur of numbers and words regurgitated from some sixteenth century textbook. The end-of-school release couldn’t come soon enough. That was saying something.
And here he thought school would be his escape today.
Hawkin sighed as he set his things down on the ground in the living room. He raised his eyebrows at the silence in the house as he made his way to the couch. It had been a long day. It could have been a lot shorter if he hadn’t had to wait to take home a brother who never showed up.
"Mom, Dad, I'm home!" he announced, doubting it mattered that much. His voice echoed slightly and lingered in the silent space. He flopped onto one of the marshmallow cushions like a fresh fish and let go of a long breath. In the back of his mind he remembered that he still needed to scrub the silver paint off his face and hair. He stood up to do just that but stopped at a noise from above him.
A door upstairs trumpeted the presence of his parents (so they were home). An additional thump, thump, thump, coming from the stairs confirmed it..
"How was school?" His dad asked. He didn't even wait for an answer. He'd noticed something else, something missing. "Hawkin, where's Kamill?"
They both shared a sepulchral, tight-lipped frown before Hawkin finally answered apprehensively, "He didn't show up after school. I waited over an hour for him. It's why I'm so late getting home."
His dad sighed long and deep. "So he's not going to be back until late then?"
"I think so," Hawkin replied, his usual unbreakable spirit, broken.
A voice from the stairwell surprised the both of them. "You two got in another fight at school today didn't you?" It was his mom. She came into the room with her tired black hair flying in every direction around her perfect narrow face. There was once a time when that face was always full of life, but stress laced itself densely into her life and Hawkin had been forced to watch that same stress weave its way into every line on her face, even her gentle motherly smile.
Hawkin pinched his eyes shut. "We had a small disagreement. Hardly something for him to not come home over." At least, he hoped.
The dad grimaced as he sniffed at the stale leftovers of Chinese take-out and threw them away, pretending to be pre-occupied. "Gwinn," he finally uttered after a few long moments of careful thought, "I just don't know how to get through to him. That boy needs to start acting like a part of this family! Like a Talon. He's a Talon, whether he likes it or not!"
Gwinn sighed. Here they were again. "Honey, I know. But what can we do? There's something else going on, I just, I just, I just know there's something going on."
Hawkin padded dully over to the kitchen, forgetting about his earlier resolution to scrub his shine away. It would be something to do later while he listened to his parents scream at eachother. As if his movement suddenly warranted their attention, they turned to him.
"Why weren't you watching to make sure he came home?" This from his father.
Gwinn came to his defense, much to Hawkin’s relief. "Modo, it isn't his fault… But, Hawkin…"
Even before she said it, he knew what was coming. He had been scattering little flakes of silver spray everywhere he went. It was inevitable that her motherly instincts would kick in and he would be reprimanded for it. "Yes mom?" He replied, trying not to think to hard about their conversation by scanning the contents of the fridge.
"You need to wash that stuff off before it gets all over the house… well, anymore than it already has. I really don't have time to clean up after a senior who doesn't know when to shower. And I have more important things to do than tell you to wash yourself up."
Normally she wasn't like that. She was usually the more relaxed of his two parents and they always used to joke that Hawkin had inherited his mother's personality, but his father's looks. They said the same about Kamill. He looked almost exactly like his mother, but he had the dark, brooding anger of his dad. It was only when his mom got really stressed out that she let the little things irritate her. Like finding little droppings of glitter scattered about her house. It was exactly like she’d said. When she was stressed, she had better things to do than worry about the trivial things.
Hawkin's mouth dropped in protest, but his reply was stopped short by his dad's low grumble over a stack of papers.
"I have more important things to do," he growled, "than go out looking for a boy who has no respect for this family." Despite his cold words, there was a catch in his voice as he grabbed his keys and headed for the door.
"Modo!" Gwinn's voice was outraged, but her cry fell on deaf ears. A CRASH rang through the house as the door slammed behind Mr. Talon and his anger. The only audible noise after that was both Hawkin and his mother drawing in a simultaneous breath.
"Hawkin," Gwinn said dully, "will you keep an eye on things here? I'm going to find Kamill. Give me a call if he shows up here."
Hawkin barely heard her. Only enough to reply lifelessly, "Sure thing mom."
Kamill wasn't going to show up.
(THERE IS A HUGE EDIT SOON TO COME HERE)
It soon got late. Really late. Neither of his parents had returned yet and nor had his brother. The chill of the night began biting his arms, but he ignored it. It wasn't until after what seemed like hours that the front door groaned open, hinting of some sort of life beyond this quiet tomb of a house. But it wasn't a life that he would have asked for. With the sound of the door opening, came the sound of yelling.
"Well what am I supposed to do Gwinn? I can't find him! You can't find him! And if we call the police it's just going to make things worse! We'll end up causing a big commotion over nothing! It’ll be exactly like the last time he pulled one of his disappearing acts! He's probably at some no-good friend's house and…"
Hawkin cringed, wishing he could slink away from the chaos, from the hot torrent of emotions that were spitting back and forth. It was like watching two people beat eachother down into bloody shells of themselves, but it was worse, because they were his parents. People he both loved, and needed.
"Modo, he's MISSSING!" Gwinn cried out.
"I know he is! But it's NOT the first time!"
"If we don't do something then–"
"MOM! DAD!" Hawkin shouted, breathing heavily. His heart fluttered, and his skin buzzed. Before, Hawkin had always had a good control of the tornado crashing around inside of him. It frightened him almost as much as his parents to let it loose. "Please." He choked out. It was a shaky, desperate plea. The sudden surge of rage he had unbarred left him hollow and drained.
They both stopped abruptly, guilty frowns coming over their faces.
After a long, and painful silence, Gwinn sighed, “Modo, c’mon, we need to get some sleep. You’re, you’re right. He’s probably just fine We can look for him in the morning.” She sounded empty. She was empty. Family was her priority, the very breath she breathed.
And it was crumbling.
Modo nodded solemnly, his face still red with stale fury. Hawkin watched the two retreat up to their bedroom with their heads hung underneath a thick layer of worry for his brother. Deep inside him, a worm of irritation curled.
Did Kamill even know what he was causing when he didn’t come home like this?