19:17. Jason woke to the sound of booming thunder. Neither Stephan nor Megan Reye was home yet.
19:54. Jason rolled off the sofa and knocked his head against something hard. His mother came into the room and finally acknowledged his presence, if only to yell at him to be more care and to not make such a racket. Still Megan Reye and Stephan were not home. The wind and rain had ceased slightly, and steam could be seen through the fogged windows, the steam rising as smoke and mist, the only proof that the air outside must have cooled considerably.
20:45. Jason had begun to start to worry, and had left the greeting room to find a jacket. He had just reached his room when the noise of a slamming door greeted him. He dropped the jacket he had been holding and rushed out of his room and down the hall. He stopped abruptly at the sight of his rain soaked siblings.
Megan Reye’s hair was dripping in water; her sin glistened moist with the droplets that she made no move to wipe away. Her eyes were puffy and red, and a familiar sadness had entered them. She had mud stains on her pant cuffs, and her shoes were hidden beneath a layer of ick and grime. She avoided her brother’s eyes as she noticed him watching her, and she took off her shoes and rolled up her pants legs without saying anything, but not in a spiteful way, it was more sullen and somber.
Stephan fares much the same. His hair had been swept back over his head, as if he had been running for a reason. His shows were also caked in mud, and they had twigs and leaves stuck to them, as if he had traveled through the forest. Jason had no clue why, there was nothing out there that he knew of that anyone would find interesting, except the Schooling Facility, but Stephan had no reason to head back there.
“Do not just stand there, get us some towels!” Stephan snapped at Jason, breaking him from his act of observation. Jason thought about chastising Stephan back as he turned around and made his way to the bathing room between Megan Reyes and Jason’s bedrooms. In there, he reached for two towels at random, and retrieved them from a neat pile that was on a shelf on the same wall as the door. He held them close to his chest as he spun around and began to run back to his sister and brother. When he got there, he slowed to a stop, and handed Megan Reye her towel, but tossed the other one at Stephan.
Stephan gave Jason quite the evil eye, but proceeded to dry himself off silently. Jason watched his sister and restrained himself, if only for a moment longer, from asking her where she had bee and if she was alright. Finally, and with resignation, Megan Reye looked at her younger brother and sighed. “I am… I am fine.” She choked, her words strained with the force to be happy and they cracked in the air. Jason raised an eyebrow and began to ask her if she was sure, when Stephan snorted loudly.
The boy stomped over to Jason and tossed his wet towel at his brother’s feet. He rolled his eyes and spoke loudly and mockingly. “Give it a rest Jason, she said she was fine. Now quit trying to act like the big bad daddy and leave your elder siblings to their work, will ya?” Stephan shoved his shoulder into Jason and continued walking down the hall. Megan Reye watched him leave, and Jason had the urge to turn around and watch him also, but he stifled it by bending down and picking up the damp towel wad and folding it neatly on his arm. He looked up back at Megan Reye and cleared his throat, but she beat him to the speaking again.
“I am sorry I worried you Jason, but I was out walking with Aaron after The Schooling… Then we started to fight and… and I… he left and I got lost out there.. and I was afraid to find my way back because of the storm and... and…” Suddenly she just burst into tears and hugged Jason tightly, leaning against him as she cried.
Aaron was a tall, handsome, and well tanned rich boy the same age as Megan Reye, but that was the problem. He was rich, and Megan Reye and him had been secretly dating for a few months, and Megan Reye had fallen deeply in love with him, and the only person who knew this was Jason. Megan Reye was nineteen, in the fifteenth and last level of the Schooling, and next year, on her twentieth birthday, she will be expected to marry and start a family of her own. Her and Aaron had had problems before, she wanting to make an official commitment, and him just wanting to use her when he wanted. Jason did not truly like Aaron that much, but luckily he hardly had to deal with him, and when he did, he was at least mildly pleasant for Megan Reye’s sake.
Jason patted her hair, at a loss what to say, he never was good at relationships and did not have a girlfriend of his own at the time. That was not because Jason did not like girls… it was more due to the fact that he thought all the girls his age were either arrogant, ignorant, or too clingy. He had had plenty of them in his life, some he went slow with, and some that pushed him along just as fast as he liked. Sad to say, none of them lasted very long, the longest was Valery and that in itself was only a few months.
Jason had let it become so quiet that he nearly jumped when Megan Reye whispered against his arm. “He left me Jason. Oh he left me!” Rage boiled inside Jason and he led Megan Reye to the kitchen, and told her to sit at the island countertop as he prepared her something to eat. He began speaking about random things to distract her.
“Did you hear?” he said earnestly as he pulled out a stainless steel bowl and fidgeted in the cupboard for an instant meal pouch.
“Hear what?” Megan Reye asked softly.
Jason’s hands scrabbled against something and he pulled it out, only briefly glancing at it and registering what it was before he opened it. Macaroni and cheese powder spilled into the bowl with a soft tinging noise. “The Unified Government have made it a decree that that famous game, Genesis Alpha be played by everyone.”
Megan Reye gasped in pleasured surprise. “Really?” she asked earnestly, her voice taking back on its normal light and airy tone that Jason had come to know and love about her. He found an unopened bottle of clean water and popped the top off.
“Yeah, and that is not the whole story. They even sent the humanoids out to deliver games to every home, a full box to every person.” Megan Reye shifted s they all did when someone mentioned a humanoid, as it reminded them of Cassidy Bree, but she leaned closer over the counter, becoming ever more intent on Jason’s words never the less. “It is got the twins really excited, and believe it or not it is actually quite fun.” He set the bowl on a heater unit, and pressed the ‘Instant’ button on it, just as the water began to rehydrated to food.
He let the food simmer for a minute, and then he got two spoons from the utensils drawer. He stirred the food quickly, then set the bowl in front of Megan Reye and handed her a spoon. He stuck his in the bowl and began to eat the food ravenously. It was not as good as homemade, instant food never was, but it was still edible and it satisfied his hunger.
“So I take it that you have already made an account?” she said softly to her brother. He nodded as he ate. Finally Megan Reye began to eat, and neither of them spoke until the food was gone and they had both eaten their fill. “So what is your name?” Megan Reye asked sweetly to her brother, her personality seeming to be back to normal after warmth, food, and the comfort of her family. Her eyes also weren’t red or puffy anymore, and Jason smiled as he answered her back, just as sweetly.