The car crawled slowly into the driveway, stopping just before the basketball hoop. Owen threw it into park, turned the key, and heaved a sigh.
It had been a long six months.
Always quick to joke about never wanting to grow-up, Owen never thought that the day would come so soon, and when it did, that the change would have to be made so fast. He was only nineteen, but instead of college parties and girlfriends, Owen was working two jobs, paying bills, putting his brother through the rest of high school, and laying awake at night, wondering just how much longer he could hold out.
He wasn't worried about someone taking Tyler from him, he was 19, technically an adult, and as long as his brother had no complaints, they would have no visits from social services. No, the problem was that Owen was burned out.
It had been half a year since his parents had died in an accident along with half of the basketball team. Tyler had chosen to ride home with him, instead of the bus.
It had saved his life.
"And for what?" Owen whispered. In his lower moments, he found a dark humor in philosophizing that the two of them had effectively lost their lives that day as well. He had it worse, which, in a way, he was thankful for. As the eldest, he had it worse just about every day of his life, so it was nothing new. He did all he could to make Tyler's life as normal as possible, he owed him that.
Tyler had saved his life, just as much as his own had been saved by Owen. He gave purpose to Owen's life. It was cheesy, Owen knew, but it was the truth. Had all his family died that day... well suffice to say, the day that Owen joined them wouldn't have been too far off.
So he worked. He was a waiter, and a librarian, taking countless other small jobs as they came to him. Mowing, raking, moving, life-guarding, anything. Anything it took to put money in the bank.
Owen looked up to spot Tyler knocking on his bedroom window. He motioned excitedly for his older brother to come inside. Acknowledging the gesture, Owen climbed out of the car, grabbed his things, and trudged inside. Dinner would be something easy tonight. Pizza bites or corn dogs most likely.
No sooner had he climbed the stairs from the basement to the kitchen, when the door flew open, and Tyler started speaking.
"Ok, Owen, listen. This guy stopped by and, you're still looking for more work right?" The elder brother nodded in bemusement, prompting his sibling to continue. "Well, this guy stopped by, said he'd heard about you from a friend, and he gave me this card."
Owen blinked, not wanting to crush his brother's excitement by speaking his thoughts on the matter. Instead, he took the card and read over the information printed on it.
"The Mentor?" Owen asked. "That some kind of t.v. show or something?"
"I don't know!" came the blissfully ignorant response, "But he said you, we if I wanted to come, had been chosen for a unique opportunity. We just have to show up to the place on that card and we'll be given more information."
Flicking the card with his thumb, Owen said, "Ty, I'm gonna honest here, this sounds like the plot out of a bad CSI episode. Seems awfully vague."
Tyler frowned, "Well we can at least go and check it out right? I Mapquested the address, it's only like, thirty-five minutes away." Holding up his hand to forestall the oncoming objection, he continued on, "We could even do groceries afterwards so we aren't wasting gas. We're due for a shopping trip."
Owen rubbed the stubble on his chin as he tried to make sense of everything. Tyler was right, he was looking for more work. His hours at the library had been cut back, and he needed something to pick up the slack. The lack of hours wouldn't hurt them in any significant way, but all the extra money he earned had been going into a college fund for Tyler.
"Well, we do need groceries-" he started.
"Sweet, I'll write it on the calendar!" and the fifteen year old was gone.
The older brother gave the card one more flick before setting it on the counter. He wasn't completely sold, but he couldn't pass up an opportunity. He could always say no, if it wasn't what he expected.
The Mentor watched the tall form disappear from sight of the window, and he nodded, motioning to his driver to depart. He relished the thought of the two boys being thrown into the mix. Every story needed an underdog, and the pair fit the bill perfectly. The Mentor smiled; the two weren't killers...