Chapter 2:

Bad Habit

Curiosity Killed The Cat

“Ahaha! So, you had to tell them what your job is again? Did they laugh? I would have laughed.”

You’re already laughing, Kothur thought. The loud laugh made him lean back in his chair and turn away in annoyance. Even in the busy cafeteria his younger brother's voice carried straight to his eardrums. He knew this would happen and he should have just called in sick today. No, this annoying guy would have just come to his door anyway. Might have even tried to take the door off if he didn’t answer.

“If I was just a teacher, like I initially requested, I wouldn’t have to go to so many of those things.” Kothur tapped at his tray. They hadn’t even had a chance to eat lunch yet and Reohn was already asking him how it went yesterday. He just didn't care to talk about it. These interviews happened about once a month, but they were normally around the city. It was rare to go outside the city limits for one.

“Whatever, man!” A finger, shielded in a dark red glove, was thrust in Kothur's face towards his one good eye. “Now pay up!”

“Can’t we just let this go, Reohn?” Kothur pleaded.

“Nope. I know my little older brother well enough to know you have some money on you right now and you just don't want to give it up. You don’t even spend it on anything. You just hoard them like some kind of weirdo.” Reohn’s finger made a circle by his temple and he tilted his body to the side. As he did, the medals on his military uniform clinked. Even with all of his exaggerated movements, his styled dark brown hair stayed firmly in place.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.” He wished Reohn would stop calling him 'little older brother' though. Even if Kothur was older as the middle brother, he didn't like being reminded that he was shorter than Reohn. Though, they were pretty close in age. Kothur was barely two years older than Reohn. It’s their older brother, Fehram, that was five years their senior.

Not feeling up to putting out any more resistance, Kothur reached into his pant pocket and dropped the contents onto the table. Several metallic thuds sounded out and three bullets danced on the surface top. Reohn snatched them up and bounced them in his hand, seeming content.

Reohn continued talking, dashing Kothur's hopes of finally getting to eat. “You know, they send you all the time because you’re the only guy there. They want to protect their ladies and men are more persuasive. You should just change jobs if you don’t want to keep doing it. Stop working that girly job already and come over to my division.” He pointed proudly to himself. “I know your eye thing makes you unqualified, but I heard they are opening some kind of gofer position for me.” 

Kothur knew this was just Reohn's way of trying to help him somehow, but he would literally rather die. He didn't want to leave his jobs for various reasons and decided to mess with Reohn. “If it’s a girly job, does that make me a girl?” Kothur put his hands under his chin and smiled. “Am I pretty?”

“What are you talking about...” Reohn gave him a displeased look. "Have you finally lost your mind?"

“Just trying to say working a job for women doesn’t change anything about me, mentally or physically.” Kothur shrugged. “I’m still just a guy.”

Reohn shook his head. “No, I’d say it’s pretty unmanly. You’re losing some serious guy points. I don't know how you can stand yourself. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it.”

“Unmanly? That’s questionable. Who gets to be surrounded by women all day?” Kothur joked.

“ that why you picked that job? The top brass will fire you if I told them that.” He sighed and shook his head again.

Kothur didn’t answer him. He didn’t want to egg him on anymore. Their food was going to get cold before they got to eat. It wasn’t like the food was five-star quality, but it was always warm and readily available. That’s what mattered most in uncertain times like these. 

Reohn started to take his gloves off. A sign they were finally about to eat. “Though I bet not even that would get them to let you go. I hear from the top that you’ve been doing such a good job; they want to promote you.”

That really surprised Kothur. “Promote me to what? A teacher is a teacher.”

“Don’t ask me, man. You think I’m in charge of anything?”

They both put their hands together and lowered their head. “Dear father in heaven, thank you for these blessings you have provided us. Amen.”

Those that work government jobs are also able to send food home to their families, but these two had no family back home. The brothers always ate lunch together and wouldn't miss it for the world. They were the only family they had left and despite annoying each other, really enjoyed their company.

“Amen.” Kothur said through a mouthful of food and his head still low. As he raised it, he saw Reohn’s pissed off face. A nostalgic, familiar face if he’d ever seen one.

Reohn had noticed the dessert from his tray was missing.

Kothur walked down the hall to the teacher's staff room. The walls were covered in wood panels. He rubbed his shoulder where Reohn had punched him. That was a good one, he thought. A new record for his strongest punch, maybe? All that training must be paying off. I guess he has been looking more buff lately.

He opened the door to a room with four women inside. They all wore the same long-sleeved pale green dress with stockings for a uniform, in contrast to his black suit. Their hairstyles were various mid-to short-length hair-sprayed curls. His coworkers were just about to start their lessons. Lunch break was almost over.

“Oh, Kothur. The principal was looking for you. He also asked if I can take over your class for you, so it sounds like it’s going to take a while.” Yinna spoke up when he walked in.

“Oh...” Kothur’s mood instantly darkened. “That doesn’t sound fun.” He leaned against the closest desk with his hands in his pockets.

“Who thinks Kothur’s going to get canned?” Kiffany piped up from the back.

“They wouldn't fire him since he’s Reohn’s older brother. He would have to commit something grave like treason.” Sibelle spoke in a soft voice, a hand resting on her chin with short brown hair curled around her face. “Must be nice getting to eat lunch with Reohn every day. He barely comes out of the training and research division, but he’s so nice when you run into him in the hallway. Everything he does is just so heroic, you know?” Her eyes turned to him, excepting him to agree.

Nice? Heroic? Maybe that's the Reohn they know, but not really the one I remember. I should show them the bruise on my arm and omit the part about me stealing his food, he thought.

He turned his gaze away unconsciously. It was one of his bad habits. “I guess I can only see him as my little brother.”

The fair-haired Mylise suddenly rose from her seat. "I think it’s about time, ladies.” She turned to walk out of the room. Her posture perfect. Each step came with a clack from her shoes. She left him parting words before leaving out the doorway.

“Good luck, soldier.”

His pulse quickened a bit. I should leave now too, he thought as he stopped leaning on the desk. It was then that he closed his eye in response to a bright light. The sounds of the staff room and school had stopped in an instant; replaced with feelings of nostalgia. The scenery around him had changed.  

Taylor Victoria