***Contains Spoilers for Darkest Hour Before Dawn***
Prompt: Can we have a training session with the Hobbs brothers where Rafe and Ethan find out about Seb and TIN?
Part Two (Read Part One here.)
Seb charged Ethan, the surprise on both his brothers’ faces making Seb grin. He threw a right hook, and got nowhere near his little brother’s head. Ethan blocked it in a swift movement while simultaneously grabbing Seb’s arm, and kicking out, sending Seb hurdling over his shoulder, and onto the mat. Seb rolled, and quickly jumped to his feet. He didn’t know exactly what Ethan’s TIN associate training had entailed, but if it was anywhere close to what he’d seen Dex and Sloane do the night of the wedding when the Makhai had come to kidnap Hudson then Seb had no reason to hold back.
Seb came at Ethan with everything he had, his adrenaline pumping, and pulse racing. Every punch and kick was blocked or deflected. Ethan ducked, and dodged. He was quicker, lighter on his feet which could be a real challenge for tiger Therians. Over and over, Seb hit the mat. Rafe was too stunned to move. He stood there staring at them, and Seb didn’t blame him. But it was time for Rafe to see for himself what his little brother could do.
“Rafe,” Seb barked out the order, and his brother snapped to attention. He didn’t hesitate, immediately switching to agent mode. Rafe joined the attack, taking Ethan from the left, while Seb charged from the right. Ethan’s footwork was impressive, and he kept himself away from Seb and Rafe. As the smaller of the three of them, he’d always been quicker, but now Rafe and Seb struggled to keep up. Ethan anticipated their moves, giving him time to act rather than react. It was like he’d figured out their weaknesses, and was using it against them. Rafe’s strength was upper body, while Seb’s was lower, which was ironic considering those areas were where their bodies were failing them. Rafe his back, and Seb his knee.
Rafe and Seb charged at the same time, and in a move Seb had never seen before, Ethan ducked, spun, and grabbed Rafe. He used the momentum of his spin to hurl Rafe into Seb, and the two of them went tumbling and rolling across the mat. Seb lay on his back next to Rafe who lay on his stomach, both trying to catch their breaths.
“Well that… didn’t go… as… expected,” Rafe said, breathless.
Seb laughed. Holy crap. His heart swelled with pride, and he beamed up at Ethan who leaned over him with a goofy grin.
“I think this means I win,” Ethan said. He held out his hand to Seb, and helped him up. Together they helped Rafe up. Rafe narrowed his eyes at Ethan, and looked him over.
“What the hell was that? When did you turn into the fucking Terminator?”
Ethan rolled his eyes. “You’re so dating yourself right now.”
Seb snickered, and Rafe glared at him. He quickly put his hands up in surrender. “What? I wasn’t the one who called you old.”
Rafe folded his beefy arms over his chest, his eyes on Ethan. “Explain. And don’t tell me you’ve been training. That’s all I hear about you guys. Why’s Sloane training you so hard? What the hell are you preparing for?”
Ethan’s smile faded, and Seb couldn’t stand the worried look that came on his little brother’s face. He might as well get this over with.
“Hudson and I joined TIN.”
“Joined in what?” Rafe asked, frowning.
Seb rubbed at his temples. Seriously? “Not joined in, joined TIN. Therian Intelligence.”
Rafe’s jaw dropped, and Ethan narrowed his eyes at Seb. Neither of them spoke. They didn’t so much as blink. Great. He’d broken them.
“Come on, guys. Give me something,” Seb pleaded. The suspense was killing him.
Ethan held a finger up. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that? I thought I heard something crazy. Like that you and Hudson joined TIN.”
Seb rubbed the back of his neck, and cringed. “So, um, a lot of stuff kind of happened before Hudson and I got back together.” Where did he even start? It’s like he’d been sucked up into a whirlwind of crazy, and tossed around. “I’d been made the offer to become a TIN Associate, and turned them down. Then I went and fucked up royally, and the only way out was to join TIN as full operatives, but after thinking about it and everything that’s happened, that was the best call for us, the best way to keep Hudson, and you guys safe.”
“Safe form who?” Rafe asked, throwing his arms out. “What the hell is going on?” Something seemed to occur to him, and he straightened. “Wait, does Nina know about this?”
Seb shrugged. “I don’t know. Hudson was going to tell her. We agreed that there were certain people in our lives who we needed to tell, so they could be prepared for any threats that might come our way.”
Ethan shook his head, the hurt in his big green eyes squeezing at Seb’s heart. “You joined TIN?” Then that hurt turned to anger. “You joined TIN?” Ethan growled, and marched up to Seb. The punch he landed across Seb’s jaw sent Seb staggering back. Ethan hissed and shook out his hand, and Seb rubbed his jaw.
“Jesus, Ethan.” Rafe stared at Ethan before turning his attention back to Seb. “You do deserve it though.”
Seb grunted. “Thanks.” He released a heavy sigh. “I know.” He met his little brother’s gaze. “I’m sorry, Ethan, but this is the best way to keep our family safe. You know better than anyone what we’re facing out there. Moros? The Makhai? Wolf? Hudson was thrown into the middle of all that shit. What was I supposed to do? Wait around for Dex and Sloane to come to the rescue? If it hadn’t been for them, and Wolf, Hudson would be gone, and I’d be dead.”
Both brothers stared at him. Shit. He may have forgotten to mention that tiny little detail about being poisoned on his wedding day, and almost dying.
“You almost died?” Rafe sputtered. He threw his arms up, shouting at no one in particular. “What the fucking fuck is going on around here? Who the hell is Wolf? What the fuck is a Makhai?”
Seb cleared his throat. “We sort of have a lot to catch up on.”
Rafe’s eyebrows flew up near his hairline. “You think?”
“Why don’t you, Nina, Ethan, and Calvin come over for dinner tonight? I’ll tell you everything, for now, I need you to trust me.” Seb walked up to Ethan, and put his hands on his shoulders. “I need you to trust me, just like you need me to trust you and the decision you made.”
Ethan’s expression softened, and he nodded. “You’re right.”
“Wait, what decision?” Rafe asked, looking from Ethan to Seb and back.
Ethan let out a heavy sigh. “Destructive Delta became TIN Associates a few months back. We’re becoming assets for Dex and Sloane who’ll be sworn in as operatives after their wedding.”
Rafe frowned. “But TIN in Therian intelligence. Dex isn’t a Therian.”
Ethan and Seb exchanged glances.
“Um… about that,” Seb began, cringing when Rafe marched up to the two of them, and grabbed them by the ears.
“Ouch! Rafe let go,” Ethan whined.
“You two are dicks, and I should kick both your asses.”
Ethan let out a snort. “You can try.”
Seb barked out a laugh before he could stop himself. He clamped a hand over his mouth.
“When did you become such a smart ass?” Rafe shook his head. “The two of you are in so much shit. Not only are you both buying me and Nina dinner, we’re going to Seb’s for dinner tonight, and you both are going to tell me everything. And if I so much as get a whiff of either of you holding anything back, I swear to God, I’m going to tell mom the most embarrassing shit about you two.”
“Pfft, whatever,” Seb said. He was a grown as man. There was nothing that Rafe could tell his mom that could embarrass him. it was his mom.
“Right.” Rafe nodded, his lips pursed. “So you don’t care if I tell mom how when you were fifteen I walked in on you humping your teddy bear.”
Seb gasped, and Ethan doubled over with laughter.
“What the hell?” Seb gaped at Rafe, his face about to go up in flames.
“Yeah. Mom sent me to remind you about something, I opened the door to your room, saw that shit, and walked right back out.”
Ethan was crying he was laughing so hard.
“I was a hormonal teenager!”
Rafe waggled his brows. “I hope you at least offered to buy him dinner after.”
“Fuck you,” Seb growled, covering his face with his hands.
“And you,” Rafe said, prompting Seb to peek out at Ethan from between his fingers. Ethan was still howling with laughter. “Remember that time the cable bill arrived with that weird charge, and mom couldn’t figure it out?”
Ethan’s laughter stopped, and his eyes went wide.
Seb remembered that. Ethan was about fifteen or sixteen at the time? Seb arched an eyebrow at Rafe. “You said it was a documentary you ordered.” He looked over at Ethan who looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock.
“Nope,” Rafe said, grinning wide. “Ethan and Cal ordered porn.”
“We didn’t know we were ordering it,” Ethan groaned, covering his face with his hands, his voice muffled when he spoke. “It said “watch it now” not “buy this movie”.”
Seb nudged Ethan with his elbow. “So how often did you and Cal watch porn together?”
Ethan glared at him.
With a cackle, Seb headed for the doors, Ethan and Rafe flanking him.
“At least no one heard it, unlike you and Hudson in the rec room. I never knew you two were so religious,” Ethan teased before doing an imitation of Seb. “Oh, God, Lobito. Oh, God!” He moaned, and Seb shoved him away from him. Rafe laughed, and Seb flipped them both off.
Rafe got in between them, and threw his arms around their shoulders. “This is going to be a fun dinner. I can feel it.”
Seb shook his head, amused at his brother’s wicked smile. It was good to see Rafe happy again. His brother was right. He deserved to know everything. His life was soon going to be shrouded in secrets, but this here, his brothers, his family, this was his heart, and he would never lose sight of that. Never.
Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.