***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 Three (Read Part Two here.)
“You broke him,” Calvin whispered at Seb.
Seb put his hand on Calvin’s face, and slowly pushed him away, making him laugh. Little pain the ass. Not that Calvin was wrong. He may very well have broken Rafe. Not long after his brothers and their partners arrived at his house, they’d hit the booze before they ordered dinner. Seb had been hoping Rafe would get nice and toasted, and therefore take everything Seb had just told him in stride. No such luck.
Seb had decided not to hold anything back. If he was going to bring Rafe in on this, he was going to tell him everything, from his beating the shit out of Trent, to the truth about who Wolf really was—he’d discussed with Hudson prior to Seb’s confession. It was now… five minutes, and his brother hadn’t so much as blinked. His eyes were narrowed, his elbows on the counter, and his fingers steepled in front of his lips. He could possibly be processing everything, or brainstorming the various ways in which to end Seb.
“Rafe?” Seb asked, from the other side of the counter. “You, um, gonna say anything?” Seb glanced over at Nina and subtly motioned to Rafe. She looked at him like he must be on something. Okay, clearly no one was going to jump into the fire with him.
Rafe turned in his seat, got up, and walked around the counter, jaw clenched. He stood toe to toe with Seb, and then did something unexpected. Not totally unexpected, but considering this was Rafe, unexpected.
He smacked Seb in the head.
“Ouch! What the hell, bro?” Seb rubbed the sore spot on the side of his head.
“You fuck. All this shit you went through, and you didn’t once, not once come to me for help?”
Seb opened his mouth to reply then closed it. “Wait, what?”
“I’m your big brother! You’re supposed to come to me for help.” Rafe folded his arms over his chest, his hurt expression squeezing at Seb’s heart. “I thought we’d moved passed this shit. That you two were going to trust me more.”
“We do trust you,” Seb said sincerely, grateful when Ethan joined them.
Rafe dropped his arms at his sides, his voice quiet. “Then why didn’t you call me? Either of you.”
Seb let out a heavy sigh. “Because you got your own shit to deal with, and I didn’t want to add to that.”
Ethan nodded in agreement.
“So you two just decided for me, is that it? You think I can’t handle shit anymore?”
“That’s not it at all, and you know it.”
“Do I?” Rafe shook his head at them. “The way I see it, you two are still in your little boy’s club, and I’m not a part of it.”
Seb tried to speak up, but Rafe just put a hand up to stop him. “I need some air.” He headed for the door, stopping long enough to assure Nina he was fine, and just needed a minute to be alone. Nina walked into the kitchen, her hands on her hips.
“So? How are you going to fix this?”
“I don’t know.” Seb ran a hand through his hair, grateful for Hudson’s quiet support as he wrapped his arms around Seb’s waist.”
Hudson looked up at him, his bright blue eyes filled with compassion. “He rather has a point, darling.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re still treating him different. Only now it’s because of his condition.”
That wasn’t true, was it? “I just don’t want to burden him with my shit when he’s got bigger problems to worry about.”
“Like becoming a burden on you both, and your family?” Nina asked softly.
Seb frowned at her. “What are you talking about?”
“Come on, Seb. Read between the lines. You’re trying not to worry him, and all he sees is that he’s not the strongest anymore. That you both think he’s not the strongest. There’s going to come a time when he’ll need to rely on the strength of his little brothers. How do you think that makes him feel? This is Rafe we’re talking about. You might have been the nurturer, Seb,” Nina placed her hand on his arm, her eyes glassy, “but he’s always been the provider, and the protector. The rock everyone leaned on. And now he feels that slipping away.”
Ethan put his hand on Seb’s shoulder, and Seb hated to see the sadness in his little brother’s eyes. How the hell was he supposed to fix this? Could he even fix it? How could he make Rafe understand that Seb still looked up to him? That he still thought he was the strongest of them all?
“I’m going to go talk to him,” Seb said before kissing the top of Hudson’s head. Ethan motioned toward the door, and Seb shook his head. “I just need a few minutes with him.”
Ethan nodded, and Calvin came over to take his hand. The warm smiled was instant, and Seb couldn’t help his own smiled. He couldn’t think of anyone better for Ethan than Calvin.
Seb went outside to join Rafe on the stoop. It was a quiet night. Well, city quiet. Seb sat next to Rafe, both of them looking out at nothing in particular. These kinds of heart to heart talks were new to Seb. At least where Rafe was concerned. Seb and Ethan talked all the time. They chatted about anything and everything. Seb never really had any sit-down chats with Rafe. Mostly because growing up, Rafe had always been busy taking care of their family, going to school, working his ass off. Seb swallowed hard at the memory. His brother never got the chance to be a regular teenager. Not that Seb hadn’t been in a similar situation to his brother, but after everything Rafe had done for his family, he was facing the same future as their dad, and that broke Seb’s heart.
Somehow, he had to fix this. Make things right between them. Their bond had grown since that day in the hospital, but it still wasn’t solid, and that was on Seb. Ethan followed Seb’s lead, at times even without realizing it. Seb needed to make his brother understand that they were in this together, and if there was something out there that could help Rafe and their dad, Seb was going to find it.
Part Four next week. Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.