Title: Brother's Keeper

Author: Stormy1x2

Rating: PG

Word Count: 2052

Notes: In this fic, Theodore seems a little more... hmm... shall we say, articulate? They're in in grade 9 here, and Theodore's speech patterns have changed a bit over the years. Cory is – as far as I know – not a character from the show. I just needed an antagonist. :D My first Chipmunks fic.

Summary: When a classmate thoughtlessly insults his brother, Theodore makes a stand.

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"I don't know how you do it."

Theodore looked up from where he was setting his lunch bag on the cafeteria table. Cory Mathews plopped down on the bench next to him, pulling out his own lunch. Theodore obligingly moved his things over to give him more elbow room. "Do what?"

"Put up with your brother." Cory shook his head, grinning in apparent disbelief over something.

He was in several of Theodore's classes, one of Simon's, and shared two with Alvin. Obviously something had happened if he was making a 'report' to Theodore. Theodore stifled a sigh. "What did Alvin do now?"

Cory popped the top on his Coke. "We just had sociology. Last I saw him, Alvin was sweet-talking Miss Harkem into giving him an extension on his project. Said he was too tired to do it last weekend."

"We did just back from doing a benefit concert last weekend in Florida," Theodore commented mildly, pulling out a package of cookies. Lunches went better when you started with the good stuff.

"Yeah, but you and Simon got your homework done, right?" Cory rolled his eyes, biting into his sandwich with relish, chewing loudly; Theodore politely looked away from the bits of bread falling from his mouth. "The way Alvin goes around, begging teachers to let him off the hook; it's silly, but it kinda reminds me of Butch, ya know?"

Theodore's eyes narrowed. Butch Thompson was a boy more inclined to throw textbooks at others rather than read it himself. It was no wonder he never did well in his classes. Theodore was actually well acquainted with him, having spent three days the previous year being his official 'moving target' until his brothers caught wind of what was going on and got him out of it. Comparing his brother – who was clever enough to do the homework, but chose to forgo it in favor of more interesting hobbies – to Butch's idiocy was more than just silly. It was outright insulting.

But back to the topic at hand...

"He was tired," Theodore said firmly. "He worked hard at that benefit."

"And you didn't?" Cory asked, skeptically. "He seems to whine a lot, when really, he makes out to the be the star of the whole show. He should be happy about that. But I don't get something – I mean, doesn't that bother you?"

"Bother me?"

"That he talks to everyone like he's the star of the group, when you guys are a trio?"

Theodore held back another sigh. Lunch was obviously not going to be the peaceful oasis it usually was. "Not really."

Cory snorted. "I find that hard to believe. And you guys must have been just as tired. I think he's just looking for attention." He shook his head again. "Like I said, I don't know how you put up with it all."

Theodore blinked. "But it's true. It doesn't bother me or Simon. It never has." He finished off one cookie, and started on the second, speaking between chews and swallows. "We've all got our share of solo songs, but the way our harmonies work out, it sounds better for Alvin to take the lead. I've got the highest range; I sound better when I blend with him, rather than him with me. And Alvin's got a more flexible voice for playing with the lyrics." These were all things that just were, in his opinion. But Cory was a reluctant buyer, it seemed.

"I don't understand half of what you just said," Cory admitted, wrinkling his brow. "I just know if my sibs and I had a band and one of them went around calling themselves the 'star', I'd be pissed. Don't you want some of that recognition for yourself?"

"We get it in different ways."

"I think you're being modest."

"No, you don't get it," Theodore persisted. "You don't understand what it's like. Alvin likes being the star. You have to. The lead singer doesn't just sing – he has to command the stage. He has to do extra work – dancing, acting, whatever it takes to keep the crowd pumped up. He has to work the crowd, read their reactions and respond to them, rev them up and calm them down when he decides to. It takes real stage presence and charisma and you have to love being in the spotlight." Theodore shook his head. "That's not me. I'm happy being in the background. Simon and I both are. We have our own solo moments to shine, but really, it takes too much energy to keep that up all the time. Alvin enjoys it, even if it exhausts him later. He was made for it. I don't resent him for it at all."

"That doesn't make any sense," Cory mused. "He was sleeping in Mr Gregor's class again today. I've always seen him as being the laziest one of you three."

Theodore thought of the times he'd woken at three AM to see Alvin feverishly scribbling down new lyrics to songs that had come to him while he was dreaming, or staying later than everyone else in the studio to perfect his own performance – rehearsing and practicing everything from his leads to his harmonies to his own choreography, heedless of the passing time. Lazy was not something he'd use to describe his older brother. Not when it came to music.

Melodies and lyrics – they spoke to Alvin, wove themselves around his mind and came back from him in the form of pure magic. In the musical arena, Alvin was a true genius – an unmatched prodigy. Theodore considered himself a decent drummer, and Simon was an outstanding bass player, but Alvin could play all three and more. He was an accomplished pianist, could play the saxophone and flute under pressure, and then there was the memorable time he'd challenged Brittany at the school talent show. He'd been handed an accordion for the first time in his life, but that hadn't daunted him in the slightest. A quick run-through of the ivories, a few experimental squeezes of the bellows, and that had given him the gist of it, just enough to plunk out a halting rendition of 'Greensleeves' that got stronger with each passing chord.

But homework, schoolwork – they bored him. A multi-platinum artist with enough money socked away in the bank (Dave's insistence, naturally) to live comfortably for the rest of his life if he was careful, Alvin just couldn't grasp the importance of school. Music was his life – used to be, currently was, and would forever be. History other than learning tips from other musicians bored him, and he couldn't see the point of geography class considering he'd been around the world about three times (four if they included their unfinished balloon race, back in middle school). 'What better way to learn geography than to travel it?' he scoffed.

It wasn't the same for Theodore. Theodore was going to be a chef, and possibly open a restaurant of his own with Elenore one day. Simon would be a scientist – the greatest inventor of the future, no doubt discovering cures for hiccups, cancer, and airlessness in space.

Alvin would be happy being locked inside a recording studio for sixteen hours a day. Except for holidays and weekends of course. Forget Sundays – Alvin considered the entire weekend, beginning with Friday afternoons, to be his own personal Sabbath, and woe unto anyone who tried to get him to do anything resembling work. According to the Gospel of Alvin, the only work real musicians acknowledged on weekends was concerts and publicity stunts. It was true the hardest work Alvin would agree to do without fuss on Saturdays was autograph signings, but they had come to expect that from him.

But how did you explain someone like Alvin to someone like Cory? Theodore shrugged. "Like I said, you don't get it."

Cory shrugged too. "I think you're just being a loyal brother. Nothing wrong with that."

Theodore's eyes narrowed. "And I think you're being patronizing." His tone grew sharp with an anger he rarely let himself express. "You're talking about things you know nothing about. You're insulting my brother, and it sounds like you're trying to start something between us. It won't work. I love my brothers. Both of them. I'm proud of them and what they can do. And I'm proud of what we can accomplish together as a group. I don't know where this mean streak is coming from, but I won't stand by and let you say these things."

"I'm not trying to start anything," Cory said, looking somewhat surprised. "I'm just being honest. I'm your friend, Theodore."

"No," Theodore said coldly (or as coldly as he was able to actually be). "I don't think you are. My real friend would never say things like that about my brother, especially when it's obvious he doesn't know anything about him." He grabbed his lunch bag in one hand and stood up, slinging his backpack onto one shoulder. Then he turned around – and ran smack into Alvin's chest. He blinked, backing up a step. "A-Alvin?"

His brother was staring at him strangely. Then he shot a vicious glare at Cory, and Theodore's heart sank into his stomach. Alvin had heard the nasty things Cory had said. But before he could say anything, Alvin had grabbed him by the arm and was dragging him across the cafeteria. "Come on," he said evenly, looking straight ahead. "Simon and Jeanette got us all a table. They sent me to come and get you."


A chorus of greetings rang out as they approached. Alvin sat next to Brittany and dove back into a conversation he'd apparently been forced to abandon to retrieve the lost chipmunk. Theodore greeted Simon and Jeanette – Elenore was home with a cold that day. Otherwise he would have looked for her first, rather than sit at the first free table he could find. He peeked another glance at Alvin, but his older brother was debating the use of a new song in their next concert – Brittany wanted to do a solo rendition, and Alvin was adamant about it being a duet – and wasn't looking at him at all. Whatever he'd heard Cory and Theodore discussing, it was obvious he wasn't going to be talking about it any time soon.

Theodore finished his lunch quietly, feeling a little out of place amongst the couples without Elenore there. He licked his cake fork clean of icing, and his stomach rumbled. Still hungry - not really a surprise. He bent down to rummage through his bag for his emergency bag of chips. When he came back up to the table, he blinked in surprise.

A new slice of cake was perched on his crumb-covered plate. He blinked again, and looked up to see Simon smiling, and inclining his head in Alvin's direction. Theodore looked, and saw Alvin's own piece missing. Theodore smiled too.

Alvin had heard at least part of their conversation. And he'd obviously heard Theodore's defense of him. The last one to get sentimental and mushy, Alvin was thanking him the best way he knew how – and in a way he knew Theodore would appreciate the most.

Theodore leaned over, nudging his brother with his shoulder in acknowledgment. Alvin didn't pause in his argument with Brittany, but Theodore felt him nudge back – the slightest bit of pressure before it was gone, and Alvin and Brittany's fight escalated in volume. Theodore wasn't worried. They'd settle it eventually, do the duet (as it was supposed to be), and Alvin would likely write Brittany a new solo to make it up to her.

All was good, Theodore decided, and went back to his lunch with a content smile on his face.

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Feedback greatly appreciated. :D First time Chipmunk writer here, speak to me

of characterizations, OCness and grammar. If I'm going to write more, I need to know the

pitfalls of this fandom. :D