A Crack in the Sidewalk
Disclaimer: I do not own the Powerpuff Girls (or Dexter)
"You've gone soft."
Brick peered at Snake sulking next to him. They were off to the club for a drink, but Snake seemed irked with his former drinking buddy. Boomer, who was accompanying them, chuckled but was silent when Brick turned to glare at him, a clear warning in his crimson eyes.
"You want to say that after I paint the sidewalk with your blood?"
Boomer snorted and Brick turned away from Snake, a smirk on his face and a spring in his step. Summer was drawing to a close and a few shots of whiskey wouldn't do any harm. He might have gotten a scolding from Blossom but he wasn't too concerned. They always needed a bit of a healthy argument to make sure things didn't get too dull.
And when she yelled at him she got all flushed and flustered and, damn, he loved it.
"Say what you want, Brick," Snake mumbled under his breath, "But you've gone soft. You used to go out there and get completely wasted and have a few dances besides, but now, now you take three shots and call it a night and go crawling back to your powerpuff."
Snake was never a particularly intelligent young man, but his stupidity had reached an epic level. It was bad enough that he did not notice Brick stiffening and scowling, and it was downright embarrassing that he had not noticed Boomer's frantic attempts to warn him, but the imbecile just had to continue.
"What does she do that has you so mesmerized? Never thought she was the type."
Snake didn't know what hit him. Brick aimed a punch that could shatter bones at Snake's jaw. The second command of the Gangreen Gang crumpled to the asphalt, groaning.
"She's not like that," Brick's voice was deceptively soft, "She's not like the girls you know, and you will never speak about her that way again."
Snake grunted, and rubbed his jaw with his hand. He glared at Brick, his eyes narrowed, and his barely perceptible nose flared.
"What the fuck was that?"
Brick didn't answer. He turned and made his way back down the sidewalk, back to the apartment. Boomer laughed nervously as he followed in pursuit of his brother. It was unwise to get into a fight with an allied gang, especially over a girl. Brick always told them that fighting without purpose just led to trouble. It was always something Brick and Butch butted heads over. Brick absolutely forbade fighting over girls, drinks, money. He had always been a disciplinarian when it came to his brothers, cold and calculating and harsh. However, when it came to Blossom every ounce of logic Brick possessed flew out the window. Brick was absolutely reckless when it came to Blossom. He fought any guy that looked at her funny, and when he got back home he'd antagonize her until she looked ready to burst.
Boomer couldn't understand it. He had no idea if his brother and Blossom were an item. No one did. The only time anyone suspected anything was when Brick flew into one of his red rages.
"Stupid Snake," Brick grunted, still breathing heavily, his eyes still slightly malicious.
"Brick," Boomer, who was taller than his older brother, gripped Brick's shoulder, "Brick you can't go around doing things like that."
It was ironic, that Boomer was now the one forced into common sense. His elder brother didn't turn around or acknowledge him, and Boomer was slightly relieved for it. Brick's fury was rare, but something to be feared when aroused. Boomer was feeling particularly rash today.
"You know, one more year and she's gone and then where does that leave you?"
Boomer could be awfully perceptive at times. For instance he could see that he'd mentally slapped some sense into his older brother. Brick's response was chilly.
"He's not good for you."
Dexter continued to work on the metal contraption in front of him, tightening several bolts on the titanium encasement. He didn't acknowledge Blossom, and his voice was cold. Blossom sighed, she'd been friends with Dexter for a few years now, and she knew that he wasn't exactly a fan of Brick, but he was being particularly obstinate.
"Dexter, I think I really do like him, when I'm not hating him."
Dexter sighed, and put down his wrench. He slowly pulled off his glasses and wiped them methodically on his lab coat. He was obviously formulating a response. Blossom had not come to attain permission from Dexter but she had come to hear what he had to say. She respected the shorter redhead as an intelligent classmate, who had incredible insight for his age.
"I didn't expect it of you," Dexter pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, "You're being naïve, has he told you he loves you?"
Blossom had to admit that, no, he had not.
"Take my advice," Dexter turned to face her, peering up at her through his intertwined fingertips, "He's not serious about you."
Blossom couldn't decide between lashing out at Dexter and agreeing with him. She knew that, from a logical standpoint, her attraction to Brick did not make sense. And, considering her former archrival's track record he wasn't exactly the most trustworthy guy on the planet. On the other hand Dexter hadn't been there all those times Brick was soft. When Brick was soft, she could feel herself fall in love with him.
"Look Blossom," Dexter shifted some papers on his desk, jotting down notes in his untidy scrawl, "Brick and his brothers are known for playing around, you're a challenge to him and he has not discussed any sort of relationship with you."
"Talking isn't really Brick's style," Blossom defended meekly. Dexter rolled his eyes.
"That's great and all, but if you think about it it's very probable that he's just playing you, he's more experienced than you at this type of thing."
He could see the outrage on her face and held up a hand to stop her, "You have experience with nice boys Blossom, you're a nice girl, Brick on the other hand has experience with both and, trust me, he can very easily fool you into thinking he cares."
Blossom could feel herself growing uncertain. Dexter had a knack for making everyone unsure of him or herself. He played the role of devil's advocate to perfection.
"Blossom," Dexter sighed, returning to his former position at the long table, "I know you don't want to hear this, but there are a lot of rumors concerning Brick. Do you know what he works as?"
She did not know. The source of Brick's income was a well kept secret. He kept any of his dealings outside of the apartment extremely clandestine. Butch and Boomer were also rather reticent, but the girls had not bothered questioning them.
"Could you really be with him if he was involved in criminal activity? Do you think he would leave crime for you? Please Blossom, I thought you were more sensible than this."
Blossom sighed, "I thought I was too."
"Damn it Butch, you psychotic ass, you can't keep trying to break the TV whenever the other team scores!"
Blossom smiled. The new sound of home involved crass language and constant shouting, but she loved it all the same. She was trying to reform the boys and Buttercup of their excessive use of expletives but her attempt to purge the house of all obscenities had yet to succeed.
"I'm losing a shit load of money on this game."
Bubbles leaned over the couch to grin mischievously at the pair, "I, on the other hand, will be buying a new dress won't I Butch?"
Butch scowled and Buttercup tumbled off the couch laughing.
"What are you laughing at bitch?"
"What did you call me?"
Blossom sighed. Living in the apartment with the other five was like living with the constant threat of a time bomb over her head. Keeping the peace in the house was a full time job that left one feeling drained and thoroughly irritated with everyone. Blossom would be happy when school began next week. Everyone could let out all their pent up energy at school.
Butch and Buttercup were particularly restless; the two caused too much uproar for the tiny apartment to handle. Currently Butch and Buttercup were wrestling on the floor; Butch had managed to pin her down, and Buttercup was struggling under his weight. She had both her hands wrapped around his neck, ready to strangle him, and he had her shoulder pressed into the carpeted floor. The two abruptly stopped struggling and stared at each other, a look passed between them. Butch immediately jumped off of Buttercup and both stalked off.
"Sexual tension," Bubbles sang and skipped off into the kitchen, giggling all the way. Blossom shook her head. Bubbles was spending way too much time with the boys. She was suffering from the bad influence of mischievous Boomer. Bubbles, on the other hand, had been a very good influence. He was more respectful, more hardworking and more eager to please.
One thing Blossom worried about was the sexual tension in the house. It was becoming incredibly obvious that things were changing from 'I hate your guts' to 'you're not so bad' to 'just friends' to 'I think I love you'. One thing her pragmatic side was telling her was that the rowdyruffs and the powerpuffs could never work out successfully. This could only end in tears.
Brick leaned against the stone wall behind him as he gazed at the expanse of the city below him. Every day, just before the sun would set, Brick would come up to the roof of the apartment complex and watch the sunset. Boomer relieved stress by painting and playing guitar, Butch relieved stress by fighting, and Brick relieved stress by watching the sunset on the roof every single day.
Brick could feel himself stiffen at Blossom's soft greeting. After moving in she'd come to join him on his sunset watching ritual. At first he'd been irked by her invasion of his Brick time but as time wore on he'd come to find her presence cathartic. Today, however, he did not want to see hide nor hair of her. Boomer's words still rang in his head.
You know, one more year and she's gone and then where does that leave you?
"What do you want pink?"
Blossom could feel her chest constrict at his chilly response. She knew that he'd gone out to the bar today with Snake and Boomer. She hated it when he went to the bar. Blossom wished desperately that he'd stop being so ambiguous and just tell her. She had no idea what they were.
Brick and his brothers are known for playing around, you're a challenge to him and he has not discussed any sort of relationship with you.
"I just wanted to watch the sunset," she retorted, feeling anger rise up within her.
Brick grunted, "Go find your own roof."
Blossom glared at him. Insufferable brat. When he acted like this she had absolutely no idea why she liked him. She leaned against the brick wall, a few feet away from him, a frown on her face. Blossom, however, could feel her anger dissipating as the sky took on a brilliant clarity, different hues of pink and orange spattered against a grey canvas sky. Blossom could feel her lips upturn. Brick peered at Blossom out of the corner of his eyes and felt himself waver at the sight of her. He cursed his lack of self control but inched closer to her all the same. He quickly took a hold of her hand. Blossom could feel herself flush, but she didn't remove her hand from his loose grasp.
They sat in silence until the sun disappeared behind the skyscrapers. They could hear music floating over from the roof next to them. Brick had told her that a saxophonist came out to play on the roof around this time of the day.
"School starts next week," Brick commented lightly.
She rested her head lightly against his shoulder and Brick softened at the worry in her eyes. He let go of her hand, but only to place his arm around her shoulder. Blossom was grateful for the saxophonist next door.
Mr. Saxophonist filled in the awkward silence, and he muted out Dexter's cynical voice in her head. Brick's arm tightened around her shoulders, a contemplative frown on his face. She tilted her face upwards, to look into his troubled eyes.
"Go back inside pink, you'll get sick."
Blossom left his side reluctantly, pulling her light jacket tighter around her lithe frame. For some reason, that night, he seemed far away.
Author's Note: First chapter of the sequel-yay or nay? Did I ruin it? Is it okay? Are things moving too fast?
Reviews would be lovely :)