Pack Mentality
#50 Howling


Normally Marco isn't the type to this sort of thing, not with all the inherent security risks. But it's been a long few weeks, and he can see the tiredness in Jake's eyes better than anyone else, better than even the people who actually talk about feelings instead of burying them under stoic reserve or forced laughter. And the usual escapes, hoops and videogames, are forever tainted by the enslaved older brother watching in the window, by the pixilated blood that they can too easily envision as real.

So instead they go to the playground, some nights, late enough for it to be dark and early enough to beat the drug dealers. They crouch, shivering in their morph suits, under the slide they used to run up as children.

"What are we doing here, Marco?" Jake asks one night.

"Beats me," Marco says, because the honest answers – coping, forgetting, running away from their problems – would admit defeat if spoken aloud. "Come on."

And once they've become a Labrador retriever and an Irish setter, he adds {now let's go find a stick to play with}.