"I quite hope you're hungry." Michael smiled awkwardly, tossing his head to throw the fringe back from his eyes in an embarrassed gesture that wasn't quite his usual habit on account of both hands being full of bags. "I...well, I know I ordered it and all, but still, it's rather another thing when it gets here."

He set the bags on the coffee table,vaulting lightly over the back of one of the overstuffed armchairs to land as cross-legged gracefully as if unloading the food had temporarily relieved him of gravity. "Potstickers, eggroll, chicken teriyaki, lo mein, fried rice, roast pork, kung pao beef, and I don't quite recall what these..." He squirmed, fishing the receipt from his pocket, but there was no help to be had from the Chinese characters, and he tossed it into the fireplace with an easy shrug, leaning forward to pop the tops of the little boxes open."China surprise one and two. Something with beef and something with chicken. Lovely, though."

There was no reply, and he looked up, frowning slightly. "Terry? Is everything okay?" The other boy was still sitting in the opposite chair where Michael had left him before going to order the Chinese, but that had been almost a half hour of unpacking and chattering and settling back into his house ago. It really didn't look like Terry had moved at all, and now that he thought about it, he hadn't actually responded, either. His train ticket was even still in his hands folded on his knees.

Michael fidgeted, feeling his cheeks heat and wondering if he had managed to utterly botch his first attempt at playing host. He wished his mum and dad were home to ask advice, though only moments ago he'd been delighting in their trust in leaving the two twelve year-olds home alone. He cleared his throat, gesturing towards the hall. "It'll...um...stay warm for a while and I promise not to eat any if you'd like to go unpack and change and such."

For the first time since they'd arrived at the Corners', Terry spoke, his tone a strange mix of guarded and guileless. "Change what?"

Michael was genuinely baffled. "Your clothes, silly! You don't want to eat in that uniform, do you? We're two weeks holiday. And you don't have to be all posh guest here; we're not like that, and besides, for the next fortnight, this is your house. Just do the same as you would have there."

There was a heavy pause, and the dark blue eyes dropped, ashamed, to the ticket now twisted in the long fingers. The error of his assumption dawned slowly, awfully on the pampered surgeons' son, and his throat tightened in uncomprehending horror as the words clipped from Terry in little salt-edged whispers. "I am. I sit in the chair until I am told to go to the room. I then touch nothing and read quietly until it is time to return to school. I do not change clothes unless I bathe. Other attire is unnecessary, and I do not own it."

He had never felt quite so many emotions at once, and Michael's mouth opened and closed a few times, trying not to...well...flapfor lack of anything else to do. Then all at once, it all came together in a single deep breath and there wasn't the slightest question of what was the right thing here. Without hesitation, he slipped out of the chair and knelt beside Terry, smiling with all the love a boy's refusal to take no for an answer could muster. "Then I'm sorry, because those aren'tthe rules here. You can borrow some of my clothes, and we're going to take over this place, and we're going to make a mess, and we're going to be loud, and we're going to eat ourselves silly on this stuff and whatever else we find in the pantry. And it's going to be okay, and it's going to start with this."

Michael held up the softly steaming fried tube he had grabbed on his way past the coffee table, and Terry stared at it in bafflement. "What is that?"

"Ancient Chinese friendship eggroll."