fuzzLvr: i know you got a kid brother

ninjaPuppetMaster: uh, so? an who the fuck are you, dude

fL: i know all kindsa shit about you man

nPM:dude are you one of those crazy stalkers

nPM: cuz

nPM: i dont sell shit to whackjobs

nPM: just sayin

nPM: you be gettin' the almighty Banhammah of Thor

nPM: be rockin yo world

fL: can't stop Me i kno all kinds of shit and i am gunna make you pay

nPM: ...

nPM: ?

fL: dont act like you dont know

nPM: Okay, funtimez over, jerkoff. Who the fuck are you.

fL: got yur attention.

fL: asshole you made her leave me

nPM: I am in no way responsible for any and all decisions made by the female of the species after they have beholden my hawt bod and l33t skillz, yo. They just can't be resistin.

fL: so fuckin like you

fL: she found out about me an you an your shit

nPM: I do not think we are on the same line, man. Your ride left hours ago. Step off.

fL: FUCK YOU

fL: YOU RUINED MY LIFE AND NOW I"M GOING TO RUIN YOURS

fL: SHE WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO LOVED ME AND NOW SHE HATES ME BECAUSE SHE ZFOUND MY TOYS

nPM: I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO YOU ARE

fL: it doesnt matter

fL: you will only ever know me as the guy who fucked you up

nPM: Why am I still talking to you. This shit is lame. I got a kid to feed.

fL: you leave, ur only gonna mis whut im gunna do 2 u.

fL: still there?

fL: i got family in social work i asked them hypothetically

fL: if some dude has porn website he runs from his house

fL: with his kid

fL: is that child abuse?

fL: gues what motherfocker

fL: IT IS

fL: .org/

ninjaPuppetMaster: No

fL: watch me

nPM: no dont you even fucking

fL: 2 l8 haha

nPM: OH FUCK YOU YOU MOTHERFUCKER

nPM: OH GOD

nPM: ASSHOLE

ninjaPuppetMaster stops pestering fuzzLvr at 23:18

It is a long time that Bro stares at his computer screen, not really seeing anything. It switches to its screensaver, and for a brief second, he catches sight of his own face before a wash of colors overtakes the black.

If someone had stuck up Dave at gunpoint, it might produce the same expression he is wearing now.

Oh God. Oh God not this. Not this not this not this. He wants to flip the fuck out. Do a myriad of violent things. Scream. Maybe even cry a little. Because goddamnit this shit is officially off the suckitude charts. Because even if Dave is an awesome kid who can handle naked puppet ass, the great state of Texas frowns upon exposing minors to the deviations of adults and puppets.

But he can't flip the fuck out.

He has a kid to feed.

An apartment to clean for the inevitable CPS visit.

A gig to get ready for tonight.

He doesn't realize it until Dave ambles into the livingroom that he's sitting with his elbows on the table, fingers dug into his hair. He looks up, and tries to smoothe out his face when Dave does a double take at him. Kid's goddamn observant. Bro takes in a breath and stands, cracking out the kinks in his back, and moves to the kitchen, ruffling his brother's hair as he passes. He doesn't miss the tightness on Dave's face, that sign that he knows something is up. Bro tries to ignore it. "What d'you wanna eat, dude? Gotta be short, 'cause I gotta get packin' for that sweet fuckin' gig tonight."

"You mean lame ass gig full of grandpas and their hookers."

Bro laughs, and it's genuine, and he feels something like his heart being removed as he wonders how many more times he and his brother can exchange shit lke this.

As he rifles through the lower cabinets, which almost always contain food, he swears to himself that no matter what happens, Dave will not leave him.

The world will burn first.

Dave comes home one day to the apartment looking suspiciously bare. For a moment, he wonders with acute irony if Bro took off and left him behind.

Oh, OH how the irony.

But unlikely.

He drops his backpack on the floor near the door where he always leaves it, and heads to the kitchen. Learnin' be hungry work, yo. Bein' the future generation is taxing beyond measure. He doesn't holler for Bro, since it's unlikely he's home right now; he's usually out trying to score gigs, or working some crappy part time job to hold them over when their cash got low.

He opens the fridge, and is met by a spotless interior. Even a few food items, like a loaf of Wonder Bread and a jar of opened strawberry preserves.

WHAT.

Thoroughly weirded out, he shuts it again, and gives the polished metal surface a blank stare. Which is when he realizes the reflection of the kitchen/living room behind him is way less cluttered than it usually is. He turns, eying the space. Cal must be in the trunk, because he's definitely not out dominating the scene. No empty soda cans or chip bags, takeout food cartons, or various flavors of puppet ass. Hell, even some of the posters are down from the walls. The deathtrap cords that pretty much function as carpeting in the main room are all securely tucked away under carpeting, lining walls, or snaking under furniture.

It even smells different. It doesn't smell like home. It smells kinda empty. Cause, let's face it, it usually smells like a man-cave. Or... boy-cave? He's not sure, given their respective ages, what their cave would be classified as. But it is manly as fuck, whatever it decides to be.

He hears movement in the bathroom. Either it's Bro or some mad cleaning woman out for revenge against all the filth in the world. Dave cautiously tiptoes to investigate, peering around the door frame to find Bro on his knees next to the shower stall scrubbing at the crappy linoleum siding. A long time ago it had become an orangey-brown mess from rust and mineral deposits, and Dave is somewhere between surprised and impressed that Bro has managed to bleach the fuck out of a spot the size of a dinner plate. The small space reeks of cleaning fluids, and it kind of makes Dave light headed. It would be small wonder if Bro somehow managed not to get high off of all this. Or dead.

"Bro?"

Bro looks over his shoulder with a kind of frazzled, "Hey, sup" expression, and tosses a salute at him with his chin. He's not wearing his shades, and his lids are irritated from the fumes, red and a little puffy, and Dave can see his brown eyes a little bloodshot.

It's not like he's never seen his brother stressed or hassled or mussed up before. But it's all so random and without preamble, and generally it's an environmental thing and not a mental thing. And this is just... a little weird. So Dave figures he'll cut through the bullshit and go with it. "What are you doing? And why?"

"Cleaning, man. We got some official company."

"You... invited your manager over? Generally they don't ask to inspect your bathroom."

Bro gives a little laugh as he wrings out his cloth with those knotty hands of his and begins scrubbing at the wall again. "Nope. Something way, way less cool."

Dave catches something in his brother's tone. He isn't sure what it was, be he's sure he doesn't like it. "What's going on." His voice drops it's needling tone, now just flat and maybe a little too quiet.

Bro doesn't answer right away. He seems pretty dedicated to that wall, like maybe he's considering marrying it and having horrible zoning-law breaking mutant offspring. Finally he puts down the rag, and pivots on his knee to face Dave, combing his eyes over his face. He reaches out and grabs Dave's wrists, which Dave is working on stuffing as far as he can into his copious pockets.

Oh shit what is this serious moment, what is going on. This is not like Bro.

"We've got some social workers coming over. They're gonna take a look around, talk to you, talk to me, and then they'll be outta here and offa our backs. Dig?" He raises one eyebrow. Before Dave can let loose the torrent of questions that hadn't quite jostled loose from his lips, Bro breaks in. "Listen: they're gonna ask you stuff like if you're happy here with me, if I ever hurt you or say mean things to you." A sly, ironic smile slipped across his face, "I mean, we both know we fuck each other up something good. But those guys are gonna think I hate you or I'm not fit to..." a thought seems to dawn on Bro, because his brows slowly draw together, "Raise you." A silence falls between them.

Dave shatters it. "Okay. I mean, I'm not stupid." He fixes his brother with his own gaze, feeling something uncomfortable and unnameable slide across his shoulders. It might have been fear, but cool dudes didn't get afraid when the po-po, or any of their lackeys, drop by for tea and cookies. He had to let his brother know he was cool it was cool, and most importantly, he was cool with him. "I get that you're a weird, crazy guy who also happens to be crazy awesome. I mean, did you know that, like, 80% of the whole fucking world doesn't get irony? So it's no wonder you got people hating on your ass."

Bro grins this time. He releases Dave's arms, and picks up his rag again. "Go get sumthin' t'eat. Might be a while before they show up. I wanna finish this stuff."

Before Dave clears the door, he pauses, and then looks over his shoulder. "Bro. Why are they comin'?"

Bro doesn't respond too quickly. But he finally owns up, teeth bared as he goes head to head with the massive stains.. "Some assholes don't get irony."

And the answer is good enough for Dave, who picks his way back through the creepily clean apartment and back to the food-holding fridge. The mind boggles.

Dave is halfway through a peanut butter sandwich when someone knocks on their door. Bro stands from the couch, muting the TV to answer it. Dave doesn't usually see the expression that is currently on his face. He usually wears it when he's about to put the smackdown on some impudent bastards. There is a lady and a uniformed cop- they both come in, but the cop stays by the door. The social worker, who has an unpronounceable name, introduces herself to her brother, says hello to Dave in a bright, chipper voice, and informs Dave of the purpose of her visit.

Wait... Inappropriate sexual material with minors involved?

Whaaaat?

Dave wants to step in and correct all of this, but holds back when he reads his Bro's posture. Not a good time to assert some Strider bullshit detector readings. Adults are crazy people who seem to think that kids are braindead little fuckers who don't get what's going down around them; except for Bro, who has no illusions about Dave's awesomeness.

So Dave sits at the kitchen counter, watching the cop poke through the rooms, with Bro leaning against a wall doing his best to keep his face from souring. The lady came to talk to him.

It sounded mostly like, "Bluh bluh BLUH."

But Dave came around when she asked, "Do you know anything about your brother's online websites or business, Dave? Does he tell you anything about them?"

Dave does not look at his brother, because if he does he knows it'll look like they planned this. And he's no snitch. So he concocts the most "say whaaaaat" look without overdoing it, and responds, "What are you talking about? He works at a dojo, like, a few blocks down." Which was true; Bro was a part time instructor right now, trying to reel in some cash since the puppet sales went down.

She seems satisfied with this answer.

They leave, telling Bro that he'll be notified if there needs to be a follow up meeting. The apartment feels like a vaccuum with them gone.

The Strider brothers exchange glances. Finally, Dave assesses the situation with an apt, "Lame."

And they leave it at that.