A/N: Hey guys, I'm back with another oneshot! Chapter 4 of Pretty Little Liars should be up soon, time permitting. But alas, enjoy! Copious amounts of Anderson brothers fluffiness. Cooper POV.

I wrote this for an English competition so the names have been taken out.

The Journey

You're eight years old when your brother is born and you can't really believe that this ugly, pink, wriggling thing is somehow supposed to be related to you. You see no resemblance in the soft wrinkled face, the huge trusting eyes. You count the ten fingers and ten toes and see no similarity with your own.

Your mother starts ignoring you in favour of your new brother, cooing and cuddling and laughing at all the dumb baby things your brother does but you don't think they're particularly special. He makes too much noise when you're trying to play computer games or work on your science project – volcanoes, this semester – and it's infuriating.

"Be nice to your brother" your mother says, "Don't antagonise him."

But it's hard because he gets all the attention and you don't get anything anymore. You ask to go to the zoo one day and your father says no, "We have to take your brother for a doctor's appointment."

You go up to your room and cry because it isn't fair.

When you are nine and your brother is one, he takes his first teeny tiny steps in your direction. Granted, he falls and starts screaming so loud you think he'll rouse the whole street, but he steps towards you all the same.

You find yourself immediately holding out your arms to make sure he arrives safely at your feet, as you play an elaborate game with your toy soldiers on the carpet. You laugh when he tries to grab for one, wanting to join in the game.

Your mother cries with joy.

You are ten when you are first given the task of babysitting your brother when your parents go out. It's their anniversary and you want to be good for them, but you don't like the idea of being stuck with your kid brother when all your friends are at sleepovers or bowling or out for pizza.

But you do it anyway, because it pays well.

Halfway through the evening, your brother starts to cry. "Mommy!" he wails. "I want mommy!" You tell him that Mommy isn't here, that she's one out with Daddy because it's a special occasion. You give him his favourite toy, but he refuses it, screaming and stamping his tiny feet. On the hardwood floors, each stamp sounds like a thunderclap, booming in your ears.

You have no choice but to scoop him up and put him in your lap. The effect is instantaneous. He stops wailing, his red face returning to its normal peachy colour. He babbles and mumbles and kicks his little feet, knocking off one red sock in the process. You feel the warm weight of his small but hefty toddler body pressing into you and you can't help but feel responsible for him. You want to protect him.

He giggles when you ruffle his curls; squeals in delight when you offer to put in an old VHS tape of The Lion King.

You help him sing every song.

He is three now, and getting ready for his very first day of kindergarten. His little face is pinched with nervousness as your mother fixes his sweater and makes sure his shoes are tied in neat little bows, like the ones you find on Christmas and birthday presents. You sit next to him at the table and put your arm around him.

"You'll be fine" you reassure him with wisdom above your simple eleven years.

At break, you cross the street (you look both ways first, of course) and head over to the kindergarten to check up on your brother. Your heart sinks when you see that he's sitting alone in a classroom window, concentrating on something on a piece of paper in front of him. You go inside, and he lights up when he sees you.

"Look!" he cries happily, showing his two missing front teeth when he smiles. "I drew you something!" He's so proud, so very proud of this tiny little accomplishment. You take the paper and have a look.

It's a (very badly drawn) portrait of the both of you. You hug him like you've never hugged him before.

You're in high school now and you don't have as much time for your brother anymore. You ignore him when he begs you to play with him; you push him away when he clambers up next to you, poking his head over the edge of the table to peek at your math homework. No, you tell him, I'm busy; I can't take you to the park today.

One day you come home from school and your brother has set up camp on the sofa, surrounded on either side by a line of soft toys. He's sitting cross-legged in the middle, bobbing his head in time to the music as he watches some mundane kids' TV show. You ask him to move, that you want to watch TV too, but he ignores you. "No!" he insists, "I'm watching the TV now!"

You snap.

You push him, hard, off the couch and onto the floor. He screams and you feel guilty almost instantly.

Cool kids don't push their little brothers around.

You're finishing up a major essay for Government class when you get the call. It's 1:01am and you fumble blindly for your cell phone, grabbing random pens and pencils and a handful of paper clips as your hand scuttles across the tabletop. You find it, press the green button, put the phone to your ear.

It's your Mom. Your brother is in the hospital.

The air is sucked – no, knocked – out of your lungs in one blow. Your blood freezes. Your heart starts pounding so loudly you think it might burst right out of your ribcage and onto the standard grey dorm room carpet. You don't think. You get to the airport as soon as you can and buy the only ticket left on the next available flight home.

The next time you see your brother, it's the first time in nearly two and a half years.

He's seventeen now, and you are approaching twenty-five. The last time you met, it was a meeting full of pain and worry and what if's. This time, it will be better.

He arrives at the airport to pick you up with your parents and another boy. The boy he has been telling you about on the phone and in his emails, the same boy whom he claims has never made him happier.

When you greet him at Arrivals, you can feel the difference in him. Gone is the shy, scared boy who once spent three weeks in hospital following a brutal attack. Gone is the boy who was too frightened to go to school in the morning, afraid of what the day might hold.

You hug him tightly and everything falls into place. The journey is complete.

A/N: Well, whaddaya think? Good? Bad? Really bad? Review and let me know! Also, if y'all wanna get exclusives on my fics or just wanna stalk me, my Tumblr URL is likesboyswholikeboys. You'll find me there.

Ciao bellas e bellos!