Max Russo, 16 year old about to be 17 year old, dropped onto the couch with a depressed plop. His pained expression couldn't even change to a happy one even when he conjured up his favorite pancakes with his wand. He took one off the plate and stuffed the breakfast item into his mouth, keeping the rest on the dirty cushion next to him. His hand reached for another one, ignoring the taste of the fabric threads in the cake. After all his dad taught him to eat around the bad stuff. That's how he avoids the bugs and other random hairs in his food. He is deemed gross by others, but so what? He wouldn't want to waste food, why that, that would be a waste, he reasoned.
However, another reason for his down demeanor, was that he had just broke up with his first serious girlfriend, Talia. Or was it Tallia? he thought, his eyebrows just creasing in thought for the longest time. Or maybe Talllia, he thought again. Or maybe Talia... oh hey pancakes. He glanced to the side, gave a small smile, picked up the treat again and literally stuffed it into his mouth again.
It was about one in the morning and for once in the boy's lifetime he couldnt sleep through the night. This empty feeling had passed through Max, like even a delicious treat couldn't fill the void. Which was surprising because usually food was all it took, but he supposed this is what people who are growing up go through. This lonely feeling or whatever. The feeling of pain and heartbreak in ones adolescence. Uh, what was adolescence again?
He ceased his thoughts, not wanting to strain himself, 'cause Alex once said 'don't strain yourself'. But why should he listen to her? She was his sister, persistent, and brutal yet kind, and it's not like she was his type anyway, and wasn't he doing that thinking thing once more that he tried to quit!? He groaned, a headache forming, the pain resonating throughout the top of his head. He decided to put on a video game, although quietly, to remain distracted.
"Max?" somebody whispered and he jumped. The teenage boy whirled around with a hand on his heart. It was just Harper, Alex's 18 year old best friend and not the boogeyman. He sighed in relief.
"Oh Harper, it's just you. Thank God." He plopped back down onto the couch and paused the game.
"Sorry for startling you," she said sheepishly then made her way toward the couch in the seat right next to him. "What are you doing up?"
With the help of the glow on his face from the tv, she saw his sad expression and immediately grew concerned. "Max?" she said in a gentle tone.
"I uh I didnt wanna tell anyone today, but I broke up with Talia today," he told her solemnly.
Harper rose her brows, her mouth gaping open a bit in surprise. "You what? But I thought it was going really well for you guys. You said she finally was beginning to share common interests with you."
"It was, and we are, well except for one thing. Video games. She refuses to try video games."
"So!? Harper, games are my favorite thing," he said pointedly. "Games make my life complete." He stopped for a moment then continued, "Well and magic and making Justin's life miserable but that goes without saying."
Harper gave him a small smile, nodding her head in understanding, ignoring the last part of the statement. "Mm, I get it Max. The most important thing to you, and you can't even share that with the important person you love. I know exactly what you mean. That's partially the reason why I broke up with Zeke."
"Oh yeah, that. You know I'm really relieved you broke up with him."
A mix of hurt and confusion grew on her face. He hurried to amend his response, stammering slightly, uncharacteristically of him. But it was Harper, Harper somehow got the best of him and he wasn't sure why. "I mean, I'm not glad you went through that pain Harper, that was bad, that's how I'm feeling right now. It really sucks."
For once, Harper decided to address their funny relationship that he wasn't sure was a friendship in the least or just him being her best friend's little brother type thing. "Max, you don't have to be nervous. It's just me Harper, your sister's best friend and well hopefully..." a tiny pink tinge grew on her cheeks, making them appear even more rosy and pretty than ever, he noted. "Your friend too."
Then just in a Harper type fashion, she babbled on. "I mean, if you want me to be. I know I shouldn't jump conclusions, but I just thought that all we've been through you know-"
Max's mouth twitched up, trying to hide his amusement. "Harper," he said. She stopped fumbling, ceasing her tirade and hand movement.
"Yeah of course I consider you my friend," he said warmly.
She smiled gratefully, hating that tinge on her pinks even grew after he said that. "Great." Just then her brows furrowed in thought. "Now what was it you were saying before?"
He glanced at the redhead, drawing a blank. "Uh...break ups for pancakes!"
She stared blankly at him, as if to say, 'What in God's name did you say in your Max language?'
He forced a laugh. "Ah hah! Pancakes for break ups I mean," he said, grabbing a pancake and offering it to her. She just looked at the dust on the pancake, grimacing.
"I'll pass." He shrugged, throwing it back on the couch. They both sat in silence for one moment before Harper burst out loudly, "I remember!" causing him to jump because of her again.
She glanced at him apologetically as he glared at her as if to say, 'Really?'. As his nerves settled down they flared up again when she asked her question: "Why did you say you were relieved when me and Zeke broke up?"
Max recalled all the times his stomach felt funny whenever he saw Harper and the goofy kid together. For some reason his eyebrows would draw together seriously with his mouth pressing firmly together in a frown. He didn't understand why he would act this way. He didn't hate the guy. In fact Justin's best friend was one of his favorite people. They did magic shows, (with magic since the brown haired, 19 year old boy finally knew about magic), talked nonsensical randomness, and didn't waste food like Justin and Alex did. Man he hated when people wasted food. Ah man he was getting off topic again. It truly confused him as to why he hated watching his favorite person be around Harper.
"I don't know," Max finally said, feeling pressured by the Harper "stare". It really did make him uncomfortable, as if she could read him so easily. And NOBODY could read the kid. He was a unicorn. Wait, was that it?
"Harper, I'm a unicorn," he said in all complete seriousness.
"Huh?" Harper said, completely thrown off. "Ohhh, I remember this, Mrs. Russo corrected you on this, it's unique."
"Oh," he said, embarrassed, feeling dumb. But that only happened around Harper for some reason. "Right. I'm not a unicorn."
She giggled. "That's it then? You don't know? Um, oh well then."
"I can try to laminate, I mean elaborate," he corrected himself, flushing in the face. She looked at him warmly.
"I don't know why, but I get this bad feeling in me when you're around him. It kind of feels like I ate too much, this nauseated feeling. Which is funny, because I can eat a whole ton more than what I usually eat, but mom won't let me," Max lamented.
Harper's heart began beating at a rapid rate. No. It couldn't be. She was jumping to conclusions. It was not that word. It had nothing to do with, she gulped. Jealousy.
"But when it's just me and you, I like. I like it a lot Harper," he confided, avoiding her face. "I love being with you and only you." He glanced up at her, oblivious to her surprised, yet pleased and flattered look on her face. "But hey it's probably nothing," he said.
Harper couldn't believe herself right now, but she was...she was doing the unthinkable and checking out her best friend's baby brother. Baby? No. He had definitely grown up and become just as handsome as Justin and towered over her by like eight inches. But she never considered him a man, a man with his quirks, (not always the sharpest crayon in the box as Alex would tell her about him), but surprisingly intelligent at times, even more than Justin sometimes. Alex and Justin needed Max despite the way they treated him. In the end, the pair needed their little brother. It completed their totally dysfunctional yet perfectly imperfect trio they had going.
Max grew red as she gave him a onceover. Oh gosh, he probably was dirty or something. That wasn't far off at all. "Not that I usually care, but do I have anything on my face or something?" he said in a hurry, suddenly raising himself up off the couch and shaking, dusting the material with his hands fiercely.
Harper suddenly sprung in action and grabbed his hand, ceasing his movement. She noted it was warm and he glanced at his hand then back at her face. Both as red as a tomato, Harper removed her hand quickly as if it had been caught on fire.
"No, there's not," Harper said quietly then hated how her cheeks were continued being flamed as he appraised her.
"Are you sure you're not a magic user, because I felt sparks when our hands touched," he said, innocently, furrowing his brows. She thought the teenaged guy looked like a cute, lost puppy. Come to think of it, that's just how Max was in general. And coming from any other guy, what he said seemed like a sad excuse way to pick up girls, but knowing it was him, she knew he honestly didnt understand the situation.
"I'm not, Max," she bit her lip, and his eyes immediately drew to her plump lips.
And right then, a sensation flooded through the guy like no other. Want. Longing. His hormones were working into overdrive. Then what came with that was understanding. He briefly yet quickly remembered the time Chase came over to congratulate Alex on winning the Wizard of the Year award and how surprised yet amused he was the one to figure out the dude was flirting with her, but Justin was all oblivious. Or was he? Justin acted in a peculiar way that day trying to constantly show up the beast tamer all in front of Alex. Oh. Oh. Oh. Jealousy. Justin was jealous. Justin likes Alex. Alex was more Justin's type. Definitely not Max's type. Then that means-
His eyes widened in realization. "Oh my gosh." His heart beat wildly. "I was jealous," he told the girl who had been observing his face. He made the funniest expressions when he was deep in thought.
"I was jealous of your relationship with him. That is why I was relieved when you and him finally broke up. I wanna listen to all your stories, telling me all about your day and see what other silly fruit or food pattern you come up with on your outfit. I like you Harper."
"I've liked you for a long time Harper."
Harper tried to ignore the feelings that came rushing the surface, the ones that included happiness and confusion and glee. Because this was too good, she knew her own life and it wasn't this perfect. This totally awesome, amazing, quirky, attractive young man liked her. Things didn't go right in life for her usually. She was fairly miserable yet hid it well with a bright smile. The only way she kept going on was because of Alex. If it wasn't for her, she didn't know what she'd do. This was too good to be true. This had to be a prank. According to her uncle, she didnt deserve happiness. She paid no note of the bruises that formed because of the injuries from her uncle. Those were but faint memories that she trained herself to feel numb to. Yet everything was getting all overwhelming right then and she felt tears streaming down her face. And oh no, she must've looked like a wreck. The only person she cried of was in front of Alex and this was Max. But the tears just wouldn't stop.
"I'm sorry," Max said, his eyes widened. "Please don't cry Harper. Did I make you cry?" She shook her head. "God I'm an idiot." he winced.
"No," she said, well it was more like a whine through her tears and he instantly wrapped his arms around her in a warm hug. Despite her bad memories and everything else that had overwhelmed her, his hug felt good. Really good. A peace began to coarse through her as he rubbed her back, soothingly, her head buried against his big chest.
What felt hours was just a few minutes before he gently pushed her away, dipped her head up and kissed her in the most gentle yet warm way possible. She immediately knew it was a hundred times better than any kiss between Zeke and her.
She fumbled and began uttering incoherent sounds, gently shoving him away. "T-t-this is happening way too fast. T-t-thank y-y-you for comforting me. I'm fine now really."
"You sure?" he said sweetly.
"Y-y-you, since when did you become that charming Max?" she stuttered. "It's practically dangerous being around you. What if you're becoming more handsome than Justin," she cried out.
"Forget Justin," he said firmly. "Justin is with Alex."
He regretted saying that because Harper then paled and looked like she looked before she begin to faint. "WHAT!? What are you saying? You're kidding right?" she yelled.
"Well, I don't know for sure, but come on. Alex is totally Justin's type. She's for sure not my type," he said, thinking he was being perfectly reasonable.
She sighed in relief, slapping her palm to her face. "Max. Siblings don't get together like that. Even though I'm an only child I know that's totally inappropriate. That's wrong and immoral. I mean I would still love Alex even if she did like Justin in that manner but- ah what am I saying you're totally wrong Max. It's wrong! End of story."
"Well that's what I thought," he responded. "But Alex and Justin don't really act like ordinary siblings." Max laughed.
Harper's lips pursed as if tasting a sour fruit, yet she couldn't deny that truth.
"Anyway, enough about them. What about us?" He said, waggling his brows.
Pushing down her amusement, she turned to him with a serious, no bullshit look on her face. "Max, we can't."
Max didnt even have to question, 'we can't what?' He already knew. His face betrayed his dreaded expression. "What? Harper, come on."
"I'm sorry Max, we can't," she said in a resolute tone. "It's final. I think we both need to go to bed and forget this ever happened." She stood up, avoiding his longing gaze, making her way towards the spiral staircase.
"Why can't you open your heart to me?" he said in a pained tone. He noticed her blank stony expression lifted for a moment, showing a much more vulnerable Harper to him then shifted back into her immovable expression.
"I'm sorry Max."
Harper watched the young man look really devastated and it really pained her heart to see him that way, and she looked to the wall next to her to avoid the sight. Sighing, she turned back to him; then her throat caught. Max was suddenly giving her this predatory look.
"Max?" she said unsurely.
"It's fine Harper. I really like a good challenge. I want you and I will try my best to win your heart," he said quite confidently to her, displaying his sexy smirk.
"O-o-oh yeah? W-w-w-well," she tried to retort, then thought desperately, 'who am I kidding?' then did her signature: "See you in P.E.!" she squeaked then bolted up the stairs.
"Yeah you will," he yelled back, amused, growing even more enamored at her endearing antics.
Oh, he was a wizard. She will be his. He grinned. After all he had magic on his side. But what he didn't know was that he didnt need it. Or did he?