Dark Ends

It must be stressful, knowing you'll be caught at any second. It must be painful, knowing that you're going to be running for the rest of your lives. But, it must be exciting, knowing you got away with murder.
Thomas and Magnus are brothers. Two typical teenagers, both ready for college, both ready for girls and parties, for jobs and homes. Yet after a hunting trip turns into an almost fatal accident, something changes in both of them. And that something leaves three innocent people dead.
But...who can you really blame?
*UNEDITED FROM NANOWRIMO*

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4. Chapter Two

 

 

 

 

The dorms were quieter than usual. The thick smell of grape perfume and fruity lotions drifted from the numerous rooms lined against the hallway. Magnus held his shirt above his nose to filter the stench. It was insanely strong. Almost strong enough to make his eyes water. Pushing back tears, he glanced down at the paper he held in his hands.

 Floor 3, Dorm 110

 He passed most of them, counting down the doors until he reached the second room from the right. Just like she had said. Magnus raised his hand to knock before the door flew open and Jasmine pounced on him. Her arms were thrown around his neck in a tight hug, dark black hair flapping in a tight braid. Magnus wrapped his arms around her waist. The paper holding the room number fluttered to the ground.
 "I actually wasn't expecting you to come, Mag. I thought you would stay late at your brother’s recital or something...” She whispered. He pressed his lips against hers, answering back with a smile.
 "Well, we haven't seen much of each other since testing week back in November, and Ryan wouldn't let me see you when he was here.." He breathed. She took a finger and pushed back a strand of loose hair from his face.
 "You know my brother is stupid."
 "He just as to be protective cause his sister is seriously hot." He said. "Oh, and I do have some news for you." 
 Jasmine smirked. "It can wait..."
 Just as they leaned in for another kiss, a voice spoke up from behind her.
 "Well, the only thing y'all are going to be doing is either freeze your asses off in the hallway when I lock you out or you both whine at me for not letting you do what you want to do if I let you in."
 They turned to see Jasmine's first roommate Cinara, glaring at them from inside the dorm room. Her green eyes were puffed and red from waking up in the middle of the night, making her look even scarier with her wild bed hair. Her arms folded over her chest in annoyance accompanied by a scowl on her face. Just as she opened her mouth for another warning, one more voice popped up from the room.
 "Y'know, I would love to get a good night's sleep too, and not be woken up by Jasmine's beau declaring his everlasting love with Cinara getting her panties in a twist because she doesn't have anybody to make a baby with. Also, I suggest you keep your voices down so the dorm doesn't wake up."
 Another head peeped from behind Cinara. It was Andrea, the third roommate. Her black coffee eyes were lopsided as she struggled to stay awake and her short brown hair was turned into a humorous cowlick. A small blanket was wrapped tightly around her in the cool air of the night. She looked almost drunk, swaying lightly in her bed. Cinara hissed at her.
 "Shut up Andrea. Like you have anyone."
 "I do have someone!" Andrea protested quickly while watching the level of her voice. "Jae, remember?"
 "The foreign exchange student from Korea who every girl is practically in love with?" Magnus whispered, looking confused. His eyebrows furrowed at Jasmine. "He doesn't speak English very well, does he?" She shook her head. Andrea looked up towards the ceiling, her eyes misted over with exhaustion and day-dreaming.
 "We don't need the same language to learn that we love each other." She quietly said in a wispy air before settling back down in her sheets. The other three stared at her for a moment. Then, Cinara started to snicker.
 "That's your fault you know, making her talk like that."

 "Why? Because Magnus decided to come visit me or was it your 'awakening' that woke her up from some weird Dreamy Foreign Boy fantasy?"
 "I didn't mean to wake you guys up, I just have some news and wanted to see Jasmine-"
 "Bare or fully clothed?" Cinara smirked.
 Jasmine reached over to their couch sitting by the front door, picking up a cushion and hurling it towards Cinara. She ducked it smoothly. It sailed in a beautiful arc over the three bunks and a desk before landing on Andrea's head with a thump. Slowly, she rose like a vampire leaving its coffin
 "Guys, trying to remember Jae's smooth, milky skin right now. Can you go do your...your dilly-dally somewhere else?" She snapped before flopping back onto her bed. Magnus glanced down at his girlfriend, who smiled sweetly back at him. Then she turned to her roommates and gave them the same, pleading look.
 "I promise we won't do anything! Pinky swear!" Jasmine begged as she held onto Magnus tighter. He copied the same facial expression, using large puppy eyes for emphasis.
 "Please? It's cold out here and I'd rather talk normally than in a whisper." He stated.
 Cinara studied their pathetic looks before giving a dramatic sigh. She looked back over at Andrea who was already sound asleep.
 "Fine. But if I hear anything from you two, I'll toss y'all out into the hallway with or without clothes."
 "You really like going bare, huh?" Magnus mocked as he followed Jasmine inside. Cinara quietly closed the door, grinning to herself.
 "I honestly do."
 It was as girly as the last time Magnus had seen the girl’s room. It was insanely messy, with makeup piled on a desk big enough for six people, a large mirror covered in lipstick marks leaned against the wall net the bathroom door. Three queen sized beds sat in perfect spacing from one another, and all were buried under yards of fabric.
 Their room was only slightly warmer than the rest of the building, but as he entered, Magnus had to stop himself from snickering as he gazed at the mounds of fabric on each of their beds. Winter was fast approaching. None of the women thought twice of taking precautions. The girls had bundled up on tens of blankets, sheets, covers, quilts, whatever they could get their hands on from the dorms closets before the others on their floor had any similar ideas. Andrea ended up finding herself with the lion's share of fuzzy blankets since she was up against the room’s one window. Her body was covered with dozens of small quilts and a rather heavy cotton blanket thrown over the bed. The trio entering the room could barely see the top of her brown hair sticking from under the mess.
 Cinara had shaken her head when Andrea offered up two of the warm covers from her collection, saying she was fine with just the two she had. Jasmine, on the other hand, wanted as much as Andrea. She even took the liberty of stealing sheets from the roll-away bed in the girls’ dorm TV room before classes started. As Jasmine belly flopped onto her mattress, the numerous, different colored covers making it feel like a cloud, Magnus couldn’t help but laugh out loud, watching her practically swim in the mess. He joined his girlfriend under the sheets and they started to giggle. Cinara sank onto her bunk next to Jasmine, kicking away a shirt.
 “How the hell do you put up with so much crap blankets?” She asked. Andrea guffawed from her multi-painted cloud.
 “If she can put up with one of the infamous Joseph brothers she can put up with anything.”
 Magnus popped up from the bed, an exaggerated depressed look on his face. His bottom lip was pushed out and his blinked several times over to mist his eyes.

 “That hurt.” He whined. Jasmine threw her arms around him, dragging him down to her and pressing her lips against his.
 She cooed. “Don’t worry, I won’t let them hurt you.”
 Cinara scoffed at them.
 “Hey, no funny business in here! You pink promised you wouldn’t try anything!”
 “You know those don’t mean shit, Cin.”
 “Shut up Andrea.”
 Magnus chuckled to himself from under the covers. He gazed at Jasmine, using a finger to push a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Her almond eyes twinkled back at him.
 "Are they always like this?” He asked quietly. She listened as the two bickered loudly.
 "You can't always interrupt whenever you want to! It's important to know where the persons have a reliable stopping point in a conversation THEN state your opinions-"
 "Cinara, I'm not going to do that. It's perfectly fine to interrupt if you want to."
 "No it's not! It's against the laws of common curtsy!"
 "That's ironic coming from Miss-I-Can-Shove-Nine-Cinnabons-Down-My-Throat-In-A-Minute -"
 "It was THREE Mini-Bons that I happened to have for breakfast in a forty minute time span, and I don't see how this even has the tiniest bit of relevance-"
 "It has everything to do with this, you fat, pig-headed bitc-"
 Jasmine sighed. "I have to put up with this twenty-four seven. They're friends but they act as if they're going to go at each other’s throat at any moment."
 She frowned, shaking her head.
 "Both are a handful enough. Cinara always tells Andrea to shut up, she retaliates by being really sarcastic. I think she gets it from her brother, Riley."
 Magnus furrows his eyebrows. "The gay boy with the pink hair? He never takes anything seriously."
 "I know. That's where she gets it.”
  He was about to respond but was interrupted by a flying panda smacking him in the back of the head. He quickly whipped the blanket off both of them before another cushion came gliding onto the bed. Jasmine looked up, paling. Cinara and Andrea were battling viciously on their mattresses, throwing pillows and screaming at each other.
 "Take cover!" She yelled. Her hands grabbed onto Magnus' shirt, pulling him off and under the bed for protection. They watched through the folds of the sheets as a war began between her two roommates.
 "You're practically a cinnamon roll yourself since you love to eat them so much!" Andrea shouted. She hurled a purple headrest at Cinara's head, but she dodged it and threw back her own pillow.
 "Kiss my ass, you worshiper of foreign accents!"
 "Bite me!"
 "You would want Jae to!"
 The volume of screaming increased until finally a staff member burst through the door. His face was wrinkled and bagged but drawn in a furious expression.
 "Roller! Perez! What in God’s name do you think you're doing?!" He boomed. The girls stopped immediately, with Andrea paused with a lamp over Cinara and Cinara holding a pole over Andrea.
 "Put those down! You could hurt yourselves! And where is Scott?"
 Jasmine poked her head out from under the bed. She peered up at him with a grin.
 "I'm here."
The staff member glowered at her.
 "Why are you under there?"
 "I was hiding."
 "Well, get up! This is no time for games."
 Jasmine nodded, scrambling to her feet. The others took another glance at the bed in search of Magnus. Andrea’s eyes stopped. Beside the foot board lay the black heel of his shoe, peeking out from a fallen blanket. Cinara and Jasmine followed her gaze and froze. The staff member took a look at their faces, looking over his shoulder to find out what they saw.
 "Sir, your pants look unbuttoned." Cinara said quickly. The man blushed and looked down. Sure enough his zipper was down and a tuff of pink underwear stuck out from his pants. He laughed anxiously.
 "Oh, um, seems that it is." He muttered, turning to zip it again. Jasmine tossed the end of the blanket over Magnus' hell to cover it. As the staff member faced them again, they all beamed obediently.
 "Sorry, mister." Andrea peeped. "My friends and I were just fooling around. I promise we won't do anything rowdy again."
 Cinara nodded with Jasmine.
 "Yeah, sorry."
 The man smiled weakly, still a bit embarrassed.
 "This is your first warning. If I catch you girls being loud and distribute the others I'll have to send you to Saturday study hall." He warned. "Are we clear?"
 The girls straitened.
 “Yessir."
 He nodded, pleased, pivoting on one foot to leave the room. His eyes wandered around the mess of blankets and sheets thrown over the floor.
 "They always say girls are messier than men." He muttered before closing the door.
 The trio let out a sigh of relief. No one wanted to imagine what would've happened if he had caught Magnus under the bed. As Jasmine hurried to pull him out from the frame, Cinara started to pick up the fabric scattered around the beds and Andrea attempted to find out where Cinara had gotten the pole from.
 "Maybe I should bring Jae up here if no one notices Magnus sneaking into the girl’s dorm." She said, watching Magnus stumble to his feet. Jasmine puffed.
 "Yeah, right. They'll find him the second he steps into the building. Most of the girls are insane about him."
 "Hey." Cinara whispered. She had placed the lamp back where it was before, then grabbed the pole and stuck it to the side of the window next to Andrea’s bed.
 "Let's be quieter, hm? I bet we already pissed off some of the others with our fiasco."
 "That you started!" Andrea hissed. Cinara glared at her.
 "Do we really want to do that again?"
 "Please don't." Magnus begged, hair frizz led from being stuck under the bedding.
 "You know, why did you even come in the first place? Did you want to see Jasmine that badly?" Andrea collapsed on her newly made mess of a mattress.
 "Or did you just want to get some of - OW!" Jasmine whacked her on the arm before she could finish. Cinara cackled.
 "You had that coming, ya know."
 "Bite me."
 Jasmine rolled her eyes, turning to her boyfriend.
 "So what is it? You just wanted to see me?" Magnus smiled steeply but shook his head.
 "I invited Thomas on a hunting-slash-camping trip this weekend."
 Cinara nodded knowingly.
 "Ohhhh, so like a guy’s night out?"
 "Pretty much."
 Jasmine sighed as she tossed her arms around his neck, bringing him in close. She studied his face for a second.
"Are you going to be back before school on Monday?"
 He kissed her gently.
 "We're planning to be back Sunday night."
 Another kiss.
 "Promise?”
 "Promise?"
 They press their lips together for a third time, Magnus holding her in close. Jasmine sighed wistfully.
 "Okay, ew." Cinara snorted.
 Due to his girlfriend's intoxicating kisses and alluring voice, it wasn't until past one when Magnus was able to get to his own room that night. He arrived at his own building another hour later it was already pitch black. He was careful to take off his footwear before stepping into the boy's dorm and extra careful in dodging the creaky boards and sharp pieces of furniture.
"Dun dun, du du du, dun dun, du dun du, dun dun, du du dun dun, buh buh baaah, buh buh baaaaah, ba-dum." Magnus whispered to himself, tiptoeing around corners and hiding behind walls. That was until he banged his knee into the corner of a coffee table.
 Magnus stifled a scream, his voice reaching an octave higher in throat. He knelt down to hold his leg. The pain throbbed violently. He straightened back up and shuffled towards the end of the wall. His room was just around the corner. But, as he peeked out from hallway, Magnus met face to face with two slanted brown eyes. This time he cried out in shock.
 He fell backwards onto the floor. Sharp pain shot up his leg from the encounter with the coffee table. The owner of the eyes shouted, stumbling back into a wall. Magnus breathed heavily as he stared at the outline of a broad boy. The shadow looked so familiar to him. Magnus titled his head slightly. Then it clicked.
"Oh, it's you."
Jae smiled weakly back at Magnus. He was dressed in a dark attire, perfect for blending into the pitch black darkness outside, except for his bright pink hair that practically glowed. In one hand he held a flashlight. The other gripped onto a small stuffed brown bear, reading "My Love" in black bold letters over a heart stitched into its chest. Magnus' eyes darted from him to the bear.
"It's a little early for secret admirers, dude." He said, getting up from his position on the floor. Jae shrugged. He then pointed outside.
"Girls' dorm..." He motioned with his outstretched finger. "Outside?"
Magnus nodded. “Yeah. Out the door and to the left. Oh, and be careful. There’s a staff member on watch."
 Jae cocked his head to the side in appreciation. Gripping the bear, he quietly jogged to the front door, opening it slowly then disappearing into the night. Magnus watched him go, holding in a snicker.
 “That boy really is something.” He muttered to himself. He turned back against the wall and peeked around the corner again to make sure no one else was around to startle him. Seeing the hallway completely empty, he placed his hands on the wall to find the doorknob to his room. Magnus found it moments later and slowly turned it.
 The room was darkened and didn’t stink like flowers or perfume. Instead the rank smell of cologne and day old Chinese food wafted in the air. To someone else other than Thomas or Magnus it would knock them out. To them, it was too familiar to bother with. Magnus breathed in deeply as he entered the room, satisfied he was back where he wanted to be. But when he closed the door, the lock clicking in place, the light suddenly flicked on.
 “Jasmine, huh?”
 Magnus flinched. He was still facing the door when he heard footsteps approach him. He turned to see Thomas in his basketball shorts, arms folded over his chest, looking eerily similar to Cinara when Jasmine and he first woke her up. Magnus cracked a smile.
 “I must be the Professional Piss Everyone off by Waking Them Up guy.” He joked. Thomas just narrowed his eyes.
 “You’ve been with Jasmine. You never make good jokes whenever you’re with her.”
 “Hey, that’s like saying I lose my funny whenever I’m with people I care about.”
“So?”
Magnus paused for a second before grinning at his brother.
 “It’s no wonder I’m hilarious when you’re around.”
 Thomas rolled his eyes but couldn’t keep the slight smile from off his face. He turned and went back to his bed, kicking a path through several dirty clothes along the way. Their room wasn’t as dirty as the girls but it certainly wasn’t cleaner. Magnus attempted to dodge most of their sports stuff laying across the floor as he made his way to his own bed.
 “It seems like I’ve had to do this kind of stuff the whole night.” He muttered, stepping over a cup and a box of pizza crusts. Thomas laughed.
 “I would expect so. You had to sneak into the girl’s dorm, stay hidden from any of the patrolling teachers, and then get back here in one piece without Jasmine clinging to you like a life raft.”
 “I stubbed my knee getting back in here.”
 “That’s your fault.”
 Magnus smoothly pulled off his uniform jacket, throwing it to the floor next to the pizza and collapsing on his bed in exhaustion.  
 “It was not. I was trying to be stealthy and the table got in my way.” He said. Thomas looked up from his place near the headboard of his own bunk.
 “Were you doing that thing where you hum the Mission Impossible.?”
 Magnus shifted uncomfortably. In the dark, he was sure Thomas couldn’t see the pink in his cheeks. He snorted and tried to change the subject.
 “Did you know I saw Jae in the lounge?”
 “You’re not answering my question, dude.”
 “I’m avoiding your question.”
 Thomas just sighed.
 “Fine. And everyone on the floor knows you meet Jae. You screamed so loudly you woke us all up.” He snickered. “It sounded like a little girls scream.”
 “Oh shut up.” Magnus snapped back. “It was terrifying. Not as terrifying when I saw he was just going to the girl’s dorm to give some lady a plushy bear, but still scary nonetheless.”
“Mmmh. A man who’s scared of Koreans and plushy bears. Jasmine would love that."
“He had it stitched ‘My Love’ and everything.”
“I thought we were in December?”
“We are. Maybe he’s just preparing.”
Magnus murmured, mostly to himself. It was quiet after that. He thought Thomas was just ignoring him for the time being for his attempt at being a ninja and seeing his girlfriend, but when he started to snore seconds later, Magnus smiled to himself. His brother was always the heavy sleeper. Nothing could’ve woken him up, which means Thomas was waiting for him. Magnus smiled, then groaned.
 “I’m going to have to chug a bottle of vinegar tomorrow to regain my manliness after that thought.” He mumbled to himself. Clutching a pillow close to his chest, his thoughts wandered off until he fell asleep.

**

When Thomas woke up the next morning, Magnus was already arguing with an old woman.
 The morning sunlight was streaming down into the room from their window. It illuminated the beds and helped make their shadows dance as Magnus paced back and forth several times, his hand running through his long tangled hair.
 "Hey - Miss Adkins! We had a deal from last time! I need to borrow the truck now for a special trip -" He stopped.
 "So why does it matter that I tell you? No, I'm not going out with a girl! Mar-Margret! Miss Adkins!  No, I'm not going to do that with Jasmine! I said I won't -”
 Thomas shuffled out of bed as his brother continued to duel out with the other end of the phone. His hair was formed into a hideouts cowlick above his forehead. Magnus snickered at him. Suddenly, the woman on the other end of the phone yelled at him so loudly Thomas even winced.
 "JUST WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?! SNICKERING AT YOUR ELDERS! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!"
 Magnus paled.
 "No, no, Margret - Miss Adkins, I wasn't snickering at you!" He said desperately before she cut him off again. Thomas watched as his twin fumbled for words in a panic to excuse himself. The old woman screamed for the last time, hanging up on Magnus. He groaned.
 "Well, we have no truck for the trip this weekend." He muttered, flipping next to Thomas on his bed. Thomas cocked an eyebrow.
 “Wait, I thought it was just a spur of the moment thing at the ice cream parlor?” He asked. Magnus smiled sheepishly.
 “It was. But I did Margret – Miss Adkins, Susie, whatever – a favor a few weeks ago and she said I could borrow her truck sometime.” He sighed. “But now she won’t cause she thinks I’m taking Jasmine. The old woman probably assumed I’m driving outta town to a love hotel or something
  "Well then, why would we need a truck? Can't we just borrow a car from Riley or Drew?"
 "No, Riley wrecked his car driving to a FOB concert last month. Drew's mom hates giving people her car." He glanced at his brother with a sheepish look.
"I already asked. Don't try. She's insane about her vehicles."
 Thomas frowned. A wrinkle burrowed into his forehead as he thought. Magnus just sighed again.
 "Let me think." He said, staring at the ceiling.
 "I promise I'll get something."
 Thomas' frowned deepened. "You don't need to."
 "But I want to." Magnus sat up, propping himself on his elbows. He ruffled his twin’s hair in a playful manner.
 "This weekend is going to be great! I know it!"
 "You sounded way too excited there, dude."
  Magnus scoffed.
 "You don't sound excited enough." He said before pausing.
 "Dude."
 Thomas pushed him off the bed with a smile. 
 “Let’s just get dressed.”
 Magnus groaned from the floor where Thomas had pushed him to. Where they attended, the Barnes Class Academy, was known as being a prestigious high school that required an outfit every time they were at a public school function or in class. He always hated wearing this type of clothing.
 "I really wish I could've worn my peppermint suit." He moaned as they walked down the boy’s corridor an hour later, showered, shaved, and dressed in the red suit he so despised. Thomas balanced his book bag on a hip, dressed in the same uniform. He didn't seem to mind wearing the academy’s designated outfit as much as his twin.
 "You just want to look stylish." He said jokingly. Magnus smirked before contorting his face in a sheer look of disgust, pulling at the red jacket with two fingers.
 "Girl, these suits are SOO last season. Green is all the rage now." He mocked in a voice four octaves higher than his usual.
 Thomas laughed out loud.
 "Where the hell did that come from?"
 "My throat."
 Magnus was about to join in the laughter when Drew slid up to them front outside the front doors of the boys dorm, joining them as they headed towards the class buildings on the other side of the campus grounds. Riley and Jae trailed behind him.
 "Sup'." Drew greeted Magnus first, slapping Thomas on the back. Riley did the same while Jae only gave a nod towards Magnus, who suddenly remembered the night before. He opened his mouth to ask about the bear but was interrupted by Thomas with his own question.
 "Hey, so do you have a truck we could borrow?" Thomas asked him. Jae looked confused for a second. He put up his hands, using them to stimulate driving a bus.
 “Ve-hi-cle?” He spelled out. Magnus nodded frantically.
 “Yeah. These other butt heads won’t or can’t-“ he glared at Rylie “-lend us a truck or car or some sort of moving contraption for our trip this weekend.” He turned to Jae with a hopeful expression.
 “Do you have one?”
 Jae sadly shook his head.
 “I…ride…with…friend.” He said.
 Magnus slumped with a dejected look. He patted Jae on the back.
 “Eh, thanks anyway.”
 Riley gave Thomas a questioning look, who responded with an awkward chuckle.
 "Guy's night. Er, weekend thing."
 Drew let his mouth drop open in shock.
 "Why didn't you invite us?!" He yelled. Several of the passing freshman on the sidewalk giggled at his expression. Magnus rolled his eyes.
 "Because we use to do it all the time when we were little. Our dad would take us out to Joe Pool Lake by the camping site and roast marshmallows, fish, ride the four-wheeler.” He explained. “We’re just wanting to do that again since we haven’t had time for anything.”
 Riley snickered.
 “You mean you’ve been spending your free time with Jasmine?”
 “Well, that and I’ve been busy with piano recitals.” Thomas mutters as Magnus blushed pink and punched Riley on the arm.
 “Ow!” He whined. Jae smiled.
 “You admit...you spend…hours…with Jasmine?”
 Magnus was about to do the same thing to him, but Drew stepped in front of his fist wearing a crooked grin. Jae scampered to Riley’s side in panic.
 “Hey dude, you didn’t deny it.”
 Magnus's blush deepened into a shade of pomegranate. He lowered his arm, pivoting on his heel and walked towards the classroom buildings. Riley shrugged.
  “Well, he didn’t.”
 As they approached the school, Thomas wondered how it seemed so much bigger on the inside then it did on the outside.  He had been stuck with holding the doors open for his friends, which others took as politeness and filed in an endless line of students, so he gazed at the foyer in boredom. The thought had suddenly entered his mind when he realized just how big the room was.
 It was white, like the rest of the academy, with four mahogany doors placed as entrances. Two spiral staircases reached five floors to two separate buildings – one for the women, one for the men. The wooden railing, crisscrossed like a spider-web for decoration, was shaded purple, glaring from the overhead dangle chandelier. Students as young as fourteen wandered the halls with their friends, attending the classes and sleeping in the dorms.
 They were all children from powerful, rich figures. On the outside, they looked like normal kids, similar to Thomas and Magnus. On the inside, though, they had respectful families and came to this school on a dollar. That was different for the brothers.
 The line of clad-dressed freshmen and sophomores finally diminished to a point where Thomas handed off door duty to a passing senior and bolted towards his group of friends. They headed to the East Wing towards their first period class. It was only sheer luck they were able to have one class together.
 “Hey, so what did you end up doing with that bear, Jae?” Thomas heard his brother ask as he fell into step with them. Jae’s white cheeks flushed with heat. He adjusted his bag over his shoulder, meekly adding
 “I…gave it to friend.”
 Riley awed, clapping him on the back.
 “Wait, so you snuck out to the girl’s dorm to give someone a teddy bear?” He burst out laughing. “Dude, that’s so like you!”
 Jae’s blushed deepened enough that it rivaled his own hair colour. Drew swung his arms around both of the boys. He was smirking with a deadly gleam in his eye.
 “You two are just a bunch of softies. Both sneaking out to see the girl you liked. Both giving gifts, then getting embarrassed when we call you out. What’s next – love declarations?”
 The group cracked up in laughter as they watched Jae and Magnus’ reactions to the statement. Each of their faces were the same shade of red. Magnus muttered to himself, pushing off Drew and stomping ahead. Jae only shifted uncomfortably, smiling weakly at the guys.
 “Catch you later lover-boy!” Riley called.
 Magnus looked back to flip them off. Thomas snorted, running after him.
 “You dumbass! We go to class together!”
 “No we don’t! I don’t know you people!”
 “Magnus, come back!”
 “BABY YOU’RE ALL I NEED!”
 The group chased after Magnus, screaming song lyrics as they continued to head down the hallway. 
***
 Lunch was the only class out in the courtyard. It was also the only class that was co-ed to both sides of the school. 
 Sitting on the edge of a rusted table, Thomas watched as passerby’s hurried to claim spots next to their friends. It was louder than usual as well – mostly because since it was a Friday and the cafeteria was serving free curly fries as tradition. The smell of grease and cheese loaded the air around the building, and Thomas scrunched his nose.
 Suddenly, someone plopped down next to him. The person pushed him off the table playfully.
 “Thanks for saving me a seat!” A high voice chirped. Thomas looked up from the ground to see Jasmine smiling. Her dark hair was pulled into a ponytail, framing her diamond face. Her eyes were lacking the usual eyeliner she wore. Instead, she supported a flowing body-tight sundress with white slippers and a cardigan. Her natural features were breathtaking to those around her. Thomas stared at her, lost for words. He quickly wondered if Magnus had seen her today yet, then concluded that he hadn’tIf his brother saw Jasmine this way, he would never be able to leave her side. 
 Jasmine laughed at his gasping face.
 “I know right?! I found this while cleaning out my grandmother’s closet the other day. It was just so pretty I couldn’t help but wear it today!” She squealed. “Ryan found it too exposing for me and tried to throw it away when he stayed over at the school, but I managed to save it.”
 She got up from the table, spinning around. The floral patterns on the dress swished into an array of colors. Silver sequins glittered in the sunlight. Thomas still stared at her, mesmerized.
 “Magnus is so going to drool over you.” He said. 
 “I already am.”
 The two turned to see Magnus walking straight towards Jasmine. Riley and Drew held back, wearing the same expressions Thomas had on a moment ago. Jae didn’t seem as interested as he sat down at the table. Magnus grabbed Jasmine by the waist then pulled her towards him. She giggled lightly.
 “Like what you see?” She murmured as he leaned down to her forehead.
 “I love it.” He breathed, leaning in for a kiss. 
 “Oh, come on guys! PDA!” 
  Andrea stomped towards them with a disgusted look etched on her face. Cinara was next to her with the same look. She held a lunch tray in one hand, and an apple in the other. She tossed the fruit to Magnus, who fumbled to catch it, and sat down opposite to Jae at the end of the table. Her lunch plopped down with a splat against its foam tray.
 “It’s like every time I see you, you end up sucking each other’s faces off.” She spat. Jasmine smirked in her direction. She grabbed Magnus’ collar, forcing him to her and planting a kiss on his lips. He dropped the apple in surprise.
 “Ewwwwww!” Now everyone had joined in with shaming the couple. Magnus let go of Jasmine, glaring at the group with a blush creeping up his cheeks. He bent down to scoop up the apple, noticing Thomas was still laying on the concrete.
 “Thomas, you know you’re still on the ground, right?” He said as he straightened back up. His brother scurried to hoist himself onto a seat next to Andrea. The other two, Riley and Drew, snapped out of their stares by Magnus’ fiery eyes and hurried to their seats. Jasmine laughed as she sat on her boyfriend’s lap.
 “You are so lovey-dovey.” Riley whined. “I want something like that.”
 Andrea burst out laughing.
 “No, you don’t! Trust me, you’re not that kind of person to pamper your loved one like that.”
 “How do YOU know? I’m me, aren’t I?”
 “I’m your sister dumbass.”
“She has point.” Jae peeped up. Riley snorted, about to retaliate with an insult but was cut off by Cinara.
 “So, you guys said you were going out this weekend? Do y’all still need a car?” She asked Thomas. Thomas shrugged, looking over at Magnus with a questioning look. 
 “Yeah, maybe.” He answered without a response from his brother. Magnus sighed. His hands wound around Jasmine as he spoke.
 “We can’t find a car or a preferred truck from anyone that we know, so I might as well just rent one.”
 “Anna?” Jae looked directly at Thomas as he said it. As Thomas cocked his head in thought, Magnus almost jumped straight up, smiling.
 “That’s right! We haven’t asked Anna yet! We should do that!” He yelled. He punched Jae on the shoulder before Jasmine whacked him back.
 “I’m still on your lap!” She said. She was gripping onto his neck with a death grip that Magnus finally noticed.
 “Okay, sorry.” He settled back down into the table seat, letting Jasmine adjust and then give a small nod at him. He grinned back.
 “Thomas, you should call Anna! Like right now!” 
 Thomas looked from Jae to his brother, head still caught in a haze.
 “But, how did you know about Anna-“ He started. Andrea cut him off.
 “You play that damn piano so much you just end up blabbing to us about your recitals and stuff.” She muttered, stabbing a piece of potato and pointing it at him.
 “You adore the woman like she’s your mother.” 
 The twins froze. The table went dead quiet. Andrea’s comment hung in the air along with the normal sounds of the cafeteria. Jasmine shot her a death glare, who paled as she saw the brother’s reactions.
 “Oh my god, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean-“
 “It’s fine.” Thomas snapped out of the shock before Magnus did. He shook his head slightly as he gave Andrea a small smile. 
 “We just really need to stop doing that. It’s been what, ten years?” He joked. The table could see he was trying desperately to lighten the mood a bit, but the silence prevailed. Magnus moved, his hands tightening around Jasmine as she tried to calm him with words. Thomas stood up and flipped his phone open.
 “Give me a second, I’m going out to talk to Anna.”
 He gave a last glance at Andrea. Then, he left.

**
 Nobody saw him the rest of the school day. The classes were slow and boring, with Magnus worrying about where Thomas was and the group continuing to comfort Andrea for blaming herself on his disappearance. When dinner rolled around that evening in the cafeteria, they sat at the same table in the same places as lunch, waiting for Thomas to show up. Cinara had joined them earlier with several supper plates. They ate in complete silence, the atmosphere thick with tension.
 “I’m really sorry.” Andrea said. She looked down at her untouched food. “You know, for saying that. I know it was wrong. I’m sorry.” Her voice wavered as if she was about to cry.
 Magnus shifted from his place next to Jasmine to softly place a hand on her back. She glanced up into his face.
 “Hey, it’s okay. We’ve forgiven you.” He said quietly. Andrea sniffed. 
 “I know. I just feel really bad about it…” 
 Rylie moved next to her, an evil glint in his eye as he swung an arm across her shoulders. 
 “You always feel bad about everything.” He says as he rolls his eyes. She frowned and opened her mouth to say something, but suddenly she shut it. Her cheeks took on a dark pink. Riley looked at her, confused. 
 “Hey, what’s the matter?” He asked. She frantically shook her head, shuffling away from him. Cinara peeked under the table to find Jae had reached across and taken her hand. She didn’t seem to mind it, but instead blushed deeper as he gave a small smile to her. Cinara held back a snicker, looking back up to the table and pointing down.  As the others figured out what was going on, Riley continued to look lost, yelling at others and shaking his sister to tell him what’s going on. Jae smirked at her brother, tightening his grip around Andrea’s hand. 
 Cinara laughed, glancing up from the tale. Her laughter stopped immediately.
 “Hey, Thomas!”
 The table snapped up to see Thomas approaching them with a serious expression on his face. Andrea cowered down at the sight of him, still feeling guilt. Magnus got up from his seat and walked to his brother. The group went quiet as they stared at each other for a second. Nobody moved. Nobody breathed.
  Then, Thomas broke into a grin.
 “Guess who got to rent a truck?” 
 Magnus leaped up. His arms engulfed Thomas in a bear hug, and he swung him around like a rag doll. 
 “That’s great!” He yelled excitedly. “That’s amazing! You’re the best brother ever!”
 Cinara glanced at Jasmine, who was beaming at the brothers.
 “Is he always like this?”
 Jasmine giggled.  
 “You have no idea.”
 After Magnus had let Thomas go on the ground, due to several people staring and making them both blush and cough awkwardly, they returned to the table. Jae immediately moved out of the way to let Thomas have his seat, sliding in next to Andrea.
 “Thanks, but actually, we need to go. I just came to get Magnus and pack up. Anna is coming around to drop off the truck.” He says. Turning to Magnus, he jabbed his chin towards Jasmine.
 “Start packing up, say goodbye, all that good stuff. I’m getting my bag from the dorm and heading out to the truck with Anna. When you’re ready, call me.” 
 Cinara stood up. She looked furious and confused.
 “Wait, Thomas! You suddenly just show up after hours of us worrying about you when you disappeared without explanation? Come on, stay for just a bit.” She said. Her voice sounded more whiny than usual.
 Thomas ignored her. Instead he faced Andrea, who quickly looked down. His mouth twitched. It almost looked as if he was hiding a smile.
 “Andrea, you don’t have to worry. I’m fine. I’ve already forgiven you.” 
 She didn’t look up but the tiny blush on her cheeks gave away her acknowledgment. Jae also saw this and tightened his lips into a line. The two locked eyes for just a moment. Then, just like hours earlier, Thomas turned and walked away, his pace quicker than usual. Magnus said goodbye to everyone and pulled Jasmine along, hurrying after his brother. 
 Cinara gritted her teeth as she watched them go. Andrea furrowed her eyebrows.
 “You okay?”
 She didn’t respond. 
***
 Thomas was already outside talking with Anna while Magnus and Jasmine scurried in the girl’s dorm. Jasmine had put together a small snack kit for the two after Magnus informed her of their trip that weekend. As she searched for it, Magnus kept stealing back numerous shirts she had borrowed from him before.
 “No, wait, not that one.” Jasmine muttered to herself as she pushed a drawer back into place. “Where the hell did I put it?” She continued searching in the messy room, pulling out desk cabinets, boxes from the closet, even some of her roommates old clothing containers.
 Magnus picked up a shirt from Jasmine’s disarrayed closet from his place on the bed. It was stained and yellowed, faded black letters spelling out ‘Freshmen Class of 2011’.  He eyed it and frowned.
 “This looks like mine.” He said. Jasmine peeked over her shoulder.
 “You gave that one to me.”
 “You said that about the last shirt.”
 “Because it was the same situation with the last shirt.”
 Magnus chucked it at her head. He missed, but she retaliated by throwing a stuffed tiger at him. 
 “You’re always stealing my stuff.” He said as he ducked out of the way. Jasmine scoffed.
 “You always give me stuff.”
 Magnus rolled his eyes. Jasmine continued to dig through her closet, looking for the snack pack. He sighed, watching her move things out of her way. She was still wearing the dress from earlier. She had discarded her cardigan, so now her shoulders were exposed to the cool air. His eyes wandered along her bent back until she stood up and turned around.
 “I could practically feel your stare on me.” She said. He swallowed. In the dim light of the room, Magnus felt like Jasmine has never been as beautiful as she had before.
 “You have no idea how badly I want to kiss you right now.” 
 Jasmine smirked. She slowly approached the bed, climbing onto him and leaning down towards his lips. She gently brushed over them with her own.
 “You know, I only wore this because the others girls kept looking at you all throughout the classes.” 
 “Oh yeah?” Magnus murmured. She was so close but wouldn’t let him touch her. Instead, she evaded all attempts he made to kiss her.
 “I didn’t take you for the jealousy type.” 
 Jasmine giggled.
 “I just like claiming what’s mine.”
 Her voice was sultry, honeyed almost. Magnus reached up desperately, and this time she allowed him to kiss her. It wasn’t lustful or craving. It was loving.
 Magnus opened his eyes slightly to see her face. His gaze drifted over her soft features, her dark hair, and her pale face. He suddenly hated that he had to leave so soon and couldn’t spend at least another hour with her. 
 Suddenly, his open eyes pinpointed something. On Jasmine’s desk, darkened by the room, sat the silhouetted shadow of a bear. The same bear he had seen before. Only in Jae’s hands. He pulled away from jasmine.
 She looked confused as he got up towards the light switch. When he flicked it on the bear came into full view. Its little back was propped up against Jasmine’s textbooks in a way so she could see it from the bed. She had to have seen it. She what to have picked it up from outside the door, or received it from Jae himself. But Jasmine wouldn’t cheat on him. It was a mistake. It had to be. 
 Magnus’s breath started to get heavier. 
 Wouldn’t it?
 “Where did you get that?” He asked quietly. Jasmine sat up in the bed.
 “Get what?”
 “The bear. Where did you get the bear?” 
 She got up from the bed and approached the desk. Her hands reached out to grab it, but Magnus snatched it away. He held it up to her eye level.
 “Where. Did. You. Get. This?” 
 She blinked.
 “I don’t even remember getting that.” She says. Magnus gripped the bear tighter. He was getting angrier by the second.
 “Seriously, Jasmine, where did you get it?”
 “I don’t know! It wasn’t there when I got up this morning.”
 He shook his head. Fury surged through him, and he hurled the bear at the wall. Jasmine watched in horror as he stomped towards the front door.
 “You’re lying! You’re seeing him, aren’t you?!” He yelled. Jasmine’s eyes filled with tears.
 “How could you say that?! What the hell is the matter Magnus?!” She took a step forward.
 “I would never cheat on you!”
 He continued to shake his head, whipping the dorm door open. It slammed against the hinges. Magnus bolted out into the hallway with Jasmine hanging off in the doorway.
 “Magnus! Magnus!” 
 He ignored her, bursting out the doors and heading towards the boys dorm. Just as he crossed the yard though, he saw the truck running by the cafeteria. It was already packed with the camping and hunting gear. Thomas was leaning against it, chatting idly with Anna. Without any thoughts he jumped into the front seat. Thomas looked up, startled. Anna had the same expression.
 “Thomas you better get your ass in here before I run it over.” He grunted. 
 “Thanks Anna for the truck.” 
 Thomas didn’t need to be told twice. He scrambled to get into the truck as Anna stammered her way through a goodbye. As soon as Thomas snapped in his belt, Magnus gunned it. They raced off the parking lot, skidding into the schools driveway, then onto the main road. The tires squealed, smoke rose. Then, they were out of sight.

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