at the top

“First one who reaches the top decides what we eat for dinner!” Zora offered the words to her brothers who were looking the semi-steep hill over. “I’m heading up and I’ll call out, when I do, you two start going.”

It was something of a mock obstacle course, it was outside, all nature-made and the weather was nice enough to afford this friendly sort of race. Her brothers had just barely begun to spend time together again after Mira had decided that it was time for them to stop sharing a room. She knew they needed the exercise. Since they had found—though it had been offered more than they had found it—a way to have a permanent roof over their heads, they had stopped their almost constant wandering.

While on the streets, they had always gone from one place to the other, energy had been spent walking and at times jogging to get to places before they closed. She had a feeling that exercise was one of those things that was necessary now. The extra energy her brothers had seemed to leave them antsy, it wasn’t a good thing. She couldn’t help but wonder if that wasn’t at the source of their disagreement and subsequent ignoring of one another after the room change.

Once at the top, she looked down to her brothers. They still were looking the area over and her lips quirked slightly. This brought back memories. On hot summer days she did bring them to parks and to the hills for much needed outings, exercises, running around like the kids they had been. She waved her arms and their attention turned to her. She nodded to herself.

“THREE!” She had to scream to be sure they heard her, they were quite a distance off.

“TWO!” They were changing their position, moving just so, getting ready for the run. This would do them good.

“ONE!” Almost now, they looked at one another and she wondered if they weren’t playfully teasing one another. Agni had always been the one to win these races before but it had been some time since the last one so maybe things had changed.

“GO!” She called out, waving her arms to get them going and they started on their way up the hill.

What she was glad about, was that there was no shoving, no pushing. She had seen kids run up this hill before, they always pushed and shoved, tried to get to the top in ways that seemed absolutely unfair to her. Not her brothers though, no, they just focused on the run, barely even noticing one another.

Halfway up however, Mira tripped and she was certain Agni would ignore him, keep on going. Much to her surprise and pleasure, the eldest stopped, helped his brother back up and checked him over briefly. They ran side by side for a few moments before Agni was pushing harder once more and he took the lead. It only lasted moments before Mira was gaining back on his brother. He was still holding back, as if waiting for the last moment before he really pushed himself hard.

Zora wasn’t much worried about which of her brothers would win. In either case, dinner was bound to either be pizza or maybe Thai. Sushi maybe depending if they felt adventurous. Agni was more likely to ask for pizza or even Thai if he really felt like it. Mira seemed to be more curious about learning from other cultures, sushi was not uncommon in his discussions, as well as foods from different places around the world. It wasn’t always easy to find a place that sold what he wanted to eat. Most of the times they had to hit the market to find the necessary ingredients and made it at home. It was easier.

As they came to the last stretch, as she had suspected, Mira pushed harder, he had fallen behind a slight distance from his brother but now he gained back, settled shoulder to shoulder and pushed even harder on that last length and made it ahead of Agni. It was Mira who came to the tree at the top of the hill first. He collapsed against it with a tired but pleased laugh. Just seconds later, Agni almost collapsed over his brother and Zora could only smile down at them both.

Out of her pack, she pulled two bottles of water and handed them over to her almost tangled siblings. Both were chuckling softly but not moving to free themselves. This was a good sign and she could only hope that things would continue going this way.

“So what are we having for dinner tonight, Mira?”

The brothers went quiet, Agni looking down to his sibling briefly before he was working on untangling himself carefully. He flopped down next to his sibling and took a long sip of his water as Mira grew thoughtful. He canted his head this way and that before his face brightened and he looked up towards his sister with a grin.

“Cajun!”

“Cajun it is. Whenever you two feel ready to head back down the hill.”

Both brothers groaned as they looked down the way they’d come and shook their heads. Zora laughed and rolled her eyes slightly. “You two are absolutely out of shape, I’m going to have to get you both to run more from today on. We’ll go for walks every day, just around a couple of blocks to start with. We’ve been stationary for a while, I think it’s time to start walking again. At least now we have somewhere to call home and I have a job and money, life is settling.”

It took an hour more before the twins found it in themselves to get back up and start the trek down the hill. Not so much that they had needed that long but the view from the top still was beautiful, nothing could really take away from that. Finally however, each with a small snack in hand, they started on the way back down. It was a slow descent with little talking but the air was clear, there was no tension between the twins. Zora could only breathe a soft sigh of relief.

“Now, you said Cajun, that’s a wide enough range of things, have any detailed idea in mind?” She broke the peaceful silence, figuring that getting the details out of he brother now was best. At least that way it would be easier to head out and get the missing ingredients instead of heading home, finding out what those ingredients were and heading back out again.

Shrugging, Mira cants his head again, thoughtful. Agni, much to Zora’s delight, takes his brother’s hand, mostly to lead him down the safe path since thinking Miras tended to not really look where they were going.

“I guess we could try to make some fried crawfish remoulade and some fried oyster po’ boys and maybe have ourselves some New Orleans banana split for dessert?”

Zora could only quirk a brow, this was more detailed than she’d figured, really. Still she chuckled softly and nodded. “I guess we can do all that. I bet those are all recipes you’ve found recently and you don’t know the ingredients by heart, mm?”
Blushing, Mira shrugs and eases a step closer to his sibling. “Did find them recently, I got them printed out and put in my book of recipes. Sorry we have to go back home. I know you probably wanted to get the missing ingredients out here before heading home.”

Laughing softly, Zora shook her head and shrugged herself. “I think we have most of the main ingredient home, what we don’t have we can substitute. So let’s get these crawfish and oysters and the rest. You can fill me in on what you recall of your recipes so we can find what we might be missing, okay?”

Brightening, Mira nodded. This was going to be a wonderful dinner of discovery. He had honestly gotten the idea from the weekly dinner they all shared, now at Alexis’s and Eoghan’s place. It was fun to discover new places in the world through their foods.

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