Lately, on the walks I took with the twins after work to manage some strength back into my bones and some energy back into my body, we’ve been spotting other teenagers, usually sporting one of those jackets with the reflective stripes, wandering around with a stick with a sharp end and a bag in one hand. I’ve seen them before and I knew what they were though the twins were puzzled at the sight of these teenagers walking around, picking up trash like that.

I told them that, now and again, some teenagers were caught doing things they shouldn’t like shoplifting—Mira shuddered slightly beside me at that mention—and they were given community service. They had to do certain things, like trash pick up or even homeless feeding, for a certain number of hours and then that was that. At least, that’s what I knew about the subject, Élodie had done community service before and she’d whined and complained about it all along, she’d not even learned the point of it.

“Are you sure you want to walk all the way there and back? It’s a pretty long walk and you looked ready to sleep when we got home.” Mira’s quiet voice broke through my thoughts and I blinked down at him a moment. It was a good question. I looked up to ‘all the way there’ which wasn’t that far in my opinion though my tiredness tried to tell me otherwise and I nodded.

“It’s not that far, it really is just two more blocks off and I need to get this one soothing cream I know they sell, my body aches but now it’s all in my muscles and this cream will help and I’m not just sending the two of you off in an errand for me without some effort on my part.” I shrugged, offering him a smile. He looked doubtful but let it be. The sky still was mostly clear, the library had had to close early today, one of the rare times, because the electrician had needed to work in places where people were constantly wandering and he couldn’t really manage with everyone there.

“I just don’t want you to overexert yourself, Cyrille.” I knew that much and it was absolutely sweet. I took his hand in mine and squeezed it as a thank you for his worrying about me. He blushed and ducked his head, I snickered and looked over to Agni, walking on the other side of me. He looked a little puzzled but I was more amused thank anything else. I took his hand in turn and there I was, walking down the street, hand in hand with these amazing twins. Three guys walking holding hands, that was worth trying just to see how people would react.

Some people steered clear, others gave us dirty looks but not once did either of them try to pull their hands from mine. People could think what they wanted and that was it, I didn’t care about what they thought though I figured maybe the twins did. I would apologize to them later, more than likely when we got back.

Across the street from where we stopped, in front of the small natural-remedies pharmacy, a teenager, he looked no older than fourteen, was sweeping trash into a portable little bin. More and more, I saw kids seemingly on community service and I had to wonder. I suppose it might have been the area. I grew up in the rich and fancy neighbourhood, where they lived now certainly wasn’t it though it wasn’t the worst area in town either. It was a little sad, really.

“You guys want to come in or am I trusted enough to get in and out by myself?” I had to ask the question really. Mira blushed again, looking absolutely sheepish and Agni shrugged. I released their hands, knowing I couldn’t actually walk home the way I’d walked here since I’d have my bag to carry though there were some chances that one of them might offer to carry it, and I slipped inside with a yawn.

I did feel completely worn, exhausted to little bits. My body was killing me though that might have just been because I’d overdone it during the day with the books, I’d gone up the ladders to place books up where no one else really cared to go. I wanted to be better, I wanted to stop limping about and stop being babied though I didn’t mind that last one.

I looked around until I found the one thing I was looking for, I took three of them as I had a feeling I’d go through the first two rather rapidly. The guy behind the counter gave me a slightly surprised look but he didn’t say anything else, he bagged up my purchase, put in those little extras he always puts in there as samples and I paid before I was on my way back out the door.

I’ve only spoken to the owner of this place once or twice, I’ve seen him with some other tattooed guy now and again but that’s about it. He’s nice from what I’ve managed to discuss with him and that’s all that matters. I don’t really care what kind of folks he spends time with.

Stepping back outside, I stretched, wincing slightly. I yawned and looked between the twins again. They were watching the kid with his broom across the street, he looked morose, as if this was the worst thing in life he could have ever hoped to do.

“Time to head back before I sleep out on the ground, yes?” I murmured the words, hoping not to startle them. Agni reached for my bag before I could say anything and he took it. He set it to his wrist and took my hand again. Something warmed in me and I laughed gently. It was so strange but I couldn’t complain. I really did see these two as I would some sort of brothers. That is not to say I couldn’t grow interested in them in a physical sense but I’m not really interested in that at this point.

On the other side of me, Mira snagged my other hand and we walked, peacefully hand in hand, back home. We made it back without a single hitch and I didn’t feel too exhausted or too worn. It was surprising considering how I’d felt when I stepped out of that shop. I briefly wondered if it was because there was some connection between the two of them and since I’d been in the middle I’d been given a bit of a boost but I let that one drop as it made little to no sense.

Once inside, I took my bag back and I briefly disappeared into the bedroom that had become mine to put them away. I came back out a few moments later, just one tube of the ointment in hand, feeling several shades of sheepish. Mira had settled into the kitchen to see what they might prepare so I went to see Agni who was looking through his video games.

“I don’t mean to be a bother and you might not even want to do this but I can’t honestly rub this thing into my back or my shoulders or, well you know. You think you’d be okay with helping me it?” I was hopeful, I really was. I didn’t know how else I’d get this natural stuff rubbed into my aching muscles. I had less issues about natural medicine than I did the hospital stuff so I wasn’t worried about an addiction being created.

After some pondering, he smiled at me, his eyes bright and amused and he walked me out of his room and off into the living room so we wouldn’t be too much out of sight of Mira to not leave him wondering what we were doing. It seemed mostly natural, really. I’d do my legs after he did my back, it was the part of my that ached the most at this point and relief sounded absolutely wonderful.


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