Virgil fingers the remote control and squares his shoulders as he squints up at his brother. His pulse is already quickening, fingertips are tingling. And it takes all of his self-control not to jump up and down in anticipation. Something about the toy car and the racing, he just feels ten years old again. And watching Turk get more and more restless, that just adds to the fun of it.
“Waiting, sweetheart, just waiting”, Turk says.
Virgil tries not to blow the whole thing by laughing too much already and plays dumb.
“Waiting for you-”
“What do you want?-”
“Go, little girl- you’re like a little girl!”
Virgil chuckles. Yeah, Turk calling him a little girl, that’s something he’s never done before. Turk’s called him a girl their entire lives. He’s also called him weak, and stupid, and a whole bunch of other things. When they were in primary he even had a gang of cronies mobilized against him for a while, so every recess Virgil was met by a whole choir calling him Virginia, which they all thought was the most clever insult ever and laughed hysterically every time Virgil ignored them. But then every time he ignored them Turk would run after him and wrestle him to the ground, so that could have something to do with the hysteria as well.
Anyway, that was when he still had cronies that looked up to him. By the time they reached 5th grade only little kids looked up to him, at least literally, and Virgil figured that made it all worth it.
“Now who’s little!” he’d shouted the day he was officially declared taller than his brother.
Turk had sulked for a good hour after that, but then he decided that Virgil was still a girl, so it was okay, and he kept teasing him at school, and at home, and he even extended his vocabulary with words like ‘pussy’, and ‘sissy’, and ‘prima donna’, and ‘faggot’. Once in a while he even resorted to the old nickname Virginia, but he never called him ‘Sweetheart’ with other people around. That was like the special insult, like it had some actual affection attached to it, which Virgil seriously doubted, probably Turk was just being cautious around some of the idiots they hung out with, in case they read too much into the nickname and started teasing him for using it. Although at that point none of their friends usually bothered to tease either one of them, considering they did such a good job of it themselves.
“Just relax”, he tells him now, knowing how much it will aggravate him.
Virgil bites down on his lip to stop himself from exploding with laughter when Turk starts raving, but sensing that his brother is on the breaking point and this close to abandoning the whole race idea, he composes himself.
“I can do this all day, don’t make me- I’m gonna get out of the car and drop you like third-period French-!”
“Relax”, Virgil shouts and presses the acceleration button on the control.
His car speeds off down the race track. A second later Turk is on its heel with the real thing, stepping on the gas for dear life and still they’re tied. Virgil whoops and laughs, pressing the acceleration button harder, even though it won’t do anything, the car already driving at top speed. He can picture Turk’s face, surprise and agitation all mingled together. He probably didn’t think Virgil could actually trim the motor so it’d stand a chance against his monstrosity of a vehicle, let alone beat it-
Virgil’s laugh does a u-turn and he immediately shuts up, as he stares at what used to be his car, now in pieces on the track, and Turk swerving almost gleefully before driving away from it.
Virgil takes a deep breath through his nose and pushes the control’s antenna down. He shouldn’t be surprised. He isn’t surprised.
He almost thinks he can hear Turk’s ridiculous laugh from the car, but he’s probably just imagining it.
Stupid bastard always was a sore loser, he thinks.
Like that time in 3rd grade when they were playing doubles with Mike and Brendan by the basket ball hoop in the school yard and Virgil snaked his arms around Turk and almost got the ball from him, until Turk elbowed him in the stomach. And then, after having got the ball through the hoop, he wrestled him to the ground and sat on him until he admitted to being a girl - which Virgil did, but with his fingers crossed - and then Turk had the nerve to ruffle his hair.
“Get off me!” Virgil had shouted as Turk scrambled off him, laughing.
Virgil had rubbed a hand over his abdomen where Turk’s elbow had struck him. It’d really hurt, and he remembers thinking he wouldn’t be surprised if he got a bruise - which he did.
Funnily enough, when Mike got him in a head lock a moment later and started to twist and turn and pull on his neck so that he could barely breathe, Turk had walked up to them and punched Mike in the face, broke his nose and all. Virgil remembers losing his footing and falling on his butt - which also got bruised - when Mike let go of him and he remembers holding a hand up to his neck, protectively, like someone had just tried to strangle him.
And as he was catching his breath, he caught Turk’s eye. Turk had this steely look, Virgil doesn’t remember seeing that look on him again, and he definitely hadn’t seen it before then, he looked quite scary. And just like that, he spun on his heel and started to walk away, no explanation, nothing, not then, not ever.
Virgil had felt light. Like he wasn’t in his own body entirely. And he’d looked over at Mike and Brendan; Mike was holding his nose with both hands and crying, blood was seeping through his fingers and running down his arms and getting soaked up by his shirt sleeves. Brendan was hovering near him, fidgeting in almost panic, wanting to help but not knowing how.
“Fucking freaks!” Mike had gurgled miserably.
Virgil remembers noticing the use of plural and numbly thinking, that means me too, and so he’d scrambled up to his feet and started to walk away as well.
They kept hanging out with Mike and Brendan all through school. But no-one ever brought up the incident. And Virgil never asked his brother why he did it, not even years later, even though he’s still curious about it whenever he remembers that day. Sometimes he wonders why he doesn’t just ask him, but he knows why.
He doesn’t ask, because he’s afraid of what the answer would be.
What he doesn’t know is which answer scares him the most, Turk shrugging it off like he didn’t really have a reason, like he just wanted to join in the fight and hadn’t meant to break Mike’s nose at all. Or that he definitely meant to break it, and that he did it to protect his brother.