“Seat belt,” Josh orders as he adjusts first the seat and then the mirror.
Drake’s response is to slouch even lower, cross his arms over his chest and yawn. Then, after stealing one last peek of his brother’s face, he lets his eyes flutter shut and evens out his breathing. Feigning sleep is one of the many art forms he’s perfected.
“Drake,” Josh complains, “now is not the time for napping!”
Drake lets Josh’s shoulder nudge jostle him to the side and, mumbling random words in his best sleep-slurred voice, he settles in against the window. Last minute he decides to add in an unhappy whine for good measure. His brother’s a total sucker for those and Drake likes to think of himself as someone who’ll go the extra mile if the reward is good enough.
True enough, there’s a defeated groan from the seat next to him followed by the tell-tale click of Josh undoing his own seat belt before he leans over Drake’s seat. With Josh comes the familiar Josh smells – fabric softener, tooth paste, shower gel and under all of that something which is just Josh – and Drake’s lips slide against the cold glass of the window as he smiles.
“Unbelievable,” Josh scolds, but his voice is too soft to sound properly outraged. “You’re unbelievable. I told you to go to bed last night, but did you listen? Oh, no, you most certainly did not. Drake Parker knows best and he’s just too cool to go bed before midnight even on a school night. Now look at you-”
The nagging continues but Drake tunes his brother out as Josh grabs hold of his shoulders and tugs, propping Drake up so that he can reach the seat belt and strap Drake into his seat himself. Drake lets himself go heavy and boneless, wanting to draw it out as much as possible but Josh has always been ridiculously strong and, as usual, it’s all over much too soon.
Still, as Josh pulls back to his own seat and steers out of the drive way, Drake’s skin is left warm and tingly. Deep in his belly there’s a pleasant, warm buzzing which he knows will last him well through the first period.
“You can’t eat that!”
Drake makes a show of looking down at his tray – fries drowned in ketchup, mocha cola and two brownies – before picking up a handful of fries and cramming them into his mouth. He chews quickly and washes the sweet-salty mess down with a swig from the soda can before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Can too,” he says, smirking at his brother before picking up another fry and eating it somewhat more sedately. He counts the seconds as Josh’s face turns fire extinguisher red and then relaxes back into his seat as he gets the expected lesson on nutrition and the evils of excessive sugar, fat and salt.
He rolls his eyes at all the right places and smacks Josh’s hands away the first few times he reaches for Drake’s tray. It’s first when the other students stares get a bit too much that Drake ‘gives in’ and allows a triumphant Josh to first steal the extra brownie and then replace it with an apple and a bag of carrots sticks from his own lunch tray.
The apple is all right while the carrot sticks are just as icky as ever. Drake eats it all though, glancing up every now and again to catch a glimpse of the smug look on Josh’s face and the little smears of chocolate on his brother’s lips.
A third into the movie, Drake feigns sleep again. It’s even better this time because he gets to sag against Josh’s warm, solid shoulder and his timing is perfect – mid-epic battle with plenty of beeps, bangs and booms to keep Josh distracted – so it takes a few minutes for his brother to even notice.
When he finally does notice Josh laughs in a way which clearly says hah, I told him so before lowering Drake down on the couch and draping something soft over his shoulders. Then he lifts Drake’s legs into his lap and plops back down into his corner of the couch to finish watching the movie. After a few moments Drake can feel his brother relaxing back a bit deeper into the couch; even going as far as stretching out an arm and resting his hand on Drake’s hip.
Victory – awesome, brilliant, unbeatable victory -- is his and under other circumstances Drake imagines he’d be jumping around the room, crowing his success and making up ridiculous dances which he’d never let anyone but Josh see him perform. As it is, he just smiles and soaks in the warmth radiating from his brother.
And eventually Drake falls asleep. This time for real.