Lily tapped her nail on the pole she was leaning against, her foot moving in time with each click... click…
“If we're going, grab the stupid crate and let's go. It’s way too hot out here to be loitering, even if we are teenagers.”
“I called him, alright?” Dennis snapped. “He's coming- you know, by car? Not by wormhole?” he said sarcastically.
Not excited to waste the energy arguing with her obviously touchy brother, Lily just groaned at his theatrics and pulled out her phone. Fortunately, she didn't have long to wait, and soon a dark blue pickup had parked in front of them.
“Hey, guys.” Elijah said, climbing out of the truck.
Dennis jerked his thumb towards a flat-pack box that had been leaning on the same pole as Lily. “Gonna get that for me?”
Elijah rolled his eyes, but Lily noticed his smile as he hauled their unmade sofa into the bed of his truck. She also noticed that neither of them bothered to ask if she wanted to sit in the front. Apparently, that was Dennis’s spot, the glove compartment stuffed with lens wipes and random pieces of jewelry like in his own car.
“So, Dennis, do you live here or did you just forget how to drive?” Lily asked, a slightly snappish tone to her voice. Waiting outside in the heat had not done either of them any favours.
“I’m normally the driver for our group.” Elijah said curtly. He was almost always curt, at least whenever Lily saw him, tending to overshoot ‘emotionless’ slightly and land just on the edge of ‘vindictive’. “But, yeah, there is a lot of Dennis’s junk in here.”
Dennis flashed them both a look of deep betrayal. “It’s not junk! I use this stuff.”
Elijah huffed and quickly glanced over at him. “Oh, sure, like you just have to have nine different necklaces sliding around where I should be keeping… something practical,” he trailed off, slightly unsure what people actually keep in their cars when they’re not filled with their boyfr- best friend’s stuff.
“It’s not like my car doesn’t have enough hairbands in it to hang a bridge.” Dennis replied, apparently deciding not to pounce on the ribbing opportunity of ‘something practical’ like he normally would.
Lily looked away from her phone for a second to check their location. “Well, this has been some fascinating insight into your vehicular stockpiles, but we’re almost home.”
“Oh. Right.” Elijah pulled onto the Radcliffes’ street, and brought his truck around to the back. “If you just get the garage I’ll bring the box inside.” Lily buzzed the garage door open, and Elijah lugged the flat-pack into the house with Dennis trailing behind him. “This goes in your room, right?”
Dennis went to follow him, but was held up by Lily as he paused to grab a pair of scissors. “I’m sure you can read the IKEA booklet by yourself, so I’ll leave you to it. See you, Elijah.” She said, waving at him as she turned the corner of the hallway.
Shaking his head at her, Dennis joined Elijah in his room and brandished the scissors. “Let’s get this over with.”
About half an hour into building the sofa, the adult Radcliffes- who Dennis basically ordered Elijah to stay away from- showed up, and their son went out to argue with them, in an odd interaction like he had never seen before. The normally fiery Dennis, while still aggressive, came off in a way that Elijah could only describe as cold. Unannounced in the bedroom, catching glimpses through the not-quite-closed door, it was as if he was spying on some weird play. When Dennis threw open the door and, among other things, alerted his parents to Elijah’s presence, he felt like he had been caught behind the bank with a bagfull of cash. It was quickly slammed shut, however, and the sense mostly abated.
He reached out to grasp Dennis’s shoulder, but thought better of it and pulled his hand back. “Dude, you-”
“Do I look like I want to ‘talk it out’?” Dennis snapped, adopting a mocking tone for the last few words. “Listen, let’s just get this done and you can go home, okay?”
Elijah wasn’t sure what response he had expected, but getting basically kicked out was not it. This obviously wasn’t the time to push it, though. “...Yeah, sure. Hand me the manual?”
Dennis’s haste wasn’t entirely grouchiness, it turned out, as by the time they were done it had already started turning dark outside.
“That’s the last bit. Now for the final test.” Elijah proclaimed and flung himself down on the now fully-assembled sofa. When it didn’t show any obvious signs of imploding, he patted the space next to him.
As he sat down, Dennis slid his glasses up somewhat nervously. “Yeah, it’s very functional. You know, it’s not that late for a Saturday, we could… do something?” He said hastily, the closest he was going to get to apologising.
Elijah slid his hand over Dennis’s resting on the cushion between them and squeezed it. “I don’t have anywhere to be.”