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Modern Bad Batch stories

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Crosshair had never in his life needed his big brother as much as he did now. Omega was curled up tightly on the passenger seat. Visibly and audibly shaking with tears. He had come to pick her up after an especially urgent call from school that day. Working the night shift at a local library, he would have still been asleep at this time. He’d admit getting a bit bitchy when others interfered with his unusual sleeping cycles, but rest didn’t matter. Not when it was about those kinds of things.

The call had come unexpectedly. That was for sure. He was surprised to find that his phone number was even listed in her school files.

First of all, Hunter would have normally been the one to be contacted. He must have informed them to redirect, while he was on a business trip with Wrecker, because of course he would. Ever the control freak, Crosshair had thought whilst driving to Omega’s school.

Second, whenever she had a problem, was suddenly getting sick or needed a ride home, she would usually call them herself. But today, on the other end of the line, had been the concerned, pressed voice of her teacher. She’d spoken a bit too much and a bit too fast for Crosshairs liking but following where the conversation exactly headed hadn’t been possible for his sleepy state of existence anyway. After a few rustles of fabric, she had ended up giving the phone to Omega’s furious principal.

Through bleary eyes and a cloudy consciousness that was just coming out of sweet rem sleep, Crosshair hadn’t really understood what the commotion was about. The only thing he heard repeatedly was, that it concerned his sister and that it seemed to be urgent.

As soon as his sleep-stricken self had been arriving at school, Omega’s teacher pulled him from the parking lot into one of the empty classrooms. He had hoped to never set a foot into a classroom ever again. Yet, since they had Omega living with them, there he fucking was.

The nervous sweating teacher had explained to Crosshair that his sister had damaged school property as an emotional outlet, after a nasty word fight with another classmate.

Crosshair had honestly hoped for something more dramatic to be shooed out of bed at this hour. But apparently teachers were as disproportionately concerned as anyone else in his damn household.

He had trouble keeping a straight face, given the absurdity of the situation. Omega never had shown any violent outbursts. Quite the opposite. Whenever she had been upset about something, she at most got a good cry and afterwards seek bodily affection from one of them. (Usually Hunter, if he had been honest)

Crosshair soon realized that this hadn’t been fault to too much sadness or fear. It had been to aggression. This didn’t fit her at all. With a shaky hand and a clenched throat, Crosshair had accepted the bill for the damaged school property, as well as a letter over Omega’s suspension. He knew that, given Hunter’s overly protective parenting style, none of that really mattered as long as she was fine. Everything else could be handled later. So, he tucked it away in his back pocket, only ready to pull it back out again if he got his hands on one of his other brothers.

His head snapped over as the door to the classroom opened, something blonde with her gaze strict to the floor trotting in. For a moment, Crosshair was at a loss if he had enough decency to scold her. If so, what the hell should he say?

I am very disappointed with you?

How can you be so irrational?

No, no, his eyebrows furrowed. That might have been Echo's style, but it certainly wasn't his. He didn't think much of that parenting crap.

"Omega-" he reluctantly noticed her disheveled hair and the tears that had brimmed her eyes red. She barreled face first in his stomach area and clutched at his sweatshirt. She sniffled a stuffy-sounding noise into his jacket. Reaching for her shoulders, he pushed her away a little to look at her more closely. She wiped her nose with the back of her hand, still avoiding direct eye contact. He shook his head. 

Sensing his growing frustration, she finally raised her head and mouthed an 'I'm so sorry', stifled by more tears. "It's…okay. Come on, let's go home-" He waved goodbye to the teacher, the other hand still grasped at Omega’s shoulder.  

Walking out of the school building, she had searched for his hand and gripped it tightly. Crosshair being startled for two reasons. One being that she never did that, the other that he’d never offered it to anyone before either. But if she needed that today, she should have it, no matter his stupid insecurities.

He opened the backdoor of his graying old Mercedes and gently tossed the backpack inside. A book tumbled out of protest from her bag into the footwell. He looked after it, contemplating to grab it, eventually coming to the conclusion it didn't matter. Later, he thought to himself. Later.

With a huff she let herself fall on the passenger seat. Crosshair slid behind the steering wheel, hands on the ignition key, as he recognized something out of the corner of his eye. She had her hands crossed under her jacket, leaving the front unzipped. There, right over her belly button. He spotted a little speckle of blood. His vet brain didn’t hesitate.

“Show it to me.’’ He scoffed, probably more roughly than intended. Omega didn’t meet his gaze and most importantly, didn’t respond at all. He had enough of this nonsense. “Omega- show me your hand.” He reiterated, voice dangerously close to growling. She let out a frustrated angry sob but with a flinch and breath drawn hard through her lips, placed her hand into his.

He opened his eyes in horror. How could he be so fucking blind? Her hand looked terrible. Marbled purple bruises surrounded the cracked skin on her knuckles. Blood trickled from the last two knuckles down the back of her hand, smearing over the discolored parts.

Soldier instincts started kicking, Crosshairs fingers deliberately but gingerly began to feel around for any broken bones. She flinched violently under his grip. Shushing her, he continued to palpate the swollen hand. Tears spilled out of her eyes, begging him to stop. Maybe it had been the shock of the situation, his untrained sensation, or her whimpering, but he didn’t exactly know what he felt. He thought to have come across something at the metacarpal bone. He again trickled his fingers across each one of her joints, but indeed, something was up with her two outer fingers. Damn. He didn’t expect for his sister to have a punch like that.

“Sorry Omega, but we have to go to the ER.” He turned, meeting her frightened gaze. Letting her hand loose, she retracted it immediately.

“No-“ she croaked, swallowing thickly. “I jus’ wanna g-go h-home please.” She begged but he couldn’t give in. Not this time. Out of experience he knew how dangerous an undetected break of any bone could be to the body.

“Omega, No. None of that.” He said pulling the car key from the outlet, stepping outside to the back door. He fumbled under the driver’s seat, quietly muttering nasty profanities. Just as he thought his past dumbass-self must have gotten rid of it, his fingertips finally brushed against the nylon fabric. He sighed in relief and pulled the first aid kit out of its hiding spot, taking it with him to the front.

He laid it on his lap and unzipped the bag, revealing its expired contents. Most of the stuff in there had been out of date, even as ninety-nine had still been around, but the drive to the hospital was anything but short and (most importantly) he wanted to feel helpful someway.

Crosshair’s trained fingers ripped gauze bandage pack open and reached for the disinfectant. He doused couple of bandages in the pungent smelling liquid and held his left hand palm-up, an indication that Omega should place her hand in his.

She cried loudly as the cloth contacted her skin. For self-protection she tried to pull her hand out of his, but Crosshair's grip was stronger. He paused for a second, allowing her body to regain its composure. He had been an angry child; he remembered the biting feeling of disinfectant on open wounds. “I’m really sorry that it hurts, but that’s necessary.”

Not entirely convinced, Omega stirred in her seat. Twisting her body whenever he moved from one knuckle to the other to clean her hand. He tried his best to be quick about it. Now with all the blood gone, Crosshair could clearly see the amount of bruising coming to life. Something heavy turned over in his stomach, making him feel as if he was going to be sick any second. He shook his head. “We’re definitely going to the hospital.”

“I don’t understand why we can’t just go home.” Her pained sobbing turned into a frustrated, defiant pout. “You seem to be able to take care of my hand.” He didn’t miss the rising frustration in her tone and didn’t even bother hiding his own.

Because-“ he emphasized “I am not a doctor and you clearly need medical assistance.”

He couldn’t allow any of her feeble negotiations. Even if it was against her wishes. If Hunter found out she wasn't getting the medical care she desperately needed, Crosshair was sure he had to find a new shared house to live in. But enduring other people than his family had never been his strong suit.

He put an additional pack of bandages behind his dashboard, ready for Omega to grab them should she need them. "Just don't bleed in my car." His voice was laced with more venom than he had anticipated. Maybe he indeed was a little disappointed about Omega. Most definitely, the disappointment stemmed from his own failure. After all, Omega had never shown any outburst without prior warning signs. Had it been their fault for thinking she made such good progress when she hadn't? Shouldn't they have allowed her to stop taking her medication so early? Soon his head was filled with more self-doubt and worry than he was used to. God damn it, being the mother hen was Hunter's job.

But now, Hunter was off limits. He worked across the states for a few days with Wrecker on some big project for the construction company. Cid, the pain in the ass, if he remembered correctly, had been pestering them for weeks to represent the company in another subcontracting business.

At first Hunter had been reluctant to let Omega alone with the rest of their brothers. The control freak he was, he thought they would accidently get her killed or something. Just a shattered hand and maybe permanent mental illness…nothing to worry about… Crosshair snorted to himself, shaking his head.

Even if Hunter wasn’t available, Echo, being the mom of the group, had always come second. But Echo wasn’t available either. Nor was Tech. Now it had been up to Crosshair to decide what to do, and he was utterly lost

His stomach twisted briefly as he placed the first aid kit next to her backpack on the back seat. They all knew the reason why she detested doctors and other medical personnel so much. The hot burning feeling in his stomach reappeared as he turned the ignition key in the lock. They all were quite literally sons of a bitch…

The old engine hummed quietly as he pulled out of the parking space. “If you were brave enough to punch a dent into that poor locker, you should be brave enough for the doctors.” Finding his way back to reality, he slowly worked his jaw and didn’t miss the way she wiped at her eyes with the sleeve.

Omega’s voice was quieter and more anxious than he had ever heard her speak before. “Will you stay with me?” another sniffle followed.

Crosshair tried hard to make an assuring face; eyes pierced on the road. “Of course, I will.”

“Promise?”

“I promise. Don’t worry.” Being an experienced driver, he looked away for a sec. Placing a hand on the side of her face and wiping away a tear with his thumb. “I’ll never leave your side.”  

---

His car was just turning into the overcrowded parking lot of the hospital when she started sliding back and forth on the seat, her injured hand clutched tightly and pressed to her chest. “Do we really have to tell Hunter?” Her voice was so hopeful that he almost had to laugh. “Maybe he won't notice?”

Finding a spot near the entrance, he turned the engine off. “I think there is no way you and I can avoid this.” He scoffed, leaning over her small figure, pushing the car door on her side open, all the while being careful to avoid her protective stance.

----

He didn't even want to imagine what he would be hearing from Hunter when he would return home. Though he guessed, Hunter wouldn’t leave him that much time. He feared he had to explain himself long before his two brothers made their way back.

Leaning back he fumbled for her wallet in the schoolbag and pulled out the insurance card he needed for the front desk. The elderly woman sitting behind the glass front was kind. She handed him an icepack for Omega’s hand and redirected them towards a waiting area.

There they sat. Probably for more than an hour or two…or maybe even three and still waited. Time seemed to behave differently inside the hospital, that was for sure. As if they were stuck in a weird time loop. Leaning against his arm, Omega’s breathing was finally regular. Peeking down, he saw her closed eyelids twitch in a dream. He couldn’t help but smile. He knew the feeling of exertion after adrenaline wore off too well. Back in the army, he had barely been able to keep his eyes open on the way back after a dangerous mission or exercise.

He almost jumped as she moved her head away from his shoulder. Omega gave him a tiny yawn and rubbed her uninjured hand over the eyes. The injured one laid in her lap, still covered by the ice pack. He gave into the instinct to feel if it was still cold enough.

"Sleep Well?"  

She yawned and stretched her arm and legs. Judging by her eyes, puffy and with deep purple circles, that didn't seem to be the case. He slid further back in the chair to position himself more comfortable as a support.

"Come here, lie back down. It will probably take a while."

"Mhkay" She nodded back and turned on her chair in his direction, legs pulled tight to her body. Her weight was distributed irregularly on his chest. He shifted, putting one hand on her back. Omega scooched around, trying to position herself a bit more comfortably.

With his sister half asleep on his chest, he somehow felt more at ease than he ever would have thought. Still, his thoughts wandered back to all sorts of bad places.

“Can I ask you something?” Sickening feeling returning, he didn't even know himself if he wanted to know the answer. She nodded weakly. "What did that little bastard say to you?" He was surprised at his own difficulty to articulate the words in his mouth. In any other case, he was never at a loss for a stupid comment or two.

He heard a deep sigh and wasn’t quite sure if he should regret his request. “He said something really nasty about me - but that wasn’t the reason I-”

He made a feeble attempt a punching something in the air. She nodded. “Yeah. It was because he said something about you guys.”

Crosshair raised his eyebrow in surprise. “About us?” He stared aghast at the top of her head. Counting his own breaths as well as Omega's.  

Her breath hitched. “He said it was no wonder that no one wanted me and my crippled brothers.” Tears of anger began to rise again, and he was dead sure, if they hadn’t been in a public waiting room full of other people, she would let them out; accompanied with a curse or two.

Small needles of ice seemed to rattle down on his skin. If someone insulted himself, that was fine, but if someone slandered his family, he would see red. Crosshair knew if he had encountered this kid in his school days, he certainly wouldn't have aimed his fist past him.

„I’m so sorry.“ her voice was shy and brittle. He began to draw wide reassuring circles between her shoulder blades.

“For what?“ he flat out asked, letting his hand travel up and down along her spine.

“I know I should have been more in control-“ Something awful made its way through his chest. “I just couldn’t help myself.”

“Hey, no- I understand.” Her eyes widened in disbelief. He nodded. “I get angry sometimes. Trust me, I get it.”

“But I never saw you do something like that.”

Although he knew Hunter, ever in control, would kick him out if he told her, he thought to risk it anyway. “Well, redecorating lockers had never been my field of expertise- but I got into a couple of nasty fist fights back in school.”

A ridiculous understatement. He couldn’t count the number of times he and his brothers were sent to the principal’s office for such an occasion. In fact, he and his brothers had been so unmanageable in the past that it never took much to trigger an outbreak of violence. He knew it wasn't their fault. Technically they had their bad upbringing to thank. He wasn’t ashamed of his past. Though it was still difficult for him to talk about this part of his life.

Omega recognized his disgruntled look not to ask further and let it go. Instead, her head lowered ear down to his chest again.

“I am your brother. I’ll always understand.” Somehow a protective instinct, he certainly hadn’t experienced much of those, overcame him and for a moment all he wanted, was the tension to subside. He tilted his head forward and pressed his mouth into her mop of curls. She sighed. Thank God the people in the waiting room didn’t know who he was.

He felt the chest pocket of his jacket shaking. Omega complained with a yip. He rested her head further to the side and fumbled out the phone. The vibration was gone, but instead of the call display, he now saw the messages on his phone scrolling.

39 messages in the family group chat. Dozens of private messages from each Hunter, Tech, and Echo, and -fucking hell- 14 unanswered calls from Hunter. He hadn't realized how much time had passed since he'd picked her up. It seemed the school hadn't just informed him of the incident. He swallowed loudly against the tightness of his throat. So loudly that Omega took her head off his chest and met his gaze dumbfounded.

“Speaking of brothers-“ He showed her the cascade of text and voice messages. She gulped. Just then, a new one came in.

Call me back Cross. ASAP.

He thought for a moment, but then typed back a cheeky reply. Relax “dad”. She’s fine.

Hunter didn't even give him a chance to blink. Crosshair was expecting that. The cell phone almost fell out of his hand at the vibration of his brother’s next announced call. Crosshair didn’t want to take the call, especially considering where he was, but it looked like Hunter left him no other choice. He swiped right and held it to his ear. Winching as Hunter’s agitated voice blared through the speaker.

“What do you mean she’s fine? School called” Words toppled over each other as his nerves ran wild. Was his voice shaking?? “They said she's injured- she punched a kid?” Ill-informed Hunter kept shouting. “I must speak to her.” his high-pitched, nervous voice reached a momentum. “Give her the phone Cross.”

"First of all, cut the yelling.” He hissed quietly. “Second of all, she didn’t punch anyone.” Judging by what he knew about that kid, would be gladder if she had.

He was sure that Omega, at least by the looks of it, had heard every goddamn word Hunter just said. He didn’t know if she looked more terrified of Hunter or the nurses that kept calling people into the assigned rooms. He could hear his older brother breathe heavily on the other end.

“What do you mean? Echo said the principle called him and he couldn’t reach you.” Even though he knew it had been just as much his fault for being absent, he cursed his one limbed bastard of a brother at that moment.

“I forgot-“ He admitted. “She didn’t punch a kid.” He paused, letting the silence wash over him. “She punched a locker.” He whispered, his other hand cupping at the microphone. “Apparently some asshole kid said something nasty, and she thought she had to protect our family honor.” He could clearly hear Wreckers loud and raspy laugh. At least one of them had fun with their situation. Hunter snapped at him.

“Cross-” he began to ask with pressing urgency. “Do you want me to come home?” 

Oh, for fucks sake. Hunter couldn’t help himself, could he? Although Crosshair couldn’t deny how nice it would be to pass this responsibility back to Hunter, he also didn’t want to look like a complete incompetent fool. He shook his head.

“No Hunter. We’re fine.” He doubted he would be satisfied by that answer. “She hurt her hand a little- but we’re already in the emergency room. She’ll be okay.” Hunters breathing at the mention of her injury and the ER became irregular again. Crosshair knew he had to reassure his brother quickly. “I’m not leaving her side. Don’t worry.”

His strained look changed into a tender smile. As much as he hated to admit it, it actually felt good talking to his brother. One could perhaps even say he missed- No, he wouldn’t let himself be that dramatic.

“Good to know.” Hunter seemed hesitant, mind probably running wild with self-proclaimed accusations. As usual. “Can you put Omega on the phone for me? I wanna check on her real quick.”

“Sure- Talk to you later.” He huffed.

“Thanks Cross, oh and next time: Check your damn phone.” Hunter said.

He rolled his eyes, tapping at Omega's shoulder and signaling her to take the phone. She hesitated. “Hi Hunter.” He could see tears rising in her eyes again. She sniffed. His brother on the other end sounded desperate. “Yah, ‘m fine.” She looked up at Cross. “ ‘M so sorry Hunter. I didn’t mean to-‘’ she started whimpering again. She listened intently as Hunters muffled voice continued to babble to her ear, making affirmative ‘Mhh’ sounds from time to time. “No, don’t come. It’s nothing really.”

Even Cross couldn’t be fooled by the obviously masked distress. Her head snapped as one of the nurses came into the waiting area.

"Omega Sé?” She called her name timidly into the crowd. Crosshair flinched but held his hand up, signaling their position. He hadn’t heard that last name since the custody hearing. He and his brothers preferred to use the surname of their father Jango. At least Jango, as uncaring and negligent as he was, had never been cruel.

Crosshair stood up, Omega already following. "I’m sorry, got to go.” She said, handing the phone back to her brother but at the last moment retracted her hand to press it once again onto her ear. “Yes” she bit at her lip. “Love you too.” She said quietly in what seemed like a little embarrassment and gave the phone back.

----

Once in the treatment room, Omega had done better than he ever thought. Perhaps she had known that if she was as behaved as possible, the procedure would be over quickly. Or maybe it was because the doctor who treated her was a distant cousin of theirs. Not that he looked particularly familiar to Crosshair, but he had seen him at several family gatherings, or at least that’s what he remembered.

Jango basically seemed to spread all his goddamn sperm around town. He mustered a dark chuckle. His numerous half-brothers and cousins were to be found almost everywhere. The city basically was flooded with golden skin and hazel eyes, wiping away any other genetic profile in the process.

Unfortunately, Crosshair was confirmed in the suspicion of his flippantly made diagnosis. Her two outer metacarpal bones were indeed broken. He heard the doctors get into a heated discussion about surgery considering her fractures. In the end, however, they opted for a cast. They must have seen how uncomfortable she was in their presence. Omega had been brave. Crosshair had reluctantly acknowledged to a certain warm feeling in his chest. Never once short of a word of affirmation if she had needed it. She held her Crosshair’s hand through the entire process, never once letting go.

---

Arriving back home, he carried her half-asleep, pain-ridden figure on the couch. One pillow under the head and one under her hand. She hadn’t even stayed awake long enough to see him tucking her in. He smiled to himself, gently smoothing over the pale blond hair, same as his. Falling asleep under the influence of painkillers had always been a blessing.

Hoping nothing else would come up, he left her there and went into the kitchen, to fetch her a glass of water. Afterward going upstairs and plucking the phone into his charger beside his bed. The screen light up with even more Text messages. He groaned, texting some of the more worried ones back.

Hunter had updated their family group chat, informing the others Crosshair took care of her.

Another one of Tech’s private message followed, asking him if he should leave early from work. No answer apparently meaning ‘No’ in his books; Tech hadn’t come.

As soon as that was done, he went to get showered and dressed for work. Though he sometimes missed the evenings with his brothers, he couldn’t deny being glad to get a short break after that particular day.

Unfastening the uppermost button, Crosshair made his way back downstairs. He caught a glimpse of Echo’s shoes at the doorstep drawing his gaze to Tech’s coat on their rack. Putting on his shoes and jacket, he went back into the dimly lit living room.

His short goodbye wave broke off, as Crosshair spied their three silhouettes on the sofa. He barely managed to stifle a laugh, getting shushed by Echo, who pointed at a still knocked out Omega. In further effort to comfort her, his two brothers had put her legs over Echo’s prostheses. Tech, sitting right next to Echo, held her feet, stroking repetitive patterns across the end of the blanket.

Crosshair couldn't really make out what his brothers were watching on the TV. Not that it mattered. The sound was turned down so low that he could barely hear more than a hiss.

He stood leaning against the doorframe, waving another goodbye to them. Tech pointed to his cell phone, indicating he had written him a message with further instructions. He nodded, only now remembering the papers Omega’s teacher had given him. He reached over the end of the sofa, handing them to Echo. His half-brothers glance fell a little as his eyes discovered the stamp of her school. He nodded, saluting him.

Crosshair turned around, and as quietly as possible, closed the front door behind him. Night air was fresh and breezy but pleasant. He closed his eyes, being thankful to finally be outside the sterile smell of the hospital.

Then something bright light up in front of his closed eyelids. He carefully opened them halfway, recognizing the headlights of the car that turned into their driveway immediately.

Somebody pinch me. That can’t be true, or could it? The smaller figure in the passenger seat quickly jumped out of the car.

“Hunter!” Crosshair said breathlessly staring dumbfounded ahead. “Couldn't help yourself, could you?”

His brother shot him a more-than-annoyed look, rushing over to Crosshair. He put one hand on Hunter’s chest, distancing him. “Where is she?” Hunter began the same nervous fumble with his hands Omega always did.

“Asleep on the couch.” He noticed his agitated eyes, staring eerily numb into his own. “I didn’t leave her alone. She’s with Echo and Tech now.” he quickly added in defense, waving back at the shadow behind Hunter. “Hi Wreck’ !”

A sharp intake of breath from Hunter made Crosshair's head jerk back.

“I- I know but as you mentioned the ER I just-” His raspy voice broke off. Under his firm grasp, he could feel the trembling of Hunters body. “I am her guardian Cross’- If anything happened-“  He tried to make an open gesture with his hands. Strength left him halfway and he dropped his hands.

Fuck.

He didn’t even know, that for someone with Hunter’s level of resilience, a break had even been in the realm of possibility. Usually, it was him or Wrecker who had to be comforted but today, Hunter seemed utterly distraught. Crosshair couldn’t help but to feel a little scared. For the second time that day, he was completely at a loss.

He felt his throat clench up. “I know. It’s okay really. She’s fine now.” He smoothed and tried to give a reassuring smile. His hand traveled up, cupping Hunter’s face and forcing him to look directly into Crosshair’s eyes.

After a few breaths, his brother seemed to regain his composure. He cleared his throat, pulling back and blinking into the darkness of their front lawn. “Where’ you even going?“

“To work!?” he glanced around in defense, palms up. “I’ve got to make money somehow.”

He saw that Hunter exhaled in relief and nodded, obviously thankful for the provided solace. The corners of his mouth finally drew upward in a smile, swiping the back of his hand over his eyes. “We’re not built the same.”

“Nope, We’re not.” He snorted, palming his pockets for the car keys and squeezing Hunter’s shoulder once more before he went to unlock his car. “Glad you’re back.”

---

“86,95 $” Echo said, handing Hunter the bill. He had been waiting for this part. Omega’s gaze fell embarrassed into her take out box of Chinese food Tech had ordered.

Hunter had been expecting this. Out of all the things that day he couldn’t gauge for, the bill about her incident had been certain. Schools never let you get away with anything. He scoffed; eyebrows raised. “For the Locker?”

Echo cleared his throat nodding, all the while side eyeing their little problem child. Suddenly Tech leaned forward, chiming in.

“Fuck they’re cheap…”

“TECH!” he thought he must have heard wrong. “Still the language? Even Crosshair has it under control now.” for the most part at least. But oh boy, getting his lovely bastards of brothers to stop the swearing in front of Omega had been a task for a lifetime.

Echo’s gaze seemed to find the same spot Omega stared at ever so intently.

Tech watching Hunter, readjusted his glasses. “Very sorry Hunter, Omega-“ She waved it off. “I meant they’re cheaper than had estimated them to be.”

A loud, dark chuckle thundered out of Wrecker’s chest. “For someone that makes you’re amount o’ money ‘M sure they are…”

Ever the notorious obstructionist, Tech shot Wrecker a short but meaningful look. “Wrecker, to be fair-“ he began, pausing, and Hunter knew nothing good followed after that. “If you would have taken that one math course in highschool- You could have made as much money as we do now.”

Hunter, not wanting to be part of that conversation, joined Omega’s and Echo’s glances to the floor.

“Pff- sure that would’a mad aaall the difference Dr. Smartass.” Wrecker snorted, earning a low growl from Hunter.

Tech stared at Wrecker as if he tried with all his might to hold his tongue, preventing another comment he had to apologize for afterward.

Omega's eyes danced between her brothers, only slightly amused that this fight wasn’t about her... yet. Hunter knew good parenting sometimes needed a strong lead to follow, but he wasn’t eager at all to pursue with something he didn’t a hundred percent stand behind.

“That’s enough-“ he sighed, running his hand through his dark curls.

“Well if Wrecker didn’t-“

Hunter emittet another dangerously low growl. “Shut it Tech-”

Noticing Hunter’s exasperation, Echo put his box of takeout on the living room table in front making a thud, that seemed to startle the aggravated silence. “Tell him the good news, Omega.”

Hunter knew that, judging by Echo’s testy tone, there were none. Omega shuffled in Wrecker’s half embrace, wiping her eyes with her left hand.

Hunter caught on before she could bother to say anything. “Detention?”

She nodded shyly, expression faltering. “A week…”

Hunter couldn’t stifle his aghast stare. Omega’s gaze deliberately didn’t look up to meet his.

Echo once again cleared his throat, leaning from behind Wrecker and nudging her shoulder. “And?”

Omega picked at a stray thread, hanging loosely off her sleeve. Now, that hand fumbling wasn’t an option anymore, she had to choose another coping mechanism. “Suspension.” 

Thoughts filled with records on her school files and court documents, he couldn’t suppress a groan. If someone took her because of his incompetence…He had to be the bad guy- even if she would hate him for it. Hunter couldn’t risk her getting taken away over a stupid incidence at school. He did his best to put on a disapproving paternal voice.

“Ughh great Omega-“ He reached around to tighten his coming apart bandana. “What a trick shot.”

Karma, being a bitch, as always, came to claim a part of Hunters soul, as he heard her swallow a sob. “I’m so sorry. I know I messed up.”

Did she though? Hunter remembered doing way worse things that just punching lockers…

“HEY!” Wrecker, being the giant softie he was, pulled Omega closer, holding his fork out at Hunter. “Don’t make the kid cry.”  He looked as if he wanted to throw fists. Eyebrows furrowed, face set in stone, Hunter knew Wrecker was in for it.

Thankfully, Echo managed to break any further altercation. “We have to talk about this Wrecker.” He sat back, prosthesis hurting after a prolonged period of crouched posture. “Don't let her tears fool you. You're too soft.”

Hunter didn’t know if he would agree with that kind of sentiment. Echo had been full army vet. Understanding, if the situation required it, but also strict when needed to be.

“Well none o' you are.” Wreckers grasp became firmer, shielding her from her brothers appraisals. “Show the kid some love god damnit. She jus' broke her hand. What the hell is wrong with you guys?”

That had been a sentiment Hunter could get himself behind, but he had the responsibility after all. The thought of Omega being whisked away to proposed safety knocked the air out of him.

Tech readjusting his glasses, appeared to find his voice again. “ I think Wrecker might be on to something here” A statement that they certainly didn't hear too often. “Traumatic experiences such as bodily harm shouldn't be consoled by mindless yelling. Even Crosshair seemed to be aware of that.”

Why, why for god’s sake couldn’t Crosshair be here? He could have told Hunter what was right, what was wrong. Cracked jokes about Hunter’s insecurities, just to ease the mood a little. Being the voice of reason for a family of six was more than exhausting sometimes.

His hand traveled to his neck, massaging the tight muscels. “It's just...Omega what were you thinking?”

Hunter didn’t miss the way, Wrecker gingerly pushed her toward him. The most emotional intelligent of them all, he knew when a reconciliation was on it’s way.

Omega's eyes still didn’t find the bravery to look up into Hunters. Her shoulders drooped as she sniffled again, wiping tears away with her sleeve until Tech reached around, handing her a Kleenex box. “I dunno”

She swallowed heavily, and Hunter knew he couldn’t resist any longer. With a -shush- he drew her into his arms, careful not to bristle against her cast. Cradling her head, he traveled his hand up and down her spine.

“Are you angry at me?”

His heart clenched. Heck, his entire body did. He tried his best not to let it on. Reaching underneath her chin, he finally forced her eyes to meet his. He couldn't let this go on any longer. Who was he kidding? He shook his head. “No kid-“

Finally, the truth.

“Guess I’m glad you’re not hurt any worse.”

Relieved tears rolled down her cheeks and onto his cupping grasp. He pulled her back onto his chest, concluding that a broken hand was enough of a punishment for now.

This, figuring things out as a family...was way harder than Hunter could have ever imagined.

---

Takeout boxes piled up on the pushed aside living room table. Close to Omega's sleeping body stood a Kleenex packet, indicating that much had been discussed during the night. Sometimes Crosshair was annoyed, about missing such important moments. Even if Wrecker, Hunter, Echo, or Tech would later report on what had gone on, it just wasn't the same. 

He smiled at the sight of his passed-out siblings. Omega, in the same position he had left her in now snuggled close to Hunter. Tech still held her feet in his grip. For a brief moment, he thought about pulling out his smartphone to take a picture. Reluctantly, he had to admit that the sight of his sleeping brothers and sister was cute? He cringed as the word came up in his head.

Instead, he sidled over to Omega. Her head lolled on the armrest of the couch. Breathing in and out deeply lost in a dream world, her injured hand lifted on her stomach. He bent down, trying to brush the hair from her forehead, as he had observed Echo do many a times before. She looked so eerily peaceful. Quite grotesque as he considered the emotional turmoil she had to endure yesterday. 

He was about to move into the kitchen to fetch himself a cup of coffee and set out breakfast for the others, when a small hand grabbed his wrist from behind. He turned and instinctively sank to his knees. Omega blinked, pressing his hand to her cheek. At his ginger thumb strokes she sighed, closing her eyes again.

“Hey-“ he whispered, just loud enough that only the two of them understood his words. “How are you?”

She nodded bravely, trying to fool him with a put-up smile. Crosshair knew better. He recognized that pale, embarrassed, empty look in her eyes. It displayed pain. A sharp sensation blossomed in his throat, making it hard to breathe for a moment. He swallowed against it.

Once in the hallway, he decided to turn back around to catch another, quick glimpse of the huge cuddle pile. Omega had closed her eyes again, holding her head against Hunter's sleeping chest.

Argh- something in him couldn’t resist. Cut had said kids make a man soft, but this much?

He rolled his eyes, pulling his smartphone out and switching it to camera mode. Cursing his entire existence, he realized too late that he hadn't switched the flash from his camera off. He quickly retracted it, as the bright light abruptly illuminated the room. 

Somehow, he had already feared that this incident would not go past his siblings unnoticed. Hunter's eyes shot open, bristling against Echo, who jerked upright. Omega yelped as she almost fell off the couch. 

Damn military reflexes.  

However, Tech and Wrecker were unaffected. As always. Grinning, he remembered all the drills Wrecker had slept through or the amount of trouble Hunter and he had waking Tech up. Sometime into their service, the pair had gotten into the habit of physically dragging Tech out of bed, since nothing else seemed to disturb his sleep in the slightest. Crosshair envied that trait.

Hunter, slowly finding his way back to reality, glanced at Omega's cast. Eyes growing, half-tattooed face rippling under the same panic that Crosshair had seen yesterday. Hunter gently grabbed Omega's shoulders, straightening her up.

Crosshair, once again, had a pressing feeling to intervene quickly.

“Hunter calm down. Nothing serious happened, right?” He tried to soothe, tone pressing on the last words. Hunter, being Hunter, saw it differently of course.

He knew he couldn’t be of help anymore…or maybe he just wasn’t in the mood of another discussion. Sleep deprivation really didn't do him any good. He bit his tongue for a snarky remark and went to their medicine cabinet, scrambling some medications together. After that, he went to the kitchen, to grab her a slice of toast and a glass of orange juice. He hoped that would help her get the nasty tasting pills down.

Hunter was quietly mumbling words of reassurance to Omega as he rejoined their bunch in the living room. Crosshair sat down to Hunter’s feet on the floor. Omega bristled at the sight of her breakfast. He placed the pills in her open hand. She was about to pop them in her mouth when he tapped the slice of toast.

“Not on an empty stomach kid.” He said, trying not to sound exhausted. He almost stumbled over his own words. He'd never called her kid before. That had been Hunter’s, Echo’s or Wrecker’s thing, but it just somehow came naturally and even before he could think about it twice. Omega also noticing his change of demeanor, took the piece from his hand. Under his watchful gaze she began chewing at it. Mumbling a ‘Thank you’ between the mouths full of toast.

Omega wrinkled her nose at the way the pills tasted, but he quickly handed her the glass of juice. She chugged the glass down in one go, as if it was liquid salvation. He saw Hunter's arm kneading her shoulder lightly. He met Crosshair's gaze, eyes finally a little more settled and almost back to how Crosshair usually knew them.

“Glad you're back-” he said as a touché.