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Moths rest with their wings folded...
[Original Crush x Scorned] Fancy Meeting You Again 02
Duration: April 2014

Status: Ongoing

Leigh, Bastien, Kayla - Dolly at School

Nemo, Adrian, Mrs. Williams - Me

Comments: XD

***

The next day was a nice, slow transition for Nemo. Leigh had given him a few ad sketches and asked him to type them out, scan the sketches and e-mail them to the art department--among other relatively simple tasks while he adjusted to the work. Leigh was in and out of meetings for much of the day, and around 2:30 he had gone back into his office for a conference call, and asked that Nemo take messages for him, and ask anyone who came to his door to come back or leave a note. His desk was set up right outside the door, after all.

A half hour later, a boy of about fifteen or sixteen came walking down through the office with a little girl in tow. He was the spitting image of Leigh when Nemo had last seen him before their rather unexpected reunion. He was slight, a little tanned and had those same piercingly bright blue eyes. His hair was the same shade of brown, and shaggy--but cut shorter than Leigh had worn it at that age. It was trimmed short at the sides, and long up top, where it was left to do as it pleased in an impressive mess of waves. He had the same full lips and that nose that turned up just a bit. He would grow out of that soon enough, just like his brother had. He was taller than Leigh was at that age, but without a fifteen-year-old Leigh to stand beside him, that was hardly noticeable.

Beside him was a little girl who looked to be about eight. She had long, red hair that was pulled back into two perfectly straight pigtails with little pink bows. Her eyes were blue and she had a sweet dusting of freckles on his face. She ran off when she saw Hillary walking by, and hugged the girl before following her back to her desk, chattering excitedly about her day at school.

The boy stopped short in front of Nemo's desk and stared at him with a perplexed look on his face. He blinked and pulled his one earbud out of his ear. "Who are you?" he asked, wrinkling up his nose in confusion.

***

When there wasn't much for him to do, he busied himself by adding personal touches on his work desk. Soon, there was a trio of bonsai plants housed in a rectangular box of bamboo. It was cut in three sections and housed one potted plant each. The mini cherry brush was already in bloom right smack in the arrangement and was flanked by a dwarf juniper and mini oak on both sides. On the opposite side, there were two photo frames that depicted the blond's mother and sister, along with her husband and infant, right under the desk lamp and close to the office provided desk organizer that housed the pencils, pens and other office nick nacks. He had also set up a charging dock and cradle for his phone, letting it sit there on standby mode to remind him of the time.

Nemo had taken it upon himself to do some light reading on copywriting, then reading some books he picked up from the book store before coming home. He figured he could use the tips and reminders those had to offer since he was going to be there for awhile.The blond was then reading when the boy came up to his desk, one hand holding the paperback close to his face and the other hand wrapped around a warm mug of coffee. At the question, he peered from the top edge of his book, there's someone talking to you, before laying it on the desk with a book mark. He was so absorbed in what he was reading that he failed to notice that there was company.

The blond squinted. Didn't Leigh just enter his office and ask not to be disturbed? What was he doing now outside in the middle of his conference call? Nemo narrowed his eyes as if to properly assess what was unfolding before him. Hmm. Different clothes. Then again, his boss did make mention of having his own change of clothes while inside. The question baffled him. What kind of a question was 'Who are you?' Why wouldn't he know his own employ? His eyebrow rose up in confusion, wondering why was his employer asking him such an funny question.

He had no idea how to deal with the situation so the blond decided to resort to the obvious and answer the question.

"...I'm the new personal assistant, sir. It's Gregory Williams, " Nemo responded as a matter of factly. He turned to gaze at the brunet, not realizing this was a completely different brunet from the one that had hired him. There was a look of skepticism on his face as he mustered the will to keep his voice and demeanor professional. The blond didn't fancy being unemployed so soon.. "I was hired yesterday, if you don't recall. Today's my first day on the job. He continued, reminding the other of his status within the agency. "Is there anything you need to be done, Mr. Morgan?"

That could be the only explanation why the man had to step out of his office and speak to him directly right?

***

For a moment, Bastien just stared at Nemo--one brow lifted slightly and his nose wrinkled up on one side. He glanced around briefly, then looked back at him. "Wow, are you drunk on the job already?" he asked seriously. "I've had people say I look just like Leigh... but uh... I've never had someone mistake me for him. Since you know... I don't have facial hair and I'm not even finished growing yet."

He snorted and shook his head a little, patting the poor man's desk twice with his hand as he stepped past it. "Keep up the good work, Greg," he said 'encouragingly,' with a little laugh at the end. It was a little harsh perhaps--but he was fifteen, and that's what fifteen-year-olds did. They were sarcastic little assholes with little to no concern with the feeling of others. Nemo knew that all too well.

He paused then and looked back at his desk with a little grin. "Nice.. uh.. mini trees," he added, nodding his head toward them as he opened the door to his brother's office and stepped inside. The interruption earned him a nasty look from his older brother, but he ignored it and tossed his backpack onto the couch.

***

So today he learned that not only was he bad at keeping tab of people's names, he was also bad at telling people apart. Could he give himself a leeway and mention that the two were actually siblings hence the close semblance? Oh wait! Hadn't he been reading for awhile now? He wasn't wearing his reading glasses because he hadn't brought them in today and was having a bit of a head ache while he tried to make sense of the print.

No, Nemo digressed. It was not an excuse. There was none. While he admitted it was little more than an honest mistake, he felt embarrassed. Very embarrassed with himself. Right then and there, the man wished for an earthquake of the greatest intensity to simply crack upon the modern flooring right beneath him and swallow him whole. Something out of the reels of a fantasy B-movie kind of scene. The blond was just really bad at everything it seemed.

But really, Bastien had registered to be his older brother in his mind at first glance and only when did the teenager speak did it dawn upon the personal assistant that this was a completely different person than he had assumed. They had different voices. On the bright side, the blond could be assured that while his eyes, coordination and imprinting were probably haywired, his hearing was completely fine.

He didn't respond to any of the younger brunet's words. Nemo simply sat there, eyes widened in surprise and mouth slightly parted in horror at the honest mistake just now. Even after the boy had disappeared into Leigh's office, the blond stayed glued to his seat and looking rather pale.

Wait. Office. Conference call. No interruptions.

Nemo got up, pushing himself upwards with his palms planted on the desk. He wanted to walk in and check on Bastien then realized, he was the boss' younger brother so he supposed there would be no harm on the matter. His eyes fell upon the now empty mug of coffee. After that just now, he could use a drink since the earth would not have him both body and soul. He'd dragged himself to the water dispenser and helped himself to another mug of his favorite dark and strong black coffee. Paired with his packed box of home made cream filled sponge cake bars, Nemo indulged himself on 'comfort food and drink' to get through that rather awkward moment just now.

***

Hillary watched him with a soft laugh. The little red-head was sitting on her lap at her desk. "Ien is an angsty teenage boy," she assured poor Nemo. "And he's tough to handle even for me sometimes... And I've known him since he was twelve." She played with the little girl's pigtail. "You'll get used to him and eventually he'll warm up to you, I'm sure."

Leigh's door opened after a moment and the man had his brother by the back of his shirt. He had dragged him to the door, and he pushed him through the doorway. "Out," he said. "This door is closed, doesn't that mean anything to you? Find something to do for ten minutes, I'm on an important call."

The teenager stumbled forward when he was pushed, then spun around grinned a little at his brother. "Yeah, and you forgot to put them on hold before you hung up," he said.

"s**t," was Leigh's immediate response. He slammed his office door and hurried back to his desk, leaving Bastien standing there in front of the closed door, laughing.

The boy spun around and wandered over to Nemo's desk, leaning against it to peer at the weird small trees.

***
He gave her a little smile in return. It wasn't much but a barely their upturn curve of the edges of his lips but a smile nonetheless. A gesture to let Hillary know that her words are acknowledged and heard. But that wasn't teenager angst and being difficult in action! Nemo wanted to argue with her. He wanted to tell her that she was wrong and that no amount of understanding would get you anywhere when that kind of demon rearing it's ugly head about. It was anything but that. Rather, it was teenage spite and bullshit looking at you in the face with a sneer and condescending cackle. Of course the blond knew. He had that look, that gait and air of pomp for years before he finally got himself better company while taking BS Biology. Knowing well and good that openly discussing such thoughts was not the most tact of actions, he put the mug to his lips and drank for his dear life to prevent the words from coming out from his mouth.

Nemo frowned behind his mug, discomfited by the fact that while he watched the banter between the brothers, he could not for the life of him tell them apart. The blond made a mental note to become extra observant from now on and try to figure who was Leigh and who was Bastien even without any of them opening their mouths. The younger brunet's awkward introduction into his office life was more than enough. There was no need to have history repeat itself now. He breathed out deeply before flitting his gaze on the younger brunet who was now taking an interest on his bonsai plants.

What now?

He cocked an eyebrow at Bastien and settled his mug on the soon to be resident desk coaster. Nemo propped an elbow on his desk and leaned his face against it, his eyes never leaving the boy and his gaze on the plants in row. Considering his first impression and his co-worker's warnings, the blond seemed to switch into a defensive stance, feeling himself wary around the teenager. "I'm not sure what you're trying to do but I don't think my plants are that interesting."

***

Bastien was shorter than his grown brother, and much younger looking. Though at a glance they looked the same, it would be easy to tell when he was used to seeing them.

The boy lifted a brow and looked up at Nemo. "Are they real?" he asked. Okay, maybe there was some genuine interest there. He pushed himself up off the desk and tilted his head to stare at the plants, almost looking concerned over how tiny they were. "Why are they so small?"

He hoisted himself up onto Nemo's desk and swung his legs lazily. He was looking for attention, it seemed. It couldn't be helped--a child with no parents, and only an older brother to take care of him. He took attention where he could get it, and right now Nemo was his main target. Someone new. Someone he could be curious about for a little while. His sister was plenty happy with the people she already knew, but she was babied and spoiled by them, so it was no wonder.

"Are they supposed to be like that?"

***

"Yes," he responded curtly. "They're supposed to be really that small. They're specially grown miniatures of the plants you know them for."

Seeing that there was some interest in the plants, Nemo decided to oblige the boy and answered his queries, then some. He pulled the trio towards the center and carefully removed each pot out of the mini bamboo planters. The mini cherry brush was his favorite so he decided to leave that one out and returned the two tiny evergreens back before putting it back. He figured it would be best to give the younger brunet a look of things so he could better understand it.

"They're also real." He pushed the pot towards Bastien and gestured for him to try and touch the leaves and spidery white petals of the blooming flowers. "Go ahead and touch. Don't tug or pluck anything out. While they're evergreen and grown all year long, I don't appreciate my plants being manhandled to any degree."

Bonsai was not exactly his hobby. That was his mother's. When they moved into Adrian's apartment after the model took pity on them and reeled them in months after divorce when he found out his best friend and mother had been homeless for a time, she repaid his kindness by filling his spartan existence with indoor aquariums and gardening to add more cheer to the dreadfully gloomy pad. The blond was forced to take three of his mother's treasured babies' babies, meaning these plants were actually the offspring of an older generation of plants in the apartment, as a congratulatory gift at being accepted into the job.

"They make good conversational starters too!"

Indeed, the old dame was right. "They're small because they're literally hacked off from the regular sized plants and trees then made to grow in pots, as a miniature. They also need soil, sometimes moss in certain plants' cases, of course water and are also subject to the same perils like their bigger counterparts. Bugs... Diseases. Those kinds."

***

Bastien reached out to touch the plant. He ran his finger along it and his brows lifted, as if he were suddenly impressed. "That's kinda cool," he said. He turned a bit on the desk and looked Nemo over, as if he were deciding something. "How old are you?" he asked, taking a pencil off of his desk to spin it in his hand.

He was like a child who'd just found a new toy. Poor Nemo. Even the people around the office were giving him sympathetic glances when they saw Bastien sitting up on his desk like that.

"Are you, like... my brother's secretary or something? I thought Hillary was his secretary." He looked at the girl, then leaned in close to whisper to the man. "Do you think he's banging her?" he whispered.

it was all a test. He was testing poor, unsuspecting Nemo to see if he could trust him. His every reaction and answer would be scrutinized and cataloged until Bastien was satisfied that he'd gotten what he needed.

***

He could hear his mother's scolding words in his head while he guarded Bastien and the cherry brush plant like a hawk.

"My grandbabies left their mommy in great condition. I expect you keep them that way OR ELSE."

The blond raised a hand to his chest, letting relief wash over him when the teenager did as instructed and didn't do anything out of the ordinary. He felt like he averted the impending apocalypse seeing that the plant was still in one piece with not a petal, fruit and leaf out of place. Well, maybe the placement of things may have shifted and the plant looked something near disgruntled but Nemo could leave with that. He returned the plant back in it's middle spot, ruffling the plant a bit to some sense of order before he had allowed Bastien to fiddle with it.

"Twenty five," the man responded while attending to the plant some more after having put it back on it's bamboo planter. It looked better now. Now onto more pressing matters... What the ********? Nemo glared at him for even having the balls to ask that kind of question. The personal assistant gave him a dirty look, not bothering to hide the shock and disgust in his eyes. How was he supposed to know that? It's not like he was some kind of sex psychic who could tell who shagged who or were shagging just by looking at them. And yet the blond found himself, glancing briefly over at Hillary and the boss man's little sister. He shuddered then snapped towards Bastien to finally answer him. Shut him up maybe.

"Yes, I'm your older brother's secretary. As I've informed you earlier, I just started today. And no, I have no knowledge of confidence regarding your brother's 'activities'" Discretion. He wouldn't be dead caught being so casual around a brat like this, especially not in the work place. "That would be unbecoming of me. Quite frankly? I don't give a damn either."

***

"I don't even know what half of those words mean," Bastien said, hopping off of Nemo's desk with a sigh. Well, that was that apparently. The look Bastien gave the man made it clear that he had failed the test. He sighed and walked away from the poor guy's desk, making his way out of the office. Hillary watched him for a moment and frowned.

"Bastien, don't you dare leave," she called after him.

"I gotta piss, jeez," the boy called back, rolling his eyes. Hillary wouldn't be able to see from her desk that he walked right past the bathrooms, and out the front door to the elevators--but Nemo sure as hell could.

Just then, Leigh's door opened and he sighed a little. He smiled over at his sister and opened his arms when she hopped off of Hillary's lap and hurried over to him to hug him. "I got an A on my spelling," she told him, pulling back and opening up her backpack as she stepped into his office.

"That's wonderful, La," he said to the little girl. He looked around for Bastien, but didn't seem too concerned that the boy was out of sight. He'd left his backpack on his couch, after all. So he wouldn't go far. "Nemo, do you mind getting a yogurt from the refrigerator for her?" was his only request before he followed his sister into his office, leaving the door open.

***

He felt confused. What the hell just happened? Nemo wasn't the very least aware that the young boy was up to something and felt so left in the dark at Bastien's reaction. Just like that? The younger brunet had shrugged his shoulders in a dismissive manner then vacated the secretary's desk then shuffled his feet to leave. He turned towards Hillary call the boy back. Oh, the brat had a name, he mused. The blond followed him with his eyes and brooded over it. 'Don't you dare leave', she said. But that was exactly what he was doing! Suddenly Nemo felt alarmed. He was making an obvious bypass of the bathrooms and was now working his way out of Holland Mark. It was then that his eyes widened and a completely different emotion took over.

Rude little s**t!

Now, the blond felt angry. He couldn't put a finger on his ire right at the moment but he was sure as hell it was that Bastien's fault. The blond hissed, getting up on his feet not-to-gently and slamming his palms with an audible clap on the desk, The hell with that kid..., but got his attention called on by Leigh for a cup of yogurt for the little person. He raised a finger and said, "One moment, sir. The other Mr. Morgan is just about to leave the premises. Yes, I'll go fetch the yogurt."

With that, Nemo took off on his heel, leaving proverbial dust at his wake and sped through the office, weaving in and out of his premises muttering apologies and right of way from his co-workers. He dashed out of the entrance way and was just in time to catch the boy standing in front of the elevators, waiting for his ride. he marched towards Bastien with long strides, purposely clicking the heels of his loafers against the floor and pulled him back before the younger brunet could step in the elevator.

"The ******** you pulled that s**t for just now?!," he hissed angrily at the teenager. "The lady told you not to leave."

The blond was a strange one in terms of his choice of words. One moment, he was all formal and eloquent, then next foul mouthed, raw and brash about his manner. Sometimes both all in one go. But seeing he was out of the public eye and not quite pleased, Nemo sought his words of the rougher edge to emphasize his point.

Not waiting for a verbal response, Nemo rolled his eyes and pulled the teenager by the arm, grasping it in a vice grip and practically dragged him back inside. He made a note to pass by the pantry and grab a cup of yogurt once he was there.

***

Leigh lifted a brow. Sir? The other Mr. Morgan? He watched Nemo go, looking a little baffled. What the ******** was he talking about? He shook his head a little and stepped back into his office, sitting on the couch with his sister.

Bastien was just about to get onto the elevator when he was grabbed. "Hey!" the boy yelled, yanking at his arm to try to wiggle free. "You can't ******** do that! You can't just grab me like that!" He was making a huge scene, and he was doing it on purpose. He finally got his arm free as Nemo was reaching for the yogurt, and he shoved the man back. "The ********! I don't even know you, you can't grab me like that! You a ******** pervert or something??"

He rubbed his arm and stepped back, glaring daggers into Nemo's skull. Oh yes, he was Leigh's little brother alright. The same sweet demeanor that he'd had as a teen. "Don't ever touch me again," he said quickly. "I'm ******** serious."

"What the hell is going on?" Leigh's voice hissed as he stepped up behind Bastien. He grabbed the boy's shirt and yanked him back a step. "Shut up--are you insane? You want to get me fired??" He was whispering, but he didn't sound any less threatening. "Get back into my office. Now."

***

he thought of simply slamming his fist into the boy's gut and throw him over his shoulder presented itself to be a most inviting idea with how Bastien was acting up. He was clearly continuing to be difficult even up to now. After being shoved, Nemo flared up, gritting his teeth in obvious irritation, and stared the other down, taking advantage that he was much taller than the flailing teenager. He was not only taller but had a much more impressive built and if the other so wished it, the blond would be more than happy to oblige him to talk it over with their fists. It was at that moment that it became clear to him that the brat had taken sport in him and he was toying with the elder and that only pressed him further into anger more than ever.

"Then perhaps you shouldn't be [******** around in the first place and not make trouble then" The man responded in a cool but sharpened edge of a voice, trying his best not to curse anymore than he already did. He smiled cruelly then added more to this statement, "..brat." Knowing well and good, it would rile him further, he deliberately uttered the word with a dramatic intonation. It was hard to miss he was trying to ******** with Bastien in turn. He continued to keep his eyes on the boy, watching him carefully for a reaction.

The blond leaned his hip against the counter, steadying himself with one palm on it while the other one handed juggled the cup of yogurt in the air with a smirk, "You think you're cute when you make a fool out of your elders, don't you," he accused thinking of Hillary and quite possibly everyone else the teenager had probably riled up in the past. "Not on my watch." He grabbed the cup of yogurt in mid air, grabbed a spoon and walked past him, purposely bumping into him with his weight to intimidate the younger boy as he left him there.

Yogurt was best served cold after all. He had a delivery to make.

***

Bastien narrowed his eyes and simply glared at Nemo. "Why don't you mind your own ******** business, douchebag?" he snapped at him. "You think I'm afraid of you? I could have you on the floor in a second!"

He gasped when Nemo bumped into him, stumbling back a single step and turning to watch him go with a furiously hateful expression on his face. "******** you," he said again, turning right back around and storming with even more enthusiasm out the doors of the office. It was going to be his ******** mission to get this a*****e fired. He was sure it wouldn't take long, either. He slammed onto the button for the elevator and crossed his arms.

Leigh was sitting in his office with his little sister in his lap. She was showing him every single thing she did in school that day. He did his best to look interested, though she kept going off on tangents as she spoke.

***

Judging from the sound of angry footfall, the boy was probably making an angry beeline towards the entrance way again and on his way to---Nemo really didn't care where he went anymore. This time, he made no effort to get him back. Instead, the blond smirked in satisfaction, knowing he managed to make an impression, albeit a terrible one on Bastien. No point, he thought while making his way in a more languid, relaxed pace. He took time to pause and apologize for his behavior and that of the teenager, somewhat glad that he received sympathetic looks in response. He assumed responsibility, stating he was the adult and was at fault. If dragging him back did no measure to remind the boy that he wasn't top dog around here, then nothing would. The man smiled grimly though politely at the knowing looks he received. Was Bastien just THAT legendary? God. He dare not even try to imagine how things were in a domestic set up with that kind of temperament.

Nemo briefly wondered if things would've turned out differently had he treated the younger brunet in kindness. He shrugged it off, dismissing the idea and exhaled sharply.

He found himself in front of Leigh's office, having run at partly on auto pilot and was surprised to have already reached his destination so soon. Nemo massaged the sides of his head and quietly counted to three to catch his breath and calm down, before knocking on his boss' door. The blond crossed the threshold when Leigh gave him clearance to come in.

"Delivery for the little miss?," Nemo said to announce his presence.

***

The little redhead, Kayla, looked up and offered the man a big smile. She stood up, and hurried over, holding out her hands for the yogurt and spoon. "Thank you," she said. Well, at least she was sweet. She didn't look much like her brothers, aside from her eyes. And she certainly didn't have their temperament.

When she was given the treat, she went back to the couch to take a seat, opening it up happily.

Leigh smiled a little and stood up. "I want you to do your spelling and your math homework. You should be able to get them both done before I get out of work. And do your bonus words, too. You might as well get them done today."

The little girl nodded a little to show that she was listening, but she was too busy eating her yogurt to actually offer any sort of verbal response.

Leigh exhaled through his nose and shook his head with amusement. "Sorry if Ien was bothering you out there," he said with a sigh. "He's going through his angsty teenager phase. Did he run off again?" He didn't seem terribly worried, which meant it wasn't an uncommon event.

***

Nemo smiled back. Her smile was infectious. He dropped to a knee so they were of the same line of sight, handing her the spoon and snack. When his hands were free, the blond patted Kayla warmly on the head, careful not to ruin her ponytails. For a moment, he was reminded of his own little sister when she was around the little redhead's age. "You're welcome, little miss. My name is Nemo. I work for your big brother here in the office. If there's anything you need, I'll be happy to help you in any way."

He watched her move back to her perch on Leigh's couch and moved towards the door to leave, feeling a lot like an intruder on a private moment when his boss addressed his younger sister. Didn't seem right to be here... The delivery was done right? He only paused, hand on the door knob when the brunet now spoke to him. Nemo muttered an apology and then turned on his heel, facing the older brunet. He learned that Bastien had a nickname. It was Ien. Another thing the blond learned was that Leigh didn't seem too worried about the boy's departure.

"Unfortunately, yes," he started with a shrug, folding his arms across his chest and sighing, "Bastien wasn't initially a bother. It only occurred to me he was up to mischief when he asked me something of a crude nature then walked out even at Hillary's behest otherwise." Nemo recollected the events that has transpired through words, sighing when he got to the part of the chase, "So I took off after him. Admittedly, I wasn't very kind in my treatment and probably upset Bastien. My bad. I let my temper run away from me somewhere along the line."

...Wait. The way he said it 'Did he run off again?' rubbed off on Nemo for some reason and refused to take it's hold on his mind. There was something about it that spoke volumes somehow. The blond lifted his gaze to meet with Leigh's and spared him a quizzical look, "You mean this is normal?" The lack of conviction and surprise for a chance that it actually was normal was so there.

***

Leigh actually laughed a little when he was told about the 'crude' question. "He likes to try to shock people," he said, moving to sit back down at his desk. "I think he uses it as a way to gauge people's reactions. Don't be offended by it."

He leaned back and nodded his head. "Yeah. He didn't go far. He's probably down on the sidewalk letting off steam. He never goes far. I'm sorry, I probably should have warned you first. He's exactly like I was when I was his age, except that he has someone to come to when he needs it."

He opened his bottom drawer and pulled out a snickers bar. "It might be too much to ask," he said, looking at Nemo. "Do you mind going downstairs and trying to bribe him back inside?" He held the candy bar out to the man. "He's kind of a chocolate addict." This was, after all, the sort of thing Nemo would have to deal with...often as his personal assistant. He needed the man to have a good relationship with the kids so they could feel comfortable with him.

***

"How very charming," Nemo commented dryly while he tried to put one and one together about the younger brunet in his mind. So the boy was testing him, contrary to his initial assumption of being played for a fool. Damn it, he thought. This wasn't entirely Bastien's fault, the blond was to blame for having jumped the gun and simply saw red. While the better part of him knew that an apology had to be put to action, much of him recoiled at the thought.

As of that point in time, the blond wasn't very fond of him. Saying that the young brunet was probably on his 'Least Favorite People' List was very likely. The idea of apologizing to the teenager... Worse came the fact that Leigh was asking him to bring him back inside. The brunet was even giving him a bribe. Would Bastien really be so easy to retrieve if you brought a peace offering? Was that supposed to make it easier for him? He scoffed, finding it hard to believe and gave his boss a funny look.

Fate seemed had a funny way of putting him into situations that were never to his liking. Especially with how his inner voice of reason argued that while Nemo may not be fond of him now, the blond had no choice but to try and teach himself to be since they were his boss' family and this wouldn't be the last time both Bastien and Kayla would waltz into his life. He grumbled inwardly at his conscience, knowing that sometimes doing the right thing was never the most fun thing to do. Nemo nodded weakly, grabbing the snickers bar and headed out.

One of the best ways to break the ice was to find a common element.

At least him and the brat both liked chocolate if that was the case.

So what did Bastien like: dark, milk or white chocolate? Nemo was more of a dark chocolate fan with an unfortunate fondness for Lindt and Godiva. What could he say, he was an expensive boy---at least before, nowadays he was not as picky or alkali conscious as he used to be, simply indulging himself in chocolate that tickled him the right away.

Now the question was: how 'near is near' for Bastien to loiter around while he sulked at being manhandled by a complete stranger.

***

Leigh was right about his brother, at least. He hadn't gone very far at all. The boy was sitting on a bench outside the building. Well, he had his feet on the bench and he was sitting on the back of it. He had the hood of his sweatshirt up, and had a cigarette between his fingers. He brought it up to his mouth, then released the smoke with a sigh.

From the smell, it was rather suddenly obvious that that wasn't a cigarette. It was a joint, and he was smoking it right out in the open like that, like it was nothing. He sighed and lowered his head a little, leaning his arms against his thighs as he leaned his whole body forward. He heard the door to the building swing open, but he didn't bother to look. He could only assume it was his brother coming to scream at him for causing a scene and generally being a d**k to his new desk b***h.

Ien was... difficult at best, but he wasn't always like that. He could actually be a sweet kid when he wanted to--yet another way he was just like his older brother. He licked his lips and brought the joint back up to his mouth.

***

The day was coming to an end and more people were flooding into the streets already. Humming thoughtfully, the blond walked up to the security guard and engaged him in a conversation with regards the missing teenager. While the man that Nemo was speaking to did not personally see Bastien leave the premises, he seemed like he was familiar with the situation. New guy for the shift. The guard chuckled heartily, also just as used as as the employ of Holland Mark with regards Bastien's antics. He pointed out the personal assistant that this was quite normal and indeed the teen was likely to be somewhere within the vicinity.

While he knew the man in the uniform was simply trying to make light of the situation and ease the tension, Nemo didn't appreciate having it pointed out to him that he was ignorant of the situation. He grunted in annoyance, kneading his forehead while the guard scanned through the log book for any noted exits. Just in case that maybe, just maybe Bastien had chosen to simply stay within the building and lurked somewhere unknown than go out in the open. Now that it was confirmed, he moved onto asking what were the boy's usual haunts if he knew any. For that, the guard lead Nemo outside and began pointing at several directions enumerating the possible spots in turn. After given the valuable information he needed, the blond gave his thanks and recalled the very first that had been given to him.

"Look out into the open and seek the obvious."

Once out in the street, Nemo scanned the streets and looked for anything that looked suspiciously like the younger brunet and found himself squinting at a hooded figure seated in one of the benches outside the building. He could make out the gesture of---

His eyes narrowed sharply. What the hell. If that was indeed Bastien then damn, damn, damn... Fifteen and already smoking. Never mind he was a teenager, he'd seen much younger brats breath smoke like dragons and smoke like no tomorrow. The blond was more alarmed by the fact EVEN the boy smoked. Just like Leigh. The entire family was a goddamn chimney fest. Wonderful, he s thought with a wry grin as he decided to move in to his suspect. He suspected that it wasn't the stress and lack of sleep that were the true life hazards of his new job. IT WOULD BE SECOND HAND SMOKE.

********.

Nemo approached the hooded figured seated on the beach with caution. Angry teenagers were not to be underestimated. He circled around the figure, preferring to stand at a distance, safe from the smoke but still within earshot. From where the blond stood, he could figure the teenager's profile though it was heavily obscured by the hoodie drawn low on his face.

"Bastien, I come in peace," he started. This was not going to be easy, he muttered under his breath, arms folded up across his chest defensively. "I wasn't thinking with my head just know and know you're upset. I apologize. Peace?"

To further his claim, he slid his hand into the pocket of his slacks and clutched the snickers bar Leigh had supplied. He took it out and extended it to Bastien's reach, "Oh yes... I heard you liked chocolate. Your brother told me. I was wondering if you've checked the new cafe uptown that serves chocolate in practically everything. They serve really good cake squares of varying tempera---I mean, kinds: dark, milk... white and the works. They deliver, if you're up for it, I could call up to make it up to you. What do you say?"

Would it really work to bribe the boy with chocolate? This was the first time he'd ever had to resort to something this...sly. His sister was never this difficult.

***

"******** off," Ien mumbled. He licked is lips and looked over at Nemo. "Did he tell you to give me that?" he asked, sounding unimpressed. He sighed and shook his head as he took another drag from his joint. Well... he had definitely calmed down--probably thanks to the pot. He was still mad, but he was calm and almost relaxed looking. He sighed and blew the last of the smoke up into the air, putting the joint out on his shoe and tossing it onto the ground.

He moved over a little onto the bench, then, in a surprising gesture, to invite Nemo to sit with him. He pressed his palms onto the top wooden rung of the bench and gripped it firmly as he stretched his legs out. "You wanna joint? I have a couple more." He looked at Nemo. The question was a totally serious one--and it was obvious by the look on his face.

He held his hand out for the candy bar. Apparently, he did want it after all. "So. Are you always such a d**k to people you've never met before?"

***

Now even the younger brother told him to ******** off. Then scooted over to give him space to sit down with him on the bench. Somehow, this brought a sense of deja vu when Leigh had told him '******** you' then shook his hand in the end of their interview yesterday. It was probably the most unconventional job interview Nemo had ever found himself part of. And now... The offer of joint was not lost on him either. One moment calm and collected then difficult and angry the next. Just like that. Off the bat. They were indeed the fruit of the same vine, it seems. He hoped that the little one wasn't of the same temperament... At least he was certain the girl wasn't a walking, talking chimney.

Yet.

The blond shook his head, raising a hand in negation, "Thanks but no thanks. Not my thing. You can have it." Nemo didn't seem affected by the fact he was smoking joint than regular cigarette. He did take the offer to sit with him on the bench and leaned back, passing the snickers to Bastien's waiting hand. Well this was progress.

"No. Not at all. I normally lose my temper when provoked mostly," he responded to the question. A d**k... Nemo knew he wasn't the nicest person when provoked so he couldn't blame Bastien for tagging him that way. "...Otherwise, I prefer to keep to myself and stay away from other people's paths." He looked out into the distance, humming then realized he forgot something, "Oh, I forgot to mention, I'm horrible when caffeine deprived," the blond added in after thought. "I snap at everything and become very restless."

Nemo turned to him then asked, "Why?"

***

"You're not gonna tell my brother?" Bastien asked, referring to the pot.

He opened up the snickers bar and took a large, graceless bite. Somehow, instead of being disgusting it was...charming. He sighed through his nose as he chewed on the candy bar, staring out at the cars as they drove across the street. "I got suspended today," he confessed after a moment of quiet. He licked some chocolate from the corner of his mouth and sighed. "Leigh's gonna kill me."

The air around them suddenly got much heavier as Ien's attitude went from brat, to worried kid in zero seconds. He stared down at the chocolate in his hand, and pulled the wrapper closed around it. Maybe he wasn't as hungry as he thought. He looked at Nemo, and the look on his face could only be described as a child afraid of disappointing their parent.

"I would have just not told him, but the principle wants to meet with him now. Do you think he'll kill me?"

***

He shook his head, "No. Personally, I don't consent to the idea but you're not my brother and you're not my charge so it isn't my business what you do. If anyone should inform Leigh of this, it should be you, not me for more reasons than one." He leaned against the wooden bench and stared out into the distance, idly observing anything and everything around them from the cars to the streetlamps and herds of pedestrians passing through during the red light, "The right thing to do would be for me to tell him though. But I doubt you'd want that. If I did that, it would be a violation of your trust in me, which I'm trying to win over. Game over for me if I did that. So, I'll simply have it that nothing happened. I don't remember anything, you didn't do anything either. Though, someday I would like to know why you're smoking marijuana. Beyond the reason of 'it's fun' that is."

It was always safe to assume something was amiss whenever one ended up dabbling in substance abuse of some sort. There was always some ******** up reason behind the need and normally, it was never pretty. But often, one ended up finding a trail that lead to the very simple fact there was a lack of something.

Now what did Bastien lack in that he wanted and sought from drugs?

'Leigh's gonna kill me.'

Nemo gave the boy a sideways glance and continued to listen while he confessed about his current situation in school. Looked like the boss man's little brother had gotten himself into quite a pinch that the principal couldn't wait to meet Leigh. Bastien sure knew how to live life on the edge but looked like he couldn't step up to the challenges and responsibility of living dangerously.

"He would probably threaten to do so but the most I can imagine you'll experience would be some kind of punishment you'll never forget," The blond chose that moment to cast the boy a knowing smirk and continued, "Whatever your brother chooses to put you through---don't fret just yet, you'll probably come out of it alive. As they say, what won't kill you will make you stronger. You can always brag that you survived his wrath."

As it was, the man's humor was dry and witless. The joy.

Not caring if the younger brunet had caught on with his attempt at a joke, he laughed at himself and his little joke anyway. Nemo threw his head back and craned his neck heavenward, letting the wooden rungs of the bench support his neck and spoke, "I have a little sister too actually. I was the first to find out that Terra was dating an older man. To complicate things, she was pregnant as well. My little sister was only sixteen and already pregnant. You can imagine I was not very happy with the revelation. Nonetheless, I accepted her, my unborn niece and the father of her child. When mother found out, she was very angry.But like me, she also gave her blessings for the couple and supported my sister during her first pregnancy. We accepted her and her choices, after much discussion, because we trusted her and her chosen partner. We accepted her because that's what family is about. Nobody is forgotten or left behind." He could see from where he was that the sun was already setting and the sky was colored in his favorite colors of bright orange, red and yellow with the tint of purple in the horizon. Beautiful.

He wasn't sure why he was telling Bastien this. Maybe because when Terra had confessed her pregnancy, she said the exact same thing.

"Mom's gonna kill me."


"When your family gets mad at you over something that goes wrong, they're not mad at you per se. They don't also love you less. They're mad at what you did and at themselves because they weren't able to prevent you from harming yourself. It's pretty ******** up but that's what I've learned," he explained, raising his arms and laced them behind his neck to pillow his head as he crossed a leg over his thigh, "I've been there. I don't know why I was angry too at first but I realized it was because I was powerless to do intervene and do something. But life goes on, Bastien. I had to let go and simply embrace the present. I know it's frightening for you but think of it this way: It's just a suspension. You will live from that experience. You will have a chance to make up for it and move forward. I'm confident you will. So will your older brother. You're going to have to let him know though. The sooner the better. It won't be to your liking if he found out anywhere else because that will ruin the trust he has for you more than ever. If you need a meat shield from your brother's wrath while you confess your sins, my schedule is open for appointments."

***

"It relaxes me," came the easy answer, with a little shrug. The unspoken part of that answer said volumes--It relaxes me because I'm stressed out. He slid down from the back of the bench, plopping onto his butt beside Nemo with a grunt. Okay, that actually kind of hurt--and the face he made when he landed proved it. He swore a little and leaned forward, rubbing his tailbone for a moment.

"I appreciate the Lilo and Stitch reference and all," Bastien said, giving the other a look that said: 'please, I have a little sister.' "And I'm sure that bullshit works in your happy, normal little family... but things don't work out that way for us." Not that he was saying that Leigh would hate him, but he was sure as hell going to be pissed. He slouched a little and huffed in frustration. "I shouldn't have been suspended anyway. It wasn't even my fault to begin with."

He stopped, then, and looked up at Nemo, lifting one brow. "I don't know why I'm telling you all this. I don't even know you."

He stood up and pushed his hood back, stretching his arms up over his head. "You may be the new guy and all," he said, turning to face Nemo. "But you're gonna fall right in line with the rest of them. I give it a week, and you'll write me off like everyone else inside as a troubled kid. A brat," he said--repeating what Nemo had called him earlier. "They all fawn over Kayla cause she's cute and has her red hair and she's all polite and normal, but no one gives a s**t about me. No one but Leigh, and he's too busy working all the time to spend any time with me."





 
 
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