Day 11—Doing Nothing
Nikolas had nothing to do. He had gotten up early and done all of his homework. Then he made himself and his cat breakfast. As he ate his breakfast, one of his sisters woke up, so he made her breakfast as well. Actually, that’s inaccurate. He’d made too many omelets and given Lykke his cat chow before he’d realized that he’d made too many, so when Jessie came down, he told her to grab a plate and an omelet and eat before she starved herself to death and he was blamed for it.
Jessie had rolled her eyes at him, saying, “If I’m skinny, you’re anorexic. Don’t you weigh less than me?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out,” Nikolas stated primly.
“Come on!” Jessie prodded. “It matters for girls, but it doesn’t matter for guys.”
“That’s what you think,” Nikolas told her. “The most you know about boys is what you’ve learned from health.”
“Then tell me more about boys,” Jessie demanded.
Before Jessie could press any further, Marissa had come down with a severe case of bedhead and asked, “Where’re Mom and Dad?”
“Mom’s at this early morning photography session. Dad’s still asleep,” he said offhandedly. “Grab an omelet.”
“Ooh, yum.” Marissa sleepily rubbed her head and reached for an omelet.
“Ouch!” she exclaimed when her finger touched the still hot egg.
Jessie snickered. “That’s why you get a plate and use the fork, stupid.”
“Gee,” Marissa said sarcastically. “I wish you’d told me sooner.”
“If it hurts, suck on it, or run it under cold water,” Nikolas told her. Marissa waved her hand experimentally a few times and pressed it to the table top.
“It’s not too bad,” she commented. She got a plate and a fork and lifted an omelet off of the stack. “So I hear that ARMOUR is at your school to finish high school,” she started conversationally.
“What? No way!” Jessie squealed. “I love that band! Have you met them? Can you get me their autographs?”
“Who’s Armor?” Nikolas asked confusedly. “I know that there’s, like, this internationally famous band at our school, but no Armor.”
“No, ARMOUR. A-R-M-O-U-R. The internationally famous band,” Jessie corrected.
“Oh. You mean the one with Leonard Astor?”
“Ye-ah,” Jessie exaggerated. “Have you been living underneath a rock for the past two years?”
“Only if you have.”
“Ignore her,” Marissa told him. “She just likes freaking out over hot guys that are so not looking at her.”
“A girl can hope, can’t she?” Jessie asked dreamily.
“Well, yeah, I know Leonard Astor and his friends, but so what? I’ve got a couple of classes with him.”
Jessie squealed. “It’s official! You have to get his autograph for me!”
“Or…I could just…take you?” Nikolas asked with raised eyebrows.
“Really?” his little sister asked excitedly. “Because that would be the best-est early-Christmas present ever!”
“I never thought of it that way,” Nikolas mused, taking his empty plate to the sink.
“Don’t mind me,” Marissa said sarcastically. “I’ll just sleep. At home. All day. Actually,” she decided, “that’s not a bad idea.”
“Okay, then. Let me get changed and I’ll get him to text me his address and we can leave,” Nikolas told Jessie.
“YOU HAVE HIS PHONE NUMBER?” Jessie screamed.
“For business and school-related things only,” Nikolas emphasized. Jessie pouted.
Leonard was still sleeping when his phone buzzed. Irritated, he swatted at it and it fell off his bedside table. And kept buzzing.
He tried to ignore it, but the buzzing grew more and more insistent. He finally gave in and, with fumbling fingers, picked his cell phone off the ground and looked at the time. Instead of seeing the time, he got a cheerful white box stating “(1) unread message: Nikolas”. Now semi-conscious and curious, he tapped in and opened his mail.
>>My sis wants to meet you. She’s a huge fan.
Not really caring, but wanting to talk to Nikolas all the same, he texted back.
>>Y? How old is she?
He rubbed at his eyes and buried deep into his covers. It was only ten in the morning, dammit. His phone buzzed again.
>>12. Be ashamed.
>>Nope. Wrong number.
>>psh. Fine. I’ll meet her. + sign wtv she gives me. No body parts, tho.
>>Got it. Address?
>>Or I come 2 u.
>> Do that. I don’t wanna drive.
Leonard wrote down the address that Nikolas gave him. It looked surprisingly similar to the school’s address. Sighing, he got out of bed. He absentmindedly scratched his chest and looked at his open closet door. He could just go as is, he surmised. But Nikolas would probably hit him for “indecent exposure”.
He threw on a pair of jeans and his favorite (not to mention signature) leather jacket and walked out of his room. Henna was sitting at the kitchen counter, eating cereal while reading a book on Buddhist Metaphysics.
“Good book?” he asked her.
“Burnett made omelets,” was her reply.
He grabbed a piece of toast and slid an omelet onto its square body as he turned to leave, Henna spoke again.
“Be sure to pick up organic cat food while you’re out,” she ordered.
“Yeah, yeah. Have you even named the cat yet?” he asked.
“I’m calling it Moonshine.”
“What’s that about Moonshines?” Theo yawned, walking in shirtless.
“Put a shirt on, you’ll catch a cold,” Henna told him.
“Where’s Burnett?” he asked, completely disregarding her order.
“I don’t know. He made omelets.”
“Cool. So what about Moonshines?”
“Henna is naming our new kitty cat ‘Moonshine’,” Leonard explained.
Theo looked at Henna, who was still spooning cereal into her mouth and reading her book. “You mean like the drink?”
“There’s a drink called Moonshine?”
“Losers.” Leonard rolled his eyes and left them eating breakfast, shoving his own half-sandwich in his mouth as he grabbed his keys. “I’m going to Nikki’s house.”
“Whatever,” two voices chorused.
“Hey Jessie?” Nikki called.
“Leonard’s coming over to our house.”
Introduce freak out of little sister while other sister calmly texts her friend a reply to their conversation. Also include older brother trying to keep little sister from fainting, wearing too much make-up, wearing too little or too tight clothing, and freaking out.
When Leonard pulled up in front of Nikolas’ home, he stopped to admire how quiet and unassuming it seemed. Then, he walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell, admiring the lack of spider webs hanging around the unreachable corners of a normal doorway.
“What are you staring at?”
Leonard jumped, not having realized that Nikolas was standing with the door open and was now smiling amusedly at him.
“Your lack of spiders,” he said dumbly. “And…you’re not wearing your headband.”
“If you haven’t noticed, I’m freezing.”
Leonard then noticed that Nikolas was standing in the morning air wearing only a too-big Death Cab for Cutie t-shirt and a pair of running shorts. Then he noticed long legs and a curious, albeit slightly freaked out face hiding behind Nikolas.
“You must be the little sister,” he said, toning down his signature smile just a tad so that he didn’t frighten the poor girl away. She squeaked and ran away. Nikolas sighed.
“Twelve-year-olds.” He let Leonard in and shut the door behind him. “Take off your shoes. You’re going to be here for a while.”
“And what are you going to do while I’m being assaulted by a twelve-year-old?”
Nikolas smiled wryly. “One, I’m going to put on some real pants because I’m cold. Oh, don’t think I didn’t notice,” he half-snapped when Leonard opened his mouth to protest. “Then, I’m going to paint or something because I don’t feel like doing homework.”
“Can I join you?”
“No. You’re going to talk to my sister Jessie and prove just how much of an ass you are.”
Nikolas led him to the couch, where his other sister Marissa was sitting, completely ignoring his presence as he tried and failed to make small talk with her.
Nikolas left him there and went upstairs to check on Jessie and put on pants. When sounds of frantic yelling and exasperated sighs made its way down to the living room, Leonard chuckled and Marissa looked at him, rolled her eyes, and sighed. Nikolas came down, wearing loose sweatpants and unaccompanied by his little sister.
“Where is she?”
“Still getting her crap together,” Marissa and Nikolas said in unison, simultaneously rolling their eyes.
Nikolas left the two awkward people and disappeared into what Leonard assumed must have been his art studio, as Nikolas sometimes reappeared, hands covered in some sort of medium.
Eventually, Jessie came back down, carrying her iPod, her lucky pen (which was embarrassingly pink and fluffy and studded with rhinestones), and a piece of paper.
“I have every song you guys have ever sung,” she said breathlessly. “Will you sign this for me?” She held out the paper and the pen. Leonard gingerly took both.
“Will it probably end up mounted on your wall?”
Jessie paused, a guilty look on her face. “Maybe?”
“Eh, whatever.” Leonard signed his name in large writing on the paper and gave both the pen and the paper back to the excited girl. “You have…an interesting pen.”
Jessie jumped. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Thank you…” she tried what was possibly a demure expression, which served only to make her look stoned. Leonard awkwardly cleared his throat.
“I have so much to ask you,” Jessie interrupted, a feverish light in her eyes.
Crazed laughter rang out from where Nikolas was hiding. Leonard knew he was in for it.
Two hours later, Nikolas escorted a thoroughly rung out Leonard Astor to the door. Leonard leaned wearily against the frame.
“I never knew,” he said, shaking his head, “that twelve-year olds could be that vicious. Not even my cousin is like that.”
“Lenny,” Nikolas said seriously. “You love me, right?”
“What?” How—when—was he giving off the wrong signals? What was he trying to say? Is there something—
“I mean, you care about me and what happens to me, right?” Nikolas continued.
“Uh, yeah.” Phew. So he wasn’t serious about the “love me” part.
“So if I told you that I had agreed to babysit my neighbors’ kids and that they are, quite frankly, the most energetic six and four year olds in the world, would you agree to come with me?”
“Uh, sure.” What was he saying? He didn’t even like babysitting his cousin. What made him think he would like babysitting a six year old and a four year old together? He looked at Nikolas.
“Please?” Nikolas looked hopefully at him, black eyes boring into his soul.
“What do I get out of it?” Leonard asked, seeking a way out. If he could just name a bad enough reason…
“I make you breakfast in the morning.”
“Okay, so my neighbors are, like, these high-end, upper-class doctor people who have a lot of fancy meetings. So, when they have socialite parties or seminars or something, they always ask me to come over and watch their kids,” Nikolas told him. “But these things run really late, and they usually come home early in the morning and just crash when they get home and sleep until noon or something. So I end up staying over and taking care of the kids in the morning.”
“Why don’t they get a nanny?”
“I dunno. But why would I care? I get paid, and that’s good enough reason not to question their motives.”
“Well…” Leonard strode back to the living room, where Marissa was still sitting on the couch, though she was now watching some detective show on television. “Hey, can your brother cook well?”
“Uh, yeah?” Marissa never even looked at him, eyes glued to the intense chase scene unfolding on the television.
“Oh. Well then.” Leonard strode back to where Nikolas was standing. “I’m in,” he said with a grin. “But the breakfast better be good.”
“Yes!” Nikolas hugged him. “You are the best!”
“Uh, well, yeah.” Leonard scratched his head awkwardly. “I’ll just…leave, then. See you tomorrow?”
“At six,” Nikolas clarified.
“In the morning?” Leonard asked, horrified.
“No, at night,” Nikolas told him. “Don’t be stupid.”