The Texas sun flooded into the room and shined onto the sleeping teenager's face, slowly waking him from a deep sleep. With a grudge, he wiped his eyes and fumbled around the bedside table, hand probing for his sunglasses. As his fingers came into touch with the smooth plastic, he raised them up, unfolded the arms, and slipped them on. The sun was instantly tinted and the room became a dark shade of amber as he opened his eyes and looked through the lenses. He yawned and stretched his slender, yet masculine arms above his head, his joints popping quietly. He threw his legs over the side of the bed and eased up onto his feet. He looked over at the alarm clock, sighing at the time. It was only 8:05. Wearing only his crimson boxers and his blonde hair in a mess, the boy shuffled across the floor and held his hand out towards the glistening door handle. As his fingers came into contact with the cold metal, a shiver ran down his spine and he slowly turned it, swinging the door open.
He was greeted by the plush rump of a smuppet to the foot as he took a step out of the room, almost falling to the ground. He let out a small cry before catching himself and standing up once again, only to kick the stuffed doll into the nearest wall. He grumbled into the kitchen, opening the fridge door and searched for something to eat while soaking up the cool refreshing air that emanated from inside. Seeing nothing that would satisfy his hunger, he took out a can of Coke from the top shelf and cracked it open, taking a long sip, then walked to get in the living room, flopping down on the rugged and beat-down sofa. He sat there for a while, gazing into space in complete silence before he took another drink. He eventually stood up once again and went into Bro's room, feeling a knot form in his stomach as if he were intruding into a sacred and holy area.
As he inched the door open, the shadows receded from him as the curtains blocked the sun from entering. Pieces of scrap metal and different tools were spread out along the work table in an organized mess, cleverly stacked in some areas. The sheets on the futon directly in front of the teenager were tossed to the side, a pillow and the top blanket lying on the ground. The TV that sat in front of the bed was shut off, a multitude of different colored smuppets surrounding it. In the corner, two of his projects, a tall slender piece of machinery, Sawtooth, and a short cube like robot, Squarewave, collected dust as they hibernated within the shadows. On one of the stereo systems, a plaster-white faced doll sat, orange limbs sprouting from a blue Game Bro t-shirt and a hat sitting backwards on his head. Its blue eyes stared at the boy as a gold tooth glimmered from the light seeping in from the living room. The room was so familiar, yet so foreign to him, as if it had come straight out a dream. The blonde crept to the bed, quietly lying down as if he were afraid of being caught, and stared up at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and let his thoughts wander
The clang of the metal colliding echoed through the Texas air as the taller male lunged at the younger with lightning speed, forcing the younger to slide on the balls of his feet. He gritted his teeth as he struggled to keep up with the attacks, occasionally being nicked by the oldest's blade as it swung by. This was the Strider tradition; strifing on the roof of their apartment building at the break of dawn. The younger Strider, Dave, had disadvantage as always, struggling to fight against his older brother. He pushed his attacker and flash-stepped behind him, letting out a mighty cry as he swiped his sword downwards, only to be blocked and thrown back. He landed on his feet and was quickly face to face with Bro, a gloved hand shoved into his gut so hard, he could have sworn his innards rearranged just then. Dave let out a yelp as he crashed onto the cement. He struggled to regain his breath as Bro towered over him.
"You give up yet, kid?" he asked with a slight drawl. His anime shades reflected the rising sun, illuminating his perfected poker face. Dirty blonde hair spiked out of the bottom of the grey hat he constantly wore as if it were glued to his head. His shirt was neatly tucked into his black jeans. Dave glared through his aviators, spitting at his feet.
"You wish," he growled before getting up and attacking his brother, slicing his leg and cutting the fabric of his black denim jeans in the process, which in turn earned him a quick kick in the jaw. Bro picked him up by the collar of his shirt and held him the air, staring straight at Dave.
"You little brat," Bro hissed before tossing and kicking him across the ground and the sword over to him. "Get up. Now." Before Dave could react, Bro attacked and cut his cheek, a thin line of blood rising to the surface and dripping down onto the ground. The younger Strider gripped the handle of his katana so tight that his knuckles turned white, and swiped air, jumping up and landing behind his brother. He thrust his handle into his spine as Bro grunted in reply. He quickly spun around and knocked the katana out of Dave's hands, then proceeded to kick him square in the chest, knocking the wind out of Dave's lungs. He flew into the door that lead to the stairs and hit it with great force. He winced as he fell to the ground, sunglasses sliding off and landing onto the cement with a clatter. He opened his eyes and suddenly, the edge of Bro's sword was at his chest, poking the skin under his shirt.
"Looks like you lost again, Squirt," Bro mocked with a smirk. He removed his sword from Dave's chest and turned his back, going to get the other katana. Dave staggered to his feet and quickly took this opportunity to tackle the elder.
"Ah! What the hell?!" Bro exclaimed while falling to the ground.
"Payback!" Dave replied back as he began pounding his fist on the side of his head. Bro flipped around beneath his younger brother and popped him in the nose. There was a crack and Dave covered it with his hand, giving Bro the chance to shove him off.
"Dude, I think you broke my nose," he whimpered, blood seeping out of his hand and spilling onto his record shirt.
"You were asking for it," Bro replied coolly as he stood up and sheathed his blade. He then bent down and picked up the injured child bridal-style, soon heading towards the door that lead back inside. "Now, let's get you cleaned up, 'lil bro."
Dave opened his eyes, expecting to see Bro standing over him with that "what-the-hell-do-you-think-you're-doing" face. But he didn't. He was alone in the room, shadows enveloping him like a blanket. He sighed as he came back to reality. Bro was never coming back. He was dead. Killed. His closed his eyes once again, visions of the game flashing before his eyes
He had been struck down by his own weapon. His face was still frozen with shock, eyes wide open and staring into the infinite sky. A trickle of blood escaped the corner of his mouth and slowly ran down the side of his face. His blonde hair was still tucked up underneath that grey hat of his and his Kamuna glasses thrown askew to his right, lenses getting a few barely noticeable scratches. Right in the center of his chest, his katana was embedded, digging into the ground beneath him. Maroon blood seeped out of the fatal blow and stained everything it touched. His once white shirt was now red and dripping with the fluid. His arms were at his sides, pale and covered in scratches. His legs were outstretched, feet slightly turned outwards. His body was surrounded in orange feathers.
Dave couldn't believe his eyes, trying to believe that everything he saw was just an illusion. That it was just his mind and the game playing tricks on him. Then, the memories seemed to have filled his head. Bro had died protecting Davesprite from Jack, risking his own life to save his little brother. He had died with honor and with dignity. He had died a hero's death.
The younger, the only, Strider desperately tried to pull the weapon out of Bro's chest, but it was to no avail. The sword wouldn't move an inch. Finally, he gave up and kneeled beside the lifeless body. He closed Bro's eyes slowly with two fingers and reached over to grab the discarded sunglasses. He carefully rested them on his brother's face, as tears began to form in his eyes. He had just lost the one thing he loved most in his life. He got up onto his feet and wiped his eyes, not wanting to seem weak in Bro's presence, even if he was already dead. He wouldn't want Dave to mourn over his death, but rather to be strengthened by it. Dave turned around and began walking, determined more than ever to stop Jack's reign.
When Dave opened his eyes again, he felt a tear run down the side of his face. He slowly wiped it away with his hands, only to repeat the action as more and more tears fell. He couldn't stop them, so he kept trying to wipe them away before they touched the bed below him, afraid that Bro would disapprove of such an action. He finally sat up and walked out of the room after drying his tears, thinking to himself:
'What's the matter with you? Striders don't cry