Big Brother


“Maybe I’ll get a tramp stamp,” Laney teased me after the game. We were in the tattoo shop after dropping Dennis off at my place. He left after giving her a hug and telling her something while I sat in the car. I’d texted him since, but he told me to mind my business and Laney wasn’t breaking either.

I looked at the design she was pointing at and my first thought was a bad drunken mistake. It was the typical tramp stamp from the 90s, something no one wanted to see again. “No.”

She giggled, “What are you getting?”

I walked her over to the burly man drawing what I was adding to my already full arm. I was getting a leukemia ribbon with roman numerals underneath, marking the day Dennis was cancer free. I had always been behind him 100%, but lately I had the urge to really make it known to everyone, not just my family.

The ribbon going on the inside of my bicep was pretty typical; it was the orange ribbon people put on their cars or wore for support. However, mine would be orange and have the lyrics to a song Dennis loved as a kid, Hoobastank’s The Reason. It wasn’t on my usual playlist, but it always reminded me of him.

I leaned forward with my arms outstretched and holding me a short distance from the counter,
“How’s it coming Drake?”

He nodded, “Good, almost done.”

I felt Laney wrap her arms around mine, “He’s going to love that Erik.”

I looked down at her as she stared at the sketch being finished. She was wrapped around my little
brother’s finger and I think he was wrapped around hers too. To me, that meant a lot that within
the first few minutes or hours of knowing each other they became close.

Drake turned the paper around with a smile, “Simple, just like you asked.”

I moved my other arm to pull the sheet of paper closer, not wanting her to let go of me, “Looks good

“You ready or you want me to draw you up something?” he gave Laney a wink.

She shook her head, “Not now.”

He chuckled as he walked to the room where I’d be sitting for the next hour or so. Laney and I
followed, but she had moved one of her hands further down my arm, right above my wrist. It would
have been awkward fr me to flip my wrist and take her hand, so I just made sure to pull her in close
to my side.

“You can sit right there, or you can pull it closer to watch,” Drake smiled at her.

I took my usual seat and set my arm up on a table. I smiled across the room nad nodded for her to
pull the chair closer, “Like I said, I might need someone to hold my hand.”

Laney looked shy all of a sudden, but I figured this place was out of her element. Drake was getting
everything ready as she moved closer to me, “Does it hurt?”

“Not much after a while,” I told her while she settled into her chair, “I just try not to think about it.”

“Ready?” Drake asked.

“Go for it,” I answered.

Laney cringed when the needle started and touched my skin. I held back a laugh. She was a nurse,
she dealt with blood and guts every day and here she was mildly freaking out over a needling
sticking my arm over and over.

After a few minutes I felt the needle more and hissed. I felt her hand clasp mine, “Big tough guy,”
she giggled.

“The toughest,” I smiled back at her.

“What’d you and Dennis talk about?” I asked.

“He explained the game better to me, I only really knew the basics. Then he talked about you, a
lot. He talked about your family and how you were so sweet during his treatments and all that; said
you would try to be at every appointment you could be and you sat with him.”

I bit the inside of my cheek. I knew that at some point that would come out to a girl and she would
be in awe of it, I just didn’t know it would come out that soon and how embarrassed I would be by
it. I wasn’t embarrassed because it was a little lame that I sat and read him half the Harry Potter
series or that I had missed a couple big games or dances because of it, I was embarrassed because
of the way her voice sounded and the look on her face; she was genuinely in awe of my action and it
was written all over her face.

“He was my kid brother,” I tried to brush it off, “You would have done the same.”

“I would have,” she agreed right away, “But I’m a girl and I didn’t have a career to really worry
about at that age, a dream like yours. You gave up a lot for him and he really appreciates it and
thinks the world of you.”

I blushed and heard Drake cough a little. I turned my head to him and he coughed again, “Want to
take a short break? I have to go to the bathroom.”

I nodded as I turend back to Laney, “It didn’t matter, it still doesn’t. if he needed me like that

“You’d be there,” she moved closer to me and set her other hand on my arm.

I nodded again.

“He feels kind of bad about it too, like he took something away from you.”

“What?” I asked.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything,” she shook her head and moved from me, dropping my

“He didn’t take anything away from me,” I shook my head, “If anything, he helped me. I probably
would have turned out to be a selfish asshole otherwise.”

“That’s just what he…”

“I’d never think of it that way,” I shook my head again, harder now.

Laney smiled at me, “I didn’t think you would.”

In a few days, Laney had seen the real me. The one who could be an asshole with my jokes, who
cared about my brother and worried about him, who was confident in my career but slightly less so
with the rest of my life; the guy who would stay up late texting back and forth about nothing, who
would ask her to hold my hand while I got a small tattoo, something that didn’t hurt much at all.

Drake was still out of the room so I made my move. I took Laney’s hand again, tugging her forward
on her chair. She licked her pink lips and I involuntarily licked my own.

I moved my head forward, thinking I was going to be able to kiss her, but she moved. I caught her
cheek but I still felt like a failure, like I had made up the fact that she might like me the same way I
did her. the second my lips left her skin I felt her hand move too, but it moved against mine, linking
our fingers together. I glanced down at our intertwined hands and nodded before lifing her hand to
my lips with a smile.

Laney blushed and went to say something, but Drake walked in, “Let’s finish that thing up, get you
two on your way.”

The rest of the job only took about an half hour and before I knew it, we were walking back to my
car. It was closing in on midnight and I wanted to keep her out, but I knew it would be difficult with
my brother being at my place and not knowing her schedule for the next day.

“Did Denny know you were doing this?” she asked when I held her car door open.


She pursed her lips together, trying to hold in the awe but it came out anyway. I looked at my feet
and then back up at her, “Thought I’d surprise him.”

She pouted, the way girls do when they think something is really cute. It made her lips even more
appealing, but I knew the miss in the tattoo shop had been the hint to wait on it.

“You want to be there when he sees it tomorrow?” I asked.

“That’s for you guys,” she shook her head.

“I’ll probably show him tomorrow morning, first thing.”

“It’s between you and Dennis,” she said again.

I walked around to get into my car. As soon as I was situated I took her hand again, “Come over
tomorrow morning, if you can.”

I could tell she was really thinking about it, weighing the pros and cons, but then she nodded, “What


“I need an address.”

“Promise you won’t stalk me?”

“I don’t make promises I cant keep,” she joked.

“Well, I need an address so I can drop you off tonight, unless you’d like to stay with me…just

I watched as her cheeks turned red and she giggled, “Not tonight Erik.”

“Good, now I can stalk you on my days off,” I put the car in drive.
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K, so I had to just pull a song out of my ass and I feel like that one kinda worked...I hope lol