Hawknell Some see a pen, I see a harpoon
When he’d finally started reaching some kind of balance, Emmett had been tossed right back to square one. He didn’t like feeling like this. And yet here he was, yet again but this time with pain shooting out from elsewhere. After finding Cliff shifted, after being snapped at for simply trying to help, at being told Indra was dead without proof, Emmett felt like he’d been thrown into a liferaft without so much as a thought to be careful. Distance grew again as he found himself moodily avoiding contact with any of the bears if possible.

But, as with any time he got into these sorts of moods, eventually the wind shifted and Emmett felt like the pressure on his chest, and the bomb threatening to explode at a simple misplaced word, backed off just enough to feel like talking some things out with Locke. Maybe, it’d help? Taking advantage of the brief reprieve, he moved from the microwave and its holy grail of finished bubbling mac and cheese and made his way over to his brother’s room.

Without any pretense, he opened it up and closed the door with a notable solid thud. Avoiding eye contact, Emmett stepped over to the bed, sitting, and then all but shuffling himself to the corner made by the frame and wall. Quickly swirling the contents of the still hot plastic bowl, he lifted up a spoonful and shoved it into his mouth. ”Hi or whatever,” he tried for, but it came out garbled between noodles and cheese.
Locke had his desktop open to youtube, an hour into watching internet drama for subcultures he was neither part of nor had any interest in...aside from the drama. Obviously.

He'd been content to remain for another hour, settled into the well-worn office chair and with half a bag of pretzel bites within reach. The sound of Emmett puttering around was comforting as well, even if the big rain cloud over Emmett's head was beginning to creep over Locke's.

The twins had a quiet understanding between them and that was why Locke didn't react all that much to Emmett suddenly plopping down on the bed with a mouth full of microwaved cheese.

"You better not get any of that on my bed." Locke said, spinning around in his chair with hands steepled together like an 80s spy movie villain.

A few beats of silence before he lifted an eyebrow in question. "What?"
The chair swiveled to reveal his brother, a video in the back illuminating a halo around him as he looked right out of a movie with the whole pose. Leave it to Locke to go for humor even when Emmett personally wasn’t feeling it. He’d be doing it in his place if their roles were switched for sure.

Emmett rolled his eyes some, grunting in agreement. No food on bed, got it. It really only took another moment or so for him to be pried into a conversation which was why he was here to begin with, but Emmett felt a familiar want to pull his walls all over again. That wasn’t productive!

So, pushing through it, he ultimately sighed, shoulders getting in with it and everything.

The spoon was placed back into its bowl.

”I dunno how to start…. I just thought… I wanna talk about things, but it's confusing.”
For being the same size, Emmett looked tiny on the bed. Curled forward, around his bowl, as if he was still bracing for something to come.

Locke's toes dug into the carpet and he used that leverage to pull his chair a little closer. His bravado was fading in the face of his own brother's hurt. And although he could, Locke stopped himself from getting too close. The best person to get Emmett to open up was their mom, then Grammie, and then Locke.

He inhaled and leveled his eyes to Emmett's browline. "Okay... we can talk. Just start anywhere you want and I won't stop you."
Okay, eye contact. He looked back, really just wishing the whole tangled mess in his brain could just be explained through that. It was 2022, why didn’t they have the technology yet?

Permission was granted and Emmett looked off to the comforter, following the veins of shadows of it being clumped up around him. Inhaling, his thoughts came into an order, haphazard, yes, but one all the same and then pushed out like a balloon.

”So, it's just a lot. Ever since fight night, things have been stupid.” Emmett looked up, face pinched, bear agitated as it flicked ears and shook itself. ”I feel like a burden to the group. I had to have my own bear shoved into a box and I don’t know if you’ve ever had that happen before, but it fucking sucks. It’s like someone put a clamp on your mouth, but it's your whole body and you badly wanna rip it off, but you can’t so you’re just left there feeling like you’re going to explode and you’re so tired so you can’t even do that.”

The bowl was placed in between his legs as they crossed so Emmett could gesture with arms, his whole body, as he went.

”And Cliff and I talked about getting stronger and stuff, but the bear mojo words didn’t make sense and then I talked to Abraham who’s one of his friends and it helped some, y’know? To figure out how I might be able to work on getting stronger and I thought about asking to be a soldier, but then that stuff with Indra happened and seeing Cliff suddenly shifted was wrong. It felt wrong. And when he was human again, I tried to offer an idea of what to do before he jumped further into panic and he only snapped at me. And then, Natahsa also got mad at me and I’m suddenly not allowed to get space and do something my way? Like?”

It didn’t make sense.

”I’m told I’m not a burden, I’m not a child and then I’m treated like one and I feel like I’m going crazy, but I can’t stand even going to work because I’m going to snap.” He inhaled heavily, letting it exhale out loudly and heated. ”I’m so frustrated with everything.”

And there it all was in a giant jumble of thoughts that had been smashed upon each other, one after the other over months. It was a giant monologue, but it was the only way.
Locked remained quiet, giving his brother the floor to air everything out. What started as a strong flow quickly turned into a flood and all Locke could think was how awful he'd been for letting his bro bottle up so much inside. He's the younger of the two, but usually the more level-headed. The thinker while Emmett was the feeler. And clearly, there were a lot of feelings.

Dejection. Rejection. Imperfection. A lot of 'tions.' Nothing good and all stacking on top of each other like a poorly constructed brick house with a big bad wolf lurking about, waiting for revenge.

As close as the brothers were, they weren't hugging types, those were for ground-breaking moments and this was at the best, the bottom of a mountain of issues they'd have to climb over the course of the afternoon. Locke had paused his video and wouldn't not be returning to it. Without looking back, he reached an arm to quietly shut down his screen.

He brought his knees together, hands running down his jeans as he began to piece together his response. "That's some really heavy stuff." Locke leaned forward, watching Emmett. "We can talk about all of it. Do you want to start with the fight?"
Yeah! It was heavy stuff. It was a whole lot to carry for as long as he had. So much had been left to pile upon each other, one after the other, regardless of the foundation rotting away, offering only a slap of a piece of ducktape here or there as if that was a fix. The floor was bound to fall away anytime now.

His lips pulled harshly down a side as he inhaled, nodding. ”That was a fun night till it wasn’t,” he grouched.
It might have been just his imagination, but Locke thought his brother looked a little lighter after spilling his guts. It was like Emmett turned on the tap and the pipes sputtered out one big clog and was now sluggishly pouring out the rest.

The grouchy tone had the markings of Normal Emmett™. So, progress.

Locke balanced the heels of his hands on his knees, fingers splayed out. "You did really well in that fight." Going toe to toe with Lydus. "And then Levka opened his big mouth."
The praise had him looking up to his brother, a smile playing on his lips. It was nice to have that recognized instead of the entire event shamed. Emmett had been doing well and had been having fun.

His face pulled at the mention of Levka’s comment. It had struck right at the heart of it all. Emmett had been fine. Yeah, ultimately it would’ve been called for Lydus, but that was okay. They’d had a good fight and things were okay.

But, then.

”I don’t think Lydus would’ve done anything for what it's worth.” Who wanted a shifting bear to come at them for pete’s sake? ”But, Cliff had to treat me like I was some kinda kid and try to pull me out of the ring. Levka just called it how he saw it.” Being called weak had hurt him deep, the actions around him certainly compounding it into a truth that was hard to pull his eyes away from.
It would be easier to pin this all on Levka, but he was just the grumpy polar bear-shaped domino that knocked over the next. Emmett was right. Even if the other bear king left a bad taste in everyone's mouth it was more than expected for him to be... well an asshole. And assholes behave like assholes. It wouldn't have gotten under Emmett's skin all that much.

Now, the group's actions though. That really would make an impact. Cliff's surely did.

Locke rotated his shoulders back, lips a thin line. This was something he understood. A low exhale of breath. "Remind me what Cliff said."
He glared at where the bowl sat while recalling, the frustration being hashed anew.

”He pushed down my bear and told Lydus and I that we were done. He said I didn’t have to prove anything.” Emmett blinked up. ”He didn’t really give me a whole lot of options besides agreeing.” Lydus had stood up for him, had wanted Emmett to choose for himself, but all he could do was follow the path neatly laid out for him; that he was pressured into staying within the bounds of.
Locke had been in his own fight, one that went down so easy it didn't actually feel like a win. He had caught Emmett's fight halfway through, cheering his brother on with the rest of the sleuth. If anything, he had been proud of how well Emmett held his own. When things went sideways, well it all happened so fast.

Which, hearing all this now only added to the guilt.

Locke was personally torn as well. He fully agreed with Emmett that having your autonomy ripped away was the worst thing to happen when emotions were high. He also knew at the core Cliff was trying to stop things from escalating. Neither were in the right or wrong. It all came down to the aftermath. "That must have felt so awful, caging your bear. Did you guys ever talk about it after?"
It had felt awful and confusing and exhausting. Anytime he thought back to it, fear and anger had quickly replaced anything remotely comforting that that interaction should’ve been. That hadn’t been control, that had been someone controling him.

”No.” It came out clipped. ”Not exactly. I tried to talk to him about feeling out of place, how I could work on getting stronger like you guys, but it all kind of went over my head.” And sure things had gotten a bit better, but that wasn’t much and the more time had went on, the more his confusion had spiraled out and he’d felt stupid and stupider.
His face scrunched in obvious distaste. Why had he known the answer even before Emmett had spoken a single syllable?

The blame fell on the floor, Locke was unable to sweep it to either side. There had been an attempt. Cliff received one of those gold "You Tried" stars with the text completely unaligned and with a questionable font.

Emmett got... Emmett got even more confused by the look of things.

"Yeah. What were you hoping for instead?"
”I don’t know,” Emmett breathed, exasperated at himself, at the question, at the circumstances.

He floundered for an answer, only really knowing what had been given was wrong. It was like being offered a puzzle piece of like color and attempting all sides without any give even though it was literally supposed to work.

”Something I can actually work on. It was all kinds of feelings and stuff and I don’t know how to deal with that.”
Locke reached his foot out, intent to give Emmett a half-hearted brush of brotherly affection. To remind Emmett that he was heard and understood. He missed by a wide gap, foot coming to rest on the carpet, bouncing up with the small impact.

He too struggled for a response. The emotions felt by Emmett were well known to Locke. Feeling disconnected from the group as he worked outside the Sanctuary and the desire to do something useful. Funny too, how a conversation with Abraham put him on a path for a role. It wasn't exactly a raving success. Cliff never actually used him for anything so Locke was left to figure things out himself. Still, he made the best of things in his limited capacity.

Now it seemed Emmett meeting that same crossroads. Except, his came with the worst timing. "Even if you did know what you wanted to do, you can't go to Cliff now." Not with one of their group gone and Cliff deep in depression.
The foot was looked at with the thunking of soft carpet, his gaze coming up to Locke and a small smile there in return. He got it.

Locke’s following statement though had that quickly wiping off, bear shifting around its weight in unease. ”I know,” he lamented. ”I was going to ask about maybe trying soldier stuff or something after talking to Abraham, but then everything just exploded.”
Locke was frustrated for Emmett. The timing here sucked balls. Big Hairy ones.

He picked again at his jeans, the urge to fidget growing as the air stayed heavy. The idea of a soldier was news to him. Emmett expelling pent up energy fighting? Sounded like some good physical therapy. Therapy with a capital "T."

"I didn't know you wanted to try for solider." Locke confessed.
The highlight to the position had Emmett pausing, feeling his mind rerouting for a moment and he smiled shyly for it. ”Uh, yeah. I think it’d be a good fit for me?” He ended that with a lilt at the end, questioning his brother with it. Maybe, he didn’t agree, but Emmett wanted to try and hoped Locke didn’t see it as a problem for him either.

”Like I said, I ran into Abraham at this plant shop and stuff. He kinda went through all the different roles and stuff thinking it could help me grow, y’know? And soldier just seemed fun and kinda right.”
Locke laid his ear to a shoulder, a slow smile spreading. "I think that's awesome, bro. I could see you as a soldier." He kept his tone airy as if talking about the weather.

Emmett wouldn't be a classical soldier type. Uniforms and structure didn't fit his twin, but the controlled chaos of sparing and an outlet to let his beast? Yeah. That screamed Emmett one hundred and fifty percent.

"You hoping to train somewhere?" Locke considered the options. Amira had offered a fight. Maybe he could send Emmett in his place. She'd never even know.
Dude, yes! See? Locke even agreed! His shy smile became more sure and he beamed with it. At least there was a moment of brightness in an otherwise down moment. ”Yeah?”

As for training, his jaw moved slightly to the side, shrugging. ”Yeah, I guess. Dunno where though unless you have an idea?”
Tunnel vision with the new topic. Locke leaned forward excitedly, rocking the chair with the motion and causing it to knock against his desk.

"What's that one were's name? Kay? The one that ran fight night. I bet she has all the connections." He held out a finger, looking up to the ceiling as the tried in vain to remember.

Locke knew he needed to send Emmett down the right path or else his bro would end up walking around asking "hey, you want to start a fight?"
Kay? Emmett’s face pinched whirring through a few names before it clicked. ”Kye! Dude, yes!”

He sat up straighter. ”I could shoot her a message and see if she’s got the hookup anywhere.” He still had her number right?
"Yeah dude, yeah!" Locke cheered his brother on, rocking in his seat.

Maybe this is what Emmett needed. A new outlook. A new goal to achieve.

"You'll get super buff in no time. The bear version of Bruce Lee."
That sounded bomb af. Who didn’t wanna be a version of Bruce Lee?

”I’ll be able to take down anyone in no time,” he laughed, a genuine smile pulling up into existence. ”Just watch!”
"Yeah!" Locke whooped loudly, rising from his seat. Then his eyes flashed.

"You could take down anyone." His voice went raspy like the villain on an old-western as he leaped up to belly-flop onto Emmett.


Suddenly, his brother was standing up which Emmett didn’t really think much of until he was actively leaping at him. ”Wha!” Surprise took over his features as he was essentially a sitting duck, quickly flattened against the mattress.

Moving his limbs, he floundered, trying to move Locke off of him. ”When did you get so fat,” he whined. ”Get off of me!”


Oh, going for the fat jokes? Emmett had no originality. Locke rolled his eyes before going in for the kill.

He looped his arms around Emmett and attempted to turn them over, jamming his own thumb in the process and instead getting a hand wedged under his brother's sprawled body.

And Emm had the nerve to call him fat! "Dammit, you're made of cement." Locke huffed, trying to wrench his hands free.


Arms were suddenly behind him and there was an attempt, note attempt, at moving him, but Emmett stayed firm and didn’t budge. They were only going to move when he said so.

Locke’s hand was suddenly stuck and the only thing he could do was laugh at the accusation, a bursting one that had been held back by the dam of bad feelings for too long. ”Abs of steel, babeh.” With that he raised his free hands, and latched onto an arm, twisting the skin one way with one and the other the opposite. Sunburn time.


A split second of warning before Locke's arm felt like it was on fire. "AHHH!" He fish-tailed his legs hard, trying to twist away.

There was no escape.

"Tapping out. You have defeated me." Locke said robotically, going limp. Just like streetfighter he had been K.O.ed


The response had him laughing, sticking to it back and forth. There could only be one winner and it was bum bum bummmm, Emmett!

As Locke went limp on him, he shoved him off and rolled out from under him, face bright. ”You can’t beat the ultimate move, works everytime,” he chuckled, making to sit up again.
Just wait. When Emmett went to sleep Locke would be back to deliver the ultimate noogie. Can't fight back when your limbs are trapped under the covers. >:)

Then tossed aside like a sack of potatoes, Locke settled onto the far side of his bed and turned his head. "Just wait until you fight at the gym. They'll pulverize you until you are an Emmett pancake."

And Locke will bring a spatula to pry his brother off the padded floor.
Emmett eyed Locke from his side of the bed, scoffing at the predication.

”I’ll just have to beat them into a pancake first. It’ll be easy.” It was so much easier to say than do, but Emmett had hope he’d be able to hold his own better than Locke made it sound. ”Plus, they gotta teach me how to get massively ripped first anyways.”
Good. A confident Emmett was a happy Emmett. Locke smiled at his brother's beautiful stupidity.

"You gonna get swoll, huh? Emmett? Super beefy??" He teased, laughing up at the ceiling.
Har, har!

”Hell yeah, dude! The super swolling-est! Like so strong, I’m gonna be able to lift a car.” Nevermind that he could technically do that as a bear! He meant unshifted, one hundred percent bonafide just him. A dream that would be super cool!
Locke snorted, mashing the side of his face into the scrunched-up blankets of the bed. A lazy cat smile overtaking his face.

"Yeah man, I believe in you."

A rotate of his neck to face his brother, eyes straining to take him all in, but Locke wasn't pressed to move from the comfy spot.

"Just practice on your car. Not mine."
He believed him, but, did he believe him, that was the question.

Emmett snorted at the request. ”You got it.”
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