“You stole my computer.”
Bener glanced up from his map, forgetting the dull pain behind his eyes at the dangerous tone lurking in that bland phrase. Eser glared over the top of his laptop at Savas, who studiously avoided his brother’s eyes and continued sharpening the knife in his hands.
“Not stolen. Never moved the thing,” Savas muttered, gaze focused firmly on the blade.
“Sure, you didn’t.” Eser scoffed. “You just happened to have a conversation online, using my username, but without using my machine. Because we all know how good your hacking skills are.”
Savas sighed, finally meeting his brother’s look with a glare of his own. “Okay, so what if I touched your precious machine? You weren’t using it. You didn’t even let Stef know you were leaving!”
Kenan glanced over from his spot curled up in the corner, reading an old paperback novel that had seen better days. “Come on, Eser. The least you could do is offer a turn. Especially when you’re going to be gone for an hour or so.”
Bener suppress the urge to roll his eyes, returning his focus to the map. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they really were brothers. And 12 years old, at that.
It was hard to believe, in moments like this, that they were really the deadly assassins the world knew. He winced, head throbbing as the argument escalated in volume. Good thing it’s just another headache, and not a migraine.
“Calm down, all of you,” Bener broke in. “Savas, next time ask to use the computer.” He gave the sniper a pointed look before narrowing his eyes at Eser. “You could offer to let others talk sometimes, too. I’m sure Jena and Kris would like the opportunity to chat.”
Kenan’s smile dimmed. “Yeah, Eser. Share a little. I’ll even promise not to wire the thing as an IED. It’ll be a struggle, but I’ll restrain myself.”
Bener frowned at the forced tone. Kenan had taken the separation from the girls the hardest. Leave it. He’ll talk to you when he’s ready. What seemed like nothing more than a crush was proving to be longer lasting—and quite a bit stronger—than he’d anticipated. Still. Won’t do any good to rush him. And letting him talk to Kris could only help. Probably.
“Ha!” Kenan’s triumphant shout jolted Bener out of his thoughts. “See, you do miss her! Admit it, Eser!”
The hacker busied himself with his computer, glaring at the screen. “Of course, I miss her. She was hilarious when she got mad. And it was so easy to rile her up.”
Ah. Must mean Stef. Bener smirked. She and Eser had the strangest, most antagonistic relationship he’d ever seen. Considering I live with Kenan and Savas, that’s saying a lot. But it worked for them. Somehow. Eser seems to like Stef a little more than he’s willing to admit. And the feeling seems to be mutual.
Bener glanced over at their youngest brother. “Come on, Kenan, leave Eser alone.”
Savas stretched, setting the sharpened knife to one side. A slow smile crept over his face. “Can’t you tell the man is having a very important conversation?”
Eser ignored them with great dignity, shifting to shield his computer screen from sight. Bener bit back a grin. For being an expert, the man can’t lie to us to save his life.
Savas stood. “If it’s anything like his conversation last time, they’re already insulting each other. Must be true love.”
Kenan doubled over, roaring with laughter at Eser’s murderous expression. Bener glanced between Savas and Eser. Oh, bok. Eser was not one to take that lying down. Even if it is true.
“Savas!” Kenan finally managed to gasp. “Come on, don’t tease your brother like that!”
Eser glared at them both before rolling his eyes and returning his attention to his beloved computer.
“Yes, well. It isn’t very brotherly to have filled your bedroll with rubber scorpions, either, now is it? But Savas has gone and done it anyway.” Eser hid a smirk at Kenan’s outraged shout and Savas beat a hasty retreat down the hallway, laughing.
Bener stared at the empty doorway, then cocked an eyebrow at Eser. “Was that really necessary?”
“Yes. Saves us from Kenan screaming like a girl tonight when he discovers the things on his own.” Eser shrugged. “Besides. This way Savas should remember to at least ask before borrowing my things.”
Neither one wants to admit how much they miss those crazy girls. Not that he could call them out on it—he missed them plenty, too. I wish there was a better way than random computer chats in anonymous chat rooms. But anything more blatant could help the Ghazi narrow in on their location.
It could also cause trouble for Seth. Not that he particularly liked the older Hildebrand sibling, but he made for a good ally. Seth was the only man they trusted in the American military—one of the few that viewed he and his brothers as more than volatile assets. But that didn’t mean they had to tell him everything. I tell him we’ve been contacting his sister and her friends on the sly, possibly putting them in danger—again—he’ll go ballistic. Probably find a way to send them someplace completely out of contact range. Like the Arctic circle.
Bener shook his head. “Just—let them have a turn too, okay? They miss those girls just as much as you do.”
“Fine,” came the rather put-upon reply. “I guess they can have a turn when I’m done.”
Bener nodded, running his finger down a railway line on the map. “How did you know about the scorpions?”
“Oh, that.” Eser bit his lip, eyes shining with mischief. “Because I found them when I tried to put the rubber snake in his bed.”
Bener sighed, rubbing at his eyes. 12 year old boys, I swear.