Home About Chao

WARNING: Brief implication of self harm.

Upload date: 10/22/23

Don’t get him wrong, Arch didn’t hate Rivera. But under normal circumstances, he would never even think about inviting the prick into his home. Letting that glass bottle of pure liquid entropy anywhere near his machine projects sounded like a recipe for disaster, or at least it did until a few days ago when he’d figured out that he was, in fact, pretty competent with programming. Which Arch himself was not terribly great at, unless shell commands counted. Putting parts together and downloading a few files off of the internet was easy enough; most of his family seemed drawn towards machines in some way, understanding them with ease and having none of the usual discomfort people seemed to have sticking something into a board. He could tell the difference easily between the crackles of something fitting into place and the sickening crunch of something about to snap. Actually programming the behavior of something, however, giving instincts to the animal, was far too abstract for him. Of course, he could always ask his family members about it, but his parents were usually too busy for that, and his brother… No.

So, because of the fact that his adversary was at least more tolerable than that thing living across the hall, he’d asked Rivera to come and help him with something. It was either that, or admit defeat on the project entirely, and he couldn’t let that happen. He sighed and turned the key to his house, feeling it click into place and then removing it from the deadbolt and shoving it back in the pocket of his sweater, then pushing the door open and letting the other boy enter the house before him. They stepped onto the carpet as the ever-present scent of Febreeze hit them in the face. Arch was comforted by it– this was home to him. His acquaintance on the other hand found it just a bit odd, wondering if Arch had bothered to clean the place just before he came over, but it didn’t look that way– There were still glasses on the windowsills and notebooks and folders all over the table.

Aside from that, Carter felt a crunch underneath his foot as he stepped on an empty wrapper from what looked like a fast food burger that had just been tossed on the ground. Arch visibly cringed at the noise as he took off his second shoe. Carter picked up the piece of garbage and started walking off to the kitchen where he presumed the trash can would be, but was stopped by Arch’s voice.

“Take off your shoes, please, we don’t want you dragging any dirt in here,” he said in an annoyed tone, as Carter nodded and kicked his off into the corner beside the door. Arch rolled his eyes and took the wrapper from his hand. “Sorry about that,” he said, his tone a bit calmer now, “we try to keep the place clean, but my brother doesn’t really care about that so I end up having to clean up after him. So sorry if the place is a bit of a mess.”

“Yeah, sure, blame your brother for your mess,” Carter retorted. He couldn’t help but smirk seeing how it ruffled Arch’s nonexistent feathers hearing that. He seemed to puff up like a chicken about to explode into a ball of claws and plumage, crushing the wrapper in his hand.

“You’ve LITERALLY seen my binder AND my locker before! You know how clean I keep those!” Arch yelled at him. Carter walked past him into the kitchen, Arch following behind and tossing the wrapper in the bin under the sink.

“Oh yeah, I forgot you’re one of the, like, four people that actually use the lockers,” he replied, his tone cool as ever as he reached for a glass and fixed himself a cup of water. Arch just sighed, straightening his back and putting his hands back in his pockets.

“...Whatever. My room’s upstairs, come on,” Arch turned and walked back out of the kitchen as Carter chugged his glass, wiping the drop that had fallen onto the marble counter up with his sleeve and then following him.

The stairwell was a pitch black hole that drank the light from the hallway for about a second until Arch pulled the string which summoned the light with a click. They ascended the stairs, a creak accompanying the third step, and Arch was painfully aware of who was right behind him the whole time, half expecting him to snatch his legs out from under him and cause him to fall. Though he supposed that would cause Rivera to take a tumble alongside him. He reached the top of the stairs and stepped aside for Rivera to follow, flicking the switch to turn the upstairs light on. Every time he entered, it seemed, the lights would come on, and every time he left and came back, they were off again for him to have to toggle once more.

Not that it bothered him, of course, at this point he’d gotten used to the cycle. If one day he came back and the lights were still on, he might have to worry that his brother had dropped dead somewhere– No, the “where” would already be apparent. Where he always was. Arch walked towards his room, “ARCH” hung on the door with decorative letters painted a clear parakeet green. Inside, there was a bed with a pattern of various green squares, a folding chair in the corner, EVERY book in the Rex Angelus series on his bookshelf, posters of what Carter thought were the most lame movies in existence adorning his walls, and of course several boxes stashed away in his closet which most likely contained various cybernetic parts and half-finished projects.

And, laid out across his bed, was a pair of… Somethings. They were made of what looked like lightweight metal, copper wire wrapped around some places, hollow plastic tube wrapped around some others. Diagrams of bird anatomy were spread out before them. The wings, as it seemed they were, had been hooked up via USB from some small board at the bases up to Arch’s laptop, the screen of which had gone blank from inactivity. Not that Carter would have been able to make any sense of it anyway; he’d caught a glance of the unfamiliar operating system he’d somehow managed to install onto his computer once and instantly decided he wasn’t going to deal with that. He pointed at the skeletal metallic appendages sprawled out in front of him.

“So… What the hell am I looking at here?” he asked Arch, who sat up on the bed and moved his mouse to awaken his machine.

“It’s what I need help with,” he said as he reopened a minimized tab, “I need to finish these so I can use them for myself. So I can fly and stuff.”

“...So they are wings then. Huh.” Carter picked up the tip of one of them, which was surprisingly light, and inspected the handiwork of the other’s craft. “What’re they made of?”

“Well, right now, they’re just made of a plasma-based aluminum alloy and some copper wire. There are a few plastic tubes but they aren’t attached to anything,” Arch answered, his mood seeming to pick up just slightly at the chance to explain what was going on in his head, “I’m not sure where I’m going to get feathers for it from, but I could probably steal some fake sinew from Simon. I don’t think he’ll really care, anyway.” His visitor listened intently, eyes trained on him.

Carter stood up from the wall he had been leaning on, shifting his gaze from the one holding the laptop to the machine itself, cringing at the awful array of characters onscreen. “What editor is that? What’s with your formatting? I can’t even tell what I’m looking at.” He knelt down and rested his arms on the side of the bed, head set down on top of his crossed elbows.

“It’s just the default text editor my operating system comes with,” Arch answered, “and I told you earlier, I don’t actually know how to write these.”

Carter stared at the block of text in front of him. The header was there, of course, followed by a variable declared right next to it, followed immediately after with the loop it was used in, and then another variable… “I’m sorry, what is this even supposed to do?” he asked. There was no annoyance in his tone, just confusion as he attempted to clean it up and indent it correctly, moreso for his own ability to read it than to fix anything.

“It was supposed to get them to sort of fold themselves, I guess,” Arch started, watching Carter lay the strings of text out in a way that, admittedly, looked a lot neater to him. He did worry about being able to find anything he wrote later, but some part of him was nonetheless grateful. “It doesn’t really do anything at the moment though.” Carter nodded and replaced a single bracket before hitting shift and enter.

Arch jumped from surprise at the sudden sensation of something brushing against his back, pushing himself away from this unseen threat only to feel relief as he noted that it was only his creations having shifted, spreading themselves out before snapping violently shut. It wasn’t quite what he’d had in mind– In fact, it looked like one of them had somehow cut clean through one of the tubes attached to them– but the fact that they had done anything at all amazed him. He found the laptop suddenly in his lap again.

“You really need to get something other than a dollar store notepad for things like this,” Carter casually exhaled, not even seeming to mean that as an insult of any kind. Arch wondered for a moment if the annoyance he’d felt towards him had ever been mutual, and, having thought about it for half a second, realized that perhaps it wasn’t.

“Thank you,” Arch muttered quietly, ashamed to know that Rivera of all people had bested him at something. The one that skipped half his classes, the one that had the scent of cigarette smoke lingering on him after lunch, the one that left with that other one to hang out in run-down shacks… Was better than him at something he wanted so badly to be decent at.

It infuriated him.
It intoxicated him.


He ignored the thought.

Carter stood up, brushing himself off despite the room being practically spotless. “Think I’m gonna head out now,” he said as he stretched, pressing his hand against the door. “Good luck with the rest of-”

“Wait,” Arch nearly shouted as he stood up, “hang on. How did you figure that out?”

Carter stopped and turned towards him, leaning against the door. “Figure out what? You saw me do it.”

Arch put a hand to his head. No, that wasn’t it. That wasn’t what he wanted to ask. “It’s just- You’re just so smart, and actually competent, and you still-” It didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t like Carter- Rivera, he corrected himself- was stupid. He’d seen him working on things before. “You still just… Let your grades rot like that. I don’t understand.”

Carter took one hand out of his pocket. “Listen, do you have any idea what you’re gonna do after school?” Despite knowing the answer, Arch was surprised by the question. Of course he did; he would be some kind of scientist like his father. It was why he had to be perfect, no matter how much it hurt, no matter how little of a life he had because of it. It was what he was supposed to do, wasn’t it? What he had to? Why would he consider anything else? Carter continued, “because I don’t. I dunno if I’ll even make it that long.” He got up off the wall, seemingly not even registering the severity of what he had just said. Arch’s heart sank. The idea that he could be in that kind of danger… It hadn’t crossed his mind before, but it hurt to hear that, almost physically. But it made sense now.
All of it made sense.
And he was sorry.

“Listen, uh…” Arch started quietly, “if you think you need somewhere to stay after all this, if it’s okay with you…” He could not believe he was saying this to Carter. “You can stay with me.” The half second of silence gripped him by the collar. “If you want.” He didn’t understand why he was so scared. Scared? No, that wasn’t it. There was no way he could be aggravated either, not after hearing what he just did. Carter almost looked shocked for a second, opening his mouth to speak and closing it again. He opted to pat Arch on the back instead.

“Thanks, man. I appreciate it,” the cynicism had left his voice. The fear exploded into terror— No, that wasn’t it, that made no sense. Arch froze completely, trying to process what was going on with him– He was impressed, concerned, anxious, envious, enamored- what?
Oh no.

That wasn’t right. That couldn’t be right. That would kill him, he couldn’t be distracted by things like that, least of all him, this delinquent, overconfident, impulsive-

“Hey, are you good?” He was reminded of his own physical space in existence by his voice. It took a few seconds for Arch to remember that he had a voice, and to Carter it looked like he might catch on fire at any moment. It was like his brain had been burned up and replaced by that of a pigeon. Maybe it was still burning.

“I’m… Good. Yeah,” Arch choked out the words. He threw the towel on his burning brain, tried to cut off the oxygen so that he could breathe. “Thanks. Again. For coming here. And helping. Thank you.” The sentence came out in pieces, and it was hard to scrape them out. Finding them was the hardest part. He forced himself to move his arms, holding his hands behind his back so they wouldn’t hang stiffly at his sides.

Carter stifled a laugh as he opened the door. “Well, thanks for having me over and all that,” he started, “you should come hang out with us more often. Live a little.” Arch flashed a palm to him as a goodbye and sat on his bed, hearing him nearly trip over something, his voice cursing how dark it was and his hand flipping the lightswitch again. Footsteps rang down the stairs and one creaked under his weight, then the door shut and he heard nothing. Needing something else to focus his mind on, Arch opened his notebook and reviewed his notes.

And that's all! I actually did this for school, but my teacher never actually got to read it...
Which sucks, because I worked really hard on it.
I'm so normal about these two (no I'm not) you have no idea.
you have no IDEA