A/N: I'm not really satisfied with this chapter. I kinda went through all the action in the first two chapters so this one feels kinda boring and anti-climatic. I hope you guys still enjoy it a little bit anyway. Let me know what you think! I live for that sweet validation.
Henry slumped his shoulders and let out a heavy sigh as he let go of Jasper, keeping his eyes pressed shut.
"You know what? I don't even have time for that," he said as he opened his eyes. "Can you just?" he pleaded to Jasper, gesturing towards the direction Piper sped off in.
"We're on it, chief," Jasper responded as he signaled for Charlotte to follow him, and they started off towards where Piper had disappeared to. Henry sighed heavily as he dragged himself over to the payphone. He put the quarters in, punching in Ray's number. It rang a few times before Ray answered.
"Ray, where the hell are you?!" Henry barked. He could hear Ray crunching on something into the receiver. "And what are you doing?!"
"Eating chips," Ray responded nonchalantly. Henry exhaled sharply.
"Ray, there was a robbery at Mouth Candy about an hour ago. They held the place up at gunpoint and made off with the money. The police still haven't found them. Why didn't you try to stop it?!"
"Oh, Schwoz!" Ray exclaimed angrily. Henry furrowed his eyebrows as he frowned. "He was supposed to take care of this," Ray mumbled.
"What does Schwoz have to do with this?"
"Yeah, uhh….I was in the shower and I didn't hear the alarm."
"Okay, so, why don't you go get them now-" Henry started, but Ray cut him off.
"Listen, Henry, I gotta go."
Henry heard the dial tone as Ray hung up and hew slowly put the phone back on the receiver, pinching the bridge of his nose. He looked up a moment later to see Jasper and Charlotte jogging towards him and he couldn't help but notice that Piper wasn't with them.
"Sorry, Henry. We couldn't find Piper," Charlotte said when they reached him. Henry pursed his lips as she shut his eyes.
"I am so done," he mumbled to himself. Just then, they heard a voice come over the loudspeaker.
"Can Piper Hart's brother, Henry, please report to the information desk? And bring your stuff. Thank you."
Henry rolled his eyes as he, Charlotte, and Jasper exchanged looks.
"Well, come on. We better go see what that is about," Charlotte declared as she started towards the gate to gather up their things. Henry just shook his head.
"I don't think so," Henry replied. Charlotte stopped dead in her tracks as she turned to face Henry.
"Listen, nobody but you guys know that I'm Piper's brother. Judging by that announcement, the security guards probably caught her, so she's safe. At least this way we could get some peace," he responded. Charlotte just stared at him.
"Henry," she said in disbelief. Henry began to rock back and forth on his heels.
"What?" he answered innocently. "We can go get her later."
"Henry," Charlotte said a little more forcefully as she crossed her arms in front of her chest, her eyes boring into him. Henry continued to watch her for a minute before he let out a sigh of defeat.
"Fine," he snapped and he started towards the gate to get his things, Charlotte and Jasper in tow.
Once they reached the information desk they saw a stout security officer standing next to it, watching them as they approached.
"Are you Piper Hart's brother?" he asked Henry. Henry took a deep breath as he looked at the security guard.
"Nope. Never heard of her before," Henry replied.
"Henry!" Charlotte growled as she hit his arm. Henry let out a sharp breath.
"Yes," he replied with a defeated tone. The guard raised his eyebrows, an annoyed expression on his face.
"Follow me," he stated. They followed the guard into a back room on the far side of the airport. It was dark and dingy, the walls and floor made entirely of concrete and brick, with one measly light bulb in the middle of the room. The room was chaotic, with a bunch of kids running around and screaming.
"Welcome to the unaccompanied minor's room," the guard said as he pushed them inside and slammed the door shut behind them.
"Great," Henry deadpanned, "does anyone see Piper?" Charlotte and Jasper began scanning the room.
"There!" Jasper said as he pointed to a corner on the far end. Sitting at a round table surrounded by a group of preteen boys was Piper, with a candy cane tucked behind her ear and a considerable pile of candy in front of her. She was holding a few cards in her hand with a cunning expression on her face. The trio made their way over to her.
"Piper, what are you doing?" Henry interrogated when he reached her. Piper scoffed as she looked up at her brother.
"What does it look like?" she retorted, "We're in the middle of a poker game. And I'm winning."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," a curly-haired brunette at the table said as he placed his hand down in front of him. "Read it and weep boys. And girl. A straight flush," he announced with a smug look on his face. He started to reach for the pot in the middle when Piper held up a hand to stop him.
"Not so fast," she said as she placed her cards down on the table, face up. "I present to you, a royal flush."
The other players let out a collective groan and a couple of them threw their cards down on the table. Piper started beaming as she grabbed the candy in the middle and started adding it to her ever-growing pile. Henry just rolled his eyes.
"Whatever. At least this way you'll stay out of trouble," he declared.
"Deal me in," Charlotte said as she sat down at an empty seat next to Piper.
"Charlotte!" Henry blurted out as he furrowed his eyebrows.
"What?! We've got nothing better to do," Charlotte said with a shrug as she picked up the hand that was dealt in front of her. Henry just sighed as he and Jasper found a spot on the floor a few feet away from the table where they decided to set up camp for the night. Henry sat down with his back leaning against the wall while with Jasper right beside. The duo remained in silence for a while, with Henry taking this time to enjoy being able to relax for the first time that night. He closed his eyes, leaning his head back on the wall behind him.
Unbeknownst to Henry, the silence made Jasper a little anxious and he started fiddling with the zipper on his jacket.
"Hey, Hen?" he said finally, his voice soft. Henry opened his eyes and turned to look at him, a concerned expression crossing his face as he could hear the slight apprehension in Jasper's voice.
"Yeah?" he replied. Jasper took a deep breath as he looked down at the floor.
"What does 'huh' mean?"
Henry chuckled a little to himself as he looked straight ahead.
"Sorry. I forgot about that. I'm not really sure how to explain it, though…" he replied, trailing off.
"Just...say whatever you're thinking," Jasper suggested with a shrug, his eyes pleading. Henry smiled.
"I don't know…I guess I just didn't expect the kiss to be…nice."
"Wow, thanks," Jasper responded sarcastically. Henry let out a breathy laugh as he turned his body somewhat towards Jasper.
"No, no! I don't mean it like that! I mean, I guess…since we're best friends…I kinda expected it to feel like I was kissing a best friend. Like, I didn't expect to really feel anything," he explained.
"You felt something?" Jasper inquired excitedly. Henry's eyes went wide.
"Not if you didn't," he responded hastily. Piper and Charlotte had been subtly listening to the conversation and they both exchanged a look as they rolled their eyes.
"Huh," Jasper replied.
"Okay, I see how sucky that feels," Henry said and he and Jasper exchanged amused smiles. The pair remained in awkward silence for a beat Jasper caught Charlotte's gaze and she mouthed "Tell him!" but Jasper just shook his head furiously. Charlotte kept adamantly nodding her head yes until Jasper finally gave in. He took a deep breath, squeezing his eyes shut.
"I did," he blurted out, opening his eyes again once he had finished, cautioning a look to his friend. Henry frowned as his eyes met Jasper's.
"You did what?"
"Feel something," Jasper answered, his voice tender. Henry's forehead creased as he looked down at the ground.
"Huh," he replied.
"Okay, we have to stop doing that," Jasper announced. Henry chuckled.
"So…you felt something and I felt something…." Henry said, pointing between the two of them as he kept his gaze glued to the ground. "What does that mean?"
Piper slammed her head down on the table while Charlotte let out a heavy sigh and rolled her eyes.
"It means you like each other!" she exclaimed. Jasper and Henry exchanged glances.
"Does it?" Henry inquired. Jasper shrugged.
"I don't know. Does it?" he echoed, his voice uncertain, each of them silently hoping that the answer was "yes".
"YES!" all of the players at the table roared simultaneously. Jasper could feel all the heat rising to his cheeks as he and Henry avoided each other's gaze.
"So, what now?" Jasper asked awkwardly, slowly looking up to meet Henry's gaze. He could see that Henry was blushing just as wildly as he was.
"I don't really know," Henry answered slowly. At that point, every player at the poker table turned to look at them with the same incredulous look on each of their faces.
"Just kiss him!" a dark-skinned boy in a flannel shirt that was sitting closest to Jasper exclaimed.
"Which one of us are you talking too?" Jasper questioned and the boy threw his hands up as he rolled his eyes.
"It doesn't! Matter!" he proclaimed. Jasper looked at Henry sheepishly.
He was certain he wouldn't be lucky enough to get to kiss Henry three times in the same day. Henry was smiling at him and Jasper felt his heart skip a beat.
"We don't have to if you don't want too," he stuttered out nervously. Henry's face fell.
"You don't want too?"
The boy in the flannel turned to look at Piper while he pressed his lips together.
"This is honestly the most painful thing I've ever witnessed," he said.
"Try living with them," she responded.
"Of course he wants to kiss you, you idiot! He's obviously got a massive crush on you!" another boy at the table exclaimed. Henry smiled at Jasper and Jasper could feel the heat crawling up his neck. to Henry placed his hand on Jasper's cheek as he slowly started to lean in.
"Finally," another boy at the table said while they all watched in anticipation. Right when Henry was just centimeters from Jasper's face, the doors slammed open.
"Henry Hart?" a security guard called out. Henry stopped and let out a heavy sigh as he let go of Jasper and held up his hand. The entire table of poker players let out a disappointed groan as they returned to their game. The guard made her way over to Henry.
"Do you know a man by the name of Ray Manchester?" she asked as she read off the name from a post-it note in her hand. Henry frowned as he looked up at her.
"Yeah, that's my boss. Why?"
"He's here to get you," she deadpanned. Henry shot up.
"Are you serious?" he questioned excitedly. The security officer was clearly unenthused.
"Yep. Gather your stuff up," she said as she started back towards the door. Jasper, Charlotte, and Piper quickly collected their stuff and started for the door.
"Hey, Piper!" one of the boys called out. Piper turned to face him. "Text me and let us know how it ends with those two, will you?" he said as he gestured towards Jasper and Henry with a smile. Piper winked before she went to rejoin her brother and his two friends. The security guard led them outside where they saw Ray standing in front of a huge, snow-covered SUV.
"What are you doing here?" Henry inquired with a huge grin. Ray just smiled. Charlotte, Piper, and Jasper started piling into the vehicle, with Piper calling shotgun.
"Eh. You sounded desperate on the phone so I'd thought come to surprise you," Ray answered. "C'mon, kid. Let's go home," Ray said as he started back towards the driver's side. Jasper peaked his head out of the back door as he looked at Henry.
"Hey, Hen, you coming? I saved you a seat," he said with a shy. Henry grinned as he climbed in beside Jasper. He could tell that Jasper was still a little unclear about how to act with him now, so he took the initiative and grabbed Jasper's hand. Jasper started to blush, he looking down at their intertwined hands before he met Henry's gaze, his lips curling into a smile. A second later, he leaned his head against Henry's shoulder just as Ray started the long journey home.