Rocky quickly forgot about his hazy what-if plan to be more impulsive and instinctive in an effort to get his brother to act more responsible, yet somehow Colt managed to do it all on his own. Maybe it was age, maybe something had just ‘clicked’ in the inexplicable ways of adolescence, but the two boys worked more smoothly than they ever had as a team over the next few days, planning and executing a rescue mission for Jo’s father (and later Jo herself) almost flawlessly, and being a big part of the obstacles that eventually foiled Jack Harding’s evil scheme of dumping illegal waste in the landfill.
The Indian reservation had been exceedingly grateful, and had ultimately shown that appreciation in the best way possible. Someone – Rocky suspected at Jo’s suggestion – had struck a deal with Doty’s Pizza Parlor on their behalf. Free pizza and unlimited game tokens for every visit for the rest of their lives. Even Tum had declared he was full – after consuming three medium pan pizzas loaded with anchovies, all by himself. Rocky and Colt had made him sleep downstairs on the couch that night, declaring that they couldn’t stand the smell. They had also chased him around with water balloons, as part of a ‘moving target exercise’, and to ‘help’ him rid himself of the last lingering remnants of the fishy smell. Grandpa had even the odds and given Tum a Super Soaker to return fire. The fight was eventually called a draw, and the older boys had let their younger sibling back into the loft.
The rest of the summer had flown by, between ninja training and Colt’s budding romance with Jo. For all of their teasing, Rocky and Tum actually liked her, mainly because she made a conscious effort to not interrupt their dynamic or relationship with their brother. She was also just as willing to team up with Tum for a baking day (and flour fight), or teach Rocky about the different types of birds and critters that habituated the reservation. She also taught Colt how to ride a horse, which he was terrified of at first but quickly took a liking to.
All in all, it was one of the best summers that the boys could remember having.
“Rocky. Phone for you.” Grandpa called, causing the teen to look up from where he was fiercely battling Tum in Mortal Kombat.
“Okay. Be there in a sec.” He replied, tossing the controller to Colt, who immediately took over with the ease of long practice. “I get my full turn when I get back!” he said, leaping over the back of the couch and going to the phone. “Hello?”
“Hey, Rock. Didn’t know if I would catch you before you guys came back.” The familiar voice of his friend Ethan filled his ear, making the teen grin.
“Oh, hey E. We’ll be back tomorrow. What’s up?” he said cheerfully, only half listening as he watched as Colt finally killed Tum’s character. “Yes! My title stands undefeated!”
“Rocky, have you talked to Emily at all this summer?” Ethan said, regaining his attention.
“No, but I never do while we’re here. Reception is pretty bad, so we’re only supposed to give this number to close friends and family. No girls.” He answered dryly. “Why?”