3. Searchin’ My Soul Tonight – Vonda Sheppard
by Renee-chan

He’s watching me again... Charlie lifted his eyes from his newspaper just in time to catch Bailey’s flitting back down to his textbook. A small smile quirked the corners of his mouth as he took the opportunity to observe his brother in turn. It had almost become a game between them. He would sit down on the couch in the living room reading a newspaper or a book, maybe going over accounts from the restaurant. At some point in the evening, Bailey would wander in carrying his homework and settle down on the floor in front of the coffee table and start studying.

And then the game would begin. Roughly 5-10 minutes after Bailey had settled in, he would feel those hazel eyes lift up to rest on him. What his brother was looking at or for, Charlie had no idea, but his brother’s gaze was almost tangible as it analyzed his form from top to bottom. This would repeat itself several times before the night was over and Bailey would pack up his books, give him a quiet smile and announce that he was going to bed. Charlie would wish him a good night and the game would be over.

It wasn’t until 3 weeks later that he got up the courage to return volley. The game started out as usual, but this time, just before he felt Bailey’s eyes turn away from him, Charlie had raised his own and they had met. It was only a moment of contact, but it was electric. Bailey had smiled, a little smirk lurking at the corner of his usual gentle grin, and let his eyes drop, almost expectantly. And Charlie had obliged, allowing his eyes to wander his brother’s form as intently as his brother’s had for him. And he found himself noticing things that he usually didn’t: the almost artful tousle of Bailey’s unruly hair, the gleaming sparkle of his hazel eyes, the way even the concentrated furrowing of his brow made his dimples stand out. It had bothered him at first, that he noticed these things. But now, after months of the same game... he found himself bothered less.

And it was not until tonight that Charlie finally understood the purpose of this game. For as the next round of watching ended, Charlie’s gaze rising as Bailey’s should have dropped... Bailey allowed himself to hold their locked gaze. And the only thing that Charlie’s mind could think to gibber at him as Bailey rose from the floor to join him on the couch was... “Checkmate.”

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