Category: The Mighty Ducks (Movies)
Series: The Mighty Queertet
Length: 30-40k words
Spring Break is here, and a holiday is just what everyone needs.
Dedication: To all the wonderful reviewers who made “Snow” hit the big 100 mark! We had 104 reviews at the time of writing this dedication. Victory and I love you all. We were so excited. We spent hours just IM-ing each other with “100!!!! Yay!!!” Literally. That’s what we did. For about two hours.
Special Dedication: To Saturniia, for being the first to catch onto Victory and Star’s grand plan. And for reviewing every single chapter. You rock our slashy world!
Disclaimer: Disney et all owns ‘em and I’ll have ‘em back before they even notice they’re gone! Terri aka Purple Girl belongs to Star, and Maya belongs to Victory. No stealage please
Date Published: 9 Apr 2002 • Date Updated: 21 May 2002 • Chapters: 30 • Words: 35,027
Spring is in the Air by Star
Star’s Notes: This is my first ever Adam POV, don’t hate me if I don’t have the same touch as Victory. Once again, I have to say, Victory rocks. I adore her.
Chapter 1: Spring is in the Air by Star
Star’s Notes: This is my first ever Adam POV, don’t hate me if I don’t have the same touch as Victory. Once again, I have to say, Victory rocks. I adore her.
“So what do you guys think?” I ask expectantly.
I wait for excited comments. Taz might do something bizarre, like, uh, yodel or something—I don’t really get Taz, she’s strange. Maya will probably wait for Taz to calm down and then answer on behalf of the two of them. Charlie will probably give me that sweet half-smile he does, and Portman… well, he might nod or something.
Nothing happens. No answer.
I look up and see that I have nobody’s attention. Maya is writing away in her notebook, Taz is playing a vicious game of thumb wars with Charlie, although she’s going to lose any minute because a butterfly has just landed on our table.
Just as I guessed, Taz stares at the butterfly, forgets the game and Charlie wins. He tosses her off the bench and she looks rather baffled to find herself on the ground.
He then offers her his hand, tugs her back up and they start the next round.
Naturally. Of course Charlie’s not listening to me. He’s got Taz.
Portman is gazing off into the distance. I snap my fingers in front of his face. He blinks and looks at me apologetically. “Sorry, man. Did you say something? I was miles away.”
I sigh in annoyance and turn to Maya, she must have heard me. “Maya, what did you think?”
She looks surprised and puts her pen down. She glances around the table, Portman shrugs at her. “Um, Spring Break, yay?”
Argh! Why is no-one listening to me? Maya at least gets slight points for getting the topic of conversation right.
I tap Taz on the shoulder. She gets distracted and Charlie wins the thumb war again. She lands on the ground again with a thump.
“What’s the worst cuss you can say to someone?” I ask her.
She and Charlie respond instantly with a sentence I’m not even going to try to repeat.
“Uh, good. Pretend I said that to all of you.”
Taz looks quite offended as Charlie hauls her back onto the bench again. She’s covered in grass stains and she’s going to black and blue from that game. Hrmm. Good.
“Why are you cursing us?” Charlie asks.
“Are you sure I’m not interrupting your thumb war?” I ask him. I sound pettier than I intended.
“Quite sure.” Taz gets up and moves to a seat next to Maya. “You’re vicious,” she tells Charlie, in a tone that makes it clear that’s a compliment. She turns her attention to her girlfriend. “What are you doing?”
Maya shuts her notebook with a snap. “Oh, just stuff for a magazine.”
“Can I read it?”
I roll my eyes, am I invisible?
“Probably not, it’s got big words in it,” she says with a grin.
Taz ignores the slight and starts pouting. “I let you see my art.”
“Sweetie, you give me no choice. You’ve painted a fairy castle on our door.”
I snort. Taz got “moved” after watching a Disney movie and ended up painting the nearest blank space, unfortunately, the nearest blank space happened to be their front door. Taz and Maya have now taped some velvet over it to hide it when there are surprise room inspections.
I turn to Charlie, hoping he can get their attention, but he’s now engrossed in a conversation with Portman.
Again I have to ask, am I invisible?
“So nobody heard my idea?” I yell.
Everyone stops and stares, and it occurs to me that I haven’t yelled at them before.
“What idea?” Fulton asks casually, walking up and ruffling Portman’s hair. He’s the only person on the planet who would dare do that.
“It’s probably best not to ask,” Portman advises him. “He looks stressed.”
Everyone starts talking again and I give up on trying to tell them my wonderful plans for Spring Break.
Chapter 2: Float Away by Victory Thru Tears
Victory’s Notes: This is the first time I’ve ever attempted Taz. Please don’t hate me if it’s not up to your usual standards—Star created her, and it’s hard to write someone you didn’t even create! Anyway, I don’t think it was a bad first attempt.
Also—Saturniia, interesting you made those comments about Banksie and Maya being fifth and sixth wheels. Never underestimate the power of Vic and Star… we may have some tricks up our sleeves!
Maya makes that sigh that I know all too well—the highly irritated yet slightly amused one. I can’t help it—I’m excited!
Holidays do this to me. I know she was ready to kill me around Christmas time, and now she’s going to spend the next ten days with me in the same mood. I’m going to be lucky if I come out alive.
She’s probably also a little annoyed because she’s having to pack for me. I didn’t force her—she volunteered herself! Of course, I’m no good at packing in the first place, and she wants to make sure I don’t take any art supplies to deface the Banks’ beach house with.
We’ve got to be the luckiest teenagers on the planet. How many parents would let their kids off to spend over a week virtually by themselves? Well yeah, we’re going to be chaperoned by Adam’s cousin, who’s in college. His own plans fell through, and he offered to look after Adam and a few friends during the break.
I’d hardly call it a few friends. Adam invited Julie and Guy along with us gays. Eight teenagers? A beach house? Ten days? It sounds like a reality TV show.
Maya holds up a jar of peanut butter and stares at me in mystification.
“Why is this in your suitcase?” she asks.
I shrug from my spot on her bed. “I was going to give it to Adam.”
“I’m sure he has food at the house, Taz.”
I sigh and roll my eyes. I swear, sometimes she treats me like an infant. “No, silly. I’m going to give it to him to use as a weapon on Charlie if he gets too annoying.”
Maya snorts. “I’m sure Adam will be touched.”
I hope so. I don’t like having him hate me. Maya insists the he doesn’t, but I can tell from the looks he gives Charlie and me when we’re together.
Not that Charles and I are even friends. I’m just helping him learn Irish.
Who am I kidding? Charlie is my best friend. I don’t want Maya and Adam to be mad about it though, so I’m trying to be as restrained as possible around Conway.
Maya zips up my bag, and holds it up to pass to me.
“Ready to go?” she asks. I nod, and take the bag from her hands. I’m surprised by its weight, and almost fall to the floor.
“Ummph! What is in this thing?” I ask her.
“Hey, don’t blame me. I actually packed enough clothes for you, so you can’t bother me on the third day of vacation trying to borrow mine,” she says, picking up her own bag.
We leave the dorm and lock it behind us, still arguing.
We don’t have to look far to find the Queertet, Guy, and Julie. Adam’s parents have kindly offered to drive us the four hours.
“It took you long enough,” Charlie calls from the car to me. I grin, and toss my bag at him.
“Put it in, slave.”
He wishes me fifteen years of head lice and I grin at him.
“Good, you’ve finally got that one down too!”
I can see Adam glaring at us out of the corner of my eye.
I quickly turn away from Charlie and put my attention on Mr. Banks, who is clearly trying to get our attention.
“How is everybody getting up there? We can have four in each car.”
I see everyone exchange glances. This is going to be tough. Portman won’t want to be with me, neither will Adam… but Adam will want to be with Charlie, and so do I. Maya will probably want to be with Julie, who will want to be with Guy, who will want to be with Charlie…
It takes us awhile, but we finally end up in the right places. I’m with Guy, Julie, and Maya with Mrs. Banks, and the others are with Adam’s father.
Yes, I’m upset that I couldn’t be with Charlie, but I’m not going to voice it. Maya was already giving me enough death glares outside.
Charlie waves at me as we pull away from the school, and I stick my tongue out at him.
I sigh, and settle in for the long ride. I think I’ll try to get some sleep, so I can be nice and perky once we arrive.
We’re barely driving five minutes when I realize that isn’t going to happen. Guy sighs and leans his head against the window from the front seat, and Mrs. Banks turns up the radio. Maya and Julie are trying to ignore my chattering, but I can tell it’s hard for both of them.
Spring break! Yeah!
Chapter 3: Blowing Off Steam by Star
I climb out of the car feeling achy. I hate long car journeys. Adam and Charlie seem to be having yet another tiff, which basically means that they cut each other dead every time a conversation gets going.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out what their fight was about. Every time we passed the car containing Taz Charlie became positively animated and started waving like a lunatic.
Actually, come to think of it, he was probably doing it to annoy Adam.
He’s in a really bizarre mood.
Just to prove the point he runs over to Taz, picks her up and twirls her around until they fall over. Adam and Maya look highly unimpressed. He starts tickling her and Taz laughs like a loon, and I hope and pray that she hasn’t slept in the car. She drove us all insane at the Christmas party.
I guess it’s nice that Taz and Charlie get on so well, but do they have to take it to the point where they exclude their respective other halves?
I see Maya’s had enough of being ignored by her girlfriend and she picks up her bag and walks towards the house.
Portman walks over to me and nods at the two of them lying on the grass then at Adam who has followed Maya. “Could be us,” he says. “She used to be your friend.”
“I’ve got enough to worry about,” I tell him.
He tilts my face so I look him in the eye. “Don’t tell me you called them again?”
What am I supposed to do? They’re my parents for god’s sake. “I’m flat broke!” I snap. “I thought they’d at least give me money if promised not to come home.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ve got money.”
Wonderful. Another thing that Portman can bail me out on. “Great. Shall I leech off you for the next two years? Your parents would love that!”
He raises his hands in a peaceful gesture and I cut him off before he can apologize. “Sorry. Long car journey.” I think if he apologizes to me one more time about the way I treat him I’ll explode.
“What?” I take a deep breath and calm myself. “Look, I’m not in the best of moods right now. I hate long journeys, can we have this conversation later?”
I pick up my bag and walk off before he can answer. I don’t move fast enough to miss his sigh of despair.
I hate this. I always seem to be angry at someone recently, and more often than not it’s Portman—and he just takes it. And then I feel guilty, which makes my temper worse.
Why on earth did I agree to come on this trip?
Oh yeah, I didn’t have anywhere else to go.
We meet Adam’s cousin, Matthew, who has assured us that he won’t spend a lot of time here, let alone come along with us anywhere. It works for me.
Mr. and Mrs. Banks fuss over Matthew for over an hour, congratulating him on his academic success, before finally leaving. Matthew leaves only minutes later after showing us the rooms.
Portman and I are sharing, no surprise there. Guy is rooming with Adam and Charlie—I don’t envy him in the slightest, if the way they’re glaring at each other is an indicator of their mood, and the girls are together in another room.
Naturally, the girls bag the prettiest room—complete with its own balcony. I don’t care either way, as long as I don’t have to share.
I manage to get away from the chaos by locking myself in the shower. I’m not going to be popular, I think I used all the hot water, and there are three girls in the house.
I’m actually beginning to feel almost human as I walk down the hall. Naturally it’s only a fleeting feeling.
I watch as Maya storms out of Charlie’s room looking highly agitated. Only moments later Charlie follows, looking fairly upset himself.
It’s the Christmas party revisited.
Chapter 4: Hot Air by Victory Thru Tears
I wander out of the house, not sure where to go. Maya had shot out of the door right before me, and I guess I’m now looking for her.
I had no idea that Adam still felt so strongly about Taz and me. It is so annoying, the way he always shoots glares at me and makes snide comments. Taz and I are friends. I’m not even allowed to have friends anymore? I don’t get Adam. I don’t complain when he hangs out with his other friends.
Ok, maybe he doesn’t have that many other friends. But I don’t complain when he hangs out with Maya.
I spot her sitting on the sand. I quickly walk over to her, and sit down.
“What is his problem?” I ask, the contempt apparent in my voice.
“What do you mean?” I notice that she isn’t meeting my eyes.
“Banks. Why can’t he get over the fact that Taz and I are friends?”
“He does have a first name, you know. You should call him Adam once in a while, it might make him feel more like a real person.”
I look at her in surprise as she finishes snapping at me.
“What are you talking about?” I ask her in disbelief.
“Nothing, I’m just saying that his name isn’t Banks. It’s Adam.”
“Are you mad about Taz, too?”
“I wouldn’t say mad. By now I’m used to it.” She purposely turns her head the other way. “Anyway, why do you care? You don’t even like me.”
“What are you talking about?” I repeat.
“Let’s face it Charlie—we don’t get along. I’ve never forced the issue because you seemed content with just knowing Taz. Maybe it’s better if we keep it like that… me and Adam, you and Taz.”
“Why are you two getting so upset about this?” I ask her. I wasn’t aware that she felt like this too.
“You’re always with her. Adam gets really mad. Do you think you could consider him a little bit? He really loves you, and he only wants to be around you.” She gets up and brushes off her behind. “Anyway, I’m going to go. Adam probably wants some company.”
She leaves me in shock, and I try to gather my thoughts.
I’m alone for a few minutes when Taz comes to sit by me.
“Hi.” She doesn’t sound like the happy Irish girl I’m used to.
“Hi.” My tone is as dismal as hers.
“I’m sick of being disliked.” She leans her head against my shoulder, and I put my arm around her. This probably isn’t going to help our situation, but at this point I’m beyond caring. If my friends are going to act like jerks, then I’m going to stick with what I have.
“She told me that she was sick of seeing me flirt with you,” Taz confides. I can hear the trembling in her voice.
“He said that I act like your boyfriend and not his, and I should just go sleep with you.” I sigh.
She whimpers, and I tighten my grip around her. Taz has never cried around just me. I don’t think I’m going to like it.
“We’re just friends…” she says softly.
“I know, Taz…” I tell her, stroking her hair.
I hear snorting behind me, and look up to see—who else?—Adam and Maya.
“To think, I was going to come down here to apologize.” He sneers. Maya doesn’t look angry, just a little hurt. They both spin on their heels and walk off together, hand in hand.
I can’t help feeling very straight right now. But there is a reason I don’t like girls, and Maya is really making me remember it. Adam’s not helping either.
Chapter 5: Angry Updraft by Star
I wake up early. I always do in new places. The first week at Eden Hall was the only time I’ve ever woken up on time for practice. After I get used to a place I can sleep for days.
Fulton’s asleep in my arms and shows no sign of waking. I stroke his hair and he smiles in his sleep. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that smile. He’s not happy, he hasn’t been for a long time.
He won’t talk to anyone but me—and he barely talks to me about what’s going through his mind. I keep asking him if he’d consider telling someone, like Bombay or even possibly Orion, but he won’t. It’s not like they don’t already know he’s gay, I know that’s not really the point, but it would make telling them a lot easier.
I decide to head downstairs and find something to drink. If I stay up here I’ll just fidget and wake him up.
I find Taz and Charlie asleep on the couch, MTV is playing faintly in the background. Maybe I should wake them up. I know if I was Maya or Adam I wouldn’t want to see them curled up together.
What a wonderful way to mend the rift. Don’t apologize for spending time with someone else, spend more time with that someone else.
I know they’re friends, and they both love Adam and Maya respectively, but they seem to forget their other halves when they’re together.
And I know I wouldn’t like to see Fulton with his arms around someone else so tightly that you couldn’t slide a credit card between them.
As I’m debating what to knock over to wake them, Charlie stretches and yawns, knocking Taz off the edge of the couch in the process. She hits the floor with a thump but continues sleeping. Charlie looks at her in mild amusement, then realizes I’m in the room.
He gets up, stepping carefully over Taz and walks over to me. “We didn’t think we’d be popular if we went back to our rooms,” he explains groggily.
“Guilty conscience, Charlie?” I ask. “Because you gave me an excuse before I even asked.”
“You too?” he says, with a note of resignation.
“I don’t want to get involved,” I tell him. “So, come and help me make a drink, this kitchen has far too many gadgets.”
He sighs and follows me. “Everyone’s overreacting.”
“If that’s true, why are you so defensive?” We’re obviously going to have to talk about this. I love the fact that Charlie is obsessed with how everyone is reacting to him and Taz being friends, but hasn’t even noticed that Fulton hasn’t been himself for months.
He’s known Taz not even half a year, he and Fulton go back over four years.
Ducks fly together?
“It’s alright for you, everything’s perfect in your life,” he snaps.
I am really sick of being told that. From Fulton I’ll take it, from Charlie I won’t. Fulton has reason to be bitter, Charlie’s life is pretty damn good and he’s only got himself to blame that Maya and Adam are pissed off at him.
“Charlie, you’re the only reason your life isn’t perfect.” I walk out, deciding to forget about getting myself a drink.
Maybe I’m used to this place now and can sleep for the next ten days.
Chapter 6: Calm Before The Storm by Victory Thru Tears
Maya sits down on the sand next to me, around the big bonfire that Matthew had built right before leaving for a party. He said he’d be back at around three, but we all know we won’t see him until tomorrow morning. The weather is beautiful for Minnesota, and although there’s a cool breeze, we’re all dressed in shorts and t-shirts. We’ve all just come from dinner. Well, Guy, Julie, Maya and I have. The Bash Brothers are eating somewhere else, and I don’t know where Taz and Charlie are.
Maya and I spent the day on the beach. She wrote, Julie and Guy swam, and I just sat there and took in the scenery. This beach house is my entire childhood. Almost every defining moment of my life took place here. Well, here or on the ice.
Or with Charlie.
I sigh. Maya puts a comforting hand on my arm. I’m glad she’s here. I feel really connected to her lately. She deals with things the same way I do (not very well) but it’s almost like she knows what I’m thinking. In a parallel universe, I’d definitely date her.
Don’t ever tell Charlie I said that.
Julie and Guy sit down by us, warming their wet bodies on the flame. It’s not cold outside, but getting out of the ocean is always a shock.
I watch them smiling and laughing with each other. They’re so pathetic. Can’t they put aside whatever pride or confusion they have and just give up the charade? We all know they want each other.
The Bash Brothers sit down by us. Fulton looks much happier than he has for the past few weeks. I know I haven’t been the greatest friend to him. To tell the truth, I don’t know how. We’ve never been especially close. I think something’s going on with his family. In fact, I know something’s going on with his family. But I figure if he can’t come out and tell me, it’s none of my business.
“Hey, I have a good idea,” Julie says slyly, breaking all of us out of our trances. “Let’s play Truth or Dare.”
“Yeah!” Guy is enthusiastic about the idea.
I glance at Maya, and she shrugs. “It could be fun.”
“Where are Charlie and Taz?” Julie asks, looking around.
“Here, I’ll get them.” Portman stands up, and yells loudly. “CONWAY! MCDONALD! GET DOWN HERE!”
A few moments later I see two figures climbing down from the rocks by the house. I hear Maya sigh from next to me, and I take her hand in mine.
“We’re playing truth or dare,” Guy informs them as they sit down across the circle from Maya and me.
“Ooh, that’s so much fun!” In the light of the fire I can see the can of Coke that Taz is clutching in her hand. Maya has a troubled expression on her face. She may be arguing with Taz, but she’s still concerned about her health. Not that Taz’s health is ever at a real risk, per say… but if she’s annoying and Portman’s around, there could be some bloodshed.
Charlie glowers at Maya smugly. He’s probably given Taz the soda.
“Anyway, who wants to start?” Julie asks. I think she can sense the tension.
“I will,” Fulton volunteers. He sounds somewhat enthused. “Um… Taz, truth or dare.”
“Dare,” she answers giddily.
“I dare you to… skinny dip.”
Everyone choruses with groans, but Charlie’s laughing so hard that he’s fallen over. Taz shrugs, and walks towards the ocean, taking off her clothes as she gets nearer to the water. I sigh, and look away. This isn’t exactly interesting. As soon as she’s in the water, Charlie hops up and runs to get her clothes.
“Charles!” She thunders from the water. “Give those back!”
Portman catches the venomous glare on Maya’s face. “Dude, just give them back.”
Charlie reluctantly obliges. I think it’s only because it was Portman who asked.
A damp Taz sits down by the fire a few moments later, wringing the water out of her purple hair. She looks around at us for a few moments, and her gaze stops on me.
“Adam. Truth or dare.”
“Truth,” I answer confidently. There is no way in hell I am getting a dare from that girl.
“Ok.” She thinks for a moment. “Oh!”
I don’t like the devious look on her face.
“How big is your… you know.” She motions to my lap.
Everybody cracks up, but I stare at her dumbfounded. Does she think I’m going to actually answer that? I shake my head at her, letting her know that she’s crazy.
“Oh, fine, well how big is Charlie’s then?”
Our friends don’t know whether to laugh or gasp. They do both.
“Well, honey, I’d think you’d already know that,” Maya mutters the exact thought going through my mind.
Taz looks hurt, and sits back a little bit. Charlie looks like he wants to pat her shoulder sympathetically, but thinks better of it when he sees Maya’s face.
“Ok, fine. Um, when did you first fall for Charlie?”
I sigh. Perfect time for the perfect question from the perfect asker. “I don’t know. Before the Goodwill Games.”
“Oh, be more specific!” Julie prods.
I don’t really want to get into this… but I continue nonetheless. “The day we found out about being Team USA, we were playing hockey and he fell. I don’t know. I let him get a band aid from my house, and I just knew it.”
From the half smile on Charlie’s face, I think he remembers the day that I’m referring to. I look away quickly. I can’t let myself keep falling for the same old tricks. Just because he has a cute smile doesn’t mean that I’m not mad at him.
“That’s sweet,” Taz says softly. “Your turn.”
I look around. “Guy. Truth or dare.”
“Um, dare.” Guy grins. “I feel like walking on the wild side.”
“Ok. Well, um…” I pick something off of the top of my head. “Kiss Portman.”
Everyone stares at me in shock. I smile mysteriously. “With tongue.”
Fulton starts to giggle. Yes, Fulton giggles. Portman looks at me, indicating with his fist that he’s going to kill me. I shrug.
“Gotta do it, truth or dare.”
Guy looks absolutely horrified. Actually, I think it’s a good thing that I picked Portman for him to kiss and not Fulton. Portman is more of the type to pound somebody for touching his man.
“Hurry up!” Julie pushes Guy a little. He reluctantly leans over towards Portman, who is next to him. He pecks him on the cheek.
We all make noises of disapproval.
“I do believe Adam said tongue, my dear!” Fulton says cheerfully.
“Hell. No.” Guy says firmly. “No offense, of course.”
“None taken. I’d probably say the same thing if asked to kiss Taz. But that’s also because…” Portman mumbles the rest of his sentence.
Taz looks severely hurt, and Charlie looks pissed off.
“Argh, fine.” Guy leans over and kisses Portman square on the lips. It lasts for less than a second, and Guy pulls away, bright red.
“Soft lips, for a guy,” Portman teases. Guy hits him on the arm. He knows he was kidding around.
“Alright, just for that, I’m going to go with Julie.”
“Fine. Who do you like?”
Not the most subtle attempt, Guy Germaine. Your girl-getting tactics should have changed in the years, even though I know the last girl you tried to get was in fifth grade.
We all know Julie’s lying.
“Not true, not true, not true!” Maya sings softly. Julie shoots her a death glare.
“Seriously, no one,” she tries to say confidently.
“Oh, come on, we all know you’re hot for Guy!” Fulton seems to have really come out of his recent depression. He laughs as Julie looks fiercely at him. “Haha, looks can’t kill.”
Guy has a shy smile on his face, and he’s looking at the sand.
“I hate you,” Julie mutters to no one in particular. She looks up brightly. “Portman! Truth or dare.”
“Ooh, this should be interesting. Um… kiss Taz.”
“Did I not just say I’d never in hell do that?!” He thunders as Fulton falls over laughing.
Julie sighs. “Fine. Kiss… Adam.”
I look around in surprise. Huh? Portman shrugs his shoulders, and I look at Fulton imploringly. I’ll only do it if he says it’s ok. He shrugs back, a smile on his face. Good, at least he’s not easily jealous.
Portman and I lean towards each other for a quick smooch. As he sits back down he grumbles, “Why am I having to do all of the kissing?”
Maya giggles and rests her head on my shoulder. Taz gives her a look much like she’s been getting from her girlfriend. Charlie sighs, and looks away. Fulton and Portman are watching us intently.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Guy take Julie’s hand. I’m glad they have each other to escape from us with.
Chapter 7: Hurricane Taryn by Star
I glare down at the sand. This game used to be fun. People used to love playing it with me because there was nothing I wouldn’t ask and no dare I wouldn’t take. Seems I’m with the wrong crowd. They’d prefer it if I just faded into the background.
Portman turns to Guy, who picks truth, having learnt his lesson about taking dares from us. Portman asks Guy who he’s into, since he and Julie are already holding hands I think it was a really redundant question.
Guy turns to me. “Taz, truth or dare?”
I give him my big Taz-grin. “Truth.”
“What color is your hair naturally?”
I gawp at him. I can’t answer this. Nobody knows my real hair color, I even dye my eyebrows to hide it. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my hair color, but I just like being purple, it suits me better. “I’ll take a dare instead.”
“That’s against the rules!” Fulton objects.
“I don’t want to answer the question,” I tell him.
“It’s not like you’re giving away some big secret,” Adam adds.
Why isn’t Maya sticking up for me? I know she hates me, but she knows that I like to keep it secret.
“Leave her alone, she doesn’t want to answer.”
It’s not Maya that comes to my rescue. It’s Charlie.
I look over to Adam and Maya who are glaring at the two of us.
“I’ll take a dare,” I repeat. “I just don’t want you all to try and picture me without purple hair. It’s my trademark.”
“Fine, you want a dare?” Adam asks in an odd tone. “The dare is to kiss Charlie. Go on, Taz. You know you want to.”
Maya nods at me. “Quit with the innocent act. This is your opportunity to have a no-strings kiss with your best friend.”
I hate this game. Part of me wants to jump on Charlie and give him the kiss of his life, just to see their faces. The other part of me doesn’t—and not just because I’m backed into a corner. It’s not like that between us. We’re just friends. Why don’t they see that?
Charlie looks as pissed off as I do with them. The other four look somewhere between anxious and irritated.
I don’t want to make this choice. Which is when Charlie makes it for me. He leans over, tilts my face towards his and gives me a gentle kiss on the lips, not much more than a peck.
“Are you done attacking her now?” he asks.
Adam gives him a look that makes it clear that he’s nowhere near done, but now is not the time. Maya also glares at Charlie, then rests her gaze on me, her arm firmly around Adam. I get it, she’s pissed off.
Fine. I’m sick of having people pissed off at me because I’m not a friendless loser.
“Charlie, truth or dare?” I ask.
“Are you sick of this game yet?” I don’t just mean Truth or Dare, and he knows it.
“Yes, I am,” he says, then turns to Maya. “Maya, truth or dare?”
She eyes him coolly. “Truth.”
He smiles. “Now, we all know you’re convinced that Taz and I have something more than friendship. So my question is, have you ever had a heterosexual dalliance—besides that kiss with Adam, that is?”
Maya pales at the question. That’s odd. Why does she look so worried?
“It’s an easy enough question, Maya,” I say.
“Guys, maybe it’s enough for one night.” Julie says hesitantly.
“We’ve all bitched at Taz for a nice long time,” Charlie says. “I just asked Maya a simple question.”
Maya glares at him. “Fine. Yes, I have.”
I feel my Irish temper start to rise. “When? Who with?” I ask in a low voice.
“Only one question, that’s the rules.” Adam tells me, for once he’s not getting at me. He’s just trying to save Maya the way Charlie just saved me.
“Screw the rules!” I snap. “Maya?”
“It was just a guy,” She snaps back.
Charlie puts a hand on my shoulder, trying to calm me down. It’s not going to happen.
I barely notice as Julie, Guy and the Bash Brothers make hasty exits.
“So you were just testing the water or something?” I ask her hopefully.
She walks towards me and shakes her head. “We dated for a few months.”
“You what?” Maya dated a guy? “So, you broke up with him because you’re gay?” I can tell by the look on her face that the answer will be no.
She shakes her head again. “No… I…” She can’t seem to find the words.
“So you lied to me!” I shout.
“I did not lie to you!” she responds hotly. I’m mad, she’s mad. This could end in bloodshed, or worse… this could end us. “I just didn’t tell you I like guys too.”
“No,” I say, feeling the tears burning in my eyes. “You lied to me. Right after you kissed Adam—”
“Taz, get over it! He kissed me!”
“Like it matters!” I scream. “You lied to me! You told me that you didn’t like guys! All this time you’re convinced that I’m having a fling with Charlie and you’re the one who’s bisexual!”
I hold my hands up. “Don’t talk to me. I don’t want to hear it.”
With that I run off, I can’t bear to be around her any more.
I head towards the house, then stop in my tracks. The others will be there, and I don’t want to see them. They don’t like me when I’m happy, they’ll hate me when I’m like this.
I turn towards the garden, I can stay out there until everyone’s gone to bed. I fall over something in the dark but don’t get up.
My mind is whirling. Maya likes guys as well as girls? I can’t deal with this. I can’t believe she lied to me. Maya has always been the person I counted on for the truth, but she’s no better than anyone else.
Charlie, who else? I wipe my eyes and sit up. “I’m here.” My voice comes out in a pitiful croak.
He sits down next to me and pulls me into his arms, stroking my hair soothingly. “It’ll be ok, Taz.”
“No, it won’t,” I tell him. “She lied to me. First my Dad, now Maya.”
“What’s your Dad got to do with this?”
I ignore his question and pull myself deeper into his arms. “Don’t ever lie to me, Charlie,” I beg. “I can’t deal with it. My Dad lied to me, he let me down, Maya has too. You can’t lie to me, because you’re the only person I still trust.”
“I promise I’ll never lie to you,” he says softly.
I hope he doesn’t break that promise.
Notes: To anyone who thought Taz overreacted about the hair question, that wasn’t there for show. I’ve written Taz in several genres, and she never tells her natural hair color, not to anyone.
Chapter 8: Whirlwind of Confessions by Victory Thru Tears
Author’s Note: First of all. To Dana—I know Minnesota isn’t by an ocean! Ahh, I live so close to there, I’d be ashamed if I did. However, if I did type ocean, my apologies. I meant lake. There are many lakes in Wisconsin (my state) and Minnesota that have beaches, so they’re at one of those. Had to clear that up, didn’t want you thinking I was total idiot. Next in line, I (Victory) have started a new story. It’s called She Screams in Silence, and can be found under my own penname. It has nothing to do with the Ducks, but it has everything to do with Maya. I don’t know, you might like it, and it might provide a nice background to her and Taz’s relationship. Lastly, we love the reviews you guys have been giving us! Especially the ones on your opinions of the characters or situations, those let us know what you like and what you don’t like. Thanks so much!
As Taz storms off, Charlie turns to glare at us.
“I hope you both are happy now!” he spits at me. He follows Taz, who has already run up to the house.
He’s barely four feet away when I burst into tears. Adam holds his arms out and catches me before I fall to the ground. He tries to soothe me, but I keep sobbing into his shoulder. He sits down, pulling me onto his lap. I wipe away some of my tears and mutter angrily.
“I’m surprised you want to touch me, aren’t you afraid I’m attracted to you?”
He sighs. “Not at all. Are you attracted to me?”
I smile slightly. “No. Sorry.”
“It’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok. I mean, I’m gay. But it makes me feel kind of bad about the way I’ve been treating Charlie about Taz. He is just trying to be her friend.”
I whimper, and the tears start pouring out. His eyes widen and he pulls me close to him again.
A few minutes pass, and he quietly speaks again.
“What happened, that you’re so upset about? I mean, you don’t need to tell me, I’m just curious,” he adds quickly.
“Adam, could you say that I’m your best friend?” I ask him.
“Yes.” He smiles at me.
“Do you trust me?” I don’t smile back.
“Could you even say that you… love me?” It’s deep, I know. But I can’t divulge this secret without knowing.
Adam tilts my head up to his and for a fleeting moment I’m terrified that he’s going to kiss me again. He looks into my eyes. I think he’s trying to read the secret in them.
“Yes,” he answers confidently.
I take a deep breath. I have never spoken a word of what I am about to tell him to anyone. I say this, and he merely smiles.
Here goes nothing.
“Taz and I have gone out for about a year and a half. You know that.”
“But you probably don’t know that we were broken up for the entire summer. Things were getting tense between us, like they are now, and we both exploded at the end of the year. Broke up the last day of school, didn’t speak for weeks. I was taking a summer drama workshop back home in Wisconsin, and I met a boy there. He was interested in me, but honestly, I felt nothing for him. We spent almost every day together because of the acting class, and my friends kept pushing me to date him. And so I did. For a while, at least. But things started to change, and I realized why I didn’t like him, or guys, in the first place. He was a pig, and by the end of our relationship (which lasted about two months) I knew he was only using me for one thing. And after that was done…”
I choke up. I can’t get the rest out. I swallow the lump in my throat and continue.
“After that was done, I was left with nothing from him. It was an empty relationship, and he was only after that one thing again. I wouldn’t let him have it and I knew things were going to get ugly. Thank god summer ended, and I went back to school in Minnesota. Taz called me about a week before the term started, and we made up. On the first day of school we officially got back together. And that’s it.”
“No, that’s not it,” Adam says in a strange tone. It’s neither firm nor soft. “What was that one thing?”
“Adam, don’t,” I whisper.
“You’re not serious.” It’s of an angry statement. I know he’s not mad at me, he’s mad at the nameless boy.
“I didn’t say a word.”
“Are you a virgin?”
“Fucking hell,” he says, putting a protective arm around me. I’ve never heard him swear like that before. He kisses my forehead a few times, then chuckles bitterly.
“You know, this is quite a heavy secret to have been dealing with for the last eight or so months.”
“You’re telling me.” I sigh.
Taz and Charlie aren’t sleeping in their rooms again.
I haven’t been able to sleep, so I decide to get up and try to read in another room, as not to disturb Julie by turning the light on. I grab ‘Salem’s Lot and get out of bed. Not exactly good reading material this late at night, especially not for someone as faint-hearted as me, but I love horror books. Note that I said books, not movies.
I walk out of the room. Passing by the living room I see the TV on, playing Happy Days. Taz and Charlie are sprawled on the couch. I try not to let this sight bother me too much, and I continue to the balcony that overlooks the water. Seems like a nice place to sit and read about vampires.
I stop as I come to the screen door. There’s already someone sitting out there.
Fulton’s not a loud crier, but I can hear his weeping from where I am. He’s curled up in a small ball on a couch in the corner.
My heart goes out to him.
Yes, I know something is wrong with him. I’d have to be completely self-centered and stupid to not. And thank you very much, I think that I’m neither.
We’re not that great of friends. He was always Taz’s friend, although lately that’s not been the case. But I’d like to think that by now, with all of the Queertet/Lesbian bonding that has been going around since the dance in October, he can at least talk to me.
Without thinking of the consequences, I open the screen door and let him know of my presence. He looks up in alarm, and I can tell that he’s close to leaving. I sit down next to him on the couch, and put my hand on his back. He slowly starts to cry again, and I put both of my arms around him. He holds on to me. I don’t say a word, because I know that it won’t help him. I just sit by him, rocking him as he cries.
Chapter 9: Still of the Night by Star
Notes: We needed a break from the angst! Thanks for the reviews everyone. We love ‘em!
I hear Maya get up and consider asking her if she’s ok, but I don’t really know her that well. If she is upset, she’s probably gone to talk to one of the others.
Part of me wishes I hadn’t come on this trip. I thought it would be fun, you know, eight people just cutting loose and having a good time. I didn’t realize that all the couples were having problems.
And a big part of me is really glad I came. I’ve liked Guy for a long time and I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to spend a week with him for anything.
I hear someone moving around downstairs and wonder who’s still awake… ok, I’m wondering if Guy’s still awake. Curiosity gets the better of me and I get up and head down the stairs.
I peek in the living room. I must have been mistaken, no-one’s up. Taz and Charlie are scrunched on the couch asleep for the second time in as many nights.
I turn to go back to my room and smack straight into Portman. I nearly scream the house down in shock but manage to control myself.
“What are you doing awake?” I hiss, sounding a lot more suspicious than I meant to.
He shrugs. “I was looking for Fulton. Couldn’t sleep.” He nods towards the living room. “You wanna come outside and talk to me? I don’t want to risk waking the purple peril.”
I grin at his nickname for Taz and nod. I follow him out of the back door and he closes it quietly. For a big guy he moves very softly.
“So, what are you doing awake?” he asks me.
“I couldn’t sleep either. Too much stress.” I give him a look. “Is it always like this around you guys?”
He thinks it over carefully. “Not always. I can think of at least three occasions that all six of us were happy at the same time.”
I grin. I’ve never really talked to Portman before, and now that we’re talking I’m not sure what I’m going to say. “Weren’t you looking for Fulton?”
His face falls a little. “Yeah, but he’s ok. He was… um, talking to Maya, so I decided to go back to bed, which is when I bumped into you.”
“Oh.” Again, I’m lacking in things to say to him.
“I have to ask, Jules. What on earth possessed you to come on holiday with us? We’re all insane.”
I blush. I think the whole world knows my ulterior motive for coming here.
He grins at me, immediately catching on. “So, Guy Germaine. Have you kissed him yet? Was he good? Am I sounding horribly camp yet?”
I smother a laugh. If someone told me six months ago that I’d be sitting with Dean Portman having a ‘girly’ conversation I’d have laughed until I fell over. “No, you’re not quite horribly camp yet, but almost,” I tell him with a smile. “And you’d know more about his kissing skills than me!”
“I don’t quite think I’m his type. And he’s not mine. I prefer dark haired enforcers.”
“So much for opposites attract.”
“I could say the same for you. You and Guy are both blonde and seem like nice kind people…” He tails off. “I’m afraid that’s all I know about you two.”
I shrug and wrap my arms around my legs. “I don’t know anything about you and Fulton except you’re both really big, really strong and you seem to like loud music and each other.”
“That’s pretty much it.” He looks at me. “So, are you sorry you came? Things have a habit of getting crazy around here.”
I consider the question. “No.” I see him grinning at me. “My feelings about Guy aside, Maya seems nice, and you’re ok, I guess.” I laugh. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with you before.”
“People don’t expect to be able to talk to me,” he responds. “They don’t think they can get low enough down the food chain to communicate with me.”
I blush, I had once thought that he was nothing more than a big goon. “Sorry.”
“I wasn’t getting at you. I was just saying.” He tells me. “Anyway, this conversation is getting deep for one so late. Let’s be superficial again. When are you going to jump on Guy?”
I laugh again. “No, let’s talk about you and Fulton, how and when did you get together? I want all the smushy details.”
He takes a seat next to me. “On one condition. That I get the gossip about you and Guy before anyone else.”
“Done.” We shake hands and he starts to tell me about his love life.
Again, I have to say, six months ago, who’d have thought?
Chapter 10: Eye of the Storm by Victory Thru Tears
Matthew got back from his party at four in the morning. Because I was sleeping on the couch, I heard him stumble in, drunk out of his senses. He woke up again at around noon, and offered to take us into town for the rest of the day.
We gladly accepted.
Taz and I walk around the small town, occasionally ducking into shops. The Bash Brothers have gone to eat at a diner, and Julie and Guy are going to see a movie. Awww, their first date.
Last I saw Maya and Adam, they were sitting on a park bench together, conversing quietly.
She makes me sick. It’s no problem that she’s bisexual, I’m not a heterophobe. Also, I myself am bisexual. Sure, I said that Linda meant nothing to me, which she didn’t… but I had to feel at least a little attracted to her to kiss her. However, my gay side is more prevalent, which is why I dumped her for Adam. But the reason I’m upset with Maya is that she flat out lied to Taz. I’ve given Adam the occasional white lie, but… no, no buts! This isn’t about me! This is about how Taz now feels like crap due to her girlfriend. And as Taz’s best friend, it’s my duty to cheer her up.
Right now, though, my mind is on other things.
“Taz, remember last night, when you were talking about your dad?”
“Yeah.” Her voice sounds uncertain.
“What were you talking about when you said that he let you down?”
She sighs. “I… I don’t know.”
She looks up at me with her big purple contact lenses. “He promised me when my mum died that he’d take care of me. And he hasn’t. He beat the living hell out of me when I told him that I was gay.” She laughs bitterly. “Ironic, isn’t it? I took all of those beatings for Maya. And look where it landed me.”
I stop walking and grab Taz off of her feet, pulling her into a hug. I don’t know what to tell her. My mother was happy, so was my soon-to-be father. They both love Adam. Of course, everyone loves Adam. Adam leads a perfect little preppy rich boy Banksie life that…
I think I’m getting off of the subject.
“Hey, Taz, do you want to go to an ice skating rink?” I ask her suddenly.
“What for, I don’t want to play hockey!” She sounds a little bitter. I think it’s because Adam was teaching Maya.
“No, let’s just go skating.” I see her skeptical look. “Come on, it’ll be fun!”
She sighs. “Well… fine! But only because you’re you.” She hops down from my hug and we start to walk back to the ice skating rink we had passed earlier.
She holds onto my arm and we skate onto the ice shakily. After a few times around the rink, I turn to grin at her.
“See, you’re doing it! You’re skating!”
She cuts off as she slips and falls onto the ice. We both laugh, and I respond by skating away, leaving her stranded. She gets up slowly and follows me. I stop to take her hand again, but she jumps onto my back.
“Umph!” I grunt, but adjust her so that the weight is nothing to me. I start to skate, and she laughs with joy as we make our way along the ice.
I spot Maya and Adam just putting on skates. Maya looks up in our direction, and I prepare myself with a glare. She doesn’t return it. Instead, she bites her lip almost nervously. Adam asks her something, and she nods. He turns to me and beckons for us to come over by them.
“No,” Taz says firmly in my ear.
Let’s see. Listen to Adam, who hasn’t spoken a nice word to me in about the last week, or my best friend Taz? That’s a tough choice.
I shake my head, and we—I—continue skating. We’re skating right past them as an older couple looks at us. The woman smiles and shakes her head at us.
“You kids. But I do have to say, you two do make a very cute couple!” she says as we pass.
I almost felt bad seeing the expression on Maya’s face. Has she done a 180 in the past day? From her look, it seems like she might have. Adam’s not saying anything either, just looking out onto the ice. Taz sighs and sets her chin on my head.
“I’m going to talk to her,” the female voice says quietly. If we hadn’t been so close, we wouldn’t have been able to hear her over the TV.
“Are you sure? You know how she’s going to react.” The male sounds doubtful.
“I know. But still. She has to know. She’ll react even worse if I wait.”
“You’re probably right. You know her better.”
“Yeah. But listen, Adam. Thank you for listening. I felt so good to get it off of my shoulders.”
“It was no problem. It’s what I’m supposed to do as your… you know.”
Taz looks at me in confusion as we stand on the other side of the doorway. We weren’t meant to hear that conversation, but we did anyway.
‘Your, you know?’ No, Adam… we don’t know, but we sure would like to hear it from your own mouth!
Why didn’t I think of it before? Adam’s obviously got something going on with Maya! It all fits together—pretend to be jealous of me to stop me from being suspicious of him… he already kissed her, that has to mean something… she is bisexual… it’s all just one big conspiracy! Hearing that snippet of a conversation as we walk in from the car later that night made all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Maya and Adam pull away from their hug as Taz and I walk around the doorway. Taz has an expression of mixed anger and jealousy. I have no idea what my own face looks like.
Julie and Guy are sitting on a couch together. I remember their date, but I’m far too wrapped up in my own business to ask them about it right now. The Bash Brothers are watching TV, trying not to pay attention to us.
“Taz,” Maya says weakly. “Just who I wanted to talk to.”
“Yes, I’ve heard.” Taz snaps.
“What did you hear?”
“All about Adam being your, and I quote, ‘you know!’”
Maya rolls her eyes. “Taz, please. He’s my best friend.”
“Yes, and Charlie’s mine, you still were suspicious of me!” Taz’s voice is getting strangely high-pitched.
“I know. And please Taz, I’m so sorry about that all, I just—”
“Ok, so my behavior has been a little erratic recently, but you used to love me for that. Now I’m just aggravating. I love the way you talk about me, have I mentioned that? I love the whole ‘This is Taz, my really annoying girlfriend’ attitude you have. Actually, to be fair, almost everyone here has picked up that little trait.”
She whirls around to face the Bash Brothers. “You two used to like me! Now you just hate me because you think I’m the reason that Adam and Charlie are having problems. Has it ever occurred to you that the reason I like Charlie so much is because he’s the only person here who doesn’t sigh with resignation every time he sees me? And I wouldn’t spend time with him if he didn’t want me around, the fact that I never talk to you two should be proof of that!”
Fulton sighs, reluctant to join the argument. “Taz, I’ve got a lot on my mind and you’re not helping.”
Taz snorts. “Yeah, well so have I.” She looks around the room. “Yeah, who’d have thunk Taz had problems, that can’t be right. Taz doesn’t have problems, she causes them! Just because I’ve not thrown myself a pity party like Fulton, doesn’t mean I’m not unhappy.”
Portman looks highly pissed off at her last comment. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure I do. Fulton came back from Thanksgiving covered in bruises and hasn’t been home since. I’m not stupid, no matter what you lot think of me. The only reason I haven’t tried to talk to him about it is because he doesn’t want me around.”
She glares around the room. “So, we’ve all noticed Fulton’s problem. Did any of you notice mine? No, you’ve been too busy finding me irritating. Did it ever occur to you to wonder why I suddenly became more insane than usual?”
“Taz…” Maya tries.
“I haven’t been home since Thanksgiving either.” She looks at Maya. “But you knew that. You never wondered if I was ok about that, did you? You just assumed, hey, it’s Taz, she doesn’t have any real feelings. Well, guess what? I do! I took five beatings because I love you!”
“Taryn!” Maya yells, tears in her eyes. “Would you stop and listen to me? I’m trying to talk to you, and I don’t want this to become something that it shouldn’t!”
“Why should I stop and listen to you? You haven’t given me the time of day since we’ve gotten here! You’re too wrapped up in feeling sorry for yourself because I’m not spending time with you to actually try to be around me!”
She turns to Adam. He winces, sensing the imminent attack.
“And you. How dare you accuse me of wanting your boyfriend? You have no idea how much he loves you, and how much he would do for you. Just because he doesn’t want to be a friendless loser doesn’t mean that none of those things are true anymore. You’re the one that we should be suspicious of, you and my bisexual girlfriend!”
“Taz, just stop!” Maya screams. “Please, just stop! Can I fucking talk to you yet?”
Taz becomes unnaturally calm. I can see the fire in her eyes, but she closes her mouth.
“Thank you.” Maya breathes out slowly. “Starting from the beginning. It’s about that guy that you asked about last night. We dated during the summer, when you and I were broken up and you were in Ireland. Let me just say, he meant nothing to me. Nothing compared—or will compare—to you. But…” She exchanges glances with Adam. “Ok, I can’t beat around the bush about this. Taz, we slept together.”
I actually back up as this last statement registers in Taz’s mind.
“Taz, please hear me out. It isn’t like it sounds at all… I… Taz, I love you, and I’d never give that up for anything. I’ve told you before, I know I have. But it’s hard to see you with Charlie because it just seems like things are getting weird with us like they were before we broke up last year, and I can’t take that again.”
“Yeah, you don’t want to go through the hassle of finding another guy to sleep with you? Oh, wait, never mind, you have Adam for that!” Taz’s face is turning bright red.
“Stop, please. I was going to say that if only you maybe stopped hanging out with Charlie so much, we could try to fix things betw—”
Taz cuts her off. “If you’re asking me to choose between you and Charlie, I’m choosing him. At least he doesn’t lie to me. I’d rather have a friend I can trust than a girlfriend who’s ashamed of me.”
She turns around and walks towards the door. Maya frantically looks at Adam for support.
“Go after her!” He commands, pushing her forward.
Maya nods and runs after her. “Taz!”
The door slams and through the window we can see Taz walking outside. Maya opens the door again, and the last thing we hear before she in turn slams the door is “I was raped.”
Taz stops outside, and turns to look at her girlfriend, who has just stepped outside. I stare in Adam in shock. The expressions around the room are the same.
“Did you know?” I choke out.
I feel like I’m drowning in all of the regret and guilt that I’m feeling. I judged her way too quickly. The door slowly opens, and Taz and Maya walk by, arm in arm. They walk down the hallway into their room, and I hear the click of the lock on their door.
The only sound is the theme of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the TV. I reach for Adam’s hand. He shakes me off, and looks at me with contempt. He walks off into the kitchen. I don’t follow. Instead, I walk back to my own room, where I lean against the bed. I can hear Maya and Taz murmuring on the other side of the wall, but I can’t hear what they’re saying.
Even with all of the emotion inside of me, not a single tear comes out. I don’t like it. I want to cry. Not for myself, but for the rest of my friends. I haven’t been there for them at all, even Taz. I hadn’t even known about her problems until last night. I’ve let them all down… Fulton, Portman, Adam, Maya. But I still don’t know whether I want them to forgive me, or the other way around.
Chapter 11: Winds of Affection by Star
Notes: This started angsty, so I scrapped it. I think we need some fluffy moments between the Bash Brothers. It’s short, but I can’t write fluff for very long. If it went on any longer, I might start them arguing again!
Dedication: This chapter is dedicated to the word “establish” for reasons known only to Victory and Star.
I jab Portman in the ribs. “Are you awake?”
He snorts, coughs then glares at me. “I am now.”
“Hi,” he mumbles, then turns over. “I got woken up for ‘hi’?”
I jab him in the ribs again. “Talk to me.”
He turns back to face me. “What do you want to talk about?” He gives me a very sleepy grin.
“You,” I tell him.
“Because we always talk about me, and I’m bored of it,” I reply. “I don’t want to end up like Taz and Maya, or Charlie and Adam where we’re both so wrapped up in our own problems we forget each other… although, you seem fairly wrapped up in my problems, so I was wondering if anything was on your mind.”
Now that I’ve woken him up to tell him this, it seems really dumb. It sounded better in my head.
I think he’s either going to push me out of bed or just fall asleep again. Maybe both.
Instead he gives me a big smile. “No, there’s not a whole lot on my mind. It’s one of the perks of being the missing link.”
“You’re not stupid,” I tell him sternly. He knows it too, he’s just convinced that everyone else thinks he is.
“I know, I know,” he says, pulling me closer to him. “Ok, there is something on my mind.”
“Why haven’t Julie and Guy kissed yet?”
I smother a laugh. Of all the things to come out with… “I have no idea,” I tell him, trying to keep a straight face, although it’s dark, so I don’t know why I’m bothering.
“I know it’s superficial, but at our age we’re meant to talk about stuff like that… well, guys probably aren’t.”
I don’t hide my laugh this time. He can make me feel so much better when I’m feeling down. I’d have fallen apart a long time ago if it wasn’t for him.
“Are you laughing at me?” he asks in a mock-hurt tone.
“Maybe. Or maybe I’m laughing with you.”
“I wasn’t laughing, so you were laughing at me,” he decides.
“Well, you should laugh too,” I tell him. “Then we can laugh together.” I start tickling his sides and am rewarded with a big laugh.
“Stop it!” He yells at me, trying to knock me off the bed, completely forgetting that the rest of the house is trying to sleep.
I don’t stop and he starts tickling me back. It gets quite violent and we fall off the bed with a thump, dragging the covers with us.
We stop attacking each other and catch our breath.
“I love you,” I tell him.
“I love you too.” He leans down to kiss me.
“Are you alri—”
We both turn towards the new voice and see the three girls standing in the doorway.
Julie’s blushing, Maya looks amused and Taz… well, she’s got her trademark grin on her face.
“We heard a thump,” Taz begins to explain.
“We don’t want to know,” Maya cuts her off and shuts the door.
Portman and I stare at each other for a second then burst out laughing.
Chapter 12: Breath of Fresh Air by Victory Thru Tears
For once, all is quiet. There’s still the uneasy tension hanging in the air, but it’s easier to overlook now.
We’re seated around the breakfast table. Julie is on one side of me, and Fulton is on the other. Adam is in between Julie and Maya, who is next to Taz. On Taz’s other side is Charlie. The rest of the circle finishes with Portman in between Fulton and Charlie.
Four happy couples. Well, two happy couples, one almost couple, and… Adam and Charlie.
Fulton and Portman were making a lot of noise in their room last night. I really don’t want to know what they were doing. All of the rooms are adjoining, and I heard the girls go and check on them. They came back giggling, so I figured it wasn’t a big deal, and the Bash Brothers were ok.
It was just Adam and me in our room again last night. Charlie spent the night on the couch by himself. Taz was sleeping in the girls’ room for the first time since we’ve been here. Before I went to sleep I heard her yell (at the top of her voice, of course) “It’s humongous!”
Taz and Maya have made up. Thank whatever people are worshipping these days. They spent four hours in their room talking, and came out to get a little snack before going to bed. None of us have any idea what went on in that room, but from the little kisses Maya kept giving Taz, who wouldn’t let go of Maya’s waist, we figure that they are as close as ever.
Adam and Charlie, however…
Who can miss the hurt looks Charlie keeps giving him, and the way Adam averts his eyes every time? I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t want to stick my nose into business that isn’t mine.
Julie and Maya start to clear away the dishes from the table, and Fulton offers to wash them.
“Are you sure, Fulton? Because that can be hell for your nails,” Maya teases.
“I think I can live.” He grins.
We all pitch in to the cleaning, and the Bash Brothers start to wash. Portman turns the radio on and actually starts dancing as some old song comes on.
If you had told me at the beginning of the year that I would be at a house with four gay guys, two lesbians, and Julie, I would probably have called for the men in white coats to come get you. But now it’s just normal. Still a little surreal, but normal in its own way.
Maya giggles as Taz whispers something in her ear.
“We’re going swimming!” they announce as they bound off together towards their room.
“I think I’m going to go for a walk,” Adam says, putting his hands in his pockets.
“I’ll come with you!” Charlie offers hopefully.
Adam shakes his head, but I know Charlie won’t take no for an answer. He waits until Adam has left the house before bolting off to put his shoes on.
“Hey, you want to go for a walk too?” Julie asks. “Far away from Adam and Charlie, though.”
“Yeah, that’d be great.” I take her hand, and we leave the house.
The scenery around this part of the lake is great. I have no idea what the lake is called, but it’s really big. I’ll have to look into it. There are huge rocks right by the house, which I’ve been meaning to climb for the past three days. Julie seems to have read my mind, and she climbs up to sit on one of the taller ones. I follow. I open my mouth to speak as I sit down next to her, but she puts her finger to her lips in an attempt to shush me. She nods her head to the left, and I look over to see Charlie approaching Adam, who is sitting on the sand below us.
“Didn’t I tell you not to come?” Adam asks, clearly irritated.
“Come on, Banksie. You didn’t mean it.” Charlie takes a seat next to him.
“If I didn’t, then why am I leaving?” He gets up, ready to walk off. Charlie grabs his hand and stops him.
“Adam, stay. We need to talk.”
“I don’t want to talk! I’m sick of seeing you, hearing you, and just being around you!”
Charlie looks hurt. “Why?”
“Because you only come to me when there’s nowhere else to go. Oh, no, I take that back. You only come to me when Taz isn’t around!” Adam says bitterly.
“That is not true. And you can’t blame me for trying to be Taz’s friend… she needed me!”
“Not before yesterday. What about the last four months, when you hadn’t a clue about her problems? Why were you still always around her then?”
“We’re just friends. Don’t do this… you know that I love you.”
“Stop trying to fucking sweet talk me, I’m sick of you acting like I’m going to just forget everything that I’m feeling and thinking at the drop of a hat!”
Charlie gets up and stands face to face with Adam. “Come on, just stop arguing. I’ve had enough of it. I want to spend the next week in peace with my boyfriend.”
He tilts Adam’s face towards him and their lips meet. Charlie winds his arms around Adam, pulling him closer.
I realize that we shouldn’t be watching this. But before I can look away, Adam pushes Charlie, knocking him over. He mumbles something in a high-pitched voice, and I can see the tears on his face as he runs towards the house. Charlie sits on the sand with a bewildered look on his face. I didn’t know Adam was that strong, and I don’t think he did either.
Julie touches my arm, and I sit back in my spot next to her. We’re both silent for a few minutes, unsure of what to think of what we just saw.
“It’s sad, actually,” she says quietly. “They were so happy together. You could see it at practices and stuff, even when Connie was giving them hell.”
“What do you think happened?” I wonder. “I mean, it can’t be just Taz and Maya, no third party could do that to a relationship.”
“People change, so do feelings,” Julie says thoughtfully.
I look at her for a moment. She looks beautiful. Alright, Germaine… time to put aside the fear and confusion that you’re feeling, and just go with your heart.
I lean over and kiss her on the lips. She makes a sighing noise, and I chuckle to myself. We quickly break apart when we hear snorting behind us. Portman grins and applauds softly.
“Well Cat Lady, at least now you don’t have to tell me any of the details!” He laughs again, and walks off, leaving us alone.
I look at Julie, an amused look on my face. She blushes, and opens her mouth to speak.
“We were talking the other night, and I told him I would—”
I cut her off by kissing her again.
Just because everyone else has problems that they have to be dealing with doesn’t mean that Julie and I can’t have our own moments. I think I’ve just proven that.
Chapter 13: Butterfly by Star
Notes: L-o-n-g chapter! Couldn’t seem to shut up! I guess it compensates for the short Portman/Fulton chapter.
I trace the butterfly shaped birthmark on Maya’s stomach with my fingertips. She giggles and squirms.
It’s a sign. It has to be. I’ve been obsessed with butterflies all my life, and then this girl comes into my life and she has a birthmark shaped like one.
And she loves me.
And I nearly blew it.
I kiss the birthmark and she giggles again. “Bad Taz!” she admonishes.
“Contrite Taz,” I tell her.
“Shut up, Taz.” She grins and pulls me towards her for a kiss.
“I love you,” I say, for the millionth time since last night.
“I love you too,” she replies, also for the millionth time since last night.
The words don’t get boring after hearing them so many times, in fact, they get more exciting.
Last night was quite possibly the most emotionally wearing time of my life, except for perhaps the few days after my mother died. I couldn’t believe my Maya had been with a guy. Whether she likes guys or not is no longer the point. She loves me and that’s the way it is.
However, I’m still going to kill that Colby guy if I ever get my hands on him.
And after that we started talking about my Dad. It’s not exactly resolved, but we’ve decided that we’re both going to see him together and let him know that if he lays another hand on me we’re going to report him to the police or social services or something.
“What are you thinking?” she asks me.
I don’t like to dwell. “I was thinking about you. I want to draw you.” Now I’ve said it, I really do want to draw her.
“Like you’ve never done that before,” she teases.
“I’ve never drawn you on a beach before.” I grin. “And can we please have a yay me moment? Three nights I’ve spent here so far, and have I drawn on a single wall yet?”
“Yay you!” She strokes my hair. “However, it just makes me worry that you’ll be even more into your art when we get back to the dorms.”
“I was thinking of a new genre. They’re starting photography classes when we get back to school,” I tell her excitedly. I’ve been meaning to mention it for weeks, but somehow never got around to it.
She groans. “You’re only taking photography so you can get high of the chemicals for developing the pictures. I know you too well Taryn McDonald.”
I flop on top of her. “You know me far too well, Maya ‘Minx’ Hansen.” I lean down for another kiss.
“Hey! Lesbians!” We both look up and see Portman and Fulton staring at us. I just know that interruption is payback for us walking in last night.
“Yes, queers?” I respond.
“Come swimming,” Fulton orders.
I look at Maya, she gives me a ‘why not?’ face. I reluctantly get off her and pull her to her feet.
I wander over to Fulton timidly. “I didn’t mean to be out of line last night,” I tell him. “Sorry. When I get mad I can’t really control my mouth.”
He shrugs. “It’s ok.” Then he grins at me. “I guess you’re happy now though, so it’s safe to be around you.”
I open my mouth to reply when I’m cut off by Maya screaming. “Taz! Help me!”
I look around and Portman has picked her up over his shoulder and is twirling her around.
“Make him stop!” she shouts.
“Can’t you control your boyfriend?” I ask, then yell to Portman. “Put her down!”
He backs off towards the water, one hand holding Maya in place, the other on my head, keeping me away from him.
I follow him, all the while Maya is screaming her head off. You know, I think at times she’s louder than me.
We hit the deep water and he offloads Maya over his shoulder. The splash she makes is the start of all-out war! We both start splashing him. It makes me wish he was the type of guy who cared about his hair.
“Hey!” He yells to Fulton, who’s not joining in. “Are you just going to stand there? Come and save me! The munchkins are attacking!”
Hrmm. So we’ve graduated from oompa lumpas to munchkins.
“It’s not my fault you just won’t learn not to annoy them,” he responds in amusement.
Maya grins at me and we both turn and splash Fulton. “You’re going to join in whether you like it or not!” She tells him, moving towards him.
“Fine.” He picks her up and dumps her back in the water.
I momentarily stop splashing Portman and ask, “How come everyone’s throwing my girlfriend in the water?”
He grins at me for the first time ever. “Jealous?”
He picks me up, and instead of tossing me back into the water like I expect, he sets me on his shoulders.
“Fulton! Grab a munchkin! It’s death match time!”
“What are the rules?” he asks, holding a hand out to Maya.
“First one to lose their dwarf has to tidy the bedroom for the rest of the holiday.”
Maya nods at me. “Same goes for you and me, Taz.”
I watch as she scrambles onto Fulton’s shoulders, her face set in determination. This is bad. I’ve played this game with her before. There’s nothing she won’t do to win.
“Portman,” I tap him on the head to make sure I have his attention. “She’s going to cheat.”
“Well, cheat back,” he advises, then adds, “Tap me on the head again and I’ll throw you in the water.”
“You really don’t like me,” I comment as he wades towards Fulton.
“You’re not so bad—in small doses, that is,” he replies.
I guess that’s as good as it will get between us. And I’m fine with it, as long as I have Maya I’m ok.
I take it back, she’s got an evil look on her face. “Be my friend,” I mutter to Portman, trying to duck as she attacks me.
“Come on!” He urges me. “Where’s that feisty psycho that I’m so used to?”
I see that Fulton is also pep-talking with Maya.
We lunge forward and I manage to swing at Maya’s shoulder, she loses her balance but doesn’t fall. She grabs my knee and tries to push me off Portman’s shoulders. He grabs my leg to steady me. Go team!
The boys back off to let us get our balance.
“I thought you were meant to be insane,” he mutters. “You’re barely moving!”
“Hey! I don’t suppose you’ve got any idea how uncomfortable your shoulders are. All those weird muscley things!” I respond hotly.
“You mean my muscles?” He shrugs and I nearly fall off.
“I’m on your side,” I protest.
“Well act like it! I don’t want to be cleaning our bedroom for the next week.”
I suddenly get an idea. It’s not great, but it might help. “Be ready to help me knock them over when they look distracted.”
“What are you going to do?” he asks as we move towards the others again.
“Just don’t look up,” I advise.
He laughs and the war begins again. I get a few lucky hits, but Maya’s not even slightly ruffled by them. I on the other hand, am only just about staying put on Portman’s shoulders. Time for plan B.
I yank down my bikini top. Maya stops what she’s doing. Fulton looks scandalized!
Portman charges into them and over they go.
Maya surfaces first and I hastily arrange my top. “You cheated!” she yells.
“Like you wouldn’t have?” I respond with a laugh.
“I’m scarred for life,” Fulton tells me.
“What did she do?” Portman asks, cheerfully oblivious.
Fulton and Maya’s only response is to rush at us, knocking Portman off his feet and hurling us both into the water.
I grin at Maya. “Best of three?”
I shake my head trying to get the water out of my ears. Maya’s having one last swim, I’m too tired. I spot Charlie on the beach and make my way over to him.
He looks really sad. “Hey, Charles,” I say, taking a seat next to him, hating the way the sand sticks to me.
He doesn’t respond.
“Charles?” I poke him in the side.
“What?” he snaps.
“Are you ok?” I ask, putting a hand on his arm.
He shakes me off. “I’m fine.”
“No you’re not.”
“Jesus, McDonald! Would you just leave me alone!”
I blink. He called me McDonald. Not Taz or Taryn. “What’s wrong?” I ask him again.
“Everything! And it’s all your fault!” He gets to his feet and walks off.
Chapter 14: Icy Breeze by Victory Thru Tears
Disclaimer: Don’t get mad… I’ve already been beaten black and blue by Charlie for this. But remember, it’s MY story… so I’ll do what I want… that is, if Star gives me permission. Read on, and hate me *sad look*
I feel the bed sag with extra weight, and an arm wraps around my waist. I don’t bother opening my eyes. I know who it is. He starts to kiss my neck softly, moving his tall body on top of mine.
“Charlie…” I start, but he cuts me off by placing a kiss on my lips.
“Charlie,” I say a bit louder as he pulls away.
“Shh!” He whispers to me. “Don’t wake up Guy.”
“Charlie, please. I told you before.”
“Told me what before?” He stands to slip his shirt off.
“That I can’t be around you anymore.”
“Yes, that you did, but you never gave me a reason. Therefore, I’m going to disregard it.” He crawls under the covers and presses his body against me. He’s really cold. He’s probably been outside.
I turn to look at the clock. 3:23 a.m. Perfect.
“Seriously. I don’t think I can do this right now.”
“Do what?” He asks innocently, kissing my shoulder.
“This. You. Everything.”
Charlie pulls away with a sigh. He puts his hands behind his head and lays on his back.
“Fine. Then let’s talk. What do you want to talk about? Taz? Well guess what. I don’t want to be friends with her anymore. Not if it means losing you. You hear that? I’m choosing you over her. Is that what you want to hear?”
He pauses for a moment, staring at the ceiling.
“Don’t take that last part the wrong way. Everything I just said is true. I love you, Adam David Banks.”
I sigh to myself. He’s even used the middle name. How can I do this to him now?
“And I love you, Charles Joseph Conway.”
A grin comes to his face. I haven’t told him that in about three weeks, and it was probably bothering him.
My voice cracks as I try to speak again. “But—”
The smile is replaced by a frown. “No… no buts, no buts…”
“Charlie, I can’t do this anymore.”
“What do you mean? What can’t you do?”
“Be with you.”
“What? Wh… why? Wh… I… What?”
“I don’t know why. I don’t understand it. But being in bed with you right now, being around you, just… you don’t feel right for me.” I sit up, but he pulls me back down. He moves his arms on either side of me, and looks into my eyes pleadingly.
“You can’t be serious.”
“I am.” And I truly mean it. I feel my heart break for the millionth time in my life as one of his tears drips onto my face.
“But… you just said that you loved me!” he accuses me.
Guy stirs. I hope he isn’t waking up.
“I do. I love you so much, I just… I can’t do something that doesn’t feel right to me. And you can’t deny that things are weird between us. Not just because of Taz, but because we’ve actually grown too close. We’re almost the same person. I can’t very well date myself.” I move him over to sit next to him.
“You’re just making up bullshit excuses. How can you give up on this? We’ve been together for two years. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?” he asks angrily. I wish he would wipe away his tears. I can’t stand to see them pouring down his face like that.
“You gave up months ago. It was my turn,” I say simply.
He chokes out a sob, and makes a move to get up.
“No. You can stay here. I’ll go to the couch.” I grab a pillow from the bed, and walk out of the room.
Once situated on the couch, I try to sort through what had just happened. Why did I just do that? He’s right—those were bullshit excuses. I don’t want to be apart from him, I love him more than anything in the world. What the hell is wrong with me? Am I so full of pride that I’m going to hurt the one person that truly cares about me? I wipe my eyes, drying them of the tears that are threatening to spill out. What is going on in my head? I don’t even know anymore. I just don’t understand the pang of emotion I feel whenever I see or hear Charlie. I can’t tell if its love, pain, jealousy, anger, sadness… I don’t know how to feel anymore. The worst part is that I don’t fucking know why. He’s obviously trying to redeem himself, and how did I fucking repay him? By breaking up with him… by fucking breaking up with him!
Adam Banks, you are one big fucking idiot.
Chapter 15: Shooting the Breeze by Star
I feel Fulton jab me in the ribs. He’s been doing that for a few minutes now, I was hoping he’d lose interest in waking me up, but he hasn’t.
“Stop!” I tell him. “I’m covered in bruises thanks to you.”
He laughs. “I knew you were faking. That resonating snore of yours was strangely silent.”
“Ok, last night you woke me up for ‘hi’. Now you’re waking me up to insult my snoring—and by the way, I do not snore!”
“Sure you do.”
I’m seriously considering becoming nocturnal, for this week at least. It would make these night time chats more enjoyable. I might actually be able to say something intelligent instead of the junk I was babbling about last night.
“Ok. So I snore.” I know I don’t. “Can I go back to sleep now?”
“You’re the boss,” I mumble sleepily.
Actually, I don’t know if that’s the truth. I remember sitting in class one day and listening to these two girls talk about their boyfriends, and who was in charge of the relationship. Apparently who ever loves the other more is the one that isn’t in charge.
It sounds like nonsense, because in our relationship, no-one’s in charge, and I think we’re too young to apply the term ‘equal partnership’ to ourselves. Then again, maybe we’re not.
I sometimes think he needs me more than I need him.
But I love him more.
He jabs me in the ribs again. “You’re dozing again.”
I fend off his hands that are determined to leave fingertip shaped bruises all over my ribs. “That’s because it’s…” I glance at the clock. “Almost four a.m.”
I have to wake up. He obviously wants to talk to me, despite his playful tone. “What’s up?” I ask.
“I don’t know.” He says, turning over onto his stomach and resting on his elbows.
“You don’t know?”
He sighs. “I think I should call them again.”
Them. The parents. Mr. and Mrs. Reed.
“You obviously don’t think I should,” he deduces.
“It’s not that…” Yes it is. “I just don’t like to see them upset you. I know how much you hurt after talking to them.”
“What do you think I should do then?” It’s the first time he’s asked this question without even the faintest tint of sarcasm or defensiveness.
“I think you should talk to Bombay or Orion. Tell them what has happened, ask them for advice.” I say. It’s not the first time we’ve had this conversation, but it’s the first time it seems like he’s listening. “You need someone who can help you. Bombay’s a lawyer, he could help… and he’s a good guy.”
He stares down at the pillow between his elbows. “Would you come with me?” he asks. “I know it’s not really your—”
I cut him off. “I’d be offended if you didn’t ask me to come along.”
I run my fingers through his hair and he turns to smile at me. “Should I tell the others?”
“You don’t have to.” I pull him towards me so he nestles in my arms. “But they’re your friends, they won’t think any less of you.”
“I was actually thinking they’ve got enough problems.” He tells me, finding one of my hands and interlocking fingers.
“Look, the lesbians are fine, better than fine, they’ve been all over each other all day. Guy and Julie have finally had their first kiss—not only did I get to witness it, Julie told me all the gory details later. I think she’s going to be my fag hag.”
He laughs, then stops. “What about Charlie and Adam?”
I wrap my arms tighter around him and drop a kiss on his neck. “I bet they’re making up right now.” I say reassuringly.
“You really believe that?”
“I want to.”
Chapter 16: Spring Mist by Victory Thru Tears
I can’t even try to stop the tears from coming out. I press a pillow over my face, trying to stifle the sobs so that Guy doesn’t hear. I don’t know why I’m still in this bed. Probably because Adam was just in it a minute ago, and it still even smells like him.
Dammit Charlie, no. He just broke up with you, you idiot. But…
That’s the only question in my mind. Why? Was I that bad of a boyfriend to him? I know I haven’t been the greatest during the Taz incident but I apologized, what more can I do? I love him, god I do so much.
I stop crying for a second and realize that I still have the pillow over my face. I wonder if it’s possible for me to smother myself.
God, I just want to walk out into the living room and lie on the couch next to him and have him hold me and tell me that it was all a mistake, and that he loves me more than the world.
Of course, he said that he still does love me. I think I believe him. My Adam wouldn’t—
I scold myself silently without finishing my thought.
He’s not your Adam anymore, and he’s not going to be ever again. You lost him, Conway. You lost him through your own stupidity.
He’s Banks now. Banks, you got that, Charlie? Never Adam.
The sadness is slowly being replaced by anger.
Banks lied to me. Banks told you that he’d never hurt you. He lied.
The summer air is getting cooler as the sun sets. We’re sitting on a hill close to the pond behind the Banks’ house. Adam’s parents are gone for the night to help Danny get situated at college, and have let me sleep over to keep him company.
Adam’s hand brushes mine and I take hold of it. He grins at me under his new hairstyle, which Julie had instructed him to get.
Julie… poor girl. She has a crush on him, but Banksie is cheerfully oblivious. I feel kind of bad, since I’m the boyfriend. But at the same time I feel very very happy that he’s mine and no one else’s.
I’m not having a good time at home. Justin’s back from Europe, and he and Mom are acting very mushy and stuff. I hate him. Not that he’s ever actually given me a reason to hate him, I just do. Adam says that everyone feels this way about their step-parents. What the hell does he know? He’s a stupid cake-eater.
My stupid cake-eater thoughts are interrupted by the stupid cake-eater himself. He looks up at me with those beautiful blue-green eyes of his.
“What’s wrong?” he asks quietly.
I start to shake my head, but he stops me by holding my chin. “No lying.”
I sigh. “It’s hard to find people you can trust, you know?”
“What are you saying?” He looks troubled. I realize what he must think from my last statement.
“Oh, no, not you! Of course I trust you. I lo—”
I stop, realizing what I’d almost said. We haven’t said that before. I’ve felt it for awhile, but had never said it.
“You what?” Adam asks softly. He looks very innocent right there in the dying sunlight, I want to just reach out and touch him. So I do.
I kiss him softly on the lips. As I pull away I let my fingers lightly touch his cheek.
“I love you,” I tell him.
He looks scared, but he whispers back. “I love you too.”
I pull his arms around me, making him wrap me into a hug. He sighs happily against my hair.
“Adam?” I mumble.
“Please do me a favor.”
“What kind of favor?”
“Don’t ever… you know… break up with me or something. I mean, I know it depends on the circumstances, but, I just… you’re my…”
“Charlie, why would I do something stupid like break up with you? I love you, remember? I’d never dream of hurting you. And I never will. I promise.”
He fucking lied to me. God, after all we have been through, all we have shared…
I’ve even had… you know… with him… well, as well as two people in our position can have… you know.
I wonder if he even thinks about that night—Christmas night, in fact—anymore. Probably not. I have a feeling it only had real significance to me. Like every other moment we’ve ever shared.
How am I supposed to react? Am I supposed to be angry, or sad, or relieved? I’m all three! Angry because he lied to me and is making me feel like hell… but sad because I love him so much, and I want to be with him. But I’m also relieved. I don’t know why, but I can feel it in my nonetheless.
So here I am. Lonely, cold, and friendless in my pit of sorrow. This time, though, I don’t have Adam… Banks… to pull me out.
I roll over and face the wall. I smell the sheets, breathing in his scent. I close my eyes, but I know I won’t be able to sleep for a long time.
Chapter 17: April Showers I by Star and Victory Thru Tears
Notes: You knew it was going to happen, yes it’s that time again… it’s multiple POV time in the Star-and-Victory-verse!
I untangle myself from Taz, usually we don’t get all snuggly when we sleep, but last night was different. Naturally she’s taking up most of the bed, in what I lovingly refer to as “the starfish position”, face down with her purple hair all over the place. I smile and drop a kiss on her shoulder.
I turn to look at the clock. It’s blank. I poke her in the ribs. “Taz, did you unplug the clock?”
“Not since September,” she mumbles sleepily.
I grin. She unplugged our alarm clock because we were up late… um, let’s just say we were making up for lost time over the summer. We were three hours late for our first day of school. Which kept up our grand tradition of being on detention before even making it to the first class of the school year.
I get up and check that the alarm clock is still plugged in. It is. For the first time I look out of the window. It’s pitch black outside and the wind is howling.
There’s an almighty roll of thunder and only milliseconds later the whole room is illuminated by a crack of lightning.
Taz bounds out of bed and nearly hurls herself out of the window in excitement.
“No!” I tell her, wrapping my arms around her. “You’re staying inside.”
She’s literally bouncing with exhilaration. She adores storms. “Please?”
“No.” Knowing Taz, she’d get hit by a bolt of lightning. She might not even notice. “If you promise to stay on the porch I’ll let you have your sketch pad and you can draw the lake.” I have to give her a little compromise.
“Wass going on?” Julie asks sleepily.
“I’m going to draw!” Taz replies, wriggling out of my arms and heading for the door.
“Taz! Clothes first. Something warm,” I instruct, then turn to Julie. “Big storm. Power cut.”
Julie moans. “I need a hot drink in the morning.”
“Guess you’ll have to make do with juice,” I say. “Think of the bright side, it was Taz’s turn to cook today. You’ve just saved yourself a day of food poisoning.”
Taz sticks her tongue out at me and heads for the bathroom with a ton of clothes—my clothes!—in her arms.
“You wanna head downstairs and see if any of the boys are up?” I ask Julie.
Some of the boys are up. Fulton is deeply unimpressed with the lack of power, but Portman is in his element, I guess he likes a good crisis. Charlie is wandering around looking for candles. Every so often someone walks into a chair or table or something and we hear a cuss. Julie and I are being sensible and sitting down and staying put.
Finally the living room is lit up like a séance and it occurs to us that we have nothing to do. It’s going to be a really boring day. Except for Taz who is sitting on the porch, scribbling away madly. Which can only be a good thing, Taz near all these candles would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
I hear a whoosh and a thump and a string of words I’d never imagined that Adam Banks knew.
We all look at each other in amusement, then get up to see what the problem is. All of us but Charlie that is, I guess they still haven’t made up. Only Fulton thinks of bringing a candle with him.
Adam is standing at the bottom of the stairs holding his wrist, Taz’s sketch book is on the floor by his feet. Guy is about four steps up looking decidedly pale.
“What happened?” Portman asked.
“I tripped over something,” Adam says. “Grabbed the banister to support myself.” He winces. “It had to be my bad wrist, didn’t it?”
I pick up Taz’s sketch book. “Sorry, she gets scatter-brained when she wants to draw.” I go to the front door. “Taz!”
She bounds over. “Oooh! You found it! I was making do with an A4. A3 is so much better!”
“Taz, you left it on the stairs,” I tell her. “Adam fell over it, he’s hurt his wrist.”
She slaps a hand over her mouth. Instead of the nutty response I was expecting, she walks over to him and puts a hand on his shoulder. “I’m really sorry, Adam. I get kinda forgetful when I want to draw. I’m so sorry.”
He looks a little stunned, but gives her a tolerant grin. “It’s ok. I packed my painkillers. I’ll be fine.”
I hide a grin. Taz inspired and Adam on painkillers. This could be an amusing day after all.
We wander back into the living room and I take a seat next to Charlie, we haven’t talked for days, so he looks surprised that I’m sitting next to him.
“Are you and Adam ok?” I ask in a low voice.
“Fine,” he snarls back.
Yeah, right. “He just hurt his wrist,” I tell him.
“He’s got painkillers,” he replies in a cold voice.
Things are definitely not good between them. And I saw him walk off after talking to Taz yesterday, she looked quite hurt. He’s definitely not happy.
“Ok. How come you’ve not said hi to Taz yet?”
He sighs deeply. “I don’t get you Maya, one minute you hate me for taking up all her time, the next you’re getting at me if I don’t.”
“I’m not getting at you,” I say. “Really. If you want to talk about it…”
“With you?” He laughs and gets up. “I’m going to find a book to read.”
I guess that conversation is done with.
I groan as I take a sip of the cold orange juice. I need some coffee.
I feel an arm around my waist and turn to grin at Guy. It’s still horribly dark outside, and my watch tells us that it’s 9:15 a.m.
It should be an interesting day.
Guy kisses me on the cheek. “Good morning.”
I motion to the storm outside. “If you want to say that.”
He leans against the counter, pouring himself a glass of juice. “How’d you sleep?”
I nod, indicating it was good.
“No trouble from the lesbians?”
I grin again. “No, they behaved. Argued and giggled a lot, but I guess that’s expected. How were Charlie and Adam?”
The smile on his face is replaced by a thoughtful look. “I don’t know. It was really weird. When I went to sleep, Adam was in the other bed. Then I woke up at like 3:45, and Charlie was in the other bed. But then I woke up again when the power went out, and Charlie was downstairs, and Adam was on the couch in another room.”
“Hmm.” I start to wonder. “Think they had another fight?”
“I guess. But maybe it’s good… getting things out in the open always helps.”
We sit in silence for a moment, and a clap of thunder almost shakes the house. Guy jumps, spilling his orange juice all over himself and the floor. He looks absolutely terrified.
He gives me a sheepish smile as he grabs some paper toweling and starts to mop up his mess.
“Guy Germaine, are you scared of storms?” A smile comes to my face.
He blushes a deep red. “Um… uh… possibly.”
I start to giggle. He gives me an indignant look. I smother my laughter, and pull him up from the floor. He throws away the wet paper, and puts his arm around my waist again.
“You still have orange juice all over you,” I point out as we walk into the room where the others are.
He shrugs, but jumps as another roar of thunder vibrates through the house. I snicker to myself.
Taz is still outside drawing. Adam is lying on the couch looking a little dazed and Maya is sitting under his legs, going through some old pictures. Fulton and Portman are conversing quietly on a chair together. Charlie’s nowhere in sight.
“Did Adam take the pills?” Guy asks. Maya looks up and nods, a grin on her face.
“What?” I poke him in the ribs.
“Ow, hey!” he complains. I smile, and he kisses me on the nose. “Adam gets absolutely crazy when he’s on these painkillers. It’s the funniest thing you’ll ever see.”
“Well, I think these pictures are going to give him some competition.” Maya giggles, holding up a few pieces of paper. Guy and I move over to her with interest. The pictures feature a small Adam Banks, naked in a bathtub.
“He was one ugly baby!” Guy exclaims.
“No, he’s cute!” I argue.
Adam looks up at us, a hazy expression on his face. “What are you doing?”
“Nothing, Adam, go back to sleep sweetie.” Maya pats his forehead.
“Ok, Mommy.” Adam turns over and buries his face into the pillow.
Guy and I laugh over the pictures with Maya, and he slips his arm around my waist. We exchange a small smile, and he kisses my cheek again.
And I was having doubts about coming?
It’s getting a little boring here. Adam’s passed out, but he and Charlie are glaring at each other whenever he wakes up. Julie and Guy, well, they’re looking snuggly. Maya looks kinda bored, she can’t convince Taz to come back in. She’s holding one of Taz’s drawings, despite the fact that Maya is inside, she features strongly in the picture.
I shift my attention to Fulton. He seems nervous and agitated. He keeps walking around the room. Occasionally I tug at his hand and tell him to sit with me, which he does for a few minutes, then resumes pacing.
He stops, looks at Maya and says, “Go get your girlfriend.”
She doesn’t say a word, just gets up and goes.
“Where’s Charlie?” he asks. Charlie has vanished because he’s feeling sorry for himself, I guess he and Adam are still fighting.
“I’ll go get him,” I offer.
Fulton moves over to Adam in an attempt to wake him up. Adam blinks several times, groans and mutters, “I’m still here.”
“You awake?” Fulton asks him.
“Stay that way, I’ve got something to say.”
I bound up the stairs towards Charlie’s room. I walk in without knocking and he looks pissed off. “Downstairs,” I tell him. “Fulton wants to talk.”
“What about?” he asks in a surly tone.
“If you come downstairs you’ll find out,” I reply.
He sighs and gets up to follow me.
We bump into Maya, who’s leading a sodden looking Taz back into the room. She’s strangely quiet. Maybe Maya’s told her to behave—or maybe I’m just being mean, maybe she can sense the atmosphere too. Taz smiles at Charlie but he doesn’t return it.
I take a seat next to Fulton and take his hand.
“I’ve got something to tell you. I should have told you ages ago and I don’t know why I didn’t,” He says.
Guy and Julie exchange a look and Julie speaks up hesitantly. “This sounds like something important. Are you sure you want us here?”
Fulton nods. “You’re part of the group now.”
I squeeze his hand, encouraging him to continue.
“Um, my parents didn’t just beat me when I went home for Thanksgiving. They, uh… disowned me. Told me they’d do worse than beat me if I ever went back there.”
Everyone looks horrified, but not surprised.
Taz is the first to speak. “Jesus, and there was me attacking you. I think my words were ‘pity party’. Shit. I’m sorry.” She looks like she wants to say more but can’t find the words.
“It’s ok,” he tells her. “You didn’t know… and I didn’t know about you either, so don’t feel bad about it.”
Charlie turns to him. “I’m really sorry I wasn’t there for you. I should have known, especially after seeing you not want to wear the Reed jersey.”
Fulton takes a deep breath. “Look, I didn’t tell you because I wanted you to all beat yourselves up for not noticing, or so you’d feel sorry for me. I told you because I’m sick of hiding it. I’ve tried calling several times, and Portman’s parents have been great, trying to talk to my parents, but it’s not working. I’m going to talk to Bombay.” He smiles at me. “He’s a lawyer and a really good guy, he’ll tell me what I can do.”
“Bombay Duck is a Chinese dish,” Adam mutters and passes out again.
I snort, I can’t help it. Here’s Fulton having a serious conversation, and Adam comes out with something like that.
My laughter is contagious and pretty soon we’re all laughing.
After Fulton’s announcement, we try to get ourselves back to normal. Maya resumes her place under Adam’s legs and Taz sits down next to her. Fulton and Portman go back to sharing their chair, and Charlie wanders into the kitchen. Julie and I stay on our small couch. We keep to ourselves, conversing in our little groups.
“Ahhhh!” We all look up as Maya lets out a frustrated yell. Even Adam jolts awake.
“What?” Taz asks cautiously.
“I’m bored,” Maya mumbles, leaning her head on Taz’s shoulder.
“I like bread. Especially with peanut butter.” Adam promptly passes out again.
“He’s getting really weird.” Julie mutters in my ear. I smile and nod.
“Well, do you have any suggestions of what we could do?” Portman asks.
“Hey, yeah, let’s play truth or dare!” I speak up.
Everyone stares at me like I’ve sprouted wings out of my back. Taz and Maya look like they want to kill me. Julie elbows me in the ribs.
“What? Oh. Right. Sorry. Let’s not play that game,” I say weakly.
“Well what can we do?” Fulton sighs. He looks a lot different since telling us about his parents. Not necessarily happier, but definitely like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
“Oh, to hell with it. Let’s just play truth or dare.” Taz sighs. She sounds reluctant, but she’s got a mischievous grin on her face. She gets up from the couch for a moment. “Charlie! Come in here!”
We all wait, but he doesn’t come.
“Charlie!” Taz calls again.
Fulton tries this time. “Hey, Charlie, come in here.”
Charlie saunters in, a pissed off expression on his face. “What?”
“Sit down, we’re playing truth or dare!” Maya clears a space in between her and Adam’s motionless body.
“I’d rather not,” he responds coldly.
“Oh, come on Charlie, don’t be a spoil-sport!” Julie teases.
He rolls his eyes, giving a sigh. He sits down on the floor. Maya, a little confused, scoots back to the place she had cleared for him.
“Ok, who wants to start?” Fulton asks.
“Well, we left off with me last time, so I’ll start,” Maya says. “Fulton, truth or dare.”
Fulton looks a little wary. “Truth.”
“Ok, that’s easy enough. When did you fall for Portman?”
Fulton blushes. “I… well, during the Goodwill Games.”
Portman grins at his boyfriend’s embarrassment, and squeezes his hand.
“What did all of you boys see in each other then?” Taz bursts out. “I’ve seen pictures, you all had shell suits!”
We all snort with laughter, especially Fulton.
“No, I’m serious, you did!”
“Hey, I wore mine with attitude.” Portman says indignantly.
Taz can’t control her giggles.
“I did!” Portman insists. “Hey, I’ll throw you back outside, Munchkin!”
“No, don’t do that! I just got her back in here!” Maya throws her arms around Taz’s middle. We’re silent for a moment, and Taz giggles again.
“You looked like… like… turtles!” she chokes out.
Adam chooses now to wake up. He looks at her for a moment, and starts to sing. “Teenage mutant ninja turtles, heroes in a half shell! Turtle power!”
He passes out again.
We stare at each other blankly before bursting out into laughter again.
Chapter 18: April Showers II by Star and Victory Thru Tears
I feel like I’m trapped in hell. I’m stuck here in the house with no power, and no boyfriend. Adam is cheerfully oblivious. And we’re playing truth or dare. Things can’t get any worse.
Fulton turns to me. “Charlie, truth or dare?”
I stand corrected.
“Dare.” I’m in no mood to hug and share and learn and grow like Fulton did earlier. Damn, and now I have guilt for having such a callous thought.
“Um.” He thinks it over. “Wake your boyfriend up, Sleeping Beauty style.”
I glare at him and he look understandably confused. What am I supposed to do? They don’t know we’ve broken up… and besides, it might be the last kiss I ever get.
Taz starts humming Once Upon a Dream. Disney freak. She and Maya get up and start waltzing around the room while Taz sings, much to the amusement of everybody except me.
I get up and kneel in front of him and drop a kiss on his lips. His eyes open, he blinks several times then mutters. “I told you already. No more.”
I think I’m the only one who heard it, with Taz singing and Maya occasionally joining in.
I get up and turn to Fulton. “Done.” He and Portman exchange a look, they know something’s going on. I’m probably the only person in the world who thinks the two of them think too much.
I sit on the floor again and look at the still-waltzing lesbian couple. “Taz, truth or dare,” I say.
She looks shocked that I’m talking to her. Don’t worry, Purple, this is the last time that’s going to happen.
They stop dancing and take a seat. “Truth,” she answers.
Damn, if she’d said dare I was going to dare her to go out and touch some lightning. “Are you happy now?”
She glances nervously at Maya. “Um, yeah…”
“Are you happy that you used me to get at your girlfriend for not noticing your problems? Are you happy that you’re with her again and things are fucking perfect for you? Are you happy that you’re the reason that Adam broke up with me?”
She gives me the famous puppy dog look that she gave Maya a few nights ago. Her lip trembles, and for a minute I think she’s going to cry.
Stupid me, Taz doesn’t cry. She explodes.
“Use you?” She stands up to face me. Almost a foot shorter and still she’s scary. “Use you? Charles, you’re my best friend, I wouldn’t use you.”
“No?” I yell back. “And don’t call me Charles!”
“You know I wouldn’t use you! I’m sorry that you and Adam have broken up, but it’s not my fault.”
“Yes it is!” I thunder back. “If you hadn’t taken up all of my time he wouldn’t have broken up with me!”
“Back off, Charlie!” Maya snaps at me. “You’re upset, there’s no need to take it out on Taz.”
“There’s every need! And you’re a hypocrite. You hated me and Taz being friends, now you’re pissed off that we’re not. Pick a side, Maya, and stick to it!”
“Charlie, leave the girls alone,” Portman says as he and Fulton stand up.
“This is none of your business!” I tell them.
“Just calm down,” Fulton says. “It is our business. You’re our friend and you’re obviously upset. We can talk about it, but stop yelling.”
I don’t want to talk about it. I want to be with Adam again and for things to get back to normal. Or as close to normal as it gets for us.
“Just forget it.” I mutter, aware that there are tears in my eyes.
As I walk out of the room I hear Julie say, “We should really stop playing this game.”
I collapse on my bed and cry again. I’ve lost my boyfriend and my best friend in the space of a few days. Why can’t things just go right for a while?
“Well, now what do we do?” Portman asks, breaking the awkward silence that fills the room.
“Someone wake Adam up,” I say tiredly.
They’re my friends. They haven’t been as there for me as they could in the past few months, but in all honestly, I haven’t given them the chance. We’ve all drifted since the beginning of the year, and I really want to fix that.
Maya leans over and shakes Adam a few times. He blinks a few times, and raises his hand to his head.
“What?” he groans.
“Adam, we need to talk to you for a little bit. Think you can talk?” she asks soothingly.
“A little.” He raises himself to a sitting position. He shakes his head a few times. “I had the weirdest dream, it was like I was Sleeping Beauty. There was music and everything, and I thought I saw two of those fairy things dancing when the prince kissed me.”
Portman and I exchange a glance. Under any other circumstances, hearing that would make me wet my pants with laughter. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case.
“Adam, did you break up with Charlie?” I ask softly.
His face clouds. “What happened?”
“Nothing, we just had a nice little chat,” Taz says bitterly. Maya puts a comforting arm around her.
Adam sighs. “Look, I’d love to talk about this, but I’m starting to get a little dizzy again. Ask me again later.”
With that, he passes out again.
“I think I’m going to go talk to Charlie,” I say, getting up. Portman smiles at me.
“I’m getting kind of hungry,” comments Guy. The others nod in agreement.
“I’m sure we can find something to eat in the kitchen.” Julie suggests.
“Ok, well, I’ll go talk to Charlie, you guys get stuff to eat. Someone stay and baby-sit Adam,” I say, taking charge. Someone’s gotta do it while Charlie’s indisposed.
“You’re bossy. I like it,” Portman whispers in my ear as he leaves the room.
“I’ll stay,” Taz offers. She still looks a little gloomy.
Maya kisses her forehead. “I’ll be back in a little while, ok?”
Taz nods. I trudge up the stairs. I’m not sure what I’m going to talk to Charlie about, I just know that he needs to talk to someone.
I walk into the room to find him on his bed, obviously crying.
“Hey, Charlie.” I take a seat next to him and start to put a comforting hand on his back.
He pushes me away. “Leave me alone,” he croaks out.
“Charlie, you can talk to me. I’m your friend, remember? I know it’s hard for you to lose Adam and Taz, but remember that there are still people that love you.”
He looks up at me with tear filled eyes. His face is puffy, and now that I think about it, he’s looked like hell all morning. I open my arms to give him a hug, and he reluctantly moves into them.
“Just talk. I’ll listen,” I tell him.
“I don’t know what to do. I love him more than anything, and he’s helped me so much. I can’t believe that I let him down, and I don’t know what to do, Fulton. I know I’m horribly selfish and this isn’t half as bad as any of your problems, but—”
I cut him off. “Charlie, I would be devastated if Portman broke up with me.”
He sniffs, and I can tell he’s close to crying again. “It’s been two years and a half years. Three in July. Doesn’t that mean anything to him?”
“Maybe he just thought it was time for a change.”
The look on Charlie’s face lets me know that I have said the wrong thing. I quickly try to cover for myself.
“Change isn’t always bad, Charlie. Seriously. Look on the bright side… now you can go look for a new boyfriend!”
Uh-oh. Charlie’s starting to get mad.
“I don’t want a new boyfriend! I want Adam!” He pulls away from me. “Look, Fulton. You’re really not helping me. I think you should just leave.”
“Charlie, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. I’ve never been good at this kind of talk,” I admit. “What do you want me to do?”
He looks around for a moment, the angry look fading from his face. “Just… stay, I guess. I’m kind of lonely.”
A small smile comes onto my face. “Sure, Charlie.”
I run a finger along the sole of Adam’s foot. He giggles but doesn’t wake up.
I poke his knee. He mutters, “Leave me alone,” but still doesn’t wake up.
I realize Maya’s standing over me. I think she just asked me a question.
“Are you ok, Taz?” Maya asks patiently.
I nod vigorously. “Fine. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I thought we agreed no lies.” She takes a seat on the floor next to me. I stop tormenting Adam and turn my attention to her.
“I’m… I don’t know. I’m really pissed off at him,” I tell her. “I wasn’t using Charlie to get at you. I don’t play games, you know that, right?”
“I know.” She kisses me. “He’s just upset and can’t work out why they broke up. I’m sure he’ll be fine in a few days.” She grins at me. “After all, he is your best friend.”
I nod. I shouldn’t dwell, it’s not my style, and besides, I have Maya. I love her, I’d be devastated if I lost her. “I’m fine. Thanks for the pep-talk.”
“Right, I’m going to make sure that Portman isn’t poisoning you.” She gets up and heads for the door.
“Love you.” I haven’t told her for a few hours.
“Love you back.” She blows me a kiss and leaves.
I feel agitated from the fight. Well, it was barely a fight, it’s probably why I feel so agitated. A fight at least resolves things. This didn’t.
I want to draw something. That usually helps me calm down, which I definitely need to do because despite our vague bonding, Portman still isn’t very fond of me.
“Your ex is a real asshole,” I tell the comatose boy behind me.
I look around the room for something to do. My eye falls on someone’s makeup kit sitting on the table and I get a really fun idea. One that might get me killed.
I reach for the kit. Wow. It’s huge. There’s every color imaginable! Who would wear purple eye-shadow? It has those long brushes kinda like paintbrushes. It’s a sign. There’s a glass of water on the table from when Adam took his painkillers.
I really shouldn’t.
Someone would kill me.
Not just Adam, but the owner of the makeup kit.
I really shouldn’t do this.
I grab a brush and dip it into the water and then some purple eye-shadow and turn towards Adam.
Eye-shadow washes off, right?
“Gonna make you a butterfly, my friend,” I tell him softly.
“Feeding time!” Portman leads the others in, all carrying food and drink.
I try to look innocent.
Big mistake. Maya knows my innocent look.
“Taz, what did you do?”
I widen my eyes angelically. “Um, not much.”
She strides past me and gets a good look at Adam’s face. She tries to look annoyed but can’t hide her laugh.
I hurriedly scoot as the others walk over to investigate.
Julie laughs so hard that she drops her drink on the floor. Even the Bash brothers can’t help but laugh.
“Taz…” Maya gives me a warning look.
“At least it wasn’t a wall,” I offer in my defense.
That does it, every gives up trying not to laugh at Adam with a big purple butterfly painted across his face.
“What did you use to do that?” Guy asks me. “It’s really good.”
I wince and point to the makeup kit on the table.
“Taz!” Maya explodes. “That’s mine!”
“That’s it!” She strides over to me. “When we get back to school you’re taking photography lessons. No more painting for you!”
As punishments go, I like this one.
Adam chooses this moment to wake up. “Wass goin’ on?” He mumbles groggily.
“Nothing, love,” I tell him quickly. “Just admiring your new look.”
He grins and starts singing, “She’s got the look, she’s got the look… What in the world can make a brown-eyed girl turn blue… When everything I’ll ever do, I do for you… ”
I interrupt, while everyone else starts giggling again.
“Listen, Ads,” I take a seat on the floor next to him. “I’m a big fan of Roxette too, but your voice just doesn’t suit their songs. What other songs do you know?”
He looks at me quizzically. It’s so hard to keep a straight face when every time he makes a new expression that butterfly on his face seems to flutter.
“We are the champions, my friends… ”
“That’s the stuff!” I yell encouragingly and join in with him. I grab a lighter off the table and flick it. I start swaying like I’m at a concert.
The others don’t share my glee.
“TAZ! PUT THE LIGHTER DOWN!”
Adam’s (tripped out) POV
I like this place. It’s cool, in a weird sort of way. The beach is beautiful, and those hula guys over there are pretty hot.
If only those damn oompa lumpas would stop running at me with their stupid claws! I didn’t know that oompa lumpas even had claws!
There’s a butterfly on my face. I don’t know what it’s doing there, either… it’s just sitting on my nose. It kind of tickles. Every once in a while it’ll move, and that really tickles!
Charlie’s somewhere around. He was dressed up like a prince before, and he kissed me. I woke up, and was a little pissed off at him. He’s not supposed to kiss me, we’re broken up.
I start to wander around, looking for something to do. I turn as I hear noise behind me. The oompa lumpas are coming, and they’re armed with torches of fire!
“Sing, Ads, Sing!” they chant, surrounding me.
I croak a little, then finally come out with “We are the champions, my friend… ”
They sway in a circle around me like they’re at a concert. A big giant comes and blows out the torches. The oompa lumpas jump on him, biting his ankles and scratching his shins. The giant falls, screaming. I run out of the way—I don’t want to be trampled!
I run to the other side of the beach. A huge cat is sitting on the beach, and it’s purring. It stretches out its paws and I almost get caught by one of the claws. What is with this place? It is so lethal!
I turn and see a hut. It looks like a place where I can hide out. I walk inside, and am greeted a room filled with beautiful flowers. I hear sneezing in the corner, and I turn to see Charlie. Poor thing, he’s really allergic to pollen.
“Hi,” I say quietly. This is going to be awkward, I think.
He stands up without saying a word. I try to cover my surprise. He’s wearing a loincloth made out of leaves!
“Why are you wearing that, Charlie?” I ask him.
“My name’s not Charlie, it’s Evan. They wanted to call me Eve, but I refused. I’m too manly,” he tells me.
“I don’t get it.” I’m sure my face portrays this.
“Oh, come on, Adam! I’m your Eve!” He grins. “And don’t be shocked about the loincloth. It’s better than what you’re wearing!”
I look down at myself to see that I’m completely naked. I gasp and look around for something to cover myself with. Charlie—Evan—giggles. He leads me to a bed, which seems to be made of clouds. I quickly get under the covers in an attempt to conceal myself. He puts an arm around me. There’s a window across from us, and outside I can see the oompa lumpas attempting to recuperate themselves. The cat has apparently eaten a few of them.
“So, what are you thinking about?” Charlie/Evan asks me.
“I don’t know,” I answer. And I really don’t. I’m not really thinking, just observing the events around me.
“You don’t miss me?” he asks, sticking his lower lip out.
“Well, yeah, I do,” I admit.
“Especially this?” Charlie/Evan leans towards me and gives me a soft kiss. My arms wrap around him, and he slowly moves on top of me. He starts to kiss down my body, finally stopping at my—
“Adam! Adam, wake up!” The female voice is really loud.
I groan. “Stop it, Evan… I’m awake!”
“Who the hell is Evan?” a second voice asks.
I blink, and open my eyes. Taz is sitting on my chest, trying to wake me up. Her claws… I mean, nails, are digging into me. Portman is peering down at me with interest. He looks like a giant.
“Oh, hey. I just had a weird dream.” I tell him, trying to shake my head clear of those last few images. “What time is it?”
“About five. You’ve been sleeping all day,” Julie tells me. I turn to look at her, and for a minute she looks like a gigantic cat.
“Hey, you guys, Matthew’s home!” Maya calls from the hallway.
“Why the hell is it so dark?” I can hear my cousin’s voice.
“The power went out this morning, and we’ve been in darkness all day!” Maya tells him excitedly.
“What? Why didn’t you just turn on the emergency generator?” Matthew comes into the room that I’m in, giving me a confused look. “Adam knows where it is…”
Everyone gives me a dumbfounded look. I groan, and smack my forehead.
“I completely forgot! I’m sorry… but I hurt my wrist, and then I had to take some painkillers, and I… I just forgot!” I try to explain.
“Adam, we’re going to kill you!” Taz exclaims happily.
“Oh, it’s ok. You can’t say it wasn’t an interesting day!” Julie grins.
I’ll have to agree.
Notes: The lyrics are shamelessly stolen from Roxette’s “The Look” and Queen’s “We Are The Champions”.
Chapter 19: Downpour of Emotions by Star
Notes: This is a very average chapter despite my nice break from writing. Don’t worry, it’s just a filler. We have plans. Good plans.
“Fulton! Bombay’s on the phone!” Charlie calls up the stairs to me.
Portman and I exchange a look. It’s the most he’s said since his outburst at Taz yesterday.
Since yesterday’s bonding session (translation: inability to get out of each other’s way), we’ve all pretty much stayed in our own rooms. Except Charlie and Adam who have taken to avoiding each other like the plague. The weather hasn’t got any better so we’re still stuck indoors.
I get up and wander downstairs to the phone in the hall, wondering why phones are only ever installed in the most public place in the house.
I pick up the phone. “Hey.”
“Fulton, how are you?” Bombay’s voice sounds tinny over the phone, but concerned. “Charlie said you wanted to talk to me, he didn’t say what about.”
I take a deep breath. “I don’t really want to get into it over the phone. Can I come and see you when we get back?”
“It shouldn’t be a problem,” he says agreeably. “Are you leaving the same day as Charlie?”
“Sorry?” I thought we were all leaving the same day.
“Charlie wants me to come pick him up tomorrow.”
“Um…” I can’t really blame Charlie for wanting to go, but why didn’t he mention this to us? “I’m not sure. I’ll talk it over with Portman.”
“Well, think it over. I’ve got space in the car for three more.”
We talk awhile longer, and decide on a day and time for me and Portman to come to see him in his office. He did ask if we wanted to go to his apartment, but I decided I’d rather see him in his office. I’m not sure why, but it felt right.
I wander into the living room. Julie and Guy have fallen asleep on the couch together, and Taz is drawing them. Using a sketch pad this time. She’s drawing a picture of them, not on them.
Portman walks in looking like the living dead. He doesn’t sleep well when things are tense, and this week has almost killed him, especially with me waking him up in the middle of the night for bizarre chats.
He hands Taz a glass of water and takes a sip of his own cup of coffee. “You want some?” he offers.
I shake my head and take a seat with him. “You’re being nice to the Purple Peril,” I note in a low voice.
“Someone should, the way Charlie’s being with her. Maya’s upstairs trying to talk to Adam.” He grins. “Watch this! Taz, you’re a lunatic but we still love you.”
Taz doesn’t react in the slightest. Just continues sketching with frenzied interest.
“Hey Taz…” he continues. She takes a sip of her water and nods.
“Is this what you’ve been doing while I was on the phone?”
“Yeah. Taz, you bizarre purple freak…”
“Fine thanks,” she finally responds distractedly. She dips her pencil in the water she’s just drunk from, frowns as if she can’t work out how it happened, throws the pencil down and picks up another. She draws for a few more minutes, then downs the rest of her water in one gulp.
I share a grin with my boyfriend. Taz is actually quite sweet when she’s not talking. Or bouncing. Or cursing in Irish.
Maya and Adam wander in. Adam looks like he’s got the hangover from hell, the painkillers are giving him bad after-effects. Maya looks slightly worried about him. She walks over to her girlfriend and peers over her shoulder at the drawing. She nods approvingly and drops a kiss on Taz’s head. Taz remains oblivious.
Charlie chooses this moment to walk in. He glares at Taz and turns to walk out again.
“Charlie, wait,” I say. “What’s this about you leaving tomorrow?”
Portman gives me a surprised look, Charlie just looks guilty.
“Well?” I prod.
“Look, I don’t want to spend the rest of spring break here. Can you blame me? I’d rather be at home with my Mom being bored senseless while she plans her wedding.”
“We’re not getting at you,” Portman tells him. “It just would have been nice if you’d mentioned it to us.”
“Well, I have now!” he yells. “Is that ok?”
Taz looks up, slightly stunned to be surrounded by the entire group. I expect when she started drawing it was just her and Julie and Guy.
“What’s going on?” she asks in confusion.
“Charlie’s going home tomorrow,” Maya tells her softly.
Taz looks disappointed, then her face hardens. “Fine.” She turns back to her drawing, and is deeply irritated when Guy yawns and stretches, waking Julie up in the process.
“So you’re just going?” Adam asks, sounding hurt. “You weren’t going to tell us?”
Charlie rolls his eyes. “Like you care!”
“Grow up, Charlie. Just because things aren’t going your way, doesn’t mean you can act like…” Adam can’t seem to think of a suitable insult.
“Like what?” Charlie responds.
Portman stands up. “Time out!” He moves between them. “No fighting. You two have issues, fair enough, but we don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.”
They both turn their glares on him, Adam manages to convert his glare into a tolerant expression. Charlie doesn’t bother.
“Charlie’s going home. He wants to and we can’t stop him,” Portman says in a patient tone. “I’m guessing there’s room in the car for a few more. Does anyone else want to go home early?” He turns to Adam, “Sorry, man, but I don’t think you’re included in that offer.”
Adam smirks at him, seeming almost amused my Portman’s mediation efforts.
Julie tentatively raises her hand like we’re still at school or something. She mentions several good reasons for all of us to leave. Bad weather, stuff to do at school, we all came together, we should leave together.
I can’t help notice she doesn’t mention the best reason of all, that it’s hell here.
I can’t help agree with her either.
Chapter 20: Gust of Inspiration by Victory Thru Tears
We’re leaving. Technically, there are five days left of our vacation, but all of us are fed up of each other. I should have expected it, I almost killed myself by spending Christmas vacation with just Taz, it’s ten times worse with more people.
We’re going to go back to Eden Hall. They allow people to stay at the dorms during vacations, because many of the students don’t live in the area. Not many interesting things happen, which is why we were glad to escape to the lake.
The lake, of course, has been no much better. Fighting, cursing, yelling, screaming, breaking up, almost breaking up…
The worst part is the sweltering heat. The sky is ugly and grey, but it’s probably ninety degrees. I stand on the porch with Taz as everyone loads their bags into the two cars.
Both of Charlie’s parents came to pick us up. I’m not sure what Charlie told them, but I think they figured out that something was wrong with all of us.
Adam looks unsure of what to do with himself. I know he feels very uncomfortable being with Casey and Gordon. I walk over to him, and touch his arm.
“Why don’t you ride with me and Taz?” It’s more of a statement than a question. He nods gratefully.
“Let’s get going, guys!” Casey says loudly, fanning herself with her hand. Charlie hops into Bombay’s car. I guess that means we’re going with his mom.
The Bash Brothers get in with Charlie, leaving Guy and Julie confused. I feel bad… I don’t want to split them up, but they’re really the only impartial ones. I walk over to Julie.
“Come with us, show a little girly solidarity,” I tease, poking her arm.
“But Adam’s going with you…” Julie looks confused.
“Like I said, girly solidarity.” I grin.
Adam shoots me a look, but smiles back. Julie sighs, and follows me into Casey’s station wagon.
“It’s alright for you,” she grumbles. “You get girly solidarity and your other half in the car.”
“See? Lesbianism is a good thing!” I say brightly.
We start to drive away from the lake house. Adam stares out of the window longingly. I wonder if he’s looking at the house, the water, or the car that Charlie’s in.
Casey mutters a curse word from the front seat.
“Hey, virgin ears here…” I scold. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m feeling very hyper. Must be the heat.
“The air conditioning’s not working,” Casey says, fiddling with the buttons.
We all groan. The hottest that Minnesota has probably ever been, and the air conditioning’s not working?
Taz and I are both appropriately dressed for this situation in shorts and swimsuit tops. Julie is wearing a t-shirt and shorts, but for some reason Adam is wearing a long sleeve shirt.
“That’s it.” Adam takes off the shirt, and stretches out in the back seat of the station wagon.
“Hey!” I say loudly as his legs push into my side.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, trying to turn over. He’s probably going to fall asleep. His wrist is still bothering him… he and Fulton were attempting to play basketball yesterday, and Adam had yet another accident. Hockey players should stick to hockey. He didn’t take any painkillers, because we figured that too many would be bad for him, but he did take some Tylenol. He says that any drug makes him tired.
Taz is chatting away to Casey, and Julie is staring out of the window glumly, headphones over her ears.
My hand starts to get that familiar itch. Taz says that she gets it too, when she wants to draw. I need to write right now.
I try to listen to Taz and Casey’s conversation.
“And then you wouldn’t believe what he said! He actually blamed me for his break up with Adam! Honestly, Casey, he’s such a pig-headed twit!”
Casey laughs. She loves Taz.
The itch is getting stronger, and I can’t resist it. I look around for my backpack to try and find my notebook. I groan when I realize that it’s in Bombay’s car with the rest of the boys. Dammit!
All I find is a permanent marker on the floor of the car. This is what I get for not being inspired for the past five days, when I had perfect opportunity to go and write on the beach. Now I’m stuck with a stupid marker and nothing to write on.
My gaze stops on Adam. His skin, which is normally a hideous shade of white, is nicely tanned from spending time outside. But it’s so… bare.
I grin. If Taz can do it, why can’t I?
He doesn’t even notice as I lean over and start to scribble on him in my loopy handwriting. I giggle to myself as I dot one of my I’s on his left nipple. Adam’s not flinching at all. In fact, he has a small smile on his face. Oh god, what if he thinks I’m Charlie, doing unspeakable things to him? Yuck!
I finally make it all the way down to just below his belly button. I have no more room to write, but I’m in the middle of a sentence! I shake him a little. He doesn’t open his eyes, just groans and turns over onto his stomach. Perfect!
I sit back on my seat less than fifteen minutes, putting the cap on the marker. Julie is asleep, and Taz and Casey are still talking. Julie opens her eyes at my movement, and wrinkles her nose a little.
“What’s that smell?” she asks.
Ah yes, the fumes of the permanent marker. I shrug innocently.
“You remind me of Taz right now…” Julie says suspiciously.
“What?” Taz turns around. “I heard my…”
She cuts off as she sees Adam. She stops for a moment, her face screwed up in bemusement.
“What did you do?” she finally asks.
“I had inspiration,” I say, my tone angelic.
Taz starts to giggle as she reads a passage from Adam’s back.
“I watched as he stared at his ex-lover. The sexual tension between them was thick enough to cut with a machete. I knew that Chris was trying with all of his might to try and restrain himself from jumping on top of… Aaron…”
Taz trails off. Casey is giving me an amused look through the rearview mirror.
“Aaron? Chris?” Julie asks, giggling.
I shrug. “New story I was working on. Involves two men very much in love with each other, but unable to see it.”
The car dissolves into laughter. Even Casey has to pull onto the shoulder of the road. Adam wakes up.
“What is your problem? Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep?” He grumbles, completely oblivious to the fact that he’s covered in my writing.
I smile, and lean my head back against the seat. The itch is coming back…
Chapter 21: Raining Cats and Dogs by Star
I walk Julie up to her dorm, glad to be away from the others. Portman and Fulton are cool, but they seem very worried and weren’t too forthcoming about making conversation. Charlie sulked the entire ride home, refusing to cheer up even for Bombay.
Once we’re out of hearing range of the others I mutter, “Well, that was the funnest four hours a person could have that didn’t involve tests, monsters or public nudity.”
Julie laughs. “I guess I got in the right car after all.”
“I bet you had more fun than I did,” I agree taking her hand.
“Well, Taz didn’t shut up for the entire journey—imagine, four hours and she didn’t even pause for breath. Maya was totally engrossed in writing a story and Adam was asleep the whole time.” She laughs loudly and I know there’s more to the story than that.
“What’s so funny?”
“Well, the thing is…” She giggles again. “Maya was writing her story on Adam.”
“You mean Taz was?” I ask.
“No, Maya. She wrote it all over him in permanent marker.”
I grin. “I thought she was supposed to be the sane one.”
“Well, she still is in comparison to Taz.” Julie pauses at her door, digging in her pockets for her key.
I set my bag down and put my hands on her waist, she stops searching for her key and leans against her door.
A quick glance along the hall proves we’re alone and I lean forward and kiss her. Her arms move around my neck.
I feel her sink backwards and overbalance too.
We land on the floor in an inelegant heap at someone’s feet. I realize that leaning on a door is a very stupid thing to do if there is someone behind it.
Julie and I look up and see Connie standing above us, her hand over her mouth in surprise.
“Um, hi,” Julie says apologetically.
Connie looks at her in a mixture of confusion and jealousy. “Hi,” she says quietly. “Um, I was just heading out.”
She steps over the two of us, still sprawled on the floor, and runs down the hall.
Ok, so Connie hasn’t been the nicest person recently, but I feel bad about the way she found out about Julie and me.
Julie is biting her lip nervously, I guess she feels the same way. She shifts awkwardly and I realize that I’m still lying on top of her.
“Sorry,” I mutter, getting up and offering her my hand. She takes it and I haul her to her feet. “We shouldn’t feel bad,” I say, more to convince myself than her. “She is with Luis.”
“No she’s not.” Julie tells me. “They’re not together… they’re just…”
“I mean, Luis is dating that cheerleader, and Connie is just… um, lonely?”
As Julie continues to babble it occurs to me that I didn’t say ‘oh’ out loud. I decide to silence her with a kiss.
When I get back to my room I find Luis sprawled out on his bed reading. I have to blink several times to make sure I’m not hallucinating.
He gives me a big fake smile. “Nice holiday? Did the Queertet turn you?”
I sigh deeply. He constantly asks if they’ve turned me. “Yes, Luis. They did. I’m a raging ‘mo. Did you know they get free gifts if they turn over ten straights? There are some great prizes, and you’re first on my ‘to turn’ list!”
He pales comically. I wish I’d said that a long time ago.
“Except I probably won’t succeed,” I continue, my voice loaded with venom. “What with you dating a cheerleader and screwing Connie.”
“What’s it to you if I am?” he snaps, but looks surprised that I know.
“She may not be the most open minded person, but she’s fundamentally good, which is better than you. If you don’t want her, leave her alone.”
“Guy, she’s not your girl any more. You don’t get to say who she can and can’t see,” he replies smugly.
“No, but I could probably beat you up just as a warning,” I say. I’ve no idea where that came from, I’m not a violent person. “And don’t forget that the Bash Brothers are my friends, and they’re just looking for an excuse to pound you.”
Luis pales again. This day isn’t a complete wash out.
“I’ll think about it,” he mutters glumly.
“Do more than that,” I advise.
Chapter 22: Facing the Wind by Victory Thru Tears
I don’t bother putting my shirt back on as I enter my dorm building. The writing on me is already starting to smear from my sweat, and it would be worse if I had on another layer of clothing.
“What am I, the human notebook?” I grumble as I enter our room.
“What happened to you?” I turn around to see Fulton and Portman peering through the doorway.
I hold my arms up. My entire upper body is covered in ink… arms, back, chest, stomach.
“Maya got inspired, and decided to write an erotic novel on me.” I try to sound annoyed about it, but when they start laughing, I join in.
Fulton peers at my arm, and his eyes widen as he silently reads a passage of Maya’s work.
“Whoa! That’s dirty! I’d never think that something like that could come from a mind as sweet as hers!” He laughs.
I roll my eyes. “You have no idea. We’ve had many chats before, and the girl is the devil.”
The laughter stops as Charlie appears behind the Bash Brothers. He looks at us suspiciously.
Fulton and Portman exchange a glance.
“You know, we really should get going to talk to Bombay…” Portman elbows his boyfriend in the ribs.
“Yeah, don’t want to miss him…”
They bolt out faster than I had expected for two people of their size.
Charlie shoots me a glare. I sigh inwardly. Why, oh why, did I switch rooms with Guy? Oh yeah, because I was—am?—in love with Charlie. Right now, though, I don’t want to be sharing all of the private moments of my life with him. I walk into the bathroom to try and wash off the marker from my body, locking the door behind me.
I only take three steps coming back out before landing flat on my face. The pain shoots through my wrist yet again. God, three injuries in three days?
“Oh, sorry.” Charlie looks at me, sincere concern on his face. He holds out a hand to help me up.
I scramble up on my own. “What the hell is your problem? Can’t you put your stuff away? You made me hurt my wrist again!”
His expression darkens. “Hey, it was an accident. And plus, you fell on your own!”
This is stupid and petty. So why am I continuing? “If it weren’t for your stupidity, we wouldn’t be in this situation!”
“That has nothing to do with this!” He knows that I’m not referring to the bag on the floor.
“It has everything to do with this! You don’t realize what you’re doing to people, you’re just wrapped up in yourself and the fact that I got a life and broke up with you.”
“Got a life?” he snarls. “That was a low blow, Banks. You only broke up with me because you had nothing better to do, and you love to cause conflict.”
“Just shut up Charlie.” I wave my good wrist at him, motioning from him to go away. “Just shut up and get out of my sight.”
He doesn’t look angry anymore. Just hurt. He turns and leaves the room, slamming the door behind him.
I lay awake in my bed. It’s well past one in the morning, and I haven’t been able to sleep a wink. Charlie’s awake too, I can tell by the absence of his mumbling. He actually talks more in his sleep than while conscious.
He tried to talk Guy into switching rooms again, but he wouldn’t agree. He insisted that he needed to keep Luis in check, and that if he switched back with me, Luis would probably beat the life out of me. He’s not happy about being kicked off the team.
I shift my position, and move my hand on top of the pillow. The silver ring on my finger glints in the moonlight.
I had almost forgotten about it, truthfully. It hasn’t been taken off of my finger in about four months, since the day that he put it on. I really don’t know if it’s right to keep it. I’m not saying that I don’t want to… it’s just…
I have come to terms with my feelings for Charlie. I was the world’s biggest idiot to break up with him, and I can easily admit that I had no real reason besides the fact that my pride was hurt. After the girls made up so easily, my jealousy swelled. I’m not sure why. So I decided to return the favor to Charlie and instill some heartache into him. Now I’m sorely paying for my decision.
Contrary to popular belief, Charlie and I really do not fight often. But we are both very full of ourselves, and love to be right. Usually I let him win in fights, since he is the more domineering one. And we also usually make up very quickly… but this time…
I’m supposed to take the initiative, aren’t I?
I can’t. It’s not me. But I’m the one that hurt him, so I…
“Charlie?” Did that really just come out of my mouth?
I look over at him, he’s facing the wall, and for a moment I wonder if he’s finally gone to sleep.
“What?” The reply comes back, cold and hard.
The moonlight glints on the ring again as I move my hand.
“Can I talk to you real quick?”
I think he catches the hesitant tone in my voice. He’s probably shocked that I’m talking to him without swearing.
“Sure.” He rolls over, and sits up so that his legs are dangling over the edge of the bed. He gazes at me intently.
I move so that I’m in the same position.
“Do you… do you want the ring back?” I ask, choking slightly.
Charlie looks taken aback. He clears his throat, and looks around the room a little bit. What seems like an eternity later, he looks back at me. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t gotten any sleep and I’m hallucinating, but his eyes look a little bit shiny.
“No. You keep it. I gave it to you, it’s yours.”
“I said just keep it!” He cuts me off, and the wall between us goes back up.
I lie down on my bed, pulling the covers over my head.
I glance down at the silver ring now on my finger. He’s still holding my hand tightly, as if afraid to let go.
“It seems more like a proposal to me,” I tease.
He shrugs, and slides down so that he’s on his stomach. “Maybe it is.”
“So what are you proposing?” I roll over as well.
He looks embarrassed. “Don’t start laughing at me again.”
I promise, serious but amused at his slightly red ears.
“I’m proposing that you don’t stop loving me, because I don’t know if I could deal with that.”
That sentence makes my whole Christmas even better than it has been already. Forget everything else, I have the boy of my dreams right here with me, and what’s even better is that he feels the same for me as I do for him.
“Oh Charles…” I plant a kiss on his forehead. “Like that could ever happen.”
Chapter 23: Laws of Nature by Star
Dedication: To the word ‘Argh’ and to Vic, for letting me Argh at her. Also, to Sid the Wylie Chapter Gnome and Keeper of the Argh.
Notes: I know nothing about law. I had to ad-lib. Don’t hate me. Email me if I’ve made any heinous mistakes and I’ll correct them.
Note the Second from 2014: Yeah, so Bombay was a litigation lawyer, and now practices family? Seriously, self, wtf?
Bombay’s office is huge and very scary. Everything’s so perfect and carefully decorated. It’s terrifying. One entire wall is a window, I wonder if Bombay ever gets dizzy looking out of it, we’re really high up.
Fulton looks the epitome of calm. How can he be so calm? I’m a wreck and it’s not even my life that we’re going to be discussing.
Bombay’s secretary comes in with drinks for us, explaining that he’s running late but will be with us shortly. I suddenly understand how Taz feels when she gets hyper.
I make a mental note to try to be a little more understanding towards her, and try to restrain myself from throwing her out when she annoys me.
“Are you ok?” Fulton asks in a hushed tone. I guess this big office is unnerving him too.
“Fine. More importantly, are you?”
“Fine.” He takes my hand with shaking fingers.
I’m not sure why we’re so nervous. This is Coach Bombay, we’ve known him a couple of years—well, Fulton’s known him longer.
“Hey guys, sorry I’m late. Meetings, phsss!” Bombay walks in, I expected him to be wearing suit in this kind of office, but he’s just wearing jeans and a shirt.
He takes a seat behind his desk and leans forward. “So, what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?”
Fulton shifts awkwardly in his seat but doesn’t speak. I squeeze his hand encouragingly, but he still doesn’t say a word.
“Fulton, talk to me,” Bombay says in a soft tone. “This is obviously very important.”
I wonder if I should say something, but it’s not my place. This is about him.
“My parents,” he says in a choked voice. “They don’t…” He sniffs and wipes his eyes. Every time he thinks he’s done crying over them he finds he has a few more tears left. My heart goes out to him. I hate to see him like this.
“They don’t want a gay son,” I say softly. “He hasn’t been back since Thanksgiving.”
Bombay’s eyes widen. “You haven’t been home for five months?”
Fulton shakes his head. “It’s not my home. They beat me and threw me out. Said they’d do worse if I went back. I’ve spent the holidays with Portman.”
“Why didn’t you say something sooner?” Bombay asks with concern.
Fulton shrugs. “I really don’t know.”
“Fulton, you can’t keep staying with Dean’s parents.”
“Why do you think I’m here?” he snaps.
I squeeze his hand.
“Sorry, didn’t mean…” He sighs. “I’m really sorry.”
Bombay shrugs it off easily. “Not a problem. Do you have Godparents?”
Fulton shakes his head. “No, I’m not really a church person.”
“Do you have any relatives that you would be happy to have as your guardians? If you don’t, that’s ok, there are plenty of options.”
“Um, there’s my aunt and uncle, they live fairly local. I don’t know how they’d feel about me being gay though.”
“I can talk to them if you want,” Bombay offers. “I can do it now, or later.”
“You don’t have to, I can do it,” he says, the look on his face tells me he doesn’t relish the idea of calling his relatives and telling them first of all he’s gay, and secondly, he’s homeless.
“It’s the least I can do to help. I’ll help out with the paperwork—if you all agree. Unless your parents decide they want you back it should be fairly straightforward, if somewhat lengthy, process.”
“Thanks, Coach,” he says gratefully.
Bombay allows himself a smile. “All this time and you all still call me Coach,” he says to lighten the atmosphere. “When are you going to start calling me Gordon?”
“Think we’ll stick to Coach,” I say. It would be weird calling him anything else.
We talk awhile longer, Fulton agrees to call Coach with the phone numbers of his aunt and uncle, then Coach drives us back to the dorms.
“Thanks for today,” Fulton murmurs as we lie in bed.
“I didn’t do anything.” I say, feeling slightly guilty. I’m not sure what else I was supposed to do, but I didn’t really say much.
“You were there for me. It meant a lot.”
“I love you, I wouldn’t have been anywhere else,” I say honestly.
“I love you too.”
Chapter 24: Wedded Bliss I
Charlie’s POV by Victory Thru Tears
Day one back after spring break. Day eighty-two since the hockey season ended. Day eight of my life without Adam.
I enter the room where I have health class. I really don’t want to be here at Eden Hall, but health class is going to be hell, and then some.
It’s required for freshmen to take Health for one semester, and gym the other. I was lucky, and had gym last semester. Health is an easy enough class, it’s just that…
Adam, Taz, Maya, Connie, Luis, Goldberg, and Linda are all in this class. So are Julie, Guy, Fulton, and Portman, who are all fine. It’s the first group I’m not too keen on seeing.
I suppose it doesn’t help that we got to choose our own seats at the beginning of the class last quarter. I’m in the middle of Taz and Adam.
Adam doesn’t look at me. We haven’t spoken since that night I told him to keep the ring.
That really confuses me. Does he want to keep it? He must, because he’s stubborn enough to give it back if he didn’t want it. So… if he wants it, does he still have feelings for me? And if he has feelings for me, why isn’t he acting on them?
I could go on for hours on that path, but I think I’ll try to pay attention in class. Our teacher, Mrs. Bean is a small and stocky woman. She’s sweet enough, but a little eccentric.
“Class, I am pleased to announce that it is that time of the year again!”
I see Fulton and Portman exchange a worried glance in front of me. I share their concern.
“It’s time for the infamous marriage project!”
I feel my face go pale. Oh no. She mentioned this at the beginning of the semester, but I had forgotten about it. For two weeks we’ll all be paired with someone who will act as our husband or wife. You could be stuck with a business, kids, or some other kind of disaster.
“Since I haven’t been able to do anything over this break besides grade your last tests… which were atrocious, by the way…” she cuts off and glares at us. The glare shortly turns into a grin. “I’ve already paired you up. And no, these were not random pairings at all. I’ve put you with people I think you will learn about married life very easily with.”
She sounds horribly evil.
“David Kirchall and Erika Clifford.” They exchange glances, and Mrs. Bean motions for them to sit together. She continues. “Maya Hansen and Fulton Reed.”
Maya and Fulton don’t look too unhappy. I think they’re glad that they’ve been put with each other, because at least they get along.
“Julie Gaffney and Greg Goldberg. Guy Germaine and Linda Simon.”
Poor Guy. Stuck with Linda. It kind sucks—he and Julie actually had a chance of being put together, but instead he’s placed with the devil in female form. No, wait, that’s Taz.
It reminds me of a TV show I once saw—Duncan’s River, or something like that? I don’t know… it was on in the background while I was doing some homework. All of the main characters were paired up together and given a budget to work with. The only worthwhile guy on the show—Percy?—was paired with a snotty rich girl. Percy wanted a really awesome looking car but she wouldn’t let him have it. I think he finally got it in the end, good thing. I hope I’m not paired with someone like that girl.
“Charlie Conway and Taryn McDonald.”
I have a habit of speaking way too soon.
I shoot a glare at the purple haired girl, who grins somewhat meekly back. I roll my eyes.
“Adam Banks, Connie Moreau.”
I look up at Adam. I can’t help but feel kind of bad. It just figures that he of all people would be placed with the Ice Queen. He looks just about as happy as I figure he would.
“Now, boys… I know that you might not exactly be happy about this, but… there was an uneven number of people in the class. So, I’ve decided that instead of making each of you do this project individually, I would have you together and you could work as a young gay couple.”
A few people in the class laugh out loud, and I glance at the two remaining people in the class.
Portman and Luis.
Mendoza looks like he’s going to pass out, but Portman has a wide grin on his face. I can tell he’s really looking forward to this project already.
I, on the other hand, am not. I’m not speaking to Purple at the moment, so why would I want to be paired with her on a project? This sucks.
Mrs. Bean tells us to get together to start to work, and that she will come around to give us our individual assignments. She picks up a small carton of eggs on her desk, and I start to grow wary again.
She reaches us first, and consults her sheet. “You two will be dealing as a lower middle class couple. Charlie, you’re working as a cook at a local restaurant, and Taryn, you’re still in college. Oh yes.” She opens her carton of eggs. “You have one child. Sex, name, everything is up to you… but I do expect to see it addressed in your final report. And Taryn, you’re also four months pregnant with the second child.”
Taz makes a face at the teacher as she moves to the next couple (Fulton and Maya), probably because she called her Taryn. She then turns to giggle at me. “Two children? Wow, Charlie… you’ve been a busy boy!”
A blush creeps onto my face. “Shut up, Taz.”
“That’s Mrs. Conway to you, snookums.” She seems to have forgotten our argument, and has started up her life mission of annoying me again.
I sigh, and try to be grateful that I haven’t been paired up with Connie or Luis, or even worse, Adam. But as Taz chatters on about naming the unborn child Charles-Taz Jr., I find that it is a little hard.
I wonder if anyone will object if I shove this pencil into my eye.
Taz’s POV by Star
Damn him. I know he hates me, but sneaking out of study hall to get away from working with me? Damn it!
One look around the room shows Luis Mendoza wishes he’d thought to sneak out. He looks terrified of Portman.
I wink at Maya, grab my bag and sneak out too.
I follow him down the drive and out of the gates to the bus stop. I’m glad he’s not skating, I’m useless at that. I allow myself a grin, thinking of the time he took me skating and I was so bad he ended up piggy-backing me around the rink. Just over a week ago we were best friends. Now he hates me.
I thankfully collapse on the bench next to him.
“Go away,” he says in exasperation.
“No,” I say. “You hate me, fine. But I’m not failing because of you and your issues. I intend to not only pass this, but collect my first A of the school year in something other than art. And you’re going to help me whether you like it or not.”
“Taz, I’m going home. And you’re not coming with me.”
The bus pulls up and he gladly gets on. I quickly follow.
Charlie grunts at the driver and slings some money down. I have no idea where he lives, despite having charmed Casey into inviting me over whenever I want, so I mumble, “Um, same as him please.”
The driver gives me a toothy grin. “Stalking isn’t the best way to get a boyfriend.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I say loudly. “He’s my husband.”
Everyone on the bus looks from me to Charlie, who looks like he wants the earth to swallow him, and laughs.
Payback’s a bitch, Charles.
I have to run to keep up with him after we get off the bus. He runs to his front door and starts scrabbling around for his keys. In desperation he rings the doorbell.
Casey opens the door and Charlie almost knocks her down in his attempt to put a door between us.
I hear him say, “Mom, shut the door.”
I make it just in time to put my hand on the door. “Hey Casey!” I say with genuine joy. She’s my favorite parent by far. Maya’s Mom and Dad are cool, but I get the feeling they don’t like me. Casey does. I’m not completely oblivious to the rest of the world, I do realize that I’m highly irritating at times, and I’m well aware of who I annoy and who I don’t.
“Hi, Taz.” She smiles and shoulders her son out of the way and holds a hand out to me. “Come on in.”
Charlie sighs loudly as I step over the threshold.
There’s a moment of awkwardness as I’m ushered into the living room. I see the Charlie Sheen-alike is here. He’s also a nice guy. It’s deathly silent.
Time for a Taz moment.
I rummage in my bag and bring out the egg we got earlier. I turn to Casey. “Congratulations, you’re a grandmother! I named her Casey after you.” I pat my stomach. “And there’s another one due in five months. I’m going to call it Taz-Charles Jr.!”
Casey giggles, Gordon snorts, and Charlie storms out.
“Oops.” I say. “I meant to say Charles-Taz Jr. Men and their egos.” I suddenly remember there’s still one guy in the room. “Oops, again. You don’t have an ego,” I tell Gordon, who starts to laugh.
“Taz,” Casey puts a hand on my shoulder. “Come into the kitchen and tell me why you’re brandishing an egg and telling me it’s my granddaughter.”
She gives Gordon a look that clearly says go after my son and beat some sense into his thick head.
I allow Casey to lead me away. “Marriage project at school. Charles and I got paired together. Didn’t I tell you at Christmas I was going to marry him?”
I grin at her and set the Casey-egg on the table. “It was a beautiful day. Maya and Adam were the bridesmaids—they looked marvelous in lilac—and I can’t remember who gave me away, but Gordon was Charlie’s best man, and the Bash Brothers were also involved. You looked stunning, not many women can wear hats well.”
Casey gives me an indulgent smile, but I really should be quiet soon. I know that Pepsi during study hall was a mistake.
“I’ll hush now.”
Casey nods approvingly. “So, I take it my son is still being a… what did you call him? A ‘pig-headed twit’?”
Oops. “Did I say that? He’s my best friend, I’m allowed to get nasty when he hurts my feelings.”
At this point the pig-headed twit in question walks in. Gordon jabs him in the ribs and he sighs deeply. “Fine, we’ll talk, but only because I don’t want to fail this project.”
“Charlie…” Casey says warningly.
“That’s all I’m asking.” Actually, it’s nowhere near what I want, but I don’t want to cause any more ructions that I have already.
Casey is still glaring at him, and Gordon looks on disapprovingly. I sigh inwardly, time for another Taz moment. “Oh Charles!” I say in a melodramatic tone, putting my hand on my heart. “Our first fight, now we get to make up. I’m welling up with emotion.” I dab at my eyes for effect.
He fights the amused smirk threatening to take over his face. “Don’t push me, Taryn.”
He called me Taryn! This time my Taz moment isn’t forced. I can’t help but leap into his arms. Several months of friendship have prepared him for me jumping on him, and surprisingly he doesn’t let me fall.
Casey giggles again, any other parent would be calling the men in white coats by now. Gordon looks amused, and asks Casey in a low voice, “Is she usually like this?”
Casey just smiles and replies, “Sometimes she’s hyper.”
Charlie finally smiles at me. It’s only been eight days, but I’ve really missed him.
“Come on, Taryn, let’s go ace this rotten project.”
He turns, still with me in his arms, and as he does, my feet knock the table. The Casey-egg wobbles and starts rolling towards the edge. “Charles! No!” I yell.
Gordon leaps forward to catch it, but doesn’t get there in time. The egg smashes all over his feet. He turns to Charlie. “What is it that you and eggs have against me?”
Charlie laughs, so I guess it’s a private joke.
“We just killed our firstborn!” I wail. “Now social services will take Charles-Taz Jr. off us when it arrives.” From the shaking, I can tell that Charlie’s fighting another laugh.
Casey goes to the fridge and gets another egg. She holds it out to me. “Here’s Casey the Second. Now please get out of my kitchen.”
I take the egg and Charlie and I leave—with me still in his arms.
One last Taz moment, I think.
“We’re off to consummate our marriage!” I call over my shoulder.
Charlie laughs so hard he drops me. Casey II survives the fall, even if I don’t feel too chipper.
Chapter 25: Wedded Bliss II
Maya’s POV by Victory Thru Tears
Taz waves as she ducks out of the classroom behind Charlie. I roll my eyes. I kinda want to leave too, but I have no reason. Study hall is pointless, especially since we have it the last period of the day. Poor Taz and poor Charlie. They really didn’t want to be stuck with each other. Or at least Charlie didn’t want to be with Taz.
As far as partners for this damned project go, I’m somewhat glad that Fulton and I have been paired together. He’s a fairly hard worker and has been a lot more pleasant since his talk with Bombay a few days ago.
None of us are exactly sure what Gordon said, but we figure it must have been helpful. It’s so good to see Fulton happy again.
I glance over at Adam who is working with Connie. Poor thing. I wouldn’t have minded working with him, but I’m secretly glad that I’m not. He is my best friend, but ever since his break up with Charlie he’s been attached to my hip. He’s taken to calling me Monkey for no apparent reason and he’s just always… there. I’ve kinda had a Banksie-overload.
Fulton wrinkles his nose at the paper on his desk.
We’re supposed to be a middle class family expecting twins and putting another kid through college. It’s pretty tough. We’ve been looking at tentative budgets and it’ll be a tight squeeze. I’m glad we don’t have real kids to work with, though. I hate kids, especially babies.
I sigh, and pass over another paper for Fulton to look at. We work for the rest of the period and slowly gather our things together when the bell rings.
“Want to go work in my dorm?” I ask him. “Ellie, the supervisor, is gonna be around… and she’s a real nightmare… but it might still be a little peaceful. Taz shouldn’t be back for a while.”
“Yeah, sure. It’ll be a lot cooler than working outside, plus the air conditioning is messed up in our building.” Fulton grins and we head in the direction of my room.
Once I’m situated on Taz’s bed and he on the floor, we get to work again.
I’m looking through a printout of estimated college tuitions. Damn, it is going to be expensive! Thank god I’m only a freshman.
My mind starts to wander. This is so boring… and why are we working on it so soon, anyway? It’s not due for another two weeks. I push aside the papers and roll over onto my stomach.
“So Fulton. How’s life?”
He glances up at me, slightly amused. We get along ok, but we don’t often have heart to heart chats. Technically, we’ve never had even one.
“It’s better,” he says. “A lot better.”
“What did Bombay tell you? You don’t have to tell me, of course, I was just wondering…” I hastily add.
He grins. “No, I don’t mind. He talked me into calling my aunt and uncle that live right outside of St. Paul… and they said they wouldn’t mind being my guardians.”
“Fulton, that’s great!” I scramble off the bed and jump on him, pulling into one of the hugs I have picked up from Taz.
He laughs and squeezes me back. I get off him and sit down cross-legged.
“So what else is new? How’s Portman?”
The smile on his face falters the slightest bit. It was barely noticeable but from years of trying to read Taz’s real emotions I catch it.
“What?” I ask softly, not wanting to press.
He shrugs, and takes a deep breath. “I love him and all, it’s just… I feel very in debt to him. He’s doing so much for me, and that’s going to follow me around for the rest of my life.”
“You’re not thinking of breaking up with him, are you?” I know I sound alarmed. I’m concerned for both he and Portman… it wouldn’t be for the best if they broke up right now.
“No, of course not!” he says quickly. “I just don’t know what to think.”
“Yeah, I know.” I know how he’s feeling, but I can’t exactly identify it with any situation I’ve been in. I’m not sure what else to say, so I reach out and pat him on the back. He puts his hand on mine and gives me a small smile.
“So, what about you?” he asks loudly, an obvious attempt to change the subject and get the conversation going again.
“What about me?”
“Anything new and interesting going on with you?”
I shrug. “Not really. Taz made a new masterpiece on the wall.” I motion to the new scrap of velvet on our wall. We have six in all, purple of course.
Fulton laughs. “What was it?”
“Nothing.” I respond quickly. I’m sure the blush is evident on my face.
“What?” he asks again, more insistent.
I shake my head, still red.
He gets to his feet and fights his way to the other side of the room. I’m in front of him the whole way, desperately trying to hold him back. It obviously doesn’t work—he’s double my size.
He gingerly takes off the velvet that we have tacked onto the wall, and I’m faced with Taz’s art again. She’s drawn a foot-tall drawing of me, naked. All the special parts are covered with flowers, but it’s still very embarrassing.
Fulton is doubled up with laughter. I give up and join in.
Fulton’s POV by Star
Every time I glance at the piece of velvet covering a tiny nude Maya I crack up. I really want to be around for the end of year room inspections here. I’d love to see Maya talk her way out of it. Taz would just stand there with a ‘what’s wrong?’ expression on her face, I bet.
“Let’s ditch the project,” Maya suggests. “I’m bored of raising kids and budgeting for them. It makes me glad I’m a lesbian.”
“It doesn’t have to be in for another couple of weeks,” I agree, with a grin. “Why stress now?”
She frowns. “So what do we do now?”
Hrmm. It’s a good question, we’ve exhausted our stock of conversation.
“Ooh! I have an idea!” she says excitedly.
“If it’s truth or dare I’m hurling you out of the window,” I say.
She giggles. “No, I think we should start forming alibis for either Charlie or Taz.”
“You don’t seriously believe that they’re both going to survive this project, do you?”
I laugh. Now there’s something to put a smile on my face. Charlie has spent eight days ignoring Taz, and now he’s ‘married’ to her. “I would pay good money to be a fly on the wall during their study session.”
“Yeah,” she says.
Well, we’ve talked about my relationship, now we should talk about hers. “You’re ok with them working together?”
Maya smiles at me. “Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Too much enthusiasm. “You didn’t like Charlie much a week ago.”
“Yeah, well, he’s Taz’s best friend. I know it’s platonic, I’d never thought otherwise, I just sometimes wish that she wouldn’t forget me when he’s around.”
I think after the big fight everyone expected all the bad feelings to go away. “Look, I know Taz and I aren’t great friends anymore—”
“You don’t like her anymore,” she interrupts.
“Not true, I do like her. She’s just…”
“Taz,” Maya finishes. “And Charlie really brings it out of her.”
“Maybe.” I realize that we’re going off the point. “But I know she loves you, otherwise there wouldn’t be such huge explosions every time she thinks you’re leaving her.”
She nods. “I know, I just wish I could let her be as crazy as Charlie lets her, then maybe she’d be around me more.”
I glance around the room. “And what do you call this?” I get up and point to the six sheets of velvet covering Taz’s art. “Charlie doesn’t live with her, that’s why he can deal with it. If he did they probably wouldn’t get on so well. You’re good for her.”
She gives me a big smile. “Thanks, Fulton. You’ve helped.”
“I guess we work well as a team…”
We look at each other, then the project on the floor, then back to each other.
Life imitating art, or the other way around?
Chapter 26: Wedded Bliss III
Notes from Star: Thanks to Steph for the help, I needed input! And thanks to Vic for continually inspiring me. Let’s try to finish this fic before we meet, yeah?
Notes from Vic:
Victory and Star love the Ducks,
But you might be waiting for the next chapter awhile,
Because Breeze really sucks! ©
—Poem copyright of Victory Thru Tears, May 11, 2002.
Adam’s POV by Star
I smile nervously at Connie.
“So, that’s the twins in the best day care center in the state, and our seven year old into a private junior school.” She frowns. “Are we pampering them too much?”
I remember when Portman came to talk to me after Fulton saw Charlie and I kissing at the fireworks display last year. I was terrified. I’m more nervous now. I’m not scared of Connie, but I do feel just as hyper as I did then. She’s very changeable. She can’t possibly have done a complete 180, not just because her scholarship was threatened.
“Adam?” she prods.
“Nah, they might as well have the best. Besides, we’re rich, we can afford a shrink if we screw them up too much,” I reply.
She leans back on Charlie’s bed and rubs her eyes. “You wanna take a break for a bit?”
“Oh sure, we’ve got a couple of weeks before this is due. You’ve probably got other stuff to do.”
She bites her lip, looking uncomfortable. “Well, uh, I don’t.”
I look at her, beautiful and popular Connie Moreau, center of attention, has nothing to do?
“Can I hang out here?” she asks, almost nervously.
Now I’ve seen it all. I thought my Dad being supportive of me would be the one miracle I would see in my life. Then Orion jumped on the support bandwagon. Now Connie wants to hang out with me? I’m too stunned to say anything other than, “Sure.”
She brings her knees up to her chest in a defensive gesture (hey, you can’t live with the lunatics I do and not start to read body language). “I know I’m not really a nice person and I’ve done some horrible things and you can’t forget them, but is there any chance you could one day possibly not hate me?”
To be honest, I’ve not really thought about it. I don’t hate her, I don’t trust her, sure, but hate’s a very strong word. “I don’t hate you,” I tell her.
“Well, you should. But if it makes you feel any better, I really am sorry. I don’t know why I started the hate crusade. Maybe I didn’t approve, but it wasn’t my place… I’m sorry.”
If I was Charlie I’d believe she meant every word. She certainly looks remorseful, and she sounds convincing too, but… well, I have real friends, and I’ll stick to them. However, I’m not going write her off either. “Thanks.” I’m not going to say it’s ok, because she nearly broke my wrist and said a lot of things that I can’t forget easily. If she does get my forgiveness, it will be wholeheartedly or not at all.
There’s an uncomfortable silence, which I feel obligated to break. “So, how’s Luis?”
She plays with a strand of hair. “Oh, fine I guess. I haven’t seen him since we’ve been back, decided that no matter how low I stoop I really don’t want to be his bit on the side.”
“Well, good for you.”
“Thanks. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at his study session with Portman, maybe Portman can knock some sense into him, like you have with me. So how are you and Charlie?” she asks in return.
Ordinarily I’d be stunned that this homophobic girl is getting over her fear of what’s different and being courteous enough to enquire about my relationship, however, now is not the best day to ask that question. I shrug, not really wanting to share our problems with her.
“Sorry, none of my business.”
Silence reigns again.
Suddenly she brightens, catching sight of my bookshelf. “You’re a Harry Potter fan?”
I wince, I knew I should have moved them somewhere else, or left them at home.
She gets up and picks one of the books up. “I like the third one best. It kicks ass. I’ve seen the film six times now.”
“I didn’t like the film,” I reply.
“Well, it didn’t live up to the books, but I couldn’t help it, I just had to keep going back to see if I’d missed bits,” she replies. “I loved Fluffy, the three-headed dog. I wonder if my Mom would let me have one as a pet.”
I laugh. “Not likely. They didn’t seem to make the quest seem dangerous enough though.”
“You want kids running out of the cinema in tears, Banks?” She gives me a shocked expression.
“If they could read it in the books they could see it on the big screen,” I argue. “But the Quidditch was good.”
So Cons takes a seat on my bed and we get into a very heated debate about which houses we’d be in if we went to Hogwarts.
Portman’s POV by Victory Thru Tears
Luis shifts uncomfortably and I try to hide my grin. How perfect is this?
“You know, we really don’t have to work on this now,” he says quickly as the bell signaling the end of study hall rings.
“Oh, are you sure?” I answer innocently. Yeah, right… Dean Portman—innocent? But really. Do you think I’m going to pass up an opportunity to torture Luis?
“Yeah, pretty sure.” He nervously slings his backpack over his shoulder. He looks eager to go.
“Oh. Because I’ve got to meet Fulton in a couple hours.” I can’t hide the smile as he pales. I guess he doesn’t like thinking about me meeting my boyfriend. Oh well. “But before that, I have nothing planned. Maybe we should work on this a little more?”
“Oh, I don’t think so.” He moves towards the door, but I follow him. We walk out of the school and into the sunlight. You know… instead of torturing Luis I could be basking in the spring air with my boyfriend.
Then again, I’m in the mood for some real fun.
“I’m supposed to meet Traci.” Luis keeps a distance of five feet between us as we walk. More of, as he scuttles off and I follow.
“Ok, that’s cool! Maybe she’ll help us with the project,” I grin.
“Um, I don’t think so. She doesn’t really like fag—”
Luis stops himself. I’m not even bothered by the word he just used, the expression on his face is well worth it. Oh yes, I am definitely glad I was paired with him for this project.
I spot the blonde waving at Luis frantically from under a tree a few feet away. She had a peculiar expression on her face… maybe it’s from seeing me with Luis.
Although, I really have to tell you… I don’t think Traci knows I’m gay. I think Luis has probably hinted that someone on the team is, but I don’t think she knows it’s me. Traci doesn’t exactly know how to keep her mouth closed. If she knew for sure who the gay Ducks were, you can bet it would be all over school, which it’s not.
“Maybe I don’t have to meet her right now.” He says nervously. “I think I’ll tell her that I’ll hang out later.”
“Sure, man. Whatever you want to do.” I grin and lean against a tree to wait for him.
Luis approaches his girlfriend and exchanges a few words with her. She frowns for a moment, but then stops as if to consider something. She nods fervently, and engages Luis in a passionate kiss before he comes back to me.
“That was a stunning display of heterosexual love,” I comment as we walk away.
He mutters something that sounds suspiciously like “Fuck off.”
“I wasn’t aware that your boat floated that way, Mendoza.” I gleefully grin and pat him on the shoulder.
The look on his face as we walk away together is utterly priceless.
Chapter 27: Wedded Warzone
Charlie’s POV by Star
“Taz! For the love of god, shut up!” I hiss angrily at her.
Ok, so she may be my best friend—she might even be my “wife” at the moment—but there’s only so much insanity I can take. I’ve put up with her for two weeks. She’s invited herself over to my house on regular occasions, she has taken to calling my mother “Mum”, and has now started referring to Bombay as “Charlie” because he looks like Charlie Sheen. It gets very confusing when we’re all in the same room.
All this I can deal with, but she’s “bonding” with our “baby”. She chatters to Casey (she insists I call it Casey, not “the egg”, not even “the baby”, it must be Casey) constantly and she’s driving me up the wall. She’s even painted a face on it. And hair. And clothing.
She gives me a wide-eyed look, and I know she’s got no clue what I’m annoyed about.
“Please be quiet,” I say in the most patient tone I can muster. “I’ve just got one more paragraph to write and then we’re done with this project.”
Her lip trembles. “You’re divorcing me?”
No! Not a Taz moment. Please.
“Who’s getting divorced?” Goldberg momentarily forgets he hates me to listen in on the conversation.
“Charlie’s leaving me!” Taz wails pitifully at the top of her lungs. “He wants a divorce!”
Julie stands up. “Now that’s a marvelous idea! Goldie, you’re dumped!”
Uh-oh. Everyone has heard the girls.
Goldberg glares at Julie. “That’s the best news I’ve heard in weeks! As if I want to be married to you!”
“Urgh! You’re so annoying!” Julie snaps at him.
“You think that’s bad?” Vicky Starling comments from across the hall. “I’m allergic to my husband!” She sneezes into a hanky for effect.
Linda stands up. “Well I’ve got seven children with someone I hate!”
Guy looks mildly affronted. “Yeah, well I hate you too! I wanted to be paired with Julie!”
Taz and I exchange a glance, even she’s thinking this Taz moment has gone too far, although the mushy look on Julie’s face is highly entertaining.
All of a sudden an egg comes whizzing through the air and splats against the wall behind Taz.
Whoever just threw that, you’re a moron. Never, ever make Taz a target.
“What the hell did I do to deserve that?” She demands, jumping on the desk and grabbing Goldberg and Julie’s ‘baby’. She hurls it back in the direction of the egg-thrower.
“Hey! You couldn’t throw your own kid?” Goldberg asks. “We lose five points every time we smash one of them!”
“Back off!” she snaps. “I’m not throwing Casey!”
“Don’t take it personally,” I say to Julie. “She smashed Casey seven times before my Mom told her to boil the egg before taking it anywhere.”
“I do not boil my young!” she yells.
Two more eggs fly in her direction, she ducks and they hit me instead.
“Taryn Anne McDonald-Conway!” I yell at her. “You are a nightmare!”
She promptly falls off the table in a fit of giggles.
Eggs are flying everywhere and everyone is yelling at their “spouse”.
The teacher who’s presiding over Study Hall has run off to get the Dean. This is the signal for all-out war.
I distinctly hear Adam yell, “You’re spoiling our kids! Harry, Hermione and Ron do not need nannies! You’re a housewife, you deal with them!”
Connie quickly hurls back, “Oh yeah, I’m not allowed a career! You’re ruining my life!”
I look around at the pandemonium, only Fulton and Maya are not hurling abuse at each other.
I’ve got no idea what Portman and Luis are saying to each other, but it won’t be pretty.
Goldberg makes a grab for our egg, but Taz jumps back on the table, holding the egg aloft. “Don’t worry Casey!” She tells the egg. “I’ll protect you!”
She promptly trips over our folder and drops the egg.
She leaps into my arms and bursts into tears. I nearly drop her when I realize those tears are real. I guess the tension in the room has got to her.
“Damn it, Portman! Leave me alone! I want a divorce!”
“Newsflash, Mendoza: Gay marriage isn’t even legal yet, so there’s nothing keeping you here!”
“I’m gone! I—”
Whatever Luis has to say is cut off my an egg hitting him in the chest. I see Guy holding the other six of his and Linda’s demon-spawn, taking careful aim.
“EVERYONE BE QUIET!”
Oh, hell. It’s the Dean.
We watch in horror as an egg hits him on the head.
We’re in deep trouble.
Just one question, do they really trust us to be put in the same room for detention?
Julie’s POV by Victory Thru Tears
I’ve never gotten anything less than an A, and I’m not about to start.
Mrs. Bean passes Goldberg and me. She picks up the paper on our desk, and grabs our two “children”. She turns the eggs over in her hands, checking for cracks and other imperfections.
I give her a winning smile.
After detention yesterday, we six couples made a quick stop at a grocery store to buy a few dozen eggs. We made sure everyone had enough children. Taz wailed on and on about not having “the real Casey”, but according to Charlie, she smashed her on day one.
The bell rings shortly, and Guy catches my arm as we leave the room.
“I’m glad that’s over,” he says as we go onto our next class.
“Oh, I thought you’d want to have seven children with Linda Simon!” I giggle.
He rolls his eyes. “Yeah, in a world where you spend the rest of your life with Greg Goldberg, I’d love to.”
I giggle and give him a quick kiss as we stand outside the door to my math class. “I’ll see you later.”
“Bye.” He grins, and quickly sprints off. His next class, English, is on the other side of the school. But he insists on walking me to my classes.
Much to my dismay, I see the Connie has been waiting behind him to get in the room. I try not to meet her eyes as we sit down next to each other.
The only people still happy about their room assignments are Maya and Taz and Portman and Fulton. Connie and I haven’t had a real conversation in the two weeks since Guy and I came back, I’m positive that Charlie and Adam aren’t speaking, and Guy told me that he and Luis have come very close to beating each other to a bloody pulp.
Class passes slowly. Math is one of my strong points, although I can’t say the same for Connie. It pains me a little to see her struggling through our assignment that we get at the end of class. Usually I’d help her, but we haven’t been especially close as of late.
The period ends, and I follow Connie as we both head for study hall, our last class of the day.
“Hey.” I catch up with her.
I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. Maybe I feel bad that we’ve been pretty much best friends for two years, and we’re losing that because of a guy. Or really, a Guy.
“Hi,” she answers shortly.
“Uh, what’s up?”
Hey, it may be one word but at least it’s two syllables.
“Oh. Hey, did you get that math junk we were just doing? I hate algebra. I swear, it’s useless, we shouldn’t be required to take it.” Stop babbling, Gaffney.
“Look. Julie. You don’t have to go out of your way for me. In fact, I think it might be better if we didn’t talk anymore. There are only about six weeks left in the school year, we can deal with rooming with each other for that long. But we don’t have to be friends.”
Connie sits in her seat as we reach our classroom, leaving me speechless by the door. I reluctantly sit down at my desk. Guy happens to sit next to Connie, who sits in front of me. It’s obvious that these seating arrangements were made before spring break.
Guy gives me a grin that would normally make me melt. Now I just glare back. He gives me a surprised look, and opens his mouth to say something. I ignore him and pull out some homework to do in the forty-five minutes of free time.
Ten minutes later, a small piece of paper hits my desk. I look up to see Guy watching me. I sigh, and pull open the note to scan it. He wants to know why I’m pissed. Understandable, I guess.
We’re only passing notes because after yesterday’s egg incident, our teacher is a little reluctant to let us talk.
For a moment I’m tempted to write back and let him know that I’m pissed because he made my best friend hate me. But if I’ve learned anything from spending five days with two sparring couples, it’s that you can’t blame your relationship problems on anyone but yourself.
I quickly scribble back that it’s nothing, just had a little tiff with Connie.
After reading my reply, Guy gives me a sympathetic smile. He probably gets why I glared at him, too.
Maya says we’re a perfect couple. I don’t think so at all. He and Connie were a perfect couple. I mean, come on… childhood sweethearts, went through so much stuff together…
Sometimes I feel like it’s not fair that I got in between them. They could have gotten back together, and I stopped that. I like Guy a lot… but…
But life would have been simpler if I was single, Guy and Connie were back together, and Connie and I were friends again.
Chapter 28: Resentful Undercurrent by Victory Thru Tears
I hop off the bus from St. Paul, but stop walking before I even get to the gate to enter school.
Portman is sitting on the bench waiting for me.
“Don’t tell me you’ve been here all day.” I cross my arms over my chest.
“Not… all day. Too many buses kept stopping to ask where I was headed.” He shrugs defensively.
I laugh, and pull him up. We unlink hands when we enter the Eden Hall campus. We may be open to some people, but we’re not quite ready to prance around campus shouting out that we’re gay.
“So how was it?” he asks. I’ve been at my aunt and uncle’s all day, moving a few of my things in and getting myself reacquainted with them.
“It was fine,” I answer. “They have a nice house, really close to Guy’s actually.”
“I don’t mean the house. I mean them.” I can tell he’s really nervous for me. It’s a nice gesture, I guess, but sometimes I feel like he doesn’t think I can take care of myself.
“They’re great. Portman, it’s not like they’re a foster family or anything. They’re my aunt and uncle. I’ve known them all of my life.”
“Right.” Portman looks a little taken aback at the way I just snapped at him. I didn’t mean to sound snippy, it’s just that he can’t keep treating me like an infant.
“So, are they going to let me stay for the summer?” he asks after a few minutes of pause.
“I mentioned it, and they seemed really enthusiastic about the idea. My aunt Katie can’t have kids, and she said she wants me to bring friends over as often as possible.”
“Good, that shouldn’t be too hard. Adam and Charlie’ll be here, you said that Guy lives close by, and Maya’s staying with Taz for the summer.” Portman grins as we approach our dorm.
“Yeah, the only one missing will be Julie.” I unlock the door, and we gladly step into the air conditioning. Minnesota’s been going through a horrible heat wave, and it’s almost unbearable outside.
“I wish she could stay, but I don’t think she’d have too much fun staying with the lesbians… and she couldn’t very well stay with Connie.” Portman flops onto his bed.
“Yeah, I know. Hey, speaking of Connie. What’s with Adam lately, why’s he hanging out with her so much?” I sit myself down in a chair next to him.
“No idea. I think it has something to do with the fact that he and Charlie still aren’t speaking, and neither are she and Julie.”
I roll my eyes. “We are such clichéd teenagers.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” Portman stops smiling. “We’ve all had to deal with some pretty bad stuff that I bet the average teenager doesn’t.”
“True.” What, with half of us getting beaten up constantly, getting disowned and whatnot.
“So what did you do all day?” I ask, trying to break the awkward silence that has just built up.
“I got some homework done.”
This really gets me. I stare at him, trying to scrape my jaw off the floor.
“Homework?” He’s probably not going to appreciate how incredulous I sound.
“Yeah,” he says defensively. I’m about to open my mouth to make a smart remark, but there’s an insistent knocking on the door.
Portman heaves himself up from the bed and opens the door. Maya rushes in, and quickly closes the door behind her.
“Something wrong?” I ask, amused by the look on her face.
“I’m going to kill Adam.” She grumbles, flopping down on the same spot Portman had been lying only a few seconds earlier. My boyfriend rolls his eyes and situates himself on the floor.
“Oh?” I set my chin on my hand and study her.
“He’s so annoying! Ever since he and Charlie broke up, he’s somehow attached himself to me. Sometimes he just acts so… argh!”
“Argh. What a great word,” I muse.
“It is. But really. I can’t be around him anymore. I had to escape, and Taz is caught up watching Gremlins with Charlie. It seems like he’s done the same kind of attaching thing to her that Adam has to me.”
“So why couldn’t you visit Julie or something?” Portman speaks up.
Maya and I both stare at him with surprise. I know that tone of voice. He’s pissed off.
“She was letting Ken and Dwayne practice shooting goals on her,” Maya says tentatively.
“So… why didn’t you go to the library or something? I don’t know.” Portman tries not to meet my eyes.
“Um, Portman… what’s going on?” she asks.
“Nothing, it’s just that Fulton just got back from his aunt and uncle’s, and we were trying to spend some time together,” he says.
I stare at him incredulously. We weren’t spending any time together! We were just sitting and talking. And plus, I enjoy Maya’s company. She’s a lot of fun to be around… just like Taz, but much more tolerable for long periods of time.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Maya’s face falls, and she drags herself up from the bed. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
I glare at Portman, and then motion for her to sit down again. “No, don’t leave. You weren’t interrupting anything, we were just hanging around.”
She reluctantly sits back down, but Portman glares at her.
“We were having a discussion.”
Maya gets up, presumably because of the look on his face.
“Oh, come off it. We weren’t discussing anything.” I scowl and point at the bed.
Maya sits down again.
“Stop doing that, you’re giving me a headache,” Portman snaps at her.
“I think I’m going to go.” Maya gets up a final time and exits the room before I can tell her to sit down again.
“What’s your problem?” I ask angrily.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you the same thing?” He retorts.
“Look, I’m allowed to have friends. What’s with you not letting me hang out with Maya?”
“We’ve all seen what happened with Charlie and Taz and their significant others. If I’m not mistaken, I do believe that Adam and Charlie have been broken up for a quite a few weeks now. I don’t want Maya to make that happen to us.”
I sigh. “Portman…”
He looks up from the floor, and I have to admit that the look in his eyes makes me melt.
“She’s just a friend, and not even a close one at that,” I say, drawing him up from the floor into my arms.
“I know, I just want to spend some time with you.”
I let our lips meet, although my head is still screaming “No!”
Isn’t this the type of thing I was thinking about earlier? Portman acting like a possessive, jealous freak? Why do I let myself go through this?
Because I’m still indebted to him. That’s going to follow me around for the rest of my life, whether Portman and I stay together or not.
Chapter 29: *shrug* aka Bring May Flowers by Star
Dedicated to: Vic, for her wonderful idea for the title of this chapter! This is how this chapter got titled:
Star: Argh, trying to think of a title for the Taz chapter!
Star: Nice input!
Vic: Breeze Chapter 29 : “*shrug*” Great title!
Star: Sod it! Let’s do it!
Right. Maya’s pissed. Time to say something fantastically brilliant. A winning argument. A moment of true Taz clarity.
“Minx, we’re probably going to be in this room next year anyway, what’s the big sodding deal?
Or I could just repeat the same thing I’ve been saying for half an hour.
“What’s the big deal?” She repeats incredulously and I take a cautious step back.
She hasn’t exploded for a very long time, and I keep forgetting how terrifying it is.
“The big deal, Taryn Anne McDonald, is that we have room inspections in two days and there are pictures of sodding Disney characters everywhere I sodding well look!” She thunders. “Not to mention a naked mini-me!”
Ok. So this is… bad?
Yes. Just checked her face. Not even a hint of mirth. This is verging on terrible.
“I’ll fix it,” I promise.
“Yes you will.”
“Right, I’ll be back in a minute,” I say.
“Where are you going?”
Maya sighs heavily and collapses on her bed. From the shaking of her body she’s either laughing or crying.
I think I’ll go now.
“Is Charles around?”
Adam grunts and opens the door. I follow him in.
I grin at Charlie. “Charles, we have to paint,” I tell him.
He raises his eyebrows at me. “I learnt Irish because of you, I don’t want to learn how to paint.”
“Not pictures. Walls,” I correct, taking his hand. “Let’s go.”
“Oh for the love of God! Just go!” Adam yells.
Charles and I exchange a bemused look, then leave at high speed.
“Sorry about that,” I mutter as we walk back to my dorm, laden down with cream emulsion paint, paintbrushes and dust-sheets (once more, “liberated” from the school).
“Adam yelling,” I reply. “Didn’t mean to cause… not again.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” he sighs tiredly. “We hadn’t yelled at each other all day, we were due a fight. And it wasn’t your fault before either.”
This is the first time he’s said that to me.
“You were right, I was being a ‘pig-headed twit’.”
I snort. “Mum mentioned that then?”
“Several times. She also said that if you don’t come to visit at least once a week during the summer that I’m not allowed to be involved in her wedding. I think if you promise to be good I can wrangle a bridesmaid position for you.”
I grin, feeling really good. Not many parents like me, but Casey does. “Really? Cool! Are the gowns going to be lilac?” I ask excitedly.
“Probably not.” He grins at me as we reach my room.
I kick the door. “Minx, let us in, I’ve got my arms full.”
Maya opens the door. “What took you so long?”
“I got us some help,” I say proudly as Charlie steps in the room behind me.
Her face does not light up with joy the way I expected. She sighs deeply and says, “No.”
“Because you and Charlie will just fool around the whole time. Nothing will get done,” she states flatly.
“We’ll be good. I promise.”
I jab Charlie in the ribs and he hastily adds, “Oh yeah, no problem. Best behavior.”
Maya moans and flops back on her bed.
“Minx?” I say very tentatively. “I promise I’ll be good. You don’t have to do anything. Charles and I will do all of the painting, you can go somewhere else.”
Maya looks horrified, then grins. “I’m only going so that I have an alibi when you and Charlie get dragged into the office for defacing this room.”
Does she have no faith in me? I can be trusted!
I’ll show her!
Maya leaves and Charlie and I start spreading dust sheets over the beds. I move everything important into the bathroom. Then as an afterthought I pile all our school books in there too.
See, that was a mature, responsible decision I made.
“How did I get involved in this?” Charlie mutters, picking up a paintbrush.
“You’re my friend, you offered to help,” I reply.
“I did not offer to help,” he retorts, pulling down a sheet of velvet. “You made me.”
He’s so busy glaring at me he hasn’t noticed what’s behind the material. I leap across the room and position myself between Charlie and the wall. I give him a huge grin. “I’ll do this wall.” Maya will kill me if Charlie sees the tiny naked Maya painted on the wall. Oh sure, her bits are covered by flowers, but barely.
I couldn’t help it, I got all inspired. Let’s just say that Maya was feeling very loving and the next morning I was walking around in a daze and at lunch I had to get it out of my system, so I painted Maya. Naked.
When she first saw it she tried her hardest not to smirk, but she found it funny. But when she realized that we really do have quite a lot of visitors to our room the fun rubbed off, and the annoyance took over.
So I can’t imagine that she’d be thrilled to have Charles see the picture.
“What are you hiding?” he asks.
“Nothing. I just like this wall.” I give him an even bigger grin. “It’s my favorite of all the walls.”
He nods. “Ok, fair enough.”
I breathe a sigh of relief. That was easy… almost too ea—
Charlie crouches down and flips me over his shoulder and stands up again. I start hollering at him to put me down, but he just jiggles his shoulder making me feel dizzy.
“That hurts my stomach!” I complain loudly.
“This is fantastic artwork, Taryn.” He jiggles me again.
“Ow! Charles, put me down!” I start yelling in Irish and he starts laughing. I’ve decided it was more fun when he didn’t know what I was saying.
He dumps me down on the bed and returns to stare at the wall. “Your girlfriend is quite a hottie!”
I jump to my feet and kick him in the shins. “Stop eyeballing my girl! You’re a poof! Act like it!”
“Damn it, Taryn!” he yells. “That hurt! Why don’t you act like a girl and wear sandals instead of those great big clod-hopper boots?”
First he eyeballs my girl, now he’s insulting my… um, girlhood? Damn him! I jump on him and he catches me (he’s well trained by now) and starts tickling me.
We fall on the floor, getting good and bruised in the process, and knock several things off the desk.
One of those items is a can of paint.
Or to be more accurate, a can of paint without a lid.
Maya is so not going to see the funny side of this.
Chapter 30: Airy Confessions by Victory Thru Tears
I poke Maya in the ribs. She swats her hand at me and makes an irritated noise. A few seconds later, my finger returns to poke her again.
“Adam, will you stop it?” she turns around to ask me shrilly.
“Sorry.” I chuckle.
She rolls her eyes and turns her attention back to the movie.
The door bangs open, and Charlie steps into the room. His hair, face, and clothes are covered in cream-colored paint. Maya takes one look at him and jumps up from the bed.
“Oh god, my room…” She moans before scrambling to put her shoes on.
“Nice flowers!” Charlie grins as he crosses his arms over his paint covered chest.
Maya gives him a horrified glance, which quickly turns into a scowl. “I’m going to kill her.”
She storms out of the room, making sure that she doesn’t brush Charlie and get paint all over herself.
Charlie chuckles a little after she leaves. He stops as he notices me glaring at him, and moves to his side of the bed.
I stare horrified at the floor, realizing that he’s tracked cream paint all the way from the girls’ dorm. That, and he’s dripping!
“Charlie, what the hell are you doing?” I yell.
“What?” In the process of turning around, two big globs of paint drop off him and onto the floor.
“Your clothes, take them off!”
“What?” Charlie stares at me, dumbstruck.
I quickly shake my head, that last line didn’t come out right. I decide to try again, in a better way. “You’re fucking dripping everywhere! Go change or something, you’re messing up our room!”
“Ok, ok… stop yelling.” Charlie holds his hands up in a defensive gesture. He turns around to head into the bathroom, and mumbles a cuss word.
“Why can’t you say anything to my face?” I snap. He slams the bathroom door in answer.
A few moments later he comes back out, now for the most part paint free. He heads for the door, and I realize that he’s going to leave.
“Where are you going? You have to clean this shit up!” I motion to the floor, where the cream paint is drying.
He ignores me, and leaves the room. I jump from the bed and follow him.
“I’m not going to let that dry on the floor, and I’m not going to clean it up. You’d better get in there and do it.” I order as I close the door behind me.
“God, Adam! You sound like my mother, but one hundred times bitchier. Give it a rest, maybe if you’d stop yelling I’d clean it up!” He swivels around to snap at me.
“Great, we now have the logic of a two year old.” I cross my arms and glare at him.
“Stop insulting me!” he yells.
“Why can’t you just go in there and clean it?”
“You know what? Fine. But only because you’re really pissing me off!” Charlie reaches for the doorknob, and pushes against the door to open it.
It doesn’t move.
“Don’t tell me you fucking locked the door,” Charlie groans.
“Don’t swear at me,” I retort.
“Yeah, cause you weren’t just swearing at me!” he says sarcastically as he tries the door again.
“Shut up and move.” I shove him aside to try the door myself.
“What? Don’t trust my judgment?” He sneers as he leans against the wall.
I ignore him and turn the doorknob. Yeah, it’s locked.
“Great.” I lean against the wall on the other side of the door. “What do we do now?”
“I can try and break it down.” Charlie suggests.
I cough to cover my laugh.
“What?” He narrows his eyes. “I can do it!”
I nod scornfully. He glares at me and backs away from the door. I sigh and rub my temple as Charlie rushes at the door. There’s a loud thump, a yelp, and Charlie slides to the floor.
“I’m going to get the Bash Brothers,” I say, trying to ignore the whimpering noise he’s making.
I walk down the hall and knock on Fulton and Portman’s door.
I hear a slight scuffling noise, some murmuring, and Fulton answers looking a bit disheveled. I suppress my grin.
“Yes?” he asks politely.
“We’re locked out,” I tell him.
“What do you want me to do about it?”
“I don’t know, pull it off its hinges or something.” I shrug. I’m not exactly sure what they should do, I just know that they’re the Bash Brothers… they’re big and manly, they can think of something.
“Yeah, ok.” He grudgingly motions for his boyfriend to come along, and they follow me to my room. Charlie’s still on the floor, holding his shoulder and moaning in pain.
“What happened to him?” Portman asks.
“He tried to knock the door down.” I roll my eyes and lean against the wall. Charlie glares at the Bash Brothers as they snort with laughter.
Fulton pushes against the door a couple times, and then he and Portman try the same tactic that Charlie had. Nothing works.
“What are we supposed to do?” Portman asks. “We’re not a wrecking crew!”
“You’re big, you’re manly… think of something.” Charlie mumbles from the floor. Instinctively, I grin. Wasn’t I just thinking that a couple minutes ago?
“Shut up, Spazway,” Fulton says, nudging him with his foot.
Charlie cries out in pain, and Fulton quickly draws his foot back.
“What’s with you?”
“I think I dislocated my shoulder or something.” Charlie whimpers.
The Bash Brothers roll their eyes, but I stay silent. We may be broken up, but I never like to see Charlie in pain.
“I’ll go downstairs and get the supervisor,” Fulton sighs.
About ten minutes later, Charlie is lying on his bed, still whining. Fulton and Portman left after the supervisor let us. I really have to wonder why Charlie and I didn’t think of that earlier. Probably because we were too busy arguing and insulting each other.
Charlie lets out another small noise of pain. That’s about the fourth one in the last thirty seconds.
“For god’s sake, do you just want some painkillers?” I burst out.
He looks at me, surprised.
“That won’t kill me or anything?” he asks.
I shake my head. “They’re not prescription.”
“Ok, sure.” He tries to shrug, but immediately winces with pain. I have to roll my eyes at that.
I move to my dresser and pull out a small bottle. I take out two small pills, and grab a bottle of water from the desk. I set them both down on the nightstand next to him, and he thanks me. I then turn around to search for something to do. I finally settle down to watch the rest of the movie Maya and I had been watching.
After about ten minutes, I hear a strange noise. It’s definitely not coming from The Talented Mr. Ripley.
“Well as for now I’m gonna hear the saddest song and sit alone and wonder how you’re making out. And as for me I wish that I was anywhere, with anyone, making out…”
I look over at Charlie. He’s facing the wall with his back to me. And he’s singing. Charlie never sings. But I’ve been told that I sing when I’m on painkillers, maybe the drugs are doing the same for him. He turns around to face me, and continues his song.
“I’m missing your laugh, how did it break? And when did your eyes begin to look fake? I hope you’re as happy as you’re pretending.”
Is he trying to give me a subliminal message? Or is my guilt catching up with me?
“I’m cuddling close to blankets and sheets, and I am alone in my defeat. I wish I knew you were safely at home…”
“Charlie, are you ok?” I ask him, but he ignores me and continues singing. He has a glazed look in his eyes. I wonder if I look that weird when stoned. I should really get someone to tape it next time.
“I’m missing you bad, I never sleep… avoiding the spots where we’d have to speak, and this bottle of beast is taking me home.”
I finally place the song. It’s something that Maya listens to sometimes. It’s pretty depressing, actually. Charlie trails off, and silence reigns for a few moments in the room.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbles.
“What?” I ask. I’m not sure if I’ve heard him correctly… he’s… sorry?
“Yeah. I’m sorry that I’m horrible to you. It just hurts to be around you because I… I…”
“Charlie, you’re stoned off your ass. You should just sleep.” I don’t know why I’m stopping him. As much as I kid myself, I really want to hear what he has to say.
“I don’t want to sleep without you. No, I can’t sleep without you,” he murmurs so softly, I have to strain to hear him.
“Look, you know how I get when I’m on those painkillers, you’re just hallucinating. Just sleep, please.” I say it more to convince myself.
He shakes his head vehemently. “I’m not going to sleep without you!”
“What do you want me to do?” I jump up from my bed, flinging my hands out in exasperation.
“Don’t yell.” He covers his head with his pillow.
I sigh, and sit back down. I’m getting all jittery. I don’t like this. We should be fighting, it gets too awkward if we’re civil. We’re supposed to be lovers or enemies. Being simply friends doesn’t fit into the equation anymore.
He sounds so innocent, so pleading. I can’t help but look over at him.
“What, Charlie?” I ask.
“Help me go to sleep.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
He shrugs, and immediately winces. I roll my eyes, and get up from my bed again.
“Don’t do that with your shoulders,” I tell him.
“I want to sleep,” he says.
“I can’t. Help me.”
“Charlie, what am I supposed to do?” I really don’t like the way he sounds so child-like.
He moves over in his bed, leaving a space that is big enough to fit me. He pats it.
“I don’t know…” I say reluctantly.
He gazes at me for a few seconds, and I give in. It’s all in the eyes.
I lay down on the bed, and he moves into my embrace. I take a deep breath. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had any physical contact. Something like two months, since before we even broke up.
He murmurs against my chest and I hesitantly start to stroke his hair. I’m not supposed to be letting myself do this…
Oh hell, why not? I’m not kidding anyone anymore. Maybe it’s time to take the necessary steps towards getting back together.
“I love you, Banksie.”
I stare down at him with surprise. His eyes are closed, and his fingers are absentmindedly making pattern on my chest.
“I… love you too, Spaz.” I kiss his forehead, surprising even myself.
He smiles against my shoulder, and his breathing starts to get slower. After about half an hour I’m sure that he’s asleep.
I find that I really don’t want to move. But… I should.
I unwind my arms from around him and replace my shoulder with a real pillow. I slowly lift myself out from under him.
I’m not sure what to do with myself now. I don’t want to continue watching the movie, it might wake him up. Maybe I’ll go find Maya and hang out. Or, if all else fails, Connie.
I take one last look at Charlie before I leave the room. Something on the nightstand catches my eye. I cautiously walk over to inspect it.
Two small white pills lie next to an unopened bottle of water.
The grin threatens to split my face as I grab my room key and leave the dorm.
Author’s Note: Lyrics shamelessly stolen from Dashboard Confessional’s “Screaming Infidelities”.
Note to the readers:
So everyone, this is it. The end of Breeze.
Don’t start to bitch and whine, Sun will be hitting your computer screens in a matter of days! Hopefully it will be everything the last three weren’t. Thanks so much for faithfully reading all that we put our characters through, and hopefully you will continue to enjoy what we do!
Vic ‘n’ Star
PS: Sun will be under the pen name of Victory Thru Tears.