Everything and More

Wanna know how Taz and Maya got together? Read on. No Ducks mentioned in this fic.



Characters: , ,


Genre: ,



Length: words

Notes: The poem is by Vic (© m. khan 11/21/01). Which is a good thing because Star’s poetry sucks (as Vic well knows).

Set pre-Smoke. The girls are at Eden Hall Middle School, which in the Star ‘n’ Vic-verse is on the same campus but is a separate building. Maya is 14 and Taz is 13—Vic and I have gone through their ages and worked it out. Taz’s birthday is in July (making her the baby of the year) and Maya’s is in November (making her ancient). This is totally irrelevant, but since Vic and I took the time to work it out, you shall read it! This is set in October.

Everything and More: The Tale of Taz and Maya by Star

Prologue: Taz’s POV

“Taryn Anne McDonald! This time I swear I’m going to kill you! You don’t believe me?”

I duck as Maya hurls a soft toy at my head.

“There was no need to throw Tigger!” I reply indignantly.

I must shut up soon. Argh. Life is not simple. Ever since I realised I was crushing on Maya I’ve been in a complete state. I’ve either been monosyllabic to the point where she asked if I was Taz’s evil twin or insane to the point where she asked if I could go and get Taz’s evil twin.

“There was every need!”

I give her an innocent look. “What did I do?”

She takes a deep breath to calm herself. “What did you do?” She repeats incredulously. Then she points to the wall.

“You asked me about Guy Fawkes night,” I defend myself. “You know I’m better with pictures than words.”

“I asked you what it was, not for a mural depicting every single event leading up to it!” she yells.

I give her my puppy dog look. I very rarely stoop this low to get Maya to forgive me, but this time she looks mightily pissed. “I’m sorry Maya-pie, I didn’t mean to!”

She glares, but the corners of her mouth are quivering. She’s about to crack.

I fling myself at her feet. “Don’t hate me!” I wail melodramatically.

That does it, she smirks, the smirk becomes a smile, which quickly turns to laughter.

Taz 1—Maya 0

Chapter 1: Maya’s POV

Well, the purple lunatic thinks she’s won this round.

Argh. She has. I need to fight back. I have no idea why she’s being so crazy recently. Ok, so the day I met her she was painting over a huge Disney Cheshire Cat on the wall, but she’s been even more insane over the past few months.

I can’t think what it is. I haven’t offended her, I don’t think anyone can. It’s not that she’s not herself, it’s more like she’s being too Taz-like.

“Hey Maya!” Two voices say cheerfully.

I blink. Then sigh. Wonderful. The Looney Twins. Vicky and Starling Torrance. They are identical, they wear the same clothes to make it even harder for people to tell them apart, they talk at the same time and on the off chance that one twin talks alone, the other will quickly finish her sentence.

And they seem to adore Taz and me. It’s like having a stalker. One stalker with two bodies.

“Hey twins.” No matter how disinterested I sound they never pick up on it.

“We have a question,” Vic (I think) states.

“Why is Taz carrying two tins of purple paint around?” Star finishes. Well, I think it’s Star. It must be if the other one’s Vic.

I shrug. “I have no idea. Maybe it’s a new fashion accessory? With Taz it’s impossible to tell.” Unless she’s going to paint over the mural?

They raise their eyebrows simultaneously. Sometimes I wonder why they were made into twins, is it worth giving one personality two bodies?

“I have to go,” I tell them. “I’ll go check on Taz.”

“See you later,” They chorus.

Not if I can help it, I think, but give them a big grin and say something brainless and cheerful as I beat a hasty retreat.

I head back to our room wondering what kind of mess I’m going to find. If Taz has been sighted carrying two tins of paint around our room should be dripping with paint and stinking of paint fumes.

Strangely, it’s empty.

No Taz, no paint, just that sodding mural. God! I’m even picking up her phrases.

Actually, it’s good. Taz usually paints happy pictures, Disney, flowers, butterflies—god, she’s crazy about them. I have yet to show her my birthmark. It’s kinda unique. It’s shaped like a butterfly. I’m not sure why I haven’t shown her, then again, there’s something a little odd with whipping up my top, showing her my belly and saying, “Look, I’m branded with your obsession!” to a girl I’ve known only a few months.

I sigh, the mural is really good. However, it makes the other walls look really drab and dull. I don’t see why every room should be painted cream, it’s such a boring colour. I mean, I know neutral is good, but pale blue would be nice and it’s not exactly a vibrant colour.

But there’s no paint around. The other wall needs decorating. In a fit of inspiration I grab Taz’s magic markers and start writing.

I have no idea what to write but that doesn’t stop me scribbling away. At first it’s just quotes I like and random thoughts.

As I write my mind turns to last Tuesday. Taz was in a really strange mood. We only have a couple of classes together since we study such different subjects, I was going to chemistry just as Taz was heading towards the art block. Usually we just wave because we only cross paths, we don’t go in the same direction.

However, Taz bounded up to me and gave me a big hug. “Howdy partner!” She said, twisting her Irish voice into a Texas twang with very little success.

“Um… hey!” I responded, a little startled.

“Lezzies!” Helena Shrader commented, before pushing her way between us and walking to her next class, nose in the air. We hate her, she seems to think that she’s some kind of a deity here in the middle school just because her father is part of the Alumni.

Taz gave me a weak grin then promptly vanished at the speed of light.

I looked for her at lunch but she just waved at me and disappeared with her friend from art class, Louie. She usually sits with me, she says that most of the people here think she’s “too hectic” to hang around, and she says they’re “too dull”.

I felt kind of stung. I ended up sitting with Marie from my English class, wondering why it hurt so much that Taz wasn’t sitting with me. It was only lunch, it’s only habit for god’s sake.

But she didn’t sit with me during dinner either. And she was quiet while we were studying. That never happens. Taz can’t do quiet. Nine times out of ten I have to go to the library to get my work done.

I have no idea what was up with her, and she wouldn’t tell me. The next morning she woke up and became this shrill mega-Taz. While I really like her, she’s being too Taz-like.

I stand back to take a good look at my ‘art’, idly wondering what Taz will think of it.

That’s when I notice the poem.

A cool smile in your direction
A casual flip of the hair
I can walk the other way
I don’t have to go out of my way for you

Don’t pay attention
I’d rather be alone right now anyway
I don’t need to have you around

So maybe it’s not completely true
But I can pretend
I can put on a false front

Just because I want
To spend a little time with you
But it doesn’t matter
I’ll turn around again

A cool smile in your direction
A casual flip of the hair
I can walk the other way
I don’t have to go out of my way for you

How on earth did I come up with that? That’s not a poem you write about another girl. It’s really not. That’s the kind of poem you write about guys.

I could try to convince myself that I was thinking guy-thoughts while writing it, but it would be pointless since the rest of the wall is covered in phrases such as “purple peril” and “butterfly bonkers”.

I feel oddly squishy inside, like someone’s tickling behind my belly button.

I can’t deny I wrote it about Taz.

I can’t let her see this! She’ll freak out. She’ll think I’m… into her?

Which I’m not. Like so not. Not at all. ‘Cause I’m a girl, and so is she. So I can’t be into her.

I mean, who cares if her hair is all purple and shiny and just catching a glimpse of it across the halls makes my stomach flutter? Who cares if she’s got the greatest eyes, with or without those contact lenses? It doesn’t matter that she can make me laugh no matter how down I feel. And it’s completely irrelevant that her puppy-dog-eyes ‘what, me?’ look gets me every time. It doesn’t matter that I think she’s one of the prettiest girls I’ve ever met.

It doesn’t.

Because I’m not into her…

Am I?

Chapter 2: Taz’s POV

Notes: Dedicated to Sid the Wily Gnome, who can do many things.

I walk into our dorm room and find Maya transfixed by the wall. I follow her gaze. And I blink. There’s writing on it.

“I didn’t do it!” I tell her hastily. “It must have been Sid the Wily Literature Gnome.”

She barely cracks a smile.

“Maya, are you ok?” I ask hesitantly, then notice something. “Hey! That’s your handwriting!”

“I know!” she snaps.

I take a cautious step back.

She shakes her head. “Sorry, Taz. Didn’t mean to yell.”

“That’s ok.” I shrug. “I guess you’re like me after all,” I say, nodding at the wall, too stunned that Maya has defaced school property to really take in what she’s written.

“Of course I like you!” She responds quickly. Then she blushes and continues. “I mean, I like you like ice cream. I like ice cream, but it’s not like I want to have Ben & Jerry’s babies.”

I blink, processing what she just said. Then I snort. “Cheers, glad you cleared up how you feel about… ice cream. But actually, I said I guess you’re like me, not you like me.”

I grin to hide the disappointment. Maya knows exactly how she feels about me. Yay for her. I don’t know exactly what I feel…

Except… when Maya’s around the rest of the world goes away and all I can think about is thinking of some excuse to touch her, (‘Maya, there’s something in your hair’, ‘Oooh, new nail varnish? Let me see?’) and I really want to kiss her. I want her to want me.

I flop down on my bed dispiritedly and pick up a book, taking surreptitious glances at Maya every so often. After about five minutes I realise my book is upside-down.

I shouldn’t stare at her. I can’t be even half as subtle as I think I am, and I don’t think I’m even remotely subtle.

I like her hair, it’s thick and dark and soft. She keeps threatening to cut it, but I keep talking her out of it. It would be a shame to cut it. Right now it’s so long that it brushes the top of her hipster jeans.

She hates those jeans, she’s convinced the pocket detail makes her ass look fat. I keep telling her she’s being paranoid and on occasion have to leave the room for fear of telling her she has a great ass.

“So where were you?” She asks, giving the wall one final glance before collapsing inelegantly on her bed opposite me.

“Ah. I was on the scrounge for paint to cover the mural. I found the most amazing shade of purple…” I lean back, imagining this room painted purple.

“But?” She prods.

“Rita caught me sneaking it into the dorms. She made me give it back—it was that or she was going to march me down to the head’s office and explain.”

“Taz, America, principal,” she says distractedly.

I’ve been here for four years but I’m still not quite fluent on the American jargon.

“So what happened after you ran into our dorm supervisor?” she asks. “I saw the Loony Twins ages ago and they said they saw you carrying paint.”

I grin. Maya’s put a lot of thought into how long I was away from our room and where I could have been. “Loony Twins. I saw them too. They kept me talking for ages. They asked if you’d dyed your hair recently.”

Maya snorts. She dyed streaks in her hair about six weeks ago. And it’s not like that’s a new look for her, she was just re-doing the roots.

“They’re not the brightest sparks, are they?”

“Make that spark, singular,” I reply.

“Hi guys!” A redhead pokes her head around the door.

“Oh, hey Marie.” Maya replies.

Ah, Marie. So that’s who she is. I’ve been saying hi to her for months now, I just didn’t know how I knew her. She’s Maya’s friend from English class.

“Hey!” I grin at her.

“Are you two up to anything tonight, I mean, are either of you going home for the weekend?”

“Nope,” I answer for the both of us. Maya lives too far away, and my Dad’s usually too busy to be around.

“Cool, then come to our room. Annie’s got some vodka, and if I don’t find someone else to help her drink it, she’ll drink the lot.”

I exchange a nervous look with Maya. She doesn’t look too excited at the thought of drinking. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll find a way around it.

“Well, if it’s not too far. I’m always getting caught sneaking back to my dorm,” I say.

Maya rolls her eyes. “Taz, they live next door.”


“There is no bottle in Truth or Dare!” Maya tells Annie emphatically.

“Yes there is!” She replies. “You ask the question, spin the bottle and whoever it points at has to answer.”

“No! You ask a question, then the person who answers it chooses who goes next,” Maya says. “Taz?”

I shrug. “I was in Ireland during the Truth-or-Dare-slumber-party period of my life. I was too busy looking for leprechauns to get involved in anything like this.”

Marie looks at me with interest. “So there’s an age limit on Truth or Dare? And did you find any leprechauns.”

I grin. “Yes and no.”

“It’s my room and my vodka, so it’s my rules!” Annie yells.

We all stare at her with a little fear in our eyes.

“She makes a fair point,” I say.

“A change would be nice,” Maya adds.

“I never took sides in the first place.” Marie grins.

The games starts, as always, it takes a while to get going, the first couple of questions are boring. Like, what’s the worst thing you’ve said to a teacher and stupid stuff like that. I think it’s obligatory for Truth or Dare, you have to ask a few stupid questions first.

“Ok, the question is…” Annie thinks for a few seconds. “Who are you crushing on?” She spins the bottle and it comes to a stop somewhere between Maya and myself.

She and Marie crawl all over the room, viewing the bottle from different angles, but can’t quite decide who it’s closer to.

“Both of you answer,” Annie decides finally.

“That’s not fair!” Maya replies a blush tinting her cheeks.

“Yeah!” I add. I am not telling anyone who I’m crushing on.

“Fine, then take the dare.” Marie grins again. “Both of you.”

“They’re ganging up on us.” I pull a scared face at Maya.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get them back,” she says.

Marie and Annie start trading whispers, then finally start laughing. I start to worry. Annie pulls herself together first.

“The dare is to run around the outside of the boys dorms.”

I glance at Maya, that’s not too bad.

“In your underwear.” Marie finishes smugly.

I bet I look as dismayed as she does. “Oh well, at least I’m wearing my best knickers,” I say, reluctantly shrugging out of my shirt.

Maya follows suit. “I hate this game,” she mutters.

I try not to notice that Maya’s barely dressed as we walk down the hall quietly. Annie and Marie accompany us, holding on to each other as fits of giggles take over them.

“Shhh!” Maya hisses. “You want to wake up everyone on the floor?”

Annie snorts loudly. I guess that thought appeals to her.

Annie and Marie accompany us to the door, then wave cheerily.

Now it’s just the two of us.

… the nearly naked two of us.

I glance at Maya again, she quickly looks away from me. I have to concentrate very hard on not looking at her in her nearly naked state.

She’s wearing red satin… No, I haven’t noticed. Mind, stop thinking about it. But she looks so pretty. Red looks so nice against her skin, I couldn’t wear it, I’m far too pale but her skin is a lovely colour and red really sets it off.

Damn it! Stop thinking or looking!

The things I do to avoid telling my crush.

Chapter 3: Maya’s POV

The things I do to avoid telling my crush.

Taz looks nervous, excited and strangely panicked. The dare wouldn’t bother her, I know Taz, she has no qualms about doing stuff like this. Maybe it’s the trouble we could get into.

I consider taking her hand, but I’m slightly worried. Is it ok to take a girl’s hand if the two of you are only wearing underwear? Especially if one of those girls is crushing on the other.

Damn her. This is all her fault. If she wasn’t so cute I wouldn’t crush on her and we wouldn’t be doing this dumb dare.

“See you later!” Annie grins once more, then she and Marie head back to their room.

“Why do I play this game? It only lands me in stupid situations like this?” I mutter.

“It could be worse,” she says cheerfully, grinning at me, then quickly looking away.

I don’t manage to look away. I’ve seen Taz wandering around in her underwear before—if you share a room with someone it’s bound to happen. But I haven’t seen her in just her underwear since I figured out that I’m crushing on her.

It’s very distracting. She’s wearing silver. I felt sure that she would wear purple. Silver velvet, I bet it feels nice… ARGH! Brain! Do NOT have that thought!

“So, do we walk calmly or run like feic?” She asks.

“What’s a feic?” I ask in return.

“Irish word. I’ll let you puzzle it out,” she grins. “I say we run?”

“Sounds good.”

She takes my hand. Then frowns a little and lets go, looking strangely panicked again. Has she figured out I like her? Is she worried that I’ll hit on her? Should I be worried that I might?

I feel a hot blush flooding my face and take a subtle step backwards.

“Um…” She starts tentatively. “Should we be running now?”

I look around and realise that while we’ve been talking (and I’ve been worrying) we’ve walked a fair distance from the door.

“Maybe we should,” I agree. “Now?”

“Now,” she confirms.

We take off at a sprint, I have to hold back because Taz isn’t very athletic at all. She’ll go to amazing lengths to get out of doing anything even remotely sport-related. Unless you count that idiotic bouncing that she does when she gets excited. Except it’s not really idiotic, it’s cute. And she pulls this little face where she scrunches up her face and wrinkles her nose, she looks so adorable…

“You stopped,” she comments, staring at me.

I blush, realising that I have in fact stopped.

She takes my hand again, and this time she doesn’t let go, and I don’t move away. In fact, I squeeze it.

She gives me a thousand-watt grin. “We could just walk really fast.”


So we set off again.

As we round the corner of the building we come to another dead halt. This time it’s because the groundskeeper, Mr Hatch, is patrolling with a flashlight, and he’s coming right this way.

“Feic,” Taz murmurs.

“What shall we do?” I whisper. “I have no intention of being caught wandering the school grounds in my underwear.”

“We could hide?” she replies in a low voice, as we back away slowly.

I look around and notice a clump of bushes. I point. “How about there?”

“Works for me.”

We take off at a run towards the bushes and fight our way inside. It’s a tight squeeze, so it’s probably a good thing Taz and I are so short.

I realise Taz is staring at me. More specifically, at my stomach. I move my hands to cover myself up a bit. I hate people staring. Especially Taz, who’s so perfectly proportioned that it makes me want to scream.

She reaches up and brushes my hands away. “Butterfly…” She murmurs softly. Her fingertips trace the outline of the birthmark on my stomach. I shiver under her feather-light touch. My breathing speeds up through no choice of mine.

“It’s perfect,” she says softly, still staring. I haven’t seen her so focused on anything before, except her art. She says when she draws she’s taken to another world and forgets anything else exists.

I let out a shaky breath, suddenly very aware of how close we’re standing, we’re almost nose to nose, her fingers are still touching my stomach, but I now realise that my hand is resting on hers.

She finally stops staring at the birthmark and looks in my eyes. She’s not wearing her contact lenses tonight, her eyes are blue… and they’re very pretty.

I seem to have no control over myself, my body is making all the decisions, not my brain. My other hand reaches out and brushes some hair out of her eyes so I can take an unobstructed view of them. Once the hair is out of the way, I can’t seem to call my hand back to my side, it remains resting on her shoulder, my thumb stroking her cheekbones.

She gives me a fearful, but beautiful, smile as she reaches out to do the same to me. As her hand moves to my face I see her fingers are shaking.

Me move towards each other, needing no words. My lips graze hers for the briefest of seconds before a voice yells, “Is anyone out here?”

We break apart, then jump back together in a fit of girlyness. This time we’re hugging out of fear, there’s none of the gentle, tentative touching this time. Right now we’re two girls hugging because we might get caught standing in a bush wearing only our underwear.

Damn it!

Chapter 4: Taz’s POV

Notes: I think it’s about time I said this: I don’t approve of 13 year olds getting drunk. Especially on vodka (my mates used to get drunk on fizzy wine when we were that age—and that’s not a good thing either). So I apologise, but you know Annie, I don’t have any control over her.

Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!


This close! Her lips touched mine! Damn Mr Hatch to hell!

I quickly retract that thought. A good Catholic girl like me damns nobody to hell.

I sigh deeply. We’re back in Annie’s room once more. Fully clothed.

And with about ten feet of space between us.

Annie was so proud of us for doing the dare, she topped up our still-full glasses with more vodka. Marie subtly gestures that we shouldn’t drink it. As soon as Annie excuses herself to go to the bathroom she turns to us, seemingly oblivious to the tension between myself and Maya.

“Don’t worry, this vodka’s as weak as hell. I tipped most of it away and topped it up with water.” She grins at us. “And please check how many plants we have scattered around the room. They need a good watering. Just don’t let Annie see you.”

I tip a load of my drink into the nearest plant pot, Maya quickly follows suit.

“That’s the key.” Marie nods approvingly. “Also, you gotta take the odd sip now and again. Just press the glass to your lips, but don’t swallow any.”

I glance at Maya, wondering how often Annie must do this if Marie’s such an old hand.

Marie reads my expression correctly. “She’s not like this all the time, it’s just that the Psycho is annoying her at the moment.”

“Who’s the…” Maya tails off as Annie re-enters the room.

“Howdy, chaps,” she says perkily. “I believe it’s your turn to come up with a question.” She takes a seat on the floor again and takes a big swig of her drink.

Maya gives me a look, then holds the glass to her lips. “Nice,” she says.

I hide a snort. Maya’s a drama student? That was really lousy acting.

“So, question.” Marie prods.

After a quick conference, Maya and I decide the question will be “Are you a virgin? If not, details.”

Not brilliant, but it will pass the time. Besides, it will be fun. Nobody in my class will admit they’re virgins, so hopefully it will land on Annie or Marie and they’ll take the dare.

The bottle points to Annie when it stops spinning. Maya grins at me.

“Dare,” she states firmly.

Maya and I put our heads together once more.

“How about she has to sneak into a High School dorm?” Maya suggests.

My jaw drops. Maya is the devil. I love her!

My jaw drops a little further. Did I just have that thought?

I quickly move on. I can puzzle that out later. “How about a certain dorm, she has to bring something back to prove she’s been there?” I add.

“Oooh! Perfect. But what?”

I think for a few minutes, then a smile slowly creeps across my face. “Pom-poms from the head cheerleader.”

Maya giggles devilishly. “That’s perfect! I love y—” she stops suddenly then hastily corrects herself. “I love it!”

I give her a weak smile and she pulls an unreadable face.

Annie is somewhere between horrified and impressed with us when we tell her the dare. She disappears for twenty minutes and comes back with not only the pom-poms, but a cheerleading trophy.

We use the time while she was away to throw our drinks away and replace them with water. Marie emptied the vodka bottle again, and added more water. “I don’t think there can be any vodka left in here,” she mused, holding it up to the light to get a better look. “Act giggly when she gets back or she’ll be suspicious.”

“Are you impressed?” Annie grins, showing us the trophy.

“How did you get that?” Marie asks in awe.

“Well, I didn’t want to be caught stealing. That’s wrong,” Annie tells us, taking a seat and downing the rest of her drink. I exchange a look with Maya, I guess drinking underage is less wrong than stealing in Annie’s book.

Annie grabs the trophy back from Marie who was busy tilting it to look at the engraving. “So I knocked on the door and asked.”

“You asked?” We chorus in amazement.

“Rather be told off for being out of bounds at night than for stealing,” Annie replies. “So I asked the head cheerleader, Aruna, she’s very cool. If I was a lesbian I’d definitely crush on her.”

“And she just let you take the pom-poms and the trophy?” I ask. Hang on, did Annie just say the word lesbian?

“Uh-huh. Aruna cut me a deal, she said I have to try out for the JV squad next year.” Annie sighs dreamily. “I wish I was a lesbian. Girls are easier to talk to than guys.”

Yep. She definitely said it. A whopping twice now.

“Yep,” Marie agrees cheerfully. “You can be friends with them and not have to worry that they’re going to ping your bra-strap or hit your arm for no apparent reason.”

“And it must be so easy to get together with someone. Even if they turn you down you’re safe in the knowledge that they’re not going to run off to their friends and laugh about you,” Annie adds.

Maya and I are completely silent as the pro-lesbian discussion escalates.

“What do you think?” Marie turns to me.

I shrug awkwardly. “Well, it can’t be that easy, can it? It’s not like lesbians are easily identifiable, you might end up hitting on a straight girl.”

“You’re thoughts?” Annie prods Maya. “This is a discussion, everyone must join in.”

“I wouldn’t have a clue about lesbians,” Maya says in a tight voice.

My face falls. I don’t know why I’m so disappointed, it wasn’t like I was expecting her to jump up and down waving a flag that read “I’m a raging lesbian, take me now Taz!”

Then again, I thought, maybe she might possibly, kinda (in a very small way) like me? What was that thing when we were outside? Girls don’t stroke each other’s faces for no apparent reason, do they? I thought, to be cliché, we were having a moment. Was I way off?

Or maybe I was just having a moment by myself and Maya accidentally got dragged into it.

My depressing musing are cut off by Marie passing out.

Annie begs us to help her put Marie in her own bed, so we do. I’m pretty sure that Marie winked at me while we were doing so.

“Well,” Maya comments as we walk the three steps to our door. “That was some night.”

Chapter 5: Maya

Notes: Any bad spelling is because Maya isn’t well. I’m spelling phonetically.

Deep sigh. Very deep. Why on earth did I use such a frosty tone when they were talking about lesbians? Poor Taz, she looked so disappointed…


Taz looked disappointed?

She did. I was there. She looked disappointed.

And she pointed out that it was hard for lesbians to find girlfriends. Which wasn’t like what Annie and Marie were saying. It sounds like Taz has really thought about this.

And Taz doesn’t think about things that don’t have any bearing on her life, I mean who does? So why would Taz think about lesbians?

Unless she is one.

I look across the room and open my mouth to say something—I have no idea what—when Taz shuts her book with a snap and turns over.

“Night,” she says over her shoulder.

Again with the sighing. “Night,” I reply half-heartedly.

I rub my eyes sleepily, then press my hand to my forehead, experiencing amazing pain. My forehead is red hot and I feel all blocked up.

Without warning I let out a huge sneeze.

Taz falls out of bed in fright. “Where’s the dragon?” She mumbles sleepily.

“Urgh…” I moan, searching for a tissue.

Taz rubs her eyes, then rummages through her nightstand. “Here you go.” She offers me a box of purple tissues.

“Tanks,” I mumble, wincing at my nasal voice and the newfound stabbing pains in my throat.

“I’ll go get you a glass of water.” Taz bounds off towards the bathroom and quickly returns with a her toothbrush-mug (naturally, it’s purple, with little penguins swimming in purple liquid at the bottom) filled with ice cold water. Bless her. I love her… um, I love her for getting me water.

I sip the water, feeling the room start to swirl. I cough, which makes the room jitter harder, and my eyes start to stream.

Taz looks pained. “Ooh, Maya, don’t cry. I’ll go get the nurse,” she says quickly.

“I’b not cryig!” I protest in my new squeaky voice.

“It’s ok,” she strokes my hair soothingly, her cool hands feel wonderful. “I always cry when I’m ill. I’ll be right back.”

She dashes out into the hall, still wearing her pink My Little Pony pyjamas. She loves it that she’s still small enough to wear them. Her Mom bought them for her right before she got sick, so they’re special to her. She cries every time she finds a wear in them, and I always sew them up for her because my sewing is neater and stronger than hers.

I suddenly panic. Taz has gone to get the nurse? There’s a Guy Fawkes mural on our wall and a poem about Taz. If I survive the flu, the dorm supervisors are going to kill us.

The waves of panic make the room swim again, so I slump back on the bed feeling very sorry for myself.

I guess I fell asleep because it only felt like seconds later Taz arrived with the nurse in tow.

“She’s not well,” Taz tells her firmly. “Make her better.”

The nurse nods indulgently, so I assume that Taz has been saying this ever since she located her.

“Hi, you can call me Lorna,” she says. “I’m from the High School part, but the Middle School nurse is busy dealing with a couple of girls who were drinking last night. Your friend is very persistent.”

Taz grins proudly.

I give her a sickly grin back. Bless her, she ran all the way to the High School in those pyjamas for me. She’s so sweet.

“Nice friend,” I agree. I’m trying to economise on words here so the little demons in my throat don’t feel the need to stab my vocal chords with big swords so often.

“It’s a good thing that I’m not supposed to be here,” Lorna says nodding at the walls. “If I was the Middle School nurse, I would be obligated to report this.”

Taz grins huge. “Thanks.”

“However, I expect the nurse will swing by later, so I suggest you do something about it.”

I groan and Lorna resumes her nurse-like duties. She shoves a thermometer in my mouth and places a hand on my forehead, tutting in a motherly way.

Eventually she leaves, telling me to dose up on painkillers and lots of OJ. I don’t want OJ, I want 7up. I always have 7up when I’m ill.

“You want anything?” Taz asks.

Bless her, she reads my mind.

“Because I’m going in to town, right now. Gonna have to, I’ll get some material or something to cover all the pictures and writing,” she continues.

“Miss class?” I ask.

“Where’s the bad in that?”

Taz reappears an hour later than the end of school. I’m guessing that she got caught sneaking out and that she’s on detention.

The nurse has appeared once and I managed to bribe her not to report the state of our room if we managed to cover it or change it by the end of the week.

It’s been an ok day, I’ve slept for most of it and my nasal voice seems to have cleared a little. I just wish Taz was here.

I mean, that Taz was here with my 7up.

Oh who am I kidding, I may have slept for most of the day but when I was sleeping or hacking up my lungs I wished Taz was here. It’s official, I’m going to admit to myself that I adore her.

Yes. Self, you have a big crush on the little purple nutcase.

Speaking of. The door opens and she dances through. “I’m back. I’ve brought homework, I apologise, they made me. However, I have 7up, and I also have Cadbury’s chocolate for when you’re feeling better. Got a parcel from Aideen and Saoirse in Ireland.”

“Oooh!” I say excitedly, then remember that my throat hurts. Aideen and Saoirse’s gift parcels are always fun. They write their letters in Irish to keep Taz on her toes. They’re terrified that she’ll become too American. I ignore the pain in my throat and grin at her. “What’s in it?”

Taz rummages in her bag and brings out a huge bottle of 7up and hands it to me. “Dunno, just rummaged through the top part.” She takes a seat on my bed and I move closer to her, taking the blankets with me.

“Are you ok?” She asks, reaching out to touch my face. “You feel clammy. How are you feeling?” Her cool fingers brush my hair off my face.

“Suddenly better,” I murmur.

She smiles, I smile.

Nice big moment. Followed by the awkward silence. Taz takes her hand away and opens the parcel from her cousins. “Letters, more letters, ooh, some more letters. Couple of books. Chocolate of both the Cadbury’s and Galaxy variety… oh…” Taz picks up a picture.

“Taz?” I prod when she remains silent for several minutes.

“Oh.” She looks up at me and gives me a smile. “It’s a picture of my Mum and Dad’s wedding. One I hadn’t seen before.”

She passes it to me and I take a look. Taz looks a little like her, only she has brown hair. “You have her eyes,” I decide. “They look really happy together.”

“Yeah, they were.” Her voice catches on the last word and she hastily rubs her eyes.

“Taz, come here,” I instruct pulling her into my arms.

“I’m such a baby.” She cries into my shoulder. “It’s been four years, I should be able to look at a picture without falling to pieces.”

“It’s ok, you miss her.”

“Besides, you’re ill. You should be emotionally fragile, not me.”

“Taz, it’s ok. If you need to cry then cry. Don’t bottle it up.”

And so I sit and hold her as she cries, stroking her hair and trying to soothe her as best I can. And I realise something, I want to protect her. I don’t want anything to upset her like this ever again.