So far, he displayed the sense not to stare at her leg or the scars which her shorts did not help to conceal at all. Not bad she supposed. "Mikaela please." She replied, keeping her smile fixed on her face as she continued, "Ms Ainsley makes me sound like a school teacher." He gave a firm handshake, another thing that won people brownie points with Kiran, and that he had insisted on teaching her how to do when she had been younger and shyer.
Felix continued to chatter away, letting something slip about singing in the shower before catching himself. The boy certainly was talkative, which was both helpful and tiring. She didn't have to carry the conversation which was great because she was much better at responding than initiating, but it also meant that she had more to respond to. At least it would serve as a useful distraction and perhaps let her learn a little bit more about him so she could figure out just how much of what she did was going to get back to her family. She didn't need them finding out about her doing drugs, or alcohol, or anything else. For their sakes and hers.
A wry smile briefly crossed Mikaela's face at Felix's comment about her brother telling him 'good things' about her, turning around to reach for a cube of cheese to hide her expression.
'good things', she could only imagine what her brother had told him about her. That she had a gentle and quiet disposition? To take good care of her while she was at H.A? Make sure she was recovering 'properly' from the awful accident that had her family worried? That she was— no, had been good on the ice?
That last thought stung.
"I definitely didn't hear about the shower singing, but you don't need to worry either, my brother's been singing nothing but your praises." Mikaela said as she turned back around, her pleasant smile, the one she brought out most often in public, having returned. She wasn't lying about the praise. Kiran had said a lot of good things about him, but the only thing she could really recall was that he was a nice dude, trustworthy, and an actor. The words never really stuck.
"I hope I haven't done anything to ruin the impression of me he gave you so far." That, was sort of a lie. She didn't know the guy well enough to really care what he thought of her. After years of getting judged by the media, judges, fans, and so on, she'd gotten used to it. Unfortunately, it still made her sick to think about, and this guy was her roommate. He also knew her brother and Felix obviously respected him enough or something to let her stay with him on Kiran's request. How much easier would this all be if he really was a complete stranger with no connection to her or her family at all. At least he was shaping up to be what looked and sounded like pleasant company with his joking comment about tending to her needs like a bell boy.
"Careful now, I might drive you mad with endless posts and ringing." She was only teasing, sort of. If he proved to be a problematic roommate for her purposes, then what better way to get rid of him than to upset him to the point that he rescinded his offer and threw her out?
Felix was either just very friendly and talkative, or someone who loved the sound of his own voice. Her mention of SpongeBob and cheese had gotten him started on a talk about cheese that seemed to have no ending as he made his way to the recliner and she slowly made her way back to the couch. She listened absentmindedly as he rambled on about old neighbours, cows, flies, all while pretending to be paying attention as she sipped on her wine.
Wow did Kiran know how to pick them. He seemed like the type that would go on a mile a minute and give you a complete rundown of the entire human anatomy if you asked him about the anatomy of the hand or something. Which, was not good news. Because if her brother asked him anything, it was looking like Felix would tell him what he asked and more. Fuck.
She plopped down on the couch less gracefully than she had intended and felt something land on the floor beside her feet. What was that—
A tiny plastic Ziploc filled with fine white powder, stared back at her accusatorily from where it lay on the floor. At her feet. Completely exposed.
That's where that missing batch had been hiding? In the bloody couch? And it had to pick now of all times to make an appearance? It couldn't have shown up earlier? When her roommate wasn't here? Her roommate—
Mikaela looked up to see Felix had already noticed the bag.
Oh bloody hell.
Weren't they off to a fine start in the get to know your roommate department? Time to hope he was a clueless bum she could trick into thinking this was flour or makeup or something, or she could talk him into keeping quiet. Anything to keep word of this from getting back to her family.
The last thing she needed was them to be crying again, trying to fix what could not be fixed.
The last thing she needed, was to lose another coping mechanism—
Saint unlocked the door to his apartment, as silent as ever as he entered. The stoic, unbothered expression rested on his face as he sat the bags on hanging from his arms arms down on the table in the entrance and dropped his keys down beside them. Glancing to his left as his guest entered, Saint worked his jaw for a moment.
He hadn’t expected any guests. Had he heard that he was going to have company, he would have straightened up the living room, at the very least. His roommates were not the best at keeping things tidied, and neither was he, but he didn’t want to make a first impression that they didn’t care about their cleanliness in the slightest.
Saint closed the door and flicked on the light of the living room. He entered the living room just as his company lit the joint. Between his lips, the weed somehow looked more appealing, and Saint walked around the front of the couch to sit beside the boy.
“Want some?” Lucky offered.
Saint wordlessly took the joint, placing it between his lips and breathing in the smoke.
For unannounced company who had threatened to…”beat his ass” (or what have you), Lucky was surprisingly nonaggressive. Wordlessly and expressionlessly, Saint studied the boy laid back on his couch. Lucky seemed to have had a rough day. He looked heavily intoxicated, with dull, glassy, blue eyes and a slumped posture. He was relaxed, in an almost forced way, and the expression on his face was one of latent pain.
To Saint, Lucky seemed like a subject of a painting, and he imagined this moment captured in brush strokes as he exhaled the heavy smoke in a slow stream of clouds.
As the smoke cleared away, the thought crossed his mind that perhaps saying that the other, very attractive boy’d had a rough day was an understatement. Saint himself had experienced the occasional “rough day”, but nothing had ever driven him to that point.
Saint’s curiosity was piqued, but Lucky wasn’t speaking, and Saint found it far more interesting to speculate over what had happened to him as he took another hit from the burning object and offered it to Lucky.
Regardless of what the pain was that Lucky was going through, Saint felt it gnawing at the back of his mind. Truly, Saint was never one to enjoy seeing others upset. Strangers especially tugged at his sympathy because he didn’t know everything about the situation— and, often, he knew nothing of their situation.
Saint hadn’t ever had much to do with Lucky, despite the fact that he had dated who was Lucky’s supposed best friend. He had never gotten to know him, and the times that he had spoken to him, he had found himself at the receiving end of scathing remarks and sharp-tongued comments. Perhaps that was why he was so intrigued by the boy; he was something new and unfamiliar, and he was in pain.
The comfort that Saint was offering to him in the form of the drug may have been plenty, but there was still pain painted throughout Lucky’s expression. The further the joint burned down and the more it passed between the two in the wordless, heavy, smoky silence, the more that showed in Lucky’s face. Anger, hurt, confusion…perhaps a question of “what the hell do I do next?”.
Still, written in his gaze were the words “escape— I need to escape”.
Saint leaned over to the other boy, bringing his face nearer to his. “You’ve been through a lot…haven’t you…?” Saint asked in his slow way. His breath was laden with the unpleasant scent of weed. His eyes read concern and sympathy, and his brows knit in something akin to focus and concentration. “A long day…a lot happened…something along those lines…” He studied the joint, small in Lucky’s hand, and he reached over to take it. “You don’t have to tell me about it…and I don’t have to understand what you’re going through…” He breathed in deeply from the joint and exhaled a heavy cloud. As he held his breath, he studied Lucky’s painfully poetic expression.
Up closer to Lucky than he had been before, Saint could feel the sympathetic gnawing growing even further.
He turned his head away to exhale the cloud of smoke from his lungs, and then he looked at Lucky, silent, his brows unknitting as his expression went back to its unreadable state. For a moment, he peered into Lucky’s blue eyes, studying them silently. They reflected Saint’s silhouette in the low light of the ceiling lamp. They were laced with pain, and hurt, and anger, and everything that Saint had read in his expression throughout this time, and Saint couldn’t help but be compelled to offer them comforting another way.
Silently, Saint extinguished the joint, and he moved closer to Lucky. HIs broad shoulders pressed against his, and he turned so that his face was inches from Lucky’s.
Saint’s stoic expression was still maintained as he studied the other boy’s expression once more.
“Escape,” read Lucky’s eyes. “I need escape.”
Saint sat the smoked-down joint on the table in front of the couch and brought his hand to cup the side his guest's jaw.
"We don't have to talk about it," Saint said, and, slowly so as to allow Lucky to back away if it wasn’t what he wanted, he pressed his lips to Lucky’s.
Felix reclined further back in the chair, proppin’ his hands up behind his head. A latent grin rested on his face as he watched the little fellas on the screen. He bounced his foot to some quick tempo, as he tended to do when he was just chillin’.
He chuckled softly at a gag onscreen, shakin’ his head. Silly little sponge guy and his antics. The show was kinda cute, actually. He’d have to make a note to binge-watch the series in his free time. He might’ve found some kinda new obsession.
There was a very soft noise, but Felix glanced over to where he’d heard it from, anyway. Sometimes, big problems didn’t make big noises, y’know, and he didn’t know if he’d be lookin’ over to find Mikaela havin’ passed out or somethin’ wild like that.
(He was kinda jumpy when it came to (even small) sudden noises, if ya couldn’t tell.)
That was when he spotted it: a little baggie on the floor beside Mikaela’s foot.
He stared at the bag for a moment, and then he caught Mikaela lookin’ up to his face. He met her eyes for a second, and he could read panic in them.
She was a user?
He might’ve found a better roommate than he’d thought before.
Abruptly, he lifted himself up in the recliner. The back of the chair came up to support his spine.
“Hey, hey, hey, now,” Felix said, holdin’ his hands up in an attempt to calm her. He chuckled softly.
Internally, the ideas swam in his head.
She’s a user, Em, bud.
He had to go about this tactfully.
He clicked the recliner’s back up, and he sat forward in the chair, foldin’ his hands and sittin’ his elbows on his lap.
“You ain’t got no reason to worry, Ms. Ainsley— er, Mikaela.” He gave her a sure grin, though his heart and head were racin’. “You…” He cleared his throat, givin’ a shake of his head. “You ain’t got no reason to worry,” he repeated, meetin’ her eyes.
Okay, now ya just…
“In fact…,” Felix started. He chuckled softly as he reached into his pocket, and he dug out a small bag of his own. “I got a few things like that myself.” He tossed the bag at the table.
It missed by a long shot, falling’ a few feet in front of the foot of the table.
Darn. Right. Well, Felix didn’t think that he was gonna be a sports star anytime soon.
He grinned up at Mikaela. “Though…well, mine ain’t for personal use, if ya catch my drift.”
He stood, unfoldin’ his hands and walkin’ over to the couch. As he passed his bag, he picked it up and swiftly put it back in his pocket.
He stooped down to be eye level with her. “Perhaps I should reintroduce myself.” He held out his hand for her, cockin’ a grin at her. “Name’s Felix Emmerson, or Emm for short, though Emm is more of an…alias, ya know? You don’t see it written down often.” His grin broadened. “An’ I’m right at your service.”
somethin’ casual (you could call if business casual. get it? ‘cuz— ...i’ll see myself out)
For all the years she had spent pretending for the cameras, the crowds, her parents and siblings, none of that was proving to be of any help now. From the reaction of her roommate and his words, it was obvious he was trying to keep her calm, which meant her panic was showing, and he knew that the bag held drugs.
She was doing a terrible job of damage control. Then again if she were any good at damage control to begin with, things probably wouldn't be the way they were.
Why was he trying to calm her down? To convince her that he wouldn't tell her brother? Or try to keep her from doing anything crazy like attack him to keep him quiet? And what was that chuckle supposed to mean? Was he finding this amusing? Did he see this as some kind of opportunity to score brownie points with her brother? Build on whatever connection they already had?
The wheels in her head spun out of control as she watched Felix sit up and adjust his position until he settled into a business like pose. Business? Was he going to start negotiating with her or something? Or give her some kind of lecture or talk about how drugs were bad for her like Kiran would?
“You ain’t got no reason to worry, Ms. Ainsley— er, Mikaela.”
No reason to worry? Mikaela cocked an eyebrow briefly as she studied Felix. She was liking this less and less. First the chuckle and now the grin? What was he thinking in that little blonde head of his? It was looking increasingly like negotiations or blackmail was where this was headed. He repeated himself and annoyance tore throw Mikaela with renewed force. Could he not just spit it out already? What was the damn reason?
Words expressing her agitation were on the verge of leaving her mouth when Felix reached into his pocket and he tossed something onto the floor. What was he up to now? She scanned the floor till her eyes found the item he had just produced. Drugs.
Mikaela blinked, her shoulders easing a little as she looked back up at Felix. No wonder he had been telling her to calm down and grinning like an idiot. He was a user— no, a dealer. And from that twinkle in his eyes, it was clear that he saw her as a customer. Not Kiran's little sister, a customer.
Felix wasted no time confirming her thoughts as he made his way over from the recliner and stooped down so that he was at her eye level. “Perhaps I should reintroduce myself.” He held out his hand for her, again flashing that signature grin. “Name’s Felix Emmerson, or Emm for short, though Emm is more of an…alias, ya know? You don’t see it written down often.” His grin broadened. “An’ I’m right at your service.”
The tension in her shoulders faded further as she appraised him. So much for the charming and trustworthy southern gentleman. Her brother really did know how to pick them. She had hoped he was wrong in his assessment of her roommate in a different way, but this was even better than expected. Not only was he not going to report the fact that she was a user, he was a dealer, he'd supply her with the goods she needed. Sure she already had Javi as a contact but she wasn't going to turn down another source, especially one that was just across the hallway.
In fact, if he wasn't going to expose her drug abuse, he might not expose anything else either. There wouldn't be a need for her to pretend to be ok within the condo like she had to outside and exhaust herself further.
Mikaela allowed herself a small smile, the first real smile she had since Felix stepped into the room. "The pleasure's all mine, Emm, and I look forward to using your services."
The way things were going, she'd be sending Kiran a nice 'thank you' message later. The roommate he'd picked out and stuck her with was looking to be perfect.
@He.went.2.Jared has interacted with: Ken (jasmichelle
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He listened to her talk and was mildly interested. What he liked food? Good food even better. He nodded in agreement, "I will try one then. However if your mother makes the best and she taught you I'll be trying yours rather then some cookie cutter cafe's" What he deserved the best didn't he? He'd have asked it to be her mothers if that didn't include meeting her parents which he wasn't sure if this whole deal was THAT serious. After all he had no intention of bringing her to meet his. They'd devour her in a heart beat. Not that he felt particularly protective of her, just this whole thing would be for nothing if she had a mental break down so early on. If there is one thing Jared hates, is wasted time.
Hearing her stutter out the final words he raised a brow, "You can call it a date by the way. That's what it is. Gen made sure of that." He chuckled a bit despite himself remembering how frustrating dealing with how drunk and unstable the girl was last night. He did his best to stay out of it since it seemed deeper then just too much to drink and let her best friends handle it. "Plus you should get used to saying it more confidently. Confidence is key." He supposed he shouldn't be surprised that her acting skills on this whole ordeal was better via online and social media than in person. It didn't phase him however because if that had been the case she would be in the wrong department for sure. Speaking of department...he should probably listen to one of her songs eventually...that'll probably come up at some point.
The ride was pleasant, he didn't dislike her music choice so that was a plus, and he was saved from idle chi-chat so that's a win in his book. They arrived and sat down, but she looked like she was distracted looking for something. Perhaps the possible paparazzi's? They would come in due time, so he wasn't going to worry about when.
"That's good." He wasn't going to comment on her being with his sister, that wouldn't go well. Plus it wasn't like Ken didn't already know that the two hated being around one another or talking to one another. She'd been around long enough to see their fights. He didn't get it though. He didn't understand their friendship or how it worked? Ken seemed to be this very sweet...perhaps too much for her own good, down to earth, adorable type of girl who didn't really do much to step outside of the lines. That was NOTHING like Magnolia. Maggie was a hurricane, and chaos, and rebellion all wrapped up in the illusion of a teenage girl. If anything that was the only part of Ken that made him genuinely curious to get to know her at this point. What about her calmed that storm in his sister? Or was willing to ride along with it?
"Considering how last minuet my costume was it's very odd, but as they say things happen for a reason right? It almost looked planned." He hummed. For all the pieces of this plan that were planned it was the little things that weren't like matching costumes that he felt would really sell this thing to people. Not to mention they looked damn good next to one another. That was something he couldn't deny. He supposed their managers had taken that into consideration as well when planning this. Being photogenic was part of his thing now, but haven photogenic chemistry is a whole other ball game.
She made the comment about not liking being home alone, and a part of him knew that appropriate response would be to talk to her about it. That's part of getting to know someone right? Asking why she didn't like being home alone, because personally he loved his solitude because he didn't have to save face, or do damage control, or always be thinking about his next move. When he unwound at home, it was a true moment of peace for him. He couldn't imaging being home with his sister or anyone else really being more comforting then that. However despite this thought, he kept his mouth shut and just nodded in agreeance. That seemed personal and he wasn't here for personal.
Luckily he was saved from the lingering thoughts by the waiter coming up to take their order. Jared had looked up the place before coming and seen their menu, so he already knew what he wanted. He let her order first then looked up at the worker his face unyielding, "I'd like a glass of water and your sausage croissant sandwich." Just like that his attention was back on Kennedy. His resting bitch face was great for modeling most of the time, but his social interactions could use some work. He wasn't usually seen as pleasant. Flirty when around the right kind of company, but not pleasant.
When she spoke up asking about his modeling he internally groaned. Not just because he didn't particularly like talking about it already since it wasn't his passion, but it's not like she'd know that. He knew it was a casual and obvious question, but he hated small talk. Which left him between a rock and a hard spot because he didn't want to have idle meaningless conversations, but he also couldn't bring himself to have deep meaningful ones with her because that grows real attachment, and he didn't need that either. Not that he was afraid he would grow attached but she seemed the type to possibly get clingy if she developed real feelings. Was there a middle ground?
Business...they could talk about their next steps together? That relationship like too right? "It's going fine, I'm working with Gen and Mike apparently for the Arts Festival." He vaguely explained because honestly he had no clue what he'd agreed to. "I'd rather talk about us though. I think we've teased them enough. What do you say to going public finally?" He asked as gently as possible for him. "Pictures will circulate today, people are bound to have leaked the conversation on twitter. I think it's time for you to be my girlfriend." He added lightly placing his hand on top of hers and forcing a corner of his lips to quirk up slightly to give a semblance of an attempt at a smile for effect.
Perhaps too much of an effect considering just like that flashing blinding light popped out of no where. Who knows how long they been secretly snapping pictures, but with just a little physical contact they became like vultures asking a million questions a minuet about how serious they were, and are the rumors finally confirmed, and so many others that Jared wasn't even really registering because now he was angry because why would they pop up before they even got served their food? Now they'd have to eat later, and he was actually looking forward to eating right now. He took her by the hand took her inside the Cafe, "Looks like we are eating to-go." He told the cashier and luckily the Cafe kept the annoying cameras outside rather then letting them in. They bagged their meal and then Jared quickly ushered Ken from the Cafe back to his car with his arm around her, before driving off. He supposed that sort of answered her question for her.
The actual cure for a hang over? More partying of course!
Maggie's friend had left and Ken was still gone on her date, so she spent the in between time pregaming a bit and making sure everything was ready for tonight. Luckily Lucky was a master planner so Maggie just had to focus on the add on's like their party bus since apparently there was a slowly growing invite list. Not to mention thanks to a random game of truth or dare twitter edition she now had to pay for some coke from Felix. She didn't mind, but it was just another random addition to the evening. Honestly that was how she liked things to flow, and she knew Josie did too. It's why they made such a good pair...dangerous but good.
She thought about inviting some more people, but her mind was blank and they'd been blasting this party on twitter for days so people knew it was fair game and to just ask if they wanted in.
Next thing Magnolia knew it was four maybe five hours in? She'd had a shot every hour on the hour as a count down till midnight or till they hit however old Josie was now. That's when the last two guys arrived to join in the fun. Apparently their names were Damien and Kian? She was pretty sure? Sobriety was too far away for her to remember names she's only seen on twitter. One of them brings out party favors in the form of fun pills which reminds her of the white power in her pocket too! "You know it!" She cheered as Josie offered up the baggie. "Pass it on over." She called out loudly to be heard over the crowd.
"Whatever your name is shaggy, you're cool in my book." She laughed. She vaguely remembered Josie calling him hot, but he wasn't her type, so nickname it was. She whipped out her own party favor with a smirk wrapping her arm around Josie's waist with her free hand and dangling the bag in front of her face, "We've got a bit of this as well if people have a preference." She grinned. "Anything left over can be yours if you want it love." She giggled the whole time she was talking she was still rocking her booty to the music. "Or we can save it for whoever's birthday is next between me and Lucky." She hummed.
For the most part she was dancing with anyone and everyone so who all was actually around was a blur till Damien mentioned Ronnie. Ronnie? When did she get here? Oh well she was here now, no point in feeling any type of way about it. Maggie was no babysitter, so she hoped Ronnie could actually hang with the big dogs. She didn't wanna end the night in the ER for some reason. Apparently Liv was also around? Who else was around?
Whatever party on!
The night marched on endlessly. The high dosage of drugs and alcohol running through her veins enough to let her forget that her actual life was miserable. That this high life wasn't actually her life, or her choice to live. Sure it was to an extent, but it was all part of the grand plan. It was all part of keep up the image. But hey if you're gonna do something you might as well be the best at it right? Good thing she was wearing braids cause all her dancing definitely would've sweat a perm out.
She had no idea most of the night who she as grinding on or between. So long as they were bodies she didn't care. A body shot here and there to mix it up a bit. She didn't even know where the body paint came from or when she put it on. The blinding flashing lights didn't help any of that either, but the less she knew the better. The less she thought the less she remembered. Tonight wasn't about remembering it was about getting so high she was untouchable. Having her closest friends beside her was a bonus. The cake was fantastic, and the birthday girls blew them out and shared a kiss. Which of course Maggie got pictures of her her phone. Well she hoped so, everything was a blur and she was sure the photos would be too. Because being still for even a moment was completely impossible.
If everyone was making out with everyone she might as well get her bit in too. Liv had already lip locked with Kian and Damien so naturally Maggie went for the one guy left which just so happened to be one of her best friends. But hey she wasn't registering that at the moment. All she knew was, he was cute, he was there, and they were both extremely out of it. What harm could it do? She grinned and turned to Lucky pulling him by his belt loop in for a kiss.
Time was a construct she no long participated in after that point. Everything after that felt like it happened in the blink of an eye.
One blink, and suddenly almost everyone was gone. Fuck how was she getting home? Where even was home? This is how people get kidnapped.
Two blinks, She was somehow talking with a hottie with a body and getting into a car with him while linked arm and arm with the other guy that's come with the guy who gave Josie the pills. At least she knew one person here. Kinda?
Three blinks, Suddenly she was on a rooftop with a banging view, with still a bunch of people around partying and dancing, and was that a pool? Where was she? About to take a dive that's where!
Four blinks, Cold, it's sooooo cold, and she is soaking wet and sitting in a bath tub. Oh hey it's that one guy from earlier again that brought her here. And these are his lips. Yup, it's a good night that's about to get warmer.
Five blinks, Oh look now she's in a car. Look at the pretty lights passing by. She looked over to her side and there was the last of her original party still beside her. Man this guy could hang! She definitely had to get his name by the end of this.
Six blinks, Finally nice and cozy. Where is this cozy feeling? Who knows. It's someone's room. And look that guy is still here. Maybe it's his place? That'd make sense. Which means this is a safe space to finally pass out. Well as safe as she was going to get tonight. Just before fading into the darkness she briefly wondered what happened to Lucky and Josie. She could guess for Josie, but Lucky seemed a bit off all night. She'd talk to him later about it though.
Liv’s words cut through Gen like a searing blade, digging around inside her chest to leave her feeling hollow within. The waves of emotion kept receding before crashing into Gen over and over and over again, her heart racing wildly in her chest as her lungs struggled to take in air. Was she really sorry or was this another lie? They had been through this before: shit would hit the fan, Gen and Liv would cry and yell and apologize, and the night would end with them promising not to fuck up again. Gen had seen this film before and she knew that the words ‘I’m sorry’ means nothing.
In normal times, Gen would have snapped. Her mouth would have run and cut deeper into Liv in some sort of twisted retaliation for the pain in Gen’s chest. She would have yelled, she would have cried, she would have let everything out because Gen couldn’t deal with the things Liv made her feel any other way. If that didn’t work, she would have pushed Liv away and waited multiple agonizingly silent weeks before getting back in contact with her. But these were not normal times. They were not lovers in a quarrel or friends in a fight. They were merely strangers, two ships having passed in the night before crashing into separate rocky shores. Gen wasn’t feeling anything besides numbness… How could she feel anything else?
“My parents, before… any record label or whatever had an interest in me, every other weekend there was a night where they’d just… play music, something slow,” Liv spoke, her voice piercing the quiet of the car. “And they’d just dance. I remember watching from the stairs, they thought I was asleep— except when I got caught once, but that’s a different story.”
Who gave a fuck about a stupid story? What did any of that have to do with the situation at hand? Liv’s hand reached up to touch her face, cold fingers on Gen’s tear stained cheeks causing her to jump back slightly at the contact when all she wanted to do was to melt into her touch.
“Dance with me.”
Gen blinked a few times, finally pushing herself to look over at Liv. What would dancing fix? Dancing wouldn’t take away the pain or sober Liv up or start the whole damn day over. Dancing wouldn’t stop the sinking feeling of dread from taking over, dancing wouldn’t stop the agony ripping through her core. But for Liv, Gen would do anything.
Reaching over to the dash Gen turned up the music slightly and stepped out of the car, leaving the door propped open so that the music could be heard in the parking lot. Liv approached Gen and with a careful arm, Gen pulled Liv in by her waist. Gen had stopped crying, her entire body going numb at Liv’s touch. It was Liv’s turn to hurt, Liv’s turn to feel the weight of the moment. Part of Gen angrily hoped that Liv was hurting as much as she was as they swayed back and forth to the gentle music in the background. The selfish part of Gen wanted to stop Liv from crying because it was breaking her heart to see. But all of Gen just wanted the pain to be over.
Hands wrapped around Liv’s waist, Liv rested her arms on Gen’s thin shoulders as the two silently slowly danced to the music. Gen hated dancing which was quite the ironic distaste for someone who grew up with a professional dancer of a twin brother and many dancing friends. Gen had never enjoyed the tenseness of dancing, the careful placement of hands and feets and spindly limbs around the other person. It was too methodical, too planned, too easy to screw up.
After her first slow dance with Liv at junior prom, Gen had found that maybe dancing wasn’t so bad when you did it with someone you loved. Look, Gen would never admit it but she sort of adored dancing with Liv. She imagined them dancing in a rain like in those stupid romantic comedy movies that played on TLC, clothes sticking to their skin with the cold water while giggles erupted from their mouths from the sheer silliness of it all. She imagined them dancing into their first apartment together, celebrating the life they were starting together. She imagined them sneaking off during their wedding to share a song between the two of them.
Never did she expect to be dancing on the top of an empty parking garage after bailing out intoxicated Liv from jail.
“I… You never told me why.” Gen’s mouth ran dry as Liv pulled herself into her chest. “Why you left. I miss you.”
This was the moment Gen had been dreading. Her first instinct was to lie. She could just tell Liv that she fell out of love with her, that she didn’t see a future for them together. It was easy to lie when the person you were lying to wasn’t vulnerably wrapped up in your arms after months of starvation of their touch. It was easy to lie when there was nothing to lose. But how could Gen lie about why she left when Liv never left her mind, when there was no future Gen wanted to exist in if Liv wasn’t there beside her.
“Liv…” Gen trailed off, her voice catching in her throat as the tears threatened to fall again. She had to be strong. “I don’t keep many people in my life, too many people knowing your true self is dangerous. The people I do keep around mean the world to me. They’re my best friends, my family.”
Gen moved her arms from Liv’s waist, tucking a strand of hair behind Liv’s ear.
“But then there’s you. You don’t just mean the world to me, you are what I want my world to be. You’re not my friend, you’re not my family. You’re not someone I’ve ever had to make a category for because I never thought that I’d love someone the way I love you.” Gen spoke softly, the constant edge falling away from her breathy tone. “I want to give you everything I have. I’d give you the whole damn universe if that’s what you wanted. Every waking hour I have I want to spend with you. Every accomplishment I’ll make I want you by my side because I can’t go through life without you. That scares me. To want someone so badly, to feel so empty without you in my arms…”
The feelings of that night rushed back. Gen was sobbing silently as the plane wheels lifted off the runway, Adriane resting beside her. Every cell in her body screamed for her to turn around and go back to Liv, there was nothing she wanted more. Adriane felt alien next to Liv’s comforting presence. But Gen knew that if she had turned around, if she had called the whole trip off, she would never be able to leave Liv’s side again. Gen would have been perfectly happy to have Liv become her entire world, she would throw everything away for her if she had to. But the what-ifs that came with being with Liv, the fear of the unknown from the parties and the drinking and the drugs, they haunted every corner of Gen’s mind.
“I left because I was scared of losing you.” Gen finally admitted, a hand trailing up Liv’s back so that she could gently stroke her hair. “I was afraid of finally getting that call to hear that a party got out of hand. I was afraid of the day that you’d realize I would never be enough for you. I was afraid that you would find someone else and I would end up alone because at the end of the day, you’re the only person I want. So I left. If I was the enemy, if I was the bad guy, then maybe you’d move on. I was hurting myself, I was hurting you. Every day of that trip, I wanted to be back here with you. But how could I come back to someone who I was certain hated my guts? I broke your heart without a second thought, I didn’t deserve a second chance. I deserved the pain I felt and still feel. It was a selfish decision made out of fear and it is a decision I will regret until the day that I die.”
Gen fell silent, closing her eyes as she placed a gentle kiss on the top of Liv’s head. Resting her cheek against Liv’s hair, Gen held back the tears once again as she reached to her shoulder to intertwine her fingers with Liv’s. She had never spoken those words out loud before, never even so much as writing them down in a text message or a journal entry. These were the thoughts that Gen had fought to suppress for months, thoughts that she had promised herself would never surface.
“Liv, I was afraid of this.” Gen continued, voice raw from the tears and struggle of not crying. “When my mom told me that something had happened to you, my world ended. Nothing else mattered. I didn’t even know what happened and I knew I needed to be there for you, no questions asked. I knew this would hurt, I knew this night would end in pain, but I also knew that none of it mattered because you’d be safe. What if it wasn’t just an arrest? What if you had overdosed? What if you had been attacked or gotten into an accident? I love you and that in itself scares me enough but thinking about my life without you? I can’t imagine a world where we’re not together but I know that one day, that will happen. I want nothing more than to grow painfully old with you, Livanna, but every time the phone rings, I recognize that maybe that won’t happen. Every day, I wonder if this is the last time I’ll see you. I’ve tried to memorize your face, your voice, your smell because one day it’ll all be gone forever. The drugs, the parties, the alcohol, they’re all going to take you away from me before I’m ready and I can’t handle that. I can’t handle losing you, Liv, so if I don’t have you to lose then maybe I’ll be safer. So that’s why I left because if I didn’t leave temporarily, I thought the world was going to lose you forever and I couldn’t live with that.”
Gen pulled away suddenly, turning her face away from Liv as she reached up to frantically wipe the tears from her face. Her entire body ached as she finally gave up holding everything in, turning back to Liv and pressing her lips into hers. Perhaps not the most romantic kiss, it was a kiss of pure love. It was Gen’s way of telling Liv that she loved her no matter what and that none of this stupid pain mattered. It was a kiss of sorrow, mourning a future that was not yet dead. It was a kiss of desire, lips moving in tandem to make up for lost time and to store the feeling once they part. Gen pulled away, forcing herself to put space between herself and Liv.
“Liv, I want you. I want nobody but you. Nothing in this fucked up world is worth going through if I don’t have you. No amount of stupid mistakes or petty arguments or horrifying moments will change that. I want you, I want all of you. I want your smile and your tears and your flaws and every bit of you because you’re the only person I ever want to love.” Gen continued, the tears flowing steadily down her cheeks as her chest jumped with heaving sobs. “But not like this. Liv, I can’t keep living like this. I can’t keep seeing your face and wondering if it’s the last time I’ll ever see you alive. I can’t watch you kill yourself while I plan our future together. I want you and everything that comes with you but I can’t have that if…”
Gen had asked this of Liv before. Sobriety. Gen wasn’t sure if it was possible, nor did she know if Liv even wanted to be sober. Each time Gen asked, it failed. Weeks or months would go by before Liv inevitably used again, sending them both into a spiral. Their lives were forever intertwined. Gen swallowed the lump in her throat.
“I know you love me. But I need to know that you want this, want me. I need to know that you want me more than the high, more than the grave you’re digging yourself into.” Gen sobbed, the cracks in her voice falling away to a silent throbbing cry as her voice became mousy and soft. “I can’t watch the woman I love die, Livanna, because a piece of me will die with you. I just can’t. But I want us, there’s nothing in the world I want more than to live out my life with you. But this? Me rescuing you when shit hits the fan? I’ll do it every time, you know I will, but I can’t do this anymore. If you don’t want us, if you don’t want me, then just tell me because I don’t know what else to do.”
Charlie seriously considered not going to lock-in at all. Most of her friends were going but if she was honest, Charlie had little desire to talk to any of them. The night of Halloween had left a bad taste in her mouth for the remainder of the week that no amount of studying or practicing could get rid of. Late sleepless nights were met with overly early mornings as Charlie did her best to avoid Trevor, their text conversation playing over and over in her mind whenever they briefly crossed paths.
The two friends had hardly said a word to each other. Hell, Charlie had barely said a word to anyone outside of her teachers or her classmates asking for help with homework. As the week progressed, the dark circles deepend under her eyes and class became a prime napping time slot. She found herself spending more time in the library and the studio, most of her waking hours working on school and her music.
By the time the Saturday of lock-in rolled around, Charlie just wanted to crash in her bed and sleep the weekend away. All of her roommates were going to be gone for the night meaning that for the first time in over a week, Charlie had the opportunity to actually cook a meal and hang out in her living room without having to worry about running into Trevor and causing problems. But then she saw everyone packing up and hearing the group chats abuzz with excitement about the event. So, her weekend plans went right out the window.
Charlie had arrived fashionably late, backpack slung over one shoulder while her spare hand wrestled with her guitar case. Charlie had promised herself that she would have fun at some point that night but she had to get some work done too. Besides, what sparked creativity quite like being in a school full of people after hours? Tossing her things into a lone classroom, Charlie pulled her denim jacket over her shoulders and grabbed her guitar case and journal.
Most of the good quiet spots were filled with people already, her lateness forcing her to climb up the three floors only to not be able to find a spot. Finally, she stopped in front of the doors to the roof, pushing them open with her hip and stepping out into the night air. Charlie had spent time on the roof each lock-in since freshman year, most of the time with her friends to escape the crowds below. Most people didn’t even know that they kept the roof unlocked during the day which, in retrospect, seemed incredibly unsafe (especially during a lock-in that featured hoards of drunk teenagers).
Heading over to a far corner, Charlie placed her guitar down and slid down a brick wall to the ground. Her body was completely hidden by a large water tank to her left that still had her name and Amy’s name scraped into the painting, the only visible parts of her being her shoes and the edge of her guitar case. Perfectly hidden, just as she liked it. Popping open her guitar case, she carefully pulled the instrument from its case and opened her journal to her newest song.
Charlie softly hummed the melody of the song to herself as she tuned the guitar with nimble fingers, occasionally plucking the strings one by one until they sounded perfect. After a few minor edits to the words she had written down before she left the apartment, Charlie moved to strum her guitar. The sound of the squeaking metal door caught her attention, causing Charlie to pause suddenly. Was there someone else on the roof?
Refraining from playing, Charlie set her guitar down carefully beside her and peeked around the water tank. An instant plume of smoke drifted her way, carrying an oh-so-familiar scent. Blinking a few times, Charlie leaned a bit forwards and frowned as she got to her feet, guitar in hand as she prepared to leave.
“What are you doing here? Couldn’t last five minutes without smoking, huh?”
Not to brag or some dumb shit like that, but Slater was one hundred percent rocking this new school thing. Two hookups under his belt -- one that was some bitch whose name he couldn't remember, and the other was that birthday girl Josie -- and he hadn't even be at the school for one whole fucking week. What could he say? All of the fucks at this school could say whatever shit they wanted to about him, but Slater did have some sort of fucking game, and they could all suck it. Clearly, they were jealous of just how great he was.
(Also, yeah, maybe he did mean to brag.)
Morale of the story, after a weekend of fucking, Slater had taken a backseat on the whole hooking up thing and actually focused on school. His classes? Fucking hard, but fucking awesome. Granted, he still didn't feel as if he completely belonged here -- half of the time, he'd felt as if he was slipping and sliding on ice, struggling not to fall over and be left in the dust.
But he could do it, yeah? If fucking Dalton could, then Slater could.
Being a... famous animator or some shit. Yep, that's where he was headed.
Anyway, boring school shit aside, Damien was ready to enjoy himself for the night at... what was this shit again? A lock-in? Well, he couldn't quite understand why anyone would want to be locked in at fucking school, but hey, fuck it, whatever. Damien wasn't here to understand his fellow peers -- he was here to try and fit in, make some friends and shit, and hopefully have a repeat of last weekend.
Ya know -- repeat meaning a hookup tonight, and a hookup tomorrow night.
Which meant that Damien's first first order of business on tonight's agenda was to try and seek out a lonely enough looking girl or guy that he could work some of his magnificent fucking charm on, and then he'd be set for the night. Someone to warm... well, not his bed, but the janitor's closet or some shit. Locker room. Bathroom. Damien wasn't exactly picky on a fucking venue.
Nor was he picky on someone to try and work his mad charm on, so the first girl that caught his eye was the first one that he decided to approach. Well-- the first one that looked desperate enough. Slater had gotten kind of fucking skilled at being able to detect bitches that had would fuck anyone that gave them the time of day -- hence why other than that JJ chick, he was a 2/2 in that department.
So he sidled up to the hot enough girl, a sly, lopsided grin on his face.
"Hey," he said, leaning against the nearby wall, his hands slipping into the pockets of his jeans because that's how the cool kids did it, and Slater was nothing if not cool as fucking fuck, ya know. "Slater," he introduced himself, holding out a hand to shake hers because that was fucking polite and he was a goddamn fucking gentleman. "And you are...?"
Don't worry, the charm was coming.
Slater just had to get her to let her guard down. Talk her up a bit, be friendly enough, and then he could turn on the actual charm.
Dominicka Abrams should have been used to shit like this.
Fourth grade, her first year in public school, marked the start of it all— the start of everyone hating her. It had only gotten worse from there.
Everyone fucking hating her had started so long ago and become such a routine that she couldn’t remember what and when exactly it started. She just remembered that she was young and cried all the fucking time.
Cried because she was laughed at for her shitty clothes and her dad being a “dumbass” and making them broke.
Cried because some boy broke the charm bracelet that she had begged all year last year to get on her birthday— the bracelet that she knew her parents had to struggle to scrape up the money to afford.
Cried because her hair was pulled, because her face was slapped.
Cried because she was kicked down at every turn.
Cried because girls were bitches, because boys were assholes.
And then, as time went on, all she did was fucking cry more.
Cry because she had some word that Vanessa Waldrup thought she was hot shit for knowing written in Sharpie into her blue binder nearly every day. Usually, it was “attention whore”, but sometimes, it would be “skank” or “bitch”. She would have to work for an hour to scrub them off before her mom could see.
Cry because she would get chewed out for trying to sit in someone’s “spot”, even though they had never sat there a day in their life, and she’d have to skip lunch out beneath the counters in the bathrooms. When the teachers would come in to ask her what was wrong, she would say that she had a stomachache— because she would have one— and then she’d vomit into the toilet when they were gone. And then, she would spend the evening in the nurse’s office trying to get medicine because she would sick, and she would cry and her mom had to come and pick her up.
Cry because she knew that, regardless of how much of bitches or assholes they were, they were right, that she was worthless and discardable and better off dead.
The only association that she had with anybody was when she talked. When she told people shit about other people, they listened. Often they laughed or spit or kicked at her. They tried to fight her, or they broke her shit and said that it was "karma". And she cried when they did that, but she also felt something that she...she didn’t know, fucking compelled her to do it again, to do it more— even though she didn’t really want to fucking do it.
Everyone hated her from the start because she hadn’t realized just how fucking shitty she was. And then, when she realized that herself— that she was fucking worthless, a bitch, all of that shit— she couldn’t do anything to stop it.
She just cried more. All she could fucking do was cry.
It never really changed. She’d been stuck in a cycle that she’d tried to break when she came to this damn school but had failed to do, and now? She was so fucking alone, yet again.
It was this part of the cycle— the part where she got that "karma" or some shit like that.
Now, they were saying she was pregnant. Now, they were laughing at her and mocking her and saying that it was what she deserved. They were determined to get back at her for something that she hadn’t fucking meant to do in the first place.
She should have been used to this. She'd been getting this shit her whole life, pretty much.
But instead, she had been crying all week.
Crying because they hated her.
Crying because they thought the same about her as she did about herself.
Crying because this reminded her of that time back in New York, when she would go to the high school parties even though she was an eighth grader and would whore herself out to whatever boy laid eyes on her first and everyone would make fun of her and say that she was going to be a mother of two before she got out of high school— and everyone here thought the fucking same.
Crying because she was fucking weak, because she couldn't fucking handle what shit she'd been getting her whole fucking life, because she was so selfish like that.
Crying because...because she was an attention whore or some shit— because this would get her— fuck!
Crying because of— because of fucking everything, she guessed.
She had panicked Wednesday, after that rumor started, and she’d grabbed three pregnancy tests. All three were negative— one fucking line. But she didn’t send the photos to anyone, because no one fucking cared, and no one would fucking listen.
So instead, she just fucking cried.
Her stomach hurt all week. When she walked through the halls, she could feel their eyes on her, judging her. They were laughing, either aloud or internally, all wishing her fucking pain and suffering.
And she cried every lunch break. She camped out in the bathroom and fucking drained her guts into the toilet until all that she could do was dry heave.
She hated herself. She fucking hated herself.
And so did everyone around her.
Hunter said he didn’t. He tried to comfort her, did all the shit that she didn’t deserve.
But she knew that that wouldn’t last long. She was one step away from fucking that up, too. It was all a part of this big fucking cycle, this cycle that she couldn't escape, whether she wanted to or not.
So why was she going to this damn lock-in? Like, why would she put herself through that?
Fuck if she knew.
But she was dressed, and her hair was brushed to be straight. She pulled on a striped shirt and some leggings.
And she was fucking telling herself that she wasn’t going to cry tonight, even though she knew that it wouldn’t help.
And then, she was out the door and to her car, and then to the lock-in.
And she texted Hunter that she was there, and she set her face, and she started to walk in.
Even though she couldn’t breathe.
Even though she felt like she was going to puke at any second.
Even though she knew she was one step away from breaking down and sobbing.
Their eyes were on her as she walked in. Was this what she wanted when she did that shit?
Soak it up, attention whore.
She was a fucking embarrassment. She was fucking disgusting.
She bit into her lower lip, scanning the halls for her boyfriend.
Where was he?
Her ears rang. Her chest felt tight.
Shit, shit, shit.
Where the fuck was he?
She blinked hard, trying not to panic.
She dropped herself onto a bench, clutching a hand to her chest and squeezing her eyes shut, dropping her bag down by her feet.
Don’t you dare fucking cry.
“Hey,” came a voice from beside her.
She blinked, looking over towards where the voice had come from, fully expecting to see a conversation that she could listen in on initiating.
Instead, she saw a hot, curly-haired brunette boy, leaning up against the wall, his hands in his pocket and his eyes focused on hers.
“Slater,” said the boy, holding his hand out. “And you are…?”
Slater…? Was that a name?
His demeanor was confident, and something about him was cool.
She felt a thud in her chest.
Hot guy, hot guy, hot guy.
She noticed that her brows were knit and that she was probably studying him too intensely, so she put on a slight smile.
“Uhm…hi,” she said, as brightly as she could. She tried to ignore the suffocating pain in her chest. She glanced at his hand, and then back at his face.
Did he…uh, what was he doing?
Slowly, because she didn’t know if it was what he wanted to do, she reached her hand out to shake his. “I’m…uhm, Nickie?” She tried to broaden her smile, but it shook off of her face.
She braced herself for impact, squeezing her eyes shut for a quick moment as she dropped her hand.
He was going to recognize her name and be like “oh, that pregnant bitch?”, and then he’d laugh, tell her he had a hanger, and walk away.
She might as well tell him herself. It was better to break the news than have him realize it himself.
Hi, you’re talking to a social outcast. Back away. You'll get fucking infected.
Or hurry up and mock me.
Get it over with, please.
You're wasting your time.
“Abrams,” she clarified, looking into his eyes again. “That…that girl, if that’s what you’re wondering.” Her voice quivered. “The…the one that…” She drew in a shaky breath, and she gave him her best smile. “The one that everyone is saying is a pregnant, bitchy whore." She gave a laugh. "Don't worry, I'm only the last part. I'm not pregnant.
Her forced smile faltered for a second. She squeezed her eyes shut.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
She drew in another deep, painting on her weak smile again, and she looked at Slater once more. “It’s…it’s nice to meet you, Slater.”
Naomi was walking a fine line, and every passing day, every flirtatious conversation she knew it was getting harder to walk upright without falling off the tightrope. She was never an acrobatic, had never planned to be, yet here she was. She knew she was starting to lean into an area she didn't want to be in. She didn't want a relationship, she didn't want to care about this girl past a flirtatious friendship, and most importantly she didn't want to lead her on and hurt her. However all of that is exactly how she felt right now.
She knew she couldn't keep this up forever. Alex was the type of girl who wanted more, and while Naomi adored her for it...that simply wasn't something she could give her. Not now, and possibly not ever. She couldn't promise her anything, especially that she'd somehow change her whole viewpoint on love or romance. Had it crossed her mind? Sure, but outside of being actively with Alex, or talking to her it didn't linger. It always faded back to who Naomi always was. Who she was afraid she'd always be.
Times like these she wished she had more friends or female friends she could really talk to about this stuff because she didn't know what to do. She didn't know how to sustain a friendship with Alex without hurting her, but she also didn't want to let her go. She didn't want to lose something that for the first time in forever made her feel something even if she didn't understand it.
Fuck feelings man.
Naomi threw on a casual outfit wondering if it was even worth going to this lock-in thing. She had a bad feeling that nothing good could come from it. There was always drama at this school, so any time you tossed a bunch of the student body together with little to no supervision it was going to be a riot and lives would be ruined. Normally she didn't care, but now she actually felt a part of something. Ugh she really didn't want tonight to go how she knew it was.
Maybe she could get away with this just a little longer. Maybe till thanksgiving break? Maybe a week away would cool whatever this was and they'd come back and it'd be nothing? Or better yet Winter break a whole two weeks! Wishful thinking? For sure. But a girl could hope.
She rolled herself a blunt and once again got her cousin to take her to the school because let's be honest Tony never says no just just about anyone, but especially not his favorite cousin. She tried to convince him to stay so she'd have someone to smoke with that she knew who would be drama free, but for once he actually was doing work for his arts festival presentation. What a bore.
She supposed she could find just about anyone from the Lit. Department...other then Chas. Fuck him. Her rage from before was quelled, but she still didn't like him. Maybe Trevor or Nate? That should be drama free right? Wait Nate had a girlfriend how right? Hell she could join to, in fact that'd be a must. She wasn't trying to relive the back to school party night again.
She stepped out of the car and went ahead and lit up before walking in with it still between her lips. Why stand outside if there were no teachers to say anything to her?
Mike threw his t-shirt back over his head and slipped his arms into the holes. “Nothing like starting the night off right, huh, babe?” he teased lightly, rubbing a spot where he was sure there was a hickey. He ran a hand through his damp hair, grinning broadly as he turned to face the girl.
He studied her move with a soft chuckle, watching her movements with a look of what would have seemed like admiration had it not been coming from Michael Reid.
Even so...damn, she was hot.
He walked closer to her after a moment, giving her a small smirk. “Don’t think I’m of any more use here, Genevieve,” he said, his eyes flicking over her body one last time before he met her eyes. “So I’ll see myself out the same way I saw myself in, huh?” He tapped his chin and looked up and around as if he were trying to think of something. “And…hm…what comes next…oh!” He held up the finger he had tapped his chin in an "aha!"-type motion, and then he dropped it to grin broadly at Gen. “Catch you around, see you later, something along those lines? Yeah,” he chuckled. “I’m getting better at my sendoffs, aren’t I? I think that I deserve a gold star or a smiley face sticker. A bright red A+ or something along those lines. Send a report card home to my parents, tell ‘em what a good pupil I’ve been. Give me a little trophy, some kind of plaque? I think I’ve earned it,” he kidded lightly. With a soft chuckle, he added, “Or, ya know, at least another 5 star review on Moan!, huh?”
He turned toward the door, unlocking it, and then he glanced back at Gen, giving her a two-finger salute and flicking his wrist as a wave goodbye. He winked and clicked his tongue. “See ya,” he said, and he pulled the door open and headed out into the hallway.
Yeah, Michael Reid had just hooked up with Genevieve Johannes, yet again. C'mon, bring the camera crew around. Tell all of your friends and family.
Was he ashamed that he had fucked her again? He couldn’t say that he was this time, in the slightest.
She was good, okay? Besides, they’d patched over their problems back in the gym. He’d rather fucking forget their first time, so why shouldn’t he just act like that time never happened?
Alright, maybe act like that time never happened wasn't the right phrase there.
Listen, it was like this: he wouldn't deny that he'd fucked her. That wasn't his game, or his style. He complained about fucking her the first time because…what, she would fuck anything that moved? Yeah, sounded about right, but it wasn’t like he could magically regain his standards after that first time— or after that second time. He preached “owning his shit”, and he was going to own that shit. Michael Reid was aware that he could be described as an array of “terrible” things, but hypocrite wasn’t one of them. So, yeah, he fucked Gen, and, yeah, he enjoyed it, and, yeah, he had no standards now.
("But Mike, you didn't have any to start with"— wow! He had never heard that before! That was so revolutionary! No, really, he was laughing his ass off! You're so funny! You should be a comedian! Hey, go ahead, come try that material to his face— he had a gift for you: plastic surgery— without the plastic! Yeah, completely free! It was all on him, courtesy of "What You Got Coming To You, Asshole". Enjoy!)
Look, at this point, he was saying fuck it. She was a good time. A bitch, yeah, but, admittedly, he liked that bite. It was the main reason that he was her friend in the first place— and also the main reason why he was allowing and benefits to be tacked onto that title.
Sure, things were a bit different between them now. Conversations got a bit more heated and tense, though not necessarily in the angry way. But it was nothing that he couldn’t deal with. A little spice never hurt anyone, even when that person happened to be one that worked in close proximity to you. Professionalism could be maintained regardless or the underlying tones of everything, as could friendship. Ya know, “defy stereotypes” and that shit. “Go against the cliche” and that type shit.
Blah, blah, blah.
Whatever it took to justify to everyone else that he was fucking Genevieve Johannes.
At this point, he literally didn’t fucking care.
Ooh, yeah! Hot tea! He was fucking Gen! Oooooh, big shocker! Big fucking whoop! Who could have ever seen this coming?!
There? Was it all out of your system? Fucking wonderful.
Now get off his ass and let him get off.
He was just going to act like what he hadn't said what he did about Halloween and suddenly— "oh, look. Gen and Mike are hooking up. Huh. Well, they’re hot. I bet their sex is great" and we could leave it at that.
When he stepped into the hall, he didn’t have to push past any random people to get to where he was going. The lock-in wasn’t bustling yet. Of course, you couldn’t really expect it to be up and going by this time. One-by-one (and, on occasion, two-by-two or even three-by-three), students trickled into the mouth of the school’s front door. In a few hours, the place would be jam-packed, but, right now, it was at a comfortable capacity, and Mike found that he had an easy time maneuvering through the halls.
Finally, he found where he was looking for, and he dropped himself onto the bench that he had left his backpack beneath that was placed just beside the lockers.
“Nice to see you again,” he greeted his bag. The tattered thing wasn’t exactly a pleasant sight to see, but it had his canteen and several Pop-Tarts. What more could a guy ask for after a solid hookup? It would really help him replenish.
Grabbing the galaxy-printed canteen from the outer right pocket of his backpack and untwisting its cap, Mike tapped his foot on the ground. He took a large gulp of the pleasantly ice-cold water, letting out a soft “ah!” of satisfaction once he swallowed, and he leaned his head against the side of the locker next to him.
This week had been a pretty damn good week, and this lock-in was going to go pleasantly, too. All it took was for him to follow a simple plan:
1. Hook up with someone. (Check— and it was Gen, so add a little “fuck yeah but also lowkey fuck no” above that check for him, would you?)
2. Don’t punch anyone.
3. Don’t fall sleep.
See? Three easy steps, and two of them were just things to avoid. Really, he wasn’t that hard to please.
This week’s pleasantness allowed him to be so easygoing and relaxed now.
The week had started off with a bang, quite literally, and he had gotten some work done on that project. That day had ended with him and Woods going out to the beach and getting drunk, as promised, but he'd been not-hungover enough to go to school the next day.
Oh, and, to top that stuff off, he also got a great fucking offer on Sunday, too, from Kirby of all people, asking him to…get an apartment with him? Look, it sounded fishy as hell, but Mike wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Besides, it wasn’t like this could be any worse than the hellhole that Mike was currently living in. He’d talked to the landlord on the phone, sorted some of his finances, and begun packing already. He’d move at the end of the month, and…well, that would be that. He could wash his hands of it all.
He could just suddenly bid adieu to that hole in the wall. It seemed abrupt, and he honestly thought that he’d feel worse about leaving behind a place that he had such memories with, but then he remembered that most of his memories were composed of steel shower-heads slamming into his scalp and getting yelled at by his Cheeto-fingered landlord, and— suddenly— he was jumping the gun to move out that very day.
Plus, he could do it guilt-free. He was splitting the rent— which was shockingly (and suspiciously) affordable— and would do his part to stay there. If Kirby tried to overstep in any way, Mike would box his jaw. Problem solved.
Beyond that, his solo project for the Arts Fest— his photo book— was all set up and basically ready to go. He just had to compile some more outfits and do the actual shoot, but he’d made some headway and had the layout and formatting all done. That might not have sounded impressive, but, for Mike, it definitely was. It wasn’t any of that shitty, “grAphiC deZigN iz Mi paszun!!!!111!!!!!1!!! (:” shit. No, he’d slaved over it to make sure that every intricate detail was right in place, by the pixel, and it looked fucking amazing, if he had to say so himself.
To top it all off, he’d aced his AP Chemistry exam, and the babe of a teacher even gave him a cute little “congratulations!” sticker at the top of it. Cheesy as hell, but she was fucking hot, so he took it as not-demeaning.
So, yeah, it was an amazing fucking week.
Not to mention, the whole "breaking into the school" thing? Yeah, Karma's Touch'd handled that, and it had been the damn smoothest "grab and go" operation in the history of mankind. The stealing thing was Gen and Evie's suggestion, sure, but they had concocted and executed their own plan themselves, and fucking flawlessly, too.
Mike's role was talking up the secretary, of course. No sweat, ya know. The woman would be a total MILF if she was ten (twenty?) years younger, so it was pretty easy work. All it took was his grin, a few glances to make sure that Woods was doing his job right (Woods was the snatcher, if ya hadn't picked that up), and they were in and out with the school keys in hand.
They made the best damn team, seriously.
(It looked like Karma's Touch now did undercover operations. You could check out their rates on their site, once you clicked out of all of the porn ads.)
Tonight? Well, tonight would really just cap the whole week off.
In a word, things around the Preston-Harlow condo were tense.
Or maybe that was just Corey overthinking things like he usually did.
Their friend date (emphasis on friend) at the pier was amazing. Between Maddie literally living up to her desire of wanting to ride every single ride the pier had, to eating round after round after round of cotton candy and snow-cones, it was heaven. No, better than heaven because Corey was certain heaven didn’t have an amazing firework display around 8 pm. And what a marvelous sight that was. It was the best day ever, which just made it perfect because Corey was wearing his Spongebob Squarepants shirt.
But then the next day came and it was back to the daily grind of school.
And then the week went on.
Come Wednesday when the aforementioned tense air around the condo originated from. Corey, thinking it wasn’t a bad idea to play truth or dare on Twitter with a few familiar faces — faces he didn’t exactly mind playing with. It started off fun because he wasn’t directly involved. He was just watching and reading the fun go on, but then he became involved. And that’s when the awkward feelings increased.
Dalton Kirby was dared to flirt with Corey.
Now, Corey wasn’t against this. He had nothing against being flirted with. He didn’t swing that way, but he would have been flattered had it not been a dare. Or had the others not egged him on, treating it (AKA Corey) as a joke. And had Dolly not been so into it, making comments that made Corey unusually uncomfortable, then maybe he wouldn’t have gotten so upset when he was asked about his feelings for Maddie.
What was he supposed to say? The truth? Hah! That’s a good one.
Okay, maybe he would have saved himself some grief by letting it go after saying no, he didn’t love his best friend. It wouldn’t have been the truth like he asked for in the first place, but at least things wouldn’t have de-escalated like they did.
And several minutes later, he kept bringing it up again and again and again.
And when it was finally dropped, when the topic moved on in Twitter, Corey came to the conclusion that he self-sabotaged himself in the worst way. Because he didn’t let it go, because he couldn’t (for reasons that still boggle him), Corey was left with the aftermath. Because now he had to deal with the repercussions away from Twitter and with the only person in the world whose opinion of him matters more than his family’s.
So yeah, things have been tense, awkward — whatever adjective you want to use, Corey hasn’t felt more unlike himself around the person he’s always been able to talk freely with since, well before the date when Adri was at their place.
Even as they drove (he drove just to keep his mind occupied with the road), there was minimal conversation between them. Or at least if there was, it was dropped after a few exchanges. Corey couldn’t bring himself to ask her about that day. Bringing it up would only worsen the tight feeling in his gut he always got when he knew things were getting bad again.
He didn’t want that.
Corey just wanted to go back to the way things were. He wanted to be able to tell Maddie how he was feeling. Obviously not all, but about if he was angry or feeling melancholy because she knew how to make him feel better even if it was just a smile. Or words of encouragement and support.
“We’re here,” Corey said, feeling the need to state the obvious as he pulled into the Hollywood Arts parking lot. He picked a spot close to the school.
He sat there in silence for a few moments and looked at Maddie. His mouth half-opened as if he was going to say something but all he caught was a cough.
To be perfectly honest, Ash had kept busy enough the last week that she hadn't had a chance for things to go like... bad bad. Mostly. She'd attempted to apologize to Callum over text on Wednesday, which had just ended poorly with him not accepting the apology and like... part of her just wanted to slam her head into a wall repeatedly or something. She felt like an idiot -- she was an idiot -- and sll she could feel broiling in the pit of her stomach was a deep regret for, like...
Everything? Yeah, everything.
Well, most everything.
Cal had every right to be mad at her, of course. She'd be pissed if she was in his shoes, too, and she'd spent a good portion of her free time trying to think of how to like... fix things so he didn't hate her. Like, he had every reason to hate her -- of course she knew that -- and she wasn't mad at him. Obviously. Why would she be mad at someone else for her mistakes? It was just... that... well... she wished that he would forgive her. Not even forgive her, but acknowledge... that she was... trying... or something?
Her head hurt trying to piece it together, and she wished that she could go back in time and right her mistakes.
She tried to push those kinds of thoughts out of her head, though. Tonight was going to be good. She was going to have fun. She was going to, like, hang with Trevor or... well, probably her friends and not Trevor, because they didn't... hang out. They were like... they ran in different social circles, with basically no mutual friends, and she'd just have to act like he was a nobody to her. Easy enough to do -- it's pretty much what she found herself doing every day at school.
It still sucked.
Plus it was hard to find time to, like, hangout with the whole secret thing. For the most part, she'd been spending the last week with Lucky after school to start practicing for the Arts Festival -- ya know, for their little duet that had to be absolutely perfect and that they had about... what... a month to get it perfected? Yeah, to say that Ash was feeling the pressure was a massive understatement. She was... more stressed than she had been in months.
Which was why tonight... Ash was determined to actually have a decent night.
So far, she'd kind of flitted about, talking to friends here and there until someone caught her attention.
With the school year having started back up, Ash hadn't really had a chance to hangout with... well... most of her friends, especially when her time was so divided between schoolwork, practicing for the Arts Festival, and now secret "dates" with Trevor.
Like, she literally hadn't even had a chance to tease Hunter in literally forever. And, like, yeah, she'd teased him a little over text about the whole getting tied down with Nickie Abrams (which Ash wasn't the biggest fan of because, well... Nickie was... kind of a bitch, but she'd keep her lips sealed and be supportive to Hunter -- and hope that he came to his senses sooner rather than later), which was clearly something that she needed to do.
"Hey," Ash said as she walked up to him, a smile growing on her face as she looked up at Hunter. "So... I'm surprised you're not, like, with your girlfriend." She laughed, the grin still plastered on her face. If she just said girlfriend, she could almost pretend it wasn't Nickie and it was someone better that, like, actually deserved Hunter.
"I can't believe you're dating. Wasn't it, like, last month that you still thought girls had cooties?"
If there was one thing that Lindsay Kay was known for, it was not giving a fuck what anyone said or did.
Criticism? You were tryna cramp his style, and you could miss him with that bullshit.
You wanted to laugh and gawk at him? Luhmao, you could be his guest— he liked it actually.
You wanted to try and get under his skin? There was no way, really, luhmao. Like, yeah, he seemed to get mad a lot over small shit— namely “losing” bets (that he didn’t lose because he never lost, bee-tee-dubs)— but when that moment was over, there were no hard feelings and no grudges held.
Lin was over that dumb petty shit. He wasn’t a kid anymore. He was just gonna be himself, and everything that happened around him would roll off of him like water off of a duck’s back. Lindsay Kay was unabashedly Lindsay Kay, luhmao, and if you didn’t like it, sucked for you.
But all of this carefreeness came to a halt when shit had to do with his jackass of a father. That motherfucker could shove it.
Lin ignored it all week as best as he could because, duh, dogs had the right idea: if he didn’t see it, then it didn’t exist, luhmao.
And so, Lin was Lin all week.
He didn’t say a word about what happened to Zeph after it happened. They hung out throughout the week, at lunch and stuff. They talked a lot, laughed a lot. And Lin just pretended like the dad thing never happened— though he didn’t act like everything around it didn’t.
Lin had maintained his ability to ignore what he didn’t want to think about while he was with Charlie. He hadn’t said a word about what happened with his dad to his girlfriend, and he didn’t plan to. Besides, a lot of shit had happened with her roommates, and he was trying to support her through that, luhmao. His own issues would just make everything worse for her, and he didn’t want that to happen.
Even when he talked to his mom, they avoided the stuff with his dad. They talked about the Arts Fest, or about her boyfriend, or about the next time that he was coming to visit, and that was all.
So, all week, Lin had done his normal stuff during the day. Ya know, hung with Charlie, hung with Zeph, did dumb shit--
Oh, yeah, and he took that new bougie ass bike, eh?
Duct-taped it to some old lady’s roof, luhmaooooo.
If it helped, she’d notice the tire tracks all over her yard first— oh, and then she’d check out the tulips that had been uprooted.
What could he say? She shouldn’ta been out on a Tuesday afternoon while Lin was looking for trouble, luhmao. Sounded like a personal problem to him.
Then he would get home, and it would be dead silent. His dog would come to greet him, but there would be no one else around.
And no one asked what was wrong because he didn’t tell fucking anyone that anything was wrong, because no one fucking knew.
And he would sink back against his door, and all that he could do was rant to his dog for hours and try to convince himself that it didn’t affect him at all.
And he would do everything he could to get this shit out of his head.
Wednesday, he called Zeph, but it was three in the fucking morning, so of course he didn’t answer, no matter how much Lin begged and threatened the receiver. Zeph was the only one who Lin knew that he could call because Charlie didn't fucking know, because Ash didn't know, because his mom had to be up early in the morning, because he wasn't going to talk to Ricky's little asskisser, Angel.
But Lin couldn’t sit still. His dog was asleep, and, even with the television droning in the background, it was too quiet.
And he could feel his chest tightening, his breathing growing ragged.
And he just fucking couldn't deal with that.
So Lin left his condo— jumped over the fence, just fucking left— and ran.
He wanted to become not-Lin, just for a little bit. Just someone nameless and fully meaningless— the person who he would be without his bastard dad and the person who his bastard dad wished he was.
He wanted to say "fuck it, I don't care", in another way than he usually did.
"Fuck it, I don't care whether they know my name or not."
"Fuck it, I don't care if I know my name or not."
He ran by familiar places and unfamiliar places, ran down streets that he knew by hand and streets that he'd never seen in his life. He stopped by a convenience store where no one knew his face or his name, because it was just fucking easier that way. He bought himself a ton of shit that he couldn’t even fucking eat. He eyed the beer, but he didn't want to have to pull out his fake ID. If they recognized him, then there would be no point in him even fucking coming here.
And then he left, and he took one bite of his candy and felt like he was going to vomit, so he threw it all in the trash can, all of that good candy that he would usually foam at the mouth over. He pressed his head against a wall and let everything out in a heave. His body convulsed, the pain in his muscles shaking Lin to his core as he gasped in a breath and wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve. He stumbled a few steps away from where he had emptied his guts, lowered his arms.
And he stood, on the corner of the street, wondering what would happen if he stopped here and didn't go anywhere else, if he just sat and became Not-Lin for a day or two, or a year, or if he never became Lin again.
Who'd be the first to ask about him? How long would it even take?
And then he concluded that he didn't want to know— that he didn't even want to fucking think about it. Whether it would be Charlie, or Ash, or Zeph, or Angel, or someone else from his past, or some teacher, or some manager, or his mom, or his dad, or if none of them would know or care.
So he started to run again.
And his eyes and limbs and lungs burned, but he didn’t care, because if the pain would help him forget all of the bullshit in his life— all of it— he'd endure it. Tears stirred latently in his eyes, and he didn't try to blink them away— he just let them make their home.
So he ran, and he ran until his phone buzzed with his alarm that told him it was time for school, and then he called up an Uber to take him to Hollywood Arts— that place that he had to rely on that fucking bastard to pay for because he was too helpless to do it himself— and he went to school like nothing had happened, like he’d gotten some sleep, like it was just a normal night, like he was just totally fine.
And everyone bought it.
Guess that was just a testament to his acting abilities, luhmao.
Whatever. That was that night, and no one knew about it except him. No one needed to know about it except him, either, so he was just fine keeping it quiet.
His little secret, luhmao.
Tonight was the lock-in, and Lin was, once again, repressing everything with his dad.
A grin on his face and a wild, excited look in his eyes, Lin had told himself that tonight was gonna be an amazing fucking night— ‘cuz duh! It was the lock-in!
And, with Lindsay Kay, every event was a fucking par-tay.
“Let’s get hype!” Lin whooped, pedaling his flame-painted bike’s pedals as hard as he could, chest pressed to he handlebars. Behind him flew a yellow letterman jacket, tired around his neck, like a cape. His loud, happy laughter echoed off of the shiny vehicles as he drove several laps on the pavement, popping wheelies and doing little spins and bounces as he went. A few deflated balloons drug behind his bike like cans off of the back of a newlywed couple’s vehicle. “Let’s get fuckin’ hype!”
After a few more laps around the parking lot, the surprisingly-only-slightly-winded boy hopped off of his bike and chained it to the bike rack, making sure that his lock was on tight. There would be no Dick snatching tonight, luhmao.
Adjusting the knot of his letterman's arms and giving his butt a few shakes, Lin fell into a confident swagger, a wide grin on his face. He threw open the front doors of the school and called loudly, "Lindsay Kay is in the motherfreakingmotherfudgingmotherfrickin' household, luhmao!"
Yeah, he'd had a few more Mountain Dews before he'd come here tonight.
And a couple boxes of Fruit Rollups™.
Shrug. He had been hungry, luhmao. Fuck nutritional value.
"Yoooo," he said to a girl as he passed, shooting her finger guns and cackling to himself. "Wazzuuuuuup, luhmao?"
He stopped walking, and he looked at those around him with a grin on his face. He turned in a circle and did his best Michael Jackson pelvic thrust, and then he moonwalked until his back hit against the glass of a trophy case.
Snickering to himself, Lin pulled out his cellphone and, ya know, did what he always did— whip out his Twitter. You know how it went, luhmao— you couldn't start out a good night without reading the timelines.
Ehhhh, there was nothing really interesting. A couple of cooking videos, a gif of some guy dressed up like a cat hanging over a fire. Nothing much.
With a “siiiiiiigh”, Lin pocketed his phone, crossing his arms, and he pushed off of the wall.
He grinned to himself.
If nothing interesting was happening online, he might as well just go exploring.
Uncrossing his arms and setting his brows, Lin broke out into a run, rushing past all of the students lining the hallway, laughing happily to himself.
He skidded to a stop at the sound of his ringtone, his hand going to grab his phone.
His heart dropped as he read the name on the screen: pricky.
Feeling anger and panic rise in his throat, Lin stepped into an empty classroom, pulling hard on the door. He didn’t know if it shut or locked or not— that was the last thing on his mind.
Shakily, he tapped the green button and, closing his eyes, he tried not to let his feelings come through in his voice as he answered: “Dad?”
“Hello, Lindsay,” came his dad’s melodic, baritone voice.
“Do you, uh, need something?” Lin asked. His grip on his phone tightened, and his foot began to bounce. "Uh...this call is kinda random."
“Oh, yes,” Ricky said in his warm way. “Rather, I believe that you needed something— you texted Sunday.”
Glad you’re finally taking time out of your so-packed schedule to bless your son with your fucking voice, luhmao.
“Yeah, I, uh…” Lin shook his head, drawing in an unsteady breath, trying to maintain the strength in his voice. “Well, I heard about my sibling is all…in the, uh…in the magazine.”
“Your…sib…ling…?” Ricky repeated confusedly. “I’m no— oh! Ohhh, oh, that!” He laughed. “Ah, right. So you heard?”
Yeah, from a fucking magazine.
Lin forced a soft chuckle. “Yeah, I heard.” His voice came out dryer than he intended, and he swallowed hard and cleared his throat again. “Con…congratulations.”
“Oh, thank you.” He could hear his dad’s broad smile over the phone. “Isa was starting to show pretty noticeably, so we thought that it was better to go ahead and announce it.”
Unsaid, there was, “So I told everyone else in the world before I told my own son. Just so I could show him just how worthless and meaningless he is to me.”
“Uh…that’s great,” Lin chuckled. “I’m happy for you guys, luh...” He stopped himself short of using his favorite interjection, and he cleared his throat. “When’s the baby due?”
“Hm? Oh, February,” answered Ricky in his casual, warm tone, his rumbly baritone voice pleasant in an ear- and chest-grating way. “Five months. We’re pouring through baby names and working on a nursery right now.” He chuckled softly, and then he lowered his voice as he said the next couple of sentences, as if he were divulging a secret. "I suppose that I can tell you her name, as long as you promise to keep quiet. We've chosen Lacey. Lacy May Westborne. Isn't that just the cutest name?"
Lin could picture the fucking twinkle in his eye when his dad said her name.
That name was something they spent probably fucking months on. It was the source of several petty fights over romantic, candlelit dinners that were resolved by them fucking on the balcony or some dumb shit like that.
Psht. Yeah. Ricky had a lot of fucking pride in his voice for the fucking sperm that should have been swallowed.
For the kid he actually fucking cared about— the kid he actually fucking wanted.
“Yeah," Lin said, barking a laugh. "The cutest. I…you guys are really preparing for it. For that.” He cleared his throat. “For…her, I...mean." He blinked hard, running a hand through his hair. “Can I…I mean, do you guys need help with anything?”
“Oh, no, nothing that you can help us with, Lindsay.” Ricky gave a soft chuckle.
Lin forced a chuckle. “Can—“
“Oh, by the way,” his father interrupted, “I got a call from your manager.”
Lin laughed softly at being interrupted. He was used to it with his dad, but it still sent a thud of hurt in his chest. “You…did?”
“Oh, yeah, uh-huh.” There was a crisp crunch! from the other side of the phone as his father bit into something. “Something about the…Arts Fest?” He was speaking with his mouth full, and Lin heard him swallow now. “He says that you’re, uhh...“ He took another crunch! of whatever he was eating, fully chewing it, and swallowing it. “You’re doing some kind of…” Crunch! Chew, chew, chew…swallow. “Some kind of solo or something?”
Lin kicked weakly at a leg of one of the tables near himself.
That was all that his dad was going to say about the pregnancy. Forgetting to tell his worthless son about the birth of a kid that he actually wanted wasn't even a note in Ricky's margins. He didn't even fucking care that he forgot— he didn't even fucking realize that he forgot.
Frederic Westborne, the heartthrob player who had finally tied the knot and was building a family with "the love of his life", didn't fucking care about Lindsay Kay, the fucking bastard child of a past whore girlfriend of his, in the slightest.
“Yeah,” Lin muttered.
"Mhm. Have you been working on your performance?" Ricky asked.
"Some," Lin said.
"Some," Ricky repeated. He paused, letting the word settle, and then he chuckled. "I saw that you've been partying and going out a lot, so that some can't be that much." He gave another pause, and then he chuckled softly. "You do realize that this is your junior year, Lindsay, correct? Well, it might not mean much to you right now, but I need you to understand that you’ve only got one more year until you graduate. It's time to get crunching. That’s one more year to make something of yourself and to make me proud. One year, Lindsay.”
“Yeah,” Lin mumbled.
“Right now, all you’re doing is giving the tweens hots for you, Lindsay," Ricky chuckled, continuing in his warm way. "You’re selling posters with your face on it that they kiss goodnight to, and you’re posting things on your social media that will get the little girls sharing it on all of their feeds with heart-emojis for captions. You’re sitting pretty with your guitar and ‘boy next door’ look, not having to put any real effort in. You know that they don’t care about your music, and they don’t pay any attention to your songs.”
“Give it a year or two on that route that you’re headed on, Lindsay. Heh, they’ll phase out, son, and another Lindsay Kay will come and take there place. There will always be someone who’s better at singing, someone with more talent, someone with more umpf, and someone who causes less trouble if you don't try any harder than you are right now. People grow up, Lindsay,” said Ricky. “Once that happens…tu es foutu, non?” Crunch!. Chew, chew, chew. Swallow.
“Yeah,” Lin said.
He barely knew shit about French, so he had no idea what his dad's words meant, but he knew that they were bullshit, since that was really the only language that Pricky was fluent in.
...luhmao or whatever.
But it still made Lin grimace.
It still fucking hurt.
Ricky took another bite of whatever he was eating. ”You have a girlfriend, right…?” he asked, mouth full, and then he swallowed. “Uh...what's the name, what's the name…? Lydi—“
"No," Lin interrupted.
He could hear his heart beat in his ears.
He shook his head, swallowing hard. "No, it’s not her. It's Charlie. Charlie Howell."
“Oh, no, that's not the one I was thinking of,” Ricky dismissed. “I believe the girl was...Lydie."
Lin flinched. “No.”
“Hm, not that?” Ricky asked. “I could have sworn— ah, Lydia. That is it.”
“No, it’s not,” Lin said.
Shut the hell up.
“No, I know,” Ricky insisted. “Lydia. Lyidaaa...F...F...hm, last name started with an F." He snapped his fingers, and then gasped softly. "Oh, Fox. Fox, Fox, that is it. Lydia Fox. That's the one."
"That's a different person, Dad,” Lin said firmly. “Charlie is my girlfriend, Dad."
And Lydia isn't shit to me.
"Oh, something happened there, then," Ricky said, as if he knew anything. "You two were pretty serious, yes. Hanging on each other all of the time, too...what was it that happened with the Fox one, Lindsay? I liked her."
"Nothing," Lin said, chest tight. "Nothing...happened with Lydia."
Move on from this just as quick as you did from what was actually important or shut the hell up, Pricky.
"Shame. I liked her.” There was a pause, and then a crunch! and a soft sigh from Ricky. The man swallowed and spoke. “Mmhm...well...my point is you're out finding what you think is love, and you're doing all of these things, going to all of these parties, crossdressing and being popular with your little friends...but you told me that you’d find success. You’ve been at that school since freshman year, on my money, Lindsay. You’re supposed to be trying. I’m spending all of this money to send you and Angel to that school, and only one of you is making use of your assets while the other is— haha— sitting on his asset.” Laughter bubbled from Ricky at his own pun, and Lin flinched. “I’ll give you one guess as to who which is.”
“I…I know, Dad,” Lin mumbled.
“Do you know?” Ricky asked. “Which are you, then?”
“The…” Lin tensed his body up. “The one who’s wasting your money,” Lin answered in a small voice. “And my time. And my talent.”
“Oh, now that you mention them, especially the latter two,” Ricky laughed, "though, I haven’t seen your talent since you convinced me to let you go to that school. I’m not sure that you even have it anymore. All I’ve seen is that you have a pretty face, but that doesn't require talent. In fact, it's a gift from myself.”
You look like a fucking rat. Wouldn’t call that a gift, luhmao.
“Yeah,” said Lin dully.
Ricky chuckled. "You have the presence, and that's mostly it right now...but that’s not what you’re banking on, is it?”
Lin swallowed hard. “No…?”
“What are you banking on, then?” Ricky asked warmly. “Are you banking on our audience— your tween followers— receiving you well? Are you relying on your average song sounding average enough to appeal to the average person?” He took another crunch!. "Neither of those are worth relying on. You're not trying hard enough. You could do so much more, Lindsay, and instead, you just prove to disappoint yourself, myself, and your peers."
That fucking stung. It was a slap across Lin's face.
“I…I sing…and…I mean, I…" Lin swallowed hard. "That song…I-I worked hard on it, Dad.”
“Oh? You did?” Something shifted in his father’s voice, and the warmth fizzled away momentarily. “Work harder, then.”
“Yes…yeah, I got it,” Lin muttered.
His entire body was shaking. From what, Lin couldn’t exactly fucking say.
Maybe it was from the fact that his dad…
His dad always had a way of making him feel so utterly fucking worthless.
There was a stillness, and then Ricky took another crunch! from what he was eating. He swallowed and sighed soft. “Damn, that’s done,” he muttered, and then he chuckled and spoke warmly to Lin. “Is that everything?”
“Yeah,” Lin responded dully. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Well, if that’s all, then I’ll say goodbye,” Ricky said. “Goodbye.”
Lin barked a laugh. “Yeah…bye,” he muttered, but as he said his words, he heard two beeps that said that his father had hung up.
Hung up, without even waiting to hear a simple "bye".
Lin lowered his phone slowly, staring blankly at the clean whiteboard on the wall in front of him.
His lips curled into a sneer as the anger washed over him, and he slammed his fist into the area just below the board, hardly even letting out a grunt as he put a hole into the wall.
@He.went.2.Jared has set their status to: So this is a Lock-in?
@He.went.2.Jared has set their outfit to: Casual
@He.went.2.Jared has set their location to: School
@He.went.2.Jared has mentioned: Gen, Adri, Simone
@He.went.2.Jared has interacted with: Ken (jasmichelle
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He had a girlfriend...Jared Darrington had a girlfriend. That didn't even sound right. The idea of him being in any sort of committed relationship was laughable and he was fully prepared to deal with his uh "friends" having something to say about it. Not just because it was him of all people, but even more so because of who it was with. There was nothing wrong with Kennedy Parker by far as a person, just as the girl to lock him down? Not expected.
Of course that was the point. While he was prepared to deal with them, he honestly still didn't want to and was willing to put that off as long as possible. Honestly he knew the expectation of most of his peers was someone like Gen, Simone, even Adriane maybe. Just someone who he actually associated with on a more. Sure they'd spent time building their relationship up by hanging out every now and then in public, but he never considered Kenny a friend. Even in the fake sense.
He preferred people who shared his drive, and his power. Sure Kenny seemed ambitious enough after all she was here in the school, but power wasn't something that emanated from her when she walked into a room. She didn't demand and command a room, she was soft, and people noticed cause she was cute and probably had cookies in her hand for you. Which was fine or whatever since it still got looks, just not the kind he was used to.
Hardest part about being in a relationship? Turning his flirtatious charm way down when around other females. Sure there would be girls who would flirt with him regardless because that's how people are, but when you date a "sweetheart" type people tend to be stupidly over protective like she was a literal cinnamon roll he'd chew up and spit out. They weren't wrong, but it was a hassle to try and NOT be that guy. This past week had shown him how challenging that was because he was in a department surrounded by stunning women who up until Saturday where mostly all his for the taking if he wanted.
Making things public and TMZ even leaking it helped a smidge. Everything was going according to plan and normally that'd make him happy. The adjustment into fake boyfriend mode was the only thing ruining his mood. He didn't really know how to be a real boyfriend let alone a fake one. Was he supposed to spend most of his day with her? They were in different departments and grades. He tried when it was convenient, but having to go out of his way, to go out of his own way, to try and cross paths with her was tiresome.
Truly everything that was hard about this was the customs of dating in general because he actually had no complaints so far with her...yet.
Kennedy herself had been oddly fine in his book. she wasn't nearly as annoying as he originally thought she'd be. Unexpected since she wasn't his type, but her way of carrying herself through this whole thing was good enough to not add to his strain. While he has yet to say so aloud, especially not to her...it's appreciated.
Now here they are at this "lock-in/break-in". Not much of a break in if the school allows it, but what did that matter. Now his only goal was to figure out how to stay entertained the whole night while with her because if he just stayed with her he wouldn't have to worry about the irritation of having to have self-restraint around the others, or here their comments about being whipped or whatever.
He turned his head to face her, "So what would you like to do first? The whole campus is ours for the taking."
He'd hung with Lin last weekend and Zeph had to say that, well, it'd been nice to hangout with someone. You know, someone that wasn't Stella (no offense to his girlfriend, of course), or another dancer that he was working on something with. Or at a party where he was just... there to tagalong as a wingman of sorts.
Yeah, it was nice to hangout with someone and just have fun -- even if that fun had been childish. Mostly childish. That was... probably the weirdest part about hanging out with Lin. Zeph couldn't even remember the last time he'd done half of the childish things that Lin seemed to be so obsessed with, or the last time he had Hotwheels laying all over his place. Hanging with Lin was like a breath of fresh air -- in a school where everyone was pretending to be adults, it was easy to forget that they were still just children, so... it was nice. Hanging with Lin. Feeling like his age (okay, a bit younger than his actual age), even if only for a few hours, was pleasant.
Maybe it was less like a breath of fresh air, and more like a breath of nostalgic air. It took him back to when he was young and saw the world through rose-colored lenses. Ya know, that time before you had burdens weighing you down, back before anyone relied on you for anything.
Zeph missed those days.
Of course, hanging out with Lin also brought about a lot of...
It had gnawed away at the pit of Zeph's stomach for the first couple days. Sunday night, he'd had a fitful night's rest because all he could dream about was a demonic orange bike and the angry owners of said demonic orange bike that Zeph had assisted in the robbery of. By Monday morning, his head was swimming with a thousand and one worries -- what if someone found out? What if there was a manhunt for the thieves? What if, what if, the bike had belonged to someone super influential and then they caught Zeph and Lin orange-handed, and then Zeph and Lin were blackballed from the entirety of everything and Zeph would end up failing at what he set out to do, and then he'd have to go back to Melbourne and become a dentist like his dad?
Okay, look, maybe he was overreacting a little bit.
Either way, it was... it was... fine. Zeph had spent the last half of the week convincing himself that everything was indeed fine and that they wouldn't get caught or taken into jail, so by time the lock-in rolled around on Saturday, he was feeling himself once again.
Which was great, because he'd agreed to show up with Stella (naturally -- they did live close to each other, and Zeph would take any opportunity to spend a little more time with her), and if he'd been off in any way, Stella would've been able to pick up on it right away. And sure, he could try and lie, say something to distract her from it, but one) he knew that wouldn't work because it was Stella, and two) Zeph really couldn't lie to her.
(Zeph really couldn't lie to anyone.)
So here he was now, in the school with Stella, her hand in his. It had been... what? A week since they'd gotten together? And he was starting to wonder when he'd get control over his tongue, which always felt tied up around her now, and when he'd stop worrying about if his palms were too sweaty, or this or that.
It wasn't like he'd ever worried about this stuff when they were friends, but now that they were... more than friends, Zeph found himself worrying about every little thing.
"I told Lin I'd find him when I got here," Zeph started, his words slow because he didn't necessarily want to ditch Stella this soon. His lips pursed together and tilted down into a bit of a frown. "Do you want to uhh..." he trailed off when he realized he didn't know where that sentence was going.
He chuckled instead in the silence that followed his failed question, a little smile growing on his face to replace the frown. "Hang... later? Like after I'm done hanging with Lin -- it's gonna be a long night, doubt we'll be together all night, so if you... want... to. Me and you."
Hollywood Arts was a scary place. It was huge and filled with people far more talented than Bella, or at least that’s what she thought. This wasn’t the first time that Bella had transferred schools midway through the semester, in fact years of being the child in a constantly moving military family sort of made her a professional at it all. All of her experience really meant nothing in the grand scheme of things because this wasn’t just another school. This was Hollywood Arts, the places where dreams come to get made or crushed underfoot.
Luckily, Bella wasn’t completely alone. Stella had been a lovely roommate so far, alleviating a whole lot of Bella’s stress. Plus, she had managed to befriend Kelli and Avery, the two people who helped her move her things in after she had dropped them in the hallway. Sure, the school was still incredibly intimidating but everything felt slightly less scary with friendly faces in the crowd.
Bella had heard lots of lovely things about lock-in, some sort of senior tradition within the school. Bella had been to a similar event back at her last school except it was far less… Formal. Look, anytime Bella had broken in somewhere no one had known about it besides the people with her. She could never imagine the teachers just casually knowing about them breaking into the school and almost encouraging them to do it by leaving the keys in obvious places. It was bizarre but regardless, Bella was looking forward to it all.
Bright eyed, Bella walked into the school with her white backpack dangling from her thin shoulders. She was early, years of ‘if you’re not 20 minutes early, you’re 20 minutes late’ drilled into her head so deeply that nearly no one else was there. Bella knew that she would run into her friends at some point to get the party started but until then, she found herself a comfortable spot in the main atrium and pulled out her journal.
Whenever Bella wrote, she got overly involved in the words. She had this horrid tendency of blocking out the world around her, acting as if nothing but the phrases rolling off the tip of her pen to the yellowed pages mattered. She apparently also has a face she makes, eyebrows all scrunched up with her bottom lip gently caught between her teeth as she thinks about which words to use next. So, it was completely in character for her to be completely oblivious to the groups of students that eventually were making their way into the school until a pair of girls sat down in the chairs across from her.
Pulled from the world of her poetry, Bella decided that it was time to go find her friends who had surely arrived by then. Standing up and tucking her journal under her arm, Bella made her way towards the gym. Just before the doors a force bumped into her from the side sending Bella stumbling and struggling to regain her balance.
“Oh dude, I’m so sorry.” The person quickly apologized, reaching a hand out to steady Bella.
“Non non, mes excuses chérie! I was not paying attention to where I was going.” Bella attempted to laugh the situation off, though her face flushed red from the embarrassment. Without another word, Bella dipped through the doors and into the gymnasium.
As a simple guy with simple motives, Felix Emmerson found himself really satisfied with his life right now. Things were goin' swimmingly, life was on the up-and-up, and Felix couldn't help but have an extra pep in his step.
In other words, Felix had gotten some cash for his stash today, and he was feelin’ as happy as a wild hog in a mudslide.
Of course, he’d cleaned his wallet out before he’d come to the lock-in. Though the place up there mighta seemed vacant more often than not, there was something turnin’, ya know. He wasn’t about to let himself get robbed of his hard week’s work.
“Hard week’s work” as in “peddlin’ supplies to Los Angeles' resident stoners and druggies”, sure, but it was all in a day’s work, and it was honest work. Who else had these kinds of prices for those people in need? That was right: no one except one Felix Rian Emmerson, your local plug with that Southern twang and hospitality.
He was workin’ on a trademark for that name right now, actually, though he was kinda thinkin’ that that title might be a little bit too long. He kinda felt like he needed something…poppier. Like…”your resident yeeyee drug dealer”…? “Your rootin’-tootin’ Alabaman drug peddler”? “Billy Ray Cyrus, but make him a drug trafficker”?
Ehhh…none of them had the right umpf. Didn’t really match his energy. He kinda needed to work on that. “People-pleasin’ pusher”…?
…hmm, no. Still not it.
Well, whatever. Y’know, point was, Felix got his money, and he was feelin’ pretty happy about the whole situation.
Besides that money, too, his life was goin' pretty swell, to be entirely honest. His new roommate and him got along just swimmingly— very swimmingly. She was linin' his pockets, sure, but she was also a pleasant person to be around.
(And she was also linin' his pockets, so there was that.)
Ah, and his grades were all As for yet another week, and he'd gotten a few things set up for a meet and greet with some of his fans within the next couple of months, and, to top it off, y’know, today was the good ol’ lock-in.
Felix had only been to the one his sophomore year, but that was fun, so he was lookin’ forward to this one. Last time, he did some dares and truths— truths and dares?— and had to recite an improvised monologue about how his one true love was the custodian. (Shout out to Mr. Phillips. That guy was a real one. Bald guys were always the realest ones. He really didn’t know how to explain it, but he had never met a single entirely bald guy that he hadn’t had a pleasant time conversatin’ with.)
Now, he arrived at the lock-in, and he walked down the hallway, greetin’ some people here and there with nods and grins as he walked aimlessly through the halls.
Finally, he came to a stop near the bathrooms and leaned up against the wall.
He stood for a second, grinnin’.
And stood for a few more seconds.
And a then a minute or two.
Yeah, he didn’t really remember what to do at a lock-in.
So Felix, wearin’ an idle grin, just kept standin’.
There was a certain starry-eyed wonder in the young boy's eyes as he trailed behind his sisters towards the school. Sure, it wasn't the first time he'd attended the school -- the triplets had been attending for about a week now, but this was the first time that he was actually looking forward to showing up at the boring old building. This was his first time getting to go to something with all of his other peers where he'd get to, like, actually have fun.
Oh yeah, Casey totally hated school. It sucked. He missed the road and being homeschooled because it was so much easier to fall asleep, or allow himself to get distracted and return to the material when he was up for it again. Casey easily had the attention span of a gnat, so trying to stay focused throughout the grueling hours of school had proven to be torturous. Honestly, if it wasn't for his parents' influence, there was no way he would've made it into the school or managed to stay with his abysmal grades.
Seriously, though -- part of attending a high school that focused on the performing arts had, well, it had led Casey to believe that that simply meant that just... everything would be easy or something? As in, he didn't think he'd have to keep learning math. He thought everything would be about music, because at least that was something that he was passionate about and could (mostly) stay focused on. But no, here he was, stuck with boring ol' classes.
Who really needed to know about chemicals or... or... counting to make it in the entertainment industry?
That's right, no one. He rested his case.
(Or, rather, he rested his Casey. Get it, get it? Funny, right?)
Anyway, anyway, he was totally excited for this whole lock-in thing. From what he'd picked up by introducing himself to people and getting invited, basically, some senior stole the keys and broke them in and they hung out at the school, which was lame during the day, but was super hot when it was at night.
He'd made sure to pack a backpack with plenty of snacks, a sleeping bag, his charger, and of course, Casey also had a couple lighters -- one in his pocket, one in his backpack (he generally carried multiple in case one got confiscated, he had backup). He was prepared for anything that the night might throw at them, and he was really hoping that there'd be a bonfire or something somewhere, right? Like, parties weren't really parties without fires. Nothing was fun or hot or amazing without fires.
Trust him, Casey was an expert.
"What d'ya think they do at lock-ins?" Casey asked. He'd fallen behind his sisters a bit, so he took a couple large steps to catch back up to his shorter sisters and leaned down so he was closer to face level with them -- or at least closer to Chanel's level. Getting down on Cami's level would involve Casey having to be on his knees or something. "Ya think they got a courtyard and we can just kinda, we can just kinda, ya know... like..." Casey straightened back up and turned one hand over, his fingers wiggling in the air while he made noises like fire explosions or something, ya know how it goes, "outside? Oh, oh, oh, or do ya think they got... they got like..." he dropped his fire hand and gestured in front of himself, widening his arms in a circle as if that would make any sense while he desperately tried to piece together the words he needed, and then his eyes lit up, "barrels! Do ya think they do barrels and we have little fires inside the barrels?"
Yeah, he had yet to occur to Casey that there was a very good chance that the whole lock-in thing wouldn't involve fires.
Nathan Woods "Here I am, living a dream that I can't hold on my own."
@NathanielWithoutTheIel has set their status to: ehhhh
@NathanielWithoutTheIel has interacted with: N/A
@NathanielWithoutTheIel has mentioned: Oates, Mike, Evie, Gen, that bitch Chas
@NathanielWithoutTheIel has tagged: N/A
If Nate was being perfectly honest with himself, he couldn't exactly remember the last time he'd let his guard down enough to have a best friend. Well, that was kind of a blatant lie -- it had been one Chas motherfucking Marino -- and to a degree, Oates was a best friend, and Nate didn't really have an answer as to why Oates of all people had managed to crack through the walls he'd pieced together around himself.
And it was on that same strip, that same train of thought, that Nate would find himself confounded and scratching his head were someone to ask why he was suddenly so buddy-buddy with Mike. In a lot of ways, Nate could see how it would make sense -- they were similar in a lot of ways, but Nate hadn't expected to reach the going to the beach and getting drunk on a school night type of friendship that he now shared with Mike.
Or you know, snatching the keys to break into the school with Mike type of friendship. Yeah, Evie and Gen had told them they should do it and the next thing Nate knew, he was reliving his youth (a dumb sentiment seeing as how he was still in high school). Mike distracted the secretary with his apparent charm, and Nate snatched the keys like it was nothing. Easiest shit he'd ever stolen.
It was strange, though. Nate had never been... popular? Yeah, that was probably fitting. Nate had never been surrounded with friends like Mike, or Gen, or dating hot girls like Evie that everyone wanted (sorry, Amy). That just wasn't Nate. He was the quiet boy that blended into the shadows, the quiet boy that was overlooked and left forgotten, and yet... and yet... by some weird ass turn of events, he was... not... that. By some weird turn of events, here he fucking was.
Really, Nate wasn't sure that he recognized himself anymore. Here he was, friends with Mike, boyfriend to Evie, all of life starting to... actually... look up in a way. He should've been happy, and he was -- he had everything he wanted, right? He had friends. He had the girl of his dreams. He was going to a school for what he was passionate about. He was on track to graduating from said school.
Nate was set. He'd set out from Kansas three years ago with nothing but a fever dream, and that fever dream was shaping into an actual reality, and a reality that was better than his pessimistic attitude ever could've imagined.
So why, Nate wondered, did he see a stranger when he peered in the mirror? Why, when he was brushing his teeth, or fresh out of the shower, and happened to catch his eye in the mirror, he felt as if he didn't know the person that was reflected there?
And why, he contemplated, was there was such a sinking feeling of guilt that was piercing his stomach every time he did catch his own gaze, or when he was with Evie?
That was dumb -- Nate knew why, and no amount of him justifying sleeping with Liv (he'd done it before, he was drunk, he was fucked up, he wasn't with Evie so it wasn't cheating) could make that feeling go away, so Nate had relied on the... one thing that he knew would make that guilt go away. Or, at least, it had always made his feelings of guilt drown before, generally because he would be so out of it that he wouldn't be able to process actual feelings.
Weed wasn't... quite... cutting it anymore, so Nate had started taking pills -- just something he'd snatched from Liv's place, and just enough to take the edge off of him at night when he was home alone, sitting in his bedroom and staring at the wall and trying to piece together why he somehow still felt empty.
It was this same kind of mindless wandering and getting lost in his own head that was now plaguing Nate even at the school for the lock-in. He'd been one of the first to arrive at the school given the whole stealing the keys thing for the break-in shit, and now he was just kind of...
He was supposed to hangout with Oates, but he had yet to see the curly-haired boy, and he didn't know who to approach, so he just...
Kellian was declaring it for all the world to hear: Hollywood Arts was so freaking dope!
Every week that Kelli was here was yet another week that she grew more convinced that she was dreaming. Seriously, someone needed to pinch her!
But, uh, not too hard. She bruised easily.
Seriously, though! This felt so unreal! Yes, Kelli had been attending Hollywood Arts for about three months, but every day felt like something new and exciting, and she loved it here so much. So, so, sooo much.
It was a dream!
This week? Hella dope! She got to dance, which was always the freaking best, and she got to have the tasty food that was so much better than the Hot Pockets she always ate for lunch at her other school, and she got to hang out with all of the dope people around her— not to mention the fact that she literally got to live in the same room as Veronica Crosby, who was literally the dopest, and the fact that her dope older brother was at this school! It was the best of all worlds, dude!
Of course this week was dope— it had no other way to go!
Oh yeah, but she did flunked that History test on Wednesday. Whoops.
Hey! Listen! Kelli was going to study for it...but then her TikTok showed “200+” notifications, and then Twitter started running, and then her favorite YouTuber uploaded a video over something that Kelli hadn’t ever heard about, and then...it was Wednesday, and she had no free time, and she also had no idea who the heck Herbert Hoover was.
She was still ninety percent sure that that guy was the inventor of the vacuum, right? Her parents had a Hoover, so it totally made sense.
Apparently it wasn’t, though. The teacher said that her essay over the invention of the Hoover vacuum, complete with a timeline of events including such titles as “The Vacuum Cult” and “Divergent Detergent”, was “creative and imaginative, but very, very wrong” and had given her a zero on that part. Kelli hoped that she would get a little grade boost for her little unicorn drawing on problem 24, but that didn’t work either, and her grand total of correct wild guesses on the multiple choice section was thirteen percent.
She had another test this Friday in History, and she needed to study for that.
But psht! That could wait. You wanna know why?
Well, ‘cuz tonight was the lock-in!
Sooooo she couldn’t study. Seriously, she was way too excited!
So excited that she was determined to get ready several hours early and show up all glitzed and glammed up!
Well, er...she was determined...but, uh...well, determination didn’t get her too far with doing her makeup.
And so, she had spent four hours trying to apply eyeshadow, and half of a new package of makeup wipes lay in a pile on her floor.
Humming beneath her breath, Kelli dabbed into orange with her brush. Maybe orange would somehow be easier to apply than any of the rest of the array of colors on her palette. Orange was a friendly color.
She tapped on her eye, rubbing the brush in circles until it covered her eyelids. She looked down at her reflection in the handheld mirror lying in front of her.
Hmph. It was all smudgy and blegh.
Kelli heard some movement from the bathroom, and she quickly yanked a makeup wipe from the box and held it to her eyelid to cover it up just as her roommate stepped out, all ready.
Kelli looked over to Ronnie, and a bright smile immediately came onto her face. “Ronnie!” Kelli stood, giving a small gasp. “You look so pretty!” With the wipe still held to her eye, she walked over to her. She gave her arm an encouraging squeeze with her free hand. “I wish I could rock what you wear the way you do! You look so gorgeous in everything. Seriously, you’re some kinda…wizard of dopeness,” she giggled.
Kelli gave Ronnie a warm smile for a moment, and then she walked back to her desk. She glanced down at her reflection in the mirror again, and she took a peek at the eyeshadow beneath the wipe.
With a soft sigh, she decided against pulling the wipe away and trying to salvage the makeup, instead opting to give her eyelid a few harsh swipes with her makeup wipe.
She pulled the used wipe away from her eyes, glancing at the orange makeup on the wet wipe. With a quiet “bleeeeegh”, Kelli dropped the wipe and let it fall into the stack of wipes on her floor.
She looked back at Ronnie with a smile. “Makeup is so hard!” she giggled. “I don’t get how you can do it— and you do it and get it to look so dope. Seriously, I can’t even put on a solid color!” She laughed softly, shaking her head. “I’ll try again next time, I guess.” For now, she would just go with whatever makeup leftovers she had on her face.
Walking over to her dresser, Kelli asked, “So…what is a lock-in?” With a soft laugh, she looked over at Ronnie, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, I asked the same thing last time we went somewhere, but…is the lock-in just a big slumber party? Do we get in big circles and tell secrets? Do we, uh, pull out the flashlights and tell spooky ghost stories?” Kelli had never been to any sleepovers where anyone actually did that, but she’d seen it in the movies before.
She opened the middle drawer of the dresser and pulled out two shirts that she had laying on the top. She threw them both on her bed. “Do they seriously lock us in?” She grabbed the two pairs of pants from beside where the shirts had been and tossed them on her bed as well. “What happens if someone has a allergic reaction and has to go to the hospital?”
She turned to her bed now, and she laid the shirts out flat. She then picked up each pair of pants and sat them beneath the shirts. She put a finger to her chin, her brows knitting in thought. “This one…” She hovered one hand over the left combo, and then she slowly moved it to the right. “...or this one one…?”
She really wasn’t feeling either, but Ronnie had advised her on them when she was making them last night, so she needed to use one or the other. She didn’t want to make it seem like she didn’t care about Ronnie’s opinion.
“Hmm…” She cocked her head, scrunching up her nose, pursing her lips, and lowering her brows in thought.
With a soft laugh, she shook her head, turning to look at Ronnie. “I know you helped me make these two outfits, but…I’m sorry, I’m so bad at decisions.” She gestured to the outfits on her bed with a smile. “Which outfit do you think?”
The past week had been largely uneventful for Stella. She found out she got a new roommate which was cool. While she liked living on her own the girl seemed kind, and had a good head on her shoulders, so the company would be nice. Plus Stella could use a girl friend or two instead of only hanging out with guys. Nothing against them they were awesome, but just Maddie wasn't enough to balance things out.
She'd hung out with her Ex, but that was oddly fine. If anything it served as nice closure for her that she hadn't completely fucked things up between them by choosing her career over him. Even if she'd never admit it, she had felt guilty about it even after all this time. Not guilty enough to regret it because who would've chosen a middle school relationship over their future? However putting her job above people was a habit she'd become accustom to ever since and one she wasn't completely sure was ok or not. She honestly just hoped that one day either she wouldn't have to anymore (hence why she choose to go to a high school where more people should in theory have a similar mindset), or she'd grow numb to it and it wouldn't weigh on her anymore.
Though this school had proven in the last year to be very different then she expected and the student body even more so for better and for worse. Even tonight, this lock in? Why? She wasn't complaining for the bit of fun and break, but why did the school allow this? It sounded like something originally just for seniors, but the more people talked about it the more it seemed fair game for everyone.
With that in mind she decided it would be fun to indulge. If everything went according to plan she'd be busy filming soon and knew she needed at least a tiny escape from work before then. Not to mention still having to work on the Arts festival play her and a few of her fellow theatre peers where putting together. Grease live was the chosen show and she was picked to play Sandy. They weren't doing the whole thing of course just a few iconic scenes, but it was still a lot of lines.
It'd kept her busy most of this past week honestly, and she'd felt kind of bad because her and Zeph had finally agree to date, but she spent a huge chunk of the week away from him. Luckily Zeph was clearly the type who understood how important it was to her. It's part of what made him such an amazing friend in the first place. Plus she was sure he was busy prepping along with the other dancers, and hanging out with his new best bro Lin. From the sounds of twitter, and the like they seemed to be getting along great. Admittedly it was a weird feeling to feel like she was getting replaced in the best friend department, but she technically moved into being the girlfriend department, so it was fair? Feelings were confusing. She'd prefer to work and not even acknowledge them because that was a silly thought anyways.
Not wanting to bring stuff with her, she packed anything she wanted, like her roller blades, for the evening in her locker during the school day. While she didn't like to show it, she did have childish streaks in her from time to time, and the idea of skating around the school seemed like a golden opportunity. Hey she was still just 15 and she'd seen it in a few music videos and it looked fun. Knowing that she dressed in athletic wear she'd gotten from one of her sponsors. Figured she might as well take advantage because it was super cute and practical.
She hadn't gotten to come to the lock-in the previous year because she was away at filming and by the looks of things she was only going to get busier as her time here at HA pressed on. So she might not get to participate again until her senior year, and if she was lucky at that. She needed to make the most of tonight. Not to mention she was getting to finally hang out with Zeph, which was her favorite person here to hang out with by far even before they started dating.
Dating just meant now they added things like hand-holding to their hang outs like they were doing now. He wasn't saying too much, and while she was curious as to why, she wasn't much better. Maybe they were still adjusting to the change? But for her it didn't feel like too much of a change. Maybe because they hadn't spent much time together since then? Sure she still had her nervous butterflies when they were close which was still odd to her. She wanted to talk, but she felt like anything she had to say would've been kinda boring. There wasn't much she could tell him right now that she hadn't probably texted him during the week after all.
When he finally did speak up she was surprised by what he said. Even if she really shouldn't have been.
Sure she understood, but she kinda had hoped they could spend a bit more time together tonight since they hadn't much over the week (Which she felt was probably her fault) or the weekend since the Halloween party (or at the party really). However she also didn't wanna seem like one of those super clingy or jealous type girls, so she nodded and pressed her lips into a semi-forced smile. "O-oh uh yah sure. Have fun." She added while her grip on his hand unintentionally loosened.
She supposed she could do her original plan on her own, or find someone else to hang out with. She raised a brow as he attempted to get a question out. He was absolutely adorable while tongue tied which was a saving grace for him to her usual lack of patience. Her smile warmed up as he chuckled finally getting his words together. "Of course!" She chimed excitedly in response, and tugged gently on his hand so he'd bend down a bit while she got on her tip toes and placed a soft kiss on his cheek. "Just text me when you're done cause I don't know where I'm gonna be if I'm honest." She hummed happily.
She was certain Landon or Maddie had to be around here somewhere. She'd go find Dorian if she wasn't sure he was probably with his new girlfriend whom she didn't actually get along with mostly because she can't stand the way she talks to Landon. Sure it's a two way bicker street...but Landon is her friend and Stella is a loyal one.
With the exception of Wednesday, which for the most part hadn’t been eventful enough for Hunter to remember or care, had seen Hunter losing control on a lot of people on Twitter. Sure, this wasn’t a rare occurrence. Hunter had the tendency to say more what he’d usually say through his screen than he did to their faces. If he had said it to their faces, depending on who they were, they might find out why exactly he is his father’s son, the same father who spent most of his wrestling career fighting and taking down men twice his size in the squared circle. Hunter didn’t want to admit it, but he inherited The Dragon’s fire and right uppercut.
But what had caught his attention wasn’t just anything. Hunter wouldn’t lose it on people like Gem and Dalton and everyone else as bad as he did if it wasn’t for them consistently hounding him on being a father. And what was the cause of this? Some bitch behind a fake account. Some bitch who decided to spread false rumors that Nickie was pregnant.
Hunter wasn’t offended because he didn’t see himself as a father. Some day and if the universe saw it in his favor, sure he would be fine with being a father and if the universe was kind to him, maybe even with Nickie? But to imply that was the reason they were in the bathroom the night of Gen’s party and why Hunter was supporting his girlfriend as she puked herself to kingdom come into the toilet was absurd!
So, of course, Hunter flipped the hell out on them. And, of course, he didn’t care what he said or whom he said it to. And why should he? In all the time they had spent shitting on him for reasons that he’d drive himself crazy counting.
What mattered was, after all of that and after consoling Nickie, which he wasn’t sure if he was successful or not but it was at least a silver lining of that shit show, Hunter stayed off of Twitter from Wednesday until now.
“Back to the place I never thought I’d be after hours,” Hunter heard himself mutter.
As Hunter walked through the parking lot, he stopped midway, looking down at himself. He opted for comfort over style. There was no way he was going to be at school all night and sleep in the sleeping bag he had in the duffle bag that hung from his left shoulder in his usual style of jeans. Those were made for walking, not sleeping in a bag. So of course Hunter was going to wear his oversized AC/DC Thunderstruck T with his white sweatpants. Gracing his feet were house shoes. Nothing special about them. Just regular house shoes that were made from real Egyptian cotton. A gift from his stepmom and one that he didn’t mind if he was being honest.
Smiling at that thought, he slipped his wireless beat headphones on — another gift from Hana, who really was trying to warm her way into his heart — he had Thunderstruck on AC/DC on. For about five minutes and halfway through the second playthrough of the same song, Hunter saw a familiar blonde make her way towards him, smiling and looking up at him.
He caught himself chuckling as he slid the headphones around his neck. Ash was such a dear friend of his. She gave him a lot of shit, but she was the sister he never thought he’d get. Mimi was different because Ash never treated him like he was lower than her. Or rather she couldn’t because of how short she was.
From afar, the size difference wasn’t so jarring, but when they were a few feet apart, Hunter couldn’t stop himself from chuckling. He was nearly a foot taller than her. It was amazing just how short she was. And yes, Hunter’s well aware that it was mean, but since she rubbed the fact that she was older than him, Hunter would return the favor with their size difference.
But as much fun as it was, Hunter resisted the urge to rest his arm over her head like it was an armrest. It would’ve been hilarious just to see her make a big deal about it, but he didn’t do it.
"So... I'm surprised you're not, like, with your girlfriend."
And here it goes.
Hunter rolled his eyes while still laughing. He knew she didn’t have any malicious intent behind it. At least, none that Ash was showing on her round face. “I’m going to meet her inside later on,” he added as an afterthought.
"I can't believe you're dating. Wasn't it, like last month that you still thought girls had cooties?"
His immediate response was a laugh, one that lingered for a few seconds longer than intended. “Now is that before or after you logged your one-inch growth spurt to now?” He joked and he bumped her shoulder teasingly to emphasize that. “What are you at now? Like three feet? Are you even tall enough to ride the Go-Karts yet?”
Silently weeping onto a cell phone in a bathroom stall at work: mark that off the bucket list.
So, Lin had a lot to say that fateful afternoon at the dollar store and, quite frankly, Angel did too. Now, having a lot to say doesn't always equate to actually saying a lot, which seemed to be a frequent, unfortunate reality for the latter boy. As brief as the interaction was, it felt like hours he was hanging by the shirt collar from his cousin's grip. Insult after insult, every seething remark rang so loud in Angel's head that he could hardly offer any opposition, not that he didn't disagree with the horrible things being said. The simple truth was that shrinking away and checking out for a minute or two was more easy, practical, and way less of the whole "confrontation" thing Javier raved about.
In fact, he'd felt like a failure for only going so far as to disagree with Lin and fruitlessly attempt some sort of improbable de-escalation. Angel was naïve, but he wasn't so foolish as to cling onto any substantial hope for reconciliation with Lin, at least on his own terms. These days, it felt like the only terms he was living by was someone else's, but it wasn't an unwelcome experience. Angel was no stranger to going through the motions, spacing out, and making do with his autopilot factory settings.
Ooh—that would be a good idea for a sketch. It had been ages since Angel had drawn himself as an android, a crime far beyond whatever sticky soap floor situation he was reprimanded for post-Lin and Zeph.
At any rate, he still had plenty of other things independent of family drama to indulge in, which makes a neat little segue into the following Saturday: the annual senior lock-in. Angel never understood why the whole "senior" bit was tacked onto the tradition, considering kids of all classes eventually found their way to the school after hours. Plus, when he thought about it logically, it wasn't all that thrilling holing up in a place he A. typically looked forward to leaving for the weekend and B. had been to at nighttime already on several occasions prior.
Nevertheless, he was a sucker for novelty and figured he ought to get another staple high school experience under his belt before really calling himself an upperclassman. In fact, he was the same grade as his older brother, so that had to count for something in the big-boy-points category. After all, the night wouldn't be so bad if he just found the right person. Angel was never one to make plans, not out of a penchant for spontaneity, but mostly as a result of his, well... you've seen which rung on the social ladder he dangles off of.
One blessing in Angel's life was Lydia, who was usually enough to fulfill his daily social quota. He was eternally grateful to hitch a ride with her to the school, but for once, he was looking to expand his social circle. Talk to someone. You know, rowdy, party kid things. "Thanks for the ride, Lydia," he said, sending a fond smile her way. He promptly exited the car, then fumbled for the messenger bag draped over his torso. Inside were the essentials: water, band-aids, a rock, pencils, a sketchpad... Angel was already beginning to doubt his choice to bring one medium-sized rock over two smaller rocks. Some of the best conversation starters began with the right rocks, after all. It had worked at least a few times before.
With a small spring in his step, Angel ambled into the school's interior at such a leisurely pace it was near impossible to tell he'd been hesitating at each step. Immediately, he laid eyes upon a ravishing girl clad in heels she most definitely did not need. Angel thought he was comparably short before, but this girl had to have had at least several inches on him. Not only that, but her ice-cold, blue eyes scanning the atrium shook Angel to his core. The girl was undoubtedly intimidating, but her natural beauty accentuated by methodically-chosen cosmetics captivated him to no end.
Angel had to have seen her around before; even so, in this exact moment, as the pale moonlight shone through the window onto her perfect, doll-esque skin, he knew moving on would be a grave mistake. As though by an innate instinct, the spacey junior retrieved his drawing equipment from his bag, making quick work of the nameless girl ahead. Her mysterious allure was only enhanced by her lack of a name in present, as well as what on Earth she was doing alone, idly gazing at her sparkling clean nails. Angel was gravely aware how weird it was, but he longed for the chance to sketch the light reflecting off of her smooth, manicured fingernails. It would have made great practice.
His pencil moved along the paper of the sketchbook like a light breeze, and it would have appeared effortless if it wasn't for the intent way Angel was staring at his artwork. Up and down his head bobbed, examining his subject until he deemed the situation fit for sitting on the floor crisscrossed. He didn't have so much dexterity as to devise a masterwork on a stack of sheets supported by merely the palm of his hand, of course.
In Angel's professional opinion, he believed to have captured his enchanting subject quite well, especially given the short time he'd spent sketching her with a pencil. Additionally, it wouldn't have been a work of Angel Cervantes without some absurd, unnecessary detail, so he made sure to exaggerate sparkling effects on the moonlight filtering through the hall, the outline of the window framing her delicate face. And last, but not least, he topped her head off with a dainty tiara of ice, because her eyes were blue and she looked kind of mean and... Angel didn't really know why exactly, but it made sense to him. Maybe it was the blue eyes.
Pleased to know his passion for art was almost always a fitting icebreaker, he finally approached the girl with starry eyes. Closing in on her, he could really feel the height difference. Not only that, but she seemed to radiate an almost oppressive air, sending a shiver down Angel's spine. He felt strangely unworthy to be in her presence, and based on the look she gave him, he probably was.
"I saw you from across the hall," he admitted sheepishly, awkwardly positioning himself in front of her to get her attention, "I don't think I've ever seen anyone like you in my life. Not to be dramatic, but you took my breath away." He let out a short breath, holding his sketchbook out for the girl to observe. His breath was really short. Like, if he wasn't making a conscious effort not to be weird, he'd have been hyperventilating. Was this love? Was this tightness nestled in Angel's chest a passionate longing, or was it just anxiety again?
"So, I drew you. I hope you don't mind." he queried, his tone soft and mellow, "What do you think?" He looked left, then right. No jealous boyfriends in sight; that had to be a good sign, right?