Victoria Sterling was not losing her grip. She still had total control over the conversation and over herself, obviously. As resilient as she was, a simple conversation like this wasn’t enough to make her have such a pitfall as going wild— or…how did Mikaela put it…? Letting loose…? Yeah, no, this conversation was not a sign that Tori was “going over to the dark side” or anything like that. If anyone was listening, she was literally just humoring her friend, and that was all.
Yeah— yeah, literally. Like, if she were to suddenly be like “oh no, I absolutely will not hear you out”, do you know how upset that’d make Mikaela? Ugh, and Tori was so loving and so caring that she just couldn’t do that to such a good friend, ya know? What, did you think she was heartless? Look, just because she had some sense and spoke out against the wrongs that others did didn’t mean that she didn’t have a heart.
(These were the thoughts that ran through Tori’s head as she so obviously lost her grip on the conversation.)
“Anything Tori,” answered Mikaela to Tori’s query about what the bets and dares could be.
Tori raised a brow. “Anything?” she echoed. What, are you going to ask me to…chug some beers and make out with strangers or something?
“Say chugging a few beers and then making it through a roller coaster without puking or making out with a hot stranger on a ride,” Mik answered. “Player’s choice really, let your imagination run wild.”
Tori’s eyes grew wider, though she tried to suppress her surprise. I was kidding.
Mik was joking too, right?
Tori laughed in disbelief, then let out a soft scoff. Ugh, she had to be— Mikaela, ever the jokester. Ha, ha, ha. She couldn’t possibly have the gall to do think that Tori would do those things in public, even under the constraints of a bet or a dare, right?
“Sure,” Tori said, rolling her eyes. “You’re kidding, right?” she asked.
Okay, so now she realized how that sounded— like she was, psh, what, scared or something? And that was a no, because there wasn't an ounce of fear in her. She was fearless and so brave, and something as small as...this stupid shit was, like...so far beneath her.
And so, she added, “Because that’s such child’s play.” She laughed again. “Seriously, you suggest those things like they’re anything I’d raise an eyebrow at. Like, that’s just dumb shit. Easy shit, yeah, but dumb. I’d do that anyway, no eyes blinked,” she condescended. “You’ve gotta be kidding me. I thought you’d have better. Literally been there, done that, called it a typical Thursday night.”
Right. See, Tori told you— she had total control of the conversation.
“Anyway,” Mikaela continued, “I can’t wait to see what you are like in action then.”
Tori’s eyes widened once more. “In action?” Was she actually going to ask her to do that shit?
She swallowed hard, breathing in deeply. Keep your cool.
She raised a hand and rolled her eyes. “Sure, sure.”
“We should schedule a date for this,” Mikaela said.
Tori blinked. “Uhm, a date?” she asked. “Already?”
“What do we have coming up?” Mikaela seemed to be thinking aloud. “Right, arts fest.”
“Wait, hold up, we’re already setting a date?” Tori asked, reaching out and putting a hand on Mikaela’s arm.
“We can hit the amusement park after arts fest then,” Mikaela said.
Tori let out an exasperated sigh. “Mik—“
“It’s a date,” Mik concluded.
“Ugh!” Tori exclaimed, sitting back and crossing her arms.
No fucking way.
One, that meant that Mik was deadass serious about the whole situation, which...oh my God, she was actually serious.
Two, it meant that Tori actually had to go through with it. As in, she actually had to go to that, which meant that, three, there were only really two ways that things could go.
Option one) Tori contracted syphilis, made a public embarrassment of herself, vomited her guts out on some stranger, and probably lost an arm or a leg. Oh, and did she mention make a public embarrassment of herself? Yeah, because that was definitely going to happen, and it was all going to be Mikaela's fault. And she really, really didn't want her father's legal wrath to come upon such a good friend as Mikaela, you know. She really didn't.
Option two) Tori admitted she was a liar and that there was no way in hell that she could handle this.
Actually, in comparison, option one sounded so much fucking better, but also...
Look, if Tori could get out of this, she wouldn't have to go through either situation, and that sounded so much fucking better.
But also, like...she was too far in to just get out of it easily. She had to be smart about this, but she couldn't be obvious. If she was obvious, she'd never hear the end of it.
“I never agreed to that date, you know,” Tori huffed. “I’m probably busy that day, anyway. Like I said, I’m a busy girl, and I don’t have a lot of free time. It’s not like I can just, like…drop everything to go to an amusement park and…” She nearly gagged at the thought of it: “Make out with strangers or chug beer or something like that.” She rolled her eyes, sighing.
She worked her jaw for a second. Figure a way out of this. “Plus, that’s pretty far away,” she continued, her voice slow and slightly lilted as she considered her choice in words carefully. “I mean, a lot can change in a couple of weeks, you know. Like…maybe you’ll suddenly decide that this was a terrible idea, that you never wanted to show me how abysmal your ‘having fun’ skills are.” She held up air quotes at having fun, then crossed her arms again. “Maybe you’ll decide, ‘Oh, damn it, Tori’s right, I make bad decisions, I should just calm it down,’ and we can just…I dunno, switch that date up to a tea party or some shit. I’ll buy little party hats, and it’ll all be fancy-schmancy, cutesy, and we’ll just...psh, we'll forget about this little thing.”
She sounded more like she was mocking Mikaela and telling her that she couldn’t handle it.
Okay, okay, okay, she could still save this and not dig her whole deeper.
“Or..." She began to speak a bit quicker, smirking slightly. “Ya know, maybe I’ll start internally bleeding or something, and it’ll be like God’s telling you how much of a mistake this ever was and how you need to change your way of life or whatever.” She laughed. “’Drop the needle and put your hands in the air or your totally-best-friend gets it’-type shit, right?”
West was struggling to stand, struggling to breathe, struggling to speak, and probably struggling to hold in all of his bodily fluids. Mike was impressed that he’d lasted this long, really. Seemed like he’d grown more resilient than his sophomore year self. Then again, Mike’d given him a year to collect himself, so maybe this wasn’t impressive.
Oh, who was he kidding? It wasn’t impressive in the first place. Nothing about Jason “I Cream at a Single Touch” West screamed impressive; it just screamed. Point blank. And it sounded like a little girl. Actually, no, make that a fucking infant. Yeah, infant suited much better.
Hey, come to think of it, he had about the social capacity of an infant, too. Probably the same-sized brain. Probably the same object permanence, honestly. He probably thought if he closed his eyes tighter, Mike’d suddenly cease to exist.
If that was true, Mike had a rude awakening. Actually, no, it was a pretty polite awakening. Ya know, since Mike wasn’t pummeling him into a pulp and dancing in his fresh blood. It definitely could’ve been much ruder. Now, wasn’t Piddle Pup glad that Mike was such a polite young man? He should be thanking him. Maybe even…huh…kissing his feet, praising him like he was some god or something? Praying at a Mike shrine in the morning, fasting at night in honor of him?
Eh, nah, that’d be a slight overkill— only a slight one, though. A simple “thanks for sparing my life, O Holy Michael” would suffice.
“I-I called you a uhh…ho…horny…b-b-bastard?” West stuttered, and then he grinned.
“The fuck?” Mike asked, as if he hadn’t heard him the first or the second time.
Wait— bastard. That’d changed from before.
Well, looked like Piss Pants’ vocabulary was spontaneously growing, huh? Look at him go! Next thing was to actually start making good insults, which…well, actually, that was too far above his level. He probably couldn’t fit that much information in his tiny brain.
“Aw, how sweet of you,” Mike said, putting on an artificial sweetness and gripping West’s shirt tighter. “Now why the fuck did you say that?”
“At-at-at least I-I didn’t…didn’t l-lie?” West offered.
That was probably the dumbest shit for Jason “Everyone Says My Parents’ Second Try was Better” West to say in that moment.
“Did you suddenly sprout balls?” Mike scoffed, grinning. “And here I thought Evie had gone and made you a eunuch.” He twisted his shirt tighter. “I thought I heard you moaning. You testing those out? If they’re as dysfunctional as your brain, you might as well just chop them off. I mean, it’s not like they’ll be of any use to you anyway. Getting rammed in the ass by Richards, the Face of Iron Deficiency, doesn’t require the use of any sperm, and neither does begging him to piss on you.”
He gave West a firm jostle, adjusting his grip on his shirt so that the back of the neck of the shirt pulled forward. His angry, weakness-hungry eyes stared into West’s for a moment, and it looked as though he were about to punch him.
Instead, his face relaxed and broke into a grin again. He took a step back, slowly releasing West’s shirt, and he pointed to the guitar, nodding at it. He put his hands on his hips, grinning at West. “Play me something, Piss Party. C’mon, let’s hear the one thing you think makes you worth something, huh?”
old habits die hard
a random music room
by machine gun kelly
evie & callum
take a fucking guess. he'll give you one word: incontinent. (he was going to say bitch, but there are too many options for that one, aren't there?)
The SUV pulled to a stop in Simone’s spot, and Nickie ran a hand through her hair, gnawing at her lower lip and breathing out a sigh through her nose. She reached for her purse and her backpack, touching at the door handle as she braced herself for what Simone might say.
She’d promised not to comment about her and Hunter…so maybe she wouldn’t?
“Sorry, but I don’t get it, chica,” came her answer.
Damn, wishful thinking.
Nickie gripped the doorhandle.
“You know I’m in your corner and I want to be supportive of you, because God knows that almost everyone here has a stick up their ass,” Simone said. “But girl…” She turned to face Nickie, and Nickie glanced at her and then back at the door’s window. “I don’t know how much shit you went through before I knew you, to think that you can’t be you without some boy is BS and you know it.”
“Yeah…,” Nickie said, but she wasn’t really listening. She couldn’t really listen.
“Hunter is okay and he treats you like you’re a queen, but c’mon, you gotta believe you’re a queen, too!” Simone continued. “Don’t let a man dictate your self worth and you sure as hell shouldn’t let anyone give you any shit, either.”
Nickie looked over at Simone, studying her with tired, wide, blue eyes. “Simone…” Her brows knit, and she bit into her lower lip as she searched for her words.
She couldn’t find them. Damn it.
She sighed softly. “Yeah. Thanks,” she said, though she didn’t really mean it, and she popped open the door. “And thanks for driving me. I’ll see you around. Maybe at lunch, but I dunno. If Hunter and I don’t go somewhere, I’ll find you.” Her voice was scratchy and exhausted.
She stepped out onto the pavement, sparing Simone a final, half-hearted smile before slamming the door, and she made her way down the hallway. A few turns later, and she was at her locker.
Stooping over and opening her locker (which was, unfortunately, one closest to the ground), she grabbed a couple of books from inside, and then she dropped herself down onto the floor with a sigh, leaning her head back against it.
The hall wasn’t empty. Nickie could see several people around her. She could hear Ronnie’s piercing, annoying voice bugging someone else, but she couldn’t make out what she was saying.
But it was fine. No one would really bother her, probably. She’d just sit here, move if someone asked her, and wait out her time before first period.
Please, no one fucking talk to me.
Her phone buzzed, and she reached into her pocket and pulled it out to see what the messages on its cracked screen were.
Babe i’m by my locker, so whenever you get here, come meet me.
Maybe we can hang before classes start?
Maybe I can walk you to your class or whatever..
See you then!
“Shit,” Nickie muttered beneath her breath, and she clicked her phone off, sticking it back in her pocket and leaning her head against her locker again.
For once, she was glad that she didn’t have a locker on the same hall as Hunter’s.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to see him. She just…didn’t want to see anybody.
She was tired, her head hurt a little, and Simone’s words were stirring in her head.
And if anyone else talked to her, she might think about them more.
Lock-in happened. That was just about what Felix could say about it.
Had he gotten drunk and flirted with an old, dear friend? Yeah, but he’d caught up with her, so that was nice. It was always nice talking with Maeve.
Had he had sex with his customer in exchange for drugs? He guessed so, but it like she’d verbally said “hey, I’ll go down on you for some drugs” like that one guy had that night, even if it was implied. Really, he could just pretend that he’d given her a, uh, free bag of drugs and they’d fucked on the table just ‘cuz they fucked on a table, and he could be done with that whole situation.
Now, were those two choices the greatest decisions of his life? Well, of course not. It wasn’t like he was oh-so-proud of what he’d done.
But were they were worst? Also no. He’d had a good time, and he really didn’t regret making those choices.
When he’d woken up with a mild hangover and some explainin’ to do to his wallet, he’d not had any kinda dramatic rush of guilt or anything. Hey, sure, he’d lost some profits, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t gotten anything outta it, and it wasn’t like he was establishin' some kinda routine with that. That one dude— that Beelzebub fella— who offered to suck his dick for some shrooms earlier’s offer would’ve been accepted was that the case. Nah, this was a rare lapse in business practices, and that was okay. Ya won some, ya lost some, ya hooked up with an emotional addict on a teacher’s desk some, and ya got over all of it eventually. Wasn’t the worst sex he’d ever had, either, so that was a bonus. (He’d decline to say what the worst sex was.)
He’d probably scored more than his ol’ bud D. Slut had all night.
(Shh, that was a joke, and don’t tell Slater that he’d said that. Guy had a sensitive ego, and he didn’t wanna hurt his feelings, ya know.)
Speakin’ of good ol’ Slutbag, today was the day that Felix was supposed to be workin’ with him and another dude on something or other. The, uh, the thing. The Arts Fest film or whatever. Yeah, that thing. Ya know, only the biggest school-assigned thing of this semester. No sweat.
He was kiddin’, but really, it wasn’t too big of a sweat. Sure, he had to do the job perfect, but it wasn’t like he ever put anything other than his best foot forward. As long as he maintained that today, everything’d be smooth sailin’. If Slater did his job well— which Felix hadn’t ever really seen him do anything worse than his best, either— the animation project’d be a smash hit, ya know.
They made a great team, really. Maybe part of it was that they’d known each other for so long— since Felix was, what, thirteen or something?— but Felix credited it more to their, uh, work ethics. It sounded better that way, ya know. Sure, Slater had a bit of a hard head sometimes, but Felix was used to dealin’ with picky directors, and it wasn’t like Felix was really in charge of this project, anyway.
He made his way down the hallway and turned into the room that he’d been told they were gonna work in with a big yawn, holdin’ a hand over his mouth. As he strode casually into the room, he held up a hand as a greetin’, though the other boy was furiously at work on some kinda tablet and probably didn’t see him.
“Already crackin’?” Felix asked, droppin’ his bag down in a chair beside them and peerin’ over Slater’s shoulder to see his work. He whistled. “Damn…,” he said, voice full of awe, and then he grinned at his friend. “That’s fuckin’ gnarly, bud,” he complimented, and then he leaned back in his chair, pullin' out a bottle of water and crackin’ it open. “I see you started without me, huh? That kinda day or somethin’? Or are you just really crunchin'?”
“Ah yes, the math room,” Bella confirmed, though she sounded just as unsure as Kelli did about the identity of the room. “Looks very…academic. Like people do…smart people things in there.”
Kelli gave a light laugh, shrugging her small shoulders in embarrassment as her cheeks tinged pink. She held up her palms and wiggled her fingers. “I, uh…sorry!” she said softly, shifting somewhat awkwardly.
Gosh, it was a bad idea to go along with being the leader. There was a reason why she never was— she didn’t really know too much.
But Beth smiled and patted the doorframe. “Yes, math classroom. This is Mr. Jessup’s room, he teaches, like, freshman math or something, so…you shouldn’t have to worry about him. Which is, like, so good because he’s honestly a horrible teacher. Like, he’s so boring.”
Kelli giggled. Part of that had to be the math, though. She’d talked to them in the hallway. He said he liked her unicorn Germ-X holder and showed her his one with a little bear on it. He was actually pretty nifty, if you didn’t count the, uh, monotone part of it. Anyone with a squishy bear for a Germ-X holder couldn’t be that boring.
“I believe one of my classes is up ahead,” Bella commented. “Would you mind if we stop by so I can drop my things off? These textbooks are incredibly heavy.”
And then Bella started leading herself, and Kelli watched after her for a moment before hurrying her steps and catching up. She put her hands on her backpack straps, setting her face forward as if she were an adventurer.
She’d never actually been to this part of the building, so she really had no idea where they were going. Probably wasn’t a good sign that one of the tour guides as unfamiliar with the territory they were touring, but hey! Kelli was trying here!
(This tour may’ve been more for Kelli than it was for Bella, though. Shhh, you couldn’t tell anybody.)
They stepped into a book-themed classroom that Kelli assumed was a literature classroom of some sort. Her eyes bulged, and she whispered, “Woooow.” It was fricking huge. Sure, so were the dance classrooms, but this one was book-themed! Kelli didn’t read much, but it was still hella neat.
Bella sat her books on a desk, shaking her arms and rolling her shoulders. She began to sift through the books and put them in all kinds of piles as she spoke. “You are a literature student too, Beth, oui? I think we share some classes together. It will be comforting to know another face in the crowd. This school has a habit of becoming overwhelming without familiar faces. I assume it comes with the territory of being such a popular and esteemed institution.”
Big words, big words.
Kelli stared at Bella in awe. The girl was so neat, wow.
Bella turned to face Beth and Kelli, smiling warmly and crossing her arms. “You’ve been here for a while, right?” Her words were pointed at Beth, and Kelli pried her eyes from the cool girl to look at the other. “You must know where the interesting places are in the school. Classrooms can be figured out but in a place so large, there must be some resident secrets that newcomers like myself don’t know about.”
“Ooh, secrets?” Kelli looked at Beth. Ronnie’d told Kelli about the school secrets, but she didn’t know that they were places. Ronnie said that they were ghosts or some shizzle like that. “Like what?” she asked, cocking her head slightly, though it was more of a rhetorical question than anything— Kelli much preferred to find out by, well, finding out instead of just hearing. It was funner that way.
Bella turned to Kelli, and she took her arm and looped it through Kelli’s. “And you have to show me the dance studios on this tour of yours. I need to know where I’m going to cheer you on.”
“Oh, heck yeah!” Kelli responded with a bright smile as Bella looped her other arm through Beth’s. “You could come join me! Be my dance partner or something!” she joked with a giggle.
Bella turned her attention to Beth. “So, where to go first? You must know somewhere interesting.”
Beth laughed, and she took her turn being the leader, tugging them out to the hallway. “Of course I do,” she answered as they made their way down the hall. “But perhaps Kelli would like to show us a couple of the dance rooms first?” She smiled over at Kelli, and Kelli, of course, smiled right back. “And then we can finish off the tour with the best places in the school, the secret places that only someone who has been here for a while would know.”
Kelli’s mouth formed an o, and she gasped softly. “Ooooh!” she said. “Hype!”
Was she going to see the janitor ghost for real this time? If she was with her new friends, she wasn’t as scared about it as she would’ve been alone. Heck, she was sure they could handle that.
“Okay, so dance rooms first!” Kelli said, moving them down the hall and taking a turn.
She sure hoped that they were going in the right direction.
“This school is freaking hugeungous!” Kelli half-whispered, looking around at the pristine hallways. The artwork on the walls was probably stuff that students made, but she really couldn’t tell ‘cuz it all looked super fire, anyway. “How much do you think it cost? Probably a lot a lot.” She was thinking aloud. “My old school wasn’t this big. Everything about this place is gigantic. Everything about LA, too. I mean, before I came here, I thought a thousand people was a lotta people, but now I kinda think is that it? Healdsburg is, uh…teeny-tiny compared to here. It’s freaking wack! I never thought that I’d think that eleven-thousand was something small.” She giggled, shaking her head. “Then again, I never really thought I’d be here of all places. Dangity-ditty-hotty-smokin’-damn, this place is…wow.”
She trailed off, staring at a portrait on the wall as they finally reached the dancing hall. Surprisingly, she hadn’t gotten them lost. She had, however, spoken entirely too much, and to that, she said, “Sorry. I get, uh, chitty-chattery when I’m excited. It’s really embarrassing.”
Had she said that aloud?
“Uhhh…anyway,” she began, pulling her arm from Bella’s to gesture to the first classroom. “Thiiiis is the classroom that I do my dancing in!” She made jazz hands towards the door, and then pulled it open. Thankfully, this classroom was empty, though she could hear a mixture of music coming from other classrooms surrounding us. “Whew,” she said, stepping inside the wood-floored room and breathing in the smell of the polish with a smile on her face. She dropped her bag to the floor, then she stepped to the center of the room. She turned back around to Beth and Bella, holding her arms out. “Isn’t it fricking dope?” she asked.
To accentuate the question, Kelli tried to show off a pirouette, kicking her leg off to spin and quickly trying to put her foot to her knee. Unfortunately, outside of the context of a song, she was far from graceful, and she just ended up flopping backwards with an “ack!” She didn’t manage to catch herself, instead just full-on flopping onto her back.
She grimaced at the immediate pain, but then she laughed. “It’s good!” she said, holding up a thumbs-up. “I’m okay!” She pushed off of the ground easily, walking back over to the girls, a blush on her face.
Gack, how embarrassing.
“I’m, uh…these shoes weren't made for dancing, sorry,” she laughed, shyly covering her cheeks and squishing in her shoulders. She took her hands from her cheeks and gestured to the classroom again, putting her hands on her hips and looking at her reflection in the mirror. “But this is where it all happens!” She scrunched her nose up slightly with a giggle. “That’s kinda why it smells a little bit like sweat, but you get used to it!” she kidded.
Mocha... cookie... a fucking what? The side of her lip twitched up as she listened to Jules trying to order for her, and Ava gave a little glance around the store before trying to offer the Starbucks employee her cash again -- except that Jules stuck her hand out and stopped her. She let out a small hmpf as she shoved the money back into her wallet and slipped it back into her back pocket. Fine. Fucking fine.
Ava didn't want to waste her money on some fucked up corporation that likely killed fucking seals or something. She didn't know, but that seemed like something a shitty corporation that couldn't even go with normal fucking size names would do.
She huffed as they stepped to the side to wait for their order, and their morning hit a kind of snag. Like you know when you're walking, and your shirt catches on something and you're kind of tugged to an abrupt stop? Yeah, that's what the moment kind of felt like as Ava exhaled slowly and glanced around the Starbucks again, taking in their tacky waste of money pictures. Fuck. She could've done a better job throwing paint on a canvas than half these so-called "artists."
Ava turned her gaze down to look at her tiny brunette companion.
“I never asked you what you were doing for the arts fest.”
"Yeah, I think I'mma do poetry," she started with a little nod of her head. A little grin stretched across her face. "Wanna hear a little bit? "It's called... like... Ode to Hollywood Arts or some shit.""
Although Ava asked, she didn't really wait for a response from Jules. Her grin widened before she brought a fist up to her mouth, clearing her throat into it, and then her fist dropped back to her side. Both of her hands went behind her back, her fingers loosely lacing themselves together.
"It seems that everyone clashes,
And these people are faker than JJ's eyelashes."
Yeah, it was a shit rhyme. Ava didn't do fucking rhymes, but she would do fucking rhymes as a way to tease her best friend, so ha. Take that.
"Kidding," she said with a little chuckle after a moment. "Nah, I'm doing like a... horror story or something. I dunno. I need to work on it, but I got so long until the Arts Festival, anyway. I've got time. I'll finish it." Procrastination, procrastination, procrastination -- both Ava's middle name and also her fucking motto.
It'd be fine. If all else failed and she didn't get a stroke of genius before the Arts Festival reared its ugly head, then she'd just pick some old story she'd written when she was younger and hadn't shown to the stupid school. She'd polish it up, toss on a fresh coat of paint, fix all the spelling mistakes and plot holes, and then she'd present that.
Look, all she had to do was pass. And sure, Ava was a bit of an... not an overachiever, but she did like to excel. Ava just didn't like the work that came with excelling. But also the whole school thing had always come kind of easy to her, so she'd never really had to put in the effort to get the reward.
Of course, then she'd come to Hollywood Arts and she did have to admit, everything was way harder here. She'd gone from being a straight A type of student to a solid B student. Such a huge drop in success, right? Well, not like it was any kind of big deal or whatever. She was still passing.
And her grades in her lit classes? Still fucking solid.
That's all they really cared about here she was... pretty sure.
"What about you?" Ava asked with a little nod of her head towards Jules. She dropped her hands from behind her back, her hands slipping lazily into the pockets of her jeans. "You're doing a uhh... dance or some shit with Eli, yeah?"
He nearly gasped aloud at Chas' just... pure, rude, hurtful words directed at Casey's choice in musical uhh... ambience...? Was that the right word? What was the word for when you like, ya know, ya like... the type of music that you liked to create? Or something like that?
Eh, trying to think of the word was kind of hurting his head, so he brushed it off. It was a something or another but regardless, how dare Chas have the audacity to insult Casey's line of work! Like pfft, the Celebrity Rehab star really thought he could insult Casey's cool as fire rock and roll.
"Bland, meaningless rock isn't what we're looking for in the soundtrack. Unless you can channel some film noir ambience, I think we'd be better off consulting another musician." He smiled patronizingly, and had the audacity to rest a hand on Casey's shoulder. "There are plenty of other nobody high schoolers who could fit the bill with more precision."
Pfft, he said, pfft.
And to add that he was pfft-ing away in his head, Casey crossed his arms over his chest with an audible hmpf and a little frown, with a little creasing of the eyebrows. And then to make it even clearer that he wasn't pleased with the words that Chas had spoken, he even said "pfft" aloud with a roll of his eyes.
"Hey, hey, hey," Casey pushed away from the sink, shrugged Chas' hand off of his super broad shoulder because he was definitely super muscular and not a total twig. He lifted his hands in defeat. "I ain't gonna judge ya if ya want some nobody's name on your little film project, but just imagine," -- he moved over to Chas, wrapping an arm around the shorter boy's shoulders and giggling inside because haha, he was so tiny -- "whatever your film's fancy little name is and right under it," with his free hand, he was waving his hand in front of them in one of those just imagine it type fashions like you saw in the movies, but that didn't have the same effect when done in a high school bathroom with no music or special effects, "music done by the one, the only, Casey Quinn Clairmont."
He let go of Chas and stepped away from him, nodding his head with a huge grin on his face, as if that'd convince Chas to change his mind or something. "Imagine how much more attention you'd get. We could be on that ah... that uhh..." he snapped his fingers together as he tried to remember the name, and then it popped into his head, and he pointed his snapping fingers in Chas' direction, "The Today Show. Or ooh that one where they do the little ah, the little music-y battles. Imagine me vs. you, Chas! Bet they give out keyrings, too."
Ah, Casey was totally selling this idea.
See? Casey could be oh so convincing and oh so professional. He didn't even need to threaten to set Chas' fancy clothes or his house on fire or something -- not that he would've. Casey knew that those kind of threats were reserved solely for sisters. He wasn't dumb -- he was just dumb.
... Oh, whatever.
Not that Casey really cared one way or another about this little film project.
He'd forget about it as soon as he found something else shiny on the ground.
Was he doing good on this? Had he made a mistake? He couldn’t really tell. The two doll-like seniors (he was assuming they were, they gave off that kind of vibe) were kinda quiet and just staring at him, and not really smiling. It was making his toes itch a little not knowing what they were thinking and just waiting for an answer, something.
The handsome guy with cheekbones that could cut started talking, then stopped himself, blinking.
Why had he stopped? Did he forget what it was? Was it supposed to be obvious?
They started to exchange looks and Avery’s eyes widened slightly as he watched. Whoa. Was this like one of those telepathic couple moments where they held a conversation without exchanging a single word?
He hurriedly tapped some notes onto his phone, his eyes rapidly switching from his screen to the interaction taking place in front of him.
When he looked up to see the senior guy’s eyes on him, and Avery found himself stopping what he was doing.
His expression barely changed the whole time and he said next to nothing but that one gaze commanded Avery’s attention.
Was this the power of flawlessly good looks? The charisma and magnetism they often portrayed in shows with those slow-motion scenes where they zoomed in on the popular kids and showed how they commanded the room with everyone stopping and staring?
(Yeah it was just a simple look, but Avery has a very overactive imagination and mesmerised by how handsome Saint is.)
The moment was brief, and the senior was soon walking towards the door, the other gorgeous female senior right on his heels.
“Come on…” he said, and Avery instantly followed the command, trailing them slowly. Even the way they walked seemed different, the female senior with her commanding steps and the male senior with his leisurely strides.
It was like he was in a movie, except it was real life, and everything was just so much more exciting.
They just seemed to give off this…aura and they were talking to him, telling him to come along.
In case it wasn’t obvious, he was on cloud nine and throwing a party with this whole school, world outside the family home experience.
“This is one of those things that are better shown not told,” she was smiling as she spoke and whoa, she was so pretty when she did, “Adriane, Saint.” She added, gesturing from herself to the senior boy.
Adriane and Saint. So those were their names. They both sounded so cool, Saint especially. Was he like an actual Saint like Joan of Arc or something?
Avery still had no clue what that mysterious item was, but he couldn’t wait to find out. Anytime he got the chance to add a new experience to his list, he was very excited.
“Where are we going?”
The answer to that question was delivered soon enough as they exited the school and arrived at an empty spot by the parking lot, where the senior boy, Saint stopped.
“Would you like to show him…?” Saint asked Adriane, “Maybe give the thing a try…?”
The thing. Just what was it? With all the present mystery surrounding it was almost like a magic artefact or something like you might find in a fantasy story. It looked surprisingly ordinary, a long white tube that fit in your hand, kind of like a pencil, but without the lead nib or the eraser bottom.
Just what did you do with it?
“Pay attention carefully,” Adriane said as she took the mysterious white tube and placed it between her lips. He was really lucky today. The seniors he had run into were not only incredibly stunning but also so kind, inviting him to join them, showing him the mysterious item and now demonstrating how to use it.
She pulled one of those birthday candle lighters from her pocket – was it maybe some type of candle? It did have that little tip to it like most candles, but then there was no cake – and then she lit it up.
After a moment, she exhaled slowly and then took the candle and passed it to him.
“Just like that—” She said smiling, “you just breathe in,”
Just breathe in. That sounded simple enough.
“Thank you! You’re really kind!” Avery chirped happily like a kid at a candy store as he dropped a peck on Adriane’s cheek, recalling the notes he had taken at lock in about giving thanks, and took the candle from her hands and – whoa. This candle was certainly nothing like the other candles he had held before. It wasn’t as hard, the scent it was emitting was very different from anything he had smelt before and unlike other candles he had seen, this one went into your mouth. Was it like a food item or something? The end hadn’t been bitten off though and it didn’t look like Adriane had been chewing anything.
In a poor attempt at imitation, he brought it to his lips, put it between them, and took a way too deep and quick breath, without the exhale.
Air and a little more, he had no idea what, filled his lungs as he found himself instantly coughing and spluttering, his clumsy fingers fumbling the candle and losing it to the ground.
He’d definitely never experienced anything like that before.
And the taste it left on his tongue, it was like…flavoured air.
This was terrible, these seniors had kindly offered and demonstrated to him what to do and here he was coughing and hacking away like some ungrateful kid.
“I’m sorry,” He said between coughs. “I…cough…I didn’t mean…cough…to drop it.” He took a deep breath, attempting to clear his lungs from the coughing.
“Um, I’ll go buy you a new one right away to make up for it.” Avery managed once he banished the remnants of the cough. Maybe it was the fit he just had, but everything was feeling a little…different.
He’d have to make a trip to a candle store later and hopefully he’d be able to find the right one.
“Where did you get it from or I can pass you the money you need to buy another. Here.” He fumbled for his wallet and pulled out a thick wad of cash, holding it out to the seniors.
“Would this much be enough to buy another one? By the way, I wanted to ask earlier but um are you two a couple? You seemed to have the whole couple’s telepathy going on earlier with silent conversation and it was really cool, plus you look amazing together. Also, the shop lady over at the gift shop nearby sells really nice gifts like forget-me-not flower pins and stuff, she told me to recommend any couples to go to her for gifts but she’s really helpful for getting gifts for friends too. She helped me pick out some awesome gifts for the new friends I made!”
Oh boy, he pecked Adriane on the cheek, dropped her joint and as if he couldn't make things any worse, he's now rambling a mile a minute with a stupid smile on his face. Here’s to hoping the kid doesn’t get his ass completely beat.
She didn’t necessarily care for it. It wasn’t something she tried to involve herself in personally, but as a reporter, drama had its place. And there had been a surprising lack of it lately.
The Gendon scandal broke. Juicy. Entertaining. But of course Evie had to air her dirty laundry to the world. So desperate for relevance. Lydia didn’t understand why she couldn’t just let her skillset speak for itself. Just proved that she had been right all along. Evie was talentless. Nothing more than a Johannes lackey with no identity of her own. It was sad. Pathetic. But none of her business. She only cared because it would have been a great scoop.
Oh well. There’d be something new this week. There always was. At least she hoped there would be. She had the puff piece on the Clairmont Triplets. That’d appease the dean and add weight to her portfolio. But it wasn’t the kind of story she lived for.
She liked a mystery. Something she had to solve like a puzzle. Her therapist —former therapist said it had to do with all of her unanswered questions about who her birth parents were and why they gave her up. No shit, Sheila. Two hundred and fifty dollars an hour for you to reveal the most obvious detail of her psyche? Lydia changed therapists the next week.
Lock-In was...uneventful. Sure, she had almost won the little game she had going with Dalton. It was obvious he was about to cave. She had him right where she wanted him. Even though she definitely, most certainly, did NOT want him. He was a friend. Colleague. Nothing more. Anything else would just complicate things and she was done with complicated relationships.
Everything had been complicated lately.
Her dads had informed her that they would be out of town for her birthday. Not that she was a big fan of birthdays, but they had always made such a spectacle. Even after their divorce, they both had made sure to not let their issues interfere with her day. And she missed them. School and the newspaper had taken over her life. She barely had time for anything else.
It was for the greater good. She just had to remember that. Suffer now. Rewarded later. Her dad taught her that. Not in so many words, but she was sure she got the gist of it.
The rest of the time passed by normally. Newspaper. Class. Investigating. Repeat. Angel’s art showing was a welcomed distraction. Comic Con. Not necessarily where you’d peg Lydia Fox to hangout on a Saturday, but very few people knew about her love for comic books, horror and science fiction. So few she could list them all on one hand if three of her fingers had been bitten off by a radioactive spider.
Lin. Who didn’t care.. And Angel. Who she had threatened to have Robin written out of the comics if he ever whispered a word to anyone about her guilty pleasure. It worked. And it was fun. A breath of fresh air in a sea of otherwise daunting tasks.
Lydia took a deep breath as she pulled into the school parking lot. It was going to be a busy day. She had to come up with a story for the paper and finish a few final details for her project. Figure out how to convince her dads to let her use the lake house this weekend. Yes. She didn’t like her birthday. But that wasn’t going to stop her from having a party.
She pulled into a parking spot and was jolted forward after hearing a large scrape. Fuck. Not again. She placed the car in park and turned off the ignition. “Please don’t be bad. Please don’t be bad.” She stepped out of the car and slowly made her way around toward the front.
Some parking spots had decorative planters. Lydia had taken out three so far. Why did the school insist on trying to beautify a parking lot for a bunch of new drivers was beyond her. She knelt down to assess the damage. This wasn’t going to make the ‘I’m responsible and should be allowed to have a few people at the lake house this weekend’ speech she had planned for her dads.
Had she ignored all of Tori’s attempts to get her attention? Yes. Hand on her arm, ignored. Sigh of exasperation, ignored. The little words of protest and unease? Also ignored.
Mikaela was just full steam ahead on planning this, phone out, calendar open and checking for a free date as Tori expressed her frustration beside her.
“I never agreed to that date, you know.” Tori huffed.
“Oh come on, you’re not going to back out now.” Mikaela shot back, not bothering to look up from her phone as she clicked through the dates. There was arts fest, the winter ball, a couple of parties, her siblings’ visit, therapy…a lot more than she had expected.
“I’m probably busy that day, anyway.”
Cue eye rolls. Busy? Again? It was always like this with Tori, to the point where Mikaela had lost count of the number of times she had heard those words come out of her mouth.
“Like I said, I’m a busy girl, and I don’t have a lot of free time. It’s not like I can just, like…drop everything to go to an amusement park and… Make out with strangers or chug beer or something like that.”
Like hell she couldn’t. Ugh Tori was resisting hard. It was getting a little annoying if she was perfectly honest.
“What a busy little bee you are. Why if I didn’t know better…I would say you’re trying everything you can to try and avoid going out with me. Even the busiest stars have free time.”
Hey, the taunts had proved highly effective once, there was no reason why they couldn’t be again. And well, if all else failed she’d just pounce on Tori one morning, throw her into a sack or whatever if need be and drag her with her. She was sure Beth would be a very willing helper if it came down to it. If not, convincing her would not nearly be the herculean task her older sister was making this turn into.
“Do I need to make an official appointment with you to get even an hour of your time?” Mikaela added. And no, this wasn’t sarcasm, she was being dead serious. If she needed to call a secretary or manager and make an appointment, she’d do it, or well, she’d get her manager to.
“Plus, that’s pretty far away,” Tori continued, “I mean, a lot can change in a couple of weeks, you know. Like…maybe you’ll suddenly decide that this was a terrible idea, that you never wanted to show me how abysmal your ‘having fun’ skills are.”
Abysmal. Pfft. Sure, maybe in the past her definition of fun would begin and end at the rink, but that was the past. Present her? She was great at finding fun. It was easy. You just had to go as wild as humanly possible.
“A lot could change,”Mikaela echoed, “including your ever busy and booked schedule. You might find yourself surprisingly free.”
Or she’d make her free. Couldn’t be that hard to do.
“Maybe you’ll decide, ‘Oh, damn it, Tori’s right, I make bad decisions, I should just calm it down,’ and we can just…I dunno, switch that date up to a tea party or some shit. I’ll buy little party hats, and it’ll all be fancy-schmancy, cutesy, and we’ll just...psh, we'll forget about this little thing.”
Mikaela’s eyebrows went as high as they could go. Well the matter of her not being free seemed to be settled for now since she was offering an alternative, but…
“A tea party?” She repeated incredulously, a snicker starting to form in the back of her throat. “After you just called doing bets and dares at an amusement park child’s play and easy shit, you suggest a tea party?”
“Or…” Tori started to speak faster, smirking, “Ya know, maybe I’ll start internally bleeding or something, and it’ll be like God’s telling you how much of a mistake this ever was and how you need to change your way of life or whatever. She laughed. “Drop the needle and put your hands in the air or your totally-best-friend gets it- type shit, right?”
Change. Yeah right. Mikaela didn’t need to change. She needed…well…she needed something…and drugs, alcohol, going wild...they fit the bill, perfectly…even if that bill was a complete fucking mess that any person in their right mind would throw away
She would have thrown it away if she could…it wasn’t like this was what she really wanted after all…
Whatever, she had more important things to do, like plastering on the right look, leaning back in her chair and bringing a thoughtful finger to her lips so she could set this up right.
“I guess I was right, the amusement park would be too much for you. I should have suggested something more appropriate like a tea party. A tea party is perfect for toddlers.” Like Tori. “None of those other little risks you spoke of too.” Emphasis on little. “I know you’ve done it before and it can be boring to repeat the same stunts but also sometimes” cue one look of sympathy and an equally sympathetic pat on the shoulder, “you just get a bad experience and it proves to be more than you can handle again and I get that. So, you know, since you really don’t want to, we can do something tame and easy that you will be able to handle like a tea party. Don't worry about it.” And then she added a smile that held a touch of pity for the finishing touch.
This was her strategy. Taunt, taunt and taunt until she had provoked Tori into agreeing with the original plan, and if all else failed. Kidnapping. Her siblings had pulled it on her themselves enough times in the past that she was pretty familiar with what went into the whole drill.
Ezra couldn’t help the smirk that tugged on the corner of his lips at Auguste’s subtle reactions to his motions. In the short period of time that Ezra had known the dancer, he had become quite acquainted with how easy it was to get under his skin and how little effort it would take to capture his attention. That’s not to say Auguste was a simple person, in fact he was much more complex than the people Ezra usually spent his time conversing with. But perhaps that is what made him so interesting to Ezra: the fact that Auguste wasn’t like every other person in a school filled with carbon copies and fakes. He enjoyed the authenticity.
He also thoroughly enjoyed how easy it was to remain in control. Relinquishing command over a situation had never much been a strong suit of Ezra’s and Auguste didn’t seem too upset with the fact that Ezra had the tendency to steer every conversation he was in. Control was comfortable to Ez, it spared him the uncomfortable silences or the overly personal questions that he would have to shut down anyways. Control was easy.
“Now it is your turn to hurt me, no? Sad you even have to ask, really.”
Before Ezra had much time to process what had just been said, Auguste was off down the hallway to some unspoken destination. A few long strides after him, Ezra managed to keep pace with Auguste as the pair made their way to Auguste’s own locker just a hallway over from Ezra’s.
“Actually, I have plans to hire you.” Ezra spoke plainly, leaning his tall frame against the locker beside Auguste’s. “If you want the job, that is. I’ve got a lot of little touch-ups and some heavy lifting I may need help with, apparently setting up backdrops and props is a lot more work than I previously anticipated.” Ezra reached up to rub the back of his neck, a personal tell of his that spoke nothing but ‘stress’. “Anyways, you won’t be doing any of the actual artwork or original pieces, just little odds and ends things. But I would really appreciate the help.”
Ezra Gray: the true master of biting off more than he could chew. Maybe the film was just enough to push him over the stressed out ledge, just verging on burned out. Maybe, if it had been anyone else’s film, he would have backed out to focus on his own project. But Ezra wasn’t about to show weakness to anyone, much less to Chas of all people, nor was he about to come off as entirely unprofessional by backing out at the last minute. So there he was, far too energetic for 8am preparing to work on the film. At least this time he was enjoying the work he was doing.
“I tell you: anytime, anywhere, mon frère. Lead the way.”
A genuine smile popped onto Ezra’s face. Well, that was easier than previously anticipated. Here he thought that he was going to have to bribe Auguste for his help.
“Thank you. I appreciate the help, honestly.” Ezra spoke politely. “Come on, I’ll show you the set.”
Heading back down to the main floor, Ezra pushed a large set of doors open and stepped inside the large filming room. Set pieces sat lining the back wall, bins of refurbished props stacked to Ezra’s waist. Grabbing an old paint-stained and clay-dusted button down off of the back of one of the two directors’ chairs, Ezra pulled off his shirt and slung the button down over his shoulders.
“Seems we’re early.” Ez observed as he adjusted the open button down so that it wasn’t caught in the leather of his toolbelt. “Here I thought Chas would be here bright and early. Oh well, more time for us to work. Follow me.”
Walking across the studio, Ezra motioned for Auguste to follow him past a few hung up tarps that served to cordon off his work studio. Paint splattered across the ground, a fine layer of dust from sanding settling on the chairs and tools. His locker may have been clean but his work space was organized chaos.
“Welcome to my humble abode.” Ezra laughed softly as he opened his arms to display the room. “What do you think? Not as fancy as a dance studio, I’m sure. But it has charm.”
Saint watched as Adriane explained and demonstrated to the small boy how to smoke, a slightly bemused expression playing at the corners of his lips as he anticipated the following events. He presumed that the kid would take a hit, cough wildly, hand it back speaking about how disgusting it was, and try to be done with it all, to which Saint would respond by offering it again. The child couldn’t possibly reject it the second time, and from there, it would go in somewhat of a circle.
However, this boy seemed to have even fewer brain cells than Saint had accounted for in his predictions, seeing as he chirped a happy “thank you”, remarked about Adriane’s kindness, and pecked her on the cheek as he took the joint.
Saint blinked, wholly taken aback. He poised a thick eyebrow up, watching for Adriane’s reaction before looking to the boy, who now brought the joint to his lips— and went right into breathing far too deep.
As the child sputtered and hacked, Saint breathed out an amused puff of air. His lips tended towards a smile once more, and he spared another glance at Adriane.
When he looked back to the kid, the joint was on the ground. The boy’s eyes were wide and shocked, and he looked as if he were still processing what’d happened.
“I’m sorry,” coughed the boy. “I…I didn’t mean…to drop it.”
“You dropped it…,” remarked Saint absently.
And the boy was…sorry…? It was pavement. It was far from a big deal. Of course, the boy didn’t know that.
The kid gasped in a large breath of air. “Um, I’ll go buy you a new one right way to make up for it,” he managed. His voice was strained as he obviously held back more coughing.
“Hm…?” Saint asked, and then he realized what the boy had said. “How…thoughtful.” His voice was as deadpan as ever.
“Where did you get it from or I can pass you the money you need to buy another,” Avery said, reaching for his pocket. Saint watched with a stoic expression as the boy…fumbled…for money…? Was that what he was doing…? “Here.” He held out a thick wad of cash for Saint and Adriane.
Saint stared at him for a moment, processing everything that was going on, and then he reached out for the wad of cash in his slow manner, taking it in his hands. He studied it, and his brows knit with mild confusion.
The boy had dropped a joint on dry, clean pavement, coughed a bit, and was now apologizing and offering far too much money for what was in that joint. However, Saint was not going to comment on the oddness of this situation.
“Would this much be enough to buy another one?” Avery asked.
Saint lifted his eyes to the boy. The answer was a resounding yes, but the child seemed almost eager to fork over some more. “Maybe…but I don’t think this is enough to pay for all of the trouble you’ve caused us, too,” he said, eyeing his wallet and then looking back to his face before glancing at the brunette beside him. “What do you think, Adriane…?” he asked.
“By the way,” Avery began again, and Saint looked down at the boy once more, “I wanted to ask earlier but um are you two a couple?”
Saint’s dead gaze remained unfazed and uninterrupted for a moment, and then he blinked as the words registered. His brows slowly meshed downward. “Come again…?”
“You seemed to have the whole couple’s telepathy going on earlier with silent conversation and it was really cool, plus you look amazing together,” continued the boy.
“We…?” Saint inclined his head slightly. “Telepathy….?”
“Also—“ The boy didn’t seem to shut up. “— the shop lady over at the gift shop nearby sells really nice gifts like forget-me-not flower pins and stuff, she told me to recommend any couples to go to her gifts but she’s really helpful for gifts for friends too. She helped me pick out some often gifts for the new friends I made!”
Avery spoke a mile a minute, continuing on a wild, unwarranted tangent, and Saint stared at him, face returning back to its unamused, stony resting position. He took a long moment after the child finally stopped talking to process everything.
And then Saint sighed softly. “That’s presumptuous of you…” was all that he said before looking over to Adriane.
From what he knew about the girl, she’d surely have something to say. He’d rather let her do most of the talking.
outside the school, beside the parking lot
Lock-in? Fucking smash hit. Lin’d won a race and gotten a clown nose and a two-dollar bill, trashed a classroom with two of the fucking coolest people on planet earth, went exploring in a storage shed all Indiana Jones adventurer style, and broke some fucking wrecks outta a classroom after watching them nearly murder each other. Coulda been a hundred dollars richer, too, if Genny wasn’t such a total bitch, but ehhh, shit happened, and that didn’t keep that from being totally fucking sick.
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, and.
Okay, okay, okay.
Guys, guys, guys.
You needed to take a seat for this shit. You were not fucking ready for it.
‘kay, were you sitting down? Were you cozy? Comfy? Got your little rat dog in your lap? Stirring your wine? Twirling your mustache?
Aight, fucking sick.
Okay, here it came:
Lindsay Kay had lost his virginity in a motherfucking tea cup.
‘Nuff said, luhmao.
Dreams did come true. Never let anyone tell you fucking different. You wanna have sex in a teacup? You have sex in a teacup. Just dream it hard enough, man. Worked for him, luhmao.
Anyway, the lock-in’d kinda set a little bit of a precedent for how the next week had gone. Between the eleven pm candy runs, dance parties with Mitsubishi, days spent with Zeph and Charlie, and getting away with snatching Mrs. Birtha’s Thanksgiving wreath from her door and mounting it on the back of his own, last week was one for the fucking books. Maybe having sex in a teacup was, like, some part of some kinda ritual or some shit. Maybe he’d inadvertently sacrificed his appendix or something when he’d lost his v in the tea, but shrug. Yolo, luhmao.
But then Sunday had come, and it was just kinda a storm of bullshit.
Somehow, his dad had caught wind that Lin had been— uh, how did the fucker put it? “Neglecting your Arts Fest performance”. Some shit like that. Like, yeah, Lin hadn’t touched the song he was gonna be performing in…uh…since the day that the date for this year’s Arts Fest was announced or whatever, but so? He knew the words— fucking masterful lyrics— and he knew the chords. He could sing it fine, ‘cuz he was a fucking master. He didn’t need to work on it. He was just built different. However, Pricky Worstbastard didn’t seem to get that shit, and the next two hours— Lin had the fucking receipts to prove it, it was literally two hours, five minutes, thirty-three seconds— his father had fucking chewed him out in his nonchalant way.
He always managed to get Lin to fucking give in, too, and Lin had promised him to work for the next week straight on the song.
”Nothing after school, then, Lindsay. Do you hear?” Pricky’d said.
“Nothing?!” Lin’d been speaking in his kinda dull, “yeah, yeah, I hear you” way, but then, he was yelling.
You had to be fucking kidding him— nothing?!
“Nothing,” repeated Pricky. ”I expect you to be up at the school, working. I’ll be speaking with your instructor to make sure this happens.”
”Yes, sir,” Lin had agreed.
And now, he was fucking stuck, practicing before and after school, during his free periods, during pretty much every free moment on this dumbass song that he already knew by heart, that he already knew that he could do fucking perfect. It was bullshit.
But it was fine, he guessed. It wasn’t anything that Lin couldn’t handle.
Duh. Lin could handle everything. He wasn’t no bitch.
Plus, it wasn't like Lin wasn't used to getting outta shit like this. He'd find a way, luhmao. Psh, no biggie, no sweat.
It was like a brain game, you know. An in-person escape room. And he was fucking bomb at escape rooms.
Oh, yeah, and he’d had to dress “normal” ‘cuz his dad was sending one of his little minions or whatever to come “help him out” after school, which was dumb as shit. So what if she was a “professionally-trained vocal coach who was used to dealing with troubled teenagers like yourself, Lin”? Lin wasn’t a fucking “troubled teen”. There were a lotta kinds of teens that Lin fit the bill of. Dopeass teens? Hell yeah, Lin was a dopeass teen. Teens-who-lost-their-virginity in a teacup? Fuck yeah, Lin was a teen-who-lost-his-virginity-in-a-teacup every fucking day. He woke up and lived that life.
But troubled teen? Bitch. What kinda ship did his dad think he ran here? Like, come the fuck on, man.
Now, Richard’s high-traction wheels tore into the school’s parking lot. Lin had ripped the balloons off and taped them to his closet door as a moment, but the ribbons still remained, trailing behind the bike as he whipped up to the bike rack. He wore the same, crooked grin as he always did, laughing softly beneath his breath. Even though his old bastard was determined to make this week hell for him, Lin wasn’t gonna let that happen.
He kicked down his brakes, then hopped off of his bike and walked it into the rack. He latched it up, as always, and he began whistling an offkey version of “Take On Me”.
Lin froze in his spot, jerking his head around to see where the ear-splitting noise metal against metal had come from, lips pulled into a cringe. His eyes caught on a familiar-ash vehicle with a large scrape in the side. He couldn’t really place whose vehicle it was, though, so he went closer to inspect.
“Duuuude,” he drawled, his voice full of shock at first before it began to bounce with laughter. He could see, even from where he was, that the planter was bent. He still didn’t see the driver or anyone nearby, so they were probably around the front or the back or something. He cackled as he moved towards the front of the vehicle. “You got fucking ripped tonight. RIP that parsley, ayy.”
His eyes caught on the damage first. “Bro, Mariana Trench looking aaaass,” he laughed, and then—
“Oh shitty titties.”
It was fucking Lydia’s vehicle.
Made sense why it looked familiar, luhmao.
And also why it was wrecked into a planter.
He laughed, and he reached out to feel of the damage. “Yo,” he greeted casually, and then he grinned back at her. “Scale of one to Leo DiCaprio on the Titanic, how fucking dead do you think you’re gonna be?” He cackled. "Karma's a bitch, but so are you, luhmao. Did you order this, Lyd? 'cuz you just got fucking seeeeeeerved."
Although Adriane had never played sports, she was very much a fan of the three strikes and you're out play. It was a scale that she liked to base a majority of her interactions on -- although very rarely did people ever get to the point of hitting three strikes before Adriane would go off on them.
Like Angel. He'd been at two strikes -- strike one had been drawing her without her permission, strike two had been approaching her in a completely unwarranted fashion. Well... and then strike three had been asking her out, so she supposed that he had hit the three strikes and you're out rule.
But the boy before?
Oh had he overstepped.
Bad style? Strike one.
Approaching her? Strike two.
Dropping her joint? Strike three.
Kissing her? Strike four.
Assuming she was dating Saint? Eww, gross. Strike five.
Being just generally annoying and disgusting to look at? Well, she'd make that a strike six so that she could justify not one but two strike outs.
The little boy had already handed money across to them, and Saint had taken all of it. Her eyes narrowed as she glared back at him, but she could discuss the splitting of the cash with him later. Not that Adriane really needed the money, but after this? Oh, after this, she needed all of the retribution she could get.
"Avery," she said as she looked back at him and now, Adriane leaned forward so that her face was just mere inches from his. Her lips had curled back into a smile that, on anyone else, might've looked nice, friendly, or whatever, but on Adriane? It just looked cruel. "It's oh so nice of you to provide us with some kind of cash after you so rudely threw my joint onto the ground. Honestly, if you can't keep up with us? Why are you here wasting our time?"
She stooped down to pick up the joint between two fingers. She straightened up, turning the joint over in her fingers. One arm crossed over her stomach while her arm holding the joint dropped to hang by her side. Without the joint to occupy her vision, her ice cold gaze was locked back on Avery.
"You're lucky that you ran into Saint and I," she hissed, "because if it had been anyone else in this school, you would've been put through a window, or just snapped in half and tossed in the dumpster like the trash you are. Do you think anyone would actually miss you if that happened? Spoiler: the answer is no. Your parents are probably as disappointed as the rest of the world that that bullet didn't end your pathetic, miserable little life. There's enough waste of spaces at this school as it is, the last thing we needed was another one."
Adriane leaned forward again so she was face to face with the little boy once more. Her expression had downturned into a cold look of pure hatred. "I'm going to give you one warning," she whispered, her tone sharp enough to cut skin. "If you ever try to kiss me again, I will make sure that I am the last thing that you will see. And since you're oh so dense and dumber than the pedovan loser, let me break it down for you: I will claw your eyes out. I will beat your face so far in that you'll be lucky to keep breathing. And if you ever try to imply that I am dating Saint or anyone else, I will not hesitate to crush your throat. Do you understand me?"
Her words were slow, pointed, and edged with venom.
"Now, to make it up to me?"
She held the joint out to him.
"You're going to pay us twice what you already gave Saint, and then you're going to smoke this entire thing, because it is just so wrong to let it go to waste. Got it?"
something hot, stylish, and probably barely school appropriate
Tori put her white Saint Laurent purse on the table and unlatched the buckle dramatically. She tried to maintain an indifferent, disinterested expression as she began to dig through the handbag for her trusty, year-old tube of vanilla Chapstick. The thing had seen her through countless conversations, mostly as a prop to gesture with. After all, there was nothing that said I’m the one in charge here like pulling out a tube of Chapstick in the middle of a conversation— a wrapped tube of Chapstick at that.
“Do I need to make an official appointment with you to get even an hour of your time?” Mikaela asked.
“Ugh,” Tori scoffed. “You know, maybe.” She laughed softly. “I have a little book of dates and times at home.” She pulled her hand from her purse to mime that she was opening a book. She tapped an invisible pencil on her chin. “I could pencil you down for 7:30 next Thursday, but I think that’s the best that I can do,” she joked, looking at Mikaela. “Take it or leave it.”
With a roll of the eyes and another soft laugh, she went back to looking for the elusive Chapstick tube, failing to keep her indifferent expression as she tagged her hand with various, surprisingly-sharp pens and pencils. Fuck, she really needed to clean this thing out.
“A lot could change,” Mikaela said, echoing Tori’s sentiment, and Tori’s lips began to twinge towards a smile. She opened her mouth to express her contentment that Mikaela, ever the contrarian, was finally agreeing to something, but Mik proved her wrong before she could even get the words out of her mouth. “Including your ever busy and booked schedule.” Tori huffed. “You might find yourself surprisingly free,” Mik said.
“Or the world might end.” Tori shrugged. “You never know, right?”
And then, I’ll be spared of whatever the hottest, new STD of the day is, and I won’t have to have chunks of hot dogs thrown up on me, and I won’t have to endure your constant pestering, ugh. Wouldn’t that be nice? I’m praying for a miracle.
“Or, again…” Tori’s hands finally caught on the Chapstick, and she pulled it out to point at Mikaela with it. She made a swirl in the air. “You might just suddenly decide to have a tea party instead. Didn’t you know I was a psychic? I see reversion back to princess-themed tea party days in your future, Mikky.” She tapped the cap of her Chapstick on the table. “Trust me on that one.”
Mik’s eyebrows raised. “A tea party?” she repeated incredulously. She snickered. “After you just called doing bets and dares at an amusement park child’s play and easy shit, you suggest a tea party?”
“I—“ Tori’s grip on her Chapstick loosened as she searched for her words. Her eyes darted around, glancing the ceiling and then at the table, and then she finally looked back at Mikale with a scoff and an indignant sniff. “Absolutely the fuck not,” she said. “I’m not suggesting any kind of tea party— I just said that you were totally going to suddenly suggest that one day because of some…I dunno, divine fating or some shit. Don’t shoot the messenger.” She knit her brows in mock sympathy, laughing softly. “I know it’s hard news to handle, but I feel like it’ll be better for you in the long run.”
Tori felt a slight swell of pride in her chest. Ugh, she was handling this so well right now. Literally, look at her go. So fucking impressive, right?
“Literally, it won’t be me chickening out,” Tori continued. “It’s like…I won’t complain if you want me to accompany you on your tea partying journey. It could be fun, I guess.” She shrugged. “Any time is a fun time with Victoria, so, like, I wouldn’t blame you. In fact, I’d honestly prefer that to the whole amusement park thing.” She waved her Chapstick in the air dismissively. “Because it’s like…so cliche. So overdone. I mean, dares at the amusement park. Who hasn’t been there, done that? Like…” She trailed off, rolling her eyes. “Seriously.”
There, that should have been enough to get Mikaela to leave her alone about it.
(Spoiler alert: it wasn’t; it was just Tori’s wishful thinking again.)
Mikaela leaned back in her chair, bringing a finger to her lips. “I guess I was right.”
“About…?” Tori raised an eyebrow.
“The amusement park would be too much for you,” Mikaela said.
Tori stared at her. “I—…”
“I should have suggested something more appropriate like a tea party.” Mik’s voice was breezy, with a I knew it all along tone to it. Tori’s brow ticked down huffily. “A tea party is perfect for toddlers.”
“T— hey!” Tori began defensively, crossing her arms, but Mik continued as if she hadn’t heard Tori at all.
“None of those other little risks you spoke of too. I know you’ve done it before and it can be boring to repeat the same stunts but also sometimes…” Mikaela’s face grew wrought with sympathy, and she reached out and patted Tori’s shoulder. “…you just get a bad experience and it proves to be more than you can handle again and I get that.”
Tori’s face turned downwards, her lips pursing as she eyed Mikaela, offended and suspicious.
“So, you know, since you really don’t want to, we can do something tame and easy that you will be able to handle like a tea party,” Mik said. “Don’t worry about it.” She smiled.
Tori’s brows knit lower. “Mikaela…!” she began, and she searched for some kind of way out of this. “I…,” she started, and then she breathed out a long sigh through her nose.
Oh, fuck it. She couldn’t find one that could still keep her pride intact.
She held up her Chapstick. “Number one,” she sulked, “I can handle anything. Anything you want to throw at me, I’ve got fucking down. It’ll be you who’s too, like…pus—…chicken or whatever to go through with it.” The other word was too vulgar, and she couldn’t bring herself to say it. “Number two, don’t patronize me.” She let out a huff. “I’m not a fucking toddler. And, like…number three, nothing about me is tame or easy. Get it right.” She rolled her eyes, sitting up straight in her chair.
“Here.” She held out the yet-to-be-unwrapped Chapstick. “You can take this as my, like…promise or whatever— my, like, yeah, yeah, I’ll humor you. And— and— cross my heart and fucking swear it…” She made an x over her heart and then continued. “I’ll do anything you ask me to.” She was quick to correct herself: “As long as it’s not drugs. I am not explaining to Beth why I’m driving to a crackhouse at two in the morning or why I’m suddenly looking through denture brochures.” And then she realized how that made her sound— like a fucking prude— so she sighed, rolled her eyes, and added, “At least, no drugs this first time or whatever. Sound like a deal?”
Kian looked blankly at the girl in front of him as he tried to remember what he had been doing before she showed up. After all, it would be impossible to be a bother to someone who really had nothing better to do. Had he been going to practice or to class? Was he supposed to be meeting someone? Fuck if he knew.
“Nah, you’re good.” Kian eventually managed with a dismissive wave. “What’s shakin’?”
A proud smile burst onto Kian’s face as soon as the girl confirmed that she was, in fact, Amy. Look, the guy was notoriously horrible with names so the very fact that he remembered her name correctly after half of an interaction with the girl was absolutely incredible. Honestly, he was really moving up in the world.
“...My phone is dead, so I can't call them, and they got to school earlier than I did. And I could just really use someone to talk to right now."Oh shit, she was still talking. Right, he forgot that people typically responded when asked what was up. Unfortunately while Kian had been off in his own little world, Amy had been describing people who apparently were nowhere to be found that, realistically, Kian wouldn’t have been able to help find anyhow. "I-uh disregard that last part."
The subtle embarrassment that was laced in Amy’s tone was enough for Kian to actually return to his senses and pay attention to the situation at hand. Clearly she was going through something and clearly she needed someone. Kian wasn’t great at being a someone but hey, he was at least going to make a decent attempt at making her feel better.
“Nope, sorry. I haven’t seen ‘em.” Kian spoke calmly, his fingers wrapping around the straps of his backpack. “But I do have a charger, I think. It’s with my guitar in the music room if you want it.”
Luckily, the music room wasn’t far and still sat empty with the exception of some kid in the back corner passed out with their headphones on. Kian held the door open for Amy before stepping inside the room himself and making his way over to where his guitar case sat against a chair. Flipping the case open, Kian grabbed the black charger inside and held it out to Amy.
“Here, hopefully it’s compatible.” Kian said with a warm smile as he plopped down onto one of the leather sofas against the back wall. “Hey, um, if you need someone to talk to, we have a bit of time before class? I may not be great at giving advice and I'm certainly not one of the people you were looking for but I’m absolutely killer at listening. Besides, everyone’s late to this class anyways. No eavesdropping.”
Charlie stumbled slightly as the books were lifted from her arms. Before her brain could register what Dalton had just said, though it sounded like an agreement, he was gone down the hallway and almost out of sight. Charlie simply stood there for a minute, streams of students moving around her as her mind reeled to catch up with the situation.
Okay, she was still alive, that was a good thing. Plus, her face was still intact. Double the points, man, because this was going better than she had anticipated. On top of all of that lovely stuff, Charlie was like 99.9% sure that Dalton had agreed to let her help him.
“Keep up.” Dalton called out over his shoulder as he went to turn down the hallway, leaving Charlie completely stopped in her tracks. Yeah, he had definitely agreed to let her help. “And next time drop the speech and just get to the point. Don’t use me as a soundboard to practice your presidential campaign speech.”
“Right-o.” Charlie called back as she jogged to catch back up with him.
Dipping into the library, Charlie waved to the librarian who sat stacking books onto a cart. She had lost sight of Dalton on the stairs, stuck behind two overly tall guys that made it impossible for her to keep Dalton in her view no matter how much she craned her neck. So, she was left to search around bookcases and crevices in a failed attempt to find her student. There he was, tucked in the back of the library behind bookcases and desks away from view. Charlie frowned at the sight though she quickly changed her expression. Was he trying to hide from people out of embarrassment?
“Okay, rule number one,” Charlie started, huffing as she plopped down into the seat across from Dalton. “If we’re going somewhere together, slow the hell down. I’m gonna pop a fucking hip if you go all Speedy Gonzales on me every time we’re going somewhere.” Reaching out, Charlie grabbed her books and slid them towards her, a textbook falling open with a rather loud thump. “Not that we’re going to be making a habit of spending time together. If I do my job correctly, you’ll get the grades you want in no time at all.”
Right in her element, Charlie flipped open notebooks and textbooks and pencil cases in a meticulous fashion, an academic ritual to start every tutoring session. Lucky pencil to her left, eraser, white-out, and pen to her right, water bottle and calculator in front of her, bag resting by her left leg. Everything being in the same position all the time made it easy to work, the familiarity removing the time needed to hunt things down from the session.
“Alrighty,” Charlie began as she was unpacking her things, “I gotta know what I need to teach you which means I gotta know what you don’t understand. Teachers normally give out some sort of study guide or a syllabus to help structure a course. Or maybe practice questions for your test tomorrow? If you have any of those things, that would be real helpful. If not, we can just sorta guess at what we’re supposed to be doing and hope for the best. I don’t make a habit of going in blind, though, I like to know what I’m getting myself into.”
Charlie looked around, breathing a soft sigh as she noticed that no one else had settled near them. Leaning forwards, Charlie reached out and placed a reassuring hand on Dalton’s shoulder.
“And hey, you don’t have to be embarrassed or weary about this whole tutoring thing. Everyone needs help sometimes and as I said before, I’m not gonna tell anyone that this even happened.” Charlie attempted to reassure, dropping her hand and leaning back in her chair. “We’ll get you those grades. But I need you to trust me and be honest about what you don’t understand. You can do this, I think your teacher just sucks ass at her job.”