Lin could handle his alcohol just about as well as he remembered; five drinks fully in, he was absolutely plastered, but he was having a shit ton of fun. He was past the point of just drunk enough to feel a buzz (he was past that after the first drink), he was past the point of I still know kind of what's going on (drink two), he was past the point of hm, well, at least I can remember what was happening earlier (drink three), he was past the point of I'm still aware of what my body feels (drink four), and he was to the point of I don't know what the hell is going on and I'm HERE FOR IT.
Charlie was drunk, Ash was drunk, Trevor was drunk, Amy was drunk, they were all drunk; the music was so loud that he could feel it in his chest, could feel it in his head, could feel it seeping into his brain and spilling out of every pore.
He felt good now mostly because Charlie felt good now-- the alcohol, too, but Charlie mostly. It was good to see her smile and laugh and dance and sing after that time of her hurting today.
And, just like that, she wasn't smiling, and his eyes followed her gaze to a boy walking through the door.
When he looked back at Charlie, his face read pure worry.
He could fucking feel what was going to happen next, and he kinda wanted it to happen, kinda didn't.
Before he could stop her, Charlie was rushing towards Chas-- and none of his brain was working right now, so, of course, he followed.
Their words were smudged in his head, but he could tell one sentiment:
And as Charlie spouted her anger, he could feel some of his own anger growing in his chest. Over what, he didn't understand exactly.
But Charlie was upset, so no-thoughts-head-dizzy Lin was upset.
Then there was a drink in Charlie's face, and Lin gaped.
His own anger was filling out more.
Charlie reacted before he could, and by reacted, he meant began to pummel the dude.
"Charlieeee, yeah! Show him who's boss!" he cheered loudly, his anger manifesting itself in the absolute volume of his yells. "Beat his ass!"
He wanted to join in, but he figured, in his ultra-major drunk-ness, that he'd get hurt more, so he stood, cheering Charlie on, loudly and proudly, as if this was a game that she was winning rather than her killing a guy
If there was one thing that Trevor was, it was a--...
Well, a tense, overbearing pothead.
Alright, time to try that again.
If there were two things that Trevor was, it was a tense, overbearing pothead and a fun drinker.
The former usually melted away when the latter came up, which was now.
It took quite a bit to get the Irishman-- Irishboy (was that a word?)-- drunk, and really, the drinks that he had in him were hardly enough to get him to that fun point.
But he was basically at the fun point.
Well, fun point was blackout drunk.
He wasn't blackout drunk.
But he was fun now! Judgement? Impaired. Thoughts? Hardly existent.
Okay, so she was hot before, but now the more drinks in and the longer that they stood and laughed and just had fun together-- they being he and Amy and Charlie and Lin and Ash and whatever NPCs had decided to join in in their fun little entourage-- the more he found his eyes glued to Ash, the more he found his gradually-looser lips chatting with her, and the more and more he considered meeting her lips with his own.
But hey! He wasn't at that fun point-- so he was still (vaguely) conscious of his actions.
So his body stayed close to Ash while his lips stayed away-ish.
He was so enveloped in his fun-having that he didn't notice when Charlie had left the group (and Lin subsequently following). Really, he didn't notice anything awry.
And then, suddenly, a little bit of...what was the word-- chaos registered in his head.
He looked in the direction of the noise, and he felt his nerves immediately ramp up and a headache begin to develop
And when he saw what was happening in said little cluster.
Before it fully registered what he was going, he was in the group, the adrenaline running through his veins giving him the confidence to pull Charlie back by her shoulders and hold on with all of his might, as if he were a father.
He forcibly turned her towards himself. "Charlie, look at me," he said firmly, staring into her eyes. "Look at me!" He held her tightly, refusing to let go. It seemed that he'd been saving all of his strength his entire life for this moment. "Listen!"
He stared her intensely in the eyes, his face set. "You? Ya'aren't going to pull this kinda shit. Yer going to regret it tomorrow and yer going to say 'why didn'cha stop me?'." He gave her a gentle shake of frustration and stood up taller. "Yer going home. We're fucking walking home. We're going home, we're going ta sleep, and we're not going ta make any more regretful decisions." He released his grip on her. "Now let's go."
He began to walk off, looking back and giving a "come on", and he walked back by the table to pick up his tote of alcohol, figuring that she was just following behind him.
Seb didn't know what he was doing here. Back at school, when he was getting on his bike, about to head home and then got caught up in texting Chas, coming to the party had seemed like a great idea. He and Chas had cleared the air, Seb was feeling just a tiny bit better as a result of Lake's comfort, and he even had Charlie's unwavering support, despite how much she disliked Chas. And he was a normal, happy kid - he'd force himself to be one if he had to - and normal kids went to parties. Normal kids didn't feel like they wanted to go home and lay in bed and just stop functioning for a while. Or forever. And goddamnit, Seb was going to act like a normal kid if it killed him.
And yet here he was, staring at the door to Kordei's penthouse, contemplating leaving. Because he didn't know if he'd be welcome. Chas could be sweet all he liked over Twitter, but what if he saw Seb and ran the other way? What if he walked in and everyone stared like in those awful movies? What if they could all tell that he didn't really want to be there? No, you do want to be here, because you're a normal kid. God, normal was exhausting. Seb decided that he'd just go in, see how the vibe was, and if he hated it or couldn't find Chas, he'd just leave. Yeah, that seemed like a perfectly competent and normal plan.
With only another couple seconds of overthinking, Seb pushed the door open and walked in, then promptly regretted every decision he'd made that led him here. There was a massive crowd forming around... something, and Seb contemplated just leaving, but then he heard Lin yelling something about Charlie. Oh, fuck, what if it was Charlie in there doing something stupid? Lake had asked him to check in... Against his better judgement, Seb rushed over, pushing through the crowd of people and getting ready to help Charlie in whatever way he could.
Then he froze, because Charlie was certainly not the one who needed his help there. He stared at Chas on the ground, face bloody with Charlie on top of him, and at first his mind just went blank. Then he was hit with an adrenaline rush and felt so fucking panicked he thought he might pass out. Trevor rushed forward at the same time he did, and Seb was actually grateful for that, because his first priority right now was Chas. As soon as Charlie was off of him, Seb was pulling him up and supporting him, trying to gauge how bad his injuries were. "Jesus fucking..." he muttered under his breath, scanning Chas' face before wrapping an arm around his waist to keep him upright as he turned to look at Charlie, expression one of disappointment, rage and betrayal. He continued to watch Charlie even as Trevor walked away, holding his free arm out in front of Chas as if to protect him. "Walk the fuck away," he told Charlie, his voice shaking just a little.
MOOD: too depressed for this shit
LOCATION: kordei's party
OUTFIT: Dark green hoodie, black skinny jeans, dark blue sneakers
The night in her eyes was going great! Then again her eyes were starting to blur from the fact she was an incredible light weight. She was nothing like her friends because this scene wasn't usually her seen. Normally she'd have been the DD while they all got drunk and had fun. Maybe sipping on one really fruity and sweet drink through the whole night. So this five...six...who knows how many shots she'd taken by this point? Had really gotten to her. she was sure tonight wasn't going to register in her mind, and maybe that was a good thing.
She wasn't sure what was going on with Dei, or any of the other drama that was happening around her, because she was having too much fun drinking with her friends. She was so happy she was dancing, spilled the beans about her actually owning glasses, she was pretty sure she was on the verge of puking at one point (still was), and she was sure there was more but her memory was non-existent. She just knew she was happy.
That was until Charlie disappeared from her side. She didn't get to see her face when she left so she assumed she might be going to say hi to someone or get a different kinda drink...maybe water before her best friend dies of alcohol poisoning. Then Lin followed after and in her brain she winked at the two, but she might've just actually been blinking awkwardly because her body was past the point of listening to her. The only reason she'd not gone to the bathroom yet was because her legs were jelly and she wasn't sure if they were gonna work for her right now.
Then just like that her little bubble burst because she heard the commotion of the party get wilder, and normally that wouldn't matter. It's a party right? But the frantic way Trevor ran off caught her attention. So she managed to slowly turn around to see the crowd. It was only hearing Lin's chanting that gave her the strength to move towards it. 'Did he say charlie beat his ass'? Oh god, oh no!
She wobbled her way over and wiggled her way through the crowd getting pushed to the ground in all the chaos but she got a front row seat to the show. Charlie was in fact beating some guys ass and that guy was Chas. Amy had very mixed emotions stirring inside of her.
On the one had she felt Chas deserved it. He was an extreme asshole all the time to 95% of the student body, and she hated it. She tried to be civil since they had to work together on student council but she left he was a terrible person still, and cruel to those who had to follow him. So she wanted to Cheer beat his ass too. On the other hand they were in Dei's place, and Chas was one of his best friends which means this was NOT the time or place to beat his ass. And she hoped on a prayer that Dei didn't make his way over here and see.
She was thankful beyond compare that Trev was sober-ish enough to pull Charlie off of Chas and start moving them out of the party and back home. Her heart sank when Seb just so happened to rush to Chas's side. She knew Charlie had tried so hard to comfort him. She glared at him at his words, "Don't fucking antagonize her more!" She spat out at him. She felt for Seb she really did, but as much as you might love a shitty person you can't be mad when they get what they deserve for being a shitty person. You can love them through it, but you can't be mad when someone has had enough of being treated like dog shit by someone.
Charlie had been through so much tonight trying to nice and caring, and understanding for everyone! Defending people who wronged her, and this was her reward. She hated it, and she hated these people for the way they treated Charlie. She hated how fast they'd turn on someone. There was NO loyalty in this place. She was there for Seb when he was having a break down almost missing her performance for him, and now he had the audacity a few hours later to say some shit to her? "After how she was there for YOU tonight when HE wasn't, RUSHING to your side so YOU wouldn't be alone! Don't you fucking dare." her eyes filled with drunken rage.
Now she was no Charlie, she wasn't about to fight Seb...not that she could even if she was sober because that's just not who she was, but her drunken state gave her the confidence to at least for once fully speak her mind without trying to be logical, or tactful, or civil. Just her, just her protectiveness over her loved ones, just her feelings which she usually wasn't the best at letting out. She wanted to get up when Trevor mentioned they were all going home, but now that she was on the floor she was convinced that up there was too high for her.
So she sat there and waved motioning as if she'd be there in a moment...she would not. All these emotions, all this liquid poison in her blood, she felt so sick. She covered her mouth with her hand trying to keep it all in (as if that would help if it didn't). She wasn't even sure she had the strength to crawl to the bathroom...or if she had the time. She just sat there closed her eyes tight and held onto herself hoping the feeling would pass and then she could go hide the rest of the night in either the room or the bathroom. Whichever she made it to first.
One minute, every was enjoying life. The drinks were flowing, life was happy, and she was smiling. This may have been the first time in a while that she felt so... alive? Happy? Yeah, that was it. Just blissfully happy without a single care in the world. It had been a rough night, so to have this moment where it felt like the whole ordeal could turn around was nice.
She was pretty sure she had won the bet with Lin, although at some point they had stopped counting drinks. Charlie actually looked like she was enjoying herself, and Amy was Amy. It was always nice to be able to drink with the other girl.
And, like, there was Trevor. She found herself next to him for most of the night. Weird, but true. Ash knew she was looking at him more than was customary for friends, especially with a friend that she had literally said she hardly knew earlier that evening. But she couldn't help it and maybe her cheeks were a little hot, but that was just the alcohol. Probably.
Charlie and then Lin walked off, but Ash didn't turn to see where they were going. Instead, she just smiled and went back to whatever the current conversation was. Or her drink. To be honest, everything happening right now was hard to keep up with. And she probably would've missed the fight, except that Trevor stepped away from her.
Confused, she turned to see where he was heading off to... just in time to see Charlie beating Chas half to death. Her eyes widened and Ash figured she should do something, but she froze up like a deer in the headlights. Her grip tightened on the cup in her hand and she was just... frozen. Ash didn't handle fighting well. It made her tense. It made her panic.
At least someone here was still together enough to do something, and she watched as Trevor pulled Charlie off of Chas.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
Okay, okay, so Chas was bleeding but at least Charlie was off of him and Trevor seemed to have this under control. Thank god.
Ash set her cup down on the nearest table and headed over to see what was going on -- and give Lin a dirty look since he had been cheering her on -- and caught the end of Trevor's lecture. Home, sleep, no more regrets. Yep. Sounded about like how the rest of the night needed to go. However, Ash wasn't sure if that included her and Lin.
However, Eli wasn't there, so Ash didn't actually have anyone else to take her home. So she hesitantly trailed after Trevor, Charlie, and Lin as they exited the apartment. She waited until they were outside, and then gave Charlie a tight hug. "He totally deserved it. Good job." she whispered to the other blonde before letting go and starting the long walk back to the apartment.
Okay, maybe not that long. But when you're already exhausted from cheering at the game coupled with being super drunk, every step felt like torture. Ash had to stop far too often to stare at the sky and question her life choices. Such as, why had she decided to challenge Lin to a drinking competition? Why hadn't she just stuck with her previous plan of eating ice cream and chilling with Eli and Jeffrey? And even better, why didn't she bring a change of clothes just in case this happened?
Sure, it was LA. But it was also late at night and Ash was in the stupid cheer uniform. So now she was drunk, tired, and cold. Honestly, it was a recipe for a horrible night.
Uhh... not as horrible as Chas or Charlie's night, though, of course.
Eventually, after what felt like an eternity (but was probably more like twenty minutes) they managed to make it to the apartment. Ash didn't think she'd ever felt happier than she did following their little gang into the apartment, and finally, finally, being able to walk over and collapse onto their couch.
Of course Chas was bluffing. When was he not? This gambit was particularly risky, to say the least. Chas' judgement had been clouded enough by Charlie's words, pricking him and pinching his nerves like invasive little insects. The laughs were more than genuine; he really was amused by the girl's idiotic display of aggression, but they also served as a device to cloak his fear. He didn't want a fight. That wasn't to say he wasn't pissed or instigating Charlie, but his own pride often took priority over his sense of self-preservation. Chas was not a quitter. He would see this through to the end, however well he knew this was working entirely against him. And whether Charlie could see it or she just didn't care was beyond him. Maybe... maybe if he just went a little further, she'd break. Lose her nerve. Or, maybe, someone would intervene. This entire ploy was riding on the gamble that the orange soda-vodka mixture in Charlie's face would catch her too off guard.
But, unfortunately, luck was not on Chas' side today. Sure, she lost her composure. But she didn't break down or run away. It was the Italian boy's mistake in thinking her natural response wouldn't be to come back in full force, like some sort of blonde, drunken phoenix. She responded with a sharp remark and slowly closed in on him. He stood tall, his unwavering gaze eclipsing the anxiety and frustration that the battle had not yet been won. And so the game continues. What's she gonna say now? Chas smirked wickedly, readying himself for-
OOUGH! Instinctively, after being kneed in the balls, Chas toppled backwards, crumpling inwards as he protected the sensitive area. He was already on his way to the ground when Charlie tackled him, sending him slamming into the floor. Before he could even process that a physical altercation had been initiated between the two of them, Charlie's fist connected with his face, sending a tooth outward. He lurched forward as he felt it exit his mouth, his eyes bulging out as if he was choking. Before he knew it, the tooth was already gone and another series of punches knocked his head back down. His mouth tasted like metal and he couldn't tell if it was coming from his gums, his newly-split lip, or his bleeding nose.
He could hardly process the pain of it all, instead shifting his focus to self-preservation. It was an easy choice between fight or flight when he was definitely not going anywhere, so the boy opted to throw his hands in front of his face in an attempt to soften the blows. He could hardly reach the girl to hit her from his downed position, but he did manage to scratch her face and jab his fingers into her already-stinging eyes. He couldn't make use of his sharp tongue when half the hits to his face were going straight to his mouth, so, in order to save face... he had to save his face.
Unfortunately, there was nothing he could say in the moment that could convince anyone that Charlie hadn't totally physically bested him, even if he did have the opportunity to say a few words. The confidence in his eyes vanished, leaving only anguish and consternation for all the world to see. No matter how absolutely pathetic he looked and felt, he wouldn't admit defeat. He wasn't sorry in the slightest. How did having his ass beat make Charlie any more in the right? Options, options, options... play the victim? No, not even as a last resort would Chas take that road. It just wasn't in his nature to admit that kind of defeat.
His eyes were glazed over, the thinnest layer of tears stinging his eyes. He dared not let them leak out and thankfully, they didn't dare leak down his cheek. His bloodied, twisted face displayed an intense amount of contempt, as much as one could tell despite being severely beaten. This became more apparent when Charlie pulled him up closer. His brows furrowed more and more after every smug, triumphant word that came out of her mouth. He readied himself to spit a mixture of blood and saliva at the girl's face, but she released him too soon. He was even being denied the opportunity to refuse defeat.
He winced as he hit the ground again, squeezing his eyes shut with pain. He let out a pained grunt, reminding him of the sounds going on around him. He detected Lin's voice somewhere, urging Charlie to take him out. The little fucker couldn't even do it himself. He sure owes Saint Charlie a lot for this one. His head turned to the side before she prepared her final blow, looking toward the direction of what sounded like Nickie's voice. He definitely couldn't see her past all the feet shuffling around them, but he could faintly hear each word. She was pleading for Charlie to stop. Dammit... stop talking. Not that Charlie would have stopped regardless, but the fact that Nickie was trying to do something for him was humiliating in an all too familiar way. As much as he hated to admit it, the sound of her support did ease him a bit. Just knowing someone was on his side, even if her voice faded and she had disappeared altogether, was enough for him. He finally let go, all the tension leaving his body. Maybe Chas was down for the count. Yeah, maybe it really was all over.
Oh. Never mind. Sweet release had been yanked away from the dazed boy, replaced by the clashing sounds of Trevor and Seb restraining Charlie. The fight wasn't over yet. Oh my god... I had completely forgotten I had invited him here. Like a night in shining fucking armor, here Seb was to bail him out. Pitiful. The remains of Chas' face were all depending on the likes of a hapless Irishman and a soft-spoken sadboy.
He coughed as Seb propped him up, leaning his head back and shutting his eyes again as the pain gradually started seeping in. Then Amy started running her mouth and Chas figured he was better off passed out on the ground than being conscious for this. "Don't worry about her... she won't do anything," he croaked to Seb, coughing out a bit of blood that was pooling in his mouth, "Just go find Dei or Hunter. They'll know what to do. Or just... get me out of here. I don't fucking know."
BRIAR ROSE WESTYNSON Outfit Parking lot >> Mike's car >> Home Tags: Ditto
Briars eyes followed Mikes keys to the shitty beat up car. She knew she couldn't make a face but for a split second a gross look crossed her face. She had thought that everyone at Hollywood Arts was loaded. That was obviously not the case. The girl couldn't help but laugh at his little joke. "You're cocky aren't you? Lets hope you're as good as you say you are. If not I'm totally kicking you out." At least Mike was funny since he wasn't tall. Then again her smile wanted to fade but she wouldn't let it. While Mikey said he knew her name. He didn't say it, which meant he didn't. At least he cared enough to spare her feelings. Ronnie did not get the same luxury. Plus it wasn't like she was head over heels for him or anything. She followed the man to the car, getting in the passenger seat. She let out a small sigh of relief as the car came to life. She was worried the thing wouldn't come to life and Mike would have a breakdown. Briars cheeks flushed a little as Mikey grabbed her thigh. That was a weakness of hers. That and lip biting got her every time. Then he pulled her in for another kiss. Again it was electric, shocking her with how good of a kisser Mike really was. This kiss said something though. It said Mike was dying for it. She figured if she teased him enough, he'd get real angry. Maybe even throw her on the bed. That was if he could pick her up. "So when you turn out of here go straight for a while. Then you turn right on Sunset. Then a left on McIntire. Then go all the way down and turn left again on Meadows..." Even though she was very new to the area, Briar was extremely good with directions. Her apartment was also only like 10 minutes away. "Are you sure you don't want me to drive? I'm an excellent driver. Besides I'm like practically sober. You on the other hand seem a little tipsy... And it's not like I can break this thing right?" she let out a small laugh, hoping her joke didn't offend him. Pulling out her phone she scrolled through, in search of something. Turning on one of her songs she grinned at him. "This is one of the songs I made before I came to Hollywood Arts..." She wasn't exactly sure why she was playing the song for him. Maybe to lighten up the mood. Give them something to talk about for the short duration of their car ride together.
It didn't take long for them to arrive at Briar's apartment. She quickly got them upstairs, where she opened the front door. Taking a few steps in, Briar looked around. The place was still pretty new to her. It didn't quite feel like home yet. She hoped christening the bed would help with that. "Welcome to my humble home. You make yourself comfortable. I will be right back." Briar said sweetly, giving him a playful slap on the ass as she went into the bathroom. She changed into a long silk night gown with long slits up both sides. It was sexy but also super comfortable. Then she grabbed her journal, opening the back so she could get what she needed. She took out another small baggy and did a few bumps. Sniffling a little bit, she leaned her head backwards and closed her eyes. Almost immediately feeling the drugs affect.
She walked out of the bathroom and gave Mike an innocent smile. "So I was thinking we could cuddle and watch a movie till I fall asleep... How's that sound?" Briar couldn't help but push his buttons. Running her hands through Mike's hair she decided to continue poking the bear. "I mean you're cute and all but... You're a little short for me don't you think?" Licking her lips, she looked down at the man on the bed. Continuing to run her fingers through the boys hair, she took a little step closer to him. "Although... We could be friends? We can go on shopping sprees... You can help me write me songs... I'll even tell you about all the other guys I'm fucking. Wouldn't you like that Mikey?" Briar was playing with him now. Seeing how much shit she could give him before he snapped. Threw her on the bed, or shut her up with a kiss or something.
So, obviously this guy wasn't a fighter. The guys Ronnie was into would have totally asked for every detail, however insensitive it may be to make her go over it again. How else were they going to show off how macho they were if they didn't become furious and go punch someone? Not that that had ever happened to Ronnie, but everyone has their fantasies, right?
She did appreciate the flattery, and her breathing even steadied a bit after Zeph finished speaking. But then it just got kinda awkward. Isn't he supposed to, like... do something? I'm the one that's emotionally distressed here... She could tell he was trying, but the last thing she wanted was to stand in silence and be alone with her thoughts to go over Mike's words over and over again.
Ronnie finally found her eyes dry of tears. She pulled back from Zeph and wiped her cheeks, smiling a bit because of how childish she felt. Had she really just thrown herself on this guy and dumped out all her anguish onto him? Maybe it was her fault things were so awkward after all... maybe.
Or was this how it was supposed to be? Is this how girls and guys (or whatever combination, Ronnie doesn't discriminate) are meant to interact? Maybe she had it all wrong. This mostly silent moment, barring the muffled sound of the party past the door and the conversations of passing strangers set the scene for a makeshift romance movie balcony scene. So what if the balcony was the second floor of an apartment and there was no champagne or brightly lit cityscape? They were in a city, but what was in front of them was more of a parking lot and dark sidestreet than anything.
Going against all of what Ronnie believed to be her ideal romance, she locked eyes with Zeph and just observed him for a few moments. She slightly cocked her head to the side with a quizzical expression, amused with how apparently the boy was trying to console her. Maybe this was the right way. Or it was just the alcohol talking. Either way, she broke the silence and stood on her tippy toes to kiss Zeph, because he clearly wasn't gonna make a move on his own. Okay... your move!
Isolated from most of the party, Hunter had found himself in the middle of kissing Nickie. And it felt nice. His lips on hers, holding her as close as he could, looking into her sapphire eyes as he tried to make sense of what was happening. Even after Briar had come by and whispered into his ear, biting it in a seductive way, he couldn’t not think about Nickie. She had his full, undivided attention.
He wasn’t normally like this. This wasn’t who Hunter thought he was nor was it the hunter everyone on Twitter or at Dei and Chas’ summer parties saw. When he was with them, the boy was daring and borderline womanizing. He flirted with everyone who he thought he might stand a chance with; even if he didn’t, he still shot his shot.
But around Nickie -- and especially right now -- the only thing Hunter wanted to do was kiss her soft, rosy lips. He wanted to take her elsewhere, rest all of those worries she might’ve had, retract that stupid thing he said, and make her feel good tonight. He wanted to take her to his room and prove to her that he only had eyes for her tonight.
As he was moments away from doing that, his body half-turned, hand gripping hers as if he was about to suggest they go somewhere less populated, he heard what she saw. An uproar of cheers and comments that were half-blurred out by the music.
In-between the bass drops and the silence that squeezed its way through, Hunter heard Charlie’s voice. That’s what first caught his attention. He turned his head over the crowd and then brought it back only to feel Nickie’s tiny, yet fit body, pass by him as he was pushed to the side. He could only watch as she rushed to the crowd.
Hunter followed her. Partly to see what was going on but his fight-or-flight instincts kicked in. And they went into overdrive as he pushed his way through the crowd as Nickie had done so. He was about a few feet behind her but his height difference allowed him to see Charlie wailing on Chas.
His first thought was to jump in and help, but he looked to his left and saw Nickie start to burst into tears. She said something. He knew she did because he voice cracked. She was begging for Charlie to stop. And then she brushed past him again, this time he saw her go for the door. Before Hunter could follow, the crowd he was huddled in was getting out of control.
And as the crowd got rowdy, so did their comments. Half were out of the shock of what was happening and the other half telling Charlie to hit him some more. That got on Hunter’s nerves. His fists balled up out of loyalty for Chas. His teeth gritted against each other out of anger of their comments and then he heard Lin speak.
At this point, had it not been for Seb and Amy (and of course Lin running away like the cowardly piece of shit that he is), Hunter was confident he would have knocked that little bitch’s face into the floor.
“Move out of my fucking way.” Hunter shoved his way to the front of the crowd, rushing to Chas’ side, nodding at Seb. “Jesus Christ Chas.” He kneeled down beside his friend. He could do nothing but just look at Charlie’s handiwork. She was small but she hit hard.
“Seb, there’s a medkit in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Make sure he gets cleaned up.” Hunter told Seb, surprisingly showing a show of maturity as he assumed direct control for the time being. “I’m sorry man. I wish I can stay, but..fuck, Nickie ran off and I don’t know.” The stark change became evident and Hunter stood up, a somewhat conflicted expression on his face. “Seb just...just make sure he gets cleaned up, okay?” Hunter locked eyes with Sebastian, hand squeezing his shoulder. It was a squeeze of trust as if Hunter was passing on the duties he would normally take over to Seb.
After a few moments, Hunter turned around and looked at the crowd. “Okay get the fuck out! Go drink or shit or whatever. Fight’s over!” Hunter’s usually obnoxious voice came in handy as he managed to convince those who were still gathered to fuck off.
But he didn’t stay either. As much as Hunter wanted to stay by Chas’ side out of loyalty and to make sure nobody fucked with his friend, his priorities were wherever Nickie had disappeared off to. There was a genuine worry for her. It never left ever since he heard her shriek out to Charlie to stop. Whatever it was that triggered that specific response, Hunter knew his place wasn’t by Chas’s side. Besides, he knew Sebastian was going to take care of him. Despite everything that happened, that much was certain.
As Hunter left the apartment, he found his way out of the building and into the parking lot. He had asked people he passed by if they saw a short brunette girl in a cheerleader uniform pass by. After a few had pointed him to one location to the next, he was in the parking lot.
Scanning it, he saw Ash, Charlie, and Lin head out one end. For a moment, he wanted to go bash Lin’s head in. For a single moment, he almost did but with Ash by his side, there was no way Hunter could do it and not look like the asshole. “He’ll get his. First, I gotta find Nickie.”
Hunter was slow on the uptake, so it took him a few moments longer than it would most to piece together that she was obviously in her car. And off to the right parked close to the apartment building, he saw Nickie in her dark blue SUV. It was a nice car, but the person behind the wheel, banging her head against it, was anything but.
He wanted to move; he needed to move. For the love of everything that he knew he had to do, his legs needed to bring him closer to her car. But seeing her like …that paralyzed him. He wasn’t sure if it had been this new-found empathetic side of him that felt her pain or if it was the new feelings he was starting to realize he had for Nickie.
But then he remembered something. The way she sounded off as Chas was getting punched was somewhat similar to how he felt when he heard Lin’s comment. Her’s was out of despair and his was more from a furious place of origin. But even someone slow like Hunter could tell that, despite everything, there was a mutual compassion they had for Chas.
That was enough to break Hunter out of his paralysis. The next thing he knew, he was looking at her through the passenger side window. He tapped it. “Nickie!”
The only bit of her words that he cared to listen to were her directions. The noise emanating from his shitty, rattle-y speakers did not do much to help out with his driving. Sensory overload, wonky vision, difficulty focusing, the girl in his passenger seat...it was all just so much that he considered pulling over and just getting everything done here.
“I forgot that you sing,” he mumbled, hoping that talking would keep him from wrecking. The noise was not making much sense to his ears— then again, he was very tone-deaf, so music barely made sense to him anyway— but he still tried his best to nod along to the beat, and he hoped that doing that would, at least, make him a little bit less irritated.
• • • • •
It took a shorter amount of time than Michael was dreading to get to her apartment, and he felt a little bit of a rush when he got there as he allowed himself to look at her again.
His keys went out of the ignition and into his pocket as soon as he parked semi-in-the-parking-spot. He followed behind the girl, trying to remember her name again as he made his way up to her place.
He felt another tinge of embarrassment as he stepped into her place and looked around. Shit. This was nice. Nice nice.
Anything was compared to his place, though, really. If the light wasn’t merely a clump of wires, some duct tape, and a lightbulb in a cracked hole in the popcorn ceiling, if the floor wasn’t crusty, crunchy, vomit-green carpet, if the walls didn’t have twenty-eight holes apiece, and if the door actually closed all the way without you having to duct tape it closed, then you were living in luxury.
Plus, her bed didn’t creak and rattle when he sat down on it. Nice.
After the ass-smack, his eye followed her to the bathroom. He worked his jaw, trying to remember her name, and then he realized that he could just check. He quickly pulled out his cracked, LED-striped, office-taped iPhone 5S, getting distracted and drunkenly responding to Twitter before checking what her name was.
Briar. Like the thorn. Made sense.
He slipped his phone back into his pocket, and he checked his wallet, making sure he had what he needed for tonight.
His eyes went to the girl— to Briar— as she walked out of the bathroom. A grin came over his face.
He wanted to rip that fancy gown off of her.
“Movie?” he repeated, grin fading. Her hands in his hair nearly made him reach out and snag her.
He couldn’t take this.
“A little short?” he repeated.
Was she trying to get him heated? He didn’t enjoy being demeaned.
But fuck, she was hot.
Her words ramped up his heart rate, his eyes glaring at her.
Friends won’t be good enough.
He simply couldn’t take it anymore. Her words were pissing him off, and she was too damn hot to handle.
He impulsively, selfishly, yanked her to his body, pressing their lips together, and he pushed her body beneath him.
He looked down into her eyes, his own dark eyes reading all of his thoughts— his anger, his sexsexsex, and that weird feeling he kept getting in the back of his neck.
Wordlessly, he met their lips again, nearly feverishly, nearly desperately.
His way of saying shut up, I need this.
• s • k • i • n •
His skin was thick with his and hers sweat as he sat up in the bed.
Her body had cured him of two of his ailments. Her movements, so expert, had milked them out of him.
And now, he was only left with one emotion. This one that caught in-between his tired lungs, this one that gave him a pressure that made it difficult to breathe.
This one that gave him an intense pain in the back of the neck.
He felt guilty. Even in his still-pretty-drunk state, even in his absolutely-exhausted state, even in his just-got-done-fucking-a-hot-girl state, he still felt guilty.
Nickie’s heart hurt, and she wanted to vomit. Her hands were shaking.
She couldn’t take this. She couldn’t take this.
She lifted her head and glanced at her reflection in the rearview mirror. She gasped a small sob. She looked like an a wreck, which she was, but…
She hit her head against her wheel again. She couldn’t take this.
She could still see Chas falling, everyone punching on him.
That image of him kissing that other boy.
And she could still hear Hunter’s confession.
She wanted to crawl up into a ball and sob into Hunter’s chest right now. That was dumb, right? To want comfort from someone who you don’t even deserve the care of?
He was too good for her. He was too good for her. She didn’t deserve even him smiling at her. She was a disgusting, revolting, simping bitch who cared too much about what people thought, and when someone did care for her, she ended up having a breakdown because someone else didn’t love her back.
Her shaking hand reached for the keys in her purse, and she barely managed to get it into the ignition. She stared straight ahead as her headlights came on, and she told herself that, once she twisted the keys, she was flooring it home.
She heard a small knock on her window and a muffled call of her voice.
She knew that sound.
Her tears welled in her eyes again, and she looked over at Hunter, standing outside of her passenger side window.
“It’s…unlocked,” she said in a very quiet voice.
Why did she say that? She wanted his comfort, but it wasn’t like she deserved it.
She wished that he would leave. She was crying over another boy.
Please, go. Don’t come in, she begged in her thoughts, even though her heart cried out for him to please come hold me.
Her eyes followed him as he got in, and just watching him move grew too much to take.
She heard his voice— his little confession— again, replaying in her head.
And then the image of Chas.
Her heart felt like it was palpitating, and she hunched over the wheel again, sobbing unrestrainedly.
She didn’t care if he heard. She…
Her eyes squeezed shut, and she sputtered, into her wheel, “I’m so sorry that I’m so stupid. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…”
She looked up, gasping in-between sobs. “Hunter, please…I…”
She couldn’t get her words out.
What was she even trying to say?
I’m sorry. I’m heartbroken. I want to vomit. You shouldn’t care even a bit for me. I—
“I love you,” she sobbed, and she slumped over to the passenger seat, clutching onto him as if her very life depended on it.
When Hunter climbed into her SUV, his bottom sinking into the leather seat, any thoughts of how comfortable the seat was faded into the back of his mind; he only focused on how Nickie looked like she had been crying for some time. Tears had gathered around her eyes, puffing them up somewhat and making them appear strained. He caught the reflection of remnants of tears along her cheeks and the sound of her voice when he had climbed in was both a terrifying thing to hear and weirdly comforting.
As her apologies started to pour out, his heart sank, chest tightened, and all he wanted to do was pull her into a hug. It was his first and last thought.
His hand outstretched, squeezing hers. He was about to initiate the hug when her apologies ended. And then she said something that caught him off-guard. Her words made sounds. Three words left her lips and lingered with him. Even as she gripped his jacket so tightly her hand was squeezing his wrist, he wasn’t sure if what he heard was the truth.
And then he really looked at her. He studied her face in a different light. Hunter wasn’t the smartest guy, but he wasn’t so blind that he couldn’t see. She meant every word. Her hand gripping him was physical proof of that and the way her eyes stared into his. The sapphire eyes that had been touched by despair clung to the smokey quartz for clarity.
The boy understood this. He understood that Nickie loved him. But what should he say back? Should he tell her he loved her as well? He was a stranger in a strange land.
He knew he felt something for Nickie. Maybe it was love and he didn’t know it yet. Maybe what she felt for him was laying dormant.
As the two hugged tightly, Hunter kept thinking about that date they had during the summer and how he had done everything right. How there was something between them. Nickie Abrams was someone he knew he could see himself with. He would never tell Chas or Dei this (in fear they would see him as soft), but Hunter never experienced emotions of compassion and admiration for anyone as he did for Nickie.
“Nickie…” His voice was low enough for her to hear; it had a soothing, ASMR quality to it. “I..” Just say what feels natural, Hunter.His thoughts melded, a light in the sky pointing him in a direction he didn’t think about. “It’s okay, Nickie. I’m not going anywhere!” He held her close. His arms wrapped around her so tight that just as she had held onto him, he did the same.
Hunter still didn’t know if love was in the air or not, but he knew Nickie was important to him. That’s the only thing he knew to be certain and it was the only thing that mattered right now. He had to assure her and assure her again that she wasn’t alone. If it took them embracing each other all night in her car for her to feel safe, that’s what Hunter Drake was going to do.
Nickie hadn’t expected a confession to come from her mouth, and as she clutched him tightly, she cursed herself inwardly for being so stupid.
But he didn’t let go. He didn’t run away. His arms came around her, and he said soft words warmed her hurting heart.
She tucked her head on his chest, sniffling, tears still rolling down her face. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled again. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…” Her words came between deep heaves of sobs.
She felt like she could forget everything, right here in his arms. They were so warm, so comforting. She didn’t deserve this.
She cried into his chest for who knew how long, her mind reeling with guilty thoughts.
Gradually, she felt herself calming down. Her eyes ran out of tears, and the slickness on her cheeks began to dry. Her guilty thoughts settled in the bottom of the bottle of her drunken, hormonal brain.
And yet, she didn’t want to move.
She always got so…numb after crying. So…feeble. Weak. When her eyes ran out of tears, she always felt calmer beyond calm. She felt…empty. She felt dissociated from herself, as if she were looking down upon herself, as if she were a narrator in her story rather than she herself.
“Hunter,” she mumbled finally, breaking the silence that had loomed for the past couple of quiet minutes, voice hoarse, “I want to…” She held out her hand. “I’m still shaking so bad. I want to get out of here. Please. Can…” She pulled back just enough to meet his eyes with her bloodshot ones. The blue of her irises were striking against the red backdrop.
She gave a soft breath, and she closed her eyes as she said her next words:
Her cry-chapped lips remained open after her words, and her brows knit. She sucked in her lower lip, and she leaned back into the driver’s seat. “I…I…I really…thanks…I….” She paused. “I…need you, Hunter. You…”
She met his eyes once more, and she gave a soft sigh. She…needed to get out of here…
She gave a very small smile to him, though it had no particular emotion behind it. “I…want to go home.” She reached out and put a hand on his. “With you…” She sniffled, and she looked away. “I…please.”
Charlie Howell wasn’t a girl who got into fights. She wasn’t aggressive, wasn’t naturally angry, never was known to hold grudges. But the feeling of her fist connecting with the smooth skin of Chas’ face, the rush of adrenaline that pumped through her veins urging her to continue the barrage, the sting of the scratches along her cheek from Chas’ nails… Everything in her wanted her to continue.
It would have been easy to finish the job, to knock him out and climb off of his abdomen like a champ, face scratched and eyes reddened like a true victor. Her body ached, stomach threatening to spill its contents out through her mouth from the anxiety and the alcohol sloshing around within it. Her knuckles were split, blood pooling in the fine lines of her fingers and around the bed of her nails. Sure, she was in pain, but the pain was almost intoxicating. Charlie immediately understood why most of the guys enjoyed getting into fights over talking their shit out.
Somewhere behind her, Nickie spoke. No, she was pleading. Pleading for Charlie to stop the violence, to get off of Chas, to stop hitting him. Then there was the crowd roaring loudly inside her head. She could pick out hollering voices egging her on, others condemning her for her vile actions. One of the voices echoed through the crowd, sticking out through the hum of the chorus. It was Lin and, surprisingly, he was encouraging her.
Before the final blow could land, a pair of tight arms wrapped around her chest and pulled her back with ease. At first, Charlie fought back, squirming to break free from the grasp. But the second the scent of Trevor’s cologne and the comforting tone of his voice flooded her senses, Charlie stopped fighting back.
Turned to face Trevor, Charlie found herself struggling to make out his features. Her eyes burned from the harsh jabs Chas had made at them and the drink that had been splashed at her face before the fight had ensued. But most of the struggle came from the pinpoint focus that refused to leave her vision, the edges blurring into a flurry of indiscernible colours.
Charlie couldn’t speak, or maybe she didn’t want to speak, as Trevor told her to stop. Of all the moments for Dad Trevor to come out, he couldn’t have picked a better time. If anyone else in that room had attempted to calm her, they would have been met with the same accidental fury that Chas had been introduced to. But not Trevor.
“Fine.” Charlie growled at the mention of going home, rolling her shoulders as Trevor’s iron grip was released.
Charlie watched as Trevor went to get their things from the table, her hands still shaking from the chemicals rushing through her blood. The wounds she had sustained refused to hurt, her muscles refusing to ache, but feeling of emotional pain was beginning to set in. She turned to look at Chas on the ground, face bloodied and bruising.
What the fuck had she done?
Charlie opened her lips to apologize, tried to move her limbs to help, but her body refused to work. Instead, she stood frozen to the floor. It wasn’t until another person stepped between her and Chas that Charlie finally looked up from the mess on the floor. Seb. Of course he just had to show up at that moment.
The guilt and apology she had built up in her mind was instantly tailored to fit Seb. She didn’t feel bad about wailing on Chas. He was a prick who had the belief that he was untouchable, what was so wrong of her to show him that he was human? Charlie did feel bad about the complications of her actions, however. The look of hurt in Seb’s eyes burned through her, her own feeling of remorse beginning to trickle down her spine.
Seb’s next words cut through her. Walk the fuck away.
He was angry. Perhaps rightfully so. Seb clearly cared about Chas and, even though Charlie couldn’t understand why, he was always there for him. But the care was never returned. Who had been there for Seb after the exposure? Who had comforted him online between dealing with a thousand other issues that had wormed their way into her life that night? Definitely not fucking Chas.
Before Charlie could open her stupid mouth once again, Amy was there, voice sweet and angelic. Her presence was comforting enough for Charlie not to respond to Chas’ taunts. She knew better anyways. Charlie knew that if she wanted to, she could have punched him clean out right then and there. Hell, she was fairly certain everyone else in the room knew that too, so why prove it?
Trevor, Lin, and Ash were gathered by the door, clearly ready to leave. But Charlie wasn’t about to let anyone but herself have the last word. So, she took a step towards Chas and Seb, glaring down at them both as Seb held Chas in his arms.
“Don’t you ever come at me again.” Charlie hissed to Chas, flicking the blood from her fingertips to the floor. Then, she turned her attention to Seb. “You should tell your little boyfriend to watch his fucking mouth from here on out. Because next time,” Charlie growled, looking back to Chas. “You won’t be getting up.”
Without another sound, Charlie turned around and walked right past Hunter and the posse of people concerned with Chas’ health, her shoulder jabbing accidentally into Hunter’s chest. Grabbing her jacket from a chair by the door, Charlie met up with her group of friends.
“Let’s get out of here.”
◑ ━━━━━ ▣ ━━━━━ ◐
The walk was a short one, though Charlie’s sense of time was severely distorted by the alcohol coursing through her veins. She was deadly silent as they made their way into her apartment, closing the door quietly so as to not disturb the neighbours at such a late hour. Charlie immediately pulled off her jacket, hanging it lazily up on the coat rack beside the front door. No one else was home yet, Amy and Ken still presumably partying it up. Though how anyone could continue to party after the mess Charlie had made, she wasn’t sure.
Without a word to her friends, Charlie made her way to the bathroom and closed the door, twisting the lock shut. For the first time that night, she was completely alone. There was no expectation for her to be perfect, to be nice or to be mean, to be a performer. She was just Charlie.
Carefully, Charlie examined her face in the mirror. Her cheeks were blotchy, makeup long since having run from her eyes. There were a few scratches marring the pale skin of her cheeks and her bottom lip had become split and swollen. Her eyes burned red, burning with a pain she had never felt before. Instinctively, Charlie began rooting around in the medicine cabinet for eye drops. The cooling liquid soothed her aching eyes, allowing her to see clearly enough to clean herself up.
Makeup removed, hair brushed, wounds cleaned, Charlie exited the bathroom and made her way to her room. She wanted nothing more than to crawl into her bed and sleep off the day, to wake up the next morning and deal with the inevitable fallout. But there were people in her living room and too much alcohol in her system to not wake up completely hungover.
Pulling on a pair of leggings and a hoodie, Charlie rummaged her closet for a set of clothes for Ash, finding only a pair of pyjama pants. Where was everything? With a heavy sigh, Charlie turned to look at her overflowing laundry bin. Fuck, she had forgotten to do her laundry again. Quietly, Charlie snuck into Trevor’s room and pulled one of his hoodies out of his closet before turning down the hall and entering the living room. The room was quiet as she entered, Charlie’s eyes scanning the worn faces of her friends. Had they been talking or had they remained as silent as she had? She wasn’t entirely sure.
“Here,” Charlie muttered, dropping the clothes onto Ash’s legs below her on the couch. “If you want to change, go ahead. Bathroom’s down the hall if you want to get cleaned up.”
Charlie spoke to no one as she made her way into the kitchen, pouring herself a glass of water and taking it down in long, needy gulps. Her throat burned at the contact, vocal chords rubbed raw from her sharp yelling. Leaning against the counter, Charlie took a few deep breaths. Adrenaline long gone, her body had begun to ache from the sudden movements of the fight, a pain that would no doubt last for days before it finally dissipated.
Looking to the balcony door, Charlie’s body relaxed slightly. She needed the air before she went back in to apologize to everyone about her horrid choice of actions for the evening. With a squeak of the glass door, Charlie stepped outside into the night, arms wrapped tightly around her torso to keep the warmth from leaving her body.
The air burned at her face as it blew, strands of her hair dancing around her shoulders as she released it from the ponytail it had been confined to. The lights of the city glistened brilliantly below, cars honking obnoxiously on the nearby highway. Charlie found herself standing on the balcony in silence, allowing the wind to cool and ground her.
For the first time that night, Charlie was no one but herself. For the first time that night, she was just existing.
Lindsay, for once, was nearly silent on the way to Charlie’s apartment. It wasn’t really because he was worried that he would disturb anyone, no, because he was drunk beyond the point of caring about being even slightly considerate. It wasn’t really because he was even in thought, per se, because he really didn’t know everything about what had happened.
No. He was quiet because he was trying to count how many cracks there were in the sidewalk. He’d made a rough estimate of three-hundred, but, by the time he got to Charlie’s apartment, he was at…uh…more than three-hundred. He’d really lost count after three-hundred, ‘cuz he’d gotten a bit sidetracked with counting the number of moths on the clusters around the streetlamps.
But that also wasn’t the only reason. Had it really been the only reason, then he’d’ve been audible with his counting.
Nah, the other reason was that Charlie was quiet. He wanted to cheer her up, but he really didn’t know how to. He couldn’t really hug her while they were walking. That’d be pretty hard. Plus, he could hardly stand up right now. So, instead, he’d resorted to just leaving her be for a bit. That helped, sometimes. That helped him when he was emotion.
At least she wasn’t being self-deprecating right now. If she started that again, who knew what drunk Lin would do to get her to cheer up?
She fought pretty impressively. She was good at that. She was good at a lotta stuff.
He hoped this gave her a bit of a relief. ‘Cuz it should’ve. ‘Cuz she did great.
When they got to the door of the apartment, Lin stumbled inside, tripping over the bottom of the doorframe and fumbling to catch his “footing” again. He laughed at himself and walked it off— er, stumbled it off.
He didn’t really know where to go, so he stood in the doorway, taking off his cap and hanging it on a jacket hook.
Bean Man gave him a weird look, and he raised an eyebrow and laughed. “Hey, Bean Man,” he said.
“What?” said the tall boy shortly.
“Can I get some clothes?”
Bean Man looked him up and down. “You have some,” responded the other boy, walking in and going straight back to what had to be his bedroom.
Lin laughed, struggling to stay standing as the laughter overtook him. He clutched his stomach and tried to catch his breath.
“It’s not that funny!” called back Bean Man.
Lin didn’t respond, and he, instead, made his way to the living room.
He gave Ash a little grin and a "hey" as he walked in. He tossed himself onto the couch, his body bouncing a bit a couple of times and finally settling, and he grabbed the remote from the coffee table. He kicked off his shoes and slid off his socks. He whipped off his sweater, leaving only his white undershirt on.
He gave a deep sigh.
Well, he was making himself right at home, it seemed.
He moved to turn on the television, but his eyes caught a bit of motion, and he looked up with a startled wha noise.
It took a second for him to realize that it was Charlie, and by the time he had, the door to the balcony had already swung shut.
He frowned slightly, and he stood up from the loveseat, already having forgotten the mess that he had made of the living room. He tripped over his feet the whole way to the balcony door.
He paused beside it, looking out its glass at the city skyline.
“Pretty,” he mumbled, and he pushed the door open.
His eyes did not go to Charlie, instead staying glued to the skyline, and he walked out to stand beside Charlie.
For once, he didn’t talk, just stood beside her and stared out at the city.
And then, finally, he broke the silence. “So are we gonna run off to Vegas and get married or what? You said so,” he said nonchalantly. “You shoulda left the blood on you.” He grinned. “Coulda been Halloween-themed. Spooky.” He laughed a little bit, eyes reflecting the city lights and seeming to nearly glow. “Ya know, I coulda been…uh…”
His eyes trailed over to Charlie, and he went quiet again, his eyes focused on her. He studied her, his lips pressing into a line with thought. “Hey…,” he said, in a much quieter and more concerned voice. “Are you doing okay? Can I, like, get a…penny for your thoughts?”
He tossed himself onto the couch, his body bouncing a bit a couple of times and finally settling, and he grabbed the remote from the coffee table. He kicked off his shoes and slid off his socks. He whipped off his sweater, leaving only his white undershirt on.
Trevor, naturally, was quiet the whole way home. His head ached from the stress of the situation, and his senses were numbed thanks to all of the liquor in his system. The tote on his arm did not really help the situation, either. It was all that he could do not to faceplant on the sidewalk.
He clenched his jaw in pain. That gnawing tension headache was not alleviated whatsoever when they’d left the party. Maybe it was because he was still so worried about Charlie. The girl was quiet and far from the rambunctious go-getter that he was used to seeing.
But really, he was glad that she was here right now. Better her be here, sitting in silence, than beating Chas to a pulp while Crack Kid cheered her on.
He’d have to kill that boy, he swore. If he touched a single thing in their apartment, he was dead.
He stepped up onto the steps, carefully, so as not to awaken the neighbors.
He looked back to make sure that everyone had made it inside in one piece.
He caught sight of the Lin kid standing by the door, and his lip curled up with disgust.
Lin laughed. “Hey, Bean Man.”
Bean Man. Why did he call him that?
“What?” Trevor asked shortly.
“Can I get some clothes?”
He blinked, staring at him for a moment. The absolute gall.
He gave him a once-over, then turned away with an eye roll. “You have some,” he said, walking away, ready to get to his room and stay away from everyone else for the rest of the night.
He caught Charlie coming from his room, a sweatshirt in hand, but he didn’t bother to say anything to her, instead opting to just walk into his room and sit his tote on the bed.
He lowered himself onto his bed with a deep sigh, rubbing his temples. His eyes slid from his tote to his alarm clock.
He moved the tote to the floor, sliding it beneath his bed. The underside of his mattress would house it temporarily. He didn’t have enough energy to put it in it’s hiding place again.
He heard the boy up front still laughing, and he rolled his eyes. “Feck,” he muttered, and he yelled, “It’s not that funny!”
He laid back on the bed and closed his eyes, and then remembered that he had the formal tux still on.
He sighed softly, standing up from his bed and locking the door.
He opened his closet again. Usually, he’d opt for just stripping of all but his boxers, but he had guests today.
He sighed deeply, drawing out a white tank top and a pair of grey-and-black sweatshirts. He brought them to his nose, and he sighed softly. Well, at least he wouldn’t smell like weed, even if he looked like a stoner.
Trevor stood for a moment after he’d pulled on his pajamas, and he sighed softly though his nose.
He was thirsty. Ugh.
He unlocked his door and stepped out, walking up front. He grabbed a cup down from the cupboard and ran some tap water in it, then slowly drained his cup.
He was about to make his way back to his bedroom again, but he caught sight of something that made him stop in his spot.
Ahem. Two somethings.
The first thing that caught his eye was not as important as the second. Strewn about and around the loveseat were articles of clothing. It made his brow twitch with irritation. But, again, that wasn’t the important thing.
The second wasn’t a thing so much as it was a person in a thing. He’d seen Ashton West. In his sweatshirt.
He felt his cheeks heat up, and he approached her.
“Ash,” he greeted. He lowered himself beside her on the couch, sighing softly.
His heart pattered in his chest.
“Much different scene here, huh, darlin’?” he asked. His eyes studied her, and he looked away after a moment. “Which oneuh us won tha drinkin’ contest?” he asked teasingly. “Definitely Lin. I think he had us all beat,” he joked.
He leaned back, pausing. “Wild night, huh?” he said in a nearly nostalgic tone.
Ash rolled her eyes at Lin as he came over and collapsed onto the sofa beside her and grabbed the remote, making himself right at home in an unfamiliar apartment. She envied him a bit -- there was no reason to be uncomfortable, and yet she was. Like, ever so slightly. Ash wasn't exceptionally close with anyone that lived in this apartment and after what happened between Eli and Charlie, everything felt a little more strained. Yeah, that was the word. Strained.
She kicked off her shoes, pushing them towards the door, and then settled back into the couch. Ash drew her legs towards her chest and pulled out her phone, unlocking it and... yeah, there wasn't really anything for her to do, but being on her phone gave her something for her hands to do. Plus, after the events of the night, she was far from tired.
Ash looked up as Charlie came back out all cleaned up and looking better than she had before. Cleaned up and almost normal, other than the faint scratches that still marred her cheeks and the hollowness that darkened her eyes. Ash wasn't good at the whole comforting thing, so all she could really do was offer a smile as Charlie came by and tossed the clothes onto her knees. "Thanks," she murmured.
She dropped her phone to the couch beside her and then stood up, heading to the bathroom. Ash glanced at Charlie in the kitchen on her way there, hesitating for a moment and considering saying something, but decided against it and continued to the bathroom where she stepped in, pulling the door shut behind her and locking it.
It wasn't until she had pulled the hoodie on over her head that Ash realized it was definitely not Charlie's -- it was way too big. And it couldn't have been Amy or Ken's which just left one person. Trevor. Ash contemplated for a moment taking it back off, especially after Trevor had refused to give Lin anything to change into, but the idea of changing back into her cheer uniform was out of the question. Plus, it was comfy. And what was Trevor going to do? Yell at her?
As if. He wouldn't do that.
Once she was cleaned up, Ash gathered her cheer uniform and stepped back out of the bathroom and into the living room. Neither Charlie nor Lin were there, although by the clothes still tossed around the living room, it was clear to know that Lin was still somewhere. She glanced around until she saw the two standing out on the balcony, and a faint smile spread over her face.
Good. At least someone was there for Charlie.
She stepped back over to her couch, dropping her clothes on top of her shoes before falling back onto the couch and grabbing her phone back up. Ash relaxed into the couch, sinking down and scrolling through random things until Trevor came in and took a seat on the couch beside her. A smile spread across her lips and she turned off her phone and set it back down beside her.
"Way better here," she said with a faint laugh with quickly turned into a scoff at his next words. "Please, Lin wishes he had won that contest. It was still totally me." Not that anyone had actually been counting. Woops. Sorry to all those people out there that had bet money on Ash only for her to expertly fail at keeping track.
Her smile faded and she looked down at her hands, playing with the hem of the hoodie. Teeth bit into her bottom lip before she let out a sigh and looked back over at Trevor. "Wild is kind of an understatement," she replied. "It was..." she paused, trying to think of the proper word to describe it. Hellish? Insanity? "I don't even know." Ash stated, a small, somewhat forced laugh falling from her lips.
"It was still fun. Well, like, the hanging out part. With Lin and Charlie and like... you. I'm glad you came." Turns out that Trevor was a lot more fun than Ash had originally thought, alright?
Trevor gave a soft chuckle at her first response. Just speaking with her made the tension headache that had formed melt away. “I dunno either,” he said quietly. He looked over at her, studying her face as she spoke. “Yer right, wild’s far from’n apt word ta describe it, huh?” He smiled, running a hand through his hair.
He quieted again, listening to her speak once more, his eyes focused intensely on her face. The I’m glad you came came as a little bit more a surprise than he’d’ve admitted, and he felt his heart rise up to his throat a little.
He laughed, and he rubbed his neck. “I’m tha one who should say that ta you, darlin’,” he said, grinning. “Ya know, it was Rachel— I didn’t have any choice but ta come—“
His grin faded. “Shite,” he mumbled, and he looked around the apartment. “Rachel. We left her…” He felt another headache coming on. “Shiteshiteshite!” he whispered. “If anything happens to her…”
Trevor’s eyes went back to Ash, and he went quiet. His panic didn’t go away suddenly or anything— really, it was still there— but he pushed it back and gave a smile, continuing with the conversation as his panic gradually subsided. “I didn’t have any choice, ya know. Charlie dragged me along because I needed ta be babysat or whatever,” he laughed, “which I totally didn’t. Ya seen what happened back there. I coulda handled myself, ya know.”
He gave a grin, looking away as he said the next sentence. “Nah, I’m more glad that you came than anythin’, darlin’. Yer fun.” He chuckled. “Nah, more’n fun. I like havin’ ya ‘round, ya know?” He looked over at her, his cheeks hot. “I dunno what I’d’ve done’d you not been there. Prolly not been drinkin’. Prolly not’ve had any fun.”
What a roundabout way to say I like ya, ya know, darlin’.
He put his arm across the back of the loveseat, pausing and grinning. “So, ya come here often?” he teased, batting his eyelids exaggeratedly. “Lesse…lemme remember a good’n…oh!” He grinned and gave his best generic fuckboy laugh. “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put ‘U’ and ‘I’ together.” He tried to deliver it deadpan, but he ended up laughing. “Aye…I’ve never been good at boxcutter pickup lines, huh?” (He’d meant cookie-cutter.) “You can attest to that, huh?”
That was a little throwback to the night they’d first met, when he’d been a small, itty-bitty fuckboylet— way back in sophomore year. (Well, that was last year, but…he was an entirely different person back then.) He’d used that same, cheesy line, but he’d actually expected it to work, and when it didn’t, he’d actually gotten frustrated.
Trevor grinned at Ash, studying her face. “Ya know, can’t say I’ve ever been ta such a lovely, lively party’s that, but I’m so glad that I’m home, ya know?” He paused, then gave a little chuckle. “Bet yer glad yer here too, huh, darlin’?” he teased.
He paused a moment, and he looked away. He went quiet for a long moment. “Even if ya aren’t, I am…” He gave a very soft chuckle, and he looked back at her. “‘Cuz it’s nice ta have someone here. Ya know, besides my roommates. They hardly count.” He paused. “Wait, nah, I mean— it’s nice to have you here, ya know.” He really didn’t feel awkward saying it. It was true.
He looked her in the eyes and gave a genuine smile— not a grin, a smile. “It’s…nice,” he repeated.
She couldn't help but let out a small laugh when Trevor started talking about his van. Ash was quick to press a hand over her mouth for a moment until her smile and laughter faded because yeah, she knew just how obsessed he was with his van, but every time he called it Rachel, she couldn't help but laugh.
It wasn't hard to stop smiling when he mentioned the party again. To be honest, Ash had been surprised to see Trevor step up in the way he had. She had this simple image of Trevor as the weird Irish stoner with the bad pickup lines. Like, the guy that could make her laugh no matter how she might feel or always managed to bring a smile to her face. Like earlier when he'd visited her at the game. His visit had been literally the only good part of the whole ordeal.
"Please," she scoffed. "You would've had plenty of fun without me. Like, you always do." Or, well, she assumed he did. Ash didn't generally hangout with Trevor at parties for long. "Probably would've taken home some hot girl instead of a bunch of drunk idiots." She said with a playful grin.
Oh god. Yeah, she remembered that ridiculous pickup line. It was the first time that any guy had used a stupid pickup line to try and hit on her and after getting over the initial shock that Trevor had been serious... she had started laughing. It had been her first time meeting him, and she hadn't expected to see him again after that -- except that she did. Trevor and his flirting attempts became a staple at parties for her.
Until she got together with Nico, anyway.
"I think I've heard that one before," Ash grinned and shifted in the seat so that she was facing Trevor better. "Yeah, there was this... cute guy. Kinda dorky. Totally tried using it on me." Obviously she was talking about him, a smirk coming to her lips as she spoke.
Her smile faltered for a moment as Trevor kept talking -- and there it was again. Darlin. Her cheeks started to redden and her heart pounded faster in her chest. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came to her at first. Instead, she broke eye contact with Trevor for a moment, looking down at her hands playing with the hem of the hoodie. Trying to find words.
Ash really had no words, did she?
She looked back up, meeting his gaze again, but all she could do was smile and look away again.
"I'm glad," she started. "Glad that I'm here. With you." Ash paused and managed to look back at Trevor, her stomach rolling with unexplained nerves, her heart pounding faster. "Like as-- I guess--" she let out an exasperated sigh. Words were never her strong suit, especially when she was drunk and... yeah. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that if I had to go home with anyone, I'm glad it was you."
Charlie heard the glass door squeak open behind her, causing her to startle slightly. She never looked away from the busy city below, her eyes following lines of cars or speckles of what she assumed to be pedestrians. Charlie’s fingers gripped the railing of the balcony, sore fingertips tapping smooth rhythms on the metal.
She didn’t need to look over to see exactly who was there. Lin had a presence about him that made it obvious he was there, even without saying a word. It was comforting to know he was there, even if he seemed oddly silent. Usually, Lin would be busy talking Charlie’s ear off about whatever the newest competition or bet had captured his attention for the week. Part of Charlie was expecting him to joke around and try to make her feel better, the other part expecting a lecture on her wrongdoings of the night.
Instead, Lin simply stood there beside Charlie for a moment, silence lingering between them. When he finally spoke, Charlie let out a breathy laugh as she braced herself on the balcony.
“Yeah, I think Vegas is sort of off the table unless you were planning on marrying the damn Bride of Frankenstein.” Charlie joked, though the normal enthusiasm in her laugh was long gone, replaced with an aching tiredness. Charlie kept her eyes fixated on the lights, her jaw clenching in concentration. Fuck, she was too drunk for this.
The tone of Lin’s voice changed, softening and growing much quieter with each word. Charlie gripped the railing tighter, the broken skin on her knuckles shooting pain down her wrists. She had no clue how to answer Lin’s question. Was she okay? Damn if she knew! Charlie reached into the pocket of her hoodie, fingers searching for something she wasn’t certain was there. Charlie had a horrible habit of simply throwing her change in her pockets at the store. What were the chances…
Delicate fingers wrapping around a small, metal object in the pocket, Charlie fished out the coin and strained to see the symbol on the front. Bracing the coin between her two fingers, Charlie placed it on the metal railing and gave it a small push down the line to Lin.
“I don’t have a penny, I hope a dime will do.”
Charlie fell silent again as her teeth began to nibble at the inside of her cheek. She had no clue how to answer him, how to make every one of her nightly fuck ups okay. Charlie always knew how to make things better. She was always the one to comfort others when they were down, fixing situations that seemed to be broken beyond repair. But this time, Charlie was lost.
“I don’t know.” Charlie finally managed, exhaling heavily as she leaned further forward, bracing her forearms on the cold railing. “I know I’m supposed to say I’m fine and that everything is gonna be okay. I know I’m supposed to say that I fucked up and will deal with it. But, if I’m being honest? I don’t have the slightest clue what I’m feeling right now.”
Charlie closed her eyes, fingers lacing closed in front of her. It was almost funny how much of a mess she was, standing there like an idiot on the balcony of her apartment after beating on some dude who most definitely didn’t deserve the punishment he got. Letting out another soft laugh, Charlie finally looked over to Lin.
“Fuck, I beat the shit out of Chas. How is one supposed to feel after that?” Charlie joked with a small smile and a shake of her head. Meeting Lin’s eyes, the smile that had begun to form on her face melted away, her gaze dropping back to the cityscape below. “I feel fucked up, guilty, kind of like a total idiot. Also like I’ve made nothing but a mess of tonight and gotten everyone I care about caught up in it.”
Silence encompassed Charlie once again as she thought about her next words. A question had been jumping around since Lin had found her in the parking lot earlier, a question that remained unanswered no matter how hard Charlie had tried to figure it out. Had she been too obvious with glances she thought were sneaky? What about the flirtation she passed off as jokes, had he caught on? How long would it be before she fucked this one up, too? Another friendship she cherished more than herself ruined because, once again, she had gotten too close and too selfish with her feelings.
Fuck it, what was the worst that could happen?
“Why do you even care?” Charlie asked suddenly, her tone coming across significantly harsher than she had intended. Eyes widening, Charlie quickly scrambled to readjust her phrasing. “Fuck, that sounded super bitchy. I, uh, what I meant was that…”
Charlie’s voice trailed off as she took a breath, trying to recollect her thoughts. She could tell herself as much as she wanted that she wouldn’t care if Lin left her side as friend or foe or whatever the hell he decided that day, that it would be easier in the long run if he just left. But that still wouldn’t change the fact that Charlie was terrified of losing him, of losing them.
“I just don’t get why, after all the shit I’ve put you through tonight, you’re still here. You’re a good person but what the hell are you doing putting up with me?” Charlie asked, looking over to Lin and holding eye contact. She turned her body to face Lin, looking up at the taller boy with an almost stern look on her face. “You don’t deserve this. You should be at that party having fun and doing that shot competition with Ash and dancing and flirting with pretty girls and enjoying your homecoming, not standing on a balcony with a girl who only seems to have the ability to fuck everything up no matter how hard she tries. You deserve better than that, than this.”
Charlie’s face softened the longer she looked at Lin, the emotion she felt in her chest beginning to simmer down. How did he, the latest headliner of all of Charlie’s emotional turmoil, bring her such comfort? Maybe it was the alcohol lingering in her system or the cumulation of every emotion of the evening talking, but none of it made sense. It was frustrating not understanding herself.
“Look, I don’t know why you’re still here after everything that’s happened tonight. But, uh, thank you, I guess. For being here, I mean.” Charlie stammered, warmth flooding to her cheeks. Her mind searched for something, anything, to change the topic. She was straying too close to that edge she refused to cross. “I think everyone’s just gonna turn in for the night. You’re welcome to stay or I can call you a cab or something to get you home.”
Without waiting to hear his answer, Charlie walked directly past him and into the apartment. Her chest felt like it was squeezing shut, lungs trapped in a vise grip within her ribcage. She had gone out on the balcony to get some air, but not the type of air that seemed to be floating between her and Lin. Charlie needed some sort of excuse, any sort of excuse, to excuse herself for a moment.
Walking into the living room, Charlie stopped dead in her tracks. Ash and Trevor were sitting on the couch, facing each other, locked in some conversation Charlie refused to listen in on. Clearing her throat loudly to announce her presence before anything got too… involved, Charlie made her way down the hall and to her bedroom. A blanket on her bed caught her attention. Sure, she could just say she was cold from the wind! Grabbing the soft fabric, Charlie wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and made her way out of her room. She stopped just before the living room, clearing her throat obnoxiously again before entering.
Moving quickly through the living room, Charlie looked to the front door, noticing it was unlocked. Had they forgotten to lock the door when they came in or did Lin actually leave? Charlie couldn’t help the sinking feeling of disappointment at the latter thought, mostly because she was worried that he was going to get hurt trying to get home so late and so drunk.
Stepping back out onto the balcony, a genuine smile pulled at the corner of her lips. Lin was still there, much to Charlie’s surprise. With the blanket still wrapped around her shoulders, Charlie slid down the smooth wall beside the glass door.
“You should sit down,” Charlie suggested, scooting over to make room. Flipping open one side of her blanket, Charlie patted the concrete below her. “You’re too drunk to be standing so close to the ledge. The last thing I want tonight is having to scrape a Lindsay pancake on the ground. And I wouldn’t go in there, I think Ash and Trev need a bit of alone time, if you catch my drift.”
In an attempt to make things not weird, Charlie patted the blanket again, keeping one side firmly wrapped around her side.
“Come on, I promise I’m only mean to jerks named Chas.”
It felt more than a little awkward now that Ronnie had stopped crying and they were both just... there. Outside. Zephyr knew that he should be saying something, but what? Should he ask her for details? But wouldn't she offer up details without him needing to ask? Hell, he didn't even want to know the truth of everything that had happened.
Instead, they were stuck outside of the apartment with the sounds of the party melting away behind him. There was screaming -- but that was normal for a party. At some point, he'd seen Mike leaving with that Briar chick and he'd been glad. With that dick gone, there was no one else really left here to hurt Ronnie.
Plus if he was gone, Zeph didn't have to be on edge about the idea of having to fight him.
And then Ronnie was closing the distance between them and his cheeks started to heat up. His heart was pounding a little faster and then the small girl was up on her tippy toes and--
Did she really--
Did she really want him to kiss her?
He was panicking. This wasn't how he expected the night to go, least of all when Ronnie had thrown herself at him. Briar's stupid words on Twitter echoed in his ears -- about how he should be grateful because Ronnie had run into his arms and now, she was standing here before him, and, and, and--
Zeph was thinking too much. His thoughts were racing.
Before his thoughts could get even more ahead of him, Zeph leaned down and closed the gap between himself and Ronnie. His lips pressed against hers and one of his hands going up to rest against the side of her face.
Ash's words rung in Trevor's ears, and his cheeks reddened. For once, her words reciprocated his own. And it wasn't just like another psht, yeah, we're friends thing-- which they totally were just friends.
But there was a hint of...something in there. Something that he shared.
Something...warm? Fuzzy? Kinda-gross?
Something gave him a little bit of...what was it?
Hope. It gave him a little bit of hope.
His eyes caught sight of her hands fiddling with the bottom of his sweatshirt, and he moved his large hand to cover her smaller ones. His eyes searched for any sign of a lie in her face.
He couldn't find any.
He felt his heart rate quicken. He was glad that his hands were on hers, because the shaking would have otherwise been so glaringly obvious. He met her eyes, and he gave his goofy grin. "Glad ya feel the same, darli--"
His eyes went from Ash to the girl who had cleared her throat as she made her way inside and passed them.
He sat there for a moment, looking into Ash's eyes, holding back laughter. Honestly, the situation was comedic, and he cracked a grin. "How rude," he teased in a whisper.
When Charlie came back through with another ahem and promptly exited, the room went quiet once more.
The silence was, admittedly, tense. In the low light coming from the kitchen-- he'd not bothered to turn on the living room lights when he'd entered and neither had anyone before him-- he studied her face.
"I feel like she interrupted som'n...," he teased, hoping to break the tension.
It didn't work.
His words trailed off, losing themselves somewhere in the space between his head and his tongue, and his smile faltered a bit. He moved his hand away from hers, eyes studying her expression.
She looked so...pretty today, like something out of an old, Victorian painting-- something that someone would call a masterpiece.
He felt his breathing grow a bit ragged. He swallowed hard.
He was Trevor, certified member of the FBC...so why did he feel so...jittery?
He slowly brought a trembling hand up to her cheek, brushing a stray hair from it before resting a hand on it.
She was warm. Soft.
He swallowed hard again, and he leaned a bit closer to her. There was no room for Jesus, as they said; they were close enough that he could nearly feel her warmth on him.
"Hey, Ash, darlin'?" he asked in a low voice. His dark eyes met her light ones, and he lost his question, instead giving a quiet snicker.
His heart beat in his throat. What was he going to say? What could he say?
Damn alcohol. He couldn't think straight.
Finally, he gave a soft chuckle.
"Ya look feckin' hot in my sweatshirt," he teased, cracking a goofy grin, and, without another word, the drunken boy did what he'd wanted to do for the longest time:
He pressed his lips against hers in a soft, tender kiss.
Lin's eyes went to the coin that Charlie had sat down, and he stared at it intently for a moment.
Was it JFK who was on the dime, or was it Thomas Edison? Or maybe Ellen Roosevelt-- Ellen Degeneres?
What was he thinking about again?
He looked up at Charlie again, picking up the dime and putting it into the pocket of his shorts. His brows creased as he tried to determine what exactly she was thinking, and he leaned on the railing, propping his head up with his elbow.
And, for once, he just...listened. It wasn't that he couldn't say anything. It wasn't that he didn't want to say anything. It was that Charlie, right now, was the only thing he'd let into his super loose, all-over-the-place mind.
She was what was important, not him.
In the short pause of monologue, his eyes went back out to the city.
Her very direct question took a moment to register with him, and when it did, he looked over at her, face reading no particular emotion, throughout her questioning.
He didn't think as she asked him, or even right after, as she thanked him, or even as she bid him a temporary goodbye.
But when she left, he looked out at the city again, his mind beginning to churn with thoughts.
Yeah, why did he stay around? That wasn't really like him, right? Lin was the self-centered only child of a movie star who he was determined out outshine, and he would do anything to get there, right? He didn't have time or energy to waste on introspection or figuring out his feelings or anything, right?
"Psht, yeah, Morgie," he muttered, "but you're here, ain't you?"
He had a point. He was here, at Charlie's house-- apartments were houses, yeah-- and he was standing and listening to her talk without interjecting his opinion. He was here after cheering her on to kill a dude, and he was here after doing that after he'd hugged her and asked her if everything was okay, and he was here after doing that after doing that after reaching out to her and asking if she was okay.
Who cared how unlike this he usually was?
"You do, sucker," he responded.
True. That was true.
"What, does this mean I like her or something? Or just that I don't not like her?" They were synonyms, but they meant entirely different things.
Yeah, he was right before-- yep, not-drunk Lin was right. Thinking about feelings was hard.
All he knew was that he didn't want to see Charlie hurting and that he wanted to be here to actively help her stop it. He liked being around her, he liked hearing her, and he liked her smile. He liked her singing and her competitiveness and how she was always just there.
Was that, like...a thing someone could feel? What was the word for it?
He laughed slightly. "Ooh, Lindsay Kay likes a giiiiiuuuuurl," he mumbled in his best snot-nosed kid impression.
The door creaked open, though it took a moment to register with him, and he looked back at the door.
He cracked a grin and laughed. "Lincake," he laughed, and then he paused. He wiggled his eyebrows. "Ooh, alone timeee."
He stumbled to sit beside Charlie, plopping down on the concrete as soon as he reached her. He didn't flinch or anything, though, if he'd have been sober, he probably would've whined a bit about the pain.
He scooted to sit beside her, taking one corner of the blanket and wrapping it around himself. "Charlie-Lin burrito, new at Taco Bell," he joked dumbly, laughing way too hard at his own joke.
He took a moment to settle down, and when he did, he looked over at Charlie.
She was close to him, and he could feel her warmth. "I feel like a toaster pastry," he commented with a grin.
He looked out at the city, his eyes alight with the city lights, and he went quiet and entirely still.
"I'm here 'cuz I wanna be here," he said finally, seemingly randomly. He looked over at her, cracking a grin. "I am, like, very drunk right now, but even if I wasn't, I'd tell you that." He looked back out at the city. "'Cuz I wanna, like, be here for you. Even when you're not dressed like Kim. 'Cuz I like you."
He said it so matter-of-factly and so nonchalantly, like it was just as much of the fact as the sky is blue or water is made of oxygen and hydrogen.
"Charlie," he said, continuing the conversation as if he hadn't just admitted something that he hadn't realized that he'd been denying, and he withdrew the dime from his pocket, "take your dime back. I wanted to hear you for free, anyway. Plus I owe you, like, four-hundred bucks, prolly." He laughed, and he leaned his head against the wall behind him.
He went quiet for another moment. "You know, this reminds me of...home," he said quietly. "Just the...lights." He paused. "Mom and I never stayed in one place for long, but we'd always ask for places with balconies 'cuz little Morgie liked calling the people ants." He chuckled softly, and he looked over at Charlie with a smile. "It made me feel like I mattered in this world, ya know?"
Ash was just in denial about what it was. But as they kept talking, as the space between them steadily shrank, there was no more room for denial. Her stomach was churning, her heart was pounding, and she undeniably felt something for Trevor.
Something warm. Something fuzzy. Something that made her really, really want to close the distance between herself and Trevor.
For a brief moment, she was reminded of earlier that evening -- before all hell had broken loose. Nickie had asked her if she wasn't a cheerleader, who would she be going to the Homecoming game with? As a date.
Her first thought?
Trevor, the guy now sitting on the couch next to her. The guy that was now responsible for the beating in her chest.
She couldn't really speak. Ash was at a loss for words. A loss for words that became even stronger when Trevor's hand moved over hers. Her hands stopped messing with the sweatshirt as the tension just increased. The unspoken tension.
Charlie entering was almost a relief. Almost. Both a relief and a disappointment and she looked away from Trevor long enough for her to gaze to follow after Charlie as the other girl headed towards her bedroom in the back.
Her gaze shifted back Trevor as he spoke to her, his voice a low whisper that really just made Ash's whole situation a whole lot worse because she knew, she knew that whatever unexplainable feelings she was feeling right now were reciprocated. It wasn't hard to notice, but they were getting harder to deny.
A smile broke out on her lips. "Very rude," she agreed and then she was biting into her lip.
Charlie's second ahem caused her to, again, break eye contact with Trevor. Her gaze shifted down, to his hand still resting over hers until she heard the balcony door open and shut once more.
She looked back up, meeting his gaze.
Ash wanted to say something, but her words were stuck on her tongue. Unwilling or unable to spill out, she wasn't sure, but it didn't matter.
His hand pulled away from hers and for a moment, she thought maybe she had been imagining it. Maybe Trevor was going to get up, announce it was time for bed or something, and leave.
But he didn't.
His hand brushed back her hair and came to rest against her cheek.
Trevor leaned closer. He was close enough now that she was worried he would hear the thrumming of her heart.
Darlin. There it was again. His nickname for her. One that was clearly not for just friends. One that made her heart skip a beat every time he used it.
And then he was calling her hot and before she could open her mouth to respond, his lips were against hers and for a moment, Ash froze. Paused.
Something told her this was probably a bad idea. Kissing a guy drunk.
But she was also drunk so all reason? Right out the window.
Ash kissed him back. Her hand reached out touch his chest. She broke the kiss long enough to pull back for a moment, catch her breath, and look at him again. To get it through her head that this was Trevor. Trevor had just kissed her.
Having Amy yell at him was the last thing Seb expected to happen to him, but then again, that had been a recurring theme that night. He was mostly focused on holding Chas up, and he was shocked into silence anyway, so he didn't even respond. He didn't want to start any arguments; this was the most confrontation he could take, and even this was making him want to curl up into a ball and have nobody talk to him for, like, years. He didn't know how to explain to Amy that it didn't matter who was there for him and who wasn't, the violence was what bothered him. Sure, it was another kind of hurt entirely that it was Chas who was hurt, by someone that Seb considered a friend, but at the crux of it, he was trying to stop the fighting altogether.
And then, of course, Charlie had something to say too. Seb didn't want to be mad at her, because she was clearly drunk, but it was hard not to feel like this was an attack against him, too. And when she took a step forward Seb thought she might actually try to take them both down, so he pulled Chas behind him and made sure to cover him with his body. He stared down at Charlie, flinching at her words. Both because she called Chas Seb's boyfriend - albeit in a demeaning way - and because of her threat. Still, he knew better than to make things worse, so he didn't say anything as she walked away.
His attention was instantly back on Chas as Seb ignored the people around them. He placed his hand on the back of Chas' neck gently, keeping his head tilted back. Now that he was actually face-to-face with Chas, and expected to help him out, Seb felt a little overwhelmed. He scanned the crowd frantically for Hunter or Kordei, but luckily Hunter was already on his way. Medkit, medicine cabinet, bathroom. That seemed to be the most important information, so Seb nodded quickly and threw one of Chas' arms around his shoulders. "Thank you," he nodded to Hunter, just before the other boy was off.
Pushing through the crowd, Seb pulled Chas away from the main party, searching for the first bathroom he could find. He pushed door after door open as they walked down the hallway, until he finally found the right one. Once inside, he slammed the door shut and pulled Chas to stand against the vanity, then reached over to grab some tissues. "Hold these under your nose," he instructed, shoving the tissues into Chas' hand, "and keep your head tilted back." He gently tilted Chas' head back again, taking a moment to run his fingers through the other boy's hair soothingly, before moving to the medicine cabinet to search for the first-aid kit.
LOCATION: kordei's party
OUTFIT: Dark green hoodie, black skinny jeans, dark blue sneakers