Mer’s eyes shifted around. Her hand grabbed CK’s arm, shoved his shoulder to get him to look anywhere but at her. Though she was surely trying to avert his suspicion, it obviously had the opposite effect. CK’s lips flattened into a line, and he glared down at his little sister as he turned back to her and she released his arm. “Cut the —“
A chorus of loud TCHs interrupted his choice words, followed by scattered shrieks and yells. CK glanced over his shoulder toward the noise, and his lip curled up in confusion when he saw what was happening on the field. Who the fuck turned on the —
It clicked. He jerked his head back at Mer, a furious, knowing expression on his face.
“CK, listen,” she said, an uneasy smile on her face. “If you know what’s good for you —“
“What’s good for me?!” he demanded, yelling over her. The choir of screaming teenaged girls and boys, as well as his own yelling, made the rest of her words unintelligible. He could feel his neck growing red and hot with anger; he dropped his helmet and balled up his fists. “What’s good for me, Mer?! What the fuck do you —“ Her eyes darted to something behind him. “Fucking look at —“
A look of panic set in her face, and she cut in with a loud, “Drake! N—“
There was only a slight pain in the back of his head, and then a burst of wetness that he could feel on his scalp and his neck. CK still stood for a second in shock. His face went blank, unreadable. For a split moment, everything about him appeared calm.
Then, his face snapped into fury.
His cleats tore a bit of the wetted grass as he spun around to see a cackling Drake Martin, holding what must have been a duplicate of whatever the hell hit his back. Acting purely on instinct, without anything really registering in his mind, the blindly angry Chelsea reached out and grasped the balloon-holding boy by both shoulders. He yanked him up, and he gave him an aggressive, solid shake. “Give me one good fucking reason,” he growled, getting up in Martin’s face and throttling him again, “why I shouldn’t rip your fucking limbs f—“
He turned his head slightly away from Martin, glancing in the direction of the noise, just to see his little sister covered in glue and glitter. For a moment, he stared at her, tensely silently fuming and assessing whether or not she was hurt.
And then, she started laughing, which converted both his concern for her and his fury for Martin into fury right for her. Dropping Martin with a shove, he pivoted back around toward his sister. The look in his eyes was that of a hawk, lasered in on its prey.
“You’re dead,” he said, and he made a lurch for her.
And like skittish prey, she ran away.
CK immediately took off after her, running through the sprinklers and the mud they had caused, as balloons sailed all around him. “You’re dead!” he yelled. “Dead!”
• • • • •
The car, for the first couple of minutes, was tensely silent. With the car radio and air conditioner off, the only sounds were that of CK’s Mercedes-Benz’s engine purring and the wind rushing by the windows.
There were so many fucking things that CK wanted to say to his sister. You’re making a fucking mockery of us, or, Dad’s going to wring my neck because of you, or, I’m going to have fucking glitter in my hair for weeks, or, You fucking ruined the biggest game of my senior year, of my last fucking year. It wasn’t just his football game that she ruined, though. For shitheads like Rivera? With fucking nothing to call their own? She might have just taken away the one game that would’ve gotten a scout’s attention. She might’ve just taken away the bastard’s future, just for fucking laughs. Not that he cared about him or anything, but it was seriously just shitty. Did she think this was funny shit, huh?
Her fucking rebel phase. It was going to kill the family, or kill their reputations at the very least, and kill CK because he always had to take the fall for her shit. Because Mer was fucking perfect, hung the fucking moon and stars, and even when she got in trouble, really, it was CK’s fault for not keeping her in fucking line.
Chelsea didn’t pry his eyes away from the windshield. He knew, if he looked in her direction, he would lose his temper. Instead, he worked his jaw, grasped the wheel tightly in both hands, kept his face straight ahead, and focused on long, deep breaths.
They stopped at a red light, behind a very long chain of cars. With the car still, there wasn’t much noise at all, and the air grew even thicker with tension. The moment demanded some words to be said, and yet CK, in his thorough anger and disappointment, was at a loss for what to say.
Finally, one question made its way out of his mouth: “Are you proud of yourself?”
He paused a long time, and then looked over at her, his gaze stifling. He worked his jaw for a moment, and then repeated, “Are you fucking proud, Mer?”
But that wasn’t quite what he wanted to say, or ask. He looked forward again, and then breathed out another sigh. “Did that balloon hurt?” he asked, begrudgingly, through a tense jaw.
But that also wasn’t what he wanted to say. He sighed once more. “Let me guess: you still want me to drive you to the party, huh? You still expect me to fucking do that for you?”
They had cleaned up a little back at the school, the swim team had brought out towels for everyone who was involved and while it didn’t help much with the glitter, most of the mess was gone.
Besides the very few pieces of colorful confetti that she began to pick out of her hair, tearing it into small pieces in some way to distract herself from the tension.
“Are you proud of yourself?”
She didn’t say anything, biting the inside of her lip.
It was a prank. A prank.
Other girls her age were doing drugs, getting pregnant, two-timing–
Which– no, no… two-timing was bad, but Mer kind of just wanted to one-time.
Another thing that was continuously ruined by one CK Freud. Most boys at the school were terrified of Chelsea enough to avoid her entirely. A smile here, a smile there, they’d walk over– catch his eye and walk away.
“Are you fucking proud, Mer?”
That’s when she looked over at him and away guiltily.
She wasn’t guilty over what transpired. She didn’t feel bad because she pulled a prank! Mercedes didn’t know what was like, riding or something for everyone else, of course she… didn’t think about everyone else.
Okay… maybe that sounded really selfish.
But… she'd already went so long doing what everyone else wanted, what was wrong with being selfish once in a while?
“Did that balloon hurt?”
She sighed, a sense of relief filling her chest.
So… he wasn’t that angry. Which meant that the party was maybe still possible…
Since she had gotten her car taken away, Mercedes didn’t have a ride to said-party, not to mention the fact that her parents would flip if they found out she attended some random’s party without CK there.
A minor lie, but she was fine.
“Let me guess: you still want me to drive you to the party, huh? You still expect me to fucking do that for you?”
“I tried to warn you!” Mer explained, the light turned green and a car behind them had started honking barely five seconds into it. Mercedes had sunk further into her seat, crossing her arms and avoiding his gaze entirely.
“I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to– … ruin things. I just wanted to–”
Have a little fun.
Let’s get one thing straight– she wasn’t apologizing for the prank.
Maybe a good part of it was to get on CK’s good graces so she can go to the party, but she was apologizing because he was clearly… pretty pissed off.
And…Matty was gonna be at the party and there was NO way Mercedes was missing out on that. She had planned to look her best tonight and maybe… finally, that’d get his attention.
That works for boys, right?
A silence sat before Mercedes said anything more and they continued down the road, the slight hum of the engine running was the only thing she focused on while her mind ran in circles, trying to come up with a convincing argument–
The argument being, ‘please take me to the party.’
“Mom and dad doesn’t have to know, a lot of people were involved so I doubt they’re gonna only pin it on me and–”
Not Drake. The last thing she needed was for CK to use Drake as some… bad influence more than he already does.
“Maybe we… make a deal…”
A deal! That’s it. Brilliant. And who said Mercedes wasn’t a mastermind? Nobody, that’s right.
“You take me to the party, and I solemnly swear to be on my best behavior for…”
Shit, she couldn’t give a time-frame! There was no way Mercedes would be able to keep all that up, knowing CK he’d probably blame her for some minor inconvenience that happened just because she was near!
Maybe she’s being a little overdramatic, but…
So was he!
“Chelsea, you don’t get it, okay? I have to go. It’s homecoming! I’ll… I’ll do anything.”
Oh, hell fucking yeah Mercedes would do anything to get some alone time with the Matty Manzano.
Mercedes began to chew on the inside of her lip for the second time as the car had rounded the corner to their home.
Which was sort of like… a mini villa. It had one of those gates and everything. A pretty nice, lavish childhood home to grow up in– it was just the family that Mer wasn’t all that fond of.
The gates had slowly opened when they pulled up and she looked over at him, her hands pressed up together in a pleading manner, like... praying but Mer wasn't really religious, so.
And of course, being a little sister came with a very special feature;
Adeline Jumper, thankfully for everyone who was involved in the “prank” that was only funny to the underclassmen whose definition of humor was the same as a toddler’s, had avoided getting hit by a balloon. Had she been made into a walking fifth grade arts and crafts project, the overgrown elementary schoolchildren would’ve each had two less hands than they had to start with, so, yeah, this really was their lucky day.
AJ had been in the bathroom at the beginning of the incident, leaned up against the mirror and avoiding going back out there and actually cheering. Yeah, no thank you. Politely, gag her with a spoon. Did she do dance? Yes. Did she ice-skate? Yes. Were both of those basically cheer without the sport attached? Maybe. But did she actually like cheer? Uh, did anyone classy actually like cheer?
Yeah, no, didn’t think so.
So yeah, she was in the bathroom “slacking off” on her phone. Listen, someone around here had to be the “hot bitchy cheerleader who doesn’t really do her job” stereotype. Oh, God, what, did you think she was out there fraternizing with the people at the game? News flash: she was a cheerleader; her job around here wasn’t hospitality, it was just to look hot.
There were more important things to do than shake her ass in front of a crowd of mostly middle-aged men and acne-ridden megafreak teen boys, anyway. The short version of the scoop: you know that guy Benj? Yeah, the one who she’d, like, been screwing exclusively for, like, the past month or whatever. Super hottie, pretty quiet, super hottie. Yeah, that one. And you also know Adeline, of course. She’d never beg for a man; the men always beg for her. She eats hearts for breakfast. Most boys would perform a ritual human sacrifice to even get her to glance in their direction. She is, after all, Adeline Jumper.
Given that, one would think, after a month of her only being with him — and him only being with her — that Benj would do what any normal boy would do and, like, do something about it. That he’d want to change the label or something. Being brutally honest here, it was getting pretty old for the only guy who she was sleeping with to be one who she didn’t even hold conversations with on the school premises.
But Benji hadn’t done anything like that. Nothing remotely close.
And so, Adeline was…hm…how should she put it…testing the waters? Bringing out the big guns?
What, did you think she was above playing dirty to get what she wanted? She’s Adeline Jumper. And using someone to make someone else jealous was barely anything at all. Especially when the someone who she was using was Mason Rivera.
To be fair, he’d come into her dms first — he was practically asking to be used. She just saw an opportunity and took it.
So yes, she was going to the party with Mason — driving him herself, actually. And, yes, maybe she was doing it expecting attention from Benji. And?
After Mason had hit her up and she’d devised the plan and agreed to drive him, she’d heard the shrieks outside. Rolling her eyes, she pushed off of the mirror and turned around. She gave herself a glance in the mirror, running her pinky along beneath her lips to fix her lipstick. If people were dying out there, then she’d had to look hot for the photos that would wind up on the news channels.
By the time she’d gotten out there, a perfect spot for her to spectate the chaos had opened up at the very top of the bleachers, and so, confidently, she walked to that vantage point. She had to admit, it was a little bit entertaining, watching the wannabes and the disasters and the people who thought they were funny slaughter each other with glitter-filled balloons.
Eventually, she’d changed from her uniform into an actual cute outfit and wound up in her car, and so had Mason.
Now, she parked her car on the curb, got out, and gave an easy smile to Mason, internally growing excited now that her plan was beginning. She glanced at his arm, and then, her smile broadening, she reached over and grabbed his arm, bending his elbow into a crook so he could hold her hand in the crook of his elbow. “Such a gentleman,” she flirted sarcastically, batting her eyelashes at him. “I can’t believe you thought to do such a thing by yourself.” With a chuckle, she tugged him toward the door. “And they say chivalry is dead. Obviously they’ve never met you.”
Opening the door, she laughed as though Mason had said something funny, saying herself a few words that even she wasn’t paying attention to. As she did, she glanced around at the crowd and immediately saw the face that she was looking for — as though he’d been waiting there for her: Benji himself. Giving a gasp as though she were surprised and wiggling her fingers on the crook of Mason’s elbow so Benj would take notice, she smiled at Benj. Draping herself slightly against Mason, she greeted, “Benj, what a coincidence!” She squinted her eyes to tug her smile wider. “Didn’t know I would see you here tonight,” she lied, inwardly celebrating.
"Why're you asking? You wanna borrow a can or something?"
A lightbulb dinged in his head. Deo remembered seeing a few familiar cars in the parking lot earlier…
“Not just borrow a can,” said Deo. “I want you to use them with me. You’re gonna help me give a few cars a makeover. Because if you don’t, I can always tell the school I found a potential suspect of the art incident that got the homecoming dance canceled. Don’t bother trying to deny it—you drawing dicks here is too much of a coincidence.” He stood beside Xander and put his arm around his shoulders in a way that may seem friendly from a distance, but it was sort of passive-aggressive because Deo was squeezing his shoulder a bit too tightly.
“Do you know a math teacher named Mr. Urse?” One of Ivy Rose’s faculty members, Mr. Benny Urse—but most students (and a couple of other teachers) call him Mr. “Urse-hole” behind his back because, well, he’s kind of an asshole and annoyingly strict, especially with class attendance. He also had this dumb habit of finding any excuse to make unsolicited jokes to ridicule Communists, even though nobody ever mentions them or anything related to them.
Mr. Urse had marked Deo tardy twice, he explained to Xander—the first time, he and another student arrived at class during the final bell, even though the class hadn’t started; the second time, he arrived a minute later, but the teacher arrived 5 minutes late and marked Deo tardy because he wasn’t in his seat. The latter tardy gave Deo after-school detention. The hypocrite.
Deo was certain Mr. Urse had it out for him. Well, he did hit his car over the summer, but only because he tried to cut in during Deo’s right of way. If anyone deserved to have dicks painted on their car, it should be Benny Ursehole.
He let go of Xander. “Think of it as an alternative punishment for making me lose my popcorn and smoke,” he said. “Also, you’re buying me another popcorn later. Now, wipe off the dick on my cousin’s car as much as you can with something. Before I wipe it off with your face.”
Deo suggested tagging the football coach’s car, too—old yutz was always a dick toward the hockey and soccer team, probably just jealous or something. There was also a car or two with some bumper stickers that implied they were Republicans, just to be quirky.
Honestly, any car that looked stupid, especially the pretentious expensive sports vehicles, was free game for a paint job. Deo didn’t care, just like he didn’t really care much about beating up Xander. Now that a spray can was in his hand, he calmed down a bit, less fighty.
Painting genitals weren’t really his thing, but Deo was pretty good at making middle fingers and simple grungy cartoon grins. He drew a rainbow on the fender of the Republican van.
CK scoffed, turning his head to get a better view of Mer, his brows knitting in irritation. He leaned slightly forward to intimidate a genuine answer out of her, the warm streetlight shining through the driver’s side window over his broad-shoulders to cast a shadow over her. “Warn me?” he asked in disbelief.
In front of them, the light turned to green finally. Almost immediately the car behind them started to blare their horn. With a sigh, he slowly leaned back into his seat, setting his eyes ahead. They wanted him to go? Fine, he’d fucking go. He slammed his foot on the gas; the car lurched, and the tires gave a squeal. “Fucking…,” he muttered, his face screwing up with anger. “Asshole doesn’t know how fucking stoplights were, fucker —“ His muscles tensed as he grasped the wheel tightly in both hands again.
As the immediate rage from the driver behind him subsided, he tried to regulate his breathing again. In…out…in…out… He let off the gas a bit, working his jaw. His muscles remained tense; his knuckles remained white around the steering wheel. Again, for a few moments, tense silence filled the car.
“I’m sorry, okay?” Mercedes said, to the purr of the engine.
Nothing. CK’s eyes remained forward.
“I’m sorry,” she said again. “I didn’t mean to —“ There was a beat. “…ruin things. I just wanted to —“ Another beat. “I’m sorry.”
Chelsea didn’t say anything. What was there to fucking say that she didn’t already know? That apology’s bullshit and won’t fucking cut it for what you did?
“Mom and Dad doesn’t have to know,” she said, “a lot of people were involved so I doubt they’re gonna only pin it on me and —“
He was still quiet. His eyes were still forward. Nothing she said had caught his attention or done anything to sway him.
She tried again. “Maybe we…” A beat. “Make a deal…”
That made him give a small chuckle, though there was no hint of a smile. A fucking deal?
She continued. “You take me to the party, and I solemnly swear to be on my best behavior for…”
He waited for her to continue, and then prompted, in a flat, uninterested voice, “For…?”
When there was no answer, he put his blinker on and turned down their neighborhood’s street.
“Chelsea, you don’t get it, okay?” She sounded a little bit desperate. “I have to go. It’s homecoming! I’ll…I’ll do anything.”
Radio silence from Chelsea. He turned down another street, and then drove down their driveway. The car stalled by the gates as they opened, and he heard a small shuffle to his side. Unamused and trying to control his anger, he glanced over to see his little sister clasping her hands together. “What the fuck, Mercedes?” he deadpanned.
"Pleasepleasepleasepleaseeeee,” she begged, her expression pulling into a pout as she tried to pull those bullshit puppy dog eyes.
“Don’t give me that stupid fucking look,” he scoffed, looking away from her and grabbing the wheel again, inching the car forward. “Do you realize what you fucking did?” He sighed deeply. “Fucking puppy eyes won’t change my opinion.” He glared down at her again.
The eyes themselves seemed to be making their own argument.
“You —“ He shook his head, looking back through the windshield and inching the car forward again. “You ruined fucking senior homecoming, Mer. That shit doesn’t get away with just a…”
He glared over at her again, and his words trailed off as he stared into her face.
Just drive and hand her over to the parents. She’s not your problem after that fucking bullshit she pulled.
But he saw the little sister who wore the very same eyes when she’d come to him while he was busy with homework bleeding, who “boo-boos” he’d bandaged when their mom was too wine drunk to do anything about it. The little sister who wore the very same eyes after he’d sworn that he’d never play “dress-up” with her, who had helped him tug up that pink princess dress to do a photoshoot with her. The little sister who wore the very same eyes when —
He sighed deeply, closing his eyes for a moment as he shifted his shoulders back against the seat, and he relaxed his face for a moment, his foot finding the brake.
It’ll be on your fucking ass, Chelsea. You know that, right?
He paused a long moment, and then lifted his hand and put his car in reverse, opening his eyes and looking over his shoulder to make sure he was clear to back out.
“Don’t say a single fucking word to me,” he grumbled. “Because I will change my mind.”
They turned back out onto the road, and Chelsea breathed out a long sigh. “I’m not doing this because I give a shit what happens to you after you did some shit like that, so don’t fucking celebrate,” he explained. “It’s just more fucking trouble to shove you back inside our front doors when I told Mom and Dad we’d be out tonight because I’ll have to explain everything sooner rather than later and then neither of us will be fucking going out and I just want to fucking enjoy myself tonight at least a little bit now that you ruined the fucking game.”
It’s true, he worked to convince himself. You’re not doing this because you feel sorry for your little sister. You have no sympathy.
“Pain in my ass,” he muttered.
He glanced over at his little sister. “You try any shit tonight and you’re actually fucking dead, got that?” he said sternly. “I don’t mean that as a fucking joke, either. You’re actually. Fucking. Dead.”
That was actually true. No convincing needed.
• • • • •
“Remember my fucking warning,” CK said, getting out of the car and locking it. Taking a deep breath of the crisp night air, he tried to convince himself that there was some way that this wasn’t a totally fucking awful idea after what had happened, but he kept coming up empty. Brushing his hair back, he breathed a deep sigh.
Fuck it. He guessed he’d keep an eye on her as long as he could, and then, even if his dad blamed it on him, he’d know he was fucking innocent.
By the time he got inside, Mercedes was nowhere to be found. Shit. He only really had one guess.
With a deep sigh, CK searched for the drink table, sure he would find her there.
As she stood in front of the mirror, dark make-up running down her porcelain cheeks, sniffling like mad, with more than a handful of shots in her system and desperately wishing for a more potent substance, Carlotta realized she had to be the unluckiest, most depressing person in the entire world.
Unsurprisingly, the game had been the most boring event she'd ever had the misfortune of attending - and the crowd underneath the bleachers hadn't been fun enough to make her stay. She'd left only a couple of minutes in - even before the half-time mark - and headed back to her room in order to ready herself for the after-party. So, of course, she'd missed the "event" that everyone seemed to be talking about on social media. It was a stupid, juvenile prank; barely a nuisance, really. But it had been enough to catch everyone's attention and cancel the match altogether. Naturally, the highly emotional teenagers were treating it as a declaration of war, and Carlotta spent a good portion of her day beating herself for leaving the game early. She was never one to skip out on the drama, and doing so on the day of her grand comeback to the school? So unbecoming of her.
Still, she'd managed to muscle through it and focus on her outfit for the night. Everyone knew that the after-party was where the real fun would be. And with a game as scandalous as that, she knew that the gossip and entertainment potential could only go up from there. The girl laid out a breathtaking ensemble (designer, obviously), elegant, yet not too ostentatious to avoid giving off the image that she didn't know how to dress for the occasion. As an extra touch, she'd made sure that her outfit and makeup would be silver and covered in glitter. Both as a genuine stylistic choice (thank God for teen dramas putting sparkles back in style), as well as a jab at the glitter prank. She couldn't let anyone know that she had missed such an event, after all. And making fun of their pain was bound to ruffle some feathers, and messing with football players and cheerleaders was an art form that she had always excelled in.
With only a handful of hours before the party, Carlotta was practically bouncing off the walls and bursting with excitement and wonder she hadn't felt since... well, a long, long time. The sheer thought of how much time had passed since the last time she'd been so happy was almost enough to depress her. But the world would end before she allowed her spirits to be dampened in such a jovial moment of her youth. And the people at the treatment facility had advised against her going back to school, ha!
Her phone buzzed, and she quickly reached her hand out to read the notification. It was from a fellow student, one she couldn't remember ever speaking to outside of Twitter. The person who JJ had been speaking to, apparently, was none other than her boyfriend, Damien. Her supposedly loyal and loving boyfriend with whom she'd agreed to see (well, fuck, was a better verb, but that was only schematics and Carlotta thought the latter wasn't particularly romantic) exclusively. It was a lovely, perfectly normal, and entirely healthy relationship. Straight out of a fairy tale. Only, those typically had happy and not "your-boyfriend-is-cheating-on-you" endings.
Carlotta didn't allow herself to cry; Damien wasn't good enough for that. Instead, she'd calmly thanked JJ for her information, and sought out a different outfit. A completely black and edgy look that was more befitting for the occasion. Not the house party, of course, but rather the funeral that was sure to follow after Carlotta was done with the slimy, lying, unfaithful son of a bitch that was Damien Slater.
The trip to the party and the first half hour in the house passed by like a blur. She'd entered the scene with her face held high and a bright smile adorning her features but refused to speak to anyone that tried to approach her. No matter how much she enjoyed speaking to people, she wanted to make sure that her voice wouldn't break before allowing herself to mingle with the crowd. Instead, she'd used that time to consume as many drinks as she managed to find. Vodka, whiskey, tequila, beer, whatever. None of them mixed well, and it was a fact she was well aware of, but simply couldn't bring herself to care. She needed a distraction, liquid courage, or something that would knock her out before she had to come face-to-face with Slater.
She knew where he was, of course. Carlotta was always fashionably late to events, meaning he'd already been at the party by the time she'd arrived. She'd considered confronting him the moment she'd set her eyes on the bastard, but the sudden tightness in her throat and the way her vision blurred from her tears forced her to change her plans and lock herself in the nearest bathroom. And only then, did she finally allow herself to cry.
"God DAMN IT," she sobbed, trying desperately to dry her tears before they messed her immaculate make-up. Were all her relationships destined to be so disgustingly painful? Granted, what she had with Damien was nowhere near as bad and destructive as her previous relationship had been, but still. Was there something wrong with her? A fatal flaw that forced her to only seek out the most horrible of men to break her heart? "No," she lied, still trying to calm her sobs "I'm perfect. You're perfect, Carlotta Lombardi. It's them that are messed up junkies with self-destructive tendencies and horrible self-esteem issues. But not you. You're everything. And Damien is a fool not to notice that. But you go out there, girl, and you show him what he's missing!"
Armed with courage and with steam coming out of her ears Carlotta stormed out of the bathroom, drink in hand, and stomped her way to her dear boyfriend. Only to aggressively throw the contents of the glass before he could even acknowledge her presence.
"You whore!" Carlotta screamed out, her voice louder than whatever was playing on the speakers, "Did you think I wouldn't find out? Huh? You cheating slut! Adulterer! Brutto figlio di puttana, bastardo!"
Apparently something had taken place at the game—that is, besides the game itself. A frenzy of soaring rubber objects gave way to globs of pure white tackily layered with shimmering, rainbow sparkles, which rained upon any unlucky soul caught in the crossfire. How much more on-the-nose could you get for a Jivey Hoes Academy football game?
Benji was fortunate enough to have been under the bleachers at the time, sitting crisscrossed against the chain-link fence smoking a J. He had planned on sharing it with a friend, but solitude was an alternatively welcome surprise for the boy whose life was consumed by so much hubbub. Plus, he wasn't into third-wheeling his buddy and his... fling? Is that what you call a hookup you know won't stay?
It got him thinking a bit. Not in a good way, either. Stifling a worn sigh, a freshly (but only lightly) high Benji crushed his roach of a joint between his fingers, then catapulted it into the nearest trash can. So long, sweet respite, but the highs and lows of high school football were calling. But, more importantly, as Benji made his way back to his group on the top of the bleachers, another nagging thought rang at the door.
Where's that damn blonde?
The six-foot junior's hollow, brown eyes scanned the field as the aftermath of the prank was dealt with, something which he didn't even bother to try comprehending. He had no intention to speak with Adeline out in public for more than a minute—it wasn't either of their styles, as far as he presumed—but a part of him was itching to catch her eye. That self-assured, upturned grin drove him wild and she knew it. What could he say? He's still a man...
It was a thing they did often. Addie would be chatting with her gaggle of snarky, Barbie Dreamhouse rejects and Benji would pass by, offering prolonged eye contact with her only to promptly look forward and saunter away without a word. That split second of mutual attention was enough to seal it. My place at 6:50, they would text, and Benji would arrive ten minutes late, a quirk the girl would always instinctively prepare for.
They were both above it all, just in different ways. Sometimes, to Benji, it felt like he was stooping down a level or two kicking it with the queen of the plastic sellouts he laughed at, but he was almost certain she saw him the same way. If he could stop thinking for a little, it would work perfectly. And that was why, as Benji sat atop the bleachers wishing to get her alone, he couldn't help but to yearn just a little.
He dipped before the game was over, since he wasn't keeping track of the score anyway. It was clear that Adeline would elude him for the time being, so he threw in the towel and took a breather in the front seat of his car. Now, Benji has never been one for vanity, but as his intense gaze peered into his reflection in the rear-view mirror, he could hardly contain a cheeky grin. In this moment, life was easy. Life was good.
The party would be starting soon, and although ol' Benj hadn't come prepared with a semi-formal outfit, he had the excuse of rejecting modern dress codes... or something. Anarchism is pretty convenient when it wants to be. And so, in a true wild card fashion, Benji flipped the script and arrived pretty early to the afterparty. He grabbed a drink, picked a corner, and parked himself in it for a good while, playing the mysterious wallflower role he swore by. Yeah, guys, I'm different.
So, imagine the surprise of Benjamin Alek Bahi when none other than Adeline Jumper struts in glued to Mason Rivera, who apparently turned into a master comedian overnight given the way his... ergh, date... was laughing up a storm. Without thinking, his passive frown distorted into a disgusted grimace, lamenting the new depths to which a girl would sink to. What was she doing?
You look like an idiot, he had the sudden urge to sneer, but making a point that profound is never that easy in the art of teenage conversation. Immediately, Benji's eyes scrutinized the pair's interlocked arms, noting the way Addie's hand gripped Mason's elbow like a prized trophy. He was going to be sick, not because he was overwhelmingly jealous, but because he was at the very center of a real dangerous mind game.
"Good to see you, Adeline," he greeted with feigned disinterest, offering a solemn nod to Mason, "Yeah, didn't think I'd run into you at... the biggest party of the month." He gave a slight nod to the rest of the densely crowded room, waving the arm that clutched his drink. He looked back, staring the blonde square in the eye. He didn't need to say anything she didn't already know, but for Mason's sake, he would do a better job verbalizing.
"So, you found a new friend?" he remarked casually, giving the similarly-statured footballer a polite smile. Benji had to forcefully stop himself from commenting that he missed her at the game, not with the stakes of this obvious, poorly-constructed little farce. Without realizing it, he was beginning to dent the plastic cup in his hand with a hardening grip. If he was irritated, it was only because he knew it was working on him.
"I've been here a minute, so I might bounce. A friend invited me to a kickback over in Laguna. Said it might be a nice escape from the petty..." His expression turned to stone, venom seeping out of his captivating, goading eyes. "...high school..." Who said he was above the games? "...drama."
He faked a laugh, traces of light returning to his eyes. "And, you know, she might be right. People can really surprise you for the worst." He kept smiling, exuding an easygoing aura. "Guess that's what happens when you don't speak your shit, heh." He took a hearty sip from his cup, thinking real hard about the baggie of pills rustling in his left pocket.
The game had been nothing but a fucking disaster. Of course, Slater's hatred had been drenched by the sprinklers coming on, followed by several balloons that he was convinced people had purposely sent in his direction (and to be fair, his paranoia in this instance was correct -- they'd aimed for him directly), which left the simmering ball of angst drenched in glue and glitter.
The string of curses that came from Slater's mouth following that made hardly any sense as he'd parted from the game, like so many others. At least with it ending early, he suddenly got more time to get ready for the fucking party -- extra time that was only needed so he could clean the glue from his curly mess of hair. As he'd left, Damien had pulled his shirt off and used the cloth to wipe the glue from his arms, his face, and out of his hair as best he could.
Someone yelled at him to put on a shirt, that no one wanted to see his scrawny ass unclothed, which was followed by a chorus of laughter. And if he'd managed to pinpoint exactly who'd said it, while, there was a good chance that Damien would've been leaving with a black eye, too.
Once home, he'd done his best to avoid his mother who would've asked way too many questions, and instead spent a fair amount of time trying to get the now drying glue out of his hair and off of his body. That proved to be easier said than done and once he was all done, well... there was still bits of glitter stuck in his hair, which earned an angry glare from him at his reflection in the mirror.
And it was off to the party -- which he was kind of enjoying by himself, by bouncing from here to there, talking to people until they came up with whatever bitch ass excuse to walk away rom him. Yeah, well, they could all go fuck themselves. Slater didn't need any of them. He was perfectly content to be just by himself, and just by himself was exactly how it was when cold liquid splashed across him.
Damien did the dumb ass move of blinking, which caused a mixture of alcohol to go into his eye. Squeezing his eyes shut, he reached a hand up to wipe the liquid away from his face, all the while some bitch was screaming at him.
Except he recognized that voice, as his oh so lovely bitch of a girlfriend.
"What the fuck is your issue?" He asked as he finally managed to blink open his eyes. The bitch was wearing heels, which meant that the shorter Slater had to look up at her, which just felt incredibly fucking emasculating. "I didn't do shit-- the fuck is wrong with you?"
He shook his head to try and get the alcohol out of his dark curls.
"You're fucking crazy -- you know that? You're a fucking psycho."
Seated on the precipice of madness, Ed was seriously contemplating a plunge into the depths of hell. There are some days where worldly, everyday problems are comparatively worse than a measly round of eternal hellfire, and the day of Homecoming was a trying, harrowing moment for the only little brother of Evelyn McFucking Sinclaire. What had Edwin done to deserve a spot behind his cold-as-ice sister and her Chatty Kathy of a friend?
"Step on the gas!" he whined, finally deviating from his detached sulking in the back seat, "I thought you'd be in a rush to get back to your lesbian date." One of Evie's automatic reactions was to stare daggers in the rear-view, to which Ed stuck his tongue at.
"Harlot!" he hissed with cutting laughter, knowing his sister would say plenty worse when they were alone. But no matter what, Ed knew he was invincible. He was rich, had a pretty face, and had parents famous and powerful enough that even a daughter would be wary of crossing their beloved cherub of a son.
So, naturally, when the three of them stepped out of the car, little Eddie exchanged a few last deriding comments with Evie and ran off, narrowly avoiding the wrath of the best ear-dragger west of the Mississippi. Fumbling with a joint and lighter in his pocket, the eager sophomore slipped through the door behind a group of football players and made a beeline toward the drinks.
He didn't know of any friends already at the party, so there was only one option left... find a lady friend and experience life. You know, Ed could really feel it this time. Tonight was going to be the night he started having real fun, because he was due for a taste of good luck.
Therefore, it was fate when Ed happened across the girl of his dreams loitering around a bunch of cups and empty bottles strewn across a circular table. It was intended by the gods that he make his way toward her, putting on the bravest, most easygoing smile he could muster. Now's your shot, kid, he repeated mentally, his heart rate quickening at the prospect of a moment alone with, yes... Mercedes Camus.
"Hey, Mer, you look nice," the clean-cut boy greeted, running a hand through his brown, gelled hair, "Thought you'd be a cadaver after the game, if I'm honest." He glanced to her side and looked back, wary of her huge, hot-headed brother on the prowl. It was a great risk being in this position, but the reward would be all the more worthwhile.
"You, me, and Drake make a good team," he added with confidence, his blushing cheeks telling another story, "If you ever, um, need access to the football water again... you know who to call." His grin widened, delicately crafted to seem as at ease as could be. "Or, you could call me for anything. Like... math answers. I usually have them by midnight if Petra or whoever isn't asleep. Or... mad at me."
He laughed awkwardly, the silence between them pressing down on his back like a half-ton weight. It was unbearable, but not as nerve-wracking as the resounding thump of his heart in his chest. "I've got this, if you're interested." The joint gradually made its way out of his sweatshirt's pocket, and Ed looked up at Mer with a sly grin. He inched closer, ever-so-slightly, like the two of them were exchanging a deep secret. "You in?"
He hadn't a clue of the imminent force of calamity awaiting him.
Addie's laugh grated his nerves. It was like a million little needles stabbing into his skull, and Mason briefly found himself wondering if maybe he should've just stuck it out with Jade's annoying ass in the passenger side of his car. At least he didn't mind her company all that much -- sure, Jade was a little too wild for him, but at least she was a million times better than the fake ass plastic Barbie bitch currently glued to his side.
His plan had been simple. Ride with Addie to avoid Jade. Ditch Addie. Do his thing.
This bitch even had the audacity to take his arm like she was some dumb date. It had been... oh fuck it, whatever. In the end, Mason didn't really care one way or another -- if Addie wanted to walk in there hanging off his arm, then so be it. In the long run, that might actually aid him. Some chicks were much more interested in fucking a man that they thought was taken, or on the brink of being taken.
And who would've suspected that upon entering with fucking Addie glued to his side, laughing even though he'd said nothing, would now bring him to this point. Some dude that he unfortunately recognized -- Benji -- approaching and trying to make small talk. It all just earned a rather annoyed look from Mason, because well... he certainly hadn't come here to deal with people he didn't fucking like.
Granted, he didn't like the majority of people at the school, so it was inevitable that he'd find people he hated.
He gave a nod of his head in Benji's direction -- the most that the other dude would be receiving as any kind of greeting from Mason. And then his dark eyes had turned away, kind of scoping the place out, and once his gaze finally settled on what he actually wanted, well... it didn't take long for him now to open his mouth.
"I'm gonna go," he started, shrugging away from Addie's touch. "I'll ahh... see ya later." Mason added, his voice low as he gave another dip of his head and once he was free from Addie's grasp, he made a beeline for one thing and one thing only.
The alcohol table.
Mason had just made his way over, and was in the middle of pouring himself a drink, when someone bumped into his arm, causing him to splash alcohol across the table. There was a slow exhale through his nose, his dark eyes closing for a moment while he tried to calm himself, and then he turned his attention to the very fucked up bitch next to him, and there was a roll of his eyes when he saw who it was.
"Hey, Jade," he said, his voice deadpanned as he set the bottle down, drying his hand off on his pants leg, and then he picked up his cup, taking a sip from it before speaking again. What? He was gonna need to be at least a little buzzed to deal with her.
Benji’s eyes gave away everything for a few moments as they studied intently Addie’s arm on Mason’s. AJ kept her eyes focused on Benji, suppressing a proud smirk and resisting the urge to follow his gaze down to her hand. “Good to see you, Adeline,” he greeted finally, giving a nod to Mason, who nodded back at him and looked away. “Yeah, didn’t think I’d run into you at…the biggest party of the month.” With that, he nodded toward the densely populated room, gesturing to the crowd with his cup-occupied hand. When he looked back around from the crowd, his eyes immediately locked with hers.
Adeline’s heart gave a victorious thud in her chest; the upper hand was hers, and it was obvious.
“So,” Benji said, with a polite smile toward Mason, “you found a new friend?”
Even through Benji’s quite obviously forced casualness, Adeline could practically smell the jealousy seeping off of him, and she gave a little chuckle and looked toward Mason, batting her eyes for a moment. “A new friend, that’s what you are,” she said, her voice bearing the obvious tones of flirtation, and then she chuckled again. She turned her head back to Benj, giving Mason’s arm a little squeeze to call Benji’s attention back to its placement. “I guess you could call him that…” She gave Benji a little chuckle and spared Mason another glance. “Though we’re a bit too familiar for maybe just, like, new friend.”
Every glance at Mason was deliberate — intended as simply a thing for Benji to witness to…hm…test the waters so to speak — and the little smirk that kept trying to press its way onto her face and the upward curl of the words toward the end of her sentences surely gave a bit of her intentions away. Benji wasn’t an idiot, anyway; he’d know what she was trying to do.
That was what made it so fun.
"I've been here a minute, so I might bounce,” Benji said. “A friend invited me to a kickback over in Laguna. Said it might be a nice escape from the petty..." His expression snapped into stoniness, his eyes goading her. “...high school…drama.”
She feigned a curious expression, cocking her head slightly and giving a small “hmphf”. Inwardly, she was chuckling. So he wanted to play that game, did he?
He gave an obviously fake laugh. "And, you know, she might be right. People can really surprise you for the worst. Guess that's what happens when you don't speak your shit, heh."
Surprise you for the worst? Seriously?
As Benji tipped his cup up to his mouth and she opened her lips to say something, Mason shrugged away from Addie’s touch. Confusion and slightly offense seeping into her expression for a moment, she looked up at to him. “I’m gonna go,” he said, avoiding eye contact and dipping his head. “I’ll ahh…see ya later.”
She regained control of her expression, easily pressing on a smile. “Byyye,” she said, a twiddled finger wave as she watched him shove his way through the crowd.
Internally, she rolled her eyes. God. Seriously, what a fucking asshole. He needed to save up a little bit to buy himself a fucking personality.
With a giggle, she turned her eyes back to Benji. She blinked a few times, and then cocked her head, frowning slightly. “Oh, what was that you were saying, Benjamin?” She smiled pleasantly, batting her eyelashes innocently. “I was kind of preoccupied…”
She put a hand on her hip and shifted her weight to the same leg. “As a matter of fact…” She brushed a hand through her hair, sure to let her fingers linger a few moments longer than they had to. I hope you’re watching closely. “I was pretty preoccupied the whole game…” A smile came onto her face again, and she gave a melodramatic sigh, placing a hand over her heart in an over-the-top manner. “You know, when a girl gets asked to come to a party with a man like that…she just can’t help herself.” Her lips tugged into a smirk, and she looked him square in the eyes, taunting him a bit in a silent manner.
Finally, she sighed. “So what had you by the door, Benji? Surely you’re not leaving the biggest party of the month so soon?” she asked casually, checking her manicured fingernails then buffing them on her top. She allowed a pause, and then trailed her eyes up to Benji, a smirk playing at her lips as she locked her gaze on his. “Or…were you…waiting for someone? You did seem to…make yourself pretty at home in that spot to just be someone…passing through, so to speak, hmm?”
The glint in his eyes as she spoke told her he was game for her little idea long before his lips ever moved. Tho the confirmation was nice. Times like these it was easy to see how they were friends. She grinned taking his extended hand to help her get up.
Honestly any excuse to move about and not have to keep focusing on the confusing game before her was going to be a win in her book even if she lost right now. Somehow she knew he felt the same. She tapped her cheek lightly in thought because all she knew was she was bored outta her mind and needed to have some real entertainment. She hadn't actually decided on a game just yet when she extended the offer.
He wasn't like Ava or Puck or one of her more geeky friends that she could just suggest a puzzle or game console to because what were the odds he was packing on of those despite the fact she keeps hers on the ready. She wanted to do something they BOTH would enjoy.
So how about a social game! "What about a human scavenger hunt?" she suggested finally lighting up. No prep needed, it'd be easy for him, and just challenging enough for her to be interested and still following her whole 'new more social me' outlook.
"Pic.s or it didn't happen style." She chimed just before feeling something sticky slam into the middle of her back. "A-ah! what the?!" She turned quickly seeing the scene play out before her and touching her back. "Is this-?" Before she could finish her sentence she found herself dodging yet another balloon coming her way ducking down.
"Ok change of plans! how about whoever get's hit less by the time we get to the parking lot wins! come on slow poke!" She giggled tapping his shoulder before taking off running (A bit awkwardly through bleachers) towards his truck.
Three...Three balloons got her including the original in her back. One on her right shoulder that's now dripped down to her arm, and the last one on her chest. Not too bad considering she wasn't athletic or speedy, or had the best reflexes. She mostly just thanked her lucky stars it didn't get into her thick curls or else there'd be no party for her tonight just a hot date with a lot of shampoo and conditioner all night.
However she had to admit it was really funny and a great end to the game. It was kind of a bummer the whole thing got canceled, but maybe that was for the best. the players didn't seem all that into it. Or maybe they were and she just sucked at reading people...which considering her track record is a very real possibility.
"I got three how'd you fair?" She giggled curiously poking a spot with some glitter on him before spreading it to his cheek. "Who knew you could rock the sparkle." She smiled sweetly before climbing into his truck. She used her bag propped behind her back so that she wouldn't get too much glitter on his seats.
"Hey do you mind if we make a pit stop before the party? As great as you look, I'd rather not show up covered in glue." She teased lightly before clasped her hands together pleading to him with puppy dog eyes. "Just a quickie by my place?" Amy wasn't one to usually dabble in innuendos so it completely zoomed over her head and suggestive word choice. "You can come in and shower too if you want." she offered, "Don't worry It's a co-ed housing so there's guy showers!" she explained.
“Do you realize what you fucking did? Fucking puppy eyes won’t change my opinion.”
“I… these are my normal eyes–” Her head tilted upwards slightly, trying to gauge his answer before he’d even said it, a mixture of desperation and hope written everywhere on her features.
“You — You ruined fucking senior homecoming, Mer. That shit doesn’t get away with just a…”
“You know I didn’t mean to, Chels– and I–” Mercedes had given up on words altogether, completely overselling the saddened expression with a full-on pout.
The car was put in reverse and her eyes went wide.
Oh my god, oh my god–
“Don’t say a single fucking word to me, because I will change my mind.”
Say a word that is.
But the smile on her lips had said more than enough, although it dimmed with his next sentence..
“I’m not doing this because I give a shit what happens to you after you did some shit like that, so don’t fucking celebrate,”
Chelsea continued but Mercedes had tuned most of it out, a sudden ball of worry forming in the pit of her stomach at the thought of her parents’ finding out about tonight’s planned chaos, sure– the water works could… work.
But with her car already getting taken away over something so small…
Mer didn’t really know what she’d be in for.
She wasn’t going to worry about that, Mercedes needed to look presentable.
“Pain in my ass,”
“Best. Brother. Ever.” She said, pulling out a few things from her pink duffle bag and flipping the sun visor down.
She only had a few minutes and there was absolutely no way Mercedes was walking into this party expecting to see Matty completely bare-faced and all… ugly.
“You try any shit tonight and you’re actually fucking dead, got that? I don’t mean that as a fucking joke, either. You’re actually. Fucking. Dead.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m not planning on flopping into the family plot anytime soon.” Before he could say anything more, Mercedes turned on the radio– because who likes to do makeup in complete silence?
Definitely something by Katy Perry was on, so… poor CK but Mercedes had a feeling he didn’t really mind this song, so.
She cranked it up and got to work with the few minutes she had.
“And when we get there, you gotta wait outside so I can change– just make sure no one looks in here.”
CK had complied and stood guard while she struggled to change inside the benz and she probably hit her head once or twice on the roof, but otherwise… Mercedes stumbled out of the car, holding onto CK while she adjusted the strap of her heel.
“Remember my fucking warning,”
“Uh-huh. I have great memory.” She’d seen Drake pass by and Mercedes was gone in the matter of seconds, catching up with him and explaining how she had magically convinced CK to come to the party.
She had done a little twirl of her dress, too.
Hey, if you don’t have a boyfriend, get your best friend to gas you up.
Mercedes had no idea where CK was and she was thriving because of it, while the outside had their own… entertainment, there was music inside. No sign of Matty yet, so Mer & Drake were busting up the makeshift dance floor.
(yeah, that was canonically them)
Obviously, they were the hottest pair there.
Okay, fine, it was debatable but they were having fun, so…
After a few songs or so, the blonde was out of breath and only mildly sweaty when she excused herself to find a drink– preferably alcoholic, because it’s a party and there was no way she’d be able to muster up the courage to talk to Matty sober.
She probably could if she tried and all… but she’d rather not take chances.
Mercedes had winded up at the drink table, clearly overwhelmed by the choices– it wasn’t like she’s never been drunk before, although drinking was a little new…
Mercedes was yet to find something she enjoyed drinking. Her hand hovered over a simple beer before switching over to the bottle of vodka.
“Go big or go home– and I do… not wanna go home, so…” She spoke aloud to herself when a familiar voice had caught her attention. A blush settled on her cheeks when she had realized that he had probably overheard her speak to seemingly nobody, but Mer decided not to address it.
Thankfully, neither did he.
"Hey, Mer, you look nice," Edwin said, the clear liquid pouring into the red solo cup and she offered a smile towards him, placing the bottle down.
“Thank you, I had a limited amount of time to get ready so I’m glad someone thinks so. After the whole prank… CK was…”
"Thought you'd be a cadaver after the game, if I'm honest."
A hand brushed his words away, shaking her head as she did so and leaning over to grab the pineapple juice.
“If we’re being honest, so did I– but my natural charm had kicked in.” She teased, a smile spreading across her lips from her own joke.
Mer swirled the cup a little, seemingly satisfied with the drink after the first sip. It was like… pretty strong, but… it was a quick way to get the end result.
"You, me, and Drake make a good team,"
“Mhm…” Mercedes agreed, her gaze wandering and searching for a particular boy. She wasn’t trying to be rude or anything! Ed was super nice and all, but she was here for potential boyfriends–
One potential boyfriend.
"If you ever, um, need access to the football water again... you know who to call."
And then she finally spotted him, Mercedes perked up visibly and returned her attention to Edwin, waiting for him to finish… whatever he was talking about? What was he saying again?
"Or, you could call me for anything. Like... math answers. I usually have them by midnight if Petra or whoever isn't asleep. Or... mad at me."
“I don’t even think I have your number,” Mercedes said, a small chuckle escaping while her gaze bounced back from Edwin to Matty continuously.
A heavy silence sat between them and Mer took a long sip of her drink, trying to come up with a nice enough way to excuse herself.
"I've got this, if you're interested." Edwin said, his words sparking clear interest in Mercedes. Her brows furrowed momentarily, a curious glint in her eye appeared when he reached into his pocket.
"You in?" He leaned in and Mer began to mull it over.
She’s been high… maybe a total of two times? It was pretty…
Pretty fuckin’ fun, she wasn’t going to lie.
“Actually…?” The smile on her lips widened ever so slightly, when a flash of movement had caught her eye and she noticed Matty going into the backyard.
He can wait…
With cheekbones like that? No ma’am.
“I’ll… meet up with you in thirty, maybe…” Mer had lowered his hand, declining his offer for now and she took a few steps away, drink in hand and taking a sip.
She couldn’t make herself seem stuck-up or anything, so Mer was quick to return the compliment he had given minutes earlier.
“Oh! You uh… you look really nice, too.”
A last smile was offered for a goodbye and Mercedes had made her way towards the backyard, carefully weaving through the crowd of people.
“Don’t tell me you disappeared in the matter of five freaking–”
Mer had rounded the corner and bumped into someone, somehow not spilling the entire content of her cup and a splash had ended up on the grass beneath them.
Turns out that attempting to speak to an ex of yours where you kind of left on sort of bad terms was... not a good idea. To be honest, Ash wasn't even sure what had first dragged her over here. Some deep-seated need to have some sort of more meaningful closure to... what?
Could she even fully call it a relationship?
"Surprised you're talking to me," Ryder said, "Isn't that gonna piss off that fucking boyfriend of yours?"
She wanted an out, but there was no out. She wanted to step back, but that wouldn't give her the answers that she wanted so badly, would it?
The sprinklers turned on, and suddenly a spray of water was hitting her. She flinched, blinking down at the sprinkler in confusion for a moment, before she stepped out of the way--
And right into the path of a balloon that exploded against the side of her head, sending a mixture of glue, glitter, and confetti across her face. She let out a surprised gasp, but the surprised gasp left her mouth open and, well... glue dripped into her mouth. Spitting it out on the ground in front of her, Ash lifted up a hand to wipe the sticky liquid away from her eyes and around her mouth. Her hands flicked, trying to send it off of her fingers, but that didn't work.
For a moment, she stood there, the sprinkler soaking her even more, glue dripping down her face, her eyes focused on the ground in front of her... and she was all too aware of the guy still standing in front of her.
Her mouth opened, her lips beginning to form the starting sentence of a simple fuck you directed towards Ryder, but... she couldn't do it. Something stopped those words from leaving her mouth.
And so, instead, she just pushed past him and headed towards the exit.
Fuck the game. Fuck the cheerleaders. Fuck--
So, Ash's dad was kind of really into football, and since her boyfriend was on the team, he'd insisted on coming to the game. Yeah, kind of embarrassing, especially when you had to show up to the game in your dad's car. And it also meant that she'd had to wait for her dad and Jace before they could leave.
"How'd that happen?" he whined from the passenger seat. "How'd they get that... that many balloons-- a-and the sprinklers! How'd no one notice, huh? Huh? And one of 'em -- one was a cheerleader," Jace turned around in the seat to glare back at Ash, "how'd you not know they were planning it, huh? Or were you in on it?"
"No," she snapped back, her voice harsher than it probably needed to be. "I didn't know they were planning that."
Jace huffed, turning back around in his seat. "Should've made someone else cheer captain..." he grumbled, his voice just quiet enough so that Ash could barely hear his words.
Without thinking, she leaned forward and smacked him in the shoulder. Her brother flinched away, but Ash didn't stop -- she hit him again, and again, and--
"Ashton, stop!" Her father's voice yelled out as he used one hand to shove Ash away from Jace as best he could. The car swerved and sent Ash back into her seat. Once her dad had the car back under control, he spoke. "What the hell has gotten into? Why would you hit Jace?"
Still no answer.
"Ashton, I'm wai--"
"I don't know," she snapped, and sank lower into the seat.
"Ashton, right now."
Sucking in a deep breath, she crossed her arms over her chest and looked towards Jace, whose smug face was focused back on her. "I am so sorry for hitting you," she said through gritted teeth.
The rest of the ride was nothing but silence, and once they'd arrived, Ash wasted no time in climbing out of the car and slamming the door behind her and headed towards her room to get cleaned up. Luckily, it wasn't as hard to get glue out of one's hair as she'd first thought it would be, although she was pretty sure that there was still some glitter on her face and clinging to her hair, but, well... that would have to be dealt with later.
To be honest, Ash hadn't really known what to wear. Like, she hadn't actually gotten any dress for Homecoming -- part of her hadn't really wanted to go, and the idea of going to this party... well, she just didn't want to. Like, at all, but like... it would be weird if she didn't go. And some part of her was scared of what would happen if she missed out.
Laurel and JJ would probably start some stupid rumor.
While she was debating, she ended up getting a text on her phone -- from the fucking cheer group, of JJ suddenly claiming the color red.
Well, that certainly made her decision easier.
Her dress wasn't anything fancy -- just something she'd gotten a year or so ago and wore every now and then. But it was red, and that's what mattered.
It didn't take her long to get ready, although she did spend a fair amount of time turned to the side, hands pressed against the bare part of her stomach that showed through the cloth. She sucked in her gut, trying to make herself appear skinnier or something, and she almost took the whole thing off and changed to something else.
But fuck it. This was to piss JJ off.
And what would they even do? Call her fat or something?
Get new material.
With a heavy breath, she headed downstairs to meet Jace and Cappie. The ride? More or less silent, or at least from Jace -- at least she could manage small talk with Cappie.
And once they'd gotten to the party, she found herself hanging near Cappie for a few, until she'd eventually excused herself from him to go and speak to someone that didn't totally hate her.
"Artie," she greeted as she bounced up to them. "Great party -- I can't believe you let Evie host it here, though. Do you, like... owe her or something?"
What? Ash never would've let Evie host a party at her house. Seemed like too much work.
CK’s gait grew heavier and heavier by the second, his muscles growing more and more tense as he balled his fists tighter and tighter by his sides. With his sister gone from his sight, there was no anchor to the real world that kept Chelsea’s thoughts from plunging back into the swirling, angry vortex of a psyche that pulled him deeper and deeper into murderous rage, no one to stop him from reminding himself of just how fucking shit the night had turned out to be, all because no one fucking knew how to behave like a goddamn normal person. Not his fucking shit-for-brains bastard of a “father”, who decided that before a game was the perfect fucking time to remind him, in a long-winded lecture beside the front door, that the family fucking future depended on CK like that wasn’t already what his entire existence hinged upon. Not his fucking coach, who fucking screamed at the obviously fucking worst players on the team who ran around like fucking headless chickens until he gave himself hemorrhoids tonight while he was benched at the biggest game of the year because he didn’t know how to fucking use basic logic and shit. And especially not his fucking little sister. The battlefield that the football stadium had become replayed in his mind, reigniting the anger associated with it.
He’d spared her for now, but she would still pay later.
The fucking noise of this place wasn’t helping, either. Bitches who thought they were hot swayed to the beat of the music that was bass-boosted to near unintelligibility against twiggy fucking two-pubed jackasses. One chick was deciding to scream at another, and a small crowd was around that. With so much going on around him, he had to laser his mind in on his target to keep from completely fucking snapping. Grabbing one of the people hanging from the bannister and snapping them would surely be cathartic, though. It was only for the sake of keeping his hands clean tonight that he didn’t. If he was going to have to drive Mer home, anyway, which was a fucking chore in and of itself, he didn’t want to give her ammo for fucking pestering where she tried to equate them to one another.
Shit. He had to drive her home — fuck!
I can’t even fucking drink, he thought, enraged, as he turned a corner and saw the drink table from across the room.
It seemed as though he was right on the money when he thought that that was where Mer would be. He spotted her first of the two, and he paused his walking for a moment, fully intending to lean back against a wall and try and act casual as he maintained a line of sight on her. The party would be fucking shit for him anyway, without him drinking, and he felt like it was his fucking duty to babysit her all night — or at least for a little bit — so she didn’t fucking make more of a mockery of him or of herself.
But then, he spotted the other kid.
With a fierce blush that CK could spot even from over here and an object that was obviously something smoke-able in hand, a boy that was about Mer’s height leaned in close to her with a sly grin on his face.
CK’s anger snapped into fury.
All disgusting, hormonal, acne-ridden fucking pigs known as little fucking boys that attended this school, as fucking gross and lawless as they were, seemed to unanimously understand one unsaid fucking rule: stay away from Mercedes Camus. The reason why was simple: her big brother will beat your ass.
Clearly, one kid didn’t seem to get the memo, and, unfortunately for said kid, CK was in the mood to catch him up.
Shoving his way through the center of the room with his shoulders, CK reached the side of the table just as Mer disappeared into the crowd behind him, leaving the short boy alone by the drink table. Focused now on inflicting a worthy punishment on the little fucking jackass — a punishment worthy enough to make up for CK’s entire fucking shitty night and for trying some shit with Mer — Chelsea stomped up to the short kid. He glowered down at him for a split second before he grasped him tightly by the collar of his shirt and throttled him for a moment, knocking the kid’s back against the table and sending a few drinks spilling off the side, and then he yanked him forward.
Leaning his face down to be a couple inches from the kid’s, CK spoke in a low growl, “Listen, third-grade motherfucker — I’ve already had a bad fucking night.” He tightened his grip on the kid’s shirt. “You’ve got three seconds to explain what the fuck you were doing harassing my sister. And you better make. It. Fucking. Good.”
Yikes, CK really had no chill, huh? Had Drake had any kind of survival instinct, then he might've actually briefly feared for his life, but there was nothing. No hint of fear on his face as CK grabbed him up -- there was just that same goofy smile that was basically always plastered on his face.
What? Worst thing that would happen is the dude got a few hits in on him. Mer would be pissed 'cause Drake was her bestie, and then Mason would fight CK for little Drake's honor. See? No reason to get all up in a tizzy 'bout it.
However, CK dropped him, and Drake lost his balance -- which meant he went tumbling backwards off the bench and landed on his ass in the now damp grass. He blinked for a moment, and then let out a laugh as he hopped back up to his feet. Good thing 'bout black jerseys was how no stains would be shown.
And from there, it was a whirlwind of activity. Drake lost Artie somewhere in the mess, but he kept on throwing the balloons and playing around. What? He intended to enjoy as much of this as he could.
Eventually, people were being pushed out, so there wasn't really anyone left. Bummer. Drake knew he should head out and try to bum a ride to the party, but he was covered in glue, glitter, and mud. And Evie had made it very clear that this was a classy party. He couldn't be turning up to it looking like this!
So he went to the locker room showers, stepped in fully clothed, and washed the dirt and grime from his uniform.
Now he looked snazzy as hell and ready for the party.
(Yes, he was planning on showing up to the party in a wet football uniform. Evie could deal with it.)
'Course, before he went, well... he had to deal with a little somethin' somethin' first, if you were catching his drift.
There was a huge grin plastered on his face, kind of a... dopey smile, that is.
Yeah, he'd shooted up with some fun.
If you were catching his drift.
Hint hint, wink wink.
His uniform had mostly dried off, and certainly not at all thanks to him standing up in some dude's car and hanging out of the sunroof just for the pure ol' joy of it. Nah, it had dried au naturale and now it was time to try and party it up.
He'd already made his way around, and at some point in the night, he'd danced with Mer. They'd totally gotten it on, with Mer even doing a lil twerk, which Drake had tried to mimic, but he just didn't have the right umpf for it, ya know.
Now that he'd parted from her, though, (no doubt because she was gonna go try and lay the moves on Matty) he'd found himself standing in the midst of the party, his bleary eyes lazily traveling around, trying to focus on one or another person.
But oh boy oh boy, there was none other than ol' Chase! Chase was always a hell a lotta fun! It was kinda disappointing that he was a cheerleader, though, 'cause it meant that they didn't get to hangout nearly as much. Which really made Drake go all aww boo why not ya know how it was. But it did leave the door open for the two of the to have a beautiful, stereotypical high school relationship of sexy football player and arm candy cheerleader.
Just, ya know, make it gay.
Bouncing his way over, Drake didn't really wait to greet Chase before he'd practically jumped on to the other boy, which kinda almost made the both of them topple and as Drake was trying to catch his balance from bouncing into Chase, he'd ended up catching himself (and also kinda crashing into) someone else.
As he straightened himself up, hands resting on the rockhard chest of his savior, Drake let out a laugh followed by a "sorry, sorry" before he squinted up, his gaze taking a moment to focus in on who'd saved him.
"Heyyyy," he said, drawing out the last syllable. There was a snicker, a lopsided grin kind of covering his face as he reached up, grabbing either side of the guy's face. "Cappieee! My man!" He snickered again, his hands falling down, but only for a moment before he tossed an arm around Chase's shoulders, yanking the fella towards his side. "Chase and I were just 'bout to hang, weren't we, buddy?" He asked, kind of shaking Chase as he did so. "Wanna come with? Huh huh huh?"
She didn't know what hurt the most: Damien's infidelity, or the fact that he didn't even know why she could be mad in the first place. As if he was just an innocent little boy who couldn't hurt a fly, and Carlotta was nothing but a psychopath there to ruin the party. Whether he was truly clueless, or he planned on gaslighting his way out of the conversation, she knew to make sure to not let it interfere with her fury.
"Maybe I am crazy, Damien! But at least I'm not a fucking cheater!" She yelled, painfully aware that their scene was starting to get the attention of some of the other partygoers. Attention she didn't mind - most of the time she reveled in being the center of everyone's conversations. But that desire had its limits, and while she loved the idea of Damien being publicly humiliated for what he'd done, the thought of her classmates seeing her in such a vulnerable moment made her stomach turn. Carlotta was fun! The life of the party! The person everyone wanted to invite to their events and keep around as a source of entertainment. Not someone who would let a man like Damien Slater make her cry. And who in their right mind would stand someone like that?
"I wouldn't," she thought solemnly, "so keep it together, woman!"
Determined, she stuck her hand inside of her corset (her outfit had pockets, and she'd brought a purse, but keeping her things in her bust was more of a fashion statement than something out of necessity) and retrieved her phone. "'I didn't do shit, I didn't do shit. Oooh, look at me! I'm Damien Slater and I'm a perfect little angel!'" she mocked as she went through her screenshots, her voice lowering unnaturally to mimic his voice. "What's this, then? Huh? What brilliant explanation do you have for this?"
Shining bright on her home screen was proof of the messages she'd gotten from JJ detailing Damien's infidelity. Unfortunately, she'd forgotten to ask the girl for pictures of what Damien had actually said - so she didn't know how far they'd actually gone. But knowing him, and based on what she'd been told, she knew it couldn't be some friendly and innocent conversation.
"We had a deal, you slut! We only date each other, we only kiss each other, we only fuck each other! How stupid do you think I am? Think very carefully if you think I want you to answer that," she screeched. "I trusted you, damn it! I don't know why I trusted someone with a nickname like yours but...shit. You constantly demean me, you insult me, you talk about me behind my back, and you constantly try to put me down but that's fine! I've never said anything about that! But the one thing I asked you to do - very simple - was just to keep it in your pants and you couldn't even do that?! She's not even prettier than me!"
Benji's eyes twitched back to Mason's arm, leaving him only to roll his eyes into the back of his head. AJ's voice was of honey and of poison, her spiky words dancing along around Benji's head like birds in a cartoon. The girl's date seemed indifferent, only offering a curt nod in his direction. In that moment, he was the closest he'd ever come to socking Mason Sourpuss Rivera square in the nose.
Somehow, he still couldn't shake that feeling of shock and jealousy that crept up into his chest like brambles, constricting his innards with their aggravating, thorny grip. Benji was always a mellow guy—in fact, it was his shtick—but if it was one thing Addie was good at, it was making him crazy. Fortunately, it was only when she wanted to, and that wasn't to say that he didn't feel some amount of control when confronting her ugly side. Even if her cunning, earthy eyes dared an escape attempt, Benji kept his own locked onto hers, boring into her skull like a laser.
Mason's voice cut through the brief, minute silence, rousing the sparring pair's attention to their raven-haired peer's exit. A victorious smirk tugged at Benji's cheek as he barred himself from the formality of a simple goodbye, watching quietly as the guy pulled away and excused himself from the war he found himself lost in. The space around them fell into a momentary hush just until Mason was safely out of earshot. Benji could only look back at Addie with a lifted brow, condescending on her second-rate ploy for attention.
"Mason? Seriously?" he mocked dryly, losing his capacity for pity moment by moment, "Didn't really see the chemistry, if I'm honest." He would almost say he thought differently of her, but both of them knew that wasn't true.
The unsmiling junior let out a covertly long, deep breath to lower his heart rate, something he learned for a much different problem. Either way, it applied quite nicely for feigning disinterest while this lunatic ran her delicate fingers through her blonde, silken locks. His eyes studied her every movement, which was regrettably a calculation made by Addie during the orchestration of this little game.
"Yeah, seemed like you abandoned post," he retorted with a rough-yet-playful laugh, "I've always admired your sense of integrity, Ads." He kept his words minced and simple, ignoring but never forgetting the placement of his conversation partner's hands, or the subject of her gaze, or the words that spilled so gratingly from her innocently smiling lips. "It took ages to get that glue out of Ash's hair, you know." He hadn't even spoken to the cheer captain at the game, but having her name in his arsenal was a powerful tool.
Benji wavered, nearly choking on his drink as the topic changed to his presence by the door. He placed a fist against his mouth, propping it up with his elbow to assume a pensive, dispassionate stance. "Life is a waiting game, so to speak." A spark of intensity flared in his eyes and just then, it seemed ever so obvious how much he towered over the smug girl before him. "Maybe I was counting the amount of bubblegum bitch and Batman couples walking through the door. Maybe I was waiting for Christmas."
He cocked his head to the side, keeping his wits and his stare sharp as ever. "And what did I find?" he challenged, pausing a beat to let his words sink into the air, "Or rather, tell me Adeline, what found me?" He drew in closer, his breaths hot and heavy while his voice fell to a whisper. "You're the mind reader."
They were close now, Benji's hand making a gradual movement to her hip. "Read mine."
For a really long moment, all Xander could do was kinda... stare at this dude. Well, well, well, how the turn tables had... uhh... turned. The dude had gone from threatening Xander to making a simple deal, all in regards to him just having to help with a little bit of vandalism.
"Alright, alright," he agreed, as he cautiously opened his backpack back up to let Deo take out a can of his voice. "But I only got a few minutes. Gotta get home early to hep with the party we're having tonight, ya know."
Which was definitely totally not being hosted at the Gardner's for the simple reason that a certain someone had been caught doing exactly this. Really, Xander's game could use some improvement -- right now, getting caught twice within the same couple weeks was just an embarrassment to everything that he held near and dear to him. Not that he'd ever been one to really hide his craft.
With both boys now equipped with their weapons of choice, Xander followed along after Deo's lead, and set to work vandalizing whatever the other boy wanted to do. Naturally, he rolled with his dicks, but he also threw a few other things in there. Pretty much whatever tickled his fancy at the moment.
Thanks to being outside in the parking lot, neither boy was hit by the balloons nor the sprinklers so once all was said and done, Xander was able to head back home relatively untouched. Relatively, because his hands were stained with some paint -- a nice of mixture of oranges and greens that had kind of turned to a really ugly brown on the tips of his fingers, but hey, whatever. It was an artist's ahh... something.
But now, the party was in full swing. Xander wasn't really the type to do anything over the top outfit wise, so he'd thrown on a simple black button up shirt, and his jeans. Nothing all too fancy, but fancy enough that he was hoping to not get booted out of his own house.
As he'd made his way around, his dark gaze settled on a girl that had asked to see him here. It was... kind of a surprise, ya know? Xander had just come back to school, so his game was rusty as heck, but he was... strangely excited -- about the girl.
With a nervous smile, he'd made his way over, his hands half in the pockets of his jeans, his shoulders kind of slouched nervously.
"Ophelia, yeah?" He asked, a grin on his face, and he pulled a hand from his pocket -- making sure to wipe it off on his pants leg to remove any sweat -- and then held his hand out for a handshake. "Xander. You know, Twitter and ahh... stuff. You wanted to hang, yeah?"
Some part of him wanted to clarify if this was a date or not, but he kept that question swallowed.
There was a reason Damien had never dated, and the reason was standing right here before him, angrily berating him about... about what? Some fucking accusations that he'd cheated on her? Which he'd definitely not done, and totally hadn't even gotten close to doing.
Well it's true. It's not like he would've fucked JJ, even if she'd wanted to.
Look it wasn't fucking important, because it hadn't happened, and it wasn't going to happen.
He brought a hand up to wipe across his face -- partially to cover the rolling of his eyes, and partially to wipe away the last of the alcohol, before he bothered to try and speak to his fucking psycho ass bitch girlfriend.
"I didn't fucking cheat on you," he said through gritted teeth. His voice was dangerously low, and although people were staring, it wasn't like Slater really gave a fucking shit at this point. They all knew about this fucking disaster of a relationship, and really, what did he fucking care, anyway? They had their opinions set regarding Slater and Carlotta, and no amount of argument was going to change it or worsen their impressions.
"My dick," to make sure that she knew what he was talking about, Slater angrily pointed his hands at his crotch, "didn't go anywhere near that fucking bitch. I don't control the fact that she can't stop talking about it, though."
"And I don't get why you for a second would believe what that bitch said about us. Did you see any proof that I said anything she said I did? Huh? Did you even bother to fucking talk to me? She's a bitch that's had it out for me for fucking ever, but hey," Slater raised his hands up. "If you wanna believe some fake ass slut that tries to start drama just to see people cry instead of your actual fucking boyfriend, then go right the fuck ahead."
A human scavenger hunt sounded like an amazing idea, as far as Justin was concerned. It was the type of game that he could actually get behind -- except that before Amy could finish laying out the rules, chaos seemed to erupt around them. She turned around, and there was a curious expression on his face, eyebrows drawing together in confusion... right up until Amy dodged something in front of them and smack.
A mixture of glue and glitter splattered across his chest. He stumbled back, less from impact and more just because he was confused, as his fingers came up to touch the sticky substance and confirm that -- yep -- this was glue.
"Ok change of plans! how about whoever get's hit less by the time we get to the parking lot wins! come on slow poke!" She giggled and before Justin could give an actual answer back, Amy had whipped past him and taken off.
He stood there for a moment in confusion, until he felt another balloon smash against his back, and then he kind of remembered what they were supposed to be doing, so he took off down the bleachers.
Unfortunately, Justin was not a small target, nor was he very good at dodging things, so by time they'd made it out? Yeah, he was pretty much covered in glue and glitter. He'd made it to the truck after Amy and as he rolled up, there was no denying who'd won. Glue was dripping down Justin's shirt, clinging to his bare arms, and his hair was now styled with a mixture of pink glitter and confetti glued to the strands.
"I got three how'd you fair?" She asked, and her finger brushed across his cheek to spread some of the glue. "Who knew you could rock the sparkle."
Justin let out a chuckle, and then gestured to himself. "Lost count at ahh... five or something?" He said with another laugh, and a hand reached up to brush through his hair... only to coat his fingers in glue. Right. "C'mon, Amy, I can pull of anything." He said and kind of posed, holding his hands out to his sides with a grin. "Think I should show up like this? I'll call it like ahh... Glitter by Ivy or some dumb shit."
"Hey do you mind if we make a pit stop before the party? As great as you look, I'd rather not show up covered in glue." She teased lightly before clasped her hands together pleading to him with puppy dog eyes. "Just a quickie by my place?" Amy wasn't one to usually dabble in innuendos so it completely zoomed over her head and suggestive word choice.
"You can come in and shower too if you want." she offered, "Don't worry It's a co-ed housing so there's guy showers!" she explained.
Justin figured he should probably tell Amy that that was... not a good choice of words, but c'mon... it'd be like correcting a kid or... something. He didn't know, just that he'd never really had it in him to do anything that might embarrass or hurt Amy.
"Yeah, 'course we can," he said as he walked around the truck to the driver's side. He opened it up, unlocking it so that Amy could also hop in, and then he popped open one of the back doors to rummage in a bag he had. Who knew that keeping extra sets of clothes would come in handy some day? "Wasn't really planning on ahh... that, but I brought a change of clothes that should work for the party, I guess."
With a shrug of his shoulders, he closed the back door and then hopped up into the driver's seat, pulling the door closed and starting up his truck. Once it'd rumbled to life, he threw into in drive and they were off.
After the quick pitstop at Amy's place, the two of them were fresh, clean, mostly de-glitterfied, and on their way to the party. Unfortunately, they'd arrived a bit late, so Justin ended up having to park his truck a bit away.
But, well, at least it was a nice enough day in LA for the walk to the actual party. And now that they were there, well... Justin didn't really waste too much time in leading Amy towards where the drinks were.
What? He was ready to get the party started or... so to speak.
As he took a sip of his mixed drink, Justin cast a glance around the crowd, before his gaze came back to rest on Amy with an easy smile.
"Ya know, Jones," he started, "you kinda surprise me sometimes. I didn't know you had such good ya know... dodge moves, and you never took me for the party type of girl."
Well, she didn't. Seemed to kind of go against the grain of what Amy seemed to be.
Adeline studied Benji’s face carefully, particularly focusing on his dark eyes. Though his eyes held the same odd mystery about them that they always held — the frustrating mystery that claimed that there was some part about him that she could never figure out that had kept her intrigue this long to begin with — Adeline had no doubt in her mind that Benji understood exactly what was going on here. Good. So he wasn’t a complete dumbass — though, to give him credit, she never thought that he was — and her efforts weren’t wasted — though, to give herself credit, her efforts were, in one way or another, never wasted. He’d passed at least that part of the test.
“Yeah, seemed like you abandoned post,” he said, giving her an almost taunting laugh, “I’ve always admired your sense of integrity, Ads.”
She pressed her smile wider, ironically playing the innocent, clueless character for a moment and ignoring the implications of his words and his undertones, instead giving him an, “Aw, Benji, so kind. Really. I mean it.”
“It took ages to get that glue out of Ash’s hair, you know,” Benji said.
A flicker of irritation dipped Addie’s brow for a split second at the name of one of the many other blonde cheerleaders who happened to be a member of the school-sanctioned Sluts Anonymous more formally known as the cheer team. That was literally so unrelated to anything — was he trying to change the subject? That was literally the worst fucking way to try and do it.
Serves the little whore right, she wanted to say, but instead, she gave a soft chuckle. “Really? You’re kidding,” she said, keeping her tone that of breezy sarcasm, intentionally playing as though she had focused on the getting glue out of hair part instead of the whole Ash thing. “I really honestly figured glue and glitter would come right out. Color me shocked, hm.”
We’re literally so fucking off topic.
She chuckled, and then she frowned slightly, furrowing her brows as though troubled. “But that seems a little bit…hm…” She reached up to brush her hair behind her ear to reveal a glittering diamond earring, and then breathed a sigh. “It’s just that…well, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were trying to change the subject or something.” A cunning smile easily worked its way back onto her face. “I’m really, really deeply sorry if I offended you. If I knew that you waiting by the door was such a sensitive subject…”
Calling his attention to her question again seemed to do the trick. For a moment, he wavered, and her smile inadvertently pressed bit wider. After a moment, he placed his fist against his mouth, propping it up on his elbow. “Life is a waiting game, so to speak,” he said finally. In the aftermath of his sentence, his eyes gave a strange flash, as though something had clicked in his mind. God, he thinks he’s in some sort of control here. How sad. “Maybe I was counting the amount of bubblegum bitch and Batman couples walking through the door. Maybe I was waiting for Christmas.”
“Hm…,” she buzzed, cocking her head slightly and trying to determine just what the hell his next move would be.
His head cocked to the side, too. “And what did I find?”
At his pause, she smiled again. “Hm…?”
“Or rather, tell me Adeline, what found me?”
All at once, she noticed how close he was in proximity to her; when he drew even closer, she felt as though she could feel the heat of his body, could hear the sounds of his breaths. Her eyes trailed up his chest as she drew in a long, slow breath and found their landing place on his. Fuck, he was so much taller than him. When he spoke, his words were a whisper. “You’re the mind reader,” he said.
She wavered for a moment, her lips poising themselves open before she realized that they had done such a thing. “I…”
The still, small voice in her head cut in, demanding, What the fuck are you doing, Adeline?
Oh, right. She had to fucking win.
With a chuckle, she closed her eyes for a moment, brushing her hair behind her ear again with a confident smile. “I don’t need to read your mind, Benjamin.” She smiled up at him, looking him almost jeeringly in the eyes. “You’re already speaking for yourself.” She gazed over his body, then reached forward and tapped his chest with her fingernail with a soft giggle. “I can read every bit of you.” With a chuckle, she folded an arm to support her elbow and poised her hand on the side of her face dreamily, adding, in a lilting voice, “Like a book.”
She began to step away from him, taking a few steps toward the drink table, before she stopped. She took a moment of pause, pretending to think in a theatrical way, with a hand beneath her chin and her head cocking this way and that. Finally, she looked over her shoulder, an almost pitying expression on her face. “Oh…but…” She frowned slightly, turning her body back around to face him and stepping toward him again, her hand still beneath her chin and her eyes downcast. “I suppose if…what I’m hearing from you is correct, though…hm…”
A smirk slipped onto her face, and she looked up and into Benj’s eyes.
Go in for the kill.
With a soft chuckle, in a low, girlish voice, she said, “You really are so jealous, aren’t you?”
It was kind of weird, but there was almost a relieved sigh that escaped Ash's lips when Artie talked to her just, like, normally. It was dumb -- she knew that. But it was just nice to start a conversation without someone looking like they wanted her dead, or insulting her boyfriend, or telling her she didn't deserve cheer captain, or that she'd done a shit job with the cheer performance, or--
Basically, it was just nice to have a conversation that wasn't laced with venom. A conversation where she didn't feel like she immediately had to be on guard, and the cautious smile she'd had warmed up.
"You could say that. Thanks for coming, though! You look great." They said with a grin. "Nothing new there, though."
She let out a small laugh, a faint blush coming to her cheeks at the compliment followed by a wink from her friend. Ash looked down for a moment, to kind of kill the redness in her cheeks, and gave a little shrug as she brushed her hands over the dress. "What can I say? JJ said not to wear red and I just, like... totally had to try and show her up."
Emphasis on try, because she knew there was no way she would.
"And you look amazing," Ash continued. She reached forward, her hand brushing against the striped shirt. "This? Looks totally hot on you."
"Wild night, huh?" Artie asked, taking a sip from the cup in their hand. "Anyway, where's your boy toy? Can't believe he'd leave a pretty thing like you hanging."
There was silence for a moment as her hand dropped back to her side, followed by another shrug from her shoulders. "Who knows?" She said with a breathy sigh. "We didn't, like, umm... come together. I mean, like, I don't even really know if he's... coming to the party, actually. I think he is. Maybe. No, probably. I mean, like, I doubt he'd... miss it. I'll find him later, or... yeah, yeah I'll find him later."
Ash kind of found herself stumbling through her words, kind of from a mixture of guilt and embarrassment. Like, what kind of girlfriend was she that she had shown up without her boyfriend? And that she didn't even know where he was? And that she hadn't even texted him to see if he was coming, or how he'd fared following Glueageddon? Like, shouldn't even of those things come to her mind?
Of course, he could've done the same, but...
Her priorities were still, like, way off.
"What about you?" She asked, her troubled gaze meeting Artie's. A little smile spread across her face. "I mean, you've gotta have, like, all sorts of people throwing themselves at you, right?"
See, if she just turned the conversation back away from Dalton, then she wouldn't feel guilty... right?
You know, one thing they didn’t ever tell you about cheer uniforms was just how much they rode up in the crotch.
“This is for the victory, Syddy. Beauty is pain,” he reminded himself in a quiet voice. Wearing a focused expression, he gripped the corners of the grimy sink with one hand as he struggled to wrench a finger between his skin and his waistband to pull the straining skirt straight. “For all the…” He narrowed his eyes at the reflection of his operation, then squinted down at it. “…chicken…dinner…” There were soft scratching noises as his finger struggled to grip the fabric enough to turn it. “…brownie…points…” He sighed deeply, realizing that his plan wasn’t working, and he defeatedly sunk his shoulders for a moment. “Some kinda…food…something,” he finished in a mutter.
Looked like he was just gonna have to deal with it.
Resolving himself to his fate for the sake of free lunch, Syd slipped his finger out of the waistband. There was a small snap! of the elastic against his skin, and he hissed in pain, grimacing. For a moment, he mourned the loss of the one option he momentarily believed that he had for making this experience at least slightly comfortable for himself, gazing sadly at himself in the mirror.
“Hey,” he said aloud, still in his quiet, half-whispered voice, and then he jabbed a finger at the mirror, touching his finger’s reflection. He squinted his eyes at himself. “You’re bringing home the bacon, Sydney,” he said in a commanding voice, “you hear me? You’re gonna go to that party and wear the cheer uniform the best that anyone has ever seen anyone do it, because you’re…uh…”
Anything positive slipped his mind, and so he just gave himself a reassuring nod. A smile unconfidently weaseled its way onto his lips. “Yeah,” he agreed in a whisper, and then, more surely, though still in a quiet voice, “Yeah! I got this!”
Behind him, one of the stalls pushed open, and Syd jerked in surprise. SHITITHOUGHTNOONEWASINHERE. In a panic, he spun around, hiding his hand behind his back as his face reddened deeply. “Hi!” he said, with a nervous chuckle, closing his eyes and smiling as widely as he could. “I was just, uh —“
When he opened his eyes, he was looking down at a six-year-old boy.
“Oh, shhhpoop,” he muttered.
The kid blinked at him, and then gave him the stranger danger weird look and darted for the door.
He stared after him, his face deepening in its red hue until it overwhelmed him. He glanced at his side profile in the dirt-encrusted, rusted mirror. The shiny garments did not even extend halfway down to the place where they were supposed to fall, instead straining around his small, muscled frame like children’s clothes on an adult mannequin. The skirt rode up especially, and, though thankfully the sewn-in underwear half helped to keep everything from hanging out, every move was a gamble as to how much of his moon would show.
“Oh…” He slowly covered his eyes with both hands. “Oh…” He hunkered his back over. “Oh…no…” He walked backward until his butt hit a wall, and then he slowly sank down the wall, inch by inch, until he was sitting on the floor of the concession stand’s men bathroom, upright in a fetal position, muttering, over and over and over again, “Oh nonononononononono.”
Syd had done a lot of things, okay? He’d sold a used vacuum cleaner to a demented old woman who lived as his neighbor for a few months, saying it was a new luxury brand. He’d stolen his friend’s hamster and kept it as his own until it died of old age and never told his friend about it. And yeah, sure, fine, he’d done parkour off of the side of the Chinese restaurant down his street at two A.M., fractured his ankle, and claimed it was from a really bad fall last year. But all of those things had been private, okay? And, uh…
Look, don’t tell anyone that he’s telling you this right now, but Syd’s really not that much of a “center of attention”-type guy, nor is he really a “crossdress to become the center of attention”-type guy, nor is he really much of a “give the entire school fuel to make the rest of your high school experience miserable”-type guy. So…you know…even for the lunch…
Sighing deeply, standing up, and walking back to the bathroom stall he’d been in minutes before, Sydney Welsh muttered, “Fine, Brody…you win.”
• • • • •
Well, okay, so maybe Syd wasn’t accepting defeat that easily. See, he might not have been that smart, and he might not have had that much brain power, but he did always find away.
And so, yes, he had gone home and changed back into the uniform before going to the party…but he had also put on an oversized leather jacket, which he zipped up, and a pair of very loose cargo shorts.
Brody, I’m wearing the uniform, he practiced internally as he wove through the crowd of people to find his friend, wearing a wide, proud smile on his face and muttering “excuse me”s when he bumped into people. His eyes searched the crowd for his friend, though Syd’s shorter stature didn’t help much with providing much vantage. Finally, though, he spotted him past a small cluster of people, and his smile brightened.
Putting on an almost cocky air, he strutted up to his best friend. “Alright, Brody, get ready to experience the biggest defeat of your life.” Glancing over his shoulders quickly before yanking down the zipper of his metal jacket with a whp!, he smirked proudly. Holding his arms out from his body in a boo-yah sort of way to show of the uniform he was flashing, he said, “Getta loada this sexy body, and —“
His eyes flicked to a girl who stood beside him, and then back to Brody’s face. He stared at Brody in confusion for a moment, and then his eyes widened in an oh shit moment. Chuckling nervously, he scrambled to zip up his jacket, staring the girl square in the eyes, his face turning a bright red as he stalled with a long, drawn-out “uhhhhh” as though that made everything he was doing right now invisible.
When Syd’s jacket was finally zipped, a closed, awkward smile made its way onto his lips. “Uh...hi,” he said to the girl with a little wave, and he stood stick straight for a moment, unblinking, before he realized that he should do something. With a chuckle and a scratch of his now reddened neck, he said, “I’m, uh, Sydney. Uh…Brody’s — er, Justin’s, Brody's, same guy —" He nodded over to Brody. "That guy's best friend.” He held out his quivering hand for her to shake. “I, uh, don’t…think…I’veevermetyou, so. Ahaha, you’re, uh, getting quite the, heh, intro, uh, duction.”
Leave it to Syd to make things as awkward as possible.
He waved his hand, trying to dismiss everything that had just happened. His face was still a bright red. "I, heh, I'm usually dressed, uh, even more fashionably, if you can, uh, if you can believe it," he added, looking over at Brody to make sure that his joke got his approval.
Oh, you so nailed it, he thought sarcastically, kicking himself internally.
As the initial embarrassment began to subside, Syd felt a jealous sort of pinch. Who...is...this girl?
It took everything in Amy not to bust out laughing at the sight of BJ walking up to the truck. She could understand why...but dodging really wasn't his forte huh? One thing this school always provided? A good story to tell. I mean come on a glittery, confetti, glue filled balloon fight? That's one for the scrap book.
And yes Amy has a scrap book so shush.
However him striking a pose did it for her and she couldn't contain the bubble of laughter that escaped her lips. "You know that might be a million dollar idea." She chimed. She had to admit that unwavering confidence was one of her favorite things about him.
Amy was relieved when he agreed, though in the back of her mind she figured he wanted to be able to change too. Win-win for both of them honestly. They got cleaned up and she changed into a much more party type outfit. Just a cute little black dress with sunflowers on it, nothing special in her eyes. Fixed her hair up a bit and was ready to go.
To no ones surprise the first stop of the night once they got to the party was the drinks table. She wasn't usually one to over indulge, but it's not like she never drank before. She actually liked to drink in small doses, and the sweeter the drink the better. Her mind sometimes was always on go and so focused on tasks that drinking was a nice forced relaxer.
"Hm? Oh um." She giggled a bit shyly brushing a few strands of her hair behind her ear, "Well that's good! It means the master plan is working." She giggled raising up her cup as if to toast, "Also statistics show video games do great for the reflexes especially now with more VR and fully immersive type games."
That coupled with childhood trauma of being bullied and having to hide out away from people made her kinda flinchy which also helps her dodging skills...not that she's gonna include that part tho. So please don't ask her to catch a ball... or shoot one. You WILL be disappointed.
"Can't have you getting bored of me now can I?" She teased playfully taking a few more sips of her drink. Not that she was genuinely afraid of that because Amy truly did believe Justin was her best friend. Sure she's had some issues so far in trusting the wrong people, but she was sure she'd gotten it right this time with him.
Before she could say anything else she noticed someone approach them. Their attention seemed to be solely on Justin...which lets face it is understandable. As tall as Amy was she blended into the background very well.
What did she expect? A hey, maybe some kind of bro hand shake or whatever guy buds do to say hi to each other. What did she get? A near heart attack because it looked like he was flashing them, but luckily it was just exposing himself in a cheer uniform.
Still shocking, still almost made her spill her cup because she didn't know what to expect, and still awkward as hell as her own face turned a light pink shade feeling like she was interrupting something between the guys. Like this was some funny insider joke she was not supposed to know about. His stumbling afterwards kinda solidified that.
"H-hi! Nice to meet you... Sydney? Right? I'm uh I'm Amy." She was still looking down at her cup at the moment a bit too nervous to think straight. "I uh " She finally found some courage to look up at the boys face after he made the joke feeling a bit better. "Yah I think I've seen you around the school before. Total fashionista. You should give me some tips sometimes." She smiled bashfully trying to help lighten the tone like he was.
He said they were best friends, which Amy knew Justin had other close friends because well he was the social one of the two of them. But it was still weird to hear sometimes. "And same here. He's one of my best friends too so I guess it's about time we met right?" She chimed giving him a wave. She stayed and talked for a few more minuets, but then her phone buzzed and it was Alex.
That's right she did say she hang out with him for a bit while she was here tonight if he came out. "Hey I'll catch you guys in a bit ok? I've gotta go say hi to a friend." she smiled and gave BJ a warm hug, "Thanks again for everything. Text me when you're ready to dip out." She hummed before giving Syd a wave goodbye too, "Hope we can hang out sometime." With that she turned and left into the crowd with her phone and drink in hand.
She walked around a bit until she spotted him from across the room. Thank you height and heels. She grinned walking up to him and tapping his shoulder, "Hey there stranger" She chimed.