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TL;DR The gremlins discuss the possibility of Ashley hoe-ing it out
I can feel us slip away, you're almost gone
"Don't you dare touch me Thackery," Were Ashley's pleas as she desperately attempted to escape her friend's onslaught of affection. The protests quickly shifted to an outright shriek, as he hoisted her up much like he'd done with Nona a month ago in a similarly inebriated state. At least Dustin would still lift her in the air if he had a girlfriend. She suspected that they both knew Ashley didn't hate it as much as she claimed to, though she'd sooner crawl through shards of broken glass than admit she liked doing anything with Dustin that wasn't mocking him relentlessly. Only she and Nona would hold the secret of how exhilarating it was to be hoisted midair by Dustin. And she would keep it that way, even if it meant she had to hit him against both of their wills, so he would put her down gently.
"Caught a dodo, my ass!" Ashley whined, quickly untangling herself from the hug. Thankfully his attention was shifted to Nona who had appeared to have hoed it up tonight. Ashley knew that how skimpily you dressed had no bearing on your worth as a person, but all the same it pissed her off. Little Miss Perfect was out here having the best of both worlds, being such a nice person getting half the school in love with her by day, and by night she could be some sort of sexy goddess. Yes, it was very High School Musical of her to say, but Nona really should pick a lane. Nice or sexy? One or the other, and she could easily dismiss her as just a normal girl. "Oh." Ashley blinked, as he again wandered over to Nona, suppressing her look of annoyance to the best of her abilities. Clearing her throat, she ignored the couple to answer Dustin's question. "Nah, I haven't seen Ivy all night. I'm here with Cody." Ashley pointed over at her blonde pseudo paramour, who was currently with his friends, gesturing rather animatedly while pointing to various girls.
"We're uh..........yeah we sometimes hang out now. Y'know when there's nothing better to do." She mumbled to nobody in particular, not willing to dive into why she felt she needed to divulge the last part to the two lovebirds. Cody was someone she couldn't stand, but had fun with from time to time, and there was no need to justify that to Dustbin or Winnow. "What about you guys? You planning on meeting up with anyone else, or just your third wheel?" She half-joked, half deadpanned, though she had no interest in picking her intent. After all, she preferred to make sure nobody knew whether she was serious or joking at all given times. "Just don't make me the Godmother for whatever child you filthy sluts end up conceiving, or I will never talk to you again." She smirked, hoping to drift back into her usual crude, oddball way of speaking.
At that very moment, Ashley was blissfully unaware of what she had done previously, though if she'd remembered her shameful texts to Dustin, she could not have in good conscience stood in front of them chatting casually as she did now. She would instead have been cursing herself for sinking to the lowest of lows, and assuring Dustin it meant nothing at all. And that she didn't mean for her love, to force him to dump Nona to be with her. What was love anyway? She was only 14, so love from her probably meant nothing. But it was all in the past now.
After all, drunken texts never come back to bite somebody in the ass.
Josephine chuckled, obeying his command, and amusingly not moving an inch. "You got it boss," She leaned into his touch, almost habitually by this point. Noticing his change in demeanor, Jo attempted to follow suit, figuring this was how to best not embarrass herself. "You're very welcome, good sir" She smiled cheekily at him, her own tone going a few notches deeper, resembling a disney princess on helium.
She looked up as he spoke his response, nodding in place at the appropriate times. She didn't think she'd ever get over feeling like a naive child with him, but his words were comforting nonetheless. "Yeah I do." She replied bluntly "You always mention how not-normal I am, what am I supposed to think? Normal girls are probably easier anyway, since you don't have to guide them through all their firsts." She commented, glancing up at him. Holding herself with the demeanor of someone admitting professional inadequacy, rather than a lover sharing her doubts, she continued. "Thank you. I really like you too." Pulling away from their kiss, a smile spread across her face.
"Oh yeah? I should keep doing it then," She grinned wickedly, leaning in for a slow, passionate kiss, though she pulled away as soon as she registered the last part of his comment "Seriously?" A mock expression of horror appeared "Oh the scandal! What about my virtue?"
Tilting her head, Jo accepted Alexei's hand. "Are you serious?" She questioned, completely out of her element. "You're not a high schooler? Well that makes me feel better. I thought I was dating a younger man." She commented, laughing awkwardly. He was right. She'd never been to a dance or anything in high school. That was............bad right? She was supposed to have done that. Gone with a nerd or something, went to a normal school, and have been looking forward to it. Instead, she was wondering if she even felt like she missed out or not. Prom had always been some faraway concept, too seperate to even wish for. But at least she'd get her own Pseudo Prom with Alexei.
"I kinda need to tell you something though," Jo admitted sheepishly, barely suppressing giggles from Alexei's nerd impression "A. I don't know how to dance and B. Did you really just say Gee Willikers?"
in the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself
Carson's hand settling in Hassim's sent warmth throughout his body. Holding her hand reiterated that he indeed have feelings for her and the contact that they were sharing as they moved through the house caused for a smile to embellish his face.
Now Hassim usually avoided alcohol, despite family history he was a lightweight. The three drinks that he had already had swimming up to his head, at least he was aware of the area around him and the small girl that in a good way, invaded his space. Speaking of, Hassim was still worried about why she so desperately wanted to escape Dex's company. The swim teacher had only interacted with him a few times but didn't get bad vibes. But Hassim couldn't trust his instincts, the last time he thought he knew someone, he ended up in a lot of trouble. A lot.
Carson, if you don't mind me asking. He starts gently, looking at the woman in front of him. With his free hand, he caresses her forearm and pulls her closer to him as a way for privacy but just so that they were close. What happened with Dex? You don't have to answer, but I'd like to make sure you're alright.
He doesn't know if she's going to answer or not because they are shortly interrupted by some blonde haired guy that says Carson's name in a way that Hassim did not like. His companion's words hint that the two of them possibly had some sort of history. Hassim couldn't deny that he felt some sort of jealous, he had no right to be Carson wasn't his girlfriend as of this moment and it seemed like maybe this guy didn't deserve her. Did Hassim even deserve her?
Hassim lays a soft hand on Carson's hip as she tries to turn around, ready to leave the situation before it got worse. But her ex had other plans. Hassim feels Carson pulled from his embrace and when he looked back, he saw a sight that was all too familiar. He didn't like how close he had gotten and although on a normal night Hassim knew that Carson could take care of herself, but mixed with the alcohol, his misjudgement of Dex, and the sight of this asshole in Carson's face. Hassim knows he has to do something and so he gently moves Carson to the side so he can step in front of her before he roughly pushes the guy away. The blond ends up stumbling a few steps back and Hassim hoped that that was enough to get him to leave the two of them alone. But it isn't.
The guy steps forward and says something about Carson being a bitch, and that is when Hassim snaps. Carson didn't deserve to be talked down to. Hassim has no conscious control over his next actions, and if he were to look back at his actions the next day he would be disappointed. But one minute blonde guy is walking back towards the couple, spewing a few hateful things at Carson and the next Hassim's closed fist is connecting with the other man's jaw.
Chance could kind of tell that Mariah was distracted when he had asked to head to the party. He had hoped that he hadn't set off any signals that he wasn't attracted to her or that at the start of the date his mind was somewhere else. He keeps her hand in hers and tugs her over to his car.
It doesn't take long to get to the Moore's house. Chance can tell that a lot has happened due to the atmosphere that tainted the air. He spots his sister standing next to her boyfriend and some friends, a look that he's seen dawn her face before present now. They were still on rocky terms, so he wasn't sure if it was right for him to call out the slight discomfort that was showed. Mariah softly bumping into Chance's side pulls him out of his thoughts and he looks down to her, a soft smile on his lips.
The wander for a little bit, not yet finding any of their friends. Chance was ready to give up and possibly head out ti hang with Mariah some more, but his phone goes off. His screen bombarded with texts from Max.
Geez did that kid worry Chance sometimes. Usually, Chance would tell Winona about him since the two of them were closer, but after he remembered how she looked standing in the chaos that was the party he decided against it. He also wasn't sure if he wanted to drag Mariah, along. She was friends with Max, but she didn't sign up for this and she didn't seem like someone equipped to take care of a drunk person. Yeah, he wasn't going to do that to her.
I'm gonna go check on Max. I'll let you know how it goes, okay? Without thinking he leans in and places a quick, chaste kiss on Mariah's lips, like it was second nature, like it was something they had always done. See you later. He says before heading toward, what he was hoping was, Max's direction. It's not until he's completely left the room that he realizes that he kissed Mariah. He abruptly stops and cringes at himself, slapping a hand against his forehead as he thinks of the invasion of space he just conducted. That was definitely not the way he imagined their first kiss, the athlete wanted to run back and hash out the fall out, but Max's insistent drunken texts kept garnering his attention. Damn, he'd have to deal with it later if he could. Right now, he had a drunk kid to worry about
Chance comes to the rescue and Max is still dead on his feet
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Max had been mindlessly tapping away at his phone ever since he found himself slumped in the hallway after Jenny kissed him.
Drunk teenagers really shouldn't be allowed to access social media. All poor Max had accomplished over the past five or ten minutes was making everyone he knew worried for his safety. Chance, Liz, even Harper were all still begging him to go home. Just about everyone had offered him a ride, told him to get some water and lie down for a minute, and yet he was still texting incoherently and trying to tell everyone that he was fine.
Max was always a hopelessly terrible liar, but alcohol made his feeble attempts look absolutely pathetic.
He wasn't fine. He was alone, drunk to the point where a sip more might have killed him, trying to convince himself to at the very least find something to eat and agree to go home.
It wasn't so much that he couldn't get up off the floor as much as he didn't have the motivation to. The carpet was comfortable enough under him; the smooth beige ceiling seemed to absorb his thoughts as he stared at it. Getting up seemed daunting. Nervously, he bit into his lower lip, his tongue finding a trace of fruit-flavored lip gloss on the corner of his mouth.
Jenny-- oy, vey...
How the hell were they supposed to pretend nothing happened? Max was terrified that she'd mention it again, and terrified that she wouldn't. He couldn't wrap his head around it, so he kept pushing it out of his mind only for it to steal its way back in a moment later. For a little while after, he actually managed to put his phone down. His eyelids felt heavy... the empty ache in his stomach quickly became the only thing keeping him awake. It couldn't be so bad to fall asleep here for a while, could it? Maybe then he'd feel a bit less foggy, maybe enough to get himself home without bothering anyone for a ride.
But before he could get lost in those unrealistic hopes, then he saw someone approaching from the other side of the hallway, and immediately he woke back up. Max would've recognized his Chance Matthews anywhere: the Matthews twins and Max made for an odd trio, but Max and Chance especially stood out from each other. The two of them were almost comically opposites. Chance was the star of the track team, six-foot-two with a striking figure; Max was a little short for his age and more of a struggling student activist than a student athlete. But right now, Chance had evidently been serious about coming to take him home. "Chance?" Max's wrist turned out Chance's name uncertainly, his glassy blue eyes scanning the tall boy in front of him, trying to decide if he was still too drowsy to trust his own sight. But this really was Chance, luckily. Max looked almost relieved, waving excitedly and dragging himself to his feet. He suddenly felt weak and tired almost as soon as he moved his head to get up, like all the energy he still had just immediately melted away. Though he eventually righted himself and came back to standing, he was visibly leaning off to the right with his head drooping and his knees askew.
"Hey, Chance!" The name slurred and unraveled towards the end as he ran in a little closer, trying to give a high-five that turned into an awkward half-fist bump midway through. "Wait, what? How did you get here so fast!?" Max tipped to the side and suddenly lost his balance; gasping in surprise and bracing himself on the edge of a nearby coffee table just in time to not crash to the floor. He was thin enough that it supported his weight, but it wobbled a bit and unsteadied his grip, forcing him to grab Chance's hand to keep himself from stumbling. Laughing awkwardly, trying to loosen the tightness in his lungs, Max gave Chance a sheepish grin.
"We're going home, right?" Max asked obliviously as Chance started leading him back towards the cars. Max seemed to be trying to slow himself down so he could be understood, but his hands were still shaky and barely comprehensible. "Can we like... can we not? My parents are gonna kill me. I'm serious. I'm gonna be dead, Chance." It wasn't like Max to joke around about breaking house rules. Typically, he hated straying out of line-- after all, this was the same Max who routinely drove 10 below the speed limit. He never intended to drink anyhow. Because of that alone, nothing about the situation he was in was "typical."
Carson had decided that responding to Hassim’s question about Dex was probably for the best. She still was getting to know Hassim after all and she didn’t need him to ruin Dex’s marriage because Carson believed that karma would come back on Dex in some way, after all the world wasn’t kind to those who hurt others and lied to their loved ones. The world was cruel to all but it always held an extra dose of cruelty to those that needed it or deserved it. Now, she was in the midst of two males, one an ex and the other a potential and she had no clue what to do. For her it was a sticky situation, mostly because Carson knew Thad better than most people. Sure, she wished that wasn’t the case and that a part of her didn’t care for him but that would be a lie. As awful as he was to her, those moments when things had been fun and new, they meant something to her. He meant something to her, but she knew she couldn’t go back to him, couldn’t be with him. Neither were good for each other. They were storm and everything in their path always broke, including them.
As her mind tried to process what to do next, she felt herself get moved aside and watched as Hassim’s fist connected with Thad’s face. She could see the blood pouring from his nose and she knew this wouldn’t end well. She moved herself between the two males, “Enough!” her voice was louder than she meant, and the crowd around them looked at her. She felt her body radiate with embarrassment and she wasn’t one to get embarrassed, “Is this really what you want to do on a holiday? Really Thaddeus? Go home. Leave the party and go home. You’ve ruined enough. My night ruined. So, congrats you win.” Carson pushed past Hassim “We’ll talk later”. It wasn’t that she was mad, it was the opposite. For once someone stood up for her, and yet she didn’t know what to do or how to react. She knew Hassim cared and he was doing what any upstanding guy would do but she felt embarrassed by the way people looked at her because of the commotion caused by two guys. She didn’t like the negative attention. Craving attention was something Carson thrived on but it was the attention that she created for herself and not from others.
She made her way back to Astraea and she decided being with her friends was the best idea. “I’m done with this party” she let the blonde know, “We should find Artie and go home. He looked about as done as I am with tonight.” Carson had wanted to be drunk but instead she wasn’t. The Fourth may be about independence but all independence has come from a battle and right now that’s exactly how Carson was feeling. Life is a battle and not an easy one when romance is involved.
You keep finding new ways to make yourself reappear
I hope you never leave me be
Dustin seemed to instantly tense up at Ashley's revelation of who she came to the party with, and their ongoing relationship. He slipped his arms from around Nona and instead folded them angrily, following Ashley's gaze across the room to glower at Cody, who was still obliviously bantering with his group of friends. Dustin didn't know Cody well, just that he was a rather douchey wannabe womanizer in Ashley's grade. Someone kinda gross but ultimately harmless, whom Dustin never thought to have much of an opinion on--until now. Now, he suddenly couldn't stand the kid, and felt like punching the smirk right off his face as he crudely gestured to his buddies at a small group of girls nearby.
"That guy? Wait, you're fucking that guy?" While he knew this was quite the massive jump to a conclusion, the look and casual shrug that Ashley returned only confirmed it was true. Not only was Ashley no longer the virgin he still assumed she was--that threw Dustin for enough of a loop. But the fact that this tool was her partner in sexual experimentation--and possibly even took her virginity? "I can't believe you'd get with that guy," Dustin shook his head, his tipsy state making him unable to hide the judgemental look of revulsion and anger on his face, as if her relationship with Cody was some some sort of personal attack on him.
"He probably has herpes," Dustin added, a muttered afterthought to prove he was only looking out for his friend, and his opinion on her relationship with Cody definitely wasn't bourne out of pure jealousy. The drunk, confessional texts Ashley sent him earlier once again invaded his memory, and it was all Dustin could do to hold his tongue around Nona instead of spitting a venomous jab at Ashley to remind her of the things she'd said in them. How could she supposedly be sooo in love with him, yet so freely and casually give that precious love away to a person whom Dustin was certain would never fully appreciate it?
The thought made him furious, but Dustin just sulked angrily until he caught Nona's gaze once again and softened his demeanor up. He opened his mouth to speak before he could think of any words to explain himself, offering only a puppy dog stare instead. Sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, slipping the other hand into hers.
Winona could see it now. Albeit her twin brother could have always warned her about it, she could finally see it now. The way he lit up when she showed and the way anger tainted his face when she mentioned her predicament with the Cody kid. Sure he was drunk but not even that much and with what her brother said to her a few weeks back regarding Ashley and Dustin, she couldn’t not think that way. His arm abandoning her waist only made that sinking feeling settle in her stomach and her heart feel heavy and her insecurities become painfully apparent.
The dancer spots her brother walking in and tries to pass off this humiliating situation with a smile. But Chance was her twin, he knew her. He knew she wasn’t alright. She looks back to her boyfriend, and tries to give him a small smile, but it was a little forced. God, she needed to get out of there. Dustin tries to play off his reaction and Winnie gives him the win, hoping that he thought that she was okay; but when he puts his hand into hers, she feels a little angry. She could feel the slight furrow of her eyebrow and a crease on her forehead start to form. Winnie couldn't show anger in front of everyone, she didn't want to be seen as the bad guy even though she felt genuinely hurt. Even a little betrayed.
How much of their relationship was juggled with the fact that Dustin harbored such strong feelings for Ashley? Winnie didn't know why it took her so long to notice when it took Chance and Faith one look at an interaction between the two best friends. Maybe Winnie just wanted something good after so many bad things, that's why she ignored it. She softly slips her hand out of Dustin's hand and folds her conjoined hands in front of her.
Well Ashley, if that's something that you want to do then I'm happy for you. Winnie can barely look her in the eye but her voice is genuine. She then turns to Dustin but can't meet his eyes, instead focusing on something behind him. Winnie wasn't sure if he could tell that she was a little sad, but she didn't want to risk it. I'm gonna go find Chance, I just remembered that I have an early shift at the dance studio tomorrow and I'd like to get to bed. Winona sure was regretting not driving herself to the party.
You two have a good night, okay. She debates on whether to place a kiss on Dustin's cheek or not, but she decides against it. I'll see you later. Without waiting for much of a response, Winnie turns away, her footsteps quick as she tries to go in the direction she thought she saw her twin brother go towards. The dancer, with diminished confidence, has her head down as she tries to move through the great sea of bodies. Winnie just wanted to leave. She doesn't even stop when she shoulders someone taller than her, but her wrist is softly grasped and she is pull to a stop. She can instantly tell who it is that has her wrist captured.
With a wavering voice and her eyes still turned downward because of the tears starting to brim in them, she says, Noah, please leave me alone.
he's got a date with a pretty girl and now he's got a predicament with a drunk guy
the battle within will have collateral damage
Chance did not think that his night was going to end like this. He thought that maybe he'd successfully end his date with Mariah with a proper kiss and then show up to the celebration to hang with Isa. Holding a drunk and stumbling Max wasn't going to be the highlight of his weekend but he was okay with doing this for Max.
However, the nonsense that this kid was signing ws not helping. Chance already struggled learning how to sign, Winona was a lot better out of the two of them, Max's drunk signing was hard to catch up with. But boy did he try. Max, I told you not to drink too much. He tried to sign with the one unoccupied hand, but he was struggling. Maybe he shouldn't be focusing on that, but focusing on taking his friend home.
Fine, I won't take you your house, i'll take you to mine. Chance mumbles this to himself, to no one in particular. Damn, he had to tell Mariah that he had to take Max home. Hopefully, she'd understand. He didn't want to just leave her, but he really couldn't abandon Max or ask anyone else to take him. Max would probably be upset about that tomorrow. Chance makes a mental note to text Mariah later as he drags Max towards his car through the populating body of the party.
Max was barely on his feet by the time the two of them reached the end of the hallway. Every now and again he’d try to say something that would get completely lost, and anything Chance had tried to say to him had gone completely unnoticed. Chance’s arm over Max’s shoulders kept him mostly upright, but he seemed to be sleepwalking, ignoring the path ahead to gaze up at Chance’s face in silent bewilderment. He found himself unable to look away. Chance's dark eyelashes framed a smoldering gaze that commanded Max's attention. His perfect eyebrows, angular cheekbones, skin so smooth that Max could hardly resist the temptation to touch.
He got so lost in Chance's eyes that anything he'd been trying to say had instantly vanished from his liquor-drowned memory.
His hand that still held Chance's softly laced their fingers together, hugging tighter into Chance's palm. He did this completely without thinking, and instantly his throat tightened shut, his chest heating up. For a split second, he thought he was going to throw up, or pass out, but he didn't. He stayed, taking a shallow breath and trying to force himself to look away. This was all wrong, wasn't it?
Max was straight.
No matter how open his friends were with their own identities, or how accepting he knew his family was, Max had always felt that he was just supposed to be. Anything else, that was for other people. Not him.
And besides, he did like girls-- well, he liked one girl, more than anything else, more than he could ever be able to tell, and on that alone, he was sure he would rather bury those feelings and die with them than ever admit he thought about these things
Holding Chance close like this… it wasn't supposed to feel so right. Especially after what happened with Jenny, and all the drinks, and everything else that had happened tonight. It was the easiest thing he’d ever done. Far too easy. A soberer Max would have been petrified.
And yet, under the blurry lights, there was only Chance, the only thing he could see clearly. Max felt lightheaded and sick to his stomach, but in a way he could never put words to, it felt alright. He felt completely safe. Nothing could happen to him. He didn't have to be Max Berkowitz, with all his flaws and inabilities and restrictions. There were so many things throughout his life that he'd learned he wasn't allowed to do and say. Every risk he had ever taken always ended blowing up in his face.
But now he didn't feel like himself anymore, and for someone who would rather be anyone but himself… he had all this freedom. He no longer had the reflex to tell himself no, and nothing left to remind himself that there was another tomorrow he had to get through after tonight.
And maybe that was why Max leaned in, folding his free arm around Chance's waist for support so he could stand up on his toes to pull himself closer into Chance’s gaze-- Chance was an impressive 6’2 to Max’s petite 5’7; he sorely needed the boost. With a shaky but gentle touch, Max reached up to Chance's cheek and brought his face closer in. Those deep, warm brown eyes seemed to melt the ice in his own, leaving the foggy blues sparkling and overwhelmed with feeling.
Max breathed out a long, quiet sigh, as if he'd been holding his breath all this time. Everything that happened after that, it was as if he had no thoughts, only deep and unexplainable feelings: some long-buried instinct that he suddenly forgot how to ignore.
Without apologizing for the closeness, Max leaned deep into Chance, mostly to keep his balance, but to feel Chance’s skin on his; to feel the heat of his hand against his own. To keep him there just a moment longer. Hold him close…
Close enough for Max to tilt his head and kiss him softly on the mouth, shutting his eyes to black out everything else: the light, the scattered people around them, whoever might have seen.
He just wanted to live in this feeling. He was far too terrified that he’d start thinking again.
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How couldn't you love me? Its me.
Noah knew exactly what he was doing, showing up at the Moore's party, he knew that Winnie would be there. He figured maybe some how he would win her back, he loved how the dancer looked up to him. How she treated him, even if he knew he didn't really deserve it. Noah was busy, he had needs. And sometimes, Winnie just wasn't enough to satisfy the hunger. So what if he had messed up a tad, didn't everyone deserve a second chance? Plus, what did Winnie really see in that freshman, he was a nobody, a geek, a loser. At least Noah had his own car.
Noah walked around the party, the place itself was familiar, after all the years he had spent at the Moore's. But yet, he still felt rather lost.
His eyes finally caught sight of Winnie's body standing directly in the middle of the living room, canoodling with the limp noodle she called a boyfriend. Maybe it was really over this time, maybe he really did need to move on.
Noah could only roll his eyes as he walked away, taking a swig of the single beer he had been nursing on throughout the night. Finally getting sick of the taste of the flat wheat juice he had bothered to even pull out of the cooler, Noah made a decision. He was going to head out, not only was Winnie busy with some boyfriend of hers, but everyone else at this party just so happened to be partnered up. Or had already learned better, and knew to stay clear of Noah.
It was only when Noah tossed his beer in the closest dustbin, that he felt the small of Winnie's body come crashing into him. "Who are you running away from? Not your perfect boyfriend, no?" The tinge of sarcasm in his voice flicked off his tongue. "Alright, alright I'm sorry." He discretely rolled his eyes, looking over his shoulder.
"I was just about to head out... Did you want a ride?" He twisted his keys on the ring finger of his right hang. "Completely sober, I swear."
Noah was surprised to find out how easy it had been to convince Winnie to come with him, he knew better though then to ask any more questions. If he wanted her back in his bed any time soon, he had to play the long game. And getting her home safely was the first step.
Three weeks had passed and Lemon had barely left her room. At this point Blanche had been more than a little concerned for her daughter, she had to cancel dinners because Lemon had refused to come out of her room. Yes, Blanche and Abernathy had grounded her a month because she had come home drunk. Something that had been entirely out of character for Lemon. Abernathy had even gone through her room to make sure that their daughter had no more alcohol or drugs. Lemon had said nothing, she hadn’t even fought her father and Blanche had quietly watched in case she needed to intervene between the two but it had gone over better than she could have expected.
Blanche had done all she could to get her daughter out of her room and today she was putting her foot down and forcing her daughter to go out, today was the college fair and it was an important event in her young daughters’ life. So, Blanche being the mother she was, barged through her daughter’s door and pulled out an outfit for Lemon, “You’re going. You can yell, kick, scream. It doesn’t matter you’re going out.” Blanche watched as her daughter began to process what was happening as Blanche pulled the blankets from Lemon and turned on all the lights. It was as if her brain wasn’t catching up to reality and when it did, Lemon began to argue.
Blanche ignored her daughters protests as she pulled her out of bed, “Let’s go. Get your butt up. Go get dressed.” She said as she pushed Lemon into the bathroom clothes in hand, “Take a shower too. It’ll help, sweet pea.”
As Blanche finished getting herself ready, she listened for the shower and waited for her daughter to emerge, “But, Mama!” she whined once out of the shower, “I don’t want to go!” Blanche rolled her eyes, “Put want in one hand and shit in the other and you tell me what fills up faster, sweet pea.” Her daughters’ footsteps started to go toward the bedroom but not before a groan came through the hallway. This would be good for Lemon and Blanche knew it. She just needed her daughter to see it the same way.
Finally, once Lemon was ready, besides the puffy eyes, “Aww, sweet pea. You’re still going. But those puffy eyes, they almost do your mama in.” One more desperate plea from Lemon and the two girls were in the car on the way to the fair. The drive was silent but once Blanche parked the car and almost forced her daughter from the passenger seat, she knew that Lemon would lighten up, or at the very least stop complaining about not wanting to go.
Temporary fleeting thrills keep me bruised and make me ill
Liz smirked at the younger girl's reaction to seeing her. She hadn't expected such a warm welcome but...it was oddly nice. Sure it probably had everything to do with Ivy being drunk but at least she was excited to see Liz. The two people that should have been most excited to see her might not even meet up with her tonight. Carson was out with her own friends but promised tomorrow, and Isa was MIA so Liz had no idea when she'd see her.
"Of course I followed through. I'm a woman of my word." Liz's smile dropped when Ivy hugged her. Physical contact wasn't something Liz did much of...or at least not affectionate contact like hugs. She wasn't at all expecting this so she wasn't entirely sure how to handle the situation. Her slit eyebrow raised instinctively out of confusion as she awkwardly pat Ivy's head. That's what people who got hugged by shorter people did right? Liz's hand held out for Ivy as she pulled away in case she needed help balancing. How much had this kid had to drink already? A small chuckle rolled from her throat as Ivy suggested they take things outside lest they burn down the house, and not in the fun metaphorical way. Liz pulled out her hip flask and took a long swig before responding. "I'm not exactly looking to go back to jail so yes, let's go outside."
The pair made their way out to the street where distant booms could be heard of various fireworks being set off. Liz didn't have many of her own, at least not on her but she did have a few things; thank god for pockets. She opened up her jacket and reached into her inner pocket, fishing out a handful of mini fountains and a roman candle. "Here ya go kiddo. Go nuts." she said, tossing the fountains to Ivy. She pulled out her lighter and lit the roman candle for herself. She always thought those were great for one use then they got kinda boring. By themselves their wasn't much to them; most of the fun with them came out of what you did with the flying balls of fire. The flask once again made an appearance. It was probably beginning to become evident she wasn't just thirsty; she was drinking with purpose.
As the straight tequila made it's way into her system, Liz lazily pointed the Roman Candle upwards, eyes following each glowing orb. Hopefully soon she'd get that happy buzz she always got with the alcohol, instead of just the standard alcohol intoxication she was currently feeling. As soon as the firework died out Liz hurled it down the street as far as she could with a tipsy laugh. The flask, that hadn't been put away since her last nip from it, found it's way back to the young girl's lips. In just as many moments as their were gulps the last of the burning liquid made it's way down her throat. Liz shook her head and wheezed a little from the burn as she tried to focus on Ivy. She seemed to be delighted with the fountains she had been given and Liz smirked. It felt nice making someone smile like that, even if alcohol was probably the bigger contributor.
On the last fountain there was the fuse burned all the way down and then....nothing. Frowns graced both girls' faces as they waited impatiently for it to go off but it was silent. Ivy bent over and picked the cone shaped miniature explosive device up to examine it. For a few moments Liz just watched but then the realization hit her. She darted over as fast as her intoxicated body would let her without falling over. Perhaps it was instinct, or maybe just stupidity but her hand shot out and grabbed the tip of the cone. Before Liz could wrest the thing from Ivy's hands or knock it to the ground, sparks and flames began pouring out of it. An unpleasant smell wafted through the air and mixed with the scent of gunpowder as the young woman hissed in pain. A string of curses that would make a sailor blush flew from her mouth. Both girls' grips loosened and the cone dropped to the pavement, promptly being kicked down the street by Liz's boot. Burnt hand shoved into her coat to hide the damage Liz looked to Ivy with concern to see if she was alright. The last thing she wanted was for this kid to get flamed in the face. "Never pick up duds. They might not be duds." she said flatly as if what just happened didn't just happen.
Liz's eyes gave Ivy another once over before a casual smile returned. "Well, that's all I had, sorry. I'll bring more next time. We'll cause some real havoc. See ya round yeah?" she gave the younger girl a cool and calm wink, a hint of mischievousness mixed within, before promptly turning on her heel. The second her face was away from the younger girl it betrayed all the pain she was in. Her teeth bit down hard on her lips and the quietest of whimpers was let out as she made her way back into the house to find some cool water and a lot more alcohol. She definitely needed it now.
TL;DR Oliver's running a little late to the college fair, and it may or may not have something to do with having almost stabbed someone.
How lonely it is, to be drowning in a place where everyone can swim
Anchor Bay's sea turtle expert had eventually become just as strange, solitary, and elusive as the shelled creatures he was so enamored by.
If Oliver was quiet before, now he was all but silent. He'd chatter away on his social media every now and again, but his postings were inconsistent, sporadic, and often worrisomely cryptic. He'd ask strange questions, blithely collect his answers, and then disappear without a trace again. And other than that handful of tweets, nobody had heard from him for several days.
Not even Jacob, or Lemon, or the Matthews twins, or Ashley, or Tabitha, not even his new joke-boyfriend Romir.
Normally, if one wanted to find Oliver, there were a couple of places to look: the library, the graveyard, the school, and wherever his friends were gathering. He'd been jarringly absent from all of these places.
When he was there to be seen, he appeared out of sorts and distracted. He'd lately started carrying his school backpack with him at all times, even when he didn't seem to need anything out of it, and it was serving no purpose other than weighing on his shoulders.
It was always as if he were hiding something, or hiding from something.
But as July drew to a close, finally Oliver agreed to meet up with his friend Jacob at the annual school-organized college fair. Oliver had stated a few times before that he didn't intend on pursuing higher education. This was odd-- Oliver was doing markedly well in high school so far, and had a passion for science. Though it seemed likely that his family wouldn't be able to afford a full college tuition, he was the sort of kid who could possibly land a full scholarship. And yet, he bluntly and steadfastly refused to even think of it.
Perhaps a few hours of fresh air and some informational pamphlets would get him to reconsider. And if not, at the very least he was hanging out with his friends instead of whatever he'd been up to these past few weeks.
It wasn't like Oliver to run late, but he was supposed to have been at the library to meet Jacob a few minutes ago and he wasn't even out of his building yet.
By the time Oliver realized that the fire escape had been chained up, he'd been trying to pick open the latch for several minutes, and it turned out not to be a good day to try to sneak out the front door. He eventually found himself in the lobby, shaking and eyes darting around every direction as he lingered by the old broken-down elevator doors trying not to be spotted.
Then, as if on cue, someone turned the corner from the stairs and caught him off-guard. He jumped back with a strangled yelp as his right hand plunged into his hoodie pocket. Something clicked open. His arm froze, anticipating a sudden movement. When none came, he unfroze and shrank back towards the shadow of the cracked plaster wall. His almost hollow-looking dark eyes watched the young blonde woman carefully. Oliver didn't recognize her as one of his neighbors. It was a rule of his family's that he wasn't supposed to talk to anyone else in the building.
Another click could be heard. He slowly withdrew his hand from his pocket, curling his fingers into a tight fist and drawing his arm close to his chest.
He desperately wanted to turn and make a run for it, but the deafening silence and the look on the girl's face told him that was unwise. "I can explain--" he started... he'd meant to say sorry.
He didn't think he could explain at all.
Winona knew it was a bad idea. Anything that had to do with Noah was bad news, but there Winnie was, standing in front of her ex boyfriend giving him some time of her day. She slipped her wrist from his surprisingly soft grasp, and wiped away the tears from her face, trying to steady her voice so she could answer him. No, I’m just looking for Chance.
Noah knew Winnie, no matter how hard the dancer tried to deny it. They did date for a year and the first ten months of it were good, so he could tell that she was lying now. Just as she could tell that his intentions at the moment weren’t 100% pure, Noah probably no longer cared about Winnie anyways, but Winnie wasn’t too focused on that right now. Her eyes did a quick scan of the room they were standing in looking for her taller twin brother, while avoiding where her boyfriend stood with his best friend. She didn’t need this.
Now Winnie was usually a good girl, she was nice and she always took into consideration others feelings (which is why she stayed two months longer than she needed to with Noah). But right now, her heart was starting to break, the room was beginning to become suffocating, and she was angry. So when Noah asked her if she wanted a ride, she looked at him with a calculating look, and the thought dawned on her. Yeah it also came with her feeling a little guilty, but ultimately she wanted to make Dustin jealous.
Yeah, I’ll go with you No. But I don’t care how sober you think you are, I’m driving. She doesn’t even give him a chance to reply, she snatches the keys and walks away. She knew what kind of car he had, the last time she was in it was winter break, and so she didn’t need help finding it. Soon the two of them are on their way to her house, Winnie stays quiet for a majority of the ride letting the radio softly play whatever pop song was picked to repeat every thirty minutes. She could feel her phone that was tucked under her lap vibrate, probably with more texts from Dustin and the thought of him seeing her leave with Noah made her feel bad. But when she thought about the way he interacted with Ashley, a little too intimate for her liking, Winnie didn’t care. Her grip on the steering wheel tightens and she presses her foot on the gas a little bit harder, increasing the speed of the vehicle. If Noah was any type of worried right now, Winona did not care.
Pulling up to the house, she notices Chance’s car in the parking lot, surprised to see that he came home early, she'd have to ask him about it later. Thanks for offering to drive me. That’s all it was No, promise. This doesn't mean anything and don't owe you anything. Again, she doesn’t want to let him say anything that could ruin the nice gesture he just did, so she is out of the car and stomping up the driveway to the front door, his keys in hand. And you can sleep on the couch, you’re lucky my mom still likes you. The two of them might have their ups and downs, and he was the toxic ex that Carrie Underwood probably warned her about, but she was never going to let someone drive home with an ounce of alcohol in them. Winnie closed herself in her room while Noah occupied the couch in the living room as he had done before. God, it was going to be awkward in the morning.
Now this was weeks ago. 27 days to be exact. And now Winona could barely curb the text messages from her ex boyfriend while also not being able to avoid the dynamic that naturally existed between Ashley and Dustin. She’d put on a smile on her face, agreeing that leaving with Noah on the fourth was too much of a rebellion that she needed to deal with now. Win didn’t even tell her boyfriend that her ex had slept on her living room couch. She tried on her relationship with Dustin, but there was some sort of rift there and Winnie knew what that could possibly mean.
She didn’t want to deal with it now or anytime soon, so for today instead of going to the college fair like everyone else, she was going to the dance studio and work on the dance routine she was putting together for Juilliard. The dancer needed a reprieve from what the past few weeks had brewed from her. She was tired and needed some sort of guidance.
he's got a date with a pretty girl and now he's got a predicament with a drunk guy
the battle within will have collateral damage
For weeks since the party on the 4th, Max plagued Chance's mind. To his drunken signing, to his arm tightening around Chance's waist, to his lips softly meshing with Chance's own. Chance could describe the kiss as unexpected and scary. But still the kiss had maybe lasted a little longer than it should have, and all Chance could think about was the rise in his heart rate and the smaller boy cradling against his side. Realizing that Max was drunk pulled Chance to his senses and the athlete, gently pulled away the brunette.
His eyes grazes over Max's features trying to take in the moment as well. His mind wasn't thinking about the few people that were possibly looking at them with shock written on their faces or the fact that he kissed Mariah a few minutes ago. Chance didn't know what to think. Was Max not straight? Was Max too drunk? Should Chance stop trying to hide his feelings pertaining to guys and move on with his life? He didn't know. All he knew right at that second was that Max was regretting his own actions. The guy's eyes were basically bulging out of his skull and his mouth opened and shut as if he wanted to say something but was unable to fully process what he just did.
It's okay Max. Chance signs, repeatedly. It's one of the signs that he made sure to learn because he knew Max. Chance knew who the brunette was as a person basically since the first time his mother invited Max and his father over for dinner. Let's just get you home. He finally signs, tightens his hold on Max and heads toward the exit.
Max stayed the night. Chance was okay with it, letting his friend sleep on his bed since he was too wired to sleep that night. His mind kept swirling around how he enjoyed the kiss with Max, he liked how Max felt pressed against his body, he felt free. Like there wasn't a burden on him about his sexuality, about liking both guys and girls.
He needed to text Mariah, he couldn't let her hear about everything from someone that wasn't him. But also, he had to let her know that he couldn't be with her. The thought itself saddened Chance, but he knew he couldn't accept himself if he kept distracting his thoughts and decision by being with someone that had enough power to capture his heart. Mariah was great, but it would be unfair to himself and to her if he continued as if nothing was happening.
So he did just that, ending it with Mariah Bailey. And she was understanding, at least he had hoped so. Got him crying the club fr. Chance checks on Max, who's slumped under his gray covers, sleeping, before heading over to his sister's room, he had heard that she had come in.
That was three weeks ago, and Chance was going over and over in his head about how to approach the situation. Max had of course fell off the face of the planet and deleted his twitter. He was barely answering any texts from his friends. It's not like Chance didn't know where to find his friend, but the track runner was struggling about what to even say. Max was probably blowing the whole situation out of proportion and he just needed to talk. Talking to Isa and his sister helped a little bit, especially when it came to finally accepting himself. But he couldn't even talk to his other best friend Frankie about his feelings, could he talk to Max?
Chance doesn't give himself time to second guess before he's in his car and driving and in no time he's in front of the Berkowitz's home.
It had been 27 days since the party, nearly a month.
Rumors of what happened had circulated amongst the teens, but Max's own parents had no idea. For all they knew, they were never going to know. Max would tell them nothing, but it was painfully clear. The morning after, before Max had even made it home, all of his social media accounts suddenly went dark. He never left the house anymore; he'd only been pacing and wandering the house, silent and absentminded. He barely seemed to know where he was half of the time; anything he needed to do required reminder after reminder. He'd forget to eat, forget to sleep, forget anything except drifting back and forth through the rooms with his head in his hands. Seeing him without his friends, without even his phone, didn't seem like him at all.
So when one of his friends showed up to say hello, they couldn't have been more welcome.
Dr. Berkowitz answered the door for Chance, with a warm smile and a friendly wave that barely covered up the exhaustion behind his expression. The oncologist had called out of work for the past few days; he and his wife had been taking turns staying home, trying to make sure that things were kept as normal as possible. "Oh, hey Chance!"
"But you're here for Max, right? Let me go see if he's upstairs." Dr. Berkowitz knew full well that Max was indeed in his room: it wasn't so much that Max was even in there that often anymore, but the family had been keeping a close watch on him, so his whereabouts were always known. Hoping to god that his son would agree to talk to a friend for the first time in weeks, Joel left the door for a moment to head up to Max's room. Cracking open the door, he could see his teenage son slumped over his desk, laptop shoved aside and various crumpled sheets of paper littering the wooden surface. He flicked the lights in his room off and on for a second, waving to see if he had the boy's attention. "Max?"
Max didn't even look up. The utter stillness in the room gave the chilling impression that he was little more than a ghost.
With a heavy sigh, the doctor walked inside, dodging over the minefield of abandoned books and potted houseplants, and reached out and shook his son's shoulder. "Hey, Max..."
There was something vacant behind Max's blue eyes when he finally turned around; a shadowed and glazed-over stare that made his father's blood run colder, but he had to keep a positive face. For normalcy's sake. "Chance is here to see you."
That short sentence instantly shocked him back to life. Max flinched and almost jumped, a flash of red washed over his face as he hastily pulled himself off his desk and started brushing pencil shavings off of his shirtfront and running his fingers back through his hair, trying to look vaguely presentable, his hyperventilating breaths more audible and worrisome than he'd ever know about. "What!? Why? How long ago!? Is he still here? Can I--" Max sputtered through question after question, prompting his father to simply raise an eyebrow and nod towards the door. "Why don't you go say hi, at least?"
Max didn't need to be asked twice. Without an answer, Max stumbled out of his room and practically sprinted down the stairs.
"Chance!!" Max called his name out loud before he even got to the door. skidding to a stop already overwrought and shaking. He almost couldn't believe someone was actually here. He switched back to signing, trying to slow himself down from his frantic pace so he could be halfway understood. "Do... do you want to come up to my room?" Max stepped aside to let Chance in, following him closely upstairs.
This was the first time he'd seen Chance in over two weeks. This was the first time he'd seen anyone other than his family for almost all that time. Max wasn't used to being so alone, and now, to have it over so quickly, he didn't know what to do. At first, it was a relief just to see him... but then it just reminded him that it was real.
Max had been trying to forget it was real.
Little by little, it all started to build back up again. Once they got back to his room and closed the door, the pressure seemed to have choked all the air from the space.
He didn't know what to say to Chance. Max had never thought that far ahead. Apologizing wasn't enough. Not for what he did. Max lied, lied to everyone, couldn't keep his hands off his friend... Disgusting.
Dirty. "...What are you doing here? I..."
When it dawned on Max that Chance didn't look angry at him, he felt his heart twist into a knot and fall deeper into his chest. The corners of his eyes welled up with saltwater, forcing him to hold his breath. Why? Why couldn't Chance just be angry? Max ruined his reputation, overstepped every boundary he had. Chance was straight, Max knew that. Of course, he wouldn't have wanted... It would be so much easier if he were angry, so that... "Chance, I can't take that back. I can't fix this. I don't know what to do. I don't know what you want me to do, Chance, I..." Stop begging. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Chance. It was just…" Just what? "I don't know."
Max felt himself start to reach out towards Chance, wanting to pull him into a hug, but forcibly made himself take a step back instead. He couldn't just touch Chance again, not after what he did to him, but the empty space between them felt unbearably cold.
Max had never wanted so badly to curl up and disappear.
It had been three weeks since the entire Thad issue and really Carson was only bothered because it had caused a scene. She had left that night and didn’t really know how to talk with Hassim about why she was bothered. She liked Hassim she really did but she still felt like she was stuck to Thad. Had she actually loved him? That was a dumb thought of course she hadn’t because he hadn’t loved her. Someone as hot headed and egotistical could never love and she could never love someone like that. Carson knew better and she had guarded herself from ever loving someone like that. She barely loved anyone or even let the words utter from her lips. Sure, if the words were needed, she said them but she felt those three little words held so much weight she couldn’t let them fly from her mouth.
She wanted to love easily and let herself feel careless but that would only lead to a broken heart inevitably so she didn’t. All of the guarding of her heart and she had somehow managed to be in a relationship with Hassim for about three weeks now. He had come by her place, Ms. Mildred answering the door, and in his hands were flowers and the saddest face. His face was hard to say no to and now they had become a newly stable couple. He was kind to her, patient with her, attributes she hadn’t ever received from anyone. He made her feel like one of those girls in all the romantic movies. It felt almost unnatural but he made her feel good. Hell, it gave her the energy to change her hair to pink.
Was pink completely out of her normal aesthetic? Of course, but she was enjoying every moment of the pink hair. She wanted to embrace in her newfound femininity, she wondered if it was how Astraea felt all the time. Hell, she had barely had time to see anyone with her work schedule being as hectic as it was. Alexei was around but his head was in the clouds when at work, even if he acted like it wasn’t, she could tell he was happy to have finally gotten with Jo. He deserved a nice girl, he deserved to have at least one good thing in his life. So, she said nothing, especially when she was probably going to leave him for a new job. She needed the money to pay for her classes and she wanted to be able to take an extra class.
With all these thoughts going through her head she hadn’t even noticed that her walk to Hassim’s place was over and she was there. She had made her way to his door and knocked but there was no answer. They had made plans to spend the day together, but he always answered when she knocked. So, she tried again, still no response. Was he standing her up? Was she wrong about him? Had it all been an act and now that he had gotten her for a few weeks he was going to tell her it was some stupid mistake and he didn’t actually want to date her? She tried to shake the negative thoughts but Alexie’s messages about why she was offered the new job rang in her head and what if Hassim only dated her because she was “easy”? Why were the negative thoughts so much louder now that she was feeling safe with someone?
You would think that a person disappearing from one’s life would have a bigger impact on the environment.
It had been twentyseven days. Twentyseven days since the party. Twentyseven days without Daik. It felt like a long time and time meant change. However it seemed like nothing had changed. Everything in the place looked like before Juno had even met Daiki. The disappearance of his better half could be seen only by a few items missing. Instead of fancy chopsticks there were just a bunch of disposable plastic chopsticks left. Daiki had been a huge film nerd so the film dvd collection had lessened with half the amount.
That was probably the biggest reason of him not existing in Juno’s life anymore. Other than that and the house not being splattered with Nana’s toys. nothing seemed to be missing, Juno’s stuff just fitted better than before. Besides that the post had started to build up on the small coffee table. Juno walked around the place, both hands wrapped around a cup of coffee which had turned cold a long time ago.Juno took a couple sips of the lukewarm liquid, before throwing it all away, just like he had thrown his happiness away.
Everything had happened so fast. After a small vacation spent in Japan, he suddenly was a married man with an additional family. The marriage however had perished as fast as it had begun. And the only person Juno could think of it was himself. Just why. Just why did he had to ruin it all? To ruin it when he was his happiest. Perhaps that was more to the reason why Juno had so much difficulty handling the divorce. If he wasn’t so happy, maybe a misfortune like this wouldn’t feel as overwhelming?
Suddenly Juno felt a vibration in his back pocket. His phone. It was as if Juno had woken up from a trance. His hands fumbled the phone away from the pocket. College fair, the phone notificated him. Right. A place where a school counselor would be very much needed. However Juno didn’t feel like he was in his right mind. How he would be able to help confused high school kids about their college choices, when he wasn’t able to help himself?
Answer was simple. He was not going there. Staying at home, however, didn’t seem like any better choice. Everything around reminded him of Daiki and that was something he didn’t need at the moment. Bar. He would go to a bar and forget about his worries even if it was just temporar. With this thought Juno finished doing his morning routines. He put on a pair of black shoes and let the door slam down behind his back.
Coke with rum paired with not one, but two citrus slices. It had been teen Juno’s favorite drink and adult Juno decided to order it as well, despite the reason for his visit not being a time to memorize the past. The reason was to forget about everything. As he was glugging down the cold drink, he eyed to his left seeing a familiar face. Juno almost choked on his drink from the surprise.“No way. Jed Fucking Gallinger. Dude, what are you doing here?” He said as clearly as he could in between the coughes.
Meeting Jed at a random bar at this time of day had really surprised him. “After fucking up my marriage, I decided to neglect my responsibilities in the school and instead drunk my ass off like the mature adult I am. Care to join me?” He had a grin on his face but it remains unsure whether it was a happy grin or not. Seeing the dreamy camp counselor as an adult sure was something. Perhaps this coincidence would still lead to memorizing the past. Perhaps that was also a way to forget about his unsuccessful marriage.
there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy....
Astraea’s body swung freely as she walked down the stairs. Her golden locks swaying behind her as she moved. A pep in her step constantly, despite everything that had happened over the past few weeks. She hid it well, she wanted to feel wanted. Carson had already found another boyfriend, and Alexi had finally made his move on Jo. Maybe she was just destined to be single forever. People would never want her first.
Though… She had met someone when she had separated from the herd on 4th of July… But… She wasn’t sure what they were, or what they could mean… But then again… She had only talked to him for a moment before she ran off to join her friends again… Who all themselves had been busy with their own problems..
Astraea was lost in her own thoughts, not too sure where she would be headed on this sunny day at the end of July. But wanting to leave the turning the corner only to find a young boy standing against a wall. His dark curly hair covering his eyebrows, and almost his eyes.
She only tilted her head, furrowing her eyebrows as the young boy exclaimed that he could explain. “Explain?” Astraea asked thoughtfully as her head turned straight on her shoulders once again. “Explain what?”
Astraea looked at the boy with her doe eyes as he was almost pressed against the wall, his thin statue and pale skin made the white walls behind him look brown. “I’m Astraea.” Her eyebrows relaxed. “are you lost?” She reached into her purse only to pull out her phone, reaching out to offer it to the boy.
“Do you know your mom-“ She stopped abruptly, not everyone had parents right. “Do you have someone you can call? You can use my phone!”
Chance tries to sign, unsure what to do with his friend tearing up in front of him. Being friends with Max meant understanding that he was so scared of being alone that he magnified his actions by 100. Chance was a little nervous about the aftermath about the kiss, but everything turned out a lot better and he really wanted Max to see that.
It wasn't hard to read the hesitancy of Max and it seemed as if the deaf boy wanted something from Chance, but Chance didn't know what it was or if he really could give it. Please don't cry, it's not a big deal. Chance quickly takes a few steps closer and this time he is the one to hesitate before he places his hands on Max's arms. He forces the shorter boy to look at him. The crushed look on Max's face made the runner feel guilty, he understood why Max was feeling this way. Max thought that he forced himself on a straight Chance when that wasn't true.
The young Matthews had been practicing the sign for bisexual all night, after learning it from Winnie, because he was willing to come out to Max to make the kid seem some sort of okay. Max didn't deserve to feel this way because Chance wasn't clear on who he thought he was himself. And Max was drunk, people do stupid things when they're drunk. There's nothing for you to feel sorry about. I'm bisexual.
The words solidifying in the space between the two of them made Chance's heart race and caused the butterflies in his stomach to brutally scrape against the inner workings of himself. This was the third time he claimed the words for himself and to another person, but the first to anyone outside his family. I'm bisexual.You did nothing wrong. The smile that painted Chance's face had almost matched the smile he had on his face when he beat the regional track record for the 400 meter. Chance was bisexual. He pulls his friend into a hug as a form of forgiveness and solidarity, his grip similar to a death grip, but Chance was undeniably happy and hoped that his happiness was contagious enough to affect Max.
He pulls away, the smile shrinking to a grin, but still there. I actually wanted to thank you, I think I needed it. Your kiss, that is. Chance signs, his hands stumbling over the forming of the words, he really needed to work on his sign language, but he continues, wanting to tease his friend a little. And your kissing wasn't bad, but I thought you were a kiss virgin or something.
TL;DR Oliver's running a little late to the college fair, and it may or may not have something to do with having almost stabbed someone.
How lonely it is, to be drowning in a place where everyone can swim
Of all the places to get caught in an encounter like this, it had to happen in the lobby below his own apartment.
Oliver was trapped only a few yards away from the worst.
The blonde seemed as concerned as she was confused, asking him to clarify what he wanted to explain, but Oliver couldn't breathe to try again with the sentence. He hadn't meant to say that anyhow, and now he suddenly found himself barely remembering having said it. The last four seconds had become a nondescript jolt in his memory, leaving him stuck where he was and trying to find a way out. He felt his face and hands go cold, his vision wavering. There was no way he was going to get far if he tried to duck out now; it wasn't worth the risk... so he froze, listening.
She thought he was lost?
He wasn't lost. Just waiting.
But her starting to ask for his mother's number drastically changed his tone. This girl had no way of knowing Oliver's mother was just upstairs on the third floor, almost close enough for him to hear her high-heeled footsteps on the thin flooring above... "Lost." Oliver sounded almost insulted, the habitual stammer in his voice clinging to the word and drawing it out into a low hiss. He refused to acknowledge the outstretched phone, his back stiffening and pushing him further towards the wall as though he thought it was going to give him a disease. " I'm not lost. I'm not lost. I lived-- li.. . I mean I lived wh... I live here."
He said the last piece without even thinking about it, feeling it fall from his mouth only to instantly recoil and draw his breath in. The realization of what he had said just stabbed him in the gut. "No. Wait. Wait. I don't--"
Too little, too late. Now at least four people knew where he lived, and he was dreadfully aware of the fact that he sounded absolutely insane.
He couldn't believe he just told her like that. Was that all it took to get a confession out of him? Startle him a bit and he'd say anything?
This must have been how Winnie found out. He was only lucky that it was someone he trusted that time. Winona Matthews wouldn't give his location out, where his family or worse could find it, but this girl? Who knew... she could be from CPS, or a cop, or a friend of his mother's, or...
He edged away from the wall, quickly side-stepping to avoid coming too close to the young woman and keeping himself at arms-length. One hand stayed frozen by his side, ready to snatch up the knife concealed in his hoodie pocket, and the other clutched at his ear as if he weren't sure he was still corporeally present. "You're not going to c-- to call anyone," His voice was a low but frantic whisper. He caught her eyes just for a second, narrowing into a defensive glare. It seemed almost wrong for a boy his size to make an ultimatum, especially since his posture and physicality seemed to imply a threat. And he knew, in the back of his head, that this was going all wrong...
He had nothing left to say. No words. Nothing. Anything else would make this even worse. He was terrified that he'd just start blurting out more things he didn't want her to know. Like if he dared open his mouth again he'd just tell her his name, his apartment number, hand her his keys... "Goodbye."
And just like that, he turned and ran like the building was burning behind him.
He'd wait for Jacob in front of the library, like always. Maybe Jacob would already be there. Something about that thought was chilling instead of comforting.
Oliver decided, as he dodged his way through the side streets away from his neighborhood, that it was past time for them to pick a new meetup spot.
He was already dreading having to return home tonight. If anyone else had seen or heard him, or if that girl decided to tell anyone, then all he could do was pray it wasn't a bad night.
"Please don't cry, it's not a big deal." Chance signed to Max as he stepped forward to gently hold the smaller boy's arms, but nothing ever made Max feel like crying so much as seeing someone tell him it wasn't a big deal when he felt like he'd done something so unforgivably sick and reprehensible that he didn't even think he deserved his own tears. Why should he be comforted?
But Max didn't pull back. He didn't want to. He couldn't even if he did.
"There's nothing for you to feel sorry about--" Max was now reduced to openly sobbing, stifling himself with his hand to stay silent since his father was still in the house somewhere. "No, you don't understand--" He started to interrupt. He wished Chance would just tell him to fuck off, leave and just let Max be alone in his room to drown in guilt. He didn't want any of this. The last thing he wanted was to be forgiven and die knowing that he hurt someone and just got away with it.
Max held his breath, his red tear-stained eyes flashing back open. So he didn't... well, there was...
He couldn't believe it.
But that meant he hadn't crossed that line.
He still deserved to talk to people.
There was still some hope.
But more than that, Max wasn't alone.
"Bisexual..." He repeated it slowly to himself as if he didn't quite understand. "I..."
Chance's smile nearly broke him to pieces, and he couldn't help but smile back.
The need to be understood burned up in his chest until he couldn't contain it anymore.
He couldn't leave Chance alone with this, and he couldn't be alone with himself. His heart felt like it was going to rip apart at the seams just for saying this, but... "Me too."
Trying to clear the tears caught in the back of his throat proved too difficult and he ended up with a pitiful cough. He couldn't begin to process what this felt like. It was too much... it felt like he'd broken every rule he'd ever written for himself. Whatever part of him he broke on the 4th of July, he really was never getting it back. And at the same time as it was freeing, Max was petrified of having to redefine those limits.
But for now, he had Chance, and at least for today, that was enough to feel like there was some hope that he would figure it out one day.
They both would. They had each other.
"And your kissing wasn't bad, but I thought you were a kiss virgin or something."
Max laughed and lightly shrugged, the corner of his mouth drawing a faint smile-- the way Chance signed kiss virgin brought a nervous blush to his face, but for once it felt like normal. The weight of everything that had just happened didn't seem so impossible to shake anymore. "Not anymore, I guess."
He never thought he'd be so relieved to know he wasn't a bad kisser.
With a quick glance to the side, trying to keep cool but failing, Max risked a reply: "You're... not too bad either."
He hadn't moved back yet, still eye-to-eye with his friend, feeling his heart syncopating. He was sober now, like he hadn't been the last time, but standing this close again brought it all back and for a moment he felt drunk all over again. The heat, Chance's dark eyes, all of it was intoxicating. Irresistible.
And now that he knew it wasn't so wrong...
Not giving himself time to rethink, just a nod of his head as if to ask permission, Max leaned forward, his hand sliding up to Chance's shoulderblades and holding him closer. With a shy tilt to the side, praying they were still alone, he stole another touch of Chance's lips and drew into a deeper kiss.
After a moment's silence, he pulled away again as fast as he'd moved forward, gasping for breath, awkwardly brushing a strand of hair away from his eye.
He didn't want to ask what any of this meant, or where to go from here.
Max just wanted to stay. If he could freeze this moment in time and just figure it all out here and now, and move on when he knew how to keep going with all this... he didn't even know how he was going to tell his parents. Or any of his friends, who he'd been lying to for years about this. Somehow they all knew before he did, and long before he was ready to even acknowledge it to himself. He didn't think he could just go and tell them they were all right.
God, what was he even going to do now?
"I should probably..." He fished around in his pocket and pulled out his phone, turning it over in his hand. It had been several weeks since he'd had the stomach to even look at it. "Uh, give me two seconds. I have to reactivate some stuff."
His friends were probably missing him.
He's trying to help so many people, but himself.
in the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself
Hassim knew he fucked up the second his hand retreated back to his side. It was a little satisfying to see the douchebag known as Thad writhing on the floor, but it was short lived as Carson pushed past him. Hassim also knew he fucked up when an officer showed up at his apartment door, questioning the incident at the party. Hassim's actions had now put him on the Anchor Bay Police Department's radar and he didn't need that. Despite his record being sealed and expunged due to him being a minor, there was still some note that Hassim was no good. Some officer contacted Julianna and the esquire had messaged the lifeguard with a warning that he had to be careful.
He had promised his former lawyer that he would watch himself and not let his anger get him in any trouble. Now the only trouble that Hassim was in was with Carson, he had to make it up to her. So, he showed up at her door with flowers and apologies, which was a good decision he made cause now they were dating. Carson had made Hassim feel a little bit more accepted in the little seaside town especially after starting a little rocky with Carson and Artemis.
He hadn't talked to the bookshop worker since after he apologized for the angry texts, and then Artemis texted about falling off the wagon again. Hassim had reached out to help before but Artemis was reluctant and the lifeguard was sure that their relationship bump possibly was a factor.
But now here Hassim was, speeding on the freeway towards Anchor Bay. He had spent the last two days visiting his mother since last week she had gotten into an accident and broke her foot. It was also a way for him to meet with Julianna to make sure that he was okay. Hassim was grateful that Julianna had made time to check up on him, settling in Anchor Bay was difficult and starting a new relationship was a good thing, but all Hassim could think about was if Carson would run because of his past or because of finding out that he had kissed Artemis. He still wasn't sure if that was his place to tell her, Artemis was adamant about keeping it quiet and Hassim was willing to keep his secret.
Hassim's movements are quick as he made his way up to Artemis's apartment door. He already promised to meet Carson at his place and he was going to fulfill that, but he had to check up on Artie. He knew what alcohol could do to some people and he didn't want that to happen to anyone. His knocks on the door are soft but quick. Artie, Hassim hesitates, still not clear on whether he was allowed to call him that. I'm here.
Kissing Max again felt better the second time around. Maybe it was the fact that the both of them had become vulnerable in front of each other. Who would've thought though, Chance and Max. The two of them had always maintained a friendship when the moved to Anchor Bay, they weren't as close Winnie and Max, but they were always there for each other. And now, they had taken an important step with each other that they couldn't take with anyone else.
And for that snippet of time that the two boys mutually agreed to kiss again, Chance was glad it was Max. One arm immediately wrapped around the shorter boy's waist and his other hand rose to cup the back of his head, his fingers running through brown silky hair at the nape of Max's neck. When the two separated Chance looked over him again, a small grin on his face. There was a confidence to Chance now, a confidence that had diminished since he first realized that he was bisexual. He untangles himself from, his hand softly caressing Max's cheek before he slowly takes a small step back. Max I promise I won't tell anyone. until you're ready to. Cause I don't even think I'm ready for the whole world to know, yet.
Chance didn't know what this meant. Because there was Frankie still, the guy who caused for Chance to have this realization, but then there was Max, the guy who had helped him accept himself. Max had figured his sexuality out, but now he had to figure out his feelings. One step forward, but a thousand steps back. Max reactivating his accounts allows for Chance to think on what he had to do next. Because what happens next? Well for that moment, Chance had to help Max reintroduce himself into society because it was a shitshow. The runner softly takes Max's phone, after his friend signs back in, and then takes his hand, pulling him up from where he was sitting.
Okay Maximus, I don't think that trying to reestablish yourself through social media is going to help. Let's go to the stupid college fair, I think seeing your friends in person would be a better method.