|The Cost of Being Different
Author: jailynn PM
It's just easier to follow the pack- Emily has always thought so, but getting to know Toby makes her want to break free. Can she risk her friends/her secure future to follow Toby into the unknown? Can Toby show her love is always worth the risk?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Emily F. & Toby C. - Chapters: 8 - Words: 32,177 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 01-18-11 - Published: 12-09-10 - id: 6541813
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Thank you all for the reviews on the last chapter. I can't tell you how much they all meant to me. I think I need to clear something up though, this story isn't about Maya and Emily. Any shades of that relationship in this story is to further the relationship between Toby and Emily. I'm sorry for anyone that might have gotten the wrong impression. I do hope you enjoy the story though. Thanks again for the reviews!
I'm so sorry for the lack of updates lately. This chapter was a bear to write and took me forever to get it going. I really hope it doesn't suck. LOL
Title: The Cost of Being Different
Chapter 8: The Other Shoe
"Do you ever feel like you're waiting for the other shoe to drop," Hanna asked as she walked through the woods with Lucas trailing behind her. Sweat slid down the back of her neck and she wiped at it with a disgusted grimace. The last remaining days of summer were turning out to be hotter than most of the months that preceded them. She thought longingly for a moment about the community pool. Cool waters, hot boys, sunscreen and very few clothes to stick to her body. She sighed, slapping a mosquito from her arm. That sounded like heaven. Instead she was swatting at tree limbs and climbing over fallen branches because Lucas asked her if she would help him with his photography project. "The things I do for friends," she grumbled to herself. She heard Lucas stumble behind her and turned to watch him rub the dirt from his hands. He blushed slightly when he noticed her looking. "Are you okay?"
He nodded. The embarrassment still clearly shown on his face. His gaze dropped to the ground and he carefully shifted his camera equipment closer to his body as he maneuvered over the rocks that he nearly fell over. "There is a reason I went into photography and not sports," he said in his self-deprecating way. His shoulders lifted in a shrug and he met her stare. "I have the coordination of a newborn foal." She smiled at the mental picture she got of a horse with his head on it. Hanna smothered the giggle that tickled the back of her throat. Lucas sighed, "Back to your original question though, why do you ask?"
She shrugged, picking a leaf from a low hanging branch and shredding it into jade ribbons, letting the pieces fall to the lush green grass beneath her feet. "I've just been fighting some stuff lately and just when I think it's finally okay something else comes along. I just really feel like I'm waiting constantly for that something."
"That's kinda deep," his voice turned concern and she rolled her lips together. She shouldn't have said anything. Lucas was just so damn easy to talk to. "Do you want to explain?"
"Not really," she replied airily. The thought of "A" and all the pressure of not being good enough was the last thing she wanted to talk about, with anyone, but especially with Lucas. She felt free while with him. He didn't make her feel less than and Hanna liked that. It was so rare she felt good about herself with the men in her life. Sean didn't make her feel as wanted as he made Ali feel. Her dad wanted to be around his new family more than his old one. But with Lucas...with Lucas she was just right. He slapped his hand against his face and then his arm, mumbling about the bugs. She laughed, wiping the sweat from her forehead. She turned on her spot, looking at all the trees and the way the sunlight filtered through them. It was beautiful and serene. "I think this is a good spot. What do you think? Is this what you wanted for your nature photos?"
He turned in the same fashion she had a moment ago, his dark eyes looking at things in a much different way. He could see beauty where she couldn't, through his lens or not. The artistic part of him always seemed to shine and pull her with him. Hanna knew if she found this place gorgeous, he would find it even more so. He would find something she overlooked. He would capture it and show her later. Lucas was always showing her that true beauty had nothing to do with make-up and designer clothes. He smiled when he faced her again. "Good eye."
He dropped his camera bag gently to the ground, kneeling beside it and opening the zipper. Hanna tried to figure out why two words- "Good eye"- was making her grin like a fool. It really shouldn't have. Those words meant nothing...or maybe, she mused, they meant everything. Sighing, Hanna took a seat on a large tree that had fallen over. The hard tree bark bit into her legs, scratching them every time she moved, but she made a conscious effort not to dwell on that. Lucas brought the large camera to his eye, twisting the focus lens a couple of times. His face squinted a bit and he pressed the button to capture whatever he saw behind the glass. She tilted her head back, letting the sun's rays warm her skin.
Hanna loved the sun. Loved summer. She loved the clothes, the heat, the freedom. Fall and Spring were nice. Fall colors always looked good on her. Spring let her pull out those flirty skirts, but was still too cool for the thin tank tops she liked to wear. Winter was dark. Snow hid the world and made it miserable to leave the house. The only thing good about winter was the two weeks out of school and the presents on Christmas day. She loved presents on Christmas day. It wasn't the stuff, although that was nice, it was the experience. The anticipation. The bright paper and twinkling lights and the smell of fresh pine. She sighed, lowering her head and looking back at Lucas. He was moving to her left, snapping pictures as he went. She observed him with a small smile. He looked so comfortable, so confident with a camera in his hand. So much different than he looked at school which was... Awkward, she decided. He moved awkwardly. It was like he was always waiting for someone to push him down or make him pay for not being popular.
She thought back on her question from earlier, do you ever feel like you're waiting for the other shoe to drop, now she realized how stupid that question was to ask him. Of course, he knew. He dealt with it everyday. Hanna felt a wave of sadness rise up inside of her. How many times did she turn a blind eye to his torment? How many times did she pretend her friends weren't hurting him? How many times did Ali call him a name and she just smiled? Too many that's how many. She'd never felt more ashamed than she did right then. In her quest to be popular, to be one of the few, she stepped on a lot of people. She's still doing it.
A tree branch snapped to her right and her heart started pounding. Lucas was still taking pictures on the other side of her, so whatever just broke that tree limb couldn't have been him. It sounded large though. Not a bunny or squirrel or some other cute little animal... Suddenly she wished Spencer was here. Spence would have been able to give her a list of all animals native to this region and how dangerous they were...on second thought maybe she was glad Spencer was there to do that... She hopped down from the log, keeping her eyes focused on the direction the sound came from. Could it be "A"? Could she-he-it have followed her? Maybe it was a bear or whatever other creature had fangs and could rip apart teens. Hanna slapped another mosquito from her arm and backed up slowly. Another set of branches broke, closer this time and she really started to panic.
"Lucas," she hissed as softly as possible. No response came from her friend. Her blue eyes widened as she heard the animal- killer- thing come closer. 'Please be a really big, cute bunny,' she chanted in her head. "Lucas," she tried to get his attention again. Still nothing. 'Now is not the time to zone out,' Hanna thought.
Her breathing came to a stop in her chest when she saw what was making so much noise. Toby Cavanaugh walked through the woods carrying a bag under one arm. She watched with large eyes as he continued on his way, completely oblivious to the girl that he gave a heart attack to and the boy snapping pictures behind her. Hanna was caught between wanting to know what Toby was doing this far out in the woods by himself and wanting to stay as far away from him as possible. She rolled her eyes as her curiosity won out. Moving as silently as she could, she hid behind trees and branches following Toby. He moved carelessly. She noticed he didn't seem to be aware of anyone. They came up on a river about fifty yards from where Hanna had first seen him and he sat down on the bank. She looked back over her shoulder and shuddered. All she saw was thick trees with no recognizable way to get back to Lucas. She wondered if he could hear her if screaming became necessary...
Toby cupped his hands and dunked them into the water, splashing it on his face. He pulled off his shirt, tossing it to the mound of rocks next to him. She was momentarily stunned at his upper body. His back was well defined. Muscles rippled as he moved, beads of water slid down toward his jean waist band. The sun kissed his skin a light shade of tan. She rolled her tongue over her bottom lip. He stood up, staring at something in the distance. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. Hanna eased as close as she dared, trying to see all she could. She heard Lucas call for her from behind her hiding spot and she twisted to go back before Toby caught her spying. Her foot caught on an exposed root and she threw her hands out to break her fall. She closed her eyes tightly as her body slammed into the earth, buckling her wrists under the weight. Pain pulsed through her arms and she rolled over, biting her lip to stifle the scream.
A shadow fell over her and she prayed silently for help. Her mind raced as Toby leaned down. His face tight in consideration of why she was there. Panic and fear warred inside of her. She couldn't help but think of those wounded, weak animals on Animal Planet. Those were the ones that were killed first. They were the snack before the feast. Oh God she really didn't want to be the snack...or the feast. Hanna tried to push herself up, being in a prone position didn't feel like the safest with a weirdo, possible peeking tom standing over her. Her wrists gave way behind her and she fell back to the ground. Toby held out his hand and she eyed it with suspicion.
"Need help," he asked in that quiet way of his. A chill ran through her body.
"No," she replied with little confidence behind the word. Her arms were killing her and fear was snapping wildly at her stomach. "I'm fine. If you would give me space I'd be on my feet by now."
"Really," he stepped back, giving her room. She pushed her hands into the dirt, grimacing at the slight pain, and pushed herself as far as she could go before it became too much. Lucas called her again and she prayed for him to find her before she had to admit she needed help from Toby. "Need my help now," his voice sounded bored. Her eyes narrowed into slits. She begrudgingly put her hand in his. She could always disinfect later. He easily lifted her to her feet and she pulled away immediately. He backed up and crossed his arms over his naked chest. "Were you following me?"
"No," Hanna responded quickly. Maybe a tad too quick but she decided not to draw attention to that and rushed on. "I heard some noises and went to find out what it was." She heard Lucas coming closer and gained some courage from the fact that soon she wouldn't be alone with Toby. "Why are you creeping through the woods? Bury a body?"
He didn't respond, not that she expected him to, he wasn't exactly the talkative type. He turned his back on her and started to walk away. The page he had been looking at before she fell on her ass- well technically her front- fell out of his pocket and to the ground at her feet, just as Lucas reached the clearing. She watched Toby gather his stuff and head back the way he came, never realizing he dropped the paper. She waited until he was out of sight then bent down to pick it up. Unfolding it, she stared at the page, inhaling sharply. She folded back it up quickly once Lucas appear, sliding it in her back pocket.
"There you are," Lucas breathlessly said coming to stand at her side. "I'm been looking every where." He paused. "Are you okay?"
Hanna nodded, still a little dazed. Twisting her wrists to work some of the stinging pain out and to make sure nothing was broken. "Yeah, I'm fine." Shaking the weird feeling from her head, she smiled at him. "Did you get all the shots you needed?"
"Yeah," he nodded his head the way they came, "ready to get out of here?"
"You have no idea how ready," she mumbled. He walked a little a head of her and she pulled the paper from her pocket, looking at it again. Emily stared back at her. A beautiful sketch of her best friend, done lovingly by someone she didn't trust at all. She felt like cold water had been thrown on her. Toby drawing pictures of Emily...that can't be good, right?
Emily pulled the car into her driveway and slid the gear into park. She turned to look at Maya sitting next to her, smiling at the other girl. "I had fun. That shop was incredible. I can't believe I've lived so close to it and never went in."
Maya place her elbow on the open car window and tilted her head to rest on her upturned palm. "I thought you would like it. That skirt you bought will look great with a deep red shirt I have." Her eyebrow arched and she licked her lips. "You could borrow it if you want."
Emily laughed, raking some hair behind her ear. "I don't think we're the same size." She shook her head. "But thanks." Maya nodded. She shifted to open her door. The evening heat hit her like a slap in the face, causing her to long for the air-conditioned air of her home. She couldn't wait for the cooler weather to return. Moving to the backseat she pulled out the bags that were hers and handed Maya, who had come to stand at her side, the ones that held her clothes. Her neighbor took the bags from her with a bright smile. Emily moved back to shut the door, looking up and down the street.
"Looking for something," the other girl asked using her left hand to shield the sun from her face. Emily looked into her eyes, confused and a little wary. "Or maybe someone?"
Emily shifted, uncomfortable with Maya's knowing look and her question. "No," she shook her head, careful to keep her eyes averted. "Who would I be looking for?"
Maya didn't answer. She didn't need to. Both of them knew who Emily was looking for. She could play it off all she wanted. It didn't change the fact that after spending hours away from him, she couldn't help wanting to see Toby. It was insane. Or maybe she was insane. Maybe there was something really wrong with her. Maybe she needed help. She didn't know. She couldn't figure it out. How could he become so important in such a small time? How could an almost kiss make her yearn for more?
Last night after getting home from the party, she dreamed of him. Of his blue eyes, God those eyes. Icy but warm at the same time. Up close there were flecks of green in them. Making them seem endless, like the ocean. She dreamed of his lips. Perfect, and full. She imagined them to be soft. That a touch of his mouth against hers could make her weak, make her needy. She's never been needy before. Emily has wanted. She wanted Ali. But she's never needed. She dreamed of his arms. The strength of them. The way they felt to have them wrapped around her. His hands on her face. In her hair. On her body.
She woke up sweating and achy. It took an hour to finally calm her heart to go back to sleep. The dream lingered though. Lingered in the back of her mind. Would what she imagined be how it really was with him? The tickling desire to find out was growing every day. Really every moment it seemed like. Even today with Maya, she found her mind wandering. Thinking of him. Of a world where being with him wouldn't shake the very foundation she stood on. Emily closed her eyes and mentally shook the thoughts from her brain. It didn't matter. The world they lived in had rules and one of those rules was Emily Fields and Toby Cavanaugh were not supposed to be anything other than kids that went to the same school.
"You know," Maya said, leaning against Emily's car. "If you want to talk or," she paused, staring at her in a heated manner. "Not talk. I'm pretty good at both. Plus," she tilted her head, her dark hair, done in waves, much like Emily's own, fell across her shoulder, "I give great massages, as you know."
"Thanks," Emily nodded, "I might take you up on that." She hugged Maya quickly, "I really had a wonderful time today. I needed to get away from here. Sometimes this place makes it impossible to let loose and have fun."
"The people here don't like change," she shrugged. "And they definitely don't like different." The sentence came out of nowhere and for a moment Emily panicked wondering what possessed her to confess that.
Her friend smiled again, "It's not a bad thing to be a little different, Emily." She ran her hand up and down Emily's arm. "It's okay to blur the line a little. It's your life and eventually you're going to have to live it the way you want to. High school, this town, it can and is temporary." Maya kissed her lips, immediately backing away, leaving Emily stunned. "Do what feels good, Em. No matter what."
She bit the inside of her cheek, watching Maya disappear into her house. She touched her lips for a second. The kiss was brief, but nice. Maya had soft lips. And she couldn't deny that there was a tiny part of her intrigued by the other girl. Maya didn't seem to care about what others thought. She was strong enough to be herself. And Emily would probably want her, if she didn't already want someone else. There she finally admitted it. To herself, she admitted that she wanted to know what it was like to be with him, even for a moment. In the real world. Emily looked toward the road when she heard the rumbling engine of Toby's motorcycle start up the street. She swallowed as he pulled into his driveway and took off his helmet. The dying sunlight caught him and made her mouth start watering. Emily turned away to look at her car, the bags in her hands, at the ground, and then back at him. Her hands closed into fists and she straightened her spine. Maya's words came back to her, her own dreams floated behind her eyes and she made a decision. She dropped the bags onto the driveway and walked purposefully over to him.
Her steps were quick and measured. She had no idea what she planned to do, but she needed to do something. This might be the only chance she had. It might be the only time she had the courage to do anything. He was about to walk in the house when she rushed up onto the sidewalk in front of his driveway. Emily opened her mouth, waiting for words to spring forth. Nothing came. Her throat felt dry and raw. Her hands were shaking. Her insides felt like a blender was mixing them together. Toby entered his home and she stood there feeling like an idiot watching him. So much for having courage, she thought, angry with herself. Turning she was about to head back the way she came. The garage door opening behind her caused her to falter a bit. She hesitated then took a small step back onto the quiet, empty street.
"Emily," Toby said from behind her, she spun to face him. His voice held the question she was starting to ask herself. 'Why are you standing in front of my/his house?' He started walking toward her, stopping about three feet from her. "Is everything okay?"
No, she wanted to say. Nothing's okay. Everything is screwed up and wrong and the only time it feels sort of right is when I'm with you. All of that was on the tip of her tongue, but it's not what came out. What came out was a confession she had no intention of ever making. "I know you didn't hurt Jenna."
He froze, his eyes clouded. "How?"
She rolled her lips together, they parted with a small pop. "I know because I was there."
"You were," Toby took a step toward her, not threateningly, just slowly. "Emily..."
"Please," she held up her hand, shaking her head. "I need to do this. I need to say this." He nodded. "I was there with Aria, Hanna, Spencer," she paused, "and Alison." Toby's eyes clouded even further at her dead friend's name. "We were in my bedroom and Ali said that you were spying on us through the window..."
"I didn't," he tried to interrupt but she stopped him again.
"I know that now," Emily swallowed. "I think I even knew that then." She shook her head again. "Ali decided you needed to be taught a lesson and grabbed a stink bomb from her brother's room." She moved a half a step toward him, encouraged when he didn't move away, but also scared because he looked away from her. "We went to the shed and I told her I didn't want to do it, but you know how Ali was. She assured all of us that no one was there and, I mean, it was only a stink bomb." Emily felt the tears climb in her throat. "She lit it and threw it in, telling us to run. The explosion...and then you and Jenna ran out." She wiped at the first tear that slid down her face, trying to will the rest back.
"Why didn't you say anything," Toby asked softly.
"I was scared," she choked on the words. "I know that isn't an excuse, but..." she shrugged, giving up on stopping the wave of tears. She looked into his eyes, hoping he would see that she felt horrible for her part in him going away. "I'm sorry. I know it's not enough and I'll understand if you hate me for what I, we did."
"It's okay," he told her. He closed the distance between them and wiped the tears from her face gently. Her eyes fluttered shut because of his touch and the forgiveness in his eyes. "I sort of figured out most of what happened that night already." Her eyes flew open in confusion. "I mean I didn't know for sure," he removed his hands from her face and took a step back. She immediately missed having him so close. "But I thought it might have been Alison. After the accident, she came by to see Jenna. She never talked to Jenna before that night. It seemed weird. I never looked in your windows Emily. I would never do that."
"I know, I know you wouldn't," Emily licked her lips. "Why didn't you turn us in?"
He turned away from her, "There were some things I did that night," he sighed, returning his gaze to hers. "Let's just say, I felt like I deserved to pay for some of my own sins. I just paid for Alison's too." He took her hands in his and squeezed them. "I don't blame you."
Emily took a deep breath and moved closer to him. It felt like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders and she felt light for the first time in a year. "Why are you always so nice to me?"
"You really don't know," his voice betrayed his disbelief. She shrugged, feeling like a piece of the puzzle was there in front of her, but she couldn't quite grasp it. His blue eyes softened. "I like you because you're you."
Her breath caught. So simple and yet it was exactly what she needed to hear. Her heart raced as she decided to take a chance. Standing on tiptoes, she pulled her hands from his and wrapped them around his neck, pulling him against her and planted a kiss firmly on his lips. She could tell she stunned him with her actions, she shocked herself with them, because he stood still for a second. But a second was all it took before he began kissing her back. His mouth moved against hers in a way that made her knees feel weak and her head feel light. Her blood rushed hotly through her veins, warming her, melting her. His hands slid up her back, pushing into her hair, holding her closer.
Toby's mouth opened over hers, his tongue licked at her bottom lip, silently asking her to allow him entry. She willingly did. Emily wanted this. Wanted him to drag her deeper. She pulled at the strands of his hair, raking her nails across his scalp. He groaned into her. She felt his chest rumble with the sound and she shivered in response. Her lungs started to burn, the need for air reminding her that she had to break away soon, but she didn't want to. She wanted to stay locked in his arms with his lips on hers. Her head warred with her heart, begging her to sneak the oxygen she needed, while her heart singsonged that passing out with Toby's kiss bringing her to life wasn't such a bad thing. Her head finally won out and she broke the connection slowly. Savoring the last moment. He dropped his forehead to hers. Both of them were panting. Her heart was thundering in her chest like a race horse's hooves against the ground. She was sure he could feel it, hear it. Emily was positive he knew exactly what was happening inside her right at that moment. Because she was also positive he was feeling the same.
He brushed his lips against her forehead and sighed. "I've dreamed of holding you like this."
"So have I," she told him with her head on his chest. Her phone vibrated in her pocket, pulling her back to reality with a sharp snap. She froze and his hands stopped moving on her back.
"What's wrong," he asked, fear lacing his words.
She pulled her phone out without answering his question. She knew who had texted her. It was the person that was ruining the lives of her and her friends. Emily stepped out of his arms and walked a little away to read whatever "A" had decided to write. Ice flooded her body once the text came up.
Naughty Emily. Three different suitors. Two different kisses. One boyfriend completely unaware of what's happening. A picture is worth a thousand words. Should I send one to Ben? -A
KarismaJulian4ever: I'm so sorry it took me so long to update. Thank you so much for the review! I really hope you like this chapter as well.