Author's notes: Well, here we are again. I have debated long and hard about writing a sequel to Breaking Your Own Heart, and if I hadn't been convinced before, Monday's Stef and Callie scene definitely helped. maia Mitchell knocked it out of the park, and Teri Polo showed just the right amount of anger and protective concern. i have wanted nothing more from these two since the pilot.
Uh, sorry, what were we talking about? Oh, right, the fic. As I said, this is a sequel. I highly suggest reading Breaking Your Own Heart before diving into this, or else very little will make sense. In this AU, The twins are a year younger than Callie, and Brandon is a year older. This series was begun back in the halcyon days before Season 1B, so we knew very little about the Jacob family history. If anything looks unfamiliar, I probably made it up..
Finally, a huge thanks to Tunedtochords for betaing (I call her my Lena expert).
This chapter is for Starophie, the Mariana to my Callie.
She had become the crazy girl crying in the ice cream isle of a 7-Eleven.
Callie didn't dare look up from her intense perusal of the Ben and Jerry's, even when she heard stifled giggling. So what if people were watching her? There was nothing wrong with buying some damned ice cream!
Finally settling on Cherry Garcia, she turned toward the counter, grateful she had ignored Mariana's suggestion to leave her purse at home. She gave her cheeks a half hearted swipe with the neckline of her tank top, as the clerk rang up her pint of ice cream, along with a bag of cheddar popcorn and a bottle of coke. If he hadn't been staring before, he definitely was now, along with the tween couple over at the Slurpee machine. Callie didn't need a mirror to know she had a major case of raccoon eyes. Thankfully, the only thing anyone said to her was her total.
She stepped out onto the quiet street, holding her grocery bag and trying to get her bearings. It looked like her newly inherited, far too fancy smart phone would be coming in handy after all. "I still hate you," she told it, even as she opened the maps app. It helpfully informed her that walking home would take thirty minutes. It wasn't quite dark, so she wasn't technically breaking any rules. Anyway, there was no way she was going to interrupt Stef and Lena's evening over a minor freak out.
Stef's old iPhone began directing her where to turn, and Callie tried to figure out exactly when things had gone so wrong. She had listened with half an ear to Mariana and Jesus discussing tonight's pool party all week. The way they were talking, it was the event of the summer, never mind that school wasn't out for another three weeks. It wasn't until that afternoon, when she'd walked in on Mariana debating over tankinis, that Callie realized she was expected to attend. "It'll be the perfect way for you to meet people."
"I don't have —"
"Uh-uh, don't start. You can borrow my blue suit."
"I'm not sure—"
"No." Mariana waved a finger at her.
"Whatever excuse you were going to try, just save it. You have a great body, that bikini will fit you better than me, and I'll show you all the freshmen guys worth looking at."
"Wait, isn't this party just for the eighth grade?"
Mariana laughed, tossing over the blue bikini top in question. "That's just what we told moms so they wouldn't freak out. C'mon, try it on. I have tuns of bottoms to choose from."
Callie couldn't remember the last time she'd gone to a party, let alone worn a bathing suit. She hadn't tried to look "nice" for anyone but Liam in so long, she wasn't quite sure she remembered how. She shuffled through her clothes, glad not to be the center of attention, as Mariana went from room to room, asking every single family member to evaluate her outfit at least twice.
Until tonight, she had thought of Anchor Beach in an abstract way. Sure, she would be taking the placement test in a few weeks, but with the whirlwind that her life had been all spring, that felt like forever away. Still, she was touched that Mariana wanted to include her.
Right up until the moment Lena and Stef dropped them off. Most of the car ride was spent with Jesus trying to figure out where Lena was taking Stef for their biweekly date night, seeming genuinely perplexed when Mariana burst out laughing at his suggestion of a Padres game.
"Wow, looks like your grade grew," Stef drawled, as they turned onto a street already heavily clogged by student cars.
Mariana and Jesus exchanged a nervous glance, but Callie could tell Lena was simply ready to get rid of them. "Brandon will be here to pick you up at 10:30," she reminded them for the second time in fifteen minutes.
"Keep your phones on!" Stef called, but the twins were already tumbling out of the car. Callie followed suit, waving weakly as Stef flashed her a thumbs up.
The base could be heard from the front walk, and Mariana lead the way around to the back of the house as though she'd been coming here for years. One minute, Callie could have sworn Jesus had been right in front of her, and the next he was gone.
It was a family sized backyard, but it looked like half the school was in attendance. True to the twin's word, adults were indeed present, but they looked like college kids, manning the grill and chatting amongst themselves. Shrieking excitedly, Mariana disappeared into a clump of girls — had she motioned for her to follow? It was hard to tell. Within thirty seconds of arriving at her first high school party, Callie had effectively been abandoned.
She'd tried to make the best of it, finding an empty lounge chair and spending a quiet ten minutes watching a group of guys attempt to outdo one another on the diving board. Jesus took a turn, blowing a kiss toward Lexi Rivera, the only other person Callie vaguely recognized. Her next step was to find someone to talk to. Eventually, she got up the nerve to wander over to the grill, reasoning that even she couldn't screw up a conversation about food.
"You're a new face," one of the college guys said, handing her a slightly singed hotdog.
She suddenly felt incredibly exposed, with nothing covering her swimsuit except a tank top and flimsy shorts. "Drinks?" It was one word, but it was a relief to hear it come out steady. She ordered the rest of her brain to shut up and have a good time.
"In the kitchen," said college guy number two, not looking up from flipping burgers. He must be an unfortunate relative of the host. She hoped he was being handsomely paid.
The first guy had stepped closer when she wasn't looking, holding out a foaming solo cup. "Yeah, but we got the good stuff out here."
It only took one whiff for her to be immediately transported back to her old bedroom, Liam's hot, yeasty breath choking her as he kissed her good night. "No, thanks." She nearly dropped her paper plate.
He laughed, and she wished it didn't make him more attractive. "C'mon, it doesn't bite." He jostled the cup invitingly, eyes more on her chest than her face. Suddenly, her hotdog was covered in Coors Light. "Aw, shit."
This time, she did drop her plate, not sticking around for an apology. The smell was making her panic more than anything else. She ran across the yard, no doubt receiving several strange looks, as she knelt to retrieve her bag and towel from underneath the suddenly occupied lounge chair.
She needed it to be gone. She could always jump in the water fully clothed, as many people seemed to be doing, but what had appeared harmless five minutes ago suddenly felt insurmountable. Before she had time to think about it, she was dashing for the house, having a vague notion of taking a minute to try and calm down in the kitchen. Instead, she found herself jogging straight through to the front door and out to the comparative quiet of the street.
She texted a lame ass excuse to Mariana before her vision totally blurred.
Then she'd just walked, trying to ignore the pain of too small flip-flops and waiting for her heart to slow down. Eventually, the 7-Eleven had beckoned to her. She'd marched in, desperate for comfort food and somewhere to wash her hands.
Her overpriced phone cheerfully informed her that it was only 8:30, as she gradually began to recognize her surroundings. She'd been at the party barely forty minutes, and had spent another thirty wandering aimlessly. There was still no reply from Mariana. By now, her feet were screaming louder than her pride, so she texted Brandon. "You busy? I could use a ride."
She tried to think of a good cover story while she waited for either of them to answer. The guy probably hadn't meant any harm. He definitely hadn't spilled his drink on purpose, but it had been so easy to mistake him for Liam, right down to the stumbling way he'd walked into her personal space. Maybe she should have stayed, if only to look out for the twins?
No, now she was just overreacting. If Mariana and Jesus wanted to drink, that was their funeral. It wasn't her job to mother them. Still, she couldn't help needlessly checking her messages icon every few minutes. Why hadn't she gotten Jesus' number? If anyone were to check his phone at a party, it would be him.
Her feet were killing her by the time she limped up the driveway fifteen minutes later, the ice cream also in serious danger of melting. She let herself in, intent on putting away the precious junk food, but stopped abruptly when she heard music playing. Oh god, had Lena's big surprise for Stef been at the house all along? She went very still, one hand still inside the freezer.
A decidedly masculine giggle came from the living room. Sliding off her flip flops, she crept across the kitchen, only to discover a topless Brandon. Well, that explained why he hadn't answered her text.
"Oh, god, Bee," came a breathy voice from beneath him.
"Mm, you feel so good."
That was when she dropped her coke.
There was a flurry of flailing limbs, Brandon nearly ending up on the floor. "Holy shi— Callie?!" He yelped, her name coming out in almost a squeak.
"What the hell is she doing here?" Demanded Talya, Brandon's long-time girlfriend — who was not only topless, but also missing her bra.
"Uh." Callie found that her own voice was surprisingly low. "I, um." She took several rapid steps backwards, the door to the living room swinging uselessly in her face.
"I told you we should have gone upstairs!" Plucking her shirt from the center of the coffee table, Talya bolted in that general direction. Too late, Callie turned back to the half open freezer.
"God, your timing really sucks." As though to punctuate his statement, a door slammed from somewhere above them. "Dammit!" Brandon pelted after his girlfriend..
With nothing else to do, Callie finally put away her ice cream, taking the rest of her meager possessions to the vacated love nest and turning off their god awful music. Seriously, who the hell made out to The Weepies? Tearing open the popcorn with one hand and fishing for the remote with the other, she didn't know whether to laugh or cry. If Talia hadn't hated her before…
Kissing was everywhere. The Fosters had a hell of a lot of channels, and every other one seemed to be showing a romantic comedy. Finally, she settled for some ancient looking science fiction show, involving FBI agents investigating aliens. That same giggle floated from upstairs, and she turned up the volume. God, 90s fashion was terrible, but at least it was mostly distracting her.
Until the male agent suddenly popped up in nothing but a speedo. Suddenly, she was fiercely, irrationally angry. Why did everything come back to sex? This was why you couldn't go to a party without being hit on! God, she hadn't even met anybody. As for the two idiots upstairs, what the hell were they thinking? She highly doubted Brandon was paying any attention to the time.
Why was it okay for them, and not okay for her? Everyone else could make out like it was no big deal. Hell, Talya was pissed she'd interrupted them. In spite of herself, Callie glanced at the mess on the coffee table, not surprised to see a telltale foil packet peeking out from under Brandon's iPod. His plans for the evening were suddenly very, very clear.
Not caring how loud she was being, she stomped upstairs and into a steaming shower, wanting to wash away everything about this night. She stole a squirt of Mariana's strawberry body wash, scrubbing until it was all she could smell.
Changing into sweats and a too small t-shirt fresh from the laundry, she wrapped Stef's stolen hoodie around herself. She'd had it since the day she'd moved in, and kept "forgetting" to return it.
Callie didn't know why she stopped outside Brandon's door, except that she needed to make sure Talia was truly all right with what was happening. Thirty seconds later, she stormed down the stairs and straight for her ice cream, swallowing several heaping spoonfuls straight from the carton.
Okay, so she'd asked for that. Talia certainly sounded… talented. See if Callie did her any favors ever again.
It was hard to stay mad while eating Cherry Garcia, and the alien show gradually got a little better. The clearly pregnant agent was kidnapped, and she was almost enjoying herself, waiting to see when speedo guy would realize his new partner was a double agent.
"Look at this, someone's home before curfew." The TV was up so loud, she hadn't even heard the door open. Startled, she turned to see Stef and Lena regarding her from the front hall.
"So she is. Hurry, Lena, get out the scrapbook."
"Hi," she called, raising her spoon in greeting.
"Don't mind her," Lena laughed, locking the door behind them. Callie watched her smile fade slightly as she took in the uncharacteristic clutter. She probably should have taken the time to straighten up, but she didn't want to think about what might be on those throw pillows.
"Yes, mind me! Goodness, what are we watching?" Stef flopped down beside her, snatching for the ice cream instead of the remote.
"Oh, I remember this show," Lena remarked absently, kicking off her heels. "Are the twins upstairs?"
Callie froze in mid tug-of-war with Stef. "Um, no?"
"It's only 10:20, love. Live a little!" Clearly tipsy, Stef easily won the battle over the ice cream. "Not in the mood for a party, sweets?" She dropped her free arm across the back of the couch as she took her first bite.
It would be so easy to lean into her side, maybe even tell them a little of what happened. Callie edged closer, wondering if Stef would notice her own balled up sweatshirt, which Callie been using as a makeshift pillow.
"Could we turn it down a bit?" Lena sat on her other side, but quickly jumped up again. "What am I sitting—"
Suddenly, a hoodie was the least of her worries. All three of them stared in horror at the lace bra Lena held in one hand, Callie still automatically thumbing down the volume button.
There was a crash from upstairs. "Brandon!" came Talya's distinctive shriek, followed by two sets of hysterical laughter.
Stef went very, very still, a dollop of ice cream in danger of dripping on her silk dress. Not knowing what else to do, Callie reached out, taking the cup and spoon from unresisting fingers. "Uh, it's been a weird night."
"I'll just go pick up the twins," Lena said crisply, dropping the bra as though it were some kind of insect. Stef glanced between her and the stairs, looking pained. Lena strode out the door without waiting for a reply, high heels dangling from one hand.
"I'll come too!" Callie did not want to hear one word of the conversation that was about to happen. She jumped up, casting around for her borrowed flip-flops.
"Hold it!" Stomach dropping, She turned back to face Stef. "The ice cream stays."
Well, it was the least she could do. "Maybe knock first," she suggested," before bolting barefoot for the door. "Lena! Wait up!"
Lena was making an obvious effort to put the incident out of her mind. Callie hoped the discovery meant she was off the hook for leaving the party early, but no such luck. "Were you not having fun?" Lena asked, as they drove the route She had walked an hour before.
She shrugged. "I wasn't really in the mood."
"Didn't Mariana introduce you to people?"
"We sort of… lost track of each other." This was better than the truth, which was that she was apparently more anxious about meeting people than she'd realized. The twins were only a year younger than Callie, and she wouldn't have minded hanging out with eighth graders, as long as there was someone to make introductions. Unbidden, the stare of the college boy came back to her, and she couldn't keep from shivering.
She turned to look out the window, not wanting to see the expression on Lena's face — there was no way she'd missed that. It wasn't like she had been forbidden to come back to the house, right? She swallowed down the irrational urge to ask, glad when they pulled up to the party.
Things showed no signs of winding down. If possible, there were even more cars out front,. When neither twin responded to a text, Lena called first Mariana, and then Jesus. That got their attention, and they appeared moments later, along with Lexi.
"Can we give her a ride home?" Mariana asked this almost as an afterthought, the three of them already scrambling into the backseat. "Hey, Callie, I just barely got your text. What happened?"
She stayed silent while Lena used a neighbor's driveway to turn around. Mariana didn't look mad, but she might be covering in front of her friend.
Mariana tried to catch her eye, but she stared stubbornly out the windshield. "I'm really sorry we got split up so fast, but you could have looked for me."
"Oh?" The sudden snap of Lena's tone nearly made Callie jump.
"It's not a big deal," she mumbled, feeling her face going hot. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lena giving Mariana a hard stare in the rear-view mirror.
"Yeah, it is. I told you to come, and then you didn't even get to meet anyone. I'm really sorry, CJ."
"That's okay." She offered Mariana a tentative half smile. An apology had been the last thing on her mind for most of the evening, but now that she had time to think about it, Callie realized she had been a little hurt.
"Jesus?" This time, there was no mistaking the reprimand in Lena's voice.
"Huh?" Jesus had clearly come straight from the pool, and the girls were sitting as far from him as possible, as he shivered in the air conditioning, wrapped in two damp towels.
"I take it you also owe Callie an apology."
"Oh. Uh, yeah. Sorry, Callie."
"Tsokay." Lena knew perfectly well that Callie was barely comfortable around Jesus himself. Hanging out with a bunch of his friends was the last thing she would have wanted. Still, she found that she was feeling better.
"Thanks," Callie told her at the next stoplight, meeting her eyes for the first time since getting in the car.
Lena dropped her voice. "I'm sorry you didn't have a good time."
"It wasn't just…" she started to say, but a laugh from the backseat cut her off. Lexi was only showing Mariana a video on her phone, but as quickly as her courage had come, it was gone again. "Never mind."
Lena held her gaze for another moment, before turning back to the road. That was one of the things Callie appreciated the most about her. The lack of prying made her want to confess all over again. But not here, with Jesus dripping water all over the backseat and Mariana still looking guilty.
By the time they got home, it was to find a surly looking Brandon sitting alone in the kitchen. She could only assume Talya was enduring an incredibly uncomfortable ride home from Stef. Almost everyone headed upstairs for showers and pajamas. Callie saw that Stef had finished off her coke as well as the ice-cream, but most of her popcorn was left. She reclaimed the TV, anxious to see what had happened to the pregnant FBI agent.
"You could have warned me," Brandon suddenly exploded. Callie looked up to see him slouching into the armchair across from her. He looked genuinely angry, and she nearly choked.
Brandon wouldn't hurt her, she was almost positive. But quite by accident, she'd found herself alone with him. "I'm not your spy," she snapped back, clenching her fingers around the remote to keep them from trembling.
"Why are you looking — are you scared of me?"
"Don't flatter yourself."
For some reason, this only seemed to make him more upset. He jumped to his feet, and now it wasn't just her hands that were shaking. "God, Callie!" She couldn't look at him anymore. How had she let this happen? Stupid, she was so stupid—
But then he was gone, taking the stairs two at a time. Slumping sideways, she drew her legs up, curling into the corner of the sofa and turning her face into the back cushion. What had just happened?
The TV droned on behind her, and she kept as still as possible, trying desperately to will away the urge to cry for the hundredth time that night. Distantly, she heard the boys arguing about something, and then both shouting indignantly when Mariana presumably stole the shower. In the middle of it all, the front door opened and closed, and there were the quiet sounds of Stef shuffling around, turning off lights.
"Are the special effects better from that angle?" She asked, voice barely above a whisper, clearly unsure whether Callie was still awake..
She shrugged, too miserable to say anything. She didn't trust herself to look at Stef without crying, and Callie hope she would take the hint and leave her be.
"I still say I had the worse night." Stef bran her fingers through the ends of Callie's hair, which she hadn't bothered to brush out after her shower.
She laughed in spite of herself. "Maybe."
Stef squeezed her shoulder. "Don't stay up too late, sweets, there's only so long I can keep the boys from devouring all my pancakes."
"Kay." Stef remained standing over her for another moment, almost long enough for Callie to want her to stay. But then she was gone, leaving her alone with nothing but her thoughts and an empty bag of popcorn.
She lingered on the couch for a long time, waiting until things had quieted down before trudging up to bed. The sooner she slept, the sooner tonight could be nothing but a miserable memory.
As she crawled beneath the blankets, she found someone had left Stef's hoodie neatly folded on her pillow.
Author's notes: Fear not, shippers. Brandon and Callie will not be at odds this entire fic. They won't be a couple, but they will be friends.