Their first meeting is awkward, Cher is 13. Her face still round and eyes big. She looks him up and down in a way that would be demeaning, if she wasn't so cute. Mel and Gale (Josh's mother) decided that after five months of dating, their kids should meet.
The two parents carry on conversation while the kids glance at each other across the table. Finally Cher breaks the silence.
"How old are you anyway, Josh?" She says his name in an almost teasing manner.
He can't help but laugh at her tone.
"Uh, I'm 17." He grins
"Wow." She says unimpressed.
"Your 11, right?" He teases.
She huffs, cheeks red, before discreetly kicking him under the table. Hard enough to leave a bruise. She risks a glance at the parents, who are totally absorbed in one another, before leaning towards him from across the table and hissing out:
"I'm 13, you total moron!"
He grins again.
"Sorry little miss prima-donna." He taunts.
She smirks at him and for the rest of the night the back and forth continues.
To an outside viewer it would appear as though they hated each other, but the truth was that they were both thoroughly enjoying the banter.
After this Josh and his mother make it a tradition to have dinner at Mel's house at least twice a month.
Six months later Mel and Gale are married. Josh and his mother move in and Cher complains loudly to Josh.
"Now I have to live with you? Ugh, 24/7 Josh." She whines from her place on the couch snuggled up next to him.
"Aww common don't be like that with your Big Bro." He pinches her cheeks.
She pulls away suddenly upset.
"You're not my brother!" She gets up and stalks off to her room.
He can't help but feel a little stung at her harshness.
She's not sure why she reacted the way she did, but she knows she doesn't like thinking of Josh as her brother.
The next day at breakfast she can't meet his eyes, she feels guilty for treating him so harshly. She's so busy burning holes in her bowl of cereal that she doesn't notice him pouting at her.
That night he knocks on her bedroom door, intending to apologize. She opens the door and guides him inside. They both sit on the end of her luxurious bed.
"Look, Cher... I uh I'm sorry for freaking you out." He looks away.
"Josh you're not my brother, okay. So don't call yourself my bro. It's just like, weird..."
Why does he feel so dejected?
"But, you can call yourself my friend.." She smiles shyly at him.
He ruffles her hair affectionately.
"Aww, besties!" He sing-songs.
"Shut up you doofus" She shoves him.
When it comes time for Josh to go to college, Cher is 14.
She's totally ticked off when he decides to move into the dorms.
"You dumbass! Your college is only 20 minutes away from here! You could totally live here and go to college there and you wouldn't have to pay for the dorm!" She feels herself growing genuinely angry as she chastises him.
"Cher listen, I think it's time I move out. I need the independence. You can't tell me that when you go to college you'll still want to live at home. Besides I'll still come visit." He explains.
"Whatever. If you want to be independent then fine! But don't try and talk to me when you 'visit'. Because I want to be independent from you!" She scowls at him.
"Come on Cher don't be like that-" he begins.
"-No! You're just gonna leave me alone with Daddy and your mom. It's terrible, they hate each other. They never talk to me, all they do is glare at one another!" She knows she's being bratty, but she's hurt.
"Cher." He puts his hand on her shoulder and her lips tremble.
She throws herself at him in a hug, crying lightly.
"Jerk. Idiot." She whispers insults at him halfheartedly.
He hugs her back feeling guilt claw up his throat.
"Hey, I'm close enough that I can visit most weekends."
"...whatever" she mumbles into his chest.
He keeps to his word, visiting often on weekends. But as the school year wears on, he visits less and less due to the heavy work load. She misses him, she says one night on the phone, so quietly he almost doesn't hear. It's lonely in the quiet house. Her Father and Step-mother rarely speak, except to insult one another.
"I'll come visit for Christmas." He says.
She feels herself growing excited. That dork had managed to worm his way into her heart. Ugh how cheesy.
Two months before Christmas and Mel and Gale file for divorce. Gale moves out and into her condo. Cher feels guilty for the relief she feels.
'But what about Josh?' A tiny voice whispers in her head.
He doesn't come for Christmas.
She shouldn't be surprised, she tells herself. Their parents aren't married anymore and he's in college. Of course he wouldn't want to see her again.
She gets a call on the home phone the week after Christmas, it's from Josh. She lets it go to voicemail.
He leaves a message. I'm sorry, he says, I couldn't come on Christmas. I promise I'll come this weekend.
'Liar' her mind whispers accusingly at Josh.
He calls again the next day and just as she's reaching to pick up the phone, to tell him to buzz off, don't come, her Dad picks up the phone.
"Of course, of course come to dinner! We'll see you this weekend." Her dad unknowingly betrays her.
When he comes for dinner, Cher doesn't greet him. He speaks to her across the dinner table but her usual teasing banter is replaced with sharp words, and cold eyes.
"Cher, how was Christmas?" he asks softly.
She was ignoring him, but when he mentions the holiday her eyes snap to his.
"Fine, totally fine." She's looking him up and down again, the way she did when they first met. It's more nerve wracking now.
"I'm sorry I couldn't come...I had to be there for my mother." He apologizes.
"Why would you even come anyway, our parents aren't married even anymore. So, no need to feel obligated, you're not even family." She hisses at him, eyes steely.
"Hey, Cher! We divorce wives, not children!" Her Dad scolds her.
"I'm not hungry anymore." She pushes her plate away and rises from the table. Cher marches to her room.
Josh can't help but feel as though he's ruined their friendship irreparably.
"Maybe I should leave..." He begins.
"Don't worry about it. She'll come around." Mel states
"Just like her mother" he grumbles
She does come around. He visits every weekend that he can. At first she continues to give him the cold shoulder. But as time goes by she can't help but slip back into their banter.
Still though she continues to gripe about his visits, mostly to keep the tradition. Every time she complains about Josh being there her Dad says the same thing: "We divorce wives, not children!"
She's long since forgiven him by the time she turns sixteen. By the time she realizes she's in love with him.
Their laying on the couch together, she's practically in his lap, a few days after Mrs. Geist's wedding. It's as his hands are running through her hair that she figures it out. She feels her blush warming her face as she buries her head in his shoulder and whines.
"Cher? What's wrong?" He pauses his ministrations to her hair.
"I realized something embarrassing..." She mumbles.
"Oh yeah, what's that?" He speaks as he continues to comb her hair through his fingers.
"Promise you won't laugh." She speaks with a pout.
"Okay." He says.
"I think...I think I've been in love with you since I was 13." She admits shyly.
"What?" He chokes.
"That's why I hated when you called yourself my brother." She continues.
He grins and she can feel the teasing she's brought on herself.
"So what your saying is, that I'm your first crush? Aww no wonder you got mad when I left for college." He taunts.
"I never knew how irresistible I was." He keeps it up.
'Irresistible huh' she thinks.
She leans in before he can react and kisses him passionately, her tongue sweeping over his lips. She rakes her hands through his hair eliciting a groan from him. Briefly biting his lip, she pulls away to see his eyes lidded and his face flushed.
She licks her lips and his eyes hungrily follow the motion.
"Checkmate." She chimes.
(A/N): I've always loved this couple, and I've seen very few fics exploring their relationship before the movie, so here's my interpretation. I hope you guys liked it, if you did please review.