Thanks for being so patient with me while I write this story, guys! I was quite busy with summer classes, but now they're over and I have a little time to write! Thanks to all of my reviewers, Gamble7, MaryRose, christianrockstar, and lilylynn! You guys are great! Especially you, mummy mate! I know that you don't know much about Doogie Howser, but you still read my story anyways, so thanks for your support, I love you so much, and don't worry, I'll update my other story one of these days… btw, lilylynn, thanks for your e-mail, I'll e-mail you back soon, I've got lots to tell you! And thanks for your e-mail too, christianrockstar, this chapter is especially for you, it probably wouldn't have gotten up this fast if it weren't for you! So without further ado, I present to you chapter 3!
Chapter 3 Hell Hath No Fury
Vinnie sat with his car idling outside of the school, his windshield wipers wiping a mile a minute. He was waiting for Lex to give her a ride home, just as his best friend had asked. But he was starting to worry. He had been waiting for a half hour now, and she was nowhere to be seen.
He was beginning to wonder if she had forgotten when he saw her in the distance, heading his way. She was walking up the walkway very slowly, her head down, and Vinnie couldn't figure out why, when it was pouring down rain. She should have been running full force; instead, she looked as though the world was going to end.
She eventually reached the car and stopped outside the passenger side door. She pulled up on the handle, and the door eased open, revealing the dry interior. She saw Vinnie staring up at her. His jaw dropped when he caught a good look. "Lex, what happened to you?" he asked, taking in her dripping wet T-shirt and shorts. Her long blond curls hung limply around her face, the ringlets clinging to her cheeks and neck.
Lex shook her head. "I don't want to talk about it," she said. She reached into her bag and pulled out her gym towel, which was soaking wet, and laid it across the seat. Then she put her bag on the floor of the car and crawled in.
Vinnie opened his mouth to say something about Lex leaking water all over his mother's car's upholstery, then shut his mouth before anything came out. By the awful look on her face and the horrible disarray her clothes were in, he didn't dare say anything. She still looks cute, though, even when she's dripping wet, he thought to himself as he put the car into gear and headed out of the school's parking lot.
Curiosity was burning in Vinnie as he guided the car down the wet streets. He couldn't figure out why Lex looked as though she had had been put through the washing machine and stuck on the spin cycle a few hundred times. Every few seconds, he would cast a glance at his best friend's cousin before looking back at the road, wondering.
"Vinnie, stop looking at me!" Lex eventually cried out, annoyed. He was thoroughly creeping her out by the way he was gawking at her.
Vinnie looked taken aback as he tapped the brakes to stop the car at the stoplight. "No, I—I wasn't looking at you—I was, uh… I was looking at all of those wonderful trees outside… uh, you know, how the wind bends them and makes them flow in the wind so gracefully, and uh…"
Lex looked over at Vinnie, and her eyes softened as she saw him struggling to come up with an excuse, staring out the windshield. She found it rather cute. Cute in a funny, comical way, but nevertheless, cute. She found herself apologizing to Vinnie, who hadn't been anything but nice to her since she had arrived at her cousin's, unlike some of the other people Lex had encountered. "I'm sorry for snapping at you, Vinnie," she said.
Vinnie glanced over at the girl next to him. "Hey, it's all right," he said casually. He just continued staring at her, mesmerized.
"Uh, Vinnie?" said Lex. "The light's green."
"Oh! Oh, yeah. I knew that. Really, I did." Vinnie looked back at the road in front of him and hit the gas pedal.
Lex rolled her eyes to herself. She took a breath and sighed, then glanced over at Vinnie in time to see him looking at her again. Putting a hand to her sopping wet forehead, she massaged her temples.
Her very first day at this stupid high school had been one of those days she'd remember for the rest of her life—and it wasn't because it was good. She had merely gotten lost on her way to French class, trying to find her way around, and had been late. She had gotten a demerit; her teacher must have been the devil himself, unable to find it in his heart to forgive Lex this one time on account of her being in a new school. And then there was chemistry class. Lex thought she might have had to kill herself afterwards. Her lab partner was an accident waiting to happen; in one class period, Kevin had knocked over and broken a jar of fruit flies; had spilled hydrochloric acid on Lex's notebook, which had been eaten through by the mixture;, and had nearly set fire to the lab by spritzing distilled water on the Bunsen burner and sending up a shroud of sparks. And, to top it off, not only did they make her play football in the pouring rain during gym class, but after a few minutes with her tree in the middle of nowhere, she headed back to the locker room to change, only to find that those stupid cheerleaders who had yelled at her earlier had stolen her street clothes, forcing her to wear her soaked gym uniform home. She couldn't prove that it was the cheerleaders who had stolen them, since they were gone by the time Lex got back, but she was pretty sure. And now, here she was, dripping in a near stranger's car, going home to a strange place to see family members that she had only seen once a year until now. It couldn't get any worse.
"Lex—I—uh—how was school today?" asked Vinnie as he drove, trying to start conversation.
"I don't want to talk about it," Lex snapped coldly, the memories still fresh in her mind.
Vinnie looked taken aback. "Gee, Lex, I'm--"
"Vinnie, please!" Lex yelled. When she saw the look on Vinnie's face, her voice softened. "Vinnie, please, just… just take me home."
Vinnie pulled into the Howsers' driveway a few minutes later. Lex opened the door and fell out of the car in her hurry to get out. "Thanks, Vinnie," she called, picking herself up off the ground. She dashed to the side door of the house, not able to get inside fast enough. Not here. Not now, she told herself as she fumbled with the doorknob.
"Lex!" she heard Vinnie calling. "Lex, you forgot your bag! Lex! Lex, wait!"
The side door swung open, and Lex dashed in, wet clothes and all. She pushed passed her aunt Katherine, who was standing at the kitchen counter chopping vegetables, and nearly plowed over Doogie, who had just gotten home from work.
"Lex?" asked Katherine, putting her knife down.
Doogie gazed after her as he heard his cousin thumping up the stairs in the next room two at a time. Then his attention was quickly diverted to the side door again as Vinnie came dashing in, a bag in his hands, rain dripping down the sides of his face. "Where'd she go? She forgot her bag," he said a bit breathlessly.
"Calm down, Vinnie," said Doogie in the no-nonsense tone that he usually used at work.
"Howser, I'm calm. I'm calm!" Vinnie closed the door behind him and dropped Lex's book bag on the floor.
"What happened? Is Lex all right?" Mrs. Howser asked Vinnie, running her hands through some water in the sink.
"I—I don't know, Mrs. Howser. She was late meeting me at school, and then when I did find her, she looked like she'd drowned or something." Vinnie sighed. "She hates me. She really, truly hates me. I don't even know what I did to her!" Vinnie leaned against the kitchen counter, his chin in his hands.
"I don't think she hates you, Vinnie," said Doogie. "She's just adjusting to a new school and a new home and everything." Doogie grabbed a chunk of carrot off his mother's cutting board.
"I agree," Mrs. Howser said. "But maybe I should go check on her." She dried her hands on a kitchen towel.
"Mrs. Howser, with all due respect, I don't think that's such a good idea. She might tear your head off or something. I don't think she's in a real 'people' mood," said Vinnie.
"Well, then, I--" started Mrs. Howser, but she was cut off by a blood-curdling scream from upstairs.
Mrs. Howser and Doogie looked at each other in alarm, then dashed through the swinging door into the living room, leaving Vinnie in the kitchen. "Lex!" Mrs. Howser shouted as she and her son raced up the stairs.
"Lex!" Doogie called.
As they reached Lex's closed bedroom door, they heard another scream.
Mrs. Howser dashed to the door and knocked quickly. "Lex. Lex, can I come in?" she said. When she got no answer, she tried turning the knob, but the door was locked. "Lex! Lex, let me in, right this instant!"
There was nothing but silence on the other side of the door.
"Alexa Nicole! Open this door right now!" Mrs. Howser yelled, still twisting at the knob.
"Mom, we've got to get in there," Doogie said, alarmed when his cousin didn't answer. "Maybe she's hurt!" He stepped up next to his mother, who moved slightly to the side. "Lex!" he said, rapping on the door and twisting the knob. "Lex, it's Doogie! Are you all right?"
Still no answer.
"Lex. Lex, please answer me!" Doogie said. "Just let me know you're okay!"
Suddenly, the door flew open. A shoe came flying out of the room at lightning speed, nearly beaning Doogie in the head, and then the door slammed shut.
"I am not okay!" a voice shrieked from inside.
"Lex! Please, let us in!" Doogie said, recovering quickly from almost being killed by a shoe. He turned the knob of the door, only to find it locked, again.
Then the lock moved and the door opened. A matching shoe sailed out. Doogie jumped out of the way just in time.
"Screw those huge football players!" the voice yelled from inside. A book came flying out of the room next, followed by an alarm clock, another shoe, and a large packing crate. "Those stupid tight assed cheerleaders! Those dumb teachers!" Another shoe, followed by a bottle of shampoo and another book. "This freaking town! I hate it all!"
Just as Doogie was about to push his way into the room, the door slammed again, and he heard the click as Lex locked the door.
There was dead silence as Lex was quiet, and mother and son were left to stare at each other.
However, the silence in the hall was broken suddenly by the very deafening, very heavy sounds of Rage Against the Machine.
Doogie and his mother stood in the hall looking at each other. Mrs. Howser stepped towards the door again and began knocking. "Lex! Lex, please let me in! Talk to me!" she said. "I can help you!"
"She's not going to hear you, Mom!" Doogie yelled over the heavy metal music. "I can barely hear you, and I'm standing right next to you."
Mrs. Howser looked at her son, and her hand fell from the door. She nodded. "You're right."
"Maybe we should just let her alone," Doogie shouted.
Mrs. Howser nodded, and she and Doogie headed back to the kitchen.
It was quiet in the kitchen, or as quiet as it could be with Lex's music blaring upstairs and Vinnie chomping away on some Twinkies he had found in the pantry. Still, the two could hear each other talking, albeit they had to raise their voices a little more than normal.
"That chick's got a set of lungs, doesn't she?" asked Vinnie as he chewed. "Maybe she ought to--"
Doogie gave Vinnie a dirty look before he could finish his sentence. "Vinnie, shut-up," he said.
"What? What did I do?" asked Vinnie, swallowing his mouthful of Twinkie.
Doogie shook his head. He doubted that Vinnie would understand the worry that he and his mother had gone through just a few minutes before.
Vinnie shrugged his shoulders. "Well, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Especially if that woman happens to be Lex Aidan." He stuffed another Twinkie into his mouth.
Mrs. Howser, who had gone back to chopping vegetables, sighed. "You hit the nail on the head there, Vinnie." She looked up from her chopping to make eye contact with the two boys. "There's a lot going on with her. A lot of pent up anger, a lot of sadness that she's not letting out, a lot of feelings of uselessness."
"I know. I just wish she'd let us help her," Doogie said.
Mrs. Howser nodded wistfully. "I guess she just needs time." She paused, then added, "It just hurts me that she won't let me help. I only want what's best for her, you know. I love--"
Suddenly, the music shut off upstairs.
Vinnie, Doogie, and Mrs. Howser all looked at each other, and then Mrs. Howser said, "I'm going to talk to her."
"No, Mom, I don't think that's such a good idea. I think--"
"I'll go," said Vinnie.
Doogie looked at his best friend. "No, Vinnie, I'm not so sure that's a good idea, either. She's angry. Pissed, even. You don't want to mess with her."
Vinnie smiled wryly at Doogie. "I've dealt with pissed off women before. Trust me, I can handle this. Maybe she just needs somebody who isn't in her family. You know what I mean?"
"Vinnie, Lex is seriously distressed. With everything that has happened to her in the last few weeks, I don't think she wants some girl-crazy next door neighbor drooling all over her," Doogie said.
"Relax, Doog," Vinnie said, putting down one of his half-eaten Twinkies. "There's more to me than puberty and raging hormones." Vinnie slapped Doogie on the back and headed towards the swinging door without being asked.
Doogie reached out and put a hand on Vinnie's shoulder. "Vinnie, no, stop," he said.
"Doogie, I promise. I won't do anything you wouldn't do." Vinnie turned to face Doogie. "And with you being her cousin, that limits the possibilities." He winked and left the kitchen.
Doogie sighed and came to stand on the opposite side of the counter as his mother. He watched her chopping vegetables, then said a few moments later, "Should I be regretting letting him go?"
A large racquet was heard overhead as something clattered against one of the second floor walls.
"Leave me the hell alone, Pinnie! Or Dinnie! Or whatever the hell your name is!" Lex screamed. There was more thudding, and then Rage Against the Machine came blaring once again from the second floor.
"I'll take that as a yes," Doogie said.
"And that's the thanks I get for trying to help," Vinnie said as he zoomed into the kitchen.
"Don't take it personally, Vinnie," Mrs. Howser said. "It has nothing to do with you."
"She's like a he-man!" Vinnie said as he reached the side door and opened it. "I can't work under pressure like this! Doog, I'll see ya later, man. Ciao." He shut the door behind him, then opened it again. He took the few steps to the edge of the countertop and grabbed the Twinkie he had left there. "Thanks for the Twinkies, Mrs. H. Gotta run. See ya." And he was out the door, leaving Doogie and his mother alone to deal with the ranting Lex upstairs.
When David Howser arrived home from work, he could hardly believe what was going on.
"What's this?" he screamed to his wife, who was stirring some rice on the stove.
"What?" Mrs. Howser yelled.
"It's Metallica!" Doogie called from where he was sitting at the kitchen table, a magazine propped in front of him. He didn't even look up as he said this.
"I know that! Why is it blaring in our house!" Dr. Howser Sr. shouted, moving towards the swinging door to go upstairs.
"David, stop!" Mrs. Howser said, racing after her husband. "Let it go."
Dr. Howser stopped and turned to face his wife. "Why?" he asked. He jumped suddenly as an obnoxiously loud electric guitar-ridden solo was heard over the roaring music. "What the heck is that?" he asked.
"That," Doogie said, finally glancing up from the magazine, "is a guitar."
"Don't, David," Katherine said, reaching for her husband's shoulder. "Don't. It's just Lex. She's burning off some anger. Her first day of school didn't go well."
Nobody spoke for a few seconds as they listened. "She's good," Dr. Howser finally lamented, turning from the swinging door.
Katherine nodded and smiled. "She is, isn't she? Runs in the family." She winked at her husband, remembering her own days of music, when she performed at Woodstock with her band.
"So how long has this been going on?" David asked as he sat in a chair across from his son.
"About an hour," Doogie said.
"It should blow over soon. I hope," Katherine yelled.
David Howser looked ready to explode, annoyed with the commotion, but when he saw the pleading look on his wife's face, he refrained from saying anything too mean. "What's for dinner?" he called.
"Rice with chicken!" Mrs. Howser called back with forced brightness. "And peas!"
"Ah, sounds… sounds nice, Katherine!" Dr. Howser said. He began to twiddle his thumbs, trying to pretend as though everything was normal.
"How was work?" Mrs. Howser bellowed to Dr. Howser.
"It was fine. Fine!" he screeched back.
A few uncomfortable moments passed.
"What are you reading, Son?" Dr. Howser finally started. He was startled, though, when suddenly the music upstairs stopped. The last two syllables of his sentence came out as a roar in the now deathly silent house.
Doogie didn't answer his father. Instead, he looked to his mother, whose eyes had widened at the sudden change of acoustics in the house. Then he looked to his father, who was wearing a hopeful expression.
As quietly as a church mouse, the door to the kitchen swung open, and Lex appeared. "Aunt Katherine?" she asked softly, in a tone completely different from the raging Lex of just an hour before.
"Lex? Are you all right?" Mrs. Howser asked, moving forward to her niece.
Lex nodded. Her face was a little pale, but otherwise Lex didn't look at all like the mess she should have been after her escapade upstairs. "I—I'm sorry, Aunt Katherine. I—I—I--" She stuttered, unable to find the words to describe what she was feeling.
"It's okay, Lex. Don't worry about," Katherine said, moving towards her niece and wrapping her up in a hug.
"I didn't mean to upset you," Lex whispered into her shoulder. "I—I--"
At that moment, the phone rang. Doogie picked up the cordless phone that was sitting next to him while his mother comforted his cousin and his father stood to join his wife and niece. "Hello?" he asked, propping his feet on the kitchen table. "Uh huh. You want to talk to Lex? Okay, hold on a minute." He covered the mouthpiece of the phone with his hand to look at his parents and Lex. "Lex? Lex, there's someone on the phone for you."
"Douglas, tell her to call back later," David instructed. "Alexa is a little busy at the moment."
Doogie was about to comply with his father's wishes when Lex spoke up. "No, wait. Doogie, who is it?"
"He says his name is Gavin. Gavin Andrews. He says he knows you from--" Doogie was cut off by Lex, who had dashed over to her cousin and grabbed the phone from him.
"Gavin!" she shrieked into the phone, suddenly all smiles. "Gavin! Oh my god! I'm so glad you called!"
"Who's Gavin?" David asked, wondering about the effect that this boy was having on his niece.
"Gavin Andrews," Doogie answered. "He says he knows Lex from back home. He said something about a band. And some nachos. And for some reason, he started talking about chemistry and atomic particles…"
The three of them looked on in wonder as Lex actively talked on the phone. None of them were quite sure what was going on with her, how she could go from sad to happy in one minute.
I just wonder, thought Doogie to himself, if there's really anything any of us can do for her.