A/N: Hello all! I'm so sorry updating this story always takes so long, but by now I'm sure you've all realized how incredibly busy I am. In fact, just a few days ago I had reason to hope that things might have died down a little, but just yesterday I learned that on top of my heavy schedule of grad school classes I will also have to do work to submit to the state (for my teaching credential) and while I spend my nights (3-4 hours four days a week) in a classroom an hour away, I'll be spending my mornings (3-4 hours for five days a week) observing/teaching at a nearby school. At this point, I'm not sure how I'm going to manage any school work I have, but-probably wrongly so- I'm still optimistic about getting more time to write.
Enough about me though and let's quickly review where the story left off: Zoey and Chase were in a good place because of how much they talked over their winter break. Michael and Lola's relationship was moving slowly and it was partially due to a lack of time alone together and separate busy schedules. Quinn was happy with Jack. Nicole had a bad date with a guy she meet at the Halloween dance (Matt-a golf teammate of Chase's). Logan's mom hit it off with Dana as her and Logan pretended to have a "real" relationship. And Logan and Dana were still firmly stuck in denial as the drifted off to sleep in the library's basement.
Notes for this chapter: This chapter picks up the morning after the last one ended. So, it's their first day of classes after winter break. It's a Thursday because not only did I need it to be for plot points of this chapter and the next, but also my schools have very often started in the middle of the week so it's not unusual.
Music for this chapter is limited, but the songs are: "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys and "Nothing Like You and I" by The Perishers.
Disclaimer: I don't own the songs, I don't own most of the basic characters (though I own my direction of their development), and I don't own the basic premise as presented by the show (though I every word and plot point in each chapter are my own).
This chapter feels more necessary than…juicy, and it's not my favorite, but it is all necessary to head somewhere that I'm anxious and excited to get to. Despite the fact that it's not the most exciting chapter, I really hope everyone still reading enjoys it:)
Chapter 10: Awkwardness: The Epidemic
Dana awoke on the couch in the basement of the library tightly wrapped in Logan's arms and with her arms clinging to him as well. But she didn't have time to notice that-and really didn't want to even if there hadn't been other pressing matters. As soon as she woke up she noticed the smallest bit of sun flooding through the windows, which caused her to immediately look at her watch. "Shit," she swore as she read the time and hurriedly scrambled over Logan to get up-kicking him in the process.
"Ouch," Logan bellowed as he woke up with a sudden pain shooting through his leg. "What the hell?" he demanded as he watched Dana scramble to the chair and pull on her boots.
"It's six thirty," Dana explained, not stopping as she tugged on her stubborn boots, "people are probably already up which is going to make it pretty difficult to sneak back into our rooms."
"Relax. I paid off our RA's moths ago," Logan replied easily as he laid back down.
"They're not the only ones that can catch us sneaking back in you idiot," Dana huffed as she put on her coat.
"Fine," Logan agreed as he got up and followed Dana to the unlocked window, "I need to get ready for class soon anyway."
"Yeah, God knows it takes you forever to get ready for anything," Dana replied. She taunted, "Your mom agrees with that too. She said the amount of time you spend in front of a mirror is the closest thing she has to having a daughter."
Dana pulled herself through the window and Logan followed saying, "And I hope it's the closest she gets to having a daughter. She better be having a boy because I don't want a sister. Girls are too much trouble."
Logan pulled himself to his feet to come face to face with Dana. Her eyes were narrowed at him-and rightly so considering he just insulted her gender.
She sighed and concluded, "I'm not sorry for kicking you in the shin. Obviously, it was just a matter of time before you said something stupid and deserved it. Oh, and look at that, you managed to make it a whole thirty seconds before that came true."
"Don't act like you're offended," Logan accused, "You know it's true that girls are trouble. You're even proud of the fact that you are."
She smirked and retorted, "Isn't that the only reason you spend any time with me?" She closed the space between them so that her chest was brushing his and met his eyes as she said suggestively, "Wouldn't you have a whole lot less fun if I wasn't trouble?"
Logan groaned and responded, "See, trouble. You're so much trouble. Why do you have to be like that?"
"I don't know. Why do you have to be such a jerk?" she returned with a smirk.
Logan gave up trying to delay what he really wanted to do just because they were in the middle of a pretty stupid conversation. He kissed her soundly as he wound his arms beneath her coat and under her sweater to pull her tighter and tighter to him by her bare waist.
What they were talking about wasn't important-as usual- so Dana didn't object as Logan deepened the kiss and dragged her back a few steps so he was pressed up against the outside wall of the library (or did she do that?).
A couple of minutes later Dana remembered why now was not appropriate make-out time. She pushed herself off of Logan as she said, "Not now. We have to get back to our own rooms."
"Fine," Logan agreed with a pout. Dana turned to leave, but he grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her back to him. He kissed her before she could question his actions and when he ended it he suggested, "Meet me before class."
"I'm not missing breakfast," Dana declared because before winter break she had been missing breakfast a lot because of Logan and by lunch she was always starving-she did not want to continue this pattern.
He didn't bother arguing. He just kissed her again and repeated as he held her face in his hands, his eyes meeting hers, "Meet me."
She couldn't help but smile just a little-it was another thing that would be ignored by her now and later. "Probably not," she said as she stepped away from him again, still smiling, and offered coyly, "but we'll see."
Dana raced off toward her dorm before he could stop her again because she knew it was pretty likely that he would if she gave him the slightest opportunity. She also knew it was pretty likely she would give in to his advances, but she couldn't, not now. Right now she had to try and make it back to her room before Lola woke up and noticed that she hadn't been there all night. Sure, she told Logan that they both needed to get back so they wouldn't get in trouble, but really, she didn't want their friends to know that they were together all night. Not that she cared what they thought or anything since she knew it was all perfectly excusable (they just fell asleep-no big). But still, if she could avoid the incessant questions, the looks that suggested that she was somehow missing something when really it was they who didn't comprehend the situation, the doubtful eyes that showed how much they suspected every word out of her mouth was a lie, she was going to do anything to avoid all that.
So she ran to her dorm room, opened the door as quietly as she could, tip-toed to her bed, gently lifted the covers, got in, and pulled the covers all the way back up so the fact that she was in yesterday's clothes wouldn't be noticed. She had kept her eyes on Lola across the room the entire time and Lola didn't move a single millimeter. She relaxed in her bed, she shut her eyes and tired to drift off to sleep for the next few minutes before her roommate's alarm went off.
Lola, however, was an actress and she was very good at acting like she noticed nothing when really she knew her roommate had been gone all night and had just returned and was likely with Logan-she'd have Michael confirm it later, they already had a plan.
Chase and Michael were the only ones to make it to breakfast later that morning. Being the first day back after winter break there was the necessary re-adjustment to getting up early and being able to get ready by the time class started. The girls stopped by the coffee cart on their way to class-as did Logan a moment later since his hair took a particularly long time that morning.
The girls continued on to homeroom, but Logan caught up to Dana just before she entered and they spent the moments before the bell rang in a corner near their classroom. The rest of the girls headed on into class to meet up with Chase and Michael who had some news.
"Did you guys hear?" Michael asked from the other side of Chase as the girls passed by to get to their tables.
"What?" Quinn asked since if there was any news and the other girls knew it, she certainly didn't.
Chase directed his response toward Zoey; it was an involuntary habit he had picked up long ago. He explained, "Merrill dorm had a pipe burst early this morning, all three floors flooded."
"No way," Nicole exclaimed, thoughts of wet hot shirtless guys in pajama pants running around their dorm now streaming through her mind.
Michael nodded and elaborated, "Yeah, they're placing each of the guys from the dorm in any room in Stevenson, Brenner, or Regan with a couch to spare."
"So you guys have an extra roommate for now?" Lola deduced.
"We do?" Logan asked surprised as he joined the group, Dana trailing with him trying to smooth her hair as she sat down.
"No," Chase responded, "We don't have a new roommate…yet. Our RA said the guy who was assigned to our room is a transfer this semester and he's not here yet. But he should be getting here this afternoon and Michael and I were thinking that we could invite him to eat with us tonight so he can meet some more people."
"That's so nice of you," Zoey beamed, not at all surprised that Chase would be that thoughtful.
Chase could feel the blush rising on his cheeks and neck, so he ducked his head and Michael asked the question he was now too distracted to voice, "So you guys will all come and meet him tonight if he wants to eat with us right?"
Everyone in the group voiced their agreement as the bell rang and the plan was officially set, at dinner everyone would be meeting the new guy.
At lunch Chase revealed the few details he did know about their soon to be temporary roommate that his RA had told him. Quinn missed out on the info since she was having lunch alone with Jack, but she wasn't missing out on much anyway because Chase didn't know that much. What he did know ended up being cut off by Logan's loud complaints that they didn't need to befriend anyone else, the group was already too big, and they should actually be downsizing. Conversation digressed from "the new guy" from there.
Across the quad Tiffany ate lunch by herself. Normally she was at least joined by Jenna and Morgan, if not many other members of the squad since her "super bitchy captain" days were over. But today, she sat alone. All the other girls were fawning over the football team, which given that she had already at one time gone out with half of them, she didn't feel like joining them.
There was also the fact that John could join them and she knew she shouldn't be spending more time with him-things would just get more complicated if she did.
Five minutes after she sat down to lunch by herself, someone sat down right next to her and just her luck, it was John.
"So," he began, "your friends have taken over my friends."
"That doesn't mean you can sit here," she snipped. Yeah, it was mean, but she had a really good time with him over break-too good of a time-and it'd be easier if he hated her, like before, she had almost convinced herself that she truly detested him until they had that one honest moment in his car that totally ruined everything she was trying avoid.
"I didn't ask your permission to sit here because it's not up to you," John replied easily unfazed by her tone because he had learned in the past few weeks that she would occasionally get a little hostile, but so far it always got better so he figured it was never about him and just brushed it off. He continued on confidently, "And don't act like you don't want me here, we both know you're happy that I decided to eat lunch with you."
Tiffany didn't flinch-outwardly at least. Her mind was screaming with thoughts of "Oh God, he can't know. He can't know." She responded trying to play calm and nonchalant, "How do you know I don't want you to leave? I mean, we already had to see each other every day of break. Maybe I'm really sick of you and glad to be back at school where we could be around other people and not have to see each other, which you ruined when you sat down."
John took a bite of his burger, laughed a little as he shook his head. She was impossible, and that should bother him a ton more then it did-which wasn't at all. Once he was done chewing he tried moving on from the fake argument that she would surely win, "So, how's your day been?"
Tiffany shrugged, not noticing that they were creeping back into "normal" territory as she replied, "Okay. Basketball season doesn't start for a few weeks and they're not even practicing yet so our cheer coach told me that we should take a break too, so no practice until the end of next week."
"Yeah, well that makes sense. I mean, we don't start basketball practice until next week so you guys shouldn't have to practice when we don't even have to," John agreed. He was going to continue on to say that since they both had the next week free then they could hang out, if she wanted. But before he got to make the suggestion that was bolder than he realized at this moment (although later it would plague him), his phone rang. He smiled at the name on the screen before he answered, "Hey Hailey."
Tiffany seemed to perk up at the mention of her stepsister's name; she stopped picking at her fruit cup and attentively listened to John's side of the conversation.
"Aren't you supposed to be in school?" John promptly asked before his sister could even begin to tell the reason she was calling. "Right, Monday, I forgot," he responded. "So what's going on?" he asked good-naturedly. His eyebrow shot up as he replied, "Tiffany? Yeah she's right here actually." Next he said, "Okay, fine," and held the phone out to Tiffany.
Tiffany took the phone and it was John's turn to listen attentively to one side of the conversation.
"What's up Hales?" Tiffany greeted sweetly. "No way!" She exclaimed and then said something that made John want to take his phone back, "You got asked out! Congratulations! Who is he and when and where are you going?" Tiffany could see John's agitation so she switched his phone to her other ear, the one that was furthest from him so he couldn't try anything.
John sat impatiently through the rest of Tiffany's conversation with his sister; jiggling his knee up and down beneath the table, a habit arisen out of his distressed state.
When Tiffany finally ended the call with his sister five minutes later-Hailey had to go- she couldn't even give him his phone back before he cried, "My sister has a date?"
Tiffany nodded as she resumed eating her lunch, "Yeah, his name's Adam. He's apparently super cute and lives a couple of blocks away from us. He's also in her class and he plays guitar in his own garage band."
"She's too young to date," he declared, utterly frustrated at the fact that his mother-or even his new stepfather-were going to let this happen. And, what was especially perplexing to him at this moment was that Tiffany seemed excited at the news.
Tiffany scoffed and argued, "She's thirteen. Plus, your mom is driving them; they're only going to his church's teen dance together. Stop freaking out. Unreasonable, overprotective Neanderthal is a really…annoying quality."
"It's 'unreasonable, overprotective, and Neanderthal' of me to want to protect my baby sister?" John questioned.
"It's a first date with a thirteen year old boy on which your mom or members of his church will always be present. She doesn't need protecting for that," Tiffany argued. She was completely on Hailey's side. If a cute boy asked her out, she should get to go, and she trusted that Hailey knew what she was agreeing to and how to handle herself. Thus, John's overprotectiveness was completely irrational and unnecessary. Yet, it was also kind of really sweet and adorable, but she couldn't-shouldn't-notice things like that so she started her very valid argument in hopes that it would help her concentrate on the fact that he was wrong.
Of course he had to go and ruin that for her with the next thing he said. His head hung as he stared at the table, he admitted honestly, quietly, "I just don't want to see her get hurt."
Tiffany couldn't help it. When he did something like that, something that made her heart go thud, thud, thud, her actions just couldn't be controlled. She reached out across the table and took his hand in hers, a comforting sign of reassurance. It would have been completely innocent if it was anyone else. But with him, with the thud, thud, thud, in her chest, the heat on her cheeks that came when ever her skin came in the slightest contact with his, and the flip her stomach did when he looked up and smiled at her, it was anything but innocent.
She made up an excuse about needing to pick up some stuff from her room so she could leave lunch with him early without being rude, because now, at this moment, she knew she couldn't pull off actually being mean to him.
Awhile after classes ended for the day Michael waited in front of Lola's door for her for ten minutes before getting a text telling him she'd probably be a while. He considered going back to his dorm, but he knew Zoey was helping Chase straighten the place up before they're new temporary roommate arrived and he hated to intrude on their alone time. He had been hearing noise from the room across the hall though so he decided maybe he'd just hang out there to wait for Lola-unless Nicole had someone over, because then his presence would be awkward.
Michael knocked and instead of the door opening he heard Nicole loudly shout, "Come in."
"Hey-" Michael began as he entered the room and shut the door behind him.
"Shh!" Nicole interrupted not even glancing at him, her eyes glued to the TV screen in front of the couch she was sitting on.
Michael came around the short corner to look at the screen as he walked over to the couch and sat down next to Nicole. He recognized the movie instantly. She was watching Sleepless in Seattle.
Thirty seconds later the movie went to commercial break and Nicole promptly turned to him and apologized, "Sorry for the 'shh'-ing, but I love this movie. I didn't even mean to stay here just watching TV, but I turned it on for just a second and I saw this movie coming on and I couldn't resist."
Michael nodded understandingly, "Of course you couldn't resist, it's a classic."
Nicole lit up as she exclaimed, "You like it!"
"Well, it's not my favorite movie or anything," Michael said with a shrug, "but thanks to my mom and my sister I have seen it at least twenty times and it's a good story."
Nicole squealed with delight as she said, "I've never met a guy who actually had something good to say about it before. I'm so glad you stopped by so I could find out that one guy who likes it actually exists. Wait…why are you here?"
"Oh," Michael said, suddenly remembering why he was even there in the first place, having been previously distracted by Nicole, "I was supposed to hang out with Lola, but she's at a meeting for Drama Club and apparently they're still fighting about what play they're going to do next and I don't want to go back to my room and be a third wheel to Chase and Zoey, so is it cool if I hang here?" Michael spoke a little faster than usual and he genuinely didn't know what Nicole's answer would be. Sure they were all friends, but in the two and a half years that he knew Nicole, they almost never hung out alone unless there were extenuating circumstances.
"Of course," Nicole responded immediately. She knew that she never really hung out with any of the guys alone so she understood why Michael felt the need to ask her permission to stay. But she also hoped that that could change, that she could become better friends with all the guys and since the opportunity arouse to make sure that one of them knew that they could hang out with her, she took advantage of it.
The movie came back on and it was nearing Nicole's favorite part as Annie was in the car listening to Sam describe his wife. Then the line came and Nicole said along with both Sam and Annie, the ever famous completion of the line, "It was like…". "Magic," she said, drawing out the "M" in the same way as the characters in the movie.
What shocked Nicole was that at the same time she spoke along with the movie, so did Michael. She turned to him with wide eyes.
"What?" He questioned defensively, "It's got to be one of the best movie lines ever."
Nicole simply smiled and digressed, "See, you're a total romantic. You just get it. That's why you're so much better at relationships than Chase and Logan. I mean, not at the moment, but in general you're so far ahead of them."
"What do you mean 'not at the moment'?" Michael asked. He appreciated the compliment and was not ashamed of the fact that yes, perhaps he was a bit of a romantic, but he was pretty sure he was doing all right with Lola.
Nicole realized what she had said and it become one of many moments that she wished she actually thought before she talked. She was so caught up in finding out that Michael was into Sleepless in Seattle and she had wanted to compliment him on his ability of handle a relationship better than Chase or Logan for a while-not that being better than Chase or Logan really said much. She got carried away and now she could either attempt to lie and brush it off or tell the truth and potentially help a friend or hurt a friend by telling what was probably a secret. She attempted to go at the conversation so it would be more of a helpful nature, "Well, it's pretty obvious you haven't kissed Lola yet and considering it's been two and a half months since your first date, it's not exactly ideal."
Nicole said precisely what Michael had a feeling she was going to say. He thought he and Lola were truly okay, but he also knew that Nicole was right. Two and a half months was a really long time to go without kissing a girl he really liked-especially when he knew she liked him too. He was hoping no one else noticed the length of time and lack of kissing and he really hoped Lola was too busy to notice because he really didn't want to screw up with her. He did have his reasons for not kissing her yet though. He tried to explain to Nicole, "Look, I know I should have kissed her by now. It's just, well, first, we don't get to spend that much time together alone so…there haven't really been that many opportunities. I mean, I could probably count them on my hands. Plus, I really don't want to mess things up with Lola. There's a lot of pressure to pick the right time, the right moment and I want it to be perfect."
"Okay, you have some valid points," Nicole granted because it was sweet that he wanted it to be perfect, she hoped someday someone took that much consideration for a first kiss with her. Yet she also knew that the wait was really worrying Lola so she suggested, "But you know where and when don't really matter if it's right. Like, if tomorrow at lunch Chase just turned to Zoey, grabbed her and kissed her. Do you really think she'd care that we'd all be sitting there watching or that the position may be uncomfortable? Of course not."
"I know," Michael agreed. He knew that when for Chase and Zoey or people like them-so obviously meant for each other-then when or where didn't really matter. But, what worried him and why he was so concentrated on 'perfect', was because he worried that he and Lola weren't like Chase and Zoey. He had never told anybody that, not even Chase despite the fact that they talked about relationships frequently, but somehow with Nicole it seemed easy to confess to. He continued, "It's just, what if for me and Lola the when and where really do matter?"
Nicole worried her lip. This was probably information that she shouldn't know. Lola was her friend too and if Michael was having some kind of doubts she didn't want to get in the middle of it since they both talked to her. But Michael was actually her friend first and this whole conversation was her fault. Plus, she realized that Michael had only insinuated something and if she was going to assume it she might as well get confirmation. She asked, "You mean, what if you're not MFEO?"
"Yeah," Michael confirmed completely getting her reference to the movie.
"Okay first," Nicole said with a smile, "I can't believe you got that. You really have seen this movie a lot."
"You have no idea," Michael interjected.
"Second," Nicole continued, "what makes you think that you're not meant for each other?"
Michael shrugged and explained, "It's not that I don't think we're meant for each other, but I don't know that we are either. You know?" With Nicole's understanding nod, he continued, "We're not like Chase and Zoey. The first moment I saw Lola I wasn't automatically in love with her. And I really like her, but I don't know if I'm ever going to…"
Michael had trailed off, but Nicole thought she knew where he was going so she suggested, "Be in love with her."
Michael nodded. It was what he wanted to say, but he hated even thinking that pessimistically about their relationship. He knew, he should just enjoy that he was crazy about her now and not worry if it was going to turn into a really serious relationship, but it was difficult to ignore the wondering if they had a future when both of his roommates had already seemed to find that girl for them.
"Michael," Nicole began seriously, "I know that it seems like high school is the place to meet your soul mate because of movies and TV shows and Chase and Zoey and their obvious MFEO-ness, and Logan and Dana and their weird, but obviously serious thing, but most people don't meet the person they're meant to be with in high school. Of course I'm looking and, personally, I like that idea, but I know realistically that the best I can hope for in high school is what you and Lola have. You're friends who really like each other and who truly want to be together. And maybe she won't be 'the one', but maybe you both pursued this relationship because you both need to know if you're soul mates or just a good couple."
Michael was quite, contemplative, for a minute before he concluded, "Yeah, you're right. I should probably just kiss her then, huh? Just let everything play out and see where we go."
"Definitely," Nicole agreed, "Just go for it."
"Thanks Nicole," Michael said sincerely, "You know, you're really good at this."
"You're welcome and thank you, everyone's got to be good at something right," Nicole said with a modest shrug.
They turned back to the movie, but within fifteen seconds it went to commercial again.
Michael attempted to make conversation, "So, how'd that date go you had ...last night, right?"
"Yeah," Nicole said, confirming he had the time right, "it was…awful. I'm not going to be seeing him again."
"What went wrong?" Michael asked curiously.
Nicole hesitated, but confessed, "He was racist."
Damn. That was not what Michael was expecting. Knowing Nicole-sort of-he thought she'd say something like 'weird mole' or 'boring' or 'just not into him really'. Now that he thought about it though, it actually made perfect sense. He responded, "Well, that kind explains why he was so weird the one time I met him."
"Probably," Nicole agreed.
Silence settled between them again as a Target commercial came on. Nicole couldn't resist singing along to the happy Beatles tune "Hello Goodbye" that played during the commercial.
Michael looked over at her, not really surprised that she was singing along since he had watched TV and movies with her before. But, looking over made him realize something for the first time since he got in the room. He asked as he pointed to the sweatshirt she was wearing, "Is that my sweatshirt?"
"Oh," Nicole said, as she blushed a little embarrassed that she was caught in it. She rushed on to explain so he wouldn't get any weird idea's about her, "Yeah, I'm so sorry I didn't get it back to you. I kept meaning to, but I always forgot to include it in my laundry and I didn't want to give it back to you when it hadn't been washed since you let me borrow it that day. But I remembered over break and I got it dry cleaned and I told myself that I had to return it to you by the end of the day today. So, I came back after classes and I figured, well, I'll just have a little snack and be on my way to drop this off at your room. Then I turned on the TV and you know, Sleepless, and then as I was sitting here with it in my hand ready to leave, but too caught up watching, I got cold and put it on. But I swear I'll wash it tonight and get it back to you first thing in the morning. I'm so sorry I've had it this long. Zoey's always telling me how bad I am with stuff that I borrow."
"Nicole," Michael said cutting her off from rambling any further, "Don't worry about it." Nicole opened her mouth, probably to apologize again he figured, but he cut her off from doing so, "I have two PCA sweatshirts at all times and since they shrink so much when you wash them, I replace them every six months or so. I had already bought a replacement for that one when you asked to borrow it. So, really, don't worry about it. You can even keep it if you want it. It's too small for me now anyway."
Nicole immediately looked immensely relieved. But she questioned about keeping it, "Really?" Michael nodded. She continued, "Thank you. It's so comfy and big. I actually really like it a lot more than most of my clothes; they're all kind of binding. It's so nice of you to let me keep it."
"It's no problem. Though, I'm sure a lot of guys will now be mad at me for giving you something non-binding to wear," Michael complimented as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Nicole pulled a Dana and rolled her eyes. She couldn't help it; the idea was ridiculous to her. "I'm sure," she said sarcastically.
"Yeah, you're right. Most guys wouldn't be mad since I know they liked seeing you in just the sweatshirt. You were turning heads all day in that," Michael said taking a different tactic because he never understood how Nicole had such low self-confidence sometimes.
"Seriously?" She questioned.
"I could make you a list of the guys," Michael offered.
"I'd appreciate that," Nicole responded because if guys were ever looking, she didn't notice. And if they were ever really interested then they never said anything because she certainly almost never got hit on.
The movie had long since returned and they continued watching it in silence-with the exception of one of the occasionally talking along with a line-until commercials when they continued with general conversation that, as ninety percent of their conversation were, eventually turned to the topic of Chase and Zoey.
Michael didn't get a text from Lola letting him know her meeting was over until Sleepless in Seattle had been over for twenty minutes. He decided to wait in the hall for Lola to make her way across campus so he thanked Nicole for letting him hang out and for her advice and once again found himself waiting in the hallway. This time, it was only minutes before Lola joined him.
She greeted him with a hug before she unlocked her door.
"So what play did you guys end up with?" Michael asked as he followed Lola into her room.
"Romeo and Juliet," she answered as she put down her book bag, "which is good because it's what I was arguing for. There was a ton of people that thought it was way too predictable to do it, but I think knowing Dana has improved my arguing ability because I eventually was victorious."
"You're going to try out for Juliet then?" Michael questioned, genuinely interested.
"Nope," Lola denied with a smirk, "I'm going to try out for Romeo." Since Michael looked appropriately confused at that she explained, "How boring would it be if all the girls in the play were played by girls and all the boys played by boys? We do every play like that and this one is pretty depressing so I thought I could try to help mix it up a little, make it more interesting."
Michel nodded in understanding and said sincerely, "I'm sure you'll make a great Romeo."
"Thank you," Lola said graciously as she made her way over to her computer to turn it on and get started on their task. "Okay," Lola said getting back to their purpose, "we really have to get a blog up because the last one was prior to the exchanging of Christmas gifts and so much needs to be told about what's been going on with Chase and Zoey and Dana and Logan."
"Alright," Michael agreed, "who do you want to start with?"
Lola had already given it some thought so she replied easily, "I think we should go with Dana and Logan first. Even though they did sort of make some progress with the whole extra gift exchange we watched through the window and the fact that they went away together, they're still strongly stuck in denial, which is not the happiest note to end on. Chase and Zoey are adorable almost always though so they'll be good for a more positive ending."
"Okay, where do we being then?" Michael asked letting Lola take charge as usual since she was a lot more into it than he was.
"Let's practice the Dana-Logan gift exchange," Lola said angling the camera to the appropriate place in her room to set it up like Dana and Logan were in his room that night (which they knew from watching through the binoculars). Michael joined Lola in the frame of the camera as she said, "So we'll start out with just mentioning the gifts given in front of everyone and then go into what we saw as their extra gift exchange. So, you'll give me a camera, then they made out for a while, and then she pulled out the mistletoe and he put it above her and they ended up on the bed."
"Are we narrating it or trying to come up with what they possibly could have said?" Michael checked.
"Umm…" Lola pondered. She had been thinking about it, but she couldn't decide. She knew they probably wouldn't guess the correct dialogue because whoever knew what either one of those two was thinking during any of their interactions, but third person narration seemed a bit odd when they were acting it out. She offered, "Maybe we should try it both ways? Unless you have a preference?"
"Both is fine with me," Michael said agreeably.
"Okay, then let's try the narration first," Lola decided. Neither made a move for a second so she realized what came next and went over and hit record on the camera set up (just in case it turned out good and they could use it). She came back to her position of "Dana" standing near Michael/ "Logan" and said, "Alright so this is the secret gift exchange."
Again neither of them did anything for a second, but Lola gave Michael a look that said "do something" and he realized he probably was supposed to start with the camera and all. He explained, "First Logan gave Dana a camera. He didn't have it wrapped; he took it out of the box himself and sort of just chucked it at her a bit. All casual and stuff. He said some stuff and so did she, but then she leaned forward and kissed him, took some pictures of them, and then they made out for about five minutes or so."
Michael handed the camera off to Lola as he spoke, slightly tossing it to her. She mimicked saying stuff back trying to recall Dana's general attitude during the exchange and portray it correctly.
Whenever they mentioned the now ever common Dana-Logan make out moments they just skipped over acting them out or did so in a very fake comical way in which their lips were never touching. This time was no different. They simply bi-passed it and Lola moved on.
"Dana stopped broke off their kissing and was saying something-again all casually- and pulled mistletoe out of her pocket followed by what we assume was a tact by the way it was then used. And she gave it to Logan and he dragged over a chair and pinned it up above her head again and then they made out and we stopped watching so we don't know what happened after that, nor do we really want to," Lola explained.
While she was talking Michael got out the mistletoe Lola had brought and tacked it to the ceiling above Lola just as Logan had done with Dana. Michael thought about what Nicole had said about just going for it and kissing Lola and now they did have the mistletoe. So as soon as Lola was done talking Michael made his move.
"Wait-what are you doing?" Lola questioned jumping back, caught off guard. He was going to kiss her now? But they were in the middle of rehearsal, which was something that they had done over a dozen times, what made this one so special?
"Well, we're under mistletoe," Michael explained. That wasn't the only reason he wanted to kiss her now, but he figured it wouldn't sound very good if he said, "Nicole reassured me that it's a good idea."
Tradition? He was finally going to kiss her because of a holiday tradition? Well, that sucked. Lola had a difficult time believing that since she was fairly sure Michael liked her as much as she liked him. So, she asked, "Is that the only reason?"
Being a very honest guy, Michael responded honestly, "Other than that I've wanted to kiss you since Halloween."
Lola couldn't help but smile and blush. But there was a task to be done so she ignored her flattered blush and her happy smile and said, "Okay then…let's do this."
Awkward moment number one then ensued.
It was quickly followed by awkward moment number two when Michael stepped closer to Lola-since she had stepped back earlier- and put his hands on her shoulders. He instantly regretted it, but he didn't want to look like more of an idiot and let her know that that was not what he intended (not that he knew what he really intended to do) and move them.
They thought the worst of the awkward moments was when moving to kiss each other, they bumped heads/noses/cheeks. They laughed it off a bit-awkwardly again- and tried again. This time they got it right and it resulted in the ultimate awkward moment.
After, Michael quickly left while still making up an excuse while Lola rambled so reason that she needed him to leave.
Dinner that night was supposed to consist of the whole gang meeting the new guy that the guys temporarily had staying on their couch. He had arrived just an hour earlier and none of the girls had met him yet. But at dinner Chase, Michael, Logan and the new guy, Sean Loring, ate alone.
They had been waiting for the girls for three minutes before Logan said he's not waiting any longer to eat. So, they got their food and sat down and still there was no sign of any of the girls. Finally, now, after twelve minutes of waiting, Chase got a text. He read it, shot a look at Michael, and announced, "Zoey says the girls aren't coming. Apparently there's an emergency and they need a girls night."
Chase shot both Michael and Logan a look since he had guessed that one of the guys had screwed up and since he was pretty sure it wasn't him it had to be one of them.
"What?" Logan asked noticing Chase's look.
"What did you do to get the girls to ditch us?" Chase asked bluntly.
"Nothing," Logan claimed looking annoyed at the accusation. Chase looked doubtful so he put it another way, "If Dana had a problem with me then she'd just say I'd broken one of her stupid rules, we'd spend time apart for a while, but it wouldn't change anything for the group. And I don't think I haven't even seen any of the other girls since lunch so I couldn't have done anything to them."
Logan had a good point. Plus, if Dana was really mad at Logan she would have wanted people around so she could publically punish him. Though, maybe the girls were needed by Dana because her and Logan had finally realized they were in a real relationship. Chase quickly brushed off that thought since they were both far too stubborn for that. He agreed and moved on, "Fine. How about you Michael, everything good with Lola?"
Instead of answering, Michael turned the question around on Chase as he asked, "Why are you accusing us of stuff? You spent the afternoon with Zoey."
"She texted me to tell me what's going on so obviously she's still talking to me. Lola and Dana aren't talking to you guys though so this has got to be about one of you guys," Chase reasoned.
"Dana never talks to me, it'd be weird if she did tell me something," Logan defended again.
Michael was silent, which drew the attention of all three other guys.
Sean was utterly confused, but intrigued nonetheless.
Finally, Michael caved and confessed, "Fine. It's my fault. I kind of kissed Lola earlier for the first time and it didn't go well."
Logan broke out in a fit of laughter. "You kiss her and she stops talking to you. That's hilarious," Logan exclaimed between laughs.
"What happened?" Chase asked, empathy in his voice.
"I don't know what happened," Michael responded despondently, "it was just really, really awkward and…bad."
Like a typical guy, Michael did not share any further and none of the guys pressed for a better explanation. Instead they just figured they'd work it out or they wouldn't, but that was up to Michael and Lola.
Since silence had returned to the table Sean decided to get a start on the now many questions on his mind. He asked, "So, you're with this Lola," he said to Michael, "you're with a Dana," he said to Logan, "and you're with Zoey?" he asked to Chase.
Sean received two no's and one yes as a response.
Being the one that said yes, Michael explained first, "Lola is my girl friend. Or at least I think she is, but that may change I guess. I hope it doesn't."
Logan jumped in to promptly deny any sort of relationship with Dana, "I'm not with Dana. We're just sort of like friends with benefits except we're not friends. She's friends with these two though…somehow." Logan explained and gestured to his two roommates.
"What about you and this Zoey girl?" Sean asked curiously, "You're not with her, but you've talked about her almost constantly since I got here?"
Chase was about to try and explain when Logan interjected, "Yeah, he doesn't usually shut up about her-you'll learn to tune it out. But he's in love with her and don't tell her that because he hasn't."
"Logan!" Chase admonished.
"What? He would have figured it out for himself in five more minutes anyway," Logan defended.
"It's true," Sean added, "I was already thinking that it was a secret crush/love situation on…I'm guessing she's, what? Your best friend or just a really good friend?"
"Best friend," Michael and Logan responded together before Chase could ramble some convoluted explanation.
"Interesting," Sean simply responded and returned to his dinner.
Chase soon changed the topic and tried to refrain from further mentions of Zoey as they got to know Sean a bit more.
"What exactly do you mean by awkward?" Nicole questioned in an attempt to get more information so they could all help Lola figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.
Lola sighed and grabbed another piece of pizza from the open box on her and Dana's coffee table that they were all sitting around. She shrugged and said, "I don't know. First he put his hands on my shoulders and I suddenly didn't know what to do with my hands so I just left them hanging stiffly at my sides. Then we accidentally knocked into each other a bit when we went for attempt number one. And then attempt number two felt so…forced. I guess there was nothing technically unpleasant about it. I mean, it wasn't super wet and he didn't have bad breath and his lips weren't all chapped and dry or anything. It was just…I kept wondering when it would be over. It felt like forever and it was only like…four seconds. And I know he felt it too because he raced out of here while I was coming up with a reason to get him to race out of here."
Dana was the first to respond. She declared, "Well, what you have to do is clear then. Break up with him."
"What?! No!," Lola cried.
Dana shrugged and concluded, "Then there's your answer. You had an awful kiss, you still want to be with him, so why are we having all this 'separate dinner' drama?"
Lola seemed to be considering what Dana said and the other girls all decided to add in their common opinions.
"Yeah," Nicole agreed, "Dana's actually right. Your first kiss together might have been bad, but all that really matters is that you still want to be with him. Awkwardness just happens sometimes."
"It can't get any worse, right?" Zoey asked, "So the next time it will be better and you guys will be fine."
Quinn nodded her agreement and when the girls looked to her to add in her support she quickly offered, "Well, science and probability are actually behind you guys working this out too, but if I try and explain that you guys will all probably stop listening and be really bored right?" They nodded in agreement so she added, "Then you'll just have to trust me on it. You guys are going to be fine. This is just an…anomaly."
"You guys are right," Lola finally agreed, "I like Michael, and it certainly can't get any worse so next time the pressure will be off and we'll be fine."
A minute passed in silence and since they were all pretty much done eating Quinn was the first to voice the next obvious question, "So, are we done here then?"
"You guys all really hate that you had to miss dinner with the guys and probably other plans for this, right?" Lola asked guiltily for her freak-out ruining their evenings.
She was met with a chorus "of course not"'s and "No"'s.
Quinn explained first since she was the one to ask in the first place, "My plans with Jack weren't until eight anyway so I'm not missing anything."
"What are you guys doing?" Nicole asked curiously.
"Just studying," Quinn responded.
"Oh, yeah, studying," Dana said suggestively.
Quinn's forehead crinkled in confusion so she asked, "I know you're implying something, but I don't know what. So, what are you trying to say?"
"You're going to make out," Dana explained simply.
"Oh, well, yeah, from eight-thirty to eight-forty and from nine-thirty to nine-forty, but other than that we are studying. Jack has academic decathlon coming up," Quinn assured.
"You make out based on a schedule?" Dana questioned.
"Yes," Quinn responded as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
The girls accepted it as being a quintessential Quinn thing to do and moved on with the help of Nicole returning to the original topic when she said, "Well, I really wanted to meet this new guy that's staying with the guys and see if he's cute or not. But girlfriends come before boys so I'm happy to be here."
"Me too," Zoey agreed.
They all looked to Dana, who they all assumed didn't like missing out on time with Logan. But they also all knew that she wouldn't admit to that so they weren't surprised when she caved and also agreed, "Fine, me too."
Lola was about to tease her and say something like, "Please, we all know you hate spending any time away from Logan…or it definitely seems that way since you spend all of your time with him." But before Lola could even begin to say any of the many lines in her head about her roommate's relationship habits, said roommate's phone started ringing.
Dana didn't look at her caller ID when she answered so she was surprised when she heard who it was. "Hi Abby," she said happily and to the confused faces of the rest of the girls in the room. She stood up and rushed out covering the end of her phone as she lied to the girls, "My old roommate from last year. Gotta take this."
The door shut behind Dana before any of the girls could respond. But Nicole was the first to point out, "Wasn't her roommate's name Ava? Because when she told me I remember telling her, 'No way! Ava is what I'm going to name one of my daughters."
"Yeah, I think you're right," Zoey agreed. She also thought 'Abby' was a name Dana had never mentioned before.
"Maybe it was Logan," Quinn suggested.
But Lola had been sitting next to Dana so she responded, "No, I could hear a voice on the other end and it was definitely female."
They were all silent thinking for a minute, but none of them could think of a single thing that could be up with Dana and this 'Abby' mystery so Nicole summed up the group's decision toward it when she shrugged and said, "Oh well."
Quinn soon left to meet Jack and Dana never returned (they all assumed she could be found wherever Logan was), but Lola, Nicole, and Zoey hung out the rest of the night. Frequently the conversation came back around to assuring Lola that everything would be all right with her and Michael, but eventually the all got distracted by Grey's Anatomy. So, in the end, it turned out to be a fairly typical Thursday for the girls.
Once again the gang didn't all make it to breakfast at the same time. Lola avoided it since she knew Michael usually beat her there and she didn't want to have a big awkward group situation. Dana and Logan were…busy. The new guy, Sean, was told to report to his counselor before classes, so the girls that did come to breakfast-Zoey and Nicole-still didn't get to meet him. Quinn ate breakfast with Jack and thus, the only people that saw each other before homeroom were Michael, Chase, Zoey and Nicole at breakfast and Dana and Logan in the library basement.
The awkward whole group moment that Lola feared came with homeroom. She arrived first and sat down and began looking over the book she was supposed to be reading for English. Quinn showed up next and they started talking. But then, the rest of the gang, the ones that ate breakfast together, showed up-which consisted of Michael. The rest of the group got quiet. Quinn stopped talking mid-conversation. Michael glanced at her as he walked in and sat down. He glanced at her again once he was sitting. She did the same.
Luckily, the awkwardness was broken by Logan and Dana running in just as the bell rang. He was holding her hand too-it didn't go unnoticed.
Everyone in the gang was avoiding the subject of what happened between Michael and Lola whenever they were around one of them, which made everyone awkward around Michael and Lola even when they weren't around each other.
So, by lunch Michael had decided that it was time to stop avoiding and he got a note passed along to Lola that simply asked:
Lunch? At the pond?
She texted him a 'yes' under her desk during class.
Lunch turned out to be quite eventful.
John ate lunch alone with Tiffany again. Her friends weren't eating with his friends. He simply headed straight to her table when he got his food. Her friends weren't there yet, but Jenna and Morgan had been planning to eat with their friend. That was, until Morgan saw Tiffany and John sitting next to each other, laughing. She figured it best if they were left alone and persuaded Jenna that football players needed company before Jenna could see the pair eating lunch-she would make a big deal out of it and everything would end there. Granted, Morgan hated eating with a group of guys-she was not comfortable around them and she didn't flirt well, not like Jenna. But she sucked it up because in the two years she had been Tiffany's friend, she'd never seen her smile like she was with John.
Across the quad, Nicole and Zoey finally got to meet Sean.
Chase had found him in line at lunch and invited him to sit with them insisting that this time he'd actually meet the girls-some of them at least.
Nicole and Zoey were waiting at their usual table when Chase showed up with Sean. Chase sat down next to Zoey and Sean took the seat on his other side, which also left him sitting next to Nicole.
Nicole looked ready to faint. Sean was a definite hottie by her standards, and probably most people's standards. He had light brown hair, deep hazel eyes, and a chiseled jaw. He looked like a Ralph Lauren model, and he was dressed like one too.
Chase immediately began introductions as he sat down, "Sean this is Zoey and Nicole. Guys this is Sean…from…Virginia, right?"
"Yeah," Sean confirmed as he reached across the table and shook Zoey's hand with a courteous "nice to meet you". He did the same with Nicole, but she was a bit spaced in her staring and it took her a second to realize he was even looking at her with his hand offered out.
Nicole giggled off her embarrassment and found her voice to ask, "So, Sean, what brings you to PCA?"
He shrugged as he replied, "Well I never particularly liked my last school, never felt like I fit in. So, I started looking up new boarding schools to transfer to and it was really no contest. I mean, who wouldn't want to go to a school near the beach? It seemed like the perfect choice after spending a year and a half at in the land locked state of Utah."
Sean continued to answer more questions from the girls. Most of them were the same as the ones Chase and Michael had asked (Logan wasn't interested), but that was to be expected when one was new.
By the time it was ten minutes to the end of lunch the girls had learned that Sean liked to snowboard, play water polo, play regular polo, and that he was actually a junior, was an only child, was told his roommates would be Austin Broker and Olivier McNair, and was dreading his next class because he hated being forced to draw but got stuck in art because nothing else had a free place for him.
They had somehow transitioned from their worst experiences in an art class to talking about palm reading (it probably had something to do with Nicole's story of a botched up tracing of her own hand). Sean claimed he knew how to palm read and reached for Zoey's hand across the table. She didn't take her hand back as he traced lines in her and with the tip of his index finger and finally said, "Wow, look at that, your love line and life line are parallel for quite some time. It looks like they're in sync for right around the time of high school."
Zoey rolled her eyes dramatically and pulled her hand away as she gawfed and said, "Yeah right. Very funny."
Chase, meanwhile, was extremely agitated. Sean knew he loved Zoey and he was hitting on her? And Zoey was smiling and totally buying into it. She was flirting back. He couldn't believe his luck. Of course he would introduce Zoey into her next boyfriend; his life just sucked that much.
He interjected the conversation desperately, "Oh, Zoe, we need to stop by Dean River's office for student council, remember?"
"Right," Zoey said jumping up, "We better hurry." She politely told Sean that it was nice to meet him and see him and Nicole later.
Nicole was excited at the prospect of alone time with Sean, but her hopes were quickly dashed as both Dana and Logan plopped down at the table and hurriedly started eating.
Since Logan made no move to introduce Dana and Dana hadn't seemed to notice that anyone new was even there, Nicole introduced Sean, "Dana, this is Sean, the guy's temporary roommate. And Sean, this is Dana."
He shook her hand as he recalled, "The not-a-girlfriend that Logan's always off with?"
"What do you mean 'always'? You've been here what? Less than a day? Like you could define always," Dana attacked.
Sean seemed taken aback and was about to apologize as he didn't mean to imply anything, but Nicole assured, "Oh, don't worry about her. She's like that with everyone. You'll see." She got up and added, "I'd stay and explain it to you more, but I've got to talk to some of the girls from the team before class so I'll see you around."
Dana and Logan seemed to be exchanging glares when they weren't hurriedly eating and Sean began to worry. First, Chase seemed mad at him when he left, which didn't make sense since he was trying to help the guy out by letting Zoey-cute, but oblivious-know that someone was in love with her now. Then, he immediately started off bad with this Dana, Logan didn't seem to particularly like him, and he really wanted to leave, but he didn't really have anywhere to go.
Quinn dropped by the table then since Jack had already headed off to class early. She came over and sat down in a hopeless heap. "Hi, I'm Quinn," she greeted to the guy she didn't recognize, her hand offered.
Sean shook her hand and said, "I'm Sean, the guy that's staying with Chase and Michael and Logan because of the flood."
"Right," Quinn nodded.
"Where's Jack?" Dana asked conversationally, "I thought you were eating with him today."
"I did," she confirmed, "he went to get coffee before heading to class early."
"Coffee," Sean exclaimed, thrilled that someone had provided him with an excuse. He realized he had three pairs of eyes on him and he hurriedly stood up as he rushed to explain, "I really wanted to get some, but um, where is this supposed coffee cart I keep hearing about?"
Quinn gave him directions and he was finally off away from the people that didn't seem thrilled about being in his company.
Quinn sighed heavily, which prompted Dana to ask, "Is everything all right?"
"I don't know," she said with a shrug. She attempted to explain, "You know how Jack eats with different people every meal right?" She received a nod from Dana as Logan continued eating so she went on, "Well, since I'm with him now, I eat with all of the different groups he hangs out with and I don't feel like I fit in with any of them and he's right at home with all of them. I don't know what to do."
Before Dana could respond with anything Logan loudly and authoritatively said, "Slut up."
"What?" Quinn questioned confused.
"Slut up," Logan said, annunciating slowly. He explained his reasoning through his mouthful of food, "Slut up your wardrobe and appearance in general. Any guys in any of the groups would instantly like you because you'd be all hot. And any of the girls in any of the groups would hate you for being pretty and with Jack, but they'd respect you because you'd be slutty like them."
"That's horrible advice," Dana adamantly declared. Logan simply carelessly shrugged in response and returned to his lunch. Dana rolled her eyes at him and returned to Quinn and her problem offering, "Well, just pretend everyone's us. I mean, you're comfortable talking to all of us about anything so treat everyone like us and maybe you'll get more comfortable."
Logan scoffed at that-sending food flying out of his mouth-and looked at Dana disbelievingly.
"Yeah," Quinn agreed with Dana, "I'll try that. And if it doesn't work I guess I'm going to try and find conversation tips on-line."
"That's always a fall back," Dana agreed.
"So what do you guys think of this new guy? I only got to meet him for that second," Quinn asked changing the subject.
Dana shrugged and non-committally responded, "He seems okay, I guess."
"Don't like him," Logan declared bluntly.
"Why not?" Quinn questioned.
"I don't know," Logan said with a shrug, "There's just something off about him. He seems like he's hiding something…or fake or something."
"Okay, you're either paranoid or just jealous that he's hotter than you," Dana stated knowing the response it would get.
She wasn't disappointed when Logan dropped his pudding cup and cried, "He is NOT!"
An argument about Logan's attractiveness ensued between Dana and Logan that they got so into that they had no idea when Quinn left and that was only broken up by the warning bell ringing signaling the start of their next classes.
Unfortunately the only two people that didn't have an interesting lunch were Michael and Lola. When Lola texted Michael her "yes" to his lunch proposal her teacher caught her and she was given a lunchtime detention as per school policy. Of course she had to be allowed to eat so she was given five minutes to get something and return to class to serve her detention. In her five minutes she had just enough time to run to Michael by the lake and let him know why she couldn't stay. He understood and they made a quick arrangement to have dinner alone together.
So, over twenty-four hours after their incredibly uncomfortable kiss moment, Michael and Lola were finally alone together to discuss what happened.
Michael had just arrived and he sat by Lola on her couch, both of them facing forward. Michael was nervously jiggling his leg; Lola was chipping off her finger nail polish. Either of them wanted to be the first one to talk.
After three minutes of silence that felt excruciatingly long Lola finally mustered her courage and dove in. She took a deep breath and rushed through absolutely everything she had been thinking in the blink of an eye, "God, that kiss was awful, I know. And now everything is all weird between us. But I don't think that it's that bad of a thing. I mean, yeah the kiss was bad, but we just put a lot of pressure on it by waiting so long and I know I had been thinking about it a lot and I like you so much so my expectations were really high. It can't get any worse though, right? I mean next time we try the pressure will be off because it can't be any more awful. So, we have nothing to be worried about and nothing to be all awkward around each other about-"
Lola was cut off by Michael's lips deftly capturing hers; his hands cupping her face. He had realized while she was talking that he had been thinking the exact same thing and maybe what they needed for their next kiss was to not think about it at all and a little spontaneity to ensure that that was true. And she kept talking and her lips kept moving and he kept watching them as they rapidly formed each quickly spoken word and he decided now was as good a time as any. So he kissed her, and she kissed him back, and it wasn't awful or inept, it was pretty good.
They broke apart after about a minute, faces flushed and smiling. Lola was the first to speak again, though she had trouble finding the right words, "That was…"
"Good," Michael finished for her.
"Yeah," she agreed happily.
"So, do you want to get some dinner now?" Michael asked since they had planned to get dinner alone tonight.
"Not really," Lola admitted blushing.
Michael kissed her quickly for that, but he was a guy and that meant that he was almost always hungry so as much as he would have liked to sit on Lola's couch with her and find out how long he could go before-or if he ever would-get tired of kissing Lola, his stomach wouldn't allow him to do so. It grumbled loudly just as he pulled away from her and prompted him to stand up and suggest, "How about we get something quick to eat and then we can come back here?"
"I guess," Lola agreed with a playful pout.
Well its been building up inside of me
For oh I don't know how long
I don't know why
But I keep thinking
Something's bound to go wrong
Michael took her hand in his and threaded their fingers as they headed out her door.
But she looks in my eyes
And makes me realize
And she says "don't worry baby"
Don't worry baby
Everything was right with them again.
Don't worry baby
Everything will turn out alright
Meanwhile, one floor above Lola's room, Tiffany sat on her couch with John. She was flipping through an issue of Vogue while he pretended to watch her TV.
He didn't think she was looking so he stealthily tried to pull his cell phone out of the right pocket of his pants.
"Don't even think about it," Tiffany ordered without even looking up from her magazine.
"I just want to check in and make sure everything's okay," he claimed as innocently as he could muster.
She turned to her right to give him a disbelieving glance, but he had turned to his left to be looking at her and her glance ended up turning into a stare. She managed to snap out of it after a second and say, "No you don't. What you want to do is get in your car, drive an hour back to Santa Barbara, and spy on them. And that's why we're here in the first place. You can't be trusted not to do that so until I get a call from your sister after her date has ended, you will not be leaving my sight."
"What if I have to go to the bathroom?" John challenged.
"Then I hope you're not shy," Tiffany returned easily.
He couldn't help but laugh at that. God, she was stubborn and frustrating. And he didn't mind, in fact, it was kind of oddly alluring.
She laughed too and he returned to staring at her TV because he had learned over break that he really liked when she was real and he especially liked when she smiled or laughed and the hormonal teenage guy in him found it kind of irresistible. But she was his stepsister now so he needed to be in control of his hormonal urges and so far he always managed to force the thoughts that real smiles and hearty laughs induced away.
He stole a glance at her and noticed that she had returned to her magazine. He suddenly found himself suggesting, "You know, you could come with me back to Santa Barbara. You could supervise me there and we could spend the weekend, come back Sunday."
"No," she replied with some difficulty. She sighed and explained, "You don't need to spy on your sister. And even if I let you go there with me, I doubt I'd be able to stop you from doing something stupid. Just trust your sister and keep watching…wait, MythBusters, oh I love this show."
"You like MythBusters?" He asked distracted by her statement.
"Yeah," she confirmed tossing her magazine onto the coffee table in front of her. He still seemed confused at her admission so she tried to explain, "Well, you know how close I've always been with my dad since it's been just the two of us forever?" He nodded in understanding as she referenced some of the conversations they had had over winter break. She continued, "MythBusters is his type of show. It's like all the stuff I grew up watching with him. So, I watch it a lot when I'm here because it reminds me of him."
John nodded because it made sense to him. And since she had just told him something real, he confessed, "Yeah, I kind of do the same thing. Whenever I miss my mom, I watch Oprah."
Tiffany laughed and apologized, "Sorry, just the idea of you watching Oprah, it's hard to imagine."
"Like you watching MythBusters," John countered.
She rolled her eyes good naturedly and declared, "Well, I do. And you can be assured that I do actually watch it a lot because this episode coming on now, I've seen it. It's the underwater car. They're also going to try and fold a piece of paper in half more than seven times and they're going to try it with a piece of paper as big as a football field at NASA."
John turned his attention to the screen again and within seconds they announced that in this episode they'd be doing exactly what Tiffany said. "Okay, fine, I believe you," he conceded.
"And what are you going to tell me to let me know you're not lying?" Tiffany questioned, not that she didn't believe him though because she had found John to be a very honest and trustworthy person, but she had to hassle him as he did her.
John thought for a second before he divulged, "Oprah's boyfriend's name is Steadman and her best friend that she does stuff with on the show sometimes is Gayle King."
"I don't know if that's true," Tiffany admitted because she wasn't into Oprah, "But I'll google it later to see if you know your Oprah stuff."
"When you do you can come tell me how I'm right," John said leaning back against her couch confidently and putting his feet up on her coffee table.
She slouched down on her couch getting more comfortable as well as they continued to watch the re-run.
The show went to commercial break and as John worried about his sister a thought occurred to him. He asked, "So, how old were you when you had your first date? I mean, I know a lot of guys that have said they've been out with you so you must have started dating younger than my sister right?"
"First, no I did not start dating younger than your sister. I had my dad and he was the only guy I needed in my life. And it was only when I came to school here and he wasn't constantly in my life anymore that I started dating so like her I was thirteen. And secondly, are you calling me slutty with all of these supposed guys I've dated?" Tiffany demanded with a finger pointed at John accusingly.
"No," John immediately denied, "I said a lot of guys said that they've been out with you, as in once, and as in it didn't go anywhere. And since you've managed to go on one date with half of my football team, half the senior team, and a lot of guys from every other sport team on campus, I just figured you must have started young. But, it makes sense that you didn't, with your dad and all. I'm sorry if the question upset you."
"Don't worry about it," she brushed off with a shrug feeling just a bit ridiculous accusing him. But she knew that there were rumors about her and it's not like she knew what ones he heard or believed and most of them really weren't true and they were things that she didn't want him believing about her. She tried to move on and asked, "What about you? How old were you when you had your first date?"
"Well," he began and hesitated, "When my dad left I had to help take care of Hailey and Trevor and my mom so I didn't really have time for a social life until I came here. So my first date was my freshman year here, I was fourteen."
"Where'd you go and who was it with?" Tiffany asked curiously.
"We went to a movie, um, The Ring 2, I believe, and her name was Tracy Shandy, she was in my grade, but, thankfully, she left," John recalled.
"Why thankfully? Did it go bad?" Tiffany inquired knowingly.
John groaned, frustrated that he had admitted something without meaning to. He laughed it off a bit because while it was embarrassing at the time, it was kind of funny. He explained, "It was awful. She wouldn't sit in the seat next to me at the theater because she said she 'needed her space', I still managed to sneeze on her popcorn, I was the one who was jumping in my seat at the scary scenes during the movie, and I still decided to kiss her at the end of the night and it would have been my first real kiss, if I hadn't ended up kissing her nose."
Tiffany couldn't resist laughing just picturing the unfortunate date. She was practically hysterical, but she was aware that she was laughing at him so she guiltily tried to calm down. He noticed and brushed it off, "Don't worry about it, now that I think about it, the whole mess of a night was pretty hilarious."
Tiffany's laughter got louder again, but in a few dozen more second she wore herself out and stopped laughing.
"So, was your first date as awful as mine?" he asked conversationally.
"No," she said with a shake of her head, "He took me to dinner. He paid, pulled out my chair. I had him wrapped around my finger the whole time and the kiss at the end was good."
"Oh, so he didn't pull an idiot move when he kissed you like I did with Tracy?" John asked in a jokingly self-deprecating manner.
"He didn't kiss me, I kissed him," Tiffany corrected proudly.
"Of course you did," John responded, not surprised that Tiffany wasn't the type of girl to wait for the guy to make the first move. But the idea of Tiffany kissing her first date caused a thought to occur to him. He groaned and asked worriedly, "Oh God you don't think Hailey would kiss her date do you?"
"Well, I have always instructed her to take control of situations," Tiffany said reflectively. John rubbed his hands over his face frustrated and Tiffany knew what she was doing to him so she admitted, "But I don't think Hales would actually do that because she's more traditional. And she sort of shy so she's not going to want to kiss him at the dance with all those people there or in your car with your mom there. I think her date is going to end kiss-less."
He felt better now so he gave her an appreciative smile and simply stared at her for a minute. They had talked many times before about personal stuff or anything really, just as they had been now. He couldn't remember ever enjoying simply talking to a girl so much. He wasn't sure that it was an entirely good thing-how much he liked being with her. So, he turned his attention back to the TV and tried to get into finding out if the giant piece of paper could be folded in half more than seven times.
Tiffany followed his lead and turned back to the TV. She really had to stop talking to him like this, she had to stop being honest with him. No one else knew her that well, no one else got that close to her, and she couldn't let him be the one that did, he wasn't supposed to ever mean that much to her, not when their parents were married.
An hour later Tiffany felt a weight on her shoulder. It was John's head. He was sound asleep. And he was close enough that she could tell what kind of (incredible) body wash he used. Her whole body tingled at the contact, there was the familiar flip in her stomach, and the thud thud thud in her chest.
This had to stop.
Michael woke up early the next morning and happily went to breakfast alone as his roommates took advantage of the Saturday and slept in. He felt really good, there was even a jaunt in his step as he headed out of his building and toward the cafeteria. The previous night with Lola had been fantastic. Not that he didn't always have a good time with her-with the exception of the awkward kiss- but the previous night was particularly good and he had never felt more confident about their relationship or their future.
As Michael reached the cafeteria and picked up a tray as he got in a pretty much non-existent line he heard a familiar voice singing, "If I could be sweet, I know I've been a real bad girl, I didn't mean for you to get hurt whatsoever, We can make it better, Tell me boy now wouldn't that be sweet?" He smiled to himself, quickly put some scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, a muffin, and an orange on his tray and raced to catch up the voice that was drifting out the door now.
He caught her about thirty feet from their usual table. He could tell yelling would be no use since she had her earphones in and iPod on. So, he put a hand on her shoulder to get her attention.
Nicole jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder, but luckily she didn't drop or even slightly spill her tray. She took her earphones out and exclaimed, "Oh darn that scared me."
"Sorry," Michael apologized genuinely and tried to explain why he didn't just say something to get her attention instead, "I could hear that you had your head phones in though so I knew yelling for you would be pointless. But I am sorry for scaring you."
"It's no problem," she assured as she continued toward their table, "I really need to stop listening to music when I'm not alone anyway. I always end up singing along and people don't seem to like it."
"Why?" Michael questioned as they sat down, "You have a nice voice."
"Aw, thank you," Nicole responded sincerely. She shrugged as if she didn't really care about it, but said anyway, "I've just been told 'I ruin good song' a couple of times."
"That's ridiculous," Michael said adamantly, "I mean, you do have good taste in songs so I would expect you to be singing something good, but anyone who tells you you ruin songs is just jealous."
"That'd be so cool," Nicole replied wistfully.
They settled into a comfortable silence as they ate. But Nicole was never really comfortable with silence, it gave her mind the opportunity to race with way too many thoughts. She always got up this early on Saturdays, but she realized she didn't think she'd ever seen Michael here since she usually ate alone. She also noticed that he had seemed to be in a particularly good mood. And she wondered if maybe Sean had mentioned her. Or what was up with Chase because he had seemed weird at both lunch and dinner. And she hadn't talked to Lola yet so she didn't know how her and Michael's evening went. See, there really were too many thoughts in her head when it was quiet.
She decided that she should erase some-or all-of the questions from her mind by talking to Michael. "So," she began, "what brings you to breakfast so early?"
"I always get up this early," Michael answered.
Nicole was confused at that because, "I don't think I've ever seen you at breakfast though."
"Yeah," Michael agreed and explained, "I've had football practice all last semester so I usually just grabbed a banana or something and ate on my way there and had lunch after." "Why are you up this early on a Saturday though?" Michael asked curiously since it seemed most other people slept in-the quad was practically empty now at eight in the morning.
"I'm a morning person," Nicole responded simply with a smile.
Michael nodded, it made perfect sense for Nicole. He was about to ask if the school was always this quite at this time on a Saturday since he figured Nicole would know, but she got in a question first.
"How are things with Lola?" Nicole asked hoping that it didn't seem like she was prying.
"Good," Michael replied happily, "Thanks again for the advice the other day. You were right. And now that we got past the whole awkward bad kiss, I think we're going to be okay. I mean, I still don't know if she's the Zoey to my Chase, but I feel good about us."
"That's great," Nicole exclaimed.
"Yep," Michael agreed.
Another comfortable silence settled over them as they continued to pick over their breakfasts. The next time Michael looked up he noticed Nicole worrying her lip and he could tell she really wanted to ask something.
He sighed, put down his fork, and asked, "What's up?"
Nicole hesitated for the briefest of seconds before bursting out, "Has Sean mentioned me? Do you think he's interested in me? Because he's so cute and I couldn't tell if maybe he was into me because during lunch and dinner yesterday he paid as much attention to me as he did Zoey and Chase so I don't know what to think. But has he talked to you? Do you know if I'm his type?"
"First of all Nicole, you're every guy's type," Michael responded. He saw Nicole's look of disbelief and her mouth opening to respond so he hurried on to cut her off, "You're fun, you're sweet, you're a great friend, and you're beautiful and any guy who thinks you're not his type is a complete idiot." He realized he hadn't fully responded to her question so he added, "And Sean hasn't said anything to me about you, but I can't think of a reason that he wouldn't be interested."
Nicole squealed, stood up and rushed around the table and captured Michael in a bone crushing hug before he knew what happened. "Thank you! You're like the best friend ever," Nicole said sincerely as she let him go. She returned to her seat and added as an afterthought, "Don't tell any of the girls I said that."
"My lips are sealed if you stop doubting that you're a catch," Michael bargained.
Nicole blushed just as she had at his previous compliments, but agreed, "Done."
After another minute of silence and Nicole still squealing in delight on the inside at the idea of her being the type of girl any guy would want, Michael realized, "You know, I don't think I really know that much about you Nicole. I mean, most of the time that we talk, just the two of us, we talk about Chase and Zoey."
"Well, what do you want to know?" Nicole offered.
"Umm, I don't know," Michael admitted since he hadn't actually thought that far ahead. He thought for a second until a question popped into his head and he asked, "How was your break?"
"Great," Nicole responded excitedly, "I love Christmas. I knitted scarves with my sister, baked cookies with my mom, and watched my town's holiday parade with my dad. Also, Christmas was at my aunt's this year and her place is huge so we got to play running charades. So much fun!"
"We should play that sometime with everyone," Michael suggested.
"We totally should," Nicole agreed.
Nicole returned Michael's question and asked, "How was your break?"
"Pretty good," Michael responded genuinely, "My sister came back from college a couple of days after we got out so I got to see her for a while, which was cool. My mom and my uncles put together a lot of really good food for Christmas. I played some basketball against my dad to practice for the new season and I got to spend some time just doing nothing, relaxing."
"Cool," Nicole replied.
Silence settled over them again for a whole minute and a half before Nicole couldn't help but return to their default topic, "So is Chase seriously jealous of Sean? Because that was how it seemed yesterday at lunch and dinner and Zoey totally didn't seem into Sean so Chase had absolutely no reason to be that way."
"I know," Michael agreed, "When Sean left to get some coffee last night Chase started telling me everything Sean said that he thought meant Sean was hitting on Zoey, but I didn't see it at all. And when I asked Chase if he thought Zoey was flirting back he said yes, but I know he had to be delusional because I think Zoey's come around to looking at Chase as much more than a friend."
"Me too," Nicole exclaimed eagerly.
They couldn't help but continuing to discus their default topic. They'd have to move on to something new some other time because there was just too much about their usual subject to talk about at the moment.
We spent some time
A couple of hours later at the more reasonable hour of ten-thirty, Tiffany found John approaching her table just as she took her bite of her Special K cereal. She smiled at him, but she wasn't at all happy about what she knew she'd have to do at some point this morning.
Spent some time just talking
About who we were
"Hey," he greeted as he sat down with his plate of waffles.
"Morning," she returned.
You held my hand so
And told me what we
Could be dreaming of
Unfortunately the topic he stared with was one that she was dreading because it provided her with the opportunity to say what she had to, but didn't want to. He proposed, "So, do you wanna catch a movie tonight or something?"
There's nothing like you and I
Nothing like you and I
There's nothing like you and I
He took a bite of his waffle as he waited for her reply though he was pretty sure he knew it. They had hung out quite a bit around their house and with this siblings over break and he didn't see why things wouldn't continue to be the same now that it was just the two of them back at school. Last night had been perfectly normal-except waking up to her gentle prodding because that was oddly intimate and…nice.
We spent some time
But Tiffany didn't respond how he thought because she knew needed this to be over; it wasn't healthy for her. She took a bite of her fruit, chewed quickly, and responded nonchalantly, "I can't. I have a date tonight."
Spent some time just thinking
About days of joy
"You do?" He questioned surprised, "Why didn't you mention it when we were talking about dating last night?"
As our hearts started
I recalled your laughter
From long ago
"It just happened like twenty minutes ago," she responded semi-honestly. The guy, Ralph Tanner a tight end for the varsity football team, had been asking her out every so often for the last year. She didn't really have a reason for always turning him down other than she knew it wouldn't go anywhere and he was only half an inch taller than her, which she didn't particularly like. But, lucky for her he asked again this morning and now instead of lying to avoid spending time with John alone, she had an actual excuse.
There's nothing like you and I
"Oh," he said, trying to accept it despite how completely unexpected it was.
Nothing like you and I
There's nothing like you and I
She was already done with her small bowl of cereal and she had promised herself she wouldn't linger anywhere with him ever again so she stood up and picked up her tray.
We spent some time
Spent some time just trying
To let each other go
She was leaving and he felt like he just sat down. But he noticed her empty bowl and supposed it was natural that she would leave if she was done eating. He suggested hopefully, "I guess I'll see you around."
I held your hand so
And told you what I
Would be dreaming of
"Sure," she lied as she hastily left. She dropped off her tray and bowl in the cafeteria and caught a glimpse of John sitting at the table she just left alone. She wished things didn't have to be this way, but she couldn't handle this. She was already closer to him than she was to most people besides her dad and it wasn't in a sibling way so she needed to stop it before it got out of hand. So, she left the cafeteria, she didn't return to him and avoided him completely the rest of the weekend. She did what she had to and she had never felt worse.
There's nothing like you and I
Nothing like you and I
There's nothing like you and I
So why do I even try
There's nothing like you and I
Zoey and Chase both managed to drag themselves out of bed and get dressed by their mid-afternoon movie plans.
There's nothing like you and I
They were on their way across campus after Zoey had stopped by Chase's room to get him. Sean was there when she stopped by and just the brief exchange of hello's between Zoey and Sean had Chase peeved.
There's nothing like you and I
"We probably should have invited Sean to come with us?" Zoey said thoughtfully.
"Yeah," Chase agreed shortly. He hated that idea of course, but he was trying not to show his agitation.
Nothing like you and I
"You wanna know something horrible?" Zoey asked as they reached the movie ticket line. Chase nodded so she continued, "I knew we should invite him-to be nice and all-before I even got to your room. But when I got there I just couldn't do it. Isn't that horrible of me?"
There's nothing like you and I
Nothing like you and I
Chase was confused because Zoey was always kind and thoughtful so how did she just not do something that was both? He had to ask, "Why didn't you say anything?"
There's nothing like you and I
"Well, I was thinking," Zoey began as she burrowed deeper into her coat as a cold wind hit them, "If he came along we couldn't whisper to each other during the movie like we usually do and I don't know if I could stand that. Being at a movie with you, but not talking to you because someone else was there; it just sounds like…torture." She smiled at him and asked, "That's really horrible of me isn't it?"
Nothing like you and I
There's nothing like you and I
"Not at all," Chase assured, "I feel exactly the same way. It would have been pure torture to share you."
Nothing like you and I
Chase smiled at her, his classic lopsided smile. She smiled at him until the ticket stand person called next and broke the moment. But suddenly, Chase didn't think that the new guy, Sean, was so bad after all.
There's nothing like you and I
A/N: So, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. Please do REVIEW. Interest in this story seems to have gone down, which is perfectly understandable given how long it takes me to update. But, as mentioned many times, I have a busy life and I won't stop writing this story because I love writing it, but if no one else is really interested still, then I won't have a reason to make it a priority in my free time so…just please REVIEW if you are still reading and want to continue to do so.
Also, I'm sorry if this chapter had tons of typos, I'm a bit scattered at the moment so I fear that in my quick proofreads must have missed a lot and I do apologize for that.
The Next Chapter: The next chapter is titled "Clueless" and will largely focus on Nicole and her quest for a boyfriend. In the process of Nicole's mission, there will also be substantial amounts of every couple (or non-couple in Dana and Logan's case). We'll also get to know Sean a bit better as he is going to be popping up quite a bit in the story for a while.
Also, just to keep you guys on your toes, the chapter after next is Logan's birthday and, personally, I can't wait to get to it because whatever you're expecting for Logan's birthday, it's going to be completely different. And, just to give you a heads up, some of the current pairings will be no more by the end of this story, but some new ones will have popped up.
As always, I'm going to try and keep my profile updated regularly with progresses and if you visit and notice I'm slacking on that aspect, feel free to message me and remind me to do so.
Again PLEASE REVIEW! My classes suck and it would make my day to hear from any of you:)
P.S. If you're looking for more DL-goodness, please check out my new one-shot "Stay" (if you haven't already done so). It's long, but it's one of the few things I've written that I'm very happy with.