Author: fraidy bat

Rating: T

Pairings: Olivia/Viola, Viola/Duke, Sebastian/Olivia

Summary: We see things from Olivia's POV, and all may not be well.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything from She's the Man. None of it belongs to me.

Notes: Well guys, I didn't know this was going to be the final chapter until I was almost done writing it. I hope you find it to be a fitting end. Perhaps one day, if I am feeling very ambitious, I might write a sequel… :)

Chapter 8

I was so intent on reaching the exit a mere two hundred feet away that I didn't see the hand shoot out from the supply closet before it was far too late. Someone strong grabbed me by the upper arm and yanked me rather forcefully into the little room to my left. I stumbled into a metal folding chair in the dark, and I heard the alarming sound of the door being closed and locked. Just as I was starting to get really scared, my abductor flicked on the lights.

Viola stood squarely in front of the door, arms folded across her chest. The hard, resolute look on her face was almost as frightening as the idea that some psycho rapist had just pulled me into the closet to attack me. I had no words. It was like I'd forgotten the English language and fourth grade grammar and the alphabet. My mind was a screaming white blank.

She seemed to take no notice of my speechless terror. "Before you start yelling at me for dragging you in here like some crazy person, I have to say something."

I was still frozen, unable to respond in any detectable way, so she continued.

"I've wanted to talk to you for a few days now, but you've gotten freakishly good at hiding from me. And today when I shouted at you, I know you heard me, but you ran away, I mean, like, literally ran away. Obviously, you have some reservations about conversing with me, or even being within a hundred feet of me. And you know, that's, um, understandable, but it means that this is the only way for me to get you to stand still in one place long enough to exchange a few words.

"So that's what we're gonna do, Olivia. This door is locked, and I—" she reached over and pulled a metal folding chair toward her, "intend to sit here until we've said every single thing there is to say about—this."

Viola paused, waiting for me to say or do anything. I studied her face and tried to suppress the ache that throbbed in my chest. She means it. She's not letting me out until I talk to her. There it was again, that weight pressing down on me, threatening to crush me. I didn't want to do this or be here or see her face or talk about this or deal with any of it—not anymore, not ever. The frayed end of my rope was very near, but I doubt Viola knew that.

"Seriously, Liv. I've got all day. If you would rather I start, that's cool. Just know that you have two choices: you can either sit in that chair across from me and we can work through this, or you can—"

It was like the Hoover dam breaking. All the hopelessness, worry, and stress welled up inside me until they overflowed and I began to sob uncontrollably. If I hadn't been so upset that I was beyond the point of caring, I would have been embarrassed to be standing there in front of Viola, red-faced and crying like someone had died. I just couldn't stop. It was almost a relief to finally let her see how this was affecting me.

She was in mid-sentence when I fell apart in that tiny supply closet, and her stunned silence made it clear that she hadn't been prepared for this.

"Or you can do that," she said very softly to no one in particular.

I was intensely aware of her eyes on me as I choked and tried to breathe through the tears, and finally the self-consciousness kicked in. I covered my face with both hands, attempting simultaneously to muffle the loud sobs and hide myself from Viola. Silently, I willed her to unlock the door and leave me here, to just turn around and walk out of my life so that both of us could retain a shred of dignity. I couldn't help but picture the kind of faces she must have been making then: distaste, contempt, discomfort, amusement, disgust, and so on. Part of me hoped to shame myself into getting a grip and pulling it together, but it had the opposite effect. Even more of me succumbed to the emotional collapse, and I only cried harder. I felt like a total wimp.

So when I felt a pair of slender but well-muscled arms wrap all the way around me, I was somewhat startled, to say the least. Viola pulled me close to her and held me in such a gentle, openly concerned way that all the shock gradually wore off. I still had my hands over my face, but when I felt the brief, light touch of her lips on my temple, I let them fall away so I could tentatively put my arms around her and return the embrace. And then we just stood there, me crying into her shoulder and she holding me tightly, one hand stroking my hair.

"I'm sorry…I'm sorry," she whispered to me as I soaked her shirt with my tears.

Damn, Lennox. That's two Hastings' in about eight days that you've blubbered all over.

Despite my continued sniffling, I had to smile.

I don't know how long we stayed like that. It probably wasn't more than five minutes, but it felt like hours. Strangely, it wasn't weird or uncomfortable at all. For the first time in a while, I felt safe, whole…loved. I didn't pull away from her until I had the tears pretty well under control. Disengaging my arms, I took two steps back to put some distance between us. I noticed that it took her a little while to let her hand slip off my arm, and I tried to give her a grateful smile. It soon turned into a wince when I laid eyes on the large wet spot on her shoulder from where I had cried on it.

I wiped at my face, and she backed up toward the door. "Look, I'm an idiot. I'll just unlock this and you can go—"

"No, don't," I said suddenly, immediately wondering what I was thinking. She's giving you a way out. Just take it, stupid.

Viola looked as surprised as I felt. "Olivia, it's okay. It was insensitive of me to—"

"No, Viola, I'm okay now," I declared with as much confidence as I could, though it wasn't much. Reluctantly, my mind and my mouth (which seemed to have a will of its own lately) came to a consensus. Forcing her out of my life was a futile and childish thing to do. I would sit down in a closet filled with extra chairs, art supplies, two mops, and a broom and do exactly what Viola suggested: say every single thing there was to say about this. "You want to talk, so we should talk."

She still seemed uncertain. Even in the tense atmosphere, I suppressed a little smile. She was worried about me, and it was cute.

"You were right, I was hiding from you. I did run away from you at lunch today, and clearly that didn't solve anything because here we are in a broom closet. So, I think it's a good idea for us to, um, discuss this." To emphasize my point, I pulled my folding chair a little closer to Viola's and sat down. I smiled as widely as I could and hoped she couldn't tell that I was shaking all over.

Taking a deep breath, she lowered herself into her chair and smiled back at me. She hid it well with all the bravado when she first locked us in the closet, but I could tell she was nervous about this, too.

She cleared her throat. "Okay. Where do we start?"

I thought for a moment. "Well, there's something I've been wanting to ask you…"

Viola was starting to get visibly anxious now, but she nodded anyway. "Shoot."

I paused, choosing the right words. "Do you remember when we were at the Junior League luncheon, and we had a conversation in the bathroom?"

"You mean before Psycho Bitch came in and tried to kill you?"

"Yeah." I smiled, remembering that fight. It certainly wasn't amusing at the time, but thinking about Viola leaping onto Monique's back and clobbering her on the head, it was pretty damn funny. "Anyway, before Monique rudely interrupted, I told you…how I felt about Sebastian, or, about you, I guess."

Viola swallowed hard and looked away.

"And since then I've always wondered how that made you feel, standing there while I talked about…you."

She shifted in her seat before answering. "I would totally be lying if I said that I knew all along and it wasn't a complete surprise to me. Because yeah—it was quite a shock. I guess I felt scared that you would recognize me, and it sort of made me…afraid of you."

"Of me? Why?" I asked, raising my eyebrows in surprise.

"Well…" She trailed off, more uncomfortable by the second. "When you started talking about—about kissing Sebastian, me, it really freaked me out. One second, I was only worrying about soccer and being found out and Duke, and then you hit me over the head with 'I have a huge thing for his roommate Sebastian', and realized I had this whole other issue to deal with that I didn't even know was there. Yeah, I was mad at you when I thought you liked Duke, but not after you told me the truth. After that, I was afraid…because you were my friend, and I didn't want anything to ruin that."

Instantly, my mind rewound to the Saturday night when I told her the truth, lost my mind, and kissed her. I felt sick, hearing her say she didn't want anything to ruin our friendship and knowing that what I had said and done probably accomplished that already.

"I'm so sorry," I whispered, my eyes filling with tears.

"For what? Telling me that you liked Sebastian? You didn't know who I was, so you don't—"

"No, not for that."

"Then…what?" Viola phrased it like a question, but her voice betrayed her. She knew what I was really apologizing for.

"I'm sorry for dumping everything on you the night of the concert. I just couldn't hold it in anymore. I felt like every second I kept it to myself and pretended like nothing was happening, I was lying—to you, to me, to your brother, to everyone. Breaking up with Sebastian was the catalyst that started the crazy chain reaction, but I feel terrible for having put you in this position because I have…issues."

Viola looked as though she wanted to say something, but she didn't.

"Also, I want to tell you how sorry I am—" I had to stop and regain control of my faltering voice. Guilt, shame, and a hint of the despair I'd been fighting off for the past week roiled violently inside me, and I found that I could not look at Viola. "It's just that…I finally, finally told you everything I had been hiding from you for so long, and you didn't want to believe me. It seemed like you thought I was, like, imagining my feelings for you, like I was crazy, and I wanted to—I don't know—prove to you that I really meant it. So I…I, um…"

"You kissed me," she softly finished my sentence. I refused to look at her face, so I had no clue how she was feeling right then. It scared the hell out of me, being alone with her in a tiny box of a room and openly discussing my significant lapse in judgment.

I nodded, fighting hard to maintain my composure. I was determined to be an adult about this. "Viola, that was—wrong of me, and I'm so sorry."

As I focused on an unopened box of graphite pencils sitting on the shelf next to me, I heard her take two deep breaths. If she didn't forgive me or kill me or react at all in the next thirty seconds, I felt sure I would explode from the tension. There was a very odd moment then, waiting for Viola, where I stepped outside myself, took one look at those graphite pencils and my swollen, puffy, tear-stained face and thought, how is this my life? When did I become this person? Last year, if someone had told me that I would be sitting here in the supply closet, crying over a girl who I originally thought was a guy and fell in love with, I would have told that unfortunate person to screw off. I had my college boyfriend, and we were perfect together. My life was perfect.

This is not my life.


Viola's voice brought me crashing back to reality, and I was forced to accept that this, in fact, was my life. "Yeah?"

"I, uh, I feel like the whole point of us sitting in here is to talk about this, but talking about it won't do any good unless we're both honest—about everything," she said, and I had no idea where she was going with this. "The real reason I've wanted to talk to you so badly the last few days is that I could already feel our friendship slipping away from me, and I don't want that. So far, you've been totally honest with me, and—and I think it's time I held up my end of the bargain."

Displaying a boldness I didn't feel, I carefully turned to look at her. Her bright blue-green eyes were moist, and she fidgeted with her hands.

"I must be a complete asshole for letting you sit there and apologize to me when all of this is my fault. Mine. If I hadn't decided to become a male impersonator for two weeks, none of this would have ever happened, and you wouldn't be crying like you are right now."

I leaned forward and looked her squarely in the eye. "You never meant to hurt anyone, and I know that."

"But I did hurt people, Liv. I hurt you, and I can't imagine how awful it must have been for you, carrying all of it around for so long. I deserved to hear everything you said to me the night of the concert. I needed to know the truth whether I wanted to or not. I was pretty uncomfortable at first, and I'm sorry for trying to make a joke out of it, but I want you to know that I get it, and you don't need to be embarrassed about it, and I'm not assuming that you are, I'm just saying…you don't need to be." She brightened then, flashing me one of those smiles. Oh god, Viola, this is so not the time. "And hey, I have to say that I'm terribly flattered. Plus, this will give me ammunition against my brother for the rest of our lives."

We laughed, and it sounded so strange, a happy thing like laughing intruding on this very emotionally loaded conversation. Her smile soon faded, though, and the nerves came creeping back into her body language. There was still something else, and I dreaded knowing what it was.

"Listen, I just wanted to say…" The rest of the sentence disappeared as she silently warred with herself over whatever she needed to tell me. It took her a full minute or so to continue on, and I struggled to breathe normally. "I really love Duke, I do. And I've never—well, maybe not never, but, like 98 percent of the time—I'm not usually attracted to…um…girls. But, uh, in the interest of complete honesty, because we're trying to save our relationship here, I think that you…that I…"

Oh my god. What is she doing?

"Well, you've obviously admitted a lot of sensitive, personal things to me recently, so it's only fair that I tell you—" She squeezed her eyes shut, scrunching her face up in a nervous way that was so adorable that I actually had to bite my lip to keep from smiling like a moron. She quickly opened her eyes again and inhaled slowly. "Olivia, about when you kissed me…"

I blushed so badly that I could feel the heat radiating from my face.

"You really scared the shit out of me at first. I mean, it was the last thing I ever expected you to do, but besides the shock…" Again, she seemed to be bracing herself, and her eyes dropped to the floor between us. "It was kind of…nice. Very nice, actually."

There was a very pregnant pause before I found my voice. "Oh," was all I could think of to say, and I hoped the intense blush went away before Viola saw it.

She cleared her throat, and the folding chair creaked as she shifted position. "Okay, so now that I've told you that…do you still want to be friends?"

"That's a pretty dumb question, Vi."

She smiled. "I was worried that you didn't want to, what with all the hiding and running from me and stuff."

"I'm sorry about that. I've just been having a really hard time with this. I didn't think you would want anything to do with me, knowing how I—how I feel."

Viola raised her eyes to mine and gave me a long look that sent a shiver up and down my spine. "Olivia Lennox, I will always want to be your friend."

"This isn't going to be easy for me, Viola," I said quietly, and it suddenly occurred to me that I was now in the same position with Viola that Sebastian was with me. "I can't go back to pretending I don't love you. Because…I do love you. But I don't want to lose you as a friend."

"I can deal with that," she said, equally as quiet.

"We, uh, don't have to tell Duke about this, do we?" I asked, feeling ridiculous for not having thought of this before.

"Nope, as long as you don't tell him what I said about kissing you," she replied, and I swore I saw a blush creep into her cheeks.

"Friends?" I said.


She stood up, folded the chair, and set it against the wall. Turning back to me, she held out her hand, obviously meaning for me to take it. I carefully put my hand in hers and let her gently pull me up. I expected her to let go right away, but she held on. She unlocked the door and pulled it open, revealing the deserted hallway.

"Come on, let's get out of here," she said, lightly squeezing my fingers.

I nodded, smiling, and we walked out into the hallway together. As we exited the school, I didn't quite know what to make of the fact that she was still holding my hand.

I didn't flunk all my finals. In fact, I aced English Literature, Shakespeare and all. Maria did quite well in her classes, too. Sebastian and I managed to become good friends with a minimum of awkward moments. He even started dating Yvonne, and everyone agreed that they made a good couple. Paul was as supportive as always, lending me his shoulder whenever I needed one (not to mention bringing me chocolate). I started going to soccer games again, and Viola noticed.

Getting out of bed was easier, but I still had to find time to cry every so often. I didn't avoid Viola in the halls, and hanging out with her became less and less difficult. Nothing had changed about the way I felt, but the fact that she knew my secret and didn't want me to hide it helped enormously. I was getting my friend back, and I was happier than I had been in a long time.

Even so, there were many times when I just couldn't be around her, especially when she was with Duke. One of the most unfortunate side effects of the whole ordeal was the strain it put on my relationship with Duke. Things weren't quite the same with us, and he couldn't know why. He and Viola continued going strong, though, despite any weirdness that existed between the three of us. I did my best not to feel jealous when I knew he was with Viola, and it worked…most of the time.

Sometimes, when I wanted to tempt fate, I would remember the way her lips felt on mine, or hear "very nice, actually" echoing in my memory. And there were other times when I would feel Viola watching me when she thought I wasn't looking, or she would grin at me the way that made me feel like fainting, or a hug would last just a fraction of a second longer than it should have.

Now, walking together to the cafeteria, I felt her fingertips brush the back of my hand in what felt like a slightly deliberate way, and I couldn't help but wonder if maybe... But then she saw Duke and ran into his arms, and I smiled, though I was trying to ignore the lingering feeling of her touch on my hand.

I sighed and followed them into the cafeteria, still smiling.

As always.