Chapter Two: Once Again
(As Predicted Left My Broken Heart Open and You Ripped It Out)

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I wasn't even awake yet when the phone started ringing. Actually, it was the ringing that woke me up, and almost anyone can tell you that I hate it when that happens. Whoever it was had better hope I liked them. A lot.

"What?" I growled into the phone maliciously, although at 8 AM on a Saturday, I think I came off sounding more drunk than threatening.

"Whoa, did I wake you up?" The voice of Wally West, my best guy friend, flooded my head. I'd never admit it to his face, bus his calls were often a welcome intrusion into my life. "Damn you sleep late."

"Oh. It's you." Needless to say, my ability to be enthused was somewhat disabled after the previous night. "What do you want?"

"Wow, you're happy this morning." Despite his sarcastic observation, his voice remained cheerful. "You wanna tell me what was going on at the dance?"

I sat up in bed, suddenly feeling much more awake. "You wanna get castrated?"

He barked a laugh, "Always Raven."

"I just threatened to relieve you of your masculinity and you're laughing about it. At eight AM. Like, in the morning. On a Saturday." I'm sure my expression was an incredulous one, and I was struck with the sudden urge to throw the phone against the wall. Unfortunately this would probably cause me more pain than him. The loss of a functioning telephone was not something I took lightly.

"I think I've just gotten used to the idea of getting castrated at any given moment." With a girlfriend like his, I could kind of understand. I mean, he was seriously into Jennifer Hex, and she was seriously into him, which was great and everything, but that girl got more anger management comments than I did nearly every day, which was really saying something. Rumor had it that she was part of a gang last year, and Wally kind of…saved her, I guess. Perhaps the saying is true; you can take the tiger out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the tiger.

And Jennifer had one hell of a jungle in her blood.

"Whatever floats your boat," I mumbled wearily, feeling another wave of exhaustion hit me. I didn't even know if that made sense in the conversation, but I was much too tired to care. Wally seemed to accept it though.

"What if I want my boat to sink? What if I put a bunch of rapists and murderers on that boat for the sole purpose of sinking it-"

"Fine, or sinks it," I conceded irritably. "Now why are you calling again?"

"Last night. Homecoming. Dick went with…Kori. What was that all about?" Wally seemed genuinely concerned, so I sighed and told my tale.

"And I totally get why he asked her, too," I felt the need to include when I had finished. "I mean, between her and me, any guy with half a brain would choose the pretty, happy, smart, hardworking girl over the decent looking, lazy, irate frigid bitch."

"You're not a frigid bitch," Wally responded after some thought, "but you like to come off as one sometimes."

"Maybe."

"And honestly? I'd go for you over her any day."

That woke me up again. "What?"

"I mean, I'm a little partial to short girls, but even if you were Kori's height I'd probably still go for you."

"Oh really?" I leaned back in my bed, a skeptical eyebrow raised even if he couldn't see it. "And why is that?"

"You have a life," Wally said simply. "You don's spend all your time doing homework like Kori does. You don't take crap from people, you're funny, and you're a badass video gamer when we can actually persuade you to play."

"I never thought about that," I sighed. "But that hardly measures me up to her. Do you know what I do with all that time I'm not doing homework? I watch Gilmore Girls reruns and write fanfiction. Yeah."

A pause. "I take back everything I just said about you."

"Wally…"

"Totally kidding," I could almost feel his grin over the phone. "So you're a little weird. It makes you special."

"That can be taken in many ways."

"I meant it as a compliment."

"You could've been meaning to suggest therapy."

"You're too cynical, y'know that?"

I couldn't help but smile. "That's what makes me special."

He laughed, "You should've asked me to dance with you. Make Dick a little jealous, hanging with such a hot guy."

"You flatter yourself," I sneered, but I couldn't help but feel touched. "Thanks for the offer, but I think Jennifer would've tried to eat me."

"Nah, she'd have been cool with it. I guess it's a little late now, though," Wally sighed. "Well, I've got to go. I'm sorry about what happened with Homecoming and all that. I would've asked about it last night, but Jennifer and I were a little…involved."

"Yeah, I noticed," I shot back. They'd been slow dancing during the fast songs and making out during the slow songs. Kind of hard to miss. I didn't think there was anyone else in the world who could chill Jennifer out enough to slow dance. Wally and Jennifer. For some reason they made me smile. "Which is why I didn't ask you to dance."

"So you would've if we weren't involved?" I rolled my eyes at his response. Wally was devoted to Jennifer, but he could be an incredible flirt at times.

"Again, don't flatter yourself."

"You're getting a little repetitive there."

"It's early. Shut up."

"Yeah, fine. I just called to check in with you…figure out what went down last night and see if you were okay."

I closed my eyes and soaked in the warm feeling of friendship, something that had seemingly abandoned me nearly twelve hours ago. "Thanks. It was sweet of you."

"Aw, you think I'm sweet."

"Don't push it, Wally."

He laughed, "Anyways, I've really gotta go. It's a weekend with minimal homework and I have a little under forty eight hours of Final Fantasy XI to play before Monday."

"Loser."

"You know you think it's sexy."

We said our goodbyes and hung up. Feeling considerably better than half an hour prior, I pulled myself out of the warmth of my bed and made my way down the hall. My mother would still be asleep, and my father…who knew where he would be.

There were muffins in a basket on the kitchen counter, some peace offering from the neighbors so we wouldn't get too pissed when their dog ate our flowers as it seemed to do every two weeks or so. My mother had arranged a cheese platter for some garden party my father insisted we have to make sure everyone in the immediate area was acutely aware of the fact that we were a family of wealthy socialites. The plate was balanced on top of a cartoon of milky white eggs inside the refrigerator. Inspired, I took the carton out from under the cheese and unearthed a medium sized pan from one of the many various kitchen items we possessed.

The phone rang again as soon as I cracked the first egg on the edge of the heated surface. I reached for it with my left hand and another egg with my right.

"Hello?" The first egg was sizzling merrily, and I held the phone between my ear and my shoulder so I could crack the second.

"Hey Raven!" The ever cheery voice of Kori Anders jolted me from the sense of calm I'd attained since talking to Wally.

"Oh…hey Kori," suddenly I was feeling uncomfortable again. To keep myself focused I jabbed at my eggs with a spatula.

"Wild night last night, huh?"

"Yeah. I guess." Shot sentences of monosyllabic words seemed to be the only way I could communicate with her at the moment. Anything more and I might've burst into tears, or worse, accidentally let something slip. Like, You betrayed our friendship when I trusted you to say no to him but you didn't! Why? What could've possessed you to do that?

No, better to stick to simpler phrases like 'yeah,' 'um,' and 'no.'

"Oh, you must be tired. I know how you like to sleep. I didn't wake you up, did I?"

"No," I responded, feeling like that single answer was the first honest thing I'd said to her in a week. My eyes were darting around the kitchen restlessly. Why did I suddenly feel so trapped? "I was just making eggs."

"Sounds good," Kori paused for a moment. "If you want, I could bring some cookies over later today. I baked the kind you like."

"You baked cookies at eight in the morning?" In my mind, I wondered whether the cookies she had offered were supposed to bribe me into feeling comfortable around her again or just Kori being her usual sweetheart self. It's not like she'd never baked cookies and shared them with me before.

"No, silly, I baked them Thursday night, but I made way too many." Thursday. One day after Dick had asked her, one day before Homecoming. With that kind of timing, I really couldn't determine the ultimate purpose of the cookies. If there even was one.

Maybe I should just stop watching all those conspiracy movies.

"Right…well I was going to actually get the minimal homework we have done today, so maybe you can bring them over tomorrow, or just give them to me at school on Monday." I was evading the inevitable, seeing Kori face to face again, and I think she could tell.

"…Sure, I gue-"

"Shit!" I'd been lifting the pan off the stove, but I'd been so preoccupied with…everything that I'd lost control and my eggs had slipped off the pan and into the fire. Somewhere behind me, the phone hit the stone floor with a clatter. I hurriedly shut off the stove and retrieved the phone, pleased to see that it was still intact until I remembered who was on the line. "Hello?"

"Raven? Are you okay?" Kori sounded worried out of her mind. She got that way about people she cared for. "I heard this huge crash, and-"

"I'm fine. My eggs are charcoal though." As I spoke, I picked up the spatula and began trying to remove crispy egg bits from the stovetop. In my ear, Kori said she was sorry and I told her it wasn't her fault, although in some horribly convoluted way, it might have been.

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I really do have a Wally in my life. And I'm grateful for everything he's done, then and now. And I really do love my Kori. Promise.

Love,

SushiChica