Hey everyone. Here's the last chapter. Hopefully you'll have a lot of time on your hands to read this. You might even have to read this in different intervals. Have fun.
I just wanna thank everyone whose ever read this story. It's been a pleasure. It's been great. And I've made a few friends along the way. So this, this story is to you.
I don't need a disclaimer, do I? Didn't think so. (And if you're so stubborn as to think I do, go back to chapter 1.) Yeah, I own anything you're not familiar with from the movie.
This story is about Crystal, who is the sister of Speed, one of the biggest bullies at Sky High. She is 16 as her brother is two years older than her. Being completely stressed with school and her super ability, she finds comfort in someone very close to the family.
Lash frowned, nuzzling the top of her head with his chin as he fell back on the couch, stroking her hair softly. "Didn't you put on your resume that you saved a life?" He smirked. "That always works."
She lifted her head to look at him with furrowed eyebrows. "Whose life did I save? Do you know something I don't? How is that possible – that you would know I saved someone's life, when I don't even know?"
"Lash, honey, you died. I didn't save shit." He merely rolled his eyes and kissed her gently, breaking to rest his head upon the soft microfiber pillow behind him.
"Whatever you say, Crys."
It was silent for minutes on end, and each assumed the other had fallen asleep.
"Hey, Lash?" Crystal whispered, her fingers lightly tapping on his chest.
"Mm?" He muttered, clearly awake.
"Oh, nothing." She murmured, her voice dripping with disappointment. Slowly, though, her fingers slid up and down his chest, causing him to smile. She was writing something.
"Crystal?" He muttered, feeling her eyes on him even when his eyes were closed. This was her response. With a grab of her wrist, he used his fingers to entwine with hers, and slid their hands up to his shoulders, raising her body up against his, his deep brown eyes finally open. "I love you too."
She blushed. "I didn't know you were paying attention."
"I always do."
"Forgive me Father for I have sinned…"
Crystal raised her eyebrows beneath him.
"Honey, you've sinned many times over."
He silenced her with a bruising kiss.
"And I haven't regretted one at all."
She merely smirked, rolling her eyes.
It's been close to two years, and its now just about the middle of Crystal's senior year of Sky High. As you can see, Lash and Crystal are still together and still going pretty strong.
Throughout the years, Spencer Mack had found his own place, on the East Side of town, right around the corner of the office building he delivers mail to – on foot – and down the road from his part-time job at Papa John's, where both company's are helping his college funds grow exceedingly well.
Lash Livingston, who to this day fawns over the sight of Crystal walking down the stairs, had taken to having a job at Six Flags, giving everyone he knew all-season passes to get in real cheap. On the side, he has become pretty known for being a skilled lock-picker, and is handed a large check at the end of the week, which he puts half of it aside for his own college fund, as well as numerous other things.
Crystal Mack, editor-in-chief of the Sky High newspaper, is also very skilled in the game of STC –and sometimes she pairs with Will, though if Warren was still around, they would still the headmen in that department. She's come a long way from just being that girl from sophomore year, with many friends and not a lot of enemies, and has turned into Crystal Mack, that girl who does all she needs to do and more.
And since Lash and Spencer are high school grads, since they're long gone from the teacher's log books, Crystal has been more focused on her studies. Her Math grades have been improving immensely, and she's taken the habit to helping kids with their homework after school in the cafeteria. Principal Powers took notice of this one weeknight, and gave her a smile, a pat on the back. Little did Crystal know that she was just put on the list for a potential valedictorian.
"Hey, Will." I whispered, leaning slightly to the left with the corner of my mouth tilted so that he could hear me clearly.
"What?" He muttered back, his eyes still connected to the back of the teacher's head. The bright green eyes were snapping back and forth across the room, and it was starting to freak everyone out. C'mon, it was just 2nd period and no one's woken up completely yet.
"What's Layla doing tomorrow?" I murmured, running a hand through my hair to get a tangle undone. In my peripheral vision I saw him shrug to himself, and I sighed – loudly. Without knowing. Shit.
"Ms. Mack, is there a problem?" The teacher squawked, turning his head around completely so we could see the dark green orbs flash across the room to the other students.
"Oh, no, sir. Continue, please?" He glared darkly at me for a moment, as if trying to see what I was hiding, but then turned back around; keeping the eyes in the back of his head more focused on me than anyone else.
Thanks a lot.
"Why?" Will grunted, his eyes on his paper before he began to scribble little men with capes.
"I wanted to see if she could do a piece on the upcoming prom for the school paper. She did excellent on the issues of global warming -"
I turned my face towards the teacher now, a glare in my eye to compete with his own.
"You have something to say, now?" I smiled cheekily, and nodded slowly. "Then please, share."
"Well I was just talking to my friend William here about the school newspaper – 'tis going to be a high demand soon, for prom is going to be coming up… And I was just wondering if he knew if his girlfriend was going to do anything anytime soon, because her piece on global warming was quite charming." I lifted my head lightly, so that my nose was a bit higher than Will's eyes. "I just thought it would be nice to see if she could write another piece for the newspaper, is all."
He nodded, and then slammed the piece of chalk on the ledge. "Detention, Mack – this class is more important than scandalous news and horoscopes." My mouth dropped suddenly, my face bright red with both embarrassment and fury, causing most of the class to laugh at me before I smacked my things together, making loud noises as I stood tall.
"I'd rather you think about what you just said." I growled, my eyebrows furrowed at the man's large green eyes. "Because there hasn't been any scandalous news in my paper, since maybe '03." I walked up the aisle, and ignored the shocked stares of my peers. I crossed the room slowly, but reached the door just in time. "And I don't plan on having it be that way once again, my good snob." The door opened with a turn of my fist, and I walked through, slamming it loudly so that the rest of the hall had their doors shake suddenly. I was left to grumble in the silence as I walked the corridors.
"Crystal Mack, why are you walking the halls when you should be in class?" I heard, and jumped at the voice. Principal Powers usually was running around the school now, just randomly walking into classes and checking up on everyone…but it wasn't her. "You're going to turn into me pretty soon if you keep this up."
"Lash," I whispered, my eyes closing before I turned swiftly on my heel. My eyes were still shut. "What are you doing at Sky High? Don't you have work right now?" His arms wrapped around my waist before I heard the soft shuffling of his feet against the tile, and smiled as I sensed his face in front of mine. "Why are you here?"
"I got called up by Diane."
"Powers." He whispered, planting a soft kiss on my lips before my eyes opened.
"No clue." Kiss. "But it's a good fault for me being here," kiss. " – At this exact moment," kiss. "– Because I caught you." Kiss.
I kept him still for a moment; a small smile upon my face as Lash held me tightly. "Oh." I laughed once, and tugged slightly at his hair. "That's nice." He dug his face into my neck, breathing deeply before muttering something I couldn't understand. "What?"
"I said," he pulled away, his eyes half-open, "that this is bringing back memories."
I smiled mischievously before feeling him bend me back a bit. "Really now? And what memories are coming back to haunt you?" Lash picked me up with a swift lift of my waist, and walked towards a darkened pillar, pushing me behind it.
"Ones like this." He whispered huskily, placing a hand upon my cheek and kissing me fully on the mouth. My hands wrapped around his neck and pulled him closer to me, feeling his right hand climb up my shirt and rest his hand above my bra. But then his fingers began to glide down the skin, poking in my ribs, as if he were counting them. It sent a shiver down my spine, causing him to chuckle and pull away. I stared at his deep brown eyes, and sighed, my own closing as the back of my head was cradled with his fingers.
"I miss you here."
"And I miss you there." He rhymed, wrapping one arm around my neck and pulling me into him. "So what are you doing out of class, you over-achiever?"
"I got sent to detention." I growled, my eyes on the floor.
"So much for not turning into a copy of me." Lash muttered, taking my hand and letting me swing them unceremoniously. "I'll walk you."
"You can join me, too." I giggled, rolling my eyes as I felt his teeth cover my earlobe. He nibbled lightly, but he knew it affected me because he had to catch me by the waist before my legs turned completely to jelly. "You, you really can, though."
"Nah, maybe next time." He said, turning our bodies into another corridor and tapping on a few lockers in passing.
"There's gunna be a next time you'll be up here?" Lash merely laughed, hitting the side of the wall beside him. I whimpered in response, realizing that we had reached the detention room.
"I think I'll come next week – I gotta ask her somethin' about graduation soon." I nodded, and he breathed in my skin before kissing the side of my mouth. "Your graduation."
"Why, what are you planning?" I whispered gravely, now fearing my graduation to be practically fooled out by Lash and my brother. I shivered at the thought, and he grasped my arms, slowly settling me to walk back step by step into the blinding white room. "What are you planning, Lash, for graduation that doesn't happen," I paused, my eyes looking away in thought, "for another like what, 2 months?"
"Don't let it consume you, Crystal." He said, kissing just below my ear before giving me a quick peck on the nose. "I'll see you at the bus stop later – unless Diane keeps me for so long that I have to take the busses back." He smirked at the thought, and I almost jumped in surprise. Principal Powers would make Lash take the bus back down to Earth? Didn't she have cars or a jetpack she'd have him use?
But I thought it over. How would he give either or back to her if he was settled back on Earth? That's probably why he'd have to take the bus.
"See you, love." He called, laughing lightly as the door closed. I sulked into a seat, and saw his face smirking at me from the window. I put my fingers together to make a heart against my chest, and he took a step back so that I could see most of his upper body, the beatings of his heart that his hand was creating. I bit my lip as I watched him walk out of view, and sighed.
It was going to be a bit till next period. The end of the day.
Lash crossed his ankle over his opposing knee and folded his hands into his lap, his body tilted to the side on the comfy chair across from his ex-Principal. "So what have you called me here for?"
"There is a junior here, that tells the future." Lash merely blinked. Okay, so then why was he here? Diane smiled as she lowered her head, a hand coming to the back of her neck to massage it. "And he's told me of what you plan on doing."
Lash paled this time, and his breath stopped, causing him to lean forward slightly and fidget in his seat. "Oh, uhm, about tha -"
"I think it's completely adorable." She interrupted, a hand in the air to pause his words. "It's obviously a bit better than what happened at your own graduation," Lash chuckled, remembering. "Yes, yes I know. But Livingston, are you sure?"
"I've never been more." He whispered, moving a strand of hair away from his view to stare at the woman before him.
"Have you found -"
"When are yo -"
"I'm not sure."
"Would you please stop interrup -"
"Sorry." He winced, shaking his head. "Sorry, nervous, is all."
"Lash," she said slowly, leaning her face down to look at him before shoving a pile of papers aside. Uh oh. This meant business. "Must I send a catalo -"
"Please." He breathed, his eyes closing with a short nod. "I'm not sure what to g -"
"We'll figure this ou -"
"No, please, Principal Powers, I can do this on my own. I may need some help from friends, but I can do this by my -"
"Lash, keep your confidence. You'll need it." It seemed that she's dropped the subject. She leaned back in her black chair, tossing a strand of her brown hair away from her eyes. "Now that we've got that covered, I'd like to discuss with you what I've called you here for."
"So wait, that whole thing just now, wasn't it?"
"Oh, of course not! You think I'd call you up here to just gush with you about your idea? I'm sorry, Mr. Livingston, but even though I may look the type to just fawn over adorable things, I certainly do not." She smirked. "I merely just found out about that last lunch period."
Lash nodded. "Okay, then what is so important?"
"It kinda fits in with my meeting now, actually…" She trailed off, looking towards a list of names over her left elbow.
"Will you please tell me? I'm beginning to remember why I hated -" He stopped, pursing his lips as his eyes widened, avoiding Diane's face. That wasn't supposed to be heard.
She gave him a paused look, her eyebrow raised up into her forehead for a moment. "I'll skip the scolding." Lash nodded. "Alright then, well, I called you in today, to ask if you would like to sit with Crystal's family upon the stage during graduation."
"What?" He asked, completely lost.
"I've chosen her to become the valedictorian of 2008." Lash's mouth slowly dropped, and dropped. And dropped. "Livingston, I'll have to ask you to please close your mouth." Diane merely stiffened a laugh at the man before her, and Lash sat up straight in his chair, adjusting his jaw seldomly before wiggling his nose.
And then he laughed. He laughed so hard his eyes were tearing at the corners, his hands balled into fists at his knees. "You're…you're serious?" He laughed, cupping his face into his fingers before breathing in deeply.
Lash looked at her through the tears before coughing, trying to compose himself. "Well it's just that Crystal always thought it'd be terrifying to speak openly." He watched her blink once. "To an audience."
"I guess you'll just have to help her out, shall we?" She smiled, her hand stroking down the piece of paper under her elbows.
"Principal Powers, why would you ask me, anyway?"
"Because you play a big part in her life, Lash." She whispered. "And I know for a fact that she's played a large one as well to you in yours." She smiled widely. "So would you?"
"The news will be big to her -"
"I'll have to ask you not to tell her a word until the letter comes to the Mack's household Monday afternoon, please." Lash bit his lip shortly, but then nodded once. "Will you?"
Lash paused, and Principal Powers tilted her head to the side with a short smile. So this could help him do what he plans on doing graduation day. He nodded quickly, and heard the bell ring from last period. It was time to go home for the students, and the Principal had stood tall, her hand outstretched towards him.
"I'm thankful you're doing this. You'll be a big help to her – I know she'll do wonderfully." She sighed, and then crossed the desk to stand in front of him. Even in her heels, she was still shorter than Lash. "Thank you, Lash." She said business-like, giving him an unexpected hug before taking a step back.
"I'm free to go?" He asked, pointing out the door and to the passing kids' heads by the window. Diane nodded with a smile, and he sprinted from the room, dashing outdoors to avoid any attention to himself.
"Wait, Lash!" He heard, whipping his face around before his legs took him to the grass at the edge of the stairs to the school. Diane was racing down the steps now, her face looking at the ground before she reached him.
In her hands held a rolled up magazine, and she shoved it towards him, unraveling it in the process. "It's a catalog – maybe you should leave this around her house and see if she finds it." Lash took it slowly from his chest, and rolled it back up after glancing at a few pages. He tucked the catalog into his deep pockets, and gave his ex-Principal a sincere smile before waving her away, stretching his legs to get to Crystal's bus.
He entered through the doors, and smiled at the emptiness of the seats, going to the left side behind the speaker for the radio. He'd have to move once Crystal got on the bus, but he stretched himself across the aisle and sighed loudly, hearing Ron climb upon the bus and sit down in his driver's seat.
"Livingston – what are you doing here?" He called with authority, his eyebrows furrowing as his right hand came up to collect his hat from his head. It was clear that Ron thought Lash might steal his hat like so many times before.
"You graduated two years ago, didn't you?" He lifted his head once to bring it down as he stared out the opposite window to see kids coming towards bus 4. "So then why -"
"Went to see Diane. I'll be back here next week, too. Could you drive me up?" He muttered, his eyes flashing over at the chubby man. His chin flopped slightly as the man nodded quickly, ducking his head back down to walk over to the driver's seat. With a skilled toss, Ron gave Lash his official business card, and Lash rolled his eyes as he tucked it into another pocket. "I'll be calling on Wednesday, so be ready, Wilson."
The man merely nodded profusely, and the kids began to board the bus, giving Lash weary looks as he retracted his legs, as they passed his seat. His eyes closed as he felt the catalog hit his leg a bit when he moved around, but then smirked once he saw Crystal turn into the bus. "Hey!" She called, almost running over to her seat to sit down. Lash felt the seat bounce slightly as she pounced upon it, and he grabbed her up and placed her into his lap. "Hey, hey," she breathed, clearly showing that she ran to the bus from the detention room. "I forgot to ask you about something."
He gave her a tilt of his head, and smirked. "Catch your breath first, Crys." She laughed, and ran a hand through her hair before shaking her head.
"No." Her eyes closed for a moment, and then opened to plant a kiss on his lips. "Okay. I wanted to ask you if you were coming to prom with me."
"Only if you want me too." His lips were at her temple in seconds, and he kept them there for a rest, feeling her pulse thrive throughout her skin. "Cause you can go with Mel – Peace doesn't go to school here anymore. Hell you can go with anyone." He thought it over. "Wait, no guys."
She laughed loudly, causing many students to turn and stare at her. "That's really funny, Lash." She shook her head. "Warren's going to go with her this year." She smiled. "Will you?"
"'Course." He sent a small chuckle into the air, and caused her to shiver, leaning into his body. His arms wrapped around her, but she fidgeted out, and turned her body entirely into his, and he looked at her through half-open eyes. "The straps are going down in a minute."
"I know." She kissed him hard, and he rested a hand between her shoulderblades as her hands were caught in his hair. Using his right hand he pressed her just a bit closer to him, and she gave a small giggle, nipping at his bottom lip. With skill, she pulled on the brown strands so strongly that he had to tilt his head back in ecstasy, forcing her a whole lot closer to him with just a shove of her lower back. She sent a small squeal into the air when she hit his chest, and then gasped as they both felt the straps slide down her back and hook at Lash's sides.
He laughed as his lips touched her throat. "Guess you're stuck here."
"Is that even allowed to happen?" She muttered, her eyes closing as she kissed his forehead.
"Iono, lemme check." He chuckled, moving his head to the side. "Hey, Ro -"
"No, don't!" She snickered at him, moving his head to face hers again. "I uh…kinda like this anyway." Lash merely shook his head with a smile, and wrapped his arms around her back as she rested her lips on his collarbone. She breathed out onto his skin. "And hey, look, I even get to ride my boyfriend while riding the bus."
He raised an eyebrow at her before maneuvering his mouth upon her earlobe. "You have such a way with words, Crystal Mack."
"Get the mail, will you Crystal?"
"Geesh, I just get inside the house and you tell me to do something." I rolled my eyes from the livingroom, wondering where Lash went. Turning around I saw him reaching into the slot beside the door and take out bills and dentist appointment postcards.
"You got a jewelry catalog." He snickered, tossing it towards me as he walked by me, walking into the kitchen where my mother's voice was manifesting. "Hey, Mum?" He called, causing a smile to creep upon my face. "Where'd you want these?" He asked softly, and I looked down at the catalog in my hands, wearily walking to the couch.
There wasn't an addressee on the back cover of the book, but I opened it like it was my own anyway. Hey, no worries, right? It was just some stupid catalog.
My eyes fell upon a gold collection of clatter rings. One ring was really pricey, but I couldn't help but ooh at the opal heart, the delicate features of the stones on the crown above it. At the corner of my eye I saw Lash's head peer into the room. "What is it?"
"This, this clatter ring." His ass was seated next to me in only seconds, his head tilted over my shoulder with interest. What the hell? "It's really pretty." I looked at the price again and laughed. "Like anyone could afford this anyway." I shut the catalog and tossed it aside, but Lash was giving me an odd look? "What is it?"
That odd look, turned into a mischievous one, and he was on top of me with the next blink of my eyes. "Nothing." He pecked my lips. "I just love you." His nose rubbed my own and I couldn't help but giggle. But he gave me a hesitated expression before he lowered his voice so that only I could hear. "How do you know that no one could afford it?"
"The ring?" He nodded. "Uh, it was a lot of money?" I questioned, hoping that that was enough. He laughed heartily, and it brought a goofy smile to my face. I loved his laugh. Riding my arms with his fingers it caused my to shiver, but I kissed him because of it. "Seriously. If you, of all people, went out and bought that, I'd probably hit you and make you send it back. It's ridiculously, a large amount of mo -" My words were interrupted with his lips on mine, and he just shook his head within the kiss. But when he pulled away I didn't stop. "Money, and if you gave it to me, I'd probably los -" Another kiss. God, this was getting to be fun for him, wasn't it? Just, interrupting my sentences with kisses – damn. I don't wanna cry right now. That's what he's always done when he was still at school. It's…sorta empty now up there in the big ol' sky.
He gave a breathless moan, and I had to finish. I had to finish what I was gunna say before I forgot it all in that stupid…little…
"Lash…" I whispered, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling him a little closer – if that were ever possible.
And he fuckin' let me go. "You were saying?"
"Fuck you, Lash! I forgot now." He merely laughed at my whine, and shook his head as he rested it on my collarbone. And I knew his eyes were closed.
"Alright, let's go…" Lash muttered, impatiently tapping the cement with his foot as he waited for Ron to pick him up. It was Wednesday, and Lash was going to meet up with the Principal. And maybe just sneak in on –
The bright yellow bus pulled up to the sidewalk, opening the doors to see that Ron was in the driver's seat, a professional expression on his face as he lowered his hat to Lash in recognition. "Quick, we don't want any villains to know we're here." Lash could only smirk at this, since he knew for a fact that the neighborhood villain Leper had been in jail for the last 4 years. He merely sat down where he had before, and they sped off fast towards the highway.
"Livingston, what are you doing back here?" Diane said, leaning back up into her seat with interest, her hands folded upon the desk.
"I, uh…" He started, looking down at his shoes.
"You…" She pressed on, her eyes expectant.
"Could I stay for 2nd lunch?"
Diane gave him a smile, as if always welcome. "Sure, Lash." But she looked about the room. "Is there anything else?"
Lash looked up at her and tilted his head as if he were a lost puppy. "I have a stash, here at school."
"A what?" She bellowed, her eyes now murderous and scary.
"Not," he laughed, "not a stash stash, but a stash of money I kept."
"Here? In the school?" Lash nodded. "Well, where is it, and why do you need it?"
"Well I hid it in the library back in my sophomore year." He paused, and then raised an eyebrow. "And since it's mine, I hope to not have to answer that last question."
Diane beamed a smile so large Lash feared he'd be knocked down with blindness. "How much did you keep there?"
"I'm not entirely sure, Principal Powers, but I kept adding to it every time I found money lying around the school." He didn't exactly meet her eyes on this one, since he already knew she knew where he really got the money.
"Lash, that's other student's money. That's theft."
He shook his head fiercely. "No, no it's not! I saved up from side-jobs, and sometimes I'd take from the sidekicks, but, but I earned most of it. I probably have more of up to probably 200 dollars worth of sidekick money." Diane's eyes widened before she blinked many times. "That's 3 years worth, Diane. I didn't start till the beginning of sophomore year."
"Take me there."
He shrugged. "Could we take the shortcuts? That's where it all goes from."
And so they ended up at the back of the library, where students could find a bookshelf labeled 'non-fiction science'.
"I should have known you might have kept something around here, Lash. Always sneaking behind our librarian's nose to get back here." Diane muttered, watching Lash take out 5 books to rip apart the wallpaper. Behind that, was a small alcove, where there was a loose brick. He removed that first, and then wearily handed it to his ex-Principal, a small smirk on his face as she held that in one hand.
"And no, this isn't destruction of property." He said as he reached inside, his arm stretching slightly to stick his tongue out and look to the ceiling in concentration. "I accidentally knocked this shelving over back in freshmen year, so I found the rip in the wall automatically." Diane silently rolled her eyes, tilting her head as Lash finally retracted his arm, coming forth with a large roll of dusty money. "See? Here." Quickly handing it to Diane he switched for the brick, sliding it back into its spot and placing the books back in order.
"Lash? Wha…what are you doing here?" The striped graduate turned around to see a flash of red hair, and a girly gasp.
"Williams, if you even think about telling Crys I'm here, you're -"
"Livingston, remember I'm right here." Principal Powers said, her heel tapping.
"I know." He looked to Layla. "If you tell Crystal, I'll never forgive you." He muttered weakly, knowing full well that she knew what he really wanted to say. Layla ran off giggling, and Lash resisted the urge to race after her and tell her not to tell Crystal. Again and again.
But Diane held his arm, and gave him a look. "You'll see her soon. I promise."
However, he was more worried about the roll of money in her hand. "You think that would be enough?" Principal Powers merely laughed as she glanced down at it.
"I'm sure it's good for a while."
"No. Way." I whispered, seeing his tall figure rock back and forth with his hands in his pockets, to the balls of his feet to his heel. "That…can't be him." I turned to both Layla and Mel. "Can it?"
"Do my eyes deceive me?" Mel said, amused. "Is that really Lash Livingston, boyfriend of Crystal Mack, valedictorian of 2008, standing at the door to the cafeteria?"
God, she just loved to rub that in my face whenever she could. Damn best friend.
"Well go on." Layla whispered, only to be startled by the leg stretching across the room to our table. Will and Zack's tray's slammed onto the table as Magenta and Ethan scrambled to get to the bench and catch this scene.
Lash's arm rested upon my shoulder as he planted a kiss on my forehead. "Good afternoon, dahlin'." I murmured, my eyes not able to take themselves away from him. With a dizzy mind, I poked his arm, and he began to rub it in fake pain.
"Crystal was that really necessary?" He asked, biting the side of his lip at me. I shook my head, and pounced upon his chest, slamming my lips on his.
"Why are you here!" I screamed, hearing his laugh fill the cafeteria.
"She let me stay to see you."
"Powers?" He nodded. "Ahhh!" I cried, ignoring the stares of the people in the lunchroom. They didn't matter. They didn't know how much I loved this man below me. Lash held my waist tightly as he picked us both up, and set me on his lap as Mel tossed my wrapped sandwich back at me. "How long?"
"Just second lunch." My eyes dropped, and he took my hand. "I'm here for only second lunch. And then I'm off."
"Crystal, eat your damned food. I'll explain while you eat."
"Are you sure you want to do that, Livingston?" Mel said, smirking our way. "She might spit it in your face if you say something unpredictable." I saw Lash give her a dirty look, and the curly brown-haired girl merely laughed loudly, sucking down on her Sky High soda cup through a straw.
"Mel shush." I grumbled, pounding the spicy chicken into my mouth ever so politely, yet ever so scarily fast. Inhale. Chew. Swallow. Try to speak.
"Crystal!" Lash growled, squeezing my hip. I almost fell out of my place on his lap, but he held me still, his eyes narrowed. "Slow it down. I have all lunchtime."
-15 minutes later-
His lips fell over my ear, and I took in the sense, the feel of how it made me shiver, the feel of how the spine-tingling slide of his teeth made me smile madly. "Will you come with me?" He whispered, entwining our fingers together carelessly on my leg. I nodded, and said our good-byes to the table, setting off and out of the lunchroom.
Once out of the cafeteria, he took me to an empty corridor, pressing me against the wall and stepping between my legs to keep me still. "Oh, no, what is he going to do to m -" I tried to say, a smile on my face as he interrupted my damsel-in-distress voice with an awe-inspiring kiss. It was quiet for a moment, and then I placed my fingers into his hair, crunching my digits and pulling out to hear his moan. There was no better sound in the world than his voice, and this time, it echoed throughout the hall.
"Crystal…" He whispered, letting me go to plant that similar kiss upon my forehead, leaving his lips against my skin as he began to speak. "I gotta go soon."
"No." I growled, gripping his striped shirt tightly to pull him against me. "It's too soon."
He chuckled, and the husky noise had made my knees go numb. "I'll be seeing you after school – don't worry about it." I felt his lower lip come up to rub my skin back and forth, and then our fingers linked together. "Now where's your next class. I'll walk you there."
Lash knocked on the door, his body jumping up in excitement, his face full of worry as he looked around the neighborhood. Thrusting his right hand into his pocket he chuckled once, forgetting that he could come in and out as he pleased. He took the handle in his left hand, and stepped inside, seeing Mary halfway across the room to reach the door. She smiled his way as she backed herself into the couch and sat down in the corner.
"What brings you here, Lash?" She asked calmly, flipping a channel on the TV. He walked over to the couch slowly, folding a leg underneath himself as he sat down beside her.
"Michael home?" He said, trying to contain the shakiness in his voice.
"Yeah, sure." She looked curiously at him, and he peered over at her through his shaggy hair, his head not turning yet to face her.
"Can I…call a family meeting?" He muttered, and Mary sat up, glancing at the clock.
"But it's 12:45 – Crystal's not hom -"
"It's not to involve Crystal just yet." Mary didn't take her eyes off the boy as she called her husband into the livingroom. "Spencer here, too?" He hoped, seeing the nod in her eyes already. Lash gave her a sincere smile. "Kitchen table, shall we?"
"Lash, what is this all about?" Michael said, his hand on the railing to the stairs. Speed was behind him on the steps, and a full smirk on his face. He knew what was going on.
"C'mon, Dad. Just go to the table." He muttered, a hand on his father's shoulder to push him lightly.
"What are you planning, Lash?"
"Now if you touch her tonight, boy, I'll circumcise you myself." Dad said beside Mom, who was happily taking pictures. Lash gulped. "With the yard knife." Did Dad really think we'd go and do the stupid Senior Prom tradition? HAHA. Like we haven't gone and done it before.
"Uh, ha." I muttered nervously in front of my boyfriend, feeling the harsh squeeze of his fingers against mine on my waist. "Dad, that's not…really…necessary."
"Yeah, Mike." Lash breathed, rolling his neck once to let his eyes peer through. Spencer was holding back sniggers behind my parents on the couch, and I couldn't help but realize that he hasn't changed at all. He was always this way. My brother.
"Could she stay, though? The night?" Lash asked out loud, causing me to freeze, my dad to stare with wide eyes.
"Of course, baby." Mom smiled, knowing that she could trust him. I smiled right along with her, but it faded from my face as I spotted the look on my father's face. It was horror-stricken. Scared.
"Mary, could I see you in the kitchen?" He muttered, holding onto her arm tightly, his eyes closing.
She nodded, but I made an excuse to bring me and Lash up to my room. We could eavesdrop while I went to 'get my purse.'
Once upstairs, I shut the door quietly, giving only a minute to waste before opening it again. "What are you listening for?"
"Dad's talking about me and you." I breathed, already nervous as to what's going on. "He might say no."
"To you staying the night with me?" I nodded. "We'd go by their rules if it really bothered him…"
"I know. But he's not really around to know what goes on between the family. Dad…doesn't know that we have -"
"I get it Crys." He whispered, holding me from behind with his hands at my waist.
"Shush, they're talking." His lips touched my neck, and his head tilted slightly so that he could listen in too.
"Michael – he saved your life. You trusted him then, why not now?" Mom asked angrily, her hands on her hips. Dad looked cross, placing his hands on her shoulders.
"Honey, it was two years ago, and -"
"You are in debt to him."
His eyebrows furrowed. Two years ago. And he's a boy."
Her voice raised, making the house shake slightly. "He's a man, Mike. And he's been nothing but a gentleman to our Crystal."
"Oh, Mike, it's not like they haven't done it before." He paled, and her mouth turned down in a frown. "Not IT." She put two fingers together to represent a circle, thrusting her left pointer finger through it. I gulped, and closed my eyes as I felt Lash's fingers hold me still. She was lying. For us.
I had told her about me and Lash's sex life only about a few months ago. Why was she lying to my father about it now?
Dad swayed slightly, his eyes rolling around in his head. He shuddered, gripping the table before whispering, "She's a child, my love. My child – your chil -"
Mom took a breath, her eyes closing before speaking softly. "She is 18 years old, my sweet. She was chosen as the valedictorian of Sky High. She's saved your life, she's saved mine." Dad began to sob into Mom's embrace, and I couldn't help but dip my head into the crook of the door. Lash's head lowered into my neck, and I heard him breath deeply. He was shaking slightly, and I squeezed his fingers gently, bringing his hand up to my lips to kiss it softly. I knew that my dad wouldn't take it well, but I didn't know that he would be so broken down about it. "We need to let her leave the nest, my dear." Her cheek rested against Dad's shoulder, and she gave a great heave. "Our baby girl…she's grown up."
"Lash we won't do anything tonight, will we?" I murmured, shaking.
He shook his head, his closed eyes sliding up my cheek to let his lips rest against my temple. "No." I turned into him, and wrapped my arms around his neck, giving a mimicked heave of my mother's that I was holding in as his hands held tightly to my waist.
"Lay with me." Lash heard her whisper, her arms stretched slightly into the dark night in the room. It was after prom now, and the two were already in Lash's room, their pajamas on and everything. The only thing that hasn't been completed tonight, was the fact that Lash hadn't entered his own bed yet.
He merely smirked, taking a step towards the bed to watch her retract the sheets, letting him inside. Planting a soft kiss upon her mouth he felt her smile as he slid into the mattress, and wrapped her into an embrace, closing his eyes as her legs entangled themselves into his.
"I am, I am, don't worry." He murmured, brushing hair from her face to lower his head into her neck. "I'll be here as long as you want me to be."
"Well then in that case, I want you to be here forever. With me." Lash's insides boiled with that want, and he could only sigh, placing his hands onto her hips to lift her slightly, rolling her on top of his chest to cover her entirely.
He chuckled into the darkness, and slowly began to rub her back, doing his best to make her fall asleep. "I'll try my hardest, Crystal-love." His voice muttered, and gave the air a soft smile.
"There's something on my mind that I've been wondering for a while about." Crystal let loose, her fingers tracing his shoulder as they breathed together.
"And what is that?" Lash asked, peering over to the clock beside the bed. 2:46 in the morning.
"You'll think it's stupid, Lash, so I won't say."
"You won't know unless you ask, Cryssy."
"Do…do you think we'd ever…" She whispered, not finishing just yet.
Lash's hand caressed her cheek. "Ever what?" He voiced gently, feeling the tug of her body trying to roll to the side once again. He let her do what she wished, and they lay side by side, facing each other as she creeped her body closer to his, turning her face towards him, blushing.
"Get married?" Her eyes tried to search his, her mind trying to leak through to his, but Lash immediately put up a brick wall. She couldn't know. Just, not yet.
His mouth slightly opened, and his hand lifted off her cheek to rest on her hip. "I…uh, oh – would…you want to?" He stuttered, hiding his excitement with surprise. She wanted to be his wife?!
Crystal reached up to brush some of his hair from his face and looked into his eyes. She gave him an unsure look, but spoke anyway. "I…I think it'd be nice…" She sighed, and he bent slowly to kiss her forehead. His body was shaking, but he held himself together as he wrapped himself around the love of his life.
"Well I know it'd be nice."
Crystal breathed a small giggle. A laugh in relief. "You think?"
Lash had to hold in the large laugh he wanted to release, the harsh energy that just so happened to course through his veins around the newest valedictorian. "I think." Her lips were on his in a nervous chuckle and her eyes closed, snuggling closer to his body to fall asleep.
Lash definitely had to be dreaming.
Into the weekend, Lash lay upon Crystal's bed, toying with a strand of her brown hair as she sat on top of him, laughing into the cordless phone at something Mel had said. He inhaled her wondrous scent, kissing her roots lightly before gently pulling on the hair in his fingers. She stood up slowly, and Lash let go of the short lock of hair to feel it slide from his hands and back to resting on her spine with the rest of it. Watching her cross the room to her dresser, he tilted his head as she began to pull out handfuls of clothes.
She, Mel, Magenta and Layla were planning on taking a day together out into the city. "Hey, Lash?" He perked his head up quickly like a dog's. "Hold this while I go to the laundry room? I've got another basket of my clothes in the basement." He nodded, stretching his hand to receive the phone.
"Hi, Mel." He muttered, looking about the room lazily when Crystal left.
"Hey, hey." She said tiredly, as Lash stretched himself out on her bed, digging his hand beneath the pillows to cover his face with one. Yet he stopped. There was something beneath her pillow.
The catalog? He sat up straight with a grunt, and started to flip through the wrinkled pages, when he froze.
An idea struck him.
"I need you to do something for me." He could hear the quizzical look on her face.
"What?" She asked, curiousness and interest clouding over her boredom.
"When you go into town today, scan the windows of jewelry stores. Look for rings." She gasped. Oh, great, he thought. "Not a single word, Mel!" He spoke sternly, and she began to clap over the phone. "Mel -"
"Stop doing your happy dance."
"Just, will you?" He asked worriedly, looking back towards the door to his girlfriend's room.
"Will do, sergeant." More silence. "Hey, Lash?"
"What is it?" He snapped, running his fingers through his hair.
"Can I tell Lay -"
"No. No one, you hear me? No one – oh, hey babe." He fumbled the phone, tossing it to her quickly as Crystal appeared in the doorway.
"So whatchu two talk about?" She asked, giving Lash the raised eyebrow as she received the cordless phone, pouncing upon her bed and planting her head into Lash's stomach. Even though they couldn't hear each other, the two had said nothing at equal time. "Oo-kay, then…"
"Here," Lash began, taking the phone from her hands. "Mel, she'll have to just meet up with you at the train station. Love-yah-see-yah, bye." Click.
"What did you do that for?" She cried, hitting his chest with a pound of her fist. Smirking, his left hand grabbed the fist quickly, and he toppled her over, locking her into place upon the bed. "I wanted to talk to Mel!" Lash merely chuckled, and she shook her head with a roll of her eyes. Lash rolled to the side as he felt her push him in that direction, and then managed to teeter on the edge of her bed.
"Oh, nice one Crystal."
"Shut up or we'll topple over." She whispered, her voice a pitch higher than usual.
Lash opened his mouth with an amused expression, and began to bounce, to shake their bodies so that they would start to slide to the floor. "Think we're already there, baby." He laughed, kissing her cheek before stretching his neck away to avoid a swat of her hand.
"Hey, you're cheating!"
"You use your power against me all the time!" He gasped back, rolling on top of her to plant a large kiss on her mouth. "But I forgive you." His nose rubbed against hers. "Cause I love you."
She beamed. "Love you too."
"Yeah, and the way we end up on the floor is such a way to show it."
Crystal could only laugh.
"Which one do you guys like?" Mel asked, pointing to the selection of shiny new rings in the jewelry store window. Layla immediately pointed to the far right hand corner of the box, to a green gem-filled floral ring. Magenta pointed to a violet heart, Mel sneakily chose a random one to the side, and Crystal was the only one with her finger pressed to her lip, tapping lightly as she thought. Slowly, she pointed to the one farthest back, and Mel's hazel eyes sparkled. The girls began to walk away, and Mel grabbed Layla's shoulder with one hand. "Distract Mack for 10 seconds."
Layla looked confused, but nodded. Running back towards the window, Mel whipped out her phone, taking a picture of the ring, along with the price.
Giving a final smile, she cried out only three words. "You three hungry?"
Lash fiddled with his cellphone, playing a game of Bejeweled as he hung around Crystal's room. It was a bit after Crystal's shift at the Paper Lantern, and she told him that she deserved a nap. With a vibration of the phone, he twitched, trying not to attract attention to himself as she rolled onto her side, taking another short rest. Lying down beside her, he checked his new text messages, the newest one being from Mel.
Got it. I got group 2getha, come to OG.
He had to hold his breath as he kissed below Crystal's ear, hearing her exhale softly. Lash shut his phone, tucking it into his pants as his fingers tangled themselves into her hair and her hand. "Hey…" He whispered, closing his eyes as she gave a gentle moan of recognition.
"Nuh?" She murmured, jumping on the bed to turn to face him, her eyes still closed as she dipped her face into his neck. "Mmm, Lahhhphh."
Lash looked over to the clock, and then to the missing bags under her eyes. "Oh, psh." This made Crystal give his neck a smirk. "You're faking."
"Yes, well, I liked where I was." She muttered, wrapping an arm around his shoulder to giggle. "And I was comfortable." Lash tapped her scalp, and watched her squint her eyes open. "What's so important?"
"Do you wanna go out to eat?" He asked, picking her up easily to look at her deeply. "And you can't have the excuse of not sleeping well, Cryssy. You look perfect. No bags."
She rolled her eyes, shaking her head. "I'm not perfect." Laughing, she continued. "No one is."
"Everyone is perfect for another, Crystal Mack." He whispered huskily, kissing her lightly as he brought her down upon him. "So do you wanna go out to eat?"
"Where would we g -"
"Olive Gard -" He was interrupted.
"Yes!" She gasped, smiling as she kissed the side of his mouth. "You know me too well."
"It's why I'm here." He chuckled. "Now let's get going."
"Crys! Lash! Over here!" A voice called, and Lash's head turned to smirk. All of Crystal's friends were there, sitting at an elongated table, smiling back. The waitress looked a little stressed.
They walked together, hand in hand, to the opposite side of the restaurant from the door, to where the voice had manifested itself. "Mel! Maj, Layla!" Crystal cried happily, and Lash rolled his eyes, knowing that the girl would think that it was all just a coincidence that they all were there. Or just be suspicious as to why no one invited the two of them. Unless Lash hadn't told her something.
Which he obviously did the latter.
"Hey, come sit with us, the waitress shouldn't mind, really. We already ordered appetizers." Zack said, getting up to push another table to the already-large table, pulling along two more chairs. Crystal shrugged beside Lash, and he merely smirked right along, sitting beside Mel as Crystal took his right hand side.
"Was this all…planned?" Crystal wondered aloud, pointing to the table as the breadstick basket glared deeply between herself and Melissa. Lash gulped to himself, and tried to push the basket a little forward, towards Will and Layla. But both women smacked his hand.
"Don't touch." They said at the same time, giggling and high-fiving each other when they realized what they did.
"Well, not really. Magenta was supposed to call you two an hour ago about the whole thing, but apparently she forgot." Layla shrugged, and Maj raised an eyebrow. Lash clearly knew that she lied. Whoa, Williams lied. Yet she kept her flowery smile upon her face, brushing a piece of hair from her eyes.
Now, for what he truly came here for. He just had to get Mel's attention.
When Crystal wasn't looking, Mel smirked towards Lash, already reading his mind. Slowly, she slid a terrycloth napkin towards him, and he grasped it quickly, throwing it into his lower pocket before Crystal turned her head their way. Mel looked to Layla, nodding once, and watched her stand up, declaring that she was going to the bathroom. Magenta threw her napkin down from her lap and onto the table, standing up as well. Clearly Maj knew something in all this. But what, and how much, did Mel go against her word to keep this secret?
"You coming, Crys?" Layla whispered, grabbing the brunette's hand fast to step away from the dinnertable.
"Whu…what about Mel?" She asked loudly, looking quite confused. Lash had to bite the inside of his cheek to make her move quicker. He needed to see this.
"Oh, Crystal honey, I'm fine. I'll just hang out here with the boys." She gave her friend a sincere smile, but Lash could see the urgency in her eyes. Once the three girls were out of sight, Lash ripped the napkin from his pocket, and the 4 guys crossed the table to get a good look at the contents. It was a printout picture of the camera phone snapshot that Mel had taken the day before.
Will whistled behind Lash, shaking his head at the price tag. "What, Stronghold." Lash growled darkly, raising his eyes up high into his skull, near to the right at the short boy in red, white, and blue.
He was seething, now. "I can afford it." He hissed through his teeth, glaring them all back to their seats. "I can afford two of these, you annoying bastard." He glanced back at the picture, and then over to Mel. "Three, even."
She smirked, and placed a hand over his, taking the picture and sliding it into her own pocket. "I'm proud, Livingston."
Layla glanced at me from the mirror, and gave me a smile. It wasn't her usual, cheery, I-love-all-things smile, but an I-know-something-but-you-won't-be-disappointed smile. I caught it quickly before she tossed Magenta the girl's powder that she held for her in her purse.
"So what are you planning to do after puking on stage, Ms. Valedictorian?" Maj chuckled, dodging an elbow to the ribs by me. "Gees, I'm only curious."
"Probably wallowing in my own self-pity while my family looks embarrassed." I gulped, and looked to my sallow expression. Layla was avoiding my eyes now. "Lay, what's up."
"Do you know what you're gunna say?" She whispered, making me and Maj freeze in the mirror. The purple girl beside me glared daggers at Layla, and gave a nervous chuckle.
"Yeah, what are you gunna say up there. Say anything about our adventures over the years?"
"Editor of the school newspaper, maybe?" Layla said quickly, running a hand through her hair.
"Okay, probably. What's…going on?" I asked, looking from one girl to the next. Both shrugged, and it unnerved me. It was weird.
"Nothing. Just curious."
We headed for the door, and I had to brush off the feeling of uncertainty between these two.
"What if she says no?" He leaned forward, his face green. Speed rolled his eyes and smacked the back of his head.
"She will not. Shut up." They looked up just in time to see Crystal coming down the stairs, her valedictorian outfit flowing loosely as she descended.
"Hey, what's going on?" She muttered nervously, looking from her brother to her boyfriend.
"You're graduation-ino." Speed laughed, holding the side of the couch.
"You uh, wanna get going?" Lash murmured, standing up to take her hand. She nodded, and fiddled with her hat before stepping out behind him out of the house.
"I don't think I can do this." He heard her whisper, coughing once to grab a strip of toilet paper by her head.
"Sure you can. I remember Mykalanne almost breaking down at my graduation, Cryssy…you can do this." Lash muttered, holding her hair up high to twist it into his hand. Her red face was sweaty and gross, but he kept a hand on her shoulder to keep her steady. "It'll be easy. Just, don't think of what's going on out there. When you're up at the podium, just smile, and say those lines you wrote down the other day."
"I wrote more than just 'those lines', Lash. I wrote a whole story and then some. And then I threw it all -" She interrupted herself by hacking on empty air. "In the trash, cause it was all useless shit." Wiping her mouth on the toilet paper, she stood up, and Lash gave her a sympathetic look, opening his arms to let her inside. But she grimaced. "You really wanna touch me after I just hurled for ten straight minutes?" He nodded. "You're so weird." She breathed, stepping into his embrace and holding on tightly.
"Don't let this all worry you, Crys. Just…don't." He whispered, kissing her roots and closing his eyes. If she were so worried about getting on stage, would she be all right with his proposal? Would she even be conscious?
He gulped to himself, and ran a hand off her hair. "I'll try." She murmured, breathing deeply before stepping back, receiving a shaking kiss on her forehead from him. "Alright…"Crystal looked up at him with partially closed eyes, and nodded. "I'll see you out there, babe."
"Luck." He whispered as she left, breathing heavily before turning out of the bathroom as well. "I'm going to need it."
"Please give a warm welcome to our 2008 valedictorian, Crystal Mack!" Powers exclaimed through the microphone, smiling happily as she raised an arm out to the rows of students ready to cross the stage. Lash's leg jiggled as he closed his eyes, hearing the loud roar of whoops and screams, the stomps of feet against the ground and the booming claps of her friends.
His hand was in his pocket, and Lash had to breathe slowly before turning his face over to Speed. "You'll be okay, kid." Speed grunted, hitting his shoulder.
"Just wish I could know her answer already…" Lash hissed back, opening his eyes to see an extremely nervous Crystal walk up to the podium. He only hoped she'd remember the night she rehearsed her lines at his apartment. She was so worked up, so frazzled; she couldn't fall asleep easily. The poor girl had to be held down to stop fidgeting, but somehow she took that to her advantage and managed to sneak a quickie in before she started to shake uncontrollably.
Lash shook his head at the thought, and looked to his hopeful-future-wife. "You could ask her right now…" Mary had whispered, leaning her head near his shoulder, a gleam of a smile plastered on to her features. "I'm sure you'd be okay with the Principal." He gulped, and began to play with the ring box between his fingers. The inside of his pocket was becoming hot and sweaty, so he ripped his hand from it. He was nervous – he didn't need to hold her hand and make her feel uncomfortable with his clammy hands. Disgusting.
"You'll do great, son." Michael had muttered, smacking him with a fatherly gesture, nodding his head once. "As will she, but she won't wait forever."
"I, uh, would like to say a few things – you know, the usual type of things people are supposed to say up here…" Oh, c'mon, Crys, he thought, almost hitting his own head. You were perfect before. Wow them here, too!
"My friends, my teachers, they've all been a great help since the beginning. My parents," Crystal looked back to the group of people behind her, giving them a weak smile. "They've always been there for me. My years at Sky High will definitely always be in my heart – I found great friends, a 'career choice' -" Many laughed. Crystal seemed a bit okay now. "And I've had amazing adventures. I mean, defeating Dr. Cranium back in my sophomore year -" Lash could see the hero team stand and cheer, more louder than the rest of the school. "Becoming editor in chief of Sky High's newspaper was a great add, an amazing challenge for me. But we created some…really awesome memories." She laughed. "I have everyone here to thank for that. We've come this far in life, succeeding through such a wonderful school; I think its time to say that this is only the beginning. We've really, and truly, just begun."
Lash smiled. He knew. Somehow, in the back of his head, he knew she'd say yes.
"So now, with parting words I say, 'Look out world, here we come!'" It may have been short, but Lash knew she was still nervous being up there. With a side-glance to Diane Powers, he watched her nod slowly. Standing, he reached down into his pocket, fiddling with the velvet box before stepping beside her at the podium. "Lash…" Her whisper echoed out into the open gym, and with a graceful fall to one knee, he heard most of their audience gasp loudly.
This was it.
Now or never.
God this was so hard keeping his heartbeat to a minimum. "Crystal Skye Mack," He said clearly, ducking his head low just for a moment as he took hold of her left hand. She was cold. Frozen. Scared. Surprised. He could feel all that in her pulse. "I've loved you for so long I can't even remember never not." She released a shivering gasp, and held her fingers at her mouth.
"Ohmigosh." She muttered quickly, and he knew she wasn't believing what she was experiencing. What they were experiencing. But she had to. She had to, so that he could make her his forever.
"And with this," he pulled out the velvet ring box, and opened it with a small creak. The crowd 'oohed' and 'ahhed', but Lash didn't take notice. Only to Crystal's eyes. How they weren't for the ring, but for his own. "I'd like to make it forevermore." Taking it gently from its place in the box, he chucked the silk-lined ring box into the air, and looked up at her. Ever so slowly, Lash felt Crystal relax her fingers that he held close, and he kissed each of her fingertips, shaking. She let him slip the ring onto her third digit, and there were loud cheers. But he was more focused upon her. Her answer. She needed to give him one.
"Lash." She gasped, taking both of his hands in hers, picking him up off the stage to his feet. She kissed his mouth softly, and nodded. "Yes. My God, yes." His heart jumped as he lifted her into his arms, spinning her around twice before placing her back down. "Am I dreaming?"
He laughed lightly, kissing her strongly right before he replied. "No." He shook his head repeatedly, the cheers and screams of happiness just a minor buzz in the background. "No. You aren't."
"Crystal Livingston." She smiled widely, curling her arms around his neck. "It's got a nice ring to it."
"It's supposed to. It belongs there."
-Three years later-
I looked around my surroundings, tying my hair back into a loose ponytail. It seemed that I sat in a park, on a bench below an oak. I smiled as I saw the familiar red hair of Layla Williams, soon-to-be Stronghold, and invited her to sit down. Yet the redhead wasn't focused on me at all – but the bundle in my arms.
There was a bundle? In my arms? Really?
Looking down, I saw the baby yawn, its arms stretching as far as they could go beneath the thickly wrapped pink blanket. It's apparent now, that this baby was a girl. Layla sat down beside me, and began to coo at the little one, but I kept looking around for other people. Sure, I knew every face – but I was looking more towards my friends. Mel. Magenta. My men. My family.
"She's so adorable." I heard Layla whisper, brushing a strand of baby hair away from the little one's ear. Yes, yes, but whose was she? And who was she?
I smiled down at her, watching her wiggle her itty little nose, looking up at me. She held dark rimmed, blue eyes of steel, and dark brown hair. Layla went to tickle under her chin, and the baby girl giggled freely.
And then I saw them approach. Melissa. Maj. My girls. My sisters. And as they sat on the grass in front of me, I noticed a tiny person behind another oak, checking us out. She looked about seven, and had long wavy brown hair, nearly matching the oak she was hiding behind.
"You see her?" I muttered to the girls, lifting up a hand to point over at the oak tree. They looked back, but it was too late. Once they turned to face me again, I looked down at the baby girl. My questions kept flowing in my mind. She was so young – what was her name? Who were her parents? Hell, where were her parents?
Finally, the girl behind the oak creeped closer, raising a hand to the air and waving nervously. Oh, she was shy, the poor girl. "Come! Don't be afraid." I called to her, waving her over with a smile. She caught it, and sent me one along the way as she began to skip her way over to our little group, adoring the young baby girl.
"Hi!" She waved enthusiastically, sitting on my opposite side. I smiled warmly, and thought that her pretty periwinkle eyes were really shocking. Distracting me from the child in my arms. But the little one had begun to coo, lifting her hand towards the newest addition to the group. The girl beside me ducked her head, and wiggled her fingers above the baby. "What's her name?" She asked breathlessly, only to see me shrug. How should I know? The girls around me shrugged as well, and I immediately felt stupid. For just, some unknown reason. It bothered me – so much. And when the young girl burst out with another set of words, I had to suck it all in at once. "She doesn't have a name?" Silver strands fell in front of her vision, and me, being me, had to fight the urge to wipe them away. But silver wisps of hair? On a seven year old? "Well, we'll just have to give m-her one, won't we?"
I could only nod, squealing away at the child in my arms. Lifting her lightly so that she rested upon my shoulder, I looked down at her, and kissed her cheek. It was hard to ignore that sudden urge to take her home and cuddle with her. And just as I was going to ask what she thought of names, she spoke them clearly as if I had just asked before I could even open my mouth.
"I like Auralie – much more prettier than Faith, in my head." Words had wandered from her full lips to my ear, and memories flashed before my eyes. Faith. Faith.
The little angel that saved Lash from going to Heaven back in sophomore year. From leaving me – all of us - forever. The little girl that possessed another person to revive Lash. The girl who stayed 7 years old for over a couple thousands of years. She had periwinkle eyes and silver hairs – that's what I remember Lash telling me once. Oh my gosh, this is Faith. The Faith. But why was she here? In Maxville? Was it possible that I was dreaming?
No. That couldn't be it. 'Cause if I were, I'd have an unmelting pack of fudgicles sitting beside me – and it would never be empty. And if I check beside me, nope, it's not there. Not dreaming. Couldn't be.
I stopped looking at the baby girl, and turned my head towards who I thought it was. Glancing back towards the girl, and involuntarily gasped. Layla, hearing this, took the little one from my arms to keep her safe. Half of me wanted to grasp the baby back, but half of me had a blurry vision. "You're…you're Faith?"
She nodded. My god. This was really Faith. She was so…I couldn't say. "I thought it'd be nice to introduce myself – I am going to be part of your family, soon, anyway." She giggled. "It's been written down for about a whole century now. And I was too ecstatic to not do this." Jumping up, she hugged me tightly, and took off in a skipping path down towards the swings.
I looked towards the baby now with Melissa, and watched her pass it to Magenta. This baby was my own. My own baby girl. Lash's.
"Faith!" I called, waving to get her attention. She tugged on the rainbow-colored t-shirt on her body, and fiddled the ground with her white strap-on sandals. Her arms lifted and I picked her up, hooking her to my hip before I wiped away her silver hair away from her eyes. "Is this really about to happen?"
She nodded once more, silently, as I walked her to the swings. Faith wanted to hold my hand instead of weighing me down on my hip, so I let her do what she wanted. Skipping along once again, she took me towards the creaky, yet calming swingset.
"It's just gunna be the three of us, though. For a while, anyway." She clapped a hand over her mouth, her eyes widening at her own words. "I wasn't supposed to say that!"
"It's okay. I won't tell a soul."
Faith took to her feet; wiping down the shirt she wore, and wiggled her fingers towards me, smiling happily. "I have to go now. Bye, Mommy!" Quickly running off, she paused her steps, turning around to whisper words to the wind. "Yeah, I like the sound of that."
I knew I was open to both my subconscious and reality. Since I could hear the soft noises of Lash's alarm clock ticking away to my left, his warm breath on my shoulder, I knew that I was still halfway asleep. Standing above that never-ending fall of doom, I opened my arms to close my eyes, and took that tiny step away from the earth.
Jumping in the bed, I turned my body into his, groaning out my uncomfortable-ness as I tossed myself onto my back, feeling Lash's lips almost glued to my neck. It was where he could sleep on his own, comfortably, in my arms. But once I opened my eyes into the darkness, I looked down at my stomach. Could I see it getting bigger and bigger, a baby growing inside it, becoming strong and powerful?
I probably could. And according to Faith, I would. It would be her. My Auralie. No longer Faith.
Leaning my face towards Lash, I felt his hand rest against my belly. I couldn't help but smile. His fingers were soft and his palm was extremely warm. When I heard a grunt, I knew that he felt me move. I knew he was partially awake now. "Lash?" I whispered, covering the left hand that was on my belly with my own.
"We're gunna have a baby."
"Mm…really?" He rasped. "Hu-family?"
And there we have it. The last. And final. Chapter of Comfort Zone.
No, there will not be a sequel. No. There won't.
Tell me your thoughts, my dears.