Chapter Four: Kiss and Make Up
"……how it happened……"
A hint of a voice pierced through the haze in his head, and for a moment it made his head pound…who was talking so loud…?
The voice faded in and out through his head, and he couldn't recognize it, but it sounded like it might have been male.
A decidedly new voice, squeaky and worried now…definitely female…and definitely hurting his head with its high pitch. He winced, and heard himself mutter a little.
"Look, he's coming to…"
"Is he okay?"
"Elliot? Elliot, can you hear me? It's Sarah, sweetie…wake up…"
Elliot groaned irritably and forced his eyes open. A trio of faces hovered over his face: Mister Verres, looking stern and annoyed; the furry half-squirrel figure of Grace Scuridae, glancing back and forth between him and something across the room; and Sarah, who was closest to him, clutching his hand and stroking his cheek.
"Sarah…?" he half-whispered.
The girl nodded rapidly, breaking out into a smile. "Hi…"
"Unnhh…what happened?" he mumbled.
"That's what I'd like to know," Mister Verres said, arms crossed in front of him as he gave Elliot the evil eye.
Elliot shook his head and ran a hand over his face, trying to wake up, and suddenly in all came back to him in a flash. "…Tedd…he was trying to experiment with the diamond, and it went haywire…"
Mister Verres rolled his eyes irritably. "I should have known…that son of mine…can't trust him with anything sometimes…"
"Is he okay?" Elliot asked.
"He's just knocked out," Grace answered. "He hasn't woken up yet, though…"
She glanced worriedly across the room again, and Elliot sat up and followed her gaze to where Tedd still lay limp against the chair from a painful-looking bruise on his head. Beneath his chair, a couple of loose lab rats scurried around, battling over stray bits of food.
"How long have we been out?" Elliot asked.
"A couple of hours, at least…what in the world happened to him…?" Grace wondered aloud, moving over with Mister Verres to tend to her boyfriend and not noticing the guilty expression that grew on Sarah's face.
Elliot didn't miss it though. He gazed back at her, his own expression becoming as stern as Mister Verres' a moment ago. "Sarah…" he began scoldingly.
He didn't get any farther, though, before tears suddenly began to fall from her eyes and she threw her arms tightly around him. "Oh, Elliot…thank god you're okay…"
Elliot raised a surprised eyebrow. "…Um…Sarah?"
Sarah just hugged him tighter, words spilling forth in a rush. "I got so scared, Elliot, I had no idea what that thing did to you, I didn't know if you were gonna ever wake up and what if the last memory of you I ever had was a stupid fight and me throwing a book at you and I'd never be able to live with myself and…oh, Elliot, I'm so sorry…"
Despite his surprise at this sudden reversal, Elliot instinctively hugged her back, stroking her hair comfortingly. "Shh…it's okay, Sarah, I'm fine…look, I'm right here, everything's alright…"
"No it's not," Sarah insisted, sniffling on his shoulder. "I already lost one person I love this week, and I was so afraid I was gonna lose another before I got a chance to fix things between us, because you were right, Elliot, I was so stupid, I was just angry and I took it all out on you and you didn't deserve it at all and I'm really really sorry--"
"Sarah, shh, calm down," Elliot whispered into her ear, a wave of guilt over their earlier argument coming down on him at her words. "It's okay, Sarah, I forgive you…I'm sorry too…I was just being bitter…"
She pulled back from the hug just enough to look at him, eyes shining. "So you don't hate me…?"
Elliot shook his head. "Never."
That smile he loved so much grew on her face again, and with one last sniffle she drew close and pressed her lips to his. Elliot was all too eager to kiss and make up as well, and returned her affections immediately, still stroking her hair.
"I missed you…" she murmured happily against his lips, not letting go of him.
It was a bit of a surprise to Elliot how long she held onto him, how deep she let the kiss go before it finally ended. By the time she released him they both had to take a minute to catch their breath as hey smiled at each other. Elliot didn't mind, though. A little extra intensity was well-warranted in this case. And besides, he certainly enjoyed it.
"He's waking up!" Grace suddenly squealed.
Elliot turned and saw Tedd slowly stirring in the chair, one hand quickly moving to rub the bruise on his head. The moment he seemed fully conscious, Grace tackled him to the ground, hugging him and nuzzling his cheek.
"Yay, you're awake!" she exclaimed.
"Nnghh…head…searing pain…" he whined.
"Oh, Tedd, what on Earth happened to you?"
At that moment Elliot nudged Sarah in the back, who coughed just loud enough to draw their attention.
"Um…I'm sorry, that was my fault…" she admitted. "I, um…kind of snapped at Elliot and threw a book at him, but…I, ah…missed."
"A book?" Tedd muttered. "How did a book do this much damage?"
Sarah looked apologetically at him. "Um…It was a pretty big book. That one by your feet, I think."
Tedd looked, and sure enough the very book she'd thrown lay there. He grabbed the sizeable volume and inspected the title. "…The Dungeons & Dragons Player's Manual. Well, that explains things."
"As long as we're explaining things…" Mister Verres suddenly growled from over Tedd's shoulder, making him freeze in place. "Perhaps you could explain to me why you broke into my safe deposit box, took the dewitchery diamond to experiment on it, and otherwise generally disobeyed me?!"
Tedd spun and gave his father a nervous smile. "Ah-heh…well, see…technically there was no 'breaking' involved, so…"
"Uh-huh. Nice try." He hoisted Tedd out from under Grace and off the ground. "You're going to catch those loose lab rats of yours, and then you're going upstairs and staying there. No lab access for a week."
Tedd groaned. "A week?!"
"Keep that up and it'll be two!"
"Aww, man…nothing even happened!"
"But it easily could have! That's why I told you not to mess with it in the first place! It's a miracle we didn't end up with two of all of you! Now go get those rats and get upstairs!"
Tedd groaned again and turned to look for them, but Grace was already two steps ahead. She stood behind him, in her half-cat form now, grinning at him…or at least, grinning as best she could when she had the pair of loose rats dangling by their tails from her teeth.
Elliot chuckled at that, then looked at Sarah. "I guess that's our cue to leave."
Sarah nodded back and glanced at Tedd and Grace. "Sorry again about the book! I owe you one, okay?"
"Yeah yeah, all is forgiven and all that jazz," Tedd muttered, waving them off as he took the rats from Grace and put them in the cage.
A second later Elliot felt a tug on his arm from Sarah, and the two hurried upstairs and out of the house into the night air, glad to be free. They'd had enough of Tedd's place for quite a while.
Minutes passed as the pair walked together in silence, heading generally back toward Sarah's house. Elliot felt her squeeze his hand gently, and he turned to see her smiling up at him. Elliot couldn't help but smile back, and he realized just how much he'd missed this closeness with her. The fight seemed like a distant memory already, and he was quite glad for that.
"Some day, huh?" he asked.
"Yeah…some day," she echoed.
"So what happened after I got knocked out?"
"Oh…it wasn't too bad," Sarah assured him. "The TF Gun's energy hit me too, but it was already shutting down, so it wasn't very strong. I was only out for a few minutes or so, and when I woke up I ran upstairs to get Grace and Tedd's dad, and then we just...had to wait a couple of hours until that blast wore off on you and Tedd came to." She looked curiously at him. "What was that, anyway? I've never seen the TF Gun do that."
"Oh, that was just Tedd's new 'stun' setting," Elliot explained. "Ever since he heard the whole story of Ellen fighting that super-goo monster and she mentioned the part about her beam stunning it instead of transforming it, he's been trying to copy that effect. He just got it down today, I guess."
Sarah nodded her understanding. "Heh…that Tedd…"
They fell silent for another few minutes as they walked, the only light left around them coming from the street lamps along the sidewalks. A breeze blew by, which gave Sarah an abrupt chill even through her coat, and Elliot realized with a blush that she was only wearing pajamas under it.
He coughed and cleared his throat. "Are you, um…cold?"
He expected her to insist that she wasn't, that he needn't worry about her, and for him to have to insist in return that he offer her an extra coat or something. He was again mildly surprised, then, that she instead nodded, and took his words as an invitation to stop for a moment and wrap herself tightly around him.
"You're warm…" she murmured, closing her eyes and smiling.
"Ah-heh…y-yeah," Elliot stuttered back. He put his own arms around her as well, which seemed to really please her, because in response she nuzzled her cheek against his and sent extremely pleasurable feelings bolting through Elliot's body.
"I'm glad you don't hate me," she said quietly.
Elliot managed to compose himself quickly enough, but still slowly rubbed her back, comforting her. "I could never hate you, Sarah. You know I love you."
"I love you too, Elliot."
Elliot sighed a little. "And…I'm really sorry about…your grandpa…"
"It's okay, Elliot," she said, slowly pulling back from him so they could walk again. "You were right before. It's just…part of life. And I realized that…I can either mope about it and feel sorry for myself…or I can live life to the fullest." She looked pointedly up at him. "I'm done moping. I'm gonna get back to living now."
Elliot smiled back down at her. "Sounds good to me."
A moment later they were at her house, and he was walking her up to the front door.
"Well…guess this is goodnight," Sarah said, a little sadly.
"Yeah…guess so…" Ellito had to agree. "…I'm glad you're feeling better."
"Thanks to you," she replied.
"Heh…no problem," he said with a quiet chuckle. "So…I'll see you tomorrow?"
She nodded. "Yeah…definitely."
"Yeah…so…" He leaned in and pecked her on the cheek. "Goodnight."
Sarah wasn't satisfied with that, apparently, because before he could move away she pulled him around and kissed him full on the lips again, more full and intense than before…more than ever, really.
"Mmm…?" Elliot murmured for a moment before responding. This was new to him, this intensity. Not that he minded at all – far from it, in fact, he was more than eager – but he hadn't expected it. Sarah was just full of surprises today, it seemed.
It didn't last quite as long this time, which Elliot was only aware of because he didn't have to gasp for breath when they parted, but he didn't mind. He was just happy to be kissing her again at all.
So was Sarah, he realized as she traced a finger teasingly over his mouth. "God, I missed those lips…"
"Yeah…me too," Elliot said, smiling.
Sarah pushed her door open and kissed him briefly once more before crossing the threshold. "Goodnight," she whispered.
"Night, Sarah…" he whispered back, and by the time she closed the door and he'd turned to walk away, it was all he could do not to grin like a moron all the way home.
"Nnnghh…stupid dad…can't believe this…grounded for a week…"
Tedd stomped into his bedroom, slammed the door, and dropped the cage of rats roughly on the dresser, spurring a series of squeaks from its residents. He dropped face-down on the bed and growled into the pillow, thoroughly annoyed. Why did his dad even care? Nothing bad had happened. Everyone was fine, unless he counted the bruise on his head, which really wasn't that bad at all. He'd just been curious. And now he was grounded from the lab for a week and he hadn't even gotten to see the experiment take place thanks to Sarah, even if it had gone nuts. Worse, he couldn't even look at recordings of it; all the equipment for his webcams was in the basement lab as well, and his dad was currently placing a very large bolt and padlock on the door to keep him out.
He turned over and stared at the rat cage, glaring at it. He'd gone through all the trouble of getting lab rats so that his dad would get off his back about testing experimental transformations on himself, and he hadn't gotten to use them at all. Thirteen perfectly good rats, and he hadn't gotten to use them, and he wouldn't for at least the next week…
His thought process suddenly ground to a halt. "Thirteen…?" he said aloud. "I could swear I only got twelve…"
He looked more closely at the cage, counting the rats inside. And then counted again. And again. And every time, he got the same number: thirteen.
A slow grin crossed Tedd's face. "What do you know…maybe this fiasco wasn't a total bust after all…"