note: So this is the final chapter. Thanks for all the reviews!
Don't own MSB.
different names for the same thing
by, the ultimateSora
The following night, Archibald let Phoebe in, and she noticed a bruised lump on the side of his face. "What happened?"
She brushed her fingertips along his purple skin, and he winced some. "Book fell off the shelf."
He pulled back when she moved to kiss him, and her face fell. "What is it?"
He took her hand and brought her over to the couch. "We need to talk, Phoebe."
They sat down, and her voice shook when she asked, "About what?"
"You and me." He sighed and leaned forward, his arms on his thighs. "Phoebe, I've been thinking about this, and I don't think I can continue leading you on."
Her eyes teared up. "Lead me on? You weren't leading me on."
He got up. "You love me, Phoebe, but I'm not sure if I love you like that." He turned to face her. "To me, that's leading you on."
She jumped to her feet. "Archibald, you know I don't care about that!" Tears were running down her cheeks.
"I know you don't, but...that isn't all." He took a deep breath. "Phoebe, you're also nineteen--"
"I don't care that you're older!" she cried.
"It does make a difference, Phoebe," he sighed, keeping his voice soft and calm. "It would just be best for both of us if we ended it now."
She grabbed his hands, not caring that her tears were running under her shirt collar. "Archibald, I love you! And I'm willing to wait to become Mrs. Seedplot. I can wait for you to love me! Just please don't push me away."
He gave her hands a squeeze. "You're a wonderful young woman, Phoebe. You'll make some young man very happy." He let go of her and stepped back. "You should be with Arnold."
Her heart stopped. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"He came by yesterday, and we talked. I started to think a lot on what he said, and I think you should be with a younger man who loves you."
She realized the bruised lump was right where a left fist would make impact. "He hit you, didn't he?" Archibald's lack of response answered for her. "I don't want him. I want you. How many times do I have to tell you that?"
He let go of her hands and gave her upper arms a gentle squeeze. "Don't think that what we had was just me having sexual fun. I do care deeply for you, Phoebe, but it cannot last." He kissed her cheek. "Goodbye, Phoebe."
She opened her mouth to protest, but she closed it when he let go of her walk off a couple of steps, his back to her. She stifled a sob and ran out.
"Mr. Seedplot?" Dorothy Ann's eyes were wide, and her mouth was in a perfect "O". "Phoebe's been sneaking around with Mr. Seedplot?"
She was sitting at the dining room table as Arnold paced around. "I don't know what to do," he said, throwing his arms up. "She said she loved me, but now I don't know if she meant it or not."
D.A. shrugged. "Well, Arn, I don't think Pheebs is the 'I love you but don't really mean it' type. I'd expect something like that more from Wanda."
Just then, the front door swung open, and they saw a red, tear-stained faced Phoebe. She slammed the door behind her and walked closer to Arnold. "How could you do it?" she screamed at him.
She was about to start hitting him, but D.A. jumped up and threw herself between them, keeping her back. "Phoebe! Phoebe, calm down!"
"I hate you!" she cried out to Arnold. "I hate you!"
D.A. shoved her back. "Phoebe!" She reached out and grabbed her upper arms, shaking her some. "Phoebe, what the hell is going on?"
She looked at Arnold, pointing. "He ruined it for me! He made Archibald end it with me!" She pulled away from D.A., and she ran to her room, the door slamming shut echoing through the house.
Arnold moved to go after her, but D.A. held up her hand, shaking her head. She walked down the hall to Phoebe's room, and she sighed at the locked door. Their doors had keyholes, and they had each other's room key. D.A. grabbed her keys from the kitchen, and she went back to unlock Phoebe's room. She walked in to find Phoebe crying on the bed, and she shut the door behind her.
"Go away," she sobbed.
D.A. walked over to the bed, jumping on it. She crawled beside Phoebe and laid on her side, facing her. "Roommates and best friends don't listen to 'go away'." She tapped Phoebe's nose. "Talk."
Phoebe sniffled and wiped her bloodshot eyes. "I guess Arnold would have told you about my little affair."
D.A. nodded. "I'm a little put off you didn't tell me."
"Arnold went to talk to him last night," Phoebe went on. "And tonight, Archibald decided nothing more could come from what we had." She sniffled again. "He kept going on about the age difference, how he wasn't sure if he loved me like I loved him, and everything...and I..." She shut her eyes, tears streaming out once again. "I hate Arnold for this."
"Pheebs, did you really think it could last between a forty-something year old man and a nineteen year old girl?" Phoebe opened her eyes, hating D.A.'s practicality. "And do you think your parents would approve if they knew?"
"Of course not...but if we gave it time..."
"Gave it time? Pheebs, by the time you're 23, he'd be...what? Forty-four or so?"
"Forty-six," Phoebe mumbled.
"And do you think he would want to wait for you to finish school to get married, and do you think he would want to have children so late in his life?"
"But you see many older men-younger women couples. Aren't they more socially acceptable?"
"Maybe, but in this day and age, how many forty-two year old men date nineteen year old women that aren't millionaires and their mistresses, you know? It's mostly gold diggers you see these days."
Phoebe wiped her eyes. "I think I need to be alone right now."
D.A. wrapped her arms around her and pulled her close. "I'm just outside if you need me. And when you're ready, I'll have the Ben & Jerry's and Golden Girls DVDs at the ready."
Phoebe smiled. "Thanks."
D.A. kissed her head, and she got up, walking out into the hall where Arnold was leaning against the wall. "How is she?" he asked.
D.A. shook her head. "I think it would be best if you went home, Arn."
"No. I have to talk to her. I need to apologize."
D.A. looped her arms around his, and they walked to the living room. "Arnold, she wants to be alone right now. Go home, and when she's ready, she'll call you."
He pulled his arm from her hold and took off his hoodie, laying it on the arm chair. He kicked off his shoes. "Nope. I'm staying here. I'm going to sleep on the couch."
D.A. sighed. "Fine." She went in her room and came back out with her yellow and purple Minnesota Vikings fleece, red and blue Minnesota Twins fleece, and a pillow. She tossed them to him. "There. That's all you're getting." She headed to the bathroom. "I'm going to wash off my make-up and brush my teeth. You can have the bathroom when I'm done."
He watched her go, and he took off his glasses, putting them on the coffee table. He shook out both fleece blankets a few times before laying them out on the couch, and he propped the pillow on the arm rest. D.A. had only the best sheets, her pillowcase a soft 400 thread count, and the pillow was a fluffy, 1000-count, synthetic fill (which was good considering both were allergic to down filling, which made both sneeze).
D.A. came out of the bathroom, and before she went in her room, she said, "G'night, Arn. I hope Phoebe doesn't realize you're here and kills you in the night."
"She's not capable of murder," he said, heading to the bathroom. "At least I don't think she is..."
Phoebe woke up when the sun shone through her blinds the next morning. Her eyes felt raw, and she pulled herself out of bed, realizing she fell asleep in the clothes she wore the night before. She took them off, tossing them in her hamper, and she slipped on a pair of yellow and white striped boxers and a maroon t-shirt that read "WALKER LAKE MIDDLE SCHOOL TRACK & FIELD" in gold around the silhouette of a pirate, the middle school's mascot.
She walked across the hall to the bathroom, and she pulled her hair up in a lopsided ponytail before washing her face and brushing her teeth. Her eyes were still red and puffy, and she looked over her pale, freckled face. Her cheeks were round, and her green eyes looked sunken. Her lips were chapped, as usual, and she heaved a sigh, walking out. She realized the TV was on, and she walked in the living room to find Arnold eating a bowl a Fruit Loops, his face unshaven, and he was wearing rumpled jeans and a gray Brown swim team t-shirt.
"What're you doing here?" she demanded, her hands on her hips. He didn't answer right away. He drank the milk left in the bowl, and he got up, going to the kitchen to rinse the bowl out. "Arnold?" He walked to the bathroom, and she followed him. "So, what? Now you're going to ignore me?"
She watched as he rinsed his mouth and took her bottle of wintermint mouthwash, pouring some into his mouth. He swished and spit, and he ran some water over his mouth. He knew which towel was hers, and he wiped his face. He walked back to the living room, turning off the TV.
He turned to face her. "I'm not ignoring you. I just wanted to look decent for you."
"Why did you do it?" she asked, feeling the tears come back.
"Testosterone can be a bastard," he said, sitting down on the arm rest of the couch. "Look, I don't know what had come over me to punch him, but I apologized."
She crossed her arms. "Why did you even go see him? How did you even know?"
He took a deep breath. "The last time we had sex during formal weekend, I woke up when you weren't in bed." D.A. walked out of her room right then, saw the two were talking, turned on her heel and walked back in, shutting the door behind her. "I got up when I heard you in the hall, and I overheard you leaving him a voicemail."
"You followed me, didn't you?" He nodded. "Arnold, if you knew I loved him, why didn't you just let me be happy?"
He looked down and back up at her, scratching the back of his neck where the ends of his hair brushed the skin. "Because I didn't like what...whatever it was you two had was doing to you. Phoebe, the man didn't love you, but you tortured yourself with the thought that if you stayed with him, he eventually would." Before she could ask how he figured all of that out, he said, "I know you too well, Phoebe. Even if you don't think so. I know you better than most people do."
"I was happy with what I had with him," she said, her tone soft.
"I know you think you were, but in the long run, it wasn't worth it." He reached out and gave her arm a squeeze. "I was just looking out for you because I love you."
She nodded and sniffled. "I know you do, Arnold. But you also have to remember that I still loved you after you broke up with me. You rejected me for two years after that, and before you came around in high school, you rejected me...even if you weren't aware of it." She sniffled again. "We were together for two years, Arnold. Two years. You would have stayed with me if you truly loved me like you say you do."
"What did you expect, Phoebe?" he asked, his tone a little harsh now, as he let go of her arm. "Did you expect us to get married at 18? Did you think we were going to be together forever at that point? I loved you, but I was scared!"
"Scared of what?" she cried. "I wanted to marry you, I admit it! I didn't care that I was 17; I wanted to be your wife!" She covered her face and took a deep shaking breath. She uncovered her face and wiped her eyes. "I know you were my first real boyfriend and my first love, but I wanted to be with you forever." She pushed her hair back and sniffled. "And for the first time in a long time, I felt wanted. Archibald made me feel wanted."
"'Wanted', Phoebe. Not 'needed'." He took a deep breath. "I was scared then of being with you like that, but I'm not now. I need you, and I love you. But..." He looked her square in the eye. "I'm willing to get out of your life if you want."
She raised her brows, surprised. She looked into his pale blue eyes, knowing he was serious, and she reached for his hand. "I don't want that." She cracked a half-smile. "I don't know what I would do if Arnold Matthew Perlstein wasn't in my life."
"You need your annual dose of pretty nerd-boy," he said with a grin. Still holding her hand, he gave her a gentle pop on the belly. "At least being with an older guy who's a teacher gave you some more..." He gave her a seductive, yet goofy, grin. "Education."
She blushed. "Shut up. He was great, but...I did teach him a thing or two."
He raised his brows. "Oh, really? Like what?"
It was her turn to pop him with their linked hands. "I'm not telling you!"
He got up, a small smile on his face. "Fair enough. But anyway...I'll give you time to yourself." He let go of her hand, and he slipped his shoes on and grabbed his hoodie. "I'll just head back to the house."
He started for the front door, and Phoebe reached for his shoulder. "Arnold, wait."
He turned around. "Yeah?"
"Can I still bring you lunch?"
He smiled. "Only if you want to."
She nodded. "I want to. And I will." She kissed his cheek.
"I'll see you around, Pheebs." He headed for the front door, and before he opened it, he said, "Sorry for everything."
With that, he walked out.
"You lucky...lucky...skinny sonavabitch," Wanda sighed.
The girls were out at lunch later that day at a deli in downtown Providence. Phoebe told them about her little affair with Archibald, Keesha and Wanda a little ticked that she didn't tell them sooner. Keesha started to understand why, but Wanda, on the other hand...
"Why couldn't you have told us?" she went on. "I want to hear what sex with an older man is like! The oldest guy I've had sex with was 23!"
Keesha laughed. "Wanda wanting sex advice from Phoebe...now I've heard everything."
Wanda shot her a look. "I don't want advice...just details."
D.A. popped a chip in her mouth. "Well, Pheebs, you know, I think what Arnold did was pretty romantic...barbaric and thoughtless, yes, but also romantic."
"Arnold punching someone is always hot," Keesha said. "Mostly because he hardly ever does it and those veins in his arms pop out even more."
D.A. nodded. "So glad I'm not the only one who finds a guy's arm veins sexy."
"Whodoesn't find it sexy?" Wanda asked, laughing. "Ralphie's were pretty sexy, too."
Keesha nodded. "He does have sexy arms."
Wanda closed her eyes and shook her shoulders. "Mm, a guy's arms are the sexiest, non-sexual part of a guy." She snapped her fingers. "Oh! Back to Phoebe's older-man-sex. What was it like?"
Phoebe furrowed her brow. "I'm not going to go into detail about our love making, okay?"
"You used to when you had sex with Arnold," Keesha said.
Phoebe's cheeks went red. "That was only to shut Wanda up because she kept making comments about how she almost had sex with him."
"I did!" Wanda argued. "Almost!"
D.A. looked at her watch and got up. "Sorry to eat and bail, but I have class soon." She put her portion of the bill on the table, and she walked out.
She got in her 450SL roadster, and she drove to the Brown campus, parking in her sorority's out-of-house portion of their parking lot. She grabbed her book bag, and she headed to her class. She put her headphones in, and she enjoyed the April breeze blowing through her hair. She felt a tap on her shoulder, and she saw Arnold walking beside her.
"Where're you going?" he asked when she took her headphones out.
She studied his expression, and she reached for his hand, giving a small squeeze. She grinned and said, "Phoebe may come around."
He shook his head. "I think it's finally over between us. I hurt her pretty bad."
"There's a part of Phoebe that will always love you, Arnold...even if she'll never admit it."
"I suppose I can date around," he said, squeezing her hand back. "Get myself into the dating swing of things."
She laughed. "You've been with a lot of women, Arn. I doubt you need to get yourself back 'into the swing of things'." She held up her other hand. "I don't mean that in a sexual deviant, pervy, skeezy way."
He smiled, understanding. "Thanks, D.A."
She swung their hands, getting his attention. "Wanna get a coffee after class?"
He nodded. "That sounds excellent. Lab's over at two."
"I get out at two-thirty. I have another class right after psych."
He squeezed her hand before letting go of it. "I'll see you then."
He turned to go to the hall his lab was, and D.A. called out, "Hey, Arn..." He stopped and turned around. "Phoebe'll come around. Don't worry."
He gave her a wink. "I hope not for a while."