hey ya'll! thanx for reading up on my little fic. I decided I wanted to continue. I'm not putting this as a second chapter to The Way Things Happened, Honestly, because the first part was so great it was a complete story in itself. I don't want to mar it with sequels...and such.....this next part is for those who wanted to find out what happened then. I appreciate those that took the time to lemme know what they thought. keep on! hope you enjoy the next part.
disclaimer....I only own the story bit , if you sue me you'll get shit. and so on...
It's a flat day; the sky is flat, low and gray, my thoughts are flat. I can feel the scratch-squeak of the chalk as it writes on the board, grating my bones, waiting, watching the mean hands of the clock as they move in slow agony.
I look at her, and she's the only thing in perspective, in full living color. She breathes and moves, crossing her ankles and shifting in her chair softly, the only thing alive. The rest of us are just flat, gray creatures frozen in our chairs, the yolks of our eyeballs following the chalk across the board as it scratches out meaningless symbols. She's breathing proof, and I can hear her skin as it brushes against the dark pink sweater she's wearing. I feel her heart beating inside me, but on the outside, I feel nothing at all. It's just another flat day.
A cold draft swirls around our ankles. The school's got the heating messed up again, and I feel the chill curling and brushing cool fingers against my legs. It turned autumn a couple of days ago, the short days of Indian Summer fading as quick as the falling leaves. It was only a week ago that we won the tournament in Nagasaki. I remember only odd moments of intense happiness, seeing the ball swish through the hoop cleanly and precisely, as though I had calculated the geometric angle, climbed a ladder, and dropped it thorough in perfect timing and distance from all sides of the rim. I remember the confusion of arms and hair and the soft skin of her cheek against mine in a rushed moment as she threw her arms around me in celebration; time sped through a tunnel, leaving the memory short, cool, and devoid of emotion. It was only when I awoke in the middle of the night that I felt it burning inside like it did in that second, and I'd flip my pillow over to the cool side and try to remember what it was like. But I never could, as hard as I tried.
I'm not sure of what I feel, the width and depth of it; I feel only her, throbbing inside me like a rhythm, and I find myself tapping my fingers on my desk in time to her unconsciously. Ka-ri, Ka-ri, KA-ri, ka-ri. ka-
The bell rings.
She turns and I feel her smile before I even see it, and suddenly, things seem to come back into dimension and perspective. Things are still slightly flat, but in this city-founded building always needing fresh paint and more desks, they always slightly are.
The tired teacher waves us out, wearily picking up her coffee, and opening her desk drawer. She keeps a bottle of vodka in there that she likes to slip in her Folger's, particularly when we make it rough.
I know cause me and Davis got put in detention once, and when she went for a cigarette break, we got halfway drunk just looking for an eraser. She's our favorite teacher.
I grin, thinking of the frosty bottle, and then turn to see Kari glaring at me.
She saw me looking at the drawer and read my mind again, and, as always, is angry because drinking is such a wrong thing to do.
Did I neglect to mention she was in detention with us that day? We had to halfway carry her home, and even then, she insisted to waving to "all the nice people" on the sidewalk and threw up on the bus.
She swears she didn't do it, but we remember. She says she doesn't, hoping we'll believe she was too stoned to, but I think she does. She just doesn't want to admit it.
I could kill him. I know what he's thinking, and I want to take him out to the middle of a cornfield and feed him to mad cows. Except, we don't have cornfields in Japan. She had alligator skin pumps; the lady who I threw up on, that is. I remember them because I saw them fast approaching before the contents of the school mystery meat engulfed them. I knew I shouldn't have eaten it; I was just so damn hungry.
It's cold, and my bones are completely chilled; I want to crawl underneath his black, hooded sweatshirt and stay there for a thousand years. Even then, I might not be warm. I grin at the thought of sliding underneath it, popping my head out through the neckhole next to his, and wrapping my arms around his warm waist. I can almost see his face; then, I realize I'm grinning like an idiot, and he has one eyebrow raised.
"What are you cheesin' about?" he says casually, unwrapping a piece of gum and popping it in his mouth.
"Nothing.." I gulp, and feel stupid from my toes to the tips of my split ends.
He grins cheerfully, and elbows me.
"Aw, come one, you look like the worshipped captain of some team just said hi to you or you just won a trip to see NSYNC something....."
I narrow my eyes.
"So basically you're saying I look like a star struck little freshman....."
"Hey!!!" I hear the cheerful call from across the hallway, and see Davis walking over.
"Hey, a captain of some team did say hi!" I laugh, and throw a semi-hug in his direction.
We all walk towards the lunch room, chatting lightly about the day; but it's too cold to really talk, so we just talk about how cold it is.
"Why the hell does it feel like they've got the AC on in this school! Where's the heat???!!"
yells Davis, and a couple of heads turn curiously. He throws a smile in their direction, and they can't help smiling back, because it's Davis. Never shy, never cares, always up for some attention. He loves creating scenes, mock fights, boo-downs in the caf, playing his suave, charming self on every single girl and starting riots. He's our class's regular bad boy, and we love him all the better for it.
"They're probably saving the heat for summer. That's why they have the AC on now. We always do things here a little early....." chatters TK through almost colorless lips.
"Dumb fucks," mutters Davis. Then, "Hi Mr. Fujyiama!"
We grin amongst ourselves. He can get away with anything.
I sigh, and pull my hands up in my sweater sleeves.
"It's times like these I wish I had a boyfriend or something to keep me warm."
They both burst out laughing. I hate the way they do that. They always gang up on me.
"Kari," says Davis through some chuckles, "you could have any poor bastard. Take your pick."
I punch him in the arm lightly, and he smiles back, friendly.
"Here," he grins amiably. "You can share my jacket."
It's one of those down parkas, the puffy stitched down style. He got it as a joke, cause he said we didn't have enough thugs at our school. In the spirit of friendliness I slip half of myself in the free sleeve he offers, and so we walk into the cafeteria laughing like an awkward four legged monster.
I see Davis throw a teasing grin my way as we walk in the swinging doors, and I answer with a mock fist; we joke between us privately, never really discussing the subject but understanding it in a way that only guys can. We always make fun of him about how he used to like Kari so much, but we'll always be tight, the three of us. He understands how it stands now without even asking; but he likes to play around and torture me some. It's a reminder of the old days I guess, and I don't mind. Deep in the back of my head, I wish I could do stuff like that half as casually as he does. Davis is too busy being bad boy to like Kari anymore. Cody transferred to another school, and Yolei and Kari are best friends. When Yolei lost the glasses, got contacts and started wearing some awesome outfits, she instantly elevated in rank. However, she did not change the friendly, airheaded but sweet personality. Ken and Davis are still tight, part of their soccer group. Together, they make a devastating duo, breaking hearts and winning right and left. We all get together weekends and holidays and whenever. We've knitted our own society in a sort of way.
Me, I'm just me. Davis and Ken would always be yelling at me, amazed that I didn't see all the girls clinging to me or amazed that I didn't care. Personally, I never saw myself as anything special, never thought anyone really liked me, and never really cared. These aren't the things that matter to me in life. What matters to me are my circle of friends, my game, and her.
Nobody knows that, except the old man that was sitting next to me on the bus stop bench.
I scratched the heart slow and awkward with a pen I had in my bag; a crooked arrow followed.
He smiled at me with an eternal wisdom, his wrinkles falling pleasantly to the side. I knew he understood, so I smiled back, and felt shy at the same time.
T......scratch, scratch scratch.....K.
I looked back at him, but he was respectfully looking forward. I felt a certain odd gratitude as his gnarled, arthritic fingers peacefully folded on his lap, and unfolded again. He knew so much...yet said so little. I wanted to tell him suddenly, tell him everything; mint, gin on ice, I like messy hair, she said, goodnight. and get me down! flying through a warm night, two friends laughing and dancing on a warm blacktop. My lips formed the words silently as my sore fingers etched them into the worn, clear plastic.
+...... and, and I whisper, concentrating.
My pen leaks a little, leaving a small ink stain on the callus on my middle finger.
r.................i, barely fitting.
T.K. + Kari.
I look over at the old man, proud, half-ashamed, and I can feel a slight blush redden one side of my cheek. I rub at it, and look back at my little drawing.
He turns and looks, as though to evaluate it; he nods, acknowledging it and thus sealing it. He believes. I believe. And somehow, that's enough for me to make it true.
The R4 comes and I climb on it, leaving me and Kari quietly clinging to the plastic, declaring my silent proclamation. I don't have the courage to yell it out loud; so I leave it written in small crooked letters. For now, it's enough. It's all I can do. Only he knows how much she matters. Only him, and God knows where he is. But in that silent moment of understanding between us, I saw the truth clearly. The 17 year old with the ruffled blonde hair, Jordans on my feet and basketball on top of my chem book, and the old, wrinkled man who had tasted love and embraced it whole, who remembered what it was like to be 17 in October. I still don't understand it, but it was that moment that years were spanned and millions of memories were simplified into a simple, innocent question in his eyes.
Do you really love her?
"TK!" I yell, and shake him.
"Huh?" he responds, dazed.
"Drugs in your food?" I giggle, looking at his confused expression. "You drifted off for a moment there. Why're you so quiet?" I ask, amicably.
He rubs the back of his head, then yawns, plunking his elbows down on the table.
"Tired, I guess," he replies with a hazy grin.
Suddenly, I notice that there are slightly dark circles under his eyes. Concern nudges me a little bit, and I wonder how late he was up last night doing homework after practice.
"TK, you getting enough sleep? I know they're working you pretty hard, with regionals and all...but ..."
"Shut up," he smiles wide and warm.
He hates it when I worry about him. He told me once I don't need to waste my time on something like that, it wasn't worth it. Maybe he doesn't think it is.
Yolei and Ken are spewing back and forth details of last week's bash in auto speed; they can't agree on two details.
"Kara was wearing a Marc Jacobs dress with the back slit.."
"Fuck Mark Jake whatever. Kara was wearing no shirt when she dropped out of that closet."
"God Ken! Focus!"
"She might've been wearing a designer bra....." grinned Ken.
"Ooh, do tell. Was it Calvin Klein?"
"What!" choked Yolei, waving a fork in a orchestra conductor fashion. "He was the guy in the closet with her?"
"Oh, no, you know Davis. He's a gentleman. He was..uh,....helping her put her shirt back on?" laughed Ken, leaning back in his seat, propping his feet on the other side of the booth.
"The hell he was," muttered Yolei darkly into her curried rice and chaij. Her latest kick was health food.
"Sure I was," said Davis smartly, sliding over to Ken and Yolei. "Surely you believe me. CLEARLY, I was only trying to help.
"Oh but CLEARLY you were wearing Mocha Choca lipstick on your neck......" smirked Ken.
TK and I joined them in their spacious booth. Years ago, some local fast food restaurants went out of business. Our cheap school bought all their furniture at a low price and thus decked out the cafeteria in the gaudy reds and yellows; benches for four with tables joined in the middle, adjoined with another booth, this time with spinning chairs. It was a low-class marvel, accentuating the peeling paint beautifully. However, it was more comfortable than tables and no one complained.
"How do you know it was mocha choca?" contemplated Davis, stabbing Yolei's rice with a plastic fork. "Tasted more like raspberry to me."
"Hah!" yelled Yolei, giggling. "You CLEARLY just did yourself in. Thanks Ken, you are a genius."
Ken waved it off with a generous gesture, and valiantly faced Davis' glare.
"Don't mention it," replied Ken smoothly, popping a Sprite open.
"Davis, when are you going to become decent? Your mother would be ashamed of you......" I grin.
"That's why my mom doesn't know!" he replies smartly, through a mouth of Yolei's food.
Suddenly, his face contorts, and he spews the contents of his mouth on a napkin.
"EEWWWW!" me and Yolei scream in unison as the guys laugh.
His face mashed itself into a grossed out texture, as he quickly gulped down some of the Sprite.
"Yolei! Since when have you take up eating shit! I know you have a little problem with diet fads, but scooping the toilets is not cool. I can promise you there's nothing nutritious there."
And on that note ended lunch that day, as Yolei smacked Davis, the cafeteria monitor tripped over Davis' foot, his hand smacking down on the plate of rice, tossing it in the air and on his head, and me and TK laughing all the way to Literature class.
When we step outside, the sky opens up and blesses us, the flat bottoms of the colorless clouds pouring chilly rain on our shoulders. We run, but it's a matter of seconds before the damp cold sets into our clothes, into our skin, into our bags; she tiptoes around puddles, finally giving up and splashing through them with a careless abandon and a smile that puts toothpaste commercials to shame. Yolei drags her into the bus, but her hair's already plastered in damp streaks and ringlets, painted on her face and clinging to her neck. She's laughing, and the slight humidity of the chill rain meeting the warm skin hovers close to her when she passes me. With a shake and a rattle, the bus is off, and she stumbles, grabbing on to me.
The miserable, silent people on the bus look straight forward like statues. Belongings gathered at their feet, ankles crossed in hopes of somehow gaining some warmth, they stare at her enviously. She floats above them all, safe and proud and clean like silver, while they seem to trudge on through everlasting mud. Every step they take is damp, plastic agony, shoes sliding on the slick floor, a grocery bag slamming against their shin; a curse of pain, and a sigh of relief as they sink into the uncomfortable seat. Yet, there she is, standing on her tiptoes in a way only Kari can, with all the grace of a slim, pampered kitten; she eyes laugh, her beautiful, curious mouth laughs, and she wraps rain-damp fingers around the metal pole. The bus lurches, throwing the people forward slightly. She is unmoved, and they resent that. I'm proud of her, I want to tell them all that she's my friend-and that she maybe loves me.
Hurriedly, we descend the unsteady bus steps as the doors squeak, the hot motor spits out it's gray breath and the people crowd in around us. Fumbling at the door of my apartment, come on! drop the key, ok, one more lock, ...
"Come on!" she whispers impatiently, and apologizes with a wide smile all in one breath.
We pour into my apartment, exhausted; slamming the door against the cold, wet draft, I shiver and turn around.
"Let's get the heat on.." mutters Davis, making a beeline for the thermostat.
We shake off our coats like dogs shake water off; teeth chattering, she jumps on the couch and tucks her feet under a sofa cushion like always.
Yolei's making hot tea and toasting some pop-tarts in our kitchenette. I hear a rattle back in my room that I assume to be Davis looking to borrow a hair dryer. A slight chuckle wells up in my throat, and her eyes tell me she's thinking the same thing.
"Got a hairdryer?" comes the disembodied voice, floating down the hall. She giggles, and Ken walks out of the bathroom, yawning.
"It's days like this that make me want to go to sleep and never wake up," he says, and flops on the recliner. His eyes look a clear, weird shade of lavender in the dim, gray light floating through the window. The whole room is cool and clear gray, nobody's turned on a lamp.
"Somebody turn on some lights. It feels like rain in here." I hear Kari say lazily. Then, "Gracias." through a mouthful of pop-tart.
The TV quietly drones, giving a warm background sound, making the apartment more cozy. I feel the room start to warm up, and the hot tea warms up my toes. Golden lamplight reflects off our faces as we lay back and relax, getting comfortable and chatting about the school day. I fade back into the couch, quiet, so I can study her out of the corner of my eye. Her hands paint pictures in the air that she colors with bright smiles as she talks; her animation and excitement fill me and warm me, quietly smoothing out the wrinkles and knots on my features. I can feel myself mellow with every magic word, the TV quietly putting me to sleep, and I feel like I'm already dreaming as I survey the scene. Propping my feet up on the coffee table, I snatch a cushion from her to make myself comfortable.
Suddenly, I'm trapped into a little world of her, as her hair envelops my face, her laughing mouth inches from mine; she struggles to grab the cushion back, and I feel strands of brown silk brush my face in a breathtaking proximity. I don't understand, it all happened too fast, and the picture stops spinning as one thing comes into focus: her eyes.
The clear amber brown pools settle, trapping my image inside them and preserving it as though for centuries to come; the dark brown fringes sweep nervously and quickly across them. They're bright and sad, and hold mine completely. I forget where I am, and dumbly listen only to her softly jumbled words as they pour out of that mouth.
"You're already comfortable..." she says, somewhat confused.
The room is silent, and they're watching, but I don't see them. I struggle to break away, but my eyes refuse to budge, and she's nervous, biting her lip.
"You're always comfortable," she continues, sounding lost, and with great difficulty, removes her eyes.
Nobody says a word; their conversation is suddenly frozen, as they watch.
A slight pallor is on her face, then, a light blush; she's conscious and aware in her innocence, but does not seem to notice the surrounding world. Suddenly, she grabs the sofa pillow and sinks away from me back to her corner of the couch, a bright, uncomfortable smile on her face.
Everyone sits there for a second, dumbstruck.
She just told me she loved me, out loud, and they know it.
"More pop-tarts?" offers Yolei quickly, with that perennial grace. We let out our breath and smile, nodding, Ken turns up the TV and Davis starts telling Kari about the freshman who's stalking him. Her giggles resound, but I haven't moved yet; there's a smile on my face though, wide and warm, slow and beautiful that just keeps spreading, and I close my eyelids for a second so I can trap the moment in my memory forever; 4:35......Tuesday...second week......of October.
I love you too.
Breathe, ok, in and out, breathe-in breathe-out, can I GET SOME air, oh it's not fair at all!
My fingers are fluttering, distracted; my eyes keep flickering back to his features, watching his knowing smile peacefully shine out. He doesn't look at me for anything, it's already done, he knows, they know, and I don't care at all. I don't give a shit, I'll spraypaint it on the side of the school for everybody to see.
Love, you, love you yes I did, I do, Did you hear me?
I said I love you.
Ok, quick, think of something, Poker!
"C'mon Davis, let's get a game going. You still have yet to defeat me..." I grin, and bounce up, pulling up my ever-present pack of cards. We deal quick, and amidst the confusion of cards and competition, the sense of normalcy comes back and the panic of the moment lessens and lessens. Soon, we're all laughing, as they watch the intense war between me and Davis.
I flip my hair back, slowly; lick my dry lips, tilt my head to the side and let out a curious "hmmm". Ruffling my cards, I throw a despairing glance, and then, pretend to consider my options. The look on his face makes me want to laugh so bad; he thinks he's got me, and the sheer anticipation reflected off his features starts giggles in the back of my throat.
"Looks like I've got no choice," I sigh, melodramatically, and plunk down my cards.
"Whaaaaaat!!!!! MAAAAN!" yells Davis, laughter, moans, resounding across the room. The miserably defeated darling slumps down in the recliner his face in his hands.
"It's not fair! You're cheating, I know you are." he groans, glaring at me.
"Just be glad we aren't playing strip poker," I say, smugly, shuffling the cards, ziiiiip, smack, snap snap, ziiiiiip......
"Oh my God, got to go home!" says Yolei suddenly, grabbing her pack. "I'm so late," she moans, and with a thump of the door, she's gone.
We glance at the clock; it's five. Davis and Ken look at each other, and we pretend we don't see.
"We should really get going. Taking the bus home?" says Ken, getting up and stretching.
"Adios amigos," waves Davis, the sly look on his face tempting me. I want to punch his lights out, but at the same time, I'm somehow delighted with him.
The sound of the door closing sends a tiny tremble through my bones; it's quiet in the apartment, and I don't want to turn around because then I'd have to see his face. So I slide towards the kitchenette quickly, back turned, and focus on the small grease stain on the stove. Quick, say something...
"Did you go to last weekend's party?" I ask in an unconcerned tone, the words dancing out of my mouth in their complacency. "I heard it got really out of control....by the way, I hope you're not drinking at those things. Should you become vulnerable, you're likely to get raped.....too many rabid cheerleaders......." Ok Kari get it together........ "How're you getting home today? I think the rain's let up.."
And then I feel his breath ever so slightly on the side of my neck, and I don't move; hold very still, very still, don't-
"Really?" and there's a slightly amused tone to his voice that scares me, because he knows what I'm doing. Slowly, he takes the sponge out of my hand, and looks at it curiously.
"Why're you cleaning my stove?" he asks again, and I hate him, because I feel like an idiot, but I know it's just punishment for that moment on the couch; 4:35......Tuesday...
"Because there was a spot...." I say, near tears, but not really. I think my voice shook a little bit, but I'm unsteady. I wish he'd move away, he's standing oh-so-way too close and I can't think when he does that.......
His hand is wrapping around my arm softly, and I feel the gentle pressure as he urges me to turn around; but my feet are glued and they refuse to budge, my GOD why are they acting so childish??? I swear, I would turn around, but my feet are glued to the floor. I'm about to tell him that when I hear the low, warm laugh.
"You can't stay like that forever," he says, and I hate him for it because I know he's right. Face your fears, ok, turn and fight your lions or whatever.....this is way too serious! It's just TK, and I repeat those words in my head over and over again, to reassure myself, and you know what? It kinda works.
I laugh too, and casually turn around, my nice and friendly casual laugh dying in a heartbeat when I see his face....and I think something's going-to-happen-right-.....now....wait.....now....ok, there it is, and his mouth is warm, and it tastes like strawberry pop-tart and want, or maybe need.
There's only a sense of stillness when I kiss her, and a weakness flooding me that I can't fight. I have-to have-to have.......that which, ....I can't..........mygod.....
It's only one tiny step backwards, and the whole world drops away five inches; she looks down, slightly flushed and unbelieving, nervous movement, her knuckles white as they hold on to the countertop, and then,
"I'm sorry," she stumbles, the words falling out, and the butterfly lashes take flight nervously, as she studies the plastic tile on the floor with a passionate focus. Something's ripe on my lips, ready to drop out, but it refuses to, and the words I was about to say are lost forever into some uncertain place where lost words go. I rub the back of my neck and run a hand through my hair, tilting my head back and allowing that huge smile to hit my face. Small trembles echo through me, reminder of the feeling that pulsed under my veins seconds ago, and I want to laugh! with relief, ....with....
She slips into the living room, and grabs her bag quick, then, her coat, eyes down floating quick towards the doorway; for a second, I believed I had imagined it all.
"Kari-" I call out, short and nervous.
She turns slowly, the huge amber orbs settling on me, and I approach her, fixated on them.
There's a little bit of terror mixed in, with a little bit of shame; but underneath it all, I see a huge smile waiting to come out, and a tiny circles rippling outward in the amber pools; it's the current, I know, cause I felt it on her lips in that one split second when they fought back, needing, wanting something from me, lingering soft and damp against mine. Reassured, I smile and stand back.
"Need an umbrella?" I ask, fingertips throbbing.
A tiny smile is playing on the corner of her mouth, now disappearing, wait, there it is again! and she shakes her head no, and closes the door behind her, leaving me alone.
I finally breathe, my lungs burning, slightly dizzy, and lay down on the couch with my eyes closed. It's already starting to fade, but I struggle to keep it, tasting it over and over again. The TV drones on in the background, reminding me that I'm still here.
Otherwise, I would have hardly believed it.