Zoey leaned forward in the driver's seat, narrowing her eyes to see through the rain that was pummeling the car's windshield, the windshield wipers working as fiercely as they could and still losing the battle. She already the radio turned off, was focusing all of her senses on driving safely, and was trying to avoid hydroplaning. The hollers and noise from the backseat continually distracted Zoey, impairing her driving ability, and caused her to snap her head around for a brief second to look at the two boys in the backseat.
"Chase, Matthew, stop it!"
The voice that boomed out of the female in her mid-twenties, which sounded more like a drill sergeant than the kind mother she was, had both boys immediately sitting upright in their seat. The slightly taller of the two boys rubbed his bushy hair, staring through the rearview mirror at his mother, making a puppy dog look with his big brown eyes as his voice held hints of sadness.
"I'm sorry mom."
Zoey let out a sigh, letting the stern look fall off her face as she shook her head slightly.
"It's okay Matthew; it's just really hard for mom to drive when you guys are having a wrestling match in the backseat."
Zoey looked back into the rearview mirror at both of her children for a brief moment, Chase also stating, "Sorry mom." Zoey smiled at her children lovingly through the mirror for a moment before returning her gaze towards the sheets of rain that were getting hurled towards the windshield.
There were no more distractions and Zoey was able to drive in peace for a good ten minutes even though the rain didn't let up. Zoey kept her eyes on the road, but could hear a slightly off tempo but rhythmic thud that was Matthew kicking the back off the passenger seat as Chase looked out the rain streaked window with his forehead pressed against it. Knowing they were growing increasingly bored, Zoey decided to keep their attention.
"We are getting close guys…do you want to play a game or something?"
Chase immediately sat up in his seat, his voice showing his excitement.
"Yeah, can we play alphabet mom?!"
Before Zoey could agree, Matthew retorted towards his brother while rolling his eyes.
"We can't see anything out the windows, and there aren't any signs."
Chase stuck his tongue out at his brother, who quickly leaned over in his seat against the pull of his seatbelt to grab Chase around the upper body and head in a chokehold. Before they could return to their full out brawl, Zoey once again reprimanded the boys.
Just as before, the boy's both sat up in their seats, Chase and Matthew shooting each other angry stares as they apologized to their mother. Breaking his stare with his Matthew, Chase looked into the rearview mirror at his mother.
"Mom, can you tell us a story?"
Matthew looked at his brother and nodded with a smile on his face, liking his brother's second idea. Zoey nodded her head, still maintaining her vision on the road as she tried her best to see clearly through the rain which was finally starting to subside somewhat, as she lowered the rate at which the windshield wipers rolled across the windshield.
"Sure…how about…Goldilocks and-"
Before his mother could finish her statement, Matthew expressed his disapproval.
"No mom, that one is for little kids…and we have heard it a hundred times."
Zoey let out a sigh as she searched her brain for another story or idea while Chase agreed with his twin sibling.
"Yeah mom, tell us a new one."
Matthew and Chase stared at one another, nodding, before looking up at the seat their mother was sitting in.
Zoey nodded, turning on her turn signal and looking at all her mirrors before changing the car's path on the road.
Matthew sat up in his seat, not allowing his mother to finish as he asked a question.
"Hey mom, isn't this where you met dad?"
Zoey let out a sigh filled with sadness that the twins did not pick up one as she looked at them in the rearview mirror and nodded her head.
Chase mirrored his brother's action, sitting upright in his seat excitedly.
"Tell us that one mom!"
Zoey nodded her head, letting out another sigh as she allowed another smile to cross her face as tons of emotions and memories, most happy and uplifting but a few gut wrenchingly painful, sprouted up in her thoughts.
Both boys leaned up in their seat, neither one of the hyperactive youngsters saying a word as they got lost in the story their mom was them.
"It was my first day at PCA…grandpa was dropping me off there just like I am with you guys no. I was waiting by the car for grandpa and that's when your father came up…riding his bicycle and smashed right into a flagpole."
Zoey allowed a laugh to fall out of her lips a split second after her children began laughing, waves of happiness and nostalgia washing over her as she remembered her early times with Chase, the simple ones that were all happy. Zoey leaned forward in her seat to see more vertically out of the windshield, turning the windshield wipers off completely as the rain quit and the sun shone brightly as it appeared from its hiding place behind a few clouds. Shaking her head slightly, Zoey let out a small laugh to herself as she continued her story, not allowing her mind to wonder on how particularly symbolic the weather was acting that day.
"Anyways, his name was Chase and he had been a student there…"
Matthew looked over at Chase, who smiled at his brother upon hearing that he was named after his father. Just as quickly, both boys returned their attention to their mother's story.
"…for a while and he offered to show me to my room. Grandpa wasn't really happy about it but he let me walk with him anyway."
Zoey leaned back in the driver's seat a little, relaxing as the weather and therefore her driving conditions improved, continuing her stories and allowing the memories to come flooding back to her.
Zoey wasn't sure what happened first, if she let out a loud, "Chase!" or if she snapped her eyes open. Regardless, by the time everything had slowed back down and she started to take in her surroundings, Zoey realized that she was snuggled tightly against her boyfriend's masculine chest, his bulging arm wrapping around her as he looked at her with concern on his face.
"Baby, you okay…nightmare?"
Zoey closed her eyes, relief rushing through her veins as she wrapped her hand around Chase's neck and placed her head firmly against Chase's chest, letting out deep breaths as Chase could hear her heart pounding.
Before Chase could comfort her, tell her that everything was okay, that he was there and he wasn't going anywhere for that matter, she removed her head from his chest, placing her other hand around his neck also as she quickly showered his with kisses that he happily accepted. After they broke apart, Zoey still holding onto Chase's neck tightly, more concern rose up in Chase as he tear that was rolling gently down Zoey's cheek.
Zoey shook her head, fighting off the horrible dream she had as she sadness was apparent on her pouting face.
"Chase it was horrible….I dreamed that you were-"
Chase shook his head, his voice holding nothing but a loving and supportive tone for his girlfriend.
"Shhh, it was just a dream baby…I'm here…I'm right here, and I'm not going anywhere."
Zoey nodded her head, replying, "I know" as she finally shook off the remainder of the panic, heartbreak, and fear the dream had instilled in her. Gently, Zoey shifted her body until she was back in her position leaning against Chase's shoulder. Chase intertwined the fingers of the hand he had wrapped around Zoey's waist with her hand that was in reach, all the while looking around the lounge that they had fallen asleep in, watching TV on the couch with their friends.
Chase let out a soft laugh as he looked over to where Michael and Lola were sitting beside them, both of them now fast asleep. They had both fallen towards one another in their sleep, their shoulders and sides of their heads touching as they slumbered. Randomly, one of their heads would slouch and slide down towards the other one's neck, causing the other's head to fall into an equally awkward position as it lost its support and landed on top of their head. Still sleeping, they would both shift around, letting out a few sounds in their sleep, until they had returned their bodies to their position against one another for physical support. As soon as they got back against one another, the other's momentum would cause them to slide down a little, and it would continue.
Zoey looked over towards Lola and Michael, letting out a soft "Awww" at how cute it was, even if they were asleep and completely unaware they were doing it. After about a minute, Zoey grew bored watching Michael and Lola flirt in their sleep, and turned her head back towards Chase and snuggled into his body more, allowing her grogginess to take back over as Chase felt her begin to fall back asleep.
Shortly after Zoey lost interest, Chase did as well, focusing on the big screen TV that was on in front of him. It was some movie, he known he had seen the previews before it a while back, about some teacher in a bad part of a city that taught the kids in her class to become great writers or something, the girl that played who played that boxer in Million Dollar Baby played the teacher. Regardless, the fact that he started watching it midway through the movie, it was a boring scene, and he had no idea what was going on besides the main point of the movie, caused Chase to quickly lose interest and look around the room.
His eyes fell on Logan, in a similar position to what he was with Zoey with Quinn, as she was fast asleep resting against his shoulder. He noticed that Logan seemed tired as well, his eyes only halfway open as he watched the movie in silence.
"Not really your type of movie."
Logan looked over at Chase, opening his eyes fully as he let out a yawn before replying to Chase's comment.
Chase repeated himself; it was obvious Logan wasn't paying much attention to anything, not even the movie.
"I said…this ain't really your type of movie…no car chases, explosions, nothing…"
Logan shrugged his shoulders slightly, trying not to wake Quinn.
"Nothing's on…you know we could have went out tonight."
Chase shrugged his shoulders, also trying to not wake his girlfriend, as he nodded and replied.
"True…but I would rather spend time with our group…now that it is finally a group again and all."
Logan didn't look at Chase, his eyes on the television screen in front of him, but nodded.
"Yeah, I guess."
Chase knew that Logan didn't really feel like having a conversation, and neither did he, so he turned his attention back towards the screen. After seeing what was on the screen, Chase shot his eyes back over towards Logan, who didn't notice as he nonchalantly watched the movie. He shook his head, not really surprised considering how Logan had admitted it during their almost fight two nights before where Chase quit denying that he loved Zoey, but at least now he knew why Logan was actually watching the movie.
Chase had seen the actress who was on the screen now a few times on TV, she was a pretty decent actor, and he knew she had done some movies; however, he didn't realize she was in this one. He tried to think of the actresses' full name, but after not remembering after a few seconds Chase gave up. It was Kristine Herrarya or Herrera or something, he wasn't sure. However, Chase was sure about one thing. It wasn't as if they were twins, but, the actress definitely looked like Dana.
Chase let out a quiet chuckle to himself as he closed his eyes, shaking his head slightly at Logan as he remembered back to a more upbeat part of his return to London before school started.
Chase couldn't believe that he had just paid seven dollars for a large coffee, his day was not exactly going great. He didn't even like coffee, but the store was the quickest way to get out of the torrential downpour and he quickly found out that the store's policy was if you wanted to sit down in the café', you had to be a customer. Chase cursed under his breath as he handed over a ten dollar bill to the cashier and received less than half of it back for something that was worth less than half of what he paid.
Chase was lost deep in thought as he stared out into the rainy street from his position at one of the tables against the windows that made up the entire wall, soaking wet all the while as even though he was out of the rain he had been running through it for at least twenty seconds trying to find a store he could go into to escape the downpour. To make it even worse, he could have been in a taxi at that precise moment, completely dry, heading towards where Nasty was imprisoned, but he wasn't.
It had been four days since he had arrived in London with his mother, and only three days until he went back to California, and he was still no closer to finding any of the answers that he came overseas with. Instead, he was halfway through his "vacation", drenched to the bone, sulking in a corner of an internet café', sipping on a black beverage that tasted like ass to be polite, Chase was by no means having a good day.
A tap on his shoulder snapped Chase out of his deep thought. Not turning around, Chase immediately grew agitated at the female voice that came from right behind him.
"Hey, do you mind if I sit down with you?"
Her voice sounded sexy at the least, and Chase normally would have obliged her request, if she looked half as good as her voice sounded. Of course, in his current mood he opted for merely ignoring her and hoping she would go away.
"Hey, can I sit with you?"
Chase gritted his teeth, letting out a scoff as he continued to stare out into the rain, intent on ignoring her no matter what now on purpose. Again, Chase felt a tap on his shoulder which caused the anger in him to fly through the roof.
Before Chase could register that the female may have known him, considering she knew his name, Chase snapped around in his seat, his voice coming out bitter and rude.
"Will you just go away!?"
Instantly, the anger on Chase's face fell away as he recognized the girl in front of him with caramel curls and tanned skin that accented them. Chase allowed a small smirk to appear on his face as he hopped down a few inches from his seat to the ground, closing the distance between the girl and himself to a few feet. Dana mirrored Chase's smirk as gave Chase an appraising glance from head to toe.
"Yeah, I didn't recognize you at first, you've definitely changed."
Chase didn't even try to put on his new attitude, personality, or demeanor, immediately falling back into old lovable Chase mode for a brief second as he closed the distance and met his old friend in a huge hug.
Chase had wasted away another day that he could have been resolving things he intended to and confronting his demons, but he didn't feel nearly as bad making no progress towards his main goals this particular day as he had about the others.
Sure, it was almost seven in the afternoon, Dana and him well into their second hour of talking, but reconnecting with an old friend made him feel that he achieved something that particular day. They had talked about everything; how much Chase had changed, Logan and Quinn, James and Zoey, their time in PCA, each of their experiences in Europe, their families, and many other things.
Chase had even let down some of his barriers upon some prodding from Dana and told her some of the things that more important things that had transpired in the last few months of his life, even things having to do with Zoey.
Of course, he left out a lot of details. Things he didn't want anyone to know except himself, things he was to embarrassed or ashamed to say, and things that he was still trying to understand. Regardless, considering how little other people, even his closest friends and family, would become aware of even when school started Dana was well-informed.
Chase took a swig of what remained of his coffee, intent on drinking the entirety of something he paid entirely too much for even if it was rather horrible in his opinion. The contorted look on Chase's face of disgust immediately following his intake of his beverage caused Dana to laugh a little as she sipped a little of her cappuccino.
"You know, it's kind of funny…"
Dana rose an eyebrow at Chase's comment, quickly replying in a comical manner.
"What, that you could probably beat up half a dozen grown men at once now but you still can't drink black coffee?"
Chase let his mouth fall open for a second, quickly closing it as he gave her a slightly aggravated expression. They both laughed at Dana's comment and Chase let out a sigh, feeling a lot less stressed out than he did before Dana showed up.
"No, not that I still hate coffee, smart ass…"
Dana smiled and looked up towards the ceiling giving a mock innocent look towards Chase before returning her attention to Chase and listening to what he had to say.
"It's just…I guess deep down…well, people thought…that Logan and you…and Zoey and me would end up together…"
Dana nodded her head, her expression not easily readable by Chase.
"And…by people you mean…you did, right?"
Chase flinched, tilting his head about to interrogate Dana about why she thought that, but he quickly gave up. He had used her for an emotional outlet, even if only a little, for a few of the things that had been bugging him for months. He had let down some of his walls…it was only natural that Dana, being someone who could read individual's fairly well as it was, would see right over them.
Dana shrugged her shoulders.
"You got time to sort things out…"
Chase shook his head, breaking eye contact.
"Yeah, three more days in London…and then about a week before I go back to PCA…"
Dana nodded her head, running her tongue over her upper teeth, as she understood Chase's sarcasm and let out an "Ahhh…"
"And I got a lot more to sort out than just that…"
Chase gave Dana another quick hug, at a slightly hurried speed to get out of the rain and into the taxi that he had flagged down, even though it wasn't raining nearly as hard as it was before. Still, Chase had to speak a little louder than usual to be heard over the rain and commotion of the traffic on the street.
"Make sure you take care of yourself…and have fun seeing the sights and stuff…"
Chase broke the embrace, looking down the street before looking back at Dana.
"You sure you don't want to share a taxi?"
Dana nodded her head, projecting her voice enough that it could be made out over the hustle and bustle of the busy street, knowing that Chase would offer considering he always was one of the kindest people she knew, regardless of how his physical appearance changed.
"Yeah, me and a few friends are staying at the Harton…it's only about a block."
Chase nodded, showing white teeth as he gave Dana a smirk that held hues of his old goofy smile.
"I know we might not see each other for a while…or ever…but it was really good catching up…"
Dana nodded, but then followed it up by shaking her head. She knew that everyone back at PCA thought she was already supposed to be back at PCA. Due to that fact, and the fact that Chase had ran into her, in London, had Dana realizing that Chase thought she wasn't coming back to PCA. Also, they had discussed many topics, including Dana's foreign exchange student program and how it got extended, but they hadn't really spent much time discussing the latter, much of their time being spent merely reminiscing.
Dana stuck out her hand in front of her towards Chase, who raised an eyebrow in confusion. A honk of the horn from the taxi driver waiting for Chase caused Dana to be more direct.
Chase obliged her request, retrieving his cell phone from his pocket and quickly giving it to her. Dana toyed with it, pressing buttons, and after about twenty seconds handed it back to him. Again, the two friends hugged briefly as Dana initiated the embrace, giving Chase his cell phone back immediately after they broke the hug.
"Give me a call sometime,"
Chase nodded his head before Dana completely finished her statement.
"Or I'll just see you in a couple months."
Again, Chase gave Dana a look of confusion.
"A couple months?"
Dana nodded her head towards Chase as he slid his cell phone back into his pocket to get it out of the rain, still looking at Dana.
"Remember how I told you my program had gotten extended?"
Chase nodded his head once recalling that part of their long conversation.
"Well, this is the last semester…I'll be back to PCA for second half."
Chase smiled slightly at Dana, showing happiness that Dana would be coming back as he nodded his head. Dana pointed towards the taxi to tell Chase he should go after the driver honked for a second time. Chase nodded, knowing that the taxi was about to leave without him.
"I'll see you in a minute, alright?"
Dana smiled, shaking her head slightly at how much he had changed.
Once Chase had gotten into the back of the taxi he held up his hand and extended two fingers sideways, his new way of saying goodbye, towards Dana.
Chase opened his eyes, slowly awakening as he took in his surroundings. He looked down at Zoey, and upon realizing that she was still resting against his chest, looking up at him with a smile on his face, he smiled back at her.
Zoey smiled even more, her voice sounding extremely innocent and happy to be speaking to her boyfriend.
Zoey's words caused Chase's smile to grow larger as well, as he slowly leaned down and kissed Zoey on her forehead.
Chase looked around to see his friends, still in almost their same positions on the couch, who were all now awake as well. Next, he looked out the windows and noticed it was completely dark out. Chase shook his head, remembering that before he had fallen asleep there was still some light out in the sky.
"Hey, what time is it?"
Michael looked at his watch, and let out a yawn before replying.
"Eight fifty three."
Chase removed his hand, which had fallen asleep from Zoey's bodyweight against it, from Zoey's hip and extended both his hands above his hands, stretching out as he let out a yawn before sitting up in his seat with Zoey doing the same.
A few minutes of relative silence passed by, before Lola addressed Quinn and Zoey.
"Hey, you want to go finish up that project?"
Quinn and Zoey nodded, the three guy's looking at them not sure of what they meant. Seeing Chase's face, Zoey immediately filled in her boyfriend.
"We are in a group in chemistry…and we got this project due Monday."
Chase nodded, looking over at Logan who addressed Michael and him.
"You guys want to go to the gym for a little bit, get beat in basketball?"
Michael rolled his eyes at Logan, but nodded his head immediately after, as did Chase. Chase looked over at Zoey, initiating the group's goodbye as the sexes were about to split up for the night.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning?"
Zoey nodded, quickly pecking him on the lips.
Chase smiled at her, nodding as well.
Zoey smiled back at Chase, beaming from ear to ear due to being in such high spirits.
Lola and Michael both got up from their seats, watching as Chase and Zoey, and Logan and Quinn said their goodbyes. Michael rubbed his hand together in front of him, not completely sure why he was feeling nervous as he let out a flustered chuckle. Lola was feeling the same way, not completely sure why either, but her acting skills had her uneasy much less noticeable as she stared at Michael, making him even more nervous, as she waited for him to make the first move.
"Haa…ummm….welllllllllllll, see ya."
Lola let out a laugh at Michael's behavior, causing him to grow more flustered with each passing second. Taking the situation into her own hands, she closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around Michael in a hug. Michael let out a smile that she couldn't see, letting his head bounce a little from side to side as he let his mouth drop open slight for a second, muttering, "Well, okay" to himself.
After saying their final goodbyes for the night, the three males walked towards the gymnasium, Logan and Chase chatting it up as Michael mostly stared at the ground in front of where he was walking, not saying much.
Finally, after a few minutes of silence, Michael joined the conversation, his mind wondering and bouncing around so many different topics that he randomly outburst the first thing that he actually felt like discussing.
"You know what's crazy?"
Logan and Chase both looked at him, shaking their heads as he finally joined the conversation.
"I just realized…how long everything was messed up for…"
Logan nodded while Chase nodded as well, rolling his eyes, as he didn't feel like discussing how much time it took for Zoey and him to swallow their selfish pride and finally make amends.
"I mean…we take mid-terms in three weeks!"
Chase's eyes bulged slightly, Michael's comment making him realize something. Logan's eyes bulged as he realized something as well.
Michael let out a laugh at Logan's outburst.
"What? It's not like you ever worry about school."
Logan stuck his hands out to his side.
"I don't…but Quinn does! "
Michael shook his head, looking past Chase, who was walking between them, at Logan.
"She makes me study before tests!"
Michael let out a huge laugh, even Chase, who was lost in thought, chuckled at this.
"Ha ha, that's great man, your girlfriend makes you study before tests. What's next? If you don't do your homework you get grounded?! Ha ha!"
Michael tapped Chase in the arm to make him realize how funny it was, laughing hysterically as Logan's face grew red in anger.
Chase shook his head, laughing as he watched Michael and Logan going further off into the distance, Michael weaving back and forth as Logan tried to catch him. Letting out a sigh, Chase looked up at the sky, letting a smile fall on his face as he took in the stars that showed themselves brightly in the sky. Upon returning his glance to Michael and Logan, Chase let out a laugh as he watched Michael run off the path into the grass right before Logan was about to catch him, sidestepping a bush that Logan fell into head first. Chase shook his head, the smile still across his face as he could hear Michael laughing off in the distance, and Logan screaming as he tried to get out of the shrub he was stuck in.
It was almost halfway through Chase's junior year, there had been more drama than he thought possible, the Chase Matthew era had began at PCA, and it was still there if you asked most of PCA. But, in his opinion, it was gone. He didn't care about how popular he was, if he was the main character in the sitcom they called life or not. He only cared his family, and his friends, that era had begun.
Chase smile grew as he walked towards Michael and Logan, watching Michael who was now helping Logan, who was hopelessly stuck with his feet hanging above his head and his head almost in the dirt, out of the bush, both teenagers' laughter now able to be heard throughout a good portion of campus.
It was almost halfway through Chase's junior year, there had been more drama than he thought possible, but he had a funny feeling there would be more to come. Without the slightest doubt in his mind, he knew their group of friends would make it through it.