Last chapter last chapter last chapter! WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

Okay, so my poll's staying up until er...:thinks of date: September 19th. How's that sound to you guys?

I just wanna thank everyone whose reviewed, favorited, read, and all that good stuff. Because without your encouraging words and happy responses I might not have been motivated to finish. And guess what? This is my first completed story that isn't a oneshot! YAY!!

Okay, i'll save the waterworks for later. Right now, here's chapter eighteen! :D

Disclaimer: Unless I've turned into a thirty something year old man who draws comics and has the intellectual mind of a black Aristotle, I did not create the Boondocks.


Let Me In

Eighteen

"Okay." Cindy took a deep breath, pausing for dramatic effect. "Our destiny awaits us."

Her voice echoed hauntingly over the empty dance studio, where the four best friends had met only minutes before. Subtracting Jazmine, who had already been there for at least an hour and Huey, who had gotten there half an hour early. Caesar gave his girlfriend a smirk.

"What the hell are you? A fortune cookie?" He snickered. Jazmine laughed aloud as Cindy pouted. Huey cracked a smile, although his eyes stayed on the pile of envelopes, addressed to each of them, that lay in the middle of the circle the four formed. The air, as warm as it was thanks to the heat pumping through the vents in the ceiling, was still thick with the nervous tension that radiated off of them.

"All i'm saying," Cindy retorted, pinching Caesar's arm and making him yelp. "is that this is big. Huge. Um..." She bit her lip in an attempt to think of a bigger word.

"Massive?" Jazmine supplied hopefully, adjusting her ballet slippers.

"Catastrophic?" Huey tried. Jazmine raised her eyebrow.

"Yeah. The fate of our futures is a plight which will impact the free world." She rolled her eyes as Huey raised his eyebrows at her.

"Since when did you get so sarcastic?"

"Since I decided that it's the only way I can keep up with you."

"That...kind of makes sense. Sadly."

"Okay, uh huh, who cares?" Cindy rested her hands on her knees, giving them each piercing glares. "Do y'all not understand the severity of this situation?"

"Of course we do." Huey shrugged, his palms flat on the floor on either side of him. "But there's no use in getting worked up over something we can't change. What's done is done."

"Exactly! Calm down, babe." Caesar hugged his girlfriend affectionately, giving her a reassuring smile. "I bet you got into every school you applied to anyway."

"I'd better have." Cindy cracked her knuckles. "Or someone's ass is gettin lit up."

Caesar slowly backed away. Jazmine gulped. Huey continued to look bored.

"Can we just get this over with now?" He asked. Cindy nodded.

"Fine. Caesar, babe, I think you should go first."

"Me?" Caesar jerked, wrinkling his nose. "Why the hell should I go first?"

"Cause you're the oldest!" Cindy shot back.

"If anyone should go first, it's Jazmine!" He claimed, pointing towards the puffy haired mulatto, who raised her eyebrow in a perfect imitation of her boyfriend. "She's the one whose birthday is tomorrow."

"And that has to do with anything why...?" Jazmine challenged with a sarcastic drawl.

"Because-" Caesar blinked. "Wow. Huey's right. You are sarcastic." He shook his head at Huey, frowning goofily. "You're rubbing off on her, man."

"That's nothing." Jazmine waved her hand. "You wanna talk about people rubbing off on others? I actually saw Huey watching Disney channel yesterday when-"

"I think I'll go first!" Huey interrupted in a false cheery voice, clapping a hand over Jazmine's mouth, successfully muffling her words. "Since no one can decide-" He yanked his hand back suddenly, wiping it on his jeans and giving Jazmine a disgusted look. "What the hell! Did you just lick me?"

"You should've kept your hand to yourself!" Jazmine said in an effort to defend her actions, raising her nose in the air defiantly.

"Not like you guys haven't swapped enough spit already," Cindy joked. When neither one of them replied and chose to stare down at the floor instead, similar shades of red growing on their faces, her eyes grew wide. "Feel free...to deny what I said any time now..."

"Well, you know they've gotta make up for lost time." Caesar elbowed Jazmine jokingly. "After almost five years of feinin fo each other. Don't be actin all shy now! You don't be shy when y'all be thinkin no one sees y'all-"

"How about we open them at the same time?" Jazmine suggested, ducking her head. Cindy rested her chin in her hand as she pondered the particular option before sitting upright again.

"Huh. Works for me."

"Sure." Caesar nodded.

"I guess so." Huey appeared as if he could care less either way.

"Good." Jazmine reached into the pile, drawing out an envelope, which had been placed down purposely, like the other ones that lay there. Cindy, Caesar, and Huey mimicked her actions, taking an envelope of their own.

"So, what are the rules again?" Caesar asked. Huey pointed into the circle.

"When we read the letters," He explained, gesturing as he did so. "We're going to put the acceptance ones face down on the left, then the rejected ones on the right."

"Aw. Why can't the rejected ones go on the left?" Cindy asked. "I mean, I like the right side more-"

"Does it really matter?" Huey asked in a disbelieving tone. Cindy shrugged.

"Nope. I just like being complicated."

"You do it very well." Caesar flinched as Cindy raised her fist in the air. "Please don't hurt me! Abuse! Abuse!"

"Just open the envelopes," Huey said, slightly harsher than he meant to due to way he'd noticed Jazmine wince at Caesar's yelling. Cindy dropped her fist as Caesar stiffened, both of them replaying their words in their heads and giving Jazmine apologetic looks. She rolled her eyes.

"Get over it, you guys." Her tone was slightly annoyed. "Marcus is out and it's not changing. Just let it go."

Huey raised an eyebrow, as if he didn't believe her words. Caesar bit his lip, but Cindy took Jazmine's bait, her blue eyes filling with relief.

"Well! Glad that's settled!" Cindy stated, choosing to tear open one of the white colored envelopes, her eyes scanning across the page and a smile growing on her face. Turning it so that the words were hidden she slapped it on the left side of the circle.

"Woo! I hope that was mine!" Caesar yelled. He blinked. "Wait...are we putting accepted on Jazmine's left or Cindy's left?"

"Just put them on the one already down." Huey snorted. "Common sense. It's fundamental."

"Whatever!" Caesar tore his open, face falling as he read the first few lines. "Well, this is a bummer..."

"Whose is it?" Cindy asked. When Caesar opened his mouth Huey cut his eyes at them.

"Cheaters! No telling!"

"You'd tell Jazmine!" Caesar tried. Jazmine smacked her lips.

"Yeah. Right."

"Okay. Just keep reading," Cindy demanded, eyes already moving rapidly over her next envelope. The others quieted down as they tore into the various letters.

For the next three minutes the only sounds came from outside the studio; the occasional sound of a car horn, loud laughter, or the squealing wheels of the local buses stopping at the bus stop outside the window. Inside, the radio, which Jazmine was controlling, was on low, the soft notes bouncing through the large room.

After the last letter had been placed in the accepted pile by a contemplative Huey, the four all exhaled loudly, stretching and massaging their shoulders. Their silence broken, Hue now took the opportunity to glare at Jazmine.

"Did we really have to listen to Mariah Carey the whole time?"

"Well, I didn't hear you complaining when I first turned it on!" Jazmine argued back. "And I only turned it to that because I saw your face when I had it on "Walk It Out". You looked like you'd just had a coronary."

"I probably did. Real music, Jazmine! Did you even listen to the CDs I burned for you?"

"You two are so-" Cindy rolled her eyes as Jazmine opened her mouth to retort before slapping her own hand over the mulatto's mouth. "Whatever. Can you have your love spats later please?" And don't you dare-" She added, removing her hand at the speed of light. "Lick me!"

Huey and Jazmine shrugged, smirking at each other.

"Alright," Caesar reached for the rejected pile. "Might as well get these over with."

"At least there's only three of them," Jazmine pointed out reassuringly. Caesar nodded, turning it over. His face fell.

"Yeah. And this one's for you. Sorry, Jazzy."

"Damn it!" Jazmine whined, snatching the paper away and scanning it, her expression growing more depressed with each passing second. "And it was for Georgetown!"

"Wait a minute." Huey peeked from behind her, his chin resting on her shoulder as he read. "It's not a rejection letter. You just got wait listed."

Jazmine groaned. "That's just as bad."

"No, it's not. Rejected means you suck." Ignoring Caesar and Cindy as they burst into laughter at his analogy he went on. "Wait listed means they like you enough to keep you on hold instead of all together dropping you. You have a chance." Huey shook his head at her as her face crumpled. "Dramatic." Jazmine stuck her tongue out at him before grabbing a letter out the acceptance pile. She read it, grinning.

"Hey, Caesar." She reached across the circle to poke him. "You got into University of Maryland."

"Word?" Aye!" Caesar jumped up, dancing in his spot. "Damn rite!"

"Okay, calm down!" Cindy jumped up as well, however, hugging him. "I'm glad you got in, though."

"Me too! Now mama can quit naggin me!" Caesar yelled with the excitement of a three-year-old. "No more homework!"

Cindy swatted him in the chest as Jazmine laughed, glancing over a letter out of the rejection pile. "Oh, you betta do yo homework!"

"So should you." Jazmine frowned, holding up the letter. "You didn't get into NYU."

Cindy froze before stomping her foot. "The fuck?"

"But-" Huey added before she had an all out fit. "If the last rejection letter isn't for you, it means you got into Howard. Which, since it's a historically black school, means you'd get a minority scholarship. Maybe."

"Ha!" Caesar cackled. "Cindy getting a minority scholarship? That's funny."

"Whateva." Cindy tossed her hair over her shoulder. "I don't need one, anyway. I'm as black as the rest of y'all...well, except for you, Jazz. Since you're only half black and the rest of you is as white as white bread-"

"Oh. Thanks," Jazmine retorted dryly.

"Righhht...um, Caesar?" Huey held up the final rejection letter. "You didn't get into Northwestern."

Caesar slowly stopped dancing, his smile faltering. "Really?"

"Really."

For a second, Caesar appeared to be processing the information before shrugging, continuing his happy dance. "Shit, I don't give a damn!" He bumped into Cindy, making her stumble, now doing some odd booty shake. "I got into University of Maryland!"

"What's in Maryland?" Huey asked. Caesar shrugged.

"What's here in Illinois?"

Huey made a face. "Good point."

"That means..." Jazmine grabbed the rest of the accepted letters, flipping through them. "Huey got into Howard, Spelman, University of D.C...did you apply to any college that wasn't historically black?"

Huey blinked. "Was I supposed to?"

Cindy dropped to the ground, attempting to snatch the letters out of Jazmine's hands. "Leave it to Huey's nerd ass to be accepted to every school he applies to!"

"Like we didn't see that coming!" Caesar pointed out; Huey rolled his eyes. "Mr. Salutatorian over here-"

"Shut up!" Huey wrapped an arm around Jazmine's shoulders. "I might be getting passed soon."

Jazmine snorted. "Bullshit," She said in such an imitation of Huey that Caesar and Cindy laughed. "I got into Howard, California State, Illinois Institute of Art, and Georgetown wait listed me. I ain't doin shit."

"Really?" Huey raised an eyebrow. Jazmine smirked.

"Really."

"So...if I told you your rank was back up to seven, you would..."

Jazmine swallowed. "Uh...you know, homework isn't that bad."

"Right." Huey kissed her forehead. "Didn't think so."

"Anyways," Jazmine went on, although she made no move to break away from Huey's side. "Cindy, you got into Howard, Florida State, University of Pittsburgh...damn, did any of us apply in any colleges here in Illinois?" When she got nothing but blank stares and disbelieving stares in response she made a face. "Nevermind."

"Okay, and baby-" Cindy interjected, snatching the rest of the acceptance letters away from Jazmine's grasp, who made a face. "You got into University of Maryland, Bowie State, North Carolina State...um, didn't you apply somewhere else?"

"I started to, but I got hungry." Caesar turned up the radio, still dancing around. "Who cares? We got into college!"

"True." Cindy jumped up again. "Yes! No more high school!"

Jazmine turned the radio up again. "Thank god." Her nose wrinkled at the song that was playing and she made to change the station but Huey grabbed her hand.

"No!" He shouted, his tone serious. "You don't turn off MF DOOM!"

Jazmine's eyebrow arched. "Who?"

Caesar groaned and Cindy smacked her forehead as Huey's eyes widened with horror.

"Great job, Jazmine." Cindy shook her head as Huey opened his mouth. "Now he's never gonna shut up..."


"Wake up."

...Oh hell no.

Jazmine groaned aloud, although it was muffled courtesy to the pillow which she smashed over her head. Usually when she heard these words it was deeply burrowed in the root of her subconscious, which was why she found it odd that the voice seemed to be above her head. "Go away."

Only due to her covered face, it came out more like "Ohmanay."

"Jazmine!" The voice whined; Jazmine tensed as she felt someone's fingers tickling at her side. She pressed the pillow further over her head, rolling over so that she could try and go back to sleep. Not to mention, elude the tickling fingers of doom.

Well, maybe it wasn't that big a deal if one wasn't ticklish. But she was, therefore it was crucial to escape.

"Mnsnuffinsnurchingah-"

"Jazmine." The voice, although still amused, had grown firm. Not that Jazmine blamed them. One of the hardest things to do was get Jazmine out of bed before twelve. The fingers moved down to the soles of her feet, which were poking out from underneath her tousled covers. "Come on. You can't sleep your birthday away."

Thatdid it. Jazmine bolted up, eyes wide open and hair flying in each and every direction. She blew a strand out of her face and stared up at the source of the voice, her eyebrow raised. She didn't even bother asking her how she'd gotten in her room.

"No, it's not."

Cindy raised her own eyebrow in response. "Yes," she said slowly, trying not to laugh at her, but failing miserably. "It is."

"Is not."

"Is."

"Is not!"

"Is! I'm not going to argue with you over if it's your own birthday or not!" Cindy flopped on the end of Jazmine's bed, tugging at her comforter. "January thirty-first. Tuesday." She pointed at her alarm clock. "Seven thirty am. Happy birthday. Now hurry yo ass up or we're gonna be late."

"Late for school?" Jazmine whined as Cindy began tugging her covers away from her. "Give that back!"

"Get...up!"

"I don't wanna go to school!"

"You never do!"

"But it's my birthday!"

"Oh, nowyou remember your birthday." Cindy smirked as Jazmine pouted. "Girl, please. Just hurry up."

Jazmine rolled her eyes as Cindy walked out her room, shutting the door behind her. Glancing over her shoulder she looked out her window, the sun already rising above the horizon. She'd left her window cracked over night and the crisp morning air filtered through, blowing her curtains back. She sighed.

Perfect sleeping weather. Laying back down against the pillows she pulled her covers up to her chin, shutting her sleepy eyes. If she took too long getting ready for school all Cindy would do was leave her. It wasn't like she didn't have her own car (which had been repaired as soon as possible thanks to her parents). Besides, it wasn't like her parents would make her go to school on her own birthday in the first place.

Nope. Just five more minutes of some good ol shut eye and she'd be great...

SMACK

"Oh my god!" Jazmine shrieked as a pillow smacked her in the back of the head; bolting up she spotted Cindy laughing at her from her doorway.

"Get up!"

"Slave driver," Jazmine muttered, sticking her tongue out at him. "If it's my birthday, where's my gift?" Before Cindy could open his mouth she groaned again, flopping back down. "I don't want to go to school!"

"Who cares? Not me! Besides," Cindy responded with a smug expression, beginning to close her door again. "We aren't going to school."

Jazmine couldn't help but peek out from underneath her covers. "We aren't?"

The only response she got was the slam of a door.


"Woo! Skipping!" Cindy yelled out as her and Jazmine sped down the main highway, the top down on her convertible and the wind blowing through their hair. Jazmine, who was wearing a big pair of aviators(one of the many items courteous of her and Cindy's shopping excursion) made a face.

"I don't think you should admit that to the public, Cin." The afternoon air was surprisingly hot and humid around them, making her throat dry. Significantly more awake than she'd been at least six hours before she sat up, glad she at least had a seat belt to make her feel safe with her best friend's crazy driving.

"I wish a bitch would say some shit!" Cindy laughed, speeding through a yellow light, turning the radio up to drown out the sound of the air cutting through the bags that crowded the small backseat. "Shit, I'm going to college! They betta kiss my-"

"Turn the music down!" Jazmine ordered as she felt her pocket vibrate. She tugged her phone out of the pocket of her jeans, preparing to open it before Cindy snatched the phone with one hand, tossing it in the backseat. "Hey!"

"Huey can wait!" Cindy told her, swerving into the left lane. "We're on girl time right now."

"Girl time?" Jazmine repeated, raising an eyebrow. "That's your name for it?"

"Yes." Cindy screeched to a halt at a stop light, pushing her blond hair out of her eyes, which were covered by her own pair of shades, and smiled at her best friend. "We haven't hung out in...you know."

Jazmine sighed. "I know." Pushing her hair behind her eyes she tipped her face downwards, her green eyes peeping from behind her dark frames. "Can we just not talk about it?"

"Shit. Fine with me." The light turned green and Cindy shot off. "But anytime you need to, you know i'm here."

"I know."

"And Jazmine..." She paused, her own eyes hidden by her sunglasses. Her finger tightened behind the wheel. "I don't think I've gotten the chance to say this to you, but I'm sorry. Listen-" She went on, cutting off Jazmine's attempts to interrupt with her free hand. "I know you're not going to let anyone but yourself take the blame, but it ain't like that. If I hadn't stressed you so much to move on from Huey-"

"Cindy, it's over." Jazmine leaned back in her seat, glancing down to examine her new pink, gold, and white pastries. "Seriously. Marcus and me are done, the trial's over, and when summer comes we'll be gone. I really just want to forget about it."

"But-"

"It's my birthday!" Jazmine whined, crossing her arms over her chest. "I said I don't want to talk about it, so we won't."

"Damn!" Cindy laughed, the silver hoops in her ears catching the afternoon sunlight. "Look at you! Turn eighteen and you think you can talk to me any kinda way!"

"Don't hate cause you got four months," Jazmine pointed out, giggling. Cindy made a face.

"Don't remind me. Alright." She stopped at another light, fingers tapping on the wheel to the beat of the song. "We went out to breakfast, we went shopping, we went to the park-"

"Please don't tell anyone how bad I was at basketball!" Jazmine pleaded, clasping her hands together. Cindy snorted.

"I don't think you deserve that punishment, Jazzy." She popped her gum. "So, i'm hungry again. Where do we wanna eat lunch?"

Jazmine shrugged. "Um...McDonalds?"

"How'd I know you were gonna say that?"

"Because this is me we're talkin about?" Jazmine toyed with the radio as Cindy floored the gas the second the light turned green, speeding down the street. "Because I eat McDonalds every chance I get?"

"Whatever." Cindy put her signal on. "We'll stop, but we're eating it on the way to the mall."

Jazmine coughed. "Another mall?"

"Yes, another mall! We gotta get somethin cute to wear for tonight!"

"Why?" Jazmine raised her eyebrows skeptically. "What's going on tonight?"

"Oh, you'll see." Cindy gave her an all knowing smirk. "You'll see."

"Why do you keep saying that?" Jazmine complained, slouching dramatically against the door. Cindy giggled.

"I've missed you, DuBois," She confessed softly, her voice barely heard over the wind. Jazmine sat up, giving her best friend a smile.

"Not as much as i've missed you, McPhearson."

"You're right." Cindy winked at her. "I missed you more."


"Man, dis dat ol bullshit!" Riley groused as he, Caesar, and Huey walked down the hallway before last period that afternoon, backpacks slung over their shoulders. "Why Cindy and Jazmine get ta skip and our asses still here?"

"Because it was Cindy's present to Jazmine, I guess." Caesar shrugged, sipping on a bottle of apple juice he'd brought with him from lunch. "I think she probably gave her the best present possible." He glanced up and down the hallway. "Getting away from here for a day."

"Nigga, please! Errybody kno da best gift is money!" Riley snorted. "Cos I mean, Young Reezy would've loved sum paper fo his birthday, but what he get? A set of fuckin encyclopedias." He cut his eyes towards his older brother. "Real gay, my nigga!"

"You needed them!" Huey pointed out. "So maybe your vocabulary could expand outside of the words nigga, gay, hos, and paper." The three stopped at Huey's locker as he fumbled with the combination before opening his locker. "Not like you use them, anyway."

"Yea I do!"

Huey glanced over his shoulder, eyes slightly large with surprise. Even Caesar began choking on his apple juice out of shock. "Really?"

"Yea! When it be hot-" Riley explained. "-and our AC be broke, I use dem janks to keep my window open."

Caesar burst out laughing as Huey seemed to deflate, closing his eyes and leaning against his locker. "Well, at least you use them for something..."

"I'm still mad Jazmine ain't take me. I mean, damn! We hommies!" Riley thumped his fist into his chest. "My blood in her veins! We blood niggas now!" he cackled. "Damn, Huey. I'm up in yo gurl fo you are. Dats sad."

"They're probably just shopping," Caesar pointed out matter-of-factly, ignoring his last comment; Huey was obviously choosing to do the same thing. "And you hate shopping."

"Not when you can see sum hos!" Riley rolled his eyes. "Now I gotta sit through english wit dat ugly broad with the crooked front teeth."

"Riley!" Huey snapped. "Could you be anymore ignorant?"

"What? Ain't my fault dat ho ain get no braces! Shit, her gap in her teeth big enough ta use as a pencil holder!"

"Damn!" Caesar laughed before catching Huey's glare and stopping immediately, although the corners of his mouth twitched upwards. "I mean...that's mean. How can you say such a thing?"

"It's true! Really!" Riley added upon seeing Huey's frown only deepen. "I tried to stick my pencil in der when she fell asleep last week! Dats why I got in school suspension fo two days!"

"Cause it fit?" Caesar asked, confused.

"Naw! Cause she woke up and bit my hand, so I cussed her ass out! Bitin me an shit...prolly gave me sum retarded ass diseases." Riley's lower lip jutted out. "Sharin her gonorrhea an all dat mess. I was like "Nigga!""

"...what a captivating tale," Huey yawned, straightening as the warning bell rang. Caesar sighed, watching Riley race down the hallway, disappearing into the crowd.

"Seriously though, they're lucky the got to skip." He stretched. "They haven't had to see you-know-who walking through the hallways all day."

"Don't remind me." Huey started down the hallway, Caesar at his side. "I still can't believe they let him off free. White people."

"Wasn't one of those judges black?"

Huey made a face. "Physically."

Caesar burst out laughing, accidentally hitting a white guy with his backpack, causing him to drop his books. papers went flying everywhere, the kid's glasses fell off, and he dropped to his knees, screaming in anger. "Oops?" He frowned. "Sorry, man-"

"Hey! You made me-" The kid's eyes widened in realization. "Hey! You're that one guy who made me spill my soup back in December!"

Caesar blinked. "What?" Shaking his head at the seething kid he stepped over one of his notebooks, turning back to Huey. "Anyways, how's Jazmine taking it?"

Huey shrugged, hands in his pockets. "She doesn't really talk about it. So I don't bring it up."

"Aren't you gonna help me pick this up?" The kid wailed.

"Well, do you think she's okay?" Caesar asked. Huey paused.

"I don't think she's completely alright," he stated slowly, eyes lowered in thought. "But she will be. Eventually. Nothing ever keeps her down for too long." He glanced back up. "Jazmine's always going to be Jazmine."

Caesar nodded. "True. So, about tonight-"

"I still hate you!" The boy screamed in frustration, balling his fists up and getting knocked over by another group of passing guys. Caesar and Huey glanced over their shoulders, seeing nothing but people crowding through the hallway.

"Did you hear something?"

"Nope." Caesar shrugged, eyebrow still lifted in confusion as they turned the corner. "Not a thing."


"Aw! Honey!" Sarah clamped a hand over her mouth, her eyes lit with happiness. "You look so beautiful!"

Jazmine smiled, although she trained a murderous glare on her best friend, who was standing off to the side of the doorway, her arms folded over her chest as she admired her work. Around four thirty Cindy had driven Jazmine home (around the normal time she got home from school; she was pretty sure her parents wouldn't care if they found out she skipped but she wasn't too willing to try them) and literally shoved her up the stairs to her room. Before even being able to take a breath, Jazmine had been shoved into her bathroom by Cindy, who had somehow forced her to take a shower. When she'd come out, towel around her head and robe around her body, her best friend had laid out one of her new outfits, plugged up her straightener, and loaded down her dresser with at least a hundred bottles of various liquids which Jazmine couldn't even identify.

"What...is this?" Jazmine had asked, backing away slowly, ready to escape back into the safe solitude of the bathroom. Cindy had grinned, holding up a blow dryer.

"Oh, no you don't," She'd laughed, easily grabbing the stunned birthday girl and steering her towards the dresser.

Now, however, Jazmine wasn't regretting Cindy's makeover skills so much; her hair was doing some amazing style; straight, yet slightly waving down her back at the same time. She didn't even know that was possible for her head! She'd refused any makeup when Cindy had even come near her with the stuff and turned down the skirt, but she did compromise by wearing one of the new black tops Cindy had insisted she get. The one with too little material that showed off too much skin.

It felt odd, wearing a top that left her arms visible to everyone around her. But at the same time the bruises had faded for the most part, minus a mark here and there. The only thing that stood out prominent against her skin was the long, thick dark line that ran up from her wrist to underneath her elbow. Since that would most likely never completely fade,s he figured she might as well get over it.

Besides, it was sort of gratifying and slightly amusing, seeing her father's reaction.

"Well...honey, you look-" When Sarah elbowed him he stiffened, scratching the back of his neck with his hand. "I...like the diamond looking stones that hold the sides together?"

Jazmine laughed. "Thanks, daddy." She swept some of her hair out of her eyes.

"And the jeans," Tom went on, swallowing. "They're...tight." He frowned. "Literally."

"They're the style, Mr. D," Cindy told him, her own hair and makeup done up. She propped her elbow on his shoulder, nodding convincingly. "And no offense, but yo daughter is wearin dem jeans."

"Long as she ain't "takin them off" anywhere!" Tom replied in his paternal sort of way, making air quotes. "Jazmine, where are you two going exactly?"

Jazmine shrugged. Before she could open her mouth, however, Cindy glided over to the lost mulatto and draped an arm over her shoulders.

"We're going to the mall," She said, winking. "So she can show off her hot look to sexy guys."

Jazmine raised an eyebrow. Sarah smirked. Tom appeared to be at a loss for words.

"Tom, she's kidding!" Sarah laughed, shaking her head at his shocked expression. "She's eighteen now, honey! Give her a break!"

"Right!" Tom bent down, giving Jazmine a quick peck on the cheek. "Just...be careful."

Jazmine sighed. "Okay, daddy."

"I mean it!" Tom cleared his throat, adding base to his voice. "You two watch out for yourselves!"

"Okay! Fine!" Jazmine rolled her eyes, grabbing Cindy's arm. "Let's just go."

"Don't you think you should take a sweater?" Tom asked. "It is still wintertime young lady, no matter how hot it's been the past few days!"

"Tom-"

"In fact, maybe you should just put on a turtleneck!"

"Tom!" Sarah smacked the back of his head. "Stop being so paranoid!"

"But-" Tom frowned. Jazmine shook her head, running back up to his side and standing on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek.

"Love you, daddy." She turned around again, heading out the front door after Jazmine. Tom blinked.

"Um...love you too, baby."

"Aww. look at her, Tom." Sarah glanced out the window, watching the two girls pile into Cindy's car. "She's so grown up." She sighed, her blue eyes misting. "She's turned out to be beautiful, don't you think?"

Tom's features softened and he smiled, wrapping his arms around his wife's waist. "Yeah. You're right." The couple watched as Cindy pulled out the driveway, honking once before heading down the street, the bass of the convertible pumping through the windows. "Seems like just yesterday she was making out lists for Santa Claus, and now she's getting ready to graduate, go to college..." His eyes narrowed. "Attracting boys. Sarah, since when has Huey liked her?"

Sarah rolled her eyes, detatching herself from her coblivious husband and heading down the hallway, towards the kitchen. "Gee, Tom. Only since forever," She drawled sarcastically. Tom folded his arms over his chest.

"Don't sass me, Sarah!" He threw his arms in the air. "How is it everyone saw this coming but me?"

Sarah poked her head from behind the wall that separated the kitchen from the hallway, her eyes filled with humor.

"Do you really not know the answer to that question?

"Huh?" Tom's jaw dropped. "Hey!"

Sarah laughed, disappearing to leave her husband staring after her, still considering the relationship between his neighbor's eldest grandson and his daughter. "Get a clue, Tom."


"Okay." Jazmine felt around the darkness with outstretched hands, swallowing as she struggled not to trip over anything. "Is the blindfold necessary?"

"Yes." Cindy kept her hands on Jazmine's back, guiding her through...well, wherever they currently were. All Jazmine could tell was that it was dark, silent, and...well, that was it. It was sad how limited her senses were. "It wouldn't be any fun if you knew what was going on."

"...yeah, it would." Being that she'd been blindfolded from the moment that they'd left her driveway, Jazmine was finding darkness to be a bit old.

"Would not! Shut up!" Cindy moved her hands and Jazmine felt a short sting of panic slice through her before Cindy's hands were at the back of her head, untying the blindfold. "Ya happy now-"

"Well-" Jazmine cut off abruptly as she blinked, staring around Cindy's living room.

Cindy's crowded living room.

"SURPRISE!" A chorus of voices screamed, everyone throwing their hands up and jumping around. Jazmine's eyes widened and she covered her mouth with her hands.

"Awww! You guys!" She squealed, glancing back at Cindy before whipping her head back around to stare at everyone else. "I...I don't know what to say!"

"Why don't you start by tellin us where yo clothes at, girl?" Caesar joked, sweeping towards them and hugging Jazmine with one arm, a coke can in one hand. "Happy birthday."

"Thanks." Jazmine hugged him back before glancing around, grinning. "Why didn't I see this coming?"

"Because you take after Mr. D in the oblivion department?" Caesar asked innocently. Cindy cackled.

"DAYUM! Shut down!" She laughed, giving Caesar some dap. Hiro, the hired DJ apparently, had started up some music and now most people were dancing, others already tackling the food. Jazmine shook her head at them, still glancing around.

Cindy, being the decorating obsessed girl that she was, had balloons, streamers, and every other shiny decoration imaginable hanging from every place possible on the first floor. Which was nice, but what was even better was...

The table near the front door that was loaded down with presents. Presents for her. Yes.

"How did you guys do this?" She asked in awe. "I mean, how'd you let your parents agree to it, Cindy? And how did you put it all together when you were with me the whole day?"

"Oh, easy." Cindy waved her hand. "It was no biggie. Really."

"Yeah, not for her." Caesar made a face. "She wasn't the one running out everywhere after school, doing all her errands and being her personal slaves."

"You slaved him?" Jazmine asked, smiling at a girl who wished her a happy birthday as she passed. Cindy shrugged.

"I slaved Huey, too." Cindy waved her hand. "Oh, and Hiro."

"Ah." Jazmine snorted, thinking about how she'd heard Cindy on her cell phone while she'd been in the bathroom earlier. Not to mention how when they'd been out various points during the day Cindy had "went to the bathroom", returning with her sidekick in hand. "Okay."

"Alright, I'm hungry." Cindy took Caesar's hand, tugging him after her. "Don't just stand there, Jazzy poo! Make with the socializing!"

"Really?" Jazmine whined, but before she could even move she was swarmed by a group of classmates; some known, some unknowing. After a few minutes of talking, however, she began to relax. Even the people who she didn't know that well were friendly and excited to see her. That or they were just being nice since they got to eat free food.

It was funny, standing there and watching everyone. The way they talked, danced, interacted with each other. Here, at this party surrounded by people who cared about her, it made her feel as if the past hadn't even happened...

"DAYUM! Yo look fine!" Riley suddenly yelled, causing her to flinch, caught off guard. "Since when u got sum ass? U been eatin cornbread?"

"Yes, Riley," Jazmine said dryly, rolling her eyes. "Cornbread. All the time." She looked around, frowning. "Where's Huey?"

"By the punch bowl. Bein a bitch." Riley covered his mouth, stilll examining her. "He makin sure no one spikes it. Like damn, nigga. Can ayone have sum fun? Then again-" He snapped his fingers. "Aye. If u go over thur an distract him wit yo lack of clothes, he'll probably stop guardin it, and I can get sum sliver patron up in dur if u kno what I'm sayin-"

"Riley!" Jazmine gave him a stunned look. "You're fifteen! Why are you so obsessed with this stuff?"

"Ho, I'll be sixteen in March! I ain you ask all dat!" Riley shoved her towards the food. "Just do me a favor! Shit!" He went on. "Gots the same blood type as a nigga an ya save em from bleedin ta death and how dey pay u back? By bein lil bitches-"

"Whatever! Damn, I'm going!" As Jazmine walked past him she suddenly heard him clear his throat.

"Aye."

Jazmine glanced over his shoulder at him, ignoring a guy who accidentally bumped her arm as he passed by. "Hmm?"

Riley shoved his hands in his jeans, rolling his eyes. "Happy birthday."

Jazmine grinned. "Thanks."

"Don' go gettin all soft on me, nigga!" Riley waved his hands, a disgusted look on his face. "I wuz just bein nice!"

"I'm sure you were." Jazmine shook her head as he went for the food before pushing through the crowd, stopping a few more times to accept the happy birthdays she received. Finally reaching the table with the drinks(Which was no easy feat; her house was so big and the place so crowded it was an accomplishment to not have gotten trampled) she snuck up beside Huey, who was glancing in the opposite direction, his foot tapping to the beats that were pulsing the house. Smiling softly she poked him,

"What are you doing?" She asked, her hands on her hips. Huey shrugged, glancing down at her.

"Nothing, just-" His eyes widened. "What the hell are you wearing?"

"Um..." Jazmine bit her lip, trying not to laugh at Huey's facial expression. "Clothes?"

"Yeah. Barely." Huey shook his head, stepping closer. "It's winter, Jazmine. This is pneumonia weather! Are you trying to catch something?"

Jazmine rolled her eyes. "Huey-"

"Just because it's hot doesn't mean you're supposed to break out the summer stuff-"

"Huey-"

"Because soon as you do, bam! You're in the hospital with-"

"Huey!" Jazmine shouted, causing him to stop mid-sentence and a few dancers to peek at them, eyebrows raised. "I get it. I'm going to get pneumonia. Thank you!" She folded her arms over her chest. "What are you doing over here?" When Huey merely gave her a blank stare in response she glanced over her shoulder towards the rest of the house before grinning.

"Ah. Parties. Right." She frowned. "Didn't you help set up though?"

"If you mean I had to go buy the cake and listen to Caesar bitch about you and Cindy leaving us all alone, then yeah." Huey cringed. "That cake, byt the way-"

"Don't even start," Jazmine cut in before he could go on. "I don't care how many artificial preservatives are in the icing or how many sweets, calories, saturated fats, and all types of high fructose corn syrup are in it. I like cake. A lot," She finished, folding her arms over her chest. Huey blinked.

"I never really get used to the fact that someone actually listens to my lectures," He mumbled thoughtfully. In the corner of her eyes Jazmine saw Riley waving at her, as if telling her to move. She sighed, rolling her eyes. Before she could open her mouth, however, Huey's hand grabbed her's.

"Come here for a minute," He said before glancing over his shoulder, giving Riley a warning look, as if he'd known his younger brother had been there the whole time. Letting Huey lead her towards the back door she glanced at Riley and shrugged as if saying "I tried.". She turned away and giggled as she followed Huey outside into Cindy's back yard, stepping to the side so he could shut the door behind them. Turning around he smiled, pulling her closer.

"Okay, first of all," He said softly, cupping her face in his hands and leaning down, his lips inches from her's. "Happy birthday."

Instinctively, Jazmine leaned into his, her lips already finding his before he could finish. After a few seconds, however, he pulled away.

"Can I give you your gift first?" He asked, trying not to laugh at Jazmine's crestfallen expression. She blinked.

"You mean, that wasn't it?" She sighed as Huey shook his head, still amused by her expression. "Aw."

"You'll get over it."

"Hey!"

"Anyways," He went on, digging his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. "I got you a present...but..."

Jazmine raised an eyebrow. Of all the traits Huey's personality possessed, stalling wasn't one of them. "But..."

"But I don't know if you'll like it." Huey leaned against the house, his auburn eyes illuminated by the moonlight that beamed down on them. Jazmine blinked at him before bursting out into laughter.

"Is that all?" She snickered. "You made it sound so grave. Like "I got you a gift but the chinese mafia stole it for government purposes". Or "I got you a present but I pawned it off to buy a loaf of bread for a homeless guy I saw on the way here."

"Seriously. Where do you get these ideas from?"

"Where's my gift?" Jazmine asked, tapping her foot. When Huey opened his mouth to respond she covered her ears. "Blah blah blah can't hear you! Less talking more gift giving!"

"Oh, that's mature." Huey stated, pulling a box out of his pocket. "Really. I can just tellyou're a legal adult- damn, Jazmine!" Jazmine, with laser sharp reflexes, had dropped her hands and grabbed the wrapped box from him, already tearing through the paper, green eyes sparkling. "Look, if you don't like it, then-"

Letting the paper fall away, Jazmine opened the box. Her eyes widened.

"-I could just take it back," Huey was still saying. "Or sell it. Or, what was that you said? Buy a homeless guy a loaf of bread for it?"

"Why wouldn't I like it?" Jazmine asked, holding up the chain and watching the necklace twinkle in the moonlight. "It's beautiful!"

"It's...really?" Huey scratched his head, though he obviously looked relieved. "It's just a necklace."

"I know, but look!" Jazmine lay the charm, a delicate, old fashioned silver key with small red stones running up the side, in the palm of her hand. She lifted it so that he could see it more clearly. "It's a key."

Huey rolled his eyes. "I know. I bought it, remember?"

"Don't you know what that means?"

"I didn't know it meant something- ow!" Huey rubbed his arm, where Jazmine had just punched him. "Okay, you're hanging out with Cindy too much."

"So?" Jazmine shook her head at him before going on. "A key has so many different meanings. You know, you lock stuff with it-"

"Really." Huey's tone was flat. "You really do that?"

"Yes! Let me finish!" Jazmine demanded. "Anyway, keys can have other meanings. You've heard of "The key to my heart", right?"

Huey snorted. "Sounds...kind of stupid."

"You would say that." Jazmine smiled. "But in a way, it's not. Cause if you're giving someone the key to your heart, it basically means you trust them more than anything else in the world. You trust them with your feelings, your heart. Your life. That kind of thing." Jazmine shrugged when Huey raised an eyebrow. "Just saying."

"And...people get all of that out of a piece of metal shaped to open doors." Huey's tone was laced with disbelief.

"When you say it like that, you make it sound really stupid." Jazmine's palm closed over the necklace and she smiled, hugging him. "The point is, I love it. Thank you."

"Yeah." Huey's mouth twitched as his arms snaked around her, still considering what she'd said. "I don't get it. If you love someone isn't that stuff already implied?"

Jazmine looked up. "What?"

"What you were saying." Huey shrugged as if what he was saying was the most obvious thing in the world. "I mean, I love you, right? And if I do, then that already means I trust you more than anyone else. Because if I didn't, then how would I be able to love you?"

Jazmine blinked, staring up into his eyes. "You," She said slowly. "Just said one of the most beautiful things to me anyone has ever said, and I bet you don't even realize it."

Huey looked bored. "You're not going to cry, are you?"

"No!" Jazmine rolled her as the back door flew open and Cindy poked her head outside, blond hair falling over her shoulder.

"I know it must have been hard being apart for a whole twelve hours," She said sarcastically as she gripped the side of the door with her fingers. "But in case y'all forgot the party's in here."

"Sorry. Got lost," Huey shot back, rolling his eyes at his friend. Jazmine laughed. Cindy just shook her head, sticking her tongue out.

"Well hurry up! We bout to do the Cha Cha Slide!" She backed into the house, shutting the door. "Shit. Can't have a party without the Cha Cha Slide."

"I guess we should go in," Huey said, dropping his arms and heading for the house. When Jazmine didn't follow him he raised his eyebrow. "Or...not?"

"You go," Jazmine said softly, waving her hand towards him. "I'll be there in a minute."

Shrugging slightly, Huey gave her one last glance before disappearing into the house. Jazmine smiled to herself as the door shut and let her hands rest at her side as she lifted her head to stare up at the moon, the cool metal of the key pressing into her palm.

She knew that she still had a lot to face. How long it would take her to get over what Marcus had done, she didn't know. All she knew was that somehow, she was beginning to accept it. She could never forget it, never forgive it, but maybe, like Huey had told her, she could grow from it. it didn't help having to see him every day at school, didn't make her feel better when their eyes locked in the hallways, but it couldn't be helped. As long as he was loose, he'd always be around.

Fumbling with the clasp of her necklace she opened the small hook and (after several hopeless attempts) managed to connect the ends of the silver chain around her neck. Dropping the key to her neck she turned it over with her fingers before letting it rest against her chest and stared up at the moon again, a light wind picking up and blowing through the trees. Just as she began to head inside, a dark shadow in the corner of the yard caught her eye.

Freezing, Jazmine's breath caught in her throat as she saw the too familiar shape of a man step forward, his hazel eyes glowing eerily in the moonlight. Forcing herself to breath, remembering that sanctuary was just s few feet away, she stared back at him, her fists clenched. For a second, there was only silence.

And then, he opened his mouth.

"Happy birthday."

Before Jazmine even had time to process what had happened he was gone, the spot he had once been in now vacant. Jazmine rubbed her eyes, not sure if she'd imagined his presence or not. Weird.

"Jazmine." Jazmine whirled around to see Huey glancing at her from the doorway, his eyes wary. "Are you okay?"

"Don't think that boyfriend of yours will be around to protect you forever." Marcus's last words to her echoed in her mind. "Don't worry. One day you'll find out. The hard way."

"Yeah." Jazmine swept some of her hair out of her eyes, smiling. "I'm coming."

As she followed Huey back into the house, she couldn't help but glance one last time over her shoulder. The backyard was still spread out, empty and quiet, like moments before.

As much as she wanted to believe it was over...she shut her eyes before opening them again, giving Huey a look through worried eyes.

She had a feeling this was only the beginning.

The End


Okay! Shout outs!

First off, lemme say thankyouthankyouthankyou to the following people: Lil-Dutchezz, TRIGGER MIKE THE GREAT, Osaisi, Pocket-Sized Revolution, and YoungNeil. Because they actually reviewed EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER while some people reviewed...0. Then, I wanna say thank you to everyone else who reviewed, favorited, alerted, read, and everything in between.

Man, I'm really bummed this is over, but at the same time relieved. You know, you feel pretty accomplished when you get to finish a story. And now I can get to work on other stuff. Other stuff...such as...


"Caesar, face it." Huey was still tossing the rest of his things into the suitcase laying open over his bed. "Cindy's gone AWOL."

"So did Jazmine!" Caesar pointed out.

"Correction: Jazmine was dragged." Huey glanced over his shoulder. "Aye, Riley! Hurry up!"

"And how do you know?" Caesar asked, slightly defensive. "How do you know Jazmine's not as mad at you as Cindy is at me?"

"Because Jazmine and I don't argue for her to be mad at anything," Huey responded matter-of-factly. Caesar sucked his teeth.

"Well...that don't mean nothin!" He persisted, pacing as Huey continued his quick packing. "How do you know she didn't voluntarily leave with Cindy?"

"Oh, I don't know!" Huey shot back sarcastically. "Maybe it has something to do with the six text messages she sent me in fifteen minutes, all which say "Help me"!"

"...maybe it was a typo?"

"Maybe you'd better get your ass in the car before I leave you." Huey rolled his eyes. "Riley! We leavin in five minutes!"

"Nigga, don't rush me!" Came Riley's response from the other room. "You don't own me!"

"Where are we going?" Caesar asked. Huey raised an eyebrow.

"Do you really have to ask?" He slammed his suitcase shut. "We're going after your crazy ex girlfriend."


Anyone like sequels? :P

Okay, if you do, be on the lookout for a mini-sequel to this, probably comin out sometime next week. It's gonna be set after this but if you haven't read this story, you won't be too confused or anything. Think of it as an interlude to...

An. Can't say. I'd give too much away (ha. That rhymed)

Anyways, keep your eyes open, thanks for the reads, and I hope you all enjoyed the story! :D

-Kelsey