Hello, Hello

Chapter Eight

Then How Do We Get Out?

He's got it, by golly! By that I mean, Cody's got his lines down. And it's about time, too, because we've only got a day left until the 'Big Day.' I say this with heavy emphasis on the quotes, by the way. Despite hating the material and Chris for creating it, I'm a little proud of myself for getting Cody to this point. Seriously, for a while there, I thought he was going to be the worst thing to come to stage since Chee-Chee. Wonder what that is? Reference too obscure for your tiny mind? It's a play about a eunuch. Let's just stop the explanation there. (I mean, do I even have to explain further why it failed? I didn't think so.)

But every silver lining has a cloud and this one's a doozy. You see, I'm having a hard time extricating myself from the whole Cody situation. I can see now that we're friends. Cody obviously considers me one. He talks to me every day—and not just when we're rehearsing. I swear, he goes out of his way to come talk to me. I don't mind. Not a bit. Not even when I'm reading. And I read a lot. I'm taking my opportunity in the Playa Des Losers resort to catch up on all that reading I missed while cheering my dodgeball team on (and they thank me with a vote off. Am I missing something here?) Do I consider Cody a friend? I do. I guess I do.

Now I'm the one who's troubled, but I think I'm better at keeping it to myself. I'm a pretty good secret keeper when I want to be, you see. Cody's got everything written on his face. Well, except for when he gets that annoying inscrutable face. And then I just want to reach into his head and pull out all the answers to the questions I admit I don't have the guts to ask.

You see, the thing is, my cloud? I think I may have inadvertently got myself a little emotionally involved with Cody. And by that I mean, in the girliest of girly terms. I believe I'm falling in love.

Now, before you go getting skeptical on me, remember who you're talking to. Yeah, hello? Noah here. I'm as skeptical and cynical as they come. I don't really believe in love as a verb that I'm capable of performing. But even geniuses are wrong. I believe in this case, I was dead wrong. I don't like it, either. I always thought love was pretty straightforward and all that, if it did exist. I don't expect love to be what it is in movies. They portray it as this whole mutual attraction, obvious from the start. The hero and heroine meet for the first time, and when they look at one another, you just know because chemistry and sparks and all that good cliché stuff takes place. Nothing like that happened between myself and Cody. I didn't take one look at him and go all weak at the knees. And if I did, please shoot me now, because that's just a disgustingly sappy and sentimental thought.

There's just something about Cody, to borrow the title of a well-known movie. Pardon the pop culture reference. But there is. Cody makes me feel calm inside. Simultaneously, though, he can do one tiny thing and I feel my heart race. It's sickening. It's annoying. I'm really starting to hate it.

Cody isn't with me right now. He ran off to tell the world he finally mastered his lines. I'm left sitting on a lounge chair with a book I can't concentrate on. I keep staring at the words, but they line up like tiny black ants. I can't comprehend them because I've got too much on my mind and I'm having trouble focusing on the story. Finally, I set the book aside on a table nearby and replace the book with a drink. I sip and I think and I watch. Everybody else is having a gay old time. Hah. Hah. They are, though. Splashing in the pool, giggling, flirting, playing games. Harold is hiding from Courtney, as usual. Geoff and Bridgette are making out, as usual. Cody is with Gwen. As usual.

Did I mention Owen and Gwen are back? Yeah. Owen won the game. There's talk of a new season of the show. I ignore it, even though I admit I'd love another shot at the money.

Yes. Gwen is here.

I think you know what that means. It's Gwen he's happily blathering his newest triumph to. I don't consider myself a jealous guy, but I gotta tell you. I don't feel good about this new development. I wonder if this was how Cody felt. Handing Gwen off to Trent. I'm not handing Cody off, though. I'm not even bothering to be a contender. Cody's made it abundantly clear where he stands. Hasn't he?

I lift up my sunglasses. I see them now. Gwen and Trent and Cody. They're over by the juice bar. They all look happy. Even Gwen. Even Cody. Just to be near her. It's like being close to the sun, isn't it, Cody? I lower my sunglasses once more. I really, really hate this new development.

+That Night+

I'm almost asleep when I hear the creak of my door opening. I open one eye and I hear a voice nearby. "Psst."

I roll over in my bed and find Cody at the door. Now what would he be doing here? I'm slightly annoyed, but I'm also strangely pleased. He's come to my room? Why the heck would he do that? He's not in his pajamas, either. I'm in my underwear again, and he does that whole polite turning of the head thing while I sit up and pull my shorts on.

"Okay. I give. What?"

He glances at the sleeping form in the other bed. At least it's one form and not two, right? When I turn back to Cody, he's got one finger to his lips while he gestures for me to come outside with his other hand. He's backing out the door; I'm not bothering with a shirt. I just slide out of bed and rake a hand through my hair before following him outside.

"Why aren't you standing over Gwen's bed and breathing through your mouth?" I ask. Even as it's coming out my mouth, I know it's a stupid and harsh thing to say. It stings Cody, I can tell. He turns to look at me with a sharp gaze, but he doesn't say anything. The set of his jaw worries me, though. I let out a sigh, but there are no apologies. I mean, I planned on it, but now Cody's moving down the steps and at first, I think maybe I should go back to bed. Who am I kidding? I'd lie awake the rest of the night wondering what this was all about. After a moment, I follow him down the steps.

Cody's pretty fast when he wants to be. He turns to look over his shoulder to make sure I'm still behind him. I am. He keeps moving. He's heading around the back of my cabin. I thought for sure he was going to lead me back over to the water or something.

"Where are we going?" I hiss into the night. Cody stops abruptly, turns around and grabs my wrist before pulling me into a tall patch of scratchy weeds. I'm too surprised to say a word for a moment, but just as I start to—the rumble of my voice is just rising from my throat—Cody slaps a hand over my mouth and indicates something nearby with a jerk of his head.

I hate to say it, but I'm actually kinda enjoying this. Or at least, my body sure is. My head isn't quite sure what's going on. Peering through the grass, my eyes widen. Not what I expected, to say the least. I shove Cody's hand away.

"Gwen?" I whisper, because that's what I see. But that's not all. Gwen and… I frown. "Is that Duncan?"

Cody turns his gaze back to me, eyes wide. "Shhh," he says, bringing a finger to his lips. Then we both turn back to the spectacle before us. Now, it's not like they're doing anything. Seriously. Like, they're just sitting there together, but they look way too close for a guy who's already dating somebody else and a girl who's oh so in love with her boyfriend. Well, kind of. Those two are a little cuckoo, if you get me. The more I listen to them laughing and her smacking him on the shoulder, the more I think maybe they're with the wrong person. I turn back to Cody, who's now doing that thing with his hands, you know the one, where he's all nervous and holding something back.

"Okay. What's the big deal. Why did you wake me up for this?"

Cody freaks a little, sticks his head up, notices they haven't seen him and then takens me by the wrist and drags me away from the happy not-couple and back over to the porch of my room.

"Can I talk now?" I ask, annoyed. He nods mutely. "Okay. Why. Did you wake me up. For that?" Then of course, my genius kicks in and I realize that of course, it has to do with Gwen. He's in love with Gwen. Duncan is pretty scary to people like Cody, a lot scarier than Trent ever was. "Look, Cody," I start. "Gwen is…"

"I don't know what to do. I mean, I like her so much! But she doesn't even… I don't even compare. Me and Duncan…?" He sighs and his shoulders sag. "I don't stand a chance. I never did… Did I?"

"Honestly? No." But he goes all pathetic again and sighs and I can't help but awkwardly pat him on the back. "Cheer up, will you? Gwen's not the only girl out there."

"But she's the only one I really like!"

"And you know you can't change her mind, so try to find somebody else."

"Like who?" He starts to name off girls on the show and I wave my hands to stop him.

"Hello! There are other people in the world, you know. The girls on this show are only a tiny percentage of that amount." Seriously, Cody. Get a clue. "Or you could do the immature thing and bust in on them." At Cody's hopeful look, I put up a finger. "Don't. That was sarcasm."

Edging back to my room, I beckon for Cody to follow. "Come on, you have to see this before you go all postal on me." Inside, I reach under my bed and retrieve my laptop. Opening it up, I quickly retrieve what I'm looking for and turn the laptop toward Cody.

"You have fans, okay, bro?"

It's true. It's right there on the website for the show. There's even this nutcase of a girl who claims she's going to marry Cody. Fat chance. She's totally not his type. I lift my hand to sort of pat Cody on the back but I end up massaging it lightly instead. It's kind of a nice feeling, even though I'm not the one getting the patterns of circles drawn over my back. Still, it seems to relax Cody and I slowly feel the muscles beginning to loosen up. This time, when he sighs, it sounds more content and his eyes are half-closed. I lean closer. Cody doesn't even seem to notice.

I feel like I'm on dangerous ground, so to stop myself from going "there," I remind both Cody and myself that tomorrow is the big musical play night. Cody nods sleepily and I think for a moment that he's going to get up, but he doesn't. I glance at the laptop. His hand isn't moving, the page isn't moving. I look back at Cody, and find that his head is leaning down. He's falling asleep. I'm faced with a couple of choices, and my heart pounds too hard in my chest.

I should wake him up. I know that I should. But I end up closing the laptop carefully and quietly so as not to wake him—though half of me hopes that he does so I don't have to. Then I get up and exhale, sliding the computer back under my bed. When I move back, Cody has completely crashed. His face is pressed against the bed and he's out. I can't help but smile slightly before I turn away and lie on my back, eyes looking to the ceiling. I tell myself I should get up and let him have the bed, but I'm drowsy, too, from being woken and before I know it… I'm out, too.