Catherine's Adventures in the Parallel World
5. Half Truths & Whole Lies
This was how Catherine found out that her brother and her best friend were officially dating: she read it on facebook. She had logged in on Jamie's computer Wednesday morning to check her notifications and update her status (she had never, for the record, written anything like what Rhys had told her she would) and there it was in her news feeds:
Jamie Goforth is in a relationship with Izzie Thorpe.
This was news to Cath. Well, not news exactly, but it was news at least that things had become facebook levels of official. She was surprised that neither of the parties involved had informed her personally. She was also a little hurt. Nobody ever talked to her anymore.
Okay, that was only half true. John talked to her all the time. She could barely get rid of him. Everywhere she turned, there he was talking and talking and scowling, and everything he said was something negative about something. He did always say nice things about Catherine herself; she had to give him that. But she was beginning to worry that his belligerence might start to wear off on her if she wasn't able to spend more time away from it. And today, in particular, she didn't want to be infected by belligerence. Today was going to be a good day. Today she was going out with Rhys and Elle.
To be honest, she didn't even know where they were going exactly. She had been told, but she didn't remember. When Rhys had asked her she had said yes immediately, and had been otherwise too elated by the invitation and by him calling her in the first place to remember the details, except that they were coming by around noon. She had run it by Aunt Gail and Uncle David, and also by her father, the later of whom had cautioned her once again to be careful.
Catherine had promised she would be careful. But it wasn't really the first thing on her mind. There were too many other things cluttering that up. For starters, she did not know what to wear. Fortunately she knew an expert. She left her room and went to find Izzie.
Izzie opened her door with her make-up half on and exclaiming, "Cath, you're psychic! I was just about to come get you."
"What for?" Cath asked, as she followed Izzie back to her bedroom where she plopped down on the bed. Izzie repositioned herself in front of the mirror and began applying the first of numerous coats of mascara.
"Because we're going to see the Statue of Liberty today. John is on his way back. He went out for breakfast or something. And Jamie should be coming up from your suite." Izzie paused, glancing through the mirror and Catherine. "You should probably get dressed." She concluded. Cath was wearing a tank top and track bottoms.
Izzie must have forgotten. "I can't go to the Statue of Liberty. I'm going out with Rhys and his sister today," Cath reminded her.
But Izzie shook her head. "No, that's tomorrow."
Cath frowned. She had brought her phone with her, and she opened the calendar. "No….." she said hesitantly, "it's today."
Izzie turned around from the mirror. "Is it really today?"
It was Izzie's turn to frown. "But you have to come!" she said. "I already told John you were coming. We can't even go without you! Can you imagine how awkward that would be, the three of us? It completely ruins the whole day if you don't come. You know, your brother's leaving in two days. It's not like you can't hang out with Rhys who-ever-he-is then."
"I'm sorry," Cath said, a little bit desperately. She was sorry. She felt horrible. For ruining Jamie and Izzie's day, at least. But she wasn't about to blow off Rhys Tilney. Not for John Thorpe anyhow. She was also pretty sure she wasn't going to get any wardrobe advice from Izzie now.
Izzie turned sharply back to the mirror. She applied a layer of lip gloss. "I just think it's selfish, that's all. But you do what you want. I just think it shows where your priorities are," she said primly.
Catherine could feel herself sinking lower into the bed. She wished she had not come up. She wished she could fall through the bed and hide under it. She watched Izzie put the finishing touches on her face. She really didn't know what to say. The silence felt very large. Today was supposed to be a good day.
There was a knock on the door, and Izzie went to get it. Catherine heard Jamie when she opened it and then she heard the door shut and Izzie say loudly, "Catherine refuses to come."
Before Jamie could reply, there was another knock. The door was opened again, this time to John. On the bed in Izzie's room, Catherine pulled her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She sat, awaiting the trio. "Why won't she come?" Jamie asked, as they walked towards her.
"I'm in here!" Catherine called. Then they all were in the room.
"She's going out with that boy or whatever. So she won't come," Izzie explained to everyone. Catherine looked helplessly at her step-brother, wondering if he would turn on her too. He was, after all, holding Izzie's hand.
But Jamie smiled. "Aaah yes, the Tilney. Well if Cath can't go Cath can't go." He shrugged. He let go of Izzie hand to walk over and sit down on the bed next to Catherine. He was a really good brother.
"Then I'm not going," Izzie said, somewhere in between a rage and a pout.
"Okay, we'll go tomorrow. No big deal," Jamie said. Then he added to Catherine, "You'd better not get into trouble though, or you know that's going to come back on me somehow."
Catherine was about to reply that she never got into trouble, when for the first time John piped up. "Rhys Tilney is the skinny one right? With brown hair and the sister who looks like Claire Danes as a brunette?"
Cath looked at him, apprehensive about where this description was going. It seemed accurate enough, however, and she nodded.
John continued. "Because I just saw them on my way up. They were on their way out. I said hi. They said they were out for the day." He shrugged, but it wasn't like Jamie's shrugs. It kind of seemed mean. Catherine hadn't know that a shrug could be mean. John added, "Maybe they forgot."
Catherine felt like a hole had been burnt through her chest. It had been burnt through her chest and was now working on the rest of her body. Even her fingers and toes were beginning to tingle. Had he really forgotten her? He had asked her. Why would he ask her just to forget her? But it wasn't as if John would lie. Nobody would just lie like that. Maybe it had been a misunderstanding.
She said aloud, "Maybe it was a misunderstanding."
John was putting on a sympathetic face. "They definitely said they'd be gone for the day."
"Go get dressed," Izzie commanded. Her rage and pouting had dissolved now that the situation was once again within reach of her control. "You have to come with us now. You can't sit around here waiting for him to show up when he's not going to."
"Maybe I should text him? Just to see what's going on?" Cath asked.
But Izzie's answer was vehement. "No, you can't do that. That's letting him win."
"Come on Iz, maybe she should give him the benefit of the doubt," Jamie suggested.
But Izzie shot him a glare, and he held up his hands in defeat. "Trust me, Cath," Izzie said. "You can't text him. Don't give the douchebag the satisfaction."
So Catherine got dressed and allowed herself to be taken to the Statue of Liberty, and salvaged the day for everyone else. For her it was already ruined. To make matters worse, she realized halfway there that she had left her phone on Izzie's bed. She couldn't even check it for messages. So it was not under they returned that she received her texts. There were two. They were from Rhys. The first was from 12:05.
Came by but your Aunt said you'd gone out. Can only assume you're with one of your other many men.
The second was from two hours later. It's simply said: Well then.
Catherine was angry. Very, very angry. Izzie wanted to watch an episode of Torchword before they all had to dress up and go to some show. (What show? Catherine couldn't remember. Some broadway.) But Catherine declined. She said she was tired and headed downstairs to her own suite.
But Jamie new Catherine well enough to know that it took more than mere tiredness for her to reject Captain Jack Harkness. He followed after her. He didn't even have to ask her how the weather was. As soon as the hotel door was shut behind them Catherine exploded.
"He lied to me! He actually just lied to me!"
Catherine was pacing. Jamie sat down on a loveseat. "The Tilney?" he asked.
"No, John," she said. She crossed the room and fell beside him onto the seat. "Look," she said and emphatically thrust her cell phone at Jamie so that he could read the text messages from Rhys. "He told me he saw Rhys leaving for the day. He lied."
"Maybe it was a misunderstanding?"
Catherine scowled at him. She knew why he was standing up for John. It was because he was dating John's sister. That wasn't fair. Jamie was supposed to be always on Catherine's side. "A misunderstanding is like when Rose went back with the Doctor and saved her father's life and accidentally almost ended the world. That was a misunderstanding. This is like… I don't know. It's like horrible. He's like Benjamin Linus."
"I can tell your upset because you're mixing your sci-fi metaphors." Jamie said, handing her back her phone. "But….oh never mind. I'm not even going to try. You're right. John's an ass. But it's not that big of a deal. Just text Tilney and tell him it was a mix-up. It wasn't your fault."
Catherine just groaned, slouching down in the chair. What was she supposed to say? How could she explain in only 160 characters?
There wasn't time anyway to compose the perfect text. They were going to a broadway. She had to get ready.
Catherine saw Wicked that night. But although Catherine saw Wicked, Catherine could not tell you anything about Wicked if you were to ask here, and here is the reason why. Before the play started she saw him: Rhys Tilney. And he saw her. It was absolutely impossible that this should happen. But impossible things just kept happening. And there he was, three rows ahead of her.
Catherine was sandwiched between Jamie and John. And, as fate would have it, at the moment Rhys Tinley turned around and locked eyes with her, John was leaned toward her and she was laughing at something he had said. This was a very unlikely situation for two reasons. Firstly, Catherine was still very mad at John (though he had apologized profusely when she had told him why, and told her how much he had been looking forward to spending the day with her and all sorts of thing like that designed to make her un-angry). Secondly, it was very seldom that John said anything at all to make anyone laugh. This just happened to be that rare moment. And Rhys Tilney turned around and saw her and looked immediately away. And Catherine's heart sank.
So she could not focus on the show. Instead, she was staring at the back of Rhys's head (or trying to – it was difficult with two rows in between them) and planning. When the intermission finally came, she waited in her seat until she saw Rhys get up and begin walking out of the theater. As soon as that happened, she was up and after him. It wasn't creepy-stalker-ish or anything. She just had to say what she had to say.
She caught up to him in the lobby. She had to say his name twice before he turned around and saw her. "Oh hey," was all he said, and he said it coolly. Even though Catherine did not know him well, she was pretty sure that meant he was mad. Usually, he liked to talk.
"I know you hate me," she blurted, "but it wasn't my fault. John said he saw you going out and you were leaving for the day and they were all talking at me to go with them and I didn't know what to do and I left my phone on top of it so I didn't even get your texts until like two hours ago and I'm sorry and trust me I would've way rather been with you." She paused to take a breath. "And Elle," she added. She was more embarrassed now. She wasn't sure she'd made any sense. But Rhys's expression had changed and he was smiling now. That had to be a good sign.
"I have absolutely no idea what you just said," he said. He sounded amused.
"I said I was sorry. It was really just this whole mix-up thing."
He laughed. "Alright, Morland, you can make it up to me by coming out tomorrow. Noon. But you stand me up again and you're going to have a harder time selling me you're nonsensical mix-up stories. I'm not that easy."
"Noon," Catherine repeated happily, feeling the world's axis righting beneath her feet.
As they turned around, Catherine spotted John watching them across the room. Rhys spotted him too. He leaned towards her. "You know, though, I wouldn't blame you were leaning in his direction. I think he's taller than me. And he has the Robert Pattinson hair going. How can I even compete?!" He held up his hands in mock-defeat.
Catherine played along. "With Robert Pattinson hair? I'm not sure you can."
"Just wait till tomorrow, Morland," he said, shooting her his mischievous grin.
Just wait. Catherine barely could.