A Crack in the Sidewalk
Disclaimer: I own nothing
When the final bell rang, marking the end of the school day, Blossom couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief. If the truth were to be told, the return to school after her one year hiatus had been as anticlimactic as she could have hoped for. Aside from the occasional curious glance and awkward wave, people had been nonchalant and uninterested. She faded into the background today, not something she would usually be proud of but, considering the circumstances, it was an indication of her successful return to the world of academia.
The day had been a relative success and, yet, she couldn't help but feel crestfallen over her tiff with Brick. She couldn't understand what was going on with them. Even though things between them had never been exactly friendly, their relationship was of the playful variety. Brick teased her, it was what he did. But lately, if she recalled correctly, he didn't tease her anymore. Lately, they fought, seriously, on a daily basis, in a way that left her feeling on the verge of tears. There was a tension between them, and Brick was becoming reserved, angry and immensely snide, in a way that was almost bitter. She felt like she didn't know him anymore.
Although they'd all arrived at school that morning together, Buttercup and Butch had soccer practice after school. Bubbles had a regional choir audition and Boomer was practicing with his band. She didn't know if Brick still intended to drive her home, but she didn't particularly care. As sad as she was, she was also angry and her pride refused to seek him out.
She strode purposefully down the hallway, her messenger bag banging against her hip. Ahead of her, she noticed Boomer and Bubbles walking down the hallway together. They were very close and, although it made her very nervous, she couldn't deny that they were sweet. When Boomer looked at Bubbles, he looked at her softly, like he adored her, like she was his center of gravity. She trusted Boomer to take care of Bubbles; he didn't have the mean streak that both Butch and Brick were capable of. Boomer was a nice kid, who could really pull through and shine if ever given the chance.
The pair turned down a hallway as Blossom exited the double doors. The sky was a clear blue, and it helped to lift her spirits slightly. Fall was a lovely season and she intended to savor it. She didn't have to work at the café today; her messenger bag was delightfully heavy, promising an evening of intense academic pursuit. She walked home with a slight spring in her step. When she arrived at the apartment she offered a friendly wave to the polite elderly couple who lived next door. As she unlocked the door with her spare key she couldn't mask the disappointment she had that the red pickup hadn't come after her; that she hadn't heard an obnoxious 'yo pink' ringing in her ears. The thing is, he used to do those things, it was natural, it was Brick.
The frustrating thing was, they weren't even together, they were kind of, sort of, a little bit together but it was so ambiguous and sporadic and undefined. It felt like her emotional investment was a one-sided thing and she was misreading the 'signals'.
She entered the apartment and dropped her messenger bag by the worn couch. She threw on a grey sweatshirt, and pink sweat pants, and restlessly entered the kitchen in pursuit of something to eat. She wasn't the best cook in the house (Butch had a surprising knack for anything and everything culinary), but she was decent.
She felt a stab of irritation when she spotted the dishes piled high in the sink. Although she'd prepared a very organized, a very fair, color-coded dish washing schedule, everyone seemed to shirk their duties and she always ended up finishing the dishes up herself.
She sighed and pushed up her sleeves, grabbing her archaic mp3 player and shoving a headphone onto her ear. She was so caught up in the song and her intensive scrubbing that she didn't hear the apartment door open; she didn't hear anyone enter the kitchen. When Brick threw his arms around her waist and drew her to him, Blossom shrieked and dropped the plastic dish on the ground.
"Calm down, pink, it's just me."
Her heart sped as he rested his chin on top of her head.
"What do you want, Brick?" she cursed at the half-hearted, tremulous tone of her voice.
His grip was loose, his stance very relaxed. He could feel that her entire body was rigid, tense, frightened.
"You're never going to be scared of me, right pink?"
Blossom was startled. His character had undergone a sudden, strange change. She wondered if he was drunk.
She scoffed, "Are you kidding me? Timmy Jordan on the first floor is more intimidating."
"No matter what I do? You know that I'm not a nice guy, but I also hope you know that I'm not going to hurt you."
His words were vulnerable, but his voice wasn't. It was tired and hard and resigned and Blossom didn't like it. She was frightened of him; she was frightened because something was happening to him and she didn't know what.
But she couldn't tell him that.
When she didn't say anything, Brick bent over to carry her. Blossom squeaked and flailed, soap from her rubber gloves flying.
"Brick," she screeched.
Brick ignored her and carried her into the living room. He put her down gently, and, in a harried way, she smoothed out her sweatshirt, tugging off her pink rubber gloves in the process.
"What is wrong with you?" she hissed, disgruntled and a little frightened.
Brick's beanie was on his head, his hair was tied back into a short ponytail. His expression was quietly passionate.
"I am going to kiss you right now, because I want to and I'm letting you know because, if you want to stop me, I'll never force you to do anything."
Blossom went perfectly rigid as he leaned toward her; he pushed his lips against hers softly, unsurely at first, and then harder. She dropped the gloves and stood on her tiptoes leaning into the kiss. Brick had her against the wall, one hand on the wall above her, another gripping her wrist.
Blossom felt relief, she felt as though he was making a statement, as though he was taking responsibility.
When they parted, they were both breathing heavily. Brick looked embarrassed and pleased with himself and defiant, as though daring her to complain about his behavior.
Blossom could feel her face burn red, but she had no idea how to make this situation any less awkward. Brick abruptly turned away from her, leaving her surprised. He paused at the entrance to the hallway and turned to her, his cocky smirk gracing his features.
"Just to let you know, that wasn't a one time deal."
Blossom huffed, but not unhappily, "Who says I'm going to let you?"
His smirk, for the first time, was very charming, "I have a feeling you will."
When he left the living room, Blossom collapsed against the wall, the most ridiculous of smiles lighting up her face.
When Brick entered the cramped room he shared with his brothers, he pulled out his cell phone.
Blossom was still smiling as she made her way through her homework. Bubbles and Boomer had already made their way home (holding hands but Blossom pretended not to notice.)
Buttercup entered the house, her soccer bag slung over one shoulder and her book bag in her other hand. She was uncharacteristically quiet; she didn't say a single world but dropped off her bag in the girls' room. Blossom could hear the shower turn on and she could also sense her sister's distress. As much as Blossom wanted to remain in her impenetrable bubble of warm fuzzy feelings, her big sister senses would not be silenced.
When she heard the shower turn off, she gave Buttercup a few minutes before quietly creeping down the hallway, into the girls' room. Buttercup was sitting on her small cot, wearing a dark green tank top and grey sweatpants. She was staring into the mirror, running her hands through her hair, a thoughtful expression on her face.
Blossom had had her fair share of fights with her sister. They never really saw eye to eye on a broad spectrum of subjects, and Blossom had her pride and Buttercup had an abrasive streak. But they were sisters and they were all they had left.
Blossom sat behind her sister, grabbing a brush from the writing desk and pulling back Buttercup's hair.
"Want to talk about it?"
"Did someone hurt you?"
"Did you hurt someone?"
"I don't think so."
"Will you give me more details when you're ready?"
"There's not much to say."
"Then why don't you say it?"
"Butch kissed me."
Blossom stopped her brushing, a little startled. She wondered if the brothers coordinated this kind of thing.
"Does that bother you?"
"I don't know."
Blossom nodded. There really wasn't much she could do about this problem. Buttercup and Butch would have to figure it out. If she was too overprotective about this, both Buttercup and Butch could get hurt.
Blossom rose to her feet and smoothed down her sister's hair, "You know where to find me if you need anything."
It was 2 in the morning when Boomer was woken up by the sound of angry, hushed whispers. He'd always had an acute sense of hearing, but he pretended to be dead to the world as he eavesdropped on his brothers' argument.
"I can't believe you didn't tell us about this!" Butch hissed. Boomer couldn't recall the last time he'd heard Butch so angry. Butch liked to fight, yes, he liked to yell and be a fake-sort-of mad. This wasn't that kind of anger. This was real, white-hot anger.
Boomer didn't hear an ounce of uncertainty in Brick's voice, "What would you have done? You're not ready to understand it, nor do you want to. I wouldn't have told you, if we weren't going to have to relocate so soon."
Brick's voice was absolutely steady; his tone was flat.
"Are you fucking kidding me? Stop acting like this is some sort of sacrifice. Are you bored? Is that why you're doing this? This isn't a game, we could die, the girls could get hurt. I thought we were over this. You were the one who said we weren't going to get anything out of that kind of life. You led us into this without our consent. Now all of us are in danger! And you want me to understand?"
"There's nothing we can do about it now."
Butch cursed violently under his breath.
"So that's it? You just ruined all of our lives. We had a fucking chance Brick. We could have been legends. Now we're stuck in this. Once we're in there's no way out."
At this point, Boomer's eyes were wide open. He had no desire to eavesdrop and he wanted to be involved as they grappled for their future.
"You guys can run for it, Luchesi's got no influence on the west coast. Get out of here, change your names, become respectable members of society."
"Are you stupid?" Butch scoffed, "If we make a run for it, you're dead"
"Luchesi's gonna be out of the picture soon, just finish up this heist with me and you can leave if you want.
"No," Boomer repeated, "It doesn't matter how bad you've screwed up, we're not just going to abandon you."
Brick was surprised by the impassioned whisper, the fierce loyalty in Boomer's eyes.
"I'll be ok, you guys aren't like me, Butch, you're a thug but not a criminal thug, Boomer, you're a nice kid, you don't need to follow me into this."
"Whatever," Butch scoffed, "If this works we can get off without any repercussions."
In the bathroom adjacent to the boy's room, Bubbles' knees gave way.
A/N: Um…an update? Several plot twists, condensed into a short chapter? The tone of this sequel is vastly different from strangers and I'm not sure if I like it. I'd like to know what you think because I kind of miss the tone of strangers :/
As always opinions/comments/reviews are love