Hey all. Thanks for everyone who has made it this far in the story, and for all the comments and reviews. They really got me posting faster and happier. So this is it until my next story.
Disclaimer: Still mostly not my characters.
Chapter 15: Not everything works out as planned... but it works out well
Stella shivered as she felt a pair of arms wrap around her from behind.
"You're pouting," Joe whispered in her ear.
"Of course I'm pouting. In two hours you're going to be on that stage kissing that... that girl."
"Well, last I heard you hadn't been able to talk Penny out of the kiss, so I'm just going to have to assume that that's still the case."
"I wouldn't say that."
"You talked her out of the kiss?" Stella asked, spinning around to face Joe.
The pout returned.
"But I did realise something."
"I realised that I joined this play so that Nick wouldn't have to face Penny alone."
"And Nick doesn't have to face Penny at all anymore since he's done giving her songs."
"And so I have no reason to get up on that stage tonight."
Stella's eyes widened. "What?"
"I'm flattered she cast me as the lead, really I am, but I'm not attached to the idea of being in this play. I don't want to kiss Brooke. Penny doesn't want to take the kiss out. So I think Nick's right. The only way I'm not going to be kissing Brooke is to not be in the play."
"But, what about Penny?"
Joe narrowed his eyes. "Did I mention she broke my baby brother's heart?"
"What about me?" Stella asked with a smile.
"What about you? You never had to kiss Brooke."
"No, I meant what about me. I'm supposed to be in the play."
"Well, you can either go up there and I'll hide in the back so no one can see that I'm here, or you can come on a date with me."
"An official date?"
"An official date where we don't pretend to be with someone else and we make out somewhere other than the library."
"What makes you think I'm going to make out with you when it's just our second date?"
"I'm very charming," Joe said, taking a deep breath.
He nodded, already sweeping in so their lips could meet.
"Very charming indeed."
"I'm sorry. I know. We're going to be late."
"Late for what?" Kevin asked as he opened the passenger door for Macy.
"For the play."
"We aren't going to the play."
"But you're in the play."
"Yeah, but then Joe told me he wasn't going because he doesn't want to kiss Brooke, and so I don't want to be around when Penny gets angry at him. For some reason people think that getting mad at one of us is getting mad at all of us. I am not taking her anger for Joe's sake."
"Then why am I dressed up?"
"We're still going on a date; just not to the play."
He started the car and refused to tell Macy where they were going.
"Kevin?" Macy asked after a few minutes.
"I'm not telling you what the plans are."
"No, it's not that. It's just that I remembered something."
"Well, my dad said that if you were going to be sticking around, he might as well make an effort to get to know you and like you better."
"Macy, that's awesome," Kevin said, almost swerving off the road as he looked over at her.
"Yeah, except that he thought a good way to start would be to go see you in the play."
"But I'm not going to be in the play."
"Yeah," Macy said, her teeth biting down on her lower lip.
"Well, the play hasn't even started yet. Can you call him and tell him not to go? I mean, will that make it worse?"
"You're giving him an out from having to watch a school play. Actually, now that I think about it, he might like you a whole lot more because of this."
"All right," Kevin said as Macy dialled her father, "I will remember to quit things more often."
He winked over at her when she gasped at his decision.
So maybe he had won one point with her father. It was a start if nothing else.
Nick peeked around the corner and into the auditorium. There was no way he was going in there. There was especially no way he was going in there alone. He didn't care what people said about him, he would run away if he had to.
"What are you doing?"
He jumped at the sound of a voice so close to his ear.
Sam laughed at the sigh that escaped with the greeting.
"Hi. What are you doing?"
"Joe and Kevin and Stella aren't coming, for a number of reasons. I think Penny's having a breakdown and I don't want to be anywhere near that."
"So you're going to hide during the whole play?"
"I thought I'd just escape."
"But all your songs..."
He shrugged. "I like all my songs; I don't have to hear them tonight. Besides, I have heard them so many times during rehearsals that I won't mind missing them once."
"So let's go then."
"Let's get out of here." Sam grabbed Nick's hand and tried to pull him toward the exit.
"Wait. What about your song? Don't you want to hear that?"
"Well, I understand what you did. You wanted me to think that I was as good as you and Penny so you got her to agree to use one of my songs before she knew that it was one of my songs."
"I didn't want you to think you were that good. I wanted you to know that you were that good."
"Fine, I know now. But..."
Sam sighed and rolled her eyes. "It wasn't supposed to be a slow song and it's a note too high and she changed a word in the second verse and—"
"And you're saying I screwed up your song."
Sam narrowed her eyes and fiddled with Nick's fingers where he still held her hand.
"I'm just saying that's not the way I had imagined it."
"You're saying that I screwed up your song and you don't want to hear it be played wrong."
"I just... Look, do you really want to go in there and face Penny by yourself, or do you want to go out with me?"
"Is that even a question?"
He smiled at her and led them toward the door of the school.
"You were also pitchy when you sang it, you know."
"I was nervous. I didn't know if you were ever going to talk to me again."
"You're voice went squeaky."
"My voice does not squeak."
"It was high right there too..."
"So wait," Macy said as she held back Kevin's hand which was swooping in to feed her another grape.
"If Joe's with Stella, and you're with me, then does that mean that you both left Nick alone to face Penny's wrath?"
"No. If all goes well, Nick's with Sam."
"Yeah, he managed not to do the falling too hard too fast thing, but he still fell for her. Hopefully she fell for him as well, otherwise, I'll be getting a call from Nick or Joe soon, and this date will be over."
Macy rested back against Kevin's shoulder, a blanket beneath them as they stared up at the stars.
"Did you set him up with Sam?"
"No. They just... found each other, I guess."
"So, you didn't win the bet."
"Well, you didn't win the bet either."
"So who gets the prize?"
Kevin wrapped his arm tighter around Macy and pulled her in closer against him.
"Oh, I'm sure we'll think of some way to figure it out."