Cree was conflicted. Ear buds, or no ear buds? She didn't feel like being scolded as soon as she walked through the door. Twenty years old and they still make me feel like I'm fourteen. Deciding not to risk it, she pulled the candy purple headphones out of her ears and stuffed them into her pocket, shutting off her music player as she did so.

Home for the summer. What a joke. Cree's thoughts were bitter as she twisted the doorknob with one hand and gripped her duffel bag with the other. It stopped being 'home' when Abby started treating her like a piece of gum stuck to her shoe. Cree couldn't remember why her sister was so cold, but there was probably a good reason. She didn't remember much from before her seventeenth birthday, when she'd tripped while walking down the stairs and woken up in the hospital a week later. Three years of the cold shoulder had made Cree's visits home a real pain.

Creeping in the hallways as quietly as possible, she opened the door to her old room, looking just as she'd left it after graduation. She dumped the grey bag on her bedspread, coughing as a cloud of dust rose to greet her, and turned to the window to open it. The blinds were closed and the latch stuck a bit, but she was able to muscle it up eventually. Fresh air and sunlight streamed into the stuffy room, cooling Cree's nerves enough for her to traverse the rest of the house.

The kitchen was empty, fluorescent lights beating down on the linoleum, just like always. Her sneakers squeaked against the floor as she made her way to the living room. The television was on, as though someone had just left, playing some old movie about teenagers in Saturday detention. Cree picked up the remote and flicked the T.V. off.

"I was watching that." She whipped around, surprised. Standing behind her was a lanky boy with auburn hair. He had a ratty backpack flung over his blue-clothed shoulder and a hand shoved in his pocket as he eyed her irritably. The boy dropped his bag on the couch and brushed past her, grabbing the remote from her hand as she tried to place where she'd seen him before. It hit her like a van full of sumo wrestlers.

"Hoagie P. Gilligan Junior, is that really you?"

He flopped onto the sofa next to his backpack and clicked the movie back on. "That's what's written on my boxers, and they've never lied to me before."

She decided to ignore that. "Where's Abby?" Hoagie raised an eyebrow and pointed behind her. Abigail Lincoln was leaning against the doorjamb, glaring at her sister moodily with her arms crossed. Cree wiggled her fingers at her feebly in a half-sort-of greeting that Abby ignored as she strode past the older girl to join Hoagie on the couch. He obediently scooted over to make room for her.

"Was there something ya needed, Cree?" Abby asked, her eyes determinedly fixed on the screen. Cree flinched inwardly. So that's how it's gonna be. Great.

"Just wanted to know when Mamma and Daddy are gonna be back," she mumbled. "Er…can I watch too?"

Something reflected in Abby's eyes when she looked back at her sister. It looked a little like an apology, but Cree didn't dare hope for that much.

"Abby don't see anything stoppin' ya."


I may or may not continue this. I sort of like it as a stand alone fic. If you don't like it, please tell me, because I sort of just cut it off there and had some rushed editing because it's been sitting on my computer for ages.

Hey, new summertime challenge for all of you, details on my profile, go check it out! Right after you review, of course.

Love always,

Jess