It was a beautiful night. The twilight sky was filled with light, bright stars shining from above, rejoicing in the warm summer air. Leaves fluttered in the slight breeze, and birds settled down for the night.
Hoagie P. Gilligan Jr. sat in a wooden chair pulled next to the slightly open window. His face was propped up on his fist, as he gazed at the sky, his eyes slightly brighter then normal. His other hand was slowly opening and closing around a soft orange ball.
"Liars." muttered Hoagie softly as he lifted his head off his fist, turning his head downward to stare at the small orange ball. "This does nothing to help stress."
He threw the ball to the floor, with slightly more force then necessary. The ball bounced once, then crashed into a small box, sending the contents spilling onto the floor.
Hoagie only spared a glance at the box, with the prized Yipper cards of his youth spilling out. With a small yawn, he glanced around the rest of his room, taking in the mess before him.
Clothes were strewn on the floor, books were lying haphazardly spine up, and airplanes were lying on the ground, some chipped here and there. Among the mess stood large cardboard boxes that leered at the items before them. Hoagie let out yet another sigh as he slid off his chair onto the blue-carpeted floor. He slowly reached out a pale arm to grasp the edge of a giant box, pulling it towards him as though it weighed much more then it did.
Dully, he lifted items off his floor, dumping them unceremoniously into the box. In went a blue shirt, which crumpled at the bottom. Next came his favorite book on airplanes. The book landed with a thud, pages wrinkling and tearing, but Hoagie didn't seem to care. Yipper cards followed, the edges crinkling and bending. More clothes after that, then shoes and pens and paper, and anything else Hoagie could easily reach.
Soon the box was full. Hoagie grabbed the nearby tape dispenser and messily sealed the lid shut.
He knew he should've done a better job. He should've kept the clothes with the clothes, the books with the books, and piled everything neatly in the box, taping it up just as neatly.
But Hoagie didn't care.
He hadn't cared for a long time.
Hoagie slowly pushed the box away from him with his foot. He turned on his back and lay on the floor, staring blankly at the painted clouds on his ceiling.
It wasn't fair.
He had a life here, friends, family, activities. He had the TND, and airplane club, and Wally, and Kuki, and Abby. They'd had plans this summer – picnics and adventures, arcades and burger joints. Hopes, dreams, and wishes.
He didn't want to leave them.
But he had to. In four days time, all of his worldly possessions would be locked away in a truck, and driven down to Portland, Oregon.
And then he would have to go too.
'Stupid Ms. Sanban.' thought Hoagie bitterly. 'It's all her fault.'
Deep in his heart, Hoagie knew Kuki's mother was not the one to blame. It wasn't her fault that her simple comment on the work ethic of his mother convinced the CEO Ms. Gilligan deserved a promotion. It wasn't her fault that his mom could only get the promotion by moving to Portland. It wasn't her fault his mother said yes.
But it sure felt good to blame someone.
With a groan Hoagie pushed himself to a sitting position, and resumed the packing of his possessions. His nonverbal protest of the move had left the place in shambles. Not a single object had survived Hoagie's wrath.
His hand reached out, and grasped a smooth flat object. Pulling it towards him, Hoagie noticed it was a picture frame. Some of the white paint had been chipped off, and a small crack ran across the glass, but other then that it seemed to have survived the assault.
But it wasn't just any picture. It was a picture of him and…
Abby Lincoln smiled up at Hoagie from the photograph. She was wearing a breathtaking green dress, her curly hair out of its braid for once, framing her slender face. Her arm was wrapped around a tall, skinny boy in a black tux. His unruly reddish brown hair showed signs of attempted – and failed – taming, while his blue eyes seemed to sparkle with delight and disbelief.
Hoagie stared glumly at the pair. The picture had been taken a year ago at the teens' Winter Formal. After two solid weeks of debate, Hoagie had finally gotten the nerve to ask Abby to the dance. The sheer happiness that had pumped through his body when she'd said yes still brought a smile to his face.
Too bad they had only gone as friends.
Hoagie sighed as he traced the lines of Abby's face with his eyes. He knew it was a hopeless wish but there it was – he wanted to be more then friends.
But Hoagie had heard enough stories from his friends about what happened to guys who tried to stray from the friend path to never allow him to even hint at his secret longing.
With a grunt he shoved the picture into the box, burying it underneath a pile of boxers, trying to stem the flow of memories washing through his brain.
Slowly Hoagie pushed himself to his feet, intent on retrieving his stress ball and giving it one more go.
His foot sank into a pile of blankets in front of him, coming to rest on top of something hard and sharp.
"Owww." yelped Hoagie as he quickly retracted his foot. Slowly he hobbled over to a clear spot near the pile, sitting down carefully, resting his injured foot on his lap.
He leaned forward, shoving the blankets aside, until a small bit of a plastic something revealed itself.
Hoagie hesitantly pulled the object from the pile before him. A tiny dinosaur hanging from a key chain grinned at him, the blue paint chipping off. It was an Apatosaurus, a dinosaur he barely remembered learning about in his 8th grade biology class. It was missing a chunk of its front leg, and a piece of gum was stuck to its tail. Hoagie grimaced as he grabbed a nearby tissue and tugged the hardened candy from the small creature's back.
It was stupid, it was silly, but Hoagie was grasped with the need to leave nothing behind – even something as insignificant as the key chain. He was already leaving behind too much. He didn't think he could stand it if he left anything else.
The dinosaur went into the box.
"What the heck are you doin' baby?"
Hoagie let out a startled yelp, half rising to his feet. He tripped backwards, landing butt first in the cardboard box. The dinosaur he had so carefully placed inside now dug uncomfortably into his back. He turned his head quickly to look at the red-capped girl perched on his windowsill.
Abby's eyes twinkled with amusement and her mouth twitched as she held back a laugh.
"Need a hand? Abby thinks you look a little…boxed in right now."
Hoagie's eyes lit up as he chuckled slightly.
"Yeah." he said, grinning lopsidedly. "But you might need to think outside the box to come up with the best solution!"
"Really?" said Abby teasingly as she held out her hand. "That's the best you can do?"
With a strong tug the box tipped over, freeing Hoagie and sending the contents flying everywhere.
Still chuckling, Abby and Hoagie cleared a spot on the floor by Hoagie's bed. They leaned against it, legs crossed, identical grins on their faces.
"So what are you doing Hoags?" asked Abby, sweeping her arm to encompass the mess in his room. The smile slipped off Hoagie's face.
"Packing." he said softly, refusing to look at her.
"For what?" asked Abby. "A trip?"
Hoagie shook his head.
"Y-You're not moving are ya?" asked Abby, her eyes widening with horror. Hoagie nodded slightly, his eyes fixed on his right foot. "Why didn't you tell us? Why didn't you tell me?"
"Don't wanna have to say goodbye." said Hoagie, his eyes beginning to water slightly. He sucked in a breath. He would not cry in front of Abby.
Slowly Abby patted him on the back. They sat in silence for a minute.
"Where to?" asked Abby quietly as she rubbed her arm.
"Portland." said Hoagie. His finger began tracing designs in the carpet.
"Oregon?" asked Abby. Hoagie nodded slowly. "When?"
"Wednesday." mumbled Hoagie.
"I don't want to go." whispered Hoagie childishly. "I mean, I'm gonna miss so much. I'm not gonna be there when Wally finally asks out Kuki. I can't be in the same team on the TND. Heck, I'll even miss school."
Abby touched his hand comfortingly. Hoagie took a deep breath, determined to spit his feelings out before it was too late. He opened his mouth, and then shut it again.
It was already too late.
Even if she returned his affections, what would be the point? He was moving in four days. They'd probably never see each other again. Hoagie sighed, rubbing a hand through his hair.
"Wouldn't it be great," sighed Hoagie sadly, "if things would never change? That's we'd stay the same forever?"
"Not really." sighed Abby. "Not all change is bad."
Hoagie snorted in disbelief.
"You don't believe me baby?" asked Abby
"I know you're right." sighed Hoagie. "I'm just not really in the mood to believe change can be good if you know what I mean. My whole life is being uprooted. There's so much I wish I could do, like hang out with you guys at the burger joint, win the best model airplane award in airplane club, or tell you…"
Hoagie stuttered to a halt, his cheeks bright red.
"Tell Abby what?" asked Abby curiously. Hoagie shook his head, his cheeks brightening further.
"Please?" asked Abby. Hoagie shook his head harder.
"Wasn't anything important." mumbled Hoagie.
They sat in silence, both mulling in their thoughts.
"Screw it." mumbled Abby angrily. "Look, Hoagie, you know you're Abby's best friend right?"
"And you're moving anyway." said Abby. "So might as well get it out. The thing is… well… y'see… um… Abby doesn't want to be friends anymore."
Hoagie's heart sank.
"Abby…Abby wants to be more then friends."
Hoagie's breath caught in his throat.
"Y-You…" stammered Hoagie "Y-You…"
"I like you Hoagie." shrugged Abby, red lighting up her cheeks. "Like-like you."
Silence fell as Hoagie tried to regain the power of speech.
"Look," said Abby sadly, mistaking Hoagie's silence as rejection. "Abby knows you probably don't like her back, but…"
"You like me." whispered Hoagie. Abby stopped talking. "You like me."
"That's what Abby said." sighed Abby wearily. A huge grin lit up Hoagie's face.
"You like me!" Hoagie burst into joyful laughter, happy for the first time since hearing about the move. "You like me!"
Abby started laughing too, her cheeks reddening further.
"Does this mean you like Abby back?" asked Abby her eyes twinkling.
A sly grin slid over Hoagie's face.
They laughed again, blue eyes locked on brown. Soon, their laughter faded.
Hoagie swallowed as he and Abby continued to look at each other.
He kinda sort of wanted to kiss her.
He hoped she felt the same, because he was about to do the most daring thing he had ever done in his life. More daring then insulting the meanest bully in school to his face. More daring then flying a salt filled SCAMPER on a kamikaze attack. More daring then asking Abby to Winter Formal.
He leaned forward quickly before he could lose his nerve and kissed her on the cheek. Abby turned to look at him, her face blank. Hoagie felt his hands begin to sweat.
"I…sorry…what?" mumbled Hoagie incoherently.
"You missed." repeated Abby, a smile breaking out on her face. She leaned forward, pressing her lips softly against his.
Her lips were soft and smooth, everything he'd ever dreamed they'd be. He felt her fingers thread through his hair as he gently wrapped his arms around her. Their eyelids fluttered shut.
And that was all. They didn't deepen the kiss, or press any closer then they already were. They simply basked in the moment, reveling in the fact that they liked one another, and those feelings were returned.
That was enough.
Slowly Abby pulled away, her eyes still shut, smiling happily. She gently detangled her hands from his hair while Hoagie removed his arms from around her waist.
For one brief moment they stared at each other, both thinking of all they could've been, but never would be now.
"Long distances relationships never seem to work y'know." whispered Hoagie sadly.
Abby thought about his words, her eyebrows pushed together, her lips pursed.
"Yeah they don't." said Abby. A slow smile flickered across her face. Slowly she took his hand in hers, squeezing lightly admiring the contrast.
"But Abby's willing to try."
A/N: Please excuse the lame puns, which are lame.
I think I might fail when it comes to writing romance. Maybe.
It may be interesting to note that that is the first kiss scene I have ever written. So please, please tell me, how was it? Was it realistic enough? Or was it super cliché?
Thanks for reading :)
Codename KND (c) Mr. Warburton
Dust in the Wind (c) Kansas