AN: I know how you guys are waiting for me to update I'm Not Jealous and Her Mask, and I am working on both of those. Just give me a little more time, okay? I know, I hate when people don't update their stories for long periods of time, either. I am trying, though! So here's something to tide you over.
"Slide it to the left. Yeah, that looks good." Little Duncan grinned as his friend Geoff tugged the red bean bag chair over to the left corner of their small tree fort. Getting it up there had taken a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it.
"Now should we get the other one up, then everything else?" His blond nine year old friend asked, hopping up and down on his heels, while grinning from ear to ear.
"Uh huh! Let's do it!" Duncan agreed, equally as ecstatic. Duncan's Father had promised to build his Son a tree fort inside the large oak near the edge of their very large yard. It was a promise he regretted as soon as it was made however, since both young boys began pestering him every second of every day to start building it. Even after he'd tried to make up an excuse, that he needed to go out and buy some materials, as soon as the lie had left his mouth, Duncan had swiftly reminded him that there was plenty of wood and nails in the garage, not missing a beat.
Now that it was finally up, the two were over the moon. Finally a place where they could hang out without being spied on by Parents. It was their own little slice of heaven. Or, it would be, once the teal eyed boy convinced his Parent's to let him have a TV, cable, video games, and a mini fridge stocked with his ice cream in it.
As the two climbed back up the wooden latter to the tree house, bags full of little things like army men, toy guns, and Pokemon cards, they were surprised to find Duncan's next door neighbour staring critically at the walls of the fort. She spun around to face them, her freckled face scrunched up in distaste. "This place looks awful."
Duncan bristled; hating that she was insulting his tree fort. "It'll look awesome when we're done, and you aren't even supposed to be in here! Get out, Courtney!"
The aforementioned female gave him a dirty look and put her hands on her hips. "I don't have to listen to you."
"Yes, you do." He grunted, dropping his plastic bag of items on the wooden floor. "It's my-" Geoff shot him a pout, and the dark haired boy was quick to correct himself. "I mean it's our," The blond grinned. "tree fort. And we say no girl's allowed."
His hyper-active friend bobbed his head in a nod, before moving aside to crash down into the bean bag chair and watch how the boy and girl's argument would go down.
Whenever Duncan and Courtney ran into each other, a fight was always ensured.
Friends of the two knew better than to get involved with their petty fights, and would simply step aside to let them work it out. Or, argue it out until their Parent's sent them both inside.
"It shouldn't matter if I'm a girl! That's just unfair!" She shouted, stomping her dainty little foot, and her mocha colored pigtails bounced with the movement.
"Life's unfair, Sweetheart." He sneered, using the same phrase his Dad would always use whenever the boy would huff about his own life not being fair. Minus the sarcastic endearment at the end, of course.
The young girl fumed, hands dropped from her side and forming fists.
The teal eyed boy gave her a cocky grin, and leaned against the frame of the opening to the fort.
"You... you jerk!" She shouted, and ran toward him, and he quickly side stepped out of instinct, knowing she'd hit him if she got too close. His heart however, came to a screeching halt as he saw her fall right out the door of the tree fort.
"Courtney!" Duncan shouted as she screamed when she realized she was falling, and Geoff was already on his feet and was climbing down the ladder. The other boy on his friend's heels.
She was sitting up on the ground, so his heart starting pumping again, slowly. She hadn't died. It was okay.
But that's when he saw her ankle. It was already swelling and turning different colors.
Geoff looked at it with wide eyes, and he stuttered out a quick, "I-I'll go get help!" before dashing off in the direction of Duncan's home.
Duncan fell to his knees next to the girl, ignoring the way the dry leaves poked at his bare legs where his black shorts didn't cover. "C-Courtney?"
She looked sideways at him, and for an instant, he saw pure terror and sorrow in her dark eyes. Though it was only for half a second, before her left hand came and slapped his cheek. Hard.
The boy continued to stare off in the other direction, as he could taste blood pooling in his mouth from where he bit his tongue when her hand had collied with his cheek. After a few minutes of awkward, tension filled, silence, he turned to look at her again. "I'm sorry." He mumbled, utterly sincere. He'd broken more than his fair share of bones, -and her ankle definitely looked broken- and he knew how much it had hurt. His pride and ego were also taking a major blow at the moment, because he also knew how much he'd bawled when he'd broken his arm the summer prior.
Then she started to sniffle. "I-It hurts." She hiccuped, as she obviously fought so hard against the moister that pooled in her eyes.
"I know." He replied, feeling helpless and guilty, and utterly clueless as what he should do. "Your hair's all messed up." He muttered, spotting her now lopsided and ragged pigtails that were littered with dark leaves.
The girl gave a snort, before puffing out a dry, sarcasm filled, "Yes, because when you're hurled from a tree house, you worry about what your hair looks like afterwards."
He almost cracked a grin, before he took in what her said, and scoffed. "It's a tree fort, Princess." He flicked the hair pony holding her pigtails up, as it had a little tiara shaped decoration attached to the elastic.
She gave him a deadpan expression. "Tree house."
He crossed his arms over his chest. "Tree fort."
"There's a bean bag chair in it. It's a house."
"What? A fort can't be comfortable? And I already told you it wasn't finished, yet!" He huffed.
She scowled, tears momentarily forgotten, -though Duncan was certain it still hurt like a son of a gun, another phrase he'd learned from his Father- and gave him a light punch in the shoulder.
"Stop hitting me!" He finally whined, then growled in frustration when she gestured with the hand she'd hit him with, -twice- to her ankle.
He rubbed the back of his neck, -a nervous habit of his- and gave her a apologetic look.
"Um, here, Mom says you're supposed to keep it lifted up." He mumbled, as he grabbed her swollen ankle, just trying to help. Except when he took hold of it, she gasped in apparent pain, so he quickly released it. What had happened to the smug, cocky boy he'd been only five minutes earlier? In his place was this panic stricken, guilt ridden, mess.
"Sorry!" He quickly blurted out, and she sobbed lightly, the tears finally spilling over. She tugged her knee close to her chest, then clutched the broken part of her body.
"There's no one home!" Geoff shouted, sparing Courtney from anymore of his help.
"Dang! I forgot Mom and Dad were working late today!" Duncan grunted, then gave Geoff a quick 'Help me' look.
The blond rushed over, and noticing how the girl sobbed, he mouthed, "What'd you do?"
Duncan gave the boy a glare, and then sighed. "Let's go tell her Parent's. They should be-"
"N-No. They're at work, too." Came a weak reply as the girl hiccuped once more.
Blowing out a mouthful of air, the male child reached down to hook his hands under her armpits, much to her surprise. "Okay. Then... Geoff, help me carry her inside. You take her feet. But be careful."
"So how's it feel, Court? Any better?" Geoff asked, once they'd carried her into the house and set her on the couch with an icepack.
"It still hurts. I need to get to a Hospital." She piped up, then hiccuped again as both snot and tears continued to roll down her face.
Geoff nodded, smiling understandingly, before rushing over to the kitchen to use the phone to call his Parents. They could get her to the Hospital.
Courtney closed her eyes for a moment, taking nice deep breaths, when a tissue suddenly touched her cheek, and her eyes snapped open.
"Sorry." Duncan whispered, drying her tears and less than attractive snot bubbles lightly with a tissue.
She let him, feeling completely energy drained, and too exhausted to stop him.
Once her tears had dried up, the kid gently pulled the hair elastics out, and took a brush to her silken brown hair. She didn't stop him then, either.
"Make sure it looks good. And- ow! Don't pull so hard!" She ordered, as the brush hit yet another large knot that he'd reefed carelessly on.
"Oh, quit complaining." He hissed under his breath, taking a chunk of hair and twirling the elastic around it.
"This is all your fault, you know. I should get my Mommy to sue you."
Lips pursed, he gave an extra hard yank on the piece of hair he'd been holding, and smirked when she yelped. "I'm not the idiot who fell out of fort."
"I did not fall, you pushed me." She accused, and Duncan fumed, dropping the hair brush to the floor.
"I did not!"
"Yes you did!"
"Nuh uh! You ran right past me out the door!"
"No! You pushed me!"
"Ugh, you're so stupid!" The boy finally exclaimed, standing up, utterly fed up. "I can't believe I even tried to help you. I should of just left you outside!"
"At least it would of been better than being in here with a butt head like you!" She shot back. Both of the children's tempers were rising higher and higher, that when Geoff walked into the small living room he found the two screaming at one another.
"Oh boy..." Geoff muttered, quickly retreating back inside the kitchen where it was safe.
"My poor baby." Courtney's mother cooed, after Geoff's parent's had brought their son and new friend back home from the Hospital. Duncan had refused to come, giving a gruff, "I'm gonna go and play in the Tree fort, that Courtney is banned from." before stomping off.
So it had been a car ride full of Geoff's Mom and Dad asking them both questions on what happened, then the two children giving each other a weary look when they reached the Hospital. Neither were very fond of them.
"It's okay, Momma. It doesn't even hurt that bad." Courtney mumbled, her face pressed against the woman's stomach as she hugged the girl in a vice-grip.
"We're really sorry about this." Duncan's Mother spoke up, brushing her blond hair from her eyes identical to Duncan's, and gave the mocha skinned woman a strong smile. "We know how our son can be a little bit of a troublemaker at times."
"Please, he'll be in Juvie Hall before he's fifteen." The aforementioned son's Father scoffed, and his Wife elbowed him in the ribs.
Onyx eyes scanning the area, and making sure no little boys with teal eyes were around, Courtney spoke up. "It... it wasn't his fault. I fell."
Geoff give his best friend's neighbour a smile, and a light nudge in the side, and she returned his smile.
"I thought you said he pushed you?" Courtney's Father asked, and the girl blushed and shook her head.
"No. I fell out." She admitted, and got either looks of humor, or little smiles from the group of Parent's around her. "Duncan's not that bad... He actually tried to help me after, when he really could of just ignored me."
An arm wrapped around her shoulders, making her nearly drop the crutches she was holding in surprise. "Aw, thanks, Princess!" the voice chirped happily, and Courtney considered whacking him with the crutch nearest to him. "You know what, when you get that cast off, you can come into our fort whenever you want. Right, Geoff?"
Geoff nodded, beaming.
The Parent's gave one another a grin before heading back inside their homes to leave the children to talk.
"I thought I was banned." Courtney muttered, just a tad bitter.
"I changed my mind." Duncan smirked, ruffling her hair, to which she narrowed her eyes.
"My hair better not be messed up again."
"Or what? You're gonna come after me?" He asked mockingly, staring pointedly at her cast covered leg.
"You better believe it." She growled and he laughed, yelling at Geoff to follow him as the two kids took off running, with Courtney hobbling persistently behind them.
Years after, when the tree fort was forgotten, and all three children had moved on with their lives, -Courtney now in Harvard, and Geoff partying his ass off in Los Angeles- it still had a special place in one of the boy's heart.
His Parent's had moved from that small rancher-style home, almost a week ago, while Duncan had his own apartment on the other end of town. But when his Mother had informed him there were children living in the house he grew up in, he knew what he wanted to do, no matter the later consequences.
So when nightfall came, the boy with the green mohawk snuck onto the new family's property. He had his brand new carving knife and flashlight in hand, absolutely ready for what he was about to do. Sneaking up into the decrepit tree fort, Duncan spent hours carving a special message in the wall of the wooden house.
"I'm so in love with that girl."
Then, just for fun, he messily added a, "Isn't life a bitch? I only realize it now, after she's long gone."
Reaching into his shorts pocket, he pulled out a long lighter, used to light camp fires, and smiled grimly as he lit the wall.
Hopping down onto the ground, he watched. The flames licked away at the wood, before spreading down to the dry bark of the oak tree, and he hoped that it would burn away his feelings and memories like it did the message he'd left.
Because the tree fort was no longer a place of fun and happiness, it was of regrets and sadness. Over what should have been, and what he should have done.
And no kids deserved to play in it any longer.
AN: Not quite the happy ending you expected, huh? Man, at times like these, I wish I could draw. I had the perfect image in my head of Duncan standing in front of the tree fort, with smoke floating up into the night sky, while the flames covered the little fort and tree. *Sigh* Anyway, review~