Author's Note: Hasn't been beta'd. Thanks to everyone who reviewed this. I really appreciate it.

Now onto ...

Strangled Sunlight

:A Midsummer's Night Party:

The stars were bright on a midsummer's night. Yells, laughter and music were in the distance – a roaring bonfire crackling and spiting in the darkened night while teenagers from all over spilled out of the large wooden holiday house's porch, chugging alcohol, and onto the lawn.

Andy Williams, aged fifteen, was sitting above this on a grassy hill, his back to the tall pine tree forest, and facing the house and the lake that lay beyond it. He had come up here over half an hour ago with a bottle of Smirnoff in hand, which was slowly being drained, just wanting to get away from the crowds – and Toby, his 'brother' in every sense of the word, who was seeing how many girls he could get some 'hooks' with.

Not that Andy was much better normally – but sometimes he just needed to get away and to sit and think. Contemplate the world, watch the stars, and ponder life. The whole world seemed to become muted as he watched, the reflection of the moon in the lake, glowing blinding white holding his attention as well as the dozens of lights from other summer houses which were dotted around the lake to the main town. He liked it when it was like this – when silence ruled.

"What are you up to?"

Andy titled his head back to see a sinfully red dress (which was more of a long t-shirt than dress) and legs that seemed to stretch out forever. Nice legs too – clean shaven, with the glow of the sun prevalent on them. Her face however was harder to see in the darkened night though she had dark hair.

She moved from behind him, him following her every move, and knelt beside him. As she did he realised it was Lauren Jones, the girl from New York with the wealthy family – very wealthy at that. Her hair fell in dark tangles that looked incredibly soft – in fact she did looked soft all over. He was tempted to reach out and pull her fringe behind her ear but decided against it. While Lauren was someone he knew, thanks to Toby, she wasn't someone he knew very well – he wasn't even sure how she had known where to find him. He had slipped away with the grace of a ninja.

He had only met her this summer – while Toby had met her last summer when Andy had been away at military school. It had been the first time he had missed a summer at the lake with his family.

Every summer the Williams went to their summer house which Andy's grandmother had inherited with her siblings from their Great Aunt. A deal had been struck up that every summer the whole family (Karen's side that was) would convene and spend some good quality time together: hiking, fishing – the kind of thing which lasted for the first two days before becoming non-existent.

The small town which was a two mile walk away hosted a collection of wealthy individuals in the summer and thus it was the hot spot for connections to be made. Teenagers, local and 'tourists', could party it up at various points around the lake while their parents sipped champagne at the country club. The younger kids were less fortunate at night though ... but got their fill during the day under the blazing hot sun and dive bombing into the lake.

In true fashion Andy and Toby had been party hopping since they had arrived a week and a half ago: waking up early so that their parents weren't alerted to what they were up to – before crashing in the afternoon and then getting up again for the night. Tonight, they were at some guy's house –Steve – as Steve's parents had flown suddenly back to New York for a book launch for a party that involved a bonfire, lots of booze, lots of scantily dressed trust fund kids, and some drugs on the side - if you were into that of course.

Andy had been into it actually ... but after a summer of being yelled at by drill sergeants and having his hair shaved off he wasn't tempted to try it again.

"Just watching the stars," he said.

"Watching the stars?"


"I wouldn't place you as a star watcher," said Lauren, throwing her hair back and gazing up into the night.

"And why is this?" he said with a light tone, intently watching her.

"From what I heard about you ..."

"Nothing bad I hope,"

She turned to him, a smirk evident. "Maybe, maybe..."

He took a swig of his vodka. "Don't make me beg,"

"Well – when I heard about you, the little brother of Toby Williams," he fought the urge to correct her when she said 'brother', "was even more charming and enthusiastic than his big brother. Heard how absolutely wild you were last summer – I had assumed that this summer you'd be sculling beer, kissing girls –"

"Basically being Toby Williams but turned up to eleven?"

She dipped her head, tearing at the grass. "Yeah,"

He smirked at that, eyes gleaming. Toby Williams, Andy Williams – if it wasn't for the fact he was taller, slimmer (Toby had bulked up for football), hair darker, and green eyes he would be a clone of Tobias Robert Williams. Fortunately though he wasn't – though he could see how the outsiders couldn't see that. He and Toby were both – his grandmother put it best – touched by the stars and sun to run wild ... or something like that.

He watched her hands rip out the blades of grass. A tear, a rip – the blades were left to float in the gentle and almost non-existent breeze. Tear, tear, rip, rip. It was green grass – floating now before hitting the ground again. Lovely bright green grass – he could even see that in the pitch black.

Andy's hand crept forward and caught Lauren's as it went for more. She glanced at him, brow furrowed.


"I just –"

He froze.


"Think you should leave the grass alone," he mumbled, face getting warm.

She chuckled. "Sure thing, Andy,"

Lauren fell back from a kneel and Andy steadied her as she sat down and spread out her legs, flexing her toes. They were long toes that shined from nail polish. There were sections that were chipped, here and there.

"Like my toes?" asked Lauren.

He quickly looked away to the lake. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her shit-eating grin.

"I think toes are weird," she said.

He glanced back at hers, watching her wiggle them. "A bit – I guess ... feet in general are weird though."

"I know exactly where you're coming from,"

Silence fell around them, both looking back to sky which was tapered with pinpricks of gas burning uncountable distances away. The sway of the trees – the crick and rustle of branches – was building behind them, the party but a dull hum in the back of their minds.

Toby Williams watched her sway and move with a trained eye. She was a dancer. You could always pick out the dancers from the rest. The rest bobbed up and down, twirling every now and then but dancers did more. They were sharp yet fluid. She was sharp and fluid. And so much fun. The other girls were mimicking her, mimicking and failing at it.

Nothing could beat Alana Engel.

He was caught in her spell, her spell that made him want to leap in there and hold her close – when had she gotten ... well hot?

Her laugh – god her laugh was so light, so dark – like smooth chocolate dripping on red rose petals. She spun again, dropping to the ground on the beat and pushing straight back up, legs in the eye, dress slipping down as gravity took over.

Damn – black satin lace.

She flipped over, staggered out of the crowd, and pushed her ginger hair back behind her ears. Toby walked quickly around the edge of the crowd but when he got around she was nowhere in sight.

Eventually they had noticed cars starting to pull away and the bonfire being quenched by the remainder of the punch (which was what Toby would later claim though Andy somehow doubted that enough punch had remained to accomplish it). Andy had clambered to his ground first, vodka bottle empty, and had held out his hand to help Lauren up.

He felt out of it. His head was a little fuzzy, everything needed to be done slowly. The other thing was that he could see his hand moving but he wasn't moving it – it was like some spirit had taken over him and had control over his body. It was the most peculiar thing and when he mentioned it to Lauren she rolled her minds and took his bottle, sighing.

"Smart," she drawled.

He chuckled.

It took a lot to get Andy drunk – and he loved it every time. He wasn't an angry drunk either – or a depressed one. He was the fucking life of the party drunk. Alcohol made things easier. He didn't have to care what he did because he was drunk.

And he didn't get the annoying side effects the next morning which was always a benefit.

He grinned. "Race you?"

"You're drunk."


"And you'll trip and die and then I'll have to explain to your family why you are mush,"

"That's being ... what's the word?"

"Let's go," said Lauren, grabbing his hand and pulling him forward.

"But the word!"

He dug his heels in, pouting. He was not going to leave without the word ... the words. Words were weird, they meant so much, meant so little. Spoken was different from written. And sometimes intention mattered more than the sound you made. Words, words ...

"Going anywhere with that?" asked Lauren, arching an eyebrow.

Andy frowned. "I said that...?"

She nodded.

"Awkies for mesie!"

Lauren bit back a laugh and pulled at him again. This time he allowed her and they headed down the hill. They got faster as they walked. Andy threw a side glance at Lauren and then ripped his hand out and sprinted.

He heard her shout as he leapt into the air, leather boots springing off the ground, his hair wild and untamed as he tripped the light fantastic all the way down. He was air, he was the sky, he was the freedom. He was gathering speed. Thud, thud, leap. He wanted to dance, he wanted to spin. He wanted to –

His right foot came down into a dip in the ground, and he fell forward as his ankle hit the edge of it. He flew and smashed into the grass, and twisted onto his side. He began to roll, round and round. He was veering off to the left, still rolling, stomach left behind as he laughed.

He came to an eventual stop and just lay there, the whole world spinning.

"Fucking idiot!"

He chuckled as Lauren came to stand over him, tilting her head down, showing bright white teeth as she smiled – or rather tried not to smile.

"That's not nice," he said. He reached his hand up and she went to pull him up but he pulled down, hard. She tumbled onto him, breath knocked out of him as she lay on top of him, her soft - so soft - hair tickling his face as she propped herself up.

"Neither was that,"

He stuck his tongue out.

"Shall we get up?" asked Lauren after a minute

"We probably should,"

Her warm body lingered on him before she pushed against him, and got back up. He watched her as she straightened her dress, running her hands down it to get rid of the grass she had collected off him. Lauren gave him a pointed look when he didn't get up and he sighed.

So much effort.

He rolled onto his stomach, did a push up and went up with the momentum his head rushing as he did. He stood upright for a moment, blinking as the world tilted. Maybe he had had too much ... his stomach contracted and he swallowed hard, eyes shut tight.


"I'm okay," he opened his eyes and forced a smile, "That hill got me ... I'm going to go find Toby,"

He trotted off. He needed to find Toby quickly before – his stomach contracted again. He tongue squirmed in his mouth and he hopped forward hoping for it to go away. Note to self: no more vodka.

It was only later, when he and Toby had staggered home both worse for wear, that he remembered that he had never said goodbye or asked her why she had come up to sit with him.


Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed that. Thoughts are appreciated.