Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon.
So, um, yeah. It's been just about 5 days short of year since I updated. I'm overdue just a bit, don't you agree?
This Valentine's Day chapter has had to be split into two... it was getting pretty long, and I don't want another oddball chapter like I have in Blood on the Moon (there's a 17thousand word chapter among the usual 5thousand haha). Plus, you'd have to wait even longer if I uploaded it all together, as the second part isn't finished.
About me... I have graduated college and have a "real world" job, so unfortunately I don't have as much time to write as I used to. This week alone they've given me over 50 hours (which will be a nice big fat paycheck yay) so I tend to keep pretty busy.
However, I haven't abandoned you yet... though I'm pretty sure some of you have abandoned me (ehehe).
Summary: -high school setting- They were friends, close friends...just friends. And that's all they ever would be. At least that's what Paul tried to tell himself. But watching Dawn and Gary make out was frustrating him more than it should. Of course, Lyra's matchmaking skills and Drew's flirting tips weren't helping either.
Part I - Chapter X
9th Grade Sweethearts Part I
Valentine's Day. All Reggie was talking about was Valentine's Day.
Paul hated Valentine's Day.
Candies, hearts, balloons…frilly things that should not be in his apartment were suddenly adorning the kitchen counter. All of these were for Reggie's girlfriend. Paul had asked Reggie to shove all the junk in his closet, out of sight, but Reggie had merely waved him off. "You don't have a romantic bone in your body, do you, Paul?" he had asked. And Paul had scoffed. Valentine's Day was Thursday…five days away. Paul had to see that stuff on the counter for five more days.
This morning, more balloons were tied to the faucet. Heart-shaped balloons that said things like You're my Sunshine! and Be Mine on them in big bubbly letters. Reggie hadn't even bought the flowers yet; Paul was not looking forward to the apartment smelling like roses.
"Why don't you just propose already?" Paul asked as he sat at the kitchen table. "Then you can move in with her, and I won't have to deal with all of this crap."
"Paul! Love is a beautiful thing that shouldn't be rushed!" Reggie cried, appalled. He put some waffles on the table, took off his apron, and sat down. "Besides, you'd have to come too. You aren't allowed to live here by yourself."
Paul said nothing. He knew where he'd go once Reggie left…
"Paul, I know what you're thinking, and it's not going to happen," his brother said, noticing the far-off look in Paul's eyes. "She's not going to welcome you with open arms."
"I didn't ask for your opinion!"
"Paul, be realistic. Our mother abandoned us," Reggie told him, as if he didn't already know. "She doesn't want to see us ever again."
"Shut up!" Paul said, slamming his fist against the table. He grabbed a plate and two waffles, and retreated to his room.
Paul grumbled to himself and dropped his plate onto his desk carelessly, ignoring the ringing phone outside his door. Reggie didn't know what he was talking about. Their mother hadn't abandoned them; she had abandoned Reggie. The two always fought, and they practically hated each other. Paul too was fed up with having to put up with Reggie. This must have been how Mom felt.
"Ugh what now?" Paul moaned. "Can't he leave me alone for two minutes…" Nevertheless, he opened his door and poked his head out. "What do you want?"
Reggie pointed to one of the end tables in the living room, where the telephone was off the receiver. "You've got a call," was all he offered before stuffing a large piece of waffle in his mouth.
A call for me? But no one ever called him… It must be a teacher; no one else had his number. Unless it was Dawn… Paul hurried to pick up the phone. "Hello?"
"Oh my GOD do you realize what day it is?"
The male and overly dramatic voice that greeted him was certainly not Dawn's.
"Drew?" he asked in disbelief.
"Of course it's me! Who else were you expecting?" the boy replied exasperatedly.
"Well, to be honest, not you. How did you even get my number?" Paul asked, unable to recall ever willingly giving it out. Dawn had his number, but only because she had pried it from him after incessant begging. Paul refused to give anyone else his phone number; he didn't want people calling his house and bothering him. Especially Drew. And yet, here they were, on the phone.
"Oh never mind that! We have more pressing issues to deal with!" Drew stated importantly. "Are you even aware of what day it is?"
Paul blinked. Still wondering how Drew had managed to get his number, he had to think twice about what the boy was actually rambling about. "Last I checked, it was Sunday. Why? What happened? Do we have a pop quiz in science tomorrow or something?"
"Exactly! It's Sunday! SUNDAY! I can't believe I lost track of the time and this week has crept up on us!" he wailed.
Paul frowned. "Do we have a test I forgot about?"
"I suppose it could be a test; girls are weird like that," Drew said thoughtfully.
Girls? Now Paul was lost.
"What exactly are you talking about?"
A pause, then— "I'M TALKING ABOUT VALENTINE'S DAY, OF COURSE!" he exploded. "Don't tell me you forgot too! I mean, how could you? You don't have nearly as busy of a schedule as I do; you don't run the drama club or go to fundraisers or have magazine interviews—"
Magazine interviews? Paul groaned and put a hand on his forehead.
"—and now it's only five days away and we are unprepared! I'm sure all of the bands are booked by now, and it's way too late to have exotic birds flown in—"
"You called me on a Sunday morning just to talk about this?" Paul interrupted.
"Well, don't ever call me again!" he grumbled, ending the call and looking at the phone in disgust.
Calling me at home… does he think we're best friends just because he sits next to me at lunch and I don't punch him in the face for it?
When school had started back up after winter break, Drew had decided that, invitation or not, he was now allowed to sit at Paul's table. Sure, Dawn sat there with not much problem, but he was used to her; she was troublesome, but not as annoying as Drew. And yes, May had claimed a seat at the table too…but she wasn't really troublesome or annoying (she was just sort of there; plus she kept Dawn occupied so that the girl wasn't bothering Paul all of the lunch period), so he had let it slide.
But Drew? Paul had proceeded to use every trick in the book to get rid of him. Drew was too much; he was over-the-top dramatic about everything from the cafeteria's lack of foie gras to May's uncoordinated outfits (who cares if her barrettes don't match her shoes?). He was constantly heavily suggesting (to the point of harassment) that Dawn needed to join the drama club, and he would flirt with her just to bother Paul. He didn't seem to notice that no one at the table really wanted him there, even when Paul flat-out demanded for him to leave and never come back.
May and Dawn had eventually given up and just let him sit there. Paul himself was getting tired of wasting time on getting Drew to leave, and just this past week he had decided to give it a rest.
But this? Calling his house?
Now that he thought about it, Drew probably just looked him up in the phone book… (why hadn't Dawn thought of that?)
However, that didn't mean Paul wanted Drew to call him.
Ignoring Reggie's inquisitive expression, Paul slammed the phone onto the receiver and made to head back to his room.
And the phone rang again.
He stared at it. It was possible that someone else was calling…
"Hello…?" he asked hesitantly.
"WHY'D YOU HANG UP ON ME?" Drew's voice rang, loud enough for Reggie to hear and start choking on his waffle. Paul gave his brother a contemptuous look before storming back to his room with the phone gripped in his fist.
Locking his door behind him, Paul took a deep breath and brought the receiver back up to his ear. Drew was still ranting as if Paul had never stopped listening. No surprise there.
"—can't believe I let Valentine's Day sneak up on me like this! Me, Drew Peterson! The most romantic man at this institution—"
"Why are you calling me, Drew? I mean really, you looked up my number in the phone book just to rant about how you aren't ready for Valentine's Day?" Paul asked, managing to restrain himself from just hanging up.
Drew paused. "Of course not. I had my private investigator get your number from official records. As if I'd touch a common phone book, please."
"You have a private investigator?"
"Of course! I had him get your address too. In fact, I'm on my way over right now," Drew answered. "Nothing could keep me away at a time like this!"
Paul blinked. "'A time like this…?'" he repeated. "And what do you mean you're coming over? You can't just come over to my—"
"Have you not been listening to me? I just explained that somehow Valentine's Day snuck up on me! I'm not prepared at all!" the other boy replied frantically.
Paul rolled his eyes. "Just go to the store and buy a bunch of chocolate. I doubt your fangirls will object to all getting the same thing."
Drew scoffed. "What are you talking about, Paul? Girls give me chocolates, not the other way around! I can't give gifts to anyone; that would be way too much work on my part."
"Then why were you worried about… what was it again? Oh, right… You wanted to 'fly in exotic birds' or something?" Paul asked, a hint of amusement almost present in his voice. Almost.
"Oh, that. Well, it's much too late now, but the birds were supposed to be for you."
… … … … …
"As… flattered as I am," Paul said sarcastically, "I don't swing that way."
There was a moment of silence on the other end of the line, and he was sure the gears in Drew's head were turning to process that.
Then Drew laughed. "Oh, don't be silly! I meant, the birds are for you to use. You know, to help you win over Dawn!"
Paul blushed and gripped the phone closer to his ear. "I told you—!"
"Anyway," Drew interrupted, "I'm here now, so why don't you come downstairs and we can continue this in person? I'm just outside the front entrance. Well, I think this is the front entrance… I have the address right, so I can only assume you live inside this apartment complex over this cheap jewelry store… Paul? Are you listening to me?"
But the line was dead.
What the hell did Drew think he was doing, coming over to his apartment? There were so many things wrong with this situation that Paul wasn't sure what he should be more concerned with. He grabbed a jacket and hurried out of his room, past an inquisitive Reggie, and out the door into the building's main hallway.
Drew had called him on the phone. Wanted to give him birds to help woo Dawn. Was outside the apartment complex waiting, probably in a stretch limousine or—
Paul flushed with anger and embarrassment at the possible outcomes waiting for him outside. What was Drew thinking? Well, obviously he's NOT thinking, Paul scoffed to himself. That idiot, coming over here, to this area, in a severely expensive car… If Dawn was worried about getting mugged of her cheap hat and coat, Drew certainly should have been panicking about someone trying to carjack him. Paul himself had never been robbed, but this area had a higher crime rate than most. Drew's limo (or Porsche or whatever, he snorted) would stick out like a sore thumb.
Then again, as oblivious as Drew was about the real world, Paul realized that the boy probably didn't know anything about this area. He had likely just told his driver the address and had expected to see a quaint little suburban neighborhood. Paul flew down the steps, almost knocking over a neighbor on the sixth floor landing.
And what would Drew do, now that he knew where Paul lived? Would he taunt him? Tell the entire drama club about Paul's shabby apartment in monologue form? Or worse, would he mention it in front of Dawn at lunch? What would Dawn do after hearing that Paul lived in the very same area she was afraid of?
What if Drew got out of the car and asked to come inside? Paul's brain went into overdrive, and he quickened his pace. He had to get Drew out of here and the faster the better.
He burst out of the building with such energy that the front door banged against the brick wall of the building. Several older women, who had been looking through the jewelry shop window at sale items, eyed him with disapproving looks. He didn't bother apologizing; instead he focused his glare at the sleek black limousine that was parked at the curb.
The back window rolled down to reveal a cheerful green-haired prat. "Why Paul, I didn't realize you were in such a hurry to see me!" he snickered.
Paul ignored him and stormed over to the car. Without waiting for an invitation, he yanked open the door. Drew gaped up at him, clearing not expecting this reaction, but the boy had no time to ponder… Paul shoved him over into the next seat and climbed into the limo after him.
"Can we get out of here?" he asked Drew with a growl. "…Now?"
Drew blinked at the request, still shocked from being shoved unceremoniously. Slowly, he nodded his head. "Um yes, that would probably be best… Winston, take us home."
Paul assumed Winston was the name of the driver; however, there was a tinted window blocking his view of the driver's seat, so he couldn't tell if whoever was driving had acknowledged or even heard the order. After a moment, he assumed that driver had indeed heard, as the car switched gears and began to pull away from the sidewalk. They were leaving…
A wave of relief washed over him as Paul sank back into the velvet cushion of his seat: Drew would not have the chance to push himself up into his apartment. Not today, anyway… Drew could be very pushy, and Paul had no doubts that if Drew had wanted to go inside the apartment, he would have somehow forced his way in. He reminded Paul of grease, smooth and slick and spilling into places where it wasn't wanted…
"Well, I believe you owe me an explanation," the other boy's haughty voice started. "I mean, I just drove all the way over here, concerned about your problems, trying to help, and this is how you repay me? Not even inviting me in for a cup of tea? How uncivilized."
"I'm not uncivilized just because I live in this part of town!" Paul spat violently. "Not everyone lives in big fancy houses with butlers and maids waiting on them hand and foot!" He crossed his arms and turned away from Drew, refusing to look at him.
"What are you going on about?" Drew asked innocently. "So what if you live in an apartment in 'this part of town'? That's no excuse for not being a good host and inviting me in for tea. Or whatever you have in your cupboards. I'd settle for lemonade. Yes, lemonade actually sounds quite refreshing at the moment… Would you like one, Paul?"
Paul was staring at the boy with an incredulous look. Drew didn't even seem fazed by the fact that Paul was poor; in fact, he was more concerned with Paul's lack of hosting skills! Unbelievable! he thought. He's actually upset I didn't serve him tea? What a weirdo!
He realized Drew was looking at him expectantly and waiting for answer. He also noticed that Drew had opened a mini-fridge and taken out two bottled lemonades. He stared at the mini-fridge for a moment and then looked around the car with a slight wonder. There was a large plasma tv screen in the right front corner, and enough cushions to seat twelve people. Along with the mini-fridge, the limo also housed a buffet table (adorned with many drawers) and several potted plants.
Paul was brought out of his stupor when something cold and moist was pressed into his hand. Drew seemed to have taken the silence as a compliment; the boy seemed rather pleased with himself.
"Yes, it is rather impressive, isn't it? You should see my father's; it can easily fit twenty people and has its own pool table."
Paul half suspected Drew had driven over here just to show off. Speaking of which…
"You idiot! What were you thinking, coming into this area in an expensive limo? Better yet, why were you thinking of coming here in the first place? To my apartment? And don't ever call my house again either!"
Drew lazily sipped his lemonade, seemingly indifferent to Paul's attitude. "Well, I was thinking we were friends, and as such, I should help you catch Dawn for Valentine's Day. Oh right," he said, as Paul raised a hand in defiance, "you don't like her, sure, yes, yes, I remember now. Anyway, I thought you might be in some need of assistance, and seeing as I'm the king of romance, I have decided to bestow upon you my knowledge of wooing women, despite my rather busy schedule."
Paul's eyebrow twitched. "You still shouldn't have driven up in a limo; there is a level of crime around here," he said exasperatedly, deciding for the moment to ignore the rest of Drew's ridiculous statement.
Drew choked on his lemonade, and before Paul could really do anything, he had scooted back over and leaned in Paul's direction. "Really, Paul, I'm touched that you were so worried about me. However, you needn't fret so much; this car is equipped with a defense system, and Winston is a black belt. Now hurry and drink your lemonade before it warms."
Worried…? He thinks I was…?
"No, you've got it all wrong," Paul groaned, his hand gripping the icy bottle so tightly it was starting to grow numb. "That's not what I meant at all—"
"Oh, so you weren't concerned for my wellbeing?" Drew interrupted coldly, all pleasantries gone. "And here I thought we were friends, Paul. I guess I was wrong. Well, seeing as we are no longer friends, please give back the lemonade, and get out of the car."
As much as Paul wanted to tell Drew and himself that he wanted nothing more than to comply with those words, he hesitated. Something was nagging in the back of his mind, something telling him that that was the wrong thing to do. After all, the guy did just offer to help you and gave you a free lemonade— No, no way was he feeling guilty about how he treated Drew! For the past two months he'd been trying to find a way to get rid of the prat, and this was the perfect way out! Why couldn't he just take it?
Because you don't actually hate him as much as you think you do. Because some part of you actually enjoys—
"Fine, fine!" Paul grumbled aloud. "I may have… That is, I mean…" He paused, and, unsure of what else to do, took a large gulp of lemonade. "I mean… this lemonade is pretty good…?" he finished unsurely. Then he realized the full implication of his words, and wondered what Drew would do if he thought Paul was only hanging around him for free limo rides and lemonade. Which he wasn't, of course, but he wasn't sure if Drew would see it that way.
"Yes, it is delicious, is it not? It's a rare brand that father flies in specially from France. I'm glad you like it."
Either Drew hadn't paid attention to Paul's exact words, or he had chosen to ignore them. Whatever the reason, Paul sighed slightly and took another drink. He himself wasn't entirely comfortable with this idea that the two of them were friends, but hanging around with someone who didn't gab on and on about the latest fashion magazine was a nice change.
No, wait, Drew probably did talk about that stuff…
"Anyway, about Dawn… I guess I was just so excited at the prospect of helping you set up dates and get her gifts, that I got a little carried away," Drew suddenly mumbled.
"Well, maybe you should channel that excitement towards yourself. You know, go after that girl you like," Paul replied slowly, the casual banter rolling off his tongue awkwardly.
The other boy blushed slightly, before shaking his head and regaining his composure. "No need to worry," he told Paul with a small grin. "I already have a plan set up. Normally I don't get girls anything for Valentine's Day…" He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "However, this isn't a normal girl, so I've decided to break my tradition and do something about it."
Not a normal girl? Paul thought. Most girls practically threw themselves at Drew's feet, so this one must be either playing hard to get or not interested at all. Paul wondered just how long Drew had been chasing after her and if she was aware of it. Oh well, as long as it wasn't Dawn, Paul couldn't care less.
Dawn… Ever since the 'mistletoe incident' (as he'd dubbed it in his mind), she had been quieter. Well, maybe not so much quieter (she did still ramble on to May about things) as… less troublesome? She didn't bother Paul as much as she normally did, and, as much as he didn't want to admit it, that bothered him. She still made a point to talk to him, but she didn't make as many witty comments or shove his shoulder as much. And she hadn't tried to hug him again—
Wait. She had really only hugged him that once.
Paul frowned. Actually, now that he thought about it… Dawn was pretty much acting the same as she always did. Only it didn't seem to actually bother him as much as he thought it had. But if she was acting the same, logically that would mean he had been the one to change… right? No, that couldn't be right; he was definitely still himself, wasn't he? And it all circled back to that mistletoe. These thoughts were confusing Paul, and he groaned aloud in frustration.
"Something wrong?" Drew asked.
Oh. Paul had forgotten for a minute where he was and whom he was with.
"No," he snapped automatically. But then, at the pointed look on Drew's face, he continued, "No, I mean… Well, maybe…"
Drew watched him expectantly, waiting for an explanation. An explanation that Paul was not too willing to give. Explaining how he was confused over Dawn not seeming quite so troublesome anymore, and her lack of kissing him under the mistletoe, was not a good way to convince Drew that he did not like her. If anything, it would only fuel the fire. Yet, Paul didn't just want to leave Drew hanging… as weird as that was for him. He felt he somewhat owed Drew an answer, even if the boy was one of his least favorite people on the planet. Drew had called him a friend, hadn't he?
However, Paul did not want to directly ask why he was feeling so weird about Dawn not wanting to kiss him. That would send the conversation into the wrong direction. Instead, he opted for the next best thing.
"You're sure this girl you really like isn't Dawn, right? Because she's the only girl I can think of who doesn't normally throw herself at your feet."
That's right, Dawn had rejected Drew too. Well, not in the exact same way… Drew had kissed her. But she was clearly disgusted by it. If he played his cards right, Paul could figure out his messed-up feelings without Drew really knowing what he was getting at.
"Possessive, aren't you?" Drew drawled, merely smirking when Paul's face flared. "Oh calm down, I was joking. And no, it isn't Dawn, I've said that already. True, she rejected me…" He sounded hurt.
Paul jumped on it.
"Why are you upset she rejected you if you don't like her?"
Because that was exactly what Paul was wondering about himself. Why was he so bothered by her not kissing him, when she had the perfect excuse, when she was obviously craving male attention, when it had been months since her date with Brendan. All the odds were pointing to it, all hanging in a pretty little arrangement that had been the mistletoe dangling over their heads two months ago. And yet, she'd thrown it all out the window.
And Paul really should be happy at that, having been spared the horrible experience of kissing a girl. He really shouldn't care at all. But he did.
Drew scoffed. "Please," he replied, as if Paul should already know, "I'm not that upset. I mean, sure, I was a bit wounded at her disgust and that slap in the face, but what guy wouldn't be? It's a complete blow to the ego to have a girl reject you, no matter how interested in her you are."
A blow to his… ego?
Paul hadn't thought of it that way before. Well of course he hadn't, he didn't care about girls, and thus he didn't care if they accepted or rejected him either way. He had never had to think about it before.
However, Paul was not about to pass up this perfectly logical explanation of the feelings swimming around in his gut.
It had been a blow to his male ego, nothing more.
Well, that settles that, he thought.
He could almost feel the metaphorical weight being lifted off his shoulders. Drew seemed to notice his weird relaxation, for the boy gave him an odd look, though he didn't say anything about it.
They spent the remainder of the car ride in silence, and when the limo pulled in front of the mansion and Drew dragged him upstairs to play Rock Band, Paul didn't protest. Well, he didn't protest that much.
Oh Paul, you're so oblivious to your own feelings... And who is this 'mystery girl' Drew is after? What are his plans for romancing her on Valentine's Day? What about Paul and Dawn? Will those exotic birds arrive in time? Cough I mean, of course Paul has no plans on wooing anyone whatsoever... according to his lawyer. Whatever happens, you can bet Part II will be dramatic!
-Reggie has a girlfriend! Who is she? You'll just have to wait and see...
-Looks like Paul and Reggie's mother abandoned them... something about her and Reggie not getting along? More in future chapters.
-Paul was eating chocolate-chip waffles! He does love chocolate...
-Drew apparently has magazine interviews. For what, you ask? Because he's obscenely rich and can do whatever. I mean, he has a private investigator and a limo with potted plants (probably rare, foreign, and fancy).
-Also... I only recently learned that Drew Peterson is the name of a man suspected of murdering his third and fourth wives... yeaahhhhh... awkward! Lifetime Network even made a movie about it with Rob Lowe. Why is Rob Lowe always the killer in these Lifetime movies?