A/N: What's this? Another? So soon? YES! Ok, so, I'd finished writing chapters 2 and 3 sometime last week - handwritten in a notebook during school. I've been desperately typing away to get them posted for you. This chapter is considerably smaller than the last, but that's ok. I think this one's more significant. I was upset while writing it because of the content. -Shouldn't say why- Just read. Go forth and read.
Once again, thank you to my twin (RipleyRowenBlackheart, if you wanna look her up on here) for editing and for constantly telling me to hurry up so we can get to the boy-love already. It's coming, trust me. Just not yet. I still need to throw a few more obstacles at these guys and have them jump a few more hurtles. Also, thanks to Anna once again for the plot help. Last but not least, THANKS TO YOU READERS! As I type this, I've had 317 hits and 191 readers. This amazes me. Please keep making me feel loved. And once again, please drop me a note on the review page. And questions so far? Maybe you can get them answered! (provided they aren't spoilers). LOVE FROM THE LIVVS
When the sun shines, we'll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Said I'll always be a friend
Took an oath I'ma stick it out till the end
Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella
Umbrella - Rihanna
We'd set up the telescope and begun our search about an hour before we saw anything in the sky besides stars and the moon. Matt was the first to notice, a quiet "oh no" dropping from his lips. Al and I didn't really notice until Matt came over and tugged Alfred's sleeve.
"Hold on," Al mumbled, pulling up the hood of his hoody to combat the wind that had steadily been growing all evening. He was still bent over the telescope, trying to pick out anything suspicious from Orion.
"But Al," Matt pleaded, now pointing in the opposite direction toward the sky, even though his twin wasn't paying much attention. I, however, followed his hand - and groaned.
My utterance seemed to finally catch Al's attention. "Fine. What's the big deal?" He turned around and froze, finally seeing what we had.
"You've got to be kidding me." He frowned, transfixed by the clouds that were rolling in fast. As if on cue, there was a stringy, rigid flash of light in the clouds. Under his breath, I heard Matthew counting, only stopping when he heard the angry grumble of thunder.
"Three miles away," He whispered, anxious. "But it's coming in fast."
We both turned to look at Al, waiting to see what he wanted to do about it. He wasn't moving. Wasn't saying anything. Didn't seem to be about to do anything.
"Al..." I put a hand on his shoulder. "We're not going to be able to see any-"
"I know." There was a tightness to his voice. A bitterness. Defeat.
"It's... going to rain."
We stood in silence for about a full minute before Al began folding up the legs of his telescope. Without a word, he handed it to Matthew, who seemed more than grateful to head inside.
"Do you still want to sleep in the tent?" He asked.
"Er... Sure. I guess."
He nodded, still stone-faced. I'd never seen him look so grave. "Why don't you go get your stuff? I'll set up the inside of the tent."
"Alright." I gave him one last, apprehensive glance before heading back for the house. I expected to see Matthew coming back down the stairs by the time I reached our bags where we'd left them by the front door, but he was nowhere in sight. Frowning, I grabbed my duffle bag and went back outside. When I peeked into the tent, one of the sleeping bags was opened up so it covered the entire floor like a rug, the other two laying on top of it in wait of use. There was an electric lantern in the middle of the tent, causing everything else to cast shadows on the walls.
"What about Matthew?" I crawled in, laying my bag aside.
""He's not coming back out." Al shrugged, straightening up one of the pillows. He must have recognized the confused look I was giving him, for he went on to say, "He's afraid of storms. Always has been. I'm guessing he's curled up under the covers with his stuffed bear, right now."
"Oh." I looked down awkwardly. It wasn't something I was used to, him being so quiet. I'd never had to fill the silence in his presence, which left me wondering how I could. Minutes passed and soon we could hear the rain tapping against the tent. Soon, it was pouring and neither of us had said anything. He didn't even look at me - which he usually seemed to do constantly. I didn't like it. I hated it. I'd become so used to seeing an Alfred who would never shut up, who was always upbeat, that seeing him so quiet and forlorn shook me to the core. Aching with tension, I pulled my knees to my chest and hugged them, looking up at the shivering top of the tent.
"It reminds me of London," I murmured, just to have something to say, even if it probably wasn't the best.
"What?" Alfred blinked at me, apparently startled that I'd spoken up at all.
"The rain," I clarified, back in my old habit of avoiding his eyes. "Before I moved here to America, when I was five... I lived in London. The only thing I remember about it is the rain."
"Oh." He seemed to hesitate. "I kind of forgot you weren't from around here." I looked at him just in time to see his guilty smile. "I mean, I guess I should have remembered, with the-"
"Accent. Yeah." I shrugged. "It's ok. Besides, we're better off here. I think... I think my mum's happier here... Not so many reminders of my dad."
Silence fell once again and I closed my eyes. Through the rush of the rain, I heard the rustle of a sleeping bag just before I felt Al's arms wrap around my shoulders from behind. It was only then that I realized I was crying.
"What happened to your dad?" he mumbled into my back.
I swallowed. "He's gone." I didn't elaborate. I didn't need to.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know."
"You didn't ask." My reply held a wry edge to it. "I probably wouldn't have told you if you had, though."
I felt him shift so his chin was resting on my shoulder. "You can trust me, you know." he sounded so matter-of-fact that I couldn't help but let out a little laugh that sounded more like a sob. "I'm serious. I'm not going anywhere."
That simple statement broke my floodgate. This time, I really did sob, turning around to bury my face in his chest. "P-promise you won't t-tell..." I struggled to say, clutching the fabric of his hoody.
"I promise." I could barely hear him over the rain, but still I hung on his every word - just like always. "That's what best friends are for, after all."
I pulled my face away to look at him - really look at him. It was an act that took me a month of practice, and the results left me staring at a face that had a gentle smile and more heart then I'd ever known anyone to have. It was gut-wrenching to be in his presence, almost intimidating if you weren't used to it. But that's just how he was. I couldn't figure out what I'd done to deserve to be in this position - as he'd declared us, "best friends" - but I don't think I'd ever been so pleased to be anywhere in my life.
"Thanks Al." I let my eyes finally drop to the ground and felt him pat my head.
The rain let up soon after, but didn't end. To cheer me up a bit, Al brought out a deck of cards and we started playing war while Al returned to his ways of chattering away about how summer would be here soon and that once it warmed up enough, we would be able to go swimming in the pool whenever we wanted, and went on to tell me, in a quite serious voice, that we would have to have another of these campouts soon. He insisted we keep them up until we find one of his aliens. The way he talked about it, I almost wanted to believe in them, as well.