Friends & Foes
a Fangs & Fins Sequel
Chapter 2: "Arianna"
Pewter clouds were visible in the sky as James trotted dutifully behind Arianna. She was several paces ahead of James but he made no effort to match Arianna's quick stride and catch up to her.
"Care to tell me where were going, Arianna?" James called.
"Like I said. We're going out."
"But I don't want to go out!" James countered. "I have better things to do and –"
"Listen, you are clearly upset and deserve to have some fun." Arianna snapped, not even turning around to look at him. "Let Ben sit around and feel sorry for himself. I understand that he is frustrating, and you don't like seeing him upset, but you don't have to cater to his every whim to make him happier. Life isn't like that, and Ben needs to learn it." Arianna paused for a moment and slipped off her dark green ballet flat to remove a pebble that had gotten inside of it.
"Will he meet a rude awakening? Yes. Do I think Rose and Lewis and the rest of your human friends have had a positive effect on him to the point where he might learn that lesson in a way that won't hurt him in the long run? Maybe." Arianna put her shoe back on and continued down the road.
"…are you and Ben hooking up?" James asked Arianna softly. She turned around to face him at that.
"No," Arianna snorted. "Why would you think that?"
"Everyone thinks that -"
"Because most vampires we know are stupid and listen to gossip. I would never hook up with Ben. We're just friends."
"Can you really just be friends with someone of the opposite gender? And you like him a lot, more than most people do –"
Arianna's retort was a snort. "I am perfectly capable of being just friends with the opposite sex, thank you. And I do like Ben. I think other people do to. But you hold him back because you don't think people will like him."
James frowned. "Because most people who meet him don't like him!"
Arianna's brows furrowed. "Okay, that Rose girl, right? Your girlfriend? Ben told me that he knew she didn't like him until they started hanging out. Now they get along great! That says something, James."
James mulled over Arianna's words for a moment before she spun around and continued down the street, James at her heels.
After a few more blocks they reached a small, windowless building nestled between a pizza joint and a clothing store. Two burly men stood out front, their arms crossed and their expressions firm.
"We're vampires," Arianna said briskly, sliding past the men before they could question her or James. James offered an apologetic smile but the bouncer just motioned for James to follow Arianna.
The building housed a set of metal stairs. Arianna went down them, James at her heels.
"Do you come here often?" James asked, looking around as they approached the landing. The room was bathed in red light and young vampires were dancing in large huddles or socializing at the bar, drinking blood out of large mugs.
"Actually," Arianna said, a small smile playing on her lips. "Your brother recommended it to me. He's a regular. I think this is where he picks up girls."
"He never brought me here before," James muttered.
"That's because you're a funsponge."
"I am not a funsponge!"
"Can you get me a glass of type O?" Arianna asked, striding over to the dance floor. She immediately found a partner, and began twirling around through the huddle of dancers.
James approached the bar. There was only one seat left and James marched over to secure it. Some vampires were pouring vodka bottles into large mugs spread out on the tables, grinning will they did so. The bartenders turned a blind eye, even as the empty vodka bottle was tossed into the recycling bin next to the bar.
"What will it be?" The bartender asked as James sat down.
"A glass of Type AB, a glass of Type O please."
The bartender nodded and spun around, his back to James. A pretty girl with long, dark brown hair was sitting next to James, her head bent over a bundle of papers, a pen grasped in her hand. Her brown eyes were narrowed in concentration.
James leaned forward to read what was on the papers. 'YALE UNIVERSITY' was written in prim lettering at the top of the first sheet of paper.
The girl looked up from her papers, and glared to him. "Do you need something?" She snarled.
"Uh," James's cheeks flushed. "No, um. But congrats…on Yale. That's really cool."
"Oh," she softly. "We'll I'm not in yet. But I will be, soon. I meet all of the normal and international requirements; I have all my paperwork done…" She trailed off and tucked a piece of her dark hair behind her ear. "But I'm not in yet, of course."
"I'm sure you'll get in," James said encouragingly. "But, um. Can I, um…"
"You say 'um' a lot don't you?" The girl said, coolly.
"No, um – okay yes," James said, going red. "Can I ask why you're filling out a college application in a bar?"
She spun around to look around the bar. "Home's too chaotic. And the library is closed."
"I doubt it's louder than a bar," James laughed.
"My oldest sister is getting married and preparations are taking place 24/7 at my home." She said. "It gets loud. And I have two other sisters, and yesterday we had live doves in our home and my mother is still going on and on about how they wrecked our new carpet and my sister Mathilda started dating this Scandinavian guy who's in a band and they have practice at our house three times a week. They play heavy-metal."
"Oh, um…" The bartender passed James his drinks, and he tried to signal to Arianna to come over and get hers, but she didn't see him.
James picked up his glass of Type AB and brought it to his lips. "That sounds stressful."
"It is," She said. "What's your name by the way?"
"Uh, um," James wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "James, uh, James, um, Ayden Wood. James, yes."
She grinned and giggled a little bit; James started blushing again and laughed awkwardly, feeling more mortified then he had in ages. Most of the time he was good at talking with girls. Okay, so he wasn't great or anything, but he was okay. He did not stutter and blush and make an idiot of himself. At least he didn't come off like a pervert like Ben did. James would take stuttering, awkward idiot over that.
"I'm Minerva. Minerva Isabel Montgomery." She answered.
"Minerva's a cool name." James offered.
Minerva smiled. "Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, poetry and crafts. The Greek equivalence was Athena."
"It, um. It suits you." James said softly.
Suddenly Arianna's arm swooped in as she snatched her glass off the bar and drained it in two gulps.
"Time we get going then, James," Arianna said, hoisting James out of the bar chair.
"Goodbye Minerva," James said cheerfully, waving. Minerva smiled.
"Maybe I'll see you around," She said composedly, before placing her hands on her hips and spinning around to return to her Yale application.
"Yes!" James called hopefully as Arianna dragged him up the steps.
"Ohh, Minerva Montgomery," Arianna giggled once they were out on the streets.
"You know her?"
"Oui," Arianna giggled again and James had a feeling she'd had some of the mugs mixed with Type AB and vodka when he wasn't looking.
"She went to Billard with me." Billard was the all girls private school Arianna had attended for the past three years. It was about a half-hour away from the Woods' home.
"Oh, that's cool." James said calmly.
"Did I tell you?" Arianna said happily, clinging to the front of his shirt. "I'm transferring to your school! No more Billard," Arianna's smile faltered. "Though I will miss it…"
"You're really going to miss an all-girls private school?" James asked. "You called me last week to complain about the uniforms."
"They're polyester! And navy!" Arianna cried, looping her arm through James's.
It was pitch black out. A half-room was visible over a large huddle of trees, providing more light than the flickering street-lamps were.
"I'm sure you won't miss the fact that it's an all-girls school," James said thoughtfully.
"Oh, I didn't mind that." Arianna shrugged. "I heard your conversation, by the way. James Ayyyydeeen Woooooooooood."
"Oh shut up! Arianna Feeelicccityyy Cromwelllllll." James found he could not imitate Arianna as well as we wanted to. Probably because he wasn't intoxicated.
"Felicity is a superior middle name over Ayden. It means happy," Arianna stated. "Ayden's kind of girly too."
"It is a family name Arianna!" James shouted as Arianna broke into hysterics.
It took them twenty minutes to reach the Woods' home. All of the lights were turned off and Ben hadn't bothered to leave the porch light on. James was thankful for enhanced vampire-vision, but Arianna was still clinging to his shirt and stumbling over stray pebbles that littered the drive way.
Once they were inside and James had switched on the living room lights, Arianna marched upstairs.
"Wait, where are you – " James sprinted after Arianna, who was clinging to the banister and taking wobbly steps. She finally reached the landing and flung open the Wood's towel closet and fumbled around inside before producing a wine bottle sloppily labeled with the words 'AB. Ben's, please don't touch kthnxbye.'
"Don't you think you're had enough?" James chided. Arianna removed the cork and brought the bottle opening to her lips, taking a long swig. She passed the bottle to James who accepted it.
Arianna twirled around and pushed the door to James's room open, her blonde hair flying as she threw her head back and laughed. Arianna was usually pretty stoic, a fierce glare rarely leaving her eyes. James had missed seeing the bubbly blonde girl he and Ben had befriended as toddlers.
"Jesus," She muttered, looking around James's messy room. "I guess your neat-freak days are over,"
James cringed as Arianna referenced the days when he used to store cleaning supplies in his bedroom closet and would scrub meticulously at the tile on the bathroom floor whenever Ben and/or Arianna got mud on the floor, sobbing about the "bad germs" that would most definitely kill him.
"That was over a decade ago!" James snapped, but Arianna just giggled and latched on to his right hand, forcing his arm up so she could twirl under it. James had to smile and put a hand on her waist, spinning her around again.
They took turns drinking out of the AB bottle, till their cheeks were flushed and the bottle was three quarters empty. James loved the high human blood gave him, but he hated depending on it. It made him reckless and brash; it made him crave affection and it worst of all it made him want to drain every human he passed. When his father had moved him, Ben and Constance out of their home in Sydney and to their "summer home" on the Gold Coast to attend a public school with humans, James and Constance had decided to give up human blood. Meeting Rose had only fueled James's determination to give up human blood once and for all, but the stress from the Vampire Ball had only made him crave a nice glass of Type O even more than usual. So he had surrendered to the blood again, and the long lapse of time he hadn't consumed it only made him want it more and more.
Arianna put her iPod into James's iPod doc, put on a playlist and immediately began to sing along.
"Stick your heart inside of my chest, keep it warm here while we rest, tell them this love hasn't changed me, hasn't changed me at all."
"If you ever serenade Rose," Arianna said, bouncing around, clutching the neck of the AB bottle in her left hand. "You should definitely sing this song," She took a sip from the bottle. "Tegan Quin is a goddess."
"Yes!" James said brightly, jumping around like a hyperactive five-year old. "I don't know who she is but I like the song." He threw his head back and laughed, grabbing Arianna's wrist and taking a long drink of AB.
A second, more fast-paced song came on. Arianna was spinning around, her blonde hair disheveled, long loose curls falling out of the pins that held them back and falling in front of her face. Her eyes were gleaming as she twisted past James's dresser, humming along to the song. James took another sip from the bottle before placing it (now empty) on his dresser and joining Arianna. She took his hands in hers and they waltzed around the room, spinning and laughing.
The song ended and a softer one came on. Arianna leaned her head against James's chest, their hands still clasped.
"I'm so scared," she said softly. "We're eighteen now and I heard my mom talking with your dad. She wants to marry us off. Together."
"We're cousins," James said appalled. "Our moms were sisters."
"I know," Arianna said. "Did you know it's legal to marry your first cousin but not your partner?"
"Yes," Arianna said. "But that's what they want. There aren't many other options. We have to marry within the original families on the Council. The Lockwoods – Jewel is dead and Sofia is too young, the only Lockwood boy is engaged to Minerva Montgomery's sister. She's lucky her family is decently important and well off or the Council would be livid. The Cromwells – me, Katharina and Natalia and but they're way too young, the Woods – you and Ben, the Quinns don't have any eligible children, and the Campbells have one girl - Karolina, but she's 14…" Arianna sighed. "What are we going to do?"
"Not let them tell us what to do and who to marry."
Arianna sighed again. "I'll be a terrible wife."
"No, you'll be fine."
"No. I will." Arianna looked like she was going to start crying. James wrapped his arms around her and rested his chin in her hair.
"You'll be fine," James repeated.
Suddenly James's door burst open as Ben came storming in. Arianna immediately jumped away from James.
"Why are you playing music at one in the morning?" Ben shouted, ripping Arianna's iPod out of the doc and tossing it on the bed. He spied on the AB bottle on James's desk.
"Wow. You owe me a new bottle. And keep the music down, assholes." Ben slammed the door behind him.
Arianna threw the door open and marched into the hallway. "What is wrong with you? It's just music. It's not like you were sleeping, you're not even in pajamas!" She gestured to Ben's collared shirt and jeans. "And you have like ten bottles in the closet just of AB!"
"James is always taking my stuff!" Ben screamed. "And he neglects his stuff and then leaves me to take care of it! But it's always still his! Always always always!"
"What are you talking about?" James demanded. Arianna looked appalled.
"What's going on Ben?" Arianna asked.
"Okay, you want to know you really want to know?" Ben has in hysterics. "I kissed Rose, James!"
There was a pause before Ben spoke: "There, I said it."
"You did WHAT?" James screamed.
"Yeah, and she kissed back." Ben was smug. "It happened after she came home from the hospital and dad sent me to kill her because he doesn't like you and I getting close to humans like how he got close to my mom!"
"Ben –" Arianna began before James cut her off.
"She's MY girlfriend!" James yelled, lunging at Ben, but Arianna swiftly stepped in front of him, separating the two brothers.
"Don't, James." She said frantically. "Let's just talk this over."
"You're a piece of shit Ben!" James snarled over Arianna's shoulder.
"Would you have preferred that I killed her like dad told me to?"
"Of course not! But you shouldn't have even gone over there to even attempt to kill her! You should have lied to dad or told him you couldn't do it. But we all know you would never do that," James's smile was cruel and mocking. "We all know he desperate you are for daddy's attention and approval."
"Shut up shut up shut up!" Ben screamed. "I did lie to him! I told him I'd killed her when I hadn't!"
"Yeah, after you kissed her!" James countered. Arianna turned her attention to him, trying to soothe James.
"Calm down James," Arianna said, exasperated. She clung to James's hands but her wrestled his way out of her grip. The only reason he was not ripping Ben's throat out was for Arianna's sake.
"Why did you feel the need to kiss my girlfriend?" James's yelled, looking at Ben.
"Why do you always have to make things harder for yourself, Ben?" Arianna added softly.
Ben laughed. "Look who's talking."
Tears welled up in Arianna's eyes and she clenched her fists. "You know I can't help that," she said shakily.
Ben just turned on his heels and slid into his room, slamming the door behind him.
"Can I stay here for the night?" Arianna whispered, her upper lip trembling.
"Of course," James said. Arianna walked into James's room and lay down on his bed, kicking her shoes off and onto James's messy bedroom floor. James shut the door behind him, switched off the light and lay down on the opposite side of the bed.
Violent waves of sobbing came over Arianna, and she clenched James's navy comforter and sobbed into one of his pillows. James lay on his side, her back towards him and listened to her cry, a steady hand resting on her back.
It was there when James decided that he was done with Ben. Done defending him, done letting him make out with his girlfriends, done letting him bully and mess with Arianna, done covering for him and done supporting him. James wouldn't tolerate everything Ben dealt out anymore. He wouldn't tolerate Ben kissing Rose and he wouldn't tolerate Rose kissing him back and not even telling James.
Arianna turned around, her cheeks slick and damp. Strands of hair were pressed against them. James brushed the curls out of the her face and behind her ears. She nestled her head into his shoulder and put one hand on his shoulder, the other on the side of his arm and snuggled against him, hiccuping and trembling.
"Do you even care what he meant by that?" Arianna whispered.
"No." James said simply.
And with that Arianna closed her eyes, finally content.
The next day was Sunday. Arianna and James left the house before Ben woke up and headed to school to sort out Arianna's transfer paperwork.
They did not speak of what had happened. James stuck his hands in his pockets and Arianna looped her arm though James's as they walked. She clung to his bicep with her other hand.
"I'm so sorry about him." James said softly.
"He didn't kiss my significant other," Arianna said.
They entered the administrative building and saw a dark-haired girl hunched over the help desk, scribbling manically on some sheets of paper and murmuring to the woman manning the desk.
"Minerva?" James asked. Minerva looked up from her papers.
"Oh. Hi James. Arianna."
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm transferring," Minerva dotted an 'i' with a flourish.
"You're leaving Billard?" Arianna asked, her eyes wide.
"My family wants me attending school closer to home," Minerva said primly.
"But you want to go to Yale…"
Minerva cut James off. "It's just what they want, okay?" Arianna and James exchanged glances.
Minerva turned to the woman at the help desk and began snarling at her, urging her to let her transfer as soon as possible. Finally she gathered her bag and coat and skipped out the door.
Arianna approached the help desk and gave her name. The woman passed her a schedule and all the necessary paperwork to be returned at the end of the day tomorrow.
"Have a good first day tomorrow, Miss Cromwell." The woman said, waving as James and Arianna left the building.
"Well that was weird," Arianna said as James read her schedule. "Minerva is really popular at Billard and has lots of friends. I can't see her leaving willingly…"
James just shrugged. "Whatever. I guess her family just talked her into or something."
"Yeah, I guess." Arianna took her schedule back from James.
"You have AP English with me and Rose," James said. "And Lily has science the same period as you,"
"Oh," Arianna said brightly. "I guess that will be okay. Do I have anything with Ben?"
James and Arianna discussed Arianna's schedule on their way to the JuiceNet. The moment they were settled in a booth, Lily came over to take their orders.
"Lily!" Arianna said happily, smiling broadly.
James listened while Lily and Arianna babbled back and forth. Arianna explained that she was transferring that that they had a class together which made Lily squeal. Squeal. James just sat there awkwardly.
Lily finally took their orders and retreated back to the kitchen. James rubbed his temples and looked at Arianna.
Her brows were furrowed as she read something on her phone. "My mother called me. I'm going to go call her back. I think she wants me to go home. Tell Lily I'll be back as soon as I can."
Arianna rose from the booth and stepped outside, huddling next to one of the pillars that supported the JuiceNet's roof while dialing her mother's number.
"Arianna," Her mother said icily as she answered. "We need to talk."
"A-about wha-what?" Arianna stuttered.
"Something I found in your room. I'll see you at home in half an hour." Her mother hung up.
Arianna took deep breaths to calm herself, and walked slowly back to the Juice Net. Lily was distributing James and Arianna's food. James raised an eyebrow when he saw her.
"Arianna!" Lily exclaimed brightly. "James told me you wouldn't be back until later." Her eyes raked Arianna's face and her smile faltered.
"Are you okay?" She asked.
"Yes," Arianna said feebly. The lie tasted sharp in her mouth. Lily's concerned look faded and was replaced with a smile which sent a surge of happiness through Arianna. She slid into the booth again and took her smoothie gingerly.
Lily reluctantly left the booth. James passed Arianna a flask full of blood and she poured half of the flask into her Raspberry smoothie before passing it back to James.
"Are you sure you're okay?" James asked.
"Yes," Arianna said, taking a quick sip of her smoothie. "What type of blood is this?"
"Type A. It has the least affect on us." James said. He dumped the rest of the flask into his soda.
"Good," Arianna picked up her smoothie and marched to the counter.
"Can I have a lid? I have to go." Lily nodded and gave Arianna a rounded cup lid and a straw. She waved happily as Arianna left the Juice Net. Arianna took long sips of her smoothie and paused every few paces to take calming breaths.
It took Arianna twenty minutes to get home. The Cromwells lived only a mile and a half from the Juice Net but Arianna had kept stopping and stalling on her way home, she was so anxious. The Cromwells lived in a large white house with marble floors and deep red and chocolate colored walls. It wasn't as big as the Wood's home in Sydney, but Arianna's mother – Alena Cromwell – had wanted a smaller house in a smaller city.
"It makes sense," Alena had told Arianna when she'd first purchased the house. "The Woods are in Sydney. The Quinns in Perth. The Campbells in Brisbane. The Lockwoods in Melbourne. And us in…"
"Queensland," Arianna had answered. Her mother beamed. "Right."
Arianna pushed open the front door and dropped her bag and coat on the new carpet her mother had bought on a trip to Iran. Her younger half-sister Katharina was sitting at the long kitchen table, doing homework. Natalia was eating a bowl of watermelon.
"Where's mum?" She asked.
"Sitting room." Katharina answered, motioning with her pencil towards the direction the sitting room was in.
Arianna pushed open the door to sitting room. Her mother was perched primly on a blue chaise.
"Sit down," Alena ordered. Arianna obeyed and settled in a white chair across from her mother. Her heart was beating extremely fast and she thought she might faint from anxiety.
"Today I bought you new curtains," Alena began. She pointed to the curtains lying on the coffee table between them. They were white with red cherry blossoms.
"When I moved your desk chair over towards your window to stand on so I could put the curtains up, I spotted this on your desk."
She handed Arianna a flyer advertising a gay and lesbian night club.
"Why, exactly were you there?" Alena snarled.
"It's just a club."
"Not, it's not just a club, Arianna." Alena's eyes were narrowed.
"I was meeting a boy," Arianna said automatically. "He had friends who were gay and his uncle owned the club and there would be free food and drinks."
Alena's face softened. "Oh. Very well. I guess I jumped to conclusions. What is this boy's name?"
"I'd love to meet him sometime," Alena said coldly. "Go put the curtains up. And let's not let this happen again. I don't care if you were meeting a boy and wanted free food. You don't need to be…exposed to that. It's disgusting."
"We need to talk about you and James, tomorrow. He and Isaac will be having dinner with us. Benjamin will be in attendance too." She rose from the chaise and paraded out of the sitting room.
Arianna sat in her chair for a few more minutes, holding back tears, before scooping the curtains and the flyer up. She grabbed her bag and coat that had been dumped at the foot of the stairs and went to her room.
She fumbled around for a bit and hung the curtains up before sitting at her bed and reading the flyer.
"It's not disgusting," She said aloud. "It's not. They can't…help it. Just like how someone couldn't help being straight or asexual…" She used a sleeve to mop up the tears forming around her eyes before crumbling the flyer up and tossing it into her trash can.
Hope you guys liked the second chapter! Let us know what you thought – reviews are ALWAYS appreciated! What do you guys think will happen next? Are you for James/Rose or Ben/Rose and why?
And for those interested – the first song Arianna and James are listening to in James's room (the one Arianna sings along to and the one she says James should sing to Rose) is "I Know I Know I Know" by Tegan and Sara. Who everyone should listen to. Everyone. The second song, the one James describes as being 'fast-paced' is "The Con", which is my favorite Tegan and Sara song ever, if not my favorite song in general. The third and final song is "I Was Married", which I like to think of as foreshadowing in a weird way, haha. Look up the lyrics and you'll see what I mean. Hopefully.
And I got a question about the pronunciation of Arianna's name - it's Are-aun-ah. Not Are-anna.