Chapter Six: Trying to Find a Place in the Sun
I really wish that Chasati would just be open with me, with all of us. I hated when she closed me out especially when I thought we were really good friends. It just killed me to not be able to help her. With Brittany, we'd just laugh it off.
I would just buy something for Summer or kiss her and I could see her hurt evaporate. Chasati insisted on holding onto her sadness. I heard her crying last night, softly so much so that I thought I imagined it. It wasn't until I woke up and felt some wet tears on my skin, that I realized how unhappy she was.
But of course, she had disappeared. "Chas? Chasati. Where are you?" I searched the entire room until I heard the shower going. "You okay?!" I yelled.
"Yeah. I'm good." She poked her head out of the bathroom door. Her eyes were red-rimmed.
"We have that training thing today for the battle of the casts." I explained, trying to pretend that I didn't see her hurt.
"I know you need your five hours to get ready. I'm getting out now." Chasati closed the door for a second. "I'm done." She reappeared with her hair wrapped up and covered by a white robe.
"I was kind of hoping for something else."
"Oh, you want the conversation." Chasati started. "Fine. Kyle, you're an awesome person and friend, but you're with Summer and I don't want anyone to know this happened ... it was a mistake." She shrugged.
"Then why isn't this the first time we've done this?"
"Because I suck at doing the right thing." Chasati explained. "Look, none of the girls know that I'm like this and I don't want them to know it."
"Like what? What are you like?"
"I sleep around Kyle. It's not that hard to see. I was in your room tonight. Who knows who it will be tomorrow? I can't help it. It helps me forget."
"Why don't you just face what you're running from? I know that things are getting really bad with you dad--"
"I'm coping just fine." Chasati snapped. I was taken aback. She had never once lost her temper or gotten so upset with me before.
"Trust me." I reached for her grasping for a hug that was one-sided. I could feel her short body dangling lifelessly in between my arms.
"It's my burden to bare." She whispered. "I'll come back for my stuff. Or you can put it in a bag or something or ... whatever..." Chasati's stopped speaking, unwrapping her hair and dropping the towel on my chair on her way out.
"Wait." I muttered, truly wanting to kiss her right then and there. Her sadness was just so perfect and how she was trying to shield the rest of us from her pain ... it blew me away in this sick, twisted sort of way.
"Don't try it Kyle." Chasati responded, looking just as disappointed as I was. "Go to Summer and make sure that she knows how much you care about her." She flashed a quick smile before opening the door.
"Wait ... Chasati ... I know I have the right room." I heard Brittany's voice yell in the background. Uh-oh. I had better fix this one ... and fast.
"Get a grip Nance." I tried to get myself to calm down, but nothing seemed to work. I was more than a little anxious about today. We were doing training for our pre-competition today and I just wanted everyone to know that dancers were athletes too. I really just wanted to ... shine.
My eyes rushed to the clock. It was seven minutes 'til and I was super-panicked. I had already changed my outfit a million times, and nothing I seemed to put on gave me the confidence and happiness I had posessed yesterday.
I was starting to feel like a fraud. That's what it was. The things that Drew had been saying to me were getting to me. He thought the world of me and I just didn't add up.
There was so much he didn't know about this happy-faced girl. Thinking about it was driving me crazy. If he'd only known about what I had done in the past...
I wouldn't let him find out. I would keep being who he thought I was until I became it. It was just difficult because I wanted to tell someone the truth so badly. It sucked to have to lie to them all the time and keep them at a distance.
But I couldn't be selfish. I had to think about all the people this would effect. It wouldn't be just me, but the ones who meant the most to me and who had been there before Moolah Beach happened. I sighed. The only thing that would make me feel better would be a Hilary Duff CD or Gwen Stefani ... someone who never talked about real feelings or what it was like to truly be hurting.
"Finally decided to show up?" I yelled to my cousin as he rushed into the gym, late, along with Nancy.
"Sorry." She blushed and joined the remaining season one cast.
"Not you. Dumb ass over there!" I proclaimed as Javier continued to ignore me. That really rubbed me the wrong way. "Oh, you ignore your own cousin, but if your baby's mom called you, you'd be running over here like the dog you are." I continued, looking towards Brittany who shuddered.
"What is your problem?" Javier took my arm in a death grip that seemed to grow deeper and deeper with every second.
"I'm just having a little fun. Lighten up." I shrugged it off as I watched Javier walk back over to his friends. I really hated that. He never had to to try hard with anything. With all his aloofness and stony silent nature, they still loved him. Everyone did.
"You look stressed. Worried about our pre-comp tomorrow?" Javier asked as I shrugged quietly. I almost left it at that, but then thought that he might think that something is wrong.
"This entire process can be a little draining."
"Are you talking about my cousin? I swear she gets a kick out of doing whatever she can to ruin my life."
"It's not as big of a secret as you thought." I responded, knowing that he was talking about the child. " Nancy was talking to me about--"
"No. Of course not." I reassured him, patting the empty space beside me. Javier didn't just start petty, small talk conversations. He was one of those people who barely spoke a word, so when he did talk I tried to listen. At least it would help me to forget about my own problems.
"Then how did she know?"
"You know that saying where if two people know about something, it's no longer a secret?" Javier nodded. "I guess Brittany opened her mouth to someone. I didn't say anything to Nance."
"I still wonder what it would have been like ... you know to be a dad." Javier sighed.
"I hear being a parent is the best thing in the world. As soon as you become one, there's this eternal bond that is never broken, even if you never get to watch your child grow up." I took his hand in mine. "You both did the right thing. You weren't ready."
" Brittany won't talk to me."
"Maybe you should try communicating in a less public space ... as in not here." I smiled. "Camera crews are everywhere just waiting for enough drama to boost their ratings."
"As long as you keep on track, they won't have much to talk about." He stared at me, looking for an answer.
"Look Javie, that night, those nights were ... crazy. We haven't talked about it and ... we should. I don't want to give you the wrong impression though. That was a one-time thing." I repeated almost the exact same phrase that I told Kyle earlier and I meant it. No more. I was going to stop this and face my issues ... well probably not face them, but hide them better this time.
"Stop lying to yourself Chass."
"I'm not." I smiled. "Look, just go to bed, okay? We have a long few days ahead of us."I quickly stood up.
"Wait. I didn't mean to sound like ... I don't know what's going on with you Chass, but I'm really sorry."
"Do you want to--"
"Talk about it?" I shook my head. "Absolutely not." Within moments, the tears started welling up in my eyes again. "This happens a lot." I forced a smile which quickly turned into a frown.
Javier stood up, and did something unexpected--her comforted me. That wasn't how it usually went. In general I was the one who did all the consoling and now here he was acting like a... friend, which almost never happened.
"The spoiled brat grew a heart?" I joked in order to make the situation less intimate and more brother-sister-like. It didn't work. Those thoughts were rushing through my mind again.
"Shh. It's a secret. Don't tell anyone." Javie laughed back and it was then that I remembered why we worked so well. We were very, very different but shared the same sense of humor which was so important. And really sexy.
"Would I be wrong if I said..." My voice trailed off. I couldn't say it out loud, but it would help me forget. Before Javier could respond, my lips met his forcefully. "Yummy." I chuckled as Javier reciproated the kiss and then pulled away.
"Not like this." He whispered.
"It's always been like this Javie. Just do this for me. It doesn't have to mean anything."I explained whole-heartedly which made it almost on the verge of begging.
"I'm still into Brittany."
"I don't care." I whispered, reaching for his lips again.
"I do. I can't risk her seeing this and getting the wrong idea." Javier pulled away.
"Okay." I wrapped the cartigan I had on closer to my body. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay kid?"
"No, it's cool. We've got pre-comp to think about."
Nancy was sitting beside me on the beach, a few inches away and all I could feel was this huge gap between us. I couldn't tell if she was mad at me or what, but the silence was killing me. "Are you mad?"
"Are you mad about the pre-challenge? I know I didn't know the history of the show and the newer casts. I'm sorry if I let you down." I whispered, holding Nancy's hand unsurely.
"You never let me down." She whispered, leaning her head on my shoulder.
"Then what is it? You seem so ... down."
"I guess I am. This whole experience is so overwhelming. We're opening up this important chapter from the past and trying to pick up from where we left off and it's so confusing. What happens in a few days from now when we have to go back into our own separate worlds?"
"Are you talking about us?"
"Maybe." Nancy shrugged. "There are just so many things that have changed since you used to know me Drew."
"But you're still the same Nancy I fell in love with." I answered, holding my breath and waiting for an answer.
"Don't say stuff like that. You're gonna make me cry." Nancy smiled brightly as I started to relax a little.
"But you don't have anything to cry about ... yet." I pulled out a small bracelet that I had been working on since I got here.
"Oh ... it's a ..." Her voice trailed off. "What is it?" I smiled. Only she could ask something like this during a moment like this without sounding ungrateful.
"It's a masterpiece. My artwork ... I make it for you." I unhooked the bracelet and laid it carefully across Nancy's arm as she giggled uncontrollably.
"Aww sweetie." She beamed when the laughter finally died down. "You always know how to make me feel better." Nancy hugged me tightly as I took the chance to kiss her tenderly, later resting my hands on the sides of her face. "I don't deserve you." Nancy backed away from me slowly, walking towards the beachhouse. "I'm sorry."
"Nancy!" I yelled, trying to run after her, but deeming it hopeless once I fell into the sand.
I was really trying to do what she said, leave it alone. But that was really hard with Chasati. She was one of those people that I knew would always look out for me. We didn't have to see each other every day or even every month and we were just as cool as ever. That was rare. I just felt like I had to do something, something to help her out.
"Kyle!" Summer screamed, waving at me and tackling me from the front. She caught me so much off guard that I actually tumbled to the ground.
She flashed me a seductive smile, which I would normally fall over backwards to see, but now I was just so worried about Chasati and confused … really confused.
"Okay, you are being the most neglectful boyfriend ever." Summer complained as she pinned me to the floor. "What is wrong with you?"
I shrugged, shaking my hair as it all fell to one side.
"Ugh. You should really cut your hair honey." Summer pouted, playing with it and then tugging to see what I would look like with different styles.
My mind started to drift back to the Chasati situation, but I forced myself to focus on the current scenario. Summer was the hottest girl around and she was mine.
"Hello Kyle. I'm over here." Summer gave me a slight push, kissing me behind the ear which was totally my weak spot. It just reminded me of all the things I already knew, how lucky I was to have Summer.
Clarke would kill, shit in his pants … whatever to have her. Her cute little nose, her intense brown eyes, her lips which were now inches from mine.
"What's with you?" She pouted. Even her "mad face" was fit for a magazine. It was so perfect that I almost wished that I could have a camera there to capture the moment.
"I'm thinking." I whispered, realizing that I hadn't said a word to my girl yet.
"Well stop. You'll get wrinkled more easily that way." Summer demanded as I gave her a weird look. "You know because you scrunch up your forehead and stuff. It makes you look like an old man." First my hair was too long and now I looked old? Summer was definitely living in her own universe.
"You're right." I answered as Summer pinned me down playfully, her legs on either side of my body. My eyes averted to the side as I noticed the camera people filming us.
"I know it. So … what's up with the whole 'I'm thinking' bit? About what? My birthday perhaps?"
"Actually … no. I'm too smart to fall for that trick again. You're getting nothing out of me." I smiled, getting back to my old charismatic self. The entire Chasati sleepover was now far from my mind. "You know I was just enjoying this moment here. This positioning is perfect." Summer leaned down to kiss me gently.
I returned the kiss as we each took turns pulling out our best tricks, trying to prove that one of us was a better kisser than the other. Summer always won and I had no complaints. I leaned up towards her for one last kiss but Summer pulled away, flipping her hair behind her shoulder and completely dissing me.
"It's the last time you'll see it … here. With these cameras running around filming us all the time. My mom thinks I'm a virgin and I want to keep it that way."
"But we both know that's a lie Summer. You've proven that to me over and over and over--"
"I know." Summer kissed me again this time to shut me up. "But everyone doesn't have to know. Let her have her false little dreams that hasn't been a reality for years."
"Smile for the camera." I joked as I noticed that cameraman getting closer and closer to us. He had actually been there for a while, but I waited to say something until Summer was done talking … just for fun.
"Shit." She muttered, rolling off me and standing up facing the guy one-on-one. "You're not going to use that footage, right? Moolah Beach is a family show."
"Chill. They never answer." I sat up and reached for Summer, beckoning her to sit beside me. "It's cool." I comforted her, soon after adding, "that part will probably be on the DVD outtakes."
"Thanks Kyle. Thanks a lot." Summer rolled her eyes standing up once again and walking away.
I shrugged. At least I had time to put my plan into action. Operation help Chasati out..
"So this is the basic plan, everyone I think we should show Chasati how much she means to us." Kyle spoke after having us all meet in this "top secret" room to talk about the pre-competition, which everyone had their underwear in a bunch over. Who cared? The only thing that mattered was the final competition and winning it.
"What do you want us to do?" My partner, Jake asked.
"Obviously, he's asking us to throw the mission." Clarke rolled his eyes. "I won't do it."
"Come on guys. She's been there for everyone. Javier's pretty cool. It's not like we're handing them the money--"
"Just the advantage." Summer cut in shaking her head. "Count me out."
"Sorry, but I have to agree with Summer. Just because Chasati needs something doesn't mean we should be the ones to give it to her. No one made her come here." I answered, not allowing myself to do anything that would made Javier's life easier. That bastard. Abortion my ass…
"That's really selfish Brittany and Summer. It may not be something we want to do but tables turned and Chasati was sitting here right now she'd stick her neck out for one of us in a millisecond. I'm in." Nancy declared in her sweet, but powerful voice.
"Me too." Drew chimed in. "Well … Shari … Clarke, Jake, Summer … everyone. Are you in too?"
Soon after everyone muttered their "okays" and "fines," but I could see in Summer's eyes that she had no intention of abiding by this pact and I was the only one who hadn't agreed to it. As the crowd thinned, Kyle approached me.
"I know why you really want to do this. You're into her, aren't you?"
"And I'm pretty sure you're against this idea mostly because of Javier. So what?" Kyle challenged me.
"I won't help him out, but I do want to know … what happened between you two? Is it what I think?"
"Do you think Chasati would do something like that, especially with someone like me?" Kyle wondered, turning on the charm. This guy was too good.
"I guess not, but I'm going to be watching you … if something is, don't hurt her." I ordered.
"What would hurt Summer?" Kyle gave me his award-winning smile. "The girl's heart is made of stone. She has no feelings."
I was getting good at losing Drew. Just that quickly and I had already landed myself a few feet away from him. I pulled on the faded gray sweatshirt that I packed with me and hid behind the hood matched with an old baseball cap.
I fought it long enough. I wanted to give in so mad, at least once while I was here.
Immediately, my eyes scanned the place and I found the corner where they were hanging out—the stoners. If caught, everyone would be thinking exactly what I used to thing … drugs are bad for you, losers do drugs … just say no and all that other commercial garbage they feed to you about getting high after they've already sold the product to you and gotten you addicted.
Ha. Addicted. Far away from that road, I just wanted a little high. It always calmed down my nerves, my anxiety, the overwhelming pressure to do better which had only grown since my last few years in high school and going to college. All this rationalization I was doing in my mind was insignificant. In moments, the joint would be in my hands and from there within seconds, it would be to my lips. I would inhale it slowly then let it out. My body would relax and I'd be in stoner Heaven.
The group welcomed me openly, all of whom were employees or former cast members too high to even remember my face my tomorrow. I reached my hand out for the joint. I didn't know whose lips had touched it before or why it was laying there solitary as if no one wanted it. Or maybe it was just waiting for me. I took a few puffs and felt the intoxicant rush through my system. Good, good, good. As I passed it to the next person, I heard scuffling and someone calling "Nancy! Nancy" … my name.
Quickly, or at least what felt quickly, I ducked out of the way, waiting until a little later to bail. I rushed through the deep sand, tears streaming, the faint scent of that old black and mild dancing with the fresh air of the nearby ocean.
This sucked. No high and on top of that I couldn't even keep the smell. I'd have to go shower it away and hide any trace of this new Nancy that I was too afraid to show anyone.
"I should have you arrested for stalking." I announced as soon as the gym door opened. I was here at 6am like I had been nearly every morning since arriving here and suddenly I had company for the first time. This reeked of Kyle.
"You're good Chas." He smiled, turning on the treadmill beside me and walking into step with me. "This speed's a little … slow, don't you think?" He upped his level.
"I was just warming up." I explained, instantly feeling the need to be competitive. Kyle didn't retaliate, for a while, but as soon as he changed his speed to match mine, I made sure that my level was harder. Anything to make sure that I had the upper hand on this dude.
"This is stupid." Kyle muttered after an hour on the machine and got off.
"You're just a sore loser." I answered back, slowing my speed and starting the "cool down" phase.
"I didn't know we were in a competition."
"If we're not then why the hell is everyone here?" I asked. "I'm really glad you decided to back off."
"Who says I have?" Kyle challenged, looking me directly in the eyes, thus making me face him openly and honestly.
"Before you start playing the Prince Charming card, you should know I asked some other guy to be with me last night." I stated hurtfully.
"Okay, but I'm asking you to open up to me for real. Stop making everything just on a physical level.'
"I won't do that to Summer--"
"Again?" Kyle cupped me face, looking at me in a way that reminded me of that night. Before then, he didn't seem to care about it. It was just sex, but that night he changed.
"Don't do it. You don't know what you're getting int--"
"Don't fight it." Kyle whispered, as I felt a huge surge of energy flow through my body when his lips met mine. I fought it the entire time although I didn't fully want to.
"What if…" I argued.
"I don't care." He resumed kissing me as I just let it happen. I'd think about the consequences later.
(A/N: Next time it's the pre-competition, and the final. I'll add in the characters from other casts too.)