Jennifer stood up and ran her fingers through her hair. She smiled at Joe and nodded her head, signaling for him to lead the way. He moved slowly into the kitchen where the boys were still happily eating their chicken tenders.

"Hey guys," Joe said, but they continued eating. "Guys."
"What?" Charles replied with a mouthful of chicken before looking over at the girl. His face burned red before he swallowed down his food.
"Um, I wanted you to meet Jennifer, my sister."

"Hey! I'm Cary." Cary waved at her. "Do you-"
"Wait, guys." Martin began. "I didn't know Joe had a sister."
"We told you that before, stupid." Cary stated.
"But I think I would have remembered from all the years-"
"Shut up." Cary said, hitting Martin's arm.

"You shut up," Martin said, glaring.
"Um..." Jennifer stood, shifting around slightly.
Joe knew that she wasn't used to being around boys like them. "Guys, stop. You're scaring Jennifer."

"It's okay, they scare me too sometimes." Preston said.
Jessica smiled and looked at the ground.
"Wanna sit?" Preston asked.
"Yeah." Jennifer said, pulling up a chair next to Joe's.

"So," Joe began, "you guys need to introduce yourselves."
"But I already did!" Cary said
"Fine. Then everyone else can."
"Well, just so you know, Jessica-"
"Jennifer," she said.
"-you should remember that I was the first to introduce myself."

"Got it." Jennifer grinned.
"I'm-" Martin was cut off by Cary.
"Smartin."
"That's not my name! I don't like it when you call me that!"
Cary smiled.
"My name's Martin."

She chuckled at Cary's joke, but smiled politely at Martin. "Hi."
Preston laughed, too, before introducing himself.
"And I'm Charles," the last boy said. He still looked a bit embarrassed about what he had done earlier, but he made sure to sound suave.

"Nice to meet you, Charles." Jennifer offered a small smile. She noticed that he was staring at her and, feeling a bit awkward, looked down.
The conversation stopped. Everyone sat in awkward silence. The boys could talk forever by themselves, but with a new person - a girl for that matter - around, they didn't know what to do with themselves.

"Soooo," Cary began. "Jennifer. Do you like it here?" She continued smiling. "Um. In Lillian?"
"Yeah. It's nice."

He continued to ask questions "Where are you even from?"
"Well, my mom and I lived pretty far from here. In-"
"FAR from here?! Where?"

"Well, not really far. Just down-"
"Wait. You don't have any brothers or sisters, do you? Because then there would be more of you...and Joe would have like...an instant family."
Jennifer breathed out. "No. No, I don't. My-"
"And how did your parents meet?"

"Um, they met at a coffee shop."
"So, what does she do, is she like, THERE, or-"
"She didn't work there, but, I guess they accidentally bumped into each other, and-"
"But what does she do?"

"Cary! You're freaking her out," Charles interrupted. "That's not how you talk to a girl."
"Quit interrupting me, lubberboy," he replied.

Ignoring Charles, Cary turned back to Jennifer. "And what does she do?" he repeated.
"Well, she doesn't work anymore. Because we had to move."
"Is she looking for a job?"
"Uh...I don't know."
"When did you first meet Joe? How did you first meet him? What did you think of him? And his dad?"
Jennifer's face turned red and she looked at the ground, pushing her hair out of her face and breathing heavily.

Joe couldn't help but glare at Cary. Jennifer was so obviously overwhelmed by his questions - and, besides, she had just moved to a new town.
Jennifer looked up slightly. "Um, I-"
"Come on. I'm just asking! It's not that hard."
"I, I liked them, I guess, but-"
"But how did you meet them?"
"Mom introduced me while they were dating."

"Where?"
"Oh, I don't really-"
"I mean, how could you not like Joe, right?"
Jennifer stopped for a second. She smiled. "Yeah."
"Wait guys. I'm confused." Martin broke in. "How can they be siblings if they're the same age?"
Jennifer turned towards Martin and cocked her head. "What?"

"You and Joe are the same age. How can you be brother and sister?"
"He's my stepbrother, so-"
"But how does that work? How do you guys get along if you're the same age?"
"What? That, that... what?" Her face twisted slightly in confusion.
"Great job, Smartin, you got her confused," Cary began.
"No! You know what I mean, right?"

"No, I really don't." Jennifer said, looking at Martin with sympathy.
"Let me put it this way. You two are the same age. And so-" Martin's face changed suddenly. "Oh I get it! You two are twins!"
Jennifer suddenly realized that Martin was serious, and covered her mouth to hide her grin.

"But why haven't we met you before?" Martin asked.

She didn't respond for a whole minute, probably because she was trying not to laugh at him. "Um, we just moved back, so, that's w-"
"But wait, wouldn't Joe and everyone else visit?"
"They obviously didn't," Cary huffed.
"Shut up. I know that. I'm not stupid."
"M'kay, Smar-"
"Stop. But, I mean, Joe, you didn't try to visit us?"
He shifted awkwardly. "We couldn't really come back."

"Why not?" Martin asked, frowning.
"Well, because we had moved and we were really busy...and we were trying to adjust and-"
"Wait, so did you like Joe or not when you first met? Hey Joe, did you like her?" Cary blurted.
"Well-"
"If you're twins, why didn't you ever visit Joe all these years we've known him?" Martin asked, looking very stressed.

"We're not twins." Jennifer sighed.
"You're not?" Martin yelled.

"No, Martin. It doesn't work that way. My mom isn't..." She paused awkwardly, as if she remembered what had happened. "..um, I mean, we're not from the SAME family. We didn't even know each other until our parents were dating."
"But, wait, then, how..." Joe could tell that whatever energy ran through Martin's brain was running out, the way he stumbled over his words. "Um, nevermind."

Jennifer looked around the table, only to find Cary bursting out in laughter.
"Nice going, Smartin!" Cary gasped in between laughter.
"I said I don't like it when you call me that!" Martin frowned.
Jennifer smiled in spite of herself.

"Aw, Marty, Jessica's laughing, are you gonna cry?"
"It's Jennifer," Charles interrupted before the girl could correct him. "Any nicknames? Jenny? Jen?"
"Um, Jen is fine."
"Let Jess speak for herself, lubberboy," Cary spat.
"She just said Jen."
"Whatever!"

Jen laughed slightly. She'd gotten at least a little used to the boys. "Do you guys always argue like this?"
Joe nodded, answering her question - but Preston, unaware of her brother's answer, spoke. "Basically, yeah-"
"Dude, he just answered that," Cary said.
"Cary, seriously, do you ever shut up?"
"Aw, Marty, Jessica's laughing, are you gonna cry?"
"It's Jennifer," Charles interrupted before the girl could correct him. "Any nicknames? Jenny? Jen?"
"Um, Jen is fine."
"Let Jess speak for herself, lubberboy," Cary spat.
"She just said Jen."
"Whatever!"
Jen laughed slightly. She'd gotten at least a little used to the boys. "Do you guys always argue like this?"
Joe nodded, answering her question - but Preston, unaware of her brother's answer, spoke. "Basically, yeah-"
"Dude, he just answered that," Cary said.
"Cary, seriously, do you ever shut up?"

"No, I don't."
"Maybe you should try it out sometime."
"Oh, really? Well maybe you should try-"
"Guys, knock it off. You're being so immature." Charles cut in.
"Oh, because you're just the most mature person in the world." Cary shot back.

"Look who's talking."
"Yeah, exactly. You're way worse than I am, and Joe lets you be that way."
"Probably because I have a brain."
"Ha!"
"One that doesn't think about explosions all the time." Cary's face fell at that remark.

Jen covered her face. She didn't seem to feel scared or anxious anymore - so, as far as Joe knew, she was holding back her laughter.

"Will you ever want to hang out with us again, Jen? Or did we scare you off?" Preston smiled.
Jen released her head from her hands and pushed her hair back.

"Scared? Nah. I never had friends like you guys back home."

"Oh man. They're all normal out there, aren't they?" Preston said, his eyes bugging out.
Cary rolled his eyes "Stop freaking out."
"No, they weren't normal. Just boring," she replied. "I guess I was, too."
"But now you're like us, right?" Cary said.
"I don't know. Maybe."

"You either are or you aren't."
"Wow, you guys are so persistent. Can't you just accept 'I don't know' as an answer?"
"No."
Jen raised her eyebrows.

"I guess I'll have to say 'no' for now. This whole place is still new to me."
"You don't 'guess,' you just are."
She laughed. "Yeah, okay. No guessing here." Cary tilted his head slightly, and Jen's smile faded - she'd tried for a joke, but failed.

"Hey, can we see your room?" Cary blurted out.
"Uh, well it's not really unpacked yet, because-"
"Please? Please? Please?"
"Um..."

"Please."
"Maybe later. When it's more unpacked?"
"*What?!* That's going to take forever! I just want to see what it looks like!"
"She said no, you idiot," Charles mumbled.
"Am I the only one who cares about this!?"
"Yes."
"But, um," Jen began, "yeah, I meant no."

"Ugh, you're so boring," Cary whined.
"Stop it," Charles replied. "She has her space."

Cary continued, ignoring Charles. "Please? Please? Please? Come on. In this group of friends, there are no secrets. We don't hide anything."
"I have nothing to hide. It's just that it's messy."
"Please? Please? Please?"
"Fine." Jen sighed. She pushed her chair back and beckoned for the boys to stand up.

As soon as Jen led them to the door, the boys ran in, seemingly desperate to find out everything about the room. She was absolutely right. The room was a mess - with boxes scattered around the floor - and barely furnished, save for a bed and a dresser.
"Are you happy now?" Jen said.
Cary looked over at her, looking slightly disappointed that her room was not unusual. "I guess. You were right."

Jen smiled. She snatched a book that was laying open on the bed and threw it on the ground on the other side of the room.
"What was that?" Cary asked.
"Nothing." Jen replied.
"What was that?!" Cary repeated.
"A book."
"What was in the book?"
"Nothing."

"She writes songs," Joe said before covering his mouth. Jen was probably going to kill him - but, for now, she nodded.
Cary stared at Joe before turning back to Jen. "Songs about what? I hope they're not stupid love songs."
"Just about stuff," she said.
"But what kind of stuff? Love? Feelings? Lame stuff?"
"What, do you want them to be about explosions?" Charles said, chuckling to himself.

"Explosions?" Jen asked, desperately trying to change the subject.
"Cary's obsessed with fireworks." Charles explained.
"It's a hobby." Cary protested.
"A dangerous one." Charles muttered.
"I've got a bunch in my backpack. Wanna see me set one off?"
"Uh, no. Not really, actually."
"Then can we hear one of your songs?"

"Um, actually, I don't really want to do that..."
"Why? Is it because they suck?"
"No, it's because-"
"They suck, don't they? They're totally about makeup, and shoes, and boys."
"No, they're personal, they're-"
"So they ARE about boys! Hey, write one for me, and next time we visit you can sing for us."
"But-"
"Sweet! Thanks."
"I didn't-"
"You have to do it now," Preston mumbled.
"Fine."

"Really?" Cary asked.
"Yes. Now get the hell out of my room." Jen said, smiling.