The first chapter of this will be a bit long since I want people to get a bit of a feel for the character. I'm not sure where exactly this story will lead to but I can really only hope I'll stick with it.

"I really do not get how your whole relationship works." Natalie Rogan said as she watched her friend Ian Gallagher stock the merchandise at Kash & Grab. She would often visit him during her breaks when not working at the candy parlor not too far away. "I mean…he's married. If that isn't a bit of a red flag, I don't know what is," she said as she walked to the front side of the shop and grabbed a doughnut.

"You know you'll have to pay for that, right?" Ian smirked as he took the doughnut from her hands and took a huge bite.

Natalie scoffed, "Please. You constantly come to the parlor, don't acknowledge my existence, and grab a Snickers and go to work on it." She took the doughnut back and sat on the front stool. "I wouldn't talk if I were you."

"Admit it, even when I don't talk to you, you enjoy just the sight of my handsome face." Ian said which was answered with a sigh and a dreamy stare from Natalie.

"You caught me. Seriously, I'm surprised I haven't jumped your brawny bones yet."

Ian smiled at their banter. "If you were a guy…you'd be in for a whole mess of trouble."

Natalie rolled her eyes and smiled. "Come on though, seriously. How do you get away with it?"

"What do you mean? 'Get away with it'?" Ian asked while moving around her to the cash register as a customer walked in.

Natalie took the opportunity to stand. "You know. I mean, it's not like you can sneak past the kids or the wife. And am I really the only one who knows?" She was trying her best to be discreet. She wasn't sure how comfortable Ian would feel talking about his sexual preference around random people from town.

"Yeah, I mean no one else has really figured out. But I guess the fact that it's not really a slumber party type situation we don't have to worry. And it's not like we would ever go to my place."

Natalie shook her head and went to the door. "Someone will find out eventually, just a warning there."

Natalie finished off her doughnut and walked down the street towards the parlor. Her shift was about to start and she did not want to hear another lecture from Joey about her five second delay while punching in. Joey was her manager and one of her only other co-workers. He was only twenty-four but got the company due to inheritance after his father died of a stroke. His mother had died a few years prior and now he was all alone, trying to maintain a family business that if located in another area probably would have died out years ago. He was nice to Natalie but when it came to work it was strictly business.

As she made it to the entrance she realized that she wasn't alone today. Lexi was mopping up a mess on the floor beside a table with three kids. She smiled up at Natalie and rolled her eyes at the loud outburst from the back from none other than Joey. Natalie liked Lexi but she liked days when she could work the counter by herself more. Not because she didn't like the help it was just that there was no one else there to tell her she was doing something wrong.

Lexi was a two years older than Natalie and was graduating this year. She had been working at Scoops for almost four years and insisted that even after graduation and her transfer to Cambridge in Boston she would still return for a summer job. Lexi was lucky enough to have gotten a full scholarship and have enough money to travel. She was one of the people in the Southside who had not only both parents around, but both parents actually liked one another. She was also pretty lucky in having a large group of friends that weren't completely fucked in the head.

Natalie was running on empty in Chicago. Sure, it was one of those busy places where plenty of shit happened, but that was the city…Canaryville was different. It was far from exciting and more like a prison in Natalie's eyes. Her only close friends were Ian and Lexi give or take a few acquaintances. She lived down the block from Ian since she was five. Her parents had been divorced since she was a baby and a few years ago her father moved down to Arizona. She had her mom but for the most part she was always busy with work trying to provide for them. Her older brother, Dylan was at college for his second year at Illinois Institute of Technology and popped by the house, often by surprise. It wasn't as if he was incredibly far anyway but he did own his own place with some roommates off campus.

"Hey girly, how are you today?" Lexi asked as she finished mopping up the rest of the mess. Natalie signed herself in and put herself on the second register, setting her messenger bag under the counter. She tied her hair up quickly and took out her uniform.

"Actually, I'm pretty decent. Be right back!" Natalie said as she ran to the back office and changed quickly into her shirt and put on her stupid hat. Lexi often chose not to wear her own and only scrambled for it when Joey waltzed in unannounced. Lexi took pride in her curly platinum blonde hair and never risked it looking disheveled. Natalie could care less about her own dark dirty blonde hair, closer to a brownish hue due to her father's strong genes. She often wore it either in a messy bun or all natural, having quit after curling/straightening her hair for so long. Ian would often make fun of her for it, saying she spent way too much time making a mess of her hair when she was younger.

Natalie ran back to the front just in time to see a customer walk in. Of course, some idiots from her high school she had no intention of dealing with. "Welcome to Scoops, how can I help you?" she asked while grabbing a pair of gloves.

"Well, I could deal with a large cup of rocky road with everything you've got to put on top." Simon, the so called leader of the pack said. "Oh, and my buddies over here want sundaes. Not to go." He said it with a smile that made her role her eyes.

"Coming right up," Natalie said as she began to work on the first order. Luckily Lexi came to her side and helped get the orders together. As Natalie finished the last sundae, Simon attempted to make small talk.

"So, how's life been? I hear you've gotten pretty close with Gallagher…anything going on there?" he asked as she pushed his order to him in frustration. She turned her eyes down and put the order in the register. She hated this about her job; why couldn't she work where no one from school would often go to?

"Ian and I are just friends." Natalie stated before asking him for the cash.

He was about to hand her the money but pressed on, "Cool, so it's okay for me to ask you what you're doing later on?"

"No," she replied while waiting for the cash. He persisted.

"Come on, have I ever done anything to you?"

"Yes, there's the slight fact that you have been one of the most incessantly annoying people I've ever come across in this town. Oh, and that you've made fun of Ian and I for about seven years," Natalie answered while keeping her hand out. Lexi had to stop herself from laughing while grabbing napkins for the boys.

"The past is the past, Nat. Besides, I think we've both grown up since then," he replied while smirking devilishly.

"Oh, we've both grown since Friday? Right, that's when I saw you simply walk by a girl and pull her shirt up from behind. How adult of you," Natalie said before pulling the money from his grasp. "And don't call me Nat."

"Bitch," he muttered before picking up the ice cream and walking to his friends. He slumped loudly in his chair and pushed it in obnoxiously. Natalie couldn't help but scoff and pull out her copy of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower".

Lexi shuffled her feet in an attempt to gain Natalie's attention after a few minutes. "You know, even though I am a completely objective third party and have nothing to do with anything in this situation, can I ask when you are gonna stop cutting yourself off from guys?"

"Are you seriously telling me that I should have said yes," she pointed to the boys with her book, "to that?"

"No," Lexi said, "but have you really ever said 'yes' to a guy?"

Natalie scrunched up her face and sighed heavily, "Well, there's always that asking thing that needs to happen before the response so, no."

"There is no way."

"Not everyone comes out as gorgeous as you," Natalie said before returning to reading.

Lexi pulled the book away from her, "You have to promise me the next guy who asks you out you will say yes to." Natalie took back the book and nodded before shooing Lexi back to her cash register.

Simon stood up and walked over to them. "Stay put," Natalie said not tearing her eyes from her book. Simon sat back down and his friends laughed in amusement.

Lexi ran to the back office to grab her stuff and counted her register extremely fast. "Do you mind closing my register? I have to go meet up with Aaron."

"Yeah, whatever, but you owe me." Natalie said as she moved herself over to Lexi's drawer to drop her cash. Lexi gave her a side hug and ran out the door.

Just as she left, Ian walked in the front doors and sat on the counter. "Hey, you heading over to my house once you're closed up?"

"I wasn't planning on it but sure." Natalie replied as she counted the drawer as quickly as possible. Joey was already out and she had to close up shop. "Do you mind putting up the 'closed' sign?"

Ian walked to the door and did as she told but smiled when someone banged on the window. "Sorry, no service," Ian said towards the figure behind the glass. He closed the blinds as well.

The person walked through the front doors obnoxiously and pushed Ian jokingly. "What's up, Nat?" Lip Gallagher asked as he sat on one of the bar stools. He was a year older than Ian and Natalie and often hung around with them when he wasn't doing his normal shit, drinking, smoking, or fucking. He was a good guy when he wanted to be but often times thought he was right and didn't like being told otherwise.

"I'm doing great, Phillip. Just counting out two drawers and closing the place for the night, alone." Natalie replied as she pulled out an envelope for the cash. She then began on her own register as Lip fingered his way through the cash put in Lexi's envelope. "Don't touch."

Lip put it back and smiled at her as she rubbed her eyes and finished counting the change. "You're stopping by our place when you finish?" he asked.

"Well it wouldn't really be stopping by considering I'll be walking there with you two and will most likely end up sleeping on the floor."

"Wouldn't have it any other way," Ian said as he shifted behind the register to help her by filling out the envelope. Natalie shoved his head to the side.

"What's this?" Lip asked as he picked up her book. He flipped to the many book-marked pages. "Why so many dog-eared pages?" he asked.

"I like most of the quotes." Natalie shrugged as she walked to the back to put away the cash and the drawers. She locked it up in the safe and headed to the back door to lock that.

Lip continued leafing through the pages and smiling at the random quotes she had loved most, he didn't have to sift through much seeing as though she underlined most of them. One caught his eye right on one of the beginning pages, "So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."

Natalie walked back towards the front. Lip continued to read through the quotes. "Hey, you mind if I borrow this?" he asked.

Natalie looked at him quizzically, but nodded anyway.

"How was your day at work?" Ian asked as the three walked down the street. Having changed her clothes and pulled down her hair, Natalie felt a whole lot better and couldn't wait to lie down.

"Have I mentioned how much I despise people from our school?" Natalie asked.

Lip shrugged, "Once or twice. Why?"

"Well Simon Bonaparte and two of his little friends came in and he actually had the audacity to ask me out."

Ian and Lip laughed into hysterics. "Hold on," Ian said, gasping for air. "You have got to be joking."

Natalie shook her head, "Wish I was."

"That's actually fucking hilarious." Lip said. "Wasn't he the kid who wrote all over the boys' bathroom that Roger Spikey was the 'original beefmeister'?"

Natalie and Ian shared a look. "I wouldn't be surprised if he did, he's so weird."

Lip nodded. "You got that right. I mean who would find you attractive?"

"Fuck off." He laughed in response before putting his arm around her shoulder.

The three made it to the boys' house and the second they walked in there was yelling from Carl, the second youngest who was far too interested in blowing things up and Debbie, the youngest girl who knew far too much at her age. They were arguing this time over what was going to be for dinner while Fiona, the oldest of the group and the "rock" of the Gallagher family attended to Liam, the baby.

"Good, you guys are home. Oh, hi Nat. You staying for dinner?" Fiona asked as she set Liam down in his high chair.

"Uh, yeah. If that's okay," Natalie said before dropping her messenger bag on a nearby chair.

Fiona nodded her off, "It's fine. These two just seem to want two different things, mac-n-cheese or leftover meatloaf."

"Close call, I'd go with meatloaf that way you won't be wasting." Natalie said before Carl smiled and high-fived her.

"Fine," Debbie scowled before sitting down at the table by Liam.

Fiona began to pull out the meat and Natalie took the time to pull out all that was needed. She pulled out pieces of whole wheat bread and some lettuce that was located at the bottom of the fridge causing Lip and Ian to share a look of confusion. "It's called making a meal more delicious and easy to hand out in portions. Hey Fiona, do you have any onions or ketchup?" Natalie asked as Fiona prepared the meat.

"We have a couple of tomatoes and one onion."

"That'll do." Natalie replied.

Everyone gathered at the table as Kevin and Veronica walked in. Veronica was one of those people that Natalie really looked up to because not only did she not take shit, she spoke her mind no matter what the situation. Kevin was the one that really didn't give a fuck and always looked out for everyone. Natalie hoped one day she could end up in a relationship as good as Veronica and Kev's.

"Nat, where you been?" Kev asked as he sat next to Debbie. "Anytime I see you it's only at the parlor. What, does Joey have you working from dawn to dusk?"

"Basically." Natalie answered before putting her head down on the counter in exhaustion. "Today was the one day where I got to close early because he left at five."

"Get used to it, honey. Soon enough you won't know what day is what." Veronica said before helping the two in the kitchen.

"Yeah, and soon Lexi won't be here to help anymore. I'll be alone to deal with Joey and his bipolar tendencies." Natalie said.

Ian and Lip sat down on either side of Carl, "Less chit chat, more food making!" Lip shouted. All three girls gave him the finger and Kev put his hands over Debbie's eyes.

The food was finished soon enough and everyone seemed to enjoy it as well as the time they had together. They all talked about what was going on in their lives, from Ian and his Army ROTC to Carl and his current suspension due to putting a firecracker in the boys' bathroom. Debbie talked about how her class was going to be doing a show-and-tell next week, Lip talked about his idea for gaining money for the family using his school smarts and Liam just hiccupped the entire time. Natalie had intervened at some points and told of her plan to get her mom back on the dating scene. Veronica told Natalie that she and Fiona would be going out together the second she turned eighteen.

By the end of the night they were all tired and Natalie collapsed on the couch before saying goodbye to both Veronica and Kev. Debbie and Carl both ran upstairs and Fiona walked up after them with Liam in her arms. "Night guys!" she exclaimed.

Ian pulled a blanket out and placed it over his friend. He rolled his eyes seeing her mouth wide open. Lip walked past him and headed up the stairs as the door began to open. Frank Gallagher, the mess of the family walked through the front doors and collapsed on the chair located across from the couch. He didn't acknowledge Ian or Natalie's existence, as expected, and appreciated by Ian. He locked the front door and back and then walked upstairs silently.

"Wake up, Gallaghers!" Fiona exclaimed at about seven thirty in the morning. She wanted them all up and ready before she left for her many part-time jobs. Natalie almost fell off the couch in surprise. She wiped her lip and walked into the kitchen, greeting Fiona and sitting at the island. Ian, Lip and Carl all bounded downstairs, each waiting their turn to shower after Debbie. Liam still had time to rest and no one was going to bother with Frank.

Natalie put her jacket back on and said goodbye to the family before making her way home. Since she lived only six houses down it wasn't that far of a stretch. Once she made it through the front door, she noticed something different about the place.


"How do you always know when I'm home?" her older brother asked as he walked out of the kitchen in towards the dining room in the line of vision for Natalie to see.

Natalie walked over to him and they hugged. "It's not hard to realize. I mean, the living room is already a mess." She pointed towards the sloppy sofa and the stands that contained food packages and drinks.

"Whatever." Dylan replied. "So what's going on for you today? Have work to do?"

"Actually, yes, in a few hours I have to go. But I have off after four. You want to do something? How long you here for?" Natalie asked. She went into the kitchen to grab some milk only to find that they were out. She'd have to pick up some before she walked home.

"Only today, I decided I'd surprise you both last night but turned out you both weren't around." Dylan said with a smile. "Can I assume my little sister was out with a guy?"

"No. I was at the Gallagher's."

"I see. How are they?"

"Okay. Considering their situation," Natalie answered. Natalie and Dylan were lucky their mom didn't have much of a problem paying the mortgage or the bills. Sure, they weren't accustom to getting many gifts on holidays or birthdays but they managed well enough.

"Fiona still looking hot as fuck?"

Natalie gave him a look, "You always talk to girls like this or am I the only one due to the fact that we're siblings?"

"No, it's every girl."

"No wonder you can't get a girlfriend." Natalie said with a shake of the head.

"Not that I'm looking. You on the other hand, why haven't you ever managed to get a boyfriend yet?" Dylan asked as he turned on the T.V. and lay out along the sofa.

Natalie took the chair alongside it. "Maybe it's because of my bitchy demeanor."

"Or that you don't open up."

Natalie nodded, "Same difference."

They both watched Friday Night Lights until Natalie had to get ready for work. "Call me when you have an idea for what you want to do later, okay?"

Dylan nodded from the couch as she ran past him to get to the front door.

"See ya!"

Natalie made it to work about ten minutes early and already had a few messes to clean up. Lexi was staying later than her today so she didn't mind as much. As much as she wished the place would have nice service, work dragged on extremely long. Natalie tried to think of how in summer she would be wishing for days like this, but that wasn't much of a silver lining.

As she was making it through her fourth of five hours of work, an unfamiliar face walked through the door. He was tall, medium build with dark buzzed hair and in Natalie's opinion looked to be a bit younger than Joey. "How can I help you?" Natalie asked, putting on her fake smile.

"I was actually wondering if you were hiring," the guy replied.

Natalie's smile turned to an indifferent look. "We actually will be hiring soon since we're gonna need another server."

"Why are you leaving?" he asked, a bit forward for Natalie's taste.

"No, Lexi over there is." She pointed to Lexi who waved before returning to putting out more cups and cones. Natalie handed him an application and assumed he was going to fill it out. He stood still though smiling down at her.

"Oh," he replied. "Well I guess I won't have to miss seeing your pretty face."

Natalie rolled her eyes, "Just fill out the application." A smile made its way to her face. Lexi watched the two out of the corner of her eye and smiled slightly.

Once he finished filling it out he handed it back to Natalie who was then busy with a customer. "Can I expect to see you soon?" he asked.

Natalie looked over to him before completing the order, "We'll let you know."

He smiled lightly and left the store.

"Oh, you are so tapping that." Lexi said.

"So how was work?" Natalie's mother, Anya asked as she set hamburgers in front of her kids. Dylan and Natalie had seen a movie together after she made it home so they were eating later than usual.

"It was okay. Got more than one mess today, but at least I'm not working tomorrow or Friday." Natalie replied. Monday and Fridays were two of the best days to have off and sometimes, depending on Joey's mood, he would give her more time off. Considering he only had himself, Lexi and Natalie it was hard to make a schedule that went easy on the girls, hours wise.

Natalie took a few bites of her food and swallowed before explaining more of her day. "A guy came in asking for a job though so maybe he could help weigh the hours out, at least before Lexi leaves."

"That's great. I feel like you never have time anymore." Anya said. "I never see you two."

Dylan smirked, "I knew you missed me."

"Of course I miss you. You don't even go to school that far away and yet I feel like we never have time together."

"I know. And I'm trying to make that easier, but now that I have a job off campus it's a bit harder to get things done and have time for seeing family."

"I get it," Anya replied. "Oh, have you told your sister about your father calling?"

Natalie's eyes shot up instinctively. Her father shouldn't have had such an effect on her. After all, she practically hated him for the way he treated herself and her family. Her parents divorced because of his drug habits and the way he became with it. Natalie always looked up to her mother for raising her and never asking for anything in return. Her father often would go off for months at a time without talking to her or Dylan and would often blame them for the issues in their relationship. Natalie always held the motto "forget but not forgive" with him, which basically meant that she would never forgive him for the past but she would try her best to forget the pain he caused and maintain at least a healthy relationship with him.

"Right," Dylan replied. "He's coming back to Chicago soon. He wants to see us."

Natalie dropped her burger with a look of disgust. "Great. Really, and what schedule are we working around, ours or his?"

"Don't get mad at me, Nat." Dylan said with a hint of anger. "I didn't do anything."

"It's funny because I'm always the last to know about these things."

Dylan sighed heavily, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, okay?"

"Whatever. I'm leaving." Natalie said before getting up and taking her left over piece of hamburger to the trash. She ran out the back door and walked hastily to the Gallagher's home.

As she opened the door she saw Ian and Debbie watching T.V. She sat next to Ian and tried to keep him from asking questions. Natalie didn't want Debs hearing about it.

When it got to be about 9:30, Debs went upstairs to her room. All the others were already in bed, with the exception of Fiona and Lip who was where ever the hell he was. "So, do you want to talk?" Ian asked.

"Dad's coming home. I don't know where he's staying, why he's coming, what he plans on doing. You want to know why I don't know?" Natalie didn't wait for him to answer. "He doesn't talk to me. Ever. It's like he puts all the blame on me for why our relationship doesn't work. He tries to forget the past and pretend that he's been golden this whole time, and to be honest he isn't even good now."

Ian nodded. He had heard her go off about her father before, and he often vented to her about Frank as well. "I know it sucks but you just have to play it off like it doesn't matter. Act like you normally do around him and try not to cop too much of an attitude."

Natalie lay her head on Ian's shoulder. "I wish I could just make it all go away."

"I do too, Nat." Ian said. He kissed her forehead and sighed. They both closed their eyes and managed to fall asleep.

About two hours later, Lip made it through the front door, out of breath after being chased by the cops throughout town. He laughed lightly to himself and coughed a bit on air. He saw Ian and Natalie on the couch together. Lip sort of had an inkling the two would get together someday, even though they always protested and often were angry people at school made such assumptions. Natalie would give him long lectures on how it wasn't as if every friendship between a woman and a man led to a relationship. He always nodded her off. Lip wondered how long the two would take to get together. Natalie was an attractive girl, and she was smart and nice. Sure, she had her flaws but who didn't?

He kicked Ian's foot which caused him to shake slightly and open his eyes wide. "God, what time is it?" he asked.

"About 11:45. What's Nat doing here for?" Lip asked.

Ian shifted her body so that he could move out from underneath her. "She was a bit pissed." Lip gave him a look, "It was about Paul."

Lip then nodded and grabbed a blanket for her. He laid it over her and turned back to Ian. "So she came to you?"

Ian nodded, "She came to us. All of us." He walked upstairs and left Lip to look at her sleeping form. Her hair was completely disheveled and her mouth was agape making it very hard for Lip not to laugh at her. She would be getting quite the wake-up call tomorrow morning before school.

"Natalie…Natalie…Natalie, wake up!"

Natalie's eyes shot open. She suddenly realized where she was and silently cursed to herself. Her mom was probably going to flip a shit once she got home. "Ian said he didn't want to wake you last night so we let you stay over," Debbie said as Natalie sat herself up. Debbie handed her a coffee, "You'll need it."

Natalie smiled before taking a few sips. She looked at the time and saw it was 7:15. She needed to get home quick to make it school at 7:45. Natalie ran towards the kitchen to thank Fiona for letting her stay the night before she ran out to her own house. Dylan would already be gone and her mother was going to still be asleep since she had work at nine. She ran upstairs to her room and changed into a pair of jeans and a plain white tank top with a plaid shirt. She put her hair up into a messy bun and made her way downstairs. She ate a bowl of cereal and finished up her geometry homework before heading out the front door.

School was a complete bore, as usual but she managed to make it through her final period without having to get attitude from the kid she had to sit next to.

After class she spent time at her own house, watching re-runs of Friday Night Lights and eating far too many chips. She managed a nap at one point too before getting a call from Lexi.


"Aren't you cheery?" Lexi said with sarcasm.

"Aren't you at work?"

"Joey's out back, what's he gonna do? Anyway, I called you to talk to you about something very important."

"All right, shoot."

"You remember that guy who came in yesterday to apply?" she asked.

"Uh, yeah. Why?"

"Well, he came in again today, asking for you. Joey apparently called him and said he got the job and he's coming in in a few weeks for training."

"Okay. And…?"

"Girl, I told you already. The next guy who shows interest in you, you are jumping."

"Not really. You said the next guy who asks me out and that I would say yes, not jump them." Natalie replied before getting herself a glass of water.

"Same difference. Besides, when he asked for you he said 'where's the pretty girl I talked to yesterday?'" Natalie could tell that Lexi was smirking.

"If and when he asks me out, I'll say yes. Happy?" Natalie asked.

"Very. I'll see you tomorrow after work. I want to hang with you."

"Okay. See ya then." Natalie replied before hanging up.

Natalie rolled her eyes before closing her eyes again and throwing herself on the couch. She could not handle much more of this 'Lazy Monday'.

Natalie awoke to her mother wishing her a good morning. Apparently she had to get off her ass for another boring day of school.

Once she was ready she made it to the bus stop before it peeled away down the street. She was going to art honor society after school and couldn't wait to be around some of her other friends. She went for photography while most of the others were there for actual art classes. Photo just happened to fall under the same category.

"Hey Nat," Evie, a girl from her English class called from down the hall. Natalie met up with her with a smile.

"Evie, what's up?" she asked as the girl embraced her in a hug.

"I was wondering if you were actually going to show up to honor society this week. We've missed you."

Natalie had missed two weeks straight since she had to tutor a fellow student in Biology and Joey put her on for a day she specifically asked to have off. "Yeah, I know. I promise I'm coming today. Joey's just a bit of an asshole and you know Frey and his inability to comprehend ecology."

"All right, well I'll see you in English. I'll have plenty to say to Bill Frey. How dare he steal you from us?" she laughed before walking away.

Just as she was about to make it into first period, Mickey Milkovich bumped into her, knocking all her books down. He seemed to do this to her at least once every month, laughing with his friends each time as he walked away. She wasn't a big fan of Mickey, but then again he wasn't the worst thing at Natalie's school, and that said a lot.

Ian was walking by at the time and helped her with her stuff. Sometimes Natalie wondered what she would do without Ian.

Natalie bounded through the doors of her photography teacher's classroom at the end of the day. She was actually happy to be able to make it to a meeting.

Her eccentric teacher, Ms. Barrow told the students to work on their projects during this meeting, and write their names down if they were interested in working to put together the school's homecoming unit. They usually made the decorations and float for the homecoming game. This year, they were doing separate models for a special theme that was to be picked by the juniors, since it was their prom. It was either to be modeled after popular musicians or places around the world. Either way, Natalie was on board. She would be glad to do it, even though her primary job would most likely be painting since she was only in the club for photography.

"Hey, someone's at the door looking at you." a freshman girl, Raven, whispered to Evie.

Evie turned to the door and saw Paul beckoning her to him. She rolled her eyes and stood. Paul and Evie were a popular on and off couple at the school, and often times Evie would insist she would never get together with him again but low and behold, they would always go back to one another. Natalie chuckled silently to herself, knowing that Evie would have a lot to say when she sat back down.

"He is by far the most repulsive, incompetent, selfish pig I have ever dealt with in my life." Evie said before angrily spreading her brush in red paint and throwing it across the pallet.

Natalie shook her head, "What happened this time?"

"He expects me to actually go with him and his friends to the city on Friday."

"Was that a previous plan of yours?"

"Yeah, but with the split I wasn't planning on going."

Natalie nodded, "I guess. But you and I both know that soon you'll be back at each other's necks soon enough. And not in the 'I'm going to kill you way'."

Evie slapped Natalie upside the head, "Fuck off."

By the time Natalie left school she was happy to get to work. She only had a couple of hours to work since Lexi and her made plans. Besides most of the customers were teenagers and a large amount of them would either be out for practice today.

Lexi and Natalie spent a lot of time trying to shoot M&M's into each other's mouths and failed a majority of the time.

Joey sprang out the back room at about six-thirty ready to clear out Natalie's drawer and leave Lexi's open for himself. "I'm gonna need to bring a register in from the back soon," he said as he finished counting Natalie's drawer.

Lexi smiled mischievously, "That's right, you will." Natalie rolled her eyes at her before picking up her stuff.

"We ready?" she asked. Lexi nodded and they both waved goodbye to Joey who just put a hand up, obviously quite bothered that he didn't have time off.

Lexi and Natalie walked off to her house, walking in the direction towards Kash & Grab. Lexi decided they needed snacks for the night so the two walked right in.

Natalie walked over to Ian who was silently chuckling about something. "What's so funny, Gallagher?"

"Kash's wife just came in. It was interesting."

Ian looked down soon after. He seemed a bit stressed.

"You alright?" she asked quietly as Lexi went up front to pay. "You seemed a bit off today at school, didn't even wave goodbye after helping me, thanks by the way."

"No problem," he replied before sighing heavily and leading her towards the back ice room. Kash seemed a bit uneasy about this but he really didn't expect much to be happening. Lexi rolled her eyes at her friend, "I'll just wait for you outside!" she called to Natalie before paying.

"What's going on?" Natalie asked after Ian closed the door behind them.

"Lip knows."

Natalie closed her eyes and breathed out heavily, "What do you mean Lip knows?" she asked.

"He knows I'm gay."

Natalie's eyes opened wide at that. This was something she assumed Ian would be able to tell them when he was ready, not have them find out about.

"We were in our room and he brought up blowjobs and then all of a sudden he pulls out some magazine clippings. He found my stash."

"Ian!" she yelled. "You couldn't have hid it somewhere not in your room?"

"Where else should I have put it?" he yelled. "It's not like I'm going to put it with Debby and her dolls."

Natalie huffed in frustration. "Well, did you talk with him about it?"

"He left me alone. He went downstairs with Fiona who brought home some guy who saved her from Jimmy Clifton."

"Jimmy Clifton?" Natalie exclaimed.

"Back to the point," Ian continued. "He brought me to Karen's house to have her suck me off. It's like he isn't even acknowledging the fact that I can't be made to be like him."

"Ian," Natalie started, "you know he's not homophobic. He just…he's probably…annoyed that you didn't tell him earlier."

"You know I'm not ready to tell them. Why would it be easy to tell him?"

"Simple, he's family. No offense but the only reason I figured it out was because you were in my class when we started learning about sex. I mean, it's not hard to tell after that."

"If only it were that simple." Ian said. "I just don't get it."

"Don't worry about it. I'm sure it'll all blow over. It'll be fine. He won't be bringing you to Karen Jackson's house again, I promise you that." Natalie hugged Ian and kissed his cheek. "I've gotta go before Lexi kills me. She wants a "girl's night". Kill me now, right?"

Ian laughed at his friend before shoving her slightly. "I'll talk to you more tomorrow."

"I count on it!" she called before running towards the door. "See ya, Kash!"

"About time!" Lexi said dramatically. "I thought I'd have to make other plans."

"I was just having a talk with Ian, no big deal."

"Well we've got a couple of hours to kill. Do you want to grab some clothes and stay over my house for the night?"

"Sure. I just have to call in."

After calling her mother who was alright with the idea thanks to her having to work late, Natalie and Lexi walked to her house quickly to grab some clothes and her DVD of Grind. She had an enormous crush on Adam Brody, and doubted that Lexi would mind.

The two practically ran to make it to Lexi's house that was further than a few blocks away.

They watched the film and laughed at its ridiculous moments, pigging out all the while. These were the moments that Natalie loved; the simple stuff.

Natalie was having fun at work. She and Lexi were ganging up on Joey while he tried to maintain a serious conversation on the phone. Lexi laughed as Joey tried shushing them and even put his hand over her mouth.

Suddenly the fun was put on halt as Lip walked angrily through the front door. "Can I talk to you for a second?" he asked while glaring hard at Natalie.

She was beyond confused, "I can't. I'm working right now."

Lip looked at Joey and Lexi bickering, "You won't be missed." He pulled her hand and practically dragged her out the front door.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" she shouted as she pulled her arm back.

"How long have you known?"

"What?" she asked attempting to play dumb. Lip was smarter than that though.

"Kash and my brother! How could you keep this from me?" He was angry now, that was evident. He was shaking and glaring down at Natalie. She rolled her eyes in spite of his behavior.

"It's his decision. I have to respect his decision."

Lip scoffed, "How can you treat this like it's nothing? This is my brother. You do realize he is doing this with someone who happens to be married. With kids!"

"What do you want me to do? Tell everyone his secret and then get Kash arrested, in turn ruining both his and Ian's life? I can't do that. I would never do that. He's my best friend!" she screamed. Suddenly realizing the people that were walking about she sighed and reared her head back. "Look, I don't want to talk all this shit." She looked back up at him, "This is about Ian, alright? Not you, not me. He didn't want to tell any of you until he was ready. Be honest, do you think he'd want you to find out the way you did?" Lip looked away from her at that point. "I've talked to him about it and he knows how I view his relationship but at the end of the day, it's always going to be his choice."

She walked back towards the door to Scoops. "Go easy on him. Tell him how you feel, but know that he needs you."

Lip nodded. "Oh, and by the way," Natalie said before closing the door. "Don't bring him to Karen's again, you ass."

Ian had called Natalie over the next day. He told her what happened when he got back from work the day before, pissing Natalie off in the process since she had had her talk with Lip, believing he wouldn't go against what she said.

She tried to comfort him from the backseat of the van but Ian was agitated. He didn't want to hear it.

Just as she lay her head back in frustration, the front door opened to the passenger seat. "How can that be good for you?" It was Lip.

"Or, or that?" he began to chuckle, so Natalie sat back up. "How can that be good for you?" He held Ian's magazine collection in hand.

Ian snatched it back, "You know what's not funny? You, ever," he took a drag from his cigarette. Lip took it from him and looked back to see Natalie. He nodded at her, non-committedly.

The car became silent. Natalie put her head down on the seat in front of her, staring between the boys.

"Anybody before Kash?" Lip asked.

"One," Ian replied.

"Yeah. Who?" Lip asked as he took another drag from Ian's cigarette and moved his position to look directly at his brother.

"I'm not telling you, alright?"

"Name, a single time I've let you down."

Ian sighed silently before turning to Natalie who nodded encouragingly. "It was a kid at school. Anyway I guess it doesn't really matter cause he's long gone now. But uh, Roger Spikey."

Lip looked back to Natalie who nodded excitedly with a look that told him she was urging to laugh.

"Roger Spikey?" Lip asked with a laugh. "'Donkey-dick' Roger Spikey? The original 'beefmeister'? Did you start that rumor?"

"Not a rumor." Ian smiled.

"That's a bit gay." Lip replied. "What you just did there with your eyebrows. You want to watch that?"

"Fuck off." Ian laughed.

"And you knew the whole time?" Lip asked Natalie.

"Oh yeah, and I've heard plenty of his stories. Sometimes without me even asking," Natalie gave Ian a look to which he laughed.

"But seriously though," Lip said, "like up the ass? Do you get used to that? Can you get used to that? I mean, the whole point of the digestive system is one-way traffic. It just is."

Natalie's face scrunched up before she broke out in a grin. "You do realize what you just said, right?"

"Yeah," Ian agreed, "like we're only given our lungs to smoke, right?"

Lip and Ian laughed as Natalie shook her head at the exchange. "You two are so strange. All it takes to get you back to talking is a discussion over body systems."

"You missed us though, huh?" Lip said before putting his face beside hers and making his eyes open extremely wide. Ian went on the other side of her face and did the same.

"If I say yes, will you stop?"

"Can't guarantee it," Ian said.

She rolled her eyes, "Yeah, I did."

So that's the first episode. I probably won't be writing chapters like that again since it's a shit load of shit to be putting together. Tell me what you think.