Story 05: On The Other Hand – Ohio Universe (Ella age 14)
At the end of a long week and the school portion of Friday behind her, Ella should have been far happier than she was on the bus ride home. Instead of talking with her friends she sort of just stared out the window, trying to digest the day.
To start with there had been Violet; Ella had gone to school to find her sister talking in a jovial manner with Paige Thompson, not a big deal and certainly nothing to take notice of. Unless one were to consider that Paige was one of the biggest bullies to ever live and had made her share of rude comments about her and Violet back before Joseph started teaching the school why no one should tease them. The girl was vain, petty, and mean, and up until that morning Violet would have nothing to do with her. Next thing she knows they are sharing a table at breakfast. It had mostly bothered Ella because she had always admired the way her sister gave no cares about what anyone else thought of her. She ignored any taunts and, being the prodigal child of the only married lesbian couple in their county, there were more than a few and no shortage of haters to pass them out.
Violet had been her guide on how to make it through high school without worrying about what others thought... Then she goes and makes friends with a professional bully.
And as if that hadn't been enough she had barely made it out of the cafeteria before she ran into Jayden and his flavor of the month girlfriend.
Once she and Jayden reached high school things changed dramatically for them, because even though Joseph would thrash anyone who said a negative word about her or Violet in or out of his hearing, it didn't stop all the bullying. He was handsome and talented with a football, so naturally all the other boys teased him for dating someone as unpopular and 'obviously a lesbian' as her. It hadn't really bothered her when he broke it off, maybe because their estrangement had been a gradual thing, yet when she turned the corner to see him all over some bimbo it stung.
Maybe it was because now that Violet had given in as well she just felt left out and a little worthless…
And if that wasn't bad enough at the end of the day she found Abby behind the school, smoking with the soon-to-be dropouts of McKinley High. At first she hadn't believed her eyes since the younger girl was still in middle school, but soon she realized that Abby had merely found this group while waiting for her parents to be done with their weekly principal visit.
Between Joseph and Caleb detention seemed standard and progress reports had to be given directly as any written assessments seemed to find themselves lost between the school and the Puckerman residence. An assessment that took long enough for her to go out and find people to smoke with and lose the scent before returning.
Abby had always seemed quiet, reserved, and diligent, she was polite to her mother, adoring of her father and seemed to hardly ever set a toe out of line. Which was all quite clearly an act.
The fact that the girl wasn't the angel she pretended to be didn't bother Ella so much as the fact that she hadn't seen it before. She had grown up with Abby and had somehow missed this side of someone she had known since she was in diapers. Just like Violet and Jayden, she thought she knew them, and then she didn't at all.
The bus finally stopped and she stepped off, listening to Violet ramble on about something she learned recently that was far too advanced for Ella to even pretend to know what she was talking about.
Once inside, Ella quietly did her homework with Violet, for all of the three minutes it took her to blaze through what she hadn't already finished. Ella considered asking her about Paige but at the last moment decided not to. If she had given in to the peer pressure to conform, Ella had no desire to call her out on it and make her feel any worse than she inevitably did. Honestly, she was a little glad Violet had been accepted so easily - she could use a social break. Not only did all the popular kids hate her, all the kids in her classes did too since she screwed up the grading curve.
Ella had barely finished her work when Aurora came running through the door, having just returned from school, followed by her parents and the twins who were fast asleep in their mothers' arms. In light of that, they all quietly greeted each other before her younger sister bounded to her side, eager to unpack her bookbag and spread her homework out in preparation for the assistance she always assumed Ella would give her.
"What's the rush?" Ella laughed.
"I wanna go outside and play, but momma said I can't 'til I finished my homework since I forgot all weekend last time," Aurora replied in a rush of breath as she pushed her math book closer to her sister.
Looking over all she still had left to do, she looked over to their older sister, "I'm a little busy, squirt, maybe Violet can help?"
Aurora shook her head, "No, Violet's too smart."
"I- I don't know if I'm insulted by that or not."
"Me either," Violet said from her spot on the couch.
"Your answers are more harder to understand than the question. Besides, my teachers always know when you helped."
Ella held back a laugh while Violet seemed to battle between correcting her sister's sentence and showing indignation at the accusation.
"She is right, Vi, you long ago lost the ability to dumb down answers," Ella offered kindly, thinking back on her own misadventures in getting her sister to help.
Having two siblings confirm that seemed to worry her, "I can do better," she said, leaping from the couch and to the book on the floor, practically snatching it from Ella's grasp. "What's your assignment?"
"Page two twelve," Aurora replied, looking apprehensively to Ella who could only offer a shrug in return.
She knew Violet took the news that she was too smart for grade school as an insult and a challenge more than a compliment.
The blonde opened to the correct page and skimmed it, "You know, there is a formula you can use to give you the right answer in, like, three steps for all of these-"
"Ella!" Aurora pleaded, "She's gonna put letters in my math again! I'm gonna fail!"
Violet looked scandalized, "They're variables and it isn't exactly advanced."
Ella sighed, "For someone who just learned their multiplication tables it is. How about you let me handle this one, huh?" she asked, knowing it was literally driving her sister crazy that she couldn't be of some assistance.
Grudgingly Violet handed the book back and Ella began to explain the process of long division. She wasn't surprised that her oldest sister stuck around to see in what way her tutelage was lacking. It wasn't long before Santana and Brittany returned from putting the twins down for a nap, and upon seeing Violet and Aurora crowded around Ella for an elementary math lesson Santana looked on them with confusion. But then her mom looked to her momma in that way that let them speak without speaking and they left without a word.
After Aurora's homework was done she oddly had to spend several more minutes coaching Violet on how to simplify her answers before returning to her own work. By the time she was done it was time to eat dinner, but then her phone rang.
She answered it without looking, expecting to hear the familiar background noise of the Puckerman household, but instead the line was mostly silent except for soft breathing.
"Ella?" came a nervous voice. A familiar nervous voice.
"Oh! You sound like your momma," he laughed, but it was kind of choked and weird.
She decided he had said that due to whatever had him acting so oddly, because she was sure she sounded nothing like Santana, "Okay…"
"Uh," and now he sounded more nervous, "Hey, so uh, my dad, he has me going to this lame party thing for his job and I was wondering if you would go with me?"
Ella stared evenly at the space in front of her, glaring into the air as she tried to comprehend his offer. She could hear Violet and Aurora chiming for her to come to the table and knew if either of her parents caught her trying to skip a family meal to talk on the phone there would be words.
"What kind of party thing?"
"They're celebrating all his years at the company or whatever, but there'll be dancing and punch and stuff, so it'll be fun, well, with someone else there," he chuckled.
And all of a sudden her spider senses were tingling, "Are you asking me out on a date?"
"What?" he blustered before coughing and clearing his throat, "No…" There was a long pause on the line, "Yes."
Violet called for her again and she could feel the countdown before someone came looking for her, she didn't really have the time to let him down gently, but she didn't want to be rude either.
"Um, I'll have to check with my moms," she said, deciding that was her absolute best option.
"O-okay," he said and the relief in his voice made her feel a little bad about the no she had planned for the future.
"Alright, bye," she said quickly before hanging up and rushing to the table and purposefully not thinking about the conversation.
After dinner Brittany and Santana had left to sit on the swing in the yard, and oddly Ella felt drawn to go there as well. She had re-evaluated the situation with a fresh mind and was trying to work out how she felt, not just about him, but about everything that had happened that day. When it was hard for her to pin down her exact feelings her mothers had a way of seeing what they were before she did. Which was why she took it upon herself to join them even though if there was one thing she hated doing it was to interrupt her parents during their private time. For some reason whenever they were alone together it made her happy, remnants from a time where she worried if her momma had found someone else to love, she was sure, but that need took a back seat to her need for company.
Seeing her approach, her mom lifted her legs out of the way to allow her to sit. She was currently laying across Santana's lap and they looked to simply be enjoying the night. Once her daughter sat down Brittany swung her legs in Ella's lap and seemed to only be more comfortable for it.
"What's up, doc?" her mom asked with a smile.
"Is it just me or do things in life just change way too fast?"
Her momma laughed heartily, "All the time."
"It kind of sucks doesn't it? When everything is different for no reason? How does that even happen? How do things change overnight?"
"What has you thinking like this?" Brittany asked kindly.
"Nothing in particular," Ella said quickly.
"Oh, okay," she said in that airy way she had that let the girl know her mother was in no way fooled but was going to let it go.
Santana on the other hand seemed to want to press the issue; however, once again Brittany looked to her in that way and they seemed to have a brief, silent discussion before her momma huffed in defeat and rested her chin in her palm as she looked out over the yard. Her mom only smiled and played with Santana's hand until her wife begrudgingly smiled, too.
"Well, not all change is bad," Brittany said as if the exchange never happened, "Sometimes it's for the best."
"I know that," Ella said sadly, "But sometimes it's not, and it's so sudden you don't even have a chance to stop it. It makes you feel like your life is just passing by."
She could see Santana's need to press for the cause of that statement, but a few none verbal words from Brittany and she turned away once again.
"I wouldn't worry about that too much," her mom offered, "You're too young to have missed much. But sometimes life is like that, things are the same until they aren't all of a sudden. You'd be surprised what kind of things sneak up on you."
"Like holding your first child and then suddenly realizing you're teaching your fourth and fifth to speak," Santana sighed.
"But they don't happen to me," Ella huffed, "Everyone else gets to just wake up and change their minds about how to act."
Santana laughed again, "You think so? Because I remember when you loved to go outside and couldn't wait to get on a motocross bike and then one day you were too good for dirt."
Ella frowned, "That wasn't sudden."
It hadn't been at all, as a matter of fact she still liked motocross and the outdoors… from a distance. Mud ruined her clothes and since she had to save up for nice things it hardly seemed logical to go trudging through the woods and motocross made her hair a mess of tangles and mud. It was just too much hassle to deal with.
"You say that, but to me it seemed like I woke up and you were all dresses and hair bows."
Her mom nodded in confirmation, "And all of you seem to just grow when I'm not looking."
Santana scowled, "Violet's going to be taller than me soon."
"I like you just the height you are," Brittany offered sweetly and she was back to smiling just like that.
"Momma, do you think Bradley is a toolbag?" Ella asked suddenly, wondering if she shared the same opinion of her friend as she had of her boyfriend.
"Why?" she asked, alarmed, but once again Brittany told her something no one could hear but the woman she was speaking to. After a moment Santana calmed a little and answered, "Not entirely."
"He wants me to go with him to a party for his dad," she said casually, hoping it wouldn't send her momma into a frenzy like every time she had ever mentioned going somewhere with Jayden.
However, it was Brittany who responded first, "You agreed to go?"
"I said I'd ask you first," she said, actually hoping for a no, so she wouldn't have to lie and say they wouldn't let her go.
"I think Bradley's nice, and if his father's going to be there it's alright with me."
Ella looked to her momma for some sort of out, but the dark-haired woman was staring intently out at the yard again, "Sounds fine," she mumbled.
She suspected the forced complacency came from another quiet exchange, but either way her hopes for an easy escape were dashed.
"I'll let him know then…" she said slowly in the hopes they would change their minds, but they didn't.
The quiet of the night returned and Ella slipped from under her mom to stretch and walk back towards the house. She said a brief goodbye and as she walked away it made her smile to know that as she left they were talking in that soundless way they had, and that she knew it without even looking at them.
Back in the house, she headed for her room to find Violet seated between their bunk and Aurora's twin sized bed, reading their sister's math book.
"You cannot still be on that," Ella said with a roll of her eyes.
"It doesn't make any sense, I used to be able to pass for average," Violet said as if she had just discovered she had a tail no one had told her she'd grown.
"It's not a big deal, you're smart, just be you," Ella replied, hoping her words reached more than one level.
"I know I'm smart," her sister scoffed as if to insinuate otherwise was indeed proof of idiocy, "But I mean I used to be able to explain things simply, y'know."
"Yeah," and she did, she remembered the days when asking Violet for help on homework wasn't a chore in and of itself to try and understand the help she was offering. "But when you go to college you won't need to explain the basics to anyone, everyone will already know their times tables."
Violet didn't seem at all comforted and only chewed her nails as she continued to read, "Were these books always so woefully uninformative? How can you spend a whole year teaching this material?"
"Not everyone is as smart as you, Vi," Ella said suddenly a bit tired as she climbed into the bottom bunk to continue watching her sister from a more comfortable vantage point.
"Hmm," she replied as if she didn't actually believe that.
"Hey, Violet?" Ella said timidly, unable to let go of what she had seen earlier.
"Yeah?" the answer was absent and over the shoulder, Ella hoped her attention would stay split so as to make the conversation easier.
"Why were you hanging out with Paige this morning?"
"Just making friends."
"I saw that, but… with Paige?"
"She's a bitch, I know."
"You said a bad word!" Aurora announced as she came in the room, and upon seeing her math book in her sister's hands promptly turned around and rushed back out of the room.
Violet seemed almost devastated, "I am the worst sister ever."
"What's up with you?" Ella asked sitting up.
Violet leaned back against the bed Ella was perched on, "Nothing," she sighed.
"Does-" she stopped, because she had already decided not to question the issue further, but in light of recent events she felt she had to ask, "Does all this have something to do with why you're friends with Paige all of a sudden?"
"A little, I mean it's not like we're actually friends, it's more like we're pretending. I offered to do a few of her assignments and then all of a sudden she was more than happy to let me join her stupid clique."
"Well, if you hate her so much why even try? Have her idiot friends been giving you a hard time?"
The room fell silent while Violet gnawed on her nails.
"Yeah," she answered quietly.
Ella almost launched off the bed to her sister's side, "If they are that bad, then tell mom or momma, and if you don't want to get teachers involved then at least tell Joseph."
"No, Ella, that's exactly it. This whole time we've been relying on Joseph and Caleb to keep bullies away and it isn't fair."
Looking at the blonde before her, Ella was distressed to discover that she didn't know where any of this was coming from. Violet tended to be a bit of an enigma to most people who knew her, but Ella had always worked hard to know her better. At the moment she felt like a total outsider to her sister's distress.
"So you want to stand up for yourself?" she asked, knowing that couldn't be the case, if the response was to befriend on of their lead tormentors.
"I just want them all to stop," Violet replied and the heavy silence that followed was one that Ella recognized. Her sister wanted the conversation to be over, but she couldn't leave it as it was.
"I understand that, but being her fake friend won't stop her from being an ass."
Abruptly Violet stood and placed Aurora's book back in her bookbag, "Maybe not, but I have to try. I have to try something," and with that she left the room.
Watching her go, Ella felt that same sensation of spiraling uneasiness that made her panic a little, because it was a feeling she associated with the shock of finding Ms. Novak in her home all over her momma. It was an unsettling feeling, and though her worries over that affair were long gone her fear of that feeling hadn't gone anywhere. The feeling that things were changing in some unforeseen way that could destroy everything she knew to be true.
She told herself that it was an overreaction, that it was indeed reasonable for Violet to want some peace at school. Yet it was something so unlike her to do Ella couldn't help but worry over what else her sister might agree to in the name of avoiding ridicule.
By the time the weekend had passed and she finally arrived at school again Ella felt more or less normal. Even when Violet branched off from her side and went to greet Paige she only sighed internally. Instead of following as she usually did at breakfast she sat alone at a small table near the back of the cafeteria to watch the two 'friends' laugh together.
With a sigh she decided to just accept it as it was, she knew that despite everything Violet's social awkwardness sometimes got to her, but it had never been this bad. If she had finally found a way to blend in with the witless idiots that floated around the school then so be it, they would always be family and that was all that mattered.
That's what she told herself, though she was still incredibly worried. Because Violet seemed depressed and defeated, and that was incredibly unusual for her. If this was a plan she had enacted with her usual spunk then maybe it would truly be alright, but as it was…
Ella turned and blinked for a few seconds before she had realized she had been joined at the table by Bradley.
She had completely forgotten about him.
"Hi," she returned, feeling more than a little bad she had wiped his offer from her mind.
"I got you this," he said, offering her a silver necklace.
She was no expert on such things, but it looked expensive, too expensive to give a girl that hadn't said yes to anything. It also made letting him down that much harder. Especially when she accepted the gift, not really knowing how to shut him down with that hopeful look in his eyes.
"My dad's a jeweler," he said, which was silly, because she knew that, she knew both his parents quite well.
He was so nervous and she could see the question he wanted to ask hovering on his lips. There wasn't a lot of time to think, but here she was on the spot needing to figure out how not to sound as abrupt as Violet did most of the time. The seconds kept ticking by with her mouth hanging open in indecision.
"Yeah, uh, about the thing your dad's having, um, I can't go," she said, putting all the sorrow she felt into it. He looked like someone punched him in the heart and Ella was more than aware that she kind of had. Sadly, she handed him back the necklace, "I'm sorry."
With an impressive show of resolve he merely smiled at her and held up his hands, "I meant to give it to you anyway. It's a present, for, y'know, thinking about it."
Almost reluctantly she accepted it but didn't put it on, because she hardly felt like she deserved it, even by his flimsy standards. Quietly she slipped it into her coat pocket feeling like a genuinely bad person for the first time in a long time.
"Hey, I gotta go to the band room before school starts, so…" he said quickly before standing abruptly and vanishing from the room.
Ella turned back to her food, feeling worse than ever, and when she looked up she found she had caught Violet staring at her and then that whole debacle was fresh in her mind. Her sister was giving Ella her pensive stare that usually meant she had spotted something that no one else had.
It didn't matter, the bell rang and she couldn't have been happier to go to class and be lost under torrents of mindless work.
By midday she had more homework than she ever thought possible and a ton of reasons to skip P.E. and do it, but she had never skipped a class and began to suspect she never would. Happy to dwell on upcoming work, she failed to watch where she was going so when she turned from her locker after dropping off a few books she ran into someone who was standing unnecessarily close. When she tumbled to the floor the necklace flew out of her pocket and was picked up casually by a familiar, slender hand.
"Vi?" Ella questioned looking up at her sister who held the necklace in one hand and extended the other to help her up.
"Brad gave you this?"
"Yeah, so?" she grumbled and tried to snatch it back, but Violet held it out of reach.
"He was trying to ask you out?"
Was this what those discerning eyes had observed? Because it wouldn't have taken all that staring to figure it out. There was no need for her to pry silently or otherwise, because she already felt bad enough.
"I doesn't matter."
Violet observed her for a moment and handed the bracelet back, "Well, with him walking around like someone shot his dog I guess I already know he did and that you turned him down."
"So!" she snapped, because her sister was making her feel unbelievably bad.
"Why did you say no?"
"I have to get to class, we can talk about this later-"
"Not really, you kind of need to make up your mind about him fast. I'll tell you I think he's a nice guy and at this school that's like saying he's an earthbound unicorn."
"You mean a horse?"
"Yeah, but at a school… and with, like, a horn," she said and Ella could already see her imagination going off with it.
"Uh-huh," once more she tried to move from her locker, but Violet held her back.
"He really loves you a lot and all I'm asking is why is it so bad for you to give him a chance?"
"Why do you care?!" Ella snapped, getting the attention of nearby students.
"Because he told Aubry that he'd never been with a girl and Paige's weird little friend Melany shares seventh period with him and she thinks he's cute and that it would be fun to deflower him," Violet rattled off casually, "He'll follow her around for the rest of our high school career and beyond because we both know that's the kind of guy he is. And it'll be sad, because she'll break his heart over and over. I just wanted you to be sure you didn't actually want to let him even try to impress you before you sent him off into the arms of that wench."
"He wouldn't sleep with one of Paige's friends," and she had absolutely no clue as to why that was her comeback.
"He's a teenage boy with a broken heart, by high school standards he's earned it. Anyhow if you're sure you got it all figured then," Violet handed the necklace back to her, "keep the bling and leave the boy."
Ella took it back with a shaking hand, not understanding why she cared about anything Violet had said, "Well, since we're sharing intel, I want to let you know that your sister thinks you're an idiot for even hanging out with Paige in the first place!" she snapped, knowing it was in no way the right response.
Violet's face fell into confusion, "Aurora?"
"No, me!" Ella yelled in exasperation before marching away and not giving her a chance to respond.
After her having what was essentially her first public fight with Violet, all she could really think about was Bradley. She attributed that to the fact that he sat in front of her in their literature class, but regardless the only thing dancing through her head was that Aubry was lurking in the shadows, willing for him climb into her diseased bed. Her momma had warned her about the dangers of playing around with sex and feelings and it was a little worrying to know he was going to fall for the same trap.
But she had never really thought of him as more than a friend. Bradley had always sort of been there for her, excluding of course the times he had teased her mercilessly when they were kids. He wanted to be her boyfriend and she knew it. She knew how unpopular that would make him and that it would only compound how much he was already teased, yet he still wanted to date her.
That was rather big of him she supposed.
It was more than Jayden had offered.
She didn't realize until halfway through the lesson that she had put his necklace on, and by the end she wasn't even surprised at herself when she stopped him in the hallway.
He still looked downtrodden and lost, but his face did brighten when he saw the sliver of silver she had attempted to hide under her collar.
"Hey, Bradley, about your dad's party," it was almost funny to watch him, because he was fighting so hard not to get his hopes up, "Um, I actually think I will go with you, if the offer's still open."
Bradley was nodding before words could even escape him, "Yeah, of course! My dad has a limo we can go in and everything!"
She couldn't help but smile at his enthusiasm, and, alright, a little of her own happiness. At least this could be simple. Maybe it wouldn't develop into anything and maybe she could never see him as more than a friend, but saying yes to his offer hadn't left her feeling miserable and it wasn't a lead on since she genuinely wanted to go and give him a chance.
Bradley walked next to her in the hall, looking like he desperately wanted to hold her hand, but she didn't, best not let him get too far ahead of himself. This was barely a date after all. She thought that until she saw Violet at the end of the hall, her eyes sparkling in that way they did when she was laughing at some joke only she knew.
On the one hand she was irritated at whatever it was that had her sister so amused, but on the other she was happy she hadn't taken their little spat to heart.
Determined to ignore her, she turned her attention back to Bradley, "By the way, you might want avoid Melany, she's kind of horrible."
He nodded, "Okay," and then he paused, as if to question anything might make her retract her acceptance, "Who's Melany?"
"The girl in your seventh period class, she's friends with Paige."
"There's aren't any Melanys in my last class… but I'll look out anyway. Sure to be at least one in this school, right?" he laughed.
Her eyes went back to Violet's.
Those blue eyes were practically guffawing.
I hate Violet sometimes.
Reluctantly she had to admit she never really hated her, and even though she was sometimes angry with her, sister now wasn't one of those times.
On the return ride home Ella said nothing to Violet even though it was obvious she was still tickled to death by her ridiculous, little trick.
Even on the walk back to the house from the bus stop they were silent, though Violet had actually taken up giggling slightly. Ella was a few amused trills from breaking that silence, but both of them halted in their tracks at the sight of what awaited them at the door.
There sat Quinn in a folding chair, looking like she had woken on the wrong side of the bed in the wrong house with Abby standing next to her wearing the proverbial cat-that-ate-the-canary expression. The girls approached cautiously, knowing that anyone who put a toe out of line when aunt Quinn had that face on was not likely to see the light of day again.
Once they were close the older woman's hazel eyes scanned them harshly before they snapped to Abby, "Violet and Ella are here, so go ahead and practice what I told you to say."
The youngest Puckerman looked horrified, "But, mom, I-"
It only look a look for Abby to turn towards them, her face red hot, "I was caught smoking at home yesterday and my parents realize now that it was I who left the cigarette butt on the porch last time I was here, so aunt B you shouldn't blame auntie Tana, 'cause it wasn't her."
Violet gave Ella a worried sidelong glance. No one knew how to react, the wrong move and they could both easily end up in just as much trouble with Quinn as pissed as she was.
"You won't do it again, right?" Violet asked.
Abby nodded, her face becoming even redder, "No."
"Promise," she muttered in that muted, shy way that reminded Ella offhandedly of Bradley.
They both nodded a farewell and almost fearfully slipped into their house. Once inside, Ella breathed a sigh of relief and both waited until they were well out of earshot of the door to comment.
"She must really be mad, no one else is coming home for another hour or so," Ella said quietly, knowing her aunt's hearing was superhuman.
"I think it's part of the punishment, standing out in the sun until they come home," Violet replied as she unpacked her bookbag.
Ella gave the door another glance as if she could see the poor girl on the other side of it feeling even better, not because Abby was in trouble. An angry Quinn wasn't something she would wish on anyone, but she was glad that her parents weren't oblivious to her. Whether she actually stopped smoking or not was irrelevant, her parents weren't leaving her to do as she pleased. They weren't so caught up chasing around her brothers that she was left, forgotten to play the perfect daughter.
She remembered a time where she thought her momma may do just that, forget about her and give up trying to get to know her. And like with everything else to do with that time, she no longer held that fear, but she hadn't forgotten that feeling and would wish it on no one.
In fact, she'd rather have aunt Quinn be pissed at her all day every day than feel that way again.
Casually she sat down next to Violet and pulled out her homework but refused to start it until something had been cleared up, "Why did you lie?"
Her sister actually chuckled at the question, "Because I'm impatient. He is so infatuated with you and you obviously like him back. It's like one of those cheesy romance movies where the guy and the girl spend an hour and thirty minutes trying to pretend they aren't going to get together and then unsurprisingly they do."
"I do not obviously like him back!" Ella snapped, not even knowing if that was the point she wanted to argue.
"Yeah, you do, if you didn't you would have told him to back off a long time ago. I mean, that's why Jayden hated him. It wasn't because he was into you, it was because you liked him back. It was in your eyes," Violet added dramatically, batting her eyes.
"And maybe there is no Melany, but I'm sure there is someone like that waiting in the rafters, and I don't want to watch you guys go through the suck of hurting each other 'cause you're pretending not to care what the other does."
Ella raised a curious eyebrow, "Has that happened to you?"
"No, Joseph's had a rough time of it, but then again he is crazy pigheaded so it's inevitable."
Quiet filled the room for another moment before Ella said, "I'm sorry I yelled at you."
"It's cool," Violet answered casually.
"I just don't understand," she said, and the pleading tone in her voice must have convinced the other girl to open up.
"I'm not trying to get Paige and her losers to back off me for me. I'm doing it for this whole family," Ella tried not to look skeptical but clearly failed as Violet sighed heavily. "Look, Joseph is in detention so much he doesn't even sign out anymore. Caleb is well on his way to being thought of as another Puckerman hooligan and it's all in defense of us, or to be more accurate in defense of me, because we both know I'm the school's focal point. It's even worse when you consider that Caleb hates fighting, and hates getting in trouble more, but we both know he won't let anyone get away with bullying us. I mean those two are in trouble so much aunt Quinn is running out of punishments for them, they have almost singlehandedly fixed every broken pipe and tile in both our houses since she had to resort to chores. And that's on top of detention, whatever muscle melting punishment uncle Puck has them do and being grounded."
Put that way suddenly she felt like she could put in more of an effort to be nice to Paige.
"But it won't stop anything."
"It won't stop everyone everywhere, but I do nothing but antagonize Paige and her cronies, I call it on us and it's time I stopped."
"Then stop! You don't have to join her little camp!"
Violet only smiled, "Can you trust me? I got this big sister thing down. Other people might tease you and Joseph will probably get suspended or something over it, but the biggest asses in the school are off our case for now. And if it keeps Joseph out of detention for only a day or saves you an afternoon of hearing her cronies calling you names then it was worth it. It won't last forever, but it works for now."
"But you look so sad."
She laughed loudly, "Have you ever had a conversation with her? It is actually painful."
"You don't have to do it, you know."
Her smile slipped into a smirk, and she pulled Ella close to ruffle her hair, "I know, and I do it anyway."
"Why wouldn't you just tell me this in the first place?" she asked, pulling herself from her sister's grip.
Looking affronted her sister answered, "What kind of cool girl would I be if I went around blabbing all the awesome stuff I was going to do? Besides, you worry a lot about everything, and it seemed like you already had a lot on your mind."
She had in actuality, and though Violet's odd friendship with Paige turned into one of them she was infinitely happy that her sister knew her so well even if she couldn't read Violet with that level of expertise in return.
When their parents came home the twins were awake and making a ruckus, burying their mothers' words, though Ella still understood that they were being greeted and that Santana was gloating over her newly-proven innocence.
Aurora slid between them with her homework, and, upon seeing Violet, tried to hide it, but Ella promised to stay nearby and keep their oldest sister on the layman path.
It was a weekday, she had to had a mountain of homework, most of which wasn't hers, she had a date with a friend she was pretty sure she wasn't crushing on, not to mention her sister had made a deal with the teenaged devil.
Yet still, as she explained to Violet that the word 'coefficient' wasn't lay enough for their sister she found that she was quite happy. Especially about the necklace around her neck.
That made her think that maybe her older sister wasn't as out of touch with reality as she sometimes seemed.
Abby could go back to smoking, and Violet could get humiliated by Paige, having failed her mission after a week, and Bradley could end up with a broken heart from her attempt to see if friendship was the limit.
On the other hand maybe not.