Several months of dating after their reconciliation, Tino, Jordan and Angela are out at a house party. The boys are drinking, Angela is not. When Tino meets up with a girl and disappears for some time, Jordan settles in with Angela, and drinking his beers works to arrange her fingers into chords for a guitar, caressing her finger tips as he does.

Past the point when the relationship is new and they're figuring out how to be with one another, Angela and Jordan have reached a place where there is a level comfort between them. And though Jordan isn't the most affectionate while in the view of public eyes, drinking, and the hour growing later, help allay this, and as they sit and talk, hanging with the others and listening to music, from time to time Jordan subtly nuzzles his face in her hair, whispering something to make her laugh or nibbling at her ear. Sometimes he moves in just to heel the second-nature move her head makes in his direction. She can be carrying on a completely separate conversation, but when he moves in to her, her body reciprocates, without her even being aware. He loves that. At least he does when he can get outside his own head and get over the part in him that's still programmed to stay shut off, to walk away, to play it cool, and not get caught up. Or tied down.

At 11:25, Angela silently turns her wrist towards Jordan to show him the time. Head tilted to the side, he looks at her for several beats. He does not want to take her home, he hates that curfews come upon you so fast, he resents having to live by the rules of someone s completely disconnected from him as the Chases. But in the end there is no recourse. He looks at that great face, into those green-blue eyes, and once again resigns himself to the realities that constrain them.

In wordless acquiesce Jordan rises and pulls her after him. Leading her by the hand he moves easily through the house to locate Tino. Finding him in the garage he gives him a single head nod as indication that it's time they head out. Tino pounds the drink in his hand, salutes goodnight to the people he's with and in moments is in step with Jordan and Angela, heading to the street to his car.

As they move down the front walkway, Tino stops and digs through his pockets. Lighting a cigarette, he mumbles over the obstruction in his mouth. "Okay Chase, you're up."

Taken aback, she stops and looks round warily. "What does that mean?"

Tino audaciously swings his keys round his forefinger. "It means you're driving."

Angela's eyes widen, "Nooo..."

Unaccustomed to being contradicted, particularly in such a benign context as this, Tino's head snaps to her direction in incredulity. "Really?"

"I've never driven at night." For Angela the idea of driving is a thrill she's been anticipating for years, the reality of it still intimidates her greatly.

Tino stifles a snort of laughter by taking another drag off his cigarette. Smiling with harmless condescension he takes a step forward, "Well, I tell you what: it's just like driving during the day — green is still go, red is still stop, and the gas and brake are still exactly that."

"But I can't see at night."

Tino looks first back at Jordan for an audience to this, as he sees it, humorous exchange, then back to Angela and her earnestness. His brows arch, "You go blind at night?" He smirls. "You need to see a doctor?"

"No…" Angela's eyes roll and she tucks her hair. She's wishing herself out of this circumstance as she does not want to have to do this, but nor does she want to have to say no. Telling two boys two years older than yourself you're afraid to drive, especially when you already feel you've snuck behind the velvet rope, is not the greatest feeling. It's made worse by the mocking.

Jordan, scratching his head and shifting his weight as he swings a dropped shoulder tunes in, and, sounding slightly bored with it all, eggs, "Angela, just drive."

"Jordan," she pleads her case reasonably, "I crashed your car the first time I drove it."

"Yeah; don't do that."

Tino laughs then moves in to her, and with mock paternalism he breaks it down. "See, what you do, is, you look at the road; you see something in the road, you go around it. Or you stop. That easy." Noting Angela's persisting unease, he stares her down, then turns his head in Jordan's direction. His tone changes and he's suddenly more abrupt; never one to linger Tino moves on. "Fine, don't worry about it; I'm an award winning under-the-influence-commuter." Giving his keys one last decided spin and a toss he palms them and strides quickly toward his vehicle. Angela, in turn, looks fretful.

From behind her Jordan reaches round her waist and pulls her in. He holds her in his arms, her warm body close to his, so close he can feel her breathe. He breathes in her hair, and enjoys the sense of how slight she is against him. Being drunk he doesn't mind being this open — wanting her this close. He just does it. He'd make out with her if he could. And anyway it's only Tino there with them to see. Tino had always been on her side. "What did you think was going to happen?"

Jordan's plainly worded question makes point. One that Tino, as he lights a cigarette and shakes out his match, easily adds onto. "You did see us drinking, right?"

As he's still behind her and she cannot see his face Angela nods. "Yeah—"

"So," Tino reasons, as if diplomatically warning a child of consequences, "either you were driving us home or we were."

"I don't have my license."

"We don't have our sobriety," Tino answers her back. Jordan, per usual, has excused himself from the conversation. He never knew someone who could talk as much as Tino or Angela. Rayanne Graff was louder. And maybe faster. But for keeping a conversation going, ten minutes longer than it ever needed to last, it was these two. Angela does it because she worries. And she speaks every little thing that she thinks. She doesn't filter. Tino likes to hear himself talk, and refuses to filter.

Mulling the situation over, Angela turns to them directly and interrogates, "What would you have done if I wasn't here?"

Impatient in general with hypotheticals and tired specifically of standing around in this front lawn, Jordan drops his head back in a mildly exasperated roll. "Drive. Or crash."

Angela shifts round to face him and her eyes widen that he would be so cavalier about a car crash but Tino runs right over her concern, dispassionately clarifying: "'Stay over.'" He continues, teasing her by way of laying on the guilt, "But, some people have curfews..."

Jordan continues on, pushing Tino towards the car, "And, the clock is ticking."

He has a point.

Groaning, Angela looks doubtfully at Tino's gold, 1971 Cadillac. "Do I know how to drive this car?"

Beside her, arms crossed, also looking at his car, Tino queries rhetorically, "Do you know how to drive a car?"

"Barely."

"It's barely a car." Jordan smirks, he couldn't resist.

In return for his jab, Tino slugs Jordan before dropping his keys in Angela's hand.

With the weight of the small keyring in her hand, on it the key to his house, the key to the locks he'd installed to party-proof the interior of said house, the key to his garage, the key to the loft and the master key to the grounds gates and storerooms at Liberty High, and most intimidating of all, the key to the waiting Cadillac, Angela groans again, steps forward and reluctantly unlocks the driver's side door and climbs into the driver's seat. "This is how after school specials start," she mutters.

Holding the door open for Jordan, who climbs into the back, then sliding into the passenger seat himself, Tino scoffs wryly, "Really dull ones where nothing happens and, 'Oh my God', all the kids make it home." He pulls the door shut after him, "God, I thought other people—" by this meaning Rayanne "—were drama queens."

All three skip past this reference to the now taboo, and when Angela finally starts the engine both boys mockingly cheer for her.

"Hate to tell ya this, Hamlet," Tino looks at her doubtfully, "but ya spent so long ruminating ya now got like, twelve — no, eleven — minutes to get home."

Angela stiffens, she doesn't have the words to panic, but her head flashes first in in Tino's then Jordan's direction. Jordan slaps her shoulders, "You got this," then settles back into the seat and shuts his eyes. Angela ruefully glances back at him through the rear view mirror, to which Tino taps insistently on the front windshield.

"Evel Knievel, let's try facing front." She checks her mirrors several times, then gingerly, pulls onto the road. Not holding out a lot of hope at this point, Tino side glances at her. "You have driven before? Catalano wasn't just making that up?"

Angela's fastened grip tightens around the steering wheel and her eyes never stray from straight ahead of her. Concentrating fiercely she wets her lips. "I have."

"Could you," his brow furrows, in possibly one of the few times Tino Mourlot's confidence has eve been shaken, "maybe, act like it?" Angela grimaces, grips the wheel even tighter, then steps harder on the gas.

Parked safely outside the Chase house, Jordan's still dozing in the rear — awake but eyes closed. Angela's turned off the ignition, but keeps her hands gripped to the wheel. "Now what?"

Tino reaches his arm around the back of her seat. "Now, you go inside and live to party—" he looks at her, and reconsiders in her case, "or not —" Angela makes a face "—another day."

Angela turns to both boys, "How are you getting home?"

Tino raises his hands, posturing innocence, "I'm fine."

"No, you're not."

"Relax," he slow-motion slugs at her chin, "I'm good."

"The drive home was fifteen minutes; if you couldn't drive then, you can't drive now."

"Girl Scout," Jordan chimes in from the backseat, his eyes still shut.

Tino grunts in amused agreement, and Angela rolls her eyes. "Ya know," he points out as a maneuveral tactic, "you're missing your curfew." She realizes this but that's going to have to wait; she looks Tino steadily in the eye, demanding that he channel his most responsible self. Tino gives in, who wouldn't in the face of all that youthful, dire earnestness? He smiles and shrugs breezily, "So we'll walk."

"You can't do that."

Tino arches a brow at her, then plays it up like he's really conflicted by what she's just said but that she's won him over. In turn he reluctantly, if dramatically, acquiesces, "Well... I don't know… but — okay." He leans in closer to Angela's now puzzled face. "You did just ask us to sleep over. Right? But I get to be in the middle." Still lying back, Jordan kicks at the back of Tino's seat. Tino chuckles. "Can't take it back now, girl," he laughs; "no one likes a tease."

Angela's learned it's best to ignore these moments and thus moving on, she entreats upon him in earnest, "You can't walk home and leave your car on the street."

Brows raised, Tino's eyes feign alarm as they patronizingly circle the suburban street in inspection, "There a crime spree I don't know about?"

Groggy and bored, Jordan extrapolates, "Her folks'll see the car and wonder why it's here, and how it got it here, and how they failed as parents, and 'how they can ever trust 'er again'."

Tino's looking in the rearview mirror as he listens to this rationalization, then, digesting it, he turns to her. "Ya know what, Chase? My mother loves me; yours just sounds crazy."

"Just—" Tino waits, eyes wide, mocking her in the anticipation of what she'll say; she hates that and deflates a little as she smiles in spite of herself "—Hang out; till you can drive."

Tino swallows, then reaches over to pull his keys from the ignition, catching her eye as he does so. Dryly he lets slip, "Terrific plan." Angela rolls her eyes, removes the keys from his hand, and leaves them with observable purpose on the dashboard. She then reaches behind her to the backseat and lightly double grasps Jordan's shin. He opens his eyes, takes the cue, shifts as he straightens up, and follows Angela as she exits the vehicle. Leaning back against the door, almost stumbling as it slams shut beneath his weight, Jordan grabs Angela, and pulls her to him. Wrapping her in his arms, one hand grasps her rear, the other is in her hair, holding her tighter as presses into her for a kiss. He's still self-possessed, but with the alcohol he's looser, and sloppier.

Partially, moments like this fill Angela with a rush; it feels grown up, she feels alive and knows he needs her. But is there something wrong, with feeling this, when he's… like this? His face buried in her hair, he bites on her ear, at her neck. She feels it everywhere. She wants his hands on her, but even as Angela holds him she is distracted, both by her impending curfew and Jordan's drunkenness. She pulls back.

Her lips tighten upon themselves; "I better get inside."

Jordan innocently raises both hands as if in a hold up, but pushes in hungrily for another kiss anyway. Once extricated, she smiles, tucks her hair, waves once to Tino, who is now stretched across the hood of his car and smoking another cigarette, then rushes to the house. Jordan's eyes follow her as she goes, and Jordan takes a drag from Tino's cigarette, leans back against the car, and watches as she slips into the house and shuts off the porch lights.


Posted 9/1/12