still there's not a show on my back
holes or a friendly intervention
I'm just a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish

a little bit tower of pisa
whenever I see ya
so please be kind
if I'm a mess

"Stay here," I told them both.

I ran downstairs and hoisted Fi off the couch, dragging her upstairs. "Have you seen Clu?"

"He came over with Carey. He's in the kitchen. What do you want? I was watching--"

I sprinted downstairs and grabbed him by the hand. When the five of us were gathered in my room, I turned the light on.

"As many of you already know, I've got a secret. So do the rest of you. This state of affairs has led certain parties to make some very interesting attempts to help everyone else. But I think we'd all be happier if these little interventions stopped, so don't you think we should just get everything out in the open and say everything that hasn't been said yet? Okay?" I didn't bother to wait for any signs of agreement, which was probably best, because there weren't any. "Fi, you've been moping around all week. What's wrong?"

She rolled her eyes. "You really thought making out with Carey would solve all my problems?"

"You made out with Carey?" Annie asked, almost gleeful at the prospect that one of the plots she helped hatch had worked.

"No!" Carey said quickly.

"Or Clu? I mean, no offense, you guys, but--"

"You made out with Clu?" I interrupted.

"That's not the point," she sighed.

"So what is it?"

"It has nothing to do with any of you! I've been waiting for a call or an e-mail about a job back home--I mean, back in Seattle. But, the person who was going to give me the job is probably not going to come through because he broke up with me right before I left, so I've basically been waiting for nothing."

"Oh." I paused. "I'm sorry. I just put two and two together and assumed--"

"I appreciate the effort. It was sweet."

"Annie?" I asked. I already knew her secret; it wouldn't pain her to reveal it.

"All right," she sighed dramatically. "I have a massive crush on Zach Stewart--yes, the magnet guy--and he hasn't called me back once since I've been home--I mean, back here. But I'm still hopeful! Conrad says--"

"I'm sure he'll call," Carey told her nicely. She giggled.

I turned on him. "And you? What's your secret?"

"I don't have a secret," he said nonchalantly, avoiding eye contact with anyone. Even Fi perked up with sudden interest.

Annie poked him. "You do too!" she accused.

He relented. "It's kind of one of those things where someone else has to agree to tell first, because it affects them too. And I don't have permission." He stared meaningfully at me. Maybe he was right. Maybe this wasn't the best way to announce such a personal revelation. Not until I had permission. I cleared my throat. "Okay, well, I just remembered, I'm supposed to--"

Carey helped me out. "Yeah, that's right, you said you would--"

"Go downstairs and--"

"Run an errand for--"

"So I'll see you guys later!" I finished, and fled from the room. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

"Hey, wait up," Carey called. "I'll go with you to do that, um, that thing."

He slung an arm casually but firmly around my shoulders and led me to the back porch. "Just one last time, okay?" He grinned at me and slid the door shut. I waited. The prospect of running toward the fence, climbing over it, getting into my car, and driving far, far away was looking better with every second that passed. I could just imagine Clu's reluctance to talk to me. I mean, could I blame him? Were I in his shoes, I'd be staying inside, too. The door slid open and he stumbled out clumsily, like he'd been pushed.

I blushed. "Hey, look, I'm sorry, I didn't know--"

He stared at me and kept his tone uncharacteristically even. "Well, I'm here now. What is it that hasn't been said yet?"

"I know it was stupid, what I said back then. I was just, you know, scared, of what you'd think of me, of what everyone would say. So I'm sorry."

A pause. "I guess it's good you got that off your chest, then."

"Yeah. Okay," I said quietly. I had been prepared for the worst. All this time, there had been a chance that he'd be majorly pissed off about the way I had treated him, and it looked like the worst-case scenario, as usual, was the one that was coming true. Oh well. It had been worth one last shot.

"God, could it have taken you any longer?" he asked.

And then his hand was on my neck and his lips were pressing against mine.

"What do you think, it just goes away?"

He kissed me again, more insistently this time.

"I won't pretend that I've been, like, totally, um faithful, or anything," he confessed after breaking contact, "because it's not like I've just been sitting around waiting for you to call. But I knew..."

And then there were questions. How could this end well? Even if we made it through the rest of the week, what would happen when it was time to go back to our respective homes? Would we tell everyone? Would we tell anyone? Which one of us would upend his life to join the other one, and would it be worth it?

I tried hard to clear my mind, to stop worrying and just enjoy the moment, what I'd been waiting for for four long years.

Then the answer became clear, vague and profound all at once: We would work it out.


Later we snuck upstairs. I came back down a few hours after he'd fallen asleep. We had decided secrecy wasn't worth the effort, so we would just act like it was no big deal, which was true, and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

In the dark kitchen, I poured myself a glass of milk and started thinking about how I wished I could figure Carey out, now. He had finally done exactly what I'd needed him to do, and I was so grateful for his interference. I wanted to help him now, to do for him what he'd done for me. But I had no idea who the source of his romantic angst could be. It wasn't Fi. It apparently wasn't Annie, either. It wasn't me, and it wasn't Clu--or at least, I hoped it wasn't. Perhaps, like Fi and Annie, he'd actually ventured out into the world and found a prospective mate. In that case, I couldn't help him at all.

I finished my milk and rinsed out the glass, glancing out the window by chance. A familiar car sat in the driveway. Hm. I supposed Carey had ridden home with his parents and left Clu his car to drive home. Clu stirred when I carefully climbed back into bed, mumbling something about tubing and outsiders. "Hey," I whispered. "Are you awake?"

His eyes were closed. "No."

"I have a question."

"Go for it, dude."

"Is Carey seeing some girl in town now?"

"Um, I'm not at liberty to say," he yawned, and found a clever way to distract me from that line of questioning.

But later, I got to thinking. Did he ever leave this house? He was there every morning and every night, it seemed. What would happen when Fiona and I left again?

And that song he'd played

Could it be?

No. No, of course not. And if it was, he was on his own. But it couldn't be. I was certain of it.

I decided to mind my own business, and sighed contentedly with the self-assurance of someone who has finally gotten what he wanted, as shaky and uncertain as the future might have been.

Who would have thought I'd ever get a happy ending?