Author's Note: Real quick, this won't become a regular occurrence, however, I need to inform everyone that in this story Sofia is 16 and James is 17, thus making Amber 17 as well, just so we're all on the same page. That's all! Enjoy.


Just Like Anyone Else
by Naomi Ricard


Chapter One

The music was loud, rambunctious, and caused a pounding in her head. The volume was up so high that she could feel the beats of the music reverberating through her body, though there was nothing she could do about any of it until she found her step-brother. The small brunette maneuvered around the various party-goers: kids that were just plain drunk; ones that were making out and grinding in the center of the large, crowded room; and the handful of people passed out on the floor. She tried her best to avoid bumping into people or stepping on their faces as she attempted to get through, however she wasn't completely successful, as she ended stepping on bleached hair, tripping, and falling hard into some random guy's backside.

"Sorry," she mumbled, more concerned with finding her step-brother than ruining whatever illicit activity the other teenager had been involved in prior to her collision.

The guy only grunted in response and went back to, well, whatever he'd been doing to the girl in front of him, allowing her to continue making her way across the room in the search for her companion.

It had been all his idea to attend this party in the first place. He'd convinced her that it'd be fun and that their parents wouldn't find out—neither their own set of parents or the parents of the person throwing the party—but she'd only really gone to keep an eye on him. He tended to get himself in trouble a lot more than either her or his twin sister did simply because he had a lot of ideas that weren't the brightest. She was beginning to think that this party was probably one of his worst ideas yet, at least the one the contained the least common sense.

She sighed, wishing that she could just be home once again holding her rabbit and doing something productive instead of being surrounded by drunk teenagers and vomit.

It was then that she finally saw the familiar blond hair, the owner sitting on a couch a ways in front of her. The petite junior rushed over to greet him, and found that he was sitting on the sofa alone with a half-drunk beer in his hand. She carefully took a seat on the couch beside him, wrinkling her nose at the smell of alcohol.

"James," she said softly, catching his full attention.

"What is it, Sofia?" he replied, slightly slurring his words. It appeared to Sofia that he was having a hard time sitting up properly, and instead was leaning laxly into the cushions.

"I want to go home," Sofia confessed, looking down at her lap. "I think we're kind of just spending time here and not really getting anything important done."

James looked at her sympathetically, then he looked down at the beer bottle in his hand and held it up to face level. "I'm not gonna be able to drive, Sof. I've had three of these," he said, waving the bottle around sloppily.

"Well," she said thoughtfully. "I suppose that I can drive if I have to."

"No," James stated, as well as he could state anything in his state. "You've only had your permit for two months. You're not gonna drive anywhere."

Sofia sighed and started picking the pilling off her purple sweater sleeve. "We don't have much of a choice, James. You're kinda wasted," she retorted, though her tone was still soft as always.

"Yeah, we have a choice. We can stay here." James set the beer down on the side table next to the couch, where a lamp had been when everyone was arriving. Peeking around the couch and James, Sofia could see that the lamp had been shattered into a hundred tiny pieces sometime during the course of the party.

"But I don't think we should..." she said. "Look, I know how to drive. I already have all my hours done. Let's go. Please?" she finished, borderline pleading.

He glanced off to the side, apparently surveying the room in his drunken state, and then glanced back at Sofia. Looking at her straight in the eye, James seemed to relent. "Fine, Sof, you win." He started trying to get up out of the chair, but the blond fell right back down into his seat as soon as he was halfway up.

Sofia stood up promptly and held out her hand to help her brother. James took her hand, seemingly grateful. "I'll need the keys, y'know."

She was somewhat surprised when James responded, as she thought he wouldn't have heard her due to the raging music that still sounded loudly throughout the room. "Yeah, they're in my pocket."

"I suppose that means you don't want to go through the trouble of getting them," Sofia replied, the tone of her voice sweet despite the fact that her words would sound sarcastic and irritated coming from anyone else. However, she simply continued with, "Which pocket, James?"

"Back right," he answered, leaning on Sofia to keep himself balanced. She gave him a pitiful 'Really?' look before reaching a hand around his back and slipping her hand into his pocket. As soon as she felt the warm metal of the key, she grabbed it and pulled.

"I got them," she announced cheerfully, "Now we can go."

"Yeah, alright."

She grasped his hand with her own free hand, while her other arm went around his waist. "It's alright, James," Sofia said kindly. "I'll help you get to the car." And with that she started walking, albeit slowly and helping her brother along.

It wasn't the easiest thing for her to figure out how she was going to move around the swarm of people, but eventually she got to the door. Rather quickly, both she and James were down the driveway and next to his Tahoe.

They arrived at their house in what felt like no time. As Sofia pulled into the driveway, she noticed that their parents weren't home and Amber, James' twin, wasn't either. She breathed a sigh of relief; no one really needed to see James drunk when Sofia felt it was partially her fault that he'd gotten that way.

"Do you want some water?" Sofia offered once they got to the front door and unlocked it with James' key. "Or maybe something to eat? I heard somewhere that it can help you sober up."

"Nah," James answered as she led him to the recliner and sat him down.

"Alright," she replied, even though she thought it was rather unlike James to deny food, no matter what the situation was.

He leaned back in the recliner, closing his eyes. Sofia pulled at the lever on the side and made the footrest pop up, allowing the chair to go further back, which she hoped was what he wanted.

"Thanks, Sof," James mumbled as he readjusted himself in the chair.

"No problem," she said happily. "Anything else you need?" Sofia wandered into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of ice water.

"I don't think so," he replied from the living room.

"Okay," Sofia said before turning around to look at the painting calendar behind her head. On the date her mother had written: Company dinner 7:00PM-11:00PM. She then looked at the clock and realized the time was 10:45. "Great," she whispered to herself, "They'll be home in half an hour." Something had to be done about James before he got in trouble; that was the last thing Sofia wanted.

"Um, James," Sofia called, padding out of the large tiled kitchen to see her step-brother half asleep in the living room.

"Hmm," James hummed in response.

"I really think you should get to bed," she said, setting her glass down on the coffee table and standing in front the recliner containing James. "Mom and Dad are going to be home soon, and you probably don't want to be out here when they get home, right?" Sofia giggled nervously, trying to keep her tone lighthearted.

"Prob'ly not," he said lazily.

"That's just what I was thinking!" Sofia exclaimed. "So let's get you back to your room." She grabbed James' arm, and as she did so he opened his eyes.

"Careful, you're gonna di'locate my shoulder," he said, still sounding like he was only half-conscious.

Sofia looked at him sheepishly. "Sorry," she murmured, and continued helping him up. Once he was up, she had him propped up on her, using her like a crutch of sorts. "C'mon," she said, starting to move towards the long hallway that led back to a handful of rooms, including James' bedroom.

They slowly moved down the extensive hallway, whose beige walls were lined with photos of the three children—James, Amber, and Sofia—at various ages as well as their parents. Sofia cautiously avoided the handful of half-tables that also decorated the hallway, as there were flowers in different vases sitting on them, and the vases would be too easily broken if they were to hit the oaken flooring.

After what seemed like a possible eternity—though by looking at James' clock Sofia could see that it'd been no more than five minutes—the siblings reached James' room. Once they entered the room whose only light source was that of James' open laptop, she helped him over to his king-sized bed that obviously hadn't been made up that morning, as the covers were in complete disarray.

"Here you go," Sofia said, smiling as she sat James down on the side of his bed.

"Thanks," James replied, falling over sideways so that he was laying on his pillows.

After pulling the covers up over James, Sofia sat down on the bed beside him. "Is there anything else you need?" she asked, cocking her head questioningly.

James was quiet for a minute, and in the blue light of the laptop Sofia could see a sudden boldness appear in his brown eyes. "Yeah, maybe," he said, and to Sofia he appeared more clear-headed than he'd been minutes before.

"Maybe? What is it?" she pressed, curious about what James could possibly be thinking.

"Well..." James' speech wandered. "I could use a goodnight kiss," he finished, looking directly into Sofia's eyes.

A chill ran down Sofia's spine, though she was too focused on what to say next to tell if the shiver was a positive or negative one. "A what?" she asked, practically dumbfounded by the request.

The blond turned away, no longer facing Sofia. "Nothing, forget it," James said, his tone sounding disappointed.

"Oh," Sofia said, regaining her sense. "Um, well..." She sighed.

There was a long silence between them; James' seemed somewhat embarrassed but mostly just disappointed, while Sofia's silence was more of a contemplation.

"Good night, James," Sofia said finally, getting up off the bed which caused it to creak. Standing up, she turned to see if James would give her any kind of response, but she noticed that he was already asleep. She gave him a small smile and then left the room to question the events that had just occurred.