Castle Roland

Everything Will Turn Out Alright

by Cy-Kun


Chapter 16

Posted: N/A

Two days. That's all it took for my feelings of foreboding to come true, although not quite in the way I expected.

It had nothing to do with Carl. In fact, aside from his frequent glances at me or Vicky when he thinks we're not looking, he hasn't done anything even remotely creepy or out of character for an incredibly shy and slightly awkward boy. The feeling of unease I had about him didn't go away though. I still thought there was something off about the whole thing but like I said, that has nothing to do with my current horror story. No, that was all Michelle and Erica.

Is anyone actually surprised?

It all started at lunch (everything always seems to and the fact that it's the only time of day both of the lead fangirls are around is definitely not a coincidence) on Thursday. Erica and Michelle had just recently started talking to each other again about five minutes before and I already missed the silence.

"Oh my God! Erica did you watch Glee last night? Wasn't it just so awesome?" Michelle asked in her usual rapid fire way.

"Yeah, it was really good." Erica answered before popping a fry in her mouth.

"Nate, Vicky, you guys watch Glee right? Of course you do. What did you-" Michelle started.

"No we don't." We said in unison.

"That's so cute when they do that." Erica gushed. Oh for......

"I know! Wait, you don't watch Glee?" Michelle practically shrieked.

We both shook our heads.

" has gay people." Michelle actually sounded a little bit frantic.

"So does Torchwood and I don't watch that either." I said.

"But that's a guy show!" Michelle exclaimed.

Do you see what I have to deal with?

I heard Vicky groan and I could tell without looking at him that he was holding his head in his hands. I was tempted to do the same but for some reason I decided to try and argue with her. I dunno, maybe I have a secret masochism fetish that I'm just discovering or something.

"I'm....not even gonna acknowledge that last thing." I shook my head. "Look, just because a show has gay people in it and just because I happen to be gay doesn't mean I'm gonna like the show. I don't care about singing or relationship drama so I don't care about Glee. I don't care about Doctor Who and I don't watch British shows so I don't care about Torchwood. I love Firefly and there's not a single gay person in sight on that show. I don't need gayness to enjoy something and I don't enjoy things because they're gay." I thought for a second. "Although if they brought Firefly back with an all gay cast I'd be all over that."

"Only if they brought back Nathan Fillion." Vicky muttered as he extracted himself from his hand barrier.

I giggled. "Ohhh, I forgot you have a crush on him."

"I do not!" he yelled wide eyed. "I just think he's a good actor...." he looked away. "Who's kinda sexy."

"You loooooove him! Should I be jealous?"

Vicky blushed and scowled at the same time. Do I even need to mention how cute it was? "I dunno, should I be jealous of you and Mark Hamill?" he growled.

"Hey, I'm not ashamed of my celebrity crushes." I said with a smirk.

"He's like 80!" Vicky shouted.

"I don't have a thing for him NOW." I said patiently. This shouldn't even need explaining. "But he was hot as hell back when he did Star Wars. And who are you to talk anyway? You're the one who draws erotic pictures of George Takei."

"I do not!" he yelled again. "I draw erotic pictures of Mr Sulu, there's a difference."

"Just like there's a difference between Mark Hamill now and Mark Hamill when he was Luke Skywalker." I said smugly. I love winning.

Vicky pouted slightly. "He's a shitty actor anyway."

This is a line. That was Vicky crossing the line. "Star Trek was a shitty show and Kirk was a crappy captain." I paused for effect. "Archer was a better captain." That was me setting the line on fire and dancing while it burned.

It may not seem like a big deal to you non nerds out there but to someone like Vicky what I'd just said was the equivalent of me walking up to a fundamentalist Muslim and saying "Mohammed is a faggot." Normally I never would have done it but no one, and I mean NO ONE, gets to insult Mark Hamill in front of me.

Vicky narrowed his eyes. "Star Wars is for little kids. It's story sucks, it's characters are boring and there's not a single good actor in any of the six movies. It's just a bunch of special effects strung together to sell toys to kids."

Oh! Oh! Oh!'s on.

"Star Wars has an epic story! It's complex and dramatic and well told! Star Trek is just a bunch of random episodes with no over-arcing plot and every once in a while they get topical so they can sit back and say 'Oh look at us! We're tackling social issues, aren't we soooooo deep?'" I shot back.

"At least Star Trek can BE serious! Star Wars is almost nothing but comedy relief!"

"Bullshit! Star Wars is serious!"

"But it does have too much comedy relief! There are entire parts of the series that are nothing but one long running joke. It's lame."

"Like Star Trek doesn't do that!"

"It doesn't!"

"Neither does Star Wars! Come on, give some examples if you're sooooo confident."

"Ewoks." he smiled smugly.

"Tribbles." I countered.

"Jar-Jar Binks!"

"Harcourt Fenton Mudd!"

"Harry Mudd isn't comedy relief!

"He's the definition of comedy relief! 'Ohh I'm running away from my wife! Ohh, I'm selling women to miners! Ohh, look at me I'm king of the androids!'" I smirked. "Sooooo serious."

Vicky just glared at me. "Fine. C3PO and R2-D2."

"They're not comedy relief!"

"They most certainly are! All they do is bicker and get into crazy situations. And don't even get me started on 3PO's stupid one liners in Attack of the Clones. 'This is such a drag! I'm quite beside myself!'" Now it was his turn to smirk. "Lame."

"Ok, fine, he may have been a LITTLE over the top in Attack of the Clones but he's still more vital to the plot than Harry Mudd ever was."

"How? They had to keep shoving him in the story just to get him some screen time!"

"He was an important part of the plan to rescue Han from Jabba's palace."

"No he wasn't! R2 snuck Luke's lightsaber in, he was the only one that needed to be there. All C3PO did was provide 'hilarious' translation gags and get his eye chewed out by Salacious fucking Crumb! There was no reason for him to be there besides comedy relief."

"R2 never would have gotten INSIDE Jabba's palace if 3PO hadn't been there. No one can understand R2's beeps, 3PO needed to translate."

Vicky glared at me. "Bull. Droids can understand R2 so that weird eye robot thing would have known what he was saying."

"It wasn't a robot, it was a B'omarr Monk." I corrected.

"A what?" Vicky was confused now.

"A B'omarr Monk. They get their brains removed and put into droids when they reach enlightenment..." I shook my head and waved my hand. "It doesn't matter. It just wasn't really a droid so it couldn't have understood."

"Whatever." Vicky looked annoyed that he couldn't counter that. I grinned to myself. People should know better than to argue Star Wars with me. As this was going on I absently noticed that there was a quiet conversation going on around us.

"Um, should we say something?" Jen asked.

"No. You can't stop him when he gets like this." Jason said softly and with a little bit of awe. "Actually, I've never seen him do this with another person before. It's kinda interesting, in a really sad sort of way."

"I think it's hot." Erica said dreamily.

"You would." Responded a clearly bored Michelle. "I hope they have make up sex in front of us."

"Oh! Do you think?" Erica asked excitedly.

Carl didn't say anything. He just watched.

I tuned them all out. It was time to go on the offensive!

"Star Trek 5." I stated.

"What about it?" Vicky asked.

"That whole movie was basically comedy relief."

"What?! It was not!"

This would have been the perfect time for a single eyebrow raise but I haven't had much luck with my online lessons yet so I just raised both. "Oh, come on. It starts out with a zany camping trip complete with a sing along and turns into a comically fat Klingon, an alcoholic human and a haughty ice queen Romulan following not-John Rhys-Davies on a quest to kidnap the Enterprise and find God at the center of the galaxy. How is that supposed to be taken seriously?"

Vicky blinked, but didn't say anything for a few seconds. "....ok, fine, that was pretty ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as a race of underwater fish people who fight off a robot army with really convenient robot destroying balls of electricity but still pretty ridiculous."

"Yeah, Gungans are stupid." I conceded. And they are. I mean, seriously, fish people with electricity balls who sound like they should be in Roots? Yeah, stupid. "Not as stupid as space whales though."

Vicky raised an eyebrow. Damn him! "Space whales?"

"Star Trek 4."

"There weren't any space whales!"

"Hell yes there were. They showed up in their space whale space ship and tried to destroy the Earth."

Vicky opened his mouth to speak, closed it, opened it again, then closed it and stared at me disbelievingly. "Have you ever SEEN Star Trek 4?!"

"Of course I-"

"It was a probe! They only mention it like 50 times! Probes are unmanned, there were no whales, space or not. And it wasn't sent there to destroy the Earth it was sent there to find out why there was no more whale song coming from Earth and the signal it was sending into the ocean to try and talk to the whales was accidentally screwing up the climate and creating massive storms. Again, this gets explained pretty damn clearly in the movie. Are you sure you've seen it?"

"Yes." Ok, I should be honest here.... "It was a while ago though...." I didn't look at him. I didn't wanna see the damn smirk I knew he had on his face. I had to try and salvage my nerd pride. "Space whales still sent the probe though."

"They weren't space whales, just whales from another planet." Vicky explained patiently.

"What's the difference?"

"Space whales need to be in space, not just on another planet."

A-ha! "How do you know they're not in space?" I countered. "They can build a probe so why not a space ship? There could be a whole fleet of space ships, whaled by whales out there!"

Vicky rolled his eyes. "Even if there are they weren't in the movie so it doesn't matter."

"But there COULD be space whales, you admit it!" I said triumphantly.

Vicky sighed. "Yeah, sure, there could be space whales."

I'll take it! Pride successfully salvaged. "And Star Wars doesn't have anything as stupid as space whales."

"Midi-cholrians." he deadpanned.

Fuck..... "Ok, yeah, those are fucking stupid. I dunno what the hell Lucas was thinking with that." I shook my head in disgust. Did he really need to add a scientific explanation for the Force? The only answer to that is, of course, HELL NO!

We didn't say anything else for a little bit. His eyes had this little victorious gleam in them, I guess from getting me to admit that something in Star Wars was stupid without bringing up something even more stupid in Star Trek, and I was kinda mesmerized by it. This is gonna sound really lame but I never really get to talk about anything I really like with people who aren't online and doing it with Vicky was getting me REALLY hot. Star Wars, wrestling and sci-fi in general are pretty much all banned subjects with Jason for various reasons, mostly having to do with my tendency to get just a little bit, um, carried away sometimes. If Jason outright said that Star Wars sucked I probably would have hit him. With Vicky not only can he say it sucks but he can go and start to rip it apart in front of me and instead of hitting him all I wanna do is rip his clothes off and do naughty things to his body. If I wasn't already in love with him I would have fallen hard because of that alone.

The gleam in Vicky's eyes turned from one of victory to one of...I guess surprised delight would be the best way to describe it He leaned in close. "Is this getting you as hot as it's getting me?"

"Oh yeah." I breathed huskily. He grinned at me and just like that our argument, which in the end wasn't nearly as serious as it should have been, was over and we kinda had a bit of a moment. Of course, that was ruined pretty quickly.

"Wow, they ARE gonna have sex." Michelle whispered. Well, it was a whisper for her anyway. For anyone else it would have been a medium volume murmur.

"Oh, wow." Erica squeaked.

"Oh, God." Jason grumbled.

"Um, are you really know?" Carl asked hesitantly.

Everyone turned to look at him with varying expressions of disbelief. Did he really think we were gonna.....

Everyone exchanged glances and then turned to look at me and Vicky questioningly.

Oh for fucks sake!

"No!" I hissed. "We're not!"

Vicky just glared at them.

"Sorry." Carl said sheepishly.

I glared at Michelle. "Not your fault." I said to him. No, somehow this was all HER fault. And it was about to get worse. Remember earlier when I alluded to some kind of horrible thing happening? Well, it hasn't happened yet. After that we all kinda went back to eating our lunch in silence for about five minutes. I kept stealing glances at Michelle. Even though I've only known her for a really short time I could read her like a childrens book. She was in one of those rare moods where she actually realized that someone was annoyed at her and didn't want to make it worse so she was holding back on saying something she really wanted to say. From the way she kept opening and closing her mouth and the slight frown she had on her lips I knew she could only hold back for a few more seconds. In fact, I could probably count it down. Let's try it.




"So, you guys are going to the back to school dance right?" Michelle asked excitedly.

See? Told yo-wait, what? Is she serious? Wow. She REALLY doesn't know me.

"No." I said coldly.

"But-" she started.


"Come-" Erica tried.

"No." I repeated.

"Yes." Jason said in the same cold tone I was using.

What the hell? Jason knows how much I hate school dances, he hates them just as much. We constantly make fun of how stupid they are. "What?" I asked.

"You're going." he glared at me, daring me to disagree. I didn't get this at all. Why the HELL is he trying to get me to go? He should know by now that if I'm going there's no way in hell I'm not dragging his ass there to suffer with.......oh. Oh. I narrowed my eyes at the way Jen was looking at her lunch but paying very close attention to the conversation.


"No." I said.

"You're going."

"Why?" I shot him a look that told him I knew why and I wasn't impressed.

He glared at me. "Because...." he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Because I'm going and I'm not suffering alone." Without looking up Jen smacked him on the arm. He glanced at her and slumped slightly. "Please." he pleaded.

Now, normally that would have been enough for me to jump to the defense of my best friend and make the ultimate sacrifice but this was a SCHOOL DANCE. You don't know how soul-destroyingly horrible they can be. There was no way I was going just because Jason isn't man enough to say no to his woman. Wow, that was probably the most ruggedly masculine thought I've ever had. Awesome.

"I'm not going, Jason." I tried giving him a sympathetic smile. He just frowned and looked defeated. I felt a bit bad but I'll just make it up to him later. He forgave me for teasing him about the hug (even though Vicky still tries to attack hug him when he's not looking and I always laugh my ass off) so he can forgive me for this.

"What's a back to school dance?" Vicky asked with equal parts confusion and curiosity.

"It's a nightmare." I answered, cutting off Michelle before she had a chance to do more than open her mouth. I was pretty proud of myself for that one. "It's basically the middle school version of Homecoming but since for some stupid reason they can't call it Homecoming they have to pretend it's to celebrate getting back in school. It's completely and totally lame and-"

"No it's not!" Michelle cut in. "It's a lot of fun. There's dancing and food and hanging out and-"

"And the food is leftover from lunch and the music is terrible Top 40 crap-"

"That's not all they play!" Michelle interrupted again.

"Oh, sorry, I forgot about the obligatory 30 repetitions of 'Shout' and that stupid Titanic song." I said with an eye roll.

"There's also voting for king and queen of the dance, a best dressed contest AND a dance contest!" Michelle was almost frantic now trying to sell this to me. She should know better. The only thing that would get me to show up would be if George Lucas was going to present me with the original script for Star Wars signed by the entire cast of all six movies and even then I'd leave the second I got it.

"That.....actually sounds kinda fun." Vicky said with a small smile and a shrug.

".....what?" I managed to get out after a few seconds of stunned silence.

He looked a little embarrassed. "I've....I've never really been to a school dance before. By the time I was old enough to go none of my friends....." he sighed. "I didn't have any friends anymore so there was no point." He looked at me and I could see that even though it didn't hurt him the way it used to, thinking about what happened after he was outed the first time wouldn't be something he was comfortable talking about for a long time. It was enough to melt my heart. But I still didn't want to go.

"You weren't missing anything, trust me." I said. He smiled weakly at me and let it drop.

Michelle and Erica kept trying to get me to change my mind for the rest of lunch. When it became clear that there was no chance in hell of me coming around they turned their attention to Carl. They begged and tried to bribe him with the possibility of maybe meeting someone there but he kept refusing and looking like he'd rather be anywhere than sitting there being questioned. I was surprised. With as fragile as he always seemed I thought he'd break right away but he was almost as firm as I was about not going.

Jason didn't say anything to me for the rest of the period. I didn't care. I was still pretty pissed that he tried to drag me to the stupid dance with him. I know! I said I would have done the same thing but, well, I'm kind of a 'do as I say, not as I do' kinda guy I guess. I spent most of the rest of lunch talking quietly to Vicky but he seemed a bit distracted. He did promise to try and call me on Monday night so we could watch wrestling on the phone together though so I was pretty excited about that. We'd still never really talked on the phone and, even though Xbox Live chat worked fine, talking to your boyfriend on the phone was one of those normal 'couply' things and I really wanted to do all of those with Vicky. Sappy? Maybe, but I don't really care.

The bell finally rang and me and Vicky left together. I was smiling the whole time. I did it! I got through the entire lunch and no one forced me to go to that goddamn dance! I was pretty damn proud of myself. I don't exactly have the best track record of not letting girls manipulate me into doing whatever they want. Which, again, is something that I REALLY don't think I should have to deal with. As much as I may make fun of Jason for being completely whipped I can understand how it happens. I can barely say no to girls as it is and I can easily imagine how much harder it would be if you're actually attracted to them. Hm. Now that I think about it I'm pretty much the same way with Vicky. I'd do whatever he wanted for the most I a doormat?

Answer in 3....



Vicky grabbed my hand and stopped me before we reached the intersection in the hall where we went to our separate classes. "Can I talk to you for a sec?"

"Sure." I answered and allowed myself to be pulled over to the wall. "What's up?"

He looked nervous. "Um," he hesitated "would you be mad if I said I wanted to go to the dance?"

My eyes widened in surprise. Well, this was unexpected. "Uh, no, not really. I'm kinda surprised you'd wanna go though." It'd kinda suck not taking him home right after school because we'd sorta got in in the habit of sleeping over my house on the weekends but it's just one day and he can always come over after. "I could get my mom to pick you up after if you want. We could drop by your house beforehand and pick up some clothes for you." I gave him an understanding smile. Dances are stupid and not at all fun but I remember when I was curious about them before I ever actually went to one so I could see why he'd want to go. I doubted he'd actually like it but-"

"Um," he looked away from me. "Actually, I was sorta hoping you'd, um, take me?" he looked at be briefly and flashed a weak smile before looking away again.

Now I'm torn. And no I don't mean that in the 'I can't decide what to do' way. I mean it in the 'I can literally feel the cells of my body getting ripped in half by the levels of conflicting thoughts and emotions I'm feeling' way. I believe we've already been over how hard it is for me to refuse anything Vicky wants and most of that was him just asking offhandedly. This shy, nervous, can't look me in the eyes thing is more than I can take. But you've also gotta understand, I HATE school dances. And I mean hate. I hate the music, I hate the forced social interaction, I hate all the stupid pressures and expectations that go along with showing up and on top off all that I hate that I can't fucking dance. I've been to one school dance in my life and it was the absolute worst school related experience I've ever had up to and including everything that's happened to me recently. It was last year and I went with Jason. He spent the entire time bitching constantly about the music and I spent the entire time cringing in a dark corner trying to hide from all the girls that kept....staring at me. No, staring is too weak of a word. It was more like devouring me with their eyes. It was....scary. It's like no one ever bothered giving me the time of day during school but I show up at one little dance and all of a sudden it's like there's this flashing neon sign above my head that says "I'm not an invisible loser anymore! I'm also kinda hot! Do me!" or something. Even some of the girls there with dates were doing it which just caused the guys they were with to glare at me with such anger that by the end of the night I was seriously considering just standing up and shouting "Hey! I'm a fucking fag, I don't want any girls here so let's all just stop looking at me like you wanna fuck me or kill me ok?" Of course, knowing what I know now about how insanely obsessed girls at this school are with gay people that probably would have had the exact opposite effect....... And I haven't even gotten to the part where I tried to dance and was so awful at it that everybody laughed at me.

I tried to dance and I was so awful at it that everybody laughed at me. There. Consider it gotten to.

So you can understand my reluctance to put myself back in a situation like that, especially since if I went with Vicky there wouldn't be ANYONE there not watching us the entire night. We may be getting some protection because of the girls and some sympathy because of the Skip thing but the school is far from being covered in rainbows and acceptance. Aside from Jason, and now Carl I guess, almost no one with a dick hanging between their legs wants anything at all to do with us. It's nice not to get beat up or made fun of but is it so much to ask not to completely ignore me when I ask to borrow a pencil?

So, yeah, like I said I'm torn.

Vicky noticed my hesitation. "Um, we don't need to dance or anything. I just kinda wanna see what it's like, you know? And I really don't wanna be alone with Michelle and Erica there." When I didn't respond he started speaking faster. "If you really don't want to it's ok. We could go to another one or whatever. Or not. I'm just curious I guess. Never mind, it's stupid."

Dammit. He just made it easier and harder for me. Easier because he basically just took it back so all I have to do is say nothing and I'm off the hook without actually having to say no. Harder because now he feels stupid for asking and I'm responsible for making him feel that way.

Do you hear those popping sounds? Those are my cells ripping in half.

Vicky was staring at the floor again and I remembered something he said to me after we left Jason's house the day of the sex talk. He told me that before he met me he used to be really shy. At the time I almost didn't believe him, since I'd known him he'd been....I guess secure in himself would be the best way to put it. Not always confident but secure enough to know who he is and what he wants. Now as I looked at him avoiding my eyes and stumbling over his words just because he asked me a question I could see bits of the shy, insecure boy he must have been. And I hated that I was the cause of it.

Damn, in the end I guess I'm not as torn as I thought.

"Ok," I tried to keep the resignation out of my voice. "We can go."

He looked hesitantly into my eyes. "Are you sure? If you don't want to we-"

I pressed my finger to his lips and smiled. A real smile even. Not because I suddenly wanted to go but because I was making my Vicky happy. "Yes. I'm sure. We can go."

He grinned and kissed my fingers quickly. "Thanks." As my hand fell from his lips he grabbed it and gave it a squeeze. "I know you didn't wanna go but I'm glad you're taking me. I promise I'll make it up to you if it's too bad." He flashed me a sexy smile. "Maybe even if it's good." He gave me a quick kiss and then took off for his next class with a 'see ya later' wave.

I grinned after him. Yep, my Vicky was definitely back to normal and sexy as ever judging by the sudden tightness in my pants and the flutter in my heart. I walked to class with a lightness in my step. Vicky was happy because of me and even though I had to go to something I hated I could deal with it just to see him smile. All was right with the world.

Not surprisingly the world went to shit again five minutes after Michelle found out I was going.

After I got home from school (sadly Vicky went home with his dad today so he didn't come over) I had the pleasure of having Jason call to try and talk me into going to the dance. I made him beg for a good 10 minutes before I told him that Vicky and I already decided to go. He was too relieved to be as pissed as he normally would have been. I got off with a "I'm so glad I don't have to suffer alone. And you're an asshole. Bye."

I laughed and didn't really think much about him for the rest of the night so the next day when I sat down at lunch and he was smirking at me I didn't really think too much of it until......

"I KNEW YOU'D CHANGE YOUR MIND!" Michelle screamed at me and practically leapt at me and clung to my neck in what I can only assume was supposed to be a hug and not an attempt to strangle me to death. Although with her you never really can tell. She finally let go and went to her seat next to a startled Vicky, talking the entire time. "This is so great, it's gonna be so awesome seeing you and Vicky together at a dance. Oh! We should go shopping together!"

"No way!" I yelled. "Look I already told you we don't like that girly stuff. I'm not going shopping, I have clothes."

"Me too." Vicky said quickly.

She looked both of us over with a critical eye. I was actually a bit surprised. It was the most thought I'd ever seen her put into anything besides getting me and Vicky to kiss in front of her.

That thought didn't exactly comfort me.....

"I've seen what you guys wear and don't get me wrong the whole 'teenage boy' thing is really cute on you but that won't cut it at a dance." she stated.

Teenage boy thing? Since when is dressing like a teenage boy when I AM a teenage boy a 'thing'?

"I think they look fine the way they are." Erica put in.

Michelle gave her the same critical look she gave us. Erica was wearing a blank girly tank top over a similar white one and a thin hoody type thing. And some type of jeans. Somehow I didn't think Michelle would be too impressed. "You would." Michelle said snidely.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Erica shouted.

"You dress like a teenage boy too." Michelle said.

"I do not!" Erica yelled. "And what about you? You dress like a preppy hooker!"

That, of course, set off a 10 minute argument over who dressed like what type of slut or who looks gender challenged and for some reason ended up being a fight about Michelle forgetting to bring a present to Erica's 10th birthday party.


By the time the fight was over Jen and Jason were losing the fight to hide their laughter and Carl was shooting me and Vicky odd looks every few seconds. I ignored them all. Vicky and I were too busy exchanging worried glances and staring at the clock hoping that the period would end before Michelle turned her attention back to us.

Guess if that worked out. No, come on, guess. I'm serious.

If you guessed yes then you haven't been paying attention lately.

If you guessed no, then good for you! You can spot the obvious. Your family must be so proud.

"Alright! Fine! I'm sorry! I'll get you two presents this year ok?" Michelle was saying.

Erica crossed her arms and huffed. "Fine. You're forgiven I guess. But they better be good presents."

"They will be." she turned back to me and grinned happily. "Now, we need to go shopping. Are you guys free this weekend?"

"No." Vicky said.

"We're not going shopping." I added.

"Yes you are." Michelle said. We didn't say anything and she pouted. "Oh come on! You guys need some clothes, shirts at least, and I really wanna shop with you. It'll be fun I swear and I promise I won't drag you into girly stores ok? We can just go to the mall and pick out a few shirts, maybe some pants and that's it ok? Pleeeeeeease?"

I sighed. I'm not doing this. I'm not doing this. I'm not doing this. Dammit-

"She's not gonna shut up about this, is she?" Vicky said before I could think it.

"No." I groaned. And she wouldn't. Like I said before she's easy to read and I could tell the difference between something she wants but is willing to let go and something that she'll latch onto and keep a hold of until she gets her way. The funny thing is she was willing to give up on getting us to go to the dance in the first place but now that she'd had a small taste of victory she wasn't about to let anything stop her from getting us to go....(shudder) shopping with her. I'm just glad I wasn't the one that had to give in.

Vicky sighed. "Alright. We'll go with you." Michelle started to open her mouth. "On one condition!" Vicky added before she could speak. "We get the final say on what we buy and if we don't find anything then that's it. We're not going again. Ok?"

"That's, like, two conditions." I whispered to him.

"Quiet you." he murmured back.

"Ok! Done!" Michelle shrieked. "This is gonna be so awesome! Ok, we'll go on Saturday and, you know, I'll just call you and tell you tonight. This is gonna be great!"

I glared at Jason and he smiled sheepishly in return. After Michelle called my house earlier in the week I found out that Jason was the one who gave her the number. He says it was because he was panicking at the thought of what Skip might have done to me so I forgave him but I was still pretty pissed that the most annoying person I know who's not related to me now had the ability to contact me whenever she wanted. Luckily my phone has caller ID so I can avoid her when I wanted to. All I needed to do now was break my habit of just picking up the phone and assuming it's Jason.

And now that I was going shopping I had a sudden need for money, which lead to this:

"You're going to a dance?" my mom said skeptically after I asked her for some money and she asked for an explanation.

"Yes." I sighed.

".....a school dance?" she asked, this time with an eyebrow raise.


She looked at me for a minute. "And shopping?"

I sighed again and let some of my quickly growing impatience seep into my voice. "Yes. I'm going shopping. For clothes. For the dance. That I'm going to."

She cocked her head and stared at me. I wonder if she thinks I'm lying? No, she knows how terrible I am at lying so she must be trying to decide if I've suddenly gotten good at it or if I'm telling the truth. Considering how long I complained about the last dance I went to (three months before I stopped mentioning it daily if you're curious) I didn't really blame her. She must have made up her mind because an amused smile formed on her lips and she said "Oh, this I have to see."

And that's how, a day later on Saturday, me, Vicky, Michelle, Erica and my mom ended up in the Cooper Mega Mall shopping for clothes.

It took less than 10 seconds for my mom and Michelle to become best friends.

It was kinda like what I'd assume watching a meeting between Boba Fett and Adelei Niska would feel like. They seemed to instantly recognize that the other had some kind of possessiveness towards me and Vicky. Michelle was, honestly I have no idea what she is besides annoying but she probably thought of herself as our best girl friend and my mom was, well, my mom. They eyed each other warily like two dogs trying to decide whether or not to fight for a few seconds before Michelle said "Now I see why Nate's so awesome."

I groaned. Vicky rolled his eyes. Erica snickered. My mom just smiled and said "I like this one." That's literally all it took. After that they started chatting away like they'd known each other for years, talking about which stores would be the best to shop at, what I'd look the best in, what Vicky would look the best in, what from the last two categories would match and whether or not Vicky and I should get matching underwear. When that came up two voices shouted "NO!" at the same time as one slightly more high pitched voice shouted "YES!" We both shut Erica up with Glares of Doom and made it clear that there was absolutely no way in any cultures definition of hell that we'd let my mom and a girl from my school go underwear shopping for us. We won in the end but only when my mom said "Ok, fine, I'll just go buy some for you guys myself tomorrow."

Yeah, it was a long day.

Despite Erica saying that we didn't need any new clothes yesterday she seemed pretty excited to be there with us. At least until we shot down her idea about getting our dance clothes at Hot Topic, then she just sulked and made rude comments about every store we went into.

Vicky and I tried to stay as close to her as possible after that.

As much as Vicky wanted to go to the dance he really didn't wanna go shopping. Between getting dragged into stores, getting shoved into changing rooms and (shudder) modeling clothes Vicky told me that he never really understood the point of 'shopping'. (With air quotes and everything)

"If I need something then I'll just ask for it or go buy it myself." he was saying. "I dunno why people go to malls or stores just to look around and buy stuff they didn't want when they left the house."

"I dunno. But at least we have SOME idea of what we're looking for." I said.

"Shirts right?" he asked sarcastically.

"I think. But I have no fucking clue why they're looking at ski jackets now."

Vicky looked around. "Where the hell are we?"

I spotted a sign. ".....L.L. Bean."

Vicky groaned. "We're supposed to be getting shirts for a dance!"

"Nate!" my mom called excitedly. "Come here. I found a really great winter jacket for you. It has 13 pockets! I want you to try it on. Vicky too. If it fits he can come back with Jack and get it."

"Oh! Oh! They would look so cute in matching jackets!" Michelle squealed.

Vicky and I exchanged incredulous looks then sighed, slumped and walked over to my mom. We ended up walking out with that jacket, gloves, a new winter hat and for some unholy reason a pair of snow shoes. I'm talking legitimate, looks-like-two-tennis-rackets-with-straps snow shoes here. We barely get three inches of snow in bad weather. I'd ask but, honestly, I'm a bit scared of the answer.

Erica left right after that, mumbling something about being bored and calling her dad. She was already gone and we were being dragged to another store by the time we realized that she was actually leaving so we couldn't beg her to stay. Out of all the fangirls I think she's my favorite and her sarcastic comments were the only thing keeping my from tearing my hair out from frustration and boredom today so I was pretty damn sad to see her go.

We left L.L Bean and my mom started leading us into Foot Locker when I decided enough was enough. I'd been the silent, suffering son long enough and it was time to get whatever damn shirt I needed to look 'presentable' or whatever at this dance and go home. Just thinking about being dragged around not only by my mom but Michelle and not only to shirt stores but apparently to any store that my mom thought I needed something from was really starting to piss me off. Not to mention that Michelle hadn't once ever TRIED to stick to the conditions that Vicky set down before we agreed. It was time to end this.

"Mom!" I yelled. Everyone turned to look at me. And when I say everyone I mean almost literally everyone. I may have shouted just a little bit louder than I meant to and as a result the heads of everyone within 30 feet of me turned their heads my way. I felt myself blushing, I never liked being the center of attention even when I wasn't prepared for it, but steeled myself. Dealing with parents and fangirls and parents partnered with fangirls was a lot like dealing with wild animals. You needed to show them that you weren't afraid or intimidated or they'd rip your throat out and eat you for whatever meal they happen to be closest to. At least that's how it is with me. I wonder when I'm gonna end up needing therapy?

"What is it dear?" my mom said in her best 'I'm a dutiful mother who is in no way taking perverse pleasure in the boredom/embarrassment/frustration/general unhappiness of her obviously overly melodramatic son' voice. Actually that probably isn't fair. I don't think she really takes pleasure in making me miserable, she just doesn't realize how truly miserable I am right now. She tends to think all my moods are caused by typical teenage sullenness or 'hormones' (which parents rely on way too much to explain away their kids moods. I often wonder how many kids who end up killing themselves or showing up to school with automatic weapons had the warning signs dismissed as then just being 'hormonal'. Food for thought, adults.) and probably thinks I'm actually enjoying myself but I'm too wrapped up in trying to be 'cool' or whatever to show it. Maybe if she spent a minute or two trying to get to know me instead of just assuming she already does I wouldn't end up resenting her so much and you know what? That last thought was way too close to "waah waah my mommy doesn't understand me" for my liking. Gotta keep from doing too far with that line of thought or I'll wake up one morning with my hair dyed black and My Chemical Romance blaring out of my computer on an endless loop.

What was I doing again? Oh, yeah. "Mom," I spoke quieter this time. "We're just supposed to be shopping for shirts to wear to the dance, not getting winter clothes or new shoes or entering raffles for cars." She didn't look impressed. "And you're dragging poor Vicky along for all this too!" I added with as much sincerity as I could put in my voice. Hopefully that would cancel out the cornyness of that line.

Vicky, either because we're so in tune or because he's just generally amazing, immediately put on an expression of uncomfortable boredom. A look that had to be specially designed to make rude hosts feel the maximum amount of shame at the way they treated their guests.

It worked. "Oh Vicky, I'm so sorry." My mom said. "I completely forgot you were here. It's just impossible to get Nate to go shopping with me and I thought I might as well take doesn't matter. I'm sorry for dragging you around." She turned to Michelle. "I'm sorry for dragging you around to all these stores too."

Note the lack of apology to me. I always found it weird how parents will put their kids through things that they'd never subject strangers or friends to.

"It's ok Mrs Ellis." Michelle said quickly. "I totally love shopping and I'm having lots of fun." She smiled at my mom then smiled wider at me and Vicky. "But we probably should start looking for clothes for you guys. There are so many stores I wanna take you to! Oh! Let's start at Rave! They have awesome party clothes. Maybe you can get something too Mrs Ellis!"

I honestly couldn't tell if she was sucking up to my mom or not. I thought her unnatural enthusiasm for taking us shopping had to do with the whole fangirl thing but now I'm kinda thinking that she's one of those people that gets way too excited at the thought of buying clothes. I wonder if she had any idea how much of a stereotype she was? I mentally shrugged. Didn't matter. I just wanted to get this over with.

"Ok, fine, anything let's just get going ok?" I said before anyone could say anything else.

"Yeah, let's." Vicky quickly added. "I think that Rave place is down that way." And with that he started walking. I quickly caught up.

"Are they following?" he whispered at me.

"Who cares?" I whispered back. "If they aren't we can just run into a store and buy something then hide until my mom freaks and has us paged."

"Sounds good." Vicky said.

It actually did sound pretty good and I was more than a little disappointed when they caught up with us.

There was nothing even remotely wearable at Rave. At least not for me and certainly not for a school dance. Most of the clothes there looked like stuff that Hot Topic rejected for being too bright and gaudy. They actually had a button up T-Shirt that was seven different shades of blue. I think I'd rather go topless.

I kept that last thought tightly locked behind the thing that passed for my brain/mouth barrier. No need to give Michelle any ideas.

I won't bore you with the details but after going to five different stores we ended up buying a black long sleeve button up shirt for me ("It'll go great with those jeans you wore on Monday!" Michelle exclaimed after I'd already bought the damn thing. My mom agreed. Damn you jeans you may have won this round but the war isn't over!) and a similar but dark blue shirt for Vicky. Then we had to go buy a pair of jeans for Vicky when he let slip that he doesn't own anything but cargo pants and shorts.

Do I even need to mention that they ended up being a size too small for him?

And then, just like that, it was over. We left the store and walked to the parking lot and said goodbye to Michelle. She was completely gushing over how cute we were gonna look at the dance and how she couldn't wait. I jokingly (ok, half jokingly....ok maybe a quarter jokingly....) asked Vicky if he was having second thoughts but he just shook his head and said he still wanted to go. (Damn...)

Then Michelle was gone and we got in the car and drove home.

"So," my mom said once we'd been driving for a minute or two. "That Michelle is pretty....interesting."

I snorted. "There are several words that start with 'in' that could describe her, interesting is probably the tamest."

"I can imagine." my mom drawled.

"You didn't like her, did you?" Vicky asked suddenly.

"Why would you say that?" my mom asked.

"Are you crazy?" I exclaimed. "They were practically joined at the crazy the entire time! I've never seen my mom fall in like with anyone that fast. Well, except you."

"Yeah but she never asked Michelle to call her Julia did she?" Vicky said with a small smile.

"My mom NEVER tells anyone to call her by her first name right after meeting them."

"Except me."

"Yeah but she knew I was hopelessly in love with you in less than a minute."

"And my dad."

"Yeah but......well ya see...." Hm. That.....was actually an interesting point. There really wasn't much of a reason for that and now that I thought about it my mom had been acting really.....friendly with people for a few weeks now. That was pretty out of character for her. Not that she's usually mean, just guarded, but she hadn't been for a while. She'd even told a few other people to call her Julia over these past few weeks and I never really registered it until now. Maybe there was something to this after all.

"Mom?" I prompted when she didn't say anything for a few minutes.

"Yes dear?" she said in her "I know exactly what you mean but I'm going to ignore you and pretend I don't" tone.

"Did you like Michelle?" I asked exasperatedly.

"She was.....nice." my mom allowed.


"And what? She was nice." A pause. "Bat shit crazy, but nice."

"But....but...." I sputtered. "Then why did you act all best friendy with her? It took you like a week to stop treating Jason like you thought he was gonna pee on the carpet-" Vicky giggled at this "-and you looked at Vicky like he was the Shoe Bomber-" Vicky stopped giggling and frowned "-until you realized I was hot for him-" Viky smiled warmly before realizing I said that in front of my mom and blushed "-so what's with that?"

My mom let out an exasperated sigh. "I took my time making up my mind about Jason. He seemed nice enough but he was your first new friend and I wanted to make sure he wasn't going to end up using you to do his homework or something like that, although why I ever thought that I'll never know you barely get your own done." she mumbled that last part. "I made up my mind about Michelle a lot faster. Like I said, she was nice but a little bit crazy. Even for a teenage girl."

"So, after you made up your mind you just, what, pretended to like her?" I asked disbelievingly.

"Yes." my mom said simply. "It kept her away from you didn't it?" I could hear the smirk in her voice.

I wanted to protest but looking back she actually DID distract Michelle from us. For a while anyway. "So......all that with the winter clothes and dragging us around to all those stores was just to keep Michelle from annoying us?"

"No." my mom drew out the 'o' in that way that she does when she's trying to procrastinate with something she doesn't want to say. "I did get a bit carried away." she said finally. "Sorry."

I sighed. "It's alright. It's over. Let's just get home and never do this again."

"Agreed." Vicky said. We rode along in silence for a few minutes before he leaned close to me and whispered. "So, you told your mom you were hot for me?"

"No." I whispered back. "She just kinda figured it out."


"That first day we drove you home."

"You were hot for me then?" he whispered with a small pleased smile.

"I was in love with you then." I said, then smirked. "And yeah, totally hot for you."

"I was hot for you too." he whispered. "I wanted to rip your clothes off right there in the backseat."

"You should have." I whispered teasingly.

Vicky giggled softly and then leaned in closer before whispering. "Hey Nate?"


"I'm hot for you right now."

"Really?" I whispered back.

"Yeah. Thinking about us sitting in this car both wanting each other but not being able to do anything about it is seriously turning me on and now that I know I can touch you whenever I want I don't know if I can keep my hands off of you until we get back."

I swallowed and felt a sudden tightening in my pants. "Mom." I said in a slightly hoarse voice.


"Can we hurry up and get home?" I asked as casually as I could. "I have to go to the bathroom."

She didn't say anything, just raised her eyebrow at me in the mirror and I blushed as I realized what I said.

Vicky giggled quietly as my mom silently sped up and took us home.

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