Author: Sir Exal PM
Zander has girl problems. Six of them. One has an imaginary boyfriend, one thinks she's a holy priestess, one's hyper and nymphomaniacal, one's a secretive mad scientist, one's bossy and obsessive, and one's...green. What good can come from this?Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor - Chapters: 9 - Words: 29,883 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 01-06-07 - Published: 08-11-06 - id: 2228355
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Track 9: Relative
It is fair to say what had recently happened in Zander's life was...surprising, to say the least. Not many can say that they met five girls who moved in with them in less than a week, to say nothing of Zamora and Reyson. By that Wednesday, it was fair to say that Zander had braced himself for anything that could possibly happen. It was fair to say nothing would surprise him.
And it did. Nothing completely astounded him.
"Time marches on," said Zander on a Saturday morning about a week after anything out-of-the-ordinary occurred, while pulling his sweatshirt (from the drawer!) on. The days were getting colder.
"Have you noticed that it has that tendency?" Zander said out loud to himself, who was leaning against the doorframe.
"Yeah," said Derzan crossly, "it's called life. Moron."
Zander chortled a little bit, sat down on his mattress and looked up at the ceiling. "I just mean that...the last few days have been so...normal feeling."
"Yeah," spat Derzan, "sharing room and board with five crazy girls is normal. Hell, it's downright mundane. Someone, break up the monotony!"
"Sarcasm doesn't become you, Derzan," said Zander.
"Life was crap, but it was manageable crap," said Derzan, "now it's just a bunch of damn chaos!"
"Tell me, Derzan," Zander said, irritation growing in his gentle voice, "What does it take for you to be satisfied?"
At that moment, Sydni came bursting through the bedroom door, slamming the doorknob against and through the fresh plaster Derzan had put on the wall the week before.
With a leap and spin Terri Strug would have been proud of, Sydni flew onto Zander and hugged him around the middle. "Good morning, Zander-chan!" she squealed.
"Being alone, for once..." muttered Derzan in a whisper.
"What?" asked Sydni, fixing her curious green eyes on Zander.
Derzan glared at Sydni. "What have I told you about coming in here and doing that?" he asked angrily.
Sydni got off the bed and pouted. "You're no fun sometimes, Zander-chan."
"I don't want to be fun, you--" Derzan growled, but Zander came to Sydni's rescue.
"Just not as fast next time, Sydni," said Zander kindly, "my wall can't take much more."
Sydni abruptly grabbed Zander by the wrist and dragged him out of his room, giggling. "C'mon, Zander," she said, "We're having donuts for breakfast today!"
Derzan cringed at the thought of where they got the money, but Zander walked along with the enthusiastic girl.
The large white box that once held over a dozen pastry confections laid open on the table. All the girls sat around the table, even Lissie, who was eating a donut covered in cinnamon and using her bottom lip to lick her spice-coated fingers. 'I'm surprised to see you up before noon," said Lissie.
Alina shot Lissie a glare and handed Sydni a non-glazed cake donut. "I saved one with white frosting and sprinkles for you, Zander."
Zander took the baked goods and smiled. "Thanks," he said simply, and Alina blushed.
"Five more minutes and that so would have been mine..." said Valleye with a half-smile.
For the next fifteen minutes, everyone chatted, ate, and in general did all the normal things that one might expect for a group of housemates and friends eating breakfast.
The doorbell rang, a normal occurrence that hadn't happened since Reyson pushed his index finger against it. Zander jumped a little bit. The donut he was holding hit the table and stood on its baked edge.
Derzan moved to the door and looked in the peephole he had had installed. Through the bizarre morphing of the glass, he saw the visitor. Derzan immediately knew who it was; the warping of light morphed his pimply nose to a ridiculous size.
It was Klein.
"Hide!" Derzan ordered in a stage whisper to the five girls. Alina and Oriana ran off to their room. Sydni, however, panicked and hid under the table; before she quite knew what was happening, Valleye followed her. Lissie finished the last of her coffee and unhurriedly walked towards the basement.
"Hurry!" growled Valleye quietly, but she forgot where she was and sharply rapped her head on the underside of the table. The top of her head throbbed in pain, and the donut on top rolled off the edge of the table and plunged down to the carpet, where it bounced twice then lay still, frosting side up.
Klein impatiently rang the doorbell again, and Zander had to open the door out of politeness. He turned to make sure the girls were satisfactorily hidden, then opened the door just enough for Klein and Zander to see each other.
Klein stood on the doorstep, wearing casual jeans, a warm jacket, and a cheeky grin. "Whassup, G-money?" he asked with his usual flippancy.
"Klein, is it not enough that I have to put up with you at work," asked Derzan, "but on the weekend too?"
Under the table, Valleye looked over at Sydni. Sydni's gaze was fixed forward, and Valleye followed her stare. Valleye just barely held back a gasp; Sydni was staring hungrily at the donut that laid on the rug.
Klein managed to push open the door, but only said, "Cool, donuts! Why'd you need a whole box, Zander?"
Derzan's eyebrows arched in anger. "I was hungry. What do you want, Klein?"
Sydni started salivating like Pavlov's dog, and all her muscles tensed, ready to pounce on the donut. Valleye closed her eyes. She guessed only Sydni's self-control would stop her from jumping out into plain sight. She also guessed it'd last three seconds.
"Listen," said Klein, "I just wanted to talk about the stuff that's happened in the past few days." Klein scratched his head and maintained a serious tone. "I've been really distracted these past days and haven't been able to say what I really wanted to say to you..."
"Yes," said Derzan, annoyed, "You've been quiet. It's been nice. Keep doing it. Bye now," and he attempted to push Klein out the door. Klein, however, stood firm.
Valleye opened one eye to see the donut still resting on the floor, but Sydni was staring at it more hungrily than most cereal mascots were capable of. Valleye gulped. She silently reached over to try to hold Sydni back. She wasn't going to let Sydni do this to herself.
Klein took on a humble look, an unnatural position for the boy. ""I'm just saying that it isn't fair to give you the crap I pulled, ("You're mixing your stupid metaphors," growled Derzan.) and then to give you the silent treatment. Some stuff has been going on in my life recently..." Klein shook his head, bothered by the thought. "Anyway," he moved on, "I just wanted to apologize. Twice. Once for teasing you so much, and once for not telling you what was up. Sorry."
Zander smiled. "Thanks," he said, but Derzan yelled out, "Now go away!" and seized Klein's shoulders, turning him toward the still open door.
"Fine," laughed Klein, "I can see you're busy. Maybe spending time with those six girls or whatever," he joked.
Muscles released their energy, and a body sprung forward.
"A'ight," said Klein, "See ya, Z-Daw--" Klein turned to say good-bye, just in time to see the girl jump into the open.
Klein stopped in the middle of the gangsta nickname, and his eyes widened. His Adam's apple bobbed in his throat. Zander stood, horrified as the voice in the back of his head said, "I told you so." Several unintelligible whispers emerged from Klein's mouth before he finally sputtered out, "V-Valleye?"
Valleye was equally stunned. She had jumped out to grab the donut, such a small task, and only to stop Sydni from doing the same. But, as she stared into Klein's wide eyes, she knew it would have such large repercussions. Suddenly, her brain snapped into action, and, limbs flailing and feet slipping on carpet and linoleum both, scrambled awkwardly to the basement.
Klein stood, mouth agape for a second, then stumbled to the table, sat down in a chair, and buried his head in his hands.
Oriana stuck her head out of the doorway of the girls' room for a second, turned and put her index finger over her lips as a sign to Alina, then retreated back into the bedroom. Sydni silently dashed out from her hiding spot, grabbed the troublesome donut from the floor, and with it in her mouth and a wave to Zander, dashed out the door. Both were completely unseen by Klein.
Zander leaned down to the prone boy. "Klein?"
Klein suddenly lifted his head up and seized Zander by the collar. "How dare you..." he stammered out, as a tear crossed his cheek, "H-how dare you have her with...have her at your...how dare you...and not tell me?!"
Derzan was unyielding. "Want her?" he asked indignantly.
Klein again collapsed in the chair. "Well...yes, but no...but..." he gasped through a sob, then said, "O-only if she wants me..."
"What the hell?" yelled Derzan.
'Oh, dude," said Klein, with an almost-laugh. "Valleye's...my sister."
"What? Please say that came out wrong," said Zander, regaining control.
Klein looked confused for a moment, then said, "No, you misunderstood, she's my stepsister." When a contorted expression remained on Zander's face Klein said, "No, it's just that...Dammit, why didn't she even tell me...What the hell is she doing here..."
Klein took a deep breath, and before Zander got a word in, stated, "My questions first. What is Valleye doing in your house?"
Zander shrugged. "Not much to say... She snuck in one day 'bout a week ago and tidied up the place for some reason. When I came home, we, um, kinda got in a fight...with each other. After that, she wanted to stay and I had room, so I let her." Zander attempted to ignore all the suggestions Derzan gave him.
"Insanely cleaning and getting in fights? That's my Valleye all right..." Klein sighed. "And you didn't ask her why she didn't have a home?"
Zander shrugged again, "If she wanted to, she would have told me."
"Too kind-hearted for your own good, Z-Dawg," said Klein.
"Don't remind me," growled Derzan.
Klein sighed. "I bet you want to know what's up with me and her. Look, my dad and her mom got married when we were, like, seven and ten. Valleye never tells me anything, but from what I know, she was really close to her dad, and hasn't seen him since. Mom...her mom, that is, didn't even take child support."
"Certainly she's old enough to take care of herself now?" asked Zander.
"Yeah, but...the thing is, she ran off on her eighteenth birthday. We'd get letters from her on occasion, but, then she came back last year, nearly crawling. She was a mess, and I don't want to know what she had to do to stay alive. She stayed for a couple months...Then she disappeared a while back. No sign from her, nothing. She had me horrified. I...want her to come home..."
He shook his head. "She doesn't want to see me. I'll leave."
"Wait," said Zander quietly, placing a hand on Klein's shoulder, "I'll talk to her. I want to hear her side."
Zander turned and moved toward the basement stairs, but Klein said, "Wait." Zander stopped. "Skin, blood, parents and all other things be damned," said Klein, "Valleye's my sister. I just miss her."
Zander descended the stairs and walked over to Valleye, who was brooding in a corner, glaring downwards. "About time you got down here," came Lissie's voice from her lab.
"Valleye," started Zander, but she interrupted him before he could get another word out.
"I suppose he's told you about me," Valleye snapped. When Zander nodded, Valleye continued mockingly, "And he wants me 'to come home,' I know." Valleye scowled. "Well, did he tell you that my mom left my dad--who was the most caring person in the world--and went and married the first moron who would screw her? Or that she would go as far as changing her name and moving to avoid my dad? Or that Klein was suddenly 'their' child and I was just 'her girl?' I cleaned that damned house top to bottom for those ungrateful bastards!"
"Valleye...:" whispered Zander, tenderly and sympathetically. He honestly didn't know.
"And now," Valleye yelled, ignoring Zander, "He wants me to just forget it and make up with him, for me to forget over eight years of my life, just in the name of some stupid fondness that never existed in the first place? He was always an idiot! A stupid sycophant that didn't deserve me!"
"Valleye, listen," said Zander, attempting to be understanding.
"No! He doesn't deserve my time! He's pumped you full of sap, and now you're going to try to coax me into a stupid reconciliation just because you care, is that it? He understands, right? He doesn't understand me or my situation, and never even cared! And," she finished with a final shout, "I don't need you trying to 'care,' getting into my business, and trying to fix things that were never broken!"
Zander erupted almost immediately. "Listen, you ungrateful bitch, I honestly don't give a damn about you or your crappy home life! I care even less about Klein's feelings. I don't care if you stay down here, recon-freaking-cile, or go up there and stab that loser to death. But I do know is the idiot's upstairs, not because he cares about his dad or your mother, but because he loves iyoui. That's all, you freak."
Valleye blinked in shock several times. Derzan turned on his heel and stomped up the stairs and out of the basement.
Klein, still sitting at the table, turned when Derzan came upstairs. "She ain't comin'. Get outta here," said Derzan harshly.
"Yeah..." said Klein, disappointed. "I'm sorry for laying all of that on you, man," he apologized. Derzan grunted. He turned. "I'll go now..."
He had taken five steps when Zander suddenly said, "Wait." Klein turned, and saw Valleye standing in the kitchen, an unreadable expression on her face. Klein paused, anxious for what would happen next.
Valleye then said the first words Klein had heard from his sister in years. "Klein," Valleye said, "I want to forgive you. I want to so much. But I can't." Valleye paused, and then, voice cracking, said, "Because you haven't done anything wrong."
Valleye rushed forward, wrapping her arms around Klein in kindred love as she sobbed softly into the younger boy's shirt. Zander attempted to leave to give the stepsiblings privacy, but Valleye lifted her head, looked into Klein's eyes and said, "But I can't go home. Not with you. Hate doesn't go away that easily. I know...you have your own place, but I can't live with you."
Klein, surprisingly, smiled. "I understand. Couldn't have you stay at my place anyway; would violate the lease." He chuckled, then ran a hand over Valleye's hair. "It's enough just to know you're safe. 'Sides, Z-Dawg looks like he's taking care of you fine."
Derzan rolled his eyes.
Klein stepped back and shook his head. "I gotta get going. Heh, guess I owe Tomi an apology, then...he was telling the truth, least for one part."
"No, you don't. Tomi's a stinking liar," stated Derzan.
Klein and Valleye walked to the door together, and shared a quick hug. "I'll give you my address when I see you next time," said Klein, "See ya, Zander. See you...big sister." Zander was just surprised he used his real name.
Valleye grinned back and said, "Little brother." Klein turned and walked away from the house with a wave. Valleye watched with bloodshot eyes until he was completely out of sight.
"Are you coming in?" asked Zander from the house.
Under any other situation, Valleye would have sarcastically asked, "Coming in where?" But now she just shook her head, and Zander closed the front door.
Soon, Sydni ran up to Valleye, having eaten the donut, run off the high, and slept off the crash. "Brrrr...it's cold out here," Sydni said perkily.
"Really?" asked Valleye softly, "It feels warm to me..."
Sydni watched in mild confusion as Valleye smiled, sighed, and walked back into the house to clean Klein's footprints off the carpet.
Oops! Sorry, no Halloween special. Be happy I finally wrote Track 9!
Before I make Track 10, I'll be editing the previous eight chapters, mostly dialogue changes and other small parts I was dissatisfied with. The most major changes will occur in Track 1, including an added scene. Keep an eye out for them!
Thanks to all my readers for sticking with me, and I promise that these next chapters will be coming out more quickly. It was the episode nine hump, that's what it was.