|Lullaby of the Unknown
Author: Charlotte Isla PM
COMPLETED. Landon Poulton was reckless and condescending; a teenager who used his last name and money to get away with whatever he liked. Dixie Tennyson was someone who took her art and family too seriously to regard little pleasures that the boy she hated lived by. He was a musician, but when Dixie learns his secret, she realizes they share the same fear.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Romance - Chapters: 22 - Words: 100,475 - Reviews: 132 - Favs: 130 - Follows: 75 - Updated: 01-09-13 - Published: 03-08-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2486203
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Lullaby of the Unknown
Chapter One- Sleepless in Houston
You can never say never
while we dont know when
time and time again
younger now than we were before
The fight started quickly and sudden; Landon had just cornered the new girl from the public school when he heard one of the twins calling his name. He ignored and continued kissing the pretty blond in front of him, wrapping her legs around him. But then someone was pulling him back by his shirt.
He scowled up at Andrew, but his best friend only winked back at the girl and pushed him through the crowd. "We gotta go. Zach just picked up trouble."
The crowd easily parted for them and Landon could feel their eyes on him as he stepped in the circle with Andrew and helped Fred dislodge his angry brother from a jock.
Zach fought against them as he spat curse words at the other guy that was being held back by his own friends. They were throwing threats at them and Andrew was already getting riled up when Caleb appeared.
"Let's just go," he said calmly. "Come on."
They pushed Zach through the crowd, but when Landon noticed Andrew was still in front of the jocks, his fists tightly clenched beside him, he went back.
"You take the three on the right and I take the three on the left?" he whispered to him.
"I can take four," Andrew told him.
"Yeah," Landon said, "but I want to take three."
"What's going on here?"
Sam Tennyson stepped forward, making Andrew scowl. In their town, there were three main high schools: the public, the private, and the performing arts. The ones that were constantly at each other's throat were the public and private. There were too many students in the performing arts school that were supposed to belong in either of the other schools.
However, Landon has his own crew. And no one disagreed nor agreed with them. They were envied or hated, but either way, they were respected. It didn't matter that he and Andrew attended the performing arts school and that Zach, Fred and Caleb attended public. Nor did it matter that Landon and Andrew were supposed to attend private. They'd known each other since they were in elementary, only caring about whom had the better toys.
But when one picked a fight with them, then it mattered.
"How about you ask your buddies that?" Andrew asked, nodding his head towards the jock that had been at Zach's throat.
"It doesn't matter," Sam decided. "The fight is over."
"It's never over," his friend spat. "That kid is lucky to be alive—"
"John," Sam warned in a low voice, then nodded to the others to take him away before turning back to Landon and Andrew. "It's over. I suggest you take your friend home."
"Give me one reason why I shouldn't have smashed Sam's face in," Andrew said as they walked out of the house.
"Because it's Sam," Landon replied with a shrug.
"Who gives a fuck?"
"He's cool," he said.
"No, he's not," Andrew scoffed. "Everyone thinks he's the golden boy, but we all see him getting drunk and that sister of his…"
"Yeah, she's the known slut," Landon said. "Still, they're popular and worshipped, not a good idea to pick a fight when he didn't do anything."
They had reached the car and Landon only shot an annoyed look at a seething Zach seated on the backseat before climbing in beside Andrew at the front.
"He's not as popular as we are," Andrew said as he turned on the ignition. "Where to? The baseball field?"
"Always," Fred answered from the back.
The baseball field was their place. Andrew and Landon had met the twins and Caleb there, when they were in the same team. They had been only kids, but since the first day they had met, they had climbed the fence at night to meet up.
The fence used to be a lot taller, or it seemed. Now they were fast to climb it and drop down to the soft grass on the other side. When they had been kids, they brought junk food and the best of candies, which for Landon had been the biggest rebellious thing he could do since he wasn't allowed any candies. When they were nearing being teenagers, they brought the porn magazines and it wasn't long until the twins had their hands on their dad's beer. They had sat in a circle, taking slow sips and cringing against the taste before passing it on, but then the taste got better and they experienced what being tipsy felt like. Then came the cigarettes.
Now they sat in the same imperfect circle, drinking a beer and passing a joint back and forth. Zach still had blood on his face and hands, but he was slowly easing into a good mood. Andrew had smacked him on the head when they learned that the fight was only caused because Zach had spilled some beer on the guy's shoes. Being the most chill out of them, Zach had only laughed it off, but John had a short temper.
"I still don't like that the Tennysons are everywhere," Andrew said
"Andrea hit on me," Fred said. "In front of Gabi. She was pissed."
"Who cares about your virginal girlfriend?" his brother asked, making Landon chuckle.
"Sam isn't that bad though," Caleb said. "Nor was Charlie."
"They still piss me off," Andrew grumbled. "They have what? Like ten kids?"
"It's seven," Fred said. "But I've only ever seen about five. One is already married though."
"Are you talking about the kid in the wheel chair?" Landon asked.
"No, I've seen him," Zach said.
"Bunch of fuckers," Andrew continued.
"Hey, man," Landon said, thumping him on the back, "let it be."
The others chuckled as he used Andrew's famous line against him. His best friend only took the joint from him and finished it off.
Landon didn't even sleep that night. Coming in late from hanging out with the guys, he had only a few hours to spare before he had to be at school. Usually, he would come home—if he came home at all—too drunk to even climb the massive staircase and instead crashed on one of the seating rooms. It probably would have been one of those nights if Zach hadn't gotten in trouble at the party.
But still carrying a bit of the buzz, Landon made his way to the music room, where he shut the door behind him and walked over to his piano. He only stopped playing when Eliza came in hours later, a tray in her hands.
"Smells delicious," he said mockingly with a smirk as he walked over to one of the couches and lied down. "But can you bring that back when I wake up?"
"Don't play with me, Landon," Eliza said, setting down the tray on the coffee table and looking pointedly at his shoes on the couch. "You know you need to go to school…and possibly take a shower. You don't even hide what you do when you go out."
He chuckled, crossing his arms under his head. "I don't keep secrets from you, Eliza," he said, grinning.
"I wish you did," she said unkindly. "And I don't want you around today. Your father is back and he's making me set up this dinner for some coworkers and I do not need your spoiled ass around."
"Eliza, how can you be so cruel? We've been together since I've been born," he said. "And ass doesn't look pretty coming out of your mouth."
Her face turned slightly red from anger as she pointed a finger at him, making him snort. "Landon Rhys Poulton, you are going to go to school and then you're going to find some place to stay with your friends and be well away from this dinner because God knows no one needs to be around Viktor when you're around him."
He rolled his eyes and picked a piece of bacon from the plate. "Fine, but that's something fun that you're going to make up for, Eliza," he said cockily.
She only sighed and walked out of the room, leaving Landon chuckling.
Andrew was still asleep when Landon arrived at his house to pick him up. After greeting his parents in the kitchen, he made his way upstairs. The Kendrick's house was practically a second home to him. It was where he stayed when he was running away from his father or when he was simply too lazy to go back home.
Andrew was snoring loudly when he stepped in. He scowled at his best friend and removed his sunglasses; the headache caused by the lack of sleep had already begun.
Spotting the glass of water on his bedside table, Landon tipped it on his best friend's face, watching as he jumped up with a gasp.
"Dude, what the fuck?" he asked.
"School," Landon muttered, setting the glass down.
"We're skipping it today," Andrew announced as he grabbed a dry pillow beside him.
"I can't, man," he said as he rubbed his eyes.
"You're so going to owe me," Andrew said as he dragged himself out of bed. "You look like shit, by the way."
Landon spotted his leather jacket he had been missing on the back of Andrew's desk chair. "I'm sure I'll still have the flock of girls on me."
Andrew ran a hand over his shaved head and snorted. "I know you well, bro."
It wasn't that she didn't like school. If she had to be honest, she just didn't like people, which was why she tried to make herself as invisible as possible. It didn't help the fact that she was considered the best painter in the school; a talent that the dancers, actors and musicians didn't think was necessary to have in their performing arts school. That was also something she didn't like. Everyone was competing with each other. It wasn't a normal school—the jealousy ran deeper than who had the better reputation.
Dixie however was completely content in being invisible, painting away and escaping the normal high school. Because there wouldn't be any better, with her trying to live it up to her siblings. So this created the perfect refuge, and she couldn't deny that with all the talent in the air, she also felt inspired.
She could tell that day would be one of the worst, however. She had barely slept after Andrea had stumbled in their shared bedroom and passed out on her bed. And when she had gotten a grip on sleep again, she had overslept and was awakened by Sam, who had lectured her all the while driving her to school and complaining that she had also made him late.
It had been a normal day after that, until music class.
Even though Dixie's real talent was in art, she had gotten in there because she played the cello well. But in the end, it had worked out just as she thought it would. She was good at playing cello, but there were others far more talented in the chamber orchestra to pay much attention to her. And everyone needed to choose another activity to work in. She had then chosen art, but seeing that she was way more advanced than the actors, dancers or musicians in that class, they had bumped her up to the real art class, leaving her to choose to either blend in with everyone or become one of the best.
The art department was hated for the fact that they created more than practiced. Music and dance were both strict departments that had people working in all odd hours of the day, which was possibly why the only ones who took Dixie seriously—or who even knew her—where those in her art classes. Not that she minded; most artists took key points instead of wallowing in envy and hatred.
She would have given anything to be out of music class that day. Everyone knew Mr. Welden would be delivering some kind of message when he told them not to unpack their instruments. The girl beside Dixie, the second cello, sat stiff as a board, her eyes following their teacher. She was constantly trying to get out of Dixie's shadow.
"Settle down, ladies," Mr. Welden said, as he looked pointedly at the a few girls in the back.
Mr. Welden had grey hair and an air that was heavy in respect. It was hard to do anything around him and not fear a scolding look. He cleared his throat as he stepped off his podium and went to the large board behind him and wrote a date.
"The End of Year Festival," he said, pointing to the date. "And we all know what that means. Examinations and… performing."
Everyone watched him quietly as he went back to his podium. "This year, we're doing that a little different. The drama crew has created a play and presented it, the dance crew has made a choreography and presented it… so this year, we're laying down the classics, and we're creating a new piece," he paused, looking at them all before continuing. "However, there are fifty of you, so what we're going to do is, I'm going to set everyone with a partner, and with that partner I want everyone to create their piece.
"We will pick ten of the best and on our night at the festival, we will let you present it. The catch is, that your partner will play a different instrument than you. Most of you here play another instrument, but I still want everyone to explore the different sounds, work with it, and make it into one."
Dixie was already hating this. She hated any music projects. Even though she had switched her main class to art, she knew she should have dropped music as well.
She was already planning on what to say to the principal when she got out of there as Mr. Welden put up the papers that had everyone's partner up. People rushed towards it, none too excited. Some were looking downright angry. She shook her head and grabbed her things, not even bothering to look at the list.
She picked up her instrument and went in the storage room, going for her locker. Just as she was putting her cello gingerly inside, she heard someone come in. Looking up, she wrinkled her nose a bit before shutting her locker. Landon Poulton. The best musician in the school. About four lockers had his name on it, but it wasn't because he was the best that made Dixie want to leave the room fast.
He didn't look happy to see her either. He was leaning against the doorway, his dark eyebrows furrowing.
She stood in front of him, waiting for him to move so she could go, but he only smirked.
"So you're the other Tennyson," he said.
She fought an urge to sigh; she hated him. "So?"
"The one no one knows about," he sneered.
His looks would have made her uncomfortable if he wasn't so arrogant. As she stared at him, the dark eyebrows and lashes framing the icy, grey eyes hardly did anything to her.
"Can you move, please?" she asked.
He crossed his arms over his chest and rolled his eyes. "You're my partner, unfortunately. I hope you can at least hold a bow right."
She looked at him with amusement. "I'm not working with you," she said and pushed past him, smiling when he slightly lost his balance against the doorframe.
She wasn't surprised when he followed her out. "What's your deal?" he asked, showing some of his annoyance.
"My deal is that I don't want to work with you," she said.
"You're lying," he replied smugly. "Everyone wants to work with me."
She snorted, turning around to look at him. "Not me."
The frown was back on his face as he crossed his arms over his chest and stood taller. "Why did have to partner me with you?"
She raised her eyebrows at him. "Is the Landon Poulton surprised someone can say no to him?"
"Look, freckles, I can probably request a partner and I don't necessarily need you," he said, his eyes blazing with anger as he stared down at her.
"Problem solved then," she said with a shrug. "You can go to him, request someone else and I'm sure we'll both be very happy."
"Look, I don't want to do this silly, stupid project or whatever the hell it is either," he said, squeezing his eyes shut for a moment.
"Well, aren't you unlucky?" she said.
"What do you mean?" he asked impatiently.
"I'm got in for music, but I changed my main to art," she said. "And I'm sure you know—"
"Yes, I know the first one is what counts," he spat. "So you're a crazy painter on top of it all?"
She blinked at him for a moment before turning around and walking away. She hated Landon Poulton. He was the typical idolized, popular guy who was arrogant and selfish. She wouldn't work with him. Their first conversation had already made her want to keep more of her distance away from him.
Landon watched her walk away with narrowed eyes. Dixie Tennyson. No wonder no one had heard about her, he thought. There wasn't anything to know about. He was just turning around to head back into the music room when he spotted Andrew down the hall.
"Who was the redhead?" he asked, nodding just as Dixie turned a corner.
"Dixie Tennyson," Landon said with a face. "And she doesn't like me."
"Are you really that surprised?" Andrew joked, but moved away from with a laugh when Landon gave him a look. "Listen, the guys texted me, another party is on tonight. You up for it?"
"No, man," he said. "I gotta catch on sleep."
"Well, I gotta go home and grab some equipment, I'll see you later."
Andrew had auditioned because of Landon, but they weren't surprised when Andrew got in for singing. And even though he did music like Landon, everyone knew he was also good with the sound systems and lightning. But his best friend forte was really in rap, something that made Landon cringe.
Landon forgot that Eliza had asked him to stay away from home until later that night. The moment he walked in and was making his way towards the staircase, she rounded on him. He only sighed tiredly, his eyes burning with lack of sleep and asked that food be brought up to him and he would stay in his room all night long. This seemed to satisfy her, but she was quick to make a warning.
His bed felt more than perfect as he sunk into the soft pillows. He closed his eyes, but one thing was still bothering him. No matter what he had said to Mr. Welden, he wasn't lenient to change his partner. He gave permission to Landon to choose whatever instrument he wanted, as if it would help. He wasn't looking forward to talk to the snobby Tennyson chick again.
His promises of staying in his room all night fell short. He wouldn't have woken up if his cell phone hadn't kept ringing.
"Hello?" he answered with his face still pressed against his warm pillow.
"Have you heard?" Caleb asked.
"No, what's going on?"
"Well, we were at this party and Fred decided to go at the last minute to surprise his girlfriend. He had told her to go without him because she needed a night out with her girls. I don't know, something like that. And he caught her with another guy and he ran off."
Landon ran a hand over his face, sighing. "Where is he now?"
"That's the problem. We're trying to look for him, and called you because you might have an idea or at least try to look for him, too. We have tried the field so far."
He stood, going in his closet. "Yeah, I'll look. Where was the party at?"
"The usual place. Kristy's house," Caleb said.
"Did you check Tony's?"
"No I don't think so, but we didn't see his car. Maybe he's driving around. We dunno."
"I'll start there then."
Landon hung up and pulled a shirt over his head. It was a big surprise that this was happening to Fred. He was with his girlfriend, Gabriella, since they were in eighth grade. Why she had decided to get another guy now was beyond his imagination.
As he drove, he remembered plenty of times that the guys teased Fred about being with one girl for so long. None of the guys really took relationships seriously except for Fred and maybe Caleb.
Just as he guessed, he saw the blue pickup truck that belonged to the twins outside of Tony's. He parked next to it, and cut the engine. When he opened the door to the bar, the smell of beer and cigarettes hit him on the face. Landon let the door shut behind him as his eyes scanned the room for Fred. He found him in the last booth, a couple of bottle of beers in front of him while his head hung low. Landon sat down quietly before shaking his friend's arm to get him to look up.
Fred raised his head, and just as Landon expected, his eyes were red, showing that he had cried, but was now just angry.
"What?" he said, taking a gulp of his beer.
"What happened, man?"
He snorted, his head swaying as he tried to sit up, but he just managed to crash down on the back of the seat. "I caught her with that jock from school."
Landon nodded, though he didn't know what jock Fred was talking about. "Well, did you talk to her after that?"
Fred shrugged, shaking his head. "I did, but…she just said that she wanted to try something new. That she felt like she was missing out on something…I mean, what could she possibly be missing out from?"
Landon blinked at his devastated friend. Thinking what to say to him, he scratched his head in confusion "Well, Fred, she wants to try something new. Maybe you should, too. One day it had to end. Maybe it's better to end it now."
Fred sighed impatiently. "Dude, she was a fucking virgin when I got her. She always said something religious like giving it to someone that she was going to marry."
"Maybe she changed her mind."
Fred hit his fist down at the table. "Change her mind on what?"
Landon didn't answer him.
"Whatever. You don't even know her, man," he said, almost spitting the words out. "Who have you ever loved, huh? You have never cared about anyone but yourself. You know that you can get any girl you want. You make them fall for you and you just fuck them before leaving them wanting you. You enjoy being wanted and that's why you hate anyone who looks down on you."
Landon pursed his lips. He knew well what he did and he never cared. He wasn't one to believe Fred and seeing his best friend now, crying over a girl that had cheated on him only proved a point.
"Come on, man," he said as he dropped a few bills on the table.
He stood and tried to help Fred up, but he only pushed Landon roughly away and stumbled his way to the door. Landon had to take a few deep breaths to calm himself before he did something he would probably regret later.
Fred was fumbling with the keys of his car when Landon finally caught up with him. He watched him for a moment, realizing that Fred was drunker than he first thought as he pressed the remote to open the car.
"I'll take you home," he said.
"I got myself here, I can fucking get out," Fred mumbled.
Landon really hoped that he would make it easy. "Look, man, it's late. I really don't feel like dealing with your bullshit and the guys are looking for you. I think you should just let me drive."
"Go to hell."
Grabbing the collar of Fred's shirt, Landon spun him around and pressed him to the side of the car, almost choking him. "You're being the most tactless, asshole right now. She's just a fucking girl and to tell you the truth, there are billions out there better than her. So if you want to treat me like shit, after coming here to save your ass, then go ahead and do it, but if you really want to get yourself fucking killed by getting in a car crash, go home, wait until no one is there and stopping you, then do it. I really don't want to be blamed for your pathetic death."
Landon let go of him and without another word, he walked over to his car. Angrily opening his door, he got in and waited for Fred to make up his mind.
He soon saw him lock the truck's door. Getting in, neither of the boys said a word to each other. Landon called Caleb, telling him that he had found Fred and that he was taking him home, considering the night over.
When he arrived at Fred's house, Zach was already outside, waiting on the steps. He watched his brother head silently inside before going over to Landon's car.
"How bad is he?" Zach asked, his hands in his pocket.
Landon shrugged. "He's pissed. Tomorrow he'll just be depressed. If he says something to you, don't take it personally."
Zach took a breath, nodding. "I just…wasn't expecting this, you know? I mean, Gabi really liked him. They barely ever argued."
"Yeah, it was kind of sudden, but shit happens," Landon said.
Zach nodded. "I'm not letting him get back with her if she wants to. Not after this."
"That would just be stupid. He'll move on."
"Yeah, well, thanks, man. There's another party going on. Caleb and Andrew are going. Maybe you should too."
Landon shook his head and turned the car back on, putting it in gear. "I think I've had my fair share of drama tonight."
Zach shrugged and started making his way back inside.
He was still backing out when he looked at the house next to the twins'. It was the Tennyson's house, known for always being slightly too loud. It was odd, now that he thought of it, how no one really remembered the chick that he had talked to today. He thought people would notice her, especially being a Tennyson. They were known for bad and good reputation, but maybe there wasn't anything to say about her.
Whatever her deal was, Landon told himself that Fred was wrong. The girl hated him and he didn't even care enough to remember her name.
A.N: The song used on the heading is by The Fray called Never Say Never.