Hey, back again! Thanks for the enthusiastic response for chapter one, everyone! Reviews usually make me write quicker, but this chapter was hard since it took so long to figure out how I wanted to proceed with the plot. Sorry for the long, long wait!

Romeo & I

By Aquina Rose

Chapter Two: First Meeting

"I like that shirt. When'd you go to The Gap?"

A smile tugged at Devina's lips as she straightened the hem of a dark purple wool turtleneck. "It's from Old Navy."

"Oh, right." Lu skipped up the white steps of the public library and pulled open one of the massive twin doors. "Right, so we're looking for Shakespeare. 'Lower thy blade, O treacherous villain' and all that."

They had made it through the second semester's first week. In that time, Lu had introduced Devina to Sharon Myer, the drama director.

"You look just the part for Juliet!" Sharon had said. "Perhaps, though, if we make you wear a blond wig, yes. . . With attachments to your ankles, that would be marvelous! Maybe even put you in blue contacts, green is so overdone."

Yes, she had looked just the part for Juliet, who was to be a blue-eyed blond, against her green-eyed brunette.

"Let's see, 'Much Ado About Nothing,' 'The Tempest,' 'Hamlet,' 'MacBeth,' 'King Lear'. . ." Lu sighed in frustration. "It's uncanny for them to be out of 'Romeo and Juliet.' Who around here really reads Shakespeare?"

"Brandon Fletcher," Devina intoned.

"Yeah, but he doesn't count. He thinks he's in the story of Don Juan."*

"Don Quixote."**

"Whatever."

"Lu! Hey!"

Luchrezia turned and started to laugh at the two boys nearby. "What are you doing here, Scott? You're very far from your natural habitat - er - the football field."

"Ha ha," Scott Petersen returned with the barest hint of annoyance. "I'll have you know I'm doing one of your precious culture activities."

"No surprise there, dear, I meant why are you dragging poor Keith with you?"

Scott smiled and held up the script in his hand. "He's doing the same thing."

"You snagged both copies?" Lu asked. "Crap, guys, we need just one. Could you share?"

"You're trying out for the play? I thought you were busy enough already," said Scott.

Lu grinned. "I am. But I agreed to help sew costumes anyway. No, I need one for Devina." She slung an arm around the shorter girl's shoulders.

Keith blinked. "Hey, aren't you the soccer player?"

"Was," Devina told him indifferently. "You're on the football team."

"That I am." Keith leaned on the wall next to him and studied this former female benchwarmer. She wasn't spectacular; there were girls in his class who he could write up as sexy, and she wasn't one of them. The only thing that wasn't very plain about her was her hair, which reached down to her hips in splashes of brown waves. But she didn't look like the stupid romantic girls that were sure to try out for the play. Her eyes held too much alertness for that.

"So which part are you going for?" Scott questioned before Keith could ask himself.

"Any number of minor roles," Devina answered, "but Juliet mainly." She caught Keith's smirk. "Amusing?"

"A little," he replied honestly. "I've never seen you do anything other than soccer."

"You never knew my name," she countered with no little patch of ice.

Scott grunted. "That's true, man. Not that I did," he said, raising his hands. Then he frowned. "Wow, that sounds awful."

Keith was laughing. Devina figured Scott was nice enough; he helped out at charity functions throughout town. But this Montgomery boy seemed too conceited, and a deep feeling of dislike was quickly growing inside her.

The chick was far too cold for his taste, Keith decided. He'd never liked Popsicles - and he had told some tall tales in his lifetime, but he doubted that he could play her lover if she got the part; and if he did.

"Here." Scott handed Lu the script in his hand and winked. "Good luck, Devina. You'd probably be a great Juliet."

Encouraged, Devina smiled at him. "Thank you. Good luck yourself."

She shouldn't have done that, Keith noted. Just seconds ago he had been thinking that she was an ice princess instead of Juliet Capulet, but once she'd smiled and tossed away all insecurity, even for that brief moment, she looked to have the passion of Queen Sheba.

Or something.

"Come on, Dev. Let's get this checked out and get food. I missed breakfast." Lu tugged on her arm.

"Nice meeting you!" Scott called, and Devina shot him a quick nod. "Parting is such sweet sorrow!" He paused. "Hm, is that my line?" He snatched up the copy held loose in Keith's hands. The other boy's eyes didn't falter from the place where Luchrezia and Devina stood at the desk.

Scott grinned at him and glanced down at the opening of Act One, Scene IV. Almost absently, he remarked: "'You are a lover'."

"No need to practice so early yet," Keith muttered, eyes still glued to the pair of females.

"Didn't think you were the kind of stereotype to have an eye for Lu. You'd be like me," Scott said, snapping the script shut.

"I'm not like you at all," Keith objected, eyes finally tearing back to him. Scott imagined doing so was painful. "And I've got nothing for Lu. She's political."

"Ah." His tone was enough to make Montgomery sigh with impatience. "So is it the benchwarmer?"

"Devina?" Saying it, he thought her name sounded far too comfortable to roll off his tongue. His mouth tightened. "My boxers are more interesting."

"Probably," he chuckled. Scott threw an arm around his shoulders. "But you have chickens on a pair. Let's go to my house. We'll try this fourth scene, okay?"

***

"'Jesu, what haste! Can you not stay awhile? Can you not see I am out of breathe?'" Lu quoted.

Devina answered: "How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath To say to me that thou art out of breath?'" She sighed and sank onto her bed, covered in light purple cotton. "This is impossible. I haven't been into Old English since the sixth grade."

"Better get back into it then," Lu suggested to her. "You know, this Lady Capulet part looks cool. Maybe I will try out after all."

"Good for you." Reaching to a bedside table, she popped a finger-food carrot into her mouth. "I, on the other hand, am never going to get this. 'Ay.' What is that, 'ay?' Is it like 'aye' or 'aiy'? And why did I let you talk me into doing this?"

"Because you love me," Luchrezia replied simply. "Now, come on. Read the script! I'm switching from the Nurse to the Lady." She shook back her blond hair. "Ho, daughter! are you up?"

Devina sighed. "'Who is't that calls?" she said with no little amount of hesitation. "It is my lady mother. Is she not down so late, or up so early? What unaccustomed cause procures her hither?'"

"Hell, Dev!" Luchrezia exclaimed. "The thing about plays is that you've gotta use conviction. A mouse would seem more worried than you!"

"Sure, ever read 'Through The Looking Glass'?" Devina scowled.

"Look." Lu sat down on her friend's bed and urged Devina to do the same. Once they sat side-by-side, she spoke lightly. "You don't have to do this, pal. I just wanted you to get involved with something. You have talent. We just need to figure out what it is. But to play the role of Juliet-"

"I could play the Nurse more easily!" Devina exclaimed.

"But it's such an overlooked role."

"Lu, I've been overlooked my whole life," insisted Devina. "A dumb play isn't going to change anything."

"You don't know that," Lu argued. "Life can change in the blink of an eye."

"I can't perform romance," Devina told her steadily, "because I've never experienced it."

"What about Chris Harding?" asked Lu. "What happened to him?"

Devina looked at her blankly. "Lu, that was the second grade. And we worked on a coloring sheet together."

"Oh, right." The Italian girl flushed a bit. "Did he color in or outside the lines?"

"Lu!"

"Okay!" She held up her hands, and checked her watch. "Look, I've gotta go. I need to look over articles for the school newspaper tonight, and it's nearly seven. Just keep picking at the lines, okay? Surely you'll end up with some creativity for it in time for the audition."

"Surely," Devina snorted. "If I sell my soul, maybe."

"Well, it'd be a start." Lu winked at the door. "But before you schedule a meeting with the devil, just try a little longer. Shakespeare wrote like a genius; there's no reason you can't act like one."

She flew out the door and down the stairs. Moments later the front door snapped shut.

Devina sighed once more and brushed her hair from her face. More than a little irritated, she lifted the script again.

"'What storm is this that blows so contrary?'"

***

"'Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch," Scott read. "Marry, 'tis enough. Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.'" He passed the script to Keith.

Keith continued in a horrible stage voice. "'Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much.'"

Scott winced. "I'm not sure, but are either of us really acting?" he questioned.

Keith shrugged. "I think so. Or we're pretending to act." He tossed the script onto his desk. "I can't get into this. Even with the death."

"You can do it. Girl. . .kiss," Scott encouraged dimly. "It'll be worth it in the end."

"I have to get the part," Keith objected, running a hand through his hair. "I'm not seeing how I will."

"Easy. What's with the attitude?" His friend grabbed a chair, spun it around, and plopped into it, straddling the back. "You're seriously one of the best-looking guys in the school. And, well, Ms. Myer has always had a secret dream that you'd join the Drama Club."

"The lady's obsessive compulsive, so that doesn't surprise me." Keith lay down on his bed. "The whole factor of needed talent is what I'm worried about."

"Please. It's Shakespeare. Just look good with a skull in your hand and you can go to Broadway," Scott said, dismissing the whole topic with a single sentence. "By the way. Looking at her, what chance do you think Devina Carlson has for Juliet?"

Keith went rigid. Ever since that afternoon in the library, the syllables in Carlson's rather unusual first name had made him feel. . .uncomfortably different.

Her name was far too elegant.

Far too elegant for her, for the town they lived in. . .for him.

Keith mentally slapped himself. What the hell thoughts had come into his mind lately? He was falling asleep. He needed caffeine.

"Not good," he said, a bit too quickly. Scott's eyebrow lifted.

"Oh?" he said. "Really, you think so? She's pretty enough."

"She's plain," Keith replied tersely, flipping through the script.

"Ah, but nicely plain. How do you think she looks in sequins?" Scott asked absently. "Valentine's Dance isn't that far off."

"Probably looks bland. Her face - it's bland."

Scott grinned. "Are you convincing me or yourself?"

"I'll hang before I date her," Keith snapped.

Scott stuck his hands in his pockets. "Not asking you to touch her," he assured him defensively.

Keith grunted, glancing at his watch.

"But you know," Scott commented. "She deserves a better guy than, say, Brandon Fletcher."

Keith did smile now. "No girl deserves Brandon Fletcher. He's unstable."

"There's that." Scott stood up, lifting a hand to clasp it with Keith's. "I'm going, man. Look over your lines. Think depressed older guy."

Keith laughed. "Got it."

Once Scott was gone, Keith let his smile fall. He didn't really feel like smiling. He was confused.

And not pleased in the slightest.

He glanced back at the script. "'But that a joy past joy calls out on me, It were a grief so brief to part with thee. Farewell.'"

************************************************************************

*Don Juan - A man famous for his womanizing in the early 16th century or so.

**Don Quixote - A man that suffered from schizophrenia; he believed himself to be a knight called Don Quixote. (There is both a ballet and a musical that takes after this true story.)

Thanks for reading, and again I'm sorry this took so long to get out. I hope you'll continue to look out for this story every now and then. Please think of it as a quick read to help you wind down for a bit.

Please review! Thanks.

- Aquina Rose