Sammy trudged down the stairs wearily, wincing slightly as she poked gingerly at her bruised eyes. A sudden clatter from behind made her whirl around in alarm. She half expected to see Marco or Polo toppling down the stairs after her like a bowling ball, but to her surprise, no one was there. "Huh?"
Her eyes lowered to a blue pen on the step, then moved upward to two pencils, a calculator, a suspiciously familiar looking composition notebook, an even more recognizable calculus textbook and . . . Damn! I've been leaving a freaking trail behind me! Darting up the steps, she scooped up all her possessions that fell out of her open backpack and stopped at the top to survey her losses. "Oh man, where's my wallet? It has most of my savings!" She quickly retraced her path through the convoluted hallways and finally came back to her starting point. Huffing and puffing, she opened the door to check the nurse's office - and blinked when five pairs of eyes swerved to her.
"Wh – what's wrong?" she asked nervously, gripping her backpack tightly against her shoulder. "Why are you guys still here?"
The boys didn't answer her, merely staring at her contemplatively. Sammy started to feel uneasy under their speculative scrutiny and her attention was suddenly caught by what Caine was holding. "Hey, that's my wallet! You found it. Thanks!" She extended her arm out for it, but he held it out of her reach.
"First thing first," his turquoise eyes gleamed penetratingly. An uneasy feeling washed over her and she shivered in dread. Caine paused, studying her expression for a few moments before his features softened into a smile. She watched him in confusion, but the smile flickered away. "Who is this?" the boy demanded as he held the wallet out to her.
She furrowed her eyebrow. "What are you talking –" She faltered as she stared down at her favorite picture of her family she had carefully placed into her wallet. Her heart flipped over as she gazed down at the image of her "female self". Oh damn. She bit her lip and saw that everyone was now watching her carefully. Stupid, stupid, stupid! How could you forget your wallet had this picture? Why didn't you pick a picture without yourself in it? Why must, of all people, did they have to find it? Why? Why! Okay, no, just stay calm and just think -
"Why didn't you tell me you have such a hot sister?" Caine demanded again.
"Eh?" She blinked. Oh, bless you. "I, well, it's not like I just go around telling people I have a, uh, hot sister. I mean, what kind of a brother would I be?"
Vincent shoved Caine out of the way and grabbed the picture. He glared down at it and then returned his eyes back at her. After repeating this for a few times, he asked skeptically, "This really your sister?" His gray eyes narrowed.
She couldn't seem to lie to him and she wrenched her eyes away from him, deciding to play dumb. "Well, no."
"No," she repeated densely. "That picture isn't my sister."
Vincent rolled his eyes. "Very funny, fine then, is the female figure in this picture your sister?"
"No, she's my mom."
"THE OTHER ONE!"
She shrank away from them.
Caine answered for her, "Well, of course she's his sister. Who else could she be? They look so much alike, they could be twins."
Will draped an arm over Sam's shoulders and his eyes practically gleamed with delight. "Oh, wow, now I have a cute female version of Sam as well as the adorable male original. My prayers have finally been answered!!"
Caine grinned, cocking his head to one side in a haughty gesture. "Don't be greedy. You can have the brother. I'll be more than happy to settle for the sister."
Vincent erupted, "Nobody is having anybody!"
Caine laughed, waving a hand in the other boy's direction. "Oh, I see, you're also interested in Sam's sister then? Want a piece of the action, eh?"
Vincent gave him a dirty look. "No."
Will gasped and his arms locked around Sam tightly. "Don't tell me you're interested in my Sammy then!"
Vincent turned red, but before he could reach out to smash the two guys together, Tristan spoke up dryly, "Alright, enough. Let's turn back the discussion to Sam, shall we? All this talk about Grenford is giving me indigestion." Vincent glared at the blonde boy, but the latter continued without acknowledging him, "What's her name, Sam?"
"Um, uh, ah, Samantha."
Jack stared at her, amused. "Samantha? Sam? Boy, your parents were sure creative. Your brother named Samuel too?"
"Terry, actually," she smiled weakly. "Yeah, uh, Samantha and I were twins so my parents decided to be funny."
Jack whistled appreciatively as his eyes scanned the picture again, "Man, she sure is beautiful."
Sam blushed. "Thank you." The guys stared at her weirdly and she cleared her throat with a nervous laugh.
Vincent continued to watch her. "Where is your family now?"
Her face turned somber. Will slowly loosened his hold on her as he stared down at her. Sammy kept her green eyes downcast as she spoke clearly, "They died in a car accident when I was fifteen. Terry was with them and . . . I wasn't. Even though his body survived, he's been stuck in a coma ever since." Her breaths started to quicken in short, shallow gasps, eyes already stinging familiarly with tears. "In one night, my whole family was gone."
"And Samantha?" Tristan inquired, his crystal blue eyes softened.
Sammy started and she blinked blankly at them. "She died the moment my parents drew in their last breaths," she said flatly. Suddenly, all the memories flashed over her in an overwhelming wave. The surge of grief, pain, anger, and fear enveloped her and her breath caught in her throat.
"Excuse me, I have to go put away my books," she choked and she hurried out before anyone could stop her. The room was deathly quiet as the boys stared at the door in shocked silence.
Caine finally spoke up to break the grim tension, lips twisting in a half-hearted smile. "Well. So much for getting his sister's number."
Sammy sat glumly in the comfortable, red velvet, high-backed chair in her room. She dug her spoon once again into the carton of Edy's Espresso Chip ice cream and lifted it to her lips. She hesitated for a minute. This will go straight to my thighs. She spooned down the ice cream with a vengeance. Ah hell, I'm already a boy now. Who cares?
A knock suddenly sounded on the door. She frowned, pursing her lips over the spoon. Vincent must have forgotten his key. Shuffling to the door in her bunny slippers and oversized plaid pajamas, she sucked on her spoon as she threw open the door. Her mouth fell open and the spoon clattered to the floor. Tristan stared at her, looking especially dashing in a blue sweater and black jeans. His eyes sparkled with amusement as they took in her state of appearance. She reddened and resisted the urge to slam the door in his face. He laughed, "Cute bunny slippers."
"Yeah, that's what Vincent said too," she grumbled. She bent over to pick up the spoon and stood up, adjusting her shirt nonchalantly. "So, uh, wh – what are you doing here?"
He stared at her with his brows knitted, eyes concerned, and she looked away, mindful of her near breakdown in the nurse's office. He held up her wallet absentmindedly. "You, um, forgot this."
"Oh, thanks!" She started to reach for it, only to remember that her hands were already occupied by a spoon and the carton of ice cream. "Uh, why don't you come in?"
Tristan walked in after her and closed the door behind him. Looking around the room, his eyes fell on Vincent's stuff. "Haven't been here before. Grenford and I aren't exactly the best buddies around here, you know."
That's an understatement. She got a new spoon and plopped down into her seat again, setting the carton on her lap before accepting the wallet. Her eyes softened at the family picture and then she flipped it shut, clutching it to her chest. She munched furiously on her ice cream again, chewing on the bitter sweet chocolate chips. Tristan watched her from the corner of his eyes, tucked his hands into his pockets and sat down in the opposite chair. He smiled at her again.
"What?" She gave him a curious look.
"Nothing. Just never really saw a guy drown his sorrows in ice cream."
She smiled wryly. "That obvious, huh?"
"It's not rocket science and you have every right to grieve." He nodded quietly.
She smiled back at him and said teasingly. "So tell me, Mr. Harland, what do the typical nice, normal guy drown himself in?"
He chuckled and shrugged. "Well, I wouldn't know about the "normal" guy, but I do know most people prefer alcohol."
She arched her eyebrow. "Wine?"
"Beer. Liquor. Whatever."
Her brows furrowed. "But we're under-aged."
He stared at her in disbelief. "Don't tell me you haven't even taken a tiny sip of beer before?"
Now she felt like a dork. "Well, I did have some champagne before," she said defensively.
He laughed. "Boy, you're just this wild beast, aren't you?"
A flush swept up her neck and she spooned another mouthful of ice cream, shrugging.
Vincent wandered aimlessly through the halls. Reaching an alcove, he took a step into the shadows and opened the doors to the balcony. Leaning his forearms on the railing, the cool night breeze ruffled his hair. Stars twinkled brightly and the trees rustled in the dark night. It was still September and the temperature was low, but not cold enough for him to need his winter jacket.
He chewed on the inside of his cheek and rested his chin in the palm of his hand. Squinting against the light wind, he sighed. 'In one night, my whole family was gone.' He just couldn't get Sam's words out of his head. Somehow, he never expected that the quiet, shy boy would be hiding such a painful past. The picture of Sam's family flashed through his mind again and once again, he was struck by the willowy figure of the boy's sister. For some reason, he just couldn't stop himself from thinking about the girl's smile - and her uncanny resemblance to Sam.
Stop this, Vince. She's his twin. Of course they look alike. What did you expect? But that did nothing to quell what appeared to be ... disappointment ... in the pit of his stomach. He ran a hand over his face in frustration and disgust. For a minute there, I had really thought that Sam was really ... well, a girl in disguise ... and for that moment, I was actually happy about that. He hadn't wanted to think about it, but this brief false alarm had suddenly made him realize that he was kinda, sorta attracted to his roommate. It wasn't really Vincent's fault though – the kid looks so much like a girl that - Ah hell, I have a sexuality crisis.
Perhaps this was what happens in prison, when you're a lonely male surrounded by all these other guys. That's why they say not to drop the soap, isn't it? It's just hormones and frustration speaking - I bet if I had Will for my roommate, I'd also – A vision of Will puckering up his lips with a 'come hither' look flashed in Vincent's mind and he choked. Okay, he wasn't attracted to Will, that's for sure.
He dropped his forehead heavily against the marble column. He opened his eyes blearily and snorted. But even if Sam was a girl, how will that change things? I mean, sure, being roommates would be a bit awkward then, but what else? Just because he suddenly became a she wouldn't give me the permission to suddenly jump her ... him. Even if Sam was a girl, does that automatically made her ... him ... up for grabs? God, why am I even wondering about the impossible? Sam, a girl? Ridiculous.
Tristan leaned back in the chair and folded his hands on his stomach. "You might not know this but we're not that much different."
Yeah, you think so? How about being born with money, good looks, and oh, I don't know, the Y chromosome? She turned her head, offering him a quizzical look. "How so?"
The room was silent for a bout of time before he finally said, "My mother died when I was ten."
She was startled and didn't really know how to respond. "Uh, I, oh, I'm –" She didn't want to give any trite responses since she'd received enough to know that they really suck. "I didn't know that." Yeah, and that's so much better.
He smiled faintly and she continued, hesitating, "How – how did she –"
"Oh . . . I'm – that's horrible." She was awful at coming up with the right things to say.
"It was. She just withered away and there was nothing Father or I could do. She got all depressed and frail - wouldn't even look at my little sister." His expression didn't change but his fingers curled around each other in such tight fists, his knuckles turned white. "She just gave up hope. She stopped living."
Sammy bit her lip and reached out without thinking. His eyes darted over to her and she froze, arm outstretched. What are you doing, Sammy? Were you actually thinking about taking his hand? Yeah . . . might as well throw in a hug . . . it'll probably make him feel better to throw you against the wall. She quickly switched tactics, pretending to stretch and yawn before offering her carton. "Ice cream?"
He grinned lightly and accepted the box and her spoon. Taking a huge bite, he smiled lopsidedly, "You know, I'm beginning to like your way better than drinking myself stupid."
She laughed, "Yeah, well, it has its bad side, too."
He nodded solemnly. "Yeah, addiction might be a bitch. 'Hi, I'm Tristan Harland and I'm an ice cream-holic. I've gained fifty pounds in the last month and my stomach is so huge now, I have trouble seeing my feet.'"
She rolled her eyes. "You poor dear."
They cracked up. A jingle of keys interrupted them then and the door swung open. Vincent walked in and stopped short, frozen as his eyes fell on Tristan. Sam abruptly felt an inexplicable spasm of guilt flit through her. Don't be silly, Sammy. Vincent isn't that foul-tempered.
Vincent felt like giving the guy a black eye of his own. His gray eyes narrowed and darted to Sam. The boy looked like a deer caught in headlights. Why was he fraternizing with the enemy? Why is that creep here in my room? Why is that bastard sitting in my chair? Sam's lips pulled back in a hesitant smile at him and that was all it took to momentarily mollify Vincent's fury. Damn. I'm turning into a big softie.
He growled, "What the hell are you doing here, Harland?"
"None of your business," Tristan responded coolly. He stood up and turned to Sam, his voice softening, "I'll see you tomorrow. Good night, Sam."
"Good night, Tristan," Sam echoed. She chewed on her lip nervously as Tristan walked to the door. Vincent wouldn't be budged though and Tristan's eyes glittered coldly before brushing past him. Vincent kicked the door shut behind him and stared at Sam.
He spoke gruffly, obviously disgruntled. "Next time he bothers you, just kick him out."
"He was just returning my wallet," Sam protested.
He grunted, dropping his bag heavily on the floor. Then his eyes lighted up. "Oooh, ice cream!"
He reached over her for the carton and had just started to take a bite when she stopped him, "Um, you might want to get a new spoon. Tristan just ate with mine, but if you –"
He shivered with disgust and immediately dropped the spoon. He dropped the whole carton, spoon included, into the waste basket. He muttered, "Why the hell did you let him eat with your spoon? Were you sharing?" He pinned her with a accusatory look as if she'd just admitted she'd robbed a bank with Tristan.
She frowned in response. "I don't get why you guys hate each other so much."
His eyes turned stony. "Simply put, I don't like anybody touching what belongs to me and he … well, he touched."
Baffled by his vague explanation, she stared at his broad back as he walked off into the bathroom.
© Copyright 2003 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). Reposted 12/28/2008. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.