Christina's alarm went off.

On instinct alone, she reached from her under cover, grabbing the clock and snatching it off the nightstand. The floor fell to the floor, and judging by the sound it made, it was broken, but at least it wasn't buzzing anymore. She rolled over, putting her head under the pillow, hoping to get a few more minutes sleep before it was time to get up and start her day.

On a normal day, she was up by 6am every morning, already out of the shower and ready to start her day, but today was different. Her forty hours a week in school, extra hours of cheerleading practice after school, all the extra time she'd been putting in at her parent's video store, taking care of her grandmother and spending any other free time she had with Charles had was finally catching up with her. She was exhausted, and she wanted nothing more than to just stay in bed and let the world pass her by. But she knew that wasn't a possibility. There were things to do, and if she weren't there to do them, everything would fall apart.

"Morning honey," a voice called out.

She recognized the voice as her mother, who, judging by the distance, was standing on the other side of the door.

"Morning ma'," she groaned.

The door opened, and her mother walked in. "I have to work late tonight at the store, and I've got Kris doing inventory, I'm going to need you to pick up your grandmother's prescription on your way home from school, then make sure she takes it. You know how she doesn't like to take her pills," she said.

Christina pushed her pillow away from her face. "But ma, I have practice tonight, and this is the only night that Charles doesn't work. We wanted to hang out and do something," she said.

"Tina, I need you take care of your grandmother for me. I should be home by nine of ten, you can do something then."

"But my curfew is eleven," she pointed out.

"Well, I guess you'll just have to do something another time."

"But ma, I…"

"I'm sorry Tina, but you know your grandmother can't be here by herself. She needs to be supervised in her condition, and Lord forbid someone wasn't here when something happened to her," she said.

Ah yes, the all too familiar guilt trip. Whenever there was a conflict of schedules, her mother played the guilt card on her, knowing that she would crumble under the pressure every single time. Christina yawned and stretched before sitting up in the bed. "You promise you'll be home by ten?" she asked.

"I promise. Even if I can't, I'll let Kris come home."

"Do you think it would be okay if Charles came by here tonight? We could bring home from movies from the store, get some microwave popcorn and make it a Blockbuster night."

"You know I hate it when you use the B word," she said.

"Sorry."

"If your friend wants to come over here tonight, that's fine. I've been meaning to meet this boy anyway."

"You promise not to embarrass me?"

"No, I'm your mother, I'm suppose to embarrass you." she set a slip of paper down on the nightstand. "Don't forget to pick up the prescription on your way home," she glanced down. "What happened to your clock?" she asked.

"It said it had nothing to live for and wanted to end it all, so it jumped off the stand. It left a note saying it was sorry," she giggled.

Her mother shook her head. "Just get ready for school. Your brother is going to drop you off before he heads to the store."

"I thought I was keeping the car today."

"No, we need it to pick up extra stock today."

"So how am I supposed to pick up the prescription?"

"There's a bus that stops right in front of the drug store, you'll be fine. I'll see you later honey, have a good day in school," she said, walking out the room.

Christina flopped back down on the bed, sighing with frustration. "Great, just great."


"You okay, you seem kinda quiet," Kris pointed out as he drove.

Christina leaned back in the passenger seat, trying to get comfortable. The truth was, she was exhausted. There was just too much going on in her life. It was no one's fault really; there were just a lot of things that needed to get done. School was beginning to take its toll her on; eight classes a day, then another ninety minutes of cheerleading practice three times a week. On top of that, she was working at least twenty five hours a week in the video store, not to mention going to any social event the school was having, or any football game that required her to be there. If that wasn't enough, Charles was a full time job himself. She was, by no means, upset with Charles, but being a full time girlfriend on top of her other responsibilities was beginning to effect her. If that wasn't enough, any other time she had on her hands she had to deal with her elderly grandmother. She was being pulled in so many different directions, everyone expecting her to be a certain way, to do a certain thing, to be in a certain place, and the pressure was just too much for her. On any given night, she only managed to get a few hours of sleep; three or four if she was lucky. She tried not to show it, and most times, no one even realized how tired she was, but he also knew it was a matter of time before it all caught up with her.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm fine."

"You look like hell sis, did you sleep okay?" he asked.

"Yeah," she lied. "Just got some stuff on my mind."

"At this risk of having a Full House moment with you, you know if you need to talk to me or something, I'm here."

"Better be careful Kris, people might think you actually care about me," she giggled.

"Yeah, we better keep that one to ourselves," he paused. "I'm serious though, if you need me…"

She cut him short as she reached over, putting her hand on his shoulder. "I'll be okay, really."

"You better be," he pulled up in front of the school. "Mom says you have plans tonight. I'll try to be home a little early so you and your boyfriend can hang out or something," he said.

"Thanks," she leaned over to kiss on him the cheek, but he stopped her.

"Better be careful Chrissy, people might think you actually care about me," he mocked.

"We can't have that. I'll see you later," she said as she got out the car, heading into the school.


"I've been going over the budget and it occurs to me that we're living way below our means. I have a good job, and even though you're doing the whole non-profit thing, this house we picked is kinda cheap compared to the money I'm making. I say we move, get a bigger house, maybe one with a pool," he suggested.

Christina did her best to look interested, but in all honesty, her mind was a millions miles away. She couldn't have cared less about this project, and part of her wish she just stayed with her original pick… even if it was a woman.

"The project is almost over Marklar, I don't think it matters anymore," she sighed.

"Of course it matters. I want the best for us honey."

"Stop calling me that," she groaned.

"I'm just getting into character sweetie," he said.

She sighed. "You know what? You wanna buy another house, you go right ahead. I'm just waiting for this project to be over so I can get on with the rest of my life," she sighed.

"You have a problem with my assignment Ms. Weathers?" Ms. Williams asked, overhearing Christina's distain.

"Yes, I think this whole thing sucks. You suck, my husband is just plan creepy, and I have better things to worry about then what trying to keep this loser from calling me honey and sweetie every ten minutes. You know what? I don't care, fail me, I'm finished with this project," she said, or at least, she wanted to say. Luckily for her, logic prevailed, and she responded with a simple "No ma'am."

"Good," she said, returning to her lesson plans.

"Hey, you okay?" Shamika asked, leaning over.

Christina sighed again. "Yeah, I'm just tired. There's just so much to do, and my husband is a little obsessive," she said.

"There's nothing wrong with wanting the best for you, is there dear?" Marklar asked.

"Well, just be grateful that your husband doesn't pick his nose," Mika sighed.


"So I was thinking that after your cheerleading practice is over, we could head over to Blockbuster, get a video and just relax at my house," Charles suggested, sitting down next to Christina in the lunchroom.

"You know I don't like the B word," she mentioned.

Shamika and Jamal, who were sitting across from them, both had the same confused looks on their faces.

"The B word?"

"Blockbuster. My family owns a video store, and the B word is forbidden at my house," she said.

"Which store is yours?"

"24/7 video."

"Wow, you mean the store that's always open? That's cool," she paused. "Does that mean we can get the hook up on some free movies?" Shamika asked.

"If I'm working, sure."

"Cool. Between the two of you, I'm gonna see all the good movies."

"So how about babe? Rent some movies, thenhead to my house for some serious cuddle time?" Charles asked.

"I can't honey, I have to get this prescription in for my Grandma after cheerleading practice, then get home and take care of her. But, I did talk to my mom and she said it was okay if you came to my house for a while," she said.

"I guess that could be fun."

"Great, I should be done with practice by 4:30, and I need to get to the drug store by five. We'll just go together," she said.

"Hey Mal, everything okay?"

"Huh… oh, yeah. I'm good."

"You sure? You didn't really say much in class today, and you looked like you were a million miles away when Ms. Williams called you up. Everything alright?" Charles asked.

"Yeah, I good," he stood up. "Listen, I have a… thing I have to go do. I'll see you at home Mika," he said, walking away.

"What's up with him?" Christina asked.

"I dunno, he's been like that for a few days now. I'll talk to him later, see what's going on," Shamika said.

"Ms. Troi is selling tickets to the costume ball in her office now, I was going to pick up four of them for us. Were we all still going?" Charles asked.

"Yeah."

"That was the plan."

"Great, I'll pick'em up, and you guys can pay me back whenever. I hear that first price for the best costume this year is one hundred dollars," he said.

"That'll be cool."

The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch.

"Chrissy, I'll meet you in front of the school around 4:30, okay?" Charles asked.

"I'll be there," she said, kissing him on the cheek.

"I'll see you at practice," Shamika said as the three of them stood up, making their way out the lunchroom.


"Christina, can I see you a minute?" the coach asked her as she walked into the gym room.

Christina took her book bag off her shoulder, following the coach into her office. "What's up?"

"Leslie hurt her ankle, and she won't be able to go over the new cheers for the next few days. I know its short notice, but do you think you could come up with at least three new cheers and teach them to the rest of the team before next week?" she asked.

Christina could literally feel her heart sink into her stomach. "Coach, I'm flattered you picked me, but…"

"You're one of the most gifted cheerleaders on this squad. Keep this up and you could easily be squad captain. Listen, I need this from you. I know you have a lot on your plate right now, but our basketball team is doing well, and we need to be out there showing them our support," she brought up. "We need these cheers, and because we're on a deadline, we're going to extend the practices to every day of the week, and an extra hour everyday."

At just like that, Christina had heard enough. "You know what coach? I can't do this anymore," she opened her book bag, pulling out her cheerleading uniform and tossed it on the desk. "I'm done," she said.

"You're what? You're just going to quit like that?"

"I can't do this, it's too much. I'm sorry," Christina said, rushing out the office.


Christina walked in the house, tossing her back down by the front door, then headed up the steps. It had been a hectic day to say the very least, and she was glad it was all finally over. She headed into her room, taking off her clothes, and wrapped herself in her housecoat. She was looking forward to spending a quiet evening alone, curled up with a bowl of popcorn and a good book.

"Christina Ann Weathers!" a voice snapped.

She glanced at her door, only to see her mother standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips.

"Hey momma," she sighed.

"Don't you hey momma me, your school called me. Your coach said you quit the cheerleading team," she brought up.

She nodded. "Yeah, there's just so many other things going on right now that…"

"Its that Charles boy, isn't it? He told you to quit," she said.

"No, I just…"

"Ever since the two of you got together you've gotten lazy and irresponsible. You don't work at the store nearly as much as you use to, you come home and just lay around the house, and now you've quit your after school activity," she said.

"I'm just doing a lot right now and…"

"So you neglect your responsibilities? Damn it Christina, you know I depend on you to…"

"I know mom, you depend on me for everything. I'm the one who does everything around here, and I'm tired. Just once I want to have a day to myself without someone asking me to do something. I'm a straight A student, on the honor role, I have a book club, I work at the store, up until about thirty minutes ago I was a cheerleader, and I'm a girlfriend, not to mention taking care of grandma. I'm tired," she told her.

"Did you even go get her prescription like I asked you?"

Christina paused, amazed how easily it slipped her mind. "No, I'll go right now," she said.

"The pharmacy is closed now Christina, its too late. Not only did you neglect your responsibilities at school, you're neglecting your grandmother. You know in her condition she has to have her medicine or she'll…"

"I'm sorry mom, okay. There's just so much to do," she said.

"Well not anymore. As of right now, you're grounded. You'll go to school, and come home, that's it. On weekends, you'll work a double shift at the store," her mother told her.

"But momma, what about Charles? I…"

"That boy has been nothing but a distraction since you met him. You are not to see him anymore," she said.

"But momma…"

"That's the end of it. You wanted more time to yourself, well now you have it," her mother said, walking out the room and closing the door behind herself.