Chapter Eighteen

~*I Still Believe*~

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Raye looked over at her brother in the passenger seat. He had barely said anything the entire trip there, and now they were sitting outside Tiergan's house. That was as far as Raye had been able to go. She thought she was fine while she was driving, but when she saw Tiergan's house come into view she remembered how mad she still was at him.

Kale shrugged as if it didn't matter to him, but he didn't move to get out.

"I mean, Tiergan totally stole your girl, I'd understand if you didn't want to see him again for a while."

"It's already been a while. Tier and I are cool."

Raye scowled. How could that be? Tiergan had made a move on his girlfriend and now they were cool? Boys didn't make any sense at all. She glanced back at the house again. She still had the engine running. "I'm not cool."

"Do you want to go back?" Kale asked. She knew he would do it, too. Without complaining, even. He always did that. He acted like he was being so reasonable, but he was really just trying to make her feel guilty so he would get his way. Kale had wanted to practice again. Raye still wasn't 100% sure. But... there was still Trista to think about. This whole mess wasn't really her fault. And Trista had stuck by her even after she'd been a mega-bitch. Trista at least deserved a second chance. As for the band... well, she could give it another chance. Performing was fun as hell and it meant a lot to Chris.

"Well? Do you?" Kale repeated.

"No," she said finally, "No, I told Chris I'd come, so let's just get this over with." She shut the engine off.

Kale smiled and finally got out of the car. Raye had no choice but to follow him.

Tiergan stood in the doorway to the barn, wondering if Raye and Kale were ever going to get out of their car. He'd seen the car pull up a few minutes ago, but neither had budged from their seats. The engine was even still running! What were they doing in there? Raye still had her hands on the wheel, like she was going to drive off any minute. Was she getting cold feet? That would be so like Raye.

Finally, the engine turned off and Kale and Raye stepped out of the car. At least it looked like they weren't planning on just turning around and going home. He and Chris made a pretty poor two-man band. Tiergan quickly ducked back inside. It wouldn't do to let Raye know he'd been watching them in their indecision. He was glad at least that they'd decided to show up. Tiergan still wasn't sure how to make things completely right between them, but they would never get anywhere if they never spoke again. He tried his best not to run back to where he'd left his guitar, but his back tingled between his shoulder blades, as if Raye was right on top of him. He couldn't stop himself from jogging the last few feet. He snatched up his guitar just in time and tried to look like he hadn't been doing anything suspicious. Chris rolled his eyes at him and continued fiddling with the tuners on his guitar. How the hell did the kid with ADD come off looking more focused than he did.

Tiergan didn't have time to think on it, because at that moment Kale and Raye stepped inside. Chris immediately grinned and pranced over to squeeze Raye around the middle, nearly crushing her ribcage.

"Easy there," Raye gasped, untangling herself from his arms, "I need those parts intact."

"Sorry," Chris said, not looking sorry at all. "Thanks for coming. It's a pretty crappy band with two just two guitars."

"Don't I know it," Raye managed a weak smile as she took her place behind her drum set which was still set up near the back of the barn. She tapped on some of her cymbals, obviously trying to appear nonchalant and failing. Kale was quiet, as always. He seemed like he was completely unaware of the tense mood. Which only made Tiergan feel even more awkward. You'd think it'd be easier to be around a guy whose girlfriend you'd tried to steal, but apparently not. Kale was difficult to read at the best of times, but Tiergan had thought he was getting better on it. But now... he had no idea what Kale might be thinking, and it was putting him on edge.

Tiergan tried to push all thoughts that were not music-related out of his mind. "Let's do this, then." He strummed a few notes on his guitar experimentally, getting comfortable with it, and then started playing. Chris was right behind him,and then Raye and Kale jumped in. For a few seconds they actually sounded pretty good. And then Raye messed up the beat and Chris skipped the bridge and the whole thing fell apart. Well, they were pretty out of practice after all. He nodded at them to start again.

This time it was Kale who messed up first, and trying to fight through to the end of the song became a disaster. "Again," Tiergan growled. He'd been practising a lot on his own, he'd had nothing else to do, but playing again with a group was proving difficult. His tempo was way off, and synching up with the others was nearly impossible.

"We are so out of synch," Chris sighed when they stopped for the fourth time, echoing Tiergan's thoughts.

"Yeah," Kale agreed.

"We'll get it," Tiergan said.

Raye sighed and stood up from her stool to stretch. "Is it really any wonder?"

Tiergan scowled, wondering if she was planning to pick a fight. Kale was nodding, though, and Chris stared down at his feet as if he was uncomfortable.

"We've been at each others throats for a while now," Kale added, "Maybe we should clear the air a bit?" He gave a pointed look to his sister. Tiergan braced himself for one of Raye's screaming fits. He hoped all she did was scream at him. But, to his surprise, she was silent for an agonizingly long time. Tiergan risked a glance in her direction and caught her studying her toes.

"Why don't we just jam for a bit?" Raye suggested when she realized that everyone was looking at her. "We can... I dunno, reconnect, or something? Forget about the show and getting it right and just... pretend like we're friends again?"

Tiergan found himself smiling. He'd really missed Raye and Kale, even if she was volatile and he had punched him in the face. But maybe now they were on their way to being actual friends again. He decided not to point out how awkward Raye sounded while trying to offer the olive branch and strummed a few notes on his guitar instead. "Sounds good. Let's jam."

Trista could hear the noise from the barn easily, even with her window closed tightly. Somehow Tiergan had convinced the band to play together again, but they sounded pretty awful. After at least half an hour of off-beat and out of sync noises, they seemed to have abandoned all pretences of playing an actual song and had apparently decided to just torture their instruments for a while. Trista didn't know what they were doing, but it was a jumbled, nonsensical mess. She wondered if they would be offended if she put on her headphones.

There was a brief pause in the 'music' and Trista turned her focus back to the task at hand. She'd had a dress idea planned out in her sketchbook for weeks now and she hadn't been able to find time to get to it, yet. Well, now that she was off school for a week she had nothing but time. Even with all the extra chores and the homework Mandeep brought over for her, she still had plenty of hours in the day where she had nothing to do. She was re-purposing some old clothes she'd found in the Tetherlands' crawlspace, since she didn't really have any money for materials and Meg was not interesting in buying any for the girl who was still grounded. But she was liking the vintage flavour it gave her dress, she it had all worked out for the dress.

Trista was working on the hemline when the noise started up again. She jumped and very nearly got the dress tangled up in her sewing machine. Maybe she should put on her headphones. She definitely hoped they got better before their show at the underground. Feeling only a little guilty, Trista dug around in her school bag and found her mp3 player. They would never have to know. Especially since only Chris would actually speak to her. She turned the volume up as loud as it would go and set back to work.

The hemline was giving her a great deal of trouble, and she had to redo it three times before she was satisfied. She didn't know how long she had been hunched over her desk like that, bit when she finally sat back to take a break her fingers and neck were cramped up. She cracked her knuckles and carefully removed the garment from under the machine and held it up to examine it. There were still a lot of finishing touches to be done, but overall it looked pretty good. If only she had a dressmaker's dummy, it would make finishing it a whole lot easier.

"That's pretty cute."

Trista jumped when her headphones were lifted up and she heard Raye's voice in her ear. She tried - and failed - to contain a shriek of surprise as she spun around. Her headphones snapped back against her ears. The music was blaring again, but she could see that Raye was laughing at her.

Dumbfounded, Trista yanked the headphones off her head and tossed the mp3 player to her bed. "Raye?" She gaped, "What are you doing here?"

Raye gave her a crooked smile and an awkward shrug for an answer. "I knocked, but you weren't answering. Imagine my surprise when I found you in here, drowning us out with Katy Perry."

Trista blushed, "I... It was only because - oh, like you don't listen to Katy Perry!"

Raye laughed again, and it even seemed genuine, although she didn't deny listening to Katy Perry. "How long did you manage to put up with us for?"

"About half an hour," Trista admitted.

"We're getting better, I swear."

"Sure," Trista rolled her eyes before she realized that she was actually talking to Raye like they were friends again. The thought stopped her short. Raye hadn't been talking to her for so long that she'd almost forgotten what it was like. Strange that she would be able to fall back into it so easily. The thought sobered her and she turned quickly to busy herself with cleaning up her sewing stuff. "So what did you come up here for?"

Raye sat down at the edge of her bed. "I just wanted to talk."


"I miss you. You're the only girl friend I really have. Sometimes it gets annoying just hanging out with the guys, and these days it's like my best friend is my brother, which is totally lame, you know?" Raye sighed and leaned back, "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry, about everything, and I want to be friends again."

Trista found herself smiling, "You really mean that?"

"Yes - hey! I was angry at you. I am angry, still, but I know it wasn't all your fault, okay? I'm willing to let it go this time."

Raye looked so uncomfortable that Trista was almost temped to stay silent and watch Raye squirm for a little bit. Raye was clearly unused to serious conversation. But... Trista had been so lonely without Raye that it just wasn't worth it to torture her. "That's very big of you," Trista said, holding back a smile.

"I know, I'm a great person. Now let's talk about something else. Are you going to wear that dress to our show?"

"The Underground show?" Trista blinked, trying to keep up with the sudden change in topic. She glanced back at the dress she had hastily folded up on her desk.

"Of course, what other show would I mean? You are going aren't you?"

"I don't think so. I mean, I doubt anyone would want me to come..."

"I want you to come."

"You mean that?"

"Yes. Obviously. Why else would I say it? So finish that dress and make sure you come to our show."

"I dunno..."

"I mean it! I won't play unless you're there!"

Trista rolled her eyes. "Raye, you will so."

"No way. I won't. Please Trista?" Raye was practically begging. She blinked her long eyelashes rapidly at Trista.

Groaning, Trista pulled away, "I'll think about it."

Raye seemed to take that as a 'yes', because she brightened immediately. "Awesome! You'll look so cute in that dress, too! You can definitely pull off that vintage look. It needs a bow or something, though."

Trista was glad that the topic had shifted to her dress instead of her, "I was going to put in a sash or something, kind of break up the pattern a bit, you know? But..." But it was really difficult to do without a dummy. She glanced at Raye as an idea occurred to her. "Hey Raye? You want to play dummy for a bit?"

Raye must have really wanted to make a good start to their renewed friendship, because she agreed to be Trista's pincushion - that is, dress dummy - without hardly any resistance at all. And she didn't demand to be let out of her duty even after Trista had poked her with pins several times. Some of those times were even by accident.

"So I heard you punched out Ginger for me," Raye said conversationally while Trista was wrapping her middle in the shiny red silk she'd been saving. It was just the right size for a sash, and she and Raye were almost the same size, so she wouldn't have to take it in much for it to fit her perfectly.

Trista shrugged and directed Raye to lift her arms so she could pin the sash in the proper position. She did her best not to stab Raye with the pins, but she felt the other girl jump a little as secured the last pin. "She deserved it."

"I can't believe I missed it." Trista could see Raye's grin, stretched all the way from one ear to the other.

"It was pretty stupid of me," Trista said, "I got suspended for it, and I'm pretty sure half the school already knows about my... unique living arrangements."

"Oh, more than half for sure. I am questioned about it at least three or four times a day."

Trista groaned, "I don't know what I'm going to do when I go back."

"Don't worry about it. I'll protect you."

"Thanks," Trista said, unable to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. She prodded Raye again with a pin, hard.

"Ow!" Raye jumped, "You did that one on purpose!"

"Sorry," Trista said smugly, "Let's change the topic, okay?"

"Alright, fine. What about Rose and Mandeep then?"

"Did Mandeep tell you about that?" Trista gaped.

"No, but I suspected. And you just confirmed it for me."

Raye sounded way too damn pleased with herself. "How the hell did you figure it out? I was completely blindsided by that one!"

"Your gaydar is lacking," Raye shrugged, "Plus ever since the party they're been almost inseparable. Anyone who cares to look will figure it out eventually."

Trista frowned, "I hope no one bothers them about it."

"Don't worry, they'll have me to answer to if they do. And you, too."

Trista laughed, "Apparently I do have a pretty mean right jab."

Raye joined her in laughing, and Trista found herself really relaxing. It was good to know that she and Raye could be friends again. She had thought for sure that Raye was going to hate her forever. It was a relief to be enjoying time with her friend again. She and Raye stayed up until well past midnight, until Kale started texting her that he was leaving, with or without her. He wouldn't come up to get her himself, Trista could understand that - she didn't know if she could face him either - but it still hurt a little.

"Don't forget about the show," Raye reminded her as she left.

"I'll think about it," Trista repeated, but Raye didn't seem to hear her. She was already disappearing down the stairs. Trista waved goodbye and carefully laid out the dress she had been making back on her desk. The thought of actually going to the show made her stomach roil in protest. She wasn't sure her nerves could handle it.

Trista changed into her pyjamas and crept downstairs to grab a snack before heading to bed. She was rummaging around in the fridge when she overheard the familiar sounds of Tiergan's guitar. She paused to listen to him strumming something unfamiliar. Occasionally Tiergan's voice would mix with the guitar, but the words were too muffled to make out. Still, the soft tenor of his voice harmonizing with the guitar sounded nice. Trista settled down on the couch where she could hear through the back door, instead of heading back up to her room.

She listened to him strumming, singing and occasionally cursing and starting again for nearly thirty minutes before she found herself falling asleep on the couch. She didn't even notice that the music had stopped until it was too late. She woke with a start when the light suddenly snapped on.

"How long have you been sitting there?" Tiergan's voice asked.

Trista sat bolt upright and stared at him a moment. His form was in silhouette so she couldn't make out his face, but his voice sounded rough.

For some reason she didn't want to admit that she'd been listening to him play. "A few minutes. I was going to get a snack but I ended up dozing off here." At least it was mostly the truth.

"Did Raye come up to talk to you?"

"Yeah," was he changing the subject? Maybe not mentioning that she'd been spying was the right decision. "I think we made up."

"That's good," Tiergan said distractedly. To her surprise, he dragged his feet over the the armchair across from her and slumped down. Then he just stared at her.

Trista bit her lip uncomfortably. How could she get out of there without having any awkward conversations with him? Did he want something? If he wanted to talk about the night of the party again... well, she didn't know what she would do, exactly. Probably run away screaming. It was the last thing she wanted to discuss. It was probably best if they all just tried to forget it ever happened and get on with their lives.

Tiergan opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, then closed it again.

Trista took his indecision as an escape route and quickly jumped to her feet. "Well, I'm going to sleep. Goodnight."

"Trista, wait!"

Damn, and she was nearly safe. Trista froze on the spot and turned around slowly to face him. "What?"

"Are you coming to the show?"

"The Underground show?"

Tiergan nodded.

"Raye asked me to but... I don't know."

"You should definitely come," Tiergan said firmly.

"Tiergan..." Trista sighed.

"I mean it! You'd better come."

"What? Why? Why do you care so much?"

"Do you always have to be so annoying?" Tiergan growled. "Raye wants you to come and I want you to come, Chris probably does too. Isn't that enough?"

"What about Kale?"

"Who knows with that guy!" Tiergan groaned, flopping back into the chair. "And who cares anyway? Three out of for is the majority, so if you don't show up you'll be in trouble."

What the hell was up with him today? "Fine! Jeez! If so so damned important to you, I'll clear my schedule!" Honestly. Didn't he understand how hard it would be for her to go to that place, with everyone together, after she'd basically screwed up everything? And there was no way Kale would be fine with it. Trista couldn't forget the look in his eyes when she'd told him about what happened at the party. How could he stand to ever be in the same room with her again?

Trista quickly dashed back up the stairs before Tiergan could bother her any more about it. There was no way she could show up to that thing. No fucking way!

Tiergan watched Trista retreat and knew that she wasn't completely sold on the idea. The thought of facing Kale was obviously bothering her. Even if Raye had made up with her and Chris loved everyone and he... well, Tiergan had already told her how he felt and been completely rejected, so maybe it would have made more sense if her didn't want to be around her, but of course that wasn't the case. Stupid hormones.

Tiergan had never been the type to give up so easily. For whatever stupid reason he was completely hooked on Trista, and he didn't feel like he'd been given a fair chance with her. Whether Kale wanted to kick his ass again for it or not, Tiergan wasn't going to let go. Trista would just have to face up to Kale and get it over with, and quickly, so that Tiergan could make his move.

He had a feeling that he would have to kidnap the girl to get her to come, though.

Stupid, stupid hormones!