a/n: uh…let me warn you, the first few paragraphs or somewhere within this chapter there's implied sexual content! mmwahaha! it's not that bad, it's just…there…so I'm warning people like mogan who are reading this at school. don't let somebody read it over your shoulder. So that's also a warning…yeah. Don't flame me or I'll have to kick your ass.

Through The Eyes Of The Rafters

By: Me

Chapter Eighteen: I Sleep With One Eye Open

But if you're ready to be my everything!
If you're ready to see it through this time!
And if you're ready for love then,
This I will bring!
But I'm not gonna wait for you forever this time!

Fefe Dobson Everything


As AFI's "Girl's Not Grey" blared through his speakers, Jo-Jo was writing. When I got his letter, I knew he'd spent hours on it.

Peyton, I want to be your friend more than anything, because if I lost you over some stupid crush…then…well? That would probably be the end of the Three Musketeers, eh? It really was stupid to kiss you. I had you right there and…it just kind of happened. I didn't really plan on kissing you. I was just going to talk to you about everything. I was going to confess and I'm really sorry I asked Alex to keep such a secret for so long. It was just…I was trying to wait for the perfect moment, you know? And then…well…Mitchell came back into the picture. And I'm really glad that you're happy. As long as you're happy, I'm happy.

I'll always love you, Jo-Jo.

A smile crept across my face while I was reading the letter. I took the phone and called his house phone. No answer. So I left a message:

"Hey Jo-Jo, I read your letter and…well, I don't want to lose you either. Give me a call when you get this. I'll always love you, too."

I hung up and looked out the window. Things were settling right again. I was pretty sure I could go on and forget about Jo-Jo's crush. There were plenty of fish in the sea for him.

That night, I stripped down to my cotton shorts and a tank-top for bed. I climbed in, pulled the covers over my head, and closed my eyes. I heard my door get pushed open gently.


"What?" I asked, my voice muffled by the covers.

Mitchell walked over to my bed. He pulled the covers back slightly so he could see my face.

"Can I sleep in here?"

I nodded and scooted over. He literally slithered in and lay facing me.

"What's wrong?"

He shrugged his right shoulder.

"Nothing really. I just wanted to be with you."

I chewed my lip. Mitchell just bit his as he slowly moved his hand across the top of the mattress to my stomach. He ran his hand across the skin, down further until the rim of shorts stopped him. He moved his fingers past the elastic band and inched his fingers downward. I jumped back.

"Wait!" he said quickly, grabbing my arm. I sat up. He sat up, too, slightly behind me.

"What's wrong?" he asked, sitting so I could feel the heat radiate off his body, but not touching me.


"You're lying." he whispered, deciding to run his lips across my shoulder. I shivered and turned my head to look at him out of the corner of my eye.

"Am not. I'm just…second guessing myself."

"On what?" he whispered against my skin.

"On whether this is the right thing."

"Why wouldn't it be right?"

"Is it what we want?"

He was quiet. I could feel him purse his lips against my shoulder, but he wasn't annoyed.

"Do you trust me?" he asked finally. I turned my head away and looked at my hands fighting with each other in my lap.


"Lay back."


"It's not sex, Peyton. I know your boundaries and I'd never hurt you."

I looked at him again.

"Do you trust me?" he asked again. I swallowed.


He pulled on my shoulders so I laid back slowly and then laid down next to me, pulling the covers back over us. Then he proceeded to move his hand across my skin again, more slowly then last time, as if allowing me time to object. I didn't and he kept moving his hands back down to the top of my shorts. He pulled them off slowly. He moved his hands across my body slowly.

"You're beautiful, you know that?"

I smiled and sighed. He bit his lip, smiled, and then kissed me, moving his hand beneath my cotton underwear (yes, cotton lets the body breathe and is very comfortable to sleep in).

I moaned against his mouth.

"Shh…You make too much noise and we're in trouble." Mitchell joked.

I laughed. "What do you mean we?"

"Hey, you're in on this, too." he whispered, moving his finger. I twitched and sighed. He chuckled and kissed me again.


I woke up the next morning, flush against Mitchell. I blushed and buried my head in my pillow when I remembered last night.

"'Morning sleepyhead."

I bit my lip, smiled, and turned to look at him.


He kissed my nose. "You okay?"

"Never better."

"I don't think anyone heard…"

"I wasn't that loud, was I?"

"You musta been drunk on bliss then, 'cos Hell, I had to cover your mouth twice."

I groaned and slapped my forehead, digging my head into my pillow again. He laughed and pulled me closer to him.

"The play's tonight." he said into my hair.

"Mm. I forgot about that."

"Are you ready?"

"I know my lines. I'm not worried." I looked at him. "What about you?"

"Psch. I've got 'em down pat."

I laughed. "C'mon. I'm hungry."

He groaned when I climbed over him, got dressed, and then looked back at him.

"Aren't you coming?"

"If I must." he sighed, rolling out of bed. I walked out, followed by Mitchell. He walked down the hall to his room, while I walked down the stairs to the kitchen.

"Yo, yo momma, what's ya got for me to eat?" I asked, walking into the kitchen, acting "gangsta". She looked at me.

"Nothing, until you tell me what Mitchell was doing in your bed this morning."

I swallowed. "What?"

"I went in to ask you a question, figuring you were probably up, and there you both were."

I could tell there was not only no way around this, but it was going to be my first heated argument with my mom in three years.

"Nothing happened."

"I asked you if you two liked each other Peyton!"

"I know!"

"Did you like him then?"


Big mistake.

"So you lied to me?"

"Yes I did momma. And do you know why? Because you most likely would've had Mitch and Shane on the next bus to the orphanage!"

"Mitchell's old enough to take care of himself."

"But Shane's not. And Mitchell can't take full custody of her until he's eighteen."

"Do they have any other family?"

"Shane has a grandfather."

"What about Mitchell? Don't they share a grandfather?"

"No. Long story."

"Peyton Anne, I can't believe you lied to me."

"What teen doesn't lie mom?! You have to be prepared for it!"

"You still lied Peyton! You know what, you're grounded."


"You're grounded."

"That's for little kids mom. Come up with something more creative."

"Peyton Anne, do not make me--"

"Do what mom? You haven't grounded me since before dad died."

"You're not to talk about that!"

"Why not? Scared Jordy'll hear?"

"He doesn't need to know. Not now."

"He's seven. He can handle it."

"Peyton! Stop this! Go up to your room. Now!" she snapped when I tried to intervene. I glared at her, spun around, and stomped off up the stairs. "And I better not hear any talking on the phone!" she shouted after me. Boy did I have a mind to flip my middle finger. I just punched the wall behind my door like I had when I heard about dad. I left a little indent in the wall eight years ago and I left another one eight years later. This one hurt more.

Why's it such a big deal?

I don't know. She probably doesn't want her little girl growing up.

Too late. Besides, she has Jordy's life to ruin now.

Name the last time she ruined your life.

I thought but couldn't think of any.

Probably before dad died.

Most likely.

My nose twitched. Then I looked at my hand. Three knuckles were red, one was bleeding.

You're fine.


I think I was in my room for two hours, just staring at the wall. Mom finally came up and knocked on the door. She let herself in and sat down at my desk. I didn't look at her. Sixteen-year-olds didn't get sent to their rooms.

"Peyton," she finally started, "how long has this been going on?"


"You and Mitchell sleeping with each other."


"Oh my god." I heard her whisper. I rolled my eyes.

"You think it's sex, don't you?"

"W--well, yes…"

"It's not. You haven't heard screams coming from my room, now have you?" I snapped furiously. "Neither of us are that stupid."

It was so quiet I heard her swallow.

"I'm just saying Peyton, what if you two get caught up in the moment?"

"Won't happen."

"Please, listen--"

"No! Damnit, I'm sick of you acting like it's totally wrong between me and him!"

"I--I never said that--"

"We're both sixteen. In fact, he's almost seventeen! Don't you think we're smart enough to know what's right and what's wrong?!"

She sighed and I swallowed, staring at my toes.

"Alright. You're right. I'm sorry. But, I've a right to worry."

I shook my head, still watching my toes.

She stood up. "Um, Mitchell wanted me to tell you he's gone out."

"Out where?" I asked, finally looking at her.

"He said you'd know."

My eyebrows furrowed as she turned and walked out. I looked back at my toes.

I know?

I stood and walked out too, looking for Shanna.

"Shane? You here?"

Shane had been nice. I checked her room where, on her desk, she had left a note:

Hi Peyton! Me and Mitchell left for a little bit. He won't tell me where, but I think we're going to meet my grandfather…oh well. Love, Shanna.

My eyebrows furrowed again.


He hadn't told me they were going to visit him. The most I could really do was sit back and wait for them to return.

Mitchell called about five, just as I was getting ready to leave for the final practice before the play tonight.

"Hey, um…don't--don't wait for me."


"I'm gonna be late."

"How late?" I asked, pulling on my shoe.

"Just a little…Shanna's--she with her grandfather…he…wanted to get to know her."

"O…okay…but Mitchell, you have to get there soon."

"I know, I know. I will. I promise."

I swallowed, unwilling to believe him. "Alright."

"I love you."

"I love you, too…" I said back, slowly.

He hung up. I slipped my other shoe on and walked downstairs.

"Are you driving?" Mom asked. I shook my head.

"Too lazy."

"You're never gonna learn Peyton."

"I know. It's just a driver's license."

She sighed and shook her head as we got into the car and drove to the school. Jo-Jo was the first person I saw there. As Mom drove away, I walked into the school with him.

"Hey Jo-Jo. What's up?"

He grinned. "Well, see, there's this girl--"



I jumped as Robbie snapped at me an hour later.


"Where's Mitchell?"

"I--I don't know…he's supposed to be here by now…"

"Do you know where he went?"


"Do you have any idea because I'd really like to murder him right about now…" Robbie mumbled, turning and walking away before I could give my answer.

I looked at Alex, who was drinking my Pepsi and sitting in the seat next to me. I hadn't started rehearsal yet. It was like…the two scenes I wasn't in. And I was too lazy to get up and get dressed.

"Do you know where he is?"

She shook her head, slurping the last bit of soda at the bottom of the can.

"Nope." she said when she was done. She handed me the empty container.

"Thanks Alex."

She grinned at me.


"What?!" I barked right back at Robbie.

"Go get dressed!"

I rolled my eyes but when he threatened to throw his clipboard at me, I decided to move it.

The phone in Robbie's office rang, just as I passed the door. Robbie was currently out and considering I was closest, I answered it.


"Oh. Hi Peyton. I didn't know you were going to answer." He seemed rushed…

"Where are you Mitchell? Robbie's throwing a temper."

"Um…Shane's grandfather is signing."

"For what…wait…what?"

"For adoption. He's getting the papers ready and everything."

"He…can't do that…"

"He moved over here. He has duel citizenship now."

I sank into Robbie's chair. "You're kidding?"

"Nope. And he wants to get legal custody of her right now."


"So I can't run with her. I mean, where the Hell am I gonna go?!"

He was getting angry.

"Can I see you?"

"I don't know. I need to get Shane."

"I'll help you. I'll help you get Shanna, I promise."

The sudden image of what he'd done to his father popped into my head. I shook it away quickly.

"I've got to visit someone first. But I'll be there for the play. Or…yeah. Maybe. I dunno…" he trailed.


"I gotta go. I love you."

The click told me he was gone.

"Mitchell! Damnit!" I snapped, slamming the phone down in its cradle. I proceeded to drum my fingers frantically on the desk.

Where is he?

I dunno…he said he had to visit someone…

My eyes grew wide.

Where do you go to think?!

"The cemetery. He's going to visit his mom."

I turned and ran out of Robbie's office. While running past the cast and crew and Robbie screaming, "Get back here!", I barely had enough breath to flip around and shout to Jo-Jo, "He's going to see his mom!"

I ran out the west doors, turned right, and ran down the street.

Woodward Memorial Cemetery is almost right on the edge of town. I ran towards it as fast as possible, but it didn't seem to get any closer. When I did finally reach the entrance, I had to concentrate and look for Mitchell. He was at the right back corner of the cemetery in front of an enormous headstone.

A cover up?

Go away!

Mitchell's hand was out in front of him; it took me a moment but I realized he was tracing the letters to his mother's name. He didn't notice I was there until I was about four headstones away.


His head snapped towards me and he jumped up, as if ready to run.

"Wait! Mitch--"

"What?! There's not much left to live for now, is there?!"

"We can get Shanna back. I told you, it's going to take at least a year for him to fully, legally adopt her…"

"But he wants custody of her, Peyton! He wants to take her from me! He doesn't care how I feel about the subject!"

"I know Mitchell. But…maybe we'll get a judge that roots for the kids instead of the adults."

Mitchell swallowed and looked back at his mother's headstone. I followed his eyes and noticed a glint in the grass. It was that damn gun of his again.

"There's nothing left to live for, Peyton."

"Yes. Yes there is Mitchell. We are going to get Shanna back."

"Yeah, yeah." Mitchell mumbled, still staring at the headstone.

I heard a car screech to a halt some ways away.

"Mitchell, we need you for the play--"

"That's all you care about, isn't it?!" he screamed. "Your stupid play means more than my sister!"

"It doesn't!" I snapped, appalled. Remembering the gun, Mitchell probably wasn't the best person to piss off right now. "It doesn't." I said more calmly. "Take your mind off of Shanna. Then we'll do our research, get a lawyer, argue your case…We'll get her back Mitch."

"Mitchell! Peyton! Get over here right now!" Robbie barked.

"Mitchell?" I whispered. He swallowed and looked at the headstone. His eyes flickered over to Robbie every few seconds though.

"Mitchell…eh…why--why's the gun here?"

He shrugged lazily. "No reason. I told you, there's nothing left to live for."

I swallowed then and started thinking up some way to get him away from the gun for the second time.

Well, you can't kiss him. You've pulled that one before…oh! I know! Drop your shorts! That'll distract him!

Honestly, I could've punched Alex had she been standing right there.

"And I told you that you have Shanna to live for."

"Not if that fag's gonna take her away."

"Don't say that Mitchell. Maybe he's a nice guy…"

"Doubt it. Highly."

"Please Mitchell. We can always talk to him…"

"About what?" he asked, still staring at the headstone. I was beginning to believe he was staring at the gun, not the headstone though.

"About visiting. You know, like you get a certain amount of time a day with her."

"Won't happen."

"Or about you going with him?"

"He hates me. I'm not related to him."

"Okay! You're both cut from the play if you don't get over here right now!"

Robbie was pissed. I swallowed, looked back at Robbie, then back at Mitchell. I took a step closer to Mitchell; he took a step closer to the gun.

"Mitchell," I whispered again, "don't do this. You've gotta think of Shanna threw this."

"That's what hurts."

"I know. But what if she gets out of this thing. What if the judge lets her stay with you? Well…she can't very well stay with you if you're dead, now, can she?"

He swallowed. I took another step forward; he didn't move this time.

"If a frog had wings, he wouldn't bust his ass every time he tried to jump." he mumbled. It was then his eyes finally tore away from the gun. He settled them almost directly above my head. I turned slightly, yelped, and fell back.

"Okay, what the Hell is going on?! Why aren't you two at practice?!"

Neither of us said anything for a moment.

"She's here 'cos of me." Mitchell said finally.


"I ran."

"So you two aren't frolicking?"

"Nobody uses that word anymore, but no, we're not frolicking." Mitchell said smartly, looking back at the gun. Robbie offered a hand and helped me up. I looked back at Mitchell once I was standing.

"Please come back to the school Mitchell." I asked, taking another step forward.


"We need you. And a lot of us were worried."

"That your precious play was gonna be ruined?"

"Mitchell--" I stopped. "Please."

He looked at me sadly. His frown slowly faded though. And then I heard why; he was humming "Love Song". I bit my lip with a grin across them.

Leaving the gun laying in the grass, Mitchell took my outstretched hand and we followed Robbie to his car.