A/N: Hahaha…ok, I suck.
April 25 2005
"So when exactly are you heading out for Europe?" Cameron asked me one night as we lay on the couch, our legs entangled. I'd actually been studying that for the last couple of minutes, trying to figure out where his legs began and mine ended, or vice versa. I'd come to the conclusion that since I was never going to figure it out anyway, it really didn't matter whose body parts belonged to whose. We'd been spending increasingly more time like this, taking longer and longer to get disentangled when one of us would eventually have to move, which kept on leading to awkward questions, mainly from Michelle when she would burst into the house unannounced. Fortunately for her, and I guess for us as well, clothes were always on during such encounters, or else things would have gotten really bad.
"I don't know the exact dates," I said, sliding down against him just a little bit as his arms loosened and then tightened again around my collarbone. "We're supposed to be having a meeting in a few days to finally get all of the details down. I think it's going to be right after school lets out though."
"I just don't like the idea of you going that far away," he murmured into my ear, his warm breath sending a shiver down my back.
"You mean you don't like me going that far away without you," I returned playfully, turning my head as far as it would go so that I could catch a glimpse of his eyes to see if I was right. His face betrayed no expression, meaning that I was. "Look, it's just for a few weeks, and then I'll be back here, like nothing ever happened. I won't even talk about it if that'll make you happy. But I am going considering that I had to make a deposit that is non-refundable, so unless you'd like to pay me back eight hundred dollars, I think that I'll keep my reservation on this trip."
"No, for that kind of money you can go," he hurriedly agreed. I laughed and settled more firmly into him and he decided that it was safe to proceed. "And it's not that I'm trying to be controlling it's just that I'm going to miss you."
"Well, I'm coming back," I told him, flipping my head upside-down to kiss just underneath his chin. Hm. He needed to concentrate more when shaving. I noticed several spots that he'd missed this morning. "It's not like I'm moving over there. And two weeks really isn't that long of a time. You'll be fine. You're a big strong boy, you can handle things here yourself for fourteen days, can't you?"
"What if you meet a charming Frenchman who speaks to you of the evils of American society and you waltz away with him, never to return?" he asked stubbornly. I laughed, but the wheels in my Kendra brain were working furiously, and all of them came down to one conclusion-it wasn't so much a Frenchman that Cameron was worried about me leaving him for, but someone a little closer to home.
"Is that the jealousy monster I hear?" I teased lightly, trying to get him out of his mood and off this topic, but Cameron knew me too well to be sidetracked by my mocking.
"What if it is?" he asked me seriously. I was glad that I wasn't looking at him, afraid that my face might have betrayed what I was thinking. I still hadn't figured out what had happened in the library that one afternoon, but I knew that it had felt good, better than anything I'd done in a long time. And all I was doing was explaining Hamlet to an idiot who was too stupid to figure out anything on his own. But that hour had been one of the best I'd had in a long time and I'd spent some serious time on my own trying to figure out why. The final conclusion that I'd come to was that it was because I was spending time with David. This was a troubling conclusion at best and I'd done my best to deny it, but the truth still remained, no matter how much I fought against it.
"Don't be stupid," I mumbled, wishing that I'd never brought this topic up. I hadn't worked out my own feelings well enough to lie, and even if I had, I was sick of lying to Cameron. If he asked me point-blank, I'd answer honestly, and I had no idea what that would do to him. Come to think of it, how could I answer honestly, when I wasn't sure what the truth was?
"It's not a stupid question or a stupid concern," Cameron said sharply. He inhaled deeply and let the breath out slowly. "Look, I don't mean to get this way, I just do sometimes. But it's a valid point Kendra. I care about you a lot, I really do. And we've already gone over this once, and well…with you going to Europe with him for two weeks…things happen on road trips that wouldn't happen anywhere else, I know this."
"Look, if you're saying that you don't trust me, just come out and say it," I snapped. All right, maybe he was right, but I still didn't want to hang around and listen to him basically accuse me of cheating on him again. An unpleasant memory flashed up in my mind, David's hand on mine, a warm feeling spreading from my stomach to encompass my body, but I quickly tried to push that out of my mind. That had been a fluke and nothing more. Besides, David had walked away from me then, so even if I did want him; it wasn't like he wanted me in return.
"I trust you," Cameron said carefully, picking out each of his words. I waited impatiently, a thousand snippy comebacks coming to mind as he started to speak again. "It's just…I don't trust him. And when it comes to David your judgment is…well, you don't always make the best decisions when it comes to him. I'm just afraid that you'll be…you'll be swept away."
"I think we should stop this conversation before either one of us says something that we're going to forget," I said icily, extracting myself from Cameron's grasp. His arms stayed in the air a second after I had gone, until he let them fall to the couch. "If you think I'm weak or if you don't trust me, then you should just say so and let us get on with it."
"Kendra, you know that I don't think that," Cameron said, getting up from the couch and standing behind me. I refused to look at him, anger pulsing through my veins. The thought that he didn't trust me was painful enough, but the idea that he might actually be right about me and David was like a poison to me. I didn't think when David was concerned, never really had. He just had this aura about him when he was talking to you that made you feel special, even if he was insulting you. You almost wanted to thank him for taking the time out of his schedule to pay attention to you.
"Well, I don't know what you think," I snapped, turning away from him when he tried to catch my eyes. "It's clear that you don't feel that I'll be able to survive without you, that's much is certain. You know, if you feel that way then why don't you just leave?"
"It's not that, it's not that at all," Cameron said, putting his arm carefully around my shoulder and pulling me back to him. "It's just…sometimes when it comes to you I get so damn nervous that I can't think straight," he whispered, resting his forehead on my shoulder. Nice words really, and a good sentiment behind them. If only I could fully appreciate them.
"Listen, I get that, I really do, but you need to understand something," I said, turning around and facing him. "I don't think you understand how guilty I feel for everything that I put you through. I deserve every bit of your hatred and your contempt, but instead of that you gave me another chance. You're amazing and you're probably the best person that I could have ever met. I don't think you understand how much it hurts to realize that you don't trust me. And I know that I deserve it, I deserve so much more than your suspicion, but please…please just trust me," I said, gripping his hands tightly in mine.
"Kendra, I trust you with my life," Cameron whispered, hugging me tightly. I hugged him back, trying to convince myself that I was indeed trustworthy and trying to banish the memory of the library, where everything had been so close to turning out perfectly for once, and trying to forget how perfect David's hand felt on mine.
April 30 2005
"What the hell do you mean that Byron's coming with us to Europe?" I screeched at Michelle. "Why is he? What does he want there?"
"Well, I guess that he wants to see Europe," Michelle said sarcastically, taking a delicate sip from her straw as she pushed her sunglasses further up on the bridge of her nose. We sat outside on the curb during lunch, waiting for the bell to ring so that we could move onto our next class. "I mean, you know, that's just a rudimentary guess. The true reason could be something entirely different."
"I mean, why now? A few months ago he wasn't even considering the trip!" I wailed, feeling my entire world crashing down on me. A trip to Europe with my best friend was a dream come true, a trip to Europe with David and my best friend, something less than my dream come true, but still utterly wondrous enough to make me blissfully happy. A trip to Europe with my best friend, David, and Byron-that was something closer to seeing every dream that you ever had dashed into pieces right in front of you. All of my plans for this summer were falling apart with the news that Michelle had so calmly delivered to me just moments before.
"Well, I guess that something just persuaded him to come along," she said snippily. "I have no possible idea what it could have been."
All right. There was such a thing as the abuse of sarcasm. Seriously. This was just becoming ridiculous. "I don't like him," I whined plaintively.
"Well, I do, and seeing as you don't control the trip or either one of our lives, I don't really see that you have much of a say in this, do you?" she snapped, slamming her drink down so hard that several droplets came out of the straw.
"Why do you like him?" I asked curiously, trying to get to the bottom of this disturbing mystery. I'd always thought that Michelle liked her boys with a little more brain, a little less brawn, but I could have been wrong about that. She had dated several football players after all. But Byron…there was no good trait about him that I could find. I still couldn't forgive him for the bet-somehow I knew that he'd been the main architect behind it.
"I don't know," she said carelessly, tossing her long hair away from her face. She shoved her sunglasses on top of her head as she stared out at the road beneath the high school. "I guess it's because he makes me feel like I'm part of something that's bigger than me, you know? It feels like he's got the entire world cupped in his hand and I stay with him long enough maybe I'll get some of it too. It's a good feeling, being around someone that has it all. Plus, he's pretty funny and he actually is smart. I just wish that you weren't so quick to judge people sometimes Kendra. You might actually end up being pleasantly surprised by several of them."
"Yeah, I'll work on that," I said quietly, sighing softly. I knew exactly what she was talking about, that feeling of being close to something so great-it was exactly what I felt every time I was with David. It was a heady feeling, and you felt like if you stayed around them just a little bit longer you'd finally be able to achieve everything that you'd ever dreamed of. Come to think of it, it was the same feeling that I had whenever Michelle and I spent time together. Why did I spend time with people who were so much superior than I was? It just didn't make any sense.
"Besides, instead of being angry about Byron coming, there's someone else you should be angry about," Michelle said calmly, a tiny smile flitting around her lips. I turned to her, horror sparking in my stomach as my mind raced, coming to the conclusion before she spoke.
"Last time I talked to Byron he said that somehow Kallie had managed to wrangle a way onto the trip," she said, and was that a small snicker that escaped her lips? Did her shoulders shake with laughter? That bitch! Forget friendship, she was going down if she was willing to laugh at my pain!
"What?" I screeched, uncaring of who was watching or who could hear me. I really didn't give a damn because this was my trip to Europe, dammit, and it was being ruined by people that I absolutely loathed. A trip to Walmart with Kallie was like visiting Hell, and here she was going to be with me for two weeks, with no escape in sight, ruining everything that I'd ever looked forward to in my entire life.
"I think you heard me clearly enough the first time," Michelle said calmly, taking a tiny sip and smacking her lips delicately. It was really obscene how serene she could be while my entire world was falling apart in front of me. "I mean, it's not really that big of a deal, her coming, is it?"
"Oh, it's a big fucking deal," I snapped, crossing my arms viciously, hard enough to break something. "She's the devil! She's evil! She's ruining my life! I don't know why you don't see that?"
"I think that you might be overreacting," Michelle said calmly. Did nothing rile that girl? She could see thousands of children slaughtered in front of her and not bat an eyelash! She wasn't human!
"If anything I'm being entirely too calm about this!" I raged, standing up and pacing around Michelle, going off of the curb and into the road in my rage. "She's out to get me, I just know it! You don't' work with her, you don't know just how horrible she is! If you only knew her as something more than your boyfriend's best friend's girlfriend, then you'd see her true nature! She's a monster!"
"You'd better get out of the road," Michelle remarked placidly. "I'm pretty sure that cars actually do use this road-one of them might happen by."
Naturally, I ignored her warning and continued to stand in the middle of the road, unmindful of anything else that was happening around me as I continued to rant. I was so caught up in screaming my rage at Michelle and at anyone else who could hear me that I neglected to hear the car screaming around the curb or Michelle's terrified shriek as her hands flew to cover her mouth. What I did feel was arms surrounding me and picking me up, almost throwing me back onto the curb. This happened in the space of about ten seconds, long enough for me to comprehend that I was soaring through the air before I landed hard on the curb, my knees buckling under the force of impact.
"What the hell?" I snapped, looking up at the person who had just carelessly thrown me around like a sack of luggage. "What was that for?"
"Be more careful next time," David said, a small smile playing on the corners of his mouth as he panted lightly. "You're a bit heavier than you look." He sauntered off, shoving his hands into his pockets as Michelle knelt down beside me, her face white and terrified, hands flittering around me, gently touching my body, almost as if she was trying to make sure that I was all there.
"Oh my God, Kendra are you all right?" she asked in a tiny voice. I noticed that as she rested her hand on mine she was trembling slightly and her eyes were wide and shiny, like she was about to cry. "That was the scariest thing I've ever seen," she whimpered, throwing her arms around me.
"I still don't know what happened," I complained, absently hugging her back. "And what does he mean that I'm heavier than I look? I'm a freaking daisy!"
"Kendra, do you not realize what just happened?" Michelle asked in a hushed voice, unable to believe that I would be that much of an idiot. "You were almost just hit by that car. You were standing out in the middle of the road, not paying attention to anything and then that car just came tearing out of nowhere-if David hadn't been there to pull you out of the road you would have been hit."
I thought and it slowly came to me-I could remember hearing the squealing of tires and hearing everyone's shocked and horrified gasps as they saw what I could obviously not. I remembered Michelle's tiny shriek as she called out my name, and not knowing why she was sounding so worried. Shock set in as I figured out just how close I had come to actual, serious hurt and my knees gave out.
"Oh my god," I said slowly, bringing a trembling hand to my forehead to wipe away a strand of hair. "Oh my god. I think he might have just saved my life."
"Yeah," Michelle said, her voice still sounding awed. "Oh God Kendra, that was so terrifying." She hugged me tightly, a move that was not like her at all, and refused to let go, even when I started to cough in embarrassment.
"Um…you can let me go now, if you want," I finally said when the bell rang. She held onto me for another few seconds and then slowly pulled away, her eyes looking strangely misty when she looked at me. This was becoming rather terrifying-Michelle was never sentimental, never let such a weakness like tears affect her dealings with anyone, not even me. I could count on one hand the times that I'd seen her cry in our years of friendship, and one of those was when her grandmother died and she got the call at my house. Michelle never cried, and here she was, about ready to spill out some buckets. "Michelle?" I asked, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"If you do something stupid like that again I swear to God I'll kill you myself," she said crisply, standing up and running one perfectly manicured hand through her hair. I smiled at her as she sauntered away, perfectly content to have her back again. I spared a look over my shoulder at the road where everything had almost tragically ended earlier before I followed her back into the school.
I walked down the halls, my ears still slightly ringing. I still felt like I wasn't all there, like everything that was happening was just a dream and I couldn't get a firm grip on reality. I kept on walking until I ran straight into someone. I looked up in a daze to meet David's fathomless deep brown eyes.
"Watch where you're going," he warned kindly, a smile starting his eyes, but getting lost somewhere around his mouth. "After all, not looking out for yourself is what got you into trouble in the first place."
"David…what can I say to you to thank you?" I murmured, touching his arm gently. "You've probably just saved my life, and you act like it was nothing." This time the smile did reach his lips, but it was a sad smile as he sighed and brushed a strand of my hair behind my ear.
"At the risk of sounding like an idiot, you're all the thanks that I need," he murmured, patting my cheek before strolling off. I stared after him; still not sure of exactly what had happened. How had he even gotten there in time? Was he almost like my guardian angel, protecting me from every ill that could possibly occur? No, that was just too ridiculous and sappy, almost like the plot of a bad soap opera that had been abandoned. But of course, this was my life, and I don't know-the idea of David being kind of like a guardian figure watching over me filled me with a kind of contentment, something to hold close when I wasn't feeling good. It was an idea of being cared for, even when there was no outward sign of it. And I managed to get all of this from a happy coincidence. I love the way that my mind works sometimes.
Watching him walk away I made a split-second decision. "David!" I called after him, running up to him and standing on my toes to give him a swift kiss on his cheek. "Thank you," I murmured, walking away before he could say something else that would completely ruin the moment. I chanced a glance behind me just to see what he would do, and he wasn't doing anything, just staring after me with that unfathomable look in his eyes as he reached up to brush his cheek with his fingertips.
May 2 2005
"So we need to make prom plans," Michelle said one night when the six of us were gathered at a restaurant. We seemed to be doing more of these disturbing triple dates, something which was not good for my blood pressure, or David's it appeared, from the slightly maniacal grin that he had plastered on his face. "I mean, it's just a few weeks away and we haven't done anything for it yet."
"You've had your dress since February," I felt the need to point out; ignoring the nasty look that Michelle shot my way.
"I mean, we haven't done any of the prom night plans," she clarified. "We haven't picked a restaurant, we haven't gotten transportation plans, we haven't figured out whose house we're spending the night at-we haven't done anything!" she cried, desperation in her every fiber. After all, this was Prom, the highlight of the fairly popular girl's high school year, and Michelle was an expert at pulling off Prom and Homecoming. This would be her fourth Prom and she had it down to an art form, yet still felt the need to obsessively check every small detail before embarking on a night that promised little more than sore feet and perhaps even a hangover if one was lucky enough to get invited to the good after-parties. Sorry if I'm cynical, but Prom really didn't mean that much to me, a fact that had horrified Michelle from the moment that she brought it up when we first met.
"We're all eating at the same restaurant?" Cameron asked, furrowing his brow in surprise. "This is the first that I've heard about it." He didn't want to! Good man. Time for a quiet night out with just me and him, not having to worry about any other idiots-"I think that's a pretty good idea though. Did you have any particular place in mind?"
Forget what I just said. He's an idiot.
"There are a few places I have in mind," Michelle practically purred, leaning across the table and-wait, was she batting her eyelashes at him? All right, this was entirely too ridiculous to continue. No one else seemed to notice just how horrible the situation was, although none of them looked too entirely happy to be there: Kallie was watching the entire scenario with Michelle and Cameron for lack of something better to do, Byron looked like he was asleep and David looked like he had a vicious stomachache.
"Do we need to eat together?" I asked pathetically. "I mean, it's just…I know that you guys probably want some alone time, right? I mean, Prom night, it's a night for couples, not for groups?" I smiled winningly, hoping that my ploy would work on Michelle, always a sucker for alone time with her current boyfriend.
"But what is couple time if we can't share in the joy of friendship?" Michelle asked, an evil grin sliding over her face. I stared at her, slack-jawed for a moment before I could regain my composure. The simple answer to this entire puzzle was of course, that Michelle was trying to kill me. That would actually explain a lot, come to think of it. But she had something cooking and I just couldn't figure out what it was. I'd feel a lot better when the answer occurred to me.
"Aw, that's so sweet," Byron said, awakening from his stupor to chuck Michelle under the chin as he leered at her. To everyone else's credit they looked like they were about to be sick as well. Perhaps they weren't such a lost cause after all.
"It's not really that big of a deal Kendra," Cameron said, finally coming out of his diabetic coma caused by the nauseating amount of sweetness emanating from Michelle and Byron. That had to be an act. I prayed that it was an act for some diabolical purpose, because if it wasn't then I had just lost all respect for my best friend. "I mean, it's nice to be able to spend your senior prom with your friends you know?"
Everyone turned to me, a polite look of confusion on their face as they wondered why I was just so opposed to the idea of spending Prom night in their company. I couldn't exactly say that I despised two of them and the other one I was worried about spending two minutes with alone, terrified of what might happen between us.
"If that's what you guys really want, then I guess it's all right," I said miserably, sinking down as low in my seat as I possibly could until only my forehead showed. I hoped that someone would take pity on the miserable tone in my voice and say "But if that bothers you, then of course we won't do it Kendra! You're the most important person in my life, so if you're miserable, then how can I be happy? Whatever you want, and that's what we'll do!"
"I knew you'd come around to my way of thinking soon enough Kendra!" Michelle grinned. Seriously. There should be a law against showing all of your teeth in a grin. It's just creepy. "Now, where should we eat again?"
I looked around helplessly as thousands of restaurant ideas were bandied around, each of them sounding less appetizing than the next. My eyes finally lit on David, who looked just as hopeless as I did in that moment. He met my eyes and smiled ruefully, almost hopelessly as he flicked his eyes over the chatting group. He shrugged at me, almost as if to say What are you going to do with them? I had no idea how he could be so accepting of these people-I personally wanted to rip everyone's head off and use them to play basketball with, but maybe that was just me being irrationally violent.
When did I start hating everyone around me? All right, fair's fair, I usually violently disliked most people, but lately I'd noticed it turning into a definite loathing and not just for random people that I saw on the street-these were people like Chastity, Cameron, and even Michelle, people that I'd known for huge amounts of time and suddenly I couldn't stand being around them. I had no idea why-they hadn't changed, I had. With a sinking feeling I realized that I was becoming an actual, bonafide bitch. I'd always been called that, worn the title rather proudly, because I knew that it wasn't entirely true-I was just bitchy to people who I didn't like or who were bitchy to me first. But now I was attacking people, picking fights with my best friends, and manipulating people like I'd never done before. My stomach squirmed guiltily as I thought about David and Cameron and how I managed to destroy both of their lives for a few weeks. You had to admit, that took some measure of talent for destruction.
"Kendra!" Michelle snapped. I looked up sharply, my eyes wide and startled. Michelle-I'd hurt her too, hadn't I? Even though we were past that fight now, I could still remember the betrayal in her eyes when she caught me in the classroom with David-the look of raw disbelief and hurt making her face more vulnerable than I'd ever seen it.
"What? Sorry, kind of dozed off," I answered, mind swimming with my actions in the past months.
"Yeah, no kidding, welcome back," she answered tartly, smiling sarcastically at me. "Anyways, what I was saying before pulling you back from the Great Beyond-how's Pablo's sound to you? They've got some really good pasta and their desserts aren't half bad-expensive as hell, but then again, you're not really paying for it are you?"
"Thanks a lot," Cameron mumbled, glaring at her innocent smile. "Some of us have college tuition to save up for, you know?" he asked, looking at David and Byron for support.
"Yeah, some of us," Byron answered, looking warily at Michelle. I didn't exactly know why he was looking so worried, seeing as his family was loaded, but that look also made me wonder just how much Michelle was milking him for. Ah-hah-perhaps I'd caught another reason why she'd stayed with him for so long: it was difficult to give up a gravy train once you'd gotten used to it after all.
"Have fun with that," David yawned, shoving his hands into his pockets as he casually glanced around the table. From the careful way that he arranged his legs I knew that this entire conversation had to be planned out and probably rehearsed by now, a sign that nothing good was about to happen.
"What do you mean?" Michelle predictably asked, her brow furrowing as she tried to figure out why David, one of the top people in his class (no idea why, I thought he was stupid as hell), wouldn't be the least little bit worried about college plans or tuition.
"Well, I'm not going to college am I?" he said, the calm smile hiding the conflicted expression in his eyes. From the careful blank expression on Byron's face I could tell that he'd already heard this plan, but it was evidently news to the rest of us, including Kallie as her mouth dropped open and she almost started to hyperventilate. Ha. There's one bragging privilege that's lost-can't lord it over everyone that your boyfriend got into the best colleges now can you?
"What are you going to do instead?" I snapped, not knowing why I cared so much about this. After all, it wasn't like I was a vital part of David's life, or vice versa. "Work at Burgers and Such for the rest of your life? That's going to look pretty good when you're forty."
"Well, I was actually thinking about joining the Marines," he said easily, taking a sip from his drink as he grinned widely. Kallie's horrified look dissipated-Marines were after all; better than being accepted into Harvard. They ran more. "And when I was saying thinking about joining I mean that I go to basic training almost immediately after we get back from Europe. It was just decent timing when you think about it."
How could he be so blasé about this entire thing? It was just ridiculous. Here he was, throwing his entire future away without a second thought and he was sitting here smiling and sipping on his sweet tea like he had just announced that he'd enjoyed his dinner. Did he not realize that this decision wasn't something that he could walk away from whenever he wanted to, like he'd done with everything else that hadn't worked out perfectly the first time he tried it? Ok, not bitter at all, judging from that last statement. I should probably not bring that up when trying to convince him to stay.
"You do realize that you're going to go overseas," Cameron said quietly. I shot him a grateful glance and then felt immediately guilty for it. I should not be grateful to my boyfriend for trying to convince a one-time fling to stay. I should not want him to stay. I should want him to do whatever he felt was best for his life and not care overly much about what happened to him, just accept it. I shouldn't be feeling this huge ripping sensation that was spreading through my entire body, the pain growing sharper when I concentrated on the thought of him leaving and never returning until I wanted to scream in torment. Why did it feel like my soul was being torn out of the careful casing that I'd sealed it in? Why did I care so damn much?
"Yeah," David said carelessly, and I was seized with the strong desire to hit him across the face.
"Have you talked to your parents about this?" Michelle asked. She was either keeping a remarkable rein on her temper or else Byron had already told her. Considering the expression on her face she'd known for at least three days, since her eyes had the heavy look of acceptance and her voice sounded weary, almost like she was just going through the motions of trying to change his mind, all the while knowing that nothing on this earth could dissuade him from his choice.
"Yeah," David said slowly, and for the first time I noticed a shadow of doubt cross his face. "They weren't really happy about it and Aaron threw a fit, but they said that they'd do whatever it took to support me if this was really what I wanted to do."
"Why?" I asked, biting my lip to keep from saying anything else, afraid that I wouldn't be able to control the quiver in my voice. Then I would begin to sob and everything would be lost. I kept my eyes firmly fixated on the table, not wanting David to see my shining eyes and get the wrong idea-but what was the right idea? What exactly did I want him to think? I didn't want him to think that this was tearing me apart, but I wanted him to know that I still cared, that no matter what he did I would always care about what happened to him. "Why the Marines?" I asked, hating myself for the tiny tremor that crept into my voice.
"I've been batting it around my head for months now," David said, biting his lower lip in thought. "I don't know-just watching everything that's going wrong in the world and seeing everyone getting hurt-you start feeling like you need to do something or else just go crazy, you know?"
I stared at David, wondering just what he was hiding underneath that carefree exterior. It was so rare that I heard him actually speak seriously, that it caught me off-guard every time it happened. I'd never realized how much David cared about events that were happening in the world at large, never known that he could give a damn about anyone despite himself and a few select individuals that were close to him. He smiled at everyone gathered around the table, trying to put all of us at ease as he nodded.
After that none of us could really say anything to try to talk him out of that-how do you talk someone out of their desire to save the world? We just continued to make small talk for the rest of the night, a slight cloud hanging over our conversation as we realized that this might be one of the last times that we were able to be gathered here together like this. Worry for David dampened our moods, the thought of not being able to see him every day, not knowing where he was making us all tense. It finally got so bad that we cut the night short and decided to go home instead of wandering around like we'd been planning to do earlier.
I went into the bathroom before we left, needing a moment alone to collect my thoughts and be able to face Cameron alone. I really hoped that we wouldn't have another conversation about David, because I honestly didn't believe that I could emerge from that with both of us intact. The bathroom door closed behind me and I leaned against the wall for a second, taking in a deep breath as I tried to settle my mind.
"Kendra? Can I come in for a second?" Yeah, because that was exactly what I needed to settle my mind. Without waiting for an answer, the door opened and David slid in, shutting the door behind him and locking it.
"Um…excuse you?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at him and trying to figure out just why he would feel the need to come in here and talk. I'd thought that we were done with this, sneaking into closed spaces in secret.
"I just wanted to explain," he said, looking unusually apologetic. "It's not because of you." I looked at him in confusion and he quickly extrapolated. "It's not because of you that I'm leaving," he said, nodding like this should clear everything up. "I really meant what I said in there-I feel like I need to do something, like if I don't do something then my entire head is going to explode and I'm just going be sitting in college wondering what the hell happened."
"I didn't even think it was because of me," I said truthfully. The thought had never crossed my mind that he would actually bother to give up his future plans because of me. I'd assumed that he hadn't cared that much about me enough to change his evening drive, let alone his plans for his entire future. "I believed you when you were telling us just a few minutes ago."
"Really?" he asked, rubbing the back of his head in surprise. "I would have thought for sure that you would assume it was because of you. You looked a little troubled when you came in here, so I thought that I should just try to alleviate your worrying."
"Well, sorry to disappoint, but I'm not actually that narcissistic that I think that you do everything because of me," I answered him, feeling snippy and folding my arms as I leaned up against the sink, still glaring at him.
"Good, didn't think that you were anymore," David answered lowly, moving to stand beside me. Aw, that was so cute-wait a second, what did he mean by anymore?
"You used to be that narcissistic," he said with a knowing look. "Really, please don't even try to deny it."
"Well, I guess that I've just grown and learned," I snapped. I mean, really, who wants to know all of their personality flaws, especially when I'd been reflecting on this fact for the last few weeks? David didn't seem to be too affected by this answer; as a matter of fact he just smiled indulgently and nodded slowly, like he was pleased with something.
"I just thought that I'd clear that up if you had any problems with that," he said softly, not making any move to get up. I glanced over at him and he looked like he was trying to work out a difficult problem in his head. He felt my eyes on him and turned to me, a look of mild puzzlement on his face. He opened his mouth, changed his mind and closed it, then repeated the entire process.
"Spit it out," I snapped, anxiety building within me as I looked at him. My heart was beating faster and I could faintly feel my arms trembling. This was not good. David had that contemplative look on his face like he was deciding to jump off a cliff-it was the look of someone that had really nothing to lose. My opinion of his look was confirmed when he stood in front of me and raised my chin so that I was facing him.
"You know, looking at you, I'm terrified of leaving," he whispered, thumb caressing my cheekbone. "Because whenever I look at you I feel like I'm leaving something incredibly important behind. I just…I kind of missed you, you know?"
"David…please, not now," I whispered, covering his hand with mine. I turned my head into his hand, my breath catching as David's other hand rested on my waist, just above my hip. "Just…it's a bad time now," I said, looking up at him pleadingly.
"Kendra, school's almost over," he said, smiling kindly at me, like he understood the secrets of the universe and I just couldn't fathom them, even if he told them to me. "There might not be another time."
"It's just…I've tried really hard not to think about you, not to worry about it, and I just can't," I confessed, reaching up to rest my hand on the back of his neck. "I tried to forget about you and whatever I feel when I'm around you, but the harder I try the more that I just want to be with you," I finished, digging my nails into the back of his neck.
"Kendra," David breathed out, his whisper moving over me and into me. I could feel it reverberating through my body, rattling my bones and interrupting my heartbeat. I gripped him tighter and he moved down, or I leaned up over him-I wasn't exactly sure who moved in this scenario, but either way it didn't matter because our lips brushed up against each other, hesitating slightly, before crushing together in a possessive kiss, his tongue slipping into my mouth after just a few seconds.
My arms wrapped around his neck as I leaned up into him. He gathered me to him hungrily, as he had done before, one arm on my neck, his hand buried in my hair, his other arm wrapped around my waist, his fingers easily brushing aside the hem of my shirt so that his fingertips could dance over the skin on my waist. I made a noise into David's mouth which he readily swallowed, his fingers pushing on the back of my head, moving me closer to him.
We finally had to part to breathe but we did not separate. Our foreheads were touching, noses brushing; our mouths so close together that our panted breaths might as well have been from the same person. It was then that I realized that David's superior strength had literally lifted me off of the ground so that I was completely even with him. He maneuvered over so that I could sit on the edge of the sink. As soon as I hit the resistance of the sink my legs wrapped around David's waist keeping him stationary as I pulled him closer to me. He could never be close enough.
"Kendra," he said again, one hand playing with the loose strands of hair that just barely wisped against the side of my neck. He leaned over, brushing his lips against the side of my neck, tongue flicking out to taste the skin before he rested his head on my shoulder, hugging me close to him.
"David," I whispered, feeling complete for the first time in a long time. I finally knew what I had to do. I couldn't keep on pretending to Cameron or to myself for any longer. Keeping this secret had made my life miserable for months on end and it was finally time to end the torture that I had been putting myself through because I was too proud to admit to myself that I actually needed someone else.
"I need to go," I whispered to him, rubbing his cheek with my fingertips. He made a questioning noise and held on tighter to me.
"You're not going anywhere," he whispered fiercely, fingertips actually digging blunt half-moon marks into my skin. "I don't care if we have to live in this bathroom for the rest of our lives; I'm not letting you leave. I've made that mistake several times already. You're not going anywhere," he vowed, burying his face into my shoulder.
"I need to go," I told him, slowly separating my body from his, though it almost killed me to do so, "I need to go so that I can tell Cameron what's happening." David pondered this statement for a moment, trying to figure out exactly what I meant, and smiled delightedly when he finally garnered the whole meaning behind my sentence.
"All right," he said, pressing swift kisses to my lips, arms still entwined around my waist. "All right," he kept on saying. I could sense his reluctance to let me go coursing through his entire body, fingertips gripping my skin tightly. I pulled away from him, walking backwards as David refused to part from me. He continued to kiss me even as my hands fumbled with the doorknob, slowly turning it.
"You've got to let me go," I whispered to him, gripping his wrists and gently removing his hands from my body. "I need to go and I need to explain to everyone exactly what's happening. I really don't want Cameron to find out like this. He's my best friend," I explained, feeling the need to tell David everything.
"All right," he said, pressing one final kiss to my lips before letting me leave. I heard the door close behind me and walked out to the foyer, feeling lighter than I had in months. Finally, I had a solution. And though I knew that it was going to hurt Cameron, knew that it might destroy him, I had to do this. I had to do this for me. I was done trying to please everyone-it just ended up with everyone getting disappointed and me thrown into various phases of torment. It was time to finally end it and to let me have something which had been denied to me for so long.
"Hey, took you long enough," Cameron said as I rejoined the group. Was I imagining things, or was there a flicker of unsettlement in his eyes? I shrugged and made up some pathetic excuse and stood a slight distance away from him, trying to make this easier for both of us.
"I think we're just going to go ahead and leave," Cameron said, opening the door for me (he was opening the door for me! How much of an asshole could he make me feel like?) and stepping outside. "We'll see you guys tomorrow."
We walked to the car in silence. Thousands of beginning words for our conversation started and died on my tongue, all of them sounding careless and needlessly cruel. Cameron was my best friend, had been for years, and it was becoming impossible for me to break up with him. He was just too decent. I've never met a nicer guy, one who least deserved any of the shit that I'd been heaping on him for the past few months.
We got into his truck and shut the doors behind us. I took a deep breath and turned to him, determined to just get this over with as fast as I could, but Cameron spoke before I could even find the words to begin.
"I think that I'm going to break up with you," he said firmly, looking at me with an impassive face. My mouth dropped open as I stared at him. Was he actually saying what I thought he was saying or was it just my wishful thinking?
"What?" I managed to get out. Cameron steamrollered on, ignoring my small attempts to talk.
"Kendra, I'm going to break up with you. Please don't talk or else I'll lose all of my nerve." He turned to me and then decided that looking away was best. He stared out at the emptying parking lot, rubbing his forehead as he tried to think. "Look, I love you. I love you almost more than I can put into coherent sentences. But you're not happy. You're content and I think you could be that for the rest of your life if you wanted to, but you're not really happy, and you deserve that, you deserve that more than anything else in the world. I want you to be happy, and I think that there's no way that you're ever going to be happy without him."
"Cameron," I whispered, reaching out to grab his hand. He skillfully moved it before I ever touched it, smiling sadly at me.
"Kendra, I see the way that you look at him when you think that no one else is looking, and I see the way that he looks at you when everyone else's head is turned. You…you'd never look at me like that," he stated simply, looking into the distance again. "Listen, it's just better this way, all right? And I know that it's what you want, so please don't even try to talk me out of changing my mind. You're amazing Kendra, and you deserve someone who's going to be able to bring out your best qualities. And…that's just not me," he finished, turning the car on and pulling out of the parking lot.
We traveled the rest of the way home in silence as I tried to come up with the right thing to say. Cameron was a wall, his face giving nothing away, at least nothing I could see by the dim, intermittent lights of the streetlights that we passed under. We finally got to my house, where Cameron stopped the car and turned to me, a smile playing around his mouth. He must have either come to terms with this decision a long time ago, or had a hell of a poker face, because he looked genuinely happy for me.
"Cameron…I'll always love you," I finally managed to say. "It was just…I hope that you find someone who'll give you everything that you deserve," I finally managed to say, leaning forward and kissing his cheek before bolting from the car and into the house without looking back. I could hear his truck pulling out of the driveway, but it didn't sound like he was peeling rubber, so he couldn't have been hiding how upset he was from me.
I walked into the house, feeling guilty at what I had done to Cameron, but at the same time, feeling so relieved that for once everything was finally working out for me. Mom looked at me as I closed the door, her eyebrow quirking questioningly.
"Cameron didn't come in?" she asked, taking a pot off the stove and letting it cool before stirring whatever was inside. "I would have thought that he would have at least gotten some hot chocolate or something."
"No, he just broke up with me," I said slowly, biting my lip as I thought of all the possible consequences of this statement.
"What?" Mom cried, looking at me in surprise. "Are you all right? Do you want me to go out and get chocolate? Do you need me to do anything?" She surrounded me with an enormous hug, squeezing the air out me as she started to rock me back and forth.
"Actually, I think that I'm all right," I pondered, not exactly concentrating on what I was saying. My mind was still dwelling on David's wondering expression, the feeling that his hands could inspire within me that no one else could. For the first time I was finally free to pursue whatever I wanted, I was finally free to go after what I wanted. Cameron would be all right, I knew that he would. His look had convinced me of that. And I…I was free to be with the one person that I adored in this world.
Life, for once, was looking up. Never mind the small clouds on the horizon; I would deal with those when I got there. For now, there was just me and David, and the few weeks ahead of us with no worries at all.
May 10 2005
"God, I don't think you understand how much I missed you," David sighed, running his hand over the small of my back, causing me to giggle and squirm away from his touch. I curled up closer to him, smiling as I buried my face into his chest and he slung his arm around me, pulling me closer to him.
"I think that I can guess," I murmured, throwing an arm over his stomach and closing my eyes. "Because I'm guessing that it was just about as much as I missed you."
"Fair enough," he said, resting his head on mine. I sighed in a post-coital haze, too busy contemplating on how perfect my life was to worry about anything else, like the fact that I needed to go home in about ten minutes and I had a massive amount of work due for all my classes. Right there was David's arm curled around me, his comforting presence reassuring me that everything was all right. His arm was a comfortable mass, pressing me down into the mattress.
"I need to go soon," I brought up hesitantly, turning to look at him. He smiled down, looking so beautiful and otherworldly for a moment that it made me catch my breath. He nodded and ran a fingertip down my arm, making the skin dimple and a shiver run down my spine.
"Yeah, I know," he whispered, pressing a kiss to my temple and gently scratching my scalp. "Sure you don't just want to stay here?" he asked, smiling mischievously.
"Don't tempt me," I groaned, rolling over onto my back and staring at the ceiling to avoid having to look David in the eyes. If I looked at him it would be all too easy to forget that I needed to be home, that I needed to be doing work, and just stay with him. That was the danger with David-you could easily forget the world and stay wrapped up in him, not even needing to eat because he managed to fulfill all the basic requirements of life effortlessly.
"All right," he whispered, pulling the covers off of me without warning. I cried out and curled into a ball against the sudden chill that hit my body. "You need to get going," he said, a tiny playful smirk darting around his lips as he watched me gather my clothes and reluctantly slide into them. I glared at him where he was still cocooned in his warm bed, leaning up on one arm and watching with great interest as I pulled my shirt back on and slipped into my shoes.
"You know that you're going to have to get out of bed and walk me to the door, right?" I asked tartly, glaring at him. He was just much too comfortable while I had to get out and go into the real world again, the place where not everything was wonderful.
"I was planning on it," he answered, beckoning me closer towards the bed. Never one to resist temptation, I eagerly walked towards him, a small cry of surprise escaping me as he easily pulled me to the bed to lie down beside him.
"But that doesn't have to happen for a few more minutes yet, right?" he asked, snuggling close to me. My arms wrapped around him, pulling him closer to me as my eyes fluttered shut, perfectly content with him next to me.
And for a few short moments, everything in the world was perfect.