A/N: I suck. I know I suck. I'm so sorry, ten months is pretty pitiful... I'm a horrible updater and people are constantly wondering if I'm dead or alive and I'M SORRY. The saddest part is that this is my easiest story to write, I love it to little tiny pieces. Where I struggle with all my other stories under my other name, this is the one that takes me no time at all to work on. Which is why I keep ignoring it—because it comes so easy to me. But it ends here (I hope). I'm going to finish this story and then actually work on the sequel that I have worked out for it (did you honestly think I could give up on a character like Roth?) and I'm going to focus. That's right: I'll focus. Okay, I'm done rambling now...

Love should never be a secret.
If you keep something as complicated as love
stored up inside, it could make you sick.
-Unknown

Chapter Fourteen: Happy New Years...Can I Go Now?

I decided to go with the best timing in the world, since I have no idea what his reaction to my feelings would be. For all I know, it'd be instant disgust. Just because he says I can do better than Robbie doesn't mean that he's offering himself for the job...no matter how much I would like that. He's got his dream girl and it doesn't seem like he's allowing himself to be distracted from her.

Lucky her.

I wonder if she even knows how lucky she is; what a wonderful man she has devoted to her and how she would never have to question his love. No matter how rude and blunt he is, Roth is the kind of guy a girl wants. He's dependable, he's loyal, he'll go to the mat for someone he cares about, I know he'd be faithful, he's honest (kind of a scary quality, but a highly wanted one nonetheless), he's kind (in a quiet, kind of backwards way), he's very intelligent, he's very capable, and he's independent.

And, as I'm sure you can tell, I'm in love with him.

There, I've actually written it down: I love him. I honestly love him and there's nothing I can do about it. Because I'm a coward and I'm afraid of what will happen to our relationship if I drop that bomb on him. Besides, all admitting it would do is mess with our relationship because there will always be that girl. And she's not me. He'll never return my feelings, so why chance it?

I can even see how that conversation would go...

Me: Roth, this has taken me forever to say and I can't believe that I actually have the courage to say this in the first place, but: I love you.

Roth: Tameka Janelle, have you forgotten how many times I've told you about the girl I'm in love with? That's not going to change any time soon.

Me: ...Sorry.

Roth: It's okay, I just don't feel the same way about you.

Me: Is this going to change our relationship?

Roth: I like to say no, but we both know that that's not true. Now that your feelings are out in the open there's no chance that things are ever going to be the same. I don't know how people can ever delude themselves into thinking that things won't change after something like that.

Me: Oh...

Mr. Abernathy, I don't want to have that conversation with him. Which is why the fact that I don't know whether or not he heard me is driving me insane. I don't even know whether or not this conversation is in our future, so I don't know if I need to prepare myself for it. Moreover, if he heard me he's been doing a great job of acting like he didn't. And if he didn't hear me, well...then I guess he's been acting normal.

The car ride home was silent between the two of us; he was too busy bickering with Robbie and I spent the entire time silently freaking out and trying to figure out whether or not he had heard me. Thankfully Roth was too busy to notice the panic attack I was having in the seat beside him. And he spent the entirety of today working on the sound system for the party, since he's a whiz at anything that has to do with electronics. Robbie just pointed him at the system and Roth rolled his eyes and got to work. Whereas I had to spend the entire day getting the house ready for the party and buying all the supplies. Robbie was acting like a dictator the entire time and I kept wanting to point out to him that I was volunteering to help him and that I didn't have to put up with his crap. And when he wasn't bothering me, he was calling all his friends to let them know about the party and figuring out what he wanted to wear for the night.

After today, I think I kind of hate him.

However, I was glad that he was keeping me away from Roth for the whole day. By around four in the afternoon I realized that I hadn't said more than "hello" to Roth during the day. A lot of this had to do with fear and also because I was afraid that he'd ask me how I was and that I'd blurt out something stupid like: "I love you". So yeah...there was a lot of fear.

Anyways, by four in the afternoon I thought I was home free and I was seriously entertaining the belief that I could make it out of the Gonzalez house without making a complete fool of myself (read: without talking to Roth). However, that apparently wasn't in the cards for me. Just as I was getting ready to leave, Roth called for me from the living room and I may have had to bite back a scream of absolute terror at the sound of his voice. However, after taking a deep breath, I readied myself for him to ask about what I had said last night, and walked into the living room.

"Yeah?" I asked as I made my way into the room.

He was staring down at a stack of CDs, his hair falling into his eyes as he stared down at the cases intently and then he brought his head up and stared me in the eye. "Why the hell does Robbie have a Spice Girls album?" He asked, holding up the case.

"He...uh...went through a phase?" I replied, biting back a smile and thinking about the massive crush Robbie had always had on Baby Spice.

"Why does he still have it?" He asked and then shook his head, "For someone who believes that my music taste is bordering on that of a cutter, I don't see why he asked me to pick out the CDs for his party."

"Haven't you heard? People are listening to Muse and Snow Patrol now—you're in style."

He rolled his eyes at that, "Jeez, that's what I've always wanted to hear." He muttered dryly, "People don't want to listen to my kind of music when they're coming to one of these kinds of parties. They want the kind of music they can dry hump each other to." He yawned and tossed the CDs onto the sofas, all of which that had been pushed up against the walls.

I shrugged, "You're probably right." I announced and then frowned when he sat down on the couch and dropped his face into his hands. "Are you okay?"

"I spent all night trying to keep Robbie from roaming the house in his projectile vomiting state." He murmured through his hands and then rubbed his face tiredly, "Moreover, he wouldn't shut up."

"I'm sorry." I said softly and sympathetically.

"Because I blame you." He said dryly and then stood up, "I'll be fine, Tameka Janelle—I'll just sleep before the party." And with that Mr. Abernathy, he left the room.

DID HE HEAR ME OR NOT?!

Anyway, by ten I was seriously contemplating not even going to Robbie's party. Yeah, I know; after all the work I did for the stinking thing I should of course be going, but...I didn't feel like it at all. I don't really like parties and besides, it was a Robbie party. For me that is now synonymous with an orgy. So at around ten I was trying to figure out whether or not I should watch the Law & Order: CI marathon or pop in my first season of Criminal Minds and have my own little marathon; a Spencer Reid marathon. (I opted for the hot nerd in the glasses—as you know/obviously I have a type.)

Anyway, it's almost eleven now (okay, 10:36pm, if you must know) and I'm kind of glad that I opted to stay home. I really didn't want to dress up for the thing and I didn't want to see anyone's reaction to Roth's new look. I know I won't be the only one to think he's extremely hot. All the promiscuous women that Robbie invited will probably be all over Roth moments after meeting him. It's an annoying but very possible thought. Personally, I don't think it's fair that they even think they have a chance with him when they were probably all the ones that scorned him before. Do they not think that he'll hold a grudge? If nothing else, he remembers how they treated him.

Granted, he'd probably go along with all their flirting just for research for his thesis.

Why does he have to be such a good student?

I will not let jealousy make me head over to that party, Mr. Abernathy. I refuse to act like some jealous idiot, especially when I know that I don't have a chance with Roth anyways—he's in love with his dream girl. All those other girls and I don't stand a chance, we never did.

It's a depressing thought though, but at least I know he won't let their flirting go too far.

Hold on, I need to turn the sound up louder—I can barely hear Gideon and Reid over the sound of Robbie's party. Why does his music have to be that loud? Doesn't he realize that other people on the street are trying to have our own New Years celebrations? Do we all have to be subjected to his music? He's such an inconsiderate boob...how'd I never notice this before?

My blinders were made of some seriously thick stuff, weren't they?

Anyways, I've decided that Roth didn't hear me because if he had he would've said something by now, right? He'd mock me or ridicule me or at least let me know that he didn't feel the same way and that I should give up on that idea right now...right? He wouldn't just let me go on wondering if I had just made a huge fool or myself or not.

Oh God, he's the type of guy that would totally let me just sit around and wonder. Not to say that he's horrible or anything, but it's just who he is. I can't believe I ever let myself utter those words! What is wrong with me? Why didn't I just shut up? Why did I allow such things to come out of my mouth?! I'm an idiot! That's what I get to go into the new year realizing: I am an idiot. I could've just ruined my relationship with Roth Socorro Gonzalez because I am an idiot. Because he's right (okay, I realize that he never actually said it, Imaginary Roth did...): if he heard, it's never going to be the same between the two of us again.

We can try and act like there's a chance that it could be the same, but we'll both always know that it'll never be the same again. If Roth had told me that he loved me (wow...let me bask in the bliss of that for a moment...) and I hadn't known that I was completely in love with him and instead thought that I loved Robbie, I'd have been really nervous around him. I'd probably take to avoiding him and we would never be able to talk to each other the same way again. It'd just always be really awkward; so why would I expected it to be any different with Roth? Do I think him incapable of feeling completely uncomfortable around me and trying at all costs to stay away from me? I already know that's he's great at avoiding me if he feels like it and I don't think I could handle the silent treatment again, not now anyways.

So obviously that is not an option.

I just hope he didn't hear me.


Well Mr. Abernathy, you know how it goes: if you can't beat them, join them. Which I decided to do around the time I realized that listening to Criminal Minds with the volume all the way up wasn't doing me any good—Kanye West's Stronger was breaking my concentration (which is seriously needed when watching an episode of that show). And instead of cursing Robbie and his selfishness, I opted to get dressed and go enjoy the party I helped set up (yeah, a bit hypocritical of me, but my God—it was/is so freaking loud, there was nothing else that could've been done besides calling the police on my best friend's party).

I hate it here.

It's loud, humid, smells of sweat and faintly of vomit (eww), and it's dark. Granted not dark enough that I couldn't see three scantly clad girls rubbing themselves on Roth. They were doing it in time to the music, but it still seemed a little primal. I couldn't see Roth's face, but I bet he enjoyed it. I may think him better and above most guys, but he IS a guy—he's got hormones just like everyone else. Doesn't change the fact that I think they're sluts, though.

Anyways, at the moment I'm in Robbie's room writing by the light of his desk lamp. I'm not sure where he is (Robbie) although I think I saw him heading towards Mr. & Mrs. Gonzalez's room with two girls. At least I hope that was him, because the only other person that looks anything like him at this party is Roth. And not that I have any right to agonize over the state of Roth's virginity, but I hope that he wouldn't give it up in pursuit of a clichéd male fantasy. He's stayed a virgin for so long that it would be sad for him to lose it now.

Unless one of those girls was the girl.

...That's a distressing thought.

I really hope that wasn't Roth that I saw.

Um...I think it's time for me to relocate. A random couple wants to use this room now.


Okay, now I'm in Roth's room and am thinking less now of my fellow peers than ever before, but I suppose that doesn't matter... Have I ever described Roth's bedroom? It's a really nice room: his walls are a beautiful shade of dark green (kind of like a cross of emerald and hunter green) and he has light exposed wood trim and his carpet is the color of heavy cream. Also, there aren't any pictures of girls (half-clad or otherwise) on his walls. Instead he has a couple of band posters (The Fray, Muse, and Snow Patrol to name a few), the collage I made him when I learned that he was going to Harvard (it was made out of anything and everything I had found that had been about or of Harvard), and a few movie posters (one of which was the poster for Brick). Absolutely nothing that would hint to his type of girl.

Oh and he had about four bookcases varying in size jam packed with books. Not to mention that the top of his desk seems to be just another place to store books and he has a lot of books just randomly stacked around his room. Have I ever mentioned how absolutely hot I find that? Because I do; I really do. He's smart and he has an amazing amount of books to prove it.

I wonder if she'll love his bookish nature as much as I do.

Mr. A, I seriously need to stop—I am driving myself crazy with all the wondering. It's not healthy. However, I can't help but wonder if she'll love him as much as I do. (Yeah, I'm getting better at admitting it: I'm in love with the Dr. Becker/Dr. House hybrid, the guy that killed my Barbies in the name of science, the guy that has viciously made fun of my crush on Robbie for the entirety of the crush. I'm in love with the guy that has no trouble fighting with me or being mean to me. I'm in love with that guy.) Jeez, I just need to stop thinking about it, that's all.

I will not think about Roth anymore.

I will not think about Roth anymore.

I will not think about Roth anymore.

Wow, why is this so hard?

Crap! Someone just walked in! Where should I hide? Or should I defend Roth's room? He didn't want it to be defiled, remember? But if he really didn't want it to be defiled, he should have been in here protecting it himself, therefore if someone sleeps (and by that I mean if two people have sex) on his bed then it's his own fault for not being here? Right?


It was Roth who walked in, Mr. Abernathy and I kind of suppose I should have guess that—for all I know, he had his room booby-trapped and that's why there hadn't been a couple in here when I walked in and why his bed had looked made. How Roth had managed to keep all the drunk and horny teenagers from his room will probably forever remain a mystery (though I'm going to go with the idea of booby-traps).

"I didn't think you were coming." Roth announced after walking in and completely terrifying me—his only reaction had been to raise an eyebrow and then roll his eyes. Which...I guess would be a normal reaction to what I was doing: I was sitting on his bed, ready to defend it (granted I still don't know how I was planning on keeping anyone from doing anything in his room—I'm pretty much ignored at school, I'm guessing the same would hold true at a party) with my ballpoint pen raised at the ready.

"What gave you that idea?" I asked, taking in his low rise dark blue jeans and his navy button up shirt, of which I could see the outline of his undershirt through. To his credit, he had more buttons buttoned than I had ever seen Robbie button when wearing a shirt like that. And the shirt wasn't skin tight to show off any muscles, yet he still managed to look just as hot. Probably hotter, seeing as it was obvious that he wasn't trying to show off.

How could I have never noticed how fake Robbie was?

Yawning, he walked across his bedroom and dropped into bed beside me. When I moved to stand up, he grabbed my arm lightly and kept me in place, "You can stay." He murmured and then dropped his hand.

I stared at him for a moment and then before I could stop myself, I blurted: "You're still a virgin, right?"

He stilled for a moment and then a bemused expression covered his face, "Beg pardon?"

I blushed (thank God for dark skin) and then I stared down at my/this journal. "Uh, um...I thought I saw you heading to your parents' room with two girls..."

He smiled and my legs did their tingly (crazy that I am), then he sat up. "Why, would it bother you if I lost it?"

"Um...well...wouldn't...that...you said you were waiting—"

"—What if I got tired of waiting? Judging from her observational skills, I could be waiting until my thirties."

"Oh." I murmured, sounding kind of disappointed and hoping that he wouldn't notice that. "Well...congrats on becoming a man, I guess."

"I don't need to have sex in order to be a man." He replied, "And that sounds more like my brother than me and you know it. The only sexual experience that I've had all night was when a few girls that used to think me completely disgusting began to degrade themselves. I don't believe I ever said I wanted to dance and I don't believe what they were doing was dancing..." He trailed off and then frowned, "Outside of a strip club, anyways."

"You didn't enjoy it?" I asked, probably sounding more hopeful than I meant to. (What, Mr. A? Would you like it if Aunt Trish had a great time dancing with another man? Granted...you and Aunt Trish are a couple, so you'd have more right to be upset...)

"Sure." He murmured and sat up, "It's great data for my thesis. Those girls were complete bitches back in high school. Or at least they were complete bitches to me and now they are falling all over themselves to get me to like them. It's honestly one of the most pathetic things that I have ever seen. The only thing that has changed about me is my appearance, it's not like I'm going to be a different person just because I look like one. And just because I lost the weight doesn't mean that I lost any of the memories."

"Did you want them to like you, back when you were all in high school?"

"Tameka Janelle, have I ever cared about whether or not someone likes me?" He asked and then sighed, "Sometimes you seem like a simpleton."

"What?"

"There is only one person that I've ever wanted to like me; everyone else? I couldn't give a damn about."

Somewhere I found it in me to raise my eyes and stare into his, "Haven't you ever cared whether or not I like you?"

He stared at me for a long time before responding, "Looking back at our history together, what do you think?"

"Oh." I whispered and stared down at his comforter, "Okay." I went on in the same soft, sad voice. And I couldn't help it Mr. Abernathy, tears came to my eyes and the whole world seemed to blur before me. "I think I should go. You can tell Robbie that I enjoyed the party...you know, if he ever cares to ask you about me." I sniffled and then tried to use a cough to cover the noise, "Happy New Year."

I climbed to my feet and walked across the bedroom to the door, but just as I opened it, it closed in front of me. Not on it's own accord, but because Roth had followed me across the room and then reached around me to shut it. I froze, completely unsure of what to do: I didn't want to turn around and look up, because then he'd see the tears. But it's not like I could try to open the door again, not without seeming like a complete idiot.

"Have I been that big a dick to you?" He asked quietly, his hand not moving from where it was, pressed against the door so I couldn't get out. Because of that, his body was right behind mine and his warmth seemed to envelop me.

A tear slipped down my face and I lowered my head to watch it fall to the ground, "I don't know what you're talking about, I'm fine." I murmured towards the carpet and then tried the door again, but he hadn't let up the pressure on the door so I didn't really get anywhere. "I'm fine, Happy New Years...can I go now?"

"Answer the question."

"I...I..."

"Have. I. Been. That. Big. A. Dick. To. You?" He asked, making every word a sentence. He didn't sound threatening though, Mr. Abernathy—I just realized that he could almost sound that way. But he wasn't sounding like he was going to pound the life out of me at all; he was just forcefully asking me a question. Well...actually it didn't sound forceful either...just tired. Really tired, almost as though he had to force the words out and wasn't sure that he really wanted a response.

"You don't give a damn about me, right?" I asked and when he didn't respond I brought my head up so that I was staring straight ahead at the door, "Then why does it matter how I feel about how you treated me?"

"Because it does."

"Because why?"

"Don't be a child Tameka Janelle, answer the damn question."

"Why does it matter?"

"Because it does." He said with obvious frustration in his voice.

"You were fine Roth."

"Then why are you so upset?"

"I'm not." I lied and how could I not? It's not like I could say that I was upset because he didn't love me like I loved him. Wow, I'm just starting to realize how often lying to him is going to happen in our relationship...it's kind of sad, seeing as he's such an honest person. Sure, he uses his honestly like a tool sometimes, but that doesn't change the fact that Roth doesn't lie. And being around a person that doesn't lie makes you feel horrible when you lie to or around them. At least that's what I've discovered anyways.

"Then look at me." He went on, a quiet demand in his voice.

"Just let me leave."

"Tameka Janelle Jamison." He hissed in frustration—reminding me of how Aunt Trish says my full name whenever she's truly frustrated with me.

"I don't want to." I whispered and then my eyes widened when he turned me around himself. I was so surprised, that he was able to tilt my chin up with out any resistance on my part. However, as soon as I realized that he could see me crying over him, I tried to lower my head. But he wouldn't let me do that, instead his thumb under my chin grew firmer, keeping my face up towards him.

His dark eyes took me in and without seeming to think about it, he started to wipe away my tears. The action was so intimate that more tears flowed from my eyes when I realized that he wasn't even trying to be my Noah Calhoun. He didn't mean for the action to be intimate at all, because he didn't want me in that way.

"I'm sorry." I murmured, closing my eyes against more tears. "I don't know what's going on with me. It must be the New Year and everything..." I added, trailing off when I realized that I didn't know what else to say.

He then did something very surprising: he hugged me. His hands dropped from my face and he took my arm, and then pulled me towards him. Then he leaned down and wrapped me in a hug; a nice, warm hug. His arms around me filled me with such happiness as well as offering me a moment of peace. And Mr. Abernathy, I felt so protected in his arms. I don't even know how to explain it, I just know that while he held me close to him, I felt like nothing to hurt me. Nothing bad could ever happen to me, not while Roth continued to hold me.

I was only shocked for a moment before hugging him back. I closed my eyes after that and just breathed him in. His strong, steady heart beat was the only sound I focused on (somehow I was able to ignore the loud rap music in the background) and it was such a lovely sound. It was kind of like the soundtrack that went along with the feeling of protection, if that makes any sense to you. His steady heartbeat offered the same sense of protection as the feel of his arms around me.

For a moment it almost seemed as though he didn't want to let me go. I know that that's probably all in my head and I'm just wishing that he wanted me in his arms forever, but for a moment it did kind of feel like that. The hug stretched on and on—to my pleasure, of course—and then he slowly dropped his arms and took a step away from me.

"Are you okay?" He asked, concern in his every word.

"Yeah." I responded, feeling immediately embarrassed for my behavior. "I'm sorry—"

"—Dammit, Tameka Janelle, don't apologize." He said sharply and then sighed, "I didn't think I was that horrible to you."

"That's not why I'm upset." I said, staring him straight in the eye.

"Then why?" He asked, "And don't blame it on the New Year or anything like that."

"Why not? This vacation has been kind of stressful for me." I pointed out, "Maybe I am having a breakdown because of all the changes."

"Changes?"

"My entire opinion of your brother has changed; that's a pretty big change. I've spent so long thinking that I was in love with him and now...now I don't have that anymore."

"And what? It's like the loss of a security blanket?" He asked dryly, a healthy dose of sarcasm in his tone. He rolled his eyes and sat down on the edge of his bed, "Had I known it was going to be such a devastating eye-opening experience for you, I would've kept my mouth shut. Let you live out your own delusions."

My eyes narrowed, "So that's how you want to bring in the New Year? By fighting with each other?"

"No." He said darkly, glaring down at the floor.

"Huh?" I asked, kind of surprised at his answer.

He opened his mouth to say something, but at that point the sound of everyone counting down filled the house. The music had been muted and every guest seemed to be screaming as loudly as they possibly could. Roth sighed and then cursed beneath his breath. After a moment of looking at me, he stood up and walked towards me. I looked up at him curiously, but he wouldn't meet my gaze.

"FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE!!"

"Happy New Year." Roth whispered as the rest of the house began to whoop and holler. I looked up at him and smiled up at him. But before I could say the same to him, he leaned down and pressed his lips against mine.


A/N: Yeah, I know: ten months of nothing and then I leave you with a cliffie. Sorry about that... Thank you all for reading me and telling me that I needed to keep writing, and even thanks for some of the weird threats. (Kind of a weird thing to say...) THANK YOU! Oh, and Happy New Year! (Amazing how well this was timed, huh?)