Sorry this chapter took so long to come out. I had to get some guy advice before I could finish it, and, for some reason, it just didn't want to be written.



Now this—this was unusual. But unusual in a good way. There was nothing more I wanted to do except to forget everything, to pretend Justin and I were the only humans left on the planet. I could feel his head leaning against mine. I didn't want to move. I never wanted to move. So I didn't. The two of us sat there for some period of time, a period which I did not bother to estimate the minutes of, until Justin's phone, in his pocket, vibrated against my leg and rang. Startled, I jumped and let out a soft squeak of surprise. Justin took his arm off my shoulders and dug deep into his pockets, drawing out a phone I had always considered to be for the mega rich.

"Hello?" he answered. I heard an incoherent voice coming from the phone. "Hey, Alex . . . Yeah . . . Yeah . . . Okay . . ." He grinned down at me. "Good . . . Okay . . . Okay, bye."

Justin shoved the phone back into his pocket and scooted closer to me. "Alex's coming down here, just to let you know."

I shrugged. "Okay." I remembered something Alex had said when I met him. "What's the deal with this kid?"


"Well, he knew who I was. What did you tell him about me?"

Justin sighed and shifted in the chair. He ran a hand through those curly brown locks and then wove his fingers through mine, squeezing my hand reassuringly.

"Well, Alex has a lot do with everything, really. Do you wanna hear the entire story?"

I studied Justin's face, finally accepting what my brain told me about how hot he was. He was absolutely adorable. Why hadn't I noticed before?

"Yeah," I answered. "The whole story."

"Well, I met Alex my first month at Crescent Hill. We sat next to each other in Physics, but he sucked, so I started tutoring him. I told him everything that happened between you and me. He told me to break up with Courtney and convinced me that I like you. I mean, he knows me better than I know myself. He made me realize how perfect you were."

Wow. So Alex had been involved in the goings-on between Justin and me the whole time they had been happening? Weird. So weird. Someone who I had never met had been affecting my life. It was one of those profound moments that completely blows your mind away—I just couldn't get my head around this idea that a total stranger was a major part of my life.

I collapsed against Justin's side, giving his hand a squeeze.

"I'm sorry," I murmured quietly. "I didn't do it on purpose."

He squeezed my hand back. "I know." He kissed the top of my head, and I felt the now familiar jolt of excitement rush through my body.

"Sorry to interrupt, but, um, hey," a voice said from above us. I looked up, seeing Alex standing there. He casually jerked his head, sending jet black hair out of his eyes, and grinned widely at us, specifically at Justin. His eyes darted back and forth between us in a knowing sort of way.

I stood up suddenly. Justin's and mine hands hung awkwardly in the air until I released it.

"Can we go visit Riley again?" I asked.

Justin stood up quickly, replacing his hand in mine.

"Okay. Wanna come, Alex?"

Alex shrugged embarrassedly. I'm sure he felt like the third wheel. I knew the feeling twenty times over.

"Sure. I'll meet this chick Riley who I've never heard of before." He winked. "You two lead the way."

Justin and I started walking—together—like a couple. I had a random memory of the two lovers at the movie theater. I could easily be mistaken for one of those now. Weird. Just plain weird.

"Hey, Alex!" Justin called, turning around. Alex joined in step next to me. "I just told Lyss, well, everything."

"Ah. And apparently you got pissed when Justin followed some of my advice. Sorry." He clapped me on the shoulder in a friendly gesture.

"Here." I tried to turn but ended up running into Alex. Blushing, I tugged on Justin's hand, and we proceeded down the hallway that Riley's room was in. I stopped abruptly outside her door.

"This Riley's room?" Alex asked. I nodded. "Then let's go in!" With a flourish, he swung open the door and stepped in, walking with a slight swagger. Justin and I followed. Courtney was there, but the mothers weren't.

"Who are you?" Courtney asked in a non-accusatory tone. He eyes wandered over to Justin and me, stopping on our interlocked hands. She immediately began to glower at me. Me! Why not glower at Justin? He was holding my hand too!

Just as I was about to yank my hand away so Courtney would stop staring, Justin gripped my hand harder, preventing that. I looked up at him, and he was looking back with a determined face and his jaw set stubbornly.

"I know, Lyss," he said gently in a whisper. "But we can deal with it. Please." A funny look passed over his face.

"What was that?"


"No, you looked really weird. What was it?"

His face colored a little, and he glanced briefly at the floor before returning his eyes to me. "I really wanna kiss you. I know we're in front of these people and all but—Can I kiss you?"

"What?" I asked incredulously. The question was just so random.

"Can I—can I kiss you." The inflection of his voice went down instead of up in the usual question tone.

Without even waiting for my answer, he swiftly bent and pressed his lips to mine. Then he was immediately gone again, his face in front of mine with a small smile teasing at his lips. I looked over towards Riley's bed, but none of them had seen. Alex and Riley were engaged in what appeared to be a mainly one-sided conversation while Courtney merely watched.

"Nobody saw," he whispered in my ear. He wrapped his arms around me and drew me close. I pressed my cheek against his chest so my face looked at Riley. He smelled the same way his jacket did, minus the cologne. Nevertheless, I still loved the smell.

I continued to watch Riley as my mind reeled. She couldn't possibly still be mad at me. She really did love me. She really could be a good friend when we weren't around guys and when she wasn't being pig-headed. I really did value her friendship, even though I mainly valued it simply because she was my only friend. Truth be told, I wanted her back. I wanted to hear her gossip, to see her glow with happiness, to know that she honestly did know the truth.

"I need to talk to Riley alone," I announced in a voice meant for Justin only.

"Now?" he asked, his arms loosening around me.


He released me from his chest reluctantly. I was reluctant to go myself.

"I'll get rid of everyone for you," he volunteered. I smiled gratefully. He went over and whispered something in Alex's ear. Alex's head sharply turned so our eyes met. After saying good-bye, he stood up and left the room. Then Justin told Courtney he needed to talk to her outside. Angrily, she stormed outside. With a quick, lingering kiss on my lips, Justin left the room, leaving Riley and me alone together.

I sat down in a chair next to her bed. Her eyes danced around the room, refusing to look me in the eye.

"Riley, just tell me this much. Do you actually think Justin and I hooked up?"

No answer.

"I swear I won't tell anyone else what you say, if you want. Just please, I need to know for myself. Do you think Justin and I hooked up?'

Finally, after what seemed like I was waiting ten years, she answered. "No," she croaked weakly, slightly shifting her head from side to side.

I heaved an enormous sigh of relief. Somebody believed me. Somebody wasn't completely against me. Someone was partly on my side. I wasn't completely alone in the world. She knew nothing had happened, as she well should. She had known me for eleven freaking years. If I had ever showed signs that I was the type of "hooking up" person—well, I hadn't. Riley would know. She knew me well. She knew me very well. At times she may have been the crappiest friend alive, but at other times she acted like the best friend I called her.

"Okay." I hesitated, unsure of whether I wanted to say what I had planned. "I—If we're ever gonna be friends again, I hafta lay down some rules."

She raised her eyebrows. I couldn't blame her. This was a complete reversal of our usual life. I was acting as if she was the one who needed me as a friend, whereas in real life, it was completely opposite. She could afford not to care about our friendship and lay down rules. In fact, she already had, but they were unspoken rules. They were clearly present, but Riley had never clearly told me what I could and could not do like I was about to do.

"First off, no more of this stuff where you pretend to believe something you don't believe and then spread a rumor about it. That's lame. Really lame. I never thought you would sink so low."

I paused, checking her reaction. She was definitely surprised and offended, which reminded me of something else.

"Secondly, you aren't infallible. It is possible for you to be in the wrong. It is possible that you're not always going to be right. It is possible for someone to disagree with you. It doesn't mean they're set on ruining you or anything. It means they have a different opinion than you do. That's not the end of the world."

She opened her mouth, but I cut her off. She wasn't allowed to talk yet. I needed to get this all out before I lost the courage to do so.

"No, don't say anything yet. I'm not done. The third thing is please keep it down with the PDA. I can only stand so much of it. Trying to eat lunch while you and Tim suck face is not the most pleasant experience in the world. And I'm sure I'm not the only who thinks that.

"Okay. Next—don't offend me. At the movie theater a week ago, I told you I was mad at myself, not at you. That was a lie. I was mad at you. But that's not my point. After I said I was mad at myself, you called me demented. . . . It really did hurt my feelings."

"Well let's ask her then!" I heard Courtney's voice shout from outside the room. My head swiveled towards the door just in time to see Courtney barge in, her face bright red with fury. Justin stomped in behind her, also livid.

"Did you hook up with Justin or not?!" she screamed, hovering over me threateningly.

"No," I replied meekly. Her face went redder

"Face it, Courtney!" Justin roared. He was scary when he was mad. "You're wrong!"

She spun and neared him. "I am not! Just admit it! Alyssa did something to you!"

I blushed deeply, simply because it sounded so bad and not because it was true—although it wasn't. They fumed, steam shooting out of their ears.

"They didn't hook up," a weak voice said. We all sharply jerked out heads in the direction of the voice. Riley's eyes were flaming, her face indescribable.

"Huh?" Courtney said, unknowingly giving voice to my thoughts. Riley said nothing. Courtney turned to me violently. "You! What did you say to Riley?"

"Me? I—" My voice cracked, and I stopped speaking. Tears slowly began to trickle down my face. Riley had just stood up for me. And not only that, but the support was done voluntarily. She had stood up for me because she wanted to—because that was what friends did.

"Lyss, don't cry." Justin was at my side before you could count to three. "Please don't cry, Lyss."

"No," I told him. "I'm not crying because of Courtney." He brushed the tears away with his thumb and cocked his head sideways in a confused manner.

"I—" I glanced over at Riley with a smile. "I'm not sad." I brushed the tears of my face. Justin raised his eyebrows. "I'm not." I smiled at him.

The door opened, and a kind-looking nurse dressed in white entered the room.

"I've had complaints of shouting from this room," she remarked as she made her way to Riley's bedside. I backed away from the bed, and Justin threw his arm over my shoulder. She checked random machines and scribbled things down. Finally, she turned around.

"I'll let it slide as long as I don't get any more complaints." She raised her eyebrows imperiously. So much for the nice factor. Her eyes locked on Justin and me. "And no PDA complaints either."

I felt my face grow hot as I reddened. But then she winked and left the room. Courtney strode purposefully to Riley's bedside on the opposite side of me.

"What did that bitch say to you?" she demanded to know, staring Riley in the eye.

"She didn't say anything," Riley answered haughtily, assuming her infamous "I'm right and you're wrong" tone of voice.

"You don't believe her, do you?" Courtney asked in awe, obviously unable to believe that someone would actually side with me—Alyssa the Freak.

"As a matter of fact I do." I never knew that Riley's faults would actually be an advantage to me. Usually when she had made up her mind and decided that she was right, it worked against me. She would become angry with me for daring to disagree with her. Now it was working for me. Courtney was the one disagreeing with her, and Riley couldn't stand for it. But if we became friends again, would she continue to treat me in the same way? This was still disobeying the "rules" I had recently set down, even though the disobedience helped me.

Blah. I was confused. I didn't deserve to be confused: I'd already been confused for the past week at the least. Life sucks.

Justin's arm tightened around me just as that thought passed through my head, reminding me that life did not completely suck. Courtney and Riley were still bickering, but I paid them no heed and easily tuned them out, though I kept my eyes on Riley.

"Do you want to leave?" Justin queried lightly into my ear. His hot breath made me shiver, and I tingled all down my spine.

I didn't answer for a while. I continued watching Courtney and Riley exchange words until they lapsed into an angry silence, glaring malevolently at each other. The reversal felt so completely strange. Maybe I really was in an alter-universe, and I had somehow swapped places with my alter-ego. Or maybe I was my alter-ego. Maybe my perception of who I was had suddenly been transferred to my alter-ego, and my alter-ego's perception of herself was in my real ego on the real universe. My alter-ego in my real self must be so hateful of my life. After all, I hated my real life and like my alter-ego life, so my alter-ego must be the same with her life.

Wow. I had been degraded to rambling about alter-egos. Maybe Alex should have shipped me off to the psych ward when he found me trying to go to sleep in the hallway. Then again, I never really did like those men in white coats.

"No," I finally responded to Justin's question. "No, not yet."

I watched Riley for another minute or so. Finally, I decided to blurt to her what had been reeling through my mind for a week.

"Riley, there's something I have to tell you." She looked over at me inquiringly. "Tim's cheating on you."

I hadn't really planned on telling her with Courtney and Justin present, but I also hadn't had much of a choice. Courtney seemed mildly surprised, but Riley's facial expression hardly changed.

"I know," she remarked contemptuously, but with a trace of sadness.

"You knew?!" I exclaimed. For the past week my guilty conscience had been nagging at me to tell Riley, despite the consequences. And now that I finally obliged my beseeching conscience, it did not matter. What a fruitless internal argument.

She shrugged. "Yeah. But what can I do? I cheated on him too, you know. I don't really care that much anyway."

"Yeah, but—but—but . . ." I tried to say something, but my mouth refused to speak the words my brain passed through my vocal cords. I guess who Riley dated and their fidelity to one another was their own business and not mine. But I still could not help a large degree of protest from overwhelming my brain.I knew I'd be pissed if Justin was seeing another girl, but that was just me.

"You cheated on Tim?!" Courtney shrieked, clearly excited for the brand new gossip she was about to receive. "With who?"

Riley sighed. "A guy I met at the movie theater."

"Last week?"

She nodded.

"When were you gonna tell me?"

Had Courtney already forgotten that she and Riley had just been arguing about a minute prior? Apparently, she had, now that Riley was the source of the gossip fountain. All of a sudden, she was back to being buddy-buddy with Riley, and Riley simply didn't seem to remember that Courtney had thrown some harsh words at her not very long ago.

Just then, I felt the need to add something to their gossip party. "For the record, there was no hook up."

Courtney looked at me startled, and Riley nodded her head adamantly.

"Whatever," Courtney mumbled to Riley's bed and quickly turned the conversation in another direction.

"I'm ready to go now," I whispered to Justin. He nodded and guided us towards the door, where he slid his hand across my back and down to my hand.

In silence, we sauntered down the hallways, not speaking until we were back outside in the crisp December air. Justin wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me close. I wasn't so cold with his body so close to mine.

"What'd you say to her?" he asked with a trace of bewilderment in his voice.

"To who?"

"To Riley. Why'd she all of a sudden say we didn't hook up?"

I shrugged, feeling the friction of our clothing rubbing together where my shoulders moved. "'Cause it's true."

After a few more moments of silence, we began to converse in quiet voices about whatever came to our minds. Justin was leading me somewhere in the hospital parking lot, though I had no idea where until we stopped behind his car. Without warning, he kissed me. I slid my hands around his neck and pulled his face closer to mine, preventing its escape. I thoroughly enjoyed the kiss much more than I had last time because this time, I allowed it to last for as long as it wanted. And when we finally broke away, panting, a brilliant light lit itself in those blue orbs of his. They crinkled into a smile while he stretched his lips and positively beamed. Curly brown locks had tumbled onto his forehead as the rest stuck up in an unruly fashion all over the rest of his head. My fingers itched to run through his hair. He appeared goofy in a cute, love-struck sort of way. Somehow, I knew I must have looked the same.


((sob)) And that, lovelies, is the first chapter story that I've ever completed in my life. Aren't ya proud?

I'll be posting another story sometime soon, probably in like 2 or 3 weeks. I've already got a whole bunch started, I'm just not sure which one I'll go with. I may post a couple and have you tell me which one you like the best.

So keep an eye out for another chapter in this story, though it won't be a chapter. I'll put a few stories and their summaries and see which one two you guys want me to test-write. And then I'll have another vote, but don't worry about that now. It'll come when it'll come.

And now I respond to the wonderful people who kept me writing/were kind enough to review recently:

Saraiyuri – Thank you! You were just the boost I needed to finally finish this chapter. I like your word lol.

SingingAfterDark – I love having you as my royal editor. So now you're King Editor . . . even through you're a girl :P (Emily wanted to be Queen). Thanks for all your help and encouragement :)

Firespirit44 – haha yeah, Justin's weirdness explained! And yeah, Justin already dumped Courtney so….. yeah. As for Riley, I dare say (not British but hey, I can use the expression right?) she redeemed herself (somewhat) in this chapter

dawnas – lol. As you can see, I sort of used that idea (though it was already in my head), only I nixed the loads and loads of drama so I could bring you . . . . THE ENDING hehe

GirlattheCornerCoffeeShop – Murphy's Law. Heh, what a law :) Thanks for the review

Aria Deloncray – well, Riley has taken Courtney's side now. Hehe

miss-hyperactive – what I'd firstly like to say is: Thanks for being there almost since Day 1 (I think u entered the picture on Day 2 or 3….k it is Day 3, I checked). And, as you see, Courtney was not killed, and I had/have no intention of killing her, though I must admit it was quite tempting. And thanks for that chapter-writing offer, but it's no longer necessary seeing as how the story is done. Thanks for the offer though :P