Hanging By A Moment Here With You

We stayed in L.A. for a week. The days were spent sight-seeing, shopping, eating out, hanging out on the beach, watching for famous people, and then, of course, shopping some more. Fae and Trent seemed closer than ever before, and it made me smile just to look at them. They were always smiling at each other and they seemed to sort of glow with happiness whenever they were together.

As for me and Scooter, well, that was a completely different story. Nothing much had really happened since that night on the beach, and I will admit, it was mostly my fault. I guess I was just scared that it was all going to go wrong somehow and ruin our friendship, so I just pretended that nothing had changed.

But it was clearer than the pale blue Californian sky that everything had changed. Even the way Scooter looked at me and spoke to me had changed from the usual "good friends" kind of playful banter to more serious flirting, but as the days passed by, he began to look more and more injured whenever I ignored his attempts to get my attention. I knew I was hurting his feelings, and it was the last thing that I wanted to do, but I was so confused that I didn't know what to do anymore.

Our last day in the city was unusually dull and dreary, and by midday it began to rain rather heavily. Fae and Trent went out to spend the day by themselves, leaving me and Scooter alone to find some way to entertain ourselves around the hotel. And while this would have been an ideal chance for me to spend some time alone with Scoot and maybe try to talk things over in a mature fashion, instead, I was hiding in my hotel room, staring blankly at the TV screen, not paying the slightest bit of attention to the movie that was showing.

A load knock at the door shook me out of my daze, and with a vague feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, I got up and opened the door in a zombie-like fashion. As I had expected, there was Scooter in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe and looking extremely hot in his tight black tee-shirt, with his dark hair hanging in his face.

"You know, if I didn't know better, I'd say you were avoiding me," he said in a slightly forced cheerful voice. I blushed and shook my head as I opened the door to let him into the room, but he shook his head in refusal and said, "No, get your shoes, we're going for a walk. I'm sick of hotel rooms."

"But…it's raining," I said, pointing to the window, which was splattered with raindrops.

Scooter just shrugged and said, "So what? We're not made of sugar."

I sighed as I slid my feet into my flip flops and followed him out into the hallway, pulling a thin black hoodie over my head. My stomach was churning like a food processor with conflicting emotions as I walked beside Scooter, inescapably aware of his close proximity and the way his hand kept gently brushing against mine, as if in askance. I went first down the stairs, with Scooter following closely behind me, and when we reached the bottom, he cautiously placed his hand on the small of my back, as if to guide me into the lobby. I shuddered slightly under his touch, and it was all I could do not to just fall back into his arms.

Several people glanced at us oddly as they ran to and from their cars, trying to avoid exposure to the steady rain. Scooter led me in the opposite direction from where we walked on our first day there, and within minutes, we were both soaked from the rain. I expected Scoot to speak, but instead we walked in silence, side by side, through the warm rain.

There was a three mile circular boardwalk ahead, or so the waterlogged wooden sign said. Ignoring the pouring rain that sent the rest of the world scuttling, we embarked on what I could only regard as the most potentially uncomfortable walk I was likely to ever experience.

Scooter still hadn't spoken, and I was at a loss for any appropriate words with which to breach the silence. Instead, I contented myself with looking at him and trying to figure out what I should be thinking about. Unfortunately, my brain seemed to be stuck on the fact that his tee-shirt was clinging to the abs that until a few weeks ago I had never even noticed he possessed, and nothing else seemed capable of entering my thought process.

A man on a bike sped past us, his head bent so low over the handlebars that I doubt he even noticed us, and out of instinct I grabbed Scooter's hand and pulled him out of the path of the oncoming bike. He stared down at me, a bewildered expression on his face. His wet hair was plastered to his forehead, some of it obscuring one of his eyes. Without really thinking about it, I reached up and smoothed it away from his face. He blinked stupidly at me for a second before reaching up and gently taking a hold of my hand, bringing it to his lips and kissing it, and I felt an undeniable fiery warmth course through me. Once again I wondered if perhaps this wasn't so insane after all.

We walked on, hand in hand now. The rain let up a little, turning into a fine mist that tingled as it landed on our skin. Still, neither of us spoke. I wanted to say something, yet so many words, questions, and half thought-out phrases filled my mind that none of them could find enough space to fully reveal itself.

It seemed eons had passed when we reached the middle of the circular path we were following, where the boardwalk jutted out over the sea, shining now through a momentary hole in the clouds. I leaned against the wooden railings and looked out over the water, breathing in the salty scent of the ocean mixed with the fresh, clean fragrance of the rain.

Scoot stood next to me, his arm draped comfortably around my shoulders. I sighed quietly and leaned against him, resting my head on his shoulder. He smelled like almonds for some reason, maybe it was the hotel shampoo? Whatever the reason, my pointing out of this weird and random observation broke the silence between us, and we both laughed.

"Maybe it's just a sign that I'm going nuts," Scoot said, grinning at me. It was a lame joke, but we both laughed again.

"You're not going there, you've been there," I joked, turning around and sticking my tongue out at him.

Scoot grinned and said, "Yeah, well, that's part of my charm!"

I raised an eyebrow at him and shrugged. A seagull flew past us, and I followed it with my gaze as it circled down over the water, crying shrilly, before speeding away and becoming nothing more than a little black dot against the hazy sky. The hole in the clouds was getting larger, as if the golden rays were melting them away.

It was getting warmer, so I tugged my damp hoodie off and tied it around my waist before leaning against the rail and staring out at the water again while Scooter stood quietly at my side. The silence stretched between us for a few minutes, and while it wasn't really uncomfortable, there was a certain amount of tension in the air between us, as if there was some invisible glass ball suspended between us, ready to fall and shatter at any second. Finally, Scoot put his arm around my shoulders again and pulled me against him.

"Hey, what's wrong Em? You've been really…I dunno…off since last week…" he said quietly.

I just shrugged and then turned around so my back was to the rail and I was facing Scooter. This was probably one of the worst possible things I could have done, as I was now caught like a deer in headlights in Scoot's eyes. I tried to look away, but his eyes were like magnets, drawing me in and holding on.

He sighed and reached forward, grabbing both of my hands gently. "Look Em, I think I know what's bothering you…it's the whole best friends thing, isn't it? Like it was with Fae and Trent. And you're worried that we're going to end up screwing up everything that we've got…am I right?"

I nodded slowly.

Scoot squeezed my hands and said, "Why the hell do you think I've waited this long to say anything? Hell, I didn't even think you felt the same way until about two or three weeks ago!"

I smiled weakly and said, "I didn't…or at least, I didn't realize that I did."

Scooter laughed quietly. "I don't know how on earth you didn't notice! It was so obvious! Fae's known for months!"

"Wait…Fae knows?" I asked, shocked.

"Yeah. Not by choice, mind you, but that girl doesn't miss much. She cornered me one day and finally dragged it out of me. Threatened me as well! She can be pretty damned scary!" he said with a laugh.

It felt as if a weight had suddenly been lifted from my mind. I wasn't completely insane. I wasn't going to screw anything up. It was all going to be ok. Laughing at my own stupidity, I launched myself at Scooter and hugged him tightly.

"Oh, hello!" he cried, stumbling backwards in surprise before wrapping his arms around me and pulling me into a closer hug and then picking me up and twirling me around. I shrieked and giggled and generally made a lot of noise until he set me back down on my feet and kissed me lightly on the lips.

"You know, I thought I was going completely insane when I realized I like you," I said as we continued on our walk.

"Oh, thanks!" Scooter grumbled, sticking his tongue out at me. "Actually, that's kind of what I thought too…except it was sort of a long time ago…"

"How long?" I asked curiously.

"Well…let's just say it's been an awful lot longer than you'd probably ever guess…" he said, blushing. "And just a hint, I really wasn't at all upset when you and The Asshole broke up."

"You mean you liked me back when I was with John?" I asked incredulously.

"Remember New Year's?" he asked, now rubbing his hand through the back of his hair the way he did when he was nervous.

"Yeah…"

"Well…remember when I was 'drunk' at New Year's and tried to kiss you? Well, I really wasn't quite as drunk as you thought I was…" he admitted, his face now a rather pretty shade of crimson.

"Are you serious?" I snorted. I'm not going to lie, that's one hell of a long time to have a crush on your best friend and not let it slip. And how on earth did I miss all of this?

"Totally serious!"

"Wow. I had no idea. Maybe I'm just oblivious?" I said, putting my arm around him.

"Yeah, you could say that. You don't notice anything, Emma. Honestly, you missed every single pass at you I made a prom. You didn't notice anything. At all!" he laughed.

"So all that time after prom when everyone thought we were dating and I was insisting that it was ridiculous and never going to happen…"

"I was kicking myself for not saying something to you!"

We both laughed. It was almost difficult to believe that he'd liked me for that long. And here I was, worrying about him finding out that I had a crush on him now!

"This is completely ridiculous, you know that don't you?" I said as we came to the end of the boardwalk and returned to the blacktop of reality, also known as the parking lot of the hotel.

"What's ridiculous?" Scooter asked, looking down at me.

"Us. This. Everything," I said, shrugging.

"Is this ridiculous?" he asked before pulling me closer and kissing me. And when I say 'kiss', I mean the kind that leaves you breathless, but still wanting more, as cliché as that may sound.

When I did manage to regain my breath, I said, "Yes, it probably is…but I don't really care," before kissing him again.

After what seemed like both an eternity and only a few seconds at the same time, he broke away and said, "So…are we…uh…you know, a couple now?"

"Scooter Matthews, are you asking me out?" I asked, grinning at him.

"Maybe!" he said with a bright smile that lit up his entire face.

"Oh good. Then yes, I suppose we are…" I giggled, feeling rather like a freshman in high school who just got asked out for the first time.

We were both giggling rather uncontrollably as we walked into the hotel lobby. According to my watch it was only 4 o'clock, which meant Fae and Trent would probably not be back for at least another hour or so, at which time we were meant to be going out to dinner somewhere. With nothing better to do, Scooter and I did the only thing that you can do when stuck in a hotel room.

Get your minds out of the gutter.

We watched TV.

Ok, so we actually fought over the remote for a while, which turned into a sort of wrestling match, which then turned into more of a making out kind of thing…but the initial idea was all well and good and completely innocent!

We were still in a rather compromising position when Fae and Trent burst into the room. Luckily, Fae was laughing rather loudly about something, and Trent was busy trying to get the key out of the door, which seemed to be a tad bit challenging for him, so neither of them noticed Scooter and I right away, giving up a chance to…um…disengage and pretend that we had been watching the TV all along. The fact that the TV was currently on the weather channel may have been a tad bit suspicious, but no one seemed to notice.

"Hello kids!" Scooter said, grinning at them as they both plopped down on the other bed. "Did you have a good time?"

"Indeed! And please tell me that you two haven't been sitting here locked up in this room all the time we've been out, have you?" Fae asked, glancing suspiciously at us.

"No ma'am!" Scoot replied. "We've been sitting, standing, and maybe a bit of laying around too! Oh, and we did go for a three mile walk in between all of that."

Fae rolled her eyes and a few seconds later bounced to her feet again. "Oh, I saw a sushi restaurant and I thought maybe we could go there for dinner?"

"Sushi?" Scoot asked incredulously, raising one eyebrow at her.

"You know, raw fish stuck on a rice ball," Trent muttered, rolling his eyes in Fae's direction. Apparently he was not a big fan of sushi.

"Well it sounds good to me, I'm starving!" I said.

"Good! At least someone has some taste!" Fae muttered, glaring at Scooter and Trent.

So there we were, half an hour later, walking into a shiny, almost surgically clean looking sushi bar. Trent was still muttering to himself about how anyone could eat raw fish and enjoy it, and when we sat down on the stools in front of the bar itself, his face began to turn an interesting shade of green.

"Here Trent, knock yourself out," I said, handing him the alternative cooked food menu.

He smiled and took it gratefully, and quickly disappeared behind it so that he could no longer see the vast array of sea creatures laid out before us on the other side of the glass. Scooter, who had never had sushi before, was looking about with interest, and every couple of seconds he'd poke me and point to some random chunk of seafood, asking me what it was.

Finally, I got so exasperated by his constant questioning that I ended up flinging the little "sushi guide" that was sitting on the counter a few feet away at his head. This turned out to be slightly awkward, because right at that moment a scrawny Japanese man came up to take our orders. He didn't look overly impressed by having a group of rowdy American teenagers throwing sushi guides at each other in his clean restaurant, but oh well, it really couldn't be helped.

In any case, I ended up ordering Scoot's food for him. We watched with interest as the sushi chef made the little rolls and rice balls and cut up the various fish. Well, all of us except for Trent, who still looked fairly disgusted, and spent the majority of his time playing with the straw in his coke. Before long, the sushi arrived, arranged neatly on bright white plates. It was about two minutes later that we learned that Scooter had no idea how to use chop sticks.

Now, if you've never had sushi, this won't seem like a big deal, but in reality, it is. It's extremely difficult to eat sushi with a fork, as it has a habit of falling apart when you stab it, and as a general rule, it's not exactly polite to eat with your fingers. And so, the chop stick lessons began, and let me just say this, Scooter was absolutely hopeless.

"I don't get it! Can't I just…you know…skewer it?" he whined after about five minutes of trying to pick up his first piece of sushi.

"No! Come on, try again! It's not that difficult!" Fae grumbled, fixing his chop sticks again.

"Why can't they just eat with forks like the rest of the world?" Scooter muttered a second or two later after dropping the sushi for the millionth time.

Sighing, I picked up the dropped spicy tuna roll with my chop sticks and held it up to Scoot. "Just open your mouth and stop complaining," I said, sticking my tongue out at him.

Eventually, after another half an hour, Scoot finally managed to pick something up and get it all the way to his mouth, at which point, half the restaurant started clapping. His ears turned a never before seen shade of red at this point, which only made it more amusing. Eventually, Scooter managed to eat all of his dinner. I think the other people in the restaurant, especially our waiter, were glad to see us go.

Outside, the city lights were glittering against the deep, velvety blue sky. The clouds from earlier in the day had dissipated, and now every star in the heavens seemed to be visible. Not wanting to waste our last night in the city of angels, we drove around for a while, just soaking up the glow of the street lights and the buildings.

Maybe it was just the strange tingling, dare I say romantic? feeling in the car, but after a while, Fae, who was at the wheel, turned onto the highway and just kept driving, away from the city and the hotel and the lights, along the dark strip of road, with the rolling black ocean to our left and nothing but rocks and trees to our right. No one said anything, which was unusual in itself. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence though, in fact, it was more thoughtful than anything else.

Finally, Fae pulled over at one of the random "scenic overlooks" dotted along the highway. Luckily, this was nothing like the one back in Colorado, and it did not require a mile long hike before you were actually able to overlook anything. In fact, there really wasn't much of anything there. It was just a small, gravel covered U set off from the road, with a waist high metal barrier at the edge, and nothing but sky and ocean beyond.

It had cooled down a lot since we had left for dinner, and I shivered and rubbed my hands along my arms as the breeze hit my bare skin. Scooter wrapped his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close against him as we walked over towards the edge. Fae and Trent had wandered off to the other side and were blocked from our view by the car.

The view wasn't particularly fascinating. I'm sorry if you were expecting me to give you some breathtaking description of the ocean, but really, what can I say? I was dark, and if it hadn't been for the gentle splashing sounds down below us, I may never have known there was an ocean there at all.

But what did I care? I don't think I would have been paying much attention to the scenery even if it had been the single most fantastically beautiful thing to ever meet my eyes. To be honest, the only thing that my brain was willing to process at that moment was that Scooter was standing next to me, with his arms around my waist and his head leaning against mine, his warm breath tickling slightly as it whispered in my ear. I guess it was one of those "infinite moments" as the deep, poetic people like to say. The kind that seem to last for a second and an eternity all at the same time, and then are ingrained in your mind for the next thirty years of your life, long after you've forgotten where you were and who you were with.

Scoot sighed quietly, the sound floating away on the wind and combining with the crash of waves down below us.

"What're you thinking?" I asked, leaning back against him and twining my fingers in his.

"Hmm? Oh…nothing much. Just…well, this all seems sort of surreal, like a dream, you know? And now I'm just waiting for the alarm clock…" he said quietly. "And then I'll wake up and find myself hugging a pillow instead of you…"

I turned and looked up at Scooter's face, only to find him looking down at me. I'd never really noticed before, but his eyes looked like they belonged to someone much older and wiser than a mere nineteen. They were…deep? That's really not the right word, but it's the best I can give you.

"I'm not going to turn into a pillow, Scoot," I said quietly, reaching up with one hand to pull his face closer to mind so I could kiss him. He smiled, and it was as if his entire face lit up. His eyes lost that faraway, thoughtful look, and regained their usual warmth and laughter.

"Good. You're too scrawny to make a good pillow anyway!" he said, poking me in the ribs.

Now that the romantic mood had sort of shifted, neither of us particularly felt like standing around staring off into space anymore. We were much too immature for such things. And so the poking of my ribs escalated into a full-blown poking war, which then turned into a sort of running around and tackling each other like twelve-year-old boys type thing. Yes, maturity rules in my life.

Apparently Fae and Trent were too busy doing whatever it was that they were doing on the other side of the car to notice all the shrieking and laughter from our side. In fact, we'd been there for at least half an hour when Scoot and I finally began to get a little worried that either one, they'd fallen over the edge, or two, they'd forgotten we were there and were engaged in some pretty hardcore making out.

We were just about to sneak up on them and find out, when Pantera's "Walk" began playing loudly from somewhere, and we heard Fae to shriek, "Holy shit! You're vibrating!" Which answered our question as well as became cause for a fair amount of laughter.

Trent did not look overly impressed when, about three minutes later, he snapped his cell phone shut and wandered back over to where we were standing. By this time, Scooter and I had deemed it safe to walk around to the other side of the car, where Fae was leaning against the barrier, her arms crossed across her chest, and her foot tapping on the ground in a way that clearly stated "this phone call better be important!"

"Who was that?" Fae asked as soon as he joined us.

"My cousin Andie," Trent answered.

"Aaand?" Scoot asked.

"Whose up for a detour to San Francisco for a party?" Trent asked, shoving his phone angrily into his pocket.

"I thought were done with parties," I pointed out. It was true. After our, um, not-so-wonderful experiences thus far, we decided to boycott clubs and parties in general if we could help it.

"Let me rephrase that, my cousin's twenty-first birthday party," Trent said. "My favorite cousin, I might add."

The three of us were all looking at him with the same incredulous expression on our faces.

"Oh come on, she practically begged me to come! My mother was talking to her sister and let slip that we were in Cali! It'll be fun…come on! It's my cousin for goodness sake! I haven't seen her for five years!"

Fae, Scoot, and I exchanged glances. Scoot shrugged and said, "Well, it's certainly not up to me. I've learned my lesson by now: always, always, always leave the important decisions up the women…that way they can't blame you later when it turns out to be a bad idea."

Trent snorted, and Fae glared at him.

"Well, I'm up for it, I guess," I said, shrugging.

"Yeah…sure. I suppose…" Fae said finally.

Trent grabbed her and twirled her around. "Sweet! I told her we'd be there by tomorrow night!" he said, grinning at us as we made our way back into the car.

So there we were, around six o'clock the next evening, getting out of the car, which was parked behind a large, modern looking apartment building. It wasn't until we were walking up the last flight of steps (Andie lived on the very top floor) that Trent decided to tell us a rather important piece of information that he seemed to have forgotten.

"Oh yeah, guys…um…don't freak out or anything…but Andie's…well, a lesbian…and tonight we're going to be staying with her and her girlfriend!" he said, just as he rang the bell.

I'm not entirely sure what our reaction would have been had we had time to formulate one, but we didn't, because a second later, the door flew open, and a small girl with shocking blue hair came shooting out of it and into Trent's arms, shrieking at the top of her lungs.

Enter Andie: the world's craziest lesbian.

A/N: ZOMG! I FINALLY FINISHED A CHAPTER!!!!! (cue the applause) So yeah…it's really not as long as my other ones because I was sort of just rambling about random stuff…it's kind of a filler. I think it originally had a purpose when I started it…like…over a month ago, but then I got stuck at the mushy scene and couldn't seem to write anything at all. But, thanks to Thanksgiving break, I managed to turn out a few more pages and here it is!

The next chapter is…well, not at all planned out, so hell only knows when that'll get finished. But it's all good.

Oh, and, for anyone who cares to know, I'm starting a new, completely different story, which is more of a suspense/horror type deal, if I can figure out how to do it without making it lamer than lame. Fat chance, but I'll give it a go. So yeah, it's on my FP, called "Beyond The White", go take a look at it. It may keep changing for a little while as I figure out just what to do with it, but it's there nonetheless.

Ok, now I'm done self-advertising, I shall quit rambling. Reviews would be amazing if you feel like leaving them…TELL ME YOU'RE STILL READING!!!