A/N- Congratulations to SoulSam! The one and only person to spot my Gwen Stefani reference. Bonus points to Pandemonium who spotted my other reference. (Dolly Parton, as per a walk to remember)

and yes: the song Dom quotes is Cher *ducks any objects thrown* I can't help it. I like her. :-) For anyone that is interested, I used the 'rock guitar version' that is readily available on youtube if you want to listen.

other songs I listened to/wrote with were: In my head: Jason Derulo

Halfway Gone: Lifehouse

Whataya want from me: Adam Lambert

Whatcha say: Jason Derulo

Twenty Five Over

Chapter 15.

"Ti-Tierli! Stop!" Madden extricated himself from her kiss and stepped backwards.

"What? Are you going to abandon me? I'm pregnant.. I can't do this by myself." Tierli cried out, her face beginning to crumple.

Madden felt the full weight of his guilt as it settled squarely on his shoulders. The words seeped into his bones and burnt at them like acid.

"You're.. You're pregnant?" he stammered, trying to absorb it. He looked down at her, she looked like she was ready to shatter into a thousand tiny pieces.

He stepped forwards and wrapped his arms around her. There was no way he would ever abandon a girl he got in trouble. She pressed her head into his chest and he gently ran a hand through her hair.

"No Ti, I won't abandon you.. I swear, I'll be there for you." He murmured into the top of her head. He closed his eyes and remembered that night, weeks ago. He had been drunk and he hadn't been as vigilant as he should have.

"Ti, I thought you said you were on the pill." He asked her quietly, not wanting to embarrass her, but needing to know how exactly this had happened.

She immediately stiffened in his arms. "I guess I forgot to take it." She sniffled and looking down into her tear stained face, there was nothing he could do. He couldn't chew her out, couldn't make her feel any worse than she already did. She began crying anew and he absently soothed her, rubbing her back and murmuring to her quietly. He closed his eyes, he could virtually see Cody slipping away from him. Why on earth would she want anything to do with him now? He had lost her, lost her for good. He wanted to kick himself, if only that night had never happened. If only he could go back in time and change things.

Madden felt the shock of it all wrap around him like a cloak. Everything looked different now, everyone would know what they had done. His entire life would be different. He didn't even know what she wanted to do. Did she want to keep the baby? Did she want to, want to get a, he couldn't even think that word. Although he wished that this had never happened, he couldn't say that he wanted her to have an abortion. It was against everything he believed in.

Tierli looked up at him and he felt her small hand on his chest.

"Are you angry with me?" she asked in a whimper.

Madden didn't look away. "No." he whispered. It was the truth, he was angry with himself. Angry at the thought of the future he had dreamt of, with Cody, slipping through his fingers.

"Don't hate me Madden, please." She begged, and he stepped away from her.

"I don't hate you Ti, I never could. I'll look after you. I promise." The words fell from his lips. His lips felt injected with the same shock that the rest of him was. The shock that made him feel as though there was no blood pumping through his veins. The shock that made him feel as though he was made of marble.

"Come in, You're soaking wet." Madden told her, and they stepped into the house. He walked her into the living room and sat her down on the couch. He left her alone, returning a few moments later with a mug of hot chocolate.

"Here. Drink this." He told her and she accepted the mug with a grateful smile.

"You always look after me Madden." She spoke quietly, Madden grimaced. He certainly hadn't looked after her that night. A condom, just one. That would have been all that it would have taken and they wouldn't be in this situation right now. He remembered their Health teachers at school showing them how to put one on – on a banana. The 'no glove no love' message they had tried to drum into the students heads. At the time, he and Dom had snickered loudly through the whole thing. Perhaps he should have been paying closer attention, he thought ruefully.

Madden sat down on the couch beside her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. All he wanted to do was pick up the phone and ring Cody. Tell her everything that had happened, tell her.. Tell her that he was sorry. He was so sorry.

"Tierli, I haven't seen you in awhile. How are you?" Both of their heads snapped up as his Mom walked into the room.

Madden watched as Tierli brushed self consciously at her eyes.

"I'm.. ah.. I'm.." She couldn't seem to finish her sentence, and Madden reached for her hand.

"Are you ok sweetheart?" his Mom continued, and Madden wondered how she would react when she told her what was wrong.

Tierli looked at him and he nodded. He knew that she was wondering whether it was ok to tell his Mom.

"I'm not ok.. I'm.." she tried again.

"She's pregnant." Madden finished for her, his voice sounded as cold as stone.

"Oh Tierli." His Mom spoke quietly. She glanced rapidly from her to him, taking note of their clasped hands. Her eyes widened as it sunk in.

"And it's…" This time it was his Mom who was having trouble forming sentences.

Tierli nodded tearfully. "It's his." She confirmed.

Madden watched his mother stumble slightly and sit down. He felt terrible. It seemed that he was doomed to let down and disappoint the women in his life and there was nothing he could do about it.

Dom shifted restlessly in his seat. He turned and glanced over at Dylan.

"How much longer?" he pressed. He had never had much patience for car trips, for people that walked slowly or old people.

"A few more hours." Dylan answered from the side of his mouth. Dom bit his lip, guilt surging through him. He knew what it was like to be in love with Faith, no scratch that, With Gina Grosse. There was something about her, something that drew you in and tied you up in knots till you didn't know how to live your life without her. It wasn't about her body anymore, it wasn't that she was the most stunning girl in school. It was just her. The way her eyes crinkled when she smiled. Dom smiled at his reflection in the glass. He was such a girl. But for once, he didn't care.

Dom watched the miles blur by. The darkness was so inky he couldn't see very far out the window but his thoughts were elsewhere. He remembered back to that day, when Gina had got up in front of the class and read her poem. He remembered the snickers and the laughter, mostly because he had been the one doing them. It had been complete and utter humiliation, at the time he had thought; for him. He realised now just how much courage it must have taken to get up and open her heart like that. It would take something equally epic to get her back, to make her see that she belonged with him.

The silence was broken as Dylan switched on the radio. Dom rolled his eyes as he caught the station display on the screen. Dylan was a golden oldies fan. Music pumped through the car and he cringed. Cher. The familiar song began.

"I don't know why I did the things I did. I don't know why I said the things I said"

Dom inched further down in his seat.

"What are you doing?" Dylan asked, looking at him oddly.

"I don't want to be seen in a car that plays Cher!" he hissed.

"It's a classic, just listen to the lyrics man." Dylan advised. Dom shrugged and sat back upright. He listened to the song as it blared.

"If I could turn back time, If I could find a way. I'd take back those words that have hurt you and you'd stay."

The song continued and Dom suddenly began to see the parallels. He too had said things that had hurt the one he loved. An idea suddenly struck him. If Cher could swallow her pride and apologise there was no reason why he couldn't.

"You see?" Dylan asked.

"Yeah. Plus she's pretty hot for an old chick." Dom admitted gruffly as the song ended. He thanked the Gods, and Cher, for the inspiration he had just received. He would get Gina back, he had to.

A few hours later the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. Dom yawned and stretched.

He looked around, momentarily confused. It only took him a second to locate the source of his confusion. The car was still. They weren't driving anymore. He rubbed his eyes and peered out the foggy windscreen. Dylan was nowhere to be seen. They were pulled up at a diner. Dom climbed out of the car and rubbed his neck. He lifted an arm and sniffed. He shuddered, he really shouldn't have done that. He stank.

Dom trudged towards the diner, the least he could do was buy Dylan breakfast. He pushed open the doors to the diner and joined Dylan at the counter. He stuck a note down on the bench, ignoring the noise of protest.

"It's my treat, You're the one driving me halfway across the state man." Dom told him.

Dylan shrugged. "Thanks man."

Dom didn't answer, he pulled over a menu and began to read. It all looked good.

"I'll take a cheese omelette with bacon on the side." Dom ordered from the waitress. She was cute, blonde and perky but he didn't even bother with the smile he knew would mean a free meal. He was a one woman man from now on.

"You know.." Dylan began, talking through his mouthful of eggs.

"Yeah?" Dom asked.

"If you fuck up like that again I'm going to have to kill you." Dylan finished, and Dom grinned.

"Don't worry man, I don't intend to."

Dom looked down at the omelette that was placed in front of him and dug in. He would need all of his strength if he was going to sacrifice his dignity and win back the one woman he wanted above all else.

Cody stumbled into the house and shut the door behind her before sinking to the ground. Why? Why oh why had she taken so long to figure out that her heart only beat for him. What had she been doing all this time? How blind could she have been to not realise, this whole time, that he was the only guy for her?

She felt as though there was something bearing down on her, something that would crush her if she let it. Tierli had been smart, she had taken the chance when she had seen it and now she was the one in Madden's arms.

Cody jammed her fist against her mouth to muffle the sob. She was so stupid so so stupid. There was no other word for it. Tears coasted silently down her cheeks, and she didn't bother to wipe them away. He deserved to be happy, hell, Madden deserved the best. If Tierli made him happy, then there was nothing that she could do about it. She just, she just couldn't believe that she had lost her chance with him. Cody thought back to that day in Subway, when he had told her to go out with him. What she wouldn't give for a do-over, for a chance to fix what she had done and said wrong.

Cody jumped as her cell vibrated in her pocket. She glanced at the number on the screen, Saph. She contemplated ignoring it, but knowing her cousin she would just keep ringing every few minutes until the call was taken. This in mind, Cody flipped open the cell and pressed it to her ear. She eased the fist away from her mouth.

"Hello?" she croaked. Her throat hurt from the crying.

"Geez, you calling from a crypt cuz?" Saph teased.

"What do you want Saph?" Cody asked, even her voice sounded grey. There was no colour or life to it.

"Shit Codes, what's the matter?" Saph asked, her concern reached through the phone and Cody wanted to hurl it against the wall.

"I fucked up Saph. I really fucked up." Cody managed, her voice stained with bitterness.

"Give me ten minutes. Don't move. Are you at home?" Saph asked.

"Yeah." Cody muttered, closing the phone gently and pushing it away from her. She didn't think that she could stand talking to anyone else right now. Besides, he might call and that would be.. That would be the worst thing she could think of. She didn't think she could talk to him and be ok. She couldn't stand to be near him now, she couldn't be his friend. It hurt, God, it hurt inside.

Cody shifted a few feet from the door, and leaned against the wall. She didn't want to get up. If she got up then life would go on and it would all be real. Madden and Tierli, they would be real and perfect and she would be alone.

What seemed like seconds later, the doorknob turned and the door slid open. Saph's eyes widened as she took in the sight of her cousin on the ground. She dropped her bag and her keys and sank down beside her. Saph wrapped an arm around her and Cody rested her head on Saph's lap.

"Is it Finn? Sweetie I know you liked him, but he wasn't right for you." Saph soothed.

"It's not Finn." Cody whispered.

Saph frowned, It had been less than twenty four hours since she had seen her cousin and so much had changed?

"What do you mean. I thought.." she trailed off as a bitter pang spiked through her.

"I thought that you and Finn were together.." she finished, rubbing a hand soothingly in circles on her cousins back.

"We were.. But I had that moment. You know, the one you see in movies but you think will never happen to you. I saw everything so clearly Saph. He's the one for me. I knew it.." Cody rambled, her eyes bleary.

Saph suddenly realised who they were talking about.

"Madden." She said his name quietly, but Cody still flinched as though someone had struck her.

"Yeah. Madden." Cody sighed.

"You love him." Saph murmured. It wasn't a question. It was what she and Dom had hoped would happen, but something had gone horribly wrong. Cody and Madden should be having their happy ending right about now.

"He was the one thing that I wanted and I never knew." Cody spoke tearfully.

"What happened?" Saph asked. If Madden had rejected Cody, she would go over there and knock some sense into his thick head.

"I went to his house.. I wanted to tell him straightaway.. to ask him.. to ask if it wasn't too late.." Cody began. It was obviously difficult for her to tell this story. Saph squeezed her gently, encouraging her to continue.

"Tierli was there. They were kissing." Cody finished, and Saph felt fury shoot through her like a drug. Who the hell did Madden think he was? Sure she was good enough friends with Ti, but that didn't mean that she would stand by and let her steal Cody's man.

"Right. I'll handle this. Tierli better bloody well watch out." Saph muttered.

"No." Cody croaked.

Saph looked down at her cousin in surprise.

"What? Why not? I can fix this for you." Saph promised.

Cody sat up and stared her in the eyes.

"I don't want you to do that. Madden wouldn't have kissed her unless he meant it. Besides, you're with Chase and I refuse to stuff up your love life the way I have mine." Cody explained.

"So you're just going to stand by and let this happen?" Saph asked incredulously. She couldn't decide whether her cousin was exceedingly mature or just plain stupid.

"Madden deserves to be happy, and if she makes him happy then there's nothing I can do." Cody answered. Saph watched as Cody picked herself up from the ground and ran a hand through her hair. She looked at her, shaking her head.

Saph picked up Cody's hand and held it. "Is there anything I can do?" she asked, desperately wanting to break Tierli's perfect face.

"Don't let me pig out. I feel like I could eat a side of beef right now." Cody joked, and Saph felt her heart crack just a little.

"Cody, no matter what you weigh, you will always be one of the most beautiful people I know. Inside and out." Saph murmured, grabbing Cody and hugging her tightly. Saph rubbed Cody's back reassuringly. It was just like her cousin to joke it off when inside she was at ground zero.

"I think this calls for dvds and popcorn? What do you reckon?" Saph suggested, she knew it was a bit cliché, but sitting on the ground all day wasn't going to do any good for her butt, or Cody's mental state.

"As long as it's with no butter." Cody conceded with a small smile.

Saph grinned in return and went to put the popcorn on. Cody hadn't said anything about salt.

Dom rubbed his eyes and blinked in the sunlight. He looked over at Dylan, enviously noting how impossibly fresh looking he was. How was it that Dylan still looked good and he had to wipe the drool that had congealed on the side of his face. His Face! Dom scampered around to the side mirror and checked his reflection. He groaned, he was all smushed from sleeping on one side of his face! How would he win Gina back with a smushed face?

"Dude. You need some private time?" Dylan mocked, and Dom muttered angrily underneath his breath, scowling at his drool covered, smushed reflection.

"Ha ha." Dom answered, running a hand through his hair.

"You look fine." Dylan assured him, trying to hide a smirk.

"Whatever. There is more to a person than what's on the outside you know!" Dom pointed out indignantly.

Dylan laughed, and Dom scowled. What was this kid laughing at?

"Something funny Dylan?" Dom demanded, attempting to look as scary as he could manage.

"Just not something I thought I would hear come from your mouth Dom." Dylan explained.

Dom rolled his eyes and began walking towards the main building of Gina's school.

It was a posh, imposing thing sitting on top of a hill. Already Dom didn't like it.

"I have hidden depths." Dom deadpanned as Dylan jogged to catch up.

"How are we even going to get into this place?" Dom asked, eyeing the imposing office building. It looked like fort knox, either that or a prison. A highly expensive prison.

"We all have our skills." Dylan replied cryptically. Dom barely refrained from emitting the groan that welled up in his throat. The fence that encircled the perimeter of the school was close to ten feet high and he was not feeling remotely athletic.

"Relax Wilkins. We're going through the front gate." Dylan spoke as though he had read his mind.

"Thank God." Dom muttered.

"Put these on." Dylan instructed, handing him a pair of dark blue overalls.

Dom eyed them with disdain.

"Janitors overalls? You want me to go and win Gina back, with a smushed face AND wearing janitors overalls?" he demanded.

Dylan just shrugged. "You got a better idea?" he asked.

Dom stepped into the overalls and wanted to cry.

"Kinda poetic hey?" Dylan teased, stepping into his own pair.

Dom didn't even bother to dignify that one with an answer. It seemed that the universe was determined to make it as hard as possible for him. Probably as hard as it had been for Gina to get up in front of a group of nasty sophomores and bare her soul.

Dom wanted to throw his hands up and scream that he got it. He was an ass, a big ass. He deserved whatever torture could be devised.

They trudged through the gates of the school and towards the main building. Dom kept his eyes on the ground as they walked through the doors of the school. Hopefully no one would question them.

"Dude. Watch it!" a guy called out as Dom pushed through the crowds at the lockers.

"Little punk ass..." Dom muttered, making a sound of protest as Dylan pushed him forwards and away from the kid.

"Do you want to get us caught?" Dylan hissed as they walked towards the cafeteria.

"I should pound him into the pavement." Dom answered, throwing a glare over his shoulder at the kid.

"Right. Cause that will help you get Gina back." Dylan deadpanned. Dom refocused. Gina. The reason he was here was to get her back, not to fight some sissy ass junior with a big mouth.

"You ready?" Dylan asked, pushing open the double doors that led to the caffeteria. Dom just gulped. He didn't have much of a choice. As much as he would like his dignity to remain unscathed, he knew that he would need to sacrifice it publicly if he was going to have the slightest chance of winning back his girl.

"Let's do this." He muttered, more to himself than Dylan. It was now or never.

Dom followed Dylan through the doors and looked around the groups of kids in the caff. It didn't take him long to spot her. She stood out in a crowd. She was the one that was shining like the moon on a dark sky.

Cripes. I'm turning into a Romeo. Dom thought wryly to himself. It had to be Dylan's influence. Dylan was turning him into some kind of girl whisperer.

"Faith." The name was out of his mouth before he could stop it.

"Faith" Gina heard the voice accross the crowd and instinctively sought out it's owner.

It was Dom. She knew it would be, from that one syllable.

Gina swallowed whatever it was she had been going to say and just looked at him. He was wearing janitors overalls and he looked like he hadn't slept in days. There was a smattering of stubble on his chin and one side if his face was oddly smushed.

It took everything she had not to run over to him. It took even more not to throw her arms around his neck and kiss him. He was here.

She plastered a frown on her face. She had to be sure this time. Had to be sure that he knew who she was and he wanted her anyways. She couldn't change her past and she was beginning to feel, for the first time, that she perhaps didn't want to. Gina was a big part of her. A part that she could no longer wrap up in a cheerleading costume and pretend didn't exist.

Forgive him. A little voice in the back of her head offered.

She didn't dignify it with an answer. She needed something from him first. Some sort of apology or explanation even.

"What are you doing here?" She asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Fai..Gina. I'm sorry. I was an ass. I didn't know how to react to that." Dom began.

Gina held up her hand. "Is that it? You didn't know how to react? You were an ass?" she demanded.

Dom had the decency to flush. A tiny part of her felt a grim satisfaction.

"I'm not the same person I was. I'm not Faith Fordham. I was kidding myself with all that." Gina began, her face betrayed her emotions as her lower lip trembled. She bit down on it, determined not to cry anymore than she already had.

Dom moved closer, reached out to her but stopped just short. It would be so easy just to forgive him and let him hold her.

"I want you Gina. I want you for whoever you choose to be, not for a cheerleader or because you're hot." Dom implored her.

Gina sniffed, and looked around. They were creating a scene. Everyone was watching.

Dom followed her gaze and pulled a piece of crumpled paper from the front pocket of his overalls.

"You wrote me a poem once. You were brave enough to share it. I have something here that I want you to hear." Dom continued, something resembling hope was etched on his face.

Gina nodded, she was curious to hear what he had come up with.

Dom glanced around the caffetteria, Looking at the faces of the student body who were also keen to hear what he had to say.

"I didn't really mean to hurt you.

I didn't want to see you go.

I know I made you cry.

But baby If I could turn back time

If I could find a way.

I'd take back all the words that have hurt you and you'd stay."

Gina tried to suppress her smile and failed.

The student body sniggered and threw fruit and lunch wrappers at Dom, who swore and tried to dodge them.

"Loser!" someone in the crowd yelled.

"Cher? Seriously?" she asked, a grin forming on her mouth and spreading rapidly.

"It's a classic." Dom muttered with a shrug. The hope had gone from his face.

Gina stepped forwards and took his hand.

"Your poetry needs work. But that took guts." She told him. The hope flared once more and she closed the distance between them. She looked up into his beautiful eyes and smiled.

"I love you Dominic Wilkins."

Dom wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into a hug.

"I love you Gina Grosse." He spoke, his voice lifting the hairs beside her ear.

He moved to kiss her, but she placed a finger on his lips to halt him.

"Shower first. Then kiss."

Madden climbed out of the car and grimaced as black spots impeded his vision. He couldn't believe the direction his life had suddenly taken. He could still remember the anticipation that shot through him when he had thought that it was Cody at the door. He wished with his whole being that it had been her at the door. Hell. He wished he had never gotten drunk and slept with Tierli in the first place. Not that he would ever tell her that. He had learned that from his deadbeat useless Dad. He would never abandon her. They were in this together.

He glanced over at his Mom, she seemed to have aged years in just a few days. He felt a cold prickle of remorse. He had done that to her. Because he had been so irresponsible.

"Come on you two." His Mom called and Madden opened Tierli's door. It had been his Mom's idea to go to the free clinic and get a blood test. Even thought Ti had said that she was sure, he knew that his Mom was holding onto the hope of a false positive. The acid feeling in his gut was telling him that his Mom's hopes were in vain though.

He helped her out of the car and held her hand as they walked in the doors. It felt like everyone was looking at them. It felt like everyone knew what they had done and why they were here.

Once they were registered at the front desk, they sat down in the waiting area.

Madden grabbed a magazine and flipped through it anxiously.

"Tierli Grierson?" a nurse called, after what seemed like an eternity.

"Do you want us to come in with you?" his Mom asked, but Tierli shook her head.

"I'll be ok, You've done enough by not calling my parents." Tierli assured her.

Madden watched as Tierli followed the nurse through double doors and into the examination room.

He exhaled and let his head drop into his hands.

"It'll be ok Madden." His Mom reassured him, but he wasn't nearly as optimistic.

"I'm sorry Mom. I'm so sorry." He told her, his face felt like it was about to split apart with all the emotions that were steamrolling him.

"Well it's not exactly how I envisioned becoming a grandma. But I am very proud of you for the way you are taking responsibility." His Mom spoke quietly and he nodded. Responsible was the furthest thing from what he was. It wasn't meant to be like this. It was meant to.. He didn't finish the thought, but a niggling voice in the back of his head was happy to point out that it wasn't the right girl. Not that he wanted that level of commitment, but somewhere down the track, years from now, it would have been nice.

His vision of picket fences had definitely had the kibosh put on it.

Awhile later the doors opened once more and Tierli appeared. He jumped to his feet and rushed to her side.

"Are you okay? What did they say?" he demanded, before checking himself. She was upset, she didn't need him hassling her.

"It's all fine. I had some tests. I'm only a few weeks along. I have to get some vitamins." She answered, handing him a prescription.

"Ok, We'll go pick up your vitamins." His Mom spoke, and he jumped. He had been so wrapped up in his own thoughts and Tierli that he had forgotten she was there.

They left the clinic and pulled out of the parking lot, heading for the nearest drug store.

Cody pulled herself out of bed. She felt heavy. She could feel every bone in her body and they weighed her down. If only she didn't have to go to school. If only she could stay in her bed where it was warm and safe and she didn't have to see Tierli and Madden. It was torture going to school and seeing them sitting together. What they talked about she had no clue. Probably how much they loved each other.

Cody trudged slowly to school. Dom wasn't back yet, but she had had a message from him. She was glad that at least one Wilkins was able to get their love life together. She couldn't wait to see Faith again.

Saph bounded up to her at the gate.

"Hey Cuz. How's it going." Saph asked, linking arms with her cousin.

"Peachy." Cody muttered. What a crock, there was nothing peachy about her life at the moment. Everything was a dull gray. She had mucked everything up and now it was too late. Madden had moved on and was happy with that she devil.

"No offense, but I hate your boyfriend's sister." Cody offered, repositioning her bag on her shoulder.

"None taken. You're family." Saph answered.

Cody walked with Saph to the lockers and pulled out her books. She was just going through the motions though. She hadn't been able to concentrate on study or classes since she had seen the two of them kissing on Madden's front step.

The image flashed through her mind for the four hundredth and seventh time that day. There was nothing she could do to get it out of her head. Every time she thought about it a fresh barb of pain shot through her. She was like the walking wounded, her brain was seared with it. She still had to pretend that everything was normal and go on with her everyday life, but she was dead inside.

"Have you heard?" Bea stage whispered from across the hall. Cody's head snapped up, She hadn't spoken to Bea since their tussle on the football field and she was baffled as to why the girl would speak to her now.

"Come on Codes. Let's go." Saph spoke with disgust. She shot a glare at Bea and they began walking away.

"Madden got Tierli pregnant." Bea singsonged.

The words took a moment to register and when they did Cody felt her breath coming in short sharp gasps as a panic attack overtook her disbelief.

Saph paced up and down the hall in front of the nurses office. She ran through the possibilities in her mind once more. Bea could be lying. She was a gossip and a malicious one at that. But why? Just to mess with Cody? Saph wasn't sure. But it would explain a lot. The last few times she had been at Chase's place Tierli had been unwell. She had fobbed it off first on food poisoning, then a stomach bug.

Saph shot a glance at the nurses office. She had been told to go to class, but there was no way she was going to leave Cody.

The bell rang and Bea walked past on her way to the next class.

Saph followed after her and grabbed her by the wrist, pulling her into the girls' bathroom.

Saph shoved Bea against the wall with all her body weight and got as close as she could.

"You'd better tell me the truth Bea. Are you just making this shit up, or are you telling the truth for once?" she demanded.

Bea squirmed, trying to free herself. Saph held her grip and refused to allow her to move.

"I swear Saph. My Aunt works at the free clinic. I help her tidy up there sometimes. I saw them with my own eyes." She exclaimed.

Saph narrowed her eyes.

"So what? People go to the clinic all the time. Doesn't mean they're pregnant." She hissed.

"My Aunt saw the chart. She told me." Bea answered and Saph let out a gusty sigh and pulled back from Bea. Typical. The Aunt had the same disrespect for people's privacy that Bea did.

Bea pushed her way to the door.

"You'd better keep this to yourself." Saph warned.

Bea turned on her heel. "Uh.. It's too late for that." She muttered before beating a hasty retreat.

Saph leaned back against the wall and let the cool tiles soothe her. Great, just great. Bea had already spilled the beans about Tierli.

Saph walked over to the sink and splashed some cold water on her face. She redid her eye make up and made sure her hair was ok. As she walked to the door a thought struck her. Chase. Oh God. If didn't already know about this mess he soon would.. She had to be there for him. Saph looked left then right. Chase was in class down the hall but Cody was still in the sick bay.

Growling in frustration, Saph wished that Dom would hurry up and get back already. This, on top of everything that had already happened would mean that Cody would need as much support as they could give her.

Deciding that Chase could wait till lunch, Saph jogged back to the nurses office.

She rapped on the door and waited for the nurse to answer.

"Is Cody ok?" She demanded when the woman came out of the office.

"I thought I told you to go back to class Sapphire." The woman reproached her.

"I know you did. But she is my cousin. She had a bad shock and I need to know that she is ok." Sapphire answered through clenched teeth. She was losing patience and didn't want to waste any more time arguing with this woman.

"She's ok. She's lying down and her Mother has been notified." The nurse informed her, taking pity on the young woman.

"Thanks." Saph acknowledged and turned away. There was nothing left to do but go to class and wait out the storm. She had no doubt that things would get worse when the story had made the rounds of the student body.

She slunk into her math class and pulled out her book, barely able to focus as the numbers swam before her.

That night Cody sat on her bed and wondered how everything had gotten so screwed up. What had she done to deserve this? Had she killed someone in a former life? She had to of. There was no other explanation for her boy karma. She had been so stupid, for so long. Running around like an idiot after Finn when Madden had been there all along, the right choice, the one she was meant to be with. She didn't know whether to be sad or glad that Madden and Tierli hadn't been in any of her classes. She had caught the barest glimpse of them in the halls. They had been walking hand in hand. Madden had glared at anyone that stared at Tierli too long. She had ducked into the girls' bathroom before they had seen her. Sagging against the door as the weight of it all fell upon her.

Cody sighed and got to her feet. She was the only one home. Although her Mother had been notified earlier that day, her business was going to detain her for at least another day. There was no one. No one but her, all alone in this big stupid house.

She hadn't looked at her cell, knowing it would be full of missed calls from Saph. But even Saph was hard to take at the moment, she was so happy with Chase and Cody didn't want to rain on her parade. Everything in Saph's life was rosy and peachy and all those good things. Cody couldn't stand it. She didn't want to bring her cousin down, but she couldn't help but be more than a little jealous.

Cody walked through the house, barely glancing at the answering machine which flashed menacingly. It was another source of messages that she didn't want to hear. She paused at the door to Dom's room as a thought occurred to her. Dom kept a decent amount of liquor under one of his floorboards. He didn't know that she knew about his stash. Right now, liquor sounded like a really good idea.

She pushed open his door and almost gagged on the boy smell. The room smelt like a racoon had crawled in and died. Ugh. How could he live like this? She wondered.

Cody glanced around at the various football memorabilia and clothes that were strewn on the floor. She wondered if Gina had ever seen the room, somehow, she doubted it.

She inched forwards and stuck her toe down on the floorboard. It popped up and revealed a cache of bottles. Nice.

Cody picked a few bottles out and pulled them from their hiding place. Dom hopefully wouldn't realise that they were missing until the next time he planned to get shit faced and if everything worked out with Gina, hopefully that would be a long time away.

She shoved the bottles under her arm and ran from the room.

Dom reached across the backseat and took Gina's hand. He couldn't believe that after everything that had happened he had managed to get her back.

"Do you mind that you had to leave that school?" he asked her gently, his hand tracing circles on the palm of hers.

Gina smiled. "Well, the editor of the paper was pretty pissed. But it was worth it." She murmured.

"I love you so much." Dom told her and her grin widened.

"You know things are going to be different when we get back right?" she asked. Dom bowed his head. He had known that this was coming. She undoubtedly had thought up some way to torture him for being such an ass.

"I know I'm in the doghouse." He muttered, glaring at the front seat as he heard Dylan snicker.

"That's not what I meant. What I mean is that I'm gonna be different. I want to join the school paper, maybe even the yearbook committee. I want to spend time on my writing." She exclaimed and Dom let out the breath he had been holding.

"That sounds like a really good idea." He answered, wanting to support her.

"Are you sure. It means I won't just be head cheerleader, I mean, I might have to resign." She stumbled over the words and couldn't meet his eyes.

Dom reached a hand under her chin and angled her head up so that she met his gaze.

"Babe. I love you, not just because you look good in that tight cheering dress. I love all of you." He assured her, and he suddenly realised that he meant every word of it. In the past it had been so easy for him to tell girls what they wanted to hear. To tell them the things that would get them to give it up to him. He didn't want to do that to Gina. He respected her too much. He didn't care that he was turning into Madden, or a girly man. It was worth it, she was worth it.

"I love you too." She answered, leaning in to kiss him gently.

Saph climbed out of her car and walked up Chase's driveway. More than once on the way over she had questioned what she was doing. She wanted to be there for him, but should she just stay out of the way while this whole mess came to a head?

Saph shook her head to clear it. So what, I'm his girlfriend! Surely that means my presence is required in times of crisis! She rationalised.

She knocked on the door and waited for an answer.

After a moment Tierli opened the door. The girl looked pale and drawn. She looked like shit. Saph stepped forwards and hugged her.

"I thought you would hate me." Tierli spoke after they had separated.

"Hate you?" Saph replied, her face betraying the shock that she felt.

"For Cody. Apparently she and Madden were a thing, or something, I don't know. I didn't know.." she spoke baldly. Saph's heart went out to the girl. She didn't know what she would do in Tierli's position. Saph had always considered herself smarter than that, but if it could happen to her boyfriend's sister, she supposed it could happen to anyone.

"Yeah. That's complicated. At least it was. They never quite got it together." Saph told her, she shut her mouth after that. The last thing that Cody would want would be for her to blab to Tierli.

"Come in." Tierli spoke, gesturing with her hand.

Saph followed the girl inside.

"Is he here?" she asked. She wondered how Chase was taking all of this. His sister was pregnant. He had to be messed up about it.

"Yeah. In his room. He won't talk to me since I.. since I told him." Tierli stumbled over the words and Saph reached out, rubbing the girls arm.

"Give him time." She suggested. It was tough, her loyalties lied with Cody, but she couldn't help but feel for Tierli, no matter how disloyal it made her.

She sidestepped around Tierli and took the steps two at a time. Chase's door was open a crack and she peered around it. He was sitting cross legged, looking very small on his king sized bed.

Not saying anything, she walked over to the bed and climbed up next to him. She reached out and took his hand. There was nothing she could think of to say, there was nothing to say. This whole thing sucked. He squeezed her hand within his own and turned it over so that her hand was on top. He raised it to his lips and pressed a kiss to it.

An hour later Cody felt a pleasant heat surging through her.

"That skaaankk.." she slurred. She stumbled down the hall and held the bottle up to her lips. She drained the final dregs and let the bottle slip from her grasp.

The bottle clattered on the tiles and shattered into a thousand pieces.

"Whooooppss.." she giggled. Weaving from side to side.

From the other room, she heard her cell beep.

"I ggeet messages cause i have friends.. unlike.. unlike yooouuu you stupid head Ti-Ti li." She sang as she made her way over to her room to her phone.

Cody stared at the cell in her hand and laughed as it began to ring.

"Heelloo?" she singsonged down the line.

"Cody. Hey it's jess from the cheerleading squad. I'm having a party and we thought you could do with some cheering up!" The perky voice pinged around in Cody's brain, but one word registered. Party. She definitely needed to party. Parties were good. Parties meant beer.

"Ookay." She murmured into the cell.

"Cool. We'll pick you up in five." Jess answered and disconnected.

Five minutes later Cody stood out the front of the house and clambered into the car. Her buzz was beginning to fade a bit, so she was pleased when one of the boys in the car handed her a beer.

"Exshellent." She enthused, popping the tab and draining the can. The car roared away from the curb and into the night, headed towards the party.

Madden rolled over in bed and tried once more to settle enough to get to sleep. He sighed and flipped his pillow over so he could lie on the cold side. It did nothing to help. His head was full of the events of the past few days. Tierli at his front door, the visit to the clinic, the way he had disappointed his Mom.

He glanced over at the clock on his bedside. Three am. This was crazy. If he didn't get to sleep soon he would be rubbish at practice tomorrow morning. It was the one part of his life that was still normal, football. Nothing could touch him whilst he was on that field.

Madden jumped as his cell began to ring. He glanced at the display but didn't recognise the number.

"What?" the lack of sleep was making him cranky.

"Uh Madden. Hi. It's Jess." A girls voice filtered down the line.

"Jess, it's three am. Can this wait?" he asked, annoyed. Probably some girl doing a stupid dare.

"We didn't know who else to call. She said that Dom and her Mom are away and Saph isn't answering her cell." Jess continued, and Madden was suddenly fully awake.

"Cody?" he asked, his voice raw.

"Yeah. Can you come and get her, she's pretty messed up." Jess pleaded.

"Give me the address." Madden barked, jumping out of bed and pulling on a pair of sweats and a shirt.

Twenty minutes later Madden rolled up to the address he had been given and jogged to the front door. He rapped three times, letting his fist punish the wooden door.

The door opened and Jess pulled him into the house.

"She's out the back. I tried to stop her.. I really did." Jess yelled after him as he pushed past her and ran to the backdoor.

"Cody!" he yelled, he pushed through the throng of sweaty bodies. Cussing under his breath.

"CODY!" he yelled again.

The crowd parted and he saw her, dancing wildly at the back of the yard near the pool.

"Cody." He breathed, walking up to her and grabbing her by the wrist. Her face scrunched up in protest.

"No. Mmmadden. No!" she yelled.

"I'm taking you home." He told her, but she wrenched away from him and continued to dance. Her dress was torn, her hair hung matted in clumps and she had streaks of makeup across her face.

She shook her head wildly in response. "Unh uh." She replied. Sticking her lower lip out in defiance.

"I-I'm having fuunn." She hollered.

Madden rolled his eyes. "Yeah Codes. This is you having fun huh?" he retorted sarcastically.

"Youu.. You don't ggett to tell mmee what to do Mmadden." She singsonged.

Madden dropped her wrist. She had a point.

"Ok, will you at least sit down?" he asked, and she nodded.

"Ok." She agreed happily. She sat down heavily on the edge of the pool. She dangled her feet in and kicked them, splashing him.

"Thisss iss all yoursh fault. Yyou brroke me." She told him factually. Her previous happiness had disappeared and she looked like she was going to cry.

"I know. I know it is Codes. I stuffed up." He admitted. He looked away, not wanting to see her cry, or to see the mirror of her tears in his own eyes.


He snapped his head back to her. She had toppled off the edge and fallen headfirst into the pool.

Without a second thought he peeled off his shirt and dived in after her. He dived under the water and quickly located her. He grabbed her round the waist and kicked them both towards the surface.

They broke the surface of the water and he pushed her up and out of the water, making sure she was secure on the edge of the pool before lifting himself out.

The moon caught her face and it crumpled with sobs.

"I love you." She spoke in a moment of clarity before passing out, the alcohol catching up with her.

Swallowing hard, Madden lifted her from where she was lying and walked from the party with her in his arms. He stared straight ahead, ignoring the openly curious gazes he received from many of the kids.

Half an hour later he had laid her down in her bed. He took off her soaking shoes, and laid the quilt over her so she wouldn't get cold. He caressed her face gently with the back of his hand.

"I love you too." He whispered, before leaving the room and closing the door behind him.

A/N – this chapter took me a super long time! I am sorry guys.. don't hate me! Please review and let me know what you think!


Eve Lindsey.