He wore eyeliner. That fact alone was enough to keep them worlds apart. But, in an exchange of secrets for secrets, worlds aren't so far apart. And lines separate just as they connect. A sweet one shot.
- How can you see a person eye to eye when you're looking down on them? -
They were drinking soda and skating on the railing of the stairs and on the stairs doing the stunts they do best.
Adrienne took a deep breath as she headed for their direction.
This was it. She needed to ace this paper for her class to secure her straight 'A' report card. MJ had given her the idea, and she, thinking that it should be no problem, agreed whole-heartedly to the task.
It seemed so terribly simple then.
MJ created a list of people in different social groups for Adrienne to interview, giving her their names after she finished with the last. Adrienne didn't know how hard it would be. She had nothing against blondes, but she was grateful she was blessed with dark red hair because her cheerleader status did not help her. She had never received so many cold shoulders, hard stares, and acid retorts in all her life.
But Adrienne was Adrienne; she never backed down from her original goals.
So she sucked up all the shit they tried to give her and gritted her teeth. It took her long to break certain people and get them to open up to her. One way or another they ended up enlightening her with their views and opinions of high school, which was the whole point of the paper.
She was about to interview the last person on MJ's list: Carlos Gallardo, the leader of Clark Edmonton High School skaters.
His notorious reputation was known throughout the county like Adrienne Cowan's perfect one. She was famous. He was infamous. In social circles, they were completely opposite. Their differences went beyond that of the North Pole and South Pole.
But she had to this.
She wouldn't allow herself to do less.
His name had been included in the proposal she handed to Mrs. Covington.
"Cowan, we thought you forgot about us!" a skater, Lucien, called out as she neared them. At least half of them were looking in her direction, but the person she wanted to get close to ignored her.
Word had gotten around about what she was doing, and it did nothing to aid her objective. In fact, it made it so much harder.
"You're not that easy to forget, Hampton," she shrugged. She gave him a warm but nervous smile.
"The prep knows my last name!" Lucien laughed as Adrienne stood by them awkwardly.
"Do you mind if I?" she asked hesitantly gesturing to the stairs. She bristled at the stereotype he suggested but let it go. She was on their turf after all.
"Yes, we do mind," Carlos cut in icily, still not looking at her from the ledge near the stairs that he was sitting on.
"I'll be quick then. You all know why I'm here so why don't we cut to the chase and save pleasantries for some other lifetime?" Adrienne said, having can't help to hold the acid from her tone.
The other guys whistled and laughed.
"What makes you think I'll comply with your every whim, Ms. Cosmo?" he sniggered, snorting as he gulped his Pepsi.
"Oh, please, Mr. All That, you know more about eyeliner than I do," she called back, unable to control her words.
Name-calling was so elementary.
More whistles and laughter ensued when she reddened after realizing what she had said to probably the most dangerous guy around. But surprisingly Gallardo laughed.
"Okay, that just got you a seat on the stairs with the bad boys," he chuckled as he motioned for her to sit down.
He still hadn't looked at her and it annoyed her.
"Don't treat me like your dog, Gallardo," she mumbled, not bothering to sit down.
"Eric, give this bitch a soda," Carlos called out to one of his friends.
Adrienne rolled her eyes. She made a move towards Carlos, but Lucien standing beside her grabbed her by the waist and held her back, shaking his head silently at her with a meaningful expression.
It was a warning. It was one she would take because she had been out of line. This was their territory and she was only a trespasser. How they wanted to persecute her was their call. So she bit her lip and accepted the Coke.
After offending him, she was at a loss. There was no way she could get that 'A' now since her paper was going to be incomplete.
Her and her big mouth.
Damnit, she had more pride than that! But to risk getting an earful from her father? She hated it when he played his disappointment card on her. It always worked. Once again she found herself gritting her teeth.
"Sorry," she mumbled, taking aback the onlookers.
Adrienne was famous for her rare apologies.
But Carlos wanted more.
"What was that?" Carlos jeered, a smirk forming on his face as he leaned and cupped his ear at her direction.
"Sorry," she said a little louder.
"Excuse me?" Carlos goaded.
"Don't push your luck, skater-boy," Adrienne spat before she could stop herself, but this time she was no longer apologetic.
He wasn't being protective of his territory. He was simply being a jerk.
"Now, now, we all know I'm the key to that perfect report card, cheerleader," he sneered.
Another time, Adrienne would have wanted to know how he knew that, but she knew where he was leading to.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"What do I get for this?"
"Publicity," she said almost readily. She had said that so many times over the last two weeks that it didn't sound like a word anymore.
"You think I don't get enough?" he smirked.
"Fine, allow me to elaborate. No, Gallardo. This isn't just publicity. This is to shine the light on the truth. This is to show the world who you really are," she sighed tiredly.
This paper is really more trouble than its worth.
"You think I want to shine light on the truth? That this isn't who I really am?" he chuckled, swinging his dangling feet to and fro while he stared at them.
"There was a boy in the playground I once knew," she said quietly, tentatively taking a step forward.
This time, Lucien made no move to stop her. It was her who stopped herself from going on any further.
Adrienne hardly noticed the mood grow somber. A few interested eyebrows raised around them. However, her focus was trained on one thing: him.
"You think I'm still that same kid? You think deep inside me I haven't changed?" Carlos said as quietly, cutting into the silence.
"No, you're not the same kid. You have changed. I want to know why," she murmured almost wishing he couldn't hear her.
"Not because of this stupid report," she mentally added.
Silence made her think he didn't hear her. But once he replied, she knew he deliberately disregarded it.
"I'll give you your 'A', Cowan, if you give me something in return," he said nodding, his taunting tone returning.
Adrienne had already seen that coming so she said the overused line she had been saying all week.
"I can only give what I can. Expect no more, but expect no less," Adrienne replied shrugging.
He looked at her, but only for a millisecond. She didn't miss that impish glint in his dark eyes. He was like the Hispanic version of the trickster god. He was a god in the way he was handsome. He was a god in the way he held himself so assuredly. He was simply a god.
"An eye for an eye," he said mysteriously. From around her, she didn't miss the looks on the other skater's eyes as they smirked at each other. They seemed to share a joke secretly between them.
"What?" Adrienne asked, having not comprehended.
"I'll answer a question after you tell us a secret," Carlos said, not looking at her but smirking.
They had this planned out.
"I—fine," she complied, shrugging.
Adrienne had been about to protest, but then figured out this could get fun both ways. She was breaking trust people put on her; she knew it. But heck, it wasn't like she was going to betray their biggest secrets. She settled for settling rumors. Nothing they didn't already know about.
"Jessica likes Owen," she said casually before asking a question. "Why do you skate?"
"Jessica the cheerleader really likes Owen skater-boy?" Carlos snorted as he looked to Owen who was blushing madly.
Adrienne knew most of the guys in Carlos' circle. They weren't guys you couldn't trust. They keep their promises. They keep secrets. They don't hurt girls. They don't hurt a cheating girlfriend. They don't hurt the guy their girlfriend's cheated on them with. But they did stop respecting you and that was more than enough. In general, they never hurt anybody without reason.
She knew none of the stuff she'll say will ever get out into the open. It was just between them. Her and this group.
"The answer, Gallardo," Adrienne demanded in a business like tone.
"Easy," he said. "It's like flying. It's freeing. Don't expect me to be all sentimental. That's it," he added when she made an annoyed face.
Adrienne just nodded, trying to think of another secret.
"Lloyd Andrews was on steroids," Adrienne reported, referring to the skinny guy who left for Columbia last week due to a 'family' emergency. "Why the eyeliner?"
Lloyd Andrews was no one to any of them, but he did spark interest. His secret wasn't 'private'. He almost wanted everyone to know before he left for good. Maybe he thought it would change his reputation. Adrienne didn't know, but she was going to take advantage of what he left her behind with.
"Stupid secret, stupid question, stupid answer," Carlos grinned, shaking his head and making Adrienne chuckle. "It comes with the reputation. Why'd do ask?"
"It comes with the next question," Adrienne shrugged nonchalantly, sitting down on the step she was on. She was a tad bit manipulative, but she knew how to use that as a talent. "Marissa's double D's are 100 percent real. Are you reputation driven?"
"Pay up, Carson, you owe me 50," Lucien laughed behind her, making her smile.
She didn't mind sharing that. What happens here stays here. The guys weren't abusive.
"No, I'm not. I like myself the way I am; I didn't ask for the popularity to come with it," Carlos shrugged.
He sounded honest enough, Adrienne decided.
"Anita Briars, your ex, cheated on you with Stanley Ronaldson not James de Carb. What do you think of the social system in the school?" Adrienne said quickly hoping that wouldn't make him angry.
She knew Carlos would never hurt Briars or de Carb. But, she reasoned, they didn't deserve the group's respect. Ronaldson, on the other hand, did. The way Briars treated him when Gallardo thought they were together was disgusting. Carlos deserved to know.
"Fuck that bitch," he hissed the continued, "To put it nicely, it's a pretty fucked up system. But name me a place where 'civilized' men don't practice stereotyping. It's only human of us to judge something we don't understand. No one is perfect, but we would do much better if we at least tried to understand."
That got Adrienne thinking. The notepad she had been writing on snapped closed. From now on, the questions were off the cuff.
"The principal is going to talk to your father about the storage room that was set on fire last night," she said. Her position in school was a privelege that was easy to abuse. She knew things before everybody. For once, she didn't mind abusing that. This guy was deeper than she thought. And he was right too. It all seemed worth it. "What do you think of things like racism and sexism? I mean do you support it?"
"I didn't set that place on fire," Carlos muttered, but more clearly, he said, "We're all humans. Some are more fortunate than others. We're all different, that's what makes us equal. No, I don't support it."
It made sense. He made sense.
"Jeffrey Parker put the lighter and the same fireworks in your locker that was found in the storage room," Adrienne said. "Do you have a religion that you practice?"
"I'm not an atheist. I'm Christian by paper, but I've never been to church. I don't believe that God is restricted to the church or the Bible or some stupid commandments. Omnipresent. Do good and you're good," Carlos said, not saying anything about the secret she just told.
"Jeffrey's locker is 461 and his locker combination is 47-12-08 on the second floor, north wing. Were you ever on drugs or an alcoholic or are you?"
"Thanks," Carlos said, his brows furrowing for a moment then clearing. "I've tried drugs, but I'm not stupid enough to get hooked. I only drink socially; I have high tolerance for alcohol."
Another secret. Adrienne needed another secret.
Ooh, that MJ.
Her friend was going to kill her for exposing this, but her gratitude later on would be worth it.
"MJ thinks Benjy is hot, but Derek Marsters' been planning to ask her to the Valentine's dance. If Benjy doesn't make a move before that…" Adrienne said, looking for Benjy.
The other had long turned from their conversation since they weren't at each others' throats anymore, but at the mention of his name and not to mention MJ's, Benjy's head practically swiveled 360 to turn to Adrienne.
"Really?" he asked in surprise.
Adrienne nodded an affirmative before she turned her attention back to Carlos.
"Have you ever cut yourself?" she asked somewhat hesitantly.
"Yes," Carlos replied, looking shifty.
"How did it feel?"
"Like release. The pain in your heart, you can't get it out so the pain from cutting seems like release for that." He was silent and brooding, tracing the phantom lines on his arms.
"Mom committed suicide…" he whispered. Adrienne saw his fists clenching and thought she had better change the subject, but he spoke before she did. "Cheater. You owe me some secrets."
Adrienne new she was in trouble. She was running out of secrets to tell. She turned to Benjy again in desperation.
"Benjy," she called, biting her lip.
MJ was really going to kill her now.
She rattled off numbers to him, MJ's private number. Adrienne made sure Benjy had it right before she turned to Carlos again.
Right as she opened her mouth, he shook his head at her.
"Another one," Carlos said.
She wanted to pound him in the face for not looking at her.
Adrienne rummaged in her brain for a worthy secret. She found none. Well none except the one she wanted to keep to herself. Forever. But Carlos could pretty much hurt her if she didn't come up to her end of the bargain so she blurted it out.
"I like you."
That pretty much got the attention of his whole circle of friends.
"Excuse me?" Carlos said, his dark eyes finally meeting her brown ones.
"You heard me," she muttered as she hugged her knees and hid her burning cheeks. She silently sighed in relief that she was wearing jeans today.
"I believe the lady confessed she liked you, Carlos," Taylor, the green haired skater, smirked smugly.
Adrienne hoped she could just disappear.
"Since when?" Carlos asked suddenly in a gruff tone.
The redheaded cheerleader cringed.
"That's not in your place to ask. I tell you whatever kind of secret I feel like telling and you just answer my questions. You set those conditions yourself, so stick to it," Adrienne murmured from her hiding place roughly.
It didn't sound as effective as she would have liked it to sound but it was better than nothing.
"You know what?" Carlos said in a serious tone.
From where she was, Adrienne could hear that he was fed up with this whole conversation. Lunch was halfway done. She had wasted his time. And confessed… She dug her own grave and practically lowered herself into the ground.
"What?" she whispered once she realized he was expecting a reply.
"I'll tell you a big secret of mine, if you do something for me." The playful tone in Carlos' voice came back. That was even more dangerous than a sober Carlos.
She tilted her head to find him still looking down at her.
"Do what?" she asked tentatively.
She wasn't about to do anything rash for his 'secret', but all the same, she was curious. His most embarrassing moment? Is he a virgin with size issues? A smile almost formed in her face. That is, until he spoke up again.
"Come here and kiss me," he said.
Adrienne let her jaw drop as around her, the guys hooted like overzealous owls high on stimulants. All previous thoughts were erased. To hell with his secret!
As much as her pride and dignity protested, something possessed her body to wordlessly stand up and walk to him.
- x -
She saw surprise in Carlos' eyes as she headed towards him, but a smug smirk replaced that expression soon. He parted his knees as she slid between them. An emotion unreadable suddenly occupied his eyes as she moved closer. Satisfaction? No. Lust? No. Whatever it was, it appeared tender.
Adrienne grabbed the neck of his shirt and pulled him closely to her. The tips of their noses grazed. Under her other hand she felt the crazy beating of his heart. She wondered if her heart was beating faster than his.
His eyes, she thought.
She saw his glazed eyes at the final moment before their lips collided.
- x -
The kiss made her feel like the world ended around her and only Carlos and her existed. Cries of delight and jeering from around them meant absolutely nothing to her. It felt so right to be in his arms. He held her so well…like a custom-made blanket only for her. She was glad for the unknown force that overcame her.
Deep down she knew it was her own desire emerging to the surface.
Her desire that had been there since the first time he got on top of his damned skateboard and cruised…and flew in the streets and into her heart that year in seventh grade.
- x -
She started to pull away but Carlos felt her so he wrapped his hand on her waist and on the back of her head. It was as if he wanted to taste more of her. But he was gentle...saying without words he'll only take as much as he was given.
Oh, his was reputation was scandalous to passers-by, but not those who knew him. Hell, he was the perfect, perfect gentleman; Adrienne could see this even from the distance she's been seeing him from over the years.
Yet, before reason could protest, his tongue entered her mouth. She let it be; reason could demur for all she cared now. She responded, uncertainly poking her own tongue into his mouth. Adrienne, the school's rumored "Goddess of Kisses" was acting so amateur she felt a little foolish. Maybe he felt this too since he smiled against her mouth. But with one stroke of his tongue against hers, she forgot to care.
- x -
Adrienne pulled away minutes later. He left her breathless. So breathless in fact that she had to cling to him for support. She pulled away, but not too far, just enough to rest her forehead on his and share ragged breaths. Adrienne couldn't break contact.
Not yet at least.
Her eyes found his twinkling ones. Within all that shine, she saw herself with mussed hair, a flushed face and swollen lips.
She could still feel his lips on hers.
That was heaven.
"Well?" she breathed, only just realizing her hands were wrapped around his lean waist.
He pulled her close again to deliver a chaste kiss on her lush lips.
"I like you too," he whispered softly, his lips brushing hers. "I like you too."
Kohl. Wasn't it funny? How him wearing kohl to line his eyes once separated them? Once disgusted her? Then intrigued her? Now connected them?
Kohl. Lines separate as do they connect.
Kohl. It wasn't the only thing they had in common.
- x -
Well, that was something sweet that has been rotting in my hard disk for quite some time now. It's more than four months old. It's been raining and I've been feeling happy and light-hearted. This is the only way I know how to show it. It would mean a lot to me if you guys said something about it. This is, I think, one of the cutest but corniest one shots I have. Gah, I can't explain it. XD Just tell me how you feel about it.
Thanks for reading!
Review, s'il vous plait?