For What It's Worth

Author: Kei

Summary: One doesn't know. One doesn't want her to know. One doesn't want to know. And one knows everything, but wishes she doesn't. Four friends, one story. Chaos much?

Part Nine: Perrie

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if things were a little different in your life? You know, like if at one point you chose to do something else instead of what you did, or chose to go a certain way, chose to make something, be someone, even if, at the end of the day, you weren't necessarily aware of the choices at all. Do you ever wonder how things would have changed in your life; how things would have eventually turned out instead?

I do. I wonder, all the freaking time. All the what-if's and the how-about-if's and the if-only's. I don't tell anyone about thinking these things, not even Claire who knows almost everything about my life. It's not because I don't want to tell; it's just, well, there is no point in telling. It's not as if things would change anyway. Not as if thinking this way would make me a different Perrie, a more socially-inept, less disappointing Perrie who knows just the right words in certain conversations and stuttered less, or blabbered less, or never made a fool of herself at moments when making a fool of one's self is probably the worst thing anyone could ever do.

But I still wonder; I can't help it. Maybe, I'm just neurotic like that.

What if my mother didn't catch me making out with a girl I wasn't even in love with that one time, would we still be close today? Maybe she was just shocked because of course, she had big plans for me, and it didn't include having a lesbian for a daughter. Maybe if I was a little less eager about the physical aspects of, you know, growing up, and she didn't catch me like that, if I just eased her into my sexual orientation instead of slapping her on the face with the fact, maybe she would still care for me the same way she did before. Maybe she'd still be proud of me, of the daughter I'm turning out to be – paying for my own way through college, doing quite well in school, having my own place. Or maybe not. I'm a lesbian regardless of what I did, do, and will most likely still do in my life, and maybe, just for that, I will never be enough. Not for her.

And what if I was a little more outgoing as a kid, would I have ever been friends with Claire? I know that the only reason Claire ever talked to me back then was because she pitied me, that lonely little girl sitting at the corner with no one to talk to. At first, it was an awkward kind of friendship, what we had, or maybe I was the one that made it awkward because Claire was the one always with a smile on her face, a twinkle in her eyes, and that ever-endearing laughter I've come to be familiar with. But before I knew it, I was laughing along with her, having sleepovers at her house (and her at mine), and she slowly (but surely) brought me out of my shell. I was still shy, still unsure, still awkward, but somehow, being friends with Claire also gave me a kind of confidence that I didn't know I had (and to be honest, I'm still surprised I can actually tap that same confidence into now, even when there are two other people aside from Claire and my father that are now also my sources of strength).

But yes, what if I had been a little less shy, a little less unsure and awkward, would Claire still have bothered to be friends with me? Would she have approached me the same way she did when we were kids, or would she have chosen to be friends with some other girl, another lonely little girl sitting at the corner with no one to talk to? And on that same note, if we never did become friends, would that also mean not being friends with Jan and Lizzie? Would we still have this quaint little group of friends if I had not been that shy girl with self-esteem issues (and in more ways than one, I guess I still am)?

Would I have been happier if I went out of the country for college, maybe to Switzerland or Canada? Would my parents still be together if I didn't run up to my room without saying a word after my father asked me about my thoughts on their separation? Would I still be gay if I didn't accidentally see those two teenage girls making out back when I was twelve and still naïve, still unsure, but slowly (and surely) coming out of my shell?

And would things between me and Lizzie be different now if I had only been a little less unsure, a little less awkward, a little less confused?

"Got a minute?"

I'm only a few steps outside of the classroom – Anthropology, last class for the day – when I immediately see Lizzie half-standing, half-leaning on the wall, her usual bubbly self gone, replaced with that blank look on her face and her eyes piercing right through me.

I have no words.

"We need to talk," and then she's walking off without a glance back, her pace slow but steady, obviously waiting for me to follow, but seemingly not caring if I did.

A small part of me is tempted to just walk the opposite direction, to run away from her (and everything that came with it, her, us), to just (for once, just this once) not do something because I have to, because I'm expected to, because it's the right thing to do.

But I follow her, albeit several steps behind her. That distance between us acting not so much as a barrier, but for me, as a breathing room, so to speak. To allow me to think, to wonder.

Lizzie, on the other hand, has other ideas.

Maybe realizing that I'm too far behind, Lizzie immediately stops and looks back at me. With a scowl on her face, she walks back towards me, grabs my arm, and drags me towards the nearest classroom she could find.

The nearest empty classroom, that is.

So now here we are, inside a small classroom with the door closed and no one to bother us.

"You've been avoiding me."

And there she is.

I open my mouth to speak, but before I say anything, before any word comes out, she cuts me off (and in a way, I'm grateful because I really have no idea what to say).

"Look Perrie, I get it, okay? You're freaking out. It's perfectly understandable, so I understand that you have every reason to freak out. And if can still say I know you, a part of me kind of already expected this," she sighs. She bites her lip in annoyance or exasperation or something, and she continues to take the words away from my mind. But that's okay; she has enough words for the both us, it seems. "But you don't have to pretend as if I don't exist!"

Another breath. Another exasperated sigh.

"You win, Perrie! Okay? You win. I shouldn't have kissed you. I shouldn't have done that. It was," a brief pause, "a mistake. I was drunk; you were there." Lizzie moves to sit down on one of the hardwood chairs. She sighs again, her gaze moving from blackboard to ceiling to floor. "You can stop avoiding me now."

"So you, uh," I massage the back of my neck, "you remember? The, um, kiss, I-I mean."

Her head snaps back to look at me, glaring at me with a WTF expression on her face, "Have you not just heard any of the things I said? Yes, Perrie, I remember." She stands up and moves to walk out the door, "God, I can't believe this."

I don't know what got into me, but suddenly, I snap out of being the idiot that is me and grab her arm back before she even walks out and away from me. With my hand on her arm, Lizzie turns to face me with that same scowl from earlier and a glare that I've seen from her several times before, but never towards me.

"What do you want, Perrie?"

"What do you want, Liz?" I ask her. She's the one who kissed me, for Pete's sake. She doesn't have the right to pretend like this is my fault!

She looks up and exclaims, "Finally, she talks to me!" as if talking to some unknown entity in the heavens or something. Then to me, "If all this time you thought I couldn't remember all about kissing you that night, why have you been avoiding me?"

And again, we're back to the lack of words.

Why exactly is that?

"I…" I try, but nothing comes out.

"And don't you dare give me that bullshit about not avoiding me. I know when I'm being avoided, Perrie, and I hate it," she's stopped glaring at me, but the expression on her face isn't any better. "So…?"

"I… I freaked out." Words. Finally.

Liz looks away for a second and then looks back, straight at me, and it's the first time I actually notice the kind of eyes that she has. Hazel brown eyes with a little shade of gray at some parts. Thick, long eyelashes. "Yes. We've already established that."

"I…" the need for a pause. Breathing space. Distance, some kind of distance. "What do you want from me, Lizzie?" I can hear the pounding on my chest, the blood rushing through my veins. I need to get away for a while. I need to breathe.

I can't.

She blinks, and when her eyes open again to look at me, it's like something is different, and her eyes are a little more brown, a little more gray. Things are changing. Fast.

Everything is in slow motion.

"Perrie…" she says my name; I hear her say my name. But there is nothing else.

Nothing else.

And then I'm leaning in.

I forget all about the what-ifs and how-about-if's and if-only's.

She kisses me back.


Author's Notes: 'Tis the season and all that, yes? So in line with the holiday spirit, I present to all of you this long overdue (understatement of the year) update. I'm not quite satisfied with this chapter of Perrie's, and I certainly don't think it's worth the year-long hiatus. But I guess what I have to say is that I needed that one year to figure some stuff out (personal, as well as when it comes to my writing). As a character-driven piece, this fic will continue to be an exploration of sorts into the way these characters' minds work.

Please, excuse the grammar errors and typos. I got a little too excited, if you will.

And now, for the responses:

Omok, here's an update. Oh, and I was motivated indeed. I hope that this fic will continue to open your eyes, and also, that you'll continue to leave me with wonderful reviews. Yes?

tainted music, to this day, I still wonder how people stumble upon my stories, but I'm glad that you did. Thanks for the review and next time, you can tell me what got you checking this little story out?

Forgotten, the update is here! Haha. I also check out updates on some of the fics I like more often than is healthy, so, uh, in a way I know how that feels…which is reason for me enough to, you know, update more often (and with constancy). I mean, golden rule in mind and all. But when life gets to you, it gets to you. That's still no excuse, I know. XD I'm glad that you like my writing style. It's an ongoing process, finding the right voice to use for each story, but so far, I think I'm doing an okay job.

FightingRuin, I can't say much about your question about Claire other than you'll find out in time. But yeah, Perrie seems like one lucky nerd. LOL.

Trey, don't die on me yet! I hope this update didn't come a year too late.

Tercadar, thank you for the review and the story alert. This fic is more or less a character-driven one so what I'm going for is the development of each character with every chapter in such a way that we never really get to know them enough because people are like that. Just when we think we already know someone, we find out eventually that we don't, not really. We can't completely know someone; I don't think that's quite possible.

Ess, is this chapter worth the wait? Did I somehow succeed in making those LizziexPerrie bunnies in your head bounce around or what? :) I didn't get to put up this latest update in a year, can you still forgive me for that? I mean, I do come back bearing pressies of the LizziexPerrie nature, after all.

Rudos, and Jay, how's this for an update? :D

Phoenixdust, no broken hearts, please; I can't bear it. Here's an update that you'll like. Hopefully?

silverscreen crush, the update didn't come quite as soon as you probably expected, but uh, keep reading, yes?

Crazy Dude II, aren't love triangles just scandalously annoying? I mean, you just wanna scream, "make up your damn mind already!" *smirks*

random sdf, if the last update seemed like a cliff-hanger already, wait 'til I actually update with a real cliffy. Which will come soon. ;)

KK, don't the characters in any story remind us somehow of people we know? (Or maybe that's just me.)

Mishiru15, thank you thank you. I'm back and I'll make sure to, yes, keep 'em coming. :D

Sumiko Kenchi Haimoto, this update is a year too late, I know, but that doesn't mean I won't respond to reviews given to me, especially reviews such as yours which show that you really do have something to say about what I write and all. Don't get me wrong; I like even the smallest nudge or poke or an "update soon" because at least, in a way, people take the time to remind me that I have something called a story to finish up. But you know, sometimes, writers need to know how their stories actually affect those who read them because what's a writer without a reader, right? … I like that you're able to sympathize with Claire, but in a way, I think somehow it's also her choice that she doesn't necessarily tell others how she really feels. And it's that same choice that will continue to be a recurring issue in this fic. There's no Claire in this latest update, but I hope you liked this just as much.

FromAutumn, can I be honest and say I've never read 'sisterhood'? *wince* To be honest, I'm actually more of a Haruki Murakami kind of girl. But I'm also into Slavoj Zizek so I don't think I really have a certain 'type', so to speak. I don't know. I'm just weird like that. Hope you like this latest update.

kaela t. sheldon, no dying allowed. So don't, uh, die on me, okay? So here you go. An update and a little piece of my unstable mind. LOL.

So, dear readers of this little pet fic, won't you tell me what you think? Leave me a note. Tell me you guys still actually CARE about this, haha.