I'm so so sorry, but I got caught up in homework and stuff and didn't have enough energy to come up with decent stuff.

Thank you Midge-The-Hopeless-Romantic, emma, bookworm925, mia5081, Pieces of the sun, and Fleeting Moment for reviewing! Reading each of your reviews makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

Heads up, Victor is slightly whiny in this chapter. It was fun writing him this way.

I turned back to see Ben following me, one strap of his backpack on his shoulder, one hand holding the backpack, the other holding his drumsticks. When his eyes looked up, he grinned and called, "Hey Laurel, wait up for me."

"What are you doing here?" I was honestly curious; he was headed towards the gym, even though he appeared to be the kind of student who didn't engage in sports unless they were mandatory.

"I have to catch a ride with my brother Ryan. Mom didn't give me my own car." It took me a while to recognize the name Ryan. I recalled the scene this morning.

"Ryan's your brother?" I looked at him again and saw that he did, indeed, resemble Ryan.

"My older twin brother, yes."


We quickly repeated one last play before the coach dismissed to the locker rooms. As team captain, it was my duty to praise the guys that deserve it, and frankly, I thought all of them did.

"Great job, team. Who're we annihilating this weekend?" I yelled.

They knew I already knew the answer, but that didn't stop them from yelling, "Berkeley!" as they stripped off their shirts.

I went into one of the showers and quickly rinsed the sweat off myself before putting my jeans and clean T- shirt back on.

Ryan, one of my good friends, though not nearly as close as Tristan, was already ready. We shared one of those admiration-envy relationships; he had tried out for football in freshman year like I had. We both made varsity, but I somehow managed to make captain instead of the seniors. Since he and his brother Ben both had after school practices, they left together to save on gas and maintenance. Ben was a drummer too, so I was fairly certain Laurel met him at practice today.

Ryan and I were waiting outside the gym when we saw Ben and Laurel walking down together.

We briskly walked to catch up with them. I greeted them, "Hey Laurel, Ben."

Ryan looked startled at Laurel for a minute and then suddenly said, "Wait. I know you! You're the girl Victor kissed this morning!"

Laurel and I averted our eyes, like little kids caught binging on chocolate. It hadn't been a real kiss, but we might as well not let anybody else know that.

At our expressions, both brothers guffawed. Ryan asked, "So Laurel, where'd you move from again?

She answered, "California. Why?" Curiosity and confusion colored her face.

"Just wanted to see if Victor's 'girl in another school' was you," Ryan replied happily. Unlike most athletes, Ryan was always in hyper mode.

Then he directed towards me, "Victor, what ever happened to your other girl?"

I sighed and responded, "Laurel is my other girl."

Ryan's face expressed understanding, and then he mischievously said, "Laurel, if you ever want another option, don't hesitate to come to me."

Both my fists and jaw clenched. I was tempted to go possessive on him, but I wanted to know what Laurel would say. Besides, I completely believe in 'innocent until proven guilty' and 'a leopard can't change its spots'.

She laughed, a true laugh of mirth, and responded, "Thanks Ryan, I'll remember that." I couldn't tell whether it was a diplomatic refusal or a genuine promise.

Why couldn't I have fallen for one of those girls who melodramatically reveal their actual feelings? No, I had to get engaged to and fall in love with a girl who was skilled at the art of saying one thing and meaning something else. But the only way I knew that was because I did it too.

By this time, we had arrived at the parking lot. Finally we would be free from the questions. I think they had enough to tell their girlfriends and have Laurel and me still in the gossip tomorrow.

I had already been called old-fashioned and prude, so it didn't bother me anymore, but I couldn't be sure they wouldn't say anything mean about Laurel.

I could tell Ryan wanted to ask a few more questions, but Laurel and I climbed into the car before he could.

I faintly heard him pondering aloud how I had managed a relationship with Laurel being on the other side of the country. Of course, Ryan couldn't survive without his girls. Neither could Ben.

"Home sweet home, here we come," Laurel announced. She used the streets I'd shown her this morning, and we were home in ten minutes. My Laurel was a fast learner.

When we turned into our subdivision, Laurel mumbled something about 'yucky homework'.

I chuckled. "I take it you don't like homework very much?"

"No, I don't. They're encroaching on our personal time," she grumbled, shaking her hair out from behind her ears.

"You wanna work with me on it?" I was unsure about how much work we would actually accomplish, but I knew the parents wouldn't mind.

Laurel's eyes immediately brightened up. "Could I? It's so much easier getting it done when you have someone with you."

"Laurel, if you couldn't, I wouldn't have offered. Just go ahead and turn into my driveway."

When we got inside, the first thing we did was take off our shoes and deposit our backpacks on the floor of my bedroom.

After that, Laurel complained, "I'm hungry."

"How can you already be hungry? We just got back from school." I never understood how people could eat only two hours after lunch.

"Hence the after school snack," she explained, as though it was as obvious as three sides and three corners making a triangle.

Right after school never worked as snack time for me. I used snacks to break the monotony of homework. They were my stretch breaks.

"I think we might still have some cake from last night."

"The one your dad made?" I nodded. "God, that was so good. Can you cook like that?"

"Um...I'm afraid not." My parents were paranoid and would never let me near the kitchen unless it was to mix cookie or cake batter. I was never quite sure what went in it, though I'm sure Mom and Dad will eventually tell me.

"Bummer. A guy who can cook is hot." Well now I've got a great excuse to force my parents to teach me. Except for the fact they already think Laurel and I love each other.

While I pulled the cake out of the refrigerator, I inquired, "Hey, Laurel, what do you think about Ryan and Ben?"

She contemplated for a little while at the table while I finished slicing and sliding the cake onto dishes. "They're pretty cool, but they're not like you."

"So is my 'uniqueness' a good thing or bad thing?"

"I don't know yet," she answered evasively. Back to the diplomat act. I never noticed how annoying it was until now.

After we had eaten our cake, we went back upstairs to complete our homework.


By the time we were done, we were both sleepy. Laurel fell asleep on my bed and I, because I had said I wouldn't do anything a boyfriend would, ended up asleep on the desk.

The garage door, alerting me to my parents' presence, woke me up. I looked at my alarm clock and realized it was eight-o-clock.

Laurel was still innocently sleeping on my bed, looking like a little kid. She even had a innocently mischievous smile on her face.

I was loath to wake her up, but I'd rather not have my parents get more ideas, considering how active their imaginations are.

I shook her slightly, saying "Hey, Laur, you need to wake up."

She groaned and swatted at me, muttering something unintelligible.

I adopted a firmer tone as I heard the key in the front door. "Laurel, you really need to wake up. It's eight."

She shot up, hitting me on the chin. She then turned to me and profusely apologized, jumped out of the bed, and promptly proceeded to make it look as if it had never been used.

She then grabbed my hand and led me down the stairs of my own house, asking my parents about their day on the way.

My father looked at her with adoration and told me, "See, this is how a kid should respond to his or her parents. They shouldn't just sit and wait for a summon."

Well, at least Laurel didn't have to work to win my parents over.

Then Mom asked, "Why's she here though, Victor?"

Laurel immediately replied, "Victor invited me over so we could do our homework together, and then we fell asleep."

My parents shared a strange look that I couldn't quite decipher, but I instinctively knew they were communicating something about me.

Poor Victor... Y'all knew Ryan was gonna offer anyway. Victor doesn't do anything because he implicitly trusts Laurel; Victor's been fairly sheltered, not having known heartbreak or anything like it, so he doesn't quite know what's normal to feel and what's not.

This is going to sound strange, but Victor is actually a combination of my dream guy and me. Tell how that's worked out so far!

Wondering what y'all thought about a Zen/Tristan one-shot.