What's-her-name's house was going to get trashed. That much was obvious as soon as we walked through the door. She hadn't party-proofed it (a mistake I'd made once that had caused me to be banned from having more than two friends over at a time for the following four months). It was in too perfect condition and there was just too much stuff to hope that none of it would be damaged.
Emily, drunk already, tripped across the floor towards me and flung her arms around my neck in what I supposed was a hug. "Kit, you're here!" she slurred.
"Yep," I replied shortly, trying to disentangle her arms from me.
"You must have a drink!" she insisted, trying to lead me to the kitchen, which at least meant away from Andrew.
"You know, I'm cool for the moment," I said to her.
It was the biggest collection of boys in polo shirts I'd seen in a while, I noticed as I looked around the room.
"Oh," she said, stopping in her tracks, and then choosing to perch on a sofa and encouraging me to sit with her, which I did. "So I see you came with Andrew." Emily grinned, drink tipping dangerously in her hand.
I pushed it straight, answering, "Yeah, and Jimmy, and Stuart, and Merv." The four had disappeared in different directions now, after our awkward car journey, and I could only spot Jimmy talking to a friend of his.
"So you're not back together?" Emily asked, sounding disappointed. She reached out to pat my shoulder, as if I must be upset about it too.
"No," I responded.
"But maybe soon?" Emily asked hopefully.
"No." I shook my head, wishing for a way out of this conversation.
"Maybe someday?" Oh my God, was she ever going to give up?
I felt a hand on my arm and glanced up from my seat. "Can I steal her away?" Merv requested, pulling me up before Emily could answer.
"You do that a lot," I informed him while he walked me across the room. He'd attempted the same action at the drinks party with my aunt.
Merv smirked at me. "I don't get a thank you, darling? You looked about ready to slit your throat."
"Thank you, Merv," I said, since he was right after all.
"You seem to be in a bit of a mood today, dear," Merv stated, leading me into the kitchen. There was a table with a number of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, along with some paper cups. "Any reason?"
I blinked, watching Merv as he poured himself a drink, offering me one. "It's the heat. It makes me irritable."
Merv chuckled. "If by the heat you mean Andrew, then I'd have to agree. It does make you irritable."
I made a face at him, walking back and forth across the room even as he sat at one of the kitchen chairs.
"So what's this thing with Stuart about, sweetie? Just him picking up Andrew today?" Some people would call what Merv was doing right now nosy, but I felt it would be rude to say that to him.
"It wasn't nice," I said. Merv kept looking at me, so I continued. "To me, it wasn't nice to me. It was nice to Andrew, which is what's wrong with Stuart. He's too nice."
Merv straightened the collar of his polo shirt. "That's the problem with Stuart?" he asked, amusement on his face.
I felt extremely tense, unable to reach the calm again. "Okay, fine, that's the great thing about Stuart, but it can be a fucking pain sometimes."
"You sure you don't want a drink?" Merv asked me, one eyebrow raised.
I blinked, glancing at the table again. I caught sight of Andrew in the sitting room, and even though he didn't see me it made me twitch. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad this time. Maybe I could trust myself this time. Maybe Sally was right about being careless. And maybe I didn't care. I nodded and went to pour myself a vodka and coke.
Two hours later I was drunk, and giggly, standing in the garden with Emily and what's-her-name (who, it turned out, was actually called Vanessa). We were outside with a couple of boys who I'd never really paid much attention to before, but Vanessa and Emily seemed to be paying them a considerable amount. They were called Alex and Chris, I thought, something standard along those lines.
Alex, a fairly attractive guy – I'd give him credit for that, appeared to be attempting to flirt with me. I say attempting because I was really too drunk to notice and thus was making the job sort of difficult. This wasn't because I couldn't flirt when I was drunk (unfortunately Stuart knew some horrific stories about my drunken flirt tactics – often involving thumb wars for some reason), but tonight I couldn't have cared less how amazing Alex was.
I wavered on my feet and grabbed out to steady myself, accidentally choosing Alex's shoulder. This action he tragically took as a sign I might like him, attempting to wrap his arm around me. I didn't try very hard to shrug him off.
Apparently though, I didn't need to. Andrew was out of the house in seconds.
"You all right there, Kit?" he asked me. I didn't know why he'd expect me to respond any differently to him than I'd been doing since he'd appeared at Sally's funeral.
"I'm fine," I told him coldly, even though it would have been a good opportunity to shake Alex off me.
As I tripped over my own feet though, Andrew winced and said, "I don't think you are, Kit."
"I'm fine," I said again, but this time Alex removed his arm from around me and I nearly toppled.
I thought I saw Andrew roll his eyes, but I couldn't be sure. He took my arm and tried to lead me back into the house. Since I didn't want to make a scene in front of Emily, which she would inevitably tell everyone about, I let him.
I heard her though, as we neared the door, her high-pitched voice squealing, "I knew they'd be back together soon!"
"Let go of me Andrew." I attempted to wriggle myself out of his hold, but to no avail. It wasn't even like the boy was completely sober himself.
"Come on, Kit, I'm taking you outside," he said sweetly, leading me through the house.
"I just was outside. This isn't funny, let me go," I protested. Unsurprisingly my words were ignored yet again.
I saw Andrew catch Stuart's eye across the room, sending him a silent message. Despite our argument, Stuart looked concerned. Andrew waved his hand about mildly, as if to tell my cousin not to worry and continued walking, leading me out of the front door of the house.
"You could rape me outside alone. How do I know that's not your plan?" Okay, I was definitely drunk if that was the line I was coming out with.
"Yes, Kit, that's exactly my plan. I mean, I thought I'd just not sleep with you the entire time we were going out, which included many drunken occasions, and instead I'd rape you two years after we broke up. I'm appalled it took you this long to figure it out." I cannot even describe how sarcastic Andrew was being.
"Oh, fuck off, Andrew," I told him harshly, removing myself from his grip and walking ahead.
He laughed, which wasn't exactly the response I wanted. "You know this funny thing you do when you're drunk, Kit?" he asked, not wanting me to answer. "You get with the wrong people."
"I must have been drunk our entire relationship then," I threw back at him, traipsing across Vanessa's front garden.
Andrew chose not to listen to my comment, going on, "And then you wake up the next morning and you regret it."
"Don't you dare talk to me about the way I behave, Andrew. Do you really want to get into that conversation?" I kept walking, tripping down the road. Andrew stayed close, a few steps behind me. "Besides that, you have no right anymore. You don't know me."
"I know you better than you think, Kit."
"So you keep trying to prove." I stumbled, sliding off the pavement and onto the road. I tried to pretend it was on purpose.
"You're such a drunk." Apparently I didn't succeed.
The comment stung, because I'd stopped this. For a year, I hadn't got drunk. And Andrew was absolutely right, though I wouldn't have admitted it out loud. I did get with the wrong people when I was drunk, and I did regret it afterwards. That was why I'd stopped, so I wouldn't keep getting with inappropriate guys. It wasn't meant to be permanent, just until I could trust myself better. I just hadn't considered whether or not I could yet.
"Fuck off," I said half-heartedly, coming to a stop.
Andrew glanced around us. "What?"
"I like this wall," I said. It wasn't anything, only a wall that followed down the path towards a beach. I wasn't interested in the beach, just the wall and the view. I seated myself on it, minding some broken glass.
"I know something you like better," Andrew commented.
"It's not you," I responded, as he sat down beside me and I inched a few feet away from him.
"No, a place," he said. I looked up, mildly interested now. "Ah, you'll have to wait, Kitkat."
I pulled my knees up to my chest. "You know, I don't care. I know what I like."
Andrew glanced sideways at me. "Evidently not."
"Oh, fuck off, Andrew," I swore at the boy for the third time in ten minutes, throwing my legs forward and attempting to stand up.
He grabbed my arm, softly, pulling me back down. "You know, Kit," he said, "You can be nasty and aggressive and try to get back at me all you want, but I'm going to be here. I'm going to make sure you're okay, no matter what you do or say."
"Believable words from a boy who disappeared for two years," I mocked. Andrew edged himself a couple of inches closer to me on the wall, and I ignored it. "I don't need you here, Andrew. This may be news to you, but I grew up. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I do not need you or any other passing boy to try to do it for me."
With the help of the light from a nearby house I could see Andrew's expression soften. "I'm not just any passing boy, Kitkat. I'm the boy, and you know it." I succeeded in standing this time, traipsing away down towards the beach even as Andrew continued talking. "So let me help you when I want to."
He wasn't the boy. Not now at least.
Maybe two years ago he was the right boy for some stupid sixteen-year-old girl who didn't know any better. I knew better now, and I thought he should too. He could find another girl, fix his relationship flaws and have something functional, something happy. But he couldn't have it with me. As for me, it felt like Andrew had ruined me, and all it had taken him was one night.
One night two years ago and my ability to have a functional relationship was ruined.
I blinked, tears springing to my eyes. I was emotional, but not about Andrew, not possibly about him. It was Sally - the grieving period had been making me cry about anything at any time. And the alcohol – the alcohol didn't help.
"When you want to?" I said now, turning to face him. He was following me, at a vague distance. "When it suits you, Andrew? Wouldn't help be better when someone needs it?"
Andrew was prepared, answering, "I thought your point was that you didn't need help." I gave him credit for that one.
I spun back around quickly and tripped on the cobbled trail. Shutting my eyes, I took a deep breath from the ground. It wasn't funny like it had been so many other drunken times, discovering unfamiliar bruises the next day, but it didn't sting too badly. Andrew's hand was already out, offering assistance, when I opened my eyes. When I attempted to pull myself up on my own, Andrew took my arm to help me anyway.
He was helping me when I didn't need it.
God, he'd got lucky on how quickly he'd been able to prove that.
Andrew started walking us back towards Vanessa's house, holding my elbow while I tried to tug it away. "You know, I changed my hair," Andrew said, ignoring my attempts to remove myself from him. "It'd be nice if you said something about it."
I had noticed, but it was Andrew so I didn't care. The cut was shaggier now, like he was making less effort with it, although from Andrew's comment clearly that was just how it was meant to look.
"Yeah, well it'd also be nice if you didn't do some of the things you do, Andrew," I told him.
"Did, Kit," he said.
"Some of the things I did. I don't do them anymore, Kit," he spoke concisely.
"Once a -" I started.
"Don't say it," Andrew said, and he sounded so serious that I didn't continue my words, shut up as I tripped again on a stray can of coke. Fortunately, though I wouldn't admit it, Andrew was there to hold me up this time.
As we arrived back at Vanessa's house, Andrew ushered Stuart over to the front door with his hand. It was a fairly impressive manoeuvre, being so subtle as it was. Stuart arrived next to us quickly.
"Keys?" Andrew requested, grinning innocently.
"What are you going to do to my little cousin if I give you the keys?" Stuart asked sceptically, pulling the car keys out of his pocket anyway.
I gave Andrew a soft punch in the arm for the thought.
Andrew reacted with a face at me. "Nothing!" he insisted to both us. "She's just a bit wasted, and I thought she might want to avoid making scene, and she won't sit still outside."
"I'm not a dog, Andrew," I informed him pointedly, slurring unfortunately, and gave him a slight shove.
Andrew raised his eyebrows at my words.
Stuart's eyes darted between the two of us. He cocked his head to the side for a second and said, "Sure."
"Stuart!" I reached out for my cousin's arm, having long since forgotten about my silent treatment. "You can't leave me with him," I whispered a bit loudly, not really caring.
Stuart sighed, his entire body shifting and then falling back into place. He'd known my anger with him wasn't going to last long and he wasn't the type to hold a grudge, so why was he doing this? "Kit, he's really not so bad."
"He really is," I said, knowing full well that Andrew was within earshot of this conversation.
"You saw something in him once," Stuart pointed out.
"I was young! And stupid! And he was extremely convincing that he was something he wasn't." I was becoming semi-nonsensical but I didn't notice enough to care.
Stuart shook his head at me. "Maybe he's getting even more convincing now." He gave me a little push back towards Andrew. I made a face at my cousin and went, grabbing the car keys out of the boy's hand and walking ahead of him.
"I'm in a bad mood now," I told Andrew, only because there was no one else to listen.
Andrew caught up with me, swinging an arm around my shoulder. It was repulsive and I tried to shrug him off, but couldn't. "I couldn't possibly tell," Andrew commented. He sneaked the keys out of my hand while I wasn't paying attention, dangling them loosely at my side.
"That's right, piss me off more by stealing the keys, Andrew. That'll help you win me back." I shook my head at the boy.
Andrew grinned. "How's that going for me by the way? Am I close?"
I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, in the same way the sun is close to the earth."
Andrew perked up. "Well, relative to what?" he asked. "'Cause that's not bad, considering it could be the sun and Pluto."
I glared at him as we reached the car, going around to the passenger seat and waiting for him to open the doors. "Pluto's not even a planet anymore, Andrew."
He gave me an odd look, chewing on his lower lip. "It never was, Kit."
"What?" I said, bending my head forward in a bothered way. I was still waiting for him to unlock the car doors.
"It never was," he repeated. "It's not as though it changed into a planet and then changed back. It never was a planet. They were just mistaken."
I kept staring at him, pursing my lips, but I didn't have a response.
Andrew's head tilted to the side while he looked me, his expression soft. "It's not a you mistake, Kit."
I shut my eyes for a brief moment. "Can you just open the doors, Andrew?" I requested.
Andrew grinned cheekily. "Only if you get in the backseat," he said.
I blew some air out of my lips frustrated. "Oh, like I'm going to get in a backseat with you, Andrew Wallace."
He chuckled. "Come on, Kit. I won't try anything, promise." He mimed putting his hands securely in his pockets, smiling at me.
I shook my head at him, but couldn't help a grin, though I told myself it was only the alcohol, climbing into the backseat anyway. Purposely I kept a significant amount of space between us, shoving Andrew to one side of the car and pressing myself against the door on the other side. The boy smirked at me but said nothing of it.
"You know, Kit, if people like major planet scientists can make mistakes like that, don't you think we could too?" he suggested.
I knew he was making a point, in an Andrew way, but I had something bigger to focus on. "By major planet scientists, do you possibly mean astronomers, Andrew?"
Andrew considered this. "It's definitely a possibility, yes," he responded.
"Thought so." I slipped my shoes off and pulled my feet up under me on the seat.
"Oh who's coming on to whom now?" Andrew asked, raising his eyebrows at me. I stared at him, unimpressed. "You're practically stripping off in front of me."
"I took my shoes off," I said, knowing full well what Andrew was doing.
"Exactly," Andrew said. He attempted to shift closer to me on the seat but I pointed my finger at him until he moved back. His hands were clasped together thoughtfully and his lower lip sucked in, and he didn't look at me for a few seconds. "So don't you think that's possible?"
I was distracted. "What?"
"Us making mistakes?" He was back on that again.
"We all make mistakes, Andrew," I said. "You make mightily worse ones obviously."
Andrew smiled slightly at me. "So it's conceivable you've made a mistake about me, maybe?" he suggested.
I blinked at him. "Maybe not."
A/N: Feel I brought out this chapter quite quickly, so I'm excited. I really shouldn't be writing at the moment 'cause I'm meant to have loads of work, but whatever. Anyway, thank you very much for the reviews for the last chapter, and I hope you enjoyed this one.
Thanks to: PolkadotGumboots, Shojogurl, Professional scatterbrain, FamousOneLiners