Author's Note: I finally decided to stop lurking around FictionPress and just post something. Also it's SLASH, and if you don't like that well, I don't care. I didn't have to warn you. And there's alcohol drinking, too. And maybe even worse than that. We'll have to wait and see.

Chapter 1 - Bandy

My life was entangled with Alex's from the start. Although, not in a way we ever realised. We thought it was just because our lives were both intertwined with Bandela's. Bandy and I had been friends since birth. Mostly because we were born on the same day, and in spite of the fact that our parents have had some sort of vendetta against each other since before we were born. It didn't stop when it became clear that Bandy and I were going to be friends for life. But they did stop trying to pull us apart at every moment, and they stopped saying awful things about each of us in our presence. The feud was still there, but it no longer applied to us.

Before you ask: No, this isn't going to be some sordid Romeo and Juliet style tale with passion and romance and well, tragedy. For some reason, people seem to forget that Romeo and Juliet ended badly. That they were both stupid teenagers who were really obsessed with one another. Bandy and I aren't like that. We are most definitely not in love. And I really hope we don't end in tragedy, but so far, it's hard to tell.

And no, this isn't going to be one of those stories where we suddenly discover that we are, despite having grown up practically as siblings, madly in love with one another. I hate stories like that. Probably because I've known Bandy for ever and there is no way that I would ever fall in love with her. I just don't see how it could happen. How could you just start liking someone that way? I think you pretty much have to have liked them like that from the start.

And that's the way it was with Alex. He's been the love of my life since we met when I was thirteen. He's Bandy's older half brother. The illegitimate son of Bandy's father and another woman. And the reason why we'd never met before I was thirteen was because he'd always lived with his mother. A comfortable existence, I'm led to believe. After all, he hated moving here from Newcastle, but he had had to since his mum died.

From here, my life sounds like one huge soap opera. And I never even noticed until now. But there it is. It's not my fault that it's all true. And anyway, isn't everyone's life like a soap opera? With the lying and deceit and the betrayal? And there's always that one girl with two guys after her, or the guy whose parents are divorced and argue bitterly every time they see each other. I just hope that I'm not one of the bad guys in this tale. But it's not a soap opera if each character doesn't end up heartbroken at least once.

x X X x

It's a sunny day. The sun is shining (yeah, I think we got that since I already said it was sunny). The birds are singing (actually it's a kookaburra and hence, it's laughing). Mosquitoes are attacking my arm like they've been fasting all my life. That's what I call summer. The beginning of the rest of my life. It's my first summer as an eighteen-year-old. My first summer out of high school. My first summer where I am allowed to do nothing and generally behave as though I have nothing to do because I don't.

Until mum decides to ruin it by telling me that I absolutely must help her plan her Christmas party. And just like that, two weeks of my summer are gone. Because now, instead of lying by the pool with Bandy like I want to do, I am going to be stuck in a room with my mother while she ponders tablecloths and napkins, and whether it is classier to be able to get flowers that are out of season, or just to pick the ones in season that match said tablecloths and napkins.

I'll have the delightful task of being the one to drive her all over the city looking for the appropriate venue, and then holding the money while my mum swindles her way into kicking someone else's birthday party out because my mother was not clever enough to book that room months ago like the birthday girl was.

Then, inevitably, my mother will decide against that and host the party at home, despite the amount of money she used as a bribe, and now I will have to help her shift furniture because the places that tables and couches have always been are no longer appropriate when guests are coming. Huzzah. My only hope is to convince Bandy to keep me company.

We're sitting on her back porch, sipping grapefruit mojitos, Bandy's favourite. I prefer the traditional sort, but it's her house and I'm going to be asking her for a favour. We're relaxing on the back steps like the teenagers we are. Bandy's got a bikini on under her dark pink tank and white denim mini. She's shoeless of course. I am too, wearing loose white pants and a dark green shirt. Summer's the time for barefootedness. I look at her through my sunglasses as she calmly stares over the water.

"Bandy," I say to her carefully, taking a sip while she looks at me suspiciously.

"Whatever it is Caden, no." She's always been great at reading my mind.

I pout shamelessly. "You don't even know what I want yet."

"But I knew you wanted something, and that can never be good."

"What do you mean? Why can't it be good?"

"Because you're the Caden Laurence. If you can't get it by virtue of being you, I want no part in it."

"What if it was a boy?" I ask her carefully.

She raises her sunglasses and looks at me. Deciding that she cannot bear the fact that my own sunnies are completely hiding my eyes she slips them from my nose. "It's not a boy," she says finally, dropping my sunglasses onto the grass beside her.

I pout again as I reach for them, it's not that they were my favourite sunglasses or anything, it's just that they were mine. "It's my mum. She wants Christmas party planning help. From me."

Bandy's eyes light up. "Why didn't you say so? Of course I'll help. I love parties!"

And she does. But there was no way that I wanted her so excited about it when I myself was dreading it like the Ides of March. Suddenly Bandy helping out didn't seem like such a great idea.

"You know what Bandy," I say, finishing my drink. "I don't think I'm going to need your help after all."

"Nonsense," she says, standing, and wrenching my glass from my grasp. "You asked, and now I will deliver."

"But you already said no," I protest half-heartedly.

She huffs. "Everyone knows that doesn't count since I didn't know what you were asking for in the first place. I'll be at your place bright and early tomorrow to help."

I groan silently as she wanders back into the house. She probably means early too. The girl doesn't know the meaning of the phrase 'sleep in'.

It is in the moment that her back is turned that Alex chooses to exit from his wing of the house, heading straight for the pool, wearing only a loose pair of dark blue swim shorts. He's remarkably tan for the beginning of summer, but his mother was Greek or something. He probably inherited the year-round tan from her.

He spots me watching him, and gives me a nod. I wave back in the most uncool fashion possible before he drapes his towel over a deckchair and dives straight in. He doesn't even surface before he starts swimming laps. Back and forth. I'm engrossed in the way his muscles shift beneath his taut skin with each stroke. That is, until Bandy decides to push me from my perch on the steps.

I stand and glare at her with menace in my eyes. Her eyes gleam with mirth and mischief.

"What?" she asks, faux innocently.

"You know exactly what," I retort.

"Do I?" she teases. "Is it the fact that you were blatantly checking out my brother? Again."

I flush, and she hands me one of the glasses of water she's holding. I engross myself in sipping from it.

"That's a delightful shade of pink you're turning, you know," she grins. "Almost matches my top exactly."

I slip my sunglasses back onto my nose and lie back on the grass, ignoring her completely.

"Oh come on, Cade, don't pout. You've done enough of that already today."

At that moment, a shadow falls upon me, and I know it's not Bandy as she's now lying beside me.

"Pouting again?" Alex asks.

I ignore that as my embarrassment level rises and roll over onto my stomach. I know that it's not long before certain reactions will come into play if he keeps talking in that voice of his, while water droplets drip, drop by drop down his toned chest.

"Isn't he cute?" Bandy asks, pinching my cheek before I can swat her away.

"I'm not cute," I grumble.

Alex laughs, and before I know it, I'm airborne. I shriek in the most unmanly manner possible before I begin to fall. Desperately, I reach out for Alex, and he tumbles into the pool with me.

Bandy is beside herself with laughter. That's definitely not the way this was supposed to play. I resurface probably looking like a drowned cat, and I shove Alex on my way out. He too is laughing heartily.

"Oh come on," he says, grabbing for my waist and drawing me away from the wall and closer to him. I don't think he has any idea of what that does to me.

I've never asked him, but Alex is definitely straight. He's probably never even heard of a homosexual person in his life, let alone worked out that I am one. I've never been in the closet. Everyone's always known I was gay. But I've never been in a relationship either, so for all he knows I'm asexual. And he's said it, too. But I can't admit that I've had a stupid crush on him since the first time I laid eyes on him.

"It's just a bit of fun," he adds.

And because I can't kiss him senseless, I smack him on the arm, tear myself away and stride back to Bandy. She notices the expression on my face.

"What's wrong?" she asks.

"Nothing," I respond. And I'm not upset. Murder is painted on my face, actually. And she'd know that if she'd taken the time to read it properly. With that, I lift her and race toward the pool, dropping her unceremoniously beside her brother. I may be on the small side for a bloke, but I'm not weak. Besides, Bandy's a tiny little thing. I grin. "Now everything's just peachy."

"Bitch!" she shrieks at me before pulling at my ankle and yanking me in with her.

I splutter like the last time I fell into the pool before Bandy shrieks.

"Oh my garters! Where the hell are my sunnies?"

Alex laughs at her expression. "I'm never going to get used to you saying that."

I don't laugh. Bandy's been using that phrase for so long that I'm immune. I've never quite understood it, since she never wears garters, and started using it before she even knew what garters were. I didn't laugh because I knew I had to get out of that pool before she killed me over her five hundred dollar sunglasses.

She was splashing around and duck diving in her search as I inched away. Finally, Alex pulled them from somewhere in one swoop of his arm. "Relax Bands, I've found them."

She snatches them from him quickly, inspecting them. She shrieks. "They're ruined. Caden Laurence I am going to kill you for this!" I rush away hurriedly, headed for the ladder on the opposite side of the pool.

Alex rushes between us. "Relax," he says. "They're just sunglasses."

"Five hundred dollar sunglasses!"

Alex looks at her strangely. "Why would you spend so much money on sunglasses? Don't you wear them everywhere?"

"Not that pair. They're my 'at home' sunnies. I don't go anywhere near the water in them."

Alex shakes his head. "You spent five hundred dollars on sunglasses that no one's ever going to see?"

"Why not?" she asks. Why not indeed. I spent like four hundred on mine. Speaking of which…

"Hey! Where are mine?" I turn on Alex. "I was wearing them when you threw me in, jerk!"

"Whoa," he says, trying to placate me as I approach him. "They're just sunglasses, no need to murder anyone."

"And why not?" Bandy asks, approaching Alex.

"Gees, chill already. I'll buy you some new ones." He looks between us. "Both of you."

Bandy is immediately placated. "I needed new ones anyway, those are so last season."

I nod in agreement. "I know. I'm not even sure if I bought them last year or the year before that."

"Alex is right," Bandy adds. "We do need to be more fashionable at home."

"What?" Alex protests. "I never said that."

He didn't. But I can't help but goad him. "Yeah you did," I agree with Bandy.

"No I didn't," he growls, and starts splashing Bandy.

I personally feel that it's a bit pointless to splash someone who's already wet. But it definitely is difficult to get a word in edgewise when there's chlorinated water flying into your mouth. It was a long time before any of us left the pool that afternoon. Sure, we were behaving like kids, but legal adulthood means nothing to the privileged few who, like Peter Pan, never have to grow up.

x X X x

A/N: If I'm being too verbose I will blame it on the fact that I've been doing Script Frenzy for the past couple of weeks and therefore have been restricted in the number of words I can use to describe things, but not in the number of words people are speaking of. It will probably improve as things go on… but I learnt the word verbose years ago from an English teacher who thought I was. So chances are it won't be too much better. Especially judging by this note.