Dropping onto the arcade's bright red bar behind her, Lily panted heavily, her legs feeling as if they would collapse right under her. For the past four hours she'd been competing in a DDR tournament at an arcade and this had been the final round. She and the girl she'd gone against watched the scores on the screen lazily come to a stop. They were both AA's, but that didn't matter. Lily had scored higher and was quickly declared the winner. She shook her opponents hand and muttered things about it being close before stepping down from the pad, slowly walking to the table her water bottle was sitting on.
She received a few congratulations on her way and she nodded, grabbing up her drink and downing what was left. It was no longer cold and not very refreshing, but better than nothing. Taking a seat, she looked around to see that the boys were still going at it. The mini-tournament had been 5 dollars to participate and 2 dollars to watch; the top boy and girl were sent on to an actual couples tournament. She'd be going to New York City with her partner. Not very far away from New Jersey, but she'd still never been.
Standing up, she made her way over to the other arcade machine where the boys were finishing up. It was the final song of the final round and nearly done at that. Not many people were still at the tiny arcade hosting it; most had been either defeated or grown bored and left. Those that were still there were crowded behind the two boys. Unfortunately, one of the two going against each other was Brendan, her ex-boyfriend.
Their history was... Complicated. To say the least.
The boy going against him was someone she recognized as an otaku from various arcades she used to go to. Lily hoped he would win. The song ended and it was obvious who'd gotten the higher score, much to Lily's dismay. Great. Her first trip to New York and she was going to be irritated the whole time. At least with the otaku she would've had something to talk about.
Brendan stepped down from the dance pad and was immediately surrounded by girls congratulating him, hopping up and down. Lily thought they looked like puppies, kind of, and smiled at the thought. She wasn't sure if she was disgusted or jealous, but as soon as he began to talk to them, flashing them that killer smile that had worked so well on her, she decided she was definitely disgusted. He slipped out of their grasp and turned, his eyes suddenly locking with hers. It was the same color that she used to stare into every night, when everything was perfect, nothing bad would ever happen.
A shiver went down her spine and she broke eye contact quickly, glancing down at her shoes. She wanted to get out of there, but she had to wait until Raymond, the owner of the arcade, came and talked to her about what she was to do now. A quick break outside wouldn't do any harm, though. Turning around, she headed out the door and leaned against the outer wall, letting out a breath she didn't even realize she'd been holding. She was going to new York for a couples tournament with HIM. How fucking wonderful. Thousands of people that play DDR and she gets matched up with her only ex-boyfriend.
Wrapping her arms around herself, she suddenly noticed how cold it had gotten since she had first came. Christmas had just passed and New Year's was coming up, so she was on break from school. A light snow was currently coming down and she looked up at the dark sky. The door opened behind her and she ignored it, assuming it was just someone leaving. Deciding she should head back inside to talk to Raymond, she turned around and froze when her eyes fell upon a chest. Definitely male. Slowly, she looked up to find Brendan's eyes staring down at her, hair partially falling in his eyes. She shivered again, this time not from the cold. How did he STILL do that to her? It wasn't fair.
Just then she noticed her hoodie in his outstretched hand and she snatched it away from him,"What?"
"You shouldn't be out here without a jacket." He said quietly.
Lily spoke not a word, simply pulling the sweater over her head and appreciating its warmth. She stopped when she noticed him just staring at her and raised an eyebrow.
"How have you been?" He asked suddenly, shoving his hands into his pockets.
"Like you really care. Look, I know we're going to have to work together and all that crap, but I'm perfectly content ignoring you and reading the whole time we're in New York. I don't need us to be you know, friends or anything." Lily stated, crossing her arms over her chest.
"I know you are. I'm not just doing this to have someone to talk to on the trip. I want to make things right between us. I want to be your friend still, even if we did break up. I told you that then and I still mean it now." He replied softly, looking into her eyes. He looked... Vulnerable... almost.
She took a minute, realizing her mouth had gone nearly dry and swallowed. Glancing at the door, she noticed a few people leaving the arcade, staring at them. She looked back up at him, "Look, Brendan. I can't be friends with someone who's lied to me and broken my heart. It just doesn't work." Lily muttered before stepping around him and going back inside, seeking out Raymond.
She found him talking to the last few people that were still inside while shutting down the arcade machines. Waiting for them to leave, she approached him, trying her best to smile. He noticed the struggle and sighed softly.
"I'm sorry. I know you guys have history, but you both won. I can't just change the rules or anything." Raymond said, going behind his counter and pulling out some papers. Shuffling through them, he pulled out a packet and held it out, "Unless you want to forfeit and let the runner up take your place."
"I'm not letting him scare me away." Lily snatched them out of his fingers, huffing to herself.
"Okay, fill out the necessaries, mail it in quickly, and you're in."
She nodded before turning on her heel (almost into Brendan again), growling in frustration and stepping around him once more, nearly running back outside. She was going to have to stay as far away from him as possible until the tournament. Maybe then she wouldn't kill him and lose a partner. Once she got out there, she noticed what had been a soft snow falling down was now more like sleet, coming down in cold sheets. Digging her cell phone from her pocket, she scrolled down to Wayne's number and hit the call button, holding it up to her ear. Straight to voice-mail. Great. He promised to pick her up afterwards and then turned off his phone. She was not looking forward to this walk home.
Pulling her hood up over her head for maximum (no) warmth, Lily pushed her hands into her pockets and began the long trek home. She sure as hell wasn't going to ask Brendan for a ride and Raymond didn't currently have a car. After ten minutes of walking, her legs and face were numb and she really wished that she had her mp3 player to distract her from the cold. She was only a mile or so from her house, so she probably would make it before she froze to death. Hopefully. Although... New Jersey winters were never nice.
A car full of teenagers drove by, honking their horn and laughing out the window. Lily cried out in surprise, slipping and falling back onto the snow-covered sidewalk, which immediately soaked her from her bottom down to her feet. Clenching her teeth, Lily climbed to her feet and wiped off the ice that clung to her body, cursing to herself. Shoving her nearly frozen hands into her pockets, she began to walk again, keeping her face down, trying to avoid the bitter wind.
She heard another car approaching, at a slower speed and prayed it wasn't a cop. It slowed down even more and was soon traveling at her speed. Great. She was freezing her ass off and some guy was going to hit on her.
"Lily?" Came a voice. She whipped her head around to see Brendan staring at her from the driver's seat of his truck, the passenger's window rolled down. She stopped, as did he, getting out of the truck and rushing over to her.
"What are you doing out here?" He asked, looking down at her. Her skin was pale, even for her, and her lips were beginning to turn blue. Her pants looked almost frozen from the waist down and she was shivering.
"What does it look like, genius? I'm walking home." How she was managing sarcasm through chattering teeth, she had no idea. But then again, Brendan always brought out the best in her. Insult-wise.
"Are you insane?! It's like 5 below freezing right now! Get in my truck, I'm taking you home." It wasn't a request, it was an order.
Lily glared at him and promptly turned around, continuing her journey home, "Fuck you."
Brendan's eyes narrowed and he caught up to her easily, sweeping her up into his arms. She cried out and tried to get down, but he kept her in his arms effortlessly. Lily was lighter than he remembered and he was surprised. Why would she have lost weight? She wasn't at all overweight to begin with...
Opening the passenger door to his truck, he dropped her onto the seat and shut it, knowing fully well that she wouldn't turn down a warm car when she was pushed into it.
He got in on his side and strapped in, putting his truck back in drive and turned down the radio that was currently on the only rock station they had left in their area, "Still live in the same house?"
"Yes." Lily growled, holding her fingers up to the vent which was currently spitting out warm air. She was finally beginning to feel them again. A moment of silence passed between them.
"Why were you walking home?"
"Because Wayne didn't pick up his phone and my parents would be super pissed if I called them at this hour." She sighed, leaning back against the seat, wanting to take off her hoodie and really warm up, but not in front of him.
"That was a very stupid idea. You could've been hit by a car, kidnapped, raped-"
Lily flinched noticeably at the last word and she quickly turned her whole body to stare out the window, pulling her knees to her chest. Neither of them said a word. After a minute, Lily realized he wasn't heading toward her house.
"Um, where are you taking me?" She questioned, turning to face him.
"I'm gonna get you some coffee or something from a gas station. You need something warm in you." Brendan pulled into a well-lit gas station and parked, leaving the car on and the heat running for her as he slipped out, going inside. He didn't even wait for a reply from her.
Lily contemplated taking his truck and leaving, but she didn't have her license on her, or the proper insurance if she were to get pulled over. Her rational brain ruined all the fun. Brendan returned quickly, holding two cups of steaming liquid. Getting in, he handed one to her, "It's hot chocolate. I know you hate coffee," He muttered, taking a sip of his before beginning to drive again.
She said nothing and only drank the warm beverage, noting how the heat felt deliciously wonderful on her frozen throat. Lily stared out the window once more, wondering how she should feel at that moment. He was taking her home, but he had forced her to accept the ride. And now he'd even gotten her something warm to drink. So, he was being a nice asshole.
"So you and Wayne are dating now?" Brendan asked suddenly, cutting through the silence like a knife, making Lily lower her head.
"I guess you could call it that, yeah." She shrugged, taking another sip of her drink.
"How did that happen?"
"I was at a friend's party a while ago, as was he. He asked me out, I had no reason to say no, so I accepted," Lily replied nonchalantly.
"Did you like him?" Brendan questioned after a minute.
"Then why date him?"
"Why do you care so much?"
He sighed softly, avoiding her gaze as they stopped at a red light, "I just... I thought that I'd be okay with it if you liked him. Then it wouldn't matter, cause it's what you want to do, and not just him."
"Why the hell would it matter if you were okay with us going out or not? You have no say on who I date." Lily growled, glaring heavily at him.
"It's not about WHO you date. Well, it kind of is as well, but that's not what I have such a problem with," Brendan muttered.
"Then what the hell are you talking about?" Lily raised an eyebrow.
"Are you having sex with him?" He asked suddenly, turning to look at her. She merely stared, her eyes shocked, "Well??"
"I... That's none of your business!" Lily stammered, turning away from him and folding her arms over her chest.
Anger and jealousy flared up in him and he pulled to the side of the road, putting his truck in park and removed his seat belt. Lily turned to see what he was doing and he moved closer, looking deep into her eyes, "I can't believe you would do that. Do you know how many girls he's slept with? Hell, he sleeps with? Is that what you want to be, Lily? Another notch in his belt?"
Her eyes stung with tears and she looked away. She wouldn't let him see her cry again. It didn't work last time and it wouldn't do anything now, "Why does it matter? Isn't that what girls are for? Isn't that what I was to you?!"
Brendan's eyes became dark, "Don't ever say that. I loved you, Lily. I'm sorry things didn't work out, but that doesn't mean you have to degrade yourself. You have to break up with him."
Lily sat up straight, glaring hard at him, "I don't HAVE to do anything. Especially something that you-"
"Dammit, Lily!" He cried out, hitting his dashboard and making her jump slightly, "Can't you see he's changing you? The old Lily would never have dated him, or even held a conversation with him."
"Why do you care so much, Brendan? Are you trying to redeem yourself of breaking my heart? Making yourself feel better? Look, it's not going to work, you don't have to do anything for me. I'm over you, I'm okay now. So just leave me alone." Lily stated, flinging open the door and sliding out, slamming it behind her.
Shoving her hands in her pockets, she hurried forward before he could react, the cold hitting her like needles digging into her exposed flesh. The wind had picked up while she'd been in his truck, but there was no way in hell she'd be getting back in there again.
All the while, her thoughts were racing. He knew about Wayne and her. He knew about their 'physical' relationship and he thought she'd do that willingly? No, she couldn't think about that now.
Suddenly Brendan's truck passed by her and she froze. More than a part of her had been hoping he'd come after her, she guessed. Almost without warning, she fell to her knees and the tears came. All he wanted was to make himself feel better, he didn't care about her. But was this really a surprise? No, she thought bitterly. Men were only there to cause girls pain.
The bass was way too loud, the whole room was shaking and she couldn't think. He was pushing her back onto the bed, his hands sliding up her shirt, assuming he already had permission. She kept trying to say no, but he wasn't listening and he kept covering her mouth with his, kissing her too hard, doing everything too hard.
She fell to her knees, her fingers entangling themselves into her hair and pulling. Hard. Don't think about it, don't think about it, don't think about it...
He had her skirt pushed up and he was pulling her underwear off, his movements clumsy and uncoordinated, too drunk to care about anything else at the moment. When she heard the 'zip' of his pants, she knew what was about to happen and it seemed as if time slowed, she was clawing at his back, his shoulders, anything she could reach from beneath him, but he seemed to ignore it.
She hissed, shaking her head and trying to force these images out of her head. Why here, why right now?
Before she knew it, he was stabbing into her, hard, fast and not letting up. She was crying, screaming into his ear to stop it. It must've only lasted a few minutes, but it felt like hours. When he finished, crudely on her thigh, he stared down at her and smiled sweetly, his eyes void of any emotion. He got off of her and pulled up his pants, stumbling back out into the party as if nothing ever happened.
Suddenly, Lily became aware that Brendan was there, holding her close. And for a moment, she wasn't afraid of him, afraid of... Touching.
"It's okay. Shh..." Brendan murmured, scooping her up into his arms and heading toward his car. He'd passed her and pulled off to the side once more, getting out to find her on her knees in the road, visibly shaking. Opening the passenger door, he gently placed her on the seat. Quickly, he went around to his side and climbed in, moving closer to her and pulling her against him once again. Her entire body was shaking.
She continued to cry quietly, gradually calming down, although still suffering from the cold. After a while she quieted, slowly relaxing against him, "I thought you just left me there."
"I'd never do that to you, or anyone for that matter. But especially not you." He whispered, holding her tightly, trying to stop the shaking. Reaching up, he touched her forehead, immediately pulling away, "Oh God, Lily, you're burning up."
"It's so cold..." She managed, pulling her legs up against her chest.
"We've got to get you warmed up. I'll take you to my place, you can take a hot shower. A bath would probably be better, though." Brendan shifted, putting his truck into gear and hurrying toward his apartment.
"No, I'll be okay. Just take me home." Lily tried weakly, but he quickly shot her a look.
"No one's at my apartment to wake up and I'll take you home as soon as you're warm again."
Lily knew that was that and honestly didn't care at the time. He'd come back for her and saved her. It was like he actually cared about her and he was actually acting like it. It had been such a long time since anyone had cared, she didn't mind spending a few more hours with him, even if he was only acting. She laid back against his shoulder, inhaling his familiar scent. For a moment, she was comfortable.
She must've fallen asleep because the next thing she knew, Brendan was pulling her up into his arms, cradling her as he carried her into his apartment. He set her down on his couch when they got inside and disappeared down the hallway. She heard the water begin to run and she assumed he'd started her bath.
Brendan came back, taking her hand and leading her to his bathroom, "I'll get you a towel and just put your clothes outside the door so I can run them through the dryer for you." He slipped out the door and she sighed, sliding off her hoodie. Her fingers were still numb and she struggled with the top button on her pants, growing frustrated. He came back in holding a towel and was surprised to see her already undressing, his face growing hot, "I uh, I got you the towel, so just put your clothes out when you're done." He managed, turning to walk out.
"Brendan? Will you help me with this? My fingers won't cooperate." Lily suddenly requested, sounding annoyed and exhausted.
"Oh uh... Yeah, sure." He stammered, turning back around to face her. He took a step closer, gently moving her frozen hands aside. Both flustered and slightly embarrassed, it took him a few tries to get it done, the back of his hand brushing against her abdomen when he was finished and he stopped suddenly. Her skin was so cold. His eyes locked with hers and his breath caught in his throat.
"You're warm..." She whispered, moving closer to him, her chest brushing against his.
She tilted her head up, taking yet another step, her face coming closer and closer to his. It took every fiber in his being to step back, looking away, "You should really get in there."
In a flash he was gone and she was left standing there, tears in her eyes as she furiously blinked them back.
AN: That's the end of this chapter. So, do you like it better? Like it worse? Like it but you've never read the first one? Tell me, please!