Clive crossed his arms and looked at me. No, scrape that. He crossed his arms and glared at me.
"So, are you going or not?"
"Let's look at it this way, if you don't go, I'll take all your naked baby pictures and give them to Steve Johnson and ask him to put it in the school magazine."
"You are aware that considering the fact that we are twins, plus the fact that our parents are totally crazy over the twins thing, every single 'naked baby picture' of me include naked baby you too?"
"Uh…right…how about…showing the entire world your diary?"
"Right, bro. I'm sure I keep a diary." Actually, I do, but he didn't have to know that, right?
"Ok, fine…you win. Tell you what. Settle the problem for me, and I'll treat you to ice cream. Anything you want. Deal?"
He was my twin brother alright, he just knew how to tweak my weaknesses to his advantage. Ice cream…ahh…yummy yummy…
"Deal." Let's see, cookies and cream, double chocolate, or chocolate mint? Hmm…tough choice. Waaaait. Anything I wanted right? Good. Prepare to burn a huge hole in your pocket, bro.
"Ok, good. Now get moving. Quick. And don't you dare come back if he's still pissed with me." Clive said, pushing me out of the door.
"Getting pushy, ain't we? Remind me again… Why am I always the one patching things up between the two of you whenever you fight?"
"Because, one, we are guys. It's embarrassing to like you know…do stuff like that...And most importantly, you're our go-between and most important and favourite girl. Now, shoo!"
Clive did a flapping motion with his arms before shutting the door in my face. I shrugged. Fine, be that way. Just you wait, I'll get you back for it. I'll make you pay for the entire ice cream parlour while I demolish every single tub of ice cream they have in there. Hah!
I grabbed my bike and hopped on it, cycling furiously down the street. Come on, come on, the faster I get there the faster I'll finish my job, the faster I can get home to watch my favourite Hi-5 show.
No, I'm just kidding. I wanted to finish it quickly because I wanted to go home to read my books. Yes, my romance novels. Don't you dare scoff at them, because I know you love them too.
Either way, I'm hurt. How could you actually believe that I want to rush home just to watch five people singing and dancing around the stage, and listen to them teaching me prepositions that I learnt when I was a kid? How old do you think I am? Five? Why don't you multiply that by three and then add a one to it?
My bicycle hit a bump and I nearly went flying. Nearly went flying from my bicycle, into the air, and towards the curb at the side of the road (see? I know my prepositions) which would have me bidding the world a happy goodbye. Your fault. Yes, I'm sticking out my tongue at you.
Anyway, I reached Tristan's house. I opened the gate and made my way in, leaving my bike at the side of the pathway leading to his house. I knocked on the door politely, waiting for someone to open the door for me. Two minutes later, I was still standing outside the door.
"Tristan! Open the door!" I yelled and pounded on the door. No reaction. I made my way around to the back of the house where Tristan's room was located. I could hear Linkin' Park yelling their lungs out from the speakers in Tristan's room. No wonder he couldn't hear me.
Since he couldn't hear me, I can only find another way to get his attention. Alright then. The question was, how?
I spied his open window and saw the light scatter of pebbles around me. I grinned. That's it!
I picked up a pebble and threw it at the open window with all my strength. It arched beautifully towards the window. I started cheering in my heart. Then it had to fail me and hit the wall just below the window instead. Where was Clive's basketball skill when I needed them?
I picked up another pebble and threw. And missed. I picked up another pebble and threw. And missed. Are you starting to see a pattern here? I am. I picked up another pebble and threw. And score!
The music snapped to silence in the span of one second. Cool, that must have been a world record. I could hear Tristan as he slammed something onto his table. Ow, poor table. Bad, bad Tristan. How could you treat your table like that?
"What the he—Gabrielle?" Tristan stuck his head out of the window.
"She-Gabrielle, thank you very much. I may hang out with you guys and all, and even refuse to wear skirts but yes, I think I'm still a girl. You really need glasses, my friend."
"What are you doing here?"
"What do you think? Every single time the two of you fight, I'm the one who has to mend things."
Silence elapsed. And all the time I was still standing outside his house, tilting my head so I could look at him while he spoke. It's only polite to look at the person you are talking to, you know? I have my manners, but somebody had apparently forgotten theirs.
"You know, Tristan, normal people don't actually hold conversations outside their house but more of in the comfort of their house." I said pointedly.
"Oh, sorry, go to the front, I'll open the door for you."
And so I did. He finally opened the door and I finally got to step into his house.
"No one else at home?"
"Yeah. Mum and Dad had a date, so did Alice. Everyone but me." Tristan pouted.
I laughed and shoved at him. "Right, Tristan. Why didn't you get a date? All the other girls in school are clamouring to go out with you."
"But I don't want to go out with them."
"Fussy, aren't you?"
"Yes, very." He winked while I rolled my eyes. "So…exactly why are you here again?"
"To patch things up between the two of you? I'm doing the world a good deed, you know. If the two of you don't patch things up, school's going to be one load of hell when school reopens. Because the two basketball stars will be fighting and ignoring each other, then the school will be divided into two camps then war will break out and then—"
"Shut up, Gabby. I get the point. But how exactly are you planning on patching things up?"
"How does 'I have no idea' sound?"
"Smart, Gabby, smart."
"I'm just going to play it by ear, you know, make you comfortable so that you can forgive my dear old twin and I wouldn't have to be stuck and torn between the two of you. So, what do you want to do now?"
"If you're not going to pick something, I'm going to throw your Linkin' Park CD out of the window. That's doing another good deed, considering how much noise pollution you were contributing just now…"
"I was in a bad mood, ok?"
"Sure, sure. Yes, Master. Now what can humble me do for you to make you feel happier?"
"You really want that, Master? You really, really, really sure? You really won't miss me?" I gave him the puppy eye look and was rewarded with a chuckle.
"Act your own age, Gabby."
"Now, that would be taking the fun out of everything, wouldn't it? I want to watch Teletubbies!" I squealed suddenly and pulled him towards the living room, where I plonked onto the sofa and refused to budge. "Go put on the disk, quick."
"So much for me being the master. Status reversal?" Tristan complained as he rummaged through the rack of CDs they had. "And that was really random, you know."
"Yes, I know. But since you said I was acting like a kid, I might as well follow through with my actions and be a kid watching kiddy shows. Relive my childhood and get some spirit rejuvenation at the same time."
"Right." Tristan sat down next to me and hit the "Play" button, after which the Teletubbies song promptly started.
"…Po! Teletubbies, teletubbies, say hello! Come on, Tristan, say hello!"
"Hello." He said in a dead robotic voice.
"You're no fun! Party pooper!" I stuck out my tongue at him.
"If I'm going to be sitting here and watching all this rubbish, I might as well get some food into my stomach." He stood up from the sofa, stretching.
"Hey, you can't deny that you loved Teletubbies too! You always refused to go anywhere else when Teletubbies was showing. I remember, there was this time when you refused to even leave to go to the toilet, although you were clearly very uncomfortable with a full bladder, and ended up relieving yourself on the sofa!" I chortled at the memory.
He reached over and hit my head lightly. "Hey, no laughing at other people's expense, I admit I was crazy over Teletubbies, keyword being 'was'."
"Ow! You never know…old feelings might reignite someday, Tristan." I replied, winking at him. He rolled his eyes and retreated into the kitchen, shaking his head, muttering to himself.
He came back a few moments later, and I burst out into laughter at what he was carrying. There were two small bowls of food and two small cups of drinks. The bowls and cups being the plastic kinds that you get when you're small. I was insulted.
I peeked into the cups and saw orange juice in them. I hated orange juice. He knew. Each time I was forced to drink orange juice, I'd empty it into his cup when no one was looking. Evil person, making me drink orange juice while knowing all too well how much I loathed that liquid. Talk about adding insult to injury.
"Orange juice? Tristan, are you serious? You know much I hate them. Nuh-uh, don't tell me I don't have a choice. How old are we?"
"I'm just getting into the spirit of things. Must you spoil it like this?"
"Ok, but don't you have soda in the house?"
"We do. But I'm not giving them to you. Come on, orange juice can't be all that bad."
"It is! It's foul, it's vile, it's the bane of my existence! Can't we use soda instead? Pretty please?"
"Gabby, how many times have Mummy told you that you are too small to be drinking soda?" Tristan answered back in a high-pitched voice.
"But Mummy…" I whined in a baby voice.
"Try it. Just one tiny sip, Gabby baby." Tristan continued in that voice as he handed me a cup. I reached for it and sniffed at it suspiciously. I cautiously raised the (dangerous) cup of drink to my mouth and took a sip.
"Yes, good job, darling. Now, just a little bit more and you'll be done…" Tristan trailed off as he patted my head. I rolled my eyes at him, wondering why I was still drinking the orange juice.
I emptied the last of the juice into my mouth, pulling the cup away from my mouth and shoving it at him. Tristan didn't take it, but did something very stupid instead.
You knew the movie, ET? Yes? You remember the main character of the story, the extra terrestrial being (and hence the title of the movie) ? Good. Now, search through your memory. Recall the part when ET tried to 'phone' home, close up on ET when he does that index-finger-pointing trick and freeze that image in your head. Now, imagine if ET wasn't ET but a sixteen year-old guy instead. And add on the fact that you, who is watching the whole thing, have a mouth full of orange juice. Get the situation now?
That was the situation I was stuck in.
Tristan bent down so he was at my eye level, whereby he promptly went cross-eyed and held up a hand in front of his face (with his index finger straight up), and swayed a little, saying "ET phone home" in an alien-like voice.
At the sight of him, I couldn't hold back my laughter anymore. I tried, I honestly did. But in the end, I still burst out into laughter. And this resulted in the orange juice that had previously been in my mouth flying towards another destination.
That destination was none other than Tristan's face.
I really didn't mean for it to go there. It was his own fault. His own fault for making me drink orange juice, even when he knew I hated it, his own fault for standing right in my face and making me laugh when my mouth was full of orange juice.
I maintain my stand that it is his own fault, and I would have argued further and even found evidence to substantiate my stand. But that would have to wait, because right now, Tristan was standing in front of me with (second-hand) orange juice dripping down his face.
"Tell me," he started slowly, "that you did not just spit orange juice in my face."
"Erm…if you say so. I did not just spit ora –"
"Gabby, you're in serious trouble." Tristan cut me off, an evil glint in his eyes. "Just wait till I catch you."
"Crap!" I managed to squeak before I ran for (my life) the stairs. It was the nearest thing to me, so I headed that way. Fast.
He was catching up, I could hear his footsteps pounding up the stairs behind me. He was taller, he had longer legs, he could cover more distance than I could in the same time. Not good.
Just a few more steps, come on.
I lengthened my strides and climbed the stairs two at a time. Aha! I was nearly there. Last couple of steps to freedom. I was nearly there. Happiness burst within me and I smiled.
But the next thing I knew, I was in the air. Right, this sort of things just had to happen to me. I knew it was too good to be true.
The wall loomed nearer and nearer. I started freaking out. It's funny how time seems to slow down when you're in the air, and in danger of smashing straight into a wall. My thoughts went haywire.
Crap, I'm going to crash into the wall!
No, you're not. Get a grip on yourself. Find your legs and stand.
Legs? What legs? Oh, legs. I have legs? I'm going to crash, I'm going to crash. If I die…
Shut up, you're not going to die. If you can't find your legs, then use your hands and support yourself.
Support myself against what? There's nothing in thin air. I'm crashing. If I die, tell Clive and Tristan this is all their fault, and I'm not leaving anything to them – oomf!
Somehow, I managed to push one hand against the wall, which stopped me from cracking my head open, but that resulted in my knees and my palm scraping against the floor. Great.
"Shit! Gabby, are you ok?" Tristan rushed over as I pushed myself up back into a standing position. "How the hell did you do that anyway?"
"How am I supposed to know? One second I was climbing the stairs, wishing I could go faster, the next, I was flying up the stairs."
"You scraped your knees…and your palm too." He said as he checked me for injuries. "I'll go get plasters and stuff like that. Stay here. I'm not trusting you to walk without another accident."
He walked a couple of doors down, to the toilet, before he came back. He knelt in front of me and started to clean my wounds, surprisingly gently, before sticking plasters on them.
"You don't have to do that for me, you know…"
"I know, but I can't help it if I'm a gentleman, can I? Palm." He commanded, standing up straight again.
I stuck out my hand to him. "Why are you standing up so quickly? That was the first time I could see the top of your head since a couple of years ago. I was enjoying being the tall one around for once."
"Shorty, don't complain if you can't grow tall enough."
"Hey! It's not my fault I don't have the tall genes and you're the guy! What happened to your hand?" There was a small cut just beneath his knuckle.
"Where do you think the pebble you threw into my room went?"
"Shoots. Sorry, Tristan. I didn't expect it to hit you."
"It's ok, doesn't really hurt. But you do realise something don't you?" He asked as turned to look at me, crossing his arms.
"Remember what I said just now?"
"Gabby, you're in serious trouble." Tristan cut me off, an evil glint in his eyes. "Just wait till I catch you."
Uh-oh…this was not good. I started retreating, hoping he wouldn't notice until I was in a room, behind the door that would be locked.
"Good, you remember. You do realise that your orange juice is still dripping down my face, don't you?"
Actually, I didn't, but now that he said it…He was right. I kept silent, but continued edging along the wall.
"And, where do you think you're going, Miss Gabby-you're-oh-so-dead?"
"Nowhere?" I squeaked. I seemed to be doing a lot of squeaking today, hmmm…
Tristan uncrossed his arms and placed them against the wall next to my head, successfully caging me in. Now I had nowhere to run to. Shoots. I studied the gap under his arm. Hmmm…what are the chance that I could slip through it, without him noticing? Judging by how I could feel his eyes boring holes into me, I'd say zero…so I'm left with trying to wriggle my way out of getting killed.
Tristan leaned nearer, grinning. I plastered myself onto the wall behind me. "Uh…Tristan, sorry, ok? I'll do your homework for you if you'd let me go…"
"Not working, Gabby. I still remember your ticklish spots…I wonder if I should…"
"No! uh…Tristan, you see, you're not allowed to hurt me."
"Why is that so?"
"Uh…cause I'm the peacemaker between you and Clive so yes, I'm the peacemaker. And you know, when there is war between two countries, then there'll be the victims, which will be you and Clive, because both of you are obviously hurt by the argument and getting torn apart. Then there's the medical people, like the Red Cross, who helps the victims, you know, and that would be me. And during war, no one is allowed to hurt the medical people. So, you're not allowed to hurt me."
"Where's your arm band?'
"If you'd just let me get to the first aid kit…"
"Not a chance, Gabby. As for your analogy, considering the fact that you're the one with plasters on you, you appear to be the victim more so than Clive or me." He said, his eyes filling up with…concern as he looked at me.
"It's ok, it's just scrapes. The Red Cross gets hurt in the process of helping people sometimes."
"But I don't like it when you're hurt."
"But I'm not hurt…wait…what did you just say?"
"I don't like it when you get hurt." He repeated, before he leaned in and closed his mouth over mine.
I was shocked, but it was a pleasant surprise. He was, once again, surprisingly gentle, and sweet. Sweet in both the gesture, and…the taste. I pulled away and grinned at him.
"You know something? I guess orange juice isn't that bad after all…"