D A M A G E - C O N T R O L

a – s h o r t – s t o r y – b y – m a d f o r f i g s – ( 2 0 0 8 – 7 – 1 3 )

One likes two. Two is going out with three, but actually likes one. Then one pulls four into the picture by making four help one make two jealous. Sound simple? Ask five.


.o1. The Hamiltonian Leech


I laid down on the grass, looking up at the clear blue sky. I loved the downtime I had in between my English Composition course and economics course. It was just me, myself and nature.

Oh, and the infamous Jarred Davenport at my side.

As I watched the sky, he laid next to me twirling his lacrosse stick and a ball. Twice a week, we laid here between classes, basking in the sun. Jarred never went anywhere without his stick since lacrosse was his entire life. He had told me that he had only gotten into college on a sports scholarship, forcing him to ensure academic stability.

That was actually how we first became friends. Way back in Calculus One, he was in my class and was seated next to me. After the first test, he had come to me for help in tutoring. In return, he helped teach me lacrosse, which was a sport I had always wished to pick up on.

A high pitched scream suddenly rang through the air as I inwardly cringed. Without looking, I could instantly tell who it was – Elena Hamilton.

Elena, Jarred and I were all in our last year as undergraduates. I was never really close with her though. But at the beginning of last year, she had sought me out to help her get together with Jarred.

I was wary at first, as was my other best friend Dale Montgomery. I tried to steer clear of her, but my attempts proved futile. Elena was in my Spanish 301 class at that time, making her completely unavoidable.

Eventually, I relented and gave in to her. Within a two month span of goading and shoving, I managed to get them together. Jarred proved to be a difficult person, refusing to even talk with her. Eventually he yielded and their relationship snowballed from that point. Now, I completely regretted doing so.

For one thing, I didn't even like Elena that much. We were never friends, just mere acquaintances. Second, she was always butting into everything Dale and I were doing. I understood her desire to be accepted by two of his closest girl friends. But there was always that one point when enough was enough.

Last but not least, I've actually liked Jarred ever since the moment I laid eyes on him. Our friendship quickly developed to outside of the classroom and eventually, I found myself nursing a crush on him as he was out partying with his 'flavors of the week'. Yet ultimately, I set him up with another girl while I was still head over heels for him. I never really understood the logic behind it, but that didn't matter anymore.

He had Elena; no regrets.

Dale nearly strangled me when I had told her at the end of last school year, a full seven months after they had gotten together. She was ready to tell Jarred everything, but luckily I had blackmail to threaten her with.

She wasn't so psyched about talking to Jarred after that.

I looked towards the two and surprise, they were holding onto each other for dear life, or at least it seemed like only Elena was. Jarred's hand was actually still holding onto his lacrosse stick as he kissed her back, an action clearly depicting a lack of attentiveness.

I cocked an eyebrow before turning back to the clouds. Elena always interrupted mine and Jarred's downtime for 'quality bonding' as she liked to call it. I knew her next class was on the opposite side of campus from where we currently were. If I didn't know better, I'd say she was overly clingy.

I sat up, checking my watch. There were still fifteen minutes before I had to get to my next class. Unfortunately it was only ten feet away, hence the reason why we had chosen this spot in the first place. Jarred and I both had the same class, so my ditching him wouldn't fly by him so well. But before I could even move, a bag suddenly landed on my feet as I screamed in shock.

Looking around for the culprit, I immediately saw the grinning man himself. Dark brown hair hid his laughing brown eyes as he slung an arm across my shoulders.

"Hey Zack." I smiled, leaning into his embrace. Don't get me wrong; Zack and I have always had a close relationship, but it was strictly platonic. I had to admit though, that he was drop-dead gorgeous… beautiful in the least. He was bi-racial (Korean and Caucasian) and proud of it. It also didn't hurt that he was an absolute sweetheart.

Simply put, he was adored.

"Lauren, my favorite girl." He said, leaning back on his spare arm. "How are you on this beautiful day?"

"Absolutely wonderful. Seeing you always makes my life worth living." I replied jokingly, punching him on the shoulder lightly. His laughter rang out as he shook his head, his hair swaying gracefully with his actions.

We both fell into a comfortable silence until Zack let out an 'attractive' snort. "How long have they been at it?" he asked, tilting his head towards Jarred and Elena. By now, Jarred looked ready to pull away, but she was still desperately pulling him closer.

God, I had to feel bad for him.

"Who knows. Five minutes give or take?" I shrugged. "I've lost count."

Zack sighed, tilting his head backwards. "I don't know why you're sitting around pining for him. It doesn't seem like he'll come towards the light anytime soon. No offense." He added hastily.

The problem was that I knew he was one hundred percent correct. I had told Zack before Dale about my predicament and he had offered to beat him up for me. But now, hoping was getting useless. It was college; why the hell was I wasting it to pine over one unattainable guy?

Because I was completely infatuated with him.

"Hey, hey Delmar. Don't zone out on me now." I perked up again, realizing that Zack was waving his hand in front of my face, attempting to catch my attention. I apologized as he brushed it off quickly. "Don't apologize. We all know who you were thinking about." He smirked, his eyes quickly dashing towards Jarred before landing on me again.

I stuck my tongue out at him, basically proving that he was actually right. "Zack!" We both looked up to see Jarred standing in front of us. I felt Zack's arm slip away from my shoulders as he stood up. "What's up, man?" Jarred grinned, pounding fists with the other guy.

Zack shrugged and glanced down at me. "Just chilling with the chica. If I were you, I'd dump that Hamilton girl and run to Delmar. She's worth the pain and drama." Zack winked at me, flashing me his signature smile as I blushed crazily. God, did he have any idea what he was doing?

However, Jarred seemed completely unfazed by his comments as opposed to the girl hanging off his arm at that moment. Elena was absolutely livid, her face a tomato red as if she was about to explode. The glare she was giving Zack was menacing, but if he noticed, he obviously didn't care.

"I'm sure she is." Jarred laughed, smirking at me. I bowed my head, not wanting this sudden attention from two of the maybe fifteen heart throbs on campus. One was more than overwhelming, but two? It was enough to make any girl swoon. "But I'm taken, if you haven't realized." He continued slowly, planting a soft kiss on Elena's temple. "You should take a shot. Maybe you'll get lucky."

My cheeks were growing warmer as the two guys began laughing. I was more than ready to attack Zack for the embarrassment. He was seriously going to get it later. "Hey, maybe I will. It's Lauren Delmar after all."

"Okay!" I shrieked before Jarred could get another word in. I picked up my bag, slinging it over my shoulder. "I get the point! Can we just please… please get to class now?"

"Whatever you want, babe." Zack laughed, gently bumping shoulders with me. Suddenly, he leaned forward, placing his mouth by my ear. He grasped my elbow tightly, pulling me towards him. "He's green. He's reeking of jealousy." With that said, he distanced himself and grinned before walking away with his backpack gently hitting his side. I watched as he jumped on top of his best friend, who just happened to be walking in that direction.

This is why Zackary Ko is officially one of the coolest guys on campus.

I turned back to Elena and Jarred, who were both looking at me with suspicion, or at least Elena was. Jarred was more than openly glaring at Zack's departing back. Maybe he was right for once in his life. Then again, Zack wasn't valedictorian at his high school for nothing.

Jarred finally managed to untangle himself from Elena's death grip as she walked the ten minute walk to her next class that was starting in three minutes. We climbed up the steps towards our economics class in complete silence. By the time we reached the room, he still hadn't said anything. I made a move to enter, but Jarred quickly stopped me.

I cast him a questioning look as he remained momentarily silent. "You and Zack." He paused for a second as if trying to figure out himself what he was about to ask. "What…"

"What's going on?" I finished for him as he nodded once in response. Absolutely nothing! I wanted to shriek. Was he so stupid as to realize that maybe I liked him and have for almost all of college? But for some reason, my brain couldn't seem to formulate the truth. The words slipped before I could even fathom the damage I had just done.

"We're going out."

I hadn't even realized I said it until I saw that flash of pain on Jarred's face. I let out a small peep, before running into the room. I sat down in my seat which was thankfully on the other side from Jarred. If I had to face him again, who knows what other bullshit I might begin verbally spewing.

That's when it struck me when I saw Max Olander greet me as he sat down next to me. Max Olander and Zackary Ko lived in the same house with two others, and were extremely tight as both best friends and teammates on the university varsity soccer team. Nonetheless, his presence brought me back to reality.

What the hell was I going to tell Zack now?


After dealing with a crazy Dale (who did not take the situation lightly), I was literally sprinting the two miles to Zack's house. The weather wasn't so bad, considering how it was still in the warmer days of September. Turning the corner, I silently cheered noticing that the lights were still on in the living room. I slowed down to a slight jog and walked up their steps.

Catching my breath, I gathered up all the strength I had and knocked thrice on the wooden door. Someone suddenly shrieked 'noses!' and all chaos ensued. I waited patiently as the four inhabitants argued about who was going to answer the door. Impatience was starting to gather up within me, but I squashed it. I didn't have the right to get mad; when Zack found out what I said, he was going to massacre me.

The door suddenly wrenched open and Chris Zhao stood there, shirtless and rubbing his eyes tiredly. Zack and Chris were the "Asian Dream Team" as they liked to call themselves, despite the fact that Zack was only half. Both were a major asset to the varsity soccer team as well as being two-fifteenths of the desired guys on campus.

"Hey Lauren." He yawned, pulling the door open wider when he realized I was standing there. "Come on in."

I smiled at him and stepped in as he shut the door behind me. I had only been in the house twice before this time for a project I was working on with the other roommate Eliot Carroll. They weren't like other guys; I noticed that everything actually had a place and there was a singular theme for each individual room. It seemed like they had truly put time and dedication into making the house come together.

"Oy, stop staring at the screen for one second won't you?" Chris snapped, suddenly out of his previous sleepy haze. He reached for a discarded shirt on the back of a sofa, pulling it over his quite impressive abs. "We actually have a guest so mind your manners, bitches. I'm going to sleep. See you in the morning."

I glanced up at the clock, casting Chris a look. Who went to sleep at half past nine? Apparently Chris Zhao.

The other three chorused a 'good night' as Chris clicked his tongue impatiently. "Sorry." He apologized. "It's the N64. They seem to be slightly absorbed by the awesome power of Super Smash Brothers." With that said, he strolled over to the console and ignoring their protests to move out of the way, he did the worst thing a man could imagine.

With his foot, he turned off the game before running upstairs into his room. "Zhao, you're going to die tomorrow!" Max yelled, reaching for the remote control. Pushing the input button, it turned back to regular television. "Oh, hey Lauren." He said, finally noticing my awkward self standing in the middle of the living room. "What's up?"

"Hey guys." I responded, nodding at each of them before letting my eyes fall on Zack, who was openly glaring daggers at me. Shit, he must have already seen Jarred some time between two in the afternoon and now. I was screwed. "I was actually hoping to talk with Zack so if you don't mind my borrowing him for a few minutes?"

"Go right ahead." Eliot grinned, waving Zack away. "We don't need the man."

"Hah." Zack scoffed, pushing himself off the couch. "When you guys decide food isn't a necessity then I'll be useless. But until then, sit down and shut up. You're coming with me, Delmar."

He grabbed my arm and literally dragged me outside. He shut the door tightly behind him before pacing relentlessly in front of me. The air suddenly became so tense it was nearly unbearable. I had never ever seen Zack like this in the three years I had known him and honestly, I think I'd be better off not seeing this again.

"Okay." Zack rubbed his face furiously, running his hand through his hair a few times before turning to me. "You and Jarred. What did you say to him after I left?"

I grasped my hands tightly, twisting them as I tried to find the words to explain the situation. My mouth opened a few times, but nothing ever came out. Pure silence filled the space between us as guilt washed upon me. God, I had just dragged Zack into a situation that had absolutely nothing to do with him. Bad timing, that was it.

"How about I help you?" Zack snapped, stopping in front of me. "You told Jarred Davenport that you and I were going out for some reason outside of your economics class. Then he confronted me about it at the dining hall so I had to make up some bullshit lies about how we had gotten together last night at the frat party. Now he thinks that we're going steady when you clearly just gave up your chance of telling him the truth about how you feel. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?" he ended, his voice a low whisper.

I merely gulped, shaking my head. I was too scared to use my voice in fear that I would say something stupid again. Knowing me, it'd happen very soon. "Tell him the truth, won't you Lauren?" he pleaded. "I don't like lying to him, and I'm sure you don't either."

"No." I replied immediately. "I refuse to. He doesn't have to know. If he likes me, he'll come forward eventually, which I doubt anyway."

"So… what are you saying Delmar." Zack asked, leaning back against the house. "You're not telling Davenport the truth about our so-called relationship? We're just going to go through with this for what? To make him jealous?" He let out a wry laugh at that. "God, that sounds so high school. We're what, twenty-one, almost twenty-two… not seventeen Lauren."

"I know." I paused again, something I appeared to be doing very frequently recently. I tried to swallow my words, to fix it to make it sound reasonable. But I failed yet again. "But I want to give that a shot."

Zack suddenly let out a cough, possibly choking on his own saliva as he stared at me in shock. "Are you crazy?" he hissed, throwing his arms down to his side. "What's this going to accomplish, huh? Are you gonna see if he'll be jealous of our fake relationship? Do you think he'll come running to you? What if he does the opposite and clings to Hamilton, thinking that he won't have a chance with you anymore? God, think for once in your life, won't you?"

"I did," I retorted, crossing my arms against my chest, "and I frankly don't care. Make him see what he's missing. Plus, it'll be my first college relationship. You can help me walk through the steps to have a successful future, alright?"

"You," he groaned, completely mussing up his dark hair, "are impossible."

"Zaaaack." I whined, latching myself to his arm. "Pleeease, I'm begging you."

"God, girls like you suck." He retorted, not looking at me. "I don't even understand the purpose of these ploys. Someone always gets emotionally hurt; is it even worth it in the end?"

"Yes." I instantly replied without any hesitation.

Zack finally looked down at me, locking eyes. A small smirk tugged at the corner of his lips as laughter rung in his eyes. "Sadist." He laughed, pulling away from me. "But that's what I like about you. Are you sure about this?"

I nodded, biting my lip. Was he seriously going along with this? Zackary Ko had such an enormous heart; I could never repay him for this. "Yeah. I'm positive."

"You are a terrible, terrible person, playing with Davenport's heart like a toy. You'll break my friend's soul. But if it means getting him away from that Hamiltonian leech, I'll do it. The things I do for you, Delmar. I better be getting something good out of this." He added quickly, a smile gracing his features.

"You get me." With that said, I stuck out my tongue at him and ran down the steps and back towards my own house.


Author's Note

Fluff, fluff, fluff, cliche-ity, fluff, fluff, fluff, yay! Who doesn't love it because I sure as hell do.

So call me crazy, but I suddenly got this idea yesterday and I absolutely had to write it down. I'm actually making it a tradition of mine to finish one story every summer by making it less than fifteen chapters. This is going to be my short story of 2008, since Kiss Me, Kate was for 2007. I had a lot of fun writing this, so hopefully updates will fly like a monster. Not only is it similar in length (yet not really), it goes with my theme of cliche, fluff, and just plain old summer fun for this story.

I unfortunately do not own the N64 or Super Smash Brothers, basically the coolest inventions known to mankind. I hope you liked this and I'm praying that updates will be über fast since I actually have quite a lot written. I want to finish this before summer's over, or at least finish writing and update frequently in the fall.

No fear, Alex North and Conner Flannery will be the next ones updated.